Patrick Bateman knew the value of a good business card in the eighties - but then so did the gangs of Chicago. It was a more refined time when gangs identified each other by exchanging cards, emblazoned with amateur art and colorful nicknames, betraying an overlapping interest in violence, smoking pot, racism, dissing other gangs, and unicorns. Via.
Ten years is a long time on the internet, isn't it? This blog turned ten two months ago - and Derek's Big Website of Wal-Mart Receipts is now ten years old, too. I uploaded everything shortly before leaving on Thanksgiving vacation, 1999, started sending out emails and submitting to 'best of the web' sites, and within a week or so hits started coming in. It didn't change a whole lot in the big picture of the world (although there's rumors that Fark was influenced), but in those pre-blog days of "websites", 1998 - 2000 was a wellspring of independent wierdness.
Today's airline bombing fears are driven by political and terrorist acts, but most early aircraft bombings had something else in mind: insurance payouts. The Albert Guay incident in 1949 and UA flight 629 in 1955 were both planes brought down by explosives placed by murderous relatives interested in a big payout; sadly, both succeeded in killing their target, but in both cases the culprit was brought to justice. Suicide-for-insurance is also believed to have played a part in several airline bombings.
Kottke has posted a cool caricature map of Europe circa WWI - what he doesn't explain is that the poster is part of the book Leviathan, by Scott Westerfeld, a young adult steampunk title that came out last month from Simon Pulse. The map linked by Kottke is very true to the style - caricature maps are a real thing, and you can see more here.
Ogeorgeism: a euphemism for marital infidelity, used only once in history by my measure. I'm enjoying the archives of the Fargo Argus, a long-defunct, wittily-written newspaper from this area. In June 1880, the Argus wrote, regarding the infamous Christiancy divorce, "The minister accuses his wife of ogeorgeism, while she returns with the accusation of cruelty." The etymology of the word seems lost to the ages. For a thorough documentation of the Christiancy divorce story, also from Quondam Washington: part 2, part 3, part 4, part 5.
Lignum Vitae: The Wood of Life. Merlin's staff was rumored to be made of this wood, a fact not lost on Harry Potter afficianados. As a hardwood, it is highly decorative in furniture; as an oily wood, it is a self-lubricating bearing for shipbuilding.
Mythopoeia: the act of creating, usually through writing, a new mythology. JRR Tolkein was the first to coin the term, in a poetic response to C.S. Lewis. Tolkein is also cited as a shining example of the mythopoeic genre of fiction: The Lord of the Rings is at once derivitive of medieval mythology, but unique in its character as a fully-fledged mythos complete with creation myths, varying scales of deities and mystical creatures, spiritual good and evil, magic, and mysteries of the universe. Being mythopoeic pretty much guarantees falling under either the 'fantasy' or 'science fiction' (see Star Wars) umbrellas - while the best of the mythos-manufacturing genre are acknowledged and rewarded for their skills by the Mythopoeic Society and their annual Mythopoeic Awards.
In 1867, the purchase of Alaska was ridiculed as "Seward's Folly." Russia had been trying to unload it on some unsuspecting buyer, and Canada was nowhere near far enough west as to make it worthwhile to them. Now, a hundred and fifty years later, was Seward right? Nope, not really. Sure, the gold rushes and oil and population growth have resulted in tax revenue, but according to a new report out of the University of Iowa, the U.S. Government has, since we got Alaska, spent way more on Alaska than we've gotten out of it. Palin cracks aside, it's good to know that we're not getting our money's worth for Alaska - but, really, tax money isn't a profit-gaining prospect for a country. If anything, the report should be a gauge for correcting spending imbalances, rather than calling a whole state a failure; Seward wouldn't approve.
The University of Waterloo's Department of Applied Mathematics occupies a stark and geometrically striking building, built in May 1968, called the Math and Computers Building, or "MC". The design wasn't utilitarianly beauty-free: according to apocrypha, the architecture was intended to look like a slide rule from the side - but also, to protect the valuable computers inside, the walls are designed to collapse outward in the event of a nuclear strike. Via.
I always buy cameras at a thrift shop if it has film in it; I, sadly, have yet to get a camera with viable pictures. I've bought secondhand digital cameras with pictures still on them (here's a few), though. The blog I Found Your Camera, however, hopes you'll send them in, because maybe, just maybe, the original owners are still looking for them. If not, at least we can all be voyeurs for just a few minutes, enjoying the vacations and holidays of others - and, unlike the olden days of being trapped for hours of vacation slides at Uncle Phil's, you can leave whenever you want.