The incident took place in June 2007 at a factory in Bålsta,
north of Stockholm, when the industrial worker was trying to carry out
maintenance on a defective machine generally used to lift heavy rocks.
Thinking he had cut off the power supply, the man approached the robot
with no sense of trepidation.
But the robot suddenly came to life and grabbed a tight hold of the
victim's head. The man succeeded in defending himself but not before
suffering serious injuries.
...What good can be said of a woman who sleeps with
two of the most powerful men of her age, however? The fathers of
Cleopatra’s children were men of voracious and celebrated sexual
appetites. Cleopatra has gone down in history as a wanton seductress.
She is the original bad girl, the Monica Lewinsky of the ancient world.
And all because she turns up at one of the most dangerous intersections
in history, that of women and power.
She presides eternally
over the chasm between promiscuity and virility, the forest of
connotations that separate “adventuress” from “adventurer.” Women
schemed while men strategized in the ancient world, too. And female
power asserted itself regularly, if more covertly than it had on the
Greek stage. In a first century B.C. marriage contract, a woman
promises to be faithful and attentive — and to not add love potions to
her husband’s food. Clever women, Euripides had already warned, are
...She does not so much bump up against a glass
ceiling as tumble through a trapdoor, the one that dismisses women by
sexualizing them. As Margaret Atwood has written of Jezebel, “The
amount of sexual baggage that has accumulated around this figure is
astounding, since she doesn’t do anything remotely sexual in the
original story, except put on makeup.” In Cleopatra’s case, the sheer
absence of truth has guaranteed the legend. Where facts are few, myth
rushes in, the kudzu of history...
...Of course we mean to
resolve the unresolved. We clamor for the black box of history. In some
essential way we want confirmation too that we live on the same planet
as did the legend that inspired two millenniums of overheated prose,
that what feels like myth was really history. We thirst for
exactitudes. We want to see and fondle the myth in all its
scintillating splendor, forgetting that as we do so it turns back — the
reverse Midas touch — into the dross of history. If and when we find
Cleopatra, if and when a face can be fitted to her, do we promise to
give up Elizabeth Taylor once and for all? Will we opt for the lady or
the legend? Is something lost when she is found? Octavian had his
agenda, and we have ours.
No matter what the tombs of Taposiris
yield, they are unlikely to offer up an answer to the vexed question of
women and power. For that we have to dig elsewhere. It may take a
Mixing up your OLC memos? Can't keep your enhanced interrogations straight? Foreign Policy, which not too long ago implemented a generally improved web redesign, has this very useful (and terrifying) timeline of torture.
You will understand why, when I received the random press release below, I considered for quite some time whether it was in fact an elaborate hoax from this Dave Hill:
Turns out there is another Dave Hill, and he apparently works in the hip-hop magazine promotion biz. Although my Dave Hill -- or really, our Dave Hill -- did tell me that he has written for XXL in the past. "I am street!" were his words. And now, the source of confusion:
From: Dave Hill Date: April 14, 2009 3:20:40 PM PDT Subject: TRUE Magazine 10th Year Anniversary Party This Friday
TRUE Magazine has been declared the hottest Independent Hip- Hop & Fashion Magazine on the stands for years. Through the tough times and the good times in Hip-Hop, TRUE Magazine has been there giving our readers food for thought on Independent Hip-Hop & Fashion. This April, we now celebrate our 10th Anniversary with a celebration that will show thanks to all who has helped TRUE Magazine become what it is today. Friday, April 17th we are having our “Official TRUE Magazine Party” with special host of stars who has graced the covers of the magazine with special performances. It all goes down at MOOD, 6623 Hollywood Blvd and on April 19th, we will have a special invite for all of our VIP attendees to cool down near the pool to relax and mingle with TRUE Magazine’s Fly Girls that have been showcased in the pages of TRUE. Sunday’s event is at the “Blue Velvet” an edgy residential design restaurant and lounge. Attending the events will be a high-energy mix of music producers, artists, tastemakers, and VIP attendees. All of the events will have a strong celebrity presence and have the tastemakers of today mingling and partying the nights away.
Friday Night – “The Official Party” – Mood , 6623 Hollywood Blvd Event Time - 9:30pm -3:00am Red Carpet Time - 9:30pm -11:00pm Sunday Night – “The Pool Party” – Blue Velvet 750 Garland Ave # 102, Los Angeles, CA 90017 Event Time - 9:30pm -2am
All media coverage & to walk the red carpet: Media credentials are available only for working media who wish to cover the TRUE Magazine's 10th Anniversary Party. Your clients who would love to walk the red carpet please contact us for approval. A list of Celebrities and Media will be sent upon request. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Currently with TRUE Magazine Currently TRUE Magazine leading the trends by taken over the internet waves with the new digital version of TRUE magazine which is giving out for free? This issues cover story Camron has been heating the blogs, websites and personal pages up with the videos of the interview and the cover of the magazine which shows the support that TRUE Magazine has from its readers. You can check out the stats for yourself just Google “TRUE Magazine, Camron” and see for yourself.
..that you wouldn't even need this instructional video:
Save some for the rest of us, wily prestidigitators! The power of magic is so strong that in one of the central recreations, there seems at first to be no magic demonstrated. A guy in a super cool white suit is standing around in a super cool bar, trying to hit on the super cool waitress who is wearing a super cool captain hat with a bedazzled brim. He wants to meet when she gets off at 11.
Then the says: How do I know you're not a weirdo?
And then he says: I'm not a weirdo.
And that's it! See? She suspected he was a weirdo. But then he half-heartedly says he's not a weirdo. Magic! It's like one card monte -- the exclusive province of the high masters!
Nifty: Christian Moeller, an artist, mounted a cargo ship propeller on a giant robotic arm which is programmed to shift itself around randomly, producing the effect of viewers facing massive, sentient-seeming DaisyTron. (Moeller calls his creation just "Daisy." And, according to his website, it is a she.) Even niftier: there are sensors in the thing that know when someone is there. So when you step into the room, the Daisy becomes interested and follows you across the room. The effect is as intriguing as it is vaguely menacing, given the thing's size. And the fact that we know the robotic megaflora will one day control the earth.
When I lived in Germany in the mid-90s, you know what three things were strangely popular? David Hasselhof, the song "Come On Eileen," by Dexi's Midnight Runners, and ALF. The show had been canceled in the states five years earlier but was in the middle of a syndication renaissance in central Europe. At every turn there was ALF paraphernalia of all kinds; one favorite was the many coloring books where you could take your crayon and participate in your own furry extraterrestrial hijinx, which, as we know, often wound up with Gordon Shumway (yes, I recall ALF's name on his home planet) trying to eat the cats. A typical scenario:
"Wo ist denn der Lucky?" ("Where is Lucky?" inquires Kate about the cat as she walks in on ALF in the kitchen.)
"Weiss ich nicht!" ("Not sure!" says, ALF, hiding a pie, from which emerges a cat tail)
I'm not saying which way I stand, but for those cat lovers uncomfortable with ALF's hilarious dietary interest, you may finally rejoice. Someone has taken the trouble to vividly picture his hilarious commeuppance:
Remember the moment, in the mid-1990s, when you stopped, looked around, and realized that there was a halogen Torchiere lamp in every home, apartment, and dorm room in the country? Available for fifteen bucks, a hundred million of these things found their way into so many households that the sinister implications were inescapable: with their long stems and wide parabolic reflectors, the torchieres looked like some kind of antennae, and it was not inconceivable that we would wake up one day and all of them would be pointed in the same direction, ready to accept signal instructions from somewhere near Globular Cluster XJ417 and activate their secondary function as a domestically integrated fifth column of anti-human death rays. Torchiere indeed.
The Torchieres may be mostly gone, but don't rest easy yet. Still among us are millions of cows, whose collective hive mind may be even spooker, seeing as how it has been recently documented that cows apparently align themselves in the same direction. That's right: cows world-wide are communicating, and have been all this time. Either with each other, or with the earth's magnetic field. "Amazingly," according to the article, "this ubiquitous phenomenon does not seem to have been
noticed by herdsmen, ranchers, or hunters." How clever of the cows to hide their efforts all these years. And not just cows! Deer too, says the study. Probably all the ungulates. Watch out is all I'm saying. Luckily, it seems like electricity can disrupt the invisible bovine attack network.So if the time comes, you know what to do.
First the IBM 704 sang it, then a malfunctioning HAL 9000, and now the internet. It's Daisy Bell -- or, a Bicycle Built for Two Thousand. That would be the number of voices compiled into this rendition. Which is spookier, the computer singing it solo, or our collective borg voice? The answer is B. And get ready for more, because this is what it will sound like when Twitter becomes sentient and decides to start belting out popular tunes from the 19th century.
So the rumors are true: Pernod Ricard is selling Wild Turkey, which Pernod claims is "not a strategic brand." Apparently, Pernod headquarters did not receive and review my long-in-the-works marketing plan for a vertically integrated, 21st-century cocktail that would spread Pernod elegance throughout the modern "barplace" by combining:
2 parts Pernod aux extraits d'Absinthe, frozen into cubes
1.75 parts room temperature Wild Turkey
3 parts Malibu coconut-flavored rum (another fine spirit in the PR family)
At last, a barkeep's recipe that is as easy as it is delicious:
Pour Wild Turkey over Absinthe cubes.
Raise glass to light and admire.
Mix in that Malibu. (Ratio is suggested, but ultimately unimportant, as we all know that there is no such thing as too much Malibu.)
Then, the coup de grace: 1 box ultra-homogenized boxed milk, any variety, chilled. Or hot. Whatever's clever!
Pour to taste, and enjoy while pondering the vast history of man and his cocktails, stretching back to the
origins when the Neanderthal tribe built their first distillery at Stonehenge.
Call it the Ultimate Sundowner, or call it The Bearmaniac -- this cocktail would have offered a drinking experience like no other and surely swept the nation, single-handedly ensuring Pernod's interest in the American whiskey market for decades to come. But, alas, it is not mean to be. Wild Turkey will be owned by Campari. And we all know that there never was, is, nor shall there ever be Campari in any version of The Bearmaniac.
Today, I saw a blind man with an impeccable Van Dyke. Dude must have bought some kind of special attachment for the GoateeSaver, although I don't see any add-ons on the site or in the FAQ. There is, however, a snappy logo. Guess what it looks like? By the way: I feel like I must point out that the GoateeSaver's promotional copy states that "[the goatee] reflects your personality. It declares your individuality. Your
goatee is much more than just facial hair, your goatee style helps
fashion your identity. We understand its importance to you. That's why
we created the GoateeSaver shaving template, the innovative grooming
tool designed to give you the perfect goatee every time you shave." Quite the rhetorical promise -- one that is belied by the use of the GoateeSaver, because if we are to accept that your goatee bestows individuality upon your face -- which is something I'm not willing to stipulate, but for argument's sake -- then any such individuality will be erased by this pattern-making device! Goateed men of the world should see at this machine as the enemy. They should rebel against the mechanization of their facial hair expression. They should cast their GoateeSavers from the nearest cliff. Or, better yet, maybe they should cast their goatees from the nearest cliff. Or at least from their faces.
That's what some girl with a dream catcher and ankle length skirt looked up from her book on Tarot secrets to tell me at a coffee shop back in high school. What about the arrow of time? Nope. A circle, said the wise one. Well, advances in flash technology prove her right.
We knew that monkeys paid for sex as soon as they learn what money is. But that's in a lab, a controlled setting, where who knows what kinds of tricks the labcoats used to pervert their monkey minds. Turns out, though, monkeys in the wild don't need money to develop a "strangers with benefits" relationship. They'll happily barter for low-level prostitution. Not only that, the exchange can be delayed. They remember who gave what when and how much and how much monkey business it was worth.
Last year, my pal James Verini wrote an extensive piece in Portfolio about the problem -- and related policy hypocrisy -- that allows the entire discussion of "border protection" to be exclusively focused on the drugs coming in (along with their attending violence) while ignoring the southward trafficking in the weapons that fuel that violence. Basically, no one here has been willing to admit that the United States is arming its adversaries in the self-proclaimed drug war.
Not any more. Newly minted Homeland Security Secretary has announced that, as the New York Times put it: "what leaves the country is as much a risk to their security as what comes in." Now, there will be inspections going south. That won't stop gun nuts and gun shows from selling customized Colts like the El Presidente (to add that personalized touch your gangland assassinations). And there won't be enough resources to scrutinize. But it's a good start, as evidenced by the fact that just a few hours before Napolitano arrived at the border for photo op, an American couple going south was stopped and found to be carrying 10 grenades; $122,000 in cash; a barrel for a sniper
rifle; a cache of high-caliber ammunition; and their five year old child!
Classicist Mary Beard has discovered a joke book from the 4th century AD, filled with rib-ticklers from the late Roman Empire. Just like today, the old egghead is a source of tremendous humor, along with other frequently targeted figures of fun, such as eunuchs (of course), and people with hernias. And apparently, people from Abdera in Thrace were really stupid!
DOG REUNITED WITH OWNERS AFTER FOUR-MONTH ISLAND GOAT FEAST
A CANINE castaway lost at sea has been
reunited with her owners after spending more than four months living
off goats on a Queensland island.
Griffith said her family were devastated when their cattle dog, Sophie
Tucker, fell off the side of their boat in choppy waters off the Mackay
coast in north Queensland in late November.
But unbeknown to them, their hardy hound swam five nautical miles to
St Bees Island, where she survived until last week by hunting baby
She was last week returned to her family after rangers captured what they believed was a wild dog.
Ms Griffith said she and her husband had contacted rangers after
friends suggested the dog - who had earned a name for herself on the
island - might be their long-lost pet.
Last Tuesday the couple met the rangers' boat as it ferried the dog
back to the mainland and were blown away to find Sophie Tucker on board.
"We called the dog and she started whimpering and banging the cage
and they let her out and she just about flattened us,'' Ms Griffith
"She wriggled around like a mad thing.''
But even more unbelievable was hearing how their domesticated "inside'' dog had survived, she said.
"She had looked really poor (on the island), the story was, and then
all of a sudden she started to look good and it was when the rangers
had found baby goat carcases so she'd started eating baby goats,'' she
"We think she'd swum close to five nautical miles from the boat
where she went in and then some people believe she went backwards and
forwards from Keswick to St Bees.''
Ms Griffith said their pet had been quick to embrace her now easier existence - complete with air conditioning.
If the television signal from this Vermont Teddy Bear ad travels at
186,000 miles per second, how long will it take before it arrives at
the solar system of Alpha Centauri, located 4.37 light years away?
If we assume that the intelligent life there is capable of space travel
at 75% the speed of light, on what day (be precise!) will the earth be
annihilated by the hordes of extremely irritated alien creatures?
Only condoms can protect the world from the Mr. Burnses that live in your testicles. Or at least, that is how I translate this (good thing Swedish is required in the Pasadena Unified School District!):
More funny swedish drawings here, at the website of a very nice person with great taste who likes my writing.
Just getting around to reading Wired's recap on the Gaussian Copula, or the formula that destroyed the world banking system. Or, really, the formula that allowed the world banking system to destroy itself.
The GC, as I like to call it, is not news; the Wall Street Journal ran a prescient story with the headline "How a Formula Ignited Market That Burned Some Big Investors" back in 2005. I'd picked that up from perusing the ever-informative blog, Information Processing. Still, the Wired story is a good summary. Basic story: David Li, a former Chinese peasant farmer who became a mathematician at JPMorgan Chase, published a paper, "On Default Correlation: A Copula Function Approach," in The Journal of Fixed Income. Who doesn't read the JFI these days, right? Li offered a formula that allowed the market to price default risk by correlation rather than historical data. The false sense of security engendered by having a formula — with numbers even! — is what created the $60 trillion fabulism known as credit default swaps. Not to mention the $4 trillion in regular CDOs. What everyone who was getting rich off these things when the going was good chose to forget was that it would not always be so. The key numbers in Li's formula are not immutable — gammas, not pi; calculations, as opposed to constants. Darn.
By the way, the WSJ pointed out all the problems in 2005, long before the subprime crackup. The original is behind a paywall but the key passages are excerpted on the Information Processing post, with highlights of the original article's clear articulations of the model's flaws and the invisible markets it created.
Most interesting point, mostly missed by the Wired story: the whole idea is borrowed from the actuarial science of broken hearts. People die sooner when their spouse dies. They're seemingly unrelated events that are related, and have a correlation, and statisticians have used copulas to correlate them for some time. This was the idea that Li borrowed that idea for formula. Broken hearts indeed!
From Politico. (Not up on Time's site yet.) On the behavioral science of Obama's change campaign and administration:
weeks before election Day, Barack Obama's campaign was mobilizing
millions of supporters; it was a bit late to start rewriting
get-out-the-vote (GOTV) scripts. ‘BUT, BUT, BUT,’ field director Mike
Moffo wrote to Obama's GOTV operatives nationwide, ‘What if I told you
a world-famous team of genius scientists, psychologists and economists
wrote down the best techniques for GOTV scripting?!?! Would you be
interested in at least taking a look? Of course you would!!’ Moffo then
passed along guidelines and a sample script from the Consortium of
Behavioral Scientists, a secret advisory group of 29 of the nation's
leading behaviorists. The key guideline was a simple message: ‘A Record
Turnout Is Expected.’ That's because studies by psychologist Robert
Cialdini and other group members had found that the most powerful
motivator for hotel guests to reuse towels, national-park visitors to
stay on marked trails and citizens to vote is the suggestion that
everyone is doing it. ‘People want to do what they think others will
do,’ says Cialdini, author of the best seller ‘Influence.’ ‘The Obama
campaign really got that.’
The existence of this behavioral dream team—which also included
best-selling authors Dan Ariely of MIT (Predictably Irrational) and
Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein of the University of Chicago (Nudge)
as well as Nobel laureate Daniel Kahneman of Princeton—has never been
publicly disclosed, even though its members gave Obama white papers on
messaging, fundraising and rumor control as well as voter mobilization.
All their proposals—among them the famous online fundraising lotteries
that gave small donors a chance to win face time with Obama—came with
footnotes to peer-reviewed academic research. … President Obama is
still relying on behavioral science. But now his Administration is
using it to try to transform the country.
Behavioral science—especially the burgeoning field of
behavioral economics that has been popularized by ‘Freakonomics,’ ‘The
Wisdom of Crowds,’ ‘Predictably Irrational,’ ‘Nudge’ and ‘Animal
Spirits,’ which is the new must-read in Obamaworld—is already shaping
dozens of Administration policies. … Obama is no therapist changing
individuals one at a time. He's an organizer trying to build community
and inspire collective action through house parties and Facebook as
well as rhetoric about shared values. In other words, he's trying to
create social norms—behavioral change's killer app.
And I thought peer pressure was only useful for getting your high school lab partner to inhale nitrous oxide. Incidentally, I know I am immune to behavioral economics and come to all my conclusions through rational deliberation. All Grunwald needs, by the way, is a cute mnemonic for it and he'll be giving lectures to businesspeople on how they too can wield the awesome communal powers of change.
Fundamentally understanding the addictive nature of vaguely educational, information-seeking procrastination, this thing combines the stripped-down Essence of Internet -- instantaneous delivery of nifty tidbits -- with the addictive satisfaction of a slot machine. Want another fix? Hit me again! It only takes .73 seconds. Number of Beatles simultaneous No. 1 singles on a certain day in 1964 not quite eyebrow raising enough? How about this: The ‘Crows Nest’ on a ship (the basket near the top of the mast) used
to actually contain a crow, since they invariably head towards
land. Hit me again!
The Zombie Zeitgeist A full scale movement is on the lurch. But why the best zombie movie ever made a video game?
Believer interview with Mark Allen Digital artist and awesome gallerist Mark Allen talks about Tekken Torture Tournament and other projects where people were wired to machines and did strange things in public.
Believer interview with Marjane Satrapi Enlightening Q & A with the Persian cartoonist, memoirist, quick conversationalist in which she declares: “THE WORLD IS NOT ABOUT BATMAN AND ROBIN FIGHTING THE JOKER; THINGS ARE MORE COMPLICATED THAN THAT.”
Yeti Researcher Yet another 100-page issue of the world's top academic journal devoted scholarship about the Yeti, Bigfoot, Sasqatch, and other mystery primates worldwide. For researchers and lay audiences alike, the latest YR features a history of Sasquatch sightings in southern California, an update on the wily orang pendek of Sumatra, and a new look into Teddy Roosevelt's obsession with bagging a Bigfoot. As Editor-in-Chief, I promise you won't be disappointed.
Panda PowerPoint! I guess I don't mind being "the entertainment" when it's at Mark Allen's second annual Holiday Fry-B-Que. Presented: preliminary findings from my ongoing research into the most charismatic megafauna of all: Giant Pandas.
McSweeny's Presents: The World, Explained | Dec 9, 2006 For those who missed it, there will be more. World, Explained is going strong! Money was raised, laughs were had, and for those paying attention, small amounts of useful information about things like the aurora borealis were transmitted. Plus: Michael Cera = lovably funny. And Nick Diamonds' renditions of Dumb Dog and Hanging Tough are still in my head. As is that horribly catchy Fresh Step jam.
Jest Fest at Skylight Books Somehow I wound up hosting the 10th anniversary jubilee for Infinite Jest at Skylight Books. Because who doesn't love a jubilee, right? Despite being delirious with Hepatitis A (that's the mild, non-lethal kind; I'm not at risk for Hep B since I always go the needle share and choose clean-looking prostitutes), I managed to not mis-pronounce anyone's name and make an erudite joke and poke gentle fun at Michael Silverblatt.
McSweeny's Presents: The World, Explained | June 10, 2006 Number Three! Last one was sold out so we moved to a slightly larger theater. Andy Richter hosted, and his opening exegesis of CSI: Miami warmed the people up right. Evany Thomas presented her very scientific findings on the Secret Language of Sleep; Starlee Kine bared her neuroses to the world (or at least the 300 people in the audience); Josh Davis showed video of his 135-lb self sumo wrestling a 550-lb opera singer from San Bernardino; and Davy Rothbart closed it out with some Found Magazine magic. Grant Lee Phillips, Sam Shelton and Zooey Deschanel provided the music punctuation! I can still hear their rendition of We Are the Champions.
McSweeny's Presents: The World, Explained | Feb 11, 2006 The second in our series of precision comedy and fact-based entertainment extravaganzas benefiting 826LA. Patton Oswalt was kind enough to host, and Jon Brion joined in on the piano and guitar as thematic accompaniment. Presenters included: David Rees, Michael Colton, John Hodgman (along with his hirsuit troubadour, Jonathan Coulton), and me. Plus: a fashion show of exciting multi-user garmentry.
Little Gray Book Lecture at Galapagos How to Observe President's Day. Jonathan Coulton's technical wizardry has made this entire show available online. The summary from PRX: Sarah Vowell, John Hodgman and Joshuah Bearman on Presidents' Day, along with a fifteen-piece marching band and a new song about all forty-three presidents. My contribution? Yes, from Yeti Researcher. Again. Actually that was the first one. So I have only five stories!
July 25: TJ to LA -- A Night McSweeney's Readings I was honored to be part of a strange triptych along with Salvador Plascencia and Josh Kun. Sponsored, somehow, by La Ciudad magazine, we all packed into Beyond Baroque with no air conditions. 150 people showed at 7 o'clock on a Friday evening, which we took as a good sign of something. Sal held up and anxiously discussed drawings from his novel, Josh delivered an essay on the Dr. Moreau of Tijuana, and my shtick (again) was Pac Man and metaphysics, this time with fun slides.
October 8th: Skylight Books w/Stephen Elliott Fun times were had by all. Someone in the audience actually mistook me for an expert on the psychology human character. We ate shrimp cocktail and drank cheap wine and laughed at Bush and celebrated the certainty of right besting wrong in American democracy. A lot of good that did.