‘The hidden track dates all the way back to The Beatles’ Abbey Road, which includes “Her Majesty,” a 23-second unlisted song at the end of the album’s second side. Since then, many bands have surprised their fans with secret songs, though many of them are merely discordant noise or otherwise eminently forgettable. Sometimes, though, these tracks are hidden gems that deserve to be heard. For that reason, we decided to put together a list of the very best hidden tracks, and listened to dozens of them to find the standouts.’ (The Top 13)
‘It’s not easy to come up with a volcano name that forces people to sound like they’ve got something jammed down their throats, but someone’s gotta do it. Here’s the trick to doing it properly.‘ (Gizmodo)
My friend Julia Suits, New Yorker cartoonist, just sent me a copy of this book by Jag Bhalla, of which she is the illustrator. I don’t know if Julia knows of my fascination with linguistic curiosities but this is right up my browsing alley. It is a delightful book, all about idioms from other cultures. I recall one of my favorite browsing books, Howard Rheingold‘s They Have a Word for It, about untranslatable concepts other cultures embody in native words. Bhalla turned my head when he pointed out in the introduction to the present volume that idioms are essentially expressions that are untranslatable in their own language!
And Suits’ wonderful illustrations, with their absurd and at times surreal literality, are perfect amplifications of the incongruity Bhalla sets out to depict.
‘Richard Dawkins, the atheist campaigner, is planning a legal ambush to have the Pope arrested during his state visit to Britain “for crimes against humanity”.’ (Times.UK)
Dawkins feels this is abit inaccurate:
‘Needless to say, I did NOT say “I will arrest Pope Benedict XVI” or anything so personally grandiloquent. So all the vicious attacks on me for seeking publicity etc are misplaced. The headline is, in fact, a barefaced lie.
Marc Horne, the Sunday Times reporter, telephoned me out of the blue and asked whether I was aware of the initiative by Geoffrey Robertson and Mark Stephens to mount a legal challenge to the Pope’s visit. Yes, I said. He asked me if I was in favour of their initiative. Yes, I said, I am strongly in favour of it. Beyond that, I declined to comment to Marc Horne, other than to refer him to my ‘Ratzinger is the Perfect Pope’ article here: http://richarddawkins.net/articles/5341
How the headline writer could go from there to “Richard Dawkins: I will arrest Pope Benedict XVI” is obscure to me.
The history is as follows. Christopher Hitchens first proposed to me the idea of a legal challenge to the Pope’s visit on March 14th. I responded enthusiastically, and suggested the name of a high profile human rights lawyer whom I know. I had lost her address, however, and set about tracking her down. Meanwhile, Christopher made the brilliant suggestion of Geoffrey Robertson. He approached him, and Mr Robertson’s subsequent ‘Put the Pope in the Dock’ article in The Guardian shows him to be ideal:
The case is obviously in good hands, with him and Mark Stephens. I am especially intrigued by the proposed challenge to the legality of the Vatican as a sovereign state whose head can claim diplomatic immunity.
Even if the Pope doesn’t end up in the dock, and even if the Vatican doesn’t cancel the visit, I am optimistic that we shall raise public consciousness to the point where the British government will find it very awkward indeed to go ahead with the Pope’s visit, let alone pay for it.’
‘Ryanair, which is based in Dublin, Ireland, and bills itself as “Europe’s first and largest low fares airline,” is mulling a plan that would require travelers to pay either 1 euro or 1 British pound (about $1.33 or $1.52) for using the bathroom on flights lasting one hour or less.’ (CNN.com)
‘…I see lots of these optical illusion posts on the web, and although some of them are pretty impressive, this one borders on voodoo.’ (Make Online)
‘By scrutinizing your purchases, credit companies try to figure out if your life is about to change—so they’ll know what to sell you.If you ever doubted the power of the credit card companies, consider this: Visa, the world’s largest credit card network, can predict how likely you are to get a divorce. There’s no consumer-protection legislation for that.’ (The Daily Beast)
‘…Scientists have developed a way of bulking up an ordinary T-shirt to create wearable armor. By splicing the carbon in the cotton with boron, the third hardest material on the planet, researchers at the University of South Carolina markedly increased the fabric’s toughness. The result is a lightweight shirt reinforced with boron carbide—the same material used to shield military tanks.’ (Ecouterre)
I don’t know why, but I want one of these.
More evidence the Obama administration has its priorities right, although not right enough: “The Obama administration is adopting a new policy limiting the circumstances under which the U.S. would use nuclear weapons, keeping with the president’s pledge to give the nuclear arsenal a less prominent role in U.S. defense strategy.” (Yahoo! News)
Abstract: “A variety of neurological problems have affected the lives of giants in the jazz genre. Cole Porter courageously remained prolific after severe leg injuries secondary to an equestrian accident, until he succumbed to osteomyelitis, amputations, depression, and phantom limb pain. George Gershwin resisted explanations for uncinate seizures and personality change and herniated from a right temporal lobe brain tumor, which was a benign cystic glioma. Thelonious Monk had erratic moods, reflected in his pianism, and was ultimately mute and withdrawn, succumbing to cerebrovascular events. Charlie Parker dealt with mood lability and drug dependence, the latter emanating from analgesics following an accident, and ultimately lived as hard as he played his famous bebop saxophone lines and arpeggios. Charles Mingus hummed his last compositions into a tape recorder as he died with motor neuron disease. Bud ‘Powell had severe posttraumatic headaches after being struck by a police stick defending Thelonious Monk during a Harlem club raid.’ Neurological problems of jazz legends. (J Child Neurol. 2009)
Collateral Murder: ‘WikiLeaks has released a classified US military video depicting the indiscriminate slaying of over a dozen people in the Iraqi suburb of New Baghdad — including two Reuters news staff.
Reuters has been trying to obtain the video through the Freedom of Information Act, without success since the time of the attack. The video, shot from an Apache helicopter gun-site, clearly shows the unprovoked slaying of a wounded Reuters employee and his rescuers. Two young children involved in the rescue were also seriously wounded.’
‘In the bestselling His Dark Materials books, author Philip Pullman depicted the church as a corrupt and murderous bureaucracy and God as senile, frail and impotent. And, despite condemnation by the Christian right, Pullman has now taken on the Gospels directly. In his new story, he writes that Jesus had a manipulative twin brother, Christ, who tempted him in the wilderness and betrayed him to the authorities.’ (Guardian.UK)
Thanks to walker for pointing me, in response to my reflections on the “Niagara Falls” skits below, to this New York Times piece by two copyright lawyers on an escalating dispute between two comedians over the theft of a joke. Intellectual property law is not very useful in the world of stand-up comedy. Rights to clever jokes are enforced by complex and well-worked-out social norms instead of (and sometimes in contravention of) the law.
“Comedians provide a fascinating picture of how some creative communities depend on informal rules of conduct, rather than legal rules, to maintain adequate incentives to create new work.”