Posts Tagged ‘history’

Oklahoma: Filling in the Blank

May 1, 2014

So why am I even here in Oklahoma? Why do I continue to live in a state that can’t even kill people on purpose cleanly, accept federal dollars to improve the health care provided to its citizens, resist electing the most extreme kind of dumb-asses the country has to offer, etc?

It’s simple: I was born here, my kids live here and if I were to just write the state off… well, the terrorists would win.

It wasn’t but a year or two ago when a co-worker came to me to ask if it wasn’t true that “Obamacare” required that children be injected with a microchip (“the Mark of the Beast”). 70+ percent of the voters approved a statewide referendum to prohibit ‘Sharia Law’ here. As many people that claim, nationally, their belief that the Hebrew God created the world less than 10,000 years ago, I’d bet that almost twice as many Oklahomans believe the same. If a plurality of my statesmen aren’t home-schoolers that are ‘hooked on phonics’, they wish they had the patience/resources to be.

Oklahoma’s people are largely an ignorant and fearful folk: they fear negroes (especially the President), non-European immigrants, change, secular anything,  books, the commie United Nations, most new ideas and the Big Scary World.  Believe me, I know about Oklahoma. I was born here, grew up here and stayed here.

Believe me: it was not always this FUCKING STUPID A PLACE TO LIVE.   No, the Dark Flame of Ignorance has been carefully tended and stoked to make Oklahoma a Beacon of Idiocy:

  • Governor Mary Frick’n Fallin, the adulterous darling of the Tea Party, has been paid to oppose damned near everything that could make things better for this state while her spoiled brat daughter openly mocks Native Americans
  • Senator James Mountain Inhofe, who has for years been a global laughing-stock over his conspiratorial thinking on human sexuality, climate change and the dang-nabbed 20th Century in general
  • The numb-skull state representative that put a 10 Commandments monument on the grounds of the capitol but couldn’t get the spelling right
  • Another cretin on the state payroll that campaigned against using human fetuses in food products
  • The list goes on and on!

So why am I still living in Oklahoma?

Some amazing things have happened here.
I have fond memories of ‘liquor by the wink’.
Once upon a time, we had the highest per capita membership in the Communist Party in the nation.
Cannabis was once the number one cash crop.
The musicians are amazing here.
The state bird, the scissor-tail flycatcher, is cool.
Gas prices are low.
Maybe I’m too lazy to move and if I did only the Crazies would be left!

Fuck Governor Fallin and all her kind.
Fuck the followers of Oral Roberts and his fellow travellers.
Fuck the Koch Brothers and their veinal scheming.
Fuck all the manipulators of well-meaning Okies! Their hearts are pure, but —

I’m staying here to fill in the blank, the blank that they told me to erase and write something else in (but I won’t!).
I’m staying here to remind them of every time they are so terribly wrong that they pretend like they weren’t.
I’m the fly that stays clear of their patent medicine ointment.
I’m no Tom Joad, but for crying out loud, if people like me left this state, what would be left besides the easily led?
I am an Oklahoman, and I’m  staying here whether they like it or not: I want to rub them the wrong way.

Maybe I’m staying just to annoy the rest of ‘us’… because ‘we’ need to be annoyed.
What they’ve done to us shouldn’t be forgiven or forgotten or excused.
Those bastards did it for money and power and greed, straight up.
I wanna be here to watch the payback, if it ever comes.




As Radio Shack Lays Dying — A Love Letter

March 5, 2014

Once the go-to shop for American geekdom, Radio Shack is closing another 1000 retail outlets. Some blame Amazon, the internet, a dumbed-down consumer even, but Radio Shack really has no-one to blame but themselves.

Radio Shack, we were once friends, lovers even, so take this as friendly advice: abandon your current, worthless PR efforts (after the firing squads are done, anyway) and re-engage with your core market. Or… just die. Preferably quickly.

That sounds harsh, but that’s how things are now.

Regarding your PR: does Toys’R’Us buy ad-space in the ‘Journal of Injection Moulded Plastics’? Of course not.
So why does
 Radio Shack buy ads in magazines catering to electrical engineers? A smiting is warranted by this abject idiocy.

Also, is this lame ‘Do It Together’ campaign the best you can do, a shitty logo with nothing to back it up? How does this engage anyone that doesn’t already shop at Radio Shack? ‘We’re Doing Ourselves’ would have been a more appropriate slogan. Those behind this wasted effort should be fired, and I’m not just talking about the ad agency. All it takes is one glance to see that somebody at Radio Shack didn’t have their thinking cap on… or just quit trying. 

Your core market:  the DIY folks — the enthusiasts, tinkerers and crackpot inventors. You know, like those ne’er-do-wells named Wozniak and Jobs? The polite term is ‘Maker’ now and if you can bring yourself to become a useful resource to them, the Makers can save your feckless corporate ass. 

Drop the appliances and cellphones and all that other crap that every other retailer kicks your butt at and focus on the Makers that nobody else is serving. This market is yours to lose.

Cast your minds back to the Tandy Leather stores, the sister shops to the old Radio Shack. The joke used to be that fetishists were keeping them in business. But if you drop over to their website, take a look at their in-store class schedules.  Hmmm, that’s a tool of engagement that Radio Shack never offered. Interesting. And predictive. 

I know you’ve tried carrying a few fun products like Arduinos and Basic Stamps (hidden between the mountains of bullshit, toys and iPhone cases), but there is a big difference between putting a product on your shelf and actually engaging potential customers for that product. You already know this, right? Well, do something about it!

Everything wrong at Radio Shack can be fixed. If you need some ideas (and you really-really do, old chum!), here’s a few freebies:

  • Sponsor local school Chess Clubs and Science Fairs. This is where Makers and geeks come from!
  • Hold some kind of in-store intro classes. If they don’t know how to use it, they won’t buy it! Of course, you’ll need someone with a clue to teach these classes, so…
  • Get to know your local Makers, maybe even hire a few of them: think ‘seed crystals’! These folks network and scheme and organize. Use them!
  • Make ‘The Shack’ a meeting place for those techie losers… just like in the old days. Knowledgeable staff and espresso would help.
  • Sponsor your local hackerspace(s)! A few resistors and some soldering irons would make a big splash for little cash!
  • Quit doing everything you are doing now that doesn’t work and THINK for a change!

Regarding your stupid Super Bowl ad: Makers don’t give a fuck about your shitty store fixtures… but I’d bet they would compete to design and fabricate some very sweet custom fixtures for their local ‘Rat Shat’. Just sayin’.

Amazon and other online sellers are slaughtering small retailers. They used to say the same thing about big box stores. But guess what? You can’t stream a hands-on experience. I had a coffee seller tell me that they didn’t bother with an on-line presence because that’s not what sells coffee. Same thing with Makers and their tactile, muscle-memory, wiggle-that-wire meatspace. You cannot put that experience or that face-to-face learning down a wire, not even a coaxial one. That’s what Radio Shack has to stick to if it wants to survive.

Do you get it, old friend?
We don’t like watching you die from self-inflicted wounds.
You can fix this… and your shareholders and the Makers would be thankful if you did.

The Big Fall and the Big Fail

October 17, 2013

It’s been one year since Austrian skydiver Felix Baumgartner made the highest jump of all time. The Red Bull Stratos project was part science, part adventure, and of course part caffeinated beverage promotion overload.

31 Levitating Vehicles From the Dawn of the Hovercraft. Hey, I remember the GEM-1 from the Weekly Reader!

“The People of the West”, a 3rd century Chinese report, lists products of interest from the Roman Empire.

Ingo Potrykus developed “Golden Rice” to combat blindness and death in children by supplying 60 per cent of the vitamin A they need in a typical daily helping of rice. He’d like to live long enough to see it save lives despite protests over GM crops.

By side-stepping IP security, a pair of researchers have uncovered more than two dozen vulnerabilities in products used in critical infrastructure systems that would allow attackers to crash or hijack the servers controlling electric substations and water systems.

Oxford University genetics professor’s DNA tests on “yeti” hair samples gathered in the Himalayas are a “100% match” with an ancient polar bear sample that dates back to between 40,000 and 120,000 years ago – a time when the polar bear and closely related brown bear were separating as different species.

Problem-Solving Parrots Understand Cause and Effect. Scientists speculate two factors may influence why some animal species are smarter than others: how cognitively demanding it is for the animals to obtain food and the social complexity of the animals’ society.

Here’s a slightly dated gallery of non-problem solving parrots… I think they are related to the dodo, somehow.

Aren’t you glad to know they make (non-alcoholic) wine for cats? Nyan Nyan Nouveau.

Clues to the origin of language: a stuffed python on a fishing line has revealed that chimpanzee alarm calls have intentional meaning rather than being involuntary expressions of emotion (as seen in lower primates like jackanapesis teapartius).

The ancients had gods and pyramids to tame the sky’s mystery. We have Star Axis, a masterpiece forty years in the making.

The Houston Chronicle is suffering some regret over its endorsement of Ted Cruz, the poor dears!

Lord Humungus would like to put all this recent unpleasantness aside, at least until January. And he wants a certain head, for decorative/ceremonial purposes.

The Wurst is Yet to Come

October 9, 2013

Have you tried crossing the beams?

Republican Debt-Ceiling ‘Truthers’ Are Risking a Financial Disaster: “Like the insane, nuclear bomb-worshipping mutants who live beneath the Planet of the Apes, the debt-limit truthers and denialists are willing to risk disaster in a last-ditch attack on Obamacare”. Here Are Three Debt-Ceiling Lies You’ll Hear From the GOP This Week.

The Big Lie that the Affordable Care Act was “rammed through in the middle of the night without a single Republican vote” doesn’t align well with the years of debate and negotiations Senate records show. Look out for that “memory hole”!

Ohh, burn! Taliban mock ‘selfish and empty-minded American leaders’ over government shutdown. ‘Even a stopped clock’, as the saying goes.

On the origins of “goo goo ga joob”.

How to Spot a Narcissist… just Google “Ted Cruz”?

How much energy does it take to vaporize a human? We have the technology.

According to a new documentary, the quantity of cow intestines required to manufacture Zeppelins for WWI was so enormous that the making of sausages was temporarily outlawed in Germany and allied or occupied parts of Austria, Poland and northern France.

Neuro-enhancement in the military: far-fetched or an inevitable future? I’d settle for a Legislative Branch that wasn’t brain-dead.

Eighty to 90 percent of people who use crack and methamphetamine don’t get addicted, and the small number who do become addicted are nothing like the popular caricatures.

Robotic Snakes Slither Their Way Into Ancient Archaeology. First the Congress, now the Pyramids.

An extinct Judean date palm has been grown from a 2,000 year old seed found in the ruins of Herod’s palace. Still no progress rekindling patriotism or honor among the Tea Party zombies, though.

This bizarre lizard bleeds green poison that can kill you. Sort of like the Koch Brothers.

(TheOnion) Shutdown breakthrough! “According to Congressional aides, if the White House agrees to deliver Malia, as well as a pint of Michelle Obama’s blood, a ram’s horn, and a shard of obsidian to the basement of the Cannon House Office Building by this evening, a House vote on the bill could take place as early as Saturday“.

Electronic cigarettes could save the lives of millions of smokers, or they could set millions of non-smokers on the path to nicotine addiction. The pressure to regulate them piles up… without a speck of science.

Dutch authorities using ‘scratch and sniff’ cannabis cards to bust pot growers. This brings up a funny-but-true story. A good friend of mine, a graphic artist, wanted to do a cannabis-scented scratch’n’sniff  thing for a local “head shop” in the ’70s. 3M was the sole provider of the technology at the time, so he ordered some samples, but none of them smelled anything close to right. After some back and forth with 3M, he finally got someone on the phone who told him “Look, 3M is a pretty conservative company. Even if one our fragrance engineers knew what pot smelled like they could never admit it.” And thus the project was dropped. Apparently it’s not a problem for the Netherlanders today.

Something surreal from Banksy:

It’s a Wonderful World

August 27, 2013

The Onion called it in 2008: Sources Warn Miley Cyrus Will Be Depleted by 2013

Schizophrenia just ain’t what it used to be. ‘For an illness that is often characterized as a break with reality, psychosis keeps remarkably up to date.’

“…There is no Cause of Fear, tho’ possibly there may be of Laughter”: How 3 street drugs got their start

“Running of the Bulls” meets “Crashing of the Drones” in Virginia. Only 5 were injured, none of whom were insurgents prior to the event

TooMuchCoffeeMan: “Would you rather work retail or..?“. Wheeler is also selling the original artwork for his “McDonald’s Hot Coffee Lawsuit” strip (which is well worth a read)

Terror of the Tokoloshe: The Untold Story of Southern Africa’s Hairy Invisible Ghost Rapist

Beach looks at “Pre-Viking Vikings in the Faroes

Nick Redfern presents an argument against “Flying Triangle” UFOs being mere top-secret aircraft

Missile silo homes are okay I guess, but houses in water towers have better light

Obesity: it’s not just for humans any more. Both wild and domestic animals are putting on the pounds

In the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, the Inca Empire was the largest South America had ever known. Rich in foodstuffs, textiles, gold, and coca, the Inca were masters of city building but nevertheless had no money. In fact, they had no marketplaces at all

Roman-era nano-tech that starts out green, turns red

More colorful nano-tech: Peter Dinklage hula-hooping in a gay bar in Canada

All that Syria stuff-

The Supervillain Syndrome: why dictators like Assad just can’t quit while they’re ahead.

Syria strike due in days, West tells opposition – sources

Brown Moses shows how open-source photo interpretation works in “Finding The Exact Location Of An Alleged Chemical Munition, And What It Could Mean

RogueAdventurer Blog has analysis of the delivery systems photographed at the scene of the crimes in Syria.

Planning is everything: “Required Sorties and Weapons to Degrade Syrian Air Force Excluding Integrated Air Defense System (IADS)”, an analysis by Christopher Harmer, Senior Naval Analyst, Institute for the Study of War (31 July 2013). The author has stated elsewhere that punitive strikes that don’t advance policy are “stupid

Mapped: 34 Places In Syria Likely to Get Hit With a U.S. Cruise Missile. Call them ‘neighborhoods in transition’.

(Pre) History speaks in tongues!

August 21, 2013

“Ya-bando-ba-ba-basoya!”. Speaking in tongues was mentioned in Paul’s letter to the Corinthians, but it died out until the 20th century.

In 1971 a book hit the shelves suggesting human evolution was driven by cannibalism. The book is The Beginning Was the End by Oscar Kiss Maerth. Yes, Virginia, we’re all DEVO.

A team of scientists say they have uncovered evidence of early humans in China dating back at least 1.6 million years, the oldest signs of early humans in North China.

The megalithic enclosures of Gobekli Tepe (Urfa, Turkey) are the most ancient sacred structures of stone known so far, dating back to the 10 millennium BC. It turns out that they may have been originally constructed to celebrate the appearance of a new, extremely brilliant star in the southern skies: Sirius.

The earliest known iron artifacts, 5000 year old funeral beads from Egypt, were made with meteorite iron!

The Hall of Ma’at has many papers debunking “alternative archaeology”, but I’m not giving up on the Solutrean Hypothesis just yet!

Could a blood test predict whether a person is at risk of committing suicide? For the first time, a set of proteins in the blood have been linked to suicidal behavior.

Serious People said that budget deficits hurt the economy. So we increased taxes so deficits are wayyyyy down. Now the Serious People are saying that taxes hurt the economy. Maybe the Serious People don’t know what they are talking about?

Officials in Tennessee say that a father and his 12-year-old son died over the weekend after an AR-15 rifle accidentally discharged, causing a fire and a series of explosions in a room full of ammunition in their home. If only they’d had more guns!!!

Guns don’t kill people, boredom does: Oklahoma teens charged in Australian baseball player’s killing. Slap an NRA sticker on that coffin, why don’t you? Oh, right: that would require some perspective on things, yeah!

Peanuts meets The Smiths, shotgun vs. drone

August 17, 2013

I just applied for a one-way ticket to Mars…. I can think of worse fates. What’s that? Global property values just jumped? Sell! SELL, DAMMIT!

Some members of Congress want to put a national park on the Moon. A bill introduced last week in the House of Representatives, the Apollo Lunar Landing Legacy Act, would establish historic preservation sites where the Apollo 11 through 17 astronauts touched down and walked on the lunar surface.

Two Russian cosmonauts did a spacewalk which lasted for seven hours and 29 minutes outside the International Space Station on Friday to set up cables for the arrival of new space lab on December. No leak has happened but the story is remarkable as it surpassed longest Russian spacewalk record in 2000 by 13 minutes.

Not even Silicon Valley can escape history. A revolution began there,  and this is what is left over.

Spoons united against forced marriage!

Mark Twain, Father of the Internet. He saw it all clearly through his ‘telelectroscope.’

The public may imagine hacking to be a modern phenomenon, and a nefarious one at that, but hacking is a mindset that dates back four centuries!

Here is Cracked’s list of 7 Modern Conveniences That Are Way Older Than You Think.

The World Ends with a Handshake: Unraveling the Apocalypse of ‘Southland Tales’.

Former presidential candidate and ‘social troglodyte conservative’ Rick Santorum thinks that the term “middle class” is “Marxism talk”. What the hell does he know?

Shotgun vs. drone!

Science, security and secrecy

August 9, 2013

In 1974, President Richard Nixon announced his resignation, effective the next day, following damaging new revelations in the Watergate scandal… and the world was a brighter place.

Following the shutdown of Lavabit (alleged to have been Edward Snowden’s secure email provider), Silent Circle has preemptively ended their secure email service as well, citing the lack of security inherent in all ‘store-and-forward’ email protocols. The general upshot is that all U.S. based ISPs are under the thumb of a surveillance police-state, with no ethical way to claim that your communications are secure.

New reconstructions of ancient proteins have provided clues to the habitat and origins of life on Earth. The resurrected protein, a version of the protein thioredoxin, is thought to have existed almost four billion years ago in single-celled organisms linked to the earliest ancestor of all life. The ancient thioredoxin survived temperatures of more than 110 C, as well as being stable in acidic environments.

Bloody typical: of course the new Mars Explorer Barbie wears pink space boots.

U.S. researchers reported on Thursday that an experimental malaria vaccine proved highly effective in a small, early-stage clinical trial in people. The vaccine tested is delivered intravenously and not through injections, which could be impractical for use in a widespread vaccination program, but it’s a HUGE step forward.

WiredThe Most Bonkers Scientific Theories (Almost) Nobody Believes Anymore.

It’s not ready for the next Terminator movie yet, but it’s pretty danged neato anyway: a Gauss machine-gun!

Narconon Arrowhead in  McAlester OK has lost state certification. After four deaths and several lawsuits I should certainly hope so!

Actress and recent Scientology refugee Leah Remini has filed a missing-person report for Scientology leader David Miscavige’s wife, who has not been seen in public in six years. Maybe she’s just working in the No-See Org?

History has peaks and valleys

August 6, 2013

On this date in history:

Arthur Flegenheimer was born on this day in 1902 in the Bronx, NY. At the age of 14 his family was abandoned by his father, so he dropped out of grade school and joined a local gang. In his late teens he served more than a year in the penitentiary for breaking and entering, which was the only crime of which he was ever convicted. When he got out he took the name of a famous deceased local thug and from then on was known as either “Dutch Schultz” or “the Dutchman”, bootlegging and running liquor from Canada during the early Prohibition. His life came to a violent and bloody conclusion when he was assassinated in the men’s room of the Palace Chophouse in Newark, New Jersey in 1935.

On this day in 1911, Lucille Desiree Ball was born near Jamestown, New York. Remembered as one of America’s most famous redheads and beloved comic actresses, Ball broke into show business in 1933 when she was hired as the Chesterfield Cigarette Girl and began to get bit parts in movies. She and husband Desi Arnaz were cast as Lucy and Ricky Ricardo in I Love Lucy, which aired from 1951 to 1957, the first scripted television program to be shot on 35 mm film in front of a studio audience and had the highest average rating for any TV series in history. You can watch it dubbed in Russian, Hindi, German, Tagalog, Spanish, Swahili….

On this day in 1945, at 8:16 a.m. Japanese time, an American B-29 bomber named ‘Enola Gay‘, dropped an atomic bomb over the city of Hiroshima. Approximately 80,000 people were killed as a direct result of the blast, and another 35,000 injured. At least another 60,000 would be dead by the end of the year from the effects of fallout.

The Curiosity rover landed on Mars one year ago today. It will celebrate by singing “Happy Birthday” to itself. Also, a year ago today, ten minutes after NASA posted a video of the Curiosity landing on Mars to its official YouTube channel, the video was taken down again, replaced with a message saying it had been removed due to a copyright claim by Scripps Local News. A spokesperson for Scripps later apologized for the accidental takedown.

Atlantis, Vikings, Nazis and HAARP!

July 20, 2013

Behold the Ellora Caves in the Indian state of Maharashtra: a official UNESCO World Heritage Site that consists of 12 Buddhist, 17 Hindu and 5 Jain temples and monasteries carved right out of the the vertical face of the Charanandri hills between the 6th and 10th century.

The YouToobs has the Nova episode, “The Secret of the Viking Sword”, in which an anomalously good grade of steel was used to make the finest Viking swords… but only for about 150 years, then the secret was lost. And there were crap knock-offs, too! Another article on the Ulfberht swords.

Apparently the Vikings were into importing brides from North America to Iceland, as revealed by mDNA studies. How do you say “I wish they all could be Beothuk girls!” in Norse?

The obligatory Viking kittens link.

An newspaper advert from 1800 in which a wife reports a husband to be missing, and hopes he will stay that way.

Another historical note: if the preacher drowns the guy ahead of you in the baptism line, you might suddenly remember a previous engagement. Does the baptism count if you don’t survive it?

Nazi ideologues had a particular weakness for Atlantis. Hollywood moguls had a particular weakness for Nazis.

Nothing but respect from Dr. Gonzo in his obituary for Tricky Dicky:

“Nixon had the unique ability to make his enemies seem honorable, and we developed a keen sense of fraternity. Some of my best friends have hated Nixon all their lives. My mother hates Nixon, my son hates Nixon, I hate Nixon, and this hatred has brought us together”.

There goes the youth vote! Virginia’s teabagger Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli really wants to make oral sex illegal.

Creepy parent tricks, episode 6000: “I Measure Every Single Thing My Child Does. And I track it on spreadsheets. Really—every single thing. Even every poop. And it makes me a better parent”. Just keep telling yourself that while you enjoy that nice nursing home in Somalia your kids picked out for you.

Do you ever wonder what astronauts talk about in space? Here, Apollo 10 astronauts debate the provenance of a turd found floating in their capsule.

The Air Force’s total fuel bill in 2012 topped $9 billion (with-a-B), so they’re taking a cue from geese and testing “vortex surfing”.  If that doesn’t work they’ll just start flying Priuses covered in feathers.

Study shows direct link between outgoing personalities and a love of spicy foods. Hmmm, that would make me the most dynamic person in the tri-county area, if true. Maybe I should leave the basement more often.

“Why BMW Drivers Are Jerks to Cyclists”. I endorse theories #1 and #4. I’m not sure they should even be separate theories.

As yummy as they may look in cross-section, you really shouldn’t eat golf balls. Unless you a jerk that drives a BMW, in which case you should have ‘seconds’, too.

Even the Illuminati has to pay its bills: HAARP (the High Frequency Active Auroral Research Program) shut down in early May 2013 due to lack of funds. I guess the wackosphere didn’t get the press release. (My confidential sources say HAARP was secretly replaced by LAARP, it’s the perfect cover!)

House Republicans reject a proposal to ban gun sales to – wait for it – suspected terrorists! Because terrorists stick together in the melting pot that is our great nation!