One blogger’s personal bridge to nowhere

Enjoy your odd-shaped European produce

(cross-posted at UN Dispatch)

cucumbersIt’s official: curvy cucumbers (not to mention “forky carrots” and “bendy beans”), previously on the cutting board chopping block, are acceptable fare in European supermarkets.  The British Foreign Secretary celebrates.

(image from flickr user Ian-S under a Creative Commons license)


July 1, 2009 Posted by | Food, Foreign politics, Humor | | Leave a comment

Hear that extraterrestrial North Korean jig?

While one member of the erstwhile “Axis of Evil” may send satellites into space to promote monotheism, the purpose for another is to…play music.

“The satellite is transmitting the melodies of the immortal revolutionary paeans ‘Song of Gen. Kim Il Sung’ and ‘Song of Gen. Kim Jong Il’ as well as measurement data back to Earth,” [Korean Central News Agency] said, referring to the country’s late founder and his son, the current leader.

I think tracking pirates is a much more worthwhile endeavor.

(hat tip: Nathan Hodge at DangerRoom)

April 6, 2009 Posted by | Humor | , | Leave a comment

Mosquito lasers

I just posted on UN Dispatch about this WSJ article, proposing, yes, lasers that shoot mosquitoes out of the air (to fight malaria). Little did I know that such technology already exists…

March 17, 2009 Posted by | Humor | , , | Leave a comment

Kissing Verboten

In case you thought we were prude here in ‘Murica, ask Richard Gere about his visit to India, where:

Even marriage sometimes doesn’t give you the licence to smooch – an Israeli couple was fined $22 by a court for kissing after getting married in a Hindu ceremony in Rajasthan. The priests had taken umbrage.

Indian authorities should probably adopt this amazing song as their anthem (translation here, but you get the point):

February 5, 2009 Posted by | Foreign politics, Humor | , , | 1 Comment

Satellite God

Iran launched its first homemade satellite into space.  Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s reasoning?

Mr Ahmadinejad said the satellite was launched to spread “monotheism, peace and justice” in the world.

Because people will see the satellite and think it is the one true God?

February 3, 2009 Posted by | Humor, Middle East | , , | 3 Comments

Making fun of people who die from peanut allergies

At the risk of being accused of taking himself too seriously, a scientist who has first-hand experience of the kind of reactions that food allergies can cause rips LA Times satirist Joel Stein a new one:

peanutsContrary to what Times columnist Joel Stein wrote in his Jan. 9 Op-Ed column, “Nut allergies — a Yuppie invention,” anaphylaxis is not brought on by the need for attention by “a parent who needs to feel special.” Anaphylaxis is a serious allergic reaction that can be caused by exposure to minuscule quantities of nuts or other food allergens and may even cause death.


Even more disturbing is Stein’s assertion — without a shred of evidence to support it — that “peanut allergies are only an issue in rich, leftist communities.” Perhaps he should speak to the parents of one of my former patients, an African American child from an inner-city area who died of a peanut reaction, to understand just how inaccurate and even hurtful that comment might be.

I really can’t believe the Times even printed Stein’s column.  I’m sure it was funny enough in a haha-laugh-at-those-people-who-can’t-gorge-on-peanuts kind of way, but that is a very disturbing and stupid kind of humor.  I sit on airplanes sometimes and, with the collective crinkling of passengers opening their little bags of peanuts like lemmings, smell the distinctive peanut aroma, and shudder to think of how someone allergic to peanuts would react to such an unavoidable olfactory assault at 4,000 feet.

(image from flickr user thousandshipz under a Creative Commons license)

January 15, 2009 Posted by | Humor | , , | Leave a comment

Pumpkin helmets

Ready to ride.

Ready to ride.

Happen to have saved and dried any carved pumpkins from Halloween?  I seriously hope not.  But if you do, try putting them on your head.

Motorcyclists in Nigeria have been wearing dried pumpkin shells on their heads to dodge new laws forcing them to wear helmets, authorities have said.

Officials in the northern city of Kano said they had stopped several people with “improvised helmets”, following this month’s introduction of the law.

I think my interest in safety should trump my interest in creative uses for pumpkins here.

(image from flickr user zizzybaloobah under a Creative Commons license)

UPDATE: By some bizarre coincidence, the fiction piece in this week’s New Yorker, by Joyce Carol Oates, is titled — what else? — “Pumpkin Head.”

January 7, 2009 Posted by | Africa, Humor | , | Leave a comment

People who can count backwards are way smarter


Boing Boing highlights a list of the 500 worst-ever passwords.  Topping the list, which reads creepily like a semantically awkward porno, is, unsurprisingly, Dark Helmet’s favorite, 123456.  Somewhat amazingly, its opposite, 987654, is only the 410th stupidest password.  I guess that’s why Dark Helmet is the bumbling bad guy.

(h/t Professor Blattman)

(image from flickr user John(ny) D under a Creative Commons license)

January 6, 2009 Posted by | Humor, Movies | , , | Leave a comment

Sharks don’t bite…hard

At least so say smart scientific-type people.

Don't be fooled by the sharp teeth.

Don't be fooled by the sharp teeth.

Sharks have wimpy bites for their size and can crunch through their prey only because they have very sharp teeth — and because they can grow to be so big, researchers reported Tuesday.

Their studies of shark jaws show that lions or tigers win hands down when it comes to jaw strength — but sharks prevail in the water because of their wide jaw size.

Okay, so…if I ever find any aquatic tigers, I will be seriously afraid.  But as long as we’re only talking about huge sharks with very sharp teeth, we’re fine.  Pray they do not getting any fricking laser beams attached to their heads…

(image from flickr user harrymoon under a Creative Commons license)

December 31, 2008 Posted by | Humor | , , | Leave a comment

The Republic Formerly Known As Macedonia, or France

(cross-posted at Dispatch)

The Ambassador At Large points out some rather tongue-in-cheek suggestions from Gregg Easterbrook on how to resolve the, er, name problem of the so-called (and very strictly so, if you ask a Greek) Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.

macedonia map.jpg

  • The Republic Formerly Known As Prince.
  • Steve. Wouldn’t Steve be a cool name for a nation?
  • An Obscure, Landlocked Mountainous Region Along the Vardar River.
  • Emmanuelle. Really sexy woman’s name might increase tourism.
  • ROM. Subliminally suggests Republic of Macedonia, but the official name would be just initials — like KFC — thus frustrating Greece’s objection.
  • Skopje and So Much More!
  • The Greatest Nation in Human History. This would force the United Nations to say, “Now we will hear from the delegate representing The Greatest Nation in Human History.”
  • The United States of America. Leading national brand in the world, yet cannot be copyrighted.
  • Easterbrook’s suggestions rest of the logic that, as he exasperatedly reminds Greece, “titles cannot be copyrighted!”

    Anyone may publish a book called “Gone With the Wind.” Any country can call itself France, though it’s not clear what the incentive would be.

    Perhaps. But I don’t think Macedonia would improve its prospects of joining NATO among, say, the French if it tried to call itself “France.”

    December 30, 2008 Posted by | Foreign politics, Humor | , , | Leave a comment

    God is a bus-riding Facebook user

    Michelangelo's painting on the 42 bus

    Michelangelo's painting on the 42 bus

    Christmas Warriors strike back…at Washington, DC buses.  JoEllen Murphy, God-believer and self-described “stay-at-home mum,” has responded to those vicious anti-religious ads (“Why believe in a god? Just be good for goodness’ sake.”) with her own commandment, which can now be seen driving around the streets of DC:

    “Why believe? Because I love you and I created you, for goodness sake – God”

    In case God’s personal injunction is not enough to make the heathens believe, then hHis Christian soldiers have gone all 2.0.

    I partnered with a non-profit organisation. Two friends designed and manage the website (, and another, a professional graphic designer, created the advert. We even have a Facebook group with over 2,000 members.

    And if you don’t friend God, He will smite Poke you wrathfully.

    (image from flickr user yosemitewu56 under a Creative Commons license)

    December 23, 2008 Posted by | Humor, Religion, Washington DC | , , , | Leave a comment

    Antidisestablishmentarianism out of a beard

    Polly Toynbee knows what the longest word in the English language is:

    Mumble mumble mumble

    Mumble mumble mumble

    Antidisestablishmentarianism is on the march. Which is odd, considering there is only the faintest whiff of disestablishmentarianism to fight. The Archbishop of Canterbury set this hare running with his usual confused mumbling into his beard. To disestablish the church would be “by no means the end of the world”, he said bravely.

    I have very little idea what hare she is referring to, but my only question is, if the Archbishop was mumbling so incoherently into his beard, how could one possibly pick out a word like “antidisestablishmentarianism?”

    (image of the Archbishop of Canterbury — probably mumbling very long words confusedly into his beard — from flickr user chrisjohnbeckett under a Creative Commons license)

    December 22, 2008 Posted by | Humor | , , | Leave a comment

    Pig polling

    And who says public opinion doesn’t matter in China?

    The Chinese's favorite animal..

    The Chinese's favorite animal..

    A pig that survived 36 days buried in the rubble of May’s massive Sichuan earthquake has been voted China’s favourite animal, but the attention has made him fat, lazy and bad-tempered, state media said.


    Now it has been voted top of an online poll of animals “who moved China” this year, the weekend edition of the China Daily said.

    With the election over, I think we need to get Nate Silver tracking the daily favorite animal poll here in the U.S. of A.

    (image from flickr user fxp under a Creative Commons license)

    December 21, 2008 Posted by | China, Humor | , , | Leave a comment

    Atomic sex

    Writing an article about the obsessively intricate details of the exact measurements and functionalities of an atomic bomb from over 60 years ago is, it seems, a prime facie example of something that is not really very interesting to anyone outside of the singularly dedicated group of atomic enthusiasts that apparently exists.  But that’s why you add sex to the mix:

    Now that's a sexy bomb.

    Now that's a sexy bomb.

    In the standard historical accounts, the way that the bomb’s gun mechanism worked was by shooting a cylindrical “male” uranium projectile into a concave, stationary uranium target. This act of atomic coitus created a mass sufficient to produce a critical reaction…

    The source of the error, Coster-Mullen recognized, was an assumption that every (male) researcher who studied the subject had made about the relation between projectile and target. These scholars had apparently been unable to conceive of an arrangement other than a “missionary position” bomb, in which a solid male projectile penetrated a vessel-like female target. But Coster-Mullen realized that a female-superior arrangement—in which a hollow projectile slammed down on top of a stationary cylinder of highly enriched uranium—yielded the correct size and mass.

    I think it’s safe to say that once you use the phrase “atomic coitus,” readers might pay a little more attention.

    (image of the — evidently female — atomic bomb “Little Boy” that was dropped over Hiroshima, from flickr user cormac 70 under a Creative Commonse license)

    December 19, 2008 Posted by | History, Humor | , | Leave a comment

    Where B.C. and A.D. meet again

    In the International Year of the Madonna and Child Potato, apparently.


    In case you for some reason couldn’t tell, you are beholding an uncanny likeness of The Virgin Mary cradling Our Lord Jesus Christ.  Now available on eBay.

    (hat tip, Alyssa)

    December 15, 2008 Posted by | Humor, Uncategorized | , , | Leave a comment