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Things I've Found 28 (Yes, We Have No Bananas; and Other Sobering Stuff)—2/6/2003

by Mark Rose

It’s been a long time since we’ve e-mailed. There’s been a lot of stuff happening, and not all of it good. And please allow me to depress you some more before we get to the uplifting material.

Yes, We Have No Bananas: Sadly, it’s true. A serious banana plague is affecting the worldwide crop of bananas. The fungus “black Sigatoka” is a soil-based fungus that destroys the banana plant and is difficult to remove, living for years in the soil even after bananas are no longer grown there. The main problem is, we’ve narrowed all the biodiversity of bananas down to one particular variety, the Cavendish. And it ain’t gonna survive. This happened before. In the 30s and 40s, the main banana variety was the Gros Michel, a smaller, sweeter banana. It was wiped out by a different disease. This is a strong argument against monoculturalism, at least in fruits and vegetables. Find out more at:


Don’t let this happen to apples. Buy specialty apples today! This place doesn’t start shipping until the Fall, but they are heartily recommended. Try anything, try something different from the boring old Fuji or Gala or Red and Yellow Delicious. My favorite is still the tiny, tart, winey Arkansas Black:


Wish I Was In Kentucky! Ah! Kentucky! http://www.unusualkentucky.com/ [This is now at: http://www.geocities.com/unusualkentucky/]

New Scientist magazine (9 November 2002, p. 10) has this story, which I quote in full because it’s so stupid: “Dozens of suspected criminals in Germany found out that their telephones were being tapped by security services when charges for the eavesdropping appeared on their phone bills last week. The error, which was put down to a software glitch, came to light when one customer complained about charges for calls to a mysterious number on his bill. One man was asked for 15.35 [euros] to pay for 53 taps in less than a month. Calls to the number were answered with a voice telling the customer they lacked authorisation. Security sources confirmed nearly 50 people had been inadvertently invoiced for the cost of the eavesdropping. The authorities immediately contacted the phone company, 02, in Munich, which stopped the delivery of other bills that were ready to be sent out.” ALWAYS CHECK YOUR BILLS.

Interesting design link for those of you on this list who are designers and artists. Children’s Books of the Early Soviet Era at: http://digital.library.mcgill.ca/russian/

The Good News Starts Here. Yes, it’s true. You can flip a giant middle finger to the Recording Industry Association of America who has been ripping us off with inflated CD prices for the last 10 years. A class action lawsuit has been settled against the various CD producers, and you could get up to $20 cash if you have EVER bought a music CD from 1995 through 2000. And what’s even better is that no proof is needed. All they need is an e-mail address and your regular address and a couple of other particulars. Here’s the site that explains it all:


Still think it’s a hoax? I did, too. But I went to the fine folks at Snopes who sniff out all these kinds of scams and it’s real!

http://www.snopes.com/inboxer/nothing/cdrefund.asp [Of course, this is all over now. And yep, it worked. I got my refund. Hope you did too.]

Build Your Own Drum Kit (requires Flash): http://www.pearldrum.com/dreamkit/. This is a hoot! Takes a little bit of work to get a drum kit going but you can basically drum around with your mouse cursor. Be the next Gene Krupa! Or Sheila E, or Ringo, or the guy from Cheap Trick, or. . . .

Ornate Edible Architecture. Do you really need more than that headline to click on this? http://www.getty.edu/research/tools/digital/ediblemonument/ (I know, it’s a bit slow. Sue Getty, not me.)

Online Magic Marker. OK, so maybe you need more than that lame headline to click on the URL. But it’s still pretty cool. http://www.imaginationatwork.com/Imagine?_nolivecache

Mac Users Make Me Puke: Why? Because they get to use all this very cool Origami Design Software. TreeMaker and ReferenceFinder are two Mac programs that work together. You can design almost anything as an origami folding experiment using this software. Any one out there (and about 12 of you on this list are Mac users — you know who you are) care to tell me how it works?