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Things I've Found 53 (I'm So Overspannen I Should Sit Down)—10/6/2005

by Mark Rose

Oy, oy, the overspannen, I tell you. Things in Europe Aren’t Always So Great. I ran across a statistic that said 1 out of every 16 Dutch individuals are disabled. Well, put that last word in quotes. Stunning, isn’t it? It’s also true. This site indicates the number is only 9 percent (2nd highest rate in the world): http://www.nationmaster.com/country/nl/People&b_define=1, and this site explains why that number is growing fast and why it doesn’t have anything to do with disability, but it has a lot to do with laziness and the welfare state: http://www.rnw.nl/globalperspective2/html/rnw.html.

There’s not much to say about things like Katrina and the tsunami and other natural disasters. But if you’re really interested in the science behind it all, then you should look at these sites: http://wwwsoc.nii.ac.jp/jsnds/contents/jsdn_back_number/jsdn_bn_list.html (the Journal of Natural Disaster Science) and http://www.sthjournal.org/ (Science of Tsunami Hazards) and http://library.lanl.gov/tsunami/ (the International Journal of the Tsunami Society). Speaking of Katrina, check out Matt Welch’s column on how the media seriously mis-reported the levels of anarchy and violence in the city: http://www.reason.com/links/links100405.shtml.

Teletubbies involved in cocaine smuggling. It’s true, check out the photos: http://www.thesmokinggun.com/archive/0929052dea1.html.

In related news, apparently hell has frozen over. Because I thought that would be necessary before I put a POSITIVE link to the UK newspaper The Guardian in this column. But here it is: http://www.guardian.co.uk/life/badscience/. Ben Goldacre’s weekly column looks at how the press reports on science, and then he tears them apart for their laziness. Fun.

And speaking of newspapers, they’re a dying breed, and frankly, it’s welcome news. The Los Angeles Times admits they suck and plan to get even worse over the next year: http://online.wsj.com/public/article/SB112830208746958155-3bSMjiI_EfyMtPDHvmC7W4BOZIw_20061003.html. Do you think that maybe if they could run an unbiased story and actually report the news, they might increase subscriptions? Just a thought.

Why are newspapers a dying breed? Because they don’t publish things like this. For those of you who like to download music online, here is a COMPREHENSIVE review of all the music download services. Fascinating. http://reviews.designtechnica.com/print_guide33.html.

Gadget magazines are all the rage nowadays. There’s Cargo, Stuff, G3, Sync and plenty more. Most of them completely suck. But every once in a while, Sync has some decent links. Want to know exactly how to safely dispose of paint, hazardous wastes, cell phones, computer parts, and other oddball things? Then visit here: http://www.earth911.org/master.asp.

But now for the gadgets. In the Not Really All That Safe for Work Department, we have a new item useful for all. Really, who doesn’t need a chair that also serves as a fruit juicer? Apparently, it’s all the rage in strip clubs for dancers to juice fruit using, uh, various parts of their body. This clever chair allows the fan to drink the juice without ever having to touch the dancer. http://3eyes.co.uk/views/public/?doc=Lapjuicer. I am very obviously in the wrong business.

Or how about a beer coaster that informs the waitstaff when your beer level is dangerously low? http://www.engadget.com/entry/1234000740061060/. This coaster sends a radio signal when your mug gets light. Of course, the old low-tech solution to this was provided by Guinness. You wore these little buttons on your lapel and flipped a switch on the side so they lit up. That told the bartender to start another pour. Mmmm, Guinness...

Perhaps I could make a living building customized foosball tables. You think I’m kidding. Check this out: http://www.elevenforty.com/. This table is absolutely spanking gorgeous. It can be yours for only $45,000.

And then, for when you need the latest designs in toilet paper: http://www.justtoiletpaper.com/. My Mom would be so proud of me if I started a business devoted to this subject. It is amazing the number of different themes they have, like the Labrador Retriever toilet paper holder, Philly football, Bush and Kerry, ai yi yi.

Here’s a DIY project for the Martha Stewart in all of us. Build a fully-functioning home out of a used Boeing 727-200: http://www.airplanehome.com/

If you’d rather fly on than live in one, you should check out the major airlines and their performance ratings. Check on on-time statistics, baggage and consumer complaints and even airline animal incident reports. Find it here: http://airconsumer.ost.dot.gov/reports/index.htm

Crazy Ass Game of the Week: Our beloved feature returns with a remarkable entry from a commercial enterprise, no less! EasyCruise has a great little game that requires you to dock their big orange cruise ship at various ports of call. Lots of fun, easy, and quick. http://dock.easycruise.com/

Crazy Ass Person of the Week: This goes to Army sergeant Jeffrey Leon Lewis, Jr. He walked into a bank in Tucson, Arizona, with his mouth covered in duct tape. He passed a note to the teller indicating he had an explosive device in his mouth. Sure, that’ll work. Cops drag him outside, chain him to a fencepost, then get a bomb robot to rip the tape off his face. Worth the clickthrough just to see the picture. http://www.azcentral.com/offbeat/articles/1004bomb.html

Long-time readers will know I like ASCII art. Here’s a site that can take uploaded photos and convert it to ASCII art. Very cool. http://www.typorganism.com/asciiomatic/

Dark chocolate is good for diarrhea. http://www.scienceblog.com/cms/study_confirms_ancient_myth_dark_chocolate_helps_diarrhea_9016. Just thought you’d like to know.

Road to 2008: Well, we know Hillary is running. We can guess John Edwards might run. We can only hope that John Kerry sits down, shuts up, grows a beard and leaves the country. On the Republican side, you have...well, maybe Mitt Romney. The fact that most of you reading this just went "Who?" indicates he’ll be the Republicans’ answer to Evan Bayh. Wild theory is that they could put up Condoleezza Rice to go against Hillary Clinton. Conservative theory indicates they’re working hard on Rudy Giuliani. He hasn’t said no, but he hasn’t said yes. http://1010wins.com/topstories/local_story_278114913.html. It’s going to be interesting, folks. Keep your hands inside the vehicle at all times.

And finally, Rest In Peace, Ronnie Barker. Ronnie Barker was one of The Two Ronnies, the other was Ronnie Corbett. http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,2-1810229,00.htmlThe Two Ronnies was a goofy sketch comedy show that certain PBS stations used to air back in the old days. If you ever get a chance to see it, do so. You should check out Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/search-handle-url/index=vhs&field-keywords=the%252520two%252520ronnies&search-type=ss&bq=1&store-name=video/ref=xs_ap_sai1_xgl27/002-8763110-3548855, and take a shot.

Whew! I’m tired. And stressed out. And overspannen! I think I’ll have to apply for disability and see if I can get a bigger check from Electric Story. Yeah, that’ll work.