30 January 2007

A Bath, a Haircut and an iPod

There are three things I want to occur in my lifetime:

1: humans on Mars

2: life discovered on another planet

3: proof that neanderthals have descendants living on our planet right now.

We are making good progress on the first two; and this
article provides support that the last one might actually be correct.

I have always questioned the assertion that neanderthals died out because of competition from better-adapted homo sapiens. I question not whether homo sapiens were better adapted (which they are); rather, that neanderthals died out.

Why could not neanderthals have interbred with modern humans, and provided their progeny with advantages from both species? Technically, different species cannot interbreed and have viable offspring. (Offspring are sterile, like mules.)

But, they are so similar in DNA (more than 95% the same) what if they are not really a different species at all -- rather, just an earlier line of modern man? Then breeding would not be a problem.

That's why so many anthropologists say give a neanderthal a bath, a haircut and an iPod and he would be indistinguishable from modern man.

Kinda makes you think, doesn't it?

29 January 2007

Yes, Kate, There Really is an H.L. Mencken

Back on 01 April 2006, I wrote in this blog about how we missed the anniversary of the invention of the bathtub. (See entry here.) At the end of the entry, I thanked "Mr. Mencken in New York for this tip."

I was a little disappointed that none of my readers noticed this little homage to Mr. H.L. Mencken -- one of the greatest newspaper men in history; and, as a fellow journalist, a personal hero.

My bathtub story was, of course, relating Mr. Mencken's fake bathtub story published in 1917 that, similarly, was not detected then as being the hoax is was.

Well, finally, today, a young woman named Kate in Washington state, posted a comment gently pointing out to me that the bathtub story was a fake.

Yes, Kate, it was.

I had sprinkled my entry with a few clues to that fact, not the least being that I took the exact same title as his work, I made that entry on 01 April -- April Fool's Day, traditionally considered a day for playing little tricks; and actually referenced Mr. Mencken at the end of the article.

When Mencken wrote his original work, he was making fun of an American public that would pretty much believe anything that was written in the newspapers. He derided the lack of critical thinking by the readers in general; and, specifically, the solid belief they placed in anti-German propaganda written during The Great War (which we have renamed World War One).

I am glad someone actually did notice that my weblog entry was a fake; but I guess I am a little sad that the obvious clues were not picked up on; that people were, again, too quick to believe what they read in print. Perhaps subtlety is as lost on the reading public today as it was nearly 90 years ago.

Kate's comment will be found at the end of my original entry.

Mencken's original article will be found here.

26 January 2007

Cheap Pandering

What is LAB magazine? I don't know, really; but I do know it's got a neato premise, and some really great content.

While I have no relationship directly with LAB, I will say that I know two people who do: The fantastic Downtown Julie Jackson; and my wonderful s.o. Matt Hinrichs. They are both prominently featured in the premiere issue.

You probably know Julie, the creator of Subversive Cross Stitch. Well, I know her better. How much better? So much better that she sends us ketchup-flavored potato chips. Nothing says "best friend" better than that.

You also probably know Matt, the artist. Well, I know him better, too, seeing how he is presently at work in his bedroom down the hall from mine. So, nyah!

Anyhoo, check out the nifty profile of Julie
here, and the neat artwork of Matt here. (Please note that Matt looks nothing like his illustrated self. Why he drew himself that way I will never know.)

You can browse the entire mag online

25 January 2007

What a Frill!

Cool story about the capture of another of nature's fascinating creatures will be found here. The rarely seen frilled shark is thought to be a living example of a prehistoric shark.

Sad that the animal died shortly after being captured; but it seems as if it was not well anyway. Hopefully, proper scientific inventory will be taken of it so that we can learn more about it -- and whether human activity is affecting its habitat.

More about prehistoric sharks -- including the frilled shark -- will be found here.

23 January 2007

Sit Down and Be Counted

I am sticking with my pledge to not write about religion or politics; but I do just want to point out this: a politician with the guts to take a stand on an issue.

Agree or disagree, you have to admire a politician in this day and age willing to stick to his convictions -- heartfelt convictions; not convictions of convenience.

21 January 2007

Fun With Animals

I love plastic. I love animals. I love great design. I love eating.

Today at the grocers we stumbled upon a cool product that combines all of those things in one: Zoo Pals Funtensils (pictured, click to enlarge).

Are these new? I totally fell in love with them and bought a box for my collection of great plastic design.

These utensils are made by Hefty as part of their Zoo Pals line of animal-shaped plates, bowls and cups. The designs for the other items in the Zoo Pals line are okay (if they encourage kids to learn more about animals, then great); but the designs of the utensils are fantastic.

You can learn more about Zoo Pals

Disclaimer: I am not affiliated with Hefty in any way.

Independent Spirit

We love independent films. We love foreign films. We love good movies. This is why we see very few commercially released American films.

Oh, sure, there are a few films made by the "studios" that are worth two hours or $20. But this is proof of my belief -- often said -- that a thousand monkeys in a room with a thousand typewriters will, in a thousand years, type out the complete works of F. Scott Fitzgerald. Translated: even the big studios will eventually chance upon something of quality.

Does this make me a snob? No. It makes me a person who values my time and does not want to waste it with any more explosions, car chases, or shoot-'em-ups. Time is, after all, the only truly valuable commodity in the world.

The New York Times has a fascinating
article on the current state of affairs in re independent cinema.

19 January 2007

Statistical Variations

I love statistics. I love that they factually demonstrate something. I also love how easily they can be presented with just the slightest change to demonstrate something totally different and misleading.

Take this statistic: "The highway death rate is higher for cautious 82-year-old women than for risk-taking 16-year-old boys." What does that make you think? That an elderly woman is a worse driver than a teen boy.


But the real meaning of the statistic is more logical -- which you will see if you read this
article in the New York Times (the source of that statistic).

P.S. Just for fun, keep reading and you will find the statistic that relates to the fatality risk for men between ages 21 and 24 who drive motorcycles between midnight and 4:00 a.m.

14 January 2007

Shrugging At Hollywood

Every wonder why the best novel of the 20th Century (or, in some minds, ever) has yet to be turned into a film?

article in the New York Times provides a chronology of the ups and downs, hits and misses (and, maybe finally, a real hit) as Hollywood wrestles with greatness.

06 January 2007

And Now For Something Completely Different

We are in the middle of watching the 2005 film "Mrs. Henderson Presents" a fun offering about an interesting element of 1930s English life.

I just love finding these neat little gems of great film making -- especially (as in this case) when they tell a true story of real people.

Mrs. Henderson (pictured) was a recent widow who was rich and bored -- what seems to have been the perfect combination for something wonderful to happen in early 20th-century England. With nothing else to occupy her time, she purchased a closed theater, and started live shows -- with naked women. Of course, it was a hit.

There is much more to the story, of course. You can find out more from the film, or this
website which offers photographs of one of the theater's programs.