Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Happy Halloween

I researched inappropriate Halloween costumes on the web and am pretty sure the above image does not run afoul of any PC sins. Well, maybe a vegan would be offended, so maybe it's not OK. By the way the silliest costume no-no I saw mentioned was "This Sexy Convict costume could be interpreted as trivializing the US prison system." Mustn't offend the incarcerated I guess.

Anyway -- happy Halloween all,

Monday, October 29, 2018

Are Pringles potato chips?

I'm not all that familiar with the snack food Pringles. I've eaten them a few times and they seemed to be wonky tasting potato chips. For British taxing purposes, the question as to whether they were potato chips or something else altogether involved a lot of money. From the Mental Floss article The Question that Baffled Britain's High Court: Are Pringles Potato Chips?:
Are Pringles potato chips? From 2007 to 2009, that question plagued judges at three different levels of the British judiciary, leading to a series of head-scratchingly comical legal proceedings. The stakes, however, were nothing but serious: The ruling put hundreds of millions of dollars on the line.

The question revolved around Britain’s value-added tax, or VAT. According to the 1994 VAT Act, any product that is “wholly, or substantially wholly, made from the potato” was subject to a 17.5 percent tax. In 2007, Britain’s VAT and Duties Tribunal determined that Pringles fell under the tax’s umbrella—and demanded the chipman payeth.

Procter & Gamble, who owned Pringles at the time, vehemently disagreed. They argued that Pringles were only 42 percent potato flour, with the rest mostly a slurry of wheat starch, corn and rice flour, and vegetable oil. The snack food, they said, could not be classified as a potato chip because, unlike a real potato chip, its overall contents and shape were “not found in nature.”
The case ended up getting quite convoluted, with one court saying Pringles were more akin to cake or bread and later another deciding the did nit contain the required amount of "potatoness". With so much potential tax monies involved you can imagine  how long that sort of reasoning stood:
 After working itself in and out of semantic pretzels, the Court said the easiest solution to Chipgate was to appeal to a hypothetical child: If you asked an 8-year-old to explain what a Pringle was, what would he or she say? 
The question of a Pringle’s identity, the Court argued, “would probably be answered in a more relevant and sensible way by a child consumer than by a food scientist or a culinary pedant.” 
In other words, a chip is a chip is a chip—Pringles among them. With that, Procter & Gamble had to pay $160 million in taxes.
Seems odd that a hypothetical 8-year-old would settle the matter, but -- after all --- death and taxes.

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Intensely agitated over the matter

In 1894 the use, or misuse, of a Ouija board led to a lawsuit -- The State of Indiana vs. Eva Doty and Nora Doty. From Strange Company's Newspaper Clipping of the Day of Oct 24, 2018:
In a word, this Ouija has managed to wreck the peace of an idyllic Indiana village, a quaint and rural community numbering not more than a hundred families. It was brought into the village in all innocence by the Doty family, and the neighbours used to assemble after church of an evening and amuse themselves by asking it questions. It uttered some remarkable prophecies, and gave the rustics some sage advice about their private affairs, in which they had faith, notwithstanding that it set them all one day digging up the village green in search of a buried treasure. The girls of course made great use of it, and at last one night it said some very wicked things about Miss Eva Hollowell [sic], a village belle and a rival of the Doty girls in church-work and other accomplishments. This came to the ears of Miss Hollowell's father, a choleric man, and there was a row. The Dotys said they believed the Ouija, and Mr. Hollowell summoned them all to court, including the Ouija. The latter being produced as a witness, we are told, gave some samples of its work; but the verdict went for the plaintiff, and the Doty girls were fined five dollars apiece and costs. Mr. Hollowell, however, is too angry to be satisfied with this slight vengeance, and he is bringing the case to a higher court, where the Ouija will again appear in the witness-box. “The country hereabouts,” says the report, “is intensely agitated over the matter.”

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Casting an obsidian blade

Obsidian is a type of volcanic glass that was frequently used to make stone tools. Obsidian stone tools, which could be knives, scrapers, arrowheads or even fish hooks, were carefully formed by chipping off flakes from a piece of obsidian. It was time consuming, but obsidian is very durable and can hold an extremely sharp edge.

In the video above the tool maker takes a more modern approach -- he melts the obsidian and tries to cast the blade. I'll leave you decide whether his approach is progress or not.

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Old bicycle ads

Click any image to enlarge
Bicycles have been around since Baron Karl von Drais's "Running Machine" built in 1817. It was just the frame, seat and 2 wheels and, since it lacked pedals, was more of an aid to running than what we would consider a modern bicycle. Many technical innovations -- pedals, chains, reliable brakes, steering, rubber and pneumatic tires to name a few -- had to be developed as the bicycle evolved to its modern form (bicycle history timeline).

The image of the bicycle has also evolved. In its early days it was a technological marvel of transportation. Eventually the automobile knocked it from that perch and it slid down to being primarily a kid's toy. However. at the same time racing and mountain bikes continued to be developed and they have since found an avid, albeit slightly annoying, following.

These are old vintage ads for bicycles. There are more after the jump and even more at La boite verte's  49 belles publicités anciennes pour des vélos.

Friday, October 19, 2018

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Crowds - real and potential

Click image to enlarge

The crowd at the ball game - William Carlos Williams 

The crowd at the ball game
is moved uniformly

by a spirit of uselessness
which delights them—

all the exciting detail
of the chase

and the escape, the error
the flash of genius—

all to no end save beauty
the eternal—

So in detail they, the crowd,
are beautiful

for this
to be warned against

saluted and defied—
It is alive, venomous

it smiles grimly
its words cut—

The flashy female with her
mother, gets it—

The Jew gets it straight— it
is deadly, terrifying—

It is the Inquisition, the

It is beauty itself
that lives

day by day in them

This is
the power of their faces

It is summer, it is the solstice
the crowd is

cheering, the crowd is laughing
in detail

permanently, seriously
without thought

Saturday, October 13, 2018

Thai street food

One of my favorite things about Asian cities are their street food vendors. These videos are taken from the YouTube channel Street Food Only which concentrates on Thai street foods.

Above is a walk through Chiang Rai night bazaar. Below is a stand that makes fish-shaped sweet pancakes and a market on the Thai/Myanmar border.

Friday, October 12, 2018

Tuesday, October 09, 2018

Robots on comic book covers

Click any image to enlarge
Vintage robots are always pretty silly looking. This small samplings them on comic book covers. They are from the Flashbak post Programmed for Lameness: Awful Comic Book Covers Featuring Robots. There are many more examples at the link.

Leech therapy

Click image to enlarge
A quick update on my recovery: as regular visitors know I recently had an operation that has greatly slowed down my posting. The operation was a success and I'm coming along fine.

What primarily impacted my posting was the pain medicine. That, and erratic sleep, left me pretty drifty and unfocused. My pain medicine dosage has finally been reduced and I am feeling a lot more human. I expect to be back in business shortly.

By the way, the picture above is an engraving of a doctor prescribing leeches to a sick patient. Hmmm... I wonder if that would have sped up my recovery?

Friday, October 05, 2018