Mass Ave Lola 

Friday, August 12th, 2022

Across the river from me in Cambridge, a Yorkie named Lola brought a neighborhood together in small but wonderful ways.

The Handbasket Is Speeding Up 

Thursday, August 11th, 2022

On June 29, Earth had its shortest day in modern history, measuring 1.59 milliseconds under a full 24 hours. You probably didn’t notice. Scientists watching atomic clocks, however, did.

“Our day-to-day existence doesn’t even recognize that millisecond,” McCarthy said. “But if these things add up, then it could change the rate at which we insert a leap second.”

That will, of course, also not matter or be noticeable.

Liars Not Lions 

Wednesday, August 10th, 2022

Hey, speaking of giant dicks, apparel company Lions Not Sheep makes an assortment of clothing that’s covered in juvenile messages yet sized for adults. Apparently, much of that clothing was made in China, but the company falsely re-labeled the items as being made in the USA.

“Companies that slap phony Made in USA labels on imported goods are cheating their customers and undercutting honest businesses, and we will hold those companies and their executives accountable for their misconduct,” Samuel Levine, director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, said in May when announcing the actions.

They’ve now been fined by the FTC for the deceptive practice. I wish I could believe this would have some negative impact on their popularity amongst purported American patriots, but it seems unlikely.

Apparently, They Had Particular Difficulty With the Testicles 

Tuesday, August 9th, 2022

If a 99-year-old great-grandmother wants a five and a half foot tall penis atop her grave, well, I guess she’s going to get a five and a half foot tall penis atop her grave.

A very large penis on top of a grave in Mexico

Big-ups to you, Catarina Orduña Pérez.

A Dastardly Deed 

Monday, August 8th, 2022

Scamming an 11-year-old lemonade stand operator out of $85 is just really, really low.

In this case, however, it seems like things are going to work out surprisingly well for the young victim. In addition to getting a sad lesson about the existence of real jerks out there, entrepreneur Jeremy is also going to receive thousands of dollars from the internet. That’s probably a little excessive, but hopefully he can use it for good.

Happy Birthday, Curiosity 

Friday, August 5th, 2022

Almost exactly one decade ago, the Curiosity rover landed on Mars in truly incredible fashion.1 One year later, the robot was programmed to hum “Happy Birthday” to itself, which is somehow simultaneously adorable and deeply sad. In subsequent years, however, there was no celebration.

This year, in a marketing gimmick that’s still worth writing about, robots on earth will do the singing. Autonomous home lawn mowers from Husqvarna will be able to serenade Curiosity, and that’s pretty great.

I don’t have a lawn, and thus have never shopped for a robot lawn mower. However, thanks to this stunt, I’ve learned that Husqvarna’s mowers look like tiny Batmobiles:

That’s pretty great too.


Footnotes:

  1. While writing this post, I once again watched NASA’s “Seven Minutes of Terror” video. Everything about it still fills me with awe. ↩︎

Let’s Think Too Damn Hard About George Jetson’s Birthday 

Thursday, August 4th, 2022

Recently, a meme was circulating that cartoon character George Jetson was about to be born. Specifically, it put forth the notion that George was born on July 31, 2022. Whoopee!

This is all very silly, of course. As well, it appears there is no canonical birth date for George. Nevertheless, over at the AV Club, William Hughes went much, much deeper on this foolishness.

“Louis vs. Rick” Is Gone but Not Forgotten 

Wednesday, August 3rd, 2022

Way back in 2011, I linked to friend-of-the-site Shane Cyr’s “Louis vs. Rick”, which told the story of a man who taught his cat to use instant messaging. In 2015, I bid the series adieu, as it ended its run. Now, some seven and a half years later, Shane has written the definitive history of “Louis vs. Rick”, and it’s a delightful read. It’s also an interesting look at something that perhaps almost got really, really big, but ultimately didn’t. And that’s OK.

Whether you’ve known “Louis vs. Rick” for years or it’s all new to you, I’ll make the same recommendation I’ve made twice before: read the too-short series in its entirety. Here’s a link to episode 1.

Bad Statues

Tuesday, August 2nd, 2022

The city of Salem, Massachusetts, is infamous for the 17th century Salem witch trials. In modern times, this shameful series of events has been sanitized. The city now revels in its status as a spooktacular tourist destination, one that’s focused on Halloween and all things witchy. They even go so far as to emblazon their police cars thusly:


I stand by my previous description of this as being “a tad gauche”.
[Photo courtesy of P. Kafasis]

Since 2005, the city has also been home to a not-exactly-beautiful sculpture of Samantha Stephens, the main character in the TV sitcom “Bewitched”:


[Photo credit: J.W. Ocker]

It’s not the most flattering likeness, nor the most appropriate. When it was first proposed, many objected, and not without reason. Nevertheless, the statue was installed, and it has become a tourist draw.

As of this month, it is perhaps just the second-least-appropriate statue created in honor of a television show. It’s fallen down the list as a result of this new addition, number one with a bullet:

[Photo credit: Chancey Bush/Albuquerque Journal]

Yes, those are larger-than-life statues of Walter White and Jesse Pinkman, the meth cooking anti-heroes of “Breaking Bad”. This past weekend, they were unveiled at the Albuquerque Convention Center. The show took place throughout New Mexico, and a cottage industry of “Breaking Bad” tourism has since emerged. These likenesses are sure to join the list of attractions to which fans flock. It’s not great.

Interestingly, as you can see, the statues rest directly on the ground. Thus, Albuquerque hasn’t literally put statues of drug dealers on a pedestal. Still, this celebration strikes me as not the most tasteful thing.

Far More Than a Great Basketball Player 

Monday, August 1st, 2022

In a tweet announcing his passing at age 88, Bill Russell’s family labeled him as the most prolific winner in American sports history. With 2 NCAA championships, an Olympic gold medal, and 11 NBA titles, that’s awfully hard to argue with.1 He also never lost a winner-take-all game, in 21 (or 22!) chances.

Yet what Russell did off the court was even more important. He broke barriers and battled racism in Boston and around America, furthering the cause of human rights. In 2011, President Obama awarded Russell the Presidential Medal of Freedom, our nation’s highest civilian honor:

“Bill Russell, the man, is someone who stood up for the rights and dignity of all men,” Obama said at the ceremony. “He marched with King; he stood by Ali. When a restaurant refused to serve the Black Celtics, he refused to play in the scheduled game. He endured insults and vandalism, but he kept on focusing on making the teammates who he loved better players and made possible the success of so many who would follow.”

WBUR has a great look at Russell’s life, which includes this quip:

In 2013, the city of Boston installed a statue at City Hall honoring Russell. It was the kind of lionization that he had often avoided.

“Two things about statues,” Russell said at a ceremony unveiling the bronze sculpture shaped in his likeness. “First, they remind me of tombstones. And second, [it’s] something that pigeons’ll crap on.”

That’s a hilarious thing to say, but doubly so at the unveiling ceremony. So, why did he agree to be there?

Russell said that he only agreed to endorse the statue after former Mayor Tom Menino promised to create a mentoring program in the city.

That is some kind of selflessness.

As my pal John Gruber noted, we happened to see Russell out in San Francisco back in 2016:

As this follow-up tweet showed, Bill Russell was just like the rest of us, putzing on his iPhone. The difference is that he did it while in possession of a legacy about which the rest of us can’t even dream.


Footnotes:

  1. I’ve seen a lot of commentary questioning how Bill Russell would’ve fared in the more modern NBA (an offensive-focused league his dominating defense helped create). Allow this zinger from Russell to serve as response. ↩︎