Happy Cole Porter Day!

For which I offer these lyrics from the movie “Can Can”


Here being sung by Maurice Chevalier to Louis Jourdan:


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18 Fascinating Items From RadioShack’s Corporate Memorabilia Auction 

via Consumerist

As part of closing down, RadioShack is emptying out the company museum at its headquarters, and its corporate archives and vault of memorabilia. That means that the company is selling some valuable and cool items, and some boxes of random crap that seemingly have no value to anyone. Here’s a tour of the best items in the auction (running until July 3rd), with some cool stuff like this metal bank:

and some random boxes of crap.

Update, 6/5/17: Consumerist noticed that some of these links were no longer working, notably the awesome 1984 Sales Leader belt buckle. They checked in with UBid Estates, the local company running this corporate estate sale, and they told us that RadioShack asked them to take down around 140 items, without giving a reason why.

All of these are real things that you can bid on until July 3, along with Leaders Club jewelry, photos of past company executives, and some very weird corporate art.

Source: 18 Fascinating Items From RadioShack’s Corporate Memorabilia Auction – Consumerist

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Trump used to be more articulate. What could explain the change?

A very interesting comparison between the linguistic and speech patterns of Donald Trump in the 80s and 90s and today. The amount of cognizant decay is unmistakeable.

STAT asked experts to compare Trump’s speech from decades ago to that in 2017. All noticed deterioration, which may signal changes in Trump’s brain health.

In interviews Trump gave in the 1980s and 1990s (with Tom Brokaw, David Letterman, Oprah Winfrey, Charlie Rose, and others), he spoke articulately, used sophisticated vocabulary, inserted dependent clauses into his sentences without losing his train of thought, and strung together sentences into a polished paragraph, which — and this is no mean feat — would have scanned just fine in print. This was so even when reporters asked tough questions about, for instance, his divorce, his brush with bankruptcy, and why he doesn’t build housing for working-class Americans.

Trump fluently peppered his answers with words and phrases such as “subsided,” “inclination,” “discredited,” “sparring session,” and “a certain innate intelligence.” He tossed off well-turned sentences such as, “It could have been a contentious route,” and, “These are the only casinos in the United States that are so rated.” He even offered thoughtful, articulate aphorisms: “If you get into what’s missing, you don’t appreciate what you have,” and, “Adversity is a very funny thing.”

Now, Trump’s vocabulary is simpler. He repeats himself over and over, and lurches from one subject to an unrelated one, as in this answer during an interview with the Associated Press last month:

“People want the border wall. My base definitely wants the border wall, my base really wants it — you’ve been to many of the rallies. OK, the thing they want more than anything is the wall. My base, which is a big base; I think my base is 45 percent. You know, it’s funny. The Democrats, they have a big advantage in the Electoral College. Big, big, big advantage. … The Electoral College is very difficult for a Republican to win, and I will tell you, the people want to see it. They want to see the wall.”

Source: Trump used to be more articulate. What could explain the change?

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Banksy chips away at EU flag in first Brexit mural

DOVER (AFP).- British street artist Banksy has created his first mural inspired by Brexit, showing a workman chipping away at one of the stars on the European Union flag.

The work appeared on the side of a house on Sunday in Dover, a port town just across the Channel from France that is Britain’s closest point to mainland Europe. It depicts a man in overalls armed with a chisel and hammer on a ladder, cancelling out one of the 12 stars, causing cracks across the entire blue flag.

An image of the mural also appeared on Banksy’s official website, confirming its authenticity even though the elusive artist is still anonymous. Britain voted to leave the EU in a referendum last year and is set to do so in 2019.

Negotiations with Brussels are expected to begin after a snap British general election on June 8. The mural is on the seaside near a terminal with ferries for northern France.

In one recent mural he criticised the use of tear gas by French police against migrants and another at the main migrant camp in the French port of Calais, across the Channel from Dover, shows Apple founder Steve Jobs, whose biological father was a Syrian immigrant.

Source, Agence France-Presse: Banksy chips away at EU flag in first Brexit mural

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Mail Me to the GOP

If you die an untimely death, can you have your ashes sent to the person of your choice?  What if you would like to send it to your least favorite representative in order to protest legislation they have written or voted for?

In theory, it is already possible to have your cremated remains sent to Congress, but the idea has gained traction as a political protest since the passage of the American Health Care Act in the House on 4 May 2017.

Shortly after it passed, 20-year-old Zoey Jordan Salsbury revealed that she had created “Mail Me to the GOP”, a web site that offers to help users get their paperwork in order to send their ashes to a “GOP member of Congress” when they die. The site also links to an online fundraiser seeking to unseat the members of Congress who voted for the bill.

Salsbury, a junior at American University who won the President’s Volunteer Service Award alongside a friend last year for her online work, lives with depression and anxiety, and was also diagnosed with fibromyalgia in November 2016. She reports:

I have several pre-existing conditions that are out of my control. They are things I was born with. And when you have chronic illnesses you befriend others with chronic illness. So I have friends who I see struggle with expensive care, even with insurance. I know they’ll die if the bill is passed by the Senate. I know I’ll die if I can’t afford my psych and pain meds. And I wanted the GOP to see that.

The website asks users, “Why will you die because of the Republican health care bill?” and asks them to submit responses. As of 8 May 2017, Salsbury said, just over 1,100 people had signed up to take part in the process, adding: “I’m sure there are a few trolls in there, but from what I’ve scrolled through and seen most are genuine.”

However, she said, she will not personally send the cremated remains; instead she planned to help people work with an estate planner in order to make their own arrangements should they choose to follow through with the posthumous protest statement.

But as her site has received more notice, Salsbury said, her server has crashed multiple times. She told us:

I’m really glad that it’s gotten so much attention. I really hope it makes an impact on GOP members of the Senate. It’s been picked up by some right-wing blogs which has made my Twitter mentions and Facebook messages kind of a nightmare, but it’s worth all the hate if even one member of the Senate votes against this bill because of it.

The United States Postal Service does allow the shipment of cremated remains, so long as they are mailed in a package containing padding as well as inner and outer containers.

Salsbury said she would do more research”on the legalities of sending ashes to lawmaker after the Senate takes up the matter. “Right now I want to concentrate on making sure this bill dies in the Senate, instead of us dying,” Salsbury told us.

Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) has said that her colleagues would start over again “from scratch” instead of considering the House version of the bill.

If you’re facing death because of Trumpcare you can fill out the form and they’ll help you get papers in order to send your ashes to a GOP member of Congress if you die because of the Rethuglicant plan to remove healthcare for 24,000,000 Americans.

Source: Mail Me to the GOP

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Deciphering the Phonetic Language of Incan Khipu

Dr. Sabine Hyland managed to decipher information contained in twisted chords called khipus, in which records were kept using knots of colored fibers from animals such as alpacas, llamas and deer.


Anthropologist Sabine Hyland studies a khipu board, a colonial-era invention that incorporated earlier Inca technology.

Her exciting discovery has the potential to shed light on the mysterious South American civilisation of the Incas.

Dr Hyland has now discovered that the khipus, sometimes known as talking knots, were used in a logosyllabic system like Classic Mayan, where each logo represents a phonetic syllable.

“It had already been established that the khipus were used by the Inca to record numerical accounts, but until recently there was no evidence they had been used to record narratives,” said Dr. Hyland.

The Collata khipus, as they are known, contrast sharply with the regional accounting khipus.


And they point to a widespread, shared writing system used in the Huarochiri province, east of Lima, in the 18th Century.

Dr Hyland added: “Analysis of the khipus revealed they contain 95 different symbols, a quantity within the range of logosyllabic writing systems, and notably more symbols than in regional accounting khipus.

So far she has phonetically deciphered two lineage names after being granted the privilege of examining two khipus from the remote village of San Juan de Collata in the Peruvian Andes.


The Inca were highly organized and kept inventory on string records called khipus. More elaborate versions may contain encoded messages.

Village authorities invited Hyland to examine their closely guarded khipus, which were created in the 18th Century as letters exchanged by local leaders in a revolt against Spanish authority.



Khipus were used by the ancient Inca in South America as a way to keep numerical records of their provisions. An example of an elaborate khipu is shown

“At the end of each khipu, three-cord sequences of distinct colours, fibres and ply direction appear to represent lineage names.

“The Collata khipus express syllables in a profoundly Andean fashion, using differences among the fibres of various animals, such as vicuña, alpaca and deer to indicate meaning.

“The reader must often feel the cords by hand to distinguish the fibre sources of these three-dimensional texts.”


After partially deciphering the lost language, Hyland says the khipus were likely used in a logosyllabic system, like Classic Mayan. In this system, each pendant cord would represent a syllable


It’s known that these cords were used to record numerical accounts, but now, researchers have discovered that they may also have acted as a form of phonetic writing, with specific combinations thought to convey particular syllables or words


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An Exhibit of Representations of ‘Melancholia’ in Mexican art

MEXICO CITY.- The Museo Nacional de Arte (MUNAL, National Art Museum of Mexico) presents ‘Melancholy’, an exhibition that delves into the manner that melancholy, commonly characterized by reflecting the darkest human sides of passion and affection, is represented in Mexican art through a selection of 137 works of art from the late 16th through early 21st centuries including paintings, etchings, sculptures and writings. The exhibit can be visited from April 4th through 9th of July 2017 at No. 8 Tacuba, Col. Centro, Mexico City.

Under the curatorship of Abraham Villavicencio Garcia, and comprised of the work of nearly 80 Mexican artists, this exposition reflects the way that human feelings are explained, interpreted and represented – revealing melancholy as a possible source for inspiration and artistic creativity.

In Villavicencio’s words, “This exhibition seeks to exalt the emotional charges evoked in the works of important novohispano, modern, and contemporary artists through themes such as sin, blame, mourning, lost love, death, spirituality, creation and magic.”

“’Melancholy’ manifests that in addition to sorrow, madness, and fear the sentiment is capable of producing creativity, heroism, intellectualism, and of the quests deep within the human psyche. To ponder upon it, through the Mexican artists’ hands that participate in this exhibition, is an opportunity to reacquaint ourselves with our age-old cultural roots that permit us to discover, under a new light, our potential for transcendence, salvation, and self-knowledge”, points out Sara Baz Sánchez, Director of the National Art Museum of Mexico. 
The exhibition is comprised by four thematic nucleuses. The first theme is given the name ‘The Loss of Paradise’ where the various manners that Christianity represents bitterness and hopelessness after the fall of Adam and Eve is reflected upon, brought on by the belief of original sin and a life deprived of divine contemplation. Melancholy is seen wandering endlessly through suffering because of reproach and self-punishment. Some of the pieces that make up this section are “King of Ridicule”, 17th – 18th Century, by Cristobal de Villapando, and “After the Storm”, 1910, by Diego Rivera.

On its behalf, ‘The Night of the Soul’ – the second nucleus of the exhibition – brings together artistic representations that refer to the lost of love such as through the death of children for mothers, widowhood, being an orphan, and love that was lost, which upon occasion lead to suicide and lifelessness. “The Empty Crib”, 1871, by Manuel Ocaranza; “Repented Margarita”, 1881, by Felipe Ocádiz; “Portrait of Sofía” ,1991, by Julio Galán; “The Lady of the Violets”, 1908, by Germán Gedovius and “Weddings from Heaven and Hell”, 1996 by Arturo Rivera are some of the works that make up this selection.

Saturn, the historic God who personifies time and identified as the most somber of the planets, was considered responsible for melancholy. Its powers gain strength in ‘The Shadow of Death’, the third nucleus of the exhibition, though which pieces like “Mary Magdalene”, c.a. 1690-1700, by Juan Tinoco; “This is the Mirror that Deceives You”, also known as “Allegory to Death”, 1856, by Tomás Mondragón; “That’s Life”, 1942, by Robert Montenegro, and “Death and Resurrection”, c.a. 20th century, by José Clemente Orozco address the reality of the world by those that bear witness to melancholy. Death becomes its greatest obsession – like a faithful dialectics and necessary for life.

Finally, ‘The Children of Saturn’ – the last of the parts of the exhibition – alludes to the idea of a renaissance by claiming that those who are born under the zodiacal sign of Sagittarius and Aquarius, regented by Saturn, are impregnated with a cosmic wisdom and artistic genius for which these individuals stand out among humanity as ascetics, prophets, saints, mystics, poets, artists, philosophers, and alchemists. They were the proof that melancholy was the pathway to ascend to the clarity of the human soul and mindfulness of the universe. Among the works that conform this section “Pierrot Doctor”, 1898, by Julio Ruelas; “Woman at the Window”, 1948, by Alfonso Michel; “The Illuminated”, 1982, by Rufino Tamayo and “Magus”, 2010, a bronze sculpture by Leonora Carrington, stand out.

The selection of masterpieces come from the collection of the National Art Museum of Mexico in addition to the priceless participation of 44 private and institutional collections, among which those highlighted are the Pinacoteca de la Profesa (Profesa Art Gallery); Isabel and Agustín Coppel, A.C.; the Benemérita Universidad Autónoma de Puebla (Autonomous Benemérita Museum of Puebla); the Museo Regional de Querétaro (Regional Museum of Querétaro); the Franz Mayer Museum; the Andrés Blaisten Collection and the collection of Pérez Simón, amongst others.

Melancholy will be accompanied by a Spanish language catalogue, graphic images of the pieces that make up the exhibit and enriched with texts by specialists Roger Bartra, Heli Morales, Marcela Martinelli Herrera, Ángel Octavio Álvarez Solís, Jaime Ruíz Noé, Sara Baz, Mónica López Velarde and a curatorial text of Abraham Villavicencio García. This catalog can be purchased at the museum shop.
Within the framework of the exhibition, and in order to broaden the visitor experience, the museum will present a program of parallel activities consisting of a mediation room, talks with specialists, a film cycle, and a dance activation. All activities will be free and can be consulted in the page and the social networks of the museum.
Talks with academics and specialists in art, literature, history and sciences will be presented in collaboration with the Philological Research Institute of UNAM, El Colegio Nacional and the Interdisciplinary Group on Neurosciences and Arts. They will take place from April 26 to June 21, in the Adolfo Best Maugard Auditorium of the National Art Museum.

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Slimy Piece of Worm-Ridden Filth – Life Inside Jabba the Hutt

RotJJtHFilmmaker Jamie Benning created this short about the fascinating creation of of Star Wars’ most infamous (and my favorite) character.
He interviewed puppeteer Toby Philpott, one of the three men who crawled inside the Hutt to bring him to life. Benning’s 20 minute documentary brings together Philpott’s words with concept sketches and behind-the-scenes footage. “Slimy Piece of Worm-Ridden Filth – Life Inside Jabba the Hutt” is entrancing. It’s fascinating to see the various methods used to make Jabba come to life.
To whet your pallet, here’s a few screen captures of the early concepts from the film:

At any given moment there were as many as 5 people inside and 2 or 3 more outside working remote controls.

<p><a href=”https://vimeo.com/118751672″>Slimy Piece of Worm-Ridden Filth – Life Inside Jabba the Hutt – @Jamieswb</a> from <a href=”https://vimeo.com/filmumentaries”&gt;
The first item in my Jabba/Leia collection was Avon Bubble Bath that I found at a thrift store. (I thought it ironic that Avon thought that children bathing in the liquid contents of a beast who liked to feed slavegirls to his rancor was a good idea)

Here are some captures of the mechanical aspects of what into bringing him to life.

And, for purely gratuitous purposes, here’s some pictures of Princess Leia:

And, playing breath games with her fella:

And here’s Carrie Fisher speaking candidly about her slug-ish costar:love

And, as a footnote, here’s some more Star Wars stuff:

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The Last Leg – A BRILLIANT UK comedy panel SHOW

The Last Leg started as a one-time color commentary on the Special Olympics but was such a success that it was picked up and turned into a hit series. It stars Aussie Adam Hills (who has had one leg since birth), Alex Booker (who has a variety of physical birth defects), and ‘posh’ British comedian Josh Widdicombe.

It is one of the funniest and most daring comedy panel shows I’ve ever seen. Their wit is often acerbic and they go places that no other comics would dare to venture and poke fun at themselves and their own foibles, both physical and social.

As a Yank I admit that I am often not familiar with the guests (which is fine because that inspires me to go and look the people up) and don’t get many of the UK-specific cultural and political references (which is embarrassing given their breadth of knowledge of what’s going on in the US)
But that being said, even with my own limitations, this is STILL consistently one of the most brilliant shows I have ever enjoyed.
This episode is the most recent, the 12th show of the 10th season but there are many more available on YouTube and they’re all worth watching.




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Watch a Badger Bury a Cow – Scientific American

This is exactly how I want to be interred after I die:

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