Pirate Booty: Can You Dig It?

Due in no small part to Stevenson's Treasure Island and Poe's The Gold Bug - buried pirate treasure has had a powerful mythic pull on the imaginations of young and old throughout the world. Little boys dress up in eyepatches and bandanas, digging up the backyard. Rich, eccentric old men piss away their fortunes chasing the cryptic scrawl and red X's of pirate maps real and imagined.

Troubleshooting Christmas Lights

I would normally say this guy has too much time on his hands, but the engineer in me is impressed with his thoroughness.

I stumbled on here by examining some crypto-foo.

See also the companion site
Christmas Lights and How to Fix Them

Me Chinese, Me Play Joke

There is an extensive and complicated history of fascination with 'Eastern' artifacts and culture in the West. Invariably, the perfumed and exotic trappings of the 'Orient' captured the imaginations (and pocketbooks) of worldly aristocrat and street vendor alike. The East India Companies of prominent European merchant states led to the first big wave of Chinese themed decoration in the late 17th century and its culmination in the Rococo Chinoiserie of the 1700s.

This fascination continued unabated into the tile paneled Aranjuez of Spain, the late-Baroque palaces of Germany, and the parlors of Victorian England. It may come as no surprise that the flavor of the Orient also made its way into popular entertainment. But whereas the wide-eyed embrace of 'Orientalism' in its material form was pervasive, the Darwinian sociological fashion of the time assured that the "mysticism and primitivism" of the Orient was viewed through the prism of a highly xenophobic Europe.

So sorry

If you ever wanted to see Tom Arnold get sucked off by a Christmas tree, this is about as close as you're going to get:

System Alert!! (!)

A while ago I went on a spree of collecting banner ads and popups that masquerade as system alerts. You know the style:

It took a bit of effort to build my collection. In the course of normal daily browsing, I would only occasionally run across them. All too often I would see the same one over and over.

Searching for these things was an interesting exercise in suppressing all sanity-preserving impulses ("popup blocking" first and foremost). I found myself using IE. I found myself clicking on banner ads of other types, hoping they would lead me to system alert style ads. I made painstaking efforts to visit dumber websites--- archives of pop music lyrics were particularly good. When the chips were down, I would pick a random dictionary word and hope that www.[word].com was being squatted on by a company that had a thick directory of the Internet for me to browse through. In the end, I got a good sampling of system alerts, so in the spirit of the last post, I present a system alert bestiary. (Warning: Animated GIFs. May cause seizures.)

Waldo is WHERE??!

Waldo is pretty bad at hiding. Even small children can find him in his various books. Observe:

Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.us
(click thumbnail to enlarge)

"When searching the Sunday comic strip, you have to screen several hundred faces to find the real Waldo hiding, usually in a crowd, behind a building or in a corner. We caught this silicon version of Waldo (that is about 30 microns in size) hiding among caches, buses, and registers while searching through many thousands of square microns of complex circuitry with a high-power optical microscope. Waldo is the first Silicon Creature that we discovered, and this led to an exhaustive search for more creatures and construction of the The Silicon Zoo gallery."

That's right: The Silicon Zoo gallery contains hundreds of images that appear on microcircuitry (with enlightening and often hilarious comments), photographed with microscopes, ranging from simplistic 10 micron long planes to elaborate renditions of the ancient god of thunder, Thor.

wall-jack computers

A month ago at a conference, I was pondering what the highest density blade-style computers were. I envisioned a rack of RJ45 ethernet ports, with jack-sized computers plugged in, with energy provided by power-over-ethernet.

A few weeks later, A co-worker found some jack-sized computers.

These appear to be on the wrong side of the jack, but they're a start.

Lurking In The Garden

While on holiday at your ailing grandmum's, Tanworth-in-Arden, you're instructed to go 'round the back of the house and take care of some light gardening, watering plants and the like. So far having lived close to half your life in 21st century London, you are used to a certain aesthetic: bustling, urban, cosmopolitan, stylish. A quaint few days in the country is exactly what you need to expand your worldview. What do people DO out here, anyway?

Out back, past an arched doorway you find yourself in the midst of a lush garden. Marigolds, Candytufts, Mignonette, Forget-me-nots, and Aubretia assault your senses. Two stone fountains occupy the corners along the walls. However, a further surveying of the scene reveals a horrific detail, perhaps previously blocked out unconsciously by your precocious mind; an answer to your query about just what it is that people do out here.

Food and Drugs

If you like quackery as much as I do, you harbor resentment toward the Food and Drug Administration for extinguishing the exciting world of 19th century patent medicine in the United States.

Before muckraking journalists and regulatory crusaders ruined things for everbody, anybody with a kitchen sink and some industrial solvents could start a drug company. Reputable pharmacists and traveling hucksters alike marketed fantastic pills supposedly capable of curing any number of unrelated ailments. (Visit this site featuring old patent medicine ads, or the large Library of Congress archive of advertising for much more.) Just about everything you could get over the counter was laced with (if not entirely consisting of) hard drugs--- morphine, heroin, opium. Hell, Coca-Cola even really had cocaine in it. Good times.

How Can I Wrap Up Warm Without Looking Like Bibendum?

Re: Michelin Man

"The company's symbol is Bibendum, introduced in 1898 by French artist Marius Rossillon, and one of the world's oldest trademarks. André Michelin apparently commissioned the creation of this jolly, rotund figure after his brother, Édouard, observed that a display of stacked tyres resembled a human form. Today the "Bibendum" is one of the world's most recognized trademarks, representing Michelin in over 150 countries. The term refers to the slogan nunc est bibendum ("now is the time to drink")."

You're damn right it is. It's time to drink to the craziest motherfucker ever to sell a product to the masses. Clearly, Bibs is a rubber man not to be fucked with.

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