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Day April 28, 2008

Carl Sagan in 1963

Bruddah Iz – Hawai’i 78

(Thanks Carolyn)

The Mended Spiderweb Series

From… I don’t know.. click on the picture for the link. I’m too tired to go back to check.

The Mended Spiderweb series came about during a six-week period in June and July in 1998 which I spent on Pörtö. In the forest and around the house where I was living, I searched for broken spiderwebs which I repaired using red sewing thread. All of the patches were made by inserting segments one at a time directly into the web. Sometimes the thread was starched, which made it stiffer and easier to work with. The short threads were held in place by the stickiness of the spider web itself; longer threads were reinforced by dipping the tips into white glue. I fixed the holes in the web until it was fully repaired, or until it could no longer bear the weight of the thread. In the process, I often caused further damage when the tweezers got tangled in the web or when my hands brushed up against it by accident.

The morning after the first patch job, I discovered a pile of red threads lying on the ground below the web. At first I assumed the wind had blown them out; on closer inspection it became clear that the spider had repaired the web to perfect condition using its own methods, throwing the threads out in the process. My repairs were always rejected by the spider and discarded, usually during the course of the night, even in webs which looked abandoned.

(via Kottke)

Prince Covers Radiohead’s ‘Creep’

The Billy Letters

From Radar:

In the late ’90s, pop-culture historian Bill Geerhart had a little too much time on his hands and a surfeit of stamps. So, for his own entertainment, the then-unemployed thirtysomething launched a letter-writing campaign to some of the most powerful and infamous figures in the country, posing as a curious 10-year-old named Billy.

As it turns out, no group hates to disappoint a child more than convicted killers, all of whom responded promptly to Billy’s questions about dropping out of school. Their letters, published here for the first time, range from criminally insane to downright sensible, offering snapshots of the personalities behind some of America’s most hideous crimes.

(via Boing Boing)

Chocolate From Beans to Bars

For Christmas, because I am insane and he loves me, Tom gave me a home conching machine.

Conching is the penultimate step in chocolate making. Chocolate liquor (the product of grinding cocoa beans that have been roasted and cracked and hulled) is combined with sugar, usually some additional cocoa butter, and sometimes vanilla, milk solids, lecithin, and any other flavorings you want to add, and processed in what is essentially a big, industrialized mortar and pestle for hours or (in the case of the higher-end chocolatiers) days to give the fantastically smooth product that we know and love. This step has always prevented me from making my own chocolate, because there were no home conching machines available before now. But now there are. So here, you can see the steps involved in making a four pound batch of chocolate, starting from raw cocoa beans (plus extra cocoa butter, superfine sugar, vanilla beans, and soy lecithin) and ending in bittersweet chocolate, ready to eat, to chop up into chocolate chunks for use in cookies, to mix with cream for ganache, or for whatever you would want to use bittersweet chocolate for.

Doc Savage Covers

From CoverBrowser.

Question of the Day

Donald Bellisario or Stephen J. Cannell?

As much as I love Magnum PI and Quantum Leap, it wasn’t officially a tv show in the 80s unless it ended with the Cannell Productions Logo:

Prayers to Lower Gas Prices

I can’t see how this won’t work:

Rocky Twyman has a radical solution for surging gasoline prices: prayer.

Twyman – a community organizer, church choir director and public relations consultant from the Washington, D.C., suburbs – staged a pray-in at a San Francisco Chevron station on Friday, asking God for cheaper gas. He did the same thing in the nation’s Capitol on Wednesday, with volunteers from a soup kitchen joining in. Today he will lead members of an Oakland church in prayer.

Yes, it’s come to that.

“God is the only one we can turn to at this point,” said Twyman, 59. “Our leaders don’t seem to be able to do anything about it. The prices keep soaring and soaring.”

Gas prices have been driven relentlessly higher this year by the bull market for crude oil, gasoline’s main ingredient. A gallon of regular now costs $3.89, on average, in California, while the national average has hit $3.58.

To solve the problem, Twyman isn’t begging the Lord for any specific act of intervention. He is not asking God to make OPEC pump more oil. Nor is he praying for all the speculative investors to be purged from the New York Mercantile Exchange, where crude oil is traded.

Instead, he says anyone who wants to follow his example should keep it simple.

“God, deliver us from these high gas prices,” Twyman said. “That’s all they have to say.”

(via J-Walk)

Chechnya’s Bride-Abducting Tradition

Today’s WTF story:

GROZNY, Chechnya — Amina Edieva’s abductor stalked her like a seasoned predator. He approached the slender, raven-haired 18-year-old student on a Grozny side street, hoisted her off the ground in a tight bear hug and dragged her into a waiting car.

She screamed, kicked and scratched at the man, but he brought three male friends, a driver and two backup abductors to ensure she couldn’t escape. More young men in a second vehicle trailed, on the lookout for witnesses who might try to halt the brazen afternoon capture.

But Ms. Edieva knew that no Chechen would rescue her that September day nearly three years ago. Well versed in Chechnya’s bride-abducting traditions, she understood she was caught up in a centuries-old ritual in which her captor, a suitor she had frequently rebuffed, was going to force her to marry him.

“I told him I hated him,” she said, but he smiled.

“It doesn’t matter if you love me or hate me,” he told her calmly. “I want you, and you are going to be my wife.”

Across Chechnya and neighbouring Ingushetia, violent bride abductions are staged nearly every week in the mountain-ringed, southern Russian republics known as the North Caucasus; during the spring wedding season, it can happen every day. Young women are snatched from bus stops, on their way home from school and sometimes out of their own yards. A shocking video with clips of men dragging screaming young women, their books, purses and cellphones sent flying, is a popular YouTube posting.

Authorities in the two restive republics routinely turn a blind eye to the violent practice, preferring to depict it as a romantic tradition, often staged by the starry-eyed young couples themselves.

Some claim the practice has a fairytale quality and many young women dream of being abducted by a handsome man.

“It’s a sign that [a man] really loves her,” said Mariyat Muskeeva, a cultural liaison officer with the Chechen local government. “If a woman can tell her children that their father kidnapped her, it’s a great love story.”

Most women interviewed across Chechnya and Ingushetia disagreed, saying they felt no affection from the men who stalked them and shoved them into waiting cars. Others said the custom has no place in modern society.

“The government wants to deny this is a problem,” said Ms. Edieva, who eventually left her husband after a tense eight-month marriage. “They treat it as a normal thing.”

There are no hard statistics on how many women are seized each year in Chechnya and Ingushetia, but human-rights organizations say it is in the thousands. Locals estimate that about half of all marriages begin with abductions.

Here’s a YouTube compilation clip of women being kidnapped in Chechnya. I don’t have to say that this video is disturbing to anyone with a trace of humanity in them.

(via Radmila)


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