"Have you discovered a new unique restroom lately? All over the world leading designers are transforming aesthetically pleasing places for people to pee, poo and, well, be pampered, all in the name of making the daily commute to the restroom a little less dreary.
We want to know where the most aesthetically creative ones are for a feature. From nightclubs and restaurants to airport lounges and shops,for the most unique, most out there, well designed loo”
"American cities have begun to wage war against graffiti artists using the latest consumer tech: namely, integrated digital photography and GPS platforms feeding into a central database run as an online service.
Graffiti Tracker, the company behind this initiative (motto: “every wall tells a story”), says on its website that graffiti is “a serious crime that requires the most intensive analysis and research, from beginning to end”.
The idea is that municipal authorities snap pics of graffiti and upload it to the company’s secure servers, with GPS location data automatically added. The central Graffiti Tracker operation then makes use of analysts with “rigorous training allowing them to look behind the spray paint”, and also employs “satellite imaging” to work out “who the most active vandals are, or which gang members are associating with each other the most”.
Harassed plods can then “attack the graffiti problem at its root and make arrests that send a zero-tolerance message”. They can “see the path of damage behind each active vandal”.
A lot of graffiti perps are so-called “taggers”, who purposely identify themselves in their work. When a police force nabs one of these individuals, using the Tracker database they can potentially charge the spraypaint-loving miscreant with dozens or hundreds of offences rather than just one, and thus land them with a hefty spell up the river rather than a mere judicial wrist-slap.”
“Every time I see Bono in those big fly glasses and tight leather pants I just can’t hack it. I can’t see that as solving the world’s problems. He’s crushing his testicles in tight trousers for world peace.”—John Lydon
1. October 5, 1960 Early Warning System radar in Greenland mistakes a reflection off the moon for a massive Soviet missile barrage. Catastrophe is averted when radar operators catch the error.
2. October 25, 1962 A guard at an Air Force base in Duluth, Minnesota, shoots someone climbing a fence (not knowing it’s a bear), which triggers a miswired alarm at an Air National Guard base in Wisconsin. Nuclear-armed F-106 fighter jets scramble.
3. November 9, 1979 A training tape depicting a Soviet attack is inadvertently played on Norad computers. Senator Charles Percy (R-Illinois), visiting at the time, describes a scene of “panic.”
4. June 3, 1980 Phantom inbound missiles appear on computer screens at Strategic Air Command and, later, at the Pentagon. Before the problem is discovered, SAC readies its B-52 bombers for takeoff.
5. September 26, 1983 Soviet systems report US ICBM launches. The colonel on duty, fearing a false alarm, doesn’t recommend a counterstrike. The “missile plumes” turn out to be the glare of the sun, but Soviet high command reprimands him anyway.
6. November 1983 Able Archer 83 – a realistic NATO training exercise – includes rehearsing for nukes. The edgy Soviets, who notice an increase in communications between the US and the UK before the drill, think it’s the real thing.
7. January 25, 1995 Russian radar interprets a NASA research rocket as a US submarine-based missile. President Boris Yeltsin puts his country on alert.
8. June 6, 2002 At the height of India-Pakistan nuclear tensions, a 32-foot asteroid explodes over the Mediterranean. Had it fallen to Earth hours earlier, it would have caused a blast over south Asia indistinguishable from a first strike.
What if the great events in history had turned out differently? How would the world today be changed?
Niall Ferguson wonders about this a lot. He’s a well-known economic historian at Harvard, and a champion of “counterfactual thinking,” or the re-imagining of major historical events, with the variables slightly tweaked. In a 1999 book Virtual Histories, Ferguson edited a collection of delightfully weird counterfactual hypotheses. One essay argued that if Mikhail Gorbachev had never existed, the USSR would still exist today. Another posited an alternative 18th century in which Britain allows its colonies to develop their own parliaments — so the Americans never revolt, and the USA never exists.
The essays were fun, but Ferguson really craved a more holodeck-like experience. He wanted to have a computer simulation that would let him set up historical counterfactuals — based on real-world facts — and then sit back to see what happens. “I was always thinking that one day the right technology would come into my life,” he told me.
Last year, it finally did. Ferguson was approached by Muzzy Lane, a game company that had created Making History — a game where players run World War II scenarios based on exhaustively researched economic realities of the period.
As he played it, he realized the game was good — so good, in fact, that it forced him to rethink some of his long-cherished theories. For example, he’d often argued that World War II could have been prevented if Britain had confronted Germany over its invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1938. France would have joined with Britain, he figured, pinching Germany between their combined might and that of the Russian army. “Germany wasn’t ready for war, and they would have been defeated,” he figured. “War in 1938 would have been better than war in 1942.”
But when he ran the simulation in Making History, everything fell to pieces. The French defected, leaving Britain’s expeditionary force to fly solo — and get crushed by Germany. His theory, as it turns out, didn’t hold water. He hadn’t realized that a 1938 attack would not leave Britain enough time to build the diplomatic case with France.
The game, in essence, helped him think more clearly about history. “I found that my scenarios weren’t as robust as I thought. And that’s really exciting, because normally counterfactuals happen in my head,” he says. “Now they can happen on the screen.”
n. Tourism that involves travelling to places associated with death, destruction, or a horrific event. —dark tourist n.
If you have ever been to the world war battlefields in northern France, the site of the 9/11 terrorist attacks in New York, a Holocaust museum or even a military cemetery, then you’ve participated — perhaps unknowingly — in dark tourism. The term applies to the increasingly popular pursuit of visiting sites where people have suffered or died in tragic or spectacular circumstances. The killing fields of Cambodia, the gulags of the former Soviet Union and the ruins of New Orleans have all become tourist hotspots, while more than half a million people visit the extermination camps of Auschwitz-Birkenau each year. …
"You sass that hoopy Douglas Adams? Now there’s a frood who knew where his towel was. You are invited to join your fellow hitch hikers in mourning the loss of the late great one. Join in on towel day to show your appreciation for the humor and insight that Douglas Adams brought to all our lives."
[Hitch hiker slang: sass = meet, know, have sex with; hoopy = really together guy; frood = really amazingly together guy.]
Only a few decades ago, over 90% of the world’s forced rhubarb crop was grown in this small area. Here rhubarb grows in forcing sheds while it is still winter, preceding the crop grown out-of-doors. There is even a rhubarb festival each February. Rhubarb flourished in this part of the country because it seems to have had the ideal combination of conditions necessary to cultivate rhubarb on a large scale. These included:
supplies of soot and ash to condition the soil,
cheap fuel to heat the sheds,
large numbers of small market gardeners.
Forced rhubarb grown in these sheds is deemed to be much more tender than that grown outdoors in Summer. Without daylight the rhubarb leaves are an anaemic green yellow, and the 2ft-long stalks smooth textured and crimson. The pickers must pull the stalks in the dark; any exposure to light will stop the growth of all the rhubarb. By the end of March the harvest is over and the root stock is totally exhausted.
“I belong to a generation of Americans who dimly recall the world prior to television. Many of us, I suspect, feel vaguely ashamed about this, as though the world before television was not quite, well, the world”—William Gibson
'Chinese police have arrested a corpse trader who killed six women so he could sell their bodies for superstitious “weddings of the dead”. The Xinhua news agency said the man - only identified by the surname Song - was part of a network supplying “ghost brides” to families seeking afterlife spouses for their dead sons.
Arranged marriages for the dead are an ancient tradition in parts of China. Although the custom declined after the communists took power in 1949, it is said to have made a comeback in rural areas.’
Once again (with weary resignation), Yes. It exists. here
”Welcome. We’re glad you’re here to learn more about the Central Intelligence Agency. The CIA is an independent US government agency that provides national security “intelligence” to key US leaders so they can make important, informed decisions. CIA employees gather intelligence (or information) in a variety of ways, not just by “spying” like you see in the movies or on TV (though we do some of that, too). On the following pages, you can read more about us, play some games, and help us solve some puzzles. Throughout this section, you’ll also see some top secret things you won’t find anywhere else. “
“Perhaps our eyes are merely a blank film which is taken from us after our deaths to be developed elsewhere and screened as our life story in some infernal cinema or dispatched as microfilm into the sidereal void.”—Jean Baudrillard
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"A salesman who tried to sell one of his kidneys in an internet chat room to pay off gambling debts walked free from court yesterday after receiving a suspended jail sentence.
Daniel Tuck, 26, the first person in Britain to be convicted of contravening the Human Tissue Act, agreed a price of £24,000 for the organ with an undercover reporter, Wolverhampton crown court heard.
Judge Michael Challinor said he believed Tuck, from Oldbury, West Midlands, was a dishonest individual who had no intention of donating a kidney. He suspended Tuck’s 12-month sentence for two years and ordered him to pay £250 in costs”
"The Red Comnand criminal faction spent R$135,580 to execute the attack that shut down Rio de Janeiro on December 28, 2006. That information is contained in the eight pages of accounting records seized by police yesterday in the Vila Cruzeiro. The money was taken from a fund that collects, monthly, from R$11,000 to R$18,000 every month [sic] in each of the 52 favelas dominated by the organization.
This is the first time I have every seen a candidate hard number on the number of shantytowns dominated by a drug gang. Allegedly, 90 to 100 of the poor neighborhoods are dominated by militias now”
(BTW: current exchange rate between the real and the US dollar is about 2 to 1 - so you you know how much it costs to take down a metropolis).