Category: Society

South of the Border

Folks who live along the border (I mean, literally ON the border) of North Carolina and South Carolina are running into some issues because the states are re-calibrating the exact location of their shared border. One morning, these folks are paying South Carolina taxes and the next, they are citizens of North Carolina. At first, this may seem trivial, however for one guy who owns a gas station on land that he thought was in South Carolina, this border war is a major issue:

For example, one man owns land where he built a gas station in what he thought was South Carolina, but is now revealed to be North Carolina. He says his station will be worthless due to higher gas taxes in North Carolina, and that the business-boosting sales of fireworks is now illegal.

The governments of each of the states are assuring all people impacted (roughly 90) by the shift of the border will “be taken care of”, whatever that means. At least those folks who are unexpectedly becoming citizens of North Carolina can now support a basketball program (UNC – Chapel Hill) that has had decidedly more success than the program at the University of South Carolina.

Via Consumerist

Unexpected Guest

A couple in Manchester, England had a surprise guest visit their wedding – The Queen of England and Prince Phillip. It turns out that the Queen was attending an event related to her Diamond Jubilee within the same church and when she was done, she “popped in” to greet the new happy couple. Below is the video of the exchange:

Just Missed It

J.P. Morgan around 1912

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic (along with several other important 100th anniversaries including the opening of Fenway Park, the introduction of the Oreo Cookie, and the opening of L.L. Bean in Maine to name a few).

As the years pass, the story of the doomed ship continues to fascinate. Here is a list of famous people who just missed boarding the Titanic for its maiden and last voyage.

The list includes J.P Morgan (above), Milton Hershey, and Henry Clay Frick.

Predictive Modeling

Target’s customer targeting is so spot on that it was able to determine that a girl in high school was pregnant before her dad did:

An angry man went into a Target outside of Minneapolis, demanding to talk to a manager: My daughter got this in the mail! he said. ‘She’s still in high school, and you’re sending her coupons for baby clothes and cribs? Are you trying to encourage her to get pregnant?’

The manager didn’t have any idea what the man was talking about. He looked at the mailer. Sure enough, it was addressed to the man’s daughter and contained advertisements for maternity clothing, nursery furniture and pictures of smiling infants. The manager apologized and then called a few days later to apologize again.

On the phone, though, the father was somewhat abashed. “I had a talk with my daughter, he said. ‘It turns out there’s been some activities in my house I haven’t been completely aware of. She’s due in August. I owe you an apology.

via Forbes

Tarnished (LOT) Rings

The process that the Nobel Prize committee goes through in evaluating candidates for their renowned awards has always been a bit of a black hole. A little window into that process was revealed recently when, per tradition, the documentation and notes from the comittee’s thinking is released to the public 50 years after the award is made.

Back in 1961, J.R.R. Tolkien and his Lord of the Rings epic were nominated for the Nobel Prize for Literature but the Nobel committee felt his work was “second rate prose”. In addition to Tolkien, the Nobel committee dismissed the works of Robert Frost, EM Forster and other not to shabby writers.

The prose of Tolkien, who was nominated by his friend and fellow fantasy author CS Lewis, “has not in any way measured up to storytelling of the highest quality”, wrote jury member Anders Sterling. Frost, on the other hand, was dismissed because of his “advanced age” – he was 86 at the time – with the jury deciding the American poet’s years were “a fundamental obstacle, which the committee regretfully found it necessary to state”. Forster was also ruled out for his age “ a consideration that no longer bothers the jury, which awarded the prize to the 87-year-old Doris Lessing in 2007 with Sterling calling the author “a shadow of his former self, with long lost spiritual health”.

Nobel committee, the Eye of Sauron is upon you.

Via The Guardian (UK).

Who The Hell Is Ken Dahlberg?

Tricky Dick

Overshadowed by the passing of Steve Jobs, Kenneth Dahlberg also died on Tuesday October 4th.

“Who the hell is Ken Dahlberg?” President Richard M. Nixon asked on June 23, 1972, his voice captured on tape in the Oval Office. He would find out soon enough. Without Kenneth H. Dahlberg, Nixon might not have become ensnared in the Watergate scandal and been forced to resign.

Mr. Dahlberg, who died on Tuesday (October 4, 2011) at 94, became the unwitting link between the Nixon re-election campaign and the five men who, only days before Nixon’s remark, were charged with breaking into the Democratic National Committee headquarters at the Watergate complex in Washington.

He had been a fund-raiser for Nixon’s re-election campaign, and his name was on a $25,000 cashier’s check that had been deposited in the bank account of one of the burglars, Bernard L. Barker. The money was to help cover the burglars’ expenses, and Mr. Barker had withdrawn that amount in $100 bills. He was carrying more than $5,000 when he was arrested on June 17 (1972).

If Woodward & Bernstein don’t uncover the connection between Dahlberg and the Committee to Re-Elect The President (Nixon), the whole Watergate connection between Nixon and Watergate may not have been made. Or, it would have been exceedingly harder to uncover the connection.

As Deep Throat said, “Follow the money”.

I’ve said it several times, but to me, the unraveling of the Watergate scandal is still one of the most fascinating stories in history.

via The NY Times

Spongebob Is Just Fine, Thank You

Spongebob Squarepants

There has been a lot of press over the past two days about a study regarding Spongebob Squarepants that psychologists Angeline Lillard and Jennifer Peterson from UVA ran. In the study, they examined three groups of twenty 4-year-olds (not to be confused with 24 year olds who watch Spongebob :) one that watched SpongeBob for nine minutes, one that watched Caillou, and one that drew with crayons and they determined that SpongeBob’s “fast-paced” format harmed the children’s memory, attention, and self-regulation.

The present study found that 9 minutes of viewing a popular fast-paced fantastical television show immediately impaired 4-year-olds [executive function], a result about which parents of young children should be aware.

This study is completely bogus for the simple fact that they did not test against the core audience that Spongebob is targeted towards – which is any kid over 6 (or stoned college students). Plus, the burden of knowing what is right and wrong for your kid to watch needs to be decided by the parent, not some study from UVA.

My son loves Spongebob. He takes a Spongebob view of the world – in that he sometimes relates things he sees or experiences in real life to Spongebob’s world. For example, from a post of mine a few years ago:

My son is a big fan of Spongebob Squarepants and all his cronies from the Krusty Krab (OK, Daddy watches it here and there too :). So a couple of weeks ago he was watching the “Who Bob, What Pant” episode, in which Spongebob suffers amnesia and somehow finds his way to a town unknown to him called New Kelp City. In his visit to New Kelp City, he is referred to as a “jobless deadbeat”.

So with this context, I take you to my son’s Kindergarten class. His teacher is talking to the class about the poor Economy and specifically discusses how people are losing their jobs and are unemployed. So as any good teacher would do, she reviews the discussion with the class to see who was paying attention. And during this review, she asks the class “So class, what is the word for people who are not working?” And without missing a beat, my son raises his hand and blurts out “Jobless deadbeats!”.

I would have paid money to have seen his teacher’s face when he said this.

Ah, the wonderful world of Spongebob.

Summer Vacation?

PJ O’Rourke over at the WSJ vents his case against “summer vacation”:

Supposedly, summer vacation happens because that’s when the kids are home from school, although having the kids home from school is no vacation. And supposedly the kids are home from school because of some vestigial throwback to our agricultural past.

This is nonsense. The little helping hands of farm children were needed during spring planting and fall harvest. (And they must have been more helpful than the little hands of today’s children, or our grandparents would have died of starvation.) Farm kids, if they went to school at all, went in midsummer and midwinter, when nothing much was doing around the barn.

Summer vacation is, in fact, based on horse crap. American urbanization predated the automobile. Horses and what they leave behind them clogged cities that were already insalubrious from coal smoke, industry and notional sewage systems. Come summer, it was vacation time because “if you had any sense, common or olfactory, you vacated.”

I have to say, I love having the kids home from school but wow, it is a lot of work to keep them occupied and not at each other’s throats.

via the Wall St. Journal

Car Chargers Hitting England

Example of a charging station that will be installed in England

Over the next few months, electric car chargers will be installed in service areas owned by the Welcome Break chain and located along British motorways

Within 18 months all 27 service areas in the country that are owned by the Welcome Break chain will boast a spot for electric vehicle owners to top up or fully recharge using either the fast charge (32A supply), or the slower supply (13A) for an overnight charge if staying at the nearby hotel. Dale Vince, CEO of Ecotricity, argued that this is a major step toward more widespread acceptance:

Via TreeHugger

Escape From Detroit

Over the past 10 years, 25% of the population from the city of Detroit have left the city. To put that in perspective, when Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans, 29% of that city’s population left but that was a one time natural disaster catastrophe. The situation in Detroit is hardly a natural disaster, but more of a social and economic disaster.

Detroit is the only city in the United States where the population has climbed above one million but also fallen below one million, Mr. Beveridge said. And because of the magnitude of Detroit’s population drain, Michigan is the only state to register a net population loss since 2000. Michigan’s population fell by 0.6 percent while the nation’s as a whole grew by 9.7 percent.

The sad thing is that some of the buildings and architecture of the city of Detroit was, at one point during the city’s “heyday”, some of the most glorious you would ever set eyes on. Today, those amazing structures are in complete shambles. Let’s hope that current Detroit Mayor Dave Bing has the will to make some progress here and bring this city even a quarter of the way back to former self.

via NY Times

Audio History

As stunning as it may seem, we are in the 10th anniversary year of Sept. 11, 2001. And as part of the acknowledgement of this somber anniversary, Brooklyn startup Broadcastr will partner with the National Sept 11 Memorial Museum to publish an audio history of that fateful day:

As part of Broadcastr’s debut next month, it will host over 2,000 interviews with eye witnesses and first responders about their experiences on September 11th, 2001. About a week after the site goes public, Broadcastr will offer both iPhone and Android versions of an app that will be able to associate geolocation data with uploaded stories.

via swtched