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Really, *really* valuable puke!

Man finds stinky lump of sperm whale vomit worth £100,000.

Its other name is ambergris. It’s used in perfume. Mmmmm-mmmm! It’s a rare man who thinks to himself, “I found this horrible rancid chunk of crap on the beach…lemme just go look that up on the internet!”

This is a good book on perfume: The Secret of Scent. Looking at the books linked at the bottom of that page, there are a lot of other interesting-looking titles there.

Smell is intriguing. I like smells. But my own sense of smell is very poor, so I’ve always been reluctant to wear scent, in case I make a terrible scent faux pas.

What if I wear too much? And what if I smell like whale vomit?

January 31, 2013 — 11:03 pm
Comments: 51


Shit. Shit, shit, shit.

I picked up an address book virus yesterday. Which means, if you and I exchanged emails recently, you may have gotten an email from an account you don’t recognize (my root ISP account), subject “hi” contents a blind link.

If you click that link, you will spend a delightful day — as I just did — cleaning up the computer and writing apology emails.

The good news is, Malwarebytes cleans it right up. The bad news is, you probably won’t realize you’ve got it until after it drops a load on all your friends, neighbors and important business contacts.

I have never kept an address book since leaving a cubicle, but I hit a button somewhere recently that put every email I reply to automagically into mine. Hence, recent contacts only.

The worst part is, now my real name is out there.

That’s right, suckas — my name is stoat.e.weasel!

January 30, 2013 — 10:48 pm
Comments: 31

Whoa. This thing.

We’re watching a really excellent 3-part BBC 4 series on wood carving in Britain (I’d link, but I don’t think the video works outside the UK). At the beginning of the program, as an example of Tudor carving, they spent a few minutes taking loving closeups of this thing. It’s a lot more impressive up close than it looks in my little picture.

It’s the façade of a house built by the wealthy merchant Sir Paul Pindar in London in 1599, back when Bishopsgate was rural. It covered the first and second floor front bay windows (that’s second and third floor to my fellow Americans). After his death, it housed a succession of foreign ambassadors. It survived the Great Fire of London in 1666 (a third of the city didn’t) only to become part of the London workhouse system, housing ‘poor children, vagabonds, beggars, pilferers, lewd, idle, and disorderly persons’. The ground floor was a pub called Sir Paul Pindar’s Head (O, fame!).

In 1890, they pulled the house down to enlarge the station at Liverpool Street, but somebody had the good sense to preserve this bit and give it to the Victoria and Albert museum. Here are all the articles relating to the facade from the V&A’s website, which includes some great stuff about the restoration and conservation. I love reading about conservation.

Three hundred years out of doors, this thing. In London. That’s oak for you

Oh, and here’s the BBC page on the woodcarving program — episode 2, The Glorious Grinling Gibbons. Again, probably won’t play for you outside the UK, but he’s totally worth a Google Images search.

There’s a vulgar joke about wood in here somewhere, I feel sure

January 29, 2013 — 11:47 pm
Comments: 20

A weirder tip than most

flat belly

Y’all ever click this sucker? If you did, you likely saw a totally different product than I did. That was the scam — it was an advertising frontend that could be rented by anyone with a diet product.

And some very dodgy companies lurked behind it, too. The Washington Post traced it down a couple of years ago (which was only right, since the Post was one of dozens of ‘respectable’ sources that ran the ad). Most of these scams demanded your credit card details before sending “free” samples — later followed by regular, hard-to-cancel shipments of expensive products.

And needless to say, there was no “one weird trick.” I clicked the ad hoping to squeeze a post out of it, and was whisked away to an audio presentation which warned me up front to listen all the way to the end for the one weird trick. And then droned on and on about “I didn’t know what to do, but I knew I had to lose weight. My wife and I were very concerned that being overweight would affect our health, and we had children to worry about.” In its way, it was a masterpiece of utterly contentless chatter. I wish I’d hung on to see how long they could keep that up, but I’m not entirely sure the damn thing didn’t sneakily loop back on itself.

After half an hour, I lost it and closed the page…and got the entirely predictable series of breathlessly panicky pop-ups offering me specials and freebies and warning me I was turning my back on the offer of a lifetime. I have no effing idea what they were selling.

Thing is, this thing ran for months and months. Remember? It ran in the LA Times and the Washington Post and dozens of other places I visited, and I can’t help but think it succeeded so well because no-one could believe an out-and-out con would show its face in so many respectable places.

Eventually, the FTC shut down the marketers behind the front end. But, honestly, I don’t see how Google (the ad server) could be so casual about the company it keeps. And I don’t understand why papers like the Post and the Times weren’t up in arms about the hit to their reputation.

Having said that — ahem — I’d practically forgotten I had sidebar ads until I got a message from AdBrite tonight telling me they’re going out of business at the end of the month. So, ummm…if my spotless reputation has been used to sell you bath salts and Russian hookers, I’m really very sorry. I’ll stop doing that as soon as I feel like digging around in my sidebar code and extracting the ad dingus.

Until then…errr…I wouldn’t click on anything over there.

January 28, 2013 — 11:42 pm
Comments: 42

Journalistic standards

So the headline in the Telegraph is Man grows new nose in his arm. Must click, right? And it’s illustrated with…a picture of the professor supervising the experiment.

Oh, come on, Daily Telegraph: you wrote that headline, don’t go all bashful and coy on us now. Show us the fucking nose!

I had to drop the doctor’s name into Google and paddle around until I found the Daily Mail take on it, from last May. Yes, they sent a photographer to the lab and got a picture of the fucking nose. Yes, that thing up there is the fucking nose.

Y’all may remember I have a hate on for the Mail. It’s a bottom-feeding, shit-stirring hyperventilating rag. It’s all trout pouts and baby bumps and catching some reality TV actress with her eyes half closed and calling her drunk(?) (the question mark confers legitimacy). But, hey, at least they have the minimal journalistic chops when they’re making an astonishing claim about a nose to show me the fucking nose.

Oh. Yes. That growing a nose in your arm thing is pretty cool, too. Here’s a more recent Mail article that better illustrates how they’re doing it.

Have a good weekend, folks. Don’t grow any noses in awkward places! (But if you do — pictures!).

January 25, 2013 — 10:18 pm
Comments: 27

Okay, this is just dumb

Why are we even talking about what’s in Feinstein’s stupid bill? She doesn’t have the votes to get it out of the Senate alive. Not a hope in hell to get it through Congress. Everybody’s just flapping gums.

So, what’s going on here? I can think of a couple of good political reasons to promote a pointlessly doomed bill.

One, if it really were very popular with the electorate. If We the Pooples really wanted this thing and the legislature shot it down, she could score some points headed toward the mid-Term. But we don’t. Every single article about gun control these days calls it the “powerful gun lobby” — that’s another way of saying “popular gun lobby.” And everybody knows it.

Two, she hopes to bring it to a vote so the vulnerable Democrats from gun-loving states can score points by voting it down. But, damn, that’s a dangerous game — remind everyone that the Democrat Party is the party of thur commin’ fur ar guns.

I’ve got a feeling, none of the above. It’s just political puppet theater, like a grinning Nancy Pelosi strolling through an enraged crowd with a giant clown-hammer after passing Obamacare. It’s like they hate Red State America so much, they can’t help giving us the middle finger every chance they get. Even if it costs them dearly.

So, an assist for the good guys, I guess. Thanks, Dianne. Roll on, 2014!

January 24, 2013 — 9:31 pm
Comments: 31

Roundabouts, bogroll and sexy, sexy toads

Three from the local paper.

The Roundabout Appreciation Society is coming to Sussex. To appreciate our roundabouts. Duh.

The society started in 2002 with a calendar. That’s what they do, roundabout calendars. Wikipedia dryly notes “At the moment the association is trying to attract more women members.”

That thing in the picture isn’t in Sussex, though. It’s in Wiltshire. It’s known as the Magic Roundabout. It is a roundabout made up of five roundabouts. It gives the Roundabout Appreciation Society wood. I am softly crying right now.

Toilet paper! This museum in Chichester owns these disc things that it has been confidently displaying as ancient gaming pieces. Now they think maybe Romans wiped their asses on them. Whaddya know.

Also, toads. They’re going to put some tunnels in place to allow horny toads to cross the road in safety. Not horny toads, but toads that are horny (or is it “which are horny”? I never got that rule straight). Formerly, volunteers scooped them up into buckets by hand and carried them across the road.

Woo-woo! All aboard the Crazy Train to Crazy Town…!

January 23, 2013 — 11:23 pm
Comments: 42

Free the East Sussex Four

The chickens have not left the henhouse for a week, except the occasional short foray into the run for a peck. I wouldn’t put it past them to starve themselves into anemia.

It’s not the snow. It started two days before the snow, when we had a heavy, white frost. The chickens took one look and announced, “the grass is white. Grass is not supposed to be white. Ergo, we will not leave this small wooden enclosure until the grass ceases to be white.” And they meant it.

Changing the subject, Uncle B was up uncharacteristically early this morning. When I slouched out of bed several hours later, I asked him what was up. Said he was woken up by a Very Bad Smell. Which he decided was me, since I’d eaten a bowl of exceptionally garlicky soup for lunch.

Just now, I told him I was going to tell this story, he was all, like, “be fair — I did say I thought it might be the cat’s box.”

That’s supposed to be mitigation, you understand: he couldn’t decide which smelled worse, his sleeping wife or a dirty litterbox.

Huh. Anyway. Not guilty.

January 22, 2013 — 10:20 pm
Comments: 29

FLOTUS is dressing herself again, I see

So, did everyone enjoy Michelle’s new ‘do?

No, I didn’t watch a second of the inauguration. In fact, we’ve spent the day diving for the radio or the remote control to make SURE we didn’t watch a second of it. Sometimes, it’s the better part of wisdom just to walk away.

Reading the headlines lately — all this crap about a triumphant POTUS smashing the GOP — I get the feeling the other guys are just pushing my buttons for the fun of it.

I have a big brother. I recognize a First Degree Taunting when I get one across the muzzle.

Well, I don’t give permission for my buttons to be pushed. Nyah.

Enjoy the victory parties, Chumps. See you in 2014.


January 21, 2013 — 11:51 pm
Comments: 33

They can’t figure out how to get a trigger lock on it

Meet my neighbor, Beachy Head. It’s Britain’s #1 suicide spot. In fact, it’s the third most popular suicide spot in the world, after the Golden Gate Bridge and Aokigahara Woods.

It’s got a body count of about twenty a year, which doesn’t seem all that lethal, so I guess it just seems like somebody is jumping off the thing every ten minutes. Some lady jumped off it last night. This Summer, an old dude even drove off it in a Lark.

I don’t know what it takes to fling yourself off the end of that sucker, but I’m pretty sure I haven’t got any of it. It doesn’t matter right now, but I always like to have an exit strategy. Nome sane?

That’s one of the reasons I really, really hated leaving my guns behind when I moved: lost my exit strategy.

We’ve been talking about guns this week and I just want to say, it sticks in my craw that suicides are lumped in with other gun deaths when we talk about gun control. Seems to me, a successful suicide by firearm means that gun performed exactly the way its owner wished. I have a hard time classifying a correctly functioning tool — ethically applied, whatever the church and the law might say — as a problem.

And on that cheery note, have a good weekend!

January 18, 2013 — 10:52 pm
Comments: 29