First scientists decoded the Mona Lisa’s smile and decided she was 83% happy, 9% disgusted, 6% fearful, and 2% angry. Now they make her talk. You can hear her here, speaking in Italian on a Japanese web site. And her mouth even moves in a way they determined it really must have moved. What next, will we get to hear Whistler’s mother whistle?
Archive for May 2006
Want to exercise but hate to get winded, exert yourself, and (yuck-o-rama!) sweat? Get the new Cordless Jump Rope. Actually it’s not available yet — in fact there’s only one handle in existence — but if inventor Lester Clancy has his way they’ll be on store shelves soon. He even has a patent on it, so don’t even think about cutting the rope off your handles and trying to sell it. If this works out, look for hopscotch without the hard, dangerous sidewalk; jacks without those messy, hard to grab metal thingies; and Monopoly without the board, houses, hotels, and silly deed cards.
A group in Finland says residents there should be happy that they pay some of the highest income taxes in Europe. The Happy Taxpayers’ Association thinks Finns should focus on the public services they receive for their money rather than dwell on icky negative thoughts about having to fork it over to the government. Go ahead, just try to sell that one over here. Splinter organizations are bound to form, including the Our High Suicide Rate Keeps Growth Down Association, the Having More Cell Phones Than People Makes Sense Because We Have Two Ears Each Society, and the Reindeer-The Even More Other White Meat Recipe Board.
Now that you’ve finished reading The DaVinci Code, get ready for the next blockbuster book. Just before Iraq was invaded Saddam Hussein wrote a novel about an Arab tribesman who defeats foreign invaders. It had the charmingly alluring title Get Out of Here, Curse You. I guess The DeFeated Code was taken. It’s only available in Japan right now, where it’s called Devil’s Dance, but if the translator has her way it will be all over the place. “I really think this book should be made into a musical,” Itsuko Hirata said. “And once this is done, it should play in the heart of his enemy’s country, on Broadway.” May I be the first to suggest it include a song with the lyrics, “Springtime for Saddam, in Baghdad”?
The Romanian government is giving one of the country’s most popular tourist sites, the fabled Dracula Castle, back to its former owner after having taken it away 60 years ago. Okay, so Vlad The Impaler, the inspiration for Dracula, never lived there, he is “thought to have visited.” Maybe. It’s pretty certain he thought about visiting. Once, anyway. At the least he probably rode by it one day on his way to an impaling. In related news, magician Penn Jillette named his new son Zolten, which he says is not only a common Hungarian name, but also the name of Dracula’s dog. Well, when it’s spelled Zoltan it is, anyway.
The Public Commission on the Oregon Legislature adopted a recommendation Monday stating that legislators and staff members shouldn’t be drunk while performing their official duties. Sounds like a good idea. They don’t say how prevalent the problem is, but it sure could go a long way towards explaining politicians’ behavior and some of the laws they pass.
* Legislating Under the Influence
A survey by the British Dental Health Foundation found that more than 60% of Britons use items such as screwdrivers, scissors and earrings to remove food from between their teeth. [Insert favorite bad teeth, bad food, or British royalty joke here]
A group of scholars, businessmen and activists are paying a Los Angeles production company $1 million to produce a commercial that simulates the bombing of a Baghdad marketplace in the hope that it will convince people who are thinking about becoming suicide bombers to find a new avocation. They’re not saying what the ad campaign slogan will be, but possibilities include “Got bomb?”, “A marketplace is a terrible thing to waste”, “Iraqis, the other White Meat,” and “Bombs. They’re Unnatural.”
Yesterday the Senate voted to make English the “national language.” In another vote later in the day, they decided it should be the country’s “common and unifying language.” White House spokesman Tony Snow says President Bush supports both measures and doesn’t want to misunderestimate its importance. Today the Senate is expected to vote to call English the “language lots of us speak around here.” Why not quit the bickering and just call it the idioma nacional?
A survey sponsored by Websense found that half of Americans who have Internet access at work would rather give up their morning coffee than lose the ability to use the Internet for personal use while on the job. Of course that would increase the likelihood of falling asleep while watching videos of dorky teens lip synch to Romanian pop songs. The next thing you know we’ll find out workers would rather quit their job than not be able to take home office supplies, give up sex for making personal phone calls at work (unless it’s to a sex line), and not take lunch if it meant they had to give up their mid-afternoon nap in the supply closet.
Forget Chanel, Calvin Klein, and last week’s odor-of-the week, Stilton cheese perfume. In honor of the 50th anniversary of their kids’ modeling clay, Hasbro is releasing “Eau de Play-Doh.” Yes, it’s a perfume that smells like Play-Doh. After all, who doesn’t want to walk around smelling like a preschooler? Now if they’d only come out with Magic Marker cologne, Elmer’s White Glue eau de toilette, and Sweaty Armpits aftershave I’d be in heaven. And so would all the third-graders of the world.
Last week when Britain’s High Court handed Apple Computer a victory in a lawsuit against Apple Corps, BBC News 24 had Guy Kewney, an expert on Internet music downloads, on their consumer affairs show. After they went off the air they realized Kewney was still sitting in the green room and the man they interviewed was a London cab driver. Tune in next week when Tony Blair will join them to talk about his political future. Or maybe it will be Tony the Tiger. Then again, it might be Blair Underwood. Maybe they should start checking IDs at the door.
Paris Hilton stopped by the Electronic Entertainment Expo in Las Vegas Thursday to promote her new video game that can be played on a cell phone. “I’m really excited to have my new video game, ‘Diamondquest.’ Thank you all for coming, and you can download the game,” she said. Unfortunately the video game is called “Paris Hilton’s Jewel Jam.” Obviously it won’t be giving Brain Age any big competition.
If you thought perfumes by Beyonce, Britney, and David Beckham were cheesy, wait until you try Eau de Stilton, a scent created for Britain’s Stilton Cheese Makers Association. They say it “features a symphony of natural base notes including Yarrow, Angelica seed, Clary Sage and Valerian.” With whiffs of stale milk, mold, and a top note of Carr’s Sesame Water Crackers.
As if it wasn’t good enough to find out that drinking red wine can help protect against cancer and heart disease, a new study shows that it can also protect against hearing loss as you age. Dr. Jochen Schacht of the University of Michigan Medical School says red wine, green tea, and white aspirin can all help keep you from going deaf. The downside is that if you drink red wine with friends, wouldn’t you rather they didn’t hear your slurred speech so well?
Goodyear is holding a contest to name their new blimp, with the person submitting the winning name getting use of the blimp for a day. Unfortunately the first phase, where you get to submit names, is over. Now all you can do is go to their site and vote for one of the Ten Most Boring Names Imaginable. Names like Liberty, Patriot of Peace, and Spirit of Endurance. *yawn* With suggestions like Spirit of the Hindenberg, Led-free Zeppelin, Filled With More Gas Than a Kennedy, and Kirstie Alley, there’s no doubt the blimp ride would have been mine.
David Blaine, the “magician” who has spent a week buried alive in a see-through coffin, hung out in a block of ice for 61 hours, and fasted for 44 days while living in a hanging Plexiglas box, came out of the 8-ft fish bowl he’s been living in for the past week. He’s doing well. Okay, other than the liver damage, pins and needles in his feet and hands, loss of sensation and rashes. Come on, David. Either go back to card tricks or move on to the finale — sawing your life in half.
For the second time in a year, New Jersey has dumped a state slogan. Last fall, acting Gov. Richard J. Codey rejected a highly paid consultant’s suggestion: “We’ll Win You Over” because he said it reminded him of when he was single and asked girls out on a date. Hey, it’s not like they were suggesting, “You Don’t Wanna Do Nuttin’ Do Ya?” So the state held a contest and “Come See For Yourself” won. Now they’ve dropped that for legal reasons, since it turns out West Virginia and other states already used that one. Hey, anyone heard of a Google search? So for now they have nothing. Maybe they should just use “New Jersey. If you can’t think of nothin’ nice to say, don’t say nothin’ at all” and be done with it.
A reporter for the German newspaper Bild am Sonntag asked President Bush what he felt was the high point of his presidency. It wasn’t winning the election. It wasn’t starting a war. Neither was it rejecting the Kyoto Protocol, coming up with the idea of enemy combatants, or finally having a chance to sit down and read My Pet Goat. According to Bush: “I would say the best moment of all was when I caught a 7.5 pound perch in my lake.” Hey, you can’t fry up and eat a Protocol, now can you?
First Bill Gates said he wished he wasn’t the richest person in the world. Then Nicole Richie admitted she’s “too thin.” What next, Angelina Jolie complaining she’s too famous, Tiger Woods bitching because he plays golf too well, and George Bush wishing he wasn’t the world’s foremost grammarian?