Thursday, September 29, 2011

It's Free Coffee Day

A few years back America began a National Coffee Day, which is today, and a few places (like Krispy Kreme) offer free cups of coffee today. Of course, this very Cup of Joe you are reading is ALWAYS FREE (if you have internet access).

There's some old folklore which claims coffee beans eaten by goats clued in some Ethiopian goatherds to the magical bean, but more likely the bean wasn't really noted by anyone until around the 15th century at Sufi monasteries in Yemen. For some time, European Christians labeled it a "Muslim drink" but Pope Clement VIII deemed it a "Christian drink" in 1600. (More history here.)

A more recent theory has arisen that the development of coffee houses in Europe gave rise to the French and American Revolutions, and more, such as the modern business model, since both Lloyd's of London and the London Stock Exchange began first as coffeehouses - more on this theory in this video:

For me, and hopefully for you, a daily dose of a good cup of coffee is the foundation of civilized life.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Lightsaber Battle 2011, plus Daffy Duck Heavy Metal Wizard

Call us/them Nerds, pop culture junkies, geeks, dorks, obsessive fans, or anything you wish - it does not stop them. I for one consider the first video below a bit of proof that folks in Manhattan are pretty cool - witness this year's annual Lightsaber Battle held in Washington Square Park.

Kids and adults join for a bit of silly White People behavior, abandon all worries of the world and I'm pretty sure only Americans would do this.

Nerd Alert Number Two:

What happens when the new Looney Tunes TV show takes the slobbering Daffy Duck, turns him into a wizard, complete with an elfish harem and a heavy metal theme song? (Again, more silly White People fun, but as a Nerd, I like it jes' fine, thanks.)

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The Afghan War & Party Balloons

From the Who Knew Files:

Massive helium-filled spy balloons are in demand in Afghanistan, but getting the helium is getting much harder:

Demand for helium in Afghanistan has shot up, from 49,000 cubic meters to fiscal year 2009 to an estimated 531,000 cubic meters this year.

"Getting mega-blimps to landlocked Afghanistan is no cakewalk. Once filled, these spy blimps can’t be deflated at the risk of messing up their flight control surfaces. This means that helium either needs to be flown to a base where the blimps have to be filled up, or they have to be inflated in the U.S. and then shipped over to Afghanistan in a giant container."

Here at home, party stores are pondering the day when the planet has no more helium for balloons or all the other industries that need it:

Like oil and coal, helium is a limited natural resource, and as the supply dwindles, cost rises. "It's been like a 20 percent increase in helium but like gas prices as well, everything else has to go up," Berardi said.

"Did you know that MRI scanners use helium to cool magnetic imaging? Nuclear reactors and liquid-fuel rockets also use helium. And this natural gas detects leaks in vacuum systems."

Who knew?

Monday, September 26, 2011

Maybe You Can Vote, Maybe Not

Certain Tennesseans will have a tougher time voting next year, thanks to a Big Government push from state Republicans (and their out-of-state lobbyists like ALEC).

Via Knox Views, State Senator Roy Herron writes that his mother is one person among many who will have to pay to get the ID the state now demands, but only half the state's counties provide a way to get the necessary ID:

Only 43 of Tennessee’s 95 counties have such centers. Half the counties in West Tennessee, and two-thirds of the counties in my state Senate district, don’t have them. Some of the rural Tennesseans I represent will have to drive from their county through a second county and into a third to reach the closest driver’s license center — a trip of 40 to 60 miles each way. Taking a day off work and with gas averaging $3.58 a gallon, even at minimum wage the expense of travel and lost wages will cost people perhaps an additional $80 to $100 to exercise their constitutional right to vote.

This cost of this process—in many cases totaling $110 to $135, if not more — is such a burden that for many voters it will amount to disenfranchisement.

My Republican colleagues claim this legislation is necessary to prevent voter fraud, citing a state Senate election in Memphis in 2005 in which votes were recorded from two deceased people. But the fact is that the culprits in that case were dishonest election workers, not voters. Photo ID cards would not solve that problem."

Here's a map of state locations to get a new voter ID.

It seems clear the simplest way to create a photo ID for voters would have been to alter the current voter registration card issued by counties to include a photo. That would cost money - so rather than the state fund it, you now have to pay for the changes. (Either way, residents are paying). Even better, require each county's election office to verify applicants who want to register to vote (which they already do).

There is no proof voting fraud is widespread. Supporters of the new ID say that lack of proof is itself suspicious. The end result of this change seems clear - many voters, already discouraged in participating in voting, have now another reason to sit out the next election.

Sen. Ron Ramsey says he'll give anyone who needs a ride to a photo ID location, if they call and ask for a ride. So, see, your elected officials will help you if you ask for help and, in their opinion, deserve it. Thanks soooooo much.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

You Can't Dance Like This, Can You?

Human folk have created amazing dances for thousands of years which can express so much with movement and music. Below, one man dances (in ways I cannot begin to explain) to a hit song from this year - and (as if i needed proof) it reinforces the simple truth that I cannot dance. He goes by the name Nonstop and has been working on his dance moves for 17 years. Impressive. (You should click on the video to watch in fullscreen mode.)