Happy fucking Wednesday. Here is a little motorcycle made out of lobster shells.
Happy fucking Wednesday. Here is a little motorcycle made out of lobster shells.
That is not, contrary to appearances, a picture of my grandmother (known to all as “Gramma” and god help you if you didn’t call her that but tried something more formal, ooooh she wouldn’t be having any of that, now. But it certainly does appear to be a picture of Gramma, for verily it looks very much like her down to the too-short haircut, and I’m pretty sure she had that shirt as well. But that’s actually a picture of ‘Murrican mucky-muck John Kerry trying and failing to blend in at a dance ceremony in Bali.
That is most definitely NOT what my Gramma would have done.
At her eightieth birthday my Gramma got up on the table and danced to Patricia the Stripper, and if she’d been at this shindig with Kerry she’d have gotten those temple dancers to do the Dougie before you can say “Gramma, you’ll break a hip!”
Speaking of hips, my Gramma was pretty. Hip. Follow along!
I was over on Facebook the other day, having taken too many flu meds to do any decent work, and my friend Cassandra was in need of distraction (what is it with the #DramaSec these days? People deleting accounts left and right. Assange taking a family quarrel to Twitter in front of two million followers. Takedown notices, bogus and not, flying all over the digisphere. Enough already, the new moon is over!) so I told her the following story, for distraction purposes only. Do not operate heavy machinery under the influence of this story. Do not read if pregnant (because you have better things to do with your few remaining hours of freedom) or breastfeeding (because it’s really, really hard to handle a baby and a laptop at the same time and what if puke gets in the keyboard, eh? You’ll wish you’d listened to me then!).
Where was I?
Oh yes, on Facebook, telling Cassandra a story about Tennessee. You see, it’s considered quite exotic in Ottawa, where my Gramma lived. And here is the story about my Gramma‘s travels to exotic Tennessee just as I told it to Cassandra, for lo, I am very lazy and I just copy-pasted it.
Now, Gramma did not drink. In my family, this alone makes her somewhat legendary. But Gramma was not above knowing the value of an alcoholic comestible, or of taking advantage of that knowledge by running what amounted to an arbitrage on the celebratory beverage in question, by the simple means of purchasing it in one physical location and transporting it to another, where its selling price was higher. The ungenerous would call this “bootlegging,” and it has been the start of more than one great Canadian fortune.
Gramma would take bus tours of what she called “my old people”, ie they were like five years older than her, but not as lively, down to Tennessee and Missouri to do whatever it is old people do there. Tours. Watch the Osmonds. That sort of thing. And coming back she would get them all to smuggle bottles of Jack Daniels anywhere she could find a space. Under lumbago cushions. In big granny purses. In wig cases. Everywhere. Once, she struck gold because a guy had been in a cast from his waist down to his toes for a couple of months and his leg wasted away and she could fit four bottles in the space between his leg and the cast. When they got to the border, she would just yell at the border guard, “THESE ARE SENIORS, YOUNG LAD! THEY NEED TO GO HOME AND REST!” and never once were they searched. She gave the bottles as wedding and Christmas presents, and would supplement the punch at family parties with it, among other things.
I find, upon leafing through the ol’ raincoaster archives, that there is indeed an actual picture of my Gramma. At my cousin’s house. Legally blind. Shooting at a turkey from the deck, beside a stack of beer cases, with a tank of propane between the muzzle of the gun and the target.
You go, Gramma!
The question is prompted by this post on Gawker, where I suddenly can’t comment anymore. Interesting; is this banning #7? Well, if it is, that’s the LAST time I try to add value to one of Adrian‘s posts. Anyhoodle, here are my thoughts on whether this Silk Road user and extortionist FriendlyChemist is a neighbor of mine in White Rock, BC.
FriendlyChemist, according to the article, threatened to out a list of online drug exchange Silk Road’s users, although whether he had actual addresses and real names or just usernames and PO Boxes is unclear. In response, Dread Pirate Roberts, the head of Silk Road, hired another user to kill him; the user reportedly sent back photos proving the deed, although the RCMP say no way was there a gory drug murder in White Rock. Is he really dead? Probably not; he probably posed for some pix and then split the money with the guy DPR (allegedly) hired to kill him. No honour among thieves and all that. If they’re in the drug business and they’re not using, they’re in it because they’re greedy; this is too good an opportunity to cash in for a businessman to pass up.
That’s the US you’re looking at there, Point Roberts to be specific. So if you’re an athlete, you can actually SWIM to the US.
Some background: White Rock is walking distance to the US border. There’s a border crossing with guards and everything, but you walk not far east and you can just walk into the US with no problems. Blaine, on the other side of the border, does a HUGE business with mailboxes for Canadians, who like to order from US sites and get delivery to the US and thus avoid all kinds of taxes, duty, and shipping fees. It is a major, MAJOR smuggling point and also a lovely, upscale retirement community.
Does anything go in the other direction? You bet! The Bacon Brothers, Canada’s most notorious drug lords, are based out of Surrey, which is literally across the street from White Rock. Not too long ago they shut down a helicopter flight training school which was just a front for pot deliveries from nearby Harrison Hot Springs (also lovely: come for the views, stay for the contraband!). And the Guardian famously profiled a commercial truck driver who smuggled pot over the border at the official truck border crossing nearby.
Could a major drug manufacturer be based out of White Rock? Probably not, since it’s almost entirely housing and upscale retail, but out of Surrey or any of the nearby semi-rural areas? You bet. And don’t forget that at one point it was estimated that over 80% of the heroin in North America entered via the Port of Vancouver. It’s just a part of the culture of the region to be drug-positive or drug-neutral. You can thank the increasing violence relating to organized crime for a recent turn against it in the public’s view.
I have no idea why we’re on this big Video Kick lately, particularly as we’re working on a computer that refuses to update Flash to something dating to this century, but we are. One is using the Royal We, of course. One wouldn’t mind using the Royal Wee on Prince Hot Ginge, whose birthday it is, should one ever get a chance with that nasty ginger, but it appears unlikely, as he does not travel in our elevated social circles. But I digress.
Here is one video that will simply creep you right the fuck out. It’s 1962 footage of the late Kenneth Stevens, Clarence J. LeBel Professor Emeritus of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at MIT, saying words. Saying words while being X-rayed. I’m not sure what possible super-powers one might receive from a session like this; perhaps alliteration? the ability to extemporize in rhyming couplets (rap)? But certainly the ability to live on as a creepy YouTube video. His official obit from MIT is interesting.
Stevens is best known for his “quantal theory of speech,” which explored why — despite the apparent diversity of sounds across different languages — human speech actually exploits only a small fraction of the sounds that the vocal tract can produce.
In 1952, while Stevens was completing his doctorate, the MIT linguist Morris Halle, together with colleagues Gunnar Fant and Roman Jakobson, proposed that all human speech sounds could be described as combinations of 20-odd “distinctive features,” such as the placement of the tip of the tongue, the shape of the tongue, whether the glottis (voice box) was opened or closed, the shape of the lips, and so on.
Stevens, who collaborated closely with all three men, observed that these distinctive features seemed to describe configurations of the vocal tract’s “articulators” — such as the tongue, glottis and lips — in which small deviations had little effect on the sounds produced. This is by no means true of all configurations: In most cases, small deviations would actually yield large sonic differences. But, Stevens argued, language users would naturally converge on the more stable configurations, which would lead to greater consistency in sound production.
Quantal theory was not, however, just a theory of speech production; it was also a theory of speech recognition. If humans had a limited repertory of sounds that they could produce reliably, then the auditory system may very well have evolved to key in on them. Stevens spent much of his career indefatigably investigating the implications of quantal theory, both experimentally and through mathematical modeling, frequently in collaboration with Halle and, later, with Samuel Jay Keyser, another MIT linguist.
In the pursuit of knowledge in this rarefied field, he produced and starred in the following creepy-ass video, asking that musical question, “Why did Ken set the soggy net on top of his deck?”
Transcript, courtesy of YouTube robots, who are comically inaccurate:
0:03 the fifth
0:09 the top
0:13 going there
0:15 is there
0:17 asar [that can't be right!]
0:26 that t
0:30 that uh…
0:31 the two
0:34 the talks
0:40 he interrupts
0:42 he are
0:44 the are
0:47 why didn’t care will set the starting next week on top of his deck
0:52 i have put blood on her to clean your shoes
Welcome to your Friday Late Night Dance Party, featuring Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky.”
First up, from 70′s tv fixture Soul Train (OMG there’s a Soul Train CRUISE!!!) via GOOD magazine. Hands up who learned these moves in Grade 7? And what ever happened to elephant baggies pants? Or satin pantsuits for the disco? And GET OFFA MY LAWN!
Next up, an entirely more Orthodox take on the smash hit, from Aish.com, released to celebrate Rosh Hashanah, and featuring some very hot breakdancing boys in need of more bobby pins.