Sunday, 9/11/11

America’s short attention span has been well noted. Today’s Dire Events line tonight’s birdcage and are replaced by tomorrow’s Brainless Trivia. And we sail on into Whatever. We’re so inundated with disconnection and dissociation we can’t possibly file it where we can find it, and so we lapse into short-term memory loss.

Well, the zen masters say, “Live in the present.” I think they may have also said, “But be cognizant of the past,” but I’m not so clear on that part.

Very little is known about how the brain works. Much of that ingnorance is concentrated in the realm of memory and recall. And, of course, my main personal resource is the Science section of the Tuesday New York Times. So don’t quote me to people who actually know stuff unless you want to get laughs. This won’t stop me, though.

A couple of years ago, I read “somewhere” that memories seem to be stored in arrays of binary cells. These cells are either “empty” or “full”. Either they hold a miniscule electronic charge, or they don’t. And the pattern of empty/full constitutes the memory.

This is exactly the way files are stored on hard drives, which either gives some weight to the idea (human inventors follow the body’s model) or doesn’t (I ‘heard’ that’s the way computers work, and reasoned backwards).

Most memories are stored in one or two thousand places (there’s soo many cells in your brain…). Yet, they can be wiped out with one “shot” (don’t ask me of what. the NYT didn’t go into that).

But when something Really Big happens, the memory is stored Everywhere, Just so we don’t forget it until we die.

We can’t avoid it. Everywhere we turn, there it is.

My clearest memory of That Day, ten years ago, was of a friend of my daughter’s. She was at work in a neighborhood 4-hour photo processing place. In those days, there was this business with kiosks in supermarket parking lots. You drove up to the kiosk, handed over your one-shot instant cameras with the exposed film sealed inside, then came back a couple hours later and picked up your pictures.

This girl worked in the lab, a windowless garage-like room equidistant from four or six kiosks. Her job was to collect the prints and the negatives and make sure they wound up in the right envelopes. Around noon, she began to notice fewer backyards and grandmas and more city street scenes, some quite dramatic, some downright scary.

She called her mother, who was at home, not work. And that’s how she found out.

Illicitly, she copied one print several times. It was of several New York City buildings, surrounding a patch of empty sky. Where the Towers once were.

I still have the print, I’ll run it, as soon as I can find it.

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Wednesday: Third Republican Mass Debate Held Tonight

To celebrate the season, the Republicans will hold their third Mass Debate of this election tonight at 8. As before, the candidate-hopefuls will arrive together, driven directly onstage in a Morris Mini.

Each question will be directed to a particular candidate. However, there are rule changes in the debate itself. The addressed candidate will have three minutes in which to respond uninterrupted. Thereafter, any other candidate may try to disrupt that speech with his seltzer bottle. If he/she succeeds, that candidate will have one sentence’s grace in which to make a statement. The sentence may run on. When it comes to a period, however, that candidate becomes fair game.

In the interests of conciseness, all candidates will be limited to three CO2 cartridges.

This format will prevail through the first 45 minutes of the debate. The second 45 minutes will feature water balloons and Super-Soakers. But polls say most of the viewers await with true eagerness the third 45 minute segment. There the candidates will have at their disposal armories of Boston cream pies, reportedly in unlimited quantities. Also in this segment, the co-moderators, Brian Williams, anchor of the NBC Nightly News, and John F. Harris of Politico.com, will be equipped with their own supply of cherry, blueberry and lemon meringue pies.

The first section of tonight’s proceedings will focus on the question, “If you were a plant, what plant would you be?” The second section will consist of questions dealing with he economy, such as, “What will The Count count next?” Finally, it will explore what Rick Perry hoped to gain by starting all those fires, other than a drastic increase in fire fighting jobs.

Seltzer bottles for tonight’s festivities are provided courtesy PepsiCo. Red bulbous noses and floppy shoes are courtesy Target Stores. They will bear the familiar bull’s-eye logo on their tips.]]>

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South Bombarded By Exploding Tomatoes

“I was standing out on my back porch at 3 this morning,” said Otis Mewwee, of London, Alabama. “I could hear them going off even in the far fields.”

“We only have a small garden patch, a row of plants out by the garage,” said Leslie Havens, an urban resident of Shreveport, LA. “Sometime after midnight, I was awakened by what sounded like gunfire. I got my wife and kids and we all hid, squatted down in the bathroom. I mean, we were scared. It was scary.”

Tomatoes don’t explode only at night. Jake Knox, of the South Carolina Extension Program at the University of South Carolina, explained. Cloudy days are more likely to accompany the detonations, but they can occur on sunny days as well.

“Between the excessive moisture of the last sixteen weeks, and the naturally high mineral content of the soil, you’re bound to get some detonation in the more bulbous vegetables,” Knox said. “Usually, these are your tubers, your potatoes, turnips, parsnips and such. But it can occur in viney fruits such as tomatoes as well.”

While there have been no reports of exploding potatoes yet, Knox suspects this is due to the fact that tubers grow underground.

“Come harvest time, they’ll find their turnips’re pre-mashed, I’m afraid.”]]>

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Thursday – the last Thursday in June!

BBC, known world-wide as a sober, clear-minded organization free from prejudice and unaffected by influence, today reported such an array of bizarre shit as to stagger the under-informed mind.

Check this out:

“- ‘Indestructible’ botnet uncovered
More than four million PCs have been enrolled in a botnet security experts say is almost “indestructible”. The botnet, known as TDL, targets Windows PCs and is difficult to detect and shut down.

A ‘botnet’ is a network of home PCs that have been infected with a virus that allows the infector to criminally access the computer. Sometimes, these criminals simply steal data from the infected computers. At other times, they use the infected computers to send out spam, or commit cyber-assaults on other victims.”

This botnet has been through three revisions. The current version, TDL-4, infected 4.5 million computers in the last three months. It installs itself mostly from booby-trapped porn and bootleg movie sites, but has been also found on sites that offer storage of videos and stills.

Find the article here.

And there’s an article about a monster black hole, so far from Earth that the light we’re seeing left it in less than a billion years after the Big Bang. And we all know how cool that is.

But wait, there’s more:

– Bug makes record noise with penis

Scientists from France and Scotland recorded the aquatic animal, Micronecta scholtzi, “singing” at up to 99.2 decibels, the equivalent of a passing freight train, or a loud orchestra heard from the front row.

This creature, an insect – a water bug – makes its noise by rubbing its penis against its abdomen, a process known as “stridulation”.

What researchers found remarkable was that the creature that makes this enormously loud sound is less than 2mm in total length. The article did not specify the length of its penis. They say it does not matter. Song is song. I wonder.

If you’re like me, you may have had occasion to do just this sort of thing in the course of mating, ritualistic or not. I must say, in those times, I may well have sung. And if so, I’m sure it compared to a passing train.

You can find the article here.

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The Holy See in the 21st Century

From msnbc.com, we learn, “The Vatican has announced the launch of a social media-integrated official news website, news.va …” According to reports, it will be launched by a mouse click from Pope Benedict XVI himself, surrounded by cherubin and seraphim and serenaded by the music of instruments of nine and eleven strings.

Concordant with this announcement was that of Msgr. Phenal G. O’Reilley, of St Cayetano’s parish in Youngstown, Ohio. According to him, confessional kiosks will soon be available to the public. The first will be in Youngstown, but soon thereafter they will start appearing in cybercafés in Cleveland, Toledo, and Weirton, WV.

Confession will first be ‘heard’ via chat. Within the year, though, a complete changeover to Skype is expected. At that point, the confessionals will be equipped with microphones and cameras, although use of the camera is up to the penitent.

The kiosk, which will have a door similar to any other confessional, will contain a kneeling pew and a computer, firmly mounted and secured. The computer screen will show the usual confessional screen, with the shadow of a man seeming to move about behind it.

Plans now include 24/7 operation. In off-hours (midnight – 8am), the process will be entirely automatic. The computer will run a program called “Confessor”, a variation of the famed “Eliza” program designed at MIT in the early ’60’s, which seemed to conduct psychoanalysis. It is said to be responsible for many cures in the Cambridge, MA, region.

“Eventually, I’d like to see the kiosks offer communion, too,” said Msgr. O’Reilley. “It all depends on whether we can find wafer-vending apparatus that can hold a blessing.”

In other news, former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich characterized himself as “stunned” by guilty verdicts in his corruption trial. “I figured I’d covered my tracks pretty good,” he said. “Better than that, anyways.”

Blagojevich will join George Ryan as the only two living ex-Governors of Illinois who are currently in prison.

Yesterday, CitiCorp absent-mindedly reported that last month’s hack of their system ‘seems to have resulted’ in a $2.7 million robbery. Coincidentally, Gary Foster, a former CitiGroup VP, was arrested that afternoon as he got off a plane from Bangkok at JFK Airport for embezzling $19 million and change. Arraigned this morning, Mr Foster pled innocent and claimed his CPA, a Mr John Smith of Goldman, Sachs, could account for his every penny.

And Bernie Madoff, fraudulent ‘financier’, complained that the 150-year prison sentence he received from Judge Denny Chin was “way harsh.” Judge Chin replied, “Hahahahahahahahahahahaha, that’s rich.”

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