Out Of Control Camel

Posted in miscellaneous on June 24th, 2013 by Ira Altschiller – Comments Off on Out Of Control Camel

This was too funny not to post:

Mean Green Mother From Outer Space

Posted in miscellaneous, science on February 15th, 2013 by Ira Altschiller – Comments Off on Mean Green Mother From Outer Space

A pineapple doesn’t sing the song from Little Shop of Horrors, titled in this post, to Rick Moranis, but pineapples sure appear an inhabitant of an intergalactic sex den.

While most everyone is familiar with the pineapple fruit, many do not know what kind of plant produces it. 

That’s how this great essay about our friend the pineapple begins.

Some snips:

…has no direct connections to pine or apple trees. When Christopher Columbus first brought the pineapple back from Guadeloupe to Spain’s Queen Isabella in 1493, no one in Europe had even seen anything quite like it. The Spanish saw the fruit’s resemblance to a pine cone, and first called it “Pine of the Indies”. The English called it an apple because of its tasty fruits. The name pineapple comes from the combination of the Spanish “pina” with the English “apple”

It became a status symbol of the social elite. 

European colonists carried the pineapple symbol back to the Americas to represent “friendship” and as an image of “welcome”.

It’s almost exclusively from the New World…Pineapples are not grown from seed…They do not become sweeter if harvested earlier since there are no starch reserves to be converted to sugar…Pineapples also contain bromelain, a protein digesting and milk-clotting enzyme similar to pepsin. Bromelain is used commercially to tenderize meat and chill-proof beer.

And here’s the shocking truth:

The pineapple “fruit” is not really a fruit at all but is a mass of individual berries fused to the central stalk.  This is why the “fruit” has leaves on top.  They are actually the continued growth of the stalk beyond where the berries are attached.

What a great essay from Dr. T. Ombrello – UCC Biology Department.

Einstein, Beethoven, Dog Joke

Posted in ideas, miscellaneous on January 25th, 2013 by Ira Altschiller – Comments Off on Einstein, Beethoven, Dog Joke

In the eternal battle, not between good and evil, but between smooth and foamy, smooth wins. Einstein wins.

Space-time is smooth rather than foamy, a new study suggests, scoring a possible victory for Einstein over some quantum theorists who came after him.

Not a good idea, betting against Einstein.


There ought to be but one large art warehouse in the world, to which the artist
could carry his art-works and from which he could carry away whatever he needed…
– Beethoven

It’s called the internets, Ludwig.


Dog Joke

Why did the cowboy buy a dachshund?
He wanted to get a long, little doggy.

Summer Olympics 2012, Fini

Posted in miscellaneous, pop culture on August 13th, 2012 by Ira Altschiller – Comments Off on Summer Olympics 2012, Fini

Some impressions of the 2012 Summer Olympics:

Closing ceremonies tend to be a mess. Organized energy devolving into entropy. Meant to express Brit freedom of spirit, or some such, the closing ceremonies of the 2012 Olympics looked more like a fire drill in a mental hospital.

The 2008 Chinese ceremonies looked like a remake of Metropolis – the classic film portraying man as cog in a machine. The best part of the 2012 ceremonies came at the end – the sample of the 2016 spectacle to come, provided by the Brazilians, who know how to dazzle and perform – Carnival is in their veins.

The most exciting of the events we watched were the men’s and women’s 4×100 relays. A team of world class athletes works in track and field. Usain Bolt (perfect name) is a piece of work, but he walks the walk, so you’ve got to give it to him. More like Deion Sanders than Muhammad Ali though. The track and field events were mostly interesting. Allyson Felix was particularly impressive both as athlete and human being.

You have to give credit to Aly Raisman, who performed, in her gold medal routine, to a song meant to commemorate the Munich massacre. Jacques Rogge, spineless incompetent, refused to take any notice of the great tragedy of the 1972 Olympics in the opening ceremonies; an Olympics in which Rogge was a competitor. Three of the surviving murderers were released by West Germany, in another act of courage, to add to Germany’s grand historical record.

To their credit, the criticisms by Brian Williams and Bob Costas of the IOC decision to not memorialize the 40 year anniversary of the 1972 obscenity at the 2012 Olympic opening ceremonies were welcome and warranted denunciation.

You never knew when you tuned in what event would be shown. It quickly turned off the audience. Costas as usual was funny and sharp.

What the games really needed were more swimming and volleyball and diving and volleyball and synchronized swimming and synchronized diving and volleyball. Just can’t get enough of those ever fascinating sports. We really need an inclusion of Parcheesi as well. And tetherball.

The IOC panders to any interest group that lobbies for inclusion of their sport. That’s how the Olympics watered itself down and devolved into what it now is.

Matt Harding Is Back (update)

Posted in miscellaneous, pop culture on July 10th, 2012 by Ira Altschiller – Comments Off on Matt Harding Is Back (update)

Wherethehellismatt has kept its purity. I had loved Matt Harding’s first video, going around the world and just dancing his “stupid dance”. The current version is at Astronony Picture of the Day , or his site.

He was 23 when he did the first video. Now he is 35.

Matt became famous, viral, all that popular stuff, but somehow he has kept his innocence in this most recent video. He is a little more self-conscious I suppose. But the video asks nothing of you. Without guile – it makes no demands and has no agenda. It is not a specialist’s claim to dance skill; it is movement and music and human connectedness for its own sake.

It is human. It is touching. From that river did we arise.

For a moment, we too feel innocent.

south africa dance

South Africa


UPDATE (7/12/2012):
Here is a NYTimes interview with Matt by David Pogue.

The Secrets

Posted in ideas, miscellaneous on May 19th, 2012 by Ira Altschiller – Comments Off on The Secrets

Reddit had a thread about guild secrets. Things people keep within their cohort.

The following particularly resonated with me…

Sales – The more expensive something is, the less logic people use to decide if they are going to buy it. People will buy a 50k car because it’s red, and scrutinize the calories in a $1.50 snack.

Money equals status in contemporary society. People don’t have to think much to spend for an upgrade in status.

Writer/Director here: Actors are – by far – the most over-rated (and over-paid) profession! None of them can act their way out of a paper bag. If you see dailies, they’re just attrocious. If you look at the performances alone, a hundred million dollar film looks like a student film. There is only one reason why actors are so popular and command so much money: their editors! You wouldn’t believe how important a good editor is to a film or television performance. FAR more important than the actor him or herself…

Woody Allen, when asked of all the movie skills he had developed, from editing to directing, which he was most proud of. Writing, was his answer.

Surgical resident here: Many of the country’s most illustrious hospitals are teaching hospitals. At these institutions, the interns are usually the first responders to an emergency (well the first physician). As an intern, you have NO idea how many times i looked up a condition/treatment in a book/online while a patient is having an acute episode of something i should be taking care of right away. Beyond that, residents are still challenged with things they have NO IDEA how to handle but the patient is decompensating fast so they do their best while a nurse or someone calls the attending physician to bail him/her out.


Journalist: Ultimately it’s about the reader’s entertainment, not so much the relevance of the story.

No surprise here. Journalism has been engulfed by celebrity media. Journalists, at least in America, think they are stars.

I do lighting for film and television. Not exactly rocket science, but a fun and highly variable job. Our secret is, that anyone could do our job, so the way we keep people out is that everything has a slang name. It’s a language unique to the job, but it also results in some really fucked up sentences like…
“Someone kill that baby!”
“Today, we are going to hang some blacks.”
“Stick a buttplug in that redhead.”
“That diva belongs on a pancake.”

Guild talk is the secret to success.

Recruitment. Racism & ageism is a hell of a lot more prevalent than you would believe.

It never fails to amaze how people who think themselves good people will leak poison.

Therapist: most people get into the field as a result of their own personal struggles or messed up families. As a field, we are probably the most “messed up”

This is no surprise, but a medical doctor can still help, even if they themselves can get sick.

I recently learned that comedy writers compose anecdotes for guests on late night talk shows like Letterman and Fallon. It’s obvious once you know this, but I’m embarrassed to say that I had no idea this occurred.

I remember once seeing Letterman hold up a card in the midst of an interview and say, you know, I don’t make up this stuff, people write it for me.

Sushi chef: Ahi Tuna is actually just Yellow fin tuna, its the lowest quality sushi grade tuna you can get. People come in all the time and ask if we have Ahi,then scoff when I say that we carry Big Eye and Blue fin which is the highest grade you can get.

This was new to me. Use an unfamiliar Asian word and you are off to being a specialist.

Meteorologist (in school): The 5-day or 7-day or longer forecasts are completely useless and only made because people would get upset if we didn’t. You could probably do just about as good yourself on anything more than 48 hours away just by reasonable guessing based on the time of year.

I wonder how many people actually remember what the 7 day forecast said 7 days ago about today.

So you mean, predictions about weather 100 years from now are designed to serve a political purpose? And people who reverentially intone science, don’t know what it is?

People actually die so quick from one breath of super heated air that they can remain standing up.

Whoa. There is one I’ve never seen in a movie. Truth is stranger…


These all have the satisfying clang of truth.

It’s the sound of a tree falling in a deserted forest, unfortunately. People want to believe things are alright, authorities have the answers, and it is safer to conform, anyway. Who can blame them?

The Rosetta Project

Posted in ideas, miscellaneous on May 4th, 2012 by Ira Altschiller – Comments Off on The Rosetta Project

Stewart Brand has found a worthy project for himself in The Rosetta Project.

“In this century, 50 to 90 percent of the languages will evaporate under the current circumstance.” 

Brand is trying to do for language what E.O. Wilson is doing for the species of the world.

Record them, and by subtext, recognize them, and hope posterity will continue the project. They say in this article that this is reminiscent of Wikipedia – another wonderful implementation of hive mind. The mob can be turned to useful purpose with a valid and clear goal defined. Strange how seldom that clarity is achieved.

This is a noble project. Language is so intertwined with human character, thinking, religion and art – the world, the universe of a particular people at a unique time – that it warrants the honors of a museum, and the tending of a garden.

Cate Blanchett and Appearance

Posted in ideas, miscellaneous on March 22nd, 2012 by Ira Altschiller – Comments Off on Cate Blanchett and Appearance

Cate Blanchett’s appearance on a magazine cover without makeup and without Photohop mods has been getting some notice.

The mere fact it is being noticed says something about how far the acceptable modification of appearance has gone. It has become a default that public figures look like poured out clones of themselves. We have newscasters now that look like Jack Haley as the Tin Man in the Wizard of Oz: metallic men and women; bronzed out grotesqueries.

It doesn’t look good, it looks odd. Public figures have whitened teeth which would illuminate a book for night reading. I had wondered when HD came along how the media would handle the clarity that had long been seen in photography and was mitigated by Photoshopping. What would TV do with its celebrities now that the picture was so sharp? They airbrushed the performers.

The plastic surgery brigade, an industry which has infiltrated public and and private life, has manipulated the comical distortions of modification into a visual meme of desirable appearance. This is a form of religious indoctrination requiring astonishing denial on the part of the audience.

Vanity is a form of insecurity. The media establish a bizarre aesthetic for beauty and become then the only source of expiation from the horror of ordinary appearance by selling you fixes. The commercial culture is intent on making people feel inadequate and then hawking something, via guru of one sort or another,  to make them feel better.

This natural appearance presentation of the household gods of pop culture has been done, and heralded, before, as noted in the article linked above; but Blanchett’s cover points it out once again: there is something Orwellian about the necessity for people to periodically assert their human appearance. As an attention getter.


Gizmodo: Comedy Comment Central

Posted in blogging, miscellaneous on August 3rd, 2011 by Ira Altschiller – Comments Off on Gizmodo: Comedy Comment Central

A small shop of developers in Australia got treated unfairly on Amazon’s App Store and wrote about it on their blog; the post was carried by Gizmodo, which then generated a series of laugh out loud comments:

How is this even a Story ? This is seriously one of the Stupidest Post i have Ever read

Matt Buchanan @JonThomasDesigns
How is you even a Commenter ? This is seriously one of the Stupidest Comment i have Ever read.

Brian Barrett @Matt Buchanan
How is this even a Reply ? This is seriously one of the Stupidest Reply i have Ever read

AgentRockstar @Brian Barrett
How is this even a Thread? This is seriously one of the Stupidest Threads i have Ever read

Joe Brown @Brian Barrett
How is you guys even have jobs? This is seriously one of the Stupidest Employment Situations i have Ever read.

Philip.J.Fry @AgentRockstar
How is this even internet? This is seriously the stupidest internet I’ve ever experienced.

Netflix: On. A. Roll.

Posted in computers, miscellaneous on July 19th, 2011 by Ira Altschiller – Comments Off on Netflix: On. A. Roll.

So after trying to access Netflix streaming we were finally requested to reset our password. When that did not reconnect us we followed the Wizard of Trouble and found it was not Netflix that was to blame, but rather Samsung. So Netflix said. So, knowing that was unlikely, we kept trying and finally logged in via Sammy app. Or not. Because each device had to be reset. This covered, intermittently, a six hour period.

Now we’ve read today online that we were not the only ones with Netflix issues. In fact they are offering, via email, a whopping 3% refund. If you get the email. And if you click the link. This would amount to say, thirty cents. We never received the email.

Netflix has raised its prices in an ungainly fashion. They have raised those prices 3%. I mean 60%. Netflix made no online effort when there were problems to tell customers; let them eat cake and waste time. And today, the coup de grâce, we received a DVD which was cracked.

Stuff happens, but this begins to accrue to a bad smell.

Steve Martin’s Scurrilous Act

Posted in miscellaneous, pop culture on April 13th, 2011 by Ira Altschiller – Comments Off on Steve Martin’s Scurrilous Act

Well I was about to stop my regular checking of Steve Martin’s tweets, but then Steve put out a heartfelt appeal for an opening line for a “new scurrilous stand up” act.

Steve came up with,

Hello, muckel fucles. I see a lot Scurvy Bar Nuns here tonight. Sweet Haile Selassie, barn f’narkin, Milk-a-Whats. Kiss my sassafras.

Now this is good, in the sense of good, but I suggest,

Wellcum, my lively anacondas. Serve your muster with luffin and please stop muckin’ with my pecka-dillos if you want my so-sweet san souci!

It’s, it’s…nice. I think it is the exclamation mark that resolves to the purity that is Steve.