Sunday, December 25, 2011

The latest notification from the Cybertonian Embassy

Jewish date:  29 Kislew 5772 (Parashath Wayyiggash).

Today’s event:  National Pumpkin Pie Day.


Today’s weird thing is the latest notification from the Cybertonian Embassy, delivered by a robot who looks like he/she will not take “no” for an answer:

Hey, jelly blobs!

It’s bad enough that the Hasbro toy company makes a killing off making us “Decepticons” look bad with their (mostly) stupid little plastic pieces of junk they pass off as toys (ones of myself excepted).  Humans are suckers for junk.  But now the Institute for Global Labour and Human Rights has put out a report on the kind of sweatshop they run to actually make these “toys.”  You can find the whole thing here:

Not pretty:  sweltering heat, child labor, vermin, body searches, fast-paced boring work for long hours, dangerous conditions.  That’s typical Autobot treachery if I ever heard of it.  Yeah, play all goody-goody and then pull this kind of sludge on the little squishies.  This would be illegal on Cybertron.  Someone should get their trunks vaporized.

Now it’s your turn to stop Hasbro from treating your fellow humans like automated floor scrubbers.  First, open up the Hasbro e-mail contact page.  You can find it here:

Put in your e-mail address, and then select “Transformers” as the product and “Customer Satisfaction” as the category.  Then cut and paste in this letter:





(yeah, your name goes here)

This past year it’s been like WHOA!  Little humans going nuts all over the planet, standing up for themselves!  I’d high-five you all if it wouldn’t break your hands!  We’ve done this before on Cybertron, all got together, and we totally won.  You can totally beat the humans who act like Autobots.  All you got to do is keep at it.  Pick someone doing wrong and make a fuss, going from one to the other, one to the other, one to the other...  So let’s start making noise over toys!

Embassy to Earth
Republic of Cybertron

Friday, December 2, 2011

An invalidated piano warranty and Muppets with the lights out

Jewish date:  6 Kislew 5772 (Parashath Wayyeṣe’).

Today’s events:  Special Education Day, National Fritters Day.


I know I do not blog anywhere nearly enough, and so today I give you two worthy weird things.

The first is The Bowed Piano Ensemble, which specializes in playing a grand piano in ways which piano makers probably never intended and probably invalidate the warranty.  They have a whole page of audio and video of their performances.

If that was not strange enough, the second is Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” covered by the Muppets.

I cannot possibly make something like this up, and I was surprised that the very serious Sam the Eagle had anything to do with this.  (Maybe they were trying to outweird 2CELLOS.)

Enjoy, share the weirdness, and Shabbath Shalom.


Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Unusual violas

Jewish date:  26 Marḥeswan 5772 (evening) (Parashath Toledhoth).

Today’s event:  Start Your Own Country Day.


A musical instrument which gets frequent complaints that it is designed wrong is the viola.  The sound is weaker than it should be, and it is big enough to cause injuries played on the shoulder.  The obvious solution is the alto violin, which is essentially a large violin with viola tuning and played vertically like a cello.  The alto violin is not today’s weird thing, since the only real problem with it is that viola players who wish to take up alto violin may need to learn cello fingering technique in order to play it well.  Today’s weird things are the violas created by David L. Rivinus.  While the alto violin looks a lot like a traditional violin, only bigger and with a lower rib height, Rivinus’s violas are utterly bizarre in appearance, something like what would happen if Salvador Dali had designed violas.  The point of these strange designs is ergonomics, but the result has to be seen to be believed.  Enjoy and share the weirdness.

Side notes:  Further information on the alto violin can be found at The New Violin Octet and one can be acquired from Singing Woods Violin. The really weird thing is that the least expensive Rivinus viola costs about 7½ times the cost of an alto violin.


Sunday, November 13, 2011

The Quick and Dirty B-Movie Plot Generator

Jewish date:  16 Marḥeshwan 5772 (Parashath Ḥayye Sarah).

Today’s event:  World Kindness Day.


Today’s weird thing is The Quick and Dirty B-Movie Plot Generator, which takes the trouble out inventing premises for B-movies.  For example:

Dimitris Rich Barnickel is a ditzy Amish photographer from a doomed world. Elinore Gleda Schanck is a cosmopolitan psychic traffic cop on the wrong side of the law. And together, they must cross the country.

This should be useful for people with no creativity whatsoever.  Enjoy and share the weirdness.


Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Cheap arpeggiones

Jewish date:  4 Marḥẹshwan 5772 (Parashath Lekh-Lekha).

Today’s events:  National Author’s Day, Melbourne Cup Day, World Vegan Day.


Those of you who know me well are aware that I play the classical guitar.  Some of you may even be aware that I have an interest in another instrument, the arpeggione, which is a lot like the guitar, except it can be played with a bow like a cello.  The arpeggione was invented around 1823, had one famous piece of music written for it, the Arpeggione Sonata, and was promptly forgotten, leaving the Arpeggione Sonata to be played on violas and cellos.  (I suspect the Arpeggione Sonata may have been a factor in the demise of the arpeggione, as it fails to take advantage of what the instrument is actually capable of doing.  But I digress.)  In recent years, there has been an increasing interest in arpeggiones, leading to the building and playing of the instrument.  (See “Schubert's Arpeggione Sonata Revisited”, “Togaman GuitarViols”, “Arpeggione”, “”, and “Arpeggione - World”.)  However, arpeggiones still suffer from a major problem for anyone interested in them:  they are extremely expensive, e.g., the only one that Togaman has for sale right now costs $7,777.00.  For someone strapped for cash, this is out of the question.  My brother Barry and I have talked a lot about how to get me a functional arpeggione, and the most likely approach is that eventually I will have someone who knows what he/she is doing modify an inexpensive viola da gamba or six-string electric cello.  However, at least two other people have taken another approach:  to modify a guitar.  (Thank you, Barry, for noticing this.)  As such, today’s weird things are “"Guitarre de Gambe" - Arturo Pedraza”, “Chitarra da Gamba - Basso Continuo - Arturo Pedraza”, and “Cheapo da Gamba”.  The last of these shows how to modify a guitar into a cheap arpeggione.

Enjoy and share the weirdness.


PS:  No, I am not going to do this to my guitar.  And I do not have the tools or facilities to do this to another guitar, so if someone has a naughty guitar they want experimented on, I cannot help you.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

A robot’s confession

Jewish date:  18 Tishri 5772 (Parashath Bere’shith).

Today’s events:  Dictionary Day, Newspaper Carrier Day, Reptile Awareness Day, World Food Day (UN), Bosses’ Day, Lost in Space Day.


Today’s weird thing, which is included below, was recently discovered and is provided courtesy of Howell Industries.  Enjoy and share the weirdness.


A robot’s confession
by Robert Robinson

If you are reading this, then the message I have inscribed on stone tablets and left on an uncharted desert island has been discovered.  My name is Robert Robinson, formerly just “the Robot”, and I was part of the crew of the Jupiter 2.  The Jupiter 2 departed Earth on October 16, 1997.  I know enough about the history of this island to know that this message will not be discovered before then, but there is something which alarms me which I need to discuss.  One of my jobs was to send out distress signals in the hope that these would be heard and we would be rescued.  This is a dull task, so dull it could easily put a robot to sleep.  And so to make it less boring and to make anyone who was listening sympathize with us more, I sent out log entries as well.  Unfortunately, I let my creativity and imagination enter the process, and the result was biased.

Robot memory, like human memory, is reconstructive, not precise recordings of what actually happened.  A relatively harmless side effect of this is that all my reconstructions look like they were science-fiction filmed during the 1960s; I am a fan of Flash Gordon and Buck Rogers, and I find it easy to borrow from such material when imagining events.  Flight suits are not really made out of mylar, and aliens do not really look like humans in silly costumes.

Not so harmless is how I depicted some of the humans on the Jupiter 2.  My presentations were highly biased to emphasize the humans I spent the most time with.  Those I spent little time with are depicted as two-dimensional characters, because I did not have enough data to depict them properly.  Their contributions to keeping us alive were unfairly downplayed or ignored.

Also not so harmless was that I treated what was happening to us like a serial adventure story.  When the Robinsons, Major Don West, and Dr. Zachary Smith discovered what I had done, they were furious.  To be fair, Will Robinson was a bit amused; I depicted him as a hero.  And Don was impressed that I had depicted Dr. Smith so precisely and laughed out loud many times when viewing the recordings of my transmissions.  But overall the humans were furious.  Dr. Maureen Robinson was angry that I had “demoted” her to “a mere housewife and gardener” when she has a PhD in biochemistry.  Dr. Judy Robinson was so angry I had depicted her as a “walking prop” that she would not speak to me for a month.  Penny Robinson thought I had unfairly depicted her as naïve and helpless, noting, among other things, that whenever Dr. Smith tried using her as a human shield to protect himself from bug-eyed monsters, she would always flip him over her shoulder.  (Incidentally, this often resulted in him landing on the monster and injuring or killing it.)  Dr. Smith, of course, claimed I had totally mischaracterized him, but the consensus was that my depiction of him was dead-on, the only exception being that his bad back may have been due to Penny using him as a weapon against aliens and not an excuse to be lazy.  Debbie jumped on me and tried to tear my head off.  Professor John Robinson thought I had trivialized their experiences and made their situation seem more like an inconvenience than a real danger.  

I felt awful over what I had done, and I promised to broadcast a retraction as soon as possible.  Unfortunately, Dr. Smith had just cheated a wandering Omicronian merchant out of a flob mechanism, and two minutes after I made my promise, the merchant blew up our antenna and transmission circuitry in revenge.  Unable to do anything at that point, I hoped that we would be rescued soon, at which point my blunder would be forgiven.  Or failing that, that no one would see my transmissions.  But the rescue never came, and now it has become clear to me that the situation with my transmissions is worse than I could have ever imagined.  The only thing I can do now to even begin to atone for my careless slander is to address the issues which my crew-mates have brought to my attention and hope for the best.

Issue 1:  I gave the impression that our experiences were “fun”.  They were not.  We were in constant danger, having adverse encounters about once every two weeks.  Often we were at risk of death.

The only way we managed to avoid complete disaster was extreme:  after three years, we locked up Dr. Smith in his room and refused to let him out for any reason whatsoever.  If anyone thinks this was easy (or fun), they have never heard Dr. Smith screaming in the middle of the night that he is claustrophobic and will die if he stays in his room.  Judy and Don’s daughter Alexis is normally a very quiet baby, but even the slightest hint of a panic attack from Dr. Smith is enough to set her crying, which does nothing to help the situation.

One should also remember that Dr. Smith is intelligent enough that he earned a PhD in psychology.  Previously he manipulated others, especially Will, Penny, and myself, to get what he wanted.  Of necessity, we became more wary of his schemes, but he never stopped trying.  And even without the help of sentient beings, he has proven a menace.  He has broken out on many occasions, often in the process turning off something that should not have been turned off or turning on something that should not have been turned on, and thus causing something to go horribly wrong.  On one occasion when his breakout went unnoticed for an hour on the surface of the planet Epsilon, some sensors which Dr. Smith deactivated failed to sense an armed party of Epsilonians approaching.  It was only the advance warning of Dr. Smith running back towards the ship, screaming at a high volume about the warriors with ray guns he had seen, that enabled us to launch before it was too late.  Since then, we have had a policy that Dr. Smith is not to be left alone under any circumstances.  No one enjoys babysitting Dr. Smith, and being outranked by humans, I have often been assigned the chore.  Bleaugh.  I much prefer changing baby diapers.

Issue 2:  The transformations and other violations of our bodies and minds do not qualify as “fun” either.  No one likes being changed into another species.  No one likes being transformed into a piece of computer tape.  No one likes being drained of emotions.  No one likes being hypnotized.  No one likes having their memory altered.  No one likes being reduced to nine years old.  No one likes being reprogrammed.  No one likes being split in two.  No one likes being cannibalized.  And no one likes being partially mind-swapped with Dr. Smith.  So none of us liked them either.  

Many of the humans seem largely unaffected in this way, despite these traumatic experiences.  Though I am not sure that Will’s hair is supposed to be that color.

Penny has had a large amount of useful information implanted in her memory by the use of drugs on the planet Delta, but it comes with the truly annoying habit of her needing to listen to music and dance on furniture in order to access much of it.  (The fact that she does not dance well only makes it worse.)

My own physical form has been rebuilt several times, and while now looking very much like a human has its advantages, it still feels unnatural.  Not to mention that the color is boring.  

Much worse is what happened to Debbie.  She originally was a bloop, a chimpanzee-like creature, who was adopted by Penny.  (I would not mention this at all, but this is already noted in my transmissions.)  It was inevitable that someone would be radically and permanently transformed beyond recognition, and as luck had it, it happened to her.  She refuses to let me discuss what shape she currently wears, she hates it that much, but you will never realize that there is an ex-bloop in your midst.

Issue 3:  When I made my transmissions, I thought that the humans on the Jupiter 2 were psychologically healthy (except for Dr. Smith) and depicted them as such.  I was wrong.  I knew little of everyday human life and less than I should have of human psychology.  

It was obvious that Dr. Smith did not compute.  Here was a man who had managed to earn a PhD in psychology and become a Space Corps colonel.  And yet he quickly became a lazy, incompetent, cowardly, lying, cheating egotist.  It is quite possible for an egotist to earn a PhD and become a Space Corps colonel.  It is even possible for someone to lie and cheat to earn a PhD and become a Space Corps colonel.  But how does someone lazy and incompetent manage to lie and cheat well enough to earn a PhD and become a Space Corps colonel?  Something had to wrong with him.  There will be more on the cause of this later.

The other humans have been struggling to deal with the situation.  They have deliberately avoided taking out their frustrations on each other, with the occasional exception of yelling at Dr. Smith.  On many planets we have visited, I have witnessed them sneaking off alone or in small groups and screaming at the top of their lungs or committing senseless acts of destruction in an effort to deal with their aggravation.  At other times they have forced Dr. Smith to make alcohol for them, leading to drunkenness.  Some of us have at times have tried to avoid contact with others without giving a reason.  One of us has written some truly disturbing poetry.  I dare not dwell on the details.

Issue 4:  There was a reason for Dr. Smith’s seemingly illogical behavior, and it is a long story.  

Dr. Smith broke out of his room again, because I had to rush off to deal with a Hoge manifold which decided it was a good time to explode.  While creeping through a service tube, he broke an artificial gravity mechanism, which created a wormhole that the Jupiter 2 was sucked into.  We were fortunate that Earth was on the other side of the wormhole, but unfortunate that the year was 1967, 30 years before we left.  In order to avoid changing history, we activated a cloaking device Will had rigged together and landed on this island, a place we knew was to remain relatively secluded until 1978.  The island, as everyone knows, had seven castaways as inhabitants, so we chose the most out-of-the-way spot on the island to park.  The cloaking device worked so well that even when the two youngest castaways decided that right outside our spaceship was a good place for a picnic and kissing, they had no idea we were there.

The damage to the ship was severe.  It was completely functional as a place to live, but it would be dangerous to take it back into space without at least a few months of repairs.  Obtaining the raw materials needed to make replacement parts without being detected would be a challenge.  We knew that a nearby island was inhabited by the rogue scientist Boris Balinkoff.  When Balinkoff was (or rather will be) eventually arrested, in his confession he claimed that his hideout had been raided in 1967 “by thieves with a taste for hi-tech equipment”.  Faced with the danger of altering the timeline if we remained too long in this era, we decided that we would be the hi-tech thieves.  Will rigged up another cloaking device for the Chariot (which can function as a boat), and most of our party set sail (so to speak) for Balinkoff’s Island.

As usual, I got stuck watching Dr. Smith alone.  They did not even leave the baby with me; the consensus was that she was safer wherever Dr. Smith was not.  (I cannot blame them.)  Dr. Smith insisted on playing chess.  Usually he cheats, but this time he was too distracted.  Dr. Smith claimed something was happening, that there was an unusual smell.  Though I have no sense of smell, I assumed he was lying.

I was wrong.  What I experienced has no human sensory equivalent, but suffice it to say that the ship had been teleported into a large room.  Soldiers wearing face-concealing visors and uniforms that looked like something worn by Nazi stormtroopers stormed the ship—which was not hard, considering the amount of damage—and dragged out myself and Dr. Smith.  I tried to stop them, but their ray guns shorted out my blasters.  They dragged us through poorly-lit corridors that all looked alike and threw us in a windowless cell lit by a single incandescent bulb.  And then they let us wait there for hours.  It is very unpleasant to be trapped in a cell with Dr. Smith screaming that he will do anything if he is only let out.  The guards outside paid him no attention.

Eventually the guards did open the cell door, but only to shove in the youngest male castaway, Willy Gilligan.  He seemed very confused and said he had no idea who the soldiers were, why they had taken him prisoner, or where he was.  This confused me, since I was not aware of any historical records of any of the castaways ever claiming to have been in such a situation.  On the other hand, they have never said anything substantial about what happened during 12 of their 15 years of isolation.  I declined to tell Gilligan the full truth of who Dr. Smith and I were, not wishing to needlessly risk contaminating the timeline, but I did tell him that we were castaways of a sort and glared at Dr. Smith to keep him from revealing much more than that.

Whether Dr. Smith got the hint or not, I do not know.  He had shifted into a different mode, had stopped screaming, and was computing an escape.  Phase 1 of his plan was completely cliché:  he would to pretend to be sick, Gilligan would call for the guards, and I would hit the guards on the head with the chamberpot.  I thought it was a stupid idea; there was no way the guards could be so incompetent as to fall for it.  But being trapped in a cell with Dr. Smith is so horrible that I went along with it anyway—and it worked.

Even stranger was phase 2 of the plan.  Dr. Smith had Gilligan pick up the guard’s ray gun—and he wanted him to use it.  Let us remember this is Gilligan we are talking about, a man famous for being inept.  This is the man which all the castaways were agreed was responsible for accidentally ruining almost every opportunity they had had for being rescued for 15 years.  Even in 1997, people were still visiting The Castaways to see Gilligan trip over his own feet or otherwise screw up.  His wife and children and the staff did their best to steer him away from such tourists, but he suffered enough minor calamities in public (such as slipping on a skateboard and falling in the lagoon) that the tourists came anyway.  No one with any sense would ever consider handing this man any sort of weapon—but Dr. Smith did.  I objected that this was suicidal, but he insisted he knew exactly what he was doing.  And he did.

The next ten minutes were the strangest of my life.  We encountered guards several times during our escape, and each time Dr. Smith, his face contorted with pain and extreme concentration, ordered Gilligan to make a specific shot that was in absolutely the wrong direction to have any effect on the enemy soldiers.  Gilligan tried to make the shot, but he inevitably ended up pointing the ray gun in a different direction by the time he fired, one that either hit the soldiers directly or brought down something (such as a menacing statue) down upon them.

I was dazed and confused by the time we reached the Jupiter 2, being caught completely off-guard by this complete, masterful harnessing of incompetence.  Despite Gilligan’s confusion over what he was seeing (“I’ll explain it later”, I told him, hoping I could figure out how to convince him this was a dream) we entered the ship, and I began the preparations for takeoff.  This was not a proper spaceship hangar; evidently they had teleported the Jupiter 2 inside it, and I intended to use the meteor vaporization lasers to slice through the walls of the building to make our escape.

We were caught completely off-guard by the sound of several weapons being cocked.  From various hidden spots on the Jupiter 2 came the six other castaways, all in uniform and with weapons aimed on us.  And Gilligan stepped aside to join them.

The youngest female castaway, Mary Ann Summers, dressed as a general, thanked Gilligan for the greatest feat of acting he had ever accomplished and promised that he would be amply rewarded.  Dr. Smith and I demanded to know what was happening, Dr. Smith rather more rudely than myself.  Mary Ann decided to let someone else explain.  That someone walked in, and he was the last person we expected to see on Earth in 1967:  Zeno, the ruthless villain physically identical to Dr. Smith.  Zeno took delight in explaining that at our last encounter he had neglected to mention that the reason that he was so similar to Dr. Smith was that he was the Dr. Smith of a parallel universe.  He had discovered a wormhole on this island leading to our universe, and after visiting our universe and traveling through time, he had returned to his own.  He had gained employment with the local totalitarian government—a government with opportunities for cooperative villains.  They had previously sent operatives to our universe not merely to better understand how it differed, but also as a testbed for infiltration techniques.  All seven of the castaways had at one time or another been successfully impersonated by their doubles.  The arrival of the Jupiter 2 had been fortuitous, as it would now allow the people of this parallel world to gain yet another weapon against those of our own and make for easier conquest.

Both Dr. Smith and I objected that the Jupiter 2 was badly damaged and would be of no use in conquering a planet.  Mary Ann thought this was funny and pointed her weapon at a seemingly unimportant wall, ordering seemingly no one to surrender himself.

A door in the wall opened, revealing a small room neither Dr. Smith nor I had ever been aware was there.  Out came a little green man, extremely unhappy and holding his hands up.  This creature, explained Zeno, was from the planet Qoppa and had unusual mind-control powers.  Zeno had been plagued by the alternate universe double of this Qoppan, which had forced him to be a Dr. Smith-like incompetent, all the while secretly filming him as part of a mind-control experiment.  Zeno had killed that Qoppan, but he was happy to help “General Summers” get her hands on another one to coerce into helping her conquer our Earth.  Inspection of the Jupiter 2 had not revealed the Qoppan’s hiding place, but putting Dr. Smith in a situation where he was conflicted between continuing his normal behavior and asserting his genius had forced the Qoppan to resort to detectable levels of telepathy in an attempt to assert control.  The Qoppan stated that force was not necessary, and that his people did a sizable amount of business aiding the conquest of entire planets at better rates and with higher customer satisfaction than the Digammans.  General Summers was pleased to hear this and invited the Qoppan to come to her office and talk business over coconut milk and banana cream pie, to which the Qoppan readily agreed.

Dr. Smith, however, was incensed.  He hurled insults at the Qoppan, claiming he had been abused and that the experiment was illegal under space law.  The Qoppan, wanting to move on to negotiate a planetary conquest contract with General Summers, offered Dr. Smith an amount of platinum that would have made him richer than he had ever dreamed; though the Qoppans had experimented on him to study mind control, they had also rebroadcast my transmissions to several galaxies, including Earth and the entire Milky Way, and they had proved so popular that they had made an astronomical amount of money in advertising fees and recording sales.  But this only made the offense of what the Qoppans had done so great in his eyes, as his reputation was now permanently damaged on the one planet he wished to live, that only blood would suffice.  And so Dr. Smith pressed the big, red auto-destruct button on the control panel.

As the lights on the ship flashed and the ship’s computer announced that the Jupiter 2 would blow up in 30 seconds, panic and chaos ensued.  Everyone, including myself, ran.  The only exceptions were Dr. Smith and the Qoppan; the last I saw of them, Dr. Smith grabbed the Qoppan and held the screaming little green man against the panel that would be the first to explode.  My cries for Dr. Smith to follow went unheeded.  I headed in the direction of the strongest neutrino emissions and soon found what I was looking for:  the mouth of the wormhole, which looked rather like a mirrored sphere reflecting a tropical scene from the other side.  I dived into it, and I soon found myself touching down next to an almost finished dugout canoe with outriggers.

I had no time to admire the canoe.  1.32 seconds later, the explosion behind me, which sealed the wormhole, knocked me under a bush.  As I lay there, checking my systems, I heard footsteps.  I heard Skipper Jonas Grumby yelling that the impossible had happened:  Mary Ann had taken Gilligan to the other side of the island to distract him, the Howells were keeping a lookout to make sure he stayed away, and still he had somehow managed to destroy the canoe.  Professor Roy Hinkley and Ginger Grant pointed out to him that reducing the canoe to ash was unlikely even for Gilligan, plus there was no sign that Gilligan had been in the area.  Conferring with the Howells confirmed that Gilligan was not responsible, though none of them had any idea what had really happened.

When the rest of the crew of the Jupiter 2 returned, they were (depending on the person) saddened or gladdened by the loss of Dr. Smith.  Despite the trouble he had caused, Will and Penny did feel some affection for him.

Regardless of how we felt, we had the pressing problem of the loss of the Jupiter 2.  Returning to space and traveling back to our own time (other than waiting around for decades) was out of the question.  Remaining on the island was also out of the question.  The conversations of the castaways whenever they passed by us indicated that Zeno had already altered the timeline.  Mary Ann mentioned a fiancé back in Kansas, and the Howells hoped that their son, Thurston Howell IV, was taking good care of their fortune; neither the financé nor the son existed when the Jupiter 2 launched.  We dare not do anything which might cause more serious damage, so we have resolved to leave the island and head for Hawaii, where we intend to live under assumed names at least until after the presumed loss of the Jupiter 2 in 1997.

If this record is found before our ultimate fates are made known, we would like to apologize to the castaways for not rescuing them.  We can sympathize with their situation, but deliberately altering timelines often changes history in undesirable ways.  Unless Zeno changed history much more than we think he did (and radio transmissions suggest the changes are minor), the castaways all survive for decades and stay healthy, despite the adversity they face.  We do plan on visiting The Castaways periodically, just to make sure that history unfolds more or less correctly.  I am curious to see George the Robot and the robot basketball team.  Until then, good luck.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Four videos by 2CELLOS

Jewish date:  7 Tishri 5772 (evening).

Today’s events:  National Frappe Day, National Golf Day, World Animal Day, Ten-Four Day, Child Health Day (USA).


Today’s weird things, submitted by Barry, are a number of videos by the very goofy violoncello duo 2CELLOS.  All of these are for songs which were absolutely never meant to be played on two cellos.

2CELLOS Cover Nirvana Classic "Smells Like Teen Spirit" Live On SiriusXM Pops:

2CELLOS - Welcome To The Jungle:

2CELLOS (Sulic & Hauser) - Smooth Criminal:

Jimi Hendrix Purple Haze 2 cellos:

Enjoy, share the weirdness, and do not try any of this at home.


Tuesday, August 30, 2011

“There are a hundred ways to stalk”

Jewish date:  30 ’Av 5771 (Parashath Shofeṭim).

Today’s events:  National Marshmallow Toasting Day/National Toasted Marshmallow Day, Frankenstein Day.


Today’s weird thing is “There are a hundred ways to stalk”:
funny pictures of cats with captions
And if that does not tickle your funny bone, see the Ominous Visitor Shower CurtainThe Star Trek Cookbook, and the Knife Fridge Magnet.  Enjoy and share the weirdness.


Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Beware of genetic engineering gone horribly wrong

Jewish date:  23 ’Av 5771 (Parashath Re’eh).

Today’s events:  Ride the Wind Day, International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and Its Abolition.


Today’s weird thing is something truly disturbing:  “Breakfast at Ginger's- golden retriever dog eats with hands”:

Notice the advanced level of breeding and genetic engineering that must have gone into creating this creature.  Clearly this beast is meant as a prototype for an evil all-dog army meant to conquer the Earth.  We must all stand opposed to this.  Please take this opportunity to write to your local politicians to put a stop to this.  Be worried and share the weirdness!


Sunday, August 14, 2011

“Chemistry Exam Answers”

Jewish date:  14 ’Av 5771 (Parashath ‘Eqev).

Today’s event:  National Creamsicle Day.

Worthy cause of the day:  “Jewish Rights on the Temple Mount”.  Please sign and tell the government of Israel that Jewish civil rights matter.  Thank you.


Today’s weird thing is “Chemistry Exam Answers”.  The answers given may be legendary, but they are still fun reading.  Enjoy and share the weirdness.


Thursday, August 11, 2011

“The King’s Camelopardus”

Jewish date:  11 ’Av 5771 (Parashath Wa’Ethḥannan).

Today’s events:  Presidential Joke Day, Son and Daughter Day.


Today’s weird thing is “The King's Camelopardus”, a film more important in the history of film than Citizen Kane, It’s a Wonderful Life, or even Avatar.  You’ll cry as you feel the pathos and the existential drama of life.  Meg Ryan may win an Oscar for a performance unlike any other in her already outstanding career.  You may feel the urge to see this film again and again, it is that good.  You’ll be glued to your seat with anticipation.  You won’t believe the surprise this movie has in store for you.  If you want to make any film on the Internet go viral, it will be this one.  You would never know this is Jonathan Tuttle’s first film.  He takes a simple idea and masterfully uses it to keep the viewers’ attention and interest.  This movie may change the way you look at movies.  You want to stop reading this description and watch the film RIGHT NOW.  Trust me.

Enjoy and share the weirdness.


Thursday, July 28, 2011

Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the puddle

Jewish date:  26 Tammuz 5771 (Parashath Mas‘e).

Today’s events:  National Milk Chocolate Day, National Drive-Thru Day.


Today’s weird thing is “Puddle Sharks - Win!”.
culture jamming win
Enjoy, share the weirdness, and make sure you do not lose your toes.


Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Edgar Allan Poe may not like this post

Jewish date: 24 Tammuz 5771 (Parashath Mas‘e).

Today’s events: Aunt and Uncles Day, All or Nothing Day.


Today’s weird thing is “teh raven iz”.
funny pictures of cats with captions
Enjoy and share the weirdness.


Sunday, July 24, 2011

Beware of curl-ups

Jewish date: 22 Tammuz 5771 (Parashath Mas‘e).

Today’s events: Amelia Earhart Day, Cousin’s Day, National Parents Day, Pioneer Day (Utah, USA).


Escher's Curl-upImage via Wikipedia
Fans of the celebrated author M. C. Escher will be familiar with the curl-up, a fictional creature which can curl up into a wheel and roll around. Today’s weird things, courtesy of Barry, are two realizations (of sorts) of the curl-up: “M.C.Escher’s Curl-Up Animal Constructed!” and “Escher Collection Curl Up (Completed) Item picture1”. Enjoy, share the weirdness, and ask your friendly neighborhood genetic engineer to make a live curl-up.

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Tuesday, July 5, 2011

A message from the Cybertonian embassy-at-large

Jewish date:  3 Tammuz 5771 (Parashath Balaq).

Today’s event:  Work-a-Holic Day.


Today’s weird thing is the most recent statement released by the Cybertonian embassy-at-large, included below.  It was provided to me by an insistent mechanical bird.  Enjoy and share the weirdness.


From:  Megatron, Ambassador-at-large, Republic of Cybertron

To:  The United Nations of Earth

Re:  Cessation of Major Ground Operations

Dear idiots at the UN:

We are done.  Obviously not completely done, but we've finished the important stuff.  Our two major ground operations are finished and over with, no thanks to any of you worthless losers.

One, we have the Autobots.  As you well know now from your stupid little chatter boxes, the 33rd Battalion of the Cybertonian Army under the command of General Cyclonus entered the territory of the United States of America for the sole purpose of capturing the Autobot population of the Groom Lake military base.  Before landing, we sprayed the area with an anesthetic gas to knock out the humans, taking them out of the equation.  Most of the Autobots instantly surrendered (like anyone would want to go up against our shock troops with plasma-bolt rifles) and the rest made trouble.  The only Autobot fatality was Powerglide, who attempted to use deadly force and was shot down in midair.  The rest we subdued alive, much better than they deserved.  Optimus Prime was especially shameful, attempting to use humans as shields to try to get away.  Those worthless traitors are all locked up now in the brig of the Cybertonian embassy-at-large and they're staying put.

Did I really want to do that?  Simple answer:  NO!  Everyone is sick of this nightmare.  You don't want us on your planet, we don't want to be on your planet, but no one does the obvious so we can leave your planet.  You have to make a giant fuss, and we get blamed for everything, and no one takes any responsibility for anything, you giant bunch of losers who can't even govern yourselves.  It's amazing you haven't nuked each other.  Why do you think President Shockwave authorized us to go ahead and end this nonsense?

And that leads us to the other issue:  Cobra, the bunch of dingleberries who attacked us.  In case you haven't noticed, we have effectively destroyed Cobra, big nasty terrorist organization our to rule the planet.  Nobody liked Cobra and no one was sorry to see it go.  Cobra Island has been conquered and its religious sites razed, and anyone willing to continue the conflict is put in jail.  We have raided Serpentorean strongholds in Somalia, Sudan, and elsewhere and enforced the same terms.  Wherever we have gone, we have suppressed any version of this cult whose adherents won't live in peace with people they don't agree with.  All we did was the only reasonable thing to do, not that it would ever occur to you pinheads.  The threat of Cobra is gone, now and forever, no thanks to any of you.

What I especially dislike is how you just dumped this problem on us.  Who would want to get involved in your pointless little conflicts?  They are always all really stupid and show how incompetent you are at governing yourselves, always letting the least fit be in charge.  When Cobra attacked us, we begged you to do something about them.  Did you?  No.  We deserved it, you told us, so stand there and take your lumps like a good little stooge.  We did what any rational person would do, to fight back against our enemies, and in turn you condemned us, calling us tyrants and monsters.  Really?  If Mexico or Canada attacked the United States, would anyone wonder if the United States fought back?  If China shot missiles at Russia, who would complain at Russia invading China to end the threat?  But if Cobra attacks our embassy, why is it our fault, and why are we the ones who're wrong for ending the threat in the only way possible?  We eliminated Cobra and it is no more.  We attempted to arrest James "Destro" McMullen, XXIV to stand trial and were forced to kill him in self-defense.  We arrested his wife, Anastasia "the Baroness" McMullen, a high official in Cobra, and, finding her psychotic, are currently holding her as we treat her.  And, as has been recently noted in the media, we have recently found and captured the Cobra Commander in Sudan, where he has been hiding for two years.  He is currently undergoing his pretrial screening and suitable legal representation is being sought before he is tried.  In what way have we done anything wrong?  I feel like we have been used, expected to eliminate the threat of Cobra while we are hindered and abused for our efforts.  What for?  Because you're too lazy?  Or maybe the fight against Cobra kept bringing up too many uncomfortable issues.  I really don't care about your issues, you bunch of useless crybabies.  Just work on them!

And now we come to the fun part.  After conquering Cobra Island and putting a whole lot of humans in jail, we don't really trust you to take over.  Face it:  most of your jails are not therapeutic, which is like saying water isn't dry.  You warehouse prisoners and let them act like the wild animals you are and, big surprise, they don't come out any better.  What's the point of a penal system which makes people worse?  Maybe if you bothered to stop throwing people in jail for "crimes" which are trivial or stupid and invest in actually fixing the problems that land people in jail then you wouldn't need to lock away so many people.  No, that's too obvious for you.  We are not turning over prisoners to a bunch of sadists out for revenge, and let's face it, your "justice" systems are mostly systems of organized revenge.

Because you're too incompetent when it comes to criminals, we are forced to make Freedom Island (formerly Cobra Island) an extraplanetary territory of the Republic of Cybertron.  This will let us rehabilitate the prisoners without having to take them off-planet (we have previously considered establishing a penal colony on Venus, which has a similar surface gravity to Earth, but there is no way we could seriously do that without terraforming the planet, and there's no way we're doing you that kind of favor).  So, all the former Cobra terrorists will be fixed as best as we can manage, and the rest will be kept humanely.  At the trial of Anastasia McMullen, it was determined that she was responsible but psychotic, and as she has not improved as much as we'd like, she will probably remain the rest of her life in custody for the safety of herself and others.  The Cobra Commander will probably end up with the same verdict.  Quite a few former Cobra terrorists have shown remarkable improvement and we hope to substantially reduce the population in captivity over the next few years.  So much for warehousing.

As for the Freedom Islanders living in peace, so far the civilian government seems to be working, and with a military base housing the 33rd Battalion of the Cybertonian Army there, I doubt we'll have any serious problems.  The island also gives us somewhere to put Transformers who do not want to return to Cybertron proper, namely the Autobrat subfaction which schismed from the Autobots.  Most of them seem enthusiastic about the idea.  Based on her service to both the Republic and her comrades, President Shockwave has appointed the former Autobrat commander Arcee to the position of Ambassador to Earth.  You can expect to see a lot of her and her staff (both Transformers and humans) around New York, and if they are not respected, they will have our troops to answer to.

Do you like us there?  Of course not.  And here's what you have to do to make us vanish:

  • Every remaining Cobra terrorist everywhere must vanish, either rehabilitated or dead.  Attacking us forfeits their existence.  There's still tiny pockets of Cobra out there, and until they're all gone, we're not leaving.
  • Every stray Autobot is caught.  There's still many not accounted for, and every single one has to be caught.  They had no business coming to your planet and they won't be left behind.
  • The government of Freedom Island has to stay stable and democratic.  So far, so good.
  • No one else stupidly attacks us like Cobra did.  We've gotten a number of threats from governments, corporations, private organizations, and several religious sects.  Face it, we wiped out Cobra.  Don't make us wipe out the rest of you losers.  I already have a long list of groups I'm itching to blow away.

Frankly, much as the thought of us staying on this planet disgusts me with every circuit of my being, you need us.  Face it:  we are attacked and defend ourselves and we get yelled at for "illegally occupying" territory on Earth.  How screwed-up can you be?  Or take this new movie about us, Transformers:  Dark of the Moon, coming out ironically just as the reign of the Autobots on Earth has come to an end.  Director Michael Bay is as suckered by Autobot propaganda as he is juvenile.  The movie continues his usual trademark assault on the senses, idiotic writing, graphic violence,  ignorance of basic physics, and open prejudice.  I have been shown a number of bad movies by such directors as Roger Corman and Ed Wood, and I have found them masterpieces in comparison.  It's not bad enough to portray the "Decepticons" or Sentinel Prime (a patriot of Autobot ancestry who turned over evidence to the police of Ironhide's treason) as enemies; he has to take every opportunity to denigrate us.  I don't know which is worse, that anyone spent any money to make this or that anyone will pay to see it.  In any case, Megan Fox was sorely missed and Dr. Ken Jeong was totally wasted.

You people suck.

So you're stuck with us.  Someone has to be the good example because most of you are clueless and stupid and destroying your planet.  Instead of complaining and condemning us, you ought to see what we're doing right.  Maybe then you'll have a chance of fixing the problem.

Screw you all.  I hope you losers all die horrible, painful deaths, and you deserve it.

Megatron, ambassador-at-large, Republic of Cybertron, etc., etc., etc.

Edit that into something diplomatic before you send it off, Laserbeak.  I don't need another embarrassment like the last thing that idiot Ravage wrote.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

“Stop-Motion Auditorium Pac-Man”

Jewish date:  24 Siwan 5771 (Parashath Ḥuqqath).

Today’s events:  Forgiveness Day, Beautician's Day, International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking (UN), International Day in Support of Victims of Torture (UN)


Today’s weird thing is “Stop-Motion Auditorium Pac-Man”, the point of which I cannot identify.  Enjoy (or be puzzled or something) and share the weirdness.


Friday, June 17, 2011

It is a good day to die

 Jewish date: 15 Siwan 5771 (Parashath Shelaḥ Lekha).

Today’s events:  Eat Your Vegetables Day, Fresh Veggies Day, World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought (UN).


Today’s weird thing is “The Cling-on’s”:

Funny Pictures - The Cling-on's are attacking!

Enjoy, share the weirdness, Shabbath shalom, and live long and prosper


Friday, June 10, 2011

“Knitting and Crochet Patterns in Art”

Jewish date:  8 Siwan 5771 (Parashath BeHa‘alothekha).

Today’s event:  National Iced Tea Day.


Today’s weird thing, courtesy of Barry, is “Knitting and Crochet Patterns in Art”.  This article details all sorts of ridiculous things people have done lately with knitting and crocheting.

Enjoy, share the weirdness, and Shabbath shalom.


Sunday, May 22, 2011

“Turbo Encabulator”


Jewish date:  18 ’Iyyar 5771 (Parashath BeMidhbar).

Today’s events:  Buy a Musical Instrument Day, International Day for Biological DiversityEmancipation Day (Puerto Rico).
    Today’s weird thing is “Turbo Encabulator”, which is an impressive-sounding piece of pure nonsense.  
    Enjoy and share the weirdness.

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    Friday, May 20, 2011

    Beware of automated musical instruments


    Jewish date:  16 ’Iyyar 5771 (Parashath Beḥuqqothay).

    Today’s events:  Be a Millionaire Day, National Bike to Work Day, Pick Strawberries Day, Weights and Measures Day, Emancipation Day (Florida), Malcolm X Day.

    Also:  Tomorrow is Metric Mitochondria Day.  Celebrate our obligate symbiotes and the International System of Units!
      Today’s weird thing is “100 year old violin playing machine”, which is a just plain freaky-looking musical instrument.  Enjoy, share the weirdness, and Shabbath shalom..

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      Tuesday, May 17, 2011

      Bad ponies, beware!


      Jewish date:  13 ’Iyyar 5771 (Parashath Beḥuqqothay).

      Today’s events:  Pack Rat Day, World Telecommunication Day (UN), Mary McLeod Bethune Week.

      NOTE:  On 7 May 2005 at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology there was a time traveler convention.  Time travelers allegedly showed up.  If you ever get a time machine, be then and there or be square!
        Today’s weird things are two pictures I took on Sunday.

        This seems to be what happens to bad ponies.

        Even if the pony really deserved it, these colorful tribbles are nevertheless shocked.

        (Yes, I know these are just toys at the local mall, but I felt the urge to perform some creative interpretation.)

        Enjoy and share the weirdness.

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        Friday, May 6, 2011

        Beware of LEGOs

        LEGO bricksImage of LEGOs via Wikipedia

        Jewish date:  2 ’Iyyar 5771 (Parashath ’Emor).

        Today’s events:  National Nurses Day, Space Day and International Space Day, Beverage Day, International Tuba Day, International No Diet Day, Military Spouses Day, National Tourist Appreciation Day.
          Today’s weird thing is Smallworks Brickcase, a LEGO-compatible case for the iPhone.  Enjoy, share the weirdness, and Shabbath shalom.

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          Friday, April 8, 2011

          Beware of retrocomputing

          Commodore 64 computer (1982). Post processing:...Image via Wikipedia

          Jewish date:  4 Nisan 5770 (Parashath Meṣora‘).

          Today’s events:  Draw a Picture of a Bird Day, All is Ours Day, International Feng Shui Awareness Day.
            Today’s weird thing is the Commodore 64.  You may well ask why an ancient computer merits being the weird thing of the day.  And the answer is:  it is not.  According to “Commodore 64 Goes on Sale. Amiga, VIC-20 Coming Soon”, somebody actually has the audacity to resurrect ancient computers after a fashion. e.g., with 1-terabyte hard drives and 4 gigabytes of RAM, though with practically identical outsides, and sell them.  Enjoy, share the weirdness and nostalgia, Shabbath shalom, and let me know when this character puts out a modernized NeXT Cube running Mac OS X 10.7.

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            Monday, April 4, 2011

            Beware of censors


            Jewish date:   1 Nisan 5771 (evening) (Parashath Meṣora‘).

            Today’s events:  Hug a Newsman Day, School Librarian Day, Walk Around Things Day, Tell a Lie Day, National Repot your Plant Day, National Reading a Roadmap Day, International Day for Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action (UN).
              Today’s weird thing is “Prime Time TV Censorship”:

              funny graphs and charts

              The graph correctly notes the inconsistencies in TV censorship in the United States.  I am not clear how harmful seeing any of the things in the graph on TV really are, but the fairly lenient treatment violence gets is pretty odd.  Enjoy and share the weirdness.

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              Friday, March 25, 2011

              Coca-Cola for Godzilla


              Jewish date:  19 ’Adhar Sheni 5771 (Parashath Shemini).

              Today’s events:  International Waffle Day, Pecan Day, International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade (UN), Independence Day (Greece, Cyprus).
                I think I am going to be going through the collection of pictures I have taken here in Israel but have not shown to anyone.

                These are photographs of the Coca-Cola plant in Bene Beraq.  Notice that the architect got somewhat silly and made several buildings look like soda cans.

                Caption:  The last thing the White King expected was to be assaulted by black pawns on Lassale Street in Tel ’Aviv.

                This actually is Lassale Street in Tel ’Aviv, but these are not chess pieces.  Rather, they are part of a barrier system to keep vehicles and pedestrians separate.  They have these all over Israel, but few look as much like chess pieces as these ones.

                This last one is more puzzling that strictly weird.  This is a mouse or other rodent which showed up right outside of synagogue recently.  (And I apologize for the picture quality, but I do not take my high-quality camera everywhere with me, and I had the choice of using my cell phone under suboptimal conditions or not photographing the rodent at all.)  What I do not understand is why the rodent let me photograph it rather than running for its life.  (Humans are huge compared with most rodents and thus very dangerous to them.)

                Enjoy, share the weirdness, and Shabbath shalom.

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