Carnival of the Vanities CIX


The picture on my right is something I snapped a couple of weekends ago, as the sun set. Erin and I were out for a walk on Hickory Street in Waterloo.

I’d like to thank Northstar at The People’s Republic of Seabrook who, as host of the 109th instalment of the Carnival of the Vanities, included my post on Canada’s surprising prosperity among his bag of linky goodness (Phrase courtesy The Eleven Day Empire). It feels good! For those visiting from the Carnival, part four of the series will appear (I hope) tomorrow).

A Question For My American Reader(s)

Am I right in assuming that considerable state and federal money goes into the running of the Democratic and Republican primaries, and that with this funding comes state oversight of the process?

May I suggest that this stop, and that the parties themselves be fully responsible for funding and running the party primaries. Let the eligibility requirements be determined and enforced by the parties’ constitution.

And, once you do that, remove any questions of party affiliation from the voter registration process. Remove all of the checkboxes and the places to say which party you support. Doing so could help prevent the possibility of things like this happening. Frankly, I can’t fathom why party affiliation is even asked when one registers to vote; doesn’t this violate the principle of the secret ballot?

But I guess it’s just the different way our two countries handle politics. When I was talking this over with Erin, we surprised each other when I mentioned that one had to pay a membership fee to join a political party in Canada and vote on its parties and leadership. “Don’t you have to pay a membership fee to join the Republicans or the Democrats?” I asked. “No,” was the answer.

We both looked at each other as though we were from another planet.

I Had Wondered…

I bet at least some of you have seen the ads for those 9/11 commemorative silver dollars. These pretty typical tv-marketing ads have appeared on Spike TV and CNN, at least, and they’ve always struck me as somewhat shady.

After all, the silver dollar issue is implied to be an American issue, but it’s issued from the “Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands” (an American possession — what right do they have to mint American coins?). Moreover, in an attempt to profit from the 9/11 tragedy, they claim that the coins were minted from silver discovered in a vault recovered from Ground Zero. Crass commercialism and shameless patriotism. Rarely a good combination.

Turns out that some of my suspicions may have been justified:

New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer obtained a court order Wednesday to temporarily suspend the sale of commemorative Sept. 11 coins advertised as being minted from silver recovered at ground zero.

Spitzer said the sale of the silver dollars — emblazoned with the World Trade Center towers on one side and the planned Freedom Tower on the other — is a fraud. He’s investigating whether the silver actually came from the ruins of the twin towers.

“It is a shameless attempt to profit from a national tragedy,” Spitzer said. “This product has been promoted with claims that are false, misleading or unsubstantiated.”

Spitzer said the National Collector’s Mint, based in Port Chester, N.Y., falsely claims that the coins engraved with “In God We Trust” are legally authorized silver dollars.

Spitzer said the coins, produced by a Wyoming company called SoftSky Inc., are advertised as nearly pure silver when they’re only silver-plated.


Tom Conway, head of the state’s Consumer Frauds and Protection Bureau, said an investigation into the company began with consumer complaints and a referral from the U.S. Mint, which issued a notice on its Web site that the coin “is not a legally authorized government issued” product.

The link comes courtesy of Daimnation, who has my gratitude.

Victimless Leather

I’ll let Darren Barefoot have the floor on this one:

Victimless Leather

HER: I love your jacket…is that suede?
ME: No, actually, it’s a semi-living combination of human and mouse. If you get close, you can smell the bone cells.
HER: What?
ME: Oh, is that mace?

The crazy bastards at The Tissue Culture & Art Project have given up trying to rejuvenate human brains with lightning, and instead are trying to build a ‘victimless leather’ jacket:

Oron Catts and Ionat Zurr are attempting to grow a semi-living jacket in an effort to create “victimless leather.” Hoping to highlight the possibility of wearing leather without killing an animal, the duo is presently focused on growing living tissue into a leather-like material and having it mature in the form of a miniature, stitchless, coat-like shape.

The gross possibilities are endless:

  • “Uh, dude, your jacket’s bleeding.”

  • “And the nice thing is, when I get to the club, my jacket checks itself.”

  • “My dog didn’t actually eat my homework—my jacket did.”

I can’t believe Darren forgot:

Fred: “Dude! My shoes are killing me!”
Rick: “Don’t worry, man! They’ll stretch out.”
Fred: “No, Dude! They’re actually killing me! Augh!”
Shoes: “Growl!”

Movable Type 3.12 Released

The good folks at SixApart have released version 3.12 of Movable Type, which is primarily a bug-fix release. Among the promises: faster rebuilds, fixed compatibility issues, easier to configure dynamic pages — none of which was an issue for me in 3.11. But I upgraded anyway, without too much difficulty. Again, Movable Type could do with better instructions on how to upload your upgrades…

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