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Archive for November, 2008

mood-ring1

Mood rings are, without a doubt, one of the best symbols of the 1970’s. They were invented by Marvin Wernick, a jewelry entrepreneur who, through a remarkable chance of fate, happened to travel with a doctor friend one day to an emergency visit. He saw him apply a temperature-gauging strip to a child’s forehead, and realized that the same could be done for junk jewelry. Nothing like that had ever been done before, so he quickly designed and released the garish product to the public, and by the middle of the decade he had become a millionaire.

Each mood ring possessed a thermotropic crystal that changed color depending on body fluctuations and (supposedly) a person’s mood. Dark colors represented negative emotions, such as stress or anger, while light colors represented a sense of inner peace. This was extremely helpful, because otherwise a person might have had no idea that they were feeling sad and gone on to have a productive day filled with good company and exciting opportunities instead of moping around the house all afternoon.

The Mood Ring color explanation chart:

Green – Mellow
Blue – Just a little tense
Purple – Teeth grinding, some shouting
Amber – Puppies should probably avoid you
Grey – A trail of smashed trash cans is left in your wake
Black – You’ll kill a man just to watch him die

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peter-principle2

The Peter Principle is a business theory originally conceived of by Professor Laurence J. Peter (for whom it was named after.) It has to do with the structure of hierarchical organizations, and states that people who are competent at their jobs will be continually promoted to higher and better-paid positions, slowly making their way up the corporate ladder until they arrive at the point where they can excel no further. They have reached the limits of their potential, no matter what it is, and will likely stay at that job for the remainder of their lives.

What this basically means is that everyone at their job is incompetent at what they do. The skills which previously allowed the person to succeed are often no longer pertinent to their new position (such as middle-management), and to make up for this fact they tend to stomp around the office and yell at underlings, hoping that no one will notice. Unfortunately, there is no real solution for this. You can establish an elaborate caste system in which everyone stays in their chosen field, but all this really does is set up corporate fiefdoms. To put it simply, the business world is screwed.

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mco_orbit1

The Mars Climate Orbiter was designed with three objectives in mind. 1) To study Martian weather, 2) To examine the water levels of the atmosphere, and 3) To pick up lots of rocks to sell in the NASA gift shop. After lift off, the spacecraft took more than nine months to reach the red planet, and when the Orbiter finally arrived it executed a sixteen minute-long engine burn. NASA scientists waited patiently for it to reestablish radio contact, but as the minutes gradually ticked on, it became obvious that something had gone horribly wrong.

The problem was discovered a few weeks later. The Mars Climate Orbiter hadn’t failed due to poor design, or cheap building material, or the orbital lasers set up by our space overlords. It met its dismal end because the computer software used by NASA failed to convert the measurement units into the metric system. This simple error caused the thrusters to push forward a little too much, prompting the spacecraft to enter at a lower orbit and disintegrate as a result. Next time, it might be better to get a seventh grade math class to check the data before embarking on a multi-million dollar enterprise.

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BAD PEOPLE – You


Face it. You’re a horrible person. You never write your mother. You swiped that penny from the ‘take a penny/leave a penny’ jar. You cut that guy off in traffic the other day. You gossip about your co-workers behind their back. You take hidden pleasure from the misfortune of others. You never returned that overdue library book. You always stay out late without calling. You didn’t go to your son or daughter’s music recital. You don’t pay the phone bill on time. And you know full well what you did at last year’s Christmas party.

You rock out secretly each night to Milli Vanilli. You always leave the toilet seat up. You thought that Bio-Dome was a great movie. You call in sick to work under false pretenses. You scratch yourself constantly in public. You tracked mud into the kitchen and pretended the dog did it. You cheated on that algebra test. You roll your eyes at people when they talk about their day. You ate the last potato chip. You can name all nine members of the Brady Bunch, but not one Supreme Court justice.

Frankly, sir or madam, you disgust us.

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Duke D’Aosta was the second eldest son of the king of Italy. He met Princess Donna Maria Vittoria dal Pozzo while he was traveling through the country, and within months they were engaged to be married. It was a match made in heaven, despite strong objections from his father (who believed the princess to be insufficient rank), and no expense was spared for the marriage arrangements. Unfortunately, the wedding didn’t turn out… quite like everyone hoped.

To start with, the best man shot himself. This was followed by the gatekeeper slitting his own throat, and the wardrobe mistress hanging herself. Why these people chose to end their lives in such a dramatic fashion is not clear, but it appears they did not approve of the nupitals. The military official leading the procession then suffered from sunstroke, though he fared slightly better than the stationmaster, who was mangled to death after falling into the gears of the honeymoon train. Oh, and the king’s aide died after getting thrown from his horse.

From the little that has been written about the couple, it seems they did not have a happy marriage.

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Every year, in the deep forests of Sumatra, a little bit of magic happens. The Amorphophallus Titanum, known colloquially as the “Corpse Flower”, blooms for botanists and tourists lucky enough to experience it. The top nearly reaches ten feet high as the inflorescence gradually heats up, using a natural process of metabolizing sugar to achieve this end, until the time is right and the plant is ready to give off its natural perfume. One that just happens to smell like a funeral home in August that accidentally forgot to leave the air conditioning on.

There’s actually a very good reason for this. The corpse flower doesn’t get pollinated through normal means (it has a long standing feud with bumblebees), so it uses beetles and common houseflies to help spread its pollen grains around. They’re attracted by the smell of rotting meat, because that’s where they have to lay their eggs, and so travel from corpse flower to corpse flower in search of the dead body providing the delicious aroma. A classic tale of bait and switch, and one that the putrescent towering plant should be ashamed of.

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Robert Van Winkle wanted to be a rapper for as long as he could remember. He saw the success of Public Enemy and Run-D.M.C., and felt that he had something unique to add to the mix. More specifically, the fact that he was whiter than white bread with white food coloring and a huge heaping of mayonnaise on top. The young lad practiced his dance moves and made sure to place his baseball cap on backwards, but soon realized that he was going to need a cool name in order to properly break into the industry. There was Ice-T, Ice Cube, so what about… Vanilla Ice?

The name caught on. He quickly gained famed from his song “Ice Ice Baby”, which basically took the riff from “Under Pressure” by David Bowie and Freddie Mercury and re-packaged it in an incredibly bland and talentless version. Mainstream music listeners naturally ate it up, and his debut album shot to #1. This would soon be followed by a Grammy nomination and an American Music Association award. His greatest accomplishment, however, would be when he rapped the theme song to the hit movie, “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2: The Secret of the Ooze”.

All would not remain well for Vanilla Ice, however. His sampling of “Under Pressure” had been done without legal permission, prompting a lawsuit to be filed. Reporters discovered that he had lied about his upbringing, and that he had been raised in white suburbia as opposed to ‘the hood’. Perhaps worst of all, people began to actually listen to his music, and realized that he sounded like a tone-deaf version of Paul from The Wonder Years. His fortunes rapidly plummeted, though he would experience some later success in Japan, as well as go on to star in The Surreal World with Ron Jeremy and Tammy Fae Baker.

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