Thursday, October 29, 2009

Entry: the Watusi

In true Bader-Meinhoff fashion, I got in a discussion about this with my friends at dinner last night, and then again with my coworker this afternoon. Anywho.

I wish to attend a function where there will be dancing, but find myself lacking proper instruction for an obsolete and spastic-looking move! O Wikipedia, can you help me?

In the classic Watusi, the dancer is almost stationary with knees slightly bent, although may advance forward and back by one or two small rhythmic paces. The arms, with palms flat in line, are held almost straight, alternately flail up and down in the vertical. The head is kept in line with the upper torso but may bob slightly to accentuate the arm flailing.

That's a good start, but my flailing feels a bit stiff and rehearsed. Perhaps, Wikipedia, perhaps you could help me to better embody the spirit of the Watusi...

The dance, which became popular in the American surf/beach sub-culture of 1960s, may be enhanced if one imagines that ones feet are on sand.

Thank you.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Entry: Posthumous execution

This link was sent to me by Erin... via iPhone. That's right, you can send me links even when you aren't sitting in front of your computer like a dork. Learn from Erin's example.

History has presented us with numerous cases, from different parts of the world, where a corpse has been ritually "killed" a second time. Because... people are dumb?

Some of these cases are understandable, like Vlad the Imapler, "who was beheaded following his assassination." You don't want to make a mistake and have that guy coming after you because you didn't kill him properly. Or Gerard Butler, who was beheaded and crucified after he died at the end of that movie. They were pretty grumpy with him, boy howdy, and desecrating a corpse can be a good method of working out those issues.

Some of them, however, are just ridiculous. "John Wycliffe (1328–1384), was burned as a heretic 45 years after he died." Why? This was the 14th century, nobody lived past 18! Nobody! Why would you get mad enough at some guy who was talking smack about Jesus to your grandfather to dig up and burn his corpse? There weren't any other live heretics running around to burn? Or at least more recently deceased heretics? I am so glad that I have Twitter to distract me from doing stupid crap like this.

There's also the dramatic example of Oliver Cromwell, whose corpse was exhumed, then hanged, drawn and quartered, and tossed into a pit sans head. His head was later given a burial in 1960. Lesson learned: don't try to kill your monarch. This also leads us to one of the best out-of-context sentences on the Wik: "See also Oliver Cromwell's head." He's so historically relevant, his dismembered body part has its own Wikipedia article!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Entry: Tsutomu Yamaguchi

So, how's your Monday been going? Get stuck in traffic? Forget your lunch at home?

"Yamaguchi, an engineer in Hiroshima on a business trip for Mitsubishi Heavy Industries on August 6, 1945 was just stepping off a tram when the atomic bomb Little Boy was dropped over the city just 3 kilometers away. The resulting explosion destroyed his eardrums, blinded him temporarily, and left him with serious burns over the left side of the top half of his body. He was wrapped in bandages for his skin wounds, and he went completely bald. Like many of the survivors of the atomic explosions, Yamaguchi suffered from effects caused by the explosions for much of his life. His wife was also poisoned by the nuclear fallout. Yamaguchi spent a fitful night in an air raid shelter before returning to his hometown of Nagasaki the following day. Yamaguchi was once again 3 kilometers away explaining to his supervisor how close he came to death just a few days before when the second bomb, Fat Man, was dropped."

Not only did he survive two nuclear explosions-- in fact, Yamaguchi is still alive-- but he wrote a book about his experience and is an activist for nuclear disarmament. Instead of, you know, in a padded room somewhere still trying to deal with the psychological implications of being in two nuclear explosions in three days. That's the truly amazing part, to me.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Entry: High Five

This entry is a guest entry, which comes to me from Kirk, aka # μ from DO-xiii. Do you enjoy video games? How about laughter? ...wait, neither? What the hell is wrong with you? Check out Disorganization XIII anyway... freaking weirdo.

I found out about the entry for high-five via reddit, since I too an a lover of narwhals and bacon and recycled shit from /b/.

The high-five article is one of those articles that you think you know everything about, but goes on to surprise you. Part of what makes it awesome is entries for historically significant high-fives, such as the Jackson Five. But most of it is due to the awesome illustrative pictures explaining the "Too Slow" prank.

Not only is this series of pictures hilariously entertaining, they're an inspiration to us all to make Wikipedia a brighter place. Think of how many of the average digicam pictures merely contain a couch full of inebriated people, or a high-angle shot in someone's bathroom. If you're one of the cool kids, you'll devote at least a few of these pictures to contributing to an open-source internet encyclopedia. Actually, scratch that last sentence.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Entry: Twitterpated

For today's entry, we make a rare safari into the jungles of Wiktionary. Exciting, I know!

I've been familiar with the word "twitterpated" to mean lovestruck, but I was not aware that the first usage of the term was the movie Bambi. Let's all thank our lucky stars that we have monolithic entertainment corporations to embiggen our collective vocabulary.

Bambi was released in 1942 and the book it was based on, the dynamically titled Bambi, a Life in the Woods was published in 1923; so I suppose this would make "twitterpated" a neologism. But then again, what's the expiration date on a term being a neologism? Twitterpated has been around for at least 67 years; there are certainly many people still alive who were around before the advent of the word-- and oh what a dark and wretched time it was, only being able to describe someone as "besotted" or "smitten"-- but it's still a word that gained popular use through a movie, which, relative to the history of language is pretty cutting edge. So does that mean it's a paleoneologism? Destined in a few decades to become a simple word before retiring to Boca Raton with (obsolete) tacked onto the beginning of its definition?

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Entry: Palm Dog Award

This is adorable.

Since 2001, the critics at the Cannes Film Festival have awarded the Palm Dog to outstanding performances by a canine or group of canines, real or animated, in one of the films shown at the festival.

Of course, out of the winners and nominees listed, I've only seen two of the films: Dogville and Triplets of Belleville. And let me say, I am pissed that the dog in the former won over the dog in the latter. Bruno is a charming, funny dog, who is pretty realistic for an animation. Moses is, for 99.99% of the role, a sound effect. Lame.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Entry: Staffordshire Hoard

Alert reader John sent me a link to this article. Thanks again, John!

This past July, amateur treasure hunter Terry Herbert uncovered the largest hoard of Anglo-Saxon gold found to date, estimated to be worth over 1 million GBP! Which is over $1.5 million in real money!

Says John:

"The article itself is cool, but one line really grabbed me:

'The hoard was reported to the local officer of the Portable Antiquities Scheme, and on 24 September 2009 was declared treasure by the South Staffordshire coroner.'

The coroner?! What the what?!? Why not the undertaker? Or the baker? Seriously. Those kooky Brits."

It does give one pause. Maybe they figured that he rifles through the dead's possessions enough that he was one most likely to be able to discern the crap from the good stuff?

Another thing to ponder: They found over 1500 pieces of armor and weaponry in about 20 square meters, with "no traces of any graves, buildings, or other structures have been found." How did they all end up there? A big giant battle, followed by a big giant pile of dead bodies that nobody bothered to clean up? A big giant barracks where everyone decided to become pacifist hippies one day and left all their swag behind? A big giant something else?