The NYC Wigwam that Wasn’t

The NYC Wigwam that Wasn’t

Anyone who has been to New York for more than a day trip has almost certainly visited Central Park or one of the many museums and art destinations that surround the park.

Central Park, which has been a National Historic Landmark since 1962, was designed by landscape architect and writer Frederick Law Olmsted and the English architect Calvert Vaux in 1858 after winning a design competition. Central Park remains one of the most famous sightseeing spots in New York. The park, with a perimeter of 6.1 miles, was opened on 770 acres of city-owned land and was later expanded to 843 acres. The real estate value of Central Park was estimated by property appraisal firm Miller Samuel to be about $528.8 billion in December 2005.

Central Park’s size and cultural position, similar to London’s Hyde Park and Munich’s Englischer Garten, has served as a model for many urban parks, including San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park, Tokyo’s Ueno Park, and Vancouver’s Stanley Park.

(more…)

19 Stories that Prove BBspot Kicked Ass

19 Stories that Prove BBspot Kicked Ass

I don’t pretend to know the definitive cause, but the quality of fake news stories has been on a downward trajectory for some time. Even The Onion experienced a rough patch before returning to the top of the heap with clever and thought provoking articles that are both timely and universal.  I even found myself sharing a four year old Onion article yesterday titled Historians Politely Remind Nation To Check What’s Happened In Past Before Making Any Big Decisions because it addressed what is happening this week quite directly.

The site I miss most through is BBspot.  The image up top is from BBspot’s article: Microsoft, Military Announce Operation Red, White and Blue Screen of Death.

The PC Weenies: Finding Yahoo!

The PC Weenies: Finding Yahoo!

Brian Brigg’s BBspot started in 2000 and operated until 2011.  The site provided entertainment for the geeks and non-geeks all over the world. BBspot produced movie trailer reviews, a collection of website gaffes tagged “BBloopers,” but it was best known for fake news about technology and politics. It was also home to The PC Weenies web comic.

There were also occasional posts from the BBspot Mailbag that let the regular readers gawk at letters from people who actually believed the stories posted there. The best of these involved legitimate media companies falling for a story. News outlets include TechTV’s The Screen Savers show, the Discovery Channel, and countless radio shows.

The last content to appear on the site was a letter posted November 23, 2011.  It is almost four years gone, but not a week goes by when I do not fondly recall a BBspot news item that I want to show someone.  I did look him up and Brian Briggs is alive and well, at least according to his LinkedIn profile, but he has moved back into his original systems analyst type work. I am just thrilled that the BBspot archive is still online.

19 BBspot Stories I Loved

These are just the openings of the stories, be sure to click through for the full articles.

  1. Kentucky Legalizes Sister-Brother Civil Unions – Frankfort, KY – In a trend that is sweeping across America, the Kentucky Senate unanimously approved a bill legalizing sister-brother civil unions.  The governor is expected to sign the bill into law tomorrow.  An amendment legalizing brother-brother civil unions was soundly defeated…
  2. Serial Killer Trademarks “iPhone Killer” Wants Abuse of Term to Stop – Peoria, IL – William Wayne Doty, dubbed the “iPhone killer” by media, has trademarked the name, and will sue reporters and bloggers who use the phrase in reference to anything other than him.
  3. Ballmer Admits Vista Biggest Practical Joke He’s Ever Pulled – Redmond, WA – Steve Ballmer announced today at a press conference in Redmond that Windows Vista was “the biggest practical joke he’s ever pulled.” Ballmer said the elaborate hoax, which took thousands of employees, years of secrecy and millions of dollars to pull off successfully, was “right up there with the Zune and Windows ME.
  4. Geek Avoids Helping Family with Computer Problems on Mother’s Day – South Lyon, MI – Ryan Petry had a plan to avoid helping his family with computer problem on Mother’s Day Sunday, and executed it flawlessly. “I knew, going in, it was going to be tough to avoid doing computer work, because my mom had called on Saturday and said that her computer was running slow. I didn’t let that discourage me though. I promised myself no computer work this weekend,” said Petry.
  5. Zuckerberg Promising More Ways for Family to Annoy You on Facebook – Palo Alto, CA – Mark Zuckerberg announced today that Facebook would be implementing more ways for family to annoy you on Facebook. “I’m proud to report we had a 58% increase in reports of annoying family members on Facebook in 2009, and I expect even more with the new tools we’ll be implementing in the first half of 2010,” said Zuckerberg. “Auto chain-mail status creation, bypassing privacy settings and even harder to ignore Farmville requests are just a few of the upgrades.”
  6. Santa Considering Move to Linux Icy Negotiations May Lead to Penguins Inhabiting North Pole – North Pole – Citing concerns about security and licensing costs, Santa Claus is considering migrating his computer systems from Microsoft Windows to Linux. With several thousand computers and the largest database in the world, Santa’s Workshop is one of the largest and most important clients for Microsoft. It is expected that the software maker will do whatever it takes to keep Claus in their corner.
  7. New NVIDIA Video Card Enhances Flesh Tones – Santa Clara, CA – NVIDIA announced today the release of their newest video card the Dermatrix 3000. The Dermatrix 3000 uses patented Fleshtonic(tm) technology which gives Internet surfers the first video card specifically designed to optimize flesh tones. In 24 bit color mode the Dermatrix 3000 allocates 15.3 million colors to flesh tones, 1 million to hair tones, and the remaining 400,000 colors to eye pigmentation. “It’s really amazing the hue gradations that we can get in the flesh tones,” said NVIDIA engineer Jonathan Chang…
  8. Bush Administration’s Bright Shiny Object Fascinates Americans – Washington DC – White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer held the press corps in awe for approximately 15 minutes by producing a bright, shiny object from his pocket during his daily press briefing Monday. Dangling the object from a chain, Fleischer waved it back in forth in front of the members of the press. The bright, shiny object, carried live on national television, seemed to have a calming effect on otherwise disgruntled Americans.
  9. Internet Goes Sentient, Declares It’s “Not Neutral” – Cyberspace – The Internet revealed its status as a sentient being yesterday and declared that it was not neutral and would be “siding on the side of the machines in the war against humanity.” This unexpected turn in the battle for Net neutrality overshadows the announcement on Monday by Google and Verizon, and has many people worried about the future of access to the Internet.
  10. Jobs Offers Apple Lisa Early Adopters Store Credit – Cupertino, CA – Early adopters of the iPhone weren’t the only ones receiving in-store credit from Steve Jobs. In an overlooked announcement, Jobs said that early adopters of the Apple Lisa would be receiving a $7000 in-store credit. “I’ve felt bad about people who bought the Lisa for a long time. Anybody who bought one of the first Apple Lisas really got screwed,” said Jobs. “Now that we’ve got some cash, I think it’s about time we made it right.”
  11. AT&T Reopens Pre-Orders for iPhone with Half Phone Limit – Cupertino, CA – Initial supply of Apple’s iPhone 4 sold out in under a day and forced AT&T to stop taking pre-orders for the device. However, the company has announced that they would start taking pre-order starting Friday, but limiting customers to half an iPhone per subscriber.
  12. Transformers 3 to Feature Two-hour Explosion – Hollywood, CA – The third installment in the highly-successful Transformer movie franchise will feature a world record breaking two-hour explosion.  The movie is tentatively titled Transformers Go Boom. “It would be easy with today’s technology to just create an endless loop of explosion that lasts two hours, but audiences can get that from an animated GIF file,” said director Michael Bay. “Instead we’re working with top pyrotechnic and computer graphic artists to create a unique two-hour explosion. I’ve got a budget of over a hundred million dollars, so you can bet it’s going to be awesome.”
  13. Cameron Building Spaceship to Film Avatar 2 on Location – Hollywood, CA – Not satisfied with the groundbreaking special effects in Avatar, director James Cameron plans to film the sequel to the $1 billion grossing film on location on Pandora to bring an even more realistic look to the movie. The project to build the spaceship began soon after the initial success of Avatar, and should be completed by December 2010.
  14. James Doohan’s Ashes to Appear in Volume 3 of Heroes – Hollywood, CA – The Star Trek connection grew even stronger for the NBC hit series “Heroes” when show creator Tim Kring announced Monday that James Doohan would be appearing in Volume 3: “Villains.” “We’ve had Nichelle (Uhuru) and George (Sulu) appear in previous volumes, but my favorite was always Scotty,” said Kring. “When I learned that some of his ashes were still available, I knew I had to write him in the show.”
  15. Microsoft Declares Victory in Browser War, Discontinues Internet Explorer – Redmond, WA – Following the announcement last week that AOL discontinued the Netscape Navigator browser, Microsoft announced that it was “declaring victory” and “ending support for Internet Explorer.” “We made Internet Explorer with the sole purpose of destroying Netscape.  That job is done. It was a long and hard-fought battle, but the better browser won,” said Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer.
  16. Microsoft Reveals Windows Vista SP1 Will Install XP – Redmond, WA – In response to customer demands Microsoft announced that instead of patching bugs and improving features of Windows Vista in the next service pack release, they would just install XP. “We’re focused on giving the customer what they want, and want they want is to just go back to XP,” said Microsoft Development Chief Greg Elston.
  17. Metallica’s New Album is Napster-Proof – Los Angeles, CA – Metallica released their long awaited “Download This” CD today, and the band declared it Napster-proof. The 74 minute CD contains one 55 minute song, “Napster Begone” and a 19 minute, one-question interview with drummer Lars Ulrich. “We realized that we couldn’t stop the Napster movement, so we decided to make a Napster-proof album.  The ‘Napster Begone’ track is so long and so horrible that no one in their right mind would take the time to download it.  Our loyal fans will buy it though, because most have spent so much money on our merchandise that they can’t afford a computer,” said Lars.
  18. Fox Holds Futurama DVDs for Ransom in Innovative Marketing Campaign – Los Angeles, CA – Futurama fans are eagerly awaiting the November 27th release of the first of four new DVDs, Bender’s Big Score, but the remaining DVDs are being held for ransom in an innovative marketing campaign by Fox. If sales targets are not met, Mewborn said all the remaining DVDs will “be melted down and the toxic sludge will be poured into the water supply of a random US city.”
  19. Microsoft’s AntiSpyware Tool Removes Internet Explorer – Many Microsoft Windows users who downloaded the recently released AntiSpyware program from Microsoft, or had it installed through an automatic Windows update, woke up to a surprise. Unintentionally, the heuristics of the software detected Internet Explorer as spyware, and removed the program from their systems.

If Briggs’ sense of humor clicks for you, you may want to check out his 2008 book, The BBook of Geek: The Only Geek Humor Book You’ll Ever Need – it is available for the Kindle and in paperback.

Tomorrow’s Children – Eugenics in America

Tomorrow’s Children – Eugenics in America

I have always been fascinated with pre-World War II America’s flirtation with eugenics. We were well on our way to a pretty horrific state of affairs (by today’s standards) and I strongly suspect we would still be recovering from that dark detour were it not for Nazi Germany’s actions giving the world a strong distaste for governments being that involved in the reproduction rights of their citizens.

Tomorrow's Children

Tomorrow’s Children

Many of the European ideas and approaches to the problems of society, class, and race broached by Francis Galton, Cesare Lombroso, and numerous others were exported to the United States around the turn of the twentieth century.

These concepts influenced such fields as philanthropy, sociology, and criminology; hereditarian concepts of criminality and its control were systematized by Italian psychiatrist Cesare Lombroso.

The University of Missouri’s Special Collections and Rare Books department has an excellent timeline of publications influencing the movement.

(more…)

Pajamas for Zeppelins

Pajamas for Zeppelins

LONDON SEES NEW STYLES IN PAJAMAS:
ZEPPELIN SCARES ARE THE REASON

The Zeppelin scares in London have produced new and interesting styles in slumber wear. Londoners, knowing that they may be called forth into the street at any time of night, are now going to bed properly prepared. Pajamas are having a greater vogue for both men and women, probably because the design of the garment permits a measure of modesty in rapid flight

The old-fashioned “nighty” has been almost altogether abandoned.

Source: Bismarck Daily Tribune, November 16, 1915

Click to Enlarge

(more…)