The Town Scryer is a mixed bag of humor, socio-political observations and ephemera from the perspective of a eclectic Pagan veteran of the counter-culture.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

I Sing The Body Holographic

    Perhaps the holodeck from Star Trek: The various Generations isn't that far in the future after all. A lingerie shop in Paris has been featuring this as their window display:

    While my French is virtually non-existant, this would appear to be a real 3-D holographic animated image.
      O brave new world indeed!

      Be seeing you.

Some people are not able to view the clip. Here is a link: youtube.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Radiation Exposure? There's An App For That!

     Following the Fukashima disaster the Japanese people have become understandably concerned about radiation exposure. Enter the Pantone 5 107SH, the first cell phone with a built in Geiger counter.

It comes in an assortment of stylish colors including black, white, purple, yellow, orange, two shades of pink, and of course, Cherenkov blue! The phone runs Android 4.0 and comes with a 4 megapixel camera. 

What makes this 'droid special is that when you press the button it will read the ionizing radiation in microsieverts. No matter where you go you can always know just how many "sunshine units" you are absorbing!

Oh brave new world.

Be seeing you.

Source: wired

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Decoration Day

     When I was a boy growing up in Sacramento Grandmother didn't call it Memorial Day. She always referred  to the holiday at the end of May by its older name, Decoration Day. It was the day we went to put flowers on my mother's grave. A few years later it also became the day we put flowers on her husband's grave. I was raised to think of that day as a time to remember and cherish the memories of all my dead, not just those who had died in armed conflict. Maybe that was because the veterans in my family had served in the Great War, as they called the First World War before it became necessary to number them. No one celebrated that war the way they did the sequel. The price was far too dear. Some countries lost as much as 10% of their total male population. My great-uncle Oscar threw his medals over the side of the ship on the way home. Grandfather served at home because he was a clergyman who spoke German. He would stand between the mob of "patriots" and the German immigrants and speak about Jesus until the hot blood cooled. Great-uncle Sigmund had the "shell shock". I was told not to make loud sudden noises around him.

     Decoration Day was for all the dead because all are equal in the grave. There are no heroes, only victims there. It was on Veteran's Day that we honored the soldier...when we might still do him some good.

     Now I am older and Grandmother rests beside her husband. Memorial day is the day when the politicians use the dead of the old wars to heat the blood as they explain why we must fight the next one against the enemy du jour. The television is a veritable orgy of war movies that weekend. Patriotic slogans abound on social media. I wonder how many who post "The land of the free because of the brave" on facebook stop to put a fiver in the homeless vet's cup.

     "We must honor while we can
      The vertical man
      Though we value none
      But the horizontal one."


     Be seeing you.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Four Men Dressed In Panda Suits

...and it's not a photo from a furry convention.    It is a group of researchers transferring a giant panda to a new location. The researchers are trying to expose the pandas to as little human influence as possible. When they have to get close they don panda suits.

For more detail see: chinadaily and mercurynews

Be seeing you.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Noblesse Oblige. (See Below)

Rankin Paynter, who owns a jewelry exchange business in Northern Kentucky, was poor as a child. Now he feels for the customers who come to him because they have fallen on hard times. 

      “There are a lot of needy families in this area,” Paynter said. “A lot of people come in to sell me their last piece of jewelry because they need to buy food for their babies,” 

    So it was when he came into a K-Mart that was about to close for good to buy a safe and saw racks of winter clothing that remained unsold...

     " I asked what would happen to it when the store closed,” Paynter told The Daily.

“They said I could come back on Sunday night at 6 p.m. when the store closed, but I had to buy it all. So I did.”

Paynter would not reveal exactly how much he spent, saying only, “It cost me a lot of money.” It took six hours to load the merchandise onto a truck, and a whole day to unload it.

     He donated all of the clothing to Clark County Community Services.

     Paynter said he has already received several phone calls from families thanking him for his donation.

“I know they appreciate it. It’s a good feeling,” he said.

     Be seeing you



A Frog Eats the Sun

There's something about the quality of diminished light from an eclipse that is unlike almost anything else. It is different from overcast or smoke or smog. Perhaps that contributes to the eerie feeling that accompanies the sense of wonder.

Be seeing you

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Yet Another Reason Why Iceland Rocks

    I never really paid that much attention to Iceland until they resolved their financial crisis my creating a new government and constitution, jailing their bankers, defaulting on the debt, and starting over. (Their economy has steadily improved since, unlike the nations that have tried austerity.) I was intrigued by this brave little nation and I started watching for it in the news on line. I soon learned that because of the country's volcanic activity they use geothermal energy to generate electricity and to heat a lot of their sidewalks and a few streets. This means the main road in Reykjavik is always open. It also means that if a drunk passes out on the sidewalk he won't freeze to death.

    Oh, by the way, they have a penis museum.

Now I learn that not only do they have an elf school that teaches about the hidden people and the 13 kinds of elves that inhabit Iceland, but that the Independence Party's Minister of Parliament arranged to have a 30 ton boulder moved to a new location because it was believed to be home to three generations of elves and its old location was in the path of a highway project.

     A specialist oversaw the moving of the boulder, feeding the fair folk honey while the citizenry lent a hand in the spirit of good fun and fellowship.

      The specialist concluded that the boulder’s inhabitants were content with the move. “But they asked whether the boulder could stand on grass. I said that was no problem but asked why they wanted grass. ‘It’s because they want to have sheep,’ Ragnhildur replied,”

     For more see icelandic-anger-brings-record-debt-reliefIcelandic_Elf_Schoolpenis-museum, and icelandreview.


Thursday, May 17, 2012

Woman's Language

Nushu is a phonetic version of Chinese used exclusively by women in the Hunan Province in southern China from some time around the 13th century until the late 19th century. The language arose because most women in that era did not have the same access to formal education as did men. 
During the latter part of the 20th century, owing more to wider social, cultural and political changes than the narrow fact of greater access to hanzi literacy, younger girls and women stopped learning Nüshu, and it began falling into disuse, as older users died. The script was suppressed by the Japanese during their invasion of China in the 1930s-40s, because they feared that the Chinese could use it to send secret messages., and also during China's Cultural Revolution (1966–76). The last original writers of the script died in the 1990s (the last one in 2004). It is no longer customary for women to learn Nüshu, and literacy in Nüshu is now limited to a few scholars who learned it from the last women who were literate in it. However, after Yang Yueqing made a documentary about Nüshu, the government of the People's Republic of China started to popularize the effort to preserve the increasingly endangered script, and some younger women are beginning to learn it.

Nushu literally translates to "Woman's language".

    From: wikipedia

  Image from:wine-loving-vagabond

 Be seeing you.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Cop: "Your Car is Too Radioactive."

     Mike Apatow was on his way to work, driving down I-84 in Washington, near Newton when he was pulled over by a state police cruiser. He asked the officer "What seems to be the problem?" He was told "You've been flagged as a radioactive car."

     Say what?

     Evidently many of the Washington State Police cars are equipped with rather sensitive radiation detectors as a homeland security precaution. Mr. Apatow had been through some medical tests before driving to work that involved injecting a small amount of radioactive material into his blood in order to monitor his circulation. It was this that set off the equipment in the nearby police car as he was driving.

    His physician had given him a document that stated that he had been given a radio-isotope. He was sent on his way without incident.

     One wonders what went through his mind. The doctor had already advised him to avoid close contact with family members until the isotope had cleared his system, now this. One could be forgiven for being a bit apprehensive.


Be seeing you.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

The Election Summed Up Concisely

Matt Taibbi said: 

     " But this campaign, relatively speaking, will not be fierce or hotly contested. Instead it’ll be disappointing, embarrassing, and over very quickly, like a hand job in a Bangkok bathhouse. And everybody knows it. It’s just impossible to take Mitt Romney seriously as a presidential candidate. Even the news reporters who are paid to drum up dramatic undertones are having a hard time selling Romney as half of a titanic title bout.
Anyone who wants to claim that Romney has a chance in this election needs only to watch candidate Romney’s attempt to connect with black voters via his rendition of “Who Let the Dogs Out?” to be disabused of his illusions."

     In case you missed that gaffe, (there were so many):

     For the full article cited: rollingstone.

     Be seeing you.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

The Graffiti Hero

They called him "the spray man" for his graffiti that appeared all over the Syrian capital of Damascus. But in truth, 23-year-old Nour Hatem Zahra was an activist like any other activist.
He started protesting in Syria last spring. Back then, the opposition thought it would only take a few months to get rid of President Bashar Assad, as it had in Tunisia and Egypt.
Then Syrian forces started killing protesters, detaining them, torturing them. And the people started fighting back.
But still, there was Nour Hatem Zahra and his friends — organizing protests, hiding activists from the dreaded security forces, ferrying medical supplies to those who were injured but terrified to go to a government hospital.

Then late last year, Zahra got caught. Under torture, one of his friends had given up his name. Zahra later forgave the friend.
He was locked up for 56 days. As soon as he got out, he was at it again. He and his friends went around spraying the suburbs of Syria's capital, Damascus, with slogans against the Syrian president: "Down with the traitor." "To the trash heap of history." Pictures of the president with the word "pig" scrawled underneath.
A few weeks ago, Zahra and his friends declared "Freedom Graffiti Week." The Facebook page calls their work a mix of civil disobedience and peaceful expression.

Read the rest of the story at npr

Friday, May 4, 2012

Solving the War On Drugs Thing

    Poor President Obama. Every day someone new piles on him about marijuana. First it was former Presidents Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton, then it was President Morales of Bolivia and former President Fox of Mexico. Now  it's Jimmy Kimmel and Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Meanwhile, the economic recovery is about as sluggish as Rush Limbaugh before the oxycontin kicks in.

    The solution is simple. We just need to apply existing programs in unconventional ways.

    For example, take the thousands of people in prison for marijuana cultivation. In California it costs over $45,000 a year to keep these industrious citizens confined. I propose that we apply the farm subsidy program to the problem. Turn them loose and pay them $35,000 a year to not grow marijuana. If it's good enough for wheat and soybean and turnip farmers its good enough for pot farmers! The whole idea of the farm subsidy program is to maintain price supports for the farmer. From what I can see the only thing that 80 years of the War On Drugs (c) has accomplished is to inflate drug prices. This is a far more efficient means of accomplishing that end. 

     That brings us to the street level dealers. Most of them are in prison because they need money and trading in reefer futures provided an opportunity for personal advancement. Likewise the neighborhood pharmaceutical salesman. I say it makes more sense to give him that $45,000 as a small business loan and give him a chance to put those entrepreneurial skills to work in the marketplace! He has already proven that he can build an efficient marketing structure with little or no seed capital. Imagine what he could do with a little start-up money! Before you know it he could build another Goldman Sachs!

     Finally, we have the meth cooks. They could be given jobs with Monsanto, if they don't have ethical objections to working for that sort of company.

Be seeing you.


Thursday, May 3, 2012

Gathering Honey From a Cliff Face

   Twice a year the Gurung tribesmen of Nepal lower themselves down the face of cliffs in the foothills of the Himalayan Mountains using little more than rope ladders to collect honey.

     In 1987, photographer Eric Valli and his wife Diane Summers went into the jungles of Nepal to meet up with the Gurung tribesman and document their remarkable quest for honey.

Published originally in National Geographic. 
Found at twentytwowords

Be seeing you.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Kick-starting The Baby Carriage

In 1923, Dunkley made the decision which was to earn them immortality: to produce a motor pram. The heart of this was a unit called the Pramotor, which was basically a scooter with the front' wheel missing.

The one-wheeled power pack could be fastened to the rear of any Dunkley pram: Nanny stood astride the rear wheel, controlling the outfit's hectic progress with twin handlebars bolted to the back of the pram. Power units were originally all 1 hp, horizontal, single-cylinder two-strokes, with bore and stroke dimensions of 2 in x 2 in.

There was only one gear (two-speed gearing appeared a year later), but there was a kick starter and a hand-controlled clutch. Prices ranged from 40 guineas.

 For sporting Nannies there was also the option of a 21 hp engine - a 750 cc two-stroke single - which at 75 guineas promised performance far beyond the roadholding capabilities of the average perambulator, as the Pramotors were prohibited by law from using public footpaths or parks. They had to mix it on the open road with more conventional, more controllable vehicles.


Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Nice Doggie?

In 2005, photojournalist Pieter Hugo saw a cellphone pic of a group of men in Lagos, Nigeria walking down the street with chained hyenas. The picture intrigued him enough to track them down and eventually go visit them.

In Abuja we found them living on the periphery of the city in a shantytown – a group of men, a little girl, three hyenas, four monkeys and a few rock pythons. It turned out that they were a group of itinerant minstrels, performers who used the animals to entertain crowds and sell traditional medicines. The animal handlers were all related to each other and were practising a tradition passed down from generation to generation. I spent eight days travelling with them.

The animal handlers make use of herbs, concoctions, powders, amulets and esoteric incantations to catch and train their captives, protect themselves against harm and build up their own confidence. Amulets are also placed into ‘akayau’, metal rings tied around the men’s ankles, to enhance their dancing skills. The handlers believe that humans are capable of transforming themselves into animals such as hyenas, hence the need for powerful voodoo charms and incantations as protection.

For lots more of this fascinating story see:

Found via twentytwowords

Be seeing you.