Saturday, June 18, 2011

Titanic- the Sequel


Inflatable Titanic slide collapses at fair; 5 injured

(Friday, June 2, 2000) - At a carnival at Sherwood Park in Alberta, Canada, five teenagers were injured after an inflatable ride collapsed. The ride, a portable, inflatable slide, is a replica of the Titanic. It allows riders to slide down what is made to look like the deck of the ship as it sank into the ocean.

All five teens were taken to a local hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.

Eyewitnesses say the accident is a result of the teens' rowdy behavior. The Alberta Elevating Devices and Amusement Rides Safety Association is investigating.

In fact, according to one expert, this product has a pretty lousy history.

Girl, 11, dead after fall from Titanic inflatable
(Thursday, April 20, 2006) - An 11-year-old girl who fell 12 feet head-first from a Titanic inflatable ride in Barcelona, Spain on April 9, died after an 11-day coma.

And another..

Boy injured on Titanic inflatable
(Sunday, August 12, 2001) - At a fair in Scotland, a 3-year-old boy was injured and knocked unconscious after falling about four feet from an inflatable slide called the Titanic. The owner of the ride says that the child fell from a chute and "bounced awkwardly." The boy was taken to a local hospital where he was treated for back injuries and released.

"Bounced awkwardly" is a bit of an understatement, I 'd think.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Drake’s Plate of Brass

The website Futility Closet describes this horror story of a prank that went terribly wrong, expanding beyond the control of the instigators and through the academic world.

Drake’s Plate of Brass is a museum curator’s nightmare: A priceless artifact revealed as historians’ in-joke gone terribly awry.

The story surrounds a golden plate that Francis Drake reportedly left as a monument when he visited Northern California in 1579. Hoping to fool one of their number, a group of local historians hammered out a fake version in 1936 and planted it near Drake’s landing point.

Sure enough, it made its way to the victim, historian George Bolton of Berkeley. Before they could reveal the joke, though, Bolton vouched for the plate’s authenticity, engaging the University of California and paying $2,500 for it.

Now that the hoax was so painfully public the conspirators had to move carefully. They tried discreetly to reveal their joke, but then to their horror Columbia University confirmed the plate as genuine. It was added to textbooks; likenesses were sold as souvenirs; copies were presented to Queen Elizabeth II herself on several occasions.

Only 40 years later, after exhaustive testing at Oxford, Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory and MIT, was the plate confirmed as a fake, and it was several years before the whole story was pieced together. The plate is still on display at the Bancroft Library at Berkeley, an embarrassing testament to the gullibility of an excited historian.

Oh, dear. This is why one should never take, at face value, the word of an expert.

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  • Rock Cliffs- Eski Foca, Turkey

    Rocks of Foca coast

    Another painting based on some photos I took in Eski Foca. Hope you like.

    Tuesday, June 7, 2011

    Moving from a Read-Only Culture

    Translated into Turkish by Zorbay Cetin
    Reviewed by osman oguz ahsen
    I found this interesting lecture by Harvard professor Larry Lessig. Here he discusses the problems with attempting to copyright all creative expression and why it is foolish and bound to fail.

    It is technology that has made them different, and as we see what this technology can do we need to recognize you can't kill the instinct the technology produces; we can only criminalize it. We can't stop our kids from using it; we can only drive it underground. We can't make our kids passive again; we can only make them, quote, "pirates." And is that good? We live in this weird time, it's kind of age of prohibitions, where in many areas of our life, we live life constantly against the law.Ordinary people live life against the law, and that's what I -- we -- are doing to our kids. They live life knowing they live it against the law. That realization is extraordinarily corrosive, extraordinarily corrupting. And in a democracy we ought to be able to do better.
    I have added a Turkish translation because I am sure my Turkish kardeslerim will find it very interesting.


    Here's a classic Monty Python skit. Short and sweet and still after all those years, it  still brings a smile. Enjoy.

    Monday, June 6, 2011

    Day Trip to Eski Foca, Turkey

    Castle Steps- Foca Turkey2

    Sometimes it is just too easy to get trapped inside even when the weather is great.

    The other day, I took a train north for a day trip to Eski (Old) Foca,a seaside resort on the Turkish Aegean north of Izmir. There is Yeni (New) Foca, but I saved that for some other day.  I wandered around the village for a couple of hours and snapped some photos. Here is a painting based on one of them. 

    Since the construction of the metro line, it is remarkably easy to get from Izmir to Foca- both old and new towns. I am not sure who made the impractical decision to run the city train line all the way some 60 kilometers north, but I, for one, think  it's cool. The train which I assume is supposed to service the city residents suddenly flies passed wide empty stretches and huge fields.

    Day trips in Turkey used to be quite a lot of hassle, full of surprises and unexpected confusions. Even on this excursion, I misunderstood an announcement and found myself suddenly heading back in the wrong direction. I wasn't the only one, though. The two men sitting across from me made exactly the same mistake and the expression on their faces was priceless. We ended up having quite a nice chat as we were putting things to right. They were members of a kind of Ottoman military band and they toured the region putting on shows. That's one of the best things about traveling, meeting new people along the way, and Turks really excel in this kind of socializing. (Rule one, if you can laugh at yourself, or, at least, not take yourself too seriously, admit when you done something foolish, you can generally be a hit with Turks.)

    Although there is a sprawling  housing development in the hills,  and another huge nest of summer homes for military families, Eski Foca is a pretty small village, The main part of town is lovely, with cool back streets shrouded in vines.  Unlike a lot of towns in Turkey that have become popular with tourists, Eski Foca has retained a lot of its old homes and ambiance.  Compared to Kusadasi, Foca is quite laid back and relaxing. The waterfront is lined with fish restaurants, bars and a few discos. In the small cove, there are two of three  small, flat and empty islands. It's a marvelous view coming into town, when you crest the hills and look down into the village. 

    Foca, known in ancient times as Phocaea, or Phokaia was founded in the eleventh century B.C. According to legend:

    In the first half of the 6th century, the unstoppable Persian army surrounded Phocaea. The city walls were 18-20 meters high but they could not resist the Persian attack. The Phocaeans, realizing they could hold out no longer, asked for a one night truce to prepare for surrender. The Persian commander Happagos agreed. When the night ended and morning came, there was no sign of life in the city.

    The Phocaeans had chosen to leave their homes rather than become slaves, taking the valuables hidden in tunnels behind the city and loading them onto ships and sailing away.

    From the book, Izmir, the Pearl of the Aegean

    Sunday, June 5, 2011


    I know how it feels. My mother told this to me once too.

    To find many other manglings of English, go to Photo courtesy of Leah Diane Love.

    Open Question..

    (courtesy of


    I suppose most of us have a regret or two. I know I do. Nothing major but there are a few things that I think I missed out on when I was younger. 

    What about you? Let me know what you think.

    Saturday, June 4, 2011

    The Great Tofts Rabbit Hoax

    From FutilityCloset

    In 1726, 25-year-old English maidservant Mary Tofts began giving birth to rabbits. Despite a miscarriage earlier that year, she apparently went into labor, and local doctor John Howard delivered several stillborn rabbits.

    More were coming. Howard summoned other doctors by letter, and Mary’s next litter was witnessed by Nathaniel St. Andre, surgeon-anatomist to King George I, and Sir Richard Manningham, the most famous obstetrician in London.

    Amazed, St. Andre published a tract titled A Short Narrative of an Extraordinary Delivery of Rabbits. But Mary’s deliveries stopped when she was put under close supervision, and soon a boy came forward reporting that she had bribed him to supply her with more rabbits. In the end she confessed, saying she had done it “to get so good a living that I should never want as long as I lived.”

    This young woman would fit in quite well in this day and age, I bet. The full story has many twists and turns and some particularly gruesome details. 

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    Friday, June 3, 2011

    Taco Baby

    Or.. why some couples should need a license to have a baby.

    Arguments Against..

    (Courtesy of

    That's really about right. But I think the wind turbines are quite beautiful . Well, compared to the a coal burning power plant, that is.

    Thursday, June 2, 2011

    Wednesday, June 1, 2011

    Even More Turkish Soldier Postcards

    Here we have Metin the Commando and his future bride, Ayse. postcard8I suppose they are just actors. This photo must have been taken in the morning. Because, I think by the end of this photo shoot, the models got a wee bit exhausted. By the time the evening comes, both of them are looking a bit on the waxy side. Especially his date.

    postcard17jpgI keep asking myself why anybody would ever buy these postcards but apparently there must have been some kind of market for them.


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