On Jan. 31, The Daily Toreador's editorial board was made aware by a Texas Tech faculty member of an instance of plagiarism.
Columnist Ty McDonald took direct statements, ideas and content from "Plagiarism and intellectual loot," a post on Christiaan Briggs' Weblog located at http://last-straw.net for two of his articles: "A new way to think about thoughts" and "Plagiarism is not a sin."
Nearly half of British men surveyed would give up sex for six months in return for a 50-inch plasma TV, a survey -- perhaps unsurprisingly carried out for a firm selling televisions -- said on Friday.
Electrical retailer Comet ... found 47 percent of men would give up sex for half a year, compared to just over a third of women.
"It seems that size really does matter more for men than women," the firm said....
Presumably it's the upper half of men that would prefer the television to sex.
In an April 1995 memo, Bush invited his staff to come to his office to look at a painting.... The picture is a Western scene of a cowboy riding up a craggy hill, with two other riders following behind him. Bush told visitors — who often noted his resemblance to the rider in front — that it was called A Charge To Keep and that it was based on his favorite Methodist hymn of that title, written in the eighteenth century by Charles Wesley. As Bush noted in the memo, which he quoted in his autobiography of the same title: "I thought I would share with you a recent bit of Texas history which epitomizes our mission. When you come into my office, please take a look at the beautiful painting of a horseman determinedly charging up what appears to be a steep and rough trail. This is us. What adds complete life to the painting for me is the message of Charles Wesley that we serve One greater than ourselves." Bush identified with the lead rider, whom he took to be a kind of Christian cowboy, an embodiment of indomitable vigor, courage, and moral clarity.....
He came to believe that the picture depicted the circuit-riders who spread Methodism across the Alleghenies in the nineteenth century. In other words, the cowboy who looked like Bush was a missionary of his own denomination.
Only that is not the title, message, or meaning of the painting. The artist, W.H.D. Koerner, executed it to illustrate a Western short story entitled "The Slipper Tongue," published in The Saturday Evening Post in 1916. The story is about a smooth-talking horse thief who is caught, and then escapes a lynch mob in the Sand Hills of Nebraska. The illustration depicts the thief fleeing his captors. In the magazine, the illustration bears the caption: "Had His Start Been Fifteen Minutes Longer He Would Not Have Been Caught."
See also the Slate commentary (where I found the above quotation and some of the links), which uses this as an example of how Bush prefers what he wants to hear to what the truth happens to be".
From the New York Times (January 9, 2008):
Two men were arrested on Tuesday after pushing a corpse, seated in an office chair, along the sidewalk to a check-cashing store to cash the dead man's Social Security check.
Some comments by my co-workers:
In Chicago they would have been taking him to vote. -- Bart Locanthi
In LA, it would have been a movie screening's focus group -- Bryan Baker
Both from Consumerist:
- According to Reuters, an Australian department store directed its Santa Claus 'to say "ha ha ha" because the word "ho," which is American slang for whore, could offend women, media reported'.
- McDonald's and other fast-food restaurants have long given coupons to students who earn good grades, which was bad enough, but now McDonald's advertisements are being printed on report cards.
I saw the headline "Scientists discover, kill oldest creature" not in The Onion but in the newspaper. From The Guardian Online (Oct. 29):
A clam that lived on the seabed in the frigid waters off Iceland's north coast has been hailed as the longest-lived animal ever discovered.
The mollusc, which is thought to have lurked beneath the waves until at least the age of 405, would have been a juvenile when Galileo picked up his first telescope, Hamlet was first staged and the gunpowder plot failed to blow up King James I....
The clam was alive when it was brought to the surface, but at that point, the researchers had no idea how old it was. Only after cutting through the shell and counting annual growth rings under a microscope did they date the mollusc to between 405 to 410 years old.
This reminds me of Terry Pratchett's fictional counting pines:
Counting pines are one of the few known examples of 'borrowed evolution'. A counting pine seed coming to rest anywhere on the Disc picks up the most effective genetic code, and grows into whatever best suits the climate, usually usurping the local plants.
The other notable feature of this remarkable plant is that it produces, at eye-height, numbers detailing its precise age. Its chain of reasoning is as follows; being dimly aware that humans can tell a tree's age by counting its rings, it has reasoned this must be why humans cut trees down.
Unfortunately, within a year they were driven almost to extinction by the house number-plate industry.
It also brings to mind this joke:
A couple of New Jersey hunters are out in the woods when one of them falls to the ground. He doesn't seem to be breathing, his eyes are rolled back in his head. The other guy whips out his cell phone and calls the emergency services. He gasps to the operator: "My friend is dead! What can I do?" The operator, in a calm soothing voice says: "Just take it easy. I can help. First, let's make sure he's dead." There is a silence, then a shot is heard. The guy's voice comes back on the line. He says: "OK, now what?"
According to The Consumerist, ratings plummeted for the TV show Desperate Housewives after high definition television (HDTV) "let viewers see the stars' wrinkles and age-lines in true detail". Fortunately, technology has a cure for the problems wrought by technology: airbrushes, now being used to precisely apply make-up and cover any imperfections. (I consider this the greatest use of technology to counter technology since the snooze alarm neutralized the alarm clock.)
This problem was reported on back in 1996 by The (British) Independent:
Greater clarity means viewers get a much better look at faces that for years appeared flawless. In the United States, where the images have already begun beaming, previously unseen spots, blemishes and crow's feet are being highlighted on visages, prompting outbreaks of fury and talk of legal action against commentators who have ridiculed celebrities over their looks....
"For the last few weeks in our make-up department we've started experimenting with make-up for HDTV," said Ms Gerbeau. "One of the big things is we've been using an airbrush to apply the foundation, which looks like a dentist's drill. It's like being a canvas that's spray painted, but the idea is that it gives a natural, uniform look to the complexion of the presenters."
All of this is good news for the cosmetics companies. Clinique has launched a line of products for television firms that will also be released on the general market. Dr David Orentreich, a dermatologist for Clinique, said that advance orders were already coming in for the company's "HDTV kit", which includes a "pore minimiser", "colour correctors" and an "anti-oxidant rescue serum"....
Other presenters are reported to be requesting "Botox budgets" on their expense accounts and contributions towards facial peels. They are doing so largely as a result of what has happened in the US. There, celebrities ranging from Desperate Housewives actress Teri Hatcher to pop star Britney Spears have been slaughtered over their "real" appearance. One commentator, Phillip Swann, has become a pseudo celebrity in his own right for highlighting HDTV horrors on his cult website, www.tvpredictions.com.
I continue to be happy with a twenty-something inch analog TV set.
After toy-maker RC2's recall of lead-tainted Thomas & Friends toys, customers received an apology and a bonus gift, which has since been recalled for lead contamination.
Consumerist, which ran the story, comments: "That's pathetic. Maybe the apology toys for these ones will contain polio.".
(Thanks, Kevin Godby.)