Archive for the 'Linkage' Category

The Onion predicts the future… er, present

Jul 15, 2006 in Linkage

Bush: ‘Our Long National Nightmare Of Peace And Prosperity Is Finally Over’ | The Onion - America’s Finest News Source

This week is The Onion’s 10th anniversary. Among the highlights from their archives is the above article, written just around the time of Bush’s inauguration in 2001. Six years later, this satirical article has proven to be strangely (well, not that strangely) prophetic.

During the 40-minute speech, Bush also promised to bring an end to the severe war drought that plagued the nation under Clinton, assuring citizens that the U.S. will engage in at least one Gulf War-level armed conflict in the next four years.

“You better believe we’re going to mix it up with somebody at some point during my administration,” said Bush, who plans a 250 percent boost in military spending. “Unlike my predecessor, I am fully committed to putting soldiers in battle situations. Otherwise, what is the point of even having a military?”

… “We as a people must stand united, banding together to tear this nation in two,” Bush said. “Much work lies ahead of us: The gap between the rich and the poor may be wide, be there’s much more widening left to do. We must squander our nation’s hard-won budget surplus on tax breaks for the wealthiest 15 percent. And, on the foreign front, we must find an enemy and defeat it.”

Uncanny, isn’t it?

Happy John Frum Day!

Feb 15, 2006 in Linkage

A blog post at The Accuser, linked to from Fark, pointed out that today is John Frum Day. (I wrote about the John Frum cargo cult last year in this post.)

The Accuser links to a current Smithsonian Magazine article on the John Frum cult — probably the best expose I’ve seen on this anthropological oddity. He mentions the Vanuatuans use of kava, a mildly psychoactive and medicinal root that is ground and drank by many in the South Pacific. (I strongly doubt that kava consumption has anything to do with the oddity that is John Frum, though.)

I had the opportunity to try kava in Hawaii. It’s brown and muddy, and very bitter. But if you can stomach the taste, kava gives you a very mellow and relaxing feeling. The first effect you’ll notice is that it makes your lips and mouth numb. I had three servings, and while I really enjoyed the experience, my lips still curl just thinking about the taste. If you’re inclined to actually try kava, powdered kava root is readily available. Vanuatu kava is considered to be the strongest.

Something to do on a boring Sunday afternoon

Jul 17, 2005 in Linkage

Although it’s best known for gory photos and other tasteless stomach-churning content,’s Library is a fascinating repository of pop culture and weird history. Read about the history of professional wrestling, a tally of deaths at Disneyland, the curious celebrity of Emperor Norton, a San Franciso resident who declared himself emperor of America in the 1800’s, a brief overview of American Francophobia, and a history of controversial moments in classic American animation, among other things.

Who is John Frum?

Mar 10, 2005 in Linkage

A recent MeFi post explores the odd story of the South Pacific cargo cults, based in the Melanesian islands near Australia. An amalgam of evangelical messianic Christianity and indigenous beliefs, the cargo cults believe that redemption will come when their “ancestors” show up with loads of material goods, much like the European colonists and American GI’s did.

The cargo cults first appeared with the arrival of white explorers in the 1800s, who gave gifts of Western items to the natives. The arrival of missionaries, colonists, and later, American GI’s further reinforced the islanders’ strange philosophy.

The most famous cargo cult that is still active today is the John Frum cult, located on the island of Tana in the nation of Vanuatu (a notorious offshore banking haven that is also home to Kazaa parent company Sharman Networks). The identity of the real John Frum is unknown, but his legend is inexplicably tied with the arrival of American GI’s during WWII.

The John Frum cultists imitate the actions of the American GI’s, marching with wooden rifles, painting USA on their chests, and even constructing airstrips, planes, control towers, warehouses, wharves and wireless telephones out of straw and wood, figuring that an airplane or ship will eventually land. They have also made religious symbols out of the American flag and the Red Cross symbol.

About a year ago, members of the John Frum cult engaged in a bloody battle with members of a rival cult, led by a man named Prophet Fred. Some more links on cargo cults (a few taken from the above-mentioned post):

More Red/Blue State Propaganda!

Feb 12, 2005 in Linkage

Hear the Issues is a political website chock full of maps, charts and statistics that examines various factors across the 50 states. Many of the statistics that were passed around during the 2004 election are featured here, including:

  • The infamous IQ and education ratings of red and blue states. Using two different sets of data, the author concludes that there is a significant correlation between education levels and red/blue state status. Blue states scored higher than the national median by a 2 to 1 ratio.
  • Gay Marriage and Divorce Rates: The states with the highest divorce rates (and the lowest average of same-sex couples) tend to be red states, whereas the states with the lowest divorce rates (and the highest average of same-sex couples) tend to be blue states, with a concentration in the northeast.
  • Teen Pregnancy: Again, the highest teen pregnancy rates tend to be in the red states, with the highest percentages concentrated in the southeast. Bush’s home state of Texas ranks number 2.
  • Federal Funding Expenditures: The states that receive the most money from the federal government per dollar of taxes paid in tend to be rural red states. The states that receive less money from the federal government than they pay in tend to be populous blue states.
  • The Effect of Politics on the Dow Jones: Since 1928, Democratic administrations have seen the highest average stock market gains. Republican administrations see the wildest swings, with a higher average yearly gain/loss, but a lower average gain overall.
  • There are many other interesting maps and charts on this site, examining trends such as television, music and automobile preferences, consumption and geography, soda vs. pop, regional dialects, and the 10 regions of US politics.

    The World’s Smallest Website

    Feb 08, 2005 in Linkage
    has the dubious honor of being the world’s smallest website, literally. An 18×18 pixel tile contains a functional website, along with tiny adaptations of classic games such as pacman, pong, asteroids and more. Just try not to go blind.

    Kids do the darndest things

    Jan 17, 2005 in Linkage

    In the spirit of Tard-Blog (a terribly hilarious blog written by a series of Special Ed. teachers), comes I Am A Japanese School Teacher, a series of anecdotes about a black(?) American man teaching English in Kyoto junior high schools.

    I Want To Believe: “Black Triangle” UFO’s

    Nov 20, 2004 in Linkage

    An interesting post on Fark this morning: Las Vegas TV station KLAS recently did a report on “black triangle” UFOs (w/ video), which appear as triangular formations of lights that move slowly across the sky. This particular variation of UFO sightings has started to penetrate the mainstream media: did a recent article on black triangle sightings.

    But what’s interesting to me about this is not necessarily the novelty of it, but the fact that I saw something very similar earlier this week. I was outside around 8pm for an astronomy lab at school. I looked straight up, and saw dim lights in the shape of a flock of geese (very similar to the top photo in the KLAS report), moving swiftly across the sky. Unlike most of these sightings, it wasn’t low to the ground, and thus it wasn’t very bright. But it was too dark and too swift to be a flock of geese, and it certainly didn’t resemble an airplane.

    I do live near a municipal airport, and did see several planes in the sky that night. But planes are usually well lit, with blinking lights. I only saw the strange object for a few seconds, and I don’t think anyone else saw it. I shrugged it off; perhaps it was an airplane or a flock of geese. But after coming across this online, I’m starting to wonder exactly what it was that I saw, and if it has anything to do with this black triangle phenomenon.

    I’m not really obsessed with strange phenomenon, or out to win any arguments defending their existence, but considering that there are so many uniform reports from across the world concerning strange objects in the sky, it makes you start to wonder…

    Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go buy some aluminum foil…

    Shameless, but informative plug: Easy investing with exchange-traded funds

    Oct 01, 2004 in Linkage

    I’m going to take this opportunity to plug my new website, If you’ve been thinking of investing, but you’re not sure how, this website will show you how to invest in exchange-traded funds. ETFs are like index funds, except they are traded like stocks. This allows you to invest in broad sectors of the market (example, the entire S&P 500) without having to pick individual stocks. It’s also much simpler to diversify with ETFs, and you can get started with a relatively small investment.

    This came about during my research into investing, and I think this is the best method for casual, long-term investors. The reason I started this site is because there was little information out there on ETFs for new investors. So, if you’re looking for an easy way to invest, I hope you find this information useful.

    Skippy bling!

    Aug 17, 2004 in Linkage

    Seth Stephenson of Slate analyzes the new ad for Skippy Snack Bars, featuring dancehall reggae-performing Rastafarian elephants. If you watch Cartoon Network at all, you’ve probably seen this. (Choice quote from the press release: “Skippy bling!”)

    Seth’s analysis? Skippy is targeting stoners for it’s new snack treat.