Thursday, June 29, 2006

One for the road

I don't know how many of you are still going to be checking this now that class is over, but I feel like such a blog hog that I will leave you a thought for the road

Do you think that Mentos and Coke will become the new Pop Rocks and Coke urban legend?

I thought to myself, what if someone ingests mentos and drinks a can of Coke with it? We all know the effect it has on a bottle of soda, imagine that in your stomach...yeesh

Well it's something to think about

Enjoy your summer


Waiting 30 minutes to an hour before you swim…my mom says the principle isn’t a myth.

So, I talked to my mom yesterday and she stuck to her guns about waiting to swim after you eat. She said there are physiological reasons to wait. It’s mostly a matter of blood flow. If you’ve eaten right before swimming, oxygenated blood is being shunted toward your gut (GI track, stomach ect.). Poor blood flow might lead to lactic acidosis, which causes cramps. She said that a cramp while you’re running or doing some sort of land based exercise might be painful, but in water, difficulty moving muscles could lead to drowning. She then referenced Harrison’s Principles of Internal medicine Braunwald “Lactic acid is produced at accelerated rates in skeletal muscle and other tissue whenever oxygenation is inadequate to supply energy needs.” I told her that I believed her. She said that the reason, many people probably consider this rule an old wives tale is because it’s imprecise. The amount and type of food you’ve eaten will have an impact on cramps. 30 minutes might not be enough if you’ve had a large steak and potatoes and then want to go swim in deep ocean waters.
That made sense to me. My mom is a radiologist so the studies she’s conducted had nothing to do with cramps, but there are doctors that have studied the subject. Doctors Darren Morton and Robin Callister have extensively studied stomach cramps related to exercise which they call “exercise-related transient abdominal pain (ETAP) or stitches. Dr. Callister said that “you are most likely to get a stitch if you've consumed food or drink fairly shortly before you exercise” (MSN). So there is some truth to waiting to eat before you swim. Callister and Morton did say that the type of food makes a difference because carbohydrates will be burned faster than protein or fat. In the article they discuss this subject in mentions a professional swimmer that eats all the time during her swims. Here’s the article.

JFK's jelly-doughnut speech

This is what I wrote my final paper on. I always completely believed it and never questionned it until this class. Just interesting. JFK said he was a jelly doughnut.

Unsolved Mysteries

Did any of you used to watch that TV show, "Unsolved Mysteries?" (It came on right before Rescue! 911...) I always wondered a few things when I was little about that show:
1- How come the camera people didn't stop the bad guys in the middle of the crime?!
-Of course, the clips on the show were reenactments. But I didn't know that until years later.
2- If I called in and said I saw a guy that looked like their bad guy, would they really come arrest him?
-Apparently, the show was one of the first TV-audience interactive programs to air, and the contributions of viewers really did help solve hundreds of cases (including criminals, missing people, family reunions...)

That show covered everything from "Mothman" to missing children to crop circles to ghosts... I used to love it!!

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Sports Casters believe baseball created in US: PTI's Wilbon says so

This is for all you sports fans. I found an example of how pervasive the creation myth about baseball is. I had PTI (Pardon the Interruption) on a day or two after the US lost to Ghana and was kicked out of the World Cup series. At the top of the rundown list was the US loss to Ghana. In the discussion about the World Cup, Wilbon argued that until we care more about Soccer, we can’t expect to do very well. He said (and I’m paraphrasing) that it’s not a sport that was created in America like baseball or basketball. Tony Korheiser, the other host, did not object to Wilbon’s claims and I’m pretty sure that the show didn’t receive a hoard of angry e-mails from PTI watchers wondering why Wilbon and Korheiser think that baseball was created in the US. In this case, the baseball creation myth serves a purpose. Wilbon was using the myth as a justification for America’s lack of dedication to a sport that “doesn’t belong to us.” I searched on the web for a transcript from that day, but couldn’t find one. But here’s a link to a traveling Baseball As America exhibit that’s currently in my home state, Michigan. It’s at the Henry Ford Museaum in Dearborn. In a press release about the exhibit Douglas McDonald the president and CEO of the Cincinnati Museum Center at Union Terminal hailed Cincinnati as a perfect place for the exhibit. “As the birthplace of professional baseball, Cincinnati is the perfect city to host an important historical and cultural exhibit like Baseball As America.” Is Cincinnati the birthplace of professional baseball? I’m not sure, but another press release about the exhibit says it contains the baseball from the “mythic first game in 1839.” Was the first game in 1839? Check it out.

The “Pancaking” Phenomenon

In the “9/11 debunking the Myths” article, PM refutes many 9/11 conspiracy theories. At the top of the article PM explains that they consult experts to ‘debunk’ the 9/11 myths. One of the myths PM goes after is the “puffs of dust” theory, which basically states that “concrete clouds shooting out a building are not possible from a mere collapse.” PM found the analysis of the collapse in a book entitled Painful Questions: An Analysis of the September 11th Attack. Apparently, the book cites Van Ramero, an explosives expert and VP of the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology. PM explains that the expert, Ramero, believes the “puffs of dust” could only have come from explosive devices similar to those designed to take down an “old building”. Well, PM disputes these claims with their own expert, David Biggs, “a structural engineer at Ryan-Biggs Associates and a member of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) team that worked on the FEMA report.” Biggs explains that the collapsing was basically due to the “pancaking” phenomenon. As the levels of the building began to fall on top of each other they compressed debris and expelled it, which created the “puffs of dust.” My question is who to believe. Both analyses use experts? In debunking any type of myth how do you weigh in on the battle of the experts?

For those into weather like me

I decided to base my paper topic for this week on weather, specifically lightning, since I saw one of the most amazing lightning shows during last Friday's torrential rainstorm. If you are still thinking of a topic, HERE is a place to explore many myths surrounding stormy weather.

Side note: I personally found it hard to think of a topic for my last paper, I feel like we've covered every possible urban legend/myth that I've ever known in the last six weeks...but this link will help you if you are still stuck

Cabbage Patch dolls...survivors of nuclear war?

I rememember being little and wanting a Cabbage Patch doll so badly because all of my friends had multiple dolls. After I finally got one I realized they were not that exciting...until now... I found an article on Snopes that says there was an urban legend that claimed Cabbage Patch dolls were modeled after people who survived a nuclear war. They were meant to be unattractive to get people used to the idea, so that when the time came, the supposed mutants would not seem so ugly and the human race would survive and reproduce. Some legends blame the Reagan administration, while others blame the CIA. The site also goes into more detail and other Cabbage Patch legends.

(My hyperlink button isn't working, but I'll check back later. Sorry.)

Ciara, a hermaphrodite?

I have heard from many friends about Ciara having a sex change operation, or being a hermaphrodite. click on this link to read more on it, btw it's not true!

Tori's Amends

Over dinner tonight, I was listening to a friend's story concerning the death of TV producer Aaron Spelling (RIP). It was said that the day before Tori, who had a long time dispute with her father, had gone to him to make amends for their past troubles. According to eyewitnesses armed with digital cameras and phone cameras, they saw Tori Spelling out and about at the time when she allegedly said that she was with her father. I don't really know if this is true, but it sounds like something Entertainment Tonight would want to talk about. Has anyone else heard this story anywhere?

Rock Myths

A Top Ten list of rock myths can be found there. Most of them we talked about in class but there are a couple of new ones and some expanding on the others.

Buffet, Gates, Morgan, money leads to Urban legend status

So, I’m sure people heard about Warran Buffet’s 31 billion dollar contribution to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Apparently, Buffet said that he’s giving money to the foundation because he would not be as devoted in that endeavor as the Gateses have been. Which is probably true since Bill Gates recently announced that he would step down as the managing CEO of the company and dedicate himself to the running of his foundation.
This raises a couple of questions. First more and more of the worlds capital is controlled by fewer and fewer hands. The 2005 Human Development Report published by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) reported that the “richest 50 individuals in the world have a combined income greater than that of the poorest 416 million.” “The 2.5 million people living on less than 2 dollars a day, 40 percent of the world’s population, receive only 5 percent of global income, while 54% of global income goes to the riches 10% of the world’s population.”
Second, if fewer and fewer control the wealth, will that relieve governments from dealing with the poor of their country? Don’t get me wrong. The Gates Foundation has high aspirations. According to the NY Times Bill Gates said that they are putting money towards research into finding an AIDS vaccine as well as vaccines for other fatal diseases.
In many ways the Gates foundation can do a lot of good, but is it enough? For example, the foundation doesn’t tackle infrastructure issues, which can effect real change. The New York Times reports that they build model schools instead of putting money into failing public education. The foundation also does things like put money into looking for the aforementioned vaccines or providing resources to prevent illness in some situations, but they don’t try to tackle health cares systems. I’m not saying they should, but I think this marks a shift in the world as the wealth distribution gap gets wider and wider.
Bringing the topic back to the subject of urban legend and invented tradition, I think that we will remember these never before seen economic giants in big ways. I think that the same way that Carnegie and Rockefeller are remembered as sort of separate from who they might have been. In many ways, the widening distribution of wealth will mean that people like Bill Gates and Warren Buffet will become an even bigger part of our folklore than Carnegie and Rockefeller once were. According to the NY times Jean Strouse compiled an oral history project on the foundation has written a biography about another very wealthy American JP Morgan. How much in the official histories of these people will they be lifted to legend status? Here’s a link to an interview with Strouse. Read her first response, which details the way others had written about Morgan.

Snow White....

Has anybody ever heard the idea that the Seven Dwarfs from Snow White represent the "seven levels" of cocaine dependency?

"Many types of drug abuse (and physical or mental illnesses) can produce symptoms such as changes in sleep/wake patterns (Sleepy), mood swings (Happy, Grumpy), alteration of personality (Dopey, Bashful), and allergies (Sneezy) -- eventually necessitating a trip to the Doc."

On Snopes there's an article that discusses a rumor that Walt Disney was a cocaine addict, and that this movie was the proof. It points out that people like to make up morbid stories about children's culture (think about our child-star discussion and the rumors about the Blue's Clues guy....). It also mentions the films Fantasia and Alice in Wonderland, both of which have been criticized because when they were realeased, they "drew crowds of college students who found the films' melding of color, light, music, and imagery made them ideal psychedelic 'head' flicks." (quotations from Snopes). The truth is that Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs was based on a Grimm Brothers tale from a century earlier. But there are still lots of rumors about Disney's films. People take wholesome pop icons and make negative accusations against them (drugs, sexuality, life history...).

Manhattan Gators!

In another search for an interesting urban legend, I found one about full grown allegators in the sewer system of new York City. This urban legend states that a few decades ago, wealthy people used to buy (or steal) baby allegators from florida and bring them back so that thier kids can raise them. Well, obviously, the Gator would grow up, so as they did grow up and become a burden on the family they would be flushed down the toilet. Apparently, many poeple did this in the legend so there is a "colony" of allegators in the sewer sytems.

The legend seems factually plausible, but I definitely think that it is false just because it is kind of a stretch to think that Allegators could survive in our waste and by-products.

Rat Thought to be a Dog

As I scanned through some more urban legends, I came accross this one in which a family adopts a dog that was apparently a stray near the docks by thier house. When the Dog ate the family's cat, it was rushed to the Vet to have surgery (so that the cats bones dont cause internal injury to the dog) when the Vet told the family that it was a 40-pount Cambodian RAT that somehow came by boat!!

It boggles my mind how someone could mistake a rat for a dog, but it still could be possible that someone stupid enough would bring one home...

Could a 40-pound rat look like any small dogs?

GW Crime Statistics

The GW UPD Website posts crime statistics. Here is the link.

Seems like GW does not ever have hate crimes. At least not in the years reported.
Liquor law violations are a big number 393 in last year reported. There is probably a connection to the sex stuff.

Libby - I do not know what GW Deparment has sex statistics. Okay, kidding.

Katrina Quotes

Think what you will about the Katrina disaster, but there was enough inanity to go around. At one point, after reading stupid quote after stupid quote in a variety of places, I started to collect them. Okay, so I didn't get too far and I moved on to other things, but here is the list I started:

Neal Boortz, suggesting that a victim of Hurricane Katrina housed in an Atlanta hotel consider prostitution: "I dare say she could walk out of that hotel and walk 100 yards in either direction on Fulton Industrial Boulevard here in Atlanta and have a job. What's that? Well, no, no, no. ... Well, you know what? [laughing] Now that you mention it ... [i]f that's the only way she can take care of herself, it sure beats the hell out of sucking off the taxpayers." [Cox Radio Syndication's The Neal Boortz Show, 10/24/05]

"You simply get chills every time you see these poor individuals...many of these people, almost all of them that we see are so poor and they are so black, and this is going to raise lots of questions for people who are watching this story unfold." --CNN's Wolf Blitzer, on New Orleans' hurricane evacuees, Sept. 1, 2005 (Source)

"Brownie, you're doing a heck of a job." --President Bush, to FEMA director Michael Brown, while touring hurricane-ravaged Mississippi, Sept. 2, 2005 (Source) (Listen to audio clip)

"Now tell me the truth boys, is this kind of fun?" --House Majority Leader Tom Delay (R-TX), to three young hurricane evacuees from New Orleans at the Astrodome in Houston, Sept. 9, 2005 (Source)

George bush: "We've got a lot of rebuilding to do. First, we're going to save lives and stabilize the situation. And then we're going to help these communities rebuild. The good news is -- and it's hard for some to see it now -- that out of this chaos is going to come a fantastic Gulf Coast, like it was before. Out of the rubbles of Trent Lott's house -- he's lost his entire house -- there's going to be a fantastic house. And I'm looking forward to sitting on the porch." (Laughter) --touring hurricane damage, Mobile, Ala., Sept. 2, 2005

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Theme Park Urban Legends

While brainstorming for our last paper, I was trying to think of some legends regarding ammusment parks. The only one I can remember came from my childhood and from the redneck park "Silverdollar City" and its mine ride--"Fire in the Hole." My older brother and his girlfriend refused to go on it, because acording to him, his girlfriend, as a child, saw a man decapated on it. I tried to track this down on the internet but could not find anything to substantiate that this ever happened. I would imagine that I would be able to if it did happen. Also, it is hard to imagine how a decapitation of a single individual on such a ride would have occured. My brothers then girlfriend is now his wife so I will try to get the story as she remembers it from her.
Snopes has only one rollercoaster related story on its site--a girl who was scalped when her hair got stuck on the coasters machinery. It turns out that one is true. You can see more here.
I tend to assume many stories of this nature are fake but there are more fatalities at theme parks than I thought: look at this site.
Has anybody else encountered stories of disasters at theme parks?

Mutilated Cats a Trend?

There Is a rumor of this man who takes baby kittens and sells them in Japan. These are not cute, ordinary kittens though and you would be surprised how they do look! This man gives them a muscle relaxer and then lets them develop trapped inside a glass bottle. Eventually the kitten takes the shape of the bottle and then at full growth the bottle is broken to have your Own personally shaped kitten. Isn't that horrible...anyways here's the link:

Murder In the Dark

I was reading through the site "urban-legends-online" and came across one about a college girl who was murdered in the dark in her dorm room while her roomate was there. In the morning when they woke up there was the girls blood on the wall saying "aren't you glad you didnt turn the light on?"

I believe this was also used in a movie. (I think it was the urban legends movie...)
Well I highly doubt that this is a true story. I feel as if this was more of a creepy story that could have been told around campuses to either scare the hell out of students, or as a reminder to lock your doors (the murdered girl did not lock the door because the roomate was out partying and they had agreed not to lock it.)

Monday, June 26, 2006

Crazy timing...

Just as we are talking about conspiracy theories, I get invite to join this Facebook group called "The Truth." They asked that I watch this video. What do y'all think?

Sunday, June 25, 2006

PARADE’s Annual List Of...The World’s 10 Worst Dictators

Here is the link to parade magazines top ten.
All are special in their infamy, but my favorite is #8 from Turkminestan. His name is Saparmurat Atayevich Niyazov or you can just call hem "Turkmenbashi"
Niyazov is an authoritarian leader and is notorious in Western countries for the personality cult that he has established around himself in Turkmenistan. Claiming Turkmenistan to be a nation devoid of a national identity, he has attempted to rebuild the country to his own vision. He renamed the town of Krasnovodsk, on the Caspian Sea, Turkmenbashi after himself, in addition to renaming several schools, airports and even a meteorite after himself and his immediate family. Niyazov's face appears on all Manat banknotes and large portraits of the president hang all over the country, especially on major public buildings and avenues. Statues of himself and his mother are scattered all over Turkmenistan, including one in the middle of the Kara Kum desert as well as a gold-plated statue atop Ashgabat's largest building, the Neutrality Arch, that rotates so it will always face into the sun and shine light onto the capital city. Niyazov has commissioned a massive palace in Ashgabat commemorating his rule. He has been given the hero of Turkmenistan award five times. "I'm personally against seeing my pictures and statues in the streets - but it's what the people want," Niyazov has said.
The education system indoctrinates young Turkmen to love Niyazov, with his works and speeches making up most of their textbooks' content. The primary text is a national epic written by Niyazov, the Ruhnama or Book of the Soul. This book, a mixture of revisionist history and moral guidelines, is intended as the "spiritual guidance of the nation" and the basis of the nation's arts and literature. With Soviet-era textbooks banned without being replaced by new publications, libraries are left with little more than Niyazov's works. In 2004, the dictator ordered the closure of all rural libraries on the grounds that he thought that village Turkmen do not read. In Niyazov's home village of Kipchak, a complex has been built to the memory of his mother, including a mosque (est. at $100 million) conceived as a symbol of the rebirth of the Turkmen people. The walls of this edifice display precepts from the Ruhnama along with Qur'an suras.

Hot Lixx Hulahan Air Guitar Champion

In case you you missed it, Hot Lixx Hulahan was crowned U.S. champion air guitarist Friday. He will now represent the U.S. in World Air Guitar Championships in Finland on September 8th.
This article details how heavy the compition was.

Short clip frm the Minneapolis regionals on fox news here.

TV funhouse link

Earlier this week in class when we discussed Disney urban legends, I mentioned a cartoon skit on SNL. This skit features several of the topics that were brought up. Visit the link below and enjoy!

Friday, June 23, 2006

Revisiting the Exploding Mentos and Diet Coke Story

Tonight, I was flipping through the channels on TV and I saw a show that was demonstrating the mentos and diet coke explosion. I didn't know what the show was so I looked it up on TV Guide and was surprised to find out it was on NUMB3RS, which I have never seen before. Still, from what I've heard about the show I don't know what the mentos and diet coke volcano has to do with solving crimes. So it's pretty interesting that people are so fascinated by it that it ends up on fictional TV shows and not just the news.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Global Warming

I was looking around the internet to see what I could find as far as scientific opinion regarding global warming. I found this article interesting. It is written by a professor of Meteorology from MIT. His basic argument is that the scientific community is not unified in a belief that global warming is a fact. An interesting point he raised was that there are now so many special interest groups and individuals commited to fighting global warming that they depend on it for their livelyhood. He makes lots of other good arguments. Although it is a little long, I urge you to read it if you are interested in that sort of thing.

Good Halloween Stories

I wrote my paper this week about the origins of Halloween and I thought it would be fitting to provide my classmates with some fresh tales to tell when October gets around. So here are some good stories to pass around and evoke some chills. Have fun!

Good Halloween Stories

I wrote my paper this week about the origins of Halloween and I thought it would be fitting to provide my classmates with some fresh tales to tell when October gets around. So here are some good stories to pass around and evoke some chills. Have fun!

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Funny Story About the Pentagon

During high school I participated in a program called Presidential Classroom and we got to go on a special tour of the Pentagon. Our tour guide told us a funny story that happened during the Cold War. I don't remember all of the details but I remember the gist of the story. Apparently, some Russian officials went to visit the Pentagon and during the tour they kept asking to go to the courtyard at the building's center. Their guides complied and what the Russians saw was shocking. They had some surveillance of the Pentagon and noticed that a lot of people were going in an out of a tiny building in the courtyard. They assumed this was an important top secret building that led to an underground chamber, since it had such a high traffic volume. Well, imagine the Russians' surprise when they find out that the supposed top secret building was actually a hot dog stand that still exists today. I'm not sure if our tourguide was joking or not because after all he previously made some joke about the bells that were going off around us being a signal of a bomb threat. Not so funny. And he also told us that the elevators can take off people's arms. Anyway, I think the story about the hot dog stand is funny.

Nostradamus' Prophecies

On my way back from class, I remember hearing stories about the great prophet Nostradamus. He had visions of the future, unfortunately, when writing them down they were so ambiguous, it never determined a specific event. It is rumored and circulated that Nostradamus saw the attack on the World Trade Center. The following is a quatrain of his

"In the City of God there will be a great thunder,
Two brothers torn apart by Chaos, while the fortress endures, the great leader will succumb",
The third big war will begin when the big city is burning"
- Nostradamus 1654

It sounds believable right? I remember reading sections of a book talking about the world's end, well it turns out his prediction of August 2004 was wrong. This is where I start to doubt him. The only other end of the world prediction worth believing is the Mayans...but that's another story

The rest of of this article can be found here

He has connections

I was visiting a friend last night, and I was talking to a friend of hers. She commented on how she heard that every movie star in hollywood can be connected to Kevin Bacon in a connection of six people or less. She said it was because Kevin Bacon does so much work between theater and television.

Here is a example, (The only one i've been able to prove so far)

-->Julia Roberts worked with Richard Gere in "Pretty Woman" "Runaway Bride"
-->Richard Gere worked with Diane Keaton in "Looking for Mr. Goodbar"
-->Diane Keaton worked with Dermot Mulroney in "The Family Stone"
-->Dermot Mulroney worked with Debra Messing in "The Wedding Date"
-->Debra Messing worked with Kevin Bacon on "Will and Grace"

Has anyone else ever heard this, i'm still trying to recollect all my movie knowledge to fit this together

UPDATE: Prof. Larsen here. You can test your movie skills and the degrees of separation from the Bacon at the Oracle of Bacon. You'll find that is next to impossible to find a real actor or actress that doesn't have a Bacon number of 3 or less.

All hail the Bacon!

Scholars for 9/11 Truth? Sounds like a bunch of wackos...

In reading the assigned article "Professors of paranoia?" I have learned about a movenemt that I never would have even thought of existing. The Scholars for 9/11 Truth are a group of professors and scholars that all share the belief that the US government orchestrated the events of 9/11. The most prominently mentioned theory (created by Stephen Jones) says that thermite was used to detonate the towers after the planes crashed into them (because the planecrashes would not be enough to cause the towers to collapse), allowing them to collapse straight down rather than falling over. Pointing to a yellow liquid spraying out of one of the towers as evidence as a thermite reaction, Mr. Jones' theory has been adopted by a whole movement of followers as being the definitive explination of how the towers collapsed.

What I really wonder is why so many people would be interested in this subject and bring up theories that would: 1) Implicate thousands of government/military employees in a huge murder, and 2) Cause even more pain and suffering for family members of people lost in the towers. Looking more deeply at the motives of the Scholars for 9/11 Truth (based on information provided in the article about their convention), it is clear that there is a shared animosity toward the Bush administration and the government in general. By putting forth conspiricy theories that would implicate the US government in one of the larger tragedies in our history, it can be safe to asssume that these Truth Scholars are trying to generate a mistrust of government that could be used (in extreme cases as brought up by former philosophy professor James Fetzer) to start an uprising against these corrupt parties.

For me, it is hard to look at this group and their unending pursuit of exposing a government conspiracy in a serious light. The shared interest in the conspiracy surrounding JFK's death, along with the involvement of themes from The Matrix have led me to see this group as a bunch of crazy people. I think that the theories put forth by Mr. Jones are scientifically sound but are open to question (as explored by the MIT scientist) and that 9/11 will likely end up as the next big "conspiracy" talked about for years but never resolved.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

It may seem like a GW urban legend, but it's not

Last year, just a few sweet months ago, I resided in JBKO. One of my best friends was a CH (community host for those of you not in the know) and while on duty witnessed a bizarre event, that sounds like an urban legend but isn't.

During the Spring semester a fellow resident ordered pizza from Philadelphia Pizza Company. It finally arrives and as the delivery man opens the insulated box to give the student his order, something jumped out--a large rat. The delivery man ran away as the rat scattered into the mail room. The student who received the delivery food immediately called the restaurant. Philadelphia Pizza Company claimed that they had the cleanest restaurant in DC and could not have a rat in their any of their bags and promptly hung up. Miraculously, a UPD officer was coming down the lobby stairs of JBKO after finishing his rounds and heard the commotion. He took the "wet floor" sign from the ground and attacked the rat, spraying the mailroom and its mail boxes with its blood and guts. The student then called the Health Department to report the company and went up to his room, without an appetite.

My friend, the CH conversed with the UPD officer as they waited for Animal Control to come and pick up the rat. I arrived several minutes after the mess had been resolved and cleaned up and heard the entire sordid story from both my friend and the officer.

If you want to read more about it, the student who ordered the food that night was a writer for The Hatchet and the story, though it was published in the April Fools Edition several days after the incident occurred, it is actually true.

If I don't get my burger I'm calling 911

Supposedly there is a real audio tape of this 911 call, but I couldn't open it.

Very funny drive-up window humor here.

GW urban legends for freshmen

Seeing as a brand new class of stupid naive freshmen will soon be gracing the streets of DC, I though I would reminisce about some of the stories that I was told (and believed) when I myself was a lowly freshman. I remember someone, I think a girl on my crew team, told me to never throw out my receipts that corresponded with a GWorld purchase, or at least not in front of any upperclassmen. The reason for this was that upperclassmen were notorious, apparently, for stealing freshmen receipts and using them to somehow tap into the precious Gworld dollars. I was terrified of this and was convinced every upperclassman who looked at me was secretly plotting to steal all my Gworld money and I would brutally starve to death. I horded every single one of my Gworld receipts for a good month or so. But seeing how there is no way to steal money from a Gworld using receipts, I think my extra precautions were unnecessary and perhaps just a bit paranoid. Did anyone else have a story told to them as a freshman, to scare them into or out of doing something?

Monday, June 19, 2006

So naive

Lovely quote from an author on children's books:
"Story is the vehicle we use to make sense of our lives in a world that often defies logic."~Jim Trelease

I know you all think I am crazy but...

I have not really had any time to look up sites on the fact that Star Wars is about the Cold War (hence the star wars, or the space wars between Russia and the United States in the late 70's and early 80's) Here is the first article i found, and will look for others later on:

Star Wars and Our Wars

by Mark Thornton

[Posted on Tuesday, April 30, 2002]
[Subscribe at email services and tell others]

As we await the release of George Lucas's second Star Wars prequel, The Attack of the Clones, speculation builds on whether Lucas can return to the glory of the original Star Wars trilogy.

While critics attacked Lucas for his leading-boy character, his young-girl queen, and his politically incorrect characters (Jar Jar Binks and the admiral with the Japanese accent), others such as myself celebrated Lucas's brilliant use of modern history (the experience of the British and American empires) to create an age-old saga in such an unfamiliar setting with characters and events that are familiar to us.

Those who understand that it is not just fiction, but a real human story, easily forgive Lucas for his young, undeveloped characters--they had to be young for the story to make sense. Those who don't understand the message believe that Hollywood should make everything up as it goes along to ensure that all traditional expectations about movies are met. That's why Lucas has had to shun Hollywood and make Star Wars with his own money.

The first prequel was based on British colonialism and the problem of mercantilism (the theory that nations benefits by protecting their producers from outside competition). Here the increasingly evil Republic uses its powers to tax trade routes, blockade, and invade in order to assert power and enforce mercantile economic policies on its subjects in Naboo.

The Viceroy is the old title for British colonial rulers. Queen Amidala rules over a society based on British India, and Jar Jar Binks comes from the water people on the other side of the planet, who are obviously suppose to represent the island people of British Jamaica. In the 19th century, both of these peoples were slaughtered by British Viceroys.

Thus can we see that Lucas is taking bits and pieces of our own historical experience to retell a battle between good and evil that also touches on themes in political economy, particularly the choice between self-determination (essential to freedom) and imperialism (linked to war and state expansion).

In Attack of the Clones, due to hit theaters May 16, the Republic officially becomes the evil empire and sends an army of clones to destroy a group of separatists (secessionists) that want no part of this evil democratic empire. The main substantive point is that the Republic has willingly become an evil empire; it was not destroyed or conquered but simply gave in to evil despite its tradition and system of government.

What are the real-life analogies? Most directly, it presents the transition of world dominance from Britain to America and the transition in America from the glorious Republic to a democratic empire. Both of these transitions actually began during the American Civil War. The separatists/secessionists represent the Confederate South that wanted to maintain original Republican ideals (not slavery!).

The evil democracy is based on the Lincoln administration that sent an army of immigrants to crush the attempted separation. Lucas has Palpetine dub his invasion force the "Grand Army of the Republic," just as Lincoln did. What could be clearer? I suspect the clones will exhibit the habits of Lincoln's lawless generals, like Sherman, who killed and destroyed everything in their paths.

If my interpretation is correct, the neoconservatives, the establishment Republicans, and the gang at National Review are not going to like this movie. (Another option is to attempt a tortuous spin on the movie’s otherwise clear message.)

The original Star Wars trilogy planted within all of us the seed-notion that the "good" will always--eventually--triumph over evil. It’s not just a notion for philosophers and idealists; it’s something that everyone can believe because it is part of our nature.

To be sure, matters will get worse in the third prequel. Perhaps we will be treated to some fascism, nationalism, New Dealism, Nazism, and communism. Lucas might even focus on Galactic War I, Galactic War II, and the Cold Galactic War. We might get some genocide, McCarthyism, and segregation, but things undoubtedly will get worse as the evil empire moves from democratic empire to outright dictatorship.

People will no doubt eventually recognize that Lucas is writing a reflection of Western civilization, a reflection of our own experience. America is called the "world's superpower" by the media and many Americans, but in most other languages we are often referred to as an evil empire that imposes our will and policies by force of arms, propping up dictators, undermining harmless regimes for the benefit of big business, and stationing troops in lands against the will of the people who live there. The transition from a humble bastion of freedom to a global crusader state occurred, not through conquest or revolution, but within the form of constitutional government.

Neoconservatives such as Dinesh DiSouza and William Bennett will openly admit that America has indeed become an empire in every sense of the word, but they will say that it is perfectly fine, because we are moral and always try to do the right thing and help other people. Such is the claim made by every empire in history, without exception.

Someday we will recognize that there is no such thing as a good empire, because empires necessarily crush the right of self-determination, which Mises defines as follows:

whenever the inhabitants of a particular territory, whether it be a single village, a whole district, or a series of adjacent districts, make it known, by a freely conducted plebiscite, that they no longer wish to remain united to the state to which they belong at the time, but wish either to form an independent state or to attach themselves to some other state, their wishes are to be respected and complied with. This is the only feasible and effective way of preventing revolutions and civil and international wars.

Lucas might add that this is also the means of preventing galactic war. It is a message that needs to be heard, and persistently applied, in our time.

May the force--not consolidated government--be with you.

GW Urban Legends: BUT IS IT ART?

GW Urban Legends: BUT IS IT ART?

The Museum of Bad Art
The pieces in the MOBA collection range from the work of talented artists that have gone awry to works of exuberant, although crude, execution by artists barely in control of the brush. What they all have in common is a special quality that sets them apart in one way or another from the merely incompetent.

1982 Tylenol Deaths

In 1982 several Tylenol bottles issued in Chicago were tampered with cyanide poiosoning. Seven people died as a result. For this reason, the FDA forced pharmaceutical companies to recognize the safety benefits of induction sealing for producing a tamper-evident seal. I was watching I LOVE the 80's (1982) over the weekend and the commentators talked about this incident. I had always heard of people tampering with tylenol bottles, but I always thought that it was a myth or urban legend. Apparently the story was true and shortly thereafter copycats emerged. Also, it is extremely hard for us nowadays to wrap our minds around the idea that before 1982 there were no safety seals on most household products and medicines! Can you imagine buying a bottle of aspirin without the plastic and cotton ball?! Here is the story.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

What's Really in the McFlurries?

My roommate's father recently bought a new office in London. This office, according to her father, was where McDonald's created its non-dairy foam base for all of the McFlurries sold in England. Though I thought that McFlurries always tasted quite odd and well, tasteless, I had never before heard that they were created out of a non-dairy foam. I decided to research this further to find out if the McFlurries are really frozen foam, or if my roomie's father simply lied to me.

According to Wikipedia and McDonald's website, the base of the McFlurry is soft-serve ice cream. The soft serve is dispensed into cups and then followed by the candy toppings chosen by the customer (e.g. M&Ms, Oreos). A spoon with a hole at the top of its handle is placed into the cup and attached to a machine to fully mix the product. The final result is a blended ice cream dessert which is fluffy in texture.

Why then, did Mr. Wood (my roommate's father) say that his building was where McDonald's once created the foam base of McFlurries? I checked, and McDonald's in England are made just like the ones in America, so they too are made of soft serve ice cream. Could he have misunderstood what was really once created there and told us that it was foam, or did he create this lie out of hatred for the fast food chain?

Yesterday was my best friends 21st birthday. She threw a big party at her beach house and of course she got realllllllly drunk. When it got dark a bunch of us ended up in the bathroom in front of the mirror. One of my friends started chanting "Bloody Mary" repeatedly while looking into the mirror. She swore that a women would appear if we all chanted her name 13 times. She never appeared. The whole experience took me back to elementary school acting silly in the bathroom during recess. I looked this urban legend up on-line and I was amzed at how many versons of this story are told. Take a look!

NOAH!!!! We forgot the dinosaurs!

Okay so in my Contemporary Sociology class we somehow began discussing religion. We were talking about how large corporations and intituions in society determine what is accepted as fact. So, we began to debate over whether evolution should be taught in schools or not. Well, one girl said that she was an Evangelical Christian and she seriously believed that dinosaurs became extinct because Noah did not bring them on the Ark during the flood!!!!!!!! The girl who told this story believed it to be fact! It had to be because she learned it in church. Was anyone else taught this in school or church?

Friday, June 16, 2006

Origin of Graduation Traditions

I know many of us have friends or family that have just graduated so I was interested in finding out about the origin of the cap and gown. I found this article that explains that the cap was an ancient Celtic tradition. Only priests wore the "hoods" and they were a sign of superiority and intelligence.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

A No-Hitter on Acid!

In keeping with our baseball theme, I remember some friends of mine once telling me that a Pirates pitcher in the 1970's pitched a no-hitter while on LSD. I didn't believe it at the time, but while browsing snopes, I found the story, and it turns out it is true (although I am not entirely convinced). In 1970, Pirates pitcher Dock Ellis, pitched a no-hitter (although he walked eight and hit a man), and he admitted years later that he was under the influence of LSD at the time. The story goes that on his off days he would do drugs (pot, amphetamines, acid). He woke up at around noon on one such day and immediately took a hit of acid. His girlfriend at the time, Mitzi, was looking through the news-paper and noticed something. "Dock," she said. "You are supposed to pitch today." Ellis told her that it couldn't be true--he wasn't supposed to pitch until Friday. To which Mitzi responded, "Baby, it is Friday, you slept through Thursday."

As Dock remembers the day:
"The ball was small sometimes, the ball was large sometimes, sometimes I saw the catcher, sometimes I didn't. Sometimes I tried to stare the hitter down and throw while I was looking at him. I chewed my gum until it turned to powder. They say I had about three to four fielding chances. I remember diving out of the way of a ball I thought was a line drive. I jumped, but the ball wasn't hit hard and never reached me."

If you want to explore anymore on this you can see this site, snopes, or his career stats.


Apparently some folks can't quite tell the difference between what is intended as art and what is intended to hold up said art.

Somebody please tell me what this is

I never really watch TV but I recently saw an ad that made me laugh really hard and ask "What the hell??!" at the same time. It's this little dude they call the Crazy Frog. I'm sure everybody has seen some of the clips... I think it's hilarious for some reason! So I went to go find out more about it, and there's actually an extensive article on Wikipedia about him. Apparently that incessant noise he makes is supposed to sound like a moped. Pretty cool. I can see where that damn frog would get annoying, though... what do y'all think?

Negative Calories

Ok, I'll be up front. I'm on a diet right now. So are several of the people I work with and this week we began discussing the validity of such claims as "negative calories." I decided to look a little further and found that no one can agree on one set of facts or evidence. There are many websites (mostly diet promotion sites) that fervently stick to and elaborate on the various foods that you can eat and actually LOSE weight. However there are a number of sites that are as vigorously adamant about disproving this assertion. Here are two examples:

Negative calories are true

They're trying to destroy my dream

although I did actually have a lot more trouble finding websites to disprove this theory, does that say more about the veracity of this claim or the focus of our society?

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

The end of the world

Between last week's 666 discussion and now, i've wondered why we focus so much on the end of the world. I just watched a segment of the Sci-Fi presentation, Doomsday: 10 Ways the World Can End. Many hypothesize that the end of the world could be due to nuclear weapons, gamma rays, viral epidemics. It makes me wonder, why are we so focused on how the world might end? To me it's just a little pessimistic, and are there really people out there who want to view why maybe (and when I say maybe, there is a huge emphasis on it, since much of the hypotheses' discuss a minute chance of the doomsday event occuring) the world might end.

Here is a link to the show's premise

I know it's been a common trend in movies such as Armageddon and The Day After Tomorrow, but Sci-Fi goes beyond Hollywood entertainment to give a more credible source of information about possible world destruction factors.

Did anybody else tune into this?

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Is Spontaneous Human Combustion Real?

I'm doing my paper on spontaneous human combustion (SHC) and as of yet I am not sure if it is real or not. One of the possible causes of SHC is static electricity. I was able to find an amazing article of a man who actually melted plastic and burned holes into a carpet because the static electricity in his synthetic windbreaker created about 30,000 volts of static electricity. I'd post the link but my weblink button has chosen not to appear. Still, if you are interested just Google "Frank Clewer" and you can find a number of articles from fairly reliable sources.


I saw the two news reels about the "leprechaun" that was seen in Mobile (more specifically, chretin, Alabama) a little less that a year ago. Since the very first time I saw it, I laughed hysterically for a good while. It is obvious that this sad occasion was either of two things:

1) A poor neighborhood's cry for attention, or just a reason to be on TV. One person started a rumor that there was a leprechaun in the tree; the word goes out and the news station eventually shows up because the story has caused so much commotion. After the newscast is there, more people show up just to have their 5 minutes of fame.


2) The originators and the people who later state that they saw the leprechaun were just being superstitious and ignorant.

-In Either case, the story is false. Both news clips showed multiple shots of the tree limb in which the leprechaun was allegedly hiding on. There was nothing but Moss in each and Every shot of it.


Today we were talking about censuses, and the ways we arbitrarily divide populations. One of the most prominent (and seemingly obvious) ways to differentiate "them" from "us" is by race. But what is "race"? Is that a biologically determined characteristic? Or is race just another one of our boundary lines (like religion, geography, occupation...)? gives several definittions for the word, but still leaves it open-ended:

1- A local geographic or global human population distinguished as a more or less distinct group by genetically transmitted physical characteristics.
2- A group of people united or classified together on the basis of common history, nationality, or geographic distribution: the German race.
3- A genealogical line; a lineage.
4- Humans considered as a group.

The website also notes that race is difficult to grapple both scientifically and socially. In the past, races were defined by skin color, bodily proportions, skull shape and hair type. Today, there are measurements like blood type and genes that have upset most of the older partitions. But still, a person who is considered "black" in one society might not be viewed the same in another. The truth is that all humans vary by only 0.2 percent of their genes.

This site on the biology of races stated the following:
"Race is a concept of society that insists there is a genetic significance behind human variations in skin color that transcends out ward appearance. However, race has no scientific merit outside of sociological classification. There are no significant genetic variations within the human species to justify the division of 'races.' "

Even though people still use the term today, it seems like race is just another outdated, arbitrary category that people invented to homogenize and document groups of people.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Ah, chivalry...

I was on a date this weekend and something happened that reminded me of our class (congratulations, Kirk-- you've made it into my social life!!). I was with this sweet southern fella and I noticed something that made me smile: every time we walked on the sidewalk, he would move to the side of me that was toward the road, so I was walking inside, away from traffic. He did this several times and I finally asked, "Are you doing that on purpose?" He said yes, and I asked him where he learned that little trick. He said his dad taught him to always keep the lady on the inside, away from danger and that men needed to bring back chivalry. I simled. Cute.

The term "chivalry" comes from the French word, "chevalier," meaning horseman or knight. It refers to a social system involving kingdoms, lords, knights and ladies, and lots of horses. The medieval era was not all too glamorous-- the people all probably smelled as bad as the horses did and there were obviously none of the modern conveniences we have today (electricity, plumbing, deodorant....). And this man wants to bring back chivalry?!
Of course, I knew what he meant. These days, chivalry is courtesy towards a woman: honoring and defending her, and treating her like a queen. Through the years, literature has come to romanticize this idea of courtly love from medieval times. I don't know any particulars on how TRUE medieval courtship worked, but I can guess there wasn't much street traffic to shield the women from.
Don't get me wrong, though... I'm not a cold-hearted girl. He definitely got brownie points for the gesture. I appreciated his thoughtfulness. Fellas, you should give it a try next time you're walking with your lady and see if she notices.
"Chivalry" in the LITERAL sense may be gone, but perhaps we can bring back the LITERARY (highy romanticized) ideals.

Polar bears may be turning to cannibalism

Since my browser does not allow me to do hyperlinks here is a story from the AP wire that just came across today:

Polar bears may be turning to cannibalism
By DAN JOLING, Associated Press Writer 37 minutes ago
ANCHORAGE, Alaska - Polar bears in the southern Beaufort Sea may be turning to cannibalism because longer seasons without ice keep them from getting to their natural food, a new study by American and Canadian scientists has found.

The study reviewed three examples of polar bears preying on each other from January to April 2004 north of Alaska and western Canada, including the first-ever reported killing of a female in a den shortly after it gave birth.

Polar bears feed primarily on ringed seals and use sea ice for feeding, mating and giving birth.

Polar bears kill each other for population regulation, dominance, and reproductive advantage, the study said. Killing for food seems to be less common, said the study's principal author, Steven Amstrup of the U.S. Geological Survey Alaska Science Center.

"During 24 years of research on polar bears in the southern Beaufort Sea region of northern Alaska and 34 years in northwestern Canada, we have not seen other incidents of polar bears stalking, killing, and eating other polar bears," the scientists said.

Environmentalists contend shrinking polar ice due to global warming may lead to the disappearance of polar bears before the end of the century.

The Center for Biological Diversity of Joshua Tree, Calif., in February 2005 petitioned the federal government to list polar bears as threatened under the federal Endangered Species Act.

Cannibalism demonstrates the effect on bears, said Kassie Siegal, lead author of the petition.

"It's very important new information," she said. "It shows in a really graphic way how severe the problem of global warming is for polar bears."

Deborah Williams of Alaska Conservation Solutions, a group aimed at pursuing solutions for climate change, said the study represents the "bloody fingerprints" of global warming.

"This is not a Coca-Cola commercial," she said, referring to animated polar bears used in advertising for the soft drink giant. "This represents the brutal downside of global warming."

The predation study was published in an online version of the journal Polar Biology on April 27. Amstrup said print publication will follow.

Researchers in spring 2004 found more bears in the eastern portion of the Alaska Beaufort Sea to be in poorer condition than bears in areas to the west and north.

Researchers discovered the first kill in January 2004. A male bear had pounced on a den, killed a female and dragged it 245 feet away, where it ate part of the carcass. Females are about half the size of males.

"In the face of the den's outer wall were deep impressions of where the predatory bear had pounded its forepaws to collapse the den roof, just as polar bears collapse the snow over ringed seal lairs," the paper said.

"From the tracks, it appeared that the predatory bear broke through the roof of the den, held the female in place while inflicting multiple bites to the head and neck. When the den collapsed, two cubs were buried, and suffocated, in the snow rubble."

In April 2004, while following bear footprints on sea ice near Herschel Island, Yukon Territory, scientists discovered the partially eaten carcass of an adult female. Footprints indicated it had been with a cub.

The male did not follow the cub, indicating it had killed for food instead of breeding.

A few days later, Canadian researchers found the remains of a yearling that had been stalked and killed by a predatory bear, the scientists said.


Is this a hoax? A hoax about a hoax? In today's fast-paced world of information, ideas, and images circulating around the world at the speed of light, I suppose anything is possible. Watch and decide for yourself (and thank Libby for finding this)

Gould's use of "evolution"

Although I agree content wise with Gould's assertions from our reading on the Cooperstown myth, I do not believe his continual use of "evolution" to describe the invention of baseball is accurate. Darwin's Theory of Evolution, as I understand it (very basically), is that species adapt to their surroundings and change over time. Do societies, and the traditions they create, behave in this same way? Personally, I do not think so. Many social scientists, anthropologists, historians, and other scholars the past century or so have tried to apply the natural laws of evolution to society in order to better understand how mankind changes over time. They try to make it into a hard science, which it is not. They make a systemization of how societies behave. I believe that traditions come out of individuals and their actions, within their specific historic and cultural contexts, not larger social evolutionary mechanismsm which ignore individuals. My anthropology Professor last semester said that she believes that Darwin had a detrimental effect on anthropology, because all the scholars were trying to apply evolutionary laws to societies, which couldn't be done. Evolution is a wonderful thing in the study of biology, not so good for the study human society.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Mentos...the Death Maker!

I was watching VH1's Web 20 show and there was a web clip of a British woman demonstrating that drinking soda then eating Mentos candy would make your stomach explode. On the clip the woman drank and entire 2-liter Pepsi and then ate an entire packet of Mentos. She jumped up and down and then her entire body exploded!! Her limbs were scattered all over the ground. Obviously this was a hoax, but it reminded me of the PopRocks urban legend and the the illeged death of Life ceral's famous little boy Mikey. Has anyone else heard of this myth? Maybe it is simply a derivitive of the PopRocks tale for the British.

UPDATE: Prof. Larsen here. I think we can easily dismiss the notion that eating mentos and soda together will lead to death or dismemberment. It does, indeed, sound like an interesting variation of the old coke and pop rocks stories.

However, this doesn't mean that one can't have some fun experimenting with mentos and two liter bottles of soda. See here, here, and here for examples (and even here for a lame attempt to conduct the experiment inside one's mouth).

Inspired by the ingenuity and idiocy we viewed on the internet, my kids and I spent some time this weekend trying to recreate some of the experiments (pics below). Whatever the results, it gave us something of an interesting reputation among the kids in the neighborhood.

Beer before liquor never been sicker, liquor before beer, never fear

I want to ask people what they think about this. I beleive this may be a myth. I believe that is comes down to how much you consume. Though from experience i do not suggest you have a lot of beer and then down a bottle of Jack, but i do think this muth has seeped into our college culture as being fact without any proof. There have been times i have had a beer or two and then switched to hard alcohol. Any thoughts? Maybe some people want to try this out for happy hour?

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Is Swimming Directly After Eating A Recipe For Drowning?

Recently, my friends and I went to a nearby beach to swim and relax. We planned to stay for a majority of the day and packed a picnic lunch. Directly after eating lunch, my friend Steph wanted to go back into the body of water to swim but was stopped by all of us when we cried that she would get a stomach cramp and possibly drown. The reason why we said this was because our mothers had always told us the same thing after we tried to get back into the pool or ocean after eating and told us that we needed to wait at least an hour until we could swim.

The downing after eating story is in fact only an old wive's tale. Eating and then swimming (or any exercise) will not cause one's stomach to cramp, least of all in a violent enough manner to result in drowning. Why then, has this myth been created and perpetuated? I believe it may have been created by a mother who wanted to relax and to not have to rush back to the pool or beach, and therefore told her children that they needed to wait at least an hour for their food to digest before they could go back in. Other mothers may have heard this myth and perpetuated it, not wanting their children to die.

Is Swallowing Gum As Bad As Everyone Says?

As I child, I swallowed gum several times either because I was too lazy to throw it away, or because I had to quickly dispose of the evidence during school. My mother and friends would tell me that the gum that I had swallowed would remain in my stomach for months, if not years, before it would fully pass through my system.

Though it is true that gum is difficult to break down within the digestive system (in fact, it does not break down at all), it does not effect the ability or speed of the gum to excrete from the body. Why did this myth about gum come to be? A theory posited by states that because one can chew gum for hours without it becoming any smaller and has no nutritional value, people invented a reason to explain why they must dispose of gum after the flavor dies.

Have you ever heard of this urban legend? If so, why do you think that it was invented?'/chewgum.asp

Census, Museum and What? A question about the Anderson Reading

Alright, so the reading we had for Monday was sort of tough to digest, for me anyway. I understand that Anderson's main points are first that communities/nation building is imagined. So I suppose he takes the modernist view of national identity construction. Secondly, perhaps the main point, the census, the map, and the museum were institutions that helped construct ideas of nationhood in colonized Southeast Asia and uncolonized Siam.
Well, I understand the points Anderson makes in regards to the census and museums. In the case of the census. Anderson explains that European colonizers in the Malaysian kingdom had a need to find a system that quantified the people systematically. There was no room for people that didn’t fall into a specified group. Dutch efforts to hyper- classify often left people out and blurred the line between religion and ethnicity. Anderson points to the example of Islam in the Federated states of colonial Malaya. He says that “Islamic” and “Malay” in the classification system were treated as synonyms and used interchangeably. OK, I buy this point. Ethic classifications even today are basically imagined because they aren’t precise or continuous. So I understand that colonial ethnic classifications in the census would shape the way a nation developed its sense of identity.
The last institution Anderson examines in the Museum. I buy this point also. Anderson’s argument that museums in SE Asia shaped nation hood seems fairly air tight. The Dutch East Indies example is a powerful one. The monuments built to the pre-colonial Burmese reflected a schism between modern Burmese natives and the Burmese before the Europeans. The monument, according to Anderson, suggests that modern day Burmese have no ancestral connection to the achievements of pre-colonial generations and are therefore incapable of recreating equal to or more impressive culture. Anderson also discusses other European features the European colonizers brought to the construction of South East Asian culture like the “reproducibility” of cultural items. To me, this is also, a valid and convincing argument.
Imagined Maps is where I start having problems understanding what Anderson is saying. It seems that Anderson is basically arguing that Siam lacked “totalizing” maps, or maps that demonstrated boundaries. Instead, they used [cosmographs], which lacked horizontal dimensions. These cosmographs reflected celestial and “subterrestrial hells” rather than land and water boundaries. It was not until the 1870’s that the Thai were introduced to viewing maps in terms of boundaries. Anderson goes on to quote Thongchai who says that “A map merely represents something which already exists objectively ‘there’” (249). If the map becomes a model for what it should represent, as Thonchai says, then aren’t the cosmographs more reflective of “political-biographical narrative[s]” (250) than these contemporary boundary confined maps?
I have one final question, not really related to this point, just a clarification question. On pg. 246, in the second paragraph near the bottom of the page, Anderson says “Guided by its imagined map it organized the new educational, juridical, public-health, police, and immigration bureaucracies it was building on the principle of ethno-racial hierarchies which were, how ever, always understood in terms of parallel series” (246). What does Anderson mean by "parallel series" here?

Dumb Blondes

Three women are about to be executed. One's a brunette, one's a redhead, and one's a blonde. The guard brings the brunette forward and the executioner asks if she has any last requests. She says no, and the executioner shouts, "Ready! Aim…"
Suddenly the brunette yells, "EARTHQUAKE!!!"
Everyone is startled and throws themselves on the ground while she escapes.
The guard brings the redhead forward and the executioner asks if she has any last requests. She say no, and the executioner shouts, "Ready! Aim…"
Suddenly the redhead yells, "TORNADO!!!"
Everyone is startled and looks around for cover while she escapes.
By now the blonde has it all figured out. The guard brings her forward and the executioner asks if she has any last requests. She says no, and the executioner shouts, "Ready! Aim…"
And the blonde yells, "FIRE!!!"

Hahaha..... everybody has heard blonde jokes before. There are entire websites devoted to them. But why?! Why is there the stereotype that blondes are incredibly stupid? You see it all the time in movies-- there's that ditsy, bubbly, blonde college girl doing something ridiculous (think Clueless...). And then there are these mountains of jokes about the adventures of dumb blondes. Many of them are sexual, and suggest that blondes are a little more "loose" when it comes to sex. Others put blondes in fairly simple situations only to have them do something incredibly stupid. But why wasn't it brunettes? Or Mexicans? Or black people? Or Indians? ...I think that making racial jokes has become so taboo that the only thing we had left was blondes (and note, they are always female blondes...). If you replaced hair color with race in the above joke, you'd probably offend some people. But blonde jokes seem pretty harmless. It still doesnt answer my question, though....

Q: Why are there no dumb brunettes?
A: Peroxide.

oooooooh! :D

How much water should we drink?

I was leaving the gym and thinking about water consumption. On my way out, I thought about the amount of water that I drank during my workout. It was about a 1/2 liter and then during the day I'd had maybe 6 glasses. Even if you're not thirsty, do you have to consume 8 glasses of water a day? And how much water is 8 glasses? When I went searching for an answer it was difficult to find one. A CNN website says the question is simple, but there isn't an easy answer. Some nutritionists say you should drink 8 glasses, but how many ounces is that? Others say that you should drink half your body weight in kilograms. There are even some nutritionists that say that you should only drink when you're thirsty.
The interesting thing about the water question is that the health arena has been for a long time, and in my estimation, still is a realm of urban legends. Health care essentially revolves around revisited and revised urban legends. Take the case of leaching and bloodletting (see a link to a history of bloodletting below). Bloodletting was used as a treatment for fevers and other things you can read about, but the point is that it was basically an urban legend about health in its day, but not entirely without its uses. Today leaches are still legitimately used for some treatments, but because of scientific advancements we can know what they are precisely capable of doing for our health. How will we look at water intake in 20 or 30 years? Will the traditional vague advisement of 8 glasses be outdated very soon? What do people think about the debated water question? CNN has a site that reviews some of the factors you should consider when calculating water intake. Take a look. Water intake , Bloodletting

Friday, June 09, 2006

Man in Scuba gear found dead in middle of forest fire

I always heard this story as a riddle. How could this man completely dressed in wet suit, flippers, and the rest of his gear have a) gotten into the middle of this forest fire site and b) why was he dead? read this to find out.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Honor Guards at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

Hey, I found this site onSnopes about the Honor Guards and thought it was interesting, especially since we live in DC.

Hex Signs

In class today, one of you asked what hex signs look like and I realize my explanation probably wasn't that good (not to mention my great drawing skills). So if you are interested there are some pictures here.

Cannibalism Cartoons

My first encounter with the topic of cannibalism was through Saturday morning cartoons. It seemed whenever my favorite characters, such as Bugs Bunny or Porky Pig, strayed too far from home they were threatened to be put in a big ol’ stewpot. “Too far from home” seemed to be defined as anywhere that was not in the Western Hemisphere or Europe. If they ended up in Africa or some Polynesian island, they were likely to meet up with a human predator wearing a bone through their nose. Never mind that Bugs and Porky technically were animals, it was clear that their predators would have been just as glad to eat them if they were human. It seemed that in the cartoon world cannibalism was common in these remote places.

Check out this link to some funny newspaper style cartoon from a company called cartoonstock. com.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006


This story was too good to pass up:
Paul Porter, a World War II buff from Manchester, N.H., says he has always equated his birthday, June 6, with D-Day. But this year was different. Mr. Porter, who is 6-foot-6, turned 66 yesterday — 6/6/06
Since Mr. Porter didn't spontaneously combust, fall down a flight of stairs, or otherwise perish in a freak accident yesterday, I think we can all breathe a little easier :-)

Tuesday, June 06, 2006


This is not really directly related to our class but today's lecture and discussion about WWII posters made me wonder about WWII casualty breakdowns, specifically for civilians. If you are interested, a pretty good breakdown is here. One suprising thing about it is that 50% of the deaths were allied civilians--but most of that is probably a combination of the holocaust and other European countries taken by Germany (not to mention China and Indo-Asia are counted as an ally, see next). I was also suprised that around 10 million Chinese were killed, including 7 million civilians--I had heard of Nanking and other atrocities but never knew the amount of it. Indonesia had 4 mil civilians too.

Mothers to be and 666

In looking through some articles surrounding today, I found one especially interesting surrounding mothers and their not wanting to have a child on this day out of fear/superstition that their child may be "the beast." Enjoy

If you look at the comments various people wrote, it's interesting to hear some of their intepretations too on the subject, one calls this date lucky...

the Thirteenth floor

You guys really blew my mind in class today when you mentioned that some buildings (in New York City?!?!) don't label their 13th floor. That is proposterous to me!! I'm from a small town, so we don't have any tall buildings. And when I go to the city, I don't really think about the order of the floors in buildings. The number thirteen is said to be unlucky, yes, but for a civilized, educated society to intentionally leave out the number 13 in their buildings because of some superstition is unbeleivable!! So I had to check for myself. I called my brother Joe who lives in a tall building in NYC and I asked him if anybody lived on the 13th floor. His words: "It's funny you should ask... my bulding has a thirteenth floor, but we recently noticed that Tara's [his girlfriend] building doesn'ty have a 13 button in the elevator." I couldn't beleive it!!! Yes, there's a thirteent floor, but it's labeled as the 14th. They skipped right over "unlucky 13." It's still crazy to me!!!


A quick follow-up to our discussion of the inauspicious nature of today's date: here's how some self-described Satanists are celebrating today.

Urban Legends with the intent to expose evil

I know that I probably come off as argumentative in class, its just because I enjoy what we are talking about.

With that said:

Regarding our class discussion about Pearl Harbor and War etc. It seems to me that Urban legends that stem from Wartime are just created to justify horrible acts. We decided to paint this negative image of the Japanese to justify the blatant killing of them. It is easier for troops in battle to kill people who are seen as barbaric. Maybe this is where the myths of cannibalism started. It is a lot easier to hate your enemy if you view that enemy as doing something so evil. I address this a bit in my cannibalism paper. Maybe we use cannibalism as a symbolic metaphor for other evils in the world. Maybe we use cannibalism to symbolize wars. We are basically killing innocent people in wars just like we would have to if we ate them. Though it is not as literal, we still have a person's blood, who we killed, on our shoulders.

Maybe it is in our best interest to buy into urban legends about our enemies during wartime. What do other people think?

Are Urban Legends with the intent to expose evil ok? The Japanese may not be evil, but isn't it a lot easier to tell troops that they are if they have to kill them?

Revisiting the Chester the Molester Urban Legend

I also heard this same urban legend when I was younger. My elementary school was right at the edge of the woods and there were stories of a man living in the woods. Naturally, this mysterious man received the name Chester the Molester. I think part of this story is true, because I remember seeing a man in the woods one day. I doubt the man molested children though. It's very rural where I live and it's not uncommon for people to go for walks in the woods. It's funny how certain myths persist and how much we can let our imaginations build on reality.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Gang Initiations at Wal-Mart!

I have received several e-mails and have been verbally told by many of my friends and family to be aware of my surroundings whenever I am in a Wal-mart parking lot. Apparently there is a very dangerous and violent Mexican gang that has incorporated killing black females into their gang initiation. They hang out in the parking lot and several members kidnap a women and kill her. I am always very leary about believing gang initiation stories like this one or the one about flashing your headlights. However, I always take precaution because its not as if these sorts of things can never happen. I know that gangs can be very violent so this story is not unbelievable.

Chester the Molester

At my elementary school, St. Ignatius there was an urban legend about this guy who abducted and molested kids. My school was surrounded with a large patch of woods and frequently while children were at play during recess, a man would appear and stare at the kids from the woods. Apparently one little boy dissappeared one day shortly after recess and was never found. When the police showed up to search the woods for the little boy and the mystery man, all the officers found were a yellow tent some pots and pans, and some beat up clothes. Neither the little boy or the man was ever seen again.
I don't know whether to believe this tale or not. I do remember there being a homeless guy with a yellow jacket that used to hang around a lot near the woods by my school and a boy in my class who left suddenly in the middle of one school year without any explanation. However, that's the only memory I have of "Chester" or a missing kid.

Thurston Roof Sniper

I was at work today talking to some of my coworkers about urban legends that they were familiar with and one person mentioned one from her freshman year that I had never heard. Apparently freshmen are warned that if they go up onto the roof of Thurston Hall that there are snipers stationed somewhere nearby ready to shoot. I suppose the thought is that it could be considered a threat since the White House is so close by, but the entire myth seems very ridiculous to me. The girl who told me about it though, believed it throughout the entirety of her freshman year. Maybe this is an example of how upperclassmen might take advantage of freshmen that are young and gullible and perhaps living in a large city for the first time. Had anyone else heard of this GW myth? It was news to me.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Pop Rocks, A Sweet Death

As a preteen, I remember my friends telling me over an intense candy session that mixing Pop Rocks (a carbonated candy that pops in your mouth) with Coke would only end badly. And by badly I mean DEATH. I questioned them, and they responded "it'll totally pop too hard--just don't do it, don't die". I reiterated my question and they stated that Nancy (a girl who had suddenly left school the year before) said that she was going to mix Pop Rocks and Coke when she went home, but was never seen again. This shut me up and I didn't try that combination at that moment. Years later, I heard the same story and decided to try it out for myself. I successfully mixed blue Pop Rocks and Coke and my stomach did not explode. I lived.

As we can see, the combination of Pop Rocks and Coke is not deadly. Why is this urban legend so popular and widespread? Why did it begin and how has it spread across the country and through generations? I believe it was created by either a dentist, a mother annoyed by her overly sugared child, or a sibling who did not want to share their precious Pop Rock or Coke. What do you believe?

Big Fish

Has anyone seen the movie Big Fish starring Ewan McGregor. If not, a simple premise of the movie is a story about a son trying to learn more about his dying father by reliving stories and myths his father told him about himself.

If you have seen the movie, you'll see that many urban legends such as when you meet the one you love, time stops. If you do get a chance to see it, it's a fun movie with a lot of imagination surrounding the topic of urban legends

More fast food fun

I got an email a while ago that said that a witness had seen a man "piercing" himself over the ketchup dispenser in a local fast food. This man was apparently HIV positive (as if a witness could tell) and his blood went into the ketchup. The email said that everyone should make sure to use the ketchup from packets only. This story sounded like an urban legend to me but I checked it out anyway on Truth or Fiction:

It turns out I was right.

Maybe this urban legend was started by ketchup companies, knowing that the ketchup packets cost more for the restaurants. If demand for the individual packets increased, so would their profits.

Freebasing Squirrels

Squirrels on crack. This is the best myth ever. If you haven't heard of this one, brace yourself. Crackheads in the district started to hide their drugs in public parks after increased police pressure on their regular crack dens. While foraging for nuts or acorns, Squirrels have been getting high for free. There are now groups of crack addicted squirrels terrorizing pedestrians all over the district. Awesome.

There are many flaws in the logic of this story. Crack= certain death for rodents. And the obvious flaw, crackheads would never hide their rocks in a park- as if they would be able to remember which park they left it in.

News of my Death Are Greatly on my Phone

What I got out of this story is never leave voicemail.

The Californian Flag

I came across an urban legend today that I had never heard before. It in fact, has been proven to be true and is an invented tradition of sorts. This invented tradition/urban legend is known as the mistake in the Californian flag. After an 1846 revolt in California against the Mexican commandante-general, Vallejo. Vallejo surrendered his fortress and was placed under arrest. To celebrate this victory, Captain Bartlett and his men wanted to create a flag but first needed to decide on what should symbolically represent the California. Bartlett, an agriculturist who created the Barlett pear, demanded that they include a pear on the flag to represent the lush agriculture. The rebels quickly pieced together their flag by sewing a red strip on the bottom, then a star to represent their victory and the words "California Republic" before sending it to William L. Todd to complete. Todd was instructed to paint a pear on the flag, but he misinterpreted it and painted on a bear instead. The rebels decided to display the inaccurate flag with every intention of fixing it and 65 years later this misinterpretation was adopted as the official state flag of California.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Yet Another Government Conspiracy

My friend's boss showed her an e-mail about another government conspiracy. According to it, government military planes are spreading a chemical that lowers our immune systems. The government wants to see how we are affected by the next flu outbreak. This seems really strange and does not make much sense. Has anyone else heard anything similar?

To Kill a Mockingbird

I do not think I will go as far as to call it an Urban Legend, but it has been a rumor for the past 40 years. The rumor is, that Harper Lee did not actually write To Kill A Mockingbird that instead it was her best friend since childhood Truman Capote. People chose to believe this since Harper Lee only wrote one novel. She claimed back in the 1970s that she was in the middle of her second novel, but no second novel was ever completed. This rumor began circling around again with the release of CAPOTE, where Harper Lee was portrayed as instrumental in Truman Capote's In Cold Blood. USA TODAY published an article about whether or not this rumor has any validity. The link is:;_ylt=AnBn9ejDwPhA9Wora1kEd.JxFb8C;_ylu=X3oDMTA0cDJlYmhvBHNlYwM-

Thursday, June 01, 2006


I have been thinking about our field trip to the monuments for the past few hours. Yes memorials are suppose to have us stop and think about the past and they are suppose to create some identity of our nation, but the more I think about it the more I think it becomes a crock. What if the reason we have monuments and memorials is because we carry some kind of guilt about the past. Unlike everywhere else in the world, the United States is a county that lives sole in the immediate future. So part of me wants to conclude that the reason we have these memorials is to apologize for the past and then move on. We construct memorials just to remind people of what was once, and to simply make sure this does not occur again.

Also memorials, especially the ones we saw today, bring in a lot of tourist into DC and fosters the DC economy; people stay in hotels, they go out for three meals a day, they probably shop and take transportation etc. So maybe we should not look at the historical significance of the memorials but instead look at them as commodity or a money making machine.

What do other people think?


I've heard a lot of rumors throughout my life about the Nike Corporation. I would never wear Nikes before about 8th grade (I always opted for Adidas) because I heard they used little Asian kids in sweatshops to make all their products. Then I started on a basketball team that required us to wear Nikes, and I gave in. But I always felt a little guilty. Then just recently I was hearing about the Nike "Swoosh" logo, which is obviously worth millions of dollars. Turns out it was designed by this design student and they gave her 35 dollars for it!! That, and later some stock in the corporation....

Here's the Museum of Hoaxes website (kinda cool) and the link to the Nike story:

French Monuments and public memory

Here's an article about monuments in France since 1870 and how they contribute to public Memory. There are some high quality photographs in the article that might be cool to look at.
For anyone that might be interested:

More on Trachtenberg

I was unable to find more information about the secretary of education rumor, but Trachtenberg's upcoming plans are writing a book about higher education, completing projects at GW and starting some new ones. Check out his speech to GW announcing his departure.

Goldfinger Myth

A few weeks ago I was watching Mythbusters and they did a segment on whether or not being covered by gold paint can kill you. People started believing this after the movie Goldfinger came out. In this movie, a woman died from "skin suffocation" by being covered in gold paint. Unfortunately, I didn't get to see the end of the episode but I was curious and I found out that the myth is untrue. During the first trial, the test subject experienced breathing and blood pressure problems. The experiment was repeated with a different subject and no problems were experienced. Wikipedia has a nice article on the topic. It seems as though a lot of myths are created or perpetuated by movies.