Paper Planes

404 Pages, Old Hoaxers
& Staying Dry in the Rain

This being Summer Solstice time, it seems appropriate to bring you these stories, each with a temporal slant. One would not be possible a few decades ago; another no longer makes much sense; and yet the other one is ageless. So, no sweat, we’ve got you covered.
On the Internet, no one knows you got lost; or that you landed on a ‘Not Found’ page. The Society Against Quackery would not tolerate such nonsense 130 years ago. And yet, since time immemorial, there’s been Virga, a special kind of rain: the type that doesn’t make you wet.
What? Didn’t they use to count paper planes on New York City streets? Or holes in Blackburn Lancashire? Indeed they did, so it shouldn’t shock you if we pick the odd or the unusual for a summer read, rather than the bloody or the bombastic. For there’ll be plenty of that too.
There’s a new Pride Flag with a welcome element of racial tolerance. And, yes, the season‘s proverbial love stories already abound, along those from the 1967 Summer of Love. And the breeze, and that girl from Ipanema, and all cliches about heat and hurricanes.
Since warm days go by faster in the north, they’ll still be filled with talk about ice cream and beaches, parties and drought. Just as Earth will keep on getting warmer, and this sort of conversation feels like sand inside one’s swimming suits. Blame us for wanting you to take it easy.
THIS CALL CANNOT BE COMPLETED
So what’s wrong with searching and not finding? Not acceptable these days. See, even when one lands on uncharted territory, it’s no longer an excuse to avoid making assumptions. Or post your cluelessness on Facebook. No opinion should be spared. Thus the 404 pages.
Which is now as entertaining as if you’d reached a site about scientific curiosities. Museums, institutions, companies, and individuals, all jockey to come up with clever ways to cushion your crushing results. It’s Ok, the image and wording seem to say. Here, it’s funny, see?
As for the code number, like a lot of what still compounds our journeys online, it had a nerdy origin, such as some room number in a building once fully occupied by an electronic brain, as it was known. Or it was by chance, depending on who you find still wondering in the space formerly known as cyber.
THE OLE FLIM-FLAM DEBUNKERS
Way before Tim Berners-Lee was born – the World Wide Web inventor just turned 62 last week – or there was a need for Snopes, a group of Dutch skeptics recognized the potential harm hidden behind human gullibility. And decided to mount a defense against those who’d gladly take advantage of it. Boy, haven’t they got their work cut out for them.
If the Internet metastasized the power of deceivers, in 1881, snake oil salesmen, mystics, end-of-the-world profiteers, and an entire array of their ilk, were already spreading irreparable damage all over. (more)
_________
Read Also:
* 50 Summers
* Freaky Links
* No Way Vacay
Continue reading

Paper Planes

404 Pages, Old Hoaxers
& Staying Dry in the Rain

This being Summer Solstice time, it seems appropriate to bring you these stories, each with a temporal slant. One would not be possible a few decades ago; another no longer makes much sense; and yet the other one is ageless. So, no sweat, we’ve got you covered.
On the Internet, no one knows you got lost; or that you landed on a ‘Not Found’ page. The Society Against Quackery would not tolerate such nonsense 130 years ago. And yet, since time immemorial, there’s been Virga, a special kind of rain: the type that doesn’t make you wet.
What? Didn’t they use to count paper planes on New York City streets? Or holes in Blackburn Lancashire? Indeed they did, so it shouldn’t shock you if we pick the odd or the unusual for a summer read, rather than the bloody or the bombastic. For there’ll be plenty of that too.
There’s a new Pride Flag with a welcome element of racial tolerance. And, yes, the season’s proverbial love stories already abound, along those from the 1967 Summer of Love. And the breeze, and that girl from Ipanema, and all cliches about heat and hurricanes.
Since warm days go by faster in the north, they’ll still be filled with talk about ice cream and beaches, parties and drought. Just as Earth will keep on getting warmer, and this sort of conversation feels like sand inside one’s swimming suits. Blame us for wanting you to take it easy.
THIS CALL CANNOT BE COMPLETED
So what’s wrong with searching and not finding? Not acceptable these days. See, even when one lands on uncharted territory, it’s no longer an excuse to avoid making assumptions. Or post your cluelessness on Facebook. No opinion should be spared. Thus the 404 pages.
Which is now as entertaining as if you’d reached a site about scientific curiosities. Museums, institutions, companies, and individuals, all jockey to come up with clever ways to cushion your crushing results. It’s Ok, the image and wording seem to say. Here, see how funny this is.
As for the code number, like a lot of what still compounds our journeys online, it had a nerdy origin, such as some room number in a building once fully occupied by an electronic brain, as it was know. Or it was by chance, depending of who you find still wondering in the space formerly known as cyber.
THE OLD FLIM-FLAM DEBUNKERS
Way before Tim Berners-Lee was born – the World Wide Web inventor just turned 62 last week – or there was need for Snopes, a group of Dutch skeptics recognized the potential harm hidden behind human gullibility. And decided to mount a defense against those who’d gladly take advantage of it.
If the Internet metastasized the power of deceivers, in 1881, snake oil salesmen, mystics, end-of-the-world profiteers, and an entire array of their ilk, were already doing irreparable damage out of others’ (more)
______
Read Also:
* 50 Summers
* Freaky Links
* No Way Vacay
Continue reading

Is It Raining Yet?

St. Paddy Is Fine But
to Parade Is Optional

New Yorkers don’t usually complain about their city. They may not like what it’s becoming, but to speak evil of tourists, or say, The Bronx, may be grounds for a punch. Just don’t get them started about malls. Or the MTA. Tell no soul, but in certain quarters, parades belong to this list too.
Sorry, St. Paddy, and all those who helped build New York, but a lot of locals simply detest parades. And religious processions. Ticker-tape parades and dignitary visits too. Apart from marches, if there’s a crowd in one part of the town, I’ll be quick to run to the other side.
In the case of St. Patrick’s Day, for instance, such dislike has nothing to do with some moralistic aversion of public drunkenness, or all those incoherent ‘bros,’ or the retrograde core that fought, tooth and nail but lost, thank goodness, to prevent LGBT people from joining in, gladly.
The same about all the St. Pat’s related parades, the Eastern, the Tartan, and I’m sorry, but let’s include those ethnic and country-themed displays of people wearing funny hats, and yes, Thanksgiving too. There’s just no way I’ll withstand the elements and waste my day gawking at strangers.
If it sounds sullen, by all means, don’t let me stop you from going out there and do it like the Greeks and Romans; I’m just staying behind. And as I do when the United Nations is having one of those world leader summits, I’ll be at that cafe the other side of the park, bidding my time.

DO WE HAVE TO SING TOO?
I’m probably one of those sorry sods who don’t see the point. Or maybe they evoke the frightening sound of military boots hitting the pavement, troops carrying heavy artillery, marching in unison, stupid displays of menacing power. Being from Latin America, I’ve learned to fear what comes next.
I can understand, and even join, a good Puerto Rican party in one of the boroughs, or a festive roda de samba and capoeira, full of happy Brazilians. Invite me for Margaritas at your backyards, on Cinco de Mayo, and I’ll show up with some friends too. Maybe I just can’t stand crowds.
We all have done it, at least once, usually dragged by some out-of-town relative. Yes, I’ve frozen my behind, behind a four-deep (more)
_______
Read Also:
* Greenish

 

Continue reading

Haunting Memories

We’ll Always Have Paris, Just
Not Because of You-Know-Who

Anyone would be hard pressed to come up with a single thing Adolf Hitler did for the good of mankind. We came up with two (stay with us on this): one was not to bomb Paris, a decision he made when he toured the city 72 years ago today. The other, of course, was to die a miserable death and none too soon, a few years later.
Even if the reasons why he spared the City of Lights had nothing to do with charity, it still remains as a small consolation, amid all the horrors he visited upon millions during World War II. What’s even harder to fathom though, is that besides the mass murders he ordered while in power, given a chance, he’d have committed even more evil.
For the man who, by most accounts, professed Christian beliefs, but did not hesitate to gas people to death, also inspired countless plots to destroy his enemies, who at that time were pretty much everyone who was not Nazi enough. ‘Chocolate Bombs,’ cans of plums, outfitted with Continue reading