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)
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Read Also:
* 50 Summers
* Freaky Links
* No Way Vacay
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Women Matter

10 (Randomly Picked)
Extraordinary Women

Suddenly, feminism is no longer a cursed word. As the world man built faces total collapse, the ‘Second Sex’ is being enlisted to save it. Even as women are used to pick up pieces from male obsessions, this time they’re coming to grab the helm. Should we be so lucky?
John Lennon may’ve been a flawed man, and when he sang ‘Woman is the nigger of the world,’ many didn’t like his appropriation of a black experience word. But in essence, he was absolutely right. On this Women’s Day, the ‘slaves of the slaves’ will rise. Are you with us?
After two years of the Trump administration, is not a political party, or a cast, that has the best ideas on how to kick His Incompetence out. It’s women, now the most diversified, articulated, and stoic force vying to take the lead for change in America. Don’t miss this bus.
Is not for the record number of candidates aiming at becoming the first U.S. mother president, or the tsunami of fresh leadership that got elected to Congress. In fact, we’re seeing an explosion of female voices of protest all over the world. They came a long way and won’t quit now.
Here’s a series of quotes by outstanding women, living and passed, that could’ve been spoken, or written, the other week. Time has not changed the truth they’ve once spoken and fought for. Many are still among us. Today, as we join them, we’re all women of all genders.

*’I am too intelligent, too demanding, and too resourceful for anyone to take charge of me entirely. No one knows me or loves me completely. I have only myself.’ Simone de Beauvoir

 

 

                                                                                                                             *’If men could get pregnant, abortion would be a sacrament. Women may be the one group that grows more radical with age.’ Gloria Steinem

 

 

 

*’Men are afraid that women will laugh at them. Women are afraid that men will kill them.’ Margaret Atwood

 

*’I love to see a young girl go out and grab the world by the lapels. Life’s a bitch. You’ve got to go out and kick ass.’ Maya Angelou

 

 

 

*’Women, if the soul of the nation is to be saved, I believe that you must become its soul.’ Coretta Scott King

 

 

 

 

*’Let’s talk about liberating minds as well as liberating society. If they come for me in the morning, they will come for you in the night.’ Angela Davis

 

 

 

*’Another killing of a young person possibly committed by the Military Police. Matheus was leaving church. How many more must die for this war to end?’ Marielle Franco

 

 

 

*’I was born in a place where your ZIP code determines your destiny. Women like me aren’t supposed to run for office.’ Alexandria Ocasio-Cortéz

 

 

 

*’I raise up my voice — not so I can shout, but so that those without a voice can be heard… We cannot succeed when half of us are held back.’ Malala Yousafzai

 

 

 

*’You have ignored us in the past, and you will ignore us again. You say you love your children, and yet you are stealing their future in front of their very eyes.’ Greta Thunberg

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Read Also:
* Beautiful Bandit
* First Ladies
* The Other Half of the Sky

You Once Belonged


50 Years Ago Today, 
Beatles Called it Quits

It was the last time they played together but no one knew it then. Their first public performance in over three years. And yes, it’s now been half a century ago. If they used to make us feel forever young, now they date us. But so does life.
It’s likely that great part of the living today wasn’t around then yet. And countless who were, have already ended their journey. For those in between, though, what a feeling having had The Beatles around to create the soundtrack of our early dreams.
John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr, were concluding one of the most recounted musical trajectories of all times. And way before their century was over too, they’d inscribed their names at the heart of an entire generation.
They were as important for their times as any band will ever be, possibly without peers. Art was then as vital as it ever was, but popular music had ascended to heights of relevance no other artistic manifestation could have in such a short span.
What felt like a long and defining trajectory feels now like happenstance, when musicianship and popular expression reached critical mass. And changed the times. Or so it felt. More than the memory, what remains now, and still counts, is their music.
It was great while it lasted, and you know, it felt really good indeed. Now it’s a half proud feeling of having paid attention to, and
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Read Also:
* Newspaper Taxis
* Would You?
* Yesterdays

experienced, something we still gladly enjoy and find meaningful ways to relate to, after all those years.
The Rooftop Concert, an impromptu 42-minute session of just a few songs, became their sign-off to the role of ‘Beatles,’ to the obligation of being on top forever, and to the era. It was also their entry into what could have been, had it not happened.
In the end, it may appear that those businessmen who complained about ‘the noise,’ won over the moment. The world is as grey and cold as it was at 3 Savile Row, London, on Jan. 30, 1969. But only if you can’t listen to their music. They tell another, much better, story.

Life W/O Lennon


That Cold Night
in December 1980

Thanks for always being on our side.

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Read Also:
* Every Man
* Dear John
* Bloody Christmas

The Drone, the Bug & the Beat

Bottle-Loving Beetle, a Non-Stop
Beatle & the Beetle’s Real Father

What’s in a name? Much before early rock bands named themselves after insects, or what sounded like it, someone imagined a bug-shaped ‘people’s car,’ and even earlier in Australia, a certain beetle species was already wrongly accused of hitting the beer bottle too often.
But as Volkswagen ended this month production of the beloved ‘Fuca,’ as it was known in Brazil, some thought of crying, while others brought up that it’d outlived even the Nazis (well, at least, those Nazis). Thank goodness then that beetles, and the Beatle, are still going strong.
It’ll be a quick tour through completely different universes, where dreams get crushed by dictators, nature is forced to adapt, and human creativity is bounded only by prejudice. In the end, though, all three stories have something for everyone, for this is, after all, Thursday, and we’re not about to spoil your carefully laid out plans for the weekend.

THE WAY YOU LOOK TONIGHT
For a long time, most people who saw the Julodimorpha saudersii, known as the Buprestid (jewel) beetle infesting empty brown beer bottles, thought it was all about booze, the alcohol, or at least, the sugar left inside. Few noticed then that it wasn’t just any bottle, but only those with an indentation at the bottom that caused the buzz.
But it took Australian entomologists David Rentz and Daryll Gwynne to find out the truth about the misguided love story. It turns out that the males would ‘love long time’ the bottles, thinking they were mating and preserving their species, because the glass resembles the females’ shiny wings.
For that 1983 research, Male Buprestids Mistake Stubbies (the particular kind of beer bottle) For Females, they received the 2011 Ig Noble award for Biology. It made a lot of sense, as it fulfills the Improbable Research premise of entertaining and educate. There was fear that such silly drive would harm the species, but so far, they’re doing just fine.
You may say that love knows no barriers, and all that. But the most appropriate cliche, if there was ever one, would be the old, not everything that shines, etc. They will learn it. At least, be grateful Professors Rentz and Gwynne have cleared the species’ good name, lest not think that just because they’re Australians, well, you know.

THE JEWISH BEETLE
In the early 1930s, Josef Ganz, a Jewish engineer from Frankfurt, changed the history of the automobile by creating the first small family-car, the Maikäfer (May Bug in German). Its design was a triumph of ingenuity and anticipated in years the many Sedans that started getting mass-produced after WWII.
It was, though, a personal disaster for Ganz. He became a target for the Nazis and had to flee Germany, only to see his original concept stolen and given to Ferdinand Porsche to develop into what Hitler called, seven years later, the ‘people’s car,’ an effective piece of propaganda for the mass murderer’s regime.
According to Paul Schilperoord‘s The Extraordinary Life of Josef Ganz – The Jewish Engineer Behind Hitler’s Volkswagen, while Ganz was being hunted down, arrested and almost assassinated by the Gestapo, his (more)
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Read Also:
* Newspaper Taxis
* Racy Meals
* Beatlebarry

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Whole Shebang


Black Holes & the Metaphysics
of Perforating Internal Cavities

Planets have craters, caves, volcanoes. Our bodies have cavities, orifices, crevices. Thoughts have depths, flaws, gaps. In the 1960s, there were four thousand holes in Blackburn, Lancashire, as John Lennon reported on a song. Right now, there’re billions of massive ones, swallowing whole galaxies across the universe.
For such a geographic or anatomic accident, we do give holes a huge amount of attention, and scientific studies to back it all up. Let’s update our space files and see what’s out there, in the vastness of outer space, from the rarified atmosphere of improbable research to that ground hole that may already have our name on it.
10 BILLION SUNS
A noble thing about Albert Einstein is that he never let his religious beliefs interfere with his science. When he theorized that there must be something like a black hole, a force so powerful that not even light could escape it, he also said there should be a law forbidding it to exist.
There wasn’t, and his rigorous calculations prevailed despite himself. As Stephen Hawking and others proved and studied black holes, Einstein’s moral integrity also received a boost. What even now few are capable of conceiving is the size of these monsters.
The biggest one discovered so far, just the other day, is bigger than 10 billion suns. Before you ask it, though, if you absolutely have to, how astronomers come up with these figures, we must say, it’s complicated. But we’ll wait while you go on the Internet to check that out.

BREAKFAST OF STARS
Welcome back. As we were saying, someone’s discovered second-biggest ever, sitting pretty over 330 million light-years away from us, in the Coma Cluster of all places. Again, if you need to ask what’s a light year, etc, etc. And what an appetite. These fatties can devour millions of stars faster than you can finish reading this word.
The late great Muhammad Ali used to say he was so fast, he could turn off the light switch and get in bed before the room was dark. That’s the kind of fast we’re talking about here. Powerful too as you probably know. Black holes can warp space-time around them, so strong is their gravitational pull. But relax, no one is near us, so let’s move on.

ALMOST NOTHINGS
As it turns out, holes are traps that may have tricked, and tickled, some of the brightest philosophers of our time. And it all started in the 1970s, with some Gruyère cheese (yup, 10 years after Lennon sang about holes). Lore has it that two scientists named Lewis invented an imaginary duo of thinkers, Argle and Bargle, who’d get intrigued with what the holes in the cheese actually meant.
If we’re insulting your attention span, feel free to take a break. We’ll be as brief as our philosophical illiteracy will allow it. (more)
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Read Also:
* Tomorrow Never Knows
* Singing Suns
* Worlds Away

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Beautiful Bandit

Maria Bonita, Better Half of
Brazil’s Riskiest Love Story

It’s easy to romanticize about outlaws who fall in love, lead a trailblazing life, and burn out like shooting stars, leaving the holes in their story to be filled with awe by future generations. As legends recede, it’s ever harder to match them with reality.
But the life of Maria Déia and Capt. Virgulino Ferreira da Silva sure packs all the heat those landmarks evoke, placing them at the rarefied pantheon of anti-hero couples whose feats and memory still transfix the living, no matter how much time has passed.
As infamous leaders of a ragtag bunch, who terrorized the hinterlands of Brazil’s Northeast and entranced the nation in the 1930s, Maria Bonita and Lampião are at par with contemporaries Bonnie and Clyde, and after them, Charles Starkweather and Caril Ann Fugate.
They all rose quickly from the anonymity of underprivileged classes to news headlines by the way of the gun, leaving a trail littered with crime and death in their wake, but also, a surprising tenderness, represented by their mutual affection.
But while Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow were not lovers, and Charles may have manipulated Caril Ann to follow him, Maria Bonita (Beautiful Maria) and Virgulino (lampião means oil lamp, but his nickname is a reference to his lethal firepower) did it all together.
They were equals and in synch in both love and killing skills, although she may’ve been demonized by the Brazilian press at the time, because she was a woman. How fitting then that today, March 8th, the International Women’s Day, also marks her 107th birthday.

QUEEN AND KING OF CANGAÇO
Lampião, 14 years her senior, was already a wanted bandit when he met and literally swept Maria off her feet, around 1930, in the arid Sertão of Brazil, in 1930. A kind of local Robin Hood, he’d avowed to avenge his parents’ deaths in the hands of government soldiers.
When she joined in, Maria became a de-facto co-leader of his gang, which certainly benefited from her charisma. They became folk heroes and it’s not hard to picture how the impoverished populace embraced their fight against enforcers of big landowners and corrupt politicians.
Lampião’s campaign lasted some 16 years, and even as Maria could have played Marian to his Robin exploits, the cangaceiros, as they were known, were closer, (more)
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Read Also:
* Women’s Day
* The Body of Choice
* Phony Outrage

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