Snow & Zuck

There’s a WebCam
Hidden in the Toilet

Edward Snowden and Mark Zuckerberg shared a week in the headlines. The whistleblower who exposed the National Security Agency’s dirty secrets has a memoir out. And the Facebook’s inventor was caught on tape expressing fears of a future of greater scrutiny and accountability.
Apart from that, their notoriety, and the fact they were born within a year of each other, they’ve got little in common. One, whose daring act cost him his freedom, is an example of moral clarity, while the other embodies the very disregard for principles driving the ownership class.
The fate of their parallel lives, however, is an imperfect but still fitting metaphor for these times: follow your conscience and face exile and the hounds of the establishment. Use your privilege to generate wealth and soon you’ll get to rub elbows with the rich and the powerful.
Snowden‘s ‘Permanent Record,’ rather than boasting his ‘good guy’ image, as a slayer of sinister state-surveillance agencies, zeroes in on the fractured and the personal. It’s a humble account of surviving the pushback while still honoring ethical and private choices.
The leaked audio of Zuckerberg‘s raging about presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren, on the other hand, throws a glare on his shrewd political calculations. As in the 2016 elections, he’s prepping his social media mammoth to play again the role of king’s maker.

Six years ago this November, they were the focus of a Colltales’ Curtain Raiser, an excerpt of which is adapted and reposted below. To many, Snowden’s woes have somehow anticipated our current reality, where a U.S. president uses the government to go after his political enemies.
Or that Facebook, which Zuck started in 2004 – a decade before the NSA scandal broke – would go on to become more powerful than many nations. After all, free, non-regulated access to private citizen’s data is now as common as using cellphones to track people down.
As in 2014, they’re still frozen together in amber: Snowden in the White House’s hit list, unlikely to receive a fair trial if he ever comes back from Russia to fight for his rights; and Zuckerberg, who along the top 0.01% of the population, controls 80% of all the planet’s resources.

‘The Big Brother age has produced its first titans whose duality mirrors the ambiguity and radical change of the way we live now. Born within a year of each other, Snow and Zuck have perhaps unwittingly, defined the times: a reboot of government accountability, or our downgrade to a totalitarian society.
They made their choices and so will we. Zuck’s created FB with one thought on his mind, besides getting dates: get rich. He achieved that by eliminating early collaborators and potential competitors, and swiftly establishing his wraparound, impenetrable hold of a niche market.
He succeeded beyond his most outlandish visions of power by conceiving and enforcing the tenet of his business model: the complete eradication of any notion of personal privacy, except his, and (more)
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* Call Upon You
* Middle Brother

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Shh… Hear That?

Gunshots? Feisty Couples? Nah.
A Hum Is Robbing Folks of Sleep

People who live in war zones and disaster areas have learned it long ago. And so have those of the fickle slumber kind. For the great majority of mankind, the quest for a silent night of sleep gets harder every day. And then there is that humming.
What used to be called the Bristol Hum has now been reported all over the world, and well-rested ears are finally tuning in. As thin walls or jumpy imagination are not longer blamed for it, a reasonably sound explanation may settle the mystery.
Conclusive research have proved how lousy sleepers we’ve all become, at least since the bulb came to light (sorry). As more is learned about the depths of our unconscious state, less is known about how much we’ve lost trying to be up and running at all hours.
People and animals show considerable loss of performance and overall quality of life, when sleep is restricted. There are many fascinating studies on the subject, but it’s better to put that to rest for now, so not lead everyone into a loud snore.
Is not that insomnia is more prevalent, even if it is, or that we’ve all been dreaming about a good night of sleep, or so we should. It’s our days, crammed with so many chores rammed up deep into penumbra territory. When we’re finally done, it’s already time to get up.
Some try Zen and the art of not giving a hoot about an ever ‘on’ world, full of lamps, neon, and TV sets. If not that, then the vain effort of carving extra hours from the canyons of the night, to jam them with big blobs of extra wakefulness.
The Worldwide Map of the Hum (Glen MacPherson)
No wonder. Not just external noise is increasing, hammering our heads with insane bangs and clangs, but also low noise, the almost imperceptible humming of billions of electronic appliances and, if one’s to believe some Internet sites, the aliens’ very own breath.
Research conducted by geoscientist David Deming since 2004 may have broken the puzzle, and to many, all the fun: surprising absolutely no one, but making a lot of sense, he concluded that Very Low Frequency (VLF) radio waves, between 3 and 30kHz, are the culprit for the hum.
It’s the frequency used by, you guessed, the world’s military to communicate with submerged submarines, via industrial-strength land-based and airborne transmitters. It’s powerful enough to penetrate a solid inch of aluminum. And drive light sleepers insane.

Speaking of which, not all theories invoked to explain the phenomenon were by conspiracy-driven nutcakes. For the Earth does make sounds the human ear is not equipped to detect, and the wind, well, it blows and sings and haunts and everything else.
An intriguing study, by University of Liverpool Chris Hugues and his team, for instance, found that the Caribbean Sea (more)
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* Singing Suns

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Herd Through the Grapevine

Colorful Solution
For Lamb Robbery

Sheep theft in England has become so serious that farmers are being forced to come up with ever more creative ways to ward off thieves.
After seeing his livestock rapidly declining, and everything else to prevent it failing, Okehampton, Devon, farmer John Heard decided to go for broke: he painted his sheep orange!
His rationale is plain and simple: the bright hue of orange is so distinguished that robbers will think twice before stealing them. And it seems to be working: after having lost Continue reading

Buy Me a Mercedes

Zoo Gives Monkeys a New Car.
Monkeys Turn Car Into Rubbish

From the department of, “it seemed like such a good idea at that time:” In preparation for the reopening of the Longleat Safari Zoo, in Wilkshire, U.K., and to please its 100 or so playful rhesus resident macaques, management came up with a novel (and expensive) idea: why not give them their own Continue reading

Sugar Blues

Woman Goes Nuts At Baker
For Running Out of Cupcakes

It turns out that one of the worst eating addictions of Americans has also a hold on people across the pond (and we say this looking anxiously over our shoulders; unlike women issues or politics, this is bound to attract a lot of passionate reader Continue reading

Exhibit B

Lucas Sues Creator
of Star Wars Helmets

George Lucas is taking to the U.K. Supreme Court his fight to preserve the rights to the famous stormtrooper helmets, used in the “Star Wars” movie saga. He’s suing British artist Andrew Ainsworth, who created and manufactured the original helmets used in the first films of the series, and who a few years ago, Continue reading

Foreign Objects

When Surgeons Find Knives
and Chopsticks In Your Skull

We hate to be the ones to tell you but when someone complains about intense headaches for years, they may have something lodged in their skulls. For knife blades, chopsticks, and all sorts of blunt objects are more commonly found in the heads of people from all over the world than you’re led to believe. And most of the victims don’t even know they are carrying them.
Take Li Fu, from the Yunnan Province, China, for instance. Continue reading

Counting Electric Sockets

Conference Focus on
Excitement of Boredom

Now here’s a gathering of like-minded people like no other: a day-long conference titled Boring 2010. Sorry, you’ve already missed it by a few weeks, but it was so successful its organizers plan to hold another one later this year.
Topics as riveting as “Listening to Paint Dry” to “The Intangible Beauty of Car Park Roofs” to “My Relationship with Bus Routes” were followed attentively by the audience, when it was not nodding or eating energy bars to remain awake.
The conference was a hit but the fact that it was freezing in Continue reading

Lettuce Now Praise

Harmless Police Mishaps &
The People Who Love Them

A burglar who stole about $90 from an elderly woman in England is getting more than his fair share in the glare of the fashion spotlight, thanks to the Hampshire police. The cause for such a widespread alarm to fashionistas and, well, elderly women all over is the sketch the good cops released of the now more than notorious criminal.
The sketch, known in England as an “e-fit,” for you non-anglophiles out there, shows some well defined facial features of the offender, who’s said to be on his 40s and having wavy blond-grey hair. Now, about Continue reading

Serial Beaker

Psycho Swan
Out of Pound

Now you know why comedians place their highest bets on finding material with politics and public figures’ antics. Most of every other piece of news nature throws at us has, by itself, its own punch line. To add anything to the stuff that makes up 90% of the news is not just redundant, it’s just plain unfunny.
Take Hannibal, for example. Here’s a swan who’s always taken it Continue reading

Out on Bail

WikiLeaks’s Julian Assange
Walks Free, With Conditions

JUST IN: The High Court in London granted bail on Thursday to Julian Assange, the founder of the antisecrecy group WikiLeaks, while he fights extradition to Sweden on a warrant connected with alleged sex offenses.

About $370 thousand. That’s how much money was posted by a group of supporters for WikiLeaks’s founder Julian Assange’s release in London. City of Westminster Magistrates Court Judge Howard Riddle ordered him to come back to court on Jan. 11 and, until then, to reside at Ellingham Hall, a Georgian mansion in Bungay, eastern England.
He must spend every night there, wear electronic tags and stay under curfew from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. and from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. He’s also to report daily to the police from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Additionally, while waiting for a possible extradition to Sweden for questioning on the rape allegations case moved against him by two women, his passport will be held and he’s not permitted to travel abroad. The Swedish government said it would appeal against Assange’s release, but one of this lawyers said he probably would not be released until Wednesday morning.
Despite technically unrelated to the charges of sexual assault, by which Assange’s faces possible jail time in Sweden, most Continue reading

January 8

Today Belongs
to Elvis & Bowie

Perhaps it’s a good thing that it’s been a while since we last heard about Elvis Presley filling up at some Midwest gas station. But if visitation to his grave at Graceland, in Memphis, hasn’t noticeably increased, he’s still one of the best selling artists of all time, even 33 years after his death.
Elvis would be 76 today and many New York City restaurants will be serving some of the junk food staples associated with his unhealthy appetite. But apart from the now classic Fried Peanut Butter and Banana Sandwich, we’re not sure even him would dare to touch some of the fancy offerings. But you’re no Elvis, so you can go ahead and try them.
On the other hand, David Bowie, whose New York apartment Continue reading