Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The Elusive Bieber Lemur

Posted By on Tue, Feb 22, 2011 at 3:27 PM

While working on today's Tuesday Twitter Trivia question, I opened a few links to read later. One of them was the Wikipedia entry on The Evolutionary History of Lemurs, which was the "featured article" on Wikipedia.

When I went back to read it, I saw this:


Obviously someone decided to have a little fun with the story on the main page. When I refreshed the page (after taking a screenshot, of course), it was back to normal.

But I couldn't help but laugh when I pictured a lemur with a Justin Bieber haircut. I know a good number of art/design folks follow the Flyer on Twitter, so I put out an APB for lemurs with Bieber haircuts. Here's what I got:

  • @crystalchick

  • @thedevine1

  • @jarrodbtaylor

Great stuff. Thanks guys!

Monday, February 21, 2011

My First NASCAR Experience

Posted By on Mon, Feb 21, 2011 at 10:21 AM

Despite living in the South for approximately 99% of my life, I had never watched a NASCAR race until yesterday.

Of course I was familiar with much of its trappings - the lingo, the macho swagger, the ever-present logo soup on every surface. Many of the drivers' names were familiar too - Jeff Gordon, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Mark Martin. So when my girlfriend and I sat down to watch the Daytona 500 yesterday, the whole thing had an air of familiarity.

Apparently, I picked a helluva race for my first viewing experience. The track at Daytona was recently repaved at the cost of $20 million, making it 3-cars wide and smooth enough for the kind of pushing/drafting seen at tracks like Talladega and in movies.

Since two cars bumper-to-bumper go faster than just one, all of the drivers had to find a buddy (or "dance partner" as the announcers kept saying, which I thought was amusing.) And since it's a freaking 500 mile race, the drivers had plenty of time to be diplomatic with one another - right up to the final laps. I have to admit, I was pretty excited when things turned into a free-for-all during the last lap.

Early in the race, I decided to root for Trevor Bayne, a 20-year-old from Knoxville for whom yesterday's race was only his 2nd start in the Sprint Cup. As an unexpected bonus to my first NASCAR experience, my driver actually won.

In order to enjoy a sport, I need to be able to over-think it. I have to understand what makes it different from other sports, where its points of contention are. For years I naively assumed "cars going left" would never hold my intellectual attention. I'm glad I was wrong. Next race is on Sunday.

UPDATE 2.21.11 11:55am - The House voted last week to continue to allow taxpayer money to go toward sponsorships of NASCAR teams, despite Planned Parenthood losing it's $330 million in public funding. I do not support this. [via The Stranger]

Friday, February 18, 2011

Memphis Frogger

Posted By on Fri, Feb 18, 2011 at 9:32 AM

My girlfriend and I have a running joke about pedestrians in Memphis' roadways. Driving around town can be like playing Frogger, except you're in one of the cars and the idea is to keep from hitting someone. This game is called Memphis Frogger.

regular Frogger
  • regular Frogger

Drive around Memphis on any given day, and you'll likely see someone on foot crossing a street at an inopportune place or time. If jaywalking is even a crime in Memphis (is it?), it's not policed.

I'm convinced that this phenomena is entirely unrelated to gender, race, economic status or any other designation I determine while passing at 35-45 miles per hour. But it's a peculiarly common behavior in Memphis. (More than anything, it's a statement about our car-centric society and the lack of pedestrian friendly roadways, but that's a topic for a post that's not titled "Memphis Frogger.")

This morning, I saw a group crossing the street from a parking lot to an office building. As the group came to the curb and looked at traffic, two waited on the curb while one person stepped into the roadway.

It occurred to me that these are the two styles of crossing the street.

Style 1 are the people who stay on the curb until they see a gap in both directions of traffic. They've calculated a way to get all the way across before they step off the curb.

Style 2 takes it one lane at a time, starting with the closest. This is where Frogger begins.

about to lose.
  • about to lose.

The one thing that amazes me is that I've never seen anyone splattered by traffic (see above). As far as I've seen, both styles will get you across the road. Style 1 may cause you to wait for a few minutes. Style 2 may land you on the center stripe of Union Ave. with traffic screaming past on either side of you. But you'll get across.

Crossing the street is mundane. It's just about the definition of a mundane activity. But I think it says something about how we make decisions in our lives.

I'm not trying to sermonize about risk taking - "Are YOU the sort of person who will jump right out there?" - because I don't think there's a right or wrong here. I just know my style, and you won't see me stranded halfway across the street.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Whores in the Land of Walmart

Posted By on Fri, Feb 11, 2011 at 3:44 PM

I did a double-take when I saw a link on Twitter to a story by Memphis' WREG about prostitution in Bentonville, AR.

I wasn't surprised about the prostitutes. I was surprised because it's 5 hours away from Memphis. And I grew up there.

If you don't know, Bentonville is the birthplace and headquarters of the world's largest retailer, Walmart. To say that Walmart dominates the landscape there is an understatement.

Bentonville, Arkansas, has changed a lot since my family and I moved there when I was 11. The population has more than doubled and the once-ubiquitous cow pastures have been replaced with chain restaurants and coffee shops.

I've always been frustrated when people I talk to are willing to write off Bentonville as just-another hick town. Really, it's pretty interesting.

It's like a suburb, but with no adjacent "urb." The place people commute to is the Walmart Home Office, a fortified campus located a mile or two from the historic square of Bentonville.

But the majority of people doing business with Walmart don't come from Arkansas. Businesses that want to sell their stuff at Walmarts around the world set up offices in Bentonville and send their people there — that's how I ended up there.

A lot of people find it to be a pleasant place and settle down like my parents did. But, since it was (and still is) a small town, the large number of bored transplants with money to spend created a thousand niches to be filled.

I usually think of it in terms of food and restaurants. Bentonville has a thriving dining scene with everything from fine dining to locally sourced vegan cuisine. What other town in Arkansas has that? I think it's interesting that Bentonville got Dunkin' Donuts about 2 years before Memphis, if memory serves. Not that DD is a measure of status, it just says something about their priorities of expansion markets.

When you import a whole bunch of people with money to spend, you create a market for the stuff they miss from their previous homes. And new businesses will crop up to meet those needs.

Since Walmart is nearly synonymous with "globalization," I wonder what Thomas Friedman (author of The World is Flat) would say about the free-market forces at work in Bentonville?

I'll have to think about that one.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

App-ostolic Succession

Posted By on Wed, Feb 9, 2011 at 10:14 AM

There is now an app for Catholics who don't make it to the confessional booth as much as they'd like. That's right, a confession app. [via CNN]

A practical concern: if the app functions at all like a confessional booth, users will presumably enter their "sins" into the app in some way. And apps store user data. Even if it's password protected, PASSWORDS GET HACKED. (Google "celebrity sex tape" and tell me they don't.*)

According to the blog CNN cites, this is the first imprimatur (permission given by the church for publication) for a digital application.

On some level, I understand why the church would think this is a good idea - Kids love apps, right?

In the constantly expanding realm of digital technologies, every business/brand/entity has had to find where they fit in. But in some cases, those efforts to fit in only serve to highlight the total irrelevance of the business/brand/entity in the lives of the people they're trying to reach.

The idea that a sheet of plastic with flashing pixels can somehow absolve your mortal soul because a particular bit of code was sanctioned by the church is just silly. It's a collision of science and superstition that confronts our common sense.

When I see certain institutions fighting to maintain relevance, I think back to this bit from Bill Hicks:

Will the Confession App help the Catholic Church recapture that oh-so-coveted 18-24 demographic? I doubt it.

But then again, religion survived the printing press and the shift from manuscripts illuminated by the hands of cloistered monks to mass-produced Bibles (which I'm sure at least one monk called heresy).

* don't actually Google that. You'll get in trouble at work and end up knowing more than you want to about something called a Kardashian.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Sunday's Televised Sporting Event: A Poll

Posted By on Fri, Feb 4, 2011 at 9:17 AM

I'm compiling ideas for the Official [televised sporting event] Drinking Game.

(These are in addition to these words/phrases that are always in play: "Tebow," "trickeration," "game of football," "indisputable video evidence.")

Drink when...
- Anyone mentions the irony of a snowy [televised sporting event] in Texas.
- Anyone talks about Clay Matthews' or Troy Palomalu's hair.
- Anyone says "road to redemption" in reference to Roethlisberger OR they show a picture of him looking contrite. Like this:


or this

Feel free to leave suggestions in the comments.

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