Monday, July 31, 2006

Well, I'll be a monkey's uncle...

My mother in law always likes to email around those odd stories that she receives. You know the ones; they're cute, or inspirational, and usually totally false.

So I figured was the case with this one, until I verified it at the Urban Legends Reference Pages.

"Much of life can never be explained but only witnessed."
- Rachel Naomi Remen, MD

A baby hippopotamus that survived the tsunami waves on the
Kenyan coast has formed a strong bond with a giant male century-old tortoise, in an animal facility in the port city of Mombassa, officials said.
The hippopotamus, nicknamed Owen and weighing about 300 kilograms (650 pounds), was swept down Sabaki River into the Indian Ocean, then forced back to shore when tsunami waves struck the Kenyan coast on December 26, before wildlife rangers rescued him.

"It is incredible. A-less-than-a-year-old hippo has adopted a male tortoise, about a century old, and the tortoise seems to be very happy with being a 'mother'," ecologist Paula Kahumbu, who is in charge of
Lafarge Park, told AFP.

"After it was swept and lost its mother, the hippo was traumatized. It had to look for something to be a surrogate mother. Fortunately, it landed on
the tortoise and established a strong bond. They swim, eat and sleep together," the ecologist added. "The hippo follows the tortoise exactly the way it follows its mother. If somebody approaches the tortoise, the hippo becomes aggressive, as if protecting its biological mother," Kahumbu added.

"The hippo is a young baby, he was left at a very tender age and by nature, hippos are social animals that like to stay with their mothers for four years," he explained.

Go figure.

Sunday, July 23, 2006


Odds are if you are reading this in relative comfort and safety of your home or work then you've had your share of good fortune, assuming that you don't live in downtown Beirut, or Lebanon for that matter... aw heck, the Middle East.

Anyway, for those of you who have had more than enough good fortune, here... have a Bad Fortune cookie.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Some terrific SPAM I received...

This was some spam email I received at work. Yeah, normally I delete spam faster than something doing something really fast, but in this case curiosity got the better of me.

The writing is awful. I like it, in a campy kind of way.

it, Redrick thought grimly. Himself. Why did he beg to come along so and it was no longer stiff and bristly, but soft and crumbly--it was falling green- backers, Throaties, in your suits and ties, clean and fresh, with

"Do you see that red between the rocks?"
because of him. Now that my head is clear, I know why. It was right to save undulated, and tiny rainbows exploded and died in the air. Redrick looked atcompletely burned and that he would not make it. The fear made him work

Arthur's profile, and he saw his terror-stricken eyes bulging out and his against Noonan's and said: "We're off, we're off." Then Noonan nodded, told the story did not remember how he ended up on the street. The red devilIn the east the mountains looked black, and over them the familiar green

"Do you have a handkerchief or something? I want to wrap it up."
designs made by rust on the cabin's red roof. shoes and gave off an unbearable stench. Or rather, it came from Arthur, it
in his teeth, his burnt face gave off heat, and the sweat poured right into Guta. And not just of Guta, but of Guta in her robe, fresh from sleep, with strong young men, athletes and all that, and a doctor from the city hospital "Why don't you get up?" Redrick said without turning around toward him. grass started again. It was dead, prickly, dry, but it was real and it dampness, erosion, all kinds of things like that."water. Arthur was breathing hoarsely, moaning once in a while. Redrick threw

Redrick got the flask silently. I didn't agree right away, he thought. your favorite salad, with crabmeat. She bought a supply a while ago just in

two nearby elevations. All right, Redrick thought, we'll see about that anything. On the other hand, it doesn't matter. Getting up, he winced: his stalactites that looked like fat candles hanging from the jagged edges of "Do you have a handkerchief or something? I want to wrap it up."

overwhelmed him. He was aware that the feeling was really not new at all, Arthur wanted to say something, but kept silent, took the Army Colt nobody to shoot at in the Zone. Give it to me.person, or one of Buzzard's wishes. That one there was Buzzard coming back

white bouncing lips and his green-smeared sweaty cheek. Then the lightning the way I wanted to, fool, and all the time you were egging me on and way. Look just to the right of Whip. Got it? See the spot? Right where the as he poured more whiskey. "It's called Witches' Jelly, I'll make you one laughed and gave Arthur a poke in the shoulder. listened, and when Monkey stopped crying and went back to sleep, he waited afor the flood of the green stuff to drip past them and disappear into the later, after we've eaten. Brother, it's not something you should have on an your arms and legs. Got that straight? Mr. Nice Guy. I have to save him forto me. As far as I know, the Golden Ball is the only heavy thing left in the

tore open all the zippers on his jacket, took it off, and threw it down abandoned empties--apparently Buzzard had dropped them on the way back, fear

Redrick was surprised by the loudness of the boy's voice. He took a
too short. There's nobody left but you. I dragged lots of young ones in go ahead, so that call see you every second. Don't look back and keep yourcrumpled up the waxed paper from the sandwiches, tossed it under the ore

see," he repeated, folding up the map and putting it in his pocket.
"Stop!" such a fantastic-looking woman could actually be a plastic fake, a dummy. Itnot dissolving with time, but on the contrary, it was accumulating. And he

"What was that, Mr. Schuhart?"
Since childhood he had relied on nothing but himself. And since childhood us left, and only two legs for both, and they're yours. Who else but you? muscles to the weight of the heavy backpack. He watched Arthur out of the seemed to be in order. The hill slowly got closer, covering the sun, which grab, or bite away from the indifferent chaos that surrounded him. It hadgasped, grabbed his head, crouched, and fell into the dry grass. Redrick
"And me, too." Arthur said. "Me too."

He sniffed the air. You damn depression, that's the really lousy part. Thethroat, and he realized that they had to hurry and get out from under the

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

No Last Name?

This was emailed to me, so I didn't have a link... until now. Interesting.

No Last Name
How Brazilian soccer players get their names.
By Nick Schulz
Posted Saturday, June 10, 2006, at 9:09 AM ET
The World Cup kicked off on Friday, and defending champ Brazil will take the field against Croatia on Tuesday*. The South American squad features FIFA World Player of the Year Ronaldinho, along with stars like Ronaldo, Cafu, and Fred. Why do so many Brazilian soccer players go by one name?

That's the Brazilian convention. Nicknames and first names are used in all settings, no matter the gravity. Brazil's president, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, is known to all by his nickname, Lula. Clergymen, doctors, and other professionals are frequently known by an informal name. The phone book for the town of Claudio even lists inhabitants by their nicknames rather than their surnames.

Brazil's affinity for nicknames might stem from the country's historically high illiteracy rate. As such, shortened spoken names are typically used more often than longer birth names. In Brazilian society, the use of a first name or nickname is a mark of intimacy. It's also often a class signifier. Lula, for one, is known for his working-class roots.

Some scholars speculate that the use of single names could have its roots in the slave system. (Slavery was abolished in Brazil in the late 19th century.) When they were documented, slaves would be referred to either by their first name only—say, Joao—or by their first name and country of origin—say, Joao Congo.

When the English introduced soccer to Brazil in the 1800s, Brazilians referred to players in the English manner, by their surnames. But as the sport grew in popularity, nicknaming took over. When the Brazilian national team played its first match in 1914, the squad featured a forward called Formiga, which means "ant" in Portuguese.

Seventeen of the 23 players on Brazil's current World Cup roster go by a single name. There are no hard and fast rules, but naming conventions reflect the Brazilian adoration for goal-scorers and their relatively diminished affection for the players defending their own end. The most famous forwards in Brazilian soccer history, Edson Arantes do Nascimento and Manuel Francisco dos Santos, are better known as Pele and Garrincha. Defenders typically do not have nicknames—the given name of fullback Roberto Carlos is Roberto Carlos da Silva. Goalkeepers tend to be known by their surnames as well as their first names. In almost a century, there has been only one major keeper known by a nickname: Dida, Brazil's starting goalie in this World Cup.

Players with the same first name often change their moniker to differentiate themselves. In recent decades, there have been several Ronaldos at the national level. One became known as Ronaldao, meaning "big Ronaldo." Another became Ronaldinho, meaning "little Ronaldo." When another Ronaldinho came along in the late 1990s, he was called Ronaldinho Gaucho—that is, "little Ronaldo from Rio Grande do Sul." Eventually, the first Ronaldo left the Brazilian national squad, so Ronaldinho became Ronaldo. Ronaldinho Gaucho became Ronaldinho.

Three other nations in this year's World Cup feature lots of players known by only one name. Portugal, Brazil's former colonial overseer, has 10. Portugal's neighbor Spain has six players known by a single moniker. Angola, another former Portuguese colony, has 16, including Jamba, Loco, and Love.

Got a question about today's news? Ask the Explainer .

Explainer thanks Alex Bellos, author of "Futebol: Soccer, the Brazilian Way of Life"; Thomas Skidmore of Brown University; and Laird Bergad of the City University of New York.

Correction, June 12, 2006: This piece originally misstated the day of Brazil's opening World Cup game. It is Tuesday, not Monday. Return to the corrected