Super Earth is a Minecraft site/server, I went on to take a look and I didn’t get it, so whatever. From the looks of it, it’s a structured based community with guidelines and rules, since they said I couldn’t join if I had a ‘vulgar name’. I’m willing to bet “Gr4sshole” is going to be considered “vulgar” so I decided not to join. I have an account on the Minecraft forums so if you want to talk to me there, I’m PlatinumBerlitz.


Let’s get to today’s stories shall we?


He was old, but not ancient, the man next to us at the delicatessen. It was 1973. My then girlfriend (now wife) and I had ordered dinner and this old guy, sitting by himself, seemed lonely, so we got talking and he told us how he had grown up in St. Petersburg, Russia, and that when he was a boy, his next-door neighbor was a famous man, a really famous man.

We asked, “Who was it?” And he said, “Have you ever heard of the mad monk, Rasputin?”

I knew of Rasputin. He’d lived, I’d thought, in a Russian palace with the Romanov czar, Nicholas II, and had magically healed the czar’s son from a supposedly incurable disease, then gained great sway over the Romanov family, and then, in a ghastly scene, was shot, clubbed and poisoned to death by a group of noblemen just before the start of the Russian Revolution. In my mind, all this happened in a different age. The pictures I’d seen showed him with a 19th century beard, dressed in robes.

How could somebody talking to me in a diner on 7th Avenue have also talked to somebody that ancient? It just didn’t seem possible. Yet the old guy said, “Rasputin and my dad were friends. He used to come over for tea.”

I thought about it. Rasputin was assassinated in 1916. A 70-year-old man in 1973 would have been 13 when Rasputin was alive. It was not inconceivable that this guy had actually met Rasputin


Human Wormholes

There are people who live long enough to create a link — a one-generation link — to figures from what feels like a distant past, and their presence among us shrinks history. When “Long Ago” suddenly becomes “So I said to him …,” long ago jumps closer.

There are many examples of people who shrink history this way. The blogger Jason Kottke has been collecting examples. He calls them “human wormholes,” because these people help us leap across space/time. Here are my favorites.

1. Lincoln Assassination Eyewitness Goes On TV In 1956

In 1956, on the game show I’ve Got A Secret, host Garry Moore brought on 96-year-old Samuel Seymour. Here’s his secret: He was sitting in Ford’s theater the night Lincoln was shot. He was 5 years old and remembered John Wilkes Booth bounding from Lincoln’s box onto the stage. Here he is on television, describing what he saw:

2. Oliver Wendell Holmes Shakes Hands With Both Presidents Adams And Kennedy

Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes lived long enough (1841-1935) to shake hands with both John Quincy Adams (b. 1767) and a young John F. Kennedy (d. 1963). One man, says Kottke, “spanning 200 years of American history.”

Tony Hiss, son of Alger Hiss, says that when his dad clerked for Oliver Wendell Holmes, he remembers Justice Holmes saying that as a kid, his grandmother used to talk of the day at the beginning of the American Revolution when she was 5 years old and stood at her dad’s front window on Beacon Hill in Boston and watched “rank after rank of Redcoats marching through town.” So that’s grandma to grandson to us. Two bounces.

3. President John Tyler Has Two Grandsons Who Are Still Alive!

John Tyler (1790 - 1862), the 10th President of the United States of America, circa 1841.

Hulton Archive/Getty Images

President John Tyler, born in 1790, tenth president of the United States, has two grandsons who are reportedly still alive today. One, Harrison Tyler, lives in Virginia and recently gave an interview to New York magazine. He was asked how someone born in 1790 could still have living grandchildren. Said Harrison:

Well, [President Tyler] was a good man! [laughs] Both my grandfather — the president — and my father, were married twice. And they had children by their first wives. And their first wives died, and they married again and had more children. And my father was 75 when I was born, his father was 63 when he was born. John Tyler had 15 children — eight by his first wife, seven by his second wife — so it does get very confusing.

Does he ever tell tourists at President Tyler’s home (his, too) that he’s a grandson? And do people believe him? Said he:

I don’t know, I don’t bring it up.

4. Civil War Widows Live (And Collect Pensions) After 2000

Three Civil War widows, Maudie Hopkins, Alberta Martin and Gertrude Janeway, lived into the 21st century. Two of them collected their husbands’ pensions until their deaths.

Alberta Martin, for example, married a Confederate veteran when he was 81, she 21. They married in 1927, after which she shared a $50-a-month Confederate pension, guaranteed by the State of Alabama. When her husband died and she’d remarried, the checks stopped coming. Alabama, presumably, had lost track of her, then presumed her (and all other Confederate widows) dead, but with assistance from the Sons of Confederate Veterans, Alberta’s pension rights were restored in 1996, she was awarded back-pay and she continued to collect her husband’s pension until she died in May, 2004, 139 years after the Civil War had ended.

The last known Civil War widow, Alberta Martin, in a nursing home in Enterprise, Ala., on Monday April 7, 2003.

My first real job in New York City, I worked in the city’s Municipal Building, and down the hall from my office was a room reserved for Civil War veterans. That room was always dark, the door always locked, nobody visited. The war, at that time, was 100 years past. Then one day a crew of workmen showed up and began removing what was inside: a bunch of regimental flags, photographs, ceremonial cups, badges — this gathering place no longer gathered, so it, and all the things in it, were carted off, I suppose, to a museum. I thought: Now, our Civil War is over. Demographically over. It has stopped touching the living.

But I didn’t know about Maudie, Alberta and Gertrude. They weren’t over — so through them, the past dangled into the present for another … wow … 40 years.


Next up, gay marriage….notthisshitagain.jpg

State lawmakers pass same-sex marriage bill



OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) – Washington state lawmakers voted to approve gay marriage Wednesday, setting the stage for the state to become the seventh in the nation to allow same-sex couples to wed.

The action comes a day after a federal appeals court declared California’s ban on gay marriage unconstitutional, saying it was a violation of the civil rights of gay and lesbian couples.

The Washington House passed the bill on a 55-43 vote. Supporters in the public viewing galleries stood and cheered as many on the Democratic side of the House floor hugged after the vote.

The state Senate approved the measure last week, and the bill now goes to Democratic Gov. Chris Gregoire, who is expected to sign it into law next week.

Gregoire issued a statement after the vote, saying it was “a major step toward completing a long and important journey to end discrimination based on sexual orientation.”

Democratic Rep. Jamie Pedersen, a gay lawmaker from Seattle who has sponsored gay rights bills in the House for several years, saying domestic partnership laws as the state has had for years, are “a pale and inadequate substitute for marriage.”

Pedersen, during his remarks on the House floor, read from Tuesday’s ruling by the San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, citing a section that stated “marriage is the name that society gives to the relationship that matters most between two adults.”

Several Republicans argued against the bill, saying that it goes against the tradition of marriage. Rep. Jay Rodne said the measure “severs the cultural, historical and legal underpinnings of the institution of marriage.”

Despite the action, gay couples can’t begin walking down the aisle just yet.

The proposal would take effect 90 days after the session ends next month but opponents have promised to fight gay marriage with a ballot measure that would allow voters to overturn the legislative approval.

If opponents gather enough signatures to take their fight to the ballot box, the law would be put on hold pending the outcome of a November election. Opponents must turn in more than 120,000 signatures by June 6 if they want to challenge the proposed law. Otherwise gay couples could wed starting in June.

Two Republicans crossed the aisle and voted in favor of the bill. Three Democrats voted against it. Democrats hold a 56-42 majority in the House.

Washington state has had domestic partnership laws since 2007, and more than a dozen other states have provisions, ranging from civil unions to gay marriage, supporting same-sex couples.

Gay marriage is legal in New York, Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont and Washington D.C.

Lawmakers in New Jersey are expected to vote on gay marriage next week, and Maine could see a gay marriage proposal on the November ballot.

Proposed amendments to ban gay marriage will be on the ballots in North Carolina in May and in Minnesota in November.

A three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit ruled Tuesday against California’s voter-approved same-sex marriage ban, known as Proposition 8.

The panel gave gay marriage opponents time to appeal the 2-1 decision before ordering the state to allow same-sex weddings to resume. The judges also said the decision only applies to California, even though the court has jurisdiction in nine western states.

Lawyers for the coalition of conservative religious groups that sponsored Proposition 8 said they have not decided if they will seek a new 9th Circuit hearing or file an appeal directly to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Washington state’s momentum for same-sex marriage has been building and the debate has changed significantly since 1998, when lawmakers passed Washington’s Defense of Marriage Act banning gay marriage. The constitutionality of that law ultimately was upheld by the state Supreme Court in 2006. But earlier that year, a gay civil rights measure passed after nearly 30 years of failure, signaling a change in the Legislature.

The quick progression of domestic partnership laws in the state came soon after, with a domestic partnership law in 2007, and two years of expansion that culminated in 2009 with “everything but marriage” expansion that was upheld by voters.

In October, a University of Washington poll found that an increasing number of people in the state support same-sex marriage. About 43 percent of respondents said they support gay marriage, up from 30 percent in the same poll five years earlier. Another 22 percent said they support giving identical rights to gay couples, without calling the unions “marriage.”

If a challenge to gay marriage law was on the ballot, 55 percent said they would vote to uphold the law. And 38 percent said they would vote to reject a gay marriage law.

Same-sex marriage also has the backing of several prominent Pacific Northwest businesses, including Microsoft, Nike and Starbucks.

The gay marriage bill is Senate Bill 6239.


And then there’s this dumbass who decided to get arrested by the same policeman….no comment.

Woman arrested for drunken driving 2 straight mornings by same policeman


A 21-year-old South Heidelberg Township woman was arrested two consecutive early mornings by the same policeman for drunken driving in the township, officials said Wednesday.

Emily L. Beckett of the 400 block of Omicron Place was arraigned early Wednesday before Senior District Judge Richard A. Gatti in Reading Central Court. She remained free to await further court action on two counts of drunken driving.

Patrolman Kyle D. Patton filed the charges at South Heidelberg District Judge Ann L. Young’s office on Jan. 31 after he received blood-alcohol contents results for Beckett.

According to court records:

On Jan. 21 at 12:07 a.m., Patton saw Beckett weaving sharply as she was southbound on Krick Lane near Caramist Drive. She failed a field sobriety test. Her blood-alcohol content was 0.22 percent, nearly three times the legal limit of 0.08 percent.

The next day about 2:30 a.m., Patton saw Beckett turn westbound from Krick Lane, spinning the car tires as she accelerated toward Wernersville. She crossed into the opposite lane at a curve at the entrance to the Westgate Manor subdivision.

Patton turned on his emergency lights when Beckett stopped on Lincoln Drive, but she drove away and eventually stopped in front of her residence.

Beckett refused to roll down the passenger-side window to talk to Patton and yelled at him: “I didn’t do anything. This can’t happen again.”

She refused a field sobriety test. She had a blood-alcohol content of 0.30 percent, nearly four times the legal limit.


Much fail to be had there.

And finally your daily sankaku dose.


China Menaced by Exploding Coins

Author: Artefact


A small child has reportedly fallen victim to China-quality coinage, with the currency exploding in his hands for reasons unknown.

The exploding money was encountered by a 3-year-old boy in China’s Fujian province, when it blew up in his hands.

According to his mother, he had just learned how to pay for the small rides at local shops, and she had given him a 1 yuan coin for this purpose.

No sooner had she taken her eyes off him as he went to play on the rides than she heard a loud bang and a scream, and came running over to find the boy surrounded by smoke and the remains of the coin on the floor.

The boy escaped with minor burns to his hand.

Similar incidents involving small children, exploding currency and electric vehicles were reported in 2007 and 2008, leading some to speculate that some combination of electrical mishap and dubious coinage may have been at fault.

Online there is some glee at this latest entry to China’s explosive hall of fame:

“Explosive inflation!”

“The bubble is finally bursting!”

“What sort of monetary policy do you call this?”

“What the hell is going on in China…”

“Who could have imagined this?”

“Next up, exploding notes. China, you can do it!”

“How can a lump of iron or nickel explode like this?”

“Fake coins and explosive ingredients… what a country.”

“This is China’s version of a financial big bang.”

“You can only look forward to hearing what will explode next, can’t you?”


That’s all for tonight, I will see you again next time. Good night everyone.