"Michellaneous" Links, incl. Venice & Mythbusters!

It's been a while since I had time/stuff to post... and this morning I have a little bit of both! So here we go...

First of all, for everybody, Rick Steves writes about Venice's greatest institution next to Saint Mark's Basilica... the Venetian "pub crawl." (Funny thing is, he doesn't mention names of places, but from their descriptions I know exactly which ones he's talking about!) Then, the top crime neighborhood in the world isn't in Sao Paulo or Lagos. It's the Vatican!

Next, for Vippy Zippy, Economics in One Lesson!

For PlanetTom, the erstwhile Wesley Crusher recounts specific episodes of ST: TNG with tongue firmly in cheek at TV Squad.

For philosopher Marky-J, What We Don't Know and Mike Love's Geneaology of Influence, from "a philosophy buff who is researching data visualization, has developed an amazing Wikipedia hack... Genealogy of Influence allows you to visually trace the connections between the most influential writers, artists, philosophers, scientists, and mathematicians of Western culture." Lastly, but not leastly, Scientist develops caffeinated doughnuts!

My most recent entry for "Retired Facebook Quotes":

  • "Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one." - Albert Einstein
  • "The Brain is wider than the Sky-For- put them side by side-The one the other will containWith ease- and You- beside." - Emily Dickinson
  • "What if everything is an illusion and nothing exists? In that case, I definitely overpaid for my carpet" - Woody Allen
And the mega-galactic super-link of the day: EVERY Mythbusters Myth ON ONE PAGE!
(I like the 55 that were actually confirmed myself!!)

Newsflash: The March of History Jaywalks Instead!

Good friend PlanetTom pointed out the following news items for me!
Looks like it's a good thing I didn't go to the AHA this year!! But wait... maybe the story's already revisionist?

I sort of suspect - like the good historian I am - that the truth lies somewhere in between these two original accounts! (Thanks for sharing 'em both, Tom!)

Still, I think it would make a great episode of "Cops", don't you?

Next time on "Cops," the valiant officers of the Atlanta PD take down Simon Schama, Jared Diamond and David McCullough for LOITERING!

("Bad boys, bad boys! Whatcha gonna do? Whatcha gonna do when they come for you?!")

Lazy Day Links for Friends

  • QUOTE OF THE DAY: "George Orwell once said: '[Political] prose consists less and less of words chosen for the sake of their meaning, and more and more of phrases tacked together like the sections of a prefabricated hen-house.'" (via The Presurfer for Unca Bill)

  • "A fantastic article over at "The Neurophilosopher's Blog" on augmented cognition - technology that integrates with our cognitive abilities to extend our capabilities (via Mind Hacks). Plus, at right, a t-shirt for Beatles and Darwin fan and philosophe Marky-J (via Boing Boing).

At left, family dog Bella enjoys a little lounging on my sister's bed over Christmas... They don't call the bed (and the dog) queens for nothing!

Newsflash: Venice Actually Ancient Roman?!

For devotees of Venetian history, this news is rather earth-shattering... (or, at least, myth-shattering!)

"A coin, accidentally dropped nineteen centuries ago, may rewrite the history of Venice. The small yet refined bronze piece was found a few steps from the Basilica della Salute, and it was unearthed during excavation of the court of Palazzo Genovese, which is situated on the Grand Canal between the Guggenheim Collection and the Abbazia of S. Gregorio. The coin's face depicts Antinous, the favourite lover of the emperor Hadrian, and it is the most ancient Smyrna-minted coin found in Northern Italy. It dates back to 130 A.D. and, thus, gives practical support to the theories of Wladimiro Dorigo, the great historian of Venice who, unfortunately, died a few months ago. In his studies about the origins of Venice, Dorigo believed that the first Venetians settled the area in the second century after Christ."

Retired Quotes from Facebook

Time to retire these latest Facebook quotes... but to commemorate them one last time before I do! (Some could seem familiar, since they have already appeared on "MMC"...)
  • "Things ain't what they used to be and never were." -Will Rogers
    "Isn't it strange that we talk least about the things we think about most?" -Charles Lindbergh
  • "Two weaknesses leaning together create a strength. Therefore the half of the world leaning against the other becomes firm." -Leonardo da Vinci
  • 'Be not afraid of growing slowly; be afraid only of standing still.' - Chinese proverb
  • "Without new experiences, something inside of us sleeps. the sleeper must awaken." -Frank Herbert
  • "The world is not respectable; it is mortal, tormented, confused, deluded forever; but it is shot through with beauty, with love, with glints of courage and laughter; and in these, the spirit blooms." -George Santayana
  • "Look to this day for it is life. In its brief course lie all the realities and truths of existence, the joy of growth, the glory of action, the splendor of beauty... Today, well lived, makes every yesterday a memory of happiness and every tomorrow a vision of hope. Look well, therefore, to this day..." - Ancient Sanskrit Proverb
  • "May the sun bring you new energy by day, may the moon softly restore you by night, may the rain wash away your worries, may the breeze blow new strength into your being. May you walk through the world and know its beauty all the days of your life." - Apache Blessing
  • "If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the precipitate." --Stephen Wright

Happy Epiphany! (Plus Links for Friends)

Happy Epiphany, Everybody!!

Today's the day that tradition commemorates the arrival of the Three Wise Men to venerate newborn baby Jesus...

In celebration, January 6th was always the day Italians traditionally exchanged presents in the spirit of the ones given by the Magi. Nothing so fancy, though... This morning you would awake to find your stocking filled by the Befana, or the good winter witch. As you can see, apparently she works in a union and has to employ unusual delivery methods in Venice! (Actually, the photo at left is taken from the annual "Regatta della Befana," or Venetian rowing contest with old gondoliers dressed up like the good witches...)

Newsflash: Climate Change Brings Tropical Disease back to Venice!

Disturbing news! In the wake of global warming, "at the southern edge of the globe's temperate area... Italy is being particularly hit by the collapse of the climatic equilibrium."

Not only has malaria returned to Italy, but also "tick-borne encephalitis, a virus which attacks the nerve system, is also on the way back. While only 18 cases had been reported before 1993, 100 have been since, mostly around Venice..." [more at The Guardian Unlimited]

Frank Lloyd Wright in Venice?

By now, Venice's Grand Canal is iconic. From Italian restaurant murals (like at our local "Rose's Old World Restaurant & Pizzeria" in Windham, Maine) to dime-store art (more on that forthcoming!), nearly everybody seems to have an image of the Canal Grande in their minds' eye. And that image doesn't exactly jive with modern architecture!

But things were nearly different... Back in the 1950s, famed American architect Frank Lloyd Wright (creator of innumerable, breathtakingly innovative structures, of which I've seen Fallingwater & Taliesin West, just for starters!) nearly built a dormitory for IUAV, Venice's architectural university. It was planned to be right on the Grand Canal on the site of the rather unassuming "Palazzetto Masieri" there now, next to the modern-day Venetian fire station and near the splendid Ca' Foscari, the 15th-century seat of today's UNIVE, the University of Venice. As chronicled in the Time Magazine article of the day, "Wright or Wrong," however, international outcry put the kabash on the provocative project almost immediately.

I can't help but wish that things might have gone differently... I find the mere idea of its design (pictured at right) of a "four-story structure of dark-veined marble with colored glass from the famed factories of nearby Murano," keeping "the balconies for which Venice is famous, but separated... with sheer, vertical protrusions which would give the building definitely modern lines" and toying with its own reflections in the waters below (not unlike Fallingwater) tantilizes my imagination with such a daring, alternative vision of Venice's Grand Canal!
UPDATE: I couldn't find any picture of the current Palazzetto Masieri available online, so here's one from the absolutely splendid book by Daniele Resini called Venice. The Grand Canal (which is actually an amazing continuous photo of both sides of the Canal Grande that runs over 27 yards long!) Palazzetto Masieri is the brown little palace that's the second on the right.
I have to admit though that the model I just found that's a liberal interpretation of Wright's plans for the Masieri Hostel doesn't quite inspire me to such flights of fancy as much as does the original architectural drawing above. Nor really does the slide show for the redesigned interior of the old Palazzetto Masieri, which would later be created by an Italian architect influenced by Wright, Paolo (erratum: please see the comments below) Carlo Scarpa. So much for innovation for innovation's sake...

Artistic Coffee and Other Links for Friends

Venice in Recent News

Just a few of the "Michellaneous" tidbits about Venice in this week's news...

"You know you live in New England when..."

Along the lines of the classic "You Know You're From Maine When..." comes the equally true and even funnier meme, "You Know You're From New England When..." passed along to me by JAM. Enjoy!!

  • Your local Dairy Queen is closed from September through May.
  • Someone in a Home Depot store offers you assistance and they don't work there.
  • You've worn shorts and a parka at the same time.
  • You've had a lengthy telephone conversation with someone who dialed a wrong number.
  • When "vacation" means going anywhere south of New York City for the weekend.
  • You measure distance in hours.
  • You know several people who have hit a deer more than once.
  • You have switched from "heat" to "A/C" in the same day and back again.
  • You can drive 75 mph through 2 feet of snow during a raging blizzard without flinching.
  • You install security lights on your house and garage, but leave both unlocked.
  • You carry jumpers in your car and your wife knows how to use them.
  • You design your kid's Halloween costume to fit over a snowsuit.
  • The speed limit on the highway is 55 mph -- you're going 80 and everybody is passing you!
  • Driving is better in the winter because the potholes are filled with snow.
  • You have more miles on your snow blower than your car.
  • You find 10 degrees "a little chilly."
  • You know all 4 seasons: almost winter, winter, still winter and road construction.
  • You actually get these jokes and pass them on to other friends from New England!

Free Software Giveaway of the Day!

As they say in Italy, "I know my chickens!" (That is, in English, "I know somebody like the back of my own hand"...)

In the land where, according to Uncle Henry's, it's often free for the taking if you can haul it away (lots of stuff, but usually manure and - I swear I am not making this up - "special needs cats"), my Mainer chickens - as well as some friends farther afield - just love "free"!

That's why you can't beat the Free Software Giveway of the Day! Each and every day (for 24 hours and for 24 hours only!) you can download and install (the only catch... You must install the software during the stated giveaway period!) FREE, FULL versions of programs you'd otherwise have to pay as much as $100 for! And they give away all kinds of different programs, but it's particularly good for various multimedia applications!! (Plus games at game.givewayoftheday.com...)

What's the giveaway for today? (And check back... It'll automatically update every day!)

Giveaway of the Day

Don't miss it and wind up having to pay for something like it later!

How Italians Tell Time?

Not exactly a common method, but of course that's where the punchline lies... (Which you can pretty much get even if you don't know Italian!) Enjoy!!

Funny Photos of Art

Plus, don't miss the Souvenirs photo slideshow at Flickr...

Photos of kitsch souvenirs at the locations they were made to commemorate. Pure genius!

(via In4mador!)

Exam Bloopers

A couple of these were just so priceless that it's a shame to let them languish forever alone in never-again-read blue books, so I'm sharing one of the "joys" of the profession. Enjoy!

About comparing and contrasting Alexander the Great, Augustus and Charlemagne:
  • "The only differences between them were that they lived in different eras. They all had different causes of deaths either from poison or a virus. They all also were from different regions of the world."
  • "Augustus was sort of the same, the only difference was I really don't know. I hope I pass [illegible]."
On the persecutions of Christians in Ancient Rome:
  • "Despite the size of Christianity as a religion in today's world it was not always accepted. Think about it. Christ was hung on a cross. Yes, it was he did suffer for our sins but that seems a pretty clear picture to me that his religion was not accepted."
  • "Christianity also played a role in [ancient] Roman art and architecture with the development of the Sistine Chapel and the Parthenon."