The Town Scryer is a mixed bag of humor, socio-political observations and ephemera from the perspective of a eclectic Pagan veteran of the counter-culture.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Not Your Average "Help Wanted" Ad

     New South Wales, Australia is looking for a special kind of "secret shopper". They are looking to hire a man to visit the various establishments suspected of being illegal brothels and have protected sex, then testify to that in court.

    Applicants should have a private investigator's license and should not have a wife.

    Pay starts at $70,000 a year.

    The ad in question:

"Training will be provided to the right person"?

Be seeing you.


A matter of Perspective

Be seeing you.


Monday, January 30, 2012

The Panda of the Plant Kingdom

The Berlin Botanical Garden has successfully sprouted and is growing the extremely rare Coco de Mer Palm, which is only found on two islands in the Maldives. The unusual seed of the palm, pictured above, is the largest known on Earth at up to 44 pounds.

Because the weather in Berlin is so much colder than its native clime the soil it is rooted in must be heated.

For much more see: Der Spiegel

Be seeing you.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Fairy Tales Can Come True, It Can Happen To You

    Back in the '90s...Wow! It feels really strange to say, "Back in the '90s".
     *Sigh* About a dozen years ago I used to  meet with a group of friends every other weekend and play a paper and dice role-playing game called, Cyberpunk. It was set in a dystopian future in which megacorporations had come to pretty much dominate the government...and everything else. The only thing that stood against them were hackers and cyberwarriors.

     Pretty far out, huh?

Lately it sometimes seems like the only people on the side of justice are a bunch of people who hang out at 4-Chan and a fugitive hacker named Julian Assange. It is all more than a little chilling to wake up and find the fantasy world you played in outside your door. No one really wants to fight a fire breathing dragon. The dragon has a nasty habit of winning
So raise a glass to Wikileaks and Anonymous. They may be all that stands against the night. 

The other game I used to play was Call of Cthulhu.

I hear they've discovered life beneath the ice in Antarctica.

Be seeing you.


Saturday, January 28, 2012

McDonalds, Burger King and Taco Bell Stop Selling "Pink Slime"

    Beef Products, inc. developed a process for turning fatty beef trimmings into hamburger filler years ago. Because the trimmings are at higher risk for e. coli and salmonella contamination, the trimmings are treated with an ammonia solution to kill bacteria. (Yum!)  For the last decade the filler, called "pink slime" by one microbiologist at the U.S.D.A., has been added to a growing segment of our fast food. At its peak BPI boasted that 70% of all fast food beef contained their product.

    Then the press started covering it and the pink slime was out of the bag, so to speak.

Now the good news is that McDonalds, Burger King and Taco Bell have all announced that they have ceased to use the discredited slurry.

The bad news is that this has only cut the total sales of the pink filler by 25%.

Be seeing you.

For more see: foodsafetynews and nytimes.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Protected By Lions


     In Ethiopia a twelve year-old girl was abducted and beaten by seven men who were trying to force her to marry one of them. She had been missing for about a week when she was found by police and concerned relatives. When they found her, she was guarded by a pride of lions.

     “They stood guard until we found her and then they just left her like a gift and went back into the forest,” Police Sgt. Wondimu said.

     It appears that the lions heard her crying, chased away her attackers and guarded her until she was rescued. Naturalists speculate that perhaps her cries sounded like a cub in distress and that this explains why she was rescued rather than devoured.

     That doesn't explain why they surrendered her though.

     Be seeing you.

     Source: msnbc

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Cuban Lung Cancer Vaccine

According to Xinhuanet, medical researchers in Cuba have developed a vaccine for lung cancer.

The CimaVax-EGF vaccine, as a result of a 25-year research into diseases related to tobacco smoking, has been developed by researchers and scientists at the Center of Molecular Immunology (CIM) in Havana.

The active drug ingredient in the vaccine is based on "a protein we all have when cancer is uncontrolled." "The epidermal growth factor is related to all cell proliferation," said Gisela Gonzalez, head researcher of the project.
"The drug could turn the cancer into a manageable, chronic disease by generating antibodies against the proteins which triggered the uncontrolled cell proliferation," she said.

    The drug is not a preventative vaccine, such as the ones we are all given in childhood. It would be administered to patients with advanced stage cancer after conventional treatments have not been effective. It would then be used to attack the mechanism that causes the uncontrolled growth that is a defining characteristic of cancer.

     She said the CimaVax-EGF has gone through clinical studies and trials in over 1,000 patients across the island and is currently distributed free of charge in all hospitals of the Caribbean island nation.

Gonzalez also said researchers at the CIM planned to use the same principle of the CimaVax-EGF in treating other cancerous tumors such as prostate, uterus and breast cancers.

Be seeing you.

Source: xinhuanet

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Giving Your Valentine a Slyder

     This year why not treat that special someone to a romantic Valentine's Day candle-lit dinner at White Castle Hamburgers?
     According to Harper's List that is exactly what over 6,400 couples are expected to do this year. White Castle has been offering this option for romance on a budget since 1991 and, according to their press release, "this has become an annual tradition for many couples,” said Jamie Richardson, vice president of corporate relations. “It’s been a huge hit because a lot of our loyal customers – fondly known as ‘Cravers’ – either met in a White Castle Restaurant or have other enjoyable memories they like to celebrate here.”

     From the same source:
     “At White Castle, you can indulge your special someone’s craving for a romantic dinner without breaking your budget,” Richardson said. He noted that Sack Meal #3 provides a dinner for two – complete with 10 of the distinctive Slyder® hamburgers, two 21-oz. soft drinks and two regular French fries – for as little as $10.49. “It’s just one example of the value we’ve offered customers since we began selling our famous steam-grilled hamburgers for a nickel in 1921.”

    Note to Hollywood: I have a great idea for the next Harold and Kumar movie!

     Be seeing you.

"The Suntan That Lasts"

(below) V.I.P. observers watching a bomb test in the Pacific, 1961—’the sun-tan that lasts’:

Yes, people really used to be this foolish.

Be seeing you.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Hell Riders

Every year the village of San Bartolome de Pinares, about 100km from Madrid, Spain, holds the Luminarias Festival in honor of Saint Anthony Abad, the patron Saint of domestic animals. As part of the festival, which is held on the eve of Saint Anthony's Day in January, horses are ridden leaping through flames. Although it is claimed that the animals are never harmed, animal welfare groups are not exactly fans of the practice.

Be seeing you.


A.M.A. Suggests Compulsory Vaccine Trials

In an article in Virtual Mentor: The A.M.A. Journal of Ethics, after noting that it is mostly the poor who participate in medical trials, and that it is hard to get enough volunteers, the suggestion is made that medical trial participation be made compulsory.

    " If progression of promising vaccines from the lab to the clinic is to remain unaffected and financial inducement is an ethically unacceptable solution to the recruitment shortage, other strategies need to be considered. Compulsory involvement in vaccine studies is one alternative solution that is not as outlandish as it might seem on first consideration. Many societies already mandate that citizens undertake activities for the good of society; in several European countries registration for organ-donation has switched from “opt-in” (the current U.S. system) to “opt-out” systems (in which those who do not specifically register as nondonors are presumed to consent to donation) [10], and most societies expect citizens to undertake jury service when called upon. In these examples, the risks or inconvenience to an individual are usually limited and minor. Mandatory involvement in vaccine trials is therefore perhaps more akin to military conscription, a policy operating today in 66 countries. In both conscription and obligatory trial participation, individuals have little or no choice regarding involvement and face inherent risks over which they have no control, all for the greater good of society."

     Subsequent paragraphs note somewhat regretfully that this practice might go against the Declaration of  Human Rights. There is discussion of default "opt in" as opposed to "opt-out" and other means of producing more test subjects. 

     Similar discussions were had at Tuskegee, I am sure.

     Be seeing you.



Thursday, January 19, 2012

The Next Speaker of the House

    It is no secret that Speaker John Boehner has little, if any, support in the Tea Party faction of the party. Many have wondered if he will be able to keep the position if the Republicans manage to retain a majority in the House. Fortunately, I have found the perfect replacement. This man embodies all of the characteristics that have made Eric Cantor and Mitch McConnell the darlings of the Far Right.

    From Der Spiegel's coverage of the Italian cruise ship wreck:

     "On Friday evening, Schettino had rung his former boss, Mario Polombo, whom he admired, and had told him he planned to dedicate the next maneuver to him -- he would sail the ship as close to the island as possible during the approach to the port of Giglio, continuing what appears to have been a traditional spectacle to greet the islanders. Polombo had told him he wasn't on the island to see it. Then, according to newspaper La Stampa, Schettino had asked him how deep the water was -- shortly after that, the ship rammed the granite rock.
Since then, all Schettino's explanation seem unbelievable. First he claimed the offending rock was not recorded on any maritime chart. Then he told investigators and journalists that he had been the last to leave the ship. Now he says he accidentally fell into a lifeboat."

 The report made by the investigating judge said that after Schettino left the ship he made "no serious attempt" to return "even to the vicinity" of the Costa Concordia. He "watched the ship sink," she said.

   Be seeing you.


Tuesday, January 17, 2012

In support of the blackout

  The instructions for redirecting blogger to the protest blackout page are a bit daunting. Rather than risk mucking up my blog beyond easy repair I am choosing to express my solidarity with those who oppose SOPA.

    Please. Call your Congressmen and make your voice known. I have followed politics for a long time and I assure you, every Congressional staffer knows that every person who calls to voice their opinion represents DOZENS, sometimes HUNDREDS who agree but did not call.


Toasted Toddlers

From a South American ad campaign for chocolates with Jack Daniel's filling.

Be seeing you.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Bring Out Your Dead

One of the under-reported consequences of the recession that never seems to end is an overflow at the county morgue. The problem isn't that more people are dying...not yet. The problem is that people who can't afford their house payments and the long-term unemployed often cannot afford a funeral when death strikes a loved one. A sudden expense of thousands of dollars for just a plot and casket, often on the heels of crippling medical bills is just beyond the means of the poor and the former middle class. The extended family is all too often no better off. 

As a result bodies are going unclaimed in increasing numbers with the result that they are, sometimes literally, piling up at the county morgue, where they must be held for a mandatory period, usually a month or more, before they may be cremated or buried in potter's field, depending on local ordinances. In the larger cities this has been a problem for over two years. Cremation of the unclaimed indigent costs about $350. In Cook County, Illinois two changes in policy combined to cause horrendous over-crowding at the morgue. 

First, a county ordinance was changed to require individual burial for fetuses. The morgue was forced to store them while special smaller boxes were designed and built. Then, the state cut $13,000,000 in funding from the indigent burial program. Now the morgue that was designed for 300 bodies is storing about 500, counting children.

The refrigeration is unable to handle the increased load.

There are a lot of places that state and local taxes are spent that most of us never think about.

Be seeing you.

For more see: suntimes wishtv and latimes

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Man Drowns Self in Whiskey Vat

   A 46 year old father of two who was a senior employee at the Glenfiddich distillery in Scotland committed suicide by throwing himself into a 16 foot-high vat used in the early stages of fermentation. A rescue was immediately attempted, but bey the time the other workers were able to remove the victim, a Mr. Brian Eattles, from the 50,000 liter vat, he was dead.

    The tank, called a washback vat, was filled with a mixture of water and yeast. The distillery, which is a popular tourist attraction, closed to the public on the following day out of respect for the employee of 23 years.

    His widow had celebrated her birthday on the day before the man took his life.


Be seeing you

Friday, January 13, 2012

The 99% As Art

If you look at this installation by Do Ho Suh at the Lehmann Maupin gallery from a few feet away, it doesn’t look like much — just a few square feet of glass floor…

If you bend down and take a closer look...

Seen from the side, the message becomes clear...

It's a metaphor.

Be seeing you.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Plagiarism? There's Am App For That!

Reposted from the source:

Thunt of the webcomic “Goblins” made me, and several other webcomics, aware of a Facebook app someone created that scrapes our sites’ content, reposts it without our permission, and - the part the really pisses me off - encourages people to donate to our comics via a link/Google Checkout account we’ve not approved or are linked with.
See the area in the red circle?  ”Keep the Something Positive app alive.”  We webcartoonists get none of that.  That all goes to the guy who set the app up - apparently someone named Lance Strish.  No link back to the webcomics he’s taken from.  No, “Hey, be sure to support the artists.”  Nothing.
This shit happens all the time in Apple’s “We’re Too Busy Counting Money to Have Quality Control” App Store.  Now webcartoonists get to deal with it on Facebook, too.
If you enjoy a webcomic - or anything - on the web, please don’t give money to the people who make apps that scrape their content without their permission.  Give it to the actual people who make the stuff you like.  If you see an app and aren’t sure if it’s “official” or not, ask the creator, but honestly, if it WAS official, the creator would have plugged it on their site.
A good thing to be aware of.

Be seeing you

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Hair of the Dog

    A British pub, the Brandling Villa in Newcastle, has begun offering a pint for the canine companions of their customers so that they won't feel left out of things. The brew in question has a meat flavor added to the more traditional ingredients, which would be a bit of a nasty surprise if one were  to accidentally grab the wrong bottle.

    " It has gone down really well with the local dog population and the Brandling Villa had to reorder fresh stock after the first 48 bottles ran out in less than a fortnight. But ironically, manager Dave Carr’s own dog, beagle Franco, doesn’t like it. "

     In addition to the beer, the pub also offers a dinner menu for dogs as well, including such fare as Sunday roast with cat-flavored gravy.

    No, I am sure the humane society would never allow that

     More at Sunday Sun

    Be seeing you.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Jaw-droppingly Offensive Ad

    The founder of a fitness center in Dubai has offered up the usually tepid apology that is so well known in the political arena when he was called to account for this shockingly tasteless ad on the center's facebook page

featuring the railroad tracks leading to the Nazi concentration camp at Auschwitz.

     Mr Parkinson, the British founder of the gym, said he was sorry for using the image. “I apologize if I have offended anyone with the campaign. That was certainly not my intention when we created it,” he said. “You put strong ideas across, and if they’ve been poorly received then I apologize.”

      Since the poster appeared under the heading, “New Poster Campaign – aka Politically Correct”,  one can be forgiven for being a bit skeptical about his denial of intent to offend.

   For more see: thenational

   Be seeing you.

Excuse Me Earth Person...

   My favorite headline of the Week:


White House Denies CIA Teleported Obama to Mars

     Andrew D. Basiago and William Stillings insist that they once served as “chrononauts” at DARPA's behest, traversing the boundaries of time and space. They swear: A youthful Barack Obama was one of them. As “Barry Soetero,” the 19-year-old Obama was one of 10 youths selected to secretly teleport to and from Mars. Regina Dugan, the director of Darpa, was another member. 

    This would, of course, explain how he was able to forge his own birth certificate. Time travel is handy for that sort of thing. 

     In a statement made Sept 20, 2011, Mr. Basiago confirmed Mr. Obama’s co-participation in the 1980 Mars training class, stating:  “Barry Soetoro, a student at Occidental College, was in my Mars training class under Major Ed Dames at The College of the Siskiyous in Weed, California in 1980. That fact has been corroborated by one of my other classmates, Brett Stillings. Two years later, when he was taller, thinner, more mature, a better listener, using the name ‘Barack Obama,’ and attending a different college, Columbia University, we crossed paths again in Los Angeles and I didn't recognize him as the person that I had been trained with in the Mars program and encountered on the surface of Mars. In fact, doing so would have been virtually impossible in any case, because measures had been taken to block our later memories of Mars shortly after we completed our training in 1980.”

     For much, much more see: exopolitics and dangerroom

      Be seeing you.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

If Aliens Monitor Our Broadcasts...

    They must be totally convinced that our reproductive cycle somehow involves claw-footed bathtubs.

Be seeing you.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Three Wise Men, Mary, Joseph, and WTF?

   In the region surrounding Barcellona, in Spain, there is a tradition going back to the 18th century of including figurines depicted in the act of defecation as part of the nativity scene. They are thought to to bring good fortune and a rich harvest. As time passed the use of famous personalities for these figurines, called "caganers", has become popular. I suspect that there is probably a collector's market for them by now.
This holiday season Michael Jackson and the Pope were particularly popular.
   The figurines sell for between eight and twenty dollars. One can see how the production of fertilizer would come to be used as a metaphor for fertility.

More images and background at the links.

Images Background

Be seeing you.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Living In a Cyberpunk World

... another angel
approached me.
This one was quietly but appropriately dressed in cellophane, synthetic
rubber and stainless steel,
But his mask was the blind mask of Ares, snouted for gasmasks.
He was neither soldier, sailor, farmer, dictator, nor munitions-manufacturer.
Nor did he have much conversation, except to say,
"You will not be saved by General Motors or the prefabricated house.
You will not be saved by dialectic materialism or the Lambeth Conference.
You will not be saved by Vitamin D or the expanding universe.
In Fact, you will not be saved."
In his hand was a woven, wire basket, full of seeds, small metallic and
shining like the seeds of portulaca;
Where he sowed them, the green vine withered, and the smoke and
armies sprang up.

"Nightmare, With Angels" by Steven Vincent Benet
Hot or not: Hiroko Aki, a resident of Nagareyama, Chiba Prefecture, places a food sample in a radiation detector Oct. 11 at Bec-Miru, a DIY irradiation scanning store in nearby Kashiwa. YOSHIAKI MIURA PHOTO
     Kashiwa is a suburb to the north of Tokyo. A little over 400,000 people live there. It is for the most part unremarkable, save for in one respect: It is the first city in Japan, or in the world for that matter, to have a new business that is emblematic of Japan's troubles in the 21st century.

     Ever since October, Motohiro Takamatsu has been offering a unique service. For 980 Yen (about $12) his customers can spend 20 minutes scanning their groceries, their top soil, or whatever they are concerned about for radioactive contamination. Takamatsu imported several gamma spectroscopy machines from Germany at about a million Yen each (about $12,800). The devices can detect radioactive isotopes of Cesium in traces as low as 20 bacquerels, as long as the customers can provide a 1 kg sample to test.

      Teachers in Tohoku now carry Geiger counters to check radiation levels on school grounds, and cesium isotopes have shown up in baby formula, rice and tea. In as much as the Fukashima reactors are likely to continue leaking for some time, testing food seems likely to become a growth industry. 

     "Takamatsu said he has already established a new nonprofit organization aimed at creating a food safety database for consumers to access, and plans to expand it considerably in 2012.
"The database will focus on items that are not checked by the government, such as instant noodles," he said.
Despite losing more money than he is making on his Bec-Miru venture, Takamatsu said he is ready to spend another year doing whatever he can to help.
"These efforts are something I will continue as long as there is a need among the people."

       Be seeing you.

     Source: japantimes