And now . . . this – Mar. 17/10

March 17, 2010

Friedrich Schiller, one of Germany’s favourite poets and playwrights, has received reminders to pay his television licence – despite having been dead since 1805.

Two notices were delivered by GEZ, a licence-collecting agency, which threatened to mount legal action against the literary hero, who is best known for his poem Ode to Joy, which was put to music by Beethoven, unless he quickly settled his monthly €17 (£14) bill.

They were sent to a primary school bearing Schiller’s name in Weigsdorf-Köblitz, a town in the eastern state of Saxony.

[Full Story]

Gee. You’d think that a middle name like “Publikenschüler” would have tipped off the bureaucrats.

In other news, they’re also still hounding Johann Wolfgang von Goethe for that overdue copy of Marlowe’s Dr. Faustus he borrowed from the library in 1805.

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How about a nice slice of Pi?

March 13, 2010

At the sound of the tone, the time will be March 14 at 4 pm; that is, 3.1416.

Beep.


Curiouser and curiouser

March 10, 2010

For the past few days, I’ve been listening to Blackstone Audio’s recording of Alice in Wonderland. Blackstone is offering it as a free download until March 16, obviously in honour of Tim Burton’s latest film.

Oxford mathematician Charles Dodgson, known better by his pen name Lewis Carroll, took a rowing trip up the Thames with the Rev. Robinson Duckworth and Lorena, Alice and Edith Liddell, the three daughters of Henry Liddell, the vice-chancellor of Oxford University. To pass the time, he invented a story about a young girl named Alice who had some odd adventures down a rabbit hole.

The story is so famous it hardly needs description: basically, it is a work of literary nonsense, parodying mathematics and logic, children’s school lessons, and familiar personalities around the Oxford community. Pubished for the first time in 1865, it was a smash hit, and counted even Queen Victoria amongst its fans. (According to one apocryphal story, Victoria contacted the publisher to request another book by the same author. They sent her his work on algebraic determinants.)

Alice is narrated by English actor Michael York (like Carroll, also an Oxford man). His mellow, but slightly manic, voice is perfect for this material: it’s one of the best audiobooks I’ve heard, possibly second only to the classic reading of The Screwtape Letters by John Cleese. If you like classic children’s literature, audiobooks, and Michael York, you won’t want to miss this. Get it while it’s hot.


And now . . . this – Mar. 6/10

March 7, 2010

The Swiss slide steadily into silliness

As far as non-human rights go, Switzerland reached the tipping point of cultural insanity ages ago. Remember how it’s now considered cruel to cuddle your guinea pig excessively or mistreat your pet rhinoceros? A little too much, and you might be seeing Fluffy in court.

A nationwide referendum is taking place in Switzerland on a proposal to give animals the constitutional right to be represented in court.

Animal rights groups say appointing state-funded animal lawyers would ensure animal welfare laws are upheld, and help prevent cases of cruelty.

[Full Story]

At this rate, the broccoli will be demanding the right to represent itself by about 2015. Suffice it to say this is not improving Switzerland’s image as an over-regulated culture.

(H/T: Anglican Samizdat.)

Will that be paper or plastic?

They say money doesn’t grow on trees. Well, the federal government has taken that adage to heart — it announced earlier this week that Canada’s paper-cotton banknotes would be replaced by newly designed plastic ones next year.

Cool. Maybe the new design will be one of the ones with the little windows in ’em.

It’s part of a plan to modernize and protect Canadian currency against counterfeiting.

The new plastic bills, made from a polymer material, are harder to fake, recyclable, and two to three times more resistant to tearing, the Bank of Canada said.

[Full Story]

Yeah, but how much do you want to bet the stores still won’t accept fifties or hundreds?


And now, presenting what may very well be the stupidest question ever…

March 4, 2010

Just tweeted this evening by a self-described “prochoice Christian”:

If chastity and abstinence works [sic], where did Jesus come from?

No, seriously.

You need a license to drive and own a gun, but anyone with a computer can use the Internet. Explain that.