The Mystery Man from Syracuse NY

From the Smithsonian Magazine….

The stories and the record scores accumulated in a fast pile. Not only did this John Montague play great and goofy golf, he seemed able to outdrink, out-eat, out-arm wrestle the world. His appetites and abilities seemed almost superhuman. He routinely showed off his strength. Need to change a tire? No jack was necessary. Montague could simply hold the proper end of the car aloft while someone else attached the spare.

In a town of interesting characters, he moved rapidly toward the top of the list. He became someone to know.

As it turned out, John Montague turned out to be a thief from upstate NY. Follow the link to find out more.

A great invention

Dean L. Kamen is one of the few people alive today who really impresses me with his brilliance. Any fool can be smart. But few can be as smart an creative as Dean L. Kamen. His Wikipedia profile does not do him justice.

To be sure, some of his stuff is over hyped. I never did think that much of the Segway. But a lot of his other feats were truly amazing. This clip shows off his most recent product.

Edit: This profile of Kamen from Wired is better, even if it is dated

I like my tastes buds the way they are

From the New York Times comes a story of people using synsepalum dulcificum to alter their tastes buds. Apparently it makes everything tastes sweet. Personally, I don’t see the appeal of making limes taste candied. From the New York Times….

Mr. Mozie listed his favorite miracle fruit pairings, which included green mangoes and raw aloe. “I like oysters with some lemon juice,” he said. “Usually you just swallow them, but I just chew like it was chewing gum.”

A large group of guests reached its own consensus: limes were candied, vinegar resembled apple juice, goat cheese tasted like cheesecake on the tongue and goat cheese on the throat. Bananas were just bananas.

For all the excitement it inspires, the miracle fruit does not make much of an impression on its own. It has a mildly sweet tang, with firm pulp surrounding an edible, but bitter, seed. Mr. Aliquo said it reminded him of a less flavorful cranberry. “It’s not something I’d just want to eat,” he said.

Lucky Shot?

From Strategy Page…

The death of a Russian fighter pilot in Sudan could not be kept secret, despite the best efforts of the Russian and Sudanese governments. The pilot was an instructor, stationed outside Khartoum, at an air base containing the dozen MiG-29 fighters Sudan bought four years ago. The Russian pilot took one of the MiG-29s into action on May 10th, when a convoy of nearly 200 trucks and jeeps approached the capital. The convoy contained 1,200 JEM rebels from Darfur. The heavily armed rebels were headed for the presidential palace when the MiG-29 attacked. But the rebels had some heavy (12.7mm and 14.5mm machine-guns) on some of those trucks, and the MiG-29 was hit and went down. The pilot ejected, but the chute didn’t open and he died on impact.

If the JEM rebels really manged to shoot down a Mig-29 with some heavy machine-guns they are way better then I would have ever thought. Or else the Russian was really sloppy.

2025 is only 17 years away

From United Press International……

An alarming new word has been born. It is “hypermortality,” which might be defined as an extraordinary tendency toward death. It jumps from the first page of the U.N. Development Program report entitled “Demographic Policy in Russia.”

“The Russian phenomenon of hypermortality comes to be observed primarily in working-age populations,” it says.

“Compared to the majority of countries that have similar levels of economic development, mortality in Russia is 3-5 times higher for men and twice as high for women.”

What this means, the report says, is that the size of the working-age population “will fall by up to 1 million people annually already by 2020-25.”

The effect of this will be to raise the dependency load (the number of young and old people dependent on those of working age) to 670 to 750 per thousand by 2020 and to 900 to 1,000 per thousand by 2025.

Read the whole thing.

Paper Tigers whine a lot

From Pajamas Media…..

In what appears to be the biggest case of corruption in Iran, and perhaps in the Middle East, the Tehran-based Shahab News reported that the chief auditing office of the Iranian parliament (Majlis) has revealed that close to $35 billion of oil income from the financial year 2006-07 is missing.

This kind of stuff goes on because Iran’s Parliament has no real power.

Farming The Government Way

An AP article on May 15th caught my attention. The title said: House approves $290B farm bill.
What really caught my attention was the line which said,
almost $30 billion would go to farmers to idle their land
Stop a moment to consider. That is $30 billion paid out to farmers so they will not produce food. (See […]