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July 31, 2007

XSR48 — World's First Superboat


"Combines the DNA and high performance of a supercar with superyacht detailing to create the world's first true Superboat."


More: "The 'Bugatti Veyron' of the sea is a supercar on water, a luxury powerboat with supercar looks. With a total of no less than 1600hp from two Isotta Fraschini bi-turbo diesel engines, the XSR48 has supercar acceleration to match its stunning appearance."


Better not dawdle: it's a limited edition of 100 and the first 10 have already been sold.


£1.2 million ($2,457,000; €1,788,000).


Bonus: Along with your boat you get a £50,000 bespoke Van der Bauwede wristwatch with the boat's number on its face and the owner's name engraved on its back.


Inquire within.

July 31, 2007 at 04:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (6) | TrackBack

When Flautist talks, you can bet your sweet bippy I listen


Her wish (above) is — and always will be, forever and ever — my command.

July 31, 2007 at 03:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

ReadPrint.com — With an author list like this, it has to be good


Just in from Jennifer, who wrote, "I wanted to let you know about ReadPrint.com — a massive non-profit library similar to Bartleby — except it's far better organized and user friendly. We've been using it extensively in school nowadays — it's great for doing research since you can search within the books."

From the ReadPrint website:


    A warm welcome to Read Print, your free online library.

    Our website offers thousands of free books for students, teachers and the classics enthusiast.

    To find the book you desire to read, start by looking through the author index.

    If you need help with something, feel free to drop us a line: suggestions@readprint.com.


Free — the way it always should be.

July 31, 2007 at 02:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

What is it?


Answer here this time tomorrow.

July 31, 2007 at 01:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

China's Corpse Brides — 'Wetware' Takes on a Whole New Meaning


An article in the the latest (July 26, 2007) issue of The Economist sheds light on a heretofore little known — at least outside rural China — custom of "ghost marriages."

Long story short: "Parts of rural China are seeing a burgeoning market for female corpses, the result of the reappearance of a strange custom called 'ghost marriages'. Chinese tradition demands that husbands and wives always share a grave. Sometimes, when a man died unmarried, his parents would procure the body of a woman, hold a 'wedding' and bury the couple together."

Here's the story.

    Wet goods and dry goods — China's corpse brides

    A lucrative, grisly market for grave robbers and murderers

    A member of the Chao clan of Gelao village in Shaanxi province was paying her respects recently to a newly buried female relative. She noticed a wheat stalk stuck in the mound of earth with a ribbon tied to it. Alarmed, she alerted her relatives. At 11 o'clock that evening, they ambushed two grave robbers who were starting to dig up the body. A member of the Chao family told a friend from the Wang clan in a nearby village, who had just buried one of its womenfolk. Clan members found nothing suspicious at the grave but the next day came across a large plastic bag in a ditch. Sure enough, it contained the body of their relative, exhumed and waiting for collection.

    Parts of rural China are seeing a burgeoning market for female corpses, the result of the reappearance of a strange custom called “ghost marriages”. Chinese tradition demands that husbands and wives always share a grave. Sometimes, when a man died unmarried, his parents would procure the body of a woman, hold a “wedding” and bury the couple together.

    The custom has a long history. In the legends of the classical romance of the “Three Kingdoms”, the warlord Cao Cao finds a corpse bride for his son who died in 208 AD at the tender age of 13.

    The communists discouraged burials and suppressed ghost marriages as “feudal superstition”. Yet ancient beliefs die hard. As Marxism wanes, burials are reappearing—and so are corpse brides.

    The practice is most common in the northern provinces of Shanxi, Hebei and Shandong. This is China's coal-mining heartland. In mountainous Shanxi, pit accidents kill many men too young to marry. Compensation to the family is spent on giving their son a wife in the afterlife.

    A black market has sprung up to supply corpse brides. Marriage brokers—usually respectable folk who find brides for village men—account for most of the middlemen. At the bottom of the supply chain come hospital mortuaries, funeral parlours, body snatchers—and now murderers.

    On March 7th this year, a local newspaper, Huashang Bao, reported that demand for corpse brides had led to sustained inflation. A top-quality piece of “wet” (recently deceased) merchandise that the newspaper said would have sold for a few thousand yuan four years ago now goes for 30,000-40,000 yuan ($4,000-5,300). In contrast, “dry goods” (long buried) fetch just 300-500 yuan down the Shanxi coal mines.

    Such incentives prompted Song Tiantang to kill. In the late 1990s he had made money supplying the market by robbing graves. Mr Song (whose name is a homonym for the phrase “to send someone to heaven”) was jailed after he dropped his mobile phone at a grave he had plundered: the police used it to track him down. This January he was arrested again and confessed to strangling six women and selling their bodies. Killing for corpses, he said, was an easier way to make money than digging them out of the ground.



No doubt posting this story will prolong my ban from the Chinese Internet space.

Oh, well.

July 31, 2007 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Louis Vuitton iPhone Case


That didn't take long.

In four styles, from left above: Alligator ($1,120); Classic Monogram ($225); Epi (Red leather, $260); Taiga (Ardoise [dark grey leather], $260).

According to Eugene Kan over at hypebeast.com, "The current method of obtaining these cases is only via a waiting list at the Louis Vuitton flagship store on 5th Avenue in NYC. They will be more widely distributed in October."

Wonder how long it'll be till Hermès rolls out its take.

July 31, 2007 at 11:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

How does catnip work?


In the latest (August, 2007) issue of Scientific American Ramona Turner, "a longtime veterinarian who owns two Fresno, California-based animal hospitals," replies as follows.

From our small domestic companions to the largest lions, cats are exquisitely sensitive to nepetalactone [above], a compound in the stems and leaves of the catnip plant that essentially acts as an artificial feline pheromone.

Nepetalactone in the catnip enters the animal's nasal tissue, where it is believed to bind to protein receptors that stimulate sensory neurons. These cells trigger a cascade of responses that eventually reach the amygdala (two neuronal clusters in the midbrain that mediate emotional responses to stimuli) and the hypothalamus (the brain's "master gland" that plays a role in regulating everything from hunger to emotions). The amygdala integrates the information flow, and its neurons project to areas governing behavioral responses. The hypothalamus regulates neuroendocrine responses through the pituitary gland, creating a sexual response to the artificial pheromone.

When cats smell catnip, they exhibit several telltale behaviors: they may rub their heads and body on the herb or jump, roll around, vocalize and salivate. This response lasts for about 10 minutes. About 70 to 80 percent of cats demonstrate this hereditary reaction to the plant's presense but not before they are a few months old.

July 31, 2007 at 10:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

'101 Things To Do With A Potato'


How many can you name?

$9.95 (potato not included).

July 31, 2007 at 09:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

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