fly tipping

From the BBC (via BoingBoing):

Mystery shoe saga stumps couple

Pairs of shoes are being left in mysterious circumstances outside a remote farmhouse in Lincolnshire.

Jason and Claire Foster, who live near Market Rasen, do not know who is doing it or why they have left as many as four pairs of shoes at one time.

The family have video footage, which shows an elderly couple driving by in a green vehicle depositing the shoes.

Mrs Foster said that although it was scary at first, she was rather hoping some of the pairs might fit.

Okay, this was weird, and about the entire content of the Boing Boing link/article. But the last half of the article is what really caught my eye:

East Lindsey District Council are investigating the incident as a case of fly tipping.

“Sometimes it’s odd ones, sometimes it’s a couple of pairs. But they’re of all shapes and sizes. There has even been pairs of roller blades,” a council environment official said.

“There must have been more than 30 pairs so far – it’s been going on for months.”

He said the maximum penalty for a first offence of fly-tipping was £20,000, but it depended on its severity.

Fly tipping — now there’s a usage you don’t see much in around these parts. It turns out that fly-tipping is what we would call “illegal dumping”. It’s a great little phrase: “fly” in this case is related to “flee”, and “tipping” is what dump trucks and wheelbarrows do. Maybe we’d call it “dump-and-dash”, or “chuck-and-run”. Not quite as English, though, is it?

a thousand monkeys

Remember my recipe for downloading NPR news in MP3 format? Someone else has picked up that ball and is running with it. Cleverdevil is working on something with a GUI, written in Python for OS X. He’s also using mplayer instead of mimms and vlc. Good luck, fella.

the big one

Mark A. R. Kleiman: A nuclear option for the Democrats

Here’s a modest proposal: instead of just whining about the Republicans’ unprincipled power grabs, the Democrats should retaliate.

Fortunately, we have an excellent opportunity: change the California Constitution to elect the entire California Congressional Delegation as a bloc.

Yes, yes, yes! A thousand times yes!

continuing obsessive coverage of chicago stars

The journal of the Great Waters Association of Vexillology (the study of flags is called Vexillology) reports on the original proceedings of the 1917 Chicago City Council that adopted the flag design, which at that time, only had two stars. Here’s an image of the original flag as pictured in the Chicago Herald and Examiner in 1921, courtesy of the Chicago Historical Society. I’ll quote the relevant portion of Wallace Rice’s description here:

Next (to) the hoist and two inches from it at the nearest point is a red star fourteen inches tall with six points drawn from a circle six inches in diameter. Two inches from this is a second star of the same size. […] The two stars stand for the two great formative events in Chicago history, the Great Fire of 1871 and the World’s Columbian Exposition of 1893. They are given six points each that they may not be confused with the five-pointed stars which stand for the States of the Union in the American Flag.

The bold passage (emphasis mine, obviously) gives us numbers, slightly different from the numbers I calculated in my previous post, “what is the deal with the stars on the chicago flag?”. There, I got:

The outer radius (the circumradius) is 2.4 times the length of the inner radius (which, in Adobe parlance, is the circle which intersects the points of concavity, not the incircle of the hexagon).

The 1917 numbers give an outer radius 2.33 times the inner radius. Let’s compare these stars:

These stars are very, very similar, but more importantly, they’re both pointy. I was going to post a very long entry with all the trigonmetry necessary to show the exact percentage difference in area, but I think I’ll spare you, this time. The key here is that the star was designed to be sharp from the very start, and distinct from the regular hexagram.

Which of the two is most correct? It’s hard to say. I’m pretty sure that Rice’s 1917 14:6 number is just rounding error. He probably just didn’t want to write 14.4 inches. Since the difference is so very small, let’s call them both within the margin of error.

However, the stars on the very same page in the GWAV’s journal are wrong wrong wrong. Those are clearly regular hexagrams in the illustration, 1.73:1 six-pointed stars. I’m going to have to send them a letter.

rss feeds for chicago venues

I’ve made available RSS feeds for both the Empty Bottle and the Bottom Lounge on my calendar page. Those of you who live in Chicago and regularly use a syndicated feed aggregator will find this interesting. The rest of you Luddites can just move along.

Thanks to Andy Baio of for some technical advice. In the future, I hope to inject these events right into, or (in a more perfect world), I expect the venues themselves (or their webmasters) to do the injecting.

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