Thursday, April 24, 2008

From deep in the heart of NASCAR country

I have an old college friend who is supremely talented at (or monomaniacally focused on) finding images like the following. I chuckled when I first saw it, but mainly because of the simpering edifice staring out from the painted cardboard box. I'm guessing this guy was tailgating at a NASCAR race (the superfluous "Place Boobs Here" sign is the giveaway). Caption, anyone?

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Someone, somewhere in the Congo, stole my manhood!

There's simply no way to introduce the following story without coming across as a culturally-insensitive bigot. Anthropological apologists tell us that only an immersive endemic study of the culture at hand will shed light on the social relevance and intellectual validity of genital theft by sorcery in the Congo but, honestly, people, can't we label ignorance, ignorance? Ignorance is not scarce in America, of course -- the approval rating of our current president as polled by CNN demonstrates that 32% of 1,012 adult respondents in this country "approve of Bush's performance," while 8% are unsure, so fully 40% have been robbed of their intellect through spinnery cum sorcery!

Here's a link to the Reuters page; the text of the article follows:
KINSHASA (Reuters) - Police in Congo have arrested 13 suspected sorcerers accused of using black magic to steal or shrink men's penises after a wave of panic and attempted lynchings triggered by the alleged witchcraft.

Reports of so-called penis snatching are not uncommon in West Africa, where belief in traditional religions and witchcraft remains widespread, and where ritual killings to obtain blood or body parts still occur.

Rumors of penis theft began circulating last week in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo's sprawling capital of some 8 million inhabitants. They quickly dominated radio call-in shows, with listeners advised to beware of fellow passengers in communal taxis wearing gold rings.

Purported victims, 14 of whom were also detained by police, claimed that sorcerers simply touched them to make their genitals shrink or disappear, in what some residents said was an attempt to extort cash with the promise of a cure.

"You just have to be accused of that, and people come after you. We've had a number of attempted lynchings. ... You see them covered in marks after being beaten," Kinshasa's police chief, Jean-Dieudonne Oleko, told Reuters on Tuesday.

Police arrested the accused sorcerers and their victims in an effort to avoid the sort of bloodshed seen in Ghana a decade ago, when 12 suspected penis snatchers were beaten to death by angry mobs. The 27 men have since been released.

"I'm tempted to say it's one huge joke," Oleko said.

"But when you try to tell the victims that their penises are still there, they tell you that it's become tiny or that they've become impotent. To that I tell them, 'How do you know if you haven't gone home and tried it'," he said.

Some Kinshasa residents accuse a separatist sect from nearby Bas-Congo province of being behind the witchcraft in revenge for a recent government crackdown on its members.

"It's real. Just yesterday here, there was a man who was a victim. We saw. What was left was tiny," said 29-year-old Alain Kalala, who sells phone credits near a Kinshasa police station.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

New toy, courtesy of Jango

Ever the sucker for an interesting widget, I stumbled upon Jango's offering and created the 15-artist jukebox, below. Doesn't necessarily include my all-time favorite bands, mind you -- just those that came to mind in the two minutes it took to create the following. If you mouse over the artist images the scrolling slows and a "play" button is rendered (requires Flash, of course). Very simple creation interface and definitely worth a try (I edited the markup so that the ugly trailing buttons do not render, but you can get your own widget here: