Art of the Steal: On the Trail of World's Most Ingenious Thief

Leverage has nothing on this guy:

The plane slowed and leveled out about a mile aboveground. Up ahead, the Viennese castle glowed like a fairy tale palace. When the pilot gave the thumbs-up, Gerald Blanchard looked down, checked his parachute straps, and jumped into the darkness. He plummeted for a second, then pulled his cord, slowing to a nice descent toward the tiled roof. It was early June 1998, and the evening wind was warm. If it kept cooperating, Blanchard would touch down directly above the room that held the Koechert Diamond Pearl. He steered his parachute toward his target.

Previously, previously.

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What's the Matter With Sweden?

What's the Matter With Sweden? An interesting article about some podunk little third-world countries like Sweden, Norway, Canada and England that actually support the arts with public funds.
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I say again: if you chew gum, just fucking kill yourself.

God, you people are disgusting. The incessant chewing makes you look like a mouth-breathing retard, and all of you -- just like the smokers who consider the entire world their ashtray -- seem to think that once it leaves your mouth, the gum or cigarette butt just magically vaporizes. At least boogers don't stay sticky for long. Maybe you should take up chewing tobacco instead, that's dead sexy.

I hate you.

Street Science: The Gum We Step In

Pretty much everything gets chewed out of gum and swallowed except the "gum base." That's unless the gum chewer swallows the gum, in which case the gum base passes through unchanged and moves on to waste-water treatment. Or so the gum companies and FDA tell us. Hence, gum base is not a food, and companies are free to keep us in the dark on its actual components. In fact, gum base is proprietary. Gum makers originally used natural rubbery substances like chicle to make the base, but now they employ any number and proportion of natural or synthetic latexes and rubbers. [...]

More than a ton of gum is stuck to the ground in the Mission District. Millions of pieces of chewing gum. Or more.

That's actual pieces, not the shadowy stains left behind after someone steams them off. And it's a low estimate. [...] I made this estimate by counting the gum blobs in each square of sidewalk I stepped on, measuring every 20 steps. If someone's done a more scientific calculation, let us know.

So on an average block of Harrison, which has little foot traffic compared to the rest of the Mission, I estimate 5,277 pieces of gum (not gum stains) per block, on the sidewalks of both sides of the street. Along 24th Street, where many of the sidewalk squares host more than 20 pieces of gum, the numbers are gonna be much higher. [...] Let's say 53,000 pieces per mile of street. 53,000 pieces/mile x 37 miles of street = 1.96 million pieces. [...] Let's say one quarter of the weight is gum base [...] That's 3,300 pounds of gum base on the ground - more than a ton.


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Raj, Bohemian

Raj, Bohemian
"Is someone paying you to say that stuff?"
She giggled. "Sorry, babe, it just pops out sometimes. I didn't mean to pitch you. I'm supposed only to do it to my girlfriends."
"Ignore me. You know how hard it is to keep track of one's placements."
"Placements. Why are you making that face? You're looking at me like I'm some kind of freak."
"You have a lot of -- placements?"
"Oh, don't get on your high horse. You don't work, either. What do you do for cash? If a girl doesn't want a straight job, she has to monetize her social network."
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Bartenders Debate Whether Vodka Deserves Their Hate

Oh snap:

Neyah White, fresh from a dinner sponsored by Absolut, is still having none of it. "I am on the record as blaming Absolut for starting the whole vodka thing with their ad campaigns in the 80's and 90's. They were very cool, but got people looking at the bottle and caring more about it than the stuff inside." He went on to tell us that he doesn't hate on vodka just because it's what all the cool kids are doing, he just genuinely hates it.

"Vodka, as a category, is full of liars. A rudimentary understanding of how a column still works will tell you the much-hyped 'number of times distilled' is completely meaningless. The filtration techniques are a means of hiding poor craftsmanship in the distillation, and they remove anything that might have been interesting to taste or smell from the spirit. The vast majority of 'hand-crafted' vodkas are actually rectified spirit purchased and processed -- people selling themselves as artisanal craftsman are buying tankloads of industrial spirit from the same same factories that supply perfumers and chemical makers, running it through their little copper still a few times, passing it through charcoal to try to get the esters out, and calling it hand-made.

"But my my biggest complaint with the category is that the pricing is just plain disrespectful. The bottle costs more than the juice inside. Compared to every other category, vodka is the cheapest spirit to make. Yet, the premium brands blind the consumer with fancy bottles and meaningless production trivia then charge them $35 a liter. It is quite obvious that the people who put together crap like this do no respect to me or the drinking public. I don't like doing business with people who don't respect me."


Cocktail SCIENCE!

Why Do My Shaker Cans Get Sucked Together?

You've no doubt noticed that when you properly shake an alcoholic drink, the parts of your shaker are drawn tightly together by an internal vacuum force. Why does this happen and how big is the force?

A couple of cool things are happening when you shake. First, the air that's in your shaker starts off at room temperature. As you are shaking, this air gets cooled just like your drink does. Cooling the air causes the pressure to go down, which causes a vacuum. That isn't all that's happening, though. Ice is less dense than water. When ice melts, it actually contracts in volume. When the volume of liquid plus ice in the shaker contracts, the volume of air in the shaker increases. Since you aren't adding more air molecules, increasing the volume decreases pressure, causing more vacuum. Third, as your liquor gets colder, its density increases, again shrinking in volume and creating more vacuum. A third factor may be a small amount of expelled air when the bartender slams down on the cans before the shake. The last effect is hard to calculate mathematically. [...]

Plug in all the numbers, and the inside of the shaker has a negative pressure of about 1.7 psi. Since the small shaker measures 3 3/16 inches across, the force to pull the cans apart should be about 13.6 pounds.


North Koreans Use Cellphones to Bare Secrets

Don't suspect your neighbor, report him

The networks are the creation of a handful of North Korean defectors and South Korean human rights activists using cellphones to pierce North Korea's near-total news blackout. To build the networks, recruiters slip into China to woo the few North Koreans allowed to travel there, provide cellphones to smuggle across the border, then post informers' phoned and texted reports on Web sites.

[...] The North Korean government can monitor cellphone calls, but tracing them is harder, so the police rove the countryside in jeeps equipped with tracking devices.

The informants call him once a week; they never give their names, and they hide the phones far from their homes. Despite those precautions, they are sometimes caught. This month, Mr. Ha's Web site reported that an arms factory worker was found with a cellphone and confessed to feeding information to South Korea. A source said the informant was publicly executed by firing squad.

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Inside the Met-Life Clocktower

Scouting NY:


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