“Dried squash holds headless French king's blood.” Best headline of the day. To be specific:

Two centuries after the French people beheaded Louis XVI and dipped their handkerchiefs in his blood, scientists believe they have authenticated the remains of one such rag kept as a revolutionary souvenir.

Researchers have been trying for years to verify a claim imprinted on an ornately decorated calabash that it contains a sample of the blood of the French king guillotined in Paris on January 21, 1793.

The dried, hollowed squash is adorned with portraits of revolutionary heroes and the text: "On January 21, Maximilien Bourdaloue dipped his handkerchief in the blood of Louis XVI after his decapitation".

He is then believed to have placed the fabric in the gourd, and had it embellished.

They compared the DNA with a mummified head - another unfortunate royal. If it’s a match, let’s get all Jurassic Park on the stuff and grow some French monarchs, have them wander around Paris in tights, peering at the modern word through lorgnettes.

Speaking of Jurassic Park: some programmers made a Jurassic Park mod for Half-Life 2. Holy Crow:



In related dinosaur news: a look at Pixar’s upcoming movies, including “The Good Dinosaur” and one that reminds me of Grim Fandango. I loved that game. Got stuck. Never went back. This was before Internet walk-throughs, so if you couldn't figure out the proper sequence you were out of luck. Still remember carrying a canoe in a water-logged tunnel in "The Leather Goddesses of Phobos," and you had to type something in a particular order - jump, clap, say "kweepa," clap clap kweepa, or words to that effect. Gave up. Now it would be a matter of cutting and pasting. 

SHOPPING The question on nobody's lips right now: What’s going on in Target’s seasonal area? The International Bazaar is out; I think they’re doing that Costco-with-better-graphics thing now, with toilet paper sold in 48-roll bales. Months away from the first signs of spring, the appearance of Gardening Items - which will be of no use to anyone for ten weeks. Like I said: Target exists two months into the future.

Anyway, Bloomberg Businessweek haa a slideshow called “How to Shop Target Like a Pro.” Two small problems: 1) there aren’t any professional Target shoppers. We are all amateurs. No international body ranks the contestants. 2) The article contains almost no tips. It’s just facts that have nothing to do with shopping there like a pro.

An excerpt from the children's-book-type slides:


This has never happened to me. I’m not saying it doesn’t, but I’ve never gotten an e-mail BLAST, let alone one that’s relevant to my interests. Since I’m not pregnant or engaged, there’s just not a lot for them to BLAST about. The article also mentions the lighting of the shelves, but doesn’t mention how it turns itself on and off when there are fewer customers around. Have you noticed? The frozen aisle is dark until you walk in, and then the lights magically appear. The mansions of Oil Sheiks must be like that.

This slide is useful, though. A list of what’s on sale on particular days.


TECH Spot the odd word in this news story:

Photography giant Polaroid plans to open at least ten new retail stores this year focused on getting people to print and edit the photos saved on their smartphone, or uploaded to social networks such as Facebook, Instagram and Picasa.

That’s right. Giant? Once upon a time, perhaps, but they were humbled long ago. This recent book, "Instant," has an account of its rise and fall, and it’s a brisk, fascinating corporate history and an art-history lesson. I love accounts of industrial hubris and decline; there’s always a point where the company is huge, rich, fat, and expected to dominate its market for decades to come. That’s when they build a huge new headquarters or spend billions on some wild-eyed fantastic project, or both - and then the sludge of the corporation’s culture silts up every hall and office, and the rot begins.

Gosh, sounds like Apple,the smart-alecks say. Perhaps. Nothing’s permanent. They have to innovate to stay alive, and I see no signs they won’t. Jobs was a great marketer and a clever seer, but he was hardly infallible. Would he have approved of the Apple iWatch? Was he involved? Does it exist? no idea. But I’m not sure how it will replace the smart phone, since I don’t want to talk to my wrist like Dick Tracy, or wear a headset all the time, or use apps on a dinky screen. Favorite line from the article linked: “If an iWatch is real, it won't come out until 2014 or later, says Munster.” No idea if the project is underway in any form, but you won’y see it for at least 12 months.

No idea if it will look like this, but experts say it might, unless it doesn't:



I like the idea of a FaceTime watch, but unless I hold it up level with my face I get that low shot from sternum level, which is hardly flattering. Also, I'm starting to wonder about that icon. It's supposed to be an old movie camera, right? But the lens is on the side. PROOF STEVE JOBS WOULD BE HORRIFIED BY APPLE TODAY! 

He probably approved it himself.