This blog covers everything except sports and gardening, unless we find a really good link about using dead professional bowlers for mulch. The author is a StarTribune columnist, has been passing off fiction and hyperbole as insight since 1997, has run his own website since the Jurassic era of AOL, and was online when today’s college sophomores were a year away from being born. So get off his lawn.

Today's Mystery Bathroom

Posted by: James Lileks under Architecture, Praise, Technology Updated: January 20, 2014 - 12:34 PM

This is too easy, but just for fun: name the address where this picture was taken. Only hint: it’s downtown Minneapolis. Well?

That's Tammy Grimes, if you're curious. Answer at the bottom.

SCIENCE! You’ve heard about the mysterious rock that appeared on Mars by the Opportunity rover. As the articles note somewhat breathlessly, scientists are stumped. The Independant:

“It’s like nothing we've ever seen before," he said. "It's very high in sulphur, it's very high in magnesium, it's got twice as much manganese as we've ever seen in anything on Mars. "I don't know what any of this means. We're completely confused, and everyone in the team is arguing and fighting (over what it means).

If you’re imagining eggheads staggering out of a conference room with a fat lips and beefsteaks packed over swollen eyes, that’s probably wrong. You’d like to think that “nothing we’ve ever seen before” means “organic material seething with electrical activity reminiscent of brainwaves,” but it just means “gosh, we haven’t seen that mineral in such concentrations before.” A bit disappointing, but on the other hand we have robots analyzing things on Mars, which is astonishing.

Speaking of which: ABC reports on a mission that may have slipped your mind. 

Rosetta is the Europeans Space Agency's incredibly daring mission to catch up to comet 67P Churyumov-Gerasimenko after 10 years of hurtling through space to rendezvous with a comet speeding through space at 24,600 mph. Scientists put Rosetta into a planned hibernation 957 days ago to save resources so the spacecraft-probe would have enough power to complete its mission, leaving just a computer and a few heaters to keep it warm. For the past two and a half years, Rosetta @ESA_Rosetta has been auto-tweeting "still sleeping" for its 5,000 followers.

Indeed it has. Anyway, the ESA has been asking for good wake-up call ideas, and will use the winner to rouse Rosetta. After which it will land a probe on a comet. Amazing. But back to that Mars rock. Here’s the before-and-after picture. I’ve highlighted the area where the rock appeared. As many noted, doesn’t it look as if there was a donut-like spot before the rock appeared? A saucer, waiting for a cup?

As others have noted: looks a lot like ancient paving stones, doesn't it. They know the truth about Mars, and yet they're covering it up! 

TIME CAPSULE Is “ Beautiful” the word you’d use for these? Color photos of Vancouver in the 1970s. The link would go here, but it’s not. The tagline on the blog says: “denoting something of high quality, something from the past or characteristic of the best period.” That sounds odd. Suggests a non-native speaker who’s put together a site to repurpose other people’s content for clicks ’n’ grins. Sure enough, the site “credits” this flickr page. By the way, the credits aren’t listed on the post on the main page. You have to click MORE and go all the way to the bottom to see the source, which is this great Flickr collection. 

Webmasters might wonder “am I helping to spread the fame of interesting sites and curious curators, or am I just sucking up other people’s content in the hopes someone will click on the ad that tells you one Weird Trick to cut down on your belly fat?” If you’re the latter, well, you are the thing of which we need less.

Which brings us around to Cracked, where Luke McKinney has written the definitive demolition of serial plagiarist Sunny ButtRoast, or whatever you wish to call him. It’s funnier and more more creative than anything its subject ever stole, let alone created. Rough language here and there. Comments from some very thick people, too.

Then again, it’s not just Shia.

Paisley Rekdal got two Facebook messages last January from fellow poets who had some disturbing news: a poet in England by the name of Christian Ward had taken an old poem of hers and published it, barely altered, as his own. Her first reaction was to wonder if it was some kind of experiment. Perhaps by changing the gender of the author of a poem about infidelity and infertility, he was teasing out new meanings?

That’s a charitable reaction. Turns out, no. And it’s part of the PLAGIARISM EPIDEMIC in the poetry world.

ANSWER Okay. In the mirror, there's a towel on the rack. Flip it around . . . 

 . . . and you have the Sheraton logo, which means it's the Sheraton-Ritz, which was downtown across from the library from 1963 to about 1990. One of the big Gateway projects that went down in eventual failure. A much more attractive structure rises on the site today.

The still is from the fourth season of "Route 66," which had three episodes shot in Minneapolis. I'll save the opening shots for the summer; they concern the Aquatennial, and involve roving clowns with fire-axes.

Just in case you were feeling itch for winter, just think about that. Roving clowns with fire-axes.

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