As you may have heard, power went out in downtown Mpls this morning. Lightning strikes and a downed branch. A branch. That’s all it takes. Well, if the lights went off at the Neiman-Marcus, might as well keep them off; the Nicollet Mall store is closing. I’ve wondered for years why they stayed open; it had the same empty feel as the St. Paul Macy’s, which is kept alive by a secret government program that sends state employees over during the lunch hour to buy a shirt, or some earrings.

Another blow for downtown retail, but a lesson: those lovely retail malls downtown were doomed. City Center, Gaviidae, the Conservatory, Block E: nope. Someone’s welcome to build another, but not on the public dime.

In unrelated news: this might be the bottom story of the day. But we’ll keep digging.

TECHNOLOGY.  The Bug-a-Salt: it’s been a journey for him.


It’s a gun that kills flies with a grain of salt. Brilliant. By the way, I killed four flies yesterday with a rolled-up newspaper; it was so hot they were sluggish, and their automatic flight mechanisms did not engage. It’s a good thing humans didn’t evolve the same way, with hairs on our back directly connected to our limbs. Nothing would ever get done. You’re having a meal in a restaurant, someone enters the place, the door makes a slight breeze, which tickles your neck hairs, and you stand up and bolt out the rear exit.


LISTICLES Here's a list of technological devices that have outlived their usefulness. Typical linkbait. Easy targets, lackluster rationales, and a few choices that make you say “hey, wait a minute, I use that. Now I must disagree in the comments.” My choice: #11, the Printer / Scanner / Fax machine. The author, who might be 19, says “A surprising number of people still get one of these when they buy a computer, even though there's no reason to do any of these three things, and if you ever run out of ink or toner you will suffer the tortures of the damned. The sooner we stop expecting paper copies of things, the better.”

There’s no reason to get a fax machine. Agreed. Ever seen “Die Hard 2”? There’s a scene in the beginning where John McClain is talking to the cop he befriended in the previous movie, and asks him to send a fax. The cop is unaware of such a thing. McClain says “wake up and smell the 90s.” That was almost a quarter-century ago. Faxes can go away.

On the other hand: there’s no reason to scan?  He wants a paperless world, but we’re not supposed to need a scanner. Got it. 

SPAM ”Can we dream of a junk-free mailbox? Guess what—it's just a few takedowns away. In my opinion, taking down the top three spam botnets—Lethic, Cutwail, and Grum—is enough for a rapid and permanent decline in worldwide spam level.” The story of how they took out Grum is here; it's technical, but if you're interested in this stuff, worth a look.

ANIMALS ”Has a dog given birth to a kitten in North Korea?” asks the, and everyone in the world thinks “no, it hasn’t. Not at all.” But let’s read together:

Has a dog given birth to a kitten in North Korea? That's the claim of a man named Jeong Pyong-bong. When his pet gave birth to a litter of puppies, Jeong knew something was unusual. One of the puppies bore a striking resemblance to a creature from a different species. At first, he thought it was just a coincidence that one of the puppies looked more like a kitten. As the oddball of the litter began to meow, Jeong realized that it was indeed a cat.

Jeong Pyong-bong may be convinced, but scientists aren't having it. The differences between dog and cat DNA chromosomes are too great for the two species to breed, and this miraculous birth is being discounted as nothing more than a hoax, according to Paw Nation. "It's impossible for a dog to give birth to a cat," Daily Mail quoted Professor Son Chang-ho of Chonnnam National University's College of Veterinary Science as saying.

This news did not make the North Korean News Agency. They ran this instead:

Pyongyang, July 23 (KCNA) -- Towers bearing an inscription "The great Comrade Kim Il Sung and Comrade Kim Jong Il will always be with us" were splendidly erected in all provinces, cities (districts), counties and rural communities and at industrial establishments in the DPRK.
This is a manifestation of the strong will and ardent loyalty of the army and people of the DPRK to hold President Kim Il Sung and general secretary Kim Jong Il in high esteem for all ages and successfully accomplish the revolutionary cause of Juche under the leadership of the dear respected Kim Jong Un.

It is unshakable will of the army and people of the DPRK to highly praise the greatness of Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il and add shine to their undying feats generation after generation.

Party members and other people across the country made strenuous efforts to build the towers in a short span of time in their residential areas in boundless reverence for Kim Il Sung, father of socialist Korea and eternal sun of Juche, and Kim Jong Il, matchless patriot and benevolent father of people.

The towers will shine forever along with noble mentality of the army and people dynamically advancing toward the final victory being blessed with illustrious leaders.

The Nork-watchers who study every nuance to see who’s on the way up and who’s on the way down have been discussing whether the Un-Kim intends to continue the Army First policy, or give more power to the fake unions. When articles like the one above Mention the army after the party, then you’ll know something’s afoot.

BREAKING! Another story:

Pyongyang, July 23 (KCNA) -- The Pyongyang Children's Department Store which was built in Changjon Street opened on July 19.

It has secured quantities of modern quality goods loved by children, and exhibited them in peculiar way for sale.

On the opening day, the shop was packed with children and their parents.

The spectacular play rooms created on each floor were crowded with children all day long.

TVs showing cartoons and Karaoke for children and soft drink stands added to the delight of visitors.

The dear respected Kim Jong Un sent several thousand pieces of amusement equipment to the store.

What a hellish pantomime that must have been. If it happened at all.

By the way, here's a screenshot of the page about the cat-birth. Wrong Korea, and the dogs are in England, but otherwise, yeah, it's accurate.