"Madame, bear in mind That princes govern all things--save the wind." -Victor Hugo, The Infanta's Rose

Sunday, June 22, 2008


19 cities with over
20 million population in the
21 st Century.

Supercities are rising -- vast urban hubs that will radically define the world's future economic and cultural landscape. In 1800, less than 3% of the world's population lived in cities, in fact most people lived their entire lives without ever seeing one. By 1900, 150 million people lived in the world's cities; that number has now surged past three billion, and as of last year, more than half the people on earth live in cities. By 2050, it will be more than 2/3 of us. Humans are now predominantly an urban species, but our population, including the public and private sector, is not yet adequately prepared for life in these intensely urban hubs.

What's this all about? How will it affect you? Click here.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Feeling paraskevidekatriaphobic?

None of the 17 million or so people worldwide who suffer from paraskevidekatriaphobia -- the fear of Friday the 13th -- will read this post, as they are no doubt at home in bed, cowering under the covers until the day is officially over at midnight. And perhaps they're onto something, because I can in fact say with absolute, 100% certainty that anyone who leaves their home today, Friday, June 13, 2008, is going to die!1

Ironically, a study published today by the Dutch Center for Insurance Statistics showed that fewer accidents and reports of fire and theft occur when the 13th of the month falls on a Friday than on other Fridays; the study revealed an average of 7,800 traffic accidents each Friday, with the figure dropping to just 7,500 when the 13th fell on a Friday. This may be because people are trying to be extra-careful, or instead remain at home on the supposedly unlucky day. It is claimed that businesses lose in the neighborhood of $800 to $900 million on this day because many people will not board airline flights or do other things they would otherwise normally do.

Superstitions about Friday being a lucky, or unlucky day (depending on your belief) have their roots in Norse mythology, and the number 13 has been considered bad luck since ancient times. Put the two together and you have double trouble. See this site for origins of Friday the 13th lore, or check out the Snopes page for more information.

Personally, today has been no different than any other for me. Still, Mrs. Toast and I don't plan on inviting eleven guests over for dinner tonight. (No sense taking chances.)

What about you?


Friday, June 06, 2008

A holiday that brings a tear to my eye

Every year in early June, there is a national holiday that fills me with love, pride, and a special wistfulness.

Wait, you thought I meant "Father's Day"? Hell, no! I'm referring to National Donut Day. According to the New York Daily News, today is "a bona fide holiday that’s been observed since 1938 on the first Friday of every June." It was originally established by the Salvation Army to honor the "lassies" of WWI, who made thousands of the tasty treats for homesick soldiers on the battlefields of France (sometimes frying them in a GI helmet filled with cooking grease). That's how they became known as "doughboys".

Rest assured that I will do my patriotic duty today and consume as many donuts as possible. It's the least I can do for my country.

In honor of the occasion, Krispy Kreme is giving away a free donut of your choice, just for the asking. Stop by your local store and do your part as a responsible citizen.

Happy Donut Day!

At last, a holiday that all species can enjoy together.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Happy Throw In The Towel Day!

All indicators are pointing to the fact that once results are in from the final Democratic primary states today, Hillary Clinton will at last end her long race for the nomination. As Wesley Pruden writes in today's WaPo:
All day yesterday the gossips, bloggers and other blowhards buzzed with the news that the last dog had died, that it was time to put out the cat, dim the light in the hall and bank the fire in the cookstove. The worker bees were told to turn in their final expense accounts, stuff their stale underwear in their briefcases, buy one final ticket home and gather tonight at Appomattox Court House for the ritual obsequies.
I think it's about time. (It's actually way past time, but I'm trying to be magnanimous here.) Even her husband seemed ready to admit the obvious yesterday. "I want to say," Bill told a crowd in South Dakota, "that this may be the last day I'm ever involved in a campaign of this kind. I thought I was out of politics, till Hillary decided to run. But it has been one of the greatest honors of my life to go around and campaign for her for president."

I have long had much respect for Senator Clinton, and strongly considered supporting her campaign as recently as last January. But I think the voters and delegates have spoken, and I believe that Barack Obama now has the best chance to effect a real, positive change from the politics of arrogance and deception that have been the hallmark of the Bush administration, and that Hillary is at last ready to face the rising tide of reality.

Or is she? The Chicago Sun-Times this morning advises its readers, "don't expect a concession speech from Sen. Hillary Clinton tonight, no matter the returns from South Dakota and Montana," and reports that her staff is still busy trying to woo financial backers and push her message that she's the only person capable of defeating John McCain in November. For her part, speaking yesterday after winning the Puerto Rico primary by a large margin, Hillary told her supporters: "My political obituary has yet to be written, and we're going forward. It is not over 'til it's over."

We'll see tonight, but trust me ... it's over. Somewhere off in the distance, I hear the fat lady singing.

Footnote 6/6: "Throw In The Towel Day" has been postponed until Saturday.