Shanghai repair guy

Hengshan Lu apartment buildingWhen I was living on Hengshan Road in Shanghai, my apartment building had a repair guy. He lived in the dumpster room, which was a nondescript concrete structure that adjoined the building. By and large, you didn’t notice him, and I think that suited him fine. There was also a slovenly middle-aged dude who lived in the building and always seemed to show up and collect a small amount of money whenever anything happened, such as a tenant moving in. You might call him the building manager, except he didn’t really manage anything. He was more of an agent or middleman.

There was, for a long while, a broken toilet that sat next to the elevator on my floor. Nobody seemed to mind this. I don’t remember if it was ever removed. When I first moved in to the building, the sink didn’t work and there was a leak from the ceiling above the shower. We got the sink fixed somehow, but the leak persisted. It turned out there was a crazy old guy living directly upstairs (he was a government official who had been injured in a car accident and literally went crazy) and there was something wrong with his pipes and that was the source of the leak.

Together with my landlord (a cretin), the repair guy and the “building manager,” we visited the crazy old guy upstairs and identified the problem, which promptly failed to be solved. There was a big argument between the three parties who were supposed to be helping me fix the leak and somehow they just couldn’t reach an agreement about how or whether to fix it.

Finally, after a long and exhausting struggle, I figured out that the problem was that the repair guy wanted a small sum of money, like 40 yuan (about $6), and either the landlord or the “building manager,” or both, refused to pay him. So I shrugged and paid the man. And you know what? He fixed the leak. He fixed it but good.

Florida Mayor

Dale Glen Massad

“Florida Man” is a well-known internet meme, thanks to the abundance of crazy news headlines involving denizens of the Sunshine State (e.g. “Florida Man steals 36,000 pounds of Crisco”; “Florida Man bites off neighbor’s ear because he wouldn’t give him a cigarette,” etc).

Florida Man, meet Florida Mayor:

The mayor of a Florida town was arrested Thursday after he opened fire on deputies who were trying to serve a search warrant for allegedly operating an illegal medical practice at his home.

Pasco County Sheriff Chris Nocco said SWAT officers showed up to the house of Port Richey mayor Dale Glen Massad on Thursday morning to serve a warrant related to allegations that he was still practicing medicine despite having his medical license revoked more than 27 years ago.

When SWAT tried to enter the home, bullets began raining down on the officers.

Officers did not return fire. Eventually, Massad surrendered to police and was taken into custody. No one was injured.

More fodder for a Dave Barry column.

So this is weird (Nevada nuke site mayhem)

Nevada National Security Site

It’s only February – January when this story came out – and we may already be reaching Peak 2019. This headline, which as far as I can tell is real, reads like a perfect cold open for a particularly engaging sci-fi series:

Man holding mysterious ‘cylindrical object’ shot dead by police after car chase at secret nuclear test site

A man who approached police holding a mysterious “cylindrical object” has been shot dead following a car chase through a top secret nuclear test site.

The unnamed man burst past a security checkpoint at the Nevada National Security Site (NNSS), 65 miles northwest of Las Vegas, late on Monday afternoon, prompting private security contractors and local police to give chase.

The pursuit lasted around eight miles, the Department of Energy said in a statement, before the man pulled over, got out of the car, and approached the officers while holding a “cylindrical object”.

After failing to listen to police orders, he was shot and died at the scene.

Of course, this story would not be complete without a reference to Area 51:

The NNSS is located around 30 miles west of the far more notorious site, Area 51 – a remote military testing facility subject to countless UFO-based conspiracy theories.

I’m telling you, I have a bad feeling about Nevada.

World’s tallest statue

So huge, it’s scary:

Statue of Unity India

Statue of Unity

The new Statue of Unity, twice as tall as the Statue of Liberty, is located in the middle of nowhere in the state of Gujarat, India. At 597 feet, it is the world’s tallest statue. The sculpture is of Indian independence leader Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel.

Quote from India’s prime minister:

“This statue is an answer to all those who question India’s power and might,” Modi said in his address, before heading to take part in religious rites to mark the unveiling.

And if that’s not enough, this should settle the matter:

Even as the wrangling over the Statue of Unity continues, a taller and possibly even more divisive sculpture is in the works off the coast of Mumbai. Scheduled for completion in 2021, it is of Chhatrapati Shivaji, a Hindu warrior king, revered for battling Muslim rulers.

Statue of Shivaji Mumbai

Statue of Shivaji

Once that monstrosity is topped off, I think India’s status as a global superpower will be firmly cemented.

A glitch in the Matrix?

Berenstain Bears

Do you remember a series of children’s books about a family of anthropomorphized bears? Remember what it was called, and how the series title was spelled and pronounced?

Picture it in your mind and say it out loud before clicking this link. And this.

Yeah. Something isn’t quite right here. I think we’re being messed with. By whom and for what purpose, I’m not sure.

I haven’t exactly done a survey, but it would appear that many tens of thousands of American remember it the way I do. Many, like I do, probably remember it very vividly. The idea that we are all sharing a false memory stretches credibility, but stranger things have happened.

What I’m curious to know is, does *anyone* remember it the way it is “supposed” to be spelled? Seriously now.

UPDATE: Ok, I’ve talked to one person two people who remember the “correct” spelling.

The greatness of gait

Ministry of Silly Walks Monty Python

People have been interested in gait since the time of Aristotle. I think it’s one of the most vivid aspects of human individuality. Like snowflakes, no two gaits are alike.

Some people stride from point A to point B. Others trudge. You can also amble, bimble, bounce, clump, falter, gimp, glide, hike, hobble, limp, lumber, lurch, march, mince, mosey, nip, pace, parade, perambulate, peregrinate, plod, pound, power walk, prance, promenade, pussyfoot, ramble, roam, sashay, saunter, scuff, shamble, shuffle, stagger, stalk, step, stomp, stroll, strut, stumble, stump, swagger, tiptoe, toddle, totter, traipse, tramp, trample, traverse, tread, trip, tromp, troop, trot, waddle, and wander. And these are just categories of walking. Each individual has a unique locomotive signature, which is always more complex and distinctive than any of the above words can capture.

Gait should be recognized as a seamless part of one’s personality. For example, I am constantly told that I walk too fast. Criticism is important to me, so I considered this carefully for many years. Finally, I came to the conclusion that the rest of the world walks too slow.

Forensic gait analysis is used by law enforcement to identify criminals on surveillance videos when their faces are obscured. If only the government had the technology to accurately record and identify each person’s gait, then it would be much easier to track everyone.

Wait, did someone say “track everyone”?

China’s on it:

Chinese authorities have begun deploying a new surveillance tool: “gait recognition” software that uses people’s body shapes and how they walk to identify them, even when their faces are hidden from cameras.

Already used by police on the streets of Beijing and Shanghai, “gait recognition” is part of a push across China to develop artificial-intelligence and data-driven surveillance that is raising concern about how far the technology will go.

Huang Yongzhen, the CEO of Watrix, said that its system can identify people from up to 50 meters (165 feet) away, even with their back turned or face covered. This can fill a gap in facial recognition, which needs close-up, high-resolution images of a person’s face to work.

“You don’t need people’s cooperation for us to be able to recognize their identity,” Huang said in an interview in his Beijing office. “Gait analysis can’t be fooled by simply limping, walking with splayed feet or hunching over, because we’re analyzing all the features of an entire body.”