Narrow road, FДKЭ ЯUSSIAИ, cosmic latte, the Centennial light, and misandric T-shirts

Today, we look at faux Cyrillic, the world's longest-burning lightbulb, the average color of the universe, Spreuerhofstraße, and a T-shirt that declared "Boys are stupid, throw rocks at them!"

Again, the beast known as "gender issues" rears its ugly head. In 1999, American entrepreneur Todd Goldman started a clothing company named "David and Goliath " with a series of slogan T-shirts, the first of which declared "Boys are Smelly". A variety of new slogans have come out over the years, such as "Boys tell lies, poke them in the eyes!", "The stupid factory, where boys are made", "Boys are stupid ..."; but it was the one that stated "Boys are stupid, throw rocks at them!" that generated controversy. LA radio host Glenn Sacks took offense to this and started a campaign against the rhetoric. Naturally, many men's groups came to his support, while many feminist groups criticized it; but ultimately, the product was pulled from the shelves of over 3,000 stores. Goldman has gone on to publish a book by the same title in 2005. I'm not really a feminist or a masculist, but to me, the slogan was dumb for two reasons. One, it tried to introduce gender issues to children without any effort to explain the dynamics (and without regard to the fact that part of the market was too young to comprehend the issue fully). Secondly, it's reverse discrimination; there is no way in hell that the same slogan, substituting the word "boys" with "girls" or some kind of minority, would have been tolerated.
This book cover supposedly matches the T-shirt design pretty well.

Cosmic latte describes the color that is the average color of the universe, as determined by Johns Hopkins astronomers. In hex, it is #FFF8E7, and the RGB coordinates are (255, 248, 231). The beigeish white was averaged from the light emitted by over 200,000 galaxies, analyzed from spectrum range. When the study was first published in 2001, it originally misidentified the color as a turquoise due to an error in software, but that was rectified the next year. The researchers put suggested names to a vote, and while "Cappuccino Cosmico" received the most (17), it was declined. Honestly, I liked "Primordial Clam Chowder" best.
I figured the universe would have been black, but that just demonstrates my ignorance of photonics and astronomy.

The world's narrowest street is Spreuerhofstraße (sometimes transliterated as "Spreuerhofstrasse") in the city of Reutlingen, Germany. At 20 inches (50cm) at its widest and a foot (31cm) at its narrowest, it's officially known as "City Street Number 77" by the land registration office. After a massive fire in 1726, the avenue (alley?) was created by rebuilding efforts the next year. Those silly Germans, always engineering something clever!
And it has a plaque. I think the space between my house and my neighbor's house is about 6 inches; I should petition for it to be named a street.

Faux Cyrillic is a method of letter substitution used in pop culture to evoke a sense of being Russian or Soviet, even if the Cyrillic letters in Latin text makes no phonetic sense (but look similar enough that the English word can be understood). For example, the single most addictive video game in the world, which was a well-known contribution from the USSR, has its title printed as "TETЯIS" in most advertising (the proper translation would be "Тетрис"). Though the bands KoЯn and NIИ do this, it's stylistic instead of cultural (the former to imitate a child's handwriting and the latter for symmetry). Being an expert surfer of the web, I see this most often in joke images, such as posters made in the style of Soviet propaganda and the like. Only a few of the substitutions match the sounds each letter denotes, such as Э and E, but most are incomprehensible, such as X being replaced by Ж, which has a "zhe" sound and П sounding like "pe".

The firefighters of the Livermore-Pleasanton Fire Department have a world record. The Centennial Light is the world's longest-lasting lightbulb, being at least 109 years old and having been turned off only rarely. The Shelby Electric Company made the four-watt, hand-blown, carbon-filament bulb in the 1890s and installed in the station as a donation after the company went under in 1901, and probably moved a few times since then. In 1972, its record status was confirmed by  Guinness Book of World Records, Ripley's Believe It or Not, and General Electric. The only known interruption in burning was in 1976, when it was disconnected for 22 minutes to be moved to a new fire station, which Ripley's reassured would not mar the record. Though it's been covered in media outlets dozens of times since, I came to know about it by an episode of MythBusters a few years ago, looking at the energy savings of turning a light off.
And no, it doesn't cost the taxpayers a dime!

Today's bonus entry is a look at some great artwork. The National Post’s Graphics Editor Richard Johnson joined Marine combat artists CWO Mike D.Fay and Sgt Kris Battles (whom I mentioned last month) on a visit to a VA hospital in Virginia. The sketches and the interview shed some insight and a glimpse of humanity from these wounded warriors. Fay retired last year, but he occasionally blogs for the New York Times.
Happy reading!

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