Funny Money on the Way

In a ruling that may pave the way for some unique-looking (or at least feeling) money, a judge ruled that the current bills in your pocket are discriminatory toward the blind.

I just checked out the 10 and 20 pound notes in my wallet, and they’re of a different size. Could the UK be ahead of the game here?


Something Old and Something New

To pass my last afternoon in London, I decided to mix things up with a little something old and a little something new, especially since they were next door to each other.

First I headed to the reconstruction of the Globe theatre, which, if you’re ever in London, is definitely worth the pounds and time. Having a chance to see about as faithful a reproduction as you can get (given today’s building codes, for example) to the original, combined with some great insight and vision from the tour guide, lets ou almost feel like you were there. And if you go in the summer months, you actually have a chance to do just that. I almost want to come back in the summer, just to stand in the intimate space. Hard to believe they use to pack 3,000 attendees in a space slightly smaller than the one we were in.

For something new, I headed over to Tate Modern, London’s modern art museum. And, unsurprisingly, I had much the same reaction I always do to modern art. Most pieces leave me asking the eternal question, just “what is art?” After all, if I can create something that looks exactly like what’s on exhibit, is it art? If someone painstakingly invested time and a career in creating some of the items, only to leave me with the impression that I could do the same thing, should that be considered art? If it looks like a stunt designed to get a cheap emotional rise out of me, is that art?

In any event, Tate Modern had two things going for it that most modern art museums don’t. First off, it was free to enter the regular exhibits, which meant I at least didn’t feel as though I was being ripped off. And second, one of the exhibits was a series of slides, available for your use (free tickets required for the slides on levels 3, 4, and 5, no ticket required on level 2). And, I swear to you, these slides were awesome. I can’t judge distance well, but the highest slide had to be between 50 and 100 feet high. Now that’s some modern art I can really get behind.

I finished off the day at a Thai restaurant near the hotel, which wasn’t bad but left me wanting the Thai food back home. London certainly isn’t the culinary capital of the world (though the conversation I overheard at dinner was certainly amusing enough).



Overheard in NY just posted a hillarious exchange.



I giggle every time I see that name. Cockfosters. Who came up with that as the name for a Tube station? Would you like to give directions to your friends coming to visit you, saying “Take the train headed to Cockfosters”?

On a related note, I was touring about the Tower of London today when I overheard an amusing exchange between a daughter and her parents. I was taking a look at some suits of armor on the second floor of the White Tower, where it was quite clear from the armor that King Charles I (I believe… one of the kings anyway) was quite interested in protecting the Crown Jewels. As I was reading the text across the bottom I heard a young girl from behind me speak, referring to the a certain piece of the suite of armor.

“What is that for?” asked the daughter.
“Let’s read the text to see what it says,” replied the Mom.

I walked away at this point to suppress my laughter, but I thought I heard the dad say “You’ll find out one day.”

After reading the text, they continue.

“See, it’s to protect the King while he rides his horse,” the mom stated.
“I know what it’s for,” the daughter replied knowingly. “It’s to protect the parts that boys have.”

Trust me, when you see the picture, it’s pretty amusing.

Overall the trip this time around has been pretty good, now that I’ve had the chance to make it to the British Museum, the Towner of London, and Harrods. The weather, too, has been pretty mild, with daytime temps in the 50s and some sun shining through today.

I’m almost sad to leave, except that this trip is bankrupting me. Imagine for a minute that you went to a place where the actual numeric amounts were the same (i.e. something that cost 10.00 still cost 10.00), but your money was only worth have as much.

That place isn’t imaginary. It’s London.


Balls to the Wall

Capitalism went balls to the wall today, as yesterday’s tryptophan-fueled orgy of caloric consumption gave way to that of the green kind. Naturally, CNN, MSNBC, Foxnews, and countless local outlets all piled on this consumer craze.

Not wanting to miss out, I drove past the queue to my local shopping center to head to the mecca of American capitalism, the Mall of America in Minnesota. It really doesn’t get any grander, when the center of the mall has two roller coasters, a ferris wheel, and a log flume ride, along with several others, an aquarium, fourteen screen movie theatre, and a few hundred stores. Sadly, either I arrived too late or experienced that Minnesota nice, because I missed the stampedes and fights on getting to that must-have bargain.

During my wanderings, I did take an informal survey of the local population to see what their biggest local political issue was. The unscientific results came back that Minneapolis’ recently enacted smoking ban was the hot button issue of the day. No doubt the zombies will be disappointed. After all, even the undead should have rights, no?


Faded Away

William Dowling is still at it, years after having faded away. I remember the Rutgers 1000 program from my days at Rutgers, and the overall ambivalence most students felt toward the group even during those dark days when Rutgers football was as bad as it got. Many held similar sympathies about whether Rutgers should stay in the Big East and Div 1A, but I think that was driven mainly by the fact that Rutgers never looked as though the team could win. Now that the team has finally turned the corner, the group has faded away in to obscurity.

While I understand their concern, the group strikes me even more now as riddled with contradiction. They want the University to be great, yet point to other great schools with successful football programs.

Rutgers alumnus Mark Mattia, a 1975 graduate, said athletic director Bob Mulcahy has somehow sold the idea that a great football team makes a university great.

“That’s nonsense,” Mattia said. “Michigan, Berkeley, they are not great because they have great football teams. They are great universities.”

While Mattia is right on the point of great Universities, he overstates the power that Mulcahy actually has. I doubt anyone believes that merely having a good football team makes a great University. However, a good football team provides a source of pride in a great University in a way that merely strong academics rarely can and provides a constant source of attention. So long as the players continue to graduate and stay out of trouble (i.e. avoid the Miami model of football), the team has my backing.


Rising Rutgers

And now Rutgers is ranked #7 in the AP poll, #8 in the USA Today pool. Where will the BCS put RU?

Update: We’re #6!


The Aftermath of Rutgers’ win


That’s the only response I had after Rutgers huge upset win over Louisville. And apparently like many others, sleep was the last thing anyone had on their minds.

The game received a writeup as far away as Taipei, but it was the Louisville coverage that was the most fun to read (Pisgotaway = priceless). And while Louisville may not love us right now, CNBC certainly has its share of fans.

The win obvioulsy had immediate BCS implications, which have only shifted even more when Saturday’s games were all said and done.

All of this begs the question – where exactly will RU be bowling this year?


Do You Believe It

My voice is hoarse, as I just experienced the loudest, craziest crowd ever in my history of Rutgers football games, as Rutgers made a huge comeback to beat Louisville. Never before have I heard the stadium so loud as I did tonight, the crowd so electric, standing, waving, cheering. And when all was said and done, the RU faithful gathered across the field.

The team that no one thought was a contender just showed how truly great a team can be when they all play together.


Shocked and Amazed

I was scanning through the list of ballot initiative results from around the country, and what has amazed me the most are the number of initiatives around increasing the minimum wage and pegging future raises to some index such as inflation that have actually been projected to pass.

I am definitely interested in checking out the results of some of the closer social ballot initiatives on same-sex marriage, legalizing the ganja, and stem cell research to see how those fare.