Looking Back: Cleaning Up Hamburg’s Nightclub District


I used to draw a fair number of humor pieces from the oddball news. Or from noticing things that weren’t quite oddball but that I happened to notice and that caught my fancy. I’m not sure why I fell out from that. Possibly because reading the oddball news leaves you likely to run across the actual news. Also Reuters took out their “Oddly Enough” news page, and BBC News has moved theirs (“Also in the News”) somewhere I can’t find.

Well, anyway. Here’s a piece from a couple years back when it was easier to find merry little stuff. As often happens with me, it’s based on new advances in materials science, because I’m just like that. I don’t know. I can’t help it. Something about “things that can be surfaces of things” fires my comic imagination, which should do much to explain why I am a humor blogger rather than a successful humor blogger.

Paint Is Unsurprisingly Bad At Making Threats


The banner ad warned “the first bacteria-killing paint is here”. It’s a badly placed message. While I’m as intimidated as anyone by killer paints, the simple fact is I’m not a bacteria. The banner ad service would know this if it were any good at its job, which it’s not, because it’s a banner ad service. The best you can hope for is they’ll be ready in case I need another hip-hugging laundry basket right away. As it is the existence of the ad is baffling. I’m not a bacteria so I’m not threatened by the paint unless someone drops it in the bucket on my head. And if I were a bacteria, why are they warning me ahead of the paint being applied? This would just warn me way ahead of time to duck out of the way or hold my cilia until the painting thing blows over. It’s a really badly-thought-out banner ad even by the standards of banner ads. No sense to it at all.

Another Blog, Meanwhile Index

The index dropped again slightly today, as it was distracted when someone at Wendy’s ordered fifteen spicy chicken wraps and one regular fries. Not even a drink or anything, just far too many sandwiches and a normal order of fries. The index doesn’t even know anymore. Gads.

105

In Which My Love Makes A Good Observation


Aisle 23 label: 'Martha Stewart Paint; Tempera Paint; Paint'.
This could really be anywhere. But where it actually is, is an aisle at the local Michael’s. Aisle 23, I suppose.

“Or you could label the aisle `Paint’.”


I’ve mentioned this several times in recent days, but it’s true again. I had a fresh new bunch of mathematically-themed comic strips over in my other blog. And I’d like it if you read them, thanks. Also there’s an appeal for mathematics terms for me to attempt defining. If you don’t know what something means, let me know. I might have a fair idea. Thank you, won’t you?

Cleaning Up Hamburg’s Nightclub District


If I did not occasionally check in on Reuters I would have no thoughts, one way or another, about the problems of public drunken urination in the nightclub district of Hamburg. I don’t think I’m being shortsighted in this, what with my not being in or near Hamburg and having no particular responsibility for the nightclub district. I suppose we’ve all got some responsibility for public drunken urination, supporting or opposing, but I come down on the opposing side because I’ve never figured how you would wash your hands properly afterward, using warm water, soap, and a good lather. The best I can figure is go in somewhere that has a bathroom and then the public-drunken-urination part of things seems like pettiness rather than real need.

But according to Reuters the drunken public urination problem in Hamburg has been getting worse, and I’m going ahead and assuming that’s because modern liquids are so much more moist and damp than old-fashioned ones are. I’m assuming we’re making liquids more liquidy than we used to, what with advances in materials science and how much blenders have come down in price. Apparently Germans even have a great name for people who go drunkenly urinating in public, “Wildpinkler”, which makes the whole phenomenon sound like it’s an aggressively whimsical musical microgenre, possibly including pianos.

So according to Reuters, Julia Staron, who organized a local interest group that I am from context assuming opposes the public drunken urination phenomenon, said, “Wild peeing has been a problem here for a long time”, which delights a side of me that’s more immature than even I imagined. In fact, this whole essay I know is going to ruin some people’s image of me as a rather mature, faintly stodgy person sitting in the corner and not wanting to get to close to all that foolishness over there. They’re never going to go back to seeing me as a person who literally and unironically responds to some things by going “teehee”.

Staron’s group thinks they’ve got a solution to the Hamburg public drunken urination problem, and it’s in what the article calls super-hydrophobic and oleophobic nano-coating, which isn’t a terrifying pile of words to throw against one another like that at all. But that’s because you’re making an understandable mistake: the oleo they’re phobic of is not the short bits vaudevillians did in front of the curtain while more complicated acts were set up behind. I’m glad to clear that up. Still it does sound like this is a kind of paint that just can’t get along with anybody. I hope it likes bricks at least.

But the result of all this hydrophobic oleophobic stuff is that it’s a kind of paint that liquids splash back off of almost perfectly, so someone trying to piddle on the wall ends up piddling right back on themselves. I can’t see any unwanted consequences arising from turning groups of drunken revelers piddling on buildings into groups of drunken revelers who tried to piddle on buildings and instead urinated on their own legs. And in fairness the plan is to have signs around the hydrophobic buildings that warn “Do not pee here! We pee back!” in all the key languages of drunk people in Hamburg’s nightclub district, so the drunken revelers will be able to use their good judgement about where to urinate after receiving a warning and threat from the local signage. My suggestion would be, maybe a step or two farther back from the building.

It’s a fairly expensive paint, coming in at about eight dollars per square foot, so I guess we’re not going to see water towers painted with it just for the fun of making the city’s water supply feel insecure. And the news article reports that the urine-reflecting paint was developed by Nissan, in a research project that I feel must’ve been pretty far under way before someone asked, “Paint to make German nightclubs less attractive to drunken revelers? Aren’t we supposed to be making cars?” And then everyone slaps their head and says, “Cars! Oh! Right! We were confused.” But by then they were far enough along it was silly to stop. If I’m wrong I don’t think I need to know.

Plaid Skies Over Petaluma


What can be quite so comforting as looking out the window to see a sunny, blue sky? Knowing it’s doing so during regularly scheduled daylight hours, for one. If you keep finding the sun glaring down on you at hours like 3 am, for example 2:45 am, it’s possible that you’re accidentally on the wrong side of the planet. Check again, from the outside. But spotting the sun and the blue sky is a good way of telling that this is a slow day.

And yet there are portions of the world that don’t have a day or a night. The sun just shuffles around, hesitantly, apologizing right before bumping into things and leaving people with no idea how they’re supposed to react or how far they should rebound. Residents look out to the sky and it’s not blue or gray or even black, but just this vast wash of light fuchsia. This produces considerable tension among the residents because nobody can ever fully escape the feeling that “fuchsia” is spelled incorrectly. Teams of expert spellers have been working on the problem for decades now and they still look over the word, and into dictionaries, and back again, and sigh and ask for a couple months yet to figure things out.

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