Thursday, April 30, 2009

‘The pen business is not dead’

Karl Heinz Handke, President (Western Hemisphere), Montblanc International

"Montblanc’s Karl-Heinz Handke is very touchy about pens. He believes the love letter must not be written with anything other than the good old fountain pen. Some things may just be wishful thinking, but wishing never did anyone any harm, did it?

With technology taking over, is the pen still relevant in today’s day and age, forget the future? Yes, it is, says Handke, President – Western Hemisphere and Member of the Executive Board, Montblanc International. “The fountain pen is still special. Especially to express personal feelings … to write a love letter … hopefully,” he chuckles, before adding: “But the pen market today is not a huge market. So we have to come out with special edition pens and rare pieces to keep that market alive. But pens are still contributing a little less than 50 per cent to our sales – in absolute terms, as one product category. The rest is from watches, jewellery, and so on. So, it’s not that pens are dying or decreasing in sales, it’s just that other product categories are growing faster than pens. But the pen business is not dead.”"

Glad to hear it! Click on the title bar to read the full article from 'The Hindu'

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Humanity's earliest written works go online

"National libraries and the U.N. education agency put some of humanity's earliest written works online Tuesday, from ancient Chinese oracle bones to the first European map of the New World.

Winds of the Four Directions
oracle bone 1200 B.C.

U.S. Librarian of Congress James Billington said the idea behind the World Digital Library is not to compete with Google or Wikipedia but to pique young readers' interest - and get them reading books.

"You have to go back to books," Billington said in an interview in Paris, where the project was launched at UNESCO's headquarters. "These are primary documents of a culture."

Read the rest of the AP article by clicking on the post title above.

To go directly to the library, click here.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

A First Look at the Bones of a ‘Hobbit’

"A cast of the skull and bones of the hominid Homo floresiensis will be displayed for the first time at a public symposium titled “Hobbits in the Haystack.”

Click the entry title to go to the NY Times article.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Belgium anyone? The Sound of Music

Should you ever find yourself walking through the train station in Antwerp, and suddenly Julie Andrews starts singing through the loudspeakers...don't worry if you miss your train!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Thousands of dolphins block Somali pirates

Although there are other explanations, it's interesting to contemplate that dolphin pods coordinated in such a fashion for the suggested purpose.

"BEIJING, April 14 (Xinhuanet) -- Thousands of dolphins blocked the suspected Somali pirate ships when they were trying to attack Chinese merchant ships passing the Gulf of Aden, the China Radio International reported on Monday.

Thousands of dolphins blocked the suspected Somali pirate ships when they were trying to attack Chinese merchant ships passing the Gulf of Aden, the China Radio International reported on Monday.(Photo:

The Chinese merchant ships escorted by a China's fleet sailed on the Gulf of Aden when they met some suspected pirate ships. Thousands of dolphins suddenly leaped out of water between pirates and merchants when the pirate ships headed for the China's.

The suspected pirates ships stopped and then turned away. The pirates could only lament their littleness befor the vast number of dolphins. The spectacular scene continued for a while.

China initiated its three-ship escort task force on Dec. 26 last year after the United Nations Security Council called on countries to patrol gulf and waters off Somalia, one of the world's busiest marine routes, where surging piracy endangered intercontinental shipping.

China's first fleet has escorted 206 vessels, including 29 foreign merchant vessels, and successfully rescued three foreign merchant ships from pirate attacks.

About 20 percent of Chinese merchant ships passing through the waters off Somalia were attacked by pirates from January to November in 2008, before the task force was deployed.

A total of seven ships, either owned by China or carrying Chinese cargo and crew, were hijacked.

Tianyu No. 8, a Chinese fishing vessel with 16 Chinese and eight foreign sailors aboard, was captured by Somali pirates on Nov. 14 and released in early February.

The second fleet of Chinese escort ships arrived at the Gulf of Aden on Monday to replace the first fleet.

(Xinhua and Cri contributed to the story"

Monday, April 13, 2009

15 Creative Motorcycle Helmets

This one belongs to Seven-time world champion Valentino Rossi. See the other 14 by clicking on the title.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Jay Leno's Garage -- 1937 Cord 812 Westchester

Jay Leno produces some really terrific videos about his ever-enlarging car collection.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

AP source: Spies compromised US electric grid

"SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) - Spies hacked into the U.S. electric grid and left behind computer programs that would let them disrupt service, exposing potentially catastrophic vulnerabilities in key pieces of national infrastructure, The Associated Press has learned.

..."The vulnerability may be bigger than we think," the official said, adding that the level of sophistication necessary to pull off such intrusions is so high that it is "almost without a doubt" done by state sponsors."

Click on the title to read the entire story.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

The British Steam Car Challenge

"It looks like the love child of the Batmobile and an F-15 fighter jet. Deep in its genome are traces of a very early automotive bloodline, the Stanley Steamer.

Meet the British Steam Car. It's out to set a land speed record. On Wednesday, it passed a milestone with a run of better than 80 mph on a test track in England."
Jonathan Skillings -- CNET News

"At the end of a run, the British Steam Car deploys parachutes to slow down. The goal of the project is to beat what the group says is the longest officially standing land speed record for steam-powered cars. That record--127 mph--was set in 1906 at Daytona Beach, Fla., by a variation on the Stanley Steamer driven by Fred Marriott. The British group aims to get to 170 mph.

(A 1985 attempt by a separate group apparently got to 145 mph for a single run, but was not able to make the second run required for official consideration.)

According to the Federation Internationale de l'Automobile, the overall World Land Speed Record is 763 mph, set in 1997 by a twin turbofan jet-powered car called the ThrustSSC."

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Thursday, April 02, 2009

An interesting awareness test

Check out the other awareness videos that appear at the bottom when the video finishes.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Camlin retractable pen

The Camlin retractable fountain pen from India is a conversation starter the moment you take it out in public. The fun starts when you remove the cap to reveal....well....nothing!

The Camlin pen is available here.