EARLY FRANCHISES? -- Amid a resurgence of interest in century-old photos of Chinese peasant life prior to the Cultural Revolution, Robert Bickers and Jamie Carstairs from the University of Bristol have made public a rare collection of tattered black-and-white images taken around the turn of the 20th century. While the authenticity of most of them is unquestioned, one seems to demand further explanation. In a shot of Shanghai’s main thoroughfare purportedly dated 1911, you can just make out a Starbuck’s and a P.F. Chang’s.
ON THE STITCHES -- A Connecticut sports memorabilia auction house announced that it has sold the baseball that Lou Gehrig hit in the 1928 World Series to drive in Babe Ruth. The ball, which was put up for auction to help defray the owner’s medical school bills, sold for a winning bid of $62,617. While the identity of the buyer was not disclosed it was reported that he exclaimed, “Today, I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth.”
DOOBY-DOO -- Rendering his decision in a patent infringement case, Judge Colin Birss of the Chancery Division of the British High Court ruled that Samsung's tablet PC was "not as cool" as Apple's in its "understated simplicity of design" and therefore did not infringe Apple's patent. Not surprisingly, Colin is himself one of the coolest judges on the High Court. It was he who suggested to Her Majesty that she dub Elton John a knight.
BEATTY FAN -- Following a high-ranking Syrian general who jumped ship last week, Nawaf Fares, the Syrian ambassador to Iraq has renounced Syrian President Bashar al-Assad whom he called "brutal." Even more shocking, he further sealed his fate by announcing that his favorite movie is and always has been "Ishtar."