April 30, 2007
How many farmers does it take...
to tattoo a pig? Here's a collection of six images of some tattooed pigs at a page titled artfarm china.
Blood will tell
A wealthy aristocrat was hosting a party at his estate, which had been in his family for generations. He noticed that one of his guests bore a striking resemblance to himself. He could not believe that such a similarity could exist without a genetic link. So, guessing that his father had sown some wild oats, he approached the guest and asked with a smirk, "Was your mother ever a maid at this estate?"
"No," replied the guest, "but my father was once the gardener."
High tension line inspector
Here's an interesting clip about someone who inspects high voltage lines while they're energized, wearing a Faraday suit.
April 29, 2007
Weekend reading 19
And some good news for a change.
First, some Eminent Domain blow-back here in St. Louis, as described in this article from the Post-Dispatch:
Eminent domain flashpoint
By William C. Lhotka and Tim O'Neil
ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
CLAYTON — The condemnation of prime land in downtown Clayton for a $210 million redevelopment got a setback Tuesday and a fast-track ride to the Missouri Supreme Court for a review of the taking of private property for commercial use.
It was the first victory for three landowners who insist it was ridiculous to declare their upscale buildings blighted to make way for an office-retail project by the Centene Plaza Redevelopment Corp.
Calling any part of downtown Clayton "blighted" is so ridiculous it just beggars description. I was at the county courthouse in Clayton last week for jury duty and was struck by just how upscale downtown Clayton looks. Here's the kind of "blight" you'll find in Clayton (from city-data.com with my emphasis and parenthetical comment):
Median resident age: 36.7 years
Estimated median household income in 2005: $68,900 [national median in 2005: $46,326.]
Estimated median house/condo value in 2005: $601,400
Next, maybe we really do have a First Amendment? Here's a report from The Seattle Times about a unanimous decision by the Washington State Supreme Court.
Supreme Court says radio talk not a political donation
Posted by David Postman at 08:46 AM
The state Supreme Court said in an opinion released this morning that KVI talk show hosts did not need to report their advocacy for an anti-gas tax campaign as an in-kind political contribution. And the court has reinstated a countersuit filed by the No New Gas Tax (NNGT) campaign against local governments that initially sued.
Note that this suit was brought against the radio station by some local governments. (Your tax dollars at work, Washingtonians.) So I'm thrilled to see this spade called what it was: the government repressing speech that opposed a tax increase.
The US Supreme Court also heard a BCRA-related case this week. Maybe they'll put a stake through the heart of McCain-Feingold.
Finally, an interesting blog post at American.com called Flat World, Flat Taxes.
From Montenegro to Mauritius, competition is making tax codes simpler and fairer.
Fifteen years ago, advocates of the flat tax had lots of supporting theory, but very little firm data. Milton Friedman had championed the flat tax, and Alvin Rabushka and Robert Hall of the Hoover Institution authored an elegant book detailing how a flat tax would work, but the political establishment largely ignored these efforts. Hong Kong had a flat tax, but critics said it was somehow a special case. Two other British territories, Jersey and Guernsey, also had flat tax systems, but the outside world was (and largely still is) unaware of those systems.
The world has changed. Today, spurred by tax competition, there are now 16 jurisdictions that have some form of flat tax, and two more nations are about to join the club. With the exception of Iceland and Mauritius, all of the new flat tax nations are former Soviet Republics or former Soviet Bloc nations. This is a sign of tax competition in the region, and shows that people who suffered under communism are less susceptible to class-warfare rhetoric about “taxing the rich.”
Via the CFG blog.
I've read that even the Swiss are getting in on this act because their capital gains taxes are driving banking business to other locations in Europe (primarily London).
April 28, 2007
Viral video genius
"Je ne foie gras" R!
Location, location, location
A cop is waiting across the street from a bar late on a Saturday night, watching for drunks trying to drive home. After a short wait, one particularly sad case stumbles out the door, bleary eyed, confused, wandering the parking lot looking for his car. He locates his car, fumbles for his keys, bumps his head getting in, and drives over the curb on the way out of the parking lot.
Of course he doesn't get very far at all before the cop pulls him over. The cop has him step out of the car, sizes him up, and administers several field sobriety tests. The driver has trouble understanding some of the tests and fails them all miserably: he can't touch his nose, he can't walk straight, he can't stand on one foot and he can't recite a speedy alphabet.
The final legal step, of course, is the breathalyzer, so the cop asks his subject to blow into the tube. Green light.
In disbelief, the cop checks the breathalyzer and has the suspect try again. Another green light - the guy's blood alcohol level is within legal limits.
"All right," asks the cop, "how can you pass a breath test when you're so obviously falling-down drunk?"
"Well, it's like this," replies the guy. "I'm the designated decoy."
April 26, 2007
David Blaine's Street Magic
Here are two very funny clips that parody David Blaine's street magic act. The dialog is definitely NSFW, so mind the volume.
Take a warning
A blind man wanders into an all-female biker bar by mistake. He finds his way to a bar stool and orders some coffee. After sitting there for a few minutes, he yells out, "Hey, anyone wanna hear a blonde joke?"
The bar immediately falls absolutely silent. In a very deep, husky voice, the woman next to him says, "Before you tell that joke, sir, I think it is only fair -- since you're blind -- that you should know five things: 1. The bartender is a blonde woman with a baseball bat. 2.The bouncer is a blonde who's taking boxing lessons. 3. I'm a 6 foot tall, 175 lb. blonde woman with a black belt in karate 4. The woman sitting next to me is blonde and she's a professional weightlifter. 5. The lady to your right is blonde and a professional wrestler."
"Now, think about it seriously, Mister. Do you still wanna tell that joke?"
The blind man thinks for a second, shakes his head, and mutters, "Well, no... Not if I'm gonna have to explain it five times."
10 uncommon USB drives
Or the 10 Most Pointless, as this article calls them.
April 24, 2007
A picture of a rainstorm as it rolled up the valley this evening. (Click for a larger image.)
So there's this bar in Gotham where all the comic book super heroes hang out. Last Friday night Spiderman and Superman were sitting at a table in the corner having a couple of cold ones. Superman asked, "So what's new with you, Spidey?"
Spiderman replied, "Nothing special, just the same old stuff... fighting crime and foiling the bad guys. How about you, man? Anything exciting happen lately?"
Superman replied, "Well, come to think of it, last weekend I was just flying around the city and you'll never guess who I saw."
"It was our old friend Wonder Woman," replied Superman. "She was out in her yard lying on her back, sunbathing in the nude."
"What a picture!" said Spiderman. "So what did you do?"
"Well," said Superman, "I couldn't help myself. I ripped off my cape and my leotards and swooped down right on top of her."
"Man, I'll bet she was really surprised!" said Spiderman.
"Yeah, she was," said Superman. "But not nearly as surprised as the Invisible Man was."
Here's a clip of a Norwegian named Terje Haakonsen making the firs snowboard descent of 7601, a mountain in Alaska. This cat is seriously impressive.
And speaking of super heroes
Captain America Arrested With Burrito In Pants
POSTED: 4:33 pm EDT April 23, 2007
UPDATED: 10:42 am EDT April 24, 2007
MELBOURNE, Fla. -- A Brevard County doctor dressed up in a Captain America outfit was arrested with a burrito in his tights. What he allegedly did at the police station got him into more trouble.
Doctor Raymond Adamcik, 54, would probably rather forget about the weekend when he was arrested on charges of battery, disorderly conduct, drug possession and trying to destroy evidence. It's not what you would expect from a doctor or Captain America.
April 18, 2007
Nice Flash presentation
Here's a collection of great images, animated in a Flash presenation from the BBC. Visit the site and then click the Maximize button in the upper left corner for full-screen mode.
Immediate opening for a public relations person
The Hercules Fence Company obviously needs one:
Ocala Residents Protest Offensive Sign
POSTED: 7:44 am EDT April 18, 2007
OCALA, Fla. -- Some Ocala residents aren't laughing at a joke posted on the sign of a local fencing business.
The sign in front of Hercules Fence Company says, quote: "What has four wheels and flies? A dead cripple in a wheelchair."
Carol Terrillion had polio as a child and uses a motorized wheelchair. She is also the project coordinator at Ocala's Center for Independent Living.
Terrillion and others protested in front of the business Tuesday and demanded the sign be taken down.
The store's commercial manager told protesters the message would come down Friday. The manager said the store's owner, Paul Buchkovich, decided which weekly jokes to post.
The company also drew criticism in 2005 with another joke posted on its sign.
During Violence Awareness Week, its sign said, quote: "Take your ex-wife out. One bullet oughtta do it."
So far out
April 17, 2007
Something else I never expected to see
A monster Rolls... (Click for a larger image.)
I've been expecting this
Selling stuff online? Here comes the IRS
By Declan McCullagh and Anne Broache
Staff Writer, CNET News.com
Published: April 13, 2007, 3:50 PM PDT
Americans who sell items through Internet auction sites could be in for an unpleasant surprise at tax time next year, thanks to an IRS proposal designed to identify taxpayers who don't report income from those sales.
The U.S. Treasury Department wants Congress to force auction sites like eBay, Amazon.com and uBid.com to turn over the identities and Social Security numbers of a large portion of their users to the IRS--so tax collectors know how much each person made through online selling.
Via the CFG blog.
A funny clip from Carol about a clever dog.
Video below the fold.
Save (WMF format)
April 15, 2007
Take my hand
A seasonally appropriate oldie:
One day a tax collector went down to take the subway to his office. Unfortunately for him, he stood too near the rails, was jostled, and fell onto the tracks just as a train was approaching.
Many of the crowd leaned over to him, yelling "Give me your hand! Give me your hand!" But the man refused to do so.
Finally, someone yelled to him, "What's your job?"
"Tax collector," the man replied.
"Then take my hand!" yelled the questioner. The tax collector reached up, took the man's hand and was pulled from the tracks just in time to avoid the incoming train.
The crowd was amazed by the dramatic rescue and some stayed to ask the hero how he'd done it. "How did you get him to grab your hand?" they asked.
"You heard him say he was a tax collector, so he wasn't going to give anyone anything. But he was glad to take my hand."
Read it and weep
April 14, 2007
A couple of skydivers do some amazing aerobatics in this clip about a free-flying competition.
Playing with your veggies
Carol sends a collection of 12 images. They're all pop-ups.
Here's your sign...
I walked into Dairy Queen the other day and asked for a hot fudge sundae with extra hot fudge.
The girl at the counter replied, "The hot fudge comes in one temperature only, sir."
April 11, 2007
The willie fish
Improved warning labels
As scientists and concerned citizens, we applaud the recent trend towards legislation that requires the prominent placing of warnings on products that present hazards to the general public. Yet we must also offer the cautionary thought that such warnings, however well-intentioned, merely scratch the surface of what is really necessary in this important area. This is especially true in light of the findings of 20th century physics.
We are therefore proposing that, as responsible scientists, we join together in an intensive push for new laws that will mandate the conspicuous placement of suitably informative warnings on the packaging of every product offered for sale in the United States of America. Our suggested list of warnings appears below.
WARNING: This Product Warps Space and Time in Its Vicinity.
WARNING: This Product Attracts Every Other Piece of Matter in the Universe, Including the Products of Other Manufacturers, with a Force Proportional to the Product of the Masses and Inversely Proportional to the Distance Between Them.
CAUTION: The Mass of This Product Contains the Energy Equivalent of 85 Million Tons of TNT per Net Ounce of Weight.
HANDLE WITH EXTREME CARE: This Product Contains Minute Electrically Charged Particles Moving at Velocities in Excess of Five Hundred Million Miles Per Hour.
CONSUMER NOTICE: Because of the "Uncertainty Principle," It Is Impossible for the Consumer to Find Out at the Same Time Both Precisely Where This Product Is and How Fast It Is Moving.
ADVISORY: There is an Extremely Small but Nonzero Chance That, Through a Process Know as "Tunneling," This Product May Spontaneously Disappear from Its Present Location and Reappear at Any Random Place in the Universe, Including Your Neighbor's Domicile. The Manufacturer Will Not Be Responsible for Any Damages or Inconvenience That May Result.
READ THIS BEFORE OPENING PACKAGE: According to Certain Suggested Versions of the Grand Unified Theory, the Primary Particles Constituting this Product May Decay to Nothingness Within the Next Four Hundred Million Years.
THIS IS A 100% MATTER PRODUCT: In the Unlikely Event That This Merchandise Should Contact Antimatter in Any Form, a Catastrophic Explosion Will Result.
PUBLIC NOTICE AS REQUIRED BY LAW: Any Use of This Product, in Any Manner Whatsoever, Will Increase the Amount of Disorder in the Universe. Although No Liability Is Implied Herein, the Consumer Is Warned That This Process Will Ultimately Lead to the Heat Death of the Universe.
NOTE: The Most Fundamental Particles in This Product Are Held Together by a "Gluing" Force About Which Little is Currently Known and Whose Adhesive Power Can Therefore Not Be Permanently Guaranteed.
ATTENTION: Despite Any Other Listing of Product Contents Found Hereon, the Consumer is Advised That, in Actuality, This Product Consists Of 99.9999999999% Empty Space.
NEW GRAND UNIFIED THEORY DISCLAIMER: The Manufacturer May Technically Be Entitled to Claim That This Product Is Ten-Dimensional. However, the Consumer Is Reminded That This Confers No Legal Rights Above and Beyond Those Applicable to Three-Dimensional Objects, Since the Seven New Dimensions Are "Rolled Up" into Such a Small "Area" That They Cannot Be Detected.
PLEASE NOTE: Some Quantum Physics Theories Suggest That When the Consumer Is Not Directly Observing This Product, It May Cease to Exist or Will Exist Only in a Vague and Undetermined State.
COMPONENT EQUIVALENCY NOTICE: The Subatomic Particles (Electrons, Protons, etc.) Comprising This Product Are Exactly the Same in Every Measurable Respect as Those Used in the Products of Other Manufacturers, and No Claim to the Contrary May Legitimately Be Expressed or Implied.
HEALTH WARNING: Care Should Be Taken When Lifting This Product, Since Its Mass, and Thus Its Weight, Is Dependent on Its Velocity Relative to the User.
IMPORTANT NOTICE TO PURCHASERS: The Entire Physical Universe, Including This Product, May One Day Collapse Back into an Infinitesimally Small Space. Should Another Universe Subsequently Re-emerge, the Existence of This Product in That Universe Cannot Be Guaranteed.
(From Volume 36, Number 1 of The Journal of Irreproducible Results. Copyright 1991 Blackwell Scientific Publications Inc.)
Some clever work with a chain saw. Here's 1 of 10 images from The World According to Carl:
Several live oak trees in the median of U.S. Highway 90, Biloxi, Mississippi that died as a result of hurricane Katrina received new life at the hands of a skilled chain saw artist.
April 10, 2007
Money and power
What was it P.J. O'Rourke said about government?
Florida: City to Seize Homes Over a $5 Parking Ticket
Brooksville, Florida proposes to foreclose homes and seize cars over less than $20 in parking tickets.
Brooksville, FloridaThe city council in Brooksville, Florida voted this week to advance a proposal granting city officials the authority to place liens and foreclose on the homes of motorists accused of failing to pay a single $5 parking ticket. Non-homeowners face having their vehicles seized if accused of not paying three parking offenses.
Via The Agitator.
Computerworld's Top 10
CW has a list it calls The top 10 funniest tech videos on YouTube. The Medieval Help Desk is #1 on their list.
La Boite Bleue
This has been one of my favorite geek stories for years.
Translated from the memoirs of Jean Turing-VonNeuman, a minor 19th century post-impressionist programmer.
I will never forget that Spring, that day. Paris had an air of revolution. The week before an exhibition of Seraut's listings had caused a sensation. In his unrelenting quest for simplicity he had reduced all of programming to three machine instructions. The resulting 6,000 line bubble sort had shocked the critics.
My own recent efforts had been received poorly. I had cut and slashed through my programs, juxtaposing blocks of code in a way that exposed the underlying intensity of the algorithm without regard to convention or syntax.
"But it doesn't compile," they complained.
As if programming was about adhering to their primitive language definitions. As if it was my duty to live within the limits of their antiquated and ordinary compilers. So it was that I came that day to La Boite Bleue, seeking solace and companionship.
La Boite Bleue was where we gathered in those days. The wine there was cheap, the tables were large and they kept a complete set of language manuals behind the bar.
As I entered I heard Henri's measured accents above the din. "...that complexity is not the salient characteristic of exemplary style."
Toulouse-Lautrec was seated at a table spread with greenbar. Manet, redfaced, loomed over him. "Damm your recursion, Henri. Iteration, however complex, is always more efficient."
Manet stormed away from the table in the direction of the bar. He always seemed angry at that time. Partly because his refusal to write in anything but FORTRAN isolated him from the rest of the avant-garde, partly because people kept confusing him with Monet. Henri motioned to me to join him at the table."Have you heard from Vincent recently?"
We were all concerned about Van Gogh. Only a few days before he had completed an order n sorting routine that required no additional memory. Unfortunately, because he had written it in C and refused, on principle, to comment his code, no one had understood a line of it. He had not taken it well.
"No. Why?" I asked.
"He and Gaugin had a violent argument last night over whether a side effect should be considered output and he hasn't been seen since. I fear he may have done something ... rash."
We were suddenly interrupted by the waitress's terrified scream. I turned in time to see something fall from the open envelope she held in her hand. Stooping to retrieve it, I was seized by a wave of revulsion as I recognized that the object in my hand, bestially torn from its accustomed place, was the mouse from Van Gogh's workstation. The waitress, who had fainted, lay in an unnoticed heap beside me.
By the evening, the incident had become the talk of Paris.
William A Rennie
Computer Science Department, SUNY at Albany, Albany, NY 12222
April 09, 2007
Here's a clever ad from 18 Doughty Street about tax policy in Britain. (And it reminds me that it's almost time for the annual reprise of The Beatles' Taxman.)
Via the CFG blog.
Division of labor
Little Jimmy was four years old. Ond day he was bugging his mother, so she said to him, "Jimmy, why don't you go across the street and watch the builders working. Maybe you'll learn something."
Jimmy was gone about two hours. When he came home, his mother asked him what he learned. Jimmy replied, "Well, first you put the goddam door up, and the son-of-a-bitch doesn't fit so you have to take the friggin' thing back down. Then you have to take a hair off each side and put the mother-humper back up."
Jimmy's mother said, "You just wait till your father comes home, young man!" And she sent him to his room.
When Jimmy's dad got home, mom told him to ask Jimmy what he learned across the street. Jimmy told his dad the whole story. His dad said, "Jimmy, go outside and get me a switch!"
"Screw you," Jimmy said, "that's the electrician's job!"
April 07, 2007
The following appeared in the 4/29/91 issue of New York magazine. They run a periodic feature called the Competition, where readers are invited to submit humorous entries that conform to a particular topic. In this one, the topic was Collective Nouns.
A plethora of lispers
An overbearance of brood mares
A mingling of broken vases
A tenet of palindromes
A hotbed of quilts
A veneer of newscasters
A brace of orthodontists
A rash of dermatologists
A chain of lynx
A gaggle of censors (or comedians)
An amalgam of dentists
A cast of orthopedists
A slew of retired hit men
A box of pugilists
A concert of yes men
A flash of paparazzi
A bunch of florists
A sum of adders
A set of hairdressers
A herd of otologists
A lot of: salt, realtors, parking attendants, or auctioneers
A column of architects
A ring of jewelers
A great deal of used-car salesmen
Here's an entertaining stage magic act.
Richards Says He Snorted Dad's Ashes
Rolling Stones Guitarist Said Mixture 'Went Down Pretty Well'
POSTED: 3:07 pm EDT April 3, 2007
LONDON -- Keith Richards has admitted to a lot of drug use, but the way he honored his father tops them all: He snorted him.
Richards told the British music magazine NME that he snorted his father's ashes mixed with cocaine.
The Rolling Stones guitarist's father, Bert, died in 2002 and was cremated.
Richards said that he couldn't resist "grinding him up with a little bit of blow." He said his dad would not have cared.
Richards said it "went down pretty well" and he's still alive.
April 03, 2007
The amazing iPhone
Here's a funny spoof on the iPhone that appeared on Late Night with Conan O'Brien.
Midstate Office Supply
Miniland Las Vegas is now open in Legoland, CA.
April 01, 2007
Weekend Watching II
This video clip is a promotional piece for LEAP -- Law Enforcement Against Prohibition. At 13 1/2 minutes, it's a little long but well worth the time. Why a country that tried and gave up on The Noble Experiment would start a War On Drugs a few decades later is something I never have understood. Are we just slow learners?
I found the link last August at The Agitator's site:
LEAP needs more attention. This is an organization of 5,000 current and former law enforcement officials who recognize the failure and the damage effected by the war on drugs. And it has grown to 5,000 from just five founding members a few years ago. Seems to me that that's pretty newsworthy. So pass this video on. If you're in a position to show it to a large group of people -- students, Rotary clubs, civic groups, etc. -- contact LEAP directly. They'll send you a DVD. Better yet, book one of these guys to come speak in person.
When he posted that, The Agitator was a policy analyst at the Cato Institute, where he published Overkill: The Rise of Paramilitary Police Raids in America. Be sure to check out the interactive map of botched paramilitary raids. He's now a senior editor for Reason magazine but still tracks SWAT team abuses at his own site.
If this topic interests you, be sure to check out Pete Guither's Drug War Rant.
The Taco Liberty Bell
...and 99 other funny hoaxes are described in the Top 100 April Fool's Day Hoaxes at the Museum of Hoaxes.
#4: The Taco Liberty Bell
In 1996 the Taco Bell Corporation announced that it had bought the Liberty Bell from the federal government and was renaming it the Taco Liberty Bell. Hundreds of outraged citizens called up the National Historic Park in Philadelphia where the bell is housed to express their anger.
Home-grown hyacinths and daffodils may not be as tasty as home-grown tomatoes, but they certainly make a prettier centerpiece.