July 31, 2007
Another vicitm of Dumb Thumb
Bus Driver Fired for 38,000 Text Messages
Jul 26 12:55 PM US/Eastern
WARSAW, Poland (AP) - A Polish bus driver has been fired for sending 38,000 text messages on his company cell phone in a losing effort to win contest jackpot, a spokesman said Thursday.
Leszek Wojcik, a bus driver in the northwestern Polish city of Slupsk, ran up a tab of some 94,000 zlotys ($34,000) with his text messages while trying to win a 100,000-zloty ($36,000) SMS contest that ended June 30, Slupsk city transport spokesman Hubert Boba told The Associated Press.
Here's a woman at Wurzburg University in Germany showing off her bike-riding skills. They're pretty impressive. That's not a unicycle.
Madame de Gaulle
An anecdote told of Charles de Gaulle's wife:
Lunching with English friends at the time of her husband's retirement, Madame de Gaulle was asked what she was looking forward to in the years ahead.
"A penis," she replied without hesitation.
The embarrassed silence that followed was broken by the former president. "My dear," he murmured, "I think the English don't pronounce the word quite like that. It's 'appiness.'
July 30, 2007
lolcat of death
Man Sues Over McDonald's Receipt In English
Lawyer Wants 13 Cents
POSTED: 1:53 pm EDT July 27, 2007
BEIJING -- A lawyer reportedly has sued McDonald's in China after he was given receipts that were printed mostly in English.
The state-run newspaper Beijing Youth Daily said the lawyer claims the use of English instead of Chinese "violates the consumers' right to know."
Youth Daily said the lawyer wants an apology and compensation of about 13 cents. It did not give details on any court case.
Hollow face illusion
This clip shows a very interesting visual illusion (though the audio part gets monotonous pretty quickly).
If you're a Firefox user, here's something you might want to know about.
Major vulnerability in FireFox on Windows (more?)
If you use Firefox, especially on windows, read this!
If you fail to take protective measures you could stumble across a webpage which toasts your system.
It appears this was fixed in the Firefox 126.96.36.199 update.
July 27, 2007
Here's a collection of interesting aerial photographs - 15 total.
It's not easy to be politically correct
Paraphrased from the July 1, 1992 issue of "The Chronicle of Higher Education"
Women's Studies Group, Hoping to Heal Wounds, Finds More Conflict
This year's annual meeting of the National Women's Studies Association was supposed to heal fractures that crippled the organization...
Within half an hour of the opening of the conference... the keynote speaker had offended lesbian women by making what were described as heterosexist remarks. Other women complained that a white woman should not have been selected to start [the] conference.
Then meeting organizers apologized to Jewish conferees who had been inconvenienced by the Friday-night session.
Later that evening, some "eco-feminists"... complained that every meal served at the conference included meat.
Finally, one conferee complained that participants should be asked to forgo hair spray and perfume, which allergy sufferers might find irritating.
Said Ms. Wilma Boddie-Beaman of NWSA's steering committee "If I had my wish, we would stop comparing ourselves to other organizations. We're different."
- Bob Matthews
Note: I think this is straight news. At least, the NWSA is real.
Funny car insurance ad
Every problem has a solution, according to this ad for Answer car insurance.
Oscar the Cat
At Rhode Island nursing home, death comes purring
A two-year-old cat has become a telltale sign of death at a Rhode Island nursing home, curling up beside dying patients in their final few hours, says a touching essay in the New England Journal of Medicine.
Dr. David Dosa, a geriatrician at the Steere House Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Providence, detailed the phenomenon Thursday in a brief essay titled "A Day in the Life of Oscar the Cat."
July 25, 2007
A long train
Hack your phone
First, don't take this as advice: I have no idea how changing your phone might jibe with your service provider's Terms of Service. Second, the article talks about hacking your own phone but then refers to a service that hacks phones for people. In any case, I think that service's website is here.
Save Money: Hack Your Own Cell Phone
Get Free Features, Save Hundreds Of Dollars
POSTED: 8:57 am EDT July 25, 2007
BOSTON -- There are easy and legal ways to get your cell phone to do just about anything that providers often charge for.
Evan Silbert, president of Warlox Wireless, a business located inside Boston's Prudential Center, said, "What we can do is put software in the phone that brings it back to all of its original functions so that the phone will operate exactly the same as one you bought directly from the manufacturer or from a company abroad where they wouldn't restrict it as much."
Latest electric fork?
This "trailer" at YouTube is fairly amusing, though, just because it's so over the top.
July 24, 2007
This image comes from one of the exhibits at the London Design Festival Click on the image to the slideshow for the exhibit called Bridge or visit the main site to find the entire gallery.
This truncated description appears to be all that's available.
Bridge, by Michael Cross, is a series of steps that rise out of the water as you walk across them, as if walking on water. On entering the exhibition the visitor is met by an empty expanse of water with one step at its edge: stepping on to it forces it......
The inhabitants of a remote village were very dissatisfied with the quality of the local drinking water. After years of fruitless complaints to the local authorities, the villagers chipped in, got enough money together to pay for a test, and sent a sample of the water to a laboratory for testing.
A few weeks later they got the result of the test. It said: "Your horse has diabetes."
July 23, 2007
Web crash 2007
The Onion's ONN is really outdoing itself these days. Check this clip out.
Everyone's a winner!
Car Dealership Promo Backfires When All Win
People Angry Over Mistake
POSTED: 11:30 am EDT July 20, 2007
ROSWELL, N.M. -- An advertising promotion for a Roswell car dealership has backfired.
A direct mailing of 50,000 scratch-off games touted a grand prize of $1,000. The small type said the odds of winning were 1 in 50,000.
But it turns out all 50,000 scratch-off ads were $1,000 winners.
A collection of 15 unfortunately placed ads.
July 22, 2007
High on helium
Floating at 11,000 feet
By Sheila G. Miller / The Bulletin
Published: July 08. 2007 5:00AM PST
LA GRANDE — The man sitting at the Flying J Truck Stop in La Grande, enjoying a cheeseburger and fries on Saturday afternoon, looked unassuming enough.
But Kent Couch, 47, didn’t reach La Grande by car, by truck or even on foot.
He got to the Eastern Oregon city by lawn chair. A flying lawn chair.
He didn’t look like a guy who had just floated over rugged terrain, above craggy rocks and winding rivers in a lawn chair suspended at 11,000 feet by more than 100 rainbow-colored oversized balloons.
July 20, 2007
Here's a very interesting collection of photos of (mostly) insects by Cyrus Khamak.
This snippet comes from H.L. Mencken's essay Drill for a Rookie, which is about his early years as a court reporter in Baltimore, Maryland. The prelude to this bit is that Mencken had testified before a police board against two detectives accused of being found in a "bawdy dance hall." But, since he didn't want to see them convicted, he managed to "...sophisticate my testimony with so many ifs and buts that it went for nothing and they were acquitted..."
I made up my mind at once that my true and natural allegiance was to the Devil's party, and it has been my firm belief ever since that all persons who devote themselves to forcing virtue on their fellow men deserve nothing better than kicks in the pants. Years later I put that belief into a proposition which I ventured to call Mencken's Law, to wit:Whenever A annoys or injures B on the pretense of saving or improving X, A is a scoundrel.
The moral theologians, unhappily, have paid no heed to this contribution to their science, and so Mencken's Law must wait for recognition until the dawn of a more enlightened age.
Here's an amusing clip about how to make the Electro-funk-daddy Superstar break.
If Google can't tell you
...you probably don't need to know.
Googling "how to crack a safe" nets robbers $12,000
By Jacqui Cheng | Published: July 10, 2007 - 11:17PM CT
Google has become so ubiquitous in many people's daily lives that it serves as the all-encompassing information source on how to do nearly anything: jump a car, tie a tie, fold a pocket square, remove ketchup stains. Oh, and crack open a safe to steal $12,000. That's what a couple of burglars did last month in Colorado, when they broke into an indoor amusement center called Bigg City armed with the knowledge they thought they needed in order to get into a couple of safes. The burglars knew the passcodes to the safes in question but were still unable to open them after several tries, so they eventually resorted to their good friend Google to tell them how.
The Google search proved fruitful for the two burglars, as they were able to get the information they needed and walk away with $12,000 in cash as well as a PlayStation and a laptop. And despite their inept attempts to outwit the security cameras, they have not yet been arrested.
July 19, 2007
Fake or foto?
Here's an interesting way to while away a few minutes. Take this quiz to see if you can tell the real photos from the computer-generated images. I managed to get 8 of 10, but it was tough going.
Headache Cured: Tooth Was Lodged In Forehead
Tooth Had Been In Head For More Than Three Months
POSTED: 3:18 pm EDT July 17, 2007
BRISBANE, Australia -- Rugby player Ben Czislowski kept competing for more than three months despite the headaches that started after a clash with an opponent.
Czislowski was playing for Brisbane team Wynnum during the April 1 incident involving Tweed Heads forward Matt Austin. He had a head wound stitched up afterward, the Australian Associated Press reported Tuesday.
Czislowski later suffered an eye infection and complained of lethargy and shooting pains in his head.
Then last week, his doctor found a tooth imbedded in Czislowski's head.
The new Tacoma Narrows bridge was just opened after a 4 and 1/2 year construction project.
Dr. Bob at The Doctor Is In has been blogging about this project nearly since its start. He's written 17 posts about it and they include some great photos - such as the one below showing one of the final sections of the deck being hoisted into place.
Jay left a comment pointing to this page at Current Communications' site. It has some nice time-lapse movies of different phases of the bridge construction project.
July 18, 2007
Cats in sinks
Carol sends a link to the terminally cute CatsInSinks.com.
The Internet Reposted
A twelve minute mashup of some Internet video classics. It includes several clips that have appeared here.
I tried this and it's not the usual twinky Internet quiz - someone put some thought into these questions.
If you were to travel 2000 years into the past, how useful would you be in jumpstarting technological advancements? This 10 question quiz will help you figure out your technological usefulness. If you do poorly on the quiz, as most people likely will, then just let that inspire you to study up more on how things work and where raw materials come from.
July 17, 2007
Crazy car crashes
A collection of 45 photos of vehicular mishaps (some probably Photoshopped).
Slide offers quite a few features - themes, skins, music, etc. - though many are obviously targeted at the MySpace community. Despite that, I was pretty happy with the result above.
A living will
While watching a football game awhile back, my wife and I were discussing life and death.
I told her," Just in case it ever comes up, I never want to live in a vegetative state, dependent on some machine and fluids from a bottle. If that ever happens, just pull the plug."
She promptly got up, unplugged the TV and threw out all my beer.
Some days I hate being married to a smart ass.
July 16, 2007
Jay Leno and Josh Duhamel sniff some gas in this Tonight Show episode.
Borlaug to be honored
WFP Founder Norman Borlaug to receive America's highest civilian honor
Congressional Gold Medal will be given to “Father of Green Revolution” on July 17 UPDATED: June 28, 2007
(DES MOINES, IA, USA) - President George W. Bush and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi will award World Food Prize Founder and 1970 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Dr. Norman Borlaug with the Congressional Gold Medal, America's highest civilian honor.
The ceremony will take place at the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C. on July 17, 2007. An original gold medal has been created by the United States mint commemorating Dr. Borlaug's achievements.
Small World again
I had a post about Nikon's annual Small World photomicrography competition a couple of years back. This year they're taking votes on their collection of images. (It won't influence the official judging, which was completed in May.)
Sounds a little squirrely to me
Tim sends a link to this news:
Iranians arrest 14 squirrels for spying
Islamic Republic's intelligence agents allege rodents were carrying advanced Western spy gear
Published: 07.13.07, 23:43 / Israel News
Iranian intelligence operatives recently detained over a dozen squirrels found within the nation's borders, claiming the rodents were serving as spies for Western powers determined to undermine the Islamic Republic.
Iranian police commander Esmaeil Ahmadi-Moqadam confirmed the report, saying that a number of squirrels had been caught bearing foreign spy gear within Iran's borders.
July 13, 2007
How to dispose of your old piano:
I'm not sure if I'm ready to have children. I asked a friend of mine who has children, "Suppose I do have kids. What if when they grow up, they blame me for everything that's wrong with their lives?"
She laughed and said, "What do you mean, if?"
I ran across this in Ted Chiang's Nebula-winning tale Story of Your Life.
A collection of 15 funny church signs.
Weekend Reading 21
This week's topic: Microsoft's Vista.
The days of On the Internet, nobody knows you're a dog appear to be fading fast...
Forget about the WGA! 20+ Windows Vista Features and Services Harvest User Data for Microsoft
By: Marius Oiaga, Technology News Editor
Are you using Windows Vista? Then you might as well know that the licensed operating system installed on your machine is harvesting a healthy volume of information for Microsoft. In this context, a program such as the Windows Genuine Advantage is the last of your concerns. In fact, in excess of 20 Windows Vista features and services are hard at work collecting and transmitting your personal data to the Redmond company.
And CodeWritinFool sends a link to A Cost Analysis of Windows Vista Content Protection by Peter Gutmann in New Zealand.
The point Mr. Gutman makes below ought to scare everyone who uses a computer, no matter what system it runs.
As a user, there is simply no escape. Whether you use Windows Vista, Windows XP, Windows 95, Linux, FreeBSD, OS X, Solaris (on x86), or almost any other OS, Windows content protection will make your hardware more expensive, less reliable, more difficult to program for, more difficult to support, more vulnerable to hostile code, and with more compatibility problems. Because Windows dominates the market and device vendors are unlikely to design and manufacture two different versions of their products, non-Windows users will be paying for Windows Vista content-protection measures in products even if they never run Windows on them.
Here's an offer to Microsoft: If we, the consumers, promise to never, ever, ever buy a single HD-DVD or Blu-Ray disc containing any precious premium content [Note M], will you in exchange withhold this poison from the computer industry? Please?
July 12, 2007
Credit card investing
A funny clip from The Daily Show:
This ought to be a C&W song
Ex-Classmate: Porn Star Stole My Name
Pair Went To School Together
POSTED: 2:41 pm EDT July 9, 2007
HOUSTON -- A Houston-area woman filed a lawsuit against a porn star, claiming she stole her name.
Lara Madden, 25, is an actress in the pornography industry, Houston TV station KPRC reported. She is a former Houstonian who has appeared in about a dozen X-rated movies under the stage name "Syvette Wimberly." That's the problem.
The real Syvette Wimberly was one of Madden's classmates at Kingwood High School. The women knew each other in the ninth grade.
Wimberly said she does not believe it's a coincidence that her old classmate is now using her name.
First Corinthians tattoo
This preview of a lower back tattoo comes from the Accordian Guy. Click to see a larger image.
July 10, 2007
Well, actually, burning salt water. Here are two news clips about a guy in Florida who generates hydrogen gas from salt water by exciting it with a radio frequency source. It makes a showy demo.
I'd like to see the energy balance numbers; my guess is it's just an expensive way to generate hydrogen.
Brian writes, "I wish they had this option when I was in college, trying to sneak hooch into concerts. 'Hey buddy, is that a pint of Absolut in your pants, or are you just excited to see Rush?'"
Got what it takes?
Immigrants to the U.S. must pass a civics test to become naturalized citizens. Here's a chance to see how you'd do at it.
Do you have what it takes to become a citizen?
When immigrants want to become Americans, they must take a civics test as part of their naturalization interview before a Citizenship and Immigration Services (INS) officer. The questions are usually selected from a list of 100 sample questions that prospective citizens can look at ahead of the interview (though the examiner is not limited to those questions). Some are easy, some are not. We have picked some of the more difficult ones.
Candidates are not given multiple choices in the naturalization interview, which is conducted orally.
July 09, 2007
Let's Take Pictures! is one of the slickest Flash sites I've seen. I know that the W3C purists discourage using Flash (with reason), but when it's done well it's very impressive. And this site's done extremely well.
It's a way to post & display photos. And it contains a very international & striking collection, like this beauty which was taken in Maine.
Orbo demo goes down in flames
Last month, I posted again about Steorn's plans to demonstrate their Orbo device in London this month. That demonstration was scheduled for last Thursday but didn't happen.
The folks at Engadget have been all over this one. The quote below comes from one of their posts on the topic (which includes video of Sean McCarthy eating humble pie).
Steorn's CEO states the obvious: "we screwed up"
Posted Jul 7th 2007 6:01AM by Thomas Ricker
Perhaps the only thing more impressive than claimed possession of an "infinite free energy" machine is the refusal to give-in under the weight of the world's skepticism-turned ire. "We screwed up," admitted Steorn's CEO Sean McCarthy yesterday after their failed demonstration, but "if we were here to rig a demo, we'd all be here watching a wheel spin."
I don't know how many of these ads are legitimate and how many are from Photoshop, but they're pretty funny regardless of their sources.
July 08, 2007
It was hot here in the Mississippi valley yesterday, but not too humid. So it was fairly clear in the early evening when the pink balloon flew over the patio.
Video below the fold.
July 06, 2007
Let's come together
This video clip - produced by the European Union - is not-quite-safe-for-work, I'm thinking. It's written up in the UK's TImesOnline:
Gasps all round over the EU’s dirty movie
THE latest promotional video from Brussels shows European citizens engaged in enthusiastic congress, but it is not the sort of union the founding fathers had in mind.
The film, available on the European commission’s space on YouTube, the video website, shows 18 couples having sex.
In an attempt at humour that might go down better in Belgium than in Britain, the film climaxes with quivering bedheads and loud orgasms. It closes with the line: “Let’s come together.”
Here's my favorite quote from the article:
Godfrey Bloom, a UK Independence party MEP, said: “I suppose this film is appropriate. The EU has been screwing Britain for the past 30 years.”
The Entire Corpus
On his way to Stockholm for the Nobel prize-giving ceremony, [T.S.] Eliot was interviewed by a reporter who asked him for which of his works the prize had been awarded. Eliot replied that he believed it was for the entire corpus. "And when did you publish that?" asked the reporter.
Eliot observed afterward that The Entire Corpus might make rather a good title for a mystery story.
From the Little, Brown Book of Anecdotes.
Weekend Reading 20
Warren Meyer, who writes the Coyote blog, released his paper called A Skeptical Layman's Guide to Anthropogenic Global Warming this week. Since I read Coyote blog regularly, I've read many of his blog posts about AGW. And I've been looking forward to this paper, which he announced several weeks ago.
I haven't read this paper yet (it's on deck for this weekend). But if it's anything like his blog posts on the topic it's sure to be thought-provoking at a minimum.
July 05, 2007
Botany Photo of the Day
The University of British Columbia in Vancouver has a Botanical Garden and Centre for Plant Research. And the Garden/Centre has a web site featuring the Botany Photo of the Day.
Here's a recent sample.
New EULA terms
The author grants a non-exclusive license to use the program, free of charge, if the user:
- Does not use the program for illegal purposes;
- does not practice activities that destroy or degrade the environment;
- does not practice polluting activities;
- does not throw trash on the ground or through the car’s windows;
- when going to the beach and creeks takes his trash back until finding a trash collector;
- does not practice any activities that hurt animals, like hunting, out-of-season fishing, pigeon shooting, dog fighting, etc.;
- does not buy wild animals that, by law, may not be taken out of their natural environment;
- has an ecological conscience and protects nature.
People that for any reason do not fit the conditions above, are expressly forbidden to use the program.
Flying under Stockholm
The challange was to do the impossible, fly a huge aerobatic RC-plane under Stockholm through a 3.9km long tunnel called Södra länken.
The plane is 80" wide and weighs 13lb. The mighty electric motor provides 22lb of thrust and a topspeed closer to 120mph.
July 04, 2007
As the Right Honorable Baroness Thatcher once said, "European nations... are a product of their history. While America is a product of philosophy."
Happy anniversary, fellow citizens, and let's toast that philosophy.
July 02, 2007
Talkin' 'bout my generation
Where to get a Squishee
Simpsons Promo: 7-Eleven Is Now Kwik-E-Mart
No Duff Beer Will Be Sold
POSTED: 7:00 am EDT July 2, 2007
DALLAS -- Just like the Simpsons, real people now have a chance to buy Buzz Cola and Squishees at the local Kwik-E-Mart.
This weekend, 7-Eleven turned a dozen of its stores into Kwik-E-Marts, the fictional convenience stores of "The Simpsons" fame.
For a month, those stores and most other 7-Elevens in North America will sell items that previously existed only in the cartoon.
It's part of a campaign to hype the opening of "The Simpsons Movie" on July 27.
I recently learned that the ever-popular Julian Beever, Mr. Pavement Picasso himself, has a site of his own. There you will find many of his sidewalk chalk drawings, along with a few other things he's done.