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August 31, 2007

I live on a big round ball

This is one of many images from the Southern Alberta Balloon Launch Experiment #3, or SABLE-3. These guys ran a balloon up to 117,500 feet (22 miles), taking pictures every minute on the way up.


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Laser MiniMag

Here's a pretty cool hack. This guy has several others at his Metacafe channel.


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Leaf art

This is an image of a leaf painting by Kazuo Akasaki. It's composed of naturally-colored, undyed leaves. There are several other examples and a video clip (in Japanese) at Japan Probe.


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August 30, 2007

It's not a bug

Dave at MacRaven sends a link to this picture of one of the funniest vanity plates I've seen.


Jay Garmon writes at TechRepublic, "It’s at times like these that I really lament the demise of the classic Volkswagen Beetle. Plus, mad props to the software development humorist who got that vanity plate."

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What a wonderful world

Terry Fator just won a million bucks on NBC's America's Got Talent show. Check out this clip and you'll see why; he's got a good act.


Posted by joke du jour at 08:30 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

How to beat a speeding ticket

Just wait long enough.

Woman Fights 27-Year-Old Speeding Ticket

POSTED: 10:25 am EDT August 23, 2007
UPDATED: 2:34 pm EDT August 23, 2007

QUECHEE, Vt. -- Janelle Dunklee had been driving without a driver's license for 27 years without even realizing it, reported WPTZ-TV in Plattsburgh.

Dunklee said she recently got a letter from the Vermont Department of Motor Vehicles stating that she needed to pay a fine to have her license reinstated.

Dunklee, not knowing why her license had been suspended in the first place, said she called the DMV.

She said the DMV told her they had been clearing out their records and found Dunklee owed money on a speeding ticket issued in 1980.


On Tuesday, Dunklee went to court and said the prosecution and the judge were surprised by the delay. They were so surprised, in fact, that they dismissed the ticket.

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August 29, 2007

Body mod

Top 10 physically modified people


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Not magic, just math

An impressive coin trick.


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I've been waiting 20 years...

for large-capacity, solid state disks (SSD). Now they're here.


Moore's Law marches on.

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August 24, 2007

Monster RC aerobat

This radio-controlled craft is roughly 90% as large as the real thing: a Pitts aerobatic plane. It's the largest model plane I've ever seen.


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Thanks for the tip

In a one-priest Irish Catholic parish everybody knew everybody else. One Saturday a waggish young lad by the name of Timmy went to confession. After hearing Timmy's sins the priest said, "Timmy, I have it on good advice that you're fooling around with one of the married women in the parish."

Timmy protested his innocence but the priest would have none of it. "Timmy," he said, "tell me, is it Mrs. Monahan?"

"No, Father, I hardly know the woman!"

"All right then Timmy. Is it Mrs. O'Connell?"

"Mrs. O'Connell! Father she's the wife of one of my very best friends! I'd never lay hands on her!"

"Timmy, this is your last chance, I'm losing my patience. Is it Mrs. O'Hara?"

"No, Father, I wouldn't dream of...".

"Timmy! I don't want to hear it. You've come to this confessional and lied to me! I want you to consider the seriousness of this matter for a month and come back and confess to me who it is."

On his way out, Timmy met a good friend of his on his way to confession. The friend asked Timmy, "Is the Father in a good mood today?"

"He's in a grand mood! He gave me a month off and three good leads."

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A blog for anything

Alexander Zakharov has a blog named A Soviet Poster A Day. It features some nice artwork along with explanations of the posters; the legend on this one means, "To fly higher than all, farther than all, faster than all!"


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Monster mess

FAQ: The Monster.com mess
Job search site looting goes back weeks, maybe months
Gregg Keizer

August 24, 2007 (Computerworld) -- The last thing you need when you're unemployed is a bank account that's suddenly emptied. But that's exactly what some unwary users of employment search site Monster.com faced after identity thieves made off with the personal information of more than a million people looking for jobs.

This still-developing story has enough nooks and crannies to confuse a gumshoe, but some facts are clear: Monster's resume database was looted, and the personal information taken was used to forge convincing messages that deposited password-stealing Trojans and ransomware on users' PCs.

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August 23, 2007

Tellin' it straight

10 bizarre personal ads at Oddee.


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They're watching...

I'm hoping someone will tell me this is an urban legend.

Smile… Or Else
‘Behavior Detection Officers’ are now watching passengers’ facial expressions for signs of danger. It’s a new level of absurdity for America.

By Patti Davis
Special to Newsweek
Updated: 11:40 a.m. CT Aug 16, 2007

Aug. 16, 2007 - It was bound to happen. Now even a frown or grimace can get you into trouble with The Man.

“Specially trained security personnel”
will be watching passengers for “micro-expressions” that will reveal treacherous agendas and insidious intentions at airports around the country. These agents, who may literally hold your fate in their hands have been given a lofty, Orwellian name: "Behavior Detection Officers."

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Another solar-powered aircraft

This is a compilation of clips taken of test flights of NASA's Helios aircraft. It appears to have a fairly substantial wingspan but doesn't seem to carry much payload.


Update: According to this article, Helios was designed to fly at high altitudes and set a record for winged craft of 96,000+ feet in August, 2001. It was lost when it crashed into the Pacific in June, 2003. And that "substantial" wingspan I mentioned was 247 feet.

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Whatever happened to bacon & eggs?

Church Raises Eyebrows With 'Porn And Pancakes' Billboard

POSTED: 8:43 am EDT August 22, 2007
UPDATED: 11:44 am EDT August 22, 2007

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- One South Florida church has some people raising their eyebrows over an eye-catching ad for an outreach program.

A church in Fort Myers posted a billboard that read 'porn and pancakes.' The church said the ad is for a men's breakfast aimed at reaching out to those addicted to porn.

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August 21, 2007

Remember your cup

An ad for Rolling Rock ale which is pretty amusing.


Thanks to Carol

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No Exit

China Regulates Buddhist Reincarnation

By Matthew Philips

Aug. 20-27, 2007 issue - In one of history's more absurd acts of totalitarianism, China has banned Buddhist monks in Tibet from reincarnating without government permission. According to a statement issued by the State Administration for Religious Affairs, the law, which goes into effect next month and strictly stipulates the procedures by which one is to reincarnate, is "an important move to institutionalize management of reincarnation."

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Roll-your-own wireless extender

This clip from DL.TV talks about the Windsurfer, a parabolic reflector for aerials on wireless routers. You can make these at home from aluminum foil and a piece of card stock, using a template from FreeAntennas.com. (We tried it and they're a piece o' cake to make.)


I think the video clip's a little long-winded, but it does explain how it works. If you're already up on the theory, then cut to the chase and visit FreeAntennas.com.


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August 20, 2007

Old ads

Weirdomatic has a collection of 30-plus odd old advertisements.


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Without missiles, I'll guess

Man Brings Missile Launcher To "Kicks For Guns" Sneaker Exchange

POSTED: 7:57 am EDT August 20, 2007
UPDATED: 8:09 am EDT August 20, 2007

ORLANDO, Fla. -- Police in Orlando were hoping for a good turnout at their "Kicks for Guns" sneaker exchange, but they weren't expecting a surface-to-air missile launcher.

One man showed up and exchanged the four-foot-long launcher for size-three Reebok sneakers for his daughter.

He said that when he tried to take it to the dump the attendants told him to leave.

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Cute ad

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A new diet

After feeling ill for a number of months, a man finally decided to visit his doctor. The doctor performed a thorough physical. After reviewing all the test results he asked the patient to get dressed and come in to his private office.

"I'm sorry to tell you this, but you've got HAGS," the doctor said.

"Gee, Doc, I've never heard of that. What is it?"

"It's a combination of hepatitis, AIDS, gonorrhea and syphilis."

"What can you give me for it?"

"Well, for starters, we'll put you on a diet of pizza and pancakes."

"Will that cure me ?" asked the patient.

"Probably not. But they're the only things we can slide under a door."

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August 18, 2007

Powers of 10 from 1977

This is a 30-year-old video about Powers of 10, made by Charles and Ray Eames for IBM.


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Weekend Reading 24

This is an interesting article, primarily about climate change, by Freeman Dyson (of Dyson Sphere fame).


1. The Need for Heretics

In the modern world, science and society often interact in a perverse way. We live in a technological society, and technology causes political problems. [...] The public does not have much use for a scientist who says, “Sorry, but we don’t know”. The public prefers to listen to scientists who give confident answers to questions and make confident predictions of what will happen as a result of human activities. So it happens that the experts who talk publicly about politically contentious questions tend to speak more clearly than they think. They make confident predictions about the future, and end up believing their own predictions. Their predictions become dogmas which they do not question. The public is led to believe that the fashionable scientific dogmas are true, and it may sometimes happen that they are wrong. That is why heretics who question the dogmas are needed.

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August 17, 2007

Balloon festival

This is from a 360° panorama taken at a balloon festival in Bristol, England.


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Feel the squeeze!

Check out the video -- it's better than I expected.


Order now for the Holidays and to insure you'll have Hillary-cracked nuts for those primary parties. Demand is strong and growing!

Click here to see a Hillary Nutcracker video on YouTube!


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Creation science song

Just in case you're one of those with a "blind faith in science and empirical inquiry and observable reality and other myths," here's Roy Zimmerman singing about Creation science. He'll set you straight.


H.T. Brian at Stanford.

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It has thousands of uses

Allen sends a link to this article in Ashland, Kentucky's The Daily Independent:

Accused ‘Duct Tape Bandit’ arraigned

DuctTape.jpgPolice say Ashland man robbed liquor store
By KENNETH HART - The Independent

CATLETTSBURG — The man whom police say robbed a local liquor store with his head wrapped in duct tape will find out next week whether the case against him will advance to the next step in the legal process.

Kasey G. Kazee, 24, is scheduled to appear before Boyd District Judge George Davis III for a preliminary hearing at 1 p.m. Wednesday.

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August 16, 2007


A slideshow about crabbing in the Bering Sea.


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Leningrad Cowboys

Here are the Leningrad Cowboys with the Red Army Choir doing Skynyrd's Sweet Home Alabama.


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A dramatic entrance

King George VI and Queen Elizabeth went to see a Noel Coward-Gertrude Lawrence production at a London theater. As they entered the royal box, the whole audience rose to its feet to honor them. Gertrude Lawrence, standing in the wings, said, "What an entrance!"

"What a part!" said Coward.

From The Little, Brown Book of Anecdotes

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August 15, 2007

Cute cat cinema

Carol sends a funny clip about a cat and a printer.


And A.E. sends links to Nora, the Piano Cat&trade


and to the Killer Tortoise


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Carved crayons

Pete Goldlust's crayon carvings remind me of pencil carvings.


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One for the road

Driver Holding Beer Arrested Driving Car With Only Three Tires

POSTED: 7:36 am EDT August 15, 2007
UPDATED: 10:20 am EDT August 15, 2007


Several 911 calls alerted deputies to someone driving on the wrong side of the road, almost hitting people. [...]

"A 12-pack of Corona he was working on was left int he front seat, but he took one with him when he ran and we captured him with a beer in his hand," said Jeff Stonebreaker of the Orange County Sheriff's Office.

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August 13, 2007

More stage magic

This is a really impressive stage magic act.


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What a headline

And half the audience thinks, "That's not funny..."

Judge Marries Couple, Sentences Groom

POSTED: 7:47 am EDT August 8, 2007
UPDATED: 9:57 am EDT August 8, 2007

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- A groom wore a suit to his wedding in court in Jacksonville, but he'll be wearing a prison uniform for the next 18 months.

After pronouncing Ernest Stroming and Nitisha Jackson husband and wife Tuesday, a judge pronounced his sentence. That's 18 months for drug possession and fleeing police. Stroming told the judge he wanted to marry Jackson before going to jail as part of his commitment to straightening out his life.

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A very nice design

This is a slick way to build a combination MP3 and CD player:



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Remember Ginger?

Segway Fan Club Disbands Due to Lack of Interest

Friday, August 10, 2007

SAN FRANCISCO — The device that was supposed to revolutionize urban transportation seems unable to even hold on to a proper fan club.

The Segway Enthusiasts Group of America is disbanding because of inactivity and an absence of candidates for its board of directors, said the group's treasurer, Fred Kaplan.

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August 12, 2007


This funny ad ought to start the week off right.


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August 10, 2007

That's gotta hurt...

To Punish Thai Police, a Hello Kitty Armband
Published: August 7, 2007

BANGKOK, Aug. 7 — It is the pink armband of shame for wayward police officers, as cute as can be with a Hello Kitty face and a pair of linked hearts.

No matter how many ribbons for valor a Thai officer may wear, if he parks in the wrong place, or shows up late for work, or is seen dropping a bit of litter on the sidewalk, he can be ordered to wear the insignia.


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What a great goof

Here's a clip from Carol about a hilarious practical joke.


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Weekend Reading 23

I'm still reading about AGW. Here's some late-breaking news via Coyote blog:

Breaking News: Recent US Temperature Numbers Revised Downwards Today

This is really big news, and a fabulous example of why two-way scientific discourse is still valuable, in the same week that both Newsweek and Al Gore tried to make the case that climate skeptics were counter-productive and evil.

Climate scientist Michael Mann (famous for the hockey stick chart) once made the statement that the 1990's were the warmest decade in a millennia and that "there is a 95 to 99% certainty that 1998 was the hottest year in the last one thousand years." (By the way, Mann now denies he ever made this claim, though you can watch him say these exact words in the CBC documentary Global Warming: Doomsday Called Off).

Well, it turns out, according to the NASA GISS database, that 1998 was not even the hottest year of the last century. This is because many temperatures from recent decades that appeared to show substantial warming have been revised downwards. Here is how that happened (if you want to skip the story, make sure to look at the numbers at the bottom).

And here's a very interesting article about the consensus on global warming by a Canadian who set out to prove it: They call this a consensus?

Somewhere along the way, I stopped believing that a scientific consensus exists on climate change. Certainly there is no consensus at the very top echelons of scientists -- the ranks from which I have been drawing my subjects -- and certainly there is no consensus among astrophysicists and other solar scientists, several of whom I have profiled. If anything, the majority view among these subsets of the scientific community may run in the opposite direction. Not only do most of my interviewees either discount or disparage the conventional wisdom as represented by the IPCC, many say their peers generally consider it to have little or no credibility. In one case, a top scientist told me that, to his knowledge, no respected scientist in his field accepts the IPCC position.

This article links to a series of 22 other articles by the same author, Lawrence Solomon.

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Deja vu, all over again

August, 2006 reprise.

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August 09, 2007

A super solution

Here's some follow-up to the post about New Zealanders who wanted to name their son 4Real.

Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it's a baby, 4Real!

Wed Aug 8, 1:13 AM ET

WELLINGTON (Reuters) - A New Zealand couple is looking to call their newborn son Superman -- but only because their chosen name of 4Real has been rejected by the government registry.

Pat and Sheena Wheaton say they will get around the decision by the Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages by officially naming their son Superman but referring to him as 4Real, the New Zealand Herald newspaper has reported.


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Spider cat

This cat is pretty good at climbing walls.


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Another maxim bites the dust

Someone once said a million monkeys using a million keyboards could reproduce the complete works of William Shakespeare.

Thanks to MySpace, we now know that to be entirely false.

- Brandon W.

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August 08, 2007


This is a striking image indeed at Dan Harlow's gallery. It's an F-15 caught in flight during a space shuttle launch. The aircraft is there for a couple of reasons.


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See Figure 1

Here's an amusing oldie for those who've worked with Digital Equipment's VMS. It allegedly circulated at DEC's offices back in the 80s.

VMS Version 3.0

Please stop submitting SPRs. This is our system. We designed it, we built it, and we use it more than you do. If there are some features you think might be missing, if the system isn't as effective as you think it could be, TOUGH! Give it back, we don't need you. See Figure 1.

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This looks like fun

It's an ad for a Dutch insurance company named Delta Lloyd.


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Let us pay taxes?

Here's a somewhat hard to believe article about LetUsPayTaxes.com at reason.com.

Pot Dealers to Gov. Schwarzentoker: Don't Bogart Our Taxes!

Posted on August 8, 2007, 2:44pm | Nick Gillespie

When you think of a world in which pot dealers are begging the government to pay taxes, there's a good chance we're in The Singularity (or maybe The Rapture). Either way, here's hoping that California's top dog, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger--the only governor I can think of who smoked dope onscreen--takes them up on the offer.

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August 07, 2007

Under the ice

Time magazine has a nice slideshow called Life Beneath Antarctic Ice, featuring photos taken by Norbert Wu.


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Ornery grandmothers

Three mischievous old grannies were sitting on a bench outside a nursing home. An old man walked by and one of the grannies yelled out to him, "We can tell exactly how old you are!"

The old man said, "There ain't no way you can guess that, you old fools."

One of the ornery grandmas said, "Sure we can! Just drop your pants and we can tell your exact age." A little embarrassed, the old man dropped his drawers.

The grannies stared at him for a while, asked him to turn around a couple of times, then asked him to jump up and down for a little while. Then they all piped up and said, "You're 84 years old!"

"How in the world did you guess?"

The ornery old grannies snickered and laughed. Slapping their knees and grinning, all three yelled in unison, "Because you told us yesterday."

H.T.: Carol.

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Solar airship

Check out this YouTube clip of a solar-powered blimp built by Daniel Geery. He has a site about the Hyperblimp, as he calls it, at Hyperblimp.com.


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August 06, 2007


An old geek joke but still timely...

It occurred to me a while ago that Unix is much like the U.S. Government:

A long time ago, a few brilliant men created a system that empowered its users, gave them freedom, and provided a few essential services.

Now the system's old, slow, easily corrupted, overly restrictive, too large and confusing for anyone to understand, plagued with inconsistencies, and run by men who only care about money.

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This is being reported as straight news. They may be as cheap as 45,000 pounds sterling (around $90,000 US).

Flying Saucers Go Into Production

Updated: 11:40, Friday August 03, 2007

A "flying saucer" that glides three metres above the ground and carries two people has gone into commerical production.

US company Moller International has begun to manufacture parts for its Jetsons-like personal flying pod, the M200G Volantor.

The M200G is the size of a small car and is designed to take off and land vertically.

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Amazing dancing

In this clip, people are making the image by using their cloaks. And there's about 7:50 more of people-animated images.


This was done at a co-ordinated dance at a Samsung celebration in South Korea. (10M phones, maybe?)

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August 03, 2007

Say it loud, say it proud

Driver's T-Shirt Tells Police She's A Drunk

POSTED: 7:13 am EDT August 3, 2007
UPDATED: 9:37 am EDT August 3, 2007

TAMPA, Fla. -- Amanda Lynn Bailey's T-shirt said it all.

When the 41-year-old got picked up on DUI charges she was wearing a shirt that read: "I'm not an alcoholic, I'm a drunk. Alcoholics go to meetings." The T-shirt was captured in her mug shot.

Bailey, of Riverview, was arrested Tuesday and charged with driving under the influence and driving with a canceled, suspended or revoked license. She posted $750 bond and was released.

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A time before... color

This clip, by Three Dead Trolls in a Baggie, gives their opinion of PC operating systems.


If I"m not mistaken, the guy on the left is Mr. Internet Help Desk.

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Weekend Reading 22

This week's topic is subsidies for ethanol producers. Rolling Stone has an interesting article: Ethanol Scam: Ethanol Hurts the Environment And Is One of America's Biggest Political Boondoggles.

This is not just hype -- it's dangerous, delusional bullshit. Ethanol doesn't burn cleaner than gasoline, nor is it cheaper. Our current ethanol production represents only 3.5 percent of our gasoline consumption -- yet it consumes twenty percent of the entire U.S. corn crop, causing the price of corn to double in the last two years and raising the threat of hunger in the Third World. [...]

So why bother? Because the whole point of corn ethanol is not to solve America's energy crisis, but to generate one of the great political boondoggles of our time. Corn is already the most subsidized crop in America, raking in a total of $51 billion in federal handouts between 1995 and 2005 -- twice as much as wheat subsidies and four times as much as soybeans.

Even if you like the idea of burning alcohol, you have to wonder why ethanol needs public funding. If it's such a great idea, can't a producers market develop without the subsidies?

And that's not to mention some other nasty side effects of ethanol subsidies.

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Serendipitous search

Today I was looking for info on image reconstruction and I ran across a link to the Mathworks site. Mathworks sells MATLAB, a scientific & engineering analysis package with a fairly popular Image Toolbox. (So searches for imaging algorithms frequently show hits there.)

At Mathworks, I found a link to a page about Cleve Moler and a video clip called The Origins of MATLAB. Here's a picture of a PDP-1 Mr. Moler used while a student at Stanford.


While I'm not a MATLAB user, I found the clip pretty interesting because of the glimpses it gives of the development of digital computing in the last 50 years or so.

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August 02, 2007

Only in China

If you follow the link to this article in Foreign Policy, you'll see pix of these innovations.

A Virgin Mary-themed urinal? Only in China.
Tue, 07/10/2007 - 10:43am.


First came round, open air urinals on the city's infamous "Foreigners Street," featuring tiny waist screens that left little to the imaginations of passers-by. Then came news of outdoor sinks, pictured at right, that made the hand-washing experience, um, different. Now comes news that the city has opened the world's largest restroom. The four-story, 1,000-stall facility features TVs, a soothing soundtrack piped throughout, crocodile- and Virgin Mary-themed urinals, and stalls with no roofs for those who prefer to relieve themselves al fresco. Says a local government official:

"We are spreading toilet culture.... After they use the bathroom [people] will be very, very happy."

You can't argue with that.


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Saving the world

Q: What's the difference between fundamentalists and environmentalists?

A: Fundamentalists have been trying to save the world the same way for hundreds of years. Environmentalists have a new way every month.

Posted by joke du jour at 08:31 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Microsoft Surface parody

Another funny parody from SarcasticGamer (who did the Wii Fit parody). This one's about Microsoft's surface computing machine.


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