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January 29, 2010

Martian Mojave

An animation made from HIRISE images of Mojave crater on Mars.

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That's loyalty

Loyal Blow-Up Doll Saves Owner's Life

They say that a dog is man's best friend. For an elderly Shanghai resident known as Yang, however, no dog can ever take the place of his life-saving blow-up doll.

This story begins in a residential apartment complex lodged in the dead center of Shanghai, China, where Yang has been living by himself for several years.

Yang used to reside here with his wife and son, but then his wife passed away, and soon after his son moved away to study. [...]

Yang happened to stumble upon such a set of negative comments while perusing the Internet and was so hurt by it, that he chose to commit suicide.

And so we come to January 3rd, 2010, around 4pm, when Yang jumped off the sixth floor of his apartment complex in an attempt to end his life.

Eyewitnesses at the scene were horrified, especially because it appeared as if he was clutching onto a little girl. And as he landed, there was a large bang, which onlookers assumed was Yang slamming into her poor little body.

Thankfully, it wasn't a girl or even a human. It was his blow-up doll, which immediately blew open as he crashed into it. Yang was knocked unconscious, but he soon after made a full recovery at a nearby hospital.

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A 70 megawatt diesel

The Wärtsilä-Sulzer RTA96-C, the world's largest diesel engine.

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We don't discriminate against the unproductive

Some days I have to wonder if the news from Britain can get any stranger...

Employer told not to post advert for 'reliable' workers because it discriminates against 'unreliable' applicants

When it comes to hiring staff, there are plenty of legal pitfalls employers need to watch out for these days.

So recruitment agency boss Nicole Mamo was especially careful to ensure her advert for hospital workers did not offend on grounds of race, age or sexual orientation.

However, she hadn't reckoned on discriminating against a wholly different section of the community - the completely useless.

When she ran the ad past a job centre, she was told she couldn't ask for 'reliable' and 'hard-working' applicants because it could be offensive to unreliable people.

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Hitler and the iPad

This meme's getting a little worn by now but I still thought this iPad rant was funny.

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January 28, 2010

Still at work

This is from At work, part 2 at the Big Picture.

LegoLandSnow.jpg

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Newswipe

I like that name.

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What expertise?

The 6 Most Statistically Full of Sh*t Professions

People get paid a lot of money to be experts on things, so one would assume they're much more knowledgeable than the average Joe or, at the very least, a blindfolded monkey throwing darts.

Sadly, in many cases this just isn't true, and the so called "expertise" in question amounts to little more than a shot in the goddamn dark. Here are a few cases of experts that probably shouldn't inspire as much confidence as they do.

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Dance of the Chairs

Danilo writes, "Do you know Campus Party? It's like a carnival here. This was the 'dance of the chairs'. Happened today, 2:00am. The geeks don't sleep. "

He's talking about Campus Party Brazil 2010in Sao Paulo this week.

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Eyeballing game

Here's an interesting time-waster: The eyeballing game.

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January 27, 2010

Vancouver City

A nice time-lapse music video of Vancouver, B.C. According to the notes at YouTube, it was shot with a 12 megapixel SLR.

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Better if they learn it on the street?

Menifee school officials remove dictionary over term 'oral sex'

After a parent complained about an elementary school student stumbling across "oral sex" in a classroom dictionary, Menifee Union School District officials decided to pull Merriam Webster's 10th edition from all school shelves earlier this week.

School officials will review the dictionary to decide if it should be permanently banned because of the "sexually graphic" entry, said district spokeswoman Betti Cadmus. The dictionaries were initially purchased a few years ago for fourth- and fifth-grade classrooms districtwide, according to a memo to the superintendent.

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TMI

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The benefits of old age

  1. Kidnappers are not very interested in you.
  2. In a hostage situation you are likely to be released first.
  3. No one expects you to run--anywhere.
  4. People call at 9 pm and ask, 'Did I wake you?'
  5. People no longer view you as a hypochondriac.
  6. There is nothing left to learn the hard way.
  7. Things you buy now won't wear out.
  8. You can eat supper at 4 pm.
  9. You can live without sex (but not without your glasses).
  10. You get into heated arguments about pension plans.
  11. You no longer think of speed limits as a challenge.
  12. You quit trying to hold your stomach in no matter who walks into the room.
  13. You sing along with elevator music.
  14. Your eyes won't get much worse.
  15. Your investment in health insurance is finally beginning to pay off.
  16. Your joints are more accurate forecasters than the national weather service.
  17. Your secrets are safe with your friends because they can't remember them either.
  18. Your supply of brain cells is finally down to a manageable size.

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January 26, 2010

Meet Gumby

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Busted! (3)

Who is Ellie Light? Sounds like some serious astroturfing going on.

Obama has suspicious number of letter-writing fans named 'Ellie Light'
By Sabrina Eaton, The Plain Dealer


Ellie Light
sure gets around.

In recent weeks, Light has published virtually identical "Letters to the Editor" in support of President Barack Obama in more than a dozen newspapers.Every letter claimed a different residence for Light that happened to be in the newspaper's circulation area.

"It's time for Americans to realize that governing is hard work, and that a president can't just wave a magic wand and fix everything," said a letter from alleged Philadelphian Ellie Light, that was published in the Jan. 19 edition of The Philadelphia Daily News.

A letter from Light in the Jan. 20 edition of the San Francisco Examiner concluded with an identical sentence, but with an address for Light all the way across the country in Daly City, California.

Variations of Light's letter ran in Ohio's Mansfield News Journal on Jan. 13, with Light claiming an address in Mansfield; in New Mexico's Ruidoso News on Jan. 12, claiming an address in Three Rivers; in South Carolina's The Sun News on Jan. 18, claiming an address in Myrtle Beach; and in the Daily News Leader of Staunton, Virginia on Jan. 15, claiming an address in Waynesboro. Her publications list includes other papers in Ohio, West Virginia, Maine, Michigan, Iowa, Pennsylvania and California, all claiming separate addresses.

See also Who is Mark Spivey?

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Techno Jeep

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More reality TV

Movie made by chimpanzees to be broadcast on television

The world's first film shot entirely by chimpanzees is to be broadcast by the BBC as part of a natural history documentary.

The apes created the movie using a specially designed chimp-proof camera given to them by primatologists.

The film-making exercise is part of a scientific study into how chimpanzees perceive the world and each other.

It will be screened within the Natural World programme "Chimpcam" shown on BBC Two at 2000GMT on Wednesday 27 January.

Making the movie was the brainchild of primatologist Ms Betsy Herrelko, who is studying for a PhD in primate behaviour at the University of Stirling, UK.

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January 25, 2010

I think he likes guns

Steve Lee's a plain-spoken -- well, a plain-singing -- Australian who knows what he likes. Check out his site at ILikeGuns.com.au.

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Hell hath no fury... (2)

Unfortunately, http://charlesphillipsandyavaughniewilkins.com/, the URL that appears in the picture, is no longer in service.

CharlesYaVaughnie.jpg
Scorned Mistress of Married Obama Adviser Posts Billboards Nationwide

On first glance, it could be the ultimate Valentine's Day card -- a gigantic billboard that towers over New York's Times Square, featuring a happy couple with the text: "You are my soulmate forever, Charles & YaVaughnie."

But as every scorned lover knows, looks can be deceiving. This billboard -- which also has gone up in Atlanta and San Francisco -- is the ultimate act of revenge -- a very public retaliation by a dumped mistress aimed at a very wealthy, and married, businessman who is an adviser to President Obama.

YaVaughnie Wilkins posted the signs after she learned that her lover, Charles E. Phillips — president and director of the tech conglomerate Oracle Corporation and a member of Obama's Economic Recovery Advisory Board — had reconciled with his wife, the New York Post reported.

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Clowns are scary

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Viva Las Vegas

Las Vegas Mayor: 'If I'm Gov, I'll Cavort With Showgirls And I'll Keep Drinking My Gin'

Oscar Goodman, the mayor of Las Vegas and a former defense attorney for the mob, is known for saying outrageous things. In a visit to an elementary school in 2005, for example, he told a group of fourth-graders that he would take a showgirl and a bottle of Sapphire Bombay Gin if he was stranded on a desert island.

He's also weighing a run for governor -- and is doing well in the polls.

"I envision making my announcement to run for governor with showgirls on my arm. If [the people] don't like it, they can vote for someone else. And if I'm governor, I'll cavort with showgirls and I'll keep drinking my gin and betting on anything that moves," Goodman told the Philadelphia Inquirer, his hometown paper. "I won't change!"

Via

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January 23, 2010

Hubble 3D

Here's the trailer for an IMAX 3D movie about the last shuttle mission to the Hubble telescope.

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More space news

This is an interesting clip about an alternative to using combustion to generate thrust for your rocket. Using constant boost for planetary travel is hardly a new idea and I have to wonder how all the reaction mass would get carried along. But those quibbles aside this is a cool development.

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January 22, 2010

More mushroon risotto?

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Obsolete

BusinessInsider has a slideshow of 21 Things That Became Obsolete This Decade.

ObsoleteNow.jpg

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Fishing bloopers

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Miss him yet?

Surprisingly enough, an Obama voter sent me this. (But I don't think it means she's changed her mind about GWB.)

MissMeYet.jpg

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January 21, 2010

Strong cheese

Via

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Want me to hit you?

This story is from June, 2009 and the author's talking about the Oregon legislature. As TJIC says, "Rope!"

Summoning the fog

In an effort to keep their tax increase package intact, Democrats in the Legislature spin some unfortunate semantic skullduggery

One of the more devilish playground tricks played by bullying third-graders is the old switcheroo, as in: "Do you want me to hit you? 'Yes' means 'no,' and 'no' means 'yes.'" It was a tactic intended to take advantage of confused victims, and it usually worked.

That's more or less what Democrats on the Joint Ways and Means Committee did late Wednesday, slipping in some language intended to induce or take advantage of voter confusion in hopes of keeping the Oregon Legislature's recently passed tax package intact.

If you think that's an exaggeration, listen to a sample of the new language inserted into House Bill 2414:

"A measure referred to the people by referendum petition may not be adopted unless it receives an affirmative majority of the total votes cast on the measure rejecting the measure. For purposes of this subsection, a measure is considered adopted if it is rejected by the people."

Got that? Do you want me to hit you?

Via

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Aides Graffiti

A very clever French ad advocating condom use. Not at all SFW.

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More French graffiti

There are hundreds of pix of graffiti in Paris in this Flickr collection.

ParisianGraffiti.jpg

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January 20, 2010

This could get hairy

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Nice work if you can get it (5)

Hotel employs human bed warmers

A hotel chain is employing human bed warmers to help guests get a good night's sleep.

The walking electric blankets are dressed in special all-in-one sleeper suits and are sent to warm the beds of guests staying at the Holiday Inn before they get under the covers.

Holiday Inn spokeswoman Jane Bednall said the idea was "like having a giant hot water bottle in your bed".

The five minute free bed warming sessions are being tried out in London and Manchester at the end of January.

Take it, Benny...

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Digital guitar

Danilo sends a link to this guitar designed by Misa Digital, in Sydney, Australia.

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A great mystery

One of life's greatest mysteries is how the boy who wasn't good enough to marry your daughter can be the father of the smartest grandchild in the world.

Jewish proverb

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Microwaved wine

I don't think your landlord will like it if you try this at home.

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Well played (2)

I don't know anything about this new book, aside from its title being a a great pun on this old book.

CruTapeLetters.jpg

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January 19, 2010

Clever dolphins

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Cop comedy

I've been reading The Little Black Book of Violence and it includes this quote from another book, titled On Combat, while discussing the importance of keeping martial training as realistic as possible.

One police officer gave another example of learning to do the wrong thing. He took it on himself to practice disarming an attacker. At every opportunity, he would have his wife, a friend, or a partner hold a pistol on him so he could practice snatching it away. He would snatch the gun, hand it back, and repeat several more times. One day he and his partner responded to an unwanted man in a convenience store. He went down one aisle, while his partner went down another. At the end of the first aisle, he was taken by surprise when the suspect stepped around the corner and pointed a revolver at him. In the blink of an eye, the officer snatched the gun away, shocking the gunman with his speed and finesse. No doubt this criminal was surprised and confused even more when the officer handed the gun right back to him, just as he had practiced hundreds of times before. Fortunately for this officer, his partner came around the corner and shot the subject.

Whatever is drilled in during training comes out the other end in combat. In one West Coast city, officers training in defensive tactics used to practice an exercise in such a manner that it could have eventually been disastrous in a real life-and-death situation. The trainee playing the arresting officer would simulate a gun by pointing his finger at the trainee playing the suspect, and give him verbal commands to turn around, place his hands on top of his head, and so on. This came to a screeching halt when officers began reporting to the training unit that they had pointed with their fingers in real arrest situations. They must have pantomimed their firearms with convincing authority because every suspect had obeyed their commands. Not wanting to push their luck, the training unit immediately ceased having officers simulate weapons with their fingers and ordered red-handled dummy guns to be used in training.

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New call center

Not as good as the Dogbert method but it does keep support costs down.

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The Sky's the Limit

A collection of 25 images of skyscrapers and urban scenes at Slate. This one was taken in Paris in 1997.

SkysTheLimit.jpg

Via

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January 18, 2010

Quick-change illusionists

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Quite a mosaic

Ukrainian artist Oksana Mas has created an unusual mosaic portrait of the Virgin Mary, using 15,000 painted Easter Eggs.

VirginMaryEasterEggs.jpg

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Busted!

Online 'stunner' was teenage boy

A German man who bid £1,400 to win a night of passion with a stunning model was distraught to find out his 'date' was a teenage boy running an online scam.

Stefan Koch, 27, turned up at the model's flat to collect his prize but instead of the promised beautiful woman found only 17-year-old Dieter Muhr.

Via

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Muzorama

Another animation sent by Danilo. It's pretty surreal.

Muzorama is a short 3D animation film based on the universe of french illustrator Jean-Philippe Masson aka Muzo.

Produce in 2008 with a six weeks production time.

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January 16, 2010

More clever ads

At DRB.

GoodSuction.jpg

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Way back before 'A'

This is a lengthy (and somewhat technical) article at American Scientist that I found very interesting. Think what it means for the Fl factor in the Drake equation.

The Origin of Life

As the frontiers of knowledge have advanced, scientists have resolved one creation question after another. We now have a pretty good understanding of the origin of the Sun and the Earth, and cosmologists can take us to within a fraction of a second of the beginning of the universe itself. [...] Yet one of the most obvious big questions—how did life arise from inorganic matter?—remains a great unknown.

[...]

In this article we present a view gaining attention in the origin-of-life community that takes the question out of the hatchery and places it squarely in the realm of accessible, plausible chemistry. As we see it, the early steps on the way to life are an inevitable, incremental result of the operation of the laws of chemistry and physics operating under the conditions that existed on the early Earth, a result that can be understood in terms of known (or at least knowable) laws of nature. As such, the early stages in the emergence of life are no more surprising, no more accidental, than water flowing downhill.

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Jimmy does Jay

All about Conan O'Brien and The Tonight Show.

And a little follow-up with Leno himself.

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Making the case for term limits

Nasty Party

An Indian politician is recruiting crooks to join his party because he thinks their cunning, dishonesty and selfishness make them perfect for life as an MP.

Former railways minister Lalu Prasad Yadav, 62, has launched an appeal for old lags to take office in his National People's Party.

"It's the best way to select candidates for politics. Show me your jail stint and join me," said Yadav.

"Most politicians end up crooked so they might as well start that way," he added.


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January 15, 2010

He may not be tall & dark but they don't come much stranger

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What we didn't know

Now where have we heard about unknown unknowns before?

50 Things we know now that we didn't know this time last year

If there was an award for best quote of the year, our money would be on Richard Fisher, the director of NASA's Heliophysics Division.

Fisher was interviewed in October by National Public Radio after NASA scientists discovered a mysterious ribbon of hydrogen around our solar system.

The layer, a sort of protective barrier called the heliosphere, shields us from harmful cosmic radiation. Its existence defies all expectations about what the edge of the solar system might look like.

Fisher's response: "We thought we knew everything about everything, and it turned out that there were unknown unknowns."

In other words: We don't know what we don't know until we know that we don't know it. [...]

Here's a list of stuff we culled from 2009 that may have come as a surprise:

1. Domestic pigs can quickly learn how mirrors work and use them to find food.

2. Grumpy people think more clearly because negative moods trigger more attentive, careful thinking.

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Keep your gear clean

Safe for work, too.

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Can you walk and type at the same time?

There's an app for that. srsly.

WalkAndType.jpg

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Very nice

You may want to try this one in full-screen mode.

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A long-standing question answered

Essential Life Lesson #1: Over is Right, Under is Wrong

As part of our ongoing effort here at Current Configuration to make your life not only better, but also 10% more crunchy, we're offering you this first installment of what will be an ongoing series of Essential Life Lessons. Kicking off this series will be a critical but even-handed examination of a common misunderstanding that occurs in a realm of many misunderstandings: the bathroom.

OverVsUnder.jpg

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January 14, 2010

Schadenfreude

Some of these are true misfortunes but in most you have to wonder, 'What were they thinking?'

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Snow rollers

I'd never heard of snow rollers but a National Weather Service office in Spokane has a collection of pictures of them, taken in Idaho.

SnowRollers.jpg

Via

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The Passenger

Completed in 2006, The Passenger was created in its entirety by Chris Jones over an eight year period. Find out how and why at: http://www.chrisj.com.au.

Hat tip to Danilo

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Living in the future

Follow the link - it's pretty entertaining.

2010: Living In the Future | the book

Back when I was a boy, I bought a children's book at my town's library book sale called "2010: Living in the Future" by Geoffrey Hoyle. Written in 1972, it had been withdrawn from the library's collection by the mid-80s, when I picked it up. I've somehow managed to hang onto it for 25 years and now, suddenly, here we are: 2010. I'm reproducing this long out-of-print book here to see how we're doing. Are we really living in the future?

Via

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Stop whining

Steve sends 11 images of deep snow in Quebec.

QuebecSnow.jpg

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January 13, 2010

Nice toy

The Parrot AR.Drone.

And here's a clip about gaming with this widget.

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Awesome dunes of Mars

MartianDunes.jpg
Another dose of Martian awesome

That is not a closeup of my chin before I shave. It's Mars, a dune field in the far north; at latitude 83.5° to be precise, less than 400 km (240 miles) from the north pole. The eternal Martian wind blows the heavy sand into dunes, and you can see the hummocks and ripples from this across the image. The sand on Mars is from basalt, which is a darkish gray color. The red comes from much smaller dust particles which settle everywhere.

But what are those weird tendril thingies?

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Glasses that never get lost

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It's always summertime somewhere

Danilo (a regular reader & contributor) writes,

Are you cold? Here is HOT! Very, very hot, check this out, happened in Rio (yes, Olympics!), a thermometer that stays at an avenue broke.
HotInRio.jpg

This is kinda 118~119 Fahrenheit. Of course it was showing the wrong temperature, that maybe was 43~44 Celsius.

Regards
Danilo (sweating) in Brazil

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January 12, 2010

Doggie door suprise

Steve sent a couple of these pictures to satisfy your thirst for cute. The doe allegedly followed the beagle through its doggie door and then made itself at home. The other picture (and a related video) are here.

DoeAndBeagle.jpg

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People of Walmart rap

This mash-up of pictures from PeopleOfWalmart is pretty funny. (NSFW naturally.)

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Branded as scholars

Carpe Diem picks up an article in the Chronicle of Higher Education:

From the Chronicle of Higher Education:

Given that he holds a named chair "for the study of capitalism" [BB&T Professor for the Study of Capitalism at George Mason University] it is perhaps not that surprising that Pete Leeson was a keen economist even as a teenager. When he was 17, he had supply-and-demand curves tattooed on his right biceps. "People think it's fun and that I'm an oddball for having it," says Mr. Leeson. "One of my favorite things about it is the chance it gives me to talk to total strangers about economics." That, he admits, might confirm his "dorkdom," but so be it.

SupplyDemandTattoo.jpg

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Winter wonderland

Luckily, we haven't had any of the usual winter ice storms locally. So this compilation of problems while driving on ice is pretty funny.

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Say it ain't so, Google

Google claims this is a just a software problem. That's possible - but it seems pretty unlikely to me.

Is Google Censoring Islam Suggestions?

Confused about what Islam is? Join the party — it seems Google can't figure it out either. Or, at least its search suggestion program can't.

IslamIs.jpg

If you type, "Buddhism is" or "Christianity is," Google will quickly show you suggestions for what it thinks you might be trying to type. In the former query's case, the Google guesses "not a religion," "wrong," "not what you think." Christianity gets tougher treatment with the suggestions "bullshit" and "not a religion."

But the query "Islam is"? Not a thing comes to mind for Google to suggest. (Search results are still there, of course.)

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January 10, 2010

Frozen fantasy land

The Big Picture has a collection of photos from the 26th annual International Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival in Harbin, China.

HarbinIceFestival.jpg

Here's a news video about the festival.

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January 08, 2010

Hate and Change

This ad is a curiosity to watch. I've never seen an ad for engine technology featuring birds and flowers -- it's like engine anime. (There's probably a Japanese word for that.)

And it gets even stranger when you learn that it was named Commercial of the Decade by Adweek* and that it's narrated by Garrison Keillor.

*SuperBowl ads not included

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Hacked stop signs

At urlesque.com. Some of them look like Photoshop jobs but they're still amusing.

HackedStopSign.jpg

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Tiger by the tail

Tucson John brought this parody about Tiger Woods to my attention. It's based on Buck Owens' song, Tiger By The Tail and is definitely NSFW.

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How to spend a snow day

Snowed-In Brits boost adultery website

LONDON (Reuters) - Britons snowed in by the wintry weather have been flocking to an extra-marital dating site in the last 24 hours.

IllicitEncounters.com, which provides a platform for married people to conduct affairs, said on Wednesday it has seen an unexpected increase in visitors over the past 24 hours, and received a record number of new profiles on Wednesday morning.

The website said most new members are registering from areas worst hit by this week's extreme weather, including Hampshire, Berkshire, and the West Country, and the site has taken on several temporary staff members to cope with the rush.

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January 07, 2010

Alma

Danilo writes, "Alma means soul in portuguese and (i think) in other latin languages." This short film with that title is very well done - but a little creepy.

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Most expensive car smash-ups

Tucson John sends a link to this collection of 10 expensive car crashes. Here's a Ferrari Enzo (what's left of it) after impact at 196 MPH.

FerrariEnzoWreck.jpg

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Never date anyone crazier than yourself

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It's a cold world, Al

'Frozen Gore' sculpture returns in Fairbanks to fuel climate change debate

FAIRBANKS - In what might become an annual tradition, an ice sculpture of former Vice President Al Gore has taken its place in front of Thrifty Liquor along Airport Way.

The two-ton "Frozen Gore" sculpture isn't exactly a tribute. It's a tongue-in-cheek critique of Gore's vocal belief in man-made climate change, complete with hot air pouring out of his mouth.

Local businessmen Craig Compeau and Rudy Gavora contracted the piece from award-winning sculptor Steve Dean and say they'll keep erecting one each winter until Gore accepts an invitation to discuss the global warming issue in Fairbanks.

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January 06, 2010

Get the drift?

Impressive! But crazy.

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Still more funny signs

The TimesOnline has a slideshow of 20 funny signs from around the world.

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Design by committee

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Web 2.0 Suicide Machine

WebSuicide.jpgTired of your Social Network?

Liberate your newbie friends with a Web2.0 suicide! This machine lets you delete all your energy sucking social-networking profiles, kill your fake virtual friends, and completely do away with your Web2.0 alterego. The machine is just a metaphor for the website which moddr_ is hosting; the belly of the beast where the web2.0 suicide scripts are maintained. Our service currently runs with Facebook, Myspace, Twitter and LinkedIn! Commit NOW!

Feel free like a real bird again and untwitter yourself. Watch it here!

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January 05, 2010

Snow Business

More from Simon's Cat.

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What's this?

Seems to be happy, whatever it is

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The farmer's daughter

Steve sends a link to this old (1998) Bud Light ad. It's still pretty funny.

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Best sand sculpture?

Jack sends a link to WhatPoll.com, a site that's - you guessed it - all about polls. It's worth a look. Here's one from a poll for the best sand sculpture.

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January 04, 2010

Useless automation

Instructions on how to build one here.

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Jay Walker's library

Browse the Artifacts of Geek History in Jay Walker's Library

Nothing quite prepares you for the culture shock of Jay Walker's library. You exit the austere parlor of his New England home and pass through a hallway into the bibliographic equivalent of a Disney ride. Stuffed with landmark tomes and eye-grabbing historical objects—on the walls, on tables, standing on the floor—the room occupies about 3,600 square feet on three mazelike levels. Is that a Sputnik? (Yes.) Hey, those books appear to be bound in rubies. (They are.) That edition of Chaucer ... is it a Kelmscott? (Natch.) Gee, that chandelier looks like the one in the James Bond flick Die Another Day. (Because it is.)

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January 02, 2010

Bejeweled

This clip is 12+ minutes of the New Year's fireworks display in Sydney. It's an amazing show and the videography is outstanding.

Sky News says, "More than a million people gathered in Sydney Harbour to see a spectacular New Year fireworks display. Organisers claimed the 12-minute extravaganza involving 4,500kg of fireworks [just shy of 5 US tons - JdJ] was the most complex ever staged."

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Viral cyclist

Urban Cyclist Spins Web Fame Into Career

A viral web video showing off daredevil stunts has helped a bike shop mechanic ditch the day job and launch an international career.

Danny MacAskill is an urban cyclist and, to him, the street is a stage for amazing cycling acrobatics.

The 23-year-old from Skye has been perfecting his art ever since he was a child and always treated it as a hobby.

Then, earlier this year, he and his flatmate made a short film showing what Danny could do.

Around 12 million YouTube hits later, he has ditched the day job and the hobby has become his living, complete with agent, sponsorship deals, TV appearances and contracts worldwide.

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Analemma

This was the Astronomy Picture of the Day for December 20th. It reminded me of Neal Stephenson's Anathem.

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If you went outside at exactly the same time every day and took a picture that included the Sun, how would the Sun appear to move? With great planning and effort, such a series of images can be taken. The figure-8 path the Sun follows over the course of a year is called an analemma. This coming Tuesday, the Winter Solstice day in Earth's northern hemisphere, the Sun will be at the bottom of the analemma. [...] With even greater planning and effort, the series can include a total eclipse of the Sun as one of the images. Pictured is such a total solar eclipse analemma or Tutulemma - a term coined by the photographers based on the Turkish word for eclipse. The composite image sequence was recorded from Turkey starting in 2005. The base image for the sequence is from the total phase of a solar eclipse as viewed from Side, Turkey on 2006 March 29.

Credit & Copyright: Cenk E. Tezel and Tunç Tezel (TWAN)

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There's no place like jail for the holidays

Man opts for jail over New Year with relatives

ROME (Reuters) – A Sicilian man stole sweets and a packet of chewing gum so he could get arrested and spend New Year's Eve in a jail cell rather than be with his wife and relatives, Italian media reported on Friday.

The 35-year old Sicilian first showed up at a police station on Thursday asking to be arrested because he preferred spending the night in prison rather than with his family, but was rebuffed because he had not committed a crime, the Agi news agency said.

The man immediately went to a tobacco shop next door, where he threatened the owner with a box cutter as he grabbed a few sweets and a packet of gum. He then waited until police arrived to arrest him for robbery, the news agency said.

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January 01, 2010

Don't panic

This is a great presentation about climate change by Warren Meyer. It's worth the 90 minutes you'll spend watching it. He doesn't argue that the climate isn't warming nor that CO2 isn't a contributing factor to that. Instead, he makes some good arguments that those changes are no cause for alarm. (You can view this video in a larger format at his site.)

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The Top 10 Top 10

Rhymes WIth Orange is one of my favorites.

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