March 17, 2014

'Transparent' cabin

1 of 9 images at imgur.


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July 20, 2011

Discovery's flight deck

A 360° image of shuttle Discovery's flight deck. If you visit, be sure to pan up and see what's overhead.



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July 05, 2010

Swords into plowshares

Here's a post from Marginal Revolution last week, titled Sentence of the Day.

... 10 percent of the electricity Americans use comes from Russian missiles and bombs.

From Stewart Brand's excellent and highly quotable Whole Earth Discipline: An Ecopragmatist Manifesto.

Brand was writing about the Megatons to Megawatts program.

The Megatons to Megawatts™ Program is a unique, commercially financed government-industry partnership in which bomb-grade uranium from dismantled Russian nuclear warheads is being recycled into low enriched uranium (LEU) used to produce fuel for American nuclear power plants. Megatons to Megawatts logo USEC, as executive agent for the U.S. government, and Techsnabexport (TENEX), acting for the Russian government, implement this 20-year, $8 billion program at no cost to taxpayers.

Program Status
382 metric tons of bomb-grade HEU have been recycled into 11,047 metric tons of LEU, equivalent to 15,294 nuclear warheads eliminated. (12/31/09)

Through a multi-step process in Russia, the bomb-grade uranium material is converted into a different chemical form and then diluted into LEU suitable for use in fabricating commercial nuclear power reactor fuel. USEC then purchases the LEU to market to its utility customers.

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July 04, 2010

A hero of the Revolution

Happy Independence Day.

Wikipedia says:
Samuel Whittemore (1694 - February 3, 1793) was a farmer. He was eighty years old and living in Menotomy, Massachusetts (present-day Arlington) when he became the oldest known colonial combatant in the American Revolutionary War.[1]

On April 19, 1775, British forces were returning to Boston from the Battles of Lexington and Concord, the opening engagements of the war. On their march, they were continually shot at by colonial militiamen.

Whittemore was in his fields when he spotted an approaching British relief brigade under Earl Percy, sent to assist the retreat. Whittemore loaded his musket and ambushed the British from behind a nearby stone wall, killing one soldier. He then drew his dueling pistols and killed another. He managed to fire five shots before a British detachment reached his position. Whittemore then attacked with a sword. He was shot in the face, bayoneted thirteen times, and left for dead in a pool of blood. He was found alive, trying to load his musket to fight again. He was taken to Dr. Cotton Tufts of Medford, who held out no hope for his survival. However, Whittemore lived another eighteen years until dying of natural causes at the age of ninety-eight.

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June 25, 2010


This was introduced last October but I just now learned about it.

Dyson Air Multiplier - no blades, no buffeting

The Dyson Air Multiplier™ fan works very differently to conventional fans. It uses Air Multiplier™ technology to draw in air and amplify it 15 times, producing an uninterrupted stream of smooth air. With no blades or grill, it's safe, easy to clean and doesn't cause unpleasant buffeting.

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May 25, 2010

At last

After keeping us waiting for a century, Mark Twain will finally reveal all

Exactly a century after rumours of his death turned out to be entirely accurate, one of Mark Twain's dying wishes is at last coming true: an extensive, outspoken and revelatory autobiography which he devoted the last decade of his life to writing is finally going to be published.

The creator of Tom Sawyer, Huckleberry Finn and some of the most frequently misquoted catchphrases in the English language left behind 5,000 unedited pages of memoirs when he died in 1910, together with handwritten notes saying that he did not want them to hit bookshops for at least a century.

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May 12, 2010

The Google of guesswork

Tom Parker has written a couple of books about rules of thumb. He has a site at where he hopes to collect them all and create the 'Google of guesswork', as he calls it.


Here's an interesting sample: It takes two minutes for the sun to drop out of sight once it touches the horizon..

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April 27, 2010

Anything for a fin

Fiverr. Check it out.


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February 20, 2010

National sport

Afghanistan's Ultimate Sport

What do you call men on horses fighting over a headless goat carcass? Buzkashi -- Afghanistan's national sport, which also just happens to be a powerful metaphor for the country's politics.

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October 05, 2009

A Drink With Something In it

There is something about a Martini,
A tingle remarkably pleasant;
A yellow, a mellow Martini;
I wish I had one at present.
There is something about a Martini,
Ere the dining and dancing begin,
And to tell you the truth,
It is not the vermouth--
I think that perhaps it's the gin.

- Ogden Nash

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September 27, 2009

Global warming: pro & con

Via NewScientist, remarks by 'one of the world's top climate modellers' that warming forecasts may not be holding up well.

World's climate could cool first, warm later

Forecasts of climate change are about to go seriously out of kilter. One of the world's top climate modellers said Thursday we could be about to enter one or even two decades during which temperatures cool.

"People will say this is global warming disappearing," he told more than 1500 of the world's top climate scientists gathering in Geneva at the UN's World Climate Conference.

"I am not one of the sceptics," insisted Mojib Latif of the Leibniz Institute of Marine Sciences at Kiel University, Germany. "However, we have to ask the nasty questions ourselves or other people will do it."

On the other hand, here's a dramatic 20-minute presentation from July of this year called Time-lapse proof of extreme ice loss. It's by photographer James Balog, who is an unabashed AGW evangelist. (My words, not his.) The presentation's an impressive record of the effect - though that's not the same as showing that the cause is primarily human activity.

Finally, Bjorn Lomborg, The Skeptical Environmentalist, had a cautionary article in Forbes this week. (H.T. Steve)
Climate Change: A Perilous Path
Our costly ''solutions'' could be more harmful than global warming itself.

Evidence is growing that relatively cheap policies like climate engineering and non-carbon energy research could effectively prevent suffering from global warming, both in the short and long term. Unfortunately, political leaders gathering at a special meeting of the United Nations in New York this week will focus on a very different response.

They will make many of the most important decisions on how to respond to climate change over the next decade. They are expected to thrash out political disputes like how much carbon rich and poor nations should agree to cut. The real question that must be addressed is: Do we want to be the generation that promised so much but failed to solve global warming? We will not be judged by our descendants on our rhetoric, nor on the scale of our promises. We will be judged on what we deliver.

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September 02, 2009

Your whiz is her biz

Ohio University : Urine turned into hydrogen fuel

US researchers have developed an efficient way of producing hydrogen from urine – a feat that could not only fuel the cars of the future, but could also help clean up municipal wastewater.

Using hydrogen to power cars has become an increasingly attractive transportation fuel, as the only emission produced is water – but a major stumbling block is the lack of a cheap, renewable source of the fuel. Gerardine Botte of Ohio University may now have found the answer, using an electrolytic approach to produce hydrogen from urine – the most abundant waste on Earth – at a fraction of the cost of producing hydrogen from water. Botte says the idea came to her several years ago at a conference on fuel cells, where they were discussing how to turn clean water into clean power. 'I wondered how we could do this better,' she adds – so started looking at waste streams as a better source of molecules from which to produce hydrogen.

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August 22, 2009

Afghan Lord

Danilo in Brazil sends a link to a photo collection by Nisam Fekrat in Afghanistan.

Mr. Fekrat also keeps a couple of blogs: one in English, called Afghan Lord and one in Farsi called Kabul Diary. I found the English blog pretty interesting.


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June 17, 2009

Say it

Post of the day comes from Coyote blog. It's the funniest thing I read today.

We all know the problem with oil companies: They restrict supply to drive up prices to earn profit margins that are nearly a third of those earned by Microsoft while simultaneously keeping prices too low and promoting addiction to oil which produces a lot of CO2 and they never want to reinvest their profits in exploring for new oil so the government needs to restrict drilling in every major prospective US region so the oil companies will be stopped from greedily drilling everywhere and destroying the environment.

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March 08, 2009

Another pyramid house

Mike writes, "We have our own pyramid house here in the states (with a giant statue of Ramses). Location - Wadsworth IL" He sends the links below.


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February 26, 2009

Atlas Reads

Sales of "Atlas Shrugged" Soar in the Face of Economic Crisis

Washington, D.C., February 23, 2009--Sales of Ayn Rand's "Atlas Shrugged" have almost tripled over the first seven weeks of this year compared with sales for the same period in 2008. This continues a strong trend after bookstore sales reached an all-time annual high in 2008 of about 200,000 copies sold.

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July 28, 2008

The good old days

Weren't the eighties grand? Cash grew on trees or, anyway, coca bushes. The rich roamed the land in vast herds hunted by proud, free tribes of investment brokers who lived a simple life in tune with money. Every wristwatch was a Rolex. Every car was a Mercedes-Benz. A fellow could romance a gal without shrink-wrapping his privates and negotiating the Treaty of Ghent. Communist dictators were losing their jobs, not presidents of America and General Motors. Women wore Adolfo gowns instead of dumpy federal circuit court judge robes. The Malcolm who mattered was Forbes. Bill Clinton was only a microscopic polyp in the colon of national politics, and Hillary was still in flight school, hadn't even soloed on her broom. What a blast we were having. The suburbs had just discovered Martha Stewart, the cities had just discovered crack. So many parties and none of them Democratic... Back then health care was a tummy tuck, not an inalienable right. If you wanted a better environment, you went to Laura Ashley.

- P.J. O'Rourke


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July 16, 2008

Performance art

December 2005 - Paper & Vinyl - 400x330x280mm

Fully working, manual record player made entirely of paper. To play the record the handle needs to be turned in a clockwise direction at a steady 331/3rpm. The paper cone then acts as a pickup, amplifying the sound enough to make it audible. (Record shown, 'The Sound of Music' 1965).


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June 13, 2008

Doorway to Hell

Interesting story.

This place in Uzbekistan is called by locals "The Door to Hell". It is situated near the small town of Darvaz. The story of this place lasts already for 35 years.

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April 24, 2008

More illusions

Here's a site dedicated to optical illusions. The one below is called, appropriately enough, Sea Sickness. It's even more effective in its larger size at the site.


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April 23, 2008

The #1 Song

To look up and listen to Billboard's #1 song on a specific date in history, select a month to the left.

What was the #1 song on ...
- the day you were born?
- the day you graduated from high school?
- the day you were married?
- the day your child was born?
- the approximate date you were conceived?

Once you find the song for the date you've chosen, the site links you to either iTunes or to Amazon so you can hear a preview snippet.


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Here's an interesting site:

The goal of it to establish gated communities containing 100% Ron Paul supporters and or people that live by the ideals of freedom and liberty.

I think the Free State Project is a good idea (though I wish they'd chosen Wyoming rather than New Hampshire). But this Paulville project makes me think that "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."

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One day poem

An interesting thesis project by Jiyeon Song.

The results of an extensive exploration with shadows, the One Day Poem Pavilion demonstrates the poetic, transitory, site-sensitive and time-based nature of light and shadow. Using a complex array of perforations, the pavilion’s surface allows light to pass through creating shifting patterns, which–during specific times of the year–transform into the legible text of a poem.

Check out the time-lapse Flash movie.

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April 02, 2008

Peak oil?

Unfortunately, there's no date on this article so I have no idea what "the next 30 days" means. (Update: As Patrick points out in a comment, the story's dated Feb. 13 - so the USGS report should be out by now.)

Massive Oil Deposit Could Increase US reserves by 10x

America is sitting on top of a super massive 200 billion barrel Oil Field that could potentially make America Energy Independent and until now has largely gone unnoticed. Thanks to new technology the Bakken Formation in North Dakota could boost America’s Oil reserves by an incredible 10 times, giving western economies the trump card against OPEC’s short squeeze on oil supply and making Iranian and Venezuelan threats of disrupted supply irrelevant.

In the next 30 days the USGS (U.S. Geological Survey) will release a new report giving an accurate resource assessment of the Bakken Oil Formation that covers North Dakota and portions of South Dakota and Montana. With new horizontal drilling technology it is believed that from 175 to 500 billion barrels of recoverable oil are held in this 200,000 square mile reserve that was initially discovered in 1951.

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March 07, 2008

Early computing

Neatorama has a nice article called The Wonderful World of Early Computing. It starts back before 'A' (as in abacus) and runs through "Amazing Grace" Hopper.

Charles Babbage’s Difference Engine No. 2, with Doron Swade of
The Science Museum who oversaw its construction.

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March 03, 2008

Inside North Korea

A slideshow of photos by Chang Lee at the New York Times' site.



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February 20, 2008

Weird Theme Parks

Eight weird theme parks around the world, like this one.

“Josef Stalin” and “amusement” aren’t two words you normally associate with each other; but amusing or not, Lithuania’s Grutas Park recreates life under the reign of the Man of Steel.

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February 16, 2008

Farewell, Mr. President

The only website where you can post a video saying your personal goodbye to our commander-in-chief!


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February 07, 2008

Logo evolution

The Evolution of Tech Companies’ Logos

You’ve seen these tech logos everywhere, but have you ever wondered how they came to be? Did you know that Apple’s original logo was Isaac Newton under an apple tree? Or that Nokia’s original logo was a fish?



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February 01, 2008

Don't it make my brown eyes blue

How one ancestor helped turn our brown eyes blue

By Steve Connor, Science Editor
Thursday, 31 January 2008

Everyone with blue eyes alive today – from Angelina Jolie to Wayne Rooney – can trace their ancestry back to one person who probably lived about 10,000 years ago in the Black Sea region, a study has found.

Scientists studying the genetics of eye colour have discovered that more than 99.5 per cent of blue-eyed people who volunteered to have their DNA analysed have the same tiny mutation in the gene that determines the colour of the iris.

Naturally, I can't resist linking to this.

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January 30, 2008

Sky scapes

From the site: "Sky-Scapes® are fluorescent light diffusers designed to reduce the harsh glare emanating from sterile existing fluorescent lighting." Seems like a cool way to keep fluorescent lights from harshing your mellow.


I ran across this site at the Dilbert blog, where Scott Adams posted about it because they carry a line of Dilbert® diffusers.

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January 15, 2008

Hi-tech labs

A collection of interesting research facilities.


And another, equally interesting, collection.

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January 08, 2008

I Am Lawsuit Abuse

Here's an interesting follow-up to my two posts about the judge in Washington, DC with the fancy pants. The judge sued his cleaners for $65 million over a missing pair of trousers and lost. (This judge was fired in late October.)


This is a clip about Jin and Soo Chung, who own Custom Cleaners and are the defendants in that suit. (I say 'are' because the judge is appealing the court decision against him so the suit's still dragging on, AFAIK. The only good news about this is that the Chungs' court costs were covered by donations.)


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December 18, 2007


Here's something new for Jimmy Buffett to write a song about... (This is a German company, which explains the second sentence in the second paragraph.)

It's a simple fact: wind is cheaper than oil and the most cost-effective offshore energy source. Yet, despite its attractive saving potential, it is not presently being used by cargo ships - for a simple reason: so far no sailing system has met the requirements of commercial shipping.

SkySails is now offering a wind propulsion system based on large towing kites, which, for the first time, meets the requirements of shipping companies.Anforderungen gerecht wird. SkySails is the first time a wind-drive system on the basis of large towing kite ready for all needs.



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November 15, 2007

Boat lifts

If you liked my post about the Falkirk wheel, you'll probably like this post about boat lifts at The pic below shows the Saint-Louis / Arzviller inclined plane at Moselle, France


There are 8 lifts mentioned there, including the Falkirk wheel and the yet-to-be-completed lift at the Three Gorges dam in China - which will be the tallest in the world when it's finished.

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October 14, 2007

Give one, get one

This clip by David Pogue, a technology columnist for the New York Times, is about the XO "$100 laptop". Next month XO will have an interesting promotion for their goal of getting laptops into the hands of kids who can't afford them.

Starting November 12, One Laptop Per Child will be offering a Give 1 Get 1 Program for a brief window of time in North America. For $399, you will be purchasing two XO laptops—one that will be sent to empower a child to learn in a developing nation, and one that will be sent to your child at home. If you're interested in Give 1 Get 1, we'll be happy to send you a reminder email. Just sign up in the box to the left and you'll receive your reminder prior to the November 12 launch date.

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October 02, 2007


Perhaps of even greater significance is the continuous and profound distrust of science and technology that the environmental movement displays. The environmental movement maintains that science and technology cannot be relied upon to build a safe atomic power plant, to produce a pesticide that is safe, or even bake a loaf of bread that is safe, if that loaf of bread contains chemical preservatives. When it comes to global warming, however, it turns out that there is one area in which the environmental movement displays the most breathtaking confidence in the reliability of science and technology, an area in which, until recently, no one--even the staunchest supporters of science and technology--had ever thought to assert very much confidence at all. The one thing, the environmental movement holds, that science and technology can do so well that we are entitled to have unlimited confidence in them, is FORECAST THE WEATHER!--for the next one hundred years...

George Reisman, The Toxicity of Environmentalism

And, while I'm on this topic (again :) I should mention that I recently added Warren Meyers' Climate Skeptic blog to the blogroll. (Mr. Meyer also writes Coyote blog.)

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September 20, 2007

Civics quiz

Here's an interesting quiz about US history and related matters; 60 questions in all. See how you do at it. (I don't suppose it will mean much to those who aren't US citizens.)

The New York Sun has an article about how poorly graduating college seniors have been doing on this quiz.

Students Know Less After 4 College Years

Staff Reporter of the Sun
September 19, 2007

Students at many of the country's most prestigious colleges and universities are graduating with less knowledge of American history, government, and economics than they had as incoming freshmen, with Harvard University seniors scoring a "D+" average on a 60-question multiple-choice exam about civic literacy.


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July 17, 2007


I came across Slide by way of a link at WServerNews, which called it "the YouTube of slideshows. Much easier (and cheaper) than a PowerPoint slide deck and WebEx."

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.

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June 09, 2007

Some e-cards features a hilarious set of electronic cards you can send.


They remind of the Demotivators® line from Despair, Inc.


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February 26, 2007

How smart is your right foot?

This is so funny that it will boggle your mind. And you will keep trying at least 50 more times to see if you can outsmart your foot, but you can't.

While sitting in a chair, lift your right foot off the floor and make clockwise circles with it.

Now, while doing this, draw the number "6" in the air with your right hand.

Your foot will change direction. And there's nothing you can do about it.

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January 02, 2007

Let's go to Texas!

Dave Barry's Year-End Review.

This was the year in which the members of the United States Congress, who do not bother to read the actual bills they pass, spent weeks poring over instant messages sent by a pervert. This was the year in which the vice president of the United States shot a lawyer, which turned out to be totally legal in Texas.

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November 28, 2006

Man's best friend

Steve F. sends this collection of quotes about canines.

The reason a dog has so many friends is that he wags his tail instead of his tongue. - Anonymous

Don't accept your dog's admiration as conclusive evidence that you are wonderful. - Ann Landers

If there are no dogs in Heaven, then when I die I want to go where they went. - Will Rogers

There is no psychiatrist in the world like a puppy licking your face. - Ben Williams

A dog is the only thing on earth that loves you more than he loves himself. - Josh Billings

(There's more to come...)

The average dog is a nicer person than the average person. - Andy Rooney

We give dogs time we can spare, space we can spare and love we can spare. And in return, dogs give us their all. It's the best deal man has ever made. - M. Acklam

Dogs love their friends and bite their enemies, quite unlike people, who are incapable of pure love and always have to mix love and hate. - Sigmund Freud

I wonder if other dogs think poodles are members of a weird religious cult. - Rita Rudner

A dog teaches a boy fidelity, perseverance, and to turn around three times before lying down. - Robert Benchley

Anybody who doesn't know what soap tastes like never washed a dog. - Franklin P. Jones

If I have any beliefs about immortality, it is that certain dogs I have known will go to Heaven and very, very few persons. - James Thurber

If your dog is fat, you aren't getting enough exercise. - Unknown

My dog is worried about the economy because Alpo is up to $3.00 a can. That's almost $21.00 in dog money. - Joe Weinstein

Ever consider what our dogs must think of us? I mean, here we come back from a grocery store with the most amazing haul, chicken, pork, half a cow. They must think we're the greatest hunters on earth! - Anne Tyler

Women and cats will do as they please, and men and dogs should relax and get used to the idea. - Robert A. Heinlein

If you pick up a starving dog and make him prosperous, he will not bite you; that is the principal difference between a dog and a man. - Mark Twain

You can say any foolish thing to a dog, and the dog will give you a look that says, 'Wow, you're right! I never would've thought of that!' - Dave Barry

Dogs are not our whole life, but they make our lives whole. - Roger Caras

If you think dogs can't count, try putting three dog biscuits in your pocket and then give him only two of them. - Phil Pastoret

My goal in life is to be as good of a person my dog already thinks I am. - Anonymous

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April 20, 2006

Molecular expressions

This Java applet has been around for years. It displays a sequence of images centered on Florida that's based on distance measured in powers-of-ten -- from 10^23 to 10^-16 meters. Here's the view 10^22 meters from Florida.

I've gotten two messages about it lately - and it is interesting. Click the image to view it.

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April 07, 2006

Red Square

Here's a clever little game done entirely in JavaScript:

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March 22, 2006


A.E. sends a link to an interesting concept vehicle called the Loremo.


The site claims this vehicle will get 100 km per 1.5 liters which, if I did the conversion correctly, would be 157 miles per gallon. Not available until 2009.

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March 06, 2006

A six cycle engine

This is an interesting article from AutoWeek about a six-cycle engine.


It's a modified gasoline (or diesel) engine with water injected on the stroke following the exhaust stroke to provide a second, steam-driven power stroke. This will be pretty slick, if it works.

Via Clayton Cramer.

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Le coeur fait boum

Here's a curious puppet widget at a French site. "Amuses-toi avec mon coeur," it says. Carol says she found it very diverting.

It appears to be using an ActiveX control. IE reported it was launching a control and the site didn't work for me using either Opera or Firefox. (Your mileage may vary, of course.)

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February 20, 2006

Serious origami

Hojyo Takashi posts images of his origami here. This is just one of many impressive pieces.

Takashi origami

Via DiClerico.

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February 17, 2006

Brief history of an atomic blast

Several photos of an atomic test made in Nevada.

Photos of the First Few Microseconds of an Atomic Blast
Courtesy of Harold Edgerton (photographer)

Ever wondered what an atomic blast looks like before it obliterates everything around it? Before the smoke, the mushroom cloud, the devastation, it's really quite amazing to see the first few fractions of an atomic bomb upon detonation.

Edgerton built a special lens 10 feet long for his camera which was set up in a bunker 7 miles from the source of the blast which was triggered Nevada - the bomb placed atop a steel gantry anchored to the desert floor by guide wires. The exposures are at 1/100,000,000ths of a second.


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February 09, 2006

More hot map action

Here's an interesting map-based real estate valuation service at The example in the image below is for a neighborhood a few miles from mine.

I checked zillow for three places that I have a pretty fair idea of value for. On two of them, it came pretty close to my estimates; on the 3rd it was way high. So if it gives you a huge price for your house, don't regard it as money in the bank.

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January 31, 2006

Mr. Picasso Head

Make your own Picasso-like drawing using the Flash widget at this site.

Picasso head

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January 30, 2006

Age guage

Put your birth date in the pop up window after you click on the below link. What happens is pretty interesting. Click here. This will really make you feel old.

(Just what you wanted, right? Use your browser's Refresh/Reload button to try other dates.)

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January 26, 2006

The Dragon Lady

SteveR writes, "The closest thing to flying a U-2."

Maj. Dean Neeley is in the forward, lower cockpit of the Lockheed U-2ST, a two-place version of the U-2S, a high-altitude reconnaissance aircraft that the Air Force calls "Dragon Lady.." His voice on the intercom breaks the silence. "Do you know that you're the highest person in the world?" He explains that I am in the higher of the two cockpits and that there are no other U-2s airborne right now. "Astronauts don't count," he says, "They're out of this world."

We are above 70,000 feet and still climbing slowly as the aircraft becomes lighter. The throttle has been at its mechanical limit since takeoff, and the single General Electric F118-GE-101 turbofan engine sips fuel so slowly at this altitude that consumption is less than when idling on the ground. Although true airspeed is that of a typical jetliner, indicated airspeed registers only in double digits.

I cannot detect the curvature of the Earth, although some U-2 pilots claim that they can. The sky at the horizon is hazy white but transitions to midnight blue at our zenith. It seems that if we were much higher, the sky would become black enough to see stars at noon.. The Sierra Nevada, the mountainous spine of California, has lost its glory, a mere corrugation on the Earth. Lake Tahoe looks like a fishing hole, and rivers have become rivulets. Far below, "high flying" jetliners etch contrails over Reno, Nevada, but we are so high above these aircraft that they cannot be seen.

I feel mild concern about the bailout light on the instrument panel and pray that Neeley does not have reason to turn it on. At this altitude I also feel a sense of insignificance and isolation; earthly concerns seem trivial. This flight is an epiphany, a life-altering experience.

I cannot detect air noise through the helmet of my pressure suit. I hear only my own breathing, the hum of avionics through my headset and, inexplicably, an occasional, shallow moan from the engine, as if it were gasping for air. Atmospheric pressure is only an inch of mercury, less than 4 percent of sea-level pressure. Air density and engine power are similarly low. The stratospheric wind is predictably light, from the southwest at 5 kt, and the outside air temperature is minus 61 degrees Celsius.

Neeley says that he has never experienced weather that could not be topped in a U-2, and I am reminded of the classic transmission made by John Glenn during Earth orbit in a Mercury space capsule: "Another thousand feet, and we'll be on top."

Although not required, we remain in contact with Oakland Center while in the Class E airspace that begins at Flight Level 600. The U-2's Mode C transponder, however, can indicate no higher than FL600. When other U-2s are in the area, pilots report their altitudes, and ATC keeps them separated by 5,000 feet and 10 miles.

Our high-flying living quarters are pressurized to 29,500 feet, but 100-percent oxygen supplied only to our faces lowers our physiological altitude to about 8,000 feet. A pressurization-system failure would cause our suits to instantly inflate to maintain a pressure altitude of 35,000 feet, and the flow of pure oxygen would provide a physiological altitude of 10,000 feet.

The forward and aft cockpits are configured almost identically. A significant difference is the down-looking periscope/driftmeter in the center of the forward instrument panel. It is used to precisely track over specific ground points during reconnaissance, something that otherwise would be impossible from high altitude. The forward cockpit also is equipped with a small side-view mirror extending into the air stream. It is used to determine if the U-2 is generating a telltale contrail when over hostile territory.

Considering its 103-foot wingspan and resultant roll dampening, the U-2 maneuvers surprisingly well at altitude; the controls are light and nicely harmonized. Control wheels (not sticks) are used, however, perhaps because aileron forces are heavy at low altitude. A yaw string (like those used on sailplanes) above each canopy silently admonishes those who allow the aircraft to slip or skid when maneuvering. The U-2 is very much a stick-and-rudder airplane, and I discover that slipping can be avoided by leading turn entry and recovery with slight rudder pressure.

When approaching its service ceiling, the U-2's maximum speed is little more than its minimum. This marginal difference between the onset of stall buffet and Mach buffet is known as coffin corner, an area warranting caution. A stall/spin sequence can cause control loss from which recovery might not be possible when so high, and an excessive Mach number can compromise structural integrity. Thankfully, an autopilot with Mach hold is provided.

The U-2 has a fuel capacity of 2,915 gallons of thermally stable jet fuel distributed among four wing tanks. It is unusual to discuss turbine fuel in gallons instead of pounds, but the 1950s-style fuel gauges in the U-2 indicate in gallons. Most of the other flight instruments seem equally antiquated.

I train at 'The Ranch'

Preparation for my high flight began the day before at Beale Air Force Base (a.k.a. The Ranch), which is north of Sacramento, California, and was where German prisoners of war were interned during World War II. It is home to the 9th Reconnaissance Wing, which is responsible for worldwide U-2 operations, including those aircraft based in Cyprus; Italy; Saudi Arabia; and South Korea.

After passing a physical exam (whew!), I took a short, intensive course in high-altitude physiology and use of the pressure suit. The 27-pound Model S1034 "pilot's protective assembly" is manufactured by David Clark (the headset people) and is the same as the one used by astronauts during shuttle launch and reentry.

After being measured for my $150,000 spacesuit, I spent an hour in the egress trainer. It provided no comfort to learn that pulling up mightily on the handle between my legs would activate the ejection seat at any altitude or airspeed. When the handle is pulled, the control wheels go fully forward, explosives dispose of the canopy, cables attached to spurs on your boots pull your feet aft, and you are rocketed into space. You could then free fall in your inflated pressure suit for 54,000 feet or more. I was told that "the parachute opens automatically at 16,500 feet, or you get a refund."

I later donned a harness and virtual-reality goggles to practice steering a parachute to landing. After lunch, a crew assisted me into a pressure suit in preparation for my visit to the altitude chamber. There I became reacquainted with the effects of hypoxia and was subjected to a sudden decompression that elevated the chamber to 73,000 feet. The pressure suit inflated as advertised and just as suddenly I became the Michelin man. I was told that it is possible to fly the U-2 while puffed up but that it is difficult.

A beaker of water in the chamber boiled furiously to demonstrate what would happen to my blood if I were exposed without protection to ambient pressure above 63,000 feet.

After a thorough preflight briefing the next morning, Neeley and I put on long johns and UCDs (urinary collection devices), were assisted into our pressure suits, performed a leak check (both kinds), and settled into a pair of reclining lounge chairs for an hour of breathing pure oxygen. This displaces nitrogen in the blood to prevent decompression sickness (the bends) that could occur during ascent.

During this "pre-breathing," I felt as though I were in a Ziploc bag-style cocoon and anticipated the possibility of claustrophobia. There was none, and I soon became comfortably acclimatized to my confinement.

We were in the aircraft an hour later. Preflight checks completed and engine started, we taxied to Beale's 12,000-foot-long runway. The single main landing gear is not steerable, differential braking is unavailable, and the dual tailwheels move only 6 degrees in each direction, so it takes a lot of concrete to maneuver on the ground. Turn radius is 189 feet, and I had to lead with full rudder in anticipation of all turns.

We taxied into position and came to a halt so that personnel could remove the safety pins from the outrigger wheels (called pogos) that prevent one wing tip or the other from scraping the ground. Lt. Col. Greg "Spanky" Barber, another U-2 pilot, circled the aircraft in a mobile command vehicle to give the aircraft a final exterior check.

I knew that the U-2 is overpowered at sea level. It has to be for its engine, normally aspirated like every other turbine engine, to have enough power remaining to climb above 70,000 feet. Also, we weighed only 24,000 pounds (maximum allowable is 41,000 pounds) and were departing into a brisk headwind. Such knowledge did not prepare me for what followed.

The throttle was fully advanced and would remain that way until the beginning of descent. The 17,000 pounds of thrust made it feel as though I had been shot from a cannon. Within two to three seconds and 400 feet of takeoff roll, the wings flexed, the pogos fell away, and we entered a nose-up attitude of almost 45 degrees at a best-angle-of-climb airspeed of 100 kt. Initial climb rate was 9,000 fpm.

We were still over the runway and through 10,000 feet less than 90 seconds from brake release. One need not worry about a flameout after takeoff in a U-2. There either is enough runway to land straight ahead or enough altitude (only 1,000 feet is needed) to circle the airport for a dead-stick approach and landing.

The bicycle landing gear creates little drag and has no limiting airspeed, so there was no rush to tuck away the wheels. (The landing gear is not retracted at all when in the traffic pattern shooting touch and goes.)

We passed through 30,000 feet five minutes after liftoff and climb rate steadily decreased until above 70,000 feet, when further climb occurred only as the result of fuel burn.

On final approach

Dragon Lady is still drifting toward the upper limits of the atmosphere at 100 to 200 fpm and will continue to do so until it is time to descend. It spends little of its life at a given altitude. Descent begins by retarding the throttle to idle and lowering the landing gear. We raise the spoilers, deploy the speed brakes (one on each side of the aft fuselage), and engage the gust alleviation system. This raises both ailerons 7.5 degrees above their normal neutral point and deflects the wing flaps 6.5 degrees upward. This helps to unload the wings and protect the airframe during possible turbulence in the lower atmosphere.

Gust protection is needed because the Dragon Lady is like a China doll; she cannot withstand heavy gust and maneuvering loads. Strength would have required a heavier structure, and the U-2's designer, Clarence "Kelly" Johnson, shaved as much weight as possible-which is why there are only two landing gear legs instead of three.. Every pound saved resulted in a 10-foot increase in ceiling.

With everything possible hanging and extended, the U-2 shows little desire to go down. It will take 40 minutes to descend to traffic pattern altitude but we needed only half that time climbing to altitude.

During this normal descent, the U-2 covers 37 nm for each 10,000 of altitude lost. When clean and at the best glide speed of 109 kt, it has a glide ratio of 28:1. It is difficult to imagine ever being beyond glide range of a suitable airport except when over large bodies of water or hostile territory. Because there is only one fuel quantity gauge, and it shows only the total remaining, it is difficult to know whether fuel is distributed evenly, which is important when landing a U-2. A low-altitude stall is performed to determine which is the heavier wing, and some fuel is then transferred from it to the other.

We are on final approach with flaps at 35 degrees (maximum is 50 degrees) in a slightly nose-down attitude. The U-2 is flown with a heavy hand when slow, while being careful not to overcontrol. Speed over the threshold is only 1.1 VSO (75 kt), very close to stall. More speed would result in excessive floating.

I peripherally see Barber accelerating the 140-mph, stock Chevrolet Camaro along the runway as he joins in tight formation with our landing aircraft. I hear him on the radio calling out our height (standard practice for all U-2 landings). The U-2 must be close to normal touchdown attitude at a height of one foot before the control wheel is brought firmly aft to stall the wings and plant the tailwheels on the concrete. The feet remain active on the pedals, during which time it is necessary to work diligently to keep the wings level. A roll spoiler on each wing lends a helping hand when its respective aileron is raised more than 13 degrees.

The aircraft comes to rest, a wing tip falls to the ground, and crewmen appear to reattach the pogos for taxiing.

Landing a U-2 is notoriously challenging, especially for those who have never flown taildraggers or sailplanes. It can be like dancing with a lady or wrestling a dragon, depending on wind and runway conditions. Maximum allowable crosswind is 15 kt.

The U-2 was first flown by Tony Levier in August 1955, at Groom Lake (Area 51), Nevada. The aircraft was then known as Article 341, an attempt by the Central Intelligence Agency to disguise the secret nature of its project. Current U-2s are 40 percent larger and much more powerful than the one in which Francis Gary Powers was downed by a missile over the Soviet Union on May 1, 1960.

The Soviets referred to the U-2 as the "Black Lady of Espionage" because of its spy missions and mystique. The age of its design, however, belies the sophistication of the sensing technology carried within. During U.S. involvement in Kosovo, for example, U-2s gathered and forwarded data via satellite to Intelligence at Beale AFB for instant analysis. The results were sent via satellite to battle commanders, who decided whether attack aircraft should be sent to the target. In one case, U-2 sensors detected enemy aircraft parked on a dirt road and camouflaged by thick, overhanging trees. Only a few minutes elapsed between detection and destruction. No other nation has this capability.

The U-2 long ago outlived predictions of its demise. It also survived its heir apparent, the Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird. The fleet of 37 aircraft is budgeted to operate for another 20 years, but this could be affected by the evolution and effectiveness of unmanned aircraft.

After returning to Earth (physically and emotionally), I am escorted to the Heritage Room where 20 U-2 pilots join to share in the spirited celebration of my high flight. Many of them are involved in general aviation and some have their own aircraft.

The walls of this watering hole are replete with fascinating memorabilia about U-2 operations and history. Several plaques proudly list all who have ever soloed Dragon Lady. This group of 670 forms an elite and unusually close-knit cadre of dedicated airmen.

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January 21, 2006

Mobile box office

Here's an interesting idea for you movie-goers:


Via Lileks.

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January 18, 2006

Virtual Big Apple

Here's a site where you can take several different virtual tours of New York City.

Virtual NYC

Via A Welsh View.

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Just stop paying

A tax you don't have to pay? Here's the start of an article from (with my emphasis). It's worth reading the whole thing.

A third federal Court of Appeals has struck down the federal tax on long-distance telephone service (National Railroad Passenger Corporation (.pdf) , DC Circuit, No. 04-5421) bringing $9 billion in potential tax refunds for phone users that much closer to reality. The IRS now is zero-for-ten in these cases, with courts ordering more than $12 million of refunds in them, to big companies such as OfficeMax, Amtrak, and Honeywell International.

What's new now is that individuals are beginning to catch on and stop paying the tax. And phone companies are removing the tax from phone bills upon customer request.

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January 09, 2006

I'd like to try this one

Volkswagen's GX3.

VW Vortex

It looks like it would be a kick to drive.

VW Vortex

Via DiClerico.

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January 06, 2006

Top 10

Here's a pretty good collection: the Top 10 Free Time Wasting Sites on the Net at Worth a look.

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January 03, 2006



Architects and engineers compete to see whose team can build the most spectacular structure using little more than cans of food at Canstruction, the 13th annual NYC Design and Build competition in New York. The exhibit at New York Design Center is open to the public. At the end of the competition on 23 November 2005, the 130,000 cans that are part of the exhibit will be given to the Food Bank of New York City.

Canstruction is a national charity and has similar competitions each year in over 66 cities throughout the United States and Canada. For more information, visit

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December 27, 2005

Damn interesting

CodeWritinFool sends a set of links to a site named with the comment, "This site is loaded, but here are some good ones."

history of speech synthesis
fascinating story about launch codes
phantom time

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December 19, 2005


At Lancaster University in the UK; click the image for the full write-up.

PacLanResearchers in the Department of Communication Systems, based in InfoLab21, have been developing a new game which can be played by up to five players on mobile phones.

Unlike traditional mobile phone games, this game takes place in real space as well as on a mobile phone screen. Called Pac-Lan, in homage to the arcade classic Pacman, the game enables players to keep track of one another's position through images on their mobile phones as they chase one another round campus.

Dr Paul Coulton, head of mobile game development at Lancaster University, said: "This game is using a traditional mobile phone game in a different way by mixing the real and virtual world. Players move around in real space interacting with one another, their environment and their mobile phone."

Via Dave Barry

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December 14, 2005

Fun with hemi's

As in Chrysler's famous engine with the hemispherical combustion chambers.

This item comes from -- where they also show another V-8 snowblower:

Think you’re too big to ride a tricycle? What if that tricycle has a 4-foot-tall tire in front, regulation-sized racing slicks in back, a Dodge Viper bucket seat, and a 5.7-liter HEMI V-8 engine? How’d you like to take that baby for a spin around the block?

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December 11, 2005


Steve sends a message that's "a forward from my (retired Navy Master Chief) father." It's about an amazing mishap in an F-15D. (Click the image for a larger view.) There's a story to go along with these images below.

I have some reservations about the story, though. Granting that it happened, I'm not sure that the text matches the images. For example, why does the story talk about an arresting hook and emergency recovery net for a landing that appears to have been made on land? You don't find tailhooks on airstrips, do you?

In any event, I found quite a few pages with the same (or a similar) story when I googled for this. One ot them appears below, since it contains more detail than the text Steve's dad sent him.

On May 1st. 1983, a simulated dogfight training took place between two F-15D's and four A-4N Skyhawks over the skies of the Negev. The F-15D (# 957, nicknamed 'Markia Shchakim', 5 killmarks) was used for the conversion of a new pilot in the squadron. Here is the description of the event as described in "Pressure suit":

At some point I collided with one of the Skyhawks, at first I didn't realize it. I felt a big strike, and I thought we passed through the jet stream of one of the other aircraft. Before I could react, I saw the big fire ball created by the explosion of the Skyhawk. The radio started to deliver calls saying that the Skyhawk pilot has ejected, and I understood that the fire ball was the skyhawk, that exploded, and the pilot was ejected automatically.

There was a tremendous fuel stream going out of the wing, and I understood it was badly damaged. The aircraft flew without control in a strange spiral. I re-connected the electric control to the control surfaces, and slowly gained control on the aircraft until I was straight and level again. It was clear to me that I had to eject. When I gained control I said : "Hey, wait, don't eject yet!". No warning light was on and the navigation computer worked as usual; I just needed a warning light in my panel to indicate that I missed a wing..." The instructor ordered me to eject. The wing is a fuel tank, and the fuel indicator showed 0.000 so I assumed that the jet stream sucked all the fuel out of the other tanks. However, I remembered that the valves operate only in one direction, so that I might have enough fuel to get to the nearest airfield and land.

I worked like a machine, wasn't scared and didn't worry. All I knew was as long as the sucker flies, I'm gonna stay inside. I started to decrease the airspeed, but at that point one wing was not enough. So I went into a spin down and to the right. A second before I decided to eject, I pushed the throttle and lit the afterburner. I gained speed and thus got control of the aircraft again. Next thing I did was lowering the arresting hook. A few seconds later I touched the runway at 260 knots, about twice the recommended speed, and called the tower to erect the emergency recovery net. The hook was torn away from the fuselage because of the high speed, but I managed to stop 10 meters before the net.

I turned back to shake the hand of my instructor, who urged me to eject, and then I saw it for the first time - no wing!

The IAF (Israeli Air Force) contacted McDonnel Douglas and asked for information about possibility to land an F-15 with one wing . MD replied that this is aerodynamically impossible, as confirmed by computer simulations... Then they received the photo....

After two months the same F-15 got a new wing and returned to action. McDonnel Douglas attributes the saving of this aircraft to the amount of lift generated by the engine intake/body and "A Hell of a good Pilot"

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November 18, 2005

Sea story

Steve forwards a story by R.C. Corbeille, a retired US Navy captain with the comment, "Long, but interesting reading."

It was Sunday afternoon, early in the month of August, 1968 when USS Forrestal (CVA-59) was making her way through the Western Mediterranean during the first days of a 7-month cruise.

I was Officer of the Deck (OOD) on the 1200-1600 bridge watch, there were no ship's evolutions ongoing, and things looked like a "ho-hum" Sunday afternoon at sea. We were hosting the prospective Commanding Officer of USS Independence and our CO had gone with him to the Captain's In-Port Cabin. Prior to departing the bridge the CO and I had conversed briefly and one of the subjects breeched was that we had been in the Mediterranean for more than a week now and we had not yet seen one of those pesky Russian trawlers. Our Navy had come to hope not to see one because they had a way of getting in the way whenever we had things to do, such as flight operations, or underway replenishment. This lack of encounter was about to change.

At about 1500 I called the CO to advise him that we had picked up an unidentified surface contact on radar, range 22,000 yards (11 nautical miles). It appeared to be on our reciprocal course at a speed of 8 knots and in the absence of any changes, the closest point of approach (CPA) would be 6,000 yards on our port beam. "Very Well" and the customary "Thanks, Frenchy" constituted the CO's response.

I had no more than hung up the phone when the contact changed course. I could identify 2 sticks over the horizon, looking through the 7 x 50 OOD standard equipment Bausch & Lomb's, but could make out nothing of the vessel. However, the two sticks bore a strong resemblance to the pictures we had on the bridge of known trawlers that had frequented these waters. I called the captain back to advise him that the unidentified contact had indeed made a 90-degree course change, was still doing 8 knots, and his present course/speed would take him across our bow at 6,000 yards (3 miles). We were doing 20 knots, on some kind of a "sustained speed exercise" for the engineers, and preferred to alter neither course nor speed unless absolutely necessary. I advised the captain of my suspicions concerning the vessel's identity and advised him that I had ordered the Intelligence sighting team to the bridge. It being a Sunday stand down with little to occupy the idle time, we soon had the entire Intelligence staff scattered about on the bridge and the signal bridge, with a few photo types thrown in.

The contact was still hull-down over the horizon but the visible masts more and more took on the resemblance of our Russian trawler pictures. I also advised the captain that, in accordance with the International Rules of the Road, Forrestal was the privileged vessel; the vessel crossing our bow was coming from our port side and was therefore the "Burdened" vessel. In accordance with the Rules, the privileged vessel is REQUIRED to maintain course and speed. The Burdened vessel is responsible for maneuvering as necessary to avoid collision. The Captain said "Very Well, Call me back if he does anything funny, and let me know what the intelligence folks come up with."

Only moments later I was back on the phone, advising the Captain that we had positive ID on a Russian ELINT (Electronics Intelligence) trawler, and he had indeed done something "funny2" -- he had reached our intended track at a range of 6,000 yards, and had then executed another 90-degree turn to port; he was now on the same course as Forrestal, dead ahead, at speed 8 knots. So we had a 12-kt speed advantage, and 3 miles to contact. That meant that in 15 minutes one or the other of us must turn or he, the Russian trawler, would get run over. I advised the captain that in accordance with the International Rules, he was burdened when he came in from our port bow. Now that we are on a course to overtake him, he would like us to believe that Forrestal, as the overtaking vessel, is the newly ordained BURDENED vessel. I reminded the captain of another clause in the rules that says once a vessel is burdened, it may not maneuver to shift the burden to the other vessel. He stays burdened until danger of collision is past. The captain agreed with my assessment and asked what I recommended we do. I recommended we hold course and speed until "EXTREMIS" -­ that sketchy point at which somebody has to do something or there's going to be a crunch, then order up "All Back Emergency Full", "Right Full Rudder", and we would miss him. I had identified that point as 400 yards astern but threw in 100 yards for cushion.

The captain once more came back with his cheerful "Very Well" and added "if he's still there at 1,000 yards, give me a call back."

"AYE AYE, Sir!"

Now we've eaten up about 1/3 of our cushion and the squawk box came to life. "Bridge, Flag Bridge"... "When does Forrestal intend to maneuver to avoid that Privileged vessel ahead?" There was no race by other members of the bridge team to answer that one, so I got it myself. "Flag Bridge, Bridge -- This is the Officer of the Deck speaking. That vessel ahead is not privileged -­ he approached from our port side, therefore is the burdened vessel, and he can no longer maneuver to shift his burden to Forrestal."

"Flag Bridge Aye" I could envision some hot shot flag watch officer digging the Admiral's shoe out of his ass, and smiled inwardly. I didn't hear the Admiral's voice, but I knew he was watching from his favorite perch.

Somewhere about then I had the signal gang close up "Uniform" on both halyards ­- U2 is the international signal that says "you are standing into danger". Then our navigator got into it. First he told me I was going to have to turn the ship and he was working on our new course. Since he was a commander and I was a lieutenant, I explained as tactfully as I could that we were not going to turn, leastways not to a pre-planned course. We were the privileged vessel, and as such, were REQUIRED to hold course and speed. Next thing I heard from him was "Mr. Corbeille, I'm ordering you to turn this ship." With no attempt at tact, I advised him "Commander, you cannot order me to turn this ship. If you believe the ship to be sufficiently endangered, you, as Navigator, can summarily relieve me as OOD. Then you can turn left, turn right, or come dead in the water. But you cannot order me to turn. Do you want to relieve me?" Rather truculently, he then asked if the Captain knows about all this. I told him yes indeed, and at contact range of 1,000 yards, I was to notify the Captain again. "You better call him again -­ right now!"

"No Sir, we still have a few hundred yards to go."

At this stage, I don't recall the exact time, the bridge relief crew was coming on deck, but no one was ready to be relieved. I spied my relief OOD waiting in the wings and he wanted nothing more than to stay out of the way. Admittedly, I got a bit nervous, and I called the captain back when the trawler was 1,100 yards ahead. His only response was "I'm on my way up". He arrived momentarily with the PCO of Independence following in his wake. He hopped up in his chair, says "Boy, he is pretty close, isn't he!" Then he asked "and when do you plan to make your big move?" I told him that if it closes to 500 yards, we can order up All Back Emergency Full, Right Full Rudder, and we will miss him. He asked: Is that what the book says? I told him "No Sir, The book says 400 yards, but I was leaving in a little cushion. He said "We need only to maneuver in extremis to MINIMIZE DAMAGE". That is a slight departure from international rules, but was our standing order, arrived at specifically to contend with harassment vessels. This is kind of a delicate point here because International Rules of the Road says the "privileged vessel must maneuver when in extremis to avoid collision".

U.S.S.R. (Soviet Union) was not signatory to the International Rules of the Road, therefore her vessels were not bound by them. It must be pointed out that Russian ships, merchantmen and men-of-war alike, followed the international rules of the road anyway, and knew them well enough to "play chicken" with U.S. ships, mostly to our embarrassment. That was a game that our Navy had long since tired of, hence the new guidance to maneuver only in extremis to minimize damage. Naturally, it behooved one to be absolutely certain that he was absolutely right, if he were going to take Navy man-of-war down to the wire in a potential collision situation. I'm sure there are readers who have more background concerning our maneuvering instructions, but we believed we understood them perfectly. I still believe that we did.

Having thus indicated his intentions, the Captain then asked "So how close can we take her?" I told him 400 yards would provide a grazing situation, and then ordered the engine room to stand by for Emergency Backing Bells. We were still closing and had reached the 500-yard mark when the trawler put in left full rudder.

His rudder was not the size of a barn door ­- it had to have looked like the side of the barn itself! That guy turned 90 degrees left in a heartbeat!

We never flinched, never wavered, and the trawler passed close aboard to port ­- so close, if fact, that the hull was not visible alongside our flight deck. All that was visible from the vantage point of our bridge were the two masts as they went rapidly down our port beam. Then we launched a helo for some photo work and a big sigh of relief went up from the bridge. The navigator started lobbying for us to file a harassment report, but since we had altered neither course nor speed to accommodate the trawler, it was hard to make a case for harassment. I wanted to make out a harassment report on the navigator, but the CO calmed me down on that score.

The Prospective Commanding Officer (PCO) of Independence, bless his soul, took in the whole affair after arriving on the bridge with our Captain, and never interjected one word. When it was all over, he moved directly in front of me and said, loud enough for almost everybody on the bridge to hear, "No one could have done better." Our CO joined right in and said "Frenchy, you handled that perfectly". At that point I realized I wasn't going to be a lieutenant forever, my advice to the Captain had been sound, and I knew our Captain appreciated it.

My breathing gradually returned to normal. For his part, Captain Hill, for that, as I recall, was his name, went on to become CO USS Independence. He assumed command while anchored in some Sicilian Bay, and when Independence stood out to sea "under new management", there was a Russian ELINT trawler, just outside territorial waters, making slight way on Independence's intended track.

A friend serving on that fine vessel told me that the new CO's order to CIC was "Combat, give me a collision course on that trawler at 30 knots!" I heard the same refrain from several other people and I believe it to be what happened.

For our part, we spent the remainder of our cruise unhampered in any way by any Russian flagged ship. We continued to see an occasional trawler, but when we came into the wind to launch and recover aircraft, they vanished as if by magic. The word seemed to have leaked out that this carrier has an attitude problem ­- she'll run right over you! And the Chief Engineer was happy because he got his uninterrupted 4-hour sustained speed run at 20 knots.

Life was not the same for me after that. Our captain made me "Command Duty Officer Underway". I was already the General Quarters OOD and Sea and Anchor Detail OOD, so I wasn't sure what this new designation would lead to. I soon learned that I was to be on the bridge whenever Forrestal was in formation with other major combatants, (destroyers didn't count, but cruisers did), and that I was to provide training to all prospective Command Duty Officers. Anytime there was underway replenishment, there was a "formation", so I got to spend a lot of valuable time on the bridge, learning all I could absorb.

Our great captain, nameless up to now, was Robert Bemus Baldwin, born in Bismarck, North Dakota. He was promoted to RADM upon leaving Forrestal, and the last time I spoke with him he was Vice Admiral Baldwin, COMNAVAIRPAC. I believe he lives in or near San Diego, and remains the most admired man of my 30-plus year Navy career.


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November 16, 2005



PXN8 is a web-based photo editor (and with features to integrate it with Flickr, if you use that).

Via A Welsh View.

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November 04, 2005

The sleep cycle

Here's an interesting post at Glen Rhodes' blog about how much - and how often - to sleep.

Ok, I've been talking to people for a long time about the fact that you can get by on 6 or even 4.5 hours of sleep per day without question. The secret is NOT the amount of sleep, but rather the number itself; a multiple of 90 minutes will change your life.

1.5 hours
3 hours
4.5 hours
6 hours
7.5 hours

Those are the sleep quantities that you should aim to get, and those are what your body will naturally take, removing the alarm clock. Guaranteed. Go to sleep without an alarm clock, and watch what times you naturally wake up at. It will be a multiple of 90 minutes from when you first went to bed. This 90 minutes is known as a sleep cycle, and it's how I live my life.

Via A Welsh View.

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October 28, 2005

Pink dot illusion

If your eyes follow the movement of the rotating pink dot, you will only see one color, pink.

If you stare at the black + in the center, the moving dot will turn to green.

Now, concentrate on the black + in the center of the picture. After a short period of time, all the pink dots will slowly disappear and you will see only a green dot rotating.

There really is no green dot and the pink ones really don't disappear.


A tip o' the hat to Lou.

A little googling found this page, which seems to be the source of this illusion. It's a recent addition to Michael Bach's collection of illusions.

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October 27, 2005

The Gateway Arch at 40

The Arch in St. Louis was completed on October 28, 1965. This photo shows the keystone section being hoisted into place.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch has a collection of articles, profiles and photos here.


Historical note: for those not familiar with St. Louis, the white, domed building centered below the arch is the courthouse where the Dred Scott case was tried.

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October 21, 2005

My outsourced life

An article in Esquire about how one person outsourced his routine tasks, after reading Tom Friedman's book The World Is Flat.

I don't have a corporation; I don't even have an up-to-date business card. I'm a writer and editor working from home, usually in my boxer shorts or, if I'm feeling formal, my penguin-themed pajama bottoms. Then again, I think, why should Fortune 500 firms have all the fun? Why can't I join in on the biggest business trend of the new century? Why can't I outsource my low-end tasks? Why can't I outsource my life?

The next day I email Brickwork, one of the companies Friedman mentions in his book. Brickwork — based in Bangalore, India — offers "remote executive assistants," mostly to financial firms and health-care companies that want data processed. I explain that I'd like to hire someone to help with Esquire-related tasks — doing research, formatting memos, like that. The company's CEO, Vivek Kulkarni, responds: "It would be a great pleasure to be talking to a person of your stature." Already I'm liking this. I've never had stature before. In America, I barely command respect from a Bennigan's maître d', so it's nice to know that in India I have stature.

Via DiClerico.

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October 15, 2005

Weekend reading 7

Here are a few more online articles and posts I've come across recently.

The Apple Polishers is an article in Slate by Jack Shafer:

I don't hate Apple. I don't even hate Apple-lovers. I do, however, possess deep odium for the legions of Apple polishers in the press corps who salute every shiny gadget the company parades through downtown Cupertino as if they were members of the Supreme Soviet viewing the latest ICBMs at the May Day parade.

It gets even funnier.

Joy is a post at Steven Tucker's blog Dvalin Darkdale. It's a short post, so just go and RTWT.

Via Daithi, whose own post about Steven's was titled "Thanks! I Needed That!".

The Microsoft Protection Racket is John Dvorak's latest column in PC Magazine.

Does Microsoft think it is going to get away with charging real money for any sort of add-on, service, or new product that protects clients against flaws in its own operating system? Does the existence of this not constitute an incredible conflict of interest? Why improve the base code when you can sell "protection"? Is Frank Nitti the new CEO?

Via Lee, who said, "He can be funny if you're in the right mood." I must have been in the right mood; I thought it was pretty funny.

And if you're interested in another take on this topic, see the Editor's Corner section of this W2Knews article. (It's not too late to switch.)

Peggy Noonan wrote a great column a couple of weeks ago: Government takes too much authority and not enough responsibility.

And they did things like this: The day before hurricane Rita hit Texas, last Friday, I saw on TV something that disturbed me. It was not the usual scene of crashing waves and hardy reporters being blown sideways by wind gusts. It was a fat Texas guy swimming in the waves off Galveston. He'd apparently decided the high surf was a good thing to jump into, so he went for a prehurricane swim. Two cops saw him, waded into the surf and arrested him. When I saw it the guy was standing there in orange trunks being astonished as the cops put handcuffs on him and hauled him away.

I thought: Oh no, this is isn't good. This is authority, not responsibility.

You'd have to be crazy, in my judgment, to decide you were going to go swim in the ocean as a hurricane comes. But in the America where I grew up, you were allowed to be crazy. You had the right. Sometimes you were crazy and survived whatever you did. Sometimes you didn't, and afterwards everyone said, "He was crazy."

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October 04, 2005

The Complete Calvin & Hobbes

Calvin & Hobbes

With Tuesday's release of "The Complete Calvin and Hobbes," Bill Watterson is "speaking" more than he has in years. That's because the 1,456-page collection includes a 13-page introduction by the reclusive cartoonist, whose wildly popular comic appeared in more than 2,400 newspapers at the end of its 1985-1996 run.

From Editor & Publisher.

Click the image to see Amazon's listing.

Posted by joke du jour at 06:32 PM | Comments (0)


Microsoft publishes this amusing parent's primer to computer slang. Here's a snippet:

Key points for interpreting leetspeek
Numbers are often used as letters. The term "leet" could be written as "1337," with "1" replacing the letter L, "3" posing as a backwards letter E, and "7" resembling the letter T. Others include "8" replacing the letter B, "9" used as a G, "0" (zero) in lieu of O, and so on.
Non-alphabet characters can be used to replace the letters they resemble. For example, "5" or even "$" can replace the letter S. Applying this style, the word "leetspeek" can be written as "133t5p33k" or even "!337$p34k," with "4" replacing the letter A.
Letters can be substituted for other letters that may sound alike. Using "Z" for a final letter S, and "X" for words ending in the letters C or K is common. For example, leetspeekers might refer to their computer "5x1llz" (skills).
Rules of grammar are rarely obeyed. Some leetspeekers will capitalize every letter except for vowels (LiKe THiS) and otherwise reject conventional English style and grammar, or drop vowels from words (such as converting very to "vry").

Posted by joke du jour at 06:30 PM | Comments (0)

October 03, 2005

Harriet Miers's blog


Click the image to visit Harriet Miers's blog!!!

I don't know who's running this site.

via Althouse.

Posted by joke du jour at 06:25 PM | Comments (0)

September 30, 2005

Dynamic sculpture

Click the image to visit the site.

Piss sculpture
The idea is disarmingly simple. Two bronze sculptures pee into their oddly-shaped enclosure.

While they are peeing, the two figures move realistically. An electric mechanism driven by a couple of microproccesors swivels the upper part of the body, while the penis goes up and down. The stream of water writes quotes from famous Prague residents.

Visitor can interupt them by sending SMS message from mobile phone to a number, displayed next to the sculptures. The living statue then ‘writes’ the text of the message, before carrying on as before.

Posted by joke du jour at 05:04 AM | Comments (1)

September 27, 2005


Steve sends a link to this interesting article.

Visualizing the Future: Dermal Nanotech Display

This nanotech dermal display is a designer concept, based on real nanoscience principles. Seattle-based designer Gina Miller, working together with nanotech populariser Robert A. Freitas Jr., describes the concept:

In his book Nanomedicine, Volume I: Basic Capabilities [available on the web at], Robert A. Freitas Jr. describes [in section (page 204)] a "programmable dermal display" in which a population of about 3 billion display pixel robots would be permanently implanted a fraction of a mm under the surface of the skin, covering a rectangle 6 cm x 5 cm on the back of the hand. Photons emitted by these pixel bots would produce an image on the surface of the skin. This pixelbot array could be programmed to form any of many thousands of displays. Each display would be capable of two functions: (1) presenting to the user data received from the large population of medical bots that roam the user's body; (2) conveying instructions from the user to that same large population of bots. The display could be activated or deactivated by finger tapping on the skin.

The 3-minute animation of dermal display can be seen here.


Posted by joke du jour at 07:02 PM | Comments (0)

September 22, 2005

Terror in the Skies: the book

Terror in the Skies

Annie Jacobsen, the woman who wrote the "Terror in the Skies" articles for WomensWallStreet has published a book with that title.

Posted by joke du jour at 07:10 PM | Comments (0)

September 09, 2005

Letter from New Orleans

A little common sense from New Orleans. This comes from Chris Rose of the Times-Picayune. Here's a snippet.

Dear America,

I suppose we should introduce ourselves: We're South Louisiana.

We have arrived on your doorstep on short notice and we apologize for that, but we never were much for waiting around for invitations. We're not much on formalities like that.

And we might be staying around your town for a while, enrolling in your schools and looking for jobs, so we wanted to tell you a few things about us. We know you didn't ask for this and neither did we, so we're just going to have to make the best of it.

First of all, we thank you. For your money, your water, your food, your prayers, your boats and buses and the men and women of your National Guards, fire departments, hospitals and everyone else who has come to our rescue.

We're a fiercely proud and independent people, and we don't cotton much to outside interference, but we're not ashamed to accept help when we need it. And right now, we need it.

Just don't get carried away. For instance, once we get around to fishing again, don't try to tell us what kind of lures work best in your waters. We're not going to listen. We're stubborn that way.

Via The Agitator.

Posted by joke du jour at 06:40 PM | Comments (0)

August 29, 2005


Doug Petch writes about a new service called Pandora, put together by the Music Genome Project.

The excellent music service I first mentioned here has gone live for everyone. And they're offering 10 hours of free use so that you can see for yourself that it's worth the subscription fee. So what are you waiting for? Head on over to Pandora and give it a test drive.

It sounds pretty interesting but I haven't tried it yet.

Posted by joke du jour at 08:13 PM | Comments (0)

August 05, 2005


Click the image to check out Interestingness at Flickr.

Bay Bridge sunrise

Don't miss the calendars. The image above came from July 25.

Posted by joke du jour at 03:22 AM | Comments (0)

August 01, 2005

Stipple portraits


If you've ever wondered where the Wall Street Journal gets the stippled portraits it publishes, it turns out they're drawn by a woman named Noli Novak, who does them dot by dot. Click the link to visit her site.

Via DiClerico.

Posted by joke du jour at 06:47 AM | Comments (0)

July 28, 2005

Animated face

Here's a time-waster... Click the image to visit the site.


Posted by joke du jour at 09:50 PM | Comments (0)

July 27, 2005

Windy City skyline

This is the first image in a 5-image-show from the Chicago Sun-Times. It's the proposed Fordham Spire, a 2000-foot building designed by Santiago Calatrava for downtown Chicago.


Donald Trump doesn't like it. Is that alone reason enough to build it?

Posted by joke du jour at 06:38 PM | Comments (0)

July 21, 2005

Etch-a-Sketch art

The image below links to a gallery of portraits made on an Etch-a-Sketch.

Mayberry RFD

This has been around awhile, but was news to me.

Posted by joke du jour at 07:00 PM | Comments (0)

July 18, 2005

What will you look like?

Check out this T-Mobile site in the UK by clicking on the image.

It's not the age - it's the mileage.

Posted by joke du jour at 06:56 PM | Comments (0)

July 16, 2005

Crash this trailer

Here's a site that lets you edit your own image into the trailer for the movie Wedding Crashers.


Interestingly, Sen. John McCain (spit) makes a 10-second appearance in this film.

Posted by joke du jour at 03:54 PM | Comments (0)

July 12, 2005

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

Disney's making a film of this C.S. Lewis novel and it's scheduled for release this coming December. Click the image to visit the movie site to see a trailer.


Our contributor tells me that the earlier movie made of this book was a little lame.

Posted by joke du jour at 06:56 PM | Comments (0)

July 11, 2005

World browsing

Google Earth is a free download from Google that has a lot of cool features.

Google Earth

I don't have much experience with it, but CodeWritinFool sent me some nice images he'd pulled up with it. They looked great.

The Lomographic Society International hosts a collection of images from cities around the world. Here's someone's image of San Xavier del Bac in Tucson:
The White Dove

Posted by joke du jour at 05:56 PM | Comments (0)

July 09, 2005


A collection of 55 illusions and visual phenomena, many done in Quicktime or Flash. Here's an example:


Posted by joke du jour at 02:51 PM | Comments (0)

June 27, 2005

Google song

A funny song about Google based on The Temptations' My Girl. The execution's not quite up to the concept, but it's still pretty funny.

Via A Welsh View.

Posted by joke du jour at 06:45 PM | Comments (0)

June 14, 2005

3185 illustrations complete; 33,480 remaining

And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters.

Genesis 1:6

From The Flaming Fire Illustrated Bible, where they're collaborating to illustrate every verse.

Via Althouse.

Posted by joke du jour at 06:05 PM | Comments (0)

June 11, 2005

Weekend Reading 6

There's No Place Like Home - What David Asman learned from his wife's month in the British medical system.

Court deals blow to Canada’s public healthcare - The Financial Times writes about a recent decision by the Supreme Court of Canada.

Canada's Supreme Court dropped a political bombshell on Thursday by ruling that a Quebec chemicals salesman is entitled to seek private health insurance to pay for a hip replacement operation, even though such coverage is forbidden under the public healthcare system.
Via Tom Hanna, who aptly titles his post: Canadians gain right US citizens take for granted.

And as a follow-up to the previous link, Nurses protest against health-care ruling

ST-HYACINTHE, QUE. – About 500 Quebec nurses demonstrated in St-Hyacinthe, Friday, to protest against Thursday's Supreme Court ruling that opens the door to private health care in the province. The nurses say allowing a private health-care system is dangerous, and they want Premier Jean Charest to do everything in his power to avoid it. Michèle Boisclair is the vice-president of the Quebec Federation of Nurses. She says a private health-care system won't reduce waiting lists in the public sector.

"They're [going to] drain our nurses," Boisclair says. "They're going to drain our [health-care professionals]. They're going to drain the doctors. So the waiting list is going to stay the same, and only the rich people are going to be able to get [this] care. But you have to be very rich." Boisclair says many Americans have to pay thousands of dollars each year for private health care. She says that will also happen in Quebec if Jean Charest doesn't find a way to override the Supreme Court ruling.

(Also from Tom Rants.)

Posted by joke du jour at 07:02 AM | Comments (2)

May 27, 2005

Weekend reading 5

1. Very spooky. Steven den Beste reports on these odd events.

Anime News Network Reader Murdered (2005-05-21 23:12:07)

ANN would like to offer our sincerest sympathies to the family and friends of of Simon Sek Man Ng (19) and his sister, who were murdered in their home on May 12th. Simon wrote regularly in his online blog about studying Japanese, which he became interested in through anime. His final blog entry helped police arrest his assailant.

2. An imaginary "scandal" - an article in The New Criterion by Theodore Dalrymple. This one is both amusing and thought-provoking.

3. Stop the Masochistic Insanity. Christopher Hitchens nails it once again:

The violent response to the report of "Quranic abuse" isn't about faith, it's about intolerance.
Is that a great title, or what? In the same way that Dave Barry's always saying, "<strange phrase> would be a great name for a rock band," I'll say Stop the Masochistic Insanity would be a great name for a blog.

4. Mindles H. Dreck writes about a market research report at Asymmetric Information. It's not as off-the-wall as it sounds.

In this post, responding to harrumphing about humour in a bond research report, I mentioned a street research report about achieving happiness. Here it is.

5. The end of the European Union? The Dutch and French vote in referenda on joining the European Union in the coming week.

Whatever the French and Dutch decide in their referenda on the European constitution, the European federal project is dying, says Gwyn Prins.

For the first time, fear really stalks the Rue de la Loi in Brussels, headquarters of the European Commission. It is visceral. We know this because of the increasingly hysterical register of the messages in which the commissioners are sending French and Dutch voters preparing (in their referenda on 29 May and 1 June respectively) to vote down the treaty establishing a federal constitution. If you do so, the European Union nomenklatura is saying, you will bring to Europe economic disaster, a return to internecine war or (most tastelessly and least forgivably) another Holocaust. It is ridiculous hyperbole and therefore all the more demanding of explanation. How did it come to this?

6. And in case you're wondering about a "housing bubble", Angry Bear writes that it's due to speculation. But...

Housing "bubbles" typically do not "pop", rather prices deflate slowly in real terms, over several years. Historically real estate prices display strong persistence and are sticky downward. Sellers tend to want a price close to recent sales in their neighborhood, and buyers, sensing prices are declining, will wait for even lower prices.

This means real estate markets do not clear immediately, and what we usually observe is a drop in transaction volumes. That is my expectation for this year: stable prices (maybe declining slightly on the coasts) and declining volumes. Stable or lower prices will halt speculation and increase the supply. And if rates rise further, or lenders become more discerning, demand will also decrease. Either spells bust for the current bubble.

Tip o' the hat to Jane Galt.

Posted by joke du jour at 08:05 PM


Neat service, says CodeWritinFool.

Posted by joke du jour at 08:00 PM

May 23, 2005

75 degrees South a weblog kept by Simon Coggins at Halley Station in the Antarctic. This image of the Southern Lights comes from one of his galleries of photos.

Posted by joke du jour at 08:24 PM

May 20, 2005


A curious blog made up of images of post cards people have sent in. The post cards describe their secrets, which range from the comic to the tragic. Here's an example of the first type (click for a larger image).

Posted by joke du jour at 10:03 PM

Weekend reading 4

It's been a busy week in Lake Wobegon...

1. The Amazing Rise of the Do-It-Yourself Economy is a (free!) article in Fortune.

2. Can 450 economists be wrong? The Cato Institute issued a press release May 11th listing 450 economists who are calling for SS privatization; the list includes 4 Nobel laureates. The folks at Social Security Choice want to know why this is being ignored by the main stream media:

Would it be newsworthy if 450 climatologists signed a joint petition saying that the ozone layer was being depleted? Or, to stay on point, would it be newsworthy if 450 economists jointly agreed that President Bush was WRONG to endorse personal accounts?

3. Hypocrisy Most Holy is the title of a column by Ali Al-Ahmed at (I think it's available to anyone but if not, use the Continue reading link below.)

The Saudi Embassy and other Saudi organizations in Washington have distributed hundreds of thousands of Qurans and many more Muslim books, some that have libeled Christians, Jews and others as pigs and monkeys. In Saudi school curricula, Jews and Christians are considered deviants and eternal enemies. By contrast, Muslim communities in the West are the first to admit that Western countries--especially the U.S.--provide Muslims the strongest freedoms and protections that allow Islam to thrive in the West. Meanwhile Christianity and Judaism, both indigenous to the Middle East, are maligned through systematic hostility by Middle Eastern governments and their religious apparatuses.

The lesson here is simple: If Muslims wish other religions to respect their beliefs and their Holy book, they should lead by example.

4. Are the Saudis armed to self-destruct? Daniel Pipes reviews a soon-to-be-released book by Gerald Posner titled Secrets of the Kingdom. I haven't read the book (obviously) but Pipes' review certainly provides food for thought.

5. A price worth paying? is the question the Economist asks about Sarbanes-Oxley.

The cost of all this is steep. According to one study that has attracted a lot of attention, the net private cost amounts to $1.4 trillion. This astonishing figure comes from a paper by Ivy Xiying Zhang of the William E. Simon Graduate School of Business Administration at the University of Rochester. It is an econometric estimate of “the loss in total market value around the most significant legislative events?—ie, the costs minus the benefits as perceived by the stockmarket as the new rules were enacted. In principle, this ought to reflect all the anticipated costs and benefits, direct and indirect, that impinge on company values. If this number were true, SOX would have to prevent an awful lot of unforeseen losses due to fraud before it could be judged a good buy.

6. And speaking of corporate finance: "The penions crash is here", says George Will.

Hypocrisy Most Holy
Muslims should show some respect to others' religions.

Friday, May 20, 2005 12:01 a.m. EDT

With the revelation that a copy of the Quran may have been desecrated by U.S. military personnel at Guantanamo Bay, Muslims and their governments--including that of Saudi Arabia--reacted angrily. This anger would have been understandable if the U.S. government's adopted policy was to desecrate our Quran. But even before the Newsweek report was discredited, that was never part of the allegations.

As a Muslim, I am able to purchase copies of the Quran in any bookstore in any American city, and study its contents in countless American universities. American museums spend millions to exhibit and celebrate Muslim arts and heritage. On the other hand, my Christian and other non-Muslim brothers and sisters in Saudi Arabia--where I come from--are not even allowed to own a copy of their holy books. Indeed, the Saudi government desecrates and burns Bibles that its security forces confiscate at immigration points into the kingdom or during raids on Christian expatriates worshiping privately.

Soon after Newsweek published an account, later retracted, of an American soldier flushing a copy of the Quran down the toilet, the Saudi government voiced its strenuous disapproval. More specifically, the Saudi Embassy in Washington expressed "great concern" and urged the U.S. to "conduct a quick investigation."
Although considered as holy in Islam and mentioned in the Quran dozens of times, the Bible is banned in Saudi Arabia. This would seem curious to most people because of the fact that to most Muslims, the Bible is a holy book. But when it comes to Saudi Arabia we are not talking about most Muslims, but a tiny minority of hard-liners who constitute the Wahhabi Sect.

The Bible in Saudi Arabia may get a person killed, arrested, or deported. In September 1993, Sadeq Mallallah, 23, was beheaded in Qateef on a charge of apostasy for owning a Bible. The State Department's annual human rights reports detail the arrest and deportation of many Christian worshipers every year. Just days before Crown Prince Abdullah met President Bush last month, two Christian gatherings were stormed in Riyadh. Bibles and crosses were confiscated, and will be incinerated. (The Saudi government does not even spare the Quran from desecration. On Oct. 14, 2004, dozens of Saudi men and women carried copies of the Quran as they protested in support of reformers in the capital, Riyadh. Although they carried the Qurans in part to protect themselves from assault by police, they were charged by hundreds of riot police, who stepped on the books with their shoes, according to one of the protesters.)

As Muslims, we have not been as generous as our Christian and Jewish counterparts in respecting others' holy books and religious symbols. Saudi Arabia bans the importation or the display of crosses, Stars of David or any other religious symbols not approved by the Wahhabi establishment. TV programs that show Christian clergymen, crosses or Stars of David are censored.

The desecration of religious texts and symbols and intolerance of varying religious viewpoints and beliefs have been issues of some controversy inside Saudi Arabia. Ruled by a Wahhabi theocracy, the ruling elite of Saudi Arabia have made it difficult for Christians, Jews, Hindus and others, as well as dissenting sects of Islam, to visibly coexist inside the kingdom.

Another way in which religious and cultural issues are becoming more divisive is the Saudi treatment of Americans who are living in that country: Around 30,000 live and work in various parts of Saudi Arabia. These people are not allowed to celebrate their religious or even secular holidays. These include Christmas and Easter, but also Thanksgiving. All other Gulf states allow non-Islamic holidays to be celebrated.

The Saudi Embassy and other Saudi organizations in Washington have distributed hundreds of thousands of Qurans and many more Muslim books, some that have libeled Christians, Jews and others as pigs and monkeys. In Saudi school curricula, Jews and Christians are considered deviants and eternal enemies. By contrast, Muslim communities in the West are the first to admit that Western countries--especially the U.S.--provide Muslims the strongest freedoms and protections that allow Islam to thrive in the West. Meanwhile Christianity and Judaism, both indigenous to the Middle East, are maligned through systematic hostility by Middle Eastern governments and their religious apparatuses.
The lesson here is simple: If Muslims wish other religions to respect their beliefs and their Holy book, they should lead by example.

Mr. al-Ahmed is director of the Saudi Institute in Washington.

Posted by joke du jour at 10:02 PM | TrackBack

Flash geography quiz

This Flash applet tests you on the locations of the 50 united states.

It's pretty well done, but it's extremely finicky. When you have to drag-n-drop the first state into the middle of a blank continent, it penalizes you if you don't locate it exactly. (Sheesh!)

Posted by joke du jour at 10:00 PM

May 19, 2005

Interesting site

says our contributor. is a mostly-Flash site featuring a collection of photos and travelogue about locations that are mostly in Europe.

Posted by joke du jour at 08:04 PM

May 17, 2005

Eat Your History

The You Can Find Anything On The Web department is rapidly evolving into the You Can Find a Blog For Anything deparment.

And to illustrate the point, here's Eat Your History.

Posted by joke du jour at 05:30 PM

May 14, 2005

Weekend reading 3

Looks like too nice a weekend in most of the US to spend it reading, but just in case you have a little time on your hands.

1. Carnival of Tomorrow: A collection of articles on self-replicating robots, space elevators, the End of Cancer and more.

2. "Flat Earther" challenges the "Chicken Littles": It's a global-warming cage match in the Christian Science Monitor. Fred Singer, atmospheric physicist, responds to the students of Middlebury College.

The students awarded Dr. Singer their Flat Earth Award and he reciprocated by opening nominations for the Chicken Little Award.

3. And here's a counter-intuitive thought: Brain Candy.

Twenty years ago, a political philosopher named James Flynn uncovered a curious fact. Americans—at least, as measured by I.Q. tests—were getting smarter. This fact had been obscured for years, because the people who give I.Q. tests continually recalibrate the scoring system to keep the average at 100. But if you took out the recalibration, Flynn found, I.Q. scores showed a steady upward trajectory, rising by about three points per decade, which means that a person whose I.Q. placed him in the top ten per cent of the American population in 1920 would today fall in the bottom third. Some of that effect, no doubt, is a simple by-product of economic progress: in the surge of prosperity during the middle part of the last century, people in the West became better fed, better educated, and more familiar with things like I.Q. tests. But, even as that wave of change has subsided, test scores have continued to rise—not just in America but all over the developed world. What’s more, the increases have not been confined to children who go to enriched day-care centers and private schools. The middle part of the curve—the people who have supposedly been suffering from a deteriorating public-school system and a steady diet of lowest-common-denominator television and mindless pop music—has increased just as much. What on earth is happening? In the wonderfully entertaining “Everything Bad Is Good for You? (Riverhead; $23.95), Steven Johnson proposes that what is making us smarter is precisely what we thought was making us dumber: popular culture.

Posted by joke du jour at 02:00 PM

May 10, 2005

Beer blogging

Un vaso de cerveza de Pablo - bien fria!In addition to his comedic accomplishments, CodeWritinFool also brews a pretty tasty ale. Here's a glass of his latest batch of Hefe Weizen, a wheat ale. (Click for a larger image.) Luckily, I know him well enough that he gives me some.

This ale has a sweet nose to it: you'd swear you were standing next to a big pile of bananas. But while the aroma is fruity, the flavor is full and nicely tart.

Hefe Weizen is supposed to run in the 4% - 7% range for alcohol content. This particular batch was close to 6%. That's a little bit stronger than American lagers. A couple of glasses of this will remind you of Tom T. Hall's singing.

It's a fine-drinking beer.

Posted by joke du jour at 08:00 PM

May 06, 2005

Weekend reading 2

This weekend's reading topic is Social Security reform. Check out these sites and posts.

Jane Galt's post on Is the trust fund real? Jane's blog partner, Mindles H. Dreck, has followed up on this topic since Jane's post.

This comparison, in the New York Times, of Chile's reformed pension system to the SS system: The Proof's in the Pension. Since the NYT requires a registration, I've copied this editorial below; click the "Continue reading..." link to see it.

The Social Security Choice blog. This is a group blog and all the members favor reform.

Dave, a libertarian from way back, went off on a populist rant about SS reform last weekend. He makes some good points, particularly
(a) the one about the likely restrictions on private accounts and
(b) how Ponzi schemes can work, if the supporting population (pool of suckers) increases quickly enough. Otherwise, I don't agree with much of it, but his scary predictions are always possibilities.

This video clip from the Club for Growth. CFG is a PAC that backs SS reform. IMO, SS reform ought to be a non-partisan, common sense issue. But then there's that noticable absence of supporters from the Democratic Party. (What's a reformer to do?) As a result, the CFG ad naturally focuses on Republicans.

The Proof's in the Pension


I made a pilgrimage to Santiago seeking to resolve the Social Security debate with a simple question: What would Pablo Serra do?

I wanted to compare our pensions to see the results of an accidental experiment that began in 1961, when he and I were friends in second grade at a school in Chile. He remained in Chile and became the test subject; I returned to America as the control group.

By the time we finished college, both of our countries' pension systems were going broke. Chile responded by pioneering a system of private accounts in 1981. America rescued its traditional system in the early 1980's by cutting benefits and raising taxes, with the promise that the extra money would go into a trust to finance the baby boomers' retirement.

As it happened, our countries have required our employers to set aside roughly the same portion of our income, a little over 12 percent, which pays for disability insurance as well as the pension program. It also covers, in Pablo's case, the fees charged by the mutual-fund company managing his money.

I visited Pablo, who grew up to become an economist, at his office at the University of Chile and showed him my most recent letter from the Social Security Administration listing my history of earnings and projected pension. Pablo called up his account on his computer and studied the projected retirement options for him, which assume that he'll keep working until age 65 and that the fund will get an annual return of 5 percent (which is lower than its historical average).

After comparing our relative payments to our pension systems (since salaries are higher in America, I had contributed more), we extrapolated what would have happened if I'd put my money into Pablo's mutual fund instead of the Social Security trust fund. We came up with three projections for my old age, each one offering a pension that, like Social Security's, would be indexed to compensate for inflation:

(1) Retire in 10 years, at age 62, with an annual pension of $55,000. That would be more than triple the $18,000 I can expect from Social Security at that age.

(2) Retire at age 65 with an annual pension of $70,000. That would be almost triple the $25,000 pension promised by Social Security starting a year later, at age 66.

(3)Retire at age 65 with an annual pension of $53,000 and a one-time cash payment of $223,000.

You may suspect that Pablo has prospered only because he's a sophisticated investor, but he simply put his money into one of the most popular mutual funds. He has more money in it than most Chileans because his salary is above average, but lower-paid workers who contributed to that fund for the same period of time would be in relatively good shape, too, because their projected pension would amount to more than 90 percent of their salaries.

By contrast, Social Security replaces less than 60 percent of your salary - and that's only if you were a low-income worker. Typical recipients get back less than half of their salaries.

The biggest problem in Chile is that many workers don't contribute regularly to their pensions because they're unemployed or working off the books. That's a common situation in the developing world, no matter what the pension system is. But if you contribute for at least 20 years, Chile guarantees you a minimum pension that, relative to the median salary, is actually more generous than the median Social Security check.

Still, you may argue, Chileans may someday long for a system like Social Security if the stock market crashes and takes their pensions down with it. The relative risks of the Chilean and American systems are a question for another column. But I can tell you that Pablo is an economist who appreciates the risks of stocks and has no doubt about where he wants to keep putting his money.

"I'm very happy with my account," he said to me after comparing our pensions. He was kind enough not to gloat. When I enviously suggested that he could expect not only a much heftier pension than mine, but also enough cash to buy himself a vacation home at the shore or in the country, he reassured me that it would pay for only a modest place.

I'm not sure how much consolation that is, but I'm trying to look at the bright side. Maybe my Social Security check will cover the airfare to visit him.

Posted by joke du jour at 08:04 PM

April 29, 2005

Weekend reading

Links to interesting essays (in case it rains and you have nothing better to do).

DalrympleTheodore Dalrymple is a doctor who worked in a British prison. He writes a series called Oh, to be in England for the quarterly City Journal. In last fall's issue, his article was The Frivolity of Evil; in this spring's issue, it was The Roads to Serfdom. These are fairly sobering takes on British society. He has a new book coming out (pictured at right).

I recently came across this essay from 2002, titled Taste for Makers, written by Paul Graham. It's an interesting collection of his observations on what makes a good design - and he knows something about good design.

The last is one I haven't finished called Higher Ed, Inc. by James Twitchell, a professor of English in Florida. Its topic is how higher educational institutions are turning into big businesses.

Posted by joke du jour at 08:01 PM

April 28, 2005

Quadratic formula worksheet

What if the IRS had discovered the quadratic formula?

From Daniel Velleman at Amherst College. Click above for a full-size image or click here for the PDF original.

(Tip o' the hat to The Braden Files.)

Posted by joke du jour at 06:00 PM

April 27, 2005

Le pain!

(Pun intended.)

From an article at KTVU's site:

San Francisco-Based Team Wins World Cup Of Baking Title

POSTED: 11:29 am PDT April 21, 2005
PARIS -- The United States' bread-baking skills were crowned superior to those of France and the rest of the world the Coupe du Monde de la Boulangerie, the World Cup of Baking, held in Paris, France.

Posted by joke du jour at 12:59 PM

April 24, 2005


Here's a BusinessWeek article about McDonald's and rappers - which is pretty amusing for its implicit What-Not-To-Do point o' view.

And here's a link to the Gatbustaz site, where you can hear the McGangsta MP3 cut mentioned in the article.

Prepare to be underwhelmed. I'm no fan of rap, but this seems pretty lame even for a rap tune. (Discretion advised while playing the audio.)

Posted by joke du jour at 06:10 PM

April 20, 2005

Economics in One Lesson


Jane Galt writes, "Economics in One Easy Lesson, which is, like, the best popular book on economics ever, is online. If you haven't read it, trot over there right now, you lucky dog, you."

Jane has a good point (even if she does forget the exact title). I paid Amazon for my copy a couple of years ago and thought it worth the price. This is definitely worth a look, if you have any interest in elementary economics. It was first published in 1946.

The book is in PDF form, courtesy of the Foundation for Economic Education.

Posted by joke du jour at 09:42 PM

April 18, 2005

Flash clocks

Cool clocks done with Flash.




Moving hand (which we've seen before)

Posted by joke du jour at 09:36 PM

April 16, 2005

Environmental heresies

Rob writes:

Another interesting read if you have the time. I thought the last page got a little hokey, but still some food for thought.

It's an article in MIT's Technology Review by Stewart Brand (Mr. Whole Earth Catalogue).

Posted by joke du jour at 09:02 AM | Comments (1)

The Quotable Sherlock Holmes

Courtesy of Gerard Van der Leun at American Digest, here's his book The Quotable Sherlock Holmes in PDF format. It's a collection of quotes from A.C. Doyle's stories, grouped topically.

The Quotable Sherlock Holmes

This book was published in 2000 but is now out-of-print.

Posted by joke du jour at 09:00 AM

April 14, 2005

Yo dawg

DutchShepherd.jpgOur first contributor wrote, "Use this site to pick the appropriate breed for your personality."

The second person to send a link for this said, "The interface is, well, er, clever doesn't begin to do it..."

As you can see, I'm a Dutch shepherd. And it's Tax Day, so Gr-r-r-r-r-r...

The site promotes an independent movie called Gone to the Dogs. Click on the WHAT DOG ARE YOU? link at the right of its main page to find the personality game. It's one of the best Flash applets I've seen.

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


From the Atlanta Journal-Constitution's "Vent" feature a few months ago:

Did you ever notice, when you put "The" and "IRS" together it spells "Theirs"?

Posted by joke du jour at 08:06 PM

April 12, 2005

Light and dark illusions

A collection of interactive Flash clips at this MIT site.

Posted by joke du jour at 09:04 PM

April 11, 2005

Merge-matic books

These are from a Washington Post Invitational contest, Merge-Matic Books. Readers were asked to combine the works of two authors, and to provide a suitable blurb.

Second Runner-Up:

"Machiavelli's The Little Prince"
Antoine de Saint-Exupery's classic children's tale as presented by Machiavelli. The whimsy of human nature is embodied in many delightful and intriguing characters, all of whom are executed.

First Runner-Up:

"Green Eggs and Hamlet"
Would you kill him in his bed? Thrust a dagger through his head? I would not, could not, kill the King. I could not do that evil thing. I would not wed this girl, you see. Now get her to a nunnery.

And the Winner of the Dancing Critter:

"Fahrenheit 451 of the Vanities"
An '80s yuppie is denied books. He does not object, or even notice.

Honorable Mentions:

"Where's Walden?"
Alas, the challenge of locating Henry David Thoreau in each richly-detailed drawing loses its appeal when it quickly becomes clear that he is always in the woods.

"Catch-22 in the Rye"
Holden learns that if you're insane, you'll probably flunk out of prep school, but if you're flunking out of prep school, you're probably not insane.

"2001: A Space Iliad"
The Hal 9000 computer wages an insane 10-year war against the Greeks after falling victim to the Y2K bug.

Thor Heyerdahl recounts his attempt to prove Rudyard Kipling's theory that the mongoose first came to India on a raft from Polynesia.

"The Maltese Faulkner"
Is the black bird a tortured symbol of Sam's struggles with race and family? Does it signify his decay of soul along with the soul of the Old South? Is it merely a crow, mocking his attempts to understand? Or is it worth a cool mil?

"Jane Eyre Jordan"
Plucky English orphan girl survives hardships to lead the Chicago Bulls to the NBA championship.

"Looking for Mr. Godot"
A young woman waits for Mr. Right to enter her life. She has a loooong wait.

"The Scarlet Pimpernel Letter"
An 18th-century English nobleman leads a double life, freeing comely young adulteresses from the prisons of post-Revolution France.

"Lorna Dune"
An English farmer, Paul Atreides, falls for the daughter of a notorious rival clan, the Harkonnens, and pursues a career as a giant worm jockey in order to impress her.

"The Remains of the Day of the Jackal"
A formal English butler puts his loyalty to his employer above all else, until he is persuaded to join a plot to assassinate Charles de Gaulle.

"The Invisible Man of La Mancha"
Don Quixote discovers a mysterious elixir which renders him invisible. He proceeds to go on a mad rampage of corruption and terror, attacking innocent people in the streets all the while singing "To fight the Invisible Man!" until he is finally stopped by awindmill.

"Singing in the Black Rain"
A gang of vicious Japanese drug lords beat the daylights out of Gene Kelly.

"Of Three Blind Mice and Men"
Burgess Meredith has his limbs hacked off by a psychopathic farmer's wife. Did you ever see such a sight in your life?

"Planet of the Grapes of Wrath"
Astronaut lands on mysterious planet, only to discover that it is his very own home planet of Earth, which has been taken over by the Joads, a race of dirt-poor corn farmers who miraculously developed rudimentary technology and evolved the ability to speak after exposure to nuclear radiation.

"Paradise Lost in Space"
Satan, Moloch, and Belial are sentenced to spend eternity in a flying saucer with a goofy robot, an evil scientist, and 2 annoying children.

"The Exorstentialist"
Camus' psychological thriller about a priest who casts out a demon by convincing it that there's really no purpose to what it's doing.

Posted by joke du jour at 07:30 PM

April 07, 2005

Real or not?

our contributor asks.

U.S. Supreme Court
April 1, 1905

MR. JUSTICE HOLMES delivered the opinion of the court:

This is an appeal from a decree restraining an alleged infringement by the defendant of the copyrights of artists represented by the respondents. That massive infringement has occurred using the systems developed and sold by the defendant is not in dispute. Respondents have estimated, and the defendant has stipulated as fact, that 90 percent of the content used on those devices are direct or thinly disguised copies of copyrighted works. The only question at hand is whether the defendant's actions in selling those systems constitutes infringement on his part.

The respondents acknowledge that the defendant did not himself copy the stories or the music of the artists they represent. Rather they argue that copyright infringement is the only significant use of his products and as such his design and sale of them constitute an active inducement to infringing acts on the part of others. The defendant knew or should have known when he devised these systems that they would be used for illegal purposes and is therefore liable for contributory infringement.

The court recognizes that the devices, as the defense has argued, do theoretically have the capability of substantial noninfringing use. And we are mindful of the concern that making the defendant responsible for how customers use his products might discourage some of the inventive spirit he has shown in the past. However, we cannot ignore the testimony of some of this nation's most renowned composers, playwrights, actors and other artists of the grievous harm caused by wholesale copying of their "inventions" that the defendant's products have induced. Indeed, if the all too public performances of their work enabled by the defendant's devices continue, the very existence of the respondents' centuries-old crafts would be in jeopardy. We therefore cannot help but agree with the respondents' assertion that the defendant's systems are in fact two "gigantic infringement machines built on inducement" of illegal violations of copyright.

Therefore, in the matter of defendant Thomas Alva Edison versus respondent the Book Authors Guild and respondent the Sheet Music Publishers Association, this court unanimously concurs with the lower court's decree. In inventing and offering for sale his "moving picture" and "phonograph" devices, the defendant induced countless infringing acts against the holders of copyrights for books and music. Defendant Edison's assets are to be seized in order to make restitution to the respondents. Furthermore, all phonographs, record players, moving picture equipment and similar devices are to be confiscated and destroyed. All "record" companies and "film studios" most disgorge their ill-gotten gains and henceforth cease and desist all operations now and forevermore.

Posted by joke du jour at 08:06 PM

April 06, 2005

Interesting list

Our contributor's subject line.

Advice for the day: If you have a lot of tension and you get a headache, do what it says on the aspirin bottle: "Take two aspirin" and "Keep away from children."
- Author Unknown

Oh, you hate your job? Why didn't you say so? There's a support group for that. It's called EVERYBODY, and they meet at the bar.
- Drew Carey

The problem with the designated driver program is it's not a desirable job, but if you ever get sucked into doing it, have fun with it. At the end of the night, drop them off at the wrong house.
- Jeff Foxworthy

If a woman has to choose between catching a fly ball and saving an infant's life, she will choose to save the infant's life without even considering if there is a man on base.
- Dave Barry

Relationships are hard . It's like a full time job, and we should treat it like one. If your boyfriend or girlfriend wants to leave you, they should give you two weeks' notice. There should be severance pay, the day before they leave you, they should have to find you a temp.
- Bob Ettinger

My Mom said she learned how to swim when someone took her out in the lake and threw her off the boat. I said, 'Mom, they weren't trying to teach you how to swim.'
- Paula Poundstone

A study in the Washington Post says that women have better verbal skills than men. I just want to say to the authors of that study: "Duh."
- Conan O'Brien

Why does Sea World have a seafood restaurant? I'm halfway through my fish burger and I realize, 'Oh my God.... I could be eating a slow learner.'
- Lynda Montgomery

I think that's how Chicago got started. Bunch of people in New York said, 'Gee, I'm enjoying the crime and the poverty, but it just isn't cold enough. Let's go west.'
- Richard Jeni

If life were fair, Elvis would be alive and all the impersonators would be dead.
- Johnny Carson

Sometimes I think war is God's way of teaching us geography.
- Paul Rodriguez

My parents didn't want to move to Florida, but they turned sixty and that's the law.
- Jerry Seinfeld

Remember in elementary school, you were told that in case of fire you have to line up quietly in a single file line from smallest to tallest. What is the logic in that? What, do tall people burn slower?
- Warren Hutcherson

Bigamy is having one wife/husband too many. Monogamy is the same.
- Oscar Wilde

Suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a member of Congress. But I repeat myself.
- Mark Twain

Our bombs are smarter than the average high school student. At least they can find Afghanistan.
- A. Whitney Brown

You can say any foolish thing to a dog, and the dog will give you a look that says, "My God, you're right! I never would've thought of that!"
- Dave Barry

Do you know why they call it "PMS"? Because "Mad Cow Disease" was taken.
- Unknown (and presumably deceased)

Posted by joke du jour at 09:02 PM

April 05, 2005

You know you're from Missouri if...

If I recall correctly, our contributor's a Missouri native who now lives out-of-state. Maybe he's homesick.

1. You've never met any celebrities.

2. Everyone you know has been on a float trip.

3."Vacation" means driving to Silver Dollar City, Worlds of Fun, or Six Flags.

4. You've seen all the biggest bands ten years AFTER they were popular.

5. You measure distance in minutes rather than miles. For example, "Well, Webb City's only 20 minutes away."

6. 'Down south' to you means Arkansas.

7. The phrase "I'm going to the Lake this weekend" means only one thing.

8. You know several people who have hit a deer.

9. You think Missouri is spelled with an "ah" at the end.

10. Your school classes were canceled because of cold.

11. You know what "Party Cove" is.

12. Your school classes were canceled because of heat.

13. You instinctively ask someone you've just met, "What high school did you go to?"

14.You've had to switch from "heat" to "A/C" in the same day.

15. You think ethanol makes your truck "run a lot better."

16. You know what's knee-high by the Fourth of July.

17. You've seen people wear bib overalls to funerals.

18. You see cars idling in a store parking lot with no one in them - no matter what time of the year.

19. You know in your heart that Mizzou can beat Nebraska in football.

20. You end your sentences with unnecessary prepositions: "Where's my coat at?"

21. All the festivals across the state are named after a fruit, vegetable, or grain.

22. You install security lights on your house and garage and then leave both unlocked.

23. You think of the major four food groups as beef, pork, beer, and Jello salad with marshmallows.

24. You carry jumper cables in your car and know that everyone else should.

25. You went to skating parties as a kid.

26. You own only three spices: salt, pepper, and ketchup.

27. You design your kid's Halloween costume to fit over a snowsuit.

28. You think sexy lingerie is tube socks and a flannel nightie.

29. The local paper covers national and international headlines on one page, but requires six pages for sports.

30. You think I-44 is pronounced "farty-far." (St. Louis only.)

31. You'll pay for your kids to go to college unless they want to go to KU.

32. You think that "deer season" is a national holiday.

33. You know that Concordia is halfway between Kansas City and Columbia; that Columbia is halfway between St. Louis and Kansas City; and that Warrenton Outlet Mall is halfway between Columbia and St. Louis.

34. You can't think of anything better than sitting on the porch during a summer thunderstorm. (That is a hard one to beat... JHC :)

35. You know which leaves make good toilet paper.

36. You've said, "It's not the heat, it's the humidity."

37. You know all four seasons: Almost Summer, Summer (AKA Construction), Still Summer and Football.

38. You know if other Missourians are from the Bootheel, Ozarks, Eastern, or Western Missouri as soon as they open their mouth.

39. You know that Harry S Truman, Walt Disney and Mark Twain are all from Missouri. (Don't forget Robert Heinlein.)

40. You failed geography in school because you thought Cuba, Cairo, Milan, Versailles, California, Nevada, Paris, Houston, Cabool, Louisiana, Springfield, and Mexico were cities in Missouri. (And they are.)

41. You think a traffic jam is ten cars waiting to pass a tractor.

42. You know what "HOME OF THE THROWED ROLL" means.

Posted by joke du jour at 08:12 PM

March 31, 2005

Good story

says our contributor.

And it's apparently not an April Fool's tale either: Don't f**k with Ovid.

Posted by joke du jour at 06:02 PM

March 30, 2005

Rock family photos

Our contributor sez: "Check out some of these photos."

Meet Mr. & Mrs. Zappa with their son, Frank, for example.


I particularly enjoyed the text accompanying these.

Posted by joke du jour at 09:36 PM

March 17, 2005

Health tips

Q: I've heard that cardiovascular exercise can prolong life. Is this true?

A: Your heart is only good for so many beats, and that's it... don't waste them on exercise. Everything wears out eventually. Speeding up your heart will not make you live longer; that's like saying you can extend the life of your car by driving it faster. Want to live longer? Take a nap.

Q: Should I cut down on meat and eat more fruits and vegetables?

A: You must grasp logistical efficiencies. What does a cow eat? Hay and corn. And what are these? Vegetables. So a steak is nothing more than an efficient mechanism of delivering vegetables to your system. Need grain? Eat chicken. Beef is also a good source of field grass (green leafy vegetable). And a pork chop can give you 100% of your recommended daily allowance of vegetable products.

Q: Should I reduce my alcohol intake?

A: No, not at all. Wine is made from fruit. Brandy is distilled wine, that means they take the water out of the fruity bit so you get even more of the goodness that way. Beer is also made out of grain. So bottoms up!

Q: How can I calculate my body/fat ratio?

A: Well, if you have a body and you have body fat, your ratio is one to one. If you have two bodies, your ratio is two to one, etc.

Q: What are some of the advantages of participating in a regular exercise program?

A: Can't think of a single one, sorry. My philosophy is: No Pain: good

Q: Aren't fried foods bad for you?

A: YOU'RE NOT LISTENING! Foods are fried these days in vegetable oil. In fact, they're permeated in it. How could getting more vegetables be bad for you?

Q: Will sit-ups help prevent me from getting a little soft around the middle?

A: Definitely not! When you exercise a muscle, it gets bigger. You should only be doing sit-ups if you want a bigger stomach.

Q: Is chocolate bad for me?

A: Are you crazy? HELLO... Cocoa beans... another vegetable! It's the best feel-good food around!

Q: Is swimming good for your figure?

A: If swimming is good for your figure, explain whales to me.

Q: Is getting in-shape important for my lifestyle?

A: Hey! Round is a shape!

Posted by joke du jour at 07:20 PM

March 10, 2005

Probation violation

From Manolo's Shoe Blog:

Manolo says, apparently, the Martha she has been inside the long time, as she does not know that the fashion mania for the poncho it is indeed over.

By the way, the Manolo he is willing to bet that the Martha she made this herself out of thread she collected from the prison-issue blankets and the mop heads, using the toothbrush handle that had been laboriously fashioned into the dual-purpose crochet-hook/shiv.

Posted by joke du jour at 09:34 PM

March 02, 2005

Time waster


Posted by joke du jour at 09:35 PM

February 21, 2005

Name Voyager

A very nicely done Java applet from that shows historical usage of names.

Posted by joke du jour at 10:13 AM

August 03, 2004

Legal music tracks

They claim to have 1 million legal tracks here. I haven't verified that there are actually 1 million.

Posted by joke du jour at 10:30 AM