May 23, 2015
OK, we won't TGFB
About the United Church of Bacon
Are you tired of religious people being seen as morally superior to atheists? Of religions getting special privileges in the law, because they’re perceived as better than secular non-profit organizations?
As a protest, atheist friends of magician Penn Jillette of Penn & Teller had a fantastic idea in 2010. Let’s start a real, legal church with a funny name, and then demand the same rights as mainstream religions:
We oppose supernatural claims. We are skeptics and atheists. In our religion, we doubt religion.
We fight discrimination. Atheists are not inferior and should not be hated and marginalized.
We raise money for charity while accepting no donations for ourselves. We do not claim tax exempt status.
We perform legal weddings, always for free. How joyful!
We expose religious privileges as silly by claiming the same rights for Bacon.
We praise Bacon! If you don’t like pigs, praise Vegetarian Bacon or Turkey Bacon.
We now have nearly 10,000 members from around the world and have performed hundreds of weddings. Join us!
Raise your voice in protest, and to Praise Bacon!
May 19, 2015
Salt from tears
These are offered by Hoxton Street Monster Supplies. (But what I really want is salt from my enemies' tears.)
Salt Made From Tears combines centuries-old craft with the freshest human tears which are gently boiled, released into shallow crystallisation tanks, then harvested by hand and finally rinsed in brine. Experience the full range of these flavours in this exclusive collection.
April 26, 2015
Don't over-think this
Thoughts Can Fuel Some Deadly Brain Cancers
The simple act of thinking can accelerate the growth of many brain tumors.
That's the conclusion of a paper in Cell published Thursday that showed how activity in the cerebral cortex affected high-grade gliomas, which represent about 80 percent of all malignant brain tumors in people.
"This tumor is utilizing the core function of the brain, thinking, to promote its own growth," says Michelle Monje, a researcher and neurologist at Stanford who is the paper's senior author.
In theory, doctors could slow the growth of these tumors by using sedatives or other drugs to reduce mental activity, Monje says. But that's not a viable option because it wouldn't eliminate the tumor and "we don't want to stop people with brain tumors from thinking or learning or being active."
April 23, 2015
You may know Arnold Schwarzenegger by such films as Terminator, Twins, Total Recall, Kindergarten Cop, Terminator 2, Conan the Barbarian, Predator, True Lies, Conan the Destroyer, or Terminator 3. You probably also know him as the 38th Governor of California, serving in that office from November of 2003 until January 2011. During his time in office, he, like many other political executives, sparred with the legislative branch on occasion. One example of this came in October of 2009, when the California State Assembly passed an energy policy bill. The details aren’t important — if you’re interested, the Wall Street Journal covered it here – except that Schwarzenegger wasn’t a fan of what the Assembly had proposed. Instead, the governor returned the bill to the legislature, unsigned, thereby vetoing it. In doing so, Schwarzenegger included the following note:
The State Assembly members were not amused. Not because of the rejection — well, maybe because of the rejection — but also because the “Governator” used the letter to tell the legislature what he really thought of them. Don’t see it? This will help:
April 14, 2015
Experience is the best teacher (3)
But the tuition can be a little high.
Anti-vaxx mom abandons movement — after all seven her of her kids get whooping cough
Writing on TheScentificParent blog, a chagrined Canadian mom announced that she is leaving the anti-vaxx movement after all of her seven children — four of them completely unvaccinated — have come down with whooping cough.
Writing from quarantine, and surrounded by sick kids, Tara Hills wrote she is “emotionally, a bit raw. Mentally a bit taxed. Physically I’m fine,” before admitting that not only are her own kids sick, but they may have exposed her five-month-old niece who is too young to be fully vaccinated.
What began with a cold brought into her home by her brother-in-law, turned into coughing by her kids leading to full-blown whooping cough in all seven children.
January 28, 2015
Goin' to the chapel
This article is a couple of months old now. I wonder if the wedding happened.
Charles Manson Set to Tie the Knot With 26-Year-Old Woman
Mass murderer Charles Manson is set to tie the knot with a 26-year-old woman who has spent years trying to exonerate him.
According to the Associated Press, a marriage license was issued Nov. 7 in Kings County, Calif. for the 80-year-old and Afton Elaine Burton, who goes by the name "Star."
No date has been set, but a wedding coordinator has been assigned by the prison to handle the nuptials, and the couple has until early February to get married before they would have to reapply.
Manson is imprisoned in California State Prison, Corcoran. His bride-to-be lives nearby and maintains several websites advocating his innocence.
January 27, 2015
Life insurance for your data
Imagine that you die with computer passwords in your head, leaving coworkers without access to critical files. Imagine your loved ones cannot find your bank accounts, or that you die with a secret that you longed to reveal during your lifetime. A deathswitch is an automated system that prompts you for your password on a regular schedule to make sure you are still alive. When you do not enter your password for some period of time, the system prompts you again several times. With no reply, the computer deduces you are dead or critically disabled, and your pre-scripted messages are automatically emailed to the individuals you designated.
December 31, 2014
Some serious dedication
3rd Grade Teacher Wins $150,000, Then Donates It All to Her School
A third-grade teacher in Boston who won $150,000 in an online contest donated her entire winnings to her school.
Nicole "Nikki" Bollerman, 26, was honored this week by Boston Mayor Marty Walsh after she donated her grand prize of $150,000 from a Capital One #WishForOthers contest that also funded three books per student.
"I really made the wish for my students and I was blessed, lucky and thankful that Capital One gave me the opportunity," Bollerman told ABC News today. "Since I made the wish for my students I thought I would do something to make their lives better rather than spend it on myself."
Bollerman teaches general third-grade education at UP Academy Dorchester, a public charter school that's a year old.
December 26, 2014
The World Is Not Falling Apart
Never mind the headlines. We've never lived in such peaceful times.
It's a good time to be a pessimist. ISIS, Crimea, Donetsk, Gaza, Burma, Ebola, school shootings, campus rapes, wife-beating athletes, lethal cops—who can avoid the feeling that things fall apart, the center cannot hold? Last year Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, testified before a Senate committee that the world is "more dangerous than it has ever been." This past fall, Michael Ignatieff wrote of "the tectonic plates of a world order that are being pushed apart by the volcanic upward pressure of violence and hatred." Two months ago, the New York Times columnist Roger Cohen lamented, "Many people I talk to, and not only over dinner, have never previously felt so uneasy about the state of the world. … The search is on for someone to dispel foreboding and embody, again, the hope of the world."
As troubling as the recent headlines have been, these lamentations need a second look. It's hard to believe we are in greater danger today than we were during the two world wars, or during other perils such as the periodic nuclear confrontations during the Cold War, the numerous conflicts in Africa and Asia that each claimed millions of lives, or the eight-year war between Iran and Iraq that threatened to choke the flow of oil through the Persian Gulf and cripple the world's economy.
How can we get a less hyperbolic assessment of the state of the world? Certainly not from daily journalism. News is about things that happen, not things that don't happen. We never see a reporter saying to the camera, "Here we are, live from a country where a war has not broken out"—or a city that has not been bombed, or a school that has not been shot up. As long as violence has not vanished from the world, there will always be enough incidents to fill the evening news. And since the human mind estimates probability by the ease with which it can recall examples, newsreaders will always perceive that they live in dangerous times. All the more so when billions of smartphones turn a fifth of the world's population into crime reporters and war correspondents
December 15, 2014
The Male Idiot Theory
From the British Medical Journal, no less. (Tip o the hat to Jeff G.)
The Darwin Awards: sex differences in idiotic behaviourAbstract
Sex differences in risk seeking behaviour, emergency hospital admissions, and mortality are well documented. However, little is known about sex differences in idiotic risk taking behaviour. This paper reviews the data on winners of the Darwin Award over a 20 year period (1995-2014). Winners of the Darwin Award must eliminate themselves from the gene pool in such an idiotic manner that their action ensures one less idiot will survive. This paper reports a marked sex difference in Darwin Award winners: males are significantly more likely to receive the award than females (P<0.0001). We discuss some of the reasons for this difference.
However, there is a class of risk—the "idiotic" risk—that is qualitatively different from those associated with, say, contact sports or adventure pursuits such as parachuting. Idiotic risks are defined as senseless risks, where the apparent payoff is negligible or non-existent, and the outcome is often extremely negative and often final.
According to "male idiot theory" (MIT) many of the differences in risk seeking behaviour, emergency department admissions, and mortality may be explained by the observation that men are idiots and idiots do stupid things.16 There are anecdotal data supporting MIT, but to date there has been no systematic analysis of sex differences in idiotic risk taking behaviour. In this paper we present evidence in support of this hypothesis using data on idiotic behaviours demonstrated by winners of the Darwin Award.17 18 19 20 21
Winners of the Darwin Award must die in such an idiotic manner that "their action ensures the long-term survival of the species, by selectively allowing one less idiot to survive."20 The Darwin Awards Committee attempts to make a clear distinction between idiotic deaths and accidental deaths. For instance, Darwin Awards are unlikely to be awarded to individuals who shoot themselves in the head while demonstrating that a gun is unloaded. This occurs too often and is classed as an accident. In contrast, candidates shooting themselves in the head to demonstrate that a gun is loaded may be eligible for a Darwin Award—such as the man who shot himself in the head with a "spy pen" weapon to show his friend that it was real.18
To qualify, nominees must improve the gene pool by eliminating themselves from the human race using astonishingly stupid methods. Northcutt cites a number of worthy candidates.17 18 19 20 21 These include the thief attempting to purloin a steel hawser from a lift shaft, who unbolted the hawser while standing in the lift, which then plummeted to the ground, killing its occupant; the man stealing a ride home by hitching a shopping trolley to the back of a train, only to be dragged two miles to his death before the train was able to stop; and the terrorist who posted a letter bomb with insufficient postage stamps and who, on its return, unthinkingly opened his own letter.
December 10, 2014
What we used to call Progress we now call Disruption. Curious, eh?
Number 38 on their list is
Modem 1959 AT&T releases the Bell 101 modem for commercial use after a year of military testing.
This may bring back some memories (though I doubt that the Bell 101 sounded like this):
December 05, 2014
Secrets of the Magus
A long article in The New Yorker about Ricky Jay, an expert at sleight-of-hand, among other things.
Secrets of the Magus
Deborah Baron, a screenwriter in Los Angeles, where Jay lives, once invited him to a New Year's Eve dinner party at her home. About a dozen other people attended. Well past midnight, everyone gathered around a coffee table as Jay, at Baron's request, did closeup card magic. When he had performed several dazzling illusions and seemed ready to retire, a guest named Mort said, "Come on, Ricky. Why don't you do something truly amazing?"
Baron recalls that at that moment "the look in Ricky's eyes was, like, 'Mort—you have just fucked with the wrong person.' "
Jay told Mort to name a card, any card. Mort said, "The three of hearts." After shuffling, Jay gripped the deck in the palm of his right hand and sprung it, cascading all fifty-two cards so that they travelled the length of the table and pelted an open wine bottle.
"O.K., Mort, what was your card again?"
"The three of hearts."
"Look inside the bottle."
Mort discovered, curled inside the neck, the three of hearts. The party broke up immediately.
December 03, 2014
And I say it's about time
Hi, and welcome!
Are you ready to learn all about Digital Cookie, the groundbreaking new enhancement of the iconic Girl Scout Cookie Program? Well, you've come to the right place!
To help us get you the best information possible, please choose one of the following options:
Are you a cookie buyer?
Are you a cookie seller?
And if you're just interested in learning more, check out both pages to see how you can become a part of Girl Scout Cookie history!
November 21, 2014
Pour me a double
Exercise in a Bottle Is Next Food Frontier for Nestle
Tucked away near Lake Geneva, a handful of Nestle SA (NESN) scientists are quietly working on realizing every couch potato's dream: exercise that comes in a bottle.
The world's biggest food company, known for KitKat candy bars and Nespresso capsules, says it has identified how an enzyme in charge of regulating metabolism can be stimulated by a compound called C13, a potential first step in developing a way to mimic the fat-burning effect of exercise. The findings were published in the science journal Chemistry & Biology in July.
November 19, 2014
How can there be a 'deficit' in a commodity? If there is one, who's stockpiled chocolate?
The world's biggest chocolate-maker says we're running out of chocolate
There's no easy way to say this: You're eating too much chocolate, all of you. And it's getting so out of hand that the world could be headed towards a potentially disastrous (if you love chocolate) scenario if it doesn't stop.
Those are, roughly speaking, the words of two huge chocolate makers, Mars, Inc. and Barry Callebaut. And there's some data to back them up.
Chocolate deficits, whereby farmers produce less cocoa than the world eats, are becoming the norm. Already, we are in the midst of what could be the longest streak of consecutive chocolate deficits in more than 50 years. It also looks like deficits aren't just carrying over from year-to-year—the industry expects them to grow. Last year, the world ate roughly 70,000 metric tons more cocoa than it produced. By 2020, the two chocolate-makers warn that that number could swell to 1 million metric tons, a more than 14-fold increase; by 2030, they think the deficit could reach 2 million metric tons.
October 29, 2014
Living in a Glass House
Slideshow at the link - check it out.
Yuusuke Karasawa's maze-like S House has an entirely transparent facade
The exposed criss-crossing skeleton of this see-through house in Japan frames a labyrinth of wall-less rooms connected by over a dozen different staircases.
Designed by Tokyo-based architect Yuusuke Karasawa, S House is a two-storey-high building broken up into five split levels, creating a series of evenly sized rooms that are connected by staircases rather than corridors.
October 16, 2014
Man of many talents
Police officer drives car and does CPR at same time on toddler
RED HOOK, N.Y. (WABC) --
A Red Hook police sergeant thought he was just pulling over a speeder; instead it turned out to be a frantic dad trying to get help for his son.
The 22-month-old was having a medical emergency and the officer took quick action that saved the little boy's life. [...]
On Monday, Morgan's 22-month-old boy, also named Matthew, suffered a seizure and collapsed. The 19-year-old grabbed the small lifeless body and jumped into his car. Speeding through the Dutchess County Village of Red Hook, Morgan and Police Sergeant Patrick Hildenbrand spotted each other at just about the same time.
"I was going and then he hit his lights and then as soon as I seen that I stopped and I ran to his car. You get through traffic a lot faster," Morgan said.
"He has a young boy in his hands and he's running at me, yelling at me, his son is not breathing. 'I think my son is dead, my son is not breathing,'" Hildenbrand said.
What happened next is extraordinary. Morgan, now in the back seat of a police SUV held his son close to the partition and watched as the 35-year-old policeman drove to the hospital and performed CPR on the boy at the same time.
"I reached my hand back here as I'm driving, moved my body over and started doing all the compressions and feeling for a pulse while I could still operate the vehicle," Hildenbrand said.
September 23, 2014
Happy Bicentennial, Belleville
The length is 200 feet but the girth is typical for a bratwurst. Photo at the link.
Success: Belleville grills 200-foot bratwurst to commemorate city's 200th birthday
Months of preparation and planning paid off Sunday as Belleville successfully grilled a 200-foot bratwurst in recognition of the city's 200th birthday.
Hundreds came out to witness and photograph the historic event including 88-year-old Norm Geolat, who's lived in Belleville all his life.
"I think it's the highlight of the whole thing," Geolat said. "It takes a lot for me to get out at 88 years old, but I'm impressed."
Sunday was the final day of the Bicentennial Oktoberfest Weekend Celebration, which kicked off Friday with a performance by The Beach Boys.
September 20, 2014
I feel lucky (12)
This is old news - from 1999.
AUSTRALIA: MAN WINS ON SCRATCH CARDS TWICE
A truck driver who came back from the dead after a heart attack has had an extraordinary run of luck, winning a car and 250 thousand dollars on scratch and win cards, just two weeks apart.
Last year Bill Morgan was pronounced clinically dead for more than 14 minutes.This year he is celebrating a run of extraordinary luck.
He had survived a massive heart attack, come out of a 12 day coma with all his facilities intact, and exactly one year after the heart attack he had proposed to the girl of his dreams Lisa Wella , who said yes.
Two weeks ago he went down to the local Newsagent and bought the last five dollar scratch lottery ticket that they had, and won a AUS dollar 26,000 (USD 17 thousand) car.
A local TV station was so impressed with his run of luck that they decided to re- enact his scratching of the winning lottery ticket.
This time , in front of the rolling camera's , Morgan scratched another winning card, for a quarter of a million Australian dollars (USD 170 thousand).
September 16, 2014
Living Simply in a Dumpster
Tucked behind the women’s residence halls in a back corner of Huston-Tillotson University’s campus in Austin, Texas, sits a green dumpster. Were it not for the sliding pitched roof and weather station perched on top, a reasonable person might dismiss the box as “just another dumpster”—providing this person did not encounter the dean of the University College Jeff Wilson living inside.
Professor Wilson went to the dumpster not just because he wished to live deliberately, and not just to teach his students about the environmental impacts of day-to-day life, and not just to gradually transform the dumpster into “the most thoughtfully-designed, tiniest home ever constructed.” Wilson’s reasons are a tapestry of these things.
Until this summer, the green dumpster was even less descript than it is now. There was no sliding roof; Wilson kept the rain out with a tarp. He slept on cardboard mats on the floor. It was essentially, as he called it, “dumpster camping.” The goal was to establish a baseline experience of the dumpster without any accoutrements, before adding them incrementally.
Not long ago, Wilson was nesting in a 2,500 square foot house. After going through a divorce (“nothing related to the dumpster,” he told me, unsolicited), he spun into the archetypal downsizing of a newly minted bachelor. He moved into a 500-square-foot apartment. Then he began selling clothes and furniture on Facebook for almost nothing. Now he says almost everything he owns is in his 36-square-foot dumpster, which is sanctioned and supported by the university as part of an ongoing sustainability-focused experiment called The Dumpster Project. “We could end up with a house under $10,000 that could be placed anywhere in the world,” Wilson said at the launch, “[fueled by] sunlight and surface water, and people could have a pretty good life.”
September 02, 2014
Lightning strike (2)
Police identify bicyclist struck in head by lightning in Maryland Heights
MARYLAND HEIGHTS • A bicyclist riding on the Maryland Heights Expressway was struck in the head by lightning and went into cardiac arrest Thursday evening, witnesses said, but Pattonville paramedics were able to revive him. [...]
The incident happened about 5:20 p.m. Thursday, as Adams was bicycling south on the expressway about a quarter mile south of the Hollywood Casino, said Pattonville Fire District Batallion Chief Ken Aydelott.
Eagan said Adams worked in the Riverport area and was bicycling home. It was storming violently, Aydelott said, and passing motorists saw a lightning bolt strike his head. Eagan said Adams had a wound on his foot, so it was unclear where on his body he was initially struck or if the bolt had exited his foot.
Adams fell to the ground, and the witnesses pulled over, called 911, and began CPR. Paramedics arrived within four minutes and began advanced life support, and they were able to revive him on the way to SSM DePaul Health Center.
"There were a lot of people involved trying to resuscitate this man," the chief added.
Aydelott said about half a dozen people were at the scene when paramedics arrived, and they risked getting struck by lighting as well.
"For those bystanders to get out of their car and help was really something," he said.
August 19, 2014
It's REAL: Russian doctors confirm picture of mugging victim with a six-inch knife in her back is genuine
An extraordinary picture that has gone around the world of a knife plunged into the back of a woman mugging victim is genuine, it was revealed by doctors in Moscow tonight.
Julia Popova, 22, was stabbed by a mugger as she walked home from work one day last autumn - but she was so traumatised by the attack that she walked home without realising the knife was embedded in her, just a fraction of an inch from her spinal cord.
In the image, blood is shown gushing from the wound as surgeons stare in awe, apparently preparing to operate to remove the six-inch blade.
'This is our photo, she was here,' a senior doctor at the hospital in the north of the Russian capital told the MailOnline last night.
August 15, 2014
Movie memorial calendar
OAP is a British acronym for old age pensioner.
OAPs recreate famous movie scenes for best calendar ever (probably)
A group of fun-loving nursing home residents have recreated some iconic movie scenes for this unforgettable calendar.
OAPs at the Contilia Retirement Group in Essen, Germany, raided their wardrobes for the Hollywood –inspired 'Classics 2014′ calendar.
Demand for the calendar has soared after the pictures of them posing as James Bond, Mary Poppins and The Blues Brothers began circulating online.
'Everyone was surprised we succeeded in making such a well-made calendar – the residents and others were delighted with the outcome,' said Contilia board member Heinz-Jurgen Heiske.
August 04, 2014
The kiss of life
Apparently, these men worked for the Jacksonville (Florida) Electric Authority.
The Kiss of Life Photograph is Incredible
Taken in 1967 by Rocco Morabito, this is one of the most powerful photographs we've seen. Called the Kiss of Life photo, it shows a utility worker named J.D. Thompson giving mouth-to-mouth to co-worker Randall G. Champion after he went unconscious following contact with a high voltage line.
What's even more incredible is Champion not only survived this thanks to Thompson, but he lived an extra 35 years. He died in 2002. Thompson is still alive today.
July 17, 2014
The Facebook Cop
She's for real.
Facebook 'Friends' Its City, Pays for Officer
MENLO PARK, Calif.—On a recent afternoon, police officer Mary Ferguson visited the home of a teenager in this Silicon Valley suburb who had been missing school and was on probation.
Officer Ferguson approached the boy's father as part of her rounds and asked if he checks the teen's Facebook FB -1.85% page to make sure he's "on the up and up." When the man said he didn't, the officer assured him she did—thanks to a Facebook account she uses as part of her job that doesn't reveal her true identity. "I'll keep my eye on him," she said.
Officer Ferguson, 34 years old, is sometimes called "The Facebook Cop," but it isn't for her savvy use of social media. It is because her salary and benefits are paid entirely by Facebook Inc., which is based in this well-off city of 32,000.
In an unusual deal, the social-networking giant has agreed to fund a $194,000-a-year police position, including salary and benefits. The position is controlled by Menlo Park and the primary duties of the job are to keep children in school, work with juvenile offenders, and help large local businesses such as Facebook plan for emergencies like fires, earthquakes or violent intruders.
July 16, 2014
July 11, 2014
Beer. St. Louis. 'Nuff said.
Entrepreneur's beer dispenser garners crowdfunding interest
At the end of a 30-minute interview with Steve Young this month, a colleague of the beer entrepreneur checked his smartphone, leaned over and told him, “We just made another $5,000.”
By then, Young was checking his phone many, many times a day. Since the 28-year-old launched a crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter on June 24 been dubbed the “Keurig machine for beer,” the Soulard resident said he’s getting a thousand emails, phone calls and voice mails a day from people around the world inquiring about the product, eight months before it’s available for sale.
Interested consumers and investors aren’t the only ones reaching out. Since the campaign began, media outlets from Time magazine to Good Morning America have taken notice of the south St. Louis County-based startup.
Per Kickstarter rules, Synek had a month to reach its goal of $250,000 or it wouldn’t get the funding. Over the Fourth of July holiday weekend, it surpassed its goal. As of late Thursday night, Synek had raised more than $450,000.
July 10, 2014
Careful with that Android, Eugene
Android Data Wipe Leaves Personal Data
When Android users choose to reset their smartphones, they generally believe their personal data is deleted. But Avast Software, which makes and markets device-side security apps, says that's not necessarily the case. The company was able to recover vast stores of personal data from wiped smartphones using off-the-shelf software. Time to rethink your selfies?
Avast purchased 20 different Android smartphones from eBay, which typically has tens of thousands of such devices for sale at any given time. The previous owners performed a factory reset, deleting all the content from the phones, before selling them. The factory reset option is buried in the settings menu, but it claims to erase everything from the phone and memory card. Avast then used commercially available recovery software to dig up personal information. [...]
Avast restored 40,000 photos -- including 1,500 of children, 750 of women in various stages of undress, and 250 male nudes -- from just 20 phones. Avast also recovered 1,000 Google searches, 750 emails and text messages, and 250 contact names and email addresses. Amazingly, Avast managed to identify only four of the 20 previous owners, but an identity ratio of one-in-five should be alarming to most smartphone users.
July 02, 2014
Selfies to Mars
Good gravy! They'll be everywhere!
Send your selfies to Mars for 99 cents a pop
A US$25 million crowdfunded, student-led mission plans to send three CubeSat microsatellites all the way to Mars, landing time capsules on the surface of the Red Planet, that will contain the digital messages from tens of millions of people from all countries around the world. You can upload a picture of your own, up to 10 MB in size, by contributing just 99 cents.
July 01, 2014
Virtual reality on your smartphone
We want everyone to experience virtual reality in a simple, fun, and inexpensive way. That's the goal of the Cardboard project.
Virtual reality has made exciting progress over the past several years. However, developing for VR still requires expensive, specialized hardware. Thinking about how to make VR accessible to more people, a group of VR enthusiasts at Google experimented with using a smartphone to drive VR experiences.
The result is Cardboard, a no-frills enclosure that transforms a phone into a basic VR headset, and the accompanying open software toolkit that makes writing VR software as simple as building a web or mobile app.
By making it easy and inexpensive to experiment with VR, we hope to encourage developers to build the next generation of immersive digital experiences and make them available to everyone.
Build your own
Construct a VR viewer from everyday items you can find in your garage, online or at your local hardware store.
June 27, 2014
I am hitchBOT — a robot from Port Credit, Ontario.
This summer I will be traveling across Canada, from coast-to-coast. I am hoping to make new friends, have interesting conversations, and see new places along the way. As you may have guessed robots cannot get driver’s licences yet, so I’ll be hitchhiking my entire way. I have been planning my trip with the help of my big family of researchers in Toronto. I will be making my way from the east coast to the west coast starting in July.
According to his designers, hitchBOT boasts artificial intelligence (AI) and and has been endowed with speech recognition and speech processing capabilities so that he may understand and converse with those people that he may encounter on his journey. To keep them engaged in conversation, hitchBOT apparently also runs social media and Wikipedia APIs, so that he will not only be able to talk to the people that pick him up, he'll be able to make interesting and informed small talk with them whilst tweeting and posting his "thoughts" to a wider audience.
June 07, 2014
70 years ago
The Guardian has a series of 10 Before-and-After images described below:
D-day landings scenes in 1944 and now – interactive
Peter Macdiarmid has taken photographs of locations in France and England to match with archive images taken before, during and after the D-day landings. The Allied invasion to liberate mainland Europe from Nazi occupation during the second world war took place on 6 June 1944. Operation Overlord was the largest seaborne invasion in military history, with more than 156,000 Allied troops storming the beaches of France
• Photography then and now lets you move through time by tapping or clicking on a historic image to reveal the modern view. You can drag or swipe to control the speed of the transformation
7 May 2014: A view of the beach near Colleville-sur-Mer, France. Photographs by Popperfoto/Getty and Peter Macdiarmid/Getty
May 13, 2014
Now this is a GMO
First life forms to pass on artificial DNA engineered by US scientists
The first living organism to carry and pass down to future generations an expanded genetic code has been created by American scientists, paving the way for a host of new life forms whose cells carry synthetic DNA that looks nothing like the normal genetic code of natural organisms.
Researchers say the work challenges the dogma that the molecules of life making up DNA are "special". Organisms that carry the beefed-up DNA code could be designed to churn out new forms of drugs that otherwise could not be made, they have claimed.
"This has very important implications for our understanding of life," said Floyd Romesberg, whose team created the organism at the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, California. "For so long people have thought that DNA was the way it was because it had to be, that it was somehow the perfect molecule."
From the moment life gained a foothold on Earth the diversity of organisms has been written in a DNA code of four letters. The latest study moves life beyond G, T, C and A – the molecules or bases that pair up in the DNA helix – and introduces two new letters of life: X and Y.
May 08, 2014
Just what the world needs
More selfies... <sigh>
April 28, 2014
Irony meter pegged again (4)
RIP, Ms. Sanford.
Woman posts about 'Happy' song on Facebook seconds before fatal Business 85 crash
HIGH POINT, N.C. — Investigators believe a driver was posting to Facebook seconds before she crashed and died.
The wreck happened Thursday morning on Business 85 in High Point. Investigators say 32-year-old Courtney Ann Sanford crossed the median and crashed head-on into a truck.
Later on Thursday, investigators say some of Sanford's friends and family told them about a Facebook post that Sanford made around the same time as the crash. Investigators discovered the Facebook post was made seconds before the deadly crash.
"The Facebook text happened at 8:33 a.m. We got the call on the wreck at 8:34 a.m.," explains Lt. Chris Weisner, with the High Point Police Department.
Investigators say Sanford's Facebook post read: "The happy song makes me HAPPY!"
"In a matter of seconds, a life was over just so she could notify some friends that she was happy," says Weisner.
Paul sent me a link to the story above. I replied that what smart phones need is a sensor to detect continuous motion so texting and browsing could be disabled while driving.
He replied with a link to this article in The Daily Mail.
Apple to introduce speed sensors in cars to stop drivers texting at the wheel
Texting from behind the wheel could be made impossible after Apple launched plans to install a device that could stop drivers from sending messages.
The electronic giants have filed a patent for a system that could bar access to an iPhone's messaging apps while a user is driving.
Sensors installed in phones would be able to detect the speed of the vehicle and work out where someone was sitting. This would allow passengers to send messages without any restrictions.
Messaging at the wheel is hard to detect and has become so common that many believe a law barring it would not make a difference.
Documents filed on behalf of Apple in the US suggest they are looking to develop 'lockout mechanisms that disable the ability of a handheld computing device to perform certain functions, such as texting, while one is driving'.
April 27, 2014
It even shocks a lawyer
What this story doesn't report is that Ms Simon is being sued by the families of the teens. But I don't think that excuses her.
Driver that struck teen suing dead boy's family
ALCONA - Still in the throes of agony from losing their son in a vehicle crash, the parents of young Brandon Majewski are now reeling after they learned the woman who struck and killed him is suing their dead child. [...]
Brandon was struck from behind by an SUV and killed while his friend Richard McLean, 16, was seriously injured with a broken pelvis and other bones. His other pal Jake Roberts, 16, was knocked off his bike but sustained only scratches.
Now the driver of the SUV, Sharlene Simon, 42, a mother of three, formerly from Innisfil, is suing the dead boy for the emotional trauma she says she has suffered. She's also suing the two other boys, as well as the dead boy's parents, and even his brother, who has since died. She's also suing the County of Simcoe for failing to maintain the road.
Even the family's lawyer is in shock.
"In all of my years as a lawyer, I have never seen anyone ever sue a child that they killed," Barrie lawyer Brian Cameron said. "It's beyond the pale. I just couldn't bring myself to tell them on the phone."
April 22, 2014
The (Unintentional) Amazon Guide to Dealing Drugs
One day, some drug dealer bought a particular digital scale—the AWS-100— on the retail site, Amazon.com. And then another drug dealer bought the same scale. Then another. Then another.
Amazon's data-tracking software watched what else these people purchased, and now, if you buy the AWS-100 scale, Amazon serves up a quickstart kit for selling drugs.
April 15, 2014
No left turns
Why UPS Trucks Don't Turn Left
In 2004, UPS announced a new policy for its drivers: the right way to get to any destination was to avoid left-hand turns. Even if that means following this route that a UPS driver described to an incredulous press member:
"We're gonna make a right turn onto 135th to Western. We'll make another right on Western down to 139th. Righ turn on 139th and go down to the end of the block and we'll make another right turn."
When better tracking systems emerged in 2001, the package delivery service took a closer look at how trucks performed when delivering packages. As a logistics company with some 96,000 trucks and several hundred aircraft, much of UPS's business can be distilled to a series of optimization problems around reducing the amount of fuel used, saving time, and using space more efficiently. (Trucks in UPS facilities park just a few inches apart with their side mirrors overlapping to save space.)
April 09, 2014
What a great story
The Wreck Tech Pajama Parade was a staple of the Auburn-Georgia Tech football rivalry that was played annually from 1906 through 1987. The sole interruption of the series was in 1943, when the country's attention was focused on World War II and Auburn did not field a football team.
The legend that gave birth to the parade has its roots in Auburn's first ever home football game – against Georgia Tech in 1896. It was a day when football teams traveled by train and the Tech team was scheduled to arrive at the Auburn station, located between North Gay and College streets, early in the morning of Nov. 7.
Several members of Auburn's corps of cadets, knowing the Yellow Jackets' travel schedule, arose in the middle of the night and walked to the station in their pajamas. The cadets, armed with grease and lard, applied a thick coating to about a quarter-mile of rails leading into and out of the Auburn station, then returned to their beds.
According to the legend, the next morning the train carrying the Tech football squad could get no traction when it tried to brake for the Auburn station and slid halfway to Loachapoka, some five miles away. The Yellow Jacket contingent was forced to walk back to Auburn, where Auburn whipped them that afternoon, 45-0.
March 31, 2014
Mitch Hedberg compendium
Someone at Buzzfeed compiled 275 of Hedberg's joke to mark the anniversary of his passing on March 29th.
A Complete Ranking Of (Almost) Every Single Mitch Hedberg Joke
I perform at the colleges and I always buy the shirt from the college because they’re quality shirts and they’re colorful. But people get the wrong idea, you know? I walk around with a Washington University shirt on and someone goes “Hey, Washington U, did you go there?”
“Yeah… it was a Wednesday.” [Listen]
March 15, 2014
The House That Ivan Built
This is 1 of 7 images of a tourist attraction in Moscow.
March 14, 2014
Scientists replace amputee's hand ... along with its sense of touch
A man who lost his left hand in an accident nine years ago has had his sense of touch restored using a prosthetic hand surgically wired to nerves in his upper arm. During the trial, Dennis Aabo Sørensen was able to grasp objects, detect the strength of grip, distinguish shape and identify objects by touch while blindfolded. The work was carried out by scientists from École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) and Scuola Superiore Sant'Anna (SSSA).
March 12, 2014
BAMF of the year
I love how the woman in the Security shirt walks out when the gun walks in (at the 2 second mark).
St. Paul bouncer who stopped gunman among police honorees
When a man holding a gun came to the door of the St. Paul bar where Eric Wasson is a security guard, Wasson was determined not to let the man get past him.
Wasson tried to defuse the situation by smiling at the man and saying, "Hey, what's going on?" He also told the man to calm down.
The man told Wasson to move and raised his gun, Wasson recalled.
Wasson worried about the more than 150 people inside Johnny Baby's on University Avenue, and he rushed the man, whose gun went off twice as they struggled. No one was struck.
"God is good," Wasson said with a smile after St. Paul Police Chief Thomas Smith presented him Wednesday with the highest award he can give a citizen, the Chief's Award for Valor.
March 08, 2014
But will "you" pass the Turing test?
If your mother does this, is she going to be angry with you when you don't 'visit'? And what if she gets hacked?
Simply Become Immortal
Eterni.me collects almost everything that you create during your lifetime, and processes this huge amount of information using complex Artificial Intelligence algorithms.
Then it generates a virtual YOU, an avatar that emulates your personality and can interact with, and offer information and advice to your family and friends, even after you pass away.
February 21, 2014
Handling snow in North Carolina
SuperDroid fields remote control snow plow
In the southeast United States, snow storms are as about as common as canoes on Mount Everest, which is what makes the current task of digging the region out from under the recent deposit of the white stuff so irksome. To aid the inexperienced snow shoveler, SuperDroid of Raleigh, North Carolina is selling a remote-controlled robotic snow plow that allows you to clear the drive while sitting where it’s warm with a cup of cocoa.
February 16, 2014
A sentimental journey
February 15, 2014
Happy 250th, St. Louis
Depending on how you read Monsieur Choteau's diary, the semiquincentennial of St. Louis' founding is either February 14th or 15th -- or maybe one of those two dates in March.
The folks at the Missouri History Museum, and local consensus, have settled on February 14th.
The Post-Dispatch has posted A Whirlwind Tour of St. Louis History in Photos (148 images).
M. Choteau clearing the site / Eads Bridge under construction / Current skyline and the Gateway Arch.
Update: Maria Altman, a reporter for St. Louis Public Radio, tweets a link to this St. Louis trivia quiz: St. Louis At 250 What's What And Who's Who In St. Louis
Prior to the arrival of the French explorers, the St. Louis area was home to the Mississippians, Native Americans who had a very large settlement at Cahokia circa 600-1400. Cahokia is on the east bank of the Mississippi, directly across the river from St. Louis.
The Cahokians were mound builders and built mounds on both sides of the river. One of the old nicknames for St. Louis is Mound City and there are photos of a mound being demolished in the Post-Dispatch slideshow above.
February 11, 2014
What a guy (2)
R.I.P., Mr. Smith.
Leonard M. Smith
Leonard Mason Smith, 86, a veteran of World War II and Korea and longtime resident of Pine Island, Florida passed away on November 27th, 2013.
Leonard Smith was a very private man. If you wanted to know his cause of death, he would have told you that it was none of your business. If you asked Penny, his beloved wife, she would tell you that he had cancer, but not to tell anyone. Although his prognosis was dire, he battled on, lived his life and survived several years beyond the experts' expectations. He did not want his obituary to suggest that he lost a long battle with cancer. By his reckoning, cancer could not win, and could only hope for a draw. And so it was. Leonard Smith hated losing. [...]
Leonard Smith hated pointless bureaucracy, thoughtless inefficiency and bad ideas born of good intentions. He loved his wife, admired and respected his children and liked just about every dog he ever met. He will be greatly missed by those he loved and those who loved him. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that you cancel your subscription to The New York Times.
February 05, 2014
The self-powered cyborg COCKROACHES set to clean up our cities
It may sound like a terrifying science fiction baddie, but Japanese researchers have revealed the first cyborg cockroaches - and say they could help keep our cities clean.
The team created a radical new battery that creates energy from sugar in the insect's body.
They now hope to build giant 'swarms' of their cyber insects to create large sensor networks for chemicals and pollutants.
Osaka University and the Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology (TUAT) co-developed the fuel cell, which measures 20 x 15mm and can be mounted on an insect.
They say the work will lead to forming a wireless sensor network with cyborg insects.
February 03, 2014
Careful how you answer
Poetry or prose? Russian literary dispute ends in stabbing death
(Reuters) - The lesson from a stabbing death in Russia: Alcohol and literature can be a lethal mix.
A former schoolteacher killed his friend after a drunken argument over which is superior, poetry or prose, investigators in the Sverdlovsk region said on Wednesday.
"The literary dispute soon grew into a banal conflict, on the basis of which the 53-year-old admirer of poetry killed his opponent with the help of a knife," the regional branch of the federal Investigative Committee said in a statement.
January 28, 2014
Best & worst of the press, 2013
The best and worst media errors and corrections in 2013
Apology of the Year
Runner-Up The Sun (U.K.):In an article on Saturday headlined 'Flying saucers over British Scientology HQ', we stated "two flat silver discs" were seen "above the Church of Scientology HQ". Following a letter from lawyers for the Church, we apologise to any alien lifeforms for linking them to Scientologists.
January 24, 2014
Stay glassy, people
First Google Glass App for Sex Sees Everything (Yes, Everything)
It was bound to happen: A developer claims that he built the first Google Glass app designed for sex. No, not porn — sex. Sex With Glass is designed to let partners share their point of view with each other to "experience sex like never before."
The idea is that both parties will don Glass for the encounter, and the app will send a live video stream to the other person's display upon the command, "OK, Glass, it's time," letting them see what they see in real time. You stop the stream with the words, "OK, Glass, pull out," according to the app's website.
The site claims the app will also be able to dim room lights and play mood music, presumably with home automation, as well as suggest new sexual positions with the words, "OK, Glass, give me ideas."
Someone did a Google glass porn parody last summer. It's marginally SFW, if you're discreet.
December 26, 2013
If she's still playing bridge, she's still sharp
Oklahoma woman celebrates 113th birthday
OKLAHOMA CITY, Dec. 26 (UPI) -- An Oklahoma woman who celebrated her 113th birthday Christmas Eve said she passes her days playing bridge and doesn't need help getting up from her chair.
Ora Holland said on her 113th birthday Tuesday she mowed her own lawn into her 90s and purchased her last new car when she was 100, the Oklahoman reported Thursday.
Holland, who the newspaper said is believed to be the oldest living person in Oklahoma, said she spends most of her days playing bridge where she lives at the Heritage Assisted Living Center in Oklahoma City.
"I can't see or hear like I used to, but I'm getting by," she said.
Holland said she sometimes needs a walker or a wheelchair to get around, but she doesn't need any help to get out of her chair to greet visitors.
T.J. Davis, Holland's grandson, said his grandmother's mind is sharp when he visits.
December 12, 2013
What This Couple Built In Their Snowy Backyard Made Me Insanely Jealous. Seriously…Wow.
Daniel Gray, a New Zealander visiting Canada with his Canadian girlfriend to meet her family found a very unique way to spend some of his time during their cold December visit.
With the help of his girlfriend (Kathleen Starrie) and her family, he build the most amazing thing in their Edmonton backyard.
"I wanted to keep him occupied, not with my daughter necessarily. I wanted to keep him busy with something else," Starrie's mother Brigid Burton said with a laugh, "I didn't want Daniel to just be twiddling his thumbs while he's here in Canada so I thought, this needs to be something that's got some meat to it."
And so the construction began. The couple, along with help from Starrie's parents and even a friendly neighbour, spent five days building what you're about to see.
1 of 17 images from the article:
December 11, 2013
The thought's occurred to me
Harassed boyfriend jumped to his death after his girlfriend insisted on going into another clothes shop
A man jumped to his death after a furious row with his girlfriend who insisted they go into another clothes shop.
CCTV shows Tao Hsiao, 38, escorting his girlfriend around a shopping mall in Xuzhou, Jiangsu
province, east China.
After five hours Tao finally had enough and demanded to go home.
Eyewitnesses say he could be heard saying they already had more bags than they could carry, but she insisted on going into one more shop where the was a special offer on shoes. [...]
The shouting match ended when the man chucked the bags on the floor and jumped over the balcony, smashing into Christmas decorations on his way down before hitting the floor seven storeys below causing shocked shoppers to flee in panic.
H.T. Jeff G
December 03, 2013
The Streisand Effect in action
Utah Couple Fined $3,500 by Online Merchant KlearGear Retains Lawyer, Turns Tables
After an online merchant fined a Utah couple $3,500 for writing a negative review and sparked a financial nightmare for more than a year, a public service lawyer has agreed to take the case and fight back with demands for $75,000 in compensation.
When Jen Palmer of Salt Lake City didn't receive a Christmas gift that her husband ordered for her online, she wrote a negative review of KlearGear.com and moved on with her life. But the company fined the Palmers $3,500, citing bizarre fine print on its website.
"No one would have expected this from doing perfectly normal, everyday and perfectly legal things," Scott Michelman, staff attorney with Public Citizen who is representing the Palmers, told ABCNews.com.
December 02, 2013
Take A Look At The Verrückt Meg-A-Blaster, Soon To Be The World's Tallest Waterslide
"NOPE. NOT A CHANCE." That's what I'd tell a person who isn't nearly as brave and tough as I am if he wanted to go down the Verrückt Meg-A-Blaster waterslide at the Schlitterbahn Kansas City Water Park when it opens next year. The slide is currently under construction, but as you can see in the image posted to Reddit yesterday, this reportedly 140-foot tall project is no joke, as it will eventually become the tallest waterslide in the world.
November 27, 2013
The smartest man on the planet
Happy Anniversary to the Betars. There's video of them at the link.
Relationship advice from America's longest married couple
John and Ann Betar of Bridgeport, Conn., are celebrating their 81st wedding anniversary on Monday, earning them the title of America's "longest married couple." When they eloped on Nov. 25, 1932 — Ann's father had plans to marry her to a man 20 years older — her family consoled the patriarch by assuring him Ann and John's marriage wouldn't last.
It has lasted — 81 years. Naturally, everybody wants to know the secret of their relationship's longevity. The first rule would seem to be living a long time: John Betar is 102; Ann is 98. [...]
"Be content with what you have and what you're doing," says John.
"We have watched the world change together," he continues. "The key is to always agree with your wife."
Bingo! says Kiri Blakeley at The Stir. A long, happy marriage has "nothing to do with keeping the sex spicy or the dinner hot or the children quiet or the anti-depressants nearby (though those things don't hurt)." It has to do with the old maxim "Happy wife, happy life." John clearly has "magic 'agree with whatever my wife says' superpowers" — that, or he's simply "the smartest man on the planet."
Via Miss Cellania
November 04, 2013
Beer is proof that God loves us
To Stave Off Decline, Churches Attract New Members With Beer
With mainline religious congregations dwindling across America, a scattering of churches is trying to attract new members by creating a different sort of Christian community. They are gathering around craft beer.
Some church groups are brewing it themselves, while others are bring the Holy Mysteries to a taproom. The result is not sloshed congregants; rather, it's an exploratory approach to do church differently.
Leah Stanfield stands at a microphone across the room from the beer taps and reads this evening's gospel message.
She's a 28-year-old leasing agent who's been coming to here in Fort Worth, Tex., for a year, and occasionally leads worship.
"I find the love, I find the support, I find the non-judgmental eyes when I come here," she says. "And I find friends that love God, love craft beer."
November 01, 2013
A master at going faster (6)
I calculate his rate at 1.7 pounds per minute. I doubt that I could eat a pound of anything in less than an hour.
Joey Chestnut eats 121 Twinkies in 6 minutes
TUNICA, Miss., Oct. 29 (UPI) -- Competitive eating champion Joey Chestnut added another record to his total by downing 121 Twinkies in 6 minutes at a Mississippi event.
Chestnut came in first during the weekend at the Major League Eating-sanctioned inaugural World Twinkie-Eating Championship at Bally's Casino in Tunica.
His closest competitor, Matt "The Megatoad" Stonie, downed 111 of the cream-filled cakes in the time allowed, the Orlando (Fla.) Sentinel reported Tuesday. [...]
Chestnut's record-setting feast amounts to 10.2 pounds of Twinkies, containing 18,150 calories, the Sentinel said.
October 22, 2013
6 second toothbrush
Fairly pricey but maybe worthwhile. Leave a comment if you've tried it.
Blizzident "toothbrush" is claimed to clean your teeth in 6 seconds
[...] with the new Blizzident toothbrush (if it can be called a toothbrush), a full and complete cleaning of the teeth can reportedly be accomplished in just six seconds.
Before they can receive a Blizzident, users first have to go to their dentist and get an impression made of their teeth. Next, a 3D digital model of that impression is uploaded to the Blizzident company's server. The company proceeds to create a 3D-printed plastic negative mold of the teeth, which is lined with approximately 400 toothbrush-style angled bristles. That mold is the actual Blizzident toothbrush, and is sent to the buyer.
To brush their teeth, users just put the Blizzident into their mouth, bite up and down into it, and grind their teeth back and forth. Because it's an exact fit for their teeth, six seconds of chomping and grinding is reportedly long enough for the bristles to get into all the nooks and crannies, including between teeth and along the gum line.
October 15, 2013
The eyes have it
You can take the quiz at the link
Can You Read People's Emotions?
Are you tuned in to the emotions of others? Or have you been accused of being insensitive?
If you are among those people who are mystified by moods, new research offers hope. A new study shows that certain types of reading can actually help us improve our sensitivity IQ. To find out how well you read the emotions of others, take the Well quiz, which is based on an assessment tool developed by University of Cambridge professor Simon Baron-Cohen.
For each photo, choose the word that best describes what you think the person depicted is thinking or feeling.
October 11, 2013
Zombie for love
Why A Little Mammal Has So Much Sex That It Disintegrates
It's August in Australia, and a small, mouse-like creature called an antechinus is busy killing himself through sex. He was a virgin until now, but for two to three weeks, this little lothario goes at it non-stop. He mates with as many females as he can, in violent, frenetic encounters that can each last up to 14 hours. He does little else.
A month ago, he irreversibly stopped making sperm, so he's got all that he will ever have. This burst of speed-mating is his one chance to pass his genes on to the next generation, and he will die trying. He exhausts himself so thoroughly that his body starts to fall apart. His blood courses with testosterone and stress hormones. His fur falls off. He bleeds internally. His immune system fails to fight off incoming infections, and he becomes riddled with gangrene.
He's a complete mess, but he's still after sex. "By the end of the mating season, physically disintegrating males may run around frantically searching for last mating opportunities," says Diana Fisher from the University of Queensland. "By that time, females are, not surprisingly, avoiding them.
October 09, 2013
Who translated this?
Foodbeast reports on Hana Yakiniku (“Nose Grill Meat”).
Japan Invents 'Smell-o-Vision' for Smartphones, Cartridges That Emit Mouthwatering Scents
Meat's expensive. Sure, you probably could have funneled your monthly data plan money into more than a couple cuts of steak, but then how would you use this crazy scented smartphone app?
It's called Scentee, and it was designed to help poor college students and dieters cut back on calories and save money by tricking them with smell. Just plug in the Square-esque scent cartridge into your smartphone, load the photo app, and cozy up to a nice bowl of delicious (and cheap) rice or bread or salad. It'll be just like having your favorite foods right there in front of you. Except, you know, not.
Rocket News reports the cartridges come in a wide range of frustratingly mouth-watering scents including apple, coffee, cinnamon roll, and, starting in mid-November: meat – namely, short ribs and beef tongue.
October 07, 2013
Eating Bacon Will Make You Live Longer (Because It's Rich in Niacin)
Basically, Marmite is the Fountain of Youth.
Bacon-lovers, you're in luck: a new study from researchers at ETH Zurich has revealed that niacin (aka Vitamin B3) could help you live longer! The niacin-rich food menu includes not only bacon, but also Marmite, sun-dried tomatoes, paprika, and peanuts; so, this pretty much sounds like the most delicious recipe for long life ever.
Energy Metabolism Prof Michael Ristow and his team decided to feed roundworms a bunch of niacin, and discovered that the new element in the worms' diet saw them living one-tenth longer than their Vitamin B3-free peers.
September 10, 2013
More jewelry from re-purposed material at motherboredjewelry.com.
Via Carpe Diem
September 02, 2013
The Ariizona Department of Liquor Licenses and Control has undercover agents?
Dad asks son to hold beer, kicked out of Arizona Cardinals game
Just after the opening kickoff of the Arizona Cardinals' preseason game against the Dallas Cowboys on Saturday, Cardinals season ticket holder John Coulter wanted to take a picture. He says he asked his 15-year-old son to hold his beer cup while he did so.
Seconds later, two undercover officers with the Arizona Department of Liquor Licenses and Control approached him. Coulter says they told him that what he did was illegal and that he could be arrested for it. In the end, officers escorted the father and son out of the University of Phoenix Stadium.
Officials say Coulter is lucky he was able to walk away from the situation.
September 01, 2013
Not quite 'at-a-glance' but it's close
The full chart is available at the link.
The Entire History of the World—Really, All of It—Distilled Into a Single Gorgeous Chart
This "Histomap," created by John B. Sparks, was first printed by Rand McNally in 1931. [...]
This giant, ambitious chart fit neatly with a trend in nonfiction book publishing of the 1920s and 1930s: the "outline," in which large subjects (the history of the world! every school of philosophy! all of modern physics!) were distilled into a form comprehensible to the most uneducated layman.
August 29, 2013
All those who believe in telekinesis...
...raise my hand. Video at the link.
Scientist controls colleague's hand in first human brain-to-brain interface
The telepathic cyborg lives, sort of. University of Washington scientists Rajesh Rao and Andrea Stocco claim that they are the first to demonstrate human brain-to-brain communication. Rao sent a signal into a Stocco's brain via the Internet that caused him to move his right hand. Brain-to-brain communication has previously been demonstrated between rats and from humans to rats.
"The experiment is a proof in concept. We have tech to reverse engineer the brain signal and transmit it from one brain to another via computer," said Chantel Prat, an assistant professor of psychology who worked on the project.
Title quip attributed to multiple people.
August 23, 2013
Now for some straight news.
Teens chase kidnapping suspect on bikes, save 5-year-old girl
(CNN) -- Two teenage boys are being hailed as heroes after they chased a car carrying a kidnapped girl -- on their bicycles.
Five-year-old Jocelyn Rojas was playing in her front yard in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, when she vanished Thursday afternoon. Authorities believe she was abducted by a man who lured her by offering ice cream.
For two hours, neighbors and police scoured the area and asked if anyone had seen her.
Temar Boggs, 15, and his friend took off on their bicycles to search.
About a half-mile away, they spotted Jocelyn in a sedan. But the driver was elusive. [...]
The two teens chased the alleged kidnapper on their bikes for 15 heart-pounding minutes. The driver apparently knew he was being followed and gave up.
"He stopped at the end of the hill and let her out, and she ran to me and said that she needed her mom," Temar said.
H.T. Paul B
August 16, 2013
22 Disastrous Apostrophe Fails For International Apostrophe Day (PICTURES)
Friday 16 August is International Apostrophe Day - yes, it's come round again! - and what better way to celebrate than to gaze in awe at pictures of apostrophes out in the wild, roaming free away from their normal habitat?
Via Carpe Diem, where the abuse of "its" and "it's" is a recurring topic.
July 15, 2013
Markets in everything (19)
Makes you wonder what it would take to have MS Windows or Sun's Java declared a national security risk.
Nations Buying as Hackers Sell Flaws in Computer Code
On the tiny Mediterranean island of Malta, two Italian hackers have been searching for bugs — not the island's many beetle varieties, but secret flaws in computer code that governments pay hundreds of thousands of dollars to learn about and exploit.
The hackers, Luigi Auriemma, 32, and Donato Ferrante, 28, sell technical details of such vulnerabilities to countries that want to break into the computer systems of foreign adversaries. The two will not reveal the clients of their company, ReVuln, but big buyers of services like theirs include the National Security Agency — which seeks the flaws for America's growing arsenal of cyberweapons — and American adversaries like the Revolutionary Guards of Iran.
All over the world, from South Africa to South Korea, business is booming in what hackers call "zero days," the coding flaws in software like Microsoft Windows that can give a buyer unfettered access to a computer and any business, agency or individual dependent on one.
Via Carpe Diem
July 13, 2013
Gas or charcoal?
Grilling Over Gas Is Objectively, Scientifically Better Than Grilling Over Charcoal
Grilling on a holiday like the Fourth of July, when you've got the day off, is easy. You can take your time; pull out your artisanal hardwood charcoal; light it in your chimney starter; build a perfect two-level fire; and lovingly tend your rib-eye, or your chicken breasts, or your pork ribs.
Fourth of July is hobby grilling.
But what about the 22nd of June, or the 12th of August — when temps are in the 80s and all you want is to be in your backyard with a beer and a hunk of meat to cook? Instead, it's 6 p.m., you're at the office, the kids need to eat by 7, and you still have to go to the store.
This, my friend, is why a gas grill rules.
Grilling Over Charcoal Is Objectively, Scientifically Better Than Grilling Over Gas
It's a beautiful day. The family's in attendance, side dishes and beer in tow. Your sister-in-law brought a trunk full of Super Soakers. It's BBQ time. Time to kick back in the yard and fire up the … stove?
Hmm, that doesn't sound terribly exciting, does it? But that's basically what you're doing when you cook out on a gas grill, which is powered by the same largely flavorless fuel as your kitchen stove.
True fact: Cooking on a gas grill is more convenient than cooking with charcoal.
It's also a lot less special. And, scientifically speaking, it creates less flavorful food.
To understand why, you first need to understand that flavor and taste are not the same thing. "Within flavor, we have taste compounds and we have aroma compounds," says Gavin Sacks, associate professor of food science at Cornell University. "Our brains just aren't designed to decouple them."
July 10, 2013
Midnight in the O.R.
Patient Wakes Up as Doctors Get Ready to Remove Organs
It was exactly midnight when Colleen Burns eerily opened her eyes and looked at the operating lights above her, shocking doctors who believed she was dead and were about to remove her organs and donate them to patients on the transplant waiting list.
The Syracuse Post-Standard unearthed a report from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that chronicled the series of errors that led to the near-organ removal on a living patient at St. Joseph's Hospital Health Center in Syracuse, N.Y., in 2009.
"The patient did not suffer a cardiopulmonary arrest (as documented) and did not have irreversible brain damage," the HHS report concluded. "The patient did not meet criteria for withdrawal of care."
July 03, 2013
It's been a year and a half since it was mentioned here, but this is finally coming to market. I gotta check it - just for kicks.
NeverWet superhydrophobic spray hits stores this week
We all know that, at some point in your life, you really needed the ability to make something waterproof. Thankfully for your windows, Rain-X gets the job done with minimal effort on your part, but Rain-X eventually wears off and requires a new application seemingly all too often, which can be tedious. The world learned of NeverWet — which you can think of as a tougher, longer-lasting Rain-X — two years ago, but now the spray has finally hit the market.
The latest demo clip:
June 15, 2013
Russian teddy bear on the prowl
Guess who's on match.com?
Full image after the break (since I can't link to it directly).
H.T. Paul B
June 04, 2013
This is the opening few couplets of a lengthy poem about English, written by a Dutchman named Gerard Nolst Trenité.
Dearest creature in creation
Studying English pronunciation,
I will teach you in my verse
Sounds like corpse, corps, horse and worse
I will keep you, Susy, busy,
Make your head with heat grow dizzy.
Tear in eye your dress you'll tear,
So shall I! Oh, hear my prayer,
Pray, console your loving poet,
Make my coat look new, dear, sew it!
Just compare heart, beard and heard,
Dies and diet, lord and word,
Sword and sward, retain and Britain.
(Mind the latter, how it's written).
June 03, 2013
Welcome to the next level
[NSFW] Realtouch Interactive: Remote sex is no longer a thing of the future (Part 2)
Friendly Gizmag readers, if Part One of our Realtouch review left you feeling a little squeamish, it's probably best to click your way right back out of this page, because Part Two takes us into even murkier waters.
To briefly recap, the Realtouch is a USB-controlled pleasure machine that men can put their willies into. In Part One we discovered the amazing world of Realtouch porn, in which every movement performed by the on-screen pornstars is encoded such that whatever happens to the penis on screen happens in real time to the penis in my office, that being my own penis, thus smashing my personal record for most instances of the word "penis" in a single sentence. [...]
Part One, however, was merely foreplay. Because Realtouch also runs a sister site called Realtouch Interactive, through which device owners can interact live with cam girl models, and which allows these models to control your device in real time.
May 25, 2013
The nose knows
Man growing new nose on his arm
After losing his nose to cancer, scientists are reportedly helping a 56-year-old man grow a new one.
According to reports, scientists at the University College London are growing two noses, one which will be kept at the lab while the other will be implanted in the patients arm.
"We've got two noses growing, just in case someone drops one," Professor Alex Seifalian told the Belfast Telegraph.
May 23, 2013
The audacious plan to end hunger with 3-D printed food
Anjan Contractor's 3D food printer might evoke visions of the "replicator" popularized in Star Trek, from which Captain Picard was constantly interrupting himself to order tea. And indeed Contractor's company, Systems & Materials Research Corporation, just got a six month, $125,000 grant from NASA to create a prototype of his universal food synthesizer.
But Contractor, a mechanical engineer with a background in 3D printing, envisions a much more mundane—and ultimately more important—use for the technology. He sees a day when every kitchen has a 3D printer, and the earth's 12 billion people feed themselves customized, nutritionally-appropriate meals synthesized one layer at a time, from cartridges of powder and oils they buy at the corner grocery store. Contractor's vision would mean the end of food waste, because the powder his system will use is shelf-stable for up to 30 years, so that each cartridge, whether it contains sugars, complex carbohydrates, protein or some other basic building block, would be fully exhausted before being returned to the store.
Ubiquitous food synthesizers would also create new ways of producing the basic calories on which we all rely. Since a powder is a powder, the inputs could be anything that contain the right organic molecules. We already know that eating meat is environmentally unsustainable, so why not get all our protein from insects?
Via Carpe Diem
May 22, 2013
How to help
This article at USA Today lists 9 organizations providing aid to the tornado victims.
How to help Oklahoma tornado victims
The Salvation Army and Red Cross are making it easier to help those affected by the recent tornado.
If you're looking for ways to help residents of Oklahoma, ravaged by a monstrous tornado on Monday, the following relief organizations are working in the area...
May 08, 2013
Paging Anaïs Nin
Porn studies is the new discipline for academics
Porn Studies needs your contributions. The Routledge academic periodical will debut next spring, and a call for papers appeared this week soliciting submissions for "the first dedicated, international, peer-reviewed journal to critically explore those cultural products and services designated as pornographic". Two dons, Feona Attwood and Clarissa Smith, are the editors.
May 07, 2013
Markets in everything (18)
IdeaBounty.com has a clever tagline: "The best ideas get paid."
What is idea bounty?
Clients: Get thousands of minds thinking about your brief and only pay for what you use.
Creatives: Get paid for your best ideas with no long term commitment from you.
This reminds me of something Heinlein wrote, "To me, the acme of prose style is exemplified by that simple, graceful clause: 'Pay to the order of...'"
Via Carpe Diem
May 02, 2013
Sharing the awesome
Last fall I bought a new phone to check out Republic Wireless, which was doing its beta roll out at the time. Since then, Republic has gone into full production mode and we've moved all the phones in our family to Republic.
Why? Well, because...
The deal Republic offers is commitment-free service which includes all the voice, text and data you want to use. Pretty awesome -- it was just the deal I'd been looking for the last couple of years. We reduced our household cellular bill by 50% when we switched to Republic plus we ended up with more services on all the phones.
The only downside to Republic's deal is that you can only get the service on phones you buy from them. Those phones are Motorola Defy XTs, which are fully-featured Android smartphones. They've got good specs and they work great. I haven't found an Android app that I can't run on the Defy. But the Defy XT only comes in one size and it doesn't have all the bells & whistles of a Samsung Galaxy S4 or an iPhone 5.
If you like the idea of full phone service at a great price with no contractual commitment (and you can live without the latest bells & whistles) then Republic's deal can't be beat.
Republic is offering incentives for new customer referrals. People I refer get a $19 credit - and so do I.
Check it out. FTW.
(For more info about how Republic's service works, here's their What's the catch? page.)
April 26, 2013
George Jones, RIP
His Life Was a Country Song
George Jones, the definitive country singer of the last half-century, whose songs about heartbreak and hard drinking echoed his own turbulent life, died on Friday in Nashville. He was 81.
It was indeed. This was one of his early hits.
This one went to #1 in 1962. James Taylor said of Jones' cover, "He did it so good, it makes you weep. [...] It makes your roof leak to hear this song."
My personal favorite (because of the crazy juxtapositions and silly rhymes).
April 01, 2013
March 29, 2013
Have you cycled the power?
This sounds sort of interesting - for an automated band-aid. I"d more interested in something that solved the problem rather than just treated the symptoms.
The Amazing Jellybean is a smart power switch that reboots your devices in the correct order to solve connection problems.
Did you know that nearly 80% of Internet connection problems can be FIXED by simply rebooting your devices properly?
80 percent! That's why the tech support guys at the ISPs tell you to start by unplugging your cable modem when your Internet goes down.
March 16, 2013
Now this is a drinking problem
The curious thing is that when I first read this article yesterday, the number of dead, floating pigs was "over 8,000." The count was updated about an hour before this post.
Number of pigs in and near Shanghai goes to 11,955
The number of dead pigs retrieved from waters in and near China's financial hub of Shanghai has reached nearly 12,000.
The upstream city of Jiaxing - where small hog farms are prevalent - reported Friday night that it had recovered 3,601 dead pigs from its streams, according to state media.
In Shanghai, authorities have retrieved 8,354 swollen and rotting carcasses from Huangpu river, which provides the metropolis with drinking water.
March 12, 2013
From the bottom up
A Billion Dollar Company With No Bosses? Yes, It Exists
Imagine being a part of a company with no bosses, upper-level management, or HR, where bonuses, hirings, and firings were all determined by peer consensus. Imagine a company like this going on to become one of the most successful in its space. This isn't a joke: It's the real story of video game developer and publisher, Valve.
In an interview late last month with the Library of Economics and Liberty, Valve's former economist-in-residence Yanis Varoufakis (that's right, a video game company with a staff economist) described the flat management model behind the Seattle-based, 400-employee company that could be worth up to $4 billion.
"The most astonishing aspect of life at Valve is that there are no bosses," said Varoufakis, an economist from the University of Athens with notable publications on the Euro Crisis. "It contains no explicit hierarchy. It's based on what several members of the company have described to me as the principles of anarcho-syndicalism. Effectively, free association of employees with one another."
March 01, 2013
The red pellet or the blue?
Scientists link rats to real-world 'Matrix' via the Internet
There is officially a Wachowski Brothers-style "Matrix" for rodents.
Scientists in North Carolina and Brazil have connected the brains of two rats using "brain-to-brain interfaces" that can connect directly or via the Internet. These allow the rodents to share sensory information, collaborate on tasks to earn rewards, and fight back against the shadowy and cyber-apocalyptic forces that have enslaved them.
There's actually no evidence of the latter, but I'd still suggest researchers watch out for any rats that start displaying a propensity for martial arts.
February 27, 2013
Found at Futility Closet
The Conscience Fund
During the Civil War, the U.S. Treasury received a check for $1,500 from a private citizen who said he had misappropriated government funds while serving as a quartermaster in the Army. He said he felt guilty.
“Suppose we call this a contribution to the conscience fund and get it announced in the newspapers,” suggested Treasury Secretary Francis Spinner. “Perhaps we will get some more.” [...]
Many contributions are sent by citizens who have resolved to start anew in life by righting past wrongs, but some are more grudging. In 2004, one donor wrote, “Dear Internal Revenue Service, I have not been able to sleep at night because I cheated on last year’s income tax. Enclosed find a cashier’s check for $1,000. If I still can’t sleep, I’ll send you the balance."
February 22, 2013
Special delivery (4)
Rare Delivery: Texas Woman Gives Birth to Two Sets of Identical Twins
Your chances of being audited by the IRS are one in 175. Your chances of becoming president of the U.S. are one in 10,000,000. Your chances of winning the Megabucks Slot Machine Jackpot are one in 50 million. Your chances of giving birth to two sets of identical twins at once?
Seventy million to one, which is right up there with, well…someone has to win the lottery, right?
A woman in Houston, Texas has four baby boys to crow about, which for just about any parent would be an event unto itself. But now 36-year-old Tressa Montalvo can add "had two sets of identical twins" to her bucket list.
Via Miss Cellania
January 30, 2013
Arma virumque cano
Mr. Marrocco was the first person to survive losing all four limbs in the war.
Iraq War Vet Brendan Marrocco Gets Double Arm Transplant
A team of surgeons at Johns Hopkins Hospital has performed the hospital's first successful bilateral arm transplant -- giving two new arms to Brendan Marrocco, an Iraq war veteran.
"I feel great. I'm doing a lot better now," said Marrocco, 26, during a news conference Tuesday of his recovery from last month's procedure. "It gives me a lot of hope for the future."
Members of Marrocco's surgical team, led by Dr. W.P. Andrew Lee, provided details today in Baltimore on exactly how the doctors did the rare transplant and prevented Marrocco's body from rejecting the new limbs.
(No disrespect intended, but I just couldn't resist the pun.)
January 18, 2013
Dear Abby, RIP
'Dear Abby' advice columnist dies at age 94
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Pauline Friedman Phillips, who under the name of Abigail Van Buren, wrote the long-running "Dear Abby" advice column that was followed by millions of newspaper readers throughout the world, has died. She was 94. [...]
Phillips' column competed for decades with the advice column of Ann Landers, written by her twin sister, Esther Friedman Lederer. [...]
The two columns differed in style. Ann Landers responded to questioners with homey, detailed advice. Abby's replies were often flippant one-liners.
Naturally, I thought of this:
January 01, 2013
Don't neglect your mother
China requires adult children to visit elderly parents or face lawsuit
BEIJING — Visit your parents. That's an order.
So says China, whose national legislature on Friday amended its law on the elderly to require that adult children visit their aged parents "often" — or risk being sued by them.
The amendment does not specify how frequently such visits should occur.
State media say the new clause will allow elderly parents who feel neglected by their children to take them to court. The move comes as reports abound of elderly parents being abandoned or ignored by their children.
December 27, 2012
Best year ever
Why 2012 was the best year ever
It may not feel like it, but 2012 has been the greatest year in the history of the world. That sounds like an extravagant claim, but it is borne out by evidence. Never has there been less hunger, less disease or more prosperity. The West remains in the economic doldrums, but most developing countries are charging ahead, and people are being lifted out of poverty at the fastest rate ever recorded. The death toll inflicted by war and natural disasters is also mercifully low. We are living in a golden age.
To listen to politicians is to be given the opposite impression — of a dangerous, cruel world where things are bad and getting worse. This, in a way, is the politicians' job: to highlight problems and to try their best to offer solutions. But the great advances of mankind come about not from statesmen, but from ordinary people.
December 26, 2012
No kissing involved, I hope
Study: Mistletoe Effective Against Colon Cancer
SOUTH AUSTRALIA, Australia (CBSDC) – Researchers at the University of Adelaide in Australia have found another purpose for mistletoe – apart from helping potential suitors steal kisses around the holidays.
Mistletoe could also be used to help the effectiveness of chemotherapy, or could even act as an alternative to chemotherapy for treatment of colon cancer, according to Newswise.
December 12, 2012
What a jewel
That Cat Is a Real Jewel: How Some Furry Friends Stay Precious
Natalie Pilon's diamond is her best friend.
Every time she looks into the ring on her finger, Ms. Pilon sees Meowy, her late beloved silver cat. Meowy really is there: The ring's two diamonds were made from her cremated remains.
"It's a little eccentric—not something everyone would do," says Ms. Pilon, a biotech sales representative in Boston, whose cat passed away last year. "It's a way for me to remember my cat, and have her with me all the time."
December 06, 2012
Fly me to the moon
At $750 megabucks per ride, I'm guessing there won't be a lot of takers. Still, if you hit a big lottery...
Golden Spike Company Announces Regular Trips to the Moon. Soon!
A new commercial venture will offer regular cheap(ish) trips to the surface of the moon by the end of the decade to anyone who wants to fork over the cash. The Golden Spike Company makes its official debut today at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. in just a few minutes.
November 21, 2012
Today's PSA (8)
The philosophy of television
World Television Day
In recognition of the increasing impact television has on decision-making by bringing world attention to conflicts and threats to peace and security and its potential role in sharpening the focus on other major issues, including economic and social issues, the United Nations General Assembly proclaimed 21 November as World Television Day (through resolution 51/205 of 17 December 1996).
World Television Day is not so much a celebration of the tool, but rather the philosophy which it represents. Television represents a symbol for communication and globalization in the contemporary world.
October 30, 2012
Beware the pulse
Boeing's CHAMP missile uses radio waves to remotely disable PCs
On October 16th, researchers from Boeing and the US Air Force successfully test-launched a missile capable of remotely disabling PCs and other electronics with only a burst of powerful radio waves. The test was held over the Western Utah Desert as part of the Counter-electronics High-powered Microwave Advanced Missile Project (CHAMP), a collaborative effort from Boeing Phantom Works and the US Air Force Research Laboratory Directed Energy Directorate. The project's aim is to create a missile that can remotely paralyze electronic systems with minimal collateral damage — a capability that, according to Boeing, could one day transform modern warfare.
August 30, 2012
There's an app for that (6)
Ingestible sensor sends health data to your phone
An ingestible sensor, Proteus, is a brand-new device that can monitor a variety of health metrics from within the patient's body.
August 15, 2012
The CraigsList Experiment
I just hope Mr. Auld (the author) doesn't owe a mortgage for his degree.
Get A Job: The Craigslist Experiment
I am a 26-year-old with a Master's degree in English. I am currently looking for a full-time job, preferably in a major city, since that's where a vast multitude of jobs exist.
Unfortunately, so do an even vaster multitude of job-seekers. [...]
I had to find out more on where I stood in this uncertain job market. I thought that if I could figure at least a piece of that out, then maybe I could improve my job hunting techniques, and, maybe then — just maybe — an employer would actually call me back.
So I conducted an experiment: I invented a job and posted it to Craigslist. [...]
In the end, I produced this ad:Administrative Assistant needed for busy Midtown office. Hours are Monday through Friday, nine to five. Job duties include: filing, copying, answering phones, sending e-mails, greeting clients, scheduling appointments. Previous experience in an office setting preferred, but will train the right candidate. This is a full-time position with health benefits. Please e-mail résumé if interested. Compensation: $12-$13 per hour.
[...] A lot of résumés” is an egregious understatement.
I published the ad at exactly 2:41P.M. on Thursday. The first response came in at 2:45—just four minutes later. Ten minutes later, there were 10 responses. Twenty minutes later, there were 56. An hour later: 164. Six hours: 431.
At 2:41P.M. on Friday — exactly 24 hours after I posted the ad — there were 653 responses in my brand new inbox. Not wanting to face any more after that, I promptly removed the ad from Craigslist.
August 10, 2012
This is pretty cool.
Why are Americans so…
A map of American state stereotypes, generated by Google autocomplete.
In the months before a US Presidential election, the quality of political discourse hits new lows. Blue State/Red State tropes dominate the news cycle as the media gins up outrage over perceived injustices in the culture wars. It's all about our differences. So I started wondering, how do Americans really think about "those people" in other states? What are the most common stereotypes? For each of the fifty states and DC, I asked Google: "Why is [State] so " and let it autocomplete. It seemed like an ideal question to get at popular assumptions, since "Why is [State] so X?" presupposes that X is true.
The map above displays the results - just hover over the states. Most of the terms are about what we'll call "culture," or about the weather. Politics and economics also figure prominently.
Via Coyote Blog
August 01, 2012
Milk carton kid finds himself
Pa. man solves missing child case - his own
(CBS News) A year ago, a Philadelphia man clicked on a website for missing children, and found a picture of himself. That discovery sent Steve Carter on a search to unlock the secrets of his past.
Carter always knew he was adopted, but when got older, he started to wonder who his biological parents were. That curiosity and a simple web search took him on a journey that would change his life and even now, there are parts of his story that remain a mystery.
Really, the comforting side in most conspiracy theory arguments is the one claiming that anyone who's in power has any plan at all. - Randall Munroe at xkcd.
July 27, 2012
One-legged dancer doesn't miss a step in tap career
Evan Ruggiero has long dreamed of a career as an entertainer, and his talent for tap dancing has played a big role in his plans. So when he was diagnosed with bone cancer in his right leg in October 2009, it was more than just a shock. Ruggiero had to come to terms with just how much tap meant to him — and what it would take to persevere.
"I was all about getting rid of the cancer, but when could I dance again?" Ruggiero, 21, says recently by phone from his hometown, Old Bridge, N.J. Ultimately, the leg had to be amputated.
"You can imagine how angry and upset I was," he says. But Ruggiero took inspiration from a famous one-legged tap legend: Clayton "Peg Leg" Bates, who brilliantly coordinated his right leg with a wooden one.
"A lot of times I look at his videos and say, 'Oh, yeah, that's a cool step,'" says Ruggiero, who wears a peg leg on stage. [...]
The peg leg is for dancing only, Ruggiero says.
"My everyday walking leg, that I wear all the time, is what's called a C-Leg (for "computer leg")," he says. "It has a bunch of microprocessors in it, and a mechanical and hydraulic knee. It gives me the smoothest walk any amputee can have."
July 20, 2012
Pregnancy No Barrier to Malaysian's Olympic Journey
KUALA LUMPUR — As she prepares to make her Olympic debut later this month, Nur Suryani Mohamed Taibi's greatest fear is not that she may succumb to the pressure that comes with being the first woman to represent Malaysia in shooting.
Rather, Nur Suryani is worried about whether the baby girl inside her will kick just as she pulls the trigger: The Olympian will be eight months pregnant when she competes.
The 29-year-old Malaysian, who is ranked 47th in the world in the 10-meter air rifle event, is set to join an exclusive club of women who have competed in the Olympics while pregnant.
July 18, 2012
Tour the moon
July 16, 2012
Here's a sample: the Guardian Angel acupuncture device
July 14, 2012
Happy birthday, Spam
Video at the link
Happy Birthday, Spam! America's favorite canned meat turns 75
Spam turns 75 years old this July, and it's celebrating with a new mascot and a party at its chief US manufacturing plant. Once a staple of soldiers' diets, Spam's reluctant legacy may be as the clown of the food world.
June 27, 2012
I'm reminded of something the writer Pico Iyer told me about the Dalai Lama. Whenever the head of Tibetan Buddhism visits Japan he is asked how the country can improve. His devotees expect an answer along the lines of deeper spiritual contemplation or a stronger commitment to peace. According to Iyer, the Dalai Lama consistently deflates his audience with the practical admonition: "Learn English."
- David Pilling, interviewing Hiroshi Mikitani in the Financial Times.
June 25, 2012
Israeli scientists take the high out of weed
In a move unlikely to win Israel new friends abroad, Israeli scientists have figured out how to neutralize the chemical in marijuana that makes users high.
A new type of marijuana developed in Israel contains no tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, the active ingredient in the cannabis plant that causes mind-altering effects when the plant is smoked.
Instead, the new breed contains a higher level of cannabidiol (CBD), another component of the plant which is not high-inducing, but does offer beneficial effects for patients suffering from various symptoms.
June 20, 2012
Scanning past the graveyard
Whoa! What a thought...
Are Grave QR Codes The Next Big Thing?
Heather Weis put a QR code on her son's grave who died from brain cancer. When scanned with a smart phone, the code will direct an Internet browser to Nicholas Weis' memorial web page.
May 12, 2012
Six Generations of Daughters – From Baby to 111-Year-Old Great, Great, Great Grandmother
A Virginia family will have a lot of moms to fuss over this Mother’s Day.
The family has an astonishing six generations of daughters still living. The matriarch of the family, Mollie Wood, was born in 1901 and just marked her 111th birthday. The youngest addition to the family, Braylin Marie Higgins, was born in March to Wood’s great, great, great granddaughter.
Via Laughing Squid
May 11, 2012
Our tax dollars at work
This Is Not a Joke: Government Issues Study of a Study About Studies
The Pentagon was inundated with so many studies in 2010 that it commissioned a study to determined how much it cost to produce all those studies.
Now the Government's Accounting Office has reviewed the Pentagon's study and concluded in a report this week that it's a flop.
The study of a study of studies began in 2010 when Defense Secretary Robert Gates complained that his department was "awash in taskings for reports and studies." He wanted to know how much they cost.
Two years later, the Pentagon review is still continuing, which prompted Congress to ask the GAO to look over the Pentagon's shoulder. What they found lacked military precision.
May 02, 2012
45 minute 'cures'
Hangover Heaven is a revolutionary new treatment that can cure your hangover in less than 45 minutes. Hangover Heaven involves placing a small IV in your arm to give you the necessary treatment to continue the party or just get back to your normal self. We use small Pediatric IV’s and numbing medicine to make the process very comfortable. Our founder, Dr. Jason Burke, completed his training in Anesthesiology at Duke University, one of the best medical centers in the world. He has practiced anesthesia for over ten years and is highly regarded by his peers. Here is his philosophy on Hangovers:
April 28, 2012
Greatest car ad evah
"Jesus Tap-Dancing Christ" The Greatest Craigslist Car Ad Ever
I know it's a bold claim, to say you've found the best Craigslist car ad ever. When a site exists where you could likely see an ad offering a 1985 Isuzu Stylus in exchange for a wood-burning set and 20 minutes of fellatio, the bar is pretty high. With that in mind, let's say this is the finest intentionally entertaining Craigslist car ad ever.
UPDATE Here's an interview with the two guys behind this amazing ad.
The owner, Joe, who seems to either have some decent design skills or an easily conned friend with said skills, is offering a 1995 Pontiac Grand Am GT for the low price of $700, marked down from the expected price of $199,999. His hyperbolic rhetoric about the car has an intoxicating effect, and I'm actually feeling like I want– no, I need– this Clinton-era example of what Americans can build at their absolute unfettered best.
(Click to enlarge)
April 26, 2012
Brother, can you spare a dime?
Using U.S. Dollars, Zimbabwe Finds a Problem: No Change
HARARE, Zimbabwe — When Zimbabweans say they are waiting for change, they are usually talking about politics. After all, the country has had the same leader since 1980.
But these days, Robson Madzumbara spends a lot of time quite literally waiting around for change. Pocket change, that is. He waits for it at supermarkets, on the bus, at the vegetable stall he runs and just about anywhere he buys or sells anything.
“We never have enough change,” he said, manning the vegetable stall he has run for the past two decades. “Change is a big problem in Zimbabwe.”
For years, Zimbabwe was infamous for the opposite problem: mind-boggling inflation. Trips to the supermarket required ridiculous boxloads of cash. By January 2009, the country was churning out bills worth 100 trillion Zimbabwean dollars, which were soon so worthless they would not buy a loaf of bread (the notes now circulate on eBay, as gag gifts).
But since Zimbabwe started using the United States dollar as its currency in 2009, it has run into a surprising quandary. Once worth too little, money in Zimbabwe is now worth too much.
“For your average Zimbabwean, a dollar is a lot of money,” said Tony Hawkins, an economist at the University of Zimbabwe.
Zimbabweans call it “the coin problem.” Simply put, the country hardly has any. Coins are heavy, making them expensive to ship here. But in a nation where millions of people live on a dollar or two a day, trying to get every transaction to add up to a whole dollar has proved a national headache.
Still, the new predicament is an improvement. By virtually wiping out inflation, analysts say, use of the United States dollar saved Zimbabwe from total economic collapse and brought the country back from the brink. The country’s political future remains deeply unsettled since the disputed 2008 election gave way to a shaky power-sharing government. But its economy is growing, if from a very low base.
March 27, 2012
I'm thinking this started with a crazy lab party
Red Wine, Tartaric Acid, and the Secret of Superconductivity
Last year, a group of Japanese physicists grabbed headlines around the world by announcing that they could induce superconductivity in a sample of iron telluride by soaking it in red wine. They found that other alcoholic drinks also worked--white wine, beer, sake and so on--but red wine was by far the best.
The question, of course, is why. What is it about red wine that doe the trick?
March 26, 2012
Visit the Amazon on World Forest Day with Street View
March 21, 2012 at 4:21 PM
Last August, a few members of our Brazil and U.S. Street View and Google Earth Outreach teams were invited to the Amazon Basin to collect ground-level images of the rivers, forest and communities in the Rio Negro Reserve. Today, on World Forest Day, we’re making those images available through the Street View feature on Google Maps.
March 23, 2012
Cry 'Havoc!' and let slip the snails of war
I wonder if they've nicknamed them Phobos and Deimos?
The Snails of War
The electric snail is here. There’s an electric cockroach too.
Both are early experimental forays in a new line of research aimed at creating tiny, self-powered animal/machine hybrids as an alternative to tiny robots.
March 22, 2012
Vibrator jokes get a new lease on life
Nokia patents tattoos and stickers that vibrate when you get a call
If you think cell phones are invasive now, just wait — Nokia has patented a tattoo that vibrates when someone calls or texts you.
The tattoo would be made of ferromagnetic ink and would be able to detect a magnetic field generated by your phone in order to "transfer a perceivable stimulus to the skin," according to the U.S. patent filing, which was first brought to light by the Unwired View news site.
March 07, 2012
Meat-flavored water? This is one from a large variety of flavors from DinnerInABottle.com.
Meat water was news to me but it's been around since 2007.
February 20, 2012
What a voyageur
John Fairfax, Who Rowed Across Oceans, Dies at 74
He crossed the Atlantic because it was there, and the Pacific because it was also there.
He made both crossings in a rowboat because it, too, was there, and because the lure of sea, spray and sinew, and the history-making chance to traverse two oceans without steam or sail, proved irresistible.
In 1969, after six months alone on the Atlantic battling storms, sharks and encroaching madness, John Fairfax, who died this month at 74, became the first lone oarsman in recorded history to traverse any ocean.
In 1972, he and his girlfriend, Sylvia Cook, sharing a boat, became the first people to row across the Pacific, a yearlong ordeal during which their craft was thought lost. (The couple survived the voyage, and so, for quite some time, did their romance.)
February 08, 2012
Parts is parts
3D Printer Creates Elderly Woman's New Jawbone
When surgeons replaced the infected lower jawbone of an 83-year-old woman, they needed a fast replacement tailored to fit the patient's existing bone structure, nerves and muscles. That medical dilemma inspired a world-first achievement -- creating a customized jawbone from scratch with 3D printing technology.
January 31, 2012
Well played! (4)
Drug Testing of Legislators
Rep. Dvorak’s amendment to Rep. McMillin’s HB 1007 passed during second reading by a vote of 54 – 41 (with 4 excused and 1 not voting). It is an amendment to HB 1007 which provides for a test program whereby welfare recipients would be required to submit to and pass drug tests as a condition to receiving public benefits.
Apparently running with the notion that taxpayer dollars shouldn’t go to abusers of drugs and alcohol, Rep. Dvorak’s amendment requires legislators to submit to drug tests and a random breathalyzer test. They would have to reimburse the legislative council for the costs of these tests. If the legislator refused or failed the test, he or she would be subject to discipline or an assessed penalty by his or her chamber.
I’m hearing that, with this amendment, Rep. McMillin is no longer so enthusiastic about the bill and will not be moving it forward.
Via The Agitator
January 27, 2012
It's a record (4)
FYI: How Long-Running Is the Longest-Running Lab Experiment?
Eighty-five years so far. The pitch-drop experiment—really more of a demonstration—began in 1927 when Thomas Parnell, a physics professor at the University of Queensland in Australia, set out to show his students that tar pitch, a derivative of coal so brittle that it can be smashed to pieces with a hammer, is in fact a highly viscous fluid. It flows at room temperature, albeit extremely slowly. Parnell melted the pitch, poured it into a glass funnel, let it cool (for three years), hung the funnel over a beaker, and waited.
Eight years later, a dollop of the pitch fell from the funnel’s stem. Nine years after that, another long black glob broke into the beaker. Parnell recorded the second drop but did not live to see the third, in 1954. By then, his experiment had been squirreled away in a dusty corner of the physics department.
January 16, 2012
Here's mud in yer eye
As Ben Franklin wrote, "Behold the rain which descends from heaven upon our vineyards; there it enters the roots of the vines, to be changed into wine; a constant proof that God loves us, and loves to see us happy."
Study: Abstaining from alcohol significantly shortens life
A newly released study shows that regular drinkers are less likely to die prematurely than people who have never indulged in alcohol. You read that right: Time reports that abstaining from alcohol altogether can lead to a shorter life than consistent, moderate drinking.
Surprised? The tightly controlled study, which looked at individuals between ages 55 and 65, spanned a 20-year period and accounted for variables ranging from socioeconomic status to level of physical activity. Led by psychologist Charles Holahan of the University of Texas at Austin, it found that mortality rates were highest for those who had never had a sip, lower for heavy drinkers, and lowest for moderate drinkers who enjoyed one to three drinks per day.
December 27, 2011
Now this is a fuel surcharge
Comtel Air forces NRI passengers to raise fuel money on Amritsar-Birmingham flight
Passengers travelling by the Austria-based Comtel Air from Amritsar to Birmingham, most of whom were of Indian-origin, were asked to pay for fuel in the last leg of the journey at the Veinna stop.
More than 180 passengers were told to disembark because the airline had "ran out of cash to fund the last leg of the trip."
The passengers refused to get off the plane and were told that the flight would go to Birmingham only if 23,400 euros (20,000 pounds) was handed over.
The Austrian police were called to the aircraft during the six-hour stand-off, which only ended when passengers were escorted to cash point machines.
Many elderly and young passengers did not have any money, and had to borrow from others. The passengers were told that they and their luggage would be removed from the plane if they did not pay up.
November 25, 2011
Resistance is futile
Sounds like a spammer's dream, doesn't it?
Terminator-style info-vision takes step towards reality
The streaming of real-time information across your field of vision is a step closer to reality with the development of a prototype contact lens that could potentially provide the wearer with hands-free information updates.
In a study published today, 22 November, in IOP Publishing's Journal of Micromechanics and Microengineering, researchers constructed a computerised contact lens and demonstrated its safety by testing it on live eyes. There were no signs of adverse side effects.
At the moment, the contact lens device contains only a single pixel but the researchers see this as a "proof-of-concept" for producing lenses with multiple pixels which, in their hundreds, could be used to display short emails and text messages right before your eyes.
November 14, 2011
Superhydrophobic spray means no more clothes to wash
Ross Technology Corp is a company that specializes in steel products including non-slip flooring, security, and racks. For the tech enthusiast, that may sound a little boring, but then you hear about a byproduct of a solution they came up with to stop their steel products corroding.
Metal corrodes when it comes into contact with liquid such as water, so Ross engineers set about coming up with a coating to keep liquid away from the steel. What they ended up with is a silicon-based spray that not only kept steel dry, it could also be applied to many different surfaces and materials.
Rather than just concentrate on steel, Ross decided to create a new product based on the spray known as NeverWet, which we should all hopefully benefit from using soon.
November 13, 2011
Rhinos get upside-down helicopter ride to safety
For some endangered rhinos, a 1,000-mile road to rescue from poachers starts with a helicopter ride — hanging upside down, blindfolded and sedated.
That might sound uncomfortable, but experts say it's actually easier on the massive mammals than other means.
Plus, it's a quick way to pluck them to safety at a time when poaching for rhino horns is rampant. In South Africa alone, 341 have been killed so far this year, up from 333 for all of 2010.
The upside-down helicopter rides are provided by a project between the conservation group WWF and local government agencies in South Africa.
November 08, 2011
This comes from the "We the People" petition page at WhiteHouse.gov. It only needs 15,000 more signatures; it may be worth a cookie.
We demand a vapid, condescending, meaningless, politically safe response to this petition.
Since these petitions are ignored apart from an occasional patronizing and inane political statement amounting to nothing more than a condescending pat on the head, we the signers would enjoy having the illusion of success. Since no other outcome to this process seems possible, we demand that the White House immediately assign a junior staffer to compose a tame and vapid response to this petition, and never attempt to take any meaningful action on this or any other issue. We would also like a cookie.
November 01, 2011
This chart comes from an interactive BBC News page about The world at 7 billion. It's predicted there will be that many people alive by the end of this week.
September 30, 2011
Funnies from Edinburgh
Nick Helm's password joke is Edinburgh Fringe funniest
The up-and-coming funnyman was given the prize by digital TV channel Dave, whose panel put a selection of their favourites to a public vote. [...]
The top 10 festival funnies were judged to be:
1) Nick Helm: "I needed a password eight characters long so I picked Snow White and the Seven Dwarves."
3) Hannibal Buress: "People say 'I'm taking it one day at a time'. You know what? So is everybody. That's how time works."
5) Matt Kirshen: "I was playing chess with my friend and he said, 'Let's make this interesting'. So we stopped playing chess."
August 24, 2011
Wash down your bacon with bacon. Like a refreshing liquid pork god sent down directly into your mouth, Bacon Soda ($10) is everything you need as part of a complete breakfast. Made by the Frankenstein-flavor geniuses at the Jones Soda Company, the salty soda comes in a gift pack with a bag of J&D's Cheddar BaconPop bacon and cheddar flavored popcorn, J&D's Bacon Lip Balm, and a package of J&D's Bacon Gravy (!).
July 26, 2011
Hairy win: Olympia man is world beard champion
OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) - Burke Kenny said it's not unusual to notice people staring at his chest.
"I have to say, `I'm up here,"' he said, pointing to his face. "Just like a girl."
Of course, they're probably not really staring at his chest so much as they're looking at what's covering it: An amazingly full and curly brunet beard with auburn undertones that contrast against the straight black hair on his head.
The 26-year-old Olympia resident recently returned from the World Beard and Mustache Championships in Trondheim, Norway, where he took first place in the full beard with styled mustache category. He won the same title four years ago in England, when he became the youngest international facial hair champion. [...]
The international competition featured about 20 categories. The Americans brought home six gold medals, and four of those were grown by men from Washington state, Kenny said. Besides Kenny, they were Bruce Roe of Bremerton, who won for Hungarian mustache; Craig "Rooty" Lundvall of the Everett area, who won for full beard natural; and Keith "Ghandi Jones" Haubrich of Seattle, who won the freestyle mustache category.
July 23, 2011
Too Darn Hot (again)
After a week of unrelenting heat, we're all hoping it will cool off soon.
Mary sends this cartoon.
And Michel Legrand gives us Cole Porter's Too Darn Hot - which I heard the first of the month when we saw Kiss me, Kate at the The Muny. (And it was too darn hot that night, too.)
July 20, 2011
She's glad she's not a sleepwalker
Deep sinkhole opens under woman's bed
The first step out of bed could have been a big one.
A woman in Guatemala City reports that a sinkhole, 40 feet deep and almost 3 feet across, opened under her bed Monday.
"When we heard the loud boom we thought a gas canister from a neighboring home had exploded, or there had been a crash on the street," Inocenta Hernandez, 65, said in an Agence France-Presse report.
"We rushed out to look and saw nothing. A gentleman told me that the noise came from my house, and we searched until we found it under my bed," AFP quotes Hernandez as saying.
July 11, 2011
The cost of one hand clapping
In Belarus, one-armed man arrested for clapping
MOSCOW — The sound of one hand clapping may be one of those proverbial mysteries, but a man was arrested and seriously punished in Minsk this week for allegedly doing it.
It's a little whiff of absurdity amid a wave of unrelentingly grim news from Belarus, where "Europe's last dictator" Alexander Lukashenko is digging in against growing public protests over a collapsing economy that's gutted living standards and left hundreds of thousands out of work since January in the little post-Soviet country of 10 million.
In order to evade tough regulations on public rallies, protesters eschew placards and shouted slogans, and merely clap their hands to display their anger at Mr. Lukashenko's policies. [...]
But Konstantin Kaplin, an unemployed man from the western town of Grodno, says he was convicted this week of applauding in public and fined the equivalent of $200, despite overwhelming evidence of his innocence: He is officially registered as a disabled person and has only one arm.
July 05, 2011
skillet bacon jam
what the heck is bacon jam?...
well, we'll tell you...we take a big bunch of really, really good bacon and render it down...add a bunch of spices, onions, etc...and let it simmer for about 4 hours...give it a quick puree, and blast chill it...and you have bacon jam...
it is great on burgers, grilled cheese sammys, baked potatoes...a general baconopia of uses...
June 27, 2011
Markets in everything (11)
What's next? The Jolly Roger mutual fund?
Today's Pirates Have Their Own Stock Exchange
Pirates are on a hot streak this season. World-wide, the first quarter of 2011 saw 142 recorded attacks, up from 67 in that time last year. Off the coast of Somalia there were 97, as against 35 last year. Why? Despite some efforts by Western powers to patrol the Horn of Africa, pirates are still able to access capital, as any successful business must.
The world's first pirate stock exchange was established in 2009 in Harardheere, some 250 miles northeast of Mogadishu, Somalia. Open 24 hours a day, the exchange allows investors to profit from ransoms collected on the high seas, which can approach $10 million for successful attacks against Western commercial vessels.
While there are no credible statistics available, reports from various news sources suggest that over 70 entities are listed on the Harardheere exchange. When a pirate operation is successful, it pays investors a share of the profits. According to a former pirate who spoke to Reuters, "The shares are open to all and everybody can take part, whether personally at sea or on land by providing cash, weapons or useful materials. . . . We've made piracy a community activity."
June 21, 2011
What a legacy
U.K. Soldier Killed in Afghanistan Leaves Friends $160G for Las Vegas Party
YORK, England – A British soldier killed by a Taliban bomb in Afghanistan left $161,500 in his will -- so his friends could go on vacation to Las Vegas, The Sun reported Monday.
Royal Marine David Hart, who had taken out a $403,800 life insurance policy before he was deployed to Afghanistan, stipulated in a letter that in the event of his death, his friends and their partners should travel to Sin City for a massive party in his memory.
"In his letter David said he had had a great life and had no regrets about anything. He always said he would do something like this if something bad happened," friend Andy Hare said. "He said, 'Go and have a good time and spend all this money."
June 03, 2011
A country run by crazy people
Flooded-out farmer needs permit to remove fish
SABREVOIS, Que. - Bureaucrats have added insult to injury for a corn farmer south of Montreal whose fields have been damaged by near-record flooding.
Martin Reid says he's been forced to buy a fishing licence to remove carp that are swimming in a metre of water on his flooded-out fields.
He says he bought the permit to avoid the problems he faced the last time he was forced to remove fish from his flooded farmland. In 1993, Reid was fined $1,000 for illegal fishing. [...]
Reid says the fine will jump to $100,000 if he's cited a second time. [...]
A spokesman for the provincial natural resources department defended Ottawa's decision.
"The idea is to help farmers," said Jean-Philippe Detolle. "The licence was issued to reassure them they won't be fined."
H.T. Jeff G
June 01, 2011
Here's one of many funny entries from Shit My Students Write:
Rebels and onions got no respect.
The rebel and onion armies showed grose negligence by having many of their battles right inside national parks, like Gettysburg.
May 06, 2011
Helicopter gunships up for grabs online
Cash-strapped Ukrainian military leaders are selling off their lethal fleet of helicopter gunships - on an eBay-style website.
The deadly Russian-built Mil Mi-8 and Mi-171 attack aircraft are armed to the teeth with guided anti-tank missiles, rockets and armour-shredding chainguns.
Punters can spend up to £7.3 million for a hardly used fully loaded model with cheaper, older transport choppers going for a bargain £266,000.
"We can deliver anywhere," says the ad, posted by the Ukraine's defence ministry.
May 04, 2011
How to steal a car
I assume this really happened and wasn't just staged. The video's several years old.
H.T. Tucson John
April 28, 2011
Not the end of an era?
The end of the line: Last typewriter factory left in the world closes its doors
It's an invention that revolutionised the way we work, becoming an essential piece of office equipment for the best part of a century.
But after years of sterling service, that bane for secretaries has reached the end of the line.
Godrej and Boyce - the last company left in the world that was still manufacturing typewriters - has shut down its production plant in Mumbai, India with just a few hundred machines left in stock.
Don't Believe the Type! World's Last Typewriter Maker Alive and Well in NJ
Nostalgic newspaper reports around the globe lamented the death of the typewriter recently, as Indian manufacturer Godrej and Boyce announced its intentions to pull the plug on its Mumbai factory.
After decades of use and trillions of typed characters, the typewriter appeared to have written its own swan song.
Not so fast.
Despite the surge in popularity of PCs, and their smaller digital cousins the iPads, the typewriter is far from dead, said Ed Michael, general manager of sales at Moonachie, N.J.-based Swintec. So forget Godrej: Swintec seems to be the last typewriter maker in operation.
April 26, 2011
If you think $4 per gallon is high
Try $64 per gallon (at today's exchange rate).
Petrol station charges €9.99 a litre for gas
Police were called after a petrol station near Stuttgart began charging €9.99 per litre ($40 per gallon) of super gasoline amid dwindling supplies on Easter Monday.
In the town of Filderstadt, south of the Baden-Württemberg capital, the Esso petrol station apparently raised the price to a prohibitive level in a deliberate attempt to dissuade motorists from buying it, police reported. The station was running low on the fuel amid a nationwide shortage. [...]
Customer Yunus G. told daily Bild he put 21 litres in his BMW and was asked to pay €209.98.
April 21, 2011
Mat Jarvis is helping people to help Japan recover from the earthquake and tsunami with his Japan Relief Fund.
If you make a donation to any Red Cross organization, Mat will give you an album of some very nice electronic music. The album is called Near Silence. (Cover art at right.)
I donated to the American Red Cross and Mat sent me a link to the zipped MP3 album. I particularly like a cut called Wenn der Südwind Weht. (I think that means If the south wind blows.)
But you can sample all the cuts at Mat's site. It's a simple process:
1 Donate any amount to any Red Cross.
2 Forward the donation receipt email you'll receive from the Red Cross to firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll send you the full album.
3 There is no step three.
Visit the site to check it out.
April 11, 2011
49 years on the bench
This reminds of the Kingston Trio singing Bad Man's Blunder.
Federal judge, 103, still hearing cases in Kansas
WICHITA, Kan. -- In a courtroom in Wichita, the day begins much as it has for the past 49 years: Court is in session, U.S. District Judge Wesley Brown presiding. But what happens next is no longer routine; it's a testament to one man's sheer determination.
As lawyers and litigants wait in respectful silence, Brown, who is 103, carefully steers his power wheelchair behind the bench, his stooped frame almost disappearing behind its wooden bulk. He adjusts under his nose the plastic tubes from the oxygen tank lying next to the day's case documents. Then his voice rings out loud and firm to his law clerk, "Call your case."
April 06, 2011
Best things in life no longer free
Coalition plans tax on fresh air to 'help improve environment'
THE air we breathe is set to be taxed as part of a revolutionary Government plan to raise more money.
Rural folk will have to cough up the most under the new charge – already dubbed a gasp bill – while those living in our polluted cities will be expected to pay less.
The Air Tariff Control system will assess charges in different areas of the country and every household will be liable for payments, which will be administered by local authorities and added to council tax bills.
The project, to be run by a private firm under a five-year licence, is designed to fund air quality improvement initiatives.
One senior air technician at the Environment Agency said: "Air is natural but, just like water, it is a finite resource that we have to manage sensibly. Water quality and supply improved with privatisation and there is no reason why this should not have the same impact on air. The aim is to allow everyone to enjoy high-quality breathing air."
March 28, 2011
Carbonate your fruit
In an effort to make fruit fun for the kids, I built a carbon dioxide injector from parts in my garage with the purpose of carbonating whole fruit! With a common house water filter housing, a 16 Oz paintball CO2 canister, an old gas regulator, and some miscellaneous valves and fittings, I was able to bring this fizz fruit apparatus to life, and the kids love the results.
March 18, 2011
The right to bear pitchforks
Pitchfork Rights Case
In State v. Fried (Ariz. Just. Ct. Mar. 5), defendant was carrying a pitchfork as a political protest, and tried to enter the County Administration Building; the County Manager insisted that defendant leave the pitchfork outside, the defendant nonetheless entered the building with the pitchfork, and the defendant was then prosecuted for trespass.
Held: The defendant must be found not guilty because,Without addressing any First Amendment protections which may be applicable to the Defendant, the Court concludes that the County Manager’s decision to allow members of the public with holstered handguns to access the building but deny access to the Defendant because he had a “holstered” pitchfork was arbitrary, capricious, and unreasonable.
February 15, 2011
Pay attention, people
That's what Steve R said when he passed this item along.
L.A. County Employee Found Dead in Cubicle a Day Later
DOWNEY (KTLA) -- An L.A. County employee apparently died while working in her cubicle on Friday, but no one noticed for quite some time.
51-year-old Rebecca Wells was found by a security guard on Saturday afternoon. She was slumped over on her desk in the L.A. County Department of Internal Services.
"I came in Saturday to do a little work, and I saw them when they were taking her out," co-worker Hattie Robertson told KTLA.
The exact time of death is not clear, but detectives say that, at worst, she had been dead for a day before her body was discovered.
February 07, 2011
Today's irony update
Calif. cap-trade plan dealt blow by S.F. judge
The California Air Resources Board violated state environmental law in 2008 when it adopted a comprehensive plan to reduce greenhouse gases and again last year when it passed cap-and-trade regulations, a San Francisco Superior Court judge has ruled in a tentative decision.
If the decision is made final, California would be barred from implementing its ambitious plan to combat global warming until it complies with portions of the California Environmental Quality Act, though it is not yet clear what the air board would have to do to be in compliance. The state's plan, which implements AB32, the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006, would reduce carbon emissions to 1990 levels by 2020.
February 04, 2011
Woolly Mammoth Resurrection, "Jurassic Park" Planned
A team of Japanese genetic scientists aims to bring woolly mammoths back to life and create a Jurassic Park-style refuge for resurrected species. The effort has garnered new attention as a frozen mammoth is drawing crowds at the 2005 World Exposition in Aichi, Japan (see photo).
The team of scientists, which is not associated with the exhibit, wants to do more than just put a carcass on display. They aim to revive the Ice Age plant-eaters, 10,000 years after they went extinct.
January 28, 2011
Hockey players speak
Steve R sends a link to the 50 Greatest Hockey Quotes of all Time. Some of them are pretty funny, like this one.
You can always get someone to do your thinking for you.
Gordie Howe after being asked why players always wear a cup, but not always a helmet
January 26, 2011
There's no monopoly like a State monopoly.
'Communist Monopoly' Teaches Downside of Socialist Life
A Polish research institute has developed a board game to teach young people about life under Communism. In the game, which is inspired by Monopoly, players must wait in endless lines at stores for scarce goods. For added realism, they have to put up with people cutting in line and products running out -- unless they have a "colleague in the government" card.
A self-made engineer
UK engineer develops own life-saving implant
In 2000, Tal Golesworthy, a process engineer from Tewkesbury, was told that the aortic root in his heart had expanded to 4.8cm and was in danger of splitting. He had two choices; undergo surgery to insert a mechanical valve or risk a sudden and fatal heart attack.
The first option filled him with almost as much dread as the second. The surgery would mean that he would be placed on Warfarin, a blood-thinning drug that carries the risk of severe bleeding. [...]
But Golesworthy thought he could engineer a better solution. What excited him was the use of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and computer-aided design (CAD). He believed that by combining these technologies with rapid prototyping (RP) techniques he could manufacture a tailor-made support that would act as an internal bandage to keep his aorta in place.
December 30, 2010
The 7 billionth person
An interesting video from The Economist about global population growth.
It's worth a couple of minutes to read the letters in this post. The second is priceless.
Absolutely Epic 1974 Letter From Cleveland Browns to a Fan
In November of 1974, a Browns fan and season ticket holder sent a letter to the team regarding a concern of his.
The Cleveland Browns (specifically, their general counsel) sent back an absolutely epic response.
Here are their two letters (click on images to enlarge):
December 03, 2010
Read the 4th
Some one has his finger on the pulse. Here's a site where you can buy 4th Amendment underclothes -- underwear with the 4th amendment to the US Constitution printed in metallic ink. I'd like to see how this flies at a real airport.
November 30, 2010
Here's mud in your eye
Drink more whisky. Save the Earth.
When Scotch whisky is distilled, it leaves behind two main waste products — a liquid called pot ale and draff, the remains of the grains used in the distilling method. These two waste products are being used by researchers at Edinburgh Napier University in Scotland to create a new biofuel.
According to the Guardian, the Scottish have a £4 billion ($6.2 billion) a year whisky habit, and that habit leaves "copious quantities" of both pot ale and draff that in the past has gone unused. This biofuel can be used in regular cars — meaning there's no need to adapt the engine as there is with some other biofuels. Researchers also say it's possible the biofuel could be used to fuel planes.
November 29, 2010
The fierce Kingda Ka is the tallest coaster in the World, fastest in North America. This remarkable thrill ride breaks all world records for coaster speed and height, zooming from 0 to 128 mph in 3.5 seconds and catapulting you 45 stories into the sky.
November 25, 2010
After 50 days adrift, 3 teens rescued in S Pacific
Three teens who have been missing in the South Pacific for 50 days - and were already eulogized in a memorial service - have been found alive by a New Zealand fishing boat.
The boys, two 15-year-olds and a 14-year-old, disappeared while attempting to row between two islands in the New Zealand territory of Tokelau in early October and were given up for dead after an extensive search involving New Zealand's air force.
Their craft had drifted 800 miles (1,300 kilometers) to a desolate part of the Pacific northeast of Fiji, when the crew of a tuna boat saw them frantically waving for help on Wednesday afternoon.
"All they could say was `thank you very much for stopping,'" Tai Fredricsen, first mate of the San Nikuna, said.
November 17, 2010
No, I don't think they'll forget this trip
Pirates free British couple after year in captivity
NAIROBI, Kenya -- A British couple who had been kidnapped by Somali pirates and held in captivity in a remote, sweltering patch of central Somalia for more than a year was finally released, Somali officials said Sunday, apparently after a ransom was paid.
The couple, Paul and Rachel Chandler, were hijacked in October 2009 while sailing in a small yacht in the Indian Ocean in what they had described to friends as "the trip of a lifetime."
November 16, 2010
An interesting read when you have the time.
Max Hardberger: Repo man of the seas
May 1987. The day after the Naruda had finished offloading its rice cargo in Haiti, armed guards boarded the freighter. Moments later the captain, Max Hardberger, had a grubby, badly photocopied piece of paper placed in his hands. "Pour les dettes," the guard said.
"What debts?" Hardberger asked.
The guard shrugged and said: "It's a matter for the courts. In the meantime my men will remain on board."
There were no debts, but that was beside the point. Haiti was a law unto itself; a place where court officials could be bought. And one clearly had been. The Naruda was about to be stolen from under Hardberger's nose. [...]
Hardberger started the engines, switched off all the lights and sneaked out of harbour. If they were spotted, the Naruda would be seized, and he'd be slung in jail. Only when he was in international waters could he relax. Hardberger called down to the guards. He offered to set them loose in a lifeboat or take them to Venezuela; the choice was theirs. They chose the lifeboat."
November 07, 2010
Damn you, auto correct!
It's pretty funny - check it out. I assume the posts are all submitted by real people.
November 05, 2010
Nothin' up his sleeve
Alexander Anderson Jr. dies at 90; created TV cartoon characters Rocky, Bullwinkle and others
Alexander Anderson Jr., a pioneer television cartoonist who created the landmark duo of Crusader Rabbit and Rags the Tiger and two of TV's most enduring characters, Rocky and Bullwinkle, has died. He was 90.
H.T. Steve R
November 03, 2010
"Just the thing for a late-night snack," says Ms. M.
New Imaging Technology Shows Animal Insides, Python Digesting a Rat
Science is inherently cool, but gross science is even better.
Using a combination of computer tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), scientists Kasper Hansen and Henrik Lauridsen of Aarhus University in Denmark were able to visualize the entire internal organ structures and vascular systems (aka "guts") of a Burmese Python digesting a rat.
October 27, 2010
Here's your chance
Fiberglass Freaks' Officially Licensed 1966 BATMOBILE® Replica $150,000
Here is your chance to own a gorgeous and authentic replica of the most famous car in the world. Our replicas have all the great features that you remember, too–the double bubble windshields, those loooong fins, a working flame thrower out the rear, the highly-polished aluminum roll-top dashboard, the flashing red beacon light, and many more.
October 18, 2010
Facebook to the rescue
Girl, 2, saved by Facebook after family friend spots eye cancer in photo taken by mother
A toddler's life has been saved after a nurse spotted she had cancer by looking at a photo on Facebook.
Nicola Sharp was browsing through friend Michele Freeman's profile when she saw a photograph of Michele's two-and-a-half-year-old daughter Grace.
The flash photograph showed Grace with a white pupil in her left eye instead of the 'red eye' tint most people would have - a sign of eye cancer.
Nicola, 42, who has worked in paediatrics for more than 20 years, immediately contacted Michele and Grace was later diagnosed with retinoblastoma. She was found to have two tumours and lost all sight in her left eye.
October 07, 2010
Gimme a head with hair
Austrian town hosts European beard contest
LEOGANG, Austria — Wearers of spectacular beards and moustaches gathered in the Austrian town of Leogang for a Europe-wide facial hair contest, organisers said. [...]
Categories included "Freestyle Beard", "Natural Moustache" and "Verdi", a beard in the style of the famous 19th century Italian composer Giuseppi Verdi.
September 30, 2010
First World War officially ends
The First World War will officially end on Sunday, 92 years after the guns fell silent, when Germany pays off the last chunk of reparations imposed on it by the Allies.
The final payment of £59.5 million, writes off the crippling debt that was the price for one world war and laid the foundations for another.
Germany was forced to pay the reparations at the Treaty of Versailles in 1919 as compensation to the war-ravaged nations of Belgium and France and to pay the Allies some of the costs of waging what was then the bloodiest conflict in history, leaving nearly ten million soldiers dead.
The initial sum agreed upon for war damages in 1919 was 226 billion Reichsmarks, a sum later reduced to 132 billion, £22 billion at the time.
The bill would have been settled much earlier had Adolf Hitler not reneged on reparations during his reign.
September 27, 2010
Local news from the Belleville News-Democrat
Ex-trooper convicted in double fatal crash wants money for his injuries
Former Illinois State trooper Matt Mitchell is asking the state to compensate him for injuries from a crash in which he hit and killed two Collinsville sisters at triple-digit speeds.
Mitchell filed a worker's compensation case on Sept. 13 against the Illinois State Police. The case is pending. [...]
Three worker's compensation lawyers say they believe Mitchell could receive compensation for the injuries he received in a Nov. 23, 2007, high-speed crash that resulted in the deaths of sisters Kelli and Jessica Uhl and injured Kelly and Christine Marler, of Fayetteville. [...]
Mitchell was driving 126 mph in busy day-after-Thanksgiving traffic on Interstate 64 near O'Fallon while sending and receiving e-mails and talking to his girlfriend on his cell phone moments before the crash.
September 23, 2010
The Khan academy
Paul B asks, "Why haven't I heard of this until now?"
The Khan Academy is a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) with the mission of providing a world-class education to anyone, anywhere. Despite being the work of one man, Salman Khan, this 1600+ video library is the most-used educational video resource as measured by YouTube video views per day and unique users per month. We are complementing this ever-growing library with user-paced exercises--developed as an open source project--allowing the Khan Academy to become the free classroom for the World.
September 18, 2010
What's its motto?
I made a trip to central Arkansas at the end of the week. While driving through Missouri's bootheel, where they grow a lot of cotton and soybeans, I saw a road sign for a place called Braggadocio. It's about half-way between Cape Girardeau and Memphis.
I'd never heard of such a place and thought that was quite a handle for a town -- especially one small enough to have escaped my notice so far. I started wondering what the town's motto was and figured it must be something like this:
September 13, 2010
How it should have ended
Danilo sends a link to HowItShouldHaveEnded, a collection of animated alternative endings for well-known movies. They're pretty entertaining, if you don't mind the ads. My favorite was the Lord of the Rings parody.
September 10, 2010
Anti-Facebook Project to Launch Sept 15
The Diaspora project, or as some call it, Anti-Facebook, is coming this September. Before we talk about it, let's learn a few details.
What is it anyway?
Diaspora is an ambitious project taken up by 4 computer science graduates at NYU. They plan to make an open source, de-centralized and personally controlled social network, so that you have better control of your privacy.
Why is it called the Anti-Facebook project?
There have been many privacy issues with Facebook over the years. These guys at NYU were talking about the privacy issues and decided to build a more secure social network that's privately controlled.
How does it work?
It connects user's computers directly, without any centralized server. Let's take a look at an example:
September 03, 2010
Nine well-known logos explained here.
The Milwaukee Brewers is a professional baseball team from Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Their logo is actually made up of the letters M (on top) and B (below the m). These two letters also form a baseball glove.
Hat tip: Steve R.
August 26, 2010
There are a lot of interesting bits to this story. Ya gotta love a robot that tweetw 'Hello, World'.
Robot Makes One Giant Leap for Twitter
Your best friend, your boss and your grandma are already on Twitter, and now the revolution is complete. A NASA crew member is now updating the universe, and it's not even human.
We're talking about a new robot slated to head to the International Space Station this fall. (It kind of looks like The Rocketeer on steroids.) Eventually, the robot could help perform tasks that are too dangerous for mankind. But right now, it's embarking into a brave new world of cyberspace.
Here's its first tweet:
"Hello World! My name is Robonaut 2 -- R2 for short."
August 24, 2010
Assault with intent to elbow
I'd really like to hear what a judge would have said about his claim that Ms. Tyska was "intentionally swinging her elbow into his car." (And do you think he kisses his mother with that mouth? Tsk, tsk.)
Tribune photojournalist gets settlement after run-in with Oakland school police officer
OAKLAND -- The Oakland school district has agreed to pay $99,000 to settle a lawsuit filed by a photojournalist over a confrontation with its former police chief during an October 2008 protest.
Jane Tyska, who works for Bay Area News Group's Oakland Tribune, was covering an immigration march in East Oakland's Fruitvale neighborhood when she was grazed by a squad car driven by Art Michel, the school district's former police chief.
Michel accused Tyska of intentionally swinging her elbow into his car, blocking the street, and trying to incite a riot among the mostly teenage protesters. Tyska's camera was rolling during part of the heated exchange, in which the police chief called her a "lying (expletive)." Michel detained Tyska and confiscated the videotape, but it was later returned to the Tribune. The District Attorney's Office declined to file charges against the journalist. Two months later, Michel resigned.
If you take a walk, I'll tax your feet
Paul B sends this news about how Philadelphia is ripping off ts blogging citizens.
Got a blog that makes no money? The city wants $300, thank you very much.
For the past three years, Marilyn Bess has operated MS Philly Organic, a small, low-traffic blog that features occasional posts about green living, out of her Manayunk home. Between her blog and infrequent contributions to ehow.com, over the last few years she says she's made about $50. To Bess, her website is a hobby. To the city of Philadelphia, it's a potential moneymaker, and the city wants its cut.
In May, the city sent Bess a letter demanding that she pay $300, the price of a business privilege license.
Check out The Clog for some answers to the many questions this article has raised.
"The real kick in the pants is that I don't even have a full-time job, so for the city to tell me to pony up $300 for a business privilege license, pay wage tax, business privilege tax, net profits tax on a handful of money is outrageous," Bess says.
August 20, 2010
How to turn a cell phone into a car.
How A 17-Year-Old Craigslist-Swapped An Old Phone For A Porsche
Starting with an old cell phone a friend gave him, 17-year-old Steven Ortiz of Glendora, CA, used Craigslist to trade up 14 times over two years and eventually end up with a Porsche Boxster. Here's how he did it.
Reminds me of the guy who traded up from a paperclip to a house, back in '05.
August 18, 2010
In a fly's eye
Fly Eyes Used For Solar Cells
It takes a twisted engineering mind to come up with something this brilliant: a biomimetic mold constructed from fly eyes. One particular type of fly eye has just the right shape that could be perfect for manufacturing efficient solar cells.
Lakhtakia and a team of Penn State researchers came up with a promising solution. First they picked corneas from blowflies because this common type of fly has ideal eyes for solar cell applications. According to a description from PSU, "Blowflies have compound eyes that are roughly hemispherical; but within that half sphere, the surface is covered by macroscale hexagonal eyes with nanoscale features."
August 15, 2010
A prophylactic lawsuit?
I can't find any news about the judge's decision on this one.
AEG Live sues concert bootleggers before they bootleg
Just because the Mile High Music Festival this weekend in Denver hasn't happened yet, and just because the bootleggers haven't yet set up shop, doesn't mean that hundreds of individuals haven't already been sued.
AEG Live has jumped on a growing legal trend in the concert world by filing a trademark infringement claim against hundreds of John Does and Jane Does. According to AEG's new complaint, "only the plaintiff has the right to sell merchandise bearing the Festival Trademarks at and near the Festival."
Hat tip Paul B.
August 12, 2010
Lego models of famous structures
The World's Great Structures Built With Legos
Former Chicago-based professional architect Adam Reed Tucker is one of 11 Lego-certified professionals in the world, designing scale models of famous buildings and structures out of Lego bricks. His models, including the World Trade Center, the Gateway Arch, Fallingwater and others, are on display in the National Building Museum until September 5, 2011, in the exhibit, "LEGO Architecture: Towering Ambition" in Washington, D.C.
June 17, 2010
Today's PSA (3)
The ALS Association's Walk to Defeat ALS is June 26th in St. Louis and regular reader and contributor Steve R. is participating. He has some good reasons to; check out his page at ALSA.org. He's pretty close to his $1000 dollar goal.
June 09, 2010
A more serious PSA
I'm typically not one to send out this kind of info, but Snopes backs it up, so...
P.S. Please resist the urge to make one of these up yourself, just to see if it works. You'll put your eye out.
Received this message from AFSPC Safety. Apparently this is real, and not a hoax. Please take a moment to read and ensure everyone is aware of this hazard.
Don't pick up or touch any plastic bottles or containers that may be laying in your yard, in or by your trash cans, etc. even if you think they LOOK harmless!
PLEASE PAY CLOSE ATTENTION & FORWARD TO EVERYBODY YOU KNOW, ESPECIALLY YOUR KIDS!
1. A plastic bottle with a cap. (Can be 7-up, juice, mayonnaise jar- anything plastic with a cap or lid)
2. A little Drano
3. A little water
4. A small piece of foil
Disturb it by moving it & BOOM!! No fingers left intact & other serious effects to your face, eyes, skin etc. People all over the country are finding these bombs in their mailboxes, in their yards, in or laying beside their trash cans just waiting for someone to pick it up, intending to put it in the trash.
But you'll never make it! In less than 30 seconds, it will explode after you move it, however gently.
IF YOU SEE ONE OF THESE, LEAVE IT ALONE & IMMEDIATELY CALL THE POLICE. THEY CAN PROBABLY EXTRACT FINGERPRINTS FROM THE BOTTLE. WARN YOUR CHILDREN, YOUR FAMILY & YOUR NEIGHBORS!
Here is the link to Snopes for further info and the video: http://www.snopes.com/crime/warnings/bottlebomb.asp
And from today's Hartford Courant we have:
Crude Soda-Bottle Bomb Found In West Hartford
A crude soda-bottle bomb at the corner of Red Top and Gerthmere drives has been disabled.
Three workers with the state Department of Environmental Protection used a knife to cut the bloated bottle about 10:15 a.m., more than three hours after it was discovered near the curb.
After they relieved the pressure, the men, who were wearing protective suits, neutralized the acid in the bottle with baking soda, said one of the men, Jeffrey Chandler.
May 17, 2010
Stencil your coffee
Design your own (text or graphics) at CoffeeStencil.com
Ms. Watson's site is here.
Australian girl, 16, sails around the world
SYDNEY, Australia - A 16-year-old Australian who braved boat knockdowns and seven months of solitude on a sail around the world set foot on dry land outside the Sydney Opera House on Saturday and quickly set an earthier goal - getting her driver's license.
Jessica Watson became the youngest person to sail around the globe solo, nonstop, and unassisted when she cruised into Sydney Harbour in her pink, 34-foot yacht to a rock-star welcome. She successfully maneuvered her boat through raging storms, 40-foot waves, and seven knockdowns during the 23,000-nautical-mile journey that critics thought she would not survive.
May 11, 2010
Careful what you tweet
From an InfoWorld column by Robert X. Cringely:
From here to tweeternity: Twitter to be preserved for posterity
If you ever needed a good reason to be especially careful what you say on Twitter, you now have at least two.
In what really sounds like a late April Fools' Day joke, the Library of Congress has announced (via Twitter, naturally) it is planning to archive all Twitter messages dating back to March 2006. That's right -- every mindless tweet about someone's cat and/or lunch, every breathless utterance from Ashton, all 10,785,632 tweets from the Guy Kawasaki Twitter Sweat Shop (oops, make that 10,785,635), all of it, right there next to Lincoln's speeches and the Gutenberg Bible.
And people wonder why writing satire has gotten so much harder.
March 31, 2010
Man in a Moon
Probe sees 'Pac-man in the moon'
The Cassini spacecraft in orbit around Saturn has caught an interesting new view of the tiny moon Mimas.
The probe measured temperature differences across the object's surface and produced a map that looks just like the 1980s Pac-Man video games icon.
Scientists are unsure why Mimas should display such variations but say it is probably related to the diversity of textures in the surface materials.
February 18, 2010
Warp factor 0, Mr. Sulu
Starship pilots: speed kills, especially warp speed
Star Trek fans, prepare to be disappointed. Kirk, Spock and the rest of the crew would die within a second of the USS Enterprise approaching the speed of light.
The problem lies with Einstein's special theory of relativity. It transforms the thin wisp of hydrogen gas that permeates interstellar space into an intense radiation beam that would kill humans within seconds and destroy the spacecraft's electronic instruments.
This reminds me of The Physics of Star Trek, which I found pretty amusing reading.
February 05, 2010
Thumbthing looks pretty good
If you know any inveterate readers, here's just what they need: the Thumbthing. I got to get me one.
January 22, 2010
BusinessInsider has a slideshow of 21 Things That Became Obsolete This Decade.
January 21, 2010
Want me to hit you?
This story is from June, 2009 and the author's talking about the Oregon legislature. As TJIC says, "Rope!"
Summoning the fog
In an effort to keep their tax increase package intact, Democrats in the Legislature spin some unfortunate semantic skullduggery
One of the more devilish playground tricks played by bullying third-graders is the old switcheroo, as in: "Do you want me to hit you? 'Yes' means 'no,' and 'no' means 'yes.'" It was a tactic intended to take advantage of confused victims, and it usually worked.
That's more or less what Democrats on the Joint Ways and Means Committee did late Wednesday, slipping in some language intended to induce or take advantage of voter confusion in hopes of keeping the Oregon Legislature's recently passed tax package intact.
If you think that's an exaggeration, listen to a sample of the new language inserted into House Bill 2414:"A measure referred to the people by referendum petition may not be adopted unless it receives an affirmative majority of the total votes cast on the measure rejecting the measure. For purposes of this subsection, a measure is considered adopted if it is rejected by the people."
Got that? Do you want me to hit you?
January 19, 2010
I've been reading The Little Black Book of Violence and it includes this quote from another book, titled On Combat, while discussing the importance of keeping martial training as realistic as possible.
One police officer gave another example of learning to do the wrong thing. He took it on himself to practice disarming an attacker. At every opportunity, he would have his wife, a friend, or a partner hold a pistol on him so he could practice snatching it away. He would snatch the gun, hand it back, and repeat several more times. One day he and his partner responded to an unwanted man in a convenience store. He went down one aisle, while his partner went down another. At the end of the first aisle, he was taken by surprise when the suspect stepped around the corner and pointed a revolver at him. In the blink of an eye, the officer snatched the gun away, shocking the gunman with his speed and finesse. No doubt this criminal was surprised and confused even more when the officer handed the gun right back to him, just as he had practiced hundreds of times before. Fortunately for this officer, his partner came around the corner and shot the subject.
Whatever is drilled in during training comes out the other end in combat. In one West Coast city, officers training in defensive tactics used to practice an exercise in such a manner that it could have eventually been disastrous in a real life-and-death situation. The trainee playing the arresting officer would simulate a gun by pointing his finger at the trainee playing the suspect, and give him verbal commands to turn around, place his hands on top of his head, and so on. This came to a screeching halt when officers began reporting to the training unit that they had pointed with their fingers in real arrest situations. They must have pantomimed their firearms with convincing authority because every suspect had obeyed their commands. Not wanting to push their luck, the training unit immediately ceased having officers simulate weapons with their fingers and ordered red-handled dummy guns to be used in training.
January 18, 2010
Quite a mosaic
Ukrainian artist Oksana Mas has created an unusual mosaic portrait of the Virgin Mary, using 15,000 painted Easter Eggs.
January 15, 2010
What we didn't know
Now where have we heard about unknown unknowns before?
50 Things we know now that we didn't know this time last year
If there was an award for best quote of the year, our money would be on Richard Fisher, the director of NASA's Heliophysics Division.
Fisher was interviewed in October by National Public Radio after NASA scientists discovered a mysterious ribbon of hydrogen around our solar system.
The layer, a sort of protective barrier called the heliosphere, shields us from harmful cosmic radiation. Its existence defies all expectations about what the edge of the solar system might look like.
Fisher's response: "We thought we knew everything about everything, and it turned out that there were unknown unknowns."
In other words: We don't know what we don't know until we know that we don't know it. [...]
Here's a list of stuff we culled from 2009 that may have come as a surprise:
1. Domestic pigs can quickly learn how mirrors work and use them to find food.
2. Grumpy people think more clearly because negative moods trigger more attentive, careful thinking.
Can you walk and type at the same time?
There's an app for that. srsly.
January 13, 2010
It's always summertime somewhere
Danilo (a regular reader & contributor) writes,
Are you cold? Here is HOT! Very, very hot, check this out, happened in Rio (yes, Olympics!), a thermometer that stays at an avenue broke.
This is kinda 118~119 Fahrenheit. Of course it was showing the wrong temperature, that maybe was 43~44 Celsius.
Danilo (sweating) in Brazil
January 02, 2010
Urban Cyclist Spins Web Fame Into Career
A viral web video showing off daredevil stunts has helped a bike shop mechanic ditch the day job and launch an international career.
Danny MacAskill is an urban cyclist and, to him, the street is a stage for amazing cycling acrobatics.
The 23-year-old from Skye has been perfecting his art ever since he was a child and always treated it as a hobby.
Then, earlier this year, he and his flatmate made a short film showing what Danny could do.
Around 12 million YouTube hits later, he has ditched the day job and the hobby has become his living, complete with agent, sponsorship deals, TV appearances and contracts worldwide.
December 15, 2009
The way a truck ought to look
Like Isaac Newton and gravity, The Christmas Truck was the results of one man's sudden inspiration. Kris Marshall was hauling a generator and a few strands of Christmas lights to his church in a $50 used truck. He simply combined the two and The Christmas Truck was born.
It's amazingly nontechnical, it's literally just lights taped to a truck. According to Marshall "It's not very scientific, it's a hideous site in the daylight, there's black tape and wires in the daytime." But at night it's amazing. Marshall has used eight trucks and added dozens of strand since, though it's always a 2WD Chevy/GMC with a regular cab and eight-foot truck bed "the way a truck ought to look."
December 07, 2009
Make it so
Branson unveils spaceship that will launch civilians into heavens
Computerworld - The man behind Virgin Records and Virgin Atlantic Airways is launching a new venture that's out of this world.
Virgin's founder, British billionaire Richard Branson, is throwing his entrepreneurial muscle behind a company that will offer private citizens the opportunity to travel into outer space -- for $200,000. Known as Virgin Galactic, the company plans to formally unveil the world's first manned commercial spaceship, SpaceShipTwo, in the Mojave Desert later today. [...]
The new spacecraft is set to be unveiled as darkness falls this evening at the Mojave Air and Spaceport, according to Virgin Galactic. California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson are expected to christen the spacecraft the "Virgin Space Ship (VSS) Enterprise."
December 03, 2009
Seven guides for online dating
The people at OkCupid.com have run a statistical analysis on the messages their members exchange and they find some interesting results.
Online Dating Advice: Exactly What To Say In A First Message
Ok, here's the experiment.
We analyzed over 500,000 first contacts on our dating site, OkCupid. Our program looked at keywords and phrases, how they affected reply rates, and what trends were statistically significant. The result: a set of rules for what you should and shouldn't say when introducing yourself online. This is the second post of our statistical investigation into the optimal online dating message; a note about how we protected user privacy is here.
November 27, 2009
Beware the Angry Mermaid
'Angry Mermaid' joins fight against climate change
A new environmental award will be launched tomorrow with some of the biggest corporations and lobbying outfits in the world in contention for the top prize. But the winner will have nothing to celebrate.
The inaugural Angry Mermaid award, inspired by Denmark's famous Little Mermaid statue, will go to the organisation "doing the most to sabotage effective action on climate change" in the run-up to climate change talks in Copenhagen next month.
November 26, 2009
Counting our blessings
The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God. In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union. Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defence, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle or the ship; the axe has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consiousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom. No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity and Union.
In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Seal of the United States to be affixed.
Done at the City of Washington, this Third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the Independence of the Unites States the Eighty-eighth.
By the President: Abraham Lincoln
For each new morning with its light,
For rest and shelter of the night,
For health and food,
For love and friends,
For everything Thy goodness sends.
- Ralph Waldo Emerson
November 25, 2009
A new record holder
No Dope: Ft. Lauderdale Man to Smoke 115,000th Joint
When you think of the world's most prolific pot smokers, certain names come to mind: Snoop, Cheech and Chong, Willie Nelson.
How about Irvin Rosenfeld?
The 56-year-old Fort Lauderdale stockbroker will put his name among the greats when he sets a world record tomorrow for weed consumption while lighting up his 115,000th joint.
The best part is that it's all legal.
"Yep, provided by Uncle Sam," Rosenfeld told NBCMiami.com. "They grow it for me, I find that quite ironic."
November 19, 2009
Bottoms up (2)
Alcohol 'protects men's hearts'
Drinking alcohol every day cuts the risk of heart disease in men by more than a third, a major study suggests.
The Spanish research involving more than 15,500 men and 26,000 women found large quantities of alcohol could be even more beneficial for men.
Female drinkers did not benefit to the same extent, the study in Heart found.
November 10, 2009
New bridge at Hoover Dam (2)
The center arch of the O'Callaghan-Tillman Memorial Bridge was completed in late August and it's free-standing now. The superstructure and cables used to support it during construction are gone.
When it's finished, it will look something like this
ScienceRay has 2 good photo essays about the construction process; they start here.
November 09, 2009
100 MPH tape
A bear attacked this plane that had not been cleaned out after a long fishing trip. The pilot had 2 new tires, 3 cases of Duct Tape and several rolls of cellophane delivered then went about repairing the plane so he could fly it home.
They call it 100 mph tape for a reason.
November 08, 2009
"It was 20 years ago today"
November 9 will be the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall.
From The New Criterion:
Tyranny set in stone
Was there ever a more fitting monument to tyranny than the Berlin Wall? Conceived in desperation, this brutal barrier was erected in 1961 by the state not for the protection but for the incarceration of its citizens. Hold fast to that thought. The Berlin Wall was the stuff of gritty spy novels, the literal instantiation of Winston Churchill's "iron curtain," which in 1946, with characteristic prescience, he saw descending across Central and Eastern Europe. The Berlin Wall was also an inescapable indictment, not just of a particular society but of an entire world view, the world view of Soviet Communism with its rhetoric of justice and class struggle in one hand and its reality of the Gulag and the systematic obliteration of human freedom in the other.
Do we remember that?
From The Washington Post:
The Berlin Wall that came down 20 years ago this month was an apt symbol of communism. It represented a historically unprecedented effort to prevent people from "voting with their feet" and leaving a society they rejected. The wall was only the most visible segment of a vast system of obstacles and fortifications: the Iron Curtain, which stretched for thousands of miles along the border of the "Socialist Commonwealth." I am one of those who managed to cross these obstacles in November 1956, when they were partially and temporarily dismantled along the Austrian-Hungarian border. My experiences in communist Hungary, where I lived until age 24, had a durable impact on my life and work. [...]
The failure of Soviet communism confirms that humans motivated by lofty ideals are capable of inflicting great suffering with a clear conscience.
And the Fall of the Wall is the cover story in the November issue of Reason:
The Unknown War
The defeat of communism 20 years ago was the most liberating moment in history. So why don't we talk about it more?
On August 23, 1989, officials from the newly reformed and soon-to-be-renamed Communist Party of Hungary ceased policing the country's militarized border with Austria. Some 13,000 East Germans, many of whom had been vacationing at nearby Lake Balaton, fled across the frontier to the free world. It was the largest breach of the Iron Curtain in a generation, and it kicked off a remarkable chain of events that ended 11 weeks later with the righteous citizen dismantling of the Berlin Wall. [...]
At a time that fairly cries out for historical perspective about the follies of central planning, Americans are ignoring the fundamental conflict of the postwar world, and instead leapfrogging back to what Steve Forbes describes in this issue as the "Jurassic Park statism" of the 1930s.
November 02, 2009
Your mother was right
Cold weather really does spread flu
Scientists have finally confirmed what your mother knew all along - that flu spreads best in cold, dry weather.
As the first few cases of the northern hemisphere's annual flu epidemic are trickling in this week, scientists may finally know why winter is flu season. It appears the virus lasts longer in cold, dry air, and our sluggish, cold-weather mucus cannot clear it out.
October 30, 2009
Gruesome and delicious
Check out Not Martha's Meat Hand recipe.
October 25, 2009
The Snuggie Sutra
October 19, 2009
This Continue Time clock by Sander Mulder is one of 41 produced. It has a "hand" with 3 segments. The largest indicates hours; the middle segment indicates minutes past the hour and the final, pointy segment indicates seconds in the minute.
Here's (a somewhat noisy) video of it in operation
Nanny says No
Truckers furious after driver fined for smoking in cab
Truckers from across Canada were fuming Wednesday night as word spread that police hit a driver with a $305 fine for smoking in his rig, because it's considered a workplace.
Essex County OPP stopped the tractor-trailer on Wednesday around noon after noticing the lone driver headed down Highway 401 in Lakeshore with a cigarette between his lips. The officer ticketed the 48-year-old London driver for smoking in an enclosed workplace.
Even some non-smoking drivers said the government should butt out of their business.
October 16, 2009
Danilo sends a link to this story. A video of the event is up at YouTube.
Baby hit by train and survives
Witnesses at a suburban Melbourne station feared the worst but were stunned when the six-month-boy was hauled from the tracks with little more than a bump on his head.
The near-miss happened at Ashburton station as a city-bound train pulled into the station just after 4pm yesterday.
The baby was strapped into a three-wheeler pram that rolled forward and toppled on to the tracks. [...]
Witnesses watched in horror, fearing the baby had no hope.
But he was safely back in his mother's arms when ambulance officers arrived minutes later.
Desktop black hole?
Not exactly. What these guys have made is a type of black body. But 'black hole' definitely makes a catchier headline.
Scientists Make Desktop Black Hole
Two Chinese scientists have successfully made an artificial black hole. Since you're still reading this, it's safe to say that Earth hasn't been sucked into its vortex.
That's because a black hole doesn't technically require a massive, highly concentrated gravitational field that prevents light from escaping, as postulated by Albert Einstein. It just needs to capture light — or, to be more precise, electromagnetic radiation, of which visually perceived light is one form.
October 05, 2009
Steve sends a link to an article at KRQE's site about the Advanced Tactical Laser that Boeing built for the USAF.
October 02, 2009
Here's a little follow-up about Ms Simonova. She's the sand-painter featured in the post Requiem in Sand.
Ukraine's Got Talent winner brings nation to tears
The appearance of a shy 24-year-old on a Ukrainian TV talent show this year has caused a nation to revisit its painful wartime past and is well on the way to becoming an international sensation.
About 13 million people watched Kseniya Simonova win Ukraine's Got Talent live with an extraordinary demonstration of "sand art". Most of them, according to reports, were weeping. The judges and studio audience sobbed throughout. [...]
Simonova has returned to ordinary life in the Crimean seaside town of Evpatoria, where she has used her £80,000 prize to buy a modest house and set up a children's charity.
Simonova has told interviewers she is happy to stay in Evpatoria and will not be travelling abroad to cash in on her growing global fan base. Her success has taken the young woman by surprise. "I only entered because there was a child I know who needed an operation and I wanted to help," she said. "I did not mean to make the whole country cry."
September 19, 2009
The Innocence Project
The Innocence Project can use a hand. If you're looking for a good cause, these folks qualify.
In the American criminal justice system, fair justice often comes at a price. The Innocence Project seeks to provide DNA testing for inmates who can rarely afford to prove their innocence. We pay for DNA testing in every case in which it is necessary, and in order to continue funding DNA tests for clients around the country, we need your help today.
September 18, 2009
Coulda Woulda Shoulda
An allegedly-true story at Time.com:
If Only Warren Buffett Knew How to Work His Cellphone...
Lehman Brothers might not have gone under. Seriously.
Off we go...
Steve sends a reminder that the annual air show at Scott AFB is this weekend, the 19th and 20th. It will feature appearances by the Canadian Snowbirds (aerobats) and the US Army Golden Knights (parachutists).
This photo comes from the Post-Dispatch:
Sept. 16, 2009 - Major John Klatt with the Air National Guard does a flying demonstration over St. Charles County in advance of the air show this weekend at Scott Air Base. The plane was moving east next to the Daniel Boone Bridge over the Missouri River. (J. B. Forbes/P-D)
They can do that?
Blind Woman Sees With 'Tooth-in-Eye' Surgery
Doctors in Florida Restore Sharron Kay Thornton's Vision by Implanting a Tooth in Her Eye
Forget about an eye for an eye -- doctors in Florida have taken a blind woman's tooth, and used it to help restore her vision.
A team of specialists at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine announced Wednesday that they are the first surgeons in the United States to restore a person's sight by using a tooth. The procedure is formally called modified osteo-odonto-keratoprosthesis (or MOOKP).
September 12, 2009
Amen to that
From TigerHawk on Thursday, 9/10:
The closing price of the Dow Jones Industrial Average on September 10, 2001: 9605.51.
Right now: 9612.14. Eight years, 7 points. Let's hope we do not have to do that again.
And from the late Steve Goodman, his Going Nowhere In A Hurry Blues
August 07, 2009
Meet "the mob"
Dana Loesch has a funny collection of pix of the "mobs" that show up at public meetings to oppose the health care bill.
You’ve heard a lot about this crazy, scary, vicious mob on some shadowy GOP payroll. By the way the DNC, Rachel Maddow, and President Obama talk, you’d think it was a motley crue of Hell’s Angels.
Let me introduce you to the mob:
On a more serious note, St. Louis County police arrested six folks at last night's forum held by Rep. Russ Carnahan.
This might be very practical or it might give you the heebie-jeebies. Or maybe both.
Last Messages Club
The Last Messages Club sends your personal thoughts and essential data by email to your friends and loved ones after you die.
July 25, 2009
Glad I didn't buy any carbon offsets
Since there's still some debate about the causes of warming. Anthropogenic or not?
Peer-reviewed study from Down Under points to nature as global warming source
This ought to stir things up royally. Three Australasian scientists have published a study in the Journal of Geophysical Research claiming that virtually none of the observed temperature increases in the Earth's atmosphere in recent years can be attributed to man-made factors.
Instead, researchers Chris de Freitas at the University of Auckland in New Zealand, John McLean from Melbourne, Australia, and Bob Carter from James Cook University in North Queensland, Australia, ), point to the El Nino-Southern Oscillation (ENSO). [...]
The journal abstract of the study summarizes the conclusion thus: "Overall the results suggest that the Southern Oscillation exercises a consistently dominant influence on mean global temperature, with a maximum effect in the tropics, except for periods when equatorial volcanism causes ad hoc cooling."
July 03, 2009
Celebrate the 4th
Happy Anniversary, citizens.
And here's Ray Charles to help.
June 25, 2009
Walkin' on air
A couple decided to get in married in zero gravity. (No, they didn't go into orbit.) From their blog at Erin & Noah's Zero Gravity Wedding:
ZERO-G News Brief
Weightless Wedding Coverage
June 22, 2009
The ZERO-G Weightless Wedding has generated an unbelievable amount of TV, print, radio and online coverage throughout the country and has even reached the UK, China, Canada, New Zealand and Australia. At this point, the wedding has been covered in nearly 300 television segments and more than 200 articles and blogs.
June 20, 2009
News you can use (2)
This article is a few weeks old now but bring on the CNG.
U.S. Gas Fields Go From Bust to Boom
CADDO PARISH, La. -- A massive natural-gas discovery here in northern Louisiana heralds a big shift in the nation's energy landscape. After an era of declining production, the U.S. is now swimming in natural gas.
Even conservative estimates suggest the Louisiana discovery -- known as the Haynesville Shale, for the dense rock formation that contains the gas -- could hold some 200 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. That's the equivalent of 33 billion barrels of oil, or 18 years' worth of current U.S. oil production. Some industry executives think the field could be several times that size.
"There's no dry hole here," says Joan Dunlap, vice president of Petrohawk Energy Corp., standing beside a drilling rig near a former Shreveport amusement park.
Huge new fields also have been found in Texas, Arkansas and Pennsylvania. One industry-backed study estimates the U.S. has more than 2,200 trillion cubic feet of gas waiting to be pumped, enough to satisfy nearly 100 years of current U.S. natural-gas demand.
April 28, 2009
The passing of Pontiac
The Detroit Free Press has 73 images in a slideshow about Pontiac's cars through the years. Pictured below is a Bonneville Special, a concept car built in 1954. Evidently it was the first model to be called a Bonneville.
And I ran across this 1966 Pontiac ad at The Bleat.
April 22, 2009
I don't know which is more predictable: (a) that people are scamming a government program giving away money or (b) that the special inspector is saying (in effect), "It could be only the tip of the iceberg."
What history teaches us is that we never learn from history.
Crimes suspected in 20 bailout cases -- for starters
The special inspector general says TARP is 'inherently vulnerable to fraud, waste and abuse.' The risk grows as the plan becomes more complex, he says.
Reporting from Washington and Los Angeles -- In the first major disclosure of corruption in the $750-billion financial bailout program, federal investigators said Monday they have opened 20 criminal probes into possible securities fraud, tax violations, insider trading and other crimes.
The cases represent only the first wave of investigations, and the total fraud could ultimately reach into the tens of billions of dollars, according to Neil Barofsky, the special inspector general overseeing the bailout program.
April 15, 2009
No satire here
If you've wondered whether what you heard about the Community Reinvestment Act is true, here's an interesting incident. And it's not from The Onion.
FDIC Criticizes Massachusetts Bank With No Bad Loans for Being Too Cautious
A Massachusetts bank that has defied the odds and remained free of bad loans amid the economic crisis is now being criticized by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. for the cautious business practices that caused its rare success.
The secret behind East Bridgewater Savings Bank's accomplishments is the careful approach of 62-year-old chief executive Joseph Petrucelli.
"We're paranoid about credit quality," he told the Boston Business Journal. [...]
But rather than reward Petrucelli's tactics, the FDIC recently criticized his bank for not lending enough, slapping it with a "needs to improve" rating under the Community Reinvestment Act, the Journal reported.
April 10, 2009
Where is all the money going?
Here's a Fox News clip about Bailout Watch, an iPhone app that tracks bailout allocations and expeditures. Yours for only $1.99.
If you don't know where the money's going, don't feel lonely because...
Congress needs Google to find out where stimulus money went
On February 14, with the passage of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, Congress shoveled $787 billion of stimulus money out the door. Now they're using Google to find out where it went.
During the stimulus debate, the bill's supporters stressed that it included strong oversight safeguards. But audits and reports are months, if not years, away. Oversight will be after the fact; right now, with the money actually beginning to flow, members of Congress have little or no idea where it is going. What, for example, is the Department of Housing and Urban Development doing with the $1.5 billion Congress approved for a new program called the Homeless Prevention Fund? Lawmakers don't know.
If they wanted, majority Democrats could demand real-time details from the Obama administration. But minority Republicans have no power to compel the administration to do anything. So Rep. Eric Cantor, the Republican Whip in the House, and GOP Sen. John Thune have set up a working group to track spending as best they can.
You might think that two high-ranking elected officials would have ways to learn such things, but the fact is, they don't. At the moment, the best tools Cantor and Thune have are Google and the Lexis-Nexis newspaper database.
March 20, 2009
News you can use
Playboy Posts Unedited Back Issues Online, for Free (PC Magazine)
Through a partnership between Microsoft and Bondi Digital Publishing, Playboy Enterprises has put 53 back issues of Playboy on the Web, viewable through Microsoft's Silverlight viewer.
The images are free to access at PlayboyArchive.com, with no age verification required.
The issues cover the years 1954 through 2007, and appear as they did in the print version, with advertisements left intact. To do so, Bondi Digital Publishing - the software pioneers that developed the platform for The Complete New Yorker - scanned and re-typed each issue of Playboy, the company said in a statement.
You may wonder why Microsoft is involved in this. The reason is you need to install their Silverlight software on your machine to view the site. (Silverlight is not platform-specific and it should run on your Mac or *nix box.) Once that's done, the site is a real blast from the past. I'd forgotten about Playboy's page of jokes -- here's one from 1980.
"Is it proper for a man to profit from the mistakes of another?" a parishioner asked his minister.
"Definitely not," was the clergyman's answer.
"Are you certain?"
"In that case," said the man, "I wonder if you'd mind returning the ten dollars I gave you after my wedding last year?"
March 19, 2009
I don't know where I'm a-gonna go
When the volcano blows.
Eruption in South Pacific not presently a threat to islanders, authorities say
Underwater volcano erupts near Tonga
NUKU'ALOFA, Tonga - Scientists sailed Thursday to inspect an undersea volcano that has been erupting for days near Tonga — shooting smoke, steam and ash thousands of feet into the sky above the South Pacific ocean.
March 09, 2009
Pimp this bum
We first approached a group of homeless on February 1st underneath the Highway 6 overpass. Four men sitting against the wall, one holding the leash of a rottweiller. The fact that the man looked 80 and appeared to lack a good grip, didn't bring us much comfort. My father and I had no idea what to expect, this being the first group we approached. We began to explain the details of our concept, when the tallest one, Tim stopped us and said 'what are you going to call it, you know, the website?" I paused, and shot a look at my Father, unsure of how they would react. I said: "Pimp this bum dot com." The four guys looked at each other for a moment, then erupted in laughter. Tim paused, smiled again, looked up at us and said: "I think I can do this." We set up a meeting time for the following week, and headed home.
We met up with Tim again on February 9th. We saw a tall man with a hoodie and waved him over to meet us. We were glad to see his enthusiasm to work with us, and after getting to know him a bit better, we knew he was just the man we were looking for. His great sense of humor and warm personality gave us a renewed motivation for this project.
February 19, 2009
If these parlous times having you thinking about crawling into a cave, here's an eBay deal for you.
Unique Cave Home over 15,000 sf. Beautiful setting
2.8 Acres / Commercial or Residential
Starting bid: US $300,000.00
End time: Mar-11-09 18:19:49 PDT (21 days 1 hour)
Item location: Festus, Missouri, United States
History: 0 bids
February 18, 2009
6-Way Kidney Transplant Involves 3 States
12 Patients Have Surgery On Valentine's Day
Surgeons at Johns Hopkins Hospital teamed up for a medical first over the weekend -- the nation's first multi-center, six-way kidney transplant.
TV station WBAL in Baltimore reported that the process involved one kidney being flown from Baltimore to Oklahoma City, one from Oklahoma City to St. Louis and one from St. Louis to Baltimore.
The complex swap orchestrated by Dr. Robert Montgomery involved 12 patients at three different hospitals, nine surgeons and a team of nearly 100 people.
February 12, 2009
Love is the drug
Researchers: You're Addicted To Love
Scientists Say Broken Hearted Have Cocaine-Like Craving
WASHINGTON -- Singer Robert Palmer may have been right when he said, "You're gonna have to face it, you're addicted to love."
Neuroscientists examining love circuits in the brain suggest that romantic love works chemically in the brain like a drug addiction by triggering the release of dopamine.
February 09, 2009
Who says there ain't no justice?
Class action lawyers to be paid in gift cards
by Walter Olson on February 5, 2009
The client class members were to receive only gift cards, not cash, in the settlement with Windsor Fashions, a clothing retailer, so Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Brett Klein thought it only fair to provide that Yorba Linda attorney Neil B. Fineman be paid his fee with "12,500 ten-dollar Windsor Fashions gift cards." (Metropolitan News-Enterprise)
April Winchell has snippets of President Obama reading his book Dreams From My Father. Some of the language is NSFW and those are the snippets she posted, naturally.
This would all be snickerworthy enough, but it turns out that Obama actually read the audiobook version of Dreams From My Father.
And that means he read Ray's quotes.
And that means you're about to hear the President of United States using language that would finish Cheney off once and for all.
February 07, 2009
Weekend Reading 27
StimulusWatch.org was built to to help the new administration keep its pledge to invest stimulus money smartly, and to hold public officials to account for the taxpayer money they spend. We do this by allowing you, citizens around the country with local knowledge about the proposed "shovel-ready" projects in your city, to find, discuss and rate those projects. These projects are not part of the stimulus bill. They are candidates for funding by federal grant programs once the bill passes. Learn more by reading the FAQs.
February 02, 2009
iPod Touch mounted on M110 Sniper Rifle
We have seen some cool iPhone applications come out for shooting sports. But nothing comes close to the sheer awesomeness of the Knights Armaments M110 iPod Touch mount and accompanying ballistics software.
February 01, 2009
Down at the Rockbox
I spent most of the last two weeks in Fredericksburg, Texas on my third annual trip there. And that's fine with me: a week or two in sunny Texas is a nice respite from winter in St. Louis.
The trip went well even though it was 9 straight days, sunup to sundown plus a few hours. A shout out to the crew at AgriTech, who showed off their teamwork again this year, is definitely in order.
While there, I knocked off early on Friday to go to dinner and a show with my host and some others. The dinner (at Silver Creek restaurant) was nice, but the highlight of the evening was the show at the Rockbox Theater. To say the show was a pleasant surprise would be to damn it with faint praise. It was strikingly good and the more so because it was in Fredericksburg, which is a town of fewer than 11,000 people.
Several things impressed me about the show and one of them was the production quality. It was top notch and easily the equal of productions I've seen here in St. Louis and in Branson, Missouri. For that matter, it was the equal of the one & only show I ever saw in Lake Tahoe. The audio was well-mixed - as clear as crystal - and they had the lighting script down pat. My kudos to the technical crew.
The show itself is put on by a troupe of 9 people. One of them said that they present a different show every week. That almost defies belief when you see how polished the shows are. These 9 folks are all accomplished musicians and whatever they did - whether playing or singing - was excellently done.
Evidently, much of what they do is musical revue acts. They did quite a bit of that in the show I saw. While I'm not a big fan of people doing medleys of other peoples' pop music, I have to admit they did that as well as it can be done. What I enjoyed more was their parodies based on pop tunes. One skit was about Feline Fitness Training and included parodies based on several songs, including Edward Starr's War. Very funny and, again, excellently performed.
Here's a clip of their parody based on Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody.
Another of the acts in the show I saw included several old songs like My Boyfriend's Back, The Chapel of Love, and a parody of I Will Follow Him (featuring Wendy Hearn as Barbie) with the lyrics I Will Follow Ken... Laugh out loud.
One of the cast, T.J. Smith, was a very good mimic as well as an outstanding guitarist. (He's the guitarist/cop in the clip above.) He did numbers based on Stevie Ray Vaughan's and Johnny Cash's music. Another impressive performer was the keyboardist, Cass Moore. Since it's a small ensemble (drummer, bass player, guitarists and keyboards), Mr. Moore does a lot to provide all the string and brass tracks you'd hear from the much larger groups they cover in their revues.
I only mention Smith and Moore because of little things that struck me. I shouldn't single them out because I really can't say I had a favorite. Every member of the cast was impressive and they were all great together. You can tell this crew has worked together a long time. Check out their videos at YouTube.
The company bills its shows as 'family friendly' and that's a good description. There's a lot of humor but not much edge to it. There's no reason not to take young children (though kids might miss some of the jokes).
If you're ever in central Texas, near Austin or San Antonio, it'll be worth your while to make the trip to Fredericksburg and visit the Rockbox. They perform on Friday and Saturday nights and have matinees Saturday and Sunday afternoons.
January 14, 2009
How many angels on the head of a pin?
U.S. scientists learn how to levitate tiny objects
CHICAGO (Reuters) – U.S. scientists have found a way to levitate the very smallest objects using the strange forces of quantum mechanics, and said on Wednesday they might use it to help make tiny nanotechnology machines.
They said they had detected and measured a force that comes into play at the molecular level using certain combinations of molecules that repel one another.
The repulsion can be used to hold molecules aloft, in essence levitating them, creating virtually friction-free parts for tiny devices, the researchers said.
January 12, 2009
Plain-spoken in Polk County
Polk City businessman says it's his right to use sign for city hall fight
Anthony Herman understands that you might not appreciate the way he fights City Hall.
He realizes that some people tend to look askance when they see 8-inch-tall letters calling city leaders names not generally popular with the chamber of commerce.
But Herman, a car salesman now embroiled in a three-year legal battle with Polk City officials, insists he doesn't have any choice.
"This isn't what I want to be," said the owner of Mighty Good Used Cars, as well as an adjoining lube shop and a car wash. "I don't want to be the crazy person with the crazy sign out front. ... What else am I supposed to do?"
January 01, 2009
Hang up and live?
The most definitive study yet could finally determine whether cellphone use causes cancer [...]
Interphone researchers are pooling and analyzing the results gathered from studies on 6,400 tumors sampled from patients in 13 countries. If the final results mirror the preliminary ones, the world's three billion cellphone users might want to dial back their talk time.
December 24, 2008
Christmas Eve, 1968
Jeff Jacoby writes a column about Apollo 8 and closes with the astronauts' broadcast on December 24.
For their Christmas Eve broadcast from lunar orbit, NASA had instructed the astronauts simply: "Say something appropriate." And so, as half a billion people watched and listened 40 years ago this week, they did. Anders began:
In the beginning, God created the heaven and the earth; and the earth was without form and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep; and the spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. And God said, 'Let there be light,' and there was light.
Lovell took up the reading after Anders, and then Borman brought the broadcast to an end.
And God called the dry land Earth, and the gathering-together of the waters called He seas. And God saw that it was good.
"And from the crew of Apollo 8," Borman finished, "we close with, Good night, good luck, a Merry Christmas, and God bless all of you - all of you on the good Earth."
December 20, 2008
Weekend Reading 26
An interesting report via Reason's Hit & Run about global temperatures as measured by satellites. (Those measurements and independent of - and usually lower than - adjusted, land-based temperature measurements.)
How Much Warmer Is It?
Oh, About 0.4 Celsius (or about 0.72 degrees Fahrenheit)
That's according to climatologist John Christy, who is a professor of atmospheric science and director of the Earth System Science Centre (ESSC) at The University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH). His group has been measuring the earth's temperature using satellite data since 1979. The UAH researchers report...
And Climate Skeptic has an interesting post about how adjustments get made to land-based measurements. (Note: he doesn't claim there's been no warming - only that there are biases in the land-based measurements of it.)
Global Warming Is Caused by Computers
In particular, a few computers at NASA's Goddard Institute seem to be having a disproportionate effect on global warming. Anthony Watt takes a cut at an analysis I have tried myself several times, comparing raw USHCN temperature data to the final adjusted values delivered from that data by the NASA computers. [...]
The result: 100%+ of the 20th century global warming signal comes from the adjustments. There is actually a cooling signal in the raw data:
December 10, 2008
Just say 'nyet'
"Nyet" to car industry bailout
America doesn't need any more czars
A "car czar" is an imprecise title. It conjures up a romantic era of Russian tyrants and Faberge eggs. No, the control economy that Congress is slopping out these days is begging for a "car commissar," not a czar.
And Wayne sent a link to this great graphic. I wish I knew its source.
December 05, 2008
Happy Anniversary, anti-prohibitionists
Here are some women celebrating the end of The Noble Experiment on December 5, 1933.
"What America needs now is a drink," Franklin Roosevelt said at the end of Prohibition. Every time I think of Prohibition it's hard to believe it actually happened. And it's still hard to believe that we use the same approach today for most other drugs.
This weekend's reading is a column from the Wall Street Journal: Let's End Drug Prohibition
Today is the 75th anniversary of that blessed day in 1933 when Utah became the 36th and deciding state to ratify the 21st amendment, thereby repealing the 18th amendment. This ended the nation's disastrous experiment with alcohol prohibition.
[...]The Americans who voted in 1933 to repeal prohibition differed greatly in their reasons for overturning the system. But almost all agreed that the evils of failed suppression far outweighed the evils of alcohol consumption.
November 25, 2008
Your auction dollars at work
In Need of Cash, States Auction Goods Online
Need a desk? An airplane? How about an armored personnel carrier? Items like these and others are now just a click away for the highest bidder.
Joseph Hamrick, a 59-year-old construction worker from Goose Creek, S.C., got hooked on one such Web site, GovDeals.com, about five months ago. Since then, he's gotten good deals on a 1999 Dodge truck in great condition, 36 bicycles and more than 2,000 brand-new T-shirts, among other things - much of which he gives away to charity and co-workers.
November 21, 2008
The 2012 campaign begins
*LP activist Angela Keaton and blogger Michelle Shingal
November 11, 2008
Spoof or not?
This is a real patent application but I'm not sure how seriously it was intended.
Halliburton Tries To Patent Form Of Patent Trolling
We see all sorts of ridiculous patent applications and patents, but my favorites tend to be the patents that have to do with patents themselves (such as the patent app on a method for filing a patent). However, the folks over at Patently-O have highlighted a fascinating patent application from an attorney at Halliburton, which appears to be an attempt to patent the process of patent trolling.
November 07, 2008
From 52 to 48
An interesting site emphasizing unity after this week's election.
(The US Air Force Concert Band.)
October 31, 2008
Put on a happy face
Botox makes us happy
It's long been known that simply smiling makes people feel better and making an angry face can make people feel more angry. Thus some cosmetic surgeons speculated:People with Botox may be less vulnerable to the angry emotions of other people because they themselves can't make angry or unhappy faces as easily. And because people with Botox can't spread bad feelings to others via their expressions, people without Botox may be happier too.
Amazingly, a recent experiment in the journal Cerebral Cortex supports this theory, although the abstract is a mouthful.
October 30, 2008
What's worse than holes in your sweater?
Vampire Moth Discovered -- Evolution at Work
for National Geographic News
A previously unknown population of vampire moths has been found in Siberia. And in a twist worthy of a Halloween horror movie, entomologists say the bloodsuckers may have evolved from a purely fruit-eating species.
Video at the link.
October 22, 2008
The good old TSA
Here's an article in The Atlantic: The Things He Carried. It's about how poorly the TSA does what it's supposed to do.
Airport security in America is a sham—"security theater" designed to make travelers feel better and catch stupid terrorists. Smart ones can get through security with fake boarding passes and all manner of prohibited items—as our correspondent did with ease.
by Jeffrey Goldberg
And here's a bit of news about an employee who's not exactly helping to burnish its reputation.
TSA agent steals $200K worth of gear, resells it on eBay
The TSA reached a mind-boggling new low in customer service this week when it was revealed that one agent had single-handedly absconded with over $200,000 worth of travelers' belongings, primarily cameras and laptops, and proceeded to unload his booty on eBay. His latest haul: A near-$50,000 camera that an HBO employee had been traveling with.
Time to cue the TSA theme song, I think.
October 17, 2008
Big Brother indeed
From the London Times.
Government will spy on every call and e-mail
Ministers are considering spending up to £12 billion on a database to monitor and store the internet browsing habits, e-mail and telephone records of everyone in Britain.
GCHQ, the government's eavesdropping centre, has already been given up to £1 billion to finance the first stage of the project.
October 06, 2008
The Craigslist caper
Armored truck robber uses Craigslist to make getaway
MONROE, Wash. – In a move that could be right out of a Hollywood movie, a brazen crook apparently used a Craigslist ad to hire a dozen unsuspecting decoys to help him make his getaway following a robbery outside a bank on Tuesday. He then made his escape in an inner tube on the Skykomish River. [...]
The robber sprayed the guard with pepper spray, grabbed a bag of money the guard was carrying and ran about 100 yards to the creek that runs into the Skykomish River, shedding clothes as he ran.
But apparently, the robber had planned ahead. In case anyone was hot on his trail, he had at least a dozen unsuspecting decoys waiting nearby, which he recruited on Craigslist.
October 03, 2008
A little financial advice
Like some US banks, there are banks in Britain (and in continental Europe) that are also having problems. But I wasn't expecting to see this old joke in the pages of The Spectator.
How to make money out of turmoil
Friday, 19th September 2008
This is the best financial advice I've heard all week:
If you had purchased £1000 of Northern Rock shares one year ago it would now be worth £4.95, with HBOS, earlier this week your £1000 would have been worth £16.50, £1000 invested in XL Leisure would now be worth less than £5, but if you bought £1000 worth of Tennents Lager one year ago, drank it all, then took the empty cans to an aluminium re-cycling plant, you would get £214. So based on the above statistics the best current investment advice is to drink heavily and re-cycle.
September 26, 2008
Not only no, but...
Congressman Paul Kanjorski (D-PA) was just on CNBC and said that his mail and calls on the bailout plan are running 50-50: 50% no and 50% hell no.
September 24, 2008
What he said - squared
Bailout Quote of the Day
Congressional Republicans have posted a far from impressive record in upholding free market principles in recent years. One of the few exceptions is Indiana Representative Mike Pence, who has the best short comment on the bailout I have seen all day:"I must tell you, there are those in the public debate who have said that we must act now. The last time I heard that, I was on a used-car lot," said Rep. Mike Pence, R-Indiana. "The truth is, every time somebody tells you that you've got to do the deal right now, it usually means they're going to get the better part of the deal."
September 12, 2008
How to get off the no-fly list
Quebec man changes name to dodge relentless airport screening
A Quebec businessman whose name is one of the many that have erroneously landed on the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's flight passenger watch list has decided to change his name to avoid lengthy security hassles at the airport.
Mario Labbé, an executive with a Montreal-based record company, says his Canadian passport triggers a red alert on the computers of U.S. customs agents every time he tries to board a flight to the U.S. — which is about once a month for the past seven years.
September 08, 2008
Moment a dolphin gave birth caught on film
By Paul Eccleston
Last Updated: 3:01pm BST 02/09/2008
This is the moment of birth of a baby dolphin.
The unique moment was captured by a photographer at the Oltremare Aquarium at Riccione in Italy.
September 02, 2008
How sweet it is
Fried bacon dipped in chocolate.
August 25, 2008
They're here to help
Commuter Flights Grounded Thanks To Bumbling TSA Inspector
Wed, 20 Aug '08
Damaged TAT Probes On Nine Jets While Conducting 'Security Checks'
They're the government... and remember, they're here to help. A bumbling inspector with the Transportation Safety Administration apparently has some explaining to do, after nine American Eagle regional jets were grounded at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport on Tuesday.
Citing sources within the aviation industry, ABC News reports an overzealous TSA employee attempted to gain access to the parked aircraft by climbing up the fuselage... reportedly using the Total Air Temperature (TAT) probes mounted to the planes' noses as handholds.
August 13, 2008
Sorry we missed you
Police's fridge-magnet calling card
Neal Keling and Pul R Taylor
AN investigation has been launched into claims that cheeky cops are said to have left a fridge-magnet calling card after smashing into the wrong house.
Officers hunting a criminal recalled to prison for breaching his release conditions broke into the home of a couple in Oldham.
The family came home to find a hole in their back door, police in the yard, and fridge magnets rearranged to spell "OLDHAM TASK FORCE CALLED".
August 07, 2008
Acts 2:38, LLC
Here's a local oddity. I spotted this dump truck one morning while driving and was lucky enough to get a clear shot of it as we pulled away from a traffic signal. While I don't recommend that driving technique, I'd never seen a company name that was chapter & verse numbers in the Bible. (Click for a larger view.)
I'll make a wild guess that the owner of this enterprise is a Baptist - maybe a Pentecostal. The verse is, "Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost."
August 05, 2008
This Week in Bacon
This week's feature is a bacon alarm clock, the cleverly named Wake n' Bacon, that wakes you up with the smell of real cooked bacon, rather than the traditional, grating, cruel, terrible, gruesome alarm-clock sound.
July 26, 2008
Another week, another climate change doubter
This comes from Watts Up With That.
Roy Spencer's testimony before congress backs up Monckton's assertions on climate sensitivity
Dr. Roy Spencer went to Washington to give testimony today to the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. Here is his presentation. While not as technical as Lord Moncktons paper at APS (since it had to be simplified for a congressional hearing), it nonetheless says the same thing - climate sensitivity is overstated by models and not supported by observational data
Here's Mr. Spencer's testimony on YouTube.
The Monckton person mentioned above is the author of the paper at the APS that I linked to last week.
I thought this part was particularly interesting (my emphasis).
For example, during the Clinton-Gore Administration I was told what I could and could not say during congressional testimony. Since it was well known that I am skeptical of the view that mankind's greenhouse gas emissions are mostly responsible for global warming, I assumed that this advice was to help protect Vice President Gore's agenda on the subject.Squashing the science is something any politician will do if s/he has the power to.
July 25, 2008
More news from China...
Head for heights
Two Chinese high wire walkers have set a record after crossing on a single wire more than 850ft above ground.
Adili, vice-chairman of the China Acrobatic Artists Association, and his apprentice, Ya Gebu, 19, completed the stunt without safety wires or nets.
They started at opposite ends and had to climb over each other in the middle of the wire to finish the journey.
The wire was more than 1.1 kilometres long, and it was stretched over a valley in Muhe Big Valley, a scenic spot in Gansu province.
July 19, 2008
The food pornographer
July 12, 2008
Cow farts collected in plastic tank for global warming study
By Rupert Neate
Last Updated: 9:55PM BST 09/07/2008
Scientists are examining cow farts and burps in a novel bid to combat global warming. [...]
In a bid to understand the impact of the wind produced by cows on global warming, scientists collected gas from their stomachs in plastic tanks attached to their backs.
July 10, 2008
Small government is possible℠
If you're a limited government type, here's a chance to put your money where your mouth is. The Committee For Small Government, which is sponsoring the End the Income Tax ballot initiative in Massachusetts, could use a hand.
They've done a huge amount of work to get their initiative on this year's ballot and they need to pay some of the bills incurred and they need to publicize the issue between now and November.
This is their second shot at this, having tried and nearly succeeded in 2002 (with 45% of the vote). They're obviously tired of living in Taxachusetts.
Crazy stories from the E.R.
A California doctor relates some crazy stories from the emergency room at DailyStrength.org. Here's one of 'em:
A woman came in complaining of pain in her pelvis, so the doctor put her in the stirrups and performed a pelvic exam. He immediately removed the problem -- a set of car keys. The woman explained she didn't want her boyfriend taking the car, so she hid the keys in a place where "he never goes".
July 07, 2008
Come and listen to my story 'bout a man named Jeb...
Back in April, I had a post about the Bakken Formation in North Dakota. While I still don't know if it's as large as that Next Energy News article claimed, I did run across some interesting corroboration in the news last week.
Oil Is Making Millionaires in North Dakota
Oil Deep Underground is Making Millionaires of North Dakotans at a Gusher-Like Pace
By JAMES MacPHERSON
Associated Press Writer
BEULAH, N.D. June 30, 2008 (AP)
Oscar Stohler was raised in a sod house in western North Dakota and ranched there for nearly seven decades. He never gave much thought to what lay below the grass that fattened his cattle.
When oilmen wanted to drill there last year, Stohler, 83, doubted oil would be found two miles underground on his property. He even joked about it.
"I told them if they hit oil, I was going to buy a Cadillac convertible and put those big horns on the front and wear a 10-gallon hat," Stohler recalled.
He still drives his old pickup and wears a mesh farm cap — but it's by choice.
Casa 11 mujeres
It may not be crazy high-tech architecture, but there's something about this Chilean home hanging over the Pacific that has me glued to the screen with a mixed feeling of complete awe, peace, and envy. The materials, the clean design, the floor plan, the breathtaking views, all of it, make it the perfect place I want to live in.
July 06, 2008
Tomorrow's gas at today's prices
I'm not sure what's up with MyGallons.com. The site's founder explicitly says that he's not selling gasoline futures.
Save Money On Gasoline Purchases.
Save money by pre-purchasing gas at today's prices, then fill up with your MyGallons Card when prices rise. No matter how high prices at the pump will go, the price of the gallons you've purchased will be locked-in.
June 20, 2008
Misery loves company
Just in case you thought the U.S. was the only place with idiotic drug policies, here's a story about Holland's ban on tobacco smoking that will give you another view. The 'smoking ban' mentioned below applies only to tobacco and to tobacco mixed with cannabis - but not to pure cannabis.
You can Still Have Your Joint, but Only if it's Pure
By Frederik Hartig
In July, the Dutch government will introduce a nationwide smoking ban in bars, cafes and restaurants, aimed at protecting workers. But it will also make life a lot harder for the country's infamous coffee shops, where customers will only be allowed to smoke pure cannabis.
June 18, 2008
Pick the profiteer
This post at The Motley Fool does a pretty good job of humorously debunking all the windfall profits nonsense that we've been hearing about lately.
Maybe Rep. Maurice Hinchey (D-NY) would like to nationalize these enterprises too?
June 16, 2008
Extreme roller coaster
Popular Mechanics has an article & video clip about a new roller coaster in Pennsylvania called Fahrenheit:
In just two months' time, riders will crest this same piece of steel, then hurtle down a record-setting 97-degree slope—yes, that's 7 degrees past vertical—on the steepest and most severe roller-coaster descent in the United States. "When you come over the apex of the curve, you're lifted forward into the harness," says Kent Bachmann, the park's director of design and engineering. "The track actually disappears for a few seconds."
June 12, 2008
Mike writes, "Look at this site and lets sign this petition and keep some of that oil money home, right here in America."
And just In case you hear about China and/or India drilling off the coast of Cuba, Sen Martinez (R-FL) says that's an urban legend.
May 26, 2008
Memorial Day 2008
Drawing by Cox & Forkum.
May 19, 2008
High, reasonable hopes
Jeff sends this excerpt from Brian Sack's In the Event of My Untimely Demise and adds, "Very funny and spot on."
Chapter 2. High, Reasonable Hopes
I grew up in what I understood to be meritocracy, a system wherein the folks who worked the hardest and excelled the most could expect to reap beneﬁts exceeding those of the average person. It was reasonable to assume that Joanna—who read her books and did the homework she was assigned—would enter a better academic institution than Todd—who smoked pot and watched TV all day.
You’d have been hard-pressed to ﬁnd someone who would argue that Todd’s memorization of every Star Trek plot point placed him on an equal footing with Joanna when it came to admission to Harvard. Indeed, last I heard, Joanna had her Ivy League sheepskin while Todd was fermenting mushroom juice with a bisexual Wiccan he met in a forest party.
As a young advertising-agency writer, it made sense that I would make more money than my unemployed roommate because I got up at 7 a.m. and went to work, while he got up at 4 p.m. and went to sofa. I don’t think he’d disagree that our salary inequality was logical and pretty fair, seeing as he was always well rested.
When we look at the biographies of the mega-accomplished among us (actually, they live away from us because they can afford to), there is an undeniable pattern that emerges. Their histories are almost interchangeable: At ﬁfteen Mr. X started working in the such-and-such industry. He left the army and was accepted to Yale, which he paid for himself by working two full-time jobs. He graduated magna cum laude and opened his own business sixteen minutes after the commencement speech ended.
Even when these guys drop out of college, it’s because they were too busy overachieving to bother with school. Bill Gates is a dropout. Seems to be doing okay. Guys like Bill have something most of us haven’t got, and it’s not just billions and billions of dollars. It’s a determination, talent, and intellect that lies dormant in most folks. By “dormant” I mean there’s a good chance it’s not there. I not only expect those people to be better off than I, but I want them to be. That’s because of my belief in the meritocracy. Their accomplishment sends a message, and the message is: If you lie stoned on the sofa all day, no Lexus for you. I think that’s a good message.
When my friend John would excuse himself early on weekend evenings to go home and practice his guitar, I understood that this sacriﬁce of his made him more likely than I to become a rock star—especially since I quit after my ﬁrst piano lesson and spent two years sitting in the back of band class faking the trumpet. So devoted was John to his hoped for musical career that nothing could separate him from his daily guitar practicing—not ladies we’d met, not my pleas to stay out a little later, nothing. When the mood to practice hit him, as it often did, he was on his way home with no reservations. I admired his determination and was certain that his sacriﬁces would one day pay off. And they did. His amazing talents with a guitar ultimately helped him become a rock star, just like he’d imagined would happen. I had no problem with this. Although I have a musical sense and could probably craft some clever lyrics, this was not a slot I had any logical hope of ﬁlling. Now he has many millions more dollars than I can probably hope to earn.
All well deserved, of course. Another tale for the meritocracy files.
Alas, at some point in my lifetime and prior to yours, the system changed. Now we no longer live in a meritocracy as much as we do a wantocracy—wherein a tone-deaf person with no musical training or skill thinks it’s perfectly normal to expect to be the next David Bowie—because he’d really like that to happen.
My point is made every season on American Idol when we watch some of the nation’s least talented individuals aspire to ﬁll positions that not too long ago would have been considered outrageously unachievable. How a heavily bruised four-hundred-pound girl with a Marlboro tainted larynx can think the world is hankering to hear her forget someone else’s lyrics is beyond me—but not beyond the countless individuals who, like Enorma McCantsing, express shock and dismay to discover in front of thirty-eight million people that screeching and stumbling through a Britney cover has only enriched our lives, not theirs.
We live in a generation in which some people mistake wanting something for deserving it and in which the bar for what some consider talent is so low that not even the limbo community’s most elite could pass under it. I don’t want you to be that person who puts himself out there to have dreams he should never have had in the ﬁrst place dashed in a grand spectacle before a commercial break. I don’t want my child’s hubris and/or naïveté winding up in a YouTube clip to accidentally entertain the masses.
For your beneﬁt, and mine, I offer you this sage advice: Have high, reasonable hopes.
These four words will save you—and your relatives—a lot of grief and embarrassment. It should seem like common sense, but common sense is like a Rubik’s Cube: We recall having it for a while but don’t exactly remember what we did with it.
I have met people who neither ﬁnished college nor held a job, yet spend their time imagining themselves as CEO of an as-yet-unnamed megacorporation. I know untrained, untalented actors with awful fake accents who expect to be ﬁlm stars someday. Some of the least funny people I’ve ever met were in a comedy class—certain they would eventually entertain a large audience that did not consist entirely of sympathetic, tortured family members. While some of these people are completely lazy and unmotivated, others are very driven—taking lessons, performing, generating endless screenplays and business plans— unfortunately they’re just not good at it.
Regardless of their energy level, all these individuals share one quality that I hope you will not develop and that I will try my hardest not to impart to you: complete and utter self-delusion. I want you to have big, reasonable dreams. I want you to succeed. I’m not saying, “You can’t”; I’m just saying, “Don’t fool yourself if you can’t.” As clichéd as it may sound, anything is possible. History is ﬁlled with people of all types and backgrounds who, especially in a country like the United States, have been able to cut amazing paths for themselves.
You can be an astronaut, or a president, or a movie star, or a guy who makes crossword puzzles I can’t ﬁnish. But it’s important that you realize there are ways of getting there—and they’re seldom easy. Wanting to be something is the ﬁrst step, not the ﬁnal step—a common mistake many people make before appearing on Fox to be eviscerated by Simon Cowell. The big mistake that people make is forgetting that wanting to be something has to be followed up with action to make that happen, coupled with the ability to be self-critical and reasonable. If you can be honest with yourself—sooner than later—it will prevent you from ﬁnding yourself onstage at forty-three in a dingy nightclub with an audience of eight people watching your soul die. So, you can do it. Dream big, practical dreams.
Have high, reasonable hopes.
This epidemic of overly conﬁdent, incredibly nontalented individuals with unrealistic expectations can be explained as the unfortunate by-product of a few things. The ﬁrst of which, I believe, was the epidemic of political correctness that started in the eighties. PC began with the best of intentions, but, like a bad rehearsal-dinner speech from a mean spirited best man, got ugly and uncomfortable. It created a culture—a not very bright one—that was passionate about not wanting to hurt anyone’s feelings. With its simplistic logic, calling someone “African American” rather than “black” took care of decades of inequality. Calling a handicapped child someone with “special needs” would eliminate the challenges of having a handicapped child. Your busboy went from “illegal” to “undocumented”—even though in reality he could be deported either way. Everyone believed things could be ﬁxed with words. This linguistic claptrap became a BBM (Big, Beautiful Monster) with gigantic, intellectually challenged tentacles that reached out and strangled other aspects of our lives. Suddenly teachers didn’t grade in red ink because it was “hurtful,” and teams no longer competed for points because that might imply one team was actually better than the other. Everyone got ribbons just for showing up at the race, lest they feel excluded.
According to the proﬁles on Match.com, we’re all “very good-looking,” too. It’s no wonder, then, that the end result is a generation or two of people who’ve never heard a discouraging word; people for whom the suggestion that they can’t direct, paint, sing, or make ﬂan is incomprehensible
Now, take those same folks and put them in today’s dual-income society, with Mom and Dad feeling guilty for not spending as much time with their children as they’d like. The moment the nanny goes home, the guilty parents ﬁ re up the coddling: Everything you do is great! You’re the best! G’night!
The consequences of this—as we see on TV far too often—is a kid who has spent a childhood being praised for merely existing. A child who never failed because failure was unpossible. A child who thinks unpossible is a word. Family, unpossible is a word. Family, unpossible friends, and society never once critiqued his abilities because under the laws of political correctness, constructive criticism became hate speech.
And so, we’re left with a child who dreams so big and stupid he spends two days sleeping in a tent for the chance to butcher “Proud Mary” in front of his countrymen. Great entertainment, indeed, but I don’t want that to be you.
April 23, 2008
It's Tax Freedom Day
I've been waiting all year for this (*rimshot*). Dan Mitchell writes at Cato-at-Liberty:
Taxpayers can breathe a sign of relief. According to the Tax Foundation, April 23 is Tax Freedom Day. That means that the average American has finally earned enough to pay estimated federal, state, and local taxes for 2008. One of the most depressing finding in the Tax Foundation’s report is that Americans pay more in tax than they do for food, clothing, and shelter combined. To compensate for being the bearer of bad fiscal news, the Tax Foundation released an amusing video. It doesn’t quite equal this classic tax video, but it’s worth watching.
Here are the video clips he mentions. This is the Tax Foundation's amusing video, Tax Freedom Day: The Song
And this is the "classic tax video": What Will They Tax Next? I believe this one's appeared here before but it's worth a second showing.
April 15, 2008
Ave atque vale, John Wheeler
CodeWritinFool passes along some sad news.
John A. Wheeler, Physicist Who Coined the Term ‘Black Hole,’ Is Dead at 96
The New York Times
By DENNIS OVERBYE
Published: April 14, 2008
John A. Wheeler, a visionary physicist and teacher who helped invent the theory of nuclear fission, gave black holes their name and argued about the nature of reality with Albert Einstein and Niels Bohr, died Sunday morning at his home in Hightstown, N.J. He was 96.
I own a book by Mr. Wheeler called A Journey Into Gravity and Spacetime. It's a great book.
February 27, 2008
Here's a collection of the 25 Funniest Analogies (Collected by High School English Teachers). It was one of those circulating e-mails that Judy Rose posted on her blog.
Here's my pick:
It was an American tradition, like fathers chasing kids around with power tools.
January 23, 2008
A new record
100 skydivers made a record-breaking canopy formation at Lake Wales, Florida last November.
December 27, 2007
As though we needed another argument for stopping the militarization of police forces...
Arrest in 911 SWATing Case
by Chris Ingalls
King 5 News
SEATTLE - The arrest of a Federal Way man has revealed a frightening and potentially dangerous telephone Hoax that sends police with guns drawn to the homes of innocent victims.
Thirty-one-year-old Guadalupe Martinez is in jail on a warrant from Texas. He’s wanted there on several charges stemming from hacking into phone systems. But, local officials believe he’s responsible for sending a fully armed SWAT team to a home in Snohomish County on January 2, frightening a woman who lives in the home and forcing the shutdown of Highway 9 for hours.
Here's a newscast about a swatting incident in Salinas, CA.
December 24, 2007
The $20 Theory
CodeWritinFool sends this article from Esquire; it's a little over 4 years old but interesting if, like me, you haven't seen it. (It's also in PDF, which will probably get you Adobe's oh-so-helpful-and-annoying "checking for upgrades" dialog.)
The $20 Theory of the Universe
There is almost nothing on earth that cannot be had for a price. The question is, what is that price? And the answer is twenty dollars.
Used correctly, a twenty is all about movement, access, cachet. Forget the other bills. The single won't get you much more than a stiff nod and, these days, the fin is de reigueur. A tenner is a nice thought, but it's also a message that you're a Wall-Mart shopper, too cheap for the real deal. A twenty, placed in the right hand at the right moment, makes things happen.
December 19, 2007
Drive someone insane
You are bidding on a rare chance to traumatize a treasured friend or relative with baffling, mind-numbing, mystery correspondence from abroad.
Here is the arrangement:
I will be spending the Christmas holiday in Poland in a tiny village that has one church with no bell because angry Germans stole it. Aside from vodka, there is not a lot for me to do.
During the course of my holiday I will send three postcards to one person of your choosing.
These postcards will be rant-ravingly insane, yet they will be peppered with unmistakable personal details about the addressee. Details you will provide me.
The postcards will not be coherently signed, leaving your mark confused, guessing wildly, crying out in anguish.
"How do I know this person? And how does he know I had a ferret named Goliath?"
December 10, 2007
Regardless of what we do or do not understand about art, we can all agree, it stimulates our senses. Broecker has aroused our sense of taste (not to mention eliminated the need of elbowing our way to the bar) by hanging flat, glass containers with a variety of cocktails in the exhibition space. As the night progressed, the levels of the multi-coloured infusions diminished. By the end of the event, the art, itself, ran dry, and empty drinking glasses were returned to where they were originally placed. By Andrew J Wiener.
December 06, 2007
December 03, 2007
From today's Post-Dispatch. "City" means the city of St. Louis. This sign is visible from one of the downtown freeways and one of the URLs is http://www.medac.info/.
Sign pits the city vs. policy critic
By Jake Wagman
ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
ST. LOUIS — Supporters say it's a political statement, maybe even art. The city says it's too big, a nuisance that needs to be removed.
Either way, a two-story mural decrying eminent domain is testing the boundaries of the First Amendment, sparking a federal lawsuit that challenges the city's intricate zoning code.
Another irony update
The state can sponsor a game that ex-cons can't play... Right. I'm thinking the lottery winnings miight keep him from robbing any more banks.
Ex-Con Could Lose Lottery Winnings
Hearing Ordered For Dec. 7
POSTED: 11:30 am EST November 29, 2007
BOSTON -- The winner of a $1 million lottery scratch ticket in Massachusetts may not be so lucky after all.
That's because 55-year-old Timothy Elliott is also a convicted bank robber who isn't supposed to be gambling.
Elliott has been ordered before a hearing on Dec. 7 on Cape Cod to determine if he violated his probation.
November 29, 2007
Cool cavern carvings
Eighth wonder of the world? The stunning temples secretly carved out below ground by 'paranormal' eccentric
by HAZEL COURTENEY
Last updated at 09:58am on 22nd November 2007
Nestling in the foothills of the Alps in northern Italy, 30 miles from the ancient city of Turin, lies the valley of Valchiusella. Peppered with medieval villages, the hillside scenery is certainly picturesque.
Here, 100ft down and hidden from public view, lies an astonishing secret - one that has drawn comparisons with the fabled city of Atlantis and has been dubbed 'the Eighth Wonder of the World' by the Italian government.
For weaving their way underneath the hillside are nine ornate temples, on five levels, whose scale and opulence take the breath away.
Hall of the Earth: An amazing room built on the 'supernatural' visions of its creator
November 21, 2007
The "Blog" of "Unnecessary" Quotation Marks
Another one from the You Can Find A Blog For Anything department. Check it out.
November 19, 2007
The end of an era
Wow! I had no idea that one of Edison's original DC stations was still running.
Off Goes the Power Current Started by Thomas Edison
By Jennifer 8. Lee
November 14, 2007, 12:53 pm
Today, Con Edison will end 125 years of direct current electricity service that began when Thomas Edison opened his Pearl Street power station on Sept. 4, 1882. Con Ed will now only provide alternating current, in a final, vestigial triumph by Nikola Tesla and George Westinghouse, Mr. Edison’s rivals who were the main proponents of alternating current in the AC/DC debates of the turn of the 20th century.
World Toilet Day
Believe it or not, I take pains to avoid gratuitous scatology. (Is there any other kind?) But since the World Toilet Organization has declared November 19th to be World Toilet Day, the recent news below seems especially timely.
'Mr. Toilet' builds commode-shaped house
By BURT HERMAN, Associated Press Writer
Fri Nov 9, 4:39 PM ET
SUWON, South Korea - Sim Jae-duck has made his political career as South Korea's Mr. Toilet by beautifying public restrooms. Now he's got a home befitting his title: a toilet-shaped domicile complete with the latest in lavatory luxury.
'Mr. Toilet' -- now there's a distinct sobriquet for you.
And HowStuffWorks explains what would happen if everyone in the US flushed at the same time. Go ahead; you know you've always wondered about that.
November 13, 2007
Busted by Facebook
Who says Facebook is the province of the young? Increasingly, the 30something bosses of naive recent college grads are proving adept at turning the social network against its earliest adopters. Kevin Colvin, an intern at Anglo Irish Bank's North American arm, was busted when he told his manager, Paul Davis, that he'd miss work due to what colleagues took to be a "family emergency". Davis turned up the photo above, freshly posted to Facebook from the Halloween party Colvin apparently missed work to attend, and attached it to his reply, copying the rest of the office as he did it. The email thread is now spreading around the net. After the jump, the entire exchange, and the incriminating photo.
November 08, 2007
From London's Daily Mail. Given the source, I assume it's legit.
Army tests James Bond style tank that is 'invisible'
Last updated at 11:56am on 30th October 2007
New technology that can make tanks invisible has been unveiled by the Ministry of Defence.
In secret trials last week, the Army said it had made a vehicle completely disappear and predicted that an invisible tank would be ready for service by 2012.
A soldier, who was at the trials, said: "This technology is incredible. If I hadn't been present I wouldn't have believed it. I looked across the fields and just saw grass and trees - but in reality I was staring down the barrel of a tank gun."
November 07, 2007
The thing I found amusing about this odd report was the mention of "Japanese-model motorcycles," which I took to mean "They weren't Harleys." I think most people would have a hard time telling 50 Yamahas from 50 BMWs while being attacked on a freeway.
Throng of cyclists terrifies motorists
By Carolyn Tuft
ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
A throng of about 50 motorcyclists has terrified two separate motorists and has local police officers scratching their heads as to what to do about it.
The two episodes involved motorcyclists who surrounded vehicles on well-known thoroughfares in St. Louis and St. Louis County. The cyclists in both cases drove Japanese-model motorcycles. Both motorists said that they were almost forced to stop on the roadway because the cyclists were throwing things at their vehicles or kicking them.
According to a 911 tape released by police, Rick pleaded for police to help him:
"There's 50 of them (motorcyclists) and they're trying to take over the highway. ...This guy just threw something at my car. You gotta get some cops out here. The whole highway is jammed," the man said. The sound of motorcycle engines whined in the background.
"My daughter's crying and they're kicking my car" and hitting the mirror, the man continued.
October 31, 2007
So how were those "beef" enchiladas?
Restaurant Closed After Deer Carcass Found
Business Reopens On Probation After Two-Day Closure
POSTED: 8:22 am EDT October 30, 2007
UPDATED: 4:51 pm EDT October 30, 2007
GREENCASTLE, Ind. -- A Mexican restaurant in Greencastle, Ind., was closed for nearly two days after a health inspector noticed a deer carcass had been butchered on the kitchen floor, officials said.
The deer was roadkill that a Department of Natural Resources officer offered to restaurant employees. An employee signed for the carcass and took it to the kitchen, officials said.
And if that's not scary enough...
Center Treats Wrong Side Of Patient's Brain
Patient Treated At Cancer Center
POSTED: 8:30 am EDT October 30, 2007
UPDATED: 8:49 pm EDT October 30, 2007
DETROIT -- A patient undergoing treatment at the Karmanos Cancer Institute in Detroit received a dose of radiation on the wrong side of the brain, according to a report filed with the United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
According to the report, a crucial piece of information was misread prior to treatment with a gamma knife, which delivers a targeted form of radiation therapy that zeros in on specific locations in the brain.
October 09, 2007
Yeah... what he said
In this article at Fox News - Al Sharpton Vows to Protest Unless Isiah Thomas Apologizes to Women - New York Knicks coach Isiah Thomas is quoted as saying:
"You can't say that. You can say what you didn't say because if you say what you didn't say, than y'all print what is said. That's how you got me on the Bird stuff," Thomas said. "Whenever you say something, it just twists it."
And you thought those quotes from athletic types were made up, didn't you?
October 08, 2007
You will learn
A few weeks back, on the Dilbert blog, I ran across mention of Scott Meyer's Basic Instructions cartoon site. I have yet to read one of those comics that I didn't find very amusing.
Scott's latest Basic Instruction is How to Write a Haiku. Here's the second of four panels:
October 06, 2007
Walk For a Cure
I generally avoid blegs and publicizing good causes, but every rule has its exceptions. My favorite schoolmarm is organizing a walk-a-thon to raise money for colon cancer research.
If you live in the St. Louis area and want to check this out, click on the image or first link below for full details. St. Albans is just across the Franklin County line, near Labadie on Highway T (AKA St. Albans Road). That's a few miles west of the intersection of Routes 100 and 109.
Saturday October 6th, 2007 from 12.30 – 2.30 PM
At St. Albans Lake, just off Highway T
CALLING ALL WALKERS or RUNNERS - PLEASE JOIN US AND HELP THIS VITAL RESEARCH
Come along on the day and enjoy the beautiful surroundings and fall colors by the lake.
October 03, 2007
Cops writing cops
Last week, there was some buzz about an interesting site called Cops Writing Cops. (Where 'writing' means 'citing for a traffic violation'.)
Cops at this site complain about getting ticketed by other cops for traffic violations as though they were ordinary citizens. Aren't you outraged by that? Here's a blackly humorous example from the site.
I would like to nominate Officer Mike Buzan from Crete,IL as a "DICK." Recently Ofc Buzan wrote a Lansing,IL police officer. And of course this was after a rookie officer (Taylor) arrested a Lansing Police Officer's wife on a suspended license (Emissions)-And he has been talked to, and advised that we do not arrest or write cops or their wives.
Heres the situation: The Ofc. from Lansing was riding his motorcycle. He "popped" a wheely and landed up dumping his bike and crashing. Not the smartest thing to do, but no property damage and no one injured; including the Lansing Officer. The situation could of been resolved with a simple 10-50 report. But No, Officer Buzan who has been a police officer for about 18 years decides the Lansing Officer will get not one ticket, but TWO tickets. Officer Buzan is well known (not well liked) at The Crete P.D. as being someone who thinks he should "police" the police.
What I haven't figured out is why these people think the law should apply to everyone except the people who enforce it. What the hell are the rest of us? Chopped liver?
And, on the opposite side of this coin, here's a story about a police chief in Wisconsin who "wrote a cop" -- himself.
Police Chief Writes Himself Ticket
POSTED: 11:38 am CST January 30, 2007
KEWASKUM, Wis. -- It's not usually news when a police officer writes a ticket -- unless it's the chief and he gives the ticket to himself.
Village of Kewaskum Police Chief Richard Knoebel said he was driving to work when he became distracted by a truck stopping on one side of the street.
He said he didn't see a school bus with its lights flashing and a stop sign out on the other side of the four-lane road.
The chief said he didn't know he had passed the stopped bus until it was too late.
When he realized what he had done, he issued himself a $235 ticket.
Now that's my kind o' cop.
October 01, 2007
Blessed are the merciful
...for they shall obtain mercy.
Homeowner Offers Burglar Breakfast
Suspect Wanted By Police
POSTED: 8:45 am EDT September 24, 2007
UPDATED: 3:24 pm EDT September 24, 2007
SAN ANTONIO -- A man said he had a heart-to-heart conversation with an armed burglar over a cup of coffee after he found him stealing his belongings from his home on Sept. 11, KSAT-TV in San Antonio reported.
Steve Swanson said he found a man, whom police suspect is Armando Hernandez, stealing items from his home.
"I said, 'What are you doing here?'" Swanson said. "He said, 'I'm taking your stuff, and it's too bad you showed up.'"
Swanson said the man was carrying a knife in one hand and a gun in the other, but he didn't panic.
"I said, 'You don't want to do this. First of all, if you harm me or kill me, I'm just going to go to heaven. You're going to go to prison forever,'" Swanson said.
September 15, 2007
One of the annoying things about believing in free will and individual responsibility is the difficulty of finding somebody to blame your problems on. And when you do find somebody, it's remarkable how often his picture turns up on your driver's license. - P.J. O'Rourke
September 01, 2007
Call me a dinosaur
A couple of months back, David Boaz had a good closing to one of his posts at Cato-at-liberty.org (an outstanding group blog, btw).
Maybe libertarians should try to describe their philosophy by saying “libertarians believe in the free speech that liberals used to believe in, and the economic freedom that conservatives used to believe in."
Roger that, David.
August 06, 2007
This is being reported as straight news. They may be as cheap as 45,000 pounds sterling (around $90,000 US).
Flying Saucers Go Into Production
Updated: 11:40, Friday August 03, 2007
A "flying saucer" that glides three metres above the ground and carries two people has gone into commerical production.
US company Moller International has begun to manufacture parts for its Jetsons-like personal flying pod, the M200G Volantor.
The M200G is the size of a small car and is designed to take off and land vertically.
August 02, 2007
Only in China
If you follow the link to this article in Foreign Policy, you'll see pix of these innovations.
A Virgin Mary-themed urinal? Only in China.
Tue, 07/10/2007 - 10:43am.
First came round, open air urinals on the city's infamous "Foreigners Street," featuring tiny waist screens that left little to the imaginations of passers-by. Then came news of outdoor sinks, pictured at right, that made the hand-washing experience, um, different. Now comes news that the city has opened the world's largest restroom. The four-story, 1,000-stall facility features TVs, a soothing soundtrack piped throughout, crocodile- and Virgin Mary-themed urinals, and stalls with no roofs for those who prefer to relieve themselves al fresco. Says a local government official:"We are spreading toilet culture.... After they use the bathroom [people] will be very, very happy."
You can't argue with that.
July 27, 2007
Oscar the Cat
At Rhode Island nursing home, death comes purring
A two-year-old cat has become a telltale sign of death at a Rhode Island nursing home, curling up beside dying patients in their final few hours, says a touching essay in the New England Journal of Medicine.
Dr. David Dosa, a geriatrician at the Steere House Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Providence, detailed the phenomenon Thursday in a brief essay titled "A Day in the Life of Oscar the Cat."
July 20, 2007
This snippet comes from H.L. Mencken's essay Drill for a Rookie, which is about his early years as a court reporter in Baltimore, Maryland. The prelude to this bit is that Mencken had testified before a police board against two detectives accused of being found in a "bawdy dance hall." But, since he didn't want to see them convicted, he managed to "...sophisticate my testimony with so many ifs and buts that it went for nothing and they were acquitted..."
I made up my mind at once that my true and natural allegiance was to the Devil's party, and it has been my firm belief ever since that all persons who devote themselves to forcing virtue on their fellow men deserve nothing better than kicks in the pants. Years later I put that belief into a proposition which I ventured to call Mencken's Law, to wit:Whenever A annoys or injures B on the pretense of saving or improving X, A is a scoundrel.
The moral theologians, unhappily, have paid no heed to this contribution to their science, and so Mencken's Law must wait for recognition until the dawn of a more enlightened age.
If Google can't tell you
...you probably don't need to know.
Googling "how to crack a safe" nets robbers $12,000
By Jacqui Cheng | Published: July 10, 2007 - 11:17PM CT
Google has become so ubiquitous in many people's daily lives that it serves as the all-encompassing information source on how to do nearly anything: jump a car, tie a tie, fold a pocket square, remove ketchup stains. Oh, and crack open a safe to steal $12,000. That's what a couple of burglars did last month in Colorado, when they broke into an indoor amusement center called Bigg City armed with the knowledge they thought they needed in order to get into a couple of safes. The burglars knew the passcodes to the safes in question but were still unable to open them after several tries, so they eventually resorted to their good friend Google to tell them how.
The Google search proved fruitful for the two burglars, as they were able to get the information they needed and walk away with $12,000 in cash as well as a PlayStation and a laptop. And despite their inept attempts to outwit the security cameras, they have not yet been arrested.
July 16, 2007
Borlaug to be honored
WFP Founder Norman Borlaug to receive America's highest civilian honor
Congressional Gold Medal will be given to “Father of Green Revolution” on July 17 UPDATED: June 28, 2007
(DES MOINES, IA, USA) - President George W. Bush and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi will award World Food Prize Founder and 1970 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Dr. Norman Borlaug with the Congressional Gold Medal, America's highest civilian honor.
The ceremony will take place at the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C. on July 17, 2007. An original gold medal has been created by the United States mint commemorating Dr. Borlaug's achievements.
July 10, 2007
Got what it takes?
Immigrants to the U.S. must pass a civics test to become naturalized citizens. Here's a chance to see how you'd do at it.
Do you have what it takes to become a citizen?
When immigrants want to become Americans, they must take a civics test as part of their naturalization interview before a Citizenship and Immigration Services (INS) officer. The questions are usually selected from a list of 100 sample questions that prospective citizens can look at ahead of the interview (though the examiner is not limited to those questions). Some are easy, some are not. We have picked some of the more difficult ones.
Candidates are not given multiple choices in the naturalization interview, which is conducted orally.
July 04, 2007
As the Right Honorable Baroness Thatcher once said, "European nations... are a product of their history. While America is a product of philosophy."
Happy anniversary, fellow citizens, and let's toast that philosophy.
June 13, 2007
People in a glass house
At Althouse's I came across a link to an article in the NYT about Philip Johnson's glass house in Connecticut.
The slideshow has some interesting pictures in it.
Not a bit o' blight to be seen
From today's St. Louis Post-Dispatch, here's a follow-up to an eariler post about an eminent domain battle in Clayton, a suburb of St. Louis.
No blight in Clayton says court
By William C. Lhotka, Margaret Gillerman and Tim O'Neil
ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
The Missouri Supreme Court narrowed the bounds of eminent domain Tuesday in rejecting the Centene Plaza plan for downtown Clayton and raising the bar for taking private property.
The upscale city failed to prove that property in the 7700 block of Forsyth Boulevard was blighted, the judges ruled in a 6-1 decision favoring landowners who fought condemnation.
A 6-1 decision... cool!
June 11, 2007
You'd need a big UPS
...to keep a roller coaster running.
Blackout Stops Coaster Riders Upside-Down
Some Stuck 150 Feet Up For Half Hour
POSTED: 6:16 pm EDT June 10, 2007
HOT SPRINGS, Ark. -- "It was very scary," said Connie McBride, and she says she will never get on the X-Coaster again.
A dozen riders were on the roller coaster at an amusement park in Hot Springs, Ark., Saturday night when it and several other rides lost power, leaving riders suspended upside-down for about a half hour. Some were hanging 150 feet above ground.
June 09, 2007
Interesting safety campaign
Bill Kennedy submitted this to rec.humor.funny:
The local power company where I'm working on assignment decided that they would do a promotion for public safety. They thought that distributing whistles would allow their customers and others to whistle for help.
Not thinking too clearly, the whistles were produced with the legend:
NEED HELP? BLOW ME!
June 01, 2007
Hydrogen on demand
New fuel for 21st century -- aluminum pellets?
By Julie Steenhuysen Fri May 18, 2:40 PM ET
CHICAGO (Reuters) - Pellets made out of aluminum and gallium can produce pure hydrogen when water is poured on them, offering a possible alternative to gasoline-powered engines, U.S. scientists say.
The metal compound pellets may offer a way, said Jerry Woodall, an engineering professor at Purdue University in Indiana who invented the system.
"The hydrogen is generated on demand, so you only produce as much as you need when you need it," Woodall said in a statement. He said the hydrogen would not have to be stored or transported, taking care of two stumbling blocks to generating hydrogen.
For now, the Purdue scientists think the system could be used for smaller engines like lawn mowers and chain saws. But they think it would work for cars and trucks as well, either as a replacement for gasoline or as a means of powering hydrogen fuel cells.
May 29, 2007
Big Donor Show
I wonder what Virginia Postrel would think of this?
TV Contestants Vie For Terminally Ill Patient's Kidney
Woman Will Choose One Of Three Contestants
POSTED: 9:33 am EDT May 29, 2007
AMSTERDAM, Netherlands -- The outcome of a Dutch reality show could literally mean the difference between life and death.
The new TV show centers around a terminally ill woman who will choose one of three contestants to receive one of her kidneys after she dies.
TV executives said the "Big Donor Show" will highlight the country's shortage of organ donors.
Update, 6/4/07, from CBS News:
Dutch Organ Donor Reality Show A Hoax
Broadcaster Says Aim Was To Get More Attention For Issue Of Organ Donations
(CBS/AP) A television show in which a woman would donate a kidney to a contestants was revealed as a hoax Friday. Presenters said they were trying to pressure the government into reforming organ donation laws.
At the last moment, presenter Patrick Lodiers of the "Big Donor Show" said the woman known as "Lisa" was an actress, not actually dying of a brain tumor as claimed.
The entire exercise was intended to pressure the government into reforming its organ donation laws and raise public awareness of the need for organs.
May 28, 2007
May 11, 2007
Things your mother would never say
Well, if Timmy's mom says it's OK, that's good enough for me.
How on earth can you see the TV sitting so far back?
Yeah, I used to skip school a lot, too.
Just leave all the lights on. It makes the house look more cheery.
Let me smell that shirt. OK, it's good for another week.
Go ahead and keep that stray dog, honey. I'll be glad to feed and walk him every day.
Don't bother wearing a jacket - the wind-chill is bound to improve.
The curfew is just a general time to shoot for. It's not like I'm running a prison around here.
I don't have a tissue with me - just use your sleeve.
And speaking of mothers
Remember the line "That only a mother could love..."?
Mother's memoir reveals sensitive Stalin
Last Updated: 2:06am BST 09/05/2007
Josef Stalin, the monstrous Soviet dictator responsible for the deaths of millions, was a "sensitive child" with a love of flowers, his mother's memoirs have revealed.
Stalin was born in Georgia in 1878, the only child of a cobbler, Beso Djugashvili and his wife, Keke. In her memoirs, released from a secret Soviet archive, she detailed how a series of illnesses and accidents left "Soso" - her nickname for Josef - partially crippled, and how he coped with a violent alcoholic father.
"My Soso was a very sensitive child," said Keke. "As soon as he heard the sound of his father singing balaam-balaam from the street, he'd immediately run to me asking if he could go to our neighbours' until his father fell asleep."
Via Reason's Hit & Run
April 29, 2007
Weekend reading 19
And some good news for a change.
First, some Eminent Domain blow-back here in St. Louis, as described in this article from the Post-Dispatch:
Eminent domain flashpoint
By William C. Lhotka and Tim O'Neil
ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
CLAYTON — The condemnation of prime land in downtown Clayton for a $210 million redevelopment got a setback Tuesday and a fast-track ride to the Missouri Supreme Court for a review of the taking of private property for commercial use.
It was the first victory for three landowners who insist it was ridiculous to declare their upscale buildings blighted to make way for an office-retail project by the Centene Plaza Redevelopment Corp.
Calling any part of downtown Clayton "blighted" is so ridiculous it just beggars description. I was at the county courthouse in Clayton last week for jury duty and was struck by just how upscale downtown Clayton looks. Here's the kind of "blight" you'll find in Clayton (from city-data.com with my emphasis and parenthetical comment):
Median resident age: 36.7 years
Estimated median household income in 2005: $68,900 [national median in 2005: $46,326.]
Estimated median house/condo value in 2005: $601,400
Next, maybe we really do have a First Amendment? Here's a report from The Seattle Times about a unanimous decision by the Washington State Supreme Court.
Supreme Court says radio talk not a political donation
Posted by David Postman at 08:46 AM
The state Supreme Court said in an opinion released this morning that KVI talk show hosts did not need to report their advocacy for an anti-gas tax campaign as an in-kind political contribution. And the court has reinstated a countersuit filed by the No New Gas Tax (NNGT) campaign against local governments that initially sued.
Note that this suit was brought against the radio station by some local governments. (Your tax dollars at work, Washingtonians.) So I'm thrilled to see this spade called what it was: the government repressing speech that opposed a tax increase.
The US Supreme Court also heard a BCRA-related case this week. Maybe they'll put a stake through the heart of McCain-Feingold.
Finally, an interesting blog post at American.com called Flat World, Flat Taxes.
From Montenegro to Mauritius, competition is making tax codes simpler and fairer.
Fifteen years ago, advocates of the flat tax had lots of supporting theory, but very little firm data. Milton Friedman had championed the flat tax, and Alvin Rabushka and Robert Hall of the Hoover Institution authored an elegant book detailing how a flat tax would work, but the political establishment largely ignored these efforts. Hong Kong had a flat tax, but critics said it was somehow a special case. Two other British territories, Jersey and Guernsey, also had flat tax systems, but the outside world was (and largely still is) unaware of those systems.
The world has changed. Today, spurred by tax competition, there are now 16 jurisdictions that have some form of flat tax, and two more nations are about to join the club. With the exception of Iceland and Mauritius, all of the new flat tax nations are former Soviet Republics or former Soviet Bloc nations. This is a sign of tax competition in the region, and shows that people who suffered under communism are less susceptible to class-warfare rhetoric about “taxing the rich.”
Via the CFG blog.
I've read that even the Swiss are getting in on this act because their capital gains taxes are driving banking business to other locations in Europe (primarily London).
April 15, 2007
Read it and weep
April 10, 2007
Money and power
What was it P.J. O'Rourke said about government?
Florida: City to Seize Homes Over a $5 Parking Ticket
Brooksville, Florida proposes to foreclose homes and seize cars over less than $20 in parking tickets.
Brooksville, FloridaThe city council in Brooksville, Florida voted this week to advance a proposal granting city officials the authority to place liens and foreclose on the homes of motorists accused of failing to pay a single $5 parking ticket. Non-homeowners face having their vehicles seized if accused of not paying three parking offenses.
Via The Agitator.
April 03, 2007
Miniland Las Vegas is now open in Legoland, CA.
April 01, 2007
The Taco Liberty Bell
...and 99 other funny hoaxes are described in the Top 100 April Fool's Day Hoaxes at the Museum of Hoaxes.
#4: The Taco Liberty Bell
In 1996 the Taco Bell Corporation announced that it had bought the Liberty Bell from the federal government and was renaming it the Taco Liberty Bell. Hundreds of outraged citizens called up the National Historic Park in Philadelphia where the bell is housed to express their anger.
March 28, 2007
A little follow-up
To last week's item about the 'island house'. (My emphasis in the quote.)
CHONGQING, China -- Visitors and supporters gather to look at a lone surviving house in an excavated construction site in Chongqing, in southwest China. The owners of the house have defied a court order to move, after refusing an offer of compensation from the site developer. The dispute comes days after China's controversial new property law, which protects private property rights, was approved by the country's legislature. (03/26/07 AP photo/EyePress)
Hmm... I wonder what are the odds that we could get a "controversial ... law which protects private property" passed in New Jersey?
March 20, 2007
Flex your rights
The folks at FlexYourRights.org have a quiz to test your knowledge of your rights when dealing with police. (Via The Agitator.) As my late father-in-law once told me, "If you don't enforce your rights, you don't have any."
The FlexYourRights site also offers a DVD version of BUSTED, a video dealing with the same topic. As it happens, CodeWritinFool sent me a link to BUSTED at Google Video a few months ago. The version at Google Video is 45 minutes long and it may be the same as the DVD version.
February 05, 2007
Love the headline
Anti-Hooters City Gets Two Of Them
POSTED: 7:31 pm EST February 1, 2007
TROY, Mich. -- Not every city can boast of having a Neiman Marcus. Troy can. But the Detroit suburb also has something about which it would prefer not to brag.
Troy is now home to two Hooters restaurants, just two miles apart.
February 02, 2007
Quis custodiet custodes ipsos
Who watches the watchers?
CCTV to safeguard speed cameras
Speed cameras in the Scottish Borders may soon be monitored by security cameras to protect them from vandals.
It is among the measures being considered by the Lothian and Borders Safety Camera Partnership.
There have been seven camera attacks in just three years, with machines being set alight, damaged or pulled over.
Via Coyote blog.
February 01, 2007
Another light bulb joke
How many legislators does it take to change a light bulb?
In California, the answer is a majority -- plus Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Via Hit & Run.
January 30, 2007
No Such Thing as Free Space Ride for Contest Winners
Monday, January 29, 2007
LOS ANGELES — Brian Emmett's childhood fantasy came true when he won a free trip to outer space. He was crushed when he had to cancel his reservation because of Uncle Sam.
Emmett won his ticket to the heavens in a 2005 sweepstakes by Oracle Corp., in which he answered a series of online questions on Java computer code. He became an instant celebrity, giving media interviews and appearing on stage at Oracle's trade show.
For the self-described space buff who has attended space camp and watched shuttle launches from Kennedy Space Center, it seemed like a chance to become an astronaut on a dime.
Then reality struck. After some number-crunching, Emmett realized he would have to report the $138,000 galactic joy ride as income and owe $25,000 in taxes. Unwilling to sink into debt, the 31-year-old software consultant from the San Francisco Bay area gave up his seat.
Via Hit & Run.
January 26, 2007
Homelessness or imprisonment?
The question for the day is: If you had to chose one, would you chose to be homeless or to be in jail?
My son was telling me last weekend that he'd been talking with some classmates about whether liberty or security was more important. Specifically: Would they rather the government guaranteed their freedoms or guaranteed them the basic food and shelter necessary for life? About ten of them fell into this discussion while waiting for the rest of the class to finish a task. These are 11th and 12th grade students.
According to my son, the large majority of his classmates said they'd pick the second choice: having a guarantee of the necessities of life over a guarantee of liberties. (Let me note that the chances of any of his classmates having actually gone hungry for more than a day would be very close to zero.)
Then he added that they'd put the question in more concrete terms. Which would you prefer: to be homeless or to be in jail? I thought this was an interesting development in the conversation and a great reduction of the argument. Again, the large majority - including the instructor - said they'd prefer jail to homelessness.
To me, this is a no-brainer along the lines of, "Would you rather have your leg broken or have your eyes put out?" Being homeless, while not something I'd volunteer for, is still the lesser of these evils.
But what do you think? Comments are open to all.
January 22, 2007
January 22nd is teh sux0r
Most miserable day of the year
TODAY is set to be the most miserable day of the year, a psychologist has claimed.
January 22 emerged as the worst date when common reasons for the blues were totted up.
Dr Cliff Arnalls’ formula takes into account things like Christmas debt, fading memories of holidays, failing New Year resolutions and lack of daylight.
January 17, 2007
CodeWritinFool sends a link to this lengthy but humorous tale of a biter bit at 419eater.com.
January 15, 2007
I heard from folks out of town about the doom-n-gloom being reported about St. Louis. Though that news may have been overblown, we did have some serious icy rain here and we did do without electric service for a spell (36 hours at my house).
This image shows a branch on a tree in my yard which is ordinarily well over my head. But after being loaded with ice, it was hanging just off the ground: the perspective here is eye-level. The twigs on this branch were covered with 2-3 times their diameters in ice. In the background are less limber branches that had fallen to the ground.
But the trees hardest hit were the evergreens. Their many needles make excellent ice collectors. In this image, the evergreen in the foreground (at the right) is a yew tree that accumulated so much ice it was uprooted and simply toppled. Beyond that, you can see in the distance a scrub pine about 12 feet tall that has so much ice on it that it's bent double over the pavement, with its top touching the ground.
And hovering over that poor pine is another yew that's seriously listing to port. It leaned a lot from the weight of the ice, but it didn't break. Yew wood is amazingly supple and hard to snap, which is why the ice damage is so surprising. (And why it's still used for making bows.)
Most of the ice storm happened on Saturday. Luckily, the temperature on Sunday stayed above freezing (34-35 °F) so the ice began to melt. When the rain came again on Sunday evening, the temperature stayed high enough that the rain helped melt the rest of the ice. By Monday morning, the ice had mostly disappeared - which was good news for those of us waiting for power to be restored.
Where were you in '72?
Here's a Birthday-card-in-advance for all of you 1954 models out there. I ran across it awhile back at Postsecret.
Many happy returns when your tomorrow arrives this year.
January 13, 2007
I had a pleasant shock from the front page of this morning's Post-Dispatch. It said that 13-year-old Ben Ownby had been found yesterday -- he was kidnapped last Monday near Beaufort, MO. And it also said that 15-year-old Shawn Hornbeck had been found at the same apartment. Shawn was kidnapped in October, 2002, when he was 11 years old.
Shawn on the left (in 2002), Ben on the right in this SLP-D photo.
What really brought it home to me, though, was a large ad at our local supermarket that described Shawn and sought information about him: the "Have you seen me?" kind of ad. Someone had written "FOUND!" on a sheet of note paper and taped it over the ad.
I can't begin to imagine how their parents must be feeling right now. Another article in the P-D described local reactions:
In St. Charles, where Scott Allen Kleeschulte has been missing since 1988, a manager at the Dierberg's supermarket announced over the store's PA system that the boys had been found. Shoppers stopped in the aisles, clapped each other on the back, hooting and applauding.
People in the Union area [near Beaufort, where Ben lives - JdJ] rushed to the Wal-Mart to make sure friends and neighbors had heard, said store greeter Bob Galen, 71.
"The whole store erupted in cheers," Galen said.
January 03, 2007
Here's a clip showing how to tweak IE and Firefox to improve their performance over broadband. Lightning Fast Browsing Trick For Internet Explorer And Firefox.
Make web pages load lightning fast.. A must-see tweak for Firefox and Internet Explorer users. Most browsers are configured for dial-up.. Tweak the settings to boost surfing speeds and minimize page load times.
Via Chris DiClerico.
I'll bet Tom's smiling about this
From the Washington Post's Reliable Source column:
Rep.-elect Keith Ellison, the first Muslim elected to Congress, found himself under attack last month when he announced he'd take his oath of office on the Koran -- especially from Virginia Rep. Virgil Goode, who called it a threat to American values.
Yet the holy book at tomorrow's ceremony has an unassailably all-American provenance. We've learned that the new congressman -- in a savvy bit of political symbolism -- will hold the personal copy once owned by Thomas Jefferson.
As Ronald Bailey points out at Reason's Hit & Run: "Jefferson's home Monticello is in Goode's district."
December 22, 2006
Merry Christmas from Susette Kelo
Via the Reason blog:
Here is my house that you did take
From me to you, this spell I make
Your houses, your homes
Your family, your friends
May they live in misery
That never ends.
I curse you all
May you rot in hell
To each of you
I send this spell
For the rest of your lives
I wish you ill
I send this now By the power of will
December 12, 2006
Nothing to hide?
Susan Hallowell, the director of the Transportation Security Administration's security laboratory, allows her body to be X-rayed by the "backscatter" machine at the Transportation Security Administration in Egg Harbor Township, N.J., Wednesday, June 25, 2003. Sky Harbor International Airport in Phoenix Arizona will test the new federal screening system that takes X-rays of passenger's bodies to detect concealed explosives and other weapons. The technology, called backscatter, has been around for several years but has not been widely used in the U.S. as an anti-terrorism tool because of privacy concerns.
December 04, 2006
but I think this tax advice from Steve F is the straight dope. I believe it's related to the repeal of the Spanish-American War Tax I posted about last August.
A special one-time tax credit on your 2006 tax return
When it comes time to prepare and file your 2006 tax return, make sure you don't overlook the federal excise tax refund credit. You claim the credit on line 71 of your form 1040. A similar line will be available if you file the short form 1040A. If you have family or friends who no longer file a tax return AND they have their own land phone in their home and have been paying a phone bill for years, make sure they know about this form 1040EZ-T.
What is this all about? Well the federal excise tax has been charge to you on your phone bill for years. It is an old tax that was assessed on your toll calls based on how far the call was being made and how much time you talked on that call. When phone companies began to offer flat fee phone service, challenges to the excise tax ended up in federal courts in several districts of the country.
The challenges pointed out that flat fee/rate phone service had nothing to do with the distance and the length of the phone call. Therefore, the excise tax should/could not be assessed.
The IRS has now conceded this argument. Phone companies have been given notice to stop assessing the federal excise tax as of August 30, 2006. You will most likely see the tax on your September cutoff statement, but it should NOT be on your October bill.
But the challengers of the old law also demanded restitution. So the IRS has announced that a one time credit will be available when you and I file our 2006 tax return as I explained above. However, the IRS also established limits on how BIG a credit you can get. Here's how it works.
If you file your return as a single person with just you as a dependent, you get to claim a $30 credit on line 71 of your 1040.
If you file with a child or a parent as your dependent, you claim $40.
If you file your return as a married couple with no children ,you claim $40.
If you file as married with children, you claim $50 if one child, $60 if two children.
In all cases, the most you get to claim is $60 - UNLESS you have all your phone bills starting AFTER Feb 28, 2003 through July 31, 2006 (do not use any bills starting Aug 1, 2006.), then you can add up the ACTUAL TAX AS IT APPEARS ON YOUR BILLS AND CLAIM THAT FOR A CREDIT.
Now if you have your actual phone bills and come up with an ACTUAL TAX AMOUNT, you cannot use line 71 on your tax return. You have to complete a special form number 8913 and attach it to your tax return.
Individuals using the special from 1040EZ-T will have to attach this form 8913 also.
One final point - this credit is a refundable credit. That means you get this money, no matter how your tax return works out. If you would end up owing the IRS a balance, the refund will reduce that balance you owe.
If you end up getting a refund, the credit will be added and you get a bigger refund by that $30 to $60, depending on how many dependents are on your return.
Feel free to pass this on or make copies for family and friends who don't have computers.
December 01, 2006
The 1st of December
Now the first of December was covered with snow
And so was the turnpike from Stockbridge to Boston.
Lord, the Berkshires seemed dream-like on account of that frosting
With ten miles behind me and ten thousand more to go.
November 29, 2006
The first remarkable close-up pictures of animals in the womb
Last updated at 16:31pm on 22nd November 2006
An unborn elephant, tiny but perfect in every way. A dolphin swimming in the womb, just as it will have to swim in the ocean the moment it is born. An unborn dog panting.
Each one amazing and now, thanks to these remarkable pictures, they can be seen for the first time.
November 28, 2006
A super deal
And I see there's a Lois Lane just off Lindbergh near South County mall.
Live On Lois Lane? You Get Free Pizza
POSTED: 7:21 am EST November 28, 2006
METROPOLIS, Ill. -- It's a bird! It's a plane! It's a pizza?
With "Superman Returns" about to be released on DVD, Papa John's pizza is offering a related marketing giveaway faster than a speeding bullet -- a free pizza to folks living on the nation's Lois Lanes.
November 27, 2006
Web Site Lets You Report Jerks On Road
POSTED: 9:09 am EST November 21, 2006
Get cut off by some idiot on the freeway?
Now you can avoid doing something stupid on the road in retaliation and still get a little bit even.
Two Washington, D.C.-area men have created a Web site that allows people to post the license plate numbers of bad drivers.
Mark Buckman, a northern Virginia computer consultant, told The Washington Post he's outraged by careless, rude or inattentive drivers. He's co-founder of platewire.com. Buckman said they have hundreds of messages from drivers venting over the idiots they encounter on the roads.
November 17, 2006
A long and productive life
At Hit & Run, Brian Doherty wrote:
Undoubtedly the most successful and influential proponent of libertarian thought in the 20th century, Milton Friedman, died [...] at age 94. His successes as both a technical economist and libertarian polemicist are enormous. We can thank him, in large part, for happy events from the elimination of the draft to the conquest of inflation. Just a quick note now--his impact was staggering, and there could never be enough words said in praise of him.
Update, 11/19: I've fallen behind in my blog-reading this week so I just found out that Andrew Roth has posted a great collection of links to articles and comments about Mr. Friedman at the Club For Growth blog. Start at the top (Tom Sowell Remembers Friedman - November 18th) and keep scrolling.
November 16, 2006
In the sea of stones
A yacht, sailing the Pacific, came across such a Wonder. "Early afternoon, somewhere east of the Lau Group in Fiji," wrote its captain, Fredrik Fransson. "We are sailing south of the island group to avoid having to pass through it during night. Yesterday we saw the birth of an island, most likely we were the first humans to see the new creation."
The collection of photos they took is here.
November 11, 2006
Remember those who serve
Today is Veterans' Day.
And yesterday was the 231st anniversary for the USMC. Steve R sends this nicely done PowerPoint slideshow he got from "his jarhead brother." (1.1 MB)
November 03, 2006
Test tube organ
British scientists grow human liver in a laboratory
By FIONA MacRAE, Science Reporter
Last updated at 12:32pm on 31st October 2006
British scientists have grown the world's first artificial liver from stem cells in a breakthrough that will one day provide entire organs for transplant.
The technique that created the 'mini-liver', currently the size of a one pence piece, will be developed to create a full-size functioning liver.
The liver tissue is created from stem cells - blank cells capable of developing into different types of tissue - found in blood from the umbilical cord.
October 27, 2006
"Go crazy, folks"
Fans to make Mr. Buck proud
By Mark Kiszla
Denver Post Staff Columnist
Article Last Updated:10/25/2006 12:01:24 AM MDT
St. Louis - A Cardinals fan dropped a love letter at the base of the gravestone, in case the dead had not heard the news. The World Series was coming home to the unofficial baseball capital of America.
The plain, gray marker can be found south of town, in Section 84 of Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery. The gravesite must have looked a little lonely on the eve of the Fall Classic. So somebody brought a pumpkin for decoration, and wrote a note that began: "Dear Mr. Buck. Thinking of you, for today is a great day for baseball."
October 24, 2006
Some folks (organized as a California not-for-profit corp.) are planning a centennial celebration of Heinlein's birth in Kansas City next summer. From their site:
July 7, 2007 will be the birth centennial of American author, futurist, philosopher and spaceflight advocate Robert A. Heinlein. Commemoration and celebrations will fill the science fiction Grandmaster's Centennial year, with the grandest event to be held on the weekend of July 6, 7 and 8 in his home town of Kansas City, Missouri.
The time is now to make your plans to join us for this huge, once in a lifetime gathering, remembrance and birthday celebration. Whether you're a science fiction fan, a student of Heinlein's work and legacy or involved with the growing world of commercial spaceflight... This is where you'll want to be that weekend. Don't miss out!
October 23, 2006
Steve F writes, "Wow, more FUD (fear uncertanty & doubt) marketing. The 2006 update to flight insurance machines."
eGene is Seeking Partners for Its Business of DNA Samples Collection in Airport Terminals
4/27/2006 12:40:00 PM EST
eGene Inc. a leading biotechnology company, announced that it is looking for global business partners in the DNA sample collection in airport terminals.
The company's leading product, the compact and automated digital genetic analyzer, HDA-GT12(TM), is already achieving rapid penetration and acceptance in the current genetic research and testing market. Acting CEO of eGene, Dr. Ming Liu, said, "The DNA samples collection combines both the informative and instrumental aspects of DNA analysis, which is an integral part of our business approach."
eGene was awarded a U.S. patent (6,645,718) titled, "DNA sample collection for identification." The patent describes a process of collecting DNA samples for identification purposes in the event of a cataclysmic accident. This is a new, low-cost way to benefit air travel passengers and their families.
October 20, 2006
No joy in Gotham
Oh, somewhere in this favoured land the sun is shining bright,
The band is playing somewhere, and somewhere hearts are light;
And somewhere men are laughing, and somewhere children shout,
But there is no joy in Gotham — mighty Beltran has struck out.
So much for the Mets...
Cards catcher Yadier Molina homers to left field with one out in the top of the ninth inning of Game 7
Photo by Chris Lee at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Update: If you like this picture, the P-D has made some desktop wallpaper available for you serious Cards fans.
October 09, 2006
A request to help a young fellow who lives in suburban St. Louis. The Manchester Athletic Assoc. held a fund-raising event for him this last weekend, but I didn't get this up on Friday.
Bobby Loughran is a 12 year old boy from the Manchester area who plays baseball at the Manchester Athletic Association and attends school at Parkway South. Bobby became severely ill last week and was diagnosed with Aplastic Anemia. Bobby is currently going through blood transfusions to stay alive until a Bone Marrow donor is found.
If you cannot attend the camp out all donations and prayers will be accepted! All proceeds and donations will be placed into a trust fund to help the family pay for medical costs for Bobby.
If you would like to attend or make a donation please contact Steve Brentz at email@example.com or Robert Goad at firstname.lastname@example.org.
September 28, 2006
What a reunion
Siblings Separated By Holocaust Reunited
Woman Didn't Know Parents, Siblings Survived Holocaust
POSTED: 8:33 am EDT September 19, 2006
JERUSALEM -- For six decades, Hilda Shlick thought her brother Simon perished in the Holocaust with several other relatives.
But thanks to some online investigating by her grandkids, Shlick has been reunited with the brother she last saw in 1941.
September 19, 2006
A billion here, a billion there...
And pretty soon you're talking real money*.
Here's the 2007 version of Death and Taxes, an interesting Flash application that allows you to drill down into the appropriations in the US federal budget.
*Not necessarily said by Everett Dirksen.
September 15, 2006
Since March 1665
The Royal Society is making its newly-launched digital archive available free until December.
Nearly three and a half centuries of scientific study and achievement is now available online in the Royal Society Journals Digital Archive following its official launch this week. This is the longest-running and arguably most influential journal archive in Science, including all the back articles of both Philosophical Transactions and Proceedings.
For the first time the Archive provides online access to all journal content, from Volume One, Issue One in March 1665 until the latest modern research published today ahead of print. And until December the archive is freely available to anyone on the internet to explore.
September 12, 2006
The Master Crayon Artist
...is a retired air traffic controller named Don Marco. He draws portraits and other pictures, like the one below, using Crayolas.
August 24, 2006
It's that time of year again. Beloit College has published its annual Mindset List for the class of 2010 (assumed to have been born in 1988). Here are the first 15 of 75.
1. The Soviet Union has never existed and therefore is about as scary as the student union.
2. They have known only two presidents.
3. For most of their lives, major U.S. airlines have been bankrupt.
4. Manuel Noriega has always been in jail in the U.S.
5. They have grown up getting lost in "big boxes."
6. There has always been only one Germany.
7. They have never heard anyone actually "ring it up" on a cash register.
8. They are wireless, yet always connected.
9. A stained blue dress is as famous to their generation as a third-rate burglary was to their parents'.
10. Thanks to pervasive headphones in the back seat, parents have always been able to speak freely in the front.
11. A coffee has always taken longer to make than a milkshake.
12. Smoking has never been permitted on U.S. airlines.
13. Faux fur has always been a necessary element of style.
14. The Moral Majority has never needed an organization.
15. They have never had to distinguish between the St. Louis Cardinals baseball and football teams.
August 18, 2006
Lost at sea
This is a little hard to believe, but it's being reported as straight news.
Fishermen rescued after 9 months adrift 8,000 km from home
Mary Vallis and Natalie Alcoba, National Post
Published: Thursday, August 17, 2006
Three Mexican fishermen who disappeared in the Pacific Ocean nine months ago have been rescued nearly 8,000 kilometres from their home, saying they survived by eating seagulls, drinking rainwater and reading the Bible.
From the UK's Daily Mail:
It's art, says the naked woman who'll hug a dead pig on stage
Daily Mail Reporter 08:29am 18th August 2006
After pickled sheep, unmade beds and painting with elephant dung, some questioned where modern art could go next.
Kira O'Reilly will provide her own answer today by spending four hours naked, hugging a dead pig - at the taxpayer's expense.
August 17, 2006
Girl in Wales finds lucky whale vomit
BANGOR, Wales, Aug. 13 (UPI) -- A vacationing 10-year old girl is set to become 3,500 pounds -- about $6,633 -- richer from a lump of whale vomit she found on a beach in Wales.
The Sun reported Melissa Cathcart of St. Helens, Merseyside, England, was beachcombing on an island when she came across the waxy substance known as ambergris, also called "floating gold."
August 16, 2006
Xerox has a site called Let's Say Thanks. In their own words:
This web site gives you an opportunity to send a free printed postcard to U.S. soldiers stationed overseas showing your support and appreciation for their service to our country.
August 14, 2006
Another victimless crime?
Woman comes home to find house cleaned
Fri Aug 11, 7:10 AM ET
CHARLESTON, W.Va. - When Debbie Phillips tried to report a crime, police just snickered. "I told him that someone came into my house and cleaned," the president of the Putnam County School Board said. "He just laughed."
The problem wasn't that her home smelled a little fresher or looked a little tidier. The problem was that Phillips had no idea who the mystery cleaner was.
August 02, 2006
How long does a "temporary" tax last? The Spanish-American War Tax has finally ended.
Even better, you may be able to file a refund back to 2003.
Via the CFG blog.
July 22, 2006
A pretty hilarious editorial from New Jersey.
Sunday, July 16, 2006
By FRANK SCANDALE
The subject matter of taxes is no stranger to The Record.
TAXES ARE the crack of New Jersey lawmakers. Pure and simple. The more they get, the more they want. The more they want, the more they need to get the same results.
Once they get a hit, it feels good. But an hour later, they need another hit, and now they need a little more. Pretty soon, it gets pricey for a fix.
Taxpayers get angry because they have to fund the fix. They vote out the last addict. A new one comes in and swears on a stack of holy documents that taxes are not an option. OK, maybe not a viable option. OK, what he really meant was they are the last option.
Really, what he meant was that there is no other way.
Pass the pipe, please.
Via The Agitator.
July 19, 2006
Misquoted in his autobiography
I found this mentioned at The Dilbert blog - and you can probably imagine the fun Scott Adams had with it.
Owens says he was misquoted in own book
Posted: 2 days ago
IRVING, Texas (AP) - Terrell Owens says plenty in his new book. Except for one word he now claims he didn't say.
But making a big deal of an apparent misquotation - despite the sentence being written in the first-person - is the kind of media nitpicking Owens would lament in his 242-page book that mostly offers his side of two tumultuous seasons with the Philadelphia Eagles.
In "T.O.", which debuted last week, Owens likens former teammate Donovan McNabb to a bully who spat in his mouth as a teenager while he innocently slept on a school bus.
The new Dallas Cowboys receiver also devotes pages to his perceived vilification in the press and described his quick comeback from a leg fracture in 2004 as, "If you'll forgive me for saying so ... nothing short of heroic."
But forgive him or not, Owens said Thursday during a book signing near the Cowboys' headquarters that it was "T.O." co-author Jason Rosenhaus who invented that particular phrasing.
July 13, 2006
Fred Clark's obituary
I never expected I'd be posting about an obituary but given Mr. Clark's attitude as expressed in his obit, I think it's time. And I don't think he'd have minded.
Here's the opener; you can read the whole thing at the Richmond Times-Dispatch.
Frederic Arthur (Fred) Clark, who had tired of reading obituaries noting other's courageous battles with this or that disease, wanted it known that he lost his battle as a result of an automobile accident on June 18, 2006. True to Fred's personal style, his final hours were spent joking with medical personnel while he whimpered, cussed, begged for narcotics and bargained with God to look over his wife and kids.
Frederic Arthur (Fred) Clark, who had tired of reading obituaries noting other's courageous battles with this or that disease, wanted it known that he lost his battle as a result of an automobile accident on June 18, 2006. True to Fred's personal style, his final hours were spent joking with medical personnel while he whimpered, cussed, begged for narcotics and bargained with God to look over his wife and kids. He loved his family. His heart beat faster when his wife of 37 years Alice Rennie Clark entered the room and saddened a little when she left. His legacy was the good works performed by his sons, Frederic Arthur Clark III and Andrew Douglas Clark MD, PhD., along with Andy's wife, Sara Morgan Clark. Fred's back straightened and chest puffed out when he heard the Star Spangled Banner and his eyes teared when he heard Amazing Grace. He wouldn't abide self important tight *censored*. Always an interested observer of politics, particularly what the process does to its participants, he was amused by politician's outrage when we lie to them and amazed at what the voters would tolerate. His final wishes were "throw the bums out and don't elect lawyers" (though it seems to make little difference). During his life he excelled at mediocrity. He loved to hear and tell jokes, especially short ones due to his limited attention span. He had a life long love affair with bacon, butter, cigars and bourbon. You always knew what Fred was thinking much to the dismay of his friend and family. His sons said of Fred, "he was often wrong, but never in doubt". When his family was asked what they remembered about Fred, they fondly recalled how Fred never peed in the shower - on purpose. He died at MCV Hospital and sadly was deprived of his final wish which was to be run over by a beer truck on the way to the liquor store to buy booze for a double date to include his wife, Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter to crash an ACLU cocktail party. In lieu of flowers, Fred asks that you make a sizable purchase at your local ABC store or Virginia winery (please, nothing French - the *censored*) and get rip roaring drunk at home with someone you love or hope to make love to. Word of caution though, don't go out in public to drink because of the alcohol related laws our elected officials have passed due to their inexplicable terror at the sight of a MADD lobbyist and overwhelming compulsion to meddle in our lives. No funeral or service is planned. However, a party will be held to celebrate Fred's life. It will be held in Midlothian, Va. Email email@example.com for more information. Fred's ashes will be fired from his favorite cannon at a private party on the Great Wicomico River where he had a home for 25 years. Additionally, all of Fred's friend (sic) will be asked to gather in a phone booth, to be designated in the future, to have a drink and wonder, "Fred who?"
Published in the Richmond Times-Dispatch on 7/9/2006.
July 12, 2006
And don't forget the WD-40
Duct Tape Suggested As Quick-Fix To Spacewalking Problem
POSTED: 10:10 am EDT July 11, 2006
UPDATED: 10:12 am EDT July 11, 2006
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- Even in space, a little duct tape may work wonders.
Astronaut Piers Sellers suggested using some of the multipurpose sticky material to fix a safety-jet backpack used during spacewalks after it almost came loose from him while he repaired the international space station.
"Right now, is there some kind of tape fix that you guys could think about that would be helpful?" Sellers asked Mission Control Tuesday morning, a day after the propulsive backpack started to come loose during his spacewalk with astronaut Mike Fossum.
Fossum had to tether the device to Sellers to keep it from flying away.
July 11, 2006
World eBook Fair
says Please visit us here from July 4th-August 4, 2006 to download your selections from 1/3 million free eBooks.
July 07, 2006
2. Thou shalt not set thy ringer to play La Cucaracha every time thy phone rings. Or Beethoven's Fifth, or the Bee Gees, or any other annoying melody. Is it not enough that phones go off every other second? Now we have to listen to synthesized nonsense?
One of the Ten Commandments of cell phone etiquette at InfoWorld.
June 26, 2006
Only a lawyer would say, "This isn't a crime of violence. This was a situation where she couldn't stand the pressure of opportunity." He was talking about this client:
Ex-teacher who faked cancer gets two years in prison
June 15, 2006
NEW BEDFORD, Mass. --A former special education teacher who faked cancer and collected $37,000 in donations, which she later spent on a vacation and jewelry, was sentenced Thursday to two years behind bars.
June 21, 2006
I can think of at least one person (she had a pair of socks with toes knitted in them) who'd probably like these.
Here's a review of them.
June 20, 2006
SONGYUAN, China -- Qiao Yubo, who is pregnant with at least five babies, walks with her husband, right, in Songyuan, in China's northeast Jilin province. Qiao, who is 1.67-meters tall, has a waistline measurement of 1.75 meters, five months into her pregnancy.
June 16, 2006
Credit where it's due
It's been an interesting week at the Club For Growth blog, where Andrew Roth's been tracking Congressman Jeff Flake's (R-AZ) amendments to the Transportation and Treasury appropriations bill.
Rep. Flake's amendments were intended to trim pork from that bill, such as an earmark for $500,000 to renovate a swimming pool in Banning, California. So first of all, a major shout-out to Rep. Flake. Great work, Congressman.
These amendments came up for a vote on Wednesday and 46 House members voted for them - so they failed to pass. But I was very happy to see my representative -- Todd Akin (R-MO) -- on that list. So a second shout-out to him: Good job, Mr. Akin.
Changing focus for a moment, here's the winner in my personal Hall of Shame for the week: Rep. Jim Moran (D-VA). According to the Arlington Sun Gazette:
If Democrats win back control of the U.S. House of Representatives in November, U.S. Rep. Jim Moran said he would use his position in the majority to help funnel more funds to his Northern Virginia district.
Moran, D-8th, told those attending the Arlington County Democratic Committee's annual Jefferson-Jackson Day dinner on June 9 that while he in theory might oppose the fiscal irresponsibility of “earmarks” - funneling money to projects in a member of Congress's district - he understands the value they have to constituents.
“When I become chairman [of a House appropriations subcommittee], I'm going to earmark the shit out of it," Moran buoyantly told a crowd of 450 attending the event.
Great! A congressman who understands the value of earmarks to his constituents -- that's just outstanding. Now, how about the value of our taxes to rest of us taxpayers, Mr. Moran? Think you can find a clue about that?
Ending on an upbeat note, a huge tip o' the hat to Senators Allen, Brownback, Coburn, DeMint, Enzi, Sununu and Vitter for sending a letter (PDF) to Senate Majority Leader Frist (R-TN) threatening a filibuster on the "527 bill" (H.R. 513).
At least some of the folks in Congress seem to understand the First Amendment. As they put it in their letter:
While many rightly criticized the McCain-Feingold bill for banning TV and radio ads within 60 days of an election, what justification is there to prohibiting any communication costing over $1,000 that mentions a congressman's name in any medium, 365 days a year, if done through one of these independent citizens' groups?
Pretty good question, eh? Should we let Congress continue to outlaw criticism of its members? That one seems like a no-brainer to me.
June 14, 2006
Forget the Repo Man
POSTED: 7:45 am EDT June 13, 2006
LIMERICK, Pa. -- No payment. No ride.
Some auto lenders are trading the repo man for a high-tech solution.
There's a growing trend in auto sales to people with bad credit. Lenders are frequently requiring a starter-interrupt device as a condition of the auto loan.
The device makes it so the car won't start if the customer misses a payment.
Officials of Pennsylvania-based lender Auto Trakk said the devices allow the company to consider the riskiest customers.
June 13, 2006
World Naked Bike Ride
Here's what the Wikipedia page for WNBR sez:
The World Naked Bike Ride is on...
It's time to put a stop to the indecent exposure of people and the planet to cars and the pollution they create.
According to the United Nations, close to a million species of plants and animals could disappear from the face of the earth in the next 50 years as a result of greenhouse gasses being released primarily from motor vehicles.
On 10 June 2006 over 53 cities across the world experienced the naked joy of the world's largest naked protest against oil dependency and car culture in the history of humanity. Many cities also ride again on 12 March 2006.
June 06, 2006
Steve R -- Mr. Plane Guy -- forwards this image of a tail fin from an F-14 Tomcat that was found washed ashore in Ireland. The US Navy confirmed that it's from a plane which crashed near Florida 3 1/2 years before.
Full story here.
May 29, 2006
Scott Ott has a good essay about Memorial Day up at Scrappleface: Sixty-Two Years and Two Hard Words.
Jefferson Barracks National Cemetary, St. Louis
April 27, 2006
Lack of balance
I don't believe I've ever seen an image like this before, but I'll bet it's happened more than once.
MEXICO CITY -- A Varig airlines cargo plane from Brazil sits parked at the Mexico City airport with its nose up in the air after the cargo was unevenly distributed. Brazil's troubled flagship airline, Varig, is reeling under an estimated US$3.3 billion (euro2.7 billion) in debt and is currently in the restructuring phase of bankruptcy proceedings and, last April 12, some 300 Varig employees boarded a chartered jet to Brasilia, the nation's capital, to call on the federal government to bail out the company, which employs 11,000 people. (04/17/06 AP photo)
April 21, 2006
Enjoy it while you can
Enjoy Skipping TV Ads -- While You Can
POSTED: 7:54 am EDT April 20, 2006
SAN JOSE, Calif. -- Can you imagine being forced to watch the ads on your favorite TV show?
The people at Royal Philips Electronics not only can imagine that -- they have created a device that does just that. The company applied for a patent for a technology that could let broadcasters freeze a channel during a commercial, so you can't go channel surfing while the ads run.
The patent, which is pending with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, said the feature would be implemented on a show-by-show basis.
Even Philips acknowledged that the anti-channel-changing feature won't sit well with consumers. In its filing for a patent, the company said customers would be allowed to avoid the feature if they paid broadcasters a fee.
April 19, 2006
The hero of Canton...
...the man they call Jayne.
After hearing about the release of Firefly on DVD last year, we bought a copy for my older son. It's been a big hit in our household and everyone likes the series.
One of my son's favorite Firefly episodes was the one named Jaynestown. In fact, he was so amused by the idea of people regarding the double-crossing mercenary Jayne Cobb as a folk hero -- complete with a ballad -- that he put up a site about it and called it JayneDay.com.
April 11, 2006
Steve R sends this PowerPoint slide show about a test at an Air Force base. (AFFF is a fire-fighting system that uses aqueous film-forming foam.)
The test of the AFFF system at Ellsworth AFB was only supposed to last a few seconds. But the system wouldn't shut off...
April 03, 2006
Totally useless facts
Steve R forwards this message he received:
On Wednesday of this week, at two minutes and three seconds after 1:00 AM, the time and date will be 01:02:03 04/05/06.
March 31, 2006
News o' the Dumb update
At the end of last August, I mentioned Hawaii's gasoline price controls in a News of the Dumb post (second topic). Here's an update in a report from the New York Sun:
State's Price Controls on Gasoline Are Said To Have Cost Consumers
By JOSH GERSTEIN - Staff Reporter of the Sun
March 30, 2006
Hawaii is about to scrap its effort to legislate away high gasoline prices, after the state's "gas cap" law failed to lower prices at the pump and led to claims that the regulation cost drivers tens of millions of dollars since it went into effect in September.
"It's farcical, to be honest," the president of a gas station chain on the islands, Richard Parry, said in an interview yesterday. "Everyone sort of says, 'This obviously hasn't worked.'"
H.T. to the Club for Growth blog.
March 20, 2006
On a recent vacation, I came upon the following news item in the Blue Springs, Missouri Examiner:
ST. LOUIS--The winning numbers drawn Tuesday night in the daily Missouri Lottery Pick 3 game were 9-9-9.
A winning $1 ticket with the numbers in the correct order paid $500; a winning $1 ticket with the numbers in any order paid $160.
March 13, 2006
WAL * OCAUST
Wal-Mart In Court Fight Over 'Wal-ocaust' T-Shirts
POSTED: 11:55 am EST March 8, 2006
ATLANTA -- A Georgia man has filed a lawsuit against Wal-Mart in federal district court in Atlanta in a fight over his T-shirts that compare the retailer's business practices to the Holocaust.
Charles Smith has been marketing shirts that read, "I (heart) Wal-ocaust" T-shirts. Wal-Mart filed a cease-and-desist order in an attempt to make him stop printing the shirts.
The company said Smith is engaging in trademark infringement. It has threatened to sue Smith if he continues to display the logos on his Web site and to print them on his products.
The 48-year-old Smith is a computer repairman and said he has no deep connection to the company. But he claims using the logos is a free speech issue.
I was a little suprised that I didn't run across this first at MacRaven, since Dave has been blogging regularly about the migration path of the avian flu.
But, in any event, here's an official "Heads up!"
Ready or Not, Bird Flu Is Coming to America
Officials Advise Stocking Up on Provisions -- and Warn That Infected Birds Cannot Be Prevented From Flying In
By BRIAN ROSS
March 13, 2006 — - In a remarkable speech over the weekend, Secretary of Health and Human Services Michael Leavitt recommended that Americans start storing canned tuna and powdered milk under their beds as the prospect of a deadly bird flu outbreak approaches the United States.
Ready or not, here it comes.
It is being spread much faster than first predicted from one wild flock of birds to another, an airborne delivery system that no government can stop.
"There's no way you can protect the United States by building a big cage around it and preventing wild birds from flying in and out," U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Michael Johanns said.
U.S. spy satellites are tracking the infected flocks, which started in Asia and are now heading north to Siberia and Alaska, where they will soon mingle with flocks from the North American flyways.
March 03, 2006
Weekend reading 12
From The Sacramento Bee, an article about employer-funded health care. I have sometimes wondered how this came to be common in the US; this article describes the historical roots of the practice.
Breaking free from employer-managed health care
By Daniel Weintraub -- Bee Columnist
Published 2:15 am PST Tuesday, February 21, 2006
Imagine for a moment that your employer was required by law to buy a plan to manage your nutrition needs - rather than simply paying you a wage, out of which you buy the food you want to eat.
Or suppose the government required your employer to pay for a housing plan, rather than paying you and letting you decide where and how to live.
Finally, consider what it would be like if the company you work for was mandated to design and finance a transportation plan for you, with a list of options for how you could get to work and back home each day.
Update: Via e-mail, A.E. comments:
I clicked on the link to the Daniel Weintraub piece and thought it was too much 'what if'-ing and too oversimplified, so I went to find a history of health insurance that would cover it a little more thoroughly. I found this article and also read the Wikipedia article about health insurance which still did not satisfy me, but at the bottom of the Wikipedia article there was this one, which I thought very thoroughly covered the subject.
It was only after I went back to your original post that I saw the question about Ludwig von Mises and realized the coincidence of the page titled "Sayonara MSAs" (at mises.org) that I'd just read. Strange!
In my e-mail reply, I mentioned the alternative of finding doctors who work for cash and suggested googling for "cash doctor." If (like me) you and your family aren't covered by an employer's group health plan, sites like this one can be pretty useful.
March 02, 2006
1 year ago...
...this week the first post appeared here.
(Image from Stellar Graffiti.)
February 24, 2006
Weekend reading 11
Eric Raymond ("ESR") is best known for his technical activities in the networking and software arenas. But he writes a fair bit of political analysis now & again, including this essay called Gramscian damage, which appeared on his blog a couple of weeks ago. It's about how poorly the U.S. understands ideological warfare.
Here's a snippet, but of course you should RTWT.
The Soviets had an entire “active measures” department devoted to churning out anti-American dezinformatsiya. A classic example is the rumor that AIDS was the result of research aimed at building a ‘race bomb’ that would selectively kill black people.
On a different level, in the 1930s members of CPUSA (the Communist Party of the USA) got instructions from Moscow to promote non-representational art so that the US’s public spaces would become arid and ugly.
Americans hearing that last one tend to laugh. But the Soviets, following the lead of Marxist theoreticians like Antonio Gramsci, took very seriously the idea that by blighting the U.S.’s intellectual and esthetic life, they could sap Americans’ will to resist Communist ideology and an eventual Communist takeover. The explicit goal was to erode the confidence of America’s ruling class and create an ideological vacuum to be filled by Marxism-Leninism.
Via a post titled Is the Cold War over yet? at Classical Values. (I'd recommend reading this one too.)
February 23, 2006
Stand up for Denmark!
Christopher Hitchens wrote an editorial for Slate with that title this week. He closed with a call for people to join in him in a gathering at the Danish Embassy in Washington. Here's the upshot:
Update, Feb. 22: Thank you all who've written. Please be outside the Embassy of Denmark, 3200 Whitehaven Street (off Massachusetts Avenue) between noon and 1 p.m. this Friday, Feb. 24. Quietness and calm are the necessities, plus cheerful conversation. Danish flags are good, or posters reading "Stand By Denmark" and any variation on this theme (such as "Buy Carlsberg/ Havarti/ Lego") The response has been astonishing and I know that the Danes are appreciative. But they are an embassy and thus do not of course endorse or comment on any demonstration. Let us hope, however, to set a precedent for other cities and countries. Please pass on this message to friends and colleagues.
So, if you're going to be in Washington, DC, stop by and wish them well.
February 18, 2006
Weekend reading 10
My sister, who works at Caterpillar, sent me this article from Forbes.com. It's pretty interesting, especially in light of the reports about General Motors' financial woes.
Caterpillar confronted the same labor costs and Asian competition that the auto companies did. But Cat is doing just fine. Why?
A midwest manufacturing company, fat and lazy, heavily unionized, suddenly faces foreign competition. You know the ending: massive layoffs, closed factories, consolidation, rumblings of bankruptcy. That's the familiar story of General Motors, Ford and lots of other big manufacturers over the last 20 or 30 years.
And then there's Caterpillar in Peoria, Illinois, as Rust Belt as one can get, making those big yellow earthmoving machines and the engines that power 18-wheelers, hospitals and container ships. Profit last year rose 40%, to $2.9 billion, on a 20% gain in revenue, to $36.3 billion. This year the company should haul in $40 billion, half from abroad, says Chief Executive Jim W. Owens. No layoffs are in sight. Caterpillar's workforce has climbed 23%, to 85,000, in the last two years. You'll have to wait 12 months to get your hands on one of its mining dump trucks, the ones that can hold up to 400 tons of ore. No wait for the Ford Freestyle. Cat shares have more than tripled in the last five years while the S&P500 has declined 6.3%.
They seem to be going around this week.
Here's a snippet from Cafe Hayek about The GOP Budget:
Why do self-styled "progressives" hate Bush II so intensely? It can't be because he's not feeding the state that these 'progressives' so cherish and trust. Why do so many conservatives admire Bush II? It can't be because of his commitment to smaller government. He clearly has no such commitment.
If the period from November 1994 through now doesn't convince you that politics is driven overwhelmingly by special-interest groups in league with unprincipled, power-lusting politicians, you're a hopeless romantic -- or, worse: you're willfully blind.
And the Coyote claims the apparent demise of the Separation of Powers in government has him depressed.
The separation of powers concept, so fundamental in our Constitution to checking government power grabs, seems to be on life support. The reason I say this is that for separation of powers to work, each branch of the government has to, you know, actually monitor and try to check power grabs in other branches. What I see today are three branches that have kind of reached some sort of peace treaty, agreeing to let the others run amok as long as it is allowed to do so itself. To support this hypothesis, I make the following observations:
February 10, 2006
Thought for the day
I lifted practically all of Jane Galt's post titled Capitalistic Thought for the Day and pasted it below so you wouldn't be able to avoid Reading The Whole Thing. This quote comes from Capitalism: The Movie, an article in The Atlantic Online by Clive Crook (subscription req'd).
Capitalism is prey to excesses, self-evidently, and it creates, or leaves unattended, a host of problems that decent societies must address by other means. Even so, the prevailing culture of suspicion and disappointment is at odds with the facts. Mainly, what is missing is awe. Premodern scholars (Karl Marx is an exception) could scarcely have imagined the material advance that capitalism has delivered. Certainly Adam Smith never dreamed that his "invisible hand" would arrange things so well.
In the late 1980s, as Mikhail Gorbachev embarked on his perestroika program of economic reform, Soviet officials were sent abroad to see how things were done in the West. One visited London's main vegetable market. He asked how the market was organized, and how prices were set. He was told that the individual traders bought whatever quantities they wished, and set their own prices, and that these fluctuated throughout the day as the balance of supply and demand changed. At this, the Soviet visitor laughed. He said he understood that this was the official line--but, please, how did the market really set prices?
That, in fact, was the reaction of an intelligent man. It is fantastically improbable that markets work, at scale, as well as they do. It is astonishing that in an economy of Americ's size--to say nothing of the world economy as a whole--a limitless variety of goods and services is continuously offered at prices people are willing to pay, without persistent gluts or shortages, entirely without central direction. That the system also calls forth an endless flow of innovation and improvement is a miracle. The man from Moscow was right to be incredulous.
I had read the story about the Russian official in London at another site recently and was reminded of Larry Kudlow's apothegm: You either believe in markets or you believe in government.
February 08, 2006
SteveR sends this series of 9 images (all pop-ups) of a fire on a UPS aircraft at Philadephia International. This message accompanied the images.
It is very early in the process, but in an attempt to disseminate information and dampen down rumors:
This evening a DC-8 while on approach into PHL had a lower fire/smoke warning with smoke in the cockpit. Prior to landing they also received a main cargo fire warning. While on oxygen the crew landed the aircraft and accomplished an emergency evacuation. The crew was taken to a local hospital and we expect them to be in a hotel within a few hours.
Initial reports are that the fire was uncontained and there may be severe damage to the aircraft, up to and including a complete hull loss.
Again, the crew is safe and this is extremely preliminary information.
As more info becomes available we will let you know.
Michael Moody Jr
Chairman IPA Safety Committee
December 22, 2005
The Second Amendments
Interesting choice for a name...
Congressional Band To Rock Troops During Holiday Tour
POSTED: 6:59 am EST December 22, 2005
WASHINGTON -- Some politicians in Washington are marching to the beat of a different drummer -- literally.
They are members of an all-congressional band known as the Second Amendments. And they're taking their show on the road to perform for troops in the Middle East and Europe.
The bipartisan rock and country band features Rep. Collin Peterson, a Minnesota Democrat, on guitar and lead vocals. Michigan Republican Rep. Thaddeus McCotter is on lead guitar. Republican Rep. Dave Weldon of Florida is on bass. Nevada Republican Rep. Jon Porter is on keyboards, and the drummer is Missouri Republican Rep. Kenny Hulshoff.
Their five-city tour is part of an official congressional fact-finding trip between Christmas and New Year's Eve that will take the band to Iraq, Afghanistan, Kuwait, Pakistan and Ramstein Air Base in Germany.
The group has a motto: "No politics, just rock and roll."
December 15, 2005
Our contributor forwarded a message with this image and the caption
Bill Moyer, 73, wears a "Bullshit Protector" flap over his ear while Senator Ted Kennedy addresses the Veterans of Foreign Wars.
Bill Moyer, 73, wears a "Bullshit Protector" flap over his ear while President George W. Bush addresses the Veterans of Foreign Wars. (AP Photo/Douglas C. Pizac).
Eschaton had a link to the story at Canada.com, but unfortunately it's no longer available. I believe this photo was taken when Bush addressed the VFW in Salt Lake City last August.
December 12, 2005
Now this could be useful
The Get Off The Phone Excuse Machine. Check it out -- you can sample the sounds it makes.
Via Dave Barry.
November 28, 2005
From the London Daily Telegraph:
German pride slogan shamed by its Nazi past
A multi-million pound campaign to boost Germans' low self-confidence has backfired after it emerged that its slogan was first coined by the Nazis.
The £20 million Du Bist Deutschland - You Are Germany - campaign was devised to inspire Germans to stop moaning and do something good for their country.
But a historian from Ludwigshafen has provoked an uproar with his discovery that the same Du Bist Deutschland cry was used at Nazi rallies in the 1930s.
November 26, 2005
Forget the Hummer
...writes our contributor. Personally, all this armor protection would mean a lot more to me if the vehicle weren't riding on rubber tires.
From Granite Global Services.
Granite has round protection. Armor kits and conversions only harden the vehicle and once added the additional weight often exceeds the manufacturer’s weight limits and the vehicle is therefore unstable and prone to rolling over. Whereas the Granite APC – 1 is fully custom built and armored completely well within the manufacturer’s weight limitations. The floor, roof, all walls, fuel tank, engine and transmission areas are all armored. The windows sit in specially designed frames that leave no gaps around the edges where unlike other vehicles the ‘’Golden Bullet’’ may penetrate.
November 23, 2005
A bit of culinary history
Louis XV always maintained that women could never attain to the highest excellence as cooks. Mme du Barry took the opposite view and invited the king to a supper that had been prepared by the best cuisinière in France. At the end of the meal, Louis said, "Who is your cook? I must have him in the royal household."
Mme du Barry replied, "It is not a cuisinier, but a cuisinière. I demand a recompense worthy both of Your Majesty and of her. I cannot accept anything less than a cordon bleu."
The king agreed and it was in this way that the cordon bleu -- the blue ribbon of the grand cross of the Order of the Holy Spirit, the highest chivalric order under the Bourbon kings -- became the accolade of an outstanding cook.
DC is Full of Wankers!
The December/January issue of Men's Fitness features a poll of over 11,000 people on sexual attitudes and behaviors. In the article's "State-by-State Guide to How Americans are Getting It On," Washington, DC, has the distinction of being the "State with the Most Wankers."
Via To the People.
November 22, 2005
Finnegan the squirrel
Finnegan is an orphaned squirrel that was adopted by a pregnant dog just before she threw her litter. After the litter was born, the dog nursed Finnegan along with her pups.
This is the first in a collection 12 images you can find here.
November 11, 2005
Just like Mom used to make
How about a frosty cold bottle of smoked-salmon-pate-flavored soda?
M-m-m! It's time again for the Holiday Packs from Jones Soda Co.
Click for a larger view of the bottle.
Chatty Cathy, bank robber
Woman Chats On Cell Phone While Robbing Bank
Police: Woman Robs Four Banks In Several Jurisdictions
UPDATED: 10:49 am EST November 11, 2005
FAIRFAX, Va. -- Some people just can't stop yakking on their cell phones.
Police in the Washington, D.C., suburbs are looking for a woman who chats on her phone while robbing banks.
Four Northern Virginia branches of Wachovia bank have been hit in recent weeks, including one last Friday.
October 01, 2005
The Boobie-Thon is an effort to raise money for breast cancer research. Click the image to visit their site.
I don't know whether our contributor is participating herself. If she does, maybe she'll leave a comment to let us know. ;-)
September 15, 2005
Avast, me hearties
The next annual International Talk Like a Pirate Day is Monday, September 19.
September 12, 2005
Here's a snippet from an amusing op-ed piece in the Daily Telegraph:
Middle age? It's a state of constant irritation
Come to think of it, almost everything on the television these days irritates me. I sit through hours of gameshows and makeover programmes for the sheer pleasure of being enraged by their banality. On the Tube platform in the morning, I curse when a voice comes over the public address system to announce, as it does every day: "Ladies and gentlemen, a good service is operating on the Jubilee line this morning." Every time I hear it, I think: "I'll be the judge of that." The other day, I heard myself saying it aloud, and got some very funny looks from my fellow commuters.
September 07, 2005
The year is 1905 - one hundred years ago. What a difference a century makes. Here are some of the U.S. statistics for the year 1905:
The average life expectancy in the U.S. was 47 years.
14 percent of the homes in the U.S. had a bathtub.
8 percent of the homes had a telephone.
A 3-minute call from Denver to New York City cost $11.00.
There were 8,000 cars in the U.S., 144 miles of paved roads. The maximum speed in most cities was 10 mph.
Alabama, Mississippi, Iowa, and Tennessee were each more heavily populated than California. With a mere 1.4 million people, California was only the 21st most populous state in the Union.
The tallest structure in the world was the Eiffel Tower!
The average wage in the U.S. was 22¢ an hour. The average worker made between $200 and $400 a year.
A competent accountant could expect to earn $2000 per year, a dentist $2,500 per year, a veterinarian between $1,500 and $4,000 per year, and a mechanical engineer about $5,000 per year.
More than 95 percent of all births in the U.S. took place at home.
Ninety percent of all U.S. doctors had no college education. Instead, they attended so-called medical schools, many of which were condemned in the press and by the government as "substandard."
Sugar cost four cents a pound.
Eggs were fourteen cents a dozen.
Coffee was fifteen cents a pound.
Most women only washed their hair once a month, and used borax or egg yolks for shampoo.
Canada passed a law prohibiting poor people from entering into their country for any reason.
The five leading causes of death in the U.S. were:
The American flag had 45 stars. Arizona, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Hawaii, and Alaska hadn't been admitted to the Union yet.
The population of Las Vegas, Nevada, was only 30!
Crossword puzzles, canned beer, and ice tea hadn't been invented yet.
There was no Mother's Day or Father's Day.
Two out of every 10 U.S. adults couldn't read or write.
Only 6 percent of all Americans had graduated from high school.
Marijuana, heroin, and morphine were all available over the counter at the local corner drugstores. Back then pharmacist said, "Heroin clears the complexion, gives buoyancy to the mind, regulates the stomach and bowels, and is, in fact, a perfect guardian of health." (Shocking!)
Eighteen percent of households in the U.S. had at least one full-time servant or domestic help. There were about 230 reported murders in the entire U.S.
Try to imagine what it may be like in another 100 years. It staggers the mind.
September 06, 2005
From IT Week:
Arabic Trojan butts into porn surfing
Yusufali-A interrupts adult websites with messages from the Koran
Robert Jaques, vnunet.com 05 Sep 2005
Security experts today issued a warning after detecting a malicious Trojan horse which tries to interrupt the surfing of adult websites by displaying messages from the Koran.
The Yusufali-A Trojan monitors users' surfing habits by examining the title bar of the active window.
Via Clayton Cramer.
September 02, 2005
Endangered sea turtles
Strictly as a public service, here's an important announcement from California-based conservation group Wildcoast about preserving endangered Mexican sea turtles. The image comes from National Geographic's report on the controversy over this poster.
September 01, 2005
I've avoided writing about the hurricane and the Gulf Coast primarily because anyone reading this is likely to have seen plenty of appeals for help at other sites. And the other reason, of course, is that this isn't intended to be a news or opinion blog.
But I've run across some posts at other blogs about the devastation of New Orleans that I think are worth mention:
Finally, if you want suggestions, there's Instapundit's Flood Aid post with links to the charities various people are recommending.
August 26, 2005
News o' the Dumb
The Attorney General of Tennessee wants to stop a woman singer from dipping snuff. You'll love his reason:
'Redneck Woman' Singer Asked to Stop Promoting Smokeless Tobacco
By Rose French Associated Press Writer
Published: Aug 25, 2005
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - The state attorney general wants the country singer who made the song "Redneck Woman" a hit to stop "glamorizing" the use of smokeless tobacco at her concerts.
State officials said Gretchen Wilson can be seen on concert jumbo screens pulling a can of Skoal from her pocket while performing her new song, "Skoal Ring."
That may violate the 1998 settlement between states and tobacco companies forbidding tobacco ads targeting young people, Attorney General Paul Summers said.
Oh, yeah, guys... price controls have always worked so well in the past.
Hawaii First State To Cap Gasoline Prices
HONOLULU -Hawaii has become the first state in the nation to set limits on gasoline prices.
The state Public Utilities Commission is setting the wholesale price ceiling for gasoline in Honolulu at just under $2.16 a gallon.
One of the people who wanted to get into the action below wrote a poem beginning, "I'm funky like a monkey and as cool as a cat, talk more than a parrot, up all night like a bat."
'Funky like a monkey' - R!
New exhibit at London Zoo - humans
Thu Aug 25,12:20 PM ET
LONDON (AFP) - London Zoo unveiled a new exhibition -- eight humans prowling around wearing little more than fig leaves to cover their modesty.
The "Human Zoo" is intended to show the basic nature of human beings as they frolick throughout the August bank holiday weekend.
"We have set up this exhibit to highlight the spread of man as a plague species and to communicate the importance of man's place in the planet's ecosystem," London Zoo said.
August 23, 2005
The Ultimate Ultralight
Check it out. It weighs approximately four grams.
There's video at the site.
Via DiClerico, who has a couple of other neat RF flyers in his post.
This report from the UK's Telegraph is difficult to believe. It's about some "animal rights" activists who robbed a grave.
Grave robbers force farm to stop breeding guinea pigs
Farmers breeding guinea pigs have said they will abandon the work in the hope that the remains of their grandmother dug up from a grave in Staffordshire will be returned.
August 19, 2005
A definition of "bravery"
Bravery for married men, anwyay.
Bravery: Arriving home late after a guy's night out, being assaulted by your wife with a broom, and having the guts to ask, "Are you still cleaning? Or just getting ready to fly somewhere?"
True bravery: Coming home late after a guy's night out, reeking of whiskey and perfume, with lipstick on your collar, and slapping your wife on the rear while telling her, "You're next!"
August 18, 2005
From the You Can Find A Blog For Anything department, here's one that's a little more serious than usual: the Avian Flu blog.
Not very humorous, but it might come in handy.
August 13, 2005
Can You Hear Me Now?
Here's a pretty sobering thought, via Reason's Hit & Run:
This piece from The Guardian last week discusses growing popular support for the use of surveillance technologies, as well as a little feature of your friendly cell phone I hadn't been aware of:
Not only can operators pinpoint users to within yards of their location by "triangulating" the signals from three base stations, but - according to a report in the Financial Times - the operators (under instructions from the authorities) can remotely install software onto a handset to activate the microphone even when the user is not making a call.
Posted by Julian Sanchez at August 10, 2005 02:23 PM
Michael Totten relates this interesting story from Lebanon on this same topic:
THEY CAN HEAR YOU NOW: When I was in Beirut in April one of the leaders of the Cedar Revolution, Nabil Abou-Charaf, told me that Syrian intelligence agents used cell phones to “spy” on people.
“You mean they monitor your phone conversations,” I said.
“No," he said. "They can listen to us all the time even when we’re not using the phone.” He could tell I didn’t believe him. “We know as a fact they can do this.”
The Middle East is notoriously paranoid. When your country is infested with secret police that will happen. Nabil had good reasons himself to be paranoid. He told me he had already been arrested and beaten for standing up to the Syrian puppet regime. Just a week before I met him someone ran his car off the road and left a message on his answering machine and said that was just the beginning.
Still, I didn’t believe what he said about spies using his cell phone as a bug. If the cell phone is off or just sitting there it isn’t transmitting a signal.
Looks like I was wrong.
What I don't know is whether this "feature" would be available on CDMA/TDMA (US) phones as well as on GSM (European) phones. Not that the feature would be tied to a particular bandwidth-usage scheme, but rather that it could depend on which phone vendors sell into which markets. I wonder what Steven den Beste would have to say about this for CDMA (and maybe QualComm chip sets)?
Solar, Stirling, SoCal Edison
This 500 MW solar generation project will be very interesting if-when it happens.
A Stirling engine is commonly referred to as an "external combustion engine" in contrast to the "internal combustion engines" found in most vehicles. Combine a Stirling engine with solar as the source of heat, and you have a highly efficient means of converting solar power into usable energy.
That is what Stirling Energy Systems has been perfecting for the past 20 years.
Now they are ready to go big-time, with an agreement signed Tuesday with Edison International (NYSE:EIX) a subsidiary of Southern California Edison (SCE), the nation's leading purchaser of renewable energy.
On Tuesday they announced an agreement that could result in construction of a massive, 4,500-acre solar generating station in Southern California. This comes to around seven square miles, with a perimeter of nearly 30 miles. The completed power station would be the world's largest solar facility, capable of producing more electricity than all other currently-operating U.S. solar projects combined.
August 03, 2005
And they're not talking about pirating software:
Background Asia Risk Solutions (BARS) is the leading provider of armed escorts in South East Asia for maritime assets. We have conducted a number of complex operations safely guarding oil and gas floating assets and their convoys. We have also provided armed escorts to other slow moving convoys including ocean going tugs and barges.
Piracy in the Malacca Straits of southest Asia is so prevalent that Lloyd's Market Association has declared it a high-risk area and are raising insurance premiums.
July 29, 2005
A great cartoon that apparently runs regularly in Baltimore's City Paper. Click to see this one and to visit the archives. (There are better ones than this there.)
Via "Contributor A", who's been guest blogging at Jane Galt's this week.
What did the parrot say to the vicar?
This is reported as straight news in The Guardian:
A parrot with a remarkably coherent line in invective has been given a private pen at a wildlife sanctuary, after swearing repeatedly at distinguished visitors including a mayor, a vicar and two police officers.
System Administrator Appreciation Day
Our contributor writes, "Check out: http://www.sysadminday.com/."
The SysAdmin Day Song video is pretty funny. As is this cartoon (click for a larger view):
July 28, 2005
"The greatest dirty joke ever told"
That's the NYT's opinion of this movie by Penn Jillette and Paul Provenza, which opens July 29th. I haven't seen the movie nor heard the joke, but I can't let a line like that one pass. Click the logo to visit the promo site.
I don't know what's up with the Manneken Pis.
The Genius of Microsoft
Our contributor's subject line (for this post at BoingBoing).
Microsoft "Genuine Advantage" cracked in 24h: window.g_sDisableWGACheck='all'
AV sez, "This week, Microsoft started requiring users to verify their serial number before using Windows Update. This effort to force users to either buy XP or tell them where you got the illegal copy is called 'Genuine Advantage.' It was cracked within 24 hours."
Before pressing 'Custom' or 'Express' buttons paste this text to the address bar and press enter:
It turns off the trigger for the key check.
Too funny not to pass along.
July 27, 2005
From the You Can Find A Blog For Anything department:
Literally, A Web Log: An English grammar blog tracking abuse of the word "literally."
July 26, 2005
Amazon.com Phone Numbers
From Kevin Kelly's Cool Tools.
In these rare cases you need Amazon.com's almost-secret real-person customer service telephone number. You won't find it on their website. I once got it by calling 800 directory assistance. In any case, they make it hard to find because a call costs Amazon more, so you should jot down these numbers for those special moments when only a human will do:
800 201 7575 (Toll free, US and Canada)
877 586 3230 (Canada only)
206 346 2992 or 206 266 2992 (Outside US and Canada)
July 22, 2005
A little follow-up
One of our regulars replied to yesterday's post about the Aluminum Foil Deflector Beanie with, "This almost made me sick." It's an interesting Flash clip called the Dactyle Fractal.
Since he'd presumably been poking around at zapotopi.net, I did some poking around there on my own and discovered a page titled Zapato Themeato, which features a number of amusing desktop wallpapers. Here's one that struck me.
"Help inform your co-workers and family members that the Lord Kelvin loves them and wants to Conserve them from Entropy with this inspirational wallpaper."
A taxing situation for telecommuters
How lame is this?
Do you work remotely as an employee of a New York state-based company, but live across the country in another state? Then you'd be well-advised to contact your accountant, and to avoid setting foot in New York to do any work onsite at corporate headquarters – unless you plan to open the door for New York State to tax 100% of your income at New York State tax rates. Sound crazy? Well, it certainly did to Mr. Thomas Huckaby, a citizen of Tennessee, who was taxed by New York on all of his income.
July 19, 2005
If you travel Illinois' expressways, you may find this press release (from March 30th) interesting. Note the starting time for tickets-by-photograph.
CHICAGO—The Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) joined with the State Police and Illinois Tollway to remind motorists construction season is about to kick in to gear and warn that tough new laws are on the books that target drivers who flout work zone speed limits and endanger the lives of construction workers and other drivers.
Under enhanced penalties passed by the Legislature and signed into law by Gov. Rod Blagojevich last year, first-time work zone speeders, including those caught on camera, will be hit with a fine of $375, with $125 of that sum going to pay off-duty State Troopers to provide added enforcement in construction or maintenance zones. Two-time offenders are subject to a $1,000 fine, including a $250 surcharge to hire Troopers, and the loss of their license for 90 days.
Starting in July, State Troopers will deploy specially equipped vans that can take photographs of drivers speeding in IDOT and Tollway construction and maintenance zones. Tickets will be issued by mail to vehicle owners.
July 05, 2005
The No. 1 Lady Detective
From the Sunday Herald Online:
NOT long after dawn in the southern Afghan city of Kandahar and a steely-eyed, handsome woman in a grey police uniform is going through a daily ritual of checks at her modest home. The checks are not mere routine; if she is to survive until dusk they could be of crucial importance. First her six children are breakfasted, their faces washed and hairbrushed and they are made ready for school.
Next comes the firearms check. Malalai Kakar counts bullets into a curved AK-47 metal clip, rams it home into her assault rifle, and makes sure the safety catch is on. She is never first through the steel door into the dangerous street outside; her bodyguard, younger brother Toryalai, also clutching a Kalashnikov, cautiously peers out at the neighbourhood left and right, to ensure no assassins are waiting. Police headquarters are called on the radio to see whether there has been any violence during the night. Prayers are said.
When these morning rituals are completed and the kids are off to school, Kandahar's most fearsome woman hoists a blue burkha over her head, climbs into a pick-up truck and heads off to the office; another busy day with murderers, sexual abusers and wife batterers is about to begin.
June 30, 2005
At PledgeBank, you can join Travis Corcoran in his pledge to pay for a week's lodging at the hotel when it's built. According to Mr. Corcoran:
By signing this pledge, you agree to pay for lodging in the "Lost Liberty Hotel", once it is built at 34 Cilley Hill Road, Weare, NH.
It is expected that during one's week of residency in the hotel in Weare, lodgers will contribute significantly to the local economy - not just staying in the hotel, but shopping, buying gas, eating at local restaurants, etc.
This pledge is important, as it will help to demonstrate
(a) the large public demand for lodging in a hotel built on what is currently Justice Souter's property
(b) the large economic benefit to the citizens of Weare that will occur once the hotel is built.
If you have a blog, you can also join Tom Hanna in his pledge to "...give free advertising on my blog to the Lost Liberty Hotel".
Mr Hanna adds, "Blog can be interpreted liberally as long as there is someplace to place an ad."
June 28, 2005
From Wired's NextFest in Chicago last week. Click the image to visit the NextFest site.
CHICAGO -- This photo provided by Wired Nextfest shows Rob Innes skimming across the Chicago River in a bionic dolphin to call attention to Nextfest, a futuristic technology show in Chicago on June 25-26, 2005. The dolphin, a submersible developed by Innespace, can power two people to 40 m.p.h. on the surface and 20 m.p.h. below. (06/23/05 AP photo/Wired Nextfest)
June 27, 2005
The 29th Row Blues
This is a very amusing complaint letter to Continental Airlines. It's in PDF - click the image to read it (and/or save it).
June 23, 2005
A good politician?
With a wink and a smirk, D.C. Council member Carol Schwartz (R-At Large) introduced legislation yesterday to ban alcohol in the District.
Schwartz, the leading opponent of a proposed smoking ban in District bars and restaurants, applied the same arguments made by anti-smoking activists to defend an alcohol ban.
I wonder if Ms Schwartz would be interested in running for the St. Louis County Council? We could use her right now.
June 21, 2005
Kids on marriage
More o' that Art-Linkletter-kids-say-the-darndest-things stuff - but still funny.
What's the right age to get married?
Twenty-three is the best age because you know the person FOREVER by then.
- Camille, age 10
No age is good to get married at. You got to be a fool to get married.
- Freddie, age 6
How do you decide who to marry?
You got to find somebody who likes the same stuff. Like, if you like sports, she should like it that you like sports, and she should keep the chips and dip coming.
- Alan, age 10
No person really decides before they grow up who they're going to marry. God decides it all way before, and you get to find out later who you're stuck with.
- Kirsten, age 10
How can a stranger tell if two people are married?
You might have to guess, based on whether they seem to be yelling at the same kids.
- Derrick, age 8
What do you think your mom and dad have in common?
Both don't want any more kids.
- Lori, age 8
What do most people do on a date?
Dates are for having fun, and people should use them to get to know each other. Even boys have something to say if you listen long enough.
- Lynnette, age 8
On the first date, they just tell each other lies and that usually gets them interested enough to go for a second date.
- Martin, age 10
What would you do on a first date that turned sour?
I'd run home and play dead. The next day I would call all the newspapers and make sure they wrote about me in all the dead columns.
- Craig, age 9
When is it OK to kiss someone?
When they're rich.
- Pam, age 7
The law says you have to be eighteen, so I wouldn't want to mess with that.
- Curt, age 7
The rule goes like this: If you kiss someone, then you should marry them and have kids with them. It's the right thing to do.
- Howard, age 8
Is it better to be single or married?
I don't know which is better, but I'll tell you one thing. I'm never going to have sex with my wife. I don't want to be all grossed out.
- Theodore, age 8
It's better for girls to be single but not for boys. Boys need someone to clean up after them.
- Anita, age 9
How would the world be different if people didn't get married?
There sure would be a lot of kids to explain, wouldn't there?
- Kelvin, age 8
How would you make a marriage work?
Tell your wife that she looks pretty, even if she looks like a truck.
- Ricky, age 10
June 15, 2005
They're conducting a pledge drive in Britain:
Public trust evaporates as Government’s case for ID collapses
When legislation is banned in China on human rights grounds you’d expect governments the world over to take notice.
The Chinese Council of Grand Justices has just stopped in its tracks the Republic of China’s plans to impose compulsory fingerprinting on all Chinese citizens, declaring the move unconstitutional.
Not so in the UK, where the Home Office still insist that “international obligations” tie their hands, ‘forcing’ them to fingerprint and iris scan every UK resident – conveniently populating the National Identity Register that lies at the heart of the government’s ID card scheme at the same time.
June 11, 2005
Do women call you fatty?
Do women call you baldy?
Do women call you ugly?
Do women call you shorty?
Do women call you loser?
Are you over 30, 40, 50, 60, or even over 70?
Worst of all, have women completely lost interest in you?
Do not despair.
Now there is a new male grooming product on the market that will change all of that!
June 09, 2005
Cold fusion again
says CodeWritinFool. Here's an article from the Christian Science Monitor.
Coming in out of the cold: Cold fusion, for real
By Michelle Thaller | csmonitor.com
PASADENA, CALIF. – For the last few years, mentioning cold fusion around scientists (myself included) has been a little like mentioning Bigfoot or UFO sightings.
After the 1989 announcement of fusion in a bottle, so to speak, and the subsequent retraction, the whole idea of cold fusion seemed a bit beyond the pale. But that's all about to change.
A very reputable, very careful group of scientists at the University of Los Angeles (Brian Naranjo, Jim Gimzewski, Seth Putterman) has initiated a fusion reaction using a laboratory device that's not much bigger than a breadbox, and works at roughly room temperature. This time, it looks like the real thing.
An HTML slide show of Chinese watermelon carvings (34 total).
Why don't they just offshore?
Asks our contributor, commenting on this article at ZDNetIndia:
India faces worker shortage
Andy McCue, Special to ZDNet, June 06, 2005
India faces a massive shortage of workers with European language skills over the next five years which could see the country needing to recruit up to 120,000 foreigners.
The language skills deficit is revealed in a new report by research firm Evalueserve, which calculates that no more than 40,000 Indians will have a European language specialization other than English.
June 05, 2005
More of the same...
In this article, Editor & Publisher reports on th