For all of you who have been following the saga of Ajax, the Emergency Back-Up Cat, we have finally got an answer to his problem.
His liver enzymes are back to normal due to a neat product called Denosyl (aka SAM-E). He does not like to take this pill cause it needs to be given on an empty stomach. Therefore NO baby food with this pill.
He is also currently on some pain medication called Buprinex since he seems to be in some sort of discomfort. He also must take metronidazole (anitbiotic and anti-inflammatory) daily.
After some bloodwork and running some special diagnostic tests(that got sent to Texas. PLI,TLI, Cobalamine and Folate), our shitty(no really!) white cat has IBD (irritable bowel disease). The blood work shows him to have a folate deficiency. AH-HA!! now we know why this cat has been taking a shit on my carpet! It only took us nearly a year to figure this out (A neat plus to working in a cats-only hospital. You get to learn all the funky diagnostics for them).
Hopefully we can finally get this problem under control.
People think catfish get big, but I bet most of you don't know just how big. Rumor has it that the catfish below the navigational dam near my old home town were so big maintenance divers were afraid to do their jobs. I personally saw a catfish pulled out of there so big it took four guys to carry it up the bank. Don't believe me? See these:
A fish-shaped no-prize to Pat for sending us these!
Update: Looks like these are all part of a practice called catfish "noodling", wherein one swims around in muddy water and threads a rope or something THROUGH the mouth & gills of the fish. Ok, that's #16 on the list of things NOT to do when camping.
Kris gets a sugar-coated no-prize for this... umm... "video tribute" to the UK/US alliance. Not sure if it's meant to be insulting or not, but it sure was funny to me.
BBCnews is carrying this summary of a discovery of a new subatomic particle. Apparently given the unpoetic name of "Ds (2317)" (shoulda called it, like, the "schnizzle" particle), it was predicted to exist but has the wrong mass. In physics, depending on how you look at it, this is very bad (your theory is wrong) or very good (your new theory might be right after all).
I would of fallen for this joke.
Of course, Scott would be sitting in the car next to me, as he usually is, going " It's just a joke!"
Radio DJ's can be stupid.
Strange, yet true medical facts (or so they want you to believe).
On a rope no less!
100% all natural ingredients and cruelty free!
Looks like GM is getting ready to come out with a new Corvette soon. I just got used to looking at the old one! Hopefully they'll restyle the back end... I think the current car suffers from "J-Lo" syndrome pretty severely. Of course, if I were to win one in a contest or something I sure as heck wouldn't give it back.
New Scientist is reporting this development in nerve regeneration for penises. Oh stop giggling.
BBCnews is reporting a German-led expedition has discovered Uruk, the capitol of the empire created by Gilgamesh. They think they've even found Gilgamesh's tomb, underneath the old Euphrates riverbed.
No word whether this work was done before or after the war, but, knowing academic timelines, was almost certainly done before.
Instapundit linked up this recent Jerry Pournelle article about what may be the best way to rebuild Iraq, and I tend to agree with him. Unfortunately I also think it'll end up being the road map to our failure there. The whole thing is being managed by people who are part of a strong central government, and it's just human nature to think building a strong central government elsewhere will result in the same good. It's what we're doing in Afghanistan after all. But, as Pournelle notes, such an approach nearly always leads to a "one man, one vote, once" scenario.
Then again, we're still sitting on the Balkans, and haven't made any plans I know of to leave. Same with Afghanistan. I just don't know about this one.
Well, at least some of the French have a sense of humor:
As France wonders how Washington might punish it for opposing the war in Iraq, a spoof Paris newspaper has let its imagination run wild and reported a U.S.-led invasion to topple President Jacques Chirac.
No matter how hard you try, there's always going to be a busybody out to ruin everyone's fun:
One city councilman says the display [of women sunbathing in bikinis at a newly-renovated public park] is inappropriate in a place frequented by families and surrounded by churches. Councilman Wendell Gilliard says he is ready to take a stand, comparing the activity to the hot-selling "Girls Gone Wild" videos of college students in various stages of drunken undress.
Welcome to family values, 18th-century style! To their credit, most of the other city council seems to be ignoring the boob. As it were.
How stupid is this kid?
Typical stupid kid playing with a BB gun, then gets shot himself. What do you do? Blame it on the family pet.
Maybe the cat didn't try hard enough to cull the gene pool.
Joi Ito has this interesting take on the whole geisha/prostitute thing. Interesting because he's trying to explain it from a native, modern, Japanese point of view, and (IMO) does a pretty good job.
I'm almost certain mom won't see the humor in this one, but I sure did. My brother would start spouting about how "dubya" was managing to screw it up anyway. Sometimes it's lonely being conservative.
FYI, in case, like, you've got your car scheduled for an oil change or something, the world's going to end some time in May 2003. Damn. And I just waxed the spider...
Most of the women I know have admitted to occasionally feeling inadequate in the face (as it were) of the glamor blitz they see as they, for example, check out of the grocery store. Most of the husbands/significant others/partners of those women I know usually say, "if you had a professional makeup artist, hair stylist, and clothes designer working for you, you'd look better than that." Of course, all the ladies seem to focus on is that we're staring at the chick on the cover while we're saying it, and they don't catch the words.
So I'd like to provide some pictures.
New Scientist is carrying this interesting summary of new developments in stem cell research. By using techniques to induce "parthenogenesis" (which the NS people termed "virgin birth"), human egg cells can start creating stem cells without fertilization. This neatly gets around the big ethical problem most luddite conservatives have about stem cell research, as what results from parthenogenesis doesn't survive beyond the blastocite stage and could never be brought to the fetus stage let alone an actual infant.
BBCnews is carrying this summary of a Nature article detailing a new dating technique for early hominid fossiles. Looks like they're FINALLY able to date the Sterkfontein cave finds, and it turns out they're as old as anything else that's been found. This is a Big Deal.
There are several caves in South Africa that are rich in hominid fossiles. The problem is they're a horrible stratigraphic jumble, making them impossible to date with conventional means. They also didn't have convenient volcanic deposits on or nearby them, preventing older radiocarbon dating techniques from being applied. Hopefully this new technique will pan out. It will answer a lot of mysteries about those cave finds if it does.
Long-time readers will remember we featured an article by Bob X. Cringely when his infant son died of SIDS. Turns out it's a year later and the first part of his latest article summarizes what's happened since then. The second part is about open source software, so please feel free to skip it if it makes your eyes cross.
We visited the National Museum of Health and Medicine on Sunday. Actually, it was our second visit, and our friends's first. Small, but interesting in a somewhat creepy way. Turns out it's nothing like the Russian version. I wonder if we can get it to travel over here?
2 months to go! I feel like I'm in the last stages of cooking a turkey. You know, the part when you take the tinfoil off the last hour so it can brown? That stage.
Life is good when you have super-industrial panty hose on. Life is bad when you stand too long (hello! my work) and can't seem to find a comfortable spot to sit in. Laying down is much nicer on the body.
Scott seems to think it's funny now that I go up to him and lift my shirt up and yell "Rub the belly!!! You know you want to rub it for good luck!" Some men, so I have read, are really into sharing all the intimate details of their spouse's pregnancy, while other are like " Is it over yet?" Scott is more in the category of "Oh shit, I'm so not ready for this to happen to me! I just got a garage for my car! What do you mean I have to grow up now?"
He is your typical male in this situation. They sit back and watch because they are afraid of any consequences of what may happen if they say or do the wrong thing. One thing for sure is that he is not enjoying the pregnancy diet, which consists of a large lunch and maybe a food substance for dinner. Cooking? Yeah I really don't do that much anymore. No appetite for it. I'd rather cut a huge slice of watermelon and eat that for dinner.
One thing for sure is that I know he is mildly grossed out by my belly. Finally I have pried the story out of him why, and it's all due to a damn sci-fi book. Due to this book, O reminds him of a worm crawling around in there. Not just any worm, a rather large one. I still think it's an alien. I cannot get over the fact that there is a very small person in there.
Today we went to the Medical Museum in DC (rather weird museum), and looking at fetal specimens in jars was rather interesting. I kept trying to find one of O's stage and only managed to find one of 6-7 months gestation. Still it was a neat comparison that made me think that I have that in me. Just looking at all the specimens was fascinating. From babies the size of a pea to someone that is nearly done gestating was a rather interesting thing to see. Especially when you got to see the major changes month to month.
I'm supposed to start counting how many times O moves in a hour. Anything less than 10 movements I should contact my doctor according to the books and websites. Yeah ok, she does not comply with that list right now. She is horrifically active from 5pm to midnight now, and again at 3 am and maybe at 9 am when I just get started for work. Other than that, she is pretty silent, since I tend to keep moving throughout the day and she must either sleep during the whole thing or I am just not aware of it happening.
My only complaint this week is that the area right under my boobs keeps falling asleep, even when I sit as straight as I possibly can. Plus my rib cage aches on a consistent basis now.
Hopefully only 6-8 weeks to go. I do not want to see a 10th month.
Ok, yeah, it's in a foreign language, but trust me click around a bit and then hit the space bar, it's worth it.
I hope the nurses at the VA are still checking this site, some choice stuff for you folks tonight.
Proof that a) you can find anything on the internet and b) goth is a lot more popular than most people think, we present the GothCam network. So far none of ours are on there, but it's probably only a matter of time.
Space.com is carrying this interesting summary of new discoveries about Titan, Saturn's largest moon. Cassini's about a year out, but when it arrives we'll (hopefully) get to plunk a probe down on Titan to see what's really down there.
Not for eyes that are easily offended ok?
Looks like Chewie's going to be in the next one. Still keeping my fingers crossed that somehow it won't suck, but am not holding out a lot of hope.
I'd always heard that a power surge or electrical problem (I'd always thought of lightening strikes myself) on the utility pole outside your house was a Very Bad Thing. However, I had no idea that it could be this bad. WARNING: Contains graphic imagery of a squirrel carcas who's former owner was now busy blinking his eyes at the back of the reincarnation line, wondering what the hell that loud noise was.
People think I'm the wierd game nerd, but I want it placed in the record that I wasn't the one in my household to insist that the "nude sims" patch get installed. Turns out my wife isn't the only sim-perv in the world, as this sims "orgy" site amply demonstrates.
Sometimes, it's good to be a network admin. I was this [..] close to declaring FATWAH on cox cable because their service seemed to crap out every 15 minutes, and then come back 15 minutes later. Being in my job, I knew it wasn't the internet connection itself, but the DNS services that were causing the problem. For those who haven't heard of DNS services, they're sort of a combination of road maps and highway signs on the information superhighway. If you already know the way, you can get to where you're going without them, but if you don't you're screwed.
Cox's road maps and street signs regularly burst into flames. However, I know of several alternative sources for road maps and signs. A few clicks of the mouse, a couple of numbers entered, and PRESTO. Damn thing runs faster than it ever did.
Back to your regularly scheduled fragfest...
Well, I know other guys will get to see it (I sure as hell won't). Turns out there's a new trailer for Tomb Raider 2. Looks about the same as the last, which I didn't see either, but by reports it wasn't a bad movie.
Is it just me, or do Jolie's eyes fairly scream "psycho loves to hurt you chick?" There's not a guy in the audience who doesn't know what I'm talking about.
Bigwig over at Silflay has this well-reasoned set of predictions for SARS and its implications for the communist party of China. In a nutshell: because of cultural constructs unique to the history of Chinese government, SARS might be increasingly seen as a devine repudiation of the central government.
Yeah, I guess at 17 years even a popular goldfish should get a break. Goldfish are not the brightest of critters though. We had two that swam upside down for the better part of a year, never seemed to bother them that much. Both have gone to the Great Bowl in the Sky, to be replaced by the evil Oscar, which plots to destroy the world daily. As soon as it's had it's catfood anyway (yes, Ellen feeds it cat food... it CRUNCHES it... weird.)
Ok, it's my birthday, all right? I get to be as tasteless as I want. In that vein, be sure to check out this ultimate backstreet boys parody. Does a nice send up of that goateed one I caught Ellen drooling over that one time. BUSTED!
Back woods roller-coaster anyone? Somehow I don't see K & D taking a ride on this one, although the kid sure does seem to be having fun. No, it's not in Arkansas, at least I don't think it is, so shaddup.
BBCnews is reporting this summary of a new "exoplanet". The good news: it's only a bit bigger than Jupiter (much smaller than most). The bad news: it has an orbital period of 28 minutes. Makes me dizzy just thinking about it.
Jimspot brings us what is probably a pretty sexist joke to people with no sense of humor, but I smiled at it. I'll wager you did too. Of course, it's a bad joke, which means I groaned as I smiled. But still...
From the junk-transformed-into-art category, we bring you Hub Cap Creatures, wherein an artist proves a hubcap lying on the side of the road can in fact be turned into something useful.
Pretty much anyone who's made it all the way through high school and into college has heard it in one form or another from various professors:
Learning does not need to be fun. Learning is not supposed to be fun. Learning is work, and therefore never will be fun. Trying to make learning fun simply dilutes the knowledge that must be imparted, makes the lessons less relevant and full of unnecessary "fluff", doing the student a disservice in the long run.
In my case it usually came from tenured professors trying to make me read Thucydides or Marvin Harris. Yet they couldn't have been more wrong. As so many people often do, they were mistaking schooling's primary job. School isn't supposed to teach you facts, it's supposed to teach you how to learn them.
"You and I will never be rich," was the way a dialogue went in one of my Arthur C. Clarke books, "not because we're dumb, but because we don't know how to be rich. The rich are rich because they like to make money. You and I are not rich because we like to spend money."
On the face of it, the assertion seems absurd. Everyone likes to make money, because money is where it's at. Money gets us food, clothing, fast cars and cheap women (or, if it's your taste, expensive jewelry and obedient men), fancy boats and cool toys, and... well, if you run the list off in your head why money is important, I'll bet most of you find it really is about how you want to spend it.
In spite of what our jealousies make us feel, most rich people are rich because they really do like making money. They're all about investment opportunities, tax shelters, savings vehicles, bond issues, retirement goals, and all the other myriad ways money can be turned into more money. Rich people who stay rich typically spend very little. Sam Walton was famous for his worn out pickup trucks, Madonna is well known for never having any cash when she goes out, and LL Cool J pays cash for a Honda instead of a Humvee.
In other words, the rich get that way not because there's something intrinsically or genetically special about them, but because they are willing to sacrifice both great and small things for their one true love: the acquisition of more money. They enjoy making it, far more than spending it, and that's what makes them different. There really is no blue in their blood, no special gift bequeathed to them simply by birth.
Knowledge is, of course, a kind of wealth. Coming from the physical side of anthropology, I learned early on that in spite of many long and strenuous efforts, anthropology (and pretty much every other science) has been incapable of proving a link between sex, class, color, or religion and intelligence. Black, white, red, yellow, male, female, Christian, Jew, Muslim, Hindu, and all in-between have the exact same brains between their ears.
It did, however, lead me to a kind of problem. Accepting the position that there is no genetic cause for stupidity still left me with all these quite patently stupid people milling around causing trouble. Even weirder, people would call me "smart" even though I certainly felt, and occasionally acted, as dumb as the next guy. How can it be that the same organ that allows Steven Hawking to mathematically prove that black holes emit radiation also allows Tammy Fae Baker to believe the world is only 7500 years old?
It was a personal revelation that lead me to the answer. I was sitting in a waiting room while Ellen got her glucose test. I had forgotten my copy of Thucydides (which, fifteen years later, wasn't anywhere near as head-crunchingly boring as I thought it was when I was 19), was instead reading a statistical textbook on the environmentalist movement, while wishing I could finish up both so I could start on a new analysis of the Iranian revolution. In a flash, I suddenly realized something.
I was smart not because of any particular combination of genes, and not because I happened to be white or male, I was smart simply because I liked to learn. And not just about one particular subject, but anything. I was interested in how they made cereal, why an aluminum can has a funny pinch on one end, who Imam Ali was, how a steam engine worked and where the Bible was written. I wasn't upset about books I had to read, but that I had no time to read all the books I owned.
The more I thought about it, the more the hypothesis seemed to hold up. Everyone in my own personal life whom I considered "smart" enjoyed learning for its own sake. Maybe not about Everything, but certainly about one or more Somethings. Conversely, people who I considered dumb got that way in my mind because they had proven unwilling to learn oftentimes the most basic things.
It also provided a nice explanation for stupidity in its more general sense, without having to rely on the ugly crutches of racism, sexism, or religious discrimination. People believed dumb things not because they were brain damaged, or female, or black, or Christian, or any of the thousands of other trivial things that differentiate us. They believed dumb things because they'd lost interest in learning. Lost the taste for it. Their world had frozen in an amber-hard gem of belief, now incapable of being reshaped even as it slowly went cloudy and scratched from age.
Worse still were the people who'd never gotten the chance. Critical thinking is a skill hard won by humanity, one which entire cultures have learned, forgotten, re-learned, and forgotten again, sometimes at the cost of millions of lives. The chimpanzee lies very close to the surface in all of us, and it can take frighteningly little to turn it loose.
Human beings have to be taught to think. It quite simply does not come naturally to us. History has proven again and again that without years, sometimes decades, of drill we will many times lose the ability to think for ourselves. When this happens the best that can be hoped for is a culture of poverty and entitlement. All too often it ends in the abyssal hell of the fanatic.
This is why learning must be fun. A society may decide the minimum number of things it's important to know, but without the will, the knowledge, the passion of learning the only result is a person with a minimum knowledge of things. A bad teacher forces in dry facts and mistakes knowledge for education, blaming ignorance for the sleepy heads and glassy stares. A good teacher instills a love of the mechanisms of learning, understanding knowledge will take care of itself, far beyond the time and space of the classroom.
Even more important, while it is possible to lose the ability to think critically, love learning, it's also possible to get it back. A person can't simply stop being black, or female, or Jewish, or any of the hundreds, thousands of other stupid, useless things that entire swathes of humanity have been written off over. It's not easy, not by a long shot. Critical thought is to our intellect what enlightenment is to our spirit. Re-learning it is probably one of the hardest things an adult can do.
But it is something anyone can do.
The B.A.T. cars are well known to pretty much every Alfisti, and most of the rest of the automotive enthusiast world (except for you of course, which is why I provided the link). Yet the cars started at the number 5. Was there a BAT 1 or BAT 3? Well, one guy thinks he's found the answer. Sitting in a barn less than three miles from his house no less.
Ya know, it's pretty bad when your kids are so awful they end up in the newspapers:
Two three-year-old twin boys who disappeared from home then reappeared hours later without their clothes had been off wreaking havoc in a neighbor's empty house, French newspapers reported on Thursday.
My brother and I didn't do things like that because we knew our lives would be effectively over when we got caught. And not over in a pleasant, quick, toss-them-out-the-window way, but a long, slow oh-how-could-you-do-this-to-your-mother sort of "guilt to death" kind of way. At least until Dad came home, then it'd be the mother of all beatings for sure.
I guess it makes me a barbarian, but I firmly believe that tightly controlled physical violence (i.e. spanking) is a valid and nessesary tool in a parent's arsenal. Not the tool of first resort, but definitely never to be excluded from the last.
But that's just me.
The first T3 trailer I saw just screamed "retread", looking as if they'd just recycled the last plot and changed the actors. However, after seeing this newly released trailer, I think I'll have to upgrade the forecast from "complete waste of time" to "has potential." No more than that though. Still keeping my fingers crossed for Matrix 2.
Other than the special walkways and doors, I'm not sure why this story about a tokyo developer's plans for a 'cats-only' apartment complex is news. There are tons of places that only allow cats in this city alone. Strange...
Weirdly, rat chicken is one of the top 3 search strings that lead people to our site. The joke was, the link quit working months ago. But now we're happy to report Rat Chicken has returned! Glory once again in the twisted weirdness that is... [echo voice]RAT CHICKEN!!![/echo voice].
No! YOU go to hell!!!
There are on-stage performances, and then there are on-stage performances:
A full-frontal assault of sexual excesses based on the Marquis de Sade's writings hits the London stage on Tuesday with a play featuring scenes of sodomy, rape, incest and genital mutilation.
Being what it is, and people being what they are, I'd imagine the producers won't be able to print tickets fast enough. But folks, cigarette smoking vaginas having a conversation with each other isn't theater... it's a bad acid trip.
Kris sent us this one.
Question is, Why are the manequins women?
Having been raised in a feminist household (my mom was the first woman on the city council in my small home town, and for all I know might still be the only one), I found this editorial on one woman's experience with feminism very interesting:
Feminism sent some very powerful messages to girls growing up in the '70s and '80s in Australia. We are all (men and women) beneficiaries of the ground-breaking policy changes brought about by the tireless efforts of a strong band of femocrats, feminist lobbyists and liberationists.
Yes, Australian, but quite relevant to the US as well I think.
I've personally never heard of the International Organization for Standardization, but anyone who's interested in creating standards for contraceptive devices is at least worth a second look. You may laugh, but making condoms culturally acceptable in places like Africa and India would be a tremendous stride in the prevention of AIDS.
Will the real Saddam please stand up? The first rap song my brother might actually like
Hell Michigan, that is. America is a land of busy folks, sometimes too busy to come up with a really good name for their town. This ABCnews.com article gives us a nice overview of places like Gas KS, Tightwad MO, and Climax NY.
In Arkansas I remember a town called, I think, 56. No, not fifty-six, but 56. Had a population of 35.
Damion gets an antenna-mounted no-prize for his submission of the phone bashing site. Videos of guys dressed up in giant phone suits running up to obnoxious cell phone users and crushing the annoying little gizmos. Vigilantism at it's finest, what's not to love?
Everything you always wanted to know about the five worst wines in the world but were afraid to ask. My parents ran a liquor store for 11 years or so, I'm sure they both know the names of all the rest of the stuff winos drink. I distinctly remember one booze called, I kid you not, "fighting cock." Was a whisky, I believe (but probably only in the broadest of terms), and it had a flammability warning on it.
Scott and I, we like our steaks rare and or medium rare. But we really take execption when it walks up and MOOS at us.
Does this count as SBC? (spontaneous bovine combustion)
Ok, I'll admit it. I'm a hardware geek. Star Wars to me wasn't about the zippy characters, or snappy dialogue, or overarching storyline. For me, as a nine year old (shaddup Damion), Star Wars was about gear. Lightsabers, landspeeders, and the starships, oh, the starships! One of the things that makes SF so much fun for hardware geeks is that, since almost by definition all starships from all universes must play in the same "physical world", you can actually compare them and have endless chick-repellant debates over which was better. Star Destroyer vs. Enterprise? B5 vs. Lexx? Battlestar vs. Bird of Prey? All were fair game.
Well, they may not have settled any of those debates, but this site at least lets you compare the various "wessels" with each other, to scale.
Yes, I know. Compared to the troubles of the world this is so trivial as to be, well, trivial.
But really, compared to the troubles of the world, what's wrong with a little trivia?
A guarenteed good laugh! Enjoy!~
Ok, this is totally messed up!
I laughed so hard I literally peed in my pants. (sorry for your computer chair Scott)
"AMCGLTD," we hear you ask, "I am really excited by my prospects for world domination. Thanks to you, I've read the manual, practiced my evil laugh, and even have a hench
manperson or two all raring to go. But now I have a problem! How does a future world dictator acquire the trappings needed to be taken seriously in the Evil Organization field? I need uniforms, lairs, heavy arms, and at least a superweapon or two. Is there any place out there that can help me distinguish my evil group in the increasingly crowded field of conspiratorial organizations? Help!"
Fear not, villain-to-be! AMCGLTD is here to help! VillainSupply.com is now available for all your evil needs. Choose from their many categories like "Traps & Torture", "Lairs & Bases", and "Henchperson Gear" to get your organization started out right. When you're ready, their knowledgeable sales staff is there to assist you when choosing from their wide assortment of superweapons and doomsday devices. A recent check on their website reveals a special on weapons-grade plutonium that simply can't be beat! Don't delay a moment longer, your plans for ultimate conquest await!
AP is carrying this summary of a Chinese discovery about the genome of rice that could eventually be used to substantially increase yields of the plant. While interesting in and of itself, I couldn't help but notice the complete lack of the standard "Frankenstein's monster" fearmongering over gene altered foodstuffs. One can't help but wonder just how differently this article would've been written had these discoveries been made by an American company like Monsanto.
Might be old to you, but I'd never seen Life as a Guy. Have sketchbook, will travel. I should say something like, "yup, welcome to PMS from a guy's point of view." But of course, that would be sexist, whiney, stupid, and simply not true.
Spaceflightnow is carrying the most detailed summary of what seems to have happend to Columbia I've seen so far. Of interest: the damaged area may have been a small as an inch or two across, almost certainly invisible to any kind of ground-based imagery. Insulation impact is still the leading candidate for the ultimate source of the damage.
ABCnews is reporting this summary of developments in diabetes monitoring technology. If things pan out, a diabetic may in the future be able to monitor their glucose via a specially constructed contact lense. No need to stick, just look in the mirror.
Scientific American is carrying this article summarizing at least some of the lessons learned in this seemingly GPS-driven war. Nothing too surprising to people familiar with how it works, but a nice summary nonetheless.
The New Scientist is reporting that baby teeth are turning out to be a potential source of stem cells. It's suspected that these versatile cells play some sort of role in the development of adult teeth, but appear to be useful for a variety of other things. Look out tooth fairy!
I haven't heard it voiced out loud yet, but I know it's only a matter of time before someone says, "the US's ability to wage war while sustaining almost no casualties means they're much more likely to engage in future conflicts." On the face of it, it even makes sense. It's the cost of a thing that determines how often we use it, right? By minimizing the cost in human life to the victors, war will automatically become easier to engage in, yes?
One of the more crass but no less predictable comments on the Columbia disaster was, "there were just seven people on that thing! Thousands of people are killed [by whatever petty injustice is on their mind today] every day, how dare you be upset by seven people!"
The difference is, of course, that we can know these seven people. We learn their names, know how many children they had, what each individual's history was. Instead of faceless statistics, they become real in our minds. Further, they were our best and brightest, doing something that nearly all of us see as worthwhile and meaningful. We know that every one of them understood the risks, and considered what they did not brave, but simply part of the job.
It's simply a cold, hard truth of humanity that we sympathize only with what we can identify, humanize, or incorporate into our own experiences. The most effective way of motivating people over an enormous humanitarian crisis is not to drone on with statistics, or even tell stories of refugee camps or show pictures of dozens of skeletal bodies mummifying on a road, it's to focus on a single person and tell their one compelling story as effectively as possible.
That's what this so called "modern war" allows. Cynics at Hollywood parties and college cloak rooms will eventually crow about "video game warfare" and "the puppet press brigade", all the while missing the real point. We can never know the thousands of faceless soldiers who marched shoulder-to-shoulder at Gettysburg, who went over the top at Verdun, up the cliffs of Omaha Beach. When death is counted in the thousands, we can't understand that each statistic represents the body of a high school linebacker being rolled in the surf, a sophomore chemist in a frozen foxhole with his eyes fixed open, or a pharmacist floating alone in the middle of an ocean, the nearest land a thousand miles away.
But when the casualties number in the tens, instead of ten thousands, every soldier has a name. Every one of them is mourned not only by their families, but by communities, counties, states, a nation. We can know their faces and their history. They have a future we can all see was cut short too soon, and by seeing their sacrifice on a personal level we work all the harder to make sure it has a meaning.
Some may say fighting a war that kills a mere hundred is no war at all. To them I ask how many is enough? To them I say how dare you make yourself the judge of the amount of death needed to create "equality." To them ask if they will say these things to the faces of the families of those hundred, that the death of their child, a child the rest of the nation mourns, means nothing. I call coward any who prevaricate, refuse, or bluster.
When money is like water it is spent as if the gates of heaven have opened wide. But when each penny leaves dear, each dollar let go only with regret, the wisdom of Solomon himself can't convince a people to part with it. That is the lesson of this war. By individualizing every death an entire nation re-learns the wisdome of Robert E. Lee when he said, "It is well that war is so terrible--we should grow too fond of it."
I love frogs. Or rather how I pronouce it (so Scott says) as frahg. We sleep with the windows open now and listen to the peepers at night.
Apparently Hawaii is having a small frog issue. Of course, introduced by man since Hawaii has no native reptiles or amphibians of it's own.
The site speaks for itself! Go check it out. Lots of useful information and of course, t-shirts, pictures ect...
The US Alfa community lost a dear and valued member yesterday. Fred Dimatteo, one of the founding members of the Alfa Romeo Owners Club, passed away last night due to complications from angioplasty. Fred lived to a ripe old age, the far side of 90 as I recall, and by all accounts lived it as fully as anyone could hope right to the very end. He was crotchety, did not suffer fools, but was willing to do whatever he could to help people keep their alfas on the road (as long as you were willing to be called "stupid" when you were.) On more than one occasion I was simply stunned speechless when some alfa digester posted a weird and vague problem was answered by Fred with "look under the passenger side rear access panel. There's a blue wire that's come loose. Tighten that and it'll fix right up."
So raise a glass, light a candle, burn some incense, or whatever else you do to remember a life well lived, because by all accounts his was.
And always give a wink and a nod when you see those funny little cars with the cross-and-serpent logo, because all of us in the Alfa community will know you're waving at our silent passenger, grumbling in the ether about our corroded electrical connections.
How many logos can you identify just from one letter? Quite frightening actually, how well I did (I got ~ 70% before I gave up). There are marketeers tapping their greedy little soulless feet because of this.
What do a rabbit, a digital camera, and a pancake have in common?
Well, ok, I don't know either. You decide.
Note: No rabbits were harmed!
For the paranoiac nut who has everything: the ultimate secure home. Nuclear bomb-proof construction, a safe room, and yet a cozy fireplace and four bedrooms. Cool, in an "allworkandnoplaymakesjackadullboy" sort of way.
BBCnews is carrying this summary of a set of astronomers successfully predicting a supernova via a new theory involving the mysterious gamma ray bursts.
This weekend Damion and I got into a discussion over just what the heck a Macpherson strut suspension is (which is what his Honda has), and how it compares to a double-wishbone suspension (which is what my Alfa has). Did a little digging and found this nice site which, while not exactly well written, does give a good technical summary not only of these two types, but of pretty much all the different types of suspension that can go under a car. Live axles, swing axles, DeDion (which is what Ellen's Alfa had), and many more!
Update: Turns out Damion's Honda was the last year to have a double-wishbone front suspension. You learn something new every day...
The Washington Post carried this summary of a new study that attempted to answer the age-old question "are married people really happier?" In a nutshell: according to this study, most people's happiness is not affected much either way by marriage, at least in the long term.
Slashdot featured this website detailing the misadventure of a rescued bunny and what happened when he was left in a room with a computer in it. I file this one under "dur", because, while I've never owned one, it's always been my understanding that you do not leave bunnies indoors unsupervised. When you're done playing with them back into the cage they should go!
8-10 weeks to go!
We finally got most of the baby's room completed. Only thing left is the new carpet (yeah, go figure, cat peed on the old one). My mother came down from New York and put up the wallpaper and corner molding to break it up a bit. I also have to go to Next Day Blinds and get the shades that I want for her room.
I don't know if I'm going to want her to sleep in that room. I kind of want to sleep in it now! Scott says it looks like an Easter egg detonated inside it, but what does he know.
Damion had letters cut for me for O's room to spell out her name across one wall. Each letter is 12 inches long and they have some really neat jaggedness to them. It will remind me of my favorite Italian Goth for a long time. I can only imagine what Kris and Damion are going to come up with using that onsie I gave them a while back (it looked rather good on their cat, Cassie, although I get the feeling Cassie may not have agreed.)
It's getting harder to breathe now. Everything is very compressed. My mom said I was tiny, and was expecting me to be bigger. I don't want to get any bigger than I need to. This is enough. I'm done. No more growing, mmkay? You stop trying to push mommy's ribs through her stomach, and mommy will make sure daddy puts your sullen teenage ass through college, deal? No (*ouch*) stop (*ouch*) I'm not kidding! Well, ok, sometimes it works. I think. When I start having... discussions... with my soon-to-be-daughter Scott starts snickering to himself and mumbling about "irresistable forces" and "immovable objects" and "she's already your damned daughter" and things like that. I punch him.
Walking is becoming a bit bothersome, as well as going up and down steps at work and at home. God forbid I don't have compression stockings on, it really does become the end of the world as my legs feel like they're trying to puddle around my ankles without them.
Strange thing is, people around you not going through this look at you as if you are nuts and are basically faking it. Yeah, no, sorry. Let me cut you open and stick a 15 pound watermelon in your abdomen with all of your internal organs being mashed against your ribs and we shall see how you fare.
The only positions in life right now that are appealing are either lying on my side, or on my back. This is when you start to pray that you don't have to urinate any time soon. Getting up from either position is a chore, because you have to make a good attempt not to give yourself a hernia or hurt your back anymore that it already does.
Scott came home from work the other day (his work gave him a baby shower- how sweet! He was even one of the guests of honor!). He said that Sam, a native African from Sierra Leon who became a father just four months ago laughed at him and told him in an accent thick as molasses, "Oh nooo, eet gets mahtch mahtch wose dan dis mafriend". Yeah ok, I think I have the right to really start getting cranky now.
8-10 weeks sure feels like a long time away.
I don't want any of you talking about toadsuck days or the ding-dong-daddy festival or calling the hogs or any of the other weird things Arkansas is famous for, because I just found out Britain is way weirder in the summer. Things like marbles championships, worm charming contests, coal carrying races, "bog snorkeling", and many more lead me to believe the UK could give California a serious run for its money in the "weird for weirdness's sake" category.
Burt Rutan has finally unveiled his company's design for the world's first private space craft. I'd seen pictures of the carrier plane elsewhere under the "wtf is this thing?!?" category. Well, now we know!
A 73-year-old man who used an air raid siren to stun his wife into submission has had it confiscated by German police.
Weirdlinks calls it the most bizzare site of the year, and we're inclined to agree. How do we know? Five words: Roy Orbison in Cling Wrap.
Tired of trying to measure up to God, but still wondering what a certain situation calls for? Don't ask about Jesus, ask what would Judas do?
Ok, after crawling around in it awhile it would appear that Big Bad Chinese Mama is not in fact new or unknown, but I'd never heard of it before and I'd wager many of you hadn't either (well, ok, my mom probably hasn't heard of it!) Part satire, part slapstic, with a little bit of angst and a whole lot of anger, it's definitely a different look at race relations and the life of (what appears to be) a 20-something activist with a twisted sense of humor. Just the way we like it!
If it's from the man show, you know it's going to be a) stupid, b) vulgar, c) offensive, and d) funny, usually all at the same time. This man show periodic table of manly elements is absolutely no exception.
Our friend Joshua collects exotic Vodkas. He's got them from all over the world, all sorts of colors (black vodka!), and god only knows what flavors. If he hasn't heard of it yet, I'm sure this "hangover-proof" [ark! ark!] vodka will be of interest.
Reuters is reporting this summary of a British attempt to digitally reconstruct the Odeon of Pericles, the world's first indoor theater. The reconstruction indicates that the views from the seats were probably lousy, considering the large number of columns required to hold up the ceiling. Since the Odeon appears to have been used as a rehearsal stage, this may not be all that surprising.
Sometimes slashdot will lighten up just a little (rare, but it does happen) and feature the occasional lighthearted piece. Like this coverage of barstool racing, proof positive that if you can put wheels and an engine on something, someone will figure out how to race it. If you can paint it red, it'll be an Italian.
BBCnews is carrying this article summarizing a recent archeological discovery that could crank the date for the invention of writing back to about 8,600 years ago, fully 2000 years before the mesopotamians came up with it. As the article notes though, it's still too early to tell if this is writing or "just" decoration. Human languages, even literate ones, can change dramatically in just a century or two (anyone who's tried to read Shakespear without footnotes can attest to this), let alone 5 millenia.
It's one thing to drive a boxy
boring reliable car, it's a whole other when that car tries to set your ass on fire. Literally.
Found this little McD's calculator digging around in the comments on FARK. Even their "healthy" stuff (grilled chicken sandwich, which isn't that great) is still pretty bad for you. All of my favorite combos register in the 42% to 52% of daily recommended fat intake. How do yours stack up?
It's that time of year folks, when pastel is in and bunnies hide eggs. In that spirit, we're proud to present this history of Ellen's favorite Easter snack food, the marshmallow peep.
New Scientist has this interesting report detailing the findings of computer scientists researching how men and women differ in their ability to "navigate" in a virtual 3-d world. Basically, it appears women generally need larger screens, a wider field of view, and a more fluid system of motion before they are able to match men in use of these systems.
Instapundit brings us this report from an arab embedded reporter that to me show two things, one intentional, and one not:
You have to read between the lines to understand point 2, but that's to be expected from the keepers of our freedom.
NavyNewsStand is carrying this story about a new "self defense ship." Instead of tying up expensive new ships and endangering the lives of sailors while testing new defensive systems, it appears the navy de-comissions an older ship, wires it up for remote control, and shoots at that instead. A remote controlled ship... all it'd need is the red light going back and forth on the front of it and you'd have KITT on the ocean!
Spaceflightnow is carrying this nice summary of recent Columbia investigation developments. In short: the breach area has been moved a little further down the wing, and now the leading suspect is a "T-seal" instead of a carrier panel. Also, mockups of the various materials and panels are scheduled to be tested by shooting chunks of foam at them out of a nitrogen cannon. Of interest is the use of panels from Enterprise, the original flight-test prototype, in these mockups.
BBCnews is carrying this summary of a new expedition to the "lost city of atlantis", a mid-atlantic formation of white smokers unlike any other geothermal construction yet found.
Ah, the internet, a system designed, really grown, by geeks with a very low tolerance for moron-itude. The internet's search engines don't ask to catalog a site, they just do, so if someone puts amusing but confidential stuff up without locking the door, well, it usually doesn't take very long until someone jiggles the knob.
Damion will not be surprised to hear the person ultimately responsible for the goof was a designer.
Eason Jordan is at it again, but this time in a smaller local Atlanta paper, probably in the hopes the rest of the world wouldn't see it. If not for ATS, I would've missed it. I'd take it apart myself, but Larry, who's seen the workings of news rooms from the inside, does a much better job than I ever could.
We finally caught one of these weasels in a spotlight. As they're so fond of doing, it's time to make an example...
This mac "switch" parody takes awhile to get to you, but is well worth it.
"The confusing thing about PCs is, there's, like so many games. But on the mac, there's just six."
Warning: If the sounds of stop-motion furniture boinking could get you in trouble at work, wait until you get home to see it.
I know I shouldn't have to say this, but these are teenage boys after all: It's stupid to stick your head in front of a misfiring potato cannon. Mmmkay?
Found this nice motor oil "what-for" in my alfa digest. Everything you ever wanted to know and more, all on one simple website.
I'm sure some lefty out there will take this story about the trials and tribulations of the "new combined" Iraqi/US police force as a sign of our incompetence and doom, but to me it's actually a sign of hope. People may be getting confused, but they're not getting dead, and the only thing that got hurt was a bank vault. Soldiers aren't trained in policing, they're trained in killing things and breaking stuff. I'm not sure how many of the Iraqi police are trained at all. Considering what they have to work with, they seem to be doing OK right now.
I laughed out loud at this quote though:
"[The Iraqi police] are very eager to do their job, but it's hard because we just can't talk to each other," said [Marine Corporal] Weeks. "And they have a different way of enforcing justice. They want us to shoot everybody."
Ellen, Reverend Heathen, Nina, Michele over at ASV, the HSW, and Zod over at Silflay should all take careful note of Captain Electro's Guide to Ultimate Evil. From "focusing your feelings" to Image and Fashion to Evil Theme Music and much much more, it's all there. And all the rest of you, be sure to help the evil doer in your live by passing this one around.
I'd include the cats's names, but they probably already have a copy.
As far as I know, only Homer Simpson himself would be dumb enough to cook pork chops over an open flame with kegs of gunpowder nearby. Truely amazing nobody was killed, which is why it's funny.
Maru gets her no-prize delivered on a golf cart for bringing us this summary of the "protests" at Augusta. Two ways of detecting a cirus: when the media people run out of participants and start interviewing each other, and when there are more media than participants.
Just wanted you all to know that a Hoover upright vacuum will suck a pair of thong panties off the washroom floor, through the hose attachment, and neatly deposit them in the dust canister without any drama whatsoever, faster than you can think "I better check around this corner before I stick the vacuum wand around it."
Or... well... ahem... so I've been told anyway.
You've been warned.
"We've hired a new designer, and they need a Macintosh to do their job."
Words every PC sysadmin fears. I'd avoided them for more than seven years, but could do so no longer. I, Scott Johnson, would have to move from the serious, hard-edged black ironworks of PC computing into the softly lit, green-and-blue computerland of Tinky Winky, Dipsy, Laa-Laa and Po.
Fortunately for me, I'd managed to wait long enough that a completely new kind of mac software, OS X, had rolled around. OS X may look like a computerized version of the Teletubbies, but underneath it's all Unix-based goodness. Supposedly, it's almost like watching Dipsy hop merrily over the hill with his teletubby companions, then suddenly throw out tank treads from his feet and push a 155mm smooth-bore cannon out of his cutely grinning mouth. "Bump-a-tum this mother----er*."
I'd even had some exposure to these new macs ("These things you call, umm, 'MAKS'... how do they function?") via my good friend Damion. Unlike most of the mac users I'd known, he was certainly competent enough to know which end of the mouse went against the table. He'd even caught me out in a complete goof with this particular exchange:
Damion: "This is a drawing tablet." (translation: Oh god, this PC gorilla is going to start smashing something soon. Must... distract...)
Me: "ook. tablet good."
Damion: "Here's the 'pencil'... isn't it cool how you can draw with it?" (whereapon he makes several stylized whisks turn magically into a skull.) "Here... you try it."
Me: "ook. tablet good. draw bunny" (scritch scritch)
Damion: "And when you turn it over, it even erases."
Me: [sets down drawing tool, lifts pad from desk, turns over pad, starts drawing again] "ook. pad no work."
Damion: "Umm... no... the pencil turns over." [cue laugh track]
Then there was Joshua, an extremely competent PC guy who, amazingly enough, also used a Mac. After long and careful observation I found he was actually doing it voluntarily, without any bribery, coercion, or involuntary medication. After these experiences, I decided macs must not be all that bad after all. I actually considered it a kind of challenge.
Unfortunately to have macs on a network you have to buy macs for your network. So I used the mac person's request list as a starting point, not realizing the mac person was flying nearly as blind as I was.
Damion: "Have you ever bought a mac?"
Me: "Um, well, no. Congratulations, you're now my mac consultant!"
Damion, in tone of 'dog that caught the bus': "Dude, I'm really not that technical."
Me: "We'll pay you."
Damion: "Welcome to TCM Computer Consultants! How may I help you?"
So now I get to play with Macs. They're awfully flash, and put out a ton of heat, but so far seem innocent enough.
As long as I remember it's the pencil that turns over, not the pad.
Dog sees cat. Dog chases cat. Cat runs toward cliff edge. Dog runs toward cliff edge. Cat jumps into tree.
(No worries... everyone ended up fine. That'll teach 'em to look where they're running!)
Damion gets a jet-propelled no-prize for showing us a real hybrid-powered car. Twin gas turbines no less!
Instapundit leads us to even more evidence of CNN's brown nose. Most disturbing of all to me was:
On the day Mr. Jordan published his piece in the New York Times, a panel on Fox News was discussing his astonishing admissions. Brit Hume wondered, "Why would he ever write such a thing?" Another panelist suggested, "Perhaps his conscience is bothering him."
Think about that one for a second folks. A media guy falls on his sword in public and all his other media-guy friends aren't nodding their heads sagely, but are instead asking "why would you admit it?" Not why did you do it, because they obviously all understand why (which means many, most, have done/do/would do the same thing), but why did you admit it.
"I hate newspapermen. They come into camp and pick up their camp rumors and print them as facts. I regard them as spies, which, in truth, they are. If I killed them all there would be news from Hell before breakfast.
I think I understand what military fame is; to be killed on the field of battle and have your name misspelled in the newspapers."
--William Tecumseh Sherman
Pat gets a GPS-guided no-prize for sending us these two pictures from an unkown location somewhere in the middle east:
Mostly it's a function of the boredom felt behind the lines, and the winding down of the conflict. When ops are running at a really high pace, everything I've read says the arming guys get too busy to do this sort of thing. I'm just wondering how long it'll take Michael Moore et. al. to start shrieking about how this just proves how bloodthirsty Americans are.
Two interesting ones from BBCnews this morning:
This article summarizes the discovery of what seems to be the oldest religious icon yet found in the Americas.
And this article details scientific criticism of the "methane" hypothesis of why the ice ages warmed up. Interesting because a few years ago the press foamed for a day or two over the possibility of methane hyrates off the east coast suddenly fizzing to the surface and killing everyone.
Scientific American is featuring this article about recent developments in cosmology that seem to be giving more support to the "infinite, parallel universes" hypothesis. Yup, sad to say, but science may perhaps one day prove there are in fact two Michael Moores and two George Bushes (depending on your politics, this can be a very good or very bad thing. Sometimes it's both).
Now we have the bean-foot bandit:
A female shop assistant had beans and other foodstuffs poured over her feet by a man who falsely claimed he was raising money for charity.
From March, so it looks like he may be ready to strike again!
Everyone used to make finals week out to be the worst thing in the world, yet it ended up like that old saying about combat: "long hours of utter boredom punctuated with moments of abject terror." We would stage mock watergun battles, have chugger contests, and all other manner of juvenile goofiness. This guy just went the extra mile to do a picture of every "smiley" available on AIM
Yeah, it's stupid, but I bet you smiled a little anyway. That's the point! I mean, what was the craziest thing you did during finals week (highschool or college)?
Most in the blogosphere by now know about the CNN chief news executive's confession, so we didn't link it up here, but in this article Larry over at the "new & improved fresh & tasty" Amish Tech Support gave me a reason, an email address. Read the article, then be sure to write an email message to Jordan Eason to let him know what you think about his "confession."
When Trent Lott said stupid things the press gnawed on it until "a change was made". Now those same self-appointed keepers of the truth have admitted they were lying to us just to get a fucking story, and are expecting the consequences to just vanish in the noise. So I'm going to do my part by pouring our own humble capful of gasoline on this smouldering fire.
They provide a platform for people who hate in the name of equal time and we remain quiet. They employ people who have the ethics of a rabid gerbil and we say nothing. Their "best and brightest" make egregious errors and then hide them on a back page, when they admit them at all, and we are silent. As my brother would say, "the line must be drawn here."
V.E. Hanson nails it again with this perceptive analysis of the barrel of monkeys we call the "press":
In general, the media has now gone from the hysteria of the Armageddon of Afghanistan to the quagmire of Iraq to the looting in Baghdad the only constant is slanted coverage, mistaken analysis, and the absence of any contriteness about being in error and in error in such a manner that reflected so poorly upon themselves and damaged the country at large at a time of war. It is as if only further bad news could serve as a sort of catharsis that might at least cleanse them of any unease about being so wrong so predictably and so often.
I myself had remarked to Ellen a few days ago that the looting wasn't what was remarkable... that sort of thing has happened to a conquered city since there have been cities to conquer. It was that the looting was being performed by the citizens of the city itself, not the army, that was probably unique in history.
Want to know what a real looting is like? Read The Rape of Nanking, a book about a place where soldiers were taught how to use bayonets by practicing on civilians, women were raped to death by the thousands, and entire blocks of the city were burned by roving bands of infantrymen.
Anyone who thinks the US is guilty of atrocities in this Iraq war, that we had no business there and the people of Iraq will quite obviously never benefit from it, is at best exhibiting a particularly loathsome form of ignorance, to the point of actually being a moron. That such things can come from the mouths of people who make their living pretending to be other people does not surprise me. That such things come out of the mouths of college graduates holding advance degrees, who are actually responsible for teaching our youth, sickens me.
Via on the third hand.
You knew someone was going to eventually do it. Yup, Purring Kitty turns your Nokia cellphone into a "discreet, vibrating massager". For, umm... "personal relaxation" I'm sure.
Triggered by a launch delay, the Washington Post has decided to go ahead and publish this nice summary of SIRTF, the Space Infrared Telescope Facility. As the last of the four "great observatories" launched by NASA in the past twenty years, its job will be to look at the universe in the infra-red spectrum and, well, see what can be seen.
Well, if Italy can elect porn stars to their parliament there's no reason Japan can't elect a masked professional wrestler to a local assembly position. Could this be a sign that Japan's infamous "system" is losing its grip? Oh, probably not. If someone does a little digging I wouldn't be surprised at all if they find he's the son or cousin of a graduate of the Tokyo University Law School (it has a name, I've just forgotten it).
But at least you won't have trouble spotting him!
There's not much I can add to this one: remote control, vibrating panties. The dongle (no, really, that's what they're called, I swear) looks a lot like what you open a car with. A great practical joke would be to give it to, say, the mechanic, who would keep hitting it wondering why the damned door isn't opening.
Almost there! 11 weeks to go. Why do I feel like the countdown to the space shuttle for take off? Well, not actually the countdown, but the part beforehand when the shuttle is still in preparation on the launch pad and it feels like forever before anything remotely interesting happens. I definitely feel like I have a tank full of something strapped to my belly.
My alien baby is starting to freak Scott out more everyday. He can now see Olivia move through my skin out of the corner of his eye when we are lying in bed at night watching T.V. Having him feel her move is even more fun. You get the typical answer, in a completely deadpan tone, of "OK, that's freaky" from him.
More changes occur on a daily basis now. We know she prefers to lie on the right side of my belly. I currently can't tell the difference between an ass or a head when it's bulging out, but I think I can tell the difference between feet and hands.
The baby's room finally gets finished next week. The wallpaper border is going to be put up, shutters placed in the windows, with a large mirror and some shelves to dress the room up a bit. Finally, we'll add an area rug of a cat to make the floor happier looking.
I've also discovered that you don't necessarily need to be nursing a baby in order to have 'leakage' problems. Pregnancy books discuss this in the late 8-9th month, but not at the 7 1/2 marker. It was yet another *holy shit * moment in this adventure. It's also become the butt of many jokes in this house now.
It still amazes me to look at my weekly online calendar on the growth rate of the baby. Right now she is supposed to be 2.5-3 pounds and about 15 inches long, and all smushed into a compact little ball.
We have yet to really decide on what method of a birth experience we want, or rather what I want (if I want to hyperventilate for pain control, I'll remind myself to bring a paper bag with me, no need to take a class for that.) I don't think Scott really has a preference as long as everything is OK in the end. I have been noticing him pricing those "cup" style athletic supporters though, and he's been checking out the reach of my arms lately. Hmmm...
Considering some new kind of jewelry for those extra large piercing holes created for corks and other large impliments? Why not try this out for size.
Ok, you have to be in computers to really get this one, but trust me, it's funny.
Not only is Cheeta the chimp (from the 30s and 40s Tarzan movies) still around, he's 71 years old and therefore the oldest surviving chimp in the world. As far as I know, chimpanzees typically live only about 40 years even in captivity, so this is really old for a chimp.
Want to know what customization taken so far it goes out the other side and turns into a rolling road side attraction looks like? Wonder no more. Apparently this is a regular event. At first it looks like yet another tacky Texas ritual, but the longer you look at it the more you realize just how much work musta gone into them.
This is probably the most elaborate car commercial I've ever seen. Funny thing is, I recognize pretty much every bit of car in it. Sometimes I watch ads and say "They paid someone $150,000 to come up with this?!?" But other times, like this, I go "yeah, ok, at least some of them have a clue."
It starts like this:
Dear Sport Compact,
First off, let me just say that your mag is the best my friend is subscriber and I steel his copy every month before he even reads it now he wants to kick my ass but I told him instead of fighting we should have a heads up doorslammer only problem he has a Mazda MX-6 with the turbo motor and my Sentra cant keap up I mean my car is fixed up and all but I spend most my money giving it the looks I have full aero and pearl paint and lower three inches and even sub dubs for rims I spend so much on paint and body I have not money left to beat my friends turbo and now he says if I loose hes going pound my ass into the ground can you help me go faster thanks you guys rock.
The challenge: Get a riced-up econobox to do a 1/4 mile run in less than 14.5 seconds.
The problem: Your budget is $0. As in, not-even-the-lint-in-your-pockets $0.
The solution: One word... Sawzall.
Ok, from now on every time Damion threatens my car with a come-along and a tree I'm going to brandish a sawzall at his. Hey, it'll make it go faster, I have proof!
Check the pictures out, then go back and read the text, which is every bit as funny.
This is just as bad as my father in-law telling me his mobil home has 'tornado straps' on it so it won't blow away!
If a tornado wants your house, it will take it.
Just think, one of these days I'll be able to tell my kid I can remember a time when toilet seats were made out of wood, or plastic, not this fancy damned carbon fiber stuff they have now. God knows what the toilet paper will look like.
Every time an election comes around you hear it over and over, "it's all so much nastier now. Back in the 50s and 60s we could actually trust the government, and we didn't have to peer up every politician's colon to see if he was hiding money there."
Well, it took a long time but now at last we're finding out just how wacky a government can get when nobody's watching it. Spraying cities with bacteria, secret plots to nuke other countries, intentional releases of nuclear contamination, etc. was what we got for our trust. It's good to distrust the government.
Larry, our favorite jewish cat-loving Texan (if that combination doesn't give you a chuckle you're made of wood) has Re-worked and moved Amish Tech Support. No more blogspot! No more rateyourmusic lock up! Maybe now it'll load in less than 5 minutes...
Instapundit linked up this article from Slate detailing why rear wheel drive cars are just, well, better. Also includes another interesting hypothesis as to why SUVs became so popular.
Even fifty years ago there were people trying to stick pins into Scientology, as this on-line collection of all the issues of the "Aberree" shows. Published from 1954 through 1965, its authors described it as "the non-serious voice of Scientology". A great look into what people thought of the movement before it became such a lawsuit menace.
The final theatrical trailer is available for the new matrix movie. Visit this site to download it. I'm really, really hoping this movie doesn't suck. So far it looks good, but that's what I thought about S.W. Episode I.
Ever wonder what a spider the size of a standard wall clock would look like? Wonder no more. Once you're done getting the heebies from looking at this monster thing, be sure to read the comments underneath.
What I want to know is who had the guts to take the clock down. All I'd need to do is see just one of those legs move and I'd be out the door so fast it'd come off its hinges.
Also from BBCnews, this report on the biggest digital camera ever installed on a telescope. Called "megaprime", it is composed of 40 CCDs (charge coupled devices), with an aggregate resolution of 340 megapixels. For comparsion, the very best consumer digital cameras available top out at 6 or so megapixels.
BBCnews is reporting on recent developments in using magnetism to levitate metallic objects. Practical uses? Who knows (they say might be good for separating metals in mining), but when you can make coins float in the air, who cares?
Ok, no more making fun of Arkansas squirrel eating! Not when there are yankees that'll pay $20 each to eat muskrat.
Representational governments (not just democracies, but any form of government in which the citizens of a country get to pick their leaders themselves) have proven over time to be the safest, least-worst form of government humanity has created to date. Yet, if it's so self-evidently good, why does it always seem to go so wrong? Why do so many governments start out as representational, but end up monolithic dictatorships or oligarchies?
The answer is actually hard for people who live inside these governments to understand. One of the biggest stumbling blocks to a successful representational government is learning to accept that just because people disagree with you, doesn't mean they're out to destroy the country and exterminate your way of life. Remember, the only people who really want to run a government are people who have an axe to grind, who's belief in their causes make the pope look like someone who's a little interested in religion.
Really, when you think about it, we're no different. Here in the US whichever side is out of power bleats the same bleats against those who are: "AAAG! Those [fascists/communists] are out to ruin this country and [deny us our rights/take all our money]. They're just so [stupid/evil/greedy/ignorant] we can't trust them to [keep their hands off the help/speak without drooling], let alone run this country!" I mean, when it comes right down to it the only real difference between Rush Limbaugh's opinion of the opposition and Barbara Streisand's is the sex of the speaker. The words, attitudes, and opinions are all the same.
Britain was the first major nation, perhaps in history, certainly since the fall of Rome, to actually get a grip on this problem. Even then it took centuries of false starts, blind alleys, and at least one major civil war until people started to understand it was possible to disagree without suspecting the other side of selling everything out to the pope. For nearly the next three centuries most of the other places in the world with functioning representational governments had ancestors that either left or were thrown out of Great Britain.
They succeeded in no small part because of the tradition, in most cases centuries old, of "the other side" holding power, if only occasionally, and not actually setting the pets on fire. Very few other places, pretty much anywhere in the world, had this advantage, and it showed. Romantic poets, philosophers, and basically anyone else with a brain but without a job, would wax eloquent over these foreign peopleís ability to govern themselves without once understanding this was something granted through blood, not wishes.
Because without this deeply ingrained tradition passionate, powerful people (and at the very top they are all passionate about something) see those who disagree with them not as adversaries, but as traitors to the state. And perhaps the only thing all governments across the world agree on is the proper way to treat a traitor.
It's a formula that is followed almost without fail to this very day. A group of revolutionaries, typically but not always from the military class (because it's easier to have yourself a revolution if you've already got the guns), band together secretly and form a cabal to overthrow the utterly and obviously corrupt ruling regime. Because they are so obviously and utterly corrupt the only people supporting these regimes are outsiders (for the past sixty years either the United States or the Soviet Union), and so the government implodes in a matter of days (when the great powers didn't care) or decades (when they did).
As everyone is merrily dancing in the street pulling down statues and looting the local government office, great promises are made to Give the People a Voice, and most of the time the people now in charge actually mean it. Unfortunately what actually happens is those in charge come to understand that not everyone agrees with Our Grand Vision for the Great Push Forward. Worse still, some of those in the "opposition" are unbelievably obstinate and seem to be willing to resort to nearly anything to stop them. Almost as if by reflex those in power start passing laws to ensure these maniacs are never allowed to take the reigns of the state they risked so much to free, and from there it's a very, very short hop to holding polychromatic celebrations in the national soccer stadium for the Great Leader's birthday.
Is there a way out of this downward spiral? A pessimist would say no. Europe embraced representational government only because everyone else had taken away their guns. Their governments were forged in the fire of not one but two utter apocalypses, with the hammer of the United States beating them against the anvil of the Soviet Union. Japan only looks like a democracy from the outside. In truth nobody's really in charge of the place, and everyone in power is utterly convinced that if they really were to give the people a crack at running it all the very best they could hope for was an entire nation running naked in the streets.
There are, of course, some exceptions. Israel built itself a functioning democratic government with little if any help from the outside world, although one wonders if this was perhaps the only way a people willing to defy a god could function at all. South Africa looks promising, but with such an overwhelmingly powerful main party it's far too early to tell if they'll end up "Japan-ifying" themselves over time. The Latin American states are shaping up nicely, but far too many remember the stability, if not prosperity, given to them by the Juntas and the Generalissimos.
Regardless, it's incredibly important to understand, and therefore hardly ever truly understood, that representational governments are hard. They are not some sort of magic box you simply open up in front of the people of a country that suddenly allows them to be enlightened. Even the very brightest, especially the very brightest, can all too easily and with the best of intentions pervert it into something dark and twisted. This ain't no party, this ain't no disco. Life during wartime is easy compared with making your way through the peace that follows without cracking the skulls of the people who disagree with you. It is most especially not something that can be bequeathed quickly nor easily by a group quite patently just passing through.
They have to want it. And badly. We can only light the way. Always remember it's up to them to pick up the torch.
Never one to turn down a publicity opportunity when he sees one, Richard Branson of Virigin Atlantic is offering to buy the Concorde fleet from BA. The catch? He'll only pay 1 pound (about $1.50). But he'll also then pay for the continued operation of the fleet. Remains to be seen if BA will take up the offer. More news as we find it out...
Another day, another no-prize for Jeff. Thanks!
Remember that funky old computer game Simon? No? Ah, young grasshopper, it was one of the very first computer games "that's fun for all ages". Shaped like a UFO with four colored "paddles" around a center speaker, when you pressed GO it would play a tune and flash a light under one of the paddles. You had to repeat the pattern exactly, which ended up being pretty goddamned tough as it got longer and longer. That was about as good as computer games got in 1979, it really was.
My mom loved the thing, but since it didn't involve blowing anything up my brother and I tired of it eventually. However, if it had been like this Simon, we probably would've played it longer. Then the thing would've been echoing what my mom said when she played it!
(It's a joke mom, laugh!)
Multilingual no less! What an interesting way to learn a new language!
And actually, most guys would probably like it too. I mean, who wouldn't want to make a living getting shot out of a cannon twice a day?
I'm pretty sure I wouldn't want Ellen on the trigger though. And of course you know it'd have to be painted w/ cats.
Another oldie-but-goodie, the 100 Reasons it's Great to be a Guy gave me a case of the giggles for sure.
Interestingly, Drumwaster's list is a little different, but since his permalinks weren't working I had to go dig around and find a different one. Scroll down to see his. Enjoy!
When I was in college I was given the classic "learn to juggle" book for a birthday present. Even then I was famous for walking into things, people, air, etc., and a friend thought juggling might help. Well, it didn't really, as instead I started hitting things, people, etc. with the bean bags. I don't think I ever got it going for more than 10 seconds at a time.
But maybe if I'd had this extremely cool juggling "simulator", I'd've done better. Now where did I put those beanbags...
I always wondered if those guys who did the knife throwing acts in the circus ever screwed it up. Now I know:
A record-breaking knife thrower shocked viewers when one of his daggers sliced into the head of his assistant on live TV.
Andrew (E-mail withheld b/c I don't think he wants it spread around) asks a question in the comments we think is interesting enough to highlight, to wit:
A question for the people out there. Are comics a sexist medium? and why have mainstream comics remained so concervative in their portrayal of women?
Slashdot pointed out there's a ton of new Mars imagery that's been released lately. Very cool.
Just when you thought food couldn't get any weirder, someone goes and makes up an icecream that's 40% fish meat. Apparently it's not fishy tasting at all. Just hand it to me and don't tell me what's in it, k?
Dream of that minty fresh ass ?
Need to feel fresh all over? Spearmint fresh?
If you do, Sphinchterine is the product for you!
ps. It tingles !- (not from personal experience)
Jason over at negroplease has had the good graces to provide the "Honky Slut Warrior (aka "HSW") with her very own weblog, "cracka barrel". Only two days out and to me she's just as funny as our other Ranty-McRant lady friend, before she got all famous and serious and, like, quit linking us and stuff.
Hopefully HSW won't hurt me too bad for putting her in the same league as Ms. Lucas, because, I don't know, something tells me she may not like our Rachel very much. Just a feeling. (HSW: It's a compliment, not a comparison. Please put the bat down!)
This pictures just says it all. You know it was some marine who helped them with the phrasing...
Yeah, I know, it's old news to you, but I'd sure never seen it before... PWEETA has a web site! Yes, the People Who Enjoy Eating Tasty Animals have struck yet again with a web site for the Rest of Us. Not to be missed: the PWEETA movie, wherein you hear the quote: "hormones are good for you because they make you horny!"
Well, someone's gotta do it I guess: Rectaltronics.com, your one-stop shop for all things, well, butt-plug-ish. No pictures to get you in trouble over, but definitely some weird gizmos over there.
BBCnews is carrying this report on recent archeological findings regarding ancient Irish tombs. Personally, finding out their entrances point at the sun during a solstice or equinox goes under the "duh" column for me (most of the UK's contemporaneous sites seem to do the same thing), but what do I know...
Well, all those people who thought Europe was so much more sophisticated by not re-naming American stuff with native language names can now all officially sit down and shut up:
A group of German university professors, angered by the U.S.-British war against Iraq (news - web sites), have launched a campaign to replace many popular English-language words used in Germany with French terms.
Why do I think the French won't return the favor?
And US citizens got no reason to get righteously indignant, because it was the US that started this weirdness.
Further proof that it's people who are stupid, not Americans, Brits, Germans, Japanese, etc.
The only thing that would make this better is if the owner of the house was the one who flicked the cigarette:
A March 28 fire that damaged a home was caused by "the careless use of smoking materials by a bird," Mayor Stephen R. Reed said Tuesday.
I distinctly remember nearly getting myself set on fire when some moron flicked a butt out of her SUV, which promptly bounced across the pavement, up the hood of my car, and across my shoulder. Was very exciting for a bit.
There are no words for this .
Everyone thank Scott for the link!
Remember those cute viking cats? They are back with another song !
It's about damn time that a city took action and made declawing a banned procedure.
Thanks to Jeff! You get a kitty no-prize!
Declawing should be a last resort procedure, not a routine one. I personally worked in a very well known animal shelter/hospital in NW DC and 60% of the cats given up were already declawed! All were given up due to secondary behavioral issues from the declaw.
Plus, would you cut the hands of your kid for drawing on the wall with a permanant marker? A cat is not a kid I know, but a cat is also a family member and you should consider it a privilage to share your life with it. If you can't think that way, I suggest you get an ant farm.
Cheech: "C'mon dude, I scored a roll of quarters off dat old lady in da laundramat, let's hit the arcade!"
Chong: "Nah man, I'm like, totally not into violence any more, man."
Cheech: "What?!? Naah... you're not killing anyone man, you're just like, venting your pent up agression because the man is keepin' you down."
Chong: "That's right man! It's, like, all the man's fault, man! Keepin' me down, takin' my stash, and, like... uh... I dunno... other stuff man!"
Cheech: "That's right dude! And so you're gonna go to da arcade with me so you can vent your pent up aggression while I go check out that hot new latina they got workin' the front counter."
Chong: "Ah man, I still can't go man. I can never figure those damn games out... they're always like, beep beep beep beep beep, man."
Cheech: "Don't worry about it dude, I was there yesterday, and, like, I found the perfect game for you!"
Damion gets a black-and-white no-prize for sending us the world's silliest cop "top 10" list. You've seen at least some of them, but, I mean, the world just can't have too much soopa-fly music, ok?
Found this article from the San Francisco Chronicle summarizing what some nanotech scientists are working towards in military tech. Comes complete with standardized "oh what hath man wrought" gloom-and-doom warnings, but no caveat, so I'll provide one: I've been following these things for, oh, probably fifteen years now. The claims of wizardry have remained the same, and the distinct lack of actual working products has remained a constant. Only the deadline keeps extending.
I support all this work, I really do, not just because it's cool but because it has the potential to put another layer of tech between us and the Bin Laden's of the world. But the gloom and doom is just annoying.
I mentioned the concrete bomb in Axioms. Because they don't blow up and cause spectacularly photogenic death, the press is obviously not giving much coverage to them. For those of you interested, here's an article that goes into a little bit more detail about them.
Always read the comments, wherein at fark I found Kopps Erotic Bakery, your #1 source for extremely strange, mostly naughty baked goods.
Warning: if photographs of baked goods shaped like giant frosted wangs and boobs would get you in trouble at work, then check this site out after you get home.
Mmmm... frosted boobs....
Cecile de Brunhoff, the inspiration for Babar, the little elephant who went on big adventures, died yesterday of a stroke at the age of 99. Babar was a staple of my family's children's books, and probably will be for my own. 99 is a good long run, and she had family around, so this is more in remebrance than in mourning.
No-prize to Jeff.
You try to hold up a bank with a trash bag. Yet another example of someone turning to a life of crime because they're too stupid to do anything else. Of course, it had to be in Arkansas, Pine Bluff no less. If they gave the street address of the bank I could probably tell you how to drive there. Not that you, anyone, would want to.
Slashdot linked up this article detailing one physicist's claim that a specially treated diamond can be used as a room temperature superconductor. He might be a crank, this is true, but certainly the implications would be worth investigating.
The United States has no stomach for casualties.
The people of the United States are so naive they insist no innocents be killed in war, and in war there are of course no innocents.
The United States can be relied on to use airpower alone, and airpower alone is easy to circumvent.
Vietnam proved that the United Stateís own citizens can be manipulated to the advantage of their adversary.
Mogadishu proved that if you hit their military hard enough, even once, the United States will fold and run.
The soldiers of the United States insist on air conditioning and television, hot coffee and cold beer. They know nothing of hardship, and are too soft to fight.
Surprise attacks, even spectacular surprise attacks, happen all over the world every day. It's been more than a year now, the people of the United States need to move on, and it just shows how decadent and weak they are that they haven't.
This is what the world believed about us. In the richly decorated halls of countless governments, in the dark hearts of temples and mosques, and in the ivory towers of academia this is what was known about us. With unflinching reassurance the lives of tens of thousands were wagered on bets made with these odds by old, mean, ignorant men.
There will be many good lessons learned from this conflict. Unfortunately because people are, well, people, there will also be many bad lessons learned. However, without a doubt these are lessons that should be learned:
The citizens of the United States do not enjoy having their soldiers come home in boxes, this is true. However, our nation's history is one steeped in the valor of sacrifice, and the religion of our founders teaches us that such sacrifice is not only good, but sometimes required for success. We understand that in war soldiers die, just as well as anyone else in the world. What we will not tolerate is the sacrifice of our soldiers for causes we do not understand, over time periods which have no clear ending, in places where we have no clear interest.
The citizens of the United States strongly believe in the concept of the blood of the innocents. We want justice, even victory, not destruction, and never slaughter. We have spent trillions of dollars over the past sixty years creating weapons so accurate that nowadays we sometimes don't even bother to attach explosives to them. A quarter-ton lump of concrete dropped from 25,000 feet has enough inertia to quite handily crush an antiaircraft battery, APC, or tank, and leave an adjacent house standing, as long as you can put that rock right down the tube of the gun. We can, and so the "concrete bomb" is a real, effective, weapon.
Vietnam did in fact prove that the US is chock-full of "useless idiots", even powerful ones, and the citizenry of America was eventually manipulated to the advantage of the enemy because of them. Such anti-war protests may have in fact resulted in the end of an unjust, badly run, and brutal conflict, but it also resulted in the barbaric treatment of young men who quite literally were given no choice but to participate.
From this distance it all looks like one long tie-dyed drug-addled rock concert, but people who lived through that time know the country came closer to tearing itself apart over Vietnam than it had since the civil war. Rightly or wrongly, this torment has been laid at the feet of those who protested, and ever since (as any modern protestor can assure you) a majority of Americans suspect protestors of at best giving aid and comfort to our enemies, at worst outright sedition. We shall not be manipulated into spitting on our own soldiers again.
Mogadishu proved several things, but none of them have anything to do about our inability to absorb a shock. It proved that the American people have no tolerance for our soldiers being killed and humiliated over an explicitly humanitarian mission. It proved that if a foreign land wishes to descend into anarchy and is willing to kill anyone trying to help them out of it, we are quite willing to let them cut open each other's babies until there are no more left.
Most importantly, it proved that if cornered Americans fight with unbelievable efficiency and lethality. What is never emphasized enough is that in Mogadishu an entire city attempted to destroy just a few units of American special forces. A few dozen men isolated and outnumbered more than 100 to 1 not just surrounded but encapsulated by enemy forces were not exterminated, not even routed, but survived as units and got out losing exactly 18 of their own. Nobody even bothered to count how many of Mogadishu's citizens bled their last into those city streets that day, but rest assured the city's dogs were well fed long after.
American forces are no stranger to adversity, and can accept deprivation that at times surprises even themselves. "All the comforts of not-quite-home" does not represent decadence, it represents efficiency. "Amateurs study tactics, professionals study logistics" is never more true than in the way we support our wars. We give our soldiers the occasional creature comfort not because they cannot fight without them, but because it costs the war effort nothing to provide them. America has at least since the civil war been an absolute master at logistics. We do not out maneuver, out think, or out fight our foes, we out manage them. In WWII the Japanese could either build bases or build airplanes, but not both, while we had so much gasoline available we were washing our airplanes in it to get an extra 10 miles per hour in the air. We've only gotten better at it since then.
Finally, no one has the right to tell anyone else how long they must mourn. Only the egregiously arrogant or the hopelessly ignorant would ever even dare the attempt. The United States has been surprised, attacked, and defeated on its own soil only twice in the past two hundred years. We are not, cannot, and will not get used to it.
Want to know how long 9-11 will be on this nation's mind? We brought the world to the brink of nuclear war because of our paranoia over surprise attack, more than twenty years after Pearl Harbor happened. Mine is perhaps the last generation to hear adults talk frequently about the shock and implications of December 7th, and at that point it was thirty-five years in the past. The west in general has a very, very long memory for such events. To this day a trumpet is cut off mid note on a tower in a church in Krakow, Poland, a symbolic memorial commemorating the alarm for an invasion that ocurred seven centuries ago.
We are not dictators. We have no wish for empire. The constant bleating from far corners otherwise merely shows the blinkered ignorance of people quite patently being manipulated by forces far beyond their understanding or control.
In 174 B.C. the King of Syria, Antiochus Epiphanes, invaded Egypt, threatening the stability of the region and a supply of grain Rome was becoming increasingly reliant on. Instead of sending legions to destroy both him and his country, Rome instead sent a single man, Gaius Popillius Laenas, as a representative of the Senate. Meeting the king near Alexandria, Laenas presented him with an official decree, demanding his immediate withdrawl from Egypt. Antiochus asked for time so he could consider. Laenas agreed, but used his staff to draw a circle in the sand around the king, and told him he must give an answer before he stepped out of it.
Antiochusís response, and the consequences to him because of it, was most instructive.
Western representational governments are tacky, messy, and inefficient. Almost everyone with an advanced sociology degree knows either privately or publicly that various forms of social control must be exercised to ensure the fair and equitable distribution of resources. Because this tends to be politically unpopular, such controls must be excersised by beauracrats shielded from the political process.
Of course, this completely ignores the problem that sometimes beauracracies need to be told that, for example, harpooning and "harvesting" whales is, well, bad for a country who's huge tourist economy is driven at least partially by whale watchers.
I don't care what you think about whales, or the environment, or tourism. I want you to note that, were it not for Iceland's free media and elected government, you really would be seeing a country destroying its own economy on the whim of pigheaded nationalistic scientists who just want to poke the international community in the eye, consequences bedamned.
CarsinBarns.com showcases the ultimate end of far too many interesting cars... the junk yard or the barn. Nowadays pretty much every muscle car built before 1974 is worth restoring, so interest in basket cases his high. Unfortunately the people who own these wrecks know this, and most don't seem to be available for sale to people who'd fix them up. Of course, knowing the "skillz" of some of these "restorers", maybe that's not a bad thing.
No Alfas of course, because 1) there weren't that many to begin with and 2) if you leave an Alfa in the weather for more than a decade it will simply dissolve into the ground.
Spaceflightnow is carrying these cool new pictures of a dunescape on Mars. Kinda looks like snake scales to me.
Yeah, he's obnoxious, and almost certainly single, but this guy's take on the "26 things a 'perfect' guy should do definitely gave me a chuckle. When Ellen wasn't around, of course. ;)
While reading up on the middle ages, I was surprised to learn that one of the leading causes of child mortality in that era was pig attacks. Looking at this half-ton brute, I can see why.
Yes, I know, pigs didn't get anywhere near this big a thousand years ago. But neither did people!
Slashdot squished the original out of existence, but thanks to clever folks we have a mirror that teaches you how to make a model of the USS Enterprise out of a 3.5" floppy. As far as I'm concerned, that's about all they're good for nowadays.
28 weeks, wow. It's not happening fast enough. No really, it's not. I'm done being pregnant.
I'm having difficulties with my back now. To the point that sitting down is uncomfortable. If I have my feet up, I'm doing well, but if they are on the floor, I start to ache. The same goes for standing. I can't stand for long periods of time either.
Scott made fun of me the other day, and was promptly beaten with a television remote when I attempted to get off the couch and turn to hear: BEEP, BEEP, BEEP!!! Though, I must admit I couldn't help myself but laugh at it. It did take quite the effort to get my ass off the couch without risking an abdominal hernia.
The scary thing is that I have 12 more weeks to go.
I was lying on the floor the other night, because my back hurt so bad, (YES! I was a horrible pregnant girl! I was laying on my BACK! *GASP!!!!!* Apparently a big NO NO in pregnancy) and Scott manages to say to me that I look big, but the odd thing is that I am going to get bigger.
Dear god! For ONCE he is right! I could not help but look down and my belly and think how could it possibly GET bigger? I mean, it's hard as a rock and you can totally thump it like a ripe melon. *THOOOMP!* Scott also scolds me that I stare at my stomach every time it moves. How can you not? It's totally fascinating!
I'm supposed to gain 11 pounds in the next 12 weeks. 11 pounds?!? That's a lot. I don't feel like I could possibly get bigger!!!!! I mean, this baby is already 14 inches long and almost 3 pounds. I'm going to have to go into hiding soon.
Pretty soon I will have to venture out to my dr's office twice per month to say hello and that I'm still alive. Scott and I have yet to take the hospital tour. (I did look at it on the net? Does that count? A virtual tour?)
I did manage to finally get my glucose tolerance test done this past week. After being sent to 2 different labs and one chick telling me the week before she simply did not have time to do my test cause she had to leave early.
With the glucose test you essesntially waste 2 hours of your time, and get stuck with a 20 gague needle twice. It's alot of blood they take too. 3cc at a time, 3 tubes total. It may not seem like alot of blood, but for a glucose? Couldn't I just drink 2 sodas and use a glucometer?
Hopefully I'm done with tests. I do know that I have to get my RH injection next dr's vist on the 16th.
An aside: Some of the comments I'm getting, just by feel, are along the lines of "oh. my. god. Could you whine any more? Don't you know this is magic?!?"
I would submit that any woman out there who feels this way needs to lift up her rose colored glasses a little and remember. Scott says one of the things he is struck by most is how women in the late stages of their second or third pregnancy always say "oh my god, why did I do this again?!?" Yes, it's magic when you get her to giggle for you the first time, or know you're supporting another life, or watch them transform from a wobbly lump into an entire person.
But I think most of you have forgotten just how much goddamned work this home stretch is. They don't giggle right now, they thump. They stomp on your bladder, and they kick vertebra out of your spine like nickles in a stack.
What I'm saying is you should be taking this not as whining, but as a cautionary tale. The vast, and I mean vast, majority of you felt like this at this stage, but have forgotten. The next time you feel all squiffy about how little Jane or John isn't so little anymore and wouldn't it be grand to have another baby because it wasn't really that bad should read this and remember. I'm sure it's all worth it in the end (it better be), but right now it sucks.
12 weeks to go, and this roller coaster ride just keeps getting longer.
A guide to Star Wars Bloopers.
Over 200 to look at!
Slashdot featured this article summarizing the latest developments in one man's attempt to launch himself into space with his own craft. Looks like they're going to do a drop-test on his capsule soon, to make sure the parachute system in it works as advertised. What I want to know is why they don't put some ballast in it and fly it in remotely. Seems like a lot less risk than doing it yourself.
What's remarkable about this New York Times report about technology and training in the US armed forces isn't the dystopian bleatings about soldiers mistaking video games for real life (a question so preposterous only a journalist would think of it. HINT: real combat is when people are shooting at you), it's the fact the army guys are acknowledging the influence of one of my all-time favorite SF books, Ender's Game, on their thinking. Yet another reason to go back and re-read it. :)
The "infamous" haircut bandit, whom I had never heard of until just now, apparently has been caught and sentenced to 8 years in prison for sneaking up on women with long hair and cutting it off with scissors. Apparently he had suffered from some personal setbacks, turned to cocaine, then decided hair was, well, the answer. Just when you thought humanity couldn't get any weirder...
My mom served on the city council of our home town and was always complaining about the doofus mayor and his "if you tell us to sh*t we'll just want to know what color" councilmen cronies. Well, hard to believe I know, but there are worse things:
Former mayoral candidate Paul Tay has been arrested again. Tay has been a lightning rod for controversy lately for riding his bicycle around Tulsa with a giant, inflated penis on the back. Tulsa Police can't arrest him for that because of freedom of speech issues.
I've been to Tulsa several times. Not exactly a bike-friendly place, although the inflated penis must make him a bit easier to see.
The Hubble telescope does it again by bringing us these spectacular photos of a mysterious and bizzare star suddenly increasing it's brightness 600,000 times. Just when you thought the universe didn't get any weirder...
Space.com is carrying this article describing how at least one physicist thinks it just might be possible to survive the journey into a black hole and reach the singularity. The trick, it seems, is to find the right kind.
Damion gets a patented no-prize for bringing Totallyabsurd.com to our attention. A collection of the weirdest actual patents ever assigned, it really shows you just how bad it can get when creative people have too much time on their hands. Not to be missed:
I guess it just goes to show that idea you had yesterday wasn't nearly as dumb as you thought it might be.
Yet another guy blogging from the front brings us this cautionary tale of why it's never a good idea to leave expensive camera equipment where curious GI's can get to it. Especially if the owner of the camera works for a major media outlet and likes to take... interesting... pictures.
It has been brought to my attention that a significant number of our readers are too young to actually know who Cheech and Chong are. Notwithstanding this revelation wanting me to threaten you youngsters with my cane, I have decided to do give you a proper pop-culture education.
Well, ok, I won't, but they will. Suffice to say Cheech & Chong were/are the ultimate stoner comedy act from the 70s and 80s. They had a number of successful albums, tours, and a few (mostly so-stupid-they're-funny) movies. I've been told that you youngsters will relate to this: "they're kind of an old-school Jay & Silent Bob."
The "sound effects" in the post are tokes people, not a stage act playing with props!
Chong: "Hey man, like," sssswwwwp "move over man, I can't see the beach."
Cheech: "Heh... this is pretty cool man. All these chicks," fffwwwwwp "all the college doods drunk off their ass."
Chong: "Yeah man, and you know what's even better?" ssssssswp
Cheech: "No dude, what?"
Chong: "Yeah man, that'd be, like, so awesome."
Cheech: "Whatever man. Oh shit dude! Check it out! We're down to our last joint!"
Chong: "Yeah, man, sorry about that, forgot to tell you, some chicks in bikinis came by and, like, wanted some. Or something."
Cheech: "You mean you gave them our entire stash?!? What's wrong with you dude?!?"
Chong: "Chill out man, I got it all figured out."
"Top class information on aliens, mind control, etc." is what Meta Tech promises, and boy does it deliver. Where else can you:
Learn how YOU can stop military & alien abduction, and radionic attack! Plus learn the kinesiology Wernicke's Correction
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Actually, this might be a huge prank site, but if it is it's very well done. You be the judge.
You knew it was bound to happen some day, so go ahead [Joanie :) ], find out which online test you are
Note: If a picture of an ugly white guy flipping the bird at you would be considered not safe for work, well, then this site isn't. Otherwise enjoy!
Proof that at least a little of the Soviet beauracracy is still alive, we have this story of a man trying to prove he is not dead. Actually, I remember this sort of stuff happening all the time when I was a kid as the IRS and Social Security offices began to rely more heavily on computers. Still, how much would you Python fans give to walk up to a judge and yell, "I'm not dead yet!"
Always always always remember folks, just because it appears in the newspaper doesn't make it true.
This is why it's such a good idea to get your news from as many places as possible, so you can have at least a chance of filtering the dreck and getting what might be close to a picture of what is actually going on.
For the Renfest (renfair?) friend in your life, we found this guide to making your own meade over at kuro5hin. I always got the impression that mead was kind of a thick drink, but never actually having tried the stuff, I have no idea. I wonder if Total Beverage has any...
The New Scientist has this report on a biomechanical model of large dinosaurs (T. Rex in particular). According to this model, T. Rex could at best have managed a quick walk. However, the large herbivores it chased weren't any faster, so perhaps it was all a tango in slow motion.
This is probably old hat to most veteran bloggers out there, but Lileks's Gallery of Regrettable Foods was new to me. In it you will find all the weird and extremely un-wonderful recipies from days of yore. It's no wonder my grandparents were not known for their grilling abilities...
Oh sit down mom, it's a joke. I mean, who else in the world could cause a chromium-plated grill grate to rust by cleaning it so much?
Speaking of oldies but goodies, this secret diary of a deer hunter goes back to at least 1981, when I and a few of my friends re-typed it out of the old Arkansas Gazette and submitted it to our Junior High newspaper. Nina should make sure Billy reads it, if he hasn't seen it already. Still gives me a good chuckle.
It takes a little while to really build up steam, but this is definitely one of the funniest dog stories I've read in a long time.
CNN, via Reuters apparently, is carrying this summary of the first direct observation of an event that has puzzled astronomers for decades... a gamma ray burst. This one, at least, seems to have been triggered by the death of a star and the creation of a black hole. Didn't mention how far away it was.
My girl's favorite deep see critter, the giant squid, has apparently been eclipsed by the recent discovery of a whole "colossal squid" off the coast of New Zealand. Something that can f- with sperm whales is not something I'm particularly interested in coming across when I'm out fishing. Unless I happen to be in, like, an aircraft carrier or something.
Because they do things like this:
Authorities are investigating whether to press charges after a 15-year-old patient at University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children's Hospital sought out an escort service for sex during his hospital stay this week, according to the Ann Arbor News.
Well, it's not like he picked up a street walker or anything.
One of the problems with being a lifelong student of military history is you start assuming everyone knows things that very few people actually do. There have been many times in the past few weeks where I've shouted "DUR!!!" at the TV only to be confronted with a quizzical look from my wife. So, apologies if this all seems a bit too obvious to you, or a gross oversimplification. I'm just trying to make sure we're all working from the same page.
One of the primary, even historic, strengths of the United States military is its reliance on air power. At times we've relied on it too much, and certainly its advocates can be a bit strident. Airpower's popularity took a nosedive after Vietnam, when it became obvious that no amount of bombing could overcome really stupid leadership, but re-thinking strategy and tactics, as well as improved technology and leadership, have brought it back to the fore.
One advantage of airpower is the comparative immunity to interception it provides. In spite of common perception, it's actually extremely difficult to shoot down a modern combat aircraft. What's more, to ensure expensive airplanes and even more expensive pilots are not shot down the first move in any modern battle is to disassemble the other guy's air defenses. Once the sophisticated computer controlled systems are eliminated, aircraft become effectively immune to interception.
Oh, it's still possible to knock them down, especially if the air guys are being stupid (that's what got that stealth fighter shot down over Yugoslavia, not some super-secret development), and there's always just plain dumb luck. Unfortunately you can't rely on stupidity and luck to destroy an entire air force. Once the anti-air system has been brought down, tactically and strategically an air force as a whole becomes unstoppable.
The next advantage is freedom of movement. It's one of those things that is so obvious it's never really examined, but aircraft are fast. It can take hours to move up heavy artillery or big horking battleships within range of a target, while an aircraft can be within range in a matter of minutes. Freedom of movement, and the ability to move rapidly, is a monstrous advantage on a battlefield.
The kind of ordinance (fancy word for "stuff that blows up") an aircraft can put on a target is generally orders of magnitude larger than any other platform available, and this ordinance can be delivered at any point on a battlefield, even far behind the lines. A 2000-pound general-purpose bomb is just a fantastically powerful weapon, quite capable of completely gutting a large office building all by itself. And that's just the biggest general weapon most aircraft can carry. We have a specialized weapon for just about any purpose, and (so far) they all seem to work as advertised.
The traditional weakness of airpower, its lack of precision, seems to have been solved in the past decade. The GPS bomb in particular seems to be a favorite weapon for both close air support and strategic attack. Precision is important not only because it keeps civilian casualties* to a minimum, but because it maximizes efficiency. In WWII, it took 10,000 men in 1000 bombers dropping 8000 bombs to partially disable a single factory. Today that factory can be destroyed by one guy with one bomb.
It's important not to lose sight of the fact that airpower is not an end in and of itself. This was a very hard lesson for the US armed forces to learn, one that has had to periodically be re-learned as time goes by. Airpower, like pretty much every other advanced form of weaponry, is ultimately a support tool for the infantry. The whole point is to make the ground force's job as easy as possible. When used correctly, airpower does this very, very well.
Every ground unit on a battlefield is amazingly vulnerable to attack from above. If guided with precision (and our weapons are nothing if not precise), there is literally no mobile ground unit available today that can withstand even a medium-sized (500-pound) direct hit. They are simply blown to pieces by such things, and again once the air defenses are destroyed there's nothing they can do to defend themselves against such an attack. On a battlefield in which your enemy has achieved air superiority if you move, you die. The problem is you must move in order to fight. Which is why even the fastest armored division is utterly helpless if the other side has free use of the skies.
For a long time the answer was to dig a very very deep hole, crawl in, and pull the door shut behind you. Wait until the invaders got close and then pin them down with whatever you have. Positioned correctly a fortress could be nearly impossible to hit even from the air with unguided munitions, and so the invaders would have to do it the hard way by throwing as many people into your meat grinder as possible in the hopes that someone would get close enough to take you out. If you were smart, you'd have dozens of emplacements like this, making them do it over and over again. Sometimes the other side would stop because there just weren't enough soldiers left alive to continue.
With the development of modern precision guided munitions this doesn't work very well either. Using a slick combination of GPS receivers, radios, and laser designators, a single GI can transmit the exact co-ordinates of your bunker's location to a bomber circling as much as five or six miles overhead. The targeting is so exact that a bomb can literally be put through the gun slot of your bunker, and suddenly your comfy hidey-hole is merely a very short, very noisy ticket to the front of the reincarnation line.
So now you can't move to confront the enemy, and you can't hide in a place he'll have to move past. Even if you set up a temporary ambush you only have a matter of minutes before the sky simply falls on you. And, to repeat, there's nothing, nothing at all, you can do about it.
The only real solution is to take off your uniform and hide in amongst the civilians in the hopes you can start a guerilla campaign against the bad guy's supply lines. If you're lucky, the bad guy is stupid and starts setting villagers on fire in the hopes he'll get the rest of you. In cases like this the villagers will give you food and protection and replacements just to spite the Yankee invader.
If you're unlucky the invaders start setting up their own villages with running water, free cattle, and a plot of land for every peasant able to walk across the lines. If you're really unlucky the guy you work for has made himself extremely unpopular with these villagers already. In such cases the invaders don't even have to do anything special because the traitorous, ignorant, weak, and foolish peasants will turn your ass in faster than you can say "Allah Ahkbar." The last thing you'll notice right before the 500 pound GPS bomb hits will be how there suddenly aren't any peasants around anymore.
What I'm hoping you all take away from this is the understanding that if you hear of an ominous concentration of enemy troops moving toward the front you should be ecstatic, not worried. A large concentration of bad guys on the move is a huge target, not a threat. When you hear about a known concentration of enemy forces dug deep in fortifications you should take heart, because such a concentration is even easier to destroy than guys on the move. The only cause for even a modicum of concern is when the bad guys start trying to melt into the general population. And airpower, combined with the land forces they support, makes it all possible.
What you watch for then is how patient our guys are. The Iraqis have no love for us, because we are invading their country. Never, never lose sight of this fact. It doesn't matter if we're there to "liberate" them... we're big, scary, weird looking, and in their front yard. Only by being patient, by removing the bastards with the sniper rifles and the mortars without killing anyone else will they decide we are the lesser of two evils. When that happens they'll do our work for us, because unlike us they know Achmed's kid Achmad is no damned good and has been playing with some awfully smelly stuff in his basement lately. It is only with the villagers' help that we'll transform a successful suicide bombing into a dumb kid sitting in a cell.
Found this article detailing the Brazilian breast implant business. Turns out the US uses most of them, but the European market is where the really big ones go.
The post carried an update on this today as well, but The Houston Chronicle has better coverage. Seems like the foam theory is holding up, and the primary suspect is a "carrier panel", a funny-shaped piece of metal just behind the carbon-carbon panels on the leading edge.
No-prize to Jeff! :)
BBCnews is carrying this summary of new genetic findings about our origins. As the "out of Africa" theory has predicted, the oldest populations of modern humans seem to be centered in east Africa. However, there's still a lot of research to be done.
Such a shame K is out in her horrid blue shirt today, because we have hit the motherload of facts on one of her favorite subjects. Ellen's only a little ways behind her in scatalogical interest, so she should be happy too.
Of course, I didn't read the whole thing from end-to-end in one, heh, sitting. Nope, not me.
Warning! Not for the faint of heart or humor-impaired, Morticia's Playhouse is definitely an... experience. Funny in a kind of pulp-fiction sort of way, with plenty of the toilet humor you've come to love and expect from AMCGTLD!
Looks like at least one right-winger is literally trying to get people who don't like this country to leave. One way ticket to anywhere else comin' right up...
Ok, the 8-bit graphics make it look kind of weird, but swear to god 8-bit D&D is almost exactly the way I spent far too many Friday nights when I was in college. Except there were usually 7-10 guys instead of just 3-4. No surprise most of the games started at 6 pm and didn't wind up until 2 am. And those were the fast ones.
I always wondered why chicks didn't want to hang out with us. Now I understand all too well.
First squirrel fishing, now chicken fishing. Farmers have too much time on their hands in the off-season.
Meryl has distilled all the Capt. Steven letters into this convenient page, along with a very brief bio. Thanks Meryl! :)
Looks like the latest fashion trend is no fashion at all. Nothing but a tatoo on yer ass. France right now, but you know it'll only be a few days before this starts showing up in the Peoples Republic of Berkely.
BBCnews is carrying this update on the Columbia investigation. Looks like the data recorder they recovered is providing valuable information. The initial read indicates the problem was there before they re-entered the atmosphere.
Update: Slashdot featured this article from starryskies which goes into more depth about on-the-ground discoveries regarding the carbon-carbon leading edge material.
Oh the story is a really lame thing about wacks mailing marines a little "prayer guide", but what I think is funny is the headline:
US soldiers in Iraq asked to pray for Bush
Heheheheheheheheheheheh... you said bush... heheheheheheheheheh!
Succotash flavored ice-cream, anyone? What the hell does succotash taste like anyway?
The diet industry has certainly come a long way, as evidenced by this collection of Weight Watcher "diet recipie cards" from 1974 will show. Not to be missed: Mackarel Pudding. No, that's not a typo. Also watch the titles of each card's web page.
I wonder if my mom had to go through any of these...