January 31, 2004
Guzzling Beer Helps Rats Stay Cancer-Free

Drinking beer or eating certain components found in the beverage seems to protect against colon cancer in rats, new research shows. Whether this holds true in humans, however, remains to be determined.

Read entire article here.

God help me if this is true in people! There will be a keg of beer under one of my counters with a permanant tap comming out of it. Scott is the only person I know that when he comes in from a bike ride, drinks a beer.

Posted by Ellen at 04:19 PM | Comments (4)
Garrison Update

Well we got the fructosamine results back! Garrison's fructosamine is above 700. 722 for that matter. The highest we have seen at our cat hospital.

Normally a well maintained diabetic's fructosamine should be below 400.

For those of you who don't know what fructosamine is, read the following:

Fructosamines are serum proteins (albumin and others) that have undergone nonenzymatic, insulin-independent glycosylation. Serum fructosamine concentration is proportional to the blood glucose concentration over the lifespan of the glycated protein being measured. The lifespan of albumin in dogs (and presumably in cats) is 1-2 weeks. Thus, the serum fructosamine concentration should reflect the mean blood glucose concentration over the preceding 7-10 days.

Determining fructosamine concentrations cannot obviate the need for blood glucose curves, which remain the best way to monitor diabetic animals, especially at the beginning of treatment when choosing the correct type of insulin and optimal dosing schedules. Once glycemic control is obtained, fructosamine levels can be used together with clinical signs for further monitoring. If the fructosamine level is elevated, a blood glucose curve should be performed to determine the necessary changes.

Garrison started on his insulin last night for the first time. Humulin-L to be exact. 1 unit twice per day to start. Now Amber and I have to have a glucose curve party in a week. :)

Thanks to Antech Diagnostics for all the great labwork they do for animals!

Posted by Ellen at 11:25 AM | Comments (5)
Second NASA Rover Rolls Onto Mars Surface

Opportunity rolled off its lander and onto the rusty soil of Mars early Saturday, a week after the six-wheeled rover arrived on the Red Planet — and just hours after confirmation of its first major geologic discovery.

Opportunity took 83 seconds to cover the 10 feet to the dark floor of the 72-foot-wide crater where it landed.

Read entire article here.

Posted by Ellen at 10:52 AM | Comments (0)
Doctors Hope to Aid Dominican Baby with Rare Defect

MIAMI (Reuters) - An international team of doctors hopes to operate in the Dominican Republic next month to remove an undeveloped second head from a baby girl born with one of the world's rarest birth defects, caused when a conjoined twin fails to develop in the womb.

Read entire article here.

With picture

Posted by Ellen at 10:00 AM | Comments (0)
When Photoshop Attacks

Why waste time on a face when you can find numbers just lying around on rocks:

The truth has turned out to be almost as terrifying with the discovery of the number "19" clearly etched into a Martian rock, and captured by the fearless Spirit rover:

Now where's my foil hat...

Posted by scott at 08:40 AM | Comments (2)
January 30, 2004
Nearly All U.S. Vet Schools Cited For Welfare Violations

The Association of Veterinarians for Animal Rights (AVAR), a national organization of veterinarians, veterinary medical students and technicians, has obtained inspection reports showing that the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) cited nearly every U.S. veterinary medical school for non-compliance with the federal Animal Welfare Act.

Some were cited for lack of personnel training and identification of animals, multiple potentially painful procedures, and missing information regarding anesthesia and methods used to kill animals.

The Washington State University College of Veterinary Medicine and the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine both have eliminated terminal surgeries in core courses.

Read entire article here.
Posted by Ellen at 08:52 PM | Comments (0)
CWSI Opposes Mass Cat-Poisoning

The Cat Welfare Society of Israel is calling on cat lovers everywhere to support them in their legal battle to halt a massive cat-poisoning campaign in Israel.

In reality, Tardemon causes cats, or any other animals who eat it, to die slowly and in extreme pain. The ordeal may last from a few hours up to a few days.

Sadly, there is still no public budget available for cat welfare in Israel. Cat lovers there frequently express frustration at the lack of sensitivity to cat suffering displayed by officialdom, and the absence of government-supported spay/neuter/vaccination programs.

American donors can make tax-deductible contributions. To be tax-deductible, donations should be over $35 U.S. and made through PEF Israel Endowment Funds (www.pefisrael.org) in New York.

Read entire article here.
Posted by Ellen at 08:48 PM | Comments (1)
Feline Advisory Bureau Releases 'Cat Personality Report'

The UK's Feline Advisory Bureau (FAB) has produced a 'cat personality report' entitled 'Up Close and Purrsonal,' based on a survey of 1,853 British cat guardians and cat breeders.

The survey's findings included the discovery that almost half the cats hate car travel, although 16% reportedly enjoy it, and 10% have never been in a car.

See entire article here.

Posted by Ellen at 08:43 PM | Comments (0)
Remember, It's 10%, then Add Back Half

Joshua gets a no-prize on a platter for bringing us bitterwaitress.com, an entertaining clearinghouse for gossip, rumor, stories, and news in the wide wonderful world of waiting tables. Is any of it true? Who knows? But it sure is entertaining!

Posted by scott at 02:14 PM | Comments (1)
Chaos and Normalcy

Instapundit linked up this article talking about what the author, at least, thinks are signs Iraq is in fact progressing nicely:

The Iraqis are now free to debate all aspects of their individual and national life. The fact that different, often conflicting views are now expressed without fear should be seen as a positive achievement of the liberation. Democracy includes the freedom to demonstrate, especially against those in charge, and to “tear each other apart” in the media and town-hall political debates. It also includes the difficulty of reaching a consensus on major issues. Those who follow Iraqi politics would know that Iraq today is the only Arab country where all shades of opinion are now free to express themselves and to compete for influence and power in a free market of ideas.

Posted by scott at 01:11 PM | Comments (0)
Best. Video. Ever.

Silflay lead us to Warriors of the Net, which has to be one of the best illustrations of how TCP networks function. Sounds boring? Well, like Bigwig said he had to promise his daughter he'd let her watch it again tonight before she'd go to bed last night.

Posted by scott at 11:38 AM | Comments (0)

Nina gets a very pretty no-prize for bringing us this site full of before makeup/after makeup photos of celebrities. Some of them aren't quite as honest as they appear... a few shots are from movies an actor was simply made up in a different, less attractive way. Others are bang-on. I especially like the one of Howard Stern. He's so pretty. :)

Posted by scott at 09:49 AM | Comments (0)
More than Meets the Eye

My brother is trying really hard to get his son into Pontiacs. Unfortunately, his job just got a lot harder.

I can already hear Damion's gears turning. Can a Honda Decepticon be far behind?

Posted by scott at 09:11 AM | Comments (2)
More Fire Stories

Ellen and I actually had something similar to this happen to us:

Once the couch was extinguished, [Fire Prevention Officer] Gibson reached into a hole burnt into the sofa and found a glass gazing ball. Soon, sunlight shining through the ball burned two holes in the leg of his pants.

In our case Ellen had a very impressive crystal ball (well, it's probably glass, but still) sitting on the windowsill of our west-facing apartment. All through the first summer we lived there we were constantly bothered by the smell of smoke. We figured it was just the neighbors smoking. It was only after we'd bought a bookshelf and moved the books stacked next to the ball that we learned the truth. One book near the ball had a fingernail-sized hole burned nearly through it, and another's spine had been completely destroyed, a hole burned in nearly the size of a golf ball.

We moved the thing to the other side of the room on top of a video tape cabinet. Later that year Ajax the cat tried to jump to the top of that, knocking the ball off and nearly braining my sister-in-law who was sleeping on our floor that night*. We just put it away after that.

Posted by scott at 09:04 AM | Comments (0)
Rube Goldberg to the Rescue!

This story about a school fire and how it was put out reminds me a lot of getting a touchdown because a linebacker fell on a football dropped by his quarterback... not something you want to do regularly, but you'll take it:

Trinity Lone Oak Lutheran School teacher Linda Krienke says fire broke out on a desktop in her classroom around 1 a.m. Saturday, causing enough smoke to set off the school's alarm. But when firefighters arrived, they found only glowing embers on the desk.

The heat had caused a fish bowl on the desk to explode, and the water put out the fire, Krienke said.

Fish is fine, by the way. Go him!

Posted by scott at 08:56 AM | Comments (0)
January 29, 2004
Garrison Update

Garrison may be diabetic. Thats what the bloodwork says.

He has a glucose level of 464 mg/dl. The normal is below 200. Stressed.

Of course his CBC is beautiful and does not indicate cancer at this point in time.

So now I'm stuck waiting for a fructosamine sample to come back. Sunday, Amber invited us over for football and a 'pee-party', so I can get a sterile urine sample on him to run at work on monday.


Posted by Ellen at 08:53 PM | Comments (3)
Artefact recalls witches' shadow

The "witch bottle" was discovered buried in old foundations in the Lincolnshire village of Navenby.

Dated to about 1830, it is evidence the fear of dark forces persisted far longer than previously thought.

"Even if you did not know who the witch was, you would make one of these and sit back to see who died, then that person was the witch."

Read entire article here.

Posted by Ellen at 08:47 PM | Comments (0)
Whale explodes in Taiwanese city

A dead sperm whale has exploded while being delivered to a research centre near the southwestern city of Tainan.

Passers-by and cars were soaked in blood and body parts were sprayed over a road after the bursting of the whale, which was being carried on a trailer.

Read entire article here.

This blood and other stuff that blew out on the road is disgusting, and the smell is really awful .

Posted by Ellen at 08:35 PM | Comments (0)
Rationale, Pt 2

While I have already stated my overall reasons for supporting the war in Iraq, the questions "why now? Why the rush? Why not more time for inspections? Why not more time for negotiation?" are legitimate ones. A few more months, even a year, would have made little difference. Why not wait?

In all this debate, not once have I seen simple logistics mentioned. As the aphorism goes, "amateurs study strategy, professionals study logistics." In my opinion, looking at the logistics and circumstances of the lead-up to this conflict provides the ultimate answer not to "why?" (which we addressed in part 1), but rather, "why now?"

It was widely speculated in the media that one of the strategic purposes of the governments who apposed the war was to delay action long enough for summer to start. This is a very valid point. If the jump-off point was pushed from March to, perhaps, July, the average high temperature would've spiked from 66F to 108F (citation), making the weather at least as dangerous as the Iraqis themselves. Had the international community gotten its wish and been given an extra three months, they would have effectively been given an additional four months as the brain-frying summer heat passed by.

This additional four months would have, of course, been spent with troops gathered inside countries who held no particular love for them. The opportunities for terrorism would have been many. Armies are similar in some respects to athletic teams... motivation over long periods of inactivity is challenging to say the least. The sword that was sharp in March might have been far duller in November. The political cost of having reserves and national guard units sitting thousands of miles from families and jobs while doing literally nothing goes without saying. The fiscal and logistical price of moving them home then moving them back would have been prohibitive.

Well, if a few months were impractical, why not a whole year? The problem then is not logistical, but political. Waiting until March 2004 would have put the operation in the heart of the election season, providing the opposition a titanic stick with which to beat the current administration. Most everyone should remember the "wag the dog" debacle Clinton went through when he attacked Baghdad in '98 (on the eve of his impeachment vote), and those were just cruise missiles (citation). Our government moves slowly in the best of times. In an election year it moves not at all.

So delaying the war even three months would have effectively delayed it at least two full years while the national elections passed and the dust settled. Two years of international pressure to not only delay a war, but remove sanctions completely. Two years of costly, dangerous enforcement of no-fly zones at the full expense of US taxpayers. Two years with an election in the middle that may have installed a different administration, one that would perhaps have allowed the sanctions to lapse or be removed. Two years of potential gestation before the real nightmare began.

Had Osama's operation gone off a year earlier, I do not doubt we would have given the international community their year. Whichever president ended up in the White House would've been able to do that. Unfortunately it didn’t. In my opinion once Afghanistan was targeted first and Iraq second, the only way the timetable could work was for an invasion to be started in March of 2003 at the latest. It wasn't a comfortable clock, and its gears may have been made of knives, but our discomfort with it did not stop its ticking.

In my opinion, this is the reason the governments of France, Germany, and Russia decided to risk outright rupture with the United States and pushed so hard to delay the campaign. A delay of only three months, a reasonable request among gentlemen concerning such a barbaric but effectively de-fanged little brown man, had the very real potential of scuttling the entire project, perhaps forever. The oil money promised to them in construction contracts, defense purchases, and outright graft would've flowed freely, and it would've been a fine party indeed. Right up to the point of apocalypse.

It's quite true that our forces probably could've gone in the height of summer and won anyway. An inverted Odessa campaign wouldn't have resulted in a blast-furnace Stalingrad. Certainly the Iraqis would have been fighting under the same, if not worse, conditions. But I wonder how the fierce detractors of the conflict would have reacted had even a single US or UK soldier died of heat stroke simply because they wanted the international community to like us.

The sad thing is, I doubt they would have reacted at all.

Posted by scott at 03:30 PM | Comments (7)
So that's What the Other Shoe Dropping Sounds Like

First the BBC melts down when it's revealed its "unbiased" reporting isn't, and now we have this:

Documents from Saddam Hussein's oil ministry reveal he used oil to bribe top French officials into opposing the imminent U.S.-led invasion of Iraq.

Oh yeah, it's such a tragic thing we ran roughshod over the UN and our "allies." And of course when such a storied and unbiased institution as the BBC starts running pieces calling our leaders's motivation into question it must be true.

Now tell me again about our empire...

Jeff gets his 2nd no-prize of the day for bringing the UPI story to our attention.

Posted by scott at 12:24 PM | Comments (0)
That's Definitely One Way of Looking at It

David Bernstein asks the very valid question: for the left, what's not to love about George Bush?:

Huge increases in spending on education and other domestic programs that are not even within the federal government's constitutional purview; a new prescription drug entitlement for the elderly; Wilsonian rhetoric and actions in foreign policy; Kennedyesque manned space mission boondoggles; clumsy protectionism; in its appointments to high-level positions, the most affirmative-action conscious administration in American history; a proposal to legalize the status of illegal aliens; and now, a huge proposed increase in funding for the National Endowment for the Arts. Remind me again of why liberals are so hostile to George Bush? Give him a phony Haavaad accent instead of phony Texas twang, a wonky college life, a less religious persona, and an attorney general other than John Ashcroft, and George Bush, in theory, would be a dream president for many liberals, judging by their ex ante policy preferences. [italics original]

I'm sure our peanut gallery will have something piquant to say. I just hope they back it up with references.

Update: Even more reflections on this theme are here, this time including very insightful comments about why hard-right conservatives were driven so bananas by Clinton.

Posted by scott at 12:02 PM | Comments (0)
Time to Start Saving Pennies

First Cannon comes out with a relatively low-budget digital SLR, now it's Nikon's turn. We're very interested in this one, as all of Ellen's camera equipment is Nikon. Hmm... if we re-sell the N-65 body...

Posted by scott at 10:41 AM | Comments (0)
Your Fine Engineering is No Match for My Ego!

Joshua gets a no-prize with a people's choice award grafted into the middle of it for bringing us the worst case-mod ever. Reminds me a lot of the kid who wanted to trade in a brand-new Dodge Neon RT4 (cheap, fast) his parents gave him for a ten-year-old Supra because he thought Supras were cool. Or the people who think it's fun to put a Chevy drivetrain into an Alfa.

Hot-rodding is just fine, but it also has its place.

Posted by scott at 09:18 AM | Comments (4)
Brings a Whole New Meaning to "Roll Your Own"

Jeff gets a saw-toothed no-prize for bringing us this discussion about a guy making his own clutch. He's using, wait for it... a circular saw blade.

Yeah, I'd put a scatter shield on it too. Sounds like a clever hand-grenade to me.

Posted by scott at 08:06 AM | Comments (0)
January 28, 2004

What do you do when you have to tell your friend that her cat may be really ill?

How does it look when you try to remain professional yet not bawl your eyes out because you have known this cat for several years and something may be really wrong with him?

Tomorrow we find out whats going on. Tomorrow we get to see why this cat has enlarged lympnodes and an enlarged spleen. Tomorrow I get his complete bloodwork back. Tomorrow we find out.

Twelve hours seems like a long time away.

Posted by Ellen at 08:50 PM | Comments (1)
Blackhawk Up

Well, when Hack is positive about something, it must be a damned good thing:

[O]ur forces in Iraq have come a long way from late last year when the guerrillas were playing the tune and we were dancing badly. Now our intelligence machine is cranking out smarter skinny, our fast-moving strike forces often clobber the guerrillas before they can make their moves, and our chopper community keeps coming up with more tricks of the guerrilla-fighting trade.
The biggest plus reported by these heroes is that the order of the day appears to be: Damn the stateside regs. Their battle-wise aviation commanding officers listen to the crews and aren’t afraid to demand that the generals make relevant changes.

I knew the Iraqis had stumbled across some weird winning combination when we had that rash of helicopter knock downs last month. Hack did too... he had a "what are we doing wrong?" request up on his site all this month. Fortunately we've proven just as adaptable as the bad guys, and the knock downs have stopped. Hack's here to give us the good news. For once.

Posted by scott at 03:34 PM | Comments (0)
Editor? We Don't Need No Steenking Editor!

Copy editing... it's not just a job, it's an adventure:

It is therefore only a matter of imagination in getting people to freely download what could be an extremely dangerous worm - like, for instance, the Doom worm currently reeking havoc across the globe. [emphasis added]

Gotta love that Microsoft thesaurus. Sometimes, automation just helps you screw up faster.

Predictably, not a single ass-monkey at FARK (where I found this) commented on the goof. Too busy getting into a browser holy war.

Posted by scott at 02:16 PM | Comments (5)
Old Bugs

BBCnews is carrying this summary of the discovery of the oldest land animal found to date. A millipede-like creature only 1 cm long, it was discovered in northern Scotland by an amateur collector whose "day job" is a bus driver. The creature has been named in his honor. Hmm... "Crittericus Johnsonii" has a nice ring to it. Time to get out the magnifying glass!

Posted by scott at 01:47 PM | Comments (0)
When Motorists Attack

I used to think the DC area had the worst drivers in the world, but now I'm beginning to agree with Lair that it's Houston that should be wearing the crown. It's a train people. Not a dog, not a pothole, not a Mexican, but a great big horn-honking multi-ton mass of metal and plastic. Some especially tasty bon-mots:

[Phillip] Brown, who used the drive-through Tuesday afternoon at Whitney bank near Fannin and Southmore, said he's worked in the area for more than 20 years and isn't used to trains coming down the street. He was surprised there's no standard railroad-crossing gate at the bank's driveway onto Fannin, only a sign that lights up when a train approaches and two yellow lights that blink.

Lighted sign, blinking yellow lights, and a huge mass of train not enough for ya? Here's your sign.

Transit officials say nothing could have prevented Tuesday's crash. Not only did [driver] Quyen Lu ignore two "no left turn" signs, said Metro Police Chief Tom Lambert, he failed to yield while making the turn and drove straight into the train's path.

Obviously it's not just Congressmen who think rules are things that apply to other people.

[Donna] Bright said simply assuming all drivers will pay proper attention to the new transit mode is presumptuous.

I mean, why should anyone pay attention to something that could squash them flatter than Kate Hudson's chest? Don't make me pay attention! I'm trying to get somewhere!

I shoulda entered ATS's dead pool with a list that read "Houston Driver vs. Metro Train #1, Houston Driver vs. Metro Train #2..."

I don't know why I'm so surprised. My dad used to live in Houston, and he said simple rainstorms were terrifying, ice storms apocalyptic. SUVs and motorcycles in particular seem to regularly launch themselves from the city's 100-foot-high overpasses like shiny catapult stones. Lair often writes about walking to work, and sometimes I'm afraid he'll get splatted like a Monty Python Holy Grail extra by one of these oil-rich fundie retards trying to see if they can actually drive to heaven.

Duck Laurence! Duck!

Posted by scott at 12:30 PM | Comments (1)
And Now for Something Completely Different

Again thanks to Aaron, I just found out we live less than half a mile from where the Presidential turkeys end up. No, not Bush et. al. (ha!), but the turkeys that get pardoned every Thanksgiving. Once we're done thawing out I may have to take my nephew over to have a gander (HA-HA!) at them.

Lately Olivia's been flapping like a turkey herself, so maybe they can teach each other a thing or two.

Posted by scott at 10:19 AM | Comments (0)
Oh Dear Lord No!

Being the father of the only female grandchild on one side of the family and the first grandchild at all on the other, my life has turned into the inside of a pepto-bismol bottle. I didn't know there was this much pink in the whole world. But, as always, it's a mistake to think it can't get any worse.

Via Aaron.

Posted by scott at 09:18 AM | Comments (1)
Olivia's Next Job?

Well, she sure enjoys playing baby toss, so maybe skydiving is a real possibility?

Here's hoping cute babies are cut in enough to distract from what the guys are there to see. Well, probably not, but still.

And don't worry, the same number of babies are alive and well at the end as at the start. I counted to be sure.

Posted by scott at 09:01 AM | Comments (0)
Urban Football Legends

Now, I guess we're just not big enough pro football fans, because we hadn't heard any of these Super Bowl urban legeds. Of course, we're all about de-bunking, so we decided to link it up anyway. Maybe Jimspot has heard of one or two?

Posted by scott at 08:06 AM | Comments (1)
January 27, 2004
Vote Early, Vote Often

We registered "The Great Exploding Watermelon" over at the blogmadness tournament, and got put in the "sports" category somehow. Now, I was just going to let it run itself out without comment, but it would appear the competition has done a little rallying for itself.

Therefore, please feel free to vote for us in the tournament. That'd be our entry over on the bottom-right side. Click VOTE, then choose the "correct" entry on the left-hand side. Tell your friends! :)

Update: A more direct link to voting is here. Again, the voting form itself is a little hard to spot at first, on the lower-left of the screen.

Conservative ballot stuffing... Joshua's gonna be so proud of me!

Posted by scott at 03:30 PM | Comments (0)
More Mars News

BBCnews is carrying this nice summary of the latest developments with the Mars rovers. In a nutshell: the bedrock near Opportunity is looking an awful lot like water-deposited sedimentary stuff, and Spirit's problem seems to be related to a very fixable software defect.

Posted by scott at 02:23 PM | Comments (1)
Insert Queen Reference Here

Joshua over at bluelens has this nice roundup of various bicycle-related links and advice.

Cycling is one of the very few kinds of exercise I really like. I'll even cycle in the winter as long as the weather permits. Snow is the worst because it pushes me out into the street where rush-hour-addled commuters whiz by. Scariest moment I've had so far is when some lady just flat didn't see me come alongside during a right turn and "closed the door" on me. Kept pushing me closer and closer to the snowbank until finally my pedal caught in her car's wheel and spun it right around. Hope I gave it a nice long scratch.

Don't worry mom, I don't go out in the snow anymore. Some things will scare even me.

Posted by scott at 12:31 PM | Comments (1)
When the Food Court Posse Attacks

Take one stuck Geo Storm, add one very modest snow bank, a tow rope, and about a half dozen really stupid white boys and what do you get? Well, you get something like this.

Note: Video download, and a slow one at that, but well worth the wait.

I learned a long time ago how dangerous (to car and person) trying to tow a car with the wrong stuff can be. I didn't do quite the damage these morons did, but I defintely had my share of bent bumpers and torn bodywork.

You'd think one of them would've at least used a damned shovel.

Posted by scott at 10:41 AM | Comments (0)
Head... Spinning...

Playin' with your noggin... forced-perspective street art. Something tells me it's not quite as freaky in person, because I imagine you have to be standing just so for it to work. Still, quite neat!

Posted by scott at 10:21 AM | Comments (0)
Redneck Disguises

Need a beer but can't because of "the rules" or "the man" or (even worse) "the wife" or "the mother-in-law"? Well, BeerDisappear is for you!

I think these things have been around for quite awhile. Certainly the graphics are pretty darned dated on these things. Still, a little anarchy never hurt anybody.

Posted by scott at 10:19 AM | Comments (0)
Bad Wheels

Forbes has updated its list of bad cars, this time including foreign cars made after 1945. Some you would expect (Edsel, Pinto), but others are a little surprising (early Honda Accords, Pontiac Fiero).

Posted by scott at 09:15 AM | Comments (0)
January 26, 2004
Laura Ingalls Wilder

I LOVE the stories of Laura. I remember that I got the book series one year for Christmas and could not wait to finish all of the books. I still have them, and hope to give them to Olivia when she is old enough to appreciate them.

But here are some really cool links on Laura!


Almonzo's home

Little House on the Prarie

Pioneering Journeys

If anyone knows of some more links, let us know!

Posted by Ellen at 12:32 PM | Comments (1)
It's not What You Count...

Silflay has a nice, simple deconstruction of the whole reserve/guard re-enlistment "problem". Not a disproof as such, but definitely a talking point next time I have lunch with my brother.

Posted by scott at 10:25 AM | Comments (2)
Nerd Riot!

This PvP strip sort of says it all.

Ellen got to see RotK with friends on Saturday. She claims she never even looked at her watch once, a personal record for her. It's a good movie!

Posted by scott at 08:27 AM | Comments (0)
Red Planet Offensive

Site-essential brings us the real scoop on our Martian expidition:

THE US-LED INVASION of the Fourth Planet was intensified Saturday night, as a second front was opened on the Meridiani Planum.

The new operation, code-named "Opportunity," was designed to divide the Martian resistance by space-dropping a mechanized unit some 6,600 miles away from the original beachhead at Gusev Crater. According to US officials, the second landing has encountered "minimal resistance."

Extra-snarky comment from the yellow-dog peanut gallery in 3... 2... 1...

Posted by scott at 06:47 AM | Comments (0)

I'm not staying home today because of 4.5 inches of snow. You can't even make a decent snowman with 4.5 inches of snow on the ground. I've driven with 2.5 feet of snow on the ground delivering pizza in a rusted-out rear-wheel-drive Italian sports car before. Compared to that, our PT Cruiser is an f-ing mountain goat. I can drive in this.

I'm staying home today because of the titanic numbers of "I didn't pay $60,000 for this SUV just to be stopped by the laws of physics" morons clogging my commuter route. The last time I tried to fight the moronitude it took 2.5 hours to get to work (normally takes about 40 minutes.) We counted 22 wrecks, most of them SUVs on their sides or backs in the median or stacked up on the shoulder. No thanks. Time to break out the hot chocolate...

At least Jeff gets to play in his truck, and Damion gets to try out his snow tires!

Posted by scott at 06:43 AM | Comments (3)
Body Flex charged with false claims

FTC files lawsuit against maker of weight-loss product.

Body Flex spent $22 million this year to air its infomercial more than 2,000 times, claiming its program, which involves a breathing regiment and exercises with a plastic bar and elastic band, will help users drop four to 14 inches across six body areas in a week. The company says the routine could be done sitting down in 18 to 20 minutes a day.

If people could lose weight just breathing, no one would get off the couch.

Read entire article here.

Posted by Ellen at 06:33 AM | Comments (38)
Orion Details

Digging around the comments on Slashdot I found this nifty summary of just how, exactly, a nuclear-propelled spacecraft might work. Because the "bang plate" design has been around so long and is comparatively well understood, it's been the subject of probably dozens of different SF novels. "Footfall" is the most prominent one I can think of, other readers can likely think of others.

Of course, considering the fuss raised when NASA launched a space probe with 72 pounds of low-grade plutonium inside, trying to launch something using nuclear weapons seems... unlikely.

Still, it's good to know there are workable plans for really huge spacecraft in existence. If, say, a gigantic asteroid was going to splat the earth, I think most industrialized nations would be able to build them. Then we could leave Osama and his ilk behind so they'd be able to have a great face-to-face with Allah.

Posted by scott at 06:24 AM | Comments (0)
Dieters look for ephedra alternatives

People who think ephedra helped them lose weight are looking to new ingredients with names like guarana, bitter orange and green tea extract to replace the soon-to-be-banned dietary supplement.

"There are a number of, quote-unquote, 'ephedra substitutes' on the market now where even less is known about potential side effects," Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Mark McClellan cautioned in an interview last week.

The ingredient drawing the most attention is bitter orange, which McClellan says the FDA is monitoring closely because it contains synephrine, a stimulant chemically similar to ephedra.

Read entire article here.

I am a big believer in supplements. Always have been. Including Ephedra. One of the main reasons that it's being taken off the market is those morons that take more than the required amount and those that will go out in 100 degree weather to work out. I am currently on a non-ephedra supplement and along with exercise I have lost 18 pounds. Before the supplements, I was not getting any results with diet and exercise alone. Some people they work for, some they don't.

Posted by Ellen at 06:07 AM | Comments (0)
FDA: Tylenol, painkiller misuse can be deadly

The biggest concern: Taking too much of the popular drug acetaminophen can poison the liver.


It's not the only over-the-counter drug getting attention: The FDA's campaign also will warn that certain patients are at increased risk of other side effects from different painkillers -- such as aspirin, ibuprofen, naproxen or ketoprofen -- called NSAIDs, or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. Those side effects include stomach bleeding and kidney problems.

Read entire article here.

Posted by Ellen at 06:02 AM | Comments (0)
Vegan Erotica

I found this via the DaGoddess.

Apparently vegans need animal friendly S&M toys too!

Passion for the Compassionate

Posted by Ellen at 05:50 AM | Comments (0)
January 25, 2004
Not Now Honey, I have a headache...umm...baby!

A morning headache is a common experience for one of every 13 persons, a new survey finds, and these painful awakenings are closely associated with depression and anxiety.

Women are slightly more likely to have chronic morning headaches (8.4 percent vs. 6.7 percent of men) and one of every 11 middle-aged persons, aged 45 to 65, is a persistent sufferer.

Read entire article here.

Posted by Ellen at 06:16 PM | Comments (0)
Rotten to the Core

Many times my anti-war buddies have brought up "pissing off our allies" as a real issue in their opposition. I think we can say, if nothing else for the sake of argument, that this "ally" group was lead by (if not mostly composed of) France, Germany, and Russia. So, let's take a nice, long look at just what France is all about, shall we?

The business of uncovering corruption is not for the faint-hearted. In France, Eva Joly, the country's best known magistrate, lived under 24-hour police protection for six years: six years spent in the knowledge that someone out there was being paid to track her and, given the opportunity, kill her. Joly didn't investigate Colombian drug barons or mafia networks - her work took place in a country which is one of the world's most civilised. She was investigating corruption among French politicians, lawyers and company directors.

With friends like these...

Via Emperor Misha.

Posted by scott at 02:36 PM | Comments (0)
International Conservatism

While reading Meryl's latest look at what the UN is really about, I found a superb distillation of my own attitudes toward multiculturalism, foreign policy, and the UN:

I used to be a multiculturalist. I used to think the United Nations would lead the way to a united world, and someday, the Star Trek universe would be a reality, minus the miniskirts and the lame skintight uniforms, but with the communicators.

I no longer believe the United Nations can be impartial in any way. The [International Court of Justice] at the Hague is just an offshoot of the UN, and therefore as biased and malleable and corrupt as its parent.

Anyone who thinks the UN is anything more than an easy excuse for rich foreigners to shop 5th avenue on their government's dime isn't paying attention.
Posted by scott at 02:05 PM | Comments (1)
Myths, Lies, and Stupidity

Instapundit noted this superb John Stossel column, apparently related to a recent TV show, relating the top 10 media myths of our times. Utterly gauranteed to annoy big chunks of our readership with things like:

Myth No. 9 — We Have Less Free Time Than We Used To

I talked with sociologist John Robinson of the University of Maryland, who's been trying to measure how much time we have for several decades. Since 1965, Robinson has had people keep time diaries, so he could calculate how much free time people really have.

I assumed that we've lost free time since 1965, but Robinson said that's not the case. Surprisingly, since 1965 we've gained almost an hour more free time every day.

Myth No. 5 — The Rich Don't Pay Their Fair Share of Taxes

But let's remember the facts: the top 1 percent of Americans — those who earn more than about $300,000 a year — pay 34 percent, more than a third of all income taxes, and the top 5 percent, those making over $125,000, pay more than half.

Myth No. 2 — We're Drowning in Garbage

The EPA says while some cities have to ship garbage out, overall landfill capacity is actually increasing. All around America, people are building bigger landfills. Some landfill owners are competing for our trash.

The yellow-dog peanut gallery has been surprisingly resistant to our trolls of late. Maybe we'll get a bite on this one...

Posted by scott at 01:44 PM | Comments (1)
So That's Where it All Comes From

Jeff gets a no-prize filled with headlight fluid for bringing us Kaleco Auto, your one-stop-shop for all those high-performance must have items like muffler bearings, hollow spark plug wires, and left-handed metric Crescent (adjustable) wrenches.

I mean, their budget lowering kit is worth the price of admission all on its own. What other automotive wonders might they have?

Posted by scott at 01:27 PM | Comments (0)
Think Again Before Getting Tattooed

Sakai, an award-winning tattoo artist, was tired of seeing sacred Japanese words, symbols of his heritage, inked on random white people. So he used their blissful ignorance to make an everlasting statement. Any time acustomer came to Sakai’s home studio wanting Japanese tattooed on them, he modified it into a profane word or phrase.

Read entire article here.

No-Prize to Nina for the submission!

Posted by Ellen at 01:10 PM | Comments (3)
Mars News

Space.com is carrying this update of the Spirit lander. Virdict: serious but not critical. Includes some interesting snarkiness from "unnamed sources" on the team, implying some people at least think they were trying to do too much too fast and it bit them.

On a lighter note, Opportunity has landed safely! We were up around the time it happened, but completely forgot and slept through it this time. Still, good job JPL!

Posted by scott at 12:44 PM | Comments (0)

Fark brings us news that the same company making "Top Gun Bush" is now making Howlin' Howard Dean. Better watch out... my mom might start collecting these too!

Posted by scott at 12:38 PM | Comments (0)
January 24, 2004
A Bridge Over Troubled Trauma

Fark (of all places) linked up this interesting summary of a new experimental technique to help heal spinal cord injuries. Using special polymers, a kind of molecular scaffold is formed across the injury, allowing nerves to bridge the gap more easily.

Posted by scott at 04:19 PM | Comments (0)
Mmm Mmm Good?

From the Ostrim "nutrition meat stick" to the apple cider donut to Atkins's own "Beanit Butter", McSweeney's food reviews has it all. Your one-stop-shop for all foods new and unfortunate. We've definitely got to get Jeff some of this stuff.

Posted by scott at 04:11 PM | Comments (0)
January 23, 2004
This Day In History

Jan 23 1812

A huge 7.8 magnitude earthquake shakes New Madrid, Missouri. People think that earthqakes strike the West Coast, but the New Madrid series of quakes are some of the largest in America's history.

Posted by Ellen at 07:37 PM | Comments (3)
When Macintosh Attacks

Slashdot linked up what must be one of the more elaborate adaptations of computers to an existing automobile. And he used a Macintosh no less. Can Damion's beloved Trogdor-Honda be far behind?

Posted by scott at 03:48 PM | Comments (0)
Like I Need Another Way to Bust My Ass

Segways. Who needs 'em. Where's the challenge in dropping $4500 on something that's already put together? Much better to just roll your own. Cheaper too. That way, when the wheel falls off, your wife can gripe you out about two things you did wrong! :)

Via Bluelens.

Posted by scott at 03:21 PM | Comments (1)
He'll Be Dropping Ping-Pong Balls in Heaven

Bob Keeshan died today, he was 76 years old. Captain Kangaroo featured prominently in my early days, as I'm sure he did in many other kids's. He influenced several generations of children with simple, entertaining, and (as I recall) educational fare not much seen nowadays. He will be missed.

Posted by scott at 03:14 PM | Comments (0)
The Kids are All Right

The politicians and REMF generals across the river from them may all be doing their usual worthless "mambo #5", but Iraq Now shows us the folks on the ground seem to be more than competent, as this tale of Medivac Madness shows.

No less interesting was something that came at the end:

We did capture someone that morning with thousands and thousands of dollars worth of Iranian and U.S. currency--fresh, crisp bills, and several books on how to make improvised explosive devices. The Iranian currency tells us a lot. We fly him out the next day. A lot of people want to talk to him.

Iranians causing trouble. Imagine that.

Posted by scott at 12:33 PM | Comments (0)
Mars Pics

Speaking of Mars Express, BBCnews has posted several new super-hi-res photos of mars taken by that probe. Not that it'll make any damned difference to the tinfoil hat crowd, but I wonder how long it will be before they provide images of the infamous "face"?

Posted by scott at 12:18 PM | Comments (4)
Can You Say "Recidivism?"

Meet Henry Earl, a rather happy-go-lucky resident of Fayette county Kentucky. Now, we'd never heard of him before, but apparently he's something of an underground internet celebrity. Certainly he's quite famous around the Lexington area, if the comments on this story are to be believed.

Small-town law enforcement at its finest. Fark linked the first site up, and from the comments there apparently Mr. Earl gets himself arrested whenever he needs a place to stay. While saying he's got a problem with alcohol would probably be an epic understatement, when you figure up the time he spends in jail per year, he's actually sober most of the time.

Posted by scott at 09:50 AM | Comments (1)
Red Dust and Water

Well, Beagle may not have made it but Mars Express, the orbiter section of the project, did and it's managed to find the first ever confirmed discovery of water. Down around the south pole, which is where a lot of people expected it to be, if it was there at all. Now if we can just get that rover talking to us again...

Posted by scott at 09:23 AM | Comments (2)
January 22, 2004
True Lies?

Cobb has this interesting take on the whole "Bush Lied!" thing:

A number of people make the point that GWBush lied to the American people about WMDs. I think it's reasonable to say that most folks bought what it was he was selling. I don't think he lied. I think he persuaded. We all saw Colin Powell's UN presentation and we all bought it. By we, I mean those of us near the tipping point.
I don't understand why the Clinton and Bush administrations did not want to use the term 'genocidal' to describe Hussein's activity, but I think it's appropriate to describe what he was all about. So the question about the truth-telling somehow focused on the how but not the what. I don't know the cause, but many in the American public have been snookered into looking for a smoking gun rather than a genocidal maniac.

I'm still puzzled that some people seem to think getting rid of a supposed liar is far, far more important than getting rid of an incontrovertible genocidal maniac.

Of course, now that we've gotten rid of one, they may just feel it's necessary to get rid of the other.

Posted by scott at 03:15 PM | Comments (2)
Buggy Crash?

Looks like there's something wrong with Spirit, the mars rover. However, the slashdot collective thinks it might not be as bad as it sounds.

Turn it off, turn it back on. Then see what happens.

Posted by scott at 02:14 PM | Comments (0)
Tacky? Us? Naawww...

For the "stylistically challenged" religious nut in your life, we're happy to present the Chia Christ.

Feh, we're going to Hell anyway. Might as well have some decoration.

Update: The rest of their stuff is just as good. Swear to, well, God, I think that's Ned Flanders behind the cash register.

Posted by scott at 02:01 PM | Comments (0)
And Here We Were, Thinking the Implant People Were Weird

Now, being the libertarian that I am, I don't particularly care what you do behind closed doors amongst yourself and other like-minded adults. I do, however, reserve the right to be skeeved out when I read just exactly what some of you pervs are up to out there. But hey, I haven't had a good case of the heebie-jeebies in awhile, so I guess it's win-win for the both of us!

Posted by scott at 01:52 PM | Comments (1)
Ancient "Murder Mystery" Solved?

New Scientist is carrying this interesting summary of the most extensive study yet attempted to figure out just what, exactly, happened to the Neandertals. Their conclusion? It was the cold that did them in, and nearly did in the European human population as well. The conclusions of this study seem to indicate it took the arrival of a completely different population of humans, with advanced technologies and cultural skills posessed by neither the Neandertals nor the existing human populations, before Europe was finally "conquered."

Posted by scott at 12:55 PM | Comments (0)
And People Think We're Weird

First tatoos, then piercings, now implants. "We can get it for you, wholesale."

Where do people get money for this stuff?

Posted by scott at 12:05 PM | Comments (0)
Ancient Fleet Search

BBCnews is carrying this article summarizing upcoming efforts to find King Darius's Persian sea fleet. Destroyed in a violent storm in 492 BC, the fleet could potentially lead to a great many insights into the way Persian soldiers lived and fought.

Interestingly, they don't expect to find any Greek triremes. Apparently they were made without much, if any, ballast, and just plain didn't sink.

Posted by scott at 09:32 AM | Comments (0)
January 21, 2004
Like a Juice Box, for Grownups

Fark linked up this Seattle Times article detailing how box wines are moving up-town. Dated vintages, well-known vinyards, at 50% less cost. What's not to love?

Posted by scott at 02:39 PM | Comments (1)
Guns Guns Guns!

Jeff gets a combat no-prize for bringing us news of the Army's replacement for the venerable and little-loved M-16, the XM8 weapon system (this site has some nice artist's renderings of the weapon's various configurations).

Designed by the the US subsidiary of the German firm Heckler & Koch and built in the US, the system seems to be a winner on all accounts. Most heartening, if this side-by-side comparison is to be believed, the new XM8 system should be far more reliable and easy to maintain than the M-16 ever was. Cheaper too, by almost 1/3rd. It is apparently a highly modified and improved derivative of the well-regarded G36E assault rifle currently used in the German army.

I don't think there's a veteran of the Vietnam war who thinks the M-16 is any less than a deadly boondoggle that regularly got soldiers killed. Even after forty years of development, the best my brother (who spent 4 years in the army during the '90s) could say about it was "it's not that bad." I'm still suspicious (in my arm-chair-soldierly way) of anything the Pentagon likes, but it would seem this system is a real out-of-the-box winner.

However, after doing a little research, I found some alternate views. A caveat: there's an awful lot of chaff in there, just a little bit of wheat. Nothing evokes the passions of men more than what they consider themselves arm-chair experts in (this author included). The most violently negative things you'll read in any technical forum of this nature will nearly always come from people who have absolutely no experience in what is being discussed*. The only opinions I paid attention to were 1) former or active-duty soldiers and 2) people who actually fired the XM8 or the G36 it is derived from. Their opinions seem to be "cautiously optimistic", which is what I'm going with here.

If they ever do build the thing I think the inevitable civilian version would look mighty fine in a gunrack of my very own. But that's just me.

Posted by scott at 02:20 PM | Comments (0)
What He Said

David Hackworth weighs in on "training-versus-toys" debate with this perceptive column on the 81st Brigade. Unlike many readers of this site I don't blame Clinton (directly), and I especially don't blame Bush for whatever happens to be going wrong with the military at the moment. Instead the finger should point squarely at the Pentagon. It's a testament to the effectiveness of the propaganda machine sitting inside our own military-industrial-congressional tryptich that it doesn't.

Posted by scott at 10:20 AM | Comments (0)
Spirit Update

Well, the mainstream media may now be ignoring the rover, but Space.com isn't. Latest news: a mineral found in the surface soil tends to imply water may not have once filled the crater the rover is in. However, it could also simply mean the stuff was blown in during one of the ubiquitous sandstorms the planet experiences.

Posted by scott at 09:06 AM | Comments (0)
Solid Smoke

Slashdot featured this nifty NY Times article summarizing the characteristics of aerogel, the least-dense solid on earth. All kinds of cool applications, not the least of which is forming the core of the dust collector on the Stardust comet probe.

Update: Always read the comments, wherein we found this cool picture of just how strong, and weird looking, aerogel is. A bunch of other pictures are here.

Posted by scott at 08:26 AM | Comments (0)
Court rejects belly dancers' appeal

CAIRO (Reuters) - A Cairo court has rejected an appeal by Russian and Australian belly dancers against a ban on working in the country they consider the home of the dance.

Oriental dancing is big business at Cairo night spots, from four-star hotels for tourists to cheap smoke-filled bars in the seedier parts of the city.

Read entire article here.
Posted by Ellen at 05:54 AM | Comments (1)
Robot belly-dancer shakes her stuff


Her creator, Jimmy Or of Waseda University in Tokyo, Japan, said he gained inspiration watching Lucy Liu sashay her stomach in the film Charlie's Angels. The sight prompted him to sign up for dance lessons of his own.

Watching his instructor bend and sway, Or was struck by her similarity to his other object of affection, the lamprey - a primitive eel-like creature that scythes through water like a snake. "I decided to combine the fields and work on my idea secretly," he says.

Read entire article here.

Posted by Ellen at 05:40 AM | Comments (0)
January 20, 2004
Mad Max Mahem

Also from the same Star Wars story discussed below, I found this nifty site about all the cars on Mad Max and Mad Max 2. And to think all this time I thought Max's interceptor was some sort of Holden...

Posted by scott at 03:43 PM | Comments (0)
Paging Richie Carozza, White Courtesy Phone Please

Well, there goes my brother-in-law's next few years of income. Do-it-yourself Star Wars armor. Boba Fett armor. 'Nuff said.

Update: Always read the comments (this time on Fark), wherein I found Park Sabers, "The most powerful sabers in the known universe." Grown-up toys for grown-ups!

Posted by scott at 03:20 PM | Comments (0)
When Drunks Attack

Ok, I'm sure there will be many disapproving noises coming from some of you out there, but I still think this "shockumentary" is easily one of the funniest things I've seen so far this year.

People who drank and went to college will have at least one story of this nature. Like, for instance, having a friend upchucking their bridgework into the toilet on a weekend before they are to appear in a wedding. People who don't drink have other stupid things in their past, like, I don't know, bouncing off curb guards going to the post office, the occasional Mann act violation, starting a phone romance with a radio DJ you think looks like Amy Grant but (you later find out) actually looks like Rosanne.

Me? Oh I'm the one who forgets to tighten lug nuts and drives down the street until a wheel falls off. I'm capable of anything.

Posted by scott at 02:40 PM | Comments (1)
Ellen will Never Go Near a Catfish Pond Again

Jeff gets his second no-prize of the day for bringing us this story of the record catch of a 121.5 lb. blue catfish from a lake on the Texas-Oklahoma border. With pictures! Interestingly enough, the fish survived and is now apparently on display at a Texas aquarium.

Posted by scott at 02:19 PM | Comments (0)
Cash Register: 1 Crook: 0

This story, about a crook holding up an ice cream shop and not being able to open the register, reminded me very much of a story my dad used to tell when my parents owned a liquor store:

A friend had recently opened another store in a different part of town. My dad helped them close the place down one night, and noticed the owner locking the cash registers after he'd emptied them. "You really don't want to do that", he said.

"Why not?" the owner replied. "It's got a lock, I want to make sure everything's secure."

"Because crooks are morons, and they'll think there's something in them if they're locked. It's better to leave them with the empty drawers open. The thieves will just ignore them."

Apparently the store owner ignored the advice, and sure enough a few months later his store was broken into and two empty cash registers (costing thousands of dollars each) were destroyed by thieves smashing them to bits trying to get at what was inside.

Posted by scott at 02:02 PM | Comments (0)
Private Skippy

Jeff can enjoy his no-prize while he's on KP for bringing us news of another listing of "things Skippy is not allowed to do in the Army."

We've featured this before I believe, but I'll bet items have been added since. Jeff claims that some of these things applied to him when he was in the army. I wonder which ones they were...

Posted by scott at 11:54 AM | Comments (0)

Instapundit linked up this very interesting critique of the Pentagon, special forces, and why we seemed to be incapable of taking out bin Laden years ago.

In preparation for some upcoming writing, I've been researching Pentagon behavior for the past sixty years. The turf wars, backbiting, glacial resistance to change, and risk-aversion this article describes have been an integral part of the "five-sided monument to Murphy's law" for pretty much the entire organization's existence. People with new ideas or warriors who don't tow the line hate the place with a passion, and it hates them right back. It became depressingly repetitive, book after book after book describing destructive pettiness that allowed soldiers to get killed simply to protect a career, a darling weapon that didn't work, or just turf and power. Nowadays one of my litmus tests for whether a military "insider" is a poser or should be taken seriously is whether or not they hate "the building."

Everything in the article tracks with what I've read, not only in histories and biographies, but in various news accounts. Many right-wingers blame the Clinton administration for all the various problems in the military. In my opinion, and I think this article backs it up, this is an oversimplification.

The Clinton administration wanted to be tough with bad guys and have a good military organization just like previous administrations, but because Clinton was widely perceived as not having "the bona fides", his administration allowed the Pentagon to run the show without question. The result was expensive toys like the F-22 fighter, the Comanche helicopter, the Seawolf submarine, and the V-22 Osprey transport getting the green light while good pay, good housing, realistic training, and adequate force levels were allowed to slide into obscurity*.

I used to think Rumsfeld was a bomb-throwing maniac intent on destroying our military. I've come to realize this image is almost certainly a construct built by the extremely media-savvy Pentagon insiders he is antagonizing. I still think he's a grade-A ass, but after reading the experience of people like David Hackworth and John Boyd, I've come to the conclusion he's doing God's work. Anything that angers, scares, or frustrates the Building is IMO a good thing.

Posted by scott at 10:31 AM | Comments (0)
Sink Holes, Get Yer Sink Holes Here!

And in the "house-bites-car" category, we have the tale of the truck-eating garage. With pictures, of course!

Posted by scott at 08:34 AM | Comments (0)
It's Called "Risotto"

After they stop putting V8s in American sedans but before Honda became a synonym for "hot rod", there was a narrow window in which people started heating up European sedans.

Alfa was no exception, in fact it was one of the vanguards, being one of the very first "Calloway" projects. Now one of these original turbo kits has re-surfaced (warning: long load times ahead!)

Aftermarket twin turbos for an Alfa. Damion would be so proud! :)

Posted by scott at 08:22 AM | Comments (0)
January 19, 2004
Baby Experiment 1: Food Choice

You knew it was only a matter of time; several of you worried quite openly about it. Yup, we finally got around to our very first scientific experiment with our own child, a game we call "choose the jar."

Day care is on a federal holiday schedule, my work is on a federal holiday schedule, but Ellen's workplace is not on a federal holiday schedule. Therefore most holidays are known around here as "daddy bonding days."

Now, lately Olivia has turned into a bottomless pit. She eats anything, and often. We've been transitioning her to baby foods to supplement (and ultimately supplant) her bottles.

Now, I'd been thinking. If it were me, I wouldn't necessarily want a whole jar full of the same stuff. And even though it was pretty mushy, it seemed to me having a bottle full of juice to wash it down with wouldn't hurt either. So for lunch today we pulled out a jar of "chicken noodle soup" (how one purees a soup I will leave to the reader's imagination), a jar of "vegetable medley", and a bottle of apple juice.

Now, "vegetable medley" looked an awful lot like "chicken noodle soup" ... vaguely yellow-brown, consistency of tile grout, smelled of, well, smelled of not much at all. As part of the control, I worked up the nerve to actually taste them and, as suspected, "vegetable medley" tasted an awful lot like a pizza box and "chicken noodle soup" tasted a lot like a paper grocery sack. There was a difference, but you had to think about it for a bit to tell.

Interestingly enough, I noticed that sometimes Olivia would eat readily, and sometimes she wouldn't. I sensed a pattern, so I got scientific. She seemed to want "vegetable medley." So I very carefully spooned out "vegetable medley" in front of her and spooned in "chicken noodle soup." I was watched intently, and sure enough the light fixture got real interesting when I tried to spoon the erstwhile soup-cum-tile-adhesive into the child

Spoon out "chicken noodle soup", spoon in "vegetable medley" and, as predicted, gravity altered as my daughter sucked the stuff down with a satisfied grunt.

Again, both things smelled the same, both things looked the same. The only difference I could tell was one came out of jar A, the other from jar B. Olivia had figured out the good stuff came from jar A, the bad stuff from jar B, simply by watching, and chose accordingly.

Not that it mattered too much, because the fuzzy-cat-shaped-vultures had to be beaten off "chicken noodle soup" just to get a spoon in. So, after the experiment had been confirmed, I simply spooned it into them instead. Double-fisted-feeding, as it were.

As an added bonus, occasionally she'd stop eating then "hoot! hoot! hoot! hoot!" and bounce while looking at the bottle of apple juice. Sure enough, a few pulls from the ol' juice bottle and we were ready for some more "vegetable medley."

I'm sure all parents out there are simply nodding their head and saying "dur" to the screen. Consider it a reminder of an era when you were first-time parents.

And be sure to save some "chicken noodle soup" for me. It did, eventually, end up tasting like the real thing. Sort of.

Posted by scott at 08:23 PM | Comments (1)
To Russia with Paper

For the do-it-yourselfer who has no money, we present the paper camera. Originally developed "behind the iron curtain" as a project for kids, it's still a fun concept. Definitely the slickest pinhole camera I've ever seen.

Posted by scott at 02:08 PM | Comments (0)
If My Mom Owned a Farm

My mom is absolutely famous for buying Christmas presents months in advance, putting them "in a place I won't forget about", and not being able to find them in time for the holidays. It's not uncommon for presents to then trickle slowly in during March and April as spring cleaning reveals them.

However, even my mom can't top this one:

Dilubhai Rajput had stashed a bag of more than 1,700 small diamonds, worth almost $900, in a pile of hay at his home in Gujarat state [India], famous both for its dairy and diamond-cutting industries, but hadn't reckoned on the risk of a hungry cow

300 diamonds so far have been, er... "recovered".

Posted by scott at 12:33 PM | Comments (2)
Martian Sashimi?

Well, the rest of the media may be ignoring the rover now that it hasn't splatted or got stuck, but space.com is providing continuing coverage.

Although I must admit driving fifteen feet to stick instruments next to a rock isn't exactly compelling news. We spend nearly a billion bucks to send a probe to examine another world and what do we do? Send a car with a camera. It just don't get more American than that.

Gotta love it!

Update: Freedom, the second lander, lands this Saturday. I didn't expect to be awake to watch the first one land, but Olivia decided otherwise. Probably will happen again. Mark your calendars!

Update 2: New Scientist is carrying this report on the latest soil research findings from the rover. Weird hollow grains seem to indicate the possibility of salt water.

Posted by scott at 09:10 AM | Comments (0)
Halo on my Head

X-box: $199
Copy of Halo: $45
Look on your friends' faces when you show up to the next halo lan party in full armor: Priceless.

Just gotta make sure I don't get pink armor. Might make me look like, I dunno, a puma.

Posted by scott at 08:11 AM | Comments (0)
January 18, 2004

Ajax has decided to take Olivia under his fuzzy cat wing (paw?) and show her the in's and out's of life itself. Well, cat in's and out's anyway. We expect her to start climbing the curtains any day now. He's also decided that it was time to show her that things out of a baby food jar taste pretty darn good.

I was giving Olivia her lunch the other day when she refused to eat what I made up for her. It was her favorite. Sweet potatoes and rice cereal. Nope she wanted none of that today. Until Ajax stepped in.

Me: "Oh look! MMmmm... don't you want some?"

Olivia: *blink blink* mouth tightly shut, sniff, look away.

Me: "Mmmm... ya sure now? Cause if you don't want it, I'm going to give it to Ajax. See, he'll eat it!" whereapon I held a spoonful of potato and rice at the cat's mouth for him to sniff. Cat goes in for a taste. Cat realizes this is not his regular baby food he eats but will play along anyway.

Olivia: "Bah! Bah! Bah! DAAA!!!!" Then she started to sway and makes a grab for the cat, so he just leans away from her.

Me: "Mmm... see! Ajax likes it!"

Olivia: *mouth opens for food, and THRRRPPTTTTSS!! raspberries it all over me and the white cat*

Ajax then looks at me as if to say, "I am not going to clean this stuff off. Go get a paper towel and wipe me down or I will wear this all day. "

Our next feat for O, not to touch the cat's butt.

Posted by Ellen at 01:03 PM | Comments (1)
Cat Rumbles

I found this site via Joanie, aka Da Goddess, one of my regular daily reads.

Finally someone out there just as nutty about cats!

AHHH!!!! The smell of wet three-da-old-fish catfood, picking fur out of your food, needing to scoop the litterbox!

Scott: "You big dork, the site is a huge joke. GutRumbles is a cranky old guy who gripes about politics and throws rocks at kids on his lawn. He's, like, in Jamaica or something, gave Joanie his password. Joanie did it."

Me: "She did?" (yes, I sounded that stupid! LOL)

Scott: "Yeah, no one out there is a big cat dork like you are. If you find someone else, I expect you to run away with them and leave us all behind."

Me: "It's really a joke?"

Scott: "Yes and you fell for it! MUHAHAHAH!!! "

Me: "Oh jeeze... and I even emailed him saying 'Wow! what a great cat blog!'" *at this point in time I am laughing so hard I'm about to wet my pants.* Yeah yeah... big practical joke on me :) And here I got excited about a cat blog! DOH! :):)

Combine the severe lack of sleep and being a full time dork, what you get is me! :)

Ok, after Rob's done with you Joanie, we're next!

I think I just pulled a Jessica Simpson. Well, you know, except for the blonde hair and fake boobies.

Posted by Ellen at 12:41 PM | Comments (1)
RSPCA Cyberpet

For those morons out there that don't deserve the real thing.

Get your own cyberpet. Once you get your cyberpet you need to play with it, feed it, get it vaccinated, groom it - everything you would need to do with a real pet. The more you care for it, the more chance you have of appearing in the cyberpet top 10. Neglect your cyberpet and the RSPCA could take it away!

Posted by Ellen at 11:51 AM | Comments (4)
O in da Hood

Apparently one picture was not good enough, so take a gander at this one.

Posted by Ellen at 11:26 AM | Comments (2)
Towel Baby

As requsted, an "Olivia happy" pix. The girl just won't smile for the camera!

Posted by Ellen at 11:19 AM | Comments (0)
January 17, 2004
Olivia's Hospital Picture

As promised! Scott had to download the images from the digital cam into the main computer.

Posted by Ellen at 06:35 PM | Comments (2)
January 16, 2004
Follow the Bouncing Bambi

I normally don't make New Years Resoloutions, mainly due to the fact they tend to last only a little longer than Olivia's diapers. But this time around I felt I was going to do something for myself for once and stick to it. It's not dieting.

Well, ok it is dieting. Well, it's supposed to be dieting. But it's dancing too! Belly dancing!

I found a new teacher in our new neighborhood and began my classes more than 2 weeks ago. Turns out having a cannon ball strapped to your belly for four months actually doesn't give you "muscle memory amnesia." Good thing too... can't look like a dolt on the first day. Well not much of one.

My new belly dance teacher is named Bambi. No, really! I'm not making this up! She even made a joke in class... "Follow the bouncing Bambi" (ok, so having a cute name doesn't necessarily mean you can tell a joke... work with me here.) All I can say is she is a nice teacher, super enthusiastic and always on 'fast foward.' She also has a huge dance background in ballet and other dance techniques.

First class was fun, I met 6 other new people, and I'm the only one who's taken belly dance before. Go me! No more belly dance equivalent of "twinkle twinkle little star"!

I remember shimmies, singles, doubles, triples, and some traveling movements. Bambi makes it lots of fun. I don't think I've ever caught on to traveling movements so fast.

Third week begins Monday, and I find myself obsessing over class. Sometimes it's the only thing I can think of all day. Yeah, I know, but belly dancing doesn't sit on my couch, drink beer, and stick its hands down its pants. Neither does it wake me up at three in the morning with an empty stomach and a full diaper. Belly dancing is civilized. I want to pop in a cd and practice till I puke.

One day when I grow up I'll make sure I get to call myself a professional.

Posted by Ellen at 08:05 PM | Comments (0)

I supported our decision to depose Saddam Hussein through military action. But the anti-war protesters were right; there were no weapons of mass destruction, there was no connection between Saddam Hussein and 9-11, and Iraq presented no clear and present danger to the United States. His economy was being strangled by sanctions, and almost daily air strikes ensured his military could not even build basic defenses. This was naked aggression, a war of conquest at the whim of a single madman, a 21st century Hitler goose-stepping across the world. How could anyone with an IQ greater than a hamster's support such a thing?

I cannot speak for the administration's actual motives. However, being without an "inside track" does not prevent informed speculation, as just about every pundit on the planet proves daily. What follows is, as with theirs, my own opinion and worth about as much.

We never really stopped being "at war" with Saddam Hussein's regime. For more than a decade after the end of general hostilities in 1991 Iraq was the subject of almost daily bombing raids to enforce the northern and southern "no-fly" zones. Attacks on the heartland were periodic but frequent. This was not done for free, nor was it being paid for by any international coalition. The US and UK were spending approximately a billion dollars a year simply to maintain a dangerous status-quo (citation).

The escalating level of violence required to enforce these no-fly zones was resulting in increasingly vocal humanitarian opposition. The very legality of the zones was open to contentious debate (citation). The loss of even a single aircrew would have inevitably brought about tough, perhaps even unanswerable, questions about our involvement and the zones's effectiveness. Having a captive or dead American soldier or two paraded in front of television cameras would have almost certainly triggered an end to the only military involvement actively preventing the Ba'athist regime's undisguised efforts at rearmament.

The vaunted sanctions supposedly strangling the regime into submission were widely accepted as not working (citation), and the outcry at the humanitarian cost was growing increasingly difficult to counter. The international (and indeed domestic) business community, quite rightly seeing Iraq as a titanic works project waiting to happen, was also bringing increased pressure on the various governments involved to end the sanctions. Many prominent countries were simply ignoring them and signing billion-dollar investment deals with the Ba'athist regime, presenting the United States and Britain with a gradual but no less de facto international repeal.

It was only a matter of time before the outcry grew so great and the suffering of the Iraqi people so obvious that future US and UK governments, with no particular attachment to policies of previous administrations, sought some method of quietly ending sanctions altogether. Re-armament would not then simply be expected, but facilitated by international arms dealers competing for a piece of the last big arms market in the world. But this re-armament would only concern Iraq's immediate neighbors. The unprecedented events of September 11th showed in spectacular fashion how to carry war to the west's own cities, their own peoples, in ways that could paralyze them with comparatively minimal expense.

Ideological differences have caused Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden to be anathema each other. However, the Middle East has a long, rich history of demagogues holding their noses and associating themselves with turgidly corrupt secular leaders... as long as the price was right. With its own funding sources pinched if not cut off entirely, it would be difficult indeed to resist the sound of gold shaking on the belt pouch of the man sitting between the Tigris and Euphrates.

Even if bin Laden still snubbed the now freed Hussein regime, it's not particularly difficult to field one's own set of insurgents. Certainly the Palestinians, who remained faithful allies, would've been quite willing and able to provide both training and recruits. The dormant quest for nuclear weapons, either purchased or manufactured, would certainly be renewed. Even at the height of sanctions feelers were being cast about to acquire such weapons and the technologies required to deliver them (citation).

In my own view, it's quite true that Iraq in 2003 posed no real and present danger to the west, the United States in particular. Unfortunately, the efforts required to maintain this situation were on-going, expensive, dangerous, sometimes deadly to innocents, and showed literally no signs of ever ending. A war without end made real. Worse still, powerful political and economic forces were aligning to free Hussein's regime of these restrictions, allowing Iraq to eventually become a very real, indeed inevitable, future danger to our country, and the world.

This is why, in my opinion, Saddam had to go, and sooner rather than later. Not for any present need, not for any pressing requirement, but rather to avert an obvious political, humanitarian, and military disaster that was quite patently going to happen before it actually did so. Certainly if Saddam's reconstruction were to succeed beyond his wildest dreams we would still be able to defeat him. But at what additional cost?

History is littered with wars that could have been stopped, holocausts that could have been interrupted, millions dead in combat who simply did not need to die, had someone acted decisively at an early enough juncture to force real change. In my opinion, that is exactly what has happened here. You can disagree. You can claim my scenarios are unlikely to ever have happened. You may even be right.

But know I sleep better at night because now I'm certain they can never happen at all.

Posted by scott at 06:27 PM | Comments (11)
Quick Cards

A little game of distraction for Friday. Speed Cards is a little like solitare, a little like wack-a-mole. The rules sound a lot more confusing than they actually are. I think my best time right now is 2:30, but that's because I stink. Enjoy!

Posted by scott at 01:14 PM | Comments (1)
Saddam the Outkast

Jennifer C. gets a green heart-shaped no-prize for bringing us this extremely silly Outkast song parody.

~ Hide it like a nuclear weapon! ~

Posted by scott at 12:23 PM | Comments (0)
Monkey Speak

New Scientist is carrying this article summarizing new findings by primatologists concerning speach recognition in monkeys. It would seem a primary, and fundamental, difference is not the ability to recognize words, but the ability to figure out sophisticated language rules like recursion.

While interesting, I wonder what the results would be if the experiments were performed on any of our cousins, the apes.

Posted by scott at 08:58 AM | Comments (0)
Umm... Wha???

Ok, well, I guess converting a Honda into a sorta-kinda Star Wars fighter isn't any worse than some of the things Damion has shown me lately. At least the guy makes no claim to high performance. I think of it more as an art car than a silly custom job.

And really, it's his car. Why not?

Update: Many more detail shots are here. Again, in spite of the fark-tards (where it was originally posted) crying "moron!", I sorta respect the guy. This stuff isn't easy. It may not be something I'd do, but I've seen much worse done to unsuspecting Hondas before.

Posted by scott at 08:06 AM | Comments (0)
January 15, 2004
CLA Promotes Fat Loss

From the November 2003 issue of Fitness RX

Conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), a popular weight loss supplement, is a fatty acid found in meat, cheese and dairy products. It's one of the hottest fat-burning supplements on the planet. It seems as though every month scientists publish a new study on showing it either breaks down fat or prevents new fat formation.

CLA increases the acitivity of an enzyme called lipoprotien lipase that breaks down fat. Researchers from Cognis corporation found that giving CLA to moderately overweight adults for one year reduced body fat by 9% and increased lean muscle by 2%.

Body compostion measurements were made using DXA-the new "gold standard" of body composition measurement methods. (American Oil and Chemist Society Annual Meeting)

Posted by Ellen at 08:43 PM | Comments (0)
Cat Pixes

Go check out this site on cat pictures! Too cute!

Thanks to Jeff for the link! You get a cat shaped No-Prize!

Posted by Ellen at 06:05 PM | Comments (0)
Movie Physics

Joshua gets a magic-levitating no-prize for bringing us this entertaining look at movie physics. Not just Star Trek or other Sci-fi shows, but all movies. Some of it is snarky, but a lot of it is damned interesting, like why a shotgun blast won't knock you fifteen feet across a room, or why bullets shouldn't spark when they hit a wall. The reviews are pretty amusing too.

Posted by scott at 02:35 PM | Comments (1)
When Ricers Attack

Jeff gets a nitrous-injected no-prize for bringing this Honda S2000 thread to our attention.

Ok, for the non-gearheads in the crowd:

Hm... ok, if you don't know what NOS is, don't understand why it's a bad thing to inject a high-pressure gas into a crankcase, or don't know what a crankcase is, well, trust me, it's funny!

Posted by scott at 12:54 PM | Comments (0)
Postcards from Hell

BBCnews is carrying this article summarizing the latest efforts of a British scientist to improve the quality of pictures taken from the surface of Venus. With temperatures in excess of 490 C and pressures exceeding 90 times that at our own sea level, Venus presents a completely different set of challenges for a lander. Surprisingly, the Soviets managed land probes there 10 times.

With an irritatingly small number of pix!

Posted by scott at 10:41 AM | Comments (0)
I've Heard of Moving Ships Before, but This...

Pat gets a no-prize in a bottle for bringing us these photographs of USS Cole's recovery three years ago. These made the rounds back then, but I still think they're damned impressive. Far as I know, Cole is now toodling around the Persian Gulf making sure people mind their manners. Up yours, Mr. bin-Laden!

Posted by scott at 10:31 AM | Comments (1)
Ah, Camping... Fresh Air, Sunshine, 16" Guns... Waitaminute...

My brother, who knows more about battleships than most people know about their kids, will be pleased to hear USS New Jersey is open for overnight stays:

Since opening to the public three years ago, the New Jersey has served as a sort of portal to some of the so-called Greatest Generation's greatest challenges. For most visitors, the standard daytime tour transports them momentarily to the hardships and glories of the Battle of Leyte Gulf, the Marianas and Okinawa invasions. But the more intrepid can chow down in the New Jersey's galley, prowl its decks by night and bunk in its crew quarters.

Of course, he'll have to figure out how to con a 7 year old into going with him. It'll be four years before his is old enough, and I don't know if Jeff can wait that long.

Posted by scott at 09:36 AM | Comments (8)
Mo' Bettah Jedi

Fark is linking up a rumor site that says Star Wars may actually continue to episodes 7, 8, and 9.

The only way I'd see the next set of "Star Wars: Destroying Your Childhood Nostalgia" movies is if Lucas used the proceeds to finance a trip to the moon.


Posted by scott at 08:59 AM | Comments (2)
Wing Nuts, Get Yer Hot Shiny Wing Nuts Here!

Just to prove we're not only about poking fun at the left, we have BushRevealed.com, a web site run by some Darth-Vader-was-such-a-pussy far right Christian bunch.

The problem with politics is not that it brings out the worst in people. The problem is it brings out the crazy in people.

Update: This story does a much better, and more readable, job of summarizing what BR.com is all about.

Via Site-essential.

Posted by scott at 08:28 AM | Comments (1)
January 14, 2004
Farfesha(Joyous Laughter)

Recently I recieved an email from Michelle of this group saying how much she enjoyed the site, to which we really appreciate those kind of comments.

Being the belly dance fan I am, you all need to go check out Farfesha and see what they are about.

Not only is it a site about them, but you get awsome and useful articles, as well as a bazaar and neat links.

So what are you waiting for? Go check them out!

Posted by Ellen at 07:07 PM | Comments (0)

I am at a loss for words.

Naughty but not graphic.

Posted by Ellen at 02:27 PM | Comments (0)
Maybe This Will Get Ellen to Wash Her Car

Road Salt + Parked Car + Moose = Kissy-kissy.

Right now our Cruiser is so covered in the stuff it looks like the top of a Marguerita glass. Of course, it's supposed to snow another 3 inches tonight, so it'll just get coated some more. We counted 32 fender-benders and wrecks on the toll road last week, all because of a sudden 3.5 inch snowfall. Gotta love this place.

Posted by scott at 01:14 PM | Comments (1)
Study: Even a little exercise fends off weight gain

CHICAGO, Illinois (AP) -- Overweight adults who are not on a diet need only a small amount of exercise -- the equivalent of a half-hour of brisk walking per day -- to prevent further weight gain, a study found.

The most noticeable weight loss occurred in those who did the most vigorous exercise -- jogging about 17 miles weekly. They lost an average of nearly eight pounds over eight months, and also shed more than 10 pounds of body fat and gained about 3 pounds of lean body mass on average.

Read entire article here.
Posted by Ellen at 01:12 PM | Comments (0)
Money Money Money

Both Raed and Salaam are blogging about how the new Iraqi Dinar seems to be turning into an amazing success story. They also discuss the ramifications of this success. For once, they all seem to be positive. Of course, since this isn't bleeding or exploding, don't expect to see much coverage in the mainstream media.

On a related note, Ali over at Iraq, the Model has this heartfelt essay on "what should we do?" It has a nice little sound bite:

Iraqis whine mainly because they are free to do so for the 1st time in their life.

Posted by scott at 12:00 PM | Comments (0)
When Junk Mail Attacks

The reach of junk mail amazes me sometimes. Salam Pax is now being recruited as a Republican presidential candidate. I wonder how he got on that mailing list?

Posted by scott at 09:50 AM | Comments (0)
Redneck Relics

Ok, no more making fun of Arabs who think God is scrawling stuff on their kids' cheeks:

David Albury was at home recuperating from surgery several months ago when he noticed the black fur on his cat's back was shaped in the number "3." The fur screamed "Dale Earnhardt" to Albury.

I wonder how long it will be before someone floats the theory that Earnhardt faked his own death. I mean, it worked for Elvis...

Update: Ellen found a picture. Took me a bit to see it.

Posted by scott at 08:42 AM | Comments (0)
Tasteless is...

Jeff gets a no-prize with a coon hound sitting under it for bringing us pictures of "redneck" recreation equipment.

Posted by scott at 08:22 AM | Comments (0)
January 13, 2004
Gunfighter's Last Stand?

Nina gets an aces-and-eights no-prize for bringing us news of new developments in the "Billy the Kid identity case". Seems there's still some controversy as to whether or not "the Kid" was actually shot or not.

Posted by scott at 03:23 PM | Comments (0)
Frikken' Lasers

What do you get when you combine free time and scientists? Well, the Cheese Laser is probably one of the things. Took a couple of tries to get one working that didn't melt/burn/fry the cheese. I guess you gotta cut it somehow.

Kris gets a no-prize made from gorganzola for bringing this... interesting... application of science and technology to our attention.

Posted by scott at 03:20 PM | Comments (2)
Mostly Harmless

Slashdot brings us news that production on a movie version of Hitchiker's Guide to the Galaxy is progressing. Scheduled release date is some time in 2005.

Posted by scott at 01:22 PM | Comments (0)
Investigation Update

Instapundit has e-mail correspondence providing a third update to our "troops pushing kids into a river" story. Right now the investigation seems to be pointing to Iraqi Civil Defence Corps units. More as we find out about it...

Posted by scott at 01:01 PM | Comments (0)

Instapundit linked up what would seem to be the world's first external 1 terabyte HD (in a 5.25 form factor). I got a price quote on one for $990. Damion, our resident mac hardware expert, says the company that makes it "sucks ass" in his opinion, so we won't be advertising them. However, we will promote this account of a very early example of terabyte-level storage from 1970. Robotic manipulation of photographic glass, a thingamajig that looked to fill two very large cabinets. God knows what it cost.

Posted by scott at 12:57 PM | Comments (0)
Rationalizing the Media

Jason Van Steenwyk over at Iraq Now wrote up this insiteful commentary about why the media are suddenly "discovering" soldiers actually leave behind families when they deploy. He also gives a very nice explanation as to why such a practice is a Good Thing:

The idea [behind restructuring the Army so that many functions were part of the reserve] was this: if the Army simply could not go to war in any strength without a large scale reserve call-up, then a far broader sample of communities--and a far broader array of Senators and Representatives in congress--would have a real stake in ensuring that the Army was not foolishly committed, or committed to the field before the populace had committed itself to winning.

This also provides a nice counterpoint to David Hackworth's assertion that the draft should be reinstated because an all-volunteer force is not representative of the country at large.

Posted by scott at 09:10 AM | Comments (1)
Water Water Everywhere?

New Scientist is reporting the Mars rover Spirit may already be seeing signs of water before it even moves off its landing pad:

The first images taken by the craft's mini-Thermal Emission Spectrometer - an infrared instrument capable of indicating the composition of nearby soils and rocks - show evidence of carbonates and hydrated minerals. Both of these are usually, though not exclusively, produced in long-standing bodies of water.

The sooner this thing gets moving, the sooner we find out!

Posted by scott at 08:41 AM | Comments (0)
Darth Vader Deposed

I'm not sure what we're supposed to make of this Washington Post profile of one of Saddam's former secret policemen. Are we supposed to be sympathetic? Is the image of a former Gestapo-analog selling contraband diesel supposed to be scary? Are we supposed to be concerned this thug doesn't like us?

For me, it shows just how juvenile grownups can be when someone takes away all their perqs. Although we did get this great megalomaniacal quote:

[Juwara, the former Iraqi secret policeman,] told of a trip to the Central Bank in Baghdad on a quest for records of his account in Thuluiya. He said the bank records were looted after the war.

"You know what they told me? 'You are from Thuluiya. You are a dog. Go and ask Saddam for the money,' " he recalled. "A few months ago, they would never have treated me like that. They wouldn't dare."

Pardon me if I'm not particularly sympathetic. Sally Field syndrome run amok. We don't need everyone to like us. I'm much more concerned about the trouble a cleric respected by 60% of the population can cause than the whining of someone not particularly liked by even the 20% of the population surrounding him.

Posted by scott at 08:18 AM | Comments (0)
All Your Fires Are Belong to Us

Robotech, meet fire tech, a cool giant fire-fighting Japanese robot. I think Jeff might be able to swing a mechwarrior treehouse, but I'm not so sure about this thing. Maybe he can convince his wife it's a lawnmower?

Posted by scott at 08:04 AM | Comments (0)
January 12, 2004
Fractured Gems

Was digging around on e-bay looking at Ferraris (oh be quiet... I know some of you look at 5 carat diamonds for kicks!) and found readyToFix.com, a site apparently dedicated to moving smashed sports cars, classics, and exotics. They seem to be straight-up about what you're buying, although their definition of "readily fixable" seems pretty liberal.

Posted by scott at 04:01 PM | Comments (0)
Making Stuff Go "Boom"

Back in the days before the "web", the best place to get a general introduction to just about anything was by finding the usenet newsgroup FAQ about it.

One of the better ones was the pyrotechnics FAQ, wherein you learn how to make cool stuff like black powder and thermite. At least as important, you learn how not to make them. Don't laugh... I can think of half a dozen times over the past ten years when some local news story of a fire lead back to a couple of guys screwing around with steel shavings and powdered aluminum. Sometimes the stories go back more than 10 years:

The Hindenburg fabric was found to be made of a cotton substrate with an aluminized cellulose acetate butyrate dopant. The observations of the fire listed above, in fact, are consistent with a huge aluminum fire.

In order to create paint that is not in fact rocket fuel, one must first know how rocket fuel is made, no?

Posted by scott at 02:06 PM | Comments (0)
Investigation Update

Zaydun has posted an extensive update on the story of the two Iraqi boys supposedly pushed into a rushing river by a group of US soldiers. While somewhat more consistent, there are still several inconsistencies and logical problems. However, Zaydun reports that an investigation is already underway, so maybe we'll finally get to the bottom of this.

Posted by scott at 12:09 PM | Comments (0)
An Academic Discussion

Alaa over at The Mesopotamian has been exploring various aspects of the occupation. His current effort brings up many interesting points. Eventually:

The [Middle East] will succumb and fall into the basket like a ripe fruit once the dust settles and the benefits [of the fall of Saddam] begin to materialize and they will, have no doubt. The main thing is that this neo-imperialism is quite different from the old. Rather than aiming at subjugating and enslaving people it aims at freeing and raising their standard so that they may be eligible to join the family of civilized people. The tables are indeed turned[...] almost every meaning is reversed. We should not be afraid of names. Occupation is liberation; Imperialism is benevolent; Resistance is sabotage and directed against the people and their livelihood and has no clear objective and no future; The Right is revolutionary and the Left is reactionary; The Conservatives of yesterday are the optimists who believe in the ability of eastern people for freedom and democracy and the Liberals and Leftists of yesterday are pessimistic and skeptical and even racist about it; and we could go on and on citing this remarkable reversal of things.

He has quite a remarkable insight into our own political culture. Let's hope he's right.

Posted by scott at 12:00 PM | Comments (0)
Come Fly With Me

Also from BBCnews, this summary of the rollout of Virgin GlobalFlyer, the aircraft scheduled to make the world's first non-stop, solo, unrefueld, around-the-world flight (whew!) Steve Fosset, the guy who kept trying to go around the world in a baloon but kept not doing it, will be the pilot. Let's hope everything turns out, as an airplane can break down in many more deadly ways than can a baloon.

Posted by scott at 10:18 AM | Comments (0)
"Tyre" Tracks

BBCnews is carrying this article detailing new efforts by scientists to create a quieter car tire. The impetus is yet another nanny-state EU regulation about car noise. Hey, at least it's not your tax dollars at work! Well, if you live outside Europe at any rate.

Posted by scott at 09:18 AM | Comments (0)
Red v. Blue, Season 2!

Highly appropriate considering we just got done with a Halo LAN party last weekend, Red vs. Blue Season 2 has begun. Download yours today!

Ha-ha! Suck it blue!

Posted by scott at 08:34 AM | Comments (7)
Perchance, to Dream

Just got word that this superb classic Alfa race car is up for sale on e-bay (do a search for TZ1). Now, if I could just find a spare $350,000.

Posted by scott at 08:05 AM | Comments (0)
January 11, 2004
Panic Mouse

This is the latest cat toy in our house. Thanks to a kitty grandma in Arkansas, our cats have gone bonkers over their own robot. So far Ted has decided this is the best damn toy ever!

Posted by Ellen at 06:50 PM | Comments (0)
New diet squeezes in on weight-loss scene

This is the diet I am currently on along with exercise. So far I have lost 15 stubborn baby pounds to date and 3 sizes smaller.

(CNN) -- A new eating-by-numbers method has arrived on the diet scene, and it's not Weight Watchers. Called the South Beach Diet, the plan is poised to overtake the Atkins method as the newest weight-loss rage.

Read entire article here.
Posted by Ellen at 06:43 PM | Comments (0)
FDA rejects silicone breast implant request

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The Food and Drug Administration has rejected a manufacturer's application asking to restore silicone breast implants to the market, the firm said in a statement Thursday.

Instead of approving a return to the market, the FDA on Thursday issued new guidelines for Inamed Corp. and other breast implant manufacturers about assessing the safety and effectiveness of the products before they are available to the public.

Last year, an FDA advisory panel voted 9-6 to resume allowing silicone-type implants, but only if biopsies were conducted when an implant is removed to check for any complications. The panel also recommended that an MRI should be considered if it's suspected that an implant has ruptured.

Read entire article here.

Posted by Ellen at 06:38 PM | Comments (0)
Cat and Bear Odd Couple Reunited in Zoo

BERLIN (Reuters) - Muschi, a small cat that formed an unlikely friendship with a half-ton bear called "mouse" in Berlin Zoo, has been reunited with her companion after pining outside the bear's cage for months, the zoo said Friday.

"They sunbathed together and shared meals of raw meat, dead mice, fruit and bread."

Read entire article here.
Posted by Ellen at 06:32 PM | Comments (0)
A Cat Named Annie

Not to miss! Lots of video footage of a super talented cat.

Posted by Ellen at 05:13 PM | Comments (0)
January 10, 2004
A Little Girl and Her Cat

Olivia and Ajax.


Ajax thinks Olivia has the coolest toys! (the boxes!)

Posted by Ellen at 06:51 PM | Comments (2)
This Day in Weather History

January 10th, 1982

The most uncomfortably cold day ever east of the Rockies, as ranked by the NOAA. The temperature dropped to a bitterly cold -26 degrees F in Chigaco.

Thanks to my very cool weather calendar for the facts!

ps. It is cold here today!

Posted by Ellen at 03:24 PM | Comments (0)
January 09, 2004
Croc Circus

Da Goddess, as someone who seems to actually like ol' Steve Irwin, comes up with some extremely perceptive observations on this whole croc-baby thing. As a pediatric nurse, she's got what they call "the bona fides." I still think it was a bit of a publicity stunt... the stadium was full after all. But da Goddess sets us straight on some of the "meta-politics" that the media (surprise surprise) haven't reported.

Posted by Ellen at 09:23 PM | Comments (0)
Red Vs. Blue, Medieval Style

Damion and I have had several long discussions on the classic history-nerd topic of "which is better, a knight or a samurai?" He knows a lot about the Eastern styles, while I've long been a student of the Western ones. Now, someone who claims to know a great deal about both is taking on the issue. His answer is better informed but essential the same as ours... it depends on far too many factors to make an easy call.

While I can't speak too much to his Asian knowledge, I can say his discussions of Western techniques and technology are bang-on. Like the author, I'm always very surprised that people still think of European knights as crude, brutal, trundling tanks just one unhorsing away from certain death.

The truth was quite the opposite... before the triumph of gunpowder weapons, a knight in plate armor was just about the nastiest thing on the battlefield. They were very well trained and extremely mobile even in full plate armor, horseback or no. Recent tests have shown that even the vaunted English longbow was completely ineffective against them*.

This is not to say samurai are without their own advantages. As I said, and the article relates, it simply means the results of such a hypothetical duel would not be a foregone conclusion. It would instead be, well, very interesting.

Posted by scott at 02:43 PM | Comments (0)
Now That's What I Call Karma

It's been awhile since we've had a good redneck story coming out of Arkansas. Glad the drought has finally broken:

18-year-old Eugene Weston Junior and his cousin planned to drown their pit bull in an old abandoned cotton gin across the street from their home.

The gin hadn't been used in more than 30 years and inside the pit was a thick combination of water, oil, diesel fuel, hydraulic fluid, and dirt. As the son looked into the eight to ten foot pit, he slipped and fell in.

The cousin ran for help and called 9-1-1. That's when the father, 42-year-old Eugene Weston Senior, jumped into the pit after his son.

The pit bull is still alive and unharmed.

But not for long I'd imagine. Trained fighting dogs, especially pit bulls, are not what you'd call "pet quality". The "training", if it can be called that when managed by such as these, would be just as vicious and cruel to a puppy as it would to a child.

I don't take pleasure in anyone's demise, but I can say that people such as this drowning in a pit full of oil, fuel, and chemicals certainly has a poetic ring to it.

Posted by scott at 01:57 PM | Comments (3)
Deep Dives

Also from BBCnews, this detailed article summarizing new efforts to create semi-autonomous remote submarines ("HROVs") for exploring the deepest ocean trenches of the Pacific. While the whole article is quite interesting, I got a giggle from this one:

[The Mid-Atlantic Ridge's] most famous residents may be gigantic tube worms, seen waving to cameras from the porches of their hydrothermal homes.

I just get this picture of a bunch of worms grinning at the scientists, one maybe holding up a sign saying, "Hi mom! Send money!"

Update: An earlier, but related article here gives more historic background and detail on the Marianas trench itself.

Posted by scott at 10:52 AM | Comments (0)
When Politics Attack

In the "and-you-thought-Congress-was-petty" bin we have the diplomatic row between Macedonia and Greece:

The new Macedonian republic, in voting for a new flag ... was immediately interpreted by parties in Greece as a clear statement of territorial ambition.

[It was seen as] a symbolic threat to Greek national identity and its relationship with the past.

Already angry at the use of the name Macedonia, which is also one of Greece's northern provinces, Athens insisted the flag be changed.

It eventually was, becoming the current yellow-and-red Sun flag, and the country agreed to go by the name of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.

Yeah, I know, I'm an insensitive American thug who doesn't even attempt to understand the nuances of this tender issue. Doesn't mean this isn't the dumbest thing I've heard out of the balkans since the media made the "shocking discovery" that ethnic cleansing was about more than making smelly people take showers. Well, take showers in water anyway.

Posted by scott at 10:24 AM | Comments (0)
Must See TV

Just wanted everyone to know that the Speed Channel program, "Victory by Design", is featuring Alfa Romeo this Sunday. But of course, you already knew that and had your VCR/TiVO set for it, right?


Posted by scott at 10:10 AM | Comments (0)
Go Tivo!

Coinciding with the latest Consumer Electronics Show, TiVo has announced a whole slew of new offerings. I especially like the home networking option, as I've been trying to figure out how to get music downloaded from iTunes to my stereo for some time now. Requires a series 2, which we don't got, but might get if we'd ever get off our lazy butts and sign up for sattellite TV. Still, high speed low drag, very nice.

Posted by scott at 10:07 AM | Comments (0)
January 08, 2004
The Drowning Game?

Every morning I do the rounds of our Iraqi blog friends to see what they think is happening over there. The picture can be heartening and troublesome, depending on who I'm reading and what happened to them.

So this morning Salaam led me over to this harrowing entry by Zayed, whom we also blogroll. Now, any time Salaam points out a "must read" from a fellow Iraqi blogger, it's never about our troops doing something good, so I immediately started groaning as I read the article.

However, the longer I read it, the more it sounded like an urban legend. The only thing that kept me from completely dismissing it was Zayed's relation to the author (seems he's a cousin). But the whole thing is riddled with logic errors.

The readers of Instapundit agree, and he provides a very nice sampling of people who can tell exactly why and how.

Personally, I think an investigation should be opened up, but, with due respect to Zayed, I don't think the results will be what his cousin's family are hoping for.

Posted by scott at 04:09 PM | Comments (0)
A Soldier's Soldier

Hackworth.com, a website dedicated to ensuring the "perfumed princes" of the Pentagon don't completely wreck the military and get all our kids killed, is a must-read for anyone wanting to know what's really going on in the military.

"Hack" is something of a bomb-thrower, with ideas and beliefs that would get (and probably has got) him thrown out of even some sympathetic hearings. But as one of the most decorated soldiers alive today, with combat experience in Korea and Vietnam, he definitely has the bona-fides. You may not agree with him, but he's definitely worth listening to.

It surprises me how many people have never heard of the guy. I started disagreeing with him back in the late 80s when he was a regular at Newsweek. Back then I thought he was a wingnut who hated everything about the military. I only understood who he really was just a few years ago, and only with my studies on Vietnam did I comprehend just what a force of nature he was, is, and can be.

So be sure to visit regularly. You may be shocked, you may be angered, but you'll learn more about what's going on at "grunt level" than you would probably anywhere else.

Posted by scott at 03:52 PM | Comments (1)
But What About the Cruising Speed of an Unladen Swallow?

Silflay points out, in no uncertain terms, that there's no such thing as a robin rare enough to worry about a cat eating.

Posted by scott at 12:11 PM | Comments (0)
Running to Sanctuary

There probably aren't any people (in the US at least) between the ages of, say, 33 and 45 who haven't seen Logan's Run, and I'll wager there are a lot of people outside that range who have seen it as well. I think my brother and I watched it every time it was a "movie of the week" on ABC or CBS or NBC (in the 70s cable was something phones used). We were big fans of the TV series too, which was so bad it lasted exactly half of one season. It'd been years since I'd seen either, so when I noticed the movie's listing on TiVo for Turner Classics, I immediately selected it.

Ellen had never seen it at all, and her verdict was, "good lord. Were people in the 70s just retarded? That movie was stoopid."

To which I replied, "Well, it wasn't stupid to a 10 year old. We thought it was slick!"

"You're not 10 years old anymore. You just act that way. What do you think now?"

"Well... it sure has a lot of pretty colors!"

Which is, of course, guyspeak for, "the women aren't wearing much."

Still, it was a pretty movie, so I wondered if there were some trivia resources available for the flick. Sure enough, The Logan's Run FAQ floated right to the top of a google search.

Primarily I was interested in where it was filmed, and sure enough as I suspected it was in a mall. In Texas, of all places. Lots of other cool/funky stuff like extra scenes and continuity goofs, basically everything there is to know about the film and the TV show.

Cheesy? Absolutely. But who doesn't like cheese?

Posted by scott at 10:49 AM | Comments (0)
Contacts + Face Washing = Scary S***!

New Scientist is carrying this article summarizing some freaky-ass news about tap water and contacts. Their advice: if you wear contacts, don't wash your face with tap water. You could catch a really nasty bug that can cause a potentially blinding condition.

On reflection, sounds kind of Weekly-World-News-ish to me. "MAN WASHES FACE WITH TAP WATER AND EYES FALL OUT", sort of thing. Just how rare is rare?

Posted by scott at 09:37 AM | Comments (1)
Old Friends, Long Gone

Fark linked up this space.com article that has some pictures of old Mars landers. Using a technique to help spot the newest landers, they've managed to image both Viking 1 and Mars Pathfinder. Which proves they weren't actually cannibalized for parts by enterprising Martians I guess. However, since the images are still very grainy, I suppose there still could be "L33t Marz HaXoRz OWNED joo!!" spray painted on them somewhere.

Posted by scott at 08:24 AM | Comments (0)
Poor Man's Violence

Battlebots is cool, but battlebots are expensive. Plus, if you're not very good at the end of the day the whole point is to wreck them, which makes it more expensive still. So, some enterprising individuals came up with battlebricks. Same concept, but this time with legos. They're not real fast, they don't seem to be all that violent, but they are cheap and they come apart real good. What's not to love?

Posted by scott at 08:19 AM | Comments (0)
January 07, 2004
Black Hole Sun

Slashdot linked up this interesting article detailing an alternative to black holes. Called "gravastars", these bodies are conjectured to be composed of an exotic and heretofore undiscovered form of matter that is hyperdense and extremely strong. The theory does account for some discrepancies in current black hole observations. However, the article doesn't mention what sort of predictions this new theory makes, and what, if any, sort of tests are being devised to figure them out. Science rocks.

Posted by scott at 02:55 PM | Comments (0)
I Can Smell Your Brains

Joshua gets a very catty No-prize for bringing us this.

Don't forget the sequel.

Posted by Ellen at 01:38 PM | Comments (0)
Stupid is...

Jimspot is noting that the 2003 Darwin Awards have been given out.

Posted by scott at 12:51 PM | Comments (0)
O in Blue

How cute is this baby?


Note the neck rolls. You just want to bite them.

Posted by Ellen at 12:51 PM | Comments (3)
You'll Shoot Your Eye Out, Kid!

Ok, on the list of things to get next Christmas, we have this miniature (armed) remote control-tank. For Olivia. Because she likes radio controlled tanks that shoot 6mm plastic pellets. No, really!

Posted by scott at 12:41 PM | Comments (0)
Mars Mud?

The Washington Post ran this interesting story about something scientists have noticed in the latest series of rover pictures:

The composite image revealed a mysterious substance right at the rover's feet, which scientists described as a "strangely cohesive" clay-like material with alien textures. Spirit exposed the material when it dragged its collapsed air bags across the Martian surface to retract them after its Saturday night bounce-down.

The great thing about a rover, of course, is nothing's out of reach. Assuming it stands up and can move (likely), expect sample reports shortly.

Posted by scott at 08:41 AM | Comments (0)
Bird-lover's cat eats rare robin

Keep an eye on this story. I'm sure in no time we are going to hear the British bitch again about cats eating birds (they ran an article last year on the subject).

Perhaps they will start keeping their cats indoors now?

Posted by Ellen at 06:52 AM | Comments (2)
January 06, 2004
Happy Birthday Aunt Battie

Happy Birthday Aunt Battie!!

Lots of LOVE,
The Baby "O".

Happy Belated Birthday to our good friend Kris (we won't mention the age).

Posted by Ellen at 09:08 PM | Comments (4)
~ S is for Sheeple, That's Good Enough for Me ~

Dammit, Bigwig over at Silflay beat me to tracking the Titanic's band's latest tune. That being, of course, "well, the only thing we can figure is everyone else is just so f-ing stupid!"

One side claiming democracy is failing because the other side keeps not voting for them is a 221 year old staple of the American method of government. It's good to see people haven't changed a damned bit in all that time.

Posted by scott at 08:38 PM | Comments (0)
Century of Conflict?

Meryl linked up this intriguing essay on "our own 100 years war":

The First World War led to the shattering of three imperial systems, and it is not too much to say that the world is still struggling with their demise and that of the international system of which they were so integral a part.

In World War II we dealt with Nazi Germany, the successor to the Germanic empires. In the Cold War, we dealt with the Soviet Union, the successor to the tsarist Russian Empire. Now we are grappling with those who followed the Ottomans.

The main body of the essay provides several concrete points as to why Reagan is increasingly seen as one of the most important post-WWII presidents, something Joshua and I were discussing a few months back.

Posted by scott at 01:17 PM | Comments (0)
Anchors Aweigh

Jeff gets a flat-top no-prize for bringing us this article detailing how the USS Midway is being transformed into the country's largest naval aviation museum.

Jeff has a book on carriers that deal with them as ships, instead of floating airstrips, and it had these things to say about the Midway class*:

  • There were three of them, Midway, Franklin Roosevelt, and Coral Sea.
  • They were the supercarriers of their day, created as the absolute answer to Pacific aggression.
  • They had two large design flaws. One, over-compartmentalization, meant hundreds of tiny rooms that made them difficult to live in and fight with. They were also top-heavy, and only got heavier as time went on, making them comparatively unseaworthy.
  • FDR ran aground in the mid 60s, damaging her so badly she was decomissioned and scrapped. As noted in the article, both Midway and Coral Sea continued to serve for a very long time.
  • Coral Sea was scrapped in Baltimore during the '90s, not far from the inner harbor. Jeff, our familial navy nut, was pontificating how Baltimore harbor was interesting but had no real military ships when I first moved out here in '96. "Oh, you mean like that carrier over there?" I pointed out as we exited the I-895 harbor tunnel. Swear to God, you could almost hear the cartoon BOING!!! as he nearly got us in an accident trying to figure out what it was.
  • Midway is, as noted, getting turned into a museum. All the other carrier museums are Essex-class, a smaller WWII design. It'll be the largest until some organization manages to snag a Forrestal class or Enterprise when it is finally retired.

Now if I can just figure out how to get out there some day.

Posted by scott at 12:19 PM | Comments (0)
Musical Borg?

It would appear that Microsoft has decided to take on Apple's iPod:

At the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Microsoft is expected to give new details about a line of portable devices that, in the view of some analysts, could give the popular iPod an extra measure of competition.

I'm not so sure. The thing is too big and too expensive to be seen as a direct competitor, but stranger things have happened (X-box, anyone?)

Time for Apple to start dancing a little faster.

Posted by scott at 10:56 AM | Comments (0)
No Better

Instapundit brings us news of Spirit of America, a site taking donations to help the 1st Marine Division buy things like medical equipment, school supplies, even frisbees, to help them in the "hearts and minds" campaign when they re-deploy to the Sunni triangle in February and March. I sent them a modest amount, which should still be enough to get me in some nice hot water with Ellen, because paypal made me use "auction money." Maybe now she'll get her own account?

Of course we should note it's a sad state of affairs when the Marines find it easier and more cost-effective to ask for donations instead of wading through Pentagon red tape to raise money. Suggesting we cash in a V-22 or two for a "hearts and minds" account would result in impressive screams from the high brass you know.

Posted by scott at 09:51 AM | Comments (1)
Fish or Cut Bait

In the "don't-develop-a-pen-use-a-pencil" science bin we have this BBCnews report on how India is using fish for malaria control. Guppies, even. Seems they have a taste for the skeeter larvae, and in some places have nearly eradicated them.

As someone who was raised in a mosquito-infested river delta, I can only say whatever kills the blasted things must be good.

Posted by scott at 09:42 AM | Comments (1)

Tired of trying to figure out just which god is right for you? The God of the Month Club is for you! I wonder what their purchase obligation is?

Posted by scott at 09:23 AM | Comments (0)
Heebie-Jeebie Follow-up

As suspected, the world's largest python shrank quite a bit when someone who wasn't charging for tickets to see it got out a measuring tape. Still, an 18 foot long snake is quite enough thank you very much. Ellen's probably shivering just reading this.

Posted by scott at 08:15 AM | Comments (0)
January 05, 2004
Gallows Humor

Ok. I like black humor, in case you haven't noticed. It's gotten me in trouble before. So...

If you didn't think "Pulp Fiction" was funny, or if you thought Sweeney Todd was simply too grisley to be made fun of, I just want you to stop right now and think about, oh, I dunno, this.

Ok, now that the morality police have gone, everyone else should enjoy Dignity, Atonement, and "Bernie", which is a war story easily on par with my grandad's stories of a live shell landing in the back of his jeep or "dead Fritz" the bridge guard. The "DEAD HAJI STORAGE" sequence is easily worth the price of admission.

Yes, I know. I'm an evil, heartless, vile, and brutish American for thinking it's even vaguely amusing. By highlighting such cruel indignity I only prove our nation has no business being the lone superpower.

Hell, I'll even feel guilty for you. No, really!

As long as you didn't mind me giggling while I do so.

Posted by scott at 09:47 PM | Comments (2)
Mythbusting, First-Amendment Style

Instapundit brings us this nice critique of conservative chicken-little-ism about "attacks on the first amendment":

[T]his loss of liberty stems from liberals' disdain for the text of the Constitution, and liberal judges' willingness to make law, instead of simply applying it. Soon we will lose the freedom of speech that Americans have long taken for granted.

That's the story I've been hearing from many of my conservative and libertarian correspondents. And it's just plain false.

Nina once showed me a site where you got to rate the one-minute efforts of various filmmakers' takes on Mr. Bush. The vast majority were, not surprisingly, virulently negative.

The irony of hundreds of erstewhile "indie" filmmakers bleating about their government's heavy-handed censorship and oppression, on a public forum, was not lost on either of us.

Posted by scott at 07:26 PM | Comments (0)
Well Why Not

Well, if your ashes have to spend eternity somewhere, why not a Looney-Toons cookie jar?

Heh... now lets see if I can get one of those on e-bay in time for Mom's birthday...

Posted by scott at 05:15 PM | Comments (1)
It's Life, Jim, but not as We Know it

Space.com is carrying this article detailing just how, or if, scientists would even be able to recognize exotic extra-terrestrial life.

Well, the stuff that isn't pointing a raygun at you at least.

Posted by scott at 05:06 PM | Comments (0)
PETA, meet Jail, Jail, meet PETA

Ok, now while I think efforts to throw mo' betta' laws at PETA asshats is a good idea, as a small-government advocate I'm afraid I have to come down against this one.

But it should be remembered that, as a private-property-rights advocate, I think you should be able to shoot tresspassers.

Posted by scott at 04:56 PM | Comments (1)
Praise the Lord and Pass GTA III

Landover Baptist hits another one out of the park with their latest salvation offer... find Jesus and get a free PlayStation 2!

The great thing about LBC is you're just not quite sure if it's a joke or not. It took Joshua explaining it to me twice, and I'm still not sure I believe him. He tends to talk me into stuff ocassionally you know.

Posted by scott at 04:40 PM | Comments (1)
Sounds Like a Bush-ism to Me, But...

Ambigrams, a sequence of letters that read the same way from multiple directions. Trust me, you'll like this one.

Posted by scott at 01:00 PM | Comments (0)
Reindeer Games Indeed

New Scientist is carrying this article summarizing recent findings of a new archeological site in northern Siberia. Turns out people were roaming that area far earlier than previously thought... about 30,000 years ago. There are some indications these people may be related to the Clovis people who ended up settling North America some fifteen thousand years later, but a firm connection has not been made just yet.

Posted by scott at 09:18 AM | Comments (0)
January 04, 2004
And the DUmbass of the Week Award goes to!

STEVE Irwin sparked outrage yesterday when he held his baby son a metre from the mouth of a crocodile at his Queensland zoo.

Child advocates branded the Crocodile Hunter reckless for holding one-month-old Bob while feeding the giant crocodile a dead chicken.

Read entire article with photo here.

You don't need to teach a 4 week old to be 'croc savy'. Irwin at this point is no better than Jackson dangling his kid over a railing.

ps. His wife is just as fucking nuts as he is. If you have not seen it, try to catch the rerun of them on Larry King.

Posted by Ellen at 07:00 PM | Comments (6)
Babylon 5 Redux?

Meryl brings word that Babylon 5 may be making a comeback. I started watching "B5" because it was the only well-mixed Dolby pro-logic series on TV at the time (ST:TNG was good, but the sound sucked ass). I stayed because the characters were cool and the stories were interesting. I even got Ellen hooked on it, which lead to this somewhat surreal exchange (after, oh, about 3-4 glasses of wine):

Ellen: "Yeah, that Sheridan guy is ok I guess. But I like that other one..."

Me: "Garibaldi?"

Ellen: "No no no. The other one. The one with the funny eyes."

Me: "Lennier?"

Ellen: "No goddammit!" [scene changes on TV] "Him"

Me: "G'Kar?!?"

Ellen: "Yeah. I like him. I think he's sexy."

At which point I took away the wine. Well, more likely I probably just drank it.

Where was I... oh, yeah... anyway, while not quite on the level of Farscape (which didn't get a nice neat ending like B5 did), this is still worth watching.

Posted by scott at 04:51 PM | Comments (2)
GI Jane

Ok, while I am the resident expert on toys for male children (and therefore am responsible for purchasing gifts for all such animals in our family), Ellen is the resident expert for chick toys. Her take on this interesting item is, "something you'd get for a girl who's mom is in the Army." So we'll go with that. Personally I think the SAW is a nice touch.

However, I have been put on notice such things will not in fact extricate me from my pending Barbie doom.

Posted by scott at 04:33 PM | Comments (3)
Well, He's Got as Good a Chance as the Rest

This is just to make sure the yellow-dog peanut gallery is still paying attention. They've been awful quiet lately... too quiet.

T.B.! T.B.! He's Our Man! If He Can't Do It No One Can!

A guy who's as charming as Bill but who can keep his hands off the help. What's not to love?

Posted by scott at 04:04 PM | Comments (2)
Taxi Tales

Omar from Iraq the Model brings us a description of a conversation he had recently while sharing a taxi with 3 strangers. Sometimes I think they'll be Ok, I really do.

Posted by scott at 03:58 PM | Comments (0)
Britney Said to Tie the Knot - But How Tight?

Ok, Britney is now just being stupid.

LAS VEGAS (Reuters) - Wearing a baseball cap and on the arm of a hotel bellman, pop star Britney Spears married a childhood friend in a Las Vegas wedding ceremony on Saturday, according to published reports.

Read entire store here.

No-Prize to Rich for the Britney update!

Posted by Ellen at 03:44 PM | Comments (1)
Animal Shelters Prepare for Influx of Returned Pets

Shelter workers are bracing for an increase in the number of animals they will have to care for as people given pets for Christmas decide the lovable gift really is a hassle.

Starting about a week after Christmas, the reality of caring for a new pet sets in and people often turn the animal over to a shelter, said Nick Braden, a spokesman for The Humane Society of the United States.

See entire story here.

This brings me to step up on my soap box once again.

"Oh puh-leeezeee! can I have that kitten!? I promise I'll feed him and change the litter and everything! Puh-leeeeze!?!"

Same goes for the dogs.

"Pleeeaseee Mom and Dad! I want a puppy really bad! I promise I'll feed and walk him all the time! You won't have to do a thing!"

Then the parents realize one day as they set the food bowl down, go out walking their new family addition, or scooping out the litterbox that they are doing what the small person in the family promised to do. Suddenly an hour or two of time out of their day to care for an animal becomes too much time to give.

That kitten/puppy has to go back to the shelter in hopes that it will get adopted again, or god forbid some schmuck tosses it out a car window on the side of the road. People too stupid to realize that the kitten they gave back could have been a lifetime companion for someone in that house. A companion that never tells your secrets, always enjoys a warm lap, and loves you unconditionally. A puppy that looks foward to your company everyday. That sits and waits for you at the door faithfully knowing that you are going to return and rub it's belly again. The dog that helped you lose those stubborn 10 holiday pounds from all of those walks.

I have no sympathy for those out there who return holiday pets. I have sympathy for the poor creatures that think they are going to be loved but get returned like a sweater.

Makes you wonder why people need a license to own a pet, but not to have children.

Posted by Ellen at 03:32 PM | Comments (2)
'Stang Stuff

Well, looks like we're finally getting a look at the new Mustang. This seems to be the first real styling break in the series since 1979. Personally, I think it looks kinda nifty, although I won't say that around my brother. Struts and a live axle mean it won't be worrying the road-race crowd, but a V-8 should please the folks who think races should be over in less than 1500 feet.

Posted by scott at 03:28 PM | Comments (2)
We Are Here --> MARS

Just in case you've been living under a rock, the Mars rover Spirit touched down safe & sound last night. We watched it live. You'd never think watching a bunch of science geeks stare at computer monitors would be exciting, but boy was it intense. What was funny was it took the newsies a good half hour before they started reporting a successful touchdown. Go Spirit!

Posted by scott at 03:13 PM | Comments (1)
January 03, 2004
Gothic Motor Sports

"We are the oldest Hearse racing group in America Never advertised - Never boring - Always a blast".

Don't forget to check out the coffin drag racer!

The site is under construction, but worth a look!

Posted by scott at 07:33 PM | Comments (0)
Ice Pop

Olivia and the ice pop. Or whats left of the ice pop my sister Nina was sharing with her.

Note how long the tongue has to come out of the mouth for maximum ice pop enjoyment.


Mind you this pix was taken before the "Baby O" got sick this week.

Posted by scott at 05:12 PM | Comments (2)
At Least They Don't Make One for Cats

Tired of soggy dogs? Well, the dog umbrella is for you!

Somehow I don't see my brother's dogs sprouting these any time soon.

Posted by scott at 04:50 PM | Comments (1)
Just Add... Ummm... Well...

First ghosts in jars, now dehydrated water. My mom's the shopaholic's shopaholic, but I think even she will pass on this one.

Posted by scott at 04:47 PM | Comments (1)
Have Walker, Will Travel

For the Star Wars nut in your life who has everything, how about a 1/2 scale AT-ST. For those cretins not in the know, the AT-ST is the "chicken walker", the smaller one that Chewbacca steals in the third movie. For once we're glad Richie doesn't have a lot of room in his apartment!

Yeah, sorry, auction link. Check it before it expires!

Update: I personally think the battlemech tree house is much cooler. Hmmm... who do I know who is a Mechwarrior nut, has a huge back yard, and a three-year-old son to provide cover for this project...

Posted by scott at 12:30 PM | Comments (1)
Stardust Memories

Well, at least one of these probes seems to have worked. Reports are that the Stardust comet mission has completed its close encounter, and should be returning its samples to earth in '06. Space.com has these cool pictures of the space snowball.

Today a comet, tomorrow Mars? Keep your fingers crossed!

Posted by scott at 12:15 PM | Comments (0)
January 02, 2004
The Petri Principle

Everyone's home now, fine as possible. The cute little germ vector has given us both her flu. I spent all of last night sitting on the toilet with a bucket in my lap, and apparently Ellen's experience wasn't too different. Never lick the pacifier of a sick baby so it'll go in her mouth easier!

I've been sicker in the last six months than I have in the last six years. I used to think it was funny when my co-workers were constantly inflicted with colds and flu while I stayed hale & healthy. Had I been paying attention, I would've noticed they all had small children.

Posted by scott at 09:45 PM | Comments (2)
January 01, 2004
Happy New Year to Us

Some people get champagne, others party hats and buzzers. Us? We get a kid with "Rohdodendron" virus (or something like that). Projectile puking started exactly at 6 pm yesterday, and repeated every fifteen minutes almost like clockwork. 9 pm saw us in the emergency room, and we celebrated new year's watching the doctor take her pulse.

Well, everything's going to be fine. They're keeping her under observation for 48 hours, which means we're doing shifts between the hospital and home. Tonight is Ellen's overnight shift (mine was last night's), hopefully everyone will be home by tomorrow.

There's probably plenty of funny in what happened, but I'm just too tired to cook it up. Maybe tomorrow...

Posted by scott at 06:49 PM | Comments (6)