March 31, 2004
Bicycle Facts

While a bit on the "gee-whiz!" side, this little explanation of bicycling does provide seemingly-conclusive proof that my favorite two-wheeled exercise system is one of, if not the, most efficient form of locomotion on the planet.

Posted by scott at 02:49 PM | Comments (3)
TCB baby, TCB

There's campaign ads, and then there's campaign ads. Those of you who've sent various wacky anti-Bush ads my way are, of course, obliged to sit through the whole thing.

Posted by scott at 01:06 PM | Comments (1)
Surf Titan

Now that the Cassini probe is nearly to Saturn, some scientists decided to see just what an ocean would look like on Titan, if one actually exists:

Wind speeds of 20 km/h produce waves five metres high (16 feet). This is seven times as high as those produced on Earth by the same wind speed, although Titan's lower gravity makes the waves more widely spaced and slower moving.

It'll take the Huygens probe's final decent to find out for sure, but it definitely sounds exciting.

Posted by scott at 10:57 AM | Comments (1)
When True Believers Attack

This is looking to be a "cheerleading" day, so the Yellow-Dog Peanut Gallery may just want to... well, now hang on, I always give you pinkos a fair hearing (oh yes I do! I do so! Stop throwing shoes!), so let's just stick with the facist for awhile, eh?

Anyway, this one's for all the times one or another of you have dredged up some particularly nasty right-winger as an example of what you're "saving" the country from:

It's certainly a misconception that Democrats are eloquent, sophisticated, sensitive, and therefore beyond the knavish dirt commonly attributed to the "right-wing attack dog." Last week, I found no difference between the two.
"Just saw the plug by Rush . . . Congrats!" wrote a professional acquaintance with dry humor. "It is a shame, though, that your piece should be placed in the service of evil."

The author is a registered Democrat writing for the Village Voice, I'll have you know.

"Yeah yeah yeah, so we Democrats have a few nutty relatives locked in the attic, so what? The Republicans are in charge!" Well what the hell do you think will happen if you guys win? Eh? The crazies aren't let out, they pick the locks when nobody's looking. Pardon me for being just as frightened of your loons as you are of mine.

And don't look at me like that. I'm the libertarian wacko, remember? I think they're all a bunch of carpetbaggers with smiles on their faces and crowbars in their hands.

Via Site Essential.

Posted by scott at 10:08 AM | Comments (0)
More Than Meets the Eye?

Robert H. gets a giant robotic no-prize for bringing us Vehicle to autonomous biped robot conversion for the Mini Cooper r50. That's full size Mini to you, bud.

The photos and videos are amazing, but there's definitely a credibility gap for me. It is quite possible, even easy if you know the right people, to create all of this in CGI. With a really good rig it's just about impossible to tell the difference between the real and the virtual. Bottom line: until I see this thing in full-size, full-motion video I'm going to call it an entertaining hoax.

Posted by scott at 08:52 AM | Comments (1)
March 30, 2004
Putting a Period on it

Lynn Truss is mad as hell at Britain's punctuation habits, and she's not taking it any more:

Taking a zero tolerance approach to grammatical lapses, she wrote a sprightly guide to punctuation, "Eats, shoots and leaves," that has sold more than half a million copies in Britain alone and soared to the top of bestseller lists.
But she will not cast the first stone at the Americans, often mocked by the haughty British for bastardizing their mother tongue ... "My sense of it is that British English is worse actually than American English. I think Americans really like rules. I think we in Britain are very slapdash and don't care if we are right or wrong."

Ha! Take zat you henglish pig-dogz!

Posted by scott at 02:29 PM | Comments (2)
The Sum of all Bats

Scientific American is carrying this article summarizing new discoveries concerning how bats navigate in the dark in the presence of accoustically complex objects like trees and bushes. Turns out they probably do a statistical summary to construct a mental model of the terrain and use that to keep from running into trees. Personally I really would've liked to see just how these experiments were done. Messing with someone's head is always the highlight of cognitive experiments.

Posted by scott at 12:32 PM | Comments (0)
Super Chopper

Probably all of us have seen "Funniest Videos" moments when someone turns a very expensive, very fragile RC aircraft into funny colored matchsticks by driving it into a tree. Ever wonder what it's supposed to look like when someone who knows what they're doing is at the controls? Wonder no more (note: WMV video file).

Easily the most impressive display of aerobatics I have ever seen anywhere. I had no idea you could make an RC helicopter do things like that, and at first thought the damned thing was hung on a wire or something. I wonder if you could do these things in a real helicopter? Probably so, if it were strong and powerful enough, but I wouldn't want to be inside!

Highly recommended.

Posted by scott at 10:59 AM | Comments (6)
Extreme Vacations

Now, personally I'd go for one of those F-1 race tours in a heartbeat, but that's just me. You might want to blow up a cow instead:

Pressing them further on price, [the Cambodian Army's tourist center] announced their special combo was a cow and a rocket-launcher for US$400: US$200 for each. On the bright side, you got to keep your US$200 for the cow if you missed.

Can you say, "Monty Python"? I knew you could...

Posted by scott at 09:46 AM | Comments (1)
Well Why Not?

We're already something like #2 when you search for "women mechanics" on google, so I figured this story about two high school girls building their own demolition derby cars would fit right in:

Kofa High School senior [Lindsey Strickland] and her childhood friend, Jessica Jorajuria, have spent hours of free time working on their cars to compete again at the Yuma County Fair's Demolition Derby.

Now, personally I'd prefer Olivia to go into go-kart racing and then become the first female F-1 champion, but that's just me. Her biggest problem would be keeping the old man out of the car.

Posted by scott at 08:25 AM | Comments (1)
March 29, 2004
Screwups of Death

Ellen will probably find this list of botched executions interesting, but don't expect much sympathy from her. She's of the "hangin's too good for 'em" school of capital punishment.

The "botched" lethal injection executions sound a lot like what Ellen describes happening very occasionally when very old or very sick cats are put down. However, she's emphatic that this happens well after death has ocurred. I wonder if that's what's happening here?

Posted by scott at 03:06 PM | Comments (5)
I Got My Pencil

Robert H. gets an intricately carved no-prize for bringing us pencil carving, artwork done using one of the most common tools in the world.

Posted by scott at 02:20 PM | Comments (1)
Guns Don't Kill People, Ovens Do

My mom is famous for storing flammable items like pizza boxes in her oven. We tend to store big cookie sheets and cast-iron pans in it. But this bunch from Texas has got us all beat:

A woman was shot in the hip Friday morning while cooking a meal after the heat of the oven discharged a .357 revolver that she didn't know was hidden inside.

What's in your oven that shouldn't normally be there?

Posted by scott at 11:55 AM | Comments (3)
It Contains Much Zoom

I missed it, so some of you may have as well. Over the weekend, NASA's X-43A aircraft reached Mach 7. This represents a major breakthrough in high-speed propulsion, as it's the first time a scramjet has managed to go this fast.

Also interesting, but unremarked, is the fact that NASA's still using their old B-52B for test drops. According to Air & Space Magazine (as I recall), it was beginning to get very expensive to operate this aircraft, as it is the oldest operational B-52 in existence and doesn't share a lot of parts with the models the Air Force has on inventory. The plan was to buy an H model from the Air Force and adapt that, but apparently that hasn't happened yet.

Posted by scott at 10:30 AM | Comments (1)
Martian Farts?

BBCnews is carrying this article summarizing a somewhat startling discovery about Mars:

Methane has been found in the Martian atmosphere which scientists say could be a sign that life exists today on Mars.
There are two possible sources: either active volcanoes, none of which have been found yet on Mars, or microbes.

Posted by scott at 09:31 AM | Comments (2)
Calling all Cars

My alfa digest buddies linked up, the most comprehensive Formula 1 site I've found to date. News, features, schedules, and a very nice encyclopedia/history section round out their extensive collection. Recommended for any race fan who enjoys seeing race cars turn right occasionally.

Posted by scott at 08:18 AM | Comments (2)
March 28, 2004
The Scariest Christmas

Interesting belly dancer meets goth crowd type story.

I cannot wait for the comments!

Posted by Ellen at 09:58 PM | Comments (1)
March 27, 2004
Ghost Town

Slashdot linked up Ghost Town, the pictorial story of a Russian woman who enjoys riding her motorcycle through the "dead zone" around Chernobyl. Yes, that Chernobyl. Apparently as long as you stay on the roads, and you don't spend the night, it's quite safe to traverse nowadays. That doesn't mean I'm going to do it any time soon, but it does make for some fascinating pictures.

Posted by scott at 06:08 PM | Comments (0)
Happy Birthday Coconut!

Happy 8th Birthday Coconut!

Posted by Ellen at 08:27 AM | Comments (7)
March 26, 2004

How evil are you?

Found via Dawn Desiree's Live Journal. She came up as good.

Posted by Ellen at 05:13 PM | Comments (2)
Real-life Lechter

The true crime fans in the audience will find this chilling account of the re-emergence of the "BTK" killer interesting:

After 25 years of silence, police have apparently heard again from the BTK Strangler, a serial killer who terrorized the city during the 1970s.

My mom was all about true crime in the 90s. As I recall she said something about the FBI tracking something like a dozen of these maniacs across the country. No faces, no names, just dead people showing up occasionally with the same MO. Sleep well tonight folks!

Posted by scott at 12:49 PM | Comments (2)
Boob Bag

Proof positive that fashion has absolutely no connection with taste, reality, or common sense, we have the $150 (to start) Janet Jackson Boob Purse:

New York's celebrated wearable art designer, Edwin Atkins, will honor this political and social event with his latest creation. The "JANET" This handmade leather black lambskin bag is molded around a 34C bra, complete with soft foam breast, sunburst nipple shield and stud.

Well, since it doesn't have a cat on it, I know it won't end up in our house!

Posted by scott at 09:21 AM | Comments (1)
Fusion Coming Out of the Cold?

Jeff gets a no-prize in a cup of water for bringing us this NY Times piece about the Energy Department taking a second look at cold fusion:

Despite being pushed to the fringes of physics, cold fusion has continued to be worked on by a small group of scientists, and they say their figures unambiguously verify the original report, that energy can be generated simply by running an electrical current through a jar of water.

It'll be interesting to see what, if anything, comes of this. From the little I've read, I'd be leaning more toward some bizzare chemical process than fusion itself. But you never know!

Posted by scott at 08:10 AM | Comments (3)
March 25, 2004

I will not speed through the toll barrier
I will not speed through the toll barrier
I will not speed through the toll barrier
I will not speed through the toll barrier

A PT Cruiser is taller than the swing-arm of a toll booth
A PT Cruiser is taller than the swing-arm of a toll booth
A PT Cruiser is taller than the swing-arm of a toll booth
A PT Cruiser is taller than the swing-arm of a toll booth

Rush hour is not a time to play chicken with the toll plaza
Rush hour is not a time to play chicken with the toll plaza
Rush hour is not a time to play chicken with the toll plaza
Rush hour is not a time to play chicken with the toll plaza

I deserve to be punched when I make the toll booth arm bonk on the car
I deserve to be punched when I make the toll booth arm bonk on the car
I deserve to be punched when I make the toll booth arm bonk on the car
I deserve to be punched when I make the toll booth arm bonk on the car

There Ellen. Happy? Can I come upstairs now?

Posted by scott at 07:42 PM | Comments (4)
Better to Ignore you With

Lilly, a six-month old black and white house cat with four ears is seen in a home for animals in Murnau, southern Germany on March 24, 2004. A four-eared German kitten has been given a new home after a German animal shelter was deluged with requests to adopt the animal born six months ago with the genetic defect.

See totally cute cat pix here.

Found via Amish Tech Support.

Posted by Ellen at 06:26 PM | Comments (2)
Terror Class

My @#$@ Washington Post delivery has been late the past few days, so I missed out on this article detailing a very interesting kind of social studies class available at several DC area colleges:

In the view of [Professor Dennis Pluchinsky], a veteran State Department analyst, the only way to understand terrorism is to understand how its practitioners think. So the centerpiece of a popular course he teaches as an adjunct professor at several Washington area universities is nothing less than a hypothetical plan of attack.

To me, it sounds similar in intent to the nuclear war classes that were available when I was in college back in the '80s. The professor is right to be very careful. I could definitely see some brown-nosing fed deciding to "make an example" of all this to push a career.

Via Bigwig.

Posted by scott at 03:37 PM | Comments (0)
I Wonder Where You Put it to Make That Work?

Not content with adding cameras, cellphone manufacturers seem to be attempting to literally stuff the kitchen sink into their creations:

  • The Encyclo-phone, containing the entire Encyclopedia Brittanica, complete with full-motion video illustrations;
  • The Defenderfone, with a 200-volt stun gun and a design reminiscent of "Star Trek" "phaser" weapons;
Although none of these imaginative features have much hope of adoption by major handset makers, Prophy-Lectric's Nippit 3000 electronic spermicide has a fighting chance to beat the odds and show up in every responsible single's mobile phone before this year's New Year's Eve parties.

Yup, that's right folks. There's now even an add-in for you horny cellphoners who don't have time for a condom. I was going to ask, "what will they think of next?", but I'm pretty sure I just don't want to know.

Update: Busted. It's a hoax. Gah. You'd think by now I'd know to read the whole article before commenting on it. Of course, if I did that, I wouldn't be much of a blogger, would I?

Posted by scott at 02:37 PM | Comments (1)
No, Eet's Flat Like Your Head...

I'd always heard about the Flat Earth Society, but never really in very much detail. Then I found this 24 year old interview with its founder, which provides a very nice summary. Also gives an insight into what it's like to talk to a person who's nominatively sane yet completely off their rocker. Has some interesting post-scripts at the very end.

To see if the FES was still around after its founder's demise, I did a google search on the name. I ended up with a bunch of sites claiming to be the FES, but on examination I'm of the opinion they're all hoaxes. It would seem either the FES died with Mr. Schadewald, or his successors have yet to "discover" the Internet.

Posted by scott at 01:08 PM | Comments (0)
Peacock Time

Jeff gets a no-prize in living color for letting us know today is the 50th anniversary of color television. I'm not quite old enough to remember an all black-and-white TV world, but I do distinctly recall NBC's peacock animation proudly declaring late-60s shows to be "in living color".

I can remember being completely shocked when I found out my parents could remember a time before TV. TV was always there... it was outrageous to think of it as transitory. Of course, that was just one shocking thing. Olivia will probably be amazed that her folks can remember any number of "times before"... internet, CDs, flat TVs, etc.

Posted by scott at 11:52 AM | Comments (1)
Missile Matters

While I'm pretty sure this Wired bit about "how to avoid a heat seeking missile" is somewhat tounge-in-cheek, it does have some very valid points. It also, however, misses an equal number.

Caveat: I am not a missileer, nor am I a pilot. What follows is what I've gathered through decades of reading military hardware specs (in my spare time, for fun, yes, I'm really that weird), and fighting against these things in various hyper-accurate simulators:

Fun facts you may not know about missiles meant to knock down planes:

  • Anti-air missiles, at least the sort that terrorists would use to take a shot at airliners (called "manpads"), are primarily designed to destroy helicopters and single-seat fighters. They have relatively small warheads, usually less than 60 pounds worth of explosives. Compare this with the "small" 500 pound bombs normally used to plink tanks and the "large" 2000 pound bombs used to knock down bridges.
  • Manpads are designed to work in comparatively narrow launch envelopes, and are quite limited in range. Even the nasty ones are limited to about a two miles, but are usually really effective at only half that distance.
  • While this may seem an awfully long distance, it's important to remember modern jetliners actually move pretty fast, and cover that fairly rapidly even at normal speeds. It also means airliners are vulnerable to these things only during takeoff and landing, very close to the airport.
  • As noted above, these missiles are designed to neutralize comparatively small targets. That's neutralize, not destroy. While nasty indeed against helicopters, it's quite common for even small fighters to fly home after being hit with one of these things.
  • A jetliner, being several orders of magnitude larger than a fighter, is much more likely to simply absorb the damage one of these systems does and keep going, at least long enough to make an emergency landing.

Are manpads still a danger to airliners? Absolutely. An airplane is not a tank, it is light and finely engineered and not good at being bounced around or having holes punched in it. However, a large civil airliner is probably one of the aircraft most likely to survive an encounter with a manpad.

Bottom line: yes, they're a threat, but not a big enough one to keep me from flying.

Posted by scott at 10:03 AM | Comments (3)
When Scientists Attack

Sarah gets a latinate no-prize for letting us know caterpillars aren't the only things scientists give funny names to. I personally like Ittibittium houbrick myself.

Posted by scott at 08:00 AM | Comments (0)
March 24, 2004
Walking 15 Minutes a Day Won't Prevent Obesity

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Walking briskly for 15 minutes each day is not sufficient to burn off the extra calories in the diet, new research reports.

Reporting in the American Journal of Public Health, the researchers found that if every single adult walked briskly for 15 minutes each day, the total amount of extra energy expended each day would average out to significantly less than the extra amount each average person eats.

Read entire article here.

Posted by Ellen at 08:36 PM | Comments (0)
Body found believed to be missing porn actress

NORRISTOWN, Pennsylvania (AP) -- The body of a woman believed to be a missing Canadian porn actress was found in a ravine in Pennsylvania, and a man was arrested in the death, prosecutors said Wednesday.

The family of 23-year-old Natel King, who was known by the stage name Taylor Sumers, was notified that the body was found near the Schuylkill River Tuesday.

Read entire article here.

Hey Rich, do you have an autograph from this chick? It may be worth $ soon.

Posted by Ellen at 08:18 PM | Comments (3)
Jaw Shrinks, Brain Grows?

Jeff gets a jaw-shaped no-prize for bringing us this interesting summary of a new genetic finding in human origins research. A group of biologists and, of all things, a team of plastic surgeons have discovered a single mutation related to jaw size that may have been what kicked the genus Homo down the road to, well, us.

Unfortunately the article is long on sensationalism and very short on cogent details, so some of it doesn't make much sense. Still, a very interesting finding, hopefully BBCnews or NewScientist will put up a more detailed article soon. But you heard it here first! :)

Update: Yup, New Scientist has a much better summary. AP had better quotes (Wolpoff and Lovejoy are two of the top scientists in the field), but kudos to NS for actually explaining the damned thing.

Posted by scott at 03:04 PM | Comments (0)
Punctuated Equilibrium

Everyone knows that insects are the most numerous complex life form on the planet (well, everyone should... toldja that biology was important!) But hardly anyone thinks about what sort of implication this would hold for actually naming the damned things. Well, wonder no more, as we are proud to present Polygonia comma and Polygonia interrogationis, possible the very first life forms on earth to be named after puntuation marks.

Posted by scott at 11:59 AM | Comments (1)
"Rock" Art

BBCnews is carrying this summary of the recent re-discovery of what could be the very first confirmed concert venue. Found in southern India, the Kupgal Hill site contains rocks with special depressions in them that when struck ring out distinctive notes. Dating to paleolithic times, it is thought the rocks and their accompanying artwork were used in shamanistic rituals.

Posted by scott at 09:38 AM | Comments (0)
Hell is for Foil Hats?

Into our growing collection of medication-wobblers we now add Citizen Hell, a site that seems to be about music, hell, and a really really annoying soundtrack. I mean, what's not to love:

This is the most UGLY and frightening song you will ever hear! If it doesn't scare you then its because you're SAVED or you're REPROBATE!

Ah well, guess I better get in line then. I'll be sure to save you a spot!

Posted by scott at 08:03 AM | Comments (1)
March 23, 2004
Tha Moon Song

Rather Good is up to it again.

No-Prize to Nina!

Posted by Ellen at 06:20 PM | Comments (1)
Moist Mars

The big news is Opportunity's landing site was once at the bottom of a sea:

A salty sea once washed over the plains of Mars at the Opportunity rover's landing site, creating a life-friendly environment more earthlike than any known on another world, NASA scientists announced today.

I wonder how long it'll take some dipwad commentator or journalist to start complaining how NASA was "shortsighted" for not including instruments that would be able to search for life, since evidence for water is "so obvious"?

Posted by scott at 02:36 PM | Comments (2)
RTFM, NASA-style

Sometimes, you just gotta be 100% sure everyone knows what to do. You're apparently looking at one of the hardpoints that mounts a Space Shuttle to its 747 transport. The text reads:


Of course, nobody's tried to mount an orbiter upside down, so this must be working pretty well for them! :)

Posted by scott at 01:30 PM | Comments (1)
Wiki on My Town

Interesting that nearly everything there is to know about the town I grew up in can be summed up in a single encyclopedia entry:

As of the census of 2000, there are 5,238 people, 1,977 households, and 1,399 families residing in the city.

I went to college in Fayetteville, and my mom and dad live in Sherwood and Searcy, respectively.

Ellen's situation is a lot more complicated. You'll have to get her to explain it.

Posted by scott at 01:21 PM | Comments (2)
Slip Slidin' Away

Looks like Opportunity's a wee bit stuck for now:

The Opportunity rover slipped down a sandy uphill slope as it tried to leave the crater it has explored since landing on Mars nearly two months ago, mission scientists said.

When you read the article, it's doesn't seem as bad as the headline sounds... the little bugger has six wheel drive on ridiculously articulated legs. They'll have lots more chances to clamber out of their little hole in the ground.

Also, is reporting NASA gearing up for a "major announcement" at 2pm EST. Be sure to have the NASA channel on then!

Posted by scott at 12:16 PM | Comments (1)
The Quest for Fire

BBCnews is carrying this summary of recent paleoanthropological findings concerning hominds and fire use. Using a new type of scanner, they have found evidence that 1.5 million-year-old fossils of burned bones seem to have gotten that way through the hot fire of a hearth, not the lower-temperature fire of a savannah wildfire. This represents a signficant "back dating" of fire use, which until now only seemed to go back about 250,000 years or so.

Posted by scott at 10:36 AM | Comments (0)
Paper Power!

Presenting, your one-stop-shop for hundreds of miniature paper car patterns. All you need is a printer, some card stock, scissors, and glue. It'll probably be the closest I'll ever get to a 156.

Posted by scott at 07:59 AM | Comments (1)
March 22, 2004
Transformer Sex

NSWF- or anybody. You'll NEVER look at your toys the same way again!

More than meets the eye.

Too bad my brother does not have his Transformers anymore. He could be making Transformer pRoN!

Posted by Ellen at 09:16 PM | Comments (3)
Self Pleasure Horror

What's your horror story? Inquiring minds what to know!

Posted by Ellen at 09:10 PM | Comments (0)
Smashing Wonderland

Citizen Smash went to the anti-war protests in San Diego and filed several very interesting reports:

First, an overview of the whole thing:

I decided to go to the protest because I wanted to learn what this anti-war movement is all about. Why were these people so vehemently opposed to the overthrow of a brutal dictator, and the liberation of 25 million people from under the yoke of tyranny?

Then he gives us an idea of the kind of speakers they had:

And the first thing is that we need to support the Resistance of Iraqis in Iraq. (applause) Right. These are people who are risking their lives to get the United States out of their country. And we have to see them as our allies. We have to see them as our main allies.

And then he actually interviews the speaker:

SMASH: I want to talk about what you were saying up on stage. You had some ideas about how to fight the war in Iraq, or how to resist it. Could you sum those up for me?

REBECCA: OK. So, the main three points that I was talking about were, supporting Iraqi Resistance. I think that we need to see ourselves as allied with Iraqis who are opposing the war…

SMASH: Specifically, the armed Resistance, or…

REBECCA: Any, any resistance that’s occurring to the Occupation. I think that we have to…

The protests outside the US may have been large, but here they were nothing special. Certainly anyone comparing it to the Vietnam-era events needs to have their head examined.

Posted by scott at 03:50 PM | Comments (0)

Went digging around and found Wildtoy's Shogun Warriors page, the source for info on one of the neater toys Mattel came out with in the mid-70s.

My brother and I played with these things constantly. Rember this was well before anime was well known or popular in the US, so while giant missle-firing robots were almost passe in Japan, there just wasn't anything quite like them over here. I found out recently my brother bought his son two of them off e-bay, so the cycle has turned again.

Now if I can just find a ROM in really good condition...

Posted by scott at 01:19 PM | Comments (0)
Wild Life is carrying this summary of the photographs sent back by the recent Stardust comet mission. Turns out it's a very, very weird place:

"The overall shape of the nucleus resembles a thick hamburger patty with a few bites taken out," said Thomas Duxbury, Stardust project manager. "The surface has significant relief on top of this overall shape that reflects billions of years of resurfacing from crater impacts and outgassing."

The samples collected should show up here some time in 2006. Here's to hoping their just as weird as the pictures!

Posted by scott at 12:08 PM | Comments (0)
Quarky Universe

New Scientist is carrying this summary of the manufacture of a new exotic subatomic particle. Called a "pentaquark" for its composition, it and its previously created (in 1993) brother have all sorts of bizzare qualities, not the least of which a much-higher-than-predicted stability.

Physics is one of the reasons I'm really sorry I suck at math. In college I once had two physics-major friends sit me down and explain the equations behind general relativity. It was amazing... all the stuff that'd confused me, that didn't make sense, was so obviously explained by just a few lines of math.

Then I got up, and lost it all.

Posted by scott at 10:37 AM | Comments (0)
Gimme that Ol' Time Collegian

I guess the motto of Liberty University should be step out of line, pay the fine. Hey, Nina, if Boston doesn't pan out, there's always this!

Posted by scott at 09:30 AM | Comments (0)
Now That's Vintage

Today the Washington Post carried this quick report summarizing the findings of a lab trying to figure out what, exactly, the "wine" in King Tutankhamen's tomb might have been. By taking scrapings from various jugs and jars, they determined King Tut drank red.

Posted by scott at 07:59 AM | Comments (0)
March 21, 2004
Brings a Whole New Definition to "Hard Up"

Nina gets a pixlated no-prize for bringing us The Accidental Video Game Porn Archive. Somewhere, Beavis and Butthead are giggling their heads off.

Posted by Ellen at 07:43 PM | Comments (0)
Baby has eight organ transplants

A seven-month-old girl is recovering after undergoing a record eight organ transplants in the United States.

In a 12-hour operation, Italian Alessia Di Matteo received a new liver, stomach, pancreas, small and large intestine, spleen and two kidneys.

Read entire story here.

With picture.

Posted by Ellen at 01:44 PM | Comments (0)
Student 'sells virginity' via web

Isn't this called prostitution?

A lesbian university student who auctioned her virginity on the internet to pay for her studies is reported to have had sex with the highest bidder.
Posted by Ellen at 01:40 PM | Comments (0)
Zill Patterns

Probably the best site right now to check out free downloadable zill patterns.

You can even get the CD and instruction book! Here's the link to the homepage.

Here's a site that breaks it down per finger.

Check them out!

Posted by Ellen at 11:34 AM | Comments (0)
Loser Pays, Counterpoint

Always read the comments, wherein we found this interesting counterpoint against the "loser pays" form of justice:

So you see, a "loser pays" system creates a problem. We already have laws that allow recoveries against people who file meritless lawsuits or who prosecute an action in bad faith. But if the U.S. legal system had always employed a "loser pays" approach, many legal decisions that we now take for granted could never have happened; for instance, the NAACP would have been bankrupted by their many losses long before Brown v. Board of Education.

The guy is a lawyer, which makes him somewhat suspect, but, well, he is a lawyer, which means he also has insight into the problem that you and I don't.

Posted by scott at 11:21 AM | Comments (1)
Defy Gravity!

Filed under XXX due to boobies!

Tired of wearing bras? Can't stand the underwire biting into your skin? Sick of throwing the twins over your shoulders?

Fear not! AMCGLTD. brings you this!

Start defying gravity today!

Posted by Ellen at 11:01 AM | Comments (0)
Scaled Naughtiness

What do you get when you combine HO-scale trains, a hobby that requires a lot of spare time anyway, with even more spare time? HO-scale porn! (NOTE: safe for work, scroll down.) Boy, won't the church lady be surprised to see your train collection!

Posted by scott at 10:57 AM | Comments (0)
Kitten Rescued from Bank Teller Tube

This is just f'd up

A kitten was stranded deep in the tube of an abandoned bank drive-through. The female calico was smaller than a hot-dog bun and probably just 1 day old.

Read entire article here.
Posted by Ellen at 10:53 AM | Comments (1)
Crunch-y Turtles

Cindy gets an enormous, mean-looking no-prize for bringing us the story of Crunch, the 165lb, 150 year-old snapping turtle. Fear the turtle!

Posted by scott at 10:47 AM | Comments (0)
March 19, 2004
The Things People Pay Money For

For the person in your life who wants to look tough but feels "oogy" when confronted with needles, we have Sleeves, "original tatoo'd clothing". I don't have any tatoos, probably won't get any, but c'mon people... I can't think of a single thing that would scream "poser" more than this.

Posted by scott at 02:38 PM | Comments (0)
On the Usefulness of Rug Rats

They get into everything, they stick whatever isn't nailed down in their mouths, and there's no such thing as a button that can't be pushed. Gotta love babies. Of course, sometimes it pays off:

The D'Onofrios keep their telephones out of the reach of 21-month-old Billy, since he likes to push the buttons and make random calls. There's tape over the television controls to keep him from changing the channel.

But the boy's inquisitive nature is no longer considered a problem since he opened the battery compartment on the television remote and uncovered a purple battery worth $100,000.

Olivia's starting to crawl now (and the little monster is fast), so I know it's only a matter of time before we discover a sandwich in the VCR. Ah, the joys of parenting.

Posted by scott at 01:24 PM | Comments (2)
OAG Productions

Angry? Radical? Desperately needing to calm down? One Angry Girl Productions is probably all that and more.

I respect her ability to manipulate me into feeling unqualified to pass any judgement on her opininons. However, I can't help but note radical racial sites, including "white power" sites, tend to make me feel the same way. But I guess every society needs a few bomb throwers, if only to make sure we're paying attention.

Posted by scott at 10:27 AM | Comments (2)
Dust Bowl Drama

Scientific American is carrying this article summarizing a new report on what caused the great "Dust Bowl" droughts in the 1930s. According to the report, it would seem an unusual combination of ocean surface currents and temperatures (in both the Atlantic and the Pacific) are to blame.

Posted by scott at 09:10 AM | Comments (0)
But What About the Vikings?

So you think Spam is just about unwanted e-mail and a funny Monty Python sketch? Think again:

Spamburgers, Spam nuggets, Spam Spaghetti, Caesar salad with Spam, Spam and eggs: the menu at the Spamjam restaurant in Manila could be straight out of the Monty Python sketch.

I haven't eaten the stuff in years, but I don't recall it being that bad. I fully expect it to end up on our shelf next to Vienna sausages when Olivia turns about 7. I even have a can sitting in my desk drawer, courtesy of an over-eager software salesman who was peddling e-mail filters one day.

My mom swears we never ate it not once. Of course, my mom also has a tendency to go out in public with two different shoes on. I wonder if cats will eat it?

Posted by scott at 07:53 AM | Comments (0)
March 18, 2004
I Wonder if Bass Pro Shop Carries Them?

Presenting the off-road commode, the ultimate in hunter accessories. Also marks the first time I've ever seen full-motion video as part of an e-bay auction.

Well, I know what Billy (our inveterate outdoorsman in the family) is getting for his next Christmas present!

Posted by scott at 03:47 PM | Comments (1)
Mars Ball Mystery Solved is carrying this report summarizing the solution of the "Mars blueberry" mystery. Turns out the spheroids Opportunity has been finding all over the place are hematite, providing even more evidence that the landing site was once covered in water.

Posted by scott at 02:07 PM | Comments (0)
Wikki Wikki Wikki

If you haven't heard of or used Wikipedia, do yourself a favor and head over there right now. I'd heard of "the world's largest public encyclopedia" before, but didn't bother with it until just a week ago. Now I can't stay away from the darned thing. If basic, or even detailed, research is what you need to do, it's one helluva place to start. Highly recommended.

Posted by scott at 12:57 PM | Comments (0)
I've Heard of Verbose Error Messages, but This...

Robert H. gets a taco-shaped no-prize for bringing us the weirdest "404 not found" web page I have seen to date.

Posted by scott at 11:58 AM | Comments (1)
How do You Say, "Kick Ass" in Japanese?

Casshern looks to be a very high-gloss Japanese action flick, if I'm reading the numbers right due out this April. Seems to have something to do with a distant future, warriors, gardens, robots, and swords. In other words, a typical SF anime flick, only this time live-action.

If Damion doesn't have a bootleg Japanese copy of it within a month of its DVD release, I'm going to take away his Anime merit badge. ;)

Posted by scott at 11:05 AM | Comments (7)
Possessed in 30 Seconds

Thing is, even when done with cute bunnies, I think this "remake" of the exorcist is a teensy bit creepy. Ok, only a teensy bit. I mean, come on, it's bunnies.

Via Silflay.

Posted by scott at 10:08 AM | Comments (1)
Tooth Tracking

BBCnews is carrying this article detailing a new technique physical anthropologists have developed to determine geographical origin. By examining a specific oxygen isotope found in teeth, they can determine with remarkable precision where a person lived until they were about 12 years old. Using this data, it's already been determined that Anglo-Saxons did not in fact completely displace native peoples during the early middle ages.

Posted by scott at 08:44 AM | Comments (0)
March 17, 2004
I Personally Like the Name "Shoe-nan" Better

Help Bigwig's family member crush her rivals, drive them before her, and hear the lamentations of their women by heading out and saving yourself 40% on your next Reebok purchase. Ellen's already drooling...

Posted by scott at 02:28 PM | Comments (2)
Money Myths

Myth: The deficit is ballooning out of control, and will undermine the economy.

Fact: The current deficit is equal to or smaller than those recorded in previous recession years, as a percentage of the gross domestic product (citation).

Myth: The current deficit is a gigantic weight on the country's economy.

Fact: The current deficit is impressively large at 521 billion dollars, but this represents just 5% of the gross domestic product of the United States economy (citation).

Myth: The national debt is titanic, growing larger, and will eventually crush our children.

Fact: The national debt currently stands at an admittedly staggering 7.1 trillion dollars. However, this represents just 16% of the currently estimated total household wealth in the United States (citation). Further, more than half this debt is owned by US citizens in the form of various kinds of government bonds (citation).

Myth: Millions of US citizens have no access to health care.

Fact: Federal law requires any person, regardless of insurance, citizenship, or even legal resident status be treated regardless of insurance status if they present themselves to an emergency room (citation).

Myth: Tax burdens fall mostly on middle and lower income families, while the wealthy pay little to nothing at all.

Fact:: Families in the top 5% income bracket pay 50% of all personal income tax the federal government receives. The bottom 60% is responsible for exactly 6%. The bottom 5% receive a 2% credit, regardless of income (citation).

Myth: The war in Iraq will crush the US economy.

Fact:: At the requested funding level of 87 billion dollars, the cost of the war in Iraq represents not quite 4% of the current government budget for the next fiscal year (citation).

Myth: Unemployment is unreasonably high in the United States.

Fact: 94.5% of all eligible workers in the US are in fact employed (citation).

Of course, you know the country's on an express elevator to hell, going down. Just be sure to cite your sources when you prove it.

Posted by scott at 01:58 PM | Comments (8)
Why I Have a Beard

Shaving Industry Lies, where you'll find the truth about fancy razors, electric shavers, and just what, exactly, happens to your disposable razor when you're not around. Hint: it's not pretty, not pretty at all.

Posted by scott at 11:57 AM | Comments (9)
Goin' ta Graceland

Ever wonder what the upstairs of Graceland, Elvis's mansion, looks like? Wonder no more! Apparently nobody, but nobody goes up there, and if these pictures are to be believed, it's yet another time capsule stuck in the 70s.

However, I wouldn't be surprised at all if it's simply been turned into a giant attic for various kinds of memorabilia and souveniers. But you never know!

Posted by scott at 10:52 AM | Comments (0)
Insert Woody Allen Joke Here

"Tecklepoo" gets a no-prize with the Great Leader's face on it for bringing us news that one set of scientists is starting a clone by working with just the nose. People say sci-fi movies are good predictors of technology, but I don't think anyone ever thought that would apply to The Sleeper. It's an odd, odd world.

Posted by scott at 09:51 AM | Comments (0)
Secret Underground Tinfoil Hats

Welcome to The Secret Underground World Society, where you will learn all about things like:

  • Underground tunnel boring machines up to no good.
  • Exactly how the secret government and psychic undeground network (SGPUN?) function.
  • How psychic powers can lead you to the ultimate secret clearence in the US government... Omega.

At first I thought this might be a hoax site. I'm still not completely sure it's for real. However, while the author starts out with outlandish but relatively coherent ideas, as you scroll down you'll see the disconnects so common in people who have wobbled off their meds. In my opinion, this one's probably schizo-affective instead of in the midst of a manic fugue.

Mental illness is disturbing when you see it from the outside. Looking inside is downright terrifying.

Posted by scott at 08:55 AM | Comments (0)
March 16, 2004
Trading Deficits

Jimspot linked up this article which provides a nice reality check on the trade-deficit chicken-littles:

When you buy goods, you give them dollars in exchange for hard assets or services. For instance, when you buy a Toyota you might have a $30,000 trade deficit with the Toyota dealership. But does that really mean you are any worse off? After all, you received a hard asset worth $30,000.

As always, read the whole thing.

Posted by scott at 03:20 PM | Comments (0)
Well, it Sounds Nasty Enough

Slashdot linked up this story detailing how the city of Aliso Viejo nearly went through with a ban on styrofoam cups containing "dihydrogen monoxide", a clear, odorless chemical that can be deadly if inhaled. Of course, it took a little more research to find out that what was actually being warned against was a cup full of water.

Posted by scott at 02:37 PM | Comments (0)
Stone Search is carrying this article on speculations about what, exactly, it would take to hunt for fossils on Mars. Unfortunately, the existing rovers aren't really equipped for that sort of thing, unless they find the equivalent of something like this. Even then, I'm sure there would be some scientists who'd argue it was created by some natural process.

Posted by scott at 01:13 PM | Comments (2)
The Sound of One Lawyer Yapping?

The headline says it all: Blogosphere: 1, New York Times: 0. I actually was a bit worried the NYT might have enough resources to come after all us bomb throwers, so I weasled our mirror a bit more than anyone else. But I did leave it up, for whatever good it did.

Once I learned TND had got itself a lawyer, I had a feeling it'd turn out this way. Like all bullies, once someone stood up to them they backed down quickly.

Posted by scott at 11:55 AM | Comments (0)
Rubber Band Aviation

Robert H. gets a no-prize made of rubber bands for bringing us Twin Pushers and Other Free Flight Oddities, a site dedicated to twin "engine" rubber-band planes.

Posted by scott at 10:49 AM | Comments (0)
Turbines to Speed

Damion gets a donut-shaped no-prize for bringing us the G2IC turbo guide, a one-stop-shop for all questions regarding turbocharging a specific sort of Honda. Linked here because it also contains some good general information on turbochargers, as well as the implications of installing them into any street car motor.

Posted by scott at 10:01 AM | Comments (2)
March 15, 2004

By now most people in the West know that while Europeans were sleeping with their own oxen and unscrewing each other's heads with abandon, Arabs were inventing algebra, trading with China, and building structures whose beauty staggers us to this day. Yet in less than three centuries their glittering culture would be crushed and humiliated by barbarians they had once bettered in every way. How could this be?

The roots of failure in the cultures ascribed to Islam are the same that lead to their success, and therein lies the great Sophoclean tragedy of it all. Because the ground in which these roots, of both triumph and oblivion, rest was created by the Koran.

Ironically, it's the history of Christianity that best illustrates this argument. Jesus preached his ministry in the center of a prosperous, and oppressive, empire arguably the most powerful the world had seen. His crucifixion occurred perhaps only five years after the beginning of his movement, introducing an element of instability Christianity lives with to this day. Because the movement was both escatalogical (the end of the world is nigh) and subversive (we're the only ones with a ticket out), a natural fault line developed dividing the spiritual power of Christianity (do as I say because you'll go to Hell if you don't) from the temporal power of the Empire (do as I say or I'll run you through with this sword).

While the rise of Christianity to official status largely filled this chasm in the Eastern half of the empire, historical happenstance (in the form of various flea-bitten but no less ferocious barbarian hordes) maintained it in the West. Over the next thousand years an uncomfortable and unstable status-quo set itself up between a Church that could command hearts and kings who could command steel. Europe suffered four centuries of darkness while it all got sorted out.

All of these things, doctrinaire instability, subversive revolution, the very concept of a separate "church" and "state", were completely alien to a follower of Islam. Unlike Jesus, Mohamed had an extremely long, productive ministry, in which all of the core documents of the movement were written by the founder himself (or by God through him, if you like)*. This made for a comparatively stable religious foundation, which to date has experienced only one significant doctrinal dispute. Islam was created in an area with no government institution larger than what was needed to manage a city. Therefore when the Bedouin exploded out of the desert they were able to grasp both secular and religious power simultaneously.

Herein lay the roots of Islam's success. As a merchant, Mohamed knew almost instinctively that the key to the success of a society was consistent laws enforced consistently. If there was any question of this he had the abject lesson of the Christians of the Eastern empire, who at that point were damning and killing each other over paintings and the precise date of Easter, to instruct him. His long ministry allowed the final and absolute resolution of the thousands of petty arguments that arise with any complex movement. Finally, Islam was able to stab upward into the underbelly of the two richest and paradoxically weakest empires in existence at that time.

This all combined to create a very rich and culturally complex environment almost purpose-built for stability, safety, and free movement. Without the albatrosses of oppression and suspicion around their necks, Muslims were able to look at the enormous libraries of Greek knowledge in their conquered Eastern territories with fresh eyes and open minds. They took this and literally ran with it, extending and expanding beyond even their own expectations. The torch of learning was not extinguished when Odacer deposed Romulus Augustus in 476. It was instead set aside, only to quickly be picked up by Arab hands who, for a very long time, carried it well indeed.

So what went wrong? Again, it's more instructive to first look at Christianity before examining Islam.

It took nearly a thousand years, but eventually the Medieval west settled into a sort of equilibrium uncomfortably managed by bishops and feudal warrior-kings. They grew strong enough that by the end of the eleventh century they were able to carve a chunk out of the Islamic empire and maintain it more or less intact for nearly three hundred years. Far more important, although less glamorous, was the Reconquista, the crusade to reclaim the Iberian peninsula for Christianity. By conquering but not destroying the great Moorish cities a sort of "back door" was created, allowing the re-introduction not only of the old Greek learning once lost, but of all the Muslim developments as well.

However, even this wasn't enough to start what would come to be known as the European Renaissance. It would take the scythe of the Black Death hacking away perhaps as much as a third of the population of Europe to light the fuse on that powder keg.

Labor, once nearly free, became fantastically expensive. Empires in the past were able to respond to this through conquest and importation of slaves, but Europe was too politically fragmented for any one state to command that much power. People were able to demand rights and privileges from their rulers in return for their labor, and the rulers had to give it to them or risk those same people offering their services to someone else who would.

But not everyone had this option. Enormous tracts of land, complete with villages and their resident peasants, had been ceded to monasteries over the previous centuries. At first, this was actually one hell (as it were) of a move up for said peasants. No armies to feed, no randy knights hacking and burning houses when they got bored, and no Droit de seigneur. What wasn't to love?

This rosy arrangement started to unravel shortly after the plague, and it only went downhill from there. The duke, bergher, or king may have been an unpredictable bastard, but you could at least bargain with him. The abbot had God on his side. Negotiating a reduction in the harvest tithe was not an option, since the percentage was decided by the Lord himself and who were you to question that? Demanding a change in the tax rate to make your business more competitive with the Venetians merely resulted in blank looks. Push harder and you risked a Crusade being called down on your head.

Of course, in the long run it couldn't last. The monasteries were rich enough to hire a few dozen armored goons to keep the peasants in line, but they were no match for the burgeoning power of the kings and merchant empires. Eventually the peasants either ran off to the nearest free city or took shelter with a prince only too happy to double the wages made miniscule by four centuries of inflation. Over time, one by one and all across Europe, the monasteries were cracked open like oysters on the belly of a sea otter, slowly removing the last vestiges of the medieval and clearing the way for our own modern world.

By all accounts the Arab empires suffered at least as much, if not more, from plague. They had the additional burden of being in the way of the most effective light horse army the world has ever seen (Mongols). And yet with similar pressures came very different results. Christian Europe exploded, first consuming itself in successive paroxysms of religious, trade, and revolutionary wars, then when that became too expensive hacking empires out of everything around them. Muslims, in contrast, coalesced into a single monolithic empire that, once established, essentially coasted unchanged for the next three hundred fifty years. At its end this Ottoman Empire, so powerful that at one point it literally threatened Christianity's existence, was itself allowed to exist at the whim of these "barbaric" Europeans, to be ignominiously dismantled by them when it was finally no longer useful.

The comparison with the medieval monasteries of Europe is striking. True, Islam shuns monasticism in all forms, but by melding religious and secular power into the sharia, they inadvertently made the entire culture beholden to what was in effect a highly organized and indeed quite powerful religious order. The innate conservatism inherent in all organized religion meant that any cultural or economic innovation that the mullahs could not understand would be crushed before it had a chance to break anything.

The burgeoning Ottoman empire, then at the hight of its power, absorbed the impact of the Black Death not through innovation but through the forced migration of perhaps millions of slaves. What commerce existed did so at the whim of the Sultan, and the Sultan never took risks. The culture of empire meant there would be no escape for the common people, no rival petty kings to check the power of the mullahs, no chance for a Renaissance of clever, questioning men to take hold. The empire, as all empires do, slowly ossified, trapping what was once a vibrant and brilliant culture in a pretty, frozen drop of amber.

Islam, once so fortunate in history's eye, chose precisely the wrong moment to crystallize into a monolithic empire. Europe had stumbled onto a combination of culture and technology that, however horrifically violent in its infancy, gradually allowed fantastic gains in productivity. The cold truth is that even without Napoleon, by the beginning of the nineteenth century Europe had become so incredibly rich it could have hastened the end of the last great Islamic empires through the simple expedient of purchasing them.

Islam tried to catch up, but by the time it figured out it was even in a race it was too late. A set of cultures raised on a thousand years of divinely decreed, indeed self-evident, dominance was suddenly confronted with the shattering realization that they were not, in fact, the alpha and omega of creation; that it would be a different set of people, ascribing to a religion they had supposedly discredited ten centuries ago, who would in fact rule the world. They have quite simply never recovered.

For a time it looked as if the old salves of retrenchment and revival, a "returning to the old ways", would bring holy wrath down upon the infidel's head and restore the faded glory of mullah and mosque. Certainly the spectacular collapse of the two most prominent landmarks on the infidel's horizon at the hands of these fundamentalists signaled the dawn of a new age, when divinely inspired martyrs would rain death down on the heads of these prurient, effete infidels and show that the power of Islam had not in fact faded into history.

Of course, as with all escatological fantasies, the world obstinately refused to end. It took five hard and difficult years of planning to kill three thousand infidels in a single day. Yet less than two years after this triumph the only countries in Islam to ever successfully take on the West lay in ruins, their leaders dead, imprisoned, or running too hard to even show their faces. Even worse, the people of these countries are showing signs of adapting to the infidel, of turning their backs on the men of God who should be leading them, riding down the seductive road of perdition called "self government."

In fact, their predicament is no different from that experienced by their Christian brethren six centuries ago. Because to them the world did end, for the one when the last tower of Cluny was pulled down by French peasants so enraged they used their bare hands, for the other when the bronze statue of a madman was yanked off its pedestal while infidel tanks rolled unopposed through the city that once formed the heart of the greatest empire the world had ever known.

It remains to be seen whether the hold of the mad mullahs can be broken, whether, given the chance, great men will arise from all walks of life and lead the peoples of Islam in adapting to modernity instead of being martyred by it. Because without a doubt the peoples of the old Islamic empires must come to terms with the world around them.

It is up to them to choose whether they do so united under a flag of liberty, or the tombstone of a mass grave.

Posted by scott at 08:38 PM | Comments (0)
I Think Our Bunch Came This Way from the Factory

Rob E. gets a wobbly no-prize for bringing us Confuse A Cat Ltd.:

We are Confuse A Cat. We have been in the business of feline bewilderment for over 30 years and we are exceptionally good at it. Never once have we failed to confuse a cat which we set-out to confuse.

Ellen just got a giant dinner table with a glass top, so for two days we had no need of their services. Now that she's covered it with a table cloth, I suppose we'll have to re-up our contract after all.

Posted by scott at 11:56 AM | Comments (1)
So That's Where My Rivet Gun Went

"AMCGLTD", we hear you ask, "my boyfriend wants to go out on a road trip with his buddies, but they all have the common sense of oatmeal. How can I make sure he'll get home safely, and won't get stolen by some enterprising hussy?"

Fear not gentle reader! AMCGLTD is there for you! Presenting Boyfriend-Marker, your one-stop-shop for permanent, safe, and humane boyfriend tags. Their patented and nearly painless system helps ensure your man will never wander far from home. All tag numbers are registered in a central "boyfriend come home" database, giving you peace of mind that should your man meet with an unfortunate boating accident or a slut who's handy with tools, the tag will be returned to you wherever it is found. Order yours today!

I personally like the band around the ankle approach better

Posted by scott at 10:10 AM | Comments (0)
Mars has Worms?

No, not really, but there are people trying to convince the world it does. That's why author and astronomer Phillip Plait is fighting back:

Plait has two words for the latest claims of alien objects on Mars. The first is "garbage." The second and more scientific word is "pareidolia." This is the same phenomenon that makes us see animals or other familiar objects in clouds.

Doubtful it'll convince the people who already know NASA's lying, but at least it'll give the rest of us some ammunition when a wingnut sits next to us in a bar.

Posted by scott at 08:57 AM | Comments (0)
March 14, 2004
Our Next Home?

Also from Slashdot, news of a decomissioned Titan missle complex for sale. Amazingly, more than a dozen of these things were located in Arkansas, of all places. My dad's first job with rockets was working with them back in the early '60s.

A tale from my dad's endless archive (note! Entertainment only, factual basis always questionable!):

Sometimes they'd open the silo roof to do certain kinds of maintenance on the missle. Whenever that happened, they'd hang a big net under the opening to catch anything like deer, racoons, enlisted men, or other stuff that might fall in. It was almost exactly like what they have under the trapeze at the circus. All sorts of things still managed to make it past the net, so cleaning the bottom of the silo (which was over 150 feet deep) was considered the worst job on the base.

There was an airman I remember, named Ernie I think, who was always getting in trouble with practical jokes the officers didn't appreciate. One day a general arrived to inspect the site while the roof was open. Well, this airman saw him and started screaming how he (the private) was gonna end it all. "End it all!!!"

So this general turns around to see what all the noise is about only to watch this airman make a textbook swandive into the open mouth of the silo and disappear screaming. Of course, everyone ran to the edge of the silo, only to see Ernie safely bouncing in the net, laughing his head off.

From that point until Ernie left the base, he was a permanent member of the "clean the crap out of bottom of the silo" team.

An extra-creepy exploration of a completely abandoned silo can be found here.

Posted by scott at 05:08 PM | Comments (1)
Sounds Like a Simpsons Character to Me

Slashdot linked up this article detailing news that scientists may call the recently discovered large body orbiting the sun beyond Pluto a new planet, and name it "Sedna". At nearly the same size as Pluto, it's kind of hard to argue against it. Which, of course, will stop no one from doing so.

Posted by scott at 04:32 PM | Comments (0)
More Than 8.7M Cosmetic Plastic Surgeries in 2003, Up 32 Pct. Over 2002; For 12th Year, American Society of Plastic Surgeons Reports Statistics

The number of surgical procedures grew by five percent, while minimally invasive procedures jumped 41 percent over 2002. This past year's growth may be attributed to the attention plastic surgery received from the entertainment industry, which spotlighted plastic surgery and perhaps, created a larger interest from the public.

The overall top five surgical cosmetic plastic surgery procedures in 2003 were nose reshaping (356,554), liposuction (320,022), breast augmentation (254,140), eyelid surgery (246,633), and facelift (128,667). Women made up 82 percent of those who had cosmetic plastic surgery. Women chose liposuction most often in 2003, followed by breast augmentation, nose reshaping, eyelid surgery and facelift. The men's top five cosmetic plastic surgery procedures for 2003 were nose reshaping, eyelid surgery, liposuction, hair transplantation for male-pattern baldness and facelift.

Read entire article here.

I personally have nothing against plastic surgery. I plan to have it next year. I do have a problem with doctors who can't tell their patients NO after 10 nose jobs and 4 chin and cheek implants, or the doctors who give women 60FFF boobs. Basically the ones that are going for the impossible or ridiculous. But hey, if makes you feel better, have at it. It's your money. Just don't go too far.

Posted by Ellen at 04:01 PM | Comments (0)
Museum Plans Dead Body Exhibit

BRITAIN'S Science Museum is considering a particularly gruesome new exhibit, a report said on Sunday - a decomposing human body displayed in a glass box.

Read entire bit here.

I hope they get special ventilation, or is the smell going to be part of the attraction too?

Posted by Ellen at 03:55 PM | Comments (0)
March 13, 2004
Have a Bone

Yeah ok, Damion has way too much time on his hands.

I laughed so hard I almost peed in my pants when this popped up.

Posted by Ellen at 10:35 AM | Comments (0)
Personality Test

Eysenck's Test Results
Extraversion (52%) medium which suggests you are moderately talkative, optimistic, and sociable.
Neuroticism (86%) very high which suggests you are extremely worrying, insecure, emotional, and nervous.
Psychoticism (48%) medium which suggests you are moderately offensive, uncooperative, and rebellious.
Take Eysenck's EPQ-R based Personality Test
personality tests by

Hooray! I'm mentally fooked up! *smirk-we all knew that.* Now where's that rock so I can beat myself with it. Found Via Bluelens at his Live Journal. Take a read and give a thunk.

Take this test, see where you are.

Posted by Ellen at 10:30 AM | Comments (1)
March 12, 2004
T-Shirt Ninjas

Ok, normally I'd make fun of this sorta thing, but, well, it's ninjas we're talking about. You never know, I could end up with some nerdy spotty white guy with a folded T-shirt over his head sneaking up behind me tonight.

Or is he sneaking up right now?!?

Posted by scott at 04:12 PM | Comments (3)
Eat Your Heart Out, Mavis Beacon

Well, I got to level 11 before this nifty typing game crapped out on me, but I was definitely hitting my limits. Kinda gives you insight into how you type. For instance, my problem was not hitting the keys themselves, but reading the word and then spelling it. If I knew intuitively how to spell the word, I went a lot faster than if I was just making the letters disappear.

See! All those years of typing on chat rooms & AIM paid off after all!

Posted by scott at 02:05 PM | Comments (4)
The 10% Solution

Scientific American is carrying this article debunking the commonly-held belief that most people only use 10% of their available brain power. I dunno man... if this guy commuted to work on the D.C. beltway like we do, he might have a different opinion!

Posted by scott at 01:43 PM | Comments (0)
Buggy Update

New Scientist is carrying this update on the DARPA Grand Challenge, the road race that challenges contestants to build an autonomous vehicle to traverse a large amount of desert in a (relatively) small amount of time. Looks like 16 vehicles made it past the "qualifying" round, which generated this choice quote:

The golf-cart-sized vehicle entered by Virginia Technology University was one of the teams that completed the obstacle course - at the third attempt. A relieved Charles Reinholtz told New Scientist "It's always a little bit of a surprise when the vehicle does exactly what you expect it to - there are so many things that can go wrong."

A software developer after my own heart! Still no word if anyone used bits of Mars rover software. Sounds unlikely though. Probably has to do with the speed difference. The MERs move at rates of a few feet per minute, while the Challenge contestants will have to move at an average speed of about 15 mph.

Posted by scott at 11:52 AM | Comments (4)
You Are Here --> is carrying this article showing some nifty pictures from the Mars rovers. The biggest one? A picture of Earth as seen from Mars. We really are a little blue dot.

Posted by scott at 10:32 AM | Comments (0)
Blogosphere to New York Times: DROP DEAD

Big media (in the form of the New York Times) recently fired a warning shot across the bow of the blogosphere:

I am copyright counsel to The New York Times Company.
It has come to our attention that you have posted on your web site at what you are calling your "faux Times Columnist Corrections Page." [...] By using The Times's name, logos, advertisments, live links, design and layout, you are blatantly infringing upon our exclusive rights under trademark and copyright laws [...] I must insist that you remove the page from public display immediately and confirm to us within twenty-four hours that you will not use our materials in the future.

Which, thanks to the lovely DMCA (a product of the Clinton administration we might add), they have the power to make stick:

[Verio, the host of theNationalDebate, have] received the attached notification of copyright infringement regarding your website, [As required in the DMCA] Verio will suspend your account within 3 days if the offending material is not removed.

Which just means the New York Times is going to re-learn the same lesson taught to the Scientologists: the Internet moves at the speed of light:

Rooftop Report | View The Banned New York Times Columnist Correction Page Here
Silflay Hraka | View The Banned New York Times Columnist Correction Page Here
Classical Values | View The Banned New York Times Columnist Correction Page Here
Hobbsonline | View The Banned New York Times Columnist Correction Page Here

And, well, here too.

The parallels between this event and those surrounding one Martin Luther are quite striking. Then, as now, a single individual posted a set of grievances against a powerful institution claiming rights to "the truth" in a public place. Then, as now, that institution used its size, power, and wealth in an attempt to muzzle this voice and destroy all evidence of the complaints. Then, as now, a new technology allowed copies of those complaints to be spread across the world literally faster than they could be destroyed (scattered on the wind like so many dandelion seeds).

Is the revolution here? Is it now?

Let's find out...

No increase in the ability of mankind to communicate has ever resulted in a loss of liberty.

Posted by scott at 09:28 AM | Comments (1)
Buried Treasure

Fark linked up this story about a guy who discovered one of the largest caches of Roman coins found in England while digging a new fishpond on his property. British antiquity rules are a little complicated, so it's not clear if he'll get to keep it or if the government will sieze it.

Finding cool stuff buried in your back yard is definitely one of the neater things about living in Europe. However, I must admit neat is in the eye of the beholder. My old classics instructor in college said that the antiquity laws in Greece are extremely complex and troublesome. So much so that most of the time when someone digs up a statue when they are, say, re-working their basement, they simply bury it deeper and swear everyone to secrecy.

Posted by scott at 08:13 AM | Comments (1)
March 11, 2004
I Dream of Kitties

How cool is this shirt?

Go support animals in need and buy one today!

Posted by Ellen at 06:51 PM | Comments (0)
It's Only a Matter of Time

Joshua gets a squeaky-clean no-prize for bringing us a graphic example of what will happen if Ellen doesn't start putting her laptop away soon. Olivia already loves banging on the "beepy flashy thing", lord knows where it'll go next.

Posted by scott at 03:51 PM | Comments (0)
When Horsepower Attacks

Damion and I joke all the time about stuffing outrageous powerplants into his Civic, up to and including various sorts of turbines and rockets. However, as crazy as that would be, it wouldn't be anything to someone actually building a four-wheeler around a small-block Chevy. The results were, well, Darwinian in their predictability.

Posted by scott at 02:17 PM | Comments (0)
Rabbit on the Run?

This Newsweek article does a nice job of summarizing what is known of current efforts to track down our friend Osama:

The hunt for bin Laden is an unprecedented confrontation between 21st-century technology and age-old guerrilla tactics. While the elusive terror chieftain hides in mountain caves and scurries along mule trails, Task Force 121 "bytes" away at him and his chief deputy, Ayman Al-Zawahiri, with the best the Information Age has to offer.

There's nothing magic about guerrilla warfare, absolutely nothing that prevents Western soldiers from knowing it inside and out. If these guys are as good as their reputation says they are, they know guerrilla warfare. Combine that with our overwhelming advantage in technology and mobility, and it becomes increasingly obvious it's only a matter of time before Mr. bin Laden is bumming cigarettes from Mr. Hussein in the cell next door. Or pushing up daisies, which will be almost as good.

Via Virtually Islamic

Posted by scott at 12:53 PM | Comments (1)
Be Sure to Turn the Concrete off as You Leave

Slashdot linked up this article detailing the latest in construction materials: "LitraCon", concrete that can transmit light. By combining fiber optic strands with concrete, they've created what is in effect a translucent building material. The pictures remind me vaguely of those paper walls Japanese houses were built out of centuries ago. Only, of course, this is concrete.

Posted by scott at 12:06 PM | Comments (0)
24th Sign of the Apocalypse

Carrie gets a cute no-prize dressed in pastels for bringing us news that Menudo may be coming back. Well, hey, if it was good enough for Ricky Martin...

Posted by scott at 09:36 AM | Comments (0)

Washington Post (free reg, blah blah) carried this article today summarizing recent discoveries in mammalian biology:

Now Harvard researchers have come to the radical conclusion that female mice produce a constant stream of new egg cells as adults -- challenging a central dogma of reproductive biology and raising the heretical possibility that women, too, clandestinely produce fresh eggs for at least the first half of life.

Posted by scott at 08:29 AM | Comments (0)
March 10, 2004
Condom Mania!

Get fitted for a custom fit condom!

Don't want condoms? How about some dirty dice ?

Check out the site! Sue Johanson recommened it! (Talk Sex and The Sunday Night Sex Show)

Posted by Ellen at 08:30 PM | Comments (1)
Mars Stinks!

Fark linked up this story detailing an interesting speculation about the red planet:

Sulfur, acids, magnesium, iron -- all put together under the carbon dioxide-rich skies of Mars -- could just reek.
[Jim Garvin, NASA Lead Scientist for Mars and Lunar Exploration] said on his field excursions here on Earth to volcanic areas, the sulfurous stench to him is a kind of cleansing smell. "I don't know. It may stink in the eye of the smelling beholder," he told .

Personally, I agree with the guy. Sulfur smells have been a little surprising at times, but I've never thought they stink. The contents of my daughter's diaper pail, now that's a stink!

Posted by scott at 03:39 PM | Comments (0)
Gene Gray [Matter]

We're all about the science today. Slashdot linked up this Discover article summarizing the findings of a scientist who claims to have discovered the precise gene that gives humans big brains. Turns out there are precisely fifteen mutations on this gene that differentiate it from what you find in chimpanzees. How it works is, of course, not clear.

Again, it's important to understand these mutations didn't happen in a vacuum. Our ancestors happened to have access to a protien-rich resource that lent itself well to a tool-using tree climber (scavenging leopard kills and anything else the heyenas couldn't get to). The dietary change was probably at least as important as the genetic one, as without the former the latter was useless. Likewise, without the latter the former was merely the behavior of jibbering chimp-things with an (oftentimes terminal) adrenaline addiction.

Update: Don't miss this older National Geographic article detailing developments about the very earliest primates. It's beginning to look like they may have walked (well, scurried and squeaked) with the dinosaurs.

Posted by scott at 02:17 PM | Comments (0)
Free Martha?

Kris gets a no-prize that rings its cup back and forth across the bars for bringing us this editorial on the recent Martha Stewart case.

The more I read about this whole thing the more I'm inclined to agree with the author. While she did break the law, to be honest I'm not sure the law she broke would even be much of a misdemeanor in most states. Certainly no worse than what Mr. Hiibel did, and he only had to pay a $250 fine. The whole thing has turned into a complete circus, the kind prosecutors use to build careers on, and that makes me deeply suspicious of said prosecutors.

Ms. Stewart is widely perceived to be an unpleasant person, but being mean is not a reason to toss someone in jail. At least in this country it's not supposed to be.

Posted by scott at 01:39 PM | Comments (0)
Rollin' Rollin' Rollin'

Jeff gets a roving no-prize for bringing us news of DARPA's latest technology challenge:

On Saturday, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, the Pentagon's few-holds-barred research and development arm, will award $1 million to the first team whose robotic vehicle can cover a rugged desert course from Barstow, Calif., to Primm, Nev., in less than 10 hours.

The vehicles cannot be controlled remotely. They've got to navigate all by themselves.

There are apparently lots of people who think nobody will make it at all the first time out, in which case it seems they'll do it again in 2 years. The Mars Rovers are certainly smart enough to do this sort of thing, but they're nowhere near fast enough. The software they use is, however, public domain. I wonder if any of the contestants are using it?

Posted by scott at 12:16 PM | Comments (2)
Must Have More!

Joshua gets a well-packed no-prize for bringing us on-line bubble wrap. Strangely entertaining, at least for a short while.

Posted by scott at 11:36 AM | Comments (0)
Caveat Emptor, Navy-Style

4 Submaries
Low milage, exc. cond.
No rust, always garaged
New: $570 mil.
Yours for $142 mil. ea.

Whatabargain! Let's get all four!

Canada said on Tuesday it was looking at ways to cool down four trouble-plagued submarines it bought from Britain after a report revealed temperatures in one craft hit 65 degrees Celsius (149 degrees Fahrenheit) on a patrol.
Posted by scott at 10:36 AM | Comments (2)
Hominid News

Scientific American is carrying this somewhat technical summary of recent fossil discoveries in Ethiopia's Middle Awash region. Some scientists are arguing that a handful of fossil teeth provides evidence of a much more diverse set of hominids during the late Miocene than was previously thought.

Ok, "real people" explanation: apes evolved during the Miocene epoch (a nice overall summary is here). Somewhere between 5 and 10 million years ago (mya) a set of apes evolved fully bipedal locomotion, for reasons that are still unclear*. When climate change destroyed the gigantic Euro-African forests that apes evolved in, some of these bipedal forms (species) struck out onto the savannah to make a living.

Exactly how many species made it out is also unclear and the subject of a growing debate. Regardless, the various species created what seem to be only two strategies for survival: scavenging and grazing. Both strategies were quite successful at first. The grazers grew larger and larger over time, eventually ending up with a species currently known as Paranthropus bosei (I learned it back when it was Australopithecus bosei), a creature with a huge bony crest on its skull and molars more than an inch long.

The scavengers also became more specialized, growing taller and more lightly built (compared to the grazers). The protein content of their diet was presumably what allowed the development of ever larger brains, gradually changing a scavenging model to one of hunting.

At this point, about 1.5-2 mya, there were at least two, perhaps as many as four, different families of erect walking apes on the savannahs of Africa. Homo (us), and Paranthrapus (the huge grazers) are the ones I learned about. Again, for reasons poorly understood, the grazer forms died out at around this time while the hunter forms exploded (perhaps several times) out of Africa and into the Eurasian landmass. They eventually turned into, well, us.

So what these scientists are arguing about is just how many species of erect walking ape there actually were before the forests receded, and which one evolved into us. The big problem is the complete lack of fossils covering this period. They're arguing over six teeth because six teeth is just about all that's been found in Africa from around this time (6-10 mya). However, the discovery is in and of itself a very promising sign, because until recently as far as anyone knew there were no places to find Hominid fossils from this time period. The Awash region is an extremely remote and primitive area, and dangerous to boot with various rebel and bandit clans roaming it at will. Future discoveries will be hard won, but hopefully will come anyway.

Posted by scott at 09:46 AM | Comments (4)
March 09, 2004
With Reporters Like These...

Journalists like to think of themselves as on top of things, asking insightful questions to tease out the truth. Anyone who's watched a press conference, however, knows its more like herding cats. Dumb cats:

Asked how he knew the man killed was a gunman, [U.S. Marine Col. Charles] Gurganus said: "He had a gun, and he was shooting at Marines. That's what I call a gunman."

Sometimes I think the press is very important to our overall understanding of what our government and armed forces are up to. Sometimes I think they should all just be beaten with a sock full of wet sand.

Anyone have a sock I can borrow?


Posted by scott at 03:08 PM | Comments (1)
Jinxed at School

This clever advertisement just goes to show... always check your feet!

Posted by scott at 02:29 PM | Comments (0)
Biggie Small

Presenting Powers of 10, a nifty little java movie that moves from the extremely large universe to the extremely small quark in, as you'd guess, powers of 10. The fun thing about such a procession is it doesn't take near as long as you'd think.

Posted by scott at 12:52 PM | Comments (4)
Purity Unbound

So, what's your libertarian purity rating? Yesterday I got a 53, today I got a 49, which puts me solidly into "not-quite-wacko-but-can-see-it-from-here" territory. This, of course, should be of little surprise to the yellow-dog peanut gallery. Now if I could just talk PJ O'Rourke into running for president...

Posted by scott at 10:58 AM | Comments (7)

New Scientist has this article up about new developments in lens technology. Using two different fluids and some electric current, scientists at Phillips Electronics have created a lens with no moving parts. Initial purpose will be for things like DVD writers and phone cameras.

Unfortunately they can't create lenses larger than 1 cm in diameter, so those of us who are "big glass" photography fans (people who like big zooms and telephotos) are still stuck with mega-buck monsters we can only dream about.

Posted by scott at 09:59 AM | Comments (0)
No, Really, Overall They're Quite Normal People

Damion gets a... well... Damion gets a no-prize for bringing us the poop thesaurus, a compilation of different words, phrases, and links dedicated to our best friends' primary obsession. They found it by searching for "corn nut butt plugs." Everyone who has a website ends up with really bizzare search strings in their logs. Well, I know of at least two people who generate them now.

The list itself is proof again there are many more people with far more time on their hands than I.

Posted by scott at 08:15 AM | Comments (0)
Damned Kids. In My Day...

Everyone's heard the same stories... today's kids just don't have a proper education. They don't know even the basics. If we don't somehow fix this situation we're going to be buried by other nations who have. Accepted wisdom? Gospel truth? How about complete crap:

"If anything," writes Sam Wineburg, a Stanford University education professor in a new Journal of American History article, "test results across the last century point to a peculiar American neurosis: each generation's obsession with testing its young only to discover -- and rediscover -- their 'shameful' ignorance. The consistency of results across time casts doubt on a presumed golden age of fact retention.

"Appeals to it," the article continues, "are more the stuff of national lore and wistful nostalgia for a time that never was than a claim that can be anchored in the documentary record."

In other words, such judgements are more about elitist politics and hidden agendas than they are about facts. Which is what anyone currently in school could tell you in a heartbeat.

Posted by scott at 08:02 AM | Comments (0)
March 08, 2004
Womanly Wiles

The scene: watching an episode of Alton Brown's Good Eats, Alton begins his introduction on how to make a pie crust from scratch

Ellen: "Making a pie crust is a bitch. Just do yourself a favor and buy them from the grocery store."

Me: Nodding sagely, Ellen bakes, Ellen should know.

Alton proceeds to show a simple way to make a pie crust.

Me: "Well, that didn't look too hard."

Ellen: "Of course not. He showed you the easy way to do it."

Me: "Ummm..."

The art of female verbal jujitsu, rule #7: When cornered, change the rules of the game.

Posted by scott at 03:08 PM | Comments (3)
A Passion

Want to know what the inside of a manic fugue looks like? Wonder no more. I can't think of a more textbook example of it, right down to the Jesus complex. Hopefully this guy is getting some help, because it's awfully hard to hold down a job when your moods swing this wildly.

Posted by scott at 02:59 PM | Comments (1)
Farscape Update

Woo hoo! New Farscape news:

Farscape will be returning as a 4-hour mini-series. The mini-series is in production now, back in Sydney, Australia. Claudia Black, Ben Browder, Gigi Edgley, Anthony Simcoe, and Raelee Hill are all reported to be signed up. The mini-series was written by series creator Rockne S. O'Bannon and executive producer David Kemper, and is being directed by Brian Henson. Filming began December 15th, 2003 and is expected to run until mid-March 2004.

Release date is "late 2004, early 2005" right now, so it looks like all us 'scapers may have a nifty Christmas present to look forward to. At least the darned thing is becoming a reality, and not some pipe dream as I'd feared for quite some time. WoOt!

Posted by scott at 01:43 PM | Comments (0)
I Wonder What Color it Would Be?

Found this Science Daily article detailing a recent material discovery that allows "magnetism at near-optical frequencies." No, I don't have any idea what it means, or what it would look like, or even IF it would be some sort of visible effect. However, it does apparently have important implications for various sorts of medical and security imaging. I think.

Posted by scott at 01:22 PM | Comments (0)
Farm Sluts

Presenting a tale of woe and bad luck, Farm Sluts. Just about the funniest short film I've seen in awhile, but grim, which is probably why most of you will like it. You sick puppies you.

As the Keeper of the Spam Bin here at work*, I do actually have to be careful about this. More than once I've had to hit the power button on my monitor once or twice because the spammers managed to con me into looking at something just as someone rounded the corner to my office. There's a reason my monitor points directly away from the door!

Posted by scott at 12:32 PM | Comments (0)
Rock: 1 Rover: 0

Sometimes you dig the rock, sometimes the rock digs you:

The sophisticated grinding tool deployed by NASA's rover Opportunity was apparently no match for a chunk of martian rock.

Even in failing you gain information. I'd imagine the RAT is pretty darned tough, and any rock tougher than it should be made of some interesting stuff. Of course, if they can't dig into it they may not be able to tell. Ah, the vagarities of robot exploration.

Posted by scott at 11:50 AM | Comments (0)
Imagine Two Very Tiny Banjos...

Washington Post carried this article on new AIDS research developments (free reg, blah blah) today. It seems they've finally figured out how AIDS is so effective at spreading once it is actually inside a cell, on an enzymatic level. This suggests a whole new avenue of treatment that can be explored.

Posted by scott at 10:07 AM | Comments (0)
Star Wars Fan Pic

Fark linked up this very cool "fan movie" based on Star Wars. I've only gotten through part 1 so far, but the quality of production is quite impressive, considering they don't have George's millions to spend. Cheesy? Well, yes, this is Star Wars after all. But it's certainly no worse than the past two films.

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

Introducting Ciganot, the cigarette that doesn't smoke, doesn't need to be lit, and doesn't have any tobacco in it. Yup, you guessed it, for $5.99 you can get a pack of plastic tubes packed with herbs & spices.

No, not those herbs.

Posted by scott at 08:01 AM | Comments (0)
March 07, 2004
Bunny Ears


Yeah ok, we know, she rolled over right when the pix was taken! Note the cleavage on this child! She has bigger boobs than me!

Posted by Ellen at 04:58 PM | Comments (3)
Iraqi Tactical Primer

Iraq Now leads us to this very informative technical article giving the nuts-and-bolts of "how to fight and win in Iraq":

American soldiers are facing men with a cell phone is one hand, a RPG in the other, and ill-conceived hatred in their heart ... Technology only enhances the soldiers’ capabilities to kill the enemy and win their hearts and minds simultaneously. In the end, US soldiers must meet the enemy — specifically terrorists — face-to-face, hand-to-hand and kill them. Company commanders must bring to bear creativity, aggressiveness, and an offensive spirit to take away the enemy’s will. In the end, gather information on enemy targets and then narrowly target them with overwhelming combat power.

Which is very much what most company-level commanders were saying about Vietnam for years. The difference, it would at least seem, is high command is listening this time. (In fact, Hackworth's recent column seems to back this up.)

Posted by scott at 04:43 PM | Comments (0)
Twilight Zone Time, for Cars

Also from FARK, this article detailing a bizarre cluster of keyless entry failures that ocurred last month in Las Vegas. The town's proximity to Nellis Air Force Base and the mysterious Area 51 does not go unnoticed. What's not mentioned in the article but has been mentioned numerous times in Aviation Week is that the military is quite close to fielding microwave-powered munitions. They're designed to fry electronics even in underground bunkers over a very large area. As I recall, last year AvWeek had someone tell them on background the military only had to get around the "make sure it fries the bad guys and not you" problem and they were done. Seems like they might be.

Next up? Solid-state lasers mounted on Humvees that'll fry incoming ordnance. No, really!

Posted by scott at 03:59 PM | Comments (3)
But Will It Shoot Across the Screen?

Fark linked up this article describing the creation of a real "Legend of Zelda" sword. For $3300, you too can be the biggest gaming geek in your neighborhood. Funny thing is, I can think of at least three people I know (not me) who'd spend it if they had it.

Posted by scott at 03:39 PM | Comments (2)
Mall-ing America

This Washington Post article (free reg, blah blah blah) about how malls could be better designed is interesting in and of itself, but I laughed out loud at this one:

[Paco Underhill, a retail researcher] spends a lot of time dissecting one of the most troubling issues for shoppers, which is the different way that men and women approach a mall. Men go to the mall just to go, with the family, to see people, to be out. Women go to the mall to shop ... on a city street, men walk faster than women. In the mall, it's the reverse: "Men tend to wander malls like semi-lost children, whereas women are the ones who inhabit the place with a true shopper's sense of purpose."

Malls could help the situation, but again, they don't. Underhill suggests better seating for men and more stores and attractions that typically appeal to them. "This has become one of the most poignant issues in all malldom, the matter of what to do with men while shopping takes place," Underhill says.

So that's why women look at men like they're retarded when we're all in a mall. Ok, so maybe it's one of the reasons.

Posted by scott at 03:36 PM | Comments (0)
Bellydance Superstars!

The Bellydance Superstars are comming to the area!! WOOHOO!!!

Thursday at 7:30 p.m. Class at 5 p.m.

The professional touring dance company performs with local troupe Raqs Sahara. Learn how to dance at a class with a live drummer.

At the Birchmere, 3701 Mount Vernon Ave., Alexandria

Tickets are $20-$25, class $40. (703)549-7500; for class reservations, call (301)404-1037

*sigh* and NO O-sitter in site. Oh well.

Posted by Ellen at 10:32 AM | Comments (5)
March 06, 2004
SeXpErImenT with A Real Doll

I'm guessing that, at least once per relationship, your partner will ask you if he or she is being used just for sex. Even if you're inclined to stop humping their leg for a minute and deny, deny, deny, more often than not, their gut instinct is well founded. If this is a recurring theme in your relationships with people, you might consider investing in a Real Doll, a high-end humanoid love toy that is guaranteed to love you long time — or, indeed, any time. A little creepy? Somewhat degrading? Sure, but so is making nice at Thanksgiving with the family of the person you can barely stand to look at anymore.

Real Dolls are certainly more natural. The skin responds to a squeeze like a healthy nineteen-year-old Midwestern girl's might. The shocking difference — something I hadn't really anticipated — was that my date was stone cold to the touch. (Matt later told me that Real Doll owners put the dolls under electric blankets or in the tub to heat them up; apparently, silicone retains warmth.) Undeterred, I popped a boob out of her chiffon dress. This would be the true test of anatomic accuracy. I breathed on Karen's perky orbs like a grandmother cleaning her spectacles, attempting to take the chill off. I took one in each hand, and it felt good. Really good. I closed my eyes and tried to imagine I was feeling a real woman's C-cup boobs. Oddly enough, aside from the slightly tacky feel of the silicone, these boobs felt more natural than the fake sets that reside on real people. I was so zenned out that I didn't notice Aaron sneak back into the room. "Looks like you've made friends," he said, jolting me out of my daydream.

Read entire article here.

Posted by Ellen at 06:15 PM | Comments (9)
What Clan Do You Belong To?

You aren't sure where you came from. Perhaps your sire did an embrace and run. Or maybe your sire was an outcast himself. Either way, your powers are unique and really don't belong to any clan...or maybe a little from each. Because you of these circumstances, you aren't really sure where you belong. You tend to wander and do a bit of soul searching in your eternal life. Maybe some have a while after all.

What Vampire Clan Do You Belong To?
Posted by Ellen at 06:11 PM | Comments (2)
Cat with Hands

This really should go under Weird and F'd up.

Cat with Hands.

Posted by Ellen at 05:43 PM | Comments (0)
Playing With Time

Watch how someone ages over several decades.

Very neat!

Posted by scott at 02:33 PM | Comments (0)
When Foliage Attacks!

Apparently trees will eat just about anything you feed them.

Kinda reminds me of the poltergeist tree in a weird way. CrEEpY!

Posted by scott at 02:30 PM | Comments (1)
Twisted Firestarter

Fark linked up this article detailing a new effort to determine if the great Chicago fire was in fact caused by a meteor or cometary impact. While the guy's theory does account for at least some of the evidence, I wonder what sort of predictions it makes that can be tested?

Posted by scott at 11:39 AM | Comments (0)
Bionic Brains

Washington Post carried this story about the development of brain implants to help cope with some brain disorders. They're being very careful in how they test and develop these systems, but the results are very promising for treating a range of ailments such as Parkinsons and OCD.

Posted by scott at 11:26 AM | Comments (1)
March 05, 2004
You Got Jail!

NEW YORK - Martha Stewart was convicted Friday of obstructing justice and lying to the government about why she unloaded her ImClone stock just before the price plummeted — a verdict that could send her to prison and cripple the homemaking empire built around her vision of gracious living.

The charges carry up to 20 years in prison for both Stewart and Bacanovic. The judge could potentially sentence the pair to time in a halfway house or home confinement, but legal experts have said the term would probably be reduced to roughly a year in prison under federal guidelines. Each charge carries a maximum sentence of five years and a $250,000 fine.

Read entire article here.

Posted by Ellen at 09:23 PM | Comments (8)
Godzilla Stomped Out

Five decades after Godzilla made his feature film debut, the mutant lizard is being put out to pasture.

Size apparently does matter, especially at the box office, where the franchise was floundering. And so Japanese studio Toho Co., which created the rubber reptile, announced Thursday that it would retire the big fella after this year's finale.

Read entire article here.

No- Prize to Rich!

Posted by Ellen at 09:13 PM | Comments (0)
World's Toughest Bunny Hunt

As everyone knows, on the cover of every Playboy magazine is the trademark bunny. What I want to know is, where's the hot green martian chick?

Yeah, I know, couch time for me. Was worth it.

Posted by scott at 07:45 PM | Comments (0)
Steaming Fires

New Scientist is carrying this article detailing how an engine meant to power boats has turned out to be an extremely effective firefighting tool.

Posted by scott at 01:55 PM | Comments (0)
When Photoshop Attacks

Kris gets a no-prize shaped like a "W" for bringing us If Bush was a Girl. And you people think I have too much time on my hands.

Posted by scott at 12:35 PM | Comments (0)
No, It's Not "You-All", it's "Ya'll"

Looks like if we ever manage to visit London, we'll still be able to get good barbeque:

There has been nothing subtle about the arrival of down-home Southern cooking in London. Thanks to the overpowering smell coming out of Bodean's chimney and a handful of American soul food restaurants that have opened here in the last year, the English - or at least, a certain trendy subset of British foodies - have discovered Southern food, and have gone gaga for it.

Of course, the author seems to have mixed up soul food, Tex-Mex, and barbeque, at least as I was raised to understand it. But he's a Yankee... he couldn't help it.

Via Site-Essential.

Posted by scott at 10:56 AM | Comments (0)
Mars Future is carrying this report detailing how the recent findings from the two rovers are altering plans for future exploration.

Posted by scott at 10:27 AM | Comments (0)
~ It's only a paper PC/Sitting under a...~ Waitaminute...

Slashdot linked up this story about a cardboard computer that's already in limited use in Europe. With only 32k of memory, it's functionality is rather limited, but can still do a lot of useful work (mostly inventory and warehouse stuff). However, it should be remembered there was a time when people thought 32k of memory was a luxurious waste.

Not that I can remember such a time. I've just, you know, heard rumors.

Posted by scott at 09:37 AM | Comments (0)
Why Isn't This Man in Congress?

From the "our politicians are just as stupid as yours" file, we have Governor Ibrahim Shekarau of Kano, in northern Nigera. Mr. Shekarau's claim to fame? He's decided he has a very good reason to prevent his citizens from being vaccinated against polio:

Governor Shekarau maintains that Kano state will only allow the polio vaccination exercise to be held if his trusted scientists are proved wrong.

They say that the polio vaccine is in fact a western plot to make African women, in particular Muslims, infertile.

Of course, we all know the real reason Africa is such a basket case is because of colonialism imposed by the great European powers, and the racist imperialistic policies of the United States in the post-WWII decades. Forty years of independence and utterly incompetent political leadership have absolutely nothing to do with it.


Posted by scott at 08:17 AM | Comments (1)
March 04, 2004

Found this Space Daily article detailing the latest in nano machines: muscle-powered robots. The first working example is apparently half the width of a human hair and is powered by the pulsing of some heart muscle. This represents a real breakthrough in how nanomachines are powered. Previous systems required electricity, while these simply need some glucose.

I fully believe that by the time my great-grandchildren are ready to buy a house, what they'll actually do is buy a plot of land, a mound of specially formulated dirt, a barrel of fluid and a bag of sand. The sand [micromachines] would be poured into the barrel [full of micromachine fuel], stirred up [activating the machines], and the barrel then poured on top of the dirt [full of the basic elements of all the construction materials]. A few days later in place of the dirt pile there would be a fully functioning house (perhaps right down to the electrics and HVAC).

Magic? Maybe. But even the most magic things start from tiny beginnings.

Posted by scott at 12:27 PM | Comments (1)
Pothole Killah!

Fark linked up this WJLA news story about the latest in road repair technology, the pothole killer. This truck-mounted system promises to repair roads at least twice as fast as the previous crew-based method, while saving money by not needing said crew. This being government, it'll probably still require four people to drive the truck, but at least three of them won't be standing around. Much.

Posted by scott at 10:44 AM | Comments (1)
Lego Planes

Carrie gets a no-prize that'll break into pieces at the touch of a button for bringing us the latest in wacky patent applications for airplanes:

Canada has issued a patent for a futuristic commercial jet design that would protect passengers in an emergency by breaking apart and letting the sections parachute gently to the ground.

As noted in the article, it's a pipe dream, unattainable with current or even near-future technologies. Not to mention how nervous people would be flying around in an airplane that's supposed to come apart.

Posted by scott at 09:34 AM | Comments (2)

New Scientist is carrying this article detailing a new discovery in AIDS research. Seems that a virus so harmless it doesn't even have an interesting name (GBV-C) somehow provides substantial protection from HIV infection turning into full-blown AIDS. Nobody knows precisely how or why. It also represents the first proven case of a viral infection adversely affecting another one.

Posted by scott at 08:27 AM | Comments (0)
March 03, 2004
A Supercar Even a Treehugger Would Love?

Jeff gets a hybrid no-prize for bringing us news and photos of the upcoming Toyota hybrid sports car. 400+ horsepower and you get to use the HOV lanes too. What's not to love?

Posted by scott at 03:36 PM | Comments (0)
New Fusion

Seems like there are new and important breakthroughs in fusion research:

Rusi Taleyarkhan is the principal investigator and a professor of nuclear engineering at Purdue. In effect, the research team is producing nuclear emissions in a simple desktop apparatus. The discovery allows, for the first time in history, the ability to use a simple mechanical force to initiate conditions comparable to the interiors of stars.

It's not cold fusion, but it sure sounds (har!) surreal. Here's to hoping it turns into something we can power our homes with some day!

Posted by scott at 03:12 PM | Comments (1)
Sauron Made Real?

Pat's no-prize stares balefully down from the sky because she brought us this picture of the so-called Eye of God. Far as anyone knows, it's not a photoshop, even though it looks sorta like one. Just when you thought the universe couldn't get any more spectacular...

Posted by scott at 01:34 PM | Comments (0)
Tests! Get Yer Silly Tests Here!

This time we have one for the ladies, and one for the guys. You get to pick which is which:

My results (click the MORE link) were surprisingly unsurprising, at least to me. How'd you do?

Via Cobb and Michele, respectively.

Which Colossal Death Robot Are You?

You will sink in a mire. You like to think you're
normal, but deep down you really just want to
strip off your clothes and roll around in
chicken fat.

What horrible Edward Gorey Death will you die?
brought to you by Quizilla
Posted by scott at 12:24 PM | Comments (3)
What He Said

Instapundit posted up an e-mail making some very valid points about Bush's upcoming campaign:

To my mind, continued support of a president who has many objectionable policies in other areas of interest to me is dependent upon confidence in his future leadership on the war. I for one need to hear much more from him about the war objectives for his second term.

I know it'll come as a huge surprise to the peanut gallery, who think I need only put on the helmet to complete the transformation, but I agree almost completely with this particular post. So far I'm voting for Bush, for almost precisely the reasons articulated, but it's just possible Kerry's positions could talk me out of it. Now that the gallery has chosen its candidate, I'll start paying attention to what he says.

And yes, I too think this is a damned appropriate cartoon for the current situation.

Posted by scott at 11:08 AM | Comments (1)
Martian Chemistry

By now you probably know the MER scientists have concluded Opportunity's landing site was once covered in water. this article explains how they came to that conclusion. In a nutshell, the patterns of mineral deposits found exactly duplicate those on earth created by evaporating water.

Posted by scott at 09:57 AM | Comments (0)
And You Thought "Body Snatchers" was Just a Movie

Hope, Arkansas is not just "the town where Bill was born." Turns out it is also the home of giagantor watermelons:

The watermelons sold to our customers weigh from 130 to 190 pounds. Larger watermelons are usually kept for competitions and for seeds. The variety that reaches the greatest size is the Carolina Cross and we have grown one as large as 260 pounds.

A watermelon that's literally bigger than my girl, the watermelon freak. Will my life ever be the same? Could this make Ellen actually consider moving to Arkansas?


Posted by scott at 08:45 AM | Comments (3)
If the UN Solved the Problem of the Ring

IMAO hits a solid one with this "what-if" scenario involving the UN, France, GW Bush, and The One Ring:

'France shall takeses good cares of the ring,' Jacques Chirac said, rubbing his hands together greedily, 'Yesss. Give the precious to France.'
'No!' Gandalf yelled, 'If the ring is wielded by anyone, then its evil shall eventually find its way back to Sauron. Then all will be lost. The ring must be destroyed.'

'While we're deciding whether to destroy it or not,' Condi said as she reached for the pedestal, 'Why don't I hold on to it.'

Posted by scott at 08:11 AM | Comments (0)
March 02, 2004
Got Skillz?

Ninja Skills, a simple little video game to burn the last hour of the workday with. Reminds me of Xevious, sort of.

Posted by scott at 03:21 PM | Comments (0)
Fuzzy Holes is carrying this new article summarizing the latest in head-splitting quantum explanations for black hole behavior.

It would appear some scientists have proven that black holes are "fuzzy" on a quantum scale, and that information about them is not in fact destroyed at their formation. If I'm reading the article correctly, it strongly implies there should be methods available to trace a black hole's origin to whatever "regular" astronomical object created it.

I'm going to go soak my head now...

Posted by scott at 02:45 PM | Comments (0)
Tiger Grabbin'

This Japanese video (which requires no knowledge of Japanese to enjoy), proves a number of things:

To the fighter jock:
Boom and zoom is always more fun than turn and burn (or: You meet a better class of people in the vertical.)

To the car guy:
Big and powerful is not always superior to nimble and quick.

To the cat chick:
Kitties are cute! Apes are mean!

To the tiger:
Freaking bouncy annoying @#$% food-thing... hold still!

To the ape:
Freaking big smelly annoying @$%* punk-ass kids... get off my lawn!

~Let's bungle/in the jungle~

Posted by scott at 12:58 PM | Comments (2)
T-Shirt Politics

While the main thrust of this story about a new T-shirt with the slogan, "voting is for old people" is predictable, I found this aside quite interesting:

In 2000, 42 percent of the youth vote turned out at the polls, compared to 70 percent of voters over age 25, the study reported. [emphasis added]

And here I thought the US was the least-participatory democracy in the free world. Oh who knows it probably still is, but it's a damned sight better than the usual "just over half the US votes" line you tend to get.

I got a lot more serious about voting once I learned just how big the difference was in what the federal government spent on those under 25 versus those over 65. The main reason? Old people vote.

Of course, now that I'm not 25 or under, I'm nowhere near as upset by this situation. So by all means please feel free to sit this next election out if you're under 25. Us old farts will be quite happy to help ourselves to your tax dollars. Oh, I'm sorry... it looks like we already are!

Posted by scott at 12:20 PM | Comments (3)
There's Just No Describing This One

Well, it's from NIH, so it can't be a hoax, can it? Behold the case of "Accidental Condom Inhalation". No, really!

Posted by scott at 10:59 AM | Comments (0)
A Postcard from the Edge

Well, if people are going to call me an extreme wacko, might as well go all the way:

Some people walk by the Hummer. We can see them outside, but they can't see in. I'm betting he's going to yell for help.

He does.

"Help! Help! Get me out of here! Help! Murder! Murder! Capitalist Murder! George Bush Repubs here!!!!"

I laugh. They walk by. They never heard a thing. Of course they wouldn't. This truck is Tritanium Plasteel reinforced with Transparent Aluminum windows. You can shoot it with an RPG and nothing will happen. Yeah, that's right - it isn't of this earth. The Aliens at Roswell negotiated a deal with us Repubs a few decades ago and we've been profiting ever since. Our tobacco plantations and other manufacturing sectors have been feeding them their basic necessities of the pleasures of life and in return, we get things to make it easier to rule the world. They love chocolate and coffee too. Why do you think the price has gone up lately?

Long but brilliant satire of attitudes on both sides.

Or is it... ?

Via Misha.

Posted by scott at 10:11 AM | Comments (2)
Pampered is...

Kerry Carrie gets a no-prize on a leash for showing us it's a pet's life indeed:

Pet owners in a central Italian town must pamper their dogs, cats and birds and even show mercy to supper-time lobsters or face fines as high as 500 euros.

Sounds like something Singapore would pull to me. Now, I'm all for making sure people take good care of their animals (my wife is absolutely draconian, as a recent drama has proven), but I'm not sure you can show mercy to a bug that crawls on the bottom of the ocean. I mean, how else do you off a lobster while making sure it stays edible?

Update Carrie. Carrie. Carrie. Carrie. I blame the Democrats for that one!

Posted by scott at 09:14 AM | Comments (2)
Chicken Little a Myth?

Fark linked up this IOL article detailing recent findings about the Chicxulub crater, thought to be the "smoking gun" providing direct evidence of an impact killing off the dinosaurs. Unfortunately it would seem Chicxulub crater is 300,000 years too old to be the direct cause, so now scientists are looking to see if perhaps a whole host of items, including several major impacts, may have been the culprit.

Posted by scott at 07:59 AM | Comments (3)
March 01, 2004
Thunder Lizard Indeed

BBCnews is reporting the discovery of a new "biggest ever" dinosaur. This one's a lower-Cretaceous (110-130 m.y.a.) herbivor that was about 115 feet long and weighed about 55 tons. It was found in the Teruel province of Spain.

Posted by scott at 03:51 PM | Comments (0)
How Old Were You When...

Pat gets a graduated no-prize for bringing us The Age Gauge. Fun: putting your own birthday in. Funner: putting 1776 as your birth year.

Yeah, ok, I'm easily amused.

Posted by scott at 02:08 PM | Comments (4)
Welcome to Our World, Please Have a Seat

Growing up in the 70s, I distinctly remember one of the many ways the international community bashed the US was over its treatment of immigrants and "non-whites." Now, the US wasn't the best it could've been then, probably isn't now, but I always wondered how much of that criticism was coming from people who didn't even know what an immigration problem looked like. Now I know:

"We're trying to avoid development of ethnic neighborhoods. One ethnicity cannot dominate an entire neighborhood. There cannot be a Chinatown in Rome," said Maria Grazia Arditto, spokeswoman for the commerce adviser to the mayor and the department in charge of regulating trade in the city.

For the Chinese, the issue is one of civic and human rights. "These rules are simply discriminatory. They apply only to Esquilino and only because of the Chinese," said Daniele Wong, an Italian-born Chinese activist who has mediated with city hall over the issue. "There's an atmosphere of yellow peril hysteria in Rome."

I would make a comment about glass houses and motes vs. beams, but nobody'd notice anyway. I wonder how long it'll take them to blame it on the Bush administration?

Posted by scott at 01:09 PM | Comments (0)
When Cuteness Isn't Enough

Kris gets a big thick catalog of no-prizes for bringing us this graphic demonstration of dissatisfaction in the workplace.

Gotta be careful with those things. What seems soft enough at low speed can be damned hard when moving fast. When I worked at McDonalds they had these gigantic rolls of plastic wrap... probably three feet across and 2500 feet long. A new roll was about six inches thick and weighed twenty pounds easy. However, it was soft enough you could press your thumb into it and leave an imprint.

Which, I suppose, is what convinced one of the cooks it would make a good "bop" tool in the horse-around games the closing crew would play at times. The resulting concussion received by a front-line girl might've resulted in criminal charges had we not all known the kid was harmless and horrified at what had happened. Of course, it didn't hurt that nobody particularly liked the bop-ee.

See? I've been evil a long time.

Update Link fixed. Sorry 'bout that.

Posted by scott at 11:57 AM | Comments (4)
Scary Smart

The Washington Post today featured this article on "Hyperlexia", a learning disorder that is apparently the exact opposite of dislexia. The main focus of the article was on a child named Alex:

By the time he was a year old, Alex Rosen of Bethesda would spend time at birthday parties thumbing through magazines while other children played with toys. By the time he was 3, if his mother's finger skipped a line as she was reading a story, he would place her finger on the correct point in the text. By the time he started school, he was reading like a 12-year-old.

Olivia still enjoys gnawing on books more than looking at them, so I think we've missed this one. However, I hold out no hope that it means she won't have twice the smarts required to get daddy to do whatever she wants.

Posted by scott at 11:00 AM | Comments (0)
Unfortunately, You Can't Put it On the Dash

Behold the power of Cheesus. ~ I don't care if the whole world freezes/ as long as I've got my Cheddar Cheesus (TM)~

Via, appropriately enough, The Cheese Stands Alone.

Posted by scott at 10:24 AM | Comments (0)
Mars Update

Slashdot linked up this article summarizing the latest news on the Mars rover. Seems the reporters there are sniffing the edges of a really big story, but the NASA scientists are keeping their mouths shut. Leading bets are liquid water on Mars now, a "blue" (large oceans) Mars in the past, and perhaps even microbial life today.

Posted by scott at 09:12 AM | Comments (0)
And People are Surprised This Happened Because... ?

Dressing up as Frakenfurter to go to a Rocky Horror show: good. Dressing up as satan to go to The Passion: bad:

”I always like to push the limits,” [Tyler Wendell, a 19 year old freshman at the University of Southern Indiana] said. Many were upset that Wendell chose to wear a devil costume to a religious movie. Many patrons jeered Wendell as he stood in line for concessions.

Once inside the movie, Christians began pelting Wendell with Gummy Bears, Ju-Ju Bees, and popcorn. Management got involved after a 75-year-old woman, Hazel Meyer, poured a 64-ounce Coca-Cola on Wendell.

Typical teenaged moronitude. Have to admit though, it worked. He got his name in the paper and everything.

Posted by scott at 08:12 AM | Comments (2)