April 30, 2004
I Wonder How You Say "Squish" in German?

Contest: Main Battle Tank vs. Standard Euro sedan. Result: FATALITY

I think the main reason people aren't allowed to own tanks is because it'd be too damned much fun to run stuff over with them. Under no circumstances will we let Ms. Road Rage '04 Carozza get in one, at least not unless we're all a long, long way off.

Posted by scott at 01:22 PM | Comments (1)
Rovin' Rovin' Rovin'

Big media may have forgotten about the Mars rovers, but we haven't. Neither have space.com, as this summary article proves. Looks like they're literally "heading for the hills", although at a cruise speed that will get them there in a few months. I still think it's trippy that, aside from blowing wind, the only sound on an entire world is the whirring of two small sets of gears.

Posted by scott at 12:15 PM | Comments (0)
Ancient Firestarter

NewScientist is carrying this article detailing what could be the oldest evidence of human use of fire found to date. Discovered on the banks of the Jordan river, the site dates to approximately 790,000 years ago, which would put it squarely in the time period of Homo erectus (shaddup Kris). The finding of man-made fire is, of course, contested.

Posted by scott at 10:29 AM | Comments (0)
Think of Them as Really Round Penises

A careful viewer will note the cars that sit on these monstrosities are not actually Japanese. Whoever thought you could chrome-dip tractor wheels?

Of course you know it's only a matter of time before they do start turning up on Japanese cars. Coupled with the standard "dumbass-doesn't-realize-it's-a-parachute" wings, getting them into parking garages will be most amusing!

Posted by scott at 09:35 AM | Comments (0)

While This St. Petersburg Times piece is mostly about a pedestrian if occasionally colorful murder case, a careful reader will note something rather jarring:

Four days [after breaking into a cell phone dealership], [Kenneth D.] Holland tried to burglarize a 1991 Fleetwood motor home ... After he unsuccessfully tried to pry open the door, Holland turned his attention to a 2004 Alfa Romeo motor home and broke a window, the report said. (emphasis added)

Ok, in case you all were wondering, no, Alfa never made a motor home, let alone one nearly ten years after they left the US market. Alfa people are so desperate for recognition I'd have heard of a same-name company that just happens to make RVs years ago.

So I guess the question should be, is there a motor home company that sorta sounds like AR, or is the reporter just retarded?

Oh, I know the answer, I just want to see if you do.

Posted by scott at 08:20 AM | Comments (0)
April 29, 2004
Boobs in a Box

Ever see these on late night TV? I saw this boob gadget on HSN a few weeks ago and was very interested, almost immediately. Why? 'Cause it has to do with making boobs bigger! Cheaper! Bigger, faster, cheaper... how American is that? Not saggy ass big boobs, but boobs that [echo]defy-y-y-y... gravity-ty-ty-ty....[/echo]

Today I was in CVS, again, getting O more antibiotics, again, for an ear infection that will not go away. Suddenly, I noticed a halo-like glow coming from one of the shelves. A hosana of angels could be heard. Sure, it sounded a lot like No Doubt's "My Life" in Muzak, but hey, work with me here.

BOOBS!!! IN A BOX!!! OH. MY. GOD!!! CVS HAS THEM!!! And for 1/2 off the TV price! What a steal! And in a C cup! Bigger is better with an Italian ass to compliment. I don't think I was ever prouder or more eager to run up to a counter and pay for something from an infomercial. Yes, I had become that housewife in curlers. If I smoked I would've had a cigarette hanging out of my mouth as I pulled out the credit card.

But would they really work?

Upon returning home, I found myself unable to open the damn packaging. Would someone please explain to me when transparent kevlar was invented, and which marketing dumbass thought it would be great to use as packaging? Bandsaws can't get through this stuff.

But it couldn't stop me. I was on a mission. When I did have it open, the package literally sang to me. Tiny Dolly Partons with wings fluttered down from the heavens, and every redneck in the world suddenly had the irresistable urge to snap his eyes downward. BOOOOOOOOBSS!!! TOUCH ME!!! FEEL MY SILICONE-Y GOODNESS!!!

WOW! Soft! And sticky on the inside. Right there in the kitchen, off comes the blouse and bra and I stick my new boobs on (according to the package directions.)

WOW!!!! They pass the jump test. *BOINGY! BOINGY! BOINGY!* They pass the arms over the head, the bend over and chest sqeeze. Scott thought I was doing a warmup. These things STICK! But do they look good under a shirt? OH HELL YEAH!!! and NO SEAMS!

They are pretty darn neat! But as I looked at myself in the mirror, I wanted them bigger. Eventually I want to shelter a small immigrant family under my cleavage. It's not there yet, but it's a start. I got an awsome pair of boobs.

In a box!

Posted by Ellen at 09:10 PM | Comments (8)
Monty Python in the Traffic Lane

Slashdot linked up this BBCnews article detailing the latest in highway safety inventions: self-propelled, robotic traffic barrels:

Each 130cm-high robot takes the form of a bright red barrel which sits atop a three-wheeled motorised base

I'm sorry, the image of one of these things studiously plodding into position only to get creamed by Buffy-the-SUV-Slayer just makes me laugh out loud. But in all seriousness better that than her splatting a highway worker.

Because we all know how busy those highway workers are.

Posted by scott at 02:27 PM | Comments (3)
The Cult of the Card

I mean, really, are the Palestinians that fascinated with death? You be the judge:

The cards are the depressing and all-too-familiar scenes from a child's life here, such as an image of a child killed in a demonstration against Israeli soldiers ... Another image, of a little boy dressed up as a suicide bomber, they have seen in regular marches by the extremist groups.

The author tries really hard to present an evenhanded account, mostly by emphasising how tragic it is that kids have to see this stuff. But even they seem not to be able to overcome the horror of it:

There are prizes for the first kids to complete their Intifada album ... normal, harmless rewards for a game that seems to perpetuate an abnormal culture of suffering, martyrdom and revenge.


Posted by scott at 01:46 PM | Comments (0)
~ I Puts on Women's Clothing, and Hangs Around in Bars ~

So let's say you're a guy going through the attic getting ready to move, and lo and behold you find your ex-wife's wedding dress. What do you do? What do you do, punk?!? Sell it on e-bay, of course:

I found my ex-wife's wedding dress in the attic when I moved. She took the $4000 engagement ring but left the dress. I was actually going to have a dress burning party when the divorce became final, but my sister talked me out of it. She said, "That’s such a gorgeous dress. Some lucky girl would be glad to have it. You should sell it on EBay. At least get something back for it." So, this is what I’m doing. I’m selling it hoping to get enough money for maybe a couple of Mariners tickets and some beer.

You'll never believe who he's got modeling the thing. Even better is the description:

As I was putting this ad in EBay, it asked me for a color. Is a wedding dress any other freaking color than white or ivory??!! If it is it wouldn't be a wedding dress, now would it?? I suppose black would work...

God I love this country!

Posted by scott at 12:43 PM | Comments (1)
April 28, 2004
Porn Blog

This is for my brother, Rich.


Read at your own risk. NSFW!!

Posted by Ellen at 08:54 PM | Comments (2)
Head... Spinning...

Now that I've seen the Lego Escher, I've come to the conclusion Legos really can be used to build anything.

Posted by scott at 02:22 PM | Comments (0)
Oh, We're Definitely Going to See That

Just when you'd thought you'd seen everything:

There is one exhibit in the museum which makes Knyazkin be especially proud of. This is the 30-centimeter preserved penis of Grigory Rasputin. “Having this exhibit, we can stop envying America, where Napoleon Bonaparte’s penis is now kept. … Napoleon’s penis is but a small ”pod“ it cannot stand comparison to our organ of 30 centimeters…” the head of the museum said.

Let's see... 1 cm = .39 inches, times 30 = ... whoa... no wonder he was so popular with the ladies.

Posted by scott at 01:18 PM | Comments (0)
The Mummies Return

New Scientist is carrying this article detailing the discovery of another big Egyptian mummy cache, this time just south of Cairo. Believed to have been in use from about 660 BC to about 30 BC, it contains at least 50 mummies in a remarkable state of preservation. Everyone's favorite Egyptologist Zahi Hawas is, of course, prominently featured.

Posted by scott at 11:23 AM | Comments (1)
When Darwin Awards Attack

Yeah, I know, I'm a sick bastard, but I'm sorry I just can't stop laughing at this:

A Hamas suicide bomber blew up two armed Palestinians who tried to rob him at gun point in the Gaza Strip.

I'm quite simply paralized by all the different black humor angles to this thing. This is such bad karma!

Posted by scott at 09:53 AM | Comments (1)
Anatomy of a Supercar

Slashdot linked up this "how stuff works" article on the Bugatti Veyron, a 1,000 hp supercar. A must-read for all the car nuts out there. Because it takes the "car-as-a-gizmo" angle, it's also good reading for the gadget crazies in the gallery (Joshua).

The Veyron is the SR-71 of road cars. Everything, and I mean everything, is superlative, first-in-class, and sometimes just plain nutty. However, Bugatti have a reputation for first-class vaporware cars, so personally I'll believe this thing is actually in production when I see one in all its carbon fiber glory. Otherwise it's yet another spectacular show car all the magazines spooge about periodically.

Update Slashdotters are a monument to the axiom, "those who know a lot about one thing assume they know a lot about everying." Some choice comments:

With the same tires, my car would probably stay neck and neck with this thing up to about 30 MPH.

As one who has actually tried to race a car that had 4x the horsepower, I can confidently tell you the only way you'll stay with this thing up to 30 mph is if it's towing you.

As for 1000+ hp, there are a ton of big block v8s making that power all over this country. Some making significantly more. A few even do it on pump gas

Ever tried to drive one on the street? Ever see one make that much power for more than 10 seconds? How about two hours? There's a reason why they tear down top fuel motors after every 1500 foot run.

"How do you keep a passenger car on the road at 250+ MPH?"

The answer for most people is: you don't.

Finally, one I can agree with.

Posted by scott at 09:26 AM | Comments (0)
Shocked I Tell You, Just Shocked!

What happens when a third-string journalist tries to a foreign policy expert? This happens:

The Chinese, who launched their first astronaut into space last year, are "shocked" the United States has not welcomed them into the tight-knit community of space-faring nations.
[This expectation of a warm welcome] ran into a wall of U.S. suspicion that the Chinese program, which is under military control, could someday pose a threat to the U.S. domination in satellites used for military communications, reconnaissance and tracking.

Launching the first man into orbit was a stunt designed to send a message to the United States... we can loft a warhead anywhere into your country and there's not a damned thing you can do about it. Our reply meant the same thing. It took forty years before we started to "warmly" co-operate with our other space rival.

Now here comes the next bunch, with missles and warheads and a big ol' oppressive oligarchy and a military nobody really understands let alone controls, and we're supposed to welcome them with open arms? The only really surprising thing is that a reporter would find it surprising.

Or maybe not.

Posted by scott at 08:24 AM | Comments (1)
April 27, 2004
Guest Author: David Farrant and the Highgate Vampire

David Farrant (of Vampire Hunters fame) has requested space to post up some of his own vampire lore. As a home to some of the weirder things in life, we were happy to oblige. We also appreciate this look at a fascinating bit of British pop culture that history seems to have passed by. Certain parties may have opposing viewpoints, and they are welcome to submit their own account or comment below. Nothing like primary sources, eh? --Scott

HIGHGATE CEMETERY - a rapidly decaying relic of Victorian architecture - has now become the center of the growing interest in the occult sciences.

First reported in the Press in 1970, the now almost legendary vampire of Highgate Cemetery started the trickle of interest, which has now become a flood.

On the eve of Sabbaths in the occult calendar, hundreds of people gather outside the gates of the cemetery to catch a glimpse of the "vampire". For the last two Hallowe'ens police have been called to control the mob that forms at midnight.

Many local people have reported seeing the "vampire", several of whom wrote to the local Press describing their experience. The British Occult Society decided to investigate after I had witnessed the phenomenon on two occasions.

The investigation was carried out to a strict schedule for a period of six months, during which there was always at least one member of the society watching in the cemetery. The parts we concentrated on mainly were the Columbarium ((a sunken circle of tombs) and an area close to the top gate where the sightings had been most frequent.

As you can imagine, a thorough investigation of this type in a cemetery is not an easy matter. Every vigil carried out by the society met with obstacles whether it were Satanic worshippers, vandals or the police. I have been arrested twice although fortunately I was able to clear my name by proving that I was a genuine occultist.

Not all our investigations, however, have been entirely unsuccessful and as a result of our findings I have no doubt in my mind as to the existence of the "vampire-like creature" which haunts the cemetery.


I think at this stage it is important to explain a very important factor, that being the actual definition of a "vampire". In so doing perhaps I can remove the element of ignorance from the minds of the many skeptical people who regard vampires among the absurdities of the supernatural. Indeed, with the true facts buried deep beneath so much fallacy and exaggeration, it is hardly surprising the truth has been lost amongst the legends of the misty past. So in order to be able to draw any sort of accurate conclusion, one has to go to the heart of the legend.

There is no doubt, however, that legend is based originally on fact however misdirected and exaggerated it may have become through the centuries.

But it was during the 19th century that the vampire made its impact. In 1847 "Varney the Vampire" (a novel by Thomas Priest) became so popular that it was reprinted many times, before it was finally over-ridden by Bram Stoker's "Dracula" - written with all its Victorian authenticity - that has given birth to the vampire as we know it today.

It is the Dracula of this book which makes the vampire seem like a "fanged blood-sucking beast" which has escaped from a Hammer horror film: but this is not a fair conception. At least not quite. Although it would be untrue to say there is no connection between the two; there can be no doubt that by becoming commercialised the vampire has lost much of its original authenticity. This is a pity becomes even more difficult to separate fact from fact, or fiction from legend.


By this it must not be presumed that the legend has originated from the book. The book has originated from the legend. It is even likely - in an uncanny way - that the Highgate phenomena inspired Stoker in the writing of "Dracula." (It is interesting to note that Stoker makes direct reference to Highgate Cemetery as one of the resting places of one of Dracula's disciples.) From this an interesting point arises. Was Stoker's knowledge derived from ancient myth, or was he too that perhaps something of this kind was in existence? It is unlikely that we shall ever known, but if the latter is true, it could provide an interesting clue to the present phenomena.

One thing is certain however, and this is the actual legend has been in existence long before it came to light in the 19th century. The actual date is not clear, but references is made to vampirism as early as the Medieval era.

Although there is no evidence to substantiate that the Highgate vampire is recorded as far back as this, there are too many reports to ignore its authenticity.

One of these came to light as recently as 1971 when a young girl claims she was actually attacked by "something" in the lane outside the cemetery. She was returning home in the early hours of one morning when she was suddenly thrown to the ground with tremendous force by a "tall black figure with a deathly white face." At that moment a car stopped to help her and the figure "vanished" in the glare of the headlamps.

She was taken to the police station in a state of shock, luckily only suffering abrasions to her arms and legs. The police immediately made a thorough search of the area , but could offerno explanation to the incident. More mysterious still was the fact that where the figure "vanished", the road was lined by 12ft walls.

Part Two


Another interesting case is that of the man who was "hypnotised" by "something" in the cemetery. He had gone into the cemetery one evening to "look around," and as the light began to rapidly fade he decided to leave, but became hopelessly lost. Not being a superstitious person he walked calmly around looking for the gate when suddenly he became aware of something behind him. Swinging around he became "hypnotised with fear" at the tall dark spectre which was confronting him. So great was the intensity of his fear that he stood motionless for several minutes after the spectre had vanished. He later recalled that it was almost as if he had been paralysed with fear by some force.

There have been many reports such as this all describing "the tall black figure with a death-like countenance." Unfortunately, these are too numerous to describe in detail, but I myself, having witnessed the phenomena, have no doubts as to their authenticity.

However, it is not only the possible existence of the vampire which has caused such controversy lately. Satanic worshipping and desecration are increasing at an alarming rate. Graves are violated and remains are used as emblems in black magic ceremonies.

Recently the charred body of a woman was found headless impaled by a stake. It had been used in such a ceremony. The fact that it was found by two schoolgirls makes the incident even more gruesome.

In a part of the cemetery - which I am not prepared to disclose - Satanic Masses regularly take place and have been observed by myself and other members of the British Occult Society. The people concerned are not youngsters "out for kicks", but genuine Satanists who take part in bizarre rites, and include sexual practice as part of their worship. It would be wrong to mistake their rite for harmless orgies. They are, on the contrary, using this tremendous sexual power - generated by many people - to direct and help them in the practice of their magic.

Although the motive is not clear, their main aim seems to be invoking certain spirits to establish contact with the devil. There is also some likelihood of their being responsible for - or having some connection with - the frequent sighting of the vampire. Unfortunately, lack of evidence prevents me from commenting further on this at present.

Being an occultist, it is only my job to present the facts as we have found them, and not to bias people with my own personal opinions.

I think at this stage however, I should make some comment regarding my own position in the occult. As I have been the subject of much publicity lately, I, together with my associates have come to be regarded as "mysterious". The "Sunday People's" recent reference to me as a "white witch" and "vampire hunter" has only served to increase this "aura of mystery" which surrounds us, and subsequently we are made scape-goats for any unexplained occurrences in the district.

It is true that I am the founder of a magical society, and our activities do involve our going to Highgate cemetery, but we are in no way connected with the black magic which is practised there. Our Society is well-versed in many fors of white magic - including Kabbalisting - but we (and indeed all the witches I know) would never break our code and use this for an evil purpose. the rites and ceremonies, however, must remain a secret as they have done through the ages - for to betray these secrets would be to violate a sacred oath.

I am constantly having to protect our beliefs and justify our actions in to disbelieving authorities. In the midst of such scepticism it is ardly surprising that the public in its ignorance has come to regard us with suspicion.


Our investigations, however, will continue. The vampire has become sensational, and the more sensational it is, the more difficult it becomes to differentiate between actual happening, the possibility of there being a logical explanation or hoaxing. The Loch Ness Monster can be taken as a typical example of this.

It really is impossible to draw a line between relevant aspects, and what is just sheer fantasy. One thing is certain, however, there have been so man sightings and authentic reports (which cannot all be dismissed as wishful thinking), that there must lurk an element of truth. It is for this that we search.

NB Exclusive copyright Mr. David Farrant. This article first appeared in the Camden Journal on May 5th 1972, a (then)sister paper of the Hornsey Journal.

Posted by scott at 04:05 PM | Comments (364)
End of the Line

Jeff gets a no-prize for letting us know Oldsmobile production officially ends this week. Supposedly the oldest automotive brand name in the US, it has been closed down due to lack of sales and market overlap. Where art thou, 442?

Posted by scott at 03:54 PM | Comments (0)
Fossil Fire

BBCnews is carrying this article detailing the discovery of the earliest wildfire yet known. It happened about 440 million years ago, when plants weren't much more than an inch or two high and the Earth's atmosphere contained 3% less oxygen than it does now. Very cool.

Posted by scott at 01:56 PM | Comments (0)
Personally, I like "Splat-a-tite" Better

Space.com is carrying this nice detailed article on the discovery of a new mineral formed through lunar impacts. Called "hapkeite" after the scientist who predicted it 30 years ago, its existence helps explain how objects "weather" in space.

Posted by scott at 12:29 PM | Comments (0)
A HUD in Your Head

Slashdot linked up this BBCNews article detailing the latest in commercial display technology:

US firm Microvision has developed a system that projects lasers onto the retina, allowing users to view images on top of their normal field of vision.

Already in use at some Honda dealerships, apparently it results in a 40% time savings for their mechanics, who no longer need to look up diagnostic info or manual procedures. Of course, it's expensive right now, but that will change.

Apparently this tech has been in use a long time in the military. It seems this is the technology that makes the monocle used by Apache helicopter gunners work. I'd not heard that before, makes me think it was classified for awhile.

Posted by scott at 10:29 AM | Comments (0)
The Inner Voice

The Washington Post ran this article today from a reporter just back from being "embedded" with the Marines in Fallujah:

For the next two weeks, I would live among a battalion of Marines in a deserted factory filled with thousands of crates of soda pop. Snipers and anti-rocket nets had been placed on the roof. Sandbags and barbed wire scrolls surrounded the gates.

A surprisingly even-handed account of personal experience. Again, this is an extremely important bellweather article. Forty years ago, this sort of article... personal and "I-was-there-and-this-is-what-I-saw" in tone, was where reporters were finally able to begin exposing the debacle that Vietnam was becoming.

Of course, back then a reporter would lose his job for filing a negative story on the war. The editors just wouldn't accept them, thought they were pro-communist or hurt the troops. The irony that such personal "below the radar" accounts are now used to get comparatively positive stories out should not be lost on anyone.

Posted by scott at 09:37 AM | Comments (0)
You Geeve Me the Idol, I Geeve You the Whip

In the "press releases are not actually news" category, we have this announcement of the imminent discovery of Noah's ark:

The Trinity Corporation today announced that they have collected new satellite images taken over Mount Ararat in Eastern Turkey [which] reveal a man- made structure at the site where the Bible states Noah's Ark came to rest.

Paging Indiana Jones, white courtesy phone please....

I personally find the Black Sea flood theory a much more interesting and more likely scenario.

Update: Slashdot linked the story too, but chose this CNN article. Interesting in that you get to see how the media transform a press conference and issued release into a news "story".

Space.com actually has one of their pictures. Looks like a weird outcrop to me.

Posted by scott at 08:26 AM | Comments (3)
April 26, 2004

I have a hard time believing this interview is not bullshit.

Karen Greenlee is a necrophiliac. Five years ago she made national headlines when she drove off in a hearse and wasn't heard from for two days. Instead of delivering the body to the cemetery she decided to spend some time alone with the corpse. Eventually, the police found her in the next county, overdosed on codeine Tylenol. She was charged with illegally driving a hearse and interfering with the burial (there is no law in California against necrophilia). In the casket with the body Karen left a four-and-a-half page letter confessing to amorous episodes with between twenty to forty dead men. The letter was filled with remorse over her sexual desires: "Why do I do it? Why? Why? Fear of love, relationships. No romance ever hurt like this ... It's the pits. I'm a morgue rat. This is my rathole, perhaps my grave."

The letter proved to be her downfall. For stealing the body and the hearse, she got eleven days in jail, a $255 fine, and was placed on two years probation with medical treatment recommended. Meanwhile, the mother of the dead man sued, claiming the incident scarred her psyche. She asked for $1 million, but settled for $117, 000 in general and punitive damages.

The press had a field day, the lawyers got rich, and Karen lost her career and source of sexual satisfaction. Karen is now more comfortable with her sexuality. "When I wrote that letter I was still listening to society. Everyone said necrophilia was wrong, so I must be doing something wrong. But the more people tried to convince me I was crazy, the more sure of my desires I became."

The following interview was held in Karen's apartment, a small studio filled with books, necrophilic drawings and satanic adornments.

Read entire interview here.

Posted by scott at 09:41 PM | Comments (3)
Pfc. Hammer Finds a Home

WASHINGTON, April 24, 2004 – A tiger-striped Iraqi kitten that wiggled its way into the hearts of a U.S. Army unit has made its way to the United States, thanks to a host of volunteers and two animal welfare groups.

Pfc. Hammer, an Iraq-born cat that befriended soldiers of Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 8th Infantry Regiment, 4th Infantry Division, during their deployment in Iraq, arrives in San Francisco, Calif., enroute to his new home in Colorado.

Soldiers with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 8th Infantry Regiment, 4th Infantry Division, dubbed the tiny ball of fur that wandered into their tent early last fall "Pfc. Hammer."

Read entire article here.

Thanks to Mama for the link.

Posted by scott at 09:35 PM | Comments (2)
Welcome to My World, Part VI: Postcards from the System Edge

Lots of vignettes today:

U1, a famously frantic staffer, strides into my office brandishing a piece of paper and without any preamble or introduction asks, "is this what I need to give you?"

Me: "To...?" (Light a fire? Scribble an autograph? Choke you until the vacuous excuse for a brain you use suffers a seizure?)

U1: "Purchase [software I frantically need yet somehow only asked for once, a month ago]"

Me: "Ah yes! Thank you!" I need to get my money back from the psychic friends network.

U2, in an email on Thursday: "I need this printing in color. Could you get this converted to PDF or directly print to color. [U1] has start working [sic] on this project ASAP so I would really appreciate if this is printed tomorrow."

Me, in email reply, that day: "I cannot work with [toy desktop publishing documents]. I've found a spare Acrobat license. Let me know when you have 30 minutes and I'll install it. You'll be able to print it yourself then."

U2, in reply: "That's great! Can you do it Monday afternoon?"

At 3:30 p.m. sharp I was not surprised to discover it was already installed on their system.

U3, fabulous and fabulously charming, streams fashionable scarves into my office. "Scott," flashing a "sex-in-the-city" spectacular smile, "the screen on my laptop is broken and I desperately need to fix it," runway-worthy turn on some imaginary catwalk that seems to end at my doorstep, "when can you replace it?"

Me: "Not sure, I'll have to see what is free."

U3, in a gracefully executed cross-pose (the word VOGUE briefly flashes over her head), "well I have to get it soon, it's just unusable like this." Exit in a sashay that makes Cindy Crawford weep.

So I scrounge a very nice reasonably new laptop from a recently departed employee (I'm known as the Angel of Computer Death around here because I "harvest" the computers of the dearly departed), and notify U3 by email that I'll need her system for 1 hour to transfer all files and settings.

Six weeks pass. Weeks.

This morning, U3, in a ravishing ensemble, gracefully strides down that weird runway I just can't see: "I hear you have a system for me?"

Me: "Yup, need an hour."

U3: "Let me get a few things done and I can give it to you this morning."

Six hours later, no laptop.

u4, our resident short fuse: "I need another mouse for my system."

Me: "Isn't this your third one?"

U4's spring obviously clicks two notches tighter: "Well, yes, I guess it is."

Me: "That normally means it's the computer, not the mouse."

*CLICK* goes the spring one notch tighter, U4: "Well, if we can find another one..."

Me: "Let's go look and see what's wrong."

Yes, they did have a real problem. Which I eventually fixed, and then went to lunch, with a closed door.

*KNOCK KNOCK* Great. What now? [Open], and there's U4 half way to my boss's door.

Me: "Did everything wor--"

U4, spring wound so tight I'm expecting a sprocket to fly out of his ear and take out a passing staffer, "my password changed again."

Me: "Well, I didn't change it." *CLICK* *CLICK* "Let's go check."

Walk down to U4's office, where they sit and furiously begin typing. Me: "Slowly now, let's try it again."

The password, of course, worked fine.

Update: Forgot this one:

This afternoon, a remote user sent a desparate (they're all desparate... email is like oxygen to these people) note to me regarding how one specific organization was unable to send mail to her.

Examination of the error messages revealed what is probably a buggy e-mail firewall on their end. This has happened oh, say three times in the past six or seven years. The cheaper firewall companies only test against the Borg, and as we all know Microsoft is not all that interested in interconnectivity. Since, what, half the internet still uses Sendmail, they end up posting corrective patches pretty quickly. It's getting them installed that's the trick.

At any rate, I gave this theory to the sysadmin on the other end, only to get the following reply (which I swear I am not making up):

Moron Admin: "Well, yes, now that you mention it we did upgrade our systems a few weeks ago. And actually, I have had a few domains mention they were having trouble connecting to our systems. But I know it's not on our end. Would you please check your systems out again?"

Why no, actually, I don't think I will.

Posted by scott at 04:00 PM | Comments (1)
Welcome to the Tinfoil Hat Research Institute, Please Sign Here

Conspiracies! Get yer pipin' hot conspiracies here! Physics911 has it all... F-16s hitting the Pentagon, thermite explosives in the towers, remote control jetliners, the works! Shiny, crispy, foil-hat goodness with that great "no, really, this is scientific" spice dribbled on top. I love it when they're crazy enough to believe this crap but not so far off their meds to be incoherent.

Anyone else struck by the similarities of the moonbat left twirling on their bell towers about 9-11 and the moonbat right doing the same thing about Waco? If it takes a village to raise a child, how many bellfries does it take to hold all these wailing wackos?

Posted by scott at 02:49 PM | Comments (2)
Ancient Whalers

BBCnews is carrying this article detailing the discovery of new evidence that man was hunting whales perhaps as far back as 6000 years ago. Recently discovered rock art in a South Korean archeology site seems to clearly show men in boats harpooning whales. Nearby sites have extensive cetacean bone deposits, showing they were an important part of the local diet.

Posted by scott at 01:31 PM | Comments (0)
The Dumbest Freshmen in the World

Want to tip over a car in celebration of your team's victory? Maybe you shouldn't choose a police car (note: video link). And someone please tell me when mutton chops came back into style? Or did that guy just look as retarded as he acted?

Posted by scott at 12:24 PM | Comments (0)
Bathtub Ocean

New Scientist is carrying this article detailing a somewhat bizzare new finding about ocean levels. Turns out they tend to be higher along the ocean's shores than in the middle. Well, by a few milimeters anyway. The exact implications of this are not completely clear, as it's not certain if this is a one-time phenomenon scientists just happen to have seen, or if it is the result of some long-term trend (i.e. global warming).

Posted by scott at 10:10 AM | Comments (1)
Highway History

Fark linked up this nifty site summarizing the history of the US's "three digit" interstates. Bypasses and interchanges and mixing bowls, oh my!

Yeah, I know, I need to get out more.

Posted by scott at 09:10 AM | Comments (0)
An Ill Wind

Today the Washington Post carried this article detailing a new theory as to what caused the loss of the CSS Hunley, the man-powered Confederate submarine. Turns out the weather may have played a much larger role than was previously thought.

Posted by scott at 08:12 AM | Comments (0)
April 25, 2004
Whistling Past the Graveyard, One Debacle at a Time

Just to prove I don't only read and/or link positive reports on the war, I have two new ones for you:

Hackworth's latest details an ARVN-worthy combat encounter by the newly minted Iraqi Army, and provides solid advice for what it takes to get that to stop:

Sure, the key to pulling our military out of Iraq is to transfer all security operations to the Iraqi forces. But since it usually takes at least 10 years to build an army, that exercise is easier said than done. The answer, of course, is leadership – not Madison Avenue-type hype – coupled with “more sweat” training similar to the tough curriculum that converted the South Korean army from rabble into an elite force.

Iraq Now (which probably needs a name change now that he's back in-country) linked up this Slate article detailing the logistics, and the logistical snafus, that are far more responsible for our "failure" in Iraq than any set of smelly guerillas:

A December 2003 study by the Army War College concluded that the war in Iraq had stretched the force to near its "breaking point." The cumulative effect of logistical problems, spare parts shortages, and unprepared reserves is that the Army will be significantly less ready to fight for the next several years. Should another threat appear on the horizon, these issues will make it exceedingly difficult for the Army to respond with anything close to the force it mustered to invade Iraq last year.

These are the kinds of reports you and I need, because they provide us with a plan of action. Tell me we're failing because the Iraqis don't "like" us and I'll just laugh a sick, sad laugh. Tell me we're failing because the perfumed princes of the pentagon are preening instead of practicing (ha!), or that our boys don't have enough bullets, well, that's a totally different matter altogether.

Posted by scott at 08:23 PM | Comments (1)
EtE Working

Email this Entry should be working. Now I have to get "tell us about it" up again. I triple-checked our template list and still managed to miss the only two custom templates on the whole site. Gah!

Posted by scott at 07:48 PM | Comments (0)
Wine, for the Rest of Us

Is nothing sacred?!? Ah hell, who am I pointing a finger at. I drink the stuff out of a box.

Posted by scott at 05:00 PM | Comments (1)
Dirigindo Meu Carro

Posted by Ellen at 02:56 PM | Comments (2)
Olivia the Cat


Posted by Ellen at 02:51 PM | Comments (3)
New Feature: Search

One of the advantages of our new host is we're finally able to add a search feature to the site. Therefore, on the right you'll now see a SEARCH blank. The one on the main page is obviously pretty limited, but the ADVANCED SEARCH link will take you to a page that lets you specify just about anything in any combination (even regEx's!)

With more than 4500 entries and over 6000 comments, even we've needed a search function of some sort occasionally. Hopefully it will be even more useful to all of you. Enjoy!

Posted by scott at 11:24 AM | Comments (0)
Happy Birthday!!

Just a very special

Happy Birthday Scott!!

Posted by Ellen at 11:19 AM | Comments (3)
The Original Italian Race Car

Slashdot linked up this Gaurdian article detailing the latest efforts to build Leonardo DaVinci's "self-propelled transportation device." Previous attempts had failed due to a misinterpretation of the design, but by examining other related documents the correct drive mechanism was finally figured out.

What ended up being created was a roughly square vechicle about 5 feet to a side. It's propelled by springs and gears, which are tensioned by rolling the wheels backward (sounds like a car toy I had in grade school). It only turns to the right, and was even designed to be activated remotely. Despite its toy-like powerplant, the full scale version is so powerful the builders are afraid to test it.

Posted by scott at 10:20 AM | Comments (0)
April 24, 2004
Four on the Floor

From Mat, more of the metal kitties!


Posted by Ellen at 08:32 PM | Comments (0)
Toilet to the Stars?

Ron gets a no-prize he can read in the bathroom for bringing us one of the world's coolest toilets. Toilet/bidet no less. It even knows to use more water when you've... erm... had a thoughtful moment. Put one of these and a telephone in our bathroom and Ellen would never leave the house.

Posted by scott at 01:06 PM | Comments (0)
More Mythbusting

Instapundit leads us to the latest V.D. Handson essay, which (again) takes on the most cherished myths of the anti-war conventional wisdom and (again) provides a devastating rebuttal:

Did the administration really mislead us about the reasons to go to war, and does it really now find itself with an immoral conflict on its hands?
If anyone goes back to read justifications for Desert Fox (December 1998) or those issued right after September 11 ... then it is clear that Mr. Bush simply repeated the usual Western litany of about a decade or so ... Indeed, we opted to launch that campaign in large part because of Iraq's work on WMDs.

As always, you can only call me a chearleader after you read the article.

Posted by scott at 10:49 AM | Comments (1)
What Would Richie Do?

Slashdot linked up this e-bay auction of... wait for it... a custom Star Destroyer built for Star Wars 4" action figures. It's not to scale, but it reminds me a lot of the other Star Wars playsets I had as a kid. Except it's gi-normous.

Richie's moving to Long Island soon. New house, more room. [[[[[This is Not the Memorabilia You Are Looking for]]]

Posted by scott at 10:30 AM | Comments (0)
Blogger Notes

USA Today is carrying this article summarizing the recent phenomenon of Iraqi bloggers. We link to most of them, but it's nice to get a look at what some of them are like "off duty."

Via Site-essential

Posted by scott at 10:06 AM | Comments (0)
Coffin Confusion

Fark linked up this Reuters report which seems to indicate the press monkeys have done it again:

Several dozen photographs of coffins recently identified by news organizations as remains of U.S. soldiers who died in Iraq are really images from the space shuttle Columbia explosion last year, U.S. space officials said on Friday.

Personally, I did find it strange that such high-quality photos would be taken of something the Pentagon was supposed to be hiding. I chalked it up to perhaps a staff photographer just doing his work, but now it would seem I was wrong.

Tin-foil-hatters will, of course, have their own opinion. I'm not sure I'd disagree with them, at least until NASA can tell us why they think the photos are theirs.

Posted by scott at 09:26 AM | Comments (0)
Metal Mistresses

Carrie gets a leather-spiked no-prize for bringing the Metal Goddesses to our attention. Looks like they combine belly dancing with hard rock, which is one helluva combination. Considering Ellen's choice of dance music, I wonder if they have an opening?

Posted by scott at 08:50 AM | Comments (0)
April 23, 2004
Dragon Lady Nails

"You should get your nails done Ellen, you've got really pretty hands."

"Are you smoking crack, Sona?" I said as I looked down at my very scarred, scratched hands.

"No really! You have long fingers, they would look great!" she beams, oh-so-subtly looking at her own acrylic tips.


So there I am at 5pm inside *Glamour Nails*, sitting in front of this young Asian girl. She's wearing a lime green BEBE (BEBE... clothing designer... no, really... hello?... are there any straight men in the world who keep up with these things?!?) rhinestone shirt, which provides a bizzare "Asian-bird-flu-can't-stop-finger-fashion" counterpoint to her plain surgical mask, expertly pawing through a box of nails and choosing what sizes match my fingers. She rarely speaks.

"How long?" ("ow'wrong?'") she looks at me.

"Huh? Oh. Not very long, I have to be able to function."

"Dragon Lady nail?" ("dagonradynil?")

"No dumass," I think, "I have to be able to wipe my ass, wipe Olivia's ass and wipe cat asses at work."

"No thanks," I say out loud, "I would like them this short," pointing to just over my fingers. She snorts (in an accent... I can't explain it but she did) and gets to work.

As I sit there with this girl gluing nails to my fingers I people watch. There are some ugly people out there. I see older women getting pedicures in these gigantic, made-for-only-pedicure chairs that vibrate when you sit in them. *Note to self -- get pedicure next time so I can soak my feet and sit in that chair.*

I watch some women get escorted rather quickly to a mysterious back room, only to emerge a few minutes later with redened upper lips and eyebrows. Well, those were the things that I could see. Some of them walked funny too... *shudder*. Only once did I hear a 'yelp'.

BEBE girl works quickly. She wets my fake nails with a lavender solution, then dips a brush into a magic powder and voila! instant acrylic on a brush, which she then proceeds to paint on my "new" nails. After all of this, she then gets out a dremel tool and starts sanding and buffing at a never ending fast pace. And to think all this time Scott was wasting his power tools on his car!

I space out again. Is that ATB (gah... ATB... c'mon folks... ATB? ... techno pop? anybody? anybody? is this thing on?!?) playing? Hadaway? Aqua? Am I in Japan? Everything is so cute, bubbly, happy... must be the acetone fumes... please let it be the acetone fumes. I'm not sure what I'll do if I find out I've suddenly had a heart attack and heaven is actually the anteroom to a Japanese anime theater.

BEBE girl paints my nails in this deep, flashy holographic garnet color called "La Boheme." Yes, it was that dramatic. I half expected a Parisian peasant to suddenly burst out of a closet belting Puccini. With "hello kitty" ear-rings of course. God-damn this acetone.

I never saw a person 'stab' a bottle of nail polish before. This girl got the biggest glops of paint on that brush I have ever seen. Then she instructs me to stick my hands under an ultra violet light for 10 minutes ("Youstickhandinright. Holdfohtinminit!"). I'm done.

"Well? How do you feel?" he asks.
"Um... my hands feel sexy?" Sexy? Is that all I could come up with? My fingers look lots longer and are awfully cute now.

Now just to keep them up.

Posted by Ellen at 10:00 PM | Comments (1)
Mail Issues

Mail is being extra-flakey, probably because I tried to outsmart myself this afternoon. Sometimes flexibility can be a bad thing.

At any rate, those who know us well already have alternate methods of contact. Those who don't, well, you'll just have to chill until the DNS records update and/or I get our new hosts to help me un-do whatever the hell it was I did.

Note Ellen lost about 12 hours worth of e-mail during the move. If you sent something to her between 8 pm last night and about 10 am this morning, you'll need to re-send it.

Posted by scott at 09:32 PM | Comments (1)

If you have directly bookmarked any story or discussion (such as the Robin Hood's Grave stuff), you've probably already noticed the link is broken. When we migrated the site, all the entries got assigned different numbers. To find your favorite discussion, you'll need to first visit the CATEGORY archive (science, etc.), then search or browse to your favorite entry.

Google searching won't work, at least for awhile, because it's keyed to the old site.

Apologies for the inconvenience.

Posted by scott at 09:14 PM | Comments (0)
Well, that was a PITA

Ok, moving from a "conventional" movable type installation to a "MySQL" MT installation is officially now a major hairy pain in the ass. What follows will make sense only to those relatively fluent in the SQL database language. Those who are not: in my experience, there is a significant bug in the import process to do this conversion. I was importing entries at about 100 per pass. Each pass required zortching the successful entries, and re-uploading the rest. Each upload took about 4 minutes. Big deal you say? We got 10000 entries and comments!

How I solved it is below...

PS... email this entry is still broken... working on it...

MT-Entries has the mt-entry-author field set not to allow NULL. This is normally a Very Good Thing, as nulls cause all sorts of headaches when running queries. Unfortunately, it would appear that a bug causes the import process to hand a NULL value in this field to this table, on irregular occasion. For the life of me I could not figure out where or why, and I'm sorry pouring through a 10k entry dbase backup looking for a single null is beyond my abilities (and probably wordpad & notepad's too). Those of you with shell access and the ability to run regexes through bash or whatever will probably smirk, but I did what I had to do.

At any rate, by changing the mt-entry-author field to allow nulls, everything imported just peachy. When I was done, I ended up with, oh, two dozen or so bizzare entries in the STORIES area, and a whole bunch of errors besides. Zapping these fixed everything, and now it all seems (seems) to be working fine.

So props to Hosting Matters for giving me the ability to directly tinker with mySql databases. Otherwise I'd've been here all frikkin night.

Anyone else wants to do this I'm happy to help, but you'll owe me a case of beer in the morning!

Posted by scott at 09:00 PM | Comments (5)
April 22, 2004
Insert Johnny Cash Joke Here

BBCnews is carrying this story and spectacular photo commemorating the Hubble telescope's 14th anniversary.

Posted by scott at 12:53 PM | Comments (0)
Movin' Out

We're going to be moving the site to a different host provider today, so the site may get flaky or fail completely while all the records get moved around and updated. Will keep you posted as things progress.

Posted by scott at 11:43 AM | Comments (0)
Back to the Future, 80s Style

Fark linked up this impressively detailed full-size replica of the "Back to the Future" DeLorean. Even still has the stainless steel bodywork, which as I understand it is becoming increasingly rare. Why? You can't do conventional body repairs on unpainted stainless steel.

Posted by scott at 11:27 AM | Comments (0)
April 21, 2004
Halo Update

Fans of Halo still have to wait until Q4 (hopefully) to play the new Halo 2. In the meantime, gamespot has these screenshots to whet your appetite.

Posted by scott at 05:06 PM | Comments (2)
Kinda Brings a Whole New Meaning to "Wasting Away in Margaritaville"

Ellen will be very annoyed to hear what some half-brained twit did to her favorite "frozen concoction":

"Drink up," she said, mixing the drinks and refilling Cerveny's 16-ounce glass. "Come on, Kris, I'm drinking faster than you. . . . Have some more."

But Plambeck's margaritas weren't just mixed with tequila and lime. During that two-hour drinking session at 4511 S. 12th St. last August, she was pushing Prestone, disguised in the green liquid.

As always, the perpetrator is taking the tried-and-true redneck "if I'd meant to kill her, she'd be dead" defense.

Posted by scott at 03:57 PM | Comments (0)
A Drug Lab that Moos?

Scientific American is carrying this article summarizing recent European efforts to breed cows that can produce cancer treatment drugs in their milk. Considering the Euro's perceived xenophobia about genetic engineering, I'm surprised this got very far. Hopefully it'll go a lot further.

Posted by scott at 10:39 AM | Comments (0)
I'm Just Glad E-bay Wasn't Around in 1973

While BBCnews is all aflutter, I think this story of a woman trying to sell her kid on e-bay is at least smirk-worthy. My brother and I were constantly being told we were one sale away from being gypsies. Of course, since we were able to recite our full address it was inevitable that they'd send us back. We really were that awful as children.

Posted by scott at 09:22 AM | Comments (0)
When Competitors Attack

I've heard of cut-throat competition before, but this is ridiculous:

Tim Wyatt with Huntersville's Carolina Airships told police that a man had pulled up in a black Chevrolet pickup near the car wash at Team Chevrolet.

The man stepped out of the truck, shotgun in hand, and fired at the blimp.
The truck had a dealer tag registered to Team Chevrolet, according to the police report.

Some of our readers would say they should've just shot the cars instead.

Posted by scott at 09:02 AM | Comments (0)
April 20, 2004
Big Rock, Fall from Sky

Space.com is carrying this harrowing account of what happened last year when a 1-ton rocky meteor blew apart in the skies over Chicago:

Park Forest resident Noe Garza was asleep when a fragment burst through his ceiling, sliced some window blinds, then bounced across the room and broke a mirror. "I thought somebody was breaking in," Garza told a new agency the next day. "It was a big bang. I can't really describe it."

I think homeowners insurance will cover this. Well, I guess I hope it does. Time to crack open the policy again.

Posted by scott at 04:06 PM | Comments (0)
Vinyl Science

New Scientist is carrying this article detailing a new invention that will allow recordings stored on very old or very rare analog records to be recovered without touching the surface of the disk. Using technology originally developed for a gigantic particle accelerator, scientists are able to scan the surface of a disk with incredible precision, feed the results into a virtual "record player", and then record the output. It even removes all the scratches and pops. Story includes sample recordings.

Posted by scott at 02:39 PM | Comments (0)
Not Funny! Bad Scott! Bad Scott! No Biscuit!

Oh, I know it's bad karma, but I couldn't help smirking at these two cartoons. Kaboom times two!

Posted by scott at 12:44 PM | Comments (0)
Well, at Least we Know These Won't Suck

Slashdot linked up this site providing new details on the upcoming boxed set of the original Star Wars movies. Gargantuan amounts of bonus materials are, of course, included.

We barely have time to watch a movie at all, let alone the bonus stuff. Maybe when Olivia can sit still long enough to watch the movie with us?

Posted by scott at 11:50 AM | Comments (3)
Selectify Your Life

Damion gets a switchable no-prize for bringing us this nifty little optical switch gizmo. Perfect for anyone with a lot of digital gear (DVDs, X-boxes, etc.), but only one optical "IN" on their stereo.

Posted by scott at 10:38 AM | Comments (0)
New Voices

Alert readers (and we all know you're alert, right? RIGHT? Hey, wake up!) will note we've added two new sites to our blogroll:

Mahmood's Den is written by a Bahraini, a family guy who runs his own A/V business. He writes about everything, with a wry sense of humor that, according to western stereotypes, should've gotten him arrested years ago. Let's be grateful it's just a stereotype

Consider this [about Saudi Arabia]: the north of the country habitually gets snow, there are forests in the south-west, green and temperate climate in Ta'if, immense palm groves in the eastern province as well as in Qasim, beautiful and bountiful beaches on the the Red Sea and the Arabian Gulf, huge sand-dunes and desert just about everywhere else, and you marvel at such a vast country which I think is as big as the eastern sea-board of the United States up to the Mississippi river. It is huge.

Speaking of, Instapundit lead us to The Religious Policeman, an honest-to-God (Allah?) Saudi weblog. He has the same sense of humor as Mahmood, as evidenced by this prediction of what it'll really take to have a revolution in The Great Kingdom:

When the Saudi people finally rise up in revolt and throw out the House of Saud, it won't be for democratic reform, and it won't be for an islamic republic. It'll be about mobile phones.
So will the muttawa try and ban all phones in Saudi Arabia? It'd be like trying to take an American's gun, or an Englishman's dog. Arabs in general, and Saudis in particular, live for their mobile phones, in a way that other parts of the world would not understand. And we are physically incapable of ignoring our phone when it rings.

Sounds a lot like someone I know.

Posted by scott at 10:32 AM | Comments (1)
Passwords R Us

There's not a sysadmin in the world who's going to be surprised by this one:

Almost three quarters of office workers in an impromptu man-on-the-street survey were willing to give up their passwords when offered the bribe of a chocolate bar.

One of the most grating parts of my job is new executives and their passwords. I set passwords for people around here, mainly to keep them from choosing "dog" or "bob" or "sue" or things like that. Most folks accept them or work with me to modify them toward something they'll remember. Executives, on the other hand, are quite indignant that they can't a) set their own password and b) must work with an "underling" to make the change. I mean, privacy and security are so important! Within six weeks, however, their executive assistant knows their password, and of course they have no problem sharing it with me.

Is a lobotomy just required for someone to the executive pool?

Posted by scott at 09:23 AM | Comments (1)
April 19, 2004
I Didn't Even Know She Was Sick

Fans of Star Trek who don't keep track of these things (like me) will be surprised to learn Persis Khambatta, the "bald chick" from the original Star Trek movie, died in 1998. And would someone please explain to me how the hell 1979 ended up being 25 years ago?!? I didn't request this! I demand a recount!

I'm babysitting the g-d backup system, which has been extra special cranky this past week. Nothing like watching numbers slowly crawl upward to induce bizarre google searches.

Posted by scott at 03:29 PM | Comments (0)
Save the Children!

The latest incarnation of nanny-state-ism seems to be protecting your children from your own weblog:

But if, in the future, a prospective partner, friend or employer should type the child's name into Google, will they appreciate having so much of their childhood documented for all to read?

And of course, we have to raise the next logical "so-extreme-no-reasonable-person-could-discount-it" possibility:

And what of the remote possibility that a paedophile will find the photos, and re-use them in unspeakable ways? It's enough to make any parent want to switch the computer off.

Oh please save us from people who think they know more about raising my child than I do. You want to protect your kid? Teach them common-sense rules, keep an eye on your local offender database, and make sure you know who their friends are. You want to protect my kid? Mind your own damned business.

Posted by scott at 01:42 PM | Comments (0)
The Politics of Repair

Slashdot linked up this Christian-Science Monitor article about how cars are "too expensive" to repair and we are sliding down a slope toward the "disposable car".

A more critical reader will quickly note the primary source for the article, an insurance industry-funded data warehouse, is not what you'd call an objective observer. Further, most of the cars cited, various BMWs, Jaguars, and Acuras, are far from commonplace on even aristocratic roadways in America.

In my own opinion, this is little more than a subtle attempt by the insurance industry to justify higher profit margins in this era of one-time-use safety. Remember folks, these were the people who foisted the 5-mph "it's-a-bumper-no-it's-a-battering-ram" bumper concept on all of us, trying to convince everyone it made them "safer". Also note the items they complain the most about, airbags, are the things that actually do save lives. In the particular case of the BMW in the article, I'd be grateful the car saved my son's life, because it would allow me to kill him myself!

And as far as the complexity of automobiles requiring elaborate equipment and highly educated technicians, well, you get what you pay for. My 71 Alfa Romeo Spider, a high-strung high-performance semi-exotic sports car from the very end of the non-computerized age, requires regular and involved maintenance every six thousand miles or so just to keep it running. Even "normal" sedans from the 60s and 70s required relatively comprehensive "tune-ups" to stay in tip-top running condition. Sure, you could do it yourself, but you had to do it all the time. And, to be blunt, most people didn't.

The comparison with our 2001 PT Cruiser is instructive. Truly major maintenance is required only at thirty thousand mile intervals, and even then the list of things "fixed" is amazingly short. A technician with an associate degree may be required to work on it if it breaks, but if it only needs fixing every four years who cares?

Posted by scott at 12:44 PM | Comments (0)
I Knew the Name "Camel Spider" Was a Bad Sign

Proof positive Arabs aren't the only nasty things in the desert, we have these camel spiders for your enjoyment. Kris should know better, but probably won't be able to help herself. The rest of you, repeat after me... ewwwwww!

Posted by scott at 10:32 AM | Comments (8)
Such a Charming Child

You know, Olivia could easily come up with a word mix-up as good as this, but guess who would be the one getting in trouble?

Posted by scott at 10:27 AM | Comments (0)
AAAG! My Eyes!

One of the biggest problems with Sci-Fi costume contests is people with the talent to do the work but lacking the body type to pull it off. Props to the guy for giving it a go, but dude, you couldn't sew a girdle into it?

I was once an inveterate "con" attendee, but I swear to God I was not this geeky. Really!

Posted by scott at 08:24 AM | Comments (1)
April 18, 2004
Martians R Us?

Slashdot linked up this UPI article summarizing the latest finds from the Mars rovers. Turns out that through yet another coincidence of dumb luck, Opportunity appears to have found a rock that almost exactly matches some meteorite fragments found here on Earth. This provides more proof that Martian rocks have rained down on Earth for perhaps billions of years.

Posted by scott at 10:06 AM | Comments (0)
April 17, 2004
Facing the Hunley

The Washington Post ran this story today about recent developments in the USS Hunley salvage/excavation operation. All eight of the crew have now been identified (and buried), and casts of their skulls have been used to create representations of what they looked like. Apparently, very little actually is known about the crew, aside from perhaps the captain. Unfortunately, the on-line article only has a picture of one of the crew. The print article had all eight.

Posted by scott at 07:37 PM | Comments (1)
I Do Hereby Promise

I think we may have featured this soapbox bit awhile back, but Cheri gets a no-prize anyway for reminding us.

Surprisingly, I haven't actually received any virus hoax messages of late. For nearly a decade, someone would send me two or three per month with breathless "is this true?!?" inquiries. But now, nothing. I guess now that Outlook e-mail viruses really are endemic and never-ending, the real viruses are causing plenty enough confusion on their own.

Posted by scott at 08:03 AM | Comments (0)
April 16, 2004
Music Paleo-Tech

Think CDs with "bonus" computer material like videos or graphics is a new thing? Think again:

There were a handful of records released in the late 70's and early 80's that contained computer programs as part of the audio. This is totally insane, and totally great.

Indeed. I don't even remember the mention of something like this, and it would've been something I'd remember. Anyone ever get one of these albums?

Posted by scott at 12:57 PM | Comments (1)
Chaos and Confusion

V. D. Hanson does a nice job of dissecting the various and variously contradictory attitudes of the convention wisdom with this perceptive essay, which directly addresses several arguments I've heard recently from various members of the peanut gallery:

Apparently a new exegesis has arisen that goes something like the following: The United States was wrong to go to war to take out a monster who deserved to be taken out but nevertheless should stay to ensure stability in a country that it has no right to be in.

Posted by scott at 12:11 PM | Comments (1)
Trumpet Universe?

Slashdot linked up this New Scientist article summarizing a new theory about the "shape" of the universe. Apparently, one way to explain all the background radiation anomolies found recently is to posit a horn-shaped universe, with one end very narrow and the other very wide. Their theory predicts that adventures at either end would be very entertaining. Includes diagram for those (like me) who can't get their head around it.

Posted by scott at 10:29 AM | Comments (1)
Um... Yuck?

The Post today carried this article explaining that not all DC area residents are upset at the expected cicada explosion this summer:

Jacques Tiziou, a Frenchman-turned-American who lives in a tree-fringed colonial in Northwest, will gather as many as he can, eating a few right away and saving the rest for later.

Yes, yes, I know, they're good for you, chock-full o' protien, etc. Still don't mean I'm gonna eat 'em.

Posted by scott at 09:38 AM | Comments (2)
Contractor Contradictions

Instapundit lead us to this long and detailed letter from a special forces man "on sabbatical" working as a private security contractor in Iraq. The picture it presents of Iraq is, not surprisingly, an almost polar opposite from what we're getting from the media.

Such an up-beat and professional account may at first seem hard to take seriously, but it's important to understand something here. In Vietnam, the first rumbles of trouble came not from mainstream media outlets, who until about 1968 quite literally were beating the drums of war as loudly as they could. Instead, it came from obscure young journalists (Halberstam, Sheehan) and loudmouth military advisors (J.P. Vann) who were out in the sticks and saw what was happening first hand.

You're reading an account from one of those guys here. Even better, he has no career to worry about, no political axe to grind, no editor with an agenda to please. If things were going wrong or being badly managed I do not doubt his letter would be quite different. In other words, this is a source we must listen to, and for once the news is actually pretty good. I only wish more would speak up.

I guess they're just too busy winning the war.

Posted by scott at 08:45 AM | Comments (1)
~ Because It's only a Paper Disk ~

Forgot to link this up yesterday... Sony has come up with a new technology that allows optical disks to be made out of paper. They'll be cheaper (well, for the manufacturer anyway) and apparently a lot more colorful, but I'm not sure what other benefits they bring. Oh, and they'll probably rot if you don't keep them dry.

Posted by scott at 08:14 AM | Comments (5)
April 15, 2004
Taiwanese Cat Is Toilet Trained

TAIPEI, Taiwan - A white and tan Taiwanese cat made his successful television debut — on the toilet.

"Tiger" showed off his skills Wednesday, hopping on the front end of the toilet seat and carefully balancing himself as he did his business.

Tiger's owner, Dong Hsiu-yuan, told reporters in her home in central Taichung County that the former stray cat only recently acquired his toilet skills.

"Last week, I saw him jump on the toilet. I didn't know what he was doing and then I noticed he was urinating," she told CTI cable news.

Dong said that Tiger was self-taught. "He would watch me from the bathroom doorway. If I closed the door, then he would meow loudly," she told SCT cable news.

Although Tiger's skills are impressive, he still hasn't mastered the art of flushing.

We have a cat that comes into work named Tom(abyssinian)and he wound not potty for 2 days. When I told the owner this, she exclaimed that I needed to take him to the toilet to go. He was potty trained. Took the cat to the potty, and he went. WEIRD!
Posted by Ellen at 07:14 PM | Comments (0)
Cat Survives 30-Day Trip in Shipping Box

TAMPA, Fla. - A business owner opening a shipment of 400 bird cages sent from China got an additional order he didn't expect — a severely undernourished cat.

The female cat, named China by animal service staff members, tips the scale at just over 3 pounds after being trapped in the container for the nearly monthlong trip.

Read entire story here.

Posted by Ellen at 07:08 PM | Comments (0)
Old (Digital) Friends, Long Gone...

Damion gets a no-prize clocked at a speedy 1 megaherz for reminding us about The Computer Museum, the place to go if you're interested in old PCs. Like, for instance, the Apple 1.

Posted by scott at 03:37 PM | Comments (0)
God Wants You to Buy Their Stuff

From Christian panties to Sweet Jesus candy, Miss Poppy's has it all. Sort of reminds me of a Christian Trader Joe's, only weirder. Hey, if Landover Baptist does business there, it's gotta be good!

Posted by scott at 02:57 PM | Comments (0)
The Vampire Hunter Chronicles Continue

Remember when I said, "To that I can only say, in closing, that I am very grateful an ocean and far more liberal libel laws lie between myself and the Right Rv'd ... I have a feeling they will just be barely enough"? (You don't? You should visit more often)

Let's just say if Misters Madison, Jefferson, and Hamilton were alive today I would kiss their feet. Oh, and anyone in the UK who thinks the US is a morass of lawsuits just waiting to crystalize into a police state? You should take a closer look at your libel laws my friend, because you're in a lot more danger of getting your mouth duct-taped shut than I will ever be.

Again, I won't post Mr. Manchester's notes to me, because he's asked me not to and I'm just a reasonable sort of guy. However, I own my own copyrights and so you can just read between the lines of my own response, listed below.

While we cannot judge the merits of whatever case you may be contemplating against ourselves or our host company, it should again be pointed out that we are US citizens and currently reside within the United States. Any attempt at legal recourse against ourselves or the staff at Logjamming will therefore have to be made in a US court abiding by US laws, and we already have very solid advice to the effect that any case you would attempt to bring would have no chance whatever of succeeding in this country.

Further, should you attempt any sort of legal recourse in the UK against us or our host provider, we must remind you it will be effectively impossible for you to collect any kind of damages from us or our provider in the unlikely event you should win. Again, as US citizens residing in the United States any such attempt would of course require you to file for action in a US court, and to date the few times a UK citizen has attempted this it has been immediately thrown out (c.f. /Matusevitch v. Telnikoff/, 702 A.2d 230, 347 Md. 561 (1997), and /Bachchan v. India Abroad Publications, Inc./, 585 N.Y.S.2d 661 (Sup. Ct. N.Y. Co. 1992)).

The only party even tangentally subject to the UK laws you cite is Rackspace, and as noted previously their lawyers are looking into the matter and once they have made their decision we will of course comply with their requests immediately. Until that time, as always, you are welcome to post rebuttals of any portion of any comment you deem factually incorrect on our website.

Thank you for your attention in this matter.

Posted by scott at 01:00 PM | Comments (16)
I Wonder What This Smells Like?

The name sorta says it all... HempCar.org. Apparently they drove over 13,000 miles on 600 gallons of "hemp fuel". Actually, looks to be an alternative proposal for another form of biodiesel. Considering what an utter racket the current methanol-based programs are, well, it couldn't hurt to explore it I suppose.

Posted by scott at 11:57 AM | Comments (0)
New Alfa

Rumor has it Road & Track seem to think this may be the car Alfa returns to the US with. Twin turbo 400+ hp sedan anyone?

No, I don't think it's likely either. Even it was, lord only knows how much it would cost!

Posted by scott at 09:29 AM | Comments (2)
Insert "Dead or Alive" Joke Here

Washington Post carried this article detailing a real mystery about Sedna, the newly discovered planet-like body out past Pluto. Seems it's spinning far too slowly than it should, so slowly scientists are looking for a moon. Unfortunately, they're not finding it. Maybe that's where the Area 51 aliens have their base!

Posted by scott at 08:23 AM | Comments (2)
April 14, 2004
Titan Images

Fark linked up this Rednova article detailing new discoveries about Saturn's moon Titan made with the European Southern Observatory's Very Large Telescope. By using new cameras and some innovative techniques, they were able to image the normally obscured surface of Titan with unprecedented detail. The hope is the images will allow a better choice of targets for the upcoming Huegens probe, scheduled to land on the moon in a few months.

Posted by scott at 03:33 PM | Comments (0)
Lost Time

Take a second to go down memory lane by perusing the Wikipedia entry for "Land of the Lost"

This series scared the crap out of me when I was six. Those Sleestaks were damned creepy and the Tyrannasaur would make me jump. Yet I couldn't stop watching it, I guess because of the sense of mystery and curiosity of what, exactly, was going on. It's funny how I remembered things about the series only as I read about them (time pyramids, control centers, lost cities, etc.) Sort of like going through an old junk drawer and finding stuff you never even realized you'd lost.

Posted by scott at 02:19 PM | Comments (1)
This Week's Award for "Dumbest Man in the World" Goes To...

A German gentleman who, laid (ha!) up from multiple fractures, decided to telephone a "full service" girl. Of course, not able to move very much, there was the problem of payment:

[U]nable to walk, he gave the woman his bank card to collect her fee and she helped herself to his cash.

I'm not sure which is more ridiculous, that it happened or that he actually called the police to file a complaint. He may lack brains, but he seems to have plenty of balls.

Posted by scott at 01:02 PM | Comments (0)
Drag in Motion

NewScientist is carrying this report on a spacecraft designed to measure how the rotating Earth drags on the fabric of space-time:

Gravity Probe B aims to measure a weaker and even stranger effect called "frame dragging", a warping of space-time by the gravity and angular momentum of a spinning body.

I don't understand it, but it sure does sound cool. With picture!

Posted by scott at 11:53 AM | Comments (1)
Let's Give That Cage Another Rattle

Scrapple Face is 2-for-2 with a headline the media tried to get Bush give them:

[Bush] steadfastly refused to apologize for the 9/11 terror attacks, instead he again advanced the now-discredited theory that terrorists, not U.S. government officials, were to blame for the terrorism.

How many American troops would have to die in Iraq before you would admit W was wrong?

How many? How many? Tell me sir, when did you stop beating your wife?

Posted by scott at 10:55 AM | Comments (0)
Ancient Snack

BBCnews is carrying this article describing a new fossil find that proves that predators ate trilobites in ancient Cambrian seas. While the conclusion seems kind of obvious, it is a rare example of a fossil providing evidence of behavior instead of biology.

Posted by scott at 09:40 AM | Comments (0)
April 13, 2004
Thanks Joshua for fixing my pix!
Posted by Ellen at 05:30 PM | Comments (4)
Contains an Excess of Zoom

Finally, I think I've found the small car with which to take down a certain V-8 powered pony car:

A Belgian motorist was left stunned after authorities sent him a speeding ticket for travelling in his Mini at three times the speed of sound.

Virginia slaps you around pretty bad for just 10 mph over the limit. I wonder what 2050 mph over nets you?

Via Silflay

Posted by scott at 04:17 PM | Comments (2)
Fade to Gray?

Space.com is carrying this article explaining how the universe is gradually growing dimmer, and why. However, they say it may be "thousands of billions of years" before such dimming would be noticeable, so it's not something I'd set the TiVo for if I were you.

Posted by scott at 02:18 PM | Comments (0)
I Have Seen the Geek, and He is Us

Slashdot linked up this article, in which mainstream media suddenly figures out (again) the weird kids who got beat up a lot in high school seem to be running the show nowadays. This is one revolution I can say I've witnessed first hand. When I was, oh, say, 7 years old, all we had for science fiction or fantasy was Star Trek re-runs. No, really, that was it, and the occasional really freaky six-show series (Space 1999).

Now I look around and see it everywhere. Better still, what I use to see it is often at least as sci-fi. Today you can have the entire collected works of whatever composer, director, or even TV producer taking up the space of one bookshelf, in a format that will never ever wear out. If that's not science fiction I don't know what is.

Unfortunately the article devolves into typical elitist "but why do they have to be so weird? It's unhealthy!" pap. Which just goes to prove those who self-identify as geeks don't always deserve the title.

Posted by scott at 01:04 PM | Comments (4)
Headlines, for the Rest of Us

I really should check out scrappleface more often:

A presidential briefing, dated August 6, 2001, and released by the White House yesterday, shows that in 1998 George W. Bush did nothing to respond to the threat of terror attacks from Usama bin Laden's al Qaeda network.

I liked a line from "This Just In" regarding this very thing (paraphrased from memory):

"Everyone's looking for someone to blame 9-11 on. That's easy... Arabs.

Posted by scott at 09:40 AM | Comments (2)
The Quagmire Fallacy

One of the reasons for the lack of essays lately is I'm doing research into exactly why Iraq is not "another Vietnam". Unfortunately I still have two or three books to plow through before I'm ready to start. However, this Moscow Times article (courtesy of Instapundit) presents a nice "20,000 feet" view:

The Vietnam War was a battlefield in the global Cold War that pitted the United States against the Soviet Union and its allies. The Soviet defense industry supplied the North Vietnamese with the latest weapons ... So long as the Soviets were able to maintain a global balance of power, any local war -- in Vietnam, Afghanistan, Nicaragua -- tended to develop into a quagmire.
Posted by scott at 08:34 AM | Comments (3)
Fat Filler Fixes Fractures

New Scientist is carrying this summary of the first case of cells being purified from fat to heal an injury in a living animal. By harvesting a special kind of fat cell, and then laying it over a special lattice containing a certain enzyme, scientists were able to heal very large skull fractures (in mice) much faster than any other existing technique.

Posted by scott at 07:26 AM | Comments (1)
April 12, 2004
Diver Down

Jeff gets his second no-prize of the day for bringing us news of the Navy's new "artificial reef" program. Among the first "subjects" will be the USS Oriskany, a large Korea/Vietnam era aircraft carrier. They're going to sink it in 220 feet of water, which is pretty darned deep for a recreational dive. However, carriers are pretty damned tall things. If it settles on its keel the top of the superstructure may be appreciably closer.

Posted by scott at 02:25 PM | Comments (0)
An Asian "Jackass"?

Hong Kong is famous for a massive set of moving sidewalks that help traverse the city's large elevation changes. What happens late at night when they're closed down? Wok Boarding, anyone? I wonder if they ever mow down anyone during these escapades?

Posted by scott at 12:54 PM | Comments (0)
That's One Big "Kaboom"

Jeff's gets a no-prize rocketing down from the sky for bringing us this celestial impact calculator. Want to know just what would happen if, say, a rock the size of your car were to hit the earth? You'll find out here!

I ran a simulation with a 1 mile across dense object traveling at asteroid speeds hitting at a 35 degree angle on semi-porous rock. The result was a crater 15.3 miles in diameter. This was rather unfortunate for me, as I'd placed my virtual self only 1 km away. But boy, what a view!

Posted by scott at 11:53 AM | Comments (2)
The Shape of Things to Come?

Fark linked up this Toyota concept vehicle that recently premiered. A 4wd gas-electric hybrid, with pure electric drive up front and gas/electric drive in back. Very interesting, but still "just a concept".

Personally I am very interested in the Pontiac Solstice. If GM really can bring it in for $20,000, they won't be able to build them fast enough. Add a supercharger for an extra $3-$5k and who knows, maybe it'll turn out to be a Trans-Am killer?

Posted by scott at 10:02 AM | Comments (4)
But Does it Make them Walk in Slow Motion?

Today's Washington Post (free reg, blah blah) carried this article detailing innovations in prosthetic leg design. A Canadian firm has carefully worked out the unique challenges of making a moving artificial leg, creating a powered device that not only allows natural walking, but climbing and walking on rocky terrain.

Posted by scott at 08:52 AM | Comments (0)
April 11, 2004
You Know You're a Parent When

Your spouse urgently calls you upstairs while the bath is being drawn. As you round the corner, you see them with a white ball approximately the size and (by heft) weight of a softball.

"Would you look at the size of this diaper?!?"

Posted by scott at 09:14 PM | Comments (1)
Carnival of the Cats Pix

Ted the Cat


Isn't he handsome! This cat can run through the house with rip roaring diarrhea and manage somehow to get it on the walls. NaStY!

Remember, Ted has Tetrology of Fallot with PDA, a rare heart disease. Ted turned 4 in December.

Posted by Ellen at 06:22 PM | Comments (5)

NSFW due to contents.

Get back at that person you hate in your life.

Posted by Ellen at 05:04 PM | Comments (0)

I'm sure this cat is not enjoying this.

NSFW due to pop ups!


Posted by Ellen at 05:01 PM | Comments (0)


In case you can keep your grip.

Posted by Ellen at 04:55 PM | Comments (0)
Anime Wig

Get yer anime wig here!

Complete with ears! Now you can be one of the Puma Twins you've always wanted to be!

See pix of them here.

Posted by Ellen at 03:49 PM | Comments (0)
The Art of Shibari


Learn how to do some S&M rope tying.

I wonder if you get rope burn from it, and how do you explain that the next day at work?

Posted by Ellen at 03:41 PM | Comments (3)

ALL of the sex positions you will ever need!

Posted by Ellen at 02:25 PM | Comments (19)
Think of Them as Fake Boobies for a Car

For those who want the look but are too dumb or poor to get it right, we have:

I especially like the screw-on friction lock of the "turbo whistler".

Posted by scott at 02:09 PM | Comments (1)
Clean and Dirty

Read entire article here.

THE cleanest women around the house are the dirtiest in the bedroom, according to a new survey.

Those who spend most time doing chores have the highest sex drive, say researchers.

Posted by Ellen at 01:56 PM | Comments (0)

Now for some more Peep fun!

Make your very own Peeps!

Posted by Ellen at 01:49 PM | Comments (2)
Peeps In Space!

In honor of Easter, I bring you two awsome Peep games.


Posted by Ellen at 01:45 PM | Comments (0)
April 10, 2004
Parody star's parents die in Fallbrook

This is rather sad.

The elderly parents of parody recording star "Weird Al" Yankovic were found dead of apparent carbon monoxide poisoning Friday in their modest Fallbrook home.

A blaze had been in a fireplace in the hillside house when three family members discovered the couple about 1 p.m., said sheriff's Sgt. Conrad Grayson, a fire investigator. "The house was full of smoke when they opened the door," Grayson said. "We examined the fireplace. They were burning wood. They (family) had found the flue closed. They opened it."

Read entire article here.

Posted by Ellen at 01:53 PM | Comments (1)
April 09, 2004
Easter Game

Toss eggs at bunnies for Easter!

Kind of like Elf bowling, but the object is to sling shot eggs at bunnies. I do have not been able to hit a bunny yet, I'm horrible at video games

No bunnies were harmed in the making of this video.

Posted by Ellen at 09:57 PM | Comments (9)
Decapitated cat video backfires on Ford

Even for the most lateral-thinking advertising executive, it appears to have been a catastrophic misjudgment. An online advert for a Ford car in which a cat is decapitated by a sunroof has been condemned by animal charities.

The internet video clip to promote the Ford SportKa features a ginger domestic cat leaping on to the car's bonnet, peering into the open sunroof and getting guillotined when the panel closes. The cat's headless body is then seen sliding down the windscreen.

The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals failed to see the funny side. "Using highly distasteful depictions of animal suffering to sell a product is abhorrent," a spokesman said. "The concept should never have been mooted and we hope that the outcry will send a clear message to advertising agencies that making fun of cruelty is unacceptable."

Read entire article here.

I personally have not seen nor do I want to see this video. I hope FORD loses quite a bit of buisness from bullshit like this. Even better, the schmuck that created the video should lose his job. Cruelty does not sell.

Posted by Ellen at 09:53 PM | Comments (20)
When Right Wing-Nuts Attack

Joshua gets a tasteful but conservative no-prize for bringing us Right-wing eye for the Straight Guy. The pacings a little off, but the humor's right (ha!) on.

I never claimed the right didn't have wackos. I just think they're a lot funnier than what the left has.

Posted by scott at 03:13 PM | Comments (2)
Hopefully Richie Sent the Card in on Time

Because, after all, guess who's birthday it is? Yet another autograph-to-be in Olivia's collection I'm sure :).

Posted by scott at 01:55 PM | Comments (0)
Senses... Tingling...

For those of you who don't watch "the Donald's" TV show, we'd like to let you know that the new Spiderman 2 trailer is out. It sure does look pretty, let's hope the writing is as good as it was last time!

Posted by scott at 12:11 PM | Comments (0)
Galactic Turbulence

Scientific American is carrying this summary of an article describing new findings regarding our galaxy and the stars that compose it:

The team determined that older stars tend to have the highest speeds in our solar neighborhood and that many of the stars closest to us are actually just passing through from places much farther afield.

The implication is that our galaxy's early life was much more chaotic and turbulent than was once believed.

Posted by scott at 11:05 AM | Comments (0)
Up Up and Away!

Space.com announced yesterday that SpaceShipOne, a privately backed suborbital rocket plane, made its second successful test flight. Details are pretty sparse, but the test doesn't seem to have been a failure. One more step toward a Fed-less space program!

Posted by scott at 09:37 AM | Comments (0)
Peep History

Ellen is a marshmallow peep fiend, so I figure she at least will get a kick out of this slate article detailing why, exactly, peeps are associated with Easter. The short answer is, well, nobody knows the answer. However, that doesn't stop the author from making some speculations.

Posted by scott at 08:30 AM | Comments (0)
April 08, 2004
The Vampire Hunters and Me

Regular readers will note we have ourselves an... interesting... conversation going on in the "Robin Hood" story. Two people, who I would like to point out have absolutely no relationship to myself or Ellen, have taken extreme exception to each other. Who are these people? Why did they end up on our weblog? Why do they seem to be at each other's throats? (No pun intended)

As someone who figuratively woke up with two strangely dressed people loudly arguing with each other in his living room, I took it upon myself to find out. I mean, if Geraldo Rivera can call himself an investigative journalist, how hard can it be? Here's what I have so far:

To get to the root of this conflict, we must go all the way back to the late 1960s, to a wealthy suburb of London called Highgate. The cemetery there is the final resting place for people such as Karl Marx and Michael Faraday and is widely accepted to be the inspiration for the climactic scenes in Bram Stoker's Dracula.

Sources are conflicting, but some time between 1967 and 1969 several reports of a mysterious apparition in the famous cemetery began to surface, which at this point in its history was half ruined from neglect and famously creepy. By 1970 these reports had become frequent enough they drew the attention of local papers, whose lurid accounts seem to have attracted the attention of two very colorful characters, termed "vampire hunters" by the popular media, David Farrant and Sean Manchester.

Manchester claims to have been first to arrive "on the scene". While he would later go on to acquire many impressive titles, at this point in his life he seems to have simply been president of an organization known as "The British Occult Society". According to Mr. Manchester's book 'The Highgate Vampire', he was contacted by several women in the area, complaining of mysterious anemias, bizarre marks on the neck, and strange compulsions to sleepwalk through the Highgate cemetery.

In March of 1970 Sandra Harris of Thames Television's 'Today' program interviewed Mr. Manchester, who announced he would be conducting an actual vampire hunt through the cemetery that day. This had the predictable affect of drawing enormous numbers of curious people (both of the "what's-up-with-that" and "wow-I-thought-I-was-weird" kind), who eventually had to be dispersed by the police.

However, David Farrant tells a different story. According to Mr. Farrant, who seems to have been a member of the "British Psychic and Occult Society" (BPOS), his group began investigating strange reports of activity in the cemetery in 1969. He himself claims to have witnessed an extremely alarming apparition that December. Following this, the BPOS held a seance in the cemetery to "make contact" with this entity. This was interrupted by police, and, according to Mr. Farrant, he was eventually taken to court and charged with "vampire hunting".

In the meantime, Mr. Manchester, according to his book, was busily chasing what was now known as "the Highgate Vampire", engaging in an escalating series of exorcisms and other rituals designed to rid the cemetery of its unwelcome guest. However, this seems to not have worked very well, as Mr. Farrant appears to have been drawn back to the site four years later, only to be ignominiously arrested and later found guilty of charges related to grave desecration.

The BBC brought even more attention to the story three years later (1977) with a documentary about the occult that included interviews with both Farrant and Manchester. However, by this time the cemetery had been reclaimed and restored by a neighborhood group whose mission was to revamp the entire area, and it was made very clear by that association neither were welcome there any more.

Both Farrant and Manchester seem to have gone on to lead very colorful careers. Farrant appears to have become a "psychic investigator", presumably uncovering and exploring diverse occult activities all over Great Britain, as well as publishing a few books on his experiences. He seems to have lead a comparatively low-key life, while at the same time acquiring a devoted group of friends.

Mr. Manchester, now the Right Rv'd Sean Manchester, Superior General for Ordo Sancti Graal, Founder of the Sacerdotal Society of the Precious Blood, Primate/Bishop (with dignity of Archbishop) for Ecclesia Apostolica Jesu Christi (an autocephalous Old Catholic jurisdiction), has led a far more colorful (or, at least, better web-published) life.

He claims to have entered "the minor order of exorcist" in 1973, which, eventually, through an elaborate and obscure set of self-described circumstances, "led to his entry in the diaconate" in 1991. It should be noted that the proudly proclaimed "autocephalous"-ness of his title ultimately means, apparently, "self-appointed". He's also a "founding patron" of G.A.S.P., the "Guardians Against Satanic Pollution", an organization dedicated to, not surprisingly, witchcraft, exorcism, and demonology. Mr. Manchester seems to have a very dedicated and efficient set of followers who quickly pounce on any on-line mention of himself or Mr. Farrant.

The origins of their disagreement are less well documented, at least on-line. Mr. Farrant is sometimes referred to as "the vampire hunter who didn't believe", which leads me to speculate that perhaps he may have or have had doubts about the colorful and self-referential Mr. Manchester's graphic accounts of the Highland Vampire.

While this in and of itself may not have been enough to start a feud, news clippings refer to Mr. Farrant's publishing these doubts in various books and pamphlets. This all could have quite easily led to a very civil (they are both British, after all) but no less acrimonious exchange of what seems to amount to "did not! did too! did not! did too!" which has managed to last nearly thirty five years.

For his part, Mr. Farrant seems to have had a quite colorful youth, with breathless allegations of naked pictures in cemeteries often being levied. A person with enough determination and cheek to "autoencephalate" himself into a bishopric, as Mr. Manchester seems to have done, would perhaps not take kindly to being doubted by the likes of Mr. Farrant. Such a person would seem quite willing and able to mobilize and maintain a feud such as this for three and a half decades.

Their connection with the Robin Hood Society of Yorkshire is less clear. It would seem that this otherwise harmlessly quirky social society has had the perhaps questionable wisdom to appoint both Mr. Manchester and Mr. Farrant as patron over the years. While the dark humor of appointing what one man certainly seems to see as his archrival to the post he left certainly has some appeal, directly involving two people with a decades-long feud in what seems to be an otherwise easy-going organization does lead me to question just who is playing a joke on whom.

As to their connection to us, well, that's almost as much of a mystery to us as it is to you. Ms. Green's original comment on our "one-off" story about an archaeological dig was both civil and informative, but apparently Mr. Manchester or one of his minions keeps an eagle eye on the goings-on of the RHSY, and a far less reasonable (albeit probably factual) reply followed a few months later. How Ms. Fearnley stumbled upon us is an even greater mystery, as Mr. Farrant seems both more relaxed and less well-organized than Mr. Manchester. Regardless, her passionate and rather threatening defense of Mr. Farrant was what ultimately led me to stumble onto this entire, amazing story.

For my own part, I can only honestly say that, with the possible exception of Ms. Green, I think they're all loons. I've gone on record many, many times explaining my own complete non-belief in all things paranormal, psychic, and occult. While I certainly respect the passion everyone seems to have involved in all of this, I can only repeat that, as I believe the English themselves say, "you're all bloody daft."

I have the feeling, perhaps more a wish all things considered, that Mr. Farrant will get merely a chuckle from all this, as from my research he seems to me a rather agreeable fellow. I have not a single doubt that Mr. Manchester and his followers will be at the very least incensed, if not utterly enraged, by my account and my opinions. To that I can only say, in closing, that I am very grateful an ocean and far more liberal libel laws lie between myself and the Right Rv'd Superior General for Ordo Sancti Graal, Founder of the Sacerdotal Society of the Precious Blood, Primate/Bishop (with dignity of Archbishop) for Ecclesia Apostolica Jesu Christi (an autocephalous Old Catholic jurisdiction). I have a feeling they will just be barely enough.

Posted by scott at 04:21 PM | Comments (2)
Ancient Kitty

CaptainHowdy gets a scratching-post shaped no-prize for bringing us news of the earliest yet known sign of feline domestication:

Man tamed the cat around 9,500 years ago, more than 5,000 years than previously thought, according to a find of an ancient feline skeleton in Cyprus.

Of course, it could also be argued this represents some sort of cultic sacrifice, but who knows. Maybe cavemen had to worry about irritated felines widdling in their shoes just like we do.

Posted by scott at 03:26 PM | Comments (0)
How do You Say, "YUCK!" in Flemish?

Heard this on the radio yesterday, but hadn't seen a picture until now:

Body piercing and tattoos make way. The latest fashion trend to hit the Netherlands is eyeball jewelry.

Ok, look, I have a hard enough time watching people put contacts in. I can't imagine watching them do something like this. *shudder*

Posted by scott at 02:24 PM | Comments (1)
My Wife's Long Lost Sister?

We need to re-work our FAQs, they're ancient, in the meantime, you can take a look at what Ellen would probably write, especially if she were still a regular Resort user. Warning: No nudity, but lots of "all-a-twitter" swearing. Any chick who does online chats for any length of time eventually ends up sounding like this. For very good reasons.

Posted by scott at 01:36 PM | Comments (0)
Trike Toy to Transform Traffic Terror?

BBCnews linked up what some people think will be the car of the future. Well, Europe's future anyway. First we have ICBM engines approved by the EPA, now we find a car designed by people who probably don't drive to work. I wonder if we'll get another story to make a "moronic soulless bureaucracy in motion" trifecta?

Of course, considering the success of the SMART cars, who knows, this may have a chance. Certainly if it can be painted red some loony Italian will want to race it.

Posted by scott at 12:15 PM | Comments (0)
Be Your Own Capt. Nemo

Slashdot linked up the Scuba Doo a personal watercraft a-la soggy Segway. Manufacturer claims a 2.5 knot top speed, which I think is about how fast a person swims. SRP is claimed at $13,246, which is none too shabby. Compression sickness (the bends) comes free of charge I guess.

Posted by scott at 09:56 AM | Comments (0)
Welcome to the Federal Government, Here's Your Sign

Fark linked up this otherwise academically interesting update on the US's ICBM arsenal because of this choice quote:

The last of the Minuteman III missiles will receive their new motors by 2008. It costs about $5.2 million to replace the rockets on each missile. The new rocket motors, which have to comply with EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) rules, will have a shorter range than the original motors.

(emphasis added)

Yeah, we have weapons that can end the world, but they're really clean as they go about their business! Mindless bureaucracy, thy name is government.

Posted by scott at 08:39 AM | Comments (0)
April 07, 2004
Which Rock Chick Are You?

Which Rock Chick Are You?

Who is this person?

Posted by Ellen at 09:03 PM | Comments (5)
George of the (computer) Jungle

One of the most difficult things to convey to "normal" folks is how incoherent someone can be when they're trying to get help on their computer. Finally though, I've found a site that does so, nicely. Apparently a classic, but I'd never heard of it before. Welcome to my world!

Posted by scott at 03:15 PM | Comments (2)
When Tow Trucks Attack

Presenting, for your amusement, A tale of woe concerning a Volkswagen, a tow company, a lawyer, and a cop.

We've had both our cars towed by the parking nazis that work for our development. The first time around it was the Cruiser, which had a valid parking sticker, and we should've done something similar to what this gentleman did. Next time we will.

Posted by scott at 02:00 PM | Comments (3)
Score One for Big Brother

Slashdot linked up this article detailing (sort of) what is the first acknowledged "get" directly attributable to the NSA, one of the more secretive intelligence organizations in the US:

Citing anonymous sources in the British intelligence community, The Sunday Times reported that an e-mail message intercepted by NSA spies precipitated a massive investigation by intelligence officials in several countries that culminated in the arrest of nine men in Britain and one in suburban Orleans, Ont. -- 24-year-old software developer Mohammed Momin Khawaja, who has since been charged with facilitating a terrorist act and being part of a terrorist group.

Well, since the NSA monitors everything else, I guess I'll just say good job, and quit reading my e-mail!

Posted by scott at 12:48 PM | Comments (0)
Elderly Economy

A double-bankshot from Instapundit leads us to this article with a particularly choice quote:

I don't want to hear anyone complaining about the deficit unless they immediately begin to list ways of taking things away from old people and making them work harder and longer. Otherwise you aren't really bothered by the deficit at all.

The Economist article that he links makes some interesting points about the shrinkage of the labor force that will occur as more people retire sooner. In a funny sort of way it may end up being a slow-motion repeat of what happened to Europe during the Black Death.

In that event, the removal of perhaps as much as half the population of Europe created a huge labor shortage. This in turn lead, eventually, to the breakdown of oppressive and stultifying feudal systems, forced a reliance on innovation and technology (as apposed to slavery) to reduce labor costs, which in its own turn slowly produced modern societies conventionally known as "industrialized".

The slow "graying" of the world's population may (will?) have the same affect. However, because the liberal institutions created by the enlightenment have (so far) managed to survive two hundred or so years of totalitarian attempts to exterminate them, it's possible we'll gain the fruits of the next revolution without having to pay the price in horrific civil and religious wars. This world is too old and our weapons are too powerful to stand such a thing again.

Posted by scott at 11:54 AM | Comments (0)
I Wonder if She'd Leave Her Little Shoes Behind?

We just found the perfect gift for the martyr-to-be in your life! That's right folks, Suicide Bomber Barbie should be appearing soon in a store near you!

Yes, it's tacky, but it also makes a valid point:

A recent interview with a nine year old Palestinian girl had her saying she had wanted to be a doctor, but could now no longer study or sleep at night, and now only wanted to be a martyr. [The artist, Simon] Tyszko says of her that ‘she has effectively bought the notion of suicide bombing as a lifestyle choice – it has become aspirational, an off the shelf peer led option.’

A satirical artist that I actually agree with. What is the world coming to?

Posted by scott at 10:08 AM | Comments (4)
Smart People, Dumb Beliefs

Fark linked up this Scientific American editorial by Michael Schermer that attempts to explain why otherwise smart people believe dumb things:

Rarely do any of us sit down before a table of facts, weigh them pro and con, and choose the most logical and rational explanation, regardless of what we previously believed. Most of us, most of the time, come to our beliefs for a variety of reasons having little to do with empirical evidence and logical reasoning.

Extra-snarky comments from the yellow-dog peanut gallery to follow.

I especially liked this though:

The key here is teaching how science works, not just what science has discovered ... Students are taught what to think but not how to think.

I often knew more about science than any of my High School teachers, but I didn't learn how science actually worked until I was a junior in college. I only stumbled on it, by myself, because it helped me fight with fundies and Jesus freaks over evolution. Science fairs would've been a breeze if we'd been taught how science works instead of what it has discovered. Thanks to our hidebound and ineffective education system, we have tons of otherwise intelligent people believing in things like ghosts, astrology, and alien abduction.

I was about to say, "no wonder the world is afraid of us", but then I thought about what the rest of the world believes in, and realized we may be one of the more rational groups in this monkey pit. If that doesn't scare you you're not paying attention.

Posted by scott at 08:42 AM | Comments (5)
April 06, 2004
Oh, the Things You Say

Ok, so we have two gates. The one guarding the stairwell is obvious... babies don't bounce. The one to the kitchen, that only makes sense when you realize dry and wet cat food sits on the tile floor. Especially when the wet (nasty, four-day-old-fish-smell) cat food comes out, it's like a black hole suddenly swirls to life, drawing, levitating, our child toward the kitchen. Quite disconcerting indeed to have your kid peering down through the mesh of the baby gate, looking at the cat food going, "hoot! hoot! hoot! hoot!"

Of course, sometimes the gate is down anyway...

Ellen: "No no no! No baby! No cat food for you!"

Olivia: "BAH BAH BAH BAH bweee BAH BAH!!!"

Ellen: "NO!"

An aside... less than ten months in, and they're already yelling at each other... year 13 does not look good.

Ellen: "Just because it fits in the mouth does not mean you get to eat it!"

Scott: "No kidding! It was all I could do to keep her from eating quarters upstairs."

Ellen: "Oh that's all I need."

Scott: "Yeah, another Doctor--"

Ellen: "The doctor's not what I'd be worried about. I can just hear the daycare lady, [in lilting Persian accent] 'I'm very very sorry, but you are feeding Olivia the wrong thing again!'"

I've watched my wife flip off construction workers who said the wrong thing, but she is totally beholden to a 4'10" Iranian ex-patriot. Ah, the power of expertise...

Posted by scott at 08:18 PM | Comments (1)

I adopted a cute lil' kitty fetus from Fetusmart! Hooray fetus!

Thanks to DawnDesiree at Live Journal for the linkage!

Posted by Ellen at 06:36 PM | Comments (1)

The "Naked Chef" got a little too naked recently:

Jamie [Oliver], 28 — famed for his show The Naked Chef — said: "It was on Valentine’s Day. I was naked in the kitchen and burnt my penis. I really ruined my evening — and my night."

This easily beats the time I burned my hand grabbing a pizza pan becaused I whacked it on the countertop.

Posted by scott at 03:41 PM | Comments (1)
Ringing in the Years

Slashdot just linked up the news that, among SF's upcoming new shows will be an adaptation of Larry Niven's Ringworld:

Based on Larry Niven's RINGWORLD series of novels, a four-hour mini-series is in development. In the future four explorers crash on an artificial structure in deep space, a mammoth ring that circles a distant star. Exploring this strange place, the humans discover that there is life here and secrets that could change the universe forever.

I enjoyed the first Ringworld book immensely, and liked the second and third. Here's to hoping that a) it becomes a reality and b) it doesn't suck. SciFi's track record on such adaptations is actually pretty good IMO. Ellen and I have both liked pretty much everything they've come out with so far, so I think the odds of it sucking badly are pretty low at this point.

More as we find it out!

Oh, for those of you who don't know WTF the Ringworld is, from the Wikipedia entry:

The "Ringworld" is an artificial ring about a million miles wide and approximately the diameter of Earth's orbit (which makes it about 600 million miles in circumference), centered about a star, and rotating to provide an Earthlike artificial gravity, with a habitable flat inner surface equivalent in area to millions of Earth-sized planets. Walls 1000 miles tall along the edges keep in the atmosphere. The Ringworld could be regarded as a thin slice of a Dyson sphere, with which it shares a number of characteristics.

As I recall, the book describes the way it looks from a distance as a blue ribbon forming a wide loop around a candle flame. Players of Halo will know automatically what this looks like, although I believe the original Ringworld is much larger than Halo.

Posted by scott at 02:26 PM | Comments (3)
Progressive Fact Check

Jason at Iraq now handily disassembles a recent "troops = beggars" article that recently appeared in The Progressive

[The author Barbara] Ehrenreich's $16,000 per year figure--while not far off the mark if the soldier's a screw-up and doesn't get promoted and you only count base pay--is wildly inaccurate when it's vetted by someone who actually knows what he's doing.

And the LT? The first year 2nd Lieutenant while deployed in Iraq, makes an after-tax equivalent of $61,462.67 (somewhat less than that, actually, because he's in a marginal 15% bracket, not an effective one. But you get the idea.)

Where ELSE can you be 19-24 years old and pull in that kind of salary?

(emphasis original)

Sometimes I wonder if having meals, clothing, and shelter provided to me would be worth putting up with seargents and getting shot at. Then Ellen hits my head with the ol' cast-iron skillet, and I feel much better. ;)

Posted by scott at 01:04 PM | Comments (2)
See! See! They Really are Communist!

Fark linked up this Moscow News piece detailing a new "flying saucer" aviation project. Originally funded by the Russian government, it now seems to have been picked up by both the US and China. Details are a bit sparse, but it would seem the design has significant vibration, stability, and probably range advantages that would make it an ideal unmanned surveyor to help with, for example, the spotting of forest fires.

Posted by scott at 11:50 AM | Comments (0)
Gettin' a Woody, Speaker-Style

Slashdot linked up this article which details a radical new speaker design using wooden cones instead of paper or polypropylene. The secret to the construction? The rice wine sake.

Posted by scott at 10:27 AM | Comments (0)
GRM Challenge Results

The Grassroots Motorsports 2004 challenge was run recently, and an Alfa spider came in 10th, with a 1st overall in the autorcross. Woot!

For those who don't know, the GRM challenge is a contest that requires you to create a car for (this year) $2004 which will compete in a concours (must look pretty), drag race (must scoot), and autocross (cars turn ya know). Winners in each event are given points, and the one with the most points at the end of the weekend wins.

The Alfa entry was a 78 spider prepared by Michigan area Alfisti. It was mightily "non-stock", complete with a turbo. Eric Storhok, a team member, posted a colorful account, quoted in its entirety in the "more" section of this story.

Considering there's no real limit on what you can do with your car, as long as you stay on budget, this definitely sounds like something me and my Honda-nut friend Damion might take a crack at some day.

As a quick reminder- in 2001/02, we built a '78 Spider to compete in the GRM $2002 Challenge, this car was an interesting project, and we added a turbo to the engine to boost the power. 3 years later, this was the last competition for the Turbolare Spider. The GRM Challenge is a competition where you can spend $200x on the entire car, compete in a drag race, autocross, and concours. Highest points wins....

It was an interesting weekend.

We targeted a third consecutive top 10 finish in the GRM 2004 Challenge with the turbo Spider, and thought we could do it pretty confidently. Swapped a cam, different rear end, polishing, and some metal welded in should help us in all 3 events- drag race, concours, and autocross. Things started well, Ed, Ines and I prepared the car for tech and the concours, while Jim installed the data acquisition unit that we were experimenting with for Bonneville. Short note- that worked great, we are good for the salt. Did the concours first- the judges really liked the car, so we hoped for another decent score. Not sure about top score, as the bar has been clearly raised over the years. It turned out that event with the improvements, our score dropped from '03. That is how nice the top cars look now. Took a run on the strip- burn the old rubber off the tires. 14.94- slow, and Ed reported the car felt flat. I figured it was running way too rich, but that was since all previous data acquisition had failed to record the actual a/f. Second run, data acq system up and running- 15... seconds. Running REALLY rich, and recorded about 10:1 a/f. We backed that off a lot for the 3rd run, best estimate for 12-12.5:1. Got it spot on as it turned out, and it really didn't matter.... As Ed shifted into second, the car didn't go, from my perspective, I thought he missed 2nd gear- no big deal- 17 seconds, and something like 95-95 mph trap speed. The engine was running well, apparently. So I go off in search of a drill bit to modify a homemade boost adjustment tool. Ed makes it back to the pits, and reports that we do not have 1st or 2nd gear. Not good. We figure the bolt on the shift fork sheared, which is somewhat common, and decide to put it in second and leave it there for the autocross. To do that, we need the drain plug off, and a long screwdriver... But as the oil finished draining, Ed reports "uh, there are gear parts here." So our hearts sink even lower. Jim crawls under the car to discover the 1-2 syncro has basically exploded- a "I've never seen that happen" failure. Now we are forced to swap the transmission. Thankfully, I keep bringing a spare to all the challenges- mostly to hope we don't need it. It's 3pm, we were supposed to do a photo shoot at 4pm with other "Classic Motorsports" type cars, and we need to be off the parking lot at 5:30 since there is another event that night. As we start, things progress really quickly, to the point where we don't go to the shoot, and keep working. 5pm, we are done!!! When we get back to the hotel, Jim buttens up few other details. Holy cow, I can't believe we are back in the race! The side story- this "spare" was the original trans in the car, which actually has parts deep in the box- the bolt holding the shit tower fell into the box, which is why we swapped the box in back in Jan- so the "new" box had all of 5-6 miles on it when it blew up, and the spare had parts floating around. Gotta run anyway... The autocross was a blast of a course, big sweeping turns, and one slalom. Looked like a 100% power course, but it was more about balance an stick as it turned out. First run- 91 reported seconds- uh- something is wrong. Re-run #1. High 55 seconds- but the car is badly bouncing off the re-limiter in second gear coming out of the big sweeper. Run 2- barely faster- shifting to 3rd didn't help much... Run 3- 7600 rpm limit helped some, low 55's. Go for broke- what the heck- 8000 rpm limit. I'll remind you that this is totally stock internals- bearings, rods, valves and springs- just lighter pistons with the lower compression, and almost 14psi boost. Run 4- couple of bobbles, but I get red flagged since a car spun. Re-run 4- as I'm sitting at the start line, I see a red/black Talon get a 54.5. Didn't faze me much, as I thought low 54's/ high 53's would be FTD. On the run, the car is really hot (220+ F), and it hic-ups 3 times. 54.442 seconds- not bad, and some ovations from the spectators. Let the car cool, and go for the last run- got a really good one going, but I messed up the last corner just a hair for a 54.9. I park the car, and figure someone will beat that for sure. For the afternoon, I didn't watch much, as a friend of mine asked me to run his mid-engined V8 Corvair. That was a blast to drive, let me tell you! 327 small block, and it was darn nicely balanced. Managed a 57.4 clean, but hit 2 cones on a 56.5 run- needs some brakes. Fun, fun, fun. Another friend offers to let me drive his big block Mustang, but by the time I get back, he's got one run left after letting one of the pro drivers take a few runs- since he's got a good time, I persuade him to take the last run. By this time, Ines catches up with me- she is looking really nervous. It's 3pm, and still nobody has been faster than my 54 second run. You are kidding, right? There is one car I expect to beat us, the Silver Bullet Omni GLHS that is very fast, and is driven by a guy who has run the car for 4 years now. But I hear they are struggling with the big sweeper- too much power... Ines tells me their third run was a 54.8, which made her very nervous. So we watch their last run- small braking bobble coming out of the big sweeper, some hesitancy coming through the last corner- 55 seconds... I think we did it! FTD in a turbo Alfa AFTER a transmission swap!!! We were not sure until the banquet, but yes, we got FTD. Still figured no way for top 10, but amazingly, we did finish an unofficial 10th!! Final results will be posted today. The Spider will be officially retired after our drivers school on the 18th. Thanks a bunch to Jim, Ed, and Ines for this year, and Matt Gerhart, Jeff Koncsol, Nathan Fogg, and Charles Hailey for helping build the car!

Posted by scott at 09:01 AM | Comments (0)
April 05, 2004
Big Hole, Very Deep

Spaceflight now has this summary detailing the most successful attempt to date to measure "the object at the center of our galaxy." Presumed to be a black hole four million times as massive as the sun, it's obscured by huge clouds of dust, making optical observations impossible. By using the National Science Foundation's Very Long Baseline Array (VLBA) radio telescope, they were able to "see through" the dust to perform the observations.

Posted by scott at 04:00 PM | Comments (0)
Farscape Update

Well, regular readers already know Farscape is coming back, but now Sci-Fi has made it official. Most people thought it unlike the series would come back to the Sci-Fi channel, as it was widely understood that neither party (Henson productions being the other one) was contractually obligated to the other. Bah, who cares about party politics as long as we get our show!

Posted by scott at 03:04 PM | Comments (1)
Real Crop Circles

BBCnews is carrying this report of "fairy circles", extremely bizarre circular formations that seem to spontaneously form in the Namibia wilderness. Thing is, nobody has any real idea how they form. Very strange...

Posted by scott at 01:52 PM | Comments (0)
Puts the "Boom" in Boom Box

Presenting the ultimate "hi-fi" home room:

SUBWOOFER horns are built underneath the floor in a cavity of 1 meter deep. Each horn is driven by 8 x 18" (47 cm) woofers. A total of 16 woofers.

A particularly extreme version of "build the room around the gear". Still, fun to look at, if rather tacky (to me) in execution.

Posted by scott at 11:53 AM | Comments (1)
"Dodging" to Canada

In the "addle-brained journalists are not a US monopoly" catagory Fark helps us find this stay-puft piece on US soldiers going AWOL to Canada:

The story for many of these deserters is the same: a life in the military appeared to be a good choice at first, not to mention a quick and easy way to further their education. But few expected that they would be sent overseas in very hostile conditions such as Iraq.

Note the heavy "poor-American-forced-to-fight" spin versus the "teenager-thought-the-gun-was-for-show" truth. Germany requires all citizens to either perform government service or serve in the military for a few years (I think it's 4, but I could easily be wrong), so I guess this poor German fluffer just couldn't get his or her head around the fact that the US military is all volunteer. Oh, it's mentioned, but you can tell just by reading that the author didn't really understand it.

As for the moronic cowards who are actually doing this? Here's a tip for all you teenagers marching against Bush: don't want to go to Iraq? Don't sign up for the Army!

Posted by scott at 10:35 AM | Comments (2)
Maggots May Misidentify Murder

New Scientist is carrying this article summarizing the findings of an Austrailian scientist studying the use of insect larva as a method of assessing time of death. Turns out the technique is probably not as clockwork-like as was previously thought.

Posted by scott at 08:28 AM | Comments (0)
April 04, 2004
The Carnival of the Cats

It's up!! Go to Amish Tech Support for all of the entries!

Posted by Ellen at 09:53 PM | Comments (0)
Kiss That!

Scott don't you dare take this down! It's for the Carnival of the Cats!

Click below at your own risk... --Scott


Posted by Ellen at 11:05 AM | Comments (2)

Fark linked up a Japanese language site that has a full-sized functional "Akira" bike on it. Check out the path on that chain drive.

Posted by scott at 09:48 AM | Comments (1)
When Practical Jokes Attack

Oh the games people play:

A 33-year-old man has been charged with falsely reporting an incident after faking his own hanging as an April Fool's joke on his ex-wife, according to Oswego County sheriff's ... his ex-wife called 911 before he told her it was a prank.

Must be one of those "parted as friends" couples. Most of the divorcees I know would've done the secret happy dance if they found their ex hanging from a tree.

Well, ok, maybe not hanging from a tree, but I don't know a one who wouldn't smile at a sprained ankle or two.

Posted by scott at 09:42 AM | Comments (0)
April 03, 2004
Linux is for B*tches?

Welcome to geeky 3l33t-ism (elitism) in all its glory, right down to the misspellings:

In the beginning, Linux was pretty cool. It was free (always a plus), had a rapid development cycle, a moderately knowledgeable user base, and a funny mascot.

Then the pinheads arrived.

I don't have an issue with Linux so much as the user base it attracts. More and more I'm reading about and experiencing what I like to refer to as the "dumbing down of Linux".

Everyone goes on and on about how helpful "the community" is with open source software. What's not talked about is that most of "the community" are guys like this.

Posted by scott at 02:59 PM | Comments (0)
April 02, 2004
The (Trashy) Red Planet

Slashdot linked up this Astrobiology article that discusses the signficance of the debris fields created by the two rovers. The article itself is a little confusing, mostly poorly worded, but the pictures sure are neat.

Posted by scott at 02:48 PM | Comments (0)
Outsourcing Inward?

Instapundit linked up this Contra Costa Times article that notes "offshoring" (which was called outsourcing just a few weeks ago) can go both ways:

While U.S. companies including Hewlett-Packard Co., the world's second- largest computer maker, and AIG Life Insurance Co., the world's largest insurer, have transferred white-collar work to low-wage countries such as India and China, more jobs are coming the other way, according to government estimates and trade analysts.

I can remember when Ross Perot predicted the "giant sucking sound" we'd all hear when NAFTA was passed. Quite the opposite seems to have happened (overall, at any rate).

I'm also old enough to remember when all the heavy industry in the "rust belt" collapsed in the 1970s. The apocalypse predicted back then didn't happen either, but I often wonder just what happened to all those steel workers. They certainly didn't curl up in their front lawns and die. How they coped with the trauma and dislocation would probably be very helpful for those in other fields who are going through it now.

I imagine we'd find out they dusted themselves off and got on with their lives. Since this goes against the media's conventional wisdom ("The common people are incapable of helping themselves! They'll die without government protection!"), I don't expect such a documentary to be screened any time soon.

Posted by scott at 01:30 PM | Comments (2)
I Crush Your Head!

From the "colorful ways we do unto each other" file, we have this WikiPedia entry on that ever popular method of execution, "Crushing by Elephant":

Most rajahs kept execution elephants for the purpose of death by crushing and the executions were often held in public to serve as a warning to any who might transgress. Toward that end many of the execution elephants were especially huge, often weighing in excess of 9 tons.

Insert "Excedrine Headache #6" commercial here...

Posted by scott at 12:01 PM | Comments (4)
Fish Fossil Find Shows Foot Forensics

Scientific American is featuring this article summarizing a recent ancient fossil find:

A report published today in the journal Science describes the fossil, which represents an intermediate stage in the evolution of fish fins into vertebrate limbs.

Turns out the "fin-to-limb" transition seems to have happened earlier than previously thought, and was perhaps a response to aquatic conditions instead of a direct adaptation to land.

Posted by scott at 10:56 AM | Comments (0)
It's the Economy, Stupid?

Oh boy, this can't be good:

U.S. nonfarm payrolls grew by a surprising 308,000 in March, the largest gain since April 2000, the Labor Department estimated Friday.

If the economy takes off, Iraq calms back down, and nothing in the US gets blown up... wow...

I guess you guys are going to have to hope the Saudi's plan to strangle the US economy with high oil prices actually works. All this poorly-timed prosperity just won't do!

Posted by scott at 10:09 AM | Comments (1)
Bad Kitty! No Biscuit!

Funny only because nobody got hurt, this cat took one wild ride:

A grumpy house cat was the toast of New Zealand traffic authorities after it survived a hairy ride through a city clinging to the roof of a car, with the driver unaware of the drama.

I wonder if it was a landau top?

Posted by scott at 09:07 AM | Comments (1)
April 01, 2004
Pet spider kills its owner

Thanks to Cheri for the link! No- Prize to You!

This totally creeped and grossed me out.

Btw love you guys..keep up the great work!!

A MAN who lived in his own “zoo” of lizards and insects was fatally bitten by a pet black widow spider — then eaten by the other creepy-crawlies. Police broke in to Mark Voegel’s apartment to find spider Bettina along with 200 others, several snakes, a gecko lizard called Helmut and several thousand termites had gorged on his body.

Neighbours alerted police after becoming alarmed by the stink.

Read rest of the story here.

Posted by Ellen at 06:03 PM | Comments (5)
Fat Hamster in Printer Sparks Rescue

BERLIN (Reuters) - A hamster called "Teddy" sparked a police rescue mission after he climbed inside a computer printer and got stuck because he was too fat to get out again, authorities said Wednesday.

Read entire article here.

I remember when I worked for Banfield that we could not close the printer for some reason. Turns out there was a mouse stuck in the back of it and the receptionists kinda squashed it trying to close the drawer.

I've also washed a mouse at the same hospital. Apparently he was in the wash load and when I got the laundry out of the washer, there he was, stuck to the side of the washer. Poor mouse.

This is what happens when the animal hospital resides in a pet store.

Posted by Ellen at 05:45 PM | Comments (1)
8-Track Memories

Ellen didn't believe that "Put Another Log on the Fire" was a real song, even though I could belt out one whole verse and a chorus. Well, guess what?

Put another log on the fire
Cook me up some bacon & some beans
And go out to the car & change the tire
Wash my socks and blow my old blue jeans
Come on baby you can fill my pipe & then go fetch my slippers
And boil me up another pot of tea
Then put another log on the fire babe
And come & tell me why you're leaving me

My parents had this one on 8-track, can't remember what album it appeared on. I recall that it was a live performance, but this was a long time ago. It's not quite as impressive just reading the lyrics... you have to hear the whole honky-tonky-clonky music to get the full effect. You know you want to!

To think people say country music is silly...

Posted by scott at 03:17 PM | Comments (7)
Simpsons Stoppage?

CNN is reporting the actors behind the Simpsons are in a work stoppage right now. Standard reason. Now, on the one hand all these people do is go in a few times a week, sit in a studio, and read lines for a few hours. $2.7 million a year seems pretty good pay for that kind of work. On the other hand, the show's been running for 16 years, and Fox makes God knows how much money on the thing. There is an argument for getting a bigger piece of the pie there.

Posted by scott at 02:49 PM | Comments (5)
Kinda Brings a Whole New Meaning to "Landing Lights"

Ellen's already starting to make belly dance costumes in her spare time. I bet this stuff will take it to a whole new level. Also helpful for guys with poor night vision!

Posted by scott at 01:15 PM | Comments (1)
Deluvian Dino Death?

BBCNews is carrying this article summarizing a recent study concerning how asteroid impacts seem to combine with massive basalt flows to trigger mass extinctions. Evidence seems to be growing against one or the other being powerful enough to cause such an event, but both together seem to do nicely.

To me, the fact that a mass extinction tends to be accompanied by both a huge impact and a basalt outflow would indicate the two were related somehow. Yet these geologists seem particularly concerned not to draw the obvious causal conclusion. I guess it's because I'm not much of a geologist.

Posted by scott at 12:07 PM | Comments (0)
The Death of Rice

Damion: I really like the old Austin mini's... very cool look there. I wonder if I could wedge a Honda motor in one?
Scott: Bah. Nobody's that crazy.

Famous last words. What do you get when you drop a 220+ hp motor into a chasis that weighs 1700 lbs soaking wet? Can you say rice killer? I knew you could.

Personally if he gets one I think it should be painted black, with logos of Death on the fenders, a giant "Type R" hanging from his scythe. But that's just me.

Snide comment from a certain Pontiac fan in 3... 2... 1...

Posted by scott at 10:02 AM | Comments (3)
Stink Shooter

New Scientist is carrying this summary of the latest invention from the oh-so-clever Japanese:

A new device can track an individual, shoot an aroma directly at their nose, and leave the person next to them completely unaffected.

Just what I always wanted... scent spamming!

Posted by scott at 08:23 AM | Comments (0)