August 31, 2004
A Black Eye and an Oreo Cookie


Sorry you lost the fight against the popcorn tin O. Have a cookie.

She's FINE. O is learning how to walk. Toddlers wobble. Sometimes they wobble into things.

Posted by Ellen at 07:57 PM | Comments (4)
Geometry, Halo-Style

This is just about the simplest flash game I've ever played, but for some reason I can't stop. Maybe it's the explosions, popping aliens, and Halo tie-in. Maybe it's making that little warthog spin like a propeller. Maybe I just need help.

Yeah, probably that third one.

Posted by scott at 03:44 PM | Comments (2)
Gadget, meet Gizmo

BBCnews is carrying this article detailing new efforts to revolutionize our kitchens. From containers that tell us when the food inside will go bad to devices that will replace cupboards, dishwashers, glasses, and plates, they have it all. Will we actually see any of it? Who knows? Is it cool? Definitely.

Posted by scott at 03:00 PM | Comments (0)
Iraqi Roundup

Site Essential linked up this comprehensive breakdown of "everything else" that's been happening in Iraq lately. From commerce to security, it seems to touch everything. And, not surprisingly, the news we're not hearing isn't very bad at all.

Posted by scott at 02:02 PM | Comments (0)
Anime Giants

Slashdot linked up this comprehensive WIRED article detailing both upcoming anime features as well as a basic history of the field. Includes notes on three really big releases coming out from each of the best-known directors.

Posted by scott at 01:16 PM | Comments (1)

We're still catching up on our TiVo'd Olympics stuff (I loved the way the Greeks made the fireworks zip across the top of the stadium), so we haven't caught any of the Republican convention. Which means we missed Rudi:

Neither party has a monopoly on virtue; we don’t have all the right ideas, they don’t have all the wrong ideas, but I do believe there are times in history when our ideas are more necessary, and more important, and critical. And this is one of those times – when we are facing war and danger.


Exiting stage-right before the yellow-dog peanut gallery remembers where they put the crate of old tomatoes...

Update: Transcripts are your friend. When you're smart enough to find them anyway. Must learn to use google more effectively...

Posted by scott at 12:20 PM | Comments (0)
Please Secure Your Foil Hats in the Upright and Locked Position

Joshua gets a deeply paranoid no-prize for bringing us the "evidence" that the airplane which crashed into the pentagon was not American Airlines flight 77. If the pretentious intro screen ("may challenge assumptions") doesn't clue you in to the general soft-headedness of the piece, the rest of it will make it obvious. I wonder if this guy knows the "Paul is dead!" guys personally?

Hmmm? Oh, well, let's just put it this way... Aviation Week (who's penchant for uncovering secrets got it labled "aviation leak" more than a decade ago) reported salvage crews removing the engines of the airplane a week or two after the disaster. They weren't the engines of a private aircraft or missle.

Posted by scott at 10:50 AM | Comments (0)
Ellen's Next Exercise Craze?

Introducing YogaKitty, with "purr-fect" video examples of how you and your cat can reach an alternative state of being. Maybe this will get Edloe to exercise more?


Posted by scott at 10:07 AM | Comments (0)
Asian Technocrats to World - Sky to Fall by 2025

Another day, another technocratic prediction of apocalypse:

The world is on the verge of a water crisis as people fight over ever dwindling supplies, experts told the Stockholm Water Symposium.

Ok, one more time... as long as there are no price controls, and no technocratic oversight, then the gradual (and it will be gradual) reduction in water supply will automatically result in a gradual increase in price. This increase will cause farmers to a) become more efficient in their water use, b) grow different crops that require less water or c) do something else other than farming. Water use will go down, the price will then go down (because it's being used more efficiently), and eventually there will be a net increase in the amount of available water. This is the inevitable consequence of using free markets to control the distribution of scarce resources with alternative uses.

So, if it's been proven (and proven, and proven, and proven) that free markets modulate the use of scarce resources with alternative uses, and that they make shortages essentially impossible, what's the real problem?

"Nobody knows where the tube wells are or who owns them. There is no way anyone can control what happens to them," says Tushaar Shah, head of the International Water Management Institute's groundwater station, based in Gujarat. "When the balloon bursts, untold anarchy will be the lot of rural India," he says. [emphasis added]

Ah-ha! Here we have the crux of the matter... Someone needs to be in charge! I should be in charge! Nobody's in charge! It's a disaster! It will lead to chaos! Put me in charge to prevent the crisis I am predicting! It's a crisis of control. Starting around 1992, the Indian government began freeing up their markets, taking control away from unaccountable beauracrats and placing it in the hands of those who are directly responsible (and accountable) for the use of all these resources... the people themselves. Of course a social crisis will result when we trust common people to be responsible for things that directly affect their lives. Right?

So I'll make a wager, if anyone's willing to take it. As long as the Indian government does not impose price controls, I predict that in 10 years India's water supply will not be in crisis, will not be causing widespread food shortages, and will not be creating instability in the government. In fact, I'd put a side bet out that the price of water in India will actually be lower at the end of 10 years.

Any takers?

Posted by scott at 09:25 AM | Comments (0)
A Wheel Chair, for the Rest of Us

Ok mom, next time you visit us we've found what we're going to push you around in at the mall:

Giuseppe Cannella had a big surprise for his mother-in-law when he put a jet engine on the back of her wheelchair.

Mr Cannella says the chair can now do top speeds of more than 60mph and has proved the star of a model plane championship during the Bank Holiday.

James Hansen gets a no-prize for bringing us the only thing in the world that might actually keep up with Olivia now that she's learned to walk.

Posted by scott at 08:01 AM | Comments (0)
August 30, 2004
Ninja Squirrel!!!

Ok, this is easily the funniest thing I have read so far this year, maybe ever. I'm literally wiping my face with my hands because I'm crying from laughing so hard:

Inches before impact [wiith my onrushing motorcycle], the squirrel flipped to his feet. He was standing on his hind legs and facing the oncoming Valkyrie with steadfast resolve in his little beady eyes. His mouth opened, and at the last possible second, he screamed and leapt! I am pretty sure the scream was squirrel for, “Banzai!” or maybe, “Die you gravy-sucking, heathen scum!” as the leap was spectacular and he flew over the windshield and impacted me squarely in the chest.

Nina's busy being a punk teen, so she's going to miss out, but you shouldn't! Swear to God, when he gets to the police cruiser if you're not at least giggling you're not human!

Highly, highly recommended.

Via Reflections in D Minor.

Posted by scott at 08:29 PM | Comments (3)
Firestorm Tornados


With videos!

Posted by Ellen at 07:11 PM | Comments (0)
'Indian Larry' dies after stunt in Cabarrus

Indian Larry, a master motorcycle mechanic and stunt man, passed away this morning following an accident while performing Saturday at the Liquid Steel Classic and Custom Bike Series show at Cabarrus Arena and Events Center in Concord. He was best known for his appearances on Discovery Channel's "Great Biker Build-Off" show.

Read entire article here.

Posted by Ellen at 07:07 PM | Comments (55)
When Journalists Attack

Yup, I guess Ellen's right, everything does come in threes. In the space of ten days, we've had three journalists actually not be press-release-regurgitators. The final jewel in this triple crown comes from a British journalist who is neither dazzled nor impressed with Hollywood fuzzy thinking:

So I ask how Kosovo was a threat to US security.

'Ahm...' he hesitates. 'I believe... I'm not the right person to talk about this... but that region of the world, this is the way I've heard it put... Can I go get a cigarette?' He disappears and, as if having remembered his Noam Chomsky, returns a minute later with a ready-fit anti-imperialist answer. 'Where it's all flawed is this hegemonic belief that if you bring business to a country it will help them.'

Leaving aside what he had said a moment earlier about the Marshall Plan, I say that when I visited Kosovo it was less about bringing business than preventing communal bloodshed.

'I'm ignorant on this subject,' he admits, without bluster. 'I'd have to read up on it.' He returns to Iraq, a subject on which he has done a fair amount of reading. Contradicting himself once again, he repeats the line that the Iraq war was a neoconservative plot hatched in 1989 by Bush advisers who believed 'they could spread democracy. They thought they were altruistic' - so not about destabilisation after all - 'They were wrong.'

Robbins is not a politician and it is therefore a little unfair to parse his words, teasing out the contradictions and inconsistencies. But his muddled thinking, in which the only continuum is that American foreign policy is always bad, informs his writing as a dramatist. He shows me a scene that he's editing from Embedded that is both pretentious and simple-minded - not a happy combination - and is reminiscent of the worst shouty agitprop.

The whole article is a scream, shot through with that lovely dry British "look-I-don't-care-how-rich-or-good-looking-you-are-you're-still-an-idiot" attitude. I just wish our bunch had an attention span longer than a gnat's. Maybe then they'd remember these things.

Hey, I can dream, can't I?

Via Misha.

Posted by scott at 03:26 PM | Comments (0)

Note to all restaraunt managers: not paying someone enough to be smart doesn't mean they're not. Yeah, it's giggly-stupid-beavis-and-butthead-freshman stuff, but there's just something about seeing ANUS written in giant flashing lights that makes me giggle.

I need therapy.

Posted by scott at 02:38 PM | Comments (1)
And in the "Life's Just not Fair" Department...

We have a one-hundred-five pound world eating champion. 38 lobsters in 12 minutes no less. Single too! Now where's Damion's phone number...

Posted by scott at 01:31 PM | Comments (0)
It's Like Reese's, for Beer

Combine the shape and handiness of a bottle with the tech and superior insulation qualities of aluminum and what do you get? Well, this:

[Pittsburgh Brewing Co., maker of Iron City Beer] has partnered with Alcoa Inc., the world’s largest aluminum maker, to produce aluminum bottles that keep beer colder for as much as 50 minutes longer, Alcoa officials said.

Hopefull it'll make carrying a case out to the car a little easier too.

I, for one, welcome our new aluminum overlords.

Posted by scott at 12:39 PM | Comments (0)
Even More Quantum News

Always read the comments, wherein I found this nice summary of how quantum teleportation works, and how it makes "macro" teleportation possible, at least on a theoretical level. As with all things quantum, "nice" is a relative term... if this stuff doesn't make your head hurt just a little you're probably not reading it closely enough.

And I'm sorry, but if a transporter works by tearing the original "me" down to my constituent sub-atomic particles in order to create an exact duplicate "me" out of different sub-atomic particles somewhere else, I'm walking.

Posted by scott at 11:41 AM | Comments (0)
Broken Clock News

Just because the guy's a moonbat doesn't mean he can't be right:

If you [radical protestors] haven't left yet, here's my wish: Break a leg. Literally. We could afford you in Seattle in 1999; in fact, you pretty much made the scene there. But in New York, a small army of Republican Party apparatchiks, Fox News television producers, and Wall Street Journal editorialists are waiting for you, and they're a lot more sophisticated than you will ever be. They want you to smash windows and intimidate public safety officers here near the epicenter of Ground Zero; in fact, they'll be looking right over your shoulder, rolling videotape. On prime time that night, your bandanna'd visage will be on fourteen million televisions in Florida, Ohio, and every other swing state, and your crude epithets will settle into the brains of every undecided retiree or unemployed steel worker.

The old protest movements in the 60s were just as fractious, just as theatrical, and just exactly as ineffective, actually prolonging that what they sought to end. Thirty-six years ago the Democratic mainstream fought the protestors while the Democratic fringe tried to come to terms with them. The Republicans simply held up pictures of half-naked grinning hippies and asked, "are these the people you want in charge?" It worked then, and it'll work now.

What's worse is the inevitability of it all. Chaotic protestors with no coherent message engaging in street theater, stunts, and riotous violence because they're too young and stupid to actually understand did nothing to help bring an end to Vietnam. They'll do nothing to end this administration, quite the opposite. But precisely because they're young and stupid and willing to be manipulated they'll do it all over again anyway, because it's fun to have your picture in the paper, fun to break stuff "for a good cause", and fun to shock your parents by waving your painted boobs on TV. The fact that it is ultimately counterproductive will quite literally never ocurr to them.

And that is why they will fail.

Via Countercolumn.

Posted by scott at 10:43 AM | Comments (4)
Quantum Computer News

Slashdot linked up news that scientists have managed to link five photons together and use their quantum states to transmit information:

A key step is being able to entangle five particles, which would make it possible to check computations for errors and teleport quantum information within and between computers.

Error checking has always been known as a critical block to quantum computing, because errors are utterly unavoidable on that scale. That they seem to have overcome this obstacle indicates real progress indeed.

I can remember when quantum computing was thought to be a pipe dream. Too many insurmountable problems, it was thought. Now the problems seem to be falling one by one, and people really are starting to think about what an actual computer based on these principles would look like.

Posted by scott at 09:29 AM | Comments (0)
Old Man Winter

Fark linked up this story detailing what The Farmer's Almanac is predicting for this winter:

Gas up the snowblower but don't put away your umbrella: The Farmers' Almanac is predicting a wild winter with heavy precipitation and dramatic temperature swings in the Northeast.

While long-term forcasting is even more of a crapshoot than your typical 3-day-er, I have found that general long term stuff like "colder here, warmer there" do tend to hold true. The one I've paid attention to was the National Weather Service's, which has indeed been reasonably accurate. Haven't seen that one though.

Ah well, the Spider needs new ball joints and tie-rod-ends anyway. Give me something to do when it's too cold and snowy to bike.

Posted by scott at 08:30 AM | Comments (0)
August 29, 2004
Rain Headed OUR Way!

CHARLESTON, South Carolina (AP) -- Tropical Storm Gaston blasted the South Carolina coast with rain and near-hurricane strength wind early Sunday, flooding roads and knocking out power to at least 75,000 homes.

Read entire article here.

Posted by Ellen at 11:43 AM | Comments (0)
Laura Branigan, Grammy-Nominated Singer Best Known for 1982 Platinum Hit 'Gloria,' Dies at 47

Branigan died of a brain anuerysm Thursday in her sleep at her home in East Quogue, said her brother Mark Branigan. He said she had complained to a friend of a headache for about two weeks before she died, but had not sought medical attention.

Read entire article here.

Posted by Ellen at 11:25 AM | Comments (1)
Cat Town

This is great!

Posted by Ellen at 11:23 AM | Comments (2)

JACKSON HOLE, Wyo. - It wasn't a grizzly bear that killed him, although a grizzly did nibble on his body after he was dead. Instead, it was probably his decision to continue hiking off-trail through the night while still wet that caused the death of 24-year-old David Anderson.

Hypothermia, noted the Jackson Hole News & Guide in telling the story, can cause a delirium that results in bad decisions.

He kept hiking, blooded by a tumble that fractured a vertebrae in his neck and caused other injuries. Finally, he laid down in a meadow and died of hypothermia. He was only an hour's walk from a highway.

Read entire article here.
Posted by Ellen at 11:20 AM | Comments (0)
More News, for the Rest of Us

Scrappleface reminds us that in every campaign, there are casualties:

Democrat presidential candidate John Forbes Kerry today warned that America faces "a celebrity exhaustion crisis" if President George Bush wins reelection in November.

Well, a squeaky wheel does tend to get greased.

Posted by scott at 08:50 AM | Comments (0)
~ Hey, Hey, Hey, Good-Bye ~

Remeber when I said raising taxes on rich people doesn't make them pay more, it makes them move their money elsewhere? Well, guess what:

[Agencies] all report rising numbers of Americans moving to Central America. The buyers are attracted by the cheap land and household help, the sunny climate, the easy flights back to the United States and the improving infrastructure.
Americans [moving to places like Honduras, Panama, and Nicaragua] retain their U.S. citizenship but get a significant U.S. tax break because they live abroad. And Honduras, like most Central American countries, does not tax them on income they earned in the United States.

An unfortunate number of members in the peanut gallery (no, not you, the other one) will of course say, "so what? Good riddance!" But this is only because they refuse to understand how capital flow works. These people are taking money and jobs out of the US economy and putting them in another country's economy. All because they want to avoid being part of the 10% of Americans who pay 65% of the taxes.

"Big deal! Those are all terrible jobs! Who would want them?" Well, people who don't have high school educations, who have made bad decisions and need a second chance, who have no other skills or don't even speak the language... folks who need some nice, low bottom rungs to get their start on the ladder again, that's who. In other words, people who are most likely to end up on the government dole and consume our tax dollars.

They end up there often because they can't find jobs. They can't find those jobs because people who'd be willing to pay them have moved somewhere else to avoid having their wealth taken from them by the government. Democrats see this situation and want to create new government programs to "help" the poor (the fact that they already receive billions and it isn't changing anything is beside the point), and, of course, raise taxes even more on "the wealthy" to pay for these programs. Inevitably, they (and their buddies in the press corps who helped them) then scratch their heads when the deficit baloons, government program enrollments get longer, and nothing else changes. "It couldn't be because we're doing the wrong thing. We just haven't found the right program!" And around the tax-and-spend wheel goes again.

Republicans simply lower taxes on the people who're carrying the rest of the country anyway and let the whole thing sort itself out.

See the difference?

Posted by scott at 08:03 AM | Comments (0)
August 28, 2004
And People Think We're Tasteless

Ron gets a no-prize for bringing us news of the weirdest toy prize ever included in a box of candy:

Small toys showing an airplane flying into the World Trade Center were packed inside more than 14,000 bags of candy and sent to small groceries around the country before being recalled.

I've seen something like this making the rounds in places like Egypt and Gaza, but I can't say for sure if it's the same thing. Tacky doesn't even come close...

Posted by scott at 05:06 PM | Comments (0)
Houston, We Have an Emulator

Actually, I was wondering how long it would take for someone to create an emulator that would allow original Apollo mission source code to run on a modern PC. Slashdot linked a notice that it has now been done.

Since this computer was designed to do a very specific thing with *very* limited equipment, it's not really a simulator of any sort. Rather, what this guy has done is write a program that re-creates the Apollo computer exactly. The only difference (ideally) is that this computer "lives" inside another.

As noted on the site itself, people are using this "computer" to create high-fidelity space simulations, which means, with the right peripherials and carpentry skills, it should some day (soon!) be possible to create a 100% authentic Apollo flight simulator using PC equipment.

Posted by scott at 12:50 PM | Comments (0)
August 27, 2004
Bust a Nut

There are two main techniques involved in causing the sensation of pain within the testicles. They are administering a sharp blow (as in punching/hitting/kicking etc) and crushing (as in squeezing etc). Personally I've always enjoyed striking my nuts with a sharp blow as this simulates the effect of being hit in the groin by a woman. It also causes a more severe wave of pain to wash through them (having said that, any man who has had his gonads squeezed by an angry woman will know how debilitating a good squeeze can be!).

You know you want to find out more.

Posted by Ellen at 07:23 PM | Comments (2)
Jaw of Steel

New Scientist is carrying this report about how German scientists are using innovative lattice-building and adult stem-cell techniques to create sophisticated bone replacements. The first example was a man who'd lost his jaw to cancer, now able to eat normal food again.

Posted by scott at 02:57 PM | Comments (1)
That's Mister Psycho Boss to You, Bub

Ron gets a poorly adjusted no-prize for bringing us news that your boss might actually be more than just an a-hole:

Is your boss a charming, well-educated and polished leader intent on climbing the career ladder? If so, he could be a psychopath, psychologists gathered in Stockholm said.

So moving into management doesn't just make you stupid, it makes you crazy too. Lovely!

Posted by scott at 01:34 PM | Comments (2)
Gotta Get Me One of These Too

I mean, who wouldn't want a full-size Apache flight trainer? Only $150,000! WhatABargain!

Yet more proof that you can buy absolutely anything on e-bay if you wait long enough.

Posted by scott at 12:48 PM | Comments (0)
Adios Tomcat

Fark linked up news that the F-14 is officially on its way out. Aviation Week has noted its days were numbered for quite some time now... the development of the "bomb cat" -D sub-model was all that has kept it in service this long.

Notwithstanding the ra-ra tone of the article, the F-14 was not without its flaws. Initially designed for an engine that never materialized, it was forced to make do with the substandard TF-30 for nearly twenty years. This engine, initially designed for the F-111, would cause constant and dangerous problems, as well as leave the fighter with a less-than-ideal thrust-to-weight ratio.

While the swing-wings provided definite improvements over its predecessor, the F-4, this weapon system's primary reason for existence was fleet defense against hordes of Soviet bombers. It was larger than many WWII medium bombers, and should be seen more as a maneuverable interceptor than a furball-winning dogfighter. Until the F-18 came along, it was the pilot skills provided by the superior Top-Gun school that netted the Navy air combat kills, not the superior ACM (Air Combat Maneuverability) of the Tomcat

The legendary Phoenix missile system (with an unclassified range in excess of 100 miles) was also geared to knock down bombers, and to date has never had a successful combat intercept. As popular as it is in the armchair air-combat crowd, the F-14 has never been modeled in a single-craft simulation, not because of a "blue" bias in the community, but because the F-14 is mostly manual and has poorly laid out controls. It really does take two people to fly and fight it.

This is not to say it's a bad aircraft. Far from it. Mach-2 capability and truly massive range combined with acceptable maneuverability and leading-edge avionics to create what is probably the most successful interceptor* the Navy has ever fielded. We learned to fight small, cheap Soviet fighters in the "brick-with-engines" F-4, and the F-14 outperformed the Phantom in every respect. When it was finally re-engined with B-1 bomber derivatives in the early 90s, the Navy finally had what the Tomcat should have been all along... a big, fast, maneuverable energy fighter that when flown skillfully could hold its own against all comers.

Unfortunately "hold its own" is not good enough in today's high-threat world. The design is now over 30 years old, and came from an era when dials with needles were required to figure out what was going on with the airplane. They are already the most expensive aircraft to maintain in the Navy's inventory, and this is only getting worse. The last airframe to roll off the line was manufactured in 1992, but most are far older, and in the harsh environment of a blue-water aircraft carrier they are wearing fast. The F/A-18D, while also flawed in its own way, is still a far more flexible and capable weapon system, and requires half the (expensive and hard to train) crew.

It's hard to believe sometimes, but Top Gun was filmed nearly 20 years ago, and the F-14 was more than a decade old even then. Time and technology have turned what was once an innovative combat system into yesterday's news. Interesting news, but old nonetheless. As with the F-4 twenty years ago, a skillful F-14 crew can still bounce an unwary next generation fighter, but we shouldn't be relying on surprise as the only way to get the job done. It was a good platform, but its time has come and gone. I'll be sad to see them mothballed and eventually turned into razorblades, but I'd rather that happen than have nostalgia risk the lives of our pilots in combat.

* In modern air combat "conventional wisdom", an interceptor is a heavy, fast design that is primarily meant to take out opponents at a distance. A fighter is a much lighter and more maneuverable aircraft meant to close and "mix it up" with the bad guys. Sixth generation jet fighters, some of which are already in service (Saab's Gripen comes to mind) are so capable they can actually do both... intercept at a distance and jump in a furball, whichever is required.

Posted by scott at 08:34 AM | Comments (0)
August 26, 2004
I Especially like the SEAL Device

Joshua gets a very secure no-prize for bringing us this fascinating new look at upcoming automotive anti-theft devices. The only problem I have with them is that a lot of them sure do make a mess of the vehicle. But then again, the Alfa's interior is all plastic, what do I care?

Posted by scott at 04:06 PM | Comments (1)
First (Big) Rock from the Sun

New Scientist is carrying this article detailing the first discovery of a more earth-like planet orbiting another sun. Found circling mu Arae, a star about 50 light years from ours, the planet is still several times more massive than ours, orbits its sun in just 9.5 days, at a distance of less than 1/10th of the Earth-Sun combination. However, the scientists who discovered it think it's likely to be a rocky world instead of another gas giant. The technique holds promise to find even smaller worlds, but probably not as small as Earth.

Posted by scott at 03:13 PM | Comments (0)
A Translator, for the Rest of Us (Guys)

I don't care if this dictionary is in German or not, I want one:

A leading German dictionary publisher plans to launch a guide it says will help men translate the subtext of female conversation.

The Langenscheidt publishing group, best known for its well-respected yellow foreign language dictionaries, will launch sales of a 128-page book to translate such baffling female banter as: "Let's just cuddle" into "No sex tonight please!."

Via Mahmood, who's matching deep interest in this item simply proves that it doesn't matter where the guy happens to live; when it comes to chicks, some problems are cross-cultural.

Posted by scott at 01:26 PM | Comments (0)
Following the Money

Two reasonably even handed reports in a row, discussing substantive issues, coming from big media. If another one shows up I'm not sure if I can take it. This time, ABC news brings us a nice, even-handed summary of how everyone has got their hand in the "getting someone else to do our dirty work" jar:

Sen. John Kerry and his campaign have spent much of the last week accusing President Bush's campaign of illegally coordinating with a third-party group that has been running scathing ads attacking the Democratic presidential nominee's war record ... Regardless of Kerry's feelings about this particular independent group and its charges, he has been more beneficiary than victim of these types of independent groups.

He's benefitted more mainly because he used them a lot during the primary fights, and the article does a very nice job summarizing those involvements.

This is all the direct result of the latest round of ever-more-futile campaign finance reforms. The cold truth is money follows power, and power follows money. Any attempt to separate the two with any sort of legal wall is at best naive and futile. At worst it provides the real power brokers on both sides of the aisle new and clever ways to hide their influence. Anyone who thinks it's just the other side that's dastardly enough to use them isn't paying attention.

Posted by scott at 12:37 PM | Comments (0)
Oh You Have Got to be Kidding Me

Sometimes I think freaks are having fun on the fringe. Other times, well, I think they're just too dumb to come in out of the cultural rain:

Upon further questioning, the patient said that approximately 4 hrs earlier he and his boyfriend had been "fooling around." After stirring a batch of concrete mix, the patient laid on his back with his feet against the wall at a 45-degree angle while his boyfriend poured the mixture through a funnel into his rectum. After the concrete mass hardened, it became so painful that he sought medical care.

And you thought that picture of the guy with a mason jar in his butt was impressive...

Site has one abstract art picture of a perfect concrete cast of a colon, and another of an x-ray of said object in-situ. I guess you'd call it safe for work, if not safe for the imagination.

Posted by scott at 11:37 AM | Comments (0)
Venus in a V.I.S.E.? is carrying this very informative interview with research scientist David Grinspoon, who has just published a new book called "Venus Revealed". They go over a lot of things, like Magellan evidence that Venus completely resurfaced itself about 600 million years ago, whether or not there was ever liquid water on the surface, just exactly how severe the greenhouse effect was, and whether or not life could ever have existed there. Very interesting stuff!

Trivia note: When reading about the Soviet Venera program, I was startled to discover that you don't actually need a parachute to land something on Venus. The atmosphere is so thick, apparently all that's required is a flat piece of metal, sort of like a giant dinner plate.

Posted by scott at 10:05 AM | Comments (0)
Your Science is No Match for My Belief!

Let's all pause for a moment, and reflect on the green conventional wisdom that "traditional" medicine is better for you than the cold ugly Western kind:

A Tanzanian who went to a witch doctor in search of the power to resist bullets and knife attacks died when ritual cuts made on his body proved fatal.

Oh sit down, I'm not talking about you. Far as I know there aren't any greenies around here. Which is why we should talk about them more often!

Posted by scott at 09:05 AM | Comments (0)
Health Care, Health Cost

Just when I thought all media is hopelessly mired in election-time shennanigans, they go and write something interesting and important:

In the first comprehensive examination of which illnesses are driving an unprecedented rise in medical expenditures, Emory University health economist Kenneth E. Thorpe tracked 370 conditions and found that 15 accounted for 56 percent of the $200 billion rise in health spending between 1987 and 2000.
By documenting the most costly conditions, Thorpe's findings offer the beginnings of a road map for controlling health costs. At the same time, they suggest that in some cases, the increased spending has resulted not only in better health but also in long-term savings.

We can't start saving money until we know what we're spending it on, no?

Posted by scott at 08:13 AM | Comments (2)
August 25, 2004
Kick in The Ass



Posted by Ellen at 06:57 PM | Comments (0)
For The Men- Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About a Ballerina



Posted by Ellen at 06:51 PM | Comments (2)
When Free Time (and Bunnies) Attack

What do you get when you boil a 3 hour movie about a big boat down to 30 seconds and include bunnies? Well, this...

I'm coming to the conclusion Flash must be the easiest animation program in the world to use.

Posted by scott at 03:23 PM | Comments (1)
It's not the Size of the Telescope...

Making the rounds: Using telescopes as small as 4", scientists have discovered another one of those bizzaro "Jupiter-next-to-the-Sun" planets. The trick? Networking them together across continents.

Posted by scott at 01:57 PM | Comments (0)
Ted the Caver, Meet the Mysterious Digital Photographer

Joshua gets a no-prize shrouded in mist for bringing us this pictoral story of "a camera found in the woods":

Last week I drove to a nearby town. The town is surrounded by tall hills and mountains, and you can have a very pleasant hike down any of the numerous trails there. Anyway, I was climbing one trail and enjoying the good weather when I saw what looked like a silver box. When I approached, I saw it was a digital camera ... I pity the fool who dropped it so carelessly ... It also had some nice pictures on it, and I'm putting those up in this thread...

I know it's a hoax, and it still creeped me out. Recommended.

Meanwhile, as I read through the comments (also recommended, as they point out some subtleties you may otherwise miss), I found out something nearly as weird... there actually are cat-shaped spiders out there. No, really!

Posted by scott at 12:51 PM | Comments (2)
~ One of These Things is Not Like the Other ~

This one may be too subtle for non-car folk. Hint: Look closely at the interior of this Honda. A "symbolic" no-prize to the first person to comment with the correct answer.

Posted by scott at 12:00 PM | Comments (4)
A Tear in a War-God's Eye

New Scientist is carrying this nifty article & picture of a recent discovery made by the Mars Express orbiter:

Dark, rippling dunes of volcanic ash - similar to Hawaii's black sand beaches - cast a teardrop shape in an ancient Martian crater, reveal the latest images from Mars Express.

It's thought that the formation will remain for as many as a hundred thousand years. Space exploration rocks!

Posted by scott at 10:48 AM | Comments (0)
Time for the Tax and Spend Mambo

One of the first things that comes out of the mouths of the peanut gallery in their laundry list of reasons to support Kerry and/or bash Bush is the "D" word... the [pause for dramatic music] deficit. "We had a wonderful surplus, and Bush squandered it! Kerry! Only Kerry can save the government! He'll protect us from the giant fiscal hole the Bushies have dug!" Right? Wrong:

A Washington Post review of Kerry's tax cuts and spending plans, in addition to interviews with campaign staff members and analyses by conservative and liberal experts, suggests that they could worsen the federal budget deficit by nearly as much as President Bush's agenda. If projected savings from unspecified cuts do not materialize, Kerry's pledges could outstrip those of the president, whom the Democrat has repeatedly accused of unprecedented fiscal recklessness. [emphasis added]

Which means, in essence, the next time one of you in the Yellow-Dog peanut gallery brings up the deficit as a reason for supporting Kerry or bashing Bush you're gonna owe me a pizza. Capice?

Further on in the article the reporter of course lets pass without question this great technocratic bon-mot:

"We're faced with a choice between a president who ... has no plan to deal with deficits except economic growth, versus an opponent who says he wants to do something about the deficit but whose numbers may not add up," [Leon E. Panetta, Bill Clinton's first budget director] said.

That's right folks, it wasn't a booming economy that made the surpluses possible, it was the Right and Proper guidance of our technocratic overlords. Likewise, it wasn't a sagging economy that allowed the deficit to balloon like a porn star's boobs, it was the incorrect management of a different (and therefore wrong) set of technocratic overlords that made it possible.

It seems so obvious to me now... we are not a quarter-billion bloody-minded individuals busily creating wealth for ourselves and our country via free markets, we are but a poor and helpless harvest, whose only hope is the care of our technocratic reaper men.

Worse still is the lack of the diagram that accompanied the article in print; a diagram that made it clear that the real difference between Bush's gigantic deficit and Kerry's gigantic deficit is that almost all of Bush's comes from tax cuts, while Kerry's comes from new gargantuan wealth-redistribution schemes (aka "government programs"). To simplify it for the gallery... Bush's deficit comes from him allowing me to keep my money, and Kerry's comes from him taking it.

See friend, the tricky thing about stereotypes is they're usually based on real differences, and rhetoric is sometimes a way of stating those differences clearly. Combine them and if you're not careful you might actually, occasionally, stumble across the truth.

Posted by scott at 09:56 AM | Comments (1)
Damned Skimpy!

Carrie (ha! Spelled it right this time!) gets an enlightened no-prize for bringing us Miss Liberty's Film & TV World, a website that shows even near-anarchic libertarians can still bicker about ideological purity. Hey, as long as it gets the message out!

Not to be missed: the latest trailer for the Parker & Stone production, Team America: World Police. Looks to be just as sharp as "Bigger and Uncut", only without the animated penises. We hope.

A libertarian site on film. Hmmm... now to get Joshua to read it very, very carefully.

Posted by scott at 08:25 AM | Comments (0)
August 24, 2004
Joshua's Gonna Have a Field Day with This One

Ron gets a no-prize with a diaper on it for bringing us news of the latest develpment in rash treatment:

Boudreaux has a serious product — marketing techniques aside — in a diaper rash ointment that he began mixing in his Covington pharmacy in the 1970s ... The product went nameless for several years until a woman took her baby, who had a bad diaper rash, to see Covington pediatrician Buddy Terral. Terral, the story goes, offered to write her a prescription.

“She said she was going down to George Boudreaux’s store and have him whip up some of that butt paste,” Boudreaux said.

The name stuck.

Well what the heck else are ya gonna call it? Let's hear it for good ol' American entrepenurialism and utter lack of tact! It's what makes this country great!

Posted by scott at 04:00 PM | Comments (2)
Seared I Tell You, Seared

Instapundit noted big media is so powerful they can actually distort time itself:

Lapham must have written those words in July. Didn't it occur to him that his readers might notice he was claiming to have witnessed an event that had not occurred when the magazine went to press?" Er, or when the magazine arrived in the mail . . .

Eugene Volokh: "Good thing that people still read the reliable, credible Real Media instead of those nasty inaccurate, un-fact-checked blogs."

As the insta-one would say, indeed...

Posted by scott at 03:26 PM | Comments (1)
Stupid Auction Tricks

I don't know, I guess it's because I've spent the last hour cleaning the spyware off someone else's computer, but I think "g00n's" auctions are more asinine than funny. Pretty much proves a pet theory I've had for years... a significant number of human males between the ages of 14 and ~ 25 are just chimpanzees with a driver's license.

Posted by scott at 02:17 PM | Comments (0)
I Can See My House from Here, Part II

Give it an address, any address, and it will give you a plane's-eye view. We had pictures of our house taken in 2002, and then of the area our house was in in 91. Even lets you move around, like a giant Yahoo map. Freaky!

Posted by scott at 12:59 PM | Comments (2)
Dating Disaster

While the headline of this Telegraph article ("Neanderthal Man 'never walked in northern Europe'") seems a bit of a non-sequitor, the text is still quite interesting:

Historians of the Stone Age fear that they will have to rip up their theories about Neanderthal Man after doubt has been cast on the carbon dating of skeletons by a leading German anthropologist.

It seems that a flamboyant German anthropologist got a bit, well, creative in his dating techniques:

Another apparent misdating involved an allegedly prehistoric skull discovered near Paderborn in 1976 and considered the oldest human remain ever found in the region. Prof von Zieten dated the skull at 27,400 years old. The latest research, however, indicates that it belonged to an elderly man who died around 1750.

Can you say "Piltdown man"? I knew you could...

Posted by scott at 11:59 AM | Comments (1)
Say it Ain't So, Joe

I used to think the early-90s SF Encyclopedia's "fortunately, the hinted-at three prequels have yet to be made" crack on Star Wars was mean. Then I saw them. Well guess what, looks like we might be inflicted with another set:

Now industry insiders are predicting the director will make the follow-ups, which pick up where 1983's Return of the Jedi left off, despite insisting he would never be lured into filming them.

Now, back when we were all lusting after a new set of Star Wars films (circa 1988 or so), rumors like this would float up about once or twice a year, so I'm definitely not holding my breath (or nose). I can only hope that Lucas just produces these next ones, and lets other people direct and help out in writing.

Posted by scott at 10:54 AM | Comments (3)
With Fish Like These...

Who needs sharks?

The 7-footer was one of five big gar Frank and his longtime buddy Johnny Pantoja shot with their bows and arrows during a midday "hunt" in a section of the Trinity where Frank has taken numerous monster gar in the past. The other gar they shot that day measured 6-3, 6-1, 5-9 and 5-8.

With most excellently weird picture!

I actually have a gar-related fish story... Back when I was a teenager, oh, say, about 13 or 14, dad took us down below the navigational dam near our house to fish. It's mostly "trash" fish down there... drum, carp, and the like, but it's easy fishing and it's fun. The tricky part was that (again as I recall) Jeff and I were both over the age where we would be covered by his fishing license, and he hadn't gotten around to getting us one yet.

"There's game wardens all over the place at the dam," he said to us as we drove out to the place, "so if any show up I want you two to shut the hell up and let me do the talking. No ratting your brother out, Jeff, and no trying to come up with some damned fool story, Scott. Understand? I do the talking, you two be quiet."

So we clambered down the gigantic sun-hot gray rocks the Corps of Engineers scattered on the lower banks like multi-ton packing popcorn and started casting. Sure enough, couldn't have been more than half an hour before two tall, smiling gentleman in olive-drab uniforms came up to have a chat with us. At that precise moment, almost as if on cue, my rod nearly bent double as something big latched onto it.

Now, the rule at our house was that mom's commands were a framework for negotiation, while dad's were dictation from on high. "Thou shalt not mess with me while talking to the law" was what I heard, and I knew better than to test it. So I slowly started to reel in what felt like a small nuclear submarine without so much as a peep. Jeff finally noticed the drag tracks appearing behind my shoes (I think I weighed 75, 85 pounds at that point) and came over, but again not a word was said to the grownups a few feet up the bank.

"What do you think it is?!?" Jeff whispered.

"Dont. Know." I hissed back through clenched teeth, "Big. Gar?"

Gar were cool. They looked like scaly torpedoes and had teeth like a picket fence from hell.

"It's not moving much... I think you've caught a log!" Which would be a major embarassment, which explained the gleeful tone in my brother's voice. And it wasn't moving... if it was my "Jr. Sportsman" reel would have come apart faster than a Kerry campaign idea.

Around about this time three things happened almost at once. One of the game wardens said, "hey there, I think your boy has something big.", dad came over and touched the rod to help me pull, and what was probably a five foot (memory says six, but I was only about 5'2 at the time) gar decided the funny poking thing he'd grabbed was not actually going to lead him to a big catfish. He snapped the line like it was spider silk and departed with a whooshing splash that soaked myself and my dad.

"Ha-ha! You're in trouble! Mom said if you got your new shoes wet you're dead!"

Posted by scott at 10:05 AM | Comments (1)
A Pyramid to the Future

Welcome to the world's most unlikely pyramid scheme: The Time Travel Fund, wherein a $5 investment is gauranteed to net you some 30 billion dollars in return.

As soon as they invent time travel, that is. No, really, time travel.

Posted by scott at 08:25 AM | Comments (0)
August 23, 2004
Not Just Second Children

Olivia's not close to 2 yet, and she can throw a tantrum that'd make Paris Hilton take notes. Likewise, we're not into our second child and we already do stuff like this:

After [he ate another bean out of the floor sweepings] I felt somewhat guilty, so I poked at Scotty with the broom when he returned yet a third time to the linoleum buffet. Eventually the prickly feel of the broomstraw on the tops of his feet was sufficient to drive him out of the room. I swept the pile up and tossed it outside.

Shhh... don't tell the grammas. They already think Olivia's just barely surviving. Which only proves that there's a second curse, not quite as well articulated...

One day, when you have grandchildren, you will act just like your mother does with you.

Grammas all over the world will nod sagely, but this is only because old people forget.

Posted by scott at 08:33 PM | Comments (1)
I Can See My House from Here

Slashdot linked up this nifty composite picture of the earth at night. Be sure to check out the high-rez version, it's definitely worth the wait!

Of note: the clear demarcation between North and South Korea, the fact that Iran is mostly darkness while Iraq is actually not, the comparative lack of light coming from Australia, the trace of the Siberian rail road, and the checkerboard pattern of "tornado alley" towns.

Posted by scott at 03:35 PM | Comments (1)
ScooterMan ScooterMan Where are You?

Now why hasn't someone thought of this before:

You go out in your own car and eat, drink and be merry to your heart's content. Then, you call ScooterMan (or make arrangements earlier in the evening). ScooterMan shows up on a small scooter, which he folds up into the trunk (or "boot" if you're British) of your car and drives you home in your own car. Once you and your car are safely home, ScooterMan retrieves his scooter from your trunk and scoots himself off into the night.

Well, now that I think about it there are probably a dozen different liability angles you'd have to take care of, especially in the US. Unfortunately the scooterGirl pictured is not part of the service.

Posted by scott at 02:13 PM | Comments (0)
When Otters Attack

No, really, when otters attack:

Police said Ethan Pederson emerged from the water with the otter hanging onto his back and legs. Lifeguards wrestled it off, but the animal ran in and out of the water several times, chasing after others in the class, police said.

Byline is Putnan Valley NY. I wonder how far that is from Orange County?

Posted by scott at 01:11 PM | Comments (0)
Guitar Heroine?

Premis: women cannot be guitar gods. Just don't have it in them.


Posted by scott at 12:17 PM | Comments (0)
Debuggers R Us

Ah, the joys of network administration. I'm one of those people who knows all about knowledgebases, usenet groups, hell I even have a bookshelf of reference materials I go to at times. I'm a phone tech guy's worst nightmare... not because I'm a moron, but because by the time I actually pick up a phone I've already tried all the easy stuff.

My problems are either me just not seeing something or they're flat-out bugs in the software systems I'm using. I don't mind a little patronizing from the phone guy for the former, simply because it usually takes about 5 minutes for them to shove my nose into the spot that's screwed up and we're done. It's the other type of problems that make my stomach knot up as I lift the phone, because I know I'll spend a half hour orienting the tech to my problem, a half our doing the crap I've already done, and then fifteen minutes of hemming and hawing until I get a (usually nice) "don't call us, we'll call you" before they hang up. Leaving me, of course, no better off than I was before.

Guess which type of problem I'm having today?

Posted by scott at 10:54 AM | Comments (0)
Popsicle Soldiers

Fark linked up this interesting story about the recent discovery of the bodies of three WWI soldiers in the Alps:

The preserved bodies of three Austrian soldiers killed in World War I had been found at the foot of an Italian glacier, 86 years after their deaths, a museum in northern Italy said today.

See? Sometimes global warming is a good thing! :)

Posted by scott at 08:16 AM | Comments (0)
August 22, 2004
Porn Star Tells Military 'Bullets, Not Boobs'

Personally, I think if you served your time in the Military and want a nip and tuck, hey why not. You deserve it.

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A group supporting natural breasts staged a small street protest in Hollywood on Wednesday against a U.S. military policy offering free breast implants to female soldiers.

The group, led by porn star and former California gubernatorial candidate Mary Carey, said the military should spend its money on "bullets, not boobs."

"I think girls should have natural boobs and natural beauty," Carey said after unveiling her own breasts in the protest at an Army recruiting office on Sunset Boulevard.

Carey, who wore green camouflage shorts and bikini top, assured all that her own breasts were real. ( See WHY her boobs are real. )

Read entire article here.

Kick Ass Pictures owner Mark Kulkis, has issued an open letter, via email, to the media in which he insists that Carey's breast are real. Along with the email, he included photos that Kulkis suggests prove that her breasts are natural, because they "show a little natural sag." ( A LITTLE natural sag!?! Do your boobs hang low, do they wobble two and fro...)

Posted by Ellen at 04:07 PM | Comments (3)
Am I supposed to Feel Sorry for This F Nut?

You get what you deserve. He is lucky thats all they did to him.

AUGUST 18--An apparent peeping Tom was sexually assaulted with a tree branch after being discovered peering into the bedroom window of a five-year-old Ohio girl. The 44-year-old male victim was viciously beaten by a group of six attackers, including the child's mother, 28-year-old Stacy Umstott.

Read entire article, with pictures, here.

Posted by Ellen at 01:02 PM | Comments (1)
Another Reason To Hate Them

Yes, Virginia, they are still a bunch of savages.

On Sunday, August 15, a 16-year-old girl in the town of Neka, northern Iran, was executed. Ateqeh Sahaleh was hanged in public on Simetry Street off Rah Ahan Street at the city center.

The judge personally pursued Ateqeh’s death sentence, beyond all normal procedures and finally gained the approval of the Supreme Court. After her execution Rezai said her punishment was not execution but he had her executed for her “sharp tongue”.

Read entire asinine article here.

Focus on the REAL problem people! Maybe then you will come out of the stone age.

Posted by Ellen at 12:53 PM | Comments (3)
A "Voice" of Reason?

Hey, isn't the Village Voice supposed to be a center-left rag? If so, this is doubly interesting:

Senator John Kerry, a decorated battle veteran, was courageous as a navy lieutenant in the Vietnam War. But he was not so courageous more than two decades later, when he covered up voluminous evidence that a significant number of live American prisoners—perhaps hundreds—were never acknowledged or returned after the war-ending treaty was signed in January 1973.

A nice change from the "Kerry in Cambodia" stuff. Well, if you're a Bush supporter anyway.

Now, some in the peanut gallery seem to expect me to go digging around to find evidence that this is an obvious lie... you know, to avoid that terrible "Rhetoric" charge. To which I can only say it ain't my job to do something for free that newspapers pay people to do full time. If you have or find proof to the contrary, link it, that's what the comments are for. If you don't...

Posted by scott at 12:07 PM | Comments (3)
Pieces Parts

One of my car digests noted yet another sign we are all living science fiction: E-machine, the first company (that I know of) that makes all those hyper-fancy computer-controlled machine tools available to just about anyone. All you need to do is create what you want in their (supposedly) easy-to-use software, send it to them (with a check, of course), and a few weeks later your part arrives.

Alfa Romeo is world-famous for requiring a whole chest of custom tools to do any real work. They are, of course, no longer available, but maybe with this service and the right plans...

Posted by scott at 11:40 AM | Comments (3)
August 21, 2004
New Tank

After a few days of not having Oscar anymore and just his tank buddies, I felt it was time to go out and get some new fish. Going back to the goldfish.

Scott: "Oh god! Please tell me you bought NORMAL goldfish this time."

Ellen: "Define NORMAL."

Scott: "Ones that don't swim upside down for 3 years. That was not normal."

Ellen: "Yes it was, they just had character."

Scott: "Character is a funny set of spots, or swimming through a hoop. Character is not playing 'who can imitate an empty beer can?' the longest."

So I bought goldfish anyway. Ones that will develop "character". I mean, the cool kind, not the dead beer can kind. I hope.

I settled on 2 small lionhead orandas, and 2 veiltail orandas. Cute, spunky, small to start, and with all the fishy personality you could want. Which is to say they wiggle and swim like, well, other fish. Only weirder.

Then I saw him. My new nasty. My Weather Loach. I knew instantly I had to have this eel-like bad boy. My mother was cringing in the car because she had to have the fish on her lap for the trip back from the shop.

Mom: "UUUGGHH!!! It keeps jumping up in the bag! It wants out!" ("uugh... it keeps jumpin in tha bayag... it wants owt!"-- Scott)

Me: "Ma, you know it looks like a snake right? Well more like an eel."

Mom: "WHY did you get this thing!?"

Me: "I needed a bottom feeder?" *eViL GrIn*

Needless to say, my tank is well established and everyone's settled well into their new home. The oscar feeder fish are happy they have a colony they can call their own, instead of a godzilla fish that just happened to be too old to turn them into lunch. Plus, I have an active loach that does not want to hide under a rock, but explore his new tank.

Now all we have to do is keep Ajax from stalking the tank. Last time we had small fish he knocked the tank seams loose!

Posted by Ellen at 08:30 PM | Comments (1)
Headless Victim of Shark Attack Found in N. Calif.

Avila Beach, UKIAH - The Coast Guard on Monday recovered the headless body of a diver who was killed Sunday by a shark off the Mendocino County coast.

A friend who witnessed Sunday's attack on Randy Fry estimated the shark to be between 16 and 18 feet long.

"It was over in five seconds," said Red Bartley of Modesto, a friend of the victim's, who witnessed the fatal encounter from a boat.

Read entire article here.
Posted by Ellen at 04:45 PM | Comments (0)
Lion Vs. Man

When they tell you not to get out of the truck, don't.

Posted by Ellen at 04:41 PM | Comments (2)
August 20, 2004
How to Collect Ellen's Life Insurance Policy in 4 Easy Steps

  1. Make the toilet slosh water all by itself.
  2. Make the toilet do it again.
  3. Get her to open the lid
  4. Profit:

[LuAnn] Crim was in the bathroom at her home in Perrinton, north of St. Johns. She had just combed her hair, applied a dab of lipstick and was adding a little eye makeup, when the water in a nearby toilet sloshed ... "I looked in there," Crim wrote, "just as a very wet, bedraggled, dark-colored ANIMAL swam up out of the toilet trap and scrambled to get out."

Via Silflay.

Posted by scott at 03:21 PM | Comments (1)
Olivia's Next Birthday Present!

Hey, gotta start 'em out early:

Up for grabs is 1 very clean race ready bandolero ... it was never crashed bad or flipped ,car has been raced at Atlanta , 5th in pts in 2002,7th at bando nationals 2002 ,4th in pts 2003 ... the car is set up for a small driver 8-13 yr old

How cool is that? :)

Posted by scott at 03:09 PM | Comments (1)
Talking Up Numbers

Politics is boring. Science is cool:

Language may shape human thought – suggests a counting study in a Brazilian tribe whose language does not define numbers above two.

Hunter-gatherers from the Pirahă tribe, whose language only contains words for the numbers one and two, were unable to reliably tell the difference between four objects placed in a row and five in the same configuration, revealed the study.

All of humanity was probably like this until the advent of agriculture, when it started to really matter how many was in a "many".

Posted by scott at 02:15 PM | Comments (0)
One Time, at Psychic Camp...

The name sorta says it all... Psychic Kids Summer Camp:

Of, By and For psychic, spiritually-awakened, profoundly aware, clairvoyant, clairsentient, multi-sensory, multi-dimensional young people, and for all people remembering their natural birthright. sometimes labeled Psychic, Star Kids, Crystal, Blue Ray, Mystical, Indigo Children.

My kid is smart enough, she doesn't need any more help figuring out what makes Daddy tick. And if I end up on their mailing list, there's a certain Rev. Heathen who'll have some 'splainin to do.

Posted by scott at 01:01 PM | Comments (8)
When Doctrine Attacks

Jeff and Sherri get to split a no-prize for both sending us this story of an unfortunate confluence of politics, doctrine, and biology:

An 8-year-old girl who suffers from a rare digestive disorder and cannot eat wheat has had her first Holy Communion declared invalid because the wafer contained no wheat, violating Roman Catholic doctrine.

It's the mother's politics I first disagree with, because I can't help but think that an extremely small amount of glutin (contained in special wafers mentioned in the article) in what is after all an extremely small serving would not be life-threatening. But again, it's not my child, and I do not in fact know much about this disease. Maybe it's like a peanut allergy?

The diocese needs to get a better PR flack and a more flexible bishop... there's bound to be a compromise of some sort in there somewhere. This got out of hand a lot faster than it should have. But, of course, it may be that mom said "my way or the highway", which is not the most productive way to motivate a senior member of the heirarchy.

Posted by scott at 12:06 PM | Comments (1)
Frogger Down

No-pasaran linked up this NY Times article detailing a new movement in France:

Finally, instead of dissembling behind ambiguous notions of Gallic joie de vivre, someone in this leisurely land has declared outright that the French should eschew the Anglo-Saxon work ethic and openly embrace sloth.

The country openly touting itself as an alternative to the "cruel" market-driven system of the US is slowly rusting solid like the tin man caught in a rain storm. This is the logical conclusion of technocratic "fairness" policies of all sorts so often advocated by the left.

I think government should be used only where absolutely nothing else will work. Far too many of you out there seem to think it should be used wherever possible. Welcome to France!

Posted by scott at 09:54 AM | Comments (1)
News We Can Use

A politician is in trouble. Scrappleface is there:

Senator Edward M. Kennedy, D-MA, does not pose an immediate threat to the security of the American homeland and he should be allowed to board commercial airliners, according to a statement from Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge.
Mr. Ridge added that, "although the Senator and his party seek the overthrow of the current administration and preach a radical doctrine that would decimate the American economy, we have no hard evidence that he's linked directly to any foreign groups that would celebrate those outcomes."

It's got that great ranty edge, perfect for those times when you have to succumb to Stereotypical Rhetoric. Whee!

Posted by scott at 08:45 AM | Comments (0)
When Wrecks Attack

Fark linked up this story of a real disaster waiting to happen:

Small signs attached to the masts [of the SS Richard Montgomery] inform those who sail by on the Thames estuary: "Danger: unexploded ammunition." There are 3,172 tonnes of high explosive in the forward holds.

And for a look at what such a thing might be like, we have the Halifax explosion of 1917:

The Mont Blanc drifted by a Halifax pier, brushing it and setting it ablaze. Members of the Halifax Fire Department responded quickly, and were positioning their engine up to the nearest hydrant when the Mont Blanc disintegrated in a blinding white flash, creating the biggest man-made explosion before the nuclear age. It was 9:05am.

If they figure out a way to blow up that wreck on purpose, I'm buying a ticket to England.

Posted by scott at 08:04 AM | Comments (2)
August 19, 2004
The Ultimate Geek

NO, Scott, you can't have one.

Posted by Ellen at 08:22 PM | Comments (2)
And the Press Goes, "Spin Spin Spin"

Instapundit links up a nice roundup of the reaction to the "but this guy, this guy was lying!!!" that the recent WaPo article unleashed:

Something I said there that bears repeating -- the reason why the Christmas-in-Cambodia story is getting the media cold-shoulder, and why what SwiftVet coverage there is focuses on the medals, etc., is that the Christmas-in-Cambodia story is clear, and has already been proven false. It's easy to understand, and devastating for Kerry.

The medal stuff is complex, and can be spun in a way that makes people's eyes glaze over. So that's what we'll mostly get, along with "political" stories that will treat the SwiftVets stuff as partisan hackery in a way that Michael Moore never gets treated by the same outlets.

Ok, three time's the charm... I don't think any of it is important in and of itself. What I do think is absolutely scandalous is that the mainstream media just flat ignored one "screwed up memory" story and jumped on a different one like a drunken sorority girl on the star quarterback.

The difference? One of the stories was pushed by a candidate for the presidency, the other by someone who's not even tangental to running, let alone making their service record a central point of their qualifications. Tell me friends, which story is really more important?

Feh. Why bother. All I do is rouse rabble, no better than those I criticise. What the hell do I know...

Doesn't make me any less right.

Posted by scott at 07:31 PM | Comments (0)
Took me a Damned Long Time to Get it, but...

Captain Howdy gets a stout but well-lubed no-prize for bringing this most interesting Brazillian ad for... umm... "personal lubricant". Ok, go look, then read the comments. Get it?

Ok, hint time... do you think they moved that pylon before she sat down?

Posted by scott at 07:11 PM | Comments (2)

The Hall of Technical Documentation Weirdness. Proof positive that even technical illustrators can have a sense of humor. At least, I hope some of these guys were kidding.

Posted by scott at 03:38 PM | Comments (0)
The Kid's All Right

Fark (of all places) linked up a note that the world's smallest surviving baby just entered high school:

Madeline Mann once weighed less than a can of soda as the tiniest surviving newborn known to medicine.

Next week, she enters her suburban high school as something even more extraordinary -- an honor student who plays violin and likes to Rollerblade.

See? Sometimes it does work out!

Posted by scott at 02:14 PM | Comments (0)
He Certainly Gets Points for Originality

Joshua gets a cross-shaped no-prize with a black belt around it for bringing the Ki Sanctuary to our attention:

This site is here to help martial artists and energy practioners alike to become more open-minded and fulfilled individuals by introducing not just qi, but psi and any other related topics in a clear-cut fashion, that is both understandable and practical.

Well, I guess everyone's got to have a hobby.

Posted by scott at 01:12 PM | Comments (0)
And the Candidate goes "Flip Flop" II (or, Yet More Stereotypical Rhetoric)

Steve Gigl linked up one of the more startling (and quick) flips of the opposition candidate:

“I will have significant, enormous reductions in the level of troops …In the Korean peninsula perhaps, in Europe perhaps.”—John Kerry, August 1, 2004.

“Why are we withdrawing unilaterally 12,000 troops from the Korean peninsula at the very time that we are negotiating with North Korea, a country that really has nuclear weapons. This is clearly the wrong signal to send at the wrong time.”—John Kerry, August 18, 2004.

If this is out of context or a misquote, I'm expecting the peanut gallery to go dig up some proof. Otherwise I'm going to start saying it's a stereotype because he has a pair of flip-flops.

Posted by scott at 12:09 PM | Comments (4)
Brings a Whole New Meaning to "Giant Sucking Sound"

Oil prospecting seems simple enough... find a likely spot, drill a hole, and see if there's any oil down there. I mean, what could possibly go wrong?

The crew suspected that the drilling rig was collapsing under their feet ... The water of Lake Peigneur slowly started to turn, eventually forming a giant whirlpool. A large crater developed in the bottom of the lake. It was like someone pulled the stopper out of the bottom of a giant bathtub.

The whole thing reads like something out of a disaster movie. It fairly screams for CGI special effects. I guess the reason we haven't heard more about this event is because nobody got killed.

Posted by scott at 10:58 AM | Comments (3)
Insert Beer Ad Joke Here

Jeff gets a beery no-prize for bringing us news that even bears have good taste:

A black bear was found passed out at a campground in Washington state recently after guzzling down three dozen cans of a local beer, a campground worker said on Wednesday.
He tried a mass-market Busch beer, but switched to Rainier Beer, a local ale, and stuck with it for his drinking binge.

Damned clever, these American bears...

Posted by scott at 09:07 AM | Comments (0)
"Spooky" Teleportation

BBCnews is carrying this article detailing a new experiement in "quantum teleportation". For the first time, scientists were able to use the effect to transmit information across a great distance in "real-world" conditions. Go read the article. If it doesn't make your head hurt, you're not paying attention.

This is "the next big thing" folks. When it was first proven you could transmit information using this technique Scientific American editorialized that computers would "experience a signficant discontinuity in peformance increase", which is geek speak for "they'll go from being fast to being really f-ing fast". Should such systems become a reality (so far nothing says they can't), it will almost certainly be possible to have the computing power of one of those CGI "render farms" stuffed into something the size of an iPod. With room to spare.

Via Daffodil Lane.

Posted by scott at 08:07 AM | Comments (6)
August 18, 2004
Like Regular Mannequins Aren't Freaky Enough

I don't know, maybe it was too many 70s scary movies, but store mannequins freak me out. I keep waiting for one to grab me by the shoulder. Lord knows what I'd do if they were actual sculptures (site is safe for work).

Still, an interesting look at just how these things are made. Lord only knows how much they cost.

Posted by scott at 03:50 PM | Comments (1)
~ Fly With Me, Into the Future ~ is carrying this summary of recent initiatives in the private aviation field. The first is an update on the evergreen "flying car" idea, which will (IMO) never work en-masse. We have 40,000-odd people die on our highways each year, and they're only flying a few inches off the ground. On tires. Can you imagine ten thousand of your fellow commuters rocketing along at 200+ mph 5,000 feet off the ground? Carnage wouldn't even approach it.

The second is much more promising... an effort to use technology to make small private airports safer, private planes easier to fly, and better integrate them into the larger air traffic picture. Aviation Week has covered some of this stuff before... the thing I think sounds most exciting is HUD technology and "synthetic views". The first puts everything your airplane is doing along with navigation cues and such on the windscreen in front of you. The second uses various sensors to actually create a view of the outside world unobscured by weather or darkness.

Nifty stuff!

Posted by scott at 02:55 PM | Comments (0)
Paging Indiana Jones, White Courtesy Phone Please

Kerry Carrie (gah! Never post and code at the same time) gets a vine-covered no-prize for bringing us news of a new "lost city" discovery in Peru:

The stone city, made up of five citadels at 9,186 feet above sea level, stretches over around 39 square miles and contains walls covered in carvings and figure paintings, exploration leader Sean Savoy told Reuters.

Apparently it was created by the "Chachapoyas" culture, which is thought to have been conquered by the Incas before the Spanish arrived.

Posted by scott at 01:52 PM | Comments (1)
Birthday Girl

As Ellen's mom is wont to say (in a Fran Drescher accent) "Tuhdayy, twentee-[censored] goes owt of ya bahdy, and twentee-[censored] goes in." Happy birthday to my sweetie:

It's cheesy to say,
But like fine wine in a way,
You get better and better each year!

Ha! I should go work for a greeting card company! Happy birthday sweetie!

Posted by scott at 12:41 PM | Comments (5)
What not to Wear

Liz gets a... well, a no-prize, for bringing us this picture of a model who should've worn boxers the day he was modeling his new bondage-wear. Picture is safe for work, but probably not for eyes.

Posted by scott at 11:05 AM | Comments (0)
Enviroweenies to World: Sky to Fall by 2025

Well, contrary to previous predictions, we haven't run out of metals, haven't run out of oil, and haven't run out of food. So, let's all start worrying we might run out of water:

World water supplies will not be enough for our descendants to enjoy the sort of diet the West eats now, experts say.

Which is, as with all other environmental apocalypse predictions, complete and utter crap. In a world run by markets, as water for various uses becomes more scarce its price will rise, forcing its users to become more efficient or stop using it entirely. By allowing producers to keep more of their profits through reduced taxation and better manage their risks through properly-regulated futures markets, strong incentives will be created for water consumers to use technology and knowledge to come up with innovations that will reduce consumption by orders of magnitude. In the end, water will, like all the other commodities the chicken-little enviroweenies have latched onto during the past forty years, get cheaper.

In a perfect world, that is, which we of course do not live in. Because, you see, western agribusiness is not run by markets, it's run by government subsidies and various regulatory protection rackets. This removes market pressures from farming, causing it to be far less efficient than it otherwise would be. The US isn't as bad as some countries (Japan is probably the worst), but to this day we pay billions of dollars more for our food than we should.

But you won't hear Greenpeace start advocating the removal of farm subsidies. Not sexy enough, doesn't blame enough white people. Even if they did, our bucolic illusion of farmer Ted and his six kids having to sell his tiny family farm because of... well... we never actually get to the reasons, do we? We just see those little kids, some has-been rockers hold a few concerts, and away goes our tax money, straight into the coffers of gigantic and politically powerful farming corporations. Corporations that now have no reason to innovate or become more efficient, because we are all guaranteeing their bottom line.

We'll still manage to muddle through, because (to the great disappointment of technocrats all over the world) a commodity's supply cannot be increased by legislative fiat. Eventually the cost will rise beyond the point it can be hidden by even government accountants. Democracies around the world will play the politician shuffle until they get a set willing to do what needs to be done*, while socialists (*cough* France *cough*) and dictatorships will face yet another economic collapse.

It won't be pretty, but it won't be the end of the world either.

* And lose their jobs for it immediately. I mean, those guys will be responsible for killing the family farm!

Nobody said democracies were rational, just that they work. Eventually.

Posted by scott at 09:56 AM | Comments (1)
Adware Inferno

Slashdot linked up this C|net article that does a nice job of summarizing my most recent nemesis: adware (and its kissing cousin, spyware). Three years ago I knew what the stuff was, but hadn't needed to deal with it. Today I've probably got three or four computers on the network that have been nearly ruined by the stuff.

Posted by scott at 08:24 AM | Comments (0)

Oscar died during then night. We knew he wasn't feeling well the past few weeks and nothing we did seemed to help.

So I have him in the freezer right now in several baggies and when I get home tonight I'll bury him in my front garden. :(

So much for a start of a good Birthday.

Posted by Ellen at 06:42 AM | Comments (10)
August 17, 2004
Steel Girls

This site is so funny I peed myself.

Don't forget to check out the *scientific experiments* such as Colon Blow and The Carrot Project.


Posted by Ellen at 09:28 PM | Comments (1)
~ I Want to Ride My Bicycle ~

While digging around to see if auto gear lube would substitute for "real" bike chain lube (it doesn't), I stumbled across this nifty bike guide for bikers who want to cruise around Manhattan. While I don't particularly feel like riding my Giant "downtown" (yet), the tips are still valid for anyone who regularly rides any streets. Plus, the whole thing is well written with a nice sense of humor.

Posted by scott at 08:08 PM | Comments (0)
A Problem We All Should Have?

Has there ever been an activity performed between consenting adults that some busybody hasn't tried to make illegal:

Councillors from the mountainous Welsh county of Gwynedd said many limousine hire companies were providing the erotic dancers as entertainment for clients, but in-car striptease was an "inappropriate" activity.

Just how big is Gwynedd anyway? How much of a problem can it be?

Posted by scott at 03:43 PM | Comments (1)
It's Called a Price War, and It is Very Good

Slashdot linked up news of the first shot in what may turn out to be a full-blown price war:

On Monday, [Real Networks] said it would temporarily slash its price for song downloads to 49 cents — 50 cents less than iTunes.

Yes, temporarily, but still, it's movement. And the crack at the end about "losing money"? Not if Real has cut some sort of deal with the labels. I do so love markets...

Posted by scott at 02:49 PM | Comments (5)
Can You Say "Ick"? I Knew You Could

Two words: nasal cream.

A new pollen-blocking cream applied to the inside of the nose may alleviate hayfever without the side-effects of other remedies, suggests a new study.
Those taking part in the trial applied either the cream or the placebo four times a day for nine days.

I've suffered through two colds because I couldn't stand to swab... grr, can't think of the name... that "anti-cold-stuff"... in my nose. I think I'll just sneeze instead.

Posted by scott at 01:49 PM | Comments (2)
I'll Call it "The Homer Simpson Strategy"

Unprofessional? Probably. Effective? Probably not. Clever and deeply satisfying? Definitely:

Israel declared psychological war on hunger-striking Palestinian prisoners today, saying it would barbecue meat outside their cells to try to break their spirit.

Via Misha

Posted by scott at 01:00 PM | Comments (0)
Blair Witch Bath Toy

Dang. To think all this time all we needed to sell baby toys on ebay was to make up a cool story:

It was at this point our son noticed the other toys in the tub changing shape, distorting and losing their color into the water. He didn't understand what was happening but he knew something wasn't right, he also noticed that Yella was eerily positioned at the end of the tub, dead center and facing him directly. He also noticed the ducks shape hadn’t changed and his color appeared to be as bright as ever.

Because it's an auction link, and this is just too weird to let go, I've included the entire description below.

This is a crazy story that I wouldn't have believed had it not happened to me. I am not prone or drawn to the supernatural, and in fact I have a strong Christian support system, but what I experienced has no other explanation than the unexplained. This is a true story about a Rubber Ducky. I don't feel that in good conscience I can keep this thing in my house, it wouldn't be fair to my family and frankly I've lost enough sleep over it as it is. I spoke at length with my Pastor and together we came up with the idea to sell it with full disclosure, any other method and we would risk the Duck falling into unsuspecting hands. We knew that the only way to get rid of him without personal condemnation was to be open, honest and forthright. We knew the person getting the duck would have to know the whole story and accept the consequences freely. We felt the only way to do this was to be sure the story would be read, understood and accepted.

So here it is. My son, now 2, received this rubber ducky as a gift from an Aunt when he was approximately 10 or 11 months old. He was very enthusiastic about his bath time and loved the new addition to the tub. He named the duck "Yella", his personal pronunciation of Yellow and of course the color of the duck. Now as with most kids their tastes change and can be at times fickle, in fact suggesting that all kids have some level of ADD would not be a stretch. Soon Yella had lost some of his appeal in the eyes of my son, he requested the ducks company less and less as time wore on, until such a time where Yella was all but forgotten. We originally thought nothing of it, then as time went on my son began to speak more and was able to articulate his thoughts he started referring more and more to his old friend Yella. The problem was that it wasn’t in a positive or childish manner. In fact it was really quite disturbing, he repeatedly made reference to fights he and Yella had, and a subsequent scar inflicted on the left side of the ducks head. At first we just figured he had an active imagination and that eventually he would forget about Yella, but he never did. In fact each time he told the story he did it with more detail and more emotion until his Mother and I finally forbid him from telling the story at all. In fact my wife was so distressed she searched out the duck and vowed to dispose of it. At this point our son had an unnerving attachment to Yella, he would never let the duck out of his sight. He was never affectionate towards the duck, he just insisted that the toy always be around no matter what. He was about a year and half by now and there was certainly no bargaining with him, every time we tried to take the toy our son would lose it, literally crying bloody murder. Needless to say there was no way of coaxing the duck away and despite our best efforts the stories continued. We hoped and prayed that his obsession with Yella would pass with time, we even found ourselves spoiling him in an effort to replace the duck. It was useless.

One night our Son and Yella were having a bath together with several of the other bath toys collected over the course of the previous year, there was a boat, a whale, a starfish, a small action figure and some miscellaneous plastic tools. Our Son's overall interest in Yella had dwindled to the point of sheer indifference. In fact if he had his way the duck wouldn't have even been in the tub, instead it was because of his Mother's lapse in judgement that Yella was included at all. He went about playing and splashing with his other toys, all the while ignoring the duck, intentionally or not. It was at this point our son noticed the other toys in the tub changing shape, distorting and losing their color into the water. He didn't understand what was happening but he knew something wasn't right, he also noticed that Yella was eerily positioned at the end of the tub, dead center and facing him directly. He also noticed the ducks shape hadn’t changed and his color appeared to be as bright as ever. It seemed as though the toys were melting before him. It was at this point that he reached out to grab the duck, almost mesmerized by his yellow body. As he grabbed the duck he felt a piercing pain in the palm of his hand and immediately threw the toy back into the water, he was sure he had been bitten. Anger flooded our son and again he grabbed at Yella and this time he wasted no time in throwing the duck across the room. The duck crashed against the raised corner of the toilet paper holder, bounced off the wall and came to rest at my feet as I now stood in the doorway of the bathroom. By now my wife was aware of our son's rage and the events taking place, she threw down her magazine, jumped off her stool and lunged across the washroom toward our son. She scooped him up into her arms. My wife and I looked at each other as we tried desperately to process the evidence before us, all the while our little one cried and shouted at the Rubber Ducky on the floor.

As I mentioned before, if it had not happened to us I would've never given it a second thought and I certainly would have dismissed the author as a quack and the story as a farce. We immediately checked the temperature of the water, it was luke warm. We searched the bathroom high and low for chemicals or agents which may have caused this reaction in the toys, nothing was found. Our son was not burned and with the exception of a small cut on the palm of his hand, there was no sign of injury. Being cautious we packed our son in the car and headed for the emergency room, as expected nothing was found to be abnormal. We then rushed to the home of our Pastor, We've never been fanatical with respect to our religious beliefs, but we felt like there was something unholy and unexplainable hear that needed to be addressed. Our Pastor assured us there had to be an earthly explanation, but at the same time he had an unsettled look that left us feeling doubtful. We left and headed home, exhausted and anxious to put this night behind us. At home we rushed upstairs to our sons room, got him into his pajammas and said our good night prayers. Our son seemed distant and agitated but soon relented to his own exhaustion. My wife and I returned downstairs to the main floor bathroom and the scene of this evenings event. Everything was as we left it, with one exception, Yella was back in the tub, dead center and facing us directly. We looked at each other in the hope the other would appear calm and composed, it didn't happen, instead we starred at each other waiting for an acknowledgement of who had put the duck back in the tub. That didn't happen either. I immediately grabbed up the duck and without hesitation placed him in the closest container I could find, a Tupperware style container on the counter in the kitchen. I then stormed out the garage and tossed the container on the workbench while I headed back in the house to try and comprehend what had just happened. It was at this point I picked up the phone and called our Pastor and how we find ourselves in the position we are in today.

I can't explain what happened, and the sooner I can put the events of that night and this duck behind me, the better off I'll be.

I will not be responsible for the duck after shipping, I will not field questions or help to explain its unusual mystique. I want nothing to do with it. The winning bidder must understand this. I don't want someone to find this thing in a Dumpster or buy it at a garage sale, I want the person who gets it to understand what they have and not to take it lightly, and for Gods sake I don't want it near children. I'd be just as happy if you buried it in the Tupperware container it's still in.

I hope you can respect my wishes.

This is the story from the original listing. I myself, a headstrong idiot, bought it from a third party. This duck is truly inhabited by the devil himself. I cannot live with it. The OUjia board that was in my house kept setting itself up at night. I threw it outside went to bed, and woke up the nest morning. The board was sitting on the table, set and on the word YES. The next morning, after i had decided not to touch the board, i was skipping through channels. As i skipped quickly words from ramdom tv shows begain to form a word. The word i could of swore i heard was Lucifer. This story is true to what i have told you. I do not know about the outer-world, but what i have seen and experienced is true. The picture i have listed was a picture i took with my child. I did not know this was the duck until my wife told me. The next morning there was a burn mark on my childs hand. I cannot, aloow this to be in my house any longer.

Posted by scott at 11:58 AM | Comments (6)
Calling All Cars

Want to listen in on Police or Fire Department broadcasts but don't have a scanner? Never fear, is here. Dozens of them, even. From the list, it doesn't look like there are any digital systems, but it should give you a nice preview of what it would be like to own a scanner.

Posted by scott at 10:26 AM | Comments (0)
Deep Plants

BBCnews is carrying this article detailing the discovery of plant material in recent Antartctic ice cores. Found more than two miles down, scientists think the material could be several million years old.

Sometimes science is just so damned cool.

Posted by scott at 09:23 AM | Comments (1)
Finally, a Reason to get a Costco Card

Well, At least I know where mom's casket is coming from now:

On Monday, Costco Wholesale Corp., better known for bulk chicken and cases of soda, started test marketing caskets along side mattresses at a North Side Chicago store and one in suburban Oak Brook.

Too bad Sam's isn't following suit, or she'd probably buy it herself. And then, of course, stuff it full of Beanie Babies and forget where she put it. Heh.

Posted by scott at 08:10 AM | Comments (1)
August 16, 2004
And the Bees Go "Buzz Buzz"

Jeff gets his second no-prize of the day for bringing us this abject lesson in why you shouldn't mess with bees:

Kids throwing rocks stirred up more trouble than they bargained for when they dislodged a swarm of bees from an enormous hive built in the wall of a Southern California apartment building, authorities said on Friday.
The quarter-ton honeycomb, which may have accumulated inside the apartment wall for years, was so big it was threatening the structural integrity of the two-story building.

Where's Pooh Bear when you need him?

Posted by scott at 04:08 PM | Comments (0)
Space Race

Kerry supporters who think the space program is important should find this article interesting:

Kerry voted seven times, between 1991 and 1996, to either cancel the space station or to massively cut NASA funding in general. Kerry justified the last vote, to kill the station in 1996, as a means to reduce the deficit. “The Federal budget deficit…is still too high and must be eliminated.” he said on the Senate floor. But then in the same speech, he also supported eliminating the space station in order to pay for other programs. “We cannot spend nearly $100 billion of the taxpayers money to fund the space station and then say that we do not have enough money to put cops on the beat, clean our environment, and ensure that our children get the best education possible.”

Oh, I expect Mr. "Flip-flops aren't just for the feet" Kerry will have changed his tune on the campaign trail, but records do have a habit of speaking for themselves. Not that it'll matter to most of you, because we all know it's far more important to get rid of Bush than it is to pay attention to what his replacement might actually do, right? Just checking...

Posted by scott at 03:38 PM | Comments (3)
Insert Silver Platter Joke Here

Jeff gets a no-prize in a cave for bringing us this summary of a new archeological find in Israel:

Archaeologists said Monday they have found a cave where they believe John the Baptist anointed many of his disciples - a huge cistern with 28 steps leading to an underground pool of water.

Which is a little misleading, because not all the archeologists working on the site think the evidence indicates such a conclusion. Certainly what is presented in the article is pretty circumstantial.

Hints in Luke's two books (the Gospel and Acts) seem to indicate that John's movement was both separate from and competitive with Jesus's, and that John's movement continued for some time after Jesus's crucifixion. But hints are all we have at the moment about a man and a movement that had a murky but no less unusual relationship with Jesus and the early church. If this find provides more than that, potentially much more, it could still be very important, even if John himself never set foot in the place.

Posted by scott at 02:57 PM | Comments (0)
"Easy" Being a Relative Term

Excerpted from the manual of my latest toy, a new firewall appliance:

An easy way to visualize how security zones work is to imagine a large new building, with several rooms inside the building, and a group of new employees that do not know their way around the building. This building has one or more exits, which can be thought of as the WAN interfaces. The rooms within the building have one or more doors, which can be thought of as interfaces. These rooms can be thought of as zones inside each room are a number of people. The people are categorized and assigned to separate rooms within the building. People in each room going to another room or leaving the building, must talk to a doorperson on the way out of each room. This doorperson is the inter-zone/intra-zone security policy, and the doorperson’s job to consult a list and make sure that the person is allowed to go to the other room, or to leave the building. If the person is allowed (i.e. the security policy lets them), they can leave the room via the door (the interface).

I'm sure I'll get several "well duh, of course it's that easy. Any moron would see the analogy." But that's only because you're all a lot smarter than I am. Me? My eyes glazed over and I started visualizing going after all these people with a rocket launcher.

No, as a matter of fact I don't think staying up till midnight playing Doom has anything to do with this urge. Why do you?

Posted by scott at 02:09 PM | Comments (1)
More Traction Attacking

The New England Republican has this startling comparison of the way "major event" status was bequeathed to the Bush AWOL controversy versus the "non event" status that has allowed most major media outlets to ignore the Kerry/Cambodia controversy.

Again, interesting not because of the content of the controversies, but rather in the way the media did handle/is handling them. By including a detailed transcripts, we are reminded of something the political press corps has, with its characteristic starving-weasel-like institutional memory, forgotten. They went after Bush, I mean flat went after him, over this. We're talking a feeding frenzy the likes of which had not been seen since The Dress turned out to be for real.

When the whole Kerry-Cambodia thing broke, which I must again point out I personally take about as seriously as an episode of Bear in the Big Blue House*, I fully expected the press corps to leap out great-white-like at this new hanging bag of political chum. Anyone who remembers the roasting Clinton received each time a new bimbo detonated on the news-cycle horizon would expect nothing less.

Their silence today is as telling as it is scandalous.

Oh, I'm sorry, I forgot... it's Fox News that's the real enemy. I mean, they don't even try to hide their agenda! The nerve!

* "Weekdays, Children. The gang learns a valuable lesson when Tutter claims to have helped Treelo across a stream; Bear discovers Tutter was actually assigned to a routine patrol of the Mekong Delta at the time."

Posted by scott at 01:31 PM | Comments (1)
Good Thing We're Going to the Grocery Store Today

Pumpkin seeds... a female viagra?:

The morning after Dr Gillian McKeith revealed on a TV nutrition program their apparently amazing potential for increasing libido, thousands of women apparently scoured supermarkets to put the rumpy pumpkin theory to the test and virtually cleared out stocks across the country.

Author gets a gold star for coming up with "rumpy pumpkin" in my opinion.

The purveyors of the conventional wisdom rolled their eyes when Viagra blossomed onto the scene. Of course men would want something like that. They're all pigs and serial rapists! Now all these women who were looking forward to quiet retirements with their now phallically de-fanged husbands would have to wait until the old farts were dead before getting any peace.

I wonder how they'll cope when the first for-real female viagra pill hits the market and detonates across the sexual landscape, blasting mirror image little-pink-pills hither and yon? The spam opportunities alone stagger the mind.

Posted by scott at 11:55 AM | Comments (1)
Well, I know Where Damion's Going to go Furniture Shopping Now

For the goth in all of us: From coffee (coffin?) tables to stereo speakers, if you can shape it like a casket it's there waiting for you. Includes kits, plans, even a whole line of items for pets. Visit today!

Posted by scott at 10:08 AM | Comments (0)
Cicada Science

Washington Post (free reg, blah blah) today carried this article wrapping up the various science programs that have kicked off now that "Brood X" has come (as it were) and gone. Includes lots of interesting bits of information about everyone's favorite "thunk-splat" bug.

Posted by scott at 09:17 AM | Comments (0)
Ass Bust, Ass Brand

Fark linked up this harrowing tale of one skater's unfortunate encounter with an overheated manhole cover:

"I landed with my arm and back straight onto the metal cover," Wallenberg said. "I noticed it was kind of hot, but I didn't realize how bad it was until my skin started to sizzle."

Apparently this was very near a spot where a woman was flat electrocuted by a manhole cover while walking her dog. And all this time I thought the streets of DC flinging manhole covers ten feet in the air was impressive.

Posted by scott at 08:06 AM | Comments (0)
August 15, 2004
Nike permanently affixes goggles to Olympic swimmers’ eyes

Nike wants you to use their latest drag-killing device, the strapless water goggles. How does it work? Two independent goggle lenses get afixed to your eye sockets with medical-grade adhesive (read: superglue).

Read entire article here.

with picture!

Posted by Ellen at 05:12 PM | Comments (0)
10 Reasons to Vote for Bush

Remeber to play nice with eachother :)

Read entire hilarity here.

Posted by Ellen at 05:08 PM | Comments (2)
Minute Rice

For D! We know you would appreciate this!

The extreme in minute rice.

NSFW due to pop up ads.

Posted by Ellen at 10:34 AM | Comments (0)
Gothic Wedding

NSFW due to pop up ads

You just have to look .

Posted by Ellen at 10:16 AM | Comments (0)
Do they really mean "Attactive"?


If you pucker up, then pucker up with some of the most unique anal jewelry available. These all stainless steel plugs are designed for a nice comfortable fit for long term wear. They weigh more than other plugs reminding the wearer of what is inside. The glass cut gemstones finish off the plug and attracts lots of attention to the wearing party. These are true work of art collector pieces.

See the attactiveness here.

Posted by Ellen at 10:01 AM | Comments (0)
Man pleads guilty in cat torture case. *More serial killers in the making*

WILLOWS A man accused of torturing and killing a cat pleaded guilty Thursday and now awaits sentencing. John Lee Allen, 50, of Orland entered the plea and now faces up to three years in prison when he is sentenced Sept. 17.

Read entire F'd up story here.
Posted by Ellen at 09:55 AM | Comments (3)
Maryland Woman Acts Like Chimpanzee. Cops NOT Amused!

SALISBURY, Md. -- A woman was beaten and arrested after she smeared her feces on an officer who tried to question her for trespassing, police said Wednesday.

Tammy E. Johnson, 36, of Newark, Md., was charged with second-degree assault and reckless endangerment for exposing the officer to a potential biohazard, resisting arrest, disturbing the peace and disorderly conduct, said Capt. Mark Tyler, Salisbury police spokesman.

"She resisted arrest, continued to smear the fecal matter on him and gouged and scratched him in the upper chest and neck," he said. "The officer did use his pepper spray on the woman, which had no effect as she continued to fight. He then used his baton in the area of her legs until she finally stopped."

Read entire article here.

Posted by Ellen at 09:52 AM | Comments (0)
August 14, 2004
Hey D! Here's Your NEXT GF!?

Joshua found her for you at some intergalactic space station.


Posted by Ellen at 09:58 PM | Comments (0)
Criminally Stupid

Excerpted in-toto from this "crime blotter":

Michael Guilbault, 19, pleaded guilty in 1997 to robbing a Raleigh, N.C., convenience store. According to the prosecutor, a delayed getaway helped police make the capture. Guilbault and his accomplice were to flee the store and meet their friends Heather Beckwith, 18, and Curtis Johnson, 19, at the nearby getaway car, but when the robbers arrived, they found the doors locked and the couple inside "in the act," as the prosecutor put it. Guilbault and his colleague were forced to wait until the couple had finished before they could get in the car, but by that time witnesses had noticed the two men yelling and making a commotion and had summoned police.

Huh-uh. Not trying to get away. Far as I'm concerned, that's one broken window and two beat-downs to go please. Must be a record for the number and angles of stupidity.

Posted by scott at 07:05 PM | Comments (0)
August 13, 2004
Freaks Script

THERE NEVER WAS, before or since, a movie like FREAKS, a 1932 film by horror-master Tod Browning (director of Bela Lugosi's DRACULA), and, safe to say, there probably never will be again.

Today it is a cult classic, but in its day FREAKS was considered too horrifying, and public outrage forced it to be withdrawn from distribution.

The sideshow "freaks" were all played by persons with real deformities. No special-effects makeup was used, except in one brief scene at the end of the movie.

The lengthy prologue that scrolls up the screen at the beginning of the film includes these lines: "Never again will such a story be filmed, as modern science and teratology is rapidly eliminating such blunders of nature from the world."

The script for FREAKS.

Posted by Ellen at 05:49 PM | Comments (1)
No More Cooking From This French Chef

Julia Child, the celebrated cook, author and television personality who elevated the nation's culinary standards, died in her sleep early Friday morning at an assisted living home in Montecito, Calif. She was 91. As America's gastronomic guru, she had no peer. She taught us to relish food and wine as a way of appreciating life's bounty. From this brave new world of food, there is no turning back.

Read entire article here.
Posted by Ellen at 05:32 PM | Comments (0)

The signs pointed to terrorism - that's exactly the impression the two men, an NBC News producer and cameraman, were trying to create.

Such begins the saga (detailed here and here) of two "suspicious" guys who ended up being reporters trying to show how insecure our airports really are. Instead, they ended up with their butts in jail, showing just how secure they really are.

Now, in and of itself I have no problem with the media trying to pull something like this off. Keeps everyone on their toes. What I do have a problem with is that instead of running a big prominent "stay tuned to see how brave men and women are succeeding in making your airports safer" story, they're just going to act like nothing happened and bury the whole thing. Because, you see, proving that it all works doesn't sow terror, discord, and discontent. Things that improve aren't sexy, and don't sell advertising.

Now, tell me again why Fox News is the dangerous network?

Posted by scott at 03:59 PM | Comments (2)
Running the Numbers

Those of you who think a solution to the deficit is to elect Kerry better think again:

Even with ... generous accounting, the Kerry spending promises add up to an extraordinary amount of money. Our best estimate is that Kerry's proposals will add up to between $2 trillion and $2.1 trillion over the next ten years. Since the revenue from his tax proposals relative to the current baseline is actually negative, this implies that the Kerry proposal would increase the deficit by perhaps as much as $2.5 trillion over the next ten years.

I'm not playing up the "whoa, tax and spend city!" angle because noting that about a Democrat is like noting Jessica Simpson isn't all that bright. What I find much more striking, as does the author, is the complete lack of "where are the numbers?" questions the media have historically badgered all candidates about.

Of even more interest is the same author's analysis of what Kerry's corporate "tax incentives" really mean:

If a multinational makes money abroad, [under Kerry's plan] it must pay U.S. taxes immediately. This will make the negative impact of high U.S. taxes impossible to avoid and force U.S. firms to significantly increase prices. That should lead to sharp reductions in market share and employment both at home and abroad, and a likely wave of foreign acquisitions of U.S. companies.

No, I don't expect this to change any minds. I doubt if most of you will even believe it. But I do hope you'll at least think twice the next time you put the deficit front and center of your "anyone but Bush" reasonings.

"Anybody but"'s being rational. Ah well, hope does spring eternal I guess...

Posted by scott at 02:39 PM | Comments (0)

Deep ocean stuff always fascinates me. They're so very weeiirrrddd. How weird? Take a look at these things. Better descriptions of some of them are here.

Posted by scott at 01:24 PM | Comments (0)
What is This Thing You Call, "Real Life"?

The Red vs. Blue guys are at it again, this time with Real Life vs. the Internet. Yeah, it's probably been on their site for awhile, but it's the first time I've seen it. The political discussions look eerily familiar...

Posted by scott at 12:26 PM | Comments (0)
It's the MP3 Player I'm Looking at, You Know

Well, looks like someone's gone and stuffed an MP3 player into an AK-47 ammo magazine. Ok guys, now go back and look at the player she's carrying. Apparently you can buy just the case as well. Took me reading (reading I tell you, reading) the site 3 times to spot that.

No, I don't know what the old hippie dude is doing there either.

Posted by scott at 09:56 AM | Comments (0)
Charybdis in the Sky is carrying this article that details a recent discovery about the Earth's magnetosphere:

Pockets of superheated gas several times the size of Earth have been discovered swirling like bathtub drains high above the planet.

Turns out they're the result of interaction between the comparatively static "boudary layer" of Earth's magnetosphere and the extremely energetic solar wind. Sounds sort of like what happens when you run your hand knife-edge through a tub full of still water. Only bigger, and with plasma.

Posted by scott at 09:01 AM | Comments (0)
Looks Like They Need to be Pulled Up to Me

Fark linked up what has to be the latest entry in the "women will wear any goddamned uncomfortable thing to look good" category: the "backless" g-string. Trust me, you need to see the picture to believe it (it's SFW).

Posted by scott at 08:09 AM | Comments (1)
August 12, 2004
Our Stamp

Heh. I was a double-dope. Turns out when Politburo said "go see your stamp", he wasn't kidding:


Now how cool is that?!? Thanks dood!

Posted by scott at 08:16 PM | Comments (2)
My Doom

Ok, Doom3 is almost starting to annoy me. The AI isn't as good as Far Cry, and there aren't (so far) any outdoor levels whatsoever. It's getting a wee repetitive at this point.

I will say, though, that I've never played a shooter that could sustain this sort of adrenaline level over this period of time. And I've played a lot of shooters over the years. Remember the first time you saw Aliens? How you couldn't sleep that night? It's like that, only you're not watching it, you're in it.

At the end, I think I'm going to rate it with the number of "involuntary underwear changes."

Right now, I think I'm up to 10.

Posted by scott at 08:10 PM | Comments (4)
One Step Closer to Every Married Man's Nightmare

That being a pill that makes us do stuff:

Scientists in the United States have found a way of turning lazy monkeys into workaholics using gene therapy.

Just like bad politics sometimes has good results, sometimes good science has bad results. Bad scientists! Bad!

Now go get me a beer.

Posted by scott at 03:45 PM | Comments (0)
Another Myth Busted?

Instapundit linked up this Medpundit article that in turn links a (subscription-required) WSJ article that describes how stem cell research money has actually increased under the current adminstration. Also notes that an amendment to a 1996 spending bill represents a much more fundamental block to the furthering of this research.

Posted by scott at 02:26 PM | Comments (0)
Probably not on the List of Olympic Themes

Apparently the music video Soccer Practice has made the rounds, but it's the first time I've seen it. Personally, I'm not sure why I haven't seen it on MTV2. I mean, it's no worse than the stuff Jessica Simpson puts out. As it were.

Posted by scott at 01:23 PM | Comments (2)
Nobody Said Unintended Consequences were Always Bad

Especially when there are boobies involved:

Boaters -- nude ones and those wearing bathing suits -- have attracted the attention of drivers in recent weeks, at times halting traffic at the causeway between Iredell and Mecklenburg [North Carolina] counties and sparking complaints.

Two items seem to have caused the "sudden" appearance of "nekkid people":

[Marine commission Chairman Randy Reece] suggested the problem was created inadvertently when the N.C. Department of Transportation took down the causeway fence and started trimming the weeds and underbrush that once obscured views of the lake.
The [Marine] commission approved a new rafting safety ordinance last month after lakefront homeowners complained about the massive floating party in Cocktail Cove. Residents reported nudity, drunkenness and obnoxious behavior.

The new rules limit the number of boats that can raft together at certain distances from shore. They apply lakewide.

Which is why they're hanging out at the bridge now. Heh... see, sometimes even bad government can be good. Well, until some young thing gets you in an accident I guess.

Posted by scott at 10:57 AM | Comments (0)
Desert Rose

Instapundit linked up a nice story that seems to indicate they don't all hate us:

I felt more welcome traveling in Tunisia than anywhere else I've ever been in my life. Partly this is no more than the legendary Arab hospitality, which I'm happy to report is alive, well, and understated. Even so, I'm more convinced now than before that the Terror War is strictly ideological. It has little or nothing to do with any clash of civilizations. If Tunisians thought me their enemy they chose a peculiar way to express it.

Play it again, Sam!

Posted by scott at 09:42 AM | Comments (2)
And Ellen's Parents Think Nina's a Pain

WaPo (free reg, blah blah) today carried this article detailing new findings about how the most famous dinosaur predator of all grew up. By examining "growth rings" in the bones of several fossil specimens, scientists have determined that T. Rex under went a tremendous growth spurt between 13 and 17 years of age. It's so characteristic and so large they're calling it "super puberty". The findings have implications for both biology and behavior, because before the growth spurt T. Rex's were probably very fast and agile, whereas afterward they're huge and strong.

Posted by scott at 08:09 AM | Comments (0)
August 11, 2004
What You Call a Severe "Oops" Moment

When fact checks attack:

A Rochester, N.Y. man caught up in a case of mistaken identity is threatening to sue CBS for falsely labeling him as terrorist suspect.

The man, Asif Iqbal, whose problems have been going on since 2002 when U.S. forces in Afghanistan arrested another man with the same name, is now facing even greater problems after CBS showed a picture of him in an August 4 Evening News broadcast. It also placed the picture on its Web site until Iqbal's lawyer told CBS to remove it.

But it gets better (or worse, if you work for CBS News):

Iqbal, who has lived in the U.S for ten years and hopes to become a citizen in the coming months, may actually have grounds for a slander suit since the photograph of him that CBS used came from an Associated Press article published earlier this year describing some of Iqbal's troubles.
In American media law, a private individual filing as a plaintiff need only prove that the defendant was negligent in verifying the veracity of information it presented as fact.

Just because lawyers are sharks doesn't mean there aren't people who sometimes need eating.

~ The guy sure looks like plant food to me ~

Via Ipse Dixit through RedSugar Muse.

Posted by scott at 03:24 PM | Comments (1)
When "Not in My Back Yard" Doesn't Even Come Close

And people think an airport moving next door is bad:

Activists in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside want a "safe inhalation room" for people who smoke crack cocaine, building on the success of Canada's first safe injection site for those who shoot up with other drugs.

Now, I'm one of those loony libertarians who thinks we should legalize most drugs and then tax the snot out of them. Use the money to, I don't know, buy an extra stealth bomber or two, or finance Frank's space laser... something useful and cool like that. But as soon as it happened here, some liberal moonbat would come along and try a stunt like this with my tax money. Gaurantee it.

Now, I wouldn't necessarily mind "safe junkie rooms" per se, but since I'm also a greedy bastard capitalist, I'd want them run by something like "Junkies R Us, Inc.", with a dollar slot on the door. Unfortunately, since junkies spend all their money on dope, none would use the thing (or they'd all get shot/arrested/electrocuted trying to jimmy open the dollar slot for more dope money), and so they'd be out on the streets anyway. And round and round it goes.

I think the only people in the world that annoy me more than hippies are junkies. At least hippies won't shoot you for the change in your pocket.

This rambling and somewhat incoherent post brought to you by: too much Cold Fusion coding.

Posted by scott at 02:21 PM | Comments (2)
Insert "Doctor Strangelove" Joke Here

Ron gets a well-adjusted no-prize for bringing us news of the "new" flouridated water:

Britons consume the anti-depressant drug Prozac in such large quantities that traces of it can now be found in the country's drinking water, The Observer newspaper reported Sunday citing health officials.

Sounds a wee (as it were) urban-legendish to me, but considering our more recent encounteres with various Britons, not completely unbelievable.

Posted by scott at 12:58 PM | Comments (0)
Stamps, for the Rest of Us

Cobb linked up stamps we really want to see. Much better than lame-o dead people or flowers. Although I'm pretty sure mom wouldn't understand what the big deal was with the Simpsons.

Update: as noted in the comments, you can actually make your own. Dur.


Posted by scott at 12:10 PM | Comments (5)

Fark linked up this notice that it can be illegal to wear Dallas Cowboy logo clothing in the city the team is holding summer camp in:

Dallas Cowboys souvenir T-shirts, helmets and ballcaps are flying off the shelves during the football team's summer camp despite a gang injunction that prohibits some residents from wearing anything with the Cowboys logo.

The titular question of this post is, of course, What Would Ron (a Cowboy fan who's dedication to his team makes the Emperor's dedication to the dark side seem a mere flirtation) Do? I mean, a city that outlaws wearing Cowboy logos?!?

Hopefully Amber has the keys to his car somewhere safe.

It will, of course, surprise no-one that the city in question is located in the PRC (People's Republic of California).

Posted by scott at 11:02 AM | Comments (4)
Dealership Koan

A woman walks into the shop area of the dealership. "My car is broken, it won't start, it doesn't run right, and it never has."

"Did it make any specific noises? Smell funny? Have any vibrations?" the tech asked.

After a long, blank look, the woman says, "I don't know. I don't remember. All I know is it's broken and it's been that way a long time."

The tech calls up her record, which has entries like, "no gas in tank", "oil not changed for 12,000 miles", and "no air in tires." So the tech asked, "Well, was it working right after we fixed it the last three times?"

Another long, blank look. "I don't remember. But it is definitely broken now and has been for awhile."

The tech glances over the woman's shoulder and sees the car sitting quietly in the parking lot, with nothing obvious wrong with it. "It'll probably take a day to diagnose it. I'll let you know how much it will be when we find out what's wrong."

An aggrieved look comes over the woman's face. In a tone that strongly suggests the tech should not speak this way to people obviously injured by the incompetence of the tech and his staff, she says "I just don't understand why my car causes me such trouble." Then, switching subtly to an "I-know-damned-well-you're-screwing-with-me" tone, she says "My husband's an executive at an airline and he says cars shouldn't act this way."

Idea shamelessly stolen from IFOC.

Posted by scott at 10:09 AM | Comments (0)
~ What Do You Do with a Solar Sailor Earl-eye in the Morning ~

Spaceflightnow is carrying this story summarizing the latest news in NASA's effort to create a functioning solar sail. Seems like they've managed to successfully deploy two scale models in large vacuum chambers. While modest, the progress is significant. The technology uses the solar wind itself to move spacecraft from place to place, and promises to do away with chemical rockets completely.

Posted by scott at 09:04 AM | Comments (1)
I Guess We'll be Visiting Manhattan Soon

Fark disapproved mightily of the latest "theme" eatery idea coming soon to NY City:

When the Meow Mix Cafe opens its doors August 17, pussycats will be able to tuck in to a variety of vittles while their owners enjoy comparable dishes. For example, while the kitty chews on her "Fillet Meow" of beef in gravy, her owner eats a beef tenderloin sandwich.

Having watched my own cats splatter "Tuna Surprise with Cheese Bits" all over the kitchen floor, I'll pass for my own reasons. But I doubt it'd even slow Ellen down.

Posted by scott at 08:07 AM | Comments (3)
August 10, 2004
Childhood's End?

V.D. Hanson hits another one out of the park with A Return to Childhood:

Who would have thought that Vietnam would become the source for Democratic nostalgia, rather than the usual recrimination? Did anyone think the appointment of Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice, promises of $15 billion in grants to combat AIDS in Africa, and lectures to the politically powerful Arab world to cease the genocide of black Sudanese would earn George Bush slurs evoking the Taliban, the old Confederacy, and fascism? Have we become children who live in a world of bedtime stories, afraid to face the cruel truth around us?


Posted by scott at 04:01 PM | Comments (0)
Helping the Self-Helpers

Some friends have set up a web site for Liberty's Promise, a charitable organization whose mission I wholeheartedly agree with:

Liberty's Promise works to sustain and support young immigrants while encouraging them to be active and conscientious American citizens. Our programs of direct assistance and research aim to make the immigrant experience an affirmative one for young newcomers while instilling in them a sense of pride and support for American ideals of democracy and freedom. By doing so, Liberty's Promise seeks to reaffirm our fundamental egalitarian and democratic traditions for future generations.

Anything that helps more productive people become Americans is fine by me!

Posted by scott at 03:13 PM | Comments (0)
Even I Don't Plan on Being This Protective

Note to self: don't walk near Phillipino women dancing:

A man and his two sons have been arrested on suspicion of murdering a neighbor and then eating parts of his body after he tripped over a woman relative at a dance, Philippine police said on Tuesday.

I just plan on scaring the hell out of future boyfriends. Actually, as I watch Olivia develop into a (currently rather wobbly) version of her mother, I'm not sure I'll need to be all that scary.

Posted by scott at 02:13 PM | Comments (0)
When Traction Attacks

If you're not into blogging, you probably haven't heard much about the "Kerry in Cambodia" fiasco, but the blogosphere is all over it like stink on virtual poo.

Personally, I think it's about as interesting as Bush's "did he or didn't he serve in the National Gaurd?" fiasco of a few months back, so it has done nothing to sway me in either direction. All politicians say and do stupid things to keep their jobs, and anyone who's shocked by it isn't paying attention (which is to say, most of you). But the last time the blogosphere got its jaws on a dumb politician saying a really stupid thing that big media chose to ignore, it cost Trent Lott a job. This has the signs of turning into that, and for Kerry supporters it would be a very, very bad thing.

Posted by scott at 01:10 PM | Comments (16)
NASA Set to Fix Failing Far-Seeing Phenom

Slashdot linked up news NASA will be fixing up Hubble after all. Two years ago, Aviation Week provided detailed descriptions of Hubble's replacements, and I can only say I hope they didn't spend that money to save this old thing.

Posted by scott at 12:09 PM | Comments (0)
Cat Clone, Cat Cuddle

BBCnews is carrying this report by a woman who's actually seen/petted/been crawled on by two cloned kitties. Apparently, if you weren't told you'd never know the difference.

Since most of ours have genetic things wrong with them, I'm not sure any of them are candidates.

Posted by scott at 10:39 AM | Comments (3)
Not Because it is Easy, but Because it is Hard

Ron gets a no-prize he better not try to launch for bringing us news and pictures of Rubicon 1, an x-prize contender, well, not being a contender. New Scientist is carrying this article that summarizes both that failure and Armadillo Aerospace's crash that ocurred shortly thereafter.

While the media are predictably playing up the "total disaster" aspect of the story, this is in fact to be expected. Spaceflight ain't easy folks, and catestrophic failures of what are essentially pretty pipe bombs are just par for the course.

Another huge advantage of private enterprise is that failures like this do not automatically result in monstrous, ponderous committee-driven investigations that take years to complete; they also don't result in public outcries to "stop spending my money on that", outcries that congresscritters naturally scurry around to answer. The press can bleat and blather about "dangers" and "spectacular failures" all they want, because the people involved will be too busy to care and nobody else has any leverage to do anything about it.

Well, as long as interventionist technocrats are kept away from the levers of power, that is.

It seems to me we're going back to the pre-WWII age of exploration and innovation, back when people didn't expect the government to be the primary motivator and innovator. You want it, scrape your money together and give it a shot. If it fails, well, try again. If it doesn't, expect to be richly rewarded for taking such a high risk, and then invest that money back into the markets so some other maniac with an idea can scrape together the money and take a shot at thiers.

To me, that's a good thing.

Posted by scott at 09:36 AM | Comments (0)
The Tricky Part is Getting an Extension Cord That'll Reach the Stadium

Finally science comes up with something useful:

Three college buddies tired of leaky trash cans and warm beer at the bottom of the keg say they have the solution to better the beer-drinking experience.

It's a portable cooling wrap designed to make kegs more portable and to keep beer cold in pickup trucks, at the beach or in the back yard. Also, they say it would get rid of the annoyance and cost of ice replacement.

I'm pretty sure I even know how it works, because there have been PC CPU coolers using the same tech for years. I've just never heard of it on something this big before.

Posted by scott at 08:08 AM | Comments (0)
August 09, 2004
Joe's Apartment is Only Funny if You Haven't Lived It

Meryl linked up a two part story about a woman and her encounters with everyone's favorite vermin:

So I put down my fork and very quietly alerted Ryan to the presence of this interloper among our onions and peppers. He leaned over to check it out for himself, still chewing, and I could see the same thought process play out in his head. Then he leaned back in his chair, eyes wide and face blank, swallowed and coughed and sort of laughed, and starting whistling La Cucaracha. So I said, “Ryan,” in still a very quiet but URGENT tone, a tone that said, “Perhaps you do not understand that I am doing a remarkable job of holding my shit together at this moment, but on the inside, I am a woman in turmoil, a woman who is seconds away from being COMPLETELY UNABLE TO DEAL with the current situation, and I am begging you as my friend to please, please do something before I freak the fuck out.”

Our first domicile was definitely la cucaracha hotel. One bedroom high rise, with hardwood floors and a decent sized kitchen. Nice enough, except for "the races". You see, at night, if you wanted a glass of milk or something, you had to go into the kitchen. We made sure a can of RAID was within easy reach. So at 2 am, in the whiskey-brown light of the streetlamps below, you could grab it without thinking. Hit the kitchen light switch and they're off. I think the best I ever did was 15. Ellen, who is slightly less flipped out by bugs than I am, I think once got 30.

But that's not the best bug story we have from the old apartment. When we were dating, Ellen had come down from New York for a late-summer visit. We'd done the romantic thing, parking the Alfa in old town and taking dinner and the ol' ghost tour. We'd been back for a good fifteen minutes, and as I walked into the kitchen (to open a bottle of wine) Ellen, who was pulling open the shades on the otherwise spectacular floor-to-ceiling windows, suddenly jumped up on the air conditioner vent* and started screaming and pointing at the door.

I turned and looked at what must have been Satan's own chitinous pet. Swear to God, the thing must've been six, eight inches long, with a yellow banded cylindrical body and flicking long black legs. It looked like a self-propelled banana with a balance problem. It's been nearly ten years and I get the heebies just describing it. No, really!

So Ellen, the one that doesn't mind bugs is freaking her shit out jumping up and down screaming and expecting me, the new strong boyfriend-type, to rescue the situation. So I had a quandary. One part of me, the girly part, wanted to jump up there with her and start playing "who can shatter the windows first?" But another part, the part that had been looking at a hot Italian chick all night, a chick I hadn't seen in three months mind you, was going, "you pussy, it's just a bug, a freaking bug! Get it together and do something."

So the engineer inside took over. What in my house was big enough to eject the intruder but had a long enough handle to keep Jamie Lee Curtis from crawling out of my skull and taking over?

Yup, you guessed it. Brooms are your friend. I crept cautiously past the flicking waving nightmare as fast as I could (because I knew the goddam thing could flip over any second and I was just barely hanging on and ohshititcouldstartrunning), went into the closet and got the broom out. In what must have been a convincing imitation of a demolition guy walking past one of those Iraqi Improvised Explosive Devices (the ones where you know Haji is on the other side of the hill with his finger on the goddam garage door opener) I quickly, cautiously, crept past it again and threw open the door, cocked back, and SWEPT the monster out.

Swept it so hard it first caromed off the opposite hallway wall, then bank-shotted into the near hallway wall, to come to rest right-side-up four full doors down. I swear I could hear its Satanic heh heh heh as it oriented itself for a charge back, but before that happened I slammed the door.

And locked it. Goddam bugs are clever.

Ellen, of course, started laughing her ass off. "I never saw anyone turn as white as you did just then. I think the broom passed mach 1!"

It was only later that the real horror dawned on us. You see, we had parked the Alfa, top-down, under a tree that night. That summer night. There's not a thing in the world that would allow a monster bug like that the creep unaided up fourteen floors into an unsuspecting bachelor's apartment. But there's also nothing in the world to prevent one from hitching a ride on his or his girlfriend's clothing after falling off a tree. That f-er was climbing around on us the entire freaking time!!!

And Ellen wondered why I had bug nightmares the rest of the time we lived there....

* Ok, non-apartment dwellers... you know the way the air conditioners are rigged in motel rooms? It was like that. Ok, it wasn't four feet tall, it was two, but trust me, it wouldn't have mattered, she would've cleared it.

Posted by scott at 08:25 PM | Comments (3)
Amber's Car Rescue Service

Joshua, like, oh-my-god, totally gets a no-prize for bringing us blondestar, an on-star derivative meant for the... comprehensively challenged ...among us. I wonder if they also offer it for little old ladies?

Posted by scott at 06:37 PM | Comments (5)
That Whole Gay Marriage Thing

Personally, I support gay marriage. Well, maybe that's too strong a word... let's say I certainly don't oppose it. I think this world is plenty tough and lonely enough, and if you find someone you want to share it with what difference does it make if they have the same equipment as you? I thought the constitutional amendment thing was stupid, predictable grandstanding, and I find it amazing anyone ever took it seriously. Virginia Postrel has this nifty take on the "gay marriage is the new abortion rights" thing:

The comparison doesn't hold in one, very important respect: Abortions are sad. Weddings are happy ... People support abortion rights out of fear. They support gay marriage out of love ... That changes the politics, particularly with time and experience.

Yeah, that sounds about right.

Posted by scott at 04:12 PM | Comments (5)
Beyond Stage One

You'd think with this kind of intro, this New York Times bit (free reg, blah blah) would've gotten more attention:

The overall income Americans reported to the government shrank for two consecutive years after the Internet stock market bubble burst in 2000, the first time that has effectively happened since the modern tax system was introduced during World War II.

I mean, of course that happened. Everyone knows the economy went into the tank as soon as Bush showed up. So why isn't this story getting more play? Maybe because:

new information shows that [the recession's] effect on Americans' incomes, particularly those at the upper end of the spectrum, was much more severe. (emphasis added)

Well, that's well and good, but Bush's tax cuts are really to blame, right? Wrong:

To some extent, taxes fell more than incomes because of tax cuts championed by President Bush and approved by Congress in 2001. But ... the major tax rate reductions for highly paid Americans did not take effect until 2003
At the same time many of those whose incomes fell the most - those reporting $200,000 to $10 million in income - paid at the highest rates, which meant that the drain on revenues was even greater when their incomes shrank.

This isn't Fox News people, it's the Great Gray Lady herself reporting it. Maybe now some of you will actually believe the people who own most of the wealth really are paying most of the taxes? Anyone? Anyone? Buehler?

Didn't think so.

And, really, have any of you thought about what will actually happen if all those tax cuts get rolled back? Sure, revenue will increase, substantially even, at first. But what happens after that?

Wealthy people, people who are already paying most of the tax burden, will suddenly have strong incentives to move their money elsewhere. And, unlike you and me, rich people have the knowledge and ability to do so. Over time, tax revenues will begin to drop. Fine, at least some of you will say, we'll make it illegal for them to move their money out, change the laws and get rid of all those tax loopholes and shelters.

Here we delve into the world of science fiction, because (thank God) it's not 1967 (or 1993), and the Democrats do not have control of Congress. But let's just indulge ourselves and say that, in a fit of moonbat madness, laws really are passed preventing people from moving their wealth out of the country. Tax revenues will stop falling, at least at first. But what happens after that?

Such laws simply move the problem one step back. Instead of moving their wealth out of the country, rich people will start moving themselves out of the country. Tax revenues will continue to fall, and the deficit will baloon again, and there won't be any rich people to raise taxes on this time, because they'll have all moved to Barbados. All because nobody thought past stage one of their best and brightest plan.

This is all so intensely obvious and well-attributed I am completely flummoxed when people refuse to believe it. Well educated people who I otherwise deeply respect will take a scientist at their word when they say, "evolution is fact" but will refuse to believe an economist when they say, "taking less profit on more items will always earn more money than when you take more profit on fewer items."

Far too often we focus on the desired goals and deplorable results of a program instead of the incentives they create. We celebrate the creation of a "great society", and fifteen years later deplore the welfare state. We cheer the concept of "equal opportunity", and twenty years later decry quotas. Others crow about universal health care, and then ignore the people who die of cancer because they were forced to wait fifteen months for chemotherapy.

Unlike the other side's opinion of my own beliefs, I really do think liberals and lefties have the best of intentions. Free health care, free education, free access, all and more are wonderful concepts, beautiful ideas, that speak well of their humanity.

Unfortunately we don't live in a world that allows any of those things to succeed. Your ideas may be noble, but they will fail. There's a reason the further to the political left you go, the higher the contempt for the "common man" becomes. When an idea, program, or policy requires going against human nature, failure is inevitable. When that happens it's far easier to blame the mass's intransigence instead of one's own cherished beliefs.

Markets are messy, but they work, because they compliment human nature. Democracies are messy, but they work, for the same reason. Science, the cherished last fallback of the stasist technocrat, works only because it weds the human desire to learn and explore with the equally human desire to doubt and discredit.

I don't hate the left or their beliefs, even though most of them certainly seem to hate me and mine. Instead, I feel compassion, because they're simply good people who, even with overwhelming evidence, categorically refuse to recognize simple facts. They don't believe it.

And that is why they fail.

Posted by scott at 03:45 PM | Comments (0)
The 53 States

With schools like these, who needs morons?

Students [attending the California Alternative High School] learned that Congress had two houses -- the Senate for Democrats and the House for Republicans; that the U.S. flag had not been updated to reflect the addition of Alaska, Hawaii and Puerto Rico to the "original" 50 states; that the federal "administrative" branch oversees the Treasury Department (news - web sites); and that World War II occurred from 1938 to 1942.

I mean, come on, everyone knows the Senate is for Republicans and the House is for the Dems! Ha-ha!

Reading the rest of the article, I at first thought it might just be possible that some right-wing attorney general was distorting the facts to get a school educating the "wrong" sort of people shut down. Such things have been known to happen. Thankfully (or not, depending on your perspective), TSG is carrying excerpts from the manual in question. It's actually worse than the media are portraying it.

I guess there really are times when government intervention is a good thing.

Oh geeze. Someone go pick Joshua and Mandrake up off the floor. Don't forget to check their pulse!

Posted by scott at 01:49 PM | Comments (4)
I'm not Completely Sure This is a Problem

New Scientist is running this article discussing a SETI workshop at Harvard that claimed the Earth is becoming increasingly less likely to be detected by extraterrestrials. Seems that our move to cable and satellite technologies is slowly making the Earth "dimmer" on most radio bandwidths. If trends continue, the Sun's own radio static will swamp Earth's in a few more decades, making us once again invisible against the background noise of the universe.

Since I don't completely subscribe to the Spielbergian "they're just goofy looking gardners with a hankering for Reeses Pieces" school of alien intent, I'm probably not going to bemoan the fact that at some point we may no longer be flashing a "GULLIBLE AND POTENTIALLY TASTY SLAVES ARE HERE" sign at the universe. But I am glad it's pointing the SETI folks in a different direction in their search for other ETs.

There's also this great Calvin and Hobbes quote:

"Sometimes I think the surest sign that intelligent life exists elsewhere in the universe is that none of it has tried to contact us."

Posted by scott at 12:48 PM | Comments (7)

Nothing quite as unexpectedly cool as having a B-2 stealth bomber buzz your office building just as you're exiting it for lunch. Couldn't have been flying higher than 500 feet or so. Damned thing is loud rocketing over the low-slung urban canyons of northern Virginia. No idea what it was doing, maybe a memorial for Arlington cemetery, maybe we've all just been virtually nuked.

They may be multi-billion-dollar-apiece boondoggles, but they're my multi-billion-dollar-apiece boondoggles, and I think they're frikken amazing.

Posted by scott at 11:40 AM | Comments (0)

You've probably seen many of these cute cat pictures before, but you've probably not seen others. Take a few moments out of your busy day for a smile or two at our goofy feline friends.

Posted by scott at 10:27 AM | Comments (2)
And the Nuke Goes: Hiss Hiss Hiss

Making the rounds: Japanese nuclear power plant accident kills 4. IANAPPW (I am not a power plant worker), but it sounds as if the leak ocurred in the secondary circuit, which by definition is not radioactive. Stilll, getting parboiled is definitely pretty far down on my list of "desirable ways to die". Ouch.

Of course, Reuters, being (as I understand it) UK based, couldn't resist a pot shot at nukes in general:

The incident [...] is certain to increase public distrust of the nuclear industry in Japan, which depends on nuclear power for a third of its energy needs.

Doesn't matter how much they distrust it sparky, if it provides 1/3rd of the electricity it isn't going anywhere. I do so love it when reporters editorialize in a "news" story.

Posted by scott at 09:17 AM | Comments (0)
Rovers Starting to Creak?

BBCnews is carrying this new summary of the Mars rovers. Wear and tear seem to be taking their toll now, with both rovers beginning to manifest significant glitches and malfunctions. Considering they were only "supposed" to last 90 days, they're still doing all right. But it will be sad when they finally go.

Posted by scott at 08:25 AM | Comments (0)
August 08, 2004
Goth Subculture

If most (10 or more) of the following statements are true, it is VERY likely that you are Goth. If the first statement is false, you aren't Goth. No, not even if all 16 of the rest are true. Of course, you would be readily accepted and most welcome amongst Goths for your strength of individuality and ability to appreciate the culture in general and themselves in particular.

Goth with a Sledghammer.

Thanks to Damion for the info! A very black and gothic No-Prize to you!

Posted by Ellen at 06:01 PM | Comments (0)
Tatoos of the Nerds

While I think some of these "quirky" tatoos are not too bad, some of them are definitely just this side of nerdsville. You know a trend is officially over when the gamers get hold of it.

Posted by scott at 11:12 AM | Comments (0)
Beach Weirdness

Fark linked up this report of bizzare critters washing up on a Hawaii beach:

One woman reported being stung Thursday by one of them, said lifeguard Steve Clendenin, who described them as a "nightmarish cross between a centipede and a sea urchin."

Turns out they're some sort of worm that normally lives deep in the sand. Why Ellen likes the beach and ocean I never will know...

Posted by scott at 10:49 AM | Comments (0)
America's Funniest Air-Drop Videos

Jeff gets a no-prize with a parachute attached for bringing us this hilarious compilation of mishaps and mahem that have happened to the boys who bring the groceries to the guys on the ground. Video link, so dial-up users need to be patient. But it's definitely worth it.

Posted by scott at 10:00 AM | Comments (1)
August 07, 2004
Well, at Least I Don't Have to Worry About Ellen Chasing These

New Scientist is carrying this article summarizing the latest discoveries from the Saturn probe Cassini. The probe is observing much different weather conditions than those observed by the two Voyager probes. Then, the storms were weirdly regular, with the exact same number of lighting bolts every time they went around the planet (every 10 hours no less). Now, they're less regular, less strong (relatively), and seem to be traveling slightly slower. The current hypothesis is that the position of the planet's rings relative to the sun could be causing the difference, but only extended observations will be able to tell.

Posted by scott at 10:54 AM | Comments (0)
And the Fish Goes: Flip Flop, Flip Flop

Well, at least Kerry's consistent about his inconsistencies. While not the strongest example of his muddled wishy-washy-ness, it does seem to be the most recent.

Not that it matters. If saying, doing, and believing mutually conflicting things from time to time was an impediment to office, we'd all be saying, "Bill who?"

Posted by scott at 10:48 AM | Comments (7)
Speaking of Porno...

Matt Damon seems to have gone on record as wanting to make his own porn flick:

Damon, 33, believes X-rated films and action movies are predictable and badly written and is keen to break the trend by creating a adult movie where the narrative is as important as the graphic sex scenes.

Somehow I think he said it all with a wink and a smile, but again, why not? In the early 70s, mainstream studios were seriously considering creating high-dollar adult films, and crossovers between mainstream and hardcore "talent" were not unheard of. It's not like "real" actors are any less exhibitionist than their "normal" co-workers.

Posted by scott at 10:39 AM | Comments (3)
One Candidate that will not be Boring

Cicciolina, Italy's porn-star-turned-parlaimentarian, is at it again, this time she wants to become Milan's mayor. Personally, I think it's a great idea. Jenna Jameson is more articulate than Bush, more interesting than Kerry, prettier than Edwards (but not by much), and more animated than Nader. What's not to love?

Jenna 2004!

Posted by scott at 10:33 AM | Comments (2)
August 06, 2004
Counting Critters

BBCnews is carrying this report summarizing what's been found so far during the Norwegian-led section of the expedition called the Census of Marine Life (CoML). They've found all sorts of interesting things in the mid-Atlantic area, including a weird not-quite-angler fish, as well as a red squid that might represent a new species. With pictures!

Posted by scott at 01:44 PM | Comments (1)
Limo v. Limo

Just because you're rich doesn't mean you're smart, or lucky:

Police said the man, Wayne Gethers, 38, of Roxbury, told them he had parked at 20 Ripley Road, and was ''enjoying the company of an unidentified female" in the back seat when his wife drove up in another limo the couple owns together. Wayne Gethers's four children were riding in the limo with his wife, police said.

That's when Yvesnane Gethers, 27, of Norwich, Conn., became enraged and slammed her limo into her husband's limo several times before Wayne Gethers tried to escape.

Bah. He got off lucky. I've already been told, on numerous occasions, that the best I could hope for in a similar situation was a pair of cement overshoes and a nice swim in the Potomac. Ominously, I was told the other party would "have it much worse than you."

My grandmother is famous for saying "there's a place for fear in every marriage." I think I'm living proof.

Well, for now anyway.

Posted by scott at 12:33 PM | Comments (2)
Belly of the Beast

Jason linked up this superb grunt's-eye-view account of the latest Mosul ambush:

We were driving there on that main street, when all of the sudden all hell came down all around on us, all these guys wearing all black ... a couple dozen on each side of the street, on rooftops, alleys, edge of buildings, out of windows, everywhere just came out of fucking nowhere and started firing RPG's and AK47's at us. I freaked the fuck out and ducked down in the hatch. I yelled "WE GOT FUCKIN HAJI'S ALL OVER THE FUCKIN PLACE!!! THERE ALL OVER GOD DAMNIT!!!"

Includes a user's review of the latest army wonder weapon, the Stryker. Amazingly, this particular system seems to be working as-advertised, straight out of the box.

The follow-up is just as good:

I'm pretty sure if Mosul was contaminated and infested with reporters and journalists, they would totally blow Mosul all outta proportion and make this place out to be like Viet Fuckin Nam or twist and distort everything, like I've seen them do soo many times since I've been here. But instead, we get no press, so they think its fuckin Disnyland here.

Oh hell, the whole thing is extremely interesting. I'm rapidly coming to the conclusion that the "greatest generation" is the one that happens to be in battle.

Posted by scott at 11:42 AM | Comments (2)
When Comparisons Attack

LaShawn Barber brings us news that Jesse Jackson has determined that Jesus was, in fact, a liberal. As I noted in her comments, claiming any sort of parallel between the political aspirations of a 21st century industrialized nation's party with those of a Jewish peasant in 1st century Palestine is rather like greeting a Martian as it walks off the spaceship and asking what brand of cigarette it smokes.

Jesus lived in a time, place, and situation so far removed from our own as to be nearly Martian himself. He lived in a time when 95% of the population was within one bad harvest of starvation; a time when women were property and one fifth of all children died before their first birthday; a time when effective law enforcement was reckoned by the number of people nailed to posts on the road into Jerusalem. The accounts of his death in the gospels are an after-the-fact elaborate reconstruction. If records of all the other executions Pilate ordered are taken into account, Jesus's own end was almost certainly decided with breathtaking speed and a ghastly lack of drama. And he was just one of thousands.

That his message still speaks and moves people so powerfully in such an utterly different cultural milieu really does give you a sense of the uniqueness of this person, and the import of his ministry. That a modern political figure would try to twist such a profoundly different belief system in line with his own would be beneath contempt if it weren't so depressingly familiar. Constantine himself did far worse violence to Christian doctrine for much the same reasons, and that was nearly two thousand years ago.

Posted by scott at 11:12 AM | Comments (0)
Truck Bloat, Truck Fine

Ron gets a very stout no-prize for bringing us this Slate editorial that reveals the very largest SUVs available are actually illegal to drive on residential streets in California and other places:

I discovered this secret ban after noticing the signs at both ends of my narrow Los Angeles-area street (a favorite cut-through route for drivers hoping to avoid tie-ups on bigger roads). The signs clearly prohibit vehicles over 6,000 pounds.
It turns out every big SUV and pickup is too heavy for my street. Here's just a sampling: The Chevy Suburban and Tahoe, the Range Rover, the GMC Yukon, the Toyota Land Cruiser and Sequoia, the Lincoln Navigator, the Mercedes M Class, the Porsche Cayenne S, and the Dodge Ram 1500 pickup.

Includes confirmation of something Ellen and I both thought I was mis-remembering... the H2 weighs in excess of 8k pounds (and gets 9 mpg).

While the author is busy gloating with clever disapproval, he is also uninformed about what the market is doing to these beasts... it's killing them. To take two examples, H2 sales are far below expectations, and Ford has had problems moving Expeditions for years. Gas prices have made owning any of these behemoths damned expensive.

As to the tax exemption, so what? Repealing the exemption won't matter much to the doctor or lawyer in their Cayenne, but it'll kill a small trucking company with a fleet of two dozen Isuzu panel vans. Putting hundreds, perhaps thousands, of hard working folks out of a job just to stick it to a few dozen rich people is a high price to pay for a self-righteous liberal "warm n' fuzzy".

But actually, I rather do hope the laws are enforced. Nothing gets a dumb law changed faster than vigorous, even-handed enforcement. Somehow, though, I don't think a repeal of the law is what the author has in mind.

Posted by scott at 10:12 AM | Comments (0)
Mars News

Scientific American is carrying this new summary of the Mars rover Spirit's first 90 days of exploration. Looks like the crater they'd hope would show signs of water, well, didn't, and neither did the next crater they took a look at. However, geologic features along the way do seem to hint at liquid water on the surface at some point in the past.

Posted by scott at 08:04 AM | Comments (0)
Ok, So Maybe Ellen's Actually Indian

There's crazy cat people, and then there's crazy cat people:

Teachers claim that at least a dozen girls have taken ill under mysterious circumstances in the past two weeks, all fainting without a cause, only to wake up and start behaving like cats.

Kinda brings a whole new meaning to the phrase "chasing pussy", don't it?

Posted by scott at 07:15 AM | Comments (1)
August 05, 2004
Pressmonkey Headline of the Day

"Homeland security defeats an alleged terrorist plot."

Heard on a local news station this afternoon. Yeah, I know, seems reasonable enough at first blush, but think about it... alleged?

Thank you, thank you. I'll be here all this week. Try the veal!

Posted by scott at 08:15 PM | Comments (2)
But Do They Stop "Mailbox Baseball"?

Some people just put a box on a post. Others encase it in brick or concrete. But neither has anything on this collection of extremely... rmmm... "interesting" mailboxes. I mean, I wouldn't want to smash one with a baseball bat.

I especially like the one done in stone shaped like a gun. Kinda says it all, in my book.

Posted by scott at 07:51 PM | Comments (2)
Waterworks Arms Race

Live near a pool? Finals coming up? this CPS 3200 combo might be for you! Lord knows how heavy it is when it's filled with water. Which wouldn't be for long, around me at least.

Posted by scott at 03:41 PM | Comments (1)
The Volcanoes of Mars

BBCnews is carrying this article detailing some new discoveries about the red planet. New pictures from the Mars Express space orbiter seem to provide strong evidence that volcanism on Mars lasted much longer than previously thought, perhaps ceasing as little as 1 million years ago. There are some who think a "cease" date this recent may in fact mean volcanism hasn't stopped at all, although to date there has been no evidence of anything on-going.

Posted by scott at 01:48 PM | Comments (0)
Basic Changes

Jason is featuring this scathing critique of a recent NY Times article that "discovers" changes the Army's performing to make basic training more effective for all recruits:

Somehow--and God only knows how they missed it, because it's freaking obvious to anyone who's been in the Army since 1993 and before--the New York Times has totally glossed over the fact that any such reforms amount to a quiet repudiation of Clinton-era training policies and social experimentation within the military.

The Gray Lady "missed" it for what I consider three straightforward reasons: 1) to spot it would actually require a reporter to do research instead of parroting press releases, 2) it would prevent the obvious "Blame Bush" spin of the article, and 3) it would repudiate policies of the previous Democratic administration that have direct bearing on the current election.

Was it a conscious effort to twist the facts? Probably not... malice aforethought requires a lot more intelligence and perspective than I've ever seen in any "front-line" journalist. But, taken with Jason's article, I think it does quite starkly reveal the opinions and biases the reporter had going into whatever news conference generated this.

Oh, I'm sorry, I forgot... [Moonbat glasses ON]"The entire regular media machine is being held captive by Dick Cheney at his Undisclosed Location, except for Michael Moore [who ate his way out of his cell] and the cast of Air America radio [who were too irrelevant to be worth muzzling]. Any bias seen is therefore conservative bias, since Fox News is the only outlet that matters today."[/MBG OFF]

Silly me.

Posted by scott at 10:53 AM | Comments (1)
Space Walk, Space Warp

Ron gets a properly suited-up no-prize for bringing us this MSNBC article elaborating on why space station astronauts are having such a difficult time with space walks lately. Turns out a standard feature on Russian space suits is probably causing the problem:

To keep the spacewalkers cool during their exertions, the Russian-made Orlan suits use a standard technique that involves the evaporation of water ice in the backpacks. This process results in a weak spray of water molecules from a small port in the packs.

The tech has been in use for decades without any noticeable problems. However, it would appear that the space station is big enough to have some really nice leverage points, and even this small amount of thrust seems to be enough to start the whole thing turning when the spacewalkers are out on them.

There are, of course, procedures to deal with the space station getting out of position, but even these have proven to be problematic:

One of the pieces of equipment shut off by the computer [to save power during a recent "out of position" event] was the radio transmitter that was supposed to be used to warn the crew away from the station's thruster section [so the orientation could be corrected].

There was a time when I thought NASA was the only government agency that worked, and was only being held back by luddite congressmen who thought subsidising dairy farmers was more important than exploring the moon. However, the more I learned about how NASA actually works, the more I realized it was just another federal agency, differing from the Post Office or the IRS only in that they manage to shoot themselves in the foot by pointing the gun up.

I'm pretty sure we've now spent as much on the space station as we did on Apollo, even adjusted for inflation. When I realize that, I wish I hadn't been such a vocal supporter all these years.

Go Rutan! Go!

Posted by scott at 10:21 AM | Comments (0)
Nanny State on the Road

WaPo today carried yet another billboard in the "we know better than you do" saga of interventionist America:

Safety advocates say the government has failed to keep up with the trend [of car makers emphasizing performance over safety]. The Governors Highway Safety Association, an alliance of state officials, says federal regulators ignore speed safety in favor of promoting seat belts and discouraging drunken driving.

But the section continues with an absolutely classic case of an exclusion fallacy:

"We're at an all-time high for seat belt use, and fatalities continue to increase," association spokesman Jonathan Adkins said.

To his credit, even the reporter didn't let this one go completely without note:

There were 43,220 fatalities on U.S. roads last year, the highest number since 1990 and the second straight year of increasing deaths ... The rate of deaths per miles traveled stayed unchanged, because people also drove more than ever. [emphasis added]

The counterpoint is almost uselessly vague. Which "last" year was it (turns out "Last year" was probably 2002, since the 2003 information hasn't been published yet)? Over how long a period have the rate of deaths per mile (DPM) been unchanged? Did the fatality rate drop at all during the 90s? By how much? How does that compare with the DPM rate?

You'll never get a straight answer to these questions out of "safety advocate" organizations because to do so would be to completely undercut their entire reason for existing. The DPM rate is a far more useful statistic in judging highway danger. Overall fatality spikes can always be correlated with improvements in economic conditions, lowering gas prices, cheaper cars, and whatever else causes more people to drive more often. Yet the DPM rate has always gone down because cars, roads, and drivers are all improving.

When causes are looked at objectively, two statistics will immediately jump out... alcohol and inattentiveness. To this day, drunks account for nearly half of all traffic fatalities. Drivers not paying attention or falling asleep account for nearly a quarter of the remainder. Neither would be affected by a "slow the f--- down" campaign, yet addressing them would drop the highway fatality rate by nearly 75%.

But you won't hear these people talking about that, because it denies them the ability to disapprove of everyone else and try to get government to "do something about it". Third parties who think they "know better" than everyone else have been trying to steer our government around for as long as its existed. They actually managed to do it from 1933-1980, with predictably disastrous results*. Now, thankfully, they're mostly reduced to whining and bloviating about whatever toothpick they've chosen to stick in their own ear.

Speed may kill, but only if you get in an accident. Which one would you rather prevent?

* Yeah, I know, "we seem to have done all right from 1941-1945". Hell, even a broken clock is right twice a day.

Posted by scott at 09:07 AM | Comments (2)
August 04, 2004
To Woof, or not to Woof...

Like she said:

best ad ever!

Posted by scott at 09:25 PM | Comments (2)
Alternative Baking

Baking for the unusual person in your life.

XXX due to content, not naughty pixes. I would say NSFW.

Happy baking!

Posted by Ellen at 08:12 PM | Comments (1)
A Ricer, for the Rest of Us

When cardboard, spray paint, and spare time combine: Gimp my Ride. At least it doesn't add 200 lbs to the car. I especially like the "fog lights". The chick modeling with the car is also a nice touch.

Posted by scott at 03:53 PM | Comments (1)
Bird Brain, Dino Head

New Scientist is carrying this article detailing new discoveries about Archeopterix, the earliest well-known ancient bird.

By running a fossil in the London Natural History Museum's collection through a CAT scan, scientists have determined its brain was much more like modern birds than had been previously thought. This has interesting implications for both bird and dinosaur evolution.

Posted by scott at 01:30 PM | Comments (0)
Space Lifeboats is carrying this article discussing NASA's intention to have a "backup" shuttle ready for the first two shuttle missions once they start flying again. If something goes wrong, the goal is for a "rescue" to be mounted before supplies run out on the one in orbit.

As if NASA didn't have enough stuff to spend money on already. Lord knows how much extra it'll cost to have two white elephants in motion at the same time. For awhile there in the 1980s it wasn't uncommon to have shuttles on both launch pads at the same time, launching them (when nothing went wrong) within a month of each other. Looks like those times are here again.

On a related note, during the Apollo 13 crisis, my dad says that NASA started a giant push to get Apollo 14 rolled out to stage a rescue. They called it off when it was realized that even pulling out all the stops would not have a spacecraft ready before supplies ran out on 13. But it was a wild experience.

Personally, all I can say is go Rutan, go!

Posted by scott at 11:27 AM | Comments (1)
Guess I'll be Going to Best Buy Today

Doom 3 is in stores now, and apparently it is very, very good:

You will jump back. A lot. Even if you've played through an area before, even if you know where all the demons are, you will still be jolted because Id's craftsmen did such a careful job orchestrating your claustrophobia. Yes, we may be a little jaded on scripted sequences guiding the action, but this three-ring circus of adrenaline and fear elevates gaming as an art form and puts it on par with Hollywood.

And yes, Virginia, I do have the Uber-system required to play the thing maxed out.

Damn... just when my tan started looking good too...

Posted by scott at 09:48 AM | Comments (3)
August 03, 2004

When taking a road trip in a convertible in high Virginia summer, sunscreen is strongly advised. Because, you see, even though you leave really early in the morning when everything is cool and nice, you'll still be coming back at noon. 95 degrees (35C) with no shade means never having to say you're sorry, sort of thing.

I've owned one of these damned things since 1988. You'd think I'd learn by now. Oh, and Ellen? Touching my ears and making frying noises is only funny on the inside. Mmmkay? :)

Posted by scott at 07:59 PM | Comments (1)
When Taxidermists At-- ... oh Hell, You Know How This Goes...

Proof positive that even medical professionals can have too much time on their hands, we have the mounted frog 69 display. No, really. We're not smart enough to make this stuff up!

Posted by scott at 07:51 PM | Comments (0)
Bah. Who Needs a Ferrari?

Yes, fellow aviation nuts, for just 3.5 million you too can own your very own MiG-29. Why kill yourself doing 150 mph when you can do it going mach 2?

Posted by scott at 04:36 PM | Comments (1)
Speaking of Lying in the Sun...

New Scientist is carrying this story summarizing a new theory about why our earliest fishy ancestors hauled themselves up on land. It suggests that it was all about solar energy. The reasoning goes that simply by lying in the tropical Devonian sun (some 365 million years ago) these creatures could double their metabolic rate, essentially for free. This would in turn make them far more effective predators, and up the ladder they (we, us) went.

Posted by scott at 03:22 PM | Comments (0)
Beats Working

Joshua gets a carrier-based no-prize for bringing us this nifty F-18 game. No, not a sim, but definitely a nice distraction from a hot, muggy Tuesday.

Except for me. I'm off to the pool. Suckers!

Posted by scott at 01:29 PM | Comments (0)
Road Trip

Going to take a road trip in the Spider this morning. Regularly scheduled blogging will continue some time this afternoon.

Posted by scott at 07:25 AM | Comments (0)
August 02, 2004
When Ectoplasm Attacks!

What the hell is this?


IF lightning flies out of my butt, sex would not be the first thing on my mind.

When vampires(ones that don't have buck teeth) and computer geeks have too much time to play with photoshop. This is a good laugh.

Posted by Ellen at 08:22 PM | Comments (0)
Study: Flu in Pregnancy Linked to Schizophrenia

CHICAGO (Reuters) - A bout of the flu during the first half of pregnancy may damage the fetal brain and raises the risk of children developing schizophrenia later in life, researchers said on Monday.

"These findings represent the strongest evidence thus far that prenatal exposure to influenza plays a role in schizophrenia," said the study's lead author, Ezra Susser of the New York State Psychiatric Institute. In previous studies establishing a connection between flu in pregnant mothers and schizophrenia in their children, the link was seen in the second and third trimesters, the study said.

Read entire article here.
Posted by Ellen at 08:03 PM | Comments (0)
Drug Sniffer Dog Dies of Overdose

LONDON (Reuters) - A police sniffer dog died of a suspected overdose while out hunting for drugs, British police said on Monday.

Todd, a 7-year-old Springer spaniel, had been looking for drugs in a field and car in Preston, northern England, when his handler noticed he was looking unwell.

Read entire article here.
Posted by Ellen at 07:59 PM | Comments (0)
When Tree Frogs Attack

Jeff gets a small green no-prize for bringing us this story of just how determined a determined frog can be:

As we're pulling out of the driveway, the Mrs. noticed a tree frog sitting between the cowls on the hood ... Hit 70 and the wind was makin him dance, but he was still cling'n on by his sticky little feet!! ... Right when I'm about to pass [a truck], our little friend jumped out from behind the hood and landed right in the middle of the windshield ... Everyone in the car were just eyeballin this little thing, then all of a sudden, he started hoppin!! Thing is, he wasn't going anywhere cause with each hop the wind just kept blowing him back onto the windshield. So I slowed down to about 50, hoping that he'd be able to hop off on his own....

He hopped and hopped and managed to get over to the left side of the windshield....

Then he jumped onto my left side mirror

He was staring right at me and before I could get the window up, he jumped onto the left lens of my sunglasses!

The site is pretty slow, but the story is well worth it.

Owning a convertible, I don't worry about frogs, I worry about wasps.

Posted by scott at 02:33 PM | Comments (2)
Missed Opportunity

Gah. I went on vacation just when KITT was going up for auction. Heh... Jeff's TA is probably faster, but mine would've had, like, buttons and stuff... heheheheheheh.

Posted by scott at 01:48 PM | Comments (1)
Hello Wha?

Aaron linked up this comprehensive summary of the "Hello, Kitty" phenomenon, which included this "too much information" bon-mot:

Then there are porn stars like [...] Bianca Lee [...] in one photo on her Web site, Lee deploys the Hello Kitty vibrator, a cheerful, pink-plastic instrument equipped with a figurine of the famous feline (clutching a little teddy bear) at one end. Sanrio, which cautiously guards Hello Kitty's wholesome image as far as all of its licensed products are concerned, prefers to call the gadget a "personal massager."

Somehow I don't think either gramma would buy the "really! It's just a personal massager she found!" con. I need to make sure that drawer gets a lock on it soon.

Posted by scott at 01:24 PM | Comments (0)
Quantum Summary

Behold the power of Wikipedia, which recently featured this excellent summary of quantum mechanics. If you've ever wondered what the excitement was all about, and what exactly a damned cat had to do with it, that's the place to start.

Now I need to go soak my head...

Posted by scott at 12:28 PM | Comments (0)
Vodka Varieties Vicious... rmm... Vredictions?

The Vodka drinkers in the audience (we know of at least two) may find this study interesting:

Dr. Allen Hirsch says drinkers who favor vanilla vodka are impetuous grudge holders who love to bask in the limelight.

Meanwhile, those who order raspberry-flavored vodka are charming perfectionists who like challenges but freeze up in front of large groups.

The study was sponsored by Stolichnaya, of course.

Posted by scott at 10:44 AM | Comments (0)
And You Thought "Nixon, the Opera" was Bad

Presenting Debbie Does Dallas, the Musical:

A spoof based on the classic porn film that featured Bambi Woods as a cheerleader who needs to make money through, ahem, sweat and tears to join the pom-pom squad of the Texas football team.

I wonder just how "off" off Broadway this one was?

Posted by scott at 09:28 AM | Comments (0)
Sun Sound is carrying this article detailing new discoveries related to solar "spicules" (giant spike-like formations that regularly appear and disappear on the surface of the sun), and their implications for how the sun functions. Recent research suggests that they are caused by, of all things, sound waves rocketing (rocking?) around and in the sun itself.

Posted by scott at 08:24 AM | Comments (0)

Fark (of all places) linked up what might be the Republican's "secret weapon", elimination of the IRS:

The Speaker of the House will push for replacing the nation's current tax system with a national sales tax or a value added tax, Hill sources tell [The Drudge Report].

Yeah, I know, Drudge. Still, it's awfully tempting to think about. Whether or not this fairs any better in the media than the flat-tax did a decade ago is, of course, an open question. There are extremely powerful interests vested in keeping the tax code as tangled as possible, and they don't all claim to represent the rich.

Posted by scott at 07:23 AM | Comments (0)
August 01, 2004
Strike Three, Yer Out

Instapundit brings us yet another reason to vote against Kerry:

Despite the Bush Administration's harsh stances on marijuana and drug law reform, it seems as though a Kerry Administration may be little better, and very possibly worse. If well-known drug warriors are to be believed, a Kerry Administration may actually be more interested in taking out Mary Jane and her admirers than Bin Laden and his.

This marks the third really large bullet, behind "terrorism as criminal activity" and "deficit? What's a deficit? I need that money to put you all on medicaid!" I can articulate my reasons for supporting the current administration and being against the current democratic candidate. So far the loudest stuff coming from the left is little more than "anything but"'s. Nice to motivate the grass roots, but riding it into the White House will just result in Jimmy Carter, the Sequel. Only this time Iran is already overrun with wackos. With nukes.

I'm not surprised 20-somethings want 1979 back. They only know about the funny suits and weird makeup. I'm flabberghasted anyone born before 1970 can't see "Part II" on the poster.

Posted by scott at 06:57 PM | Comments (1)
More Serial Killers in The Making!

Lucky the bunny is living up to her name.

Lucky, a mixed breed rabbit was rescued after being strapped with explosives and thrown in Lake Don Castro in Castro Valley, Calif. on July 13, 2004.

It had seemed like luck had run out: Strapped to a powerful explosive with a lit fuse, Lucky was tossed into a lake.

But the explosive didn't blow up, and the rabbit was pulled out of the water.

Sigmon said he adopted the bunny after almost running over her with his car, but can no longer care for her because he's starting college this fall at University of California, San Diego, where he plans to study biology.

Read entire article here.
Posted by Ellen at 06:20 PM | Comments (2)

A silly classic with a new twist: the great "felching" broadcast, realized with sock puppets. No hamsters appear to have been harmed in the creation of the film.

Posted by scott at 11:55 AM | Comments (1)
Hormone Courage

New Scientist is carrying this article summarizing a new discovery related to the mechanisms that turn mammalian mothers into ferocious defenders of their young. It would seem the mechanism works through suppression of corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH), which is key in the "fight or flight" hormonal reaction. It's hoped further research will lead to more effective medications for treating psychiatric disorders like depression and panic disorder.

Posted by scott at 10:50 AM | Comments (2)
Roll Your Own

"AMCGLTD," we hear you ask, "I just know GW is behind everything bad happening today, from world stability to my loose tooth filling. But gosh darn it, I just can't find the words to express my discounted, disaffected, and discombobulated thoughts. What can I do?"

Fear not, friendly liberal moonbat! AMCGLTD is here to help! We've found The Conspiracy Generator, your one-stop-shop for blaming not just the Evil Bushitlertm, but his dastardly henchmen. Includes the ability to aim your foil hat at:

  • Ann Coulter
  • White men
  • Oil Companies
  • Jooooos!!!

And many, many more! Supplies are limited, so act now! Remember, Democrats need your help to add "People's Republic of" to the United States!

Posted by scott at 10:11 AM | Comments (3)