March 31, 2005
Let's Pick out The Media Stupidity

Schiavo passed away nearly two weeks after doctors removed her life-sustaining feeding tube and less than 12 hours after her parents' final appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court was rejected.

Read entire article of Terri Schiavo at CNN.

"Mrs. Schiavo died a calm, peaceful and gentle death," Felos told reporters.

Since when is dehydrating and being starved peaceful and gentle?

Terri Schiavo's parents, Bob and Mary Schindler, had begged to be with their firstborn while she drew her last breath but police denied their request, said Brother Paul O'Donnell, the Schindlers' spokesman and spiritual adviser.

This is when the parents kick down the door and beat the shit out of the husband for being such a prick for the past 15 years.

The autopsy report about the cause of death may not be available for several weeks.

Oh I guess the already forgot they starved and dehydrated her. *Here's your sign...*

Posted by Ellen at 06:54 PM | Comments (5)
Deer: 1, Plane: 1

And you thought hitting one with your car was bad:

A small plane crashed into a deer on the runway of a far-flung Miami-Dade County airport this morning.

The twin-prop plane sustained serious damage. The left prop appeared to be destroyed and pieces of flying propeller penetrated the fuselage. A pilot and copilot on board the plane were not hurt.

Bambi's fate? Let's just say it was very quick.

The scariest part is that, from the picture, it would appear at least some of the prop blades departed through the passenger cabin. It seems no passengers were hurt simply because there weren't any. Yikes!

Posted by scott at 03:06 PM | Comments (2)
Monkey See / Monkey Do / Monkey Sign an Autograph for You

I think we may have mentioned the study before, but at any rate ABCnews is taking an in-depth look at indications that our fascination for celebrity may actually be hard-wired into us, and shared by our distant cousins:

Dr. Michael Platt, a neurobiologist at Duke University Medical Center, led an experiment with 12 adult male rhesus macaque monkeys that he says may help explain the fascination with celebrities like socialite Paris Hilton.

Platt conducted the experiment by offering thirsty monkeys a choice: their favorite drink, in this case Juicy Juice cherry juice, or the opportunity to look at computer images of the dominant, "celebrity" monkey of their pack.

Despite their thirst, they chose to look at the pictures.

Even better, male monkeys would pay to see pictures of female's hindquarters. See ladies? We've been pigs for a long time.

Posted by scott at 02:14 PM | Comments (0)
It's Called "Big Sky Country" for a Reason

Let's all take a time out from our busy day and ponder the wonder that is nature. Considering what their winters are like, I think pondering is as close as I want to get.

Posted by scott at 01:14 PM | Comments (1)
Giving the Mind a Hand

While the international desk over at BBC news may be suspect, their science desk seems to be plugging right along, this time bringing us news of a remarkable development in cybernetic research:

Matthew Nagle, 25, was left paralysed from the neck down and confined to a wheelchair after a knife attack in 2001.

The pioneering surgery at New England Sinai Hospital, Massachusetts, last summer means he can now control everyday objects by thought alone.

The brain chip reads his mind and sends the thoughts to a computer to decipher.

And yes, before you ask, it would definitely appear he's able to get himself a beer with this system. If it couldn't do that, it wouldn't be worth having!

Posted by scott at 12:25 PM | Comments (0)
And the Media Goes, "Spin Spin Spin"

Jason notes BBC news forgot to put the right headline on their latest story on Iraq:

The headline, "Iraq Child Malnutrition Rates Cut by Two Thirds" has been abducted from the masthead of the British Broadcasting Service, and replaced with the misleading headline, "Children 'Starving' in New Iraq"

He also notes the New York Times seems to have a problem using the "T-word".

The parallels to earlier predictions are rather striking, no?

Posted by scott at 10:39 AM | Comments (11)
If it Ain't Broke...

Don't fix it:

The European Space Agency’s (ESA) SMART-1 Moon probe had a bit of unexpected engine action. Spacecraft operators last month were surprised to find the craft’s ion motor happily at work.
The event seems to be related to a shift of memory addresses caused by the uploading of a major software patch. The patch was not uploaded to fix a problem, but to provide new functionality for the lunar orbiter’s science instruments, Grahn told

At least it didn't crash into the moon because someone forgot to convert standard to metric.

Posted by scott at 09:45 AM | Comments (0)
From the Mouths of Babes

There's nothing quite like a child's point of view to throw a boomerang at reality, and there's nothing quite like explaining sex to them that gets the boomerang to bounce around a bit:

[My] well-meaning mom also showed me Nova's Miracle of Life in response to the typical kid inquiry, "Where do babies come from?" Bless my mother: I was only five, but wanting to give me a mentally healthy outlook on sex from the get-go, we proceeded to have an hourlong conversation after the video screening about grownup relationships, how intercourse is wonderful, beautiful, natural, healthy, et cetera.

But apparently, in her zeal to instill in me a positive notion of sex, we failed to fully discuss the mechanics. At the close of the conversation, Mom asked if I had any questions. I paused, looked up at her with wide eyes, and said, "Does Daddy know about this?"

One of the biggest questions I had was, "do people have to get naked to do this?" When answered affirmative, my six year old reaction was "ug! I don't want to be naked around girls*! No way am I doing that!"

Funny enough, around the age of 13 getting naked with girls started sounding a lot more interesting.

Olivia? Oh Olivia's going into a convent, no need to worry there... :)

* In 1974, to a six year old at least, "gay" still meant happy. I think two years later the punk-ass preacher kid learned what it also meant and, I'm not making this up, got up in front of class and did his best imitation of what must've been a male street walker during a "guess who I am" game. We thought he looked like a spastic chicken, and told him so.

"No you idiots, I'm gay!"

"So, um, you're a happy chicken?"

"No! Sha! You all are so stupid!" (there is nothing, nothing more arrogant than the child of a powerful preacher) "I'm gay. It means I like guys."

We all stared, dumbfounded. "And...?"

None of us knew what he was talking about, and the teachers were too mortified to explain it clearly. When we finally got a clear answer out of the little snot, the general reaction of my group was "well, if it'll keep girls like Agnes from beating on us, maybe we'll be gay when we grow up!"

Posted by scott at 08:37 AM | Comments (0)
March 30, 2005


This is haircut #2 for Olivia.

Posted by Ellen at 08:19 PM | Comments (3)
Fuzzy Logic!

newstove Small Web view.jpg

Our new stove. We are total SIMS!

Posted by Ellen at 08:08 PM | Comments (1)
Cleared for Flight (Woot II)

The Spider passed its alignment test just fine. The camber is frozen about 1 degree negative right now, about .5 degrees out of spec, because the alignment guy didn't want to hurt anything freeing up the frozen adjuster. Not a big deal at all, considering how little I drive it... just adds a bit of understeer. I'll break the adjusters loose next winter and get it re-aligned next spring.

Ferget that... now I get to look forward to 9 months of sweet sweet Alfa Spider driving. Bruum-Bruum!

Posted by scott at 07:19 PM | Comments (0)
Belly Dance CGI

Pretty cool!! You should all check it out!

Posted by Ellen at 04:02 PM | Comments (6)
Probably Goes well With "PETA" Bread

What happens when you combine the finest in moonbattery with a bit of whimsy? The Cannibal Flesh Doner Program, that's what.

You know, I might be willing to at least listen to some of these ideas if it weren't patently obvious their proponents were purile loons. The sad thing is, having read a great deal about the various protest movements in the 1950s and 1960s, they really haven't changed at all. These are the same wacky ideas and self-destructive indulgences their grandparents engaged in. The only thing that changes is the hairstyle.

Via Reflections in D Minor.

Posted by scott at 03:46 PM | Comments (0)

Great, just what I needed, another cat song for Ellen to obsess over. Hey, at least it's for a good cause!

Posted by scott at 02:00 PM | Comments (0)
Umm... Wha?!?

Weirdest. Flash. Game. Evah

And from us, that's saying something.

Posted by scott at 01:59 PM | Comments (0)
God's Own BB Gun?

Everyone knows when the sky fell on the dinosaurs 65 million years ago it was bad. But they may not know just how bad it got:

The asteroid that struck the Yucatan Peninsula 65 million years ago presumably initiated the extinction of the dinosaurs. The huge collision also unleashed a worldwide downpour of tiny BB-sized mineral droplets, called spherules.

The hard rain did not pelt the dinosaurs to death.

But the planet-covering residue left behind may tell us something about the direction of the incoming asteroid, as well as possible extinction scenarios, according to new research. The falling spherules might have heated the atmosphere enough to start a global fire, as one example.

BBs hot enough and numerous enough to set a whole planet on fire? Yeah, color me glad the closest ancestor we had at the time was small enough to hide in a cave.

Posted by scott at 12:26 PM | Comments (0)
Keg Magic

See, there's two ways you can figure out how much beer is in a keg. You can measure the outside of it, figure out how much each component weighs, do a lot of fancy math, and probably come out with a really precise answer. Or, you can do what they did:

How much is inside a keg? Any college sophomore can tell you it is 15 gallons, but how many servings is that, and how many gallons should you plan for each guest?

On Saturday night, we decided to find out.

Back in college we used to get a pony every weekend. It was a lot cheaper than buying cans and, since you could drink whatever amount you liked instead of a fixed 12 oz, it lasted longer. We kept each one of the plastic caps that covered the tap ring, and enjoyed watching freshmen goggle at the wall of circles we built up over a semester.

Good times, good times...

Posted by scott at 10:25 AM | Comments (0)
Scale Magic

New Scientist is carrying this article summarizing the development of a new type of scale capable of measuring "zeptograms" (10-21g). It's done using a vibrating blade of silicon carbide only 100 nanometers long.

The device already has potential uses in biomedical and environmental research. If researchers can make it even more sensitive, the device has the potential to diagnose diseases very early by identifying single marker molecules in a drop of blood.

Posted by scott at 08:57 AM | Comments (0)
Finally, Star Wars Films that Don't Suck

Slashdot's got this story that links up the best entries in the 2005 Star Wars Fan Film awards. I just got done watching Sith Apprentice, and it was a scream. Highly recommended!

Posted by scott at 07:23 AM | Comments (0)
March 29, 2005
Johnnie Cochran is dead at 67

Famed attorney Johnnie Cochran, 67, perhaps best known for his defense of O.J. Simpson, died Tuesday at his home in Los Angeles.

Read entire article here.

We still think OJ is guilty. I'm sure Cochran will find out.

No-Prize to Rich who notified us of the news break.

Posted by Ellen at 06:43 PM | Comments (2)
Well, I bet You Didn't Know Either

Today's useless bit of pseudo-trivia is brought to us courtesy of The Etymology of Jesus H. Christ.

Nah, I'm not sure I believe it either, kinda smacks of "after-the-fact-ism" to me. But who knows. Next up, an explanation of Shiva H. Vishnu.

Posted by scott at 03:16 PM | Comments (2)
~ We Like the Moon / 'Cos it is Close to Us ~ is carrying this summary of the recently held 36th Lunar and Planetary Science Conference. Provides a nice update on where pretty much every active field of lunar research is at the moment. There's actually a surprisingly large amount of research being done on our closest natural celestial neighbor.

Posted by scott at 02:12 PM | Comments (0)
A New "Modest Proposal?"

At first, I was quite outraged when I stumbled across this:

Nationally recognized geneticist William A. Doty and clinician Joseph Peacock began a program in private practice whereupon overweight men in the Bay Area could receive vasectomies free of charge. Their philosophy: When engaging in clinical decision making, physicians tend to value primarily information about the effect of treatments on physiological functioning and disease progression, rather than information about the impact on the patient's quality of life [9-11]. By focusing on the quality of life of future generations, we greatly improve the psychological impact of genetics on the human condition.

But then I thought, "that's stupid... this would only work if you talked them into a vasectomy before they had kids." Then my Landover Baptist Church warning system kicked in.

Not wanting to give Joshua another opportunity to place a whoopie cushion under my intellectual arrogance, I decided to do a bit of digging. The story was linked up on FARK, so I went trolling in the comments. Once I waded through the inevitable eltist eugenic "what a great idea, fat people = stupid!" crap, sure enough someone else had discovered the rest of the site looked an awful lot like this one.

So I'm going to call this one satire, although I'm not completely sure I understand its point. Which I find a little worrisome, since satire is nearly always missed by its intended targets. However, with a little squinting I could see it as a jibe at the whole "the state knows best, obey the state" stance that liberals, especially California liberals, are justly famous for. So I'll call it that for now. To quote a certain Cheshire Cat:

"Tell yourself, 'I've seen worse at Rutledge's.' Prevarication, in this instance, may help."

Posted by scott at 01:11 PM | Comments (0)
Cracks in the Wall?

Instapundit linked up this evaluation of recent events in Iraq:

The Iraqi resistance has peaked and is 'turning in on itself', according to recent intelligence reports from Baghdad received by Middle Eastern intelligence agencies.

The reports are the most optimistic for several months and reflect analysts' sense that recent elections in Iraq marked a 'quantum shift'. They will boost the government in the run-up to the expected general election in May.

This echoes similar assessments in the Post and other MSM outlets. As with the economic recovery, the evidence is simply becoming too obvious to ignore. Since the liberal media cannot allow such progress to be attributed to ideological rivals, we are seeing not so much reportage as a rather startling reversal of spin. As with the Regan recovery in the 1980s, reports of "continuing recession" and "ongoing violence" are being replaced not with acknowledgement of improvement, but instead with "the imminent end of the current recovery" and "in spite of positive developments, violence continues."

I also won't hesitate to point out the oft-predicted apocalyptic collapse of Iraq into civil war keeps not happening. As with all such escatological prophecies, instead of letting go of an obviously false premise, this will merely mean the deadline will be quietly pushed back by its adherents.

I don't care. They're still going to owe me a pizza.

Posted by scott at 12:00 PM | Comments (0)
At Least it's not in Arkansas

Heritage USA, meet Heritage UK:

A BUSINESSWOMAN has launched a £144 million mission to win youthful converts to Christianity by creating Britain’s first biblical theme park.
Before leaving Ark Alive, billed as the place “where Disney meets the Bible”, children would also have the experience of expulsion from the Garden of Eden, being swallowed by a whale, escaping from a lion’s den and walking on water.

Great. Like the Empress in Training would really need a Jesus complex to feel more powerful. Trust me, Olivia has already decided "no" is something she says to other people. She doesn't need any help.

Speaking of Heritage USA, it would appear to have been abandoned some time ago, and now seems to have become the weirdest ghost town on the planet.

Posted by scott at 09:51 AM | Comments (0)
Insert "Pahk the Cah" Joke Here

Mahmood linked up this nifty "stream-of-consciousness" reminisce about a fellow Bahraini's college time in Boston. The funny thing is I get the impression Nina feels nearly as strange in that town as this guy did. Of course, New York might as well be another country...

Posted by scott at 09:02 AM | Comments (0)
I Think I'd Probably Just See Stars

Liz gets a leather-bound no-prize for bringing us news of a rather interesting new technique for treating depression:

Russian scientists recommend the following course of the whipping therapy: 30 sessions of 60 whips on the buttocks in every procedure. A group of drug addicts volunteered to test the new method of treatment: the results can be described as good and excellent.

Oklahoma! Oklahoma!


Posted by scott at 08:01 AM | Comments (0)
March 28, 2005

"So Scott, if Ellen is so evil and cat obsesed and all, why do you put up with her anyway?"

Well, ya see, it's like this. The worst part is, she knows exactly how to use it.

To paraphrase:

Do you love [her, Scott?]
Aw, ma, I love [her] awful.
Oh, God, that's too bad.

Special thanks to Bluelens for doing it right. Oh, and Joshua, when Olivia turns 16? Fuggedaboudit. Between the two of them I'll have enough problems just avoiding cardiac arrest.

Posted by scott at 07:19 PM | Comments (0)
Old Friends, Long Gone

A rather firey debate over at Politburo Diktat got me reminiscing about the good ol' days of USENET and It was there, and on the various related alt. groups, that I transformed from a bright and shiny newbie into the grizzled, obnoxious, sarcastic, shrike-like, unreasonable, argumentative, "last-word-in-before-I-die" bastard you all know and love. And I was just a junior member. In the time before the September that Never Ended, old-timers could slice up a newbie creationist so quickly and so efficiently it would make a samurai take up gardening.

Which leads me (in my usual direct and concise way) to what I think is the best description of what, exactly, happened every September in those halcyon days, when sheltered fundamentalist teenagers jumped onto a forum meant to, in their bright and shiny minds, teach us all the error of our evolutionary ways:

We have seen now all the typical [creationist] exits and one highly unusual non-exit. The usuals:

  1. Rush into the debate with all guns blazing (i.e. evolution can't be proved, the 2nd law argument, "macroevolution" has never been observed, there are gaps in the fossil record, etc., nobody saw me do it, you can't prove anything). Have head handed to you. Whimper smugly about how mistreated you are. Leave.
  2. Rush into the debate etc. Have head handed to you. Disappear without even a goodbye or a f**k you.
  3. Rush into the debate etc. Have head handed to you. Claim that all your assertions are "common knowledge". Redirect followups so that they are never seen. Leave.
  4. Rush into the debate etc. Have head handed to you. Continue to post sniping one liners (sometimes for years) without ever answering a single question or including a bit of content in your posts.
And the unusual one.
  1. Rush into the debate etc. Have head handed to you. Some how wade through all the vitriol from both sides and decide that evolution might actually be _interesting_. Visit a library. Learn something. Continue to post but from a position of greater knowledge rather than continual, aggressive ignorance (not that the poster I am referring to, John Gonzalez, ever was aggressively ignorant. Remember, I am carefully speaking in generalities).

Anyway, one way or another they always leave. Kind of sad, really. Like losing a stupid yet well-loved pet.

Crusty USENETers... I do miss them so... *sniff*

Posted by scott at 03:01 PM | Comments (2)
Right Game, Wrong Expansion

The good news: Halo 2 expansion coming soon.

The bad news: It's not going to address what we really want:

Call it Halo 2: Combat Expanded. After much speculation, Bungie today announced plans to release an expansion for its popular first-person shooter, Halo 2. It will not, however, contain a single-player portion that many hoped might wrap up Halo 2's abrupt campaign mode ending.

Basically, a pack of multiplayer maps. Which will be fun for the occasional Halo-day, but I'm not sure it'll be worth the $20 they're gonna charge.

Halo 3? No word on that, but Microsoft would be insane to use anything else to launch their upcoming X-box 2.

Posted by scott at 01:54 PM | Comments (0)
Solar Sail Soon to Start Soaring

Spaceflightnow is carrying this update on the Planetary Society's upcoming launch of a revolutionary solar sail design. Dubbed "Cosmos 1", this blade-like structure will take a ride on a converted ICBM. It's scheduled to be launched (from a submarine no less) some time in April or May.

Posted by scott at 12:59 PM | Comments (0)
Time Machines Time Machines Everywhere / Yet not a Clock to Tick

People who've seen Napoleon Dynamite will recognize this, and be amazed. They really do exist!

What? Haven't seen the movie yet? Ugh! Gross! Freakin' idiot!

Yeah, I know, I know, "get out more" ... it's raining outside... Ugh! Idiot!

Posted by scott at 11:47 AM | Comments (0)
Tsunami Summary

BBCnews is carrying this article providing a very interesting point-by-point summary of last year's tsunami disaster. Scary stuff!

Posted by scott at 10:15 AM | Comments (0)
Also Works for NW Arkansas


Actual conversation, related to me by a hunting friend:

Friend's Dad: "Be careful what you're shooting out there. Look for orange, don't shoot orange. We want to shoot deer, not people."

Friend: "What about the black-and-white spotted deer that weigh 1,000 pounds?"

Friend's Dad: "No cows either."

Posted by scott at 09:13 AM | Comments (0)
Sacred Cologne?

Ellen's always badgering me to wear aftershave or cologne, but somehow I think even she would draw the line before I got to this stuff:

A worker with India's main opposition party displays an antiseptic aftershave made of cow urine at a stall in party headquarters in New Delhi February 25, 2005.

Of course, nowadays a modern chemical plant can turn just about any fluid into any other fluid with relative ease, so who knows what it actually smells like. Well, actually I don't care, but you can go find out and tel me.

Posted by scott at 08:16 AM | Comments (0)
March 27, 2005
Happy Birthday Coconut!

Happy Birthday to Coconut!


Posted by Ellen at 03:53 PM | Comments (5)

The spider has officially emerged from winter hibernation, with six new tie rod ends and two new upper control arm ball joints! Thanks go out to everyone on the Alfa digest, who's "yes, that was kinda dumb, but if you do this you'll be fine" comments kept me from getting too nervous, and to Ellen, who's last minute assistance ensured the front wheels weren't pointing in different directions.

Oh it still pulls a little to the right, and the steering wheel isn't quite straight, but I was expecting that. One trip to the alignment shop should be all it needs for a full season of driving. Improvements? Oh I only thought the steering was responsive. Now that all the worn-out stuff has been renewed, you can nearly feel the texture of the asphalt through the steering wheel. It's a good thing.

Posted by scott at 02:27 PM | Comments (0)
March 26, 2005

Rob E. gets a shabby but noble no-prize for bringing us The Old Negro Space Program, a brilliant parody of a Ken Burns production. I especially like the "poiniant soldier's letter" segment. Highly recommended.

"The Old Negro Space Program - the shocking-but-false story of America's Blackstronauts."

Posted by scott at 08:41 AM | Comments (0)
Damned Time Machines are Popping Up Everywhere

No, I'm not switching over to DeLoreans, I just think they're interesting cars and in the spotlight with the recent passing of John DeLorean. However, DeLorean nuts should be interested to learn they can buy a "remanufactured" DMC-12, with prices starting at $37,000. Maybe mom can trade in her new car on one of these!

Posted by scott at 08:27 AM | Comments (0)
March 25, 2005
That's Captain Nemo Guevara to You, Bub

Have submarine, will smuggle:

Colombian police have found a homemade submarine capable of carrying $200 million (107.8 million pounds) worth of cocaine on a Pacific Ocean smuggling mission, police say.

Police, who acted on a tip, made no arrests after finding the submarine hidden in the port of Tumaco, near the border with Ecuador, the Administrative Security Department detective force said on Friday.

~ We do blow in a yellow submarine ~

Posted by scott at 02:01 PM | Comments (0)
Jet Jumpin'

Aviation Week is carrying this close-up look at the Blue Angels. They're scheduled to be in this area in mid-May. Let's all hope for clear skies!

Posted by scott at 12:50 PM | Comments (0)
Mmm... Blasphemy...

Just in time for the holday! WWJSL? (What Would Jesus Smell Like?) I dunno, I guess I am a little curious as to what, exactly, myrrh smells like. Not sure if I'd want it in a candle or not.

Posted by scott at 11:42 AM | Comments (0)
But is it Art?

Ron gets a no-prize people will stare at with their heads cocked sideways for bringing us proof of what we've suspected all along:

Many a visitor to New York's Museum of Modern Art has probably thought, "I could do that."

A British graffiti artist who goes by the name "Banksy" went one step further, by smuggling in his own picture of a soup can and hanging it on a wall, where it stayed for more than three days earlier this month before anybody noticed.

Probably the weirdest "modern art" exhibit I ever saw was at the Hirschorn in, I think, 1996. They were featuring some artist specializing in "ancient Korean glazes" or some such thing. Turned out the exhibit consisted of giant squares, all painted slightly different shades of olive green. The redneck sorta just leapt out of me and I think I said, a bit too loudly, "oh hell all you need for this is a Home Depot and a power painter!"

I tend to be amused by such nonsense. Ellen wants to set things on fire.

Posted by scott at 10:16 AM | Comments (1)
At Least She's Dying with Her Boots On

Jeff gets a noble but doomed no-prize for bringing us news of USS America's curious fate:

The Navy plans to send the retired carrier USS America to the bottom of the Atlantic in explosive tests this spring, an end that is difficult to swallow for some who served on board.

The Navy says the effort, which will cost $22 million, will provide valuable data for the next generation of aircraft carriers, which are now in development. No warship this size or larger has ever been sunk, so there is a dearth of hard information on how well a supercarrier can survive battle damage, said Pat Dolan, a spokeswoman for Naval Sea Systems Command.

One part of me thinks, "what a shame." But then I remember what Coral Sea looked like as she was ignominiously dismantled in Baltimore harbor and I think, "at least it's a good death."

Of course, there's also this tiny Mythbusters-like voice in the back of my head giggling about getting to blow up something that big. You can take the boy out of the playground...

Posted by scott at 09:07 AM | Comments (3)
Blood and Bone

On the front page of the Post today: scientists have discovered soft tissue remains inside a T-Rex fossil. Apparently it was just dumb luck... they had to cut apart a femur fossil to get it to fit in a helicopter, and there the stuff was. They're playing down the "Jurassic Park DNA" angle right now, because it's not clear at all if DNA itself has survived. But it would appear that nearly everything else did. Even more interesting, they think there's probably more of this stuff inside bones already collected, simply because nobody had ever thought to look.

Soft tissue remains after 70 million years. Whodathunkit?

Update: This MSNBC article covers the same ground but includes the pictures that were found in the Post's print edition.

Posted by scott at 08:15 AM | Comments (1)
Gothic Art


Posted by Ellen at 07:09 AM | Comments (0)
March 24, 2005
Beat This!

Hey Amber!!

Do you think your sister would get pissed off if I brought this to your bridal luncheon?

Posted by Ellen at 09:06 PM | Comments (2)
Music with Wings!

As featured on South Park!

Don't forget to check the samples!

It's like Chinese food for your ears!

Posted by Ellen at 08:26 PM | Comments (0)
How Many...

Blogs aren't quite like USENET groups or other discussion boards, but I've participated in enough of both to get a real kick out of this.

(Shamelessly stolen from bluelens)

How many discussion group posters does it take to change a lightbulb?

1 to change the light bulb and to post that the light bulb has been changed

14 to share similar experiences of changing light bulbs and how the light bulb could have been changed differently

7 to caution about the dangers of changing light bulbs

7 to point out spelling/grammar errors in posts about changing light bulbs

5 to flame the spell checkers

3 to correct spelling/grammar flames

6 to argue over whether it's "lightbulb" or "light bulb"

... another 6 to condemn those 6 as anal-retentive

2 industry professionals to inform the group that the proper term is "lamp"

15 know-it-alls who claim they were in the industry, and that "light bulb" is perfectly correct

19 to post that this forum is not about light bulbs and to please take this discussion to a lightbulb forum

11 to defend the posting to this forum saying that we all use light bulbs and therefore the posts are relevant to this forum

36 to debate which method of changing light bulbs is superior, where to buy the best light bulbs, what brand of light bulbs work best for this technique and what brands are faulty

7 to post URL's where one can see examples of different light bulbs

4 to post that the URL's were posted incorrectly and then post the corrected URL's

3 to post about links they found from the URL's that are relevant to this group which makes light bulbs relevant to this group

13 to link all posts to date, quote them in their entirety including all headers and signatures, and add "Me too"

5 to post to the group that they will no longer post because they cannot handle the light bulb controversy

4 to say "didn't we go through this already a short time ago?"

13 to say "do a Google search on light bulbs before posting questions about light bulbs"

1 forum lurker to respond to the original post 6 months from now and start it all over again.

Posted by scott at 07:54 PM | Comments (1)
Speaking of the DeLorean

The Wikipedia entry for the DMC-12 is actually very good. 0-60 in 10 seconds, $56,000 in today's dollars. The thing is, in 1981 a 10-second 0-60 was actually decent. That's how far performance had fallen in the Nader heaven of the 70s. Crazy as it sounds, our Cruiser (which sometimes feels like it can be passed by energetic bicyclers) would actually give this swoopy thing a run for its money. Ah, progress...

Posted by scott at 07:18 PM | Comments (0)
Mmm... Tasty...

No, really, you just can't make this stuff up:

A diner at a Wendy’s fast food restaurant in San Jose, California, found a human finger in a bowl of chili prepared by the chain, local officials said on Wednesday.

“This individual apparently did take a spoonful, did have a finger in their mouth and then, you know, spit it out and recognized it,” said Ben Gale, director of the department of environmental health for Santa Clara County. “Then they had some kind of emotional reaction and vomited.

Ya think?

What I'm wondering is... fingers are, you know, kind of important to people. Folks normally will notice their sudden absence. Maybe Wendy's is secretly involved with a Yakuza-run processing plant?

Posted by scott at 02:49 PM | Comments (0)
Ron, I Now Have your Wedding Present

I mean, who wouldn't want a lawnmower-engined hoverboard. That's waybetter than some boring china or silverware set. I mean, if you can't put yourself in the emergency room with it, why do you want it the first place?

Oh no Amber, you can thank me later!

Posted by scott at 01:55 PM | Comments (1)
It's a Car! No! It's a Time Machine!

In rememberance of John DeLorean's passing, we have this BBCnews article about how his DMC12 is faring in the UK. We spot DeLoreans toodling around our neighborhood once or twice a year... about as often as we see Lamborghinis but far less often than Ferraris (being near the biggest Ferarri dealership in the mid-Atlantic has its advantages). There seems to be one person around here who owns one still in its classic brushed metal finish, while another has one painted red. Why paint them? Well, you can't do conventional bodywork and maintain that finish, so I'm figuring the red one must've gotten pranged at some point.

Still, I certainly wouldn't push one out of my garage!

Posted by scott at 12:33 PM | Comments (0)
Naked Lunch?

Personally, I think it would be better if they ran with the bulls:

The annual "running of the bulls" in the northern Spanish town of Pamplona could get some serious competition this year, in the form of a rival run by naked humans protesting cruelty to animals.

The People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) group, which has protested against the event in the past, even announced that it was asking the town authorities to replace the traditional bull-chase with its "running of the nudes."

I mean, anything that gets obnoxious hippies run over is fine by me. Too bad that's not what they're asking. Wusses.

Look, I never said I was a good buddhist, okay?

Posted by scott at 11:38 AM | Comments (0)
At Least Now We Know What that Stuff in the X-Files was

I'm currently finishing up The Fabric of the Cosmos, in which a surprisingly large number of head-crunching cosmological theories are discussed in a lighthearted tone with small words and pretty pictures*. The latest disturbing thing I've run across in the book (well, I think... see the footnote below) is that, entropically speaking at least, black holes have a surface.

No, don't ask me to explain it, because I'll just sound even dumber than I already do (oh be quiet, I can too! ... Waitaminute...) Anyway now it would appear not only do they have a surface, they're also a liquid. At least in ten dimensions. I think. Gah... I'm going to go soak my head now...

* I'm an anthropology graduate specifically because I'm horrible at math. Horrible. Yet, in one of those great karmic ironies, I'm also fascinated with physics and astronomy. So, how to explain the universe's inner workings to someone with (in this field) a comprehension level slightly below that of a kumqwat? Lighthearted sentences, pretty pictures, and small words. Even then I've had to set the thing down and walk away a few times feeling like someone had just hit me over the head with bag of buckshot.

Posted by scott at 10:47 AM | Comments (5)
Welcome Back, Carter-San

Culture shock! Get your culture shock here:

One day after class, a ninensei girl walked up to me, and out of nowhere proudly exclaimed "Spread your legs!" Perhaps mistaking the look of shocked bewilderment on my face for misunderstanding, she stuck her chest out and repeated it even louder - "Spread your legs!"

She then produced a book of colloquial English expressions. Apparently. She'd taken the phrase from the police know, "Get out of the car! Against the wall! Spread your legs!" She had just randomly selected "Spread your legs!" and decided to hit me with it one day.

It's a well-written diary detailing an American teacher's experiences instructing Japanese middle schoolers in English. So far no tentacles, but with the Japanese anything is possible.

Highly recommended if you like inside looks at outside cultures.

Posted by scott at 09:23 AM | Comments (0)
Death by Sun

Free time + shop skills + lots of mirrors =

The Solar Death Ray!!!

Actually, it looks like a home-built version of a giant flower-thing they had outside the Pentagon back in, I think, 1999. As I recall it was part of a "solar external combustion" experiement, although most people assumed they were talking to little green men or something.

Posted by scott at 08:18 AM | Comments (0)
March 23, 2005
One Down, One to Go?

I can't help but think our old friend the Bishop must be involved with these people somehow:

he leader of a secretive Spanish sect who said he was the true Pope and that the Vatican was controlled by the devil has died, a town hall official said Tuesday.

Unfortunately he wasn't crucified, and therefore the apocalypse would seem to have been delayed once more. Nothing quite as annoying as the world ignoring one's eschatological prophecies. Well, I guess it did in fact end for him.

Posted by scott at 03:20 PM | Comments (0)
Well, Would You Look for a Shipwreck in a Cave?

The Egyptologists in the audience should find this New Scientist article interesting:

The first remains of ancient Egyptian seagoing ships ever to be recovered have been found in two caves on Egypt's Red Sea coast, according to a team at Boston University in the US.

There's a decent chance these are remains of some of the ships sent out by Queen Hatshepsut on a famous expedition to the mysterious land of "Punt", thought to be modern Yemen. If true, it would be the first hard evidence that trade across the Red Sea was ocurring during this time period.

Of course, as with everything involving 3500 year old relics, it's not completely certain.

Just for reference, when these boats were built, some thirty five centuries ago, the pyramids were already a thousand years old.

Posted by scott at 02:16 PM | Comments (0)
They Look Like Nuns on Wires to Me

~ Bad Burkhas Bad Burkahs Cha-dor Cha-dor / Whatcha gonna do? / Whatcha gonna do when dey come for you? ~

The first part looks like the above mentioned nuns on wires. The second reminds me of a giant female Three Stooges fan club. The third, well the third makes me think of the Keystone Cops. Only, you know, with robes.

Let's remember folks... never let logic get in the way of religio-political beliefs! We must enforce purity to uphold the revolution!

Posted by scott at 01:13 PM | Comments (2)
Ok, Now We're Living in Cartoon Science Fiction

Joshua gets a precise but annoying no-prize for bringing us the ultimate in robotic timepieces:

Scientists at MIT's Media Lab in the United States have invented an alarm clock called Clocky to make even the doziest sleepers, who repeatedly hit the snooze button, leap out of bed.

After the snooze button is pressed, the clock, which is equipped with a set of wheels, rolls off the table to another part of the room.

Well, actually, in our house it would roll off the table into another room, where it would be mugged by a 2'11" monster who would hug it, kiss it, squeeze it, say "bah-CHA! badeebedabeeboo CHA!" to it, try to stuff cheese balls into it, then leave it wheels-up in the middle of the floor.

Some scientists say stairs are the greatest impediment to household robots. These people do not have children. If they did, they would realize the real danger to any small complex object is toddlers.

Posted by scott at 11:53 AM | Comments (0)
~ The Ey-es of Bill are Apon You ~

Everyone's favorite Science Guy is back, this time with a new more "adult-oriented" show. Program listing doesn't show any DC-area airings scheduled at this point, hopefully that'll change. Time to tinker with the Tivo!

Posted by scott at 10:33 AM | Comments (0)
Swiss Army Plants

Washington Post today carried this article summarizing a remarkable discovery in plant genetics. It seems that plants can "fix" their genes with copies from ancestors long gone:

The newly discovered phenomenon, which resembles the caching of early versions of a computer document for viewing later, allows plants to archive copies of genes from generations ago, long assumed to be lost forever.

Great. I can't remember where I put my car keys this morning, but my house plant can call up the genetic code of its ancestors. Sometimes life just don't seem fair.

Posted by scott at 09:29 AM | Comments (1)
Another Day, Another Loon

This time Fark leads us to the obvious conclusion that the government created the 9-11 plot in 1976. Damn that Jimmy Carter... I knew he was up to no good!

Posted by scott at 08:35 AM | Comments (0)
March 22, 2005
Beads on a String

Spaceflightnow is carrying this nifty Saturn photo showing the great rings edge-on, with orbiting "shephard" moons slowly gliding past.

Posted by scott at 02:50 PM | Comments (0)
Latte Art

Behold the power of coffee.

Via Mahmood.

Posted by scott at 01:35 PM | Comments (0)
You are Feeling Sleepy... Very Sleepy...

Ron gets a drowsy yet over-analyzed no-prize for bringing us this "by chicks for chicks" look at how the way a couple sleeps together speaks about their relationship:

Like Shingles (on a Roof)
One partner (typically the man) lies face up in what Dr. Dunkell calls the "royal" position (bespeaking a strong ego and a sense of entitlement). Although the woman also lies on her back, her head is on his shoulder, suggesting, says Dr. Dunkell, she is the more dependent and compliant partner: "By looking at the world from the same perspective as his, she achieves a strengthening sense of comradeship and protection."

Having been trapped in the upstairs bathroom with nothing but chick magazines to read a few times, I can say that all women's magazines seem to be written this way. No wonder the most popular young western female archetype seems to be Bridgette Jones. It's the magazines that turn them into hyper-analyzed neurotic bundles of incomprehensibility.

So do us all a favor ladies. Put down that Redbook or Cosmopolitan and pick up an issue of Road and Track or Sports Illustrated instead. Your significant other will thank you!

Posted by scott at 11:55 AM | Comments (1)
You Can't Make This Stuff Up

In the "Just in Case You Haven't Lost All Hope in Humanity" file, we have this... interesting... admission:

A Belgian man on trial for having sex with dogs claims he did it out of compassion for man's best friend, a Belgian paper said on Friday.

Well... now isn't that just special. *blink* *blink*

Posted by scott at 10:12 AM | Comments (1)
Couldn't Smell any Worse than Patchouli

BBCnews is carrying this article summarizing the discovery of a Bronze Age perfume "factory". The site includes an olive press, copper smelting works, and a winery. By examining traces found on buried pottery, scientists have reconstituted 12 different perfumes. It's thought that ancient Crete (Minoans) was the primary customer, and that the earthquake that destroyed the factory actually played a key role in preserving its artifacts.

Posted by scott at 09:17 AM | Comments (0)
Sub Update

Fark linked up a more detailed account of the sunken super sub this morning, and this one includes some pictures.

Posted by scott at 08:13 AM | Comments (0)
March 21, 2005
~ Letters, We Get Your Letters / We Get Your Letters Every Day ~

Hooray! After three years of trying, we have finally received our first hate letter! You'd think after all these fart jokes and right wing lunacy we'd have legions of loons beating down our door. Not so! We were quite disappointed, quite disappointed indeed, at the utter lack of frothing hate mail. I mean, there was that incident last year, but they were too weird to really have any fun with. This, though, this is a different matter entirely...

Idea lifted from IMAO, but Nina gets a no-prize for helping us with the mad-lib.

Oh yeah, that's our innovation. Items in italics have been mad-libbed with the gracious help of Ellen's sister, mostly to improve comprehension. No, really!

dude what the monkey are you trying to say with all this stupid zombie door knob, and whats up with you talking all this jacket, you sound like some kind of pathetic fire eating midget/secretary with absolutly [sic] nothing butter [sic] to do with your time. you suck bro, i bet you are one seriously lame computer arent you, come on now fess up you sad security blanket, have you ever had a nice quality piece of bear.........didnt think so anyway swipe you and anyone who looks like you, and a free piece of advise [sic] pal, get your little panties out of a wade [sic], and quit writting [sic] stupid jack on the internet, later robber

j, 24, king of it all

one last tip- try this man, read some hunter s thompson material, listen to some Sublime, rent the movies natural born killers and almost famous, and chill your clipboard out, that is if you can manage to pull yourself away from online porn for one whole

you can thank me at [an address, although it came from a different one, go figure].......................librarian

Of course, we simply could not let this go...

Thank you for your letter! We here at AMCGLTD enjoy feedback and appreciate your response!

However, we are a bit confused... are we talking with "jdythmpsn" (Judy Thompson?) or "jsh_whthd" (Josh Whitehead?) We'll just assume it's you Josh (can we call you Josh? Good.), because writing mail like this using your mom's AOL account is just, well, lame. We'll copy both addresses just in case.

We must say Josh, we found your correspondence quite amusing. It's not often we get to hear from the ricer white-boy wigger crowd. We're so glad you could take time off patrolling your 'hood at the food court to write us! We're not quite sure what butter has to do with anything, but we'll trust you on that. We also find your creative use of commas as an all-purpose punctuation mark quite innovative, although I must say we can't really imitate it, it just must be a talent of yours,

As to the quality of our "bear" Josh, well, we can only speculate your fascination with it must definitely be a sign of interest. Sorry though, we'll have to pass. It's quite commonly understood in pop-psych circles that misdirected rage in males is often inversely proportional to the size of their penis, which to us strongly indicates that, not to put too fine a point on it, your envy of the male mosquito's endowment must be rather hard to bear at times.

And we must thank you for your tips Josh! We had no idea people with a reading comprehension at the 4th grade level could even *spell* Hunter S. Thompson, let alone read him. While we have it on good authority Sublime is, well, dead, we would rather like to dedicate the last verse of Santeria to you, our newest fan. Consider it a heartfelt expression of our truest, deepest feelings.

Yours sincerely,

The editors at AMCGLTD

The next question will be, of course... will he write back? I'm betting yes, but I'm not doing too well with online poker right now (fake money mom, fake money). Any takers?

Posted by scott at 07:07 PM | Comments (1)

"Blackie is safe and warm with me and my family of 3 kitties. She has instantly bonded with our autistic child, and I cannot think of separating them. The reward is of no comparison to the amount of love and joy she brings to my daughter's heart. I know this will not assuage your grief, but know she is well looked after, loved and always will be. Regards, MN."

Read entire article here.

Apparently the cat is microchipped. As soon as this dumbass takes it to the vet for the first time (well, assuming the clinic is smart enough to scan all black cats for a while) she will be reported.

Posted by Ellen at 06:12 PM | Comments (0)
Who is Going to Put This Damn Thing On!?

Dog Condoms.

Ok, gross. Just gross.

Posted by Ellen at 06:04 PM | Comments (0)
Insert "You're From Arkansas, Aren't You" Joke Here

Glacier flow on Mars has been discussed since the Viking days, but conclusive proof of the phenomena has been elusive, until now at least:

Two kissing craters revealed in a new image from Mars shows evidence of past glacial activity, according to the European Space Agency.

Includes way-cool picture!

Posted by scott at 03:59 PM | Comments (0)
Sounds a Little Complicated, But Why Not...

Actually, something tells me this probably won't be the only "Battleship" drinking game out there, but it is the first one we've stumbled across. I was too much of a featherweight in college to mess with any of these games, figuring they represented a quick trip to the hospital for a 125-pound 5'11" 19 year old. Now that I weigh considerably more... well, I still think they're mostly an express ticket to Hangoverville USA. You go ahead without me, I'll be over here sipping a glass of wine waiting for you to need someone to hold your hair out of the toilet.

Posted by scott at 02:57 PM | Comments (0)
Umm... Eww?

Joshua gets a warm and fuzzy no-prize for bringing us the ultimate in pet therapy:

Jeanette's Taxidermy proudly introduces Pet Pillows as an alternative way to remember your pet. Each pet pillow is hand made from the fur of your pet and made into a pillow that you can display.

"Wow, Jane! What a great night's sleep! I need to remember to visit your place any time I have insomnia!"

"Ah! You must've slept on Mister Whiskers! Isn't he great?"

"But Jane, I thought you said Mister Whiskers was dead?"

"He is."


I shouldn't make too much fun. We have, and I am not making this up, a tiny household shrine in one corner of our ground floor room on which are lovingly stacked the the ash boxes of all the cats waiting for Ellen on the other side. When I pointed out the startling resemblance of what she'd built to a Roman household gods shrine, she blinked twice and said "well, our people ruled the world for a reason you know."

Ah, Italians...

Posted by scott at 01:48 PM | Comments (1)
Surprising Sunken Sub Situation Sighted

Jeff gets a no-prize shaped like a torpedo for bringing us news of an interesting discovery in the waters near Hawaii:

The wreckage of a large World War II-era Japanese submarine has been found by researchers in waters off Hawaii.

A research team from the University of Hawaii discovered the I-401 submarine Thursday during test dives off Oahu.

These were gigantic subs built by Japan at the end of the war, sunk by the US Navy after the surrender to keep them out of Russian hands. Interestingly, you can see one of the aircraft this sub was meant to launch on display at the Udvar-Hazy annex of the Air and Space Museum. As I recall, the complete restoration took something like seven years, and the result looks something like a cross between a Stuka, a Hurricane, and a Zero, with floats stuck on.

Posted by scott at 12:02 PM | Comments (0)
Also Cures Male Pattern Baldness and Bunions

Why waste money on expensive surgery when all you really need is a pack of gum:

A chewing gum which the makers say can help enhance the size, shape and tone of the breasts has proved to be a big hit in Japan.

B2Up says its Bust-Up gum, when chewed three or four times a day, can also help improve circulation, reduce stress and fight ageing.

I guess I'll have to concede my wife's pack-a-day chewing gum habit may actually prove useful. Will New Jersey and Long Island beaches ever be the same?

Posted by scott at 10:37 AM | Comments (0)
Spidery Goodness

Autoexpress is carrying this first look at the new Brera-based Alfa spider, which is expected to premiere at the Frankfurt auto show this September. No, I don't want one, I already got a spider. Still crossing my fingers for that 159 though...

Posted by scott at 09:32 AM | Comments (0)
Who Covers their Driveway in Shells, Anyway?

Sometimes pretty comes with a price:

The U.S. Army is investigating incidents of unexploded World War I-era munitions showing up in clamshells used as paving material for driveways and parking areas in Delaware, Maryland and Virginia.

The ordnance was dredged up during the past 18 months from the ocean floor during mechanical clam harvesting operations off the New Jersey coast, in the vicinity of Atlantic City, according to Robert Williams of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which is conducting the investigation.
Some grenades were found inside the clams.

And just how big are these clams? Boy, that'd be a nasty surprise for some seafood cook, eh?

Ron gets a rusty but potentially explosive no-prize for bringing us this "your driveway, it asploded" story.

Posted by scott at 08:34 AM | Comments (0)
March 20, 2005
Happy Birthday Yankee Grampy!!

Happy Birthday to my Grampy in NY!

"Baby O".

*make sure you bring Bud the dog with you in April!*

Posted by Ellen at 05:07 PM | Comments (1)
No More Time Travel for You!

John Z. DeLorean, the innovative automaker who left a promising career in Detroit to develop the stainless steel-skinned, gull-winged sports car bearing his name and was acquitted of charges he planned to sell $24 million worth of cocaine to support the venture, has died at the age of 80.

Read entire article here.

Posted by Ellen at 02:56 PM | Comments (0)
March 19, 2005
Hot Cat Off Tin Roof

Anyone in Colorado want to look these fuckers up?

Police say 22-year-old Christopher Wilbur and 18-year-old Joshua Klohr set a gray cat on fire and then tossed it off the school roof Wednesday night. Officers spotted the two men on the roof of Arvada West High School just before 11 p.m.

Read entire fucked up article here.

Great family values I say! They just added 2 more serial killers to the growing list.

Posted by Ellen at 03:15 PM | Comments (2)
March 18, 2005
Did We Mention the "Nerd" Part?

My God... they have the National Geographic Channel! How cool! We. Must. Watch!

Ellen: "First up... Infestations. Ooooooo..."

Posted by scott at 05:47 PM | Comments (1)
Tranquility Base Here, the Eagle has Landed

The family is now officially "on vacation".

"Gee Scott, does that mean you're actually going to leave the site alone?"

"You're obviously mistaking us for people with lives..."

We're up in Baltimore for one of Ellen's VT conferences. Ironically, this is the exact hotel we spent our first "away" vacation in, for the (I think) 1997 Balticon. Except now with high speed wireless.

Hmm? Oh go look it up. See? Told you we were nerds.

It took Olivia exactly thirty seconds to disappear underneath the bed, her location revealed by a slow "hee hee hee hee hee". Sort of like our very own curly-headed troll. Only cuter, and in diapers.

So now I'm putting alcohol into Ellen to settle her down (any sort of logistical move usually winds her up like one of those "monky-and-cymbal" toys) and playing "NoNoDon'tTouchThat" with Olivia.

I wonder if the outdoor pool is open? The film on the website said it was heated...

P.S. Hotel water is cool, especially when you can walk around in your socks and diaper gargling it. Olivia's a very special child you see.

Posted by scott at 04:12 PM | Comments (0)
Changing Times

Hypocrisy? The New York Times? Say it ain't so, say it ain't so!!!

Meh. no worse than any other bunch trying to have it both ways. It's just easier to catch them at it. The sad thing is, there are many in the peanut gallery who will find no contradiction at all.

Via Drumwaster.

Posted by scott at 12:05 PM | Comments (1)
Probably a More Expressive Actor than Christensen

Joshua gets a no-prize with a stone respirator attached for bringing us the precise location of the Darth Vader grotesque at the National Cathedral. As the site notes, like much of the cathedral's decoration you'll need a pair of binoculars to see it. Still, gives us another excuse to go out there. The gardens should start blooming soon too. Can you say "photo safari?" I knew you could...

Posted by scott at 11:58 AM | Comments (1)
And the Number Shall Be 13

Slashdot linked up this nifty New Scientist feature article detailing 13 "things that do not make sense"... items that scientists know about but cannot explain. A great look at the edges of knowledge from a variety of fields, from homeopathy to cosmology and more!

Posted by scott at 10:03 AM | Comments (0)
Iraq in Brief

Instapundit has this quick roundup of solder's-eye-view stories from Iraq. It includes the e-mail going around summarizing a talk one Major Pete Chiarelli is giving about the lessons learned from the occupation:

2. The Cav lost 28 main battle tanks. He said one of the big lessons learned is that, contrary to doctrine going in, M1-A2s and Bradleys are needed, preferred and devastating in urban combat and he is going to make that point to the JCS next week while they are considering downsizing armor.

3. He showed a graph of attacks in Sadr City by month. Last Aug-Sep they were getting up to 160 attacks per week. During the last three months, the graph had flatlined at below 5 to zero per week.

4. His big point was not that they were "winning battles" to do this but that cleaning the place up, electricity, sewage, water were the key factors. He said yes they fought but after they started delivering services that the Iraqis in Sadr City had never had, the terrorist recruiting of 15 and 16 year olds came up empty.

As always, read the whole thing!

Posted by scott at 08:42 AM | Comments (0)
Finding a Way

The South African government, having solved all other pressing problems, seems to have instituted a draconian gun control policy (because we all know how effective those are, right?) In the meantime, citizens are doing what they must:

Tighter gun ownership laws are pushing South Africans to buy crossbows, spears, swords, knives and pepper sprays to protect themselves from violent crime.
With some homeowners worried about prosecution if they kill intruders, the crossbow is particularly popular because of its silence and the difficulty of tracing the firer from forensic evidence, he said.


Posted by scott at 07:51 AM | Comments (1)
Black Hole Sun

One of the more interesting predictions of M-theory (the successor to various string theories) is that, at high enough energies, microscopic black holes can be created. Their presence in the correct experiments would represent a powerful and early experimental confirmation of this startling theory, which holds the promise of unifying gravity and quantum mechanics.

The trick, of course, is to generate high enough energies. Current predictions imply only the upcoming Large Hadron Collider in Europe would be powerful enough to even approach the energies needed. However, it appears that someone may have beaten them to the punch:

A fireball created in a US particle accelerator has the characteristics of a black hole, a physicist has said.

It was generated at the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider (RHIC) in New York, US, which smashes beams of gold nuclei together at near light speeds.

If true, this would be very interesting, as it could mean M-theory is both right in concept but wrong in detail. We'll see...

Posted by scott at 07:06 AM | Comments (0)
March 17, 2005
Death Row Diary

I'm not quite sure where I stumbled across the stories of Michael Hunter, but I still find the perspectives of someone actuall on San Quentin's death row interesting. It's not really enough to give me sympathy for these guys, but it's definitely a learning experience.

Posted by scott at 02:39 PM | Comments (3)
Maybe It'll Finally Explain Johnny Depp?

Found in the Post this morning: scientists have mapped nearly all of the human X chromosome. This one is much larger than the Y, which is why it took so much longer. The completion of this project has important implications for various sorts of genetic research, and hopefully why my wife gets "twitterpated" every time the titular actor grins at the screen.

Except for Ed Wood. She never looked the same again at him after that flick. Hee!

Posted by scott at 01:42 PM | Comments (0)

Joshua gets a no-prize that, like, totally fell in two pieces before it even knew it was cut for bringing us HOLY SH*T! NINJAS!.

No, I didn't completely understand it either, but it came from Joshua, what do you expect? ;)

Posted by scott at 11:39 AM | Comments (1)
Motor Oil Madness

Ron gets a slick no-prize for bringing us this Discovery Channel article on recent discoveries regarding motor oil. While a seemingly pedestrian substance, motor oil is in fact a very sophisticated cocktail of petrolium products, detergents, and additives. So sophisticated in fact until recently nobody completely understood how some of the additives actually worked. Now, with a better understanding of said functioning, it is hoped scientists can come up with better, less polluting lubricants to create more "green" oils.

Posted by scott at 10:28 AM | Comments (0)
Enceladus Examination Exposes Exhalations

Houston, we have atmosphere:

The Cassini spacecraft has revealed that Saturn's icy moon Enceladus has a significant atmosphere.

The spacecraft unlocked the moon’s secret during recent flybys, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory announced Wednesday. Scientists, using Cassini's magnetometer instrument for their studies, said the source may be volcanism, geysers, or gases escaping from the surface or the interior.

It's also thought this moon might be the source for Saturn's icy E ring. It would appear to be a busy little moon indeed.

Posted by scott at 08:24 AM | Comments (0)
March 16, 2005
No, I Don't Want One

Just how shocked would you be if I told you I'd actually done this?

Oh stop it. Uncover your eyes. Nobody can hear you screaming.

At any rate, no, I don't think I've ever driven an Alfa without clothes on. I did once have to run outside at 3 AM au-naturale to put the top up in a thunderstorm, but that's a different story...

Posted by scott at 07:33 PM | Comments (1)
Two Faced Kitten Dies

Sad, but most of these little guys don't make it. They die of pneumonia due to aspiration of milk since their airway and esophagus tend to be deformed.

Read article here.

Posted by Ellen at 07:04 PM | Comments (1)
When Remote Starters Attack

The Alfa, being built before such electronic niceties as ignition, let alone remote start, also has this problem:

Djordjevic said police were skeptical of her story [that her car started on its own and drove into her neighbor's house] until they witnessed her remote starter activate, sending her car driving down the road. They chased it down and prevented it from hitting anything, she said.

Of course, since the Alfa (like all old cars) requires what is essentially a secret handshake that also involves the feet to get going, remote starters are essentially, well, non-starters. It's better than a car alarm!

Shaddup you. It starts just fine. The front wheels don't point the same way*, but it damned well starts.

* I now know how Han Solo felt. I did everything right changing the tie rod ends, counted the turns just like it says in the book. Put everything together, and on the ground the passenger side wheel is straight as a laser, while the driver's side is 5 degrees inward. "It's not my fault!!!"

Posted by scott at 05:48 PM | Comments (0)

Ok, it's like this. Toddlers with fevers suck. She's fine, saw the doctor and everything, this is just a cold. Oh, and never ever ever give your child Robitussin or anything like it... once they taste one nasty liquid medicine, all liquid medicines are nasty, even the ones that are basically sticky grape juice.

Oh, and that sound? That sound is my mom cackling away saying "revenge! I have my revenge!" You see, I had, well, a reputation for being... difficult... with medicines*.

* It's not like it was undeserved. My parent's motto regarding NyQuil was "anything that tastes that bad must be good for you." They used it both liberally and gleefully whenever my brother or I was sick. Imagine my sister-in-law's surprise at my brother's reaction the first time she brought some home for his cold...

Posted by scott at 05:24 PM | Comments (5)
Darwin Kitties

Remember folks, just because they look like overgrown housecats doesn't mean they are:

Dane Kieser, 16, was stroking the ear of a lioness at a breeding enclosure at the Rhino and Lion Nature Reserve on Sunday when he was attacked and pulled under the fence into the lion's den.

Technically not a Darwin award nominee. Why? Hey, the dude had a reason:

Dane apparently took his girlfriend with him to the enclosure where he stuck his arm through the fence to stroke the lioness.

Yup, he was trying to impress a chick. Guys around the world are nodding their heads sagely and thinking, "there but for the grace of God..."

But ya know, now that I think about it, if my house cats weighed 1300 pounds I'd keep them in a cage too. Small+evil = harmlessly amusing. Large + evil = not so much.

Posted by scott at 08:41 AM | Comments (1)
March 15, 2005
Banana Eating Contest

There is no nekkidness, but it is kinky!

How a guy wants you to eat a banana!

Me, I'd just chomp it once and it would be gone. None of this banana foreplay crap. When I told my husband this, he got scared and crossed his legs. Men are such wimps.

Posted by Ellen at 07:38 PM | Comments (0)
Coming soon: the fat-free hot dog


It is the new holy grail in the crusade against Britain's bulging waistlines - a low-calorie, vitamin-enriched hot dog that can prevent cancer and reduce cholesterol, and yet tastes exactly like the real thing.

Kinda takes the fun out of eating a hot dog.

Posted by Ellen at 05:26 PM | Comments (0)
Who Would Collect This?


There are some sick people out there.

Posted by Ellen at 04:05 PM | Comments (0)
Well I Didn't Notice Them. That's My Story I'm Sticking to it

See! See! I'm not the only pig around:

I don't recall which P.J. O'Rourke book it was (I think it was this one), but he once opined on the "babe theory" of political movements. It was his observation that the movements that are bound to succeed are the ones with the pretty girls. The reasoning behind it is they are more likely to woo a large number of male supporters, hoping to impress said pretty girls.

It's a pretty shallow observation, but I think it holds some merit -- even in the Middle East, that same wonderful region that brought us the burkha and chador.

And I did not look at those pictures. Nope, not me. Not me at all. It was... rrrmm... my evil twin. Yeah, evil twin, that's it. Bad evil twin! Bad! No biscuit for you!

Posted by scott at 03:24 PM | Comments (0)
Surely You're not Suggesting that Musicals Migrate?!?

Not only has Eric Idle adapted Monty Python and the Holy Grail to Broadway, it would appear that it most definitely does not suck:

Turning the 1974 classic comedy "Monty Python and the Holy Grail" into "Spamalot" took Python member Eric Idle three years of work. And it looks like that hard work is paying off, with the show proving a critical darling in its pre-Broadway run and a box-office smash before it even opens.

Considering the Queen Mother's* proximity to NYC, this one actually might be do-able as a family vacation. If nothing else we'll be looking forward to the road show!

* Ellen's mom. No, really!

Posted by scott at 02:22 PM | Comments (2)
Tiger to Scientists: Drop Dead


A camera hidden in the Sumatran rainforest has survived the rage of a tiger attack unscathed, and captured some fascinating images of the nocturnal assault.

The sequence, captured in February, even features one image taken while the camera is clamped inside the big cat's mouth.

I always wondered why this doesn't happen more often. I guess it's time to switch to infrared flashes, eh?

With pictures!

Posted by scott at 01:19 PM | Comments (1)

At least five dogs have jumped to their deaths from a bridge over a burn at Overtoun House in the past six months.

Read entire article here.

Don't the people walk them on leashes?

Posted by Ellen at 10:27 AM | Comments (0)
That "S" Word

Carrie gets a stylish no-prize for bringing us news of a new exhibition opening in Boston:

Ralph Lauren looks like he's at a fashion show, striding down the aisle in his wide-shouldered pinstripes, surrounded by beautiful creations under bright lights. But these models are cars, and the occasion is an exhibit at Boston's Museum of Fine Arts of classic automobiles from Lauren's personal collection.

Don't miss the slide show, especially #6!

The rest of the article does touch a bit on the straits car manufacturers find themselves in today, but slouches down the "American cars used to suck, and now that they don't they can't sell any" easy path.

An Economist article from June was much better. According to the article, the problem is it's very expensive to create modern cars, so expensive an automaker needs to bang out something like 200,000 of them in the first year just to break even. When you're dealing with numbers on that scale, it's extremely risky to go "out there" with avante-gaurde ideas. The cooler you try to make something, the greater the risk too few people will agree with you.

So what everyone is looking for is a way to make it cheaper to create and build cars. GM seems to be the furthest out there, with innovative "fluid form" technologies that actually mold metal without requiring the heat of casting or the expense of forging. By doing away with the expensive stamping machines and the tooling required to make them work, GM thinks it can make money on as few as 20,000 units per year. If they can, and with entries like the Solstice coming in for less than $25,000 US I think they will, we'll see an explosion of comparatively inexpensive, distinctive models, one for every niche you can imagine.

If not, well, it's not like there's anything wrong with a Camry. As long as, you know, you have an old Alfa Romeo in the garage.

Posted by scott at 10:01 AM | Comments (1)
Creative Way to Eat Fruit

As much as I like watermelon, I will not be doing anything like this .

Why waste a perfectly good watermelon!

Posted by Ellen at 08:55 AM | Comments (0)
Sesame Street Around the World

Ever wanted to see what Sesame Street looked like in another country? It's pretty neat!

And yes, there is an HIV positive character.

What are you waiting for? Go check it out!

Posted by Ellen at 06:10 AM | Comments (0)
March 14, 2005
Mmm... Irony...

Class action reform? We don't need no stinkin' class action reform:

Alton attorney Emert Wyss thought he could make money in a Madison County class action lawsuit, but he accidentally sued himself instead. Now he has four law firms after his money - and he hired all four.

All over a measly $60. God I love this country!

Posted by scott at 03:08 PM | Comments (0)
But Do They Have a Beat You Can Dance to?

Well, I'll give 'em points for thinking outside the box:

After many residents [in Hyderabad, India] ignored repeated demands to settle overdue property taxes. authorities in a city in Andhra Pradesh state have sent 20 groups of drummers to play outside offenders' houses for the past week.

18% have paid up after just one week, so it seems to be working.

Posted by scott at 02:00 PM | Comments (0)
Insert "Oscar Meier" Joke Here

Hey, It's a lot cuter than that other guy's forehead:

Are you looking for great advertising space for your company? My miniature Wiener dog 'Peanut' will be your billboard. She loves taking walks and meeting new people. Everyone that sees a Wiener dog can’t help but look.

About time a family pet started to earn their keep. Hey, I got ... five four-legged billboards (well, one of them only has three legs, but still) running around my house. Time to break out the stencil and spraypaint!

Posted by scott at 11:42 AM | Comments (0)
Alzheimers News

One of the biggest problems with Alzheimers is the inability to directly diagnose the disease. The only sure way is autopsy, which is understandably a sub-optimal situation when you're trying to determine if treatment is needed.

However, according to this New Scientist article, such drastic measures may no longer be needed:

Takaomi Saido at the Riken Brain Science Institute in Wako, Japan, and his colleagues, have developed a new, non-toxic tracer that attaches itself to the amyloid plaques in the brain and can be detected by regular MRI scanners. The tracer is made from a form of fluorine that is a common additive in drinking water, and a form of hydrogen, which is known to bind to amyloid.

The technique is immediately useful in primary research, which uses special mice to examine disease progress and treatment effectiveness. The tracer works in human tissue, although no trials involving living humans have been initiated.

By detecting the disease before symptoms are exhibited and monitoring its progression after treatment, this technique should have profound implications in the fight against this tragic disease.

Posted by scott at 10:34 AM | Comments (0)
Welcome to Squaresville. Please Secure All Children in their Upright and Locked Position

Ron gets a very proper and understandable no-prize for bringing us this unintentionally hilarious look at "leet speak":

While it's important to respect your children's privacy, understanding what your teenager's online slang means and how to decipher could be important in certain situations and as you help guide their online experience.

All you really need to complete the "1958 health class" experience is the whir of a 16mm projector and the clicks and pops of the soundtrack. These kids today, you just can't understand them.

Oh, that sound you're hearing? That's the sound of every baby boomer's parent, dead or alive, laughing their ass off and screaming "revenge! Sweet seet revenge!"

Posted by scott at 09:13 AM | Comments (0)
I Wonder if It Had to Cough Up a Dollar?

Fark linked up news that the Mars rover Spirit got a solar panel cleaning over the weekend. While everyone jokes about little homeless green men with squeegees and windex bottles, a far more likely explanation is a dust devil bullseyed the rover, scouring the panels clean of dust. As dirty panels and lower power levels were the only predictable way the rovers would be unable to continue their mission, this windy gift has given Spirit a new lease on life.

Posted by scott at 08:19 AM | Comments (0)
March 13, 2005
Speaking of Trailers

Joshua gets a no-prize that'll chafe his eyebrows for bringing us the best. Star Wars. Trailer. Evah. Sad thing is, the guy playing Anakin in this is actually more convincing that Christensen.

Posted by scott at 03:02 PM | Comments (1)
Rubber Flippers!

A dolphin, equipped with what is believed to be the world's first artificial fin, demonstrated her swimming and jumping skills to celebrate her recovery at a Japanese aquarium.

The dolphin, named Fuji, carried a message in a case with her mouth, splashed the water with a giant jump and climbed onto a stage in front of 750 spectators at the Churaumi Aquarium on the sub-tropical island of Okinawa.

Read entire article here.

Posted by Ellen at 09:32 AM | Comments (0)
March 12, 2005
Definitely Might not Suck

Richie gets a no-prize strong with the force for bringing us a place we can see the new Star Wars trailer that hasn't been crushed out of existence yet. This looks pretty good, but then again so did the trailers from the last two. Going to take a "wait and see" with this one.

Posted by scott at 08:32 AM | Comments (0)
As Long as It's Not Yellow

As we in the south slowly emerge from winter, let's all take some time to check out the miracle that is snow sculpture. And you thought that giant snow wang your friends built back in college was cool...

Posted by scott at 08:20 AM | Comments (0)
I Only Hope it Wasn't a Rental

Looks like the tradition of being buried with your car has a long and storied history:

Decorated with jewellery and finely wrought harness and chariot gear, the 2,400-year-old grave is thought to have been a rallying-point for Britain's tribes 500 years later when the Romans moved north. Some 300 young cattle from all over the country were brought to Ferrybridge to feed an assembly running into thousands not far from where a Little Chef now stands.

No, not Aurthur, he was about eight centuries later. This guy did whatever he did just a little before Alexander started rampaging around Asia. Amazingly, the pyramids were already 2,000 years old at that point.

Posted by scott at 07:48 AM | Comments (0)
March 11, 2005

Scott says I'm not allowed to do the house up like this.

Good thing he lets me decorate in cat themes!

Posted by Ellen at 08:19 PM | Comments (0)
Two Faced

Kitten born with two faces.

With Pix!

No-prize to Carrie!

Posted by Ellen at 08:04 PM | Comments (0)
Nuke Su... Se... Su... rrr... Somewhere!

Jeff gets a no-prize that might (or might not) set off a Geiger counter for bringing us this story of a typo gone very, very wrong:

There's an old saying that a lie can travel halfway around the world before the truth puts its boots on.

Let it be known that mistakes can travel just as fast -- and just as far.

Take the case of Rep. Ellen Tauscher, D-California, who at a hearing on Capitol Hill last week spoke about a 1962 nuclear test in the Nevada desert. The test was code named "Project Sedan."

Tauscher's remarks were little noticed, until they were transcribed -- incorrectly -- in an unofficial transcript of the hearing. One letter was changed. The "Sedan" nuclear test became the "Sudan" nuclear test.

And the government of Sudan took notice.

And then, of course, "Hilarity ensued..."

Posted by scott at 02:35 PM | Comments (0)
Gotta Sit Somewhere

For the nerd who has everything, the keystool:

This unique stool is a great low-tech item for any computer geek. Insert this eye-catching seat in the dorm, game room or even an internet café . The contoured shape holds your backspace just like your finger rests in a key.

You can even specify your own message! How... rrmm... wonderful?

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

Slashdot reported on a nifty new utilty from IBM. In a nutshell: load this software on any USB device, plug said device into dead computer, and presto, computer boots up with a whole host of recovery options available. In their example an iPod was used, and the original functionality of the device was not affected. Kewl!

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

Problem 1: Life is too much. Time to exit.
Problem 2: Too chickensh*t to do the deed yourself
Solution: Get someone else to do the dirty work:

The man, 30, knew the two young men and paid them $5000 each to kill him. Police said he told the men, both 18, he wanted to kill himself but feared he would botch the job. His plan was to take sleeping tablets, then if he was still alive 10 minutes later his paid assistants were to beat him to death with an iron bar.

Did it work? Oh, come on. If it worked it would we be linking it?

Posted by scott at 10:15 AM | Comments (0)
Star Cap

Just how big can a star get? Current models don't really have an upper limit, but unfortunately observations don't bear this out. By closely observing the most massive collection of young stars in our galaxy, scientists have observed a real limit to just how big big stars can get (~ 150 solar masses). The weird thing is nobody knows why. Just when you thought the universe might settle down and get predictable...

Posted by scott at 09:25 AM | Comments (0)
Now That's What I Call a Commuter Car


A car dealer in New Hampshire recently got an unusual trade-in from a collector in Florida, and now customers have the opportunity to purchase some serious hardware.

On the lot of the Hampton Motor Company is a 1969 Ferret Scout tank looming over the other automobiles.

Don't need it, and if we had it wouldn't let Ellen drive it during commute hours. It's not that she's a bad driver, far from it. It's just she has... [whisper]anger issues[/whisper]. Trust me, she doesn't need a road rage enabler. None of you people would be safe.

Posted by scott at 08:02 AM | Comments (0)
March 10, 2005
Having A Bone

Talk about being boned.

Posted by Ellen at 08:32 PM | Comments (1)
Piano Man Part Deux!

My brother's hero.

Posted by Ellen at 08:24 PM | Comments (0)
To Think People Glare at Us Just for Bringing a Baby on Board

One of the biggest lessons I got from watching the A&E show Airline was: don't show up drunk. If you do show up drunk, stay very very cool, keep your mouth shut, and stay away from the bar. Otherwise they can and will keep you off the flight. Now I know what it looks like when that policy isn't rigidly enforced:

We noticed you right away when you got on the plane – I mean, it would have been hard not to, what with your overly loud conversations on the phone with your friends regarding the NFL football player who bought you 4 shots of Patron in the airport bar after you already had a ton of drinks already. We were all really proud of you, and ever so happy to hear that you had exchanged numbers with him and you guys were such buddies and honey, I was crossing my fingers for you to hook up with him at some later date. We also sympathized with your requests for “something to smoke” when you got home, and by the way, thanks for keeping it so loud so that we could all share in that happy conversation. I think some of the older folks were particularly impressed.

Oh it gets much better. Well, better for us on the ground at any rate.

And for all of you travelers who glare, sigh dramatically, roll your eyes, or swear under your breath when my child gets fussy on the airplane? I bet you thought parents didn't notice you doing that. I guess you all seem to think we enjoy sitting next to our own shrieking child, that we do it on purpose just to rain on your little day. F- you, because if you read the linked story you'll realize it can get a whole lot worse than a little kid yelling for ten minutes.

Posted by scott at 03:47 PM | Comments (1)
Remember: Guns Don't Shoot People...

Cats shoot people:

A man cooking in his kitchen was shot after one of his cats knocked his 9mm handgun onto the floor, discharging the weapon, Michigan State Police said.

Let's see... how many gun safety practices did this guy ignore:

  • Loaded gun in a non-shooting situation
  • A round chambered
  • Safety off (presumeably)
  • Gun not stored out of sight
  • Gun not secured
  • Gun left where a third untrained party can access it.

Yep, that pretty much covers all of them, at least that I can think of. That wasn't the sound of a bullet he heard, it was the sound of a Darwin award.

Us? We don't have any guns. Our evil minions have to resort to cruder methods of murder, like weaving back and forth through legs while we walk down stairs. Ron, on the other hand...


Posted by scott at 02:59 PM | Comments (1)
We Have Standards You Know

The right action for the wrong reason?

A group of men were detained for helping a woman who screamed as she was being dragged off by a member of the Saudi religious police after he spotted her in a car with a man, a newspaper reported on Monday.
Although a Muslim man should not touch any woman not related by family ties or marriage, the religious policeman reportedly grasped the woman, attempting to drag her into his police car.

Those of you muttering under your breath "we should've started with them first" should keep in mind Iraq's is one of the more secular societies in the Arab world. Compared to what Saudi Arabia would be like, Iraq is a dream to rebuild.

Now, those of you wondering why we can't just build walls around the oil fields and let the rest of them starve... well, take a number and go sit over there.

Via Silflay

Posted by scott at 01:35 PM | Comments (0)
Speaking of Screen Shots...

GamesPaper news has this look at the upcoming Alfa race game. Gentlemen, start your computers!

Posted by scott at 12:35 PM | Comments (1)
Meteor Mysteries

While just about everyone knows Arizona's Meteor Crater was formed by, well, a meteor impact, what's not widely known is there's been something of a mystery surrounding it. Models of the impact predicted the tremendous pressure and heat should have melted most of the rock, but geologists couldn't find it. Now scientists think they may know why:

A new computer model, reported in the March 10 issue of the journal Nature, shows the incoming object would have slowed considerably during its plunge through the atmosphere, part of it breaking into a pancake-shaped cloud of iron fragments prior to impact.

About half the original 300,000-ton bulk remained intact, smacking the planet at about 26,800 mph (12 km/sec), said the study's lead researcher, Jay Melosh of the University of Arizona.

Which still means you didn't want to be anywhere near that spot when it happened. Since even the most optimistic date for the earliest human migration to the new world is ~ 25,000 years ago, it would seem no one was. Which leads to an amusing spin on an old riddle:

If a meteor smacks the earth hard enough to carve out a crater nearly a mile across and nobody is around to hear it, does it make a noise?

The best answer is, of course, "why does it matter?"

Posted by scott at 10:06 AM | Comments (0)
ET Phone Home, for $3.99 a Minute

One would think that, considering the distances involved, making expensive calls that are simply beamed into deep space would be a non-starter as a business idea. One would, of course, be wrong:

A group of engineers has offered a solution for people who want a direct line to aliens - by broadcasting their phone calls directly into space.
The service, launched on 27 February, will cost users $3.99 per minute, says Eric Knight, president of the company.
Since the alien hotline was turned on, has fielded hundreds of calls, averaging about three minutes each.

I never thought one of the things I'd say to Olivia would be "I can remember a time when if you said you were making phone calls to space aliens, they'd call you a kook. Now they just ask for your credit card number."

Posted by scott at 09:08 AM | Comments (0)
Brings a Whole New Meaning to "Getting Buried at the Golf Course"

The thing is, if Jeff hit the mound it'd probably only improve his score:

Human remains found buried under the fairway of a Georgia golf course were identified Wednesday as those of a woman missing since July 2003, authorities said.

Well, it'd improve as long as it bounced the ball to the left, that is.

Posted by scott at 08:11 AM | Comments (0)
March 09, 2005
Tut Tut Tut...

A three-dimensional X-ray scan of Tutankhamun's mummy found no evidence to support theories he was murdered but failed to solve the 3,000-year-old mystery of how the young Egyptian pharaoh died.

Read entire article here.

With pictures!

Posted by Ellen at 08:50 PM | Comments (0)
Insert "Rise Again" Joke Here

Joshua gets a no-prize that'll play Dixie at the touch of a... well... "button" for bringing us the ultimate redneck underwear. I especially like the marijuana leaf design. Now there's someone who knows the real South!

Posted by scott at 02:32 PM | Comments (1)
IDF to Nerds: Drop Dead

Well, it might not get you out of the service completely, but it would appear being a D&D player will make sure you don't get any interesting assignments in the Israeli army:

Thousands of youth and teens in Israel play "D and D", fighting dragons and demons using their rich imaginations. The game has also increased in popularity due to the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy.

However the IDF does not approve of this unusual hobby and prevents "D and D" players from being considered for sensitive army positions by labeling them with low security clearance.

"We have discovered that some of them are simply detached from reality," a security source told Ynetnews.

From the slashdot comments:

My level 12 Galil with plumbum bullets strike down the level 4 suicide bomber. 100EXP and 12GP. :D

Posted by scott at 01:32 PM | Comments (8)
The Hobbit's Head

Well, just what is the "Flores Hobbit" anyway? Is the dwarf hominid simply a microcephalic human? Is it a really short Homo erectus? Is it something else entirely? Carl Zimmer listened in on a press conference last week and got some answers. In short (as it were): no, definitely not microcephalic, possibly Homo erectus, and, most tantalizing of all, yes, possibly something else entirely.

It's also very good to hear the fossils are not going to get squirreled away by some politically motivated scientist, but are instead being actively studied by the anthropology community.

Via Silflay.

Posted by scott at 12:26 PM | Comments (0)
It Beats the Hell Out of Mozart

Ring tones, meet ring moans:

Wireless content company Brickhouse Mobile on Tuesday said that under an agreement with New Frontier it would begin offering ring tones for mobile phone users featuring porn stars making groaning and moaning noises from the suggestive to the positively tantalizing.

Well, at least it'd be funny if one of these went off (as it were) in church or at a business meeting. Well, ok, it'd be funny to me anyway.

Posted by scott at 10:16 AM | Comments (6)
Bathysphere Bacteria

Ron gets a no-prize that works well under pressure for bringing us news of a most curious strain of deep-sea bacteria:

By sequencing the genome of the deep-sea bacteria Photobacterium profundum, strain SS9, a team of Italian and U.S. researchers have opened a window into how it survives in what is arguably the most bizarre, least understood and yet most common habitat on the planet — the near-freezing ocean bottoms two-and-a-half miles under the waves where the water pressure is 15,000-pounds-per-square-inch.

The adaptations it exhibits are striking to say the least.

Posted by scott at 09:33 AM | Comments (0)
Well Isn't That Special

Jay Tea gets a neutered no-prize for bringing us a man and his vasectomy, in pictures. Amusing, informative, a little skeevy... what's not to love?

Warning: Contains non-sexual but still graphic photographs of said person's wang. Probably fine in a doctor's office, but anywhere else, maybe not so much.

Posted by scott at 08:05 AM | Comments (1)
March 08, 2005
The Lonely Hamster

A German man who went on holiday left his stereo and lights on so that his pet hamster would not feel lonely in the empty apartment, a police spokesman said on Monday after breaking into it over fears the man may have died.


A very hampster wheelish No-Prize to Monikka!

Posted by Ellen at 07:15 PM | Comments (0)
Fun with Blocks

I'm not exactly sure what this thing is supposed to mean, but it was interesting to look at. The numbers at the beginning are it downloading. The show will start when they hit 100.

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

Fans of the recently cancelled Enterprise should find this Toronto Star articleof interest. It does a nice job of summarizing just where the TV Sci-fi scene is headed. Includes comments from Enterprise's Joleen Blalock, as well as Farscape's Brian Henson and Battlestar Galactica's Katee Sackhoff.

Via Reflections in D Minor.

Posted by scott at 02:50 PM | Comments (0)
Mmm... Crunchy...

Sarah G. and Joshua get to share a no-prize with carbon-steel teeth for nearly simultaneously sending us graphic demonstrations of just how effective a shredder can be.

Oh don't worry, nothing and nobody was harmed in the making of the videos. Although that refridgerator and couch have definitely seen better days.

Posted by scott at 01:41 PM | Comments (1)
Insert "Tastes Like Chicken" Joke Here

Well, at least they caught the thing:

A 5-meter-long (16 ft) crocodile said to have eaten more than 80 people has been caught alive in Uganda and transferred to a sanctuary, officials said Tuesday.

Of course, it was locals who gave the body count, so who knows how many people this thing actually killed. Still, at least it's not going to be eating any more of them.

Tacky, horrid PETA ad campaign in 3... 2... 1...

Posted by scott at 12:43 PM | Comments (0)
"Arming" Robots

While not particularly inspiring, this New Scientist report about a 17-year-old girl beating a robotic arm in an arm-wrestling contest does provide insight into how far the field of polymer muscles has come. Could actual bionic limbs be around the corner?

Posted by scott at 10:50 AM | Comments (0)
Looks Like It's Time to Buy a Wheel/Pedal Set

Because the Alfa Romeo racing game seems to be on schedule. Upgrading the driver instead of the car is an interesting angle, and could allow them to employ really high-fidelity physics for the cars. After all, the standard GTA-style "three upgrades per system" would be really hard to justify on a 1932 8C2300. Although I wouldn't put it past some ricers to try to fit low-profile wheels and tires on one.

Now to find screenshots...

Posted by scott at 09:51 AM | Comments (0)
Technocratic Terror

My God! People... people are actually buying and selling things to each other without government regulation or oversight! This... this cannot be! This is impossible! Government is good! Government keeps people safe! Without it, there would be disorder, chaos, hysteria! Hurry, dear legislatures, hurry with us to fix this... this... debacle!!! After all, nothing is more rational, more safe, more good, than government regulation:

Ohio residents selling goods on eBay would have to get a license and be bonded under a law set to go into effect May 2, although authors of the legislation vow to make changes before that date to exempt individuals.
Besides costing $200 and posting a $50,000 bond, the license requires a one-year apprenticeship to a licensed auctioneer, acting as a bid-caller in 12 auctions, attending an approved auction school, passing a written and oral exam. Failure to get a license could result in the seller being fined up to $1,000 and jailed for a maximum of 90 days.

Because we all know how important acting as a bid caller is to an E-bay auction. Now, tell me again why government is always the first choice to solve a problem?

Posted by scott at 08:53 AM | Comments (2)
March 07, 2005
Long Distance Phone Call

The new burst, dubbed GCRTJ1745-3009, has an unknown source. Current data cannot reveal how far away it lies in the direction of the galactic center. The center of the galaxy is about 26,000 light-years from Earth. The radio source could be a lot nearer or a lot farther—possibly even beyond the galaxy. The transmission's intriguing characteristics beg the question: Might that source be intelligent?

Interested in the article? Read further!

Posted by Ellen at 08:19 PM | Comments (0)
To Tell the What?

Yeah, it's a little like this.

If this all actually turns out by 2008, I can think of at least three people who are totally going to owe me a pizza. You know who you are. Civil war, indeed.

Posted by scott at 07:29 PM | Comments (0)
Science Fiction, Science Fact

This Rednova article on the latest attempt by unimaginative Christians to shield themselves from reality tells me there's still a basic problem out there. To wit: many of you just don't seem to know what science is. So, being the resourceful folks we are, AMCGLTD is, as always, here to help:

How to Spot Science in 3 Easy Steps:

  1. Can the proposition be proven wrong? This is critical, and never emphasised enough. The theory that "the switch on the wall turns on the light over our heads" is science, since if throwing the switch opens the garage door, it has been proven wrong. The theory that "the switch on the wall sends a message to God" is not science, because it cannot be proven wrong*.
  2. Does the proposition make predictions about something you don't already know? This builds on statement 1, and is also critical and under-emphasised. The theory "Ellen is stronger than Superman" is science, because it predicts she can bend steel. The theory "Olivia is throwing a tantrum because she is spoiled rotten" is not science, because it doesn't tell you anything you didn't already know.
  3. Does the proposition suggest tests? This builds on step 2, because now we're trying to test the prediction made there. The theory "my bathtub drain has clogged up because an alien from the planet Zorg-9 crawled in and got stuck" is actually science, since a plumber can be summoned to test the prediction of a Zorgian stuck in the drain. The theory "water flows down the drain because God wills it" is not science, because it provides no way to test God's will.

It really is that simple. To be considered science a proposition must pass all three of these criteria. They are not optional. If it cannot be proven wrong, if it cannot make predictions, if does not suggest tests, then It. Is. Not. Science. It therefore cannot be taught in a science class. As far as I can tell, intelligent design cannot be proven wrong, makes no predictions to which we don't already know the answer, and provides no ability to test anything about it. Therefore, intelligent design is not science and has no business even being mentioned in a science class.

This is not to say faith is wrong, far from it. Just that faith is not science.

* By people grounded in reality at any rate. There are some folks, I have corresponded with them so I know they exist, who will say "I know the message was sent because I have faith." When confronted with such a person, resist the urge to call the men with butterfly nets and instead snap back professinally "but that, my friend, is not science."

Posted by scott at 03:15 PM | Comments (4)
Fun with Fischer

Everyone's favorite chess champion/Howard Hughes wannabe is at it again, this time getting tossed into solitary for... well, for being Bobby Fischer:

[Fischer's fiancee, Miyoko] Watai said Fischer became involved in a dispute with guards when he asked for an additional boiled egg at breakfast. The dispute escalated to a scuffle, leading Fischer to be placed in solitary confinement.

Normally I'd be incensed at such juvenile behavior from someone old enough to be my dad, but Fischer is just so ludicrous I can't work up the energy. I really think we need people like him, because they remind us of just how loony smart people can get.

Posted by scott at 01:38 PM | Comments (0)
Face Time

Imagine walking through a crowded room, full of strangers glaring at you for no known reason. Even the most self-confident person would be intimidated. Well, new research seems to indicate that's exactly how autistic children feel all the time. By showing children pictures of different faces while scanning their brains with an MRI system, scientists discovered that while children in the control group responded negatively to hostile faces but normally to smiling ones, autistic children responded negatively to all faces shown to them. The study also indicates this is not caused by damage or malformation, but rather a lower level of activity in the fusiform region of the amigdala, the part of the brain responsible for facial recognition. These new insights could eventually lead to new treatments for this oftentimes devastating disease.

Posted by scott at 12:20 PM | Comments (0)
Mars Mix Up

While the rovers are doing very well, it seems NASA may have still managed to mess them up:

NASA's Mars rovers Opportunity and Spirit are identical twins - so alike that they even fooled NASA. Researchers have discovered that they sent the robots to Mars with an instrument meant for Opportunity inside Spirit and vice versa.

Turns out it's actually the same instrument on both rovers, it's just that each had a slightly different calibration. By using the wrong file, small errors started creeping into the data. However, now that it's been spotted, a fix is apparently very easy.

Posted by scott at 10:30 AM | Comments (0)
When the Boys are Really Bad

Omar over at Iraq the Model details a new COPS-like show that's popular in Iraq:

I will quote a short part of the conversation that took place between the officer and the criminal on TV.

Officer: were you doing these killings for Jihad?
Criminal: yes Sir.
Officer: for Jihad or for money?
Criminal: for both Sir.
Officer: how could Jihad be paid for!!
Criminal: (no answer)
Officer: you're Muslim?
Criminal: yes
Officer: on ID card, huh?
Criminal: yes
Officer: do you pray or go to the mosque?
Criminal: no
Officer: do you drink?
Criminal: yes Sir.
Officer: so you don't pray and you don't go to the mosque and you drink and you kill for money and after all this you call your evil doings Jihad?!!! And you call your group the "Islamic Army"!!
Criminal: (no answer again)
Officer: so, tell me about those 9 policemen. Where were they coming from and where were they heading?
Criminal: coming from 'Msayab and heading to Hilla
Officer: so they weren't coming from Tel Aviv? (from the officer's tone, obviously mocking the conspiracy theorists).
Criminal: no Sir, they were Iraqis.

One of the best ways to de-romanticise something is to show how it really is. War is ugly, politicians are vain, and "insurgents" are basically ignorant thugs. If we could get AP, Rueters, and the New York Times to watch, do you think they'd see?

Posted by scott at 09:37 AM | Comments (0)
Must... Buy... Useless... Crap...

Promising to be "your daily guide for unique products", seems to be a combination of all those weird mall gadget stores you browse around in but from which you never actually buy anything. From self-heating teapots to a "dancing desk water show" (really!), they've got it all and then some. In other words, if it looks cool and does something simple or goofy for a whole lot of money, you'll probably find it here.

Ah who am I kidding. I gotta have that tank game. Where's my credit card...

Posted by scott at 08:24 AM | Comments (1)
March 06, 2005
Best. Political. Joke. Evah

A bumper sticker for BOTH political parties. The hottest selling bumper sticker comes from New York State:


Democrats put it on the rear bumper.

Republicans put it on the front bumper.

From this site, which we found via Drumwaster.

Posted by scott at 08:08 PM | Comments (1)
Be Jesus!

Ever have that urge to be Jesus but don't have the patience to grow the hair and beard?

Now you can just put your wig and beard on and go! Don't forget the toga!

*Holy water sold seperately*

We are so glad we have Joshua's X-mas present picked out for 2005.

Posted by Ellen at 06:23 PM | Comments (2)


"Excuse me, but can't you see I am shopping here?"


"'s on sale too!"


"Dad! I need money!"

Posted by Ellen at 05:20 PM | Comments (7)
Patchouli Wearers Better Watch the F--- Out

Ron gets a not-so-delicately scented no-prize for bringing us this story of one woman's perfume problem:

A woman has filed a lawsuit against the city of Norwalk for exposure to her colleagues' perfumes and colognes, alleging officials have failed to lessen her exposure to such scents in the town clerk's office and that she is being harrassed.

City worker. Who suddenly seems unable to cope with perfume. Oh yeah, this is totally just about someone's health.

"I love the sound of sirens in the morning," said the lawyer. "Sounds like... money..."

Posted by scott at 09:26 AM | Comments (2)
March 05, 2005
The Right Interest for the Wrong Reasons?

While I'm all for the recent protests in Lebanon, I wonder... would the male section of the blogosphere be quite as interested if the Lebanese nation didn't seem to be mostly made up of hotties?

I mean... really...

Posted by scott at 09:55 AM | Comments (1)
A (Radio) Peasant's Revolt?

You'd have to live under a particularly heavy rock for the past year or two not to have at least heard about satellite radio. The "digirati" have already experienced the other up-and-comer, podcasting. But is it making a difference? Is commercial radio even noticing? Well, according to this Business Week article, they're doing a lot more than noticing:

Lehman Brothers analyst William Meyers estimates that since many satellite listeners listen during the daily commute, the most lucrative hours, satellite alone will cut traditional radio revenue growth after 2006 to 2.5% from 4%.

A 37% drop in growth is enough to give just about any businessman the willies. And they are definitely worried:

"This is the tyranny of choice," says Fred Jacobs, founder of radio industry consultant Jacobs Media. "Companies need to rethink the competitive scenarios and take risks."

Consumers get a choice and what is the industry's response? Tyranny!!! Which is why there are already back-door attempts by the existing industry to hobble the newcomers. In spite of the sturm and drang of bloggers and columnists, they have absolutely zero chance of going anywhere, but do serve well to rattle investors in the new industries.

Equally amusing is BW's emphasis that, so far, nobody's figured out how to make money podcasting, completely ignoring the reason why... it's so cheap to do right now, you don't need to make money doing it. We wanted to create our own Weekly World News meets National Review newspaper, and blogs let us do that for less per month than what we spend on magazines. People who want to become the next K-NOTSUCK radio can now do the same for perhaps even less.

But it's only a matter of time before people do start making money at it. Satellite radio's continued growth and success seems to prove conclusively people are willing to pay for higher quality and increased choice. At least to a point at any rate. Which is what markets are all about... people offering a product for a price, and other people deciding if that price is worth it. Because, as "conventional" radio is finding out, if a product is bad enough, people won't take it even if it's free. Or, as the article puts it:

Says Rishad Tobaccowala, chief innovation officer at Publicis Groupe Media: "Radio pissed on their own product and then cluttered it up."

My friend Joshua and I already have an "Abbot and Costello" routine worked up around his "rediscovery" of radio ("Where do you fit the memory card? How big is the hard drive in it? You mean someone else picks your music for you?!?") I wonder if I'll be having the conversation for real with Olivia?

Posted by scott at 09:49 AM | Comments (0)
Speaking of Freaky 70s Horror Movie Themes...

Look, I get the heebies standing close to a regular mannequin because I keep expecting it to move. I'd have to change my pants if one actually did:

The mannequin moving in the store window is no longer a fantasy. A Japanese firm has developed a mannequin robot that can strike a pose for customers - and spy on who they are and what they're buying.

Can The Stepford Wives really be that far behind?

Posted by scott at 07:35 AM | Comments (0)
Can't. Sleep. Teddy. Will. Eat. Me...

It's not the camera that'd bother me, it's the head following me around and talking to me that'd do it:

The teddy bear sitting in the corner of the child's room might look normal, until his head starts following the kid around using a face recognition program, perhaps also allowing a parent talk to the child through a special phone, or monitor the child via a camera and wireless Internet connection.

The plush prototype, on display at Microsoft Corp.'s annual gadget showcase Wednesday, is one of several ideas researchers have for robots.

The basic problem with this idea in our own household is Olivia's tendency to grab whichever stuffed animal catches her fancy, hug it cutely, then drop it on the floor and thunder away after an unsuspecting cat. So until Teddy can talk and walk, I see limited utility here.

Posted by scott at 07:20 AM | Comments (1)
March 04, 2005
Definitely Gotta Get One of These

*Sigh*... So many cool toys, so little cash. Actually I think something like this could be a pretty good opportunity for someone looking to build their own "racing arcade" business. They're a lot better than the stuff you get at Dave and Busters at any rate.

Posted by scott at 03:46 PM | Comments (1)
Far as I'm Concerned, They All Should be Transported This Way

You see, that's why cats have claws:

Torri Hutchinson's cat might just have one less life to live. Hutchison was driving along Interstate 15 one day recently when a motorist kept trying to get her attention and pointing to the roof of her car.
She had driven about 10 miles with the cat on top of the car, and didn't even notice the feline when she stopped for gas.

Hang on kitty! Hang on!

Posted by scott at 02:25 PM | Comments (0)
Don't Mess with Little Old Ladies

What happens when a thug runs into a bunch of little old ladies? Well, listen and find out.

To me it just sounds too good to be true, but amazingly enough even Snopes hasn't disproved it. I guess if you wait long enough and are lucky enough, just about anything can happen.

Meanwhile, if I bang into a car full of old ladies, I'm going to let Ellen go talk to them.

Via Silflay.

Posted by scott at 01:36 PM | Comments (0)
Larry's Vista and Other Items of Interest is carrying another update on those trail terrors, the Mars rovers. Both have now traveled farther in the last few weeks than they did in the first two months of their mission. Spirit has made like a six-wheeled mountain goat and climbed to "Larry's Lookout", a spot about 200 feet above its landing site. On the other side of the planet, Opportunity is still trekking southward toward a rugged landscape called "etched terrain". Now that the Martian spring is in full swing, scientists are looking forward to perhaps another entire Martian summer and fall of exploration. Assuming the rovers hold together:

"It seems like every time we go higher on Husband Hill, we find more interesting stuff," [said Steve Squyres, leader of the Mars rover science team at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York] ... "but we’ve completely voided the warranty at this point. Every day is a gift," Squyres concluded.

Very cool!

Posted by scott at 12:00 PM | Comments (0)
WARNING: Chimps != Pets

Ellen, being a former tech at a primate lab, will probably find this story grim but unsurprising:

Several chimpanzees broke from their cages at an animal sanctuary Thursday and attacked two visitors, seriously injuring them, authorities said. Sanctuary workers shot and killed two of the powerful animals.

Officials did not immediately release the victims' names, but a television station reported that they were a couple who were visiting another chimpanzee that had been removed from their home years earlier for his own aggressive behavior.

Every primatologist I've spoken with or read has remarked that chimps are unusually excitable primates, most often compared to three year old humans. They tend to, well, freak out. In a toddler, this can be amusing. In a 150-pound-plus creature that is nearly as smart and can unscrew your head with its bare hands, not so much.

Posted by scott at 10:46 AM | Comments (0)
More "Hobbit Hominid" News

While I saw it in the Washington Post, this New Scientist article covers the same press conference without requiring registration:

Analysis of the diminutive cranium of Homo floresiensis - a tiny hobbit-like human that lived in Indonesia just 13,000 years ago - confirms it as a unique species and reveals remarkably advanced features for such a small brain.
This adds weight to the theory that H. floresiensis may have possessed an intelligence and tool-building ability traditionally associated with much larger-brained humans. The charred bones of animals were also found in the caves on Flores. "It may well be that the population was hunting, making tools and using fire," says Falk. "I'm conservative by nature but in light of these features we find nothing to contradict this speculation."

Scientific American did a big write-up on this in their last print issue. It looks as if many of the objections raised there (microcephaly in particular) are being answered. It would also seem the fear that the Indonesian scientist who had taken ultimate possession of the fossils would hide them away forever is turning out to be unfounded.

Posted by scott at 09:30 AM | Comments (2)
Maybe it's Time to Start Saving Nickles and Dimes Too

The news from Geneva just seems to get better and better (emphasis added):

In a polished and well thought out speech, [new CEO] Kalbfell spoke of his plans, as well as mentioning, for the first time officially, that a return to the USA was on the cards.
It is also believed that GM are busily co-operating with Alfa Romeo in order to get the 'Premium' floorpan finalised for US homologation, ready for the Alfa 159 and Brera's North American arrival late next year.

Yeah, and they'll be using GM engines too. Might as well buy a Pontiac. Well, not quite:

The engine is uniquely different from any of the other variants of the GM V6 engine range, and can be described as a true Alfa Romeo gem, with the majority of components having been redesigned around the bare block.

As described by the leader behind the technical development centre at Alfa Romeo, Paulo Massai, the block itself can be regarded as an “insensitive and inanimate piece of metal”, with the features that determine the true soul of the engine having been fully engineered from the ground up.

Skepticisms about the GM connotations of this engine should thus be swept under the carpet, as the engine features a brand new cylinder head, new liners, pistons, manifolds and injection system, to name but a few of the changes.

The trick is, as always, figuring out how to afford one. I hear children are fetching very high prices nowadays...

Oh come on people. It's a joke. I wouldn't sell Olivia. I'm sure reasonable leasing deals would be far more lucrative.

Posted by scott at 08:37 AM | Comments (1)
March 03, 2005
When White People Attack

Baby Got Bible!.

I don't know if they are for real or not!

Posted by Ellen at 08:11 PM | Comments (2)
When the Moonbats Twirl in the Night

Hunter Thompson was working on WTC collapse story before mysterious sudden death, warned he'd be 'suicided'

*Oh oh oh!! I know I know I know!!!! You see, Bush was wearing a sparkly pink tutu when a bunch of monkeys riding on seahorses came knocking on Hunter's door for a tea party. But the monkeys didn't like Earl Grey tea so they got mad and made cherry jell-o instead. Bush decided that there should be fruit inside the jell-o so they had to wait a little longer. In the meantime, a bunch of Republicans were waiting on the front porch twirling like ballerinas creating a whirlwind to make the jell-o cool faster. This is when Hunter had a fit and decided to eat some lead instead of the jell-o.*

See... see... both paragraphs are ridiculous. The challenge, of course, is figuring out which one is actually fiction.

The sad thing is, we're pretty sure our moonbat readers are actually thinking about this one.

Update: Linkee now workee.

Posted by Ellen at 07:55 PM | Comments (1)
What Do You Think?

Check out the wedding dress! No one out there seems to know if this is a real wedding or not.

Those of us in the belly dance community pretty much know this is a bra/belt set from a dance costume.

Smoke em' if you got em' right?

Ok, I'll admit it. I like the dress.

Posted by Ellen at 07:52 PM | Comments (0)

Pat gets a winged no-prize for being the first to let us know Steve Fossett has successfully completed the first unrefueled, solo flight around the world. Congratulations go out to Mr. Fossett, his crew, his sponsors, and his designers!

Posted by scott at 03:29 PM | Comments (1)
Sickert Counterpoint

Readers of Patricia Cornwell's Jack the Ripper -- Case Closed should find this counterpoint site of interest. While the authors of these articles engage in almost as much cherry-picking refuting Cornwell as she did making her case, they still provide an interesting counter-argument to the book.

I read the book over the summer, and while I found it interesting (at least as much for her vivid depiction of late 19th-century London as anything else), I found her conclusions interesting but largely circumstantial. Still, what she's found implicating Sickert seems to be more than anyone else has found for any other suspect, so for me Sickert is certainly a suspect, albeit not a "definitive" one.

Posted by scott at 03:12 PM | Comments (0)
Normally, I'd Expect Something Like This to be in Japan

Liz gets a rather surprising no-prize for bringing us the Best. Vending. Machine. Eva:

Dutch people love automated machines: you can get cash, food, tooth brushes and condoms from the wall. But the southern Dutch city of Tilburg has gone one step further: a machine stocked with vibrators.

I just keep getting this image of some punk getting squashed under one of these things. "Please..." he'd gasp dramatically, "don't... tell... mother..." Then the entire machine would begin to hum a very special dirge.

See, I told you I need to get out more.

Posted by scott at 01:30 PM | Comments (0)
Nippon Navy Rising?

The navy nuts in the audience (you know who you are) should find this brief overview of the modern Japanese navy interesting. According to the article at least, it's quite a bit stronger than you'd think.

Which is good, because in spite of China's enormous army, the outcome of any real conflict involving Japan, China, and (presumably) the US and Taiwan will be determined at sea.

Posted by scott at 12:35 PM | Comments (0)
RIP: Bubba the Lobster

Damion gets a sad but tasty no-prize for bringing us news that Bubba the giant lobster has died:

The leviathan of a lobster died Wednesday afternoon at the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium about a day after he was moved from Wholey's Market, said zoo spokeswoman Rachel Capp and Bob Wholey, owner of the fish market.

Pardon me, I need to go tackle Ellen before she starts trying to clarify ten pounds of butter...

Posted by scott at 11:38 AM | Comments (0)
Boy, This'd Make Fajitas a B*tch

Ron gets a buff no-prize for bringing us news of a most interesting dining experience:

The diners arrived at a nice Manhattan restaurant on a cold February night and stripped off coats, hats, gloves and scarves. They didn’t stop there.

Skirts, shirts, pants, underwear and stockings all ended up stashed in plastic bags by the bar as the patrons got naked for the monthly “Clothing Optional Dinner.”

The thing is, it's been my experience that the people who most want to be seen naked are the ones I'd least like to see with clothes on. And then there's a whole host of folks who just don't care, who simply enjoy the lifestyle. So we're almost certainly not talking about a night filled with naked Claudia Schiffer and Jonny Depp clones. Instead, it'd probably be a night filled with people like your aunt Judy and cousin Frank. Again, nothing wrong with that, but definitely not the "lookee-loo" sort of thing people initially imagine when the word "nudist" pops up.

Posted by scott at 10:18 AM | Comments (1)
Taste the (Musical) Rainbow

Well, allrighty then:

Life, according to the British band The Verve, is a bittersweet symphony. But for one musician in Switzerland who can "taste" sounds the symphony is also disgusting, and tastes of mown grass and low-fat cream.

The originating article appears in Nature, so I'll refrain from coughing "Bullsh*t" on this one. For now at least. I wonder which music tastes like chicken?

Posted by scott at 09:16 AM | Comments (1)
Cooking the Home Depot Way

Carrie gets a surprisingly practical no-prize for bringing us this Washington Post article detailing how cooks are finding nifty tools in unexpected places:

Practicality rules in the restaurant galley, where some tools come straight from the hardware store. A putty knife can make perfect chocolate curls, and simple polyvinyl chloride (PVC) pipe can mold an elegant appetizer. Chefs find such items are often sturdier or less expensive than the designer widgets sold in kitchen stores.

Alton Brown of Good Eats fame has been doing stuff like this for years, but it's hard to say who got the idea first.

Posted by scott at 08:16 AM | Comments (1)
March 02, 2005
Shh! Be Quiet!

shh! 042 Medium Web view.jpg

Olivia has a new feature! We apparently were laughing too loud when she jumped up and did the 'SHH!' noise and collapsed to the floor in a fake snore. She is not even 2 and she is already bossy. Mommy's girl!

I need a video camera.

Posted by Ellen at 05:58 PM | Comments (15)
Tawny Peaks!

Buy Tawny Peaks's breast implant!

Posted by Ellen at 04:13 PM | Comments (2)
Piano Man

I found this tidbit this morning.



Posted by Ellen at 09:50 AM | Comments (2)
(Automotive) Ch-ch-ch-changes

Carrie gets a greasy no-prize for bringing us this WaPo article about the radical changes in auto maintenance:

Components that were once purely mechanical -- brakes, steering, suspension -- are now either electronic or controlled by computers. It's still possible to spend a Sunday afternoon tinkering on your Lexus in the driveway, if by tinkering you mean changing the oil. Otherwise, most home mechanics are restricted to cosmetic changes, such as installing a new sound system or putting light-up dragon heads on the wiper fluid nozzles. Almost anything that makes a car perform better is going to involve electronics.

Which is why I tinker with the Spider, but I take the Cruiser to a mechanic.

However, there's still a whole host of things that really are purely mechanical, even on new cars: bushings, bearings, tie rod ends, ball joints, struts, radiators... the list goes on and on. Of course, as the article notes, if you want to make a car perform better, you'll definitely end up at a computer screen at some point.

Even then real performance gains are still mostly mechanical. In spite of the "tuner" mindset, re-chipping or re-programming will typically only get you an extra 5%, tops. To go any further requires new pistons, re-worked heads, different gear ratios, turbos, etc., all of which require a lot more wrenching than programming.

And that's just when you're trying to make, say, a defenseless Honda Civic HX go faster. Going up the food chain into vehicles designed for high performance (Corvettes, Cobra Mustangs, Trans-Ams and Z-28s, those Mitsaru R4TYSi8-Evo things, basically any Alfa) means the factory is already doing all the easy stuff for you. Making those go significantly faster automatically means you're taking apart the motor or major chunks of the suspension.

With these cars though, there's no free lunch... modifying them for major performance gains will always result in degrading their streetability. Some folks (typically men between 16 and 25 with no family) think that's fine, and hey why not... it's your vehicle and your money. Others think a kidney-punching roller coaster ride isn't much fun when all it really does it get you to the grocery store 2 seconds faster.

In case you haven't noticed, I tend to fall into the latter category. As far as I'm concerned, I'd rather spend my money on a car that's already got the fast bits designed in at the factory. After all, they're in the best position to do it and do it right. Yeah, assuming my "Pennies for Alfas" program actually yields me a new 159 in a few years, I may succumb to the temptation of a computer tweak or two. But then again, maybe not.

In the meantime I'll stick with my 32 year-old sports car, which requires enough basic maintenance to keep just about any gearhead as busy as they want to be.

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

He's Bubba, a 22-pound leviathan of a lobster pulled from the waters off Nantucket, Mass., and shipped to a Pittsburgh fish market. The lobster has been kept in a tank near a fish counter in Wholey's Market since Thursday while owner Bob Wholey tried to figure out what to do with it.

On Tuesday, Wholey gave the lobster to the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium, which will send him to an aquarium at a Ripley's Believe It or Not museum.

Based on how long it typically takes a lobster to reach eating size about five to seven years to grow to a pound some estimate Bubba is 100 years old.

Read entire article here.

With pix!

Posted by Ellen at 08:33 AM | Comments (0)
March 01, 2005
The Power of the Blog!

It is an amazing day when an old friend from high school finds you from your blog!

Posted by Ellen at 08:22 PM | Comments (0)
The Color of WWI

Silflay linked up these very interesting color photographs from World War I. Maybe the shutterbugs in the audience can help explain why these pictures are, for the most part, so startlingly clear and bright, when most other WWI photography seems so gritty and dindge. Subsequent photoshopping?

Regardless, I think it's a bit startling to realize every single person in these picturees, right down to the children, are now long gone. It was a time of fundamental transition from the pastoral to the industrial, and as such there are many, many reminders of a far different age than our own. It's good to keep in mind these people had no access to antibiotics, usually had more than ten children (of whom perhaps seven would live past their fifth birthday), and typically (in the US at least) lived on a farm with mules instead of tractors.

Posted by scott at 04:07 PM | Comments (1)
Not Much of A Surprise, but...

Burt Rutan's SpaceShipOne will be going on display at the National Air and Space Museum some time this year. I know I'm supposed to cherish "baby time", and I am, but I must say I'm also looking forward to the time when I can use my child as an excuse to go see stuff like this. Of course, that means the little monster probably will care less, but that's OK. Bribery should suffice.

It's a joke people, laugh!

Posted by scott at 02:11 PM | Comments (0)
The Rules of the (Male) Road

Ladies: Read. Learn. Understand.

Guys don't need to, we already know this stuff.

Posted by scott at 01:16 PM | Comments (1)
Somehow, I Don't Think Even This Will Get Her to Watch the Show

In the "nice work if you can get it" file, we have this purportedly 6-figure job:

Viacom's Country Music Television channel is running help wanted ads for this position -- Vice President, CMT Dukes of Hazzard Institute. That's right. That's what the ads say, noting the pay is $100,000 for the duration of a one-year contract.

The vice president will have to watch Dukes of Hazzard every weeknight on Country Music Television, know all the words to The Dukes of Hazzard theme song and write the Dukes of Hazzard on-line blog for, Country Music Television's Web site.

I'd send Ellen's resume in as a joke, but I don't feel like visiting a hospital any time soon.

Posted by scott at 12:21 PM | Comments (1)
An Invisibility Cloak for Really Tiny People

Slashdot linked up a new technique for making things "invisible" to electromagnetic radiation. The article plays up the "cloak of invisibility" angle, right up to the point where the scientists point out for their technique to work it requires objects to be smaller than the (single!) wavelength of light you're trying to "shield" against.

However, the technique should have far broader applications against lower frequencies like those found in radar. Which makes me wonder... about fifteen years ago Aviation Week & Space Technology reported the gold tinting seen on many aircraft canopies and windows was actually a stealth technology. This technique uses gold and silver as its primary materials. Could civilian scientists have independently stumbled onto how that sort of thing actually works?

Yeah, probably not. But things like that have happened before!

Posted by scott at 10:17 AM | Comments (1)
Playin' with Your Future

Pat gets a well-invested no-prize for bringing us a"for dummies" look at that rarest of birds, a successful federal program. In this case, it's the Thrift Savings Program. Why should you care? As noted above, it seems to actually work; it's also one of the programs the Bush administration is putting forward as a model for re-vamping social security. I know of a few financial bloggers out there, I'll try to shop this link around to them and see if I can get them to comment. If that happens, I'll link in updates on this story.

Posted by scott at 09:18 AM | Comments (1)
Playin' with Your Food Show

Well, it had to happen some time... Good Eats now has a drinking game. Having seen nearly all of them at this point (TiVo rox), I can say this one should get you feeling nice and toasty within the 22 minutes a show runs (no commercials... did I mention TiVo rox?) Just don't, you know, try to cook or anything when you're done.

Posted by scott at 08:15 AM | Comments (0)