April 29, 2005

Robert H. gets a strangely attractive squealing no-prize for bringing us an interesting variation on the "God kills a kitten" saying.

Posted by scott at 10:45 AM | Comments (1)

In-laws are up, complete with children and pets, so it's going to be pretty quiet around here for awhile. Will keep you posted...

Posted by scott at 10:43 AM | Comments (0)
April 28, 2005

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

Richie gets a very pornish No-prize with the latest video game for adults only!

Posted by Ellen at 05:06 PM | Comments (3)

Posted by Ellen at 04:36 PM | Comments (0)
Postcards from a Far, Far Away Edge

I guess we can call the whole blog thing officially over if this guy can get one:

Big day. Storming the rebel ice fortress.

Took a nap first so I would be peppy. Leg feels pretty good.

Admiral Ozzol took the fleet out of hyerspace too close to Hoth, and the Rebel Alliance were -- you guessed it -- alerted to our approach. The cornerstone of Ozzel's arrogance is his insistence that rebel technology is so vastly inferior to Imperial technology that we need broker no caution.

This attitude is typical of a man who could not rephase his own fusion orb if his life depended on it. He cannot fathom what rebel engineers may accomplish out of desperation. People who are good with things, people like me, can appreciate the infinite diversity of possible tools buried in artful combinations of even the humblest technologies. Give me an hour to reconfigure an industrial grade repulsolift and I will give you an ion cannon and enough parts left over to build a droid to run it.

Ozzel just isn't the creative type.

The problem is solved now, however. I crushed his trachea with my mind, and promoted Piett to command the fleet.

Surprisingly well written, and not completely silly after all. Recommended to all Star Wars fans.

Via Siflay

Posted by scott at 02:26 PM | Comments (0)
By the Pound

Ever wonder what they do with all the confiscated crap at the airport?

"Are you thinking what I'm thinking Pinky?"

"I fink so Brain, but thirty-five pounds of scissors? The fetish club would never be the same!"

Posted by scott at 01:34 PM | Comments (4)
'es not Bleedin Demised!

Ron gets a no-prize he can drill holes with for bringing us news of the discovery of living specimens belonging to a woodpecker species thought to be extinct:

The ivory-billed woodpecker, long feared extinct, has been seen in a remote part of Arkansas 60 years after the last confirmed U.S. sighting, ornithologists said Thursday.

Includes this nice bon mot: ''This is huge. Just huge,'' said Frank Gill, senior ornithologist at the Audubon Society. ''It is kind of like finding Elvis.''

Well, we all gotta get excited about something.

Posted by scott at 12:05 PM | Comments (1)
A "Sudden" Turnaround

As expected, media revision about the economy is in full swing:

Economy grows at slowest pace in two years

APR. 28 8:49 A.M. ET Buffeted by rising energy prices and weakened consumer and business spending, the economy grew at an annual rate of just 3.1 percent in the first quarter. It was the slowest pace of expansion in two years, offering fresh evidence that the economy has hit another "soft patch."

That's right folks! Just like in the 1980s, we've suddenly swung from "recession woes" to "when will the current expansion end?" without so much as a whisper about the transition. Even better, back in the 1990s, a "soft patch" of 3% growth was considered ideal (emphasis added):

An analysis of the Federal Reserve’s Humphrey-Hawkins report to Congress and Mr. Greenspan’s public statements indicates that the Fed’s current view is that the long-term sustainable growth rate is a bit better than 3 percent.

Historically, developed nations have averaged a 2% growth rate for nearly 200 years now*. Anything more or less than that is a sign of a business cycle. We don't want growth rates higher than 5%, because this always means a recession is in the wings. A 3.1% growth rate is just about right, especially considering the steps the fed has had to take recently to reign in inflation. This is not the sign of an economy "gone soft", it's a sign of a robust economy with a well-managed money supply and healthy capital markets.

While the article has a Business Week header, it's really an AP report, which I find comforting. I normally expect a trade publication to actually be savvy about the trade it purports to cover, and I found such an obvious liberal MSM spin rather disconcerting. Instead it's just standard wire-service Bush bashing, albeit to me in an unexpected place.

For awhile there it was sort of like having your grandmother walk in, sit down, and then beat you stupid at Halo or something.

* Not as depressing as it sounds, actually. While the average growth rate of a developed industrial nation has been about 2% for the past two centuries, the average growth rate of a developed agricultural nation (which is what all sophisticated civilizations were until about 1820) was about .01%. When you mix in the explosive growth developing economies experience as they modernize, the picture becomes quite rosy indeed. For further reading, see The Birth of Plenty.

Posted by scott at 10:09 AM | Comments (1)
India In The Window
Posted by Ellen at 04:23 AM | Comments (1)

Pile it on!

Posted by Ellen at 04:02 AM | Comments (0)
The Spaghetti Incident

Posted by Ellen at 03:40 AM | Comments (4)
April 27, 2005
Dirty Skies

While the Huygens probe's mission may be over, Cassini continues to examine that enigmatic Saturn moon, Titan:

During its closest flyby of Saturn's moon Titan on April 16, the Cassini spacecraft came within 1,027 kilometers (638 miles) of the moon's surface and found that the outer layer of the thick, hazy atmosphere is brimming with complex hydrocarbons.

Scientists believe that Titan's atmosphere may be a laboratory for studying the organic chemistry that preceded life and provided the building blocks for life on Earth. The role of the upper atmosphere in this organic "factory" of hydrocarbons is very intriguing to scientists, especially given the large number of different hydrocarbons detected by Cassini during the flyby.

While Mars's atmosphere is thin enough that flying probes can be problematic, I wonder if Titan's is thick enough? After all, the chances for a liquid surface on Titan are much greater, and I'd hate for the next mission to that moon to end with a sad "splork!"

Posted by scott at 03:19 PM | Comments (1)
Eh, It's a Living

The more morbid and/or odd-history fans out there should find this Washington City Paper article on the history of body snatching in the DC area of interest:

When it came to professional grave robbers, the District of Columbia—which boasted four medical schools and some 50-odd cemeteries—had them in spades. In the last two decades of the 19th century, it was home to some of the most infamous resurrection men—and women—in the United States. William Jansen, the brother-and-sister team of Percy and Maud Brown, and the trigger-happy Marlow Gang all conducted business in the city during those years. All of them achieved the kind of public notoriety that is reserved, nowadays, for upper-echelon Mafiosi and high-profile killers.

The city's laws against grave robbing were, until the very late 1800s, remarkably lax. Indeed,Washington had no law against body snatching per se until the 1890s. As long as the "ghouls" left the victims' clothing behind, they couldn't be prosecuted for larceny. As a result, police who caught grave robbers even in the act were reduced to charging them with violation of obscure laws that brought about only token penalties.


Posted by scott at 02:19 PM | Comments (0)
Hello, el Gringo Calling

I'm sure there really are loons on the left who think Bush is targeting Venezuela for invasion:

Telephone callers at Venezuela's oil ministry are getting the low-down on the country's oil strategy direct from President Hugo Chavez.

"What is the reason for the imperialist aggression against our country? Venezuela is the world's top oil reserve and the world's oil is running out," the short, repeated recording of a recent Chavez speech tells phoners as their call is put on hold and transferred internally.

This reminds me of a conversation I had with my old Argentinian boss, maybe in 1997:

A: [Must be imagined in ridiculous Ricky-Ricardo-style* Latin accent] "It will be such a shame if America and Argentina don't repair their relationship. It could lead to a war."

ME: "A war? Really?"

A: "Yes!"

ME, quietly, after a really long pause: "Well, that would be kind of a short war, don't you think?"

No, I've never been one for subtlety.

* Yes yes, I know, Ricky Ricardo was from Cuba. If I said "in ridiculous Argentinian accent" you'd have no idea what I was talking about. Trust me, this is close enough.

Posted by scott at 01:29 PM | Comments (2)
WANTED: Very Small Executioner Hoods

BBCnews is carrying this report detailing a rather startling method of predation recently found in a species of ant:

A fierce species of Amazonian ant has been seen building elaborate traps on which hapless prey are stretched like medieval torture victims, before being slowly hacked to pieces.
There is no limit to the ants' ambition and they will attempt to catch any mammoth of the insect world - so long as it has slender legs.

Color me glad I have big feet!

Posted by scott at 11:43 AM | Comments (0)
Stunningly Simple

There's pizza cutters, and then there's pizza cutters. Not sure I'd go for the one with the spike on the handle. I wonder if they're dishwasher-safe?

Posted by scott at 09:54 AM | Comments (0)

Jeff gets a gigantic flying no-prize for letting us know Airbus's A380 has successfully made its first flight. Dulles is big enough for one of these things, but AvWeek didn't list it as one of the airports scheduled for them. Bugger.

Posted by scott at 09:07 AM | Comments (0)
Even More Turkey Terror

Ok, that's it, under no circumstances am I going anywhere near a turkey:

Two elderly men who had gone turkey hunting together died from apparent heart attacks just minutes apart, authorities said.

CHEECH: "I mean, don't you see it? They're psychic killers now man! Like, they got, I dunno, turkey death rays or something. We'll all be, you know, walking through the forest and, like, all of a sudden WAOWAOWAOWAO! The turkey's eyes'll start all glowing and stuff man, and we'll just all keel over!"

CHONG: "I dunno man, psychic killer turkeys sound pretty cool to me."

CHEECH: "Well, yeah, I guess so. Except around, you know, Thanksgiving and stuff..."

Posted by scott at 08:12 AM | Comments (0)
April 26, 2005


Posted by Ellen at 08:03 PM | Comments (0)
Some Serious Leg Licking Going On!

Posted by Ellen at 07:55 PM | Comments (4)
India in the Catnip Mats


Posted by Ellen at 07:49 PM | Comments (0)

Rob E. gets a L33T no-prize for bringing us the story of the "dangerous" hacker. It's a little technical, but not much. Sysadmins in particular should get a good chuckle.

Posted by scott at 03:15 PM | Comments (0)
Because the Mind is a Terrible Thing

First radio-controlled rats, now mind reading machines:

It is possible to read someone’s mind by remotely measuring their brain activity, researchers have shown. The technique can even extract information from subjects that they are not aware of themselves.

So far, it has only been used to identify visual patterns a subject can see or has chosen to focus on. But the researchers speculate the approach might be extended to probe a person’s awareness, focus of attention, memory and movement intention. In the meantime, it could help doctors work out if patients apparently in a coma are actually conscious.

Further reading seems to indicate they're actually a long way from reading minds. In fact, this sounds quite similar to a primate biology experiment I read about back in high school, but as I recall that required the injection of special chemicals to allow a scanner to read the patterns.

So I wouldn't expect mind reading devices to show up any time soon, but it is nice to know they're working on comparatively objective methods of judging consciousness.

Posted by scott at 01:56 PM | Comments (1)
I'll Call it a "Cougar", You Might Call it a "Warthog"

From various sources: Boy, the press sure does think mighty highly of Humvee armor. Note caption on the lower-left side:

The Armor Tempered steel, 3/8-inch thick, is capable of withstanding 155mm Howitzer rounds.

For those of you who don't spend your free time memorizing the various statistics of military gear (I have a life! I do! It just involves learning about cool things that blow stuff up. It is so a life! THhhppt!!!), the caption claims that, with this armor, a Humvee can withstand a hit from one of these. Most buildings can't stand up to a 155.

Silly press monkeys.

Posted by scott at 12:58 PM | Comments (5)
Where's Wink Martindale When You Need Him?

Well, how good are you at guessing?

Best I've done so far was 254.

Via Silflay

Posted by scott at 11:56 AM | Comments (1)
Paging Captain Obvious, White Courtesy Phone Please

Remember folks, cause and effect should never stand in the way of your bias politics agenda point of view:

While the crime rate has fallen over the past decade, the number of people in prison and jail is outpacing the number of inmates released, said the report's co-author, Paige Harrison.

Nope, no connection at all. Nothing to see here folks, please don't mind the man behind the curtain.

But wait! It gets better! (emphasis added):

Florida has a track record as a gun-law trendsetter. In the mid-1980s, the NRA chose Florida to launch a push for "conceal carry" or "right-to-carry" laws.
At the time, fewer than a dozen states had right-to-carry laws. Now there are 38.

[O]pponents [of Florida's recently passed "meet force with force" law] counter that Florida's drop [in violent crimes over the past 16 years] is not tied to the gun law and note that national violent-crime rates have been trending down.

Of course, the reporters aren't the ones who are biased. They're just regurgitating press releases (the first story is AP, but was essentially identical to the WaPo story I read). It's not their fault the sources have an agenda. I mean, come on, do you actually expect them to find other points of view? Present both sides with equal time and even treatment? Actually get out and do some reporting instead of parroting press releases from their friends? Find out the truth?!? That's not their job!

Oh, wait...

Posted by scott at 10:52 AM | Comments (1)
~ Star Wars / Made Lots of Money / Made Me a Big Star / Paid Off My House ~

Slashdot linked up news "from the source" concerning new developments in the Star Wars universe. Lucas has now confirmed both a full-length (30 minute) 3D animated series based on the much shorter Clone Wars series, as well as a live-action TV series. The live-action variety will be set between episodes III and IV, and apparently will not concentrate on the same characters as the movies.

Lucas has always been a better producer than director, so I'm actually optimistic about this stuff. We'll see!

Posted by scott at 09:55 AM | Comments (0)

Fark linked up this nice de-bunking of the "Paul is dead" urban legend. It was bad enough that I had to explain it all to Ellen a few months ago. Now I'm beginning to realize I'm probably going to have to explain who Paul is to Olivia.

Why yes, I just did have a birthday. Why do you ask?

Posted by scott at 08:51 AM | Comments (1)
April 25, 2005

blowing bubbles.jpg
Posted by Ellen at 08:55 PM | Comments (1)
Brown Eyed Girl

cute baby.jpg
Posted by Ellen at 08:46 PM | Comments (2)
NO Hair Washing!


As you can see, she detests the hair wash.

Posted by Ellen at 08:39 PM | Comments (4)
Bundle Up!


Note she is wearing MY sneakers, my jacket and my sock in her hand!

Posted by Ellen at 07:00 PM | Comments (1)
Rent A Dildo!

This is just gross!!

Posted by Ellen at 06:35 PM | Comments (0)
Playing with Your Head

Ok, I have a hard enough time standing up straight as it is. Any of you people re-work your living room to "defy gravity" and then invite me over, I'm not paying for stuff I break. Capice?

Posted by scott at 02:51 PM | Comments (0)
RegEx, Get Yer RegEx Here

Just ginned up another regular expression that will hopefully prevent a new kind of comment spam from getting through. This time, we take advantage of someone who seems rather lazy about their random e-mail address generator. However, as with all reg-ex's, it might catch someone legit. If you suddenly find you can't comment, e-mail us and we'll fix it.

Posted by scott at 01:28 PM | Comments (0)
Big Fish, Little Ponds

Lest ye think all DC-area political action happens on the hill, we have this story of a more local political drama:

People have dragged a hodgepodge of props -- sheep, tractors, Darth Vader, Patrick Henry, fake coffins, the music of Tammy Wynette, thousands of Monopoly houses -- into the battle over suburban sprawl in Loudoun County.

But none of the theatrics ever got anyone into serious trouble, until a man walked up to the podium at a board of supervisors meeting last year and identified himself as "Mr. Valerie Kelly," the husband of a vocal critic of development.

Ms. Kelly is a real charmer too:

Valerie Kelly was sitting in the audience that February morning last year when Grigsby appeared before the board inside its Leesburg chambers. The 56-year-old Middleburg woman was outraged. Here was a man she barely knew pretending to be her husband, telling everyone that she didn't respect him anymore.

"I was stunned," she recalled. "I was completely stunned."

But she didn't say anything. Actually, she couldn't say anything: Her mouth was taped shut.

At the previous board meeting, Supervisor Stephen J. Snow (R-Dulles) had referred to Kelly as an "idiot" after she blurted out a remark about his ancestors (he later apologized). So in part to protest Snow's comment, Kelly attended the meeting wearing a piece of duct tape over her mouth, one of several theatrical presentations she has made before the supervisors over the years.

Our old friend the Bishop would almost certainly feel right at home with these people.

My mom used to be a part of a local city council, and her tales of pettiness, lunacy, and political mayhem were quite similar to this.

Posted by scott at 01:11 PM | Comments (0)
Sun Room? We Don't Need No Stinking Sun Room!

This guy's video game collection is actually bigger than the one at the local Chuck E. Cheese. Complete with working change machine! This'll definitely go in the plans for the "lottery-win" dream home.

Posted by scott at 11:43 AM | Comments (2)
Remote Rats

New Scientist is reporting on a startling new development in a DARPA-funded research project that seems to have created remoted controlled rats:

The rodents are directed using a series of brain implants, which can be operated wirelessly from a distance of several hundred metres. Now, for the first time, the researchers behind the project have demonstrated the ability to control the rodents' movements before activating their “sniffer dog” instincts.

The objective is a much smaller (and cheaper) bomb and drug sniffer. Foil hat "this is what the Republicans are gonna do to all of us! Run for your lives!" responses in 3... 2... 1...

Posted by scott at 09:29 AM | Comments (1)
Probably as Entertaining to Watch as the Next Movie

Impressive, most impressive:

25 year old Brandon Erickson of Portland, Oregon will attempt what few have achieved - a non-stop marathon play of the original Star Wars Arcade video game. From noon May 16th to the midnight screening of Episode III on May 18th, he hopes to break a 22 year old record standing since Return of the Jedi in 1983.

I was top-dog on this game back in high school (it was a small town after all), but I honestly can't remember what my highest-of-high scores was. I guess it's time to hang up the ol' nerd badge after all.

Posted by scott at 08:21 AM | Comments (2)
Happy Birthday Scott!

Happy Birthday Scott!

No, I won't tell everyone how old you are :)

Posted by Ellen at 06:46 AM | Comments (3)
April 24, 2005

DSC_0037 Medium Web view.jpg
Posted by Ellen at 03:57 PM | Comments (0)
Bird on a Limb

Posted by Ellen at 03:35 PM | Comments (0)
Bradford Pear
Posted by Ellen at 11:00 AM | Comments (0)
Swiffer It!


Swiffer it, just a little bit!

Posted by Ellen at 09:47 AM | Comments (7)
Ghost Detector

Rich, you need one of these.

Posted by Ellen at 08:20 AM | Comments (0)

Make your very own fizzing fizzing bath bomb!

Posted by Ellen at 08:16 AM | Comments (0)
April 23, 2005
Monkey Bar Queen


Our child a primate? You don't say.

Posted by Ellen at 07:48 PM | Comments (1)
When the Toads Go "Boom"

You just can't make this stuff up:

Hundreds of toads have met a bizarre and sinister end in Germany in recent days, it was reported: they exploded.

According to reports from animal welfare workers and veterinarians as many as a thousand of the amphibians have perished after their bodies swelled to bursting point and their entrails were propelled for up to a metre (three feet).

Includes a great non-sequitor shot of some toads gettin' bizzy. If this story is to be believed, the male may find himself in the next county if he's not careful.

Posted by scott at 07:39 PM | Comments (2)
Doo Dee Doo...

Posted by Ellen at 02:02 PM | Comments (1)
Hrmm...What Other Twig Do I Want?

Posted by Ellen at 01:25 PM | Comments (0)
O in the Swing

Posted by Ellen at 01:16 PM | Comments (2)

Posted by Ellen at 12:53 PM | Comments (3)
They Speak!!

Talking Jesus action figures.

Don't forget to click on each character to hear them talk!

Posted by Ellen at 09:46 AM | Comments (3)
Cutie Baby!

Posted by Ellen at 08:50 AM | Comments (1)
See What Happens When I Find You Experimented With My Camera?


I Post your pix you took:)

Posted by Ellen at 08:38 AM | Comments (1)
Olivia A Go-Go


Note the normal clothing is covered in bellydance costuming with the snow boots (they light up).

Posted by Ellen at 08:17 AM | Comments (3)
April 22, 2005
Bunny Love

NSFW due to banners!

Bunny loves you.

Posted by Ellen at 06:24 PM | Comments (0)
Tomb Time

The Egyptologists in the audience should find this news about an ancient Egyptian burial find interesting. And when you put the words "ancient" and "Egypt" together, you know you're really saying something:

Archaeologists digging in a 5,600-year-old funeral site in southern Egypt unearthed seven corpses believed to date to the era, as well as an intact figure of a cow's head carved from flint.

The American-Egyptian excavation team made the discoveries in what they described as the largest funerary complex ever found that dates to the elusive five millenia-old Predynastic era, Egypt's Supreme Council of antiquities said Wednesday.

Yup, this stuff is nearly a thousand years older than the pyramids. Say it with me folks... cooool...

Posted by scott at 02:18 PM | Comments (0)
When Chimps Attack

No, really, when chimps attack:

When St. James Davis adopted an orphaned chimpanzee he found while on safari in Africa almost four decades ago, he hardly could have guessed how that relationship would lead to devastating trauma today.

Davis, 62, currently lies in a medically induced coma in a California hospital, his nose chewed off and his genitals and limbs severely mauled. Last month, Davis and his wife, LaDonna, were visiting the chimp they adopted at a wildlife preserve, when two other chimps attacked them.

Essentially a more detailed account of what exactly happened a few months ago when some berzerk chimps got loose and mauled two people. Even stranger, Ellen thinks she knows the "perpetrators". She once worked at an animal research facility, and when it closed some of the chimps went to this place.

Posted by scott at 12:43 PM | Comments (0)
Down in a Hole

BBC news is reporting a new caving record:

A Ukrainian team has reached a record depth of 2,080m (6,822ft), passing the elusive 2,000m mark at Krubera, the world's deepest known cave.

The nine-strong group were part of a project that has made breaking the 2,000m depth its goal for four years.

From the pictures, this isn't one of those "spectacular stalactites and stalagmites" sort of cave. Rather, it looks more like the "cold, dark, muddy hole" sort that I used to trapse around in when I was in college.

Posted by scott at 12:15 PM | Comments (0)
Stink Bomb Science

Hibernating astronauts are a staple of science fiction. Now it appears they're one step closer to reality, and you won't believe the cause:

Suspended animation has been deliberately induced in a species of mouse which does not naturally hibernate. It is the first time such a feat has been achieved, say the procedure’s pioneers.
The mice were induced to fall into their deep sleep after being exposed to hydrogen sulphide - the gas which gives rotten eggs and stink bombs their characteristic foul odour. The animals later revived in ordinary air.

And all this time Ellen's been complaining about me farting under the covers. I'm helping you sleep!

Posted by scott at 09:19 AM | Comments (2)
More Turkey Terror

I think it's time to raise the terror threat level:

Wild turkeys, some as large as four feet tall, are terrorizing people along Concord Street in Cranford [NJ].

In one instance, a letter carrier killed a bird with a stick after a group of the aggressive gobblers surrounded his truck and wouldn't let him out.

At least we know these terrorists go well with cranberry sauce!

Posted by scott at 08:21 AM | Comments (0)
April 21, 2005
More Fire Tulips

Posted by Ellen at 09:46 PM | Comments (0)
Library Cats of the World!

A very addictive site.

Posted by Ellen at 09:23 PM | Comments (0)
Always a Woman

Oh-and she never gives out
And she never gives in
She just changes her mind...

"I want a snake. I want this snake."

Ellen promptly plonked her computer on my lap, wherein I was confronted with a very large picture of a very small snake. Something red and black and (by the text) non-poisonous. Can't remember what it was exactly, because...

"What the?!? You hate snakes!"

"But look at this one! He's so cute! He'd be just perfect for a tribal belly dance routine I've been thinking about!"

"You hate snakes! You scared everyone stupid at the aquarium because you backed into a snake exhibit and screamed like a chimp on helium. Remember the trash can incident?"

And this is where they cue the wavy lines...

The only real weakness of my bike was the tires it came with. They were, to be blunt, crap, getting punctures and blowing out just by driving past sharp gravel. While it's possible to patch inner tubes, it's simpler to just replace them and be done with it. Which I was doing for the third time that month.

Since it was the day before trash day, after I tossed the old tube I decided to be a really thoughtful husband-type and take the big wheeled trash can out to the curb. It was mostly empty anyway, since we hadn't put any of the regular garbage in it yet. So out the garage door it went, into the setting sun of a standard late-summer suburban afternoon.

"Trash taken out?" she asked as I walked upstairs.

"Yup. Want me to put the kitchen garbage in it?"

"Nah, I'll do that. It's your turn to wash Olivia." We take turns at our house, alternating between cooking duties and child-washing/bedding. So while Ellen gathered up the kitchen trash bag and a few boxes to be thrown out, I started to play "chase the baby", a well-known pre-bath ritual.

As I lifted the now completely "caught" baby for the trip upstairs, I looked out the window just as Ellen lifted the lid off the trash can outside. It was at that moment, and I swear only at that moment, that I remembered something.

The inner tube I'd thrown away bore an amusing and rather convincing resemblance to a snake. A really big snake too.

She spotted the thing in mid-toss. Suddenly the trash bag went from travelling in a nice, lazy arc to a hard underthrow, sailing impressively out into the street. Time seemed to suddenly slow down as boxes held in the other hand bounced off the car parked in the driveway three feet away. She must've jumped up and backward one, maybe two feet into the air, landing square on her butt, scrabbling in a reverse spider crawl that carried her all the way to the flower bed, a good ten feet from the curb. Miraculously, there was no scream, just a faint, desperate "shi-!! shi-!! shi-!!", barely audible through the open window.

At this point I was laughing so hard I had to put the baby down. But only for a moment, since I knew "in trouble" would be a minor description of what I was in after Ellen cautiously crept up commando-like to the trash can and peered inside. Time to wash the baby.

Luckily by the time she'd gathered everything up, dropped it in the can, and came back upstairs she'd calmed down quite a bit. It also helped to have a cute baby very close by. I mean, if you can keep from smiling when Olivia plays "splash splash!" with a huge grin on her face, you're just not human.

So the voice that came over my shoulder was more sardonic than enraged. "Had a flat tire yesterday?" she asked.

Without turning around, I said, "oh yeah, sure did. Changed it just before I came upstairs." Well, no cast-iron skillet to the head yet. "Heh... it's funny, you know, that inner tube actually sorta looked like a--"

Which was right about the time she shoved me into the tub. Olivia thought this was extremely neat, and clapped enthusiastically.

And that, my friends is how daddy learned to fold the inner tubes up and put them in a bag before throwing them away.

And this is where they cue the wavy lines again...

"But this is a little snake. Not scary at all."

"No snakes."

"Awww... c'mon... just a tiny one?"

"No snakes. Your mom would have a heart attack. My mom would have a stroke. You've been terrified of these things for as long as I've known you!"

*Pout* "You're no fun at all. Nobody would be scared of this little thing. Well," and here she got an evil grin, "maybe my mom would."

"No. Snakes."

*POUT!* "Fine." Dramatic pause. "What about a chameleon?"

She is frequently kind
And she’s suddenly cruel
She can do as she pleases
She’s nobody’s fool
But she can’t be convicted
She’s earned her degree
And the most she will do
Is throw shadows at you
But she’s always a woman to me

Posted by scott at 03:30 PM | Comments (5)

BBCnews is carrying the first (that I've seen anyway) review of the upcoming Hitchiker's Guide to the Galaxy. Their verdict: definitely doesn't suck, probably could've been better.

Of course, one review does not a hit or bomb make. I'll wait for the rest of my normal reviewers (both professional and friend) before I figure out whether or not I need to find a babysitter, wait for the DVD, or pass completely.

Posted by scott at 02:10 PM | Comments (1)
Digmital Details

Instapundit linked up this NY Times story that does a nice job summing up and comparing the latest digital SLR offerings from Nikon and Canon. Considering Ellen hasn't had her D70 more than a few weeks, we may just see if we can browbeat Best Buy into giving her a D70S (they SEEM to be the same price). *shrug*... stranger things have happened.

Posted by scott at 01:03 PM | Comments (0)

Actually, that was a pretty good shot:

A driver is recovering after a frozen sausage was thrown through the window of his moving car, breaking his nose.

The man was driving near his South Woodham Ferrers home in Essex on Monday afternoon when the "bizarre incident" happened, the ambulance service said.

I've owned convertibles for nearly twenty years now, and from experience getting stuff tossed into one is not uncommon. Typically it's the stuff that gets in at low or no speed that's the worst... wasps and spiders are particularly common. However, I've nearly been set on fire twice from flicked cigarette butts, and a bird once kamikazed into the windshield and tumbled through the cabin between Ellen and me before careening into the street.

Worse were the things I've found after leaving the top down overnight. Empty beer bottles and (just once) a condom have "mysteriously" found their way into cars I've owned over the years. Which is why I put the top up if the current spider's going to be sitting outside somewhere overnight. All together now... ewww!

Posted by scott at 12:02 PM | Comments (2)
Core Find

Ron gets a cast-iron no-prize for bringing us news of recent discoveries about the Earth's core:

New evidence of a solid iron inner core to the planet comes from a digital broadband seismic array in Germany that is located in a lucky enough position to have captured a faint, but telltale, seismic signal. The signal was sent through the Earth from a particularly clear sort of earthquake deep in the crust on the other side of the planet.

Reminds me of someone whacking a bell or something. Geology is cool!

Posted by scott at 09:34 AM | Comments (0)
A Rather Original Second Career

By day, defense attorney; by night, porn star:

Criminal defense attorney Ronald S. Miller does more than file his briefs -- he also takes them off.

Miller has spent days in front of a judge and nights in front of a camera as Don Hollywood -- porn star.

He has performed in more than 90 films in the past seven years, including "Justice Your Ass" and "The Jerry Shag-Her Show."

Article is SFW. I'll have to google search their names when I get home, see if they're the kind of people who should be seen naked, or simply the kind who want to be seen naked. Usually it's the latter. *shudder*

Posted by scott at 08:17 AM | Comments (0)
Let's Just Hope His Parents Paid His Tuition

Because I'd hate to think he got this education on my dime:

hat said, perhaps some readers will understand why my friends and I rip yellow ribbon "support the troops" magnets off of cars or wherever people have affixed them. By ripping off these ribbons, we find a way to deal with our guilt, as though with each ribbon swiped we take back a life that was taken by this senseless war started by our senseless president and those who support him.

I will never say, "support the troops." I don't believe in the validity of that statement. People say, "I don't support the war, I support the troops" as though you can actually separate the two. You cannot; the troops are a part of the war, they have become the war and there is no valid dissection of the two. Other people shout with glaring eyes that we should give up our politics, give up our political affiliations in favor of "just supporting the troops." I wish everything were that easy.

I don't remember being this much of an idiot in college, but then again who does?

Members sitting on the left side of the peanut gallery should take note... these are the people who get you called "unamerican." Not fair you say? Perhaps, but keep that in mind next time you read a far-right editorial. We all have loons in our attic.

Via Jason.

Oh, and by the way? Allergies suck. I'm on three different meds for them right now, and I still feel like someone's shoved my head in an overfilled vacuum cleaner bag. *ACHOOO!!!*

Posted by scott at 04:25 AM | Comments (1)
April 20, 2005
Mmm... Sexy!

Thing is, she's actually slightly more animated than most porn chicks. Which is why, I suppose, I'm not all that "in" to most porn.

Woot! Scott got a naughty bit! Scott got a naughty bit!

Posted by scott at 08:49 PM | Comments (0)
Definitely not Something You'd Make with a Bucket

As startling as these sand sculptures are, I can only imagine what they must be like in person. And it all washes away with the tide.

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

Power blackouts at the office are fun. Each one gives the network the electrical equivalent of a kick in the crotch. So far we've had 3 today. Primary casualty: a RAID controller that had to be re-seated in its slot to start working again. Not bad for a network that's mostly bailing wire and duct tape. However, it usually takes 2-3 days before all the problems manifest, so keep your fingers crossed!

Posted by scott at 01:34 PM | Comments (0)
186,000 Miles Per Second. It's Not Just a Good Idea, It's the Law.

So, has the speed of light, one of the bedrock constants in physics, changed over the life of the universe? Maybe, maybe not, but they sure are looking hard to check:

A new study of distant galaxies is adding a fresh perspective to the debate over whether a fundamental physical constant has actually changed over time. The work suggests the number has not varied in the last 7 billion years, but more observations are still needed to settle the issue.

Essentially, one study found it had changed, but subsequent studies have not. This is a new technique to look at the problem, but they're just starting out and their "resolution" isn't as good as the previous experiments, at least for now.

No, I don't know what good it does us to know this either. But then again, that's what people said about guys screwing around with static electricity back in the 18th century, and look where that's go us.

Posted by scott at 08:43 AM | Comments (6)
April 19, 2005
Wild Violet

DSC_0001 Medium Web view.jpg
Posted by Ellen at 09:04 PM | Comments (0)
Get In The Car!

Mom! Get in the car before I drive!
Posted by Ellen at 08:53 PM | Comments (2)

She is my child. Get her still and in a car, and she falls alseep. Like me, she must be strapped down in order to be still. Thank god for baby seats.
Posted by Ellen at 08:46 PM | Comments (2)
Fire Tulips

Posted by Ellen at 08:38 PM | Comments (0)
More Serial Killers In The Making!

Lucky' former owner, Nick Sigmon, 19, and his friend Paul Collins, 21, pleaded no contest to misdemeanor charges of animal cruelty charges for taping an M-1000 -- a firecracker with the power of a quarter of a stick of dynamite -- into Castro Valley's Lake Don Castro on July 13.

Read more about these sick little bastards here.

I hope they are in counseling for a long long time.

Posted by Ellen at 06:54 PM | Comments (0)
I Wouldn't Want it Back Either

Like the article says, either turn it off or put it on "vibrate":

A couple of years ago we reported on the Jamaican mobile phone thief who got herself into a bit of a sticky situation in Negril when "a cellular phone which was stolen from a female shopper was found after it rang from within another shopper's vagina".
You'd think that this cautionary tale would be enough to deter even the most desperate mobe-lifter, but they obviously don't read Jamaica's Western Mirror in Romania, because light-fingered Ruxandra Gardian has been snared by the same "let's dial the number and see where she's stashed it" ploy.

I mean, cell phones are small, but I can't recall seeing one that small. 9 kinds of yuck going on there!

Posted by scott at 03:12 PM | Comments (2)
But is it Art?

Let's just say this idiot should be happy he did this in the UK, because in many (not all) states in the US it's legal to shoot people in defense of your property:

An artist who randomly vandalised nearly 50 cars for a project said the owners should be happy they were part of his "creative process".

Mark McGowan, 37, will exhibit pictures of himself scratching the vehicles' paintwork in London and Glasgow.

Would I shoot someone if I caught them running keys down my car? No, but I might introduce them to Mr. Louisville Slugger. You see, I have it on good authority shooting them causes too much paperwork.

OW! OW! Ok, who was the one dumb enough to give the stick to the buddhist in the first place?

Posted by scott at 02:00 PM | Comments (1)
Habemus Papum!

Pat gets a mitered no-prize for being the first to tell us a new pope, German cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, now Benedict XVI, has been elected. At age 78, conventional wisdom seems to have held... the hierarchy has elected someone that (presumably) will not become the next "longest reigning" pope in history. Then again, John XXIII invoked Vatican II at the ripe old age of 76, so you never can tell.

So there you go. Now, no more "is the pope Polish?" jokes for you!

Posted by scott at 12:59 PM | Comments (4)

And you thought a pile-up on the interstate was bad:

An iceberg the size of Luxembourg has smashed into another vast slab of ice that juts out from Antarctica.

The 115km-long B-15A iceberg broke off a 5km-long section of the Drygalski ice tongue when it collided with the protruding ice rivet in the Ross Sea.

Apparently it's big enough it might warrant re-drawing Antarctica's maps. Explain that one to the adjuster!

Posted by scott at 11:45 AM | Comments (1)
Girls Behaving Badly

Another day, another drunken celebrity with a warrant:

A New York judge issued an arrest warrant on Monday for "American Pie" movie actress Natasha Lyonne, who failed to appear for a court hearing on charges stemming from a rampage during which she was heard threatening to molest a neighbor's dog.

I'm not sure why I care either, but there it is.

Posted by scott at 10:29 AM | Comments (0)
What a Great Idea

In spite of its many and famous failures, the only-socialism-will-save-us-from-the-plebes mindset is still alive and kicking in academia. This time they're calling it "libertarian paternalism":

H.L. Mencken famously defined Puritanism as "the haunting fear that someone somewhere may be happy." Being a libertarian-conservative means being possessed of the haunting fear that someone somewhere is itching to play busybody on a level one might have once thought was inconceivable.

That fear becomes justified when one reads articles like this one by the New York Times ("Choice is Good, Yes, No or Maybe?"), which informs us that there is a movement afoot to limit our choices as consumers and citizens. You see, the fear is that we may not have the capacity to "choose properly" or that we may simply "refuse to choose." As a result, "government should limit people's choices. That is, choose for them." This is because "More choice can be worse than less choice," according to Columbia University psychologist Sheena Iyengar.

Which reminds me of an earlier quote on Instapundit's website: ""Every time I grow tired of the Republicans a lefty opens his mouth, suddenly I'm not quite as tired."

What's that you say? Libertarians aren't lefties? Aside from their questionable bona-fides, this may still be true. But collectivisim wasn't always a left-only concept. It had a right-side component too. They were called "fascists", and you know how well that turned out.

Via Instapundit.

Posted by scott at 09:39 AM | Comments (0)
When Self Indulgence Attacks

I mean, what better place can you think of to have a child:

A Berlin couple plan to have their first baby at an art gallery, the gallery owner said on Saturday, confirming a newspaper report.

"It's a gift to humanity, a once in a lifetime thing," Bild newspaper quoted Winfried Witt, partner of mother-to-be Ramune Gele, as saying.

Been there, done that, toddler has the t-shirt. It may be a miracle, but it's not a very pretty miracle. Kinda smells funny too. I'm not sure who is weirder... the couple who want to do it, the gallery owner who's going to let them, or the (presumably) hordes of people who will try and watch. They do have something like the Discovery channel over there, don't they? Trust me, it's a lot like professional sports... it's much better to see it on TV.

Posted by scott at 08:34 AM | Comments (0)
April 18, 2005

Kudos to Amber for coming up with the perfect idea for a bachelor party that did not actually involve boobies

It's a gun...


No! No! It's a...


Flame thrower!

Special thanks to Joshua at Bluelens for bringing his camera along, and for finding the best quote imaginable for these pictures (sadly, we cannot replicate the thick West-End accent this dialog was spoken in. You'll have to imagine them said as if Eliza Doolittle's three-times-great grandson never got out and instead went very, very bad):

Now, dicks have drive and clarity of vision, but they are not clever. They smell pussy and they want a piece of the action.

And you thought you smelled some good old pussy, and have brought your two small mincey faggot balls along for a good old time. But you've got your parties mangled up. There's no pussy here, just a dose that'll make you wish you were born a woman.

Like a prick, you are having second thoughts. You are shrinking, and your two little balls are shrinking with ya. The fact that you've got "Replica" written down the side of your gun. (withdraws his gun) And the fact that I've got "Desert Eagle point five O" written on the side of mine, should precipitate your balls into shrinking, along with your presence.

Now... Fuck off.

Posted by scott at 03:41 PM | Comments (7)
When Fire = Bad

Ok, that's not normally what you'd want to happen during surgery:

Seattle police launched an investigation on Friday to determine how a patient undergoing emergency heart surgery caught on fire at a local hospital in 2003.

The male patient, who was not identified, went up in flames after alcohol poured on his skin was ignited by a surgical instrument.

The article says the patient died, but from heart failure, not burning. Not knowing just how big a fire they're talking about, I guess it could be true. Then again, if I were that family I'd be pretty interested to find out just who did the autopsy.

Posted by scott at 03:07 PM | Comments (0)
I'd Sell Mine, but They'd Just Give Her Back

I mean, I can see trading her for, I dunno, an Alfa or something, but a Cougar?!?

A woman was arrested for allegedly forcing her 12-year-old daughter into prostitution and trading a 14-year-old daughter for a car.
The older daughter refused to be a prostitute and was allegedly sold for a car.

"She was sold to a man for a Mercury Cougar," Ammons said. "But he never gave the mother the vehicle." He was arrested in the case.

I mean, come on... standards people, standards!

Posted by scott at 01:16 PM | Comments (0)
Old Man of the Universe

BBCnews is carrying this summary of the discovery of perhaps one of the first stars that formed in the universe. While some of the chemical signatures in its light properly identify it as such, others are just wrong enough to call some theories into question. Figuring out how such stars formed provides important insight into how the universe itself was created.

Posted by scott at 12:19 PM | Comments (0)
I'm From the Government, and I'm Here to Help

One of the darling projects of the new generation of high-tech elitist lefties is publicly funded broadband technologies. "Make the city pay for it! The state! The feds!" they cry, "only a Republican trying to ensure the Internet will be for the rich would oppose this!", all the while ignoring and then decrying the real implications of state-controlled media access. Basically, making the classic liberal mistake of not thinking past stage one:

"HB 3314, up for hearing in the Texas House State Affairs committee on Monday, would require the state to filter wireless internet access at highway rest stops. This bill mandates filtering at any state-provided wireless network on public property. Since last May, the Texas Department of Transportation has offered wifi access at state rest stops.

In a competitive market, an internet provider that decides to filter content succeeds or fails based on whether or not anyone wants filtered content. When the state provides access, the state controls access, and suddenly what you can and cannot see is determined by whomever happens to be the most successful group of busybodies this week*. Even worse, since there's no competing with "free" there will be no alternative. Well, not quite... people able to pay more will do so, and therefore get better access.

Which leads to the depressingly familiar yet willfully ignored consequence of any attempt to control a market through mandates: in an effort to "help" by gauranteeing results instead of providing incentives, the result of government action is ultimately less access for the poor with increased empowerment of the wealthy.

Keep that in mind the next time you think a government should spend its way out of a bind instead of providing tax breaks to allow the people to do it themselves.

* "Well, if we could just keep the fundies out of government it would work. The evil Republicans stack the deck to derail the project into a debate on censorship!" And just how long do you think it would take the people who brought us Ward Churchill and "college diversity" to impose filters on "hate speech", "exploitation", and "dangerous reactionaries"?

Posted by scott at 08:42 AM | Comments (1)


Posted by Ellen at 06:37 AM | Comments (1)
April 17, 2005
Copper Pansy


Posted by Ellen at 08:40 PM | Comments (1)
How Many Turtles Does It Take?


Posted by Ellen at 08:32 PM | Comments (2)
Froggy Lunch!

For those of you that can't take the real picture, we have done a reinactment for you with some of Olivia's toys.


The real picture taken today at the Nature Reserve.


Posted by Ellen at 08:03 PM | Comments (3)
O in the Tree


Posted by Ellen at 05:53 PM | Comments (5)


Taken at the Nature Reserve in Alexandria, VA.

Posted by Ellen at 05:45 PM | Comments (0)
Tails from the Trash Heap

From slashdot: scientists have made a breakthrough in scanning technologies that could potentially increase the number of classical works by as much as 20%:

The original papyrus documents, discovered in an ancient rubbish dump in central Egypt, are often meaningless to the naked eye - decayed, worm-eaten and blackened by the passage of time. But scientists using the new photographic technique, developed from satellite imaging, are bringing the original writing back into view. Academics have hailed it as a development which could lead to a 20 per cent increase in the number of great Greek and Roman works in existence. Some are even predicting a "second Renaissance".


Posted by scott at 08:16 AM | Comments (0)
April 16, 2005


Tabitha is one of the cats that comes to board at my cat clinic I work at.

Posted by Ellen at 08:00 AM | Comments (1)
April 15, 2005
Fiore Orange


Posted by Ellen at 08:49 PM | Comments (0)
"DARTing" Across the Sky

Space.com is carrying up-to-the-minute coverage of NASA's ongoing DART experimental satellite. Designed to test technologies that would allow fully automated rendevous and docking, DART was successfully launched this morning aboard a Pegasus rocket. If all goes well it will complete its mission sometime tomorrow morning.

While the technologies behind DART were planned as part of the now defunct Orbital Space Plane project, research was allowed to continue because of its value for future space projects. If successful, this will mark the first time a US space project performed a rendevous and docking with zero human input throughout the entire process.

Posted by scott at 03:08 PM | Comments (0)
I'm not Even Sure Mom will Love This Face

But then again, I guess someone's gonna think this is cute:

Kintana, a four-day-old aye-aye, is revealed by Bristol Zoo Gardens in the UK after becoming only the second to be born and reared in captivity. Aye-ayes, from Madagascar, are the world's largest nocturnal primates.

They're even weirder looking when they grow up.

Posted by scott at 02:03 PM | Comments (1)
I Can See My House from Here III

Wired is running this nifty story on the impact of Google's new satellite imagery archive. From Burning Man to Tsunamis, it would seem almost every picture from space has a story to tell. Includes, of course, pictures!

Posted by scott at 12:28 PM | Comments (1)
Insert "Howard the Duck" Joke Here

Now that's what I call family planning:

U.S. officials bolstered security on Thursday for a duck nursing eggs near the White House to protect her from demonstrators at a global economic summit beginning on Friday.

Officials are concerned protesters could disturb the mallard hen, who is incubating what officials say are nine eggs at the foot of a tree on the sidewalk in front of the Treasury Department and next door to the presidential residence.

I wouldn't put it past some of these punks to do something mean to an animal just to make a point, and everyone knows these chimps like to throw things.

Posted by scott at 11:09 AM | Comments (0)
An "Eggciting" Find

New Scientist is reporting in this article on the first discovery of fossilized eggs inside the dinosaur about the lay them. Consisting of a pelvis and part of a leg from an oviraptor, the find provides the first strong evidence of how dinosaurs laid their eggs. Article includes two cool pictures of the find!

Posted by scott at 08:59 AM | Comments (0)

More of those strange penis stretching exercises! Now on video!

Scott: "Now thats what I call choking the chicken."

Posted by Ellen at 07:02 AM | Comments (2)

Dancing Furries.

Olivia liked it.

Posted by Ellen at 06:57 AM | Comments (0)
April 14, 2005


India is one of the residents at my work.

Posted by Ellen at 08:28 PM | Comments (2)

Posted by Ellen at 07:58 PM | Comments (0)
O In the Hat 2

Posted by Ellen at 07:52 PM | Comments (3)
I'm So Glad You're Here to Tell Me These Things

Making the rounds: the UN, in it's role as "the world's most famous qualuude-addled traffic cop", has decided to make nuclear terrorism illegal. I can just hear it now...

"Dammit Achmed! I told you we needed to act sooner! Now these camel fleas have closed our loophole!"

"I know, I know, Osama, and I'm sorry. *Sigh* ... ok boys, let's pack it all up and go home."

Yeah, that's the ticket.

Posted by scott at 03:29 PM | Comments (1)
Open the Refrigerator Door, Hal

Japan's obsession with robotics really seems to be paying off now, as this New Scientist article demonstrates:

A ROBOT suit has been developed that could help older people or those with disabilities to walk or lift heavy objects.

Dubbed HAL, or hybrid assistive limb, the latest versions of the suit will be unveiled this June at the 2005 World Expo in Aichi, Japan, which opened last month. A commercial product is slated for release by the end of the year.

Will robotics be "the next Internet?" If so, I think it'll be the first time in modern history an entire field of research, engineering, and production was brought to term with a non-western country in the lead. And good for them too!

Bionic grammas... whodathunkit?

Via Site-Essential.

Posted by scott at 02:35 PM | Comments (1)
Buy This House, "and all your wildest dreams will come true."

Dude, Pedro's house is for sale!

Oh get over it. It's not often we're actually with it on some pop culture trend. We're gonna ride this one until it blows a gasket.

Which of course simply means we're a whole lot less "with it" than we'd like to be. Idiots!!!

Posted by scott at 01:22 PM | Comments (0)
Loon Wash, 25c

Brownsville to PETA: Drop Dead

A trio of protesters with People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals didn't find the welcome mat out when they stopped at a KFC in Brownsville on Wednesday. The sprinkler system was on for them, though.
"I'm waiting for someone to throw a cabrito head at them so they know what part of the country they are in," [David Ingersoll, of Los Fresnos,] said, referring to the goat meat that's used in some Mexican dishes.

Not quite as good as the beat-down those Greenpeace hippies got in London, but I'll take it.

OW! Dammit! Will someone take that buddhist's stick away please? OW!

Posted by scott at 11:50 AM | Comments (0)
Step By Step

Spaceflightnow has this interesting montage of pictures chronicling the space shuttle Discovery being mounted to its tank and boosters. I especially like the second picture in this series, because it provides a great perspective on just how big the VAB is.

Posted by scott at 09:33 AM | Comments (0)

Fark this morning brings us proof there's no such thing as a story that's too weird:

There is a new twist in the case of a woman who claimed she discovered a human finger in a bowl of chili at a Wendy's restaurant.

San Jose police are investigating a woman who had part of her finger bitten off in late February by a pet leopard.

You just can't make this stuff up...

Posted by scott at 08:19 AM | Comments (3)
April 13, 2005
M(shh!! )on Swimware!

~Welcome back, welcome back, welcome back!~ To the 1890's, that is.

Posted by Ellen at 07:08 PM | Comments (13)
E.T. Go to Confession!

Indianapolis News Channel 8 released a video taken Thursday evening of St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican City showing what appears to be an unidentified flying object moving across the upper left portion of the screen. The video, taken from a network feed camera at around 6:00 am Roman time, was filmed as Pope John Paul II lay in state.

Read entire article here.

Posted by Ellen at 07:04 PM | Comments (0)
Cat Drummer

No children were harmed in the making of this film. Well, that we know of.

Posted by Ellen at 07:00 PM | Comments (0)


Posted by Ellen at 06:19 PM | Comments (0)
But Wait, it Gets Better Worse

Remeber that German guy who killed and ate another man at the victim's request and with is co-operation and participation? Well, Hee's baaa-ack:

A German cannibal and prosecutors launched rival appeals at Germany's top criminal court Wednesday against his manslaughter conviction for killing and eating a willing victim.

The prosecutors are trying to get the case reconsidered for stronger sentence, and the defense is trying to get it knocked down to "killing on request", which would peel 3 years off his sentence.

The details of the case are still incomprehensible to me. It would be tempting to try to assign blame... to parents, society, culture, TV, carrots, really anything just to try and find a grip on something like this. The truth is probably a lot more frightening... it was all of those things that made these people, and none of them, both at the same time.

Which is merely the existential angst the self-styled post-modern intellectual inside me goes through when I read about something like this. The practical redneck inside me knows there's no such thing as too much crazy, and the only real solution to folks like this is either a bible or a gun. The buddhist inside me stands between the other two, whacking them with a stick whenever they get too far out of line.

And you thought your head was complicated...

Posted by scott at 04:09 PM | Comments (1)
Is that an LED Display on Your Pants...

I bet this is what people in the 1940s thought rodeo belt buckles would look like by now.

Posted by scott at 02:54 PM | Comments (0)
Here We Go Again?

Instapundit linked up this Defense Tech summary of recent assessments of China's military capability. In a nutshell: they're getting better and bigger and geared up for amphibious assault. Which should make Japan and Taiwan real happy with them.

This is a marked change from previous assessments, which pointed out systemic corruption and the corporate nature of the PLA was holding it back from first-rank status. They appear to be overcoming these obstacles now.

Worrisome? Perhaps, but then again perhaps not. The whole point of some thirty years of US and European realpolitik foreign policy with China has been to knit it so tightly into the international community it won't want to act unilaterally to distrupt the global system. In spite of decades of well-meaning but naive attempts by various human rights organizations to reverse this goal by getting governments to ostracize the Dragon, the strategy does seem to be working. One only needs to see China's trade balances (or talk to its textile competitors) to understand where its prosperity is coming from, and Chinese leaders can read that sheet just as easily as anyone else.

However, nations throughout history have done damned foolish things to themselves for the sake of pride and prejudice before, and the world has paid a spectacular price in blood, tears, and treasure for overestimating the wisdom of other contries's leaders. History has proven quite clearly that the industrial might of a modern nation is an extremely dangerous tool to blindly trust a few foolish old men with. Inclusion is good, yes, even necessary, but only a soft-headed utopian would think money is the only thing required to keep an ambitious and growing nation from wreaking havoc on the world's stage.

So color me concerned about China, but not worried, at least not right now. A vigorous, powerful China could be an asset, as competition, even between nations, always improves the breed. The Dragon in the East has grown powerful enough now that it will rise or fall due to its own efforts. We must be extremely careful to not let emotion or idealism or pride to blind us to this simple fact. Because while we cannot stop its rise, the decisions we make will determine if it steps to the front of the world's stage as a friend, a competitor, or an enemy.

Posted by scott at 01:50 PM | Comments (0)
Mapping the Changes

This New Scientist article describes what must be the most ambitious gene mapping project to-date. Scientists plan on taking genetic samples from at least 100,000 people from all over the world in an attempt to use genetic markers to track human migrations over the past 10,000 to 15,000 years. Anyone can participate by purchasing a $100 sampling kit (most of the money will go toward funding the project).

The study itself will only use male DNA to create the map, because women just stop and ask for directions.

Posted by scott at 12:01 PM | Comments (0)
Comment Spam Update

We've updated our comment spam filter, creating a more sophisticated "dash trap". Instead of looking for "a dash, then anything, then another dash, then anything, then another dash", it looks for "a dash, then 2-15 characters with no spaces, then another dash, then 2-15 characters with no spaces, then another dash, then 2-15 characters with no spaces, a period, and at least two alphabetic characters."

This already seems to be catching the massive amount of "dash trap" comment spam we get every day, and it should stop snagging you folks who just happen to like writing comments that contain 3 dashes in a single paragraph. Please let me know if you find you're still getting trapped.

I'll post the actual regEx once I'm sure it's working as advertised.

Posted by scott at 10:57 AM | Comments (3)
Everybody Dance Now!

The sad thing is, this guy's dancing isn't half bad. Certainly better than I could do.

I'm still glad it's not me on that tape though.

Posted by scott at 09:48 AM | Comments (0)
Car Crazies

Ron gets a very retro no-prize for bringing us the story of The Car that Might Have Been:

Built for the 1953 Detroit Auto Show, the F-88 was Oldsmobile's answer to the Chevrolet Corvette. The Corvette had just been introduced, featuring a 6-cylinder engine, 2-speed automatic transmission and no windows. Meanwhile, the F-88 sported an Oldsmobile Rocket 88 V8, 4-speed Hydromatic transmission, and power windows and door latches. Designed by Harley J. Earl, the F-88 was roughly the same size as a Corvette and sporting a fiberglass body, the F-88 is considered by many to be the epitome of automotive forward-thinking of the 1950's, with its open top and lightweight structure.

Not so sure I agree with the "would've buried the Corvette" idealism though. This thing would've been quite a bit more expensive than the Corvette, perhaps even more than the Thunderbird. The T-bird was transformed into a big 4 seater precisely because it wasn't selling very well as an expensive sports car. The Corvette stayed alive mostly through politics and (comparatively) low cost. Detroit was, and to an extent still is, all about moving big numbers of cars, and the Olds just wouldn't have sold in the numbers required to be a success.

But it is awfully pretty, in a classic American '50s sort of way.

Posted by scott at 08:13 AM | Comments (0)
April 12, 2005
Fiore Viola

Posted by Ellen at 06:51 PM | Comments (0)
Augmentation Arguments

Instapundit linked up this Virginia Postrel note that claims the breast implant controversy is not a medical problem, but a flat out culture war. Further, she notes that the divisions driving the debate haven't changed perceptibly since she wrote this extremely interesting op-ed in 1992:

But the breast-implant debate reveals at least three other fundamental divisions -- about the interests of consumers, of women and of science -- that reflect very different sets of values and ways of understanding the world: How much justification must consumers give the government for their choices? Are women liberated by rediscovering their natural femininity or by seizing control over their biological destinies? And, at least for the sake of public policy, how do we sort evidence from anecdote?

The longer clinical research revealed no link between silicone breast implants and connective tissue diseases, the more I became convinced this was politics and agenda-pushing rather than any real attempt at protection. It was one of the things that pointed me down the road of dynamism and libertarianism (the "it's-my-damned-money-I'll-do-what-I-please-with-it" school of South Park conservativism, if you will).

No, the current administration and congress isn't much, if any, better. But thinking getting Bush or the Republicans out will make it all better misses the point. When you hold a hammer, everything looks like a nail. If you want to keep someone from trying to open a wine bottle with it, you don't give the hammer to a different person, you take the hammer away.

Posted by scott at 03:49 PM | Comments (4)
A Jihad, for the Rest of Us

Well, for the rest of you Unitarians anyway:

Greetings to the Imprisoned Citizens of the United States. We are Unitarian Jihad. There is only God, unless there is more than one God. The vote of our God subcommittee is 10-8 in favor of one God, with two abstentions. Brother Flaming Sword of Moderation noted the possibility of there being no God at all, and his objection was noted with love by the secretary.

Via Reflections in D Minor.

Posted by scott at 03:26 PM | Comments (0)
God's Own Microwave?

Slashdot linked up the latest in "can't-see-it-coming" apocalypses, gamma ray bursts:

In the latest issue of the Astrophysical Journal Letters, scientists argue that a gamma ray burst, the most powerful explosion that occurs in the universe, was responsible for the Ordovican mass extinction in which 60% of all marine invertebrates died.

Unfortunately the article doesn't reveal what sort of evidence these scientists are relying on. Unlike BFRs* falling from the sky, gamma rays don't leave trace evidence of exotic minerals scattered all over the planet. Even better, since they travel at the speed of light there's no way to detect a gamma ray burst on the way. This may change if we ever figure out where the dratted things come from (right now we have no idea), but until then if it's gonna get us, it's gonna get us.

Ain't the universe grand?

* Big Fu--- rrm... Fat Rocks. Yeah, fat.

Posted by scott at 01:49 PM | Comments (0)


Posted by Ellen at 12:46 PM | Comments (1)
Taliban Troubles, Al Qaeda Catastrophes?

Has radical Islam, stymed in its international apocalyptic agenda by the west, changed its target? Ahmed Taheri thinks so:

When the Taliban fell, two visions emerged within the Islamist terror movement.

One vision, identified with Osama bin Laden, wants the movement to continue targeting the West, especially the United States. The other, advocated by Ayman al-Zawahiri, al Qaeda's No. 2, wants the "holy war" concentrated in Muslim countries, especially Afghanistan, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Iraq.

The events of the past year or so show that the al-Zawahiri vision is in the ascendancy.

Even more interesting to me is the Iraqi terrorists changing targets from Iraqi civilians to US soldiers. This is a fundamental mistake, since our soldiers can shoot back and they have much bigger guns with which to do so. The press plays up the co-ordination and organization exhibited by these attackers, and considering these "troops" tend to be little more than enthusiastic teenagers they are right to do so, but that still misses the larger picture. Yes, they co-ordinate their attacks; yes, they organize command; but they have lost, and badly, every single time they've launched one of their carefully planned attacks.

Combined with the visible setbacks that Islamic facists and fundamentalists have received in the past year, it's growing harder not to be at least a little optimistic.

Have we won yet? It's far too early to tell, especially while the heart of this lunacy still beats inside the Arabian desert. But only a fool or a fanatic would fail to see we are winning.

Posted by scott at 11:46 AM | Comments (0)
Well Isn't She a Winner

Remember the "finger-in-the-chili" lady? Turns out she has something of a history:

Anna Ayala, 39, who hired a San Jose, Calif., attorney to represent her in the Wendy's case, has been involved in at least half a dozen legal battles in the San Francisco Bay area, according to court records.
Speaking through the front door of her Las Vegas home Friday, Ayala claimed police are out to get her and were unnecessarily rough as they executed a search warrant at her home on Wednesday.

Yeah, I know, "just because you're paranoid..." But keep in mind most of the time nobody actually is after you.

Posted by scott at 09:04 AM | Comments (1)
The Jewish Bra

For those of you ladies that want to be Jewish under your clothes.

Posted by Ellen at 07:00 AM | Comments (0)

Meet Sugar Bush Squirrel!

Sugar Bush Squirrel is a real, live Eastern Gray Squirrel who is owned and photographed by Ms. Kelly Foxton. Rescued from a tree, she is now living the 'good life' with Kelly in Boca Raton, Florida. A small, lime-green parrot, named Rio, is her big sister and constant companion. Being a Supermodel, Sugar Bush loves to dress up, and has over 1,000 outfits with matching hats and accessories. Sugar Bush has her own studio with an elaborate stage and thousands of stage props, and she has posed for over 1,000 photos since her modeling career began. She poses for greeting cards, calendars, children's books, advertisements & photos for our troops!
Posted by Ellen at 06:58 AM | Comments (0)
April 11, 2005

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No Prize to Rich who shares this recent pix from a trip to Florida!

Posted by Ellen at 08:31 PM | Comments (1)
Creeping Phlox


More information on the plant can be seen here.

Posted by Ellen at 07:18 PM | Comments (0)
When Youth is not Wasted on the Young

The thing is, I was never much of a binge drinker. Well, if you define binge drinking as "drinking one's self into a stupor, throwing up one's shoes, and boozily waving 'bye-bye' to them as they swirl down the toilet" at any rate. However, I've had lots of friends (and, truth be told, one wife) who did define it that way. Fortunately they've pretty much all gotten too old for that sort of foolishness, but there's always war stories to tell:

1:18: The vomiting is over. I am now trying to stop the bleeding. A bright light hits my eyes. I am not happy. I tell the owner to “get that fucking light out of my face.” The owner of the light identifies himself as an officer of the law. I apologize to the officer, and ask him what the problem is. A long pause ensues. The light is still in my eyes. “Son, where are your pants?” Remembering past encounters with the law, and realizing there is no one around to bail me out of the county lock-up, I summon every bit of adrenaline in my body to sober myself up. I apologize again, and explain to the officer that my pants are in the restaurant that is less than 50 feet away, and that I came outside to share my sushi with the bush. He doesn’t laugh. Another long pause. “You’re not driving tonight are you?”, “Oh, NO, NO, NO…no sir, I don’t even have a valid driver’s license.”

An adventure is a fun story to tell years later because you don't remember how miserable or bug-eyed frightening the reality was. Fortunately I have a very long memory, which is why I have exactly one, and only one, "sushipants"-caliber story in my own past. My relatives will merrily regale you with it, requiring little (usually no) prompting, especially during formal parties and receptions, so I won't relate it here (for now).

But at least I kept up with my pants.

Via Silflay

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

While I understand that neurologic research is important and good, I still find the concept of headless remote controlled flies downright creepy:

Yale University researchers say their study that used lasers to create remote-controlled fruit flies could lead to a better understanding of overeating and violence in humans.

Using the lasers to stimulate specific brain cells, researchers say they were able to make the flies jump, walk, flap their wings and fly.

Via Daffodil Lane, with whom I will have to disagree about the success of "scaling up" this technique to other creatures. The biological complexity of a rat as compared to a fly is astronomical, and I do not expect to see headless remote controlled mice any time soon. Which is just as well. Skeevy!

Posted by scott at 11:41 AM | Comments (1)
Three Words: Robotic Camel Jockey

No, really: robotic camel jockies:

The United Arab Emirates says it will use robots as jockeys for camel races from next season.

The move comes after widespread international criticism of the use of young children to ride camels during the long and often hazardous races.

I'd include a line from one of Olivia's Portugese children's shows, which has that camel song in it. However, since I'd just mangle the spelling I'll let Ellen add it in the comments later today.

Posted by scott at 10:02 AM | Comments (3)
A Hovercraft, for the Rest of Us

Ron gets a no-prize that glides efficiently across any surface for bringing us Universal Hovercraft, your one-stop-shop for all things, well, hovercraft. I especially like the Hoverwing. I wonder if you can waterski behind it?

Posted by scott at 09:04 AM | Comments (0)
At Least Now I Know Where Ellen's Next Vacation will Be

Storm chasing? Storm chasing? Aw hell son, we're gonna do a lot more than chase the damned things. We're gonna catch us one!

Tornado Attack is accepting bids on eBay for the co-pilot of "Tornado Attack One." The winner becomes part of the "Team Tornado," which will chase tornadoes with a special vehicle engineered to enter and record inside the eye.

Apparently it's a modified Baha race truck, which is about as tough as non-military vehicles get. Which should cover you just fine if it tosses you around, but I wonder what sort of protection they're planning against the 110 mph iron fenceposts?

Posted by scott at 08:10 AM | Comments (2)
April 10, 2005


Posted by Ellen at 05:07 PM | Comments (1)
Playing in the Sand


Posted by Ellen at 04:48 PM | Comments (4)


Stop and enjoy the flowers!

Posted by Ellen at 04:35 PM | Comments (3)
April 09, 2005


Note the little pale feeder fish at the top(1 of 2). That was Oscar's food he did not eat. After he died we then we had to buy Mr. feederfishes (now primary tenants) 3 buddies to keep them company.

Posted by Ellen at 09:03 PM | Comments (1)
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Many thanks to Coconut for sitting at the table like the princess she is while I snapped my first pix on my new NIKON D70

Happy Anniversary to me!! -from my Super Sugar Daddy of a Husband!

Posted by Ellen at 08:51 PM | Comments (3)
Get Perpendicular?

Someone over at Hitachi computer research labs seems to have mad flash animation skillz.

At first I thought it was going to be a standard Schoolhouse Rock parody, but then they got out the disco ball. And then, then it got really weird.

Posted by scott at 08:11 AM | Comments (0)
April 08, 2005

For those of you men out there that need to learn how to do feel up your nuts.

Posted by Ellen at 08:58 PM | Comments (0)
Sexy Cosmo No.1!

All those times I made fun of American ricers? I take them all back.

Well, ok, no, I'm not going to take them all back. But I will stand in awe of what are quite obviously the masters of taking unsuspecting family sedans and doing... things... to them.

Weirdest of all are the unexpected numbers of American 1970s-era sedans in the mix. Those things started falling apart as soon as they rolled off the assembly line, and were ugly. Or at least, I thought they were ugly, until I saw what these guys do to them. Then I realized in their original encarnation they were just a little homely. Sort of like having your overweight female cousin show up to a family reunion wearing pink and chartreuse spandex, trailing a very small, very enthusiastic Asian man in her wake.

Posted by scott at 03:21 PM | Comments (2)
Toothless Old Geezer

How long have we be putting up with crazy old relatives in our families? New evidence suggests a very long time indeed:

A nearly two-million-year-old fossil find in the Republic of Georgia may be evidence of the first signs of early human compassion, scientists say. According to a report published today in the journal Nature, the remains are from an individual who spent the last years of his life with only one tooth. This shortcoming may have left him dependent on the kindness of others in order to find sufficient sustenance.

The article goes on to note that this is the oldest example of "severe masticatory impairment" (scientist-speak for "not a tooth in his head") yet found. At 1.7 MYA, this isn't even a Homo sapien, but more likely whatever they happen to be calling (what I learned as) Homo erectus this week.

Posted by scott at 01:46 PM | Comments (0)
Fun with Stuffed Animals

While the concept of re-enacting the climactic scene in the movie Seven with stuffed animals is goofy, the actuality still has surprising power. I guess it just proves there's more to movies than the pictures that make them up.

Posted by scott at 11:49 AM | Comments (0)
Ewww... Nasty...

Number 129 on the list of "why Ellen and Scott don't like camping":

A Hong Kong hiker washed her face in a freshwater stream, not noticing that leech had wormed its way into one of her nostrils, according to the Hong Kong Medical Journal.

I don't begrudge people who do like camping, it's just not for me. You see, my idea of roughing it is hotel cable TV.

Posted by scott at 10:09 AM | Comments (0)
... and in the Darkness Bind Them

BBCnews is carrying this report on what must be one of the most bizzare astronomical objects found to-date: a natural particle accelerator some 20 light-years across. Found using the European XMM-Newton x-ray space telescope, this ring was discovered when scientists made observations of the Arches Cluster, a star-forming region close to the Milky Way's centre. It's not clear if the object is in the cluster, or just happens to be on the same sight line. Not surprisingly, scientists have no idea how such an object could have formed, but it seems to be pumping out high-energy particles with energies in excess of a thousand trillion volts.

You know, I'd stop saying "just when you thought it couldn't get any weirder", but it wouldn't make any difference.

Posted by scott at 09:02 AM | Comments (0)
I Wonder if the Door is Hidden?

Ok, I take it back, there actually is something worse than a house decorated with hundreds of cats. And people think my one Alfa sign is tacky...

Posted by scott at 07:59 AM | Comments (4)
April 07, 2005
Actually, it's the Oft-Noted Lack of Trumpet Players at Fault

You'd think that after two thousand years of getting it wrong, Christians would quit putting a deadline on the end the world:

As you know the world didn't come to end today.

Now for the third time, Warren Jeffs is wrong about his doomsday predictions.

2,500 of his most faithful followers gathered at a mysterious sprawling complex in Eldorado, Texas. Wednesday, Jeffs prophesied he and his followers would be caught up and sent to heaven, while the rest of world would come to an end. But you can see they are still there, and continue to work on their new temple.

Now, I could make a nasty comment involving the previous administration, its Attorney General, various gung-ho federal agencies, and another bunch of Christian loons, but I won't. Not that I'm that big, mind you, it's just that I've spent the past six hours unsuccessfully trying to get a wobbly and extremely non-standard part of our network to migrate to a shiny new server, and trying to be clever on top of that just makes my head asplode.

Instead, I'll just goggle like the rest of you at the power of one man to command otherwise normal people to do whatever he wants.

Posted by scott at 03:20 PM | Comments (1)
Maple Leaf [Medical] Rag

What happens when soft-headed technocratic idealism gets a bottle of reality smashed into its nose? Let's take a look:

Issued by the Institute for Clinical Evaluation, the 180-page document provides the first-ever overview of wait times and can be downloaded from the Internet.
The report says that the median wait time for total hip replacement surgery in our LHIN is 16 weeks, compared to 24 for Ontario
For knees, the median wait time locally is 26 weeks compared to 33 for Ontario, with a recommended wait time of 25 weeks.
Patients here waited six weeks for cataract surgery, compared to 16 for Ontario, and 65 per cent received it within the recommended waiting time of four months.
local patients waited 25 days for a large bowel resection, just under the Ontario median time of 26 days. For mastectomy operations, the local time was 19 days compared to 29, and the wait was 72 days for a radical prostatectomy, compared to 87 for Ontario.
Locally however, the median wait time for hysterectomy operations was 56 days, the longest in Ontario where the overall figure is 46 days.

But hey, at least it's free, right?

No, I don't have the right answer. But I'd rather us leave well enough alone than try a "fix" that we already know doesn't work.

Update: Link fixed.

Posted by scott at 02:19 PM | Comments (3)
Give the Lady a Hand

Ya know, if she'd had a digital camera, it wouldn't have taken so long to be noticed:

A Swedish woman who photographed a swan in the river outside the royal palace in Stockholm made a grim discovery when the film was developed: a hand sticking out of the ice.

Remember folks, cold hands, warm heart! Well, at least for a few minutes anyway.

Posted by scott at 01:08 PM | Comments (1)
~ And I Dance Dance Dance ~

I'd heard of dance video games being used to lose weight before. Heck I think there've been one or two sitcom episodes written around the concept. But an insurance-company backed research project involving them, well, that's a new one:

Like many other 11-year-old boys, K.D. Jones loves sports. But at 5 feet, 175 pounds, he found his weight and his asthma an obstacle.
Jones is one of 85 children in an at-home study trying the popular Dance Dance Revolution video game to boost their activity. The study is being done by West Virginia's public employees insurance group in hopes it will lead to better health and lower costs.

The kid's already lost 20 pounds, and has even got his mom into the act. Lose weight, play games, maybe even learn to dance, all while lowering your insurance rate. What's not to love?

Posted by scott at 10:29 AM | Comments (0)
Buried Treasure

Also in the Post today: construction workers discovered a Civil War-era casket while working on a Northwest Washington DC apartment complex. Those hairless chimpanzees we call "teenage boys" managed to vandalize it over the weekend, but it would appear the damage was limited. The occupant seems to be intact and visible, so it could make for a very interesting anthropology case.

Posted by scott at 09:28 AM | Comments (0)
More Hominid News

In the latest issue of Nature scientists are presenting strong evidence that "Tomai", a fossil skull discovered in 2002 (and first covered by us here) is in fact a hominid. The Washington Post's article is here and MSNBC's is here. Since they're both working from the same press release (or attended the same news conference), the text is similar, but MSNBC has the photos WaPo doesn't see fit to run in its online edition.

At 7 million years old, this puts us right on the edge of the split between chimps and humans. If we ever find that common ancestor, I'm lobbying for the name "chumanzee".

Posted by scott at 08:21 AM | Comments (0)
April 06, 2005

Some really neat flash animation!

It takes a few minutes to run through, but it's worth it.

Posted by Ellen at 07:37 PM | Comments (1)
It Helps Mommy with The Gardening or It Gets The Hose Again!

It all started so innocently...just a spritz.


Then Olivia realized that getting hosed down was pretty cool.


In the end, we had to strip her on the front porch. It was an all out wet baby contest!

Posted by Ellen at 07:15 PM | Comments (2)
Pot Head!



This is what happens when Olivia helps plant flowers!

Posted by Ellen at 07:04 PM | Comments (4)
Insert "Frikken Lasers" Joke Here

Slashdot linked up news of the development of a robotic shark. Developed by the grandson of famous oceanographer and filmmaker Jacques Cousteau, Fabien Cousteau, it's hoped this device will allow filmmakers to get very close to real great whites without spooking them.

Posted by scott at 12:24 PM | Comments (0)
Kill Me Again

While it has been clear for some time the Permian mass extinction was by far the largest such event to be experienced by the Earth, the sequence of events surrounding it have still remained a mystery. By studying "organic fossils" found in rocks at Meishan in southern China, scientists are now beginning to believe there were actually several events in sequence, not just a single cataclysm. An interesting study about a time before dinosaurs ruled the Earth.

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

Punk: "Gimme yer money and yer car old man!"

Old Man: "Say hello to my little friend."

Four juveniles could face homicide charges after a joyride in a family van ended in the fatal shooting of their cousin in a Milwaukee gas station parking lot, according to a hearing in Milwaukee County Children's Court Monday.

.44 caliber gunshot wound to the head. That'll be a closed casket funeral for sure. Considering how hard it is to hit anything with a pistol in a panic situation (cops receive hours of training and still miss some of the time), I'd say "good shot".

As noted yesterday, making a habit of being an a-hole inevitably means you will eventually run up against someone or something to stop you. So let's all try to be a bit nicer out there, k? Because karmic paybacks are a bitch.

Posted by scott at 07:44 AM | Comments (0)
April 05, 2005
Ellen gets a Sign

So, for a very early birthday present I got myself some "clipless" pedals for the bike. In spite of their name, clipless pedals actually involve a very strong clip... the pedal is usually very small, and the (extremely stiff) shoe has some sort of cleat just under the front of the foot. You snap one into the other, and now your foot is mechanically joined to the bike. The result is a very efficient and light system that transfers something like 99% of your leg's force to the rear wheels. Mine are Speedplay X1's, bought used off e-bay. I like them a lot.

But that's not the point of this story.

You see, now that I had these flash clipless pedals, I had a spare set of "toe-clips". For those who don't know, toe clip pedals have a plastic-and-cloth "basket" that fits around the front of the foot. The point is to make sure your foot stays in the optimum place, and you can pull up as well as push down while pedaling. Since Ellen's bike had simple platform pedals, deciding what to do with my old toe clips was pretty simple.

Me: "Ok, now, this'll be pretty different. It's not like when you hopped up and down like mad on your bike when you were 11. You have to be careful with these."

Ellen, very seriously: "Careful. Ok, gotcha."

Some careful adjustments were made around Ellen's not-really-appropriate running shoes (that's a "tomorrow" goal... proper redneck bicycle shoes*) to make sure things fit properly. Me: "Now, what I want you to do is put the kickstand up and pedal backward, one foot at a time. Practice putting your foot in and taking it out."

Ellen, after a minute of enthusiastic cranking: "But what do I do with the other foot?"

"Practice one at a time, just get used to how it feels."

So into the garage I went to put on my flash (and 40% off!) bicycle shoes, leaving Ellen just outside the open garage door on the driveway to practice. Just as I started to fit the first one on, I heard this long, shambling sound, like someone dropping a sack full of tennis balls. Ellen had gone down.

Me: "You ok?!?"

Ellen, sheepishly: "Yeah, I'm fine."

"You're sure? I can take them off if you want..."

"No, no, I'm fine, just a few scrapes."

"Ok... sure?!?"

"Yes goddammit... what am I, some sort of retard?!? Do you want to ride or don't you?!?" (Welcome to my world -- Scott)

"Well, ok then. Ready? Let's go..."

So off we went to pick up Olivia from daycare for a nice family ride. But Ellen's fall sort of made me, well, itch a little, mentally I mean. I knew she was fine, but I'd had the same adjustment period with those toe clips and hadn't fallen. I'd even made the transition to clipless, which everyone says puts you on your ass, and still hadn't fallen. Anyone who's watched me shamble across a level floor knows I have the co-ordination of a stoned walrus. Ellen's a trained dancer fergodsake. Which is when I thought of something, halfway down the trail.

Me: "Ellen... did you try to pedal backwards on both pedals?"

Ellen: "..."

Olivia, from her bombadier seat: "DOG-EE!! DOG-EE!! DOG-EE!!"

Ellen: "Yes, doggy baby! There's the doggy!"

Me, smelling blood: "Ellen?!?"

Ellen, just barely audible over the ratchet-click of the bikes: "maybe..."

And that, dear friends, is how Ellen got her sign.

* Running shoes suck ass because they have such squishy soles. Squishy is good when you're running, but when you want to transfer maximum force, something with a narrow, stiff, flat sole is ideal. A trip to che-Target is therefore in order to get The Empress a cheap pair of classic tennis shoes, who's flat-soled design is gauranteed to provide many miles of toe-clip goodness.

Posted by scott at 08:42 PM | Comments (0)
E.T. "Zone" Home

So far most (if not all) of the extra-solar planets discovered have been giant beasts in remarkably bizzare orbits around their suns. Would it even be possible for such solar systems to host earth-like planets? According to research done at the Open University in Milton Keynes* it is quite possible.

By creating a mathematical model of a representative solar system identical to one discovered so far, and then "rolling" earth-like planets around in it, scientists Barrie Jones, Nick Sleep, and David Underwood found that the giant planet contained within created "disaster zones" around it. These zones represented areas in which any sort of earth-like planet would either get bounced out of the solar system or get pulled into the giant planet or the star itself.

However, planets outside these zones tended to inhabit "safe havens" that would allow stable orbits for long enough periods of time that life could evolve. If a safe haven coincided with a solar system's "habitable zone" (where temperatures should allow liquid water to exist), then it should at least be possible for a solar system like this to contain at least one earth-like planet capable of supporting life.

Once they ran their models against the 160-odd solar systems in which planets are known to reside, they got a surprising result... fully half seem to be capable of containing a habitable planet.

Now, this is not the same thing as finding another blue marble out there, but it should help by indicating which solar systems we should focus our attention on, and which we can safely ignore. Ain't science grand?

* No, I've never heard of it either.

Posted by scott at 01:54 PM | Comments (0)
David vs. The Borg

One of the things big business relies on in its dealings with those whom it considers "bad guys" is the sheer intimidation factor of lawsuits. All that legalese, all those expensive lawyers, and all that complicated law are counted on to combine and intimidate anyone, regardless of their guilt or innocence, essentially browbeating them into submission.

The problem is, of course, occasionally one of the little guys fights back:

Thanks to massive doses of caffeine, Zamos (whose name rhymes with "famous") anxiously taps his Camper lace-ups against the table. A laptop sits to his right, a fat black binder to his left.

The only thing setting him apart from the other late-night crammers is that his notebook isn't filled with study guides. It's overflowing with documents from the federal lawsuit Microsoft brought against him on December 21.

As the above case proves, just because conventional wisdom says defending a lawsuit can result in ruinious costs doesn't mean said conventional wisdom is right. It also confirms what I've always maintained... anyone can get away with occasional bad behavior, but make a habit out of it and you'll always run up against someone or something that stops you. Sometimes it's the long arm of the law; sometimes it's an auditor with a question that can't be answered; sometimes it's a loon with a gun; and sometimes, just sometimes, it's a college kid who drinks too much coffee.

Posted by scott at 12:18 PM | Comments (0)
I Knew Those Damned Hippies Were Up to No Good

Ah-HA!!! Peanut gallery, I now have your number. You just better watch out too, sneaky bastards.

Posted by scott at 10:47 AM | Comments (0)
Turkey Terror Trots to Town

Damned turkeys:

A group of turkeys has been trotting around [Menominee, Mich], chasing kids, startling motorists and loitering at people's homes. Authorities were notified, the EagleHerald reported, and after a slew of complaints, a hunt ensued.

"It's been keeping us on our toes," said Mike Baker, public service officer for the Menominee Police Department.

Then again, if the worst thing your police force has to worry about is rampaging turkeys, I think you're probably doing OK.

Posted by scott at 09:43 AM | Comments (0)
Go Colorado!

Left lane banditry is now officially illegal in Colorado:

Colorado is serious about its no-dawdling law in left lanes. Drivers who insist on staying in the passing lane are risking tickets as the State Patrol has begun enforcing a law requiring motorists to use the left lane for passing only.

LLB's are not that much of a problem around here. There are too many lemmings on the road for there to really be any hope of a passing lane. Our problem, mentioned previously, is tailgaters. If we could figure out how to fine each tailgater $50 per incident, northern Virginia would have no problem with its transportation budget. We'd probably end up loaning the federal government money.

Don't believe me? The six-car pileup on the eastbound toll road, on a clear cloudless morning against the commute, would seem to prove you wrong.

Posted by scott at 08:37 AM | Comments (0)
April 04, 2005
Gimme A Kiss!

messyO 001.jpg

NO NO!!! Stay back!! Mommy doesn't want a spaghetti kiss!! AAAHHHH!!!!

Posted by Ellen at 08:57 PM | Comments (7)
Egyptian Belly Dance In Crisis

Two years ago, the government banned foreign dancers from performing, but has recently done a U-turn and allowed them back.

One of the country's former belly dancing divas, Nagwa Fouad, is now calling for the establishment of an academy to preserve the art.

Read entire article here.

Posted by Ellen at 07:15 PM | Comments (0)
This'll Bring a Whole New Meaning to "Computer Crash"

BSOD, meet BCOD*:

Until now, Microsoft has been trying to sell software for expensive navigation systems. Its new ploy is to produce an in-car computer called TBox, running on a dedicated software system called Windows Automotive. TBox can provide directions, make hands-free phone calls and play digital music on customers' mobile phones, iPods or similar devices. It also allows access to telematics services such as remote vehicle diagnostics and electronic yellow pages, which the customer would purchase separately from a service provider.

Hey, if it makes shiny gizmos cheaper, I'm provisionally for it. Just in case, I'll be making book on how long it takes the first TBox virus to appear and start steering people into lamp posts.

* Blue Car of Death, of course. Don't look at me man, my cars are purple and white.

Posted by scott at 03:40 PM | Comments (1)
First Transparent Aluminum, Now This

Also from New Scientist: a report on the latest thing in material science, metallic glass. It's got the strength of a metal but the "springy-ness" of a liquid, and is now starting to be made cheaply in large quantities. What's it good for? So far the applications include medical devices, scalpel blades, and tennis rackets, but after decades of slow development the field is unfolding very rapidly. From what's in the article, pretty much anything that's made of cast metal could benefit from the stuff. Maybe my next bicycle will be made out of it?

Posted by scott at 02:33 PM | Comments (3)
Quotable Quotes

"Come here... come here! No... stop... sit down! Stop squirming you little monster! No! You are going to be pretty whether you want to or not!"

-- Ellen Carozza, to Olivia, while changing Olivia into a dress to attend a wedding shower to which both were invited.
Posted by scott at 12:42 PM | Comments (0)
That's Señior ET to You, Bub

Could important clues to extraterrestrial life be hiding away in an obscure lake in Mexico? NASA researchers think so:

The network of 170 cactus-ringed lagoons around the town of Cuatro Cienegas have intrigued evolutionary biologists for decades because their fish, snail and turtle species rival the Galapagos Islands in their uniqueness.

Scientists from NASA's Astrobiology Institute have begun studying the lakes' ancient formations called stromatolites -- rock structures formed by layers of algae that trap silt. Conditions within the stromatolites are similar to those that prevailed on Earth for more than 2 billion years before the dinosaurs evolved.

Since the conditions in these lakes closely resemble the primitive Earth, it's thought they could provide insights into what conditions to look for on other planets.

Posted by scott at 11:47 AM | Comments (0)
Now That's not Something You See Every Day

Ellen likes cats, but I'm pretty sure she'd draw the line well before this:

A lactating woman in Myanmar has volunteered to breastfeed a pair of endangered Bengal tiger cubs recently born at a Yangon zoo and separated from their aggressive mother.

Ron gets a mewling no-prize for bringing us this graphic example of just how far some folks are willing to go to help a cat in need.

Posted by scott at 10:50 AM | Comments (0)
Magic Science

Problem: Type I diabetics have immune systems that destroy their own insulin-producing cells. Existing treatments require nasty drugs to keep this reaction under control, and stem cell treatment (while promising) doesn't really get around this problem.

Solution: Get the patient's own white blood cells to produce insulin. No, really:

Tantalising experiments that seem to have made human blood cells start producing insulin have raised the prospect of a new treatment for diabetes. Although the treatment has only been tried in mice so far, it might mean people can be cured with implants of their own cells.

As noted, the technique is in the preliminary stages, and stuff that works in mice has failed in humans before. Still, it's a new hope from a very strange angle.

Posted by scott at 09:48 AM | Comments (0)
Another Holiday, for the Rest of Us

I guess it really is true, there's a holiday for everything:

No Pants Day is a day where everyone, be they students, respectable businessmen, or cherished community leaders, leave their pants behind. Usually this means wearing thick, appropriately modest boxer shorts, but bloomers, slips, briefs, and boxer-briefs all work as well.

It's May 6th this year, so mark your calendars!

Posted by scott at 08:27 AM | Comments (1)
April 03, 2005
New Paw for Kitty!

The Simmonses wanted to make his life a little easier, so they called Dr. Denis Marcellin-Little at the N.C. State College of Veterinary Medicine to do something that had never been done before -- attach a prosthetic paw to the cat's actual leg bone.

The surgery is so rare it's been performed on just 70 humans worldwide.

Read entire article here.

No-Prize to Ron!

Posted by Ellen at 08:50 PM | Comments (0)
What the?!?

Pat Sajak has a blog. And guess what... he's a conservative that puts up with the same crap we do:

Every time I argue with a Liberal, I’m reminded of quarrels I used to have with my parents. The battles never seemed fair because my folks decided what the rules were and what was out of bounds. In addition, because they were parents, they could threaten me in ways I couldn’t threaten them, and they could say things I could never say.
The moral superiority [Liberals] bring to the table allows them to alter the playing field and the rules in their favor. They can say and do things the other side can’t because, after all, they have the greater good on their side. If a Conservative—one of the bad guys—complains about the content of music, films or television shows aimed at children, he is being a prude who wants to tell other people what to read or listen to or watch; he is a censor determined to legislate morality. If, however, a Liberal complains about speech and, in fact, supports laws against certain kinds of speech, it is right and good because we must be protected from this “hate speech” or “politically incorrect” speech. (Of course, they—being the good guys—will decide exactly what that is.)

Wow. Just wow. The reaction certain peanut gallery members had to, say, this, is striking.

Posted by scott at 05:11 PM | Comments (0)
Prom Date

I like his prom dress. It's a good color for him.

Oh be quiet! Rub your eyes! We are sick of your bitching. You looked! We know you did!

Posted by Ellen at 04:27 PM | Comments (1)
Super Garrison!

Super Garrison Small Web view.jpg

Posted by Ellen at 03:56 PM | Comments (3)
Let's Go!


We got a new bike seat last week. Unfortunately, my bike's stem is too wide for the mount to fit, so we put it on Ellen's bike instead. We're still not completely sure we're happy with this front-mount type seat, mainly because we're having trouble getting it high enough and forward enought that Ellen's legs can move freely underneath it.

As you can see in the picture, it's definitely a hit with Olivia. We had a Class-A meltdown getting her out of it when we were done riding. It's 50 degrees outside with a 30 mph headwind, but that doesn't seem to matter to the Princess one bit. She likes the view from up there!

Posted by scott at 12:14 PM | Comments (1)
I Want You!


Olivia wants you to join the US Army. Or find her some M&Ms.

Most likely find her some M&Ms.

Posted by scott at 12:06 PM | Comments (2)
Ferrari's Story

Found the following description of why Ferrari's symbol is the prancing horse on one of my Alfa digests (Ferrari got his start at Alfa). Click below if you want to learn the real reason the horse prances:

Yes, Scuderia means horse stable. The Francesco Barraca connection is all bulloxed up with mythology, unfortunately:

The story is that Enzo Ferrari won a minor race called the Circuito del Savio at Ravenna on the Adriatic coast in 1923. WWI Italian flying ace, Franceso Barraca's parents the Conte and Contessa Barraca stopped to talk to the tenacious Ferrari afterwards, recognizing in him many qualities shared with their late son who was killed in battle. So overcome with emotion were they, that they gave Enzo Ferrari the painted shield of a prancing horse that was emblazoned on the side of their hero-son's downed plane and told him to use it as his symbol.

The truth is a little different. During the conversation it was revealed that Ferrari's late brother Alfredino had been a mechanic with the same squadron with which Barraca flew, and more to the point, Alfredino (who had died in 1918 of influenza) had been on Barraca's ground support team, and he and the ace were friends. In recognition of the dual loss of Barraca to his parents and Alfredino to Enzo, The Contessa later sent Ferrari a framed photograph of Major Francesco Barraca standing beside his 91st Squadriglia SPAD XIII aircraft, upon which was painted the emblem of a prancing horse on a white background and was signed "To Enzo Ferrari from Contessa Paolina Barraca."

It has been suggested that the Contessa gave Ferrari the right to use the emblem of the rearing horse, but this is probably not true for several reasons. First of all, the horse was not Major Barraca's personal coat-of-arms as has been suggested by the myth, but was, instead, the insignia of the 91st Italian Squadriglia, which, indeed, it still is, as the 91st still exists. Secondly, and more importantly, that permission was not the Contessa's to give.

OTOH, we can be almost 100% sure that Ferrari "appropriated" the emblem as his personal company logo. But Ferrari was neither stupid nor naive, While the 91st squadron's insignia has the horse facing right, Ferrari's horse faces left. Also, while the Squadriglia's horse is rearing, with both rear feet planted firmly on the ground, Ferrari's horse is prancing on one hoof like a Lipizzaner performing stallion. These differences make the Ferrari use of the motif different enough from the Squadriglia's to make any allegations of plagiarism moot.

Mythology is a powerful thing and while he was alive, the Old Man never corrected the story which has grown up around the incident. As the reporter says to the Jimmy Stewart character in John Ford's "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valence": "When the legend is more persuasive than the truth, print the legend." I guess the heroic picture of a weeping mother handing a panel cut from the charred fuselage of her dead hero-son's airplane to an oil-covered young race driver named Enzo Ferrari as a reward for his race win will live on forever - and that's OK.

Posted by scott at 11:26 AM | Comments (4)
Ooh... Ahh... Pretty...

Alfa Romeo was the featured marque at this year's Amelia Island (FL) Concours d'Elegance, so of course we're going to link up some pictures. Out of all the ones pictured, I think the golf cart is the only thing I could afford. Still, fun to look!

Posted by scott at 11:18 AM | Comments (0)
Pope's body lies in state

The pope is to be buried between four and six days following his death, and the first General Congregation of Cardinals was to meet at 10 a.m. (4 a.m. ET) Monday in the Apostolic Palace to make decisions on the burial time and other details.

The Vatican has not said if John Paul II left instructions for his funeral or burial. Most popes have asked to be buried below St. Peter's Basilica. But the Polish-born pope may have wanted to be laid to rest in his homeland.

Read rest of article here.

Slideshow on the site.

Posted by Ellen at 08:31 AM | Comments (0)
April 02, 2005
Pope John Paul II dies at 84

The Holy Father is deceased this evening at 9:37 in his private apartment," Archbishop Leonardo Sandri said in a written statement.

Read entire announcement here.

Posted by Ellen at 06:49 PM | Comments (1)
Happy Birthday Joshua!

Happy Birthday to Joshua!

Don't for get to check out the BlueLens gallery for new photos every day! We hear there are some National Arboretum pictures were taken yesterday.

Posted by Ellen at 07:57 AM | Comments (3)
April 01, 2005
It's Not Like You Can Whack it on the Nose with a Rolled Up Newspaper

Monterey Bay Aquarium has released its great white shark. The reason? She'd started to eat her tank-mates. Bad shark! Bad sh--rggkk!!!! *crunch* *crunch*

The previous record for keeping a great white in captivity was 16 days. Monterey managed to keep this one going for 198. If this turns out not to be a fluke (as it were), I'd imagine a purpose-built great white display is in the cards. I wonder what their innovation was?

Posted by scott at 03:00 PM | Comments (1)
A University, for the Rest of Us

Robert H. gets an educated but twisted no-prize for bringing us Dr. Vulture's Laboratory of Evil Science. I mean, what's not to love with a corporation who's hiring preferences include:

Doesn’t it just warm your heart when you hear about a big company like McDonald’s hiring the elderly and handicapped? Wouldn’t it be great if Vulture Industries also had jobs for stupid people with no education? Well, you're in luck because we always need people to evaluate the effectiveness of our latest bioweapons; however, if you want to work yourself into the upper, or even middle management of the company you’d better be sharp and well-trained. (A winning attitude and willingness to sleep, cheat, steal and murder your way to the top doesn’t hurt either).

The thing's so damned big I haven't even scratched the surface yet, but have already had a few chuckles. They'd probably give Ellen an honorary doctorate just for setting foot in the place. Olivia would probably get hers in the mail as a 2nd-year birthday present.

Posted by scott at 02:03 PM | Comments (0)
The Solar System's LP?

Another Friday, another spectacular picture of Saturn, this time a shot of the rings. Doesn't look that impressive until you realize that's a moon sitting there in the center of the frame. I wonder if they'll ever release DVDs of this stuff?

Posted by scott at 01:01 PM | Comments (0)
Just Trust Me On This One

Ron gets an upstanding no-prize for bringing us news of new research in just how our brains act when we trust someone:

Turns out those emotions are nestled in the same area as the most powerful springtime feeling of all -- love.

Reporting in the April 1 issue of Science, the researchers used a simplified investment game to probe the workings of the human mind.

Because of where these centers are located, the research actually has important implications for the treatment of various neurological disorders.

Posted by scott at 12:16 PM | Comments (0)
In Case You've Run Out of Things to Worry About

There's always the pandemic superbug:

A virulent type of community-acquired MRSA “superbug” that attacks healthy, young people has been found to be the descendent of a penicillin-resistant strain that caused serious infections worldwide 50 years ago.

Scientists fear that this offspring superbug strain - which causes serious boils and abscesses and can lead to a severe pneumonia - could pose a major public health threat in the future.

Includes a strain that causes pneumonia nasty enough to kill you in 24 hours. That's a spicy meatball!

Posted by scott at 09:25 AM | Comments (1)
Why Didn't I Think of That?

Looks like the going price for a child in New Zealand is $30,000. That'd make a nice, fat downpayment on a new Alfa 159. I guess it's time to sign up for a Craigslist account.

Posted by scott at 08:29 AM | Comments (1)
I Don't Have It!


I dunno what you're talking about Mom. I'm not hiding anything!

Posted by Ellen at 06:50 AM | Comments (2)