August 31, 2005
Sell Your Dog!


A very Ebay No Prize to my Mother for sending us this!

Posted by Ellen at 07:30 PM | Comments (2)
Ancient Cousin

New Scientist today is reporting on the earliest-known chimpanzee fossils yet found. While human ancestors lived in the comparatively fossil-friendly savannah, the east African rain forests chimps have lived in were not thought to be able to produce fossils. This find in the Eastern Rift Valley shows not only that chimp ancestors had a far wider and more diverse range of habitat than previously thought, but that they also existed in close proximity to our own ancestors.

Posted by scott at 03:15 PM | Comments (0)
... it's Dark, and We're Wearing Sunglasses

Joanie brings us news that The Blues Brothers 25th anniversary edition is out on DVD. She also got to see a special theater screening with many of the principals in attendance. Lucky lady!

Shhh... can you hear it? That's the sound of a movie night selection approaching...

Posted by scott at 02:17 PM | Comments (3)
Phone Thugs

Hell with phone police, looks like they've got phone enforcers over in the UK:

A householder has received a letter threatening to put him in hospital if he did not pay his phone bill.
The letter reads: "Dear Mr Harding, With regards to your bill, your balance presently stands at £292.65p as from 23rd August your bill will be £600.

"Failure to pay will result in you being hospitalised. If you thought the events of July 7th and July 21st were bad that is nothing compared to what will happen to you."

I always roll my eyes at my wife's panicky reactions to strongly worded collection notes. But this one, this one I'd probably take seriously.

Posted by scott at 01:29 PM | Comments (0)
Monsters and Thieves

It's 10 p.m., do you know where your cats are?

German police called to a break-in at an apartment in the northern town of Itzstedt found the intruder still on the premises and hiding under a kitchen cabinet.

The "cat burglar" had somehow crawled into the ground-floor of the apartment, broken window blinds, torn down drapes and trashed furniture.

We're talking the 4-legged variety here. I thought it was mighty quiet downstairs last night.

Posted by scott at 09:42 AM | Comments (3)

Looks like the US isn't the only country with unusual obesity problems:

A German court has ruled that Mercedes must release a man from a car lease deal after a dispute over whether he was too heavy to drive the luxury vehicle, Bild newspaper reported on Tuesday.

Of course, the question I'm wondering about is, how'd he fit in the car in the first place?

Posted by scott at 08:38 AM | Comments (0)



This is what happens when a little girl wants to wear the brand new Hello Kitty thongs your friend got you for your birthday.

*Note the various body stickers and the hula lei.

Posted by Ellen at 06:52 AM | Comments (3)
August 30, 2005
Butter Spots

Posted by Ellen at 06:02 PM | Comments (0)

New Scientist is carrying this story about a startling new discovery about Saturn's moon Enceladus. By using both visible and infrared cameras, the space probe Cassini has imaged gigantic water geysers erupting on its south pole. The problem is, they shouldn't be there, and scientists can't come up with a convincing explanation as to how they work (well, aside from the "water shoots out under pressure" bit).

Forget a ticket to California. Anyone got a ticket to Saturn? Round trip, of course.

Posted by scott at 03:53 PM | Comments (0)
~ Star Trekkin' / Across the Universe ~

Looks like they're trying to squeeze some money out of the ol' Enterprise again. It would seem the old guard of Berman et. al. have submitted some sort of treatment to Paramount, so it's far from a done deal. Personally, I really would like to seem them let it lay fallow long enough to get some new faces in the guiding seats at Paramount. Berman and company did very well in their time, but I'm not sure Paramount's executives (notoriously protective of their pointy-eared cash cow) will let them explore new enough territory to make it all worthwhile.

Posted by scott at 02:57 PM | Comments (0)
What the..?

RentMyDaughter is a subsidiary of ChildNet Services, with its corporate headquarters in San Diego, CA. In addition, we also maintain 4 regional offices across the United States.

RentMyDaughter provides safe and trustworthy child-rental services in multiple metropolitan areas. Our service area is growing every year and we are on target to provide services in 50 cities by the end of 2006.

Ok de-bunkers, go find out if this thing is for-real or not. I got a kid that needs to start earning her keep.

It's a joke mom, a joke. I'll wait at least a few more years before renting her out.

Posted by scott at 01:56 PM | Comments (2)
Private Property Surrenders

Remember folks, to liberals this is actually a very sensible policy:

Grieving families across the West [UK] may find the homes of deceased loved ones taken over by bureaucrats to help the homeless, it was claimed yesterday.

Under Government plans, local councils are set to be given sweeping powers allowing them to take temporary control of empty private houses and then rent them out. Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott is proposing that the tough new orders could be brought into play when a house has been unoccupied for as little as six months.

As I recall, it took my mom and my uncle quite a bit longer than a year to sell my grandparent's home after their deaths. I can only imagine what said mom's and uncle's reaction would be if they came with a realtor to the property and found a homeless family had been placed there by the city. I'm sure it would do wonders for the resale value as well.

That's the glory of ivory towers... you can't see the details of your engineered tragedies from way up there.

Posted by scott at 12:36 PM | Comments (12)
Crunchy Bikes

18 wheeler: 1, Bicycle: 0

Garage door: 1, Bicycle on roof rack: 0

According to the texts, no bicyclists were injured.

Being on the small end of the transportation food chain is sometimes bad. I think I now understand why chipmunks are so twitchy.

Posted by scott at 11:36 AM | Comments (0)

Slashdot linked up news that teenagers parking at "inspiration point" may not like hearing:

Foggy windows and lenses are a nuisance, and in the case of automobile windows, can pose a driving hazard. Now, a group of scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) may have found a permanent solution to the problem. The team has developed a unique polymer coating - made of silica nanoparticles - that they say can create surfaces that never fog.

Always more science fiction...

Posted by scott at 10:11 AM | Comments (0)

Diamonds are the hardest substance known to man, right? Not anymore:

Physicists in Germany have created a material that is harder than diamond. Natalia Dubrovinskaia and colleagues at the University of Bayreuth made the new material by subjecting carbon-60 molecules to immense pressures. The new form of carbon, which is known as aggregated diamond nanorods, is expected to have many industrial applications (App. Phys. Lett. 87 083106).

They've already patented the process and are looking for funding to proceed. Slashdot linked this one up as well (I found it on Instapundit) and the first uses people were coming up with was tool coatings for things like saw blades and grinders. No word on whether this will be the material we can make a space elevator out of, but we're definitely getting close to it.

And no, it's not diamond. The structure is completely different. No word on whether or not it sparkles though.

Posted by scott at 09:20 AM | Comments (8)
Big Pig

He's gonna need a bigger smokehouse:

Hunter Wayne Haldane has caught what is thought to be one of the biggest ferals in Queensland near his home in Kennedy, north of Cardwell.

The boar weighed 270kg and the only scales that could hold it were electronic ones used to weigh cattle.

Most feral pigs, which hide in sugar cane, weigh 60kg-150kg.

Even at the smaller size, feral pigs are dangerous. They were a leading cause of childhood death in pre-industrial Europe, and even domestic ones need to be treated with healthy respect.

Posted by scott at 08:29 AM | Comments (4)
August 29, 2005

My relatives think my snake is horrible, but they have not seen this yet!

This is literally something from an Ozzy video!

Posted by Ellen at 08:38 PM | Comments (2)
Tree Gas

Scientific American linked up this summary of new research into how trees work with carbon dioxide. According to the article, it would appear they don't grow any faster in a CO2-rich environment than they do in a more "normal" one. The study is not without problems though, since the affects of CO2 may take longer to manifest, or they may have been manifest in the root system, which the experiment did not examine.

Posted by scott at 01:38 PM | Comments (0)
Weird Problem of the Day

Jellyfish Cause Reactor Shutdown in Sweden:

A Swedish nuclear power plant shut down one of its three reactors Monday because of an abnormal accumulation of jellyfish in the cooling system.

Where are Dory and Marlin when you need them?

Posted by scott at 12:55 PM | Comments (0)
Shaggy Cat Story

The Religious Policeman brings us this nice adoption story about a blind Saudi cat. I wonder if they'll take ours?

Posted by scott at 11:42 AM | Comments (0)
Bee Power

New Scientist is carrying this report on how power company land management is affecting bee populations across the country. By changing the way they manage the narrow but very long right-of-ways high-tension power lines use, power companies have inadvertently created havens that shelter many different sorts of bees, some of them quite rare. While only a few power companies have changed their practices, these results could provide a powerful (ha!) public relations tool to combat the whole "power lines cause cancer" silliness.

Posted by scott at 10:10 AM | Comments (0)
Boomtime, eh?

Fark (of all places) linked up this detailed look at recent developments surrounding the Alberta oil sands. Now that oil prices have gone far beyond the $40 per barrel price generally seen as required to make the sands profitable, the region is experiencing a gigantic development boom. The potential windfall of billions of dollars in profits are creating fault lines throughout Canadian politics, and could change any number of international axes of power.

In other words, the system is working... higher prices are causing alternative sources of energy to be exploited. This will (eventually) increase supplies, causing prices to decline. That is, if the markets are allowed to work. As mentioned in the article, Canada's eastern liberal elite have once before instituted controls on the development of oil resources for their own purposes, and they're already making noises they will have no problems doing so again. Such bureaucratic meddling is perhaps the only thing gauranteed to prevent the efficient utilization of any resource, and with the mountains of cash this resource can bring in, meddling attempts are pretty much inevitable.

Will exploitation of the oil sands mean the return of cheap oil? Well, it'll certainly mean the return of cheaper oil, which may be enough to bail China out of the jam in which its energy subsidies have placed it. This is probably the most desirable result, since it will allow India's, China's, and the US's economies to continue expanding without a major financial disruption. Canada will become the surprise superpower of the 21st century, with stunned canuks in an enviable position of being able to dictate terms at will to both OPEC and the industrialized world.

But if it doesn't, the subsequent economic collapse will certainly send oil prices crashing well below the $40 per barrel price Canada needs to keep the oil sands profitable, causing an entire industry there to implode. Seething resentment over meddlesome government bungling could finally trigger a rupture that splits the country apart. Governments of oil-rich states, grown fat on monstrous profits, will suddenly be saddled with expensive, inefficient welfare states and constituents unwilling to accept any deprivation. The Middle East will almost certainly wither on the vine, and Hugo Chavez will be lucky to make it to Cuba before a mob hangs his body by its ankles in the capital's square.

It is a very fine line indeed that the various players are walking on right now, and anyone who thinks they know where it'll all end isn't paying attention. Welcome to interesting times!

Posted by scott at 08:49 AM | Comments (2)
August 28, 2005
It's Because They're Evil

So now they're going to tell us why cats are such fuzzy monsters:

Animal behaviour experts are launching a study into why cats sometimes bite their owners when stroked.

Researchers at the University of Lincoln say petting aggression is a common problem, with more than 20% of household cats showing it.

Personally I'd be more interested in finding out why they seem to need to puke once a day, every day. But that's just me.

Posted by scott at 09:05 AM | Comments (3)
August 27, 2005

Crime author Patricia Cornwell has taken out full-page ads in two national newspapers to deny she is obsessed with Jack the Ripper.

Read entire article here.

Posted by Ellen at 04:03 PM | Comments (0)
Alfa Update is carrying this update on Alfa Romeo's plans for the upcoming Pebble Beach Concours dElegance, of which it is the featured marque. The article also includes a brief update on plans to return to the US (looks increasingly likely Alfa will find a home at the Ferrari-Maserati dealership down the road from my house).

Anyone got a spare ticket to California?

Posted by scott at 08:53 AM | Comments (3)
Freak Find

Fark linked up this brief history of "special people", more familiar to the rest of us as circus geeks. For a very long time it was thought these people were exploited, and eventually freak shows had to close down because of this perception. It was only later revealed that the circuses paid their "special people" very well indeed, and the do-gooders of the 60s and 70s merely ended the best jobs of their lives.

Posted by scott at 06:51 AM | Comments (0)
August 26, 2005
As the Gray Lady Spins

They may be good for science, but when it comes to war coverage, well, let's say the New York Times isn't quite as good.

At least with Fox News they come out and say they have a point of view.

Posted by scott at 04:10 PM | Comments (2)
Musical Mystery Solved

One of my favorite movie soundtracks is Jerry Goldsmith's Star Trek, the Motion Picture (big shock, I'm sure). However, I've always been puzzled by the great "BONG!" sounds in several of the music sequences. Whatever was making them seemed to sometimes be plucked, sometimes struck, and sometimes used with some sort of slide. But I could never figure out what it was, and eventually chalked it up to some sort of bizzare 70s synthesizer. Boy, was I wrong:

It's a monster: 18 feet of machined aluminium, with numerous strings and moveable (sometimes motorised) pickups. Japanese new-ager Kitaro plays his with a bow (like in the picture), or you can use an old artillery shell as a slide.

Yup, includes a picture of the thing. I think I may have found a new instrument for Nina's band!

The site also includes an intrueging story of "The Blaster's" other potential use as a way to make women... rmm... "extremely happy?"

Posted by scott at 02:24 PM | Comments (0)
Oh Yeah, that Definitely Makes Me Feel Safer

Well, I guess we have to give him points for trying:

A Mexican city at the heart of a raging drug war is trying to woo back jittery Texan day trippers by offering free bus tours with an armed police escort.

"The aim is to shake off the bad image that we have and give a boost to the craft markets and restaurants in the center, where business is almost nil," Nuevo Laredo's tourism director Ramon Garza told Reuters on Wednesday.

Nuevo Laredo has been singled out for special "stay the f- away" mention by the State Department, since apparently the drug gangs have been shooting RPGs at each other lately. Oh, and did we mention the 30 kidnappings of US citizens? Yeah, definitely the garden spot of the Mexico border, donchaknow.

Posted by scott at 01:37 PM | Comments (0)
~ Does Whatever a Spider Can ~

Got another thing to add to the gotta get me one o' these list:

Spiderman does it, so does James Bond. Now a gadget has been developed to allow US marines to zip up the sides of buildings or ships with virtually no effort.

All you do is fire a rope to the top of the structure using a harpoon gun or grappling hook, and then fit the rope into the device, called PowerQuick, which attaches to your climbing harness. Then just sit back and squeeze a lever.

Of course, since the military developed it, each one probably costs more than ten grand. But I can dream, can't I?

Posted by scott at 12:19 PM | Comments (1)
Bah, that was Easy! In My Day...

Yet another thing I'll never do on a bike. To this day I get nervous just taking my hands off the bars. Of course, the number of bike-related injuries I got as a kid was significantly less than just about any of my friends. And I never chipped any teeth either! :)

Posted by scott at 10:41 AM | Comments (0)
Spinning the Core

Slashdot linked up news that scientists have found even more proof that the Earth's core spins faster than the rest of the planet:

Confirming assertions first made in 1996, a team of geophysicists are presenting data in the journal Science today showing that the earth's inner core, a ball of solid iron larger than the moon, spins faster than the rest of the planet. Over a period of 700 to 1,200 years, the inner core appears to make one full extra spin.

Also includes the startling assertion that the core has "wood-grain-like layering."

Posted by scott at 10:09 AM | Comments (0)
I Wonder if They Smoke the Stuff?

In the "no issue too serious to make fun of" category we have Flying Spaghetti Monsterism:

Flying Spaghetti Monsterism is a parody religion created to protest the decision by the Kansas State Board of Education to allow intelligent design to be taught in science classes alongside evolution.

The "religion" has since become an Internet phenomenon garnering many followers of the Flying Spaghetti Monster (sometimes referring to themselves as "Pastafarians", a pun on Rastafarians) who claim to have been touched by "His Noodly Appendage" and preach the word of their "noodly master" as the one true religion. Flying Spaghetti Monsterism is primarily the invention of Bobby Henderson, a graduate of Oregon State University with a degree in physics.

The more you know...

Posted by scott at 09:06 AM | Comments (1)
Happy Birthday!

Happy Birthday Amber!

Posted by Ellen at 07:01 AM | Comments (2)
August 25, 2005

I always give props to my past instructors. Here is Bonita's website.

Posted by Ellen at 09:11 PM | Comments (0)
Cats in Sinks!

Our cats do this.

Posted by Ellen at 09:09 PM | Comments (1)
First Person

Instapundit linked up this harrowing account of a journalist's adventures covering Mosul:

Folks who haven't done much urban fighting might take issue with the wild chases, and they might say that people should always "stack up" and do things this or that way, but men in Delta Force, SEALs and the like, all know that when chasing wild men into the labyrinth, soldiers enter the land of confusion. If soldiers don't go fast, the bad guys simply get away. Just a few minutes ago, these three guys were going "105 miles per hour," and outrunning a helicopter.

There were shops, alleys, doorways, windows . . .which to me screamed: death, death, death, death...

A little disjointed in places, but still highly recommended as a "warts-and-all" account we just don't see much of from the Green Zone-bound MSM.

Posted by scott at 02:38 PM | Comments (0)
That's Mister Carrot Top to You

This made the rounds a few days ago on a forum I couldn't link up: not only does he work with goofy props, he can also kick your butt to the moon.

The comments seem to include people who've actually been in a gym with him, and the general consensus of those is "no 'roids, just work". Which is all well and good, but I can't get over how weird he looks. To me, it's like he's got contacts in or something.

Oh well, as long as he stays out of trouble and pays his taxes, none of my damned business what he looks like. Although I would suggest perhaps a belt or suspenders next time the camera guy comes around.

Posted by scott at 01:57 PM | Comments (0)
What do You Expect from the Creator of "Cop Rock"?

Jason of Countercolumn finally got a look at the critcally-acclaimed Bochco drama Over There. His reaction is about what you'd expect from someone who was actually, you know, over there:

Because even though the enemy mortar crew has foolishly decided to set a pattern by firing on the same section of road repeatedly, there is no counterbattery fire to be had, despite the fact that our Q36 and Q37 radars have the capability of acquiring the exact 10 digit grid of the mortar crew, sending the information to directly to the the self-propelled 155mm which the 3rd ID most definitely has in the inventory, and launching the ordnance at the mortar crew while the incoming shells are still in the air. (The only thing that slows us down is how fast we want to clear fires.

"Never let the facts get in the way of a good story" is the bedrock motto of Hollywood drama. From cop shows to historical dramas to science fiction to war stories, writers and producers are famously willing and able to dump inconvenient truths to get at some sort of mystical drama, all the while forgetting that in many cases it's the inconvenient truths that make the drama.

Posted by scott at 01:10 PM | Comments (0)
Paging Alanis Morissette, White Courtesy Phone Please

Here's one set of firemen who aren't going to want to go to the next big convention:

Jacksonville Fire-Rescue ladder truck returning from being repaired caught on fire on Interstate 95, sending flames and smoke into the air and forcing officials to briefly stop all northbound traffic, according to WJXT-TV in Jacksonville.

Funny because nobody got hurt and there's just something giggle-worthy about a fire truck sitting on the side of the road belching flames. I need to get out more.

Posted by scott at 11:38 AM | Comments (0)
Now Oh-bit, Oh-bit, Oh-bit

(Don't worry, there's only one person out there who's supposed to get the title.)

Slashdot's carryinig this update on developments in the private spacecraft industry. Virigin has announced its third generation spacecraft will be capable of Earth orbit. It now joins several other projects in vying for the fifty million dollar America's Space Prize for orbital flight.

Of course, announcing something is quite different from actually producing it. Orbital flight is supposedly much more difficult than the sub-orbital stuff that won the x-prize this year. Still, they've given themselves quite a bit of lead time, so who knows?

Posted by scott at 09:52 AM | Comments (4)
Flat Top Dragon

Janes, via Fark, is reporting some suspicious activity around Varyag, the never-completed Russian carrier the Chinese bought seven years ago:

Chinese shipyard workers have been repairing a badly damaged ex-Russian aircraft carrier and have repainted it with the country's military markings, raising the question once again of whether China is pursuing longer-term plans to field its first carrier.

In the latest developments, images show that workers at the Chinese Dalian Shipyard have repainted the ex-Russian Kuznetsov-class aircraft carrier Varyag with the markings and colour scheme of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) Navy (PLAN). Additional new photographs show that other work, the specifics of which could not be determined, appears to be continuing and that the condition of the vessel is being improved.

Long-time military buffs should remember Varyag... it was the hapless hulk that was towed around the Black Sea for several years (I think as many as three) while people figured out how to get it to China. Most of its hatches and elevators had been open to the elements for years previously, and it did not have a powerplant or rudder. The thing was widely considered a rusting pile of junk then, although it's hard to say what four years of industrious work may have done to improve the situation.

While a single carrier is enough to raise eyebrows in the west (and give its primary target, India, an ulcer or two), this will definitely not threaten the US's Pacific fleet, which at last count has six. If it is eventually turned into a military asset, the Chinese will learn what every other nation has learned about big-deck carriers... they're very expensive, insanely complex, and more than a little dangerous to operate. There's a reason only seven nations in history have ever operated them, and of those only one in any real numbers since WWII. With a name as incongruous as "The People's Liberation Army Navy", I think it may be a long time indeed before Varyag ever gets underway.

Posted by scott at 08:40 AM | Comments (3)
August 24, 2005
I Shall Weep My Wee-Wen-Gay!

(Title is a Black Adder reference. Anyone..? Anyone..? Buehler..? Gah... think revenge...)

My mom was famous for saying "you know, I wouldn't mind if [whatever asshat was on her list today] sprained an ankle or something, but I wouldn't want him dead."

Which I agreed with. Guess who just sprained an ankle:

Maverick film-maker Michael Moore has enrolled on a crash course at a $3,800-a-week (€3,119 a-week) celebrity fat farm in a bid to loose weight.

Yeah, I know, several folks in the gallery (including said parental-unit) will not find making fun of overweight people funny. Not. The. Least. Bit. Thank. You. To which, I can only say...


Oh don't worry. I ride a bicycle in traffic. If that doesn't scream "karma's a bitch, ain't it?" you're just not paying attention.

Posted by scott at 07:25 PM | Comments (2)

You have got to see these!

Thanks Joshua for passing these to Scott!

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

Apparently one of the classics, though I'd never heard of it, the Paleomap Project provides an era-by-era look at how the continents have wandered around the planet.

Something that's always puzzled me is why any continents are left in the first place. Coastal erosion regularly eats restorts and houses on both US coasts, and I'm sure the phenomena has similar effects all over the world. Why haven't they all eroded away completely? I'm sure it's just that my grasp of geologic processes isn't really that good, but I don't know any geologists to ask for an explanation.

Posted by scott at 12:02 PM | Comments (2)
Old Head

Fark (with a suitably giggly headline) linked up news of a remarkable hominid fossil find:

Archaelogists say they have found a 1.8 million-year-old Homo erectus skull in Georgia, the oldest such skull to be found in Europe. According to David Lortkipanidze, director of the Georgian National Museum, the skull was found August 6 and excavated on August 21 in Dmanisi, about 85 km southwest of Tblisi.

According to the article, this makes the find a full one million years older than any previous H. erectus skull found in Europe, and is indeed within a few hundred thousand years of the oldest H. erectus finds anywhere. If further testing holds this result up, the implications for hominid migration theories will be profound.

Posted by scott at 08:56 AM | Comments (0)

Well, there go two careers down the toilet:

Two Norfolk-based guided missile destroyers collided off the coast of Jacksonville, on Monday afternoon while conducting exercises, The Virginian-Pilot reported.

Nobody was hurt, so maybe it was just a kiss? Considering ships aren't designed to be bumper cars, I kinda doubt it.

Posted by scott at 07:56 AM | Comments (0)
August 23, 2005
He Loves Flowers

Posted by scott at 09:10 PM | Comments (0)
Yellow Mum

Posted by scott at 09:05 PM | Comments (0)
Pizza On A Stick

Posted by scott at 09:00 PM | Comments (1)
The Next Mia Hamm?

Sometimes you know they're just pitching a tantrum over something fuzzy. Sometimes though, sometimes...

At 18 months, our little monster was in a craft store and encountered one of those large styrofoam balls. We're talking something about the size of a small bowling ball, but about 1/10th the weight. She dragged it out of the bin, dropped it on the floor, then kicked it into the wall. As I watched it so I wouldn't have to lose/pay for it (dads of toddlers will understand), I heard a tiny voice behind me shout, "GOAALLLL!!!!!" As I turned around, I noticed she even had her arms in the air.

Something like eight months later (i.e. this afternoon), Ellen walks around the day care center's corner with an obviously distraught Olivia in her arms. As Ellen straps her into the car seat, I'm treated to a class-A meltdown. We're talking about fists thrashing, a bright red face, and uulations that would make an Arab woman take notes. I'm surprised the windows are still in the car.

Me, in a resigned tone: "What did you have to take from her today?"

Ellen, in the same tone: "A ball."

As we drove home, a heartbreakingly sobbing Olivia simply had one word for us...

Olivia: "Soccerrrrrrr!!!!" *sob* ... *snort* "Soccerrrrrr!!!!!"

Me: "Was it a..?"

Ellen: *nods*

Guess what's on the shopping list for this weekend?

Sorry Ron, you'll have to make your own. Ellen would notice if Olivia suddenly disappeared and showed up at your house in a shirt, shorts, and gloves. Chicks are unreasonable that way.

Posted by scott at 06:32 PM | Comments (2)
Lego People

Looks like one more step to growing your own replacement parts has been made:

Scientists say they have made a significant step towards making human lungs for transplantation.

The UK team at Imperial College London took human embryonic stem cells and encouraged them to grow into cells found in adult lungs.

These lung cells are the type needed to allow oxygen to cross into the blood.

Eventually, it may be possible to make them from other stem cell sources such as bone marrow, the team told Tissue Engineering.

It's often said the discoveries of one century come to dominate the next. The ones I can see so far are buckminsterfullerene (carbon nanotubes) and stem cells. I think it's really exciting to try and pick out what might be next.

Posted by scott at 03:29 PM | Comments (0)
Cool Tech

~ It's my blog and I'll post about what I want to... about what I want to... about what I want to~

Nifty road bike rear-view-mirror gizmo there. Since about half my riding is done on city streets, anything that makes me less likely to get squashed by Buffy the Cellphone Slayer is fine by me. Wasn't expensive at all either. For once.

Posted by scott at 02:31 PM | Comments (3)
Flying into the Future

Slashdot linked up news that Japan is getting ready to start testing its supersonic transport (SST) research models again. Their ultimate goal is to create a 300 passenger Mach 2 transport, but for now they'll be content with a small-scale prototype that doesn't punch holes in the Australian outback like it did last time.

Boeing periodically dusts off its own SST plans, with precisely this same goal. The last time they tried they nearly launched the trans-sonic transport, a Mach .95 aircraft that could carry large numbers of passengers at not quite the speed of sound. That project was cancelled in favor of the upcoming 787, a transport with more conventional performance but extremely exotic manufacturing techniques*.

Is there room in the market for an SST? Well, until it crashed (and 9/11 happened) Concorde was actually making some money, although it probably never would have paid back its development costs. Still, it seems to imply there is a market for the thing. If the Japanese and French developers can keep costs down, who knows?

* The entire fuselage will be made of a single gigantic tube of carbon fiber with things like door and window openings "woven in", for example.

Posted by scott at 01:05 PM | Comments (0)
No Football There

Pat gets an ancient no-prize for bringing us this article about the Citadel, the most ancient city you've never heard of:

Resting on a layer cake of civilizations that have come and gone for an estimated 7,000 to 10,000 years, the Citadel looms over the apartment blocks of this otherwise rather gray metropolis in Iraqi Kurdistan.

The settlement rivals Jericho and a handful of other famous towns for the title of the oldest continuously inhabited site in the world. The difference is that few people have heard of the Citadel outside Iraq. And political turmoil has prevented a full study of its archaeological treasures.

Of course, one of the problems of being an inhabited ancient site is that digging becomes problematic. Not everyone wants to have their basement excavated, donchaknow.

Posted by scott at 11:36 AM | Comments (0)
Oriental Oil Imbroglio

While it may seem that the great dragon of China is able to shrug off the super-high oil prices that are percieved to be strangling everyone else, the truth is actually quite different:

The chaos created by sudden fuel shortages in Guangdong Province continues ... The official reason for the shortages proffered by the central government, laughably, concerned last week’s typhoon that hit the province. Additional speculation for the shortages blamed market distortions due to price controls, alas this was only partly correct. Finally, the Hong Kong media got it right yesterday, the real reasons for the shortages have been common knowledge in Guangzhou for several weeks...

While the author cites warring oil companies turning off the taps in a conspiracy to corner China's burgeoning petroleum market, the actual reason is right there... price controls. This explains a lot about what's going on in the oil markets right now. When prices go up, what's supposed to happen is that demand goes down. In the market-driven economies of the west, that's exactly what's happening. This then results in a stabilization of prices, eventually leading to a reduction of price as things regain equilibrium.

But China's throwing a wrench into the works. By instituting price controls, China has allowed demand to grow at a rate completely disconnected from the reality of oil supplies. High prices should cause factories, farm equipment, cars, and power plants to become more efficient just to stay in business, causing them to use less oil, stopping and then eventually reversing price hikes. But since the Chinese government is shielding its industries from this effect there is no incentive to improve, no reason to become more efficient. Wasteful tractors, inefficient power plants, and gas-guzzling cars are allowed to continue operating, even faster, because there's no reason for them not to.

However, the "ain't no such thing as a free lunch" principle is finally starting to take hold. Someone's been left holding the bag on this, eating this price difference, and it would appear to be the oil companies. The inevitable result of any attempt to artificially control prices is a shortage, and now that these oil companies have cut off the taps all sorts of hell may start breaking loose. Because you see most people don't understand why market forces, even ones that seem to hurt people, are a long-term good. They instead focus on the short-term evil of shortages, long lines at gas stations, brown-outs at home, and crops left to rot in fields because there's no fuel for the tractor.

These are the times when democracy shines, and therein lies a deep and perhaps insoluble problem for the current Chinese government. When western nations tried to have it both ways by controlling oil prices in the face of real scarcity back in the 1970s, the resulting economic chaos simply caused voters to boot out the engineers of the disaster and bring in others who could fix it. In some places these fixers were then booted out in turn*, but there was no social revolution, no dismantling of an entire country, no civil wars.

China doesn't have this safety valve. Worse still, the communist party leadership has made the common error of assuming it is the country, and therefore its leaders cannot get their heads around China existing without them. If they can't get ahead of this oil crisis, and quickly, Very Bad Things will start to happen. If they can't get the oil companies to play ball, economic collapse is right around the corner. If they can't get the populace to accept higher prices, social revolution is right behind it.

And therein lies the rub... it seems clear the populace won't accept higher prices, and China's Byzantine bureaucracy and endemic corruption mean their oil companies may not have to play ball. And even if they do, oil prices aren't going to drop just because the Chinese government wants them to, so getting the oil companies to come around will merely delay the crisis, not avert it. When irresistible forces start flitting around immovable objects, reality has a way of clubbing those who refuse to see. If the Chinese government doesn't do something to reign in demand, I'm expecting that club to hit them right between the eyes.

I've often said we're sitting on an oil price bubble that merely needs a pinprick to burst. China's economy collapsing into a heap would fit the bill nicely. Unfortunately their governmental structures are so rigid and inflexible, social revolution would almost inevitably follow. Considering China holds an enormous amount of the US's debt, this would definitely cause "interesting times" for just about everyone.

But that's another story...

* Westerners are no better at seeing long-term good versus short-term evil, and I can vividly remember the anger most people felt as jobs were lost, farms were foreclosed, and businesses went under during the early 80s. Reagan lost most of his congressional power base in the 1982 elections because of this, and I'm still amazed Margaret Thatcher stayed in power at roughly the same time.

Posted by scott at 10:03 AM | Comments (4)
Piano Man Update

Fark links up news that the myserious "Piano Man" has returned home... to Germany. Confidentiality laws prevent the complete story from being told, but it would appear the guy was mentally ill (duh), trying to kill himself when he was picked up, and couldn't really play the piano all that well after all.

Posted by scott at 08:38 AM | Comments (0)
August 22, 2005
Discouraging is...

Giving your fitness-loon wife, who has not worked out seriously in at least a six weeks, your heart rate monitor, and then listening to it bitch at her for not working hard enough throughout her ENTIRE 1 HOUR ROUTINE. Remembering all the while that the damned thing bitches YOU out for working too hard 15 minutes after you head out.

Youth really is wasted on the young, I tell ya.

Update: Ok, so maybe not the entire workout. Can hear "Betty" (Bitchin' Betty... Air Force wannabes like me will understand) griping her out for working too hard now. After I went upstairs and said "harder! Go faster!" Grr....

Posted by scott at 08:28 PM | Comments (1)
It's a Small World...

For once an "obsession" entry my mom can't gripe about (much). Turns out what is certainly the slickest and possibly the highest-end on-line bicycle vendor (that I've found at any rate) is actually based in Little Rock AR:

If you're ever passing through Little Rock, we'd love to have you visit our showroom ... We're located in between downtown and the Hillcrest neighborhood, one of the most historic and beautiful sections of Little Rock.

These people carry all kinds of exotica, things like Colnagos and Pinorellos and Pegorettis and a whole bunch of other names I've never heard of and can't possibly afford. Right next door to everyone's favorite cranky southern gramma. Whodathunkit?

Posted by scott at 03:20 PM | Comments (0)
TB History

Looks like tuberculosis may have been a human affliction for far longer than previously thought:

Molecular analysis suggests that the East African samples and the commoner strains are all descended from a more ancient bacterial species that emerged in Africa as long as three million years ago.

Of course, being descended from and being made ill from are two different things. Considering that TB is a disease that leaves major indicators of its presence in bones, I find it a bit surprising we haven't found any evidence of it in the fossil record. Then again, considering how rare post-cranial human fossils are, it's quite possible our sample size isn't big enough to find anything.

Posted by scott at 02:58 PM | Comments (0)
New Sounds in Heaven

Pat gets an electronic no-prize for bringing us news that synthesizer innovator Robert A. Moog has died. I'm pretty sure Ellen's sister Nina plays a genuine Moog synth in her band.

Posted by scott at 01:47 PM | Comments (2)
When Politics Attacks

Boy, am I glad my battleship-nut brother Jeff doesn't live in San Francisco. 'Cause if he did, he'd probably be pretty pissed off right now:

Veterans groups and history buffs had hoped tourists in San Francisco could walk the same teak decks [of the battleship USS Iowa] where sailors dodged Japanese machine-gun fire and fired 16-inch guns that helped win battles across the South Pacific.

Instead, it appears the retired battleship is headed about 80 miles inland, to Stockton, a gritty agricultural port town on the San Joaquin River and home of California’s annual asparagus festival.
[San Francisco] city supervisors voted 8-3 last month to oppose taking in the ship, citing local opposition to the Iraq war and the military’s stance on gays, among other things.

"If I was going to commit any kind of money in recognition of war, then it should be toward peace, given what our war is in Iraq right now," Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi said.

Just when you thought soft-headed PC lefties couldn't get any dumber.

Of course, one city's politically incorrect monument is another city's impressive tourist attraction, so let's hear it for the city planners of Stockton! May the sales taxes and admission charges they reap from this impressive bit of history enable the funding of many a small-town improvement project.

Via Jason, who quite rightly notes:

Yes, a museum ship that fought in World War II, Korea, and the Gulf War, and a piece of our nation's history isn't good enough for San Francisco.

Just don't question their patriotism.


Posted by scott at 12:55 PM | Comments (0)
"Peaking" at a Problem

Instapundit linked up the latest attempt at de-bunking the most recent "peak oil" pap:

"Peak Oil:" Welcome to the media's new version of shark attacks

The cover story of the New York Times Sunday Magazine written by Peter Maass is about "Peak Oil." The idea behind "peak oil" is that the world has been on a path of increasing oil production for many years, and now we are about to peak and go into a situation where there are dwindling reserves, leading to triple-digit prices for a barrel of oil, an unparalleled worldwide depression, and as one web page puts it, "Civilization as we know it is coming to an end soon."

One might think that doomsday proponents would be chastened by the long history of people of their ilk being wrong: Nostradamus, Malthus, Paul Ehrlich, etc. Clearly they are not.

The parallels between this article and last year's Chicken Little and the Oil Crisis, in which someone went to enormous lengths attempting to convince us all we were dullards for doubting the scheme, are striking and not surprising. The biggest difference is this guy is an actual award-winning economist and I'm not. Maybe that'll finally convince said chicken littles to start listening?

Nah, I didn't think so either.

Posted by scott at 11:51 AM | Comments (0)
A Goal, for the Rest of You

Because if this happened to me, I'd get much worse than just dirty looks:

Hours and hours and miles and miles of training pay off!!!

At a neighborhood party last evening, I was chatting with the mother of my daughter's best friend -- an alarmingly attractive woman that sometimes makes grown men sigh when she walks into a room. She glanced down at my legs, stopped what she was saying in mid sentence, and asked, "Do you mind if I touch your legs?"...

Actually, I'd fear more for the lady... I already know what'd happen to me. To wit: "Do you think it would be possible to cast cement shoes with a shoebox?"

Me: "Why?"

Ellen: "No reason, just wondering..."

Posted by scott at 10:29 AM | Comments (2)
How Many Federal Agencies will this Guy Attract?

The ones I can think of are the FBI, ATF, and whatever section of homeland security happens to be awake that morning:

[T]oday’s Transom has a downright disturbing item about Brooklyn artist Chris Hackett ... who is constructing a fully-functional suitcase bomb. The piece is courtesy of the Madagascar Institute, a radical art organization which is organizing an exhibition to be shown at either Cooper Union or South Street Seaport the week of September 11.

The saddest part is, when the various local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies come and shut this down, they'll actually have the nerve to a) act surprised, b) claim censorship, and c) blame neoconservbushitlercans.

Posted by scott at 09:43 AM | Comments (0)
August 21, 2005
It's Not Beef Jerky!

The mysterious boy on the Smithsonian laboratory table had probably died of pneumonia about 1850 – too sick to eat, and delirious from fever.

His body had been dressed in a pleated shirt, finely tailored waistcoat and white sateen trousers and buried in an elegant iron coffin along Columbia Road NW in the District of Columbia.

Read entire article.
Posted by Ellen at 02:07 PM | Comments (0)
Color Coded Tampons

They are real.

Posted by Ellen at 02:04 PM | Comments (1)
Live Nude Girl

With so many obstacles, passing a strip-club audition would be a challenge. Would I take my passion and make it happen? Or would I be turned away and forced to cry silent tears of pride?

Great story! Check it out here.

Posted by Ellen at 09:18 AM | Comments (1)
The Girls (The Hot Girls) Of Comicon

No, they all do not look like this.

Olivia watched this with me, and every time Tank Girl showed up she shouted... "NINA!"

Posted by Ellen at 09:12 AM | Comments (0)
August 20, 2005
The Next Space Race?

Slashdot linked up news that Russia and the European Space Agency are to begin collaboration on a "next generation" space shuttle. The plan is apparently to have a deep-space program developing in parallel to NASA's own CEV, but with a stronger emphasis on space station maintenance.

Posted by scott at 10:50 AM | Comments (0)
A Bottle Bracket, for the Rest of Us

Trust me, after watching 3 hours of Barney, the Wiggles, and Sesame Street, you really wish you had one of these. And a flask to go with it, of course.

To, you know, hold Gatorade. Yeah... Gatorade...

Posted by scott at 09:49 AM | Comments (0)
When the Squirrels go "Boom"

And the winner of "most innovative use of fuel-air explosives" goes to... the Paso Robles (CA) Public School district and the Rodenator Pro:

The $2,000 system exterminates the critters by releasing a mixture of propane and oxygen into a hole and lighting a fire. It was demonstrated by a Pinedale, Calif., distributor at Pat Butler Elementary last week.

Squirrel problem? Use high explosives! God I love this country.

Posted by scott at 07:59 AM | Comments (3)
August 19, 2005
MMMMmmm...Mouse GOOD!

Yay!! Cornbread ate!

Posted by Ellen at 09:30 PM | Comments (2)
Rmm... Wha???

You know, I actually did try to figure out what a preeventualist is, but then I got to this:

On the contrary, preeventualism is founded on the understanding that hope will always prevail in any mode of thinking. The preeventualist simply opts for a primitive philosophy, wherein concepts are abstract and ideas have not grown to a point where hope can be inspired.

Which is why many have referred to preeventualism as surintellectualism.

and my head exploded. Maybe Joshua can figure it out.

Via Reflections in D Minor.

Posted by scott at 03:05 PM | Comments (5)
Speaking of Yamato

Digging around I found out the wreckage of Yamato had been found and surveyed not once but twice in the past 20 years. If this series of photos and a diorama constructed from them are correct, there just isn't much for the 2202 crew to raise.

The violence it took to tear apart a ship like that is nearly unimaginable. Very, very sad.

Posted by scott at 02:08 PM | Comments (1)
Nothing to See Here Folks, Move Along

Instapundit points out a rather humorous bit of self-contradiction coming from the great Gray Lady herself. Contradictions are, of course, something that happens to people not involved in the MSM.

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

Jeff gets a battleship gray no-prize for bringing us news of a damned ambitious WWII reconstruction:

This is 1/1 scale location set of the battleship Yamato for the Toei movie "Otokotchi no Yamato (Men's Yamato)" that will be shown to the general public in Japan from December 17, 2005. They have reconstructed a part of ship to the original size in the shipbuilding docks of Hitachi Zosen corporation in Onomichi-city, Hiroshima Pref. The total construction cost of this big set is 600 million yen.

Sorry Ron, it doesn't fly through space or fire laser torpedoes. I knew you'd ask.

Posted by scott at 12:11 PM | Comments (2)
And the MRI Goes... BANG BANG BANG

Pat gets an unpredictably powerful no-prize for bringing us news (and pictures!) from the wonderful world of MRI screwups.

Go in like a conscientious person to make sure you're not going to get killed by cancer, get killed by a flying fire extinguisher instead. Can't tell me God doesn't have a sense of humor...

Posted by scott at 10:29 AM | Comments (0)
Miracle Fabric

In the latest "living science fiction" installment, we have nanotube fabric, which now apparently can be manufactured in bulk:

The flexible, transparent sheets can conduct electricity and emit light or heat when a voltage is applied, leading their creators to propose that our car windows and the canopies of military aircraft could contain nearly invisible antennae, electrical heaters for defrost, or informative optical displays.

These sheets, which are presently several meters long but could potentially be much larger, might also be useful in everything from flexible computer screens that could be rolled into a sack, to light bulb-like devices providing uniform lighting, to strong sails that could be propelled in space by sunlight.

The stuff is so new and capable, they literally have no idea how many different uses it will have. Now that they can produce it comparatively cheaply, we may all get to find out soon.

Posted by scott at 09:34 AM | Comments (0)
Just Don't Place Him Near an Open Flame

Because all his plastic might melt:

Steve Erhardt is a man in search of perfection. A virtual human "Ken" doll, the celebrity hairstylist and makeup artist has undergone approximately 30 cosmetic surgeries and subsequent maintenance and has spent close to $250,000 out of his own pocket to achieve his current look.

He works in Hollywood, duh. I'm always amazed how people try to look fabulous with plastic surgery and just end up looking freaky.

Ah well, it's their money. People like this keep an entire industry's worth of other people, from doctors to teachers to drug reps to receptionists, employed.

Posted by scott at 08:33 AM | Comments (3)
August 18, 2005

Posted by Ellen at 09:12 PM | Comments (8)
Strong O!

Posted by Ellen at 08:55 PM | Comments (1)
My Ted

Posted by Ellen at 06:29 PM | Comments (1)
Extreme Closeup!


Can you guess my new toy? Scott bought me a 105mm Micro lens for my camera.

Posted by Ellen at 05:42 PM | Comments (0)
And People Wonder Why He Is Called Mr. Sssips!

Posted by Ellen at 01:00 PM | Comments (0)
Where Ya Goin' Cornbread?


This is the snake equivalent to going on a walk.

Posted by Ellen at 12:52 PM | Comments (2)
Treasure Trove

Pat gets a golden no-prize for bringing us news of a treasure trove that's older than Troy's gold:

The golden ornaments, estimated to be between 4,100 and 4,200 years old, have been unearthed gradually during the past year from an ancient tomb near the central village of Dabene, about 75 miles east of the capital, Sofia, said Vasil Nikolov, an academic consultant on the excavations.

"This treasure is a bit older than Schliemann's finds in Troy, and contains much more golden ornaments," Nikolov said.

Indiana Jones would be proud...

Posted by scott at 09:13 AM | Comments (1)

Happy Birthday Ellen!

Since the day is stacked with typical "weekday off" errands, posting may be light.

Posted by scott at 08:09 AM | Comments (9)
August 17, 2005
Fence Jumping

Artistic Merit 6.0, Technical Merit 9.0!

A very kitty olympic No-Prize to Rich for bringing us this stellar performance!

Posted by Ellen at 07:04 PM | Comments (0)
You Go Girl

Don't mess with gramma:

Two thieves who tried to rob two elderly women in the Lithuanian city of Klaipeda, thinking they were easy prey, got more than they bargained for when the older of the two victims, aged 93, valiantly defended herself.
"I did what I could," Popova told Lithuanian daily Lietuvos Rytas.

'What she could' involved grabbing the thief -- who at 25 was almost one-quarter her age -- by the family jewels and squeezing as hard as she could.

"I pressed as hard as I could and he squealed like an animal," said Popova, who in her younger years worked as a washer-up in the canteen of a military hospital.

Crone claw apparently being more powerful than kung-fu grip.

Posted by scott at 02:37 PM | Comments (0)
It's Gothically Refreshing

I'd long since moved on to the "handing-out" part of Haloween when Goul-Aid came out, but I wonder how many of our younger peanut gallery members recall it?

Hmm? Olivia? Olivia's gramma got her an Elmo costume. Ellen showed me a picture of it this morning; it looks like everyone's favorite red monster is swallowing the child. Sorta fits right in with Ellen's snake obsession, no?

"Fine! See if I ever..." comment in 3... 2... 1...

Posted by scott at 01:43 PM | Comments (2)
Critter Conundrum

BBCnews is carrying this story on the discovery of a strange fossil critter that is proving rather resistant to classification into existing phyla. Called Vetustodermis planus, this 2-4 inch long beastie lived 525 million years ago, in the heart of the Cambrian period.

While currently classified as a mollusc, the creature really doesn't have the full set of tell-tales that would allow it to easily fit there. Readers of Jay Gould's Wonderful Life will be nodding their head, since one of WL's key premises was that the Cambrian period saw the rise and fall of several phyla that no longer exist. However, further research has cast severe doubt on this hypothesis, and most of the examples Gould used were later fit into existing phyla. Other biologists, of course, disagree.

Which means we've strayed into the esoterica of scientific politics, where giants stomp and roar at each other over things that make the rest of us go, "wha?" So let's just all sit back and wonder at the remains of a critter who lived at a time when complex life forms were the new "in" thing, and the only things living lapped at the shores of silent, desolate continents of sand and stone.

Posted by scott at 12:50 PM | Comments (0)
Hurray for Moderately Above Average!

So this means there's hope for all of us?:

Forget waxed chests and rock-hard abs. A new survey finds ladies like their men scruffy, a wee bit chubby - and definitely not a metrosexual.

Playgirl asked 2,000 of its readers what they find sexy in a man and the answers were surprising: 42% said they thought love handles were kind of sexy and 47% approved of chest hair.

Me, I'm suspicious. The very few times I've tried to nail down what women like about men the only really consistent thing they could agree on was that they liked men. Everything else was up for grabs. Hell some didn't even like men at all.

Posted by scott at 11:38 AM | Comments (0)
Paging Steve Irwin, White Courtesy Phone Please

Making the rounds: Research is showing crocodile blood has the potential to create powerful antibiotics and even antiviral medicines. Seems to be effective against the resistant strains of just about everything they've tested it against as well. Hey, when you're bashing around in the swamp, it's not like there's a croc ambulance waiting nearby with iodine and bandages!

Posted by scott at 10:23 AM | Comments (0)
Blame Game

Those of you who think it was the Bush administration who primarily dropped the ball in the lead-up to 9/11 may find this of interest:

A military intelligence team repeatedly contacted the F.B.I. in 2000 to warn about the existence of an American-based terrorist cell that included the ringleader of the Sept. 11 attacks, according to a veteran Army intelligence officer who said he had now decided to risk his career by discussing the information publicly. The officer, Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer, said military lawyers later blocked the team from sharing any of its information with the F.B.I.

Me, I think the whole thing was probably inevitable simply because we couldn't concieve of it and they could. There will be plenty of blame to be dished out by historians for decades to come.

But those out there who think that blame should suddenly start on January 20th, 2001 and be exclusively (or even primarily) placed on the shoulders of those who took office then need to take a long, slow look at their own biases.

Posted by scott at 09:33 AM | Comments (1)
When Child Stars Attack

No, really, when child stars attack:

A former child actor and his wife were ordered to stand trial on Tuesday for the murder of a wealthy California couple who, prosecutors say, were tied to the anchor of their yacht and thrown overboard alive, never to be seen again.

Orange County Superior Court Judge John Conley ordered 26-year-old Skylar Deleon, who once starred in the "Power Rangers" TV series, and his wife, 24-year-old Jennifer Henderson Deleon, to stand trial for the murders after a two-day preliminary hearing in Santa Ana, south of Los Angeles.

And we all thought Todd Bridges and Dana Plato were bad seeds...

Posted by scott at 08:15 AM | Comments (2)
August 16, 2005
Hamster's Last Dance

NSFW due to pop up ads!

Hamster Dance!

Posted by Ellen at 08:55 PM | Comments (0)
Speaking of Revenge

Just making some folks feel old (for me, saying something)...

Some time tonight, thirty-six years ago, Camille becomes more than just a girl's name.

Gah, who am I kidding... I'm still older... *cReAk*...

Posted by scott at 08:14 PM | Comments (1)
You Gotta be Kidding Me

Ron gets a... *gAk* ... Ron gets a no-prize for bringing us... this:

A Seattle man died after engaging in anal sex with a horse at a farm suspected of being a gathering place for people seeking to have sex with livestock, police said Friday.

Definitely some sort of lifetime achievement no-prize, in the category of "skeeve-ment", is deserved here.

Exactly how he stumbled across this one... no, no... NO!!! I *DO NOT* want to know!

Posted by scott at 07:59 PM | Comments (5)

Billy, Ellen's inveterate fisherman step-dad, better watch out... those fish are getting smart:

A fish caught in an east German lake near the Polish border not only got off the hook but also lured a 46-year-old fisherman to his death, police in the eastern town of Eisenhuettenstadt said on Tuesday.

Some day I need to get one of her family to write up the time Suzanne (Ellen's mom) caught a snake with one of Billy's prized rod-and-reel kits.

Posted by scott at 03:23 PM | Comments (0)
Well, Olivia Does that in her Diaper Already

Ron gets a mistranslated no-prize for bringing us a very distinctive Elmo.

Posted by scott at 02:39 PM | Comments (0)
Here Come the Games

Potential Xbox 360 purchasers should find this list of "top 10 Xbox 360 launch titles" interesting. No Halo 3, but it does include two other first-person shooters, one from a well-known Nintendo franchise. Something to think about, eh?

Posted by scott at 01:55 PM | Comments (0)
Give 'em a Hand

Fark linked up news that scientists have determined chimps tend to be left-handed. While seemingly the epitome of "don't you have a real job?" science, the discovery actually has implications in the evolutionary split between hominids and chimps, as well as the evolution of language.

Posted by scott at 08:12 AM | Comments (0)
August 15, 2005
Like a Bullet Through Butter

As if we didn't worry enough about big giant rocks falling from the sky, now we have teeny-tiny interstellar particles thwacking the Earth:

Earth is facing another threat from outer space. Scientists have come to the conclusion that two mysterious explosions in the 1990s were caused by bizarre cosmic missiles.

The two objects were picked up by earthquake detectors as they tore through Earth at up to 900,000 mph. According to scientists, the most plausible explanation is that they were "strangelets", clumps of matter that have so far defied detection but whose existence was posited 20 years ago.

As with all impacts, it's not just velocity, it's mass, and these things apparently don't have much. Well, compared to a lump of iron as big as Jamaica anyway.

Just when you thought the universe couldn't get any weirder...

Posted by scott at 03:42 PM | Comments (1)
You anti-socialist aggressor!

I'd known North Korean propaganda was almost screamingly funny since at least my college days (back when my brother was stationed in South Korea and I was keeping track of those things). However, I had no idea nobody'd bothered to make it all available on the Internet... until now:

Pyongyang's official Korean Central News Agency, or KCNA, is the only regular source of the views of the secretive government of Kim Jong-il available to diplomats, journalists and scholars.

But there was no way for them to search the archives of KCNA until Geoff Davis, fighting boredom during a rainy San Francisco spring, decided to hone his Web design skills on a topic he had followed in news reports on the North Korean nuclear crisis.

"Their propaganda is often unintentionally hilarious and I couldn't find an existing searchable database of the KCNA on the Web. Thus, NK News was born," Davis told Reuters.

NK News is indeed a remarkable trove of the very best from the very worst leftists left (as it were) in the world today. Strangely, I see some definite resemblances between these press releases and some of the more extreme writings of the peanut gallery. I'm just saying...

Soros et. al. only wish they were this funny. Too bad they do seem to take themselves this seriously.

Posted by scott at 02:48 PM | Comments (0)
Insert Hairy Palms Joke Here

Of course it would take a bunch of scientists to determine once and for all what women have known about men for centuries:

The new study by US psychologists found that people shown erotic or gory images frequently fail to process images they see immediately afterwards. And the researchers say some personality types appear to be affected more than others by the phenomenon, known as “emotion-induced blindness”.

Which of course gives technocrats and moralists a chance for drive-by-preaching:

The Brake spokeswoman says companies should think about the consequences of placing emotionally charged billboards at dangerous road junctions: “We should be concerned if drivers are experiencing split-second breaks in concentration, which could result in an accident or death on the roads.”

See! See! They know what is good for you! If you don't listen you'll get in a car accident!

So, umm... wear clean underwear... sort of thing...

Posted by scott at 01:53 PM | Comments (0)
Well, They do have Two Wheels

Another day, another "obsession" entry, this time showing off the weirdest looking bicycles I've ever seen. Since these look like CGI drawings, I'm going to file it under "believe it when I see it". The article is dated last November, you'd think by now someone else would've seen/ridden one. Considering the R&D costs, "buy it when I can afford it" will probably be quite a bit further down the line.

Posted by scott at 12:57 PM | Comments (2)
Texans: 1, Hippies: 0

The Post this morning carried a similar story:

A man fired a shotgun into the air as about 60 anti-war protesters held a religious service on the road to President Bush's ranch.

Sheriff's deputies and Secret Service agents in the area of the demonstration site Sunday rushed to the home of Larry Mattlage after the shots were fired but did not arrest him.

``I ain't threatening nobody, and I ain't pointing a gun at nobody,'' Mattlage said. ``This is Texas.''

I'm beginning to think mom's right... the White House press corps, never the most tolerant of groups, is well and truly pissed off at GW for dragging them out into the Middle of Nowhere Texas for his extended vacation. August is bad enough for political newsies, since everyone goes on vacation in the nation's captial around then (traffic is glorious right now). Instead of having nothing particular to report whilst in the middle of a comparatively urbane place with night clubs and a first-rate theater district, they've got nothing in particular to report on a ranch in the sticks of Texas. For five weeks.

So I guess, now that I think about it, when a crazy woman showed up and starting ranting about not paying her taxes and impeaching GW and pushing the Israelis out into the sea and how all she really wanted to do was give the president a good ear-boxing and then go home... it was as if all the press corps' irritations, anxieties, elitism, and grousing had precipitated magically into an unreasonable loon from California. This was way more interesting than the pool on how long it took Helen Thomas to shrink another two inches!

Even better, after attracting her own cotiere of sub-loons like a bug light in birkenstocks, she's even starting to piss off the locals. Considering that people move out to west Texas precisely to get away from everyone, having several dozen surly reporters with their stupendous amounts of gear suddenly followed up by several dozen ill-prepared do-gooders... well, it's enough to make a rancher just fire off his shotgun a few times, let them all know who's really boss.

I'm not, however, going to wish the press would hurry up and find something interesting on which to report. The last time I did that was over the frenzy growing up about Chandra Levy in August of 2001. They'll find traction on something else eventually. In the meantime, pass the popcorn...

Posted by scott at 12:06 PM | Comments (11)
One Day, Everything will Come in Cones

Ok, as far as comfort food goes, for me there's nothing like pizza. But in a cone? Apparently already successful in other parts of the world, this... novelty... will make its premier in California very soon.

Posted by scott at 10:04 AM | Comments (0)
Ivan Ivan Flying High

While this 6-minute look at Russia's latest, the SU-35, gets a little repetitive in places, it's still a nifty look at what the latest generation of jet fighters are capable of doing. This thing is big, at least as big as an F-14, and obviously quite powerful and capable.

Posted by scott at 09:16 AM | Comments (0)
Battle Find

Fark linked up news of the possible discovery of a 2200 year-old fleet of warships:

After two years of underwater searches around the [Aegates] islands, which lie west of Sicily in the Mediterranean Sea, experts last year found a bronze helmet and some amphorae from about 241 BC, the date of the decisive Roman victory over the Carthage fleet.

At around the same time, a team of Italy's famed art police busted a collector who had a ship's bronze battering ram from the same period on display in his home. It turned out the relic had been illegally looted using nets from the same area.

The battle of the Aegates Islans is where Rome finally crushed the Carthaginian navy, representing a turning point in the course of western history.

Right now the biggest problem is the potential site lies under some 200 feet of water. While the article says this makes it "impossible" to dive, this is not really the case. Expert Atlantic "treasure hunter" divers regularly go to these depths. It's not fun (in fact it's damned dangerous), but it is possible.

When it comes down to it though, I think I'd rather stay in the boat too.

Posted by scott at 08:21 AM | Comments (3)
August 14, 2005
I Do Not Miss These Critters!

Check it out!

Posted by scott at 04:56 PM | Comments (0)
The Sound of One Loon Mourning

Those out there who hold Cindy Sheehan up as some sort of example, well, if this isn't retracted or clarified soon...:

Anti-war protestor Cindy Sheehan, whose soldier son Casey was killed in Iraq, is calling for Bush's "impeachment," and for Israel to get out of Palestine!

"You get America out of Iraq and Israel out of Palestine and you'll stop the terrorism," Sheehan declares.

If it does prove to be true, I'll be disappointed but not particularly surprised. She wouldn't be the first person to use the death of their own child to score political points.

Hmm? Insensitive? What part of "cats, anger, and science fiction" didn't you understand?

Since so much of the MSM has latched on to this story in the hope it'll find traction against the current administration, I don't expect any real reporting of these quotes. If they can't refute it, the MSM will simply engineer a sudden disappearance of Ms. Sheehan from the stage as the timer on her 15 minutes ring up. To the likes of Maureen Dowd, retractions are things that happen to other people.

But then, that's exactly what you expected me to say, hmm? Being right can be funny that way, after all.

Posted by scott at 04:31 PM | Comments (16)
Claim Jumper

"If I get it dirty, that means it's mine, right?"

Posted by scott at 02:45 PM | Comments (0)
Want Some?

While it looks like Olivia is offering to share, what tends to happen is she snatches it back as soon as you reach for it, takes a big bite, and then giggles. Good thing she's cute.

Posted by scott at 02:43 PM | Comments (1)
August 13, 2005

Posted by Ellen at 07:42 PM | Comments (0)

Posted by Ellen at 07:05 PM | Comments (0)
Stick That Tongue Back In!

Posted by Ellen at 05:33 PM | Comments (0)
What The!?!

Now I won't be able to sleep tonight.

Posted by Ellen at 04:05 PM | Comments (7)
I'm Ready for My Closeup II

"Is that fresh watermelon over there?!? Oh... watermelon..."

Posted by scott at 12:29 PM | Comments (1)
When Golf Courses Attack

No, really... when golf courses attack:

A nearly 40-foot tree limb fell next to the fourth green at the PGA Championship on Friday, injuring a spectator and two television employees.

The limb sheered off a red oak next to the green and a television tower at Baltusrol Golf Club, and fell approximately 60 feet.

A spectator and two employees of Turner/CBS Sports were injured, the PGA of America said in a statement. The names of the injured were not immediately released.

Pat gets a no-prize that talks softly into a microphone for no reason for bringing us this bit of golf "excitement". She gets a special bonus for this bon mot: "At least there were no boy scouts around the tree."


Posted by scott at 11:36 AM | Comments (0)
More Hose Fun

A hose, an Elmo bathing suit, and pink jellies. What more does a girl need?

Posted by scott at 10:59 AM | Comments (3)
Bike Porn

For general reference: a nice bike saddle (seat) for "normal" people will run you ~ $30. A nice bike saddle for loons like me would be ~ $100. Then, then you have something like this. Keep in mind the cushions are optional. Otherwise you're sitting on bare carbon fiber.

For $360... well, let's just say it better do a whole lot more for me than just hold my butt off the back wheel.

Posted by scott at 10:12 AM | Comments (5)
My Hose!

I'm really just waiting for him to get closer. Closer little boy, closer...

Posted by scott at 08:46 AM | Comments (0)
Little Frog

A little big for a lilly pad, but you get the idea.

Posted by scott at 08:43 AM | Comments (0)

Shortly after, Olivia spun the propeller off. Oops.

Posted by scott at 08:41 AM | Comments (1)
August 12, 2005
Drinking Red

Posted by Ellen at 07:32 PM | Comments (1)
Water Spray

Posted by Ellen at 07:28 PM | Comments (1)
Off Center

Posted by Ellen at 07:20 PM | Comments (0)
Speaking of Fat...

Pat gets a very tasty no-prize for bringing us news of a most unlikely come back:

Now trans fats are considered the devil, and vegetable shortening is worse than butter could ever dream of being. After prodding by nutrition advocates, the Food and Drug Administration has taken the stand that there is no healthy level of trans fat in the diet, and as of January will require manufacturers to state the presence of trans fats on every food label. Now comes the call from Dr. Thomas R. Frieden, New York's health commissioner, for restaurants to "voluntarily make an oil change and remove artificial trans fat from their kitchens." What are beleaguered manufacturers and cooks to do? The loss of trans fats makes things tough. It makes pastry tough too.

I have a suggestion for those Old World cooks who are wrestling with New World advice: take another look at the fat profile of lard.

MMmm... pastries...

Posted by scott at 04:07 PM | Comments (1)

Just goes to show it's not where you eat, it's what you put in your mouth:

Inspired by the documentary "Super Size Me," Merab Morgan decided to give a fast-food-only diet a try. The construction worker and mother of two ate only at McDonald's for 90 days and dropped 37 pounds in the process.

It was a vastly different outcome than what happened in the documentary to filmmaker Morgan Spurlock, who put on 30 pounds and saw his health deteriorate after 5,000 calories a day of nothing but McDonald's food.

I always thought Spurlock's idea was clever, but not particuarly scientific or even conclusive. If you could eat 5,000 calories of tofu, lettuce, and brussel sprouts a day I'm quite sure there would be equally significant health issues.

Posted by scott at 03:37 PM | Comments (0)

After two delays, the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter is finally on its way to the red planet. Arrival is scheduled for early 2006 (as I recall). Let's hope for a successful arrival and many "kewl" pictures.

Posted by scott at 02:50 PM | Comments (0)
I'll Never Tell


Ellen's in a bit of a quandry since I've acquired my second mechanical mistress. At least she hasn't threatened to cut this one in half with a hacksaw. Yet.

Posted by scott at 01:57 PM | Comments (2)
Cranky is as Cranky Does

Olivia has loved "eh-fants" ever since she went to the National Zoo. However, I don't think she'll be seeing this one any time soon:

Elephant experts are getting ready to send an ill-tempered 38-year-old pachyderm to Tacoma, where she'll join two other females not known for their social graces.

The move is expected to ease tensions at Seattle's Woodland Park Zoo, where Bamboo's intolerance for younger elephants and their calves has forced handlers to separate the herd at times.

I wonder if they offer a similar service for cranky retired nurses? I'm just asking...

Posted by scott at 12:51 PM | Comments (0)
A Spritz a Day Keeps the Alzheimer's Away

New Scientist is reporting on a promising new development in Alzheimer's treatment that involves, of all things, nose sprays to induce controlled brain inflamation. Sounds pretty scary to me, but not as scary as dying very slowly from brain rot.

Posted by scott at 09:28 AM | Comments (2)
Speaking of Hoaxes

Not content with Mr. Abominable, the Himalayas now seem to have new residents:

On June 22, 2004, the photographer went to Tibet’s Amdo region to attend the Qinghai-to-Xizang Railroad laying ceremony, and then took a plane from Lhasa to fly back inland. When flying over the Himalaya’s, he accidentally caught these two "dragons" in a picture that he took. He called these two objects "the Tibet dragons."

The picture is very small on the website, but to me it looks like it might be some sort of glacier oddity. Assuming, of course, it exists at all.

Posted by scott at 08:22 AM | Comments (0)
August 11, 2005
I Love the Smell of Hoaxes in the Afternoon. Smells like... Idiots...

Of course they lost it:

Tsunami Books has joined in a real-life hunt for a missing 4-inch tooth that some experts believe may offer the first DNA evidence that proves the existence of a large predatory creature in Scotland's fabled Loch Ness. Tsunami is the independent publisher that made its debut this summer with N.Y. Times best-selling author Steve Alten's The LOCH, a modern-day thriller about the hunt for the Loch Ness Monster. The tooth in question was discovered by two American college students on Spring Break, pried loose from a mutilated deer carcass along a Loch Ness deepwater shoreline known to local fishermen as a "kill zone." The tooth was later confiscated by a water bailiff, along with some of the students' film. One video tape was salvaged...

Look folks, from everything I've read biologists seem to think a species needs between 200 and 2,000 members to stay viable. Yes, I think it's very possible for one creature, even one very very large creature, to hide out in Loch Ness. It's a big place, after all. But 200? Without a skeleton, corpse, or even clear sequence of film ever being seen?

It's a hoax, people... it always has been.

Posted by scott at 03:47 PM | Comments (0)
People are Just Dying to Get in

Gravesite photographers in the audience (you know who you are) should find Grave Addiction of interest:

This site contains photos I have taken at all of the cemeteries, haunted places, abandoned buildings, and historical parks that I have visited. I'm always exploring new places, so the site is updated with new photos and stories on a regular basis (I attempt to make an update at least once a week).

Includes links to the "cemetery photography webring", which makes it official... there is now a webring for everything.

Posted by scott at 02:26 PM | Comments (0)
He's Ba-ack!

The Religious Policeman, who is actually neither but instead a Saudi national with an opinion and a blog, has moved to the UK and is now posting up a storm:

One of [the Wahhabist's] tenets is that there should be no memorial to any person, living or dead, as this could lead to idolatry. Hence King Fahd's unmarked grave (although who would want to idolize him, apart from Johnnie Walker shareholders, I cannot imagine) and the criminal destruction of the Buddha statues in Afghanistan. And the problem with Mecca in their eyes is that, being the birthplace of Mohammad and numerous of his relatives and followers, it is riddled with historic buildings and places. "No problem", say the Wahabbis, "we'll bulldoze the lot (and in their place we can build another multi-story hotel to cater for some of the millions of pilgrims annually. We may be narrow-minded fanatics, but we're not stupid)".

Highly recommended!

Posted by scott at 01:36 PM | Comments (0)
Two Bicyclers Walk into a Bar...

Well, not exactly, but this "10-speed" joke still gave me a chuckle. Everyone needs a smile now and then, eh?

No, I've never been towed by a car. My parents would've skinned me alive if I'd tried it as a kid. Ellen will do the honors if I try it now.

Posted by scott at 12:40 PM | Comments (1)

The triple-date, wherein one person tries to juggle three dates without any of them knowing about each other, is a staple of US sitcoms. In reality, it doesn't work that well, especially if you're going to the hospital:

Some people bring flowers, others bring balloons. When Melvyn Reed's three wives showed up to visit him at the hospital, they brought an unexpected curtain call to his years as a double bigamist.

British police confirmed that after Melvyn Reed woke from his triple bypass heart operation earlier this year, his complicated marital affairs took a turn for a worse. All three of his spouses had turned up at the same time, despite his efforts to stagger their visits.

I got enough trouble with just one. Can't imagine why anyone would want to marry three.

Posted by scott at 11:56 AM | Comments (0)
Here They go Again

Is Canada less a country than it is a bunch of squabbling provinces flying in formation? Sometimes it sure does seem that way:

Canada is going through another spate of separation anxiety. Usually it’s the product of Quebec’s Parti Quebecois' cultural and political demands, but according to CNEWS, a chunk of Western Canadians have had it with the Maple Leaf. Disgust with the ruling Liberal Party's "Adscam" money-laundering scandal, elements of which reach to Canadian Prime Minister and Liberal Party leader Paul Martin, has spurred some of the grumbling.

The last time I heard these sorts of grumblings around here (when people though California should be split into two to four states, about twenty years ago) the conventional wisdom was it would take something like three or four constitutional amendments to even make it possible. The Civil War placed a padlock on our states... they're not going anywhere.

It would appear Canada does not have this "problem", hence they seem to regularly and seriously discuss the hand-grenading of their own country.

Posted by scott at 09:48 AM | Comments (13)
A Moon's Moon's Moon?

Scientific American is reporting on the first-ever discovery of an asteroid with two moons. Double-asteroid systems (one orbits the other) have been known for some time, and more complex arrangements have been predicted but not seen until now. Why doesn't this make it a planet? Well, by using the orbits of the "moons", scientists have determined the main asteroid is only a bit more dense than water. In other words, it's probably just a conglomeration of smaller rocks instead of a single solid body.

Posted by scott at 08:58 AM | Comments (0)

Fark linked up exactly what happens when a truck carrying 35,000 pounds of explosives rolls over and catches on fire:

The explosion left a crater in the two-lane highway estimated to be between 60 feet and 80 feet wide and between 20 feet and 35 feet deep, Utah Department of Transportation spokesman Tom Hudachko said.

“The entire road is gone, shoulder to shoulder, there's no asphalt left,” he said.

Didn't get the "cool" tag because, although nobody was killed, the driver seems to have gotten himself messed up pretty good.

I'm just glad it didn't happen around here. People will slow down and look at anything on the highways in this area... car crashes, police, even mowers on the other side of the highway. There would've been some damned dead rubberneckers if this thing had rolled over on I-66 or the Beltway.

Considering how irritating it is to get stuck in a ten mile backup because of the gawkers, I'm conflicted as to whether or not that would necessarily be a bad thing.

Posted by scott at 08:08 AM | Comments (3)
August 10, 2005
Pina Colada Cornsnake

Posted by Ellen at 08:20 PM | Comments (2)
Lady Godiva in a Diaper


Yes! She is finally playing with her rocking horse. It happened today while watching a show on cowboys. Go figure.

Posted by Ellen at 08:00 PM | Comments (2)
Angry Crayons

I've seen some strange children's art shows, but this thing takes the cake. The contrast to our current eggshell walk when it comes to Islam is instructive.

Posted by scott at 02:13 PM | Comments (0)
Speaking of the MRO...

No launch for today, pushed back until tomorrow. The BBCnews article does, however, provide a nice summary of what the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter is all about.

Posted by scott at 01:17 PM | Comments (0)
Paging Debbie Harry, White Courtesy Phone Please

Well, I think we've now fairly established people will sell anything:

This may seem a little weird, but everyone keeps telling me I'm a good talker and that I should channel that energy somewhere. I have to admit that I like talking, but I am also a good listener. There's nothing like having a good conversation with someone. I like talking to new people but with the way things are today I couldn't just call up people at random so I thought I would try eBay.

Remains to be seen if people will buy anything.

Posted by scott at 11:42 AM | Comments (0)
Logos, get Yer Logos Here

Why wrastle with the DMV and their dinky character limits when you can create your very own auto logos?

No, Ellen, you can't have CORNBREAD.

Posted by scott at 10:36 AM | Comments (0)
I Wonder if they Play the Kitty Cat Dance Song?

Good thing Ellen's all tied up with Belly Dance classes. Otherwise I'd probably end up getting dragged to this.

Posted by scott at 09:25 AM | Comments (0)
Rover Update

The Mars rovers continue to chug along. While I'm sure exciting for geologists, the current discoveries do seem a bit esoteric, at least to me. The article also includes a note that the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter is scheduled for lift off today, and due to arrive in November 2006.

Posted by scott at 08:23 AM | Comments (0)
August 09, 2005
Bzzz...Part Deux!

Posted by Ellen at 09:15 PM | Comments (0)
Monarch Part Deux

Posted by Ellen at 08:55 PM | Comments (0)


Shhh!! You are not supposed to know such an evil little creature comes out to play at night!

Posted by Ellen at 08:36 PM | Comments (0)

If you have not seen it yet. I suggest you watch an episode.

Posted by Ellen at 08:18 PM | Comments (0)
Yeah, that's the Ticket

Somehow I don't think his wife was very amused:

A Macedonian man left his wife at an Italian service station and only realized he had driven off without her six hours later, news agency Ansa said Monday.
The husband told police he hadn't missed his wife because she always sat in the back of the car with their daughter.

I'm not sure I could buy enough trouble to cover this one.

Posted by scott at 03:16 PM | Comments (0)

James H. gets a no-prize with a funny bulge in its jacket for bringing us news of the latest goings-on in the Japanese ganster world:

Yoshinori Watanabe shocked Japan's underworld late July with the announcement that he was standing down as the kumicho, or chairman, of the Yamaguchi-gumi, Japan's biggest yakuza syndicate, according to Asahi Geino (8/11).

Even more surprising than Watanabe's retirement after 16 years at the helm was the announcement of his replacement - Shinobu Tsukasa, a 63-year-old who was only appointed as the gang's wakagashira, or number 2 man, just two months ago following an eight-year hiatus when nobody had occupied the position.

I've read in numerous places over the years that the difference between Yakuza organizations and the more garden-variety Zaibatsu was more nuanced than most folks in the west realized. While still just as destructive and parasitic as our own mafia, it would seem (even from this report) they are far more corporate, organized, and accepted in Japan.

In other words, they're Japanese mafia, with all the whip-snap weirdness that implies.

Posted by scott at 02:16 PM | Comments (1)
Like a Neon Sign, for Skeeters

New Scientist is carrying this report on a new discovery about how malaria spreads. It would seem the microbes attract mosquitos when they are ready to spread:

“Mosquitoes aren’t just a syringe, sucking up the parasite and injecting it into people at random, as scientists previously thought,” says Jacob Koella from the University of Pierre and Marie Curie in Paris, who carried out the study in Kenya.

Koella surrounded a chamber of uninfected Anopheles mosquitoes, which can carry the malarial parasite, with three tents. In one tent he placed a child infected with the transmissible stage of malaria, in the next a child in the non-transmissible stage, and in the third an uninfected child.

He then wafted the odours from the children towards the mosquitoes using a fan. Twice as many mosquitoes targeted the child in the transmissible stage of malaria than each of the other two.

A rather harrowing way of gathering data, but you gotta learn somehow. It's hoped the finding will provide insight into new ways of combating the disease, which remains one of the deadliest killers on the planet.

Posted by scott at 01:04 PM | Comments (0)
Paging Billy Joel, White Courtesy Phone Please

Sounds like a "TV Movie of the Week" to me:

Doctors fear that the identity of a mysterious mute pianist found wandering on an English beach in April might never be known, a British newspaper reported on Monday.
The so-called "Piano Man", a tall blonde-haired stranger thought to be in his 20s or early 30s, was found on April 7 on the beach at Minster, on the south coast of England, soaking wet but fully dressed in a black suit and tie, with no clue as to his origin.

He has not spoken since and has not responded to written appeals while being kept under observation in the psychiatric hospital.
When given a pencil and paper by hospital staff, he drew a grand piano -- and then, when shown a piano at the hospital chapel, he impressed his carers with a remarkable virtuoso performance.

I mean, really...

Posted by scott at 11:38 AM | Comments (0)
Church Find

Pat gets a very ascetic no-prize for bringing us news of the discovery of an ancient Christian church:

The remains of an ancient church and monks' retreats that date back to the early years of monasticism have been discovered in a Coptic Christian monastery in the Red Sea area, officials said Saturday.
[St. Anthony's] monastery, which is in the desert west of the Red Sea, was founded by disciples of St. Anthony, a hermit who died in A.D. 356 and is regarded as the father of Christian monasticism. A colony of hermits settled around him and he led them in a community.

I actually thought Anthony was earlier than that, but I probably just wasn't paying attention in my antiquities class that day. As a triangulation, the forth century saw the legalization of Christianity, the re-location of the Roman imperial capital from Rome to Constantinople, the infamous "sack of Rome" (the first time the ancient city had fallen in more than seven centuries) and the eventual division of the empire itself into East and West.

It was a time of a brief restoration followed by steep declines in the stability and viability of the empire. It also represented a watershed moment in Western history as an entire people gradually moved from their ancient traditional gods to the great mystery religions of Christianity, Mithraism, and the cult of Isis. It was, in short, the century that saw the flame of the ancients begin to gutter and die, while the briefest flickers of a new age (medievalism) were first seen.

Posted by scott at 10:23 AM | Comments (0)
Welcome Home!

Welcome home Discovery! Here's to hoping the fleet's remaining flights are more routine than this one, but no less successful!

Posted by scott at 09:22 AM | Comments (0)
August 08, 2005
For My Family in Vegas Right Now

I would just sit in the casinos just to watch people like this.

Posted by Ellen at 06:34 PM | Comments (4)
Dances with Golf Clubs

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

Posted by Ellen at 06:18 PM | Comments (0)
Pink with Accent

Posted by Ellen at 06:14 PM | Comments (0)
For it is the Doom of Men...

Joichi Ito (via Instapundit) writes what the atomic bomb anniversaries mean to his generation of Japanese:

WHEN people ask my thoughts on the bombing of Nagasaki and Hiroshima, I always feel uncomfortable. As a Japanese, I know how I'm supposed to respond: with sadness, regret and perhaps anger. But invariably I try to dodge the issue, or to reply as neutrally as possible.

That's because, at bottom, the bombings don't really matter to me or, for that matter, to most Japanese of my generation. My peers and I have little hatred or blame in our hearts for the Americans; the horrors of that war and its nuclear evils feel distant, even foreign. Instead, the bombs are simply the flashpoint marking the discontinuity that characterized the cultural world we grew up in.

Quite an unsual perspective, considering that here in the west we've been lead to believe that the atomic bombings represent a kind of "cultural wound", still real and present to all Japanese today.

Posted by scott at 03:56 PM | Comments (2)
The One that Didn't Get Away

Today's garganto-catfish catch is brought to you by Barcelona, Spain. Includes this bon-mot:

After weighing the fish and burping her to get rid of the air in her stomach, she was released.

So exactly how do you... oh nevermind.

Posted by scott at 03:08 PM | Comments (0)
More Shuttle Replacement News

While this SF Chronicle report doesn't add much to articles already linked here last week, it does include pictures of Lockheed Martin's design proposal for the CLEV system. Aviation Week featured the same illustrations a few months ago, but they weren't this clear. While the article itself talks about parachute recovery, it seems to me pretty obvious the LockMart design is meant to glide back home. When all you're wanting to do is get people home, the glider can be made a whole lot smaller.

Posted by scott at 02:07 PM | Comments (9)
It's My Party and I'll Drink if I Want to

Danged local gummint:

Keep the beer pong and games of quarters inside.

In the ongoing tussle between summer renters and year-round residents of this seaside community, the borough council has banned outdoor games involving alcohol.

And we were so looking forward to playing beer pong wherever Ron and Amber finally settle.

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

One of the more startling recent discoveries about Earth's history is that some 2.3 billion years ago the entire planet was covered in ice, more than a mile thick at the equator. While the discovery has not been (to my knowledge) disputed, nobody could figure out why. Now, a group of California Institute of Technology students and scientists think they've found the reason:

Several graduate students, along with supervising professor Joe Kirschvink, have released a paper presenting their explanation of what caused "Snowball Earth," a periodic deep freeze of Earth's atmosphere that has been theorized for years. The Caltech team argues that 2.3 billion years ago, cyanobacteria, or blue-green algae, gained the ability to break down water, which in turn released a flood of oxygen into the atmosphere.

That oxygen reacted with the atmospheric methane, which insulated the Earth at the time, and broke it down. While the oxygen-methane reaction created the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide, the protective nature of the barrier cracked.

As always, the findings are already being debated, but it's good to see new discoveries and theories being made about one of the most curious episodes in our planet's history.

Posted by scott at 12:29 PM | Comments (0)
Say "Hi Mom!"

Ron gets a no-prize that will wave at a camera for bringing us the latest in "stoopid criminal" stories:

Viewers of a Fort Smith auction show helped stop an attempted robbery unfolding on live television. Two men attempted to rob 'Shopping Mania' as it was being broadcast, and people watching the show took action and called 9-1-1. Law enforcement says this is one of the more unusual cases they've seen, because you could see what was taking place, live.

And yes, that's Fort Smith AR. Color me stunned that there's anything with the word "auction" attached to it that my mom doesn't know about. She's really starting to slow down now!

Posted by scott at 11:38 AM | Comments (1)
Tank Time

Pat gets a fishy no-prize for bringing us news of a spectacular new tourist attraction opening in Atlanta GA:

The Georgia Aquarium, as it will be called, is scheduled to open in November. It will have five million gallons of water and more than 100,000 fish. It will have giant groupers, octopuses and two white beluga whales. The star attraction will be two whale sharks, the world's biggest fish, which can exceed 40 feet in length and, Mr. Marcus said, will be on display for the first time outside of Asia. The aquarium will even have a celebrity caterer, Wolfgang Puck.

The thing is pitched as an effort to "revitalize" downtown Atlanta, which people have been trying and failing to do since the early 60s. Who knows, this time it just might work.

Posted by scott at 09:17 AM | Comments (1)
Not So Itsy-Bitsy

Nice to know I'm not the only one with a spider "problem":

I stood there, trying to regulate my heartrate. It's not that I'm particularly afraid of spiders, even the giant, economy-sized spider that spun its giant, economy-sized web across my front door. It's just that usually, when I open my front door, I rather don't expect to be trapped inside by a giant spiderweb. No, I'd have to say that's definitely not one of the things I think of when I open the front door. "Do you have your keys?" is something I think about. "Did you turn out the lights?" and "Did you remember to feed the cats?" and "Do I really have to go to work today?" are all legitimate, front-door-type things that I—and many people, I'm sure—think about on a regular basis. "Is there going to be a giant spiderweb across the top half of the doorway?" is not even remotely in my imagination; no more than it was for Frodo and Sam as they ascended the steps of Cirith Ungol. And I didn't even have Gollum to guide me into danger.

Years ago in Arkansas I made a habit of pulling the top on my old convertible up but not latching it, and leaving the windows down. From August to October this actually works, as it only rains once or twice a month then.

As I sat down in the car to go to work one bright August morning, I turned to put the key in the ignition and was confronted with an absolutely classic spider's web that attached at every point on the front of the car. Windshield, top, steering wheel, dash, even a few of the instruments, were all used as anchorpoints. It looked like something out of an art book, and in the precise center was the owner. Shiny, fat, with a kind of caramel color, it looked for all the world like the ruler of its tiny rusted universe.

I tore the front off an old notebook and did a "scoop-and-shoot" move that flung it completely across the parking lot, where I presume it scurried away to safety. The rest of the web disintegrated when I pulled the top back. To this day I'm a little sadden I had to do that. It was probably the most perfect web I'd ever seen in person.

And then there was this.

Posted by scott at 08:32 AM | Comments (1)
Peter Jennings dies of lung cancer

Nearly four months to the day since he announced in a hoarse voice on his evening newscast that he had been diagnosed with lung cancer, longtime ABC "World News Tonight" anchor Peter Jennings died Sunday, according to the ABC News network. He was 67.

Read entire article here.

Posted by Ellen at 06:32 AM | Comments (0)
August 07, 2005

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

Posted by Ellen at 07:52 PM | Comments (0)
Oliva and Aunt Nina

Posted by Ellen at 07:35 PM | Comments (2)
Watermelon Girls


Olivia and her cousin Rebecca eating homegrown melon.

Posted by Ellen at 07:29 PM | Comments (1)
Oh my...


Oh dear...

Posted by Ellen at 07:20 PM | Comments (4)
August 06, 2005
What the?!? II

Since it's now official, I can tell all... Ellen and Olivia went up to suprise Grammy (aka "tha Queen Muthah") at their family reunion. I was left with the classic "honeydo" list, which included:

  • Change brake pads (I don' wanna be tol' by th'deala'ship my brakes'is messed up again.")
  • Get new shoes ("Ya shoes'is disgusting!!!")
  • Get a haircut ("Ya hey'ah is woise!")
  • Get a new beard trimmer ("You come at me again wi' dat nest ya dead")
  • Pill the cats ("If any'a my catsis sick when I get back, ya dead!")
  • Do the laundry ("An' i'wouldbe awful nice if youse was ta do the loowandree")
  • Clean the house ("th'house could youse some pickin'up too")
  • And, you know, if I feel like it, go on a bike ride or two ("Ya should be able'ta go o-wan a nice lo-wong bike ride while wiya'gone... afta ya done ya list.")

Well, the list is already done has just one or two items checked so far*, so I might be able to do a metric century tomorrow. We'll see...

* What? You think I've been married this long and haven't learned "victim of your own success"? You have any idea how long the next list might be?!?

Posted by scott at 04:07 PM | Comments (2)
August 05, 2005
My Vulva Wears a Fur Coat...NOT!

You have got to watch this video!

Brought to you by Planned Parenthood.

Posted by Ellen at 05:35 PM | Comments (2)
Just When You Thought Musicians Couldn't Get any Dumber

8-6-7-5-3-0-9 got nothing on this:

Chopped and screwed rapper Mike Jones, who created a marketing campaign around his telephone number, has been hit with a whopping $250,000 phone bill from Sprint PCS.

What started off as a clever promotional tool to help fans keep in touch with him has turned into a telephone nightmare for the Houston rapper.

No more bling for you!

Posted by scott at 02:53 PM | Comments (4)
Best. Smiley. Icon. Evah

Browsing around I found what must be the smiley icon for this website:


So much weirdness... so little time...

Posted by scott at 01:46 PM | Comments (2)
Maybe This Should be "Sniff Me a River"?

Some Italian scientists got the novel idea of testing the river Po for cocaine residue as a method of determining elicit drug use. Boy, were they surprised at what they found:

The equivalent of about 4 kilograms of cocaine flowed in the river each day, say the researchers from Mario Negri Institute for Pharmacological Research in Milan, and the University of Insubria in Varese.

The analysis indicates that at least 40,000 packets of the drug are snorted each day – 80 times more than the official estimate of just 15,000 doses taken per month by people living in the area. If the study’s estimates are true, a staggering $150 million in street value of cocaine is dealt each year in the valley, say the researchers.

The mind boggles...

Posted by scott at 01:01 PM | Comments (0)
Yet Another Mother of the Year

Smoke 'em if ya got 'em:

Calling the crime ‘‘repugnant,'' a federal judge Wednesday sentenced a former Gardiner woman to five years in prison for encouraging her toddler daughter to smoke marijuana.
A key prosecution witness was Brandi Nichols, an admitted drug user who turned Durham in after taking photographs of her holding a water pipe while her 18-month-old daughter put her mouth over the top. The water pipe, called a bong, allows smoke to be drawn through water into a glass tube and inhaled.

Now, I've gone on record before stating I think Marijuana is no worse for you than cigarettes, which is why I think it should be legalized. That said, I think it's just as stupid and probably not much less dangerous to give your toddler a cigarette. Five years seems to me a pretty intense sentence for something that caused no lasting harm to the child, then again if someone is this stupid I'm pretty sure they have no business with kids anyway.

Oh, and kudos to the Billings Gazette for the "so-hayseed-they-think-Cheech-and-Chong-is-a-burrito" description and explanation of a bong.

Posted by scott at 12:00 PM | Comments (1)
Hominid Steps

The Laetoli footprints, for the past forty years an icon of humanity's evolution, are back in the news. After experiments and fossil reconstructions, two scientists are calling into doubt the conclusion that these footprints were made by Australopithecus afarensis, the hominid species to which the famous "Lucy" fossil belongs. Just who might have made them instead they leave an open question.

Posted by scott at 10:02 AM | Comments (0)

From their looks of concern as I leave and gasps of horror at my road stories, I'm pretty sure this is what my mom and my wife think I do when I go on street rides. I only wish I was that skilled at handling a bike and that crazy about taking risks. As it is, about the most exciting thing I do around vehicles is pass a line of them waiting on a stoplight.

Then again, if you want to get around Manahattan on a bike with any speed, it would appear you pretty much have to do this. Definitely time to get a bike rack for our next trip "up north".

Posted by scott at 09:00 AM | Comments (1)
Well Duh...

See, we knew all those Democratic Underground loons were a bunch of blowhard wusses:

In the days after President Bush won a second term, the number of U.S. citizens visiting Canada's main immigration Web site shot up sixfold, prompting speculation that unhappy Democrats would flock north.

But official statistics show the number of Americans actually applying to live permanently in Canada fell in the six months after the election.

Still waiting for the predicted Republican neo-con death squads to make their appearance as well. Whee!!!

Posted by scott at 08:06 AM | Comments (1)
August 04, 2005
Kitty Ninja Foo!


Just click the link!

Posted by Ellen at 08:41 PM | Comments (0)
Well, it Worked for Top Gun

Pat gets a very brainy no-prize for bringing us news of that most unlikely of government entities... a cheap Pentagon project:

At a cost of roughly $25,000 in Pentagon research grants, the American Film Institute is cramming this eclectic group of midcareer researchers, engineers, chemists and physicists full of pointers on how to find their way in a world that can be a lot lonelier than the loneliest laboratory: the wilderness of story arcs, plot points, pitching and the special circle of hell better known as development.
Exactly how the national defense could be bolstered by setting a few more people loose in Los Angeles with screenplays to peddle may be a bit of a brainteaser. But officials at the Air Force Office of Scientific Research spell out a straightforward syllogism:

Fewer and fewer students are pursuing science and engineering. While immigrants are taking up the slack in many areas, defense laboratories and industries generally require American citizenship or permanent residency. So a crisis is looming, unless careers in science and engineering suddenly become hugely popular, said Robert J. Barker, an Air Force program manager who approved the grant. And what better way to get a lot of young people interested in science than by producing movies and television shows that depict scientists in flattering ways?

Of course, science fiction writers have been working with Hollywood for nearly as long as both have existed, with what could only charitably be called "spotty" success (at least as far as accuracy is concerned). But who knows? Certainly they couldn't come up with anything worse than Battlefield Earth.

Could they?

Posted by scott at 03:27 PM | Comments (3)
Intergalactic Hide and Seek

Scientists have for years been using an averaging technique to figure out how many Quasars, supermassive objects as big as galaxies but thousands of times brighter, are actually out there in the universe. The problem was that when they actually got around to counting these objects, they came up far short. Now a new orbital observatory seems to be finding where the rest of them are hiding:

Most of the biggest black holes in the universe have been eating cosmic meals behind closed doors - until now.

With its sharp infrared eyes, NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope (SST) peered through walls of galactic dust to uncover what may be the long-sought missing population of hungry black holes known as quasars.

Posted by scott at 02:42 PM | Comments (0)
These'll go Great with Ellen's Red Dress

Sunglasses specifically designed for funerals, anyone? I always thought Ray Bans were the "in" thing, but maybe I watch too many gangster movies.

Posted by scott at 01:24 PM | Comments (0)
Why... ?

Why do beans cause gas? Why do men have nipples? Why do teeth chatter when you're cold? All these and many more are questions answered in an upcoming book:

New York physician Billy Goldberg, pestered by unusual questions at cocktail parties and other social gatherings over the years, puts the public's mind at ease in his book "Why Do Men Have Nipples?" which hits the book stores on Tuesday.

"It's really remarkable how often you get accosted," said Goldberg, 39. "There are the medical questions from family and friends, and then there are the drunk and outrageous questions where somebody wants to drop their pants and show you a rash or something."

The book, subtitled, "Hundreds of Questions You'd Only Ask a Doctor After Your Third Martini," (Three Rivers Press), is co-authored by humorist Mark Leyner.

In all, sounds like a good training aid for Olivia's upcoming "why?" stage. "Because I said so" is not on the list, at least not when The Grammas are around, lest the windows shatter from their triumphant "HA-HA!!!"

Posted by scott at 11:43 AM | Comments (0)
Tree Time

I'm not handy enough to pull something like this off, but boy it sure does sound neat:

An accomplished woodworker, [retired social worker Jack] Barnhart dreamed of building a treehouse - but not one of the scrapped-together versions the word conjures up in most people's minds.

The cozy little cottage he was envisioning would put the Swiss Family Robinson to shame, with two staircases, built-in closets and cabinets, a wet bar, high-quality insulated windows, water and electricity, cable TV and a rooftop patio - not to mention table service for six.

And instead of climbing a ladder from the ground, his treehouse would be accessible by a soaring footbridge, connected to the deck of his home some 65 feet away across a ravine.

Sounds like something my semi-retired dad would do, if he weren't already busy racing 600+ hp dirt trucks. No, really!

Posted by scott at 10:20 AM | Comments (0)
Smashing the Banana

A few days ago someone in one of my biking communities wrote asking just what, exactly, was up with clipless pedals, should he get some, and how does he keep from crashing after he does? The blizzard of responses was quite informative, the experience even moreso.

Glossary: LBS: Local Bike Shop. Clipless pedals: devices that allow you to mechanically attach your foot to the pedal of the bike. Toe clips: baskets integrated into regular pedals that allow you to pull up and push down.

I went biking with my friend Joshua last weekend with him on my old Cypress. I think it was the first time he'd ever ridden with toe clips, and it took him so long to pull out of them at stops I just knew he was going down once or twice. I kept thinking, "boy, you'd be something to watch in a set of clipless!"

Which is why I'm trying to find some cheap ones right now. Evil? Me?!?

Posted by scott at 09:06 AM | Comments (7)
Dry Titan

Once thought to host entire seas of liquid methane, recent evidence is suggesting Titan may be "dry as a bone" over nearly its entire surface. The evidence comes from the Cassini space probe and infrared observations by the Keck observatory in Hawaii. However, this leads to yet another question... if Titan's methane isn't coming from gigantic seas, where is it coming from?

Posted by scott at 08:13 AM | Comments (0)
August 03, 2005
XBox Update

Slashdot is also reporting the first official price point for the upcoming Xbox 360. $300 is, as I recall, right around what the first Xbox cost at launch (took me years to get one, so I could be wrong about that). This also makes it fully 1/3rd less expensive than the PS3 (well, less expensive than the price I found when I googled 'PS3 price' at any rate), which, coupled with Xbox 360's earlier launch, bodes ill indeed for Sony's console.

Meanwhile, this Halo 3 announcement made in May completely got by me. A spring launch is very tasty news indeed, and as noted is yet another MS broadside into the PS3's ship.

Sony fans better hope the company doesn't fumble the PS3 release.

Posted by scott at 02:48 PM | Comments (1)
Alfa Progress

Fiat has announced the selection of an executive to head the North American Maserati and Alfa Romeo division. Which of course doesn't quite exist yet (well, at least with Alfa attached), but it does bring our favorite cross-and-serpent that much closer to US shores. There's also this road test of the 159.

Car and Driver reported this month that a) the 159 actually won't be coming to our shores and b) even if it did it might be priced as high as $49,000. Even I can't save that many pennies. Oh well, it'll at least be nice to see them on the highways again.

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

Browsing my biking forums this morning I found out about this eerie but (hopefully) effective way of increasing awareness about the dangers poorly designed roads pose to cyclists:

A beat-up, run-down bicycle often is evidence of years of use and wear. But a clandestine group of activists scattered dozens of battered, twisted bikes, painted stark white, across Seattle early yesterday morning to raise awareness about safety issues facing riders.

The team of about 25 activists are part of an organization called GhostCycle, which has spent the past three months collecting online submissions of bicycle accidents across the city.

The group mapped the locations of about 140 accidents. Then, under cover of darkness, they placed 40 painted bikes at collision sites, each with an ominous sign reading "A cyclist was struck here."

I spend about half my bike time on regular roads, and there are definitely some around here that could stand improvement. Fortunately the vast majority of drivers in my area are not aggressive toward cyclists. They can be a bit inattentive at times, yes, but I always assume a driver hasn't seen me until I personally make eye contact with them. I also mount some pretty serious lights whenever I think I'll be out past sundown.

But that doesn't mean the situation can't be improved, and hopefully this idea will catch on. Hey, it beats the heck out of the PETA loons's advertising, no?

Posted by scott at 12:45 PM | Comments (0)
Rainbow Rose

Behold, and be awed. At 5000 light years away and 50 across, it's actually one of the smaller astronomical features I've seen, well, featured in NASA's APOD series. Doesn't make it any less beautiful.

Posted by scott at 11:37 AM | Comments (0)
Great Grandson of "Gotta Get Me One of These"

Well, why not have your own flame thrower? Maybe that'll keep the cats from crapping on the floors.

Well, ok, maybe setting the floors on fire would be a bit excessive as a litterbox compliance tool. But this thing shoots flames!

Posted by scott at 10:06 AM | Comments (0)
Up and Away II

Slashdot linked up this much more detailed look at current planning for the shuttle's replacement. Includes far more proposed variants, as well as the pros and cons of each. Looks like no matter what they choose there will be some serious modifications required to the old Apollo complex.

Posted by scott at 09:18 AM | Comments (0)
Redneck No More

Having toys worth more than your house just got a whole lot harder:

"When people think of `mobile home,' they think of `trailer,'" said Weidman, 55, a former attorney who is the mother of two teenagers. "Mobile homes aren't what they were. They're not the little 9-by-15s on wheels. These are homes."

Indeed, virtually all trailers in such developments are not mobile at all. Some are on permanent foundations; their nomad days are over.

Such units in the Florida Keys are seeing prices approaching a cool million, including one waterfront trailer on Stock Island next to Key West that's on the market for $799,000, said listing real estate agent Larry Salas, 47, of Miami. That price includes land, however.

As noted, land is the key. The assessment breakdown on our own house put the value of the structure at a fraction of the value of the home precisely because it's land that's skyrocketing in price, not necessarily houses. And those "mobile homes"? My mom periodically decides she's going to move out into the sticks, and last time got serious enough to drag me out to several "prefab housing" dealers. Those things are nice. The walls aren't very thick, and it certainly doesn't feel as substantial as a regular house, but boy are they tricked out. Again assuming you can find some land, you could do a whole lot worse than a modern double- or triple-wide.

Posted by scott at 08:12 AM | Comments (2)
August 02, 2005
Black and White Cornbread

Posted by Ellen at 08:02 PM | Comments (1)
Maybe They Should Re-name it "PC BBC"

Bias? Here? At the BBC? Say it ain't so!:

Following on from much disparaging blogosphere comment (for instance Stephen Pollard, Clive Davis, Harry's Place, etc.) about the dreadfully biased studio audience selected to appear on last week's BBC news special, Questions of Security (surely Questions of Terrorism?), the BBC has admitted that "there was a deliberately disproportionate number of Muslims in [the] studio audience". Truly astonishing.

'Disproportionate' hardly begins to describe the situation - according to the BBC, "around 15% of the audience" was Muslim, "as opposed to 2.7% of the country as a whole" - in other words, Muslims were more than five times over-represented. Judging from the aggressive self-righteousness of so many of the apparent Muslims among the questioners, they weren't even representative of British Muslims as a whole.

Even our network newsies didn't have balls this big a month after 9-11. Then again, they didn't have the advantage of gauranteed government finance either. Lordy I do so love socialism.

Posted by scott at 03:37 PM | Comments (0)
Good Boy!

Pat gets a distinctively-shaped no-prize for bringing us news that the National Zoo's panda is a boy. The article also notes that after weening the cub will go to China, which is surprising but not completely unexpected. As part of the "lease" agreement (as I recall, to the tune of $1 million per year for 10 years), any cubs born at the zoo are automatically considered property of the PRC.

Posted by scott at 02:43 PM | Comments (1)
Unintended (Solar System) Consequences

Who'd have thought the discovery of a new planet would result in the potential disqualification of another? Personally, since Pluto has a moon, I still think it should be classified as a planet, but that may just be the traditionalist in me. Even more interesting is the comment that there are almost certainly more, perhaps many more, (so far) undiscovered Pluto-sized objects out in the Kuiper belt.

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

New Scientist is carrying this update to the developing controversy over Martian methane. One group of scientists has found the methane is concentrated in certain areas on the planet, implying it's being destroyed before the Martian wind can disperse it over the planet. Another group is taking the position there's no methane at all on Mars, and even if there is they've come up with a way of explaining it that involves only geological processes.

Ain't planetary science fun?

Posted by scott at 12:58 PM | Comments (0)
I Always Wanted to do This with Ours

What's inside the box?:

VERGENNES, Vt. -- Imagine the shock at Country Home Products when workers opened a box and five kittens came squirming out.

Don't worry, they're fine, apparently shipped by accident as part of a merchandise return.

Posted by scott at 11:46 AM | Comments (3)
Up and Away

Slashdot linked up this nice summary of what seem to be the most current shuttle replacement plans. It includes the first pictures I've seen outside trade publications of the proposed vehicles.

The quote from Alex Roland, who said these plans had "the aroma of a quick and dirty solution to a big problem." is quite simply wrong. Aviation Week has been covering this stuff for more than a year now, and what the NYT is reporting here was reported there several months ago. The heavy lift vehicle in particular has been kicking around NASA in one form or another since at least the late '80s.

It would appear from this report, and AW&ST's coverage, that NASA will be going for a series of designs utilizing existing, derived, or improved shuttle components instead of commercial and military heavy-lift vehicles. AW&ST has been implying this ever since Michael D. Griffin took over as the agency's director. While on the face of it not as exciting as a program based on nifty new rockets and technologies, it does neatly avoid a very thorny and potentially expensive problem... "man rating".

While I've never actually seen the complete details of this process, from what I have gathered there actually is a formal set of specifications that NASA requires any launch vehicle to meet before it will allow its astronauts to use it. These seem to mostly involve a sort of "hyper redundancy" in all aspects of a vehicle's operation. They are extensive and detailed enough that AW&ST reported some officials as being very unsure a vehicle not designed with this redundancy (i.e. the commercial and military vehicles initially proposed) would ever be able to meet these requirements, and certainly never be able to do it cheaply.

The shuttle components are already man-rated, and have been for decades. The claim of leveraging the existing shuttle infrastructure is in my opinion a little disingenuous, since the alternatives also have well-established infrastructures of their own. Then again, it should be kept in mind this has to be sold to Congress, and proposing a new program that would suck thousands of jobs out of the districts of the people who need to approve it isn't what one would call starting out on the right foot.

This approach would also have the advantage of, contrary to all previous replacement initiatives (including the hallowed X-33), using hardware on the shelves and known to work. No improbable speculation, pie-in-the-sky tech, or gigantic cost overruns just waiting to happen here. Spaceflight is perhaps the most complex human endeavour ever attempted, there is no need to make it more so just for the sake of it.

Plus, on a personal note, I just like the thought of NASA flinging Saturn V-sized rockets into space once more. I once worried Olivia would consider them the stuff of legends, and so I'm thrilled she might be the third generation of my family to watch such monsters in action.

Posted by scott at 09:53 AM | Comments (0)
Airplane: 1 / Goose: 1

Fark linked up this graphic example of what a bird strike looks like from the pilot's point of view. Video is not gross, but is pretty intense. It seemed to take forever the first time I watched it, but from slightly before the strike to the airplane hitting the ground took almost exactly 60 seconds. Sounds like everyone (well, every person) got out Ok. In the comments, the story is claimed to be as follows:

I visit your site quite regularly, but I've never written in till now. The jet in question is a CT-155 Hawk. It is a jet trainer built by British Aerospace Systems and flewn by the Canadian Air Force.(CT-155 is the Canadian designation. The British designation is BAE 115 Hawk, or something like that.) The accident happened about 2 years ago in Moose Jaw, Saskatechewan, where a lot of the pilot training for the Canadian Air Force is done. I just completed pilot training there myself, although I didn't fly the Hawk. Anyway, as you can see, they had a bird strike shortly after take-off. They were doing about 230 knots, and at 200 feet when they sucked in the bird. The one and only engine flamed out almost immediately. There was a student and instructor in the airplane at the time. The instructor immediately took control and attempted to turn around in order to carry out a forced landing. However, they didn't have enough altitude and decided to eject. They were at about 800 feet, 150 knots when the ejected. Both pilots survived. The student had virtually no injuries. The instructor severely injured his spine and broke his leg. The student returned to flying almost immediately. I am unsure if the instructor is back flying, but as of about 7 or 8 months ago, he was not.

Here is a link to a site with several pictures of the Hawk, as well as more info. I'd be happy to answer anymore questions you may have.

Mike G.
Pilot, Canadian Air Force

Which nicely explains why they weren't able to just power away on a single motor. An F-15 would probably get away with it. A trainer, not so much.

Posted by scott at 08:13 AM | Comments (0)
August 01, 2005
Thunderbelly The Cat

You have just got to go look.

Posted by Ellen at 09:00 PM | Comments (0)
That's A BIG Kitty!

A big cat dubbed the Moorland Beast has been unmasked as an overweight pet. Residents in East Ogwell, near Newton Abbot, have reported several recent sightings of a panther-like creature prowling the streets. One resident reported seeing "a black feline at least 2ft 6in tall" stalking fields on the edge of the village.

Finish reading the story here.

Posted by Ellen at 06:12 PM | Comments (0)
Translation Guide

It all started out innocently enough:

I made a huge tactical error on last Monday's group ride. I'm not talking about missing the break, getting boxed in during the sprint or blowing my nose on the beefy guy known as Steroid Sid.

No, my big mistake was believing my buddy when he called that morning and said, "We're going to take it easy today."

So begins the introduction to the Road Bicyclist's Phrasebook. I'm not all of those things (I'm not even most of them)... but that's not to say invitees to rides shouldn't consult the phrasebook before accepting. But hey, Joshua went out with me last weekend and I only dragged him out into traffic twice! Not my fault the damned trail is 3 miles from home!

This, on the other hand... is it too early to get a prenup signed if you've been married for 6 years?:

SA [Spouse A, the spouse of the bike loon] shall be guaranteed quality time equivalent to TB [The Bike] unless it conflicts with TB in which case TB gets preference. Service time shall be guaranteed and considered a separate requirement. In the event of emergency, ie SA stranded, child sets hair on fire etc, SB [Spouse B, the bike loon] shall complete whatever TB related activity as soon as possible and attend said emergency. In the event of a in-law visit or should, for any reason, SB become depressed or otherwise in need of stress relief, SB shall be permitted as much time w/TB or TB related activities, magazines, books, events etc as needed until such time SB feels better.

Oh shaddup. Replace TB with "Canon [something complicated]" or "Dallas Cowboys" or "Trans Am" and there's at least three guys out there who'll suddenly look up at the sky and start whistling.

And don't even get me started on the CD-ROM filled with 2500 pictures!


Posted by scott at 02:31 PM | Comments (0)
Vision, and Re-Vision

BBCnews is carrying this comparatively even-handed look at the current state of the historical controversy regarding the dropping of the atomic bombs that ended WWII, events whose 60th anniversary are coming up on Friday and Tuesday, respectively. Personally, I've never understood or agreed with the revisionists, who have always seemed far more interested in pushing their own ill-disguised agendas than in finding out the truth.

Far as I'm concerned, David McCullough hit it right on the head: "How could a president, or the others charged with responsibility for the decision, answer to the American people if... after the bloodbath of an invasion of Japan, it became known that a weapon sufficient to end the war had been available by midsummer and was not used?"

Posted by scott at 01:30 PM | Comments (0)
Insert Place Michael Jackson Joke Here

They gave out the "California San Jose State University Bad Writing" awards last week, but I only now found a site that actually printed the winner:

As he stared at her ample bosom, he daydreamed of the dual Stromberg carburetors in his vintage Triumph Spitfire, highly functional yet pleasingly formed, perched prominently on top of the intake manifold, aching for experienced hands, the small knurled caps of the oil dampeners begging to be inspected and adjusted as described in chapter seven of the shop manual...

I don't write like this. My car has fuel injection.


Posted by scott at 12:36 PM | Comments (0)
“Just mash the gas?” “Ja, mash.”

Any road test of a car like this:

The very long doors open straight out like a normal car, no gullwing or Lambo-style function here. The cockpit is lined in black carbon fiber and leather with bright red carbon fiber inserts on the dash and doors and bright red piping on the seats. The four-point belts are also bright red and click in a center buckle like a race car. Two big pedals in the driver’s footwell—brake and gas—have rubber grippy pads inserted. The shifter is no more complex than a straightforward automatic.

There are no cupholders.

Is going to be one helluva road test. So come, dear reader, and take joy in the glorious one-offness that is the Maybach Exelero. Will they produce it? Only automotive journalists, who don't actually have to pay for the cars they drive, would even bother asking. The rest of us, well, I've always wondered what a mortgage-payment-per-week that can travel 218 mph would look like, haven't you?

Posted by scott at 11:46 AM | Comments (0)
I Wonder How Many Nails It'll Pick Up at Once?

Pat gets a very attractive no-prize for bringing us news of the most powerful magnet yet created:

This definitely ain't no refrigerator magnet. The new super magnet at The National High Magnetic Field Laboratory weighs more than 15 tons and has a magnetic field 420,000 times that of the Earth's — strong enough to pull a metal object out of a person's hand and send it flying — if people were allowed to get close enough.

The laboratory — one of only nine high magnetic field labs in the world — unveiled the new magnet, 13 years in development, on Thursday.

Apparently the biggest innovation isn't its strength, but the size of its field. The device seems (from the article) primarily targetted at various forms of magnetic imaging.

Posted by scott at 10:10 AM | Comments (0)
Of Pots, Kettles, and the Color Black

Alternatively, 'what's the sound of one foot swallowed?':


White House press doyenne Helen Thomas is plenty peeved at her longtime friend Albert Eisele, editor of THE HILL newspaper in Washington, D.C.

In a column this week headlined "Reporter: Cheney's Not Presidential Material," Eisele quoted Thomas as saying "The day Dick Cheney is going to run for president, I'll kill myself. All we need is one more liar."
But Thomas said yesterday at the White House that her comments to Eisele were for his ears only. "I'll never talk to a reporter again!" Thomas was overheard saying.

"We were just talking -- I was ranting -- and he wrote about it. That isn't right. We all say stuff we don't want printed," Thomas said.

As noted here many times before, the saddest part of satire (and irony) is its subjects almost never get it.

Stop that! You, in the gallery! Stop that cheering and agreeing with her! Don't make me get out the hose!

Posted by scott at 09:19 AM | Comments (2)
Have At You!

For the medieval engineer in you, we have this nifty trebuchet simulator. I'm pretty sure the intro music is from Civ II, a strategy game from the mid-90s.

Posted by scott at 08:23 AM | Comments (1)
Darwin Strikes and Misses

You would think people would be smarter than this.

Then again, it is the Japanese. They will do anything with electricty.

Posted by Ellen at 06:04 AM | Comments (0)