December 31, 2005
~ Hey, Johnson, Whaddaya Say / We all Wanna Know What You Learned Today ~

Cat gotta puke,
Bird gotta fly,
Drop a cordless phone in a fish tank,
And it f-ing dies.

Fortunately we'd both had enough wine by that point we thought it was funny. Well, I did anyway.

Posted by scott at 01:53 PM | Comments (4)
Converstations with a Two Year Old

Olivia: "Mmm, mommy! Taste-a good!"

Ellen: "Aag! No! Olivia! Boogers are not food!"

Posted by scott at 01:51 PM | Comments (1)
December 30, 2005
Happy Birthday!

Happy Birthday Mom!

Posted by Ellen at 08:19 PM | Comments (2)
December 29, 2005
Two Cows Walk into the Desert

Mahmood brings us both insight and humor with this list of what various Arab countries would do with two cows. Laughing while learning is the best way!

Posted by scott at 02:49 PM | Comments (2)
Truth in Haircuts

Personally, I'd be happy with a barber shop that had people I cound understand in it, let alone give a political drubbing to:

Customer: But you have to admit, Elder, that the playing field is not level. White people have more money and more property than we do.

Larry: (Turning to him.) Let's say I'm white and I got money. (Laughter.) Either I worked for it or my dad worked for it, or my grandfather worked for it and I inherited it. Still, it's my money. And guess what -- I'm not giving it to you! I'm sorry about Rodney King. I'm sorry about Emmett Till. I'm sorry about Rosa Parks. I'm not giving you my money. I'm sorry they turned water hoses and dogs on Martin Luther King. I'm sorry about Rosewood. I'm sorry about the Tuskegee Experiment. I'm not giving you my money. I'm sorry about slavery. I'm sorry about Jim Crow. But I never owned a slave, and I don't use the 'N' word. I am not giving you my money.

Now, I may be such a cracker I should have "saltine" tatooed on my butt, but I do try to read whatever I can that will help me puzzle out the greatest real conflict America will probably always have. I don't pretend to be arrogant enough to think I'll ever "understand."

But I will learn.

Via LaShawn Barber's Corner.

Posted by scott at 02:44 PM | Comments (0)
On the 12th Day, NO RESERVE!!!

Better late than never, the 12 days of E-bay Christmas. My mom could probably predict, with great accuracy, which sellers had bad feedback just from the descriptions.

Via SFD.

Posted by scott at 02:33 PM | Comments (0)
Shaggy Cat Story

Joshua gets a warm & fuzzy no-prize for bringing us Henry's World:

Henry’s World tells of an intrepid tripod cat who wins the hearts of two self-avowed "dog people". Inspired by Henry’s resilience and zest for life, they shared his adventures via email with a few friends. In eight months Henry’s email folder swelled to 2000 letters from around the world. Henry’s new "e- mail" paw pals teach him much and many confide in him their own setbacks and tales of survival.

One of our own "misfits" is a fuzzy black ball of three-legged evil known as Goblin. When we moved from our apartment to this house, she staged her very own "palace coup", overthrowing the established cat order and placing herself at the top. Where once three to four cats would sleep on our bed, now there is only one. Choice perch spots (that she can actually reach) are taken at will. Food sharing happens to other cats.

Now if we could only get her to stop tossing her cookies once a week...

Posted by scott at 02:14 PM | Comments (1)
Purple Passion

As long as it doesn't show up on a home shopping channel somewhere, I should be OK:

A clam that a Portsmouth, R.I. couple thought was rotten turned out to hold a rare gem: a purple pearl that could be worth lots of money.

If only nature could produce a clam that'd make something useful... you know, Mavic wheels or Speedplay pedals.

Posted by scott at 02:07 PM | Comments (0)
Damned Kids and Their New-Fangled Gadgets

Welcome to the 21st century's version of sitting too close to the TV:

All those ears ringing from newly gifted iPods and MP3 players may not be able to hear next year's Christmas bells as well if music lovers aren't careful, hearing specialists are warning.

"We're seeing the kind of hearing loss in younger people that's typically found in aging adults,'' said Dean Garstecki, an audiologist and professor at Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill.

Press release journalism at its best. The quote, in particular, sounds exactly like what was being said when Walkman-style tape players became popular back in (good lord) the early 1980s. We all seem to have turned out just fine.

From my perspective, it's not getting kids to pull out their earbuds that's the problem, it's getting my parents to put in their damned hearing aids.

Posted by scott at 02:04 PM | Comments (0)
Smells Like Boomer Irony

In my day:

Workplace experts say Generation Y will need direction as the thundering herd enters the workplace.
The [Chicago Sun-Times] said it's a generation that Steven Mintz, author of Huck's Raft: A History of American Childhood, says has been "coddled."

Because lord knows the boomers, who've essentially defined neurotic self-indulgence, were nothing but tough guys, right?

Posted by scott at 08:45 AM | Comments (3)
December 28, 2005
~ As we Go Roving Merrily Along ~ is carrying this summary of the highlights of the Mars rover missons. For a golf cart that creeps along at a few dozen feet an hour, they've done pretty good!

Posted by scott at 01:10 PM | Comments (0)
Paging Doctor Leonard McCoy, White Courtesy Phone Please

New Scientist has news that we're just that much closer to Star Trek-like detection systems:

Micro-gyroscopes comprise a chip with a vibrating disc the size of a sand grain mounted at its centre. The vibrations are highly sensitive to acceleration, so the chips can be used to detect motion in rockets, aircraft and anti-lock braking systems in cars.

But now Calum McNeil and his colleagues at the University of Newcastle in the UK have created a gyroscopic disc less than 0.1 millimetres across that can be used to "weigh" proteins, which allows it to identify particular proteins produced by cancer cells. The disc targets the kind of protein that binds to a DNA coating on a cross on the disc's surface.

Every time I think, "what will they think of next?", they go and do so, and it's never what I expect. Ain't markets grand?

Posted by scott at 12:54 PM | Comments (0)
Well Ours Think They Are

Ron gets a mewling no-prize for bringing us the latest "it's a mountain lion! No! No! It's a housecat!" story. As I recall, the last one we linked up was also from Britain. I wonder what their damned housecats actually look like!

Posted by scott at 12:46 PM | Comments (0)
December 27, 2005
Tacky is...

... in the eye of the beholder, as this collection of "creative" Christmas light displays attests.

Oh don't look at me. Ellen's had an inflatable decoration on our front lawn for each season since Halloween. The latest is an 8-foot Rudolph. The first time Olivia saw it she said, "Oh wow daddy, would you look at that!" Now it lies deflated on the lawn, causing our yard-long sage to comment, "oh no, Rudolph fall down!"

Posted by scott at 12:20 PM | Comments (1)
Set Mouth = Open; InsertFoot(Mouth);

Slashdot linked up this amusing collection of the best tech CEO quotes of 2005. Nice to see there's still an industry or two with a little color in it, even if that color is a bit, well, stupid.

Posted by scott at 12:07 PM | Comments (0)
Perfectly Normal, Perfectly Healthy

As with nude beaches, this probably isn't as fun as it sounds:

The Delbecchis, husband and wife since 1978, are "echangistes," French for "swingers," who for the past 21 years have been visiting clubs like L'Orage (Thunderstorm) to have consensual sex in a group with one or more other people.

For future outings, they will no longer have to fear police will raid the club and arrest them for being in a "bawdy house," a place where prostitution or acts of public indecency take place.

In a landmark decision on Dec, 21, the Supreme Court of Canada lifted a ban on swingers' clubs, ruling that group sex among consenting adults is neither prostitution nor a threat to society.

Not fun because, as with the above mentioned beaches, those who wish to be seen at such places tend to be people you don't want to see at such places.

Meh... pay your taxes, stay out of trouble, yadda yadda yadda...

Posted by scott at 12:02 PM | Comments (3)
December 26, 2005
When Signs are... Rrmm... Japanese

Ron gets a creative no-prize for reminding us of the latest post in our "American-in-Japan" series:

A horse on the cover of a package of large-sized condoms. Boy, they certainly got straight to the point there. What I wouldn't give to have been able to sit in on that corporate meeting...

Company President: Ok, we need an image for our box cover...something that grabs people's attention...
Executive: Hmm...well, horses have large penises. Why not use a horse? President: That's...brilliance!

Personally, I like the picture on the doggy-poo bag best.

Posted by scott at 07:02 PM | Comments (0)
December 25, 2005
More Presents

Posted by Ellen at 03:24 PM | Comments (1)
Quick Xmas Pix


"Oh Daddy! S'o beautiful!

Posted by Ellen at 03:11 PM | Comments (2)
Merry Christmas!

cornbreadornament-01 Medium Web view.jpg


Posted by Ellen at 10:14 AM | Comments (0)
December 24, 2005
Twas The Night Before Xmas In the Amcgltd House...


Where a black cat waited silently to plot out Santa's demise...


Merry Christmas!

I swear you think no one loved this child! More pixes will be coming tomorrow!

Posted by Ellen at 08:45 PM | Comments (2)
December 23, 2005
~ It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Moon-Bats ~

~Twirling 'round their bells ~:

The 3rd Annual 10 Worst Quotes From The Democratic Underground For 2005

Honorable Mention: C_U_L8R: (Republicans are) Pure Concentrated Evil. false christians filled with hate and fear who desire to put the world in bondage and extract all the value and profit they can from their spoils of their pillage. May they all suffer unfortunate doom.

I think the ones who've figured out that GW is responsible for the Kennedy assassination are particuarly delightful.

Sad to say, I have a feeling there are some bloggers out there who won't get the joke.

Posted by scott at 02:19 PM | Comments (3)
No Giggling!

New moons and rings have been found around Uranus. Let the Beavis and Butthead impressions begin!

Posted by scott at 10:50 AM | Comments (1)
Mythbusters Revealed

Slashdot sent a fistful of questions to Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman (stars of the show Mythbusters), and now they've finally answered back.

I've loved the show from the start; who doesn't like to watch stuff get blown up in the name of science? I do sometimes worry what their insurance rates must be, and I sure wouldn't want to be on the cleanup crew.

Posted by scott at 08:59 AM | Comments (0)
When the Naughty are Nice

Fark linked up news that PHE, the parent company of mail-order adult vendor Adam and Eve, recently received a "business of the year" award from its home town. This whole Christmas spirit thing seems to be breaking out everywhere this year!

Posted by scott at 08:08 AM | Comments (0)
December 22, 2005
C'Mon O! Keep Rolling Out Cookies!


Olivia decided it was time she was allowed to help roll out tarts this year. I did not have an extra rolling pin, but a paper towel tube seemed to do the job!

Posted by Ellen at 08:22 PM | Comments (6)
~ Alls I Wants for Christmas is Some Triple-A ~

Well, not exactly triple-A, I just couldn't think of a Christmas song that'd rhyme with "SAM":

With these USB-powered air darts, you can shoot to annoy. Just hook the contraption up to your PC and control the darts' aim and firing mechanism with your mouse.


Posted by scott at 02:43 PM | Comments (4)
Bad [Computer] Santa

Making the rounds: the latest "idiot user" virus attack is featuring Mr. Kringle himself:

The IM.GiftCom.All worm has made an appearance on several messaging networks, including America Online, Microsoft MSN, and Yahoo.

The worm attempts to dupe you into believing that a friend has sent you a link to a harmless file. If you click on the file, you see an image of Santa. While viewing it, the worm attempts to install a rootkit on your system.

Don't click links, update your anti-v, Ellen will owe me big time if she pulls THIS one down on her system, yadda yadda yadda.

Posted by scott at 01:45 PM | Comments (0)
I Guess We Should Call Them "Pastamentalists"

Just when you thought it was safe to take pictures of food again:

DG Underwire, San Diego - The Flying Spaghetti Monster and his following, the pastafarians, have set up camp out side the home of Da Goddess.

Outraged over her revealing photographs of tortellini, the Spaghetti Monster alerted his minions to stand together against the photographer, calling her work "unspeakable, exploitive, crude, tasteless, vulgar, bordering on criminal."

Crashingly awful pun from Joshua in 3... 2... 1...

Posted by scott at 11:54 AM | Comments (2)
As Long as There's No Double-Donging

Also from Wired, the latest in on-line porn doesn't even use actual people:

You've heard of machinima -- films made by altering video-game footage -- but that's not the only thing coming out of games these days. Players of the massively multiplayer online title Second Life have started a new type of pornographic magazine, one that passes up real-life models for sexy, in-world avatars.

The magazine, Slustler, is both shot and distributed in the world of the game. There, after throwing down 150 Linden dollars (approximately 60 cents), players can browse Slustler's 100-plus pages per issue whenever they choose.

Meh, their money, their choice. Doesn't mean I won't make fun of it though...

Posted by scott at 10:36 AM | Comments (1)
Pasta, for the Rest of Us

Wired is carrying this article updating the goings-on surrounding the Flying Spaghetti Monster. This satirical reply to Intelligent Design proponents has taken on a life of its own, with web sites, merchandising, and even an upcoming book in the works.

Unfortunately, as with all satire, the targets almost certainly won't get it.

Posted by scott at 09:30 AM | Comments (0)
Paging Ziggy Stardust, White Courtesy Phone Please

While not exactly from Mars, these "space spiders" sound interesting nonetheless:

Space 'spiders', small robots able to crawl along mesh webbing, will be tested during a joint mission with the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency, the European Space Agency and the Vienna University of Technology. The Furoshiki satellite is scheduled to launch on January 18, 2006. To save on mission costs, the rocket carrying the satellite will have a sub-orbital trajectory; only about ten minutes of microgravity will be available before the satellite begins its descent.

The plan is to develop these little machines for use in very big space construction projects.

Posted by scott at 08:27 AM | Comments (0)
December 21, 2005
My Chimp Babies

The Primate Rescue Center houses seven former LEMSIP chimpanzees: Martina, Ike, Noelle, Rodney, Jenny, Cory, and Pozna. (An eighth animal, a female named O-Soy became critically ill shortly after she arrived in KY, and later died of an undetermined gastrointestinal ailment at LEMSIP, where she was taken for treatment.)

I worked with these chimps. I do remember O-Soy with a fondness, since she was the one that decided that my arm was a chew toy at one point. I am sad that she is gone.

Posted by Ellen at 08:46 PM | Comments (3)
NASA Has Crabs!

nasacrab Medium Web view.jpg

Possibly the best custom designed shell yet! Even Scott would appreciate this one.

Posted by Ellen at 05:18 PM | Comments (1)
That's Mister Frosty to You, Bub

I always suspected all that darkness and snow made Alaskans a little... quirky. Now I have proof:

With the help of his kids and neighbors, Billy Ray Powers built more than just a snowman, they've dubbed his 16-plus-foot-tall creation 'Snowzilla.'

With picture!

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

What is it with David Letterman?

Attorneys for television talk show host David Letterman want a judge to quash a restraining order granted to a Santa Fe woman who contends the celebrity used code words to show that he wanted to marry her and train her as his co-host.

A state judge granted a temporary restraining order to Colleen Nestler, who alleged in a request filed last Thursday that Letterman has forced her to go bankrupt and caused her "mental cruelty" and "sleep deprivation" since May 1994.

My first reaction was, "restrain away", considering she's in New Mexico and he's (usually) in New York. As I read the article, and thought about it a bit, I realized if they don't stop this, it could easily turn into grounds for some sort of bizarre lawsuit.

What I hope is that the publicity from all of this will allow this woman to get the help she really needs. It's all well and good to make fun of people's delusions (lord knows people make fun of mine all the time), but folks with serious mental illnesses like this need treatment to ensure they don't become a danger to themselves or others.

Posted by scott at 01:58 PM | Comments (3)
What will They Think of Next

The great Christmas ideas just keep coming. This time, it's a Japanese neck stretcher. No, really!

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

Scientific American is carrying this nifty article that explains just how scientists can figure out how much a planet weighs. Aside from, you know, that whole giant scale thing.

Posted by scott at 11:50 AM | Comments (0)
Ender's End?

Slashdot linked up news that the Ender's Game movie has been delayed once more. This is actually almost good news, since the reason for the delays has been that nobody's managed to produce a good script yet. I'd rather wait and get something good than rush it and end up with Battlefield Earth II.

Posted by scott at 10:38 AM | Comments (0)
A Table, for the Rest of Us

For the bar-brawler who has everything, the ultimate in multifunctional furniture.

This would be problematic in my house, as I'd have to un-stack snakes, giant vaporizers, clock radios, and/or clothing just to get to it.

Posted by scott at 09:03 AM | Comments (1)
December 20, 2005
O and her Nina

Posted by Ellen at 06:18 PM | Comments (3)
Girl Power Gone Bad

Just when you thought psychological studies couldn't get any weirder:

Barbie, beware. The iconic plastic doll is often mutilated at the hands of young girls, according to research published Monday by British academics.

"The girls we spoke to see Barbie torture as a legitimate play activity, and see the torture as a 'cool' activity," said Agnes Nairn, one of the University of Bath researchers. "The types of mutilation are varied and creative, and range from removing the hair to decapitation, burning, breaking and even microwaving."

When I was a kid, I can vividly remember how cruel some of my peers could be with their toys. Peer pressure being what it is, it usually didn't take long before such play degenerated into chimp-like bash fests that to this day make my stomach churn a little bit. I always thought it was just testosterone-addled boys who did stuff like that, but it would appear I was wrong.

All I can say is that, while she's indifferent to the dolls themselves, Olivia sure does like watching the videos and wearing the clothes. Then again, she's only 2.

Via Siflay.

Posted by scott at 02:52 PM | Comments (3)
Supernova Snapshot

Spaceflightnow is carrying this nifty "article and picture" of what may be the brightest supernova ever recorded:

We now know that SN 1006 heralded not the appearance of a new star, but the cataclysmic death of an old one located about 7,000 light years from Earth. It was likely a white dwarf star that had been pulling matter off an orbiting companion star. When the white dwarf mass exceeded the stability limit (known as the Chandrasekhar limit), it exploded.

I always thought these sorts of events were novas, while the event caused when a supermassive star destroys itself is a supernova. Ah well, must've been sleeping in astronomy class that day.

Posted by scott at 01:46 PM | Comments (0)
Personal Injury in a Can

Ok, this seals it. Sharper Image is where rich people go to hurt themselves in creative ways:

The revolutionary new FlyBar™ delivers a gravity-defying, trampoline-emulating bounce far beyond that of ordinary pogo sticks. Rather than hopping just inches into the air, this "mobile exercise and stunt bar" lets you fly to unprecedented heights of five feet!

And I thought razor scooters were dangerous...

Posted by scott at 12:56 PM | Comments (2)
More Shoes Dropping

Thud, redux:

"Intelligent design" cannot be mentioned in biology classes in a Pennsylvania public school district, a federal judge said Tuesday, ruling in one of the biggest courtroom clashes on evolution since the 1925 Scopes trial.

For the exact same reasons I wrote about earlier:

Jones wrote that he wasn't saying the intelligent design concept shouldn't be studied and discussed, saying its advocates "have bona fide and deeply held beliefs which drive their scholarly endeavors."

But, he wrote, "our conclusion today is that it is unconstitutional to teach ID as an alternative to evolution in a public school science classroom."

It's not science. You want to teach it, try the philosophy or religious studies classes. Or, even better, how about your church?

Posted by scott at 11:47 AM | Comments (1)
"Evil" Music

While its connection of some of the wackier members of the religious right to the Third Reich is to me like equating Yosimite Sam with Salvatore "Lucky" Luciano, this collection of Nazi-created jazz tunes is still damned intrueging. Amazing to think not only was this stuff allowed on the radio, it was believed.

Cynics would say we haven't progressed at all since then, but when I look at the international reaction to, say, the president of Iran's loopier comments, I think we've come at least a little ways.

Posted by scott at 09:27 AM | Comments (0)
Lost Dog Found?

BBCnews is reporting the failed Beagle 2 Mars probe may have been found. If the pictures and reconstruction are accurate, it would seem the thing hit the ground just a little too hard.

Posted by scott at 08:13 AM | Comments (0)
December 19, 2005
Da Meesteree of Woomahn

Usta always wonnah wha' i' was 'bout Ali G. Now no' oly do ah tahp a bahd Jamaica accent, rhespec, ah link hup dah vidyoh.

The wonders of having a day off...

Posted by scott at 08:20 PM | Comments (0)
Ok That's Just Not Cool

Placed here because the ads at orsm pretty much define NSFW. Sometimes not even SF-stomach


Posted by Ellen at 03:47 PM | Comments (1)
When Science Attacks

Fark (of all places) linked up this potentially ground-breaking analysis of media bias. The results, while predictable in general, have some very surprising details.

Posted by Ellen at 03:36 PM | Comments (0)
We're Back

Pictures of Santa terrorizing Olivia will, of course, follow soon.

Posted by scott at 02:20 PM | Comments (1)
December 17, 2005
Updates Will Be Slow!

We are in NY this weekend visiting family! Updates will be slow or non-exisitent this weekend. Be sure to check out the archives for fun!

Posted by Ellen at 11:36 AM | Comments (0)
December 16, 2005
Election Day

A trio of articles in honor of Iraqi election day:

Victor Davis Hanson lances the boil that is the left's perception of the world:

For some time, a large number of Americans have lived in an alternate universe where everything is supposedly going to hell. If you get up in the morning to read the New York Times or Washington Post, watch John Murtha or Howard Dean on the morning talk shows, listen to National Public Radio at noon, and go to bed reading Newsweek it surely seems that the administration is incommunicado (cf. “the bubble”), the war is lost (“unwinnable”), the Great Depression is back (“jobless recovery”), and America about as popular as Nazi Germany abroad (“alone and isolated”).

But in the real adult world, the economy is red-hot, not mired in joblessness or relegating millions to poverty. Unemployment is low, so are interest rates. Growth is high, as is consumer spending and confidence. Our Katrina was hardly as lethal as the Tsunami or Pakistani earthquake. Thousands of Arabs are not rioting in Dearborn. American elderly don’t roast and die in the thousands in their apartments as was true in France. Nor do American cities, like some in Chinese, lose their entire water supply to a toxic spill. Americans did not just vote to reject their own Constitution as in some European countries.

The military isn’t broken. Unlike after Vietnam when the Russians, Iranians, Cambodians, and Nicaraguans all soon tried to press their luck at our expense, most of our adversaries don’t believe the U.S. military is losing in Iraq, much less that it is wise now to take it on. Instead, the general impression is that our veteran and battle-hardened forces are even more lethal than was true of the 1990s — and engaging successfully in an almost impossible war.

Thomas Sowell comments on how the media's own "bleeding leads" help fulfill their own defeatist prophecies:

Neither our troops nor the terrorists are in Iraq just to be killed. Both have objectives. But any objectives we achieve get short shrift in the mainstream media, if they are mentioned at all.

Our troops can kill ten times as many of the enemy as they kill and it just isn't news worth featuring, if it is mentioned at all, in much of the media. No matter how many towns are wrested from the control of the terrorists by American or Iraqi troops, it just isn't front-page news like the casualty reports or even the doom-saying of some politicians.

The fact that these doom-saying politicians have been proved wrong, again and again, does not keep their latest outcries from overshadowing the hard-won victories of American troops on the ground in Iraq.

And an embedded reporter comes to his own startling conclusion:

I’ve listened to the soldiers and Parrish about the missing pieces of the puzzles that don’t reach home. My selfish, journalistic drive immediately thinks “Perfect. A story that hasn’t been told. Let me at it.”

But I have a slight hesitation; I need to keep balanced. I can’t be a cheerleader, even if I have a soft spot for the hometown troops, especially after the welcome they’ve shown me. I still need to be truthful and walk the centerline and report the good or bad.

But then I realize it’s not a conflict of interest. If I am truly unbiased, then I need to get used to this one simple fact; that the untold story, might in fact, be a positive one...

Finally, for the "bonus round" (for those who've managed to get this far), we have this Washington Post piece with the headline Iraqi Vote Draws Big Turnout Of Sunnis, Anti-U.S. Sentiment Is Motivator for Many

I am constantly surprised by this attitude. Not only must the US succeed at something, it must be liked while doing so. Anything less is judged a failure.

Listen folks, the world's stage is not a high school auditorium, and we are not in a popularity contest. I think it is very important that the rest of the world's countries respect and do business with us, and that we succeed at whatever we set our mind to. It's nice if we're popular at the same time, but anyone who thinks its a requirement needs to have their head examined.

As far as Iraqis specifically? I'm reminded of a nature show I saw once on PBS, about wolves being raised for future release into the wild. Their handlers did not treat them nicely, did not say kind things, did not even attempt any sort of rapport. They made sure they stayed healthy and learned how to survive in the wild. The reason? "It's a tough world out there, and we want to make sure they understand relying on us is not how you survive in it."


Posted by scott at 10:34 AM | Comments (0)
Dwarf Dynamic

Slashdot linked up this BBCnews article detailing the first-ever measure of the mass of our closest white dwarf neighbor:

Sirius B is just 12,000km (7,500 miles) in diameter, similar to Earth, but its mass is 98% that of the Sun.

Studying Sirius B has been difficult because of the bright light coming from its neighbour, Sirius A, or the "Dog Star".


Posted by scott at 09:45 AM | Comments (0)
Gene Color

The Washington Post today carried this article detailing what, exactly, caused certain sections of humanity to evolve white skin. While the natural forces behind the selection have been understood for some time*, the specific cause was unknown until now. Considering the energy expended over it throughout history, it's a little ironic that the change itself is very, very small.

* Bones need vitamin D to form properly. In pre-industrial societies, vitamin D comes almost exclusively from the sun via an interaction between (as I recall) ultraviolet light and fatty tissues near the skin. Even a mild form of ricketts (bone deformation due to lack of vitamin D) will render a woman incapable of surviving childbirth.

Dark skin filters much of the vitamin D-producing ultraviolet sunlight light out, which is not a problem in the tropics, but becomes a big deal in the further north you go. Hence a powerful positive selection pressure for light skin.

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

Fark linked up news of a most original operation on a turtle:

Hermie the Turtle's little defective beak made meal time a struggle. Unable to close his mouth completely, the tiny 20-gram reptile's very existence was at stake.

But today, this map turtle has a new lease on life thanks to the work of two doctors who outfitted young Hermie with braces. Now, some are calling the orthodontic work a Christmas miracle.

Our own tortoise is eating quite merrily nowadays, totally ignoring the fascinated cats and woman peering down at him from above.

Posted by scott at 09:25 AM | Comments (5)
December 15, 2005

Pat gets a no-prize for bringing us this op-ed about a "convenient amnesia":

Americans typically grow up believing that slavery was confined to the cotton fields of the South and that the North was always made up of free states. The fact that slavery was practiced all over the early United States often comes as a shock to people in places like New York, where the myth of the free North has been surprisingly durable. The truth is that New York was at one time a center of the slave trade, with more black people enslaved than any other city in the country, with the possible exception of Charleston, S.C.

The New-York Historical Society in Manhattan has set out to make all this clear in its pathbreaking "Slavery in New York," which ends in March. It is being described as the first exhibition by a major museum that focuses on the long-neglected issue of slavery in the North.

While the author does have a point, in making it I think he engaged in a bit of selective amnesia of his own, one depressingly common in the "history as Marxist allegory" circles of the intellectual left. Yes, the North engaged in the slave trade every bit as enthusiastically as the South in Colonial times, but it was the North which eventually sacrificed its sons by the thousands in a war among whose primary goals was the end of that institution. Britain is likewise often excoriated for its participation in the slave trade, with most history books flat ignoring the fact that it was Britain, and Britain alone, which used its power, money, and people over an entire century to end slavery as a global form of trade.

Redemption is a powerful experience of the human condition. The ability to right one's own wrongs through good work is perhaps the most noble aspect of our character. Nations, being made up of people, are every bit as capable of it. Little surprise then that the intellectual left, whose post-modernist foundations rest on well-reasoned efforts to convince humanity they are little more than squishy machines, does everything it can to deny, ignore, and "spin" it away.

Posted by scott at 11:22 AM | Comments (4)
When Nanny States Attack

We're from the government, and we're here to help:

When the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association passed a rule requiring high school soccer players to wear mouth guards in 1999, Amherst-Pelham Regional girls coach Derek Shea remembers joking about what changes would come next.

"When mouth guards came up, we sat in the (coaches) meeting laughing, and someone said, 'helmets are next,'" Shea said. "I said that was ludicrous."

Ludicrous or not, soccer players on all levels from youth league to college could be required to wear helmets under legislation currently being considered in the Statehouse.

Alas, this comes far too late to help inveterate soccer-player Ron.

Posted by scott at 08:27 AM | Comments (1)
December 14, 2005
Puberty Pals

Joshua sent this!

Posted by Ellen at 08:07 PM | Comments (1)
The Sound of One Loon Flapping

Liz over at I Speak of Dreams recently provided a nice roundup of reasons why C.S. Lewis is the "single most useful tool of Satan since his appearance in the Christian community sometime around World War II". If you're a raving Christian wack-job, that is.

Click the link first before you start thinking I'm talking about Liz.

Posted by scott at 02:50 PM | Comments (1)
Pacifier Plus

Or, as Olivia would put it, "Binky Binky":

Pacifiers aren't just for soothing colicky babies anymore. A new study has found that use of a pacifier during sleep reduced the chances of a baby suffering from sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) by 90 percent. Furthermore, pacifiers eliminated the increased risk associated with babies who slept on their stomach or in soft bedding--factors that have been shown to increase the risk of SIDS as much as 10-fold.

90% is definitely nothing to sneeze at!

Posted by scott at 01:25 PM | Comments (0)

Like the saying goes: time marches on.

Via Mahmood.

Posted by scott at 11:43 AM | Comments (0)
The Color of History

While giving my brain a rest from making OpenLDAP talk to a MySQL server (what can I say, I'm a masochist), I found this nifty on-line exhibit of color photographs from 1939-1943. I'd become so accustomed to the perception crutch of "black-and-white photography = history" that some of these photos were almost breathtaking to me in their immediacy. They really were just folks, like us.

But long, long gone...

Posted by scott at 09:49 AM | Comments (1)
Unintended Consequences

PROBLEM: A fragile ecosystem is being damaged by a burgeoning population.

TYPICAL LIBERAL SOLUTION: Enact federal regulations to ensure the environment is protected, and enforce those rules with powerful regulatory boards.

RESULT: Death becomes illegal:

There's no more room to bury the dead, they can't be cremated and laws forbid a new cemetery. So the mayor of this Brazilian farm town has proposed a solution: outlaw death.
The bill, which sets no penalty for passing away, is meant to protest a federal law that has barred a new or expanded cemetery in Biritiba Mirim, a town of 28,000 people 45 miles east of Sao Paulo.

I sometimes think people will eventually learn their lesson. Then I look at the likes of, the Democratic Underground, and Earth First and realize there's nothing quite as ignorant as a person who refuses to understand.

Posted by scott at 08:37 AM | Comments (2)
December 13, 2005

Of course, this would happen in Arkansas:

SILOAM SPRINGS, Ark. - Shayna Richardson was making her first solo skydiving jump when she had trouble with her parachutes and, while falling at about 50 mph, hit face first in a parking lot.

Although badly hurt, she survived — and doctors treating her injuries discovered she was pregnant. Four surgeries and two months later, Richardson said she and the fetus are doing fine.

Jumping out of perfectly good airplanes is bad, mmkay?

Posted by scott at 02:10 PM | Comments (3)
Aurora Marsialis?

Spaceflightnow is reporting that Martian Aurora are far more common than previously thought:

The discovery of hundreds of auroras over the past six years comes as a surprise, since Mars does not have the global magnetic field that on Earth is the source of the aurora borealis and the antipodal aurora australis.

According to the physicists, the auroras on Mars aren't due to a planet-wide magnetic field, but instead are associated with patches of strong magnetic field in the crust, primarily in the southern hemisphere. And they probably aren't as colorful either, the researchers say: The energetic electrons that interact with molecules in the atmosphere to produce the glow probably generate only ultraviolet light - not the reds, greens and blues of Earth.

~ I was cruising 'round on Mars one day... ~

Posted by scott at 01:12 PM | Comments (0)
Dead Again

So just how many times has actor X been offed in the movies? Not only has someone already asked this question, it's even been answered. I don't know who half those people are!

Posted by scott at 11:49 AM | Comments (1)
Like We Need Something Else to Worry About

Slashdot linked up news that scientists are finding a correlation between common childhood diseases like colds and flu and children's cancer. What the article buried was that it appears to only be an 8% increase, and that only if you have genetic factors which we're not completely sure how to test for.

Frantic parents flipping out at sniffles in 3... 2... 1...

Posted by scott at 10:05 AM | Comments (2)
Stanley Tookie Williams executed

SAN QUENTIN, California (CNN) -- Stanley Tookie Williams -- the co-founder of the violent Crips street gang who became an anti-gang crusader while on death row -- died by lethal injection early Tuesday for the 1979 killings of four people in two Los Angles robberies.

Read entire story here.

Posted by Ellen at 06:47 AM | Comments (0)
December 12, 2005
Rover Glitch is reporting a new health problem with one of the Mars rovers:

NASA’s Mars rover Opportunity has successfully moved its robotic arm for the first time in almost two weeks, prompting a series of discussions on the future use of the automaton’s appendage, the mission’s manager said Thursday.
The motor stalled on Nov. 25, fixing the arm in its stowed configuration – tucked close to Opportunity’s undercarriage for drives – and preventing study of a nearby rock outcrop at the rover’s Meridiani Planum landing site.

Their fix? Shove more current through the motor. Not subtle, but effective. Hard to say what that'll do to the longevity, but considering they're completing their first Martian year's worth of study, I'd say they've definitely gotten good mileage from the thing.

Posted by scott at 03:28 PM | Comments (2)
Training Time

Good for a few minutes of distraction at any rate: Jedi Training. Note: simple game, completely SFW.

Posted by scott at 02:28 PM | Comments (1)
Dear Friends for the Holidays

Pat gets a holly-jolly no-prize for bringing us a letter pretty much everyone could send:

To all my friends and family, Thank you for making me safe, secure, blessed, and wealthy by sending me your chain letters over the last year. Because of your concern:

* I no longer drink Coca Cola because it can remove toilet stains.

* I no longer drink Pepsi or Dr Pepper since the people who make these products are atheists who refuse to put "Under God" on their cans.

* I no longer drink anything out of a can because I will get sick from the rat feces and urine.

There's a certain irony I will let pass with minimal comment when I consider who sent me this message. :)

Posted by scott at 01:08 PM | Comments (0)
Birth of an Ocean

BBCnews is carrying this report on a birthday of a very special sort:

The team watched an 8m rift develop in the ground in just three weeks in the Afar desert region last September.

It is one small step in a long-term split that is tearing the east of the country from the rest of Africa and should eventually create a huge sea.

Afar is not just the potential birthplace of a sea. All of the oldest hominid remains come from the area, so in a funny way it's where we were born as well.

Posted by scott at 12:00 PM | Comments (0)
A New Shutter for Your Bug?

Slashdot linked up this review of a new camera from Sony. It tries to be a kind of hybrid -- as simple as a "point-and-shoot" while offering the quality of an SLR. Whether it succeeds at this or not is questionable (at least to the reviewer), and at $1,000 it would seem to be well out of the reach of casual P&S photographers.

Still, if it sells enough to pay down the R&D, I wouldn't be surprised to see cheaper versions in the future. If they can drag the price down into the premium P&S range (as I understand it, $300), they'll have a dragon slayer.

Posted by scott at 10:06 AM | Comments (0)
Underwear, for the Rest of Us

"Is that an iPod in your pocket, or... oh, I guess it is."

The Play iBox Solid Boxer is an ideal knit boxer for trendy, gadget-savvy music lovers. Made from a cotton/spandex blend, this button fly boxer has a discrete front pocket which is perfect for holding your iPod, other mp3 players or your cell phone.

Drat! I already got Joshua his Christmas present!

Posted by scott at 08:16 AM | Comments (0)
December 11, 2005
Comedian Richard Pryor Dies

Sad, but not unexpected. The guy was really sick.

Pryor died shortly before 8 a.m. of a heart attack after being taken to a hospital from his home in the San Fernando Valley, said his business manager, Karen Finch. He had been ill for years with multiple sclerosis, a degenerative disease of the nervous system.

Read entire article here.

Posted by Ellen at 10:45 AM | Comments (0)
The Egg Song

The Koreans will make a song about anything!

Check out the whole site plus more animationshere.

Posted by Ellen at 10:33 AM | Comments (2)
December 10, 2005



The newest addition to AMCGLTD! Our Leopard Spotted Tortoise, OM.

Posted by Ellen at 06:43 PM | Comments (7)
Winning Lessons

Instapundit linked up this in-depth analysis of developing strategies and tactics in what is now being called "Operation Iraqi Freedom II":

In OIF II, as it is called in the military ranks, American forces face an enemy employing classic insurgent tactics: ambushing American troops on the roads, intimidating fledgling Iraqi security forces, assassinating Iraqi government officials and terrorizing the population with random car bombings. There have also been pitched battles in cities, including two in Fallujah. But, led by those doing the fighting and the dying, American forces are learning some critical lessons about employing new tactics and new technology. These hard-won insights may influence how long the insurgency will last and how the United States will fight in future conflicts.

The article goes on to detail an extremely positive feature of this conflict... the empowerment of the "strategic corporal." One of the few things nearly everyone agrees contributed to the debacle of Vietnam was the concentration of authority at the highest levels. Johnson picking targets from the Rose Garden, rules of engagement so rigid targets had to be tracked for hours before they were "legal" to hit, that sort of thing. By giving authority to those closest to the action and most familiar with the situations on the ground, we go a very long way to ensuring the right decisions are made, the right force applied, and the right people removed.

Which is, of course, how wars are won.

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

Fark (bit surprise, I know) linked up this learned discussion of, well, why ancient Greek statues are "ill equipped". Those of you who think the classical world was a bunch of old white guys arguing while robed ladies sighed on couches will be surprised at the answer.

Posted by Ellen at 08:17 AM | Comments (1)
December 09, 2005
More Happy Dancing

Shamelessly copying a concept from the host of this website, I've added a status blog to my live network monitor at work. Wordpress this time instead of MT (mostly because the host uses WP... did I mention the "shameless" part?), but darned if it didn't go straight on without too much of a fuss.

Let that be a lesson to you up-and-coming linux users... when performing your own install, always include all the development tools, MySQL, PHP, Java, and every stinking option that comes with Apache, even if you think you'll never ever use them. Trust me, you will.

Yeah, I know it's Greek to most of you, but hey, look at it this way, I might be talking about bicycles.

Which reminds me, I jus--



Posted by scott at 02:33 PM | Comments (0)
Paging Tom Hanks, White Courtesy Phone Please

Now you, too, can own your very own giant piano keyboard. Way cooler than the giant Barbie dolls everyone threatens to give Olivia for Christmas. I mean, hey, if you're going to get a toy you got no place to put, might as well go all-out, knowha'a'mean?

Posted by scott at 01:36 PM | Comments (1)
At Least They Didn't Shoot Him

But he was from Arkansas:

It looks like the Arkansas man who was arrested after he jumped the fence onto the White House grounds was after Chelsea Clinton, not anyone from President Bush 's family.

Reminds me of one of the better quotes describing "The Natural State": If the world were to end tomorrow, I'd want to be in Arkansas. Because there, I know, it would end twenty years later."

Posted by scott at 12:06 PM | Comments (1)
The More You Know, II...

"AMCGLTD," we hear you ask, "I'm surrounded by sin and inequity. The bubbling cauldron of foul immorality that is modern society has demons jumping out at me from every corner. Just the other day my very own dog spun his head around twice and coated the living room in pea soup! I can't sleep from all my child's stuffed toys's chanting! I'm deeply afraid it could all lead to dancing! What am I to do?!?"

Fear not, friendly fundie, AMCGLTD is here to help! We've found this extremely practical guide to casting out demons in the name of Christ. From teamwork tips to cool questions, it's got everything a budding exorcist needs to toss those demons right out of your hair! Don't delay, the soul you save could be your own!

Posted by scott at 10:00 AM | Comments (0)
On the Move

Slashdot linked up news that the Earth's magnetic pole is moving and accelerating. At the rate it's going, it could be in Siberia in the next 50 years, causing the northern lights to move away from Alaska.

The sound you're hearing are enviro-weenies's heads exploding, trying to figure out how to pin the blame on the Bush administration.

Posted by scott at 08:45 AM | Comments (5)
Happy 6th Birthday Ted!

Happy Birthday Ted E. Bear!


Posted by Ellen at 06:45 AM | Comments (7)
December 08, 2005
Darwin Music

There was a young rapper from Dayton
Whose pen gun he lately was hatin'
It seemed to be dead
Which just went to his head
And so did the gun, which then claimed him:

Steven Zorn had put the pen gun to his head and clicked before, thinking it was jammed and would not work.

But on the third try, the tiny, silver pistol went off as the 22-year-old budding rap singer was drinking to celebrate an impending record deal. He died later at the hospital.

I ask you though, was it art?

Posted by scott at 03:23 PM | Comments (0)
Mmm... Tasty...

Fish sausages, anyone?

Fish sausages, once almost a staple of the Japanese diet, fell into decline around the '70s.

But the outbreak of mad cow disease in 2001 has seen the reemergence of the fish sausage, albeit with a variety of mad flavors that bring out the wurst in some food makers, according to Weekly Playboy (12/20).

But wait! There's more!

And the most notable part of the fishy feasts is the freaky flavors that they have spawned, like strawberry milk, which is made out of marine life, but tweaked to taste like a sweet lactose drink.

Just when you thought the Japanese couldn't get any weirder!

Posted by scott at 02:10 PM | Comments (1)
Moonstorm is carrying an article detailing the discovery of something you'd never expect to see on the moon:

Every lunar morning, when the sun first peeks over the dusty soil of the moon after two weeks of frigid lunar night, a strange storm stirs the surface.

The next time you see the moon, trace your finger along the terminator, the dividing line between lunar night and day. That's where the storm is. It's a long and skinny dust storm, stretching all the way from the north pole to the south pole, swirling across the surface, following the terminator as sunrise ceaselessly sweeps around the moon.

Pretty neat trick, considering there's no atmosphere with which to create weather.

Posted by scott at 11:52 AM | Comments (3)
Arriving: Cancer Flight 101

Slashdot linked up this fascinating summary of a new development in cancer research:

Scientists have discovered how cancer spreads from a primary site to other places in the body in a finding that could open doors for new ways of treating and preventing advanced disease.

Instead of a cell just breaking off from a tumor and traveling through the bloodstream to another organ where it forms a secondary tumour, or metastasis, researchers in the United States have shown that the cancer sends out envoys to prepare the new site.

The level of sophistication in this technique is to me staggering, considering that these are single-celled organisms we're talking about. All this time I thought it was viruses which were the clever evildoers in the microscopic jungle...

Posted by scott at 10:33 AM | Comments (0)
What a Cheesey Mistake

Pat gets a no-prize only a junkie would mistake for drugs for bringing us another entry in the chronical of stupid criminals:

In an unusual case of mistaken identity, a woman who thought a block of white cheese was cocaine is charged with trying to hire a hit man to rob and kill four men. The woman also was mistaken about the hit man. He turned out to be an undercover police officer.

Jessica Sandy Booth, 18, was arrested over the weekend and remains in jail with bond set at $1 million on four charges of attempted murder and four counts of soliciting a murder.

~ Bad boys bad boys... ~

Posted by scott at 08:50 AM | Comments (0)
December 07, 2005
Of Triatheletes, True Roadies, and Spazzes

While cruising a different biking forum, I found this bit of hilarity describing what happens when TrueRoadiestm decide to "slum" by bringing along a group of Triathelets, or "tri-geeks". The results were definitely an abject lesson in the definition of "hubris":

... The light turned green, and I started across the intersection, out of the saddle and cranking hard to get ahead of the group, when one of my feet unclipped and shot out of the pedal. What happened next was later described as either a complete flip or a barrel roll in the air while still attached to my bike. Whatever it was, it was fairly spectacular, with the end result being that I wound up on my butt in the middle of a busy highway in front of a group of stunned strangers.


This was clearly a case of pride going before a fall, and I spent the rest of the ride shaking off the intense embarrassment over my self-inflicted arabesque over the asphalt. Most of my new triathlete friends wanted to know if I would do the fancy fixed-gear barrel roll dismount trick again because one of them had missed it.

Hey man, don't look at me. It's all I can do to keep from getting passed by middle-aged guys on rusty dirt bikes.

Posted by scott at 08:01 PM | Comments (0)
Bike Box

Anyone thinking about shipping a bike around should find the Air Caddy of interest. At $149, it's not exactly the cheapest thing in the world, but considering how long it's taken me to dial in my SuperBike, the minimal disassembly requirement is quite a bonus. Definitely something to think about for the next long-distance convention we have.

What? Like you didn't alread know I was nuts...

Posted by scott at 07:17 PM | Comments (0)
Doing the Happy Dance

It only took six weeks (on and off) and three reloads, but I gots me a functioning Nagios monitoring system now. Works with NT and Linux.

Well, it works with all my Linux boxen and the 2k3 mail server. They're the healthiest systems on the net. Getting it monitoring the old geezers will be the next challenge.


Posted by scott at 04:07 PM | Comments (1)
Insert "Goldmember" Joke Here

Lord help me if our cats ever need this:

Veterinarians at Rome's zoo treated an elderly lion for arthritis by inserting some 50 gold pellets into the animal's muscles, officials said Wednesday.

The Asian lion, named Bellamy, had difficulty walking until the procedure two weeks ago in which 24-karat gold pellets were inserted into his spinal muscles near the joints, said the zoo's chief veterinarian, Klaus Gunther Friedrich.

Posted by scott at 02:47 PM | Comments (4)
Titan Update

Scientific American is carrying this update on the data Titan probe Huygens sent back:

... Titan is also clearly an exotic world swaddled in a dense layer of smog and frozen in a primitive, hydrogen-rich state. The methane and nitrogen that constitute its atmosphere form various aerosols in the sunlight--giving the moon its orange aspect--that then drift down through the atmosphere as alien snow leaving a soft covering as much as one kilometer thick on the surface, which is littered with water ice instead of rocks.

I recall reading an SF book years ago that mentioned methane snow such as this has such a low melting point that simply compressing it with, say, a boot would be enough to cause it to evaporate in a flash. No idea if that's true, but (as long as I got to come home at the end) I think it'd be neat to find out!

Posted by scott at 12:45 PM | Comments (0)
A Career, for the Rest of Us

Hey, gotta make a living somehow:

Fancy a change of career? Well, if you've got more than $100k hanging around doing nothing, and have always fancied going into the movie business, then point your browser at eBay in the US where someone is flogging an entire porn company - lock, stock and (judging by the description) plenty of smoking barrels.

I think that pretty much makes it official... you really can get anything on e-bay, if you're willing to wait long enough.

Posted by scott at 10:46 AM | Comments (0)
Fido Calling

For the dog owner with everything, we now have cellphones for their pooch:

Hung off Fido's collar, the PetCell is a bone-shaped cell phone that will let dog owners talk to their best friend over a two-way speaker.

Developed by PetsMobility, the PetCell works with standard cellular networks and has its own number. It automatically answers when the owner punches in a code on their telephone keypad that means, "Lassie, come home!

At $300 or more, I'm not sure just how many they'll sell. Then again, I didn't think premium pet clothes would do well...

Posted by scott at 09:47 AM | Comments (0)
Well, that's One Way to Do it

Pressed venison, anyone?

Either they misjudged the distance or they couldn't take the traffic. For reasons that mystify authorities, five deer that made their way onto the top of a five-story parking garage suddenly leaped to their deaths Sunday.

Police Cpl. Steve Cox found the does' bodies on a service road to the Charles Town Races & Slots, next to a security van they'd narrowly missed.

Nature equipped deer to do many things, but coping with a cave-cliff thing filled with stinking moving metal things that reek of people isn't one of them.

Posted by scott at 08:13 AM | Comments (0)
December 06, 2005
De-Spam Note

I just added a new filter (technically, a regexp) to our spam filter. Any time I tinker with those, sometimes things go wrong. If you suddenly experience comment problems, e-mail me using the address on the left.

Posted by scott at 02:36 PM | Comments (1)
You Play Your Way, I'll Play Mine

It took me awhile to figure out what was wrong with this book's cover, but once I did I got a chuckle. Hey, nobody said I was clever.

Posted by scott at 01:58 PM | Comments (2)
Snoopy Facts

Fark linked up this collection of trivia about the Charlie Brown Christmas show. Which is on tonight. Guess who's staying up late?

Posted by scott at 12:51 PM | Comments (0)
Checking the "Aperture"

Digital photography nuts (you know who you are) may find this Ars Technica review of Apple's new photo editing suite of interest. Unlike nearly all the other products Apple has come out with lately, this one doesn't seem to be "all that and a set of earbuds."

Posted by scott at 10:40 AM | Comments (0)
Toy Time

So, how many of the most popular toys of the last 100 years do you remember playing with? Olivia's all about Barbie, although last night she did pick up a standard "big helicopter" toy. Made daddy's heart jump, it did. And it wasn't even pink!

Posted by scott at 09:36 AM | Comments (0)
Lead Leftover Leaves Ludwig Lifeless

The Washington Post today carried this article detailing new developments in research on the death of Beethoven. By using a sophisticated new x-ray technique, scientists have determined that he was killed by lead poisoning. Precisely where the lead came from is not clear... perhaps lead-lined wine glasses or even as part of the medicines he was taking for his many other ailments. Since deafness is not normally associated with lead poisoning, it's thought his most famous handicap was actually caused by something else, also unknown.

Lead lined wine glasses. It's a wonder anyone survived those times.

Posted by scott at 08:20 AM | Comments (1)
December 05, 2005
Woo-Doff... Weah ah Yoo?

So says Olivia nearly every day now that she was allowed to stay up late and watch Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, the 1964 Rankin/Bass holiday classic. While we enjoyed it for its own sake that night, I also found that (as usual) there's a lot more to the story than just the show itself. Shows me just how funny memory can be. Ellen and I both know "Misfits" very well, even though the special apparently wasn't shown with this song (in our lifetimes at least) until 1998. I do seem to vaguely recall "Fame and Fortune", but this could simply be back-referencing.

Great. Now I'll have all those songs booming around in my head the rest of the day. Sigh...

Posted by scott at 04:01 PM | Comments (1)
Permian Poison

BBCnews is carrying this summary of new developments in research on the great Permian extinction, which saw the demise of perhaps four-fifths* of the Earth's species. According to the article, the latest candidate is poison gas, released in gargantuan quantities during the largest outpouring of lava ever discovered.

* The article says "two-thirds of reptile and amphibian families", but I've heard/seen/read much higher estimates elsewhere.

Posted by scott at 02:54 PM | Comments (0)
Flying Fifi

Fans of the (renamed) Commemorative Air Force and/or WWII aviation should find this detailed reminisce about the CAF's Fifi, the only B-29 flying at this time, of interest. Real B-29 weenies should read to the very end, for a surprising revelation about what actually happened to the second prototype Eddie Allen was flying all those years ago.

Posted by scott at 01:58 PM | Comments (0)
Too Much of a Good Thing

It's sometimes said, "money can't buy happiness, but it can make misery more comfortable." Which is all well and good, until you realize just how miserable it can really get:

For Mack W. Metcalf and his estranged second wife, Virginia G. Merida, sharing a $34 million lottery jackpot in 2000 meant escaping poverty at breakneck speed.
Mr. Metcalf's first wife sued him for $31,000 in unpaid child support, a former girlfriend wheedled $500,000 out of him while he was drunk, and alcoholism increasingly paralyzed him. Ms. Merida's boyfriend died of a drug overdose in her hilltop house, a brother began harassing her, she said, and neighbors came to believe her once welcoming home had turned into a drug den.

Though they were divorced by 2001, it was as if their lives as rich people had taken on an eerie symmetry. So did their deaths.

Pat gets a pretty but tarnished no-prize for bringing us this abject lesson in being careful for what you wish.

Posted by scott at 12:48 PM | Comments (0)
But Where's the Gatling Gun?

Ron gets a no-prize shaped like a puma for bringing us evidence that someone in the design department of Peugeot has been playing Halo recently. Something tells me you can't just dump this one down a cliff and flip it upright at the bottom.

Posted by scott at 11:40 AM | Comments (0)
Good Tidings To You, You @#$# !#@!#'er

Foamy the neurotically hilarious squirrel has (surprise surprise) something to say about the yuletide season. For those not already familiar with him, please note if the rapid-fire delivery of a helium-voiced dose of commentary and creative profanity would get you in trouble at work, use headphones or wait until you're home.

I especially liked the commentary about "tolerance" myself.

Posted by scott at 10:23 AM | Comments (5)

Carrie gets a warm & fuzzy no-prize for causing us to ask the question, "What Would Linus Do?"

A lightweight, non-woven blanket engineered by a South Carolina company is keeping disaster victims dry and warm from the Gulf Coast to the mountains of Pakistan to the tsunami-ravaged areas of Southeast Asia.

The blanket developed by the Polymer Group Inc. is warmer than traditional blankets woven of cotton or wool. One side is soft and provides comfort next to the body; the other has a backing to provide a barrier from moisture, dirt and debris.

Keep this one in mind next time some dippy enviro-weenie starts ranting about the evils of the modern chemical industry.

Posted by scott at 09:26 AM | Comments (1)

Every time Ellen starts going on about rednecks, I'm able to find things like two New Yorkers trying to use a toll lane at once.

Posted by scott at 08:12 AM | Comments (1)
December 04, 2005

Taken by the talented BlueLens.

Posted by Ellen at 08:07 PM | Comments (0)
Reason to Get Fit, #4

People in good shape get to eat better stuff:

"Studies show that higher-fat diets make more sense for fit people than low-fat diets," says nutritionist Liz Applegate, Ph.D., author of Encyclopedia of Sports & Fitness Nutrition. "In one study, endurance athletes ran up to 24 percent longer before they fatigued when they ate a diet that was above 30 percent fat compared to one that was below 20 percent," she says.

Keep pedaling!

Posted by Ellen at 05:39 PM | Comments (0)
December 03, 2005
Ron's Xmas Gift

A bear only Ron could love.

Posted by Ellen at 09:04 PM | Comments (0)
~ Hey, Johnson, Waddaya Say / We all Wanna Know What You Learned Today ~

I learned the only thing more futile than trying to elect a Democrat to the White House is taking a two year old with you Christmas shopping.

Posted by scott at 05:22 PM | Comments (2)
December 02, 2005
Footprints in the Sand

BBCnews is reporting what was initially thought to be a stunning discovery of early man's move to the Americas may end up being just a bunch of chipped rock:

Impressions in volcanic ash hailed as footprints made by the earliest known human settlers in the Americas may not be what they seem, Nature journal says.

If confirmed, the 40,000-year-old marks would have debunked accepted theories of human migration into the Americas.

But the ash has now been dated to 1.3 million years ago - more than a million years before modern humans evolved.

There's a chance they might be hominid (H. erectus was wandering around Eurasia at this time), but the smart money is on some sort of mistaken identity.

Posted by scott at 03:20 PM | Comments (0)
But Momm!!!

There are times when being rational and negotiating is appropriate with children. There are also times when they just need a smack on the butt. Guess which one this is?

Also nice to see not all 9 year olds are good enough to wax me in an online shooter.

Note: If a whiney snot shouting obscenities would get you in trouble at work, either wear headphones or wait until you get home.

Posted by scott at 02:24 PM | Comments (3)
They Really Do Have the Best Stuff

French-fry cupholder adapter, anyone? Just in time for Christmas!

Whenever we fly Ellen fairly rips the Skymall catalog out of the seat pocket and then pours over it during the flight, steals it, and keeps it by the bathtub for months afterward. Now that they have their own website, I'll probably never see her again.

Posted by scott at 01:04 PM | Comments (2)
Ah, the Taste of Shoe Leather

Now that Terrell Owens is finally fading from view, it would seem football sports casters have literally run out of things to fuss about. Their latest controversy? An off-the cuff remark by an ESPN reporter who said Indianapolis Colts were piping in noise to make the stadium louder.

Put the boom box down, Ron... the Cowboys can't hear you from here.

Posted by scott at 11:47 AM | Comments (1)
Club Rules

Jason over at Countercolumn wrote up his own personal rules of musicianship, which should be of interest to at least one reader out there. Everyone else... well, I didn't understand some of it, but the rest was definitely informative!

Posted by scott at 10:40 AM | Comments (0)
Yeah, that's the Ticket

Amazingly, this actually worked:

In an unusual case in a Scarborough, Ontario, courtroom, Jan Luedecke was acquitted of sexual assault after a judge ruled he was asleep during the attack -- a disorder known as "sexsomnia.

This guy's attourney should get a medal, right before he gets the crap beat out of him. The DA (or whatever they're called in Canada) should just be... well, shot is probably too strong. Fired definitely isn't.

Posted by scott at 09:43 AM | Comments (1)
Digging David

The Washington Post today carried this article detailing an archeological dig that might have found King David's palace:

Down the slope from the Old City's Dung Gate, rows of thick stone walls, shards of pottery and other remains of an expansive ancient building are being exhumed from a dusty pit.

The site is on a narrow terrace at the edge of the Kidron Valley, which sheers away from the Old City walls, in a cliffside area the Bible describes as the seat of the kings of ancient Israel.

What is taking shape in the rocky earth, marked by centuries of conquest and development, is as contested as the neighborhood of Arabs and Jews encircling the excavation. But the Israeli archaeologist Eilat Mazar believes the evidence she has uncovered during months of excavation and biblical comparison points to an extraordinary discovery.

What has actually been discovered, mainly some walls and pottery sherds, reads to me like pretty slim evidence, but it's good to see there are still parts of the ancient city still available for digging. As with all thriving modern cities with roots deep in the past, the vast majority of Jerusalem's archeological potential is buried under people's houses and businesses.

Posted by scott at 08:29 AM | Comments (0)
December 01, 2005
Getting the Word Out

Instapundit linked up this (to me) compelling letter from a soldier in Iraq, discussing President Bush's latest speach:

Please, America, listen to the man.

The moment anyone puts a timetable on coalition forces leaving, we’ve lost the war. You can’t put a timetable on the good guys unless you can put one on the bad guys too. That’s ridiculous. You can’t put an exact timetable on training up the new Iraqi military and police forces. It would be irresponsible.

This is beginning to happen too often for me not to comment on it. The threads that the media used to unravel the Vietnam debacle were held in large part by individual soldiers, men like John Paul Vann and David Hackworth, who saw so much wasteful death they had to speak out. At first the very few reporters who did listen risked their careers to report what they heard, but eventually too many soldiers saw too many things for it to be ignored. The rest, as they say...

While not quite the opposite (not surprising, since Iraq isn't much like Vietnam after all), our current situation is eerilie like a negative image of the previous experince, blurred but reconizable, if only for its opposite shape. Today it's the editors, perhaps in response to a sort of institutional guilt for their culpability in the previous conflict, who seem to focus exclusively on the negative while the soldiers, who are best placed to see incompetence and mismanagement, seem to do everything they can to promote a positive view.

Were it not for the internet, the political result would be a foregone conclusion. The tens of thousands of lives (on all sides) currently lost would have been for naught, the tiger allowed to sleep again until the next lunatic upped the ante, perhaps next time wiping out a city instead of a few buildings. Even with the ability the internet brings to allow the soldiers themselves to be heard, victory is not certain.

But then again, what is?

Posted by scott at 03:12 PM | Comments (0)
Chicken Little of the Sea

Also making the rounds: if Hell refuses to freeze over, maybe Britain will instead:

The ocean current that gives western Europe its relatively balmy climate is stuttering, raising fears that it might fail entirely and plunge the continent into a mini ice age.

The dramatic finding comes from a study of ocean circulation in the North Atlantic, which found a 30% reduction in the warm currents that carry water north from the Gulf Stream.

The real problem is that nobody really knows what this means. We've only been studying ocean currents seriously for fifty years or so, and ocean temperatures have been studied for an even shorter period of time. Believing this is the harbinger of an ice age is like believing aliens have sucked your house into their spaceship just because you heard a "bang" downstairs.

Do I think global warming is real? Yeah, I think it's real, and pretty obvious at that. Do I think it will lead to global catastrophe? Nope. The timelines most people who take baths and get haircuts advocate telescope these changes across a full century or more. Over that period of time we can not only cope with the changes, we'll probably make money off them.

If it all drops in the pot tomorrow, will it be more expensive to fix than if we'd taken a longer view? Well, yes, that too. But I'm not going to let the prosperity of my country be held hostage to a political tug of war over something that might happen.

Put it a different way. When one nation got frightened by a basketball-sized orb twirling around the planet, it reacted by placing men on the moon in less than the lifetime of a cat. If it became patently obvious that global warming's effects were going to compress down to years instead of decades, I'm quite confident the industrialized nations of the world would be up to the task of finding a solution.

Naive? Maybe. But my naivete doesn't cost us a dime, and lets the proven-to-work efficiencies of the market handle the problem in the meantime. Yours would risk my child's future on a theory based on a model that even its proponents can't get to work properly twice in a row.

Doesn't sound like much of an improvement if you ask me.

Posted by scott at 01:47 PM | Comments (0)
Speaking of Whiney Bitches...

Making the rounds: A political has-been doesn't like what Wikipedia has to say about him, so he finds the biggest megaphone he can get his hands around and uses it to scream to the world about the injustice. Instead of, you know, fixing the goddamned article himself which is after all the whole point of Wikipedia.

Reading the article, I get the impression this guy is the kind of person who'd hold up an entire checkout line for hours just because his can of peaches rang up 5 cents over. I'd like to say this sort of person is more prevalent on the other side of the isle, but in truth I know they hang out along the edges of all our camp fires.

It's our job to make sure they never get to play with the flame.

Posted by scott at 11:56 AM | Comments (5)
Politics, Economics, and Reality

Earlier this year much was made of pharmacists who refused, on moral grounds, to dispense various sorts of birth control. While the vast majority of commentators were wailing and rending their shirts over this "unfair and worrying" development, I decided to sit by and wait for the other shoe to drop.


Walgreen Co. said it has put four Illinois pharmacists in the St. Louis area on unpaid leave for refusing to fill prescriptions for emergency contraception in violation of a state rule.

The four cited religious or moral objections to filling prescriptions for the morning-after pill and "have said they would like to maintain their right to refuse to dispense, and in Illinois that is not an option," Walgreen spokeswoman Tiffani Bruce said.

Illinois must not be an "employ at will" state, or Walgreens must not have its policies in order. In both Virginia and Arkansas, these people would've been shown the door simply because they weren't doing the described job, that of filling prescriptions. Why they weren't doing it would be immaterial. Yes, there most definitely would've been lawsuits (perhaps another reason for the legislation), but they would be unwinnable.

This is why it's so important to let market forces do their work whenever possible. This is why people who think businessmen and their profit are evil are simply out of their minds. Customers want safe forms of contraception, and are willing to pay much more than it costs to produce them. Pharmacists who let their politics get in the way of someone else's business cut into those profits, providing strong, efficient, and effective incentives for said pharmacists to either change their ways or stop being pharmacists, voluntarily or otherwise.

Europe is praised for its worker-friendly environment, but in, say, France, pharmacists who refuse to do their job are effectively immune to the consequences, protected by thick layers of government regulation and ubiquitous unions. Labor unions in our own country are often praised for sticking up for the "little guy", but in a case like this the pharmacists would again be protected by labor contracts and arbitration. Meanwhile, someone who doesn't want to become a parent waits, held hostage by forces beyond their control.

Standing up for your principles is commendable. A pharmacist can decide on religious grounds that all medicine is bad and refuse to hand out anything but sugar pills, and that's fine by me. Fine by me, that is, as long as the market that wants these medicines is allowed to thunder past or even over them to get what it wants.

A final note: Standing up for your principles also means being prepared to accept the consequences of your actions. Doing so with dignity and honor is what heroes are all about. Suing someone because you don't like the aftermath doesn't make you a hero, it makes you a whiney bitch.

Posted by scott at 10:31 AM | Comments (1)
Press What?

Been around awhile it seems, but I'd never seen it before: Abbot and Costello in the computer store:

ABBOTT: Super Duper Computer Store. May I help you?

COSTELLO: Thanks. I'm setting up an office in my den and I'm thinking about buying a computer.


COSTELLO: No, the name's Lou.

ABBOTT: Your computer?

COSTELLO: I don't own a computer. I want to buy one.


COSTELLO: I told you, my name's Lou.

The scary thing is how closely this resembles most of my support calls.

Posted by scott at 08:54 AM | Comments (1)
Belly Dancing In China

See the slide show!

A shimmy-shimmy No-Prize to my mom for the link!

Posted by Ellen at 06:54 AM | Comments (1)