Just click the link for the full image.
I am not putting it on the front page in case it may cause sudden blindness.
Like getting a first down because your quarterback fumbled the ball in the right direction, it's not how you wanted to get it, but you'll take it:
For 26 years Joyce Urch of Coventry, England, listened to her family grow — five kids, 12 grandkids, three great-grandkids.
She listened, but she couldn't see them. Blinded by a hereditary illness, Joyce was resigned to a life of blackness.
Then one day, she was rushed to the hospital with chest pains. Doctors described her as lifeless. She had suffered a heart attack and kidney failure.
Then Urch woke up after a lifesaving operation and opened her eyes. She could see.
Miracle? Science? Who knows?
Scientific American is carrying this article summarizing recent discoveries in how viruses can cause obesity. Yep, viruses.
Hey, if someone told me twenty years ago that stomach ulcers were caused by bacteria, I wouldn't have believed them either. Ya just never know...
So what does it mean when you see sneakers hanging from powerlines? It would seem nobody knows for sure. I first noticed this sort of thing five, maybe six years ago near our old apartment. I've seen them elsewhere now, I figured because of some copycat instinct.
Me, I'm impressed people can toss them up there without some sort of handle or clamp. Then again, I have trouble walking and chewing gum at the same time, so I guess you'd say I'm easily impressed by this sort of thing.
Having lived with a woman in the late stages of pregnancy, I can say this would be plenty reason enough to finish up early:
A pregnant Steelers fan is not letting the birth of her baby get in the way of the Super Bowl celebrations.
She convinced her doctor to induce her early, so she'll be home in time to watch the Super Bowl with all of her friends.
Yeah, that's it. She just wanted to watch the ball game. Getting rid of a squirming multi-pound mass that's been stomping on her insides for the past few months doesn't factor in at all.
BBCnews is carrying this article on the development of a working "artificial gill", potentially allowing human divers the ability to breathe underwater without the need for tanks. The technology is still in its primitive stages, and the article has a litany of things which need to be addressed before the diving community at large will start to take it seriously.
Hey, alls I can say is at $100,000, it better come with its own groupies and tour bus.
Of course, this could simply be showing my ignorance of the "l33t" hand-built guitar industry. In my own hobby spheres, I'm not even sure it's possible to pay that much for a new bicycle, but it's quite easy to drop that kind of money on hi-fi equipment. Not that I will, mind you.
While not exactly pigs, snails flying are still rather interesting:
Somehow, the animal kingdom's least-likely island-hopping creatures — land snails — have managed to jump from Europe to the Azores, then leap 6,000 miles of snail-dissolving ocean to the isolated Tristan da Cunha island group, deep in the South Atlantic.
There have been wind tunnel studies of how far juvenile snails from Greek Islands can blow in the wind. It has been calculated that small snails can be blown more than 10 miles.
"In the Pacific we have even tinier snails," said [University of Hawaii snail researcher Robert Cowie]. "What's more, most of them live in trees, where they could conceivably be caught on a freed leaf during a hurricane and carried for thousands of miles.
Goblin did not appreciate being a super hero's sidekick!
Note to self: Cats do not like to be tossed like a lightning bolt.
The Australians would, of course, place sports higher than the Pope. Then again, so would most Americans.
Having gotten angst-ed up over their selfish response to their teenage years (the hippie generation), then over their selfish response to early adulthood (the "me" decade of the 70s), then over their own children's equally self-involved narcissism as they grew up (the yuppie and soccer-mom riven 80s and 90s), boomers now seem to have moved smartly on into self-obsessed grand-parenthood:
The new G-Mother -- that's a hipper moniker, don't you think? -- has short red hair, a Mini Cooper, frequent-flier miles, and an iPod in her Kate Spade bag. The average age of a first-time grandparent today is 47, which was, incidentally, the average life expectancy just a century ago. We are the same age our grandmothers were, but we're in the middle of our lives, not at the end.
Look, I'd love to nip over and whisper secrets into 1-month-old Maggie's ears, or to dress 2-year-old Ryan in the black leather jacket I bought her recently and take her to look for late blackberries in Golden Gate Park on my bike (with its deluxe new kid seat). But I have a job. I'm a reporter, I have two books to write, a husband who wants to go to France, and I just bought an investment property in Portland, Oregon. I love my grandchildren, but being a grandmother got added to my to-do list.
The crass materialism, let alone the staggering self-involvement, would be funny if it weren't quite obvious the author is deadly serious.
I think the whole thing is more about who a very wealthy woman in her fifties living in San Francisco associates with than it is any sort of generalization about her generation at large. Suzanne is ... ahem ... around that age and is quite enthusiastic about being a grandmother. Her older sister is just tickled about being a great aunt. My own mom, who technically isn't a boomer but can definitely see them from there, is fairly nuts about both her grandkids.
So why my own broadside at the start of this article? Keep in mind it's people like this, people who have to "place limits" on their grandparent duties, who by and large are chronicling their generation's progress through history. The boomers seem like narcissists with their lips superglued to the mirror because the people who write about them are narcissists with their lips superglued to the mirror.
Which I guess is to say, NORMAL PEOPLE OF AMERICA BORN BETWEEN 1946 AND 1964: GET OFF YOUR BUTTS AND START WRITING BOOKS BEFORE MS. ADAIR LARA AND HER ILK RUIN YOUR GENERATION FOR ALL TIME!
Thank you, thank you. We'll be here all week. Try the veal!
Via Dr. Helen
Slashdot (of course) linked up this positively brilliant video satire of "elite" role-play gamers. I'd like to think I wasn't that nerdy when I was in college. Of course, I also like to think I am God's gift to womankind.
Prevarication, in cases like this, is always a positive.
I also liked this comment from the Slashdot article: "I have to admit, the best thing about being a geek/nerd is that I love to see myself made fun of. I absolutely die laughing and love it. Any other stereotype gets offended whenever you make fun of them. And if you can't be lighthearted about everything, then you're going to have a hell of a time making it through life."
Yeah, it's a little like that. Well, a lot like that, actually.
An alternate method of accessing the video is here.
The thing is, nobody's sure:
University of Georgia archaeologists have been puzzling over finding an apparent manmade object buried in a historic Civil War cemetery.
Ground-penetrating radar on parts of Myrtle Hill Cemetery, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, found a reflection that did not look like a grave during a scan of two Civil War grave sites earlier this month.
"There definitely is something manmade there, something big and metal," said Sheldon Skaggs, a member of the archaeologist team. "Now we have to determine what it is."
Which shows that the field has indeed come a long way in the past twenty years. When I was an undergrad, the first step in the survey would've been to hammer a rod into the ground in a regular pattern. That would've revealed a solid mass, and its rough outline. The next step would've been to dig some small exploratory trenches (oftentimes with a backhoe, for speed). If that revealed anything interesting it'd be off to the lab and offices to gin up a grant proposal to fund a full dig.
Nowadays it would seem they pay a few grad students to drag a lawn mower-sized gizmo back and forth, and then work from that. Ain't technology grand?
Hey, you know if the picture os by Sigurour Stefnisson, it's gotta be good. No, really!
Why yes, Olivia did get a big fat wet snake kiss from Cornbread.
When Ellen's away, daddy gets to play, this time with pictures taken during yesterday's daddy day. Why is she in just a diaper? It's the only thing I didn't worry about her staining. Note also the ballet shoes. One must, of course, accessorize.
Check out an artist's rendition of what the space elevator will look like.
No, if you press the button more than once it won't make the elevator move faster.
"We'd like to give this animal the name colossal squid in order to have a common name for it as opposed to just the scientific name," said Kat Bolstad, research associate at Auckland University of Technology.
"We feel that colossal conveys both the size and the aggressiveness of the animal.
"This animal, armed as it is with the hooks and the beak that it has, not only is colossal in size but is going to be a phenomenal predator and something you are not going to want to meet in the water."
Read article here.
No, really, when octopus attack:
Rare video footage shows a giant octopus attacking a small submarine off the west coast of Vancouver Island.
Salmon researchers working on the Brooks Peninsula were shocked last November when an octopus attacked their expensive and sensitive equipment.
One would expect the scientists to "ooh" and "ahh" while the octo taste-tested their equipment. One would be wrong:
"I go full reverse and blast him with all these seabed particles," said [Mike Wood], describing the attack shown in the video. "Finally, he lets go and disappears off into the gloom.
"It was desperation. It's a $200,000 machine, and it's not insured," said Wood, who runs SubOceanic Sciences Canada in Duncan, B.C.
That sounds like a Discovery channel documentary-in-the-making!
Grand Prize: A trip to space. Really! Be one of the first space tourists to revel in this once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Did I enter? Damned right I did. Which means nobody else can. I wanna win, ya know?
One of the more regular arguments against imposing term limits on congress is that it would put the bureaucrats in charge, effectively exchanging being governed by used car salesmen with being governed by the post office (staffed by vogons). I'd never found any counter-arguments, until now:
To judge any proposed reform, it should be compared with what currently exists. As things stand today, Congressional staffers are often young people with little or no experience in the real world outside of politics, and often their skills are largely confined to political skills, with their highest priority being to get their bosses re-elected.
Some people still have Utopian ideals of a government run by ordinary folks. But when making serious decisions in real life, we go to people who know what they are doing -- whether what we want is a transmission fixed or medical treatment.
It took the Democrats some fifty years in power to become so rotten they started to frighten small children. With the advantages of Democratically-engineered post-Watergate reforms, it took the Republicans a little more than a decade to do the same. Considering the three most likely ways of getting a Congressman out of his job are death, retirement, and scandal (in that order), perhaps it's time to re-open the whole idea of tossing them out on a regular schedule.
Japanese beer maker Asahi plans to give away 5000 personal bartending bots, each of which can store up to six cans of beer in a refrigerated compartment within its belly. At the push of a button the simple robots will open a can and pour the chilled contents into a glass for a thirsty owner.
Then again, you do have to load the thing from time to time, so I guess the wife and kids will come in handy, at least occasionally.
Oink oink oink.
Suzanne gets a naughty no-prize for bringing us this classic "close call" joke.
Oh be quiet. I saw you smile.
Fans of the decrepit and decayed (you know who you are) should find The Unquiet Tomb of interest. Pictures of old, abandoned tombs and other structures are interesting to me anyway. And really, what else is required?
While this MSNBC article on the 7 "myths" of the Challenger shuttle explosion doesn't contain much new information, it is a concise summary of all the things which have been discovered since that fateful day twenty years ago. I remember sitting in my high school library trying to do research for my very first "term paper" when the school secretary ran in and started babbling to my English teacher about a "shuttle exploding". I just rolled my eyes thinking how the press always screws things up, exaggerating what was most likely some sort of stupid little fire on the pad.
See? I have a long track record of getting breaking events 180 degrees wrong.
I saw a few years ago on NBC that to this day chunks of Challenger wash up on Florida beaches after most big storms.
What a dog. You will be missed.
The Rainbows Bridge Poem
Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge.
When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge. There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so they can run and play together. There is plenty of food, water and sunshine, and our friends are warm and comfortable.
All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigor. Those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by. The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing; they each miss someone very special to them, who had to be left behind.
They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance. His bright eyes are intent. His eager body quivers. Suddenly he begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass, his legs carrying him faster and faster.
You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again. The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head, and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart.
Then you cross Rainbow Bridge together....
The Rainbows Bridge Poem
Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge. When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge. There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so they can run and play together. There is plenty of food, water and sunshine, and our friends are warm and comfortable. All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigor. Those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by. The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing; they each miss someone very special to them, who had to be left behind.
They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance. His bright eyes are intent. His eager body quivers. Suddenly he begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass, his legs carrying him faster and faster.
You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again. The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head, and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart.
Then you cross Rainbow Bridge together....
Instapundit linked up this fact-check smack-down related to the formation of a "new" national police force that will proceed to tap phones, sniff networks, read mail, stare in windows, bash in doors, and take us away to gulags hidden in the North Dakota hills.
All of which could, of course, lead to dancing.
Two words: Fish. School. No, no, not "school of". Just, like, school. For fish.
What's next? Vo-tech for hermit crabs?
Space.com is carrying this article summarizing the announcement of plans to build a new Mars probe with a rather explosive technique:
Now, researchers led by Phil Christensen at Arizona State University in Tempe, US, are proposing a mission to search for that ice directly. The idea behind THOR (Tracing Habitability, Organics, and Resources) is to fly an observer spacecraft to Mars and, hours before it reaches the planet, release an "impactor" ball. It could be up to 230 kilograms in mass and would be aimed at a region about 40° north or south of the equator.
I keep getting this vision of a green Coyote looking up, then looking at the camera, then opening a very tiny umbrella and closing his eyes.
And about Bill Clinton . . . . You know, I really think he should have been impeached, but not for a blow job. His policies are responsible for killing more Iraqis that George Bush. [-- Cindy Sheehan]
Just take aim and fire away dear. Eventually you'll end up hitting something important. Maybe.
As far as I'm concerned the whole Sheehan debacle had far less to do with a mother mourning her son than it did with a press corps getting dragged out into the middle of Texas for a month.
All those Britons who snickered or jeered over the recent dust-ups over here about evolution and intelligent design are pleased to be sitting down and shutting the hell up now:
More than half the British population does not accept the theory of evolution, according to a survey.
Furthermore, more than 40% of those questioned believe that creationism or intelligent design should be taught in school science lessons.
One of those "Ha-ha... rmmm... oh boy..." sort of moments.
Remember that whole "where is George?" site? You know, the one where you enter the serial number of a dollar bill and find out where it's been? Turns out it's actually useful for something:
Dirk Brockmann and colleagues used an online project called www.wheresgeorge.com (George Washington's image is on the $1 bill) to track the movements of dollar bills by serial number. Visitors to the site enter the serial number of banknotes in their possession and can see where else the note may have been.
The team tracked 464,670 dollar bills across the US using 1,033,095 individual reports. The fact the notes are carried by people suggests it is a good way of modelling other things that people may carry, including disease.
Mine are very easy to track, describing the shortest possible path from my wallet to Ellen's purse. Unless she wants to give me some lunch money, that is.
... "Goat - it isn't just for breakfast any more." [Both English and Arabic versions]
"The road to Paradise begins with me." [Mostly Arabic versions but some in English. Some show sniper scope cross-hairs]
"Guns don't kill people. I kill people." [Both Arabic and English versions]...
I've seen a few of these available here in the states, but I do agree with Jason that if this really is a problem it's probably a good thing someone's taking steps. It's one thing to offend some soft-headed liberal arts & crafts sophomore at an anti-war rally in Berkeley. It's quite another to offend an Arab holding an AK-47.
Discovery Channel on-line is carrying this summary of new discoveries in Martian climatology. By simply varying the axial tilt of the planet to 45 degrees (from the current 25-and-change), a team of scientists was able to model the creation of glaciers that appear to mimic the ones which left evidence on the planet long ago. No extra water was required. Since Mars does not have a large moon with which to stablize its orbit, these scientists say the planet probably regularly "wobbles off" to these extremes at random times.
~ We love the mooooon / 'cos it is good to us ~
They call it a beachcomber’s dream, but the chances of finding it, are slim to none. This is why a recent find at Streaky Bay of the rare substance ambergris, which is essentially sperm whale vomit, is a coup for a South Australian fishing family.
The South Australian West Coast ambergris weighs around 14.75 kilograms.
Mr Jury says that SA Director of Fisheries Will Zacharin has quoted his estimate of the price of ambergris at approximately US$20-a-gram.
The stuff's used in perfumes, and it has a really appetising "manufacturing" process. And to think we make fun of how loud Olivia burps...
Fark linked up this article detailing the discovery of a large medieval cemetary found in central England. With more than 1300 bodies to study, the find should yield a great deal of information about how these people really lived.
My first attempt in making a belly dance belt
More to come as the belt gets more elaborate
Any article that starts like this, "These are gallstones," say Lenore Barbian. "They're from President Eisenhower.", has got to be worth at least a second glance, and this detailed article on the Smithsonian Institute's lesser-known collections and museums does not disappoint.
It's easy to forget that this grand museum complex was created in the heart of the 19th century, when empires and robber barons ruled the land and P.T. Barnum's museum was considered the benchmark of what such things should be. Certainly the PC-groupthink of the last thirty years of the 20th century scrubbed away the most colorful bits. But they weren't discarded, they're just hidden in obscure corners and hard-to-reach places. Knowing where to look is half the fun.
Human eyes possess destructive power of laser
It was known long ago that people could kill with their eyes
Hey, it's in Pravda! It's gotta be true!
Actually, I know it's not, because if it was my wife would've been in jail long, long ago.
Fark linked up news Howard Stern's replacement in the New York area isn't doing so well:
My sources at 92.3 Free FM - formerly K-Rock - tell me that the former Van Halen front man and his manager, Matt Sencio, "are totally out of control and out of their league when it comes to producing a radio show," as one disgruntled employee put it.
Roth's had a reputation for being like this for years and years, so I guess I'm surprised that anyone is actually surprised.
Pat gets an honest no-prize for bringing us news of a new report on how the Iraq reconstruction effort was handled:
In the document, the paralyzing effect of staffing shortfalls and contracting battles between the State Department and the Pentagon, creating delays of months at a stretch, are described for the first time from inside the program.
The document also recounts concerns about writing contracts for an entity with the "ambiguous legal status" of the Coalition Provisional Authority, the question of whether it was an American entity or a multinational one like NATO.
Seemingly odd decisions on dividing the responsibility for various sectors of the reconstruction crop up repeatedly in the document...
The parallels between this and essentially every other reconstruction effort the US has ever tried, from Vietnam to Korea to Japan and Germany to the American South right back to the Revolutionary war itself is quite striking. Judged against our own expectations, America hasn't done a very good job of this sort of thing, ever. Then again, when one considers the current status of all these countries with which we have meddled after an armed conflict and then compares them with, say, the stewardships of France or Spain, we perhaps have not done so badly after all.
There are even echoes of this sort of incompetence and back-biting in the records of far older conflicts such as the Peloponnesian and Persian wars of ancient Greece. Nation-building by consensus would seem to be a messy, inefficient process fraught with hidden expense and danger.
Which is to say, it is essentially like any other complex human endeavour which requires very large numbers of people and very large sums of money to complete. This is not unusual, this is normal. Little surprise then that the New York Times presents these findings as new and startling, as I'm sure will every other mainstream media outlet. "Man bites dog" reporting at its finest.
“Crash programs fail because they are based on theory that, with nine women pregnant, you can get a baby a month.” -- Werner Von Braun
Lodi resident Curtis Gokey filed a claim against the city this month because his parked pickup was struck and dented by a city vehicle. Estimated damages: $3,630.48.
City officials said normally they would consider paying that type of claim, but not this time. Gokey just happened to be driving the city truck that backed into his pickup on Dec. 31 at the Municipal Service Center.
It's not quite as straightforward as the intro would have you believe, but it doesn't lack much.
Scripting tools + too much time + too much talent = a phone number you can call to post anonymous voice mail messages onto a website. Can you say "defamation, death threats, then de-activation"? I knew you could...
While hope has pretty much been lost for Toga, a three-month-old Jackass penguin stolen from Amazon World zoo in the UK, the parents, at least, seem to have moved on:
The parents of a baby penguin, whose theft from a zoo just before Christmas attracted worldwide attention, have produced a new egg.
Something tells me this is going to be one safe little penguin baby.
A poster showing the backside of a naked woman created for a charity event sponsored by the Orange County Sheriff's Office prompted complaints after it was posted in public, according to a Local 6 News report.
When taken together with the poster's slogan, I thought it quite chuckle-worthy.
Oink oink oink...
Slashdot linked up this detailed Popular Mechanics article from none other than Buzz Aldrin, detailing an innovative plan to get people to Mars. His central proposal? Creating a "cycling" craft which constantly travels between Mars and Earth. While complex, the proposal does away with the need to build the super-massive and super-complex spacecraft that would be required to shoot the whole thing there from Earth.
For proof the US isn't the only country in the world with a self-contradictory citizenship, we only have to examine this Reuters news story on a recently-opened KFC in Damascus:
"To be honest we were surprised they opened this American restaurant in the midst of our political situation," said Tareq Farzat, 25, adding that he liked his Chicken Burger Combo and would definitely return to KFC with his friend Kalam.
The main difference being, I suppose, that when the self-appointed elite of this country get pissed off at the plebes, all they do is whine. Arab elite tend to have a rather different way of expressing their displeasure...
Cats always seem to help when sewing impliments are out.
Fark linked up this MSNBC article detailing a novel, albeit not unexpected, use of a ratings website:
Angelica is a shade over 5½ feet tall. She is in her late 20s, and she has straight brown hair down to the middle of her back. She has an athletic body with surgically sculpted breasts. She sports a few tattoos but no pubic hair, and her belly button is pierced.
For the right price — which she pegs at $350 an hour, to start — Angelica will have sex with you.
We know all this about Angelica because she is a professional escort, and you can read what her customers say about her on Web sites where men who purchase such services gather to review and rate thousands of working ladies like her.
One of the biggest sections in the Northern Virginia yellow pages is dedicated to escort services, and almost every regional "boutique" magazine advertises for them as well. I personally have no problem with what two consenting adults do to, with, or for each other (as long as they stay out of the hospital or the morgue anyway), but I've always been puzzled how these people stay out of jail.
Then again, considering just how much money is floating around the escort world, perhaps I shouldn't be.
A tabloid reporter has been arrested at Buckingham Palace on suspicion of falsifying details on a job application, Scotland Yard has said.
The News of the World said that its reporter Bethany Usher had been investigating palace security.
Of course, a story which reassures us all that at least some folks are on the ball about security is just not interesting enough, right?
And to think all I ever managed was to build various sized walls. By the time I was old enough to follow directions, I had moved to scale plastic models (which were a whole lot more popular back in the 70s). Plus my parents had gotten so sick of stepping on stray legos I think they'd banned them from the house.
Slashdot posted up news that everyone's favorite gay Trek actor is going to be playing the role again:
Star Trek: New Voyages has announced several new additions, including original series writer David Gerrold and original series actor George Takei (Sulu).
No, I'd never heard of it either. Apparently its some sort of fan-produced series. Considering Paramount's well-deserved reputation for being absolutely savage protecting its Star Trek franchise, I'm quite surprised this is even allowed to exist.
Takei was on the Howard Stern show for a whole week after Stern moved to Sirius, and he was really an amazingly good sport about it all. Nice to see he gets to continue working with a character he seems to enjoy.
Siflay posted up this list of how to be a good Democrat. Democrats who actually read down to the bottom of the first list should be pleasantly surprised by the second.
France said on Thursday it would be ready to use nuclear weapons against any state that carried out a terrorist attack against it, reaffirming the need for its nuclear deterrent.
Deflecting criticism of France's costly nuclear arms program, President Jacques Chirac said security came at a price and France must be able to hit back hard at a hostile state's centers of power and its "capacity to act."
He said there was no change in France's overall policy, which rules out the use of nuclear weapons in a military conflict. But his speech pointed to a change of emphasis to underline the growing threat France perceives from terrorism.
Scoff if you will, but France definitely has a history of bitch-slapping third-world nations and NGOs who push them around long enough and hard enough (c.f. Vietnam, Algeria, Greenpeace, &c.) If the turban twirlers managed to blow up Notre Dame or pulled of something equally spectacular, I wouldn't put it past them to glassify a country or two in response.
Via Clayton Cramer (through Instapundit).
Terry O'Neill, 50, of Pittsburgh, was watching the game at a bar and had a heart attack seconds after Jerome Bettis fumbled trying to score from the 2-yard line late in the fourth quarter. Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger prevented the Colts' Nick Harper from returning the recovered ball for a touchdown and the Steelers hung on for a 21-18 win.
Ron and I were watching this game and we were shouting at the TV as it happened, and we didn't particularly care who won. A great game if you weren't a truFantm. A miserable one if you were.
Intel lost significant share to Advanced Micro Devices in the U.S. retail market in the fourth quarter, according to figures released Wednesday by Current Analysis.
Say it ain't so!
New Scientist is carrying this report discussing new discoveries related to toxoplasmosis, cats, rats, and human schizophrenia:
Antipsychotic drugs can limit the behavioural abnormalities associated with a parasitic infection called toxoplasmosis in some rats – the condition causes them to become “suicidally” attracted to cats. The findings provide insight into a possible cause of schizophrenia, say the researchers behind the new study.
While the article's author does throw in a reference to everyone's favorite cat-blamer E. Fuller Torrey, the authors of the study take pains to point out in no way are they trying to implicate toxo infections as a cause of schizophrenia. From the article, it would appear more likely that the toxo parasite perhaps does something that manipulates at least some of the same brain areas, causing a disease which is quite similar. A subtle difference, but quite important for future research.
Plus the whole concept of a parasite that tricks its host into becoming attracted to a specific kind of predator just to complete its life cycle is just amazing. Sounds like something out of a Star Trek episode.
Awhile back someone challenged me to explain how, if given the opportunity, I'd fix what I percieve as a failling public school system. This ABC News report from John Stossel, based on his "Stupid in America" TV special, does a much better job detailing the problem, and possible solutions.
To this day I have yet to hear a convincing argument against some sort of voucher-type program. They seem to work in Europe. Why not here?
Shock wave generators are capable of producing focused acoustic or electromagnetic energy that can break up objects such as kidney stones and other similar materials. EMP generators can produce pulses of electromagnetic energy that can destroy the sensitive electronics in computers and microprocessors. Destabilized LCR circuits can produce multi megawatt pulses by using an explosive wire disruptive switch. These high power pulses can be coupled into antennas, conic sections, horns etc for very directional effects.
Funny thing is, one of these would probably fry the barely-functioning radio in the Spider, but otherwise it would start and drive off like nothing special had happened.
Well, when it starts, that is.
Dancing to "My Humps" no less! Hysterical! Not to miss!
WHOOO! Big day for AMCGLTD with photos! We needed a huge update on all the critters in the menagarie.
Perhaps if I am up to it, I will take some photos of the primate later this week.
That's if she is not flinging poo. Potty training is such a bitch!
I know there are a few people out there who won't use my sink again.
GOD Mom!!! Close the door! Can't you see I need some privacy!
YES, his name is Perry. He told me that today. No really. He told me. Put the butterfly net down please, he TOLD me!
Doesn't everyone talk to their goldfish?
Doesn't everyone's goldfish talk to them?
Zookeepers at Tokyo's Mutsugoro Okoku zoo presented the hamster -- whose name means "meal" in Japanese -- to Aochan as a tasty morsel in October, after the snake refused to eat frozen mice.
But instead of indulging, Aochan decided to make friends with the furry rodent, according to keeper Kazuya Yamamoto. The pair have shared a cage since.
See article with uber cute pix here.
Unlike a certain ball python *cough-Pokey-cough* won't eat ANYTHING right now. No carrots, no mice, no jelly bean, no M&M's**. We are tired of offering her everything in site. So last night, I shoved a mouse down her throat. Well, I force fed her in a gentle way with a thawed mouse and a chopstick. When it was all done she looked up at me in a very annoyed manner and back under her water dish she went! ** It's a Joke people!**
In the "don't laugh at goofy research, you never know where it may lead" category, we have scientists trying to figure out why deer antlers grow. Sound stupid? Let's re-phrase it: scientists are trying to figure out how to re-grow body parts, and the deer is the only mammal in the world that does it once a year for its entire life.
Not so stupid now, eh?
I just received a note that there's finally a book out about Alfa's Tipo 33 prototype racers. These vehicles eventually dominated prototype racing in the mid-70s, winning two world championships, yet almost nothing has been written about them. Looks like that's finally changed.
I wonder if I can get them to send me a review copy?
The world's first elevators controlled by magnetic levitation will debut as early as 2008, a Tokyo-based company said Tuesday.
Toshiba Elevator and Building Systems Corp. will employ so-called maglev technology -- capable of suspending objects in mid-air through the combination of magnetic attraction and repulsion -- to control the lifts, it said in a statement.
Regular mechanical elevators have several different safety interlocks to prevent a fall. I'm quite interested in what sort of failsafe mechanisms are installed on this system, which on the face of it requires electricity to work at all.
Fark linked up this collection of high-speed "impact" pictures. All I can say is the person holding some of those objects is either really brave or really stupid!
Population bomb: burst. Peak oil: purged. Fine! Fine! Laugh while you can, copper-boy:
Copper is used in everything from automobiles to ordnance ... So copper serves as an excellent metallic bellwether for potential future resource scarcity, according to a group of researchers who compiled data on its extraction, use, recycling and discard to estimate whether there is enough copper available to make a developed standard of living available to all the world's people. The short answer is: no.
The short answer is, as usual, misleading. The somewhat longer answer would be "not at present consumption levels."
As long as markets are allowed to work, we will not run out of copper. As copper becomes scarce, its price will rise. As its price rises, its consumption will decrease, reducing demand, and therefore price. If its price stays high, alternatives will be developed which will be cheaper than copper. This will further reduce demand, effectively increasing supply, thereby reducing prices even more.
The ultimate result? Over time, copper prices will fall. Not might, not should, will.
More neo-con pap? A fine example of what watching too much Fox News will do to a person?
Hey man, whatever helps you sleep at night.
What better place for a man who fakes cloning results than a cult which fakes cloning results:
South Korean cloning expert Hwang Woo-suk, a science superstar disgraced when his pioneering stem cell research was unmasked as a hoax, has a new job offer from a UFO cult that says it has produced six human clones.
Clonaid, a company linked to a group that believes humans were cloned from prehistoric alien visitors to Earth, said it had offered him a post in one of its laboratories.
Fark linked up this MSNBC article detailing a new genetic study which links as many as one in twelve Irish men with a single fifth-century Irish king. An Irish king, it should be noted, who up until now was thought to be essentially nothing but a legend.
Space.com is carrying this as-it-happens weblog of today's New Horizons space probe launch. If all goes as planned, the probe should be sent on its way in about 30 minutes. Keep your fingers crossed!
Regular exercise may reduce the risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease in the elderly by as much as 40%, according to a new study. And the effect is even more pronounced for those who are more frail, say the researchers.
The US team, at Group Health Cooperative in Seattle, studied a group of 1740 people aged 65 or over, all of whom began the study with good cognitive function.
So don't just sit there, exercise! :)
The Holy Land Experience is a living, biblical history museum that takes you 7,000 miles away and 2,000 years back in time to the land of the Bible. Its unique combination of sights, sounds, and tastes stimulate your senses and blend together to create a spectacular, new experience. But above all, beyond the fun and excitement, it is our sincere hope that you will see God and His World exalted -- that you will be encouraged in your search for enduring truth and the ultimate meaning of life. The Holy Land Experience is a Bible-believing, Christ-centered ministry.
But not, it would appear, one which believes in using text in web pages. Who the heck told them God wanted it all in .gif files?
When I read about the recently passed "Wal Mart health care bill" in the Post, I merely smirked with that infuriating smile I get when liberal politicians cock a pistol aimed at their own feet. Mostly I was thinking "congratulations, Maryland, your legislature just handed you an 8% price hike!" But, as with all policies created by weak minds with good intent, that's just the start:
If Wal-Mart is forced to increase the share of compensation that comes in the form of health benefits, then it will have to decrease take-home pay. If it cannot decrease take-home pay, then it will have to reduce its reliance on low-skilled labor or cut back on operations altogether.
The law requires Wal-Mart to spend 8 percent of its payroll on health care, whether or not this is enough to keep its workers from needing to rely on Medicaid. If Wal-Mart came up with a way to provide outstanding health care to its workers for 6 percent of its payroll, it would be in violation of the law unless it found a way to waste the other 2 percent on unnecessary health care. Conversely, if Wal-Mart offers a really lousy health plan, it would be in compliance with the law as long as it spent 8 percent.
According to an April 17, 2004 article in The New York Times (of all places), it's estimated sales at Wal Mart stores helped lower the national inflation rate by as much as 1 percent per year in the previous decade. Stick that in your "Wal Mart's the next great corporate satan" pipe and smoke it.
Thing is, this loopy bit of legislation is considered a model for dozens of states across the country. Time to ring up my state congressman...
Remember kids, eat your fruits and vegetables:
A lad who only ate chips, toast and baked beans was killed by his junk diet — aged just 20.
After years of unhealthy eating, Scott Martin’s liver began to fail, he developed hepatitis and his blood would not clot.
Sixteen-stone Scott refused a life-saving liver transplant because he was too scared and was so weak he needed a wheelchair.
The longer I think about this, the less I believe this was just caused by overeating. The parents claim he wasn't much of a drinker (what the heck is the drinking age in the UK anyway?), but I actually know someone who's diet isn't much better than this guy's was and, while not exactly healthy, he's nowhere near a liver-damaged invalid. There's something else going on here.
In a nutshell: Maybe if I say disaster is inevitable, you'll listen:
We are in a fool's climate, accidentally kept cool by smoke, and before this century is over billions of us will die and the few breeding pairs of people that survive will be in the Arctic where the climate remains tolerable.
Or, at least, buy my book:
My new book The Revenge of Gaia expands these thoughts, but you still may ask why science took so long to recognise the true nature of the Earth...
I can remember reading The Late Great Planet Earth, and then hearing a lot about The Population Bomb. Both predicted imminent apocalypse in a sort of right-left tennis match of doom and gloom, both settling on a time between 1983 and 1992 for the final volley. As with essentially all predictions of this sort, history obstinately refused to end, as it will again today.
The advent of market economics and modern weaponry have made western civilization remarkably resilient. We ceased being vulnerable to outside human forces perhaps five centuries ago, and to outside environmental ones perhaps four after that. If the 20th century proved anything it proved the only time we're now in real danger is when we actualy listen to people who predict apocalypse and try to act on their "exclusive, imperative" solutions.
If Christianity hadn't grown up as Rome was falling to ruin, I often wonder if we would be quite this fascinated with the end times. Certainly no great Eastern religion is so luridly in love with its own demise.
But if you actually do believe this tripe, by all means buy the book, build a shelter, stockpile to your heart's content. You'll at least be keeping one old British coot off the street and providing jobs to who knows how many survivalist industries in the meantime. And maybe the rest of us will finally get some peace.
Scott was cleaning out more photo space for me on my photo computer and he came across this!
Of course Olivia looks at the picture and says "Oh Gramma!!"
Ron gets a sleek n' sexy no-prize for bringing us this look at Ferrari's latest:
The Ferrari 599 GTB will have class-leading power thanks to its 5,999cc V12 (derived directly from the Enzo Ferrari supercar), a motor that produces no less than 620hp at 7,600 rpm for a weight/power ratio of just 2.6 kg per horsepower.
No price listed, but hey, it's a Ferrari. You can't have one.
Yes, this is the BASE piece to a dance costume for June.
This morning started off so well. I got up, walked the dog, got Starbucks, and was sitting down to start working away (no, really!) when I heard it. The dreaded, "Sweeeeeetie... come here and look at this." No good can come from that statement. It normally involves some sort of repair to our condo, some mess that I've left which now Must Be Cleaned, or something that's up with one of our menagerie. As you may well figure out, none of these qualify as a Very Good Thing.
So, being a dutiful husband, in I go. Amber's leaning over the bed (minds out of the gutters, pervs) looking at Garrison*, who is, oddly enough, just laying there. Those of you familiar with him will note that his "just laying somewhere" is not the normal state of affairs. So, as she's looking at him, he is pronounced to be Not Well**. Seeing as a diabetic kitty being Not Well is a Very Bad Thing, calls are immediately placed to Ellen and it's decided he must be seen immediately. Again, being dutiful and having the luxury of working out of my home office, I volunteer to drive him to the clinic. The only problem is that I have a conference call with my boss and his boss at the same time I'm supposed to be driving. Shouldn't be a problem, I think to myself.
So, off we go. I've got Garrison in his little kitty transport thingee, I've got all the notes I should need (not that I can refer to them when driving, but if the call runs long, I can continue to talk from the clinic), directions (damn HOV lanes), etc. Now, it should be known that Garrison isn't big on car rides. They annoy him. It should also be known that he's very vocal. Vocal to the point that people on the phone with us think we have a screaming child in the background (we don't). However, for now at least, he's being quiet. Then I dialed into the call. Every point I made, every time I agreed to something, everything I said was accompanied by a rather loud "mmmrrrroooowwww" in the background. Now, mind you, I did let my boss know what I was doing, but I don't think he expected that this was what I meant.
After siren kitty was dropped off, I ran on home, got settled in, and started to work. And then the phone rings.
"I need Garrison's insulin."
"His insulin. That stuff you have to inject into him twice a day?"
"Has that bird incident whacked you out?"
"WTF? Just bring me his damn insulin."
So, back into the car I go and I drive the 30 or so miles to deliver his "extra special kitty formulated from the compassion of conservatives, the good sense of liberals, the wings of celestial beings, &c., which is why it costs so !@#$@!$%^ much" insulin. Then, I drive the whole way back home. Mind you, I've got reports and other things due for work and I've just spent roughly half my day driving this cat around town.
Diagnosis comes in - UTI, potential pancreatitus, probable other nastiness that I don't understand because I'm not a vet tech, that kinda thing. Give him certain drugs at certain times and he should be fine.
However, I get tapped to go pick him up so he won't have to spend too long in his kitty transport thingee. I drive over and Ellen starts explaining the kitty meds to me. It goes something like this:
"Now, he needs to get this at blah blah blah blah blah....."
"Ellen, I realize that this is what you do for a living, but you do realize that all I'm going to do is have Amber call you, don't you?"
"Yes, however, he gets blah blah blah blah blah..... opoid"
"No. An opoid."
"No. And no, it won't get you stoned. Now listen. He get blah blah blah blah blah....."
After roughly 5 minutes of me politely nodding my head to stuff that I have zero chance of remembering, we pack things up. Garrison and the drugs (morphine) make it to the car and we start on our way home. He starts with his vocal-ness. I turn up the radio. And apparently, since this makes his annoying-ness go down, he decides to up the ante.
He pees in my car.
To be more accurate, he pees in my Company Car.
Mind you, I hate this car. It's a Ford Taurus, quite possibly the blandest designed piece of crap ever made. It's spent fully 10% of the time I've had it at the mechanic - and it still doesn't work right. However, I have to drive people around in this thing occasionally. And the cat has peed in it.
Welcome to the world of cat gratitude.-----
**PSA - anytime a cat has a marked change in behavior and appears sick, take them immediately to a vet. Apparently, cats are asymptomatic (show no signs of being sick until it's Very Bad), so when they act sick, they're already in trouble.
News: Members of congress visit foreign country on a fact-finding mission to discuss trade and security matters.
Punch line: They're Democrats, and they're visiting Jamaica.
Oh I know the Repubs are in a lot more trouble over stuff like this, but you only point this out because you don't remember what the Democratic congress that came before it was like. Or the Republican one before that. Or the Democratic one before that.
See a pattern here?
When Bush's "Great Wiretap Scandal" broke I pretty much ignored it because, in my opinion, it wasn't a helluva lot different than what the Clinton administration did with Echelon. The fact that everyone who dislikes/disagrees with/wishes to burn in effigee/I'm-not-saying-the-next-thing-because-they're-listening Bush was flipping out, in the same way the right flipped out over Echelon years ago, to me simply provided more proof my Great Circle of Political Belief theorem* was correct.
Of course, that doesn't mean I'm going to give the other side a pass, and I'm not the only one:
The controversy following revelations that U.S. intelligence agencies have monitored suspected terrorist related communications since 9/11 reflects a severe case of selective amnesia by the New York Times and other media opponents of President Bush. They certainly didn’t show the same outrage when a much more invasive and indiscriminate domestic surveillance program came to light during the Clinton administration in the 1990’s. At that time, the Times called the surveillance “a necessity.”
Of course, I'm just a mouthpiece for a political party. You know, like The New York Times. I'm happy to join that club, I hear they have neat jackets!
* Political belief is not a line with a divider denoting left and right. It is actually a very, very large circle with an arbitrary midpoint on one end. If one side holds views extreme enough, they end up meeting (and sounding like, and acting like) those coming from the other direction.
Otherwise I know for a fact Ron's cellphone would grow a pair almost immediately.
When dispatchers called Trooper J.J. Creech to check out a big bird strutting down N.C. 39, he thought it probably was a chicken loose in the morning fog.
He chuckled as he turned his cruiser north to chase the poor critter off the Johnston County highway before somebody hit it.
But sure enough, Creech spotted an obstinate ostrich -- tall enough to peer over the roof of his patrol car.
Then out of the fog came a yellow Ford pickup...
Thing is, according to the article anyway, nobody in the area farms the things, and the nearest zoo is miles away. I wonder if it tastes like chicken?
Jeff gets a red-and-white no-prize that sinks on purpose for bringing us news of the USS Razorback submarine exhibit at the Arkansas Inland Maritime Museum. Damned arkies are everywhere...
You are going down to the super scary basement at work(building is from the 20's) and a bird flies out from behind the dryer and attacks you.
Apparently what came from my mouth was "Jesus F*&Ing Christ", along with a shrill scream.(So I was told)
Hey, you would scream too if a bird attacked YOUR head if it flew out from a dryer!
Well, if two Australian guys can have a hit show running around naked playing with their wangs, I can't see why a woman can't at least talk about her privates. I think the different approaches to the subject are rather illustrative... revealing, even.
A basement remodeling project left Jany Chumas with one question after the drywalling was done where's Mary Poppins? Chumas' pet cat was nowhere to be found after the workers installed drywall in a room Jan. 2.
There's also this weird special food cocktail that Ellen mixes up for Cats that Won't Eat. When she brings it home the stuff acts like a giant cat magnet, they call come running. Ajax licks whatever surface the stuff has sat on long after it's been moved, and they all vulture around for hours wherever it happens to be. If they'd had that to put down in that basement, I bet that cat would've chewed its way through the drywall right quick.
Instapundit linked up this abject lesson in what happens when price controls are placed on medical care:
Unfortunately for Europe, Germany’s decline [as a leader in pharmaceutical innovation] is just part of a Europe-wide problem. Media on both sides of the Atlantic have reported the piecemeal relocation of Europe’s biopharmaceutical industry to America. Upon moving its global research headquarters to the U.S., Switzerland’s Novartis created a cutting-edge biomedical research campus in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in 2002. Likewise, after transplanting its international headquarters to New Jersey in 2002, Dutch drug giant Organon launched a new biotechnology research facility in Cambridge in mid-2005. Organon officials call the region “the perfect breeding ground for medical biotechnology.” The Anglo-Swedish AstraZeneca is investing hundreds of millions of dollars in new labs in the U.S., and almost 30 per cent of its employees are now based in the Americas. The UK’s GlaxoSmithKline has manufacturing and research facilities across the U.S., and almost one-quarter of its workforce is now based here.
Listen up folks. The only reason medical innovation is happening anywhere is because the US government does not fully subsidize or control medical care. We are, in effect, carrying the rest of the world, and paying higher prices ourselves because of it.
Does that mean our system is the right one? Oh hell no, our system has got loads of problems. But anyone who thinks giving control to the government is how to fix things either has an ax to grind or isn't paying attention.
Lists of film goofs are pretty common, but this was the first one I'd found which actually had the pictures. I knew about the Storm Trooper bonk (letterbox edition only, as I recall), but the rest were all new to me. As complex as movie making is nowadays, I'm amazed this doesn't happen more often.
Fark linked up this MSNBC article detailing recent progress on various "directed energy" weapons. The thing quickly turns into an advertisement for Boeing's airborne laser (ABL) project, and really seems to ignore where progress is actually being made. Aviation Week has been covering this stuff for literally years, and here's what they're talking about:
All from memory, so YMMV. Personally, I want one with a "broast" setting.
I mean, nobody can seriously be surprised at the results of a Google image search for "women drivers", can they?
Oink oink oink...
BBCnews is carrying this article summarizing new discoveries about the evolution of cats. By studying mitocondrial DNA in living cats, scientists have determined they evolved from a common ancestor in present-day Asia some 11 million years ago:
The Panthera lineage, which includes the lion, jaguar, and tiger, emerged first. This was followed rapidly by a group of three Asian species - the bay cat, Asian golden cat and marbled cat; three African Species (caracal, African golden cat and serval) and the path that led to the New World ocelot.
If I recall my human origins classes correctly, this would put cats evolving at roughly the same time as apes, and in more or less the same areas. No wonder the wee beasties always look like they want to kill us!
Welcome to the world of Lesbian and Gay Square Dance!
The IAGSDC is an umbrella organization supporting gay and lesbian Modern Western Square Dance clubs in the United States, Canada, Japan and Denmark.
I think we can now call it official... there really is a club out there for anything.
From the "too-much-time-on-their-hands" category we have someone who mounted their iPod inside a Geiger counter case. I wonder if it pops and clicks more as it gets closer to a Windows machine? Maybe Hi-Fi rig?
The lone libertarian moderator on Fark linked up this bit of home-spun anarchy regarding how the government is regulating your bathroom:
... The Federal Energy Policy Act of 1992 mandates that "all faucet fixtures manufactured in the United States restrict maximum water flow at or below 2.5 gallons per minute (gpm) at 80 pounds per square inch (psi) of water pressure or 2.2 gpm at 60 psi."
Manufacturers must adhere to these regulations under penalty of law, and to be on the safe side, and adjust for high-water pressure systems, they typically undershoot. If you try your showers right now, you will probably find that they dispense water at 2 gallons per minute or even less. Together with other regulations concerning water pressure, your shower could fall to as low as 1.5 gallons per minute!
Warning: The following section is for information purposes only; I am not advocating egregious violations of federal law as some trouble-making rebel might. Do not endanger your status as a law-abiding citizen who takes wimpy showers.
We bought one of those fancy expensive "rainfall" showerheads when we moved into this house, which is when I learned about this. The thing came with convenient instructions on how to remove the blocker in question, but it wasn't that easy and I didn't want to screw up our new expensive showerhead. Two plus years later, I think it's time to take a screwdriver to it.
We also have to keep a plunger beside each toilet thanks to these regs. This in an area so well-served by water there's never been a burn ban or water conservation effort I've ever heard of.
But lord knows we gotta save the environment, so instead of using the market and local-level regulations to allow each region to handle their problems their own way, let's use the hundred-fifty pound sledge that is the federal government to solve the problem. Square pegs, meet round holes, and here comes the hammer.
Or plunger, as the case may be.
Frey's book sold 1.77 million copies last year after being chosen by Oprah Winfrey's book club in September, but one investigative Web site now says his book was based on lies.
Read entire article here.
Ya know what. It was still a good book.
Let's all lick a "stamp" in celebration of Albert Hofmann's 100th birthday. Who's that, you ask? You'll probably be surprised:
LSD is an unlikely subject for a 100th birthday party. Yet the Swiss chemist who discovered the mind-altering drug and was its first human guinea pig is celebrating his centenary Wednesday — in good health and with plans to attend an international seminar on the hallucinogenic.
I don't celebrate his discovery of LSD, I celebrate his upcoming seventy-first wedding anniversary. Let's hear it for ladies willing to put up with eccentric loons!
Turns out the mouse which set fire to an old guy's house, well, didn't. Not surprised, but a bit disappointed. Sometimes the world is just too normal.
New Scientist (via The Scotsman) is reporting the government seems to be working with scientists to create something that sounds like it belongs in an SF novel:
The hypothetical device, which has been outlined in principle but is based on a controversial theory about the fabric of the universe, could potentially allow a spacecraft to travel to Mars in three hours and journey to a star 11 light years away in just 80 days, according to a report in today's New Scientist magazine.
The theoretical engine works by creating an intense magnetic field that, according to ideas first developed by the late scientist Burkhard Heim in the 1950s, would produce a gravitational field and result in thrust for a spacecraft.
Also, if a large enough magnetic field was created, the craft would slip into a different dimension, where the speed of light is faster, allowing incredible speeds to be reached. Switching off the magnetic field would result in the engine reappearing in our current dimension.
"If it sounds to good to be true," etc., so I'm not holding my breath on this one. Still, even if it doesn't pan out, I've finally found a loopy use for my tax dollars that I actually support!
By now most everyone's probably heard about how looney housing markets are in certain parts of the country. Stories of multi-hour commutes, families nearly driven out into the street, and young people unable to even begin the process of home ownership are legion. On the other side of the coin, stories also abound of skyrocketing home values, multiple and creative refinancing deals, and predictions of bubbles bursting. The reasons? Well, if you don't already know, I don't really expect you to believe them:
Why then are there particular places where housing costs have skyrocketed?
In those places, much of the land is prevented by law from being used to build housing. These land use restrictions are seldom called land use restrictions.
They are called by much prettier names, like "open space" laws, laws to "preserve farmland" or prevent "sprawl," "greenbelt" laws -- or whatever else will sell politically.
People who already own their own homes don't worry about whether such laws will drive housing prices sky high. Somebody else will have to pay those prices while existing homeowners see the value of their property rise by leaps and bounds.
Meanwhile, land that might otherwise provide homes for others becomes in effect free park land for themselves, while such upscale communities use "open space" laws to keep out the masses. The crowning touch is that such self-interest is depicted as idealism.
Land use and real estate development are without doubt the hottest of hot-button issues in this area. The passion, really a kind of unreasonable lunacy, that anti-development zealots in this area bring to the table have made for entertaining if rather unproductive local news stories for several years now. I don't doubt for a second they would take vocal, bordering on violent, umbrage at any implication their selfless crusade to "protect" their areas had anything to do with the value of their own property, or ensuring only the "right" people lived near it.
Of course, it's been my experience that the more vocal the opposition, the more likely naked self-interest and filthy lucre is to be found. Just because you can't see it doesn't mean it's not there.
Pat gets a sparkly no-prize for bringing us news that everyone's favorite celestial navigation aid has an extra companion:
Astronomers using the Hubble Space Telescope have revealed something just as constant as the North Star: a hidden companion.
Astronomers now have photographic proof that Polaris, as the bright star and navigational aid is formally called, has two stellar companions.
Finding the North Star is easy. Finding my keys, that's a different matter.
Fark linked up news of an experiment in reality TV:
This ugly scene is not a typical night for Nicky. In an experiment for a British TV documentary, the single mother spent a month matching the bingers drink-for-drink to see what it did to her body and mind.
Includes a suspiciously young "before" and disturbingly real "after" set of pictures.
Lookie what I found surfing the net! Get Yer Boobz!
Found via Daffodil Lane
I am so going to enter!
The black moor is one of the new additions. Yes, it is THAT tiny!
This is 'MOP'(Mother Of Pearl), our pearlscale goldfish. Actually she is a golfball with fins, but we won't tell her that.
On the other hand, I'm pretty sure this one is serious:
The Mystery and Meaning of the Message in Our Cells: Discover that the ancient message and the name of God are encoded into the cells of your body and all life; learn and understand the lost key that allows DNA to be translated into language and words; cross the traditional boundaries of science and spirituality to discover how the message in your DNA holds the power to heal your body, resolve conflict and create peace between families and nations; and see how to switch the healing codes of your body to "ON"! Presented by Hay House Publishing.
Via Improbable Research.
BBCnews is reporting the FAA has released its draft on the rules to regulate commercial human space flight. From the summary, it sounds pretty reasonable, but summaries usually do. If anyone in or around the industry weighs in, I'll try to link it up.
New Scientist is carrying this report on the most detailed simulation to-date of the impact which formed the Earth's moon. The new model indicates an impact speed of "only" 15 km per second (if I'm doing my math right, approximately 32,000 mph), and that the body was mostly solid or liquid, not gas. Did I mention previous models indicated it was roughly the size of Mars?
Thing is, I'm not at all sure Amazing Prehistoric Dogs is for-real or simply a bizarre satire. The text is a very nice foil hat vintage (classic, with a full body and overtones of unreasonableness at the finish), but the illustrations are like something from a lampoon paper of some sort.
Maybe he'll finish up his site on cats soon. More information might help.
I dunno, to me parking anywhere near anything called "Amazonas" is sorta asking for it. While I've done a lot of dumb things to cars, getting them wet (so far) isn't one of them. Which usually means it's only a matter of time, of course.
Catholics in the audience should get a chuckle out of the confessional of tomorrow. Fortunately, there are no choices for "eternal damnation".
It's often said, "if you want to send a message, use Western Union." A possible corollary could be if you want to get rid of a mouse, use a trap:
A mouse got its revenge against a homeowner who tried to dispose of it in a pile of burning leaves. The blazing creature ran back to the man's house and set it on fire.
I live in a house full of cats, so mice are pretty much a non-issue. Even if we did have them, they'd be considered food sources (for the snakes), not pests.
Our new 80 gallon tank given to us from O's daycare. Yes,yes, it came with a few fish too!
For the pervs in your life who have everything, a do-it-yourself wang casting kit. For chocolate, no less.
A number of prestigious libraries -- including Harvard University's -- have such books in their collections. While the idea of making leather from human skin seems bizarre and cruel today, it was not uncommon in centuries past, said Laura Hartman, a rare book cataloger at the National Library of Medicine in Maryland and author of a paper on the subject.
Read entire article here.
Time to make a trip to the library!
But is it art? I didn't even know the Baltic states had a fingernail art championship. What will they think of next?
An artist who chained his legs together to draw a picture of the image hopped 12 hours through the desert after realizing he lost the key and couldn't unlock the restraints, authorities said Wednesday.
Alternate title: When modern art attacks.
Those of you convinced we're only moments away from the Era of the Dragon, wherein we're all reduced to shining the shoes of people who really know how Chinese food is supposed to be made, may find this of interest:
I believe that the Chinese banking sector's dire straits constitute the gravest threat to global stability in the coming years ... Frankly, I believe the banking sector is too far gone to reform without collapse. In international terms, the crisis in the Chinese banks and SOEs is an elephant that stands in the middle of the room, but everyone is either perceiving it as a mouse or trying to pass it off as a mouse. I believe the Australian government is in the latter category, as are a great many others around the world.
Japan basically ignored the problem of their crippled banking industry and did manage to get away with it, although at the price of a decade of economic stagnation that represented a significant drag on world productivity in the 90s and early 2000's. But they had the advantage of a homogenous culture and a government system that allowed the citizens to replace the people in power occasionally while the rest of it sorted itself out. China doesn't have these, or really any other, advantages.
Interesting times, interesting times...
Slashdot linked up news of the unveiling of Tivo Series 3 boxes:
The unit has two CableCARD slots on the back and it will support Multi-Stream (CableCARD 2.0) or Single-Stream (CableCARD 1.0) cards. If you have multi-stream then you only need one card, but as long as only single stream cards are available you can use two of them. Yes, the unit is dual-tuner - actually, like the HD DirecTiVo it can use any two of the tuners it has, and it has six. 2 cable tuners, 2 ATSC tuners, and 2 NTSC tuners. Yes, it supports digital and analog cable, digital ATSC OTA, and analog NTSC OTA.
"Dual tuner" means (finally) watch one show, record another, keep all nifty Tivo features on both. Front controls! No more being stranded because Olivia stuffed the remote into one of her pillows. CableCARD means no cable boxes! Plug your Tivo in, slot the card, and you get whatever channels you want whenever you want them. I detest cable boxes, always have, so this is a very interesting feature for me.
Sha. Like I don't already watch too much TV. Price TBD, which probably means "expensive", but dude... NO CABLE BOX!!!
Three words: rocket powered bicycle. Draft this Tour boy!
Michael Totten wrote up this long (but very good) piece on what it's like to visit one of the last socialist paradises left in the world:
There were no towels in my room. The bathroom was, however, generously stocked with products, all of them packaged in green — the color of Islam and Qaddafi’s so-called revolution. The hotel gave me green shampoo, green soap, green bath gel, green toothpaste and even a green shoehorn and comb. All were clearly (and, I must say, unnecessarily) marked “Made in the Great Socialist People’s Libyan Arab Jamahiriya.” There was no booze (it’s banned), no soda, no water, no juice in the mini-bar. A burn the size and shape of a deflated basketball was seared into the carpet.
Highly recommended, if for no other reason than to see how a really weird part of the world gets along.
For the weirdo who has everything, we're proud to present concept skinbag, a site that offers various leather goods made from "artificial human skin". There are so many different levels of skeevy here I'm not sure I can begin to count them.
Police in a Vancouver suburb reminded residents on Tuesday it was not a good idea to play with a loaded gun while using the bathroom, after a man accidentally shot himself.
Multitasking in the bathroom is when you read about guns, not play with them.
Scientific American is carrying this report on new findings concerning the mysterious not-quite-planet, not-quite-asteroid solar system object Charon. By observing the body as it passed in front of a star, scientists were able to determine it does not have an atmosphere. This apparently, at least to some folks, helps disqualify it from "real planet" status. However, the technique used could help confirm other "whatthehellizzit" distant objects as planets.
Mooning Deemed 'Disgusting' but No Crime in Md.
Acquitting a Germantown man who exposed his buttocks during an argument with a neighbor, a Montgomery County Circuit Court judge ruled yesterday that mooning, while distasteful, is not illegal in Maryland.
Not illegal, no, but it's still probably a crime, against nature if nothing else. Heh...
A tarantula-like spider which has been biting an elderly man in his sleep has been in his house for several weeks, according to the RSPCA.
The arachnid is described as being as large as a human hand.
[RSPCA spokesman Gethin Russell Jones] told BBC Wales' news website: "He's quite an elderly gentleman. He noticed a large spider months ago when he bought [a box of bananas].
Suddenly those guys who unload the grocery trucks in our area seem a lot tougher than I'd previously thought.
From last night's Scrubs episode (click the link if you don't already know who these people are):
Carla: "I just want a baby so bad"
Turk: "I know, I know. Sometimes I wonder, you know, what it would be like, having one?"
Carla: "Perry said it was like having a dog... that slowly learns to talk."
Talking is the easy part. It's getting them to fetch that's the trick.
Oh sit down Grammas... it's a joke.
New Scientist is carrying this summary of all the planned space exploration activity for 2006. Looks like a bountiful year for un-manned space probes, and we may even manage to see a shuttle launch or two.
Been around awhile, but I'd never seen it: is there anything our Post Office won't deliver? In spite of its less-than-stellar reputation, the results were actually pretty good.
Slashdot linked up news of an advance in the creation of a "superlens", an optical device which promises to resolve objects as small as a single nanometer. The trick (as I understood it, just before my head exploded) is to create something that will refract light in a negative direction.
See, did it again. Science is cool, but sometimes can be painful.
If you're a suburban cowboy hankering to raise a herd and short on ranchland, mini-cattle may be for you.
New breeds of pint-sized heifers and bulls are making it easier for small farmers to raise cattle for milk, meat or just fun. On Bill Bryan's 20-hectare spread on Maryland's Eastern Shore, he has sold seven calves this year.
No Ellen, no! Bad Ellen! Bad! No cows!
Everyone is going bonkers over the two-headed snake!
Now, let me tell you all about this unique little reptilian fella. This is a one of a kind, original hand puppet (specifically designed for someone with an extra hand growing from their arm). My inspiration to create this bad boy came from the infamous TWO HEADED ALBINO RAT SNAKE we all are raving about. The puppet is made from 1 1/2 cotton tube socks. The eyes and tongue are soft foam, adhered with a glue gun. The eyeballs and mouth were hand drawn with a Sharpie. The sewing has also been done by hand.
See auction with picture here.
Don't forget about the purple clay snake
The Religious Policeman reprinted this interview wherein the richest man in Saudi Arabia (and therefore one of the richest in the world) gets his toes toasted by a western reporter:
You became notorious in New York when Mayor Giuliani declined to accept a $10 million donation from you to victims' families after you suggested that the U.S. was too friendly with Israel.
By the way, my check was taken to the bank and cashed. The problem was with my statement. I accepted that. Subject closed.
Subject reopened. The money was returned to you. Have you told Harvard, as you told the City of New York, that the U.S. needs to "adopt a more balanced stance toward the Palestinian cause"?
Nice to see they don't spend all their time gnawing on our own politicians. I might... might have to concede press monkeys occasionally have their uses.
Fark (of all places) linked up news of a major bronze-age tool find in the UK. "More than" 4,000 years old puts them right at the time of the Stonehenge builders who, as I recall, are believed to have built that place around 4,500 BCE. This is not to say that's who these people were, but they probably knew them.
Because otherwise I'd probably have three snakes soon:
For sale: One snake. Albino. Has two heads. Asking $150,000 or best offer. The World Aquarium in St. Louis has been home to We, a one-of-a-kind two-headed albino rat snake, since 1999. President Leonard Sonnenschein has decided to sell the reptile, and bidding on eBay will start at $150,000.
Looks a lot like a corn snake to me, but what do I know?
BBCnews is carrying this list of "100 things we didn't know this time last year". While understandably UK-centric, it's still a vertiable font of usesless but interesting information. I mean, where else would you learn it's possible to blow up baloons with your ears? Olivia will be very impressed with that one.
Ron gets a devilish no-prize for bringing us jeans with a message:
A punk-rock style, trendy tight fit and affordable price have made Cheap Monday jeans a hot commodity among young Swedes, but what has people talking is the brand's ungodly logo: a skull with a cross turned upside down on its forehead.
The jeans' makers say it's more of a joke, but the logo's designer said there's a deeper message.
"It is an active statement against Christianity," Bjorn Atldax told The Associated Press. "I'm not a Satanist myself, but I have a great dislike for organized religion."
There are any number of people I can think of who'd probably try to wear them to a church.
Slashdot linked up announcement of a new "unified" theory of biological locomotion:
The researchers show that so-called "constructal theory" can explain basic characteristics of locomotion for every creature -- how fast they get from one place to another and how rapidly and forcefully they step, flap or paddle in relation to their mass. Constructal theory is a powerful analytical approach to describing movement, or flows, in nature.
While the article doesn't mention it, to me it also strongly implies that, contrary to other speculation, any E.T.s we managed to stumble across probably will resemble some sort of existing terrestrial critter.
I personally vote for the "hot chick painted green" variety myself. *Oink oink.*
Soldiers in Iraq will get a taste of Cincinnati when they receive 10 cornhole sets made by a Reading soldier's family and painted by students.
Don't look at me man, I had to read the article to figure out what they were really talking about. Don't mind the noise, that was just Ron passing out from hyperventilating "hehehehehehehehehehe's".
My Dad is a helicopter pilot and sent this pix to me of him flying the Orange County Choppers.
While this article on "what went wrong?" last year is about Bush vs. the Congress, it really could be about any president since Watergate. The gridlock we've all come to know and loathe is of course far from new, but its origins are more recent, and more reasonable, than you'd probably first imagine.
Before Watergate, probably to combat the very things this article talks about, Congress had gradually structured itself so that most of its power was concentrated in the hands of just a few committee chairs. Presidents who really wanted something done met with perhaps 15 or so men (they were always men) and if he could get them to agree to it, it got done.
The zenith of this arrangement was during the Johnson administration. Between 1964 and 1968 perhaps the most powerful congressman (and senator) of the modern era was placed in charge of the presidency with a then-unprecedented electoral majority. Lyndon Johnson knew how the institution worked, knew the men who worked it, and knew exactly what was needed to get something, anything, done. The result was an era of Democratic power and unity not seen before or since.
Largely because of the disastrous excesses this concentration of power created in the Johnson and later Nixon administrations, Congress reformed itself in 1974 (the so-called "Watergate baby" era). The intent was to shatter the control of the comittee chairs and de-centralize decision making in the hopes of making the institution more representative of and compliant to the people. As with most attempts to change powerful structures, they succeeded, but at a cost they didn't foresee.
Instead of de-centralizing the power of committees, the reforms instead created dozens of sub-committees with weaker but still powerful chairmen. The "surface area" of power increased, allowing many more places for lobbyists and special interests groups to corrode the ability of the institution to act in a sensible and consistent manner. That is, when it could act at all, since much of the traditional gridlock of what we now experience as the federal government is traced directly to these reforms.
This is not to say the reforms were bad. After all, they were put in place to stop debacles on the scale of Vietnam, Watergate, and the "stagflation" of the early 70s from ever happening again, and at this they have succeeded reasonably well*. It does, however, mean that people have far less to fear from one party holding "all the cards", and far less to hope for splitting that power between the two parties.
* Those who equate the experiences of 2001-2005 to 1968-1974 either have an axe to grind or aren't paying attention.
Canon fans will probably be interested in double and triple mail-in rebates available until 1-15-2006. Includes (some) printers!
See Ellen, I told you you should've called me when it was time to take the Christmas tree down! Wanton distruction, dangerous pyrotechnics, and Christmas. What's not to love?
Slashdot linked up this New Scientist collection of 13 things that "do not make sense". I'd heard of about half of them, but the others were pretty cool.
One note on the Ohio State "wow" signal: according to a SETI astronomer I heard at a convention in Nashville in 1994 (can't recall the guy's name), more than twenty years after the signal was recorded it was realized that Jerry Ehman had made a mistake when he noted down the location of the signal. All these years they'd been looking for it in the wrong spot. Of course, when they looked in the corrected area, no signal there either.
Steve gets a laser-guided no-prize for bringing us the ultimate in disciplinary devices. Ellen's mom's tool of choice was a wooden spoon too. Lord knows what she would've done with this thing.
Latest Olivia conversation: Me: "Olivia, how about we go visit Chucky Cheese?"
Olivia: "No, daddy. Stay home here watch movie Barbie allll day."
She is, after all, my child.
Well, except for the Barbie part. No, really!
I took a picture of a cat named Gwen in July. She is sitting on a ladder. She was black and white.
This weekend I learned she was euthanized because of renal failure.
I really liked that cat.
Aren't they all?*SnArK*
They are everywhere now!
In one reported sighting, an indigenous man claimed he saw a three-metre-tall ape standing on two legs beside a river in heavy rainforest in Johor state, the director of the state's national-parks service told Reuters on Sunday.
"He said it was hairy all over, like a gorilla," said Hashim Yusoff, director of Johor National Parks Corp.
Read entire article here.