When your wife's fifteen years of vet tech experience give her the skills to re-wrap your Steed's handlebars on the first try like she'd done it all her life.
Hey, how was I to know it's just like wrapping a broken leg? I'd show you before and after pictures, but after a) 33 miles and 2 subesquent glasses of wine and b) your presumed, and quite reasonable, lack of interest in bicycling minutia, well, we sorta forgot. Suffice to say it looks orsm!
Happy anniversary to me!
"C'mon Joshua! Dip me again!"
O really liked Mark's hammock.
Joshua gets a lightning fast no-prize for bringing us the world's most impressive Tetris video. I'm not completely convinced the thing is being played back at actual speed, but even if they did play it back a little faster it's still impressive. Well, for a video game anyway.
Slashdot linked up news of the "trumpet emulator". The device sits inside the bell of a trumpet and plays a collection of calls, including reville and taps. Since the Pentagon is paying the bill, I probably don't want to know how much they cost.
Because around my house it sure does:
Felinophiles may want to be extra alert this morning, because today is National Hairball Awareness Day. Unless it was yesterday. There's some confusion about the date. No matter. For people who own cats - a third of all American households, half of those with two or more - hair balls are an issue that keeps coming up.
Those who think cats are the epitome of style and elegance have obviously not been paying attention when they cross their eyes, arch their back, and then turn themselves inside out on your carpet.
Pat gets a no-prize with a magnifying glass for bringing us this New York Times piece detailing what that paper found when they did some detailed analysis on the Big Apple's annually published crime statistics:
The oldest killer was 88; he murdered his wife. The youngest was 9; she stabbed her friend. The women were more than twice as likely as men to murder a current spouse or lover. But once the romance was over, only the men killed their exes. The deadliest day was on July 10, 2004, when eight people died in separate homicides.
Five people eliminated a boss; 10 others murdered co-workers. Males who killed favored firearms, while women and girls chose knives as often as guns. More homicides occurred in Brooklyn than in any other borough. More happened on Saturday. And roughly a third are unsolved.
It's nearly always interesting when you take a mass of data and then run it through some basic analysis tools. It's even moreso when it's something interesting in and of itself, like murder. What you do with these statistics is more problematic, but considering that New York is experiencing crime rates not seen since the 1960s, the cops seem to be doing something right.
CNN is running a story that notes after years of wrangling, construction is finally getting started on the reconstruction of the World Trade Center site. The details sound like the Port Authority got most if not all of what it wanted. Which, from what I've read, is more or less what usually happens.
New Scientist is reporting astronomers are learning more about what makes neutron stars tick by observing what happens when one turns itself inside out. Well, partially anyway. The mind boggles...
Pat gets a suspicious no-prize for bringing us news of yet another "social engineering"-style attack on your privacy:
The scammer calls claiming to work for the local court and claims you've failed to report for jury duty. He tells you that a warrant has been issued for your arrest.
The victim will often rightly claim they never received the jury duty notification. The scammer then asks the victim for confidential information for "verification" purposes.
Specifically, the scammer asks for the victim's Social Security number, birth date, and sometimes even for credit card numbers and other private information — exactly what the scammer needs to commit identity theft.
We haven't been hit by any sort of scams at our house yet, but that could be because we have caller ID and just flat don't answer the phone if we don't recognize the caller. I hate the phone so much it's hard to get me to answer it even when people I know are calling. However, I could definitely see this one as being more likely to succeed than some others.
The more you know, etc.
Slashdot linked up news Sci-Fi is going to develop a new "prequel" series based on the Battlestar Galactica universe. I'm actually not that happy about this. Sure, it'll be nice to see some more interesting SF on TV, but it's been my experience that whenever one of my favorite producers starts up a second series, the original suffers a noticeable decline in quality. I like BSG a lot, would be a shame to see it go downhill because the producers are too busy.
Remember folks, when trying to steal power company equipment, make sure it's not on:
A Sumter [South Carolina] man was found in critical condition after officials say he tried to steal something from an electrical pole.
Barely conscious and trapped between transformers is where Sumter police found Wayne Odom.
His stepfather says a bad crack habit led to the serious injury. Marshall Knotts says, "He would do anything he could do to get it. He was so strung out."
In other words, he got high, then he got high, then he got high?
... and that's how I found out there was no Santa Claus:
Believing they had a botched burglary on their hands, police in Hayward, California, called to a house instead found a naked man wedged in its chimney, a police officer said Monday.
Officers booked [the man] for being under the influence of drugs...
Yah don't say!
The Religious Policeman notes the Saudi World Cup team just keeps getting tripped up by us decadent Westerners:
Here, as you see, is the problem. It is a wall. On the wall is a picture of a young lady. The young lady has a great deal of skin. The young lady is displaying most of that skin, and appears to be lifting her bikini top. Because this wall is in Cologne, you may be forgiven for thinking that this may be an advertisement for Cologne. Perhaps the young lady has sprayed some Cologne on her bikini top, and is now sniffing it? Sadly the truth is much less fragrant. The wall belongs to a building. Inside the building are many such young ladies, all with a great deal of skin, but, I fear, with as little covering. The young ladies work in what is known as the "Personal Services Sector" of the German "Hospitality Industry". This being Germany, the services on offer are subject to close government supervision and health inspection. The building is in fact the largest of its kind in Germany, the Pascha in Cologne.
As with most attempts at being light-hearted with fanatics around, this amusing bit of whimsy doesn't have a particularly happy ending. But then again, when does it ever?
This morning I was in the den, reading my newspaper whilst sitting on the ol' rocking chair. Olivia, who was busy doing her standard morning Tasmanian Devil impression, spun her tornado over to me and suddenly said, "Daddy! Whas that?" and tapped on the opposite side of the page I was reading.
I looked, and saw a very large chart, some sort of oil company ad trying to explain which countries are getting their bazillions of profits, and how much. I was trying to frame the whole thing into the standard six-words-or-less that her current attention span allows when suddenly she said, "Daddy! That's a pie chart!"
"Why yes, Olivia, that's exactly what it is."
She nodded once emphatically, said "right," then spun off into the kitchen looking for a juice box.
Ellen, sensing an easy point, immediately chimed in, "what, do you think she's stupid?"
Pat gets a glowing no-prize for bringing us yet another op-ed in favor of nuclear energy:
For decades before Chernobyl, the public had been assured that nuclear reactors could not explode like bombs and that the association of reactors with nuclear weapons was essentially false. By calling those claims into question, the accident, together with the disappointing performance of atomic power plants during the 1970's and 1980's, pretty much guaranteed that no reactor projects would be initiated for the remainder of the century.
And yet, though it went unnoticed at the time and has been inadequately appreciated since, Chernobyl also cast into relief the positive features of the reactors used in the United States and most other advanced industrial countries.
It's pretty self-evident that global warming is happening*. It's equally self-evident that the only viable option to stop large-scale greenhouse gas emissions is nuclear energy. That greenies continue to ignore or attempt to explain away these simple facts makes it quite clear their politics has gotten far out ahead of their science. Or rationality.
* Happening, yes. On the verge of causing an imminent global catastrophe? Well, that's a different boiled egg altogether.
Slashdot linked up news of gaming companies working on neural interfaces:
At least two start-ups have developed technology that monitors a player's brain waves and uses the signals to control the action in games. They hope it will enable game creators to immerse players in imaginary worlds that they can control with their thoughts instead of their hands.
Will my legendary ability to maneuver into a perfect firing position and then rattle off the entire ammo supply without scoring a single hit ever be the same?
Slashdot linked up news of the "world's deepest" dinosaur:
While most nations excavate their skeletons using a toothbrush, the Norwegians found one using a drill. The somewhat rough uncovering of Norway's first dinosaur happened in the North Sea, at an entire 2256 metres below the seabed. It had been there for nearly 200 million years, ever since the time the North Sea wasn't a sea at all, but an enormous alluvial plane.
Which brings up a rather interesting point about paleontology. We don't necessarily find, say, dinos mostly in the North American west and hominids in east-central Africa because that's where they lived. We sometimes find them there because that's where the geologic deposits laid down when they lived are exposed to the surface.
In other words, critter A may be rare in the fossil record because critter A was rare. But it may also be that critter A is rare in the fossil record because, while you couldn't swing a dead trilobite without hitting one in swampy marsh A, the only place you can actually dig around in is the remains of swampy marsh C, where they were relatively rare.
In some cases this is not a big hairy deal. Rocks from, say, the Jurassic are eroding out in several different places all over the planet, so it's possible to get a decent sense of populations densities for the various dinos we've discovered so far.
Not so, unfortunately, for other time periods. The one I most remember from college was the Miocene, important to us anthropology undergrads because that's when apes evolved. Miocene apes are quite rare in the fossil record. This might be because there just weren't all that many of them. However, the only deposits accessible which have ever had any Miocene apes in them are eroding out of the Himalayas, an area which isn't particularly close to the Euro-African forests in which they are presumed to have evolved.
So, were they genuinely rare, or are we just not able to look in the right place? Could there be thousands of undiscovered fossils, perfectly preserved, thousands of feet underground, all over the planet?
Probably. Got a shovel?
Suzanne gets a folded up no-prize for bringing us definitive evidence that the government is behind 9-11:
What are the odds that a simple geometric folding of the $20 bill would accidentally contain a representation of both terror attacks?
But it gets much better. No, really!
Joshua gets a gargantuan no-prize for bringing us the first on-line pic of the Airbus A380 cockpit. Aviation Week had featured what is most probably this exact photo a few weeks ago, but that was in print. Note what seems to be a tail-mounted camera display, useful I'm sure for preventing "controlled taxi into terminal" and "ground crew pasted to tarmac" incidents.
James H. gets a no-prize he can't refuse for bringing us a rather novel proposal:
Provenzano’s “pizzini” reveal that the Mafia is meditating on the eventual need to resolve staffing problems by outsourcing crimes to occasional freelancers or by hiring Greek and Albanian thugs to fill gaps in the ranks. These are, frankly, stopgap solutions that underline its internal weakness and will eventually spell the end of the organization. Something similar happened at the decline of the Roman empire when the defense of the imperial borders was entrusted to barbarian mercenaries.
We understand the moral objections, but classic “realpolitik” suggests that it would be in Italy’s national interest to do something about the problem. There are already proposals to create a Mafia “theme park” at Corleone. It is hard to imagine a clearer symbol of increasing irrelevance or anything more shameful for what was an undoubted national glory than to see the children of real mafiosi making a living selling souvenirs and cotton candy to tourists.
Don't look at me, man. All I do is work on Italian cars!
Remember to think where you want to go to dinner tonight! Love ya lots!
So do we teach ourselves to read, or did we evolve the ability to read? This intriguing question recently received a new look courtesy of some French neurologists:
More than a century ago, a French neurologist suggested that a specific region of the brain processes the visual images of words. Without it, he postulated, people cannot read except by laboriously recognizing letter after letter, rather than whole words. Yet humans have only been able to read for several thousand years--perhaps not enough time for such a trait to evolve, some scientists have argued. New research, however, supports the idea that reading does rely on a localized set of neurons.
While the discovery seems to confirm a certain area of the brain is critical for reading comprehension, just exactly how that region evolved is still not clear.
And in the "too-much-time-on-his-hands" department, we have Toddlerpedes. As with most modern art, Olivia does these sorts of things all the time, just not as neatly.
Spaceflightnow is reporting on a recent-rexamination of moon rock samples which has lead to the discovery of a significant "meteorite impact period" which ocurred about 4 billion years ago:
The idea that meteorites have hammered the moon's surface isn't news to scientists. The lunar surface is pock-marked with large craters carved out by the impact of crashing asteroids and meteorites, said Robert Duncan, a professor and associate dean in the College of Oceanic and Atmospheric Sciences at Oregon State University.
But the narrow range of the impact dates suggests to researchers that a large spike in meteorite activity took place during a 100-million year interval - possibly the result of collisions in the asteroid belt with comets coming from just beyond our solar system.
It's thought this might have had something to do with the formation of life on Earth. Or not. Regardless, it's yet another indication that when the Earth was young it wasn't even a nice place to visit, let alone a place you'd want to live.
The Boomers' practice of living like a grasshopper is finally catching up with them:
Here are the stark financial facts. Together, Dick, 55, and Shari, 52, earn $110,000 a year. So far they've saved less than $10,000 for Jake's education ($4,000 in mutual funds in the parents' names and $5,500 in a 529 account). Total annual expenses at his first choice, the University of Oregon at Eugene, will top $25,000. The shortfall over four years is an eye-popping $90,500.
For us it's eye-opening for another reason. Thanks to the generosity of family members as well as our own savings plans, Olivia's already better placed for college than the example above, and she's not quite 3. Even then, considering the growth of college expenses far exceeds inflation, we'll still have to be very careful to ensure her security. Welcome to parenting 101, I guess.
And $40k in combined retirement savings, at their age and their income levels?
Smile, Ellen! I told you stuffing money under every financial mattress we could get our hands on would pay off some day.
BBCnews is carrying this report on new discoveries about the date when Antarctica started to change from a temperate forested region to a frozen wasteland:
The gateway between the Atlantic and Pacific at the bottom of the globe opened up 41 million years ago, according to a study of old fish teeth.
The research in Science pushes back the date of the forging of Drake Passage to twice as long ago as once thought.
Kinda fun to think about what would happen if we undertook some sort of megaproject to close the thing back up and turn the continent back to forests again. It'd almost be worth it just to watch all the greenies's heads explode.
Cyclingnews is carrying this report providing more detail on "the next big thing" in bicycling... electronic shifting. Instead of using conventional cables, ratchets, and springs, the new Shimano system uses wires, computers, and optical sensors. The advantages? Apparently far quicker shifting, far lower maintenance requirements, and a front derailleur that automatically adjusts itself as you shift. Look for it on an unreasonably expensive bike near you in 2007!
At first I thought, "dude, she's German, and you're English, what do you expect?" Then I realised most of the arguments listed on this site are ones I've had. To wit:
There are many arguments we have over arguments. 'Who started argument x', for example, is a old favourite that has not had its vigour dimmed by age nor its edge blunted through use. Another dependable companion is, 'I'm not arguing, I'm just talking - you're arguing,' along with its more stage-struck (in the sense that it relishes an audience - parties, visiting relatives, Parent's Evenings at school, in shops, etc.) sibling, 'Right, so we're going to get into this argument here are we?' An especially frequent argument argument, however, is the result of Margret NOT STICKING TO THE DAMN ARGUMENT, FOR CHRIST'S SAKE. Margret jack-knifes from argument to argument, jigs direction randomly and erratically like a shoal of Argument Fish being followed by a Truth Shark. It's fearsomely difficult to land a blow because by the time you've let fly with the logic she's not there anymore. A row about vacuuming gets shifted to the cost of a computer upgrade, from there to who got up early with the kids most this week and then to the greater interest rates of German banks via the noisome sexual keenness of some former girlfriend, those-are-hair-scissors-don't-use-them-for-paper and, 'When was the last time you bought me flowers?' all in the space of about seven exchanges. 'Arrrrrrgggh! What are we arguing about? Can you just decide what it is and stick to it?'
Then again, I married an Italian, so what do I expect?
Veteran sexist Tom Johnson (aka, "my dad") would note the only real thing in common is the sex of the opposite party, and point out the generalization that old men get to make and young men don't.
Which just goes to show being sexist doesn't necessarily mean you're wrong.
Ron gets a jabbering no-prize for bringing us this example of the universality of the human condition called "marriage"*.
* Yeah, I know, the guy who's writing the site isn't, or doesn't seem to be, married. After a few years of co-habitation, the distinctions between the two become quite subtle.
In other words, "yeah, whatevah..."
Since Google changed their ranking rules about nine months ago, comment spamming has dropped greatly in its variety and sophistication, presumably because it don't pay as well. Since essentially all our remaining comment spam is being caught by half a dozen regular expression rules, I've taken the plunge and greatly reduced our spamlist rules(from 2700+ to 150). You should see little effect (other than, if my luck holds, a great explosion in comment spam), but if you get blocked just do the ol' "paper bag over the mouth" trick to stay calm, send us an e-mail, and I'll fix whatever's blocking you.
Fingers-in-ears time folks, this could be a bumpy one...
All they lacked was a cliff with a hole painted on it for the coyote to run into:
One misplaced cell phone and one savvy interpreter equaled one dead insurgent, several pieces of intelligence and a whole lot of captured weapons.
Credulous press monkeys reporting an attack on "innocent civilians" in 3... 2... 1...
"Cool" new party tricks for sharing jello shots don't look like fun, they look like a good way to catch any number of nasty diseases. Besides, I never did go out much for the "get hammered stupid in public" school of drinking. To me, puking and hangovers just never were that much fun. Much better to get a warm slurry glow from wine that makes me jabber so much people throw pillows at me to get me to shut up.
But I digress...
Pat gets a hard & heavy no-prize for bringing us a very... solid... discovery:
t's not quite the center of the Earth, but scientists have drilled nearly a mile into the planet's ocean crust, retrieving samples from the pristine layer of igneous rock for the first time.
Scientists onboard the drilling ship JOIDES Resolution in the Pacific Ocean, about 500 miles west of Costa Rica, bored into the planet's crust and recovered black rocks called gabbro from intact crust.
They also recovered a complete stratigraphic sequence for that section of ocea floor. The discovery should lead the way to a greater understanding of a variety of geological processes.
Slashdot linked up news of yet another Star Trek film. This time they're going prequel on us, doing the "starfleet academy" thing they've been talking about for years. So far the guy who created Lost (and a bunch of other stuff) has been attached to the project, but no mention of any of the long-time Next Generation folks has been made.
This is what public access TV is all about, biatch. I get the giggles just watching how the stoned camera guy shoots the thing. The guy in front of the camera is just a scream.
All we get is soft spoken hippies playing with wire pyramids. What a gyp!
New Scientist is carrying this article on the discovery that another "universal constant", well, isn't. This time it's the Mu constant, the ratio of a proton’s mass to that of an electron. By examining the hydrogen spectra of extremely distant quasars, a group of scientists are claiming to have discovered evidence that this constant has changed about 0.002% in the past 12 billion years. If confirmed, it could provide a powerful boost to string theory, whose multidimensional structure predicts just this thing.
Update: Link now works.
Fark linked up news of a high-tech can that will cool your beer 30 degrees in 3 minutes. Since it's being tested by Miller, you'll still end up with good ol' American pisswater, but it'll be cold pisswater!
Judging by the complexity, I can't believe they'll bring this to market at anythign like an affordable price. Guinness got away with a fancy can because it's expensive beer in the first place... if you're willing to pay $5 for a bottle, $6 for a can isn't much of a stretch. But if you're only willing to pay $5 for a twelve pack, well, the economics of the thing change quite a bit.
For the Ga tribe in coastal Ghana, funerals are a time of mourning, but also of celebration. The Ga people believe that when their loved ones die, they move on into another life and the Ga make sure they do so in style. They honor their dead with brightly colored coffins that celebrate the way they lived.
No Ellen, you can't have one. Not even the purple PT Cruiser one.
Quick, which is more dangerous around a child: a loaded handgun, or a swimming pool?
The fact that I ask it that way should clue you in to the fact that it's actually the swimming pool, which kills literally hundreds of children under 5 every year. That's where the safety turtle comes in. It's an alarm that goes off the instant a child (or even a pet) hits the water, providing a vital last-ditch level of protection for your kid.
If only they'd figure out how to make one that'd catch a cat wizzing on a wall...
Slashdot linked up news that those famously isolated antarctic lakes may not be all that isolated after all:
In a Letter to Nature [scientists] report that rivers the size of the Thames have been discovered which are moving water hundreds of miles under the ice. The finding challenges the widely held assumption that the lakes evolved in isolated conditions for several millions years and thus may support microbial life that has evolved 'independently'.
Somewhere out there I'm sure a guy with a kayak has just had a dream.
LOS ANGELES -- A woman from the Country Club Park area contracted a case of bubonic plague, the first human case in Los Angeles County since 1984, county health officials said Tuesday.
Read entire itchy, flea-infested goodness here.
Being a guy, I'm most likely politically prohibited from making such a judgement, but to me at least coochie != purse:
A Salvadoran woman was detained after she tried to smuggle a military grenade and marijuana hidden in her vagina into the country's main prison, authorities said Wednesday.
There are just so many levels of "wrong" in this one... the mind boggles.
Don't touch the hair. Never the hair.
You will get this if you understand belly dance and the Persian culture.
Aka "pat", aka "momma smurf".
It's my blog, I'll do what I want with it. :)
Our child, being, well, our child, has not settled on the standard "comfort favorites" of toys or blankets. Instead, her favorite "comfort thing" is a full-sized pillow Ellen or I dragged down to the den one night long ago when we couldn't sleep. This is "pillow-pillow", as in, "no, pillow-pillow can't go in the potty!" and "no, pillow-pillow doesn't want any cereal!" and "no, pillow-pillow is not for bopping kitties!"
What pillow-pillow is good for, however, is tossing on daddy's lap. Olivia will then turn around and back toward me in her trademark ready for pickup way.
Which she did just a few days ago while we were watching, oh hell I don't know, something pink with princesses and ponies in it. She then flopped, grown now to the point she barely fits on the pillow itself when lying down, reached down and grabbed a blanket.
"Daddy! Watch me! I sleep like daddy!"
She then closed her eyes and produced a sound which was a cross between a chainsaw with a bad carburetor and someone strangling a duck. The cats all stopped in their tracks and looked at her in alarm, and I swear the windows started to rattle. After a few impressive repeats, she stopped, giggled loudly, and went back to watching TV.
When I related this to Ellen after she got home later that evening, all I got was a, "yeah, she's getting pretty good at impersonations, isn't she?"
Slashdot linked up this comparatively even-handed account of what it's like working for Microsoft. To me it sounds like a pretty nice place!
Bicycling magazine has linked up this 2005 cover story on "plus size" bikers:
At this point in Sam's life, 39 years old, easily 200 pounds overweight and having trouble breathing, if something doesn't work for him soon, he's not going to be around much longer. He's tried everything to lose weight, a kabillion diets and powders and pills (including Fen-Phen, on which he lost 100 pounds before the substance was banned, then Serzone, which a doctor prescribed to replace Fen-Phen, but which ended up killing Sam's libido and, he says, making him apeshit, thus he had to stop taking Serzone and gained back the 100 pounds, et cetera, et cetera).
To make a gigantic story small, Sam has come to cycling as his last-ditch effort.
He knows, from reading this very magazine, that there is no better form of physical activity for weight loss than cycling. Incinerating fat is one of the principal benefits our sport provides. Ask any group of cyclists, of any size or skill level, if they know someone who has lost significant weight through riding, and the universal answer is not Yes, I know someone, it is Yes, I know GREAT NUMBERS of people who have dropped GREAT NUMBERS of pounds. And it's simply true: If a person pedals for an hour a day, four to six days a week, and avoids sandwiches with five pounds of fixings, weight vanishes.
I'm happy to see anyone out there. Sure, I'll give a second look to that much spandex, but only because one doesn't often see that sort of thing. If you're out there and huffing, you're out there and trying, and that's really all that matters.
So what's stopping you?
Fark linked up news of a rather unique gambling opportunity:
WagerWeb.com, one of the largest sports betting sites on the Internet, posted odds today for sports fans to bet on which member of the Dallas Cowboys players and staff, if any, will be the first involved in a verbal/physical confrontation with Terrell Owens during the 2006 NFL season.
It's gonna be a colorful season for the ol' blue-and-silver this year.
Finally, one thing less to worry about:
Are you losing sleep at night because you're afraid that all life on Earth will suddenly be annihilated by a massive dose of gamma radiation from the cosmos?
Well, now you can rest easy.
Some scientists have wondered whether a deadly astronomical event called a gamma ray burst could happen in a galaxy like ours, but a group of astronomers at Ohio State University and their colleagues have determined that such an event would be nearly impossible.
Ron giving "whoop whoop" to his alma mater in 3... 2... 1...
Alfa Owner Club official publication, September 2005, Ed McDonough, writes, “ It’s over 50 years since the cars first appeared at a press launch in October 1952. Relatively few of the cars which became known as “Disco’s” were ever built, and no one really knows how many there were ... One of the final cars in the original Disco shape is listed in the existing records as .00012, but it is also listed as “Unknown” or dismantled, or both. It may have been re-bodied or scrapped.”
That story being told, up for auction is a 1952 Alfa Romeo Disco Valante, VIN # AR13620012.
No more than half a dozen of these things were ever built, and most of the ones which survive rightly live in museums around the world. That this one, known and known lost, should suddenly reappear is simply remarkable. It might be fake, but if it is it's a period fake, made in the 1950s with parts commonly available at that time. I don't know a lot about these cars in particular, but I do know what Alfas from the 50s looked like, and this definitely is one.
Yours for, at this time, $65,000. Fascinating...
All those times I complained about traffic in the DC area? I take them all back.
Well, ok, I don't take them back. If you put drivers from around here in a situation like that, you'd have blood up to your ankles running down the gutters. And cellphones. Lots and lots of cellphones.
Pat gets a bellowing no-prize for bringing us news of the discovery of a new dinosaur predator. This one's bigger than ol' T. rex, although perhaps a bit lighter in build. The interesting bit is, it would seem these may have hunted in packs:
The discovery, along with other recent ones in Canada, Mongolia and the United States, appeared to support an emerging interpretation of the hunting behavior of predatory dinosaurs. Instead of being solitary hunters, as once thought, they may have operated in groups.
Mark gets a scary no-prize from the past for bringing us this video of a restored Panther tank on the move and this video of a restored Tiger doing the same.
It's one thing to see old black-and-white newsreel photos of these things rolling across the steppe, and quite another to see and hear them trundling around a parking lot in full-color video. I can't imagine what it must've been like being 18 and seeing dozens of them coming over the horizon.
Hey, it's good to be the king:
[The] world’s biggest hat ever made has been unveiled here on the sideline of the Middle East Exhibition and Conference for Professions, Education and Training 2006 opened here on Tuesday in Bahrain.
If you can't smile at a funny hat, you're just too far gone for help!
BBCnews is carrying this report on the activation of an optical telescope who's sole mission is to detect light signals from extraterrestrial intelligences. Much like its more famous radio-based cousin, this is a completely passive process, so no worries about sending out "gullible and potentially tasty natives are here!" signals.
Then again, the first thing any of them will see is, what, I Love Lucy re-runs? Sorta says it all...
While scanning the comments on Slashdot regarding the article linked yesterday, I found this description of one of the new "safe" reactors:
The pebble bed reactor (PBR) or pebble bed modular reactor (PBMR) is an advanced nuclear reactor design. This technology claims a dramatically higher level of safety and efficiency. Instead of water, it uses pyrolytic graphite as the neutron moderator, and an inert or semi-inert gas such as helium, nitrogen or carbon dioxide as the coolant, at very high temperature, to drive a turbine directly. This eliminates the complex steam management system from the design and increases the transfer efficiency (ratio of electrical output to thermal output) to about 50%. Also, the gases do not dissolve contaminants or absorb neutrons as water does, so the core has less in the way of radioactive fluids and is more economical than a light water reactor.
There's another design, whose name I can't remember, that uses a liquid metal of some sort as a coolant (lithium?) This oxidizes slowly on exposure to air, creating a kind of self-sealant which ensures no leaks in the event of a containment breach.
While certainly not fool-proof, both designs (and the PBR in particular) seem to be far safer than any existing reactor design currently operating. Considering these older, "less safe" reactors have experienced exactly one accident in fifty years, an accident that it must be pointed out was contained and handled as designed, it would seem self-evident that these new designs are quite safe indeed.
Of course, humans have been denying the self-evident ever since the first ape knocked the second one over the head with a rock. Why would we start paying attention now?
Because if they do, it'll be "find the wee spot, scrub the puke spot, pick up the poo spot", which doesn't sound as much fun:
A computer game that turns pet hamsters into virtual man-eaters could be the first in a new breed of games aimed at both people and their pets.
"Mice Arena" is an augmented-reality computer game in which human players are pitted against a real, live hamster.
The only real problem I can see, from my own experiences with "typical" on-line gamers, is the number of complaints they'd get that the hamster was hacking.
Fark linked up news of the discovery of a monster shrimp. 40 cm is, what, ~ 18 inches or so? Da-yum!
With pic-ful goodness!
Slashdot linked up this history of Easter candies. Includes a brief chronicle of the peep's road to world domination!
Instapundit linked up this op-ed supporting nuclear power from one of the founders of Greenpeace. No, really:
In the early 1970s when I helped found Greenpeace, I believed that nuclear energy was synonymous with nuclear holocaust, as did most of my compatriots. That's the conviction that inspired Greenpeace's first voyage up the spectacular rocky northwest coast to protest the testing of U.S. hydrogen bombs in Alaska's Aleutian Islands. Thirty years on, my views have changed, and the rest of the environmental movement needs to update its views, too, because nuclear energy may just be the energy source that can save our planet from another possible disaster: catastrophic climate change.
Nuclear power has been the only legitimate "green" energy source since its discovery in the 1930s. No other source can deliver anywhere near as much clean and safe (yes, safe... read the article first) power. New plant designs at least claim to be simpler, cheaper, and safer still than anything currently running in the west. It's politics, both the "ooh-scary-it-glows" and "it's-industrialization-that's-the-real-enemy" type, that keep nuclear power from becoming a genuine alternative to fossil fuels.
It's ironic that, by their hysterical resistance to nuclear power, the people who shout the most about climate crisis are effectively responsible for it.
Lane G. gets a creepy latex-rubber no-prize for bringing us news about who faked those "Alien Autopsy" films:
The creator of Max Headroom, a 1980s television cyber-presenter, has claimed he was one of the hoaxers behind the Roswell film, the grainy black and white footage supposedly showing a dead alien being dissected by American government scientists after a UFO crash.
Never watched them myself, but I know people who did. Can't say I ever knew anyone who believed them. I guess I don't run with the right crowd.
Joshua gets a no-prize in a sugar coma for bringing us the Easter Turducken, wherein one learns how to stuff a Cadbury egg into a peep into a chocolate Easter bunny. It even involves power tools!
InsaneIdiot gets a thundrous no-prize for bringing us the ultimate beer ad. Too bad they don't seem to sell the stuff over here!
I worked at Tiger Cafe last night- my first real resturant gig. The manager was most happy with me. He says I know how to work a crowd and it helps very much so to get people involved.
BUT... the DJ was a FUCKING ASS! He played this continous shit that sounded like a UFO whirling overhead the entire time. The DJ was apparently informed that I would be dancing that night. But not the time. I was told to dance at 10PM. So at 9:45 I go to the managers office to change and lo and behold...the DJ is talking frank smack about me.
"Who the fuck is this belly dancer. How fucking dare she dance during my show." Your show? No one is up and dancing or anything. Just chilling at the bar.
This is where I walked around the corner and literally tore him a new ass. I told him he was incredibly unprofessional, his music was the same song over and over again and he was not moving the crowd. I turned to the manager and said, "Your choice, I dance or I don't, but you will still pay me full rate."
I got to dance. And I had the crowd moving. 30 minutes flew by and the DJ went right back to playing his UFO shit.
I got paid- several free drinks and invited back for Friday nights :)
So Mr. DJ- FUCK YOU.
Filling up at the gas station can be so... tiring.
Thank you, thank you, I'll be here all week. Try the veal!
Pat gets a dim but cute no-prize for bringing us yet another tale of a seriously stuck mouser:
The epic search for Molly, the black, 11-month-old fraidy-cat stuck in the wall of a Greenwich village food store for two weeks, ended in jubilation last night after rescue workers spotted her in a small opening and quickly yanked her to safety.
Since cat pee is a universal solvent, my bunch would have little trouble getting their butts out of a situation like this. Of course, the very first time a hunger pang hit one they'd most likely die of surprise, so I guess it all evens out in the end.
You! Quick! Go back to the 70s while you still can!
The song itself is actually kinda catchy. It's all the spandex and smoke-machine mist that gets me to giggling. I need to get out more.
All of the benefits, none of the nasty side-effects. Sort of like a fundamental Miller Light:
Synthehol is a science-fictional substitute for alcohol that appears on the Star Trek:The Next Generation television series. It allows drinkers to experience all of the enjoyable, intoxicating effects of alcohol without unpleasant side-effects like hangovers.
And cirrhosis and perhaps other deadly by-products. Aside from the "what-could-possibly-go-wrong" suspicion that acommpanies any propeller-head getting busy with mind-altering chemicals, I'm all for it!
Our blacklist had bulged up into bug-causing territory again, so I've culled it with regexp's. Again. If you suddenly find a comment banned because of "questionable content", calm down. It's nothing personal. It just means the regexp's need work. Send an e-mail and we'll fix it.
Yeah, I know. Upgrading will fix it all. Probably break as much as it fixes too. And since this is just maintenance and not actual breakage, "if it ain't..."
Those Japanese will do anything!
Also from BBCnews, this article detailing the discovery of another new proto-hominid fossil:
Fossil hunters have found remains of a probable direct ancestor of humans that lived more than four million years ago.
The specimens of this ancient creature are helping bridge a long gap during a crucial phase of human evolution.
This one actually includes a smattering of post-cranial remains, which are damned rare in hominid fossil finds. It seems we have a fairly complete sequence going back to within a million years of the homind-chimp split, a time well before savannah took over central Africa.
Venus Express is already beginning to return images, and boy are they doozies:
Mission scientists are already intrigued by a dark "vortex" feature which can be clearly seen in one image [of the south pole].
Apparently there's a double vortex on the north pole. So in addition to being squashed by pressure, broiled by heat, and dissolved by acid, you could potentially be caught up in a spectacular storm as well. Venus is fun!
Three words: urban combat skateboard. No, really!
While the article is tongue-in-cheek, the comments seem to indicate there really are legitimate uses for skateboards in combat. Hey, if it makes one of our guys more likely to come home, why not?
they wouldn't be in so much trouble:
The library books on multiple births crowded the couple's coffee table. The bedroom-turned-nursery awaited the arrival of six newborns.
But in the end, authorities say Sarah and Kris Everson never had the sextuplets as claimed. All they had was what appears to be a big lie.
Pat gets a no-prize that comes in six different boxes for bringing us this tail of greed and stupidity.
Slashdot linked up this Opinion Journal piece on the supression of opinion in global warming research. Yet another example of Bush administration malfeasance? Hardly:
Scientists who dissent from the alarmism [of a global-warming catastrophe] have seen their grant funds disappear, their work derided, and themselves libeled as industry stooges, scientific hacks or worse. Consequently, lies about climate change gain credence even when they fly in the face of the science that supposedly is their basis.
While the author quite obviously has taken some of this very personally, he does have a point. Like Bjorn Lomborg's dissection of environmental politics in general, the vicious and hysterical attacks that greet seemingly rational counterpoints nearly always indicates politics has taken over.
"Well, so what if they are exaggerating the evidence? It's helping to clean up the environment!"
So then, friend, a lie in pursuit of a greater good is not really a lie at all? I guess we really are beginning to see eye to eye.
Personally I'm a little weirded out that she was carrying two hearts around in the first place:
British doctors have revived a 12-year-old girl's dormant heart and removed a donor heart which she had started to reject, hospital officials said late today.
According to the article, artificial "assistant" hearts are used in cases like this today. I think perhaps I'm just not understanding what the heck is going on here. Regardless, it's still a good thing for the girl.
Bah, I know one when I see one. For the rest of you, do the math:
Few women would claim to have the perfect bottom. But for those in need of reassurance that it is within reach, a scientist has come to the rescue by working out a mathematical formula they believe adds up to the perfect posterior.
The magical figures are (S+C) x (B+F)/T = V. Though the equation looks rather complicated, it is, according to the scientist, simple.
Gotta love a mathematician with too much time on his hands!
New Scientist is carrying this report detailing a bizarre animal which might represent an evolutionary step toward mamals:
Nursing mothers of Boulengerula taitanus – part of a group of tropical, legless terrestrial amphibians called the caecilians – transform the top layer of their skin from its usual flat, dead cells to a thicker layer of large cells rich in protein and fats in order to nurture their young. The nutrient content of this skin layer is similar to that of milk.
The thinking is this could represent an intermediate step toward both live birth and nursing. Kinda creepy, if you ask me.
Fark linked up news of the discovery of yet another "face" on mars. Foil hatters suddenly predicting the Smiley Face of Martian Doom in 3... 2... 1...
Pat gets a ridiculously cute no-prize for bringing us this video report of China's progress in breeding giant pandas. Don't miss the plastic surgery on the local anchor either. Looks like someone smacked her in the mouth.
Observe the disasterous results!
While trying to keep my head from exploding due to the complexities of internet routing, I found the "3D museum", which has a few interesting models of various fossils you can twist and turn at your leisure. Pretty neat holding an entire Dimetrodon skull in your virtual hands.
Congratulations to the ESA for the successful arrival of Venus Express. The main mission is scheduled to last more than a year and should help crack at least some of the mysteries that surround our nearest planetary neighbor.
Well, why not personalize your cleaning robot? Who wouldn't want a giant eyeball humming around on the kitchen floor?
Sorry, Ron, no Cowboys "skins" yet. Then again, nothing a can of silver spray paint and a decal can't cure, eh?
Making the rounds: the bizzare saga of a rich man wrecking his toys has reached a rather conventional end. This was actually in the post yesterday morning, but the CNN article has a picture of what's left of the car. In spite of the fact that it's a total loss, the Ferrari guys should be quite proud, since even though the driver was an idiot he did walk away. Can't say that about too many 160 mph crashes.
No-prize to Ron for reminding me to link this!
Fark linked up what to me looks like Sauron's own treehouse. And mom thinks my stairs are a bitch...
I'm sure you can guess what happened to me next.
Spaceflightnow is carrying this article summarizing new research into how the planet Mercury was formed. By using new simulations, scientists believe Mercury's unusually metal-heavy composition was created when the protoplanet collided with a very large asteroid about 4.5 billion years ago. The impact was violent enough for ejected material to reach both Venus and Earth. The model also implies a "reasonable amount" (possibly as much as 16 million billion tonnes [1.65x10^19 kg]) of proto-Mercury is now part of the Earth.
Which of course begs the question, what would these guys consider to be a large amount?
He may be able to dig up signs that ETs have been visiting us for thousands of years, but it seems he can't keep a theme park open:
Long ago, astronauts from outer space visited earth to lay the foundations for human civilisation, Erich von Daeniken says.
Now, the Swiss writer and businessman hopes for a visitor wealthy enough to save his Mystery Park theme park in Interlaken from financial collapse.
I'm just barely old enough to even know who this guy is. I'm sure blank looks will be had from several younger friends and relations who read this. Lord only knows what Olivia would make of it.
From certain parts of South America at any rate:
Geologists have uncovered a whole herd of supervolcanoes hidden in the remote Argentina-Bolivia-Chile highlands. One that's been getting a closer look by Argentine geologists may have matched or exceeded the explosive fury and pyroclastic volume of the Yellowstone eruptions.
Ron gets a potentially earth-shattering no-prize for bringing us the latest in the fascinating realm of super volcanoes.
So the media will be extra-helpful by throwing a few sensationalized stories your way to help:
If a high-fat cholesterol-laden snack doesn't trigger a heart attack, then a healthy economy just might.
The risk of a fatal heart attack rises when the U.S. economy strengthens and increases further if macroeconomic conditions remain robust over the next several years, according to a study published last month.
Straight from the "pull-data-out-of-your-ass-and-make-shit-up-with-it" department!
Fark linked up this article detailing the invention of a "fat laser":
A technique developed by American scientists could lead to fat-related conditions, including arterial heart disease, being melted away by high-intensity beams
A team of researchers have used a machine called a free-electron laser (FEL), which can produce very specific beams, to heat and break down fat without damaging other body tissue.
Having heart disease on both sides of my family, anything that helps prevent clogged arteries is just fine by me.
Joshua gets a golden no-prize for bringing us news of the coolest Olympics site bid we've ever seen. Oh be quiet, it's no sillier than the real thing!
Pet tricks your mother always warned you about.
A kiss from the Princess
Yes, yes. I spent my dance money I earned last night on Olivia. It was worth it.
I had a last minute gig offer tonight (3 hours notice, and we had to cut a cd!), and here is the costume I used. Ron was nice enough to chaperone me to the party.
Money? Yes! I made quite a bit! But the FUN just over-rides it!
I mean, mine's New York accent will be much more entertaining:
A groom-to-be has found a novel way to get rid of his future mother-in-law - by selling her on an internet auction site.
But it seems that Steve Owen could be stuck with Caroline Allen for a while because, so far, no-one has placed a bid for her despite the starting price being just £1.
Meh, she comes in handy sometimes as a babysitter, so I guess I'll keep her.
Just when you think the universe just can't get any weirder:
When stars explode as supernova, they carve giant bubbles in space. Our own solar system is enveloped by such a structure from a long-ago explosion.
Now scientists have shown that our bubble is being pinched and bullied backward by another expanding bubble forged from multiple supernovas.
They use a lot of words like "superheated" and "hot expanding gas", which sorta makes it sound like what happens around my house after Olivia eats some chili. Something tells me, though, it's a bit different than that.
New Scientist is carrying this article detailing a new discovery in stem cell research. By creating a substrate with a special nano-scale pattern, and nothing else, scientists were able to get bone marrow stem cells to transform into bone cells themselves. The hope is this discovery could lead to new techniques in the creation of various kinds of surgical implants.
No more parts by Mattel, no more funny looks from the TSA before you get on a plane. Sounds like a plan to me!
U of Ark alumni and various others should find this pictorial history of Fayetteville website of interest. The crazy thing for me is how much the campus has evolved since I left it. I mean, that was 1991, just a few... waitaminute... when the hell did 1991 become 15 f'ing years ago?!? I didn't vote for that!
Instapundit linked up this NYTimes article detailing the response to NASA's new Centenial Challenges. Amazing what happens when you provide incentives instead of gauranteeing results, eh?
Here I didn't know "digital tombstones" even existed and now I go find out a competitor has already made it to the market. This one turns on when you walk past it. In a graveyard.
The possibilities for scaring the bejeebus out of passersby in some final juvenile prank from beyond the grave are endless.
I want one. Someday, anyway.
Thankfully, so far at least, Olivia hasn't resorted to these antics. She just ignores us and walks away.
Timeouts, on the other hand, are quite similar to this.
The next Andrews AFB open house will be May 20th & 21st. Be there or be, well, not as sunburned! The Blue Angels are scheduled this year, and the Commemorative Air Force's B-29 is scheduled for static display. Lots of fun to be had by all!
It's amazing how much fun you can have with a bit of looped video and the right soundtrack. Seems the cat most likely didn't have any claws. Ours always treated Olivia as an alarming self-propelled noise maker, and steered clear at all times. Now that she can actually pet pretty effectively, there's usually one or another nearby trying to score a free scratch or two.
Well, at least they didn't ask to be eaten:
At least six men came to western North Carolina, some from as far away as South America, to have their genitals mutilated in what police described Friday as a sadomasochistic "dungeon."
Mutilated as in cut off. I guess if you have a big enough sample of people, you'll find some who want to do stupendously ridiculous stuff. Since the Internet has brought most of the world together, the sample has gotten very large indeed.
There's probably a bit of a cultural, and perhaps even sexual, bias as well. Women who cut themselves up seem to be quietly bundled off to the nearest hospital, while men like this make the front page. Then again, I can't say I've ever heard of a chick flipping out and doing this sort of thing at a party.
People are weird.
Mike P. gets a fuzzy-cuddly no-prize that will widdle on his carpet when he's not looking for bringing us news of The Cat House on Kings, which claims to be "[A] unique, no-cage, no-kill environment."
Not a darned thing wrong with that!
Sometimes I think we're a lot alike. Then...
Me, at the dinner table with Ellen, in a 'bouncy-bright-eyed-Amberesque-optimistic' tone: "So, what is it exactly about biking you like? I really like the speed. I think it's cool!"
Ellen's eyes suddenly lit with a weird internal fire, and I swear her voice dropped three octaves into a stentorious baritone, vividly reminding me of a certain movie character. "Oh no, I love the pain. I need to get a trainer so I can ride even when it's cold."
Me, not realizing the danger, still in full-blown Prairie Dawn mode: "You don't want a trainer! It'll make everything the same. Let me order you some lights so you can go out when it's dar--"
I swear, I swear at this point I suddenly started hearing that classic, slow whooosh -- pahhhh, whooosh -- pahhh, "You're as clumsy as you are ignorant. I do not ride for the same reasons you do. Our goals are different. Our reasons are different. I find your lack of understanding disturbing."
And yes, children, at that moment her hand did twitch slightly with her thumb and forefinger in a clench. Suddenly I realized that, for now at least, I'm in front on group rides because I lead.
I have a feeling one day it will be because I'm fleeing.
The trick is to figure out how to fit those side buns under a helmet.
New Scientist is carrying this report summarizing the discovery of a remarkable new fossil. After years of searching, scientists have discovered the first complete creature from the time when animals were making the transition from water to land. Includes picture!
Slashdot linked up news of the discovery of a gigantic cloud of alcohol spotted in deep space, 463 billion kilometres across. Methanol, so while it'll power Indycars, trying to collect it for drinking purposes would be contra-indicated. Plus there would be that whole transportation cost thing.
Quote of the day: ""When you're dealing with rootkits and some advanced spyware programs, the only solution is to rebuild from scratch," said Mike Danseglio, a program manager in the Security Solutions group at Microsoft. "In some cases, there really is no way to recover without nuking the systems from orbit."
Now that I've got an unattended install widget running on our network, "nuking" systems is ridiculously simple and effective. Which is, after all, sorta the point, eh?
Why do people do stuff like this and this.
People sometimes think Ellen and I are very different. Until they get to know us better...
Ellen: "Whyyy" (you have to imagine this word in a hybrid Queens/Upstate accent... close as I can get typing is "Wh-hoi-oi", said quickly) "is my body fat scale in the basement?"
Me, in a 'surprised-you-want-to-know-suspicious-you're-even-asking' tone: "I wanted to weigh the bikes. The food scale only went up to 5 pounds."
Ellen: "And?" (Ahy-yand?)
Me: "Yours was 24, mine was 19."
Ellen stood there and blinked twice. The second time was her trademark "lizard blink." You know, the one where her second set of eyelids close from right-to-left.
"That's not possible. You did it wrong. Mine's not supposed to weigh more than 22. The magazines, the website, and the book said so."
Me: "Yeah, I know, but sometimes the manufacturers lie a little bit."
Ellen: "How did you do it?"
Me: "I held the bike on the scale."
Ellen: "No you moron. You're supposed to weigh yourself, then weigh yourself holding the bike, then subtract the difference."
Me: "Yeah, well, it won't mean much. Besides, who really cares?"
Ellen: *blink* *BLINK* ... pause
Me: "Okayyy..." (trudges down stairs)
The women in the audience will be little surprised to know she was right. 17.6 and 22.1 respectively. Trust me, I don't feel that superior... what I gain in bike she more than makes up for in smaller rider size, lighter rider weight, and undifferentiated rage.
Now if we could just get Olivia's
parachute trailer to drop below 15...
Half the time, my camera could not compensate with the lightning.
A pix from yesterday's storm.
This Toyota video made the rounds awhile ago, but it still makes me smile. Personally I think the 90's-era Supras are the fastest looking Toyotas ever made, but what do I know?
Slashdot linked up this Discovery New article detailing new discoveries in insect behavior. It would appear cockroaches, and perhaps other higher-order creatures, make group decisions via a simple sort of democracy. No, really!
Amber will want her cat back one day. She has been in my upstairs bathroom since 4 today and even helped O with her bath at 7:30.
See the babies hatch at the end of April!
Yes, it's live!
An anonymous woman with big boobs covered in whipcream.
A housewife toying from Billy.
Mind you, this is a very crappy email from someone that cannot speak english.
The neck-less baby with its head almost totally sunk into the upper part of the body and with extraordinarily large eyeballs literally popping out of the eye-sockets, was born to Nir Bahadur Karki and Suntali Karki at the Gaurishnkar Hospital in Charikot.
Read article with picture of parade here.
Update: Link works now.