May 31, 2006
But Where's the Reset Button?!?

Robert H. gets an analog no-prize for bringing us a new "virtual" slide rule. Those who, like me, always thought it was a goofy looking toy should consult the instructions. Far as I know, my dad's generation was the last to take slide rules seriously, and even then he tells stories about giving instructors ulcers by asking, "why do we have to learn to do this when a computer will do it better and faster?"

I come by it naturally folks.

Posted by scott at 02:58 PM | Comments (3)
Ozone + Cholesterol = DED

Looks like that whole "fresh air and sunshine" crap may have something to it:

Numerous studies have linked heart disease and air pollution, particularly smog. Smog--a toxic brew of chemicals and molecules such as ozone--seems to exacerbate heart disease, leading to an increase in heart attacks and fatalities. But researchers have yet to discover the pathway by which smog impacts the cardiovascular system. Now a new study shows how ozone's byproducts in the body can harden arteries and cause heart disease.

Can't wait to see what sort of goofy gadgets this news brings out.

Posted by scott at 01:45 PM | Comments (4)

Folks fascinated by mortuary sciences in the audience (you know who you are) should find this website dedicated to embalming of interest.

Posted by scott at 11:40 AM | Comments (0)
Paging R. Kelly, White Courtesy Phone Please

Fark linked up news of a new development in paratrooper deployment:

A new military parachute system which fits wings on soldiers could enable them to travel to 200 kilometres (124 miles) after jumping, Jane's Defence Weekly defence magazine said Friday.

200k is well out of the range of nearly all air defense systems, which should make the guys flying the transport much less nervous. Should help the guys jumping out of the airplane too, as guys zooming around with wings makes for a much tougher target than guys hanging from parachutes. Coming to a special forces team near you!

Posted by scott at 09:43 AM | Comments (1)
Perfectly Normal, Perfectly Healthy

Hey, if prostitutes can have their own political party, why not perverts:

Dutch pedophiles are launching a political party to push for a cut in the legal age for sexual relations to 12 from 16 and the legalization of child pornography and sex with animals, sparking widespread outrage.

You know, sometimes the whole "morality is relative" movement takes their ball and runs right through tolerance and out the other side of "what the hell is wrong with you?!?" This, to me at least, is most definitely one of those cases.

Why debate the existence of absolute evil when there is so much of the banal stuff just lying around?

Posted by scott at 08:46 AM | Comments (0)
May 30, 2006
Vader Calling

Robert H. gets a no-prize that'll reverse the charges for bringing us this hilarious clip from Robot Chicken, one of the newer programs on Adult Swim. Time to set a new season pass!

Posted by scott at 03:07 PM | Comments (0)
Bright Bots

BBCnews is carrying this update on upcoming changes to the Mars rovers. By using software developed for an Earth-observing space probe, NASA scientists will upgrade the rovers, allowing them to autonomously select data (in this particular case, involving images of clouds and dust devils) and only upload the most significant items to Earth. The systems work very well and have provided significant cost savings on some missions already. With refinement, it's hoped such techniques will make roving space probes to more remote places like Titan possible.

Posted by scott at 02:08 PM | Comments (0)
CEV Summary is carrying this update on how NASA's shuttle replacement, called the CEV, is progressing. The companies involved in the competition are understandably tight-lipped about details, but it's good to see progress is definitely being made.

Aviation Week carried a long article on this in their most recent issue. Things that I remember: the recently-retired Complex 40, which was used for Titan launches, has become a candidate for CEV launches. Complex 39, which currently is used by the shuttle, is still slated for use by the much larger CALV. Apollo-era hardware is going to be re-used, but a lot of existing commercial launch gear is also being considered, especially for the unmanned CALV.

Posted by scott at 12:01 PM | Comments (0)
Heart Smarts

Slashdot linked up this New Scientist article which details a new discovery about the heart that could enable a whole new series of treatments for heart disease and injury:

A team of US researchers has discovered the “home” of stem cells in the heart, lending credence to the idea that the heart has the capacity to repair itself. The finding raises the possibility that these cardiac stem cells could one day be manipulated to rebuild tissues damaged by heart disease – still the leading cause of death in the US and UK.

Maybe one day they really will be able to give you a pill that helps you grow a new organ. Or at least repair one. Living science fiction!

Posted by scott at 10:45 AM | Comments (0)
Well isn't that Special?

All those times I complained about how cold our community's pool is? I take them all back:

A Nepalese sherpa stripped and stood naked on the summit of Everest in sub-zero temperatures for three minutes, sparking an immediate row today over defiling the sacred mountain.

Completely unaddressed is why he did it?

Posted by scott at 09:48 AM | Comments (2)
Fun with Paper

Fark linked up this step-by-step guide to building the "ultimate" paper airplane. It certainly looks a lot more complicated than the two versions I know how to make, so I have a feeling it'll fly a lot better as well.

Paper airplanes are one of those things it simply never ocurred to me to teach Olivia about. Time to go find something to fold.

Posted by scott at 08:53 AM | Comments (1)
May 29, 2006
Princess Bed


Olivia got her big girl bed today! This also marks the first day I got kicked out of her room.

Posted by Ellen at 03:34 PM | Comments (6)
A Tisket A Tasket...

snakebasket.jpg ...A snake in a basket.
Posted by Ellen at 03:32 PM | Comments (2)
May 28, 2006
At Least Ellen Wasn't Driving

Because if she was we'd have yet another character added to our menagerie:

The next time Dan McBride rents a car, he may want to inspect it not just for dings and dents but also for snakes.

The assistant athletic director at Eastern Kentucky University found a two-foot-long ball python in his rental car this week as he left the Ohio Valley Conference baseball tournament in Paducah.

I think our own ball python Pokey is a little bigger than this, in which case the snake would be kind of intimidating, but not a complete terror. Personality wise, Pokey is a bit dodgier than our surfer-dude-with-scales corn snake Cornbread, so I don't begrudge this guy's freak-out reaction.

At least none of The Grammas were around. If they were I have a feeling we'd be collecting life insurance policies right about now.

Posted by scott at 09:21 AM | Comments (1)
May 26, 2006
Oh, the Things They'll Say, II

Saturdays are nearly always Daddy Days. Mom works most Saturdays, so it's me and Olivia all day long. We've done it so often we've got a pretty good routine working. But I didn't really know just how ingrained it had gotten until last week.

On Daddy Days the schedule is get up, eat breakfast, watch some shows, get dressed, head to the park, stop by McDonalds for lunch, then hit the sack for nap time. The whole thing takes about five to six hours, which is just enough time for Ellen to get home.

This particular Saturday was beautiful... sunny, breezy, warm enough to not need a coat but cool enough to keep you from frying. Since Ellen's never learned to drive a standard, Olivia and I toodle around in "SpidahCar", going from place to place with the top down and the wind in our hair.

The McDonalds is just down the road from our house, so we went through the drive-thru on the way home. While we waited for our turn, Olivia happily pointed out "McDonahs daddy! Look! Flags! Yellow! Gear shift! Brrumm Brumm! Go home, see Globlin!"*

As we pulled up to the menu board, we got the typical, "hellowelcometomcdonaldsmayitakeyourorderwouldyoulikeacombo?" greeting. Except since everyone who works at McD's seems to have English as a second language, it was more like, "alloellcometomacdonahsmaytakeohdahlikecombo?" I was just opening my mouth to place the order when suddenly from the passenger seat came, in a patented CuteChildtm voice, "Numbah eight plain hambugr dietcoke."

"What was that?"


There was a brief pause, then, "That will be $5.65, please drive to the first window"

Whereapon Olivia sat back and beamed at me, lifted up her hand and said, "Hi five, daddy!"

Well, everyone kept saying she'd eventually become useful. Now to teach her "get daddy a beer."

* It's a kind of mental ju-jitsu, talking to a not-quite-three-year-old. Just trying to keep up will tend to turn your brain into banana yogurt after an hour or so.

Posted by scott at 01:35 PM | Comments (1)
What THE!?!

Ok, wasn't the WORLD supposed to end yesterday?

Posted by Ellen at 11:37 AM | Comments (3)
The One that Got Away


Lesson 2: read the manual for the f'ing camera. I've been trying to get a shot like this for 25 years, but since I didn't know how to turn burst mode on the D-70, I kept missing the #$@$# shot. Buddy Bluelens picked up the slack with his camera and got it.

So enjoy the way-cool pic I wish I'd nailed. That's really what it looks like.

Next year we need to figure out how to get sound. And maybe video. XL-1, anyone?

Posted by scott at 09:55 AM | Comments (1)
I Think, Therefore I Move

Slashdot linked up news that Honda has created a system that allows a person's brain waves to command a robot. As long as they don't put it in cars, I'm fine with it. Then again, maybe it would be a good idea. If it took conscious thought work a car, the highways would be a lot less congested around here.

Posted by scott at 09:32 AM | Comments (1)
May 25, 2006
The Gathering Storm


In spite of appearances, it did not in fact rain. But it sure did look like it would, several times.

Posted by scott at 08:10 PM | Comments (2)
Shock Diamonds


Each year I learn a little more. This time: trust the auto-focus, no matter how annoying it may be. This was the clearest photo of the F-15E demo I got. The fact that it was booming around the sky and shaking everything is immaterial. Stupid eyes.

Posted by scott at 08:09 PM | Comments (0)
Line Abreast


In case you haven't figured it out, Andrews AFB had its open house over the weekend. This was the first time I'd ever seen Canada's demonstration team. Go Canuks!

Posted by scott at 08:07 PM | Comments (0)
The Sound of Boomers Fapping

Pat gets a no-prize that should've been dead years ago for bringing us news of another high-concept boomer self-love-fest, yet another Bob Dylan biopic project, this time with a twist:

Cate Blanchett will play Bob Dylan in his "androgenous phase" in a new biopic of the great poet-songwriter's life, it was announced, as Dylan turned 65.

As far as I'm concerned, decades of swilling various kinds of booze down his throat long ago kept Bob Dylan from any sort of resemblance to a singer. Yet through his admittedly talented song writing and some sort of bizzarre synergy between various media elites who came of age during his heyday, we're made to feel we should still care about this old weirdo.

He's a musician. He wrote some really good songs. He was a mediocre singer at the best of times, and at his worst a sad joke. Like many musicians I've personally encountered, he seems to have a special-intensity weirdness that's just coherent enough to keep him out of the hospital. He's also rich as Roosevelt.

But that's it. Not a God, not a scion of Western civilization, not even someone to pay big bucks to go see. He can't sing anymore!

Bah. As if it'll make any difference. Go on and see the movie and play his records and put his picture on the wall. It's you're money, do what you want with it.

Excuse me, there's some kids on my lawn I need to go throw rocks at.

Posted by scott at 02:07 PM | Comments (3)
Doing the Afghan Spin

You did realize we've been kicking butt and taking names over in Afghanistan, right?

The last two weeks have seen an ambitious Taliban offensive shot to pieces. As many as a thousand Taliban gunmen, in half a dozen different groups, have passed over the Pakistani border, or been gathered within Afghanistan, and sent off to try and take control of remote villages and districts. The offensive was a major failure, with nearly half the Taliban getting killed, wounded or captured.

Of course, if you're reading headlines like "U.S. Voices Regret for Deaths of 16 Afghans", and "Thousands of Afghan villagers flee battle zone", you can be forgiven for thinking otherwise.

Bias? What bias?

Posted by scott at 12:49 PM | Comments (1)

The short answer is, I don't know why people are suddenly getting 403 error messages when they try to view pictures and/or the whole site. It works for me at home and at work.

Service is commeasurate with pay, so it may be awhile before I get serious about figuring it out.

Posted by scott at 11:40 AM | Comments (0)
Poot Blocker

Well, the creation of the Dogone Dog Gas Neutralizing Pad is all well and good, but what about cats? Ours will regularly sit up, look at their own butts in alarm, and then spread mustard gas throughout the house. What about us, hmmm?

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

Slashdot linked up this BBCnews report detailing new efforts to discover extraterrestrial planets harbouring life. By using newer, more sensitive instruments, scientists are hoping a new generation of space telescopes will be able to pick up signs of life in the light reflected by planets. The Earth is known to have such signatures, so the trick is to see if we can find other planets with the same thing.

Posted by scott at 09:32 AM | Comments (0)
Clone your Bone

Ron gets a stiff wooden no-prize for bringing us news of the creation of a functional artificial penis. Right now the technique is a proof-of-concept done using rabbits, but scientists are hopeful it can be applied to humans relatively easily. The ultimate goal is to create effective treatments for erectile disfunction caused by things like diabetes and infections. It's also quite possible the technique will lead to the ability to create other kinds of tissues like organ and nerve.

Posted by scott at 08:24 AM | Comments (0)
May 24, 2006
Under the Sea


Scott took me and Olivia to the zoo on Monday to have a family day and celebrate Ted. This is one of the picture I captured.

Posted by Ellen at 09:17 PM | Comments (1)
Go Nancy Go!


Posted by Ellen at 09:10 PM | Comments (0)

Posted by Ellen at 09:01 PM | Comments (0)
Belly Dance Girl


On a happier note. I bought this shirt for Olivia at 'Cleopatra's Closet' in Alexandria this weekend. The great thing is that she knows how to shake her booty.

Posted by Ellen at 08:47 PM | Comments (3)
Mark Your Calendars

World to end tomorrow:

I have received information psychically, which is corroborated by scientific data, according to which on May 25, 2006 a giant tsunami will occur in the Atlantic Ocean, brought about by the impact of a comet fragment which will provoke the eruption of under-sea volcanoes.

Hey man, it's psychic information! We all know how accurate that is!

According to his maps, we're gonna have ourselves a beach soon. How cool is that?!?

Posted by scott at 02:51 PM | Comments (5)
The Twin Diet

Scientific American is carrying this article summarizing claims that the reason multiple births are on the rise is not related to in vitro techniques, but something else entirely:

Using data obtained from mothers by way of questionnaire, physician Gary Steinman of the Long Island Jewish Medical Center and his colleagues compared the number of twin births from moms who consumed meat and/or milk and those who consumed no animal products at all. They found that the omnivores and vegetarians were five times more likely to have fraternal twins than the vegans.

That's right folks... it's what you eat, not who you are. The scientists think it's related to growth hormones used in agriculture. Personally, I'd like to see more studies to confirm this link before we all start doing Chicken Little impersonations and banning things left and right.

For once.

Posted by scott at 01:58 PM | Comments (1)

Damned iPods, now they're starting to invade your shoes! You'd think there'd be a lot of bike-related iPod accessories, but (as far as I know) there's not. Something about making sure you hear cars coming up behind you. As if.

Posted by scott at 12:51 PM | Comments (0)
262 Flight

Mark gets a no-prize that whistles like a jet for bringing us this video of one of the new Me-262 jets puttering around a German airshow. As I recall, a Texas-based company built about a dozen of them, using original blueprints and, with the exception of the engines, duplicating the originals exactly.

Also interesting to see that American newscasters aren't the only ones who can't shut the f--- up.

Update: According to this Wikipedia article, it's actually the second of a half-dozen run of the fighters. It's "conversion" model (meaning it can be configured as either a single or two seat aircraft), and operated by a German historic society. More info on the whole project is here...

Posted by scott at 09:26 AM | Comments (0)
Thank You

Many thanks to everyone for your kind words, flowers, and your shoulder to cry on when I needed it the most.

Posted by Ellen at 09:25 AM | Comments (1)
It's the Anti-Veg

Slashdot linked up this BBCnews article detailing the discovery of a new potential treatment for patients in a "persistant vegitative state." By using a drug originally meant to combat insomnia, at least three people were temporarily "revived" to the point they could interact with family members and hold simple conversations. It's thought the drug somehow activates dormant areas of the brain, allowing them to compensate for other injured areas.

Posted by scott at 08:20 AM | Comments (0)
May 23, 2006
Cat Poem

They will not go quietly, the cats who've shared our lives. In subtle ways they let us know their spirit still survives.

Old habits still make us think we hear a meow at the door. Or step back when we drop a tasty morsel on the floor.

Our feet still go around the place the food dish used to be, And, sometimes, coming home at night, we miss them terribly.

And although time may bring new friends and a new food dish to fill, That one place in our hearts belongs to them. . . and always will.

- Linda Barnes

Posted by Ellen at 07:24 PM | Comments (1)
More Alfa Updates is carrying this much more detailed article on Alfa's return to North America:

Although the brands exact date of arrival is not known, and theres no official information about which vehicles will initially be available, insiders and industry analysts have painted a pretty accurate picture of what will be heading our way. Certain to be included will be the 159 sedan, a critically-acclaimed BMW 3-Series-sized four-door thats set to target the compact luxury segment. The range will most likely feature the Twin Spark inline-four series engines, as well as the Holden-designed, but Alfa-modified V6 engines. A 159 wagon will follow, and both cars will be offered with a unique all -wheel drive system featuring Torsens new C variable differential.

Hmmm... a wagon. Now there's an interesting idea.

Meanwhile, Alfa has collected a new award for its 159 sedan, this time from a UK association of fleet managers. Considering the number of cars they deal with and the kinds of things they value, this tends to speak well of Alfa's efforts to improve reliability and quality.

Gotta keep counting those pennies!

Posted by scott at 03:26 PM | Comments (1)
No More Naked Guy

Remember that guy awhile back who created a stir by insisting on attending college class in the nude? He is, as they say, no more. For those who don't remember... well, RTFA, you'll find out.

I'm actually surprised Berkeley expelled him the year after he became famous. Their hyper-liberal stance is well known and deserved.

Posted by scott at 02:39 PM | Comments (0)
Hobbit Update

BBCnews is carrying this article providing some updates on the Flores "hobbits". It would appear scientists are still hotly debating whether these strange creatures are a genuinely new species of hominid, or simply the remains of deformed moderns.

Since the pace of these debates is the classic journal-based trot of "is not", "is so", "is not", resolution will probably not come for many years.

Posted by scott at 01:22 PM | Comments (0)
Turntable Tech

Love that vinyl sound, but hate the wear and tear a stylus causes when it plays your favorite record? Have we got a gadget for you:

The Laser Turntable employs patented technology that produces phenomenal fidelity while never physically touching the record, thus eliminating the deterioration to the album's surface inflicted by conventional turntables.

It can be yours for a measly $15,000. And you thought bicyling was an expensive hobby.

I'm pretty sure this is the tech various museums and universities are using to record and preserve extremely rare and fragile cylinder and acetate disk recordings. I'm still not completely sure how you can scan something like this with a laser and not have it digitized in some manner, but the site claims it's analog all the way. Which is good, because people crazy enough to spend the $$$ on a gadget like this are also crazy enough to think analog is always better than digital.

Posted by scott at 12:05 PM | Comments (1)
Fear & Loathing

Siflay linked up this giggle-worthy parody of a "typical" movie trailer. If it weren't for cliches, I'm not sure Hollywood would even exist. And wouldn't that be a tragedy?

Posted by scott at 10:53 AM | Comments (0)
Debt Check

Ron gets a no-prize with a special 0% financing rate for bringing us the "truth" about credit card debt:

You’ve probably heard that the average American carries more than $9,000 in credit card debt.

It’s a figure frequently cited by politicians, journalists and pundits as a sure sign of (take your pick) moral decline, consumer gullibility and/or impending economic collapse.

Here's the thing: The statistic is wrong.

Wrong in a good way, since (according to the article) the median consumer credit card debt is more like $2,200, where it exists at all.

We've been consumer debt-free ever since we refinanced our house. We had a pretty decent amount of debt before that, especially if you count our car, but it never approached the levels I often hear about on news programs. Looks like we weren't alone.

Posted by scott at 09:46 AM | Comments (0)
Taking that Whole "Taste Explosion" Thing Way Too Far

Hey, at least they didn't make it into the fryer:

Workers at a factory making chips were evacuated two days running last week after bomb parts turned up in potatoes imported from France and Belgium, the site of battles in World War One and Two.

Chips as in "french fries" in this case. Danged British, can't speak proper.

Posted by scott at 08:44 AM | Comments (0)
May 22, 2006
My Handsome Boy tedsink.jpg

Posted by Ellen at 09:14 PM | Comments (0)
Chocolate Chips

Posted by Ellen at 09:10 PM | Comments (0)
Hugs Part Deux!


Did I mention he LOVED hugs.

Posted by Ellen at 09:04 PM | Comments (0)


MANY thanks to my sister, Nina, who sent me a pix I have never seen this side of. My heart aches for Teddy. I feel like I lost a child.

Posted by Ellen at 09:00 PM | Comments (3)
May 21, 2006
En Memoriam


December 9, 1999 - May 21 2006

Constant as the stars above
Always know that you are loved.

Posted by Ellen at 10:01 PM | Comments (12)
Ghosts Included

The winning bidder will inherit not only the building -- and possibly the furniture, kitchen equipment and liquor license -- but also the 15 to 20 spirits that believers say live there.

`I've seen things that even the most pragmatic man would have to believe,'' said Ken Roberts, who bought the building with his wife, Margarita, four years ago.

Those ``things'' include missing and moving objects, a ghost stroking a woman's hair, sounds of boots walking across the wooden floors when no one is there, and the sound of the 1930s freight elevator door closing when no one else is in the building, he said.

See entire story here.

Posted by Ellen at 06:51 PM | Comments (0)
I Wonder if The Drawings Came To Life During This...

Drawing while on acid.

Posted by Ellen at 06:47 PM | Comments (0)
Civil War Pixes

Photos found here.

Posted by Ellen at 06:43 PM | Comments (0)
May 20, 2006
Boobs Smash!!!

Ron gets an eye-popping no-prize for bringing us Cans vs. cans. Video is SFW, although I may never look at a can of Fosters quite the same way again.

Posted by scott at 03:30 PM | Comments (1)
And Lo, the Fifth Seal was Broken

Just when you thought it couldn't get any weirder:

I have been to Iraq nine times since the American invasion three years ago, for a total of about 10 solid months. (My wife is counting.) During that time, I have seen bombs and blood, I have seen rebuilding and restructuring, and I have seen death and democracy. So what have I heard? That's easy: Lionel Richie.

Grown Iraqi men get misty-eyed by the mere mention of his name. "I love Lionel Richie," they say. Iraqis who do not understand a word of English can sing an entire Lionel Richie song.

Well, hey, if Hasslehoff can become a German pop god and Jerry Lewis can be made a French knight (or something), I suppose anything is possible.

What's next? Barry Manilow's Copa Cabana as the Nigerian national anthem?

Posted by scott at 02:23 PM | Comments (0)
May 19, 2006
Speak of the Dead

As part of the "DaVinci Code" promotional blizzard, a Japanese personality claims to have re-created what Mona Lisa and Leonardo himself may have sounded like when alive. Hey, this is the guy who invented the dog translator, you gotta trust him!

Posted by scott at 02:35 PM | Comments (0)
Signed Response

Posted by scott at 01:03 PM | Comments (2)
Yo Yo Yo, My Haji

Ok, well, after seeing this... rmm... "rap?" video, all I can say is I hope they shoot better than they rap. I bet it's even funnier if you know what they're parodying looks like.

Via Countercolumn.

Posted by scott at 12:19 PM | Comments (0)
A Glass far more than Half Full

Author Amir Taheri recently visited Iraq, and, not surprisingly, his observations are quite different than the ones the MSM provide us:

It would be hard indeed for the average interested citizen to find out on his own just how grossly [the MSM-generated] image distorts the realities of present-day Iraq. Part of the problem, faced by even the most well-meaning news organizations, is the difficulty of covering so large and complex a subject; naturally, in such circumstances, sensational items rise to the top. But even ostensibly more objective efforts, like the Brookings Institutions much-cited Iraq Index with its constantly updated array of security, economic, and public-opinion indicators, tell us little about the actual feel of the country on the ground.

He then provides a very large number of concrete examples of just how well many things are going over there. Be sure to read the whole thing before you dismiss me as an utterly blinded neocon cheerleader.

Via Instapundit.

Posted by scott at 10:53 AM | Comments (0)
But Can We Roast Them on an Open Fire?

Pat gets a nutty no-prize for letting us know about the discovery of a rare stand of American Chestnut trees in Albany GA. This species of hardwood tree was almost completely wiped out by a fast-spreading fungus in 1904, so finding a mature stand of them is quite impressive.

Posted by scott at 09:52 AM | Comments (0)

Thanks to Bike to Work day, I learned it's 21.93 miles from the end of my garage door to the wall behind my desk. 15 mph avg, ~ 1:45:00 travel time. Ellen had a performance last night and will do another one tonight, so we were actually taking it a little easy. Go us!

Now if the rain will either pass through before 3 pm or hold off until 5...

Posted by scott at 09:07 AM | Comments (3)
May 18, 2006

Ok, this aughta put the whole "biker bit by dog" thing in perspective:

A cyclist attacked by a bear in Banff National Park is recovering following surgery to repair torn muscles in his arm. Park officials say it appears the 41-year-old victim was stalked by the bear, before being viciously mauled.

Yet another reason why this biker is a roadie through and through. To Ellen and me, "roughing it" means no Tivo.

Posted by scott at 02:51 PM | Comments (0)
Down She Goes

Jeff gets a no-prize at the bottom of the ocean for bringing us news of the spectacular and useful demise of the USS Oriskany, a WWII-era Essex class aircraft carrier. Her career included combat tours to Korea and Vietnam, as well as a few supporting roles in various movies. She's the first (and so far largest) warship to be turned into an artificial reef.

She's sunk in 210 feet of water, which will make her a challenging dive even to reach the top of the island. Still, it'd be a helluva place to explore!

Posted by scott at 01:45 PM | Comments (0)

I'm not completely sure what a Lotus Omega is, but it certainly handed this cop his own ass. Cool, yes, but the cop got plenty close enough to see the plate number, and I don't care how fast your car goes you can't outrun a radio. When they catch this dude it will be... unpleasant.

Which is fine with me. I'm either minding my own business in a sedan that can be outrun by a kid on a big wheel, or a sports car built when "safety standards" meant a lap belt and a kiss on the cheek. I don't need maniacs in supercars screaming by at mach 2. Toss him in jail and take away his car.

Then give it to me.

Posted by scott at 12:46 PM | Comments (0)
Growing a Pair

For some reason Ellen won't let me grow a world-class mustache and beard, which i shame. I mean, look what she's missing!

Bah, who am I kidding. I can't stand mine to get much longer than "closely trimmed". The way a mustache acts like a sponge just annoys the crap out of me. And if my beard gets long enough all I do is sit around and pull it. Neat & trim, that's for me!

Posted by scott at 11:33 AM | Comments (0)
Gator Time

So are gators dangerous, or is the press just suddenly noticing them like they did with the Great Shark Attack frenzy a few years ago? Michael Yon thinks perhaps it's a bit of both:

When people eat gators, it never seems to make the news. But lately gators have killed three people, so it’s big in the news.

The State of Florida—where tourism is a multi-billion dollar industry—is quick to say that only 17 people have been killed by gators in Florida during the last 58 years. I am suspicious of this number, which somehow never seems to change despite the occasional story about man-eating gators. Media around the world have regurgitated the figure faithfully, but I have suspected for many years that someone is hiding the true body count. Before I get a wave of angry communiqués, or worse, whispers from the knowing who have proof of the “hidden-killer-gator-conspiracy,” I’ll admit the body count is not worth more than another minute on it, but I suspect –without substantiation –that my favorite state, Florida, pegs the body count low to avoid flushing the tourists. The State probably already has a press release with an excuse ready for the day when some pesky journalist figures out the real body count. After all, we are talking about gators; the attacks flash in the news and disappear.

Includes a detailed account of when the author got in a tangle with a 12 foot male!

Long ago, we used to live in Merrit Island Florida, and my parents have several stories of various alligator encounters. The one I remember is about a big male who used to terrorize the NASA parking lots, chewing off car tires for no reason anyone could figure out. Eventually he got overly ambitious and tried to chew the tire off a moving bus, thereby becoming an ex-alligator.

At least, that's the story. Always funny, sometimes even true!

Posted by scott at 10:28 AM | Comments (0)
Well I'll be a Monkey's Uncle

No, really:

Humans' evolutionary split from their closest relatives, chimpanzees, may have been more complicated, taken longer and probably occurred more recently than previously thought, scientists said on Wednesday.
The process of separation may have taken about 4 million years and there could have been some inter-breeding before the final break.

Has to do with X chromosome changes, and the estimated age of those changes. Weird!

Posted by scott at 09:37 AM | Comments (1)
May 17, 2006
Mmm... Tasty...

Like Olivia needs another excuse to fart alarmingly:

Consumers will soon be able to prepare baked beans on the toaster. Heinz is launching a frozen sandwich which cooks the beans inside the bread.

The student staple is popped in the toaster and heats up in around 60 seconds in a similar way to Kellogg's Pop Tarts.

All I can think of is how awful it would be to clean up after one that leaked.

Posted by scott at 03:22 PM | Comments (0)
But Should We Call it Nook-Yu-Ler?

There's duct tape, and then there's Duct Tape:

8979N – Nuclear Grade is designed for both permanent and temporary applications both indoors and outdoors.

Rated for use up to 200 degrees, and is meant to last for a year or more. I LOVE THIS COUNTRY!


Posted by scott at 01:47 PM | Comments (2)
Because Zipper Hoods are So 20th Century

I'd make a crack about these "Sci-Fi themed" fetish accessories being German, but something tells me they're probably just as prevalent over here. God only knows what the Japanese wear.

People are weird.

Posted by scott at 12:25 PM | Comments (0)
More "Wii-ing" on the Competition

Suddenly, coming up from the outside, here's Nintendo roaring back into the field:

Nintendo, which is trying to regain videogame market share from Microsoft and Sony, will likely sell its new Wii console for much less than its competitors' console prices. Merrill Lynch analyst Justin Post predicted Thursday that the new machine, which will be released this fall, will sell for $200, a move that could prompt software publishers to create more titles for the gaming system.

It would also appear Nintendo has finally made its development tools cheaper, and that this platform is easier to develop for than the others. The former was a legendary complaint about earlier Nintendo platforms which stunted their growth, and the latter addresses several complaints made by developers about the competitor's latest consoles.

Why are developers so important? Games don't write themselves! Couple that with an innovative controller and a price below, sometimes far below, the competition and you've got yourself a darned interesting market. For once.

Posted by scott at 09:47 AM | Comments (5)
May 16, 2006
Like We Got Nothing Better to Do

I only thought North Korea frothed like this:

Venezuela's military is considering selling its fleet of U.S.-made F-16 fighter jets to another country, possibly Iran, in response to a U.S. ban on arms sales to President Hugo Chavez's government, an official said Tuesday.
The Foreign Ministry said the U.S. move was aimed at weakening Chavez's government in preparation for an attack.

According to this, Venezuela has 21 F-16A block 15s. In capability, they're vaguely like 1982 Corvettes. Nice, especially if you're hunting Paco the cocaine farmer, or trying to keep the mob from taking your Fearless Leader to "hang out in the plaza", but not something of which one should be overly proud.

I don't doubt they're having trouble with them. US hardware, especially the aviation stuff, has a well-earned reputation for being fussy and high-maintenace (as well as elegant and extremely capable... sorta like my wife.*) They're designed with the assumption that large groups of highly-trained volunteers will be dedicated to keeping them running. They should've bought Soviet gear long ago, which is designed with the assumption that three teenage conscripts drunk on brake fluid** are all that stand between you and the cumulo-granite.

Threatening to sell them to Iran because you can't get parts? You think Iran can get parts? They've got a whole bunch of F-14As that've been sitting on various tarmacs for more than thirty years because they can't get parts. Even if F-16 parts are easier to get, you're still bringing an '82 Corvette to a race with '06 Corvettes, Vipers, and hell even a few McClaren F-1s. Achmed does not need these sorts of troubles.

But hell we're not the target for all of this. Clueless press monkeys and the folks back home are, and I'm sure it plays quite well with both.

* Badoom-CHEE. Thank you, thank you, I'll be here all week.

** They may have changed by now, but back in the 80s Soviet combat aircraft had brake fluid that was essentially high-grade ethanol. Teenagers, in the middle of the steppe, with gallons of booze in big drums? You do the math. It's a wonder any of their aircraft ever made it off the ground.

Posted by scott at 03:20 PM | Comments (0)
Live Long and Prosper, Brothah, yeeah!

Found on, I kid you not,, this "Star Trek 2.0" parody certainly gave me a chuckle. I remember playing with those dolls action figures "back in the day." Don't seem to remember them being that flexible.

But hey, memory is funny like that, no?

Posted by scott at 12:56 PM | Comments (0)
Happy Indeed

Sometimes it's very, very easy to be cynical about the war in Iraq. Other times, all too rarely, it becomes quite hard indeed. Let it roll all the way through before you let your jaundiced views overtake you. It becomes harder as it goes along.

At least one of those kids looks enough like her to be Olivia's sister.

Via Countercolumn.

Posted by scott at 11:48 AM | Comments (2)
More than Meets the Eye

Fark linked up this nifty little bit of CGI intended as some sort of "demonstration" of the upcoming Transformers movie. Or not. Or maybe someone is trying out. Nobody's quite sure. Looks pretty slick to me.

Posted by scott at 09:58 AM | Comments (1)
Maya Mysteries

Pat gets a no-prize with a maize god on it for bringing us this NYT piece on the discovery of what could be an entire new "epoch" of Mayan civilization:

The intriguing finds, including art masterpieces and the earliest known Maya writing, are overturning old ideas of the Preclassic period. It was not a kind of dark age, as once thought, of a culture that emerged and bloomed in Classic times, at places like the spectacular royal ruin at Palenque beginning about A.D. 250 and extending to its mysterious collapse around 900.

Unfortunately there's not enough writing for them to even begin trying to decipher it, but it's hoped other digs in nearby sites will reveal more examples with which to work.

Posted by scott at 08:47 AM | Comments (0)
My GOD! It HAS Led to Dancing!

Listen, my friends, undulating midriffs are Satan's playgrounds.

The article really does not make sense but then again do those people really make any sense?

Especially if we are "brazen women with veils and finger cymbals and foreign music — music that'll lead your sons and daughters into the clutches of animal instinct."

Posted by Ellen at 07:04 AM | Comments (2)
May 15, 2006
When Suburbia Attacks

Ah, the suburbs... the McMansions, the manicured cul-de-sacs, the giggling teenage slackers, the exploding soda bottles...

The rich white boys in my home town didn't do this exactly, but they did things like it. Yet another reason I never really hung out with that crowd all that much.

I've seen other instances of this kind of "fun" cutting and breaking hands. If someone can come up with a way to seal/shake/throw these things via a 10-foot pole, I'm all over it. Until then, I'll just watch the video and shake my head.

Posted by scott at 03:38 PM | Comments (0)
Mars or Bust is carrying news of some ambitious Mars-based programming coming soon from the Discovery Channel. Unfortunately it would appear to be slated for the Science Channel, that which we do not get at the moment*. Maybe we'll pick it up on re-runs somewhere?

* Our love of Tivo and my pathalogical hatred of cable boxes combine to keep us on the ol' basic cable standard. Which is still enough for us to usually have about 20 hours of programming stored at any one time. The upcoming cable card-based systems and new HD-Tivos may finally free us from this basic wasteland, but considering what the cost of the new gear will be, perhaps not any time soon.

Posted by scott at 12:29 PM | Comments (0)
Oh, the Things They'll Say

Now that it's auto racing season, Olivia and I are having a good time watching "racecars!" Not NASCAR, but F-1 and (lately) CART and IRL. No, really, there's something about small, shiny cars shrieking around and around a track that really seems to appeal to her not-quite three-year-old attention span. Oh be quiet, Ellen beat you to the "compares nicely with your own" joke a long time ago.

But, like Ellen, I've learned one must be careful which habits are imparted to our self-propelled mimic machine.

We have, for reasons immediately obvious to the females in the family and completely not-obvious to me, a giant dressing mirror in the den. Olivia uses this to dance and preen and practice screamingly funny facial expressions, making her look sort of like Jim Carrey, if Carrey were 3 feet tall and wore clear plastic slippers and a pink tu-tu, that is.

Anyway, yesterday morning Olivia had decided to do a little swirly dance with one of her blankets when on the TV screen behind her a CART driver decided to have himself a little bit of quiet time by bounding over a barrier, spinning the vehicle around twice, and scattering an impressive amount of his car across the landscape*. I said, without thinking much about it, "uh-oh!"

Olivia suddenly spun around, threw her blanket up in the air, shouted in her hyper-cute LittleGirlVoicetm, "GOD!" then threw the towel down to the ground, "DAMMIT!"

Barely suppressing a smile, I turned away from Olivia toward my left, where Ellen had been sitting typing away on her computer next to me on the couch. The look in her eyes as she stared at me would compare quite favorably to the one her snakes get when she puts a dead mouse in their cage.

"She got that one from you," she said.

Which of course caused me to turn back and say, "Olivia, we only say that when Schumacher or Alonso go out."

"Right daddy... soomahker alanso, right." Then she started making rubber faces at the mirror.

She's actually losing her timing a little bit. Normally this sort of thing is reserved for when A Gramma is around.

* The quiet time came at the end, after all the "tink tink p-tang tink" sounds had died down.

Posted by scott at 11:04 AM | Comments (2)
Magnetic Flip Time

Slashdot linked up this New Scientist article detailing new evidence for an upcoming magnetic field "flip":

By sifting through ships’ logs recorded by Cook and other mariners dating back to 1590, researchers have greatly extended the period over which the behaviour of the magnetic field can be studied. The data show that the current decline in Earth's magnetism was virtually negligible before 1860, but has accelerated since then.

The trend seems to indicate a total flip in perhaps 2000 years or so. During that time, the Northern lights will be visible across the whole planet and solar radiation will be "much more intense" at the surface. So ya better stock up on sunscreen, ya hear?

Personally, I blame Condi Rice.

Posted by scott at 09:55 AM | Comments (0)
At Least Now They Have Something to do in the Winter

Fark linked up this Cnews Canada article which takes a look at the "fallout" from a recent decency decision by that country's supreme court:

Those who prefer life closer to the edge of the conjugal bed say the high court's re-interpretation last December of the definition of indecency has fuelled a growing interest in private clubs that feature group sex, partner swapping, voyeurism and exhibitionism.

Like I said before, if the pictures found on exhibitionist websites are any indication, most people who want to be seen having sex are the people you least want to see having sex.

Rrrm... so I've been told. Yeah, that's it.. told.

Posted by scott at 08:02 AM | Comments (0)
May 14, 2006
Feed the Trees

So maybe we're not to blame after all:

New findings suggest that an ongoing, epic whodunit may actually be a whatdunit. That is, climate change, not humans, may be what killed off Ice Age mammoths, horses, and other large animals in North America.
The upstart forests [which grew as a result of climate change] transferred the landscape's nutrients to the treetops, out of the reach of large mammals. Elks and bison, it seems, adapted better to the new landscape than mammoths and horses.

15,000 BC or no, I blame Karl Rove.

Posted by scott at 02:30 PM | Comments (0)
Airplane Oopsies

You parked it where?!?

And, in the comments on Fark, also found:

Ain't aviation grand?

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

Happy mother's day Ellen!

And, in alphabetical order, happy mothers day also to:

Didi (Deedee?)

And everyone else! :)

Posted by scott at 09:53 AM | Comments (1)
May 13, 2006
Who You Callin' Uncivilized?

Terry Jones of Monty Python fame appears to have a new book coming out, and The Times Online has an interesting excerpt:

The unique feature of Rome was not its arts or its science or its philosophical culture, not its attachment to law. The unique feature of Rome was that it had the world’s first professional army. Normal societies consisted of farmers, hunters, craftsmen and traders. When they needed to fight they relied not on training or on standardised weapons, but on psyching themselves up to acts of individual heroism.

Seen through the eyes of people who possessed trained soldiers to fight for them, they were easily portrayed as simple savages. But that was far from the truth.

See Ellen! My ancestors weren't just a bunch of naked loons who painted themselves blue and danced around like maniacs! We had culture.

Posted by scott at 10:18 AM | Comments (1)
May 12, 2006
The Evolution of Dance


Posted by Ellen at 06:59 PM | Comments (2)
Apropos of Nothing II

(This time I spell checked it. Someone lost a no-prize for not spotting the first one!)

Your Quote of the Day:

"Remember, folks...finish your beer, because right now, there is a poor little boy in Africa who is sober."


Posted by scott at 06:53 PM | Comments (0)
Something Tells Me the Exhaust from This Won't Smell Like French Fries

Peak oil? What peak oil?

A New Zealand company has successfully turned sewage into modern-day gold.

Marlborough-based Aquaflow Bionomic yesterday announced it had produced its first sample of bio-diesel fuel from algae in sewage ponds.

Not much of a sample, but you have to start somewhere. Now, if everyone cracked down on those "greedy" oil companies and made sure they never made too much profit (while ignoring any losses), how far do you think something like this would've gotten?

Ah why do I even bother. Most of you still tell stories about 100-mpg carburetors and think the only reason we don't have solar energy is because you can't put a meter on the Sun. Foil hats on the left as you leave, please.

Posted by scott at 01:39 PM | Comments (0)
Reverse Outsourcing?

Problem: Young educated Americans can't get jobs because they're all being "outsourced" to India.

Solution: You got feet, don'tcha?

U.S. companies have been sending jobs overseas for years — 130,000 already in 2006, according to Forrester Research, which analyzes the technology market. It projects that the number will rise to more than 3.5 million by 2015.

But now there’s a twist — U.S. workers are taking jobs in India for what they see as a long-term investment in their future. And Indian companies are recruiting them.

The article plays up the low pay but makes absolutely no mention of the extremely low cost of living in India. The reason why Indians are flocking to these "poor" jobs is because those "poor" wages enable you to live quite nicely in a very upscale neighborhood. Now here comes a kid from a country with a legendary work ethic who already speaks the language of your customers. And he doesn't cost any more than the locals. You do the damned math.

Put that in your "giant sucking sound" and smoke it.

Posted by scott at 12:13 PM | Comments (0)
But Does it Make that "BEEP BEEP BEEP" Noise?

Slashdot linked up news that scientists have figured out how to make light so fast it travels in reverse. I tried to read the article, but half way through my head asploded. Those with harder noggins (i.e. Ron, Joshua, Pat, Tat, &c.) will have to give it a read and see if it makes more sense to them.

Posted by scott at 10:09 AM | Comments (1)
Joss Who?

Fans of Joss Whedon's work should find this interview with an extremely convincing "fake" Joss Whedon amusing. As nerdy as cons can be sometimes, I love them still because they're usually chock-full of extremely clever people who are simply there to have a good time.

Posted by scott at 09:10 AM | Comments (0)
Super Scooter!

James H. gets a no-prize with one too many wheels for bringing us Italy's "next big thing" in scooter design. Unfortunately the article itself is in Italian, so only pictures for you!

If we didn't live so far away from work, Ellen and I would probably both be using scooters to commute. The look on The Grammas's faces when they saw Olivia strapped on the back would be worth the price of admission alone.

Posted by scott at 08:09 AM | Comments (0)
Happy Birthday!

Happy Birthday Rich!

Posted by Ellen at 06:43 AM | Comments (1)
May 11, 2006
Can You Feel The Pain?

Rich, don't forget that number 30 is going to come out of your body and 31 will go in. I hope it doesn't hurt much.

Posted by Ellen at 09:57 PM | Comments (1)
Alfa Update

Whilst trolling around in Google news I found this update on Alfa Romeo's return to North America. Still "soon, really really soon!" but at least they're still saying "soon".

Not that it'll matter. These things'll be in the $50k range, way above my reach. Still, it'd be nice to see the ol' cross-and-serpent wandering around these streets again. Maybe I could pick one up used...

Posted by scott at 02:36 PM | Comments (0)
When the Stars go "Whirl"

Suzanne gets a no-prize with a secret companion for bringing us The Binary Research Institute, a place apparently dedicated to proving the Sun has a hidden, massive companion causing all sorts of irregularities in our solar system. You know, like cheese whiz and Hillary Clinton.

Posted by scott at 01:22 PM | Comments (0)
Plankton Predictor

BBCnews is carrying this article detailing the discovery that plankton "blooms" seem to precede most major earthquakes. The discovery could lead to important advances in earthquake prediction in costal areas.

Posted by scott at 12:34 PM | Comments (0)
That's-a Spicey Ghost-a

Personally, I blame George Bush:

The gate at the entrance to this tiny Sicilian village has come off its hinges and swings in the wind as cats wander into homes abandoned after a series of mystery fires.

Spontaneous fires started in mid-January in the town of Canneto di Caronia, in about 20 houses. After a brief respite last month, the almost daily fires have flared up again — even though electricity to the village was cut off.

With that many people nosing around I guess it must not be some enterprising unemployed teenage "yutes", but that's still my first choice as to what's going on.

Posted by scott at 11:39 AM | Comments (0)
E3 Update

Gamespot is carrying this E3 Xbox 360 update detailing the "AAA" list of games soon to be released. Yep, Halo 3 is on there. Now if I can just convince myself spending $$$ for just a single game is worth it. Daddy wants a new pair of bike shoes!

Posted by scott at 09:33 AM | Comments (0)
Back to Back They Faced Each Other

Making the rounds: a set of conjoined twins has been born in the DC area. Only word that I've seen so far is that they're "joined at the back", whatever that means. Here's to hoping it's a simple thing which can allow them to be easily separated!

Posted by scott at 08:46 AM | Comments (0)
May 10, 2006
Name that Dolphin

Slashdot linked up news that dolphins apparently call each other by name:

Bottlenose dolphins can call each other by name when they whistle, making them the only animals besides humans known to recognize such identity information, scientists reported on Monday.

Since Dolphins are also famous for being so horny the crack of dawn isn't safe (another thing they share with humans), I imagine the conversations are along the lines of "fish and f*ck". Sort of like an angler's tournament, but with fins.

Posted by scott at 04:36 PM | Comments (0)
Caveat Emptor

Like they always say, don't bid if you aren't going to pay:

A Chinese businessman who bought a Russian fighter jet online wants his money back after finding it could not be shipped to China, state media reported on Tuesday.

Since the guy still has his jet, I would imagine this would be pretty straightforward. With a minor deduction for processing, of course.

Posted by scott at 02:35 PM | Comments (0)
Fun with Cups

If it weren't for the sound track, I would've sworn this was just a sped-up video. Hey, everyone's gotta have a talent!

Posted by scott at 12:42 PM | Comments (0)

Slashdot linked up this Science Daily article detailing the discovery that immune system cells taken from a breed of highly cancer-resistant mice have been shown to combat cancers in "normal" mice. The research is hoped to eventually lead to a new method of cancer treatment in humans.

Posted by scott at 09:15 AM | Comments (1)
Big Iron

With pistons as big as golf carts and shell bearings that could double as hammock braces, I don't doubt this thing is the most powerful diesel engine ever. The shot with the crank installed makes me think, "Honey, I shrank the union!"

50% maximum thermal efficiency under load. Not too shabby!

Posted by scott at 08:36 AM | Comments (1)
Way Better than a Stupid ol' Message in a Bottle

While it's not uncommon for bits of crashed machinery to wash up on shore, I can't say I've ever heard of something traveling this far:

A tail section from a U.S. Navy fighter jet that crashed 3 1/2 years ago off Key West, Fla., has turned up 4,900 miles away on a beach in Ireland.

Fortunately the crew in the F-14 which once owned the tail section got out just fine.

Posted by scott at 07:32 AM | Comments (0)
May 09, 2006
Jelly Gun

New Scientist is reporting scientists have for the first time filmed a jelly fish's stinger in action. It moves with the speed and force of a bullet, using an elaborate "spring-and-trap-door" mechanism so small and fast it required a special camera to film it.

Posted by scott at 01:39 PM | Comments (0)
Fun with Frisbees

Who says white men can't jump? Well, ok, this white man can't jump. But boy that one sure can!

Posted by scott at 12:45 PM | Comments (0)
China Syndrome

It would appear the great dragon has feet of clay:

ESTIMATES of the growing pile of non-performing loans (NPLs) in China appear to have caught many by surprise, especially because Beijing's efforts to clean up its rickety state-owned banks were thought to have greatly reduced NPLs and the risk of a full-blown financial crisis.

According to Ernst & Young, the accounting firm, bad loans in the Chinese financial system have reached a staggering $US911 billion ($1.18 trillion), including $US225 billion in potential future NPLs in the four largest state-owned banks.

This equals 40 per cent of gross domestic product and China has already spent the equivalent of 25-30 per cent of GDP in previous bank bail-outs.

It would be interesting to find out how many NPLs are carried by, say, British banks, if only for comparison*. Something tells me there are far, far fewer.

The Japanese economy flopped around like a fish in the bottom of a boat for a decade for many of the same reasons. However, Japan's infrastructure was far more robust, and it seems like they're now finally pulling out of it.

Will China do the same thing? Perhaps, but probably not. If such trends continue, expect to see another east Asian meltdown like we saw back in the mid-90s. Should that happen, the oil bubble that's been building for the past two or three years will finally have its prick (as it were), and we'll all be back to 70c per gallon gasoline. If that happens, look out world, because the US economy will come roaring back with Europe and big chunks of Asia right behind it. Mr. Chavez will finally have his day in the village square, while the Gulf states close their eyes and put their foot down, hoping something else moves the wall they're heading for.

Ain't economics grand?

* You can't really compare most anyone else's banking sector to the US's, because ours is so incredibly de-centralized. Lots of banks, lots of branches, with comparatively little state control means it's quite difficult just to keep track of it all. Hence our own bad-loan S&L scandal of the late 80s.

Posted by scott at 10:29 AM | Comments (0)
One Step Closer to Anime Reality

First, gigantic self-propelled robot elephants, now this:

Robotic "tentacles" that can grasp and grapple with a wide variety of objects have been developed by US researchers.

Most robots rely on mechanical gripping jaws that have difficulty grabbing large or irregularly shaped objects. Replacing these with tentacle-like manipulators could make robots more nimble and flexible, say the scientists.

Includes video!

Posted by scott at 09:02 AM | Comments (0)
Truth and Consequences

Mark gets a no-prize made of swiss cheese for bringing us The Buick of Truth. Ever wonder just exactly what happens when you shoot a car? Wonder no more! You'll need to scroll through six pages of comments to see all the main articles, but they're definitely worth it.

Years ago a Car and Driver columnist said shooting at a car was possibly the funnest thing you could do with one. These pictures do nothing to dispel that assertion.

Posted by scott at 07:48 AM | Comments (1)
May 08, 2006
A World without Time

Anything that claims to de-bunk Noam Chomsky is at least worth a look:

More than 25 years ago, Professor Everett, then a missionary and now an ethnologist at the University of Manchester, decided to try to teach members of the obscure Pirahã tribe how to count. He would not succeed. Instead, he found a world without numbers, without time, one where people appeared to hum and whistle rather than speak.

This isolated tribe of some 350 people in tiny villages in the depths of the Brazilian jungle could turn our understanding of language on its head and disprove the main work of one of the world's most celebrated intellectuals, Noam Chomsky.

Cultural anthropology, like pretty much all "classic" fields of scientific academia, is as much about political bloodsport as it is real research. A bomb this big thrown this hard will reverberate for quite some time before the dust settles and we really learn anything. The fact that this guy's been studying the Pirahã for, what, thirty years and only now seems to be reaching the popular press speaks volumes about how long a new idea has to fight in the knife-scraped alleyways of academic journals to see the light of day.

Eventually they do, although it typically takes a really sharp journalist or TV producer to popularize things to the point that non-professionals start to take notice.

Posted by scott at 03:13 PM | Comments (1)
The ooz-a-wha?

As much as I think marketing departments need their own category in the special olympics (just so the marketroids will have a chance), I can't help but think this thing is a complete, albeit elaborate, hoax. Nobody is that out of touch with pop culture, especially when their money is on the line. What, you think a mass-market toy of any sort is cheap to make? They don't make die tooling out of cotton candy, ya know.

Still, it's funny to look at!

Posted by scott at 02:08 PM | Comments (0)
Wii'ing on the Competition?

Just when you thought Nintendo was down and out for the count, they go and surprise everyone again:

It's a remarkable experience. Instead of passively playing the games, with the new controller you physically perform them. You act them out. It's almost like theater: the fourth wall between game and player dissolves. The sense of immersion--the illusion that you, personally, are projected into the game world--is powerful. And there's an instant party atmosphere in the room. One advantage of the new controller is that it not only is fun, it looks fun. When you play with an old-style controller, you look like a loser, a blank-eyed joystick fondler. But when you're jumping around and shaking your hulamaker, everybody's having a good time.

The new console, dubbed the "Wii" (pronounced "we", apparently), suddenly looks a lot more interesting. No announced price point or release date (that I can find, at any rate), so two of the most critical factors in the success of any consumer electronics device are still up in the air. Nintendo has a well-deserved reputation for doing what it wants, when it wants, for its own reasons. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. We'll just have to wait and see if it works this time.

Posted by scott at 01:03 PM | Comments (0)
Time to Go A'splorin!

Joshua gets a no-prize with a map for bringing us news of the opening of an extensive new multi-use trail in our area:

A 40-mile trail connecting northern and southern Fairfax County, which will open officially with a day-long celebration Saturday, could give root to a network of walking and biking trails in the congested county, officials said yesterday.

A more detailed description of the trail (found here) makes it sound less like a smooth ride and more like the set of connected disparate trails that it is, so I don't think we're talking about a North-South W&OD here. Still, anything that provides bike opportunities away from cars is always worth exploring!

Posted by scott at 11:55 AM | Comments (2)
Probe Problem

It appears all is not well with the Venus Express probe:

An instrument on the European Space Agency's Venus Express spacecraft is stuck, rendering the device useless until mission controllers can move it to its proper position.

The instrument's main purpose is to measure the temperature of the atmosphere and surface of the planet, potentially spotting signs of volcanic activity and weather. Controllers are still working on different fixes for the problem. The probe carries seven instruments, so the failure of one will not cause a failure of the entire mission.

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

Is The Sims the next barbie?

As far as we know, children have always played with dolls of one sort or another to act out variations on their own lives, or lives they observe or imagine. Today, a vast and growing number of kids are doing the same thing — but with a very new tool. Instead of dolls, they are using video games. And perhaps most of all, they're using The Sims.

Ellen was only interested in using cheat codes to build bigger and bigger houses, which she promptly tore down and re-built again. I still call the McMansions in our area "Sims houses" because they even look like the stuff she built. I'd never much thought of it before, but as I recall her interest in the game actually did wane when we bought a real house.

Me? Oh I played it too, but after awhile I realized it was essentially a real-time strategy (RTS) game, and I'd much rather muck around with the conquering armies more common to mainstream RTS. I'm a guy, whaddayawant?

Posted by scott at 09:03 AM | Comments (2)
May 07, 2006
It's A Boy!

AN ANCIENT riddle of the sands has been solved by modern hospital technology. The mummified remains of King Tutankhamun have been found to be, let us say, intact.

Read entire article here.

Posted by Ellen at 08:33 PM | Comments (0)
May 06, 2006
Snake Charmer


Joshua came out last night to take pixes of me dance at Tiger Cafe. Scott and I liked this one quite a bit and we wanted to share it. Many many thanks to BlueLens for the pix!

Posted by Ellen at 07:55 PM | Comments (5)
Furious Four

Fark linked up what must be one of the more original web games available. Hell it takes me half the available time just to figure out what's going on.

Posted by scott at 08:55 AM | Comments (0)
May 05, 2006
Hitchin' a Ride

Damned press weenies. They always get to do the fun stuff. Bah, I guess I'm still happy for anyone who gets to go on a hop with the Blue Angels. I wonder if my old home town newspaper would credential me so I could give it a shot?

Posted by scott at 12:41 PM | Comments (0)
Tiny Dancer

Pat gets a music box no-prize for bringing us this New York Times piece about a very special sort of ballet class:

... There are no lithe leaps, perfect pirouettes or pointed toes here. Most girls cannot walk or stand, much less make a shallow curtsy. Their crutches and walkers lie nearby and their customized ballet slippers are stretched over leg braces.

The eight little ballet students, who have cerebral palsy and other debilitating physical conditions, are assisted in class by teenage volunteers with strong healthy bodies and infinite patience. The teacher is Joann Ferrara, a physical therapist who owns and runs Associated Therapies, where most of the girls go for treatment.

It's nice to read things like this which renew your faith in humanity.

Posted by scott at 09:40 AM | Comments (0)
Fun with Fat

Problem: Adults are getting fatter, all over the world. Women in denial about this try and buy clothing too small for them, leading to any number of feminine fashion emergencies and men trying to claw their eyes out.

Solution: Cheat:

While Americans have statistically gotten larger, women's clothing has gotten smaller -- that is, if the numbers on the size labels are to be believed. It's no secret that retailers have been playing to women's vanity for years by downsizing the sizes on garment labels, but the practice has reached an extreme in recent months with the introduction of the sizes ''double zero" and ''extra, extra small." If vanity sizing continues on this path, analysts say, it is only a matter of time before clothing sizes are available in negative integers.

Ok, how to relate this to your garden-variety beer swilling male pig. Hmm... ok, remember when insurance companies started raping people when they tried to buy a high-performance car, so the car companies started low-balling the horsepower ratings? It's sort of like that, but in a skirt.

Posted by scott at 08:41 AM | Comments (0)
May 04, 2006

LOOKEE!! I'm posted under Friday night as a belly dancer!

Posted by Ellen at 10:03 PM | Comments (0)

Didn't momma tell you to always check where something's been before you put it in your mouth:

Hungarian builders who drank their way to the bottom of a huge barrel of rum while renovating a house got a nasty surprise when a pickled corpse tumbled out of the empty barrel, a police magazine website reported.

Horrific pun from Joshua in 3... 2... 1...

Posted by scott at 03:49 PM | Comments (2)
Super Oddity Explained

Pat gets an explosive no-prize for bringing us news that sometimes astronomers get things right:

A star once hidden by a stellar death shroud is the source of odd behavior of its companion supernova, a new study has found.

The find has laid to rest lingering questions over how the supernova, known as SN2001ig, seemed to change its cosmic stripes within weeks while astronomers looked on.

Nice to see the predictions working out for once!

Posted by scott at 03:20 PM | Comments (0)
Stasits and Technocrats and Greenies, oh My!

After 30 years of trying, it appears the busybodies have the upper hand:

Amid a growing public outcry over rising gasoline prices, several long-resistant lawmakers indicated yesterday that they may consider raising fuel economy standards for passenger cars for the first time in more than 30 years.

Certainly the fact that all car companies have models which get gas mileage well in excess of any proposed regulation has no bearing on this matter. Certainly the fact that these models are already seeing a spike in sales means nothing at all. Certainly the fact that the last time something like this was tried an entire industry experienced a decade of loss and contraction should be completely discounted. We know what's good for you! You're obviously not smart enough to do it yourself, so we're going to force you to do it!

Or, as someone else said:

America is a country rich in resources, both financial and natural. The Bureau of Land Management estimates that three trillion gallons of oil and 362 trillion feet of natural gas lie just offshore, maybe more. We also have enormous coal shale fields, and coal fields, and nuclear power plant technology, and endless alt energy ingenuity. While we should be launching a massive and comprehensive push for energy self-sufficiency, a bunch of point-scoring politicians are pandering to tree-huggers getting high on self-righteous Bush bashing down at the low-CARB CAFE.

We let a bunch of self-righteous liberals tell us all what to do in the early seventies because Watergate and Vietnam made us think maybe someone else out there could do a better job. Our reward? Forced integration, stagflation, recession, exploding social welfare rolls, cultures of entitlement and seperation, international humiliation, and domestic turmoil and riots.

Liberals had their shot and they blew it, because any doctrine which treats humans as they should be and not as they are is always doomed to failure. Will we let it all happen again?

Not as long as I can reach a ballot box.

Posted by scott at 01:49 PM | Comments (2)
Trek Tech Talk

BBCnews is carrying this article detailing a new advancement in cloaking technology. Yeah, you heard me, cloaking technology. Turns out it might be possible to create a gizmo that makes things invisible, using a "superlens" made out of newly discovered materials. So far the scientists are only talking about making a bit of dust invisible but hey, you gotta start somewhere.

Will women's locker rooms ever be the same again?

Posted by scott at 12:38 PM | Comments (0)
Maybe Now I'll go Out and Get the Dratted Things

Never one to turn down a loose buck, Lucasfilm is preparing to release another "limited edition" Star Wars DVD set:

In response to overwhelming demand, Lucasfilm Ltd. and Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment will release attractively priced individual two-disc releases of Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. Each release includes the 2004 digitally remastered version of the movie and, as bonus material, the theatrical edition of the film. That means you'll be able to enjoy Star Wars as it first appeared in 1977, Empire in 1980, and Jedi in 1983.

I wonder if they'll clean up the originals, or just do a straight transfer? If the latter, fans may not be as happy as they think they will, as a remastered transfer almost always has better picture quality.

Posted by scott at 10:03 AM | Comments (0)
The Whaleback

Fark linked up news that a giant new feature has "grown" out of the Mount St. Helens caldera:

A slab of rock the size of a football field is standing on end inside the crater.

The giant 'fin' is pushing upwards of four to five feet a day, but is not growing taller because it tends to crumble as it grows.

Don't mess with mother nature. Includes several extremely impressive pictures!

Posted by scott at 08:43 AM | Comments (0)
May 03, 2006
Appropos of Nothing

Quote of the day:

"The problem with defending the purity of the English language is that English is about as pure as a cribhouse whore. We don't just borrow words; on occasion, English has pursued other languages down alleyways to beat them unconscious and riffle their pockets for new vocabulary." -- James D. Nicoll

Posted by scott at 04:14 PM | Comments (0)
I See an Unemployment Line in His Future

Insert Bush administration joke here:

A Philippine judge who claimed he could see into the future and admitted consulting imaginary mystic dwarfs has asked for his job back after being fired by the country's Supreme Court.

Perfectly normal, perfectly healthy.

Posted by scott at 03:17 PM | Comments (0)
I Bet that Rattly Wheel is a Bitch

The thing is, motorcycles have suspensions, and brakes. Shopping carts don't.

And you thought it was just homeless people who stole shopping carts.

Posted by scott at 01:28 PM | Comments (0)
Chicken Little on the Moon

New Scientist is carrying this article detailing efforts to protect future lunar astronauts from something nobody seems to have mentioned before:

A meteoroid blasting through a Moon base would be a bad day in space. So, with NASA now planning to return astronauts to the Moon as early as 2018, scientists are combing through 30-year-old seismic data to see exactly how big a threat impacts pose to future lunar explorers.

So much for the "useless" Apollo missions, eh?

Posted by scott at 12:21 PM | Comments (0)
What, no Bicycle Jersies?

Hey, they're a proud sponsor of Jesus Christ, you know their stuff's gonna be good. Right?

Meh, what's a little pretension between friends?

Posted by scott at 10:12 AM | Comments (0)
Fun with Signs

Now why didn't I think of this:

Electronic road signs are annoying. I don't have a problem with these signs warning me about road construction, except when they're left up -- flashing their stupid warnings -- well after the work is completed. Recently a construction company left a pair of these signs in my neighborhood, blasting out their pointless messages. Being a creative tinkerer, I decided to do something about it.

I know why. Because whenever I try a prank like this, without fail, it blows up in my face. Guarantee you a cop would be taking a leak in the woods behind the sign, or would be cruising for no good reason just as I was punching buttons.

With pictures!

Posted by scott at 09:12 AM | Comments (0)
May 02, 2006
Wardrobe Malfunction!

Watch the ENTIRE thing!

Posted by Ellen at 06:19 PM | Comments (0)
More Pyramid Power

Lisa R. gets a gigantic no-prize for bringing us, a site that seems to be a combo blog/website containing lots of detail about the Bosnian pyramids we linked up earlier today. I didn't search through it in-depth, but from what I scanned I still couldn't find any indication of how old people thought the things actually are. Weird.

Posted by scott at 03:33 PM | Comments (0)
The... The Horror

"It was as if millions of voices cried out in terror, and then were suddenly silent. I fear something terrible has happened:"

Cargonews Asia reports that a massive fire on board a container ship en route from Singapore to Rotterdam may have been caused by an explosion of fireworks in a container.
It went up in flames at the end of March but only now is it becoming clear that many of the containers on board were full of bicycles and bike kit. said: "Dutch AGU for instance, knows that a container with bike underwear, which they badly need, is some still somewhere on the ship, apparently safe. Other containers are packed with the full year’s production of certain types of bikes."

Shorts my friend, bike shorts.

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

Thomas Sowell first lays the smack-down on all those foil hat conspiracy theories about rising gas prices, and the people who make them:

Ironically, the people who are making the most noise about the high price of gasoline are the very people who have for years blocked every attempt to increase our own oil supply. They have opposed drilling for oil off the Atlantic coast, off the Pacific coast, or in Alaska. They have prevented the building of any new oil refineries anywhere for decades.

They have fought against the building of hydroelectric dams or nuclear power plants to generate electricity without the use of oil. They love to talk about their own pet "alternative energy sources," without the slightest attention to what these would cost in terms of money, jobs, or our national standard of living.

Even when one of their pet "alternative energy sources" -- windmills -- is proposed to be built near them, suddenly it is not right to spoil their view.

Then he sounds a warning about what might happen if those evil oil companies are "brought to heel:"

"Windfall" profits and windfall losses are all part of the same adjustment process. If politicians seize the windfall profits and leave windfall losses alone, what that means over a cycle of years is that the average rate of return on oil production falls below what is needed to attract the investments that greater oil exploration and production require.

One thing he doesn't point out, which has only been mentioned in passing in the MSM, is that the economies that are largely driving these price increases are doing so because of subsidies of their own. India, China, and Malaysia in particular heavily subsidise their fuel prices. These artificially low prices therefore provide no incentive for people to cut back or become more efficient. So, while fuel use gradually goes down and efficiency goes up here in the West, exactly the opposite is happening in the East, and so the prices stay high.

But, as Mr. Sowell points out, trying to make reality go away through politics is like keeping a tiger in your house because you have a fridge full of meat. Eventually the fridge goes empty, the tiger gets hungry, and suddenly all the good intentions in the world aren't enough to save you.

Posted by scott at 12:47 PM | Comments (1)
Set Horse = Dead; Beat(Horse);

As if we didn't already know Hollywood was completely out of ideas:

Kyle Newman has signed on to direct "Revenge of the Nerds," a remake of the seminal 1984 teen comedy.

Oh hell what do I know, damned thing will probably end up being pretty good. NERRRRDSSSSSS!!!

Posted by scott at 11:35 AM | Comments (0)
Hunting the Hunter

Countercolumn linked up this Marine Times article detailing recent efforts to nab everyone's favorite islamoloon Zarqawi. Judging by the number of times we've almost had him, it's not a matter of if, but when.

Posted by scott at 10:29 AM | Comments (3)
Pyramid Power

Making the rounds: Scientists have discovered what could be an ancient pyramid far larger than the Great Pyramid of Giza. The really interesting part is where it's located:

Researchers in Bosnia on Wednesday unearthed the first solid evidence that an ancient pyramid lies hidden beneath a massive hill — a series of geometrically cut stone slabs that could form part of the structure's sloping surface.

So far I haven't found any word on who might've built them, or when. Maybe when the Discovery documentary comes out they'll have it all figured out.

Posted by scott at 09:10 AM | Comments (0)
May 01, 2006
Hot Tub Chixs


Many thanks to BlueLens for the excellent pix!

Posted by Ellen at 08:44 PM | Comments (1)
Language Lab

So which is harder, Japanese or German? Why is English a comparatively easy language to learn? How do you start? This comparative table of languages provides answers to those questions and more. It tracks well with what I remember of German (there is one way to speak, it is German, and there are no variations. None! Repeat! None! Repeat!), and what I've read of English as a language (no genders + simple grammar + monster vocabulary = hyper flexibility).


Posted by scott at 02:48 PM | Comments (0)
My Kind of Decoration

Ellen, of course, would want to paint a cat on it:

A Chinese businessman has bought a MiG-21f plane from a U.S. seller on the online auction Web site eBay for $24,730 and plans to use it to decorate an empty space at his offices, a newspaper reported Sunday.

The article also provides a brief update on that aircraft carrier some Chinese businessmen bought from Russia. You know, the one that circled in the Black Sea, towed by a tug, for something like three years? It still doesn't have a real home.

Posted by scott at 12:50 PM | Comments (0)
Welcome to Heart Attack City

What. The. Hell:

A warm evening and a broken air conditioner prompted a 38-year-old woman to sleep naked with her window open Friday night.

She awoke to a tongue being slipped inside her ear by a stranger, whose body was partially inside the window.

It never ceases to amaze me the crap some men think they can get away with when they're around women. The dude's also lucky to be alive, as there are many women who routinely sleep with a gun nearby, and there's not a jury in this country that'd convict in this situation.

Posted by scott at 12:15 PM | Comments (1)

While not exactly "Man Bites Dog", Alfa winning a BMW design prize is still a backward sort of headline. The car is gorgeous, though I imagine if it were ever produced all I'd be doing is admiring from afar.

Posted by scott at 10:40 AM | Comments (1)
Personally, I do this all the Time

(Self medicate, that is...)

It would appear domistication hasn't bred out all the smarts of your garden variety sheep:

In anecdotal reports, primates have been observed engaging in self-medication by selecting a specific plant when something has made them ill. Now biologists at Utah State University, Logan, have run experiments that show sheep choosing the right drug to cure an illness.

Seems like a "well DUH!!!" sort of experiment to me, but you never can tell what goofy result will lead you down a whole new path of discovery. Follow that sheep!

Posted by scott at 09:35 AM | Comments (1)
When Busybodies Attack

"Look Martha! There's porn in that there house!"

The tale of the Hayvenhurst cul-de-sac, where several adult productions have been shooting almost nonstop for two weeks (and were booked to continue through Monday), pulls back the curtain on how one of the region's most thriving industries — pornography — coexists with the city itself.

Which just goes to show a paper which most likely accepts advertising for escort services can be just as prudish and self-contradicting as the people who create it. Had the cops actually tried to shut it down, I have no doubt we'd see a story on "the oppression of free speech."

That is, if the porn guys had a good publicist anyway. What, you think the LA Time just stumbled onto this story? Hint: rich people know how to create press releases too.

Posted by scott at 08:26 AM | Comments (0)
Happy Anniversary!

Happy 7th!! Anniversary Scott!

Love ya more each day!

Posted by Ellen at 06:55 AM | Comments (4)