June 29, 2006
Who Built The Ark?

A team of Texas archaeologists believe they may have located the remains of Noah's Ark in Iran's Elburz mountain range.

Didn't they try to crack this case years ago?

Posted by Ellen at 05:26 PM | Comments (1)
They hoped for Tut's mom, but tomb has no mummy

Archaeologists hoped the first tomb discovered in the Valley of the Kings in 80 years would hold the mummy of King Tut's mother. They opened the last of eight sarcophagi Wednesday, revealing no mummies but finding something almost as valuable: embalming materials and ancient woven flowers.

Check it Out!

Posted by Ellen at 05:18 PM | Comments (1)
Snake that can change color found in Borneo

I know Scott, I can't have one.

A water snake with chameleon-like ability has been found in the forests of Borneo island by researchers from the U.S. and Germany working in the area. The World Wildlife Fund said Tuesday the previously unknown snake, which is poisonous, can change the colour of its skin spontaneously like a chameleon.
Posted by Ellen at 06:59 AM | Comments (0)
June 28, 2006
The Paw Nebula
Posted by Ellen at 12:13 PM | Comments (0)
Hairy Poles

Owner Dougie Freeman installed a stripper pole at West End Salon & Spa on Sunday for “Dancing for Discounts,” a summer promotion offering appealing prices for customers who dance at the pole.

Thats a lot of little old ladies looking for a discount.

Posted by Ellen at 08:13 AM | Comments (0)

Muffy, a 9-year-old Burmese python, measures 22-plus feet. That's long enough to take America's longest title from Lulu, a snake at the Bronx Zoo in New York City.

Read entire article here.

I know, I know, Ellen you can't have one.

Posted by Ellen at 08:07 AM | Comments (1)
June 27, 2006

I don't know what to make of this.


Posted by Ellen at 08:12 PM | Comments (0)
Help! Help! I'm Being Held Captive!

Well, not exactly "held captive." More like, "am stuck in this @$#@$ hotel because I have to be downtown by 7 am every day from now until Saturday." Sort of thing. Did I mention the monsoon-like rain outside forcing me to eat hotel food?

Something tells me inveterate traveler Ron will have negative sympathy, but them's the breaks.

So right now I'm camped out in the "executive lounge." I got access because my roomie* is the convention manager's son. The broadband access is free but somewhat flakey, otherwise it's a decent enough place. Now if someone will just explain to me how an "honor bar" works?

* Yeah, roomie. Did I mention my employer is also cheap?

Posted by scott at 05:24 PM | Comments (3)
It's A Precious

True story!

Several years ago I was asked by Tina, an asstant of mine, if I ever heard of a cat breed called a 'precious'. Turns out neither of us had never heard of it.

When I went to the client inquiring about the cat, I noticed that she looked like a regular short haired cat. Nothing fancy, no blue hair, stubby legs, or tin foil hats anywhere.

But the owner was rather insistant that the cat was a new breed called a 'precious'.

The nice thing about new clients is that they normally bring their breeder papers in with them.

A-ha! a phone number!

Three minutes into the phone call the breeder is laughing out loud at me. "That's not a precious! She is just a regular short haired cat! Her name is Precious.


Posted by Ellen at 04:09 PM | Comments (0)
Slow Updates This Week

Scott is out of town for the week! Well, he is at a conference 40 minutes away from the house... but still, your regular daily updator will be too busy for AMCGLTD.

Please be patient, I will make sure I get updates in the evening for you all to read!

~Thanks Ellen

Posted by Ellen at 10:27 AM | Comments (0)
June 26, 2006
The Silver Hammer

Joshua gets a weird and twisted no-prize for bringing us this animated realization of "Maxwell's Silver Hammer". I'd never heard of the thing, which is just as well. Even though she's a girl, I still can see Olivia coming come up with something like this some day.

Lord help us all.

Posted by scott at 06:58 PM | Comments (0)
Storage Collection

While digging around for obscure German WWII aircraft (it's a slow day), I found this nifty collection of photographs of the old Smithsonian Paul Garber Storage Facility. This was where most of the Smithsonian's air and space collection was held, and it was, well, sort of open to the public. You had to make an appointment, and tours were given most days.

I saw it back in 1995, four years before these were taken, but still recognize most of the things in the pictures. It's closed now, and I never got around to going back. Ellen claims to be quite disappointed, but she tends to roll her eyes when she says it so I'm not sure I believe her. A dusty, un-airconditioned collection of warehouses full of junked old airplanes... what's not to love?

A lot of these aircraft are now on display, but many are not. I hope once they get the restoration section of the annex built that The Swoose (the only "shark-fin" B-17 in existence) and the Go-229 flying wing (a Nazi "might-have-been" that never flew) are at the top of their "to-do" list.

Posted by scott at 03:31 PM | Comments (1)
That's Mister Avon Lady to You, Bub

Why am I suddenly reminded of an old Saturday Night Live skit:

On Penny Creek Drive in Bluffton, South Carolina, there was a knock, knock, but it was no joke. In a matter of moments, amateur photographer Richard Holinski ripped off the pictures that tell the story. A wayward 6-foot alligator was seemingly trying to ring the doorbell at a neighbor's home.

And here I thought all this time that only Florida had to worry about alligators.

Posted by scott at 02:26 PM | Comments (1)
Charlotte's [Ancient] Web

BBCnews is carrying this report summarizing the discovery of the oldest fossilized spiderweb found to-date. Located in a chunk of fossilized amber found in Spain, the web is not complete but is intact enough to convince scientists it was a classic "orb" web. The find also includes some of the web's victims, all of whom met their demise some 110 million years ago.

Posted by scott at 12:29 PM | Comments (0)
RIP: Harriet

Not sure how this one got by us: Harriet the tortoise died last week of heart failure. At 175, she was the oldest living creature around.

And no Ellen, you still can't have one.

Posted by scott at 10:40 AM | Comments (3)
If Only They'd do Football...

... we wouldn't have to worry about what Ron's casket should look like some day:

Eternal Image Inc., which makes customized caskets and urns, said on Friday it has signed a multiyear licensing agreement with Major League Baseball that allows the company to reproduce the names and logos of all 30 league teams on a new line of caskets and urns.

The only real baseball fan we know personally is Joshua, but he's nowhere near this level. However, it's probably only a matter of time/money before the blue star is available on a silver casket. Good thing Ron's not goth... he'd probably sleep in one if it ever came out.

Posted by scott at 09:46 AM | Comments (1)
I Guess it'll be McDonald's-San from Now On

I think the axiom "everything tastes better fried" is gonna get a workout from this:

If Morio Sase has his way, hungry teenagers around the world will soon be snacking on something more exotic than McDonald's hamburgers: takoyaki, or octopus dumplings.

Bah... if people eat sushi, they'll eat anything. Olivia will probably want hers dipped in ketchup. Or Diet Coke. No, really!

Posted by scott at 08:41 AM | Comments (0)
June 25, 2006
Daughter... Princess... Center?

Posted by Ellen at 07:49 PM | Comments (2)


Olivia took one swing at the pinata and she was done. So her cousin, James, finished it off.

Posted by Ellen at 07:41 PM | Comments (0)
The Chlorine Mermaid 3.0


Olivia is officially a mermaid this year! She even told her Daddy she was. According to Scott, Olivia swam across the wide end of the pool all by herself.

Posted by Ellen at 07:05 PM | Comments (1)
Gun Camera

Also from Fark, this neat collection of "recently declassified" color gun camera footage. Don't know about the declassified part... I think I've seen some of this stuff before, if only in black and white. Still, it gets you about as close to WWII air combat as anyone but the pilots could get.

Posted by scott at 08:42 AM | Comments (0)
Adding Up

Fark linked up this wild video of starlings "favoring" a tree which isn't really equipped for it. The only way you'd get me to stand that close to that many of them is by giving me an umbrella.

Posted by scott at 08:29 AM | Comments (0)
June 24, 2006
Happy 3rd!!


*Due to some computer problems today we were unable to update AMCGLTD. But hey, we were busy celebrating O's birthday!

Posted by Ellen at 09:55 PM | Comments (3)
June 23, 2006

I've often heard it said that atoms were made up of mostly empty space, but I never really got my head around the implications of that. Someone else couldn't either, so they created this "scale model" to help them visualize it. Note the sideways scroll bar.


Posted by scott at 02:53 PM | Comments (1)
Bite My Shiny Metal Ass, Again

It would seem the on-again/off-again new season of Futurama is, well, on again. Looks like all the original voice actors have signed on as well. Bender rides again!

Posted by scott at 01:21 PM | Comments (0)
Bead Bashing

Pat gets a very ancient no-prize for bringing us news of yet another "back-dating" of the development of human culture:

Archaeologists have discovered that 100,000-year-old shells found in Israel and Algeria were decorative beads. This suggests that modern human forms of behaviour, such as language, developed earlier than previously thought.

It's beginning to look more and more likely that the emergence of "modern" behaviors will in fact coincide with the emergence of modern anatomy. This is actually a Good Thing, because one of the great mysteries of human evolution was why it took around 160,000 years after the anatomy changed for modern culture to suddenly explode onto the scene.

Posted by scott at 12:09 PM | Comments (0)
Ridin' On

Joshua gets a no-prize he can pedal for bringing us news of planned bike access improvements to the DC area. While northern Virginia actually has a surprising number of good trails, they tend not to connect to each other, and sometimes just stop in the middle of a field or at the edge of a curb. Getting them knitted together and then connecting them to the Maryland side would be very nice indeed.

Posted by scott at 10:16 AM | Comments (0)
Word of (Fish) Mouth

Fark linked up this interesting article describing how fish select their cleaners:

The researchers set up an experiment where client fish could observe two cleaners, one dutifully munching away at another client's parasites and another swimming freely near another client.

Taking the cleaner fishes' past performances into account, the clients chose the cooperative, hard-working fish significantly more often than the loafer.

So maybe our goldfish really aren't (yet more) self-propelled eating machines coming up with clever ways to widdle in our house. They may be smart self-propelled eating machines coming up with clever ways to widdle in our house.

Posted by scott at 09:16 AM | Comments (0)
June 22, 2006
A Tattoo, for... rrm... Someone

No, Ellen, you can't have one. Site is just barely safe for work, at least that page is anyway.

Posted by scott at 02:52 PM | Comments (6)
Do not Pass Go do not Collect $200

Well, one advantage of being buddhist is being able to give clever answers to these sorts of questions:

Conservatives are more confident than liberals that they'll avoid hell—and that they know someone who won't. Liberals are less confident about their own chances of escaping hell and less sure they can identify the damned. These are a few results from an unusual online survey Beliefnet conducted this month among 10,000 of its members.

Ellen was raised Catholic, and according to her that pretty much gaurantees a one-way ticket, going down. Then again, she's not a practicing Catholic. I once asked her how long Catholics had to practice before they got good at it, but she hit me with a pillow instead of giving me an answer.

Why yes, actually, I do enjoy non sequiturs, and aren't the sandwiches good too?

Posted by scott at 12:26 PM | Comments (0)
~ In Days of Old, When Knights Were Bold ~

Turns out rubbers, of a sort, actually had been invented:

The oldest surviving condom in the world has gone on display in an Austrian museum.The reusable condom dates back to 1640 and is completely intact, as is its orginal users' manual, written in Latin.

I think we may have linked this up before, but if we did I know it didn't have a picture like this article does.

Posted by scott at 11:28 AM | Comments (0)
Well Duh

PROBLEM: Eutopian greenies and reactionary technocrats get together and create a treaty purpose-built to sink the economy of any nation dumb enough to sign it. Which yours just did.


Many governments, including some that claim to be leading the fight against global warming, are harbouring a dirty little secret. These countries are emitting far more greenhouse gas than they say they are, a fact that threatens to undermine not only the shaky Kyoto protocol but also the new multibillion-dollar market in carbon trading.

Thing is, I don't trust the scientist who's "found" the cheating any more than I trust the governments reporting they're not. Environmental movements have always been far more about politics than they ever have been about science. When the left's favorite social systems were proven to be bankrupt, most of their believers simply started playing for a different team, and it's so bad now that you don't even have to rub a green leader very hard to get the red to show through.

Is global warming happening? Probably, evidence seems pretty clear to me. But every reasonable estimate I've ever seen or heard about projects its effect to happen over decades, if not centuries. Given that time frame, market forces are more than adequate to address the problem, no special treaty needed.

And don't give me anything about shifting currents or melting bergs. The planet's done that for as long as its been around, and life seems to be getting along just fine. It took us two centuries to even notice anything is changing, and it's so subtle we still argue about it.

No, global environmental apocalypse is about as likely as the worker's social apocalypse was in the previous two centuries, and the results of listening to the prophets of the former will most likely lead to the results of the latter. Namely, the only ones heading for real disaster are the ones listening to those predicting it.

Posted by scott at 09:22 AM | Comments (1)
June 21, 2006
Cargo Carrier

Probably not new, but I'd never heard of a camelpack for dogs. Anything that lets the beasties pull their own weight (or more) is fine by me.

The turtle is as close as Ellen's getting to a dog, and it'll eventually get about as big as a beagle. I wonder if the straps would fit?

Posted by scott at 02:54 PM | Comments (0)
Super Bunnyman

Those bunnies are at it again, this time running through Superman in 30 seconds. Hopefully they got paid to be part of the promotional juggernaut that is the remake, but you never know.

Via Drumwaster.

Posted by scott at 01:59 PM | Comments (0)
Bird Find

Been meaning to link this one up, but kept forgetting: scientists in China have discovered a large group of well-preserved fossil birds from the middle Cretaceous period. When combined with earlier bird finds from a different branch of the family tree, it appears to imply that birds split into two main types very early on, one adapted to land, the other to water. Later, perhaps due to the K-T impact, the land branch died out and the water branch moved back to land.

Posted by scott at 01:07 PM | Comments (1)
A Park, for the Rest of Us

There's parks, and then there's parks. Olivia loves parks, but I think the one with the giant rat in it might give her pause.

Posted by scott at 11:47 AM | Comments (0)
It's World Cup Time

Do you know where your loved ones are? Because they might be dead:

Over-excitement during World Cup games has been blamed for the deaths of at least three fans in China and one man broke several bones when he fell from a Hong Kong balcony, the Shanghai Daily reported on Wednesday.

I'd make fun of Ron, but on a recent visit to their house I discovered Amber's just as bad.

Posted by scott at 10:29 AM | Comments (2)
Tiny Bubbles

In the "wha??" category, we have news that the Earth is surrounded by a fizz of bubbles. Technically they're "density holes", where the density of gas in the space surrounding the planet drops precipitously. At 18,000,000 degrees, it's also a lot hotter than the surrounding gas, but since the density is so low it doesn't affect things like satellites.

Posted by scott at 09:13 AM | Comments (0)
June 20, 2006
Olivia Would Say, "Daddy Fall Down!"

One of my Alfa parts places is featuring a giggle-worthy Fiat commercial. I've never done anything like that, but I wouldn't put it past some of the folks I've encountered on various trails.

Posted by scott at 03:33 PM | Comments (0)
But Where Were the Red Pegs?

Torpedo: 1, Cruiser: 0. At least I think it got hit by a torpedo. I've seen cruise missle film that did most of the same stuff. Definitely glad it was just a target shot!

Posted by scott at 02:39 PM | Comments (0)
Insert Tolkien Reference Here

New Scientist linked up this nifty article-and-picture of a new look at Saturn's two largest moons, Rhea and Titan. While beautiful, the picture also helps scientists navigate the spacecraft, as it helps refine the orbital models of Saturn and its moons.

Posted by scott at 01:13 PM | Comments (0)
Ramadi Recount

Countercolumn linked up this extremely well written account of what life is like in the real heart of the Iraqi insurgency, Ramadi. Includes a lot of video, which I'll have to go back and see once I get this place nailed down and quiet again.

Don't forget to review Jason's remarks as well.

Posted by scott at 11:48 AM | Comments (0)
CEV Update

Aviation Week and Space Technology is carrying this detailed report on how the Crew Exploration Vehicle's cockpit design is coming along. The article includes a detailed comparison between what NASA wants to happen with the CEV and how similar things work on the Space Shuttle and how they worked on Apollo and earlier programs. The notes on how the pilot interface will be configured in particular really highlight just how old the Shuttle's design really is. 100 pounds of paper manuals!

I've been following AvWeek's coverage of NASA for (good lord) nearly 20 years now, and to me at least NASA looks very serious this time around. This is completely unlike the Delta Clipper and X-33 days of the 80s and 90s, when the relatively optimistic editors of AvWeek could barely muster enthusiasm, and frequently bashed the agency for mis-steps and goof-ups. The subsequent failures of those and other programs to me seemed to reinforce the view that NASA was ossified beyond repair. The brilliant success of SpaceShipOne promised hope, but when it came to going to the moon it was definitely a long-term one.

Now NASA seems to be in flux for the first time in decades. While classic agency bureaucracy seems to have definitely not left the building (witness the description of how the NASA design team has to submit questions to the two competing contractors), compared to earlier initiatives the impression seems to be one of a kicked over anthill.

After dozens of false starts, failed promises, and deep disappointments over the years, I can barely believe it. By God, we may actually be going back to the moon after all!

Posted by scott at 09:36 AM | Comments (2)
Buried Treasure

Mark gets a no-prize with a big ol' gun attached for bringing us this collection of photos detailing the discovery of a "WWII German Stürmgeschutz III". No, I'm not sure what that is either, but it looks very tank-like and, considering that it seems to have been buried in the Czech countryside for the past sixty years, it's in pretty good shape. Site is in Czech, but the pictures do a decent job at conveying what happened.

Finally, something Ellen can tell me I can't have.

Posted by scott at 08:24 AM | Comments (1)
June 19, 2006
Zig a Zig AH!!!


Posted by Ellen at 08:09 PM | Comments (0)

It's the asian version of Amber!

Posted by Ellen at 08:02 PM | Comments (0)
Where Women Blow and Men Chunder...

Ok this is boring yet funny all at the same time.

Watch the captions!! You will get the title if you do!

Posted by Ellen at 03:02 PM | Comments (0)
~ Keep Spendin' Most Our Lives Livin' in the Worker's Paradise ~

This extensive collection of tourist photos recently taken in North Korea should be of interest to those who want to know what a country run by real liberals looks like. No wimpy t-shirt wearing loons twirling in their belltowers there, no sir! We're talking old-school iron-fisted "cherish-the-ideology-or-eat-a-bullet" socioeconomic liberalism, the kind that would make Marx and Mao proud.

Posted by scott at 12:31 PM | Comments (0)
Insert "the Other White Meat" Joke Here

Somehow I don't think they'll taste like chicken:

Banner-wielding animal rights protesters swarmed into a restaurant on Lianhua Road in Buji Subdistrict serving cat meat and forced it to shut down, Xinhua reported yesterday.

The 100 or so demonstrators, including women and children, held up banners reading "cats and dogs are friends of human beings" as they entered the Fangji Cat Meatball restaurant and demanded the owner free any live cats on the premises, Xinhua said.

Now that's-a spicey... oh nevermind.

Posted by scott at 11:50 AM | Comments (0)
Stradale Nuevo

First GMC, then Cadillac, now Alfa Romeo:

The Alfa Romeo Stradale bicycle was designed in collaboration with Milan-based Compagnia Ducale srl, represented by Veber Ferrari. Veber Ferrari created the design with Wolfgang Egger, chief designer at Centro Stile Alfa Romeo. The shape of the Stradale’s frame has been inspired by the dynamic arrow-shaped Alfa Romeo grille, a feature which has always been a prominent and important feature on Alfa Romeo models ever since the 1946 6C 2500 Freccia d’Oro.

From the pictures it appears to be a "hybrid" bike. These bikes tend to have dirt bike geometry, handle bars, brakes, and shifters while the rest is straight road. Tends to give a more comfortable ride while still providing many of the benefits of a road bike.

This one has pretty odd geometry... that's a really weird head tube angle there (the bit that holds the handle bars to the frame). At 1690 euros (2100 US) it's pretty damned pricey; that kind of money will buy you a very nice full-carbon road bike over here. Of course, with this thing you're not really buying a bike, but exclusivity. Some people will pay more.

The race bike referred to in the article sounds more my speed, but at ~ $5,000 US it's well out of my reach. Ah well. If nothing else, these should be a lot easier to get past customs than the four-wheeled variety.

Posted by scott at 10:07 AM | Comments (0)
Keeping Cool

oandmommy Medium Web view.jpg

Olivia ate a total of 4 ice cream cup and 2 snocones on Saturday just to keep cool. Not to mention each of us (5 total) must have bought 2-3 bottles of water each just to dump on her to keep her cool.

Posted by Ellen at 07:06 AM | Comments (0)
June 18, 2006
Happy Birthday!

Happy Birthday Ron!

Posted by Ellen at 03:40 PM | Comments (0)
Happy Father's Day!

Happy Father's Day!

Posted by Ellen at 08:56 AM | Comments (0)
June 17, 2006
Amber and O

Posted by Ellen at 09:31 PM | Comments (0)

Posted by Ellen at 09:23 PM | Comments (0)
Grass Wig


Apparently the Celtic liked to wear grass hair. I found it a bit hot and the green was just not my color.:)

Posted by Ellen at 09:11 PM | Comments (0)
The Naked Piper

Posted by Ellen at 09:03 PM | Comments (0)
Guess Who Didn't Make the Clogging Team


Mark and Amber attempting to clog dance.

Posted by Ellen at 08:56 PM | Comments (0)
The Look

Posted by Ellen at 08:51 PM | Comments (1)
Wet Smile


We headed to the Celtic Festival in the area today. It was well into the high 90's in the shade. We had a cranky girl on our hands until we strip her down to her pull-ups and Ron dumps water on her head.

Posted by Ellen at 08:48 PM | Comments (2)
My Kind of Diva

Even if they produced it, I wouldn't be able to afford it, but it shore is purty:

Just under two months ago, the Alfa Romeo Diva made it’s debut at the Geneva Motor Show as a combined effort between Fiat Auto’s engineering arm Elasis, Centro Stile Alfa Romeo and the Espera design school run by Franco Sbarro. Directly after the Geneva Motor Show, the concept car was rebuilt by Carrozzeria Granturismo in Arese, Milan to a higher quality standard. The rebuilt prototype made its first appearance last weekend at the Villa d’Este Concorso d’Eleganza.

I can definitely see some Enzo in it, especially in the nose, but I think it also recalls Alfa's own 33 Stradale. Nice to see them starting to really knock around concept cars again.

A movie featuring the car can be seen here.

Posted by scott at 09:32 AM | Comments (0)
June 16, 2006

I don't know what to say about this.

Posted by Ellen at 01:37 PM | Comments (2)

Watch closely! She forgot to put a vital piece of clothing on.

Posted by Ellen at 01:34 PM | Comments (2)
Rasta Olivia

Posted by Ellen at 07:52 AM | Comments (2)
Early Presents


O got a package in the mail from her Aunt Nina for her birthday next week. It was a hit. Little girls with unicorns and a cat on a pillow(to Olivia it is a cat on a magic carpet) go together like a PBJ sammich.

Posted by Ellen at 07:43 AM | Comments (0)
June 15, 2006

DSC_0012 Medium Web view.jpg
Posted by Ellen at 05:04 PM | Comments (0)

Posted by Ellen at 03:55 PM | Comments (0)
Here Goblin, You Taste...


Olivia learns that licking the bowl and spoon to cake batter is the best!

Posted by Ellen at 03:49 PM | Comments (0)
Old and New

Posted by Ellen at 10:08 AM | Comments (0)
I Wanna Be A Cowgirl


Posted by Ellen at 10:06 AM | Comments (3)
As Long as They Don't End Up in My House

Pat gets a meowing no-prize for bringing us news of the latest in reality shows:

Ten cats in search of owners will spend the next 10 days in a New York store window, their every move caught on camera for a reality TV show on which they will compete for best sleeper and mouse-catcher.

No "best widdler"? There goes our bunch's chances.

Posted by scott at 08:20 AM | Comments (1)
June 14, 2006
Big Buzz

Hornet as big as your palm, anyone? Site includes a risque but relatively SFW advert.

Probably some Amazonian monster. *shudder*

Posted by scott at 04:11 PM | Comments (0)
Sur-prise Sur-prise Sur-prise

Hey Ellen, remember when we stacked stuffed animals on you that one time you passed out? Just be glad we don't live in Japan.

I'm not sure I could buy the amount of trouble I'd be in if I was somehow part of something like that. Then again, some of the setups are so absurd I have a hard time believing the "victim" isn't in on the plot. Doesn't matter, Japanese TV is still amazingly weird either way.

Posted by scott at 04:05 PM | Comments (1)
I Bet the Pull Out was Interesting

Fark linked up proof you really can water ski behind certain cruise liners. Just about all our aircraft carriers are apparently capable of the same thing. Whether anyone was crazy enough to do it, well, that's a different story.

Posted by scott at 03:53 PM | Comments (0)
~ And No-one Can Talk to a Horse of Course ~

Ron gets a no-prize that'll whinny at him and beg for apples for bringing us news of a rather novel attempt at translation software:

The Equine Vocalization Project is compiling a database of horse talk and behavior in an attempt to correlate nuances in their whinnies with differences in their stress levels.

The information could help shed light on the communication styles of other equines, such as donkeys and zebras, and even improve how veterinarians, behaviorists, breeders or other animal handlers relate to horses.

According to The Economist, the whole field of translation software is very hot right now. Scientists seem very optimistic that within a decade devices that won't even need to be programmed will be able to accurately translate human languages just by listening to them. Pointing it at animals is merely the next step.

Posted by scott at 09:26 AM | Comments (0)
June 13, 2006
Paging Sarah Conner, White Courtesy Phone Please

New Scientist is carrying this article detailing the creation of a new sort of "robot hunter":

A team of autonomous flying and ground-based robots have successfully cooperated to search for and locate targets in the streets of an urban warfare training ground in the US. The system could help in search and rescue efforts and military operations – and even has the potential to include humans in the team.

Well, that should make it easier to find Hajji. Now if they'd just invent something to help me find my keys!

Posted by scott at 03:06 PM | Comments (0)
But Did He Walk Out in a Silly Way?

It would appear John Cleese is giving up both writing and performing comedy. At least that's what he's saying at any rate. Something tells me this'll be one of those "no, really, this is our very last tour" sort of things, a-la The Eagles and Cher.

Posted by scott at 12:50 PM | Comments (0)
Tending Trails

Outdoorsy-types in the audience may find trails.com of interest. It includes a nifty campground ranking system based on various print reviews of the different areas.

Ellen and I think roughing it is not having a Tivo, so "for real" camping isn't high on our list. However, I have a feeling at least some of these campgrounds will be very nice indeed, so maybe an RV rental will be somewhere in our future.

I hear some of them even have Tivo.

Posted by scott at 11:41 AM | Comments (0)
Alzheimer News

Slashdot linked up this Forbes.com article detailing new developments in the effort to create a vaccine for Alzheimer's. By using techniques similar to those being used for Huntington's disease (discussed here), scientists in Japan have developed a vaccine which has proven very effective in mice. Clinical trials in primates are under way, and if things go well there and in subsequent human trials a drug could be brought to market in perhaps 7 years or so.

However, it's a big jump from mice to men, so scientists are still extremely cautious. The article also notes there are many other efforts underway to treat/cure/prevent the disease using a variety of different techniques.

Posted by scott at 09:18 AM | Comments (0)
Shades of Agent Smart

The intro of this article on some of the goofier things the Pentagon has considered as weapons starts out "The US military investigated building a "gay bomb", which would make enemy soldiers "sexually irresistible" to each other, government papers say." But I think it should be pointed out that the US military has always tried lots of weird things. It's how our military works.

I mean, really... spending trillions of dollars on a bomb so powerful it could wreck an entire city? Please. A computer network capable of automatically routing around damaged nodes, knitting together all digital devices? Ridiculous. A bomb that uses satellites whirling in space to find a specific window in a building? Laughable.

All an idea needs is someone to think it up and someone else to fund it, and you can't always tell the good ones from the bad ones just by looking. So what if 90% are loopy one-offs? 7% work and 3% end up changing the world. As long as someone is watching the till, it's OK with me.

Of course, the only one watching the till right now is Congress, which is simply a different way of saying "nobody is watching the till." Hence the first amendment and the related Freedom of Information Act. If nobody else will, we will. It's our country, after all. Mighty clever, those founding fathers.

Posted by scott at 08:13 AM | Comments (0)
June 12, 2006
But Does it Burninate the Peasants?

Slashdot linked up this review of Homestar, a small home planetarium. At ~$240 US it's not what I'd personally call affordable, but it's definitely not outrageous either. Right now Olivia would certainly get a kick out of it, but then she'd probably try to kick it and that would be that. Maybe by the time she's six they'll be selling it here in the US, and I can (try to) make the little monster save up her allowance for it.

That "yeah, right, daddy = ATM with legs" sign you're holding up isn't very funny, by the way.

Posted by scott at 02:56 PM | Comments (0)
A Real Close Shave

Ron gets a somewhat crazy no-prize for bringing us this nifty picture of a stunt plane doing the limbo. Nope, that's not a typo. Yep, that's what I meant.

Posted by scott at 01:53 PM | Comments (0)
And Lo, the Fourth Seal was Broken

What is wrong with kids today:

Move over Budweiser. College life isn't just about drinking beer.

In a rare instance, Apple Computer Inc.'s iconic iPod music player surpassed beer drinking as the most "in" thing among undergraduate college students, according to the latest biannual market research study by Ridgewood, N.J.-based Student Monitor.

Ron complaining about how beer tastes bad* in 3... 2... 1...

* Thinks beer tastes bad, soccer is a real game, carries his pets up and down stairs, married Amber... it's not that I question his taste, more like his sanity**.

** It's a joke Amber. You know, ha-ha? No, wait... put the skillet down! Ididn'tmeantoimplyany--*CLONG*



Posted by scott at 12:45 PM | Comments (1)
A Breed Apart

BBCnews is carrying this article summarizing the latest attempt at retrieving DNA information from human fossils. Scientists were able to retrieve DNA from a 100,000 year-old Neandertal fossil, the oldest human DNA recovered to-date. The findings reveal Neandertals were more diverse earlier in their history, suggesting fluctuations in the population perhaps caused by disease or environmental change.

In other words, if I'm reading this right, one interpretation is that Neandertals suffered from some sort of disease or environmental change which caused a significant decrease in their numbers. They may have already been on their way out when we showed up.

Posted by scott at 10:29 AM | Comments (0)
Meow, Damn You! Meow!

Also from fark, a picture of the wussy bear and the loony cat. I'm sure this looks like one or more of the cats Ellen and/or Amber work with/own/are possesed by, I just can't think of any names right now.

Posted by scott at 09:38 AM | Comments (2)

Fark linked up this morphing video montage of Michael Jackson's face through time. Hey, he said himself he's only had a little bit of nose work. I saw it, he said it with a straight face and everything, so it must be true!

Posted by scott at 08:23 AM | Comments (0)
June 10, 2006
Get Off My Lawn! Meow!

Pat gets a hissing, spitting no-prize for bringing us further proof that cats can be dumb and crazy:

A black bear picked the wrong yard for a jaunt, running into a territorial tabby who ran the furry beast up a tree -- twice.

Mine would just show him the best places to widdle on the carpet.

Posted by scott at 07:56 AM | Comments (2)
June 09, 2006
Would You Ever Buy...


a costume from someone that looked liked this!?!

Posted by Ellen at 08:17 PM | Comments (7)
Ethanol Numbers

Conventional wisdom has lately been that ethanol is not all it's cracked up to be, taking more energy to produce than it creates when it's used. The most common opinion I've read/heard is that the current situation is mostly a new subsidy for the corn states of the midwest. It would appear, however, that like most conventional wisdom, there's a lot more to it than that:

Two prominent researchers are chiefly responsible for the energy-efficiency claim: Cornell University's David Pimentel and Tad Patzek of the University of California, Berkeley. In a co-written paper published last year in Natural Resources Research, Profs. Pimentel and Patzek wrote, "Ethanol production using corn grain required 29% more fossil energy than the ethanol fuel produced." By comparison, production of gasoline or diesel uses about 20% more fossil energy than the fuels produce. (For automobiles, ethanol is generally blended with gasoline in either 90-10 or 85-15 proportions, but the studies focused on the energy content of the ethanol itself.)

But the analysis stacks the deck against ethanol in a number of ways. Perhaps most important: The researchers attributed a wide array of energy costs to ethanol production, including the energy required to produce tractors used in cornfields and even all forms of energy consumed by workers for things such as food, transportation and police protection. Equivalent factors generally aren't included in comparable analyses of rival fuels like gasoline. Also, researchers didn't take into consideration the value of ethanol by-products, which can be used in cattle feed.

This guy, and the researchers he quotes, doesn't seem to be in the pocket of the corn lobby, but who knows. Regardless, it's the first cogent counterpoint I've seen to-date.

Via Instapundit.

Posted by scott at 03:28 PM | Comments (2)
Rat Fink, or Crazy Fox?

While this NRO op-ed tries to paint a NY Times story as a "blabbermouths getting intel sources killed", I have to wonder. It's not that specific. In my opinion (superior expert on Iraqi terrorist cells that I am), this could also be an attempt to sow paranoia in the organization. It had to be someone around here who dropped the dime on him... but who? Him? The other guy? You? Who do I trust? Who trusts me?

That sort of thing. Couldn't happen to a nicer bunch of people either.

Hell for all we know he went out back to pee and happened to look up into the eyes of a Predator drone. Wouldn't that be a kick in the teeth (or a bomb on the house, as it were)?

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

I saw an announcement about the discovery of "miniature" dinosaurs in the Post on Wednesday, but didn't really understand the significance until I read this article about the same topic:

When unusually small dinosaur fossils were found in a quarry on the northern edge of the Harz Mountains in 1998, it was initially assumed that these were the remains of a group of young dinosaurs. This was a fallacy, as the Bonn palaeontologist, Dr. Martin Sander, recently discovered.

"Unusually small" in this case still means something as big as most cars, but when you're talking dinosaurs, that's definitely on the tiny side.

Interesting fact: According to Predatory Dinosaurs of the World, there are no dinosaurs (at least that we've found) smaller than a chicken. It seems mammals took over all the small land-based niches, and dinos took everything else.

Posted by scott at 01:00 PM | Comments (1)
From Such Humble Beginnings...

Ron gets a no-prize shaped like a dirt pile for bringing us news of the discovery of the oldest fossils yet found. They're only impressive when you realize how old they are:

Odd-shaped mounds of dirt in Australia turn out to be fossils of the oldest life on Earth, created by billions of microbes more than three billion years ago, scientists say in a new report.

The discovery not only helps scientists who study ancient life on Earth, but also those who are looking for signs of life on Mars.

Posted by scott at 08:34 AM | Comments (0)
June 08, 2006
~ Your Own / Personal / JesusToast ~

It doesn't work in a regular toaster, which tells me there's going to be a line forming in front of our toaster oven very soon. Olivia's quite fond of toast, so friends who want to try this (*cough* Joshua *cough* Ron *cough*) should be prepared to do battle with Overwhelming Cuteness if they want their artistry to survive.

And you can puff your chest out and make "no 3 year old will stop me" noises all you want. Thou hast not yet faced the full power of yon child's cuteness.

What was I talking about again?

Via Reflections in D Minor.

Posted by scott at 03:01 PM | Comments (1)
Pumping Iron for God

Pat Robertson: religious nutball, presidential also-ran, carnival side-show freak:

Religious broadcaster Pat Robertson says it is the God's honest truth — he did, indeed, once leg-press a ton when he was almost 73 and had prostate cancer, and he still regularly lifts up to 1,200 pounds with his legs.

Got a picture and everything, but details in the article reveal it isn't quite the he-man stunt the headline makes it out to be.

Posted by scott at 01:39 PM | Comments (0)
A Top Ten List, for the Rest of Us

Not that it'll make much difference to some, but this "Top 10 List of Evolution Myths provides a nice quick-refernce card when you need to argue down your neighborhood fundie.

I've found debating with folks who are completely convinced Evolution is wrong is rather like trying to teach an anvil about quantum physics, and gave up long ago. But it's fun to think about!

Posted by scott at 12:47 PM | Comments (0)
A Highway Even DC Traffic Can't Back Up

Spaceflightnow is carrying this story about the discovery of several "stellar highways" circling our Milky Way galaxy. By studying data from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey, scientists have determined there are several narrow "rings" consisting of thousands of stars traveling at several hundred miles per second traveling around the galaxy. It's thought they are the remnants of galactic clusters which were very slowly torn apart by the Milky Way's gravity over billions of years. The streams are being used to explore the properties of dark matter, which appears to affect them different ways in different places.

Posted by scott at 11:35 AM | Comments (0)
Paging Jerry Lee Lewis, White Courtesy Phone Please

Slashdot linked up news that scientists have successfully created ball lightning in the laboratory. This time apparently much larger balls for much longer periods of time than other previous attempts.

Posted by scott at 09:55 AM | Comments (0)
Score, a Direct Hit

Like I said, if you keep getting close, eventually you'll get what you want:

Al Qaeda in Iraq leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the coalition's most wanted man in Iraq, was killed in an airstrike near Baquba, jubilant U.S. and Iraqi authorities announced Thursday.

Hopefully he'll be staying dead, and maybe next time around he'll be given the chance to learn chopping people up is not the road to heaven. And no, I'm not thinking this will suddenly turn Iraq into the Land of Air Conditioners and Cellphones... there's plenty more where this guy came from. But by all accounts he was a very effective leader, and those don't just grow on trees.

Now if we can just put bin Laden in a sack and toss him down a dark hole, we'd have the trifecta. Then again, considering what the Pakistan/Afghan border is supposed to be like, he may already be there.

Posted by scott at 09:14 AM | Comments (0)
June 07, 2006
Shades of Bugs Bunny

Flash animation vs. Flash animator. Damned clever, I say.

Posted by scott at 03:17 PM | Comments (0)
Plane Crazy

I've heard of aerobatic performances being restricted to a "stunt box", but this is ridiculous. It's probably for the best that real airplanes can't get away with this stuff, although I've seen a few try.

Posted by scott at 02:20 PM | Comments (2)
Huntington's Help

New Scientist is carrying this article on what could be a new treatment for at least some forms of Huntington's disease. However, I thought "meets its match" was a bit of a sensational headline when I read this, buried deep in the article:

So far the experiments have only been carried out in cultured cells, and Davidson, who is collaborating with Sirna Therapeutics, a firm based in San Francisco, US, warns that it may be several years before the therapy is ready for testing in people. “We need to be careful and do good science, but we’re very optimistic,” she says.

The RNAi process apparently is also showing signs of being useful in the fight against Alzheimer's.

Posted by scott at 01:17 PM | Comments (0)
Storm Front

Slashdot linked up this NASA announcement of an upcoming collision of storms on Jupiter. Which doesn't sound like much, until you consider one is the same size as the Earth and the other is twice as big. With picture!

Posted by scott at 12:17 PM | Comments (2)
No Ellen, You Can't Have One

Thing is, she actually does want some:

Few people like to get on the scale -- but their reluctance is nothing, compared to a handful of tortoises at the Phoenix Zoo.
One of those reptiles was so heavy, nine adults struggled to carry it to and from the scale. It weighed in at 649 pounds.

Galapagos and Aldabra tortoises, to be exact. Galapagos have a reputation for being quite affectionate and fun (well, for a turtle anyway), but having a quarter-ton pet to take care of really pushes things.

So I'm afraid Ellen will just have to settle for Om, who by all accounts will end up being about the size of a beach ball and the weight of a spare tire. Beats the hell out of a dog, far as I'm concerned.

Posted by scott at 08:39 AM | Comments (13)
June 06, 2006
Paging Janet Jackson, White Courtesy Phone Please

Now that Olivia is becoming much more communicative and (being our child) assertive, learning to set effective boundaries is becoming a bit of a challenge. It's not that she's running around setting stuff on fire or anything, but having her growl out "Daddy I kicka you butt" is a little disconcerting when you're cruising the grocery store. Doesn't help much that you just want to fall down laughing when she does it. At any rate, I thought this "controlling your emotions" article was downright timely.

Via I Speak of Dreams.

Posted by scott at 03:09 PM | Comments (2)
But will She Wear Comfortable Shoes?

That's Miss "not that there's anything wrong with that" to you, bub:

Years after she first emerged from the Batcave, Batwoman is coming out of the closet. DC Comics is resurrecting the classic comic book character as a lesbian, unveiling the new Batwoman in July as part of an ongoing weekly series that began this year.

Via Silflay

Posted by scott at 02:01 PM | Comments (4)
Funeral Parade

New Orleans, 9 months later, in pictures.

Via Instapundit.

Posted by scott at 01:04 PM | Comments (0)
Now I'm Glad Ellen Doesn't Fly Airplanes

Because if she did, we'd have yet another addition to the menagerie:

3,000 feet in the air on Saturday, Monty Coles discovered a four-and-a-half-foot black snake peering out at him from the instrument panel of his Piper Cherokee.

The control tower guys would all be tearing their headphones off trying to get away from the cry, "it's so cuuuuuuuutte!!!!"

Posted by scott at 12:06 PM | Comments (1)
What the Web was Meant for

If you have ~ 1 hour to kill and don't have access to cable or DVD, it would appear a full version of the movie Freaks is now available on-line. At least until whoever owns the thing catches up with it and drops some DMCA goodness on them. Web piracy... it's a good thing.

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

Slashdot linked up this "take-it-apart-and-review-it" review of iRobot's new Scooba, the robotic kitchen floor cleaner. At $400 it's definitely too rich for our blood, but if you have a lot of tile or wood floors and like cool gadgets, this may be for you.

It's probably just as well a French maid's outfit is not an option.

Posted by scott at 09:34 AM | Comments (0)
Belly Full o' Bugs

The Washington Post yesterday carried this report on recent discoveries about what really makes our bodies tick:

In fact, it's time to stop thinking of yourself as a single living thing at all, say the scientists behind the new work. Better to see yourself as a "super-organism," they say: a hybrid creature consisting of about 10 percent human cells and 90 percent bacterial cells.

Sure, sure. Nature comes up with hundreds of different kinds of bacteria to do "noble" things like help you digest food and manufacture vitamins, but not a single one to do something useful like trickle ethanol into the bloodstream on demand. Priorties people! Ya gotta work on those priorities!

Posted by scott at 08:33 AM | Comments (1)
June 05, 2006
Just Don't Call Them Biased

Cynical, self-serving, elitist dirtbags with the morals of a meth-addled squirrel and the perspective of a goldfish is much better.

Actually, that's something of a slight on junkie squirrels and the goldfish nation.

Via Instapundit.

Posted by scott at 04:38 PM | Comments (0)
Lucifer's Hammer

Robert H. gets a no-prize that'll fall from the sky for bringing us this meteor impact animation. The narraration is in Japanese, but from what I could gather from the visuals it looks to simulate what would happen if the impact that formed the moon happened today.

The results are pretty much what you'd expect from something the size of Mars hitting the Earth, but it's pretty wild to actually see it.

Posted by scott at 02:22 PM | Comments (0)
Toy Time Machine

Fark linked up this collection of 70s-era toy commercials. Looks like they were all taken from 1972 exclusively. Now I can finally show Ellen what an "SSP racer" looked like. We had tons of those things, and later versions threw sparks all over the place. I'm still surprised we didn't set anything on fire.

Don't they still make "slip n' slide"?

Posted by scott at 08:33 AM | Comments (0)
June 03, 2006
In The Blue

Posted by Ellen at 11:40 PM | Comments (0)
In Yellow

Posted by Ellen at 11:39 PM | Comments (1)
Posted by Ellen at 12:29 PM | Comments (4)
June 02, 2006
Playing with Matches

What do you get when you combine oodles of free time, more than a million matches, and a dream? Well, this:

A matchstick modeller is a fifth of the way to creating a five million-match replica of the ill-fated liner Titanic.

Mark Colling is aiming for a world record with a 19ft-long ship, complete with an 8ft match model of the iceberg which sunk the Titanic in 1912.

And people think my hobbies are strange.

Includes pictures!

Posted by scott at 04:07 PM | Comments (0)
I Think I'll Call it, "Gramma Beer"

Fark linked up news of the invention of a peculiar kind of beer:

Czech scientists say they have created a new non-alcoholic beer that contains 10 times the normal amount of phytoestrogen, intended to help women suffering from the menopause.

The beer, developed by the Czech Republic’s Research Institute for Brewing and Malting, is intended to relieve menopausal symptoms and maintain bone density by tackling a lack of the oestrogen hormone in many Czech women.

Which just goes to prove there really isn't anything beer can't do.

Posted by scott at 12:37 PM | Comments (2)
Big Rock, Fall from Sky

Pat gets a no-prize in the shape of an angry god's fist for bringing us news of the latest candidate for the cause of the Permian extinction:

An apparent crater as big as Ohio has been found in Antarctica. Scientists think it was carved by a space rock that caused the greatest mass extinction on Earth, 250 million years ago.

The crater, buried beneath a half-mile of ice and discovered by some serious airborne and satellite sleuthing, is more than twice as big as the one involved in the demise of the dinosaurs.

Even the scientists who discovered it think more evidence needs to be gathered, but so far this seems to be a much stronger candidate than any previous discovery.

Posted by scott at 09:48 AM | Comments (0)
~ The Engine on the Plane Falls Down Down Down ~

Slashdot linked up this article on the top 10 stupid engineering mistakes. It's all there, from the DC-10 to the Great Molasses Massacre.

Why the Chevy Vega missed the list I'll never know.

Posted by scott at 08:24 AM | Comments (0)
June 01, 2006
If Only There was a Time Machine

Because if this was 1971, he'd probably get his wish. As it is now, not so much:

A man serving a life sentence for the murder of his wife is asking a federal judge to order the state to pay for a sex change operation for him, saying that denying him the surgery amounts to cruel and unusual punishment.

Yeah, no... think we'll hafta pass on this one. Nice knowing ya. Well, ok, probably not.

Posted by scott at 02:43 PM | Comments (0)
Yup, that About Covers it

The saddest thing is I remember all of these "unintentionally gay moments in music video history". It's hard sometimes to remember how naive we all seemed back in the 80s. Like George Michael, we really didn't know they were gay until someone else told us.

Well, told me anyway. Never have been a particularly observant person.

The "no shit sherlock" sign you're holding up is not very funny, by the way.

Posted by scott at 12:57 PM | Comments (2)
Oh Dear God No

"Paris Hilton Plans Reggae, Hip-Hop Album"

I'd like to think it couldn't be any worse than, say, Bill Shatner's efforts, but that might tempt fate to prove me wrong. Another problem: our satellite radio subscription may make us more likely to accidentally hear some of it.

The horror!

Posted by scott at 11:57 AM | Comments (1)
A Re-enactment Society, for the Rest of Us

Best, historical, re-enactment, EVAR!

I imagine there are a lot of inside jokes even I don't get. Members of re-enactment societies (you know who you are) should chime in if they spot them.

Via Siflay

Posted by scott at 10:49 AM | Comments (0)
Zeroing it Out

Ron gets a self-sufficient no-prize for bringing us news of an affordable "zero-energy" home. While earlier attempts to create a house that cost nothing to operate resulted in million-dollar (albeit green) McMansions, Norman, Oklahoma-based Ideal Homes used computer simulations to alter construction techniques to help reduce the cost of constructing such a home. This, combined with a few high-tech appliances, has resulted in a 1600 square-foot house with a claimed cost of less than $200,000 (in Norman, OK, one would presume) which has an average utility cost of zero.

We do what we can (tinted windows, compact flourescent lights, automated thermostat, etc.), but I must admit the "geek factor" of all those nifty gadgets sounds mighty appealing. Problem is in the overheated housing market of this area the dratted thing would probably cost $450k+.

Posted by scott at 09:49 AM | Comments (0)
Hobbit Update

The Washington Post today carried this article summarizing new discoveries about the Flores "hobbit people". This time, scientists claim to have discovered much older tools which closely resemble those found with the skeletal remains discovered last year. This is supposed to strengthen the claim that a) the hobbits made the tools and b) they've been on the island a long time.

Predictably, the usual suspects are completely unconvinced. They note the artifact's provenance (where it was found and what that means) is confused if not ruined outright, and so the tool find proves nothing.

More as it develops...

Posted by scott at 08:20 AM | Comments (2)