August 31, 2006
Alfa Update

Car and Driver is carrying this update on Alfa's scheduled return to the US. Most has been reported here before, but the article does include mention of Alfa's planned "Mini-killer", a small 3-door hatchback with a big motor and a revived "Junior" moniker.

Posted by scott at 03:55 PM | Comments (1)
Being Human

New Scientist is featuring this nifty "instant expert" special report on human evolution. It contains a nice, concise explanation of how human evolution is viewed today. It also includes hyperlinks to a whole bunch of relevant articles that NS has run over the years about specific topics in each section. All in all, a very good summary.

Don't just sit there, learn something!

Posted by scott at 02:16 PM | Comments (0)
Devil Kitty

I wonder if this is what Ellen means when she says a cat is "cage aggressive"? I'm not sure which would be scarier, that this is an example, or that it's not.

Posted by scott at 01:15 PM | Comments (3)

Anyone with a telescope, and perhaps even a pair of binoculars or a large camera lens, may want to be looking at the moon Saturday night:

Amateur astronomers, grab your telescopes. A spaceship is about to crash into the Moon, and you may be able to see the impact.

The spacecraft: SMART-1, a lunar orbiter belonging to the European Space Agency (ESA).

The impact site: Lacus Excellentiae (The Lake of Excellence), an ancient, 100-mile wide crater in the Moon's southern hemisphere.

The time to watch: Saturday, September 2nd at 10:41 p.m. PDT (Sept. 3rd, 0541 UT).

That is, as long as it's all clear anyway. Nobody knows if it will be bright enough to see from here, but it's worth a shot.

Posted by scott at 12:00 PM | Comments (1)
First Cars... crushes. Is there anything Koreans can't export:

The lovelorn [Kazumi] Yoshimura signed up last year with Rakuen Korea, a Japanese-Korean matchmaking service, to find her own Korean bachelor. And she is hardly alone. More than 6,400 female clients have signed up with the company, which says its popularity has skyrocketed since 2004, when "Winter Sonata" became the first of many hot Korean television dramas to hit Japan. Even in Shinjuku ni-chome, Tokyo's biggest gay district, niche bars with names such as Seoul Man have sprouted like sprigs of ginseng in a Pusan autumn.

The author gets a golf-course-clap for the use of the word, "Seoulmate".

Just when you thought cross-cultural fads couldn't get any weirder...

Posted by scott at 10:01 AM | Comments (0)
When Miracles Attack

Oh, those wacky Christians:

A priest has died after trying to demonstrate how Jesus walked on water.
"He walked into the water, which soon passed over his head and he never came back."

Hey, at least he didn't take his whole congregation with him!

Posted by scott at 08:10 AM | Comments (2)
August 30, 2006
Paging Little Red Riding Hood, White Courtesy Phone Please

After an absence of more than 100 years, wolves are beginning to return to Germany. It's always a little jarring to me when I hear about rural areas of Europe. The impression I get from news reports and films is a country filled with cities and people, with quaint suburbs on the ends. Big surprise that such an impression is wrong. Funny how everyone else seems to think our media representations are always right, no?

Posted by scott at 03:16 PM | Comments (1)
Raising an Eagle

WWII ship buffs (you know who you are) may find this story about the fate of the Graff Spee's Nazi insignia. At first the various authorities who think they have jurisdiction over the item seemed content to let the salvage company do whatever they wished with the stuff they dredged up from the wreck. Now, it would seem, at least some folks are becoming more concerned.

Posted by scott at 01:51 PM | Comments (1)
Orbiter Update is carrying this update on the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. The vehicle has completed its aerobraking maneuvers and now will perform a final, and quite long, thruster burn to normalize its final orbit. They expect to start doing science with the probe beginning in November.

Posted by scott at 12:50 PM | Comments (0)
Damned Clever, those Terrorists

Be quiet Ron, if it was a wine bottle we'd have to sit on you to keep you from it. I wonder if getting it out with a stick would work?

Posted by scott at 11:34 AM | Comments (1)
Rock n' Wheeze

Well, at least he doesn't have to worry about Kieth stealing it:

To help him get through his grueling live performances, Mick Jagger has an oxygen tank backstage. At 63, the Rolling Stones lead singer struggles to keep his energy levels up for an entire two-hour performance, so when guitarist Keith Richards plays his two solo songs, Mick goes backstage and straps on an oxygen mask.

Because, as we all know, Keith's been dead for about fifteen years now. He looks like they keep him in a shipping trunk between tour stops.

Posted by scott at 09:48 AM | Comments (0)
Swirling Savings

Slashdot linked up this detailed, if rather rah-rah, account of the best energy-saver you've never used, the compact flourescent (CF) light bulb. According to the article, Wal Mart is getting into these things in a very big way, and where Wal Mart goes most of America tends to follow.

I bought my first CF in, as I recall, 1992, and paid about $20. Unfortunately it didn't survive my next move, but if it had I think I'd probably still be using it. I was quite shocked the first time I saw a 6-pack at Sams for $12 a few years ago, and they've only gotten cheaper. We've now put them everywhere we can reach where they'll fit and work*, and it's not the savings we noticed. It's the fact that we haven't changed one of them in more than three years that's sold us.

* Two or three of our fixtures use a bulb size which is, as far as I know, unavailable in CF. Those most likely will be replaced soon. Outdoor lights with fancy photosensors won't work with them... something about the voltage I think, not enough to kick-start the bulb. Finally, we have a HUGE fixture in our dining room that holds 7 bulbs. We actually bought 7 CFs for it, but the fixture would only light 3 of them. Again, most likely a voltage thing.

But these are exceptions. If you don't have any of these in your house, I'd highly recommend picking a few up.

Posted by scott at 08:36 AM | Comments (1)
August 29, 2006
So Much for the Honeymoon

Then again, we always knew the press wasn't Terrell Owens's best friend to begin with. Of course, being such an easy going and likeable guy, I just don't understand why everyone picks on him.

Posted by scott at 02:45 PM | Comments (1)
When Numismatology Attacks

Something tells me inveterate coin collector Mark won't be eagerly seeking to add this one to his vault:

It's truly unique, created using two distinct struck pieces. First, the base is struck with gleaming buildings on a frosted background. Then the inset of the Twin Towers is magnificently engraved and fitted into the skyline on the face of the commemorative with jeweler precision, able to rise up into a breathtaking standing sculpture. The effect is dazzling - it is literally transformed into a standing sculpture of the Twin Towers!

Things like this have been bashed out by opportunistic entrepenuers throughout history*, no reason to think it'd stop now. However much we'd like it to.

* Several famous ancient Greek temple statues are known to us only through the small votive representations sold to help support the temple. The originals are long since gone, but people simply tossed the tacky statuette their Auntie Blopherous bought them last year in the trash. Two thousand years later the same trash is used to make an Archeological post-grad's career. Think about that one the next time you pass a kiosk filled with tiny Eiffel Towers or Empire State Buildings!

Posted by scott at 01:43 PM | Comments (3)
~ Still Can't Find Reverse ~

Slashdot linked up news of a CGI-enhanced edition of the original Star Trek TV series. For now looks like it'll just be re-done FX sequences, but you never know what they'll come up with once they open up the vault.

Oh, and don't worry about the Edith Keeler joke. Already seen it in three different places.

Posted by scott at 12:31 PM | Comments (1)
Old Pictures

It's one thing to read "photography dates back to the early 19th century", it's quite another to actually see pictures taken back then.

Kind of interesting to think we're getting ready to start our third century of photographic imagery. Some of these "new fangled" inventions are getting quite old indeed.


Posted by scott at 11:39 AM | Comments (0)
Mummy Find

BBCnews is carrying this report summarizing the discovery of a new Scythian burial. This marks the first discovery of such a thing on the Mongolian side of the Altai mountains, the Scythian's ancient homeland. The burial was undisturbed (until the archeologists found it at any rate), and in very good condition.

Posted by scott at 10:27 AM | Comments (0)
Could Be Worse, He Coulda Picked a Cowboy

Ron gets a no-prize dressed in a fake black-and-gold uniform for bringing us an example of how clever some people can be when they find out how stupid other people can be:

A man charged with impersonating Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger to get dates was accused of stealing $3,200 from a different woman by telling her he was another player on the team, tight end Jerame Tuman.

Brian Jackson was charged with theft by deception for borrowing the money and not repaying it. The woman lent the money to the 32-year-old Jackson because she believed he was Tuman, District Attorney Stephen Zappala Jr. said.

The next step for creeps like this is to start threatening to kill themselves if they don't get what they want. Ellen had a guy try to manipulate her like this a very long time ago. Her reaction was, if you've hung around here all that long, not surprising.

Posted by scott at 09:03 AM | Comments (3)
August 28, 2006
Live Nude Turtles!

Beware this can be XXX.

Well it can if you are into that. No really. They are live...and well, NUDE!

Posted by Ellen at 09:52 PM | Comments (0)
And She Chose the Purple One...

Posted by Ellen at 08:09 PM | Comments (7)
Woodshop Fun

Robert H. gets a somewhat goofy but functional no-prize for bringing us the wooden alternator. No, really!

The rest of the site is just as interesting. I like the hamster-powered alternator myself. Reminds me of the Cruiser's engine.

Posted by scott at 04:13 PM | Comments (0)
All Spiders, Prepare to Attack Galactica

Bigwig over at Siflay took this nifty "spider and flower" picture last week. Fortunately, the critter is only about the size of a dime!

Posted by scott at 02:27 PM | Comments (0)
Definitely My Child

Saturday afternoon, while Ellen was doing the five hour tattoo thing...

Olivia, strangely muffled: "Daddy! Lookitme!"

Me, looking up from a magazine article: "Olivia! Get down from there!"

Olivia, upside down with her legs in the air, facing into the back of a chair to my left: "Daddy! I do headstand! Look! One foot!"

Just as I got up to un-headstand the child, she tumbled out of the chair like the proverbial sack of potatoes, landing with a shambling thud on her butt.

Olivia, after a brief pause, lit up with a big smile and said, "Don't worry daddy! I'm Okay. I'm ok--"

Whereapon she tried to stand up, and promptly clonged her head into the underside of the glass table she'd fallen under. Hit it so hard it rang like a bell.

Olivia: "Ooowwwww!!!"

But, since she's also Ellen's child, I was actually more worried about her head breaking the table.

Posted by scott at 01:04 PM | Comments (3)
Movin' Out

Pat gets a no-prize with wheels on for bringing us this story of how the Egyptian government recently moved a giant statue of Ramses II from a congested square in Cairo to its new home near the pyramids. If Egypt, and Cairo in particular, is anything like I've read, there's a whole family of cab drivers waiting around even now for the statue to make its way back.

Posted by scott at 12:21 PM | Comments (0)
August 27, 2006
The Ted Tat


Quarter sleeve. Nearly 5 hours in the chair. Minimal pain. I LOVE it.

Constant as the Stars Above, Always Know that You are Loved

12.9.99 - 5.21.06
Posted by Ellen at 12:18 PM | Comments (5)
August 26, 2006
Happy Happy II

Happy birthday Amber!

Posted by Ellen at 11:59 AM | Comments (2)
August 25, 2006
The Preliminary Sketch


Tomorrow I get this tattoo done on my arm for Ted, there are small changes to be made, but I cannot wait.

Posted by Ellen at 07:39 PM | Comments (0)
No More Monkeys Jumping On the Bed!


This is what happens when you pretend you are a monkey and jump off the bed. Yes, Olivia has her first broken bones! She broke her wrist in 2 spots. The hard cast gets placed Monday. Otherwise she loves to show off her new boo-boo to everyone.

Posted by Ellen at 07:30 PM | Comments (5)
Well Now isn't This Interesting?

While I'm a huge fan of the new Sci-Fi series Battlestar Galactica, I'll admit that its oft-criticised use of conventional "Earth stuff" like suits and neck ties, Hummers, various weapons, and other things bothered even me a bit. I rationalized it by deciding that, since this was a TV show with a budget, they just didn't have the time or the money to make everything look futuristic and different. In my mind, whenever I saw one of these clashing items, I simply thought to myself, "insert expensive effect here." The show was plenty good enough to watch for other reasons.

Then I read this blog entry by show creator/producer Ron Moore, in response to a viewer complaining about precisely this thing:

The props are all deliberate choices that imply more than just a passing connection between our world and the world of Galactica and there are deeper connections yet to come.

So it would appear to not be a case of budgeting, but of some long-thought-out plot twist yet to be revealed. Now, this is the guy who ended the second season of his highly successful, and already renewed, series by having the humans surrender to the cylons. He's capable of anything.

Which is most of what I enjoy about the series. You never can tell quite where it's going, but (to me at least) it's always fun getting there.

Can't wait for the October premiere!

Posted by scott at 03:46 PM | Comments (0)
Meanwhile, in Prague...

It's official, there's a food fight going down in Prague:

A fierce backlash has begun against the decision by astronomers to strip Pluto of its status as a planet.

On Thursday, experts approved a definition of a planet that demoted Pluto to a lesser category of object.

But the lead scientist on Nasa's robotic mission to Pluto has lambasted the ruling, calling it "embarrassing".

And the chair of the committee set up to oversee agreement on a definition implied that the vote had effectively been "hijacked".

All of this over a big lump of ice that's so far away the Sun is just a particularly bright star in its sky. Ain't politics wonderful?

Posted by scott at 02:31 PM | Comments (0)
Set Your Tivos

Space shuttle Atlantis is scheduled to lift off this Sunday, and Spaceflight now has an extensive review of the upcoming mission. Maybe they will actually complete all the flights before Olivia is old enough to remember any.

Posted by scott at 01:20 PM | Comments (0)
You're Talking to What?

While browsing the comments on Slashdot, I found this amusing bit of Sci-Fi. Well, amusing to me at least, but we already know I need to get out more. Yeah, it's been around awhile, but it gave me a smile.

Posted by scott at 12:12 PM | Comments (0)
Goodbye BMI?

Everyone's favorite "rule-of-thumb" diet measurement may be on its way out. Which is just as well, since even before I read this article I realized it didn't work very well. Me, I judge how I'm doing by how my clothes fit. Too baggy, eat some chips. Too tight, put them away.

But that's just me.

Posted by scott at 10:12 AM | Comments (1)
At Least it Didn't Crash

Pat gets a weirdly cute no-prize for bringing us the icon fight club. And we all know the first rule of the icon fight club, right?

Posted by scott at 08:54 AM | Comments (0)
See Scott! They are Good for Something...

She has appeared on a grilled cheese. Then, a highway underpass.

Now, behold, the Virgin Mary has descended upon the belly of a Burbank pet turtle.

Read article here. Picture of the turtle can be seen right here.

Posted by Ellen at 06:40 AM | Comments (0)
August 24, 2006
Any Landing You Can Walk Away From

Hard to believe anyone got out of this alive, but if the news report is to be believed everyone walked away. Scary stuff when a multi-ton machine looks like a leaf in the wind. Didn't look like a tail rotor failure, but what the hell do I know?

Posted by scott at 03:29 PM | Comments (0)
~ Couldn't Get no Worse ~

For a long time it seemed like (well, ok, some) Americans were very optimistic about Iraq, while Iraqis were quite the opposite. Now, maybe it's flipped:

So in the last few days WaPo ran a story asserting that "the debate is over" and the Iraqi Civil War is officially raging, and the NYT ran a story claiming that "by almost all measures," Iraq's insurgency is getting worse. So how is it that people in Baghdad are telling ABC News that they feel safer than they've felt in a long time?

I've never been particularly sure of who to believe.

Posted by scott at 02:36 PM | Comments (0)

Joshua gets a no-prize in extreme slo-mo for bringing us this collection of high-speed "bullets shooting through things" films. I don't know if they do it anymore, but as I recall the original high-speed film cameras used a prism to flash the image onto film. The conventional shutter just wasn't fast enough.

Posted by scott at 01:37 PM | Comments (0)
The Foil Hat Goes, "Rattle Rattle Rattle"

Fark linked up yet another example of what wobbling off meds really looks like:

Plaintiff Teri Smith Tyler, appearing pro se, filed a complaint in December 1992 alleging a bizarre conspiracy involving the defendants to enslave and oppress certain segments of our society. Plaintiff contends she is a cyborg, and that she received most of the information which forms the basis for her complaint, through ``proteus,'' which I read to be come silent, telepathic form of communication.

With the right meds this person has the potential to lead a relatively normal life. It's finding the right meds that's the real trick. This is significantly complicated by the fact that, unlike somone with diabetes or high blood pressure, people with chronic mental illnesses are generally a complete pain in the ass until the treatments start to work. What makes it worse is you know it's not really their fault, but it can still be a struggle between deciding to help them or drown them.

Posted by scott at 11:52 AM | Comments (3)
Pluto Punt

Nina gets a cold and lonely no-prize for bringing us news that Pluto's on-again, off-again planetary status is now off. Again.

Ok, that's it, no more conferences in Prague for Astronomers. No good comes of them, I tell you!

Posted by scott at 10:43 AM | Comments (0)
Making it Work

Pat gets a well-repaired no-prize for bringing us this inspirational story about a couple of people who decided they didn't need to sit around and wait for the government to bail them out. And when you're talking about people recovering from hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, "bailing out" takes on a whole new meaning.

Posted by scott at 09:34 AM | Comments (0)
~ 'Cause They're a Family / Oh Yes a Family ~

New Scientist is carrying this story detailing the discovery of a very rare society-focused spider species:

The spiders live in nests that house up to several thousand individuals which hunt by hanging threads from low lying leaves. They then hide upside down, beneath the leaves waiting for prey.

When an insect flies into the strands a group of spiders drop down and throw sticky webbing over it. To finish off the ambush they inject venom with their tiny jaws.

The fact that they seem to only live in a small chunk of Ecudoran rain forest is just fine by me. Creepy!

Posted by scott at 08:33 AM | Comments (0)
August 23, 2006
Run Away!

Posted by Ellen at 09:33 PM | Comments (1)
Strike a Pose Girls!


Olivia and one of her cousins at the yearly family reunion.

Posted by Ellen at 09:16 PM | Comments (1)
Oh, Those Crazy Japanese

If game shows in America were more like this, I don't think they'd be quite as rare. Sometimes a lack of personal injury attorneys can be a good thing.

I only got about a third of the way through it when I had to stop. I use headphones, but people get suspicious around here if they see you're having trouble breathing and have tears streaming down your face. I'll save the rest of it for home.

Posted by scott at 03:43 PM | Comments (1)
Hobbit Update

Joshua gets his second no-prize of the day for bringing us the latest developments in research on the Flores "hobbit people". This time the team of scientists who think the hobbit is just a microcephalic Homo sapien make their stand, producing all the evidence they think they need to prove their point. The reaction is what you'd expect... a complete refutation by the other side.

As far as I know, it's been awhile since physical anth has gone through a journal-driven scrum quite this intense. It's sort of like watching gladiators fight, stuck in a vat of molasses. Should be interesting!

Posted by scott at 02:27 PM | Comments (0)
A Funeral, for the Rest of Us

This is actually a problem somewhere:

Striptease send-offs at funerals may become a thing of the past in east China after five people were arrested for organizing the intimate farewells, state media reported on Wednesday.

Police swooped last week after two groups of strippers gave "obscene performances" at a farmer's funeral in Donghai County, Jiangsu province, Xinhua news agency said.

Boy that'll liven up the old wake in a hurry, won't it?

Posted by scott at 12:54 PM | Comments (0)

Joshua gets a no-prize that can breathe underwater for bringing us this video about a scuba diving cat. No, really!

I'd seen pictures of this (or perhaps of the scuba dog), but never anything detailed. The kitty is remarkably stoic about it all. Ours would explode in a panicked furball and not be right for weeks if we tried something like this with them. Except maybe for Goblin, who is pretty fearless in the face of the unknown. She'd probably be busy trying to leverage it into increasing her status with the gang.

No Amber, you can't have one. You either, Ellen.

Posted by scott at 11:39 AM | Comments (1)

Fark linked up this extra-freaky article-with-picture about gigantic yellow jacket nests being found in Alabama. Ok, if you see one of these, then see this big bunch of egg things next to it, do not walk up and peer down into an egg. If you do, I'm not going to lunch with you tomorrow, mmkay?

Posted by scott at 09:43 AM | Comments (4)
Om Phone Home

Don't blink, you might miss him:

Willy the tortoise made a break for freedom well, break may be too strong a word. It was more like a slow crawl. But after a month on the lam, the 40-pound tortoise with a 2-foot-wide, gold-colored shell is back in the wading pool at his owner's home.

The included picture reveals that, yep, it's another leopard tortoise, just like Om, only full-grown. That's how big he's going to get some day folks, and at the rate he's growing it won't be that far off. Which is just as well, because Om will most likely be the family dog.

Posted by scott at 08:27 AM | Comments (1)
August 22, 2006
Profiling, for the Rest of Us (Them?)

Sepia Mutiny has a rather... interesting... take on the whole profiling thing:

1) All TSA employees must be female virgins and there must be at least 50 of them at each TSA security line. Everyone knows that terrorists always wage their terror in order to be with virgins in the afterlife. This will draw them out of the general populace like flies toward warm sweet honey.

Satire, fresh and tasty!

Via I Speak of Dreams.

Posted by scott at 02:34 PM | Comments (0)
Hevrahbody Mus Ge' Stoned!

Stone Pages is a collection of photographs and brief descriptions of many major megalithic structures in Europe. From England to Italy, the authors catalog with personal photographs these enigmatic objects from Paleolithic and Bronze Age cultures of the distant past. They're all monumental proof that, if you give a man enough time but not enough tools, he'll eventually resort to stacking rocks on top of each other. A kind of English country shed, writ large.

Posted by scott at 12:57 PM | Comments (0)
Wither the Plasma?

Slashdot linked up this Toronto Star article detailing a rather startling market effect... the potential extinction of plasma screen TVs. I've always thought LCDs had a significant advantage over plasma screens, if only they could bring the costs under control. A few years ago we linked up announcements of the development of techniques that promised to do exactly that, and it would seem we are now seeing the results. There's definitely a large screen in our future, if only our infuriatingly reliable 27" conventional TV would have the decency to die. But, the longer we wait, the better the technology will be, so there really is no hurry.

Posted by scott at 11:47 AM | Comments (0)
Dark Proof

Making the rounds: Scientists claim to have discovered definitive proof of dark matter's existence. Again. Isn't this something like the third or fourth time?

Posted by scott at 09:24 AM | Comments (0)
The World's Fastest Schoolbus?

Fark linked up news of a car designed to break the long-standing land speed record for diesel power. Built by (what I think is) British excavator builder JCB, the vehicle is powered by two turbodiesel engines pumping out 1500 horsepower each. It aquitted itself quite well during last week's Bonneville Flats America's National Speed Week (wherein an Alfa Romeo Spider broke a class record), and is expected to smash the diesel record if all things go well.

While 4 mpg is not much in the street car world, that's actually very good mileage for a race car, most of which generally return 2.5 mpg, if that.

Posted by scott at 08:24 AM | Comments (2)
August 21, 2006
My Kind of Rally

Even though they're gonna ride motorcycles, I'd still try to pedal to keep up:

Topless porn stars on motorbikes will parade down the main street of New Zealand's biggest city, it has been confirmed.

The event called "Boobs on Bikes" has been given the green light by Auckland City Council, despite concerns from some councillors.

Go Kiwis!

Posted by scott at 03:01 PM | Comments (0)
Eighteenth Sign of the Apocalypse?

A government program that actually works:

Today, the change for the better is astonishing: [Nigerian Doctor John] Idoko now treats nearly 6,000 HIV-positive patients. He has expanded his clinic three times in five years, and his waiting room once again is too crowded. ``Now, we are eyeing an abandoned building nearby," he said last week, chuckling.

The major reason for Idoko's success is the Bush administration's AIDS program, which in the last three years has sent billions of dollars to Africa and helped save the lives of hundreds of thousands of people. When I moved to Africa three years ago, the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, or PEPFAR, was just getting off the ground. As I return to Washington this month, the $15 billion program is just hitting its stride, and many Africans believe it has become the single most effective initiative in fighting the deadly scourge.

As with anything touched by the US in general or the Bush administration in particular, even success is no guard against controversy. We've got a program that sure as hell seems to work, but since it works for the "wrong" reasons and in the "wrong" ways, it is of course therefore wrong.

Which just goes to show there really are people who ignore the axiom "if it's stupid and it works, it's not stupid."

Posted by scott at 01:28 PM | Comments (0)
Bolt-on is carrying this report on what would seem to be a routine maintenance item... the replacement of some securing bolts on a large antenna structure in space shuttle Atlantis's cargo bay. Routine, until you read this:

Earlier this week, [NASA shuttle program chief Wayne] Hale said that between six and eight engaged bolt treads are preferred for each bolt to ensure they will hold Atlantis’ 304-pound (137 kilogram) Ku-band antenna assembly fast during the eight and a half minute climb into orbit. Inspections found that only two of Atlantis’ four antenna bolts were suitably secured, though a survey of all three NASA shuttles found that some were attached by as little as two-thirds of a tread, he added.

Let's hear it for government project quality control! However, "treads" sounds like it might be different from "threads", so who knows, maybe it means something else entirely. All I can say is, if I found out only a quarter-turn of a bolt held something important on my car, I'd be pretty quick getting a longer bolt!

Posted by scott at 12:07 PM | Comments (1)
Paging Baby Jesus, White Courtesy Phone Please

I think we may have linked this up before, but this novel method of attaching clothing is definitely worth a second look. At least to readers of this website.

You sick puppies you!

Posted by scott at 09:58 AM | Comments (3)
But Do They Worship Allah?

Slashdot linked up this Aljazeera article (no, really!) detailing new research which purports to prove that dolphins are nowhere near as smart as we think they are:

Dolphins may have big brains, but a South African-based scientist says laboratory rats and even goldfish can outwit them.

Paul Manger of Johannesburg's University of the Witwatersrand says the super-sized brains of dolphins are a function of being warm-blooded in a cold water environment and not a sign of intelligence.

Sort of like cats, but with fins.

Posted by scott at 08:56 AM | Comments (0)
August 19, 2006
Meanwhile, on the Trail...

Mark and Carrie share a no-prize on wheels that'll careen right past them for bringing us today's "having solved all other problems, the Post takes on:"

Once a quiet getaway for lazy afternoon bicyclists and early-morning strollers, the [W&OD] trail has turned into a crowded commuter alley on weekdays and an overcrowded recreational destination on weekends, a place where sometimes speeding cyclists, in-line skaters, walkers, joggers and others fight for a narrow slice of pavement, with increasingly dangerous results.

Help! Help! The crowding's everywhere! We have to get the government to do something!

I ride the W&OD, on many of the specific portions they refer to, at least three to five times a week. I've commuted to work a few times as well. Yes, it can get a bit congested in some places at some times, but really, it's not that crowded. The Mount Vernon trail, held up in this article as the somewhat safer also-ran of "killer trails", is far more narrow and crowded than any section of the W&OD I've ever been on. The citation of fatalities is somewhat specious as well, since (to my knowledge) all but one in the past thirty years have ocurred at vehicle crossings.

This is not to say bicyclists are blameless, far from it. The vast majority of "crash tales" I read about on the various bike message boards I frequent could all have been prevented with a simple application of the brakes. Pedestrians being aware of the world around them would most likely take care of the rest.

In other words, just like the highways, the trails could be made much safer by people pulling their heads out of their asses and paying attention. Warn when passing, or pass well to the left. Slow the hell down if passing will be blocked. Walk to the right, on the right edge if you can, and in single file. Run a line in the middle of the right side, don't wander back and forth across the centerline. Bikers should treat kids like IEDs with Haji's finger on the button, and dogs should be on leashes and not allowed to string them across the width of the trail.

Follow these simple rules and accidents will evaporate like dew on handlebars. Me, I'm going to keep using those trails because if I get in an altercation with a pedestrian or another bicyclist, odds are I'll get hurt. If I get into an altercation with a car, I'll most likely get killed.

Posted by scott at 07:34 AM | Comments (2)
August 18, 2006
Insert Smothers Brothers Reference Here

Pat gets a really sweet no-prize for bringing us news of a chocolaty Darwin near-miss:

A 21-year-old US man was trapped in a tank of chocolate for about two hours early today.

Police Capt. Randy Berner said the worker said he got into the tank at the Debelis Corporation in Kenosha, Wisconsin, to unplug it and became trapped waist-deep in the chocolate.

Oh, and the title? Go look it up! (Some people won't need to.)

Posted by scott at 07:50 PM | Comments (2)

Help! Help! I'm being held...

Oh you know how it goes. In NY now for an in-law visit, birthday party, and family reunion, kind of thing. Posting will be irregular, but we'll probably have Pictures of Cuteness to post when we get home.

In the meantime, don't send people e-mails about an Osama bin Laden virus.


Posted by scott at 04:02 PM | Comments (1)
Happy Happy!

Happy Birthday Ellen!

Posted by scott at 06:45 AM | Comments (6)
August 17, 2006
Well, at Least They're Explicit About it

Scroll down to "What cannot be said on my posting..." Heh... fartknocker isn't on the list!

Posted by scott at 02:57 PM | Comments (3)
Score One for Captain Obvious

Then again, considering how dumb a lot of people are with their pets, they probably do need to be told:

Before you make good on threats to banish your misbehaved cat to the local shelter, consider this: Fluffy’s chances of finding a new home may not be as rosy as you might hope.

Felines surrendered by their owners are more stressed, fall ill more easily and are therefore euthanized more often than their stray counterparts at the shelter, according to new research by Kathryn Dybdall at the University of Nebraska in Omaha, US.

Cats around Ellen just naturally end up living 6 times longer than they would otherwise, but that's not what you'd call a typical case. Take care of your damned pets, people!

Posted by scott at 01:10 PM | Comments (2)
Little Spaceport, Big Dreams

Just because you don't have a customer doesn't mean you can't open a shop:

To the typical driver, it’s a sign that, if noticed, is bound to generate some curiosity, or at least some befuddlement. For those truckers and tourists headed west on Interstate 40 in western Oklahoma, bound for Amarillo, Albuquerque, and points beyond, they’ll find the sign shortly before the exit for Highway 44 and the small town of Burns Flat: “Exit 53: Oklahoma Spaceport”. A spaceport? In Oklahoma?

Lots of optimism, but also lots of obstacles. Still, it's nice to see somebody's planning for this sort of thing. Now to get out GoogleEarth and take a look at it.

Posted by scott at 12:14 PM | Comments (0)
Kitty Bling

You know we had to link this one:

This cool cat has traded in his catnip for some bling. Sebastian, a one-year-old Persian with long black hair, sports gold crowns on his two bottom canines, which grew sticking out from his lips in an underbite similar to a bulldog's.

I know, from being married to someone who is often a dentist for cats, that the standard procedure is to simply pull the teeth. Ellen pulls them so often I'm surprised cats have any teeth left when she's done with them. Probably this is because almost all their cats are old, and we all know every cat in the world is rotten.

Posted by scott at 09:30 AM | Comments (0)
Let's Go for a Drive

The picture makes this one priceless:

Cars run into houses.

It happens fairly often - but seldom is there an exit wound.

Fairly often is right. While I was in high school, cars would quite regularly drive into the lobby at Wal Mart, smash into the grocery store next door, and occasionally attack various fast-food places. As I recall, it happened about once or twice a year.

Then there was the time a few years ago when a lady drove her monster SUV right through the wall of our high-rise apartment complex and into someone's apartment. Brick, steel, and mortar seemed to have been no match.

There's a reason they put pylons around these places nowadays.

Posted by scott at 08:25 AM | Comments (1)
August 16, 2006
First Ka-Pow, Now Whoosh! is carrying this article summarizing the solution of a mystery surrounding the Martian southern ice cap. For years scientists had noticed strange, spidery formations of dust and rock, but had no clue as to what was causing them. By using data from the new Martian probes, a group of scientists has determined they're caused by seasonal jets of CO2 blasting into the sky at more than 100 mph.

Talk about your summer shows!

Posted by scott at 03:40 PM | Comments (0)

Sailboat, meet lightning bolt, lightning bolt, sailboat.

My picture would've been a lot more blurred as I jumped about eight feet in the air from the thunder. The guy must've been using a tripod or something.

Posted by scott at 02:37 PM | Comments (0)
Signposts of Progress

Specs for core multi-user database server, ca. April, 2000:
2 Pentium Xeon 550 mhz
63 GB disk space (RAID 5, 5x16 GB disks)
Estimated price: $25,000

Specs for cookie-cutter workstations, ca. September, 2006:
Dual-core pentium 2.8 Ghz
40 GB disk space (single disk)
Estimated price: $850

This comparison brought to you by my recent experimentation with VMware. I initially used the server because, well, it's a server dammit, it's supposed to be fast. It was only when I really thought about it that I realized the workstation I use for various tests was actually far more powerful

So now the old retired DB server is going to be turned into an SNMP monitor, and the workstation will become the VMware system until I can pry some $$$ out of upper management. Total cost so far: $0 (VMware server is a free product).

It's my website, I'll talk about what I want to talk about!

Posted by scott at 01:09 PM | Comments (0)
That's One Hot Instrument

Amazing, what you can do with simple matches. I bet it has a pretty weird sound.

Posted by scott at 11:53 AM | Comments (0)
Sea Spiders

No, really, sea spiders:

Weird spider-like creatures that live at the bottom of the ocean and use a 'straw' to suck on their prey are baffling scientists.

These sea spiders, some of which are blind, are defying scientific classification.

Marine zoologist Dr Claudia Arango of the Australian Museum in Sydney agrees they are arthropods, but which type?

Article includes cReEpY pictures of the little monsters.

Posted by scott at 10:57 AM | Comments (2)
A Planetary Definitive

Pat gets a no-prize signed by Interplanet Janet for bringing us news of the latest attempt at defining what a planet really is. What they agreed on this time would increase the number of planets in our solar system from 9 to 12, with other objects potentially being candidates as well.

The definition itself, "that an object be massive enough that gravity has formed it into a sphere and that it circles a star and not some other planet", seems simple enough. Of course, a whole bunch of astronomers are already arguing about it, probably because they didn't get a vacation in Prague to argue about obscure things nobody else cares about.

Posted by scott at 09:10 AM | Comments (0)
August 15, 2006
Bringing a Bat to a Gunfight

Whenever I encounter some dipwad on the highway being hyper-agressive and just generally a dangerous a-hole, I simply let them go by, knowing some day, some where, they'll eventually run across someone a lot better equipped to instruct them in the error of their ways.

Karma's a bitch, ain't it?

I'm not quite sure about the legitimacy of this. The whole ending is very surreal, and suspiciously well-orchestrated. Not saying it is a hoax, just that I wouldn't be surprised if it turned out to be. The accents are pretty obviously Canadian, so I can't say what their laws would make of it. Over here, the guy in the car would be completely in his rights to pull a gun on someone threatening him with a baseball bat. Indeed, in a few states he'd be well within his rights to shoot the guy dead. Taking the camera away from them is probably theft of some sort, but no jury in the world would convict them.

Still not sure I believe it, though.

Posted by scott at 02:05 PM | Comments (1)
Personally, I'm Liking Gretel

Fark linked up news of the discovery of an ancient murder victim:

A crime that has remained undetected for 1,500 years has been uncovered by an archaeological team working at the village of Sedgeford, in Norfolk.

A human skeleton was found hidden in what would have been a Roman corn drier, and experts believe the person was deliberately put inside.
On-site human remains expert Zannah Baldry said the body appeared to have been pushed into the oven and then set alight.

Hansel's lawyers refused to comment on the recent discovery.

Posted by scott at 12:38 PM | Comments (0)
I Shall Call Them, "Boobs of Steel"

Makes men stare, stops bullets. Is there anything boobs can't do?

Posted by scott at 11:33 AM | Comments (2)
Interface Fun

Joshua gets a cool but nerdy no-prize for bringing us this "shape of things to come" video demonstrating a new type of user interface device. The multi-finger approach to touch screens is (as far as I know) new, and may neatly avoid the "gorilla finger" pitfall most common to other sorts of touch interfaces.

It does seem to take up a lot of room, though. And I wonder just how expensive it would be. Still, back in the 70s people thought the mouse and the GUI were too expensive and required too powerful a computer, and look how that turned out.

Posted by scott at 09:18 AM | Comments (0)
The Coca-Cola Dance




This is one of my dearest friends, Katina, who had her first belly dance show in Maryland this past week! I could not be more proud! Katina and I always discussed dance and went to dance CE together. *Sniff* Now here she is dancing in a venue! Go Tina!

Posted by Ellen at 07:00 AM | Comments (1)
August 14, 2006
When Bollywood Attacks

Joshua gets a no-prize with an amazing 'fro for bringing us Solla Solla Enna Perumai. The thing I like about Bollywood movies is they're so unabashedly and unselfconsciously kitschy. Surreal, yes, but as long as you grin and play along they can actually be quite a bit of fun.

I like it, God help me I do.

Posted by scott at 02:30 PM | Comments (0)
Drug Trial Mystery

New Scientist is carrying this report summarizing the findings of the team which investigated the well-publicised drug trial that nearly killed its first six subjects. Far from solving things, the findings simply increase the mystery surrounding what, exactly, happened. It definitely doesn't look like a case of people messing up. Then again, it usually doesn't, at least at first.

Posted by scott at 01:27 PM | Comments (0)

When we first moved to the DC area (well, back then it was just me, but Ellen joined me just less than a year later) we didn't exactly live in a bad neighborhood, but, since we were on the top floor of a high-rise, we could see them all around us. There were lots of mysterious sirens most nights, and one memorable occasion when it seemed the entire Arlington police department was raiding the garden-style across the street, but we never saw anything like this.

Via Siflay, who also linked up this OCD-afflicted cat.

Posted by scott at 12:28 PM | Comments (0)
The More You Know...

I guess if nothing else this list of 18 things a sex worker's client should know proves you can make a list out of just about anything. It's an intriguing look at a part of a world most of us will never see.

Posted by scott at 11:37 AM | Comments (0)
Apple Go Boom

Users of Apple notebooks can no longer sniff at exploding Dells:

Of course, combustible materials, poorly designed wire stress management and fragile insulation isn't alone enough to start a fire. What makes this so dangerous is the fact that the Apple power adapters do not integrate sufficient short circuit protection on the DC side. This means, when the wires touch or nearly touch, they will arc and generate a spark - not once, but again and again, as long as the adapter remains plugged into electricity. And because it happens on the DC side, it does not trigger any circuit breakers, household fuses or GFCI outlets.

This from a guy who had his Apple's power adapter sizzle and fry right in front of him. So far Apple seems to have done nothing, but since I found this on Slashdot, something tells me a fire lit under Apple's butt will most likely follow.

Posted by scott at 09:19 AM | Comments (0)

Robert H. gets a useful but complex no-prize for bringing us the latest in robotic litter boxes. Of course, for this to work in our house we'd actually have to get them to start using litterboxes. Consistently, I mean.

Proposed Fark headline: "New litter box provides hands-free cleaning, searches for Sarah Conner"

Posted by scott at 08:12 AM | Comments (5)
August 13, 2006
Watercolor Makeup


Scott to me, as I got home an hour later: "She did a really good job putting make-up on! Check out that precision. Cheeks, eye shadow. All... by... herself?

No, really! Look! Stop looking at me like that.

Ok, church or no church, it's time to put the knife down. Hacking up your husband makes baby Jesus sad, ok? Ok? .."

Posted by Ellen at 09:03 PM | Comments (0)


This is what happens when you leave your child and husband alone together for an hour.

Posted by Ellen at 08:52 PM | Comments (0)
August 12, 2006
Quote of the Day

"Being Good and Right doesn't make you Nice, and she isn't." -- Wikipedia article on Terry Pratchett's character, Granny Weatherwax.

There's a reason she's Ellen's favorite character. In a lot of ways, and for most of the same reasons, she's mine too.

Posted by scott at 11:08 AM | Comments (0)
Double Bubble Binkey Trouble


Dry ice is fun!

A witch in training. Definitely Ellen's child.

Posted by scott at 08:50 AM | Comments (1)
August 11, 2006
For Me, This Would Be "10 Ways to Really Get Killed"

Michelle B. gets a no-prize with a death wish for bringing us 10 Ways to REALLY Piss Off Your Woman, a guide to things only a really crazy or really dumb man would even think of actually trying. Which means I'm thinking about it, Joshua's already got a plan, Mark's shaking his head, and we're all going to have to sit on Ron just to keep him alive.

I mean, really, that horse pillow one sounds absolutely classic.

Posted by scott at 04:00 PM | Comments (1)
Speaking of Turtles...

Well, tortoises anyway:

A trail of droppings led Kenyan airport staff to 228 live tortoises packed as “shells” and destined for Thailand, officials said on Thursday.

Good ol' leopard spotted ones, just like Om. Except these seem to be about softball-sized (right now Om is sorta lime-sized). Considering the destination, something tells me they weren't going into the pet market, so hooray for the inspectors!

No, Ellen, you already have one!

Posted by scott at 03:13 PM | Comments (0)
Perseid Time

It's time to get out the blankets and dig up that bottle of no-doze you got in college, because the Persieds are coming to town. Even though we're out in the 'burbs, our proximity to Dulles airport means our seeing conditions aren't what you'd call ideal. There's also the fact that Ellen and I think staying up late is when we make it past 10 pm. But it's good to know about, and maybe we'll try for some pictures.

Posted by scott at 02:11 PM | Comments (1)
When in the Bat Cave...

... do like the bats do:

Fourteen-year-old Ben Underwood of Sacramento, Calif., is one of the few people known to use echolocation as a primary means of navigating the world on land. There's not even a hint of light reaching his brain. His eyes are artificial, but his brain has adapted to allow him to appraise his environment. He makes a "clicking" sound to communicate with objects and people around him.

Turns out it's a pretty low-resolution way for people to learn about their surroundings, but like I always say, "if it's stupid and it works, it's not stupid."

Posted by scott at 01:05 PM | Comments (3)
When Turtles Attack

No, really, when turtles attack:

A graduate student from the University of Central Florida is missing after he was pulled underwater by a large sea turtle, according to Local 6 News.

See, Ellen? There's a reason you can't have one!

Posted by scott at 12:01 PM | Comments (2)
My Kind of Gadget

Finally, a peltier cooler that does something useful! But I don't know that I want one. I can just see Ellen sneaking up on me while I'm playing a game and dropping it down the back of my shirt.

Posted by scott at 10:54 AM | Comments (3)
On This Day...

Well, technically it's tomorrow, but today's definitely close enough to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the IBM PC, without which the entire world would be different.

Not the least being I wouldn't have a job!

Posted by scott at 09:18 AM | Comments (0)
Paging Cher, White Courtesy Phone Please

It may not be able to turn back time, but the "time fountain" will certainly cause you to waste a lot of it. The video is not to be missed!

Posted by scott at 08:16 AM | Comments (0)
August 10, 2006
The Last Shout

Problem 1: A NASA office wants 3 ex-SR71 Pratt & Whitney J58 engines for research. They need to be checked out and confirmed to be in working order.

Problem 2: How to dispose of the last of the JP7 fuel used for these engines, as well as the really nasty triethylborane (TEB) used to start them.

Solution: Well, go see for yourself. These are guys we're talking about, ya know.

Can't see how this snuck past us when it happend, but hey, better late than never.

Posted by scott at 03:39 PM | Comments (0)
I Didn't Even Know He was Sick!

Pat gets a no-prize en memorium for bringing us news of James A. Van Allen's passing. The discoverer of the radiation belts which now bear his name was 91.

Posted by scott at 02:32 PM | Comments (0)
The Remarkable Mr. Soplata and his Marvelous Machines

Whilst on my daily lunchtime browse through the good ol' Wikipedia, I was staggered to learn that one of four surviving B-36s is a pre-production prototype that is in private hands. On a farm. In Ohio. To a warbird nut, this is akin to learning there was once a fourth great pyramid that was disassembled in Giza and now sits in a rice field somewhere outside Dumas, Arkansas.

Further research led me to discover the story of Mr. Walter Soplata. For something so, well, weird, there's surprisingly little information out there about him. According to this four-year-old usenet entry, he's an eccentric old farmer who over the years has collected dozens of extremely rare warbirds. As you can see by this even older collection of on-site photos, they're all mostly junk, but they're his junk and he seems quite adamant that they remain his and in that condition for as long as he lives.

If you have Google Earth installed, this link provides the exact co-ordinates to the place. Using that, I was able to find it on Google's maps, but can't figure out how to use that to provide a link. Sure enough, it looks like a gigantic pile of airplane junk, up in northern Ohio.

The things you learn by browsing...

Posted by scott at 01:26 PM | Comments (0)
Cardboard Cube

My question is, where was their supervisor? Then again, most IT folks work bizarre hours and tend to have jobs that involve a lot of sitting around waiting for things to happen. Many IT folks are the firemen of the digital age, with the spare time to prove it. For all I know the supervisor was the one who got it started.

Posted by scott at 11:41 AM | Comments (0)
3D Breakthrough

Slashdot linked up news of a revolutionary new method of looking at fossils. By using a particle accelerator, scientists are now able to create extremely high resolution 3D images of even the most minute fossils, in a completely non-destructive way. This represents a sea change in the way these fossils are analyzed, and is already providing breakthrough discoveries in the earliest stages of multicellular life.

Posted by scott at 09:28 AM | Comments (0)
Owen and Mzee

Remember that tsunami-marooned hippo and his best bud the giant tortoise? They have a blog, and apparently are doing fine to this day. Most interestingly, the blog goes all the way back to Owen the hippo's rescue, allowing you to read about this most odd of couples from day one.

No Ellen, you can't have one. Either of them.

Posted by scott at 08:24 AM | Comments (0)
August 09, 2006
And Now, for Your "WTF?!?" Entry of the Day...

We have, well, this:

Imagine your body pocked by erupting sores. The sensation of little bugs crawling all over you. And worst of all, mysterious red and blue fibres sprouting from your skin.

It may sound like a macabre science fiction movie, but a growing legion of Americans say they suffer from this condition. And now the United States Centres for Disease Control and Prevention is investigating.

Personally, sounds to me like a bunch of wacks have latched on to the latest "craze" in fad medicine. But maybe not...

Does your skin itch at night?

Posted by scott at 07:16 PM | Comments (10)
Two Chairs To Choose From...


and she decides it is much better to toss half a stuffed animal box to the floor and lay in the box. I swear she was a cat in a former life.

Posted by Ellen at 03:10 PM | Comments (1)
Chicken Boots

The video is too funny not to miss, BUT the link is NSFW due to all the PrOn ads around it.

Posted by Ellen at 02:29 PM | Comments (2)
Drawing the (Poverty) Line

One of the biggest paradoxes folks who think the US is doing just fine must face is that in spite of growing anecdotal evidence that America's poor are actually far from it, the leading indicator of poverty says they've made absolutely no progress at all in the past thirty years. The solution? Maybe, just maybe, the way we measuer poverty is screwed up.

Now, I don't expect something so near and dear to a liberal's heart as a statistic that matches their belief system to be changed without a fight. Bloodbath is more like what I imagine it would be. But if our current measure of poverty is as out of whack as the originating author is claiming, we definitely need to start talking about it. Oh, and it's a damned dense article... read it and then come back and accuse me of being a Bush administration toady. I do so love it when you do that, you know.

Posted by scott at 01:44 PM | Comments (0)
Personally, I Blame the Patriot Act

Pat gets a no-prize that's listening for bringing us news of a most peculiar wire tapping case:

Scotland Yard has pounced on three men, including the royal editor of a leading London tabloid, over suspicions that telephones in Prince Charles's household have been bugged.

And all this time I thought it was governments who spied on their people.

Posted by scott at 12:00 PM | Comments (0)
Follow the McRules to get Your McFood, you McTard

Fark linked up the McRules for you to follow. Even though it's been (good lord) nearly twenty years since I worked there, I still quite vividly remember the experience. The rules detailed in the article tell me even after all that time the job still hasn't changed much.

And yes, it's written by an obnoxious teen or twentysomething and if the employees were just a bit nicer to me it'd be easier to be nice to them and who the hell is this person anyway? All true, but you really have to work at a place like this to understand. This article helps you understand.

Posted by scott at 10:31 AM | Comments (0)
Meanwhile, in South Looneyville

Having solved all other problems, Argentina seems to be determined to dredge up some old ones:

It seems an unlikely scrap of land to squabble over. Treeless, remote, and blasted by the full fury of the South Atlantic, the Falkland Islands are home to less than 3,000 people, and thrilling only to those who love nature, big winds, and spectacular isolation.

But Britain and Argentina considered the archipelago important enough to fight over in 1982. And suddenly, unobtrusively, a new row is simmering over the British-owned outcrop, known universally in South America as Las Malvinas.

I don't think I ever will understand the Latin personality.

Via Siflay.

Posted by scott at 09:22 AM | Comments (1)
Pedal Pedal

Well, I have finally reached a milestone. It now takes me about as much time to drive to work by myself (1:20:00) as it does to bike to work (1:24:28)*. 15.3 mph average isn't much by most standards, but I'll take it. Go me!

* Since Ellen and I work just a few miles apart, we normally use the HOV lanes, which cuts the commute time in half.

Posted by scott at 08:26 AM | Comments (0)
August 08, 2006
Maybe it Can be Fixed

Next step, include it in the water supply:

A German scientist has been testing an "anti-stupidity" pill with encouraging results on mice and fruit flies, Bild newspaper reported Saturday.

It said Hans-Hilger Ropers, director at Max-Planck-Institute for Molecular Genetics in Berlin, has tested a pill thwarting hyperactivity in certain brain nerve cells, helping stabilize short-term memory and improve attentiveness.

I can think of several people who'd need an IV drip. Namely, me.

Posted by scott at 02:48 PM | Comments (0)
Unraveling the Cosmological Sweater

Nearly every large paradigm shift in science seems to startout with an equation that don't quite balance, or a set of numbers that won't quite add up. To me, at least, it looks like a new thread has been teased loose, this time involving cosmological evolution:

A project aiming to create an easier way to measure cosmic distances has instead turned up surprising evidence that our large and ancient universe might be even bigger and older than previously thought.

If accurate, the finding would be difficult to mesh with current thinking about how the universe evolved, one scientist said.

Nobody's saying yet, but with all of these reports about exceptions, conflicting observations, and failed predictions, it definitely seems like the standard model is in serious need of revision, and just might need to be rethought entirely.

So says the anthropology major!

Posted by scott at 01:53 PM | Comments (1)
At Least it'll be Shorter than Episode I is carrying news of yet another Star Wars-based venture:

U.S. director George Lucas has given permission for the “Star Wars'' saga, which lasted for over 13 hours, to be shortened to a production of just 20 minutes, officials from Britain's Reduced Shakespeare Company said Tuesday

Sounds sorta like the 30-second theater thing, only live action, and without bunnies.

Posted by scott at 12:50 PM | Comments (0)
A "Hole" Town

Everyone knows strip mines are big places. I mean, they're what happens when you turn mountains into lakes. But it doesn't really sink in until you actually see one.

There's a vastly smaller open-pit quarry down the W&OD bike trail. For whatever reason, the builders of the trail made a nice overlook into the main quarry, which is probably a half mile across and maybe a quarter of that deep. Still, quite impressive to see the tiny trucks with their six-foot-plus wheels creeping around like tiny Tonka toys.

I can't imagine what this thing must be like.


Posted by scott at 11:37 AM | Comments (2)
Fun with Dragons

There's bound to be a better word to describe this, but cigarette smoke blowing through the nose is as close as I can get. If you look hard enough, you'll find someone who thinks anything is cool. Site is SFW as far as I could tell, but I didn't troll through the whole thing.

Posted by scott at 09:44 AM | Comments (0)
August 07, 2006
Ponycar Reply

It's now official (well, sort of), GM will be producing a new Camaro for 2008. No word on whether or not the Firebird badge will be revived at the same time. Looks pretty cool to me, although the versions I'd be interested in would most likely be priced out of my reach. Plus, I have other auto-obsessions which will be reaching these shores around that time.

Posted by scott at 02:57 PM | Comments (1)

Dad always told me to always stand beside or behind someone firing a gun. I didn't realize the same thing could apply to people driving cars:

Police say a 15-year-old girl in New Jersey accidentally struck and killed her mother while being taught how to parallel park.

More than thirty years later my mom still harps on about my learner's permit days. To think I could've taken care of it all with just a parking lesson.

Oh stop it. It's a joke. Anyone? Anyone? Thank you, thank you, I'll be here all week, be sure to tip your waiter!

Posted by scott at 01:45 PM | Comments (0)
Darwin's Own Rewind Button

New Scientist is carrying this article summarizing a group of scientist's efforts at creating ancient genes by "reversing" exiting modern ones. It's hoped the technique could eventually lead to innovative new methods of gene therapy.

Posted by scott at 12:33 PM | Comments (0)
Fun with Vectors

Fans of computer art should find this collection of "photo realistic vector drawings" of interest. Some are better than others, as usual. I'm most impressed by the folks who managed to pull off what I'd call (probably wrongly) "focal length blurring". When you're dealing with art generated from mathematical lines, blurry objects are hard.

Contains one arty NSFW picture under a link.

Posted by scott at 10:47 AM | Comments (0)
More Tomb Time

Slashdot linked up news of yet another potentially unexplored tomb found in the Valley of the Kings. The information came from the same survey that discovered KV63, which turned out to be a cache of burial supplies. In the article and in the comments, it's been noted that this is just a potential tomb. The place is supposed to be littered with burial shafts dug and then abandoned for reasons both obvious and obscure.

Still, should be worth a look.

Posted by scott at 09:42 AM | Comments (0)
Paging Charlton Heston, White Courtesy Phone Please

Fark linked up this article describing what Titanic movie-maker James Cameron has been up to lately:

The greatest story ever told has acquired a Hollywood twist. James Cameron, the director of Titanic, is the executive producer of a new documentary that claims to have uncovered fresh evidence confirming one of the most dramatic episodes in the Old Testament — the parting of the Red Sea and the Jewish exodus from Egypt.

I've liked every one of his "regular" movies, but thought his documentary on Bismark was rather dry. Still, this could prove quite interesting. The article doesn't mention where, exactly, the film will be shown. If it's on Discovery or some other channel, it'll definitely be time to set the Tivo.

Posted by scott at 08:49 AM | Comments (0)
August 05, 2006
Sassy sassycat.jpg

Also known as Sassafrass.

Posted by Ellen at 10:18 PM | Comments (1)
Yoda Cat


I do not know what it is about that sink...

Posted by Ellen at 10:16 PM | Comments (1)


Maggie is an old lady that boards with us on occasion

Posted by Ellen at 10:14 PM | Comments (0)
Paper Dragons

Ron gets a nerdy but wise no-prize for bringing us one guy who thinks China's economy is heading for a brick wall. If something snaps in China, life will become quite interesting all over the world. More than anything else, oil prices will collapse with an almighty bang, sucking the wind out of all our islamofascist friends' sails. Of course, it won't all be good; then again it won't all be bad. Hell it may not do anything at all.

But it just might.

Posted by scott at 04:44 PM | Comments (0)
August 04, 2006
Meanwhile, at the Bottom of the Sea

The Nazi aircraft carrier Graf Zeppelin has been found. The Russians towed it away at the end of the war and then used it to train themselves how to sink an aircraft carrier. Just for giggles, mind you, no real opponent in mind and thank you for asking.

See? Wasn't just us doing it!

Posted by scott at 03:17 PM | Comments (1)
Well Thank You Captain Obvious

Obese face greater risks from heat wave

Ya think?

Yes folks, they really think this is news. Sometimes I think all it takes to get AP to run it is a press release and a fax machine.

Posted by scott at 02:37 PM | Comments (0)
A Serial What? Where? Is that Even in the US?

For even more proof that if it doesn't happen in New York, DC, or LA, it doesn't matter, we have a serial killer whom I only heard about after his apparent arrest. This guy they think killed at least six people and shot dozens more, yet no national hyperventilation like we got with Malvo et. al.

Pack mentality? Our media?

Posted by scott at 01:24 PM | Comments (5)

BBCnews is reporting on the discovery of a new and strange sort of interstellar object. Not quite planets, not quite stars, these "planetary mass objects" (planemos, for short) are very mysterious and completely unaccounted for in current cosmological theories. Scientists are now going to start looking around to see if more of these things exist, as their frequency may help unravel the mystery of their formation.

Posted by scott at 12:28 PM | Comments (0)
Words You do not Want to See Together

Deckchair trapped testicles.

F'ing ouch!

Posted by scott at 10:40 AM | Comments (0)
But Remember, it's a Religion of Peace

Sometimes you just can't make this stuff up:

"Let's listen to a very beautiful story to learn about the courage of a child, and how, when a child is brought up in a good home, and receives proper education in faith, he loves martyrdom, which becomes like an instinct for him. He can never give it up," Sheik Muhammad Nassar told children on the program, which aired on the Al-Nas [Egyptian] television channel.
On a previous broadcast on Egyptian television in 2002, a three and a half year-old girl was asked to describe Jews. "They are apes and pigs… our God said so," was her reply. The girl's answer was enthusiastically received by the program's host. "Allah be praised. May our God bless her. No one could wish for a more devout girl. May God bless her and her parents," the host said.

My only hope is this is some obscure weirdo religious channel that nobody really watches. Something tells me that hope is a bit of a long shot.

Posted by scott at 09:26 AM | Comments (0)
Monumental Weirdness

Ron gets a no-prize mounted upside-down in a park for bringing us this collection of "the strangest monuments of the world. They didn't include the high-falutin' representation of a woman's private bits now proudly mounted in the main park of the bedroom district where Ellen's dad lives, but they should've.

Things that make you go, "Hmmm..."

Posted by scott at 08:23 AM | Comments (0)
August 03, 2006
Looks Round to Me is carrying this article summarizing a new theory on how the moon got its shape. Turns out it's not actually round, but instead has a bulge around the equator. By studying past events and using computer models, scientists think they've figured out why.

Posted by scott at 02:35 PM | Comments (0)
Gotta Have Rules

Well of course some place called "Modern Drunkard Magazine Online" would have rules of boozing. Some are quite good, too.

Posted by scott at 01:45 PM | Comments (1)
Well, Somebody's Got to Do it

There's calendars, and then there's calendars:

The 2007 Men of Mortuaries Calendar is scheduled to be available in October of 2006. You may reserve your copy here by giving us your e-mail address. When the calendars become available we will inform you. The button below will be ready after the 20th of May.2006.

It's for charity, so why not?

Posted by scott at 12:41 PM | Comments (0)
Trading in Darkness

Like the guys over there say, trade deficit? What trade deficit?

I read through it and, economic expert that I am, what the originating authors seem to have done is proposed a method to account for what everyone sees as an important but unaccountable sector of the US economy... services. It's not the things we sell or buy, it's what we know, how we do things, what risks we're willing to take and what risks other people won't. The results of this accounting may surprise you.

Posted by scott at 11:42 AM | Comments (1)

New Scientist is carrying this report on the extremely bizzare case of the inelegantly named stellar pair WD 0137-349. The system consists of a failed star, known as a "brown dwarf", and the remnants of a dead star, known as a white dwarf. Orbital evidence (whose particulars are even weirder than the objects themselves) indicates that at one point the brown dwarf was actually enveloped by its companion during that companion's red giant phase. While it seems to have survived the encounter, models predict it will eventually be consumed by its white dwarf companion.

Just when you think the universe can't get any weirder...

Posted by scott at 10:42 AM | Comments (0)
Majestic Indeed

Personally, I think "yoni" sounds like some kind of squash. But what do I know? I'm not completely sure what a "charka" is either, but it's probably up to no good.

Posted by scott at 09:30 AM | Comments (0)
Can Skynet be Far Behind?

Ron gets a very brainy no-prize for bringing us this Discovery Channel article detailing the creation of yet another "simulated brain". This time, scientists are using microprocessors linked together to create neuron-like functions. The primary innovation seems to be the removal of a clock... normal microprocessors need them, neurons don't. By creating microprocessors that don't, the scientists are hoping for a much more accurate model. Ultimately, it's hoped the device will allow a much more detailed look at how brains function.

Posted by scott at 08:35 AM | Comments (0)
August 02, 2006
A Planet Covered in Rocket Fuel?

Spaceflight Now introduces this article about a new theory regarding Martian weather and its effect on the environment with what must be some sort of "Captain Obvious" award winning headline: Peroxide snow on Mars may make planet inhospitable.

Ya think?

Posted by scott at 03:20 PM | Comments (2)
Scanning the Past

BBCnews is carrying this update on the scanning of the Archimedes palimpsest:

Until now, the pages have remained obscured by paintings and texts laid down on top of the original writings.

Using a non-destructive technique known as X-ray fluorescence, the researchers are able to peer through these later additions to read the underlying text.

I seem to recall a Nova special on this book detailing the discovery of the technique, but not any of the text. Looks like they're progressing at the rate of a page or two a day (maybe less). But any progress on the writings of someone as important as Archimedes is fine by me!

Posted by scott at 02:16 PM | Comments (0)
Forgotten London

While I could've sworn we'd linked up London Underground History, I couldn't find evidence for it. With some 40 stations abandoned in various states of disrepair, the Underground is ripe for the kind of spooky exploration that horror and sci-fi novels are often built around. The site includes lots of neat pictures, as well as descriptions of the various "disused" stations.

Just the thought of looking out the window of a subway car and seeing the shadows of a disused station rocket by is enough to give me the chills. SpOoKy!

Posted by scott at 01:11 PM | Comments (0)
How it Works

Instapundit linked up this informative article describing the nuts-and-bolts of the testosterone tests that triggered the latest Tour controversy. As of this writing, the results of the B test have still not been delivered, but the consensus of the stories I've read says that one will come back positive as well. Which is too bad, but whaddayagonnado?

Posted by scott at 10:34 AM | Comments (0)
Say it ain't So!

What is the world coming to:

Diamonds are no longer a girl's best friend, according to a new U.S. study that found three of four women would prefer a new plasma TV to a diamond necklace.

What's next? Cats and dogs sleeping together? Mass hysteria?

Posted by scott at 09:25 AM | Comments (12)
August 01, 2006
Fun with Fundies

At first, I thought this site was just your garden variety fundie loon collection. Then I got to the Sir Mix-a-lot parody. When it makes my jaw ache and eyes water from trying not to laugh, that's always a very good sign.

A sign from the Lord, if you will...

Posted by scott at 03:47 PM | Comments (2)
~ Designer Ice, Ice Baby ~

I suppose if you try hard enough, there's a market for anything:

At a scorching two bucks a liter this water already takes more from your pocket than the cost of the gas you put in your car.

So perhaps times are ripe for purified ice cubes.

Hey now, these are Canadians... they know ice!

Posted by scott at 02:38 PM | Comments (0)
The Trick is to Use Very Tiny Baseball Bats

New Scientist is reporting on the creation of "zombie" bacteria to create more effective and durable vaccines.

Posted by scott at 01:38 PM | Comments (0)
Big Bomber

Aviation Week this week is featuring this story on attempts to convert a 747 freighter into the world's largest fire bomber. Able to drop 20,500 gallons of water or fire retardent in 10 seconds, it's capacity is equal to 8 "normal-sized" air tankers. While the concept seems to work, there are still a very large number of regulatory hoops to jump through before the aircraft can see service.

The small cover picture featured with the article doesn't do this thing justice... it's huge.

Posted by scott at 12:30 PM | Comments (0)
Liquid Armor

Slashdot linked up this Business Week article detailing a new invention in the personal armor field:

Developed by Norman Wagner, a professor of chemical engineering at the University of Dela-ware's Center for Composite Materials, it's a mix of polyethylene glycol, a polymer found in laxatives and other consumer products, and nanobits of silica, or purified sand. Together they produce a "sheer-thickening liquid" that stiffens instantly into a shield when hit hard by an object. It reverts to its liquid state just as fast when the energy from the projectile dissipates.

I bet this looks cool on video. Hopefully it actually works.

Update: Link now works, and a no-prize to Joshua for actually finding a video.

Posted by scott at 09:44 AM | Comments (4)
Human Nature vs. Mother Nature

Problem: What was once considered prime real estate has lately proven to be nothing more than a giant hurricane magnet.

Obvious solution: Don't live there, move away, build somewhere else.

Actual solution: Piss and moan until one level of government or another can make everyone else pay for your fancy condo or beach-front business:

In recent months, Florida's insurance crisis has mushroomed, spreading quickly from homeowners unable to cope with soaring rates to businesses facing policy cancellations, dwindling coverage and out-of-this-world costs if they can find insurance at all.
We brought together a group of lawmakers, a regulator, insurance agents and business and consumer leaders, including Marks, for a roundtable discussion on the crisis, its impact and possible solutions.

Florida already regulates what insurance companies can charge for a particular policy. You know, Florida, the place that's been hit by, what, five major hurricanes in the past three years? The result was typical, shortages. The surprised reaction was also unsurprising, "You're a a bunch of greedy awful corporations taking advantage of us little guys! We won't let you charge what you think it'll take to cover your costs and make a profit. This is what you can charge! Ha! Take that! Wait! Wait! Come back! Hey, Mr. Congressman, pass a tax or something so we can have our condo/beach business back!"

People will only live where it's affordable. But they want to live wherever they please. When markets are allowed to work, the cost of building or living in a hurricane zone, flood plain, fault line, or tornado alley rapidly exceeds what most people can afford, and so the population in those areas falls all by itself. Unfortunately, human nature means people do whatever they can to distort and control those markets so they can build expensive things in the paths of forces which will readily destroy them. They'll then use the levers of government to make us pay to rebuild it all again. And again. And again.

And that's when we all lose.

Profits are not greed. They're a measure of how efficient it is to do something. The prices they generate provide a powerful and effective method of modifying human behavior so it becomes less wasteful over time. Mistaking profits for greed and then trying to legislate your way out of a problem allows people to ignore the obvious and continue their wasteful ways.

The popular response is not to trust the market, it's to legislate some more. After all, it's working so well right now. That it doesn't work, never has worked, and never will work is immaterial. It's not our approach that's the problem, it's that we haven't found the right set of rules, or the people are too stupid to follow them. Pass some more laws! Put the kulaks against the wall! It'll eventually get better! Keep trying!

It's not greed. It's a direct and extremely effective measure of the price of doing business somewhere. The kind of people who ignore this are the kind of people who'll live in a hurricane zone.

Sometimes I think they get what they deserve.

Posted by scott at 08:48 AM | Comments (1)