Joshua gets a deliriously loony no-prize for bringing us evidence that the foil hats are now being passed from left to right. It takes a little while to get rolling, but by page 3 both sides are baying at each other enthusiastically.
I'm beginning to think it's not that things are getting more extreme. In America people have been shooting each other over politics for as long as there's been a country. I think instead perhaps that it's just easier for these loons to find an outlet. And it's not just the internet, but also the well-documented tendency of MSM outlets to compulsively seek "the other side" of any issue, even when "the other side" means finding someone who thinks, for example, the moon landings were a hoax.
Personally, I blame Ari Fleischer.
Scientists are doing even more research on so-called "hot Jupiters", and the results are just as bizarre as you'd expect them to be. Something bigger than Jupiter whirling around its star every 3.5 days. Who the hell ordered that?
Apparently the largest predatory bird that ever lived died out much earlier than previously thought. So much earlier that its extinction could not have been caused by humans. Even stranger, the species managed to migrate from South to North America before the two continents were connected. Scientists have no idea how.
Personally, I blame Karl Rove.
And 20-somethings wonder why it's so hard to start renting an apartment. Not a girl to be found anywhere, imagine that.
No, I wasn't like this in college. But I had friends who were.
Fans of forensic anthropology in the peanut gallery (and I mean, come on, who's not a fan?) should find this "Glen and Helen Show" podcast interview with Bill Bass and John Jefferson of interest. Long-time readers will most likely remember that Bill Bass is the inventor of the University of Tennessee "body farm."
While any site that purports to offer escape from the bondage of space time is worth a look to me, viewing it revealed a strange but rather happy old man bopping to 40s swing music and cooing "yes, it is" at random times. I'm sure Master Teacher had a point somewhere in there, I just wasn't able to find it. The Internet is a wonderful place!
Archaeologists say they have found a huge ancient settlement used by the people who built Stonehenge.
Excavations at Durrington Walls, near the legendary Salisbury Plain monument, uncovered remains of ancient houses.
People seem to have occupied the sites seasonally, using them for ritual feasting and funeral ceremonies.
Mark gets an ancient and mysterious no-prize for letting us know about the discovery and giving us the opportunity to post yet another "Weer in Ur" link. Woot!
But, but, it's so... unusual!
It just doesn't feel right if we don't link up one bizarre thing a day. If we were more normal you wouldn't come around as much!
Support the troops,
appose oppose the mission? Well, I guess you can imagine how well that plays with the people actually performing the mission:
I think I'm seeing a sea change in the way the war is being reported. Cautious optimism, or at least a lack of pessimism, seems to be leaching into MSM reporting. Not enough to materially affect their bias, but it is noticeable, at least to me. Have we actually reached a (good) tipping point?
Note: All Ellen pictures are SFW, but the site does contain some artsy-not-quite-safe shots elsewhere. In blue and red, even.
A report from Saturday's anti-war rally: "It is sad that in thirty years, the U.S. Left hasn’t come up with a better idea than socialism."
When the first Gulf War came around in 1990, everyone remarked how the protest movement was so obviously composed of 60s holdouts trying to recapture old glory. Being the generation that grew up as America came to terms with what these people did to soldiers and society in their vainglorious attempt at "revolution", we treated them with the sad contempt they so richly deserved.
A full generation later, and it seems they're marshaling for one last sortie, one last skirmish, one final attempt at raising a red flag over the captiol. It appears the generation that has grown up without clear memory of social chaos and its guilt-ridden aftermath are more than happy to fill out their Geritol-addled ranks.
For it is the doom of men, that they forget...
Slashdot linked up a new development in the "Flores Hobbit" discoveries. A team investigating ancient climate change in the region last year discovered a second chamber below the known cave where the strange human remains were found. A cursory exploration of the sinkhole revealed a very large number of bones and other debris, some with obvious butcher marks. It's hoped that hobbit remains are mixed in with the rest, and that these better-preserved bones may yield viable DNA samples. If those can be found, many scientists seem confident the mystery of these creatures will be definitively solved.
Conventional wisdom tells us suburbia is the root of all evil. From sprawl to excess driving, overdeveloped land to underdeveloped public transit, all and more are the direct result of our seemingly incessant need for more space. As with all such conventional wisdom, it's actually quite wrong. Kudos to the author for bringing the high-sniff Euroweenies into the picture for comparison.
From the department of, "It's Our Calendar, We'll Do What We Please with it" comes news that today is Milton Friedman day. If you don't know who this guy is, this is a great way to start learning. Considering how influential he has been, you should.
Strap in and hold tight for this in-car view of road racing done very, very right. You might think he has some sort of horsepower advantage, but pay close attention... he only gains ground around the curves and under braking, which is how it's supposed to work. If this doesn't make your heart beat just a little faster you're probably not paying attention.
Mark gets a twisted-yet-funny no-prize for bringing us this Saving Private Ryan and Finding Nemo mashup. Note: Contains several of the really violent scenes from Ryan, so YMMV.
Those of you who've never even considered the problems of minimum wage laws may find this section of the Wikipedia entry on the subject of interest. It provides (IMO) a decent, evenhanded discussion of the cons and the pros of placing a floor on earned wages.
Decent. And evenhanded. On our site. Holy crap, I think I just personally rang in the eleventh sign of the apocalypse right there.
Lane G. gets a no-prize made of thread for bringing us this insightful look into string theory. My own reaction, when reading about it all, is more along the lines of an explosion. Or 'asplosion, as the case may be.
Pat gets a mysterious no-prize for bringing us this update on "dark energy" research. It's an older article, but still discusses things I hadn't encountered before. Just when you thought the universe couldn't get any weirder...
Joshua gets a corny white no-prize for bringing us what has to be one of the more elaborate wedding dance numbers I've ever seen. Why Ron and Amber didn't try this at their wedding I'll never know.
Obesity ranks second among preventable causes of death. Tobacco use is number one.
Read the entire here.
Scott and I watched a show last night about people that ate 33,000 calories in a day. Quite depressing.
Aw c'mon Ron! You were asking for it!
Me: "I think we should get Olivia some video games."
Scott: "Ya think?!?"
Taken at the Nat'l Air and Space (which Olivia picked out, all by herself!)
FYI, these space pixes were taken today at Air And Space in D.C. by yours truely.
Note the roller caught in mid-fall, trailing water drops.
Not too shabby for a Buddhist who's last church-taught bible lesson was 30 years ago. Not as good as Mark, but I'll take it :).
Most people are shocked when I say I'm in favor of abolishing the minimum wage laws outright. Since I'm neither an economist, a libertarian, or particularly coherent, my subsequent explanations typically lead to a rather "Zuckerist" response. So I'm glad someone else who is much more qualified has done a bit of the work for me.
He also gets bonus points for the "get off my lawn, punk"-ish tone of his last bullet point.
Mark gets a fragrant no-prize for bringing us a suspiciously clever commercial starring everyone's favorite zombie killer Bruce Campbell. We've had a Tivo for so long we literally don't see commercials any more, so I'm not sure if this is being, was, or will be broadcast. I'm not sure the networks even air 60 second commercials anymore.
Tatterdemalian gets a frenetic triple no-prize for bringing us not only yet another fine example of Japanese surrealism, but also the story behind it as well as our own nearly four-year-old reference to it.
Dear Lord the Japanese can be weird sometimes.
Guard dogs protecting a fruit orchard in Malaysia have met their match – a 7.1-metre-long python that swallowed at least 11 hounds before it was finally discovered by villagers.
I think I'll call them "Brazillianed Cats" instead. Ellen does this to cats all the time. She claims they feel lots better afterward, but to me they always look enormously pissed off.
Will string theory ever be testable? According to this it will be, and soon. The theory is so complex only a handful of people seem to be able to even approximate the equations necessary to understand it, so I'll politely withhold judgment on whether the efforts at experimentation are workable. But it is nice to see that they're trying.
Or, in this case, a body in a box:
The partially mummified body of a baby, wrapped in 1950s newspapers, was found Monday by a woman going through her deceased parents' belongings in a southeast Florida storage facility, according to police.
The things we hide away, forgotten and alone.
While we've been going to a lot of movies lately, we obviously haven't been going to the right ones. Otherwise I'd have long since known about the latest Transformers trailer making the rounds. Definitely not something for Olivia, but definitely something for a late-summer movie night.
Assuming it doesn't suck, that is. Hollywood's track record on Japanese-originated superhero stuff hasn't been that great IMO. We'll see!
Making the rounds: pop singer Brandy was recently involved in a fatal car accident. The linked report gives much more detail than the blurb I read in the Post this morning, including a weird note about how many other "Moesha" stars have kicked the bucket recently (Brandy's fine, it was some other unlucky SOB who got her ticket punched).
It appears that the Super Size Me diet is not as destructive as it was portrayed on film. MSNBC (of all places) ran Super Size Me a few weeks ago and we caught it on Tivo. What nobody ever mentioned (that I heard about anyway) was that film creator and principal star Morgan Spurlock was far more than just a regular Joe out to prove something. As I recall, the first weigh in they determined he had something like 11% body fat, which puts him way into the "athletic" range. Also never mentioned was his girlfriend was a vegan, which means he was most likely eating an extremely different diet before he started the project.
Once I got my head around those two data points, the whole film turned from "an example of corporate evil run amok in America" adventure into a "well what the hell did you expect to happen, moron?" sort of experience. Any time you make a radical change in diet you're going to go through all sorts of unpleasant side-effects until your body adjusts. Especially if you're an extremely athletic person eating what would presumably be a very low fat, low calorie diet.
There does seem to be a bit of good coming out of the whole project though. According to the article, the variety of results that happened when a more scientific approach was used could lead to new ways to treat obesity.
Scientific American is carrying this article claiming the use of time outs, extra chores, and taking away privileges is more effective at disciplining kids than spanking. While Olivia is too young for chores to be effective, the other two (along with incentives to be good) definitely work best for her. Time outs are a little embarrassing in the grocery store, but it's gotten to the point now that simply threatening one will usually get the desired result.
If the ball isn't oblong and brown, it just ain't football to us. Kudos to Tussauds for also showing what Posh Spice would look like if she'd only eat a sammich or two.
West Africa and North East England are closer than people once thought. While the idea that the black man who introduced a specific and rare Y chromosome into a single English family line came from a Roman legion is romantic, I think the hypothesis that he came from a 17th century slave market far more likely. Then again, a single English family keeping a single surname and living in the same spot for more than six centuries is pretty spectacular to me, so I suppose anything is possible.
Actually, I'm surprised it's taken this long for God to start hating goths. We have several friends who inhabit the gothic sphere, but even they admit they're out on the edge. I've been told more than once the really scary goths are the ones that come out for specific festivals and parties held around the region, and that the people I've met and/or hung out with are quite tame in comparison*.
Concerning my own child, I'm of two minds. If she eventually wants to dress in black and wear weird jewelry, well, she'll mostly just be emulating her aunt and her mom. If she starts hanging out with people who are No Damned Good, well, that'll be something quite different entirely.
Telling the difference is I suppose one of the most challenging aspects of being a parent. I'm so not looking forward to 13...
* Which, considering some of the folks we've seen over the years, is really saying something.
Fark linked up news of the discovery of the oldest known Semitic text found to-date. Discovered on the sarcophagus of an Egyptian king about a century ago, the entire inscription baffled Egyptologists until, in 2002, one e-mailed it to Richard Steiner, a professor of Semitic languages at Yeshiva University in New York. He discovered the reason for the inscription's inscrutability was that it was an interpolation of both Semitic and Egyptian.
It's thought that the text, which turns out to be a magic curse meant to ward off evil spirits and snakes, is perhaps 4500 years old, making it at least a century older than any other previously found Semitic texts. This puts its creation right at the time the pyramids at Giza were being constructed.
Slashdot linked up news of the development of new electronic retinal implants meant to fight degenerative retinal diseases. In humans and cats, no less. I wonder if they'll make a weird "boopity-boopity" noise when they're used?
The sad thing is, there are a lot of people out there who won't get the reference. Damned kids.
It appears at least some antidepressants cause an increase in bone fractures. As if depression weren't bad enough!
While the question was not directly asked of me, the correct answer is no, demonstrated bigotry is far from endemic in and definitely not limited to the GOP, and neocons world-wide have no particular corner on the intolerance market.
I expect the reply will be, "yes, but that's different." The problem is I'm not completely sure how.
Via LaShawn Barber.
Mark gets a silly little no-prize for bringing us the story of what Justin's dad does for a living. Joke is a little goofy but SFW.
Aviation Week's latest cover story covers a new method of enhancing high-powered microwave (HPM) weapons. The secret? Using lasers to amplify the signal, with results that boost it by a factor of 10. Then innovation, currently under development by BAE labs, promises to create practical HPM weaponry which can then be used to confuse, disable, or even destroy electronics at a useful distance.
While this collection of military and aviation humor is mostly from the "old but good" school, I still got a smile from it. It's a little... interesting, I guess, how much of this stuff also applies to civilian life.
Ron gets a no-prize that's way more trouble than it's worth for bringing us this photo journal of one man's efforts to restore 1938 Chevy business coupe. Hey, if I had that much shop space I'd be doing things like that too. Hell, maybe one day I will.
The Kangaroo Scrotum Bottle Opener comes in a variety of colours, mostly shades of grey, brown and white and is Close up of Kangaroo Scrotumpresented tastefully; gift boxed, as are all products in our Gifts Of Distinction range.
Robert William Pickton is charged with the deaths of 26 women, mostly prostitutes and drug addicts who vanished from Vancouver's impoverished Downtown Eastside neighborhood in the 1990s.
Makes you want to read more. Especially since he was a pig farmer.
Feeling down today? It appears you're not alone:
If you are feeling a little down then you can take solace in the thought that things are unlikely to get any worse.
Today, say experts, is the unhappiest day in the entire year.
Unpaid Christmas bills, nasty weather, and failed New Year's resolutions combine to make January 22 the gloomiest in the calendar.
Brought to you by the "Making Crap Up to Get a News Release Published" foundation with assistance from the "God it's a Slow News Day and I Have Four Column-inches to Fill" news network.
With this vintage chastity belt, I officially declare there is Nothing Under the Sun which is unavailable at E-bay. This is definitely one I don't want sniped, ok?
No, really, I found it washed up on the beach! Hey, man, if you're going to make off with something as valuable as a BMW motorbike, might be a good idea to make sure nobody sees you, eh? Reminds me of those looters in LA who'd look up and wave at the TV helicopters. Smile for the mug shot!
New Scientist is reporting scientists have confirmed that abnormalities in the way the brain protein amyloid is processed plays a role in Alzheimer's disease. Exactly what sort of role was unclear to me. I think the discovery confirms these abnormalities are what cause the disease, but the article seems carefully written to avoid that exact claim. Regardless, the discovery would definitely seem to point to new avenues for treatment.
Joshua gets a no-prize smashed into very scientific bits for bringing us this look at Volvo's new crash test center. Think of an upscaled atom smasher, with cars as the atoms. Oh, and it seems nearly every part of the thing is mounted on air bearings, allowing it to be reconfigured at will.
As I understand it, the auto industry shares safety research data, so things discovered here will potentially help us all, even if we don't buy a Volvo.
Wi nøt trei a høliday in Sweden this yër?
Fans of the new Battlestar Galactica, and those who enjoy blooper reels in general, should find this season 3 gag reel a hoot. As far as I can tell, there aren't any real spoilers in here (I'm pretty sure the spoiler they warn about is bogus), at least if you've followed the season so far. They all certainly seem to be having a good time, and really, who wouldn't?
Leggings made of microfiber cotton and wool, shown in violet, forest green and Milan fog gray, all of them with stirrup straps, except of course for a couple of them cut above the knee, accompanied half the looks in this poetic, polished and unexpected collection.
Probably cost $5k per pair too. Meh, what do I know? I regularly ride around in public in spandex. But stirrups?
EVERYONE PANIC! BUY LOTS OF TOILET PAPER AND MILK!!
Yes, the people here are really that stupid over snow. There were 8 accidents yesterday afternoon when the flurries started on a main road we drove down coming home. One was even an overturned car.
Idiots I tell ya!
I got inked again today! Hopefully this whole piece will be complete before June. It will be a mirror image on both sides.
An escaped chimpanzee at the Little Rock Zoo raided a kitchen cupboard and did a little cleaning with a toilet brush before sedatives knocked her out on top of a refrigerator.HEE!
The 120-pound primate, Judy, escaped yesterday into a service area when a zookeeper opened a door to her sleeping quarters, unaware the animal was still inside.
As keepers tried to woo Judy back into her cage, she rummaged through a refrigerator where chimp snacks are stored. She opened kitchen cupboards, pulled out juice and soft drinks and took a swig from bottles she managed to open.
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Sen. Hillary Clinton jumped into the fray as a 2008 presidential candidate with the words "I'm in" posted on her Web site.
"And I'm in to win," she added in a statement, announcing she has set up an exploratory committee that can gauge opinions and raise money for a presidential campaign.
Clinton's announcement comes on the same day that the next president will be inaugurated two years down the road: January 20, 2009.
Entire article can be found here
The woman behind Leonardo da Vinci's Mona Lisa painting may be buried near a now derelict building in the heart of Florence, according to archival documents.Read entire article here
The exact location of Mona Lisa's burial site, the convent of Sant'Orsola, was just a about 900 feet away from the house of the artist's father, according to the historian, Giuseppe Pallanti.
Denny Doherty, one-quarter of the 1960s folk-rock group the Mamas and the Papas, known for their soaring harmony on hits like "California Dreamin'" and "Monday, Monday," died Friday at 66.
His sister Frances Arnold said the singer-songwriter died at his home in Mississauga, a city just west of Toronto, after a short illness. He had suffered kidney problems following surgery last month and had been put on dialysis, Arnold said.
Read entire article here
"You got a snake on your head! A snake on your head!!
Err... I guess you have to be me and Amber to get this...
Prices go up, demand goes down, supply goes up, prices go down:
Mild winter weather has something to do with it. So does heavy selling by financial funds. But a largely overlooked factor in the recent plunge in oil prices may portend an end to the multiyear rise in crude: For the first time in years, the developed world is burning less of it.
Other signals, both economic and psychological, have been popping up for some time: Demand for gas-guzzling sport-utility vehicles has been falling, while investment in and sales of alternative fuels such as ethanol are booming. Even the Bush administration is vowing to reduce America's dependence on crude.
Sometimes I'm so smart I scare myself:
OPEC seems to have forgotten the lesson it was taught in the late 70s and early 80s: the US may piss and moan about high oil prices, but if they stay high enough long enough we will change our consumption habits, and that will have a profound, very long term effect on oil prices.
Yeah, put that in your "government is the answer" pipe and smoke it.
Ever wonder what baseball-sized hail looks like falling from the sky? Wonder no more. Looks like the other end of a batting range for the world's largest little league practice to me.
While this parenting.com article on how to react to the annoying things children say is long on the "you must be calm... passive" Yoda-style of parenting and short on the "we must end this destructive conflict!" dark side we all sometimes engage in, I still found it interesting enough to read all the way through. Olivia has (so far) proven remarkably compliant when a timeout is even mentioned by me, and responds pretty well to Ellen's countdown technique. We have noticed, however, that she's much more unruly when we're both around than she is when she's just with one of us. The little monster is so clever this is actually the only way we can tell when she's playing us off each other.
I'm so not looking forward to 13.
Seems that diamonds come in every damned color available, even black. Of course, since black diamonds seem to be made by supernova explosions, I personally think they're way cooler than the other kinds. My wife, the Queen of Bling, may disagree. Then again, she may not, and now suddenly has a new gem on her acquisition list.
Sometimes I'm my own worst enemy.
Slashdot linked up news of a robotic sniper detector. By combining technologies from sources as diverse as hearing aides and video games, an entrepreneur has created a robot able to identify the direction, location, and type of weapon fired, just by the sound it makes.
Actually, now that I think about it, all the couples we know tend to have a certain "competitiveness" problem. I'm not sure if that says something about us, or them. Probably both, especially when all the female halves start denying they're competitive.
Just because a guy likes a little sci-fi doesn't mean he's a skinny geek. Part of me takes a great deal of pleasure in a little get-back by a few fen. Another part of me is cringing at something that looks like the start of a COPS episode.
Something tells me though that particular band of goth wannabes will be keeping their mouths shut next time they walk past a movie line.
Contains lots of NSFW language, but otherwise as previously noted nothing you wouldn't see on Fox, Saturday at 8 pm (EST).
Actually, I'm surprised it's taken this long for a politician to reference Star Trek on the floor of the house. Now that I think about it, I kinda doubt it's the first time...
Slashdot linked up news that a flat-out cure for everyone's latest scary disease, bird flu, may have been discovered. Discovered, it should be added, in what would seem to be the most unlikely of places: the gut of an Icelandic cod.
Of course, it remains to be seen whether or not this research is confirmed. The snake-oil-like additional claims to the efficacy of the enzyme penzin for other maladies makes me suspicious. Still, if it manages to take another bell away from the twirling Chicken Littles in their bellfries, I'll call it a good thing.
Remember when I said last week that the whole "bugged coin" episode might be an elaborate hoax (you don't? you should visit more often)? Looks like I was right. And since when is Canadian coinage called "loonies"?
Turns out that reconstructed 1918 flu virus is actually useful. Although news that they're infecting monkeys with it just to see what it does is a bit worrisome. Then again, Ellen used to work at a place with high-level quarantine studies, and they all took that stuff very seriously.
A few years back we linked up the remarkable story of the Lake Peigneur disaster, wherein a careless drilling operation allowed an entire lake to drain out through a salt mine. Now we can show you some video of this amazing event. "Cool" only because, miraculously, nobody got hurt.
World standard time should be based on Mecca and not Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) because:
BBCnews is carrying this report detailing the discovery of what could become the largest and brightest comet in the solar system. Don't hold your breath though, as it looks like the football-shaped 2003 EL61 won't be wobbling inward until perhaps 2 million years from now.
Instapundit linked up this insightful assessment of Iraq as well as this video report by intrepid blogger/journalists from Hot Air. From these reports, it seems it's much worse than it should be, but far better than we've been lead to believe.
Nice to know DC-area drivers aren't the only ones utterly helpless in ice and snow. Be sure not to miss the video!
While 90% of this bit of YouTube fluff is a silly chase scene, for me it's worth it just for the first twenty seconds. Living in this area means we actually know people who work for the IRS, and the image of one of them whipping out a .44 magnum just gives me severe giggles. I need to get out more.
I should, however, point out that our IRS-ers have better haircuts.
Spaceflightnow is celebrating the second anniversary of the Huygens probe landing with this nice summary of what's been discovered about the enigmatic moon since. I still think slaloming across a lake of methane would be interesting. At least there nobody'd be showing up in a speedo!
One of the tasks of potty training is association. By reminding Olivia that everyone uses the potty, the hope is she's more likely to use it herself.
Yesterday, while getting dressed for a zoo outing during Daddy Day:
Me: "Olivia, where does daddy do poo-poo?"
Olivia, in a bright, cheerful tone: "On the potty!"
Me: "Where does mommy do poo-poo?"
Olivia, slightly muffled by the shirt she's pulling over her head, "On the potty!"
Me: "Where do the cats do poo-poo?"
Olivia, with a suddenly serious face: "On the floor."
Well, yes, there is that...
Personally, I can't think of a more perfect article for our Weird & F'd up section than this extensive look at "TIs", people completely convinced they're victims of government-sponsored mind control. As with most people with very very esoteric interests, the internet is finally allowing them to find each other and organize in a way that brings more attention to their cause. While long, the article is still quite good. The descriptions of the victims' experiences are particularly compelling.
Don't get me wrong, I still think they're loons. But if finding someone who believes as whole-heartedly as you do that The Government is beaming messages into your head is what keeps you from eating a bullet or a whole bottle of pills in one sitting, I don't necessarily think it's all bad. As long as you stay out of trouble, pay your taxes, and keep off my lawn, you can believe in any damned fool thing you want. Just like the rest of us.
Except for me. I know the only reasonable choice of vehicle is an Alfa Romeo. The reason the rest of you don't own one is because you're all on the government's payroll.
Hey! Quit throwing rocks! I'm out here on the street, haven't set foot in your lawn!
While the basic assertion that predators are always smaller than prey because they can't be bigger than what they eat seems pretty obvious on the face of it, the creation of a formula for predicting just how big a predator can get seems quite novel. Still, the evidence seems to back up the assertion that, due to the risks and energy expenditure involved, mammalian predators simply can't get bigger than about 2200 lbs. The dinosaurs may have had a similar limitation, perhaps providing insight into how their metabolisms worked.
Making the rounds: a woman recently died attempting to win a Nintendo Wii during a radio promotion. The cause? Water poisoning. Seems the trick was to see who went to the bathroom last. To make sure people finished in a radio-friendly time span, they were given increasingly large bottles of water to drink. Can you say, "massive liability lawsuit?" I knew you could.
While a bit rah-rah in tone, this NRO article on the F-35 Lightning II still provides a decent snapshot of where the program is right now. Aviation Week crib notes:
People weren't sure Lockheed would be able to pull off the lift fan design, but they did. I have a feeling they'll overcome these obstacles as well, putting us (at the end) two full generations ahead of any potential competitor. Take that, Mr. Mujji!
You know you have stupid clients when:
"*Insert hospital name here*, This is Ellen, how can I help you?"
"Hi! Are you guys open today?"
Here's your sign.
Ron gets a no-prize that'll make Beavis and Butthead giggle themselves into a stupor over for bringing us the sad story of the "butt-printing" art teacher. I don't think I'd have a problem with his art projects, but a video of him producing same circulating on the internet would most likely make it impossible for him to teach. People always seem to take it that one step too far.
Joshua gets a no-prize packed in a slow-release mechanism for bringing us this demonstration of thermite. Especially instructive was its ability to burn clean through a car engine. Who knew?
Mark gets a gigantic, antique no-prize for bringing us this YouTube clip of an Me 323 cargo aircraft in action. The 323 was Germany's attempt to salvage a useful aircraft from the monstrous 321 glider program, which had turned into something of a debacle once the invasion of England was called off. More info on the 323 is here...
Instapundit linked up this quick look at the "sex tech" featured at the Adult Entertainment Expo at Las Vegas. Somehow I just wasn't surprised that a Japanese company came up with something called "Virtual-hole and Virtual-stick".
Olivia, stomping into the kitchen after we'd all come home from work/school yesterday afternoon: "Mommy! I want a juice box! Now!"
Me: "Olivia! You do not talk to mommy that way. Say it nicely."
Olivia: "Mommy! I want a juice box! Now! Nicely!"
After a few more... elaborations... on what nicely actually meant, she got her juice box.
Funny, but the same line said to Ellen from me later was quite ineffective when I wanted a beer from the fridge.
Italian scientists have created a new reconstruction of the face of Renaissance poet Dante. The result? Apparently he looks pretty much like any other regular guy. With a big nose. They based their reconstruction from detailed notes and a cast made when the skull was examined in the 1920s.
Personally, I think it would be fascinating to find out what any of these famous European figures looked like. Kings, queens, and other famous people from perhaps the early 9th century on have undisturbed graves scattered all through Europe. Maybe when MRI or some similar technology becomes powerful enough and mobile enough, we'll get a look inside some of these tombs.
Or not. I'm pretty iconoclastic about respecting the remains of someone who's been dead for centuries, but other people can (do) disagree. It's not like they're going anywhere... eventually when a tech is developed that'll do the job discreetly I can't imagine not taking a peek.
While the accompanying text didn't make a helluva lot of sense to me, the pictures of the trees are still quite remarkable. This site presents a much more comprehension-friendly account of the trees and their ultimate fate.
Space.com is reporting the MRO has found the Mars Pathfinder probe, and may also have imaged the breadbox-sized rover Sojourner as well. NASA lost contact with Pathfinder (and, since Pathfinder was required to transmit Sojourner's signals, the rover was lost as well) after three months of operation in 1997. Imaging suggests Sojourner traveled back to its Pathfinder base in an attempt to contact it.
For some reason I'm reminded of a dog trying to wake its dead master, all alone in the desert. Geeze, when did I get so sappy?
Carrie gets a weirdly attractive no-prize for bringing us an alternative look at the Simpsons. Turns out Marge actually is hot.
For some reason they are into hair. No Really!
Yes, Mark, that is a quarter. For comparison see this time last year.
Not sure how we missed it, but almost exactly one year ago it was announced that Sam Raimi has signed onto a project developing Terry Pratchett's The Wee Free Men into a movie. Look at it this way: we're one year closer to actually seeing it!
Latest theory about the disappearance of the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter? It's not a bug, it's a feature. Oh well, it'd been there for 10 years, I suppose it'd fully depreciated. Or something like that.
Hopefully it wasn't another conversion mistake.
Looks like one of Om's cousins isn't as extinct as previously thought. Well, extinct in Thailand, at any rate.
Our own chelonid is doing fine, still in his best, "if I had arms I'd throw rocks at you to get you off my lawn" miniature-old-man mode, and growing like a shell-encased weed. Maybe we can get Ellen to post some pictures soon...
While the first part of this BigWig entry may be a little dense, the second part, wherein he describes the usefulness of calling global warming "The Rapture for secular humanists" in separating wheat from chaff, is damned amusing. And true. Every time someone pitches a hissy about global warming I nod and say, "wow, yeah, that sounds pretty bad. How long is it going to take to happen?" For years the answer (decades if not centuries) had me nodding my head and casting about for a tighter fitting foil hat.
Of course, nowadays we have all sorts of new and improved forecasts of, well, rapturous destruction which could take place in a far more news-cycle-friendly few years or even days. Which would be worrying, if their initial science hadn't been so horribly bad.
Which is not to say I don't completely disagree with all of the global warming Chicken Littles' agenda. Far from it. "Green" power sources help stop carbon getting in the atmosphere, a plus for them, while also denying Islamic wackamoles and friendly
communist Stalinist Maoist socialist Latin neighbors the money they need to make trouble, a big plus for me.
Of course, since we all know what the ultimate agenda of most hard-line greens really is, you won't see me showing up at any of their rallies any time soon. Call it an arms-length friendship. "The enemy of my enemy," that sort of thing.
I wonder if that marks me down for a high-quality beer?
Carrie gets a weirdly spooky no-prize for bringing us news of the discovery of a cache of ancient Andes Indian mummies. While the "featured mummy" certainly looks scared, such interpretations can be misleading. More likely is the coincidence of burial position (fetal-position burials are quite common around the world) and post-burial movement of the mummy itself.
Nevertheless, it is damned creepy.
Hey, anyone who claims to represent "Beings from many parts of the universe that are connected to the planet Nibiru." can't be all bad, can they? I tried to read some of their articles, but then my head 'asploded. Reily Martin, eat your heart out.
Via Mondo Skepto.
Fresh & spicy from this week's CES show: a 108" LCD television. The post gets extra points for the smarmy gen-x reporter trying to sound superior while wiping the drool off his chin. Hey bud, you ever heard of the term "corporate use"?
Yvonne De Carlo, the beautiful star who played Moses' wife in "The Ten Commandments" but achieved her greatest popularity on TV's "The Munsters," has died. She was 84.
De Carlo died of natural causes Monday at the Motion Picture & Television facility in suburban Los Angeles, longtime friend and television producer Kevin Burns said Wednesday.
Read entire article here.
Coin collectors in the peanut gallery may need to stock up on foil hats. It seems the Canadian government may be bugging their own money. The whole thing is so strange I suspect it just might be an elaborate hoax. Still, stranger things have happened. I think.
Mark gets his second no-prize of the day for letting us know this afternoon may be a great time to see a comet. Yeah, it's just a general link, so tomorrow it'll probably say something else. Take our word for it, this afternoon after sunset go look in the western sky. It may even be visible to the naked eye.
ABCnews.com is carrying this article briefly describing one of the rarest forms of dwarfism found in humans: primordial. Primordial dwarfs are very tiny, but otherwise normally proportioned.
We saw a Discovery Health documentary on these folks (I think both the people in the article were in the film), and they're quite astonishing. Very very small people with distinctive faces and pixie voices, but otherwise quite normal. As you'd expect from this sort of genetic defect, they're subject to all sorts of fatally nasty health problems, and very few to date have survived to adulthood.
It's sometimes easy to forget just how many things have been tested on everyone's favorite practical science show, Mythbusters. That is, at least until you see the complete list of all their results. I'd actually got the one about "talking to plants" wrong. I thought it was busted, but turns out the plants seemed to like loud death metal best of all.
Mark gets a silly little no-prize for bringing us a new twist on a classic sort of mime performance. I've seen things like this since I was a little kid, but they still make me smile every time I see one. Especially one as well done as this.
Slashdot linked up news that one research study has concluded waist size seems to be a constant factor in the perceived beauty of a woman. Unlike overall body size, this does not appear to have changed over time and seems to be consistent cross-culturally.
Nina gets a well-documented no-prize for bringing us news that Britain's National Archives has released digitized versions of thousands of passenger ship manifests. For now the set covers 1890 - 1900, but the plan is to make all these records available up to 1960. If you know the name of the great-great-grandparent who came over on a ship, you might be able to find it here.
I always wondered why, if the Earth were so damned bright on certain radio frequencies, why we didn't listen to those frequencies when searching for ET. Eventually I found out it was because the telescopes of the time couldn't tell terrestrial signals from extra-terrestrial ones. Now that appears to have changed.
I wonder if an alien species would be embarrassed that the first we found out about it was by picking up its re-runs of I Love LU-324'ingy?
The recuperation of places and buildings that were once mosques or sacred Islamic sites is the primary method employed by Muslims to reconquer Al-Ándalus. So-called moderate Muslims are oftentimes more effective than extremists in gaining concessions because of their attempts to portray Western democracies as intolerant if those countries don’t cede to certain demands. This technique has been used repeatedly in the case of the Córdoba Cathedral.
Oriana Fallaci encountered something similar many years ago, and her reaction was instructive:
As to the sons of Allah that urinated on the Baptistery and defecated in San Salvatore al Vescovo, [the Italian Minister of the Foreign Affairs] quickly gave in to their demands. (The results as I have ascertained them are that the fathers and the mothers and the brothers and the sisters and uncles and aunts and cousins and pregnant sister-in-laws now live where they wanted to live). That is in Florence and other European cities. Therefore I changed my methods. I telephoned a likable policeman that is in charge of the office of internal security and I told him: “Dear officer, I am not a politician. When I say I will do something, I do it. Further, I am acquainted with war and I am knowledgeable of certain things. If by tomorrow the fucking tent is not down, I will burn it. I swear on my honor that I will burn it, not even a regiment of cops would be able to stop me, and for this I want to be arrested. Brought to jail in handcuffs. This will ensure that I end up on the front page of all the papers”. Well, being more intelligent than all the others, in a few hours he had the tent taken down...
And if that doesn't remind you of a certain co-author of this website well, you're just not paying attention.
Aviation Week's latest cover story details the F-22 Raptor's first operational deployment. Turns out the thing is a lot more than "just" a cold war relic. From this article and the others that were in the print issue, it's nearly a single-seat mini-AWACS. And they haven't even started using the radar as a weapon. Once that happens it's possible they'll be able to fry electronics from high altitude.
Welcome to the offices of God, Inc. The porcupottamous designer instantly reminded me of a certain someone...
A professor who was denied tenure at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology has vowed to start a hunger strike on February 5 outside the provost’s office.
“I will either see the provost resign and my hard-earned tenure granted at MIT, or I will die defiantly right outside his office,” James L. Sherley, who teaches biological engineering, wrote in a letter to colleagues that he provided to Inside Higher Ed. While not commenting directly on Sherley’s claims, MIT issued a statement that he has been treated fairly.
The article seems to imply (correctly, IMO) that perhaps Dr. Sherley's stance on fetal stem cell research influenced the department's decision to deny him tenure. Tenure proceedings at all universities are famous for their Machiavellian politics in selection. Considering that, once granted, the person chosen for tenure is by definition going to be there for life, it does not seem completely unreasonable to me that the personality and views of a candidate are a real (if unacknowledged) consideration.
The fact that the guy is playing the race card and resorting to a stunt like this also implies that, in my opinion, he's an utterly unreasonable loon. I hope that MIT takes steps to ensure everyone's safety. My alma-mater U of Ark had a professor murdered by a rejected PhD candidate.
Jeff gets a fine howdy-do no-prize for bringing us this collection of Bill Dance's fishing show bloopers. Some I'd seen before, some I hadn't, but they were all funny. The one with the snake is priceless.
Intrepid blogger/journalist Michael Yon is back in Iraq, this time hoping to embed with the US military for all of 2007. A must-read for those who'd like a view different from that of the stringers who bring the MSM-types hiding out in the Green Zone their daily dose.
Arnold Kling: It's actually 90% of Americans who lack health insurance. All depends on what you mean by "insurance", donchaknow? While his arguments about allowing market forces a freer reign in the health care space are quite well-reasoned, to me he still avoids what I consider the ultimate uncomfortable truth about such an approach: if I can't afford the latest Widgetmaster 3000, I don't buy it, making due with my widgetmaster 200 instead. If I can't afford the latest heart medication, I freaking die.
Now, I imagine Mr. Kling has very good arguments to make about the effectiveness of the latest meds versus their cost. He makes several in the article. But in my opinion it's the perception that the latest and greatest is what might just keep us alive that drives a lot of the demand for "premium" health services. When the consequence of not being able to afford something is death, it seems to me the market gets warped all out of shape, and I've yet to read an economist who has addressed this (to me) central point adequately.
I'm pretty sure we linked up a previous version of the Japanese being clever with a cat and some packing tape, but it still gives me a chuckle to watch. Ajax is that laid back, but he'd still most likely run away after the first time you taped him up. With any of the others, you'd most likely not get your hand back the second time.
Again kudos to Wikipedia's featured article page, without which I would never have known about Operation Auca, an effort by early-50s protestant evangelists to convert a primitive Ecuadoran tribe which ended in tragedy. Think what you will about zealots twirling around in a light plane with a megaphone, they didn't do anything to deserve getting spitted like fish.
Also note the anthropological view that the operation and subsequent conversion of the tribe is seen as a negative because it "diluted" their culture. Emphasizing that killing your fellow tribesmen at every opportunity and marrying your cousins is, well, bad, will do that every time, donchaknow?
The inventor of my wife's (and I think many others) staple college food has died at the ripe age of 96. He only retired last year! May the Top Ramen he finds in heaven be as tasty and cheap as it is on Earth.
Two NASA space probes that visited Mars 30 years ago may have found alien microbes on the Red Planet and inadvertently killed them, a scientist is theorizing.
The Viking space probes of 1976-77 were looking for the wrong kind of life, so they didn't recognize it, a geology professor at Washington State University said.
NASA's sending a new probe to Mars later this year, and they've already expressed interest in trying to test the predictions this guy is making about what Martian life actually looks like. Of course, since the probe is already built, they'll have to figure out a way using existing tools. Something to keep an eye on, if nothing else.
Everyone's favorite loony outpost on the sea is now for sale. I've followed Sealand on and off ever since I learned about the remarkable little "fort that could" a few years ago. A lot of noise has been made about it being the perfect data haven, but that appears to have gone nowhere.
Anyone got a few hundred million to spare?
I'd dearly love to know how they got this shot. If I look hard enough, I imagine I will. Yet somehow, I really don't want to know. There's not enough magic in the world.
Ellen and I both find it powerful, for the same, and also different, reasons. Only a few of them are obvious.
Via Ashes and Snow.
A very smelly NO-PRIZE! to Rich for sending us this!
Our vampire hunting loons are still alive and well,
amusing disciplining yet another cheeky site which really could care less about their feud.
Those of you too new to remember our own encounter with loopy British vampire hunters (no, really!) should start out with The Vampire Hunters and Me, move on to The Chronicles Continue, then peruse Our Favorite Bishop, and for the (definitive, wait for it) final word, As Long as You Spell the Name Right.
I say definitive because we have long since washed our hands of the entire affair, and anyone directly associated with the two warring parties who comment here will have said comments summarily deleted.
Now if you'll pardon me, Olivia apparently locked herself and Ellen out of the Cruiser standing outside a rather amusing, but quite favorite, retail establishment, and the old tired spider must now go rescue them.
My mom making a "why do you have to keep bringing this up?!?" comment in 3... 2... 1...
One of the bigger hurdles to practical fusion power is that current configurations generate a lot of nasty radiation that (as I understand it) literally eats away at the containment chambers of the reactors. As we all know, super-hot plasma getting loose is, well, bad, so research continues. Now, it would appear, someone claims to have figured out a new way that eliminates the radiation problem entirely.
Fusion is the archetypical "should be here in 25 years" technology. It'd be neat if 25 years collapsed to just 5. I wonder if this is the same Bussard who came up with the Bussard ramjet concept?
Instapundit linked up this V.D. Hanson piece that puts a great deal of historic perspective on the supposed "problems" and proposed "solutions" various arm-chair pundits are gabbing about in regard to the Iraq war. Read the whole thing.
God bless Wikipedia, without which I would never have known of all the many and elaborate interpretations of that unlikeliest of hits, Don McLean's American Pie. A very few of the analogies I already knew about, but a great many I did not (never knew it actually referred to Altamont, for example). Oh be quiet. Trivia is fun!
WHAT?!? ARKANSAS LOST THAT WEEKEND TOO!
Once again, a perfect example WHY Olivia cannot be left alone with Scott.
So what really did cause the Maya to collapse? This group of scientists think it was the weather. By using a new technique to determine monsoon cycles over the past 16,000 years, scientists have found remarkable agreement between dates when monsoon rains were very poor and the decline and eventual collapse of two great prehistoric civilizations... the Maya and the Chinese Tang dynasty. As I recall, there actually are pretty good archaeological records which address climate change in these areas at these times. It'll be interesting to find out if they agree as well.
Slashdot linked up the first images confirming the existence of liquid methane lakes on Saturn's moon Titan. Bet it'd be interesting to water ski on that.
Energy independence for America has always seemed something of a pipe dream to me, but if this article about developments in hybrid car technology and biodiesel science is accurate, it's a lot closer than I ever thought. That's ultimately a Good Thing, because the reason the Middle East is causing so damned much trouble is because we keep handing them bushels of money with which to do so. It would cheer my heart something fierce to hear about Saudi Arabia going bankrupt.
Fark linked up the latest from everyone's favorite manic squirrel Foamy, and it's a real winner. If you don't already know, Foamy's a little... earthy... in his language, so use headphones if you're at work.
Ellen had fun crawling around in the steaming Murphreesboro muck even when she didn't find anything. I have no idea how she would've acted if this had happened. Next time we make it out there Olivia will be more than old enough to be an enthusiastic participant. Me, I think I'll watch from the grass.
Mama always told me not to set a reserve price. Local coin geek Mark always insisted there were people far nuttier than he was. We just kept giving him more beer until he got quiet again.
And by the looks of this Wikipedia entry, the coins are very well-known and documented. Still, there are a whole lot of other things I can think of to spend $5 million on. I mean, there's all those pre-war Alfas out there, an obvious choice for essentially everyone else!
Hey, thanks for the beer, man. And quit trying to make me go sit next to Mark.
How we missed Tivo-ing it I don't understand, but at any rate it appears the remarkable conjoined twin duo Abby and Brittany Hensel had a new documentary made about them, covering events surrounding their 16th birthday. All is not lost, however, with this YouTube 8-minute excerpt from the end of the film and this shorter segment from perhaps somewhere in the middle. From all appearances they seem to be doing extremely well, and (if I'm understanding the dates correctly) only a year away from graduating high school. This is actually very good news, as the previous documentary covered some high-stakes surgeries and ended on a somewhat dark note.
Now that I know it's out there, I'll make sure we catch the whole thing next time around.
I don't know, man, personally I think damming yourself to hell should be worth more than a YouTube video and a DVD. Then again, being one of those people who believe in "the stuff spiritual", I probably would. Others, maybe not so much.
But hell, you'd think they'd at least send you a T-shirt or something.
Joshua gets a no-prize that's a crack spider's bitch for bringing us this extremely scientific experiment on the effects of drugs and alcohol on spiders. You think you've seen this, but you haven't.
More details are emerging about Alfa's new racing efforts. As I expected, they're going to try for the big endurance races, which includes the 24 hours of Daytona. Definitely something to watch out for.
Nina gets a no-prize being followed by black helicopters for bringing us news of a UFO sighting over Chicago's O'Hare airport. The FAA says it's all just weather. Others, of course, disagree. The quote at the end of the story is priceless.
This just in: Hitler was a self-hating Jew who helped found the state of Israel. Brought to you, of course, from the edifying insights of a close adviser to everyone's favorite loopy Persian, the president of Iran.
Note to self: when attempting to scare people, make sure they're out of range. There's a reason you have to follow a designated path at a carnival haunted house, and it's not for your protection.
Slashdot linked up news that the script for the fourth installment of the Indiana Jones series is now complete. They're apparently all set to begin filming some time in 2007, with a target release of 2008. Lucas's revival of the Star Wars franchise was, to me anyway, a disappointment. I can only hope that as part of a team he does a better job. Olivia will be (good God) right at 5 at that point, so there's even an outside possibility she'll get to see this one in the theater.
Hopefully she'll be old enough not to shout out, "look mama! It's cornbread!" when the snakes come on the screen.
Space.com is carrying this summary of planned activities for the two Mars rovers now that the Martian winter has ended. In short, it appears Opportunity will be sent to the bottom of Victoria crater, where it's been prowling the rim for some time. Spirit will return to "home plate", a previously explored region which turned out to have many more interesting targets revealed when the MRO used its hi-resolution camera to image the area.
Shutterbugs in the peanut gallery with an interest in underwater photography should find this collection of "life beneath the waves" photos interesting. There were a couple of critters I had to look twice at just to make sure which way they were pointing.
And in the, "what-happens-when-computer-lab-people-pull-a-night-shift" department, we have this extremely detailed and apparently completely serious essay on the injuries of Darth Vader. I found it interesting in spite of myself, but I only hide my nerd merit badge with difficulty. Others, probably not so much.
This is what happens at my house on New Years. Scary huh?
Who needs to watch the post New Year shows when you got your own rock star!
You can also make grown men wear Disney characters around their neck!