August 31, 2007
Nerds with Birds!!

It is even named Anakin!


Posted by Ellen at 09:07 PM | Comments (0)
Transfer Sequence

Scientists have discovered that bacterial parasites can deposit their genome into the genome of their host species. The presence of this sort of, well, I'm not even sure it's an attack, but at any rate this sort of thing is quite likely to be much more widespread than what's been discovered so far. All those samples geneticists have been tossing away as contaminated may in fact represent a part of the animal's genetic makeup.

Just when you thought biology couldn't get any weirder...

Posted by scott at 02:27 PM | Comments (2)
They're Baaack

Long-time readers will remember our various run-ins with Mr's Manchester & co*. Long gone from here (and, nothing personal, booted over the horizon should they return), they are far from inactive. According to later entries, Mr. Lucard eventually got his LJ account back, I think Manchester got excommunicated, and apparently Manchester is still badgering him to this very day.

The weirdest part for us is the owner of this weblog now lives with a friend of Joshua's, which means there's a very good chance I'll get to meet a fellow victim of the Right Rv'd Sean Manchester, Superior General for Ordo Sancti Graal, Founder of the Sacerdotal Society of the Precious Blood, Primate/Bishop (with dignity of Archbishop) for Ecclesia Apostolica Jesu Christi (an autocephalous Old Catholic jurisdiction).

It's a damned small world, I tell ya!

Joshua gets a no-prize that rants entertainingly about ancient obsessions for bringing this whole weird coincidence to our attention.

* If not, a perusal of a few archive articles should catch you up . He eventually caused us to change host providers, and harassed the new provider to the point they put a /dev/null filter on his e-mail address.

Posted by scott at 12:56 PM | Comments (1)
The More You Know...

It would seem there's a FAQ on public restroom sex. Who knew? If this stuff is for real, it would seem the Gentleman from Idaho was doing much more than "widening" his stance.

Posted by scott at 11:36 AM | Comments (2)
It Was Pretty Much My Reaction Too

I don't remember the first time I saw the infamous "Goatse" image, but I wish I could forget the thing. I bet these people do too. If you don't know what it is, well, trust me, you just don't. The slide show includes one very abstract representation of it, and really that's as close as you ever want to get. Other than that one cartoonish drawing, that's only vaguely recognizable, the site is SFW.

Posted by scott at 10:45 AM | Comments (0)
Caturday the XVI


And so we shall! Onward, brave reader, for yet another AMCGLTD Caturday installment!
























Posted by scott at 08:29 AM | Comments (4)
August 30, 2007
Human Slinky

This is pretty darn neat.

Posted by Ellen at 08:01 PM | Comments (0)
Oh. My. God.

Christian rock cover of Sir Mixalot's Baby Got Back, anyone? It's so good it makes my teeth ache.

Sad thing is there's more than one member of the peanut gallery who, in past times, would've really dug this.

I got a feeling we might've linked it before, but could find no evidence. If it's a repeat, it's most likely an old one.

Posted by scott at 03:18 PM | Comments (1)
Anatomy Lesson

The Small Wars Journal is carrying this in-depth piece analyzing the why's and wherefore's of the ongoing tribal revolt against Al Qaeda in Iraq. The overall tone, as with seemingly everything coming out of Iraq nowadays, is cautiously optimistic, and makes some very valid points about why conventional benchmark reports like this one aren't as upbeat as reports from people on the ground are.

Posted by scott at 02:34 PM | Comments (0)
Formation Find

Scientists believe they've solved a major problem that has been a stumbling block in planet formation theory for thirty years. Sure, they start out as small accretions and build up from there, but why don't they all get sucked into their parent star? The solution has more to do with semi trucks and interstates than you'd at first think.

Posted by scott at 01:41 PM | Comments (0)
I Got Yer Peak Oil, Right Here

What was that you said about oil production past it's peak?

"Jack" is a recently discovered undersea oil field in the Gulf of Mexico that may exceed 15 billion barrels of oil. Given that water covers 2/3 of Earth's surface, it is not unlikely that more oil reserves exist underwater than under dry land.

The resources have always been out there, the technology just wasn't around to get them out of the ground economically. Technology, as with time, marches on, and now we have a mammoth reserve waiting for taps we're now able to build. Price goes up, profits go up, incentives go up. Incentives go up, searchers go out, more is found, prices go down. Consider it the economic equivalent of the seasons.

When it's allowed to work, that is. What many of you seemed to want was prices go up, profits go up, taxes go up. What you didn't realize was what happened after stage one of that "progressive" scenario: incentives go down, searchers stay home, and nothing changes.

Say what you will about "obscene" profits and "greedy" corporations. Just do it after I use my 0% APR credit card to fill my tank at the corner gas station. The fact that most of you refuse to see the connection is enjoyment enough for me to listen.

Via Siflay.

Posted by scott at 11:44 AM | Comments (4)
Alzheimer's Breakthrough

Slashdot linked up this heartening announcement regarding Alzheimer's research:

Genetically engineered cells implanted in mice have cleared away toxic plaques associated with Alzheimer’s disease.

The animals were sickened with a human gene that caused them to develop, at an accelerated rate, the disease that robs millions of elderly people of their memories. After receiving the doctored cells, the brain-muddling plaques melted away. If this works in humans, old age could be a much happier time of life.

If it works in humans (and that's a big "if"), it would seem we've finally stumbled onto a treatment, if not a cure.

Posted by scott at 10:35 AM | Comments (1)

While I definitely don't have the skillz (or toolz) to craft an all-in-one beer brewing system, I can definitely admire the results of someone who does. Beer. Is there anything it can't do?

Posted by scott at 09:00 AM | Comments (6)
August 29, 2007
Ancient Orchid

By using pollen preserved in ancient amber and some clever genetic tests, scientists have determined that orchids evolved much earlier than previously thought.

Posted by scott at 03:03 PM | Comments (2)
Reason to Lose Weight #453: Bearded Lady Syndrome

Introducing PCOS: yet another weird thing that can go wrong with women:

During her sophomore year of high school, Jennifer Robidoux noticed a series of strange things happening to her body. She gained 35 pounds in one year. Thick, dark hair started to sprout from her chin, cheeks and stomach, and her period stopped for six months.
Two years later, Robidoux learned she had polycystic ovary syndrome, a condition that stops regular ovulation, triggers an increase in masculinizing hormones and is a leading cause of infertility. PCOS gets its name from the small ovarian cysts commonly seen in patients. The syndrome now affects one in 15 women worldwide, according to a recent report by Australian researchers. The report predicts that as obesity rates increase, so will cases of PCOS.

Wtf? Who ordered that?

The more you know...

Posted by scott at 01:50 PM | Comments (0)
Spreading it Around

Congratulations to Boeing for winning the contract to produce the Ares I upper stage. Seems like we're one more step closer to replacing the Shuttle and (theoretically, at least) returning to the moon.

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

Rants just seem that much classier with an English accent. He's got lots more. I don't agree with all of them, but I agree with enough to make it all worthwhile.

And what is it with the sing-song delivery every Briton seems to break into anytime anyone points a camera at them? That something you all learn in... well, whatever the hell you guys call grade school over there?

Posted by scott at 11:41 AM | Comments (1)
Climate Heresies

When I say, "climate change probably isn't the big damned hairy deal everyone makes it out to be," people often dismiss me as a crackpot. Which I suppose is fine, because I am*. But when Freeman Dyson does it, well, obviously they call him a crackpot too, but he's a crackpot who understands all the math that shores up the climate models everyone's so up in arms about. In other words, cracked pots can hold water too if the crack is nowhere important. I'm damned certain his cracks are nowhere near as important as, well, his water, as it were**.

At any rate, read the whole thing, it's an intriguing counterpoint from someone who knows his stuff and doesn't care what anyone else thinks.

Via Econlog.

* Well, actually I prefer the term, "bomb thrower," but crackpot'll do in a pinch.

** And I'm definitely not above a pee pun when the mood strikes.

Posted by scott at 10:35 AM | Comments (0)
Big Rock

Gem fans in the audience may be interested to know a 7000 carat diamond may have been found in South Africa. Nobody's sure if it's for real yet, so the jury's still out. If genuine, it would be the largest gem stone ever found.

Posted by scott at 08:35 AM | Comments (0)
August 28, 2007
Oh dear....

When good parrots go bad.

Head phones on please if you are at work!

Posted by Ellen at 10:02 PM | Comments (0)
In The Making

elle Medium Web view.jpg

Believe it or not, this is a piece of artwork of me being done. This is just the sketch.

Cool huh?

Posted by Ellen at 09:20 PM | Comments (0)
Goodnight, My Angel

So, one of the things I'm famously strange for is cleaning the house with thundering music coming from the hi-fi. Hey, there's a reason I've had a component hi-fi system for 25 years now... I like my tunes!

And sometimes, when Ellen's out and about, Olivia will come downstairs after bedtime. Just me and Little Girl. She knows the rules. Before bedtime, she gets to do what she wants. After, she's a guest, and she knows it.

So down she comes this time, because I've got River of Dreams bellowing out of speakers that are a foot taller than she is. She sits next to me on the couch while I code, because she doesn't get to make the rules after bedtime. And I let her, because I'm waiting. And because we're waiting, she eventually starts to squirm, and be a clown, and holler because it's too loud.

But I'm waiting for a reason. A soft, sentimental song, which I only much later learned was a lyric for a child, was on its way. With almost eerie timing, just when Olivia was done with the loud music, the characteristic chords struck soft felt hammers from the speakers.

"Olivia! Shhh! Your song is on. Your lullaby..."

And she stopped. Absolutely still. And listened, while I wept quietly like the huge softey Ellen regularly thumps me for.

Later, while I was actually rocking her to sleep, "Daddy. The man called me an angel. He told me to close my eyes because I'm an angel."

"Yes, that's right, because you are."

"I'm sleepy daddy. Will you call me an angel?"

And who could resist that?

Good night my angel / Time to close your eyes

Posted by scott at 08:32 PM | Comments (1)
The Dirty End of the Stick

Many of you probably think all my sources only wax eloquent about progress in Iraq. Not so, not so. We can't be everywhere at once, but if progress continues in other areas, it's only a matter of time before we've been everywhere at least once.

Via Instapundit.

Posted by scott at 03:41 PM | Comments (0)
What a Shot

I guess if you try hard enough, any picture is possible. A macro pic of a hummingbird in flight. Now that, my friends, is perseverance.

Via Violins and Starships.

Posted by scott at 02:30 PM | Comments (1)
Cork Splat

This New Scientist "Space Blog" entry does a good job of explaining what went wrong with the space shuttle and what's being done to fix it. I've seen a few articles covering this before, but none had been as clear as this one. My Aviation Week subscription expired (GASP!), so I don't currently have the inside scoop like I normally do. It's been renewed, so hopefully I'll be connected again soon!

Posted by scott at 01:30 PM | Comments (2)
I Find Your Lack of Tiles Disturbing

For further proof of George Lucas's marketing genius, one need only read about the original lightsaber prop being given a ride on the next Space Shuttle mission. Like they all got nothing better to do! Let me tell you, those kids he adopted? Now that, my friend, is what's known as hitting the lottery. He's going to leave one helluva inheritance, s'all I'm saying.

Posted by scott at 12:26 PM | Comments (0)
At Least She Didn't Stumble Over "Osama" this Time

Everyone's favorite tongue-tied beauty queen is being given a chance to redeem herself. Welcome to the white-hot torch of fame sweetheart, let's hope it passes you quickly.

Posted by scott at 11:31 AM | Comments (0)
When Pets Attack

No, really, when pets attack:

A man who lived in his own “zoo” of lizards and insects was fatally bitten by a pet black widow spider — then eaten by the other creepy-crawlies.

Don't worry Grammas, Ellen's not allowed to have poisonous critters.

Posted by scott at 10:22 AM | Comments (0)
Tell Me Quando Quando Quando

Mark gets a no-prize that's not quite clean enough for bringing us this low-key car commercial. It's always the little details that trip you up in the end.

Posted by scott at 08:26 AM | Comments (0)
August 27, 2007
Weapon Banker of Choice

Those in the peanut gallery prone to imitating Chicken Little any time someone says "China" and "debt" in the same sentence (you know who you are) would do well to read and ruminate over this Skeptical Optimist essay. I came up with a very similar line of reasoning over dinner last week, but didn't write about it because we all know it's the continuing resolutions that are killing the budget. Right?

Posted by scott at 03:11 PM | Comments (4)
Physical Anthropology Trifecta Now in Play

Ron gets an ancient and mysterious no-prize for bringing us this new development in paleoanthropological research. Scientists studying a cave in Mount Carmel, Israel, have found evidence of sophisticated human behaviors which has been dated to approximately 200,000 years ago.

This is an extremely early date for such behaviors, so the findings would appear to be more ammunition for those who argue modern human behavior emerged with modern human anatomy. Until quite recently, it was thought that while modern anatomy evolved about 200,000 years ago, findings seemed to indicate modern behavior only arose about 35,000 years ago, with no good explanation for the gap. It's beginning to appear that, in this case at least, absence of evidence really wasn't evidence of absence.

Posted by scott at 02:12 PM | Comments (0)
Crash & Burn in Heels

Just keep tossing buzzwords out, Miss South Carolina. I'm sure one of them will stick. It's so interesting to see politicians in their larval form!

Posted by scott at 12:41 PM | Comments (0)
Re-Dating the Split

New fossil finds seem to indicate the hominid-chimpanzee split took place much earlier than previously thought. Two things to note: the pittance of remains that are at the center of examination. At one point our ancestors were so thin on the ground a few teeth and a broken jaw is all that's left of them.

The other is much more important: fossil evidence that seems to decisively prove there are problems with using genetics to date events in the evolution of humans at least, perhaps others as well. The 6 mya date of the chimp/human split has always been controversial with anthropologists, since conventional wisdom at the time (the early to mid 80s, as I recall) said such a major evolutionary event would've happened much earlier. However, the geneticists had science and repeatability on their side... every time the tests were run, they came out with the same number, and so the conclusion was gradually accepted.

Fossil evidence that directly refutes this cornerstone of genetic paleoanthropology is earth-shaking indeed. However, in spite of what supporters say, it will be many years indeed before this finding becomes widely accepted. A few bits of mineralized bone have indeed overturned long-held beliefs before, but they don't do it often and they never do it quickly. It may yet turn out some mistake has been made which will allow the genetics-based date to stand.

Interesting times!

Posted by scott at 11:42 AM | Comments (3)
Tivo Pilgrim's Progress

The wonders of a Slashdot link... it appears the cable companies are already proposing a work-around for the previously mentioned tuner incompatibility. It's nice to see they're responding, although it's difficult to tell if this is a serious and workable solution.

Posted by scott at 08:29 AM | Comments (0)
August 26, 2007
Does Size Matter?

Yes, for work.

Does it really matter?

Posted by Ellen at 05:36 PM | Comments (1)
Tree Sculpting

For the advanced gardener.

Cool pixes!

Posted by Ellen at 05:28 PM | Comments (0)

Happy Birthday Amber!

Posted by Ellen at 09:47 AM | Comments (2)
August 24, 2007
The Goat Is NOT Helping!


Totally safe for work!

Posted by Ellen at 09:49 PM | Comments (0)
Fugly Is...

While I definitely agree with these selections of "worlds ugliest male rock stars", what I think is even more striking is what the wives look like. Paulina Porizkova, anyone?

I guess opposites really do attract. Or money. Most likely the latter.

Posted by scott at 02:59 PM | Comments (0)
~There's a Hole in the Bucket, Dear Liza Dear Liza ~

Scientists have discovered an enormous void in the universe, more than a billion light years across. Current theories do not account for a structure like this existing, so it'll be back to the drawing boards for the astrophysicists. Again.

Hey, they gotta keep busy somehow, ya know?

Posted by scott at 02:13 PM | Comments (1)
Tha's One Purty Car

Yeah, I'm as likely to own it as I am one of those new high-zoot Alfas, but it sure is nice to look at. Maybe I'll get a scale model of each?

Posted by scott at 01:00 PM | Comments (1)

You know when the clip starts out with, "now he's gonna break something else," it's not going to end well. All things considered, I'm pretty sure I'm glad they didn't roll him over before the clip ended.

Posted by scott at 11:53 AM | Comments (0)
Caturday 15th hole, Par 5


You might be, but we're not! Enjoy!



























Posted by scott at 08:42 AM | Comments (1)
August 23, 2007
Well That's Just Great

Foiled again!

Briefly, SDV technology -- which is being aggressively deployed by Time Warner Cable and also by many other large and small systems -- requires two-way communications with the cable company servers to allow the customer to access all of the available channels. Without this capability, those channels on a cable system being managed via SDV would typically be inaccessible to the associated devices.

Since existing third-party CableCARD host devices of types including the new HD TiVo don't currently support the necessary two-way operations, users of these devices (including the new TiVo) could find themselves unable to watch or record channels of interest (the exact set of which will vary from system to system over time).

Looks like, instead of it being an actual interface issue, it's more along the lines of a pissing match between TiVo and the cable companies. Bah and humbug!

Posted by scott at 03:06 PM | Comments (0)
Big, Bigger, Biggest

Robert H. gets a no-prize that's the same size as a ball point pen for bringing us another nifty "universe to scale" model. The one I like best is the one set up on the DC Mall. Pluto is a damned long way off!

Posted by scott at 01:52 PM | Comments (1)
That's What I Think of it Too

Fat, pissed off, and naked is no way to get yourself on TV, son. I love the righteous indignation of the reporter's narrative. The nerve! Sad thing is, he'll probably end up arrested for indecent exposure.

Posted by scott at 01:02 PM | Comments (0)
Lies, Damned Lies, and Instant Messages

This has to be one of the weirdest cases of IM "love and lies" I've ever heard about. An old man makes up a teenage identity. Yeah, ok. Gets a different teen to fall for him. Happens all the time. Then it goes all pear-shaped. Be sure to stick with it to the end, there's one helluva twist before it's over.

Posted by scott at 11:41 AM | Comments (0)
Lander Go Boom

Armadillo Aerospace's entry for the Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander Challenge x-prize contest has literally crashed and burned. Apparently they were considered the walk-away winners, so now the field is both more level and interesting. Rockets R hard!

Posted by scott at 10:30 AM | Comments (1)
Lead Change

All those who counted Nintendo down and out are pleased to be sitting down and shutting up now. I hadn't completely written them off, but back in the Game Cube days it definitely looked like they were heading off into the sunset.

Last weekend we had our very first "Wii party", courtesy of AMCG regular Joshua. It actually was quite a bit of fun, and was definitely the first time I'd ever had fun with an accelerometer-equipped controller. Is it enough for us to get one? We'll see.

Posted by scott at 09:04 AM | Comments (3)
August 22, 2007
I Wonder How You Say "Horse Hockey" in France

In the "holy crap I sure didn't expect that" category, we have wild west festivals in France. Then again, why not?

Via ¡No Pasarán!

Posted by scott at 02:47 PM | Comments (3)
See the Dino. See the Dino Run. Run Dino, Run

Using new models, scientists have determined that predatory dinosaurs were pretty fast critters. The fastest, Compsognathus, was estimated to top 40 mph. Even good ol' T. Rex could scoot around at a respectable 18 mph.

Counter-model that proves they all poked around at 5 mph in 3... 2... 1...

Posted by scott at 01:55 PM | Comments (0)
'Roid Refactoring

Scientists may have discovered an entirely new type of asteroid. Two objects, (7472) Kumakiri and (10537) 1991 RY16, contain basalt, a mineral which should be abundant in the belt but isn't. If scientists can prove these objects originated from previously-known sources (such as the astronomical body Vesta), then all is well. If not, back to the drawing board yet again.

Posted by scott at 12:32 PM | Comments (1)
Fallujah Update

Instapundit linked up this interview with Lt. Col. William F. Mullen, who commands the 2nd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment (currently at Forward Operating Base Reaper on the South side of Fallujah). It provides a concise update of the goings-on in what was once considered the absolute worst place to be in Iraq. It appears that positive progress reported previously is still continuing, perhaps even accelerating.

Posted by scott at 11:22 AM | Comments (0)
Paging Pocahantas, White Courtesy Phone Please

The Washington Post today carried this in-depth look at Werowo comoco, the legendary capital city chosen by Powhatan, the Algonquian paramount chief. Powhatan made the, in hindsight, rather questionable decision to save the Jamestown settlers from starvation. If his capital city is any indication, he was about as powerful as they got in that area at that time.

Posted by scott at 10:28 AM | Comments (0)
A Law Office, for the Rest of Us

Michael Vick, we have found your lawyer. Mark gets a no-prize that'll slap him into next week for bringing us this advertisement for a very particular kind of legal help.

Posted by scott at 08:11 AM | Comments (0)
August 21, 2007
Quark Star

Some scientists are invoking an extremely exotic object to account for an observed supernova that was 100 times brighter than it should be. A substance that's denser than neutron start stuff which turns matter that touches it into more of that substance is some damned queer material, I gotta say. Of course, that's assuming it exists at all.

Posted by scott at 03:39 PM | Comments (0)
People Soup

Seems to me only the Japanese would be capable of this. Everywhere else there'd be mass hysteria, riots, and hell probably a few drownings. There everyone just crams together and giggles along. Now that's one pool of water I definitely wouldn't want to get up my nose.

Posted by scott at 02:33 PM | Comments (0)
Wait... What?

I'm sure the rest of you heard of Les Ballets Grandiva, the all-male ballet review troupe, long ago. So why didn't you tell us? Think of the no-prize you would've gotten! According to reviews, they're actually quite good, although it appears they're touring Australia at the moment.

I think we've found a western counterpart to Ellen's belly dancing men. Except these guys are, you know, good and stuff.

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

Congratulations to NASA and Endeavor for the successful conclusion of the most recent space shuttle mission. Watched this one live (they literally just touched down, so no link for you!). The HUD view was way cool! No kidding, that thing runs one scary approach. I guess you get used to it. This was also the first landing I saw which provided a higher-fidelity transmission of the shuttle's sonic boom. Made me jump in my seat! Nice to not have ol' Wolf Blitzer chattering away in the background.

Posted by scott at 12:37 PM | Comments (0)
Eat Your Heart Out

Ron gets a hungry-hungry no-prize for bringing us this new study of how many snake species respond to famine conditions. Turns out that, like many animals, they start digesting bits of themselves, up to and including heart muscle.

As a bonus, the article also includes a video link to a quick discussion of Ellen's favorite monster tortoise, the Aldabra, covering the four which currently live at the National Zoo.

Posted by scott at 11:37 AM | Comments (0)
Dead Find

After being lost for sixty-plus years, a group of airmen who crashed in the Sierra Nevada mountains seem to have been found. From the report, it appears two of the four have been recovered from their forlorn grave site. Now that the location is better understood, it would seem to only be a matter of time before the other two are found.

Posted by scott at 10:35 AM | Comments (0)
Dude, Just Let Him Scratch

Mark gets an itchy no-prize for bringing us this amusing DUI stop video. Something tells me this one ended up on hundreds of highlight reels around the country.

Posted by scott at 08:43 AM | Comments (0)
August 20, 2007
Showering With Pionus Parrots

Ok, at least he is not gaming in this video.

I laughed because I would be this dorky with the cats if they would just hop in the shower.

Posted by scott at 02:46 PM | Comments (0)
"Big Mosquito" Indeed

DDT's reputation seems to now be officially rehabilitated. My generation was the one that grew up with school books praising the environmental movement's success at banning the substance. It's been quite informative to watch that achievement's perception transform from a species-saving event to something that has directly contributed to the deaths of more children than all the environmental catastrophes in modern history combined.

And Glenn can be funny! Whodathunkit?

Posted by scott at 11:51 AM | Comments (4)
Playing with Fire

In Soviet Russia Islamic nation, weapon fires you. There's a reason why you have to be trained to use a mortar, and why they're so ineffective when Hajji uses them. If we're lucky, it got the cameraman too.

Via Countercolumn.

Posted by scott at 10:26 AM | Comments (0)
We're #3! We're #3!

Seems like we're not as hated as the world media likes to tell us. Of course, a generally favorable review of US tourists from hotel managers isn't exactly a broad sample, but I do like these trends:

In the poll, conducted in April by the online travel site Expedia's German branch, Americans were seen as the most likely to try to speak a foreign language and the most interested in sampling local food.

The Travel Channel really is useful after all!

Posted by scott at 09:43 AM | Comments (1)
... it's the Other White Meat

Naked, drunk, and stupid is no way to go through life, son.

Mark gets a no-prize that'll eat him if he gives it a chance for bringing us an abject lesson in why bears and drunks don't mix.

Posted by scott at 09:32 AM | Comments (0)
August 19, 2007

...Not just a drink!

Posted by Ellen at 09:50 PM | Comments (0)
Taking that Whole, "Body is a Temple" Thing Way Too Far

I dunno, if gospel music and some prayer is what it takes to get people off their butts and exercising, well, why not? Being unintentionally amusing and vaguely effeminate made Richard Simmons a millionaire. Why not this guy?

Posted by scott at 03:54 PM | Comments (0)
Frozen Smoke

While I've been seeing stuff about aerogels for ten or fifteen years now, it appears a variety of incremental improvements have made the stuff practical and affordable in any number of contexts. It's nice when a new material starts to live up to its promise!

Posted by scott at 03:49 PM | Comments (0)
August 18, 2007
~ They Say It's Your Birthday ~

Happy birthday Ellen!

Posted by scott at 07:42 AM | Comments (8)
August 17, 2007
Isn't That a Charming Idea

Scientists have determined long-term memory is not some sort of permanent storage, but seems instead to be a fragile construct that must be constantly maintained. The implications are that an extremely effective "memory eraser" could be created.

People aren't mice, so this might not work at all in humans. But if it does, I think it'll definitely rank right up there with nuclear power and bioengineering as a technology to be extremely careful with.

Posted by scott at 03:42 PM | Comments (1)
I Guess that's One Way to Solve the Problem

Problem: thousands of stray dogs clog the streets of your cities, some of them dangerously aggressive and prone to rabies.

Solution: MMmm... soup:

New Delhi's stray dogs lead a difficult life. But if it was up to one city councilor, they would find themselves in more hot water -- soup, to be precise.

Shipping the thousands of strays to Korea, where dog meat is widely consumed in soup, was one of the more outlandish ideas proposed at a city council meeting to deal with the problem, the Hindustan Times newspaper reported Thursday.

When a quote from a city councilman in a country half way across the globe makes it to the front page of a major news service, you know you've got a slow news day on your hands.

Posted by scott at 02:12 PM | Comments (1)
Oh Dear

Those of you who think I'm fashion impaired are pleased to be sitting down and shutting up.

Well, I guess I am still impaired, just not to the same level. Hey, just because a guy wears white socks with blue slacks... oh, nevermind.

Posted by scott at 01:09 PM | Comments (0)

Making the rounds: it appears that it may be possible for life to evolve from inorganic space dust. I'd like to know what sort of predictions their work is generating, because the base idea is pretty damned neat. Wouldn't want it all to be based on a house of cards, know-wha'I-mean?

Posted by scott at 12:08 PM | Comments (1)
Caturday XIV


Well of course! This time with much original goodness! Well, to us anyway...



















Posted by scott at 08:50 AM | Comments (2)
August 16, 2007
See Bob. See Bob Walk. See Bob... Oh My God!

I can't help but think this "world's creepiest children's book is a hoax. Kid's books for teen problems? Then again, considering how f'd up the world seems sometimes, I wonder...

Posted by scott at 03:16 PM | Comments (2)
186,000 Miles Per Second: Not Just a Good Idea, it's the Law

German scientists are claiming they've transmitted information faster than the speed of light. Yup, you guessed it, quantum tunneling strikes again. I had a feeling that, since (I think) quantum mechanics doesn't specifically forbid transmitting information this way, someone some day would figure out how, general relativity bedamned. If this holds up, and there's definitely no guarantee of that, it could change everything.

You see, one possible reason why it's so quiet out there is we're not listening to the right channels. This could lead to us turning on the radio.

Posted by scott at 02:21 PM | Comments (1)
Where Dey At?

Looks like Virginia's not going to get a full solar eclipse any time soon. Dammit. However, in '24 it looks like New York (and Ohio) will be on the list. Weirdly enough, Arkansas, which has never had a full solar eclipse in my lifetime (that I can recall), will also see the '24 event and will damned near see another in '17.

Of course, I'm sure Ellen, Olivia, or Gimpy Gramma will have given me a heart attack by then, so you all enjoy yourselves, ya hear?

Via Violins and Starships.

Posted by scott at 12:48 PM | Comments (3)
Picture How-to

While this list of things every digital photographer should explore may seem a bit basic to some, it still contains a lot of well-written tips about how to get the most out of your digital camera. Hey, all those buttons and dials actually do something! Whodathunkit?

Posted by scott at 10:06 AM | Comments (0)
Display Bang

The Japan’s National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology has developed a 3-D laser projector that only needs air to function. I'm not sure how much fun a display that creates its images by superheating tiny amounts of air will be, let alone how safe. But if they could scale it up huge it'd most likely make for some amazing fireworks. Still, they're in the early stages of development, so who knows where it might go?

Posted by scott at 09:11 AM | Comments (1)
August 15, 2007
Peeping Bird

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

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

Posted by Ellen at 08:51 PM | Comments (1)
Extra Close

Posted by Ellen at 08:40 PM | Comments (1)
A Bit of Butterfly Luck


Posted by Ellen at 08:33 PM | Comments (0)
Orange Blooms


Posted by Ellen at 08:31 PM | Comments (0)
Sittin' On a Bear

Posted by Ellen at 08:15 PM | Comments (1)
Ducks In A Row...


These are the baby ducks from the San Diego Zoo. No, they were not an exhibit, but escapees from an exhibit they did not belong to. Apparently their mom was still inside with the Flamingos and they were out peeping away. So what did yours truely from AMCG do? I tossed them back through it. Thats right. I tossed each of them like a small NERF (note I said NERF- so it was a light toss) ball through the fence.

Posted by Ellen at 08:11 PM | Comments (0)
What a Smashing Idea

A Dutch bishop has publicly called for God to be referred to as Allah during Christian services. The reaction was, to the credit of the Dutch, almost exactly what your reaction was just now. How such a complete nutball ended up in such a position of power is rather a mystery to me. Then again, most things Catholic are.

Posted by scott at 03:08 PM | Comments (3)
The Universe's Biggest Spitball?

Scientists have observed a comet-like trail a massive 13 light-years long behind the star Mira. By using the new ultra-violet telescope Galaxy Evolution Explorer (Galex), scientists were able to capture a unique image of the dying star. It's hoped that by examining the "tail" in greater, well, detail, scientists will be able to determine much more about its history.

Posted by scott at 01:32 PM | Comments (0)
Go Speed Buckeye! Go!

Ron gets a screaming-fast no-prize for bringing us an update on the Buckeye Bullet 2, a hydrogen fuel cell-powered race car meant for the Bonneville Salt Flats. The last BB, powered by batteries, broke 315 miles per hour. This one's expected to be much faster than that.

There's an Alfa Spider that runs at Bonneville most years, and from reading their reports it can be a really fun experience. Good luck to them!

Posted by scott at 12:20 PM | Comments (0)
~ Signs, Signs, Everywhere There's Signs ~

For a bit of international whimsy we have restroom door signs from around the world. The local Outback has some similar cleverness, and I never will forget the look of embarrassed puzzlement I saw on the face of an Asian lady who was trying to figure out which was the lady's. I helped her by choosing the "Gent's."

Posted by scott at 11:26 AM | Comments (1)
A Shot for Every Little Ill

Scientists have announced the creation of a DNA vaccine that seems to help those who suffer from MS. The treatment is still in the very early stages, but if it proves successful it could allow the creation of DNA vaccines to treat a variety of autoimmune related disorders.

Posted by scott at 10:35 AM | Comments (1)
Beer + Fishin' + Turtle + Gun =

Guns don't shoot people... turtles shoot people. Funny enough, this didn't happen in the south. From what I understand, there's not much else to do in the state it in which it did happen.

I'm just sayin'...

Posted by scott at 09:08 AM | Comments (5)
August 14, 2007
Soopa Squirrel

California squirrels appear to have Mr. Rattlesnake's number:

California ground squirrels have learned to intimidate rattlesnakes by heating their tails and shaking them aggressively.

We knew Cali squirrels were weird looking (they got stripes, who knew?), but we had no idea they were such bad-asses. Venom immunity to boot!

Posted by scott at 03:15 PM | Comments (0)
Yup, That's About the Size of It

It would appear cats start out very early learning important skills. Ellen and Amber will probably think this one's a scream.

Posted by scott at 02:08 PM | Comments (2)
Figuring it Out

Two different teams of scientists have announced the discovery of exactly how a certain class of antidepressants work. Unfortunately they disagree on whether or not this really means anything for humans. However, the finding does point the way toward new experiments, perhaps eventually leading to more effective treatments.

Posted by scott at 01:26 PM | Comments (0)
The Good, the Bad, and the Hopeful

If a well-known German media opponent of the Iraq war is reporting cautious optimisim, well, it better be time to start taking all these positive reports more seriously. I was so damned surprised I read the whole article. It most definitely is not a "rah-rah" report from someone co-opted by the Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy. Instead, it's a very even-handed "warts-and-all" report that still manages to be quite plainly hopeful.

The contrast with how the media's reporting in Vietnam changed as that war progressed is quite instructive. Little surprise then that nobody seems to have drawn the comparison explicitly.

Via Instapundit.

Posted by scott at 12:09 PM | Comments (3)
I Shall Call Them, Boobkies

Mark gets a buxom no-prize for bringing us the absolute latest innovation from those oh-so-clever Japanese:

Ladies, are you self-conscious about your breasts? Do you think they need to be bigger to get you attention from guys, or at least from guys like Charlie White? Well, you could have expensive and gross breast implant surgery, or you could just grab some F Cup cookies from Japan. These sure-to-be-effective cookies apparently make your breasts bigger when you eat just two a day, while most cookies will just make your ass bigger.

If it really were as simple as that, A-cups would cease to exist.

Posted by scott at 08:50 AM | Comments (1)
August 13, 2007
Stop Hosing Me!


Posted by Ellen at 09:29 PM | Comments (1)
Orange and Black on Pink


Yes! It's actually a Butterfly from Long Island!

Posted by Ellen at 09:16 PM | Comments (0)
Olivia and Vinny


Yes yes...get it over with. I have a 'cousin Vinny.

Posted by Ellen at 09:13 PM | Comments (2)
A Disease Cure, for the Rest of Us

Those out there worrying that we're creating a legion of "superbug" diseases that will eventually render all our antibiotics worthless should find this comforting:

In the 1930s, a war was on. A new treatment for bacterial infections - antibiotics - was seeking to assert its supremacy over another fledgling therapy - a bacteria-devouring virus called a bacteriophage.

Developed by Stalinist Soviet Russia, no less. While not as broad-spectrum as antibiotics, these bacteria-eating viruses can be re-tooled for each new variant. Or so they say, at any rate. Ain't science grand?

Posted by scott at 04:00 PM | Comments (3)
Gun Show Slow-Mo

Looks like high speed photography has developed some new toys lately. And what better to shoot in high-speed than guns shooting inanimate objects?

Note: This particular bit is SFW, but other parts of the site probably aren't. RRrm... so I've been told.

Posted by scott at 02:14 PM | Comments (0)
And the Quasar Goes, "Nom Nom Nom"

Scientists have discovered that at least some quasars are powered by consuming outside galaxies. Not all of them do this, but there are enough of them to be observed consistently. The early universe was a very inhospitable place!

Posted by scott at 12:35 PM | Comments (0)
Bone. It's the Other Endocrine Organ

Scientists have determined the skeletal system plays a much larger role in controlling body chemistry than was previously believed. Specifically, it has been found that the hormone that controls bone production also has a role in controlling obesity and glucose tolerance, which is a major factor in diabetes. It's hoped the findings will produce more effective treatments to combat those diseases.

Posted by scott at 11:27 AM | Comments (0)
Death: New and Improved

While everyone's playing up the cynical "make it prettier so it's more marketable" aspect of the Church of Death's change to its patron saint's image, I find the whole concept of the church rather fascinating. Not in a, "oh lord I just talked him out of a Buddha statue in the yard now what" way, but in a, "wow, what an interesting idea" way. Could this be a re-casting of LeVey's Church of Satan, filtered through the unique experiences of Catholic Mexico?

Posted by scott at 10:37 AM | Comments (0)
That's Just Tacky

Mark gets a tasteless but amusing no-prize for bringing us the latest in "Official" Hillary Clinton campaign memorabilia. If you can't make fun of politicians, who's left?

Posted by scott at 08:17 AM | Comments (0)
August 12, 2007
4 Generations

4generationsofstolzgirls Medium Web view.jpg

From the family reunion this past weekend. My grandmother, my sister, my mother, me and Olivia.

Posted by Ellen at 09:43 PM | Comments (3)
Cat Taming!

Just for the fun of it. This is how we decompresss from a very short but busy weekend. We tame the Coconut!



Back kitty! Back I say!

Posted by Ellen at 09:31 PM | Comments (0)
MMMmmmm....Sponge Bob Ice Pop


Posted by Ellen at 08:03 PM | Comments (0)
Olivia And The Life Jacket

Posted by Ellen at 07:47 PM | Comments (0)
Olivia's First Fishing Trip





Posted by Ellen at 06:54 PM | Comments (2)
Beer, Beef, and P&ssy

Everyone's favorite (now ex-) Japanese school teacher is at it again, this time describing what a Japanese work barbecue is like. I'm too old for that kind of crap, but enjoy reading stories from people who aren't.

Posted by scott at 09:15 AM | Comments (0)
x2 + y2 = Jeebus

I dunno, while this curricula of a Christian high school math department makes for some unintentionally surreal reading, I can't help but wonder. The secular schools have made a damned big mess of things, and if these kids actually learn from these courses, why not?

In my opinion, the truth is as long as you know the basics, have the discipline and motivation to apply yourself, and the tools needed to learn the hard stuff, the rest is just decoration. Meh, their kids, their money, their business.

Posted by scott at 09:00 AM | Comments (0)
Vapoware... in... SPAAACE!!!

Slashdot is reporting the announcement of the first "hotel in space." Scheduled to open for business in 2012, a three night stay is expected to cost $4 million dollars. Sure, there are most likely enough people willing to pay that much to make it profitable, but considering there is no commercial orbital vehicle in operation or even in the planning stages (to my knowledge at least), how they gonna get there?

Personally, until shown otherwise I'm placing this one on the same shelf that all the Popular Mechanics pipe dreams sit on.

Posted by scott at 08:39 AM | Comments (0)
August 10, 2007
Caturday the Thirteenth


We even managed to make our very first "dis-inspirational" poster for this run. Enjoy!






















Posted by scott at 07:45 AM | Comments (2)
August 09, 2007
So Just Who is My Uncle Anyway?

Making the rounds: Scientists have discovered evidence that Homo habilis and Homo erectus lived side-by side for perhaps as long as half a million years. If the evidence holds, it will neatly eliminate H. habilis as the earliest of our ancestors, and trigger a hunt for the "true" common ancestor, which may have lived 2-3 million years ago.

However, none of this is set in stone (as it were), and there's a chance the interpretation may be overturned. What's not widely understood is our ancient ancestors were quite rare on the savannah, and their fossils even more so. Most of these interpretations are based on extremely fragmentary and sparse evidence, sometimes (as seems to be the case here) just a few individuals represented by just teeth or jaws.

It's therefore doubtful if this find will settle any debates. However, it does seem to point the way to new avenues of research, which is always a good thing.

Posted by scott at 10:25 AM | Comments (0)
I Can Has Coloration?

Obligatory: An extremely rare male tortoise shell cat has been found in San Diego. After the required five minutes of wonder, you can go about your business.

Posted by scott at 08:32 AM | Comments (0)
August 08, 2007
And 2 Makes a Family Again


Scott's brother and sister-in-law (our family) lost both of their dogs in this past year, (wow and we lost both of our cats). At any rate, they have new members of their family! OH NOES!!! New puppeez!!!


Posted by Ellen at 10:15 PM | Comments (4)
I'm Just Sayin'

I am officially and completely fed up with the WYSIWYG (visual) web editor in Visual Studio 2005. There have been drag and drop "place the button anywhere you please" editors on the market since at least 1998. I know, I've used one of the oldest ones out there for years. And MS's latest visual web composing tool? I guess if you got a lot of formal training in CSS, the workflow might make sense, but it sure doesn't to me. All the crashes and bugs don't help much either.

I want to drag my control out and drop it on the damned page wherever I please. If I want to scoot it here, or scoot it there, I should be able to! The coding tools VS2k5 has are amazing. My coding productivity is through the roof. But their layout editor is a gigantic exercise in extreme frustration. If one part is that easy, the other has no business being that hard.

I know, I know. I'll eventually get my head around it and get over it. I'm just bitter that I'll have all this beautiful code with all these ugly interfaces sitting on top of it. I'm a better designer than this, but the tools won't let me show it.

Bah, I tell you. Bah.

Posted by scott at 04:07 PM | Comments (6)
Pointing the Wrong Way

While This new traffic cam footage of the ramps to the collapsed Minneapolis bridge isn't as spectacular as the security cam, it does graphically demonstrate how the bridge had been choked down to just 2 lanes because of construction. Fewer lanes meant fewer cars, which probably explains at least part of the (IMO) low injury and death count in the disaster.

I still can't believe less than a dozen people died in this thing.

Posted by scott at 02:46 PM | Comments (0)
That's One Helluva Pile-Up

Ron gets a no-prize no insurance adjuster in the world's gonna look at for bringing us news of the mother of all intergalactic pileups. Includes comparison of the day, "galaxies as dust bunnies."

Posted by scott at 01:32 PM | Comments (0)
I Shall Call Him, "Multi-Ape"

New Scientist is featuring a report on an intriguing fossil ape find. The creature, Hispanopithecus laietanus, seems to have been uniquely adapted for both swinging around in trees and walking on all fours. It's unclear if the ape was a dead end, or is related to one or more existing ape species.

Posted by scott at 12:39 PM | Comments (0)
When the Clock Goes, "Tock-Tick"

Those of you who think the national debt is a real and present danger to the country should find this very reassuring:

... The debt clock is now ticking backwards.

As a portion of GDP, total debt is 64.6% and dropping; publicly held debt (the more important statistic) is 36.2% and dropping. This blog is one of the few places on the web, if not the only one, where that good news is prominently displayed. Everyone else is just giving you a partial score; try googling "debt clock" and see what I mean.

Now, there was a whole bunch of people out there who gave the Clinton administration all sorts of kudos for balancing the budget and paying off the debt. With the budget on track to balance itself late next year, and the debt already being payed down, shouldn't we expect the same for the current administration? You know, the one that managed it without the largest tax increase in US history?

Dammit. I hate when heads explode in the left side of the peanut gallery. It makes such a mess.

Posted by scott at 11:35 AM | Comments (6)
What an Explosively Brilliant Idea

Cranky old men + hornets nest + gasoline = boom! I am rather surprised the nest made it through unharmed. Fireballs tend to be pretty effective against, well, against most things actually. He's lucky he only lost his eyebrows!

Posted by scott at 10:37 AM | Comments (0)
Seagull no Swiping!

Ya know, after the third or fourth bag got nicked, you'd think they'd close the door. Shoplifting seagulls. What will they think of next?

Posted by scott at 08:03 AM | Comments (1)
August 07, 2007
Welcome to MY World

There are many times when you work in an animal hospital (let alone a CATS ONLY hospital) where you simply cannot keep a straight face in front of a client.

A client perceives you as a total professional; hell we’ve had clients lift their shirts up at us asking if the lesion they have on THEM they got from the cat. They feel they can tell you secrets and you will NEVER say a word.

Well, they think you don’t say anything. What actually happens is you skip to the back room and let out a big sigh and start rattling off all the weird shit the client is doing to their cat. Half the time the staff looks at you like you’re nuts. Until they see it for themselves. We even HIDE from clients that we do not want to work with. We each have our own problem children.

Today, well today, let’s call ‘special’.

I had a client, an older lady (say, older than sixty, younger than, oh hell, hundred and twenty) with two cats she got in Greece. She obviously works for the State Department* and proceeds to tell me the ENTIRE history of these cats. All I wanted was the routine: is your cat, vomiting, has diarrhea, is coughing, sneezing, eating/drinking/peeing/pooping.. anything out of the ORDINARY!?! Most of the time you get, “why no, nothing is wrong, we’re just here for our yearly exam.” OR you get “MY CAT IS DYING!! WHY AREN’T YOU HELPING!?!” Meanwhile the cat is sitting on the table grooming itself. *I HAZ A FLAVOR*

I always ask about diet. To me it’s a super important subject… but in a Jacque Cousteau sort of way… “Izh hyour cat eating—“

“Do you know my cats like to eat lamb?” *sound of record needle being pulled out of its groove* … very short pause…

“Really? I’m sure that’s quite a treat!”

“NO, they LOVE lamb, you just don’t get it. They were Greek street cats, that’s all they ate before I took their poor souls in.”

I’m watching this woman act this scenario out in a very dramatic way in front of me. All I could think of was the movie ‘My Big, Fat, Greek Wedding’ and Windex.

“Ok, great! I’m sure they love you for it!” Does she give them mint sauce too?

Her, in that voice: “Don’t you love those lamby wambies my honey bunnies? Yes you do, yes you do!”

Then it happened. Something that has never happened before.

She Baa’d.

No really, she began to bleat like a sheep. No. Not the cat. The owner.

“BAAAA! BAAA!!! You LOVE the lammies! They so tasty! Don’t you love the lambs!? Oh god, I am in hell. Why did I end up with that woman?

And then, I don’t know, I guess the cat wasn’t responding. She actually changed the baa

Myeahh… myeahhh… myeahh… Tasty tasty lambies!!! MYEAHH!!!!!”

Please god, kill me now.

All I could do was look down at my papers and try not to crack up.

“Ok,” as professionally as I could say at the moment, “let me fill the doctor in on what’s going on and he’ll be right in.”

As I leave, she’s still sheep talking to her cats. In, like, various dialogue and stuff.

As I round the corner to the back treatment area, I have 4 other people staring at me wondering what the hell happened to me.

It’s at that point all you can do is hand the doctor the chart and hope he gets the same story.


* How do I know this? Well, put it this way: when your hospital pumps out over 15 international pet health certificates per month, most going to the same place, or they TELL you what city the Embassy they worked for is in, you know they are State Department. Oh and we mark it on the charts too. Hi! My Name is Ellen. I Work Inside the Beltway!

Posted by Ellen at 09:55 PM | Comments (5)
Long Distance Library

The recently-launched Mars Phoenix lander has some surprising cargo. My first thought was, "why didn't you strap a library of useful stuff on that thing?" Which immediately led me to, "who decides what's useful?" which just screams, "giant, unwieldy committee that takes four times as long to do half as much." They were probably better off just including the Sci-fi.


Posted by scott at 02:50 PM | Comments (1)

Microsoft has announced a $50 price cut in the X-box 360. That's for a standard box. The cheaper Core Level's price is to be cut $20.

I'm still not sure if that's enough to make me pay $400 for a single video game (Halo 3). Meh, we'll see.

Posted by scott at 02:09 PM | Comments (1)
Jackass Lives

I know I shouldn't, I know I shouldn't, but I can't help but laugh at these kinds of stunts. As long as they don't happen to me, of course. I tended to avoid people capable of this sort of thing in college, but I sure don't mind watching the videos they make.

Posted by scott at 12:35 PM | Comments (0)
Big Ball

Scientists have announced the discovery of the biggest planet in the universe. Well, the biggest planet we've found so far in the local area, at any rate. It's size and density are difficult to account for with today's planetary models, so it would seem this one will trigger another round of revisions.

Posted by scott at 11:42 AM | Comments (0)

Mike J. gets a no-prize he can take to the bank for bringing us The Ultimate Global Warming Challenge. It seems broadly similar to the classic Ehrlich-Simon bet. Let's hope the outcomes are similar as well.

Posted by scott at 10:33 AM | Comments (0)
Felinian Motion

Ten cats, twenty cats, fifty cats, pretty soon you're talking about a real crowd. As basically everyone has noticed, their room sure does look clean. Something tells me we're all better off not knowing what that place smells like.

Posted by scott at 08:24 AM | Comments (1)
August 06, 2007
The Tides of War

What I find most heartbreaking is when the only thing that's moving is the casualty counter, for weeks at a time.

Via Siflay

Posted by scott at 04:06 PM | Comments (2)

No, not the LOLcat variety, the "fun with physics" variety. Just don't make a spark!

Posted by scott at 03:37 PM | Comments (4)
Out, Damned Spots!

Researchers have identified the root cause of Rosacea, an inflammatory skin condition that affects millions of people. It's hoped this new result will allow the development of new, more effective treatments.

Posted by scott at 02:37 PM | Comments (0)
Well Duh

Of course the MN bridge collapse was caused by a secret US military sonic weapons test! I mean, Jumpin' Jesus on a Pogo Stick... get with the program people, willya? And hand me that foil hat, mine fell off when the bridge hit the water.

Via Drumwaster.

Posted by scott at 01:41 PM | Comments (1)
Paging Aladdin, White Courtesy Phone Please

Scientists are proposing ways to levitate things using quantum interactions. Three different ways, no less. Unfortunately, one of the methods requires a lot of exotic (expensive) materials, and the other two haven't been tested at all. Still, it's a start!

Posted by scott at 12:02 PM | Comments (0)
Rover on its Last Legs?

Spaceflight Now is reporting the Mars rover Opportunity is experiencing a critical power shortage. The dust storms continue to block the sun, and now settling dust is making the solar arrays less efficient. According to the report, they're right at the break-even point for minimum operations. If the rover experience a net loss in power, it apparently goes into a special survival mode which could last days, weeks, even months until the available power rises again. Where are those mysterious Martian homeless people with their glasses of Windex when you need them?

Posted by scott at 10:58 AM | Comments (0)
Design Patterns on the Brain

It would seem that, in mice at least, it's not a structural difference that make males and females behave differently. It's merely a "wrapper" on the base class:

The enormous difference between male and female sexual behaviour may be explained, in animals at least, by a tiny organ in the nose rather than by any gender difference in brain circuitry.
"In the big picture, it suggests that the female brain has a perfectly functional male behaviour circuit" which is repressed by signals from the vomeronasal organ, Professor Dulac says.

Seen from the perspective of developmental biology, "the finding is very satisfactory", she says.

"It means you only have to build one brain in a species and that the one brain is built, more or less, the same in the male and female."

Never heard of such a thing in humans, so I don't know if this has any implication at all for us.

Posted by scott at 08:21 AM | Comments (1)
August 05, 2007
Learning to Drive

It’s time to learn how to drive.

Sound of a scratching record… the film rewinds

OK, let me start this again. It’s time to learn how to drive… a STANDARD.

Repeat the sound…

No wait… let’s start again. Learning how to drive a standard, on a 37 year old Italian sports car, is quite an experience. An Alfa.

Repeat the sound once again…

Alfa? Yep, an Alfa. As in, Alfa Romeo. A nice one at that. Not the little shit tumblers you see puttering down the road. As in, well, every other goddamned car on the highway. You see, there’s a reason we’re all called Alfisti. All those other sad, little puttering cars… but I’m getting off track.

“What do you mean I have to learn how to drive that car? I hate driving that car! I don’t fit in it. I’m too short!”

Then he says, “I need the Cruiser for Gimpy Grandma days. You’re working more Saturdays now, and that’s a perfect time for me to do a GG day. She can’t get in and out of the Spider, so YOU are going to learn how to drive THIS car. And LIKE it!”

“FINE!” So there we were. Ten years of being the glamorous, envied Sophia Loren passenger in the exotic Italian sports car down the drain. No more. I would have to tame this tiny white beastie, make it mine. But not easily.

YOUR FIRST LESSON, SHOULD YOU CHOOSE TO ACCEPT IT: leave Olivia with Gimpy Gramma (giving her a lesson in “be careful what you wish for,” that being, “I really want to spend more time with my granddaughter.”) Go downstairs, and have a seat. *Grumbling the entire way down the elevator and walking up to the White Car of Axel Grease Doom (I never got the grease smell out of those Christmas toys I hid in there last year.)*

Let’s roll back just for a moment. It’s 100 degrees, there’s NO wind, 70% humidity, and there is NO AIRCONDITIONING in this car! The inside of the car is all black. Vinyl even. With the sun shining merrily onto the seat cushions.

What do cars with black interiors that are sitting in the sun do? They become mini E-Z-bake ovens! Whee!


Him: “Yeah, it can be a little hot in the sun.”

Me: “I notice your seat had a towel over it!”

“Well, that’s where the sun was when I parked!”


“OK! Turn the car on!”

Did I tell you that this key is a TINY key? It’s like one of those silly keys you get for suitcase luggage. CHUH CHUH CHUH bluh..

“No, you didn’t turn it right. Try it again.”


“Noo…here let me show you.” See how this is going so far? Damn tiny keys.

“Ok. This is what you do! You give it a ¼ inch of throttle--”


[Finally I get to do the lizard blink. – Scott]

“What the hell is a throttle? There are 3 freaking pedals here!”

“… it’s the far right one.”

Ok, far right one.

“You do this dance you see…”

This is where my eyes begin to glaze over, not out boredom, but out of fear. Fear that I am going to have to THINK about working the car and driving, not just merrily jumping in and hitting a key and going wherever I want.

The start is an adrenaline-humming blur. Do you know what happens if I break this goddamned thing? Neither do I! But this particular one was built nearly forty goddamned years ago! All those times I laughed at the term, “unobtanium?” Yeah, not so funny when you’re behind the wheel of an entire vehicle made of the stuff. With no idea how to make it move.

But suddenly there I was, at the end of the drive, traffic unthinkingly going back and forth in the hammerblow heat.

“…you ease the gas on and the clutch off at the same time…”

“Uh…there’s a car coming.”

*Sigh* “Ellen, it’s called ‘traffic’.”

“Yeah, but there’s a car coming. What do I do?”

“You put the car into gear and you drive off…?”

“Do I have to?”



“Can I wave this car by first? I’m scared. What if this car doesn’t work?”


So I make my first left turn into a small side residential road and managed to get the car into second, then I hit my first obstacle. The construction sign guys!


“What do I dowhatdoIdoWHADOIDO?!?”

Yeah ok, I’ll be honest, I f’d up that gear real quick and smiled and did the hand thingy at the sign guys letting them know I am a noob. *GRAUNCH* *GRIND* *JUMP JUMP* “Hiiya! Howyadoin?”

My first stop sign. A car behind me HONKS for taking too long to put the car into first.

No biggie, I’m learning. I’m 17 all over again. Well, not 17. More like 21, when I got my license. SHUT UP! I know it’s lame! But there I was…learning to drive all over again.

Scott has me putter up and down and round and round the streets in the sweltering weather for about two laps. Say, fifteen minutes. I’m doing pretty good until he says the fated words…

“Let’s talk hills!”


“Hills are their own thing…” (My head starts to spin. Is it the heat or is it because this is really hard? Who the hell makes a car with no power steering? It’s like the wheel’s stuck in oatmeal or something.) “…and that’s how it works.”

He continued, “You ready to try going up a hill on a start!? Imagine a car 6 inches behind you, and this car will roll back…” *and there will be this tiny ting noise, and then this giant mushroom cloud that covers the city, and I’m sitting on the smoking ground with a steering wheel in my hand and all you can say is, ‘they just don’t make those parts anymore’* “…and you have to get it into gear first so you don’t roll into them.”


And then I… well, I sorta snapped.

“GODAMMIT!!! I can barely drive this thing! No more advanced stuff! I just want to drive away from the stop sign! Ok? Just. The. Sign.”

Him: *Blink* *Blink* “Ok, we’ll practice some more.”

So around we went. Don’t forget this. Always remember that. Yadda yadda yadda. He became a kind of buzz on the edge of my consciousness. A cute, vaguely useful buzz, but a buzz nonetheless. “JESUS!!! The floor is *hot!*”

Him: “Yeah. The exhaust goes underneath your floorpan. There’s an asbestos heat shield—“

“Oh great, now I’m gonna get cancer!”

“No no… that’s only if you breathe the dust. At any rate, it could be worse. The Spider I learned on didn’t have the shield, got lost somewhere. I walked around with melted shoe heels for I don’t know—“

Ok… clutch in, gear up, brake on, off the gas. I need a third foot. Off the brake, slowly unspool the clutch, put the gas in, *WHUMP* *JERK* *ZUMMM* And away we go. Hey, this isn’t too bad! I think I can get this…

And this is the point where the heat, humidity, and my heel smoldering, well, they sorta got to me.

I messed up.

I had that whole, “clutch out, gear out, brake on, gas off” thing down pat. I even managed “gear in,” but then it slid back a bit. The three pedals all danced around each other. I placed both my feet to the floor and the damned engine roared to life for no reason I could think of. I let out the clutch and the whole thing lurched forward with this tire-squealing **BANG!!** The gear shift seemed to dial away out of reach, like some weird movie effect, and there I was holding this giant round thing that was just the most retarded handle I’ve ever seen. I reached out, across what must’ve been thirty feet. It was actually more like six inches. I grabbed hard.

And I pulled the stick shift knob clean off the shifter. *POINK!*



*Both party’s eyes bulged with surprise and terror at the same time*

Ok…step back. Did I mention we are at a near standstill?

I think I “white knuckeled” that gear shift a bit too much.

This is where we both looked at each other. The car was slowly coasting down a simple residential street, me with flop sweat far worse than I’d ever had on stage before a performance. It ticked over gently, waiting for the ‘tard behind the wheel to get untangled and start to drive.

We both started to crack up.

“You didn’t put this thing on right!” Here I am looking at this very nicely handmade gear shift knob in my hands, and then looking at the actual gear shift lever (chrome molly steel… it has this notch on it as if it needs to have something pushed down on it) and then at Scott to see if I killed his ‘real girlfriend’.

Him, with cheerful, giggly enthusiasm: “HOLY SHIT! How the hell did you do that? I’ve been driving these cars for 20 years, and I never… and you pull the gear knob clean off!”

“You didn’t put it on right!”

But it went back on easy enough, and around we went again.

Third to fourth gear? Gold!

From a start? OmigodomigodomigodherecomesacarnonopleasejustgojustgoWHY IS THERE NO POWER STEERING?!?!

But it actually is fun. Maybe even a lot of fun. I’ll get used to it, eventually, and take it into work. At the end, even though I was still intimidated by it, and covered in sweat… well, it wasn’t my (dearly departed) Milano, but I was driving an Alfa again.

As we pulled into the parking lot, Him: “Ok, now, to shut it dow—“

No problem. Around the corner, pull into the parking… why’s it jumping arou-- *whump* *whump* *jerk* *gasp* *die*

The car went silent, except for the electric fuel pump whirring merrily away. Him, slowly: “You put in the clutch, pull it out of gear, turn it off, then put it back in gear so it doesn’t roll away.”

“I thought you just parked it. You know, put the gear shift into park?”




Him: “Ok. Next week then?”

“Yuppers. Next week.”

Posted by Ellen at 07:08 AM | Comments (5)
August 04, 2007
New Belly Dance Dress!


Dr. F ( a vet who I work with) brings Olivia back something every year from Goa when he visits home. This was 2007's gift. Of course, it is a hit!
Posted by Ellen at 08:23 PM | Comments (3)
August 03, 2007

Night-vision equipped cannon: 1, Bomb-planting Haji: 0 Video contains some loud cursing at the end, and while it's not blood-and-guts graphic, it does clearly display what happens when someone gets busted planting an IED in Iraq. Unfortunately, it's my understanding these bomb-planters are not much more than patsies, looking for a quick buck. The ones we really want are the builders and the leaders. Still, that was definitely one less bomb and bomb-planter our guys had to worry about that night.

Posted by scott at 03:05 PM | Comments (1)
You Have 30 Seconds to Comply

Fully armed robots are now on the loose in Iraq. Sure, there's only 3 of them, and they're about as glamorous as a treaded toaster. But if they work out, they could be the start of something really big.

I guess sometimes prophecies do come to pass:

By using violence as a method of political advancement, by embracing outrageous expressions of destruction as leitmotifs of a belief system, Islam makes itself worse than irrelevant. It makes itself a clear and present danger to people who are rapidly gaining the technological capability of dismantling and destroying it by remote control at no risk to the conquerors.

Of course, if they start shooting up the place at random, it'll be back to the drawing board. But most likely not for long...

Posted by scott at 02:08 PM | Comments (0)
Strange Rays Cause Dangerous Days

Scientists are claiming to have found a potential cause of the cyclical mass extinctions Earth has experienced throughout its history. By examining the "roller-coaster" like way the sun orbits the center of our galaxy, scientists discovered that the times when our solar system is at its highest or lowest in relation to the galactic plane corresponded exactly with periods of mass extinction on Earth. It's thought that during those times the entire solar system is more vulnerable to exotic, and dangerous, cosmic rays emanating from intergalactic space. More research must be done, of course, but to my knowledge it's definitely a plausible explanation of these mysterious events.

Posted by scott at 12:47 PM | Comments (0)
Crossbreed Skull

Scientists have announced the discovery of a human skull with an anatomical feature thought only to be found on Neanderthals. It's my understanding that several genetic studies have shown no trace of Neanderthal genes in modern human populations, or visa-versa. This doesn't mean our ancestors didn't interbreed, but it does seem to indicate such experiments went nowhere.

Posted by scott at 11:53 AM | Comments (0)
Zimbabwe Update

As predicted, Mugabe's sale-prices-on-command approach to countering inflation is a shattering failure. Constraining prices by legislative fiat always fails, no matter what. Any time you hear about a politician proposing a price control to "help" someone run, do not walk, to the nearest available voting booth and toss him or her out as quickly as possible. Were it to happen at the national level, it would have the nice indirect effect of tossing out all of the more egregious members of the Democratic party, perhaps the thin wedge needed to get me to consider voting for one of them.

The regime is now Stalinist in everything but name, so the next step will be for them to start shooting people. It took, what, a few weeks for the economy to shrivel and die? I'd give them another week, a month at the most, before we start reading stories about executions for the treasonous sabotage of the enlightened leader's economic plan. And those will be the lucky ones. The way regimes like this treat the children of their "enemies" is simply too horrible to detail.

Will that be what finally causes the people to bring down the government? No, probably not. Sadly, history shows the only way regimes like these fall is if their leader starts screwing around with his neighboring countries, or he dies. The army will be far too busy murdering the country's middle class and business sectors to cause its neighbors any grief, and, like Castro, Mugabe shows no signs of having the decency to just hurry up and die already.

Oh don't worry, it can't happen here. The progressives did their almighty best to take US apart in the 70s and (thanks to the timely intervention of Mr. Reagan) failed. They're nowhere near as powerful now as they were then. But those of you who support things like higher corporate taxes or more regulation to achieve economic "fairness" should take a long, hard look at Zimbabwe. What Venus is to global warming, Zimbabwe is to economic policy.

Via Instapundit.

Posted by scott at 10:41 AM | Comments (1)
Caturday Twelfth Night


Of course you are! It's AMCGLTD Caturday!


























Posted by scott at 08:27 AM | Comments (8)
August 02, 2007
Like Ellen's Cellphone Doesn't Already Scare the Crap Outta Me Often Enough

Who needs to download ringtones when you can download a freaking ghost detector! Something tells me the next big hippie-fest "paranormal convention" could end up devolving into a bunch of waif-y mother earth-types waving their cellphones at the walls for three days. Good times, good times.


Posted by scott at 03:14 PM | Comments (0)
Probe Wash

NASA is proposing to fly the Cassini space probe directly through the geyser plume discovered on Saturn's moon Enceladus. Scientists apparently really want to know what's in the plume, and this is the simplest way to do it. According to the director of NASA's Planetary Division in Washington, D.C. James Green, there are dangers but they're manageable. Time to wash the probe!

Posted by scott at 02:14 PM | Comments (1)
Now That's Just Cool

After a long slog of five months, I'm actually creating production-level C# code. I've used the Adapter, Command, and N-tier patterns so far, and may very well end up using more. What I find absolutely striking is how I can re-factor (re-write to get the same functionality in a different way) big chunks of code, look at it, say to myself, "that should work," run the test, and it works! I hardly ever refactored in Cold Fusion because it never worked when I thought it should. Tons of extra debugging makes Scott an unhappy programmer!

The more familiar I get with it, the more I'm beginning to realize that I've been trying to code like this for ten or eleven years, ever since I completed my first "enterprise" CF app*. Unfortunately, while Cold Fusion is extremely elegant when it comes to hooking databases up to web pages, if you try to do anything else it gets very clunky very fast (IMO).

Which is not to say C# and the .Net "way" are perfect. Far from it. I've been tinkering enough now to find some definite weaknesses. But it's so much better than what I was doing before.

Hell I may end up making a living doing this. You never know.

* Which, by the way, is still in use, 10 years later, with very happy users. Booya!

Posted by scott at 12:43 PM | Comments (3)
Fake Bone

By using an exotic mix of nanocomposites, scientists have created a new sort of artificial bone. The article doesn't mention any therapeutic applications for the stuff. Instead, it appears it will be useful in exploring why natural bone tissue varies in its composition depending on where in the body it is used.

Posted by scott at 11:38 AM | Comments (0)
Dead Drop

I had a feeling video of the Minneapolis bridge collapse wouldn't be long in coming. From what I can see, it looks like perhaps a dozen or more cars went into the water. It will be a miracle if only (at my last check) 4 people were killed in this.

Bridges don't "just" collapse. Something, probably a whole chain of somethings, went very wrong here.

Posted by scott at 10:11 AM | Comments (1)
Fun with Sand

It's amazing what people can accomplish with sand, water, and a little bit of glue. At least, I think glue is used. I seem to recall that sand sculpture of this magnitude is created with a diluted spray of Elmers. Regardless, it's damned impressive.

Posted by scott at 08:13 AM | Comments (0)
August 01, 2007
AMCGLTD Simpsonized!




Posted by Ellen at 09:33 PM | Comments (4)
The Endless Wire

Scientists are reporting the development of a new treatment for people with severe brain injuries. By using electrodes planted in specific places deep within the brain, scientists have been able to substantially improve the conditions of life for "minimally conscious" patients. So far the treatment is still very much in the trial stage, but if further tests prove successful it could offer hope for an improved life for those injured in this way.

Posted by scott at 03:18 PM | Comments (0)
Second Terror

Australian security officials are claiming Second Life and World of Warcraft are being used to recruit and train terrorists. I would've thought a more realistic multiplay shooter like Counter Strike would've been more useful, but what do I know?

Posted by scott at 01:44 PM | Comments (1)
Nerd Fight!

Just in time for the Christmas season: realistic, sophisticated light saber replicas that are robust enough to be used in duels. Yours for only $500-$700. Whatabargain! Site includes a teeth-achingly nerdy video demonstration of the product.

I'd take it a lot more seriously if they didn't make a really loud, plastic-y thump noise every time they hit each other, although I can't for the life of me think how it can be prevented.

Via Instapundit.

Posted by scott at 12:28 PM | Comments (0)
The Olympic Athelete Goes, "*GASP* *COUGH* *CHOKE*"

Ron gets a filthy no-prize for bringing us this quick review of the unforeseen difficulties involved in hosting a first-world event in a third-world country.

Optimizing an economy for maximum growth requires minimal regulation, especially of the environment. Eventually, as average per-capita income rises to a certain point*, people will start demanding a cleaner environment, and pollution controls can (well, should) be gradually introduced. Unfortunately, while China is rapidly getting a first-world economy, it's definitely not there yet. Equally unfortunate, the requirements of effete first-world left wingers run right up against this reality, and so China has a potentially intractable problem on its hands.

This is most likely worrying China's leadership far more than you'd think. China as a country is almost psychotically obsessed with getting this chance to prove they've "made it" right. They take it extremely seriously, and should it fail I'm not quite sure what would happen. It's probably not too far fetched to picture riots and revolutions. Certainly that's what the leadership must fear.

The ironic thing is the air pollution in Beijing is almost certainly no worse (probably better) than that experienced by the athletes of the first few Olympiads. One need only read about conditions in turn of the last century London to understand this.

* As I recall, $8000 per year in 2000 dollars.

Posted by scott at 10:54 AM | Comments (2)
Fun with Photos

Mark gets a donut-shaped no-prize for bringing us a clever promotional tool that lets you "simpsonize" a portrait. I'll definitely have to try this when I get home.

Posted by scott at 08:41 AM | Comments (0)