November 30, 2008
Farewell Ares I?

Obama's NASA transition team has asked the agency to comment on the implications of canceling the Ares I launch vehicle. Executives at Alliant Techsystems (ATK), the Edina, Minn.-based prime contractor for the Ares 1 main stage, seem to be doing a ROTC traffic director "everything's fine!!!" sort of thing. Are they covering nervousness, or really do believe, once all the answers are in, Ares I really is the right answer? Only time will tell.

Posted by scott at 07:57 AM | Comments (1)
November 29, 2008
That's Just not Very Nice

The hook is that the cup is full of water. That sound you're hearing is Ellen scribbling this idea down for use the next time it's slow at her clinic.

Posted by scott at 07:58 AM | Comments (2)
November 28, 2008
Sounds About Right

I thought I was the only one:

A wife’s sympathy for a partner with a cold lasts just five minutes, according to new research.
Posted by scott at 06:24 AM | Comments (1)
November 27, 2008
Thanksgiving Rocket

This is a rocket that several male friends of ours decided to have a gift together. It was purchased in late 2004 and today we decided it would, finally, be a nice day to light the damned thing off. Did we think it would work? No. But it did and we got 5 shots out of it.

Posted by Ellen at 08:56 PM | Comments (2)
Beat That Grammy and Poppy!

You have serious competition to Wii Bowling in 3 weeks!

Posted by Ellen at 08:49 PM | Comments (0)
And Duck and Weave!

Posted by Ellen at 08:45 PM | Comments (1)

All those times I've complained about our Alfas leaking things onto the garage floor? Yeah, I think I'll stop complaining as much now:

A car left parked in front of a Sacramento [CA] man's home yielded a startling discovery Wednesday morning.

The resident, who lives on the 6200 block of 40th Street called authorities to report the Ford Taurus has been parked in front of his home since Tuesday and there was fluid leaking from the trunk.

You'd think the smell would've given it away.

Posted by scott at 08:51 AM | Comments (1)
November 26, 2008
Ron? Is That You?

  • Identical make: check
  • Identical model: check
  • Identical color: probable
  • Identical year: probable
  • Weird fascination with 80s hip-hop: check
And to think I thought he'd never sell it.
Posted by scott at 02:54 PM | Comments (6)

When playing with a puppy, it's often wise to keep an eye on the paws. Bah, that's nothing. You want pain? How about two quarter-ton cats using your sleepy backside as the chute of turn 3 of their psychotic race course at 3 am?

Posted by scott at 01:47 PM | Comments (2)
~ I Like Big Cores and I Cannot Lie ~

A new model is suggesting Jupiter has a rocky core much larger than previously thought. The article doesn't mention the funky liquid-metallic hydrogen that I'd heard other models predict, so perhaps that's wrong too?

Posted by scott at 12:43 PM | Comments (0)
Paging Alice, White Courtesy Phone Please

So, is the Navy's new latest-and-greatest actually stealthy, or have the dockyards and the service conspired to screw it all up? Again.

Being a pessimist, I don't think you'll like my speculation.

Posted by scott at 10:48 AM | Comments (0)
I See You

Another day, another video of some wacky new type of large squid. Sometimes, well, most of the time, working on a oil rig doesn't sound like much fun. But on days like those...

Posted by scott at 08:42 AM | Comments (0)
November 25, 2008
Oscar's Hit! Oscar's Hit!

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

I'm actually surprised it's taken this long for someone to realize who's really behind all the increased pirate activity off the coast of Somalia.

All together now... JOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOS!!!!

Posted by scott at 02:53 PM | Comments (4)
Just in Time for the Holidays!

Too bad bidding has ended. This would've made a great gift for that special someone in your life. The best part would be to hear, "but I don't have any blu-ray disks, why would I want this?"

Posted by scott at 01:24 PM | Comments (0)
Cousin's Song

If we are in fact able to bring back the recently-sequenced woolly mammoth, and if we are in fact able to fully sequence the neandertal genome, should we take the next logical step, and just what would that imply?

Personally I think the two "ifs" are a lot bigger than the article's author seems to think. Still, it is an interesting ethical question. In my opinion, one of the many arguments against slavery is that it wastes the potential of someone who is in a very real sense no different than anyone else. Suddenly, at least on paper, we are rapidly acquiring the ability to create manifestly less capable beings, which are however still related to us.

To put it another way, we don't turn chimps into slaves because they're high strung, not that clever, and can bend cold steel with their bare hands. If we are able to create a much more capable, pliable, and less dangerous hominid, what would that imply about the morality of slavery?

To me, the answer is simple, but I've been called a moralist before.

Posted by scott at 11:58 AM | Comments (1)
Liner Notes

Fans of how movies get made, or those who want to drool at pictures of Robert Downey Jr. being pensive [*cough*]Ellen[*cough*] should like perusing Jeff Bridges' scrapbook of the making of Iron Man. And what a strange site he has, too!

Posted by scott at 10:29 AM | Comments (1)
The Llama Song
Posted by Ellen at 07:13 AM | Comments (0)
The Marmoset Song

Posted by Ellen at 07:06 AM | Comments (1)
November 24, 2008
I Wish I Liked the Stuff More

Score one for Coke's marketing department:

Dr Pepper is making good on its promise of free soda now that the release of Guns N' Roses' "Chinese Democracy" is a reality. The soft-drink maker said in March that it would give a free soda to everyone in America if the album dropped in 2008. "Chinese Democracy," infamously delayed since recording began in 1994, goes on sale Sunday.
Beginning Sunday at 12:01 a.m., coupons for a free 20-ounce soda will be available for 24 hours on Dr Pepper's Web site. They'll be honored until Feb. 28.

Well, I thought Dr. Pepper was owned by Coke. Seems it's owned by Snapple. Did I dream that, or did they get sold at some point?

Posted by scott at 02:39 PM | Comments (0)
Your Next Car Cover?

Chemists have developed a fabric coating which provides the ultimate in water protection. The result? The most waterproof clothing-suitable fabric ever created. If it's cheap enough, and really as durable as they say, the idea of a "suit bag" for your classic car may one day soon be a reality.

Of course, it could also be used for other, less important applications like self-cleaning clothes, permanently dry swim wear, and who knows how many medical items, but hey, let's stay focused on what's important... protecting quirky old Italian cars tossed out of their garage by other quirky old Italian cars!

Posted by scott at 01:20 PM | Comments (0)
You're Moving Where?!?

Need a job? Move to the middle of nowhere. I'm not completely sure where a few of those cities are, but I do know Midland TX is deep in the heart of the Great Texas F-all. Of course, one statistic does not a desirable job make.

Posted by scott at 12:15 PM | Comments (0)
Chop Stop

Ron gets a no-prize that still has all its fingers for bringing us this graphic (but not gross!) demonstration of the "SawStop", a very valuable safety option for table saws. I seem to recall hearing about these quite some time ago, but I'd never seen anyone with the guts to actually try it themselves. And, while I can't blame the guy, it looks more like he touched the side of the blade than the teeth. Meh, still pretty spectacular stuff. I certainly wouldn't want to use a table saw without one.

Posted by scott at 10:52 AM | Comments (1)
Roger Spider, Call the Ball

Mark gets a no-prize that looks like a controlled crash for bringing us this first-person view of a carrier landing. Now try to do it at night, in a storm... that's supposed to be when the fun begins.

Posted by scott at 09:25 AM | Comments (1)
November 23, 2008
Atmosphere: Not Yours

Researchers may have discovered the reason why Mars's atmosphere is so thin. The culprit? Perhaps the weird Martian magnetic field, which appears to allow giant chunks of its atmosphere to be ripped away by the solar wind.

Should this theory hold up to further observations, it would put a king-sized dent into the all those futurist plans of terraforming mars. Planting all the genetically engineered super-tough vegetation you can on the surface will do no good if the planet lets the #%$#@ sun toss it all into deep space every chance it gets.

Posted by scott at 08:41 AM | Comments (3)
November 22, 2008
Rrrm... Yeah...

Ok, it's official, the "I don't know what to make of it" trifecta is now in play:

Michael Bowers, aka Chubby Mikey, is set to be the surprise calendar hit of the year.

The gay 29-year-old from Memphis, USA, is so proud of his size, he has posed nude in a series of 'sexy' shots.

I've said it before, I'll say it again. The people who most want to be seen naked are the people just about everyone else least wants to see naked.

Ok, put it a different way... me, in a thong, on a beach.

Ah geeze... you didn't have to run screaming for the mind bleach. Decorum people, decorum!

Posted by scott at 10:21 PM | Comments (2)
Now I've Seen Everything

Not content with promoting a sixty year-old technology with built-in transient clicks and pops, the "indie" scene seems to be bringing back the cassette tape. Unlike the LP, which at least approaches the S/N ratio of CDs and other digital media, cassettes have always had terrible sound. People can buy 100 blank CDs for, what, $30? Heck I'm not sure it's possible to buy a computer that can't write CDs.

Bah. It never was about the sound, it's about the scene. It's your money, spend it the way you want.

Posted by scott at 04:57 PM | Comments (1)
November 21, 2008
Err...Right There... No There... You Got Somthing Stuck In Your Teeth.

She answered: 'It was when I was a child when I lived in Africa. We always went to the same butcher and then suddenly - we were there a couple of years - the meat started to get so much better.

'It was only when we moved back to England a couple of years later that we realised that the butcher had been arrested because he farmed little black girls."

Posted by Ellen at 09:07 PM | Comments (1)
Big Ball

Scientists have discovered that a modern single celled organism as big as a grape leaves trails identical to those found in 600 million year old fossil beds. The implication being these critters, or something very like them, have been around longer than just about anything else we know of, and that the Cambrian explosion may not in fact simply be a gap in the fossil record.

In other news, there are single celled organisms out there as a big as a grape!

Posted by scott at 03:30 PM | Comments (3)
Fun with Perspective

Sometimes it's lighting, sometimes it's the subject, and sometimes all that's required is the "right" angle. Ellen and I try to do this occasionally, but we can't quite get it all to line up.

Posted by scott at 01:35 PM | Comments (2)
Mark? Is that You?

Well, certainly not Mark, but still:

A man wearing a World War II Nazi uniform and carrying a powerful German rifle of the same vintage quickly told police his mission: He was on the way to kill a man.

Something called an "8mm Mauser" sounds more like a pistol than a powerful gun, but wtf do I know?

Posted by scott at 11:40 AM | Comments (5)
Crypt Find

Scientists have announced they've found and identified the grave and remains of famed scientist Nicolaus Copernicus. The grave was discovered in a 14th-century Polish cathedral under floor tiles near one of the side altars. The findings were authenticated using DNA samples taken from the remains and from a hair sample found in a book used by Copernicus.

Ain't science grand?

Posted by scott at 10:37 AM | Comments (0)
In Other News, Sky Blue, Water Wet

When you encourage people to broadcast live videos of themselves doing things, it's inevitable that one of those things will eventually be offing themselves. I've seen video clips on the internet of people killing themselves in much more spectacular ways than a drug overdose for years now. Just because it's "live" doesn't mean it's any less sad. It just means another set of people had a chance to stop it, and didn't.

Posted by scott at 09:02 AM | Comments (0)
November 20, 2008
Dude. Wait, What? XIX

Ron gets a rare second no-prize in one day for bringing us a most... unusual... wedding (completely SFW).

Umm... I'm not completely sure that's real. If it is...



[Swing arms out, swing back in, clap hands loudly once...]


Posted by scott at 03:43 PM | Comments (5)
Fun with Sinks

Me, I like the one that doesn't look like it has a drain. I definitely don't want to know how much any of them might cost, if they're for sale at all.

Via Violins and Starships.

Posted by scott at 03:02 PM | Comments (3)
Cave War

Scientists using a clever sort of bone analysis have determined that early modern humans were throwing weapons during the early paleolithic, and neandertals were not. It's always better to be the spear thrower than the spear catcher.

Posted by scott at 01:36 PM | Comments (0)
Now That's Just Sad

Getting busted for being a dirty old man trying to paw teenagers is one thing. Having your stash of self-starring animal porn discovered during a search is quite something else.

Ron will be very happy, and not at all surprised, to learn this happened near Philadelphia.

Posted by scott at 12:03 PM | Comments (1)
Say Hello to My Little Friend

The pygmy tarsier, long thought to have gone extinct in the 1920s, well, isn't. My anthropology adviser back in college said tarsiers in general were amazing jumpers, so fast they were almost impossible to follow. I'm not completely sure they can be kept in captivity.

Posted by scott at 10:13 AM | Comments (0)
What's She Late For? Can I call a Cab?

Ron gets a no-prize with unintended consequences for bringing us this clever ad. I'm not completely sure if the product is real, but the writing is funny enough.

Posted by scott at 08:44 AM | Comments (7)
November 19, 2008
Welcome to My World, Euro Edition

Nice to know Pointy Haired Bosses aren't confined to the US. Bonus: he's a she, and definitely not much of a boss.

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

The remains of the oldest identified family found so far show clear signs of a violent death. It was a damned hard life back then.

Posted by scott at 10:51 AM | Comments (0)

Where's COPS when you need them?

A man caught near Nobbys Beach with his penis in a pasta sauce jar led police on a 20 kmh car chase, Newcastle Local Court heard yesterday.

But wait! There's more!

A search of his car uncovered pornography, a home-made sex aid, women's stockings and a Jack Russell terrier.

The mind boggles.

Posted by scott at 08:49 AM | Comments (1)
November 18, 2008
Wet Mars

An international group of scientists is reporting they've found even more evidence that Mars was once covered with huge oceans of water. As with most of these sorts of things, the finding is not without controversy. I'm old enough to remember reading in old science books about how puzzled scientists were to find absolutely no evidence of anything even vaguely canal-like on the surface. We've come a long way!

Posted by scott at 02:29 PM | Comments (0)

What is it? Here's a hint: "[T]he guidance system weighs 200 pounds and drinks gin."

Posted by scott at 01:34 PM | Comments (1)
Honda Fun

Honda: the good news is, it's run by engineers. The bad news is, it's run by engineers, although just how that's bad isn't explained in the article.

Alfa used to be like this, making lots of different models and coming up with all sorts of interesting solutions to all kinds of problems. Unfortunately the company was eventually destroyed when the government bureaucrats who ran it decided to use it as an instrument of social justice instead of a company with which to make and sell cars.

Posted by scott at 12:05 PM | Comments (2)
What a Nice Man

Note to self: When being an iron-clad sonofabitch, try to make sure there aren't any cameras running. I've actually known more than a few guys like this, back in my starving student days*. It's nice to see they eventually end up in jail where they belong. I just wish we could keep them there.

Ron gets a no-prize he can use to get into people's faces for bringing us this "not-quite-cops-but-shoulda-been" news clip.

* Fry cook being one of the few entry-level jobs available to felons.

Posted by scott at 11:05 AM | Comments (0)
That's Mister Tor-Twa To You, Bub

Mike P. gets a 1/72 scale no-prize for bringing us this anime visualization of a tortoise tank. If it were ours, it'd munch up a bunch of fuel and then hide in its hangar the rest of the day.

Posted by scott at 09:20 AM | Comments (1)
November 17, 2008
SQUWAK!! In a Suit

Swoozie demonstrating the ease of being stuffed into a flight suit.

Posted by Ellen at 09:47 PM | Comments (0)
This Is Going To Be An Interesting 4 Years

Hillary Clinton plans to accept the job of secretary of state offered by Barack Obama, who is reaching out to former rivals to build a broad coalition administration, the Guardian has learned.

Obama's advisers have begun looking into Bill Clinton's foundation, which distributes millions of dollars to Africa to help with development, to ensure that there is no conflict of interest. But Democrats do not believe that the vetting is likely to be a problem.

Clinton would be well placed to become the country's dominant voice in foreign affairs, replacing Condoleezza Rice. Since being elected senator for New York, she has specialised in foreign affairs and defence. Although she supported the war in Iraq, she and Obama basically agree on a withdrawal of American troops.

Entire article can be found here. *Good thing they did not get all of the Senate seats*
Posted by Ellen at 09:21 PM | Comments (3)

Jeff gets a no-prize that'll dig a hole to China when it grows up for bringing us this live puppy cam. No, I didn't know what a Shiba Inu was either. Jeff thinks it's some sorta Chow breed.

Posted by scott at 02:31 PM | Comments (5)
And the Lure Float Goes, "Plork!"

Problem: the celebrity you're interviewing is deadly dull, and you really need something good for a headline.

Solution: Go fishing:

When asked about his perspective on social issues—gay marriage, abortion—Prince tapped his Bible and said, “God came to earth and saw people sticking it wherever and doing it with whatever, and he just cleared it all out. He was, like, ‘Enough.’ ”

Props to the man for not shying away from saying what he thinks, and a big raspberry to whomever his publicist is for letting the interview spin out of control allowing him to do the same.

Posted by scott at 12:23 PM | Comments (2)
Gutting the GUT

A team of scientists seem to have proven it will be impossible to experimentally verify the possibility that at one point, far in the distant past, all the forces that make our universe tick were once one. I'm just about done with Warped Passages, by Lisa Randall, which discusses this exact situation. It seems that there is definitely a problem verifying any theory which relies on Planck-scale forces. However, if the universe contains more dimensions than the four we perceive, and they act in the way that modelers (string theory and otherwise) think they do, then it's quite possible we'll be able to concoct experiments to test unification that won't require obscene amounts of energy to work.

Hey, man, don't look at me. My head explodes every time I read a chapter of that thing. I sorta like it. :)

Posted by scott at 11:12 AM | Comments (0)
November 16, 2008

I sometimes get a feeling, from my liberal friends, of genuine puzzlement about my political views. I'm clever enough to seem somewhat intelligent, I definitely have no love for the religious right, and yet I still insist on supporting Republicans. I've actually been asked, more than once, why?!?

This is why: (emphasis original)

[W]hile I find the anti-freedom strains of both parties equally dismaying, the Democrats are a lot better at implementing their big-government intrusions, and there's good reason to think that this will be the case even if the Republicans get full control of the government.

Since I'm probably a bit more socially conservative, I'll take it a bit further. I'm far less worried about the religious right making it harder for Stern to broadcast a homeless man sticking his toe in a woman's vagina, harder for some busybody to sue a local school over the pledge of allegiance, and harder for gay people to finance a divorce lawyer's third yacht than I am about the far left making it harder for people to find jobs, harder for our nation to defend itself, and harder for the country to grow and innovate as it always has.

Because, like Simberg, I've been watching this for a long time and while I know fringe Republicans would like all those socially conservative things to happen, I know they're about as likely to happen as me tagging a Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition cover model. Also, like (well, something like) Simberg, I've read about what happens when Democrats get absolutely everything they ever wished for, and lived through the consequences of same*.

And now we're set to watch it happen all over again. Well, it took the debacle of Carter to bring Reagan to the fore. It'd be nice to think that '76-'80, the High School Musical Edition will bring someone of similar stature to the front rank again.

Via Instapundit.

* Which is why you should put your hand down and swallow that comment until you've actually read a book or two about LBJ, Vietnam, "Stagflation", and the school "reforms" of the late 60s and early 70s.

Posted by scott at 05:50 PM | Comments (11)
Attic Find

Most of the time, when making the final cleanout of the grandparent's home, you find things you will treasure. Sometimes, though, you find something the whole country will appreciate:

Tony and Albert Fagler didn't know too much about Grandpa Albert, except that he did something with photography in the armed forces during World War II.

When Grandma Betty died in 2000, the boys had the task of cleaning out their grandparent's home in Englewood.

In the basement, they found an old cardboard drum, mostly full of junk and old pictures. They also found three sealed canisters of very old 16mm film.

Turns out the film, which had to be quite carefully digitized, was gun camera footage, scenes of ground combat aftermaths, and a color film of their grandparent's honeymoon. Sweet!

Posted by scott at 10:19 AM | Comments (0)
November 15, 2008
Egypt...No Wait...Florida!

Posted by Ellen at 08:00 PM | Comments (0)
Final Photos

Well, one thing's for sure... putting yourself in ultimate peril can sometimes result in spectacular pictures. It's that whole "waking up dead" part that puts damper on the whole thing.

Posted by scott at 08:33 AM | Comments (0)
At Speed

Exactly how a 200 hp 2L four banger is able to confidently pick off, well, everything on the track from Porsche to Ferrari to (no, really!) Chrysler I think perhaps is more about the driver than the car. But it sure does make a sweet sound, eh?

The weapon in question is...


A "1970 GTA Stradale Replica". More pictures are here:

The event is "onboard salzburgring sounds of speed 2008".

Posted by scott at 07:20 AM | Comments (0)
November 14, 2008
Well, It's a Start

After an absence of nearly 15 years, Alfa Romeo is once again selling cars in the US. $200,000+ cars, mind you, so I'm not looking for one in my driveway any time soon. Well, unless Bill Gates or someone like that reads this thing, in which case, black seems a nice color!

Oh, and it's good to see Keith's Stradale ended up somewhere nice in the US.

Posted by scott at 05:44 PM | Comments (0)
Είναι που επιθυμούν για την fjiords!

Making the rounds: a variant of Monty Python's "dead parrot" sketch has been knocking around for 1600 years. The ancients being less squeamish about such things, their version is more appropriately titled "the dead slave sketch."

Posted by scott at 04:21 PM | Comments (0)

I don't know enough about FWD cars to tell just what the heck happened here. Taking a WAG, looks like something in his transmission broke and allowed him to engage 2 gears at once. At speed.

NSFW punk wannabe language at the end.

Posted by scott at 03:53 PM | Comments (2)
Cousin's Portrait

Scientists have, for the first time, directly imaged an entire solar system's worth of planets. Imaged from the ground, no less. If this doesn't put paid to the myth that there's something spectacularly magical about a twenty five year-old lump just because it orbits the Earth, I'm not sure what will. And yet we're still going to spend hundreds of millions of dollars "rescuing" the thing. Gah.

Posted by scott at 09:07 AM | Comments (6)
I Wonder Where They Put the Worm?

Mexican (natch) scientists have developed a method of making diamonds out of tequila. As expected, the diamonds produced aren't something that will go in a ring, but they do seem to represent a new, cheaper method of generating industrial diamond. Considering the number of uses already figured out for the stuff, this should be welcomed.

Posted by scott at 08:04 AM | Comments (0)
November 13, 2008
Caught In The Act!

Posted by Ellen at 09:42 PM | Comments (0)
As Long as I Get to Throw a Snowball at Al Gore

Mike J. gets a white, creamy no-prize covered in chocolate syrup for bringing us news that at least some scientists think the next ice age may be soon and it may be quite long indeed. Boy, all those people who bought Nevada scrubland betting it'll one day be beachfront are gonna be pissed!

Posted by scott at 05:20 PM | Comments (0)
Googling the Ancients

Google has added ancient Rome to the list of cities which can be accessed via Google Earth. In spite of the company's "do it all, with magic" reputation, they did not in fact invent a time machine. Instead they worked with scholars and modelers to create a virtual version.

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

Two scientists have come up with a novel theory of brain development that makes autism and schizophrenia two sides of the same coin. Even if proven wrong, the predictions the theory makes should provide much more insight into how the brain develops, and how it breaks down.

Posted by scott at 11:14 AM | Comments (0)
That's not a Knife...

...this is a knife:

A Royal Navy warship has rescued a Danish vessel after it came under attack from Somali pirates.

HMS Cumberland and the Russian frigate Neustrashimy repelled the attempted raid in the Gulf of Aden on Tuesday.

Meh. I bet they were hoping to shoot the big gun this time.

Posted by scott at 07:35 AM | Comments (0)
November 12, 2008
Olivia @ our latest dance show that got rained out.

Thank you Sofia for the pix!
Posted by Ellen at 09:07 PM | Comments (2)
Scientific Proof!

One of the things Ellen is legendary about is never, ever, ever admitting she's drunk. She has literally walked into walls denying she's anything but "a bit tipsy."

So this time... this time... I gots proof. Apologies for the darkness, really it's only the sound that matters:

Of course, the whole point of science is repeatability...

Now, by this time, Ellen realized something was afoot. She decided she'd test this asshole who kept sticking a camera in her face, since he was way drunker than she was...

A note to grammas and all other worry-warts: this was quite late at night, Olivia was very soundly asleep, and we did nothing more than go straight to bed. It's funny! Laugh! We do!

Posted by scott at 08:36 PM | Comments (4)
If Only GM'd Actually Made One

Ron gets a weird hybrid no-prize with a mullet on for bringing us this strange yet strangely cool amalgam of some classic 90s sh-tbox cars. Question the motives? Sure? Admire the craftsmanship? Definitely.

Posted by scott at 04:11 PM | Comments (0)
Well, that's Polite of Them

Lisa R. gets yet another "so harmless it's deadly" no-prize for bringing us something else to add to the list of things that will kill you in Australia:

Australia's harsh Simpson Desert conservation park will be closed during the southern hemisphere summer to prevent tourists dying in the outback, authorities said on Tuesday.

Ah, the national park. The wilderness! The wildlife! The dead campers rotting in the sun!


Posted by scott at 01:57 PM | Comments (1)

Scientists have created genetically engineered "assassin" T-cells which seem to be better able to tackle HIV. Engineering "supercells" to fight "superbugs" would seem to me to introduce a real risk of cancer, but my knowledge about such things wouldn't fill a sheet of paper. In other words, waddoIknow?

Posted by scott at 12:20 PM | Comments (1)
Where are Those Little Green Squeegees When You Need Them?

First Phoenix, next Spirit?

A dust storm on Mars has cut into the amount of sunlight reaching the solar array on NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Spirit, leaving the rover in a vulnerable state.

I hope Ellen's evergreen "rule of threes" doesn't apply, because I think there were only three functioning probes on the surface of Mars in September. By December there might not be any.

Posted by scott at 10:56 AM | Comments (1)
Um... Ouch?

Coffin: 1, Little Old Lady: 0. See, if this were Ellen's hearse, the coffin would've properly been secured. Tie-downs: they're not just for groceries, ya know?

Posted by scott at 09:27 AM | Comments (1)
November 11, 2008
Scaring The Crap Out Of Myself


My wonderful friend, Annie, scored a house in Leesburg, VA to live in. To her, history is a way of life, not just something you read about.

Me? I scared myself shitless in her house being left alone for 15 minutes to put makeup and a costume on. Especially when she banged on the window trying to get me to let her back in the house.

An aside: I'm sorry... if you need a 'skeleton key' to get in your house, especially if you are told the house is 'circa 1800', you automatically get a 'your house is haunted' prize.'

So tell me, do I have something to worry about? I did not feel bad "Ju ju" from the house, though I did have some serious discussions with the squirrels until Annie scared the crap out of me.


Even better, being told the parking lot right next door is actually a graveyard. Me: "... uhm... gravestones?!?" Annie, in very jolly voice: "Oh they just took those and moved them across the street in the park. They're right next door, just moved them 20 feet. Left the graves where they were, put the parking lot over it, no idea why it hasn't all collapsed. Ha ha ha!" Was that a movie? I broke out in the "Thriller" dance trying to calm myself. What? Like you didn't know I was weird that way.

Ellen's rule of SpOoKiEness #7: living next to a theater that plays the Rocky Horror Picture Show monthly... gives you a 'maybe" for a sleep over.

Posted by Ellen at 09:12 PM | Comments (0)
Board Breaking


O got the white and yellow stripe belt!

Posted by Ellen at 07:38 PM | Comments (3)
Just Watch It...

Did she just balance the sword in her butt?

Yes... according to Scott, "she is all that and a bag of chips." Chips?

Posted by Ellen at 04:26 PM | Comments (1)
Red Flag Fallout

The suspicious disappearance of the now-famous Red Flag debrief has served only to have its location rediscovered, and a better analysis of its implications posted. It would seem this time around the Eagle and Falcon guys found a weakness in both the SU-30 and the F-22. Not much of one, but in a case like that I bet they'll take whatever they can get.

Posted by scott at 12:56 PM | Comments (1)
The "NOM" That Changed History

Scientists have uncovered even more evidence that all plants which have ever lived have one common ancestor:

The bacterium was probably intended as prey but instead it became incorporated into its attacker’s body – turning it into the ancestor of every tree, flowering plant and seaweed on Earth. The encounter meant life on the planet could evolve from bacterial slime into the more complex forms we see today. “That single event transformed the evolution of life on Earth,” said Paul Falkowski, professor of biogeochemistry and bio-physics at Rutgers University in New Jersey. “The descendants of that tiny organism transformed our atmosphere, filling it with the oxygen needed for animals and, eventually, humans to evolve.”

On such small things a world can turn.

Posted by scott at 09:26 AM | Comments (0)
Fancy Junk

So what does one do with all the bits that make up "big science" after big science has moved on? Well, this! Just about any complex machine can be turned into attractive sculpture*, and since these are much more complex than most...

I bet those are some of the most expensive garden sculptures in the world.

* C.f. Romeo, Alfa.

Posted by scott at 08:56 AM | Comments (0)
RIP: Phoenix

Making the rounds: the Mars polar probe Phoenix has been declared officially "dead". Now that it's winter, there's not enough sunlight to keep the probe's batteries charged, and it's speculated the cold finally got to something important. The demise was expected, in fact the probe lasted a few weeks longer than projected. Regardless, scientists will be poring over the data the probe returned for years. Lift a glass!

Posted by scott at 08:46 AM | Comments (1)
Combine: 1, Oldsmobuick: 0

Bah, couple of sheets of scrap metal, a little bondo, and it'll be good as new. Hopefully the driver will be ok. I amazed whoever it was got out in one piece.

Weirdly, on the way to dropping off Ellen for work we passed a similar tableau, except this one was "burly hotrodded Chrysler sedan: 0, telephone pole: 1." There were two cops on the scene but no ambulances or fire trucks, so my speculation was a drunk who hit a pole and then wandered home on foot. But what do I know?

Posted by scott at 08:10 AM | Comments (1)
November 10, 2008
Whiz Bang...Tonight I ♥ You.

DENVER (CBS4) ― A babysitter's parrot is being credited with helping save the life of a 2-year-old girl who was choking Friday at a Denver area home while the sitter was in the bathroom.

A story about a parrot? A parrot saving a child other than just pooping? AWESOME!

*Many thanks to Jay Tea!*

Posted by Ellen at 08:28 PM | Comments (1)
"Spotting" Rainfall

One group of scientists are now reporting the discovery of very strong evidence that sunspot activity affects rainfall on Earth. To what extent, the article does not say. Note the omission of (to me, at any rate) the rather obvious issue that global rainfall very strongly affects global climate and therefore sunspots do in fact affect climate change. Reminds me a lot of those medieval chroniclers in Europe neglecting to mention a supernova everyone else saw because it contradicted the core teachings of the church to which they belonged.

The more things change...

Posted by scott at 02:11 PM | Comments (1)
What a Great Idea

See, thing is, even if you think your girlfriend is pretty, even if she is actually pretty in a "normal mortal female" sort of way, it won't much matter to the rest of the world if you're a terrible photographer and she's posing like one of those models you see on those tuner magazine covers.

Those cover girls get paid for a reason, mostly because they have plastic surgery bills the size of a college tuition payment. If yours doesn't, just don't. K?

Note: I only scanned the very first page of the thread, which was bikini-level SFW. I won't vouch for the rest until I get home, so be cautious.

Posted by scott at 01:13 PM | Comments (1)
November 09, 2008
Award Time!

Congratulations to Alfa Romeo and its parent company FIAT for snagging the 2009 European Car of the Year award for the MiTo. This is quite different from the award Motor Trend gives out. Instead, this one is awarded by a consensus vote of European automotive journalists.

The latest in the rumor mill is that, if they ever come back, the MiTo will be sold alongside the Mini, using that marque's dealer network. We'll see...

Posted by scott at 01:18 PM | Comments (0)
Mr. Fission Update

Those "buried-in-the-back-yard" nuclear power plants we talked about a few years ago seem to be coming along nicely. Even as gas prices fall, it's just possible the oil bubble stuck around long enough to get these alternative energy sources past their R&D financing hump, making them much more likely to be put into production. Like I've said before, anything that gets Hajji and his oil-rich financiers closer to a bread line is fine by me.

Posted by scott at 11:48 AM | Comments (0)
Good, Clean, Communist Fun

While it's pretty obvious the thing is not really abandoned, this tour of North Korea's largest amusement park is still surreal enough to entertain. The article includes a bonus video that gives you a ride on the "roller coaster of death". And you thought the local fair was dangerous!

Posted by scott at 07:32 AM | Comments (3)
November 08, 2008
Deny Everything

Sometimes they just write themselves: Will there be disclosure of UFO files under the Obama administration?

Well? Well?!?

Posted by scott at 04:54 PM | Comments (4)
I Like it!

Alfa 169, anyone? Even if they did manage to bring them over here, I doubt I'd be able to afford it. But it's fun to dream!

Posted by scott at 09:25 AM | Comments (0)
Did You Know?

Some of the facts read like they're from the "pulling numbers out of my rear end" dept., but they're still fun to think about.

Mark gets a fun, fact-filled no-prize for bringing us this quick ditty not only about how far we've come, but how much farther we're going to go.

Posted by scott at 09:09 AM | Comments (0)
November 07, 2008
Paging Mel Brooks, White Courtesy Phone Please

It's funny when it's a movie. It's Just Not Right when it's an article of clothing. Tights go on men who're engaging in winter sports/activities or are performing in a variety of (fabulous) events. Otherwise... JUST SAY NO!

Posted by scott at 03:33 PM | Comments (3)
Spying Frogs

The revelation that France's participants in the most recent Red Flag exercise spent more time snooping than they did fighting is generating quite a lot of discussion. Monty Python references in Aviation Week. Will wonders never cease?

Posted by scott at 02:03 PM | Comments (0)
Not So Dark After All

Scientists are proposing that, under certain conditions, dark matter may not be all that dark after all. I guess we'll have to come up with a new name for it then, eh?

Posted by scott at 12:58 PM | Comments (2)
Warm Up Wonders

Making the rounds: at least some of the stuff you learned about exercising when you were a kid is wrong. Specifically, "static stretching", the standing stretches done as a part of exercise warm-up, actually weaken the muscle instead of strengthening it.

Posted by scott at 12:00 PM | Comments (3)
Well, at Least the Malls are Cool

Lisa R. gets a no-prize with two very different sides for bringing us the "family friendly" sex shop. Me, I would've thought it'd be called "pre-family friendly", but whadda I know?

Posted by scott at 11:16 AM | Comments (0)
Bang Box

Ron gets a no-prize he can holster a gun in for bringing us The Box of Truth, a science-driven site dedicated to investigating just about every question anyone's ever thought of about firearms. It's a good thing!

Posted by scott at 08:49 AM | Comments (2)
November 06, 2008
More... Campaign...

Obama Win Causes Obsessive Supporters To Realize How Empty Their Lives Are

I swear I saw Joshua wandering around in the background of one or two of those shots.

Or maybe it was Brian?

Posted by scott at 03:43 PM | Comments (2)
Fly Away, Stanley! Be Free!

Guard rails? We don't need no steeking guard rails!

And that, children, is why race cars have roll cages.

Posted by scott at 03:24 PM | Comments (0)
Oh... My... God...

I'm not sure if this really is the worst music video ever made, but it has to be close. Looks like some Chicago don's daughter decided she wanted to break into the music business. I'm glad they got the alarm fixed first.

Posted by scott at 03:17 PM | Comments (0)
Oxyclean: Is There Anything it Can't Do?

That chick who killed her partner in their garage with a phillips screw driver used the wrong bleach:

There are two types of bleach found in household cleaning products. Chlorine-based bleaches are known to make bloodstains invisible, but applying chemicals such as luminol or phenolphthalein will still reveal the presence of haemoglobin - crucial for identifying blood - even after up to 10 washes. In contrast, oxygen bleach, which contains an oxidising agent such as hydrogen peroxide, erases all trace of haemoglobin. Its effect seems to have been untested until now.

It seems to me cleanup isn't the biggest problem... it's that 150+ lbs of dead body that needs to be got rid of that seems the main stumbling block.

Well, that and, you know, killing is wrong and stuff.

Posted by scott at 01:02 PM | Comments (0)

If only you could do this with kids! Exactly what it is in a tennis ball that inspires such absolute monomania in a dog I'll never know. I wonder if he's that enthusiastic with it when there's nobody around to watch?

Posted by scott at 12:09 PM | Comments (1)
~ Say Click... Take a Pic ~

It's not even the end of November yet and we're already seeing "best of the year" lists. Fortunately, this one is a list of the 10 best astronomy pictures, so it's cool. I thought the lightning one was surprising & neat.

Posted by scott at 09:07 AM | Comments (0)
November 05, 2008
Ancient Bug

The first fossil from the mysterious Ediacarn period has been described. This is the final period before the Cambrian explosion, who's fauna is far better known because of formations like the Burgess shale. It's been known for some time something was wandering around the ocean floor during the Ediacaran, because tracks have been found. This is the first time (as far as I know) we've found a complete fossil of one of the critters that might have been doing the walking.

Posted by scott at 01:16 PM | Comments (2)
Slurp Up, Johnny!

Two words: Liquid Smoking. As if a beer glass used as an ash tray didn't smell bad enough...

Posted by scott at 12:28 PM | Comments (0)
The Day After

Congratulations to Barack Obama and the Democratic party on their convincing victory in this election. Here's to hoping you do a much, much better job than I expect you to.

My prediction? It all hangs on the Senate now. 41 seats means the more radical stuff... his tax plan, his health care plan, his environmental plan, and his foreign policy agenda, must be modified or they're dead on arrival. 40 seats? Then it'll be down to the media and the Democrats' own incompetence. Not a pretty picture.

I expect in the next few months a gush of hope and happiness not seen probably since Kennedy took office in 1960. It'll be one treacly special after another right up to the inauguration and just a little beyond. And hey, I'm more a student of history than I am a partisan, and because of that I will actually be quite proud that black children now have the South Lawn as their back yard. Dr. King's dream has come true.

But I'm also a realist, and I've watched this particular game played since the mid-70s. The media will turn on him first, because a happy and harmonious government doesn't sell, but a $500 haircut on the tarmac of LAX certainly does.

Then his own party will turn on him. Obama himself may be centrist, but his party absolutely is not. Their ecstasy will be their undoing, and they will immediately try to enact a whole raft of radical legislation the country quite plainly will not want.

And that's when the people will turn on him. Just as in '94, idealistic Americans who simply wanted change will suddenly realize these people really did mean what they said. They will realize the Democrats really are going to raise taxes, are going to go soft on defense, and are going to try socialized medicine and an expansion of the welfare state.

And that's where my side comes in. As it has in the past, this time in the wilderness will serve to strengthen and focus the Republican party. The party holding the White House always loses seats in off-year elections, so the Democrats' ability to genuinely screw things up will be curtailed in 2010, by how much will be largely determined by how badly they screw up in the two years previous. In the Clinton years, the Democrats were such utter f-ups they went from holding all the cards to being completely out of power at the next election, and this bunch promises to be much better at dropping it all in the pot than that bunch was.

Will it be that fast? If we can't hold them back in the Senate, it's a dead certainty, but the mess will be a lot bigger when we get there. If we are able to protect them from their worst excesses even a gradual erosion will be fine, because that'll mean a Republican president in 2012 will have a small, resentful, but not utterly intractable Democratic majority in Congress to deal with, and, if we must wait until 2016 that same Republican president will have a small, organized, and energized Republican majority with which to govern. Not too shabby, eh?

In a funny sort of way, I'm actually rather glad Obama made it. Had McCain won, the Democrats would've fallen much deeper into the radical left's grasp, and would most likely have paralyzed the country at precisely the time reasoned action is required. The desire for revenge would've simply overridden any real attempt to govern. 1948 - 1952 all over again, the Democrats only needing to find a single issue and their own McCarthy to run with it to truly unleash chaos.

Instead we'll get 6 months of obnoxious leftist gloating, perhaps two years of truly odious attempts to turn the US into New France, followed by our regular (and seemingly preferred) two-party gridlock to take us into the next Presidential cycle. Balancing this will be the fun we'll have watching patently naive people with a penchant for petulant chaos come to realize that it really is a lot more complicated than it looked from the outside, the country really wasn't held hostage by Karl Rove and Dick Cheney, and we all by and large don't want what they think we do.

The wailing at this "betrayal" will be sweet, sweet music indeed.

Posted by scott at 09:48 AM | Comments (7)
November 04, 2008
Back In The Stone Age

And they wonder why they are called 'stone chuckers' for a reason.

Human rights group Amnesty International says the victim was a 13-year-old girl who had been raped.

Initial reports had said she was a 23-year-old woman who had confessed to adultery before a Sharia court.

Numerous eye-witnesses say she was forced into a hole, buried up to her neck then pelted with stones until she died in front of more than 1,000 people last week.

Third World County...always a Third World Country.
Posted by Ellen at 09:59 PM | Comments (1)
This is Annie and her Sewing Machine!

Posted by Ellen at 09:33 PM | Comments (0)
We Won, So Take Off, You Hoser

What better way to memorialize a war most people forget about after high school than a pair of giant toy soldier statues in front of an apartment building?

Posted by scott at 03:19 PM | Comments (3)
Your Next TV?

Televisions capable of showing 3D images without requiring the viewer to wear special glasses are on the way. If the article is accurate, the effect works but has limitations. Additionally, as with all new electronic tech the first generation is expensive, with the bigger sets scheduled to start at ~$15,000.

Posted by scott at 01:49 PM | Comments (6)
Hand Bugs

Well, if this study of the bacteria found on human hands is accurate, I've got interesting news and f'd up news:

Interesting: women have a more diverse set of bugs living on their hands

F'd up: It appears washing one's hands doesn't do much to change said diversity.

Let's shake on it!

Posted by scott at 01:46 PM | Comments (3)
Lunch: Not Yours

Mark gets a no-prize that'll squawk at the touch of a button for bringing us this video of a penguin doing whatever it takes to avoid becoming a whale snack. And boy, you can really tell those whales aren't happy about it one damned bit.

Posted by scott at 09:15 AM | Comments (0)
November 03, 2008
I Bet the Germans Will Be Surprised to Hear This

Ron gets a warped and slightly puzzled no-prize for bringing us news that Belgium, in fact, does not exist. I'd heard the same thing said about Idaho for years, and then someone who claimed he was from there showed up. Can we really trust Joshua? I think not! Idaho is a hoax! Idaho is a hoax!

Why, thank you for this new coat. My, isn't it funny how the sleeves go 'round the back?

Posted by scott at 03:30 PM | Comments (6)
Moon Bugs

First it was water that could be at the bottom of Shackleton crater. Now it would seem evidence for life itself may be down there. It's an interesting speculation, but until we send a probe of some sort to go look that'll be all it is.

Posted by scott at 02:21 PM | Comments (1)
It's Got a Good Beat and You Can Dance to it

Of course, now I have that damned melody stuck in my head. The things I do for you people...

Posted by scott at 01:04 PM | Comments (0)
Chicken Little is Hungry

Another day, another "giant swath of humanity's going to DIE Unless We Do Something About Climate Change NOW!!!" report. Unspoken is the glaring assumption that, when presented with a commodity with a decreasing supply and a rising price, human beings do not change their behavior. That assumption forms one of the deepest foundations of progressives and liberals of all stripes, which is why they never question it and why they always end up bitten on the ass by it.

Which is, in essence, another way of stating the old axiom: "Republicans disagree with Democrats because the former think the latter are wrong. Democrats disagree with Republicans because the former think the latter are stupid."

Which is why, even when they win, they lose.

Posted by scott at 12:06 PM | Comments (0)
Only Human

Nice to see the Democratic candidate isn't the only one with stories that tug the ol' heart strings:

A nurse entered and seemed surprised to find anyone there, and it wasn't long before I found out why: Almost no one visits anymore. In his time, which was not very long ago, Mo Udall was one of the most-sought-after men in the Democratic Party. Yet as he dies in a veterans hospital a few miles from the Capitol, he is visited regularly only by a single old political friend, John McCain. "He's not going to wake up this time," McCain said.

Oh, and for the record, I've never once claimed McCain was a messiah. That's what your side does with your candidate. The sad thing is it's the one thing your side has never once denied.

Posted by scott at 10:43 AM | Comments (2)
Paging Lisa R., White Courtesy Phone Please

I will now officially upgrade magpies to "damned dangerous":

Anelderly woman has been forced to have her leg amputated after it became infected and then gangrenous when she was pecked by a pet magpie.

This article includes a picture of an example of the miscreant.

Posted by scott at 08:55 AM | Comments (3)
November 02, 2008
I Can Haz Candid Camera?

Have cam, will travel:

Curiosity may kill the cat but now their inquisitive owners can find out exactly what their pets are getting up to - by hanging a tiny digital camera from their necks.

Ours would be long, continuous shots of whatever they happened to be sleeping on.

Posted by scott at 10:04 AM | Comments (0)
November 01, 2008
You're Doing it Wrong, Jeep Edition

Remember folks, trying to tow a car by its roof makes baby Jesus cry.

I think it's not as bad as it looks. As I recall, Jeeps are still body-on-frame vehicles, in which case all they probably did was rip the body off its mounts. Not good, but (maybe) not a total loss.

Ron gets a no-prize shaped like a tow hook for bringing us a brilliant Jeep FAIL.

Posted by scott at 03:36 PM | Comments (0)