December 31, 2011

Olivia found this one!

Posted by scott at 05:38 PM | Comments (0)
... Being Held Captive ...

I'm once again deep in the heart of (Yankee) darkness. Posting will be even less regular than it has been previously this week. Or not, you never know...

Posted by scott at 08:07 AM | Comments (0)
December 30, 2011
Self Reliance Increases Size!

Sometimes North Korea crudely photoshops pictures for obvious reasons. Other times, it's just some really weird sh- coming out of the place. Me, I still think it'll end up being some bizarre retouching, but I've been wrong before.

Posted by scott at 07:36 AM | Comments (0)
Goin' Mobile

Two small South Pacific nations have loaded up a particular sort of U-haul van. "Moves entire country" sounds a lot more interesting than "changed the clocks and the calendars," but the MSM in particular seems fascinated when people decide to change simple notions they consider absolute realities.

Posted by scott at 07:16 AM | Comments (0)


Posted by Ellen at 05:27 AM | Comments (1)
December 29, 2011
That Looks Familiar!

Look, ma, it's a VAB, with Chinese Characteristics. No, really! It's nice to know that, if it all fell in the pot tomorrow for my NASA peeps working on the manned side, they could always move to Jiuquan. It's never too late to learn mandarin!

Posted by scott at 07:00 PM | Comments (0)
He Hates These Smokes!!!

Fortunately we live in the US, where this only happens in the fevered dreams of wacky leftists (when our side is in charge): Turkish military admits to blowing up cigarette smugglers who were mistaken for Kurdish separatists. See? Smuggling cigarettes is bad. Just wanted to put that out there for, you know, some people...

Posted by scott at 05:45 PM | Comments (0)
2 Kool 4 Skool

Posted by scott at 02:59 PM | Comments (0)
Might Make Parting It a Little Easier

Scientists have confirmed fishermen's reports: there are new islands in the Red Sea. It's not clear if it'll last, and what with all the rocks being spat out at speed, it's not like you'll be visiting it any time soon. Volcanic activity seems to be on the rise in the region, so at least we all have something new to blame on Bush, donchaknow?

Posted by scott at 11:58 AM | Comments (0)
December 28, 2011

Alternate title: "~ Reindeer got run over then killed gramma ~". When it's your time, it's just your time. How my rural relatives have avoided this fate all these years, I will never know.

Posted by scott at 03:54 PM | Comments (0)
Yelling from Trees in Heaven

Cheetah, the chimp star of the old Tarzan movies, has died at the age 80. That's nearly twice the old average for captive chimps, so he's had one helluva run, indeed.

Posted by scott at 10:12 AM | Comments (0)
Adios, Subsidies!

Par for the course: by doing nothing, Congress does something good. Ending ethanol subsidies and tariffs will likely reduce the cost of fuels for everyone. Add in the growing capacity of alternative oil extraction, and we may yet return to the days of $1.50/gal fuel.

Posted by scott at 09:55 AM | Comments (0)
ET Hunt

By using a "crowdsourcing" application similar to the ones used by SETI and Galaxy Zoo, scientists are proposing a search for evidence that extraterrestrials once visited the moon. No, they're not proposing ET has visited. Rather, since we have a space probe up there sensitive enough to spot Apollo astronaut footprints, if there are any footprints made by anybody or anything else, we'd be able to see them. They're just proposing someone start to look.

Posted by scott at 09:04 AM | Comments (0)

When a fifteen foot crocodile wants something, it usually gets it. That's a lot of boots, bags, and belts right there, for sure. No, Ellen, you can't have one.

Posted by scott at 08:36 AM | Comments (0)
December 27, 2011
Heart of Madness

Canadian hipster film makers plus North Korea equals win! No, that's not what Communism is supposed to be. It's what Communism actually is. Theory never measures up to reality when it's implemented by people. Especially people from the Hermit Kingdom.

Posted by scott at 10:39 AM | Comments (0)

All right, once more, with feeling: do not post anything on-line you wouldn't say out loud, in public, within earshot of a priest, a policeman, and your mom. Of course this is a teenage boy. He'd probably shout "yo, dawg!" and confess in front of all three just for "teh lulz."

Posted by scott at 07:05 AM | Comments (0)
December 26, 2011

Posted by Ellen at 07:15 PM | Comments (0)
Why We Don't Let Olivia Use the Coinstar

Now that I think about it, I'm genuinely amazed this hasn't actually happened to us. Then again, considering she and her mother are chocoholics of the first order, chocolate *anything* generally doesn't last long enough to make it to storage of any sort.

Posted by scott at 05:21 PM | Comments (0)
Tortie Smarts

It looks like our tortoise Om may be a lot smarter than we give her credit for. She definitely seems to navigate the maze of our living room floor with relative ease. When, you know, she's not just sitting there, staring at the world.

Posted by scott at 04:09 PM | Comments (0)
Hmm... Awkward...

It's bad enough to find out your daughter is sleeping with the gym coach. It's worse if you're dating him, too. I'm pretty sure there isn't a hole deep enough to measure the amount of trouble Olivia would be in if she pulled a stunt like that. I'd like to think we'll teach her to be better than that, but I'm humble enough to acknowledge it's not a sure thing.

Posted by scott at 07:49 AM | Comments (0)
December 25, 2011
Aunt Chippy Wraps Some Presents

Posted by Ellen at 01:11 PM | Comments (0)
December 24, 2011
Christmas Pi


How did you get up there bird?*

*She got startled by the toaster this morning and flew around the room and ended up on the tree.

Posted by Ellen at 08:11 PM | Comments (0)
Your Thought for the Holiday

Posted by scott at 09:27 AM | Comments (0)
December 23, 2011
Oh, the Things They'll Say

"Ok, two eyes are separated by the nose, but her nose is below the eye, because both of her eyes are connected by one. That's why she's like Mike Wizowsky but she looks a little bit like Ruby but with different colored hair." -- Olivia, explaining very definitively, why the Ruby Doom character Iris has one eye.

Posted by scott at 05:33 PM | Comments (0)
~ But Do You Recall / The Most Profitable Reindeer of All ~

A rediscovered scrap book is providing intimate details on the origin of everyone's favorite Abominable Snow Man decoy. It'll warm the hearts of everyone convinced corporate greed is at the root of, well, everything, right up to the point when the owners of the copyright just handed it to the guy who cooked it up after the death of his wife.

Posted by scott at 05:18 PM | Comments (0)
Critter Mystery

Fossils which were once thought to show Cambrian-era life existing in the older, more mysterious Ediacaran period has, naturally, been challenged, and then challenged again. The current thinking is still just about as weird. Life that ancient is fascinating to me, because it's so incredibly different than what's around today, yet we are quite clearly related to it. Most of the time, anyway.

Posted by scott at 09:01 AM | Comments (0)
Shuttin' Down the 70s

With the exception of the fabulously expensive cockpit revamp they only ended up using half a dozen times, it's an opportunity to see what state-of-the-art looked like in 1979. They were fabulous achievements, but (IMO) not particularly successful vehicles. Yes, yes, I know why, and they're good reasons, mostly involving bad decisions and poor compromises. Me, I'm rooting for SpaceX!

Posted by scott at 08:50 AM | Comments (0)
December 22, 2011
I Can Haz Santa's Sleigh?

View more videos at:

Posted by Ellen at 09:02 PM | Comments (0)
Traveling Swaps

Most, well... all, cats are not worth their weight in gold. Our sole remaining cat is not worth 3/4ths her weight in gold. Yet someone is still willing to trade Cats4Gold. I would believe they could crap, puke, and pee their own weight in gold, probably in just a month or two.

Then there's a cat who survived a 200 mile trip under the hood of a car. It nearly ended up in Cleveland. What a save!

Posted by scott at 03:04 PM | Comments (0)
That's... Not Mine

A ship carrying 160 tons of explosives and nearly 70 "Patriot" missiles bound for China has been stopped in Finland. Hey, they labeled the missiles as fireworks! They're really just super-fancy bottle-rockets anyway, right? Right? Which catalog can I order those out of, anyway?

Posted by scott at 01:15 PM | Comments (0)
Your Thought for the Day

Posted by scott at 12:11 PM | Comments (2)

For even more evidence that junkies are idiots we have the case of the man who died after eating the cocaine stuffed up his brother's backside. Wait a minute. If they were handcuffed that would mean he might've had to... EWWWW!!!!!

Posted by scott at 11:11 AM | Comments (0)
The More You Know...

Federal prosecutors are so worried about jury nullification they're trying to toss an old man into jail for handing out leaflets. Some zealous new lawyers in that prosecutor's office are in the process of a much-needed lesson in How Not to Handle the Press right now, I'll wager, in addition to the classic Freedom of Speech - Not Just for When You Like It classes.

Oh, and the lesson that should get more teaching is in there as well: when the case goes to the jury, they are the law. It is absolutely legal to find a defendant "not guilty" in spite of any evidence, if you feel the law is simply wrong.

Posted by scott at 09:27 AM | Comments (0)
Survivor: Solar System

The old "will it eat us/won't it eat us" debate about just what the sun will do to the Earth once it expands into its red giant phase has just gotten a new wrinkle. I knew the outer layers of a dying star were pretty nebulous, but not by that much. It's all billions of years in the future, so I think we'll be fine if we hit the snooze button and miss it.

Posted by scott at 06:47 AM | Comments (0)
12 Days Of Christmas Pet Style!

Jupiter the cat and his friends sing their latest hit!

Posted by Ellen at 06:35 AM | Comments (0)

And now, a 100 year-old Christmas cake. Article includes oh-so-appetizing picture of same. I'm not completely convinced it's legit, but why not? You take the first piece!

Posted by scott at 06:29 AM | Comments (0)
December 21, 2011
Just Don't Drop It

It never ceases to amaze me that, after a lifelong study of WWII aviation, there are still things out there to be discovered. Can't do that as easily nowadays, since I'm pretty sure wood (or even metal) won't stand up all that well hanging from a modern jet fighter. Then again, maybe a scrubbed-out drop tank would do the trick.

Posted by scott at 04:05 PM | Comments (0)
Welcome Back to the Jungle

Guns and Roses is being inducted into the Rock and Roll hall of fame, and the LA Times managed to pin Axl down for an interview about it. It seems like, at least for that moment at any rate, Axl's finally calming down and actually having fun with it all. Chinese Democracy got good reviews but, from what I could hear, next to no air time. Maybe his tour will liven things up.

Posted by scott at 02:50 PM | Comments (0)
You'd Think They'd Make a Strap for That, or Something

A woman who's repeated miscarriages were apparently the result of the fetus literally falling out has successfully carried a pregnancy to term. I'm very happy for them, but that's definitely got to rank right up there in the, "exactly what went wrong?" list.

Posted by scott at 01:58 PM | Comments (0)

Today's "innocent item that will kill you in a horrific way" is... [spins the media wheel of hysteria] ... Neti pots. For those of you who have not married into a family enamored of magic potions and mystic chotchkies, neti pots are used to flush out the sinus cavities. Basically, the user sticks the spout of a teapot up their nose and pours. No, really! I knew I should've taken pictures when Ellen was using hers regularly.

At any rate, two people in Louisiana woke up dead lately, victims of a neurological disease called "primary amoebic meningoencephalitis." Since there wasn't any other obvious reason, the state's health department shot out a press release which may have included the absolutely delightful phrase, "brain-eating amoebas." Quicker than you can shriek, "flesh eating bacteria!!!!" pow, we have our latest public health hysteria. And just in time for Christmas!

That this disease is "exceptionally rare," even though the critter that causes it is "extremely common" and "extremely sensitive to chlorine," and absolutely the only way infection occurs is "direct contact with the olfactory nerve, which is only exposed at the extreme vertical terminus of the paranasal sinuses," 1 we encounter nowhere in the original article.

In other words, unless you enjoy filling a teapot with tap water and then pouring it UP your nose, a lot, you're fine, and so am I. Ellen, on the other hand, well, I'm just glad she lost the thing years ago.

Posted by scott at 10:31 AM | Comments (0)
Dirty Planet

Scientists using the Hubble space telescope have found indications that Pluto may be covered with organic molecules. It seems there's something on the surface that's absorbing a lot of ultraviolet life, and that could very well be organics. I blame Dick Cheney.

Posted by scott at 08:46 AM | Comments (0)
Persian Go "Boom"

Somebody is still exploding key bits of Iran. The Revolutionary Guard are a bunch of thugs, so no tears for them. Like I said, if it keeps the mad mullahs from getting the bomb without resorting to outright war, I'm all for it!

Posted by scott at 07:00 AM | Comments (0)
Particles in the Dark

Told ya: the data resulting from the search for the Higgs boson has already proved a few alternatives to the Standard Model wrong. Personally I'd be happy if the whole dark matter/dark energy thing went away completely, but I've read enough about them both to know that, if that were to happen, they'd have to be replaced with something. Because this is physics we're talking about, it'd likely be something even weirder.

Posted by scott at 06:45 AM | Comments (0)
December 20, 2011
Your Thought for the Day

Posted by scott at 09:58 PM | Comments (0)
I Think That's Worth a Golf Clap

Some enterprising Dutchmen have managed to make off with an entire jet fighter. True, the F-104 is one of the smaller examples of the breed, but it's still a freaking airplane. Oh, I don't doubt they'll be caught, but, dude, nice job!

Posted by scott at 06:16 PM | Comments (0)
Hot Metal

Scientists have discovered that, when under intense pressure and extremely high temperature, iron will change its electrical properties without changing its structure. This esoteric-sounding discovery has profound implications for what makes the Earth's core tick, and may reveal a new, previously undiscovered, type of metallisation. Yes, metallisation. That's how they spelled it!

Posted by scott at 01:31 PM | Comments (0)

Remember all the wailing and rending of shirts about how Obama has made it legal to toss anyone they please into jail and leave them there forever? You know, that "indefinitely imprison American citizens without charge" stuff? Yeah, about that... I thought it was rather telling that when I went digging around just to see what the hell they were so up in arms about, I couldn't find one, not one, source which detailed what it exactly was that Obama had signed.

Posted by scott at 12:04 PM | Comments (0)
Fun with Guesses

So, the conditions at the center of Jupiter are so extreme nothing on Earth can model them? Oh, hey, why not make some "scientific discoveries" about it then? You'd think that if Jupiter had been gnawing at its own core for four and a half billion years there really wouldn't be all that much left nowadays.

Posted by scott at 07:06 AM | Comments (0)

While the initial report makes it seem like they were right out there in the open, even getting it on in a car below a lighted sign shows some pretty poor judgement. Sheriff. The boy-toy just makes it that much sillier. Really, people, get a room!

Posted by scott at 06:39 AM | Comments (0)
December 19, 2011

California's latest attempt to force kids to do the right thing is having the expected result. Well, expected only if you believe outlawing something really does cause it to disappear. But there's more to it than that, check out their menu choices:

[B]lack bean burgers, tostada salad, fresh pears ... beef jambalaya, vegetable curry, pad Thai, lentil and brown rice cutlets, and quinoa and black-eyed pea salads ... Caribbean meatball sauce ...

How much does all that stuff cost? Even better:

Andre Jahchan, a 16-year-old sophomore at Esteban Torres High School, said the food was "super good" at the summer tasting at L.A. Unified's central kitchen. But on campus, he said, the chicken pozole was watery, the vegetable tamale was burned and hard, and noodles were soggy.

Cheap food is not cheap because it tastes good, it's cheap because it's easy to make. A great recipe will always taste great when prepared by a highly skilled, and motivated, kitchen. I obviously haven't seen the inside of a public school cafeteria in a long time but "skilled" and "motivated" were not words I would choose to describe the staff of the ones I did see, and I doubt much has changed.

So, let's review: at (presumably) great expense a group of bureaucrats came up with a school lunch menu that was undeniably healthy but completely ignored the practicalities of customer taste, cost of materials, and the skill of the preparation staff. Yes. These are exactly the sorts of people who should be trusted to competently and fairly redistribute the wealth of the 1% to us 99%-ers. They are doing such a stellar job at everything else, donchaknow?

Posted by scott at 04:16 PM | Comments (0)
Tacky? Me?


No, I'm Buddhist. It means I'm coming back as a bug, not going to a "heated room."

Posted by scott at 11:59 AM | Comments (0)
Statues of Oblivion

I dunno, me, I think living to 105 and having statues of me scattered all through Manhattan isn't that bad of a life, especially since the lady seemed to be a complete nutter. Then again, I think the world could do without a bunch of statues of a naked, middle-aged computer programmer, so I think I'll take a pass. The whole 105 thing though, I'll hold my hand up for that.

Posted by scott at 09:03 AM | Comments (0)
Discovering Retirement

The space shuttle Discovery has been turned off for the very last time. A bit sad, yes, but it at least sounds like they spent a ton of money ensuring it was properly preserved. Look at it this way: it's not like they're leaving it moldering in the tropical heat for thirty years. Bonus: Looks like it'll be showing up around here some time in April. Mark your calendars!

Posted by scott at 06:59 AM | Comments (0)
December 18, 2011
Drone Problems

Yup, I'm not the only one to suspect the Iranians' story of how they "hijacked" that drone is full of hooey. According to this article, the Iranians didn't even know the drone had crashed for a few days. I'm still really puzzled how it ended up so intact. As anyone who's watched a Discovery channel documentary about plane crashes (and really, who hasn't?) knows, when aircraft crash there's usually not all that much left at the end. It's almost as if it belly landed.

Posted by scott at 07:55 AM | Comments (0)
December 17, 2011
Not Your Average Snowmen

Posted by Ellen at 05:35 PM | Comments (0)
Tiny Celestial Terror

Scientists believe they have discovered the smallest known black hole. They're not sure how far away it is exactly, but at a minimum of 16,000 light years we've got nothing to worry about. The thing is "only" three solar masses, which in the grand scheme of things is pretty darned small.

Posted by scott at 09:42 AM | Comments (0)
December 16, 2011
Ho-Ho- OH NO!!!!

Posted by Ellen at 09:17 PM | Comments (0)
You Light Them All From Your Left

Posted by Ellen at 08:58 PM | Comments (0)
Small Can be Good

The world's shortest teenaged girl is now the world's shortest woman. No, no, you sicko, not like that. She just turned 18. Ah, geeze, someone go get the smelling salts. I think Ron and Mark are going to pass out from all that giggling.

Posted by scott at 10:36 AM | Comments (0)
Not The Ta-Tas!!

During a Pilates stretching exercise known as a Valsalva maneuver the woman reported that her "body swallowed one of the implants," according to the account published in the New England Journal of Medicine.
Suddenly I am afraid of doing Pilates.
Posted by Ellen at 07:15 AM | Comments (0)
Drone Down Update

So, the Iranians are now claiming to have tricked that UAV into landing on its own. On the face of it, seems reasonable enough. However, drones don't have to rely on GPS for navigation, and likely don't. The ability to navigate precisely without outside reference has been in the US toolkit since ALCMs (nuclear cruise missiles) went operational in the 70s. I'm thinking a bug or an operator failure caused the drone to accidentally rely only on GPS, and after who knows how many tries the Iranians managed to make their neat trick work. In other words, assuming the story is true at all, the Iranians used a bit of skill and a great big pot of dumb luck to succeed.

Assuming it's true at all. I've always thought that drone was a really weird color, very different from the various camouflage schemes I've seen in the past. I would not be surprised if it turns out the thing is made of paper mache and tin.

Posted by scott at 06:54 AM | Comments (0)
Angel of the Night

The soon-to-be-obsolete Hubble telescope is not going quietly. Yes, it would look pretty on top of a tree, but at 30 octillion tons it'd have to be a really big tree.

Posted by scott at 06:36 AM | Comments (0)
Stay Off Her Lawn

Unfortunately, no matter how irritated you get, it's not a good idea to wave shotguns at people just because. Yet another crazy person wobbling off their meds, I'll wager. At least nobody got hurt.

Posted by scott at 06:17 AM | Comments (0)
December 15, 2011
Kick Ass Red


Guess who got a NEW RED BELT today!?

Next step. BLACK. GO O!

Posted by Ellen at 09:37 PM | Comments (1)
That's a Mighty Big Candle

Astronomers are going gaga over the nearest type IA supernova seen since 1986. This type of supernova happens when a white dwarf of a specific sort of composition sucks off enough material from a companion star to initiate a catastrophic fusion event, so violent it destroys the dwarf outright. In the process it also creates a lot of heavier elements, most of which are required for things like us to exist.

Posted by scott at 01:36 PM | Comments (0)
Shuttling Paper

Space shuttle Enterprise is now officially owned by Yankees. Poor thing. On the bright side, us wily Southerners are trading it for a for-real space shuttle, Discovery. I'm thinking it really will be a swap, with Discovery showing up on the 747 that'll take Enterprise to its new home. That'll definitely be a day to think about taking off from work. I have no idea where they'll do the switch. I guess those cranes they use can be transported?

Posted by scott at 12:20 PM | Comments (0)
Not Exactly a Hallmark Moment

We've all heard stories about guys who dated girls who turned out to be guys. This is what it's like to be the "other" party (SFW). Since this is a) happening between consenting adults, b) keeps them out of trouble, and c) is not happening on my lawn, I'm fine with it. Not that it matters to them. More power to 'em, I guess is what I'm trying to say.

Posted by scott at 10:08 AM | Comments (0)
Wal Mart Wishes

Color me unsurprised: a former Wal Mart employee chronicles government assistance and the people who use it. Long-term poverty is the hallmark of people with extremely poor decision-making skills. Helping them improve those skills should be a goal of any assistance but, alas, that will never happen. It would reduce their dependence on the state, and That Will Not Do.

Posted by scott at 07:10 AM | Comments (0)
Dragon's Flattop

A commercial satellite company inadvertently took pictures of China's new-to-them aircraft carrier on sea trials. Doesn't look like it has its air wing embarked. All I can make out is a white bus-like vehicle forward and maybe a single helicopter aft. Come to think of it, I'm not sure China has fielded an air wing for it yet.

Posted by scott at 06:34 AM | Comments (0)
December 14, 2011
IPadding to a New Day

That swirling sound you're hearing is the start of the rumor mill for the next version of the iPad. I still can't see paying so much money for it, but I've always felt that way about Apple's products. Other friends of mine are positively fanatical about the things. All I can say is, out with the old, in with the new!

Posted by scott at 02:45 PM | Comments (0)
We're #2! We're #2!

I dunno, having one of our favorite cars picked as the second "hottest" car of all time is pretty snazzy. So is having one like we actually own also in the list. Don't worry, there's plenty of love to go around. I'm sure one car or another you love will be in there somewhere. There will also be quite a few missing, but that's the nature of lists. And boy, do they love TVR, or what?

Posted by scott at 11:58 AM | Comments (0)
Your Thought for the Day

Posted by scott at 09:56 AM | Comments (0)
JSF of Woe

Not only is the F-35 program in trouble, it's in a lot of trouble. Oh, I don't doubt they'll eventually work it all out, and that the F-35 will be a formidable weapon system. The problem I have is how much it will cost to get there, and how long it will take. I'd like to think this will lead to fundamental changes in the way the government handles defense procurement. We certainly need them.

That said, it's been like this basically forever, at least for the past sixty years or so. If it hasn't changed yet I don't really know what it would take to change now.

Posted by scott at 07:09 AM | Comments (0)
Meant to Do That!

Today's "head explodes with candy" moment comes to us courtesy of a clumsy panda cub. As if there's any other sort of panda cub. Looks like the panda's fine. I guess they bounce pretty well at that age.

Posted by scott at 06:54 AM | Comments (0)
Comet Fishing

A team at NASA has decided to solve the problem of sampling a spinning, spewing comet by harpooning it. Bonus: it uses a giant metal crossbow to fire the probe. I think they should call it "Ahab."

Posted by scott at 06:40 AM | Comments (0)
December 13, 2011
I Can Haz Slurp?

Scientists have completed yet another study on how cats drink. I could've sworn NOVA or some discovery show figured just this out years ago. At any rate, according to the article it was all done for free, so it's not like tax dollars were used or anything. Meanwhile, on the same campus, they've got a camera capable of visualizing the movement of light.

Posted by scott at 02:43 PM | Comments (0)
Abandoned Copyright Infringement

Hey! Look! The Chinese even tried to copy Disneyland. Unfortunately for those of us wondering what an "amusing rat with Chinese characteristics" might turn out to look like, the project was abandoned years ago. The ruins are still fun to look at, although I'd tend to heed the warnings about toxic substances more than the local farmers appear to be.

Posted by scott at 12:59 PM | Comments (0)
Bird's Gotta Fly, Fish Gotta Walk

A new examination of just how the African lungfish gets around may force scientists to re-write the evolution of land animals. The weird trackways which are a hallmark of vertebrates hauling themselves out of the muck my have in fact been made by fish, not their tetrapod descendants.

Posted by scott at 11:54 AM | Comments (0)
Shaking Perspective

Nothing like a good, simple, visual representation to put just how powerful an earthquake can get in perspective. I was a little disappointed to see our DC-area earthquake fade into the distance, until I remembered what Japan looked, hell LOOKS, like after their recent "big one." I'll take a small earthquake every time, thank you.

Oh, and remind me to avoid Sumatra.

Posted by scott at 10:03 AM | Comments (0)
Captain Obvious in the Lab

All I can say is, if I were the foundation that ponied up the grant that funded this, I'd want my money back: "Researchers collated their results and discovered that alcohol consumption affects decision-making, and that this impact rises with the amount of alcohol consumed." Really? Really? Go for the mush-headed press release, stay and stare at Ramona, the transgendered football linebacker pondering "her story."

Posted by scott at 06:56 AM | Comments (0)
Rollin' Along

Aussies take note: the world's oldest Alfa Romeo is going to be driving through Tasmania. Since my grasp of Australian geography can be be termed, "it's somewhere on the other side of the planet, yes?" you will have to work out just how far away that is from you on your own. In other news, the world's oldest Alfa Romeo is kept in... New Zealand. Never saw that coming.

Posted by scott at 06:49 AM | Comments (0)
An Egg from the Past

"For decades, many children in this part of the Hudson Valley bypassed Santa’s lap, favoring the company of Eggbert the talking egg, a holiday fixture at Devitt’s Nursery and Supply on Route 32. Eggbert always seemed to remember their names." Ok, it seems Ellen's holiday wackiness has an origin. Yankees are weird.

Posted by scott at 06:30 AM | Comments (0)
December 12, 2011
Magic Math

The Wall Street Journal has a glowing review of Magical Mathematics, a book which examines the relationship between card tricks and mathematics. Turns out it's a lot closer than you'd think. The book also, apparently, provides illustrated examples of the various tricks discussed. Time to break out the deck!

Posted by scott at 03:02 PM | Comments (0)
Dragon's Death Row

Making the rounds: a set of older photos is offering a rare glimpse into life on death row in China. The full set of photos is here. No death or gore, just strangely eerie pictures of women convicted of breaking the law in a society which executes many more individuals for such things than does the US.

Posted by scott at 01:13 PM | Comments (0)
Piggybank of America

Witness the wonders of finance in a multi-child household. Because Olivia's our only one, our jobs are much simplified. Which is not an accident. She tends to trade on good behavior and grades to get what she wants. We're fine with that, it provides the right incentives.

Posted by scott at 11:44 AM | Comments (0)
Higgs Hunt Harvest

Turns out physicists aren't all that much different after all. Witness the sewing-circle excitement over what is presumed to be an announcement of the discovery of the Higgs boson. In fact it is a big deal, since right now there are a range of theories vying to replace or supplement the current Standard Model of physics, and just where the Higgs is and what it really looks like will likely cull many members of that herd. Oh, it won't make any sense to the likes of us, but it'll still be cool!

Posted by scott at 06:59 AM | Comments (0)
Nutz to You

For those of you who long ago grew sick of looking at replica man-bits hanging off car trailer hitches: be careful what you wish for (SFW). Haven't seen any of this around here, so far at any rate. Our customizers tend to be of the "beaded seat cover and gold-and-red-crowns" sort, if you catch my meaning.

Posted by scott at 06:24 AM | Comments (0)
December 11, 2011
Stamo's Guide to Snuggling

Posted by Ellen at 03:11 PM | Comments (0)
All These Worlds...

NASA is mulling over proposals to send two landers to Europa. Olivia would be in her mid-20s when one or both finally landed, if they build them at all. Still, you have to start somewhere, eh?

Posted by scott at 08:46 AM | Comments (0)
A Sequel, for the Rest of Us

Chris W. gets a no-prize that'll fizz when he shakes it for bringing us the latest antics of those diet soda guys. It definitely looks like Coke Zero has more energy in it than Diet Coke. That trigger mechanism seems pretty cool, too. I wonder what those plastic rods are for?

Posted by scott at 08:28 AM | Comments (0)
December 09, 2011
Paging Remy, White Courtesy Phone Please

Scientists have discovered that, far from being the beastly creatures of nightmare, rats appear to have empathy, and co-operate with each other. Females seem to be more likely to do so than males, who occasionally "take a day off." Sounds about right. No, Ellen, you can't have one.

Posted by scott at 03:09 PM | Comments (0)
Toy Time

First comes the Daily Mail's look at what was in UK Christmas catalogs in 1976, which was good. But the FARK comment thread is even better. I had no idea most FARKers (who comment, at any rate) are roughly my age, as I recognize nearly everything in those pictures. Some of them I hadn't thought of in years. I actually own a few Flying Aces items, they were uber-cheap on Ebay in the 90s. The Vertibird is why I got into RC flying.

Posted by scott at 02:13 PM | Comments (1)
It's Time to Play the Music, Comrade

This just in: the Muppets are a Marxist front organization. An amusing example of people taking themselves way too seriously, or an embarrassing example of my side coughing up the ball? I guess it all depends on which side of the peanut gallery you're sitting.

Posted by scott at 12:24 PM | Comments (0)
Bunk Plane

International and other long-haul fliers take note: for the first time in decades, an airliner has created something to increase passenger comfort in coach. It's not exactly free, but nothing ever really is. My only problem would be that there are three of us, and that bit of space probably won't fit three, especially when the smallest enjoys sleeping sideways.

Posted by scott at 10:36 AM | Comments (0)
Oh Cursed, Wretched Day

The sharks, they jump themselves: upcoming Glee holiday episode to feature Chewbacca. Hey, if it means Mayhew gets some cash for Christmas, I guess I'm OK with it. Ellen: "well, that proves they'll desecrate anything." She takes it more seriously than I do.

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

Now that the voice recorder has been found, the final chapter of what happened on Air France 447 can be written. After all this time and with all this automation, it is still more than possible for smart, educated people to fly an airplane into the ground. Or, in this case, water.

Posted by scott at 06:50 AM | Comments (0)
Well That's Reassuring

It turns out emptying the magazine of an AR-15 at the White House from a half-mile away isn't the only thing that marked the guy out as crazy. On reflection, it probably is just a coincidence this guy was party of the Occupy movement. This particular sort of "Coke Classic Crazy" regularly makes its appearance around this town. I used to work with a few of them.

Posted by scott at 06:36 AM | Comments (0)
December 08, 2011
Drone Discovery

It looks as if the Persians really have managed to get their hands on a US drone. Either whatever happened damaged the landing gear, or they don't know exactly how to extend it. Either way, not a great day for keeping secret hardware secret, since there is absolutely no way this will stay out of the hands of the Chinese and/or Russians. For a fee, of course.

Posted by scott at 02:25 PM | Comments (0)
Big Bones

Apparently sick of being beaten like an NFC East team, North American paleontologists have taken the title of "largest dinosaur" away from their South American counterparts. More than just bragging rights are in play, as the new description could change the way we think about how these giant sauropods were related to each other.

Posted by scott at 10:26 AM | Comments (1)
Surf the Gym

Exercise bikes not your cup of tea? Treadmills boring? Don't care how good you'll look in your "summer dress?" Try surfing! Yes, you heard me, surfing! Will this be Suzanne's next exercise craze? Will Kevin actually be murdered by a workout machine? Will Amber have a new thing to fall off of? Only time will tell!

Posted by scott at 08:40 AM | Comments (2)
It Had... Anime Eyes

Scientists have finally confirmed the very first apex predator had excellent vision. In a sea filled with creatures measuring no more than a few inches, the three-foot long Anomalarcus pretty much defined "giant."

Posted by scott at 06:47 AM | Comments (0)
December 07, 2011
Someone Needs to Tell Them They're Early

So, what you're trying to tell me is that an alien race capable of building a spacecraft the size of a freaking planet is having their nefarious plot foiled by a, well, let's be honest, a sun fart? See, that's the problem I have with just about every conspiracy theory out there. They all require the bad guys to be inhumanly (ha!) brilliant, right up until "we" notice, then they're suddenly as dumb as a rock with a tomato on it.

By the way, I thought it was supposed to be 12-12-2012??? Looks like someone didn't synch their watch or something!

Posted by scott at 10:10 PM | Comments (0)
Tonka Truck

Great. Now we'll start seeing ridiculous little pickup trucks wandering around the mall soon. These cars make sense in the downtown of the dense ancient cities of Europe, which naturally means they're quite common in my suburban Virginia environs. It must be a damned interesting commute in one of these things on the toll road, that's all I'm saying.

Posted by scott at 04:15 PM | Comments (0)
Diamond Buzz

Scientists have demonstrated the ability to manifest what Einstein called "spooky action at a distance" by using lasers and diamonds. The current experiment has no commercial application and it's not clear if information can in fact be transmitted using this method. But it is pretty neat, if difficult to understand.

Posted by scott at 01:48 PM | Comments (0)
Dynamo Twirl

So, you want to model the Earth's core for magnetic experiments? Take 28,000 pounds of sodium and call me in the morning. Liquid sodium, no less. Definitely not something you'd want to have rupture, I'd warrant. And heck, they're not completely sure it'll even work. A scientist's dream grant, that.

Posted by scott at 12:26 PM | Comments (0)
Next Up: Speeder Bikes

For the motorcyclist in your life who needs to get his nerd on in traffic: functional Storm Trooper leathers. The helmets aren't DOT rated, but it appears everything else is. I didn't bother trying to find out how much it might cost.

Posted by scott at 09:32 AM | Comments (0)
Science, FTW!

Scientists have announced the creation of a new, more durable, vaccine for the Ebola virus. It's still in (what I understand to be) early animal trials, but the results seem promising.

Posted by scott at 06:50 AM | Comments (0)
Cannonball Run

Fans of the show will nod and note it was really only a matter of time: the Mythbusters finally blew a hole in the wall of someone's house. Nobody was hurt, but I'm sure their insurance company is not in a happy place right now. Here's to hoping they're able to keep doing the show!

Posted by scott at 06:31 AM | Comments (0)
December 06, 2011
Which One O' Youz da U Boat Captain?

Lord bless this, thy Wikipedia, without which we would never have known about the U-boat that visited Rhode Island before setting back out to sea and sinking six freighters, in daylight, on the surface, surrounded by US destroyers. Funny because, remarkably, absolutely no-one got hurt in the operation. Remarkably, U-53 survived the war and died "in its bed," turned into razorblades in 1922.

Posted by scott at 11:45 AM | Comments (0)
~ Hard to Believe It's Getting Better / It's Getting Better, All the Time ~

I guess that, if I read it often enough, I really will get my head around this: oil companies are now set to have most of their investment, and production, in North America, Europe, and Australia. That's right, folks, we genuinely seem to be on the verge of kicking Hajji and His Merry Explosive Friends to the curb. And, the thing is, the reason why this new production is expensive now is because the companies are paying off all their R&D expenses. Once those are gone, prices will drop, and fast.

I always knew peak oil was full of hooey. I had no idea the proof would be found in North Dakota, Alberta, and off the coast of Western Australia.

Posted by scott at 09:16 AM | Comments (2)
Outpost Report

Remember the Voyager probes? They're still out there, and still doing science. I'll give them this, when NASA does get something right it usually stays that way for an inordinate amount of time. It better, for what we pay for it.

Posted by scott at 06:59 AM | Comments (0)
Paging Alice in Chains, White Courtesy Phone Please

Look, people, if living with an Italian from New York has taught me anything, it's taught me nothing good comes of a shallow grave. Bonus: perp seems to be complaining that stun guns do not work "as advertised." Hopefully he'll be able to collect his refund in jail.

Posted by scott at 06:43 AM | Comments (0)
December 05, 2011
Snake in a Christmas Tree

Not such a welcome ornament in that house.

Posted by Ellen at 09:04 PM | Comments (1)
Tiny Terror II

Problem: drones are too small to carry current bombs. Solution: Smaller bombs. Duh. Precision guidance means never having to say your sorry. Personally, considering how accurate these things are getting nowadays, I'm a little surprised they haven't thought about dropping guided lumps of cast iron. No explosion, no collateral damage, no problem!

Posted by scott at 03:58 PM | Comments (0)
Pictures of Exclusion

Ever wonder what Chernobyl might've looked like just a few months after the disaster. I'm thinking it looked like this, only with more vodka and fewer vending machines. Japan is, of course, both richer and better organized than the Soviets. It'll be interesting to see if this can all be reclaimed, or if it will join Chernobyl as another ghost town that glows in the dark.

Posted by scott at 03:18 PM | Comments (0)
Deep Hole

Scientists have announced the discovery of the most massive black holes found to-date. One of them is 21 times more massive than our Sun and has a diameter ten times the size of our whole solar system. The discoveries were larger than expected, and could have implications for galaxy formation theories.

Posted by scott at 12:37 PM | Comments (1)
That's Some Expensive Pasta

Funny because nobody got seriously hurt: an exotic car outing ends in a spectacular smash-up. The cars are expensive not just because they're fast. Some of that engineering definitely goes into making them safer. In other words, if you're going to have a crash going 100+ mph, you could do a lot worse than one of these.

Japan is famous for being ultra-strict on speeders. It wouldn't surprise me if people ended up in jail over this.

Posted by scott at 09:49 AM | Comments (0)
Paging Mr. McFly, White Courtesy Phone Please

A new wrinkle in the saga of the Large Hadron Collider: a man claiming to be from the future was apprehended trespassing on the premises. "Countries do not exist where I am from. The discovery of the Higgs boson led to limitless power, the elimination of poverty and Kit-Kats for everyone. It is a communist chocolate hellhole and I'm here to stop it ever happening."

Well that's comforting.

Posted by scott at 06:41 AM | Comments (1)
December 04, 2011
Infommercial Only Shown At 3 AM

Posted by Ellen at 08:57 PM | Comments (0)
And So...

... it begins, with football. When I attended the University of Arkansas, Sam Walton was still alive, Tyson's Chicken was just hitting its stride, and JB Hunt trucking was finally making people sit up and notice all these weird yellow 18 wheelers everywhere. Each one had a corporate headquarters within an hour's drive of my alma mater. When I graduated, it was still a smallish land grant school scrabbling for funds. Nowadays, it's an institution with a billion-plus endowment. Times change.

Posted by scott at 08:01 PM | Comments (0)

cute animals - Curiosity Dilated the Owl's Pupils
see more Daily Squee
Posted by Ellen at 07:16 PM | Comments (0)
A Digital Christmas

Posted by Ellen at 07:07 PM | Comments (0)
December 02, 2011
New York Noir

I guess it's not surprising a brilliant film-maker can also be a great photographer. Kubrick would've been, what, late teens, early twenties at that point? I have a feeling a few of them may not have been as spontaneous as the rest seem.

Posted by scott at 01:56 PM | Comments (0)
What's in a Name?

The scientific body responsible for naming elements has made its choice for the two newest discoveries, but if you act now you can suggest better ones. I would suggest "ScottIsAwsomium" and "Johnsonium," but I figure I'd let one of you guys win this one.

Posted by scott at 12:17 PM | Comments (0)

So they say welfare mothers are a myth. I say oh, really? Unfortunately a society which provides a safety net for people who really need it will often find it being used by people who don't. A free society for the smart also means a free society for the stupid, and enabling the state to go all Darth Vader on someone like this means it can go Darth Vader on me, too.

Posted by scott at 08:41 AM | Comments (1)
Epic Featherbed

Amazing it's only been a year, but Damn You Autocorrect is celebrating it in style. I'm still not completely convinced any of them are real, but Ellen goofs autocorrect often enough to make me think it's plausible. Me? I've got one of those slide-out keyboards on my phone for a reason.

Posted by scott at 06:33 AM | Comments (0)
December 01, 2011

Reason #62 why I'd suck as a junkie's friend: if this is what I have to do to wake you up, your ass is dead. Everyone who thought using a sharpie marker on the face of their passed out friend just got a whole other interesting set of ways to wake them up. Me, I'll stick to whacking the soles of their feet. "Why couldn't that technique have been used for Uma Thurman instead of the needle?"

Posted by scott at 04:07 PM | Comments (0)
Big Bug

And now, a cricket eating a carrot. Not just any cricket, mind you, it's a cricket about the size of a tennis ball. Meh. I'm sure there are mosquitoes nearly that big somewhere in southeast Arkansas. They don't call it the state bird for nothing!

Posted by scott at 02:00 PM | Comments (0)
Texas Quick

It seems the Bugatti Veyron has a challenger. I honestly didn't think it was possible for such a boutique manufacturer to survive in the US, let alone in the regulatory environment to be found in Obama's US. It's nice to see I'm wrong.

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

Tick off a bunch of college kids, and all you get are smelly hippies camping in a park. Tick off an Indian snake charmer and the results are different, to say the least. No, Ellen, you can't have one.

Posted by scott at 10:05 AM | Comments (0)
Gene Skeeter

A genetic engineering company is on the verge of granting every southerner in the United Sates their most fervent wish: the extinction of all mosquito-kind. This one's not just a lab experiment, it's been tested successfully in the wild. Oh, yes, there's the standard angst about "what can go wrong?" and "what hath we wrought?" but those are the worries of people who don't live with the little bastards. I will be the first to hold a party when the last of those critters hits the dirt.

Posted by scott at 06:25 AM | Comments (0)