May 31, 2012
Not So Different From the Real Thing

Forget whether Obama was born in the US. Ace of Spades asks the serious question: what if Obama is actually the Superman doppelganger Bizarro? With quotes like "Eca, ecanomix... Jobz? Jobz simple. Me punish job creators until they destroyed. Then me say "Ha ha ha!" Then they make jobz," one has to wonder.

Posted by scott at 02:58 PM | Comments (0)
Referencing the Future

I'll be making payments on my new laptop for a few years, but those of you mulling over a new system might be interested in what Intel thinks the next "ultrabook" will look like. No, it won't impress the wild-eyed fruit fanatics, but for actual mortals it looks pretty sweet. That said, I'm more fond of a 15" form factor. Maybe that's because I've never spent much time with the smaller fry.

Posted by scott at 01:48 PM | Comments (0)
Welcome Home

SpaceX's Dragon capsule has successfully splashed down in the Pacific. They filled it full of trash and sent it on its way, and six hours later it went "sploosh." Or, maybe, "kersplash." I dunno. You make up the noise it made.

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

Having solved all other problems, the mayor of NYC has decided 16 oz. is plenty for anyone to drink. Obviously the concept called "free refills" is a bit beyond Mr. Bloomberg's staff. This one is so ludicrous I'm suspecting shenanigans. Then again, this is a powerful Democrat from New York. I guess they really are capable of anything.

Posted by scott at 10:53 AM | Comments (0)

Ok, tell me if you've heard this one: two chicks start to push a dead Jetta down a steep hill... It's really pretty surprising how fast a car can get away from you in a situation like that. Fortunately it seems the only serious injuries happened to the house. Hopefully pictures will be soon to follow!

Posted by scott at 08:06 AM | Comments (0)
May 30, 2012
Breaking Up Is Hard To Do

It's been awhile since Fark had a really epic "CSB" story, but the comments on "Have you ever stopped dating someone for a silly reason" is quite full of win. "She smelled like soup" is currently my fav.

Posted by scott at 02:32 PM | Comments (0)

Nothing like sawing a car in half length-wise to get it to give up its secrets!

Posted by scott at 01:32 PM | Comments (0)
Old Rain

Scientists have announced the discovery that it was the gradual migration of monsoon rains which allowed, and then devastated, an ancient Indian civilization. The Harappan civilization was, at its height, larger than Egypt and Mesopotamia combined. It had its own system of writing, big cities, and a distinctive culture which endured for some sixteen centuries only to almost literally dry up and blow away with the winds.

Posted by scott at 12:43 PM | Comments (0)
Oh Lord, Your Sky is So Big...

What better way to put your sighs over Wednesday into perspective than this mind-blowing photo of a massive cluster of galaxies. Taken by an amateur astronomer, no less. That said, I've seen the rigs some of these "amateurs" use... professional in all but name, as far as I'm concerned.

Posted by scott at 09:15 AM | Comments (0)
Jarhead Robot

The Marines have announced the first operational use of a fully-autonomous helicopter to make an unmanned cargo transfer. The "hot hookup" happened in Afghanistan, and replaces the previous method which used a human pilot to "idle up" the aircraft and hook up the cargo.

Posted by scott at 06:45 AM | Comments (0)
Chest-Thumping: You're Doing It Wrong

A Minnesota man is in critical condition after an illegal firework backfired and buried itself in his chest. Fortunately it didn't actually explode, otherwise I think they'd be picking bits of him out of the trees.

Posted by scott at 06:21 AM | Comments (0)
May 29, 2012
Take That!

When they tried to approach him, the man allegedly threw some of his skin and intestines at officers, Heinemann added.

He refused to drop the kitchen knife and allegedly began swinging it at officers.

'The scene was a bloody mess,' a police official said. 'The SWAT team had to be decontaminated due to the amount of blood.'

Read entire bloody article here.

Posted by Ellen at 07:15 PM | Comments (0)
Oh, the Things We'll Say

Conversations that only happen in my house: "I'm sorry, Scott, I had to run the trash outside as fast as I could. Nobody likes the smell of exploded mouse."

Posted by scott at 07:03 PM | Comments (0)
Airshow 2012 Day 7


The last 2012 set, so of course there's...











Posted by scott at 05:04 PM | Comments (0)
Glow Tuna

Those of you who bet on "wind" or "water" as the answer to, "how will radiation from Fukushima first make its way to the West Coast?" ... tear up your tickets. Those of you who picked "fish," however, can come collect your prize. Good thing I don't eat the stuff!

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

Problem: monasteries, almost in spite of themselves, usually become rich and are nearly always populated with people professionally useless at defense. Solution: build. I found it staggering when I learned these places, islands... no, time machines.... from the Middle Ages and even earlier still exist and function unchanged in any real way. Even they don't know the treasures which may lurk in their libraries. They've survived this long, and presumably they will continue to do so. A good thing.

Posted by scott at 12:05 PM | Comments (0)
Oooh... Ahh... Pretty...

Alfa's (apparently) re-painted its 4C prototype again and parked it where people could see it. At least it's shiny this time. It'll likely be comparatively cheap but since my income is absolutely not in that league I'll just admire it from afar. If only they'd start bringing them over.

Posted by scott at 08:27 AM | Comments (0)
May 28, 2012
Dude... I Mean... **DUDE!!!**

And here come the Japanese pushing strong on the outside rail during the Asians are Just Weird Derby: a Japanese man recently held a banquet that had his junk as the main course. No, really. All those times when I picked the Chinese, or the Thais, or the Vietnamese as the weirdest Asian country? Yeah, if I could have those chips back I'd appreciate it.

Posted by scott at 06:32 PM | Comments (0)
May 27, 2012
Even (Bottle) Flow

A new substance developed by an MIT PhD candidate may put an end to one of the most annoying tasks to confront a burger-eater. Don't miss the freaky-impressive videos!

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

A new study suggests that, not only does "gaydar" exist, it's actually very efficient. I guess mine isn't particularly good because I don't really care all that much about it.

Posted by scott at 07:25 AM | Comments (2)
May 26, 2012
Airshow 2012 Day 6












Posted by scott at 10:13 AM | Comments (0)
May 25, 2012
Buried Treasure

Israeli archeologists have announced the discovery of rare ancient jewelry from the Biblical period. The pieces were found in a clay jar buried more than three thousand years ago near the ancient city of Megiddo, and are said to represent "the most valuable [items] ever found from [that] period."

Posted by scott at 03:01 PM | Comments (0)
Penguin Recapture

The penguin which was doing-just-fine-thank-you in Tokyo bay has been recaptured. It's probably just as well. I'm sure there's a group of Asian guys somewhere out there who'd want to grind him up to help them get their wangs in shape. Seems to be the fate of most exotic animals nowadays.

Posted by scott at 10:30 AM | Comments (2)
Not Exactly a Shotgun Moment

The hallowed institution of "un-marriage" in Quebec is under threat. It's as if all the fake Elvises in all the wedding chapels in Las Vegas cried out in terror, and then were suddenly silent.

Posted by scott at 09:04 AM | Comments (0)
Airshow 2012 Day 5








Posted by scott at 06:25 AM | Comments (0)
May 24, 2012
Doggy DNA

Nothing says "slow news day" quite like a brief summary of what the DNA of dogs has told us about their evolution. Then again, they are man's best friend. No, Ellen, you can't have one.

Posted by scott at 02:15 PM | Comments (0)
Hi There!

For the first time since it landed, the Mars rover Opportunity has taken a self-portrait. It definitely looks as if it's been sitting on another world for eight years. Eight years! Here's to hoping the newer, bigger rover Curiosity joins it for exploration safely!

Posted by scott at 01:25 PM | Comments (0)
That's Lovely

Chinese police have detained a young couple who hit granny with their car, and then buried her alive at a construction site to hide the evidence. See? It's not just Americans who get liquored up and then do something heinous. It reads like the start of some damned horror movie. Zombie grammas!

Posted by scott at 12:16 PM | Comments (0)
Diff Sniff

Scientists have discovered a new sensory organ in whales. Found on a sub-group of baleen whales called rorquals, the grapefruit-sized mass is thought to help the whale decide if it's worth taking a big gulp of water to grab some food. When you're moving a body that big around in an apparently complex motion, I guess it's a good idea to make sure there's something to swallow.

Posted by scott at 08:00 AM | Comments (0)
May 23, 2012
Airshow 2012 Day 4









Posted by scott at 09:29 PM | Comments (0)

After years of thought experiments, guesswork, and trials, someone has finally used a wingsuit to successfully jump from an aircraft without using a parachute. He had to land in a ruddy great pile of boxes, but he definitely pulled it off. I wonder what his landing speed actually ended up being?

Posted by scott at 02:20 PM | Comments (0)
Kitty No!

It's in the newspaper, so it has to be true: after the earthquake in Turkey last year, Turkish cats have become suicidal. I dunno, man, maybe it's just that they live in Turkey? Or, even more plausible, the earthquake damaged buildings and a whole host of precarious but serviceable paths through the cities no longer work, and the only way to find out is to fail at them. Or they're just depressed. You pick.

Posted by scott at 01:11 PM | Comments (0)
That's SIR Overpriced Gadget to You, Bub

The designer behind the iPhone and iPad, among other things, has been knighted. The way Apple-isti behave, if they could figure out how to bestow godhood on the guy they'd have done it years ago.

Posted by scott at 12:04 PM | Comments (0)
Zoom Zoom, Mrs. Robinson

The manufacturer of the world's most successful sports car is teaming with Alfa Romeo to produce the next generation of the iconic Miata. Which will, of course, also underpin the next generation of Alfa's Spider. On the one hand, I'm tickled, since this could bring the high quality and lower price the marque needs to compete against the Huns. On the other, well, Japanese-Alfa teams have historically not done well. It's a new century, so here's to hoping for the best!

Posted by scott at 06:47 AM | Comments (2)
Tiny Ticket to Ride

By taking the motto "cheap is good" to heart, a private space-flight firm is attempting to bring the stars to the masses. Looks to me more like a lipstick container mounted on the end of a bottle rocket. Then again, hey, it's your money. If you want to spend it getting flung across the planet like the world's largest artillery round, knock yourself out.

Posted by scott at 06:33 AM | Comments (0)
May 22, 2012

Because I am partial to chickens...

How did the chicken achieve such cultural and culinary dominance? It is all the more surprising in light of the belief by many archaeologists that chickens were first domesticated not for eating but for cockfighting. Until the advent of large-scale industrial production in the 20th century, the economic and nutritional contribution of chickens was modest. In Guns, Germs, and Steel, Jared Diamond listed chickens among the “small domestic mammals and domestic birds and insects” that have been useful to humanity but unlike the horse or the ox did little—outside of legends—to change the course of history. Nonetheless, the chicken has inspired contributions to culture, art, cuisine, science and religion over the millennia. Chickens were, and still are, a sacred animal in some cultures. The prodigious and ever-watchful hen was a worldwide symbol of nurturance and fertility. Eggs hung in Egyptian temples to ensure a bountiful river flood. The lusty rooster (a.k.a. cock) was a universal signifier of virility—but also, in the ancient Persian faith of Zoroastrianism, a benign spirit that crowed at dawn to herald a turning point in the cosmic struggle between darkness and light. For the Romans, the chicken’s killer app was fortunetelling, especially during wartime. Chickens accompanied Roman armies, and their behavior was carefully observed before battle; a good appetite meant victory was likely. According to the writings of Cicero, when one contingent of birds refused to eat before a sea battle in 249 B.C., an angry consul threw them overboard. History records that he was defeated.

Read more about these amazing birds!

Posted by Ellen at 07:16 PM | Comments (0)
Old Ink

By using an array of new techniques, scientists have determined that cuttlefish ink hasn't changed much, if at all, since at least the Jurassic. While in and of itself the find is interesting but not particularly ground-shaking, the techniques could open up a whole new field as they provide the tools to study soft tissue in fossils.

Posted by scott at 11:59 AM | Comments (0)
That's an Image I Didn't Need

In today's "slow news day, Ed" file we have "Gummy Bear breast implants". Yes, that's what I said. Apparently it's some sort of new material that vaguely resembles what the popular chewy candies are made of. Me, I give a golf clap to the doctor who thought to put that in the press release. Free publicity, FTW!

Posted by scott at 09:11 AM | Comments (0)
May 21, 2012
I Saw a Turtle

Scientists have announced the discovery of a turtle the size of a small car that ate alligators for lunch. Our own, comparatively tiny, tortoise Om pretty much defines "bloody-mindedness." When something is in her way, she pushes at it until it moves OUT of her way or she gets moved by it. I can only imagine the implications of that in something as big as a car.

Posted by scott at 03:16 PM | Comments (0)
The Last Airbenders

Problem: you have a story about officials inspecting a landscaping project, a picture of said project, and a picture of said officials, but not together.

Solution: time to go 'shopping!

The author is understandably incredulous that anyone would take this seriously, and to their credit it seems like some people in China figured it out fast enough. But that completely misses the point. The propaganda ministry isn't trying to convince hipsters, let alone foreign hipsters, of anything. They're trying to make sure the little old lady in the checkout line believes what they say. Now, think about it. I'm sure your grandma would figure this out in a heartbeat, but would all of her friends be able to do it?

And that, folks, is why this is happening.

Posted by scott at 01:53 PM | Comments (0)
Your Thought for the Day

Victor Davis Hanson: "In postmodern America, we are all removed from mayhem, the killing of game for dinner, the sight of blood altogether. War is something “they” do, not our far more sophisticated selves, who have far greater claims on the federal treasury. Given that the therapeutic society of iPhones and Facebook believes that human nature has transcended violence, and no longer is prone to Thucydidean irrationality like fear, honor, or perceived self-interest, we believe that Libyan rebels are sort of like errant protestors of Occupy Wall Street, or the sometimes corrupt Chinese communist apparat that can be persuaded to be nice to Tibetans. That means war no longer involves good and evil, much less the elemental dirty means of using the former to destroy the latter."

Posted by scott at 09:13 AM | Comments (0)
Airshow 2012 Day 3















Posted by scott at 07:00 AM | Comments (0)
May 20, 2012
Rational Magic: Paco

Deep inside the parrot was an old soul. Tired, war-torn, weather-beaten, and fed up. So this go round it asked to be something simple. It is a common misunderstanding that souls have a sex. In previous lives, she had been a he many times, as well as a she. The universe did not differentiate on that matter; there were other, more important things to worry about. Let whatever place the soul lands, decide the differentiation. The more advanced, the less it mattered.

The soul resided in the parrot happily for a number of years. Riding on the girl’s shoulder, getting lots of attention from the neighborhood children and the occasional shower slash bath. Paco followed the girl around the house, in the yard, and often down the sidewalk. Content at last for some peace and quiet. Nothing to worry about, no important decisions to make; for once being taken care of instead of being the caregiver.

“Paco, you know I love you,” she said, stroking her head. Paco bobbed up and down frantically for a moment. The girl turned and walked out of the room. Inside, the soul let out a wail of anguish. Paco just remained perfectly still; staring at the door.

Read the rest of the story here.

Posted by Ellen at 08:01 PM | Comments (0)
Airshow 2012 Day 2















Posted by scott at 09:08 AM | Comments (0)
Dragon's Want

Sometimes how a people go about being consumers can tell you as much about them as a whole pile of ethnographies. The trick here is that the author seems to mainly be talking about the cities, where things are changing at breakneck pace. From my other readings, China's rural population is enormous and hasn't changed very much at all in centuries.

Posted by scott at 06:37 AM | Comments (0)
May 19, 2012
Airshow 2012!


Another year, another airshow! Expect a good week's worth of photos, starting with






Posted by scott at 03:06 PM | Comments (0)
Airshow 2012!













Posted by scott at 03:01 PM | Comments (0)
May 18, 2012
The Power of Prayer

"Daddy! Look! A teddy bear!"

This is our "start of summer" tradition, me and Olivia. It used to be called "Andrews Air Force Base Open House." Nowadays it's called the "JSOC Air Show." It's one of the biggest air shows (airshows) on the Eastern seaboard. This is our "fourth annual." But that's not what's really important, this time.

"Yes, Olivia, but it's early." Really early. We LIKE really early with this airshow, because it seems like half the Eastern seaboard shows up for it. Except for this time, since we finally got smart enough to leverage our good friend Chris with a DOD clearance to take us out on Friday. But that's not what's really important, this time.

"No, daddy, really! Look! A teddy bear!"

It was 9:30. In the morning. There were, I kid you not, two MILES of vendors to patrol, as she looked with greed at this vendor's tent. I didn't even really see the dratted thing, but I knew an opportunity. So, finally I get to teach Olivia this lesson AGAIN.

"Ok, that's great. But there's so much to look at. We know where this vendor is. We'll come back, when the airshow is over."

And, miracle of miracles, she said, "OK!"

Now, she's still not-quite 9, and for the rest of the airshow she was a GENUINE pain in the ass when she figured out what would get her what she wanted.

"I want to sit down! I want to sit down! I want to sit down! Iwanttositdown! You know, I won't badger you anymore if you let me sit down!"

"Ice cream! Ice cream ice cream ice creamice creamicecreamicecream I won't badger you anymore..."

"Camera! Cameracameracameracameracameracameracameracameracamera I won't badger you anymore..."

And finally I boiled over. "FINE!!!! YOU WANT THIS CAMERA, HERE!!! HAVE IT!!!" Chris even looked up, I guess to make sure he'd know which way her head was going to pop off as I threw the strap over her. You know, so he could catch it. Camera, head, at that point I didn't care.

But she didn't mention that bear. Because she (finally) knew that, by waiting she'd get it, no questions asked. She knew I'd made a promise. Little kids forget those sorts of promises. You stay calm, and they get distracted, and it's like ice melting into a drain. Big kids remember, and break a little when they realize their parents have forgotten. I knew that, from all the cracks I carry to this day.

So, after all the hours of baking sun and thwirring propellers and frightening thunder and one helluva performance by Olivia's favorite Blue Angels, we were done. And Olivia says, "Now we can go get my bear!"

Ok. That's fine. I guess I have a big kid now. Easy enough. Back in the day, there would be a HUGE fight that would include me, my dad, my mom, my brother (who only wanted the same thing I did) just because the vendor was, literally, a mile away. But *I* was going to be the big man, not make the same mistake. It's just a walk.

"Ok, Olivia, let's go."

It was only as we were walking toward that quite far distant vendor stand, "BLUE ANGELS SOUVENIRS," that I realized my lesson was boomeranging right back at me. Right in the teeth.

The vendor stand? The only one I remember with that damned bear? Over a two mile strip? The one *I* made her walk past, to teach some stupid lesson?

Yeah. It was closed. Covered up with the black plastic that smothered my dreams of being a decent dad.

Olivia saw it just after I did. It was like someone had put a hair dryer over her head. She literally started to melt.

Chris saved us both. "Hey, Olivia! There's another Blue Angels booth!"

Sure enough, if I dodged my head under the C-17 to our left, I could see that same banner. And they were still open!

Now, I'm not one to be arrogant about being saved. No sauntering here. "Olivia! Maybe you should go run, and make sure they have your bear!"

And, as I watched, the foil came off her trust, she did.

Posted by scott at 10:34 PM | Comments (0)
May 17, 2012
Paging Roger Waters, White Courtesy Phone Please

The MLB season is, what, not much more than a month old and already Cubs fans are losing their damned minds. Then again, it didn't take long for the Cubs to silt down to the bottom of their division but still. Buck up, people! There's a whole lot of baseball left to play!

Posted by scott at 02:44 PM | Comments (0)
Goin' At It

Well, that's one way to prove your point: a man's effort to get his neighbors to close their windows during sex involved posting an audio file of same on the internet. Classy? Us? You really don't come around here all that often, do you? The article is SFW, but (I'm guessing) headphones would be required to listen to the file.

Meh. It's not like he posted the address. I've never completely understood why people are so put out by all this putting out. Guess I just must have a different irritation threshold.

Posted by scott at 02:09 PM | Comments (0)
Your Thought for the Day

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

Why have a va-cation when you can have a na-cation instead? Look, you want to go somewhere and wander around starkers, I guess that's your right. It ain't for me, and if a travel agent tries pitching it I may pitch them out a window.

Posted by scott at 12:21 PM | Comments (0)
Tube Evolution

A group of mathematicians has announced the discovery that large subway networks gradually converge on a common design, no matter where they're located. The design features distinct topological features which suggest underlining universal principles are at work. No, I don't exactly know what it means either. Maybe God really does ride the subway sometimes.

Posted by scott at 08:33 AM | Comments (0)
Arby's Is Still Around?

The piece appeared to be the back of a finger, including the pad and extending beyond the first knuckle, said Vail and her friend, Joe Wheaton, who accompanied Vail and Ryan on Friday to Arby’s on N. West Avenue. Vail and Wheaton estimated the portion was about an eighth to a quarter inch thick and maybe an inch or more long.

This would scar me from eating out at fast food places for life.

Posted by Ellen at 06:40 AM | Comments (0)
May 16, 2012
'Guin on the Run

A penguin which escaped from a Tokyo zoo in March has been discovered prosperous, presumably doing what penguins do best. I guess Tokyo bay is either a) cleaner than I imagined it b) larger, or c) both. I imagine they'll eventually trap the escapee eventually, but it's nice to know he's able to get by just fine.

Posted by scott at 03:22 PM | Comments (0)
Native Count-Down

Most of Cracked's "6 things we want to be snarky about because we have to justify our journalism degrees somehow. Oh, and bullshit boobies" stories aren't worth all that much. It's when they take a crack at the politically correct version of early US history that some gold can be found. And, you know, the occasional mention of bullshit and boobies. Boobies! (SFW)

Posted by scott at 02:02 PM | Comments (0)
The New Latin

A major Italian university has announced its intention to teach most of its courses, including all of its graduate-and-above levels, in English. The stated reason is to make the university more competitive on the global stage. The move is predictably controversial, with protests and petitions already underway.

Posted by scott at 12:45 PM | Comments (0)
We Ain't Changed All That Much

Scientists have announced the discovery of the world's oldest rock art and, you guessed it, it's a cooter. Or pac-man. You pick. On reflection, though, I'm vaguely surprised our erstwhile caveman didn't immortalize his own junk in stone. That tends to be what gets put up on the bathroom walls, even in Pompeii.

Posted by scott at 12:01 PM | Comments (0)
On War

Agreed: With more and more female candidates, the Democrats’ “war on women” meme becomes sillier and sillier. That's not going to stop them from pushing it. It's just about all that's left.

Posted by scott at 10:23 AM | Comments (0)
Like Splicing a Wire

Using a new surgical technique doctors have allowed a previously paralyzed man to regain the use of his fingers. The injury the 71 year-old sustained crushed his C7 vertebra, at the base of the neck. He had arm function but only got the ability to use his fingers back when doctors almost literally rewired his nerves.

Posted by scott at 06:39 AM | Comments (0)
May 15, 2012
Fun with Bookshelves

Desirae H. gets a no-prize that'll definitely make people stare at her book collection for bringing us some pretty nifty book shelf ideas. Beats the hell out of a stack of rectangles. Weirdly, Ellen and I have both gone to a Kindle this year, which has zeroed our "real" book purchases. That said, I've been carrying around some of the books in my library for nearly 30 years. Why not be stylish with them?

Posted by scott at 07:04 PM | Comments (0)
Star Light, Star Bright

If you set the clock back far enough on my hobby time machine, eventually telescopes come up. I've put that one on a back burner so deep I'd forgotten it was there. Those of you who're thinking about it may find this "beginner's guide" of interest. Living next door to a major airport limits our sky view at night, but the rest of you may not be as limited.

Posted by scott at 03:07 PM | Comments (0)
Are You Still. There?

Another entry in the "why'd it take this long" file: a grad student has created a fully-functional Portal gun turret. Complete with the adorably psychopathic voice. Fortunately this one only shoots nerf darts. Cat guard? You betcha!

Posted by scott at 12:58 PM | Comments (0)
~ Hard to Believe It's Getting Better / It's Getting Better, All the Time ~

I won't go so far as to call them "Hydrocarbon Deniers" because, unlike them, I'm very conscious of the origin and original intent of the word "denier" in this context, and comparing a reasonable person's disagreement with something to a monumental mass murder has always struck me as rather gauche. I do, however, quite like the idea of "Energy Prohibitionists," although even I admit it doesn't quite have the same ring.

Via Instapundit.

Posted by scott at 09:03 AM | Comments (0)
Sign Here

I guess I'm happy that nobody this famous ever signed one of my yearbooks. I grew up in a small town, though. Kind of a "law of averages" sort of thing.

Posted by scott at 06:32 AM | Comments (0)
May 14, 2012
Incident Report

Oh Lord, bless this, thy Wikipedia without which I would never have known about the Dyatlov Pass Incident, a mystery so incredibly creepy to me it took three tries just to get through the "Wikipedia dry-as-dust" article. Wandering campers, radiation, mysterious injuries, and enigmatic photographs, this story has 'em all. Think Blair Witch, only real, and, you know... Russified.

Posted by scott at 02:16 PM | Comments (0)
Solar Eye

Using technology originally developed for solar cells, scientists are creating eye implants which could enable blind people to see. They're still most definitely in the "do-gross-things-to-rats" proof of concept stages, but the technology does seem to be promising. It'll probably disappoint cyber-punk fans, but apparently the idea is to make them as invisible as possible.

Posted by scott at 01:10 PM | Comments (0)
Flaming Fail

Taking that whole "blazing speed" all wrong: a fire in an F-1 garage has the organization re-examining safety and storage procedures. An hour after their first win in almost eight years, something in the Williams garage caught fire and basically destroyed it. Fortunately nobody was seriously injured.

Posted by scott at 12:07 PM | Comments (0)
Revenge of the NIMBY

After decades spent fighting a homeowners association full of rich people, George Lucas has altered the deal. Georgetown, the fair definition of "limousine liberaville," kept Metro out AND kept that fact quiet for precisely the same reasons. It's all well and good to help the poor, as long as they're in someone else's back yard.

I dunno. If they managed to stop a studio from being built for twenty-five years, I can't help but think they'll make sure Consuela and her six kids aren't allowed to move in with Taqueesha and her five next door.

Posted by scott at 09:17 AM | Comments (0)

Making the rounds: a Chinese developer decided to upgrade an existing apartment block with an underground parking garage. And yes, even in the US it's considered a "best practice" to dig a big hole BEFORE you put a heavy building on top of it. Nope, I wouldn't want to live in a Chinese-built apartment that this was happening to, either.

Posted by scott at 06:20 AM | Comments (0)
May 13, 2012
Glub Glub Glub

A project to recreate a bronze-age boat has had a set-back. Sinking will tend to do that.

Posted by scott at 12:08 PM | Comments (0)
Party Like It's 1917

Oh yes, by all means, the Tea Party is absolutely violent menace haunting the country. I know I'm not changing anyone's mind. Four years of "bad luck" has done that job far better than I ever could. See you this November!

Posted by scott at 12:00 PM | Comments (0)
Worse Than Watching Grass Grow and Paint Dry

A lump of the black substance, which can be broken with a hammer, was put into a glass funnel - and the waiting began. A decade after the late Professor Thomas Parnell, formerly from Cambridge University, began the process, the first of eight drops fell.

The viscous liquid continued its incredibly slow, but inexorable, journey downwards, and in 1947 the second drop fell.

The next drops occurred in 1954, 1962, 1970, 1979, 1988 and lastly in 2000 when the webcam that was trained on the experiment broke at the crucial stage.

Read then entire*YAWN* here.

Posted by Ellen at 06:06 AM | Comments (2)
May 11, 2012
Hi-Def Downloads!

For once, a development in audiophile-land that doesn't cost as much as a house: a working group of manufacturers and labels has been dedicated to creating an open standard for DSD-over-USB. Why should you care? DSD is the music file format which was always meant to be the successor to CDs. It's what'll allow engineers to create for-real multichannel recordings that you can use with your home theater rig. It's languished on the fringes because it's only available in optical format (SACD).

Nobody but lunatics like me wants a new optical format for music, and so SACD has gone more or less nowhere. However, downloadable music is all the rage and multi-channel is a real "get." And, it almost certainly won't cost an arm and a leg to get something that'll play it. Woot!

Posted by scott at 06:46 PM | Comments (0)
Got Your Ticket Right Here

SpaceX and Bigelow Aerospace have formally teamed up to create a commercial, orbital, space service. No prices or timeline just yet, but considering Bigelow's had prototypes flying for five years now and SpaceX is on the verge of a second test of its capsule, I'm thinking 2-5 years seems about right. And, unlike NASA, there's no set of congresscritters to please, hold things up, or generally make a nuisance of themselves. And protestors can make all the noise they want for all the good it will do them. This is how it's done, folks.

Posted by scott at 02:38 PM | Comments (0)
Desert Fruit

A derelict P-40 Warhawk has been discovered in the Sahara some seventy years after it crashed. The fate of the pilot is unknown but probably wasn't good. The article doesn't mention a salvage effort but even as parts that thing is worth some serious cash.

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

Steal your iPhone? that's a shootin'. What's not clear from the article is whether or not they'd managed to find the right room. That'd be just my luck, chilling in a Super 8 and having some maniac shoot the room up looking for the hooker who stole his phone. Ellen, on the other hand... well, to be honest she never lets her phone get far enough away from her for it to be stolen. The external heart has a distance function, it seems.

Posted by scott at 12:29 PM | Comments (0)
More Than Meets the Eye

It may take 20 (presumably small) servos to operate, but it's still a nifty little piece of kit. Japanese, naturally. Hopefully he'll concentrate more on a convincing walk with the next version. I agree with the TG guys, this one really does look like a wobbly penguin when it walks.

Posted by scott at 08:13 AM | Comments (0)

Hope, and football, springs eternal: the USFL is on its way back. This time, though, the idea is to be more of a minor-league organization instead of a direct challenge to the NFL. There SEEMS to be room for this sort of thing, so good luck to them.

Posted by scott at 06:28 AM | Comments (0)
May 10, 2012
Your Thought for the Day


Posted by scott at 03:21 PM | Comments (0)
Cheeky Monkey

A stone-throwing chimp in a Swedish zoo has started getting sneaky. The Little Rock Zoo has, or at least had, a chimp who'd fling whatever he could grab at the zoo staff, but leave everyone else alone. Well, everyone else who didn't wear a khaki shirt that made them look like zoo staff. Fortunately their arms and hands aren't strung for accurate throwing. But it did make for a fun bit of dodging!

Posted by scott at 03:09 PM | Comments (0)
Old Shrines

Archeologists have announced the discovery of the earliest-known evidence of a Biblical cult. Shrines discovered in the ruins of Khirbet Qeiyafa, a fortified city destroyed some three thousand years ago, seem to provide clear evidence of a distinct sort of religion being practiced in the region around the time of King David.

Posted by scott at 01:06 PM | Comments (0)
Flying Liberty

Another entry in the manned private launcher category has been announced. I was wondering where the Ares I people who got canned would end up. I'm not wondering any more. I'm thinking (dangerous, I know) that the Ariane V upper stage will be more powerful than what Ares was meant to use, but I'm not sure about it. Good luck to them!

Posted by scott at 12:04 PM | Comments (0)
That's One Way to Do It

What do you do when simply taking the keys away from a teenage boy doesn't slow his driving down? If you're in a specific neighborhood in Poland, you get creative. If it fell out of there, it'd likely only improve the car.

Posted by scott at 08:07 AM | Comments (0)
May 09, 2012
He's Dead, Jim

The huge European Earth imaging satellite has been officially declared really most sincerely dead. The device itself is as big as a bus with a solar array just about the same size. Since it's said to be "a major space junk risk for the next 150 years," I guess it's in no danger of burning up any time soon.

Posted by scott at 03:23 PM | Comments (0)
Fun with Ferrari

Presenting the world's lightest "Ferrari." No, the quotes aren't an accident. The darned thing costs more than the original. I do like the way this one sounds, though. All throaty and stuff.

Posted by scott at 01:33 PM | Comments (0)
You're Gonna Need a Bigger Boat

Making the rounds: it's pretty scary to catch a big great white shark on your line; it's scarier still when a bigger shark starts nibbling on it. Pictures are gruesome but not overly so. As if I needed any more reasons to stay out of the waters off an Australian beach...

Posted by scott at 12:05 PM | Comments (0)
That's Mister "Briefly" To You, Bub

Well why the hell not: Italian coach builder Zagato is rumored to be working on a new Alfa TZ4 road car based on the upcoming Dodge Viper. A big, rip-snorting V10 packed into an Italian package. What's not to love?

Posted by scott at 09:02 AM | Comments (0)

Well, I guess if your two wives have to meet each other and your girlfriend, then having it happen at your funeral is the way to go. Bonus: they each brought one of his kids to the ceremony, and now everyone's fighting over who gets what.

Posted by scott at 06:21 AM | Comments (0)
May 08, 2012
Women Call It REVENGE

Former solicitor John Morris, 62, has named Welsh-born Lizzie Williams as the Whitechapel monster - and claims she killed her victims because she could not have children, ripping out the wombs of three in an 'unhinged state'.

Lizzie was the wife of royal physician Sir John Williams, himself seen as a prime suspect by many other crime experts.

Interesting... I need to get the book.

Posted by Ellen at 06:04 PM | Comments (0)
Soft Head

A new look at the iconic Taung Child fossil has caused one scientist to link unfused infant skulls with bipedalism. I think. The article throws a lot of quotes about increasing brain size around, but not about bipedalism. That unfused skulls are part of what makes it possible for a bipedal ape to have children with brains all out of proportion to their bodies was known and accepted when I was an undergrad in the late 80s, so (at least from what the article presents) I'm not completely sure what's new here.

Posted by scott at 03:13 PM | Comments (0)
Your Thought for the Day

Posted by scott at 01:52 PM | Comments (0)
Was That Wrong? Should I Not Do That?

Our parents threatened, these parents went through with it: couple arrested after 911 call reporting them strapping their kids to the hood of a car. Worst my dad ever did was force us into the back of a pickup truck, which contained a redneck set of seats (with seatbelts) for just such an occasion. I think he got them from a boat or something. Good times!

Posted by scott at 12:09 PM | Comments (0)
The Debate That Killed a Kitten

I gotta tell ya, I'd pay a lot more attention to our presidential debates if this was part of the scenery. You know, for the fifteen seconds or so it'd take Ellen to find something heavy to hit me with. But those would be some pretty interesting seconds, I'll tell ya...

Posted by scott at 10:28 AM | Comments (0)
Taming Insanity

Scientists using a new computer model have put forward a new theory on when and where the horse was first domesticated. It's not exactly a stunning find, but it definitely seems to answer nagging questions about previous theories.

Posted by scott at 08:20 AM | Comments (0)
May 07, 2012
Everyone Needs a Copy Editor

A new genetic study seems to indicate human intelligence is primarily the result of two distinct genetic copy errors. The timing of the errors seems to coincide with the emergence of Homo (shaddup, you) as a genus. The results will, presumably, be contentious and generate who knows how many slow-motion flamewars in the scientific journals. Still, it's interesting to know that the less than two percent of us that's not chimpanzee may be mostly encompassed in exactly two places on our genome.

Posted by scott at 02:11 PM | Comments (0)
Your Thought for the Day

Cyanide and Happiness, a daily webcomic
Posted by scott at 12:43 PM | Comments (0)
Down in a Hole

In Manhattan, even the ends of a subway can be interesting. And, truth be told, beautiful. It's certainly a heck of a lot easier on the eyes than the lump they're building in the middle of the toll road today.

Posted by scott at 06:55 AM | Comments (0)
Fly Air

If the LA Times is to be believed, the F-22 is perceived as so dangerous "some pilots" are refusing to fly it. OF course, they don't seem to have found anyone who was willing to go on the record refusing to fly it, and the ones who did go on the record say it's "unheard of" to refuse any flying assignment. Real problem, or some press-release proxy fight? It's the MSM, when have they ever lead us wrong?

Posted by scott at 06:31 AM | Comments (0)
May 06, 2012
Sprinkler Fun!

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Posted by Ellen at 08:46 PM | Comments (0)

The end is nigh: Japanese "Lolita fashion" is taking hold in Mexico. A fashion developed for rich, spoiled, stick-thin girls to impress twisted old Asian men, transplanted to good middle-class Catholic girls with healthy appetites. Yeah. Can you say, "poor fit?" I knew you could...

Posted by scott at 05:30 PM | Comments (0)
Julia, Julia, Wherefor Art Thou, Julia?

While by now every hipster and Obamanite has heard of Julia, the hypothetical woman who benefits from having the correct person in the White House, we haven't heard the whole story. It's a lot more interesting than you'd at first think. Especially the whole "arm-as-a-chainsaw" thing.

It's funny because that's really what it sounds like when your side talks about mine. The confused look on your face just makes me laugh harder.

Posted by scott at 08:12 AM | Comments (0)
Diamonds are a PC's Best Friend

Scientists have announced the discovery of a new technique which could increase the density and lifetime of sold-state computer storage. I think. Reading the article makes me think of a really advanced, presumably very small, record player. "Pressure using tools" definitely sounds like moving parts to me, at any rate.

Posted by scott at 06:58 AM | Comments (0)
May 05, 2012
I Am Ironman

Quite appropriate on the day most folks who're interested will be going to see The Avengers: A new ammo system inspired by the movie Predator is changing the way small Army units are using their crew-served weapons. At least, I think that's what it's about. Anyway, it's got a big belt of ammo coming out of a backpack. What's not to love?

Posted by scott at 07:18 AM | Comments (0)
May 04, 2012
Croatoan Cracked

Using a very old, patched map researchers have found new clues that may lead to the discovery of what really happened to the first English colony in the new world. Under one of the patches, never seen before, seems to be an indication that the settlers may have made a fort west of the original location of the colony. The land indicated is privately owned and may be partially covered by a golf course, so excavations won't be happening any time soon.

Posted by scott at 03:57 PM | Comments (2)
Interstellar Nom

First it was black holes eating stars, now it's stars eating planets. I've been around long enough that I'm convinced scientists just aren't sure whether or not the Earth will be consumed by the Sun when it enters its red giant phase a billion years from now. If it does, well, at least we now know what'll be left behind.

Posted by scott at 01:39 PM | Comments (0)
Taco Time

What better way to enjoy the run-up to Cinco de Mayo than with a detailed look at just how the archetypical Mexican-American food evolved? Being terrible iconoclasts, we absolutely do not consider fast food beneath us, and would probably eat at Taco Bell more often if there was a more convenient location nearby. Weirdly, Ellen didn't like Mexican food one bit until she was pregnant with Olivia. Now we usually have some sort of Mexican food (home-cooked or otherwise) once or twice a week.

Oh, and I must admit that Sonora dog sounds pretty darned tasty. My arteries clogged a bit just reading the description.

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

Not sure how it got past us last month, but anyway get a load of the 2013 Dodge Viper! What was once a sledgehammer of a car now sports actual anti-lock brakes, as well as other stability enhancements. As far as I can tell, little if anything comes from parent company Fiat. Well, except perhaps for some civilizing tendencies.

Posted by scott at 06:16 AM | Comments (0)
May 03, 2012
Ticket Delay

SpaceX's next launch has been delayed again. Exactly by how much is unclear at the moment, but it seems to be for the same reason their test fire was delayed: to have more time to do more tests. Since it's not like you can pull a rocket over to the side of the road and call AAA when something goes wrong, a delay of this nature is likely a good thing.

Posted by scott at 03:42 PM | Comments (0)

Taiwanese researchers have created a gigabit-class network using simple pointing lasers. While the article does a nice job of summarizing why this is neat, it misses what I think is a pretty obvious point: a laser network would be a form of wireless nearly impossible to eavesdrop on. Maybe I just read too many Tom Clancy novels, or something?

Posted by scott at 02:16 PM | Comments (0)
Hog Phone Home

The owner of the Harley Davidson motorcycle that was washed out to sea in its storage container during the tsunami in Japan last year has been found. The factory has already agreed to restore the bike and return it to the owner free of charge. No, it won't bring back his three family members, but it definitely is something. That was one crazy voyage!

Posted by scott at 12:11 PM | Comments (0)
Pronoun Love

So, is there really some scientific way of reliably predicting who will end up dating a specific person, or who has more power in a given relationship? It would seem there is.

Posted by scott at 09:22 AM | Comments (0)

A Greeneville, Tennessee man has been reported as defending his sister from an attacker by killing him with... a frying pan. I've had a 12" cast-iron Lodge frying pan for about twelve years now. I think it weighs north of seven pounds. If I got a good swing going I have no doubt the thing would crush a skull like an egg. So, let's all file this one under, "they only get up from a hit like that in the cartoons" file, and move on.

Posted by scott at 08:14 AM | Comments (0)
May 02, 2012
*Squawk* *Glug* *NOM*

That'll be Octopus: 1, Sky Rat: 0. Apparently these things can weigh upwards of 150 lbs full-grown, so it's more than capable of taking down a rat with wings. Heck, I'm still a little puzzled why they don't take the occasional diver.

Posted by scott at 06:02 PM | Comments (0)
Had to Be Done Eventually

Yes, Virginia, there are sharks with lasers on them. I'm with the guy who designed the brackets: if it helps pay off the R&D, gets some advertising out there, and doesn't hurt anything, why not?

Posted by scott at 03:55 PM | Comments (0)

Astronomers recently managed not only to watch a supermassive black hole eat a star, they got enough details to tell what kind of star it was. It seems to have taken more than a year to do the deed, and the black hole may have taken as much as half the star's mass, ejecting the rest. It's good to be gangsta!

Posted by scott at 02:15 PM | Comments (0)
They Really Did Exist

Shades of the D&D Monster manual: scientists have announced the discovery of giant blood-sucking fleas! Well, hey, at least now we know your garden variety dinosaur probably itched as much as that stray dog that wanders the neighborhood. That said, it's not like dinosaurs are built to scratch. I wonder how they pulled it off?

Posted by scott at 10:21 AM | Comments (0)
Death Metal: You're Doing It Wrong

An Austin, Texas man has been arrested for murder using an electric guitar. Not surprisingly, alcohol and unwanted sexual advances were involved. No, I'm not saying that makes it OK, quite the opposite. People need to learn to keep their hands to themselves and back the hell off when told.

Posted by scott at 08:32 AM | Comments (0)
Think of it as a Handyman in a Dress

With gas prices as high as they are, and alternative "dual clutch" transmissions still commanding a premium, I can't say I'm surprised manual trannies are making a comeback. See what I did there? Ha! Anyway, I've owned a car with a stick shift since 1988, so I'm fine with this.

Posted by scott at 07:45 AM | Comments (0)
May 01, 2012
Down in a (Icy) Hole

Looks like scientists are getting closer to tapping that vast lake sealed off for who knows how long under the ice of the antarctic. Drilling through two miles of ice in three days' time seems pretty darned fast to me. Didn't it take them months the last time? At any rate, I, for one, will welcome the mysterious icy overlords they will presumably unleash.

Posted by scott at 03:24 PM | Comments (4)
Windy Dog

By hacking climate models originally built for Mars, scientists have made the surprising prediction that Pluto has winds of up to 225 mph. It also appears to be much simpler than other planets which have atmospheres.

I dunno, though. Using something even the scientists admit is a limited tool, built more than a decade ago, to predict something as complex as weather... well, it doesn't seem all that reliable to me. Of course, being a member of The Vast Right Wing Conspiracy, I tend to automatically be suspicious when scientists start using models to predict anybody's weather. Call it the Al Gore Principal, if you will.

Posted by scott at 01:06 PM | Comments (0)
Carbon Carbon Everywhere...

Scientists have announced the discovery of yet another form of carbon. Called "Silicene," this new two-dimensional form may have the conductive properties of graphene but with the added bonus of compatibility with existing semiconductor technologies. They think. So far it seems they've only proved the stuff exists.

Posted by scott at 10:22 AM | Comments (0)
The Best Roller Skating Commercial EVAR!!!

Posted by Ellen at 05:42 AM | Comments (0)