Using a newly launched space telescope, scientists have directly measured the spin of a black hole for the first time. As with most things involving black holes, the observations confirm a whole (ha!) lot of really strange things.
I believe the term "that's a lot of woman" is appropriate here. She looks like she's having fun, why the hell not?
DARPA's at it again, this time trying to get people to re-think the helicopter. I'd rather them spend money like this and pay Congress with, I dunno, beans or something. We'd get the same results but cheaper!
I think these guys are having way too much fun: scientists have figured out how to re-animate a dead sparrow using off-the-shelf electronics. They were studying male aggression, and needed something that could be angry on cue. Considering the robot eventually got its head bitten off, it would seem they succeeded. A robot with a shelf life. Whoda thought it?
It often seems like general histories skip from the end of WWII to 1950, with nothing much happening in between. In reality, a lot of very important things happened, some of which is chronicled in photographs. I've seen some movies set and shot in 1950s Germany, and it doesn't look THAT much better, just neater. They were Germans, after all.
We're supposed to be producing more oil than ever before, yet gas prices are near record highs. What gives? Well, if all you did was skim this natGeo article, it would be difficult NOT to blame "greedy refineries." That is, until you read a little further:
True, the price of crude plus taxes explains most of the price at the pump. "It's basically simple for the most part," Goldstein explained, "but that doesn't mean the rest is trivial. It's not." And, he notes, the "last 20 percent is complicated."
So, even though refineries are greedy and basically evil, taxes and the price of crude constitute 80% of gasoline's price. Yeah. That's a real strong cause-and-effect you got going there, sparky. But wait! There's more!
Pipelines from the Gulf Coast to the East Coast are limited, and the only vessels permitted to move goods between U.S. ports are those built, owned, operated, and crewed by U.S. citizens and registered under the U.S. flag.
The EIA report also points to planned and unplanned maintenance at refineries ... the changeover from winter grade products to summer grade products to meet U.S. emissions requirements, and very low profit margins for refiners prior to the current run-up.
Let the libertarian translate: Due to EPA regulations strangling pipeline building, Union-friendly laws strangling shipping capacity, OSHA regulations shutting down entire refineries for months at a time, more EPA regulations mandating specific fuels for specific regions, and refineries eating into their profit margin to conform to even MORE EPA regulations, gas is expensive.
Do you see what's common in all those sentences? Do you really? The author of the article certainly went to great pains to hide it.
It looks like we've been boozing it up for a very, very long time now. I'll go a step further than the article and speculate that the ability to digest fermented fruit may very well have been what drew a specific set of apes down from the trees. Certainly the sudden appearance of a much more powerful digestion enzyme means SOMETHING.
Have you been noticing an uptick of owl-related internet memes? No? Well, that's because you don't subscribe to any of Ellen's Facebook feeds. Now even the New York Times seems to be hopping on the bandwagon. Or, you know, owl perch. Something like that. No, Ellen, you can't have one.
It's a long shot, but apparently there's a real possibility a comet will hit Mars next year. It's not known how big the thing is, and it seems like the chances are very small. That said, Mars doesn't have much in the way of an atmosphere. If it were to bulls-eye the planet, there's not much between it and the surface. Good thing Curiosity doesn't rely on sunlight for power.
Bicycle maintenance: more than just a good idea. Last year my seatpost bolt snapped, thankfully only a half-mile from the house. As I gingerly hovered over the exposed seatpost coasting back home, I realized just how uncool an unexpected bump could be. Those photos do nothing to dispel that conclusion.
It looks like the US isn't the only place with religious hard-liners who have skeletons in their closet. It'd be nice to think Muslims will eventually figure out that a code of laws meant to keep starving goatherds alive doesn't apply all that well to the modern world. It'd also be nice to think I'm Warren Buffet's long-lost nephew. I'm not holding my breath over either one.
Raymond Cusack, designer of the iconic Daleks, has died. 84 is a pretty good run! Personally, I've never found the Daleks all that scary. Interesting and weird, but never scary. Maybe it was that classic episode that had them squirting shaving cream all over the place when they died?
Modern problems: a boy has been denied permission to wear a dress to his prom. In a way, I think this is a good sign. I remember my prom being the absolute pinnacle of teen conformity, when every interest group and clique brought out the big guns. If this kid feels confident enough to try this, in the South no less, I think there may be hope for humanity after all.
I guess it's true, people really did talk like Austin Powers back in the 60s. I was but a wee lad at the end of that decade, and I fail to recall such colorful elocution. Then again, in 1969 the best I could do was probably "mama," so I'm probably not one to judge.
Doing flavored water all wrong: police are still searching for clues as to how a Canadian tourist ended up dead in a hotel's water tank. Bonus: it was complaints of foul-tasting water that led investigators to discover the body. All together now: GROSS!!!
A group of Ohio State scientists has developed a reactor that chemically burns coal, creating energy while capturing almost all the CO2 generated. You have to go all the way to the bottom of the article before they mention how expensive it is. "Beating" a 35% increase still means it's much more expensive than existing technologies. But then, that's always been the problem with almost all green power generation. Still, that's just engineering. If they can pull the costs down to the point it's competitive, I'm all for it.
All those other tweets threatening the president? Well, yeah, those were probably about Obama. But the one you arrested me for? That one was about Syria. Definitely Syria. Threatening the president is one of the few things absolutely guaranteed to be both noticed and prosecuted. It's always amusing to watch what happens to know-it-all malcontents who forget this.
Well, at least this sort of thing is supposed to kill you. Since it's Australia, they've turned it into a tourist attraction and poke at it with sticks. Because, you know, if it just sits there and LOOKS deadly it's just not exciting enough.
China in the twenty-first century: the phenomena of "leftover women" is causing concern. When they say "under pressure to get married," they're not talking about mom calling occasionally and asking if you're dating someone. In China, the pressure to form a family is so intense it's not at all uncommon for gay people to marry just to get their parents to shut up about it. The angst is also a logical consequence of their "one child" policy. China is still a patriarchal culture, and now that it's suddenly become a seller's market for Chinese women, the men are not at all happy about their new "uppity" attitudes. Expect this sort of thing to go on over there for a long, long time.
Making the rounds: Sony has officially announced the PlayStation 4. And by "announced," they seem to mean "talk about it a bit, show some movies, and hand out some pictures. Our last console was the original XBox, which I think we eventually ended up giving away. Not saying I won't eventually cave and get another console, but I'm not saying I will, either.
Scientists have announced the discovery of a planet barely bigger than our own moon. It was discovered using Kepler's occlusion instruments, and seems legit. I guess this means it really is only a matter of time until we figure out where we find a planet that looks like ours. I want to believe!
A group of scientist is developing a pill that actually will sober you up, fast. Right now it's only been tested in mice, and one stage of the process turns the alcohol into rocket fuel, but hey, that's just engineering. If it works out, I'm thinking a big bowl of these things will become a fixture at your local watering hole.
I'm not sure what's worse: a gun-control bill that authorizes house-to-house searches, or the legislators who voted for it because they didn't read the thing closely enough. Politicians always over-reach. It's what they do. It's precisely things like this that cause the NRA to be so "reactionary." Here's a hint Mr. Progressive-pants: it's because they have to be.
A laser developed to explore Mars has been re-tasked with the more mundane effort to stamp out "honey laundering." I'm not a huge fan of the stuff, but Olivia is a honey fiend sometimes. If it means she's less likely to eat stuff smuggled in from China, I'm all for it. The Chinese don't even like that sort of thing, for very good reasons.
In the "why didn't anyone think of this sooner" bin, we now have a video arcade game based on, and dispensing, beer. That has to have been in a Simpsons episode at some point, and I just don't remember it.
Captain Obvious in the NYT: Young families living in an expensive city are moving to the suburbs to find more room for less money. Yes, for us it's a repeat from 1948, 1958, 1968 ... 2013, but to the Times it's news. Why? Because HIPSTERS!
It turns out Russian dash-cams aren't just good for capturing the mayhem on their roads. They're also great for snagging pictures of an occasional meteor strike. We thought the first and third videos were the best. Make sure you've got a good set of speakers/volume level for the third one. BOOM!
Allen approached and noted "a flesh-colored dildo" on the passenger seat, according to the report. He says that when he asked the driver what he was doing, the man replied, "Sucking on a dildo, I'm sorry."
Read the entire article here.
Many people will be taking time out today to do something special for their loved one on Valentine's.
But for one man, this means spending time with the 'love of his life' Lila - a blow-up yellow dragon.
Mark, who features in the TLC TV show My Strange Addiction, says he would even marry Lila because he loves her so much.
Read the entire article here.
Don't forget to watch the insanity on TLC's "My Strange Addiction"!
It seems that the clockwork progression of gas to star to explosion to exotic remnant is not as utterly predictable as I was taught back in college. Even better: it seems pretty obvious the scientists who discovered this thing have no particularly good idea as to how it all happened.
This just in: systems with broadly similar characteristics behave in roughly the same fashion. In this case, mosh pits seem to look a lot like gasses in "2D equilibrium." No, I'm not completely sure what that is, either. What it mostly proves is I'm old enough to be puzzled by the "heavy metal = mosh pit" assumption. All my metal gods are old enough now to get put in a hospital by such shenanigans.
The Battle in the Snow: Donít place unaccountable religious fanatics in wartime command. Yes, it's a classic case of mistaking a great story with an historical event, but it's still fun. Also, having ridden herd over a group of role playing engineers, I can tell you that there really are people who will debate this stuff without the slightest sense of humor.
Lord, bless this, thy Go-Pro camera, without which we would never see such a cool demonstration of the special sort of insanity that is... the naval aviator. Plus... geeze, someone needs to paint Ike pretty soon.
In today's "if it's stupid and it works, it's not stupid" file, we have helper dogs for cheetahs. It seems that, with the right dog, even the least-sociable cheetah can prosper in captivity. Proof that cats are cats are cats: "The dog always has the cat's back, but it's never the other way around. Dogs worry about their cats. They protect their cats."
Watch out, folks, that snazzy new Iranian fighter jet has made its first flight. You know it's pretty bad when the aviation media goes on record that it's an RC model. But it's not meant for us, it's meant for the Iranian public. That said, from what I've read about Iran, the Iranians don't believe it all that much, either.
Edmunds on-line gives, then takes away. First they tell us Chrysler's SRT division is actively engaged with the upcoming 4C's development, and then follow that news up with the rumor that it's heavier and more expensive than originally planned. Which is to say, it's an Alfa. Every time I think the Italians have finally sorted it all out...
This just in: in a confusing, crowded venue, it's possible to sneak past security. I did this sort of thing all the time back in college when I was delivering pizza. Since I was actually working, I didn't stay, but it would've been child's play to put my uniform on and carry an empty box past security.
Unfortunately, since these punks decided it'd be a laugh to BRAG about it, attending an NFL game is about to become a lot more annoying. And forget about it if you need a favor from security to make your life easier.
These people aren't admirable, they're obnoxious idiots getting a kick out of ruining it for everyone else.
The world's largest crocodile in captivity has died. When everyone else is talking about some old German guy who wants to putter in his garden, we're bringing you the IMPORTANT news. And, really, when you think of the best place to keep an exotic, dangerous, and high-maintenance animal, why wouldn't you put a remote village in the Philippines on that list?
Whoever said tortoises were hard to keep may need to reconsider that opinion. Of course, the fact that the thing was left alone for thirty years may have helped its survival, since it was allowed to more or less mind its own business and take care of itself. Still, I don't think we'll be putting Om in a box for thirty years. On the other hand, that would at least stop her pitching herself down the stairs every few months.
It turns out that, in addition to general death, cancer can kill your sex drive. No, not just temporary side-effects of the nasty chemicals they have to use, but permanent life-changing things that can shut the whole show down. The article takes the typical "this only ever happens to women" line, but it does describe things I'd never heard of, or expected. Like they say, "the more you know..."
So, have the Chinese developed a new "game changing" form of satellite drive, or have they bought the plans to a perpetual motion machine? It looks like nobody's completely sure at the moment. Chinese scientists are typically as resistant to snake oil salesmen as anyone else, but I wouldn't put it past the PRC to fake the whole damned thing. Call me the uninformed skeptic, and just move on.
Sure, it may have come to light more than a year ago, but I hadn't seen it. Therefore, important people hadn't seen it. Now that they have, you can too! Thirty years on, I'll bet nobody on the set of Return of the Jedi even remembers what they were doing out in that remote desert. A picture is not only worth a thousand words, it's also a way to fix moments of time.
Those of you wondering if Mr. Bean ever got his fancy car fixed can now breathe a sigh of relief. They only made 64 of them, so it's nice to see it get resurrected instead of trashed. And I'm not worried too much about the insurance company or Atkinson's premiums. I'm just about certain he was using a specialist insurer who was no fool about assessing the risks of such a unique car.
News you can use: how to avoid getting squashed by a semi. I do all of these things, have for years. I'm constantly amazed, but not particularly surprised, at how few other drivers I see doing these things.
It's been announced that Monty Python will be reuniting to make a science fiction movie. With Robin Williams. As a dog. And by "Monty Python" I mean "the surviving members," although I wouldn't put it past them to try and "ghost" the dead one in somehow. And did I mention not all the Pythons seem to have officially signed on yet? Rumors are fun!
Watch out folks, they're doing science! Because everyone knows that, when your average American teenager figures out how to get drunker, faster, they're absolutely gonna stay away from it. The more you know!
Disney has announced that not only will there be new Star Wars films, there will also be Star Wars "spin-off" features. Every time I hear about these things I flinch reflexively, but so far they've attached very talented people to them. That doesn't guarantee against "Ishtar in Space," but it does make me cautiously optimistic.
A "grassroots supercomputing" project has produced the largest known Mersenne prime number. The project has been grinding away at finding these things for seventeen years. The number itself is 2 times 57,885,161 minus 1, and has more than seventeen million digits. And if you understand what all that means, I applaud you. Meanwhile, time to go caption some cats...
So, when a progressive agenda reaches its inevitable endpoint of failure, what's a liberal to do? Fix the problem? Leave quietly and let the evil conservatives do it? No! Wait! I know! We'll just deny reality outright. It's often said that madness is doing the same thing over and over again, expecting a different outcome. I think that's a fine definition of progressives and liberals, too.
Making the rounds: Mary Ingalls blindness was most likely caused by a type of meningitis, not scarlet fever. I can't recall actually catching scarlet fever as a child. In fact, I can't remember many references to it at all recently. Maybe it's become much rarer due to advanced antibiotics?
There's the Olympics, and then there's the Indian Rural Olympics. They feature "being run over by a tractor, carrying bricks with your teeth and cow chariot racers." No, really!
Darpa's at it again, this time they're out to create a robot that'll harvest bits off dead satellites. Seems kinda risky to me, since (as far as I know) it's not like those antenna are designed to just pop off. Who knows? Maybe they'll have the world's greatest screwdriver collection as part of its armament.
Want to poll your list of Facebook friends for a casual hookup? There's an app for that. The article includes the required "use that? As if" chick snark, but if girls didn't use it, the app wouldn't be this popular, eh?
The remains found underneath a British parking lot have been confirmed as belonging to Richard III. "It's not often I go searching for a king, but when I do I go to a parking lot." It seems the plan is to re-bury him in the nearby cathedral. Don't miss the slideshow at the bottom-right of the article.
Researchers at Microsoft are developing a software package that can predict the future. I think. It sounded impressive as hell, anyway. Isn't this sort of thing that made Asimov's Foundation series tick?
The infamous case of The Black Dahlia may finally be near a resolution. In other news, there are still old houses in LA with dirt-floored basements. Me? Oh, I'm always skeptical of these sorts of things, but it'd be nice if they finally solved the crime.
My VERY first race ever and I'm running in the cold, in my UNDERWEAR!
Please consider a donation no matter how big or small, every little bit helps!
And yes, there will be photos of proof I ran in my underwear in February!
For more information on the race, use this link.
A company has announced plans to build a lunar base using 3D printer technologies. How much of the base will be built on site and how much will be shipped up the good ol' fashioned way isn't made clear in the article. Neither is the booster with enough oomph to do the job named. Still, it's nice to see someone working to make it back up there. I'm just not holding my breath until they do.
And in the "Least Expected Historic Artifact" bin, we have Hitler's toilet. It's not clear, from the article, if Hitler ever actually used it. What is clear is that a whole bunch of other people have for decades. In New Jersey, no less. It just keeps getting more and more appropriate.