Delusional skeptic, reveling in a multiple-personality disorder. Alternating between a 21st-century blogger, a 3rd-century BC Carthagenian general, a 5th-century BC druid, a 23rd-century BC Beaker-people trader, a 20th-century Estonian freedom-fighter, a time-traveler, and a sheepdog in Wyoming.
The MSNBC.com article (here) describes it as a panorama. ANAICT, it's what we would see if we were planet-sized and gazing towards the center of the Milky Way from here. With the background light from the earth subtracted out, and then the light of all these stars and galaxies enhanced by a thousand times or so.
All I know is that it's cool as heck. Even when I time- and dimension-hop, I don't get to see scenes like this.
The Ig Nobel Prizes are bestowed annually by some zany people at Harvard University. They go to bona fide researchers whose projects sometimes leave us ordinary folks scratching our heads.
Here are some of the 2009 winners...
PUBLIC HEALTH PRIZE
Went to Elena Bodnar and others "for inventing a brassiere than in an emergency, can be quickly converted into a pair of gas masks." FYI, this has been patented (US Patent # 7,255,627). A demonstration of the invention is pictured above.
VETERINARY MEDICINE PRIZE
Awarded to Catherine Douglas and Peter Rowlinson "for showing that cows who have names give more milk than cows that are nameless". 258 liters more per year, for those who are interested.
Went to researchers at the University of Bern "for determining - by experiment - whether it is better to be smashed over the head with a full bottle of beer or with an empty bottle." In case you're wondering, try to get hit with an empty one.
To scientists at Japan's Kitasato University "for demonstrating that kitchen refuse can be reduced more than 90% in mass by using bacteria extracted from the feces of giant pandas." Yeah, I'm ordering a couple of Ling-Lings tonight.
To Miguel Apatiga and co-workers who discovered a way to make diamonds out of tequila.
You can find these, and the rest of the awards (Economics, Medicine, and Physics) in National Geogrpahic's article here.
The Gathering Storm, Book 12 of the Wheel Of Time fantasy saga hit the stores today, and I made a special trip down to Barnes & Noble to buy it tonight. At 766 pages in a hardcover-sized book, this is gonna take some time to get through, especially since I have to try and remember what all the characters were doing at the close of Book 11.
According to the latest MSNBC article here, Mommy finally fessed up that the balloon boy saga was a premeditated hoax. Daddy is still maiintaining it was real. Not that anyone believes him.
On the day that li'l Falcon hid out in the garage, it took me about two paragraphs to realize it was a scam. To be fair, it didn't take the authorities much longer than that.
As soon as I read that they had previously been on a Reality Show, it was obvious this was a fraud. The odds of having two "15 minutes of Fame" moments are quite long. It's kinda like the lottery. Win it once, and I say, "Congratulations!" Win it twice, and I say, "How'd you cheat the system?".Mayumi, you might conisder going the Octomom route. Yeah, it's been done, but not behind bars, so there's a new twist. Papa Richard, be sure to take some vaseline with you to prison. And to all three of you, my closing remark is, "WTF WERE YOU THINKING??"
Liz and I are going to Sedona (Arizona) in a couple weekends. Sedona has some majestic scenery (red rock formations), some la-di-dah art galleries, and more than its share of New Age idiots.
The latter brought Sedona into the headlines last week when three people died in a self-help guru's homemade sweat lodge. It turns out Mr. Enlightenment, one James Arthur Ray, had neglected to get the necessary permits for his structure. You can read the latest MSNBC article on this here. A photo of his sweat lodge is below.
. Folks, when it comes to fulfilling your spiritual yearnings, all I can say is, "Whatever floats your boat". But according to the article, these "seekers" paid Mr. Guru as much as $9,000 to spend five days at his compound. At least three of those days (consecutively) they ate nothing, and capped that ordeal off by hanging out in the sweat lodge.
Peeps! WTF were you thinking? You put your life in the hands of a glib-talking fraud, and you paid him beaucoup d'argent for this privilege? Do you think there's something exceptionally mystical about Sedona? Did you take that Billy Jack movie too seriously?
If you want to "get closer to God" while almost killing yourself, you might want to forget this charlatan and go join the Native American Church. They're in the neighborhood. They'll give you some peyote buttons to eat. Just ignore their advice about digging out the "tufts" and eat the peyote "as is". Them thar cool-looking tufts are strychnine. They'll give you a near-death experience along with your visions.
And BTW, the investigation into the cause of the deaths is still in progress. But here's my prediction - they died from not enough oxygen in the sweat-lodge air. You basically had a confined-space, where the steam had displaced some of the O2. You don't need to go down to Zero Oxygen to die. Normal air has about 21% O2; drop that down to about 16%, and it's lights out, baby. Watch the articles, the authorities will eventually figure this out.
...they're blowing in the wind. No, actually, they're conducting clannish root-sessions, according to an MSNBC article you can find here.
Wow. Who knew they were all touchy-feely with their families, and hands-offish with strangers? And territorial. If they're this sentient, does that mean carrots can "feel" it when we slice them up to put in a salad; or that a dismembered tree "screams" in a fireplace?
This brings back vaguely unsettling memories of a film from the 60's, called The Day Of The Triffids. A great movie, BTW. Wiki's article on it is here. I didn't realize it was based on a book, which I'm now gonna have to try to find.
. Oh well. I'm sure PETA will issue an idiotic bulletin about "Our Friends The Flora", and vegans will now be reduced to eating rocks, Elmer's glue, dittoheads, and other inanimate objects.
If you substitute a horse for the cow in the above cartoon, you have a regular encounter on one of our (doggy) walk routes. There's a horse in one of the "yards" along the way, and Huxley, is just fascinated by him.
As in the comic, he's more curious about, than scared of, the horse. In fact, he enjoys walking right up to the fence and sniffing him. But he can't figure out why the "giant dog" won't bark back at him.
This is what I'll be buying and starting to read on 27 October. Look for a review of it in early November. Then I probably will look for some other stuff by Brandon Sanderson, to figure out why Robert Jordan selected him to be his (so to speak) ghost-writer.
I know what you're thinking - that this is a spoof. But it's a real book - the Amazon link to buy a copy is here. Don't ask me why the paperback version is $25 more expensive than the hardcover. Oh, and read the eight (as of this posting) reviews - they are hilarious.
I still know what you're thinking - that this is some sort of joke that somehow got past the Amazon administrators. But BION, Wikipedia has an entry about dear, dear Vanessa. Which you can access here. I note in passing that Vanessa was voted to be #93 in the "100 Worst Britons" (link here), although to be fair, there are some pretty impressive people ahead of her on that list.
There were three interesting articles about gay rights in the past week. For starters, there was this week's "Jesus and Mo" cartoon, shown below. You can see more of that great strip at www.jesusandmo.net. As usual, the cartoon makes a poignant point. Next we have an AP article that ran in today's Arizona Republic, and which you can read here. An LDS apostle said that "the anti-Mormon backlash after California voters overturned gay marriage last fall is similar to the intimidation of Southern blacks during the civil rights movement".
Yeah, right, dude. I'm sure Martin Luther King would feel chummy with you, knowing that you poured millions of dollars into efforts to deny gays their basic civil rights. Marc Solomon's remarks in the AP article are spot on.
But there was some good news as well. An evangelist named Brent Childers (whoever he is) actually applied "WWJD" to the gay rights issue (albeit, only because his mom challenged him to do so), saw its ugliness, and changed his stance. You can read his Newsweek article about it here.
The struggle continues. There will come a day when gay rights will triumph over hatred and bigotry, even if the latter has all the $$$ on its side. And yes, it does evoke memories of the Civil Rights Movement. But Dallin, baby, you'll be flabbergasted to see which side of that movement your politics-playing LDS church is likened to.
As in, "Scrumping apples". Technically, it means to filch them, although the connotation seems more akin to "gleaning a field". The dog in the pic is scrumping a small apple (can we call it an "applet"?).
I am told this is a common word in the UK. I don't think it ever crossed the pond to the US. Which reinforces one of my pet sayings - "England and America - two nations separated by a common language."
The 2009 Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to President Obama, which put a number of my workmates in a foul mood last Friday. There are several reasons why I'm happy about this :
.a.) It p*ssed off Republicans.
b.) It p*ssed off the dittoheads.
c.) It p*ssed off the bigots.
d.) It p*ssed off the Taliban.
e.) It was a middle finger salute to the Dubnutz-Cheney regime..
Yeah, I know. Reasons "a" thru "c" really only count as one. Also, there is some merit to the main line of dittohead self-righteous outrage - that Obama hasn't done much to be awarded such a prestigious prize. Even I have some reservations about this. After all, the USA continues to illegally occupy Iraq; Afghanistan has become a 21st-century Vietnam; and the immoral and illegal Torture Camp remains open at Guantanamo.
But the history of the prize shows it is sometimes given as a sign of hope, as opposed to solely being a reward to past deeds. By reaching out to the Muslims, and dialoguing with the rest of the world; Obama has built/rebuilt an American image that was sullied by the previous eight years.
One strange piece of Peace Prize history. In 1949, Josef Stalin for some reason believed he was about to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Now that would've been a travesty. When those Norwegian No-Goodniks failed do this, Uncle Josef got quite perturbed.
So he invented his own Peace Prize, and humbly called it the "International Stalin Prize For Strengthening Peace Among Peoples". The first awards (there could be multiple winners in a given year) were given out in 1950. After his death and fall from Soviet grace, his name in the Prize was replaced by Lenin's. The prize was discontinued in 1990, after the collapse of the Soviet Union. You can read the Wiki article on it here.
So congratulations, Obama! Now please get to work rewarding the hope that's been placed in you.
As a kid, this was my "solution" for traffic problems (we didn't worry about dependence on foreign oil in those days). Multi-laned streets. No need for cars. Just jump on the slowest, right-hand belt. It would be going at 5 mph. In a hurry? Jump one belt to your left; it would be going 10 mph. And so on. I don't think I ever determined what the maximum speed would be.
To get off, you kept just jumping one conveyor belt at a time to the right, deceleratng by 5 mph with each jump, until you were in the slow, right-most lane. Intersections were no problem - just build an overpass.
It made sense to my 7-year-old mind. Of course, I had no comprehension of (and no interest in) the energy needed to power such a conveyor system. That's why I'm a chemist, not a chemical engineer. Scientists have visions; engineers make them reality.
It was curious to see the word whatever appear in two comic strips in today's paper, since yesterday a Marist poll declared it to be the "most annoying word for 2009".
The other annoying choices were "anyway", "you know", "it is what it is", and "at the end of the day". Whateverwon in all demographic categories. You can see the complete poll results here.
Personally, I would have voted for "it is what it is". Whatever at least conveys something, albeit, anI-don't-give-a-sh*t attitude."It is what it is" is just pseudo-intellectual babble-filler, devoid of meaning. Tack it on anywhere, and it adds nothing. For example : "Obama's Healthcare Plan. It is what it is."
The only thing I didn't like about the poll was that the respondents had only five choices (plus "unsure") to choose from. It would've been better to also have a "none of the above" option, and then to be able to list your own offering.
For instance, I know someone who uses the phrase "you know what I mean?" about every 30 seconds in a conversation. As in, "I was driving home tonight. And traffic was a b*tch, you know what I mean? So I called Domino's Pizza to order something for supper. But I still had to stop and pick it up, you know what I mean? So it wasn't the same as going out to eat. I just don't feel appreciated anymore, you know what I mean?"
Ayup. Like fingernails on a chalkboard. It is what it is.
What's the latest rage for socializing? Something you used to play at recess in elementary school - kickball. NBC Sports did a feature article on it last week. You can read about it here.
. Jason played in a kickball league last year. I didn't get an opportunity to go see a game - they scheduled them much too late at night for this geezer.
The only difference I can see from the picture above, is that the pitcher doesn't roll the ball to home plate. I'm guesing this makes it more sporting. The strike zone is something like 1 foot to either side of the plate, and 1 foot off the ground. I don't think it'll ever supplant Quidditch For Muggles (see here), but it probably beats throwing darts in a bar.
It's got meter. It rhymes. It has cohesion. Opus roolz!.
But in fairness, the best cartoonist/poet ever was Walt Kelly and his comic strip, Pogo. I have about two dozen Pogo books in my library, all of them out of print. Here's a sample of Pogo Prose...
Gamboling on the gumbo
With the gambits all in gear,
I daffed upon a dilly
Who would be my dolly dear.
Oh, Dilly, I would dally
If you'd be but truly true.
How silly, I must sally
Off to do my duly do.
And BTW, there has never been anyone better than Walt Kelly when it comes to a beautifully-drawn strip. If you ever chance upon a Pogo book, snatch it up as fast as you can.
There's more than a century's worth of company experience in this picture. Left-to-right : 35 years, 36 years, and 32 years. Plus, José and I were the night shift at a gas station prior to coming to work for our present place of employment.
Effective today, the FTC has mandated that all bloggers must disclose any freebies and/or payment we receive to give testimonials. You can read MSNBC.com's article on it here.
. So I am forced to admit it. SarahPalin pays me for the publicity I give her here on my blog. Sorry, Sarah. Rules are rules.
This painting is by Nicolas Poussin(1594-1665) and goes by two titles : Les Bergers d'Arcadie and Et In Arcadia Ego. It may look like a normal old boring classical painting to you, but it figures in a whole bunch of religious conspiracy theories. You can read about them here.
Interesting stuff, but I'm a bit skeptical, and I am by nature a conspiracy nut. Latin anagrams?! C"mon now.