Thursday, January 31, 2008

Futuristic Bed: Strange-Looking, Anyway

"Sleeping Capsule"

You'd need a really big bedroom for this inflatable bed. It's made of PVC, and looks like a giant's sheet of bubble wrap.

Online Games: and They're Free

"Game Post"

" is a collection of free flash games and shockwave games. Play a game!"

Digital paper dolls, "Territory War," "The Endless zombie rampage," "Tanks," and that's just the first page.

If you're old enough, you may remember the old 'artillery' game that "Tanks" evolved from.

Snow Machine Invented by 10-Year-Old

"Whiz kid invents snow machine"

"... The nozzle on his concoction sprays out a perfect powder. His machine is so efficient that it produced the astounding three feet of snow overnight."

Advice for Writers, Strictly for Laughs

"Rules for writers"

A list of good advice for writers, weirdly written: and strictly for laughs.


A Serious Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence: A New Wrinkle in the Maxwell Equations

"Galactic Wi-fi?"

This is today's's "SETI Thursday" post.

Some Swedish physicists have found a previously-unexplored wrinkle in the Maxwell equations. It may be - should be - possible to boost the bit rate for narrow-band transmissions, encoding information in the signal's angular momentum.

Don't worry: the article does a better job of explaining the ideas than that last paragraph.

SETI: Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence. Not a coalition of "I was abducted by alien proctologists." The SETI Institute is a serious organization, trying to find signs of intelligent life in the universe: preferably within a few hundred light-years of us.

Related posts, at

Internet Cables Cut, Outages From Egypt to Bangladesh

"India and Mideast struggle with Internet outages" International Herald Tribune (January 31, 2008)

Two undersea cables, north of Egypt, got cut yesterday. Users from Egypt to Bangladesh lost their Internet connections. Indian companies are trying to find out how many service calls got lost in the process.

I think this article shows how tightly interconnected we are, these days.

(This post repeated on "Another War-on-Terror Blog.")

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

In a World of Stupid Labels: a Trampoline and Whitetail Deer

"This Is Why Trampolines Are Dangerous"

" 'Warning! Do not jump on trampoline while whitetail deer are underneath. Antlers may cause injury or death.' "

Weird Information List

"Useless facts! Weird Information humor"

From "The sentence 'the quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog' uses every letter in the English language."
To "There are 336 dimples on a regulation golf ball."

I'm a little dubious about some of the assertions here, and wouldn't call all the entries "useless," but it's a fun list.

Firefox Dark Theme: Cool

"Sweet Black Theme for Firefox"

This doesn't have anything to do with people whose ancestors lived in Africa.

The writer like this particular Firefox theme: you may, too.

(I promise: no more posts from this site tonight!)

Firefox, Screenshots, and Images

"Create Screenshot Image of Entire Web Page in Firefox"

... and now you know how.

Domain Tasters: Google's on the Move

"Google takes a stand against domain tasters"
profy (January 26, 2008)

"Domain tasting - also known as domain kiting - an underhanded exploitation of a loophole in domain name registration rules that allows unscrupulous SEO ad jockeys to grab a domain name and make money off of it without paying for it. What this means for legitimate web users is that they often can't get their hands on the domain names they want because the domain names are being wasted on these money making schemes."

Good for Google. This post discusses possible motives and probable results of Google's actions.

Billions and Billions of Names: Generated for You

"The Name Generator"

The site claims: "Our name generator can spit out over 463 billion different first and last name combinations."

"How It Works" gives you a 404 error message, which wasn't too promising.
("Not Found
"The requested URL /howItWorks.php was not found on this server.
"Additionally, a 404 Not Found error was encountered while trying to use an ErrorDocument to handle the request.")

The tags are a bit fun, and the generator works. Not, perhaps, humanity's greatest achievement: but I can think of worse ways to spend a couple of minutes.

With a little patience, and quite a lot of luck, this could be a resource for writers seeking character names.

Interactive View of the Sky

"Neave Planetarium"

"Welcome to the playground of one Mr Paul Neave, serial Flash fettler and interactive designer. Paul says hello. Hello!"

An interactive view of the sky: pan, rotate; and see what happens when you run the cursor over a star. Date, time, latitude, longitude can be re-set.

Groovy! Pot Vending Machines in LA a Major Turn-On

"Vending machines dispense pot in LA"
SFGate, San Francisco Chronicle (January 30, 2008)

Like, wow! "Medical" marijuana is now dispensed by vending machines, 24/7, in LA spots like the Herbal Nutrition Center.

They're "medical cannabis dispensaries," which is much more scientific and medical than 'weed machine' or 'buzz-o-matic' or 'grass patch.'

Down at the Timothy Leary Medical Dispensary(1) in the San Fernando Valley, the pot machine is only available during business hours.

I know: there are experts who say that their pot prescriptions are funky pain relievers: and that if you don't agree, you just aren't with it, man.
(1) I didn't make up that name.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

The Case of the Kissing Sailor: Solved

"Kissing Sailor - Found at Last"

Remember that famous photo of a young couple kissing, right after he came of the ship at the end of WWII? The sailor is, most likely, Glenn Edward McDuffie. He know more about the other people shown in the photo that others who have said 'that's me.' And, Houston police detectives, polygraph sessions, and biometrics show that the young man in the photo is Mr.McDuffie.

The House of the Future: Ecofuture, This Time

"All Your Ecobase Are Belong To Us"
treehugger (January 29, 2009)

"Ecobase is another "green" building system out of Europe complete with its green pitch: 'Your house is also a lifestyle choice, your statement to the other. It expresses how and in what kind of environment you want to live. To live in EcoBase means to make a natural choice. To exist like a part of nature's cycle and state to the other that you are not indifferent to the environmental problems.' Little green tips pop up on every page of the website...."

(from nnnovodesign, via treehugger, used without permission)

In the half-century that I've seen 'houses of the future,' that all-white wardrobe and wardrobe has been a recurring theme. Happily, that achromatic archetype never made the transition from 'could be' to 'is.'

Treehugger seems a big tense about logs being used in the house. Understandable.

"15 Hilarious Church Signs"

"15 Hilarious Church Signs"

I may be missing something here, but this post seems to have a good-natured view of traditional Christianity. My favorite is "don't be so open-minded your brains fall out."

On the other hand, the last sign, "Jesus says I will make my home with you" suggests that the person who collected these photos may not understand the Christian faith.

Whatever, these are funny photos. 16 of them.

I think the 16th sign was an ad for a singles, ah, dating service.

Googlebomb: New Word for an Old Impulse

"Scientology Googlebomb"

... and now I've got a new word: Googlebomb. (The page defines Googlebomb as "A Googlebomb means a lot of people get together to link to a specific site, often an 'enemy site,' using specific e.g. funny link text. This way, the target site will appear ranked at #1 in Google for this text, making for an embarrassing effect.")

This strikes me as the online equivalent of naughty boys writing someone's name on a lavatory wall. Except that in this case, we all suffer when the people who maintain search engines have to spend their time sorting out the mess, instead of designing the next set of improvements.

Okay: rant over.

Amazing Astrophotography

"IC 1848, HII Region in Cassiopeia" as seen from Azor Observatory, Las Rozas, Madrid,Spain.

Prepare to be amazed.

Food Fight!


Food fight arms race starting? This spring-loaded spoon should add range and impact to ballistic beets and other culinary ordinance.

"Available in Red or Assorted (Red, Purple, Green), packaged in clear, recyclable, peggable display boxes."

Can You Digg it? Digg's Algorithm, Potrero Hill, and Distinctions

I don't often revisit topics - at least not this soon - I had a flash of inspiration while leaving a comment on "Digg’s Double-Edged Sword" (my first post was "Digg Looking Beyond the Bay?").

As I wrote before, I signed up with DIGG some time ago. I'll probably touch base there again this year. It's a fine website for people living in San Francisco’s Potrero Hill neighborhood and their friends: but that's all it is.

That's not a criticism. Just an observation.

A not-altogether-unreasonable comparison would be the Royal Ascot. There's nothing wrong with the race, and it's been a fine occasion for British ladies to show off their new hats.

But a son-of-an-Irishman like me has about as much place at Ascot as a skunk in a flower shop. Outside the stables, of course.
About The Royal Ascot: A close look at the photos suggests that the Ascot isn't as exclusive as it used to be, at least for the ladies. I still have my doubts about how well an Irishman would fit into the aristocratic mix.

Ah, well: The horses and the hats look fine.

Procrastination: the Poster

"a Procrastination Poster"

This is funny.

Well, That's Interesting


A map of webcams, apparently.

Evil Lairs and Criminal Hideouts

"20 of the Best Evil Lairs and Criminal Hideouts"

From Dr. Evil’s Secret Underground Lair, Las Vegas to - The Oval Office?!

A Glass Fireplace?

"Glass Fireplace by Bloch-Design"

Very impressive, quite attractive, and highly imaginative.

What the promotional text doesn't mention is just who is going to keep the thing clean.

Norm Duke, Two Bowling Balls, and a
Spinning Ball Spare Conversion

"Cool Bowling Strike" "Description: Creative way to knock them all down!"

A brief video, of a sort of novelty bowling act. Norm Duke with a great deal of skill, and two bowling balls, does a 'spinning ball spare conversion.'

And, yes: it's a MySpace video. Although I posted "Don't Read This if You Love MySpace And the Spacerettes," that was not complimentary about MySpace and the spacerettes, I'll readily admit that MySpace has good content.

Monday, January 28, 2008

And You Think You Had a Bad Teacher?

"Teacher steals boys' undies at knifepoint"

Eight boys, age 12 and 13, were playing on a Tokyo playground.

He forced them to take of their pants and underwear at knifepoint, taking the skivvies.

He's 'suspected' of taking a cellphone from one of them, and making "nuisance calls" to the boy's home afterward.

"The principal of the school where he taught was shown on TV saying he was a dedicated teacher."

No doubt: but dedicated to what?

(In fairness, I'm no expert: There may be something in Japanese culture that makes this a a reasonable response for a teacher who saw boys playing.)

Top 5 Monolithic Skyscrapers:
Ronald Marbles's Opinion

"World's Top Five Monolithic Skyscrapers"

"The skyscraper is a sublime manifestation of scale. Though designed for human occupancy, the magnitude of repetition that characterizes these buildings exceeds our ability to measure ourselves against them, rendering them unsaleable. Monolithic skyscrapers further exaggerate the effect of scalelessness by employing urban-scale gestures that span their full height."

Photos and descriptions.

Digg Looking Beyond the Bay?

"Digg’s Double-Edged Sword The Digg world was in disarray this week." (January 27, 2008)

"As you may be aware, Digg recently tweaked the algorithm it uses to determine which stories make the front page. This might not seem like a big deal to most, but some of the top Diggers were up in arms and staged what they referred to as a near “revolt”. Several of the top Diggers expressed concerns that the new algorithm makes it more difficult for their submitted stories to make it to the front page, amounting to what they construe as punishment for their success."

This seems to be a pretty good discussion of the Digg situation.

I'm a member of Digg myself, but am not very active. After signing up, I found that I had about as much chance of contributing to, or benefiting from, the tight little community centered on San Francisco’s Potrero Hill neighborhood, as I have of winning the Nobel Peace Prize.

This isn't a criticism of Digg. As far as I'm concerned, it's fine for people in a particular area with similar interests and beliefs to put together an online community. And, since Digg's area is one of the better spots around San Francisco Bay, it's natural that their community site is regarded as very important.

Pale as a Ghost?
Never Have to Worry About Sunburn?
Here's Why

"Vulnerabilities: Skin colour map (indigenous people) predicted from multiple environmental factors"

How this is a "Vulnerabilities" is something of a mystery. A rational explanation would be that it shows where people with pale skin are most likely to get sunburned, and where people with full pigmentation may get vitamin D deficiencies. The global map is interesting, though. And, the UV protection/vitamin D production trade off for my ancestral homelands explains my own melanin deficiency.

Chester Beatty Library: Art Museum and Library

"Welcome to the Chester Beatty Library Website"

"... the Chester Beatty Library is an art museum and library which houses the great collection of manuscripts, miniature paintings, prints, drawings, rare books and some decorative arts assembled by Sir Alfred Chester Beatty (1875-1968). The Library's exhibitions open a window on the artistic treasures of the great cultures and religions of the world. Its rich collection from countries across Asia, the Middle East, North Africa and Europe offers visitors a visual feast. Chester Beatty Library was named Irish Museum of the year in 2000 and was awarded the title European Museum of the Year in 2002."

About the U.S. Constitution

"Fascinating Facts about the U.S. Constitution"


"The U.S. Constitution has 4,400 words. It is the oldest and shortest written Constitution of any major government in the world."


"During an event to celebrate the Constitution’s Sesquicentennial in 1937, Harry F. Wilhelm recited the entire document through the newly added 21st Amendment from memory. He then obtained a job in the Sesquicentennial mailroom!"

Instant Ruins:
Abandoned Wonders of the Former Soviet Union

"7 Abandoned Wonders of the Former Soviet Union:
From Submarine Stations to Unfinished Structures

"There are abandonments all over the world, but the former Soviet Union has some of the most interesting, unique and strange abandoned buildings. The complex political, military and social history of the country has led to everything from almost-finished buildings abandoned before actual use and entire abandoned cities to chilling gulags in which tens of millions of prisoners met their end."

photos, descriptions.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

About Geitost, Goats, Cheese, and Taste

(As I said, back in Lemming Tracks, this is the last post I'll make, for about 24 hours. Until then, here's a word about Geitost.)

In a previous post, I mentioned gjetost. If you know about this aromatic and unforgettable (no matter how hard you try) goats-milk cheese at all, you probably spell it geitost.

I'm half Norwegian. Growing up, my grandmother sometimes let me east gjetost, a goats-milk cheese. That's pronounced "yaytost," by the way, by this American-English speaker who heard heard the (Oslo-area) Norwegian pronunciation.

I learned that primost was a more 'upper crust' sort of cheese, but I liked my gjetost.

A few years ago, I decided to treat myself to a block. That took a little doing. The stuff's not to be found around central Minnesota now: Scandinavians being what we are, we've abandoned much of our culture over the generations.

And eating habits.

I special-ordered a small amount of gjetost: and discovered that the taste wasn't quite as definite as I remembered. Naturally enough, I thought. It's been upwards of four decades since I tasted it, and my senses may have dulled.

Then I looked at the label. The stuff, made for export to English-speaking countries, was diluted 50-50 with cow's milk!! COW'S milk! No wonder it tasted bland.

Oddly, the closest I've found to gjetost is a Middle-Eastern cheese: and, confound it, I can't remember the name! Frustrating.

I thought, once, of keeping a few goats, so that we could make our own cheese. My wife pointed out all the labor involved in making cheese. She also pointed out that we live in town and that, unlike me, all our neighbors have a sense of smell.

Gluten-Free Cooking: Someone's Blogging About this!

"Gluten-Free Girl
by Shauna James Ahern"

The most recent entry on this blog is "the joy of eating 'Mexican' food."

I wasn't going to post here until Sunday (see my earlier post), but this is too good to pass up. Particularly since my oldest daughter is gluten-intolerant. She likes wheat products just fine: but her body can't process them correctly.

One paragraph of "Gluten-Free Girl" jumped out at me while skimming it:

"Of course, I’m well aware that what I’m calling Mexican food should probably be written as 'Mexican' food. (Maybe in that former life I worked in the kitchen of a Tex-Mex restaurant.) In most of the US, we eat a watered-down, overly bland version of real Mexican food."

I can identify with that. I'm half Norwegian, and sometimes had gjetost ("geitost" is a more global spelling), a goats-milk cheese. Geitost, or gjesost is pronounced "yaytost," more or less.

Lemming Tracks

You're right: I haven't posted anything here since Thursday.

Family business has distracted me.

There won't be any more posts today, but I hope to have something by tomorrow night: That's Sunday, January 27, 2007.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Maps of the World Online

"Maps of World"

You want maps? They've got maps!

"World Map in different styles catering to the requirements of users across the world. Maps of World is a repository of Physical Maps, Political Maps, Outline Maps, and Location Maps of all countries. One can also find Printable World Map, Blank World Map, Continent Map, World Time Zone Map, World Geography Map, World Economy Map, World Travel Map, and many more maps in the site which can be bought in different resolutions and formats."

The ones I looked up are free: and the quality is decent.

Not a bad resource!

Now You, Too, Can Count to Four in Tewa!

"Vocabulary Words in the Kiowa-Tanoan Language Family"

These are languages spoken in the Grand Canyon-Smoky Hills-Ozark Plateau-Lake Tawakoni area.

There's a list of ten words: First in English (and French), then in Kiowa, and in Tewa.

The site that this page is a part of looks like a serious attempt to create translation dictionaries for a selection of American Indian languages. They're trying to be inoffensive, too, using the terms "Amerindian," "Native American," and "American Indian."

Digital Domino Flash Drives: No Kidding

" Domino-Shaped Flash Drive Indicates Used Space"

This is clever: Each half of a 'domino' is a flash drive that can be plugged into another of this design. "They have dots on them, that each represent a giga of space loaded on the drive."

A Brazilian company makes them: for their sake, I hope they get their global marketing set up for next Christmas season. I think they've got a winner here, in the digital novelties division.

Don't Read This if You Love MySpace
And the Spacerettes

"January 30th is International Delete Your MySpace Account Day"

I try to avoid being negative, but this blogger has a point. I've got a MySpace account myself, so a number of his reasons for dropping MySpace rang true:

"1. You rarely log in to Myspace except to delete spam friend requests from nude webcam girls." (how's "spacerettes" as a term to describe them?)

"6. You visit someone’s profile only to have your eyes bleed because of terrible page layout with non-matching designs and font colors."

"7. Your experience is hindered because of intrusive banner ads that either talk to you or try to reach out and block your view of what you’re trying to look at."

"8. You read yet another news account about how some child predator using Myspace has abducted a little girl or that some hoax myspace account has caused a teenager to commit suicide."

"9. You’re frustrated with the fact that Myspace doesn’t allow you to post your contact info, meaning to contact someone you can only use Myspace’s glitchy Instant Messenger, message/email system, or wall commenting."

And, although this doesn't apply to me, there's:

"3. You’re a girl who constantly gets marriage proposals from random men in the middle east."

What floors me, given my experience with that sleazy pickup bar of a 'social networking' service, is how successful it's been. I suppose it's those improbably hot-to-trot spacerettes.

Wrist Video Player

"Cool Concepts - E-Paper Bracelet Video Player"

This seems to be for real: and it doesn't need a battery.

Add a transceiver, and you've got Dick Tracey's wrist communicator.

Writing Early in the Morning

"How to Write First Thing in the Morning"

Also, why. This is a pretty good how-2 for writers. Easy to read, not so easy to implement.

How Not to Dry a Baby, and Other Obvious Advice

"Do's and don'ts with babies Hilarious Pics"

Done in the style of those instructional line drawings. I think it's a funny lot, but some of the illustrations might not be everyone's cup of tea.

Employee With Secure Job Sabatoges Company

"Angry Employee Deletes All of Company's Data"

It all started when she saw a 'help wanted' ad in the paper.

Better Ideas From France: A Car That Runs on Compressed Air

"French Company Develops Car That Runs on Compressed Air"

"What seemed like a pipe dream may soon become reality as Frenchman Guy Negre hopes versions of his compressed air car will be produced in India this year by Tata Motors Ltd after a 15 year quest for backers for his invention."

More ideas - good, dubious, and strange - at "Better Ideas From ... "

Sounds too Good to be True?

"Colleges, Universities and Websites Offering Free Computer Programming Education Online"

I'd do due diligence, before signing up, or downloading, anything here - but it looks like a good idea.

Why "It Can't Be Done" is a Dangerous Statement


He's probably right.

Among my favorites are
  • " 'Everything that can be invented has been invented.' --Charles H. Duell, Commissioner, U.S. Office of Patents, 1899."
  • " 'Heavier-than-air flying machines are impossible.' --Lord Kelvin, president, Royal Society, 1895."
  • " 'Professor Goddard does not know the relation between action and reaction and the need to have something better than a vacuum against which to react. He seems to lack the basic knowledge ladled out daily in high schools.' --1921 New York Times editorial about Robert Goddard's revolutionary rocket work."
  • " 'A cookie store is a bad idea. Besides, the market research reports say America likes crispy cookies, not soft and chewy cookies like you make.' --Response to Debbi Fields' idea of starting Mrs. Fields' Cookies."

How to Make Pin-Hole Glasses

Robert Krampf: "Science Experiment #37" - making an emergency pair of glasses.

This is fun, my opinion, and potentially useful.

I don't generally repeat posts, but this will be a rare exception. "How to Make Pin-Hole Glasses" was originally posted November 28, 2007.

Beat Writers's Block

"7 Ways To Give Writer's Block A Severe Beating"

Pretty good advice.

(I hope I don't get into trouble for advocating violence.)

Free WebCam Software

"FREEWARE Windows Webcams Software"

I'm using Fwink webcam software now, and am quite satisfied with it.

I'm also using another bit of webcam software, and am looking for something better. This looks like a pretty good resource, so I thought I'd share it.

"Know the Enemy and Know Yourself"

"Don't know your ARP from your Elbow?"

A glossary of computer security threats, from 419 scam to Zone Transfer attack: in plain English.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Street Paintings With Unreal Depth

"3D street paintings"

I think I've seen some of these photos before, and heard who did the artwork. And, forgotten the details.

Does someone know who created these, and where they were done?

Astronomers Excited About Nothing

... in this case, a whole lot of nothing:

"Biggest void in space is 1 billion light years across"

Word-Only Ads Can Stand Out With ASCII Art

"Using ASCII Art on Google Adwords - Brilliantly Innovative!"

This post, with a screenshot, shows how one company made their text-only ads stand out: and boosted clicks 47%.

If You Have One of These Products, Change the Default Password

"Default Password List"

A massive list of default passwords.

A word of advice: If you have one of these devices or products, and haven't done so already, change the password!

World-Changing Discoveries - Maybe

"Breakthroughs From 2007 Most Likely to Change the World"

A list of 10, from "Smaller Transistors" to "Skin Cells Turned Into Stem Cells" - with dinosaurs in between.

Test Your Knowledge of the Apostrophe

"Using the apostrophe 1."

Think you know how to use the apostrophe? Take this test. (Numbers 9 and 10 are, given the grammar of English, ambiguous, so here's a hint: There's only one cat, and many Romans.)

Links to more about using the apostrophe of possession, a list of other grammar exercises, and another exercise using the apostrophe are at the bottom.

Did You Say Something Stupid?
You're Not Alone




Daft quotes from famous (and not-so-famous) people.

"Security Paranoia Scale:" Digital Security Quantified

"Security Paranoia Scale Just like the Beaufort wind scale... but for security."

Common sense, digital security, and humor.

Security Paranoia Number 0 is called "Free and easy." This disaster-waiting-to-happen "Leaves door to house open. Writes PIN on credit card. Doesn't believe in having computer passwords. When forced to choose a password, chooses '12345'. Double clicks all attachments in email. Clicks on "Hundreds of new Smileys!" ads. Installs Bonsai Buddy."

Security Paranoia Number 9 is called "I have no name." You'll have to read about this one from the source.

"Actually Getting Stuff Done:" What a Concept!

"7 Powerful Steps to Overcoming Resistance and Actually Getting Stuff Done"

Pretty good advice, actually.

Social Network, Blog, and Web Brand Statistics

"Top 10 Social Networks, Blogs & Web Brand Rankings for Dec. 2007"

Nielson Ratings, reported by "Marketing Charts," with comments.

I noticed that blogging is still a growing phenomenon.

A Playing-Card Capitol Building, Two Watermelons, and an Apple Crate

"Capitol building made of 22000 cards" A 2-and-a-half-minute video featuring time-lapse of the conversion of sixty pounds of playing cards into a large model of a capitol building.

Two watermelons and an apple crate are also featured.

There may be some deep and relevant meaning to this video, but I think the young guys were having fun.

Network Solutions and Cybersquatting

"Domain Name Blackmail"

A very interesting claim about Network Solutions' business practices.

"It turns out that there is a new twist in cybersquatting, called “frontrunning.” Apparently, cybersquatters have worked out ways to see what domain names people are enquiring about on services like Network Solutions and GoDaddy. When they see that there is interest in a name they deem worthwhile, they will move in and snap it up before the person who originally searched for it can make up their minds."

"What Network Solutions claims it is doing is protecting people from the frontrunners: when someone searches for a domain name, they put a 4-day hold on it. The idea is that frontrunners would be foiled from snatching it up. That’s the claim, in any case."

The effect, according to the writer, of this practice is to force people to register through Network Solutions.

I'm not sure what to think about this: but until I know more, I'm not using Network Solutions for domain searches.

Monday, January 21, 2008

"Fifteen Men on the Dead Man's Chest:" More Than Just a Song

"Why 15 men sat on a Dead Man’s Chest"

"The mystery of the pirates' song, 'Fifteen men on the dead man's chest, yo-ho-ho and a bottle of rum,' from Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island, has been solved. Until now, its meaning has baffled readers and Stevenson himself never offered any explanation.

"The answer is provided by Geographical, published by the Royal Geographical Society, by an explorer who says Dead Mans Chest is part of the British Virgin Islands."

Interesting historical detail, relating to the Robert Louis Stevenson classic.

Top 10 Most Intriguing Gadgets: December 2007

"Top 10 Most Intriguing Gadgets Released in December 2007" - in Fahad's opinion, at least.

My favorites are "Sony’s Apple Remote Control" and the "Fingertip Sized Cube Speakers."

Sunday, January 20, 2008

New and Improved Conspiracy: 2012! And 'They' are Hiding the Truth!

"2012 Explained And why it shouldn't be feared"
Daily Common Sense (January 22, 2008)

If you liked the Millennium Bug, you'll love the 2012 Conspiracy!

Apparently, the Maya predicted that the world will end on December 21, 2012: and, naturally, there's a conspiracy to hide the truth.

This website looks like a good place to go for a cold shower, for anyone hot and bothered by 2012. And, unlike some of the 2012 sites, this one doesn't seem to be after you money.

So That's Where U.S. Rairoad Gauge Comes From!

"Railroads and Transportation"

"Does the statement, "We've always done
it that way" ring any bells? ... read to the end...
it was a new one for me.

Slightly off-color language, but it's almost unavoidable, considering where standard U.S. railroad gauge comes from.

Drawing How-2

"Quick Sketch - How to Draw like a Pro"

A pretty good how-2, heavy on text, but with pictures.

Nothing new here, but it's a good presentation of non-digital drawing and sketching techniques.

("Non-digital?" Isn't that old hat? I don't think so. I 'draw' with software now - mostly because I still haven't regained all sensation in three digits of my right hand - but believe that it's a good idea to start with paper-and-pencil/pen/marker. And, that there are things you can do with traditional media that are difficult, at best, to do digitally.)

The Galileo Tower Experience, in a Virtual World

"Explore Gravity"

"Try Galileo's famous experiment with gravity, then learn about 'motion tweening.' "

A virtual science experiment, where you drag two of three objects into a gentleman's hands, and have him drop them.

Humor Writing and Shakespeare: Really!

"Seven Steps to Better Humor Writing"
By Jan Hornung

A pretty good how-2 guide for writing humor. You'll get more out of it, if you've read Shakespeare.

Don't Know What to Write? 365 Writing Prompts

"Daily Writing Prompts 2007"

This could be a useful anti-writers'-block resource.

I didn't count them, but it looks like there are 365, from "The soft breeze carried a hint of moisture." to "The cruelty of exclusion."

Freedom of Speech and "Human Rights"

"Ezra Levant Takes Down Canadian 'Human Rights' Commission"

You may not agree with what this lawyer says, but you should be interested in that post and its videos. Particularly if you have opinions, and want to discuss them in public.

"Ezra Levant is a lawyer, blogger, and journalist who was recently compelled to appear before a “human rights” commission in Alberta, Canada, to account for his decision to publish the Danish cartoons of Mohammed in Western Standard Magazine. Full details on his battle for freedom of speech and the press in Canada are on Ezra Levant’s blog." (

What's in the post:

Videos of the interview: (also on YouTube)
  • Opening statement (print version available)
  • What was your intent?
  • The real violence in Edmonton
  • I don't answer to the state
  • Entitled to my opinion?
  • How does the commission make decisions?
  • Closing argument
  • Details of the complaint
Free speech for the counterjihad: Why we are all in this together
This post repeated on "Another War-on-Terror Blog."

Better Ideas From Japan: Human Tetris


Update (February 21, 2010)
The original page is no longer available. Here's a related video, on YouTube

"Human Tetris"

shadowbot09, YouTube (June 09, 2007)
video, 4:18

The idea is to avoid a moving barrier and stay dry.


More ideas - good, dubious, and strange - at "Better Ideas From ... "

Moldable Mouse: Ergonomic, Recyclable, Cool

"It’s not a Standard Mouse It’s the Moldable Mouse"

As of now, this may be the most ergonomic computer mouse around.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Re-Thinking the Camera

"Feature: Camera Designs That Think Outside the Box:"
  • Canon Snap, a U-shaped affair that fits over a finger
  • Sony Top, that reminds me of a lid for a wood stove
  • FlapCam, with more conventional book-like profile
  • Nikon 360, that looks like a game controller" or maybe a high-tech dousing rod
  • Kodak 1881, the post says it looks like an amulet: I thought it was a yo-yo
  • Triops, a camera you can play catch with??

Old Joke, New Tech

"The Misdirected Vacation E-Mail"

I first ran into versions this joke before there was email, but it's still funny.

Should-Know Vocabulary List

"100 Words Every High School Graduate Should Know"

From the editors of the American Heritage® dictionaries: from "abstemious" to "ziggurat."

Cloud Chandelier: Crystalline Light, Sky-High Price

"Cloud Chandelier by StoneGate"

An attention-getting, and attractive, chandelier: I can imagine someone deciding that it's worth the $4,700 price tag.

Architecture Fan Photos: Lots of Them

"10(+) architects I have been thinking about"

Photos of architecture: a seemingly endless scroll remarkable exteriors and interiors.

There's a bit of text, too.

Uneducated, Culturally Illiterate,Lazy, Television-Addicted, Selfish Americans

"Waiter Rant: Sieg Heil!"

A table of slightly sozzled Germans and an American waiter collide: with unexpected results.

There's something to be learned here.

Caution: Some not-suitable-for-broadcast language. Understandable, in context.

Scientists Find Universe in Test Tube: Next Step: Theory of Everything Tests in Superfluid

"Superfluid May Hold Answer to The Theory of Everything"

This is exciting, for people trying to figure out how the universe works.

"A 'universe in a test tube' that could be used to assess theories of everything has been created by physicists.

"Inside the tube an isotope of helium (called helium three) forms a "superfluid", an ordered liquid where all the atoms are in the same state according to the theory that rules the subatomic domain, called quantum theory.

"What is remarkable is that atoms in the liquid, at temperatures within a thousandth of a degree of absolute zero, form structures that, according to the team at Lancaster University, are similar those seen in the cosmos.

" 'In effect, we have made a universe in a test tube,' says Richard Haley, who did the work with Prof George Pickett and other members of the 'Ultra-low Temperature Group.' "

Sounds familiar? I posted about this earler: "Helium at 2 Degrees Above Absolute Zero: A Very Special Fluid" (January 12, 2008)

Friday, January 18, 2008

Coming Soon: Web-Ready Digital Contact Lenses

"New Contact Lenses Go Bionic"

Electronic circuits a few nanometers thick fit into the organic contact lenses. Rabbits don't seem to mind the things. The prototype doesn't do anything, but later models could light up, display information, or change the shape of the lens on demand.

Exciting times we live in!

Simian Suffrage Suffers: Judge Refuses Right to Sue

These news items are funny, in a weird way. There's also something serious going on here.

"Texas appeals court: Monkeys, chimps can't sue" "The Dallas Morning News" (January 18, 2008)

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) say that nine chimpanzees and monkeys at Primarily Primates sanctuary in Texas didn't have good living conditions. Then the case gets interesting: PETA says that the primates should sue.

Not that someone should sue on their behalf: that the chimps and monkeys themselves should sue.

A Texas appeals wouldn't play along, so now PETA may appeal to a higher court.

It can get weirder. And I don't mean the possibility that the Supreme Court might open the door to lawsuits by chimps (which just happen to be handled by the wild side of animal rights groups).

I think it's only a matter of time before a charismatic chimp will be presented as a simian Frederick Douglass.

"Monkey see, monkeys sue to be called a 'person'" "Oakland Tribune" (May 5, 2007)

Austrian chimp Matthew Hiasl Pan's lawyer said that he's a person, legally. "Our main argument is that Hiasl is a person and has basic legal rights," is how Eberhart Theuer, lawyer for the Vienna "Association Against Animal Factories" said.

The case didn't go well. For the chimp's backers, anyway:

"Take a Closer Look. It's a Chimp, Dude" " The Valley's Home Page" (January 15, 2008)

"The Vienna-based Association Against Animal Factories sought to have him declared a person and petitioned to be appointed Matthew's trustee.

"But the high court upheld a September ruling by a judge in the town of Wiener Neustadt rejecting the petition, the group said Tuesday."

I've been hearing and reading serious proposals for extending suffrage to animals for over twenty years now. Given the capacity for people to make daft decisions, I think it's quite possible that we'll have to have chimp-friendly voting booths in the not-too-distant future.

Not that many changes need to be made. A minute-long video by Black Box Voting shows Baxter the chimp hacking a Diebold touch-screen voting machine system. Diebold says that the video was staged, and their machines are okay.

The point is, chimps should be able to handle the voting process: physically.

Better Ideas From Hong Kong: Mobile House Sits on Tricycle

"Designer Creates Mobile House on a Tricycle for Hong Kong’s Crowded Conditions" (Reuters video, 1:35: "Designer Kacey Wong describes his mobile hut as 'dream home.' ")

A very, very compact house: with a special door, for use when the occupant wants to lie down.

More ideas - good, dubious, and strange - at "Better Ideas From ... "

"Free" Computer: Just Add Parts

"Canadian Software Lets You Turn One Computer Into Two, Completely Free"

"Completely free," providing you can find free video cards, USB keyboards, and mice. The software, however, is free.

Sounds like a nifty idea.

Cycling Through the Solar System: A Big Scale Model

"Tour the World's Largest Model of the Solar System"
"Welcome to the home of Jupiter, part of the world's largest scale model of the solar system."

And, "Tour the Solar System by bicycle, Every Summer>"

Photos, description, links.

The model uses the nine-planet Mercury-to-Pluto plus comets and asteroids definition of the Solar System, so I don't think you'll find Eris, Sedna, Quaoar and Orcus there.

Build Your Own (Model) Solar System

"Build a Solar System"

"Fill in the diameter of the Sun you want your model to be scaled by." Javascript does the rest.

From the Exploratorium.

Solar System Scale Model Link Page

"A Solar System Scale Model Meta Page"

"The idea: Making scale models of the solar system is a useful way to learn about it. Here are various related pages."

List of Scale Model Websites, World-Wide

International List of Scale Model Related Web Sites

By Categories:
  • General Interest
  • Static Display Models
  • Model Railroad
  • Special Interest
  • R/C Models
  • Supplies &
    Web Resources
By Country, and by "Pre-formulated Popular Search Terms:"
  • Land
    • Diecast car
    • Motorcycle
    • Formula 1
    • NASCAR
    • Lowrider
    • Hotwheel
  • Sea
    • Sailing ship
    • Wood ship
    • Warship
    • Tug boat
    • Submarine
  • Aero
    • Diecast plane
    • Aviation
    • Helicopter
    • Airliner
    • Luftwaffe
  • Train
    • G Scale
    • O Scale
    • S Scale
    • HO Scale
    • N Scale
    • Z Scale
  • Military
    • WWI
    • WWII
    • Diorama
    • Toy Soldier
    • R/C Tank
  • SciFi
    • Anime
    • Gundam
    • Star Wars
    • Star Trek

Fun Photos of Food

"Food World"

Very imaginative close-up photo / miniature work: Tiny work crews, vacationers, and astronauts on food.

Oops! More Personal Data Missing

"Data Lost on 650,000 Credit Card Holders"

Good news: This seems be a matter of human error, not theft.

More good news: The data storage company involved let their clients know about the missing data.

Bad news: It seems to be too easy to accidentally lose personal data.

The Identity Theft Resource Center" is one organization that's popped up to deal with this issue.

"To err is human, but to really foul things up takes a computer."

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Kiddie Porn on MySpace:
A Change of Pace From the Over-Blown Hotties

"Mom Finds Pornographic Photos Of Local School Kids On MySpace"

Porn on MySpace isn't really news, but this stuff involved some local schoolchildren. And, in Jacksonville, Florida, that's illegal.

It's been a while since I've run into a civil rights group equating the publishing of pornography with publishing opinions on current affairs: maybe this case will shake them out of the woodwork.

Orexin A: Better than Coffee?

"DARPA Develops Brain Chemical to Replace Sleep" (January 02, 2008)

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has come up with a nasal spray for monkeys that lets them shake off sleepiness. Not only are they as alert and smart as well-rested monkeys, but PET scans of their brains show 'wide-awake' patterns of activity.

The active ingredient is orexin A, a brain hormone.

There don't seem to be major problems with the sleep-be-gone spray: but it's early days.

My guess is that, once this stuff starts getting used on college campuses*, we'll find out what function dreams serve. And, why it's not a good idea to turn them off.

* My guess is that it's America's college students who will first try to remove sleep from their schedule. I see two groups involved:
  • Scholars, who think they'll get an extra eight hours of study each night
  • College kids, who see an opportunity to party 24-7, literally

Censorship, Freedom of Speech, and Blogs: Heads Up!

Censorship on the Web, from

"Online Radio Tonight - Thursday, January 17

Political Vindication show

'An assault on free Speech'

Show starts at 9pm Eastern & UK time 2am"

You may not agree with what he says, but the powers that be seem to want "Lionheart" off the Web. That's censorship, and it should concern everyone with a blog, a website, or an opinion.

I wrote about Lionheart before: "Which Needs Protecting: People's Feelings, or Freedom of Speech?" (January 5, 2008).
This post repeated on "Another War-on-Terror Blog."

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Better Ideas From Australia:
Houses of the Future

"Houses of the Future Six Houses"

"The 2004 Houses of the Future project which will feature six houses, each made of a different base material. Each architect-designed house will be environmentally-sustainable, affordable and futuristic:"
  • Concrete
  • Steel
  • Cardboard
  • Timber
  • Glass
  • Clay
Cardboard?! Why not? Someone in France made a paper bridge (Better Ideas From France: A Paper Bridge (August 12, 2007)).

More ideas - good, dubious, and strange - at "Better Ideas From ... "

Nanotech Solar Collector: Revolutionary, With a Big Catch

"New Solar Collector So Efficient It Works At Night Of course, there's a catch..."

Nanotechnology: an energy collector that picks up visible light and infrared. That catch is a big one, though, as the author points out: Looks like current generated by the nanoantennas is an alternating current - that oscillates ten thousand billion times a second or so. Not exactly compatible with America's 60-cycle-per-second power grid.

Still, this shows promise.

Leonardo GlassCube Building

"Leonardo GlassCube Building"

"A building for glass giftware company Leonardo in the town of Bad Driburg, Germany."

Looks like a contemporary re-imagining of the Farnsworth House, with a bit more decorative flair.

(See "Farnsworth House: It's Not Practical, and That's Not the Point." (September 21, 2007).)

Edward Hopper's Nighthawks

"Edward Hopper, American (1882–1967) Nighthawks, 1942"

An iconic image from 1940s America.

Big Brother is Watching: Microsoft Applies for Spookware Patent

"Microsoft System May Monitor Workers' Brains, Bodies" "" (January 16, 2008)

Systems like this have been used to keep track of astronauts and pilots. Now, people in an office may have their facial expressions, heart rates, and other functions monitored.

It could be used by a wise and prudent management system, to spot problems and give people help before they get too stressed out.

But, judging from the way "Dilbert" struck a chord with the cubicle crowd, monitoring systems like this could help management make even more clueless decisions than they do now.

Cloned Beef on its Way: FDA Okays Cloning Cattle

"FDA says cloned animals safe for food" "The Miami Herald" (January 15, 2007)

A cloned beef sandwich would be expensive, right now. Cloned cattle run about $10,000 to $20,000 a head, compared to the $1,000 for your old-style steer.

With prices like that, cloned cattle will be used for breeding, to produce better beef and more milk: or whatever qualities are wanted.

Good news
Higher-quality food products: particularly after cloning techniques are refined, and economies of scale bring the cost-per-head down.

Bad news
"Researchers Link Cloned Food, [Cancer/Obesity/Heart Disease/Zits]"

Expect more headlines like this, plus
  • Talk show hosts discussing the unknown horrors of eating the flesh of cloned animals
  • A white-collar industry developing around the production of research that says 'clones kill'
  • Cries of Frankenfood! Frankenfood! from the less articulate anti-clone activists
Now, a prediction: Sooner or later, two or three people who ate meat or drank milk that came from an animal with a clone in its ancestry will have heart attacks, or strokes, or come down with some disease.

When that happens, researchers will say "I told you so" while discussing their soon-to-be-released books, and there will be a maelstrom of ill-conceived legislation: particularly if it's an election year.

Take a deep breath

Count to ten, and think calm thoughts.

There may be reason for concern about cloning cattle with desirable traits, and using them for breeding purposes. One 'expert' said that there hasn't been enough research done, and that the FDA is jumping the gun.

It's a fact that the small number of cloned animals we've seen so far tend to be prone to illness and premature death. That's not a particularly good trait for livestock. An 'expert' discussing the the dreadful dangers of cloning named a number of scary diseases that cloned cattle might get.

On the other hand, I doubt whether any amount of research could demonstrate that there are no potential dangers to eating 'cloned beef.' For that matter, I don't think that tofu could be found completely safe: provided the right criteria were used.

Then there's the 'genetically manipulated' fear. I know that some people are scared of food that came from plants or animals that have had their genes changed. I might me more concerned, if I didn't know that people have been eating "genetically manipulated" food for several thousand years.

There's a reason why wheat and rice look different from their wild cousins, and domestic turkeys wouldn't fit in with a wild flock. People have been fiddling with the genes of food animals and plants for millennia. What's changed recently are the techniques we use.

I realize that there could be problems with new approaches to producing food. But, many of the objections I've heard and read seem more Luddite than levelheaded.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Double Einstein Ring Spotted

"Hubble finds double Einstein ring [heic0803]" (January 10, 2008)

An Einstein ring is what we see when light from a very distant object, like a galaxy, passes by something with a lot of mass on its way to us. Gravity of the nearer object bends the light, so (ideally) we see a ring where the object should be.

Aside from being a good astronomy-news photo op, this double ring is a bonanza of data for cosmologists and astronomers.

20 Useful Websites:
22, Actually

"20 Websites That Can Change Your Life"

That title may be over-stated, but it's a potentially useful list of websites, from 1 - Facebook to 20 - 43 Things.

Actually, there are 22 items: Stumble Upon and were requested and demanded, respectively, by the post's readers.

Tech Support Calls:
From Those Who Need Help Most

"Tech Support - Entertaining Calls For Help"

Another collection of tech support calls people on the low end of their learning curve.

Funny: But let's remember that everyone was once a newbie.

CopyCamp, Journalists, and the Information Age

"CopyCamp: An Unconference for News Organizations"

Journalists seem to be realizing that information sharing and distribution has changed, and is still changing. This "Unconference" post talks about an attempt to bring journalists, and journalism, into the Information Age.

And Now, for Something Completely Different
What's Right With America

"Uncovering America by Horseback"

Photos, blog, a video or two, news about Bill Inman's trip.

Bill Inman decided that it was time to show what's right with America. A slow trip across the country, seeing places and meeting people, seemed like a good approach.

Actually, it's Bill, Brenda, and Blackie: two humans and a horse.

They started out in Lebanon, Oregon, last June, and ended the journey in Hendersonville North Carolina, two days ago. Now Bill and Brenda are talking about a return trip. And, a book.

McDonalds Job Application:
Not Your Usual Responses

"McDonalds Job Application"

"This is an actual job application that a 17-year-old boy submitted at a McDonalds Restaurant in Florida, and they hired him because he was so honest and funny!"

If the story, and the form, aren't true, they ought to be.

Never Heard of the Giant Wooly Tundra Snail?
Here's Why

"List of animals that don't exist, but should" - from the Giant Wooly Tundra Snail to the Arabian Field Moose.

Some of the entries are off-color, but as a whole this list is funny.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Ads From the "Good Old Days"

"10 Creepiest Old Ads"

"Creepy" probably isn't the best way to describe them. My guess is that the person who posted this is too young to remember the periods these ads come from. Attitudes and accepted behavior have changed a great deal in the last half-century: in American, at any rate. These ads reflect that: except for the French one, which I'll agree is creepy.

Sugarless Gum Gives You the Runs*
Sorbitol is a Health Risk, Sort of

"Severe weight loss caused by chewing gum"
British Medical Association journal, "BMJ" (January 12, 2008)

This could start another health scare.

The first 150 words of the article are ominous, and free. You have to pay to read the rest. That teaser links sorbitol, a sweetener in sugarless gum, candy, and drinks, to some really disgusting - and unhealthy - symptoms.

I remember when cyclamates were banned. It was the sixties, when everything caused cancer. That time, the ban was based on bogus research involving massive overdoses. As (Buddy Hackett, I believe) said on the Tonight Show, 'only two mice died: one exploded, his butt blew off and killed the mouse behind him.'

The cyclamate FDA ban was a boon for the saccharine industry: at that time, consumers looking for non-sugar sweeteners were pretty much forced to buy saccharine, and put up with that miserable after-taste. That's non-trivial, for diabetics who have a hard time adjusting to a sweet-free diet.
*You probably don't have to stop chewing sugarless gum and eating sugar-free sweets: Just get a grip on how much you scarf down.

A news article about the British sorbitol study, "Study: Excessive Sugarless Gum Chewing Linked to Severe Weight Loss, Diarrhea," passes on a few facts that put the threat in perspective, once you do some basic math:
  • The young woman in the study went through over 14 sticks of sugarless gum a day
  • The middle-aged man chewed 20 sticks of sugar-free gum each day, and topped it off with 200 grams of sweets
(200 grams is just over 7 ounces - American candy bars run about 1.5 ounces to 3- or 4-ounce "king size" bars)

That British study is important for doctors, but shouldn't affect too many people's behavior. I hope. The young woman was starting a new stick of gum each hour, assuming she sleeps eight hours a day. The man was dropping the equivalent of 2 king-size gut bombs into his system daily. Even without sorbitol, I'd expect problems.

Beer that Fights Cancer: No Kidding!

"Boffins may develop cancer-fighting beer"
"The Sydney Morning Herald" (January 14, 2008)

Food - drink, actually - that's good for you! A refreshing change from the "everything causes cancer, high blood, pressure, or whatever" medical news. Researches found (another) chemical in hops that's good for people: xanthohumol.

There's some of this cancer-bashing stuff in beer now, but these scientists plan to boost the concentration sixty times. I can see the ads, when the uber-beer hits the shelves:

"New and Improved! With Wonder-Ingredient Xanthohumol"

And, wouldn't you know it: The researchers are German.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Really Big Radio-Controlled Airplane

"Huge R/C Plane" "You could fly a dog in this thing"

Just under 2 minutes of video, of a really big radio-controlled model. Impressive.

Telecommuting: Good News,Bad News

"Study Calls Telecommuting a Mixed Bag"

"PC World" magazine posted an article that says that "... those who do not telecommute are more likely to be dissatisfied with their job and leave the company, " which shouldn't surprise too many people.

On the other hand, the study takes that conclusion from opinion to informed opinion: with a moderately adequate study. (A study of "240 professional employees from a medium-sized company" doesn't involve a big enough set of data to give reliable results, in my opinion.)

Rat's Heart Grown in Lab

"Minnesota researchers grow rat heart in lab and start it beating"

It sounds like something out of a bad 1950's science fiction movie: scientists took a pre-born rat's heart, removed everything except the cartilaginous matrix that gave it shape, and put rat muscle cells on the framework. Time, nutrients, and electrical stimulation gave them a beating heart.

The thing only has a quarter the pumping capacity of the original, but: it pumps!

The researchers hope that - after a lot more work - they'll be able to grow replacement hearts for people.

Plate Tectonics, CO2, and Life on Other Planets

"Plate Tectonics: Earth's Lucky Geology" Discovery Channel website (January 11, 2008)

A pretty good discussion on how Earth's moving continents help recycle CO2, and what that has to do with life on Earth - and other planets.
Related posts, at

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Into Space Without Rockets? This Just Might Work

"Magnets, Not Rockets, Could Fling Satellites Into Space"
Mike Zazaian, TechFreep (October 3, 2006)

Alternatives to rockets for launch devices have been a sort of El Dorado for decades. This concept's use of a circular track might avoid a problem that kept earlier ones on the ground.

Learn to Find the Day of the Week for Any Date:
In Your Head

"Become a Non-Autistic Calendar Counting Genius"

"Mentally finding out the day of the week for any date is a skill you can easily learn. You don’t need to be an autistic genius – all it takes is basic memorization effort and some trivial math."

Helium at 2 Degrees Above Absolute Zero:
A Very Special Fluid

"Superfluid helium defies gravity and passes through glass"

A video demonstrates what happens when helium becomes a superfluid.

Seventies Public Housing Project in Europe:
Cool Pictures, Neat Idea

"the world’s nicest social-housing complex?"

It's in Vienna, the post tells us. Lavish photos, and no capital letters.

Alt-Erlaa (Der Wohnpark Alt-Erlaa) looks great, and may be a better place to live than the Chicago Housing Authority's Cabrini Green was.

Worst 'Roommate Wanted' Ad
Crazy Enough to be True

"The Worst 'Roommate Wanted' Ad EVER!"

The ad is crazy enough to be real. We've all met people like this.

Fire Balls: Hot Device to Fire Up Magic Acts

"How To Make Fire Balls"

This instructional video shows how to make fire balls: those grape-size flaming spheres used by some stage magicians.

Note! The device described in the video at the other end of this link is dangerous.
It should not constructed, or used, without adult supervision.
Failure to control the fire balls may result in serious injury or death.

Men: Dealing With Women, a Point System

"Rules for Dealing with Women"

It's a point system, and written for laughs. For example,

You take her out to dinner: "It’s a sports bar, its all-you-can-eat night, and you r face is painted the colors of your favorite team ¦.-10"

It's not all negative: "You take her to a movie you hate…..+6"

Tomorrow's Technology: Maybe

"Tech predictions for 2008"

We'll see how many work out. The solid state hard drive is intriguing.

Elegant Shower Stall


A freestanding shower stall, where the shower head pipe is also the shower curtain.

An impressive, elegant, design.

Very Strange Clippings and a
Weird Real Estate Brochure

"" (page 4)

My favorite
  • Caption:
    "This is why we have government agencies... "Utah Poison Control Center reminds everyone not to take poison."
  • Clipping:
    A funeral home ad, whose logo is a hotdog squirting mustard
This collection starts with an Introduction and Disclaimer:."

It Can Happen Here: "Hate Speech" and Censorship

What's happening to "Foehammer" matters to everyone who posts or publishes on the Internet.

"They came for the Communists, and I didn't object - For I wasn't a Communist; ..." (Martin Niemoller - more, including another version, at "The Holocaust History Project"). Niemoller's warning is just as important now as it was a half-century ago.

We aren't - quite - at the point Germany was on May 10, 1933, when student associations arranged for at least 25,000 "un-German" books to be burned.

But we could be close.

This time around, we don't have ultra-nationalistic right-wing student organizations burning books. We've got people who are convinced that they must rid the world of what they think is intolerance and hate speech. I'm very concerned that we may be living in a period when unwanted ideas are "accidentally" purged from the Internet.

"Foehammer’s Anvil website taken down - again!" details "Foehammer's" difficulties in keeping his politically-incorrect website online.

I don't necessarily agree with "Foehammer's" views, but I firmly believe that he should not be silenced.

A long association with colleges and universities has taught me how well-intentioned efforts to promote tolerance and diversity can create a rigidly uniform intellectual climate. The sort of 'open mindedness' that suppresses opposing views is almost intolerable for anyone who wants to pursues knowledge, rather than support an ideology.

It's remotely possible that "Foehammer's" website has simply been unlucky. However, I'm suspicious when someone whose views would not be welcomed on the campuses of Berkeley or Amherst has such a run of bad luck.

I could be wrong, but I think it's quite possible that the La Habra, California, hosting company he's using is treating his website less equally than others.
I've written about this sort of thing before, in another blog:

How to Make Editors Hate You, Plus: Freelance Failure; and Writing Worser Than Nobidy

From Writer's Resource Center:

"10 Ways to Make Editors Hate You Before They Even Know You"

It's just what the title says. As the author says, "here are some truly bad habits you can feel free to adopt."

While you're there, check out "Want to Write a Novel Badly? Here's How!" and "40 Fabulous Faults of Freelance Failures."

Official U.S. Time

"The Official U.S. Time"

A pretty good way of setting your clock. The service is accurate to within a millionth of a second or so, but what you'll see is the familiar hour-minute-second display.

There's software available on the site that's supposed to keep your computer's clock set to the correct time.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Celebrating Voice Actors

"Voice Chasers: Celebrating Voice Actors and their Craft since 1996"

Type in the name of an animated character, learn about the voice actor.

Sounds like fun.

German Smokers = Holocaust Jews
Incredibly Stupid T-Shirt

Contemporary culture being what it is, it's hard for a tasteless, disgusting T-shirt to stand out.

But it can be done.'s "German Jewish group protests use of Star of David on advertised pro-smoking T-shirt" gives details.

"The shirt features a yellow Star of David similar to the one Jews were forced to wear under the Nazis. The world "smoker" is written across the star instead of 'Jew.' "

Since the shirt was marketed in Germany, I suspect that "smoker" was actually "raucher."

I realize that smokers feel bad about having limits imposed their behavior.

On the other hand, it takes a special sort of mind to see Nazi Germany's treatment of Jews as being equivalent to today's treatment of smokers. I haven't read about any smokers being turned into lampshades, but I could have missed it.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

And Now, for Something Completely Different:
A Recursive Paradox

"A Picture is Worth a Thousand Time-Space Paradoxes"

Take a good look at the newspaper this woman is reading. Enjoy.

Saks Galleries: Impressive Art, Impressive Home Page

"Saks Galleries Denver Colorado"

"We are always fascinated by the power of great paintings. It’s not about the image but the way in which the brush work, lighting, composition, colors and perspective give the viewer feelings about the subject.The work of Kim English has that sort of power and holds our interest for years beyond the first look. His paintings are stories about people that go beyond the ‘where’ and ‘what’ and impart thoughts about ‘why’ these people are in a particular setting.We have a subtle connection with his people. Please join us in welcoming Kim English for another fabulous exhibition as he explores the human spirit.
Catherine, Mikkel and Adam Saks"

A gallery website with a very nice approach to displaying artwork.

Artificial Arm Controlled by Rewired Nerves

"Bionic Woman" isn't fiction. She's Claudia Mitchell, whose artificial left arm performs some of the functions of the original. The arm was developed by the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago.

Electronic Gifts that Aren't a Wii

"10 Alternative Electronic Gifts (for those who can’t find a Wii) "

The Discovery Channel Store's Radio Control Bugs and the flying alarm clock are impressive, but I think my favorite is "the Amazing Anti-gravity Levitating Globe!"

The Semicolon: Appreciated at Last!

"The Poor, Misunderstood Semicolon"

A relatively painless discussion of how to use the semicolon. Maybe if more textbooks took this post's approach, there wouldn't be as many kids falling asleep in English class.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Web 2.0? Not Really

"Top 10 Ways to Give Your Office a Web 2.0 Makeover"

There's precious little about "Web 2.0," or any other information technology, in this post. I'm pretty sure that this is a spoof of Web 2.0 fever and management fads, but you never know.

Attack of the Monster Mutant Alarm Clock


An animated GIF of a huge alarm clock attacking some poor sleeping guy.

I think we've all felt like this, sometimes.

New Toshiba Laptops

"New Toshiba Satellite U305 Notebooks"

I'm not planning to get a new laptop any time soon, and when I do, it probably won't be a Toshiba, but it's fun looking. I see that they're called "notebooks" now.

(Ive nothing against Toshibas - but the odds are strong that I'll try for a built-to-order unit from Computer Specialists, in Alexandria, Minnesota.)

Big Orange Sofa

"DS 152 Oval Entertainment Sofa By de Sede"

A big, orange, round sofa that looks like a fugitive from the sixties: with optional flat screen television. Photo and descriptnion.

Remember When a Computer Filled a Room?

"Top 10 Technology Nostalgia" - from "Rooms Sized Computers" to "Tiger Handheld Games."

See How the Candidates Score

"Candidate Calculator Which 2008 Presidential Candidate Agrees With You"

This sounds like a good idea: "You will be scored based upon how well you match the current views of each of the 2008 presidential candidates." Actually, they're showing how well the candidates match your views.

It sure beats voting for the candidate with the best hair.

Radiator Mug

"A Mug of Marvelous Design" - a mug with radiator vanes. Not a bad idea.

Censorware in Australia: It's not a Good Idea, It's the Law

"Censorship! Is THIS what we want? Censorware in Australia / Australia joins China in censoring the Internet"

It's 'protect the children' time in Australia. What the new government promised would be a voluntary "opt-in" censorware program is now mandatory. With an opt-out option, which is a nice nod to traditional freedoms.

And yes, I'm biased. I don't like someone else telling me what I can and cannot see. (See "Filtering, Censorship, and Dealing With It (September 14, 2007))

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Monday, January 7, 2008

Culture: A New Look at Who's Interested

"Arts study a culture shock, Oxford University reports idea of upper class forming cultural elite no longer valid" - "Toronto Star" (January 5 2008)

Oxford researchers studied how people consume culture, and came up with a four-way split:
  • Univores: the biggest of these groups, consume a lot of television, pop music and "Hollywood flicks" (no black-and-white foreign films, apparently); and that's about all
  • Omnivores: number two in size, these people buy pop culture by the bucket, but go to things like the ballet, concerts, or opera, too
  • Paucivores: there aren't many of these: they'll go to something like a must-see museum opening, but not much
  • Inactives: don't do much except zone out in front of a television set
The article didn't say whether the researchers had checked the Inactives for brain activity. A little more seriously, the Toronto Star's piece did some hand-wringing over how The Arts don't get enough money from the people, and how regrettable it is that national governments might not spend enough.

Minimalist Bathroom: Less is More, More or Less

"Concerty Bathroom by Toscoquattro"

The bathroom's minimalistic style isn't anything new: but it's a well-done sample.

I suspect that it's one of those "if you have to ask, you can't afford it" remodeling projects.

Hair Today, Sown Tomorrow

"Market grows for human hair for ingedient in many products" ("ingredient," of course, but that's what the headline said: typos happen.)

It's not just for wigs and false eyelashes: Human hair is used to make oil-absorbent mats, pizza dough and bagels, and a weed-be-gone product.

England History: a Timeline

"A TIMELINE OF ENGLISH HISTORY," from about 450,000 BC to the present.

Moscow's Crystal Island Project Approved

"Crystal Island Receives City Approval" "The Moscow Times" English (December 18, 2007)

"World’s Biggest Building Coming to Moscow: Crystal Island" (December 26, 2007)

The Crystal Island near Moscow will be the largest building in the world, when it's completed in 2014 - if all goes well. Apparently, it's a very "green" building with solar panels, a small carbon footprint, and windows to let light in.

It looks like a gargantuan cross between a washing-machine agitator and the Eiffel Tower.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Impossible Machines, the Animated GIF

"impossible-machines.gif," a large animated GIF, filled with, well, impossible machines.

See how long it takes you to see where the image's edges are: the display is tiled.

Odd, Quirky Sinks: Fish, Rocks, and Stumps

"Funky Sinks" " Powder rooms have become the focus for self-expression in the home with sinks often at the center of these creative ideas. The latest in unusual sinks include units made from flexible silicone and a sink that's also a fully functioning aquarium."
  • Fish Sink (Moody Aquarium Sink)
  • Silicon Sink (two of them>
  • Tree Trunk Sink
  • Tam Light-Up Sink and Polished Stainless Steel Sink
  • Plus
    • Magnetic Soap Holders
    • Noveletti soap holders
For those people whose life will not be complete, until they can see fish swimming by as they wash their hands.

With Photos.

Arranging Pictures on a Wall, or
Putting Art and Furniture Together

"Basics of Grouping Art With Furniture"

A pretty good guide for putting furniture on the floor, art on the walls, and liking the result.

Google Search: Doing it Better

"Top 10 Obscure Google Search Tricks"

These are pretty good ways to get more out of your Googling.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Photos of Five Cool Research Facilities

"5 unbelievably cool research facilities"

Five facilities: from the super Kamiokande detector, Kamioka observatory, in Japan; to CERN's large hadron collider on the border between Switzerland and France. With photos and brief descriptions.

A tip of the hat to blogger deputydog! Sources are given! As someone who is concerned with intellectual property rights, I applaud this acknowledgment of ownership/authorship.

And, the photos are "unbelievably cool."

(Note: Some comments on the "5 unbelievably cool..." page use vulgar adjectives, pronouns, and nouns. Generally, I don't link to pages with that sort of Sophomoric (sophistication?), but in this case, the quality of the photos outweighed the crudeness of the language.)

Beware the Trolls

ihavewebfeet...'s post, "Trolls..." (June 24, 2007) talks about that bane of online discussions: trolls. The post itself is a pretty good thought-starter, but the fun is in the comments.

A word of caution: ihavewebfeet... has a definite point of view, as do many of the commenters.

House of Weens: A Blog About Stretch, the Dachshund

"House of Weens" is now at blogger ( This dachshund blog (featuring Stretch) was formerly hosted at

Friday, January 4, 2008

Cats, Computers, and a baby Hippo

"What your cat does when you're not home"

I think that most people who have cats suspect this.

There's much more at

Amazing! Cats to Replace Backpacks?

"Cute Girl with Cat."

Snow, a little girl walking and wearing a cat. The furry backpack she's carrying doesn't seem to be enjoying the situation: but I could be wrong.

Modern Architecture isn't Contemporary

"Contemporary Architects + Contemporary Architecture - what do these terms mean?"

A pretty good discussion of the subject.

Small Town America: Three Views

Marred by Senseless Violence

"Carnation: Small town America where everyone knows your name"

This piece in the "Seattle PI" sets the scene for city folks of a small town where a multiple murder took place. Carnation, Washington is small: about 2,000 people live there.

Attracting People Across the Nation

"Small-town America alive and well"

Charleston's "The Post and Courier" ran this piece about Newberry, South Carolina, a small town in South Carolina that's so nice, "most locals will tell you, this place is so attractive folks move here from all over the country, even Charleston." About 3,000 people make Newberry their home.

Where I Live

"Sauk Centre Journal" is my record of life in Sauk Centre, Minnesota, the small town where I live. Updated twice a week, as a rule. About 4,000 people live here.

Stereo Views :
New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut, a Century Ago

Small-Town America: Stereoscopic Views from the Robert Dennis Collection

"New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut: The Tri-State Region and more in Stereoscopic Views

"A few big cities -- and many more small towns -- long ago made the Mid-Atlantic states of New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut one of the most densely populated regions in North America. This website presents 12,000 photographs of those three states as they were captured in stereoscopic views from the 1850s to the 1910s."

A Small Town's First WebCam: Maybe

WebCam: Sauk Centre"

"From the heart of darkest Minnesota: my view of small town America."

"This may be the first 'on-the-street' webcam in Sauk Centre. (The closest one I found was in Sartel.)"

(I'm promoting one of my own pages today.)

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Strange Natural Disasters

"Top 10 Strangest Natural Disasters in Human History," from Lake Nyos, Cameroon, 1986, to the Great Smog, London, 1952.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Mark Parisi's Off the Mark Cartoons

"Off the Mark" cartoons.

Over 5,000 of them.

You can buy stuff, see animations, and browse these copyrighted cartoons by category. I recommend starting with the "computers" and "web-net" sections, but that's a personal preference.

"When Mark was born on a New England evening in 1961, the attending physician supposedly mentioned seeing doodles on the uterus wall, but this remains unconfirmed."

What Would a Galactic Empire be Like? "The Physics of Extraterrestrial Civilizations"

"The Physics of Extraterrestrial Civilizations
How advanced could they possibly be?"
by Dr. Michio Kaku

Dr. Kaku makes a good point: if the vast, galaxy-spanning civilizations of science fiction have real-life counterparts, the real galactic civilizations will have abilities and limits imposed by the laws of physics:

"Although it is impossible to predict the precise features of such advanced civilizations, their broad outlines can be analyzed using the laws of physics. No matter how many millions of years separate us from them, they still must obey the iron laws of physics, which are now advanced enough to explain everything from sub-atomic particles to the large-scale structure of the universe, through a staggering 43 orders of magnitude."

This is a well-written and informed article, although it has an internal inconsistency: the sort that tends to appear in discussions of enormously advanced scientific civilizations. "... perhaps the most interesting civilization is a Type III civilization, for it is truly immortal. ... No natural catastrophe known to science is capable of destroying a Type III civilization." Later in the article, after discussing the probable fate of the universe, including the Big Chill he writes: "All intelligent life must die when the universe dies."
"Dr. Michio Kaku is a theoretical physicist, best-selling author, and popularizer of science. He's the co-founder of string field theory (a branch of string theory), and continues Einstein's search to unite the four fundamental forces of nature into one unified theory."
Contemporary physics can "explain everything from sub-atomic particles to the large-scale structure of the universe". "Explain," yes. 'completely explain,' I rather hope not. That would mean that there's nothing left to learn, as far as physics is concerned.

Humanity's efforts to understand where we are and how it works have been like that. We become aware of a facet of the world, learn what we can about it, and discover that there are more facets. I wrote a very brief summary of what we've learned about the universe as a whole during the 24 centuries: "Once it Was Believed / Now We Know."
Related posts, at

Möbius Strip: the Video

"A cool video showing off the properties of Möbius strip"

The title pretty well says it all.

This is a pretty good 77-second introduction to an easy-to-make object with one side and one edge.

"American Parallels:"
From Athens to England

"American Parallels"

This relatively brief discussion of history is worth reading. The author compares America and the contemporary world to similar situations involving England, Spain, Rome, and Athens (Greece). The passing comparison of Sparta and China was one I haven't run into before.

History doesn't repeat itself, quite. But every culture for the five millennia or so* in which we've kept records has been made up of human beings: and certain patterns emerge.
*So far, the earliest writing found is in Harappa. We call that part of the world Pakistan now. It's not much: some marks on pottery. What the marks mean, we don't know: they could be anything from the name of an ancient deity to Harappan for "flour" and "sugar."

Swedish Sauna House

"Wingardhs Mill House in Vastra Karup, Sweden is 'a manifestation of the Swedish ritual of sauna and bathing.' "

Odd. I thought the sauna was a Finnish invention. At any rate, Wingardhs Mill House is a thoroughly contemporary structure.

Condescending Phrases for the Fun and Derision

"Some Useful Condescending Phrases" - a list of 26.

They may not be useful, one isn't even condescending ("My toys! My toys! I can't do this job without my toys!"), but several are funny.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Better Ideas From Japan: A Robot Snowplow

"Robot Snowplow from Japan Eats Up Snow, Poops Out Bricks"

It's called Yuki-taro, it's a prototype, and it's "cute as Pokemon's Pikachu."

'Domo obrigato, o roboto.'

More ideas - good, dubious, and strange - at "Better Ideas From ... "

Explore the Stars on Your Computer

Explore the sky on your computer: an interactive sky map.

"WIKISKY is a non-commercial project. The main purpose of WIKISKY is to consolidate astronomical, astrophysical and other information about different space objects and astrophysical facts."

D.B. Cooper - FBI Releases New Info, Photos

"D.B. COOPER REDUX Help Us Solve the Enduring Mystery"

The FBI is taking another look at the case of a hijacker who parachuted out of an airliner in 1971 with $200,000 in stolen cash. They're showing pictures and giving information that hasn't been released before - and hope that it jogs someone's memory.
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