Friday, February 29, 2008

Mario's Many Mustaches: Art by Geeks, for Geeks

"Mario's many mustaches." Geekstir (February 7th, 2008)

Someone spent a lot of time thinking about Mario, to create this graphic.

And Now, for Something Completely Different: Proofreading Symbols

"Proofreading Symbols Reference"

Useful, practical. A pretty good reference.

Clueless Bosses: A Constant of the Early Information Age

"Stupid Client Quote #1142" Clientcopia (October 30, 2004)

I think this is actually a stupid boss quote, and very funny. If, however, you are presently fuming from something particularly idiotic piece of ignorance extruded from your boss: I strongly suggest that you cool down a little before reading this.

World's Worst High School Analogies:
This One Might Actually be Original!

"Worst Analogies Ever Written in a High School Essay" marcy.risque[at] (March 31, 1997)


If this looks familiar, it should. I posted a link to an almost-identical "Worst Analogies..." last year ("Worst High School Analogies, plus Gilbert and Sullivan" (August 29, 2007)).

I could start a rant about intellectual property, international copyright laws, and common courtesy. I'll leave it at this:

Quite a few people on the Web think that they have a right to steal (oops - copy) someone else's work, without attribution, and post it on their own pages.

I don't know whether they're lazy, ignorant of law and custom, careless, or some combination.

Back to that list: It's funny. If I read it, maybe I'll shake this blue funk I'm in.

Cool House With Outdoor Theater

"A Home With The Coolest Outdoor Home Theater" (February 29, 2008) (It's tomorrow already, in Europe and the North American east coast.)

Pretty cool, all right: a house with a drive-in theater you don't have to drive to.

This place is obviously not designed for Minnesota. Here, it would be cool, all right: life-threateningly so, for about a third of the year.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

A Photo: of a Woman; in a Black Leotard; and Cat Ears; and Pointe Ballet Slippers; Standing on Wine Bottles


I took another look.

The photo is still there.

I wasn't imagining it.

I'm making an educated guess that the writing on the wall, in full, is "Weinkeller zur Schwarzen Katz" - which means something like "Black Cat Wine Cellar" in English.

Which would explain the costume. Sort of.

Glow-in-the-Dark Bamboo Outdoor Lighting

" Lighting Concept Made Of Bamboo"

These creations of a grad student in Ankara are not tricked-out tiki torches. This is a "cool" outdoor lighting idea. Or, if you're upscale, lighting concept.

Climates in the Inner Solar System

I'll post these two links, and then move on.

"Planetary Climate for Dummies" Melissa Strausberg, mentored by Dr. Mark I. Richardson - on CalTech's website

It's not "for dummies," by any means: but this is a pretty good discussion of planetary atmospheres, starting with why Venus, Earth, and Mars have such radically different climates.
"Venus Mysteries Blamed on Colossal Collision" (February 28, 2008)

Venus is just like Earth, except that it
  • Is unreasonably dry
  • Is hot enough to melt lead
  • Rotates very, very slowly
    • And spins backward - the only planet to do so
Now John Huw Davies, a British scientist, has an explanation: Two whacking great pieces of rock, small planets in their right, crashed into each other.

Sounds crazy? Maybe, but it explains quite a bit.

bone-dry, hot enough to melt lead and has a chokingly thick atmosphere. It even spins backwards.

Cyclones, Anti-Cyclones, Hadley Cells,
and the Weekend Weather Report


Part of Dr. Nicholas Short's Remote Sensing Tutorial (NASA).

An illustrated discussion of Earth's winds and atmosphere.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Widgets: Lots and Lots of Widgets


"Widgipedia is a site dedicated to web widgets and desktop widgets. You'll find here widgets for all platforms that you can use in your web pages or on your desktop and a great community of widgipals."
There's more, of course: Google's "Google Directory - Computers" is a pretty good place to start.

Widgets, Gadgets, and Things that Add Clutter to the Web

Fun clutter, though. Dated, but still interesting.

Frank Lloyd Wright: at the Library of Congress

"FRANK LLOYD WRIGHT - Designs for an American Landscape, 1922-1932"

"Architecture is the triumph of Human Imagination over materials, methods, and men, to put man into possession of his own Earth. It is at least the geometric pattern of things, of life, of the human and social world. It is at best that magic framework of reality that we sometimes touch upon when we use the word 'order.' - Frank Lloyd Wright, 1930, 1937"

If you missed the exhibit back in the nineties, you can still catch the Library of Congress' record on the Web.

Ambigrams: Fun!

"About Ambigrams"

"An ambigram is the expression of a word or phrase that can be read in more than one way. For instance, in a common form, the word MOM read upside down is WOW."

Quite a bit of discussion, graphics,and an animation.

Widgets and Traffic: Advice from Other Bloggers

Online communities are great places to get help, and ideas. For example, on BlogCatalog:

What Next, Bungee Burgers?

"Dinner in the Sky"

A meal. 50 meters up. No kidding. Photos, description, and videos. As far as I can tell, this is for real. (And, look for advertising on the platform.)

Hats off to 2sweetnsaxy at BlogCatalog, for bringing this service to my attention.

Notice of Planned Outage: I Appreciate That!

I found this message, when I logged onto Blogger: "Blogger and Blog*Spot will be unavailable Wednesday (2/27) at 6:00PM PST for about 10 minutes for maintenance."

So, if about 90 minutes from now, you can't find this blog: you'll know why.

And, I appreciate these "heads up."

Who is This Guy? and What's He Doing?

I tweaked this blog's header today, but didn't have the heart to throw out some of the text. So:
  • Who am I?
    A blogger whose home state is north of the flyover states, and whose state of mind is far from the coastal trade routes
  • What am I doing here?
    Taking a look at blogs, the blogosphere, other blogish matters and anything else on the Web, with micro-reviews, observations and opinions.
There's more to me than that, of course: That's me, in relation to this blog.

Stark, Raving, Mad Label: Contents: Peanuts / Warning: Contains Peanuts

This doesn't have anything to do with the Web or information technology, but it was too crazy to ignore.

That's a bottle of peanuts. I blew up part of the label, so you could see that you really aren't imagining things.
  • You can see the peanuts inside
  • On the front of the bottle, it says "Peanuts"
  • The label reads, in part
I acknowledge that, somewhere in the latter part of the 20th century, part of the human race became allergic to peanuts: but in the name of sanity, why is it necessary to warn people that a clear bottle of peanuts, labeled "peanuts," whose ingredients list is headed by the word "peanuts," needs an additional "ALLERGY WARNING: PEANUTS"??!!

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

YouTube Outage Caused by Pakistan

If you couldn't find YouTube for an hour or so over the weekend, you've got company.

"Pakistan causes worldwide YouTube outage" CNN (February 25, 2008)

Pakistan's government didn't like a YouTube video about a Dutch lawmaker's upcoming film. The Pakistanis said it was blasphemous.

Blocking YouTube worldwide was a mistake, apparently.

Oh, well, accidents happen?

Seed Vault for the Ages

"Arctic seed vault opens doors for 100 million seeds" (February 26, 2008)

The Svalbard Global Seed Vault is presented as dealing with "rapidly diminishing biodiversity," but it sounds like a pretty good idea. I rather hope they've got some dutch elm seeds in there: that species is dying out, thanks to a bug-born disease.

The building isn't just a silo: the architects paid attention to aesthetics as well as practical concerns.

The article is a fairly detailed writeup.

Depending on the species, the seeds should last thousands to tens of thousands of years.

Windows Cleanup and File Compression:
That's Interesting

My main computer's hard drive got nearly full the other day. Between my work, and what my kids had been doing, there was about 5% of the disk left.

So, I started dealing with the situation. Among other things, I used the "Disk Cleanup" utility that came with Windows XP. And compressed all files that hadn't been used recently.

Not to self: don't make system-wide changes after midnight.

Now, I'm wondering if compressing those files was a good idea.

Since I thought someone else might be interested in what I've found on the Web, about this file compression question, here are the better resources I found: Now, when I have a little time, and am quite awake, I'll have to try some of these procedures.

The Cost of Tech: 1988 and 2008

"1988 vs. 2008: A Tech Retrospective" PC World (February 22, 2008)

"Think the iPhone is pricey? The cool cell phone of 1988 cost $4382 in today's dollars. A 150MB hard drive? $8755. Take a trip with us down memory lane, and you'll never whine about the price of a gadget again."

Yo-Ho-Ho and a Count of the Votes:
Pirates and Democracy

"Pirates had 'democratic' ways" World Science (February 23, 2008)

I learned how pirate crews picked their captains quite a few years ago. This article does a pretty good job of describing just how "democratic" pirates were.

Keeping Languages Pure? Venezuala, France, and Approved Words

"Venezuela Fights Use of English Words" (Minneapolis) (February 26, 2008)

Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez has set out to protect his people from words like "mouse," "password," "marketing," and other English-language technical and business terms. A short list, with the 'correct' word in parenthesis:
  • "staff" ("equipo")
  • "marketing" ("mercadeo")
  • "password" ("contrasena")
  • "mouse" ("raton")
  • "meeting" ("reunion")
  • "sponsor" ("patrocinador")
The French have tried something like this, with an "official" French dictionary. The French dictionary doesn't carry any legal clout, but to use a word which is not in the official French dictionary is, how do you say it? Not French.

The most recent complete official French dictionary is Dictionnaire de l'Académie française, huitième édition. It was published in 1935.

L'Académie française (The French Academy), established 1635, realizing that even their language may change, have been working on an updated dictionary. They published the first volume of Dictionnaire de l'Académie française, neuvième édition in 1992. It brings the official set of twentieth-century French words up to "onglette." (I think "onglette" means 'small ongle,' or 'small nail' - it's a small chiseling tool that engravers use. I found that at "More Procrastination - Should I be doing something else? - Another Roadside Turnoff" (November 28, 2006).)

Starbucks Closing!
(For Three Hours)

"Starbucks closing 3 hours Tuesday afternoon for barista training" (Minneapolis) (February 25, 2008)

Three hours, this afternoon. 7,100 Starbucks, 135,000 employees, across America will shut down from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 local time today.

Their mission: barista re-education.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Now That's Music:
Bach's Prelude 1 From Book 1

"J. S. Bach: Prelude no. 1 from Book 1"

"This is the first and best known prelude from Bach's 48 Preludes and Fugues, known as the Well-Tempered Clavier. It was used by Gounod for his famous Ave Maria adding a tune above Bach's harmonies. A must for any serious student of piano, Book 1 and Book 2 are available from Sheet Music Plus."

Print version, midi file, MP3 file.

Fun Flash Face Fabricator: Fab!

"Ultimate Flash Face v0.42b"

Beta version of a fun face-fabricator.

Super Bowl® Commercials: Online

"AdBlitz's Channel - Winning Super Bowl® Commercials"

If you want to see those Super Bowl® commercials, now you can.

Animated Astronomy Tutorials

"Animated Tutorials: Astronomy"

Flash and javascript tutorials:
  • "The Moon's Phases"
  • "The Sidereal and Synodic Months"
  • "Blackbody Curves"
  • "The Nearest Stars"
not at all bad for freebies.

Ten Guys Who Gals Should Shun

" Ten guys women should run from"

"One guy is needier than quicksand. Another is jealous of your cocker spaniel. A third quietly hates all womankind. Here's a list of men you should put in your rearview mirror, ASAP."

From "Joe No-Show" to "The Guy Who Had the Happiest Childhood This Side of the Beav."

(About that last one: He didn't.)

Funny, and a good set of 'heads-up' warnings.

One caveat: Some cases, like the virtual lover, assume contemporary moral / ethical values. I believe that human beings have both the ability and need to assert control over our endocrine system. If you do, too, you might take some of the advice with a grain of salt.

A World Without Trucks: A Pipe Dream (Literally!)

"Low-Tech Magazine: A world without trucks" (February 22, 2008)

"If water, sewage, gas and oil can be transported through underground pipelines, why not consumer goods as well?"

Crazy as it sounds, it just might work.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Wisdom for America, from John Cleese
And a Map

"Go! Reposses the US of A"


"Wanted - Any American who finds this map funny!"

These are funny! (My opinion.)

Caution: Jingoistic Americans, particularly those with hypertension, are advised not to read either of the posts.

MP3: Ten Free Programs reviewed

"Killer Tech Tips - Top 10 Free Programs to make the most out of your MP3 Collection"
  • "Part I - Audio Players"
  • "Part II - Organizers/Taggers/Jukeboxes"
  • "Part III- Rippers, Converters"
  • "Part IV - Audio Editors"
  • "Part V - Other"

Diego Velázquez: "Infante Felipe Próspero," "Temptation of Saint Thomas Acquinas," and More

"Velázquez" at the National Gallery, London

Eight really fine paintings.

Using and Tweaking Firefox

"Simple Firefox Tips and Tricks (Some of Which You Might Not Know…)" (February 22, 2008)

Pretty good advice:
  • Several things to do with drag and drop
  • Five keyboard shortcuts
  • Three mouse shortcuts
  • Bookmark keyword search
  • about:config Configuration tweaks
  • Restoring Toolbar configuration after Firefox crashes

Famous Names, Snappy Combacks

"History's Greatest Replies"

Replies, comebacks and retorts through (recent) history.

A selection:
  • Winston Churchill
    ("... Lady Astor became annoyed at an inebriated Winston Churchill, who was pontificating on some topic. Unable to take any more, she finally blurted out, 'Winston, if you were my husband, I'd put poison in your coffee.' Without missing a beat, Churchill replied: 'Nancy, if you were my wife, I'd drink it.' ")
  • Pope John XXIII
    ("... Once asked by a journalist, "How many people work in the Vatican?" the pontiff pondered the question, giving the impression that he was trying to come up with an accurate estimate. Then, with a straight face, he answered:
    'About Half'
  • James McNeill Whistler
    ("... An exceedingly witty man, he was one of the few people who could hold his own with the incomparable Oscar Wilde. In one legendary exchange, after Whistler had offered a particularly clever observation, Wilde said admiringly, "I wish I had said that." Whistler seized the moment, replying: 'You will, Oscar, you will.' ")
(The author has a book, too.)

Earthquake Season?

Maybe not, but there do seem to have been more major earthquakes than usual: If the Sumatra quake article sounds familiar, it should: They had another major earthquake in October of 2007: " Strong earthquake shakes Sumatra" CNN (October 2, 2007)

Real-Time USGS Earthquake Maps: last seven days

MegaTokyo the Comic: Online, Strange, and Funny

Frederick M. Gallagher III
"relax, we understand j00"

  • Largo, who spends most of his time fleeing on a stolen muffin scooter, and once appeared in a teddy bear costume because he thought he needed a disguise.
  • Piro, who has exactly no self-esteem, yet manages to be cool - usually by accident - when he wants Kimiko to like him.
  • Kimiko, who became an overnight celebrity, and is having a difficult time dealing with it.
And lots of other characters.

There seem to be zombies involved, various otaku1 who Largo mistakes for zombies, the Cataclysm Department of the Tokyo Police, and Rent-A-Zilla.

My daughter introduced me to MegaTokyo yesterday. She tells me that the overgrown T-Rexoid with a titanic dog collar I saw in today's MegaTokyo front page was from Rent-A-Zilla. It was stomping zombies.

I'm told that the gags are funnier, if you know L33t2.
1 Otaku: Intensely dedicated, hard-core fans of sci-fi, computer games, anime and manga.
2 L33t: Also Leet, Leetspeak, 1337, or l337. A phonetic form of the English word "elite," also the name of a written form of English traditionally used on the Internet. Non-alphabetic characters stand for some letters, and there are some spelling changes, like "z" for a final "s" and "x" for "(c)ks". (More, including cultural background, at "Labor Law Talk Dictionary.")

Saturday, February 23, 2008

"Through a Glass" - Interactive Online Art

"Through a Glass is a prototype for a series of images I am planning to make over the coming year. They will illustrate an interactive story I am writing.
Move your mouse over the glass view to change the time from night to dawn to day. There are also 3 set of nature songs to go with the times of day, night sounds, dawn chorus and a lazy summer day."

Nice bit of online software. Simple / elegant display.

Shows what you can do with HTML, javascript, and talent.

Solar Power and the Investor

"Solar sector set to shine through credit crunch"
Reuters (February 22, 2008)

Interesting look at solar power and finances, and Reuter's politics.

Sleep Positions and the Personalities that Go With Them

"Sleep Positions"

This may be more than pop psychology:

"Source: Professor Chris Idzikowski, director of the Sleep Assessment and Advisory Service

"Personality clues can be found in the position that we use to fall asleep."

Positions from Fetus to Starfish

Kids Doodling on Homework: Continuity Across the Centuries

"Futility Closet - Some Things Never Change"
July 5th, 2007

Birch bark doodles of a 12th century Russian boy learning to write.

Retro Tea Kettles With Color

"Holiday Wishes: Wish #3 ... A lovely tea kettle."
November 28, 2007

Very retro. I remember tea kettles that looked much like these, apart from the color, being in everyday use.

That made this post a pleasant trip down memory lane.

Lunar Eclipse of February 22, 2008

"Astronomy Picture of the Day"
February 22, 2008
"Eclipsed Moonlight" photo with description.

Africans, Europeans, Asians, and Other Ethnic Groups: Humanity's Family History Gets Updated (Four Articles and an Abstract)

"Ancient 'Out of Africa' migration left stamp on European genetic diversity, Cornell-led study finds"
Cornell University Chronicle (February 20, 2008)

Who's related to who, around the world: a pretty good summary of recent findings.

"Proportionally more deleterious genetic variation in European than in African populations"
Nature international weekly journal of science (February 21, 2008)

New and somewhat unexpected knowledge about humanity's immediate ancestry: Informative, but quite technical, discussion of recent findings.

" Genotype, haplotype and copy-number variation in worldwide human populations"
Nature international weekly journal of science (February 21, 2008)

(abstract of the "Proportionately more deleterious genetic ...." article ("To read this story in full you will need to login or make a payment")

"Worldwide Human Relationships Inferred from Genome-Wide Patterns of Variation"
Science magazine (American Association for the Advancement of Science) (February 22, 2008)
("Subscribe/Join AAAS or Buy Access to This Article to View Full Text.")

Somewhat technical discussion of recent findings.

"Whites Genetically Weaker Than Blacks, Study Finds" (February 22, 2008)

An extensive, and reader-friendly, discussion of the history of Europeans, Asians, American Indians, and other ethnic groups: based on recent (and somewhat unexpected) findings.

And Now, for Something Completely Different:
Which Side of the Road They Drive on: A World Map

"Which Side of the Road"

"Map of the world showing driving directions for all countries and any changes that have occurred, beginning with Finland's change in 1858."

Redneck Special Forces


Not, I think, politically correct. Very funny, in a disgustingly grim sort of way.

Dubai Architecture

"Dubai Architecture"

Photos, descriptions: a very good resource for one of the architectural hotspots of the world.

One Funny Animated Cartoon

"Gopher Broke"

Animated, 4:17, and very funny. I think we've all had days like this gopher's.

House Shaped Like a Shell

"Moving into your own Shell"

"A young couple in Mexico grew tired of living in a conventional home, and wanted to move into something more 'natural'.

Photos and descriptions of a remarkable house.

Our Galaxy is Twice the Size Previously Thought

"The Milky Way is twice the size we thought it was"
University of Sydney (February 20, 2008)

It's not just what the scientists discovered: It's how they discovered it that's remarkable.

Geeko Sapiens Day has Come

"The Joy of Tech Millions of years of evolution are finally paying off for Geeko Sapiens."

A funny cartoon

Friday, February 22, 2008

Phineas and Ferb: Seriously Funny New Cartoon

"Phineas and Ferb - Disney Channel"

At last, a cartoon series worthy of the mantle once worn by Road Runner and Wile Coyote.

Each episode documents the efforts of two pre-teen brothers, Phineas and Ferb, to make good use of their summer vacation: and their teenage sister's futile efforts to catch them in the act; while they're making robots, building a roller coaster, or whatever the project of the day is.

There's Phineas, talkative and cheerful; Ferb, who says, at most, one line per episode; Candace, their tightly-wound teenage sister; Perry the Platypus, who is a secret agent; and a cast of dozens.

Actually, I didn't count how many characters there were.

Fine Art, Digitized and Sized for the Desktop

"Desktop Wallpaper Collection"

Images from fine art, from the Mona Lisa to Nighthawks, 136 of them, sized for desktop display. I've no idea what the intellectual property status of these images are: but they're quite attractive.

The Size of Things: a Presentation

By Nikon Company

A cool and impressive Flash presentation about the size of things.

Empire State Building Photo Collection

"New York Architecture Images- galleries and notes - gallery- Empire State Building"

Dozens of historical photos of the New York City's Empire State Building, and its construction.

Blogs and the Blogosphere: and the
One Thousandth Post on "Apathetic Lemming of the North"

This is my thousandth blog post on "Apathetic Lemming of the North: A good enough reason to put several links about the Internet and the blogosphere in one post.

I'd hoped to find some up-to-date information about how many blogs there are now, but what I found was a information that's a few years old. Either people have stopped trying to keep track of the blogosphere's population, or this isn't one of my better days: maybe both.

Here's what I found:
"Yahoo cites huge potential online ad market in declining Microsoft’s bid" (February 19, 2008)

It looks like there are one billion (American definition: 1,000,000,000) people using the Internet these days. That's a lot of people.
"Measuring the Impact of Blogs Requires More Than Counting" Wall Street Journal (May 26, 2005)

There were tens of millions of blogs in 2005: about 3.5 million of which were active; with between 350,000 and 900,000 posts per day.

Bright Idea: Lamp Runs on Gravity, Lasts Two Centuries

"Lamp Lit by Gravity Wins Greener Gadget Award" > News > February 19, 2008

"A Virginia Tech student has created a floor lamp powered by gravity."

It puts out as much light as a 40 Watt bulb, and should last 200 years.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

U.S. Navy Targets Spy Satellite Fuel Tank

"U.S. missile strikes spy satellite"
International Herald Tribune (February 21, 2008)

"Navy Hits Satellite With Heat-Seeking Missile " (February 20, 2008)

It was pretty good shooting: The satellite (USA-193, AKA NROL-21) was about the size of a bus; the Navy was aiming at, and apparently hit, a fuel tank on the satellite.

Now, the biggest pieces of the satellite are about the size of a football.

The fuel tank was a real concern. It was made of titanium and had about a thousand pounds of hydrazine1 inside. Hydrazine is a rocket fuel that's sincerely unhealthy to breath.

CNN has a pretty good video of the satellite being hit. That video includes part of a press conference with General James Cartwright of the Joint Chiefs of Staff: also clips from "Armageddon" and "Deep Impact," and some mildly-tongue-in-cheek interviews with New Yorkers.

The article includes a claim by an "MIT physicist and space expert" that there's a 3.5% chance that the tank will hit someone2. Numbers with a decimal point are always impressive, but that's a crazy-high chance: and the article doesn't go into why the MIT expert decided to use that number.
1That's hydrazine, not hydrogen, as I heard an expert say. In fairness, he might not have had enough sleep the night before.
2Even when you take into account America's 'obesity epidemic.' :)

Remarkable Painting Transforms a Building

"Amazing Painter"
August, 2006

Transforming a building with a coat of paint: and a lot of talent.

The Bill of Rights

"The Official Site of the Bill of Rights"

Amendments 1-10 of the Constitution

I like America, here's part of the reason why.

Cat and Pigeons


A well-positioned cat and two alert pigeons.

Random Plot Points for Writers

"Let's put your character in a sticky situation."

Push the button to get another suggestion.

The first three I got were:

They have been robbed.
Its all fun and games until someone loses an eye.
Someone gets mugged.

Not the worst writing assistant I've seen. Rather fun, in fact.

Caricatures: How to Draw Them

"How to Draw Caricatures: The 5 Shapes"

Looks like a pretty good how-to, with illustrations.

Boxelder Bugs

"Boxelder Bugs"
University of Minnesota Extension

The identification, importance, biology and life cycle, and management of these insects.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Google Puts Inner City Press Back on Google News

"Google Quietly Reinstates Work of News Organization Critical of U.N."
(February 20, 2008)

"...Inner City Press returned to the Google News search late in the day, but much sooner than the "couple weeks" a Google representative had promised. The week of stories the news service ran since Google News dropped it on Feb. 13 were not restored. ..."

Still, it's good news.

It turns out that there was one complaint against the very small news company. It claimed that Inner City Press is a one-man operation. Matthew Lee, the owner, says that he's got enough employees to satisfy Google.

This Google insists that it didn't drop Inner City Press because it had the wrong views about United Nations corruption, and the United Nations said that they didn't ask Google to drop the whistleblower.

Maybe so, but I'm glad that there's a free Web and blogosphere, where people can discuss matters like the Inner City Press issue.

I wrote about this on Monday: "Google Drops Inner City News: Censorship? or a Reasonable Response to Complaints?" (February 18, 2008)

That's Inner City Press"
"Reporting and Taking Action Since 1987"

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Geek.Com - a Place that Technophiles can Call Home

"" "the Online Technology Resource for Geeks! was created to fill a gaping hole on the 'Net–a place that Geeks could call home, and where those who aspire to be Geeks can get their feet wet! Get ready to enjoy the Online Technology Resource for Geeks–written by Geeks for Geeks."

Robot Tricks Humans Into Reading Captchas

"Trojan tricks users into reading captchas"
The H Online (October 29, 2007)

You may have read about this already.

Captchas (Completely Automated Public Turing Test to Tell Computers and Humans Apart) - those weirdly-displayed letters and numbers that email services, blogs, and websites use - are pretty effective at telling the difference between the difference between a human being and a robot.

So, now there's a trojan that picks out a legitimate website that uses captchas and a human being. The human is typically shown a free striptease, where all (he) has to do is read a captchas for each piece of clothing.

I suspect that it's fairly effective at bypassing the 'good sense' circuits for human males between the ages of about 12 and 125.

Kenneth Brown Design: Nice Work

"Kenneth Brown Design - Rooms"

Impressive, expensive, and attractive interior design.

Too pricey for me, but nice to look at.

Hamster and Sushi: Not a Common Combination, but Cute

"Do you prefer Sushi…or something a little more??" April 19, 2006.

That's a cute little white hamster.

Penguins: Strange Little Sculptures of Penguins


An untitled photo of penguins, sculpted from some sort of vegetable or fruit. It could be eggplants: but I'm no food expert.

Are You a Geek? Find Out

"You Know You Are a Geek If..." at (February 19, 2008)

A 39 point list, from

"You'd rather communicate with people via e-mail, text messaging, instant message, or Twitter, then face to face, because 'it's just easier that way.' "


"You've gotten this far READING THIS LIST!"

I appreciated #27: "You have four (or more) computers at your house, and it 'just isn't enough.' " This household does, I do, and my wife doesn't.

Monday, February 18, 2008

"President's Day" is Just About Over

But, since it's scheduled for the third Monday in February again next year, here are some links: About that apostrophe: Most of the websites I found use "President's Day," which means that one president is being honored. If both Washington and Lincoln are being remembered, or if it's all the presidents, it should be "Presidents' Day."

Whether singular or plural, it's good to have a day set aside to remember past presidents. Who knows: several dozen people across America may have done so today!

Google Drops Inner City News: Censorship? or a Reasonable Response to Complaints?

Google News may have simply been doing the job that news editors do, but there's a distinct odor around the disappearance of Inner City Press from Google News.

Journalist Who Exposes U.N. Corruption Disappears From Google" FOXNews (February 18, 2008)

Specifically, from Google News.

It's hard avoid thinking that Google dropped Matthew Lee's Inner City Press because Mr. Lee doesn't politely ignore
  • United Nations corruption and disasters
  • Google's debatable record on human rights and censorship
Matthew Lee isn't your usual journalist. His style is unpolished. And he's quite willing to expose corruption and other problems in the United Nations. And Google. For example:
  • 2006 drawing attention to human-rights abuses by the Ugandan People's Defense Force during a U.N. disarmament program
  • 2007, asking an embarrassing question during a press conference dedicated to announcing Google's partnership with the UNDP's anti-poverty efforts:
    Why hadn't Google "signed a global human-rights and anti-censorship compact —elements in the U.N.'s Millennium Development Goals."
Then, February 8, 2008, Matthew Lee got this email from Google:

"We periodically review news sources, particularly following user complaints, to ensure Google News offers a high quality experience for our users," it said. "When we reviewed your site we've found that we can no longer include it in Google News." [Emphasis mine]

"Following user complaints?!" Who complained? Why? Good questions, with no answers. I've gotten a great deal more interested in Google, now. This sort of thing may explain why I've noticed that Google News, although convenient, often doesn't give useful information.

Google's 'search the web' function still seems to be a notch or two above "pretty good," though.

Since you won't find Mr. Lee's news on Google News any more, here's a link to his website:

Inner City Press"
"Reporting and Taking Action Since 1987"

Rocky Planets May be Common as Dirt

"Study: Earth-like Planets Common " (February 17, 2008)

That's what some scientists decided, after research involving 309 stars with about as much mass as our sun.
Related posts, at

Monday Morning Humor for the Office

"Monday Morning Office Humor"

A ten-point list.

Specialized Monday Humor: For Catalogers Only

"Some Monday Humor"

The poster wrote, "I will write something more serious later this week but I saw this today and thought only catalogers will get a kick out of this:" but I'm not a cataloger, and I thought it was funny.

Don't get your hopes up, though, I've spent more hours in libraries than most people have in traffic jams, and made a living as a researcher for a while.

Telephone Menus:
I Think This is a Joke, But You Never Know

" Hello, Welcome to the Psychiatric Hotline." plus "Another version"


Thought for the Day: "Money Can't Buy..."


No text, just a funny photo. (And, 'happy Monday!')

Here We Go Again: JFK Assassination, an
Old Safe, and a Really Odd "Transcript"

Just when you thought it was safe to walk past the supermarket tabloid rack: new fuel for JFK assassination conspiracy theories.

About a dozen boxes turned up in an old safe on the 10th floor of a Dallas courthouse. Dallas County District Attorney Craig Watkins said that the boxes held:
  • Personal letters to and from former District Attorney Henry Wade
  • Letters to Jack Ruby
  • A gun holster
  • Official records from the Jack Ruby trial
  • Clothing, probably belonging to Jack Ruby and Kennedy's assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald
Except for the names, this would be just more of the sort of dusty, four-decades-old, stuff people find when an organization does housecleaning.

A really odd "transcript," that's probably a draft for a movie script, should jump-start more JFK conspiracy theories.

Although I'm sure the new set will be as imaginative as previous efforts, but I doubt that a USECT will emerge. After more than forty years, I'm still waiting for someone to come up with a good Unified Sixties Era Conspiracy Theory, or USECT, that ties together
  • The JFK, RFK, and MLK assassinations
  • Elvis
  • Marilyn Monroe
  • UFOs
Back to reality:

Odd Transcript in Old Dallas Safe

"Exclusive: Dallas County DA's office finds cache of JFK memorabilia" (February 17, 2008)
Dallas Morning News article excerpts
"But the curator of the Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza said the conversation could not have happened.

"Terri Moore, Mr. Watkins' top assistant, said she believes the transcript is part of a movie that Mr. Wade was working on with producers.

" 'It's not real. Crooks don't talk like that,' she said.

" 'If that transcript is true, then history is changed because Oswald and Ruby were talking about assassinating the president.' "


" Gary Mack, curator of the Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza, laughed when told of the transcript. He has not seen it or any of the other documents found in the safe.

"The transcript resembles one published in a report by the Warren Commission, which investigated Kennedy's assassination and determined that Oswald was the lone gunman. The FBI determined that conversation – again between Oswald and Ruby, but this time about killing the governor – was definitely fake.

"Mr. Mack said that it's well documented that Oswald was in Irving the evening of Oct. 4, at a home where his wife was staying. He could not have been at Ruby's club.

"Mr. Mack suggested that the transcript in the Warren Commission report was probably used as a model for the one found in the district attorney's safe.

"The conversation published in the commission report was a fake account of a conversation between Ruby and Oswald on the same night at the Carousel Club. A now-deceased Dallas attorney 're-created' the conversation after Kennedy's assassination for authorities after he claimed he recognized Oswald in a newspaper photo as the man he saw talking to Ruby that night.

" 'The fact that it's sitting in Henry Wade's file, and he didn't do anything, indicates he thought it wasn't worth anything,' Mr. Mack said of the newly found transcript. 'He probably kept it because it was funny. It's hilarious. It's like a bad B movie.' "

JFK Assassination Conspiracy Theory Fodder Goes National, International

"Old JFK documents may stir controversy" Reuters (February 17, 2008)

"Lost JFK Assassination Documents Believed Found in Dallas Courthouse" FOXNews (February 18, 2008)

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Roll-Your-Own Vacuum Tubes: the Video

"Make your own vacuum tubes?"

"Check out this absolutely mesmerizing (17 minute!) video of a French amateur radio operator who rolls his own vacuum tube triodes! I love the ease with which he performs these rather high-end skills (like glass forming), the gestural flourishes (like it's hand magic), and the Zelig-esque soundtrack."

Writing on a Schedule: Or, Being Creative When You Don't Feel Creative

"Monday Master Class: How to Schedule Your Writing Like a Professional Writer"
Study Hacks - Demystifying College Success

Pretty good advice. College students - and writers - take note.

Would-Be Novelists, Take Note: and Get Organized

"Get Organized Before You Write Your Novel"

Pretty good advice: and one of the more concise how-2 articles I've read.

Dreaming Iron: Sculpture and Furnishings Meet

"Dreaming Iron - Tibor Timar's Portfolio"

Tibor Timar's gallery of work.

Chairs, bar stools, arm chairs, tables and lamps, and architectural features: treated with the sort of attention usually reserved for sculpture.

In English and French.

WWII: Wisdom of an Admiral:
Three Quotes

"Great Quotations of World War II - Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto"

All-Digital TV Transmissions Coming Next Year
'Get Your Coupons?!'

"Digital TV coupons now in the mail"
"The Pueblo Chieftain Online" (February 16,2008)

With full-power television stations in America starting all-digital transmission a year from now, the federal government will start sending $40 coupons - to qualified households, I hope - starting next week.

The article showed quite a few ways to ask for the coupons:
  • Online
  • Phone 1-888-DTV-2009 (1-888-388-2009)
  • Fax a coupon application to 1-877-DTV-4ME2 (1-877-388-4632)
  • Mail a coupon application to P.O. Box 2000, Portland, OR 97208-2000
Where we get a coupon application to fax or mail, I haven't a clue.
We've got until March 31, 2009.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

What Was That Dog's Foot Up To?

"Dog fighting foot"

"Watching a dog chase its own tail is pretty common. However, when the dog gets jealous over its own foot trying to steal a tasty treat, there's gonna be a fight!"

A video of one wiggy dog.

Cats, Relaxed Cats, in a Box

"Pets Funky - LOL Your Pet - Many cats in boxes"
(February 14, 2008)

Cats. Relaxed cats. In a box. Relaxed cats flowing together in a box.

Reverse IP Domain Check: Another Useful Function

"Reverse IP Domain Check"

Brief discussion of a technique that's good for Search Engine Optimization, and other analysis.

Guess What "Green Eggs and Ham" Really Means!
And Other Crazy Test Answers

"Something Awful - the Internet makes You Stupid 2nd Grade AP Reading Exam"
"Front Page" (February 2, 2008)

I think this is a joke. On the other hand, this is the sort of thing I had to learn, when I was working toward my teaching degree.

(Caution: People who take political correctness seriously should not follow that link.)

"Arcadians" - Now We Know What the Pac-Man Ghosts Were Thinking

"Arcadians" A funny cartoon, with characters based on Pac-Man sprites.

Another Cute Kitten Video

" Kitten talk (00:50)"

Cat lovers will love this video of a kitten.

History Online

"10 Colleges and Universities Offering Free History Courses Online" at Education Portal.

From Massachusetts Institute of Technology to Utah State University. And Berkeley.

"Police Brutality?"
Florida Deupty Dumps Cripple on Head

"Deputies dump paralyzed man from wheelchair"
"MyFox Tampa Bay" (12 Feb 2008)

I wish this was a joke, but it isn't.

Brian Sterner's been a quadriplegic since he was 18: the result of a spinal injury from a wrestling accident.

Deputy Charlotte Marshall Jones picked him and his wheelchair up, dumped him onto the jailhouse floor, and searched him. He landed on his head, but what the hey: It was probably easier to frisk him this way.

She made a serious mistake, though: the whole performance was recorded on a security camera.

Mr. Sterner isn't what I think of, when the phrase "dangerous criminal" comes up. But you never know: "Records show his arrest was due to charges of fleeing and attempting to elude a law enforcement officer from an incident on October 25, 2007. Those same records show Sterner was cited at that time for blocking an intersection."

There's a link to a video of the incident in "Deputies dump paralyzed man from wheelchair's" sidebar.

Look carefully, and you'll see a civil rights angle to this incident that nobody seems to be mentioning. I haven't seen the words "police brutality" brought up in connection with it, either.

"Deputy Taped Dumping Man From Wheelchair Turns Herself In" "" (February 16, 2008). Well, that's progress.

An 'Antiques, Collectibles, and Used Crockery' Shop

"E-Decorative Arts"

This is a sort of online storefront and auction house, with decorative stuff that's, well, decorative. For the sake of the people running it, I hope that the content will be changing often.

Right now, there's quite a range of items, from "ANTIQUE JAPANESE CREAMER RARE, BEAUTIFUL" ($5.00 USD) to "Chic HOLLYWOOD REGENCY TOLE WALL SCULPTURE~56" Shabby" ($74.99 USD). Also, "2 EARLY BEN FRANKLIN FEDERAL-STYLE CURTAIN TIEBACKS," and a few items that aren't in ALL CAPS, like "7" Turkish/Ottoman China/Ceramic Plate." The latter is going for $14.99 USD at this time, with bidding stopping in about 40 minutes.
Thanks to Archie, whose comment on a previous post led me to this website.
This commercial website is "Powered by Build A Niche Store."
(BANS looks promising for online retailers: This isn't an endorsement, just an observation.)

Enthusiastic Baby, Patient Cat


Actually there's only one baby, and one cat, in this photo: but they are funny, and appealing.

Here's Looking at You: The Helix Nebula in Infrared

"A Giant Red Eye Out in Space.."

A look at infrared light from the Helix Nebula (NGC 7293), about 700 light years away.

Friday, February 15, 2008

G. K. Chesterton: Drawing on the Ceiling and Other Thoughts

"On lying in bed"
by G. K. Chesterton (1909)

It starts with:

"Lying in bed would be an altogether perfect and supreme experience if only one had a coloured pencil long enough to draw on the ceiling."

In case drawing on the ceiling seems a triviality, don't be concerned. There are some other serious thoughts, too, later on.

Leonardo Glass Cube - Again

"Leonardo Glass Cube by 3deluxe"

Again, almost: See "Leonardo GlassCube Building" (January 16, 2008)

This post has photos of the interior, and more description than the one I noted in January.

Cybersquatting, Domain Snatching, Front Running, Whatever:
Another Look

"Panel: No Evidence of Domain Snatching"
"" (February 15, 2008)

Good news: The issue got a hearing.

Bad news: Domain tasting actually is a problem.

(See "Network Solutions and Cybersquatting" (January 21, 2007))

Yale, Training Tomorrow's Leaders With
Anal Beads and Vibrating Sponges

"Sex Toys 101 and Other Lessons From Yale Sex Week"
"" (February 15, 2007)

This is one of the reasons I'm glad I didn't waste time and money going to one of those "prestigious" Ivy League schools.

My Laptop, Myself?

"This Modern Life"

A funny, and all-too-accurate, look at the place of laptops in contemporary life.

Apollo Computer on Display

"Apollo Guidance Computer and Logic Modules [no longer on display returned to CMHC] (1960)"

With a cycle time was 1 Mhz and 1 K of RAM, this was very, very high-tech: almost fifty years ago. I remember studying the Apollo keyboard, back when the Apollo program was underway.

Photos and some description.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Two Months Later, Second Life Still Vulnerable

"Sadville insecurity invites pickpockets" "The Register" (February 15, 2008)

Apparently, a serious vulnerability in Second Life's use of Apple QuickTime software still isn't fixed - two months after it was exposed.

The problem may extend beyond a user's virtual wallet: A new release of the malicious code will probably be able to debit S.L. users' credit cards.

Fort Vancouver: Somewhere, near a Columbia River

"Columbia River History - Fort Vancouver"

By the Northwest Power and Conservation Council (Oregon).

Not the best-designed page, form the navigational point of view, but a pretty good discussion on the fort.
"Incredible Memory Metal"

A video about Nitinol, an alloy of nickel and titanium.

Space Weather Report

"National Weather Service - Current Space Weather Conditions"

Including Geomagnetic Storms, Solar Radiation Storms, and Radio Blackouts.

Modern Homes:
Not Contemporary, Modern

"The Mid-Century Modernist - Homes"

A trip down memory lane, to a period when Modern was contemporary.

Fanciful Castles

"Fake for Real: Fantasy Castle"

Photos and text about Disney’s Sleeping Beauty Castle, King Ludwig of Bavaria’s Neuschwanstein, and a Lego model of Neuschwanstein.

E-Scams and Warnings: FBI Information Page

"FBI / New E-Scams & Warnings"

The Valentine's Day STORM WORM VIRUS warning is the most recent.

Others this year were
I'm pretty sure there will be more.

The Weird, Wacky World of Law

"Friday Fun: The World’s Weirdest Legal Cases"

Derived from a feature in "The Times" (UK).

High-Tech Michagan Transit System on the Way?

"Solar + Hydrogen Power Interstate Rail coming to Michigan!"

This might actually work.

What impressed me was that the design seemed to take into account the fact that not everyone is a single, moderately athletic, person who never carries groceries or hardware. In fact, it looks like freight has been taken into account.

Where'd That Word Come From?

"origins of words and phrases"

A light romp through history and culture.

(A caution: as with many other fascinating pages on the Web, this one may not be backed up by top-rate research. For example, my guess is that the "son of a gun" entry derives from a source with a multicultural perspective. A more academic, yet less politically correct, discussion of that particular phrase is at "The Phrase Finder - son of a gun." Finally, "" has a well-thought-out discussion of where "son of a gun" came from.)

Triple Asteroid Found

"Triple Asteroid Found Near Earth " "" (February 13, 2008)

It's the first triple near-Earth asteroid found.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Hooray for Hollywoodland

"Land Near Hollywood Sign Up For Sale" (February 13, 2008)

Is nothing sacred?!

The "Hollywoodland" sign, built in 1923 as a real estate promotion, faces devastating defacement. Houses may be built by this world-famous landmark!

Not that this is the first time the sign has gone through changes. In 1949 it was restored: without the "land" part. In 1973 it was declared Los Angeles Cultural-Historical Monument #111. Then, in order to preserve it, the thing was torn down and replaced by all-steel letters.

More about this landmark:

Plus video.

The Great Seal of the United States of America: 225 Years Young

Actually, I seem to have missed the Great Seal's birthday.

Typical: Just ask my wife about how reliable I am with birthdays and anniversaries.

At any rate, here are a few links: a sort of 'sorry I forgot' package.

"The Great Seal of the United States"
published by the United States Department of State, Bureau of Public Affairs (September, 1996)

"Official Heraldry of the United States"
"" (December 8, 2003)

"Conspiracy theories behind the Great Seal of the United States debunked
"International Herald-Tribune" (February 12, 2008)
(What, no space aliens? And where's Elvis?)

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Eyeclops: Super Magnifying Camera

"Introducing the Eyeclops: Super Magnifying Camera"

It's a toy, but seems to be quite a versatile little optical unit. Signals from the eye go to a television set.

Many photos and description.

Odd-Looking Chairs

" Straps Band Chair by Yahïa Ouled-Moussa"

Conventional wooden chairs, with strapping made from canvas belts: mostly shades of red and white.

List of Writing References

"Writing Reference Sites to Make You a More Effective Writer"

  • General Reference
  • Essay Writing
  • Resume Writing
  • Journalism
  • Fiction Writing
  • Poetry
  • Technical Writing
  • Web Writing (yes, there are some differences)
There's even a listing of "Articles similar to Writing Reference Sites to Make You a More Effective Writer." Looks like a pretty good resource.

Is There Intelligent Life in Cyberspace? Torrentfreak, Dependent Records, Piracy, and Common Sense

"P2P uploader hoaxes leading BitTorrent blog"
"The Register" (UK) (February 12, 2008).

"A German record label has been forced to deny it wants people to pirate its music after a blogger cooked up a story that it had uploaded its entire repertoire to Pirate Bay."

"Ernesto," founder of Torrentfreak, a BitTorrent fan blog, noticed a note attached to quite a few torrent tracker files. It read:

"Hello, my name is Stefan Herwig. I closed down my record label >>Dependent Records<< for good. But since I want my music to be heard by the people out there, everything I have ever published is now available on >>The Pirate Bay<<.

"This is a LEGAL torrent!

"I am not asking you to give, I want you to take!"

"Ernesto" must have been quite excited. Seeing that the founder of "Dependent Records" was closing his company, and asking people to rip him off, rip off the artists who made the recordings, and break several laws in the process, "Ernesto" whipped out a post announcing the fact.

The message from the founder was a fake, of course.

"The reaction of founder and correspondent 'Ernesto' was to note that since he has a full-time job, 'doing extensive research is not always an option'."

That one blogger left his brain in neutral while posting is nothing new. That "several blogs" picked up the unbelievable tale and ran with it isn't very surprising, either.

What's really impressive about this exercise in credulity is that "tin-pot 'news' organisations" picked up the story and repeated it. Verbatim.

And, that the micro-debacle hasn't made mainstream news.

Torrentfreak was still running the bogus story when "The Register" posted their story.

Here's one of the it's-on-the-Web-it-must-be-true articles: "Record Label, Claiming Losses To P2P, Closes; Uploads Music Library To Pirate Bay" "Mashable Social Networking News" (February 10, 2008).

Artificial Skin: New Technologies Coming

"Artificial Skin Mimics the Real Thing"

"A new kind of artificial skin made from thin layers of polymers and carbon nanotubes could soon give patients and robots alike the sensation of hot, cold, and pressure."

New World, New Issues:
Lunar Dust and Landing Pads

"How Lunar Landers Sandblasted the Moon"

The good news: The only equipment that's been damaged was already out of service.

The bad news: When more-or-less permanent structures go up on the moon, designers will want to pay special attention to where vehicles land.

Photos of the Amos Residence, a Hair Salon With Monumentally Uncomfortable Furniture, and More

"4site architecture - news"

Lots of photos of modern architecture: lots of flat surfaces and right angles.

The Sixties Lives!
The BeHive Lounge System

"The BeHive Lounge System"

This seems to be a contemporary product, but its appearance and even the style of the photos puts me in mind of a sixties flashback.


Monday, February 11, 2008

Are You a Traumatized Virus Victim?
Do You Know One?

"10 Breeds of PC User Identified and Explained"

From "The traumatized virus victim" to "The GTD maniac," this is a funny - and accurate - description of some "breeds of PC user."

Houseboat Interiors

"arkiboat houseboats
When Noah designed his Ark he was only thinking about practicality. Arkiboat thought about Architecture as well."

Fairly cool photos.

Meet the Celts

"Who were the Celts?"

A pretty good introduction to the Celts. A colorful bunch, with rather wild taste in hair styling, and a habit of using their enemies' skulls as decoration. Also, some of my ancestors. (Don't worry: we've settled down in recent centuries.)

Impressive Storm Cloud Photo

"Texas Mother Ship Cloud"
National Geographic's catchy title for a photo of a spectacular supercell cloud.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

The Grand Shaft at Dover

From the Napoleonic era.

On a separate topic, notice the combination of original(?) photos and text 'shared' with another page in "the grand shaft - amazing military engineering."

Interested in OLED TV? Here's an Article

" Toshiba and Panasonic to double OLED’s TV lifespan using a new technology"

A article.

Quests: An Observation for RPG Players

"World of Warcraft - Screenshot Gallery Image 2 of 11"

This is a bit of an in-joke for RPG (Role Playing Game) players.

The Bubble Nebula: Impressive Astrophotography

"NGC 7635, Bubble Nebula"

Quite an impressive photo.

Writing Advice and How-2

"Get Writing: Want to write? Or want to write better?"

"Try our collection of tips and tasks to polish your ideas."

1. Write what you want to read
19 Working together

Migrating to Open Source Software


Now they tell me!

A pretty good how-2.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

C3PO Will Have to Wait: Artificial Intelligence Today

Looking up "artificial intelligence," here's some of what I found:

by John McCarthy, Computer Science Department, Stanford University
"This article for the layman answers basic questions about artificial intelligence. The opinions expressed here are not all consensus opinion among researchers in AI."

"Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence"

"Science Daily: Artificial Intelligence News"
The start of a story from yesterday:
"Computer Interaction Gets Some Humanity
"February 8, 2008 — Human-computer interaction has not improved enormously since Mark Twain's time, when the typewriter was invented. A European research task force hopes to change that by making human-computer ... "

Beyond Wattle and Daub: New Architecutral Technologies

"ISIS Canada Research Network"

It's about
  • Fibre Optic Sensor Systems
  • Fibre Reinforced Polymers For Reinforcement
  • Structural Health Monitoring
  • Civionics
and, after all that, I love this point:
  • Innovative Structures
There's more, from Rehabilitation of Civil Infrastructure to Winnipeg Principles for Design of Bridge Decks.

Origamic Architecture!

"Evermore Origamic Architecture"

No ravens, but a bit about origamic architecture, a gallery, and links to other origamic architecture websites.

"Origamic architecture" is a new term to me. It seems to mean "very elaborate pop-up cards," although there may be more to it than that.

Origamic Architecture?

"baud & bui"

Click on the graphic, and you get to:

Paper Ideas - Art Teaching

In English and French.

It's about Origamic Architecture.

Origamic Architecture??

"baud & bui"

Paper Ideas - Art Teaching

In English and French.

It's about Origamic Architecture.

Late-20th-Century Skyscrapers, and Slides of the Pyramids

"20th Century Architecture Skyscrapers: 1960-2000"

A pretty good collection of photos.

The labeling leaves a little to be desired: A casual viewer might not know that "Skidmore, Owings & Merrill" and "SOM" are the same firm.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Choosing a Nich for Your Blog

"How To Choose The Right Niche For Your Blog" "The Lost Art of Blogging" (February 7, 2008)

Common-sense advice. Also, some pretty good photos.

Very Strange (Building?)


A photo of a very strange house? Sculpture? Alien spaceship? Mutant shellfish?

It seems to be "Nautilus House Senosian Arquitectos," and appears on the "World Architecture News

Online Privacy Tips

"Tips For The Privacy Minded"

Some of these actually make sense.

CDs Reborn as Disco Ball

"How to convert unwanted CDs into a smart disco ball"

"Smart" in the sense of trendy, that is. There's no AI involved in this ingenious craft project.

Power Line Towers Playing Jump Rope

See for yourself:

(from, used w/o permission)

Someone did a nice job, animating that photo.

Our Tax Dollars On Lunch Break?

"Tax Office Computer Servers Found by Trash" (1)
"Washington Post" (February 8, 2008)
(You may have to sign in to see the article)

Maintenance engineers find the darndest things. Like Melvin Barnes, whose cleaning crew found something out-of-place next to a trash compacter in Northwest Washington, DC. Two servers were sitting by the compacter, in an alcove behind a Ruby Tuesday.

They weren't the human kind of servers: These were three-foot-high boxes with "PROPERTY OF D.C. OFFICE OF TAX AND REVENUE" on the outside, and lots of high-tech circuitry inside.

Servers like the dumped pair keep track of American Social Security Numbers, and other information that people would just as soon not be generally available.

The big question now is, how did these servers, which don't seem to have been used for years, wind up sitting behind a Ruby Tuesday? That's not the way government agencies are supposed to get rid of equipment.

And, the equipment belonged to a tax office that's had major theft problems. Also a little matter of embezzlement involving upwards of $20 million in bogus property tax refunds.

Mr. Barnes and the property manager called the tax office about the servers. They also called the police.

The tax office wanted the dumped servers back. To which Barnes Barnes replied: "You'll have to call the police. They have them now."
(1) I think the Washington Post didn't mean to call the cleaning crew trash: The paper probably meant to say "Next to Trash."

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Low-Cost, Easy to Repair: OLPC Laptops in Nigeria

"Nigerian 5-Year-Olds Repair OLPCs in 'Hospital' Affordable Laptops Are Simple to Repair"

Most people in places like Nigerian don't have the disposable income to support a local computer repair shop. So, when equipment breaks down, the owner either does without it, or learns to repair it.

Happily, the XO laptop was designed to be easily repairable. Jepsen and team even created it with a $1 backlight for the LCD display. (Ever had to replace a laptop screen? Those OLPC laptops have some good points.)
I've written about the OLPC program before: "One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) (Knowledge) Power to the People!" (December 27, 2007)

Modernist, But Surprisingly Attractive, Houses

"Triangle Modernist Houses: Vincent "Vinny" Petrarca"

Introduction: " After graduating from NCSU's School of Design and spending seven years working for Frank Harmon, Petrarca formed Tonic Design and Tonic Construction. His first independent project was his own house, the "Honeymoon Cottage" below. The house won a AIANC and SARC award and has been featured in several magazines. In 2006, he built a house designed for and by internationally acclaimed architect Turan Duda."

Quite a few photos, with captions or descriptions.

Room Planning Software: Can't Beat the Price

"High Fashion Home: Room Planner"

Best of all, it's free.

You are Here:
Map of Our Corner of the Universe

"The Universe within 1 billion Light Years The Neighbouring Superclusters"

Our galaxy doesn't show up at this scale. It's toward the edge of the Virgo cluster, about halfway between the Centaurus and Perseus-Pisces Superclusters.

I've been a little overwhelmed by personal events lately. Thinking about the 3 million or so large galaxies and roughly 500 million billion stars there helped me put my experiences in perspective: Worrying about family transitions and finances tends to fade when contemplating the vast scale and awesome structures of creation.

Make Your Monitor Into a 3D VR Display

"Turning any monitor in to a 3D VR display" (January 25, 2008)

This video seems to be serious.

"Johnny Lee is a PhD student at Carnegie Mellon University who took a standard Nintendo Wii remote and turned a monitor in to something special. You can check out the video above and actually find a sample program here on his website."

The Home Computer of 2004: As Imagined in 1954

Photo and caption of Rand's 'home computer' mock up made in 1954. RAND deserves credit for projecting that the device will be "easy to use." The rest should be a caution to 'futurists' who publish their views of next-generation advances.
Updated (October 24, 2009)

I've since run into a pretty strong argument that this photo is a composite of several different photographs - and 'not as advertised.'

Still, predictions of next-generation advances (or lack of same) are dicey at best.

PDF Readers Compared and Tested

"5 popular PDF Readers - Compared and Tested [ Windows ]"

With comparisons.

Google and Microsoft: A Thoughtful Article

"Google will turn your startup into a commodity"

This is a business-oriented article about recent developments in business online.

Photos of American Commercial Displays and Attractions

"Philip Michelson Studio"

A remarkable collection of images: much of it Americana.

If you Like Cathedrals, You'll Love This Website


Lots and lots of photos of cathedrals.

There's Something You Don't See Every Day:
An Elevated Airport Runway

"Airport runway on pillars"

In Madeira, Portugal: The photo shows why the architects or designers decided on this unconventional approach.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Wikipedia Neutrality Challenged: Another Wiki Reality Check?

"Wikipedia ruled by 'Lord of the Universe'" "The Register" (February 6, 2008)

Wikipedia's "Conflict of Interest Noticeboard" is supposed to deal with one-sided or biased articles.

There's just one catch.

The creator and administrator of the "Conflict of Interest Noticeboard," Jossi Fresco, is a disciple of Prem Rawat (previously known as Guru Maharaj Ji). You may have heard of Prem Rawat under his preferred title: "Lord of the Universe."

According to "The Register" article, Wikipedia may have a "neutral point of view," but seems to treat some articles more neutrally than others.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Free Stuff: Some of it Useful

"Free Applications for Linux"

And, in most cases, Windows and (Apple?).

Return of the Beanbag Chair

"The Couch Sack - The next generation of beanbag!"

The beanbag chair's back, grown into a 7-foot couch.

Tasty Writing Advice

"Juicy Writing: 5 Ways to Glue Readers to the Page"

Pretty good advice. I'd suggest taking it with a pinch of salt.

The Chicago Spire

"The Chicago Spire Inspired by nature, imagined by Calatrava"

Due to open in 2011, this 2000-foot skyscraper will house 1,200 condominiums.

I expect there will be quite a bit of discussion, and strongly held opinions, about this tower. It looks sort of like a seashell, sort of like a flower bud.

Video, descriptions, and pictures.

The Basilica Cistern of Byzantium: an Ancient Wonder

"The Mystery of the Sinking Palace"

Photos and a pretty good description of a cistern called the "Sinking Palace" by people in Istanbul/Constantinople/Byzantium. I seem to remember that the place was built around the time when people were starting to call Byzantium Constantinople. The city's current name is Istanbul.

The Curious Expeditions blogger identifies "Yerbatan Sarnici" as the site's official website. (There's an English version available, as well as several other languages: look for the Union Jack.)

The Wikipedia has a decent article about the cistern, too.

(A comment on the Curious Expeditions post calls the "Sinking Palace" a hoax, perpetrated by Istanbul tourism promoters. I understand the feeling. The place looks too good to be real. But I've run into reliable references to it for decades. Calling it a hoax is a bit like calling New York's Times Square a hoax, intended to lure New Year's party-goers. ;) )

The Kaye Effect and Laser Fountains

"Leaping Shampoo"

A remarkable case of science that's fun for a non-scientist. You've probably never heard of the Kaye effect, but you may have seen it: a thin, short-lived fountain shooting up from the spot where a narrow stream of fluid hits something solid.

This video shows the Kaye effect in action, at normal speed and slow motion: and discusses a mathematical model of the effect, with the experiment to test the model.

And, a demonstration of how the little fountains can be used as light guide for lasers.

Nils Bohr: Physicist and Wise Guy

"Find the height of a building using a barometer"

Or, several examples of how the unexpected answer isn't necessarily wrong.

The source of this anecdote isn't given, but the story is crazy enough to be true.

Particularly since Nils Bohr would have had to have some imagination to win that Nobel Prize.

Monday, February 4, 2008

A Thought About Permanence in This Word

"Nothing endures but change."

Two and a half millennia later, Heraclitus still makes a lot of sense.

A (Happy) Face of Mars, and More

The Planetary Society Weblog: "Have a happy day on Mars" (February 1, 2008)

A 'happy face' snapped on Mars by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter on January 28, 2008, and other Martian minutia.

"Book of the Future" - 2000 as seen from 1979

"The Usborne Book of the Future"

"A trip in time to the year 2000 and beyond. See the robots, machines and cities of the future, and then travel to the stars."

"A House of the Future" (page 40) isn't all that far off.

Other parts of this online book reproduction are, well, optimistic.

Five Tips for Freelancers

"Five Tips for a Successful Freelance Writing Career"

Pretty good advice for the freelancer - and for many work-from-home businesses.

The Bobble Head Party: An Idea Whose Time has Come?

As an American citizen, I've got mixed feelings about the 2008 elections. Although I make an effort to stay informed, and vote regularly, I'm
  • Not always impressed by either of the major American political parties
  • Frequently underwhelmed by the shenanigans of our leaders on Capitol Hill
  • Firmly believe that if a hundred million people really believe in a stupid idea: It's still a stupid idea
Today, after a night punctuated by clean-up in one of the family's bedrooms, and with a cold coming on, I had a thought.

The following political party doesn't exist, but maybe it should.

The Bobble Head party: These people with a simple solution to ending malfeasance and tomfoolery in Washington.

They propose to replace all members of the American Congress, House and Senate, with bobble head dolls: and place a lava lamp on the desk of the Oval Office.

The Bobble Head party's main talking points are that the bobble heads couldn't possibly foul up as much as our leaders can, and would cost much less to maintain.

Under the Bobble Head plan, elections would determine which faces would go on each doll, and what color the lava lamp would be for the next four years.
The quantity, and quality, of nonsense during election years being what it is, this disclaimer may be necessary: This post is a joke.

British Twins Save Mom's Life

"How my twins saved my life by kicking loose a tumour while still in my womb" "the Daily Mail" February 4, 2008.

That headline tells the story of Michelle Stepney and her twins, Alice and Harriet. There's a photo of the very happy mother and the very British twins.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Think Your Office is a Mess? These Photos May Help

"Office Supplies Blog - How Messy Is Your Office?"

The odds are that yours is in better shape than the one shown in the first picture.

My favorite photo is the one with the contented cat.

National Novel Writing Month

"National Novel Writing Month - Pep Talk from Neil Gaiman"

From November, 2007.

A pretty good read for aspiring writers.

Despite the name, National Novel Writing Month, my guess is that the organizers wouldn't mind it if you wrote during the other 11.

Idea for Next Halloween: Chicken-Wire Ghost

"Easy, Do-It-Yourself Ghost"

A series of photos, showing how to make a quite spooky figure from "fence." I think it's what we call chicken wire, here in Minnesota.

My guess is that this 'ghost' would be most effective if at a location where viewers could not approach within about a hundred feet.

Of a Monkey and a Pigeon


A photo of a wistful young monkey and a pigeon. Very cute.

Garden House: Design for the Rest of Us

"Garden House by ARCHTEAM"

Photos, description, with floor plan and site plan, of a small house.

It's an attractive building, but what jumped out at me was the description of the architectural firm's clients as mostly being people with "limited budgets, [looking] for financially modest or average buildings."

In a world where so much attention goes to people with a taste for solid-gold swizzle sticks or solid mahogany bird houses, it's nice to see architects focus on the hoi polloi.

Better Ideas From Japan:
Vending Machine Skirts and Other Strange Fashions

"The Strangest Japanese Styles"

"Japan has always been on the edge when it comes to hairstyles and clothing; however the styles that are popular now are very strange to Westerners."

Description and photos of Japanese styles, from Vending Machine Skirt (no kidding) to Ganguro Girl, by way of Gothic Guys.

This stuff is quite seriously weird.

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

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Waiting for Superbowl XLII:
A Decade of Funny Super Bowl Commercials

"Funny Super Bowl TV Commercials, 1998-2007"

Collected links and descriptions at

Reviewing a decade of the Super Bowl advertising sideshow wouldn't be the worst way to spend time, waiting for Super Bowl XLII.

Better Ideas From China:
Glow-in-the-Dark Pigs

"Green pig gives birth to glowing piglets" "" (January 9, 2008)

"China sees results as progress toward growing organs for human transplant"

These glow-in-the-dark transgenic pigs show that a genetic alteration worked its way into every cell of the pig, that the pig could have piglets, and that the second generation had the same weird trait.

Assuming that the research report is accurate and complete.

The Chinese are looking beyond obvious practical applications like porcine night-lights. A Chinese scientist said that pigs with designer genes could provide organs for transplant to humans, without the problems that human-to-human transplants have.

Meanwhile, South Korean scientists have developed cats that glow red. Why, I've no idea.

The MSNBC / AP article didn't bring it up: but there are some ethical questions about transplant-friendly pigs. As I understand it, it depends in part on where the coding comes from.

What a brave new world we live in!

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

Music Software: Free and Otherwise

"Anvil Studio"
"Finale NotePad® 2008"
"Freebyte Music Zone"
"midi edit staff at Free Downloads Center"

Free and not-so-free music software.

Ergonomic Torture Assignment

"University Professor Assigns Students to Make Fully Operational Torture Devices"

The assignment urges students to "look at the dark side of ergonomics."

The project is sensitive to contemporary mores, though: the professor says to use recycled materials.

A Bear and a Bridge

"October 5, 2007: Bear survives bridge encounter"

Or: 'You Think You Had a Bad Day?'

It looks like this really happened.

Stackable Pod Homes: New Pod Every Three Days

"Prefab home that can be built in just 3 days - Perrinepod"

"Architect Jean mic Perrine has come up with an audacious new idea - ready made, stackable, expandable pod homes."

Photos show a house that's stylish, quite modern, with lots of glass walls: but looks like a place someone might actually want to live in.

Pretty Good Advice for Writers: In Reverse

"Rules for Writing a Fantasy Novel"

There's some truth in this. Also, this is a sort of laundry list for writers: of what not to do.

"1. The heroes will lose every battle, but win the war."
"19. Rulers of any large territory (eg. Kings, Emporers, etc.) are either terminally stupid or insane, and could not suppress a rebellion if their life depended on it (which it usually does)."

There's also "Additional Rules for TSR Writers"

"1. Only under exceptional circumstances will you be allowed to write the sequel to any novel you write."
"7. All books will be between 300 and 320 pages."

A Moderately Geekish Way to Dodge Spam

"how to make the internet not suck (as much) - version"

This looks like it might be useful. Following the (somewhat technical) instructions, should block access to unwanted material, including malicious e-card sites from to, and spam sites from to

Writing is Important: Who Knew?

"National Commission on Writing"

"... founded by the College Board in an effort to focus national attention on the teaching and learning of writing. ... Its first report to Congress, The Neglected "R", called for a writing revolution to return writing to its proper place in the American classroom."

Looks like there are a few grants here, too.

Generating Electricity From Waste Heat

"A silicon surprise"

Until now, thermoelectric materials, substances that can convert heat to electricity: but they were very pricey, like bismuth or tellurium.

These tiny generators are made with silicone, an element that's common as sand.

"Family Friendly News and Fun"

"ArcaMax Publishing"

"Family Friendly News and Fun"

"ArcaMax Publishing is your free source for free newsletters, classic books, comic strips and fun stuff like games and quizzes."

I've been visiting the website daily, mostly for "Zits" and "Garfield."

Square Bed: Stylish, Contemporary, and Looks Uncomfortable

"Suite NY - Doze"

"Solid wood bed in natural beech, oak, maple, American cherry and American walnut."

With square pillows.

And, it's eco-friendly.

I suspect this bed may be for people who can pay other people to sleep for them.

Kitchen Island: Crazy Colors, Practical Intent

"Artificio - New series: Compacta"

At first glance, it looks like someone re-invented the kitchen island. This time, with eye-wrenching colors.

The description seems to indicate that there's some quite clever design going on here: but there seems to be at least one word missing. ("... along with a homogeneous sandwich made of compact, enabling the piece to float with a minimum of supports." Compact what?)

Interesting example of minimalist design: and it could be quite low-maintenance.

Or, the Worst Driver Around

"Not Much of a Man"

An old, old joke that I first heard several decades ago, about a man, twits on motorcycles, and a truck.

Caution! Cut Cables Cause Communication Catastrophe!

"How one clumsy ship cut off the web for 75 million people" "The Guardian," February 1, 2008

The author seems to be a little confused about directions ("Although the direct effect of the Mediterranean accident is being felt as far west as Bangladesh." West?? I thought Bangladesh was east of the Mediterranean.), but he does have a point. The global communications system we have is fragile. At least, in some places.

I wrote about this yesterday: "Internet Cables Cut, Outages From Egypt to Bangladesh."

Gecko Adhesive: Directional Glue

"Smart Gecko Tape"

"First gecko adhesive which is easy attach, easy release, and directional"

A discussion of this remarkable substance, with a video, and background on gecko feet.

A Word of Almost Two Myriad Letters

"The Most Horrible English Words"

"And you thought your vocabulary was good? Try these words on for size."

From Honorificabilitudinitatibus to a monster with almost 2,000 letters, referring "to 'Tryptophan synthase a protein', a chemical name for a substance that contains 267 kinds of amino acid enzymes." That's what the author says, anyway.

Somehow, I don't think these words will come up very often in everyday conversation.
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