Saturday, October 24, 2009


B-52's: Mesopotamia. "Before I talk, I should read a book!" What a refreshing sentiment, and not one you hear much these days.

Devo: Secret Agent Man; the original being parodied here was by Johnny Rivers.

Blondie: The Tide is High. When Blondie first started getting popular in the late 70's, I didn't care much for their music. First, Rapture (their early song that got played to death) is just a song and a style I don't like; it was important and influential, but just not my cup of tea. Second, the marketing I saw at the time was all about Deborah Harry is a hottie. Fine, I agree, but I'm not going to buy or listen to music because an artist is fun to look at- even then I was very suspicious of advertising sex. As I listened to more of their later music though, I came to realize that Harry had (and still has) an amazing voice, and that as a group, they were very happy to play around with differing styles and moods. Not my favorite group ever, but right up there.

Compare the above to "Angels on The Balcony," from the same album, 1980's "Autoamerican."

Five Seconds Aloft

plugged into the old equation yields a 200-foot altitude. Thanks to Kyle, who sent me this link. Somehow, this seems like a very "guy" thing to me; I can picture women being amused by it, but not enough to actually carry it out.

Short Take

For making it clear they would not let Rush Limbaugh own an NFL team, the current team owners should win the Nobel Peace and Quiet Award.
Jim Randle, Salem

OregonLive's weekly feature with responses to current events in 35 words or fewer. I LOVE the idea of a Nobel Peace and Quiet Award.

Well? Do You? Punk?

Last year, after Oregon lawmakers found a way to expand health care for the uninsured, state health officials grappled with an ethical issue: Who should be first in line for the coverage? The sickest? The youngest? The poorest?

But federal law does not allow the state to discriminate in such fashion. Thus, 18 months ago, a computer in Salem began randomly drawing names from a pool of more than 83,000 uninsured adults who had signed up for this creative but essentially heartless lottery.

In the initial drawing only 3,000 won the precious jackpot -- insurance under the Oregon Health Plan. It meant they had about a one-in-27 chance of winning coverage.
Next year looks better: the impoverished uninsured may have as much as a one-in-four chance of getting health care. The rest can go to the emergency room.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Two Quick Questions

Was the year 2000 a leap year (i.e. did February have an extra day?) How about 1900? If you answered yes and no, respectively, you understand our calender better than most.

The reason I bring it up is that according to the findings of Archbishop Ussher, this is the Earth's Birthday. I had been intending to post on this today, but Callan at NOVA Geoblog did such an outstanding post that I'm just going to link his. Among other tidbits of information, Ussher's formal title was "Primate." Heh. (listens for fundy Christian heads to go all 'splodey)

Still, I wonder if Ussher took Pope Gregory's calendar changes into account? The reason he had to change it was that the "paper calender" had drifted more than half a month off the "seasonal calendar."

I'm sure geology types the world round are hoisting a toast to our wonderful planet tonight. Sure, it's ironic and a little sarcastic, but in the end, October 23rd is as good a birthday as any.

Species Who Died

The Guardian has a photo gallery of species- plants, frogs, snails, birds, mammals- that are thought to have gone extinct in recent years. In some cases the species is completely gone, in others it's functionally extinct, but in all cases, the species is diminished to the point there is no realistic hope of its recovery. The above beautiful plant has a few surviving members (no pun intended). They're all male. There are only ten photos; this is only a fraction of a percent of the actual extinctions that have occurred recently.

I didn't really care for the following song when I first heard it; but I came to enjoy it in a Pulp Fiction, dark (very dark) humor sort of way.
Speaking of Pulp Fiction, here's a clip I came across earlier today. I had decided it wasn't funny enough to post... but it is ironic enough to post given this context.

Our species is waving its power around like the gun in that scene. Who knows who'll get taken out with the next accident? Hmmm?

How The Heenes Will Pay for Their Hoax

According to court documents, Mayumi Heene has admitted that the whole "balloon boy" episode was a hoax. I'm sure there will be prison time involved, but I haven't seen any realistic estimate of the cost due to diverted air traffic, rescue efforts, TV coverage, and certainly not least, lost productivity due to our culture's Pavlovian reaction to trumped up drama in the media.

However, when that B of A settlement comes through, it'll be taken care of.

As It Happens, I'm Here Now

Pretty much nails my schedule, except I generally go home around 7 to 8 pm, rather than 5:30 to 6. From Reddit, via The Daily What.

In A Different World

A world called Germany,
A group of rich Germans has launched a petition calling for the government to make wealthy people pay higher taxes.

The group say they have more money than they need, and the extra revenue could fund economic and social programmes to aid Germany's economic recovery.
The group estimates the German government could raise 100 billion euros (approximately $150 billion) over two years with a 5% wealth tax.
The group say the financial crisis is leading to an increase in unemployment, poverty and social inequality.
"The path out of the crisis must be paved with massive investment in ecology, education and social justice," they say in the petition.

Those who had "made a fortune through inheritance, hard work, hard-working, successful entrepreneurship, or investment" should contribute by paying more to alleviate the crisis.
Are these people insane? How could someone think that dealing with a crisis is more important than having more money than a mortal could spend?

Speaking of which, here is another tidbit I came across yesterday: Neil deGrasse Tyson trying to explicate really big numbers:
50 billion: This is what Bill Gates was worth before the recession. To understand this, imagine you make a reasonably good living in the low six figures. With such an income you would be too busy to stop and bend over to pick up a dime, but you would stop for a quarter. By scaling this number up to Gates' wealth, he would be too busy to bend over and pick up ... $45,000.
And finally, The BBC reports a man is suing the Bank of America for poor customer service. The amount he's claiming? 1780 billion trillion dollars.
It would in fact take 5,247 super-rich, Bill Gates-filled planets to just barely cover Mr Chiscolm's demand for $1,784 billion trillion.
Also too, if I've got all my figures lined up right, that would be the value of a cube of gold 13.436 kilometers on a side. Mount Everest is just under 5 km tall. Big rock candy mountain indeed. I personally am hoping he wins. He could pay for truly universal global health care, hunger, climate change, housing, and financial insecurity without even noticing the scratch in the side of his block.

On the other hand, that might just devalue gold a little bit.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Doom Heads to Shore

Original photo from Skull Swap, caption by I can claim no creativity in this; the caption was obvious.

In The News

Giant Mutant Sea Gulls descend on the city. Alfred Hitchcock is screaming in his grave.
Story here.

It's Always In the Last Place You Look For It

But I always look in a few more places just to be sure.

Meanwhile, Out In the Pumpkin Patch...

What's that rustling sound? Could it be? AAAAUUGH!From CS Monitor. For Charlie.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Seeing Rouge

Yes, it's a real book. Yes, that's it's real cover. Yes, it's coming out on the same day as the other. And yes, I'm talking about both of them.

Yes, I think both will be highly entertaining.

Oops, forgot links... here, here, and here. (NY Daily News, CS Monitor, and Guardian, respectively)


Don't ask, don't tell...Probably Bad News

More Stuff

Well! This certainly seems to be my day to find video clips of all the fun other people have shopping. The soundtracks at the markets I go to seem to consist of musak treatments of "classic rock." Think "Paint it Black" orchestrated with a thousand violins and no percussion or vocals. Fred Meyer needs to hire a pianist. Captions would be good too.

Stuff Like This

Never happens when I go shopping. Well, there was that one time when five chatting mothers with screaming toddlers totally blocked aisle 14 while I was trying to get at the cereal and coffee, but I'm not sure howling in harmony counts as "musical."
For our latest mission, six undercover actors burst into song in a grocery store in Queens. Three minutes and lots of silly choreography later, they returned to their roles as shoppers and stock boys. The mission was filmed with hidden robotic, lipstick, and wearable cameras. Enjoy the video first and then go behind the scenes with our report below.
From Improv Everywhere; the tagline is "we create scenes.

What I Think

Haven't done one of these for a while... context here.And another! Context here.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Newwwwws... Innnnn.... Spaaaaaaaaace!'s terrific feature, The Big Picture, yesterday showcased a stunning gallery of images captured by the Cassini probe during Saturn's equinox. (If cute is more your cup of tea, check out last Friday's Gallery of animal pictures in honor of World Animal Day) I think my favorite of the Saturn pictures is the following:"Another view of waves in the edges of the Keeler gap in Saturn's A ring, created by the embedded moon Daphnis." Like most objects in the solar system, Saturn and its ring particles rotate in a right-hand sense; point your right thumb up, and the direction your fingers point and curl represent what is meant by "right-handed rotation." Ring particles closer to Saturn orbit more quickly, and farther out, more slowly. The gravitational disruption caused by Daphnis, seen as waves, would not be visible without the very low angle lighting conditions casting shadows. The inner ring particles are orbiting more quickly than Daphnis, so the waves appear to be propagating left to right. The outer ring is orbiting more slowly, so the disruption appears to be moving right to left.

Awesome and beautiful.

The Planetary Society Blog points out a mysterious trap door on the lunar surface...
Higher resolution:
It is thought that this may be a skylight in a basaltic lava tube. When a highly fluid lava like basalt erupts, the outer margins, including the upper surface, cool and solidify first. This outer crust insulates the interior, and allows it to stay hot and flowing longer. Often, after the source eruption ceases, the lava partially or completely drains, and leaves an empty tube behind. On occasion, a part of the roof collapses, leaving a hole through the roof into the tube, as seen below:
The above and following were swiped from Facebook friend Kevin's page, and were taken at Derrick Cave in Central Oregon. The most common type of lava tube entrance is a complete collapse of the roof and walls of the tube. The picture below is looking from inside the main part of the cave (there's a smaller segment on the opposite side of the opening) to the outdoors.
So this is the terrestrial equivalent of what we appear to have found on the moon. As the Planetary Society post points out, this could be an ideal site for a base, providing shelter both from ionizing radiation, and from extreme heat and cold through the course of a lunar day. There is a certain irony that, as we look at what may be the human frontier over the next century, we hark back thousands of years, seeking caves for shelter.

I've seen this story in a number of papers; this excerpt is from the NYT coverage:
European astronomers have found 32 new planets outside our solar system, adding evidence to the theory that the universe has many places where life could develop. Scientists using the European Southern Observatory telescope didn't find any planets quite the size of Earth or any that seemed habitable or even unusual. But their announcement increased the number of planets discovered outside the solar system to more than 400.
Right now, we have two proven methods of planet discovery: spectroscopy and occultation. As a planet orbits its star, the star is also tugged back and forth- remember, for each action, there is an equal but opposite reaction. The star is many times larger than the planet, so its motion is changed by much less, but it is changed. Careful analysis of the star's spectrum over a period of days to years can demonstrate a cyclical shift from bluer to redder and back. If this shift is persistent over two or more cycles, it is taken to be evidence that the star's motion is being perturbed by an orbiting planet. The second method, occultation, is more straightforward. If a planet passes in front of the stellar disk, the amount of light we receive from the star decreases. Again, we look for this signal to repeat two or more times- enough that we feel we can confidently predict the next luminosity decrease. If we can get both spectroscopy and occultation from the same star and planet, we can get at both the volume (derived from radius, related to luminosity decrease) and mass (related to stellar mass and perturbation of the star's motion). Volume and mass allow us to calculate density, which allows us to determine whether the planet is gaseous or rocky. A bit more than a month ago, researchers announced the discovery of the first rocky exoplanet. It's beginning to look like there's a really good chance of finding other earth-like planets.

Finally, The BBC is reporting that a week from today, a test of the new Ares 1-X will be carried out. As I read it, this will be simply a functionality test of the first stage; the upper stages will simply be dummy weights, and while I'm sure everything will be instrumented to the hilt, there will be no passengers. As much as I've enjoyed watching the shuttle flights, I have to admit I'm excited to see the return of the sheer monstrous power of the Saturn V-style rockets.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Too Close For Comfort

This is why I'm careful to look at the WHOLE traffic situation, not just the closest car, when I cross the street. Hope the bus driver lost at least his job.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Interzone Halloween Barbie Costume Contest!

I've forgotten to get this up, and there's just more than a week left, with no entries yet. Ten days should be enough to put something together...
It's time for
Interzone's annual
Halloween Barbie doll costume contest

Check out our display of previous contest entries by customers and staff. Doesn't it look like fun? It is.

Dress your Barbie, Ken or similar doll in a creative costume that you designed using your own little hands and brain. Multiple entries are allowed if you're a creative genius or just a dork with nothing better to do. You don't have to say which one you are (but we'll know).

Customers and staff will vote for their favorite. Submit your entry by Tues. Oct. 27. (Late entries will be accepted, but voting will have begun)

Results will be announced on Halloween at 7 PM. Winners do not need to be present at the time to claim their prizes. We're sure you'll be doing something much more fun at 7 PM on a Saturday Halloween.

3rd place: $10 Interzone gift certificate and travel mug.
2nd place: $20 Interzone gift certificate and tote bag
1st place: $30 Interzone gift certificate and t-shirt

Why are you still standing here? Go desecrate a Barbie! Go!

Here are some entries from previous years:Constitutional Amendment Barbie, above, (all the pictures and text will get much bigger if you roll the cursor over them and depress the left mouse button), and her description, below.

Miss VP USA Barbie.
Interzone Bill, friend of Interzone Barbie (I don't know if this is intended to imply anything about Interzone Iris.)
Contractor Ken
Protest Barbie.
At-Risk Barbie

O'Shea Guevara

There's a young man who hangs out here at my favorite coffee shop with the last name of O'Shea. I think he'll get a kick out of this visual pun inspired by the Cher Guevara in the previous "Sunday Funnies" post.

Sunday Funnies

xkcd... maybe that's actually what's happening. Did my eyes come bundled with Photoshop?
Life Lesson from AmazingSuperPowers Click to double linearly, or quadruple areally.
Do these drumsticks taste funny to you? Cake Wrecks
funny pictures of dogs with captions
see more dog and puppy picturesDarius Whiteplume's Tumblr
Find all seven members of this silly family. TYWKIWDBI
Apples are teh bomb. The Daily What.
"Worst Dog Haircuts Ever" From BuzzFeed. The above victim has a zebra on the other side. And I don't think it's fair to call these "worst." They are awesome! And funny.

The following had me in tears, from Not Always Right:
Me: “Welcome, how can I be of assistance?”

Patient: “I think my son has Liza Minnelli!”

Me: “Liza Minnelli?”

Patient: “Yes! I think he has Liza Minnelli!”

Me: “Um…how did he contract it?”

Patient: “He ate the raw chicken on the counter! I’m telling you, it’s Liza Minnelli!”

Me: “Oh, you must mean salmonella.”

Patient: “No, I mean Liza Minnelli!”

Me: “Right, then. The doctor will see you now.”

(The doctor sees the patient’s child and tells her that it is salmonella and not Liza Minnelli. On her way out…)

Patient: “I still think it’s called Liza Minnelli.”

funny pictures of cats with captions
see more Lolcats and funny pictures
In a contest between geology and automotive technology, guess which will always win? That Will Buff Out. Also, too, another example.Visual Punnery from Darius Whiteplume
PhD Comics

Top ten reasons Obama should reject the Nobel Peace Prize. Click over to CJSD for the other five.
10) Peace sells, but we’re not sure who’s buying, and that goes against our free market principles.

9) Plus, anything given out by Europeans is not worth accepting, except for Western civilization.

8) No real American would accept a Nobel Prize during a time of war. Wait, who did? Kissinger? Son of a bitch.

7) Okay, no real American-born American, like Reagan. Speaking of which, it’s a crime that Ronald Reagan didn’t receive this award for Star Wars, which should have been called Star Peace, what with all the Freedom Lasers shooting down Commie missiles.

6) Besides, accepting the award is exactly what our enemies want…wait, what? The Taliban condemned the award. Hamas too? Wow, this is awkward…uh, socialism!

us capitol building
see more Political Pictures
If you were a baby seal...  ...I'd CLUB you!
see more Political Pictures
We've all had days like this... Skull Swap
El Niño: Ground beef, sauteed onions, sour cream, lettuce, tomato and cheddar cheese wrapped in a large pepperoni pizza, totaling three pounds. This is Why You're Fat.
song chart memes
see more Funny Graphs
Buns of... hair? Don't Judge My Hair
OOOH! Him for president! Skull Swap
Skull Swap
Non Sequitur (Click the pic for readability)
funny pictures of dogs with captions
see more dog and puppy picturesOh WOW! That's my favorite kind! Criggo
The Daily What. This is even better than the movies.
Skull Swap
hamid karzai and barack obama
see more Political PicturesOne of those tragedies that stick with you forever... epic4chan
Starry, Starry Nom... The Daily What
There's an app for that. Twisted Physics. Also, there's a rep for that (from all over the place)
I really need to keep my calender up to date. Skull Swap
funny pictures of cats with captions
see more Lolcats and funny picturesProbably Bad News. I'd go If Mary was going to be there too.
Well, yeah, there's that... xkcd
funny pictures of cats with captions
see more Lolcats and funny pictures. Not so much funny as beautiful and puzzling... how did it get up there?
Where were you when nothing happened? The Daily What
Cyanide and Happiness
Noise to Signal
Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal
Mr. Beansus, from Skull Swap.