Saturday, January 2, 2010

Some Science News Tidbits

This one is actually kind of stunning to me. Via BBC,
Charles Weissmann, head of Scripps Florida's department of infectology who led the study, said: "On the face of it, you have exactly the same process of mutation and adaptive change in prions as you see in viruses.

"This means that this pattern of Darwinian evolution appears to be universally active.

"In viruses, mutation is linked to changes in nucleic acid sequence that leads to resistance.

"Now, this adaptability has moved one level down- to prions and protein folding - and it's clear that you do not need nucleic acid (DNA or RNA) for the process of evolution."
The modern synthesis of evolution rolls in the ideas of genetic inheritance (one of the gaping holes in Darwin's theory- which he recognized himself- was that no one had any idea how genetic information was transferred) and aspects of population biology to Darwin's framework. Viruses (which are problematic with respect to the question "are they alive?") still use either DNA or RNA to transit genetic information to "offspring." Now I'm pretty ignorant about molecular biology and organic chemistry, but it seems profoundly important to me that we've discovered a clearly non-living chemistry that can evolve. Granted, it can only do so (as do viruses) in the presence of and by parasitizing living organisms. Still, I have commented before that "life-as-we-don't-know-it" may well be very difficult to recognize. Understanding "protein evolution" might be a way to get insight into non-DNA/RNA inheritance.

As I understand prions, they are essentially abnormal protein molecules that act as catalysts to cause other similar proteins to fold into the abnormal prion form. These misfolded proteins are more stable than proteins in their normal, healthy state, which means that they can't "get better," i.e. return to their normal, less stable state on their own. Please feel free to correct any of my misconceptions or over simplifications; this is something I'm quite curious about.

Another interesting tidbit of trivia about today is that a couple of hours ago, Earth passed perihelion, our annual closest approach to the sun. The idea was also covered at Olelog earlier. It's faint comfort, I suppose, that all things being equal, today would be the brightest sunshine of the year.

Today's APOD is the (very) partial eclipse on New Year's Eve:
I think the thing that really appeals to me about this picture is that the thin haze of clouds is washed out in the direct light of the moon, but enhanced by scatter outside the disk itself. The result makes it look as if the clouds are behind the moon, rather than vice versa. The photo shows nearly the maximum of the eclipse, which was not visible from most of North America.

Note to all my younger, less experienced, readers: gasoline is flammable and smoking is bad for you. Yes, I smoke, but I know it's bad for me. And even before I started smoking, I knew that lighting up while siphoning gas would be a very unwise idea. He's lucky not to have won a Darwin Award. Speaking of which, Jazinator at Dino Jim's Musings, points out a rather gruesome winner of these uncoveted, but all too commonly awarded, failures: a man attempting to steal a gypsum crystal from Mexico's famed Cave of the Crystals was caught underneath one of the gypsum lathes when he broke it off. He wasn't crushed, but he was unable to get it off of himself. And cooked to death in the high temperature, 100% humidity of the cave. Yuck.

Finally, Anatoly N. Perminov, the head of Russia’s space agency, has voiced some rather confusing support for a mission to divert the asteroid Apophis from hitting the earth. At roughly three times the size of the hypothesized Tunguska impactor, this might well be a valid and important project to undertake. The problems are 1: he doesn't seem to know when it might hit. “I don’t remember exactly, but it seems to me it could hit the Earth by 2032.” According to the article in the NYT (one of many, many sources to report this),
In fact, Apophis’s chances of hitting Earth have been downgraded since it was discovered in 2004, NASA said this year. Scientists originally thought the orbit of the 1,000-foot-long asteroid gave it a 2.7 percent chance of hitting Earth on its first approach in 2029, but after studying its path they said it would remain 18,300 miles above the planet’s surface.

On a second approach, in 2036, it was originally given a 1-in-45,000 chance of hitting Earth, but the odds were reduced to 1 in 250,000. The odds of impact on its third approach, in 2068, are 1 in 333,000, NASA scientists say.
Problem 2 sort of takes us back to the Darwin Awards. What if it turns out that its current trajectory carries Apophis safely past earth for the next two or three orbits, but messing with it changes the trajectory to a collision course? My suspicion is that Perminov was not thinking real clearly, spoke out of turn, or off the cuff when he made the remarks that have been so widely quoted. A person would not have reached the position he's in by advancing such radical proposals in such an unclear manner. That's not to ridicule or derogate him; it is, in fact, to simply pretend I didn't read those quotes. The point is, if we can maintain our civilization for the foreseeable future, it is likely that we will, at some point, need to figure out how to divert an asteroid from impacting the earth. It might even be as soon as 2036 or 2068. The point is, we don't know right now, and each refinement of Apophis' orbit seems to reduce the chance of impact. I just don't believe he was thinking when he made his 2032 remark, and I don't believe we should take the remark seriously. I doubt that he was speaking for the Russian Government, and I doubt the rest of the world would be very happy about allowing such a project to happen without a whole lot of particulars that are simply not available yet.

Nature Adds Fireworks to New Year Display

Yesterday's Big Picture gallery was of New Year's Celebrations around the world. Above,
Fireworks light the sky in front of Mayon Volcano during New Year's celebrations in Legazpi city, Albay province, south of Manila January 1, 2010. Mayon Volcano, known for its near-perfect cone shape in the coconut-growing central Bicol region, has been spewing ash and burning mud and rocks for more than two weeks. (REUTERS/Romeo Ranoco)
According to a Bulletin from Philvolcs (Phillipine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology) posted at Eruptions,
The latest activity of Mayon still indicates that its overall state of unrest remains relatively high. However, this phase of unrest, characterized by moderate seismicity, high volcanic gas outputs and continuing glow of the summit are processes normally associated with very gradual return to the repose period. The volcanic system is expected to continue producing earthquakes and to vent a large amount of gases because fresh magma still resides along the whole length of the volcanic pipe and near the summit.
I'm sure it has been a damned nuisance- or worse- for those who have been forced to evacuate from areas in proximity to the mountain. Still, this isn't bad news; it suggests that the volcano may be returning to dormancy without a major eruption, and concomitant destruction of surrounding towns and agricultural land. Add in the show, and that's not such a bad outcome, is it?

Has Anyone Seen This Waterfall?

TYWKIWDBI found this waterfall picture at Pixdaus, without any location. It looks very much like Pacific Northwest to me in terms of the rocks (resolution is too poor to be very confident, but it looks like multiple thin basalt flows) and in terms of the trees (which look a lot like Douglas-firs). However, despite looking at a hundred or more pictures in various archives, I'm not finding anything that looks like a probable match. My first impression was Salt Creek Falls, but it doesn't have as prominent an overhang. I'm certain it's not in the Columbia Gorge or at Silver Creek Falls (landscape is wrong). This is clearly a large waterfall, but it's not familiar to me. Anyone else recognize this? It may not be in the PNW, it just looks to me like it might be.

Followup, Sunday, 01/03/10: There have been two suggestions so far. First, Snoqualmie Falls, near Snoqualmie, Washington. I had to do a double take on this one; it was one I had looked at fairly carefully before I put this post together. In the fourth comment, I discuss why I cautiously reject this as the same waterfall as the one above. (picture from Google Images)
I have also received a couple of emails from a person at, who seems confident it's Salt Creek Falls. (Also chosen to capture approximately the same aspect from Google Images) First, the edge of Salt Creek Falls is vertical for a distance, then juts out a bit, causing a step about a third of the way down. The unknown falls above the drop is vertical for a distance, then it recedes into the overhang. Second, the capstone of Salt Creek Falls is one thick intracanyon basalt flow- I've stopped at it a number of times on field trips. The unknown falls appears to be over multiple thin lava flows (though as noted before, the picture isn't high enough in resolution to be very certain of that). Below is another shot, from the e-mailer, with about the same aspect as above, but slightly lower flow. So as of now, I'm still calling this mystery unsolved.

Followup: And Heeeere's the Answer!

Sick Fun With Algebra

Math Is Hard
see more deMotivational Posters

Via Jonathon Scwharz at A Tiny Revolution, we have this...
...with the comment, "If you figure out how old the father and son are in this cartoon (found here), it actually shapeshifts from something depressingly unfunny to a small masterpiece of alarming creepiness." The link in the quote will take you to the source of the above, and the link above the comic will take you to the answer. I actually took a little bit of pleasure from dusting off my badly unused algebra skills and working this out for myself; it went quickly. Sad to say, this is the kind of problem I used to solve in my head in a few seconds. Now I have to write it all down to make sure I'm keeping everything straight. As for the first picture, I grew up with "New Math" and that sort of problem was what we were doing in first grade, albeit with an empty box in place of "X." So by the time I got to "actual" algebra in 9th grade, it seemed second nature.

Hint as to why the answer is sort of deliciously creepy: think Michael Douglas and his more recent progeny in 10-15 years.

Followup: As long as we're on the subject of stupid math tricks, today is international palindrome day, 01022010. Via Pygalgia (where I saw it first), among others.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Welcome to the Future

(Nedroid Comics) Of course, every moment you're alive is a "welcome to the future" moment, but it does seem a little more tangible on New Year's Day, doesn't it?

Weak connection, so probably not much to say today. I'll be able to get most of my reading done, though.

Thursday, December 31, 2009


Seconds left.

That's Sir Piccard to You

Stage and Star Trek actor Patrick Stewart has received a knighthood in the New Year Honours list for his services to drama.
BBC. Since I do think of Patrick Stewart in terms of "Star Trek: The Next Generation," "Dune," "Excalibur," and the X-Men series, I tend to forget that he is a very talented Shakespearean actor. I offer my congratulations, meaningless as they might be from someone who knows him from his portrayal of Gurney Halleck rather than Macbeth or Prospero.


I didn't really set out to put up my 1500th post on the last day of the year, but I realized a few weeks ago that given my rate of posting, that's about when it would fall. Tuesday, I didn't really find anything that engaged me- or at least that I could talk sensibly about. So it looked like 1500 would fall on the 2nd (Interzone is closed tomorrow, and I can't count on a good signal from home). Then yesterday I found all sorts of things to rant about and discuss, so here we are.
This past year has seen an enormous increase in visits; my non-rigorous skimming of the sitemeter stats suggests most of those are coming from Google's image search. But I have quite a number of followers, and I know quite a few others subscribe in RSS. I don't know how to get a tally of the latter, but the point is, there are a number of people who read my blog, but don't necessarily get counted.

It's sort of mind boggling to me that 4000 to 5000 people a month, maybe more, stop by this place to pay attention to me laughing and griping in roughly equal proportion.

I'm flattered and proud. Thanks folks, for making a cynical, morose old curmudgeon feel like he's a part of peoples' lives.

2009... Good Riddance

(Clay Bennett at Chattanooga Times Free Press) Lots of people are wishing each other a "Happy New Year," and I have no problem with that. In fact let me take this opportunity to wish you, dear reader, "Happy New Year!" But many other people are saying "It will be a better year; it couldn't get worse."

Wanna bet?

So I'm a cynic. Sue me.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009


Sam told me about this yesterday, saying it was "kinda funny, kinda sad." I finally remembered to track it down a few minutes ago, and yeah. It is. Both.

Maybe I'm a wuss, but stuff like this does make me cry. It's a little embarrassing, but only a little. And I'd hate to think I'm the kind of person who wouldn't shed a tear at a bird determined to fly if it was the last thing it did.

Dark Side, Dark Comedy

It hurts Luke's feelings when you laugh at him.


Number of seconds left in the year. (Go here and click "I'm Feeling Lucky" without entering any search terms)

Well How About That

Speaking of immersion courses in history, which I was just a few minutes ago in my previous post, The NYT's Afternoon Update just landed in my inbox:
In the fall of 2003, the new commander of American forces in Afghanistan, Lt. Gen. David W. Barno, decided on a new strategy. Known as counterinsurgency, the approach required coalition forces to work closely with Afghan leaders to stabilize entire regions, rather than simply attacking insurgent cells.

But there was a major drawback, a new unpublished Army history of the war concludes. Because the Pentagon insisted on maintaining a “small footprint” in Afghanistan and because Iraq was drawing away resources, General Barno commanded fewer than 20,000 troops.

As a result, battalions with 800 soldiers were trying to secure provinces the size of Vermont. “Coalition forces remained thinly spread across Afghanistan,” the historians write. “Much of the country remained vulnerable to enemy force increasingly willing to reassert their power."
Afghanistan really hurts. I felt then, and still do, that the invasion of that country was justified. I felt then, but no longer do, that we could really do some good for that country's people. Now our strategy seems to be "have Nintendo graduates based here in the US fly drones around and blow up weddings."

Doesn't seem to be working, but maybe it's just me.

THIS is the Way to Learn History

As a high school student, I didn't "get" history; it seemed largely irrelevant. I took some history classes as an undergrad, and found them much easier than I expected, and a bit interesting, but still largely irrelevant. As a grad student, I started to see, via history of science, how very relevant history really is to, well, pretty much everything. And of course, the last nine years have been a real-life immersion course in the importance of history. I still feel pretty ignorant of the subject generally, but at least I've learned to pay attention and learn what I can.

All that is a long-winded preface to pointing out a flash animation of the rise and fall of empires over the last 6000 years in the "middle east." I put the name in quotes, because the map animation zooms and pans to cover much of the Old World during its course. Very Cool! Hat Tip to blogger buddy Pygalgia.

Let's Review

Bush's Record for his first year:

January 2001:
In his memoir, "Against All Enemies", Clarke wrote that when he first briefed Rice on Al-Qaeda, in a January 2001 meeting, "her facial expression gave me the impression she had never heard the term before." He also stated that Rice made a decision that the position of National Coordinator for Counterterrorism should be downgraded. By demoting the office, the Administration sent a signal through the national security bureaucracy about the salience they assigned to terrorism. No longer would Clarke's memos go to the President; instead they had to pass though a chain of command of National Security Advisor Rice and her deputy Stephen Hadley, who bounced every one of them back.
If you haven't, you should read Against All Enemies. Clarke has, with some justification in my opinion, been criticized as being self-aggrandizing in this book, but that's beside the point. He paints a portrait of an administration obsessed with Iraq and the previous administration. If Clinton felt Al-Qaeda was a threat, then obviously it wasn't.

06 August 2001: George Bush is on vacation in Texas, and is given a briefing entitled "Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S." Bush is reported to have heard the briefer out, then responded, "All right. You've covered your ass, now."

03-04 September: George Bush ends his vacation and returns to Washington.

11 September 2001: 'Nuff said? Maybe not... here's Mary Matalin on CNN Sunday. Yes, three days ago:
"I was there [in the Bush White House]. We inherited a recession from President Clinton and we inherited the most tragic attack on our own soil in our nation's history. And President Bush dealt with it."
And here's Dana Perino a month ago:
Dana Perino's status as an almost member of Team Obama isn't keeping her from bashing the White House. Last night she told Fox News' Sean Hannity that she thought the President was playing politics by refusing to describe the massacre at Fort Hood as a terrorist attack. Perino then decided to get extra Fox News-y by mangling some facts when she said, "We did not have a terrorist attack on our country during President Bush's term."
Yeah. Right. Never Forget. Also too, by the way,
The NBER's Business Cycle Dating Committee has determined that a peak in business activity occurred in the U.S. economy in March 2001. A peak marks the end of an expansion and the beginning of a recession. The determination of a peak date in March is thus a determination that the expansion that began in March 1991 ended in March 2001 and a recession began.
18 September 2001: 80's Thrash Metal rears its ugly head.
The 2001 anthrax attacks in the United States, also known as Amerithrax from its Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) case name, occurred over the course of several weeks beginning on September 18, 2001. Letters containing anthrax spores were mailed to several news media offices and two Democratic U.S. Senators, killing five people and infecting 17 others. (A 2004 study however, has shown that the total number of harmed people should be raised to 68)
12 November 2001: AA Flight 587 crashes in Queens, New York. After being told over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over by NTSB representatives that there was no evidence of terrorist involvement, but that an investigation was underway, all the little newshounds dutifully report that this was probably another terrorist attack.

Lockwood quits watching TV news.

And the final outcome:
Nonetheless, terrorism was officially ruled out as the cause by the National Transportation Safety Board, which instead attributed the disaster to the first officer's overuse of rudder controls.
22 December 2001: Richard Reid (AKA Abdul Raheem and Tariq Raja) is overpowered by flight attendants and other passengers after attempting to detonate PETN explosives hidden in his shoes. He was screened on French soil and was traveling from Charles De Gaulle International Airport (Paris) to Miami International Airport.

Obama's record for his first year:

05 November, 2009: An Islamic Army psychiatrist kills 13 and wounds 30 others, at Fort Hood Texas. Hopefully, it will become clearer during the trial as to the degree of fanatic involvement in this act. It has been reported that
Hasan attended the Dar Al-Hijrah mosque in Falls Church, Virginia, in 2001, at the same time as Nawaf al-Hazmi and Hani Hanjour, two of the hijackers in the September 11 attacks. A law enforcement official said that the FBI will probably look into whether Hasan associated with the hijackers. A review of Hasan's computer and his multiple e-mail accounts has revealed visits to websites espousing radical Islamist ideas, a senior law enforcement official said.
Hasan is an American-born Muslim of Palestinian descent, who had on a number of occasions expressed radical beliefs, and had communicated by e-mail with Anwar al-Awlaki, but FBI terrorism task forces had determined him not to be a threat prior to the shooting.
As far as I'm concerned, the jury hasn't even been in yet, so it can't be out. This may be a terrorist action, or it may be the action of a single deranged man pushed over the edge. I don't know, but I'm willing to be convinced either way as the trial unfolds.

(In an attempt to be fair, I've looked over a number of articles to try to determine whether Obama received any briefings prior to Christmas regarding heightened terrorism concerns. I presume that major travel holidays are routinely treated as periods of heightened concern and that Obama is routinely filled in regarding those concerns and related procedures. But I find no clear indication that he was given any warning or indication of a particular risk.)

25 December 2009: Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab is overpowered by flight attendants and other passengers after attempting to detonate PETN explosives hidden in his underpants. He was screened on Dutch soil and was traveling from Amsterdam Airport Schiphol to Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport.

Clearly, the problem is that those danged dems just want to coddle the terrorists and ignore the danger. I mean, it's obvious to anybody who watches Fox News.
"They just don't get it," Rep. Peter Hoekstra (Mich.), the ranking Republican on the House intelligence committee, wrote in a fundraising letter for his gubernatorial campaign. "These are the same weak-kneed liberals who have recently tried to bring Guantanamo Bay terrorists right here to Michigan!"
Just like Bill Clinton, who personally trained all 'leventy-seven 9/11 terrists to fly jets, and the complete opposite of dubya, who kept us safe and free for every single day of his eight-year reign.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Well. That's a Deep Subject.

See in Glorious Hi-Fi! From xkcd, an elegant and powerful way of illustrating the difficulty of escaping from the gravity of a number of bodies in the solar system. As well as yo' mama. The labeled half circles are proportional to the diameter of each planet/moon, and the depth of the hole is proportional to the amount of energy in terms of change in velocity a spacecraft would have to achieve to completely escape the body. Note that spacing between the bodies in the above picture is not proportional to actual distances between orbits. Man, I love geeky humor! I suppose that illustrating the sun's gravity well would render all the detail of the above illustration invisible, but all the math is there to work it out.

Various Fragments of Geology News

Really? An SO2-H2S based cologne? Flickr image (larger, if you feel like you need it, at the link) via The Geology News Blog.

I've been sitting on this one for a while; if you make a habit of following science news, there's a good chance you've already seen it. But I have to say, the issue here is not so much fascinating science (though it is), but my initial reaction.

The mental image of a fanged turkey swooping out of a tree and biting me on the shoulder just cracks me up; even more so when I try to picture the turkey as a velociraptor. From The NYT (Came in RSS today, I think it'll be published tomorrow):
While the NYT article is current, this news has been popping up for about a week.
Nat. Geo. 12/21
BBC 12/21
The Guardian 12/21 (This article has a lovely photo of the prepped pair of jaws)
New York Daily News 12/22 (Wouldn't have to my attention but for two intermediaries: Matt at DinoGoss, who posted an amusing bit of snark on the incompetence of the author of the article in NYDN, and ReBecca, who put this post in her shared items, where I read it.)

The first four links all say pretty much the same thing, and it does sound like a great creature to add the dinosaur pantheon, but still... "OMG! That goddamned turkey just bit me!" Ah, Ha, Ha! We'll just cook it up for dinner. That'll learn'em.

Dave Hone, in his blog Archosaur Musings, offers some pointed insight into why professionally trained scientists have a jaundiced view towards pop media's (especially TV's) idea of "documentaries," and offers some comments on ways the producers of such shows could try to get it better. I heartily support the popularization of science, but it is frustrating and infuriating when they (again, television, I'm looking at you particularly) get simple things just plain wrong. The instance that probably led to the post is described by Dave here, but the problem is rampant and egregious; this is just one of the worst offenses.

As I was assembling this post and getting ready to move on to Mayon, Nat. Geo. posted a nice gallery of photos of current and recent activity at this Philippine volcano. As always, the most up-to-date and authoritative sources are the two volcano bloggers, Eruptions (here's today's Mayon Update, and the link to posts with the Mayon tag, which will pick up past and future posts on this volcano), and The Volcanism Blog, which I just realized has been on break since last week. The author says in his last post that he'll be back tomorrow, so again, this link will pick up future and past posts on this beautiful, but dangerous, peak.Above is an image from NASA's image of the day gallery (click the pic to double up, or follow the link for more info and other size formats), acquired on 12/15 and posted on 12/23. You can see a small plume of gas and ash drifting toward the WNW, but more important to note are the densely populated areas at the mountain's foot. This will be a case study in the difficulties of eruption forecasting. It was recognized early that the mountain posed a terrible danger, and roughly 50,000 nearby residents were evacuated. As time goes on without a major eruption, the evacuees are getting frustrated and returning to their homes... and idiotic tourists are trying to get in for that "once in a lifetime" photo op. Which could well end up with a "last of a lifetime" photo op.

Speaking of eruptions, an Oregon State University researcher was in the group that captured video footage of the deep sea eruption I mentioned a while back. I'm not terribly surprised; OSU has a world class College of Oceanography, and as you might guess, quite a number of skilled volcanologists. However, I find this interesting for a couple of reasons: first, as I mentioned before, I have seen quite a few outcrops of rock similar to that (texturally, not compositionally) created in this eruption, and it's a thrill to see that the eruption is quite similar to what I had envisioned. Second, this is, to me, so much more valid a reason to be proud of one's Alma Mater, than, oh, let's say, its football team. I always get a little bit of a boost in my self esteem from stories like this.

Followup, 12/29: Another lovely photo of Mayon in today's online edition of Der Spiegel.

TSA Slogans

TSA Slogans twitter, via The Daily What.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

'Tis the Season

For ice-skating Sauropods! Yay! I love this season! (Via Rebecca)

I Will Never Fly Again

Oh, sure, terrorists scare me to pieces. From Nate Silver, we have some stats showing how scared we should be:
Over the past decade, according to BTS, there have been 99,320,309 commercial airline departures that either originated or landed within the United States. Dividing by six, we get one terrorist incident per 16,553,385 departures.

These departures flew a collective 69,415,786,000 miles. That means there has been one terrorist incident per 11,569,297,667 mles flown. This distance is equivalent to 1,459,664 trips around the diameter of the Earth, 24,218 round trips to the Moon, or two round trips to Neptune.

Assuming an average airborne speed of 425 miles per hour, these airplanes were aloft for a total of 163,331,261 hours. Therefore, there has been one terrorist incident per 27,221,877 hours airborne. This can also be expressed as one incident per 1,134,245 days airborne, or one incident per 3,105 years airborne.

There were a total of 674 passengers, not counting crew or the terrorists themselves, on the flights on which these incidents occurred. By contrast, there have been 7,015,630,000 passenger enplanements over the past decade. Therefore, the odds of being on given departure which is the subject of a terrorist incident have been 1 in 10,408,947 over the past decade. By contrast, the odds of being struck by lightning in a given year are about 1 in 500,000. This means that you could board 20 flights per year and still be less likely to be the subject of an attempted terrorist attack than to be struck by lightning.
On the other hand, what are the odds that the insecure folks at Homeland Security are going to make you so miserable you wish you could explode just to spite them? I guess you can't have a probability higher than 100%, but they're working on it over there.
For the last hour of the flight, you now have to sit in your seat with your hands folded in your lap. No food, no computer, no nothing. And if you think you might have to use the bathroom, expect to be arrested and charged with failure to obey a cabin Nazi, or some other felony beef, so you might as well wear one of those homicidal-astronaut diapers.
This is gonna work real well with kids. And elderly. And many with health problems. I've read elsewhere that EB Misfit's "no nothing" includes books and magazines. As she points out in a later post,
The purpose of terrorism is to terrorize. So what has the Underwear Bomber managed to do?

Think of the sheer stupidity of "Sit In Your Seats With Your Laps Empty For the Last Hour of the Flight (Or the Air Marshal Will Shoot You in the Head)" rule. What is so magical about the last hour of the flight? Anyone who smuggled a bomb or an Insane Chemist Bomb-Making Kit(tm) on board could try to blow the thing up at any point of the flight. (Don't expect the DBP to figure that one out, by the way.)
All of this without doing much more than scorching the terrorist. I'd rate the attack as "very successful".
Yes, as Silver points out, flying has become such a dangerous, terrorism-vulnerable undertaking, that we should all just stay on the ground.

Fine. I'm there.

Followup, 3:50 PM: Oh, joy. Here's a big surprise.
Sen. Joseph Lieberman, an Independent who aligns with the Democrats, has promised hearings when Congress returns for its break.
(CS Monitor) I'm sure Traitor Joe is all over making sure people are safe and healthy. This isn't about him, nosirree.

If Cute Could Kill

I'd be dead now. Seriously.

Snagged from Jill at Brilliant at Breakfast.

Sunday Funnies

I doubt these will be the last funnies of the year, but they are the last Sunday Funnies of the last year of the miserable first decade of the new millennium. If I had had the foresight to be blogging ten years ago, I would have posted this picture to start the new year:
I need a button, four inches in diameter, with this picture. I'd wear it every single day. From Pygalgia

Strive for your dreams... via Epicponyz
It's such a relief when they play together nicely. Blackadder
Beautiful picture, hilarious caption... Darius Whiteplume's Tumblr
Darius Whiteplume's Tumblr
Epic Win
Oddly Specific
Nedroid Comics
Never would have guessed... Criggo
engrish funny tissue used
see more Engrish. No thanks. I'll go use your alley.
Best. Name. Evar! Epic Win
Oh, how can you be in four places at one, when you're not anywhere at all? Oddly Specific

Only the freshest ingredients for this fine young cannibal. I Hate My Parents
Probably Bad News
Oh, man, that would've been so cool! Partially Clips
Via The Daily What
Oddly Specific
Cyanide and Happiness
Amazing Super Powers
funny pictures of cats with captions
see more Lolcats and funny pictures
Epic Win
Epic Win
I think all sex toys should be labeled, "Keep away from children." Probably Bad News
Ugliest Tattoos... the most horrifying of three in a post that's pretty horrifying, titled "Eye Don't See the Problem Here." I'm officially satisfied with two, even if they sometimes don't work all that well.
Regretsy... with the caption (which is what cracked me up), "I hate it when I fall asleep with gum in my mouth."
funny graphs and charts
see more Funny Graphs
Skull Swap
I never thought a dish called "soybean paste pot stew" might be my first choice... Engrish Funny.
Probably Bad News... perhaps if you stay at home and hide in the closet, they won't find you. Their title to this was pretty funny too, FYI.
Cyanide and Happiness
Via Darius Whiteplume's Tumblr
From Ads of the World via The Daily What (Click the first link for the full-size picture: an absolutely awesome anaconda!)
Criggo- but was it the defendant or the litigant?
Probably Bad News... now I have to figure out where I can get refried dog food and refried cereal.
Engrish Funny(Epicponyz) Aaaannnd, one more Christmas picture to wind up this year's Sunday Funnies. Until next week and next year, I'll see you in the funnies. (Also, if you missed yesterday's bonus Christmas Funnies, there's the link)