Saturday, November 21, 2009


(copyright INGEOMINAS: full-size original image is here)

Last Friday, I posted a thermal image of some guy farting... it was sort of silly, as a commenter pointed out. He further added, "Nice to see technology being used to answer life's most important questions." The above is also an example of technology being used to answer life's most important questions. It's a thermal image of the earth farting. "Explosive eruption at Galeras," via The Volcanism Blog. Click over for more details on this ongoing eruption.

This Is NOT Parody

But it is HILARIOUS.

It's also a real trailer for a real full-length movie.

That is one diverse turnout... I counted at least six segments with Nate in them. And that narrator... America's Most Wanted? CSI: Huntington? The World's Craziest Police Chases? I dunno. I'm guessing this movie will have 5-minute commercial breaks every 10 minutes. The righties would be confused if it didn't.


Oingo Boingo: Gray Matter.

OK, I had never seen this video before; I love the song, but the video has not aged well. It alternately creeped me out and cracked me up. Roxy Music: Avalon.

Kate Bush: Cloudbusting.


I haven't felt inspired to say anything about the revelation that some of the accused 9/11 conspirators will face trial in NEW YORK CITY!!!??? (Get a rope!) Basically, if I tried to react thoughtfully to every issue that had caused the latest right wing cranial cataclysm, I would have time to do nothing else. So unless I'm interested, or feel that there is a valid, debatable concern, there are plenty of issues on this blogger's radar that are ultimately ignored.

However, McClatchy published this comic today, and it amused me:
I think part of the amusement is the bald truth herein; the US, for a "civilized" and "advanced" nation, puts a stunning number of convicts to death. It also imprisons, per capita (and perhaps in absolute numbers; I don't know), more people than any other country in the world.

Another part of the amusement is from the ambiguity... does this imply that the trials are merely for show? Or that other countries will think less of us when and if the conspirators are found guilty, the death penalty is applied and carried out? Or that we ourselves should be reluctant to apply the death penalty in this case?

With respect to the last question, I have discussed my attitude toward the death penalty at least a couple of times: in short, I'm dubious. But if there have ever been cases in which it was deserved in the US, those involved with the planning and execution of the events of 9/11 are at the top of the list. That said, yes, we should always be "reluctant" to impose state-sanctioned killing. I make myself do things I'm "reluctant" to do regularly. As does every other mature human being.

Particle Physics

Gives me a large hadron. Sorry for the gratuitous pun, for which I will take neither credit nor blame; it's been circulating widely for some time. The Big Picture has a great gallery of photos from the Large Hadron Collider. (Of course, all of their photo galleries are great, but some amaze me more than others.)
What struck me about these photos wasn't the amazing technology... I really have no idea what I'm looking at. I found myself woolgathering and reflecting on how weird we are, that we would put such an inconceivable amount of money into building such an inconceivably large structure... look for something so inconceivably small and inconceivably fleeting.

From The NYT:
Physicists returned to their future on Friday. About 10 p.m. outside Geneva, scientists at CERN, the European Center for Nuclear Research, succeeded in sending beams of protons clockwise around the 17-mile underground magnetic racetrack known as the Large Hadron Collider, the world’s biggest and most expensive physics experiment.

For physicists, the event was a milestone on the way back from disaster and the resumption of a 15-year, $9 billion quest to investigate laws and forces that prevailed when the universe was less than a trillionth of a second old.
For the sake of curiosity. Inconceivable.

Sometimes, though I hate to be forced to admit it, I'm inconceivably proud of humanity.

It's a Wiki, Wiki World

(via BuzzFeed) I adore protest bombers...

Friday, November 20, 2009

Bill, Gwen, and Sam Make the News

A Eugene TV station, KEZI, sent a crew up to Corvallis to interview small businesses about the rising costs of health care. Nothing that'll be new to anybody, it's just sort of cool to me that I was sitting there wondering what the hell was going on. The link will take you to a video clip that was filmed (in part) inside my favorite coffee shop.

So What We Do Is Go and Get Us an Asteroid

And blow it to pieces. It would be messy for a while, and random poofs would appear on Earth as pieces hit the ground. Yeah, some people would die, and it would basically put an end to the space program. But it would so totally be worth it, don't you think?

From here, via The Daily What

Thursday, November 19, 2009

How To...

I was using Google to find out how to do something in Gmail. As I finished "to," this was the list of top choices beginning with that phrase:Now I'm sure some of those queries are from couples that are having a difficult time conceiving, and some are just looking for lasciviousness. And I didn't click through to see what the results would be. I'd bet, though, that many of those clicking on that search honestly didn't know the answer.

My initial reaction was that that ranking was kind of funny. But if they don't know the answer, than they most certainly don't know how to avoid pregnancy. Or STD's.

And that's not the least bit funny.

A Note to Cranks

You may have noticed I simply delete your comments. That in and of itself is more time than you're worth.
large hadron collider
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Cats, Coffee and Carnivores on Crack

Here's a new comic I just came across: The Oatmeal. The strip I came in on is called "17 Things Worth Knowing About Your Cat." BTW, the first picture may look familiar; it's the same kitteh that was in the "Is Your Cat Plotting to Kill You?" quiz that went viral a year ago, though I'm not seeing that quiz on The Oatmeal's Quiz Page.The next one I read was "15 Things Worth Knowing About Coffee."
And here's one more from: "7 Reasons to Keep Your Tyrannosaurus Rex Off Crack Cocaine."I can't vouch for the accuracy of the comics that appear to be factual- they may or may not be. But I guarantee that a coked-up T. rex would not, in fact, be able to sit through a long movie.

What I Think

Context here.

Mad as Hell

I haven't picked up a copy of Mad magazine in many years. I loved it when I was young, but sort of lost interest during college. That said, their "20 Stupidest People" issue, which was supposed to hit the stands Tuesday, looks terrific. Coming in at 18th place (18th? srsly?) is Sarah Palin. Hot on the heels of the Newsweek scandal, rampant sexism raises its ugly head again. Comics Alliance posted this picture more than a week ago: (click for fool size)
Michael Jackson is ranked first. Now I think he was crazy, and the style of music for which is famous isn't my cup of tea, but in the stupid department, Palin so outclasses him that I have to wonder about Mad's ranking system. But I do love the picture, again via Comics Alliance. I'm betting you can figure out how to see this in glorious full-size.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Odd Construction

I always notice when I read the (what seems to me) British construction, "don't lets." The most immediate example is "My message to the news media: We are under enough fire as it is. Don't let's make our job even harder by giving Palin and her millions of supporters a legitimate grievance."

No particular reason to notice this, and I'm not saying this in a manner meant to be negative. It's just not a word pair I see often, and while its meaning is clear, it strikes me as odd.

For some reason, though, I had never really thought through the meaning of the dual contraction: "Do not let us." That phrase strikes me as very elegant. Funny. They're really the exact same thing, but the one strikes me as notably odd; the other as notably well-said.

How very British.

BTW, I stand by my earlier statement that if Palin wants to use her body image as a publicity and political tool in her favor, then it's no sin for others to use it against her. Same with her family, same with her Xrazy Xristian morals. If you're going to put some aspect of your existence on the table as an argument in your favor, others should have the right to disuss that aspect. And puh-leeze don't try to tell me that her physical appearance wasn't and isn't a major aspect of her self-promotion. Don't ask Rich "Starburst" Lowry, either.

On the sexism hubbub, though, it looks like I'm on the losing side. I understand and respect the arguments being laid out by writers such as the one linked at the top, I just disagree that this particular instance can be called sexism, while ones like Lowry's aren't called out in the mainstream press in a similar manner. Yeah, even at age fifty, I still get "starbursts" when confronted by a fabulous babe whether in the media or in real life. That doesn't mean I have an overpowering urge to boink her. And it certainly doesn't mean that she's qualified to be VP.

Fire Over the West

No, the season for forest fires is over... very much over.
GARIBALDI -- The first in a series of strong storms tore off rooftops, downed trees and sent several coastal rivers to or near flood stage late Monday and early Tuesday. Forecasters expect three more storms to arrive in rapid succession today, Thursday and Friday.

Monday's storm blasted the northern Oregon coast with 85- to 95-mph wind gusts. At the aptly named Cape Foulweather, a peak gust of 95 mph shrieked through the trees at 5:15 p.m. Waldport also clocked in with a 95 mph wind gust, and Clatsop Spit recorded a wind gust of 84 mph.
However, the cosmos has very different weather, which is, for the most part, indifferent to our seasons.
FIREBALLS AND METEORS: As forecasters predicted, the Leonid meteor shower peaked during the late hours of Nov. 17th, favoring sky watchers in Asia with an outburst of 100+ meteors per hour. Just as the outburst was dying down, an even bigger event took place over the western USA. Something hit Earth's atmosphere and exploded with an energy equivalent of 0.5 to 1 kiloton of TNT. Witnesses in Colorado, Utah, Idaho and elsewhere say the fireball "turned night into day" and "shook the ground" when it exploded just after midnight Mountain Standard Time. Researchers who are analyzing infrasound recordings of the blast say the fireball was not a Leonid. It was probably a small asteroid, now scattered in fragments across the countryside. Efforts are underway to measure the trajectory of the asteroid and guide meteorite recovery efforts.

Please visit for images and updates.
The link in the piece is to SpaceWeather's front page. The archival link to this piece is here, with further links to some cool pics of the electric blue morning clouds resulting from the vapor cloud caused by the detonation, and also some video clips.

Because of the proliferation of automatic and hand-held electronic cameras, there is now a better ability than ever to get accurate data on the trajectory of meteorites like this. The leads to a more refined search for fragments that might have reached the earth. Since some meteorites are very unusual looking, while others more closely resemble common rocks- at least to the untrained eye- there is a natural bias to oversample (find and collect) the unusual varieties, for example, nickle-iron and stony iron meteorites. Recovery of samples from documented falls, therefore, are of great interest to people who study these rocks from space: they give scientists a better statistical representation of what's out there. Which in turn gives us a better understanding of the composition of this big rock we live on.

Texas Eliminates Gay ALL Marriage


The amendment, approved by the Texas Legislature and overwhelmingly ratified by Texas voters, declares that "marriage in this state shall consist only of the union of one man and one woman." But the trouble-making phrase, as Radnofsky sees it, is Subsection B, which declares:

"This state or a political subdivision of this state may not create or recognize any legal status identical or similar to marriage."

Architects of the amendment included the clause to ban same-sex civil unions and domestic partnerships.

But Radnofsky, who was a member of the powerhouse Vinson & Elkins law firm in Houston for 27 years until retiring in 2006, says the wording of Subsection B effectively "eliminates marriage in Texas," including common-law marriages.

In fairness, a Republican claims,

"It's a silly argument," said Kelly Shackelford, president of the Liberty Legal Institute in Plano. Any lawsuit based on the wording of Subsection B, he said, would have "about one chance in a trillion" of being successful.
I don't know anything about law I don't have to know. I try to follow laws. However, all the furor over teh gayz hitchin' up, and doing their dirty things in teh bedroom, was almost certain to lead to this. When you start taking away rights of a specific group, it's pretty hard to draw sharp, clear lines regarding who is and isn't a member of the group whose rights you're taking away.

Way to go, Texas. You just settled the question: take away everyone's right to marriage.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

December Named National Awareness Month

WASHINGTON—In an effort to combat what organizers are calling "our current epidemic of complete and utter obliviousness," the American Foundation for Paying Attention to Things has declared December "National Awareness Month."
The Onion, of course. Often, I get most of the humor from The Onion's headlines, and the article becomes tedious, milking the joke for more than it's worth. Occasionally, the article just gets funnier; I'm pleased to report the latter is the case in this example.
"Lack of coherent thought is usually a sign of being unaware, as is a fleeting attention span, and forgetting what this particular sentence pertains to midway through reading it," said Dr. Howard Sturges, who has treated several hundred cases of acute obliviousness. "If you suspect you have such a disorder, please contact a health professional immediately, or, as you likely know him, the man in the white lab coat with the shiny thing around his neck who has that office with all the chairs and patients inside of it."

Black Like Me

That's the best explanation I can come up with to explain why this kitty is so profoundly in love with this policeman. The policeman doesn't exactly reciprocate, but he is very, very patient. My compliments go out to this guy: I wish more cops were like you.

Reaping What You Sow

Sarah doesn't seem to get it. She's now whining about the fact that Newsweek is using a photo she posed for, in a series in Runner's World that I have linked to a couple of times, on its cover. The link is to the photo below, the last in a series of seven. Not one of the photos actually shows her running; every one is a cheesecake, pageant, or model-like pose, with the exception, perhaps, of her pose with li'l Tater Palin, and his magical mystery stroller.Sexist? I voted "no" on the Huffpo poll, but I don't think it's really a yes-no situation; it's more of a continuum that we'd like to have a stark yes-no answer. In this case, Palin has clearly been promoting this MILF image. I have no sympathy that it's come back to bite her.

There are other issues with this cover that are more pressing. How does Palin explain the careless manner with which she uses the US Flag- a symbol that she and many who admire her view as no less sacred than the cross is to Christianity- as an arm rest, carelessly draped over the back of a chair? What is that device in her left hand, and why is she holding it so awkwardly? Does she ever actually run, or does she just pose?

And finally, if she wanted to complain about this cover, the substance, it seems to me, would be much more offensive than the imagery. "She's bad news for the GOP-- and everyone else, too." My guess on that is, first, it was too much for her to read in one sitting, and second, in the end she's all about image, and couldn't care less about substance. Just like dubya.

Followup: This is today's editorial comic from McClatchy.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Fade to Gray

funny pictures of cats with captions
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Leonard Pitts has thought provoking column today, in which he reflects on his indifference to the recent execution of the DC sniper, juxtaposed with his extreme opposition to the death penalty, yet support of the right of women to have abortions. While he reaches no firm conclusions, he meanders his way to the following conclusion, which I quite like:
From our trenches of fixed opinion, we thunder at one another so readily that it is disconcerting when you are forced to wander the gray places between, to acknowledge complexities our certainties don’t always allow us to see. It can give you pause.

I submit that’s not the worst thing in the world.
I disagree with the sentiment that "consistency is the hobgoblin of small minds," as Emerson is often misquoted, but the original wording is pretty close to my position. Consistency should be something to which we aspire. Yet as with my half-joking goal (how Freudian is it that I just misspelled that as "gaol") in life, to understand everything, the fact that we are finite and imperfect means that it will always and only be an aspiration. I submit that's not the worst thing in the world.

Go For the Gold

If you're determined to look horrifying and socially repugnant......go for the gold. (Skull Swap)

Meteor Shower, Rain Storm

A number of sources have been pointing out that the annual Leonid meteor shower is supposed to peak tonight... well, technically tomorrow morning. Bad Astronomy has a brief description and links to some nice resources on meteor-watching. National Geographic also has a nice little piece, saying, in part,
When a comet gets close to the sun, melting ice releases pieces of dust, most no larger than grains of sand. Earth annually crosses paths with the orbiting debris from some comets, and the grains burning up in our atmosphere create meteors.
That's mostly accurate, but the ice doesn't melt, it sublimates (transforms directly from solid to gas). The interesting thing to keep in mind is that most of the meteors one observes are sand-grain sized or smaller. I've read a couple of times that the amount of energy released when one of those grains collides with our atmosphere is approximately equal to a stick of dynamite- a consequence of their enormous velocity with respect to the earth. Since the grains vaporize at an elevation of about 60 miles (100 km), it's like seeing a flashbulb going off 60 miles away or more- that's a lot of energy.

Both of those pieces agree that with decent conditions, observers in the US might see about 30 meteors per hour... observers in Asia, where it will be night time during the peak, may see as many as 300 per hour.

However, note the qualifier, "decent conditions."
Oregon Live sez, "Strong storm could produce 90 mph wind gusts at coast tonight." I won't be participating in meteor watching. As I've mentioned before, storms like these wallop the coast much harder than here 50 miles inland, but we still get some pretty stiff rain and wind.

So even if I can't watch the meteor shower, I can listen to the rain storm. It's all good.

Followup: Oops, forgot I had set this aside to include with this post. New Scientist has an interesting gallery of satellite failures believed to be due to meteor (ite?) impact. A meteorite is the name given to a space rock that has impacted the ground; I'm not sure if impacting something from the ground counts.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Sunday Funnies

Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal
Noise to Signal
Luke Surl- For fun and Prophet
funny pictures of dogs with captions
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Abstruse Goose
Savage Chickens
funny pictures of cats with captions
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For Justin. Blackadder
Darius Whiteplume's Tumblr
Darius Whiteplume's Tumblr
"Congressman Boehner's Terror Alert Skin Set Back To Orange" The Onion
Stephen King, eat your heart out. Picture is Unrelated
Skull Swap
Partially Clips
funny pictures of cats with captions
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Darius Whiteplume's Tumblr
Darius Whiteplume's Tumblr
funny pictures of cats with captions
see more Lolcats and funny pictures. Finally, a funny Garfield... and criminey, that's one ginormous cat.
Two Thousand and Pun- Luke Surl
Milk and Ultraviolence- My First Fail
As with so many of these themed humor sites, what doubles the funny is the acerbic commentary of the author: Helen Killer's comment here is, "This looks like somebody turned a cat inside out and put it on their head."
Darius Whiteplume's Tumblr
Chocolate-covered potato chips... This is Why You're Fat.
Probably Bad News
Amazing Superpowers (Click for embiggenment)
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Criggo... I had reservations about this one; there are lines I prefer not to cross. However, the obliviousness of this ad justifies an exception. I'm just sorry it's "Live Lobsters" in the lower left rather than "Live Crabs."
Clay Bennett
For those old enough to get the reference, the word that popped into my head upon seeing this was "Habitorso." From TYWKIWDBI.
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Darth Vader goes out for recess. Picture is Unrelated

Via everywhere, but this particular one showed up at The Daily What. This is the followup showing the technique that Ninja Cat uses to stalk peeking victims.
Ugliest Tattoos
Oddee's Worst Birthday Cakes Ever. This one looks photoshopped, and is thus the least horrifying of the collection.
barack obama
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Via BuzzFeed
amy winehouse
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Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal
The bottle of gold at the end of the rainbow... from Skull Swap
epic fail pictures
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Yeah, I just got distracted by my need to pee and committed an act of premature publication. Sorry for the confusion. Failblog
funny pictures of cats with captions
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ian mckellen and elijah wood
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Skull Swap
Skull Swap
funny pictures of dogs with captions
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The Toot
From Etsy dealer LastFuse... sold out yesterday, but perhaps more are in the pipe.