Saturday, December 13, 2008

Just when you thought it was safe(r) to go in the water...

Prepaqre for the invasion of the jellyfish. That's the result of a National Science Foundation study, which reveals massive swarms of jellyfish are appearing in oceans worldwide in apparently unprecedented numbers.

I don't know about you, dear reader(s), but jellyfish scare the crap out of me. They're just...weird. They're goopy, tentacle-y, and they don't even have brains!!! How can we compete with such a beast???

I remember summers on the beach at Port Aransas as a kid, having to dodge beached jellyfish and Portuguese men-o-war (which also contributed, I'm sure, to a lifelong fear of Lusophones.)



Incidentally, having spent all of my childhood beachgoing at Port A and Corpus Christi, Texas, I was in my early teens before I learned that it is not normal, after a day at the beach, to sit in the tub and clean tar off of yourself. Thank you, offshore driliing industry!

Back to the jellyfish, though...if we're already having problems with depleted fisheries, melting glaciers, and oceanic "dead zones," the thought of angry swarms of jellyfish in coastal areas is, well, troublesome. I will be spending all of my vacations in mountainous inland areas from now on.

Portugese Man o' War pic from Wikimedia Commons

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Tattoos hit the political mainstream, finally, sort of

After years of hard-fought, oft-thankless struggle, a tattooed she-devil may finally have a shot at the United States Senate.

Okay, that's a gross exaggeration, actually. It would appear that Caroline Kennedy has a tiny, partially-removed butterfly tat on her left arm that, now that she's pondering a Senate run, is making a few waves here and there.

Could this be the defining moment for body art on the body politic? Perhaps. It's much more likely that the Mainstream Media just didn't have very much to do today. Still, I have been pondering for some time where all of this is leading--those of you who don't live in Austin in the summer months may not be used to the sight of more tribal patterns than a New Guinea jungle (was that racist? Maybe a little--I was just going for a "tribal" analogy. Apologies to all Melanesians who might take offense.) Will the bulk of my generation of Austinites eventually come to regret their dragonscale sleeve tats? For my part, I think the HR directors of the future will have little to no cause to bemoan others' ink, as they will no doubt be (at least partially) concealing old tramp stamps from their wild college days.

I leave it to history to decide.

And anyway, Ms. Kennedy has a tiny butterfly, big whoop.

Still here...

I know it's been quite a while since last I posted, so I figured I owe it to my reader(s) to account for my absence. It's quite simple: there's been so much crap going on in the world, I got overwhelmed by all the idiocy and collapsed into a quivering heap, unable to speak, walk, eat, or blog. Finally, a friendly passerby found me and shook me out of my stupidity-induced stupor.

Also, I've been really busy with work. But I promise that my irreverent/irrelevant rants on culture, politics, and hotties will continue once more. Stay tuned, dear reader(s).

Monday, September 8, 2008

Friday, September 5, 2008

It's good to be the king

I can't say I agree with or approve of the practice going on here, but I am astonished to see this headline in 2008:

Bare-breasted virgins compete for Swaziland king

By Phakamisa Ndzamela

LUDZIDZINI ROYAL VILLAGE, Swaziland (Reuters) - Tens of thousands of bare-breasted virgins competed for Swaziland King Mswati III's eye on Monday in a traditional Reed Dance.

Walking through the dense crowds in a leopard skin loin cloth, Sub-Saharan Africa's last absolute monarch was expected to choose his 14th wife.

Critics say Mswati, who has courted controversy for his lavish lifestyle while two thirds of his subjects live in poverty, sets a bad example by encouraging polygamy and teenage sex in a country where about 40 percent of adults live with HIV.

Some of the women did not seem to mind, hoping to escape from the southern African nation's hardships for the easy life.

"I came here to dance. I wish the king would have chosen me because it's nice at the king's place. The wives live a nice life," said Tenene Dlamini, 16, in a traditional brown skirt.

"Everything is done for them. They don't work. They earn."
Wow. Just wow. Read more about this guy here.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Why I'm sad the Olympics are over

No more Blanka Vlasic for the time being :(



I'll also miss moments like this:



Yeah, I'm a scumbag. I never claimed otherwise.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

A political ad for the ages

I haven't posted in a while, dear reader(s), for any number of reasons, but I'd like to think that I'm back in the game. Of course, the easiest way to blog is to embed someone else's content and say something about it, so here is the nation's political discourse heightened by Paris Hilton.

Say it again and again, and it still sounds weird.

See more Paris Hilton videos at Funny or Die


Honestly, the biggest flaw in her plan is that Rihanna couldn't be her vice president, because she was born in Barbados. This may prove to be the strongest argument for amending Article II, Section 1 of the Constitution (sorry, Arnold.)

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Wordle me this

Nifty new website (h/t AB) that will arrange popular words from your blog into pretty pictures.



I didn't realize I used the word "racist" that much. Hmm.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Politically-correct Follies, UK-style

The British government has launched an effort to stamp out racism and prejudice at the earliest possible age, including infancy. One heretofore-unnoticed sign of nascent racism? Disliking spicy foreign food:
The National Children's Bureau, which receives £12 million a year, mainly from Government funded organisations, has issued guidance to play leaders and nursery teachers advising them to be alert for racist incidents among youngsters in their care.

This could include a child of as young as three who says "yuk" in response to being served unfamiliar foreign food.

The guidance by the NCB is designed to draw attention to potentially-racist attitudes in youngsters from a young age.

It alerts playgroup leaders that even babies can not be ignored in the drive to root out prejudice as they can "recognise different people in their lives".

The 366-page guide for staff in charge of pre-school children, called Young Children and Racial Justice, warns: "Racist incidents among children in early years settings tend to be around name-calling, casual thoughtless comments and peer group relationships."

It advises nursery teachers to be on the alert for childish abuse such as: "blackie", "Pakis", "those people" or "they smell".

The guide goes on to warn that children might also "react negatively to a culinary tradition other than their own by saying 'yuk'".

Staff are told: "No racist incident should be ignored. When there is a clear racist incident, it is necessary to be specific in condemning the action."

Warning that failing to pick children up on their racist attitudes could instil prejudice, the NCB adds that if children "reveal negative attitudes, the lack of censure may indicate to the child that there is nothing unacceptable about such attitudes".

Nurseries are encouraged to report as many incidents as possible to their local council. The guide added: "Some people think that if a large number of racist incidents are reported, this will reflect badly on the institution. In fact, the opposite is the case."
I have no idea what sort of power these "local councils" have in the UK, but it certainly sounds ominous. I can hardly fault a program to discourage youngsters from using actual racist epithets, but I have to wonder how it could have taken 366 pages to address this issue. Allow me to list my first few reactions:

1. WTF????
2. If school teachers discourage something, don't they run the risk of kids thinking it's cool? Racism may become the new Sex Pistols for young Britons.
3. Compared to standard British fare, nearly all foreign food is spicy, and is likely to be a shock to the palate of anyone raised on fish & chips. Don't fault little Nigel for reeling at a flavor explosion.
4. A lot of foreign food is just plain gross if you didn't grow up with it--e.g. kim chee (fermented cabbage, Korea) and hákarl (rotten shark meat, Iceland).
5. Hopefully they will include "limey" in the list of slurs to be discouraged--mostly just because we need something to ruffle the feathers of ordinary pasty Brits. Oh, and because sensitivity to racism is a mutli-directional street.

At the very least, I'm sure we can all agree that the British government seems to have too much time on its hands.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Friday, July 4, 2008

Greatest. Summer movie idea. Ever.



90 minutes of this would be so much better than most anythingt Hollywood has to offer:



Throw in some ballet-dancing cyborg action, and you may just have the perfect movie:

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Bald people kick alien/fascist ass

io9 has a bit on the most bad-ass bald people in scifi. I have to give props to Captain Picard for ultimate bad-assedness...



...but it was Captain Sisko who perfected the bald/goatee bad-ass look...



...and really, this is all just giving me naughty thoughts about Evey Hammond and Ellen Ripley...



...this is the wrong blog environment to go into those thoughts, though...

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Tunguska and the LHC - coincidence or not?

I didn't see the connection at first, but it's so clear...just staring me in the face...

  • June 30, 1908: The Tunguska Event. A multi-megaton explosion over an uninhabited area of Siberia.
  • August 2008: The first operation of the Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland, which may very well have the capacity to destroy the world...
Isn't it obvious??? The LHC, once it is switched on, will open a temporal vortex, jumping over 100 years (it was off by a little over a month, but temporal vortices are imprecise that way) and creating a massive explosion a few thousand miles away (again with the imprecision). There is, quite simply, no other possible explanation. How could this be a coincidence??? HOW?????????????????????????????????????

Unless, of course, it's just a coincidence.

Gosh, two days into my stay-at-home vacation, and I'm going seriously batty.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Happy Tunguska Day!!!

Speaking of destroying the world, today is the 100th anniversary of the meteor/comet/Cylon basestar impact over Tunguska, Siberia.



Bad Astronomy has all the gory details:
100 years ago today, a small chunk of rock or possibly ice was lazily making its way across the inner solar system when a large, blue-green planet got in its way. Traveling roughly westward, it entered the Earth’s atmosphere moving at tens of thousands kilometers per hour. Compressed and battered by tremendous forces, the object got about 5 - 10 kilometers from the ground before it succumbed, exploding like a gigantic multi-megaton bomb.

The air blast flattened trees for hundreds of square kilometers. The ground shook, witnesses felt the hellish heat from kilometers away, and the shock wave circled the world. It happened over the remote Podkammenaya Tungus river, a swampy region in Russia; had it happened over Moscow a million people might have died within minutes.

Now known as the Tunguska Event, it stands today as a shocking reminder that we live in a cosmic shooting gallery, and the Earth sits in the crosshairs of many objects.
I'm not too worried about impacts from outer space objects. Hopefully we'd see it coming, and if there's anything we could do about it, we would (one hopes). My concern is what would happen if something like Tunguska happened today and it wasn't terribly destructive, because it would probably be followed shortly by someone's nuclear arsenal, and then there would be terrible destruction. Overreaction, I'm sayin'. Imagine, if you will, that today was the 50th anniversary of Tunguska, not the 100th. That would mean that, on June 30, 1958, a massive fireball of uncertain origin erupted over Siberia. We know now that the Soviets didn't have as much atomic annihilation capacity as was once feared (although it was and is pretty f--in' scary), but they also had a highly flawed decision-making structure. It would at least make for some interesting alternate history.

Beer and LEGO

The Beer Song, as performed by LEGO figures that look a little like a cross between hobbits and the Village People:

You never know where you might find useful info

A combination of being on vacation (at home), being bored, and enjoying learning led to me to random Wikipedia pages on European history. That, in turn, led me to an interesting series of maps of Europe (yes, I'm a nerd; and no, you cannot give me a wedgie). What makes this notable is that, in addition to obviously-educationally-relevant maps showing language and religion and such, they also present these nuggets of wisdom: Legal status of cannabis in Europe, and Ages of sexual consent in Europe. I tried hotlinking the maps, but to no avail (the page won't even let you right-click). More to the point, alongside maps showing population density and the like, you have a map showing where it's legal to get baked and/or find a woman to go with your whiskey.

I think I saw all of this on a t-shirt once.

Point is, if anyone ever tells you they're going to Europe based on information they got from a map on Eupedia, you might seriously consider punching that person in the groin very, very hard.

It's boycottin' time!!! Or not...Support local business!!!

An Austin musician has called for a boycott of local watering hole/substitute office space Austin Java, over something to do with trees and high-rise condos.

I only have two thoughts on this:
1. Austin has lots of trees. High-rise condos, by their basic nature, do not.
2. Doesn't Austin have enough high-rise condos already? Who the hell is buying these places?

I should note that, as I write this, I am sitting at Austin Java. They have hella-good cheesecake. Everyone should eat here. But don't hang out her too much--it's hard enough to get a table near a plug for my laptop as it is.

The end is nigh...???

Two new polls ask the internetting public to evaluate whether the soon-to-go-online Large Hadron Collider is worth the risk of global annihilation that it poses. Actually, as PZ Myers points out, the polls ask the following: "Is the gaint[sic] particle smasher worth the risk?" and "Which do you think is more likely to destroy the world? Human actions or natural disaster?"

I'm hardly any expert on the LHC, but I have watched a lot of SciFi Saturday movies, so I feel that I am more qualified to bloviate on this issue than your average tenured nuclear physicist. And this thing is BIG. Which means it must be powerful in ways we simply cannot understand.
The most powerful atom-smasher ever built could make some bizarre discoveries, such as invisible matter or extra dimensions in space, after it is switched on in August.

But some critics fear the Large Hadron Collider could exceed physicists' wildest conjectures: Will it spawn a black hole that could swallow Earth? Or spit out particles that could turn the planet into a hot dead clump?

Ridiculous, say scientists at the European Organization for Nuclear Research, known by its French initials CERN - some of whom have been working for a generation on the $5.8 billion collider, or LHC.

"Obviously, the world will not end when the LHC switches on," said project leader Lyn Evans.

David Francis, a physicist on the collider's huge ATLAS particle detector, smiled when asked whether he worried about black holes and hypothetical killer particles known as strangelets.

"If I thought that this was going to happen, I would be well away from here," he said.

The collider basically consists of a ring of supercooled magnets 17 miles in circumference attached to huge barrel-shaped detectors. The ring, which straddles the French and Swiss border, is buried 330 feet underground.
Damn Swiss. My biggest fear? Those pesky "particles that could turn the planet into a hot dead clump." They really do exist, even if Big Science won't admit the genius of my research. I call them torchyons in honor of the Human Torch from the Fantastic Four, who once rescued me from falling through broken ice.

But enough about that. What does it mean, really, to "destroy the world"? Does the whole not-quite-spherical thing have to blow up, as shown by the classic and infallible astrophysics documentary Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope? Is it enough for all sentient life to be eradicated? All life period? What about pikas? They're cute, so I'd rather keep them around. If the LHC has any chance of killing pikas, let's preemptively bomb Switzerland. Anyway, here's a handy guide to destroying the earth (h/t MrQhuest, whoever you are). I have my doubts that it can be accomplished solely through subatomic particles (unless they come from subspace and are enhanced with trilithium, of course.)

I recall a book by David Brin called Earth (it must have been nonfiction, of course) about a black hole being mistakenly unleashed from a lab in New Zealand (damn Kiwis), and there was also something about nuking Switzerland--gosh, it's like reading a newspaper. It was a pretty good book.

I think I've gotten it all out of my system. I shall now invoke a corollary of Poe's Law and reassure my reader(s) that I am generally being sarcastic. I think critics of the LHC are just jealous that they don't have one as big (damn Swiss).

Still, I'd look out for any rogue gaint particles after August.

And even if the earth is destroyed, it will always exist as long as we remember it.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

The chances of '70s disco coming from Mars...

Bad Astronomy Blog has a reminder of the awesomeness that is The War of the Worlds. The very first commenter to his post referenced the 1978 concept album, and another showed us where to find an addictive montage of '70s cheese and fake UFO pics:


The chances of anything coming from Mars - The best video clips are right here

You have to wait until about 6 minutes into the video to get to the hook: Once Richard Burton gets a break from narrating, Ogilvy the Astronomer gets a tenor solo (courtesy of Justin Hayward) about his opinion of the chances of life on Mars. My dad own(s)(ed) this opus on vinyl LP, and I recall many a weekend marveling at the artwork and not realizing how cheesy it all was. (True confession: I bought the CD's on sale at Waterloo in 2002.) I dare you to listen to the whole thing, though. It's catchy.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Don't work late

I have been terribly busy of late, which explains my absence from blogging for the past three weeks. I'm sure this has caused much dismay for my reader(s).

There are many matters on which I could opine, but for now here is a totally fake but effectively creepy video from Singapore depicting an "elevator ghost":



I was expecting it to be a trick of light or something. Turns out it's just viral marketing. There's a video explaining how they did it (SPOILER: It's computer editing), but it's not in English (possibly Singlish--I'm not too familiar with the languages of Singapore).

To get an idea of how effective something like this can be amongst the public, check this out:

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Has it been worth it?

I wonder:
Thomas Insel — director of the National Institute of Mental Health and the U.S. government’s top psychiatric researcher — said today that “the number of suicides among veterans of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan may exceed the combat death toll because of inadequate mental health care.”
(h/t ThinkProgress)

Friday, May 2, 2008

Does anyone else think...

...that this whole Miley Cyrus topless thing is some sort of publicity stunt? I mean, she's supposedly shocked, shocked and appalled at photographs for which she posed, probably for hours, but now she's all over the headlines. I for one, was only vaguely aware of media personalities by the names Miley Cyrus and Hannah Montana, but I didn't realize until this week they were the same person (or that Billy Ray Cyrus had procreated). But really, this is waaay more interesting than, say, the ongoing Iraq war, the reconsituted al-Qaeda force in Pakistan, or Russia and Georgia's brewing war in Abkhazia. Just to name a few yawners.

It's called a fact-checking department, folks

Fox News, in covering Clinton's proposal that she and Obama throw down some old-school Lincoln-Douglas debates (h/t Pandagon), ran this graphic:



Stephen Douglas...Frederick Douglass...what's the diff, really?

And civilization sinks a little further. Enjoy the ride.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

The God-stick and the shame-cave

The Daily Show tackles the failings of abstinence-only sex education with far more delicacy and panache than I could hope to muster, so I'll leave it to them:



I especially like the Tennessee Republican who doubts that experts, with research experience in the field of sex education, somehow know better than parents. No parody required.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Death by a thousand cuts

I wasn't planning on saying much about the Josef Fritzl matter just yet, but my blood's up and I only have a few thoughts to share about this diaper stain.
Prosecutors have said Mr Fritzl faces up to 15 years in prison if he is eventually convicted on charges of raping and beating his daughter, and sequestration.
Fifteen years. That's nine fewer than his daughter spent in that subterranean prison. There could be a certain poetic justice to tossing him down there alone and cementing the door. A coworker today was discussing the special place in hell being arranged for him.

My only hope for the man is that, after seeing the treatment he's likely (hopefully) to get in prison, he will be begging to be trapped in that little cellar.

I'm sure I'll backpedal on the vehemence of my bloodlust in a day or two, but for now, he has confessed to locking up his daughter for twnety-four years in a cellar and fathering multiple children with her, three of whom were also locked up (and one incinerated). Fuck him.

Tom Tancredo messes with Texas

Colorado Republican Congressman Tom "I See Brown People" Tancredo got booed at a hearing in Brownsville when he suggested that the proposed border fence go to the north of Brownsville (I wish I were making this up) (h/t Crooks and Liars, who has the video):
Boos and hisses emanated from the audience for a congressional field hearing when Republican U.S. Rep. Tom Tancredo of Colorado dismissed residents' concerns that the effort to build 670 miles of fencing along the U.S.-Mexico border by year's end would damage the environment and destroy a centuries-old bond between residents on both sides of the Rio Grande.

Late in the five-hour hearing, Tancredo returned to a comment made earlier by panelist Betty Perez, a rancher and local activist. Perez said, ``It really isn't a border to most of us who live down here.''

Tancredo dismissed Perez's remarks as a ``multiculturalist attitude toward borders.''

As jeers rose, Tancredo added, ``I suggest that you build this fence around the northern part of your city.''

Brownsville sits at the southernmost tip of Texas, where the Rio Grande meets the Gulf of Mexico. The border fence as planned would cut through the campus of the University of Texas at Brownsville and Southmost Texas College, leaving its golf course on the Mexican side.
Gosh, so many possible remarks...I'll start off with "multiculturalist attitude toward borders" being a sufficient reason to dismiss an enture argument--that makes absolutely no fricking sense...unless you are aware of some overriding "American" culture that is threatened by our proximity to a country like Mexico...so full of...Mexicans...it must have been horrible for Tom. Actually, it just lends some credence to my hypothesis that he is an insufferable fuckwad.

Another point--Congressman Tancredo is from Colorado. That cuts both ways, actually. On the one hand, he has very little to worry about: Colorado is about 800 miles north and 5,000 to 10,000 feet above Mexico. To get there, Mexicans not only have to trek across a big-ass desert, but then they have to climb. I know they're up to it, but Colorado is a less likely place when California and Texas are sitting right there. On the other hand, the state is called Colorado...could this be a form of linguistic invasion? As a proud American and Texan (and therefore the inheritor of two helpings of whoop-ass served to Mexico), I suggest, nay, demand that "Colorado" be given its proper English name, the State of Red-Colored. Say it a few times--it gets easier. The first option is quite a bit more plausible, don't you think?

At this point, my apologies to Mexico. My taunts were purely illustrative as part of my Tancredo-as-fuckwad exegesis. As a lifelong Texan and Salma Hayek fan, I assure you I meant no offense.

As a quick aside to those who are not too familiar with Texas, Brownsville is the southernmost city in the state, and possibly the southernmost city in the continental U.S. except for the Florida Keys (which technically aren't on the continent anyway). It's not a very good place to try to stir up Mexicophobia or to use the term "multicultural" in a pejorative sense. It is, however, a good place to crash if all the hotels at South Padre are booked up. Also, Kris Kristofferson was born there.

To sum up: Congressman Tom Tancredo has a serious problem with non-Americans, and very poor argumentative skills. He's also a U.S. fucking Congressman, which makes his inability to form a coherent thought all the more good cause for sleep deprivation. Hopefully he will continue to publicly embarrass himself like he did in Brownsville, and his ideas will fade into obscurity along with his career.

In closing, then, two thoughts: 1. Piss off, Congressman. 2. ¡Viva México!

Monday, April 28, 2008

Arlington Cemetery will keep funerals private, even when the family doesn't want them to

Think of it as the Iraq ostrich syndrome (h/t HuffPo): out of sight, out of mind:
Lt. Col. Billy Hall, one of the most senior officers to be killed in the Iraq war, was laid to rest yesterday at Arlington National Cemetery. It's hard to escape the conclusion that the Pentagon doesn't want you to know that.

The family of 38-year-old Hall, who leaves behind two young daughters and two stepsons, gave their permission for the media to cover his Arlington burial -- a decision many grieving families make so that the nation will learn about their loved ones' sacrifice. But the military had other ideas, and they arranged the Marine's burial yesterday so that no sound, and few images, would make it into the public domain.

That's a shame, because Hall's story is a moving reminder that the war in Iraq, forgotten by much of the nation, remains real and present for some. Among those unlikely to forget the war: 6-year-old Gladys and 3-year-old Tatianna. The rest of the nation, if it remembers Hall at all, will remember him as the 4,011th American service member to die in Iraq, give or take, and the 419th to be buried at Arlington. Gladys and Tatianna will remember him as Dad.

The two girls were there in Section 60 yesterday beside grave 8,672 -- or at least it appeared that they were from a distance. Journalists were held 50 yards from the service, separated from the mourning party by six or seven rows of graves, and staring into the sun and penned in by a yellow rope. Photographers and reporters pleaded with Arlington officials.

"There will be a yellow rope in the face of the next of kin," protested one photographer with a large telephoto lens.

"This is the best shot you're going to get," a man from the cemetery replied.

"We're not going to be able to hear a thing," a reporter argued.

"Mm-hmm," an Arlington official answered.

The distance made it impossible to hear the words of Chaplain Ron Nordan, who, an official news release said, was leading the service. Even a reporter who stood surreptitiously just behind the mourners could make out only the familiar strains of the Lord's Prayer. Whatever Chaplain Nordan had to say about Hall's valor and sacrifice were lost to the drone of airplanes leaving National Airport.
This makes me mad.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Great Porn Dragon - UPDATED!!!

It's just fun to say, isn't it? (h/t Atrios)

Great Porn Dragon
Great Porn Dragon
Great Porn Dragon
Great Porn Dragon
Great Porn Dragon
Great Porn Dragon
Great Porn Dragon
Great Porn Dragon
Great Porn Dragon
Great Porn Dragon
Great Porn Dragon
Great Porn Dragon
Great Porn Dragon
Great Porn Dragon
Great Porn Dragon
Great Porn Dragon
Great Porn Dragon
Great Porn Dragon


I wonder if it's like the Great Pumpkin?



UPDATE (04/28/2008): PMI has a nice graphic addition to the mockery pile-on:

Pick your favorite tattooed she-devil

A poll at the Huffington Post asks you to choose who is hotter: Megan Fox or Carly Smithson. I had no idea who Carly Smithson was until about 5 minutes ago (my TiVo has been broken for months, and I really don't miss it, even though I'm still paying for it and for cable. I wouldn't watch American Idol anyway.) Since I have previously opined on the hotness of Megan Fox, it seemed appropriate to pass this information on to my reader(s).

Of course, there is still much more important stuff going on in the world, but I'd rather be watching this:



I'd also rather have a car that actively helps me pick up chicks (as opposed to passively doing so.) Can't have everything, I guess.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Non-sequitur Hottie of the Day, 4/23/2008

H/t to litbrit for reminding us that Danica Patrick exists.



She's not a redhead, but she drives really fast. Works for me.

Life imitates art: The Onion scoops the AP, sort of

New in world news: Al Qaeda has criticized Iran for spreading various 9/11 conspiracy theories involving Israel (h/t VC):
Osama bin Laden's chief deputy in an audiotape Tuesday accused Shiite Iran of trying to discredit the Sunni al-Qaida terror network by spreading the conspiracy theory that Israel was behind the Sept. 11 attacks.
In this instance, the al Qaeda guy is at least partly right--as anyone with half a brain knows, 9/11 was an inside job; however, to paraphrase Gary Larson, people with whole brains tend to disagree, and are generally more articulate in expressing their views.

An astute commenter to the Volokh post that set me off on this little tirade made the all-important connection: that it was in fact "America's Finest News Source" that first broke this story:


9/11 Conspiracy Theories 'Ridiculous,' Al Qaeda Says

To be fair, al Qaeda worked really hard to come up with something that diabolically horrendous. They even managed to outdo Hollywood in most ways; to my knowledge, only Stephen King ever came up with a scheme similar to 9/11 (cf The Running Man, spoiler alert!) and that didn't even make it into the movie. Let's not take this away from them, really. Besides, there's still whoop-ass to dish out to them.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Creepy, creepy robots

Another questionable contribution to the world's technology from Japan:



I'm taking one of those fellas with me if I ever go clubbing again.

This one seems cool...



...but it sort of begs the question of why the bicycle is even necessary. How about a robot on wheels? And what will this do to the bicycle courier business?

The pièce de creepy-ass résistance, though, definitely goes to Actroid:



So many wrongs here, it almost makes a right.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Wrong, but ever so right somehow...

Something about this seems insidiously taboo...



I do so appreciate the judicious use of subtlety now and then.

The truly important news

It's good to know that someone out there is connecting the dots:



By the way, if you so much as snicker when Tucker Carlson says "Hardball" at the end of this clip, somewhere in the world, a kitten will die.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Acting shout-out: Todd Anderson in "North Country"

I watched the movie North Country this morning (h/t Netflix), a 2005 Oscar-baiting Charlize Theron film, and I have several salutes I have to make here.

First off, and obviously most importantly, it really is a pretty good film about the issue of sexual harassment, as well as how crappy it must be to work in an iron mine.

On a less-socially-conscious note, the film proves Carlize Theron is beautiful even with ridiculously-authentic '80s hair, and it offers a glimpse of hometown hottie Amber Heard in the undoubtedly-daunting role of a young (teenaged) Charlize Theron.

Really though, the point of this post is this: I must tip my hat generally to the grotesque depiction the film offers of the types of harassment the women had to endure, and specifically to Todd Anderson, who portrays a mine worker whose preferred method of harassment is to ejaculate into Michelle Monaghan's locker. I single out Mr. Anderson for his courage and fortitude, based on the fact that he may forever be known, thanks to the film's credits, as "Semen Man."

That has got to be hell on a resume.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Currency exchanges for the computer generation (and for foes of Ganon)

Maxim has finally provided me a means to understand the dire state of the American dollar: by comparing it to video game currencies (h/t CFLF)!!!!!



For example, $3 will get you one Hyrulian rupee, while $37,000 will get you a single coin from Super Marios Brothers. Check out the site for the methodology. It's amusing enough that you don't realize for a minute or two how depressing it is.

Early morning, April 4

By way of tribute:



See also RFK's speech the night of April 4, 1968.

Salvation in a mug!

The BBC reports that daily intake of caffeine can help protect the brain (h/t Volokh):
Coffee may cut the risk of dementia by blocking the damage cholesterol can inflict on the body, research suggests.

***

"Caffeine appears to block several of the disruptive effects of cholesterol that make the blood-brain barrier leaky," said Dr Jonathan Geiger, who led the study.

"High levels of cholesterol are a risk factor for Alzheimer's disease, perhaps by compromising the protective nature of the blood brain barrier.

"Caffeine is a safe and readily available drug and its ability to stabilise the blood brain barrier means it could have an important part to play in therapies against neurological disorders."

A spokesman for the Alzheimer's Disease Society said that the study shed "important light" on why previous research had showed benefits for drinking coffee.

"This is the best evidence yet that caffeine equivalent to one cup of coffee a day can help protect the brain against cholesterol.

"In addition to its effect on the vascular system, elevated cholesterol levels also cause problems with the blood brain barrier.

"This barrier, which protects the brain from toxins and infections, is less efficient prior to brain damage caused by Alzheimer's disease or strokes."
Now, this has me pretty excited, because two of my most favoritest substances in the world are caffeine and cholesterol, and it's nice to know that they might be fighting to the death, Kumite-style, inside me right now. Keep in mind, though, that this entire experiment was done on rabbits, and a comparable effect hasn't actually been shown in humans yet.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Explosive nipple rings???

Will someone please explain how this furthers the interests of national security and/or airline safety?:
A Texas woman who said she was forced to remove a nipple ring with pliers in order to board an airplane called Thursday for an apology by federal security agents and a civil rights investigation.

"I wouldn't wish this experience upon anyone," Mandi Hamlin said at a news conference. "My experience with TSA was a nightmare I had to endure. No one deserves to be treated this way."

Hamlin, 37, said she was trying to board a flight from Lubbock to Dallas on Feb. 24 when she was scanned by a Transportation Security Administration agent after passing through a larger metal detector without problems.

The female TSA agent used a handheld detector that beeped when it passed in front of Hamlin's chest, the Dallas-area resident said.

Hamlin said she told the woman she was wearing nipple piercings. The agent then called over her male colleagues, one of whom said she would have to remove the jewelry, Hamlin said.

Hamlin said she could not remove them and asked whether she could instead display her pierced breasts in private to the female agent. But several other male officers told her she could not board her flight until the jewelry was out, she said.

She was taken behind a curtain and managed to remove one bar-shaped piercing but had trouble with the second, a ring.

***

She said she heard male TSA agents snickering as she took out the ring. She was scanned again and was allowed to board even though she still was wearing a belly button ring.
Any ideas??? Anyone??? Am I going to be denied entry to an airport because I have braces? Either the TSA has too much power and too little of a mandate, or we are all just waaaaaaay too paranoid.

While the thought of having my own nipples pierced causes me to collapse shuddering into the fetal position, I will defend to the death other peoples' right to do as they will to their own nipples.

Besides, this isn't national security, it's (O, for a less-cliched phrase) sexual harassment.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Strange bedfellows

I have been generally annoyed by the hubbub over Rev. Jeremiah Wright--I certainly don't support everything he's said, but I do believe that if Barack Obama is to be held responsible for everything the man says (which might be a slight exaggeration), then John McCain should have to answer for the rhetoric of John Hagee, et al.

Coming to Rev. Wright's defense, perhaps surprisingly, is Mike Huckabee:
"[Y]ou can't hold the candidate responsible for everything that people around him may say or do," Huckabee says. "It's interesting to me that there are some people on the left who are having to be very uncomfortable with what ... Wright said, when they all were all over a Jerry Falwell, or anyone on the right who said things that they found very awkward and uncomfortable, years ago. Many times those were statements lifted out of the context of a larger sermon. Sermons, after all, are rarely written word for word by pastors like Rev. Wright, who are delivering them extemporaneously, and caught up in the emotion of the moment. There are things that sometimes get said, that if you put them on paper and looked at them in print, you'd say 'Well, I didn't mean to say it quite like that.'"

Later, he defended Wright's anger, too:

"As easy as it is for those of us who are white to look back and say 'That's a terrible statement!' ... I grew up in a very segregated South. And I think that you have to cut some slack -- and I'm gonna be probably the only conservative in America who's gonna say something like this, but I'm just tellin' you -- we've gotta cut some slack to people who grew up being called names..."
Huckabee gets perilously close to what I like to call the "context fallacy," wherein any embarrassing, inflammatory, offensive, or just plain nasty comment presented as a soundbyte can be dismissed by the speaker as having been "taken out of context," usually with no follow-up explanation (or inquiry) as to the correct context. The speaker often gets a free pass, or at least a reprieve as the news media move on to other scandals or verbal gaffes.

Regardless of context, Rev. Wright has said some pretty wacky stuff, but the question few are asking is this: how much should a parishioner be held directly responsible for the rhetoric of his/her pastor/minister/rabbi/imam/etc.? Partly it depends on the extracurricular activities of the church/temple/mosque/etc. For example, an active member of Westboro Baptist Church could certainly be said to bear some responsibility for what its pastor says and does, comsidering that church's rather single-minded focus, but that is an extreme example. For a church such as Wright's Trinity United Church of Christ, with over 10,000 members (h/t Wikipedia), that is a harder connection to make. I for one am not terribly bothered by Wright's infamous rhetoric--in part, because the broader context (now that I've looked into it a little) seems relatively benign when compared to say, Jerry Falwell or the aforementioned Rev. Hagee; but also because Rev. Wright seems to be expressing anger and frustration (cf. Huckabee, above) alone, not some sort of plan for rearranging the world order (I'm just paranoid enough to suspect Rev. Hagee has that in mind.)

At any rate, I like that Huckabee stepped up for the guy, and I wish everyone would talk about something else.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

In support of redhead nudity

Me and my dang fetish.


FCC Okays Nudity On TV If It's Alyson Hannigan

Last pic for today, I promise

Humorous Pictures
see more crazy cat pics

Soak it in

Humorous Pictures
see more crazy cat pics

For those who dig dinosaurs

Dinosaur art has long been a secret passion of mine. So when I saw something purporting to be "The Most Complete, Up-to-Date Encyclopaedia for Dinosaur Lovers of All Ages," I had to check it out. From what I can see on the web, it does not disappoint:



It may also be known that I am a big fan of the Lolcats (e.g. here, here, and here), but I lament that their time in the spotlight may be nearing an end (although there is too much of a good thing sometimes.)

That said, two good things don't always go well together (e.g. salsa and key lime pie), so this might be a bit much:



As is this (I think this is the giant isopod. Again.):

Humorous Pictures
see more crazy cat pics

Never let flood-related deaths harsh your buzz, man

Disturbingly chirpy Fox News anchor on the first day of spring and its associated natural disasters (h/t HuffPo):

Friday, March 21, 2008

Cognitive dissonance goes great with smut!

Get this: the Parents' Television Council, whose raison d'etre is to "to ensure that children are not constantly assaulted by sex, violence and profanity on television and in other media," posts what it considers to be the most-objectionable TV material on its website as "The Worst Cable Content of the Week" (h/t SexInt).

As of today, March 21, 2008, the "worst" recipient is FX's Nip/Tuck. A clip from the episode “Rachel Ben Natan” is posted, along with a play-by-play of the salacious bits, e.g.:
Receptionist Bettina performs oral sex on Christian as he reads his phone messages. Her head briefly pops up as he asks her a question. Christian grabs the back of her neck and shoves her face back into his crotch, just below camera range.

...

Bettina has sex with Christian on the couch. Both are clothed, though she leans back, displaying her cleavage.

...

Christian is shown having sex with Bettina from behind, as she kneels on his desk wearing a bra and panties.

Bettina: "God, you're in great shape!"

Christian spanks her.

...

Christian has sex with Bettina who is lying on a desk wearing only a bra on top. She answers the phone while having sex. He buries his face in her breasts.

...

Bettina lies on the couch, her legs over Christian's shoulders as they have sex. Both are naked. No breasts or genitals are seen. Both scream as they climax.

Shortly after they’ve finished, Christian fires Bettina for mispronouncing Julia's name.
I guess if there's gonna be a bombardment of smut anyway, it might as well come from a "parents' advocacy group.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

The song that's haunting me this week

I recently discovered this song, "Cassie," by Belton, TX-based Flyleaf, courtesy of Pandora.



Even after reading the lyrics (kind of a cheat, I know), I'm still puzzled by the song. It's probably about suicide:
Do you believe in God
Written on the bullet
Say yes to pull the trigger
Do you believe in God
Written on the bullet
And Cassie pulled the trigger
But then again, maybe I'm just imposing a cliche on the song. Regardless, it's catchy and I thought I'd share.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Remembering the greatest nerd of all time

Sir Arthur C. Clarke, hero and icon to nerds and geeks alike, passed away today at the age of 90. I have been a fan since I first saw 2001 at the age of 7 or 8, and an admirer since I read Childhood's End and Rendezvous with Rama at the age of 13.



In addition to being a screenwriter and prolific author, he also first thought up quite a few things we find commonplace nowadays:

Clarke also was credited with the concept of communications satellites in 1945, decades before they became a reality. Geosynchronous orbits, which keep satellites in a fixed position relative to the ground, are called Clarke orbits.

His non-fiction volumes on space travel and his explorations of the Great Barrier Reef and Indian Ocean earned him respect in the world of science, and in 1976 he became an honorary fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics.

I'm also a big fan of Clarke's Three Laws:
  1. When a distinguished but elderly scientist states that something is possible, he is almost certainly right. When he states that something is impossible, he is very probably wrong.
  2. The only way of discovering the limits of the possible is to venture a little way past them into the impossible.
  3. Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.
I'm not sure there can be as fertile an imagination as his anytime soon. I hope the first people to venture beyond the moon do so at least partly in his honor. I'll bid him farewell with a little Also Sprach Zarathustra:



See you out there in the universe, Sir Clarke.

Subprime crisis for dummies

Everything you need to know about the subprime mortgage crisis, with poorly-drawn stick figures (h/t Volokh).

Those poor Norwegian villagers...

Friday, March 14, 2008

46.6%!

The purity test (h/t Kerry Howley), which guided my way through college, is back, and it's grosser than ever. (The bar is way lower at Rice, as I score a 25% on that test.) This was something all Rice freshmen were supposed to take during orientation, to be used for comparison with your score upon graduation (I dropped by about 67% in four years!)

I'm now 17.48 points less pure than the average test taker, as it turns out.

OMFGWTF

I can't not share this story from AP (excerpted because it's really gross):
NESS CITY, Kan. - Deputies said a woman in western Kansas sat on her boyfriend's toilet for two years, and they're investigating whether she was mistreated.

Ness County Sheriff Bryan Whipple said a man called his office last month to report that something was wrong with his girlfriend.

Whipple said it appeared the 35-year-old Ness City woman’s skin had grown around the seat. She initially refused emergency medical services but was finally convinced by responders and her boyfriend that she needed to be checked out at a hospital.

“We pried the toilet seat off with a pry bar and the seat went with her to the hospital,” Whipple said. “The hospital removed it.”

***

“She was not glued. She was not tied. She was just physically stuck by her body,” Whipple said. “It is hard to imagine. ... I still have a hard time imagining it myself.”

He told investigators he brought his girlfriend food and water, and asked her every day to come out of the bathroom.

“And her reply would be, ‘Maybe tomorrow,”’ Whipple said. “According to him, she did not want to leave the bathroom.”

The boyfriend called police on Feb. 27 to report that “there was something wrong with his girlfriend,” Whipple said, adding that he never explained why it took him two years to call.
This may turn out to have been a serious case of abuse or neglect, in which case I'll probably feel bad for making fun of the situation.

But still...

TWO YEARS???

Didn't I see something like this on TV once?



That was a little different (woman spending three years on a sofa, not two years on a toilet).

The real question (that I know you're wondering about) is whether the boyfriend's place has more than one bathroom. And if it doesn't...

Actually, let's not go there. Let's not go any further with this. I'm out.

UPDATE: More info from AP. Apparently the woman has a phobia about leaving the bathroom.

Demystifying St. Paddy

Some much-needed demystification (demythification?) of the annual senseless beerfest that is St. Patrick's Day (not that I'm knocking mass consumption of beer) comes to us from Andy Crouch (h/t Shakesville):
So that time of year is upon us once again, the time when imbibing throngs pack into bars, throw on giant, foam hats, and clink mugs of green beer in celebration of, well, something. Perhaps a greater perversion than even the American fascination with and celebration of Cinco de Mayo, St. Patrick’s Day is an opportunity for wild, unabashed revelry among the masses and for big breweries to haul in the cash.

***

Now I don’t begrudge anyone a day or two a year to let loose but this particular holiday, along with Cinco de Mayo, has always felt pretty forced to me, especially in Boston. Quick, tell me three things you know about the man known as Naomh Pádraig. Admit it, the only thing you could come up with was the snake thing. And when you think of Cinco de Mayo, you think of the day that Mexicans won their freedom. You and millions upon millions of others would be wrong on both counts. But why let a little history, or legend, get in the way of a few pints, right?
Speaking as something of a faux-Irishman myself, I've always had a troubled relationship with St. Patrick's Day. It's not just most Americans' atrocious taste in beer...I think it's the rather rote manner in which we celebrate so many of our holidays. While I'm certainly looking forward to many of the planned events, the history of the day is left rather vague.

So I decided to do an extremely minimal amount of research (since I'm skipping work today anyway) (h/t Wikipedia):
Saint Patrick (Latin: Patricius, Irish: Naomh Pádraig) was a Christian missionary and is the patron saint of Ireland along with Brigid of Kildare and Columba. Patrick was born in Roman Britain. When he was about sixteen he was captured by Irish raiders and taken as a slave to Ireland, where he lived for six years before escaping and returning to his family. He entered the church, as his father and grandfather had before him, becoming a deacon and a bishop. He later returned to Ireland as a missionary, working in the north and west of the island, but little is known about the places where he actually worked and no link can be made with Patrick and any church. By the eighth century he had become the patron saint of Ireland.
Okay, that's all well and good, but what about all the cool stuff he's supposed to have done?
Pious legend credits Patrick with banishing snakes from the island, though post-glacial Ireland never actually had snakes; one suggestion is that snakes referred to the serpent symbolism of the Druids of that time and place, as shown for instance on coins minted in Gaul (see Carnutes), or that it could have referred to beliefs such as Pelagianism, symbolized as “serpents”.
Bit of a buzzkill, but legend usually has an element of metaphor to it. According to the Smithsonian, Ireland has never had snakes:
It's true, aside from zoos and pets, there are no snakes on the emerald isle. In fact, there never were any snakes in Ireland. This state of affairs probably has more to do with the vagaries of geography than any neat tricks performed by St. Patty.

***

[S]nakes are found in deserts, grasslands, forests, mountains, and even oceans virtually everywhere around the world. Everywhere except Ireland, New Zealand, Iceland, Greenland, and Antarctica, that is.

One thing these few snake-less parts of the world have in common is that they are surrounded by water. New Zealand, for instance, split off from Australia and Asia before snakes ever evolved. So far, no serpent has successfully migrated across the open ocean to a new terrestrial home. As the world's oceans have risen and fallen over the millennia, land bridges have come and gone between Ireland, other parts of Great Britain, and the European mainland, allowing animals and early humans to cross. However, any snake that may have slithered it's [sic] way to Ireland would have turned into a popsicle when the ice ages hit.
And so how did his day become such a big deal?
Irish colonists brought Saint Patrick's Day to what is now the United States of America. The first civic and public celebration of Saint Patrick's Day in the 13 colonies took place in Boston, Massachusetts in 1737. During this first celebration The Charitable Irish Society of Boston organized what was the first Saint Patrick's Day Parade in the colonies on 17 March 1737. The first celebration of Saint Patrick's Day in New York City was held at the Crown and Thistle Tavern in 1756, and New York's first Saint Patrick's Day Parade was held on 17 March 1762 by Irish soldiers in the British Army. In 1780, General George Washington, who commanded soldiers of Irish descent in the Continental Army, allowed his troops a holiday on 17 March. This event became known as The St. Patrick's Day Encampment of 1780. Today, Saint Patrick's Day is widely celebrated in America by Irish and non-Irish alike. Americans celebrate the holiday by wearing green clothing. Many people, regardless of ethnic background, wear green-coloured clothing and items. Traditionally, those who are caught not wearing green are pinched. Alcohol is the centre of many American celebrations.
I guess that's all we really need to know. Just grab a Smithwicks and chill.

Modern American miltary history, as told by food

Too strange to be missed--"Food Fight". I'm still trying to figure out what food represents Russia (without consulting the cheat sheet). (h/t Brad Plumer).



Obviously, the USA = hamburgers.

My favorite is the use of kimchee to represent Korea.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Remembering Gary Hart

I'm reminded, as I read about Der Spitzer's downfall, of what some comedian in the '80s suggested Gary Hart should say in response to his scandal (it later became a bumper sticker):
Yeah, I fucked her. Vote for me.
At least it's honest. And slightly less humiliating for the other parties involved.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Would you pay $4,300 to *********?

We really don't know anything more than we knew yesterday about Mr. Spitzer that's actually useful, but at least the AP's shameful hounding of the call girl's family has yielded the revelation that she's pretty hot.



$4,300 hot? Eh, maybe.

Of course, leave it to Fox News to include pictures of all the other agency ladies. Still, any excuse to plaster the news media with hotties is fine by me. Courtney Friel, anyone?

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Malum prohibitum: Why is the basic transactional part of prostitution illegal, anyway? - UPDATED

It's pretty much par for the course nowadays that more than a few authority figures love the outside-the-mainstream kinky stuff. I have about as much sympathy for Eliot Spitzer as I did for Larry Craig (i.e. none). Still, there is a looming and largely unasked question here: Why is the act of two consenting adults, in private, agreeing to exchange money for sex a crime? Above all, why is it a federal crime in this case? Glenn Greenwald explores this question in some depth, as does Digby. I also recommend Digby's post for its historical review of the Mann Act, the archaic 1910 federal law invoked to federally prosecute prostitution-related offenses.

In all seriousness, while I think Eliot Spitzer deserves to be hoisted upon his own petard (I never get tired of that phrase), doesn't the federal government have better things to do? Isn't there a war still going on or something?

Some discussion of the question (thanks to a quick and highly unscientific Google search) can be found here, here, here, here, here, and here. A common thread among arguments for keeping prostitution illegal involves legalization's supposed windfall for pimps and its further demeaning effect on women, not to mention an increase in human trafficking. I don't want to pick on this site too much, because I know they do a lot of good work, but their "10 Reasons for Not Legalizing Prostitution" do not hold much water. A more in-depth look at this page may come in a future post. There is absolutely no denying that human trafficking and the continued subjugation of women is a problem all over the world. These are terrible problems that deserve smart, effective soultions. Wiretapping a guy who spends $1K-5K per hour for the services of an "escort" is not one of those solutions. Going after the traffickers, educating the women most likely to be victimized by said traffickers, and working to alleviate the conditions that might cause women to fall prey to a trafficker are more likely to help. But they won't make for prurient headlines.

In a final note for the moment, I present further evidence regarding the death of irony (or at least one of its more pathetic gasps): Newsweek has commentary on the whole sordid affair from Heidi Fleiss.

UPDATE (3/13/08): Ditto everything Glenn Greenwald says here. Viva sarcasm!