Chris Muir's Day By Day

Friday, December 21, 2007

Asteroid May Hit Mars, Scientists Excited.

Only a 1 in 75 chance, though.


Prize quote: "Unlike an Earth impact, we're not afraid, but we're excited."

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Hillary '08: The Likability Tour

via NY Times.

It's fundamentally that she seems cold-blooded; some people can find affection for a snake or lizard, but it'll never be the same as a kitten or puppy. It didn't work for Nixon, won't work for Hillary.

Peter Jackson to produce The Hobbit

via NY Times.

Not to direct, but produce, but he'll be given great deference, obviously. Two movies called for; one being The Hobbit, the other being a new Middle-Earth-themed movie base on the period between The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings.

This second movie idea is intriguing, but allows Hollywood writers (or the NZ equivalents, if Jackson stays in NZ) to play with Tolkien's universe, which is potentially a disaster, if not a franchise-killer. That period in Middle-Earth was of chess pieces being moved into position, mainly. Gollum had some adventures, Balin entered Moria to re-establish the dwarf presence there, but it was mainly a calm before the storm. It will be interesting to see.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

A few Lolhitches.






Added: welcome Ann Althouse readers! Sorry I don't spend much time here, it's more interesting for me to spend time in Middle-Earth, where I can swing a sword at my opponents, instead of invective.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Greater Love Has No Man

MSNBC's great article on self-sacrificing heroes.

The inexplicable case of the nobodies who become somebodies, usually at the cost of their own lives.


h/t Hot Air.

Monday, November 19, 2007

The King of Spain: A Ringtone!

King Juan Carlos's insult to Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez has become a hit ringtone in Spain.

It's not the King's own voice on the ringtone because of legal reasons; an actor is used. Still, can world domination be far behind?

Be On The Lookout...

...for the annual news stories of gold coins being left in Salvation Army kettles. It's a sort of a tradition at this time of year.

*laughs*

Thursday, November 15, 2007

The Russian Branch Davidians?

Hiding in a cave, waiting for the apocalypse.

Let's see the Russian solution to this scenario.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Whoa!

Suuupaaaah Geeeeeenius!


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Michael Yon Channels Joe Rosenthal.

Here.

If the photo is as huge a hit as I think it will be, the church will be a target. Please make sure that is taken into account.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Skullduggery At Sea!

Two men are being held in the possible murder of a Florida boat crew, after it was found drifting near Cuba.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Yemeni Volcano Erupting.

Story here.

Apparently some soldiers stationed on the island volcano died in the blast. It last erupted in 1883.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Hazards of Hotel Work - - The Series

Since I anticipate this to be a continuing series, I titled it as I did and will track it accordingly.

So...

This evening an extremely fat man waddled in, the sort that wheezes and gasps as he walks. I'm fat myself, but this guy outweighed me by about 50 or more pounds. He appeared to be in distress, and his slimmer companion asked if he was all right, which he answered in the affirmative. He waddled into the men's room.

A few minutes later, I stepped out of the office and into the lobby, as was confronted with what looked like dog shit on the floor. It tracked down the hall, and I glanced around the corner and saw that it ended at the men's room, from whence I could here distressed groans and panting for breath.

The fat man had shit on my floor.

I cleaned up the crap in the hallway, and the fat man, when he finished a half hour later (apparently he'd had to wash his shorts in the sink) cleaned the men's room, because when I checked, the room, although it smelled of shit, was clean enough to use. The fat man, I should say, went to his room without bothering to stop by the desk to explain or apologize.

Such is hotel work.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Marcel Marceau Is Dead.

Story Here.


I think we can all agree that a moment of silence is appropriate, can't we?

Monday, August 20, 2007

Best Ham In The World?

From Spain, of course.

Spanish cuisine tickles the palate in a thousand ways: ugly but delicious creatures called goose barnacles; boiled octopus with a dash of olive oil and paprika; thick, mushy sausage made from pig's blood.

Spaniards are nothing if not dedicated eaters.

Now, hard-core foodies are drooling over the prospect of something truly superlative from Spain, at least in price: a salt-cured ham costing about $2,100 per leg, or a cruel $160 per pound. It's a price believed to make it the most expensive ham in the world.

The 2006 Alba Quercus Reserve (as this pricey pork will be known) won't be available until late 2008 and you must buy the whole ham or nothing at all. But that hasn't dissuaded gastronomic Web sites and blogs from buzzing with talk of the farm where it is being produced, likening it to a Mount Olympus of pork.

Its mastermind, Manuel Maldonado, 44, comes from a long line of ham producers in a country that's nuts about the stuff. In bars and restaurants, legs of ham hanging from the wall are as common as TV sets.

But Maldonado is taking the art of the ham to new heights, pampering his pigs with a free-range lifestyle and top-quality diet of acorns before slaughtering them, then curing the meat for two years — twice as long as his competitors.

It's that last step that Maldonado credits with creating a delicacy that justifies the heavenly price.



The best of the world's Serrano ham. Sounds delicious.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Alaskan volcano Pavlof Ready to Erupt.




News here.

Stephen King, Vandal?

Author Stephen King was mistaken for a vandal in a bookstore in Australia.

Apparently King, who has a policy of not signing autographs in public situations, also has a habit of surreptitiously autographing his books when he is in a bookstore, and it nearly got him in trouble in a bookstore Down Under.

*laughs*

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Report On Brit Sailors/Iranians Due Out Today.

via Navy Times.

LONDON — Results of an inquiry that examined the capture of 15 British sailors and marines by Iranian forces is to be released Tuesday, along with a report on the decision by the defense ministry to allow the captives to sell their stories to the media.

The parallel inquiries were ordered by Defense Secretary Des Browne after the release of the seven Royal Navy sailors and eight Royal Marines in April.

Along with an inquiry into the decision to allow those involved to sell their stories, Browne also asked for a report on the “operational circumstances, consequences and implications” of the capture of the 15 sailors and marines.

That inquiry was led by Royal Marine Lt. Gen. Sir Rob Fulton, the Governor General of Gibraltar.



I'll be eagerly looking forward to reading this one.

Update: embarrassing, but not blameworthy. About what I expected.

Why I Hate The Media



Please read this story about a Navy SEAL in Afghanistan, the last survivor of a botched attack on the Taliban.

The SEAL and his comrades were faced with a tough decision: to kill three Afghani goatherds who might warn the Taliban of their presence, or let them go. The SEALs let the goatherds go, and were betrayed by them to the Taliban, who engaged the force in a firefight, killing all but this lone survivor, Marcus Luttrell.

Why didn't they kill the goatherds? Luttrell tells us the reason why:

Then, Luttrell said, Murphy then warned his men that if they killed the goatherds, they would have to report the deaths, and the Taliban would publicize them, as well.

“[T]he U.S. liberal media will attack us without mercy,” Luttrell quotes Murphy as saying. “We will almost certainly be charged with murder.”

And then, according to the book, Lt. Murphy turned to Luttrell, the petty officer second class. “Marcus, I’ll go with you,” Murphy said. “Call it.”

But, by Luttrell’s own account, Murphy put the petty officer in the position of casting the deciding vote. Swayed by Murphy’s warning that killing the Afghans would lead to the SEALs being charged with murder, Luttrell voted to free the Afghans.

He now believes that decision sealed the fates of his three teammates.

“It was the stupidest, most southern-fried, lamebrained decision I ever made in my life,” he writes in the book. “I must have been out of my mind. I had actually cast a vote which I knew could sign our death warrant. I’d turned into a f---ing liberal, a half-assed, no-logic nitwit, all heart, no brain, and the judgment of a jackrabbit.”



There ya go. Straight out of the mouth of a warrior, who knows well who his friends (and his enemies) are. And he's right; look at the Haditha case for a US media that made its mind up long before any investigation was concluded, and without giving the benefit of the doubt to its own country's Marines.

Old Warbird Flies To Europe.




via USA Today.

Plane salvaged from ice cap set to make trans-Atlantic flight

After a World War II crash landing in Greenland, 50 years under ice and nearly $7 million in recovery and restoration costs, Glacier Girl is about to complete its mission.

On Friday, the vintage P-38 Lightning fighter will depart from Teterboro Airport in New Jersey to finish what it started in 1942: a trans-Atlantic flight to England. This time, the only surviving relic of "The Lost Squadron" downed by bad weather will have thousands of people tracking its progress on the Internet.

Nearly 65 years after the Army Air Corps squadron of eight warplanes aborted its mission on Greenland's ice cap, Glacier Girl's week-long journey will bring closure to "an Indiana Jones kind of story," says Steven Hinton, the pilot who will fly the vintage warbird. He calls the flight a tribute to all World War II veterans and a way "to make everyone understand their story."

For Brad McManus, at 89, the sole surviving pilot from the squadron, "It's a thrill to know this is occurring and to think they are actually going to fly it over the same route that we flew in 1942."



I love stories like this. I remember that PBS broadcast a similar story about a B-29 Superfortress that was similarly stranded in Greenland: the Kee Bird. That plane was repaired on site, spiffed up and, with the engine running and preparing to fly out, caught fire and was destroyed on the ground, a total loss.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Stink-free Skivvies?

The Air Force is trying to develop them.

If a project sponsored by Air Force Special Operations Command succeeds, airmen soon may be able to wear the same T-shirt or socks for days without stinking up their tent, or own bulk-free cold-weather gear that’s light enough to cram into a small stuff sack.

At Hurlburt Field, Fla., home to AFSOC headquarters, Dan Beal coordinates a project he refers to as “austere environment undergarments.”

“I wore one of the T-shirts for three, four days,” said Beal, a civilian. “It wasn’t like wearing a fresh shirt, but it wasn’t bad.”

But a T-shirt that doesn’t need frequent washings doesn’t come cheap, at least when it is still in the developmental stages. Since 2005, Congress has set aside $2.2 million for testing and research on the specialized underwear. For 2008, the House of Representatives has requested $2.7 million.



Doesn't come cheap. Why do those words send a chill down my spine, and visions of $250 t-shirts dance in my head.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Nifong Disbarred.



via Breitbart.


RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) - A disciplinary committee said Saturday disgraced prosecutor Mike Nifong would be disbarred for his disastrous prosecution of three Duke University lacrosse players falsely accused of rape—a punishment the veteran prosecutor admitted was appropriate.

"This matter has been a fiasco. There's no doubt about it," said committee chairman F. Lane Williamson.



*shakes head sadly*

Oops. Damn that water table!



via Reuters.

TULSA, Oklahoma (Reuters) - A car buried half a century ago in a time capsule had been transformed into a hunk of junk by the time it was unveiled on Friday as part of Oklahoma's Centennial.

The concrete vault, built in 1957 and meant to be opened this year to celebrate Oklahoma's Centennial as a state, has leaked in the intervening 50 years and most of its contents were ruined, to the dismay of those hoping to find a pristine, gold '57 Plymouth Belvedere.

Would-be auto restorers unwrapped 1950s-era protective covering from the mud-caked relic onstage Friday evening at the Tulsa Convention Center, revealing a ruined hulk with rotting upholstery, collapsed suspension, flat tires and an engine that appeared to be a solid chunk of rust.

Officials said they feared the worst when the time capsule was opened earlier this week to reveal four feet of standing water.



Funnily enough, a stainless steel can inside the car kept its contents pristine. Perhaps next time a stainless steel vault can be constructed, and vacuum-sealed to preserved most of the contents intact.

As it is, the winner of the car is probably just going to say Ah...gee, thanks, but I'll pass, if that's okay with you...

Calling John Kerry?



The US Navy is looking to rebuild its riverine force in Iraq.


The stuff in the water over there is wearing out, and they're trying out new designs. They'll be ready by the time that the war is over, if history is anything to go by.

Treasure! Part Deux!


More treasure from Spanish galleons found off the Florida coast.

KEY WEST, Fla. (AP) — Salvagers discovered thousands of pearls Friday in a small, lead box they said they found while searching for the wreckage of the 17th-century Spanish galleon Santa Margarita.

Divers from Blue Water Ventures of Key West said they found the sealed box, measuring 3.5 inches by 5.5 inches, along with a gold bar, eight gold chains and hundreds of other artifacts earlier this week.

They were apparently buried beneath the ocean floor in approximately 18 feet of water about 40 miles west of Key West.

"There are several thousand pearls starting from an eighth of an inch to three-quarters of an inch," said Duncan Mathewson, marine archaeologist and partner in Blue Water Ventures.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Nifong Resigns.


Right from the witness stand.

Drudge and everyone else are making this the headline of the night, and rightly so.

Nifong is obviously trying to play for sympathy in order to keep his law license. I don't think it'll work.

As I've said before, if bloggers ever receive Pulitzers, KC Johnson of Durham In Wonderland deserves the first one.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

lolcats jump the sharkz!




You heard it here, first. Watch for hucksters flogging lolcats, and for someone to try and trademark the name, and lawsuits to be filed, and movies to be pitched, and reality shows to be offered, and cartoons to be contemplated, and calenders for sale at Barnes & Noble, and......

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

The New London Olympics Logo....




...looks vaguely like puzzle pieces that, when assembled, form a swastika.

Just sayin'.

Martian Cave Entrance?



A very dark spot on Mars could be an entrance to a deep hole or cavern, according to scientists studying imagery taken by NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.

The geological oddity measures some 330 feet (100 meters) across and is located on an otherwise bright dusty lava plain to the northeast of Arsia Mons, one of the four giant Tharsis volcanoes on the red planet.

The hole might be the sort of place that could support life or serve as a habitat for future astronauts, researchers speculated.



I won't bother with the obvious knowing an ass from a hole in the ground jokes.

R2D2 In The Army

Military robots in Iraq.

h/t Hot Air.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Went To the Movies.



Saw Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End. Wednesday afternoon first matinee, only 5 people in the theater.

Good movie, although the critics are correct that the plot is so convoluted that it's hard to follow. If you view the movie as a theme park ride, though, which is what the franchise started out as, after all, you don't worry about the plot, you just sit back and enjoy the episodic nature of the film. High point for me was seeing Keith Richards as Captain Jack's dad, of course. Things were resolved so that it's unlikely we'll see Orlando Bloom or the bony Keira Knightly in any proposed sequels. Disney certainly left the door open for sequels, anyway, and Depp has said he's still happy playing the character.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Siegfried Sassoon's Military Cross Not Drowned After All.



via Guardian.

A long-lost Military Cross, awarded to a poet who articulated the futility of war, has been found in a Scottish attic. The medal, presented to Siegfried Sassoon and thought to have been thrown away 90 years ago in disgust at the slaughter of the first world war, is expected to fetch up to £25,000 when it comes up for auction at Christie's in London next month.

Sassoon was awarded the MC in 1916 for "conspicuous gallantry during a raid on the enemy's trenches". His citation in the London Gazette noted that he had braved "rifle and bomb fire" and that, "owing to his courage and determination, all the killed and wounded were brought in".

But in 1917, he was said to have thrown the medal into the Mersey after the authorities declined to court-martial him for his refusal to carry out military duties .

Robert Pulvertaft, whose stepfather George was Sassoon's only son, said: "I found it while clearing out the attic of the family property on Mull. Bizarrely, it was in a treasure chest, like a pirates' chest, covered in cobwebs and long-dead insects. The ID tag was there too, along with the revolver in an old Jiffy bag and some poetry medals."



He must have valued it, after all. The medal he was supposed to have thrown into the Mersey was just the ribbon, anyway.

Gypsy Moth Transits Globe Again.



via Independent.

t was the pride of Plymouth, a ship greeted by fanfare after making waves among a proud local public when it completed the first solo circumnavigation of the globe. Yesterday, the yacht Gipsy Moth IV charted the same course into Plymouth harbour, 40 years to the day after its first famous voyage.

On 28 May 1967, the 53ft ketch was steered into Plymouth Sound by the trusted hands of the aviator and yachtsman Francis Chichester. Yesterday, it was crewed by a team of young people in a repeat of its original 30,000-mile odyssey which saw it travel around the globe via the three capes of Hope, Leeuwin and Horn, making only one stop along the way.

t was the pride of Plymouth, a ship greeted by fanfare after making waves among a proud local public when it completed the first solo circumnavigation of the globe. Yesterday, the yacht Gipsy Moth IV charted the same course into Plymouth harbour, 40 years to the day after its first famous voyage.

On 28 May 1967, the 53ft ketch was steered into Plymouth Sound by the trusted hands of the aviator and yachtsman Francis Chichester. Yesterday, it was crewed by a team of young people in a repeat of its original 30,000-mile odyssey which saw it travel around the globe via the three capes of Hope, Leeuwin and Horn, making only one stop along the way.

Sir Francis's journey took nine months and a day. The adventurer, who had survived lung cancer, was knighted by the Queen using the sword of his fellow nautical adventurer Sir Francis Drake. He died in 1972.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Another Astronaut Dismissed From NASA.



Space shuttle pilot Bill Oefelein, who was at the center of a love triangle involving a female astronaut facing an attempted kidnapping charge, has been discharged from NASA's astronaut corps and will return to active duty in the Navy, officials said Friday.

Once Oefelein reports for duty, the Navy will review his involvement in the events that led to the Feb. 5 arrest of Lisa Nowak, a fellow former astronaut and Navy captain. Nowak was arrested in Florida, after driving from Houston to confront Colleen Shipman, an Air Force captain and Oefelein's girlfriend, at the Orlando airport.



This sorry tale continues. Best Oefelein can hope for is to be allowed to resign from the Navy. More likely he'll be cashiered on an adultery charge, along with Conduct Unbecoming An Officer and Gentleman.

Can't Say I Agree.

At the US Naval Academy Graduation ceremonies, Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates felt it necessary to caution the Midshipmen to respect the Congress and the Media.

The Congress is a coequal branch of government that that under the Constitution raises armies and provides for navies,” he said. “Members of both parties now serving have long been strong supporters of the Department of Defense and of our men and women in uniform.”

“As officers, you will have the responsibility to communicate to those below you that the American military must be non-political and recognize the obligation that we owe the Congress to be honest and true when reporting to them, especially when it involves admitting mistakes and problems,” Gates said.

“Don’t kid yourself. That takes courage.”

In dealing with the press, officers must understand the role that it plays in providing information to the American people, Gates said, noting the positive role that it played in exposing conditions at Walter Reed Hospital earlier this year.

The press is not the enemy and to treat it as such is self defeating,” he said.




Actions speak louder than words, Mr. Secretary, and the actions of both the Congress and the media are very often indistinguishable from those of an enemy. For Congress, I'd say that what is owed is official courtesy, but respect must always be earned. For the media, noting but contempt. Those bastards must prove themselves, as far as I'm concerned.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

We'll Name A Mountain After You!



A mountain of garbage, that is:

WELLINGTON (Reuters) - A New Zealand city is so angry with comedian John Cleese they've named a rubbish tip after him.

A sign reading "Mt. Cleese" has been put up outside a landfill in Palmerston North, where the 67-year-old actor earned the ire of residents during a performance visit last year, local media reported on Tuesday.



I guess it's similar to all those sea slimes that scientists have been naming after President Bush in recent years.

Bondi Beach Caveman Keeps His Home...For Now.



Jhyimy "Two Hats" Mhiyles, who has been squatting in a clifftop dwelling at Sydney, Australia's famous Bondi Beach, narrowly avoided eviction recently.

Longterm I don't foresee it working out for him; looks as if he'll be harassed into leaving via a campaign of petty summonses, tickets, etc. Still, it's a good human interest story.

Internet Darwinism Experiments.

via Reuters.

HELSINKI (Reuters) - Computer specialist Didier Stevens put up a simple text advertisement on the Internet offering downloads of a computer virus for people who did not have any.

Surprisingly, he found as many as 409 people clicking on the ad saying "Is your PC virus-free? Get it infected here!" during a 6-month advertising campaign on Google's Adword, said the IT security expert.

"Some of them must have clicked on it by mistake. Some must have been curious or stupid," said Mikko Hypponen, head of research at data security firm F-Secure.

There was no virus involved, it was an experiment aiming to show these kind of advertising systems can be used for malicious intent, Stevens told Reuters.



Similar to putting up signs Free Sex! Aids-Infected Whores!, I guess.

Treasure Coins - - The Ageing Process

via Slate.


Good article on why some coins stand up to decades, centuries or even millennia in the sea; buried under mud, scattered over sand, or even sealed up well in lead boxes.

Is there any greater jolt of pleasure than finding a treasure coin on a beach, especially if it's gold? I can't imagine one.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

This day in history



via Washington Post.

151 years ago, Representative Preston Brooks (D-SC) beat Senator Charles Sumner (R-MA)so severely with a cane on the floor of the Senate that Sumner went into a coma and nearly died. Brooks' cane was broken during the assault. Brooks was sent numerous replacements by fans, as Sumner was universally hated in the South. (Remember that in those days the Republicans were the liberals, and the Democrats were the conservatives; Sumner was as popular as Ted Kennedy is today).

I first heard the story in my junior year in high school, from my favorite teacher, Mr. Jackson, who taught us US History/Americanism vs. Communism.

Hamsters On Viagra?

File this under way too weird to be true.

Hurricane Season Will Be....

...active!

They said that last year, too. Even Reuters must be fed up with this bullshit, because the story actually calls bullshit on it, but only in the last paragraph, instead of paragraph 2 where it belonged.

Reuters Interview With President Bush

Full text here.

Among other things, he mentions that it will take a long time for his place in history to be properly judged; I'd guess he's thinking of Truman, another president who left office dreadfully unpopular only to be rehabilitated as decades passed.

Treasure!



A shipwreck which hasn't actually been officially identified is yielding a huge horde of high quality treasure coins, both silver and gold.

Spain is concerned about the location of the treasure ship, though.

The hunters say the ship is in international waters and subject to salvage (as of course they must). We'll see how it shakes out.

Trends In Navy Tattooing

Good article in Navy Times.

FORT DRUM, N.Y. — Before he went to Iraq, Sgt. Chris Freeman got a tattoo of the Chinese symbol for soldier. When he got back he got another, but this one was far different.

The “sleeve” tattoo covering his left arm depicts his struggle to come to grips with war, “a never-ending battle between heaven and hell,” says Freeman, a former infantry leader with the 10th Mountain Division.

“I don’t know how it’s going to turn out,” Freeman said as he watched tattoo artists ink work at Empyre Tattoo in Carthage, 2 miles from Fort Drum.

Tattoo artists whose shops are near military bases say Freeman is typical of many soldiers and Marines returning from Afghanistan and Iraq.

In the beginning they wanted tattoos that identified them by name, religion or simply as soldiers, as Freeman did, says tattoo artist Scott LaGrange, 26, of Forever Tattoos in Evans Mills.

“That’s when their religion comes out,” LaGrange says. “Crosses, bottles of booze, hearts with “Mom” and “Dad.”

A former Marine and veteran of Afghanistan, LaGrange says those who return are requesting skulls, patriotic phrases or memorials to fallen comrades.


Tattoo artist Jim Frost, 36, of Forever Tattoos, flipped through a portfolio showing unit patches, religious symbols and American eagle tattoos that he did for soldiers early in the war. A more recent popular tattoo shows a skeleton climbing out of a coffin and reaching for a Kevlar helmet.

It means “they’ll do what they have to for the cost of freedom,” Frost says. Another recent tattoo carries the inscription “Never Forgotten” over the 101st Airborne Division banner with its eagle shedding a tear.



Good article. I never got tattooed myself, can't think of any single thing that I want on my skin enough to justify one.

WTF is up with Navy Firings?

Five Commanding Officers fired in five weeks, and more may follow?

The Navy’s recent troubled waters got even more turbulent May 11-16 as news got out of a destroyer grounding, a frigate apparently going dead in the water and a sub skipper being fired. The commanding-officer sacking was the fifth in as many weeks.

Reviewing links, they all cite the same reason for firings: relieved “due to loss of confidence in his ability to command.”

Is this code of some sort? Did they all come out as teh gay, or something?

Indonesian Guy Catches Coelacanth...

...which is a fish from the dinosaur period, occasionally caught in the Indian Ocean.

via CNN.

JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) -- An Indonesian angler caught a fish once thought to have disappeared along with the dinosaurs and held it in a quarantined pool until it died 17 hours later, a biologist said Sunday.

The coelacanth fish was thought to have become extinct 65 million years ago until one was found in 1938 off Africa's coast. The discovery of the so-called "living fossil" ignited worldwide interest.


I had to go to Wikipedia for the question I really wanted an answer to, which is not mentioned in the news article: are they good to eat? Wikipedia says:

A worldwide search was launched for more coelacanths, with a reward of 100 British pounds, a very substantial sum to the average South African fisherman of the time. Fourteen years later, one specimen was found in the Comoros, but the fish was no stranger to the locals -- in the port of Mutsamudu on the Comorian island of Anjouap, the Comorians were puzzled to be so rewarded for a gombessa or mame, an inferior, nearly inedible fish that their fishermen occasionally caught by mistake.

Gay Flamingos Raise Chicks

via BBC.

A pair of same sex flamingos have become foster parents after adopting an abandoned chick in Gloucestershire.

Carlos and Fernando had tried to start their own family by stealing eggs from other flamingos at the Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust (WWT) in Slimbridge.

But their sitting and hatching skills impressed staff so much, that when a nest was abandoned last week, they were chosen to "adopt" the chick.

The new flamingo family is said to be doing well.


Welcome Protein Wisdom Readers! Jeff's blog is light years better than this one, be warned. I'm just a semi-educated redneck from Florida.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Lileks In Walt Disney World: A Week Of Anticipation

Lileks had a week's vacation in Walt Disney World, and is dedicating the Bleat to it this week. This morning's Bleat ends with a cliffhanger at The Haunted Mansion.

Read more here.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Sarkozy Wins French Presidential Election.

via BBC.

Conservative Nicolas Sarkozy has won the hotly-contested French presidential election, according to early results.

With three quarters of votes counted, Mr Sarkozy has 53%, compared with 47% for socialist Segolene Royal, while turnout is put at 85%.

Mr Sarkozy, 52, the son of a Hungarian immigrant, takes over from the 74-year-old Jacques Chirac.



He seems on surface friendlier to the US than Chirac. That doesn't mean he'll join the coalition of the willing, especially since he'll be busy trying to control the Islamofascist thuggish kids in his own country, a difficult proposition at best.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Hmm. Couldn't find a Muslim?

Here is a series of photos that the BBC took of French citizens talking about whom they intended to vote for in the presidential election, and why.

Notice any particular group missing?

Friday, May 04, 2007

Conservative Alternative To YouTube?

via ABC News.

In the new digital media age, damning political video can have an immediate impact on campaign 2.0, thanks largely to the availability and immediacy of YouTube.

The popular video-sharing website first debuted the "Hillary 1984" comparing Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y. to a Orwellian dictator, then-Sen. George Allen's career-altering "macaca" moment, and the "I Feel Pretty" video chiding former Sen. John Edwards', D-N.C., good looks.

But YouTube, which is owned by Google, has also been a favorite target of conservatives, who accuse the service of a liberal bias.

Railing against YouTube, two Republican White House veterans have launched QubeTV as a the conservative alternative.

"The 2008 campaign will be dominated by video and in particular by user-generated video," said QubeTV founder Charlie Gerow, a former aide in the Ronald Reagan White House.

"There are a vast array of young conservative activists and operatives out there armed with cell phones or hand-held that are going to capture the next 'macaca' moment or John Kerry bad joke and put them on Qube TV," said Gerow, whose Pennsylvania strategic media firm, Quantum Communications, created the website.

Gerow insists YouTube banned a video by conservative blogger Michelle Malkin about radical Islamists.

Responding to that incident, a statement on the website reads: "We fly the conservative flag here at QubeTV and we will not be about banning or deleting conservatives."

YouTube takes issue with Gerow's assertion that the site is banning conservative content.

"That's flat out incorrect," said a spokesman for YouTube, who asked not to be identified by name.

A statement provided to ABC News by YouTube elaborated: "Our site provides an equal opportunity for both sides of the political spectrum and embraces voter interaction with the candidates with no regard to party affiliation."



It's not a new story, really. There are similar accusations that Google and Wikipedia are biased, also.

Great Hitchens Interview.



Interview.


Hitch talks about the only time he ever offered a prayer (for an erection), has a touching exchange with the interviewer about US citizenship, and discusses his new book, Why God Is Not Great. (That title a conscious slap at the Muslim saying Allahu Akbar, God Is Great).

Thursday, April 26, 2007

You Broke It, You Fix It.

CNN correspondent Michael Ware in an interview, asked about Iraq:

Ware agreed, but argued that winning the war was in America’s best interest: “Well, even more than that, if you just wanted to look at it purely in terms of American national interest, if U.S. troops leave now, you’re giving Iraq to Iran, a member of President Bush’s ‘Axis of Evil,’ and al Qaeda. That’s who will own it. And so, coming back now, I’m struck by the nature of the debate on Capitol Hill, how delusional it is. Whether you’re for this war, or against it; whether you’ve supported the way it’s been executed, or not; it doesn’t matter. You’ve broke it, you’ve got to fix it now. You can’t leave, or it’s going to come and blow back on America.” (bolding mine)

That sums up why we have to stay in Iraq. We broke it. We fix it. As Americans, we can't do otherwise.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Guernica, 70 Years On.


via Guardian.

Good story.

Some People Are Just Totally Clueless.



via Daily Mail.

Seaman Steven Batchelor, one of the UK soldiers captured and ridiculed by the Iranians for a couple of weeks, is making fun of the event in UK clubs:

Iran hostage Arthur Batchelor's admission that he cried himself to sleep after his captors likened him to Mr Bean and stole his iPod was scorned as a national embarrassment.


Yet just days after a barrage of criticism for selling his story, the 20-year-old reveals just how little he has learned from the whole debacle.

This picture shows the Operator Mechanic staging a tasteless re-enactment of his 13 days in captivity as he celebrates his home-coming in a Plymouth nightclub. He laughs as he pretends to be held at gunpoint, his ordeal - and his fellow servicemen's vitriolic response to his behaviour - seemingly a long way from his mind.

With a 'blindfold' round Batchelor's eyes, a friend points pistol-shaped fingers to the 5ft 2in serviceman's head. In another picture Batchelor, with alcohol stains on his yellow shirt, has his head held back by a toy rifle placed across his neck.

In a further shot, Batchelor wears a woman's camisole as he poses with three female clubbers.



He'd really be better off in some sort of civilian organization than in the UK military.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Angel Falls To Earth



A Blue Angel, that is.

(CNN) -- A jet flying in formation with the U.S. Navy Blue Angels precision flying team crashed into a Beaufort, South Carolina, neighborhood, causing an "enormous fireball" during an air show, authorities said.

The Navy aviator was killed Beaufort County Coroner Curt Copeland said. The F/A-18's pilot is the only known fatality.



No one else killed, thank all the Gods.

Friday, April 20, 2007

That's a very high wall.



I found this headline on Google News last night, 20 Apr 2007 at around 2:00 a.m.

Needless to say, that's going to be a very expensive wall to build.

The Ghost Yacht



Emergency services in Australia have launched a search for the three-man crew of a yacht found drifting off the North Queensland coast.

The vessel was found with its engine running, and a table laid for dinner, but there were no signs of any people.

Rescue crews say they are puzzled by the mysterious disappearance.

"The engine was running, the computers were running, there was a laptop set up on the table which was running, the radio was working... and there was food and utensils set on the table ready to eat," said Jon Hall, a spokesman for Queensland's Emergency Management office.

"It was a bit strange," he added.

All the vessel's sails were up, although one was badly shredded, and lifejackets were still on board.



They're trying to trace it now via the GPS system.

Damn, I love stories like this.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Columbian Volcano Erupting



Nevado del Huila volcano.

NEIVA, Colombia (AP) — Thousands of people were evacuated after a long-dormant volcano erupted late Tuesday and again early Wednesday, provoking avalanches and floods that swept away houses and bridges.

The Nevado del Huila volcano's eruptions were its first on record since Colombia was colonized by the Spanish 500 years ago.

There are about 10,000 people living in the area around the volcano, and about 3,500 had been evacuated, Luz Amanda Pulido, director of the national disaster office, told The Associated Press after flying over the volcano in southwest Colombia.

There were no reports of deaths or injuries.

The eruption sent an avalanche of rocks down the volcano's sides and into the Paez and Simbola rivers, causing them to flood.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

The Va. Tech Shooter Was An Immigrant.


So was one of the victims, an Israeli professor and Holocaust survivor who held a door against the gunman, allowing his body to serve as a shield while students behind him escaped via the windows.

Virginia Tech University Prof. Liviu Librescu, described as a family man who once did research for NASA, sacrificed his life to save his students in the shooting rampage yesterday.

"When he heard the gunfire, he blocked the entrance and got shot through the door," his daughter-in-law Ayala Schmulevich said.

"He realized he had to save the students," she said. "That was the kind of man he was."

We're a World Laughingstock, and it's Bloody Embarrassing.

The British government will be holding hearings about the conduct of the sailors and marines capture by Iran in March.

via Navy Times.

How About A Compressed Air Car?


They've been around in France for a few years now. For pootering around in town without driving a lot, they'd be a great solution to air pollution problems; for that reason, Mexico City has ordered thousands of them.

Story here.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Murderous Spirit Of Charles Whitman Lives On.


via NY Times.

At least 22 people were killed today, some of them students, and about two dozen more injured during shootings at Virginia Tech, some of them in a classroom, the police said. A gunman was also shot to death, officials said.

The attack was the deadliest campus shooting in American history. According to several news agencies, the death toll continued to climb and could be as high 32.



Well, we know what the news focus for the next two weeks will be.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Imus May Be Gone...


...but the hucksters are just getting started.

h/t Drudge Report

Credit Where Credit Is Due.

I'm inclined to think that there should be a Pulitzer Prize for blogging, and that K.C. Johnson of Durham In Wonderland should receive one for his definitive coverage of the Duke Lacrosse rape case.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Mt. Etna Erupting?

Saw a TV report showing the volcano erupting, but searches on Google and Reuters turn up no news links. Weird. The US Geological Survey/Smithsonian Volcanoes website indicates Etna activity as of March 29.

Old Toy Remembered



It's Major Matt Mason, who basically existed from 1967-1970, the best years of the Apollo space program. Matt was an astronaut, with a rubbery body and wire skeleton, á la Gumby and Pokey, so these days would be too dangerous for kids to play with.

A couple of good websites for all things Matt Mason can be found here and here. (German language)

I had Matt, his Space Crawler and his Space Station. I also had Sgt. Storm, Matt's friend in the red spacesuit; I thought he was a Russian Cosmonaut, so I treated him as the bad guy during play.

*laughs*

Duke Rape Case Charges All Dismissed.



via Breitbart.


Statement from North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper on the Duke University lacrosse rape case.

Good afternoon, everyone.

On Jan. 13 of this year, I accepted the request of the Durham district attorney to take over three Durham cases. At the time, I promised a fresh and thorough review of the facts and a decision on the best way to proceed. I also said that we would have our eyes wide open to the evidence, but that we would have blinders on for all other distractions. We've done all of these things.

During the past 12 weeks, our lawyers and investigators have reviewed the remaining allegations of sexual assault and kidnapping that resulted from a party on March 13, 2006, in Durham, N.C.

We have carefully reviewed the evidence collected by the Durham County prosecutor's office and the Durham Police Department. We have also conducted our own interviews and evidence gathering. Our attorneys and SBI (State Bureau of Investigation) agents have interviewed numerous people who were at the party, DNA and other experts, the Durham County district attorney, Durham police officers, defense attorneys and the accusing witness on several occasions. We have reviewed statements given over the past year, photographs, records and other evidence.

The result of our review and investigation shows clearly that there is insufficient evidence to proceed on any of the charges. Today we are filing notices of dismissal for all charges against Reade Seligmann, Collin Finnerty and David Evans.

The result is that these cases are over, and no more criminal proceedings will occur.

We believe that these cases were the result of a tragic rush to accuse and a failure to verify serious allegations. Based on the significant inconsistencies between the evidence and the various accounts given by the accusing witness, we believe these three individuals are innocent of these charges.

We approached this case with the understanding that rape and sexual assault victims often have some inconsistencies in their accounts of a traumatic event. However, in this case, the inconsistencies were so significant and so contrary to the evidence that we have no credible evidence that an attack occurred in that house that night.

The prosecuting witness in this case responded to questions and offered information. She did want to move forward with the prosecution.

However, the contradictions in her many versions of what occurred and the conflicts between what she said occurred and other evidence, like photographs and phone records, could not be rectified.

Our investigation shows that:

The eyewitness identification procedures were faulty and unreliable. No DNA confirms the accuser's story. No other witness confirms her story. Other evidence contradicts her story. She contradicts herself. Next week, we'll be providing a written summary of the important factual findings and some of the specific contradictions that have led us to the conclusion that no attack occurred.

In this case, with the weight of the state behind him, the Durham district attorney pushed forward unchecked. There were many points in the case where caution would have served justice better than bravado. And in the rush to condemn, a community and a state lost the ability to see clearly. Regardless of the reasons this case was pushed forward, the result was wrong. Today, we need to learn from this and keep it from happening again to anybody.

Now, we have good district attorneys in North Carolina who are both tough and fair. And we need these forceful, independent prosecutors to put criminals away and protect the public. But we also need checks and balances to protect the innocent. This case shows the enormous consequences of overreaching by a prosecutor. What has been learned here is that the internal checks on a criminal charge—sworn statements, reasonable grounds, proper suspect photo lineups, accurate and fair discovery—all are critically important.

Therefore, I propose a law that the North Carolina Supreme Court have the authority to remove a case from a prosecutor in limited circumstances. This would give the courts a new tool to deal with a prosecutor who needs to step away from a case where justice demands.

I want to thank everyone in the North Carolina Department of Justice. I want to thank our investigators, our SBI agents and especially attorneys Jim Coman and Mary Winstead for their hard work in this matter.



Looks like Mike Nifong will be the center of attention for the next 24 hours. What are his choices?

1. Grab 10k, a cheap disguise and hop in the Bronco, heading for Mexico (OJ scenario).

2. Check into rehab (celebrity scenario).

3. Engage in a totally ridiculous suicide attempt such as swallowing an entire bottle of tranquilizers, then immediately call an ambulance, which takes you to a hospital for a stomach pumping;

4. Get caught DUI after wrecking your car, then taken to a state mental hospital after waving a gun around and making racial slurs;

5. Curl into a fetal position and crawl under a couch, from whence you have to be dragged (Jim Bakker scenario).

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Edwards, Obama and Hillary Withdraw From Debate.




Edwards: Fox News, dey's biasd.

Obama: Yes dey is. Cain't trust no Fox.

Hillary: vast raht wing conspeercy! Bawk!

Birthday Greetings



Author Paul Theroux, age 66. Happy Birthday, Paul, and thanks for the wonderful books.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Topsy.........And Bottomsy


via Mirror UK

FELLOW captive Faye Turney was instrumental in getting Arthur Batchelor through their terrifying 13-day kidnap ordeal, the 20-year-old said yesterday.

Arthur said his brave colleague, nicknamed Topsy, risked beatings from their cynical guards for whispering reassurances to him as he sat scared stiff and blindfolded on a boat after they were snatched at sea.



It sounds as if Batchelor is the sailor who has been described as the youngest of the Brit captives of the Iranians, the one who cried, puked and otherwise carried on like a big baby instead of an adult sailor.

Johnny Hart, Cartoonist, 1931-2007: R.I.P.

via Washington Post.

Johnny Hart, the creator of the comic strip B.C. and co-creator of The Wizard of Id, died of a stroke while working at his drawing table. He was 76.

Hart became a born-again Christian late in life and began using religious elements in B.C., causing various newspapers to drop the strip, move it from the comics page or selectively censor it.

My home newspaper, the Charlotte Observer, tried to drop the strip, saying it was "unpopular." After an outraged campaign of letter-writing and emails, the strip was reinstated. The editors tried a couple of times again to get rid of it by asking readers to vote for most popular strips, but B.C. foiled them by scoring in the top ten each time.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Volcano Erupting In Indian Ocean.


via Reuters.

SAINT-DENIS DE LA REUNION, France (Reuters) - A volcano on the Indian Ocean island of Reunion which has been spewing out lava and ash for nearly a week appeared to be calming down on Sunday, the local government said.

The Piton de la Fournaise volcano on the French island first erupted on Monday, sending lava 500 metres (more than 1,500 feet) into the air and creating spectacular clouds of steam from the sea.


I'm a sucker for volcano stories. I could probably teach a college-level course on the subject.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Jim Webb's Aide: Where Are The News Stories?

It's been more than a week since there were any news stories about Phillip Thompson, Senator Jim Webb's (D-VA) aide who was arrested in possession of a pistol on Capitol grounds.

Sort of fell off all the news pages with a resounding thud, didn't it?

US Military Reviewing Procedures For Captives

via Navy Times.

Maritime security operations undertaken by U.S. naval forces will get a top-down review following Iran’s highly-publicized capture and 13-day detention of 15 British sailors and marines, according to Defense Secretary Robert Gates.

“Naturally, this kind of an event is of concern, and we have asked ... [Joint Chiefs Chairman Marine Gen. Peter Pace], through the commander of the Central Command and others, to examine our procedures and make sure that, first of all, that we’re playing well within the baselines, just like the British were, and that our sailors are properly protected against any similar kind of activity,” Gates said April 5 at the Pentagon.


The story relates experiences by crewmembers of the USS Pueblo under North Korean captivity and the crew of a Navy P-3 reconnaissance plane that was seized by the Chinese in 2001; in both of those cases the US sailors acted with more discipline than the Brits have in the Iranian incident.

More Details On Cruise Ship Sinking

via Tuscaloosa News.

ATHENS, Greece | When he heard the news Friday about a cruise ship that sank off a Greek island in the Aegean Sea, Tuscaloosa tour director Terry Merritt remembered the time he had on the same ship a week earlier.

He had also had a rough time on a cruise in the waters off Santorini in that ship, the Sea Diamond. He was leading a group of about 86 people from Tuscaloosa on the cruise last week.

“We scraped some of the rocks because the winds were so bad," he recalled. “The seas are so rough there; it doesn’t surprise me that this happened."

Merritt, who owns Worldwide Travel and Tours in Tuscaloosa, said that he has cruised to Santorini about a dozen times before and that the island has always been a dangerous port of call because of its shallow waters and rough winds.

“As we were coming into port [last week], I looked over the side and wondered how the ship could navigate around the rocks and not gash a hole in the ship," he said. The waters are so shallow, he said, that the cruise ship must anchor off-port and use tender boats to ferry passengers on and off the island.

The captain of his cruise had so much trouble maneuvering around the rocks that the ship, which was supposed to dock for five hours at Santorini, could only stay half an hour.

“Everybody was upset," Merritt said. “It’s been a bad situation for a long time with people not being able to get off the ship. They need to dig that port deeper and dredge it."


So we have a port that is extremely dangerous to enter, and an outsized modern cruise ship trying to maneuver into that port. Not good.

In Thursday’s wreck, nearly 1,600 people were retrieved from the sinking ship in a three-hour rescue operation, but some passengers complained of an insufficient supply of life vests, little guidance from crewmembers and being forced into a steep climb down rope ladders to safety.

“The crew members were more scared than we were," said Lizbeth Mata, 15, a native of the Dominican Republic who was vacationing with her parents and brother. Mata said some crewmembers left before the passengers: “They were yelling and screaming -- didn’t know what to do."


It's to the crew's credit that only 2 of the passengers aren't accounted for during a major sea disaster. And really, are you going to spend most of the cruise doing training drills? It's unrealistic.

Merritt said he was not surprised that the ship foundered off Santorini.

“Anywhere else in the Mediterranean, I would have been surprised," he said. “I love the island, but it’s always been a dangerous port of call."


Sounds like smaller, more maneuverable ships are necessary if you're going to operate around Santorini, or perhaps dredging operations to make the port safer.

War Dead To Be Treated With More Respect

via San Diego Union-Tribune.

Because of a father's dismay over the treatment of war dead returning to the US, a law has been passed ensuring that the remains of servicemen get the respect that they deserve.

Called the Holley Provision and sponsored by Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Alpine, and Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., the law requires that military dead not be transported in airplane cargo hold or treated as cargo, nor moved from the airplanes with forklifts.

I'm surprised that we were even doing this to begin with. It's a small detail, but with the extremely small number of war dead in the Iraq war compared with other US wars, better treatment should have been possible without a law. I'm sort of disappointed that the Bush administration needed prodding on this.

Friday, April 06, 2007

British Sailor Ordeal - - Update.

via CBS News.

Marine Capt. Chris Air said the 15 British sailors and marines faced an aggressive Iranian crew. "They rammed our boats, and trained their heavy machine guns, RPGs, and weapons on us. Another six boats were closing in on us. We realized our efforts to reason with these people were not making any headway, nor were we able to calm some of the individuals," Air said. "We realized that had we resisted there would have been a major fight, one we could not have won and with consequences major strategic impacts. We made a conscious decision not to engage the Iranians and do as they asked."

Did they take a vote, or something? What's with this "we?" In a situation like that, the senior officer present assumes command and makes all the decisions. Thus, it was Air's decision; his responsibility, his the rewards or the blame.

Air added: "From the outset it was very apparent that fighting back was not an option. If we had chosen to do so, many of us wouldn't be here today."

It was, of course, an option. The movie 300 shows what is possible when a small force confronts a larger one; so does the movie Zulu. Both of these movies are based on real battles; in one, the defenders died; in the other, although many died, some lived. Again, Air will have to answer to this as senior officer present.

The crewmembers insisted they were inside internationally-recognized Iraqi waters when they boarded a ship in the Persian Gulf on March 23.

Some of the British sailors held in Iran for 13 days said they were blindfolded, stripped, interrogated and pressured psychologically and emotionally during their captivity.


Exactly what did they expect?

Lt. Felix Carman said the crew was isolated and slept in stone cells on piles of blankets.

So?

"All of us were kept in isolation. We were interrogated most nights and presented with two options. If we admitted that we'd strayed, we'd be on a plane to (Britain) pretty soon," Carman said at a news conference. "If we didn't, we faced up to seven years in prison."

Self-interest prevailed over patriotism, then. Didn't seem to need much persuading, did they?

I don't think they'll be stood against a wall and shot like Admiral Byng, but I don't think they'll be getting any medals for this, either.

Cruise Ship Sinks Off Santorini Island


Article.


Questions to ponder, such as:

1. Why didn't the captain of the ship run it aground rather than move to open water where there was a chance of sinking and total loss, as appears to have happened? Possible answer: Santorini is a volcanic caldera island, and may have steep-sided sloped shores rather than shallows where the ship could have been beached.

2. Is water-tight integrity of lesser importance than in previous years? What sort of damage was done to the ship that it sank less than 24 hours later? Did the crew make an effort at damage control at all?

3. Was the ship profitable to the owners? A sinking results in a total loss, obviously. Financial shenanigans the cause of the sinking? On a ship full of passengers, many of them litigious Americans, that would seem to be a bad proposition.

We'll hear more in the coming days, obviously.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

They Shot Admiral Byng, Remember.

The British sailors captured and later freed by Iran have returned to UK.

The have to undergo debriefing, etc. Already speculation is rampant on the conservative blogs about the private reception they'll get from the Navy and the UK government.

The sailors and marines didn't particularly cover themselves with glory or otherwise act in accordance with standard operating procedure for prisoners/captives. Frankly, they've been a disgrace.

It's possible that circumstances prevented them from resisting capture, e.g., rules of engagement that prohibited it, or even not giving them ammunition for their guns, which is often done in my (admittedly limited) experience.

Still, the marines and sailors should be worrying about the example that was made of Admiral Byng, who was shot for failing to fight back in the powdered wig days.

Voltaire said of Byng in his novel Candide: "In this country, it is wise to kill an admiral from time to time to encourage the others."

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Martian Caves

One of our Martian satellites has discovered holes on the surface of Mars, which could be the entrances to Martian cavern systems.

via space.com.

This is a hopeful sign. Dwelling on the surface of Mars would be difficult for a bunch of reasons: low temperatures (think Antarctica), cosmic rays, and hurricane-force wind storms.

Dwelling underground in caves/mines would probably be the best chance to colonize other planets, as any SF writer will tell you.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Whose Gun Is It, Anyway?

Senator Jim Webb (D-VA) is claiming that the gun found in possession of his aide Phillip Thompson was not the senator's.

At least that's how I read the story. It doesn't seem clear at this point.

The aide can't be stupid enough to take a prison term if it isn't his own pistol. If it's Webb's, how's he going to spin it?

He can count on the media downplaying it, since he's a Democrat, and if he committed an offense so obvious that he'd have to resign, it would throw the Senate to the Republicans.

Fun story....

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Sheep, 15% Human.

via The Mail.

Apparently the sheep have political opinions; one of them nibbled on some shrubbery, spat it out, and said, "Bush baaaaaaaaad."

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Question Of The Day

I wonder why we don't have an Emergency Broadcast System for personal computers yet?

Or if we do, could someone point me at a link?

Consumer Protection Journalism - - In China

via Reuters.

Chinese journalists submitted samples of tea purporting to be urine samples to hospitals, and got diagnoses of Urinary Tract Infections in return.

Got that ol' lapsang souchong dripping out of my dong.....

Piano Owned By Chopin Found In UK.

via Reuters.

By Paul Majendie

LONDON (Reuters) - The grand piano Frederic Chopin took on his last concert tour has been found in an English country house thanks to detective work by a Swiss musical scholar.

"It came as a bolt from the blue," said British collector Alec Cobbe after discovering that the piano he bought 20 years ago for 2,000 pounds is a piece of musical history.

For more than 150 years after the composer's death, Chopin's piano vanished until Professor Jean-Jacques Eigeldinger researched the ledgers of French pianomaker Camille Pleyel.

The scholar, who had met Cobbe at a Chopin conference, came to see the collector armed with details of where and to whom all the Pleyel pianos were sold.

By its serial number, he was able to identify Cobbe's piano as the one the Polish-born composer brought to Britain on a farewell tour in 1848.

"There are only three other pianos known to have been possessed by Chopin. One is in Paris and one is in Majorca and neither of those work. The last is in Warsaw," he said.

"Ours works utterly beautifully. It is something very special when you are playing it."

Before leaving Britain to return to Paris after what turned out to be the last tour before his death, Chopin sold the Pleyel to an English aristocrat called Lady Trotter.

Bequeathed to one of her relatives, the piano ended up in a country mansion before being sent to auction and then sold to Cobbe by a dealer in antique pianos.

Chopin's piano is part of the Cobbe collection of musical instruments displayed at Hatchlands, a country house run by Britain's National Trust in the southern English county of Surrey.

It is billed as the world's finest music collection, boasting instruments owned or played by Purcell, Bach, Mozart and Mahler.

Now, after two decades in blissful ignorance, Cobbe can proclaim he possesses a Chopin grand piano.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Rat Laughter.

They have it on video, even.




h/t Instapundit

He Once Was Lost But Now Is Found

The lost NC boy scout, that is.


(AP) A rescue dog led searchers Tuesday to a 12-year-old Boy Scout, who was weak and dehydrated but alive in the rugged North Carolina mountains, about a mile from the camp he had wandered away from four days earlier.

"He was a little disoriented, but he was great," said Misha Marshall, the South Carolina Search and Rescue Dog Association volunteer whose dog, Gandalf, found Michael Auberry on a wooded ridge.


Apparently the boy has read Hatchet by Gary Paulsen:

As a Scout, Michael had had some wilderness training. His father also talked about one of Michael's favorite books when he was younger, a story about a boy whose plane crashes in the wilderness, and how the boy survives on his own.

"I think he's got some of that book in his mind," Auberry said. "They do a great job in the Scouts of educating the kids of what to beware of and tips. I'm hopeful that Michael has taken those to heart."


It's a good book for young adults to learn survival from. I recommend it without reservation.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Kids In Arkansas Find 2.5 Carat Diamond


Two kids at a state park in Arkansas found a 2.5 carat diamond.

"They thought it was a piece of mica. When they learned it was a diamond, there were many 'woo hoos' and high-fives exchanged," said Rachel Engrecht of the Crater of Diamonds State park.

She said the children found the 2.50 carat diamond during the weekend in the park, where visitors are encouraged to prospect for the precious stones.

Another park official, Bill Henderson told AFP on Monday the gem could be worth several thousands of dollars.


Probably more than that, depending on the quality of it.

Damp Squid?



Yah, according to the TimesOnline.

Pretty bad when the Times of London doesn't even know proper usage of a British metaphor.

Roanoke Times Publishes Names, Addresses of Gun Owners

Not only that, but they also compared gun owners to sex offenders.

Pretty sleazy.

h/t PoliPundit

Britney Spears, Puker


Britney Spears is bulimic and bipolar, according to an anonymous source.

Just who is this anonymous source, anyway? How come they are allowed to get away with revealing all this stuff about every celebrity out there without any obvious consequences? I'm guessing this one is from staff at the rehab facility.

It wouldn't surprise me if it's true, though. Hard to keep a smoking body with white-trash eating habits like Britney has unless you're a puker.

Joint Chiefs Chairman Puts His Foot In

The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Marine General Peter Pace, has gone on record as saying that homosexual acts are immoral.

"I believe homosexual acts between two individuals are immoral and that we should not condone immoral acts," Pace said in an interview with the newspaper. "I do not believe the United States is well served by a policy that says it is okay to be immoral in any way."

Well, I hope he's ready for the hue and cry that are about to go up, along with the summons to various Congressional committees to be scolded and scorned by the various Democrats who chair those committees. It's even possible he'll be forced to resign. The next few weeks will tell the tale.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Tribute to The Spoiler, Don Jardine



Don Jardine, who wrestled as The Spoiler, died December 16th of last year, age 66, complications of leukemia. He was Canadian by birth, passed away there.

He was one of the two "heels" who most made an impression on me as a youngster, the other being Buddy Colt. Both were soft-spoken and very menacing, not given to shouting or lots of gesticulation/facial contortion. Cold, cold men, scary wrestlers.

The Spoiler was lean and in great shape compared to many wrestlers, and his sense of balace was extraordinary. He was the first wrestler I ever saw walk the top ring rope in perfect balance, no swaying or hesitation, as if he was on the mat below. (I understand he taught The Undertaker this skill). He used an "Iron Claw" as a submission hold. Others used it as well, I remember Pak Song and The Sheik using "Iron Claw," and wrestlers relying on Germanic/Nazi images seemed to particularly specialize in the move: Siegfried Stanke or Fritz von Erich come to mind. (I may be having a memory lapse on these, if I am, forgive me).

Don Jardine wrote some poetry after his retirement; here's one of his poems:

Dreams

I dream of sun and mountain streams too soon
The ones that flow through my life at noon
They ripple their waves against my sands of time
As if this pleasure was as tasty as gushes of wine

Yes, my dreams sometimes take the low road of shame
But then I escape to a sanctuary of higher up fame
As the wind coils it's life around the unforgiving sea
Only then will I see the meaning of sky blue trees.

I hear the spirit tree of life making a silent scream
Exploring the murky clouds soul searching for my lost dream
When will the sky release it's last snow flake earth-bound
I realize my passionate awakening alarms my sleepless sound

Donald Jardine

Copyright ©2007 Donald Jardine



Donald Jardine, The Spoiler. Rest In Peace.

Texas Rattlesnake Roundup Vs. Ecologists

via Reuters.

It's time for the annual rattlesnake roundups in Sweetwater, Texas, and the ecologists are there to register their formal ecological disapproval:

"There's no glory in rattlesnake hunting," said Lee Fitzgerald, an associate professor and curator of amphibians and reptiles at Texas A&M University.

Hunters scour the arid landscape for snake dens, into which they pump gas fumes to drive them out. Then they snatch them with the tongs.

Hunters say the fumes have minimal ecological impact but many scientists disagree.

"It's an unethical way to hunt and it harms other animals such as scorpions and rodents," said Fitzgerald.


Frankly, I'm not going to be overly concerned with the welfare of rats and scorpions, thanks all the same.

A Few Thoughts On Comic Books


Since the death of Captain America in the most recent issue of that comic book, I have been reflecting on a comment someone made; it was possibly by Joe Quesada, the publisher of Marvel, to the effect that based on letters he received, liberals think Captain America would be joining protesters marching against the Iraq war, and conservatives would want Cap to go to Iraq to kick Saddam's ass. It's another profound example of the political divide in the US right now.

I started wondering: would Marvel, for example, be able to increase its market share and number of comics sold if it catered to both red states and blue states?

Is that a good thing? Would it lead to the hardening of the divisions?

Isn't the same thing happening in the music industry? Country music is divided in red and blue camps now, isn't it?

Saturday, March 10, 2007

World's Hottest Chili Pepper: From India

via CNN.

It's called the Bhut Jolokia, or ghost chili.

On the Scoville units scale, the Bhut Jolokia measures 1,001,304, or twice as hot as the next hottest, the Red Savina. By comparison, the typical Mexican chili measures 1500, and a jalapeño comes in at 10,000.

Imagine that one being used in pepper spray for crowd control.

Sincerity and Honesty: I Like That In A Writer.

In an article about the death of Captain America, I happened to glance at the small blurb that the writer, Steve Shives, included in his author profile:

I'm not especially intelligent or eloquent, but I'm honest, independent and prolific, so chances are I'll stumble over an insight here and there. Thanks for reading, and don't be shy with the feedback.

This is self-effacing, sincere and very charming. It makes me happy to see a writer make a statement like that about himself, especially in these days of arrogance and snark.

Thank you, Steve.

Volcanoes On Io, Jupiter's Moon: Extraordinary!



via NASA.

Good article for those interested in volcanoes and space.

There are plumes from two different volcanoes in the photograph, positioned at 9:00 o'clock and 11:00 o'clock.

Apparently the fierce tidal pull of Jupiter and the other moons causes the vulcanism on Io(see animation toward bottom of article).

Friday, March 09, 2007

First Captain America, Now Lassie.

The news isn't good these days. Marvel Comics killed off Captain America, and now I read that Lassie died in a fire while saving her family.

These deaths always happen in threes, you know. Who'll be next? Bozo the Clown? Kermit from Sesame Street?

It gives me the shivers just thinking about it.

New Edged Tool Arrives!



A Bark River Woodland. A2 steel and handle scales of bone, jigged to resemble stag. A2 is a nice old tool steel, it will take a patina and even rust if you don't care for it. Bone jigged to resemble stag is an old cutler's trick, this is one of the better efforts you'll see, it's possible that the Bark River people did it with CNC machines. The sheath is a little too heavy for the knife, and a little too small, too. The knife should slide easily into and out of the sheath; this one must be forced in or out, thus making it damned dangerous. I'm willing to bet that Bark River uses this sheath for all the knives of this pattern, not taking into account diffent handle materials; I'm betting that this knife of mine has thicker handle scales than if it had Micarta scales.

$108.00, all told. Nice knife.

UPDATE: after soaking in water for several hours to soften the leather, I put the knife in the sheath and wet-molded the sheath to the knife. This is the technique used by holstermakers to custom fit guns, and is called boning. I'm happy to say that after the boning, the knife and sheath are better matched now, and I'm much happier with the sheath.