Opinions 'n A**holes
A blog about things everyone has at least one of.
Ramblings on technology, liberty, evolution in action, and general neat stuff.
Tuesday, June 07, 2005
Thursday, June 02, 2005
Bin Laden Please Phone Home
Kite flying in Pakistan seems to be a dangerous pastime. During the recent annual kite-flying festival in the eastern Pakistani city of Lahore, nearly twenty people died. Two were killed when hit by a car. Six more fell off a roof. Two were hit by stray gunfire. A four year old girl's throat was slit by a metal kite string. Another electrocuted because he used wire instead of string. Seven were crushed to death. Some 500 others suffered lesser injuries. Ouch!
Inside Deep Throat
There has been lots of coverage in the media about the revelation that ex-FBI #2 man Mark Felt was the infamous "Deep Throat" source that Woodward and Bernstein used to blow open the Watergate affair. In a new article in the Washington Post, Woodward tells the story of how he met Felt, and how they came to leak one of the biggest scandals in American history. I do wonder just how long Woodward has been keeping this article in his file drawer.
Whom Do You Trust?
Oxytocin is a hormone that up until now has been chiefly of to obstetricians. They use it to accelerate labor when 1; The fetus is in distress, 2; The mother has been having contractions for too long, or 3; The OB has a tee time to meet. Now Swiss researchers have found have found that the drug in spray form can be used to stimulate trust in people who are dosed with it. This suggests abuses from insurance sales to date-rape. Better living through chemistry!
Put Up Or Shut Up
Saddam Hussein has been in jail for eighteen months now, and appears to be no closer to going to trial. The convenient fiction is that he is held by Iraq, even though his guards are from the American army. Neither group seems to subscribe to a prisoners right to a speedy trial. If they are going to hang him, shoot him, or otherwise dispose of him, lets get it over with. Hoping the ~70 year old will drop dead and eliminate the problem is a bit disingenuous.
Never Date Anyone Weirder Than You Are
Somehow, it's comforting to know that there are people out there who are significantly weirder than you are. Take this piece that Xeni Jardin posted to BoingBoing:
"Last night at Dorkbot SF, Violet Blue gave a wonderful presentation on the current state of teledildonics: the science of manipulating sex toys through the Internet. Immediately following the conclusion of her speech, Violet proceeded to manipulate a Thrillhammer in New York's Museum of Sex. But the attempt was marred by technical difficulties ranging from slow camera updates to not having the cursed thing plugged in. This was perhaps the first time in history that a room-full of people had managed to frustrate a woman 3000 miles away. In the end, however, Net Michelle did manage to get her rocks off as Violet piloted her to orgasm. The thrust of the experiment basically proved that teledildonics has made some major progress, but is also a long way from being a viable form of sexual gratification."
I don't think there is anything I can add to this.
Somehow I didn't get this on my calendar earlier, but it seems that today is National Leave the Office Earlier Day. So go home! You were probably goofing off anyway.
Tuesday, May 31, 2005
What Part Of 'NO' Are You Having Trouble Understanding?
It seems that bureaucrats an politicians are the same all over. Some politicians in Europe are trying to take France's rejection of the EU constitution as a "maybe" instead of as a "no." Spiked reports: Within an hour of the French rejecting the European Constitution, senior EU figures insisted that things might not be what they seemed. France, the press, the world, might think that 55 per cent of French citizens had voted 'No', but the view was different at the heart of the EU. As French President Jacques Chirac conceded defeat, to boos from eurocrats gathered in the commission's press centre, some of the EU's most senior leaders tried to turn a setback around by ignoring mere results and interpreting 'meaning'. More details in the full article.
Always Use Protection, II
Monday, May 30, 2005
Always Use Protection
From WebProNews: "And here's the Firefox poster that isn't going to run, at least for now (click on it for larger image):
"Why isn't it running? Because it might cause offense to some, according to comment in a post at Spread Firefox: Some time back over at SpreadFirefox.com, we started an effort to make a college poster to help spread Firefox. The results of this effort was a great poster that showed a rear view close-up of a person wearing bluejeans with a Firefox-wrapped condom in the hip pocket. The slogan was "Always use protection." Everyone involved loved it and we were days from taking it to print. The project was spiked because of concerns that it would offend some people. "
See also the article at News.com. Ironically, if you are using Firefox (or Mozilla), you'll have to turn off Adblock to see the pix.
It Takes A Thief
When the owner of a new car wash in Fredericksburg, VA found the till was coming up several hundred dollars a week short, he accused the manufacturer of the system of having duplicate keys, and of ripping him off. The loss came to thousands of dollars. In response, a video camera was installed, which caught this group of starlings ripping off quarters via the coin-return slot. This story started going around the 'net again recently, although it is actually several years old.
May the Farm be with you! One of the best Star Wars spoofs I've seen features Cuke Skywalker, Obi-Wan Cannoli, Tofu-D2, C3-Peanuts, Ham Solo, and Chewbroccoli against the forces of the evil Darth Tader. There's no attempt at matching ILM's slick effects, the emphasis is on camp and the theme of the Farm.
Friday, May 27, 2005
Big Brother Is Shopping
I walked into the local QFC supermarket yesterday to buy a couple of things, and I forgot to bring the @#$%&^!* shoppers card. This meant that I had to pay about a fifteen percent penalty. The checker tried to find me in the system, but since I had never filled out or turned in the personal info form, she really wasn't likely to find me. This all reminded me how much I really hate this whole concept. It just results in higher prices. Unfortunately, this particular store is a quarter the distance from my house as the nearest no-card store, so I fudge and do some small purchases there.
Fortunately, there may be some hope of killing the system. Jill Crowson of Bellevue, WA is suing QFC, a local chain for failing to notify her when she bought hamburger meat from a batch that was subsequently recalled for a Mad Cow scare. QFC didn't notify anyone. So Ms. Crowson is making a case that having collected all this intrusive data on our habits, the company has a duty to act when something like this recall comes along. Fear of lawsuits may kill the card system where lazy consumers haven't. I can hope.
Tuesday, May 24, 2005
There have been we sites that track the cheapest gas for some time. Now someone has coupled that information with the capabilities of Google Maps to produce an interactive display. Cool. I would have posted this a few days ago, but the site has been effectively slashdotted. It's back up now, and I doubt referrals from this blog will give them any problems.
Don't Try This At Home, Kids
The Force was not with Mark Webb, 20, and Shelley Mandiville, 17 when they fired up their lightsabers today. Either that, or the Evolution In Action police trumped Yoda. The pair was trying to videotape their own lightsaber duel in the woods some fifteen miles northwest of London, England. For the props, they used fluorescent light tubes filled with gasoline. Then they set them on fire, presumably for the special effects. The effects they got was an explosion that showered them with burning gas, and pieces of glass. The two were taken to a regional burn center, where they were given a 50% chance of surviving. They should have stuck to using flashlights instead.
Monday, May 23, 2005
Talking Phone Booths
Seattle is installing speakers and some video displays on phone booths, stores, and at the ferry terminal. The plan is for people who have visual or hearing impairments carry an RFID tag which will activate a prerecorded message with either safety and navigation information, or advertising from the adjacent store. The messages will be either spoken, or shown on the displays in American sign language. How long until the system is expanded to assault all passersby via their cell phones?
Everything you thought you knew is wrong. This seems to be a common finding in medicine. Recent research is showing that Vitamin D is essential in preventing several kinds of cancer, including lymphoma, cancers of the prostate, lung, colon and, ironically, skin cancer. But for years dermatologists have been teaching everyone never to bare their skin without a heavy sun blocker, to block ultraviolet rays that cause skin cancer. The kicker is though, the same UV blockers prevent the body from manufacturing Vitamin D, which is produced when the skin is exposed to sunlight. So which path leads to the light?
Who'r Really In Charge Here?
Friday, May 20, 2005
Revenge Of The Sixth
Speaking of the new Star Wars flick. First, in connection with the recent Photoshop article, worth1000.com is running one of its contests under the title "Cliche Hell- Star Wars". Entries cover the usual gamut of skill and taste.
Also of interest, Newsday takes a look at some of the best moments in the series (such as the endless appearance of the Imperial Star Destroyer in the opening of Episode IV, and when Han Solo shoots Greedo without giving the other guy the first shot), and the worst moments (such as introducing Jar Jar Binks, or when the Collector's Edition of Episode IV was recut to have Greedo shoot first).
P.S. Here are some trivia to look for in the movie, including a cameo by Lucas himself (spoiler photo here.)
Just A Little Gas
Burn 'Em If You've Got 'Em
Within hours of the premier, copies of Star Wars III were circulating in various formats on the net, and being sold on street corners. Techdirt is proposing that, contrary to the opinion of folks like the MPAA, this is actually a good thing for the franchise. The pirate copies will only act as teasers, and the real fans will pay to see the theater version and buy the tchotchkes anyway. Any comments?
Radio Free Boston
Or free radio in Boston. Techweb's Mobile Pipeline is reporting that grass roots wifi is doing so well, that the city doesn't have a need to try to implement a municipally run service such as those under way in Philadelphia or Rio Rancho. This kind of approach certainly appeals to my sense of laissez faire economics, and should definitely be cheaper.
Eight Is Enough
Two Chicago companies are teaming up to resolve one of life's great dilemmas. Vienna Beef has convinced
to market hot dog buns in packages of eight. For probably one hundred years, hot dogs have been sold in packages of eight (presumably because that comes out to an even one pound), while the buns have been sold in packages of six or twelve (again, presumably because bakers deal in dozens). This has resulted in an estimated wastage of some 2 million buns a year! Now if we just don't run out of mustard in the middle of the cookout...