Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Gas Prices Soaring

Yet gasoline is relatively cheap. Cockeyed.com did a survey of the cost of other liquids. Here are a few U.S. prices per gallon:

Unleaded gasoline
Lowfat milk
Starbuck's plain latte
Liquid Nails
Red Bull
Tabasco sauce
Liquid Paper
Chanel No. 5 perfume


The Government They Deserve

To quote Adlai Stevenson, who was quoting G.B. Shaw, who probably was quoting Thomas Jefferson, who was quoting Joseph de Maistre, people get the government they deserve. When jokes started flying following the election that distraught Democrats were going to move to Canada, they were fine as jokes. But some are taking this idea seriously. The Seattle weekly paper, The Stranger, went so far as reassure the blues that they didn't need to emigrate, that's a bit much.

It was one election. Get over it. Taking your marbles and leaving is childish. If you are unhappy with the results, work to get someone else next time. To paraphrase a philosopher, "If you don't like the party, don't leave in a huff."

Living Land Mine Flags

A Danish company, Aresa Biodetection, has developed genetically modified flowers that change color when they grow over a land mine. Seems that the mines give off nitrogen dioxide gas over time, and when the plant's roots detect this, the petals change color. The company wants to distribute the Arabidopsis thaliana (Thale or mouse cress) in mine heavy areas of the third world. Arabidopsis thaliana is the first plant for which the complete genome has been sequenced.

Startus Interruptus

NPR's Morning Edition today covered a story about some car dealers installing remote starter interrupters on cars sold to people with poor credit. If they miss a payment, the dealer turns off the car. No more trying to repossess it. They say it's not stopping most buyers, but I'm skeptical., Then again, I'm always skeptical.

Monday, November 29, 2004

Sleeping In Airports

The site describes itself as: For travelers who are REALLY on a budget! Sit back....get out your travel itinerary and plan which airports you're going to sleep in (or avoid altogether) during your next trip.

War On Terra Stops River

Homeland Security is at it again. This time they have blocked the Milk River from crossing the Canadian border into Montana. A a top Whitehouse official said "It doesn't have a passport, for Pete's sake!"

Going Down?

The Centers for Disease Control report that the birth rate among girls between 10 and 14 is the lowest it has been since 1946. 10 to 14!! Other groups are down too. In fact, there is a lot more going down all over. It seems that the reason isn't abstinence, or condom use, or sex education, it is due to more girls deciding that oral sex isn't intercourse. I guess politicians do act as role models.

Roll Your Own Headlines

The folks who brought us Wikipedia are now taking a venture into the news game. Wikinews is run on the same priciples, where anyone can edit anything at anytime. Given how the mainstream media often ignores stories, this could be interesting.

Sunday, November 28, 2004

4 Inch Tsunami Strikes Japan

There was also a 7.1 magnitude earthquake that struck Japan's northern island of Hokkaido early Monday. The surf was definitely not up.

I Shot An Arrow Into The Air....

... And ended up charged with a felony. That's what happened to a man in Sweden who fired three arrows with attached cell phones and a charger over the wall into Mariefred high security prison. Can you hear me now?

Neon Thongs Good To Glow

An MBA student at Rice University has developed glow in the dark underware. Presumably for those who can't find theirs with both hands. Beau Carpenter, who also works at NASA, was trying to develop glowing jogging suits, but seems to have run out of material. The battery powered units are available in blue, pink and yellow, with both wall and car chargers though I'm not sure why.

Saturday, November 27, 2004

Piss Off The Bridge, Not On It

Everyone knows you are supposed to piss off the bridge, not on it. And, hopefully, downwind.

It seems that residents on Palembang on the Indonesian island of Sumatra haven't learned this bit of wisdom. So many of them have been urinating on the steel pillars of the Ampera bridge that the steel is dissolving. Maybe the bridge builders should try porcelain.

Brothel Bonuses

Some employers in Queensland, Australia are giving their employees free trips to local brothels. Talk about spreading Christmas cheer!

DHS Saves Disneyland From Skydiving Santas

Santa can bungee jump, use a hot air balloon, or even arrive by sleigh, but he can't skydive into Disneyland. A local shopping center in Anaheim has had parachuting Santas since 1999, but no more. No telling what kind of evil toys he might have in his sack, so Homeland Security must protect us.

It is interesting to note that only Disneyland in California and Disneyworld in Florida have such protections. No other amusement park does. The feds continue to save Mickey from Khrushchev, Santa, or any other would-be terrorist.

Sex On The Beach Means Sand In The...

Babewatch beauty Carmen Electra tells us that having sex on the beach isn't all it's cracked up to be. She says that "Sand gets everywhere." Go figure! The article says that she speaks from experience. The cranberry juice probably gets all sticky too. She goes on to say ""I don't see what's wrong with good old traditional sex. I like sex in my bedroom." A traditionalist.

Friday, November 26, 2004

MS Upgrade Crashes 80K PCs In UK

The British Department of Work and Pensions was brought to a halt last Monday when the BSOD brought as many as 80,000 workstations in the agency down. Reports say that EDS (who manage the agency's IT) were trying to upgrade some systems from W2K to XP. The problem took days to resolve, and Microsoft actually flew people in to get it fixed. The average user can't even get them on the phone.

Our Sovereignty Is Worth More Than Your Sovereignty

That's the position of the U.S government, and it's blackmailing dozens of countries with the threat to withhold aid unless they agree. What's wrong with this picture?

Canada Has No Shortage Of Strippers

So says a University of Toronto professor. I'm sure everyone was worried about this.

Potlatch For Postage

Ebay has been a huge boon to those of us who just can't bear to throw some things out. Getting some money makes the separation tolerable. But there are some things that you can't even sell on Ebay. Kalamafree offers to fill that niche. For the cost of postage, you can have anything listed on their site. Likewise, you can list anything you want to get rid of, so long as you are willing to send it to a new home, postage paid. A 21st century potlatch.

Thursday, November 25, 2004

A Picture Is Worth...

There are lots of commercial CAD packages available, but all can be quite expensive. Ikea is known for their do it yourself furniture. Now they are providing a set of tools to help you cram more of their furniture into your home. Their Office and Kitchen Planners are free to download, though they do focus on a single brand of furniture for some reason.

Ring My Chimes

To heck with making telephone calls! Fill this 3oz stainless steel flask with Vodka, and you won't care if they can hear you now.

Travel Delays

For those of you traveling for the holidays, check out your delays with the FAA:

One Vote Per County

In the closest Governor's race in Washington State history, out of nearly 3 million votes cast, Dino Rossi is leading by one vote per county, or a total of 42 votes! Whoever is finally "declared" the winner, no one is going to be satisfied with this.

The Force Is Strong

Well, it's time for the annual retailers appreciation days. The first item of note is this cable, TV and VCR remote control disguised as a Star Wars Jedi Light Sabre. Not only does it change channels, it makes noises and lights!

737 == Da Bomb?

When I worked for the FAA, we always called the 737 Superpig for its inability to keep up with other jet traffic. Now it looks like The Pig will become The Bomb.

The U.S. Navy has decided to replace its venerable P3 anti-submarine aircraft with new 737 bombers. The aircraft will be equipped with anti-submarine radar, an electro-optical-infrared camera and Magnetic Anomaly Detectors, rotary magazines for dropping sonobuoys, Harpoon missiles, torpedoes, mines, or nuclear or conventional depth bombs. Must be Boeing's consolation prize for screwing the pooch on the 767 tanker bid.

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Royal Use For AOL CDs

Here is someone with an answer to the perennial question, "What can you do with all those @#$%^& AOL CDs, besides throw them out?"

Inventing The Wheel

At some point RSN I plan to start a blog called Prior-Art (or PriorArt, depending where I host it) to highlight new ideas, and to take a shot at some of the nonsensical patents being issued these days.

One brilliant idea this week is from a guy who patented the round paper towel. What did we ever do without this essential kitchen tool?

MSN Recommends Firefox?

The Seattle PI ran a recent story on Microsoft's disappointing new MSN Search. Along with the story, they showed a screenshot of the new service. The photo came from Microsoft via AP. Reader Dror Levin noticed that the browser being used was Firefox! He passed this gem on to the Israeli site NRG Maariv. Microsoft's PR firm Waggener Edstrom denies any use of Firefox. Just like Hotmail doesn't use BSD.

Undercover Teletubbies

In 1997 Bill Clinton ordered all federal agencies to add child-oriented Web pages to their web sites. The results? We have such gems as the NRO's Whoosh Goes Satellite, the CIA's "Ace Photo Pigeon" Harry Recon, and the NSA's Crypto Cat. Your tax dollars at work.

Potemkin Police Car

Contractor Rick Pyburn wanted to slow down traffic in an Albany, OR neighborhood. So he had a sign shop use a photo of a patrol car to make a plywood sheriff's car to scare drivers. The project was so successful that he plans to market them commercially.

Stealth Abortion Act

With remarkably little notice, Bush and the lame duck congress have inserted new restrictions on abortion information and access into the $388 billion budget just passed. The new law will enable federal funds for all health care providers and insurance companies, even those that "ignore Roe vs.. Wade and state and local laws and regulations [on abortion information and services] currently on the books." The legislators managed this without any of those pesky public hearings or input from interested groups. What a timesaver!

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Evolution Inaction?

I often comment on things saying that one should "Think of it as evolution in action." Problem is, according to a recent Gallup poll, only a third of Americans believe that evolution is a scientific theory well supported by the evidence. NPR's Science Friday last week covered how local school boards are handling (or more often mishandling) the teaching of evolution. Makes me afraid we are really heading for the kind of country shown in Heinlein's If This Goes On. Scary. At least it is to me!

Hunter Exceeds His Limit

Lots of stories about the hunter in Wisconsin who went on a rampage and shot eight other people, possibly in a dispute over hunting on private land. Not to make light of the situation, but it does bring to mind this piece by Tom Lehrer from the 1960's.

Monday, November 22, 2004

Turkey Wheels

Automotive TurkeysForbes takes their annual look at the year's worst automotive turkeys. Specifically, they cover "(1) the car that has been recalled the most this year, (2) the new car with the lowest projected reliability, (3) those cars which had the worst crash-test results and (4) those which are projected to retain the lowest percentages of their values." Are you driving one of these?

Laser Audit Trails

If you thought the days of being able to trace a document back to the typewriter that had produced it are long gone, think again. It seems that the feds have been secretly making laser printer, fax, and copier manufacturers embed the unit's serial number or other ID on all the documents you produce. According to PC World magazine, if you shine a blue LED on a printed page and use a big enough magnifying glass, you will see this information in 1mm sized yellow dots printed about every inch on the page. Xerox has admitted that they've been doing this for 20 years!

Saturday, November 20, 2004

Turning Water Into Wine

Or in this case, turning cheapo Vodka into something like Ketel One. A team of dedicated researchers sets out to discover if they can turn cheap Vladimir Vodka into something five times the cost by filtering it through a common Brita water filter.. Their saga follows.

P.S. Avoid the Ketel site itself. Nasty flash screen takeover.

Friday, November 19, 2004

How To Steal Wi-Fi

If you've ever done any wardriving, you know how insecure most WiFi networks are. Slate has a primer on how to access an open WiFi system. I can't even really call it breaking in, because mostly the door isn't even locked. No news here for the bad guys, but maybe it will help you keep your network more secure.

Four And Twenty Dongles Baked In A Pie

First there were flash drives built into Darth Vader Pez dispensers. Then USB keys masquerading as sushi. Next came the thumb drive shaped like a thumb on Ebay. Now, just in time for the holidays comes the mince pie dongle. The reality-check quotient on the latter is fairly low, and it appears to be a gag enticement for a UK computer magazine.

No More Mr. Nice Guy

If your problem is that you are the perennial nice guy who can't get anywhere with women, here is the course for you. For $1000, a three day workshop will teach you Badboy techniques for lady-catching and keeping. The instructor claims a 70% success rate!

Thursday, November 18, 2004

The 90-50 Rule

Gadgetopia brings us this useful rule of thumb. When you are 90% done with your project, that means you have only 50% left to do!

Rolling, Rolling, Rolling....

Speaking of tires, a French company called Osmos has developed a wheel technology that does away with the center hub. This is supposed to have all kinds of mechanical and performance advantages, most of which elude me since the descriptions are French technobabble munged into English. Neat concept though. I wonder how they would change a tire?

I Really Need To Learn Photoshop

Someone clearly has too much time on their hands, judging by this collection of Photoshopped images of a guy changing a tire at Fark. Lots and lots of images....

Mad Whatsis Disease

There is a lot of noise going on about another possible case of Mad Cow Disease, also called Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy or Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease in the U.S.. Don't you love these names?

Anyway, the interesting thing is that all the reports talk about "the animal". Well what kind of "animal" was it? Are they withholding the species pending notification of next of kin? Are they afraid there will be some sort of a run on ________ (fill in the blank; A: Goats, B: Sheep, C: Squirrels, D: Possum, E: None of the above)? After all, it couldn't possibly be a cow!

Philadelphia Wireless In Dutch?

When I predicted that municipal WiFi systems would not become popular, I never expected that one reason would be because states would ban them! Philadelphia is now facing just such a ban from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, which in turn is being pressured by cable companies and the LECs an RBOCs who (surprise!) see free WiFi as a threat. Go figure.

If you step back and look at this, it might be a good thing. Governments have no business running businesses. Granting a license to one company to operate as a monopoly is almost as bad. What other models are there for "free" WiFi access?

Frankly My Dear, I Don't Know What They're Smoking

The American Film Institute has compiled a list of what they consider to be the top 400 movie quotes (PDF) of all time to celebrate 100 years of American Movies. This will be the eighth annual celebration of 100 years of American movies! Kind of a Jack Benny theme?

In a medium that is simply awash with great quotes and tag lines, this list contains so many duds it's remarkable. From this mixed bag, a panel of judges are supposed to pick the top 100. Some of the lame quotes include:
  • Shut up and deal.
  • I like to watch.
  • What a dump.
  • That dirty, double-crossin' rat!
  • How do I look?
  • Come out, come out, wherever you are!
  • Forget about it.
  • Damn!
  • Hey, lady!
  • Well, nobody's perfect.
I can only assume that these and others like them are there so that the panel is steered to the better choices offered. At least, that's a charitable explanation.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Nude Surfing

In a poll of Canadian shopping habits, the Vancouver Sun found that 14% of our neighbors to the north in B.C. like to be naked while shopping on line. No mention of how many of them are alone while naked and shopping.

What kind of Superhero are you?

Click on the image to take the test and find out.

Eating Fish Hurts Their Feelings

In a move that is clearly long overdue, PETA has launched the Fish Empathy Project. According to the Fish Empathy Project manager for the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, Karin Robertson, 24, and daughter of an Indiana fisheries biologist, "Fish are so misunderstood"..."Fish are intelligent beings." Poor little fishies!

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Playboy's Women of McDonald's. Mmmm... McBoobies

McDonald's employee Cristy Creighton, featured in the pictorial, called it anAs part of Playboy's ongoing quest to cover all possible categories of women, they have now done a spread on the land of the two all-beef patties. I wonder if you can get fries with that?

Help Poor Mrs. Arafat

Poor Mrs. Arafat. Her husband stashed billions, and now she needs your help to spend them. We also have beachfront property in Arizona at incredible prices.

Akubra May Soon Be Old Hat

Jackaroos, the Australian version of the cowboy, have traditionally worn the bush hat known as an Akubra. In a move to protect the Jackaroos against themselves, the New South Wales state government has issued safety rules that require anyone working on horseback to wear a helmet. This follows a case where a ranch owner was convicted and fined $96,000A ($72,000US) last month for failing to provide an employee, Daniel Croker, 23, with an equestrian helmet. Croker was killed when he was thrown from his horse and then dragged and trampled. How does a helmet protect you from being trampled?

Mal Peters, president of the New South Wales Farmers Association countered that there is no helmet a farmer can use when the temperature reaches 113 degrees. And, of course, if the Jackaroos switch from the standard wide-brimmed hat to a no-brim helmet that will all be at much higher risk for skin cancer.

Red Light, Green Light, 1-2-3

If you speed through the city of Pleasanton, CA, you won't find traffic cameras ready to give you a ticket. What you will find are traffic lights that will detect your approach, and turn red in your face. Then the old fashioned cop gives you a more expensive ticket for blowing through the red light.

Happy Birthday Electronics

The American Vacuum Society (no, not the makers of rug cleaners) has declared November 16, 2004 to be the 100th anniversary of the invention of the vacuum tube (or the thermionic valve for you Europeans) by John Fleming. Like everything else, there was a great deal of prior art that lead up to this invention, but this single device formed the foundation for all modern electronics.

Monday, November 15, 2004

The Shallow End

I used to wonder how some sales clerks can't make change with a digital cash register. Westmoreland County, PA prosecutors dropped the charges against Deborah L. Trautwine, who tried to pass a $200 bill like this one in a clothing store. The store clerk not only took the bill, but managed to return the correct change. For the numismatically challenged in the audience, the largest US bill is the $100 note. These two, along with the woman who tried to spend a $1 million dollar bill at a Wal-Mart are fishing from the shallow end of the gene pool.

Perpetual Notions

In an article that might as well have been in Greek, Pravda attempts to explain that Russian scientists have invented a perpetual motion machine. The article is full of technobabble that is either a very poor translation, or was written by a former author of Soviet 5-Year Plans. Vy gavarit'e pa-russki? Maybe you can make more sense of this.

Fly The Friendly Skies. Not!

Former Congresswoman (R-ID) Helen Chenoweth-Hage was on her way from Boise to Reno, and was ticketed on a United Airlines flight. When she got to the airport, the hall monitors singled her out, and wanted to search her, possibly because she was on a one-way ticket. Ms. Chenoweth-Hage insisted on seeing a copy of said regulation before submitting to the search. Just the regulation, not the criteria used to apply it. She wanted to know "Why they're shaking down a 66-year-old white grandmother they greeted by name."

Local TSA security director Julian Gonzales (who has since been replaced) refused to show her the regulation, and refused to allow her on the aircraft. When asked why he wouldn't show it to her, he responded "Because we don't have to." He went on, "That is called 'sensitive security information.' She's not allowed to see it." Chenoweth-Hage rented a car to drive to Reno (and lost $100 to a change fee).

The ultra-conservative former Congresswoman wants the government to show her the new rule that's made pat-downs mandatory since Sept. 20. Sounds reasonable if you read the Fourth Amendment: "The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized."

What Can You Do With Fruitcake Soda?

Last week I mentioned that Jones Soda was going to offer special holiday flavors, notably Turkey & Gravy and Green Been Casserole. The Holiday Packs sold out quickly, with some sets going on Ebay for over $100!

The crew at X-Entertainment has actually opened one set of bottles, and reports on the resulting taste test. The consensus: stick with Pepsi Holiday Spice instead.

Sunday, November 14, 2004

What Beer Goes With A Hurricane?

Wal-Mart may have the largest data mining storage farm extant. When they queried their 450 Terabyte database for statistics on sales before Hurricane Charlie to help stock stores for Hurricane Frances, they made some unusual discoveries. It was expected that demand for flashlights and survival supplies would go up. But who knew that "Strawberry Pop-Tarts increase in sales, like seven times their normal sales rate, ahead of a hurricane," Linda Dillman, Wal-Mart's chief information officer said. "And the pre-hurricane top-selling item was beer." FWIW, the Pop-Tarts were probably not bought to be used as incendiaries.

Fire, Fire, Burning Bright

Why someone would want to have a fireplace burning on their desktop is beyond me. For those who do, and want to spend $300+ for the privilege, Unica has just the thing. Made of stainless steel so it will last while the rest of your house burns down.

Saturday, November 13, 2004

A Weed Is A Weed

Tumbleweeds (aka Russian Thistle) are the bane of the western states. They are good for nothing, and blow across the landscape, piling up wherever they are stopped by a wall or a corner. The common way to get rid of them is by burning, and they go up like a flare. When I lived in Albuquerque my neighbors thought I might be burning down the house on a couple of occasions.

Take another problem. NATO forces have been using depleted uranium for tank ammunition for years. The British alone used two tons of the stuff around Basra in Iraq. It litters the landscape, and has been blamed for everything from Gulf War Syndrome to lung cancer.

Now the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology in Socorro has found a use for tumbleweeds and a way to clean up depleted uranium. “There is some use to what we consider noxious weeds,” said geologist Dana Ulmer-Scholle.

The weeds grow quickly, and use little water. For some reason they seem to absorb uranium from the soil. However, no one seems to mention how to get rid of the tumbleweeds after they are done. You certainly couldn't burn them.

Sharper Image Ionic Breeze Purifier Sucks

So says Consumers Union, and a court in San Francisco has agreed. Consumers Union's magazine, Consumer Reports. (subscribers only) did a review of air cleaners, and panned the Sharper Image unit. SI sued, claiming that the testing methods were flawed. The court threw out the case, saying that SI had no evidence on which to base their claim. While I'm no fan of Consumer Reports, everything I've ever tried (including an Ionic Breeze) that had a Sharper Image brand on it has been a piece of crap.

Update: If you absotively, posolutely have to have one anyway, the desktop model is 50% off this month. Gee, I wonder why?

Friday, November 12, 2004

Fiat Lux!

When I lived in Albuquerque in the 1970s, a lot of my friends worked on the Airborne Laser Lab project at Kirtland A.F.B. Now comes the news that after 30 years of effort, they have finally managed to fire the damned thing. They successfully tested it last Wednesday at Edwards Air Force Base in California. No word if they actually managed to hit anything.

To The Batcave Robin

When the local council planners refused to allow Stephen Brown of Cockermouth in Cumbria England to build a garage at his house, he went underground. Literally. He hired a contractor, dug a big hole in the ground, and installed a hydraulic lift. The council didn't seem to have any problems with that.

Trains Are Dangerous. Who Knew?

Another nominee for retroactive birth control. Patricia M. Frankhouser of Jeannette, PA is suing the Norfolk Southern Railroad for at least $120,000 after she was injured by a train while walking on the tracks. She says no one warned pedestrians that trains travel on tracks! Her injuries? A broken finger and some cuts.

More Fiber For Your Diet

Autoblog points to a company offering carbon fiber toilet seats. It even includes chrome brackets. That should help get you up to speed.

Today Windows. Tomorrow, The World

In a move of breathtaking scope even for Microsoft, the boys in Redmond have drafted a licensing agreement covering 130 (!) Internet protocols. These include HTTP, DNS, POP3, ping, SNMP, DNS, LDAP, Bluetooth, and even AppleTalk. MS then generously allows recipients of the license to use these properties royalty free. How nice of them.

Thursday, November 11, 2004

On the Seventh Day, They Sued

The Christian right is at it again. Manipulating the world to meet their own religious agenda. There have been long and acrimonious battles in Texas and Georgia over the teaching of evolution vs. creationism in classrooms. In Texas they passed legislation requiring all abortion clinics to tell women that abortions lead to breast cancer. This is like saying masturbation leads to blindness. Anyone remember Galileo?

Charity Terrorists

Unnoticed amongst all the other Homeland Security impedimentia that has been imposed on the American public, there is now a requirement that all of the 10,000 charities that receive federal dollars must check their personnel against the government terrorist list. This seems to be similar to the list that is used to bar people like Senator Ted Kennedy and Cat Stevens from flying.

13 large charities are suing the government over this. "We are charities, not law enforcement agencies," said a spokesperson. Given the government's unimpressive track record screening terrorists, how do they expect anyone else to do a better job?

Hydrogen Fuel. $15 per Gallon

Shell has opened the first hydrogen fuel station in Washington D.C. at a cost of $2 million. A government subsidized $2 million, of course. Since this is inside the Beltway, it should come as no surprise that there are currently a grand total of six (count-em 6!) vehicles in the capitol area able to run on hydrogen fuel. Your tax dollars at work.

Killing Private Ryan

Local ABC stations are planning to refuse to air tonight's scheduled movie, "Saving Private Ryan". They cite indecency concerns and possible FCC sanctions in the wake of the Super Bowl Janetboob incident. The irony is that this is will be the third broadcast of the same unedited version of the film. ABC ran it previously on Veterans Day in 2001 and 2002. Even the Parents Television Council announced that they would not file a complaint over the telecast of "Ryan," because the content is not gratuitous. It's a case of PC über alles.

Most Annoying Resume

Here's a contender for the title Most Annoying Resume. The whole thing is rendered in Flash, which makes it completely useless as a CV. He also uses a hard-coded IP address for the URL, one of my pet peeves, and usually an indication of a lack of experience in real world environments. But he does get points for originality.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Big Dig Leaks Like A Sieve

It took 40 years and $15 billion (from an original estimate of $3 billion) to complete the Big Dig, otherwise known as Boston's Central Artery Tunnel Project. Now engineers are finding it has hundreds of leaks that could take ten more years to fix. Maybe they'll just decide to rebuild the original elevated roadway instead.

The Iceman Cometh?

The new Tom Hanks movie notwithstanding, NationalGeographic.com is reporting that the Arctic ice cap is melting so rapidly that it may be gone by the end of the 21st century! Loss of the Arctic ice would raise sea levels by about 7 meters (23 feet) worldwide, flooding some of the most populous regions. Other consequences include the extinction of many species, opening sea routes between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, and changes in ocean currents and climate patterns.

But many believe that the effect of this warming trend will boomerang, eventually resulting in a new ice age. Then there is the minority view that says that the greenhouse effect is the only thing holding back an ice age that has already started.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Hey Dude! It's a Dell!

The Register has a biting article on North Carolina's decision to give Dell over $240 million in incentives in a sweetheart deal to build several plants in the state. The deal may raise constitutional issues, as the state does not offer similar incentives to other businesses, such as IBM. There is also a question about a bill to give tax breaks to small businesses that provide health insurance to its employees hasn't moved out of committee.

Drink Your Dinner

Jones Turkey & Gravy SodaFollowing up on last year's success with Turkey & Gravy Soda, the Jones Soda Company in Seattle is introducing four more holiday flavors. This year they will have holiday packs of Cranberry Soda, Mashed Potato & Butter, Green Bean Casserole, and Fruitcake Soda, as well as last years Turkey & Gravy. These will be available online starting November 11, with all proceeds going to Toys for Tots. Remember, sodas have zero calories, zero carbs, and no caffeine!

Update: The entire production run sold out the first day. You snooze, you lose!

Saturday, November 06, 2004

Map Crazy

essays & effluvia takes yet another look at the results of the recent election. Actually, it takes several looks, all interesting and some amusing, including the pork barrel Red vs. Blue map, the United State of Texas map, and Jesusland.

It Couldn't Happen Hereb

Kuro5hin has a reminder that before 1984, before The Handmaid's Tale, before If This Goes On, Sinclair Lewis brought us a tale of American descent into Fascism, It Can't Happen Here. The full text is available online thanks to the University of Adelaide in Australia. Some of the parallels between Lewis's 1935 story and the present day are well worth heeding.

Friday, November 05, 2004

Secret USAF Weapons System Revealed

No, this is not the pilot of the F-16 that strafed the school in New Jersey yesterday.

My Head Hurts

From the "What the heck is it?" department, MetaFilter points without comment to this link. I spent a bunch of time clicking on these little figures, and following links, and I still have absolutely no idea what this site is all about. Someone invested a hell of a lot of resources in this.

To paraphrase a philosopher, " I'm a huge fan of subtlety, but this is so cryptic it's downright opaque!" If anyone figures it out, please drop me a line.

Windows For Warships Safe For Royal Navy

So says the British Ministry of Defence (MOD). They specified W2K as the "lowest risk choice of operating system" for the Royal Navy's destroyer Combat Management system. This despite warnings from the very engineers who worked on the project. They seem to have learned nothing from the US Navy's experience trying to run the USS Yorktown with a Windows for Warships computer system.

One Man, One Gorilla?

Christine Gregoire(D) continues to pull ahead of Dino Rossi(R) in the Washington State Governor's race. It is interesting to note that Gregoire is leading in only a handful of counties at this time. But her ~18% lead in King County is overshadowing the entire state. King County alone amounts to almost a third of the total votes counted so far. An electoral college for the state might not be a bad idea to counter the 800 pound gorilla.

Thursday, November 04, 2004

Live Flowerpots

The Flowerpot Men were the bane of my existence when I was a child visiting relatives in England. The automated flower pot developed for the One2One project at the MIT Media Lab Europe doesn't seem likely to trigger such psychological trauma. The flower pot blossoms when the right person (in this case the developer's girlfriend) logs in to the computer, and closes up when they log out. The batteries have to be watered every few days though.

Clever These Chinese

The Globe and Mail have an article on the kinds of amenities and technologies that are considered routine in China today, but would never be found in the more advanced west. Things like smart stop lights, taxis that have video advertising and real receipt printers, 7 day a week banking, and wireless waiter call buttons in restaurants. Lots more too.

Things Grow Better With Coke

Farmers in the Indian state of Chhattisgarh have discovered that spraying their fields with Coke (or Pepsi) works as well as using pesticides, and is 1/10th the cost. Agricultural specialist Devendra Sharma explains that the soft drinks coat the plants with sugar. The sugar attracts ants, and the ants eat other insect larvae. I thought Coke was mostly good for opening rusted bolts.

North And South

Here's an interesting twist on all those blue/red maps we've been seeing. USA Today has broken the Bush/Kerry vote down by counties. This is a lot more revealing than just Red-South, Blue-North.

Catholics Need To Get Laid More Often

The Pope says so. I'm going to let that stand by itself.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

As I Mature

Three Blind Mice brings us these and other words of wisdom on maturity:
I've learned that you cannot make someone love you. All you can do is stalk them and hope they panic and give in.

More on the web site.

Surprise Election Victory

The election results are in. In an surprise upset, Junior Cochran, a black Labrador Retriever has been elected as mayor of Rabbit Hash, KY. The mayor-elect beat out 13 other candidates, including a pig, turtle and several other dogs. Predictions all week long had favored Higgins the donkey, but Junior Cochran got a 1,000-vote boost in the last 20 minutes of voting. Junior hasn't really specified his priorities for office, except that "he wants to pee on all the tires," said Higgins' owner and Rabbit Hash Historical Society president Don Clare.

Battle of Midway Looms

A second battle over the Pacific island of Midway is looming. Not an attempted invasion this time, but an attempted retreat.

The U.S. Government pays $6 million a year to maintain the airport on the island, even though the airport is privately owned. And they want to pull out to save the money.

Why is this significant? After all no one goes to Midway. The catch is that the island airport acts as an emergency strip for airlines. Even though I don't think it's been used for that in a generation or more. Two engine aircraft, like Boeing's 767, 777, and 7E7 are required by the FAA to always be within 180 minutes of an airport. Without Midway, airlines would have to route trans-Pacific traffic along the Aleutians or south closer to Micronesia. This could add 90 minutes to a flight to Japan, and lots more in fuel costs.

Why don't the airlines chip in to operate the airport? They would save more than $6 million a year in operating costs.

Fly The Friendly Skies

Queen of the Sky in uniformWrite a blog, get fired. That's what happened to Ellen Simonetti, self-styled Queen of the Sky and her semi-fictional "Diary of a Dysfunctional Flight Attendant" on her life as a stewardess. (Yes I know, that's the politically incorrect term). Her employer, Delta Airlines, suspended her without notice, and then fired her. Ms. Simonetti has filed a wrongful termination suit in federal court. Hey Delta, this doesn't seem like a good way to save money.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

New Requirements For Lubricant

Autoblog points to this concept car from Ford, called the Punk. What's with the tires?

I Voted. I Think I Voted. I Hope....

I hope this is the only election day related posting I feel motivated to write, as this is being covered elsewhere ad nauseum. But the EFF is already reporting multiple cases of problems at locations around the country. BlackBoxVoting.org has this story that some Diebold machines were hacked six weeks ago, and that poll workers need to disconnect ALL modems otherwise used to transmit the vote tallies, and then hand carry the data cartridge with the vote to the election headquarters. FWIW, I mailed my ballot in yesterday. Now I just wish I had that CD player in my car.

Monday, November 01, 2004

The Road Must Roll

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If you live in the Puget Sound area, you probably know that I-405 through Bellevue has been torn up for months as they rebuild some key overpasses. Here is an incredible time-lapse video of them moving the entire eastbound 8th Street bridge over nine hours.

Update: Ooops. had the wrong video link.

Cobra Commander in 2004

SomethingAwful has a campaign video that makes about as much sense as those from the other candidates :(

See Spot. Run.

From the Excessive Political Correctness Department: Federal congressman Reinaldo Santos e Silva in Brazil has proposed legislation making it illegal to use common people names for pets. Seems he feels it would be traumatic for a child named Fido to discover a pooch with the same name. What comes next? Diapers for doggies?

Smile. You're On Candid Camera

I don't know what this Manta Ray at the New York Aquarium in Coney Island is so happy about, and I don't think I want to. Photo via BoingBoing.

Guns For Sex

India has been struggling to bring its massive population down to more sustainable levels. In a very bizarre twist, the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh had begun to offer firearms licenses in return for sterilizations! This would be odd but otherwise not notable, except that it seems the wealthy are coercing others into providing the bodies to be sterilized. Those who have .......

Spring Ahead, Never Fall Behind

The National Institute of Standards, the folks who bring you the atomic clock accurate to one second every few million years have developed a version of their Cesium clock small enough to use in a wristwatch or cell phone. Its only accurate to one second every few hundred years, but that should suffice for most of us.