March 19, 2012

Well, 1) It's science, and 2)...

...It validates one of my preconceived notions: THEREFORE, it must be true.

So, what prompts this sudden return from hibernation?

Finding out there is an actual name for the theory I have long espoused on this blog, namely, "It's not the stupid people who're the problem, it's the people who think they're smart."

Yep, it seems that I'm not the only one who's noticed this, and the someones who did notice are all full of psychological booklearning, therefore what they say must be completely and absolutely true.

I was cruising by Ace of Spades HQ today, and saw this interesting post talking about this exact topic, and it sent me to this article about something called the Dunning-Kruger Effect.

As best as I can tell, the stupider people are (and oddly enough, Americans in particular), the more likely they are to think they are the sharpest hammer in the toolbox.

People who actually are smart seem to understand a bit better just how stinkin' little they actually do know in the greater scheme of things, and are more likely to admit they don't know something, shut up when they're out of their element, and not try to tell everyone else how to run their bidness.

Ace's co-blogger rdbrewer notes several corollaries to this idea, and they all pretty much describe the sorts of people who alternately irritate and scare the crap out of me. And who seem, at least if voting preferences are any indication, to make up about half the population.

Which is pretty danged disheartening.

My solution? Not sure, but I'm thinking that I make up a fictional country, and start telling everyone that NO ONE can come in without special permission. All the forward-leaning smartypants types who can't stand being left out of anything will all clamor to get in, or else they'll issue a fatwa or UN resolution or boycott or whatever. Then I'll relent and tell them they can come in after all, and I'll reluctantly point them to a big door that says Stay Out (which will make them even more eager to go in), and on the other side will be a million hungry tigers and crocodiles with chainsaws. I figure about midway through the line, people will start to think it's maybe not the best idea to go in, and so I'll jump up and slam the door and tell them "NO! NO MORE!!" They'll shove me aside, of course, and the rest of them will go charging on in.

The only problem I see is not having enough hungry tigers and crocodiles, and keeping the chainsaws fueled up. I might have some of those nice electric ones--maybe even plug them into one of those big wind turbines or something, just to be ecologically-minded.

[UPDATE 4-17-12--The Return of Dunning-Kruger!]

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 08:36 PM | Comments (17)

October 01, 2009

Why I love the Internet

In the course of my work, I have to prepare "notices to proceed" for contractors on a regular basis. This is just a simple letter instructing them when a project is supposed to start.

That's the easy part.

The hard part is trying to tell them when to stop.

Every contract has a total calendar day duration, and so you have to add the requisite number of days to your start date, and that gives you your end date. Now, I can usually do a pretty good job of counting days up to around 31 or 32 or so, but since I don't have access on my computer to any of our construction scheduling software (don't ask me why), anything with calendar days past about a month reduces me to trying to add several months together in my head, ticking back or forth with a pen to the start date, and then finally to the end date. Or something. For those of us with severely diminished smartness capacity, a simple task like this amounts to a Saturn V launch. Especially when it's something oddball like 350 days or something. Or the phone rings. Or the guy's standing there waiting on you to add numbers. Or you hit yourself with a hammer.

Anyway, today I had one of those long ones with 350 days.

Being that I don't know anything, but I usually know where to look for the answer, I got to wondering if there was a handy tool on the Web that I could insert the start date, tell it how many days, and then let it do all the ciphering and give me a finish date.

Lo! And beHOLD! Three seconds of typing calendar date calculator into Google got me one such neat handy tool from timeanddate.com. (Very inventive URL, by the way!)

Anyway, it works very well--much better than spending agonizing minutes looking like a monkey with a seizure disorder trying to add up months in my head. Just another one of those tiny things that makes life pleasanter.

In other news--it's a very pretty day outside, and I love bunnies and kitties!

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 03:20 PM | Comments (3)

August 10, 2007

Speaking of Global Warming.

Just saw this highly alarming article--Arctic sea ice 'lowest in recorded history': scientists

WASHINGTON (AFP) - Sea ice in the northern hemisphere has plunged to the lowest levels ever measured, US polar specialists said, adding they expect the record low to be "annihilated" by summer's end.

In data posted on the Internet Thursday, William Chapman and colleagues at the University of Illinois Champaign-Urbana said that sea ice in the Arctic region had plunged to new lows some 30 days before the normal point of the annual lows.

"Today, the Northern Hemisphere sea ice area broke the record for the lowest recorded ice area in recorded history," Chapman, a researcher on Arctic meteorology of the university's Department of Atmospheric Sciences, wrote Thursday in the online publication 'The Cryosphere Today.' [...]

In all of recorded history!?

YES!

I found their data, and by golly, they're RIGHT! Of course, it tends to be less than satisfying when you realize recorded history extends only to 1979.

Gosh--not quite sure why this part of the data isn't mentioned in any of the articles, nor why there's no link to the actual study.

Anyway, it sure would be nice to know something from a few years earlier than 1979, though. Just for kicks, you know.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 11:41 AM | Comments (9)

August 09, 2007

Weather Update

As of 1:30 p.m.:

Temperature-- 193F
Humidity-- 36%
Winds-- W12
Visibility-- Sorta melty-looking

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 01:34 PM | Comments (0)

August 01, 2007

Stupid, stupid science guys.

Scientists Create 12-Headed Jellyfish

All that work on a dumb ol' jellyfish, but still no progress on using a computer to create Kelly LeBrock.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 07:41 AM | Comments (3)

July 31, 2007

I'm thinking at least a part of it was...

...a heavy diet of ABC Afterschool Specials.

How Giant Dinosaurs Survived Vulnerable Youth

Oh, and speaking of giant dinosaurs and vulnerable youth...



welchbc.jpg


Posted by Terry Oglesby at 09:45 AM | Comments (2)

July 30, 2007

July 27, 2007

That's pretty interesting.

Well, it is to ME, although mainly for the purely selfish reason that it's something developed down there at that cow college I went to. But also more for the fact that although I don't understand much of the science involved, it still sounds like a very simple and elegant technical innovation to an old technology.

AU-developed microscope wins Nano 50 Award

7:56 AM, July 27, 2007

AUBURN - An optical microscope system developed at Auburn University and produced and sold by CytoViva Inc. has been selected for a Nano 50 Award by NASA Tech Briefs publishers. The annual competition recognizes the most exceptional new products in the nanotechnology field.

Vitaly Vodyanoy, a professor in the AU College of Veterinary Medicine, built the prototype that CytoViva licensed and further developed as the Dual Mode Fluorescence, or DMF, module. It enables researchers to observe unaltered, living cells in extremely fine detail and without delays or extra steps for processing, which are typical of current microscopes.

It is attached to an existing research microscope, so samples are viewed directly through the microscope eyepiece and are captured using a standard microscope camera, Vodyanoy said. It extends light microscopy, offering a unique view of live cells and cell processes while they are occurring.

The patent-pending imaging system is being used by a wide range of researchers involved in infectious diseases, tissue engineering and drug delivery. Researchers can watch a fluorescently labeled drug enter a cell, be transported and observe the results on the cellular physiology and morphology.

This has a profound impact on the quality and convenience of data collection, said Chuck Ludwig, president of CytoViva. The new tool eliminates traditional, computer-enhanced overlay when imaging fluorescently labeled nanoparticles in unlabeled cells, tissue or biopolymers. [...]

Complete list of Nano 50 winners for this year here, and again, some of the stuff sounds really cool, and it's also heartening to see how many of the awards go to various NASA facilities around the country, which shows that at least a few hearty souls are out there doing some science with all that money instead of acting like a bunch of rowdy ne'er-do-wells with pocket protectors.

And kudos to the vet school AU, too--they do a lot of stuff down there, and it's more than just standing in the pasture elbow-deep in the back end of a cow.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 09:57 AM | Comments (3)

July 25, 2007

"Pinky, Are You Pondering What I'm Pondering?"

Falling mice population concerns experts

Who knew there were experts concerned with the population of falling mice!?

"I think so, Brain, but isn't a cucumber that small called a gherkin?"

Oh, and I just now actually read the whole story. Okay, that's a lie--I only read the first paragraph, but after I did that, I couldn't read any more of it:

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) Some might think fewer rodents would be a good thing, but scientists are concerned about the dwindling populations of two small fury creatures on New Mexico's list of endangered mammals.

Sorry, but small fury creatures just weird me out.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 01:51 PM | Comments (2)

Aw, shucks.

I was really excited when I saw this: Volunteers sought to be stung by jellyfish

...but doggone it all, I'd have to go all the way to Norway. It just doesn't seem quite worth it.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 12:37 PM | Comments (0)

July 24, 2007

If ever there was a species that needed a better media advisor...

Great Bustard lays eggs in Britain for first time in 175 years

It's almost like the guy who named it had some sort of personal grudge or something.

(I just read the article, and it says the eggs were infertile. That's gonna be one great big omelet!)

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 09:01 AM | Comments (0)

July 05, 2007

Yet more evidence for...

...the George Bush/Karl Rove Evil Republican Time and Weather Changing Machine! DNA test indicates very green Greenland

By RANDOLPH E. SCHMID, AP Science Writer
2 hours, 1 minute ago

WASHINGTON - Ice-covered Greenland really was green a half-million or so years ago, covered with forests in a climate much like that of Sweden and eastern Canada today.

An international team of researchers recovered ancient DNA from the bottom of an ice core that indicates the presence of pine, yew and alder trees as well as insects.

The researchers, led by Eske Willerslev of the University of Copenhagen, Denmark, say the findings are the first direct proof that there was forest in southern Greenland. [...]

Scientists offer the Time/Weather Machine as the only plausible alternative for how Greenland could ever have gotten warm enough for forestation, noting that many famous celebrities and politicians have said the scientific community has reached unanimous consensus that global warmthening can only be done by the influence of evil Republicans.

To further bolster their suspicions of some sort of time-travel device being used, researchers also reported finding a picture of an adorable kitten sitting in snow with the text "im in ur glashurz--makn thm melt!1!", which they seem confident is a sure sign of evil, sarcastic Rovian involvement in the ecosystem.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 03:39 PM | Comments (5)

June 22, 2007

Speaking of Lightning...

...but not the feline version at my house, Jim Smith sends along this peculiar article about a man in Florida struck down by a "bolt from the blue."

Obviously, we've pretty much all heard that expression, and somewhere deep in the crevices of my brain that contain the remnants of all my manly, woodsy, outdoorsy lore, that you could get hit by lightning even if there were no rain clouds nearby, but I never knew that THIS type of lightning was any different from any other sort.

Oddly enough:

[...] Experts said [landscaper David] Canales was killed by a weather phenomenon fittingly called a ''bolt from the blue'' or ''dry lightning'' because it falls from clear, blue skies. [...]

The fair-weather bolts pack a bigger, deadlier punch and form differently.

Most lightning bolts carry a negative charge, but ''bolts from the blue'' have a positive charge, carry as much as 10 times the current, are hotter and last longer.

The bolts normally travel horizontally away from the storm and reach farther than typical lightning, then curve to the ground. [...]

More about lightning of all sorts from NOAA.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 11:19 AM | Comments (2)

June 21, 2007

Hey, Cool!

Simulated trip to Mars is planned

I'll simulate being interested!

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 02:39 PM | Comments (0)

June 15, 2007

Not to be all politically-correct and all, but...

Dwarf Planet Outweighs Pluto

...but I think we're supposed to call them "little people planets" now.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 11:16 AM | Comments (2)

June 08, 2007

Defying the Stereotype

In a welcome break from my usual schtick, the headline for this story caught my eye, and and after reading it, I figured it was worth a post for one simple reason...

Ancient Egyptian City Spotted From Space

Heather Whipps
Special to LiveScience
LiveScience.com
1 hour, 39 minutes ago

Satellites hovering above Egypt have zoomed in on a 1,600-year-old metropolis, archaeologists say.

Images captured from space pinpoint telltale signs of previous habitation in the swatch of land 200 miles south of Cairo, which digging recently confirmed as an ancient settlement dating from about 400 A.D.

The find is part of a larger project aiming to map as much of ancient Egypt's archaeological sites, or "tells," as possible before they are destroyed or covered by modern development.

"It is the biggest site discovered so far," said project leader Sarah Parcak of the University of Alabama at Birmingham. "Based on the coins and pottery we found, it appears to be a massive regional center that traded with Greece, Turkey and Libya." [...]

[...] The satellite technology lets archaeologists such as Parcakthe first to use space imagery in Egyptidentify points of interest on a large scale. [...]

Well, that's just cool and I don't care where you're from. But I'm glad she's one of ours. (Even if she's originally from Bangor, Maine. Nice companion article from the UAB Reporter, here.)

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 12:51 PM | Comments (0)

June 07, 2007

Seems like I remember reading this before.

Origin of Deja Vu Pinpointed

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 03:38 PM | Comments (0)

June 06, 2007

I am shocked--SHOCKED!

New Video Likely Not Loch Ness Monster

Actually, a pretty good (if a little too short) commentary on what should be obvious.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 01:12 PM | Comments (0)

June 05, 2007

Man, this whole "Discovery of America" deal is just ALL topsy-turvy today!

First, this story: Chicken Bones Suggest Polynesians Found Americas Before Columbus, and then I just saw another story that says the FRENCH got here even before that--Ancient Frogs Rafted to the Caribbean.

I guess they sent the ancient Frogs so that in case they didn't make it back, no big deal. Still, I think I would have given them something a little bit sturdy than a raft.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 12:30 PM | Comments (2)

Maybe it's just me...

...but the cure sounds worse than the condition.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 08:36 AM | Comments (2)

June 01, 2007

May 31, 2007

Yes, and it was quickly followed by upright falling.

Did upright walking start in trees?

Reminds me of the story about the Bama grad who was laid up with a broken leg.

Seems he was raking leaves, and fell out of the tree.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 03:30 PM | Comments (0)

Okay, I'm willing to give him his due, but...

...this story irks me for its silliness: Amazing Maps Made by Founder of 1st U.S. Settlement

Heather Whipps
Special to LiveScience
LiveScience.com
2 hours, 20 minutes ago

Maybe Pocahontas had a thing for men with superior mapping skills.

Captain John Smith, the famous founder of America's first settlement, at Jamestown, Virginia, traced the Chesapeake Bay river system with remarkable precision from his primitive sailboat, geographers have discovered.

Using a sophisticated "remapping" system that merges old maps with the modern lay of the land, the team from Maryland's Salisbury University found that Smith's 1608 exploratory charting of the Chesapeake was well ahead of its time considering the tools he had to work with.

Its amazing, he mapped with a stunning level of accuracy, said team leader and geoscientist Michael Scott. Hes out there in this little boat navigating the hazards of uncharted territory and he was able to capture most major bends of the rivers and everything is pretty close to scale. His map was so accurate that it was used as the prototype of the bay for more than 100 years. [...]

Give it a rest, Bruce.

The principles of surveying are pretty simple, and its all based on relatively simple mathematics, and you can use some pretty basic tools to do just about anything you want.

Including things like building medieval cathedrals.

The fact that John Smith was able to take basic measurements of a river course is unremarkable. The fact that he was in a boat is unremarkable. The fact that his boat happened to be in unmapped land is even more unremarkable. Look, I don't have to have a map of the town in front of me to be able to measure how big a curb is and how far across the street it is to the other one.

And the fact is that although he was pretty close, if you or I did it today, we'd get just about as close. Note the article says that he "capture[d] most major bends of the rivers and everything is pretty close to scale." Despite the gushing, breathless prose of the article, "pretty close to scale" is not a big deal.

What is remarkable?

I thought a couple of things bear remembering:

[...] "Smith had a compass and a chip log (a way to measure a boat's speed through the water). He performed a process similar to dead reckoning. He would take a bearing from a couple of points on shore, thus creating an angle. Then he would sail in a given direction of one of the points, measuring distance," Scott told LiveScience. "Once you've got one length, you take bearings and angles all the way up the river."

The explorer was able to make his drawings so accurate with some old-fashioned, meticulous double-checking, Scott speculated.

"My guess is he was just careful and measured the same area a few times, perhaps up and back. If we had his log/notes, we'd really be able to tell," said Scott, "[but] those are probably buried in some attic in England." [...]

Emphasis mine.

First thing of note? 'Measure twice, cut once.' The idea of checking your work is becoming more and more uncommon in America, the idea being that someone, or more likely, "the computer" will catch errors and it's nothing to worry about.

Doesn't always work like that.

The second thing of note is that although the tools and concepts are simple to employ, he actually did know how to do use them. My kids probably know more higher math than John Smith ever knew, but they have little appreciation of how it can be used. Give them a stick and a string and a compass and tell them to measure something, and they'd more than likely be at a loss. And probably a good many adults nowadays would be, as well.

Practical skills such as this aren't taught much in schools, but it sure would be beneficial, if nothing else than to give people a bit better sense of self-reliance and autonomy.

(And here's a story in a similar(ish) sort of vein from Doc Reynolds and crew.)

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 12:11 PM | Comments (11)

Now if they could only find the other nine.

Man described as a top spammer arrested

By GENE JOHNSON
The Associated Press

SEATTLE (AP) A 27-year-old man described as one of the world's most prolific spammers was arrested Wednesday, and federal authorities said computer users across the Web could notice a decrease in the amount of junk e-mail.

Robert Alan Soloway is accused of using networks of compromised "zombie" computers to send out millions upon millions of spam e-mails.

"He's one of the top 10 spammers in the world," said Tim Cranton, a Microsoft Corp. lawyer who is senior director of the company's Worldwide Internet Safety Programs. "He's a huge problem for our customers. This is a very good day." [...]

Let's just hope he didn't decide to let one of his competitors in on his network, or else the purported downturn in spam will only be temporary--or nonexistent.

SPEAKING OF WHICH--I've apparently started spamming myself again. I get at least three or four e-mails a day with my own Gmail address as the sender, usually for online pharmacy spam. Rest assured folks--do NOT open any email you get from me that has any kind of attachment unless I've told you ahead of time I'm sending it. Don't open stuff from anyone else, either.

AS FOR OUR SPAMMER--I do hope they have a nice strudy sack to put him in, and a nice selection of shovels to beat him with.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 09:47 AM | Comments (8)

May 30, 2007

Well, then, wouldn't they not be lost?

Scientists: Lost whales may be in ocean

Remind me never to ask a scientist to help me find my car keys.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 04:28 PM | Comments (0)

[Felix Unger] When you assume, you make...[/Felix Unger]

Officials assumed T-B patient wouldn't fly after diagnosis.

There have been several articles over the past few years about various looming pandemics (or terror-related biological attacks), and this goes to show there's probably a pretty good reason to be concerned about happy-go-lucky vectors jetting about the globe. Good thing it wasn't something more highly contagious.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 03:52 PM | Comments (0)

May 25, 2007

I think the solution is self-evident.

Florida tries to wipe out cat-sized African rats

By Laura Myers
Thu May 24, 12:32 PM ET

GRASSY KEY, Florida (Reuters) - Deep in the heart of the Florida Keys, wildlife officials are laying bait laced with poison to try to wipe out a colony of enormous African rats that could threaten crops and other animals.

U.S. federal and state officials are beginning the final phase of a two-year project to eradicate the Gambian pouched rats, which can grow to the size of a cat and began reproducing in the remote area about eight years ago. [...]

Large African rats calls for large African cats. Let loose a few hungry lions and the problem should be solved in short order.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 09:47 AM | Comments (4)

May 24, 2007

Aside from the wholly gratuitous...

...slam against bloggers, a nice bit of sleuthing from The Straight Dope about the recent spider-in-the-ear kid.

Having once been a member of The Straight Dope community before a) it had a server malfunction and blowed up real good, and b) they fixed it then started charging membership fees, I find it a bit rich that anyone from a bulletin board site would have anything negative to say about bloggers in particular.

Although there were a lot of good clever folks who frequented the SD message boards, the vast majority of people who posted were incapable of rational thought or coherence. This isn't a function of the message board medium, no more than it is of newspapers or blogs--it's simply a function of something we all know. Most people have difficult time thinking rationally and expressing themselves coherently. GOOGLE IT!

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 03:51 PM | Comments (0)

Personally...

Virtual human puts doctors inside their patients

...I much prefer the idea of a tiny little Cora Peterson floating around my innards.

"Fantastic," indeed.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 01:32 PM | Comments (0)

May 23, 2007

Way to go, Mobile!

Study Reveals Top 10 Wettest U.S. Cities

Andrea Thompson
LiveScience Staff Writer
LiveScience.com
Tue May 22, 7:30 AM ET

Do you think Seattle is the rainiest city in the United States? Well, think again.

Mobile, Alabama, actually topped a new list of soggiest cities, with more than 5 feet of rainfall annually, according to a study conducted by San Francisco-based WeatherBill, Inc. [...]

Southeastern cities are so prevalent on the list because the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico fuel storms that frequently soak the region, particularly between June and November.

The study also found that in the past 30 years, the East and Southeast seemed to be getting wetter, while the West got drier. Florida, Louisiana and Alabama were the wettest states, while California, Montana, Nevada and Arizona were the driest (Las Vegas took the top spot for driest city). [...]

Speaking from experience, I can tell you this is a fact. My sister lives down there, and it rains just about every day. The difference in perception is that Seattle seems to have a lot of fog all the time, while Mobile (and the rest of the Redneck Riviera area) will have a giant thunderstorm for an hour, then it'll become bright and fair again. So, you know, not a lot of brooding, flannel-clad, disaffected youth starting garage bands, which is kinda nice.

Although, in fairness, there is that tiny issue with hurricanes.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 12:43 PM | Comments (4)

May 22, 2007

"And the password is..."

Via Jim Smith, via the Law Librarian Blog, via PC World, the Ten Most Common Passwords.

As the article says, "If you recognize yours, you may as well hand over your wallet or purse to the first person you see on the street."

Well, fine.

I've never used any of those, but if you do, in lieu of giving your wallet to a stranger, I would be glad to take it from you in conjunction with my participation in the John Edwards Don't Be Poor Ever Again Seminar.

Thanks for your support!

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 10:21 AM | Comments (8)

May 16, 2007

How very peculiar.

Greenpeace builds replica of Noah's Ark

ISTANBUL, Turkey - Environmental activists are building a replica of Noah's Ark on Mount Ararat where the biblical vessel is said to have landed after the great flood in an appeal for action on global warming, Greenpeace said Wednesday.

Turkish and German volunteer carpenters are making the wooden ship on the mountain in eastern Turkey, bordering Iran. The ark will be revealed in a ceremony on May 31, a day after Greenpeace activists climb the mountain and call on world leaders to take action to tackle climate change, Greenpeace said.

"Climate change is real, it's happening now and unless world leaders take urgent, decisive and far-reaching action, the next decades will see human misery on a scale not experienced in modern times," said Greenpeace activist Hilal Atici. "Those leaders have a mandate from the people ... to massively cut greenhouse gas emissions and to do it now." [...]

So, let me get this straight--they cut down a bunch of trees to make a replica of the Ark? Trees--those tall growy things that take carbon dioxide out of the air?

And they say that scientific evidence proves global warming is real, yet they're invoking the imagery found in a book most tree-hugging, "reality-based" community dwellers look at as nothing more than a bunch of regressive, repressive, anti-scientific, fairy tales?

And further, in the story itself, God makes a promise in His heart to the human race,

While the earth remains,
Seedtime and harvest,
Cold and heat,
Winter and summer,
And day and night
Shall not cease.

'Cause, if that's really what they meant to do, it's seems kinda at cross-purposes with their message.

But, I suppose if that's what they want to do, for consistency's sake, PeTA will be there to build an altar to God, and make a burnt offering of every clean animal and of every clean bird.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 12:20 PM | Comments (2)

May 08, 2007

Okay, so I'm a spoilsport.

Solar boat completes fuel-free voyage

Impressive!

Although it's probably worth pointing out that the Vikings did something similar with wind-driven technology around 900 years ago.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 04:17 PM | Comments (1)

Or, as we used to call it back in my day...

Methane Rocket Engine Successfully Tested

..."lighting bombers."

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 10:42 AM | Comments (6)

May 01, 2007

Mystery of the Missing Bees Solved!

Do you think there's a coincidence the governor of the state is named Huckabee? I THINK NOT!

Obviously some sort of evil Republican conspiracy is afoot!

Now if only I could figure out what a hucka is...

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 04:52 PM | Comments (0)

April 24, 2007

April 18, 2007

I am certain...

Security Council tackles climate change

...that they will tackle it with the same efficacy as they have such things as Iranian nuclear reactors and African genocide.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 09:27 AM | Comments (3)

DEMON RUM!!

It'll pickle yer liver, and it's apparently not quite the Terra-saving gift of Gaia the Greens make it out to be, either. Study: Ethanol may cause more smog, deaths

By SETH BORENSTEIN
The Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) Switching from gasoline to ethanol touted as a green alternative at the pump may create dirtier air, causing slightly more smog-related deaths, a new study says.

Nearly 200 more people would die yearly from respiratory problems if all vehicles in the United States ran on a mostly ethanol fuel blend by 2020, the research concludes. Of course, the study author acknowledges that such a quick and monumental shift to plant-based fuels is next to impossible.

Each year, about 4,700 people, according to the study's author, die from respiratory problems from ozone, the unseen component of smog along with small particles. Ethanol would raise ozone levels, particularly in certain regions of the country, including the Northeast and Los Angeles.

"It's not green in terms of air pollution," said study author Mark Jacobson, a Stanford University civil and environmental engineering professor. "If you want to use ethanol, fine, but don't do it based on health grounds. It's no better than gasoline, apparently slightly worse."

His study, based on a computer model, is published in Wednesday's online edition of the peer-reviewed journal Environmental Science and Technology and adds to the messy debate over ethanol. [...]

NO BLOOD FOR CORN!!

Anyway, just as with all the global warming hysteria, I'm not quite convinced this is legit either, being that it's based on supposition and assumptions that might not be accurate. GIGO and all. But it does go so show there are all sorts of possible unintended consequences when people start mucking around with markets and commodities to push a particular political agenda. I'm all for trying to find ways to reduce our dependence on purchasing petroleum products from Allah's Little Helpers, but it's worth remembering there's more to the equation than simply shutting off the tap.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 09:19 AM | Comments (4)

April 04, 2007

BRING ME A BUCKET!

Binge Eaters: Pythons Down Bones and All

"And finally, monsieur, a wafer-thin mint."

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 10:41 AM | Comments (0)

March 30, 2007

Quote of the Day

"It's not a job you want to try on your own."

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 11:18 AM | Comments (6)

March 27, 2007

I think I know the problem.

They're showing him pictures of pandas.

Let's face it--pretty much anyone's (including Chuang Chuang's) reaction to the sight of two randy pandas is going to be more along the lines of, "AWWWW, look how CUTE they are!"

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 11:10 AM | Comments (3)

March 23, 2007

"Pinky, are you pondering what I'm pondering?"

Genetically Tweaked Mice Get Human-Like Vision

I think so, Brain, but why would anyone want to see "Snow White and the Seven Samurai"?

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 09:50 AM | Comments (0)

March 20, 2007

I wonder...

Playing Music Makes You Smart

I wonder if this has anything to do with that famed children's rhyme that starts off, Beans, beans, the musical fruit...

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 09:57 AM | Comments (7)

"Pinky, are you pondering what I'm pondering?"

Internal Body Clock Linked to Mania in Mice

"I think so, Brain, but what kind of rides do they have in Fabioland?"

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 09:53 AM | Comments (0)

Spd Rdng Jst Gmk

Or, if you prefer, Speed Reading Just a Gimmick

Well, sure--I mean, you can move your finger and lips only so fast.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 09:48 AM | Comments (0)

March 13, 2007

Idiots.

Just witnessed yet another one of those scenes that makes me shake my head and wonder about how people can actually walk around.

A coworker was just now set off by a discussion of cigarette smoking and began complaining about all those evil SUVs spewing emissions all over her pretty clean globe. THAT'S who's bad in this whole thing, you know. Second hand smoke!? BAH! Everyone knows that SUVs put out enough emissions to equal THREE cars! It's a FACT!

On and on she went, her ox of smoking having been gored (so to speak), so she felt it necessary to lash out at something or someone else to excuse herself. And do so in the most inflammatory (so to speak) way possible, practically daring anyone to disagree with her. You know, because she's one of those progressive types who are so open-minded and tolerant and all.

Well, I learned a long time ago never to wrestle with a pig--you get dirty and the pig enjoys it. So let me just offer you good folks the benefit of actual information, rather than churning bile.

Vehicle emissions for all new cars, light duty trucks, minivans, and yes, SUVs, sold in the US since 2004 must meet all the same "Tier II" standard.

Some light trucks met auto standards even before this went into effect, although I don't know which ones or by how much. I'm not sure how to come to a best guess for just how much they diverged, but this EPA report from 2000 (.pdf) shows the total average emissions for cars and trucks (including, again, minivans, pickups, and SUVs) in the entire US fleet, and as best as I can tell, the average all cars were putting out amounted to 440.95 grams of pollutants/mile, and light trucks were 555.12 grams/mile, which my calculator says means that cars emitted about 20% less pollutants by weight per mile as did trucks.

Now I know there's a lot of apples v. orange comparisons that you could do, but it still doesn't look like even a stinky old Pre-Tier II truck was as dirty as three cars. And when you consider that most late-model trucks only put out a miniscule amount of pollutants compared to, say, my non-evil, socially-responsible '86 Volvo, it's really comes down to something that says it's all more about mere appearances (mixed in with some sort of odd class envy) than it is about actual facts.

Not like it really matters to people who've already made up their minds. Loudly.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 04:09 PM | Comments (3)

March 12, 2007

You've never seen a rabbit with glasses, have you!?

Beta carotene pills may not save eyesight

By CARLA K. JOHNSON
The Associated Press

CHICAGO (AP) Carrots, rich in beta carotene, long have been thought to sharpen eyesight, but a new study suggests that beta carotene pills are powerless against a common type of vision loss among older people.

Age-related macular degeneration is the leading cause of blindness in people 65 and older. The condition blurs the center of the field of vision, making it difficult to read, drive, thread a needle and even recognize faces. It affects more than 10 million Americans and there is no cure.

An earlier large study had shown that beta carotene when taken with certain vitamins and zinc could slow or prevent vision loss in people with age-related macular degeneration. Commercial formulations of the eye-protecting combination vitamins are sold over the counter. [...]

Odd--when your whole article is about something that doesn't work that you would turn right back around and call the thing you're writing about "eye-protecting combination."

Anyway, for those of you who might have missed it, carrots never really have been all that when it comes to improving your peepers. Here's an article dealing with just how we got to thinking that carrots made you see better. You really do need the vitamins found in carrots (and other vegetables like them) but the carrot as super-vision-maker actually began as a spoof in the early days of World War II by the RAF, who didn't want to tip off the Germans about the radar their night fighter pilots were using, and instead offered up the idea to the press that the pilots were eating lots of carrots to improve their vision.

Simpler times, eh?

Why nowadays, the mighty giants of the press (in the interest of the public's right to know) would expose the propagandists nefarious scheme, then do a detailed analysis of the radar sets (along with a handy German-language version), and then bitterly complain about the unwinnability of the conflict now that the Nazis had gotten hold of the secret.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 03:45 PM | Comments (5)

And then Sam Colt ruined everything.

Short Legs Made Human Predecessors Better Fighters

Our ape-like predecessors kept their stout figures for 2 million years because having short legs ironically gave them the upper-hand in male-male combat for access to mates, finds a new study. [...]

While I am quite proud of my ape-like 29 inch inseam that gives me great box-toting power and a very low, road-hugging center of gravity, I'll have to say that I'm glad my branch of the tree is the one that thought up gunpowder and 185gr hollowpoints.

Dumb bunch of monkeys.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 02:40 PM | Comments (2)

March 09, 2007

I wonder if it has nekkid girl mud flaps and a gun rack?

Air Force launches 6 satellites from Alabama-built rocket

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) A cluster of experimental research satellites have been launched for the Air Force.

The six satellites for the Space Test Program-1 mission were launched just after ten eastern time last night on an Alabama-built Atlas Five rocket from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. [...]

There is no truth to the rumor that each of the six cylindrical satellites were deployed by rolling down the window and throwing them at stop signs.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 08:40 AM | Comments (0)

March 02, 2007

I'm not generally one for tax increases...

...but this one is worth doing just to prove a point.

And by gum, let's not limit ourselves to "National Drive Around Aimlessly and Just Burn a Tank of Gas for the Environment Day." Let's have "The Great American Year of Driving Everywhere, Including to the Mailbox." Every little bit helps, you know.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 09:17 AM | Comments (2)

March 01, 2007

PANIC!! WE GOT US A PDS!

Well, maybe sometimes panic is good. We've got a scary bad tornado-spawning storm a'comin' this way this afternoon, and so if you've got kids in the Trussvegas school system, be aware that they've announced everything's closing at noon and there will be no afterschool activities today. As opposed to the usual blather the teevee stations seem to have become increasingly engaged in when there's even a hint of a shower, this looks to be the real thing, and a real bad thing at that.

Keep an eye out today, and stay safe.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 09:46 AM | Comments (8)

February 22, 2007

Oh, I have no doubt.

Bill Gates keeps close eye on kids' computer time

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Just because you're the daughter of Bill Gates does not mean you get to play on your computer all day long. [...]

I mean, come ON! Nobody could do that, what with the lockups or crashes or time spent on hold trying to figure out why something doesn't work.

Then again, maybe they use Macs.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 12:00 PM | Comments (2)

February 21, 2007

Consider yourself awared!

Today is Tornado Awareness Day

Also, be aware that God hates mobile homes.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 08:33 AM | Comments (0)

February 13, 2007

Pity, really.

An entire article--Flying creatures may help create aviation of future--and not one mention of the airspeed velocity of a swallow carrying a coconut.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 12:25 PM | Comments (2)

Science!

Ancient chimps may have used hammers

Which in turn leads to my hypothesis that the first types of language were cuss words, uttered after smashing a thumb with a hammer.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 09:41 AM | Comments (4)

February 08, 2007

Well, sure.

Doctors: Superbug battle is winnable

I mean, come ON, of course it is! Haven't you guys seen Starship Troopers!?

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 10:37 AM | Comments (2)

Well, I don't know much about geology...

...but I have to tell you, this story sounds like one of the most incredible finds in a long time: Rich gas deposits found in St. Clair

RUSSELL HUBBARD
News staff writer

Energy companies are scrambling for drilling rights in St. Clair County, where geologists have discovered a natural gas formation with the potential to rival any in the country. [...]

Geologists compare the area's potential to that of a legendary Texas natural gas field called the Barnett Shale, which has grown to 5,000 square miles and produces more energy than any other onshore gas field in the country. Shale formations in St. Clair County run 9,000 feet thick [emphasis added], dwarfing the 1,500-foot shales in Texas. Thicker shale means more gas per square mile. [...]

"There are many billions of cubic feet of natural gas per square mile in St. Clair County," said Phillip Meadows, an independent geologist based in Hartselle who performed the original analysis of the area. "Once production methods are figured out, we are talking about wells that could easily be in operation for more than 100 years." [...]

The finds in St. Clair are part of a larger energy-rich geologic formation that runs north through Etowah County and into northern Georgia, said Meadows, who began studying the area in the late 1980s. The formation has been ignored until recent spikes in natural gas prices that have made it economical feasible to begin production.

The holdup has been the shale rock. The natural gas is compressed into it, and getting it out requires more expensive production techniques than are used to access gas that's not so tightly bunched.

But things are rolling again after price spikes in 2005 that sent natural gas to an all-time high of $15 per million British thermal units. Energy companies such as Virginia-based Dominion Resources have been paying landowners as much $500 per acre for the right to explore and produce, according to an adviser who represents property owners. [...]

Cascades of cash aren't right around the corner, though. It took many years for drillers to figure out how to get at the tightly packed Barnett Shale gas in Texas. Only recent improvements in using pressurized water to fracture the rock and release the gas made it profitable. Meadows, the geologist, said no one is yet really sure how - or if - that technique will work in Alabama. [...]

Even if it doesn't pan out right now, there's always someone working on a way to make it work. I have always had a passing interest in our mineral assets since it's so much a part of the history around here (Birmingham being one of the few places on Earth where the raw materials for steel production--coal, iron, limestone, water--are all located close to each other, in abundance, and easily accessible) but I never realized that this particular resource is located near here as well. And that it's so HUGE!

It might not pay right now, but from a strategic point of view, it sounds like it's money in the bank.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 09:50 AM | Comments (0)

February 05, 2007

Well, the headline is a bit overwrought...

Lab disaster may lead to new cancer drug

...but the article is just another example of how many things we take for granted come about either by accident or when scientists are searching for something else.

In this case, the researcher was looking for a treatment for Crohn's and colitis and was using cancer cells as the target. Due to a mistaken dosage of a compound called PPAR-gamma modulator, she wound up killing her test cells.

Setbacks like this aren't that uncommon in a lab--you mess up a culture or drop something and have to start your work over. It's frustrating, but not really a disaster like, say, an explosion. But it'll still make you angry, until you have that "aha" moment when it finally occurs to you that you found something that kills cancer cells.

Nifty article.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 02:06 PM | Comments (0)

January 30, 2007

Want to make your eyes water?

Read about floater surgery!

I couldn't make it through to the second page because I kept wincing and my eyes kept puddling up.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 09:58 AM | Comments (0)

January 29, 2007

Frankly...

Gates promises Vista will wow PC buyers

...I would be more impressed if I could have some assurance that I could use it all day long without planning for at least three complete system crashes. If it wouldn't allow itself to be taken over by malicious spam. If it didn't have an assortment of stupid dings and whistles and screeches.

But what do I know?

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 01:25 PM | Comments (10)

January 26, 2007

Global Warming Update

Anchorage is getting socked with snow

By RACHEL D'ORO

The Associated Press

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) The snow is already piled so high that drivers cannot see around corners. Homeowners are getting worried their roofs can't handle the load. And snow-removal crews are running up the overtime hours.

Even by Alaska's prodigious, myth-making standards, this is a remarkably snowy winter on the Last Frontier.

In one of the strangest winters across America in many years, Alaska's biggest city has gotten more snow over 74 inches so far than it normally receives in an entire winter (68 inches). And there are still four more months of snowy weather ahead. [...]

See what the evils of global warming have led to!?

On the bright side, maybe the polar bears will quit dropping through the ice and drowning. Or is that a bad thing? I just can't keep it straight anymore.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 01:58 PM | Comments (10)

January 25, 2007

You don't know where those nuts have been.

N.J. warns: Don't eat squirrel near dump

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) New Jersey has warned squirrel hunters near a toxic waste dump about consuming the critters because they could be contaminated with lead. [...]

Well, you DO have to pick out the shotgun pellets...

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 12:10 PM | Comments (0)

January 23, 2007

"You can make your dreams come true -- that is to control your own robot"

Well, I'm not quite sure this is exactly what I dream about.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 12:04 PM | Comments (0)

January 17, 2007

Great Ceaser's Ghost!!

I've got a blog, and need to post something on it!

There's just too much to look at on the Internet, y'know?

Anyway, to kick off the day, here's a handy dandy Hungarian (!?) site that Jim Smith sent me the link to, and it's guaranteed to make you squirm uncomfortably before embracing your paranoia with a rabid fervor. I'm not sure what the actual name of the site is, but I figure Havaria Emergency and Disaster Information Services is as good as anything else, and it collects data from various government bureaus and pinpoints various disastery-type things such animal attacks or nucular plant mishaps on an interactive map of the US.

Thankfully, nothing untoward going on in Alabama right now, aside from it being seasonably cold.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 09:50 AM | Comments (2)

January 05, 2007

Science!

Lost lakes of Titan are found at last

PARIS (AFP) - Lakes of methane have been spotted on Saturn's largest moon, Titan, boosting the theory that this strange, distant world bears beguiling similarities to Earth, according to a new study. [...]

Yes, beguiling similarities, because of all the lakes of methane we have around here.

Or maybe that's just me after a big lunch from Taco Bell, but that's more of a low-hanging cloud of methane rather than a lake of it.

Anyway, science is real interesting.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 10:21 AM | Comments (0)

January 03, 2007

Darn those evil Republicans and their weather control/time machine contraption!!

Climate shift helped destroy China's Tang dynasty: scientists

::shakes impotent fists of fury::

This is interesting, too:

[...] The twilight of the Tang began in 751, when the imperial army was defeated by Arabs.

But what eventually destroyed the dynasty were prolonged droughts and poor summer rains, which caused crop failure and stoked peasants' uprisings. Eventually, these rebellions led to the collapse of the dynasty in 907. [...]

Well, if the Chinese had only been more supportive of an independent Palestinian homeland, maybe they wouldn't have been attacked. 'Root causes,' doncha know.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 03:13 PM | Comments (5)

Boy, I wish I could get one for myself.

Upgrade makes aging Mars rovers smarter

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 12:02 PM | Comments (0)

December 20, 2006

Leave it to the Brits.

Who else could imagine a future where robots will be sentient enough to demand freedom from their human masters, and then follow that up with the idea that there needs to be a way to ensure robots can get on the dole.

Oh, and in a related story (sorta)--Robots on the Plains!

One hopes that if robots are perfected that we'll get to see lots of android football players. Who, of course, will dream of electric cheerleaders.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 02:27 PM | Comments (2)

December 12, 2006

Well, now.

Finally, an excuse to allow my latent misanthropy to take center stage! Be more standoffish to deter flu pandemic

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 09:57 AM | Comments (0)

December 11, 2006

For all those who think nukes are bad.

Small nuclear war could lead to cooldown

Saving the Earth from the scourge of global warming, one small nuclear exchange at a time!

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 04:58 PM | Comments (8)

Worse than kudzu?

So it seems: Foreign plant spreading rapidly in national forest

CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) The Francis Marion National Forest has a foreign invader and it's killing everything around it.

The invader is called cogongrass and "it's even worse than kudzu," said Jean Everett, a College of Charleston biology instructor who discovered three patches last month deep in the forest. "This is the plant from hell."

With long emerald-colored leaves that feel like razor blades, the plant also tends to be highly flammable providing fuel for forest fires. [...]

Scientists think the plant emits a poison to kill other plants and its roots grow into the roots of neighboring plants, Everett said. Its leaves contain silica, making them sharp. Animals won't eat the leaves and avoid traveling through areas thick with them.

It's hard to kill with herbicides, Everett said. [...]

Kudzu gets a bad rap because it also grows fast and it's hard to kill, but at least it does have some benefit as livestock fodder and several other useful things.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 11:15 AM | Comments (0)

December 08, 2006

Mysterious lights in the sky?

No, at least not according to our very own Jack Horkheimer wannabe, Steevil, who sends along yet ANOTHER interesting news story about a planetary sight not seen since The Battle of the Mules.

Planetary treat awaits sky gazers

By Joe Bauman
Deseret Morning News

Rise before dawn on Sunday, prepare a thermos of hot cocoa, bundle up, drive to some spot where mountains don't obstruct the eastern horizon and watch an astronomical grouping not seen since the Civil War.

As the Denver Astronomical Society points out, before dawn the planets Mars, Mercury and Jupiter will be grouped within a 1 degree circle. Mercury, the smallest planet, will seem only 0.1 degree from Jupiter, the largest, the society adds on its Web site, www.denverastrosociety.org/events.html.

"Literally, they're going to appear so close together that even with a pair of binoculars, which shows you only a small corner of sky, you'll see three planets in the field of view," said Patrick Wiggins, NASA solar system ambassador to Utah and northern Nevada.

Literally.

[...] He said they should rise in the southeast around 7 a.m., and will be easiest to see as they rise. Once dawn is in full throttle, the brightening sky will wash out the view of the planets.

The best place to observe them is a location with a low, flat eastern horizon clear of trees, buildings and other obstructions, he said. Nobody alive has seen these three planets so close together, Wiggins said.

Wiggins said Mars may be difficult to see with the naked eye "because it's not that bright" [...]

After a firestorm of controversy, Wiggins later stated that he had in no way intended to impugn Mars, and had merely botched a joke about President Bush.

ANYway, if you like getting up and looking up in the sky, this sounds like something you'd like to do. And since sky is very large, even people outside of Denver should be able to see this peculiar alignment as well.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 02:39 PM | Comments (1)

October 23, 2006

It's a shame, really.

Me, deciding to take the day off from blogging and all. Because when I do things like this, it means that when Steevil sends me a link to a really cool animated site on how to tie knots, well, everyone misses it. And that's a shame, because if anyone of you is a fisherman or a Scout or a rock climber or just need to know how to hold stuff down, you'll miss out on this valuable (and entertaining) information.

I may have to reconsider my self-imposed day of hibernation just so people will not be denied such important news.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 01:03 PM | Comments (2)

October 20, 2006

I bet Mr. Toad must be overjoyed.

Global warming study predicts wild ride

(Speaking of which...)

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 03:35 PM | Comments (0)

I always enjoy his Q & A sessions...

...but I think you'll like this post by Dean Barnett even more than one of those.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 10:38 AM | Comments (2)

October 19, 2006

Why, that's just inconceivable!

Study: Anti-aging supplements don't work

Color me shocked.

You know, I understand why someone would think this would actually have to be tested, but the people who already know that life is a terminal disease will, like me, just scoff and wonder why someone had to spend money to find this out, whereas the people who swear by these things can't be convinced by something so silly as science.

Thankfully, I have a way of helping everyone--I have discovered that if you give me any spare change in your wallets, billfolds, purses, or desk drawers, you will feel years younger. I guarantee it, or your money back. So send me your money, and feel better TODAY!!

Sure, I might not live any longer, but with all this influx of cash, I sure will be able to live more comfortably!

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 10:42 AM | Comments (2)

October 13, 2006

Well, it's all that global warming is what it is.

2 feet of snow falls on western N.Y.

By CAROLYN THOMPSON
The Associated Press

BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) A rare early October snowstorm left parts of the Great Lakes and Midwest blanketed with 2 feet of snow Friday morning, prompting widespread blackouts, closing schools and halting traffic.

The snow downed scores of tree limbs and toppled power lines, leaving more than 220,000 customers without electricity in western New York.

By early Friday, 14 inches of snow had been recorded at the Buffalo Niagara International Airport, with reports of 2 feet elsewhere, said Tom Paone, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service. The snowfall was expected to continue throughout the morning, he said.

On Thursday, 8.3 inches of heavy snow set the record for the "snowiest" October day in Buffalo in the 137-year history of the weather service, said meteorologist Tom Niziol. The previous record of 6 inches was set Oct. 31, 1917.

"This is an extremely rare event for this early in the season," Niziol said.

Detroit also set a record, its for the earliest measured snow. On Thursday, the city broke by one day the mark set on Oct. 13, 1909. [...]

Well, obviously, it's some kind of vast conspiracy to drive up heating oil prices. Or to tempt polar bears to migrate south to keep from drowning, where they will be loosed upon unsuspecting inner cities to prey on the homeless.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 10:44 AM | Comments (4)

October 11, 2006

Steevil-Oyl sends along...

...this interesting article via The Brothers Judd on the merits of eating walnuts and cooking with walnut oil.

Sounds like a marvelous way to make fried Coca-Cola a much healthier snack!

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 12:46 PM | Comments (5)

October 10, 2006

Huh? Do what?

Heavier weight tied to poorer mental function

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Overweight middle-aged adults tend to score more poorly on tests of memory, attention and learning ability than their thinner peers do, researchers reported Monday. [...]

Of course, since the overweight are one of the few groups left everyone feels comfortable making fun of, skinny people can at least not feel so bad about making fun of us now since we're too deranged to notice or care!

I think we can agree that's a win-win!

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 12:43 PM | Comments (2)

October 06, 2006

Well, now.

Seems like the Ol' Man in the Moon has been ordering some of that cream or those pills that spammers keep hawking: Tonight's Full Moon 12 Percent Bigger.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 02:25 PM | Comments (0)

September 26, 2006

Dave Gets Tech Support!

Just wait until we get us some tree stands with wi-fi.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 12:42 PM | Comments (0)

September 21, 2006

Okay, now THAT'S just cool!

I tell you, it helps to have a rocket science in the house. Steevil sends along a link to a photo of the Shuttle and the International Space Station silhouetted against the Sun.

Tremendously nifty!

Also, leave it to the folks at NASA to provide some excellent scientific commentary to accompany the photo:

Though it's 93 million miles away, the Sun still hurts your eyes when you look at it. [...]

Fascinating, Captain.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 01:54 PM | Comments (2)

September 15, 2006

Weird Animals!

Strange array of creatures lies under Alabama

KATHERINE BOUMA
News staff writer

Beneath Alabama are creatures as strange and unexamined as any on Earth, animals living with no known source of food - blind and nearly invisible fish, shrimp, crayfish and salamanders.

Alabama has more caves than any other state. And scientists believe those subterranean ecosystems cradle the nation's greatest diversity of groundwater creatures.

But they know little beyond that. Life underground is an area that has been, until now, largely ignored by biologists. [...]

You think the stuff underground is weird, you oughta see what walks around Montgomery!

Anyway, it's actually a pretty neat article about something that has always fascinated me. And let's face it--gives me the heebie-jeebies. I mean, if all those critters are down there, you figure it's probably just crawling with CHUDs, too! Eeeyoo-IGGLY!

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 08:47 AM | Comments (0)

September 12, 2006

And I complain about when I drop something under the car...

Astronauts lose bolt during spacewalk

By MIKE SCHNEIDER
The Associated Press

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — Spacewalking astronauts worried they have may have gummed up a successful job connecting an addition to the international space station Tuesday when a bolt, spring and washer floated free.

Astronaut Joe Tanner was working with the bolt when it sprang loose, floated over the head of Heidemarie Stefanyshyn-Piper and skittered across the 17 1/2-ton box-like truss that they were hooking up.

While the washer went out into space safely, Tanner worried the bolt and spring could get into the truss's wiring and tubing and causing problems. [...]

At least with my stuff, I can pretty much figure it's gonna fall DOWN.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 11:06 AM | Comments (6)

August 30, 2006

Weather!

Ernesto Drops to Tropical Depression

Is it just me, or is there an equally palpable sense of depression amongst weather forecasters and 'Bush Controls the Weather' sorts who seemed to really, REALLY want there to be lots of destruction and Katrina Anniversary Irony? Maybe I'm just imagining it, but it does seem as though a lot of people are miffed that there isn't much going on this year.

Not to say that there won't be something pop up later in the season, weather being, after all, weather, so maybe they'll have some misery to feed on.

Just trying to look on the bright side, you know?

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 12:18 PM | Comments (0)

August 29, 2006

The Wonders of Silicone

I have to tell you, silicone is something else! And I'm not even talking about the variety used in medical procedures.

For the last several months I've had a scritchy sound around the plastic parts in the Volvo's dashboard, which is pretty much par for the course in any old car, but it got to the point I couldn't stand it anymore. SO, last night when I went to get Jonathan from his Scout meeting, I stopped by the parts place and picked up a spray can of silicone lube and spritzed a few sprays in between some of the various bits and pieces in front of me and SURPRISE! No scritches!

Now, what this has to do with anything, I have no idea. I just felt the need to share.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 08:30 AM | Comments (0)

August 23, 2006

Yeller Jackits

Okay, so I'm really busy today, but there are some things that simply cannot be ignored.

Such is the case with the following story--Giant nests perplex experts

I have now been sent this exact same item TWICE by two different bloggers--the mother of Perfect Tommy (and a lovely brunette herself) Miss Sarah, and well known cripple Dr. Jim Smith.

Read the whole article, it's creepy as all get out. I had seen several articles about it (including some of the ones here), and a news report on TV here showed the car in the article with the huge nest inside, but I guess I never thought anyone would really care about it. Which proves that even I can be wrong once in my life.

Anyway, the whole idea of supernests just creeps me out all over--I can't stand yellow jackets because they're mean aggressive little SOBs, but when they were mostly just something that made a nest underground, I didn't worry so much about them. But these nests are huge and look like some kind of something you'd see on Star Trek. I didn't even realize yellow jackets were paper wasps--I always figured since I saw them in the ground they were dirt wasps like a dirt dauber. But the things they build are like giant sheets of corrugated cardboard--almost like seeing a hornet's nest turned inside out and unfurled. And what I don't understand is why they seem to be doing this HERE. I know the article says it was because of the mild winter [insert obligatory, "I blame George McHitlerburton ChimpsterRove and the lack of a signature on Kyoto which led to global warming."] but you'd think if it was simply a matter of mild weather, you'd be just as likely to see them in Florida--or better yet, GEORGIA, where there's a whole SCHOOL that uses them as a mascot. But NOOOOOO. They're HERE!

Here are some helpful tips for dealing with these satanic little scourges from the Auburn Extension Service, as well as a couple of more recent Extension blog posts about the phenomenon. They've got better pictures, too.

Anyway, if you see a nest like this, don't mess with it.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 04:31 PM | Comments (8)

August 22, 2006

Speaking of NASA...

...has anyone ever considered renaming Cape Canaveral "Cape Carnival"? Yes, I know--tradition and all--but still, Carnival has such a fun sound to it. Or better yet, make it "Cape Carnaval" and have a bunch of glistening Brazilian girls parading around in feather boas at launch time.

Just a thought.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 02:11 PM | Comments (7)

Oops.

Astronaut lets slip new moonship name

By MIKE SCHNEIDER
The Associated Press

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — The name of the new vehicle that NASA hopes will take astronauts back to the moon was supposed to be hush-hush until next week.

But apparently U.S. astronaut Jeff Williams, floating 220 miles above Earth at the international space station, didn't get the memo.

Williams let it slip Tuesday that the new vehicle's name is Orion. [...]

'Oops'--not for the astronaut, but to the reporter, who might have, with a bit of research, noted that the name Orion was already a pretty well established unofficial sort of "no comment, but you caught us" name back in July, as noted by Collectspace.com, and then last week by the folks at Space.com, who had a nifty article where you can already see the rilly kewl logo and everything.

Remember, reporters--just because you don't know something, doesn't mean others don't.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 01:41 PM | Comments (0)

August 10, 2006

I didn't even realize he had still been with us.

But he had been, up until yesterday, when he passed away at 91. In a field full of big brainy brilliance, he still managed to find a way to make his mark--Pioneering Astrophysicist James Van Allen Dies

An autobiographical article from 1990 can be found here.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 11:12 AM | Comments (0)

August 03, 2006

I blame global warming.

Rare snowfall across South Africa

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 09:27 AM | Comments (0)

August 01, 2006

You know another thing I love?

Or at least like a whole bunch? The Internet.

I don’t know if you’ve ever used that thing before, but good grief it’s nice to have around. ESPECIALLY when you’re doing car repair. Reba’s Focus had the ‘check engine’ light come on again, and I figured it was just the same thing as it has been in the past--something to do with a faulty temperature sensor that didn’t really mess up anything important. However, this time she said she had a problem with it idling, then stopping. It would crank right back up, and would run fine on the road, but it sort of sputtered when parked for a few minutes.

Last night when I went to pick up Jonathan from his Scout meeting, I decided to swing by the Autozone at the foot of the hill and let them hook up their code reader and give me a printout of what it says. This is another one of those nice things that I really am in deep likefulness with--if you took a car to the dealer or a shop, you pretty much have to expect getting whacked with a $50 charge to download the fault code from the computer. Something parts stores now are able to do for you for free.

Which I had done. Takes about five minutes, which includes about a minute fumbling around in the dark finding the onboard diagnostic port. Went back inside and the parts guy (a cute young redhead named Lisa) plugged in the code reader to the printer and I got a printout:

P0171
(System too lean Bank 1)

Now, here’s the deal--unless you know what that means, you are still pretty much out of luck when it comes to fixing the thing. Even though I’ve worked on a lot of cars, I still couldn’t begin to figure out where to start fixing this, because there are about a gazillion things that can cause a lean reading. I could go to the library and look around some to figure it out, or maybe find it in a shop manual, but the Internet has revolutionized the process of looking things up. I plugged in those terms, and found out in about five seconds that there’s a whole website devoted to deciphering fault codes.

Which I did--as you can see here, the Focus’ stumble could be fixed with something as simple as installing a new crankcase vent and hose. There are some more involved things that might need fixing, but at least now I know what all it COULD be, and am able to choose the easiest and cheapest things to look for first that I can do myself, BEFORE having to give up and rely upon a repair shop to fix it.

The Internet is really cool.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 11:29 AM | Comments (6)

July 31, 2006

Do you remember--

--watching Wile E. Coyote assemble that great big Acme electromagnet in a cave, and it started grabbing stuff like cars and satellites and finally a huge missile and then blowed up?

That was pretty cool.

But not nearly as cool as this, via The Straight Dope's Weird Earl's feature: DANGER! Flying Objects!

See, it turns out that the "M" in MRI stands for Magnetic, and when they turn on the juice, you better make sure you're not standing between the doughnut and that unsecured toolbox...

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 01:03 PM | Comments (2)

July 24, 2006

It's that whole "clash of the worlds" scenario.

Estrogen-testosterone combo could up risk

For some reason, a particular song from the Kinks comes to mind...

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 03:24 PM | Comments (5)

July 13, 2006

I can't remember--

--who might have mentioned it a while back, but one of you out there asked if I had ever used a little gizmo from Google called SketchUp.

My boss came in all excited about it the other day, and after doing what I do best--throw cold water on all his great ideas (we have not the computer power or functionality to be truly productive with this tool, and it would in the end wind up being nothing more than a toy)--I nonetheless figured I would download it at home (since we have no authority to download any sorts of programs here--which explains why I still have Flash version 5) and see how it works.

Hey, surprisingly well! I'm not sure what I'll use it for--Reba wanted to know if I was going to plan the addition we've been talking about for years on it. Probably not--I'm still the John Henry of hand drafting, but it still might be useful. It seems to get skittery and unstable when there's a lot of info on the screen, more than likely because all that heaping wad of RAM I bought a while back is still not enough for it to be truly fast and stable, but still, it was free and it is probably a pretty slick gadget, after I learn a bit more about it.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 02:37 PM | Comments (4)

June 23, 2006

Hmm.

Wireless Freeloader Charged Because He Never Bought Coffee

By Gregg Keizer
TechWeb.com
Thu Jun 22, 6:32 PM ET

A Vancouver, Wash. coffee shop tired of seeing a 20-year-old man mooch off their free wireless Internet access called the police, who charged him with "theft of services."

Brewed Awakenings employees dialed 911 after Alexander Eric Smith of Battle Ground, Wash. piggybacked off the shop's wireless Internet service for more than three months.

"He doesn't buy anything," Emily Pranger, the shop's manager, told KATU, a Portland, Ore. television station. "It's not right for him to come and use it." [...]

County deputies charged Smith with theft of services after returning to the parking lot after they told him to stop. The crime, which covers such crimes as bypassing a utility meter, stealing cable, and leaving a restaurant without paying, has been used in the past to prosecute hackers who have accessed a computer or network without paying for it. "It's something that is borderline creepy," Pranger said to KATU. [...]

By "not right for him," do they mean, "it upsets me" or "we have a store policy whereby we intend to provide wireless service only for those who purchase, at minimum, a cup of coffee, and no other users are authorized to use this connection"?

Because it seems that unless they have a policy like the latter, merely plucking a signal out of the air, as with broadcast radio, is a bit less than theft of services. If they're so concerned about it, why don't they offer a subscription wi-fi, where you have to provide proof of purchase to log on? Maybe a password generated at the register like they do when you buy a carwash at the gas pump. And if it's not really free access, should they get to advertise it as free wi-fi? I mean, 'that's just not right' for them to do that, is it?

Yes, the guy's mooching, but it might be hard to call it theft of services when anyone can pick up the signal and use it anytime they want.

And are you gonna tell me that in a place of progressive thought such as Vancouver, Washington that borderline creepiness has now been criminalized!? I dare say there are probably several jail's worth of folks who fit the bill around there.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 03:08 PM | Comments (6)

June 22, 2006

My own global warming experience.

As you've all probably heard, ABC "News" has been having a call-in for people to send in their personal experiences with the fiendish specter of global warming.

Now, I know there are a lot of people over on the right side of the divide who have done nothing but mock this effort as yet another example of how silly and out of touch the major media are about scientific matters, but I have to say, I really think there's something really bad wrong going on, and no one's willing to talk about it.

Okay, yesterday was the summer solstice, right? The first day of summer? But here's the odd thing--even though it's warm HERE, down in Australia where folks like Kitchen Hand and Tim Blair live, it's actually so cold that they're calling it WINTER!

This is just too crazy and mixed up NOT to be the result of man's inhumanity to our beloved Planet Earth! We've ruined EVERYthing now, and it's so insane that one part of our Big Blue Marble is locked into an icy death grip, while just on the other side, it's blazing hot! We have reached a day of reckoning, my friends! If only we'd signed Kyoto, NONE of this crazy mixed up summer-on-one-side/winter-on-the-other would be happening!

And we had the nerve to mock Al Gore. I weep.

(OH, and for ABC, who wanted to know about "unusual animals that have arrived in your community," I did want to mention that the other day I went outside and was confronted by a large black and gray cat that I have NEVER SEEN BEFORE! The temperature was a blazing 85 degrees, and then all of a sudden, here's this strange cat. Coincidence? I think not.)

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 01:59 PM | Comments (5)

Well, one thing's for certain.

Study: San Andreas fault overdue for quake

And that is that approximately five minutes after it does happen, there will be a clot of people who loudly claim it is the result of global warming and/or Karl Rove planting a nuclear bomb in the fault line. Because, you know, reality-based things like that are a mark progressive community.

ANYway--if you live in California or Alaska or any other seismically active area, you might better make sure you have a plan of what to do when the Big One does hit. Here's a whole list of places to get information from the US Geologic Survey, but the biggest thing to remember is that the goverment can only do so much, and cannot magically make the ground stop shaking or alter the laws of physics.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 09:36 AM | Comments (5)

June 20, 2006

More Chestnuts

I'm not sure exactly why stories about people trying to repopulate the forest with native chestnut trees get me so excited, but they do. Go figure.

ANYway, a story today about the largest chestnut tree in Alabama, which seems not to be susceptible to blight, and the efforts to propagate it and pass along its genetic material to other trees.

(Actually, I blame this lurid fascination on James Thurber's story about a relative who died from Dutch elm disease. I keep hoping to work in a lie about one of my relatives dying from chestnut blight.)

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 11:16 AM | Comments (0)

May 31, 2006

Speaking of Science...

...or stupidity, here's something: Scientists say Arctic once was tropical

By SETH BORENSTEIN
The Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — Scientists have found what might have been the ideal ancient vacation hotspot with a 74-degree Fahrenheit average temperature, alligator ancestors and palm trees. It's smack in the middle of the Arctic.

First-of-its-kind core samples dug up from deep beneath the Arctic Ocean floor show that 55 million years ago an area near the North Pole was practically a subtropical paradise, three new studies show.

The scientists say their findings are a glimpse backward into a much warmer-than-thought polar region heated by run-amok greenhouse gases that came about naturally.

Darn that Karl Rove and his time machine! Going back to the past to screw around with the weather and building pollution spewing industrial wastelands JUST LIKE HE IS NOW!

But wait, I am chastised for my flippancy--

Skeptics of man-made causes of global warming have nothing to rejoice over, however.

Oh, sorry. Didn't mean to rejoice.

The researchers say their studies appearing in Thursday's issue of Nature also offer a peak at just how bad conditions can get.

"It probably was (a tropical paradise) but the mosquitoes were probably the size of your head," said Yale geology professor Mark Pagani, a study co-author.

That loud buzzing you hear is not a football-sized mosquito, but rather my BS Detector.

Mr. Oh-So-Smart Science Guy, are you going to sit there and tell me that it's warm weather that causes giant mosquitos? Y'ever seen a fossil that big, Sparky? Because it seems that about the only ones that people are able to find are ones like this one from the Eocene epoch (around the time period of your core samples), collected in Utah, that would be a giant only when compared to a Polly Pocket doll. All those mosquitos in amber, like they made the dinosaur movie about? All of them pretty much the size of mosquitos.

So what was the point of saying something so outlandishly stupid? Could it be you have a political agenda that can't be allowed to rest for even five seconds, and causes you to pump your hysterical little sissy fists up and down in the air in order to frighten people with visions of bugs straight out of Starship Troopers? (An aside--Denise Richards--Rrrowwll.)

Look, the earth's climate undergoes periodic changes. I might even be willing to believe humans might contribute to a portion of that change. But saying silly crap to scare people isn't the best way to make your point, even if the reporter is more gullible than a dodo bird and hangs on your every word.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 01:47 PM | Comments (4)

May 30, 2006

Dern it--why didn't I think of that!?

Cordless jump-rope can help the clumsy

By SETH BORENSTEIN
The Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — If you think keeping fit is merely mind over matter, Lester Clancy has an invention for you — a cordless jump-rope.

That's right, a jump-rope minus the rope. All that's left is two handles, so you jump over the pretend rope. Or if you are truly lazy, you can pretend to jump over the pretend rope.

And for that idea kicking around Clancy's head since 1988, the U.S. Patent Office this month awarded the 52-year-old Mansfield, Ohio, man a patent. Its number: 7037243. [...]

::sigh:: I suppose I will have to satisfy myself with my virtual treadmill. It's a video of a guy on treadmill. You can watch it and visualize yourself jogging for several miles, without being the least bit tired after it's over with.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 09:37 AM | Comments (3)

May 25, 2006

Kids today.

From Cracker Barrel Philosopher, yet another instance of kids being too clever by half.

Not to worry, teachers--just wait until some resourceful lawyers on this side of the pond get ahold of it and start a class action against the maker for damaging everyone's hearing in ADDITION to giving everyone great big brain tumors, and they'll disappear pretty quickly. (Alas, the phones, not the lawyers.)

Alternatively, one could always start a rumor that this technology is how Karl Rove controls all of his evil minions.

Which we know is bogus--he just passes notes to us, cleverly disguised as paper footballs.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 01:58 PM | Comments (5)

May 22, 2006

Well, thanks for the thought, but...

Pills Rendering Menstrual Period Optional

...personally, I really have to say that I'd rather not have the option.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 01:57 PM | Comments (0)

May 19, 2006

If you simply MUST hug a tree...

...there are none better to love than American chestnuts, so this is a welcome story--Rare American chestnut trees discovered

By ELLIOTT MINOR
The Associated Press

ALBANY, Ga. (AP) — A stand of American chestnut trees that somehow escaped a blight that killed off nearly all their kind in the early 1900s has been discovered along a hiking trail not far from President Franklin D. Roosevelt's Little White House at Warm Springs.

The find has stirred excitement among those working to restore the American chestnut, and raised hopes that scientists might be able to use the pollen to breed hardier chestnut trees.

"There's something about this place that has allowed them to endure the blight," said Nathan Klaus, a biologist with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources who spotted the trees. "It's either that these trees are able to resist the blight, which is unlikely, or Pine Mountain has something unique that is giving these trees resistance." [...]

Well, whatever it is, I hope they are able to help it spread. The article talks about the once-pervasive chestnut and the blight that nearly drove it to extinction (which I'm sure must have been George Bush's fault), as well as the current efforts to preserve the species with the introduction of genes from Chinese chestnuts that are blight-resistant.

It sure would be nice to repopulate with non-crossbred species, and I wish the Georgia folks much success in their efforts, because the chestnut is such a useful and beautiful tree.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 08:53 AM | Comments (3)

May 09, 2006

Why I have come to detest so much of what the media produces.

This little gem from Sacramento’s NBC affiliate KCRA--Pain At The Pump: Government Gas Secrets

I am so sick and tired of every two-bit news outlet in the United States trying to come up with “secret government conspiracy” crap. It’s stupid, and demeaning, and does nothing but expose the superciliousness and rank stupidity of the people who deign to tell us they should be trusted to find information for us.

This whole story has precious little to do with anything other than someone trying to make themselves look like the next Woodward and Bernstein, but the net effect makes the reporter and the station look like a bunch of Ted Baxters and Les Nessmans.

To begin:

The government has been keeping a secret about automobiles under wraps for the past 30 years.

Okay, I have to give them props--if you’re gonna lie, start lying right out of the gate. The government has NOT been keeping a secret about gas mileage ratings. Just because people don’t LOOK for the information--EVEN THOUGH IT’S PRINTED ON EVERY CAR STICKER MADE, doesn’t mean it’s a COVERUP. You could just as easily say that the government has been keeping a secret about income tax filing. Did you know that if you aren’t going to be able to file on time, that you STILL HAVE TO SEND IN ANY MONEY YOU MIGHT OWE!? Why, it’s a COVERUP! WHO KNEW ABOUT THIS!? Hmm? What’s that? Everyone who can READ knows this? Oh, well--it’s STILL A COVERUP, because I’M TOO BLOODY STUPID TO READ IT FOR MYSELF! LIES! ALL LIES!

Reporter Michelle Meredith teamed up with Consumer Reports to explain why your car probably does not get the mileage advertised.

How about an expose about how the hair coloring picture on the box doesn’t ever look like the hair color on your hair. LIES! ALL LIES!

The Consumer Reports' auto test track in Connecticut looks like it could be a new theme park in Orlando.

OOOOhhhh--exotic ORLANDO! Where there are no lies.

And when it comes to testing cars, Consumer Reports leaves no stone unturned, no lug nut loose. And here's the question Consumer Reports set out to answer -- does your car get the gas mileage promised on the showroom sticker.

What stone-overturning has to do with car testing is left unanswered. IT MUST BE A COVERUP! But one point to make--the sticker with the mileage ratings IS NOT A FRIGGIN’ PROMISE, YOU PEA-BRAINED TWIT! It is a standardized rating based upon laboratory tests, intended to give some semblance for a basis of comparison across a variety of makes and models. But it is NOT a guarantee, warranty, promise, agreement, covenant, assurance or any other synonym MS Word can come up with.

It's the mileage you probably used to decide if the car fit your monthly budget.

Doubtful, since most people budget for car purchases primarily on how much their monthly lease or loan payment will be. Some may look at mileage to the exclusion of all else, but if anyone does, it’s not in evidence in this particular news story. BECAUSE OF THE LIES!

First, Meredith took a look at how carmakers come up with these numbers because you could be in for a big surprise. The guidelines for the tests were set by the federal government decades ago, in the late 1970s. Gerald Ford was president and disco was king.

And local television news reporters were still seen as objective gatherers of information. You know, like Ron Burgundy.

Anyway, the implication is (since all we have to go on is the implied fault of the government, not any actual evidence of a coverup) that since this was done when Quiana shirts were big news, the testing is somehow not to be trusted. Or that somehow our intrepid gal reporter stumbled upon something akin to the Dead Sea scrolls, heretofore unseen since the Fashion Dark Ages, due to a secret cabal of GOVERNMENT COVERERS-UP OF THE TRUTH! LEAD US ON, NOBLE REPORTER!--

And under these guidelines by the Environmental Protection Agency, carmakers are allowed to test miles per gallon by running the vehicle not on the road, but on what's essentially a treadmill for cars.

Yes, it’s called a chassis dynamometer. It’s a big set of steel cylinders that the car's driven wheels sit on and the car is held stationary, so that it can be hooked up to all the test equipment in the lab to--now, get ready for it--TO ELIMINATE POSSIBLE VARIABLES RELATED TO ROAD SURFACE, such as temperature, friction coefficient, and moisture. In other words, it’s SCIENTIFIC. I know it must hurt your pretty little brain to think about all those big machineries and such, but there’s a REASON for all of that, and it’s not to cover up LIES! Oh, and by the way--carmakers aren’t “allowed” to run them on a chassis dyno--they are REQUIRED TO BY LAW. Which, in fairness, does require READING, and therefore is prima fascia evidence of a COVERUP OF MASSIVE PROPORTION! HOW DARE THE GOVERNMENT REQUIRE THAT WE READ ANYTHING! THEY DON’T TEACH THAT IN J-SCHOOL!

Ahem. Sorry.

During an EPA spot check, the car ran with no air conditioning, no inclines or hills, no wind resistance and at speeds no greater than 60 mph.

Can you guess why? Because not every air conditioner is the same; to turn on the compressor and allow it to cycle would introduce another variable into the test. Hills (or inclines, which are somehow different from hills, but still somehow uppy or downy sorta, and allow us to express shock that not only are hills excluded, BUT INCLINES, TOO!!) can be taken into account through variable resistance on the dynamometer rollers, but in the end, when you’re simply trying to come up with a standardized test, you don’t have to introduce every possible scenario, including things like aerodynamic drag, or high road speed, only a sufficient number of criteria to give a repeatable, verifiable basis of comparison across a range of vehicles.

There's hardly anything real world about it, but it gives carmakers what they want -- the highest possible miles per gallon to put on that sticker.

It’s not intended to be “real world.” It’s intended to be a lab test for broad comparison, AND NOTHING MORE. That’s why it says your mileage will vary. And the test was hardly the result of nothing but carmaker input--the EPA developed it and monitors the administration of it. Now, there ARE carmakers who develop their cars to excel on the EPA test--Chevy in particular has been good at this, with a small solenoid-activated shifter mechanism on manual transmission Corvettes (and it used to be on Camaros) that will, under certain exacting specifications matching the EPA test, cause the shifter to bypass 2nd and 3rd gear on the upshift from 1st, and go into 4th. This is intended to give a better mileage number, and indeed it does--but here’s the deal--IT WORKS IN REAL WORLD DRIVING, TOO! Corvettes get excellent fuel mileage even outside the laboratory, and part of it is the built-in device to short-shift when you’re not hard on the throttle.

"People are going into showrooms, they're looking at that sticker that says miles per gallon and they're saying, 'Oh it get goods [sic] miles per gallon,'" said Consumer Reports' David Champion. "In reality, they're being cheated."

No, if this is what’s happening, in reality they are just not being informed consumers. They see a number, and refuse to do any more research. I guarantee you, consumers are being cheated MUCH more by predatory lending practices and shady lease agreements than are being “cheated” because their car doesn’t get the mileage that’s on the sticker. And once more--the sticker is NOT A GUARANTEE!

Consumer Reports conducts their test on a track and in the real world.

And it has been since the 1930s. Which is a good and noble thing, and if you have ever once picked up a copy, you could see their mileage ratings for the cars they test, and get a better idea of how your car might perform IF YOU DRIVE IT LIKE THEY DO.

First, they put them through a simulated city course. Next the highway -- a real highway. For the third test, they take the car out on a 150-mile day trip throughout Connecticut.

All the while, a special miles per gallon meter is ticking away. Their results? Many numbers you see on those stickers are off way off -- one as much as 50 percent..

None of which take into account temperature, humidity, wind, engine tune, gasoline quality, rate of acceleration or deceleration--if the AIR CONDITIONING IS ON--hundreds of other little things that add up when you actually do operate a vehicle outside of a laboratory. If their testing is so thorough, and you buy a car based upon THEIR ratings, and you STILL don’t get as good economy as they do, do you think THEY are keeping a secret from you!? Do you think you could SUE them because their test didn’t reflect the mileage YOU get? Of course not. Even if they do have a “special miles per gallon meter.”

For example, Chrysler says the four-wheel drive diesel version of the Jeep Liberty gets 22 mpg in the city. Consumer Reports tested it and found it got more like 11 mpg.

Honda claims its hybrid Civic sedan gets 48 mpg in the city. Consumer Reports found it only gets 26 mpg -- a 46 percent difference.

Chevy's Trailblazer EXT four-wheel drive is supposed to get 15 mpg in the city. For Consumer Reports, it was 9 mpg.

You mileage will vary. If I do happen to get 19 in the “city” with my Liberty, does that mean that Consumer Reports was WRONG, and LYING about it? Maybe. More than likely it’s because they came up with a different number because they used DIFFERENT TESTING METHODOLOGIES! Look, give me any of those cars they tested, and let me drive it, and I can get even WORSE mileage, or if I’m careful, I can get the EPA mileage. IT ALL DEPENDS ON HOW YOU DRIVE, PEOPLE.

"It's an unrealistic sales and marketing tool that they are actually using. They are saying you're going to get 35 mpg, and you're really only going to get 21," Champion said.

Okay, then let’s do away with EPA testing. That would be the simplest thing--we did fine without it for years.

But the urge to regulate is simply overwhelming in Washington, and amongst a certain subset of the population who hate cars and everything they stand for. Somehow we can't let the free market, i.e., Consumer Reports, be a good enough standard for measuring economy. Its only usefulness and good is in being used to try to make the government look bad.

Anyway, don't like carmakers gaming the system? Elimate the opportunity.

Why is this allowed? Meredith asked the EPA's director of transportation.

SPEAK THE TRUTH TO POWER, MEREDITH!!

"We cannot have a perfect test," said Margo Oge.

Oge said for so long, nobody really complained. Meanwhile, everything has changed.

"All the cars today have air conditioning, which was not the case in the mid-80s, and we drive at higher speeds because we are allowed to drive a higher speeds. And technology has changed," Oge said.

Spoken like a true political appointee. None of this means anything, and some of it is downright stupid. Maybe she was trying to speak on Meredith’s level of comprehension, or maybe Meredith broke a nail while trying to write down all the big hard words the director actually said, I don’t know.

Anyway, how about this for "real world" testing--how about loading down a car with the stuff we usually carry--several hundred pounds of junk in the trunk, a bunch of kids, some car seats, a stroller. What about hauling a boat, or an ATV trailer? Or bikes on the roof? --WHY DON’T THEY INCLUDE THAT!?

Because it’s a CONSPIRACY!

Look, everyone is going to get different mileage, and although you can jigger the test mechanism to deliver lower mileage, in the end, it STILL won’t cover everything.

Carmakers know their number is up. Several have been to Consumer Reports' test track to see how they test real world conditions.

Which means they’ll just start using Consumer Reports data as a marketing tool instead of EPA ratings. But you still won’t get what THEY get unless you drive exactly like they do. Any variation, and you’re result will vary.

"I think it's desperately time for a change," Champion said.

The EPA has said a change is coming in time for the 2008 models, but is that soon enough? Consumers need real world tests with real world numbers now because with the price of gas constantly climbing, the real world has become a very ugly place.

WORLD TO END! WOMEN AND MINORITIES HARDEST HIT!

As it is, consumers CAN get real world results NOW. Go buy a car. Drive it. Keep up with your mileage. That’s your real world mileage. If you want to, go read some magazines--including Consumer Reports--and see which cars consistently come out on top in OBSERVED mpg. Then go buy one and keep up with the mileage. If you get the same, great. If not, it’s NOT BECAUSE OF A SECRET GOVERNMENT CONSPIRACY.

As for the real world becoming a very ugly place, well, once we start mocking idiotic local television reporters, we can always hope they’ll stop clogging up the airwaves with such meaningless chaff and start doing something important--like not driving gigantic gas-guzzling satellite trucks and SUVs to every cat-stuck-in-a-tree story.

The EPA said even though the new test will reflect more real-world conditions, there is no perfect test.

Yes, they did say that--just a few paragraphs earlier. Must be some kind of secret government SECRET REDUNDANCY RAY.

For more information and for a list of the most fuel efficient cars and SUVs, check out Consumer Reports' special report A Guide To Stretching Your Fuel Dollars.

Hey, finally! Some useful information!

And yes, this did strike a nerve, because it's silly, fatuous, and useless. I would really like to believe I could expect more, although I don't know why I should.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 10:21 AM | Comments (11)

May 04, 2006

Look, I realize that it's hard--

--to fill up an hour and a half of a local news broadcast, but I think it might be better to at least do a LITTLE journalistic groundwork.

Last night our local FOX affiliate had yet another segment designed to play upon the gas price hysteria with an interview of some woman in Washington state who has a miracle product--a pill you drop in your tank that "changes the molecular structure" of gasoline and you can then get a 25% increase in your fuel mileage. The woman was driving around in an Explorer, I believe, and noted that although she was not a chemical engineer, her experience with her own gas mileage proved that the additive worked just fine.

In the interest of journalistic integrity, the reporter also interviewed some dude from AAA who said it might not work, or might void the warranty. Then they gave the woman's web address at the end of the segment.

Void the warranty?! WELL, DUH! THAT'S WHAT THE CAR COMPANIES WANT YOU TO BELIEVE!!

::sigh::

Okay, here's the deal. It's nothing but a scam, pure and simple. I'm not going to give the website, because these jokers don't need any business, but the whole operation is set up as a multilevel marketing scheme. The website given belongs to one of the "sponsors," i.e., sales person, but the content is provided by a company that is well-known amongst those people who frequent bulletin boards trying to beat the automaker/oil company/EPA/FTC/Trilateral Commission conspiracy.

The company's website offers a wildly unintelligble explanation of how the pills work ("The gas pills have the property of modifying the fuel’s molecular structure and liberating the energy contained within"), along with detailed instructions about how many pills must be put in the tank each time. And lots of testimonials. Lots and lots. Including those from people who have achieved financial independence by selling the pills to other people.

But, here's the deal--testimonials (about fuel mileage, at least) aren't the same thing as instrumented testing in a laboratory. The idea of laboratory testing is NOT to keep everything all secret and hush-hush, but to eliminate variables that can effect the results. Such things as engine temperature, ambient temperature, load, atmospheric pressure, humidity, gasoline quality--all have something to do with how efficiently the engine operates, and unless you can say for certain those things are being accounted for, that 4 mpg increase you see might just be that you're trying to drive more efficiently, or a host of other factors. That's why EPA mileage ratings are lab derived using standardized criteria--and it's why the tag "YMMV" had become part of the lexicon--although testing can be made better, there is still no way to look in a crystal ball and determine what your exact mileage will be. But you CAN do lab testing and say if one change or another actually has some effect.

The EPA has tested hundreds of things that purport to boost mileage, and found that very few actually work. Of course, this doesn't stop people from making claims, but from a purely economic standpoint, you are MUCH better off doing the simple things everyone has always talked about: make sure your tires are properly inflated and your alignment is accurate, make sure you aren't carrying around any extra weight, and drive slower. You will increase your mileage for free. I guarantee it.

A more thorough discussion of this product (as well as a bunch of other fuel saving tips and topics by a U.K.-based automotive engineer) can be found here. (Be sure to read the conspiracy theory page--it's a corker.)

And if you're a local television station, and you want to maintain a shred of journalistic integrity, DON'T throw your incredulity out the window and run stories like this and then have the absolute unmitigated gall to promote your investigative reporter/ombudsman/scam finder segments and blabber about how you're out to protect people from scams.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 11:40 AM | Comments (6)

May 03, 2006

Why the other one was so devastating.

Tsunami Warning After Tonga Quake Lifted

By PESI FONUA, Associated Press Writer

23 minutes ago

NUKU'ALOFA, Tonga - A magnitude 8.0 earthquake struck early Thursday near the South Pacific nation of Tonga, prompting tsunami warnings for as far away as Fiji and New Zealand. The warning was lifted after a tsunami of less than 2 feet was recorded. [...]

There is a natural tendency to discount future warnings when present warnings turn out to be inconsequential.

You do have to enjoy the scientist/press interaction, though--

[...] The warning center's instruments detected there could be small tsunamis with waves of less than 2 feet in areas close to the earthquake, geophysicist Barry Hirshorn said.

"We're not observing much of a tsunami," he said. "Strictly speaking, it's not very devastating." [...]

Well, yes, strictly speaking, whenever there is no damage due to something, that would tend to be not very devastating. Thankfully, we can all rest assured that this thing about speaking in strict terms will in no way deflect criticism of this devastating event away from George Bush.

Or Canadians.


(A two foot high tsunami!? I've had tsunamis that big in my bathtub.)

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 02:30 PM | Comments (0)

Batten down the hatches.

Just got a CNN breaking news alert-- "Tsunami warnings issued for Fiji and New Zealand after earthquake measuring a magnitude of about 8.0 shakes southern Pacific Ocean."

I blame George Bush.

And, of course, Canadians.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 11:36 AM | Comments (0)

April 27, 2006

Baby Birdies!

Here's one just for Miss Janis--Eagle triplets attract admirers online

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — A new set of bald eagle triplets whose nest is perched 70 feet up a white pine in coastal Hancock County is attracting plenty of admirers on the Internet.

A live Web cam is providing viewers with glimpses of the fuzzy little chicks as they stick their heads up over the edge of their nest at feeding times. Even seasoned scientists are thrilled by the up-close and detailed view of an eagle family.

"What is incredibly valuable here is the level of detail," said Wing Goodale, research biologist for the BioDiversity Research Institute in Gorham. "To have this kind of view is truly unique."

The BioDiversity Research Institute mounted the camera in a tree about 40 feet away, and there's no indication that the eagles have caught onto the fact that they're being watched by so many people.

Visits to the Web cam — at http://www.briloon.org — [the actual eagle cam is at http://www.briloon.org/ed/eagle/index.htm Ed.] surged to 20,000 a day when the chicks first hatched during the week of April 10, prompting the company hosting the site to add an additional server to handle the traffic, Goodale said.

The site provides a new still photo of the nest every 30 seconds. Because the tiny eaglets spend most of their time in the bottom of the nest huddled beneath their mother or father, viewers may have to exercise patience until they emerge. [...]

Cute little fuzzballs...

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 08:50 AM | Comments (2)

April 20, 2006

"Mr. Skillzy to the bridge."

Dr. Smith sent me an interesting article detailing the story behind recent hoohah about Iran's "top secret" advances in naval science, most particularly their claim of having supercavitating torpedoes.

I never gave the stories much credence, mainly because all of the jibberjabbering from the Persians sounded pretty much like ululating crazy talk, and second, the media was pretty much ready to wet its collective pants in fear. I have come to gauge my response to anything based upon the level of hysteria exhibited by the media--the greater the shrillness, the more likely I am to not really care that much about it.

IN ANY EVENT, the article details some of the history of this type of weapon, noting that it's not particularly new, having been around since the Cold War, and that it has some rather noticeable drawbacks that limit its tactical utility.

BUT SINCE WE HAVE OUR OWN run silent-run deep sort on the crew, I'd like to ask Mr. Skillzy to give the points made in the article a once-over, and pronounce in his expert opinion if it holds water.

So to speak.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 03:43 PM | Comments (5)

April 11, 2006

In a related story...

[...] "It's like watching mole-rat TV. Just watch them run around and do all the things they do." [...]

Why anyone would rather do that than read Possumblog, I have no idea.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 08:15 AM | Comments (0)

April 10, 2006

One to make sure--

--that Ed Flinn keeps dropping by: Unappealing sooty mangabeys at heart of research battle

By MIKE STOBBE
The Associated Press

ATLANTA (AP) — As monkeys go, sooty mangabeys aren't cute.

Big-fanged, gray and hairy, they simply stare when threatened. Few zoos stock them.

Sounds like my kind of people.

Some animal rights advocates can't even spell the species' name. [...]

Well, there's a shock...

Anyway, for all of your curiosity regarding unappealing sooty mangabeys...

(And yes, I have done this before, when I noted the similarity between mangabeys and the curious affectation some teen girls exhibit in wearing white eyeliner.)

UPDATE! Lest we neglect to mention it--Happy Birthday, Cheeta!

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 02:20 PM | Comments (2)

February 09, 2006

And in the Hard Rock category...

Catherine and her classmates get to go on a field trip here today. She's very excited, and has been talking about it for weeks now.

This makes all four of our kids who've made the tour, and you really have to give Vulcan Materials credit for doing these tours. (Even though they list them under the makes-me-all-itchy title of "Social Responsibility" on their website.)

But the kids always have had a great time, and learn all about the abundance of mineral resources around here--which is pretty much the reason there IS an "around here," around here. They have a handy facility finder to help you or your kid's teacher find out if there is a quarry or other place near you.

Rock on.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 12:16 PM | Comments (0)

January 24, 2006

Fish Talk

In scientific news today, Marc Velazquez sends along this exciting and fascinating article that confirms what I have known all along--namely, that I am in near constant communication with herring.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 10:37 AM | Comments (2)

January 11, 2006

Europeans.

Saw this story this morning--European tech giants craft search engine and it's sorta funny, especially the part where Chirac had to give a speech and say the names "Google" and "Yahoo."

It's also a bit sad that there aren't private European companies capable of coming up with a competing system without the saddle of the government. Sadder still is the primary idea behind the whole venture isn't to make a better mousetrap, but rather seems to be a move to assuage some sort of governmental/societal sense of tarnished Gallic honor, resulting in wasting great wads of cash to reinvent la roue. (Oh, and thanks, Google Language Tool!)

Well, whatever, I guess.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 09:19 AM | Comments (0)

Aaaahh-HA!

I was right! Sorta. Via Instapundit, it turns out that the flaming mouse story wasn't true, but my supposition that this might be a case of trying to get some insurance money doesn't wash either--the poor guy had no insurance.

So, what have we learned?

1. Homeowner's insurance is good.

2. If you don't have it, don't burn stuff near your house.

3. Unlike amateur online hobbyists, newspapers and other media outlets operate under a strict set of reporting guidelines and have multiple layers of editorial checks and balances to insure that rumors and half-truths do not get repeated as fact, and have a wide-reaching standard of ethical behavior that operates to hold them to a higher standard of proof and credulity.

4. If you think about it, mouse fur is pretty short, and like all fur, it would tend to singe off pretty quickly, meaning that if you DID happen to throw a live mouse in a fire, the odds of it surviving are nil, and even worse are the odds of it being able to escape the flames with fur afire, run to a house, up a wall, go inside, and still retain enough heat to start a fire.

UPDATE: BUT WAIT, ACCORDING TO SNOPES.COM, there's MORE! It seems the poor guy can't just keep his mouth shut--now he's saying that the mouse got caught on a GLUE TRAP, he couldn't get it loose, so he threw mouse and glue trap into the fire, THEN the mouse managed to free itself from the melted glue, set itself on fire, and run all the way back to the house and start the inferno.

Ladies and gentlemen, that is one magic mouse.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 08:41 AM | Comments (2)

January 10, 2006

Overwhelming stupidity.

Sorry, but there's a conversation going on outside my door that is indicative of the people I work with and I couldn't let today go without mentioning it.

Seems someone found a sweet potato hidden in a pantry in her house, and it was still intact after what she said was two years. Some sprouts and such, but that's about it. Still looked like a potato. The conversation, in part, was something along these lines:

"Well, you know, you see these agribusiness-grown things that are gray and full of radiation, and it really makes you wonder what we're doing to our food. I mean, they take these things and irradiate them, supposably [sic] to make them safe, and they'd rot in two weeks, and then you have these organic ones and they last for years!"

The depths (or widths) of the idiocy around here are simply breathtaking.

Potatos, if kept in a cool, dark place, will pretty much keep indefinitely, but I wouldn't eat a two-year old one no matter how nice it looked.

Irradiation does not leave radiation in the food.

Potatoes that have been irradiated are done so to for several reasons, including to prevent sprouting--the potato she found just might have been one grown by one of those filthy Big Agriculture places and zapped with evil radiation.

Correlation is not causation--just because you think you've found something that confirms your warped little world-view doesn't make it so.

And please quit getting huffy about conservatives being antiscientific and close-minded goobs who're out to kill everyone on the planet just to make three extra cents on a potato.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 05:05 PM | Comments (2)

You know you're in trouble...

...when I'm your go-to guy for computer technology.

And thus it is for my father-in-law, who just purchased a new computer and had it delivered today. Being that I am the tech-savvy guru in our family (which consists of my knowing to turn the computer off then back on again when it locks up, rather than waste a call to the toll-free tech support line), I get to set it up for him.

Thank heavens it's gotten to the point where the hardest part is finding a place to put the empty boxes.

His old one? I think it's a Korean-made 286 clone. I seem to recall him getting it while Reba and I were courting, which was fifteen years ago, and even then, it was hopelessly useless. It didn't even have a hard drive--you shoved in a 5 1/4 floppy with DOS on it to operate it. It did have the luxury of TWO floppy ports, however. And a dot matrix printer. And a 13 inch monochrome monitor.

Ahh, the good ol' days.

Anyway, it's not like I had anything to do tonight. Or that the kids might have school tomorrow or anything.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 03:35 PM | Comments (4)

December 23, 2005

Next, where do socks go?

Science and the private life of teaspoons

LONDON (Reuters) - Australian scientists have proved what is common knowledge to most people -- that teaspoons appear to have minds of their own.

In a study at their own facility, a group of scientists from the Macfarlane Burnet Institute for Medical Research and Public Health in Melbourne secretly numbered 70 teaspoons and tracked their movements over five months.

Supporting their expectations, 80 percent of the spoons vanished during the period -- although those in private areas of the institute lasted nearly twice as long as those in communal sections.

"At this rate, an estimated 250 teaspoons would need to be purchased annually to maintain a workable population of 70 teaspoons," they wrote in Friday's festive edition of the British Medical Journal.

They said their research proved that teaspoons were an essential part of office life and the rapid rate of disappearance proved that this was under relentless assault.

Regretting that scientific literature was "strangely bereft" of teaspoon-related research, the scientists offered a few theories to explain the phenomenon.

Taking a tip from Douglas Adams' Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy books, they suggested that the teaspoons were quietly migrating to a planet uniquely populated by "spoonoid" life forms living in a spoonish state of Nirvana.

They also offered the phenomenon of "resistentialism" in which inanimate objects like teaspoons have a natural aversion to humans.

On the other hand, they suggested, people might simply be taking them.

I always thought the dish ran away with the spoon. But, I'm not a scientist.

I'd like to know who keeps taking all the money out of my wallet. And bank account. And just where DO socks go? Thankfully, the question of where lost airline luggage goes has been answered.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 09:22 AM | Comments (4)

December 20, 2005

Oh my!

Scientist thinks he's found Mars wreckage

I didn't even realize it had crashed!

Must be still running Windows 95.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 11:51 AM | Comments (0)

December 15, 2005

Relief, maybe.

Shingles vaccine gets qualified 'yes'

By JOHN J. LUMPKIN
The Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — Federal health advisers endorsed a proposed vaccine on Thursday to help battle an often-excruciating disease that afflicts as many as 1 million adults every year.

The Food and Drug Administration's advisory panel on vaccines said the vaccine for shingles appeared to be safe and effective in people aged 60 and older. [...]

I hope this is the real deal--I've known a couple of people who've had flare ups late in life (one being my father-in-law) and it's one of those that cannot be any more unpleasant.

Next, I hope they come up with a better name for the disease. "Shingles" just sounds too much like, well, like shingles. You expect to see someone walking down the street with big square hunks of slate or cedar hung on them. Might as well be stricken with the drapes, or afflicted by the shrubs, or tormented by the clapboards. It's a horrible, itchy, painful, blistery, crusty, scabby sort of disease that really needs something that adequately describes how bad it is.

Obviously, my suggestion is they call it Howard Dean.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 04:26 PM | Comments (2)

I tell you what, them rocket scientists is something else!

Steevil (Famous NASA Scientist and brother of Dr. Weevil AND new father-in-law) just sent me a link to an article in the online version of the Balmer Sun about a pretty darned cool experiment set up between the folks at the NASA and students at the UoMaBC. Go, read! I like hands-on stuff like this.

AND, not only that, Steevil sends a link to a great motivational award that the Gemini and Apollo engineer dudes would hand out to their most smartestest guys. Probably couldn't get away with such shenanigans today. Sadly enough.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 10:06 AM | Comments (0)

December 09, 2005

Stupidity Flux

Larry Anderson, well-known wise man and government contractor, mentioned in one of the comments below a concept I was unfamiliar with, namely, Stupidity Flux. I thought at first it was that new movie with Charlize Theron, but Larry was kind enough to set me straight.

Now, this is going to get all technical and scientifical and all, so if you need any explainatory words, you'll have to ask Larry:

From observation, (Note the scientific tone of that phrase) I have noted that stupid people tend to group with similar people (thus the crowd traveling with Mother Sheehan). From this observation, I deduced that a positive correlation exists between the level of stupidity a person exhibits and their proximity to other stupid people. Thus we see that some agent must be present to account for this phenomenon. From the study of Physics (or it may have been 8th grade science), I remembered that a magnet has a field surrounding it that may be demonstrated with iron filings and a sheet of paper.

My startling contribution to human knowledge occurred when I realized that stupid people must be producing a similar field that interacts with the brains of those who are near them thereby producing more stupidity. I believe the effect to an exponential function (probably at least a cube of the number of idiots present).

The effect on non-stupid people seems to be hair loss or the graying of hair as brain cells are killed as interaction with stupidity flux fields emits a gaseous substance that either causes head hair to fall out or turn gray.

You may have noticed falling or graying hair as the “Toast Master” passes your cube.

I continue to work on a unified field theory to explain ear and nose hair growth.

It...it all makes so much sense now...

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 12:56 PM | Comments (9)

Place your bets, please.

I want wagers on how long it will be before the Moonbat Brigades blame this--

Earth's Magnetic Pole Drifting Quickly

--on George Bush's refusal to sign the Kyoto Accords.

I give it about three hours.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 09:19 AM | Comments (6)

November 01, 2005

Pinky, are you pondering what I'm pondering?

Study: Mice sing in the presence of mates

"Well, I think so, Brain, but I can't memorize a whole opera in Yiddish."

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 01:03 PM | Comments (2)

October 05, 2005

Premium Gasoline--What a Bargain!

It occurred to me the other day as I was filling up on some of that refined oil product we've been stealing from the Iraqis that with the increase in gas prices, something funny has been going on.

Back when gas was around two bucks a gallon for regular, stations would sell their midgrade for 10 cents more, and their premium for 20 cents more per gallon. Which, if I can manage to remember how to work my calculator, means that the cost for premium was about 10 percent more than regular.

Now that gasoline is knocking on three bucks a gallon, I noticed that the same $2.949, $3.049, and $3.149 price spread is still there. Premium still costs 20 cents more per gallon, but the difference between the high and low is now only a bit over six and three-quarters percent.

The reason I did all this figuring was because the other day the valves on the Volvo were rattling a bit more than usual on the regular grade, and I thought about getting a bottle of octane booster for it. But it occurred to me that to fill up with premium would only add about $2 to my bill, while a bottle of junk is more like $4. And now that premium is even less expensive relative to regular gas by percentage, I might decide to spring for it more often, just to keep the noise level down.

Anyway, it also makes me wonder about just exactly how much premium gas REALLY costs to make versus regular.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 10:07 AM | Comments (0)

September 28, 2005

More tarting up.

The Treasury just announced the newest upgrades to the $10 bill--more color, more incongruous graphic devices, more "user friendliness." I don't know about you, but I sure did like it better when they just printed money and didn't try to act like the Post Office. With the State Quarters, and the Lewis and Clark nickles, and the new Buffalo-Jefferson nickles, and the updates to the 50 and 20, it's getting to be a little too much like those ads you see in the back of the Parade magazine for coins with the likeness of Ronald Reagan or Debbie Gibson from various Caribbean islands--"GENUINE LEGAL TENDER!"

And call me crazy, but it seem like a bad idea to put a high quality scan on your website. I realize counterfeiting is illegal, but still, it seems like a pretty good way to encourage people just to print the things out.

Then again, the Post Office has that deal where you can make your own stamps with your own photos on them, so maybe the Mint could come up with a way for you to have currency with your own picture on it. The government already makes money on seignorage, why not tack on an extra dollar and let people buy personalized $10 bills for $11?

If I only knew how to use Photoshop...

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 11:14 AM | Comments (4)

September 27, 2005

BUT!

I just got PHOTOSHOP installed on my work computer!! HOORAY!!

Now I can--uhhh, do...things! With--wiiiith...uhhhhmmm. STUFF! Yeah! I can do things with stuff!

Does anyone know how to use this?

The reason I ask, is that in the infinite wisdom that you find only in a bureaucracy, I now have a spiffy powerful new software on my computer with which I am unfamiliar--and there is no one who can train me to use it. I asked the MIS guy who put it on, "Hey, when will there be a training class?" He shrugged his shoulders and said there are probably some online, and that he's still trying to figure it out by himself as well.

BUT HEY! I'VE GOT PHOTOSHOP!

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 09:07 AM | Comments (10)

September 23, 2005

Pinky, are you pondering what I'm pondering?

Scientists implant human chromosome in mice

I think so, Brain, but "Tuesday Weld" isn't a complete sentence.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 09:52 AM | Comments (0)

September 15, 2005

Pinky, are you pondering what I'm pondering?

Mice Infected With Bubonic Plague Missing

"I think so, Brain, but I find scratching just makes it worse."

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 02:46 PM | Comments (0)

September 14, 2005

Speaking of college professors...

...here's one close to where Ophelia is coming to visit.

Dr. Jim's Weather Dog* says it's raining.


*Something like a Trunk Monkey, a Weather Dog is a handy service animal. A Weather Dog is an invaluable aid in determining climatic conditions. The Weather Dog is allowed out of the house, and upon his return, data can be downloaded regarding current conditions.

If the dog is wet, it is raining.

If the dog is panting, it is hot.

If the dog's fur is all ruffled up, it is windy.

If the dog is shivering, it is cold.

If the dog smells like a skunk, there are skunks around.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 02:41 PM | Comments (0)

August 11, 2005

Hmmm--I wonder...

Review: New blank keyboard for geeks only

By MATT SLAGLE
The Associated Press

DALLAS (AP) — Typing on a Das Keyboard is a lot like typing on any other computer keyboard — except the keys are blank. Most people, especially those who rely on the slow but steady hunt-and-peck technique, might consider that a problem.

Not Daniel Guermeur, chief executive of Austin-based Metadot Corp. The self-proclaimed "uber geek" says he first came up with the idea for a blank keyboard while attending Stanford University in 1989. It was there that the French native noticed others typing much faster than he was. [...]

Two years ago, he built a prototype to test his hypothesis that a blank keyboard would force him to become a better typist. After many people asked him where he bought it, he decided to start making them commercially.

And recently, Guermeur began selling the keyboards for $80 with a new marketing spin: "Das Keyboard. Uber Geeks only." [...]

I see a potentially huge untapped market for

--Numberless calculators
--Blank elevator buttons
--Unmarked speedometers
--VCR displays that blink invisible time
--Conversely, analog clocks with no hands

TO THE LABORATORY!!

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 12:31 PM | Comments (2)

August 09, 2005

Here I was...

...just the other day noting a shift in Russian military policy in the recent rescue of the trapped AS-28 submarine, and then this story comes along.

It seems that the willingness to ask for assistance wasn't quite so easily reached, and might not have come at all had it not been for the story getting out. For the sake of the crew, it's a darned good thing word got out.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 10:44 AM | Comments (3)

Krystal restaurants offer Wi-Fi Internet access

Best of all? YOU DON'T HAVE TO BUY THEIR FOOD!

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 09:33 AM | Comments (6)

Later than normal, but for a pretty good reason.

Had to leave the house a bit later than usual today so I could watch the Shuttle landing. Congratulations to the folks at NASA, and here's hoping that the ongoing problems with the external fuel tank insulation are solved once and for all.

(Of course, my way of solving this would be to accelerate development of a replacement vehicle, but I'll let the rocket scientists figure all that out.)

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 08:44 AM | Comments (0)

August 05, 2005

Well, now, that'll be useful!

OpenOffice.org for Scots Gaelic!

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 09:44 AM | Comments (0)

August 03, 2005

Okay, rocket science dudes...

This story about the unprecedented space walk underneath the nose of the Shuttle has me wondering. It says that astronaut Robinson was able to gently pluck the loose strips from their place between the tiles. Now I always thought that the material was in there to provide a heat barrier as well as cushioning between adjacent tiles. If it's gone, couldn't hot gases penetrate further between the tiles to the underlying layers of stuff? I'm sure the NASA guys figure it's better to take it out than to leave it (or try to jimmy it back into place), but I was just wondering if they can do without it in place now, why was it necessary in the first place?

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 09:53 AM | Comments (5)

July 26, 2005

Hey! Fritz is back!

And has a good post on speed limits.

I am one of those folks who occasionally travel at a more rapid clip than is strictly legal, but I agree wholeheartedly with Fritz on the issue of folks who not only speed, but do so in a reckless manner. There is a difference between driving fast, and driving quickly. It is quite possible to drive faster than the statutory limits (recognizing that doing so is illegal) but without undue danger to your fellow motorists.

First of all, understand your surroundings--look at the overall flow of traffic, not just that right in front of you. If it's 5:15 p.m., it's a pretty good bet the traffic's going to be heavy, and your constant weaving in and out of the rolling chicanes isn't going to get you anywhere any quicker.

Second, look ahead. WAY ahead. I get so tired of people who whip out to pass as soon as they can get by, and then boil down the road and slam on their brakes because they got blocked by someone I could plainly see was moving over. It's very difficult to calmly drive past those types of drivers without pointing and laughing.

Third, sit down, shut up, and drive. Or, pay attention to the task at hand, namely, guiding a large, fast-moving heavy metal object whose only anchorage to terra firma is by a square foot of rubber friction material. Cars are so incredibly capable nowadays that people think they can handle any situation, regardless of what they might be doing at the time. Reading the paper, putting on makeup, sleeping--folks, if you HAVE to do that stuff, take the bus or hire someone to haul your distracted butt around. But don't think that because you have ABS and traction control and air bags that you're invulnerable.

Fourth--I'm in a hurry, too. I promise you, I really am not just out for a Sunday drive. But, be patient and allow the traffic rules to work. Again, look around and way ahead--when you can see that the left lane is indeed working as designed, that is, as a passing lane or through lane--DON'T CUT ME OFF WHEN I TRY TO MOVE TO THE RIGHT AND LET YOU PASS. Just give me a second or two to make sure it's safe for me to move over AND I WILL LET YOU GO PAST. I cannot STAND people who do this--do you really think you're such a hotshot driver, Bub? This AIN'T MARTINSVILLE! Let the traffic flow, and let me get over and out of your way, and THEN you can pass.

Fifth--back off. That whole two second rule deal is pretty good. Leave some space between me and you, so that you don't have to buy yourself a new front bumper, and you don't have to spend several thousand dollars repairing the back end of an old Volvo that's not worth several hundred dollars. I usually have pretty good luck, at least in the evenings, of getting folks to back off by turning on my lights. The sudden appearance of taillights occasionally gets morons to back off, and when they realize you're not trying to jerk them around by tapping the brakes, they don't get quite so inflamed. And it also means you don't have to slow down by putting on the brakes. One trick I intend to use when I get the chance is my car's rear fog lamps. Didn't realize it had them until here lately, but basically it's an auxiliary set of red taillamps controlled by a dashboard switch. Supposed to make the rear end of your car more visible in fog, but also probably pretty good for baiting tailgaters.

Anyway, if you have someplace to go, don't drive too fast--drive quickly.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 10:45 AM | Comments (10)

June 03, 2005

Nothing new under the sun...

From this to this.

Wonder what the old fellow would think?

Probably wonder what took us so long, and why the thing has to look so goofy.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 01:22 PM | Comments (6)

May 19, 2005

May 05, 2005

Okay, so maybe I'm the only one who thinks this is kinda cool.

Old fireplugs never dry...
'On Morris Avenue since 1890, hydrant will go to museum'

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 10:41 AM | Comments (2)

April 15, 2005

Heh.

Scientific Conference Falls for Gibberish Prank

By Greg Frost

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. (Reuters) - A bunch of computer-generated gibberish masquerading as an academic paper has been accepted at a scientific conference in a victory for pranksters at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Jeremy Stribling said on Thursday that he and two fellow MIT graduate students questioned the standards of some academic conferences, so they wrote a computer program to generate research papers complete with nonsensical text, charts and diagrams.

The trio submitted two of the randomly assembled papers to the World Multiconference on Systemics, Cybernetics and Informatics (WMSCI), scheduled to be held July 10-13 in Orlando, Florida.

To their surprise, one of the papers -- "Rooter: A Methodology for the Typical Unification of Access Points and Redundancy" -- was accepted for presentation. [...]

"Rooter" features such mind-bending gems as: "the model for our heuristic consists of four independent components: simulated annealing, active networks, flexible modalities, and the study of reinforcement learning" and "We implemented our scatter/gather I/O server in Simula-67, augmented with opportunistically pipelined extensions."

Stribling said the trio targeted WMSCI because it is notorious within the field of computer science for sending copious e-mails that solicit admissions to the conference.

"We were tired of the spam," Stribling told Reuters in a telephone interview, adding that his team wanted to challenge the standards of the conference's peer review process.

Nagib Callaos, a conference organizer, said the paper was one of a small number accepted on a "non-reviewed" basis -- meaning that reviewers had not yet given their feedback by the acceptance deadline.

"We thought that it might be unfair to refuse a paper that was not refused by any of its three selected reviewers," Callaos wrote in an e-mail. "The author of a non-reviewed paper has complete responsibility of the content of their paper."

However, Callaos said conference organizers were reviewing their acceptance procedures in light of the hoax. Asked whether he would disinvite the MIT students, he replied: "Bogus papers should not be included in the conference program." [...]

I'm gonna have to get me one of those random gibberish spewing computer programs for Possumblog. I've fallen behind by trying to do it the old-fashioned way.

And yes, I believe a review of procedures might be in order for WMSCI.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 12:57 PM | Comments (5)

April 06, 2005

Pinky, are you pondering what I'm pondering?

Cannabis Compound Slows Artery Disease in Mice

I think so, Brain, but if we had a snowmobile, wouldn't it melt before summer?

Posted by Terry Oglesby at 04:45 PM | Comments (0)