“I must say, though, that I wonder how many of you support the use of cats for scientific research?”

"We tried it once but the cats really weren't up to it, bad writing skills and few worthy PHD's among them. I don't think any of them actually got tenure, which is sort of sad."

— Barry Shein

Under the rust, I found...


…more rust.

Spent the weekend at the Motorcycle Safety Foundation’s Basic RiderCourse. After an oddly compelling dream and the subtle prodding of a certain Mr. Lion, I felt the need to at least investigate riding a motorcycle again.

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The Triumph of Saint Hubble


If the Fundies are going to insist that science is just another religion, I think it’s only fair that we have our own religious art.

Bug Nebula

Update: hubblesite.org finally has a page up with details and more images, so I updated the link.

Oh, sure, I'll play along


I guess I’m just an Internet Lemming at heart:

  1. Grab the nearest book.
  2. Open the book to page 23.
  3. Find the fifth sentence.
  4. Post the text of the sentence in your journal along with these instructions.
The Tōkyō Metropolitan Area 首都圏 in particular, although less than 2.0 percent in terms of area, has a concentration of 23.4 percent of the national population.

This is from Japan: Profile of a Nation (Kodansha International, 1999). Surprisingly readable, despite the high information density.

Not livin' the lifestyle


Food magazines are usually about food. Gun magazines are usually about guns. Computer magazines are usually about computers. Some of them creep over into “lifestyle” territory, but not as far as many car or motorcycle magazines. Mags like Cigar Aficionado are clearly about the lifestyle its readers would like to be living, making only a token effort to actually discuss cigars.

What brought this on? Yesterday, my mailbox included a stiff brown envelope containing the latest issue of Lexus, a free magazine sent to Lexus owners. The contents are equal parts lifestyle and advertorial: organic oysters in Scotland, what to do in the Maldives, concept Lexi, titanium bicycles, overpriced gadget “reviews”, wine-making classes, etc.

But the best part was a non-ad for one of the cooler features in new Lexi: the backup camera. Since they already had a color LCD display in most of the new models for the GPS navigation system, they went ahead and added a small digicam just above the rear license plate, to transmit video to the dash when the car’s in reverse. Very handy for getting in and out of parking spaces.

But how do they lead into the “story”?

Anyone who's ever backed up over a hand-made Italian racing bike left casually in a driveway knows that awful crunchy sound, and equally awful feeling.

Just in case the table of contents had left me with any doubts, this confirms that I am not in their target demographic. I’m not sure which aspect of their opinion of their readers is worse: that they’re prone to conspicuous consumption, or that they’re stupid enough to leave a “hand-made Italian racing bike” behind a parked car.

"Boy beats off angry bear"


No, not that way. This way.

There are a lot of things I could say about parents who ship “troubled teens” off to special camps where trained professionals promise to supply some actual parenting, but that’s way out there in After-School Special Land, and I don’t want to go there.

No, I want to question the incredible idiocy of schlepping a bunch of suburban teens around for six weeks in bear country in Alaska (redundant, I know) without so much as a goddamn cap pistol. Nothing but pepper spray and a flare gun, with who knows how many kids under their “protection”. Blech.

Win a lottery without even playing!


The email of my dreams! A lottery you can win $500,000 in without ever buying a ticket! Even better, you don’t even have to know that it exists at all! Just post a comment to someone’s weblog and wait for the robots to come by and scrape your address! And it’s backed by Mr. Bill Gates himself, so it’s got to be real! Oh boy, am I lucky!

Oh, wait, it’s just spam…

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Food addiction: "Nothing to see here, move along"


Here’s the news media’s latest attempt to spin the over-hyped obesity “epidemic” as an addiction. In a study of 12 people who were forced to fast for a day, exposure to food increased metabolism “in the whole brain” by 24 percent. The specific areas of the brain that were most stimulated were “associated” with addiction.

Gee, I wonder what their brains would look like if you deprived them of oxygen for three minutes and then offered them a chance to breathe.

Special privileges for special people


A US Representative on his way back to DC was stopped and politely questioned as to why he was carrying a handgun in his briefcase as he passed through airport security.

According to his press secretary:

"He was asked a couple of simple questions. They just wanted to verify that he wasn't going to do anybody any harm."

I see two reasonable responses: treat this negligent asshole the same way anyone else would be treated, which is pronounced “felony conviction,” or treat the rest of us the way they treated him. Sadly, the reality is that we get worse treatment for packing nail clippers than this clown got for packing a piece.

Note to Indiana residents: he’s up for re-election this year.

Update: he’s been cited for a misdemeanor with a fine of $500 (and the slim-to-none chance of up to a year in jail), but no federal felony charges have been filed. Oddly enough, this might still be enough to permanently revoke his right to own a firearm.

And, yes, it was not only loaded, it was one of those eeeeeevil plastic pistols that the gun-control lobby insists are designed to be smuggled through airport security.

“Need a clue, take a clue,
 got a clue, leave a clue”