Monday, October 31, 2005

Tractor day

Nothing but a picture of a tractor making its way through an orchard.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Sighting the space station

I just watched the International Space Station pass overhead. Very cool indeed.

Friday, October 28, 2005

"FDA Warns Against Cherry Health Claims"

I've never thought of cherries as health food. And, apparently, neither does the FDA.

The cherry industry has promoted the fruit as a health food in recent years. The [Lansing, Michigan-based Cherry Marketing Institute]'s Web site carries information on university studies of the fruit's possible health benefits, describing cherries as "a natural pain killer."

"Recent research has shown that tart cherries contain powerful antioxidants that may help relieve the pain of arthritis and gout and also protect the body against cardiovascular disease and inhibit cancer tumors," says one statement posted on the site. Another describes Montmorency tart cherries as "the healing fruit."

Producers tend to couch their health labels in conditional terms, using words such as "may."

I wonder if this is one of Kevin Trudeau's secrets.

Actually I can't stand cherries, so I don't really care if anyone eats them. But, I guess it would provide justification for the ultimate topping to sundaes.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

"Corpse mistaken for Halloween decoration"

I wonder if this story is real.

If it is, then what kind of neighborhood is it where a hanging body can actually be dismissed as a decoration? Sure, I can understand people ignoring or dismissing plastic witches and inflatable monsters, but those are such kitschy items. Who could mistake them for anything more than fun? But something that looked like a real body?

What would you do if your neighbor put up a decoration like this?

I might keep a closer eye on my neighbor.

(Here's a local version of the story from the News Journal in Wilmington, DE.)

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Chasing the space elevator prize

This was an interesting competition: a space elevator race and a space-age ribbon tug-of-war. The winners, respectively: the University of Saskatchewan and Centaurus Aerospace of Logan, Utah (well, they didn't actually win the prizes, but I call them "winners" because they got closest to the prize and because the whole concept is so cool!).

I can't wait for the next of the space games from NASA.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Fighting panda extinction

The strange obsession with the evolutionary dead-ends known as pandas apparently makes it a news story when one of them hollers as it is poked by a needle.

I am not kidding.

The headline of this story is "Panda Cub Not Thrilled About Latest Shot".

Yes, and my last dog probably wasn't too happy when his manhood got clipped. Oh, but then again, dogs know how to breed, so they are not endangered. Pandas don't, so they are. And, therefore, worthy of every superhuman effort to keep them from disappearing from the earth. And worthy of the Associated Press's attention whenever one barks.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Putting weather in the vacuum of space

Here is a screen capture of Yahoo! News on October 20, 2005. Can you guess which item doesn't belong? (Hint: it's the one that doesn't have to do with space or astronomy.)

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

"Cassini Views Dione, a Frigid Ice World"

The Cassini spacecraft is still going strong, and it recently came pretty close to Saturn's moon, Dione. What's incredible is this picture taken by the probe.

When my wife saw the picture, she said it looks fake, like it's a special effect. Such talk could encourage the moon-landing-hoax believers. But, then again, could anything really discourage them?

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Sucking up to the Chinese

Here is a screen capture of Yahoo! News on October 16, 2005. Can you guess what happened in space news on this day?

Friday, October 14, 2005

"Spyware can constitute illegal trespass on home computers"

Eric J. Sinrod has a column in USA Today about a lawsuit that was brought against a pusher of spyware. Having been the victim of spyware so disabling and persistent I had to reformat my hard drive, I welcome the decision of the court that spyware makers and distributors can be sued for trespass.

The plaintiff asserted that the defendants deceptively downloaded spyware onto thousands of computers.


In addition, the plaintiff asserted that the spyware is designed specifically to be difficult to remove from a computer once it is installed. Worse still, the plaintiff argued that computer users are bombarded with annoying pop-up advertisements by virtue of the spyware. Finally, the plaintiff claimed that the spyware destroys other legitimate software, slows down computers, and depletes bandwith and computer memory.


In sum, and in the words of the court: "Simply put, plaintiff alleges that Spyware interfered with and damaged his personal property, namely his computer and Internet connection, by over-burdening their resources and diminishing their functioning. Accordingly, the court denies (the) motion to dismiss (the) trespass to chattels cause of action."

I know this won't stop the scourge, but maybe it will make some of those pendejos think twice before hijacking and infecting as many computers as they can.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

"World's Oldest Noodles Alter View of Ancient Diet"

According to, the world's oldest noodles are 4,000 years old.
Archeologists excavating an ancient Chinese settlement discovered a small pile of well-preserved noodles after turning over an upside-down clay bowl.

Them's some noodles.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Water bridge

I meant to blog this yesterday. This is a bridge. Over water. Containing water!

I ran across this on, and it just blew my mind! Humans can do some amazing things, and this engineering marvel is testament to what we can do when we try.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Dinosaur morning

Nothing but a picture of a T. Rex.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Anticipating our future

Glenn Reynolds has been following the buzz about the "Singularity". It's an interesting concept that predicts a future time where technology has become so advanced that, at a point called the Singularity, we become more than the humans we are now.

Superhuman intelligence. Biotechnology. Cyborg interfaces.

More human than human.

And we seem to be well on the way to the Singularity already, according to Mr. Reynolds. He may be right about our progress; I definitely think he is on target in this post when he names what should really matter to us on an evolutionary level:
And the technological changes that we're undergoing are likely to be more important than the day to day political and economic and military news that occupies most of our attention. Somebody in a lab somewhere will change our lives more, for better or worse, than Harriet Miers is ever likely to.

Let's just hope that lab isn't being used by al-Qaeda.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Describing Beowulf

In the words of Hrothgar:

Why, I knew him - when he was only a boy;
his father, now dead, - was named Ecgtheow:
Hrethel of the Geats - gave him a wife,
his only daughter. - And so his brave son
has now come here, - seeks a loyal friend!
In fact, the merchants - who used to carry
gifts of coins, - our thanks to the Geats,
said he had war-fame, - the strength of thirty
in his mighty hand-grip. - Holy God
in the fullness of mercy - has sent him to us,
to the Danish people, - if I'm not mistaken,
against Grendel's terror. - I must offer this man
excellent treasures - for his daring courage.

-----Beowulf, translated by Howell D. Chickering, Jr., lines 372-385

"'Beowulf' Turned Into Modern Rock Opera"

Let's hope this treatment does the classic poem justice. My suspicions, however, are that it won't.

Beowulf is historically significant for the English language, but it is also a damn good story. I'm not sure how well it will translate to the stage. This attempt at turning it into a movie didn't seem to work so well.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Speckled sky

Nothing but an early-morning, speckled kind of Texas sky.

"Calif. Gov. OKs Viagra Ban for Offenders"

This seems like a good idea. [Mild understatement!--ed.]
California taxpayers will no longer help pay the cost of impotency drugs for registered sex offenders under legislation signed Tuesday by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Here's the scary part:
Federal support for subsidized Viagra was curtailed earlier this year when a New York state audit found nearly 200 sex offenders benefiting from the program. [emphasis added]

That's 200 convicts whose crimes involved sex getting taxpayers to help them with their erections. It happened. Now let's hope other states follow California's example quickly and make sure local programs don't fund this sort of sickness.

And, if somehow you can justify letting a sex offender get tax-funded Viagra, I would be interested to hear your argument. I seriously doubt you will be able to persuade me, but I would be interested in hearing the argument nonetheless.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Impugning words

Here is an interesting discussion by Jeff Goldstein on language, intent, and interpretation.
Linguistically speaking, we have but two choices: either insist language be ground in the intentions of its utterers, or else conclude that we must each be responsible, in perpetuity, for whatever might be done with our utterance once it leaves our control. ... And if our goal is to hash out policy or to discuss potentially controversial issues, we simply must be able to do so without worry that parties invested in maintaining the status quo are allowed to silence us by assuming control over the terms of debate. [emphasis in original]

Too bad someone else's sensitivities can shut us all up.

Taking millionaires into space

A Russian rocket took off from the Baikonur cosmodrome, and one of the people on board is Gregory Olsen, an American millionaire.

I say, Good.

We need more space tourists, even if they are millionaires at first. As space travel becomes more and more common, the costs will eventually come down (think airline travel in its early days) and more and more people will be able to afford it. Eventually we should see the rise of space liners, and travelling beyond our atmosphere will be as commonplace as going to Las Vegas on Southwest.

I can't wait. I just hope it doesn't take too long.