Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Preview doorknob

This is pretty cool: a doorknob that gives you a preview of what's in the room beyond. Of course, sometimes the point of a door is to prevent people from knowing what is going on on the other side. So I'm not sure how popular this thing is going to be.

(Why does my brain insist on parsing "doorknob" as "doork-nob"?)

Wednesday, November 24, 2010


This (http://www.mcsweeneys.net/2009/10/20nissan.html) is the funniest thing I've read in quite some time. An excerpt:

The next thing I'm going to do is carve one of the longer gourds into a perfect replica of the Mayflower as a shout-out to our Pilgrim forefathers. Then I'm going to do lines of blow off its hull with a hooker. Why? Because it's not summer, it's not winter, and it's not spring. Grab a calendar and pull your fucking heads out of your asses; it's fall, fuckers.

Pardon the lack of hyperlinking: I'm emailing this from my iPhone and the default email client doesn't support embedding hyperlinks. 

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

If I were a terrorist...[UPDATED]

...I'd try to blow up a plane by smuggling explosives up my butt. Then the TSA would insist on sticking their fingers up everyone's butts. With one single act, I would ensure the anal molestation of ever single person who wanted to fly in American airspace. For America-hating terrorists, what could possibly be better than millions of infidels being forcibly sodomized by their own domestic security forces? Osama bin Laden would have me assassinated out of pure envy.

Of course I'd deliberately fail to blow up the plane. Because if I blew up the plane, then the TSA might not figure out that the explosives were up my butt. And that's the whole point of the "attack."

[UPDATED] I'm not the only one thinking about bombs up the butt:

Colleagues of an Islamist terrorist named Abdullah Asiri detonated a bomb inserted up his rectum last year by cell phone in an unsuccessful attempt to kill a top Saudi counter-terrorism official.

Three experts I spoke to this weekend -- two of whom are currently serving in government in counter-terrorism capacities -- believe it is only a matter of time before the technique is tried here. "We have nothing in our arsenal that would detect these bombs," one told me. "There is no taboo that we can see against this technique. Suicide is suicide, it doesn't matter how gross it is."

Airport Security Theater goes nude

I'm going to take the introduction of full body scanners (and subsequent backlash) to re-iterate my contempt for the orgy of airport security theater our in which our government is currently indulging. I am so tired of surrendering my privacy, dignity, tax dollars, and (most precious of all) my time to the enactment of meaningless rituals of humiliation that do nothing to make me safer and keep people in a state of fear and paranoia. Even if these things work like they're supposed to, people wanting to blow up planes will just figure out how to smuggle things in their bags, and all the cost and humiliation will be useless.

And even if these things do make us safer, is it worth it? I'm going to come right out and say it: Let the terrorists blow up a plane or two a year. It's not a big deal. It's only a big deal because people get hysterical about it. People should be concerned about heart disease, stroke, and cancer. And maybe automobile accidents, suicide, and drowning, depending on your demographics. Keep Calm, Carry On. Can we please spend our resources on things that provide a better return on investment? If we took what we're spending on airport security theater and spent it on childhood nutrition, I bet we could save a lot more lives than would be lost due to an increase in successful terrorist attacks. Heck, I'd rather spend the money on tax breaks for multi-millionaires, as repugnant as that is. At least then it wouldn't create a climate of fear and humiliation and clog our air transit network with delays and hassle.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

There is a difference between Democrats and Republicans...

...which is illustrated nicely in this chart from the Washington Post via digby. It shows the difference between the Democratic plan to extend the tax cuts (only for those families making less than $250,000) and the Republican plan.

The Democrats do not fight for the interests of the not-super rich nearly as hard as I want them to. But there is a difference between the two parties.

Torture is American now

It is hard to write about the nonchalant acceptance of our torture program because it seems Washington does not have a conscience capable of being shocked. Having created an institutionalized, bureaucratized, formalized program of cruelty is just blandly accepted, as though it is some force of nature that we were powerless to prevent or even mitigate.
-danps at Open Left

I think the slide to acceptance of torture is one of the great moral failings of our time. Others are the continuation of the drug war, the wage stagnation of the past couple decades, and paralysis in the face of climate change. At least with the latter three, there do seem to be political forces working to mitigate those problems, even if they aren't winning. On the torture issue, it seems it's just Andrew Sullivan and Glenn Greenwald shouting impotently.

Torture is a war crime. Our government authorized torture. Nothing is happening, because people can't think of their fellow Americans as torturers. Or maybe because many people think that torture of the other is OK, they think it isn't illegal.

I support Obama in many of his domestic policy battles against Republicans (like most progressives, I wish he'd fight harder). But I also believe he is complicit in covering up war crimes by not investigating them. And that makes him a war criminal, too.

Quote of the Day

"Right now you can be pro-gay and married to a prominent Republican politician. But you can't be pro-gay and a prominent Republican politician."

-Dan Savage

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Quote of the Day

Kevin Drum on the Simpson-Bowles deficit reduction representations:

To put this more succinctly: any serious long-term deficit plan will spend about 1% of its time on the discretionary budget, 1% on Social Security, and 98% on healthcare. Any proposal that doesn't maintain approximately that ratio shouldn't be considered serious. The Simpson-Bowles plan, conversely, goes into loving detail about cuts to the discretionary budget and Social Security but turns suddenly vague and cramped when it gets to Medicare. That's not serious.

[I sent this from my iPhone, so please excuse any excessive brevity or typographical errors.]
--Zachary Drake

Image of the day

Yes, you can actually play the game.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

"New Self-Cloning Lizard Found in Vietnam Restaurant "

I think that qualifies for Internal Monologue's headline of the day:

You could call it the surprise du jour: A popular food on Vietnamese menus has turned out to be a lizard previously unknown to science, scientists say.

What's more, the newfound Leiolepis ngovantrii is no run-of-the-mill reptile—the all-female species reproduces via cloning, without the need for male lizards.

Single-gender lizards aren't that much of an oddity: About one percent of lizards can reproduce by parthenogenesis, meaning the females spontaneously ovulate and clone themselves to produce offspring with the same genetic blueprint.

Maybe species hunters should pay more attention to restaurants. I suppose a cloned species would have culinary advantages: you could develop very specific cooking procedures and not have to worry too much about individual variation.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Forget the UN, Google is what counts

Nicaragua accidentally invades Costa Rica and blames Google Maps for the error. Someone at Microsoft is smiling:
Perhaps the most embarrassing thing for Google, though, is that competitor Microsoft has the border definition right on its maps. If Nicaraguan commander Pastora had used Bing Maps, the entire red-faced incident might never have happened.
You know that disclaimer those maps often print ("to be used for planning purposes only, make sure the road is still there, etc.")? Maybe they need to include some legal boilerplate about "this map not to be used for invasion planning purposes."

Monday, November 08, 2010

Their brains are connected

Fascinating article about 4-year old craniopagus twins:

They are the rarest of the rarest of the rare. Tatiana and Krista are not just conjoined, but they are craniopagus, sharing a skull and also a bridge between each girl’s thalamus, a part of the brain that processes and relays sensory information to other parts of the brain. Or perhaps in this case, to both brains. There is evidence that they can see through each other’s eyes and perhaps share each other’s unspoken thoughts. And if that proves true, it will be the rarest thing of all. They will be unique in the world.

They have been drawing international attention, both public and scientific, since before their birth. Dr. Douglas Cochrane, a neurosurgeon at Children’s Hospital, is part of the team that has been watching over them since they were in the womb. Last year he conducted tests in which one twin looked at an object while he measured the brain activity in the other. “Their brains are recording signals from the other twin’s visual field,” he cautiously concluded. “One might be seeing what the other one is seeing.”

It's so sad they have so many health and developmental issues. I wonder if they can help teach us how brains can connect on a neuronal level to other things. I hope they are happy. Sorta puts my own special needs kid difficulties in perspective.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

What time of year do people break up?

The methodology is a bit crude (a simple search for the string "we broke up because") but the results are fascinating. Peak breakup times: post Valentine's Day and pre-Christmas.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

How swing voters decide to vote

You really don't need much more election analysis than this.

Oh yeah, there's an election.

Vote. I did. Please don't vote Republican.

I voted for California Proposition 19. I understand there are problems with it, but ending the drug war is probably one of the best things this country can do for itself domestically. I am so ready for the prohibition era to be over.

Vote no on California Propositions 23 and 26. They are not good.

Back to searching for a job...