Who Wants Yesterday's News?


News and Site Updates Archive 2005/07/12 - 2006/10/07

To a philosopher all news, as it is called, is gossip, and they who edit and read it are old women over their tea.

- Henry David Thoreau

7 Oct '06 - To Mark - thank you for your lovely email.  You inspired me into finally posting an update...
     An extraordinary new building on Spring Street in SoHo, New York, the new Thomas Heatherwick-designed Longchamps store, has 55 tons of sliced steel sculpted into a series of rocky slopes up which you can walk - or climb - to get to the new Longchamp luggage store...  Create unbelievable treats with a few scoops of your favorite ice cream or gelato and this Spaghetti Ice Cream Maker™.  Add your own strawberry sauce and grated white chocolate (not included) to top off the "spaghetti look"...  How to store apples for a long, long time...  The most beautiful girl in the world?  Just keep watching if you don't believe it...  Oil is used in many everyday objects - more than you may have ever imagined.  Learn a little bit about how oil may have been used for more than just to power your car...  Mobile phones encourage a privatization of public space.  Whereas once the voices in public places were always directed to other people who were present, a great back-turning seems to have taken place.  A voice on a bus is now as likely to be speaking to someone invisible and absent as someone else sitting on the bus.  As a result, the public zone becomes a sort of refuse tip, cluttered with the useless chaff of private conversations intended for someone somewhere else...  The overly socialized voice may sound sophisticated, kind, efficient, even charming, but it is rarely compelling, never unique, and always hollow.  - Charles Harper Webb The Cortland Review.

     Rovos Rail in South Africa offers the Royal Suites, each of which take up half a carriage, are spacious and elegant, measuring 16 sq metres in size (172 sq ft).  Each has its own private lounge area and full bathroom with Victorian bath and separate shower.  The very spacious suites offer passengers the opportunity to travel in privacy, comfort and luxury, with fittings and facilities that are of the highest standard.  All are equipped with a writing surface, a personal safe for valuables, a bar fridge filled with beverages of the passengers’ choice and room service available 24 hours a day...  Or why not visit Gibraltar?  You'll feel right at home.

     Brilliantly creative art needing only a plain paper and a sharp knife...  "With ash, mahogany or beech, a flat-panel LCD stands out on any desk more than it would were it a solid black.  The devices are more human because they combine technology with an old-world feel."  So says Swedx general manager Jan Salloum, seller of custom-designed monitors, keyboards and mice encased in timber...  Paganini's Caprice #24 perfectly played - on the guitar...  Around 40 litres of water evaporates from the soil under an average house every day...  "Wooden" rugs made of wool...  There is no sense in being stupid, if you can't prove it!...  Global tropical cyclone tracks which formed worldwide from 1985 to 2005 - a curious beauty of their own.

     I'll try to be more prompt (and thorough) next time!

4 Sep '06 - I'm late (again) because I had meant to get this up by the end of August but school has started - what can I say?  This is my last semester, but I won't actually graduate until the school year ends at the end of May, though I won't have any classes the last term.  However, the extra few months will give me ample time to do postproduction on Wolf's and my senior thesis project - a 35-minute animation called Mannyapolis.  It's set on the planet Gaba which is inhabited by mannequins - all male (until Manny gets the bright idea of making a female of his own after meeting one).  We will get a screening at a local theatre and remotely possibly even in New York (a filmmaker's dream).  Our movie is about the angst of finding what you want to do in life and settling down after a few (mis)adventures - standard fare in a non-standard setting.

     Paul Salopek has a quartet of articles in the Chicago Tribune called A Tank of Gas, A World of Trouble wherein he investigates America’s dependency on foreign sources of oil.  He starts with a suburban Chicago gas station - a new small-retailer-owned Marathon station in South Elgin which is restocked from a tank farm near O'Hare International Airport that is in turn supplied directly by the Illinois Robinson refinery - and continues to the Gulf of Mexico, Nigeria, Venezuela and Iraq - the places which extracted the petroleum sold.  He analyses “crude slate” - the recipe for the crude oil that refineries use designed to allow a refinery to produce usable gasoline at certain pollution levels to maximise profit for the refiner (involves balancing expensive low-sulfur petroleum against cheaper high-sulfur petroleum).  One such slate for the South Elgin Marathon station: Gulf of Mexico crudes – 31%, Texas crudes – 28%, Nigerian crudes – 17%, Arab Light from Saudi Arabia – 10%, Louisiana Sweet – 8%, Illinois Basin Light – 4%, Cabinda crude from Angola – 3%, N’Kossa crude from the Republic of Congo – .01%.  Milton Copulos, president of the National Defense Council Federation, wrote a 2003 paper titled "America’s Achilles Heel: The Hidden Cost of Imported Oil" wherein he calculated the "real cost" of a gallon of gasoline, including what the US pays for military presence in unstable regions, to be an additional cost (over the pump price) of $3.68 for Persian Gulf oil.  He updated his figures for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in March, now saying a real-cost addition is $4.10/gallon for gas from anywhere, but $7.41 for a Persian Gulf gallon...  Two goldfish are in a tank.  One of them turns to the other and says, "Do you know how to drive one of these things?"

     Strange statues around the world...  "When you're setting a price, you're sending a signal.  If your competitor's software ranges in price from about $100 to about $500, and you decide, 'Heck, my product is about in the middle of the road, so I'll sell it for $300,' well, what message do you think you're sending to your customers?  You're telling them that you think your software is 'eh.'  I have a better idea: charge $1,350.  Now your customers will think, 'Oh, man, that stuff has to be the cat's whiskers since they're charging mad coin for it!'  And then they won't buy it because the limit on the corporate AMEX is $500.  Misery. "  (A truly well-written Joel Spolsky article...)  Consumer Reports found more than 1/3 of American computer users with access to the Internet don't use software to block or remove spyware.  In addition, nearly 2.5 million households with broadband links don't bother to erect an electronic firewall to prevent unauthorized use of the connection.  Consumers face a 1-in-3 chance of being a cybervictimised.  Amazingly, according to the survey, consumers lost $630 million over the past 2 years to e-mail scams and spent $7.8 billion to correct problems caused by the viruses and spyware they acquired...  How many surrealists does it take to screw in a light bulb?  Two.  One to hold the giraffe, and one to fill the bathtub with brightly colored machine tools.

     If you saw an ad for "safe party glasses " you might think of plastic champagne flutes but it just might refer to a product which "produces unique and varied lighting effects, such as chasing, pulsing, fading and flashing.  They capture inquisitive minds, therefore holding the attention and focusing on the object being illuminated, which in this case is your face."  You will stand out in a crowd.  Ahem.  Being able to see in the dark is an added benefit...  Farecast is a useful site if you happen to live in or near one of the 55 US cities they serve - although they do have plans to expand, even to including some non-US cities.  You type in dates you want to fly and they tell you what the fare trends are - if you would save money by waiting until next month, flying in the middle of the night or staying an extra day.  They also tell you which airline to call.  Useful...  Old Testament parenting: "Sit just as I have told you, and do not lean to one side or the other, nor slide down until you are nearly slid away.  Heed me; for if you sit like that, your hair will go into the syrup.  And now behold, even as I have said, it hath come to pass..."  "'Tell a devout Christian ... that frozen yogurt can make a man invisible,' Harris writes, 'and he is likely to require as much evidence as anyone else, and to be persuaded only to the extent that you give it.  Tell him that the book he keeps by his bed was written by an invisible deity who will punish him with fire for eternity if he fails to accept its every incredible claim about the universe, and he seems to require no evidence whatsoever.'" - Richard Dawkins...  Someone that knows three languages is trilingual.  Someone that knows two languages is bilingual.  What do you call someone that only knows one language?

     Scott Wade's dirty car art gallery: the images drawn in the dust are quite impermanent; they change over time - more dust accumulates as the car is driven; early morning dew streaks and dots the image, creating a patina; a light shower creates a deeper patina...  Three in four New Jersey seniors aged 55 and over gamble.  According to the most recent poll by Fairleigh Dickinson University 's PublicMind, of those who do gamble, 23% are disordered gamblers.  ”Disordered gambling” is indicated by yes answers to one or more in a series of standard psychiatric screening questions, such as feeling shame related to gambling or gambling as a way to escape from personal problems.  For NJ seniors with some form of gambling problem, the average amount of money spent per year in casinos is more than 3x higher than that spent by gamblers without any problems ($14,304 to $3,899).  For lottery gambling, the disparity between safe gamblers and disordered gamblers is even greater, nearly 6xmore ($1,161 to $200).  Correct me if I'm wrong, but I calculate that the average NJ senior spends $4,800/year in a casino and $330 on lottery tickets.  It boggles the mind...  "How odious it must be to a sensible manly people, to find him who ought to be their father and protector, taking advantage of public calamity and distress, and their tenderness for their bleeding country, to force down their throats laws of imposition, abhorrent to common justice and common reason!  Why will [he] make himself the hateful instrument of reducing a free people to the abject state of vassalage; of depriving us of those liberties which have given reputation to our country throughout the world?" - from a letter Benjamin Franklin wrote to Pennsylvania Governor Robert Norris.

     The Comfort Sphere is a whole new concept in exhibition space.  Inspired by Eero Aarnio's "Ball Chair" from 1963, the Comfort Sphere creates an intimate presentation space with the latest equipment where senses are seduced and your sense of time shifts...  Also from that same site: Similar to a Segway - those who have been left paraplegic can regain some quality of life with this standing wheelchair which allows them to stand upright, experiencing the world from their former perspective.  Also, designed in Hungary, the Kenguru is a car specially for wheelchair users.  The car’s interior space has no front seat – just a space built to house the driver’s own wheelchair so all he/she has to do is simply roll in through the extra large car doors and into position.  The wheelchair locks into place, within easy reach of the car’s controls which are centred around a joystick.  It’s light years away from the current options for disabled drivers, which involve having to hoist themselves into the driver’s seat of standard cars...  Just when you think you've seen it from every angle - an unbelievably beautiful shot of the Golden Gate Bridge...  Who is Burkhard Heim?  He is the proposer of a hyperdrive theory.  What is that, you ask?  Take a magnetic coil several metres in diameter capable of sustaining an enormous current density (most engineers say this is not feasible with existing materials and technology but Roger Lenard, space propulsion researcher at Sandia National Laboratories in New Mexico thinks it might just be possible because Sandia runs an X-ray generator known as the Z machine which "could probably generate the necessary field intensities and gradients") and if Heim is right, you could be on Mars in a few hours.  At least a few scientists think he might be right...  A recipe for Kitty Litter Cake.  (The same site also has a brief article on eating tarantula (tastes like crab)...  How do you get a bass player off your front porch?  Pay him for the pizza.  How do you get a guitarest to stop playing?  Put sheet music in front of him.  What do you call a drummer without a girlfriend?  Homeless.

     Cruzin Cooler combines two basic necessities of life, the ability to have cold food or a beverage handy along with the means to get somewhere, without walking (trailer for a small friend optional)...  China executed more than 4 times as many convicts as the rest of the world combined last year - Amnesty International estimates at least 1,770 executions in China versus 60 in the US, but says the toll could be as high as 8,000.  Executions are recorded and played live to local law enforcement to ensure the job is done.  Corpses are typically driven to a crematorium and burned before relatives can view them, perhaps due to huge profits from the sale of prisoners' organs.  68 different crimes — more than 1/2 non-violent offenses such as tax evasion and drug smuggling — are punishable by death...  Tomohiro Kono, a biologist at the Tokyo University of Agriculture, and his team of researchers set out to produce a mouse from two eggs.  In 2004, he succeeded, producing a mouse named Kaguya that not only lived to be born but grew to adulthood, and produced offspring of her own in the more usual manner.  A gene called IGF2 is required for proper fœtal growth and is only active in sperm.  The gene H19 is active in eggs, and aids in deactivating IGF2.  By removing H19 from very immature eggs, researchers enabled IGF2 to activate as it would in a sperm cell.  The team produced 457 fertilised eggs using the modified ova.  Of those, 371 survived long enough to be implanted in a female mouse.  From those came 10 live births - but only one mouse lived to adulthood and reproduced...  New York-based architects Benjamin Aranda and Chris Lasch propose a 10 mile spiral for Las Vegas that will allow you to play slots, roulette, get married, see a show, have your car washed, and ride through a tunnel of love, all without ever leaving your car.  It is a compact Vegas, enjoyed at 55 miles per hour and topped off by a towering observation ramp offering views of the entire valley floor below (having your car washed at 55-miles per hour could be interesting)...  Tie a helium-filled balloon to something located in roughly the centre of your car - so that it is free to float in any direction - and then drive off.  When you accelerate, brake, or turn sharp corners, what do you predict will happen to the balloon?  It will likely be unexpected.  If you slam on the brakes, the balloon, rather than flying forward, will jerk backward toward the rear.  If you accelerate, inertia tugs backward on your head, but the balloon will appear to be trying to beat your car to the next intersection.

     Angel of Death - a stunning photo of a helicopter sending out incendiary devices of some sort...  A Swiss army knife that weighs a kilo and contains 85 different instruments (the Swiss army must have big pockets!)...  The Middle East buddy list - who likes whom?...  The Confederados were southern plantation owners who refused to accept northern rule after the South lost the US civil war.  Almost 10,000 of them immigrated to Brazil and established plantations there.  Many of their descendents are still there, eating pecan pie and having debutante balls...  Looked at in the right way, almost anything can be beautiful.  Check out this photo of - well - mucous...  One is only micrometers wide, the other is billions of light years across.  One shows neurons in a mouse brain, the other is a simulated image of the universe.  Together, they suggest surprisingly similar patterns found in vastly different phenomena...  A flashlight which uses the Faraday Principle of Electromagnetic Energy - shake it for 15 - 30 seconds, and it provides up to 5 minutes of continuous light...  The Ms Senior Sweetheart winner - what would I give to look that good at 85?...  In any worst music video ever contest, this would certainly be a frontrunner...  A gorgeous (quite large) picture of the sun...  Edward Tufte answers questions dealing with information design - some surprisingly useful information.

     Wothahellizat: The big WORT (Weird Off-Road Truck), or Winnebago meets Mad Max...  Need a spare bedroom so seldom that it isn't worth having one?  Here is a possible solution...  Cursor kite...  Play with a graphical puppet to create an animation...  These photos of Nigeria form part of the curriculum for a geography class at the U of Northern Iowa.  While I haven't been to Nigeria myself, these must constitute a sound basis for forming an opinion of what living in Nigeria is actually like.  I started with Jos...  A House-To-GoTM is a great place to stay on-site while your main home is being built.  Then, after the building is done, use your House-To-GoTM as a guest house or home office.  Starting at $37,000, come and get it with a truck...  Brazilian archaeologists have found an ancient stone structure in a remote corner of the Amazon that may cast new light on the region's past...  Furniture growers...  Say "red leather, yellow leather" five times fast.

Person 1: Knock knock.
Person 2: Who's there?
Person 1: Control freak.
Person 1: Now you say "control freak who?"
Knock knock.
Who's there?
The interrupting cow.
The interr--

31 July '06 - I'm actually uploading this on 2 August, but I had meant to do it in July, so pretend along with me.

     The Phoenix 1000 is a 65-meter (213') personal luxury submarine.  The interior area is in excess of 460 square meters (5,000 square feet).  Unlike surface yachts, when the water gets rough, the submarine can submerge into a perfectly smooth and quiet environment, continuing on toward its destination.  Estimated price only $78 million - why wait?  Buy one today!...  Unusual aerial photography.  I didn't find the site as easy to navigate as I would have liked, but perhaps that's because there are so many pictures.  I would suggest typing "rollercoaster" (all one word) into the search bar - or else check out the "Housing - circular" in the category list.  There are lots of interesting shots, but then I am attracted to bird's eye views...  Have a book you've written and want to publish but no one seems interested?  Check out Lulu as an option - you do the editing and layout yourself, then upload it to the book to them.  They market it similar to Amazon.  When a book is ordered, it can merely be downloaded or else a hardcopy can be sent which is printed after the order is placed.  It costs you nothing and you might even make something...  If you don't mind pdf files too much, check out the concept of choice enabled packaging.  My conclusion is that it will never take off - but if I were always right, I'd be rich.  The idea is blister buttons of various flavourings so that you can personalise your beverage, paint or fragrance just so...  What must be the worst road in the world - called the Highway of Death - is in the Bolivian Andes.  It goes up and down 3,600 metres over its 64 kilometre length.  Stay alert and don't make a single false move!...  How do you get a lawyer out of a tree?  Cut the rope.

     Like the dog?  it is copyrighted by the Hitler Historical Museum, so you can guess which famous would-be artist drew it.  Some of his works are for sale at notoriety-inflated prices...  Dinner in the Sky is just what it sounds like - a rectangular table seating 22 people has a cut-out centre where the chef, waiter and entertainer are located.  The whole contraption is lifted 50 metres in the air by a portable crane and dinner is served.  Guests are strapped to their chairs (make such you visit the loo beforehand!) and a second crane (extra $) can lift a platform with musicians - or your product which you are trying to pitch to this now-captive audience.  The base price is about 10,000 Euros - but it IS out of the ordinary and there is a roof available in case of rain.  Depending on where you place the crane, the view could be spectacular...  The 178-nation Happy Planet Index lists the south Pacific island of Vanuatu as the happiest nation on the planet, while new Zealand is 94th and the UK is ranks 108th.  The index is based on consumption levels, life expectancy and happiness, rather than national economic wealth measurements such as GDP.  Among the world's largest economies, Germany is ranked 81st, Japan 95th, while the US comes in at 150th...  Number of Iraqi civilians killed in the US's war?  As many as 250,000.  Number of officially acknowledged US military personnel who have died: 2,549.  Cost thus far?  $296,608,115,067...  Dozens of animals have been cloned - mice, cats, cows, pigs, horses and, most recently, a dog - but it's becoming increasingly clear that they are all, in one way or another, defective.  The most common defect is known as large-offspring syndrome - clones are born larger than normal which have trouble breathing in their first few weeks.  Some have incomplete body walls, with muscles and skin around their abdomen that failed to properly join.  Others have abnormalities in kidney and brain function.  In still others, the heart does not develop normally, and the walls that are supposed to separate fresh blood from deoxygenated blood do not form.  When surviving clones mate with other clones, they accumulate abnormalities.  But cloning replacement cells is doable.

     The Wellcome Trust Biomedical Image Awards 2006 represent the very best in biomedical science imaging.  The colour-enhanced scanning electron micrograph to the left shows a close-up view of the painkiller aspirin.  (Image: Annie Cavanagh and Dave McCarthy)...  At 40 miles from Pluto to the sun, the largest complete 3-dimensional scale model of the Solar System in the World is the Maine Solar System Model built by the people of Aroostook County, Maine...  When people in business meet for the first time to discuss a transaction, they often exchange "trust cues" - reciting empty phrases such as "win-win," "synergy," or "principles."  Origins are found in early religious rituals - religions spread by producing the trust cues necessary for large societies to develop and trade to emerge.  These cues facilitated peaceful interactions among strangers: "I am a member of a trustworthy group; I value my membership and know that lying to or cheating another member could cause me to be excommunicated.  Since you are also a member, you can trust me not to lie to you or to cheat you."  In the best groups, membership is valuable and excommunication is costly because the group monitors its members' behaviour closely.  The most trustworthy members are willing to sacrifice for the group - for example, attending church every week and paying tithe demonstrates religious loyalty.  David Hume argued that truths are either matters of logic (like mathematical theorems) or matters of observation (like laws of gravity); beliefs that can't be verified by data or logic constitute dogma.  The main reason non-verifiable ideas survive is that they serve as trust cues.  (Nicholas Wade, Before the Dawn 2006 via Arnold Kling, "That's Your Cue" TCS Daily)

Are CEOs worth it?
From 1950 to 1959 CEOs earned 47 times what the average worker made.
From 1960 to 1969 they earned 39 times what the average worker made.
From 1970 to 1979 they earned 40 times what the average worker made.
From 1980 to 1989 they earned 69 times what the average worker made.
From 1990 to 1999 they earned 187 times what the average worker made.
But from 2000 to 2003 CEOs earned 367 times what the average worker made - will the trend continue indefinitely?

Data is from the study "Trends in CEO Compensation" by economists Carola Frydman of Harvard University and Raven Saks of the Federal Reserve Board...  The world consumes 3 billion gallons of oil a day.

30 June '06 - I recently had the pleasure of watching Michael Apted's 7Up series, which follows the lives of a number of schoolchildren from the age of 7, visiting them every 7 years until the age of 42 (they are now 49).  I saw all 6 movies in the space of 2 days (skipping most of the repetitive parts, which I feel should have been excised for this compilation), and found it profoundly interesting to see how much of the adult was visible in the child if you just knew how to interpret it.  The sample size was too small for me to draw any firm conclusions, but I can see where the conclusions are there to be drawn for those professionally trained to do so...  To FRFT unitholders: I know your cheques were small, but you'd not have got them at all were it not for the diligence of James Macfarlane, Esq of Waiau, N. Canterbury.  If persistence is a virtue, then he's certainly virtuous.

     Minims, or "Man Is the only Animals that Wears Bow Ties"...  What would I call this?  Fractal photography, perhaps?  Pictures made of pictures made of (and so on)...  Possibly the best shuttle take-off shot I've ever seen...  Making friends with a pelican...  Does the earth seem large to you?  Or small?  Size is relative.  If Antares were the size of a grapefruit, our sun would be the size of a pixel...  The richest 10% of French people are approximately 50 times better off than the poorest 10%...  A study shows that joking or sarcastic emails sent out to everyone in your address book are only half as funny to the recipients as the you think they're going to be...  A very unusual optical illusion...  If the Vikings were around today, they would probably be amazed at how much glow-in-the-dark stuff we have, and how we take so much of it for granted (Jack Handey)...  A deceptively simple IQ test that should take you less than 10 minutes to finish...  Light playing on water drops, dust or ice crystals in the atmosphere produces a host of visual spectacles - rainbows, halos, glories, coronas and more...  US$230 (plus shipping) for a small desktop fan?!  Are you nuts?  Okay, it costs a lot - but it's cool...  See for yourself what the weather's like in Wellington any time you want...  European Space Agency animation of what it would look like from space if a large meteor struck the earth.

     An ADU, also known as a "mother-in-law" or "granny" unit, is an additional living unit that has separate kitchen, sleeping, and bathroom facilities, attached or detached from the primary residential unit on a single-family lot.  ADUs provide housing opportunities through the use of surplus space either in or adjacent to a single-family dwelling.  In most cases they are either a garage conversion or a small backyard cottage or guest house style structure.  The purpose of the City of Santa Cruz (California) Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) Development Program is to "help minimize the impact of population growth on the community by providing more rental housing in the developed core of the city, to promote infill development to help preserve the surrounding natural greenbelt and to foster the use of public transportation within the city" - admirable goals, all, and a program other cities would do well to emulate.  The link is to the page showing the seven approved design plans (toward the bottom of the page).  The city has also put together a step-by-step booklet, including information on grants and low-cost loans available to help with costs...  Is it a table?  0r is it art?  Clouds of birds.  Really...  What is your name in Hawaiian?...  I know you've been asking yourself: How large is the Wayback Machine?  The Internet Archive Wayback Machine contains almost 2 petabytes of data and is currently growing at a rate of 20 terabytes per month.  This eclipses the amount of text contained in the world's largest libraries, including the US Library of Congress...  SustainLane (San Francisco) has issued its 2006 ranking of US cities across 12 "sustainability" categories such as clean air, water, local foods, city revitalizations employing green building techniques, commitment of public health and a strong local economy.  The 2006 top cities in order are: Portland, San Francisco, Seattle, Philadelphia, Chicago, Oakland, New York City, Boston, Denver, Minneapolis.

     Cartoon Network's Robot Chicken did an awesome stop-motion animation of Emperor Palpatine getting a call from Darth Vader about the Death Star being blown up.  (What the hell is an aluminium falcon?!!)...  In different languages what do we say to mimic animal sounds?  It seems that even animals speak different languages in different countries... And finally, mishaps that cost millions of dollars aren't normally funny, but this is an exception.  Ciao.

31 May '06 - I thought once school was out for the summer, I could spend lots of time updating my website.  Instead, I've been working about 40 hours a week on the animation that will be my senior thesis project - longer and much more detailed than our last project.  Just because we've been animating for 3 years doesn't mean I know anything, however - researchers have shown it takes about 10 years to develop expertise in a wide variety of areas, including chess playing, music composition, painting, piano playing, swimming, tennis, programming and animation.  There appear to be no real shortcuts to learning something complex: even Mozart, who was a musical prodigy at age 4, took 13 more years before he began to produce world-class music.

     When you screw-up you tend to blame it on an external cause (I'm sorry I was rude - I was in a hurry to catch a bus).  But when you watch someone else screw up you're more likely to blame their personality (he was rude because that's just the kind of person he is).  This is called the Actor/Observer Difference, where you (the actor) tend to blame your behaviour on external factors (circumstances), but blame internal factors (personality or disposition) for the behaviour of people you observe.  The difference is because you know yourself and your influences and know what to blame.  But unless you get to know somebody quite well or else were paying attention to what might have influenced his/her behaviour, you don't usually know what causes others to behave the way they do - so everyone else seems one-dimensional.  One phenomenon that springs out of this is road rage.  Since there aren't enough clues to tell you why other drivers behave the way they do, you view them as all as a bunch of jerks...  The top 15 skylines in the world - with 3 honourable mentions, so they may as well have said the top 18.  I would have left off Frankfurt, Sao Paulo and Shenzhen and kept it the top 15.  What do I have against those 3?  Nothing, really - they just seem to lack an artistic balance...  What to do if your identity is stolen...  Males produce one thousand sperm cells each second - 86 million each day.

     Architectural stuff: A soaking tub - or really lovely showers or shower tiles that tell you the temperature of the water by changing colour like a mood ring...  Designed to impress while cooking, the Molteni Podium is a futuristic looking oval shaped kitchen island that is literally an entertainment machine...  Or maybe you'd prefer a kitchen that folds away?  Or a round one?  Hate ugly radiators?  Check out clear glass heaters (sorry, it's a pdf file)...  The AIRgrip® laser level uses a small battery-powered motor to intake air and creates a vacuum on the bottom of a rubber pad to that it can stick to painted walls, untreated drywall, most wallpaper and many other non-porous surfaces.  Unlike devices that use pins, nails or expensive adhesive tapes, this level will not leave a single mark on a wall, yet is powerful enough to adhere either vertically or horizontally for several hours at a time...  Toilet snorkel - In most fires, it's the smoke that will get you, and a source of fresh air can be a life saver. So our inventor designed a way to snake a snorkel through the zigs and zags of your toilet, so you can breath sewer air instead of smoke.
     Antiwar posters...  The goal of the Confluence Project is to visit each of the latitude and longitude integer degree intersections in the world, and to take pictures at each location. The pictures, and stories about the visits, will then be posted on their site. The number of sites they already have is impressive...  The speed of light is generally rounded down to 186,000 miles per second but in exact terms it is 299,792,458 m/s (metres per second - that is, 186,287.49 miles per second.  It takes 8 minutes 17 seconds for light to travel from the sun's surface to the earth, .13 seconds to travel around the Earth, and 2 million years to reach the nearest large galaxy, Andromeda. If the sun were merely an inch in diameter, its nearest neighbouring star would be 445 miles away...  Got enough coasters?  Then check out how to make a lamp from old CDs...  Jet-powered car- not an urban legend this time, but a vehicle modified by someone with his doctorate in mechanical engineering...  Warren Buffett on CEO salary transparency: "It's interesting that when someone gets a $2 million bonus, they're wonderfully happy, until they find out the next person got $2.1 million.  Then they're miserable for the rest of the year."

Most dangerous destinations
2006: Forbes Magazine
Cote d'Ivoire
Democratic Republic of the Congo
Papua New Guinea
Russia (Chechnya)
      The Montana Sedition Project - 40 men and 1 woman sent to prison for saying the wrong thing...  In 1849, David Atchison became President of the United States for just one day, and he spent most of the day sleeping....  Apparently George W Bush has renamed the "war on terror - it is now "World War III". This is scary...  Topological and engineering frontiers have been conquered!  You can now buy genuine glass Klein Bottles - closed, non-orientable, boundary-free manifolds, the ultimate in non-orientability...  Ever wondered what the sphinx would look like with a nose?  It was the custom in Ancient Rome for the men to place their right hand on their testicles when taking an oath. The modern term "testimony" is derived from this tradition...  Freddie the fox - 33 Flickr photos of a curiously tame wild animal...  There are more living organisms on the skin of each human than there are humans on the surface of the earth.  Microbial life can survive on the cooling rods of a nuclear reactor and micro-organisms have been brought back to life after being frozen in perma-frost for 3 million years...  One thing a computer can do that most humans can't is be sealed up in a cardboard box and sit in a warehouse...  A musical realisation of the hypnotic motion graphics of John Whitney...  There are 60,000 miles of blood vessels in the human body. An individual blood cell takes about 60 seconds to make a complete circuit...  "Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting different results." - Albert Einstein...  The Ryugyong Hotel is a structure 1,082 feet tall with 105 floors and encloses 3.9 million square feet of floor space - and it is completely empty.  It doesn’t even have windows...  Researchers in Australia's Outback tested a supersonic jet designed to fly 10 times faster than conventional airplanes.  The Supersonic Combustion Ramjet, or scramjet, is designed to travel at up to 5,000 mph...  Rainbow at Elam Bend (McFall, Missouri) - some of the best rainbow photos I have ever seen.

     Worldmapper is a collection of world maps, where territories are re-sized on each map according to the subject of interest (I found the total population map to be informative)...  Every hour the universe expands by a billion miles in all directions...  Closer to home, the earth spins at 1,000 mph but it travels through space at an incredible 67,000 mph...  The Visual Elements periodic table...  The study of stupidity is called "monology"...  With a choice of televisions costing $300, $500, and $700, for example, not many buy the $700 one.  But add a $1,200 television to the choices, and more will then buy the $700 one, because it is no longer the most expensive one...  One of the most sacred places in Myanmar, the Kyaik-htiyo-pagoda is situated atop the Golden Rock, a large boulder of granite supported by an extremely small area of contact with the rock beneath.  It seems just about to fall...  "How to build an Airbus in 7 Minutes" (via Things) A very odd video - the best part is the end where it gets painted...  "What were they thinking?": unusual wedding dresses (via Growabrain)...  Every year over one million earthquakes shake the Earth and every second around 100 lightning bolts strike the Earth...  A gallery of photos of the Thailand tsunami then and now.

     Chimp Joke (flash movie)...  The top 50 countries with the highest proportion of atheists or agnostics (Australia is 25th, NZ 29th - however, it is 10th if measured proportionally)...  Only known recording of a castrato (you'll need to choose your preferred media player on this page)...  The call of the humpback whale is louder than Concorde and can be heard from 500 miles away...  Stephen Wolfram's A New Kind of Science - read it online...  "It is impossible for a man to learn what he thinks he already knows." - Epictetus.  Cheers.

30 Apr '06 - Justin goes off to college for a year or two, wastes thousands of dollars of his parents' money, then gets bored and comes home to take up residence in his old room, the same bedroom where he lived when he was in high school.  Now he's working 16 hours a week at Kinko's or part time at Starbucks.  His parents are pulling their hair out.  "For God's sake, Justin, you're 26 years old.  You're not in school.  You don't have a career.  You don't even have a girlfriend.  What's the plan?  When are you going to get a life?"  "What's the problem?" Justin asks.  "I haven't gotten arrested for anything, I haven't asked you guys for money.  Why can't you just chill?"  (See also The Boys Project for more...)  There is an entire subculture of people who derive pleasure from putting strange things in microwave ovens, things that microwave oven manufacturers would most strenuously suggest should not be put there.  In the hands of these people, table grapes produce glowing plasmas, soap bars mutate into abominable soap monsters, and compact discs incandesce...  Suppose you killed somebody - how would you dispose of the body without getting caught?  Would you dump it somewhere?  Bury it in the backyard or basement?  Dissolve it in lime?  What would your plan be that would allow you to get away with it?...  If you buy tickets to a play for $80 and lose them on the way there, would you buy more for another $80 if you had the money?  Most people say no if asked.  You're on your way to the play planning to buy the tickets there.  You accidentally leave the $80 in the cab and it drives away.  You still have enough money for the tickets, so - do you continue with your evening's plans?  Most people answer yes.  In the first example, you already spent $80 from the mental category "play tickets" - it's too expensive to spend another $80.  In the second example, you lost $80 cash - a separate category.  It's easier to buy the tickets, though in both cases the financial situation is identical...  The worst music video.  Ever.  In.  The.  World.

     Fractal chandelier - essentially a binary tree in 3-space, a suspended light fixture "grown" from 31 nested twin-lamp socket adapters, using thirty-two to forty-eight 7.5 watt bulbs which draw a total of 240 - 360 watts...  How to put on a plaster (band-aid) so that it stays on all day...  Matsuzaka beef, whose marbled meat is likened to "a work of art," is so expensive that in 2002 a cow named "yoshitoyo-go" was auctioned for 50 million yen, the highest price ever.  Only Japanese black heifers can be called Matsuzaka beef.  Each heifer is raised for more than 500 days and given daily massages to activate blood circulation and make it fatty.  The animals are also fed beer to increase appetite and massaged with shochu, an alcoholic beverage, to make the fur shiny and beautiful...  Steven Pinker's photos of New Zealand part 1 and part 2...  Avoid the mess.  Avoid the explanations.  TeleQuitter lets you turn in your notice online - with style...  A shallow water blackout is a loss of consciousness caused by cerebral hypoxia towards the end of a breath-hold dive in water typically shallower than 5 metres, when the swimmer does not necessarily experience an urgent need to breathe and has no other obvious medical condition that might have caused it.  Victims are often established practitioners of breath-hold diving, are fit, strong swimmers, and have not experienced problems before.  Many drowning and near drowning events occur among fit, strong swimmers who black out underwater while free-diving or doing breath-hold pool laps...  The study of Anatomy is one of the first, most basic and yet one of the most important subjects studied by medical students when they begin their medical career.  Its importance cannot be over-estimated because it helps to lay the foundations for all future learning.  It will be seen therefore that the decision of an individual to donate his/her body for anatomical examination is a vital contribution towards the understanding and advancement of medical science.  Should you wish to donate your body to medical science or obtain further information, please contact reception@pdn.cam.ac.uk...  "I told him, 'Son, what is it with you?  Is it ignorance or apathy?'  He said, 'Coach, I don't know and I don't care.'"

24 Mar '06 - We're back - after four days of downtime.  (For a lesson in frustration, please see the explanation of what happened.)
     Because by combining one of life's great pleasures (chocolate) with one of death's best buddies (Russian Roulette), clever confectioners have come up with this fiendishly amusing gift box.  Seated in individual compartments, 12 chocolate bullets lay waiting to be bitten into.  Although 11 of the
sweet little slugs contain delicious praline centres, one conceals a seriously red hot chilli that's guaranteed to blow your head off - metaphorically, at least...  If you want to make $40,000 per year by blogging, to achieve your goal via ads requires approximately 64,000 page views per day.  This website has about 28,000 page views per day - but I suspect the addition of ads would reduce that - and I would have to update daily.  Can't.  Not yet, anyway...  Squaring the circle - were you taught in school that this was impossible?  This method isn't exact - however, if the pencil lead of your compass is so fine that it can draw a line only 1/100th of an inch wide, then you would need to draw a circle over 4 miles in diameter before you could notice any error...  An unbelievably useful resource for animators who wish to design perfect facial morphs - explore the site thoroughly, especially the "expressions" column after moving each of the muscles independently - I found it fascinating...  A man is at the bar, drunk.  I pick him up off the floor, and offer to take him home.  On the way to my car, he falls down 3 times.  When I get to his house, I help him out of the car, and on the way to the front door, he falls down 4 more times.  I ring the bell, and say, "Here's your husband!"  The man's wife says, "Where's his wheelchair?"

     The Scuba-Doo opens a new dimension of underwater exploration by combining a breathing dome that covers the head and shoulders with a highly-maneuverable, motorised underwater scooter.  The advantage is the enclosed head area - the need for a mask or mouthpiece is eliminated by the constant replenishment of air into the clear dome that enables normal breathing.  There's also no need to wear weight-belts or an air tank.  Add the ability to cruise at a rate of 2.5 knots, or remain stationary while feeding fish and you have a unique underwater experience open to a wider range of people than conventional diving - those who are not strong swimmers or who have minor disabilities can still ride and you can wear your spectacles or contact lenses without difficulty...  World's Best Juggler.  Really...  The torn-up credit card application - maybe you should consider buying a shredder?...  Is the red rain that occurred in Kerala, India in 1991 actually proof of extraterrestrial life?  This may not be as far-fetched as it sounds...  You think you have a problem with squirrels?...  Quantum physics explained by a really excellent animation...  The Flying Luxury Hotel: tomorrow's cruise ship will sail through the air, not the water.  It will take 18 hours to cross the US - but you can while away the time sleeping in your stareroom, eating in a restaurant, or gambling in the casino...  A woman, while at the funeral of her own mother, met this guy whom she did not know.  She thought this guy was amazing, so much her dream guy she believed him to be just that!  She fell in love with him right there, but never asked for his number and later could not find him.  A few days afterward, she killed her sister.  What is her motive in killing her sister?  (Give this some thought before you answer.)  Answer here.

     Why do you think they have a sawed-off shotgun on the Space Station?...  Step by step instructions for how to make a one-minute movie...  Overworked?  Prioritize!...  My Beating Heart is a soft huggable heart with a soothing heartbeat you can really feel...  Unusual-looking buildings...  Time and Tide: On June 17th, every year, this family goes through a private ritual: they photograph themselves to stop a fleeting moment, the arrow of time passing by...  Declassification in Reverse: The Pentagon and the US Intelligence community's secret historical document reclassification program...  Two cannibals are eating a clown.  One says to the other: "Does this taste funny to you?"  Two fish swim into a concrete wall.  The one turns to the other and says "Dam!"

     An 84-year-old retired beverage distributor claims he has had the original Coca-Cola formula for almost 40 years.  Lee Williams said he was given the formula in 1948 by a pharmacist named John Reed.  Reed said he had gotten the recipe from an ingredient salesman who wanted to sell him the ingredients for the syrup.  If true, this is your big chance to make up a batch of "The Real Thing" yourself:

bullet30 pounds of sugar
bullet2 gallons of water
bullet2 pints of lime juice
bullet4 ounces of citrate of caffeine
bullet2 ounces of citric acid
bullet1 ounce of extract of vanilla
bullet6 drams (3/4 ounce) of fluid extract of cola
bullet6 drams of fluid extract of coca

Don't forget to mix with carbonated water before you drink it!

     And finally: A honeymoon couple is in the Watergate Hotel in Washington.  The bride is concerned.  "What if the place is still bugged?"  The groom says, "I'll look for a bug."  He looks behind the drapes, behind the pictures, under the rug.  "AHA!"  Under the rug was a disc with four screws.  He gets his Swiss Army knife, unscrews the screws, throws them and the disc out the window.  The next morning, the hotel manager asks the newlyweds, "How was your room?  How was the service?  How was your stay at the Watergate Hotel?"  The groom says, "Why are you asking me all of these questions?"  The hotel manager says, "Well, the room under you complained of the chandelier falling on them!"

24 Feb '06 - Did you know that given a string of at least four numbers measuring any kind of data, the chance that the first digit will be 1 is not one in nine, as many people would imagine - it is 30.1% or nearly one in three.  The chance that the first number in the string will be 2 is only 17.6%, and the probabilities that successive numbers will be the first digit decline smoothly up to 9, which has only a 4.6% chance.  This is known as Benford's Law...  You've rented a car to drive from Connecticut to Virginia.  You head south on I-95, but at times, your speed creeps up to 80mph like many of the drivers around you.  Finally, you stop to buy gas but your credit card is rejected at the pump.  The reason?  The company who rented you the car has been monitoring your driving in real time.  Not only that, they've fined you 3 times, at $150 per violation, for speeding, and already deducted it from your credit card.  Sound impossible?  It's not, and Robert O'Harrow's No Place to Hide describes how car rental companies can do it, and have already done it.

     Finding a mate in the dark depths of the ocean is a pretty tough job!  So what does a male anglerfish do when he finds a mate?  He never lets her go!  The male lives as a parasite on the body of the much larger female, taking his food from her bloodstream.  In the time their bodies fuse together, forming a sort of two-body hermaphrodite...  Sleep researchers at the Loughborough University in Britain compared the effects of different methods a driver can use to stay awake - they put volunteers in driving simulators while sleepy and let them drive.  Some tests included rolling down windows for cold exposure, blasting the radio and slapping oneself in the face to try to stay awake.  But what researchers found worked the best was a caffeine nap - drink a cup of coffee and immediately take a 15 minute nap.  Coffee helps clear the system of adenosine, a chemical which makes you sleepy.  The combination of a cup of coffee with an immediate nap chaser provided the most alertness for the longest period of time.  The recommendation was to nap precisely 15 minutes, no more, no less and to do it immediately after drinking the coffee (via Achieve-IT)...  "The China Series" photographs - a peek under the surface at some of the not-so-lovely scenes...  Pieter van Suijlekom's Reef Aquarium - you absolutely must see this.

     Fish school - train your goldfish to perform cool tricks...  “Our garments are designed with respect to Islamic values and are aimed at today’s modern Muslim girl,” claims Australian-owned swimwear company Ahiida.  “We are constantly striving to develop our collection with new colours, designs and fabrics that focus on today’s society” (in case you've ever wondered what Muslim women are allowed to swim in).  It is somewhat reminiscent of a bathing suit from the year 1858 (via Tim Blair)...  Concrete canvas is a rapidly deployable hardened shelter that requires only water and air (plus the mix in a special bag) for construction.  It can be constructed by a person without training in 40 minutes and in ready to use in 12 hours...  The art of propaganda: Nationalistic themes in the art of North Korea.  It's hard to believe people can't see through such blatant manipulation - but I suppose if you keep people isolated from news of current affairs, it can happen - IS happening...  I hesitate to recommend this because it plays an ad after loading.  But some of the "Banned Superbowl Ads are quite funny...  OMNI Opinion Poll Results: Predictions for 2007 (From 1987)...  Do you know that right now, at this second, hundreds of follicle mites are living beneath the hair of your eyelashes?  They're a little like fleas, only they're microscopic and they don't jump as high.  Aren't you glad you know now?  There's nothing you can do about it, either...  Tiny plastic people.  Food.  There.  You have it...  With built-in light and sound sensors, the BUTTERSCOTCH pony can tell what is happening around her.  If it suddenly gets dark, she may become frightened and need a hug from her caregiver.  She will also turn her head in response to noises, and relies on calm, soothing voices to settle her.  Whether grooming her, playing with her or even climbing on her back, pretending to gallop into the sunset, the BUTTERSCOTCH pony can be a child’s best friend and a parents solution to satisfying their child’s greatest dream without having to build a barn...  Knitted digestive tract (yes, that's right - go see for yourself)...  How to grow a pineapple and make it bloom.

Omnia Mihi Lingua Graeca Sunt It's all Greek to me.
Sperate Miseri Caveat Felices When miserable, hope; when happy beware.
Ut humiliter opinor In my humble opinion...
Facta Non Verba Deeds not words!
Inter Caesa et Porrecta There's many a slip twixt cup and lip.
Lupus in Fabula Speak of the devil...
Manus Manum Lavat Literally, "hand washes hand".  Taken to mean one hand washes the other or, "Scratch my back and I'll scratch yours."
Non Timetis Messor Don't fear the Reaper.

     And finally: Enjoy a wonderful experience with llamas, champagne and fresh strawberries by a lake followed by hot chocolate and light refreshments at a cosy lakeside tea room by a log fire.  Your sweetheart will receive chocs to take home.  Oh, did I mention you have to fly to the UK first?...

28 Jan '06 - It's estimated that about half of all people on earth are infected with toxoplasma; some scientists believe that toxoplasma changes the personality of its human hosts.  Those infected show a small, but statistically significant, tendency to be more self-reproaching and insecure.  Paradoxically, infected women, on average, tend to be more outgoing and warmhearted than controls, while infected men tend to be more jealous and suspicious.

     Some of the most breathtakingly beautiful photos of China I have ever seen...  A 20-minute mental workout...  Various noises you never want to hear that may indicate a failing hard drive...  Have you ever wondered what a candle flame would look like in space?  From the same site: At NASA's Johnson Space Center, there is a microgravity research aircraft nicknamed the Vomit Comet used to fly parabolas to investigate the effects of zero gravity (I'm sure you wanted to know that)...  Like the look of our website?  Whatever the answer (and hopefully it was yes), the chances are you made your mind up within the first 20th of a second.  A study by researchers in Canada has shown that the snap decisions Internet users make about the quality of a web page have a lasting impact on their opinions.  The lasting effect of first impressions is known to psychologists as the halo effect: if you can snare people with an attractive design, they are more likely to overlook other minor faults with the site, and may rate its actual content (such as this comment, for example) more favourably...  A visual look at where US tax dollars go.  Most Americans are unaware of how much of their taxes fund the military (those who are aware are often misinformed).  Data straight from the White House...  Heisenberg is speeding down the highway when he gets pulled over by a police officer. The cop approaches his car, and Heisenberg rolls down his window.  Cop: "Sir, do you know how fast you were going?"  Heisenberg: "No, but I know where I am!"

     AstroLawn - never mow again.  This is a link to the "Before and After" photos, but they have other photo pages.  If the grass looks like it does it the photos, feels as real as they say, KEEPS looking good for years, then it's almost too good to be true...  Denial of perspective - if you stand in just the right spot, you can't believe your eyes...  Unusual photographs of an atomic blast with shutter speed of 1/1000,000,000 of a second - exposure taken immediately after the blast...  Scrap glass is known as "cullet"...  Only in English could this sentence work: "I'll set the set on the set so after the sun sets on the 5th set we'll be all set to set things in motion."  Or, shorter, "We're two to two, too."  Tetris commercial from the 1980s (archaic - we've come a l-o-o-ng way!)

     And finally: Two sisters, one blonde and one brunette, inherit the family farm.  Soon they're in financial trouble.  To keep the bank from repossessing the farm, they decide to purchase a bull and breed their own stock.  The brunette balances the chequebook, then takes their last $600 and rides a Greyhound bus to a farm in the next county where a man has a prize bull for sale.  She tells her sister, "When I get there, if I buy the bull, I'll telegraph you to drive out after me with the truck to haul it home."  The brunette arrives at the man's farm, inspects the bull and decides she does want to buy it - the man tells her that he can sell it for $599 and no less.  After paying him, he gives her a lift to the nearest town so she can send her sister a telegram with the news.  She walks into the telegraph office and says, "I want to send a telegram to my sister telling her I've bought a bull for our farm and I need her to drive the truck out here so we can haul it home."  The telegraph operator says he'll be glad to help, adding, "It's 99¢ a word."  After buying the bull, the brunette has only $1 left; she realises she'll only be able to send her sister a one-word message.  After thinking for a few minutes, she nods and says, "I want you to send her the word, 'comfortable'."  The telegraph operator shakes his head.  "How is she ever going to know that you want her drive the truck here to haul that bull back if you only send her the word, 'comfortable' ?"  The brunette explains, "My sister's blonde.  She'll read it slow."

22 Jan '06 - (This is my last chance to post before the school term begins again.)  A study published in the latest issue of the research journal Personal Relationships identifies several specific acts and tactics that researchers say lead to the possibility of violence.  Vigilance over a partner’s whereabouts was the highest-ranking predictive behaviour.  I read elsewhere that of the women convicted of violent crimes in the US, the vast majority were convicted for defending themselves or their children from abuse - in California alone there are 600 women in prison for killing their abusers in (what they say was) self-defense.  Curiously, the average prison terms are twice as long for killing husbands as for killing wives.

     Does anyone reading this know the precise definition of France (European Territory)?  This "country" has its own two-letter designation (FX) but I can't seem to find information on precisely what is encompassed.  Perhaps the Îles Éparses or Îles éparses de l'océan indien (scattered islands of the Indian Ocean)?  These include Tromelin, Juan de Nova, Glorieuses, Europa and Bassas da India - all without permanent inhabitants (although France posts 14 troops on each to maintain her ownership claims).  Perhaps it means Clipperton Island off the coast of Mexico (also uninhabited)?  France calls all these "minor territories" - they DO seem to allow France to lay claim to a great swath of ocean (presumably with corresponding fishing rights).  Or perhaps it means Corsica?  If anyone knows, please email me...  Photo tour of a pet cemetery in San Francisco (some graves are as old as 1925)...  A pet umbrella to keep your pet dry and comfortable in rain, sleet or snow (as if it cared)...  I love animals but pet care can be taken to absolutely ridiculous extremes.  Pet carriers (including baby-style pouches), sweaters, crystal collars, tuxes, boots, pajamas, loungewear and lots more for your dog.  Send your pooch to a pet spa for aromatherapy treatments (of what? carrion? ask your dog what it REALLY likes...).  You can even get assistance establishing a portfolio for your dog's modelling career.  This is sad...  What do you call a fish with no eyes?  Fsh!

     A unified resource space for anyone interested in the visualization of complex networks. The project's main goal is to leverage a critical understanding of different visualization methods across a series of disciplines (with some information patterns qualifying as art)...  Have you ever imagined what it would feel like to be an airplane?  (Use your cursor to control speed and direction.)  A subjective comparison of Germany and the United States...  How fast are your reactions?  Test them by tranquilizing sheep...  A virtual tour of New York City...  What it would look like if you were able to drive through a city at nearly the speed of light (the second video is vastly better than the first)...  The feet contain approximately 250,000 sweat glands that excrete as much as half a pint of moisture every day.

     The most maddening logic puzzle I've ever seen.  I wasted enough time that I solved it - if you want the answers, email me...

14 Jan '06 - Once at a social gathering, Gladstone said to Disraeli, "I predict, Sir, that you will die either by hanging or of some vile disease".  Disraeli replied, "That all depends, sir, upon whether I embrace your principles or your mistress"...  Paper Cut - sculpture by artist Peter Callesen; each uses nothing more than a blank A4 sheet of paper, an exacto knife and (occasionally) glue.  Delicate and lovely...  A 3-legged dog walks into a saloon in the Old West.  He sidles up to the bar and announces: "I'm looking for the man who shot my paw"...  Ever wonder what motivates the heavily-tattooed?  "The dedication that all tattoo lovers share is a power bomb.  To sit for a 5 hour session is no easy task.  The electric bond that an artist and client share while in the booth is addictive.  Mixed with vulnerability, pain, and triumph, it's one of the most intense experiences I've had."  There you have it - a cross between being Rolfed and massaged...  Regarding telegrams - the Morse signal for the letter B was dah-dit-dit-dit.  At times this letter was divided in such a manner as to cause the receiving telegraphist to read the letter as dah-dit-dit dit which sometimes resulted in a totally different word being produced.  One message reached an addressee reading: "COME HOME TONIGHT FATHER DEAD" instead of "COME HOME TONIGHT FATHER BAD".  On another occasion, the word "COAT" (A and T in Morse is dit-dah dah ) was received as "COW" (W in Morse is dit-dah-dah), the message thus reading: "SEND MY COW UP NEXT TRAIN".  A telegraphist received a telegram one day from (she thought) a Mr T Walsh.  Inquiring if the initial was indeed "T", she qualified it by adding: "I wouldn't mind if I had a cup of it now" - whereupon the subscriber haughtily retorted: "I didn't say T, I said P".

    A 2-person car for the city that has an ultra small footprint for parking and recharging.  The car has three independent wheels combined with a "standing room only" volume for passengers or a sit-down 4-person model made of biodegradable plastic...  A German inventor has had the idea of placing a specially adapted mobile phone in the coffins of the dead - that way, relatives can call up and speak to their dear departed without having to leave home...  Cubicle Playsets - Finally, the drudgery of corporate life has been captured in a play set for adults!  Bob, Joe, Ted, and Ann spend 8 hours a day, 5 days a week at tiny desks in tiny cubicles in a giant room packed with countless similar cubicles in a giant building filled with countless similar rooms.  Bob, Ted, Ann, and Joe each come with one 2¾" posable plastic figure and all the necessary plastic parts to build a classic corporate cube: four walls, desk, chair, file cabinet, in/out box, phone, and computer...    To discover how prevalent counterfeit high-tech parts have become in the US, PC World purchased 7 hard drives, 7 memory modules and 10 cellphone batteries online using search engines to find low prices.  Of the 24 products bought, 4 cellphone batteries were counterfeit, at least 1 refurbished product was sold as new, 1 hard drive was broken and in a few cases the specific brand they ordered was not received but rather a cheaper brand instead.  The reporter had his credit card number stolen and misused more than once while doing research.  Only 60% of the items were exactly as advertised...  Pets in uniform (someone has too much time on their hands).

7 Jan '06 - What animal has the best wool?  The Vicuna - a rare wild animal which sports hair less than half the diameter of the finest sheep's wool.  It lives at an elevation of between 12,000 and 18,000 feet on the slopes of the Andes Mountains where at night temperatures plummet well below 0º F.  Its blood is so loaded with red cells that even at the high altitudes where it lives, it can run at 30 miles (50 kilometres) per hour.  And, like the camel, it can survive for long periods without water...  NASA boss Michael Griffin has 7 university degrees: a bachelor's degree, a Phd, and five masters degrees...  Officials in the Pentagon, the major funder of neural-code research, have openly broached the prospect of cyborg warriors who can be remotely controlled via brain implants, like the assassin in the recent remake of The Manchurian Candidate...  I don't know how much longer his page will be up - maybe forever, maybe not - but a great travelogue about the author's trip to Libya...  "A government big enough to give you everything you want is big enough to take away everything you have." - Gerald Ford

     Age maps by photographer Bobby Neel Adams - half the face is child with the other half being a matching pose as an adult.  While I think better editing might've improved the presentation, Bobby evidently disagrees.  A startling and sometimes disturbing contrast...  A family in St George, Vermont wants to turn 50 acres of undeveloped land into a natural burial ground for do-it-yourselfers.  Families could dig their own graves or pick just pick spots to leave cremated remains - no caskets, concrete vaults or embalming.  The town select board has final say and no decision has been made; the board chair said the land "might be better suited for commercial or residential use."  Plans for similar natural burial grounds are being considered in California, Ohio and Wisconsin.

     How many times have you begged the baby to open wide for the airplane?  Here's a fun baby spoon that doubles as a plane, available in pink or blue...  Families with 2 daughters are more likely to have a 3rd child than families with 2 sons; unmarried pregnant women who undergo ultrasound to determine the sex of the yet-unborn child are less likely to be married at the time of the child's birth when the child is a girl than when it is a boy; divorced women with a son are more likely to remarry than divorced women with a daughter...  Today around 628 million tins of baked beans are consumed in the UK every year while the annual consumption of Campbell's soup amounts to more than 2 billion tins worldwide...  The Japanese word "chokuegambo" describes the wish that there were more designer- brand shops on a given street...  The US currently spends $22,000 federal dollars on those over 65 and just over $2,000 in those under 16.

     The dumbest dog you'll ever see...  You're 10 times more likely to be bitten by a human than a rat...  While in captivity, adhere to some kind of sanitary schedule.  "There’s dignity when you attempt to stay clean.  Find comfort in having your circadian rhythms in tune.  Make yourself aware when it’s morning, afternoon and night," McCann says, though he notes that can be difficult if you’re fed or let out for relief infrequently. - From an article on how to act if you're kidnapped (via Information Junk).

31 Dec '05 - My last posting of the year (it's only 9:30pm and already I can hear fireworks going off outside).
     The Guide Horse Foundation - miniature horses for the blind; founded in 1999 as an experimental program to access the abilities of miniature horses as assistance animals since there is a critical shortage of guide animals for the blind.  Miniature Horse can live to be more than 50 years old (average lifespan 30 - 40 years); according to guide dog trainers, guide dogs have a useful life of only 8 - 12 years.  Horses possess phenomenal memories; because they have eyes on the sides of their heads, they have a wide range of vision (nearly 350º).  They are the only guide animals capable of independent eye movement, tracking potential danger with each eye; they can see clearly in almost total darkness.  A horse will naturally remember a dangerous situation decades after the occurrence.  Guide Horses are very clean and can be housebroken, do not get fleas and only shed twice per year.  They are not addicted to human affection and will stand quietly when on duty...  Cane toads, reptiles imported into Australia in the erroneous belief that they would eliminate pests from sugar-cane fields, are attracted by disco-style flashing lights, said researchers in the Northern Territory who are desperate to find a way of eliminating the fast-spreading creatures.  "The old toads are definitely a disco animal," said a member of a group called Frogwatch...  Guinea pig (cavy) costumes - no, not for you to go to a costume party but for your guinea pig (via Presurfer) so that he or she can have a richer fantasy life...  All about sausage (make sure you want to know).

     The GMC PAD features a Diesel-Electric hybrid system, which acts as a generator for the onboard power grid as well as propulsion for DriveMode.  With the PAD’s resource management technology, onboard fuel & water supplies would last for weeks or even months on end.  During daylight hours, the PAD’s SkyDeck features 6 square metres of photovoltaic cells that collect and store the sun’s natural energy.  An electromagnetic suspension aids in leveling & stabilisation...  A wooden computer...  In 2003 Australian men commissioned 3000 DNA paternity tests and in almost a quarter of cases the test showed the children were sired by someone else...  The US Department of Education statistics show that there are more students enrolled in university than in high school and that Boulder, Colorado has a higher percentage of university graduates than any other metropolitan area...  Universal decision maker - when flipping a coin just isn't enough...  Love that song but don't know what it is?  Let Tunatic hear it and you will get the artist's name and song's title within seconds...  Sight-see-by-space - a collection of famous sites, buildings, and natural wonders viewed from space...  Convert one measurement to another - they have almost everything covered...  The eye's lens absorbs ultraviolet, which prevents you from seeing ultraviolet light - but people who have had their lens removed for cataracts CAN see it...  Researchers at National University in La Jolla, California, threw a dinner party and then analysed the leftovers to see if their guests left significant DNA samples on them.  Complete profiles were recovered from 43% of the sample, and partial ones from 33%.  Such work could be useful in catching burglars, who often like tucking into the food found in their victims' kitchens...  Finally (the last thing I will tell you this year), falling sand game - hypnotic.

24 Dec '05 - If you have a fast connection, I've uploaded the animated video clips my son and I produced in our video concepts class this past semester.  Oh - and the new logo above was an assignment for a different class.  Let me know what you think...

23 Dec '05 - Bah, humbug.  I do not celebrate Christmas and am always grateful when this "silly season" is over.  That said, I hope all of you who take the holiday seriously are not disappointed in your expectations of having a "perfect" time.  (Quick, before it's too late, check out the gaudy xmas displays...)

     To begin: how about a realistic time machine?  This new design could forgo the exotic ingredient "negative energy"...  Computerized singing emails...  Topless sandals...  Water Station - a portable sink for outdoor use...  State-of-the art technology prints images or patterns directly onto acoustic ceiling tiles, creating truly custom ceilings...

According to psychologist Robert Sternberg, there are four fallacious assumptions that impede wisdom and lead smart people into self-destructive mistakes - the kind that will get you kicked out of school, fired, sued, attacked in the press, and even impeached.  These are the fallacies of egocentrism ("When we start to think the world revolves around us"), omniscience ("We know more than everyone else - the others are just big idiots"), omnipotence ("We, unlike others, can do what we want and get away with it"), and invulnerability ("We are so smart that we can cover our tracks").  When asked for the examples of foolishness he sees most in Yale students (he is a professor of psychology and education there), Sternberg cited three examples: cheating, shoplifting and heavy drinking.  In these cases, there is a perceived short-term gain to be had, with a heavy possible long-term loss if the perpetrator is caught off guard.  The opposite of foolish, he says, is "wise", not "smart".

     Pixelfest group artwork.  (What amazes me are the saboteurs...)  Does executing murderers cut the homicide rate or not?  The answer is "no effect" - executions are for punishment only...  The price per gallon of various liquids (some surprises here)...  Movie clips of the Honda Asimo robot in action - surely this must be one of the most advanced robots in the world...  E B White wrote in The New Yorker in 1948, "If everyone is going to be able to see everything, in the long run all sights may lose whatever rarity value they once possessed, and it may well turn out that people, being able to see and hear practically everything, will be specially interested in almost nothing."  Would he have thought the internet qualifies?

     Bunny suicides...  Giving new meaning to the term, "Paying to park"...  Letters to bin Laden express a surprising range of emotions...  A false Wikipedia biography - what rights do you have if you're slandered anonymously online?  (Perhaps less than you hoped...)  Want to know if you’ve got a killer title for your novel? Put your title to the test with Little Lulu Titlescorer...  A review of Philip Tetlock’s new book, Expert Political Judgment: How Good Is It? How Can We Know? - wherein you will learn that the more you know, the less accurate your prediction of the future tends to be...  The US counties with the 20 highest and 20 lowest median incomes, the states with the 10 highest and 10 lowest median incomes, and the total US median income (NJ is second after Connecticut)...  Studies indicate American buffalos actually voted on which direction the herd should take by communicating with each other via body language.  According to Derek Bailey, associate professor of animal and range sciences at New Mexico State University, the buffalos oriented their bodies toward the desired direction of movement.  They then go where the most animals were pointed.

     On the plain of the Yellow River in North China, the mighty Hwang Ho, also known as "China's Sorrow," has changed its course at least 9 times in the last 2500 years.  Probably the most disastrous of these course changes occurred in 1854 when, just downstream of the city of Kaifeng, the river abandoned its old channel which led southeastward out into the Yellow Sea and turned sharply northeastward to find an outlet in the Bo Hai instead.  Not only were immense areas flooded in the process, but it is also estimated that the inundation took the lives of over a million persons trapped in its path.  The present mouth of the Yellow River lies on the north side of the Shandong Peninsula, fully 250 miles from its former outlet to the south of that peninsula.

30 Nov '05 - This is the longest I've gone without updating my site.  I have dozens of articles, clips and photos to upload but there never seems to be enough time.  However, the semester is over in a couple of weeks - then I'll be off for a month and I plan to spend most of that time getting caught up - and sleeping.

     (I have hardly anything collected for this month.  I'm sorry.)  PuppetTool allows you to animate several objects including a mule, a penguin and a spider.  My problem is that while you are allowed to save your work, it saves to the file of the author of the software, not to your own computer - so that you are unable to access it again...  Trilobis 65 is a semi-submerged dwelling environment that reaches 20 metres in length for habitation by six people at sea.  At 3 metres below sea level, totally submerged, there is an underwater observation bulb, an intimate and meditative place...   The nearly universal ageing of the world's national populations...  Live keychain plants - the ultimate bonsai?

     One of the bestphotostreams on Flickr I've seen.  There are many photos in the group, but several great ones, especially near the end, make it worth the time...  The interactive Mona Lisa...  The Man Who Sold the War: Meet John Rendon, Bush's general in the propaganda war...  How did Bazooka Joe lose his right eye?  And that's it.  Back in a couple of weeks.

31 Oct '05 - "We need to ensure that information and communications technologies are not only accessible but are also affordable.  I have seen how some Sri Lankan schools have the hardware and software and yet can’t connect to the Internet because they can’t pay the phone bill.  About a third of transistor radios in Africa are not regularly used because their owners can’t buy new batteries.  This inspired British inventor Trevor Bailey to develop the wind-up radio."  (Sci-fi author Arthur C Clarke...)  In Western Europe, they aren't called population pyramids anymore and here's why:

Why Guantanamo Bay?  When the US government needed a place to keep suspected al Qaeda members and Taliban fighters, they chose an airbase in Cuba to do so.  It seems an odd place, an American airbase in what the American government considers an enemy country - the very existence of a place those who prefer to use military slang call “Gitmo” seems unlikely.  But the US leased Guantanamo during one of those rare periods when Cuba was friendly to the US.  The lease requires both parties to agree before it can be cancelled.  Each year, the US writes Cuba a cheque which is never cashed...  Funny, true epitaphs engraved on tombstones...  The 10 things you communicate to others unintentionally...  Chain reaction game - a great way to waste time...  My mother is insane - the story (with photos) of a man whose mom hoards things - LOTS of things...  Which is more important to you, sight or sound?  The answer may not be what you think.  However, perhaps not everyone would agree - Kurt Vonnegut talks about stories versus movies.

     Lessons from the 1918 flu pandemic...  High-fructose corn syrup: friend or foe?  Because of the unusually long shelf life of HFCS, store-bought cakes, cookies, brownies, mixes, breads, sodas, juices, tomato sauce and all of the rest could be sold with practically no expiration date; despite misleading labels that read “all natural,” it is an ENTIRELY man-made substance - almost indestructible.  Like Styrofoam, it is eternal and immortal...  Where Bombs Come from - If you pan around the facility, you can easily recognise the most obvious feature of the place: as the Defense Department’s largest munitions storage facility, small, well-spaced ammunition magazines called igloos store the bombs.  The air is cool and smells musty; 2,000-pound bombs lie on their sides, 2 bombs to a metal rack, stacked 4 racks high, 36 rows deep; in a room about the size of a McDonald’s, there are 313 bombs, each weighing a ton.  In 1985, a car hit a truck carrying such bombs on Interstate 40, north of McAlester.  The truck carried no fuses or detonators, but in the fire after the accident, 3 of the bombs partially exploded and burned.  The crater they left in I-40 was 40 feet wide and 25 feet deep.

     A hide-away bathroom for people who live by themselves (and have no shy visitors, either!)  Also a sun-brella to power your refrigerator or fan while you lounge at the beach...  Sustainable computing - pedal while you work and generate electricity to power your computer at the same time!...  Notebooks: Hosted, but not endorsed, by the Center for the Study of Complex Systems, it is one of the most eclectic compilations of links I've run across yet...  Lying is supposedly good for you - "We lie because it works.  When we do it well, we get what we want."  (What we don't want is to be caught doing it!)...  Writing a resignation letter...  Sand sculpture awards photo gallery.

     Unusual concept car...  The Airline Screening Playset: hours of fun!...  The Art and Personality experiment (I discovered I like cubism but my personality says I should like impressionism - I'm an anomaly).  Or take their Careers test...  Email time capsules - send yourself an email up to 20 years in the future.  That's it for now.

30 Sep '05 - I'm sorry to be so late posting - school has started again and I have a film clip due every 2 weeks which takes me an average of 2½ weeks to prepare - so I keep getting behind.  That means most of the links I'm putting up are stale - but I don't have time just now to look for more.  Rolf Landauer (1927 – 1999) was an IBM physicist who in 1961 demonstrated that when information is lost in an irreversible circuit, the information becomes entropy and an associated amount of energy is dissipated as heat (this is why my head is always hot).

     Roughly halfway between Honolulu and Guam, Pohnpei is the capital of the Federated States of Micronesia.  Nan Madol, sometimes called the Venice of the Pacific, was built on the fringing reef by the Saudeleurs, early rulers of Pohnpei.  Construction started about 750 AD, and continued until 1500 AD.  Nan Madol is built of natural crystals of columnar basalt.  Some of these logs, quarried in several places around Pohnpei, are 20 feet in length and weigh over 5 tons apiece.  Some say the logs were brought on bamboo rafts and others believe when the magicians who built Nan Madol snapped their fingers, the logs "flew through the air.  The commoners entered the city through crawl holes (see right).  (Or page through photos.)

     The 29 healthiest foods on the planet (via RobotWisdom)...  Sherwin-Williams cooking with colour site allows you to change the colours of a room - fun to play with for a few minutes and can make a surprising difference in the way things look...  The grunts made by chimps at Edinburgh Zoo as they collected food at two feeders were recorded.  One feeder dispensed bread (considered a high-quality treat) and the other gave apples (much less sought-after).  The recordings were played back to a 6-year-old male named Liberius.  After hearing a bread grunt, Liberius went to the bread feeder; an apple grunt sent him to the apple feeder.

     Kids' Dummies (pacifiers) - do you suppose the reactions of passersby will affect these kids later in life?...  Interested in purchasing a Moller Skycar?  A deposit of a mere $100,000 would guarantee you a delivery position in the top 100.  If they can't deliver by 31 December 2008, you get your deposit back - otherwise, you owe an additional $895,000.  The cars cruise at 315mph, can carry 750 pounds and - hey, maybe this isn't good - use the same fuel as your car...  Chad, the guy who decided to live in a ball (try #3 class - I think it's the best)...  Patricia Waller's (uniquely creative) crocheted nightmares...  Silicone sweethearts (called Dutch wives in Japan).  Buy a Candy Girl - or rent one for a fun evening.  The company that makes them asks for a purchased doll's return when she's worn out so that they can hold a Buddhist memorial service for her, where her soul can be consecrated.  (It is somewhat disturbing that these anatomically-correct dolls all look like very young teens.)  See also commentary...  Truly lovely high-speed photos of splashed (water and other) liquids the instant after a drop reaching the surface causes an eruption.

     57 optical illusions and visual phenomena (example at left)...  The 10 stupidest utopias...  Filtering and purifying water - tips and tricks...  Tuxedo made of Coke cans...  Barn swallow grief - be sure to read the comments posted at the bottom of the page...  Truly amazing rock-balancing (via Admit One)...  American business jargon defined: many businessmen thoughtlessly use jargon or slang that doesn't mean much to speakers of English as a second language...  All you ever wanted to know about fire extinguishers.

     Interesting satellite photo showing ocean currents...  The most expensive homes in the world...  Alarming crash test photos...  VirtuSphere provides a mechanical basis for truly immersive virtual reality environments, permitting the user to move about in virtual space by simply walking...  On hair and leadership: For at least half a century Americans have shown a marked aversion to electing bald men to their nation's highest office.  Excluding Gerald Ford (1974-77) who was bald but not elected, the last bald president was Dwight D Eisenhower (1953-61).  Europeans have been more sympathetic to the bare-headed politico (Churchill, Papandreou, Simitis, Giscard d'Estaing, Mitterand, Chirac, Craxi, Mussolini), but even they have lagged behind the Soviets, who inexplicably installed, if not exactly elected, bald and hirsute leaders in strict alternation: Lenin (bald), Stalin (hairy), Khrushchev (bald), Brezhnev (hairy), Andropov (bald), Chernenko (hairy), Gorbachev (bald) - a tradition that has been maintained in the Russian Republic with Yeltsin (hairy) and Putin (comb-over).  (From p281 of Mutants: On the Form, Varieties and Errors of the Human Body by Armand Marie Leroi.)

30 Aug '05 - Just be sure you are aware - On 17 October, the minimum payment for credit cards in the US will approximately double according to a new law - plus, new bankruptcy laws also come online.  Be informed!

     Voices is an online audio journey about the way people in Great Britain sound today.  Listen in to the diverse voices of the British Isles, from Shetland to Penzance.  Eavesdrop on Rotarians in Pitlochry and Travellers in Belfast.  Drop in on skateboarders in Milton Keynes.  Overhear pigeon fanciers in Durham (via Presurfer)...  Turn Your Head fills the space between two opposing profiles of your face by spinning that space into a three dimensional “visage” that follows the outlined silhouettes of your two profiles to create a pirolette.  Place the pirolette to your face and it will match your profile.  Locate it near a wall and the shadow will be your silhouette - your profile captured forever in an object d' art, hand-crafted from American Black Walnut, Cherry or Maple - and it is hand polished to a natural luster (via IdleType)...  The youngest mother to give birth was aged 5...  10 ways MMORPGs will change the future...  Are you addicted to tanning?...  The best clock/calendar combination I've seen (Flash) - or maybe you'd like to choose a clock for your screensaver?...  The 50 coolest song moments of all time (via Presurfer)...   A video about Japanese subway roaches - NOT for the squeamish! (also via Presurfer).

     If dogs ruled the world (long load time - sorry!)...  How unequal are the folks in the US?  More unequal than any other OECD country in the world: the richest 5% of American households control 60% of the wealth.  Swedish families with children that are at the 10th percentile - poorer than 90% of the population - have incomes 60% higher than their US counterparts (via RobotWisdom)...  The Principality of the Hutt River Province is a self-proclaimed "independent nation" north of Perth, Western Australia...  Stupid superhero comic book covers.  There are unfortunately, a huge number, many of which are lame, but some of which are hysterically funny.  You might want to try the index first...  Did you know that water boiled in a microwave oven can suddenly "explode"?...  Bubbles and the real price of housing...  LED flashlights...  A photographic tour of the Antonov 225 Mriya, the largest plane in the world...  Enhance your kitchen decor!  Make your dishwasher the focal point of your kitchen with creative designer magnetic panels available in several designs to accommodate a variety of decorating themes - a great gift idea that will bring years of enjoyment (via Information Junk)...  Did you know that the Milky Way is no ordinary galaxy?

     Everything you could possibly want to know about the deserts of the southwest US...  One of the most beautiful wildflower photos I have ever seen...  From Gelf Magazine - The Malmö Library is attempting a novel venture - the Living Library project in which people are allowed to borrow human beings for a 45-minute conversation in the library.  To allow people to confront their prejudices, the library offered for loan last weekend: a homosexual, an imam, a journalist, a Muslim woman, an animal-rights activist, and a gypsy.  One patron commented, "The loan-a-lesbian idea is silly because people who should learn more won't bother, and others people don't need it."  (What is the late fee is for not returning a lesbian?? ;-)...  Fun with Nigerians - Unless you've been living in a plastic bubble, you've heard of the Nigerian scam, also known as the 419 scam...  An interesting, environmentally friendly door...  And, finally - clashing colonies of sea anemones fight as organised armies with distinct castes of warriors, scouts, reproductives and other types, according to a new study.

14 Aug '05 - What is the ratio of skydiving jumps to deaths?
               a) 1:10,555                 b) 1:26,968               c) 1:64,091            d) 1:93,002
     The answer is: c) 1:64,091.  In a recent year in the US, 29 people died from skydiving accidents, over 140 died scuba diving, 856 died bicycling, and over 7,000 drowned.  Further, 1,154 died of bee stings, 80 by lightning and 43,990 were killed in highway accidents. There were 1,171 boating fatalities, 235 airline deaths, and 1,164 fatalities in light aircraft general aviation accidents.  With that established...

     Flight simulators don't thrill like they used to?  Try a warbird ride!  At the Farmingdale Airport, Long Island, NY facility, a 2-ship basic formation flight is US$780 for 30 minutes of formation flight in 2 SNJ-2 combat trainers.  You and a friend can fly with experienced military-trained ex-fighter pilots in two separate aircraft in close precision to get a first hand look at what the fighter game is all about.  Or for some REAL excitement, you can try the 2-ship air combat flight for US$1,199 - the ultimate flying experience - an intense 45-minute ride shows you what it was like to fly and fight in World War II (includes an Introduction to basic combat manœuvers, formation flying and procedures, gut wrenching "G" forces, and "more fun than you can imagine" - they say that you and a friend will talk about it for years).  These planes also do skywriting within 50 miles of NYC and 5 planes together can do skytyping (so you can ask her to marry you in a spectacular way!).  There are several facilities of this type across the US (and probably around the world).

     Architects/Designers/Planners for Social Responsibility say enough is enough - they are pledging to not participate in the design, construction, or renovation of any more US prisons (flash intro)...  Zinc air fuel cells are the only feasible currently-available power source for electronic vehicles (if they convince you, click on Products for more...  Or try a hybrid electric bicycle (don't laugh) called a "twike" which you can actually pedal when you want to get some exercise or save your battery...  Clans of long ago that wanted to get rid of their unwanted people without killing them used to burn their houses down - hence the expression "to get fired."

     Books I'd like to read: Machete Season: The Killers in Rwanda Speak by Jean Hatzfeld; Global Brain: The Evolution of Mass Mind from the Big Bang to the 21st Century by Howard Bloom; So Little Done: The Testament of a Serial Killer by Theodore Dalrymple.  A quote from the latter book (billed as "A Fortified British Whine"): "The world has a lot to thank murderers for, when you come to think of it."  Thus, Graham Underwood, writing his apologia in jail for the serial murder of 15 (or is it 22?) unremarkable people he believes he has performed a public service in eliminating.  "Not," he goes on, "that I expect gratitude..."  According to The Spectator, "This engaging and mischievous book - is a masterly pastiche of polemic, containing the wit and subversion of Voltaire with the teasing paradox of Swift.  We are not meant to take seriously the killer’s justification that he was ridding the world of spongers, but that he should be able to make such a claim with a straight face is a serious insight."

     Truly great mountain bikes (in my humble opinion) via MonkeyFilter...  Differences between British and American language...  Unfortunate children's books (via Things)...  Anecdotal leads for news stories reporting the end of the world...  Cleaning a home can be a painstaking and exhaustive process.  A hectic schedule can make general upkeep a losing battle against grime, dirt, and dust.  Here are several "trade secrets" to get rid of the most stubborn stains and smells as well as information on how to care for things...  An excellent (flash) educational site - why not make it fun to learn?...  Celebrities as children (via RobotWisdom) - I was surprised at how many were recognisable...  Only one person in two billion will live to be 116 or older.

bullet10**12 Microphones = 1 Megaphone
bullet2,000 mockingbirds = two kilomockingbirds
bullet10 cards = 1 decacards
bullet453.6 graham crackers = 1 pound cake
bullet10 rations = 1 decoration
bullet100 rations = 1 C-ration
bullet10 millipedes = 1 centipede
bullet3 1/3 tridents = 1 decadent
bullet5 holocausts = 1 pentecost
bullet10 monologues = 5 dialogues
bullet5 dialogues = 1 decalogue
bullet2 monograms = 1 diagram

31 Jul '05 - There seems to be no agent more effective than another person in bringing a world for oneself alive, or, by a glance, a gesture, or a remark, shriveling up the reality in which one is lodged.  (Erving Goffman Encounters)...  The only stupid question is the one that is never asked (except maybe "Don't you think it is about time you audited my return?" or "Isn't is morally wrong to give me a warning when, in fact, I was speeding?")...  A horse produces 45 pounds of manure a day...  Faith is what you believe in the absence of proof (if there is proof it’s not faith) and science is what you believe only with proof (if there is no proof its not science)...  93% of British women use some kind of cosmetics.  Some use up to 20 different products as part of their daily routine - but a recent poll of 10,000 single British men found two-thirds preferred fresh-faced women rather than those plastered in make-up.  (What about you?)...  Money trivia: during Fiscal Year 2003, it cost approximately 6¢ each to produce 8.2 billion US paper currency notes.  A stack of currency one mile high would contain 14½ million notes.  There are 454 notes in 1 avoirdupois pound.  If you spend $1 every second of every day, in 31.7 years you will have spent $1 billion.  Finally, the automobile pictured on the back of a $10 note is not a Model "T" Ford but is rather the creation of the designer of the bill.

     The world’s first fully automated bathing system from Brazil.  By sending it your request via cellphone, internet or PDA, the tub can have your favourite soak ready when you get home.  Settings include water temperature and level, bath essence or foam, a variety of hydromassage programs and even light intensity.  It is programmed to call you on your mobile phone when your bath is ready to be enjoyed, keeping it temperature-controlled until you arrive home...   $2,450 for a shower head?  Well, yes - but this one is different (look at this picture first)...  Best computer keyboard in the world - sadly, it isn't for sale - yet...  Online jigsaw puzzle - changes every day...  Free annual credit report (in the US).

     Daily satellite image of New Zealand  (half the fun of actually being there)...  How would you feel if you walked past a clothing shop window in the mall - and the head of the mannequin turned to follow you?  (Click on "What's the difference" on that page to see a video.)  By the way, I recently bought an artist's mannekin, mannikin, manikin - well you get the idea.  That is one of those words - like tattoo, tatoo, tatu, et al - that has several spellings - so don't give up a search for one - should the need arise - without trying several variations.

     Data first?  Or structure?  Whether you start at the top and work down (structure) or the bottom and work up (data) is, I think, largely a matter of the way you think.  They both have uses, so it's really a matter of assigning the task at hand to the most appropriate person.  The data first/structure first problem has long perplexed me in constructing this website.  When I first set out, I had 5 loose categories - today, I have more than two dozen, and I really need about a dozen more.  But I'm only one person and I really can't keep what I already have updated as often as I'd like.  Stefano Mazzocchi says that in any given instant and with infinite energy to establish them, structure first systems are preferable...  Everyone has a favorite word.  What's yours?...  If you've ever lived on a Southern California beach, you know the thrill you feel when you hear the cry, "The grunion are running!"...  Do you experience sleep paralysis?  Share your experience with researchers by filling out an online questionnaire...  The most comprehensive stadium database on the net, currently containing more than 8,500 stadiums in over 215 countries.

     The Princeton Engineering Anomalies Research (PEAR) program was established in 1979 to pursue scientifically the interaction of human consciousness with sensitive physical devices.  In experiments, human operators attempted to influence the behaviour of a variety of devices to conform to pre-stated intentions without using any known physical processes.  Thousands of such experiments, involving millions of trials, have been performed by several hundred operators.  Disturbingly, the observed effects show highly significant deviations from chance.  Pairs of people, especially when they share an emotional bond, have an even more noticeable effect - yet data generated during academic conferences or business meetings show no deviations from chance...  Planarity Flash Game - don't try this at work if you have an important project deadline coming up!...  Sam Smith says, "If the Pope wants to tell Africans not to use condoms, then he has left religion and deserves no more respect than George Bush or Bill Clinton.  If Jews encourage Israel to suppress the Palestinians then they can't label as anti-Semitic those who note the parallels to South Africa.  And if the Anglican church wants to perpetuate a 2nd class status for gays, then we should give the Archbishop of Canterbury no more honor than Tom DeLay."  If you agree, read his essay.

12 July '05 - Food for Thought: Regarding potential problems with voluntary euthanasia, the following is from a WSJ opinion piece by Richard Miniter: "The path to the death culture began when doctors learned to think like accountants.  As the cost of socialised medicine in the Netherlands grew, doctors were lectured about the importance of keeping expenses down.  In many hospitals, signs were posted indicating how much old-age treatments cost taxpayers.  The result was a growing 'social pressure' from doctors and others...  Old people have to excuse themselves for living.  When they say that all of their friends are dead, people say, 'Maybe it is time for you to go too,' rather than, 'You need to find new friends.'"

     The World Business Council for Sustainable Development (Geneva) says 1/17 of the world's motor vehicles are in China - but they have 20% of the world's traffic fatalities (from Harper's Index June 2005) - and from the same page: Factor by which the average viral load in "socially inhibited" HIV+ men exceeds that in "outgoing" men, in a UCLA study: 8 (Why? They are probably more stressed - which depresses the immune system.)  Why I Am Not a Christian by Bertrand Russell...  Growth of a Nation - an animated history of the US.  One of several Iraq War fatalities sites - this one in flash format, showing US deaths by country by date and location - sobering...  About fusion.  The US Census Bureau's International Data Base of statistical tables.  Selling Your Body to Science - how to participate in clinical drug trials for money...  Stereotypes - 20 upper halves of faces, 20 lower halves, a surprising amount of fun to put them together in various combinations - it is interesting to see which parts of faces carry the "gender" message.

     Currently in the final design stages, Poseidon will be the world's first permanent one-atmosphere sea floor structure and the world's first true undersea resort. Guests will enjoy 5 star luxury accommodation, all with stunning views of the underwater world.  Like a submarine, the pressure inside the structure never changes from surface pressure regardless of depth.  People can enter the resort and stay as long as they like and relax as if they were in their living rooms at home.  (The first location will be in the Bahamas, the second in the UAE and the third in Belize.)  A study of smells shows that the scent of grapefruit on women make them seem about 6 years younger to men. (Buy stock in a grapefruit perfume company - you'll be rich!)  Joel's favourite paper airplane - developed after years of childhood research, design and testing.  $450 for a kitchen knife?  Are you kidding?  Not al all.  The world's finest "watery" Damascene knives...  The most flexible posable man I've ever seen!  Made of metal - I want one - but I suspect they aren't cheap...  Hot Spot Bloom - a wearable wi-fi hotspot detector (but watch out that you don't break the law!Artwork made from cast and non-cast processes using clear packing tape.  Some have epoxy resin laminates, foam fills, interbedded armatures, and fiberglass coatings.

     Austrian Paul Schmidinger, screen designer and web programmer, has developed a lovely tool called Grappa (see left) - which you can download to play with (via RobotWisdom)...  Why you should read RobotWisdom every day!  Social customs and cultural differences to be aware of if you're thinking about going to the US for the first time...  Keeping tabs on your library materials (for participating libraries only, but the list includes the Wellington Public Library).  The Life cycle of a bicycle (a lovely, short Flash movie)...  Dundee Satellite Receiving Station - some Interesting Images...  Truly outstanding photos of mammatus clouds...  Luminous fabric (as in glow-in-the-dark) - not the easiest site to navigate I've ever seen, but worth the effort - store page if you want to buy.  Table of condiments that periodically go bad...  Identical twin pictures (a bit eerie)...  Floating logos - the artist has used Photoshop to erase the poles holding up signs - leaving them floating disconcertingly in the air.

     Want to become an ambassador and wonder what skills are required?  Maybe not what you think...  The world's healthiest foods (the worst foods are - of course! - the "whites": white sugar, white flour and white fat)...  Clark Sorensen has created some of the most amazing and beautiful urinals one is likely to ever see.  Each is meticulously hand built and one of a kind (they look like flowers) - formed from high fire porcelain and fired to cone 10 (2300º).  They are fully functioning vitreous porcelain fixtures that can actually be plumbed and used in a bathroom (and as you might expect, they are not cheap!) - or simply displayed...  About 1/3 of Holland (meaning "Hollow Land") is below sea level - hence the name.  From there, a range of unusual products, including light bulbs made from wineglasses (once the bulb burns out, it is still useable as such), modern tombstones, an "anti-gravity machine" (to give you the feel of walking on the moon), hair hats (made of 100% human hair) and others.

Let others praise ancient times; I am glad I was born in these.

- Ovid

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