Monday, March 26, 2007

Light Blogging Period Ahead

Sorry, folks. Work is going to be a real bear this week, so I doubt I'll have time to post anything interesting.

My apologies in advance to all 2 or 3 of my readers *heh*.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Sunday Funny: A Mouse With Bite

Being a techno-geek, I usually write about a different kind of mouse, but this mighty mouse's antics had me chuckling.

Maybe mice have the same sense of humor that rats have:

In this case, though, I think this mouse is into practical jokes.

Update: I had to embed the link to the "rats laughing" video.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Console Wars Update: Wii Captures Senior Demographic

Cute story on Senior Citizens getting excited about the relatively low-cost Wii console. Nintendo's Wii is fast becoming a cultural phenomenon.

And what of Sony's PS3, touted as being on the bleeding edge of a technological revolution? Judging by the ho-hum reaction to PS3's launch in Europe yesterday, not so much. Even Microsoft's antics at the launch in London and Paris was greeted with chuckles from journalists.

In light of the disastrous public relations handling of the decision to launch the version of PS3 that is compatible with only a few PS2 titles, and add to that the game developers abandoning of PS3 in the short run to make games for PS2, Wii, and XBOX 360, Sony's big gamble is looking worse and worse.

A Basket Both a Make and a Miss

Heh. My NCAA bracket was busted on day one, but I didn't observe it happening. Somehow I don't see myself winning my pool, though.

© Tim Rickard

Friday, March 23, 2007

Because Satchelism is the Best Form of Government

Ever had a conversation with a Kool-Aid drinking Marxist-Leninist? Yep, they make just about as much sense as a conversion with Satchel:

© Darby Conley

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Elaborate Heists Update: Japan

Okay, so we all heard about the huge gold block that was stolen from a museum in Japan.

Why are men so fascinated by heist stories? Really, more than sex, we just want to be part of the action:

"It's more than just bananas and dancing with toothbrushes, okay?"

Note to my bro: See, I finally found it!

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Car Makers Shift Away From Booth Babes

REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon
Woah, woah, woah! That's just crazy talk!

You mean to tell me that South Korean automakers actually display their cars at the autoshow? Probably most South Koreans didn't even know that they could take pictures of the cars.

Really, it's true! They got the cars right there and everything! You just had to, sort of, look past the shinier, sexier model draped over the hood actually willing to make eye-contact and a say hi to you.

Yeah, that's tough competition, especially with the oh so alluring car designs from Hyundai and Kia.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

USB Monitors Coming Soon

This is kind of cool. Samsung will be selling monitors that you can plug into a USB hub. No more fuss of installing a second video card into your tower, or rigging a klunky monitor switch.

The coolest part for mobile types?

DisplayLink has also licensed its technology to Toshiba, which has built it into a universal laptop docking station, and [Michael Ledzion, DisplayLink's executive VP of world-wide sales] showed a USB-DVI dongle from Taiwanese manufacturer Sunix which he said can add USB connectivity to any screen.

The same technology can be used to send video over wireless USB and Wi-Fi...

I can think of all sorts of geeky goodness with this kind of setup. Not only that, the PC may finally bridge the gap from desktop to living room without all the uber-techie hassle that "media centers" have to go through now.

New Approaches To Dangers of Online Anonymity

Interesting twist on the "Dangers of Online Anonymity" meme out there. In the article, we hear from a company whose job it is to clean up mess after your reputation has been trashed online.

"It takes one person 20 minutes to destroy your reputation, and it costs them nothing," says Michael Fertik, who employs about 40 part-time "agents" on what he calls "search and destroy" missions against unwarranted Internet attacks. "It can take you 200 hours to try to clean it up."

This company is involved with the case of the female law students who might have lost job opportunities because gossip about them on message boards turned up in online searches.

For some of my online friends, this all sounds awfully familiar, doesn't it?

Russians Finally Fear Nuclear Iran

Tch...At least we know what side the Russians are on. Only there's.

The fuel the Russians are holding back is the only way Iran's uranium enrichment program could continue. Why didn't they pipe up sooner? Did they actually think that the world would see them as the superhero swooping in to save the day?

Russkis. Always with their fatalistic brinkmanship.

Disaster Recovery Proves Disastrous in Alaska


Fdisk, delete partition? Okie Dokie.

How would you like to read this story, knowing it was you that cost Alaskan residents so much grief? Computer technicians must be scarce up there if he didn't lose his job, or at least get docked in pay.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Scientists Hope to Rein in Mind-Wandering

It's about time they got around to...what's that now? Oh yeah! Studying the wandering mind. I paid attention to this story just long enough to post about it on, I gotta do some housekeeping around here.

Huh? Right, right, the study. Apparently, scientists are finding out that the mind's default mode is to wander, which is why we actually have to exert some energy to concentrate on a task.

"A lot of human daily life is autopilot," [Michael Kane, a psychologist at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro] said. "There's a whole lot of what we need to do that we can do without thinking about it, from driving to eating .... We do occasionally miss that turn on the way home, but we get through the day pretty well."

This confirms a lot of anecdotal evidence I've seen of people in my own life who are definitely on autopilot, perhaps more than they should be.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

St. Paddy's Day - Anime Style

As I, and the rest of Chicago, recover from yesterday's festivities celebrating all things green on St. Patrick's Day, here's anime's version:

In case you're wondering, the song is Hamtaro's Opening Song Techno Remix. Apt, huh?

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Friday, March 16, 2007

One-Party System Leads to Corruption in China

No kidding.




Manliness Has Healing Powers

Manliness may lead to more injuries, but could it also speed the healing process?

Um, okay, but that's a pretty small study population, and the methodology doesn't seem to separate out the "power of positive thinking" effect, from what I could tell.

Meh, maybe I just need to be more focused on my career...Is that even possible?

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Survey Says Low Sex Rate Means Low Birth Rate in Japan

Duh. The poll in Japan has experts worrying that the continuing trend in a lowering birthrate will lead to a labor shortage and a shortfall in tax revenue. Why aren't the Japanese having sex? Among the reasons cited is "a decline in physical communication skills in an increasingly Web-based society", according to the director of the Japan Family Planning Association, which conducted the survey.

Could it be more likely that Japanese men have an unhealthy fascination for kinky sex, which their partners don't seem to share, and are seeking an outlet for their prurient interests on the internet? Could that be the basis for the prevalence of all the weird hentai found freely on the web?

Because, we all know that the internet is for porn:

"Normal people don't sit at home and look at porn on the internet."

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Guys, No Comment is the Only Answer to Fat Talk

"Fat Talk" is part of some bizarre female bonding ritual, according to this study.

We get it. "Do these pants make me look fat" is an invitation to bond with you in friendship. It's the female version of "Did you see the game last night?" Just leave us guys out of it. Believe me, when I hear "female bonding ritual", I'm not thinking about cottage cheese.

Here's the deal: If you promise not to comment on our bizarre fascination with sports statistics, we promise not to answer literally your question on situational obesity. Pinky Swear?

Airbus Woes Continue With Planned Union Strike

Strikes in three countries planned to protest the plan to cut 10,000 jobs.

I haven't posted on Airbus/EADS's tribulations lately, mostly because there was just a rash of bad news related to the of the whole A380 debacle. The strike will be largely symbolic, but it should serve as a wakeup call to EADS that management should share in some of the pain for a mess they largely created.

The European politicians, predictably, are once again looking to artificially prop up this supra-nationalized corporation instead of allowing market forces to play out:

Ahead of France's April 22-May 6 two-round presidential election, most candidates have pushed for state intervention to help rescue the company from its troubles, largely caused by a weaker U.S. dollar and a 5 billion euros ($6.5 billion) profit shortfall due to the A380 superjumbo's two-year delay.

EADS is sitting on a pile of cash and can easily handle this profit shortfall, but the politicians are worried about how the plummeting stock price will affect their governments shares.

Ugh, what a mess.

My previous posts on Airbus/EADS can be found here.

Grown Children Living in Parents' Basement Since Dawn of Man

Parental Units, is your thirty year-old man-child having "motivational issues" with emptying your nest? Consider it a really long term problem, according to a new anthropological analysis of tooth enamel in hominid fossils.

Meanwhile, a woman in Russia attempted to thwart evolution by hiring a hitman to off her 17-year-old son.

Behavioral theorists might suggest that her actions were the result of the intense environmental pressures of a cramped living space. Prosecutors saw it a little differently.

Unicorn Defense Snowballs to Hell in Billings

Heh. I guess the prosecutor should have read his email a little more closely. A deputy prosecutor misread his boss' summary of what kind of defense the defendant was going to employ, in shorthand, the "somebody-else-did-it" defense, or SEDI:

In this case, a man arraigned Tuesday in District Court on charges of felony criminal endangerment and DUI asserted what prosecutors sometimes call the unicorn defense, which suggests that some mythical person was driving at the time of the incident, [Yellowstone County Attorney Dennis] Paxinos said.

Somewhere along the email chain, the "Unicorn Defense" became conflated with the SEDI in the police report, and that's how a confused deputy prosecutor contended that the defendant claimed that a unicorn was driving his car in the DUI case.

The Tooth Fairy could not be reached for comment.

Bigfoot referred all inquiries to his agent.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Indian Comic Implores White People Not to Spare Rod

Comic Russell Peters is funny...too funny. Known for his dead on Hong Kong Chinese accent, as well as his imitation of his very Indian father, he recommends that white parents get back to basics when it comes to discipline, with a little help from Naruto:

"Somebody gonna get a hurt real bad."

Monday, March 12, 2007

This is it: Ethanol Now Affecting Coke Price

Ethanol production from corn, seen to affect the price of tortillas in Mexico, and the price of meat products because of the rising cost of cornfeed, is now affecting the price of the high fructose corn syrup found in most soft drinks, like Coca Cola, to the point where they are going to offer new syrup formulas for soda fountains to customers so they won't feel the pinch. Coca Cola may abandon corn syrup altogether if the price gets too high:

[Scott Young, a food service division executive at the company,] also said he would not be surprised if Coca-Cola was looking at switching to different sweeteners. However he said he did not have enough information to say whether this could involve a move to sugar or Splenda from corn syrup.

Originally, soft drink companies switched to corn syrup because of the low price. Some nutrition experts have blamed this shift for higher carbs in the American diet. I wonder what a shift back to sugar or even as yet unknown sweeteners would do?

Corn-based ethanol is looking more and more like a loser with each story like this one. Can we have our hydrogen cells now, please?

Barista Training Schools Percolate Skills

The state of coffee has come to this, and it's about time, too.

*Geezer Coffee Geek Rant*

I remember cafes before coffee became a mass market commodity, when they still had baristas who knew just how to grind the beans depending on what kind of roast they were.

I remember cafes when you knew it was time to leave at the shift change because the barista coming on was awful.

I remember when baristas knew how to tamp the scoop just right.

I remember when baristas were hired because of experience, not because they couldn't get the job at McDonald's.

*Geezer Coffee Geek Rant off*

Starschmucks needs to get rid of their automated espresso machines. Those machines of efficiency exposed that Starbucks coffee is really mediocre, at best.

I used to have an espresso habit, but since finishing grad school, I got turned off by the lack of barista skills. If graduates of these barista schools become more prevalent, I may pick up the habit again.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Lazy Sunday - More Anime Goodness

Charlie Murphy's reminiscence, served up by BLEACH.

I'm Rick James, B***H!

"Now that you mention it, I think I'm bleeding inside my chest."

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Every Cat In His Humour

Heh. Shakespug finally gets called out for quoting someone other than Shakespeare:

© Darby Conley

Friday, March 09, 2007

Even Mayans Suffer from BDS

Meh. Whatever.

So Guatemalans want to cleanse a Mayan temple after Bush's visit. Seems a tad hypocritical for a country whose cultural history is bathed in the blood of human sacrifice for just about every ritual they had, including religion, politics, and sports. But Bush Derangement Syndrome is highly resistant to logic or self-examination.

Must Be Geek Week

Heh. Cuz, you know, Klingons are a small but influential minority in Finland.

More Klingons in politics here.

Update: Just to let you know, I've been getting some traffic out of Finland lately, according to SiteMeter. Just Sayin'.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Even More Geek Cred

I swear, if we keep having slow news days, I'm going to use up all of my Geek Cred stash. I had to weigh this one against a duck to see if it would float:

"She turned me into a newt!...I got better."

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Meh. More Geek-Tastic For You


You work late, and when you get home, you find that the only interesting thing in the news worth posting about is that humans got a realllly bad case of crabs from gorillas 3.3 million years ago.

Sure...of course we didn't catch crabs from humping gorillas. It was the inadequate laundry services at the "Lowland Forest Truckstop and Inn" that's to blame for crab-infested fronds. How many punchlines are in this article? I mean, seriously, say this out loud: Humans caught crabs *snicker* from eating *snort* gorilla meat *snerk*....


What's worse, that humans caught pubic lice from gorillas...or head lice from chimps?

We are a sick, sick species.

Update: Okay, at least, as a species, we are known for our decision-making abilities when ranking our priorities when it comes to negotiating what's important. Remember, "soft hands".

Update II: Go to my brother's blog to see a video of the "Beer-Tossing Fridge" in action.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Geek Cred Super Sayan Level 3!

So how do I achieve Super Sayan Level 3 in the Geekosphere?

I know! How about posting an AMV with Bleach footage.

Bleach footage over a Weird Al Yankovic song.

Bleach footage over a Weird Al Yankovic song about Star Wars.

Yeah, that ought to do it.

Luke stay away from the darker side
And if you start to go astray let the Force be your guide.

Ah. Sweet beautiful geek cred.

MSM Actually Covers Non-Consensus Research Studies

Paradigm whiplash...A news article on two new research studies that don't toe the party line on global warming. One, on the effect of Asian pollution and increased intensity of thunderstorms in the Northern Pacific bewteen 1984 and 2005, sees a link between this effect and warming in just the Northern Polar regions. The global climate modelers are going to have a field day with that study.

The other study offers a theory that the Montreal Protocol of 1987 that banned CFCs responsible for contributing to the depletion of the Ozone Layer actually slowed the rate Global Warming, presumably because a healthier Ozone Layer blocked more UV radiation from entering the lower atmosphere. This is sure to be a controversial idea for the proponents of the Consensus who want to minimize the role of solar radiation in their climate models.

More research like these two studies should give the world's governments pause before embarking on schemes that may cost us dearly, but provide little benefit.

C'mon! Everybody's Doing It: Enviro-Peer Pressure

This study should come as no surprise to anyone who is even mildly skeptical of the enviro-bat movement. Sheeple will be Sheeple, right? Public shame seems to be the only actual motivating factor when determining whether people act according to their stated values:

"One spur to get people to act is to honestly tell them that's what the majority of people are doing in this situation," said Robert Cialdini, a psychologist at Arizona State University, author of the new study.

Many other commenters far more eloquent than I am have already pointed out the increasing use of moralistic overtones in the rhetoric of the environmental movement, and this study seems to prove it. One need only listen to Al Gore these days as a perfect example. But just like any D.A.R.E. video to high school students on the dangers of peer pressure to engage in risky behavior, peer pressure's use in environmentalism is a double-edged sword, as Cialdini points out:

The scientists erected signs in the Petrified Forest in Arizona. One sign showed a scene of three wood-taking thieves, with text that urged visitors not to take any wood. After passing this sign, park-goers were three times more likely to steal than the average visitor.

"The subtext message is that everybody is doing it, which legitimizes the behavior," Cialdini said.

The second sign showed a lone thief with the same anti-thieving text. Passersby were half as likely to steal as those who didn't read that sign. The secret to a successful deterrent is to avoid validating deviant actions of a small minority.

Maybe someone should look into E.L.F.'s recruiting methods, hmm?

And what of the other joiners of Enviro-Masochism? They certainly don't look so iconoclastic now, do they?

Monday, March 05, 2007

UK Mulls Samurai Sword Ban

After the recent spate of would-be samurais running amok, it looks like Britain has finally had enough of the cartoony hack-a-slash. If you outlaw possession of samurai swords, will only Ronin possess samurai swords? That's a toughy.

H/T Ace.

Measuring Weather is Hard!

Oh, really? Nice lede:

With constant weather forecasts on TV and the Internet and all the precise storm totals that are reported, you might think scientists had a firm grasp of how much rain and snow falls around the planet. And you'd be wrong.

Did someone forget to tell the climate modelers that? They, um, might want to be let in on this little secret, don't you think?

New Techniques in Treating Scoliosis

Methods to treat scoliosis without the dreaded back brace or spinal fusion surgery will soon be coming out of clinical trials.

I wish these methods had been available sooner. I was subjected to both the usual methods for my scoliosis, with the nine-inch scar on my spine and memories of the night-time pain from the brace as evidence, not to mention the shortened stature that comes from fusing two vertebrae together. While I can't argue with the results of these methods, I wonder what an effect an added three inches of height would have had.

Heh. I might have looked more like this guy.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

I Find Your Lack of Carbon Off Setting

I'd love to sic Satchel on Al Gore:

Don't be a Throw-50 Carbon Jerk!
© Darby Conley

If you think Rob Wilco and Satch find it a little hard to understand each other, there's a new study out that helps explain that.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

More Samurai Warriors in the News

Recently, we had the story about Katana-wielding would-be hero from Wisconsin who broke into a guy's apartment because he thought someone was getting raped. Hilarity ensued.

In South Carolina, a man broke into an apartment wielding a sword, but the resident grabbed his own sword and fought back against the intruder.

Is there some new trend I don't know about where swords are the weapon of choice for protection? Maybe it's all the anime out there influencing people. Everybody wants to be hero [warning: language content a little NSFW]:

"Enjoy your spaghetti. Cuz you're rude."

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Hollow Man: The Case of the Existential Cabinet Minister in Africa

Did he ever even exist?

On a continent where the presidents of countries can claim to treat AIDS with magical potions, politicians sure do push the bounds of the metaphysical. If the situation weren't so embarassing, a more cynical person might think the backroom wheeling and dealing went something like this:

Minister#1: South Africa tried magic. Then Gambia, too. How do we get in on this?

Minister#2: Did anyone ever appoint a demon? We could try that.

Minister#1: I like your thinking, but according to the focus groups, demon equals scary.

Minister#2: I know! A zombie! We always have some shaman claiming to be raising zombies.

Minister#1: Nah...a zombie would be too high maintenance...always with the sloughing off of rotten flesh. And think of the security headaches, not to mention liability if the Zombie Minister ate a foreigner's brain.

Minister#3: [barging into the meeting, then breathless] I got it! Let's try appointing a ghost to a cabinet-level ministerial position! We can claim all sorts of stuff, and the guy never even has to show up!

Ministers(all): Huzzah!

Minister#1: Alright! Let's hit the focus groups and come up with a list of names I can introduce into the process and see what sticks.

Or something like that.

It is so sad that the fledging democratically elected government in Congo has to deal with a story that taints the democratic process, and continues to invite snickering from the rest of the world.