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April 30, 2002

Aortal: Mighty Girl

It's Tuesday, and time for another Aortal link!

I needed a laugh today, and I found one at Mighty Girl. Then I found another. And another! Mighty Girl is the creation of Maggie Berry, and she's stocked it full of her witty observations of the world around us. Her favorite posts are a good place to start, but you really can't go wrong. I found Mighty Girl through kotke.org

Last week's Aortal link was not martha. Please take a look if you haven't yet!

Short People Got No Reason ...

Short men suffer, according to The Economist, in terms of both earning potential and political viability. In fact, one's height at age sixteen may directly correlate to future income. Great. I'm 5'8" (173cm).

They got little hands
Little eyes
They walk around
Tellin' great big lies

From "Short People," by Randy Newman

On the plus side, we don't have as much to worry about from those airplane seats ...

This too, from Metafilter

Know Where to Sit

Frequent air traveller? Stiff legs? You'll appreciate this Washington Post article identifying the coach seats with the most legroom (for a few airlines, at least).

Via Metafilter

Biblical Plague Snowdomes

Yeah, that's right. Biblical plague snowdomes. I won't disturb you with the pictures. Go see them yourself. Actually there's only one available so far, but there's a tantalizing picture of the second.

Via Memepool

No Deli for Carnegie Jurors

Prospective jurors in the Carnegie Deli murder trial have been forbidden from going there to eat.

"There are plenty of other places in the city to get heartburn," state Supreme Court Justice Carol Berkman quipped.

Via Newsday

April 29, 2002

The Fun Never Stops

After working two weekends and putting in nearly 70 hours last week to avoid working another one, I just found out that this week will be more of the same. And there may be still more of the same right up through May 24. So I may be dropping in at my own site less often than my readers, but I'll try to stay up to date. Think of me!

Cute Baby Animals

Yogi with a swing Cindy and her big friend, Cyro Abu playing with his birthday present

I may not have brought you new content this weekend, but I hope these pictures of cute baby animals will make up for it :).

From Yahoo News

Yogi and Cindy the bears are two of the quintuplet cubs born this winter in Kosice, Slovakia, believed to be the first bear quints ever borne in captivity. Reuters photos by Joe Klamar, from Yahoo News

Abu the elephant just turned one year old. He's a resident of the Schoenbrunn zoo in Vienna. AP photo by Martin Gnedt, from Yahoo News

It's Always Something

My best laid blogging schemes gang aft the emergency room -- this weekend, anyway. And that after a nearly 70-hour work week (twice what the job description calls for). Antibiotics and exhaustion have kept me down, preventing me from hitting the books or blogging. On the plus side, the two cats we're taking care of at the moment were a theraputic influence, at least when they weren't finding new places to hide (the basement was an adventure ...).

April 26, 2002

Home Coaster

I hereby return you to your regularly scheduled blog by posting an item found on Boing Boing several days ago that I just love:

John Ivers built a roller coaster over and around his home in Indiana. It has a chain driven lift, a 360° corkscrew, and a top speed of 25 miles per hour, and it's made of spare parts welded together in place. Quite an impressive piece of work!

Busy Busy Busy

I've been busier than I care to think about and haven't had enough time to post regularly this week, but things are calming down. Stay tuned!

April 24, 2002

Which Language is Hardest?

Arnold Rosenberg wrote an interesting paper (PDF link) on this topic, which Raffi Krikorian has posted on his site, Wasted Bits. The paper deals with how speakers of various languages perceive the difficulty of other spoken languages.

Via Boing Boing

April 23, 2002

Followup: Human Clone On the Way

Two and half weeks ago Songdog.net reported the news that Italian fertility doctor Severino Antinori claimed one of the patients in his program was pregnant with a cloned embryo. At the time Antinori's office would not comment, the doctor himself did not provide much detail, and his claims were met with skepticism.

Early Wednesday, April 24, on Italian state television Antinori announced that there are three women (not his patients) who are pregnant with clones. Nine, six, and seven weeks pregnant, to be precise.

I found this in a Reuters story, but Ananova had it first.

Aortal: not martha

It's Tuesday, and time for another Aortal link!

Megan Reardon is crafty person, and her blog, not martha celebrates this fact. In addition to cool links, news, etc, the main page always features a great image from a "random project" that you can read about (reload the page to see another project). I found not martha through Bonnie Blog

Last week's Aortal link was This is not a blog. Please take a look if you haven't yet!

Animated Tesselations

I hate to post two Boing Boing links in a row, but this is too good to miss, and some of you may not check Boing Boing regularly. You should.

Makoto Nakamura has created a wonderful gallery of animated, tesselated images. If you admire M.C. Escher's work, you'll enjoy these.

Color For the Blind

Phil Scoville's work in progress, The Color of God, is an attempt to provide reference and explanation of colors to blind people. Scoville lost his own sight at age eleven.

Found at Boing Boing. They found it at Making Light.

April 22, 2002

Earth from Space III - Images of Hawaii

After a truly wonderful trip to Hawaii last fall I thought I'd take a look at it from above:

The Big Island Mauna Loa Kohala Mauna Kea Maui Kauai The Big Island, image 2 Oahu

Images from NASA's Earth from Space

More on the Big Island image
More on the Mauna Loa image
More on the Kohala image
More on the Mauna Kea image
More on the Maui image
More on the Kauai image
More on the Big Island, image 2
More on the Oahu image

Earth from Space II - Images of America

More from the NASA archives:

Adirondacks, Lake Placid, NY Appalachian Mountains, VA Cape Cod, MA Northern LA Yellowstone Sierra Nevadas and Yosemite Lake Superior, Duluth, MI Key West, FL Alexandria, LA Whitefish Bay, MI

Images from NASA's Earth from Space

More on the Adirondacks, Lake Placid, NY image
More on the Appalachian Mountains, Virginia image
More on the Cape Cod image
More on the Northern LA image
More on the Yellowstone image
More on the Sierra Nevadas and Yosemite image
More on the Lake Superior, Duluth image
More on the Key West image
More on the Alexandria, LA image
More on the Whitefish Bay, MI image

Earth from Space I - Images of the World

In honor of the day, here are some beautiful images of the earth, from the NASA archives:

Hindu Kush, Afghanistan Arun River, Nepal Baja Penninsula, Mexico Zaire River Cape d’Ambre, Madagascar Sungai River Delta Rio Grande, Bolivia - Deforestation Niger River Delta Rondonia, Brazil - Deforestation Lake of the Woods, Ontario Lake Baikal, Russia Futago Mountain, Kyushu, Japan Aral Sea, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan

Images from NASA's Earth from Space

More on the Hindu Kush, Afghanistan image
More on the Arun River, Nepal image
More on the Baja Penninsula, Mexico image
More on the Zaire River image
More on the Cape d’Ambre, Madagascar image
More on the Sungai River Delta image
More on the Rio Grande, Bolivia - Deforestation image
More on the Niger River Delta image
More on the Rondonia, Brazil - Deforestation image
More on the Lake of the Woods, Ontario image
More on the Lake Baikal, Russia image
More on the Futago Mountain, Kyushu, Japan image
More on the Aral Sea, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan image

Happy Earth Day!


In keeping with the spirit of the day I'll be focussing on items of terrestrial interest or significance.

Image from NASA's Earth from Space

More on the Greenland image

April 20, 2002

Wireless Broadband via Laser

And not through a fiber, either. From building to building, across streets and rivers, data networks can now be bridged by invisible infrared lasers. So throw those bits right out the window!

Via Wired News

Towards Diagnosis with Nanotech

MIT's Technology Review has an interesting article about the progress being made towards nanometer-scale biological testing and diagnostic equipment. Various harbinger molecules will soon be detectable by electrical components the size of the molecules themselves. Smaller sample sizes and concentration thresholds will make earlier diagnosis possible.

Via Wired News


Want to identify a typeface? Check out the extremely cool Identifont, uses your answers to various questions about the face to narrows the possibilities down from among the nearly four thousand ones it knows about.

I found this one at Mooselessness too, and couldn't resist reposting it.

Movie Review Query Engine

I was reading Memo To Myself the other day and there I discovered the excellent Movie Review Query Engine, which, as you might expect, provides a searchable database of online movie reviews. Very, very handy. The MRQB is partnered with the wonderful Internet Movie Database (my first favorite site on the Internet), and is also linked to by Yahoo Movies.

Attempted Air Travel

I recently discovered anew John-Erik Moseler's entertaining
tale of modern air travel and thought I'd share it. Why fly when you can take the car?

Throw Away Your Phrasebooks

Well, maybe. The "Phraselator", a new gizmo born of DARPA funds, recognizes spoken English phrases and repeats them in other languages. It's currently being put to the test in Afghanistan.

Excercise in a Pill?

Researchers in North Carolina recently announced that they had managed to genetically create effects similar to those of excercise in laboratory mice. They hope to learn to stimulate certain genes to trigger these effects in humans, to trick the body into responding as it does to excercise.

From Mooselessness

April 19, 2002

In Defense of Deep Linking

Steve sent this (thanks, Steve!):

The Danish Newspaper Publisher's Association has filed for an injunction against Newsbooster for "deeplinking" directly to specific pages in various member newspapers' websites, and it's likely to be a precedent-setting case internationally. The DNPA's problem is that "the user may experience something different [than] intended." That is, they may miss the banner ads, branding, framesets, etc., that the site creators wanted them to see. The DNPA claims not to be opposed to occasional deep links, but is seeking to protect against widespread deep linking where someone else profits from repurposing a site's content. This, however, is a very slippery slope. And it's wrong.

Why is it wrong? Here's an analogy: suppose I say to my readers, "hey, take a look at page 3 of the New York Times, right below the fold - there's a great piece on genetic engineering." Readers following this suggestion may miss the front page of the Times. They may miss page two of the Times. They may miss the entire rest of the paper, with all of the ads, logos, disclaimers, and other articles it contains. But they'll see the article. An article, mind you, that they're only seeing in the first place because they read my suggestion and put some trust in it. If it was a good one, maybe they'll be more likely to check out other articles that I suggest.

Now suppose I were to charge people for a subscription service where I recommended pertinent articles in various newspapers. I would be profiting from the newspapers in the sense that I would be paid for providing an independent index and review of their publications. But I would not be profiting at the expense of the newspapers. So long as I don't actually plagiarize their material, how am I hurting them? On the contrary, I'm driving people straight to them, people who would not otherwise have purchased or seen their content.

Take away my right to do this, and you also take away from content consumers. The problem here, perhaps, is that the newspapers' business models are naïve. Don't assume people will reach your site in a certain way. Maybe there are good reasons why they follow other links into your site. Maybe it's hard to find the content they're looking for. Maybe they find your advertising model too intrusive. Study how your site is used. Fix it. Improve it. But rejoice when readers reach your site in any way! That, after all, is the point.

April 18, 2002

Thor Heyerdahl has Died

Thor Heyerdahl died this evening in Norway at age 87. He had been suffering from a terminal brain tumor.

Thor HeyerdahlKon-TikiRaEaster IslandThor Heyerdahl

Heyerdahl was known for his Kon-Tiki, Ra, Ra II, and Tigris sea journeys (despite a fear of water), and for his expeditions to the Galapagos, Easter Island. He became an oustpoken environmentalist who said "atmosphere and oceans know no boundaries. I know. I've floated around every one of them."

Doug Mellgren wrote a nice obituary for the Associated Press. The Kon-Tiki Museum has a page on the expeditions.

Images borrowed from The Kon-Tiki Museum, THOR HEYERDAHL EXPEDITIONS and ARCHAEOLOGY OF THE PACIFIC PEOPLES, and Real-Man Thor Heyerdahl: Mr. Blue Sky.

Thousands of Inca Mummies Excavated in Lima

Over 2,200 mummites and 60,000 artifacts have been excavated from a dig in Lima, Peru. The mummies represent a broad cross-section of the Inca people circa AD 1500, and they're yielding a tremendous wealth of information to arcaeologists and other anthropologists.

Thanks, Steve!

Ad-busting Citigroup

A nice bit of commercial culture-jamming, found at randomWalks. Maybe I oughta lose that Citibank credit card ... :(

Medieval Cookbooks and Recipes

These were posted on Metafilter over the last few days, and I'm shamelessly reposting them here to share with you. Thanks to all of the MeFi members who dug this stuff up!

If you're interested you should definitely also take a look at the original MeFi post and discussion in case more stuff turns up

Bottled Vanilla Coke is Real!

Bottled Vanilla Coke!

The nationwide (US) launch is May 15.

This news is three days old -- I'm a little slow on the uptake. But I thought I should follow up on this.

April 17, 2002

The Art of Jellyfish, in Monterey

Moon Jellies

Katie Dean has two Wired News stories today on the Monterey Bay Aquarium's new jellyfish exhibit, Jellies: Living Art. The first story is about the exhibit itself, which by design is more visual than scientific. At the top of this piece is a gallery of extremely pretty jelly pictures. The second story is about the unusual task of raising jellyfish for the exhibit.

We made it to the Monterey Bay Aquarium a couple of years ago, and it's a wonderful place, which I highly recommend.

Early Early Writing

Steve and I both found this NY Times article yesterday (you can use "songdog.net" as username and password) but it's taken me a while to post: Seven years ago, Egyptologists John and Deborah Darnell discovered a tableu in Gebel Tjauti, Egypt, which may be the earliest form of writing ever found. The tableu is estimated to date back 5,250 years, making it possibly older even than the Sumerian writing previously believed to be the oldest. It may depict (no kidding) the King Scorpion (a historical figure and the inspiration for the coming would-be blockbuster "The Scorpion King"). John Darnell describes the tablet as "proto-hieroglyphs" -- not quite writing, but well on the way. The Darnells describe their research in a book to be published this summer.

Space Tourist Number Two

Mark Shuttleworth, a twenty eight year old Internet entrepeneur from South Africa, will be the second amateur cosmonaut. He will also be the first African in space.

Civil Liberties Under Ashcroft

Steve sent this alarming New Republic article about ongoing abuses of the material-witness statute. The statute is intended to allow the detention of uncooperative or fugitive witnesses to crimes, but foreign nationals are being imprisoned for months at a time as "material wtinesses" to nothing in particular, in the name of the Fight Against Terrorism.

Thanks, Steve!

April 16, 2002

Where's That Rain Coming From?

This Wired News story describes some interesting research, attempting to pinpoint the origin of a rainstorm.

Tunnelling Through the Alps in Switzerland

Workers in the Gotthard Base Tunnel

The Gotthard Base Tunnel (not to be confused with the older St Gotthard Tunnel) is being built between Erstfeld and Bodio. It's going to be quite something:

  • 57 kilometers (about 36 miles) long
  • 2 kilometers (about 6600 feet) underground
  • geothermally heated to 50°C (122°F)
  • 300 trains will pass through its two tubes daily
  • ¼ the cost of the shorter Chunnel
  • should be completed by 2009

This New Scientist article has some interesting details on the engineering and construction challenges, and the risks of such a tunnel.

Looking for more? Here's a piece on the history of the Gotthard railroad, which includes an excellent illustration showing the magnitude of this endeavor. This page has some engineering details. This PDF has some more. And here's some more information on safety.


CNN graphic - click here for the animated version

Today's Proceedings of the National Academy of Science (not yet posted) on a network of colonies of billions of Argentine ants, spread over thousands of miles of southern Europe. You can read about it in this BayInsider story.

Steve found this at Metafilter, which is where I found the link to the CNN graphic. CNN's got their own article, of course. Thanks, Steve!

A Wind Farm Offshore

Proposed Wind Farm

A proposed wind farm could provide half of the electricity needed by Cape Cod, Martha's Vinyard, and Nantucket. This NY Times article (you can use "songdog.net" as username and password) describes the idea.

Opponents raise a number of valid concerns, but I say: you may think it's ugly, but do you really think it's as ugly as a coal plant? You may think it's dangerous, but do you really think it's as dangerous as a nuclear plant? You may think it's bad for the environment, but ... you get the idea.

And please, please -- does anybody have a better idea?

April 22 is Free Cone Day!

April 22 is Free Cone Day!

April 22 is Free Cone Day at Ben & Jerry's, so find your nearest scoop shop and be prepared!

Thanks, Kenny!

Aortal: This is not a blog

It's Tuesday, and time for another Aortal link!

This is not a blog is a fun new site run by David Friedman -- it's where I found the AOL Time Warner Visual Map that I posted yesterday. David provides original content with helpful links in the margins. His banner ads (kindly located at the bottom of the main page) are worth a look, and I especially like the excellent This is Not a Store, which is actually how I found the site (through kotke).

Last week's Aortal link was Bonnie Blog. Please take a look if you haven't yet!

April 15, 2002

Care to Test Your Grammar?

I was going to say that this quiz is pretty basic, but I only got seven out of nine correct ;). Give it a try, and post your score in the comments! No pressure, Steve!

Via BlahStuff

Goodbye, Greenbacks!

No, not just 'cause it's tax day. This Reuters piece reports that the U.S. Bureau of Engraving and Printing will be adding new colors to the backgrounds in new banknotes scheduled to enter circulation in 2003. I guess all those vending machines will need to be upgraded. Again. <sigh>

Via BlahStuff

Damn, That's a Big Company

We all know that AOL Time Warner is big, but now David Friedman has laid it all out for us on This is not a blog. I actually started to do this once (no kidding!) but it was left unfinished. Thanks for sharing it, David!

The Worst Cars of the Millenium

AMC Gremlin

The guys at Car Talk put this one together from listener and reader submissions. It's good stuff!

Via Snarkcake

A Movie I'd like to See

Dave Linabury's got a good one up at Davezilla. Thanks for the laugh, Dave!

NOTE: These links are broken as of 1:30 PM EST April 15, 2002. Dave's site appears to be down. Please check back!

Where's the Logic at CompUSA?

Turns out CompUSA won't ship you an expensive item unless the shipping address is associated with your credit card. But if you have a CompUSA credit card, you're out of luck! They can't do that. Rob Levandowski has written about his experience, and I'm linking it to spread the word. This has the side effect of raising its ranking at Google, which well help more people find it (perhaps some people at CompUSA? What were you thinking, folks?)

Via Boing Boing, via Dave's Picks

Six Degrees of Song Covers

The Covers Project tracks chains of musicians who are connected by the fact that one has covered the other's material. If you know of a cover that's not listed, you can add it. As of this writing, the longest chain has 18 links! I added Kevin Bacon to the list. I mean, how could I not?

Via Boing Boing

Tax Day (US)

Ouch. Tax Day. We're finally done with ours and I made my annual April 15 trip to an extremely crowded post office. Done and done. Now if work will just let up maybe I'll get some more content in here ;)

April 14, 2002

When in Maui, Borrow a Dog


Maui's Hana Highway is a popular day trip for visitors to the beautiful island. We drove it ourselves when we were there last fall. But we didn't know we could bring a dog with us! Maui native Chris Borges loans (you can use "songdog.net" as username and password for this NY Times link) her eleven dogs to visitors passing through the town of Ha'iku on their way to Hana. There is no charge, and the drivers and dogs make their own matches. We stayed in Hana for a couple of days, so we wouldn't have been able to do this, but it's a wonderful idea, and I hope we'll be able to do it next time! Great idea, Chris!

Thanks, Mom!

Single-Pedal Driving?

Swedish inventor Sven Gustafsson has come up with a new single pedal driving system. The ball and toe of the foot operate the accelerator as usual, but the heel of the foor operates the brake. The driver's foot doesn't rest on the brake control, but just behind it -- the heel is pushed forward to engage the brake. Testing shows that the new system improves reaction time by a significant margin, but Gustafsson has left part of the brake control where one usually finds it, just in case.

April 13, 2002

Work and Taxes

Work and taxes have been keeping me busier than I care to dwell upon (or bore you with) so I'm very behind in my blogging. More coming soon, I promise!

April 12, 2002

Return of the Monkeys

After last weeks Assault of the Monkeys in India, the NY Times today has a piece (you can use "songdog.net" as username and password) on the Monkeys who are harrassing drivers, shopkeepers, and farmers in Japan. People want something done, but few want to do something to the monkeys. This reminds me of New England's love/hate relationship with deer, but a monkey hunting season sounds pretty awful.

Thanks, Mom!

April 11, 2002

Therefore Take Place Peril


Anime Jump has a piece on this hysterical warning label. Steve found it at mempool.

Play at sith to a certainty, Steve, till the cowcomes home!

Classic 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica Online

Thanks for the great link, Steve! Steve says:

I love this modern world! For years I dreamed of owning the 11th edition of the Britannica, the greatest encyclopedia ever printed ... and now they've put the whole thing online, free! Alas, there are a few problems...but problems or no, it's a giant leap for mankind.
As I expected, they have only the text, not the marvellous maps (of course, I've xeroxed most of the ones that interest me over the years), but the text is in wretched shape ... here's a sample from the Austria-Hungary section:
The empire of Austria... dates back only to 1804, when Francis II., the last of the Holy Roman The flUe emperors, proclaimed himself emperor of Austria as ``~mperor Francis I. His motive in doing so was to guard ~ against the great house of Habsburg being relegated ustr!a. to a position inferior to the parvenus Bonapartes.... [ellipses mine, gibberish theirs]
Another important caveat: the articles seem to be arranged under the heading at the top of the printed page, so that (for instance) when you click on AA and scroll down, you won't see "Aaron" -- he's hiding under "AARSSENS, FRANCIS VAN." And when you click on "AUSTRIA-HUNGARY" the text you get starts in the middle of a sentence; you have to go to the previous link, "AUSTRIA, UPPER," to get the start of the article.

Jet Takes Off

An American Airlines 767 with no one on board spontaneously(?) rolled across a street and through some power lines at LAX.

NY Times article (you can use "'songdog.net" for username and password)

Thanks, Steve!

Skate Dog

Great Reuters photo:


Hsiao Pai's owner taught her to skateboard "so she would not get tired when following him around."

Original link

April 10, 2002

Professional Literati Recommend Science Fiction and Fantasy

Various literary notables recommend the works that have inspired them, from Sunday's Washing Post Book World.

Thanks, Steve!

Via Memo to Myself.

First Sign of the Broadband Apocalpyse

[AOL] Time Warner Cable will be charging more to subscribers who go beyond a monthly usage threshold. Bad, bad, bad!

I have cable modem service through Comcast (formerly through now-defunct @Home) and they have already replaced the no-limit @Home newsserver with limited accounts at Giganews, to my considerable annoyance. If Comcast tries to follow AOL's example, I'm switching to DSL. Probably SDSL, to get my own bandwidth (anyone out there have any SDSL experience?)

Via Metafilter

What's Your Misfortune?

It's an old link, but a good one! Now that's a magic cookie.

Via Cruel Site of the Day

April 09, 2002

Aortal Link: Bonnie Blog

Bonnie Burton's Bonnie Blog is a new addition to her excellent Grrl.com (check out her Phreaky Phriday Phun Linx!). I first learned of her blog at Boing Boing, where Bonnie has recently been the Guestbar editor. I've enjoyed following Bonnie Blog, and am glad to make it Songdog.net's first Aortal link.

Seven Meter Panel of Toast

I just love this. FA+ (artists Ingrid Falk and Gustavo Aguerre) used over three thousand pieces of toast to produce this work.

Found on Everlasting Blort

Holographic Storage On a Disc

InPhase technologies has announced a product based on holographic storage, which allows multiple sets of data to occupy the same location in space. The first generation will hold 100 gigabytes of data on a single DVD-sized disc. The second should cram 1 terabyte (1000 gigabytes) into a similar disc.

April 08, 2002

Monorail @ Home

Take a look at this website about Kim Pedersen's awe-inspiring garden monorail system. Stunning!

Via Metafilter

World's Largest Shoes

An Indian shoemaker created the shoes "to put a smile on people's faces ... [and to] remind the world of the big steps required to root out evil."

Found at New World Disorder

A Connecticut Physicist in King Arthur's Court?

I've been meaning to post this for three days, after seeing it on Boing Boing:

Cigarettes killed Ronald Mallet's father when Mallet was 10. Wishing he could have warned his father about smoking, Mallet studied physics in the hope of finding a way to do so. Now, after decades of research, he believes he's found a way to make time travel possible.

Mallet's idea involves creating a relativistic distortion in space-time with a ring of slow-moving laser light. Matter inside the ring of light could be projected back into the past, albeit only back to when the ring was created. He hopes to build an apparatus to test this theory on an unsuspecting subatomic particle. The physics community is not exactly rallying behind him, but it will be interesting to see how this goes.

The Dialectizer

After my last post, I just had to post The Dialectizer. I thought of it when I was telling someone about Google's language options, and even if it is a few (four) years old, it's a hell of a lot of fun when you're in the right mood. Keep it handy in your bookmarks for when you need to laugh at someone's expense. Like mine.

Thanks to Al, who sent me this site three or four years ago. It still makes me laugh, Al!

NY Times on Google, and Interesting Google Languages

There's an interesting piece in today's NY Times (free registration required) on Google's business plans and technology model. According to the article, Google receives more than one thousand résumés a day! Who wouldn't want to work for a company that presents its application not only in Catalan, and Kannada, and Urdu, but also in Pig Latin, Klingon, and Bork Bork Bork. There are lots of other options, and if you mess up your preferences you can click the link on the bottom of the main page to go back to Google in English ;) (I assume anyone reading this can manage their Google preferences in English. Let the surfer beware.)

Thanks, Leslie!

April 07, 2002

Smithsonian Squeegee

A World Trade Center window washer applied the tools of his trade to save six lives, including his own. Now these tools are going to the Smithsonian. I like this story a lot, I really do.

Via Metafilter

[Gullible People] Limit Civil Liberties In Massachusetts

Representatives of Ballot Access Company showed Massachusetts residents a petition to ban the slaughtering of horses for food, and got them to sign it. But what they were really signing was a seperate petition, one for a state ban on gay marriage.

Ballot Access Company was getting paid more for each signature on the latter petition so, hey, why not bait and switch? As a result, the Massachusetts ballot will probably include the gay marriage ban, but not the the horse-meat ban.

NY Times article (free registration required)

I amended this post (on April 8) to soften my words after some reflection and discussion. It is not clear how much chance people had to notice what they were really signing - the tricks played by the signature collectors may have involved hiding or even removing the details of the gay marriage ban petition. In that case I have a greater sympathy for those who signed something they didn't mean to. But this should certainly serve as a warning to be very, very careful what we put our names on.

Hmmm ... my name's not on this ... yet ...

Online Exhibition: "Spy Letters of the American Revolution"

Clements Library, at the University of Michigan has a nice exhibit of these letters, with both transcriptions and images of the original documents on display.

From The Presurfer

April 06, 2002

Maybe I Oughta Get a Volvo

Irv Gordon's gotten 2 million miles out of his.

Via Metafilter

When Sacred Animals Attack

Loreto College, in Darjeeling, India, has been set upon by "scores" of sacred monkeys. The monkeys have attacked students and destroyed thousands of books.

If a million sacred monkeys, with a million scholarships ... no, never mind.

Thanks, Steve!

Just Sayin'

I'm stuck at work this weekend, and the coffee shop didn't open until 10:00. Boy did that first sip taste good :)

Security Measures Can Make You Sick

Especially if they make you drink the water. (NY Times article. Free registration required)

Thanks, Leslie!

April 05, 2002

Look Out!

Asteroid 1950 DA was discovered in 1950. It was rediscovered in 2000. It visits the Earth about every fifty years, and after fourteen more of these passes by, on March 16, 2880, it will be making a really close one.

How close? Closer than the moon. The current estimate is that there is a one in three hundred chance of an impact with the earth. Not much of a chance, but a lot more than the chance of me winning the Big Game lottery this weekend ...

Here's a Wired News article on the matter.

Myopia Linked to Childhood Diet?

Refined starches in breads and cereals may increase the progression of myopia, the New Scientist reports. The widespread increase in myopia over the last century had long been tied to the widespread increase in literacy, but

while reading may play a role, it does not explain why the incidence of myopia has remained low in societies that have adopted Western lifestyles but not Western diets.

Via Wired News

Avoid E. Coli With Organic Circuits

Meant to post this yesterday:

Soluble and printable circuit components made of carbon and hydrogen could be used in future food packaging to report on the freshness of the food within (among many other uses).

NY Times article (free registration required)

Thanks, Leslie!


Will these poems reduce noise pollution? Let's hope so. At least it's cathartic.

Via Robot Wisdom

Starbucks Cards Reduce Tips

I hate to say it, but I
saw this one coming. I wish I'd said so here ;)

Via Obscure Store

"Lunar Zion"?

This Rand Simberg piece from Fox News has a nice tip of the hat to Yuri Gagarin, but particularly provocative is his proposal of a lunar Zion. Search for "Lunar Zion", scroll down, or simply read the whole piece. Rand also links to his earlier blog piece on the matter.

Via Metafilter

Human Clone On the Way?

The New Scientist reports the claims of a fertility specialist that a patient is pregnant with a cloned human embryo. His office won't comment yet.

Just Don't Mutter Under Your Breath

The New Scientist reports that DoCoMo is working on cell phones that read lips, eliminating the need to vocalize at all. Wait until I tell the loudmouths on the train! Actually, we'll probably have to wait quite a while. So far it only works for vowels. But eventually this technology will make a lot of things possible!

Via Boing Boing

A New Carousel in New York City

A Brooklyn company is manugacturing a Beaux Arts carousel for New York's Bryant Park, to be installed later this month. It turns out that Brooklyn has a long history of carousel construction dating back to the late nineteenth century. This one sounds like a nice addition to the park.

NY Times article (free registration required)

Thanks, Leslie!

April 04, 2002

Empirical Science And More At Cockeyed

Ever wonder how much coffee you can make from 1 one pound can? Who hangs those damn "Work from Home" signs? What to do with six dozen light bulbs? How to make fire?

Rob Cockerham and his friends answer all of these questions and more on his great site, Cockeyed. I especially recommend the section, "How Much Is Inside", which is also available in Arabic :)

My links, above, go to indivudal frames of his site. Be sure not to miss the main page.

"No One Man Can Do All That"

There's a nice piece in today's NY Times about West Orange, New Jersey's [Thomas] Edison National Historic Site. Only six months left to visit it before it closes for major renovations!

Bart: I thought he invented the light bulb. Lisa: That too. He also invented the phonograph, the microphone, and the electric car. Homer: No one man can do all that. You're a liar, honey, a dirty rotten liar.

(The Simpsons: "The Wizard of Evergreen Terrace")

Clandestine Women: The Untold Stories of Women in Espionage

The National Women's History Museum is presenting an exhibit on the American history of women in espionage, from Sacagawea to Julia Child, from Harriet Tubman to Virgina Hall. NPR's Morning Edition covered the exhibit this morning.

Via Metafilter

Bottled Water - It's All We've Got

The Chowhound.com Manhattan message board is abuzz over a report that some New York City restaurants are scamming their patrons by pushing bottled water on them during the water shortage.

Via Boing Boing

April 03, 2002

Songdog.net Has Joined Two Webrings

Today songdog.net became a member of two webrings: the MT Webring and the Movable Type Blog Ring. Each of these, of course, is a ring of sites which use Mena and Ben Trott's marvelous Movable Type content management/publishing system. Have a look at songdog.net's peers in these rings and see what other people are doing with this technology!

The Rings links can currently be found in the righthand column of the main page, below the Links section. Clicking on < or > takes you to the previous or next site in the ring, ? takes you to a random site, and # takes you to the list of all ring members.

Psychologists Advocate Tickling, Laughter

The psychologists in this Telegraph story say laughter is the best medicine.

Of course, for the patient in this Telegraph story laughter could have been lethal. That isn't funny at all.

Via Metafilter

Looking at the World Through Skinny-Colored Glasses

Vogue has peculiar thoughts about what constitutes diversity of "shape." Emily Nussbaum's funny but horrible Slate article tells the sordid tale.

Via Metafilter

Office of Homeland Security Mum on National ID Proposals

The Electronic Privacy Information Center believes that Homeland Security may be trying to link state and federal identification systems. EPIC believes that the public ought to know about this sort of thing, because of obvious privacy implications, so they filed Freedom of Information Act requests. Unfortunately, they've waited ten days without a response. They are now considering a lawsuit. Here's a Washtech.com article.

Via Wired News

It Sings Along With You

Taito Corp is releasing a new karaoke system with technology that is supposed to make amateur singers sound better. It dynamically adjusts song tempo for the singer (I can't wait to hear how that sounds ...), pitch-shifts the recorded tracks into a key and register that suit the singer, and "objectively assess[es] pitch, rhythm and skill at such voice techniques as vibrato and crescendo" (sounds dubious). Future devices may utilize technology that shifts each sung (or spoken) note to the "correct" pitch.

It might sound better, but doesn't it sort of defeat the purpose?

Via Wired News

April 02, 2002

Sweet Irony: You Can't Fight Unix Without It

Microsoft and Unisys are using FreeBSD to host an anti-Unix propaganda site.

Via Boing Boing

Degree Confluence Project

Steve alerted me to this project to photograph intersections of integer latitudes and longitudes, all over the globe. This is a really cool idea. I wonder if I can submit a new confluence?

Thanks, Steve!

Unusual Computer Case

Now here's a case alternative I haven't seen ...

Via Metafilter

Lucky Money

The Bureau of Engraving and Printing Store is selling uncirculated one dollar bills with "lucky" serial numbers, saying "[t]hese uncirculated notes make ideal gifts for those to whom you want to extend well wishes."

What happens if I buy a lottery ticket with one of these?

Via memepool

Vanilla Coke: Not a Joke After All?

Coke's alleged plans for a packaged vanilla coke were widely reported in the last 24 hours -- on Boing Boing and Metafilter, for instance, pointing to articles from the NY Times (free registration required) and CNN among others -- but no retractions have appeared yet. Is it true? It looks like it might be. The Mercury News has mentioned it today.

I think this could be a good thing if they get the recipe right. I'm partial to a good soda fountain-style vanilla coke when I can find one. But they really screwed up the lemon flavoring in the lemon isotope of Diet Coke. Vaguely soapy, in my opinion.

Of course, I tried a soda fountain lemon coke once and it was absolutely repulsive. I think--I hope--that they simply put too much lemon in it. It was vile. The lemon Diet Coke is not nearly so nasty, but it's not as good as regular Diet Coke, and it's not as good as Diet Coke with real lemon in it.

By the way, has anyone else noticed that if you make a Cuba Libré (rum and coke) with Captain Morgan brand spiced rum, it tastes almost exactly like cream soda?

Café Britney?

The NY Times reports (free registration required) on Britney's new restaurant. This is from March 31, so I guess it's not a joke.

"She says, `Oh, I love this,' " Mr. Moinian said. "I remember she said that twice: `I love this. I love this.' " Ms. Spears did not comment for this article.

Thanks, Leslie!

Martha Stewart Foolin'

For those who missed this yesterday,
Martha reminded the world that she has a sense of humor. Of course, "Car Talk" fans knew this already.

Call For a Revolution in Anti-virus Technology

Here's an Interesting piece on the problems with current approaches to anti-virus technology.

...anti-virus companies cannot afford not to frequent virus writers%u2019 Web sites and lurk in the shadows of that world...

It will be interesting to watch how this field evolves.

Via GuerrillaNews, via Boing Boing

A History of April Hoaxes

April Fool's Day hoaxes from as early as 1582, and as recently as yesterday, at
the April Fool's Day Gallery in the Museum of Hoaxes.

Via Plep

April 01, 2002

Animals Endangering Each Other

Orcas are eating otters. Golden eagles are eating island foxes. And all because humans went messing with mother nature. This article from the Santa Cruz Sentinal is a week old, but this is an interesting story, and worth a read. Sometimes the consequences of our actions are hard to see. Sometimes they may be impossible to predict.


Free Books in Baltimore

Russell Wattenberg redistributes donated books, for free, to anyone who wants them, on the condition that they are never resold.

"Getting the books is easy," Mr. Wattenberg said. "It's odd, but if I put out a little sign in Antarctica — `I accept book donations' — I'd be swamped."

NY Times article (free registration required)

Thanks, Leslie!

Followup on Famous Fugitive Cow

Maybe "Cinci Freedom" (oof!) is agitated by Peter Max?

NY Times article (free registration required)

Thanks again, Mom!

Behind the Burqa

The NY Times reports (free registration required) that Elle will be launching a magazine for Afghan women.

Thanks, Mom!

More on Type: Typography in Film

Two great links from other blogs on "typecasting" - the use of type in movies: at Mark Simonson'sms-studio.com and at Joe Clark's

Found at Metafilter, kottke.org

Arial vs. Helvetica

Jason Kottke posted a couple of great links on kottke.org today on the evils of Arial. Good reading!

How Google Works

Google just posted this illuminating article on their technology.

Found via Slashdot

Faster Than Light? Yawn ...

This is a few days old, but I thought I'd share it anyway.

Via Wired News

Airport Security Lapses