Saturday, December 18, 2010

Ian McKellan or Christopher Lee?

Well... though I very much appreciate both Sirs, I have to say that to my knowledge Sir Ian didn't recently record a metal album about the life and times of Charlemagne (You probably saw this in the AVClub Least Essential Albums of 2010, just like me! I would like to point out that with the internet, the frivolous can be enjoyed without paying, which makes it kind of imperative to at least check it out on grooveshark or something. Okay, here's a link to like a minute of it on YouTube ). Nor does he brag about having worked with Man O' War. Oh, and Christopher Lee appears to have stabbed people in WWII.

Then again, Sir Ian claims to have decided to publicly come out by responding to a conservative politician's request for an autograph for his children by signing, "Fuck off, I'm gay," which is pretty awesome.

I think what I'm trying to say is that today I've come to believe that the lives and attitudes of these two actors are eerily similar to those of the wizards they portrayed.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Why oh why did I search for an image of Dick Van Dyke and dolphins?

It sure wasn't to find this image!
But this image, it was found.

What's my favorite Garfield comic strip?

Unfortunately, you'll have to clink this link to find out, but I promise promise promise you that it's a good one.

This strip is mainly linked in my mind with the 2001 D12 hit "Blue and Yellow Purple Pills", I think mostly because the dog in the strip strongly resembles Bizarre, but blue, and in dog form.

I was never sure about this link, but chronologically, it makes sense, as it was published in July of 2001, when the D12 album was quite popular. Thematically, it makes sense because, well, look at the title panel. So what I'm saying is that Jim Davis was at least aware of the drugged-up antics of D12 in 2001.

I'd also like to say that, even though I can't steal images from their site, the Garfield Comic Strip Archive is really amazing at finding what you want... particularly if what you happen to want is a very specific and weird strip from the early 2Ks.

After further investigation, it appears that Bizarre actually wears almost the same hat during his verse. Just go to 3:15. Also, when he finishes the verse by yelling, sorta Hulk-style, "Bizarre here all night!" it's the exact voice that I hear from old "Tree Dog" in the Garfield strip. The proof, as they say, is in the pudding.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

There's an ancient temple that I don't have at least cursory knowledge of?

Well, there was.

Behold... Göbekli Tepe.

It's a hill in Turkey with four large stone circle areas and nearby refuse piles filled with game animal bones, kind of like Chaco, but it's 12,000 years old (instead of like 1,600). Just to clear things up, that's before the end of the last ice age.

So when I think of this particular temple I think of the terrible(ish) movie, B.C,. or even maybe Conan movies and think, "Yeah, that might be slightly accurate in some ways."

Even more, I think of my friend Ian, who was prone to saying some crazy things as we drank cupfulls of booze and gingerale and smoked rolling tobacco behind Handlebar; but one of the less crazy things (or at least one of my favorite things) he would bring up was the idea that humans as a species are really smart, and it's quite possible that interesting civilizations and technologies and arts have happened that we haven't found traces of. He would also point out that Ancient Astronauts are not a necessary part of the equation. I whole-heartedly agree with that position, although... I did find out about this archeological wonder from the History Channel show "Ancient Aliens".

Check out the happy, mmm, I'm gonna say albatross (?) and the pretty good scorpion!

That's a pretty cool wild boar too. Also... an admirable attempt at Kurdish dress by a German archeologist.

If you can stand a little tap dancing around speculation, it might be worth reading this Fortean Times article about the whole thing. If you can't, then I'll just say that this temple seems to be near a possible origin of the cultivation of wheat, and it was purposely covered with dirt for some reason or another, which leads some people to believe it is a sort of Garden of Eden which was ruined by deforestation and crop production and then entombed as a forgotten relic of a marshy, foresty, game-stocked Edenic time.

Here's some wild speculation of my own: they built a temple because they discovered how to make beer out of grain, yet they wanted to celebrate the hunt. People came from all around to try beer and it became a vacation/spiritual destination, which meant more need for beer, which meant more grain, which meant more deforestation, which meant destruction of hunting habitat and a hangover without deer guts for proto-menudo and possibly a tea-totaling backlash. It's exactly the same as the other speculation, but with more alcohol.

Anyway, that's my wild speculation, and it completely ignores hallucinogens and aliens, so maybe it isn't even that wild... (Those "eh"s are to be read as verbal elbows to ribs complete with eyebrows being raised, btws.)

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Who knew Australians could be amusing?

Not me. But there is indeed a funny pair (well okay, one of them's a Kiwi) who did satirical interviews, the classic example being this one about an oil spill.

There are other ones as well, and they are all pretty funny.
Well done Clarke and Dawes.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Salt lick, or watering station, or both?

I mean, there's clearly a water tank there, but the amount of trails coming in there, and it's placement at the bottom of drainage from some hills makes me think it's also a salt lick. Look at all the trails leading into it. I suppose cows could do that in just a few years, but I like to imagine that it's one of those special places that people and animals have been traveling to for thousands of years: a salt lick. I guess I could go find out. It's right by Santa Fe.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Yo Apples and Carrots, why do you always make me hungrier?

She obviously hasn't found it, as she is dusting an apple.

Asking Google pointed to a lot of diet forums where this is a problem. I mean I know the key to not feeling crazy when eating apples and carrots is to eat some protein with it (most of the time it's peanut butter), but come on, why are carrots and apples so effective at stimulating the appetite? The best non-expert opinion I could find on any of these threads is that apples and carrots both have decent amounts of fructose and/or sucrose, which will spike your blood sugar and make you crash if you only eat that. Still, it's different from eating a bunch of candy, which makes my stomach turn sour and definitely doesn't make me extra hungry, and, it's really immediate. I'm just gonna write the question on a paper airplane and throw it at Los Alamos now.

Next up: "Why you gotta be makin' my stomach feel all weird popcorn?" and "Is the Italian Beef the most satisfying sandwich?".

Are there really birds that have no feet and never land (and why would people think that this is a possible thing)?


Last night someone told me that they were told that in the Bahamas there is a bird with no feet that never lands. I told him that is ridiculous, as any bird that wants to reproduce is forced to land and sit on a nest. Of course I was right, and I think I've found the source of this strange belief.
As you can see, it does have feet.

And it is called the Chimney Swift.

According to this birding column in the Cape Cod newspaper, a young swift will drop out of the nest, take flight, and not land again for three years, when it's ready to nest. Other sites, such as Lords Chimney (cool name, huh) disagree and claim that the birds roost all the time, which makes a lot more sense to me. The thing they can't do is perch, so they spend all their roosting time clinging to the vertical sides of chimneys and hollow trees. This awesome website points out that the Swift's family name, Apodidae, is Latin for footless (I double checked. Also, if you want some fun, right click, or whatever you do to steal images for a mac, on the photo of April "Nature" Lorier.).

So we have birds that old blind taxonimists told us have no feet, and are always flying when they aren't holed up in a chimney or hollow tree. These seem to fit the criteria.
Myth Busted.

Upon checking the Princeton Encyclopedia of Birds, they also claim that it is entirely possible that swifts could go for years without landing. People see them at night, sky cruising. Airplanes see them way up high. So, I guess they really do only need to land to make the babies. Anthropomorphically speaking, they probably keep roosting after that, you know, settlin' down and all.

Friday, November 12, 2010

You know who's got a classic mariner's tale?

Dick Van Dyke.

He was on the Craig Ferguson show recently, where he related a classic tale of cetacean neighborliness (or maybe it's just that they want you out of their turf, but are too nice about it to just kill you). Well anyway, he said that one time, back in the old days of longboarding on Virginia Beach, he fell asleep on his board and woke up out of sight of land. He started paddling with the swells and was surprised to be surrounded by fins. For a moment he thought he was about to be eaten by sharks (he probably always thought it would be the ottoman that got him in the end), but lo, it was porpoises, ushers of the sea! He claims that they pushed him all the way in to land. Excellent.
Here's the full interview. Go to 8:20 for the porpoise story. Bonus: Craig Ferguson appears to comment extensively on his own YouTube clips, which I was unaware of.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Would you throw rocks at an adorable bear cub?

Even if he just wanted your delicious human food and dog and cat food? Oh man.
The guy in the video is very cool about everything. He seems to be aware of what the bear wants, what cuteness is, and the limits of cuteness, yet he chases the kid off pretty well.
Should he have thrown something to really seal the deal? Like the opposite of food, whatever that is?
Also, NJ seems to have maybe the biggest black bear to human ratio of any state. I'm about to go check that, if it's checkable, but for now, I'm laying it down.
NJ=tons of bears.In fact, this is the weird distribution map from a south Jersey newspaper. It tells us almost nothing, except for that bear range seems to be expanding. Double link that tells us nothing.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Who's a better Shining Time Station conductor?


Why didn't anyone tell me?

Marc Bolan had a tv show.

Wanna know how I found out? Well, it's a funny story. I was watching Win, Lose, or Draw on YouTube, so I googled (the host) Burt Convy. This led me to a great site called Find A Death. For some reason I looked up Marc Bolan, I guess because I had no idea why he isn't alive. And now I've seen him fall off a very small stage that also contained David Bowie. Oh, and you should also watch Marc introduce Generation X.

Monday, October 18, 2010

If all the trees fall in the woods and no one goes to hear it, does that stop a girl from getting kidnapped and sold into sex slavery?

Sorry to be a bit trite in the question, but according to a Guardian article, Italian officials are planning on cutting down all of the riparian corridor seen in the image above in order to stop prostitution. A recent (unspecified) NGO found 600 prostitutes along a ten mile stretch of this river road, most of whom were Nigerians, but many of whom were from such places as Brasil, Romania, Albania, and China.

Italy just outlawed street prostitution in 2008. I can't find any mention of whether the forest is where they've always gone, or if it is a new venue in response to fines and jail time for buying and selling sex, but regional public works chief Angelo DiPaolo is suggesting that something has to be done, and his idea is to get rid of the trees. In response, the WWF and two other unspecified environmental groups released a statement which the Guardian reported claimed that the only crime the trees committed was to "offer with their fronds shelter and intimacy to sex slaves." I'm not sure why trees are offering intimacy, but the WWF does have a point. Those trees didn't do anything wrong.

I don't really see why police can't remove or stop a small army of prostitutes from existing somewhere unless there is a partnership between local politicians and crime bosses with ties to international sex-trade. I mean, do they have a bunch of Merry Men or John Rambos guarding the forest? Cutting down the trees seems like a very visible option for a media-hungry politician, and indeed, DiPaolo is known for having once shot at and ran down a bank robber.

The fact is, the river is in an agricultural area. The trees in the small bottomland around the river catch fertilizer and silt runoff from fields. If they cut down these measly but important 69 acres of woodland, it will likely damage the beach-going experience that brings people to the nearby Adriatic resort town of Martinsicuro.

The idea is a failure. If it's a crooked pot-shot at the sex-trade meant to get political favor without angering the crime bosses, it will probably fail by driving away tourists (sex or otherwise) when the beach gets covered in algal blooms and muddy water. If it's a legitimate but short-sighted attempt at stopping sex-trade, then it comes at the possible cost of all tourism to the nearby area, not to mention the loss of a riparian corridor from the mountains to the sea.

Friday, September 24, 2010

How many YouTube videos are there of house cats standing up to black bears?

5. The answer is 5.

Then there's the original, straight off AFV.

Just for good measure...

Sunday, September 19, 2010

What's the best way for 12-year-old boys to spend time at sleepovers?

Well... for me it was prank calls, followed by video games or movies. It was effective. With prank calls you can show off by being funny or gross or good at swearing or something. With video games you can show off skills. Movies often have boobs. I have found something that can combine all three of these things. I'm sharing it because it's amusing, sheds light on what the kids today can do, and is one of those internet things that one is unlikely to stumble across unless you're a video game nerd (not being much of a video game nerd, I found it by searching YouTube for videos of international Homer Simpson voices).

Behold: M.U.G.E.N.

You see, it's a fighting game where you can create or download hundreds of characters and backgrounds. It allows kids to settle (in a way) the old bus stop questions of who would win in a fight. Peter Griffin vs. Homer Simpson seems to be a very popular question. I was always a proponent of Steven Seagal vs. anyone. Well, turns out, he would win in a fight versus Godzilla. So, that's settled.

I have no idea how long this has been going on, or what kind of kids (or adults) are making these characters and backgrounds and posting them to YouTube, but if I were a tween right now, I would be all over making hilarious battles. Since I'm an adult, I'll just do the three step internet processing system: snigger, share, and move on.

Also... if boobs are necessary, there are hentai characters available. Just sayin'.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Anticly comic, or comically antic?

Comically antic. Newly discovered old photos of a young Ivory Billed Woodpecker having fun with a guy from Cornell. I don't think you can find a happier looking bird, but feel free to try, it probably won't end badly for you.

What exactly does Doc Holliday (the Tombstone version) mean by "I'm your huckleberry"?

YouTube comments aren't usually the most stirring of threads, but the comments for the famous Doc vs. Johnny Ringo shootout scene has some interesting opinions about what Doc's getting at when he says he's Johnny's "huckleberry." Now you might assume that these mostly revolve around gay panic jokes, or at least old Hannah Barbera references, but they actually boil down into two differing schools of thought: 1) He says "hucklebearer". Huckles are the handles on caskets, and Doc used to provoke men by offering to carry their corpses to the grave. 2) He says "huckleberry", and huckleberries are something you look for.

I'm pretty sure it's "huckleberry", and though I'm not sure about the veracity of any of the YouTube comments, my favorite one comes from Childrenofpwnom:

"A huckleberry is a delicious berry, that men spent much of their time looking for. Or that is how the story goes. When he says "I'm your huckleberry." what he means is "i'm what your looking for.""

My favorite part is that he characterizes hard core Western gamblers, cowboys, outlaws, and lawmen (even the kind that ride around romantically with actresses) as spending a lot their of looking for berries, and well, I think that's just Smurfy.

Friday, July 2, 2010

What's that Slate? Toxoplasmosis is the most interesting, and you'll run an article that bacisally says nothing, just to prove it?

Seriously, this article is as bad as an episode of Monster Quest (which sucks in a very boring way). It's just shit I linked to months ago combined with World Cup.
That said, it does increase the general knowledge about my favorite parasite, so... I guess I'm glad it got put out there, sort of.

These guys certainly aren't gonna own up to a behavior-changing parasitic disease that they unknowingly spread and reap the benefits of. They pretty much got it made, and they know it. But they are just cats, and don't have much of a clue about parasitology. I keep my clean laundry free of parasites, but full of cat fur, you see... that's normal behavior and totally not the behavior of someone who's had his mind hacked by cat parasites, right?

Thursday, July 1, 2010

What was the best era of Tom and Jerry?

A lot of people would say it was the Chuck Jones era, but I've always been partial to the early '60s cartoons with the weird sound effects. I just found out they were directed by Gene Deitch, who also directed a bunch of Krazy Kat episodes (which I'm not yet familiar with).
Anyway, to tie everything together, here's a pretty good episode about a whale called Dicky Moe. Notice how the captain's peg leg sounds like a sonar blip. Krazy.

Other episodes from the Gene Deitch era put the duo in space, in a swinging bachelor pad, going fishing for muskie, going tiger hunting from the back of an elephant, or in the carribean, all with a vibe-heavy score and weird percussion instead of the work of foley artists for sound effects. It makes sense that Deitch was also the art director for a jazz magazine.

What's the best way for a paleontologist to excite the internet?

Why, in order for a paleontologist to win the internets, all he or she needs to do is come up with a new and interesting paleo-fight. If it includes a badass new species, that's just gravy, man.
This monster whale is named Leviathan melvillae, you know, after that sweet Mastodon album and that monster whale writer guy. Notice how the illustrator expertly drew old Leviathan as a cross between a sperm whale and an orca and composed the piece to echo the Jaws poster. It's a great illustration, but Dr. Christian de Muizon, speaking to the BBC, hints at what might make a BETTER illustration :

"And it's interesting to note that at the same time in the same waters was another monster, which was a giant shark about 15m long. It's possible that they might have fought each other".

Not to put words in the guy's mouth, but he's clearly referring to Carcharodon megalodon, the giant great white of the ancient seas. It's definitely a demonstration of the ___ vs. ___ formula of internet animal interaction. It's also a manifestation of our mammals vs. cold-blooded suckers bias. Finally, it is based on behavior that we see today in orcas:

(Interesting fact I just learned about megalodon from wikipedia: in Renaissance times the fossilized teeth of sharks were thought to be the tips of dragon or serpent tongues, were known as "tongue stones," and were used as a remedy for or amulet of immunity to poisons.)

Anyway, here's a little Nature video about it. Please notice the youtube comments. After you get through the firstie and firstie hate, the fifth comment mentions megalodon. It's on the tip of the internet tongue I tell ya!

Friday, June 25, 2010

How did this even happen?

This Western Tanager died mysteriously. Then it hung from this wire for over two weeks. The wire is on the west side of Agua Fria, right by La Joya. I drive by it every day. For about a week I thought it might be a Butterfinger wrapper or something. It's just so improbable.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

What's blowing my mind grapes this morning?

Before I answer, I would like to take a moment to console Celtics fans. I always have liked Ray Allen. Kevin Garnett is from Chicago and has a certain type of charming insanity. Paul Pierce is like Rocky, but with getting fouled instead of getting punched. Rondo, well he's just great.

But what's mind blowing about the Celtics core players? Well, 3 of those players share names with galagos.

The Rondo dwarf galago (coincidentally, the smallest of all galago species)

Allen's galago

The only organisms I can find named Pierce's ___ are Pierce's Disease, which is a bacterial disease that affects grape vines, and Pierce's Pride Tomato, which is an heirloom varietal.

Special thanks to the Princeton Encyclopedia of Mammals, page 306, and coffee, for fostering the need for reading material.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Where's the range?

You don't need it. The range gets in the way of worship for the REAL (sexy) hero: the range hood!
If you were to guess where this product and advertising was made, Italy would be pretty high up on the list right?


Well, at least we've come a long way.
No more crazy abusive ads like these (stolen off of an old boingboing post of course):Yup. We've come a long way. From portraying the ideal consumer as conqueror to portraying the ideal consumer as a smug Iago, like the guy in the Twix commercials:

At least now ladies get to be smug about shit too...
So, um, YAY for women and pooping and not beating them and BOO for suggestive hood vent ads and smug fuckfaces. But also YAY for residential hood vents, because they rule.

Who invented the residential hood vent?
A) Marconi
B) Edison
C) Vent-A-Hood
D) Tesla

What do you get when you combine clown college and jazz band camp?

To be fair, I've never been to either of those fine types of institutions, but I imagine it would look exactly like this:

If you think you can't get enough of Steve "The Mad Drummer" Moore, check out youtube or their tour schedule (in case you're wondering, "Is that a link to these guys' MySpace page", the answer is yes). That oughta' do ya'.

Who's got the skills to pay the bills?

This drummer here. Fast forward to 45 seconds to see precision, fury, and gold lamé.

He starts out with standard twirling, but ups the ante with what appears to be the Antony DeLongis rolling whip style.

(Fast forward to 2:10 to see double whip action in his dojo. Don't worry, it's not NSFW.)

Then at 2:25 he starts doing this animatronic thing he learned from The Rockafire Explosion.

And then at the very end it looks like he's going to get up and threaten a kid that spilled his beer halfway through the song. Pretty sweet.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

What's the best team up between man and whales?

Dig this illustration of a glowing orca that someone made for the official website to my favorite whale story ever! {Take that Wreck of the Essex and Mocha-Dick (snicker... the historical whale Moby-Dick was based on, for real).} The full story can be explored on that website, or on Wikipedia, but here's the gist:

For over a hundred years (between 1830 and 1930), every autumn a particular pod of orcas would return to the town sea near the town of Eden on Twofold Bay on the southern tip of Australia, and invited the Davidson family to come hunt baleen whales with them. The orcas would swim into the mouth of the kiah river and breach and hit the water with their tails to get the Davidsons, who then followed them out to sea. On moonless or cloudy nights, the whalers would follow the bio luminescent trail the killers made (so you see, that illustration makes sense now, and is even more awesome). It seems that sometimes one of the killers might even have helped tow the row-boats out. Once they were out there, the whalers would go about whaling the traditional row boat and hand held harpoon way, while the orcas would go about trying to kill the whale the traditional orca way, by biting fins and trying to drown the whale. Once the baleen whale was dead, the whalers would put an anchor and buoy on the dead whale and leave it over night or for a couple of days. The killers would eat the tongue and lips and the whalers would haul in and process the rest. This was called The Law of the Tongue, which is one of the better names for a rule.That's Old Tom, the most famous of the killers. When a human "vagrant" (hobo?) killed one of the killers with a large knife, the pod left and only half returned. Old Tom was one of them. He stuck around until the end. He was the friendliest to people, and was the one best known for towing boats around for fun. There's even a story that says that towards the end, somebody tried to drag in a whale without following The Law of the Tongue, and Old Tom grabbed the rope and tried to stop the motor driven boat, possibly causing extra damage to a tooth and leading to a fatal tooth infection (that information is from the Nature documentary on the subject). One of the old timers in the Nature documentary also claimed that as Old Tom was ailing, he came into shore and the Davidsons fed him fish until he died in the shallows of the river mouth.
I remember the Nature documentary saying that there's evidence to suggest that native people had done this sort of thing before with the whales, though that's not included in what you can get on youtube.

I do find this story a little mind blowing, but as the Killers of Eden website points out: "Some people find it difficult to believe that over a 100+ year period of inter-species contact, encompassing many generations and with the mutual rewards of greater efficiency and food , orcas and humans could develop a co-operative relationship whilst hunting the same prey. Yet those same people have no trouble accepting that with no prior contact with humans, wild orcas placed in aquariums within months will interact with humans, eventually allowing them to ride on their backs or perform huge leaps with humans standing on their snouts."
I guess the mind-blowing part is that the whales would choose to reach out and interact with us. We're used to animals working with us on a food based or dominance based level. I think we think that Sea World whales do the tricks because they have nothing else to do, which is really sort of sad. The whales know they can kill a trainer if they want, they just usually choose not to.

The new book "Deadly Kingdom," by Gordon Grice, explores our relationship with deadly large mammals pretty well for the first half of the book and then peters off into listing the effects of snake venoms and how rabbits enjoy biting. But the first half is good and describes how dogs choose to see us a leaders of packs, and maybe push the boundaries of that by biting a kid or two. It also illuminates the difference between making a lion do tricks and a tiger do tricks. He leads towards an understanding of human animal interactions, including those that put us in the role of prey, that can be more complex than who sees who as food.

So really, that's what I think is important about The Killers of Eden: animals legitimately inviting us to share their world with them, in this case, in a very technical and complex way. Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go see if my cat will jump in a box for the internet.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

What's the most extreme type of hunting I can think of?

Let's just put aside THE MOST DANGEROUS GAME (man), and think of other dangerous ways to hunt dangerous animals.

Is it honey hunting in southern India?

Or in Nepal?

Or honey hunting in Bangledesh, where they get eaten by tigers?

So yeah, hunting wild honey looks pretty dangerous everywhere, because it involves climbing, smoke, and thousands of bees. Even this video of getting honey in Zambia, which makes it look pretty easy, still looks dangerous.

But no, the answer is not honey hunting.
The answer is hunting sperm whales with bamboo spears and small knives.

I first saw something about this when I was reading Moby Dick. Though the Daily Mail article I linked to calls the men who hunt Sperm Whales in the Savu Sea between Flores and Timor "stone age", it seems that the differences are minor (different spears and ropes, and they don't have a schooner following them for backup and pickup).
So um, do try to show me a more extreme (non- MOST DANGEROUS GAME) hunting scenario. There probably is one. I may have just thought of one... one that is very similar, but has an extra mind blowing twist to it: The Whales of Eden. It's my personal favorite whale story, and I will share it... TOMORROW.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Wait. In the future, people might remember the movie Species for something other than Natasha Henstridge('s boobs)?

Ah the Chupacabra. More specifically, the Puerto Rican Chupacabra. Not the the mange ridden dog of south Texas.

Cryptomundo is showcasing a theory that links the Chupacabra to the movie Species. It basically says that this girl saw Species in 1995 in Puerto Rico and described a monster that looked like the one in Species, and begat the classic Chupacabra image (above above). The movie also began at the Arecibo observatory, which she noted in an interview. I like the theory, but agree with Mr. Coleman (Mr. Cryptomundo if you will) that it could be a little less confident in it's definitiveness.

Anyway, the Chupacabra has been a cryptozoological mystery because it's so new and there are two descriptions of it: it's a lizard alien, or it's a dog with fangs. The fact remains that some people report that their livestock has been bit on the neck and drained of blood. Is it a tactic of a known animal? Is it the work of crazy people? Who knows, but I love blaming pop-culture.

Here's a link to my favorite video from the last year or two. If there's a pop-culture to blame, it's viral cell-phone videos.

The sidling Argentinian gnome that makes the boys scream girlishly:

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Who's extremely gullible?

But I wore the juice...

I know no one reads the comments on here, but a mysterious Ryan pointed me to the source of the Sheep Throne. It's pretty good.

Friday, May 14, 2010

What free stuff am I trying to get on Craigslist right now?

This is the first time I've ever posted anything personal on here, but I feel that it's in the vein of what's appropriate for this site. Thanks to a sweet facebook heads up from Nina, I am trying to get this chair for free. Why don't I just go pick it up? Well, the owner of this fine piece of furniture is making everyone who wants it write a little bit about how the "sheep throne" would improve their lives. I will share what I wrote about it because it is basically what I would have written about it on this blog.

While I enjoy just looking at this object on the internet, I do have a perfect place for it in my house. I need a reading chair in my bedroom, and this looks like an excellent chair to read in.

I wish I could say that this chair would help me get women or something like that. I am enfianced.

I wish I could say that it reflects my long years of work as a shepherd. Although I do sometimes volunteer at a farm that has a few sheep, I mostly deal with the goats, chickens and vegetables.

I wish I could say that I have always dreamed of this chair. I have never even thought of this chair as a possibility before.

What I can say is that if I had that chair, I would read in it every night, probably with a small glass of bourbon on the nightstand next to it. People would hear of my excellent chair, and some would be afforded a view of it. A few others would be allowed to sit in it; however, it is in truth, a throne, and it would mostly be used by myself and my fiancé to sit and read novels, non-fiction books about the obscurities of common objects or materials, poetry, and comic books. Throughout Santa Fe, people will be paraphrasing Vigo the Carpathian: On a lot full of barbecues, in a house of adobe, he sat on a throne of sheep.

What will all the New York actors do?!!

I don't know!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Why is the Dunning-Kruger effect so funny?

One short answer is that the Dunning-Kruger Effect is funny because of cognitive dissonance (because it is a classic irony, you see). A shorter and more obtuse answer is that it's because the word "juice" is funny. The long answer is that this theory from 1999, which I just learned about, is most often explained using this anecdote:

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, 1995. A local man, McArthur Wheeler, walks into two banks in the middle of the day and robs them both at gunpoint. Making away with the cash, he is arrested later that evening. Back at the station police sit him down and show him footage from the banks' security cameras. Wheeler can't believe it, the cameras had somehow seen through his disguise. He was seen mumbling to himself, 'But I wore the juice.' His was no ordinary disguise; no balaclava, mask or elaborate makeup, just lemon juice, liberally applied to the face. He was certain that the squirt of citrus would render him invisible to security cameras.


You see, the word juice is funny! Examples include, "You like-a the juice?" "Juice is good yes?"
"You've got the juice now." (It's funny because Omar Epps doesn't want the juice.) Or even just the phrases "Give it some more juice" or "He's juicin'". They're all at least sort of funny because, much like the word "pants", "juice" is a funny word.

Omar Epps has no need for the juice.

Monday, May 10, 2010

What's going on with the Pizzly Bear these days?

Yeah the pizzly bear is sweet. The rich hunting dude that shot the proving example in 2006 got fined about $1,000 because they said he had a permit for a polar bear, and it wasn't a polar bear. The guy was really pissed off, saying the only bear he thought it could have been was a polar bear. Canada might have a point though, in that it wasn't a polar bear and he shot an evolving species, even if it did prove it's existence. Now a guy in Ulukhaktok, N.W.T, shot a second generation Pizzly, who they say was half Pizzly half Grizzly. This has Canadians rallying for protection for Pizzlies. I think you should protect the rare large fauna of your home.
I'm sure a lot of Hoopa Indians wouldn't be happy if someone shot a Sasquatch.
"Muthafuckah shot Oh Mah? Someone needs to get got."
(I hate watching The Wire, but it really works it's way in there doesn't it?)

I can just see a future Disney movie about a young Pizzly cub looking for his soulmate/female Pizzly bear. Original songs by NeYo! (It's the future.)

Thursday, May 6, 2010

How do I get insect DNA incorporated into my offspring when I can't have sex with insects?

Yep, a recent article in Popular Science suggests that DNA transfer happens between insects and mammals. So that kissing bug above may be affecting the genetic makeup of South America. It really makes me think about how when we're defining a person, there are a lot of microorganisms involved that may be actually a part of the person as we understand it. Freaky stuff, and stuff that can lead to very hippyish thoughts about how we're all in it together and connected and shit. I still want a Delorean Monster Truck though.

What is the equivalent of adding helicopter style double kick drums to Highway Star?

I wish that I could make this photo much larger. Remember the wallpaper that was the view of the Earth from the Moon? Can I get the same thing, but instead of an astronaut and the American flag, just put this on the moon? Can that image be the new American flag? Do I realize that the phrase American flag irritates Canadians? Yes. American flag. That's just what this image does to me.

Update: If you're in the Chicagoland Area, you can go visit Delorean Monster Truck. It's at the Volo Auto Museum in Volo, which is by Chain o' Lakes.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

What's that kitten disease that killed the AIDS guy in Trainspotting?

Why it's Toxoplasma Gondi! According to this website, 1/4 of people are infected with it. What exactly is it? Well, it's just a little parasitic protozoa that sets up shop in your brain. It mostly doesn't affect people, but if a woman gets the parasite during while pregnant, it can cross over the placenta and infect the baby, which is bad. People suffering from AIDS can also die of it, just like that guy in Trainspotting.

While it is interesting that so many people have a secret disease, that's not the real interesting thing about Toxoplasmosis (T. gondii infection). The really interesting thing is that Toxoplasma gondii is able to affect the behavior of rats. If you don't want to clink the link, here's the best part of the experiment abstract that I linked to,"Here we report that, although rats have evolved anti-predator avoidance of areas with signs of cat presence, T. gondii's manipulation appears to alter the rat's perception of cat predation risk, in some cases turning their innate aversion into an imprudent attraction." The assumption is that T. gondii does this in order to make the rat get eaten so that it can live in a cat.

So if it affects the behavior of rats, does it do anything similar to humans? Is this some sort of deep physiological cause for cat-ladyness? Possibly. Toxoplasmosis has statistically been linked to schizophrenia. I've sort of been following this for a few years, and new reports indicate that T. gondii produces a chemical that is a step in making dopamine, which is a key ingredient in brain functioning and linked to schizophrenia (drugs to treat schizophrenia always target dopamine). There is also evidence that toxoplasmosis affects the attitudes of the people it infects, making men more jealous and irritable, and making women more outgoing. This has even led one guy to posit that rates of toxoplasmosis could affect the culture of an entire nation or region.

It's all interesting stuff, and there's a LOT more on the web about it. I mean, it is a parasite that lives in your brain and may subtly affect your behavior, which is pretty sci-fi and internetty, and it involves cats, which is also a favorite subject of the internet.

Anyway, just thought I'd share this. One of these assholes peed on my jeans, and it got me to thinking about the dangers of cats, and toxoplasmosis is tops on that list for me.

Friday, April 23, 2010

What's the world's biggest hedge?

Some say it's this Beech hedge in Perthshire, England. That would make sense, right? Jolly old England; tea, lorry, loo... hedge.

Turns out that a far grander hedge existed back in mid-to-late nineteenth century Colonial India: a 12-foot-thick barrier of acacia, prickly pear and bamboo that at it's longest stretched over 2,000 miles from the Himalayas to the sea and was patrolled by 12,000 people in order to extract customs taxes on salt and drugs. And pretty much no one knew this ever happened until this fellow named Rory Moxham found a small reference to it in a forgotten manuscript, went to India to try and find it, and published a book about it in 2002. Now at least a few thousand people have heard of it.

I first read about The Great Hedge, or The Customs Line, in the book Salt, by Mark Kurlansky (the guy who wrote the book Cod). So I went to the internet and there are literally no pictures of it and pretty much no information about it that isn't a review or summary of the book. Wikipedia has the most info you'll find.

So, two opressive regimes (The East India Company, and after the 1857 uprising, the British government) built a 2,000 foot long tree barrier in less than 50 years, and no one knows or cares. Imagine if the U.S. built a cholla, prickly pear, and mesquite fence across our entire Mexican border. Although it's not out of the question for Arizona to do that, I feel like it would get noted for its assholery and weirdness.

It seems like anyone who went to Calcutta during those 50-some-odd years would have at least heard about this monumental wall of shrubbery. I know I haven't read much that would possibly make mention of the Great Hedge (The Moonstone, Lord Jim?), but all signs point to no one writing about it. I guess my biggest question is: did contemporary authors know about this and choose not to use it for the sake of not making the British Empire look bad, or was it just not widely known?