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Friday, December 7, 2012

Excellent Christmas video: Deck the Halls with Macro Follies

via The Corner.

How to make a baby

via Bits and Pieces.

Florida tackling python problem with hunting contest

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission has announced the 2013 Python Challenge beginning in January.

A grand prize of $1,500 will be awarded to the person who kills the most pythons, and $1,000 will go to the person who bags the longest one. According to the rules, road kill will not be eligible.

So you’ve decided to run away and join the French Foreign Legion? Here’s how.

It's Earth's version of taking the Black and heading for the Wall, the way Jon Snow does in Game of Thrones. Joining the French Foreign Legion granted men a safe haven for many for decades. But what does it actually take to join the French Foreign Legion?

Code of the Gentleman

Interesting article/book review at Claremont, on the subject of Churchill's self-directed study of ethics in general and Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics in particular.  Via Powerline.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Beer is good for you: study finds anti-virus powers

Consuming large quantities of a key ingredient in beer can protect against winter sniffles and even some serious illnesses in small children

Heh: Burglar Calls 911 After Homeowner Pulls Gun on Him

A suspected burglar called 911 after the owner of the home he broke into caught and held him at gunpoint.

Holy Crap graphic: Statistical look back at all of the Walking Dead zombie kills

Go here to see it - impossible to shrink it down enough for Blogger.  via io9.

The Coming Derivatives Panic That Will Destroy Global Financial Markets

Long article well worth a read, especially if you don't understand derivatives well.

via @BradThor

Kevin Williamson: Beyond Tax Cuts

If Republicans can’t take a look at our economy, our society, and the situation of our young people at this critical moment in our history, then they are not paying attention and do not deserve to lead. If tax cuts are the best they’ve got, they’re done.

Jim DeMint resigning from the Senate to run the Heritage Foundation

Mr. DeMint will leave his post as South Carolina's junior senator in early January to take control of the Washington think tank.

Sen. DeMint's departure means that South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, a Republican, will name a successor, who will have to run in a special election in 2014. In that year, both Mr. DeMint's replacement and Sen. Lindsey Graham will be running for reelection in South Carolina.

Edison made 1st sound recording 125 years ago today

I have music here in a box shut up, like one of those bottled djinns in the Arabian Nights, and ready at a touch to break out of its prison.
- Aldous Huxley (1894-1963) (of the gramophone, Music at Night, 1931)

I am... terrified at the thought that so much hideous and bad music will be put on records forever.
- Sir Arthur Sullivan (1842-1900) (recorded on a "phonogram" for Thomas Edison in 1888)

Should we not fear this domestication of sound, this magic that anyone can bring from a disc at will? Will it not bring to waste the mysterious force of an art which one might have thought indestructible?
- Claude Debussy (1862-1918) (La Revue S.I.M., 1913)

Today is the 135th anniversary of the day in 1877 when American inventor Thomas A. Edison (1847-1931) made his first sound recording by reciting "Mary Had a Little Lamb" into a phonograph of his own design. Edison's first hand-cranked recording apparatus used a vibration-driven stylus to impress up-and-down sound undulations on a wax-coated cylinder. The round, flat gramophone record* was soon to follow - in 78, 45, and 33-1/3 versions - and then tape, CDs, DVDs, and other forms of digital media. Despite the downsides voiced above - and that of discouraging much live music-making at home - sound recording has certainly made more different kinds of music - and the spoken word - more easily available to more people worldwide than was ever dreamed of in the mid-19th century, and that's been a tremendous boon to our common humanity.

* N.B. The gramophone "platter," devised by the German-born American
inventor Emile Berliner (1851-1929) used lateral (side-to side) vibrations to reproduce the sound signal.

Edison and his first phonograph:

... and here's what it sounded like in a later commercial realization ca.1905.

Classified ad du jour

via @JonahNRO.

Thursday links

Why the Monopoly Player Pieces (Thimble, Top Hat, Etc.) are What They Are

The History of Peanut Butter.

The Unsolved Mystery of Why You Just Yawned

Science of what really caused the Oracle at Delphi to utter mad prophesies.

Hell hath no fury: Scorned ex-girlfriend ran over his mother with her car.

CIA: Only LGBT Need Apply

New depths of affirmative action.

When victim groups collide: lesbian is suing Muslim barber for refusing service

Beyond parody.  These people are going to put The Onion out of business.

Obama met with several MSNBC hosts at the White House to discuss tax rates.

Maddow, Sharpton and Lawrence O'Donnell all walk into the West Wing. Is this a joke?

Science of what really caused the Oracle at Delphi to utter mad prophesies

Even during the Oracle at Delphi's time, it was widely known that the Oracle's visions had a practical cause. Gas seeped out of the cracks in the cave where she sat, causing her to talk nonsense. This nonsense would then be interpreted by priests around her. Some of the predictions were surprisingly accurate - according to legend. Croesus, the richest man of his time, performed a kind of scientific test on oracles, when he had messengers go out to all of them and ask what he would be doing on a certain date. Delphi got the only correct answer - cooking a tortoise in a pot. (Bold choice. I wouldn't think of the richest guy in the world doing his own cooking.)

Modern archaeologists inspected the geology of the area for volcanic activity that might vent gas, and found two fault lines converging just under the temple of Delphi. Perhaps the mystic "vapors" that the Oracle breathed in had seeped through these. In interdisciplinary team found that dissolving limestone along those lines gave off gas, and spiked the local water.

The main components found in the water were ethane, methane, and ethylene.

The physics of Guinness

via Geeks are sexy.

Elevator Math

At their core, elevators are a mode of transportation. Serving passengers well is constrained by the number of elevators, their speed, how fast their doors open and close, and how many people can fit in a car. In the U.S., these factors come together 18 billion times a year, each time a passenger rides an elevator.

These are mathematical problems with no one optimum solution.

via GeekPress.

DoD Spends $100K Studying Whether Jesus Died for Klingons

Pondering the theological conflict to Christianity if intelligent life was found on other planets.

This was in conjunction with the 100 Year Starship project, the goal of which is to "foster a rebirth of a sense of wonder" to "make interstellar space travel practicable and feasible." So far, the 100 Year Project has consumed more than $1 million.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Glenn Reynolds: GOP should force Obama's hand

I agree that adopting Simpson-Bowles is a good idea.

Happy 20th Birthday to Text Messaging

It was 20 years ago today that the first text message was sent. It was Dec. 3, 1992, and Neil Papworth, an engineer working in the UK, sent the world's first short message service or SMS. It read "Merry Christmas."

Color photo of George Zimmerman's broken nose finally released

Nearly nine months after the fact, the public finally gets to see the much sought after color photo of George Zimmerman the night of the shooting. The color photo was released this afternoon, Monday December 3rd, by Zimmerman's attorney.

The picture was taken by Sanford police immediately after Zimmerman was forced to use his firearm in self-defense. Previously, only a very blurry black and white version of the photo had been released.

Mustache implants?

(CNN) -- Thick, handsome mustaches have long been prized by men throughout the Middle East as symbols of masculine virility, wisdom and maturity.

But not all mustaches are created equal, and in recent years, increasing numbers of Middle Eastern men have been going under the knife to attain the perfect specimen.

He said his patients generally want thick mustaches as they felt they would make them look mature and dignified.

"The Battling Bastards of Benghazi" (a nice tribute to those left out there to die)

Received via email:

We're the Battling Bastards of Benghazi,
no fame, no glory, no paparazzi.
Just a fiery death in a blazing hell,
defending the country we loved so well.

It wasn't our job, but we answered the call,
fought to the consulate, 'n scaled th' wall.
We pulled twenty countrymen from the jaws of fate,
led them to safety, 'n stood at th' gate.

Just the two of us, 'n foe by th' score,
but we stood fast to bar th' door.
We called for reinforcement, but it was denied,
so we fought, 'n we fought, 'n we fought, 'n we died.

We gave our all for our Uncle Sam,
'n Obama didn't give a damn,
just two dead SEALS, who carried the load,
no thanks to us, we were bumps in the road.

Written by Col. William Bauer, USMC.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Homeland Security Has Spent $430 Million on Radios Its Employees Don’t Know How to Use

DHS has spent $430 million over the past nine years to provide radios tuned to a common, secure channel to 123,000 employees across the country. Problem is, no one seems to know how to use them.

Only one of 479 DHS employees surveyed by the inspector general’s office was actually able to use the common channel, according to the report. Most of those surveyed — 72 percent — didn’t even know the common channel existed. Another 25 percent knew the channel existed but weren’t able to find it; 3 percent were able to find an older common channel, but not the current one.

Kansas dad tries cutting BB from son's head with utility knife

So, unless he did a really messed up job, I don't get what the big deal is here:

WICHITA, Kan. — A 12-year-old Wichita boy is in protective custody after police say his father tried to remove a BB from his skull with a utility knife.

No charges have been filed, but The Wichita Eagle reports police want to know why the 57-year-old father waited a day before taking the boy to a hospital.

Lt. Doug Nolte, a police spokesman, says the boy accidentally shot himself in the head while playing with a BB gun Wednesday.

The father's attempt to dig the BB out with a knife was unsuccessful, and he took the boy to Via Christi Hospital about 24 hours later. Nolte says the injury was not life-threatening, and the boy was taken into protective custody after leaving the hospital.

Butt enhancement gone wrong: implant 'flips inside out'


In the 20-second clip, the unidentified woman slowly manipulates it back into place while explaining: 'This is my implant flipping backwards'.

She adds: 'I don't think an implant's supposed to do that. It shouldn't be able to flip.'

Cuban dance troupe for supersized women only

They might look too big for a tutu, but these women are not part of a weight-loss exercise program - they are professional dancers.

The dance company based in Cuba's capital of Havana is breaking down traditional stereotypes by giving talented oversized performers the opportunity to showcase their abilities.

Danza Voluminosa, which translates as Voluminous Dance, is currently putting on shows to sell-out crowds in the heart of the famous Caribbean island.

And, of course, that has to remind you of the dancing fat guys at the beginning of Beverly Hills Cop 3:

Frank J.: Republicans need to stop nominating right-wing extremists like McCain and Romney

So what lessons should Republicans learn from the 2012 election? I don’t think anyone other than me has thought to ask this question, as Republicans tend not to be very analytical. But I think the answer is pretty obvious when you look at the failure of their presidential candidate this year and the one in 2008: Republicans need to stop nominating right-wing extremists like John McCain and Mitt Romney.

If the Republican Party doesn’t want to continue being hated, it needs to finally give up on its right-wing radicalism exemplified by McCain and Romney and plan to have in 2016 a perfect candidate who will not be so offensive to Democrats.

I speak, of course, of the legendary Super Squish. The one the Republican elite speak of in hushed whispers as the prophesied one to lead the party away from extremism. This is the ultimate candidate the Republicans need for 2016.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Helicopter parenting? Dad's homemade drone follows kid to bus stop

I hate helicopter parenting, but this is pretty cool.

Paul Wallich, like any loving dad, dutifully walks his grade-schooler son to the bus stop each morning. He does find the quarter-mile hike to be a drag, occasionally. His solution? He built a camera-equipped drone that helps him fulfill his parental obligation.

Do Orchestras Really Need Conductors?

Read (and listen to) the whole thing at At NPR:

A new study aims to answer this question. Yiannis Aloimonos, of the University of Maryland, and several colleagues recruited the help of orchestral players from Ferrara, Italy.

They installed a tiny infrared light at the tip of an (unnamed) conductor's baton. They also placed similar lights on the bows of the violinists in the orchestra. The scientists then surrounded the orchestra with infrared cameras.

When the conductor waved the baton, and the violinists moved their bows, the moving lights created patterns in space, which the cameras captured. Computers analyzed the infrared patterns as signals: Using mathematical techniques originally designed by Nobel Prize-winning economist Clive Granger, Aloimonos and his colleagues analyzed whether the movements of the conductor were linked to those of the violinists.

The scientists hypothesized that if the movement of the conductor could predict the movements of the violinists, then the conductor was clearly leading the players. But if the conductor's movements could not predict the movement of the violinists, then it was really the players who were in charge.

When Santa moves into your retirement community

via Presurfer.

Red State, Blue City: How the Urban-Rural Divide is Splitting America

Read the whole thing at The Atlantic

The voting data suggest that people don't make cities liberal -- cities make people liberal. Here, courtesy of Princeton's Robert Vanderbai, is an electoral map that captures the divisions: