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Saturday, October 5, 2013

Photo story on Amazon's deliberately chaotic warehouse system

As the world’s largest online retailer, Amazon needs somewhere to put all of those products. The solution? Giant warehouses. Eighty to be exact. Strategically located near key shipping hubs around the world. The warehouses themselves are massive, with some over 1.2 million square feet in size (111,484 sq m). And at the heart of this global operation are people (over 65,000 of them), and a logistics system known as chaotic storage.

Chaotic storage is like organized confusion. It’s an organic shelving system without permanent areas or sections. That means there is no area just for books, or a place just for televisions (like you might expect in a retail store layout). The product’s characteristics and attributes are irrelevant. What’s important is the unique barcode associated with every product that enters the warehouse.

See the whole story at Imgur.

Chicken nugget autopsy: "40 to 50 percent meat, and the rest was fat, skin, connective tissue, blood vessels, nerves and bone fragments"

Scientists have performed an “autopsy” on nuggets from two unnamed fast-food chains.

The findings aren’t pretty: 40 to 50 percent of the nuggets were meat, and the rest was fat, skin, connective tissue, blood vessels, nerves and bone fragments, according to the University of Mississippi Medical Center.

One of the scientists — Dr. Richard deShazo, a distinguished professor of medicine, pediatrics and immunology — is quoted by the center as saying:
“I was floored. I had read what other reports have said is in them and I didn’t believe it. I was astonished actually seeing it under the microscope. 
“What has happened is that some companies have chosen to use an artificial mixture of chicken parts rather than low-fat chicken white meat, batter it up and fry it, and still call it chicken. It is really a chicken by-product high in calories, salt, sugar and fat that is a very unhealthy choice. Even worse, it tastes great and kids love it and it is marketed to them.”

Its headline: “The Autopsy of Chicken Nuggets Reads ‘Chicken Little’ ”

DeShazo and his partners in the science wrote:

The nugget from the first restaurant was composed of approximately 50 percent skeletal muscle, with the remainder composed primarily of fat, with some blood vessels and nerve present. Higher-power views showed generous quantities of epithelium and associated supportive tissue including squamous epithelium from skin or viscera.

The nugget from the second restaurant was composed of approximately 40 percent skeletal muscle. Here, too, there were generous quantities of fat and other tissue, including connective tissue and bone spicules.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Mark Steyn, master of common sense and metaphor, knocks one out of the park

Way back in January, when it emerged that BeyoncĂ© had treated us to the first ever lip-synched national anthem at a presidential inauguration, I suggested in this space that this strange pseudo-performance embodied the decay of America’s political institutions from the real thing into mere simulacrum. But that applies to government “crises,” too — such as the Obamacare “rollout,” the debt “ceiling,” and the federal “shutdown,” to name only the three current railroad tracks to which the virtuous damsel of Big Government has been simultaneously tied by evil mustache-twirling Republicans.

This week’s “shutdown” of government, for example, suffers (at least for those of us curious to see it reduced to Somali levels) from the awkward fact that the overwhelming majority of the government is not shut down at all. Indeed, much of it cannot be shut down. Which is the real problem facing America. “Mandatory spending” (Social Security, Medicare, et al.) is authorized in perpetuity — or, at any rate, until total societal collapse. If you throw in the interest payments on the debt, that means two-thirds of the federal budget is beyond the control of Congress’s so-called federal budget process. That’s why you’re reading government “shutdown” stories about the PandaCam at the Washington Zoo and the First Lady’s ghost-Tweeters being furloughed.

In a heartening sign that the American spirit is not entirely dead, at least among a small percentage of nonagenarians, a visiting party of veterans pushed through the barricades and went to honor their fallen comrades, mordantly noting for reporters that, after all, when they’d shown up on the beach at Normandy it too had not been officially open.

Government by “continuing resolution” is a sleazy racket: The legislative branch is supposed to legislate. Instead, they’re presented with a yea-or-nay vote on a single all-or-nothing multi-trillion-dollar band-aid stitched together behind closed doors to hold the federal leviathan together while it belches its way through to the next budget cycle. As Professor Angelo Codevilla of Boston University put it, “This turns democracy into a choice between tyranny and anarchy.” It’s certainly a perversion of responsible government: Congress has less say over specific federal expenditures than the citizens of my New Hampshire backwater do at Town Meeting over the budget for a new fence at the town dump. Pace Senator Reid, Republican proposals to allocate spending through targeted, mere multi-billion-dollar appropriations are not only not “irresponsible” but, in fact, a vast improvement over the “continuing resolution”: To modify Lord Acton, power corrupts, but continuing power corrupts continually.   

Ben Carson's IRS Audit Can't Possibly Be Coincidence

IRS Abuse: It doesn't take a brain surgeon to know that the IRS audit of Dr. Ben Carson can't be a mere coincidence. In any powerful syndicate, the capos know who to whack without the godfather ordering it.

We might never know the exact origin of America's tax collectors harassing President Obama's political adversaries. Maybe there was never an explicit order. 

The IRS and the Obama administration are on the same page when it comes to big government: Tea Partiers and other conservatives threaten the massive state they love, and the IRS' powerful army of bureaucrats is a pretty handy weapon for use against them.

In the already blossoming IRS scandal, political organizations' applications for tax-exempt status were delayed or denied during last year's presidential campaign, and well into this year, simply because their names sounded too conservative. The IRS audit of renowned neurosurgeon Carson looks like exactly the same kind of abuse, and it must be subject to a formal independent investigation.

Carson on Wednesday told Fox's Bill O'Reilly that the IRS began examining his real estate holdings after his speech to the National Prayer Breakfast in February, in which he used tithing in the Bible to make a compelling case against progressive taxation. A humiliated Obama sat steaming a couple of seats away.

Carson recounted that ultimately the IRS conducted a full audit on him, finding no violations. Before giving his speech critical of Obama, the tax agency had never bothered the 62-year-old doctor.

Someone — either within the IRS bureaucracy or above it — saw what Carson did, didn't like it, and decided to make him pay. The American people must know who it was.

Whether or not Obama instigated IRS abuse for political objectives, he is responsible for a culture within the bureaucracy that tolerated and even encouraged it.

Jim Hoft, AKA Gateway Pundit, is on the mend!

Read the whole complicated story of his recent health problems - it's impossible to whittle down.

Russia Admits It Isn’t Ready to Fight Space Aliens

More here.  Excerpts:

A Russian space official just admitted that Moscow has no strategy for combating an invasion by galactic marauders. Lucky for Planet Earth, the United States does have a plan. And it counts on Russia and America fighting together.

Sergei Berezhnoy, on the staff of the Titov Space Control Center near Moscow, said that Russian air-defense officers “have not been tasked with preparing for the contingency of an alien attack,” according toRianovosti.

“There are enough problems on Earth and in near-Earth space,” Berezhnoy added.

A team of scientists from America’s NASA Planetary Science Division have disagreed. “While humanity has not yet observed any extraterrestrial intelligence, contact with ETI remains possible,” Seth Baum, Jacob Haqq-Misra and Shawn Domagal-Goldman wrote in a 2011 paper.

America’s interstellar war plan is surely pretty thin. After all, the Pentagon wouldn’t know anything about the attackers until the first laser bolt or disrupter blast or photon torpedo was fired and Earth forces were already in retreat.

As the world’s leading military powers, America and Russia would be the biggest targets … and the leaders in the eventual counterattack. Combined, the two countries could field huge air, land, sea and space forces numbering thousands of warplanes, millions of soldiers, hundreds of ships and most of the world’s spacecraft.

Plan or no, Russia is bound to join America on the front lines in the First Alien War.

Comparison Chart of Every Sci-Fi Starship Ever

Click here to zoom around on the full image.

Park Service ranger: “We’ve been told to make life as difficult for people as we can"

President Obama has closed Washington down as tight as he dares, emphasizing the trivial and the petty in making life as inconvenient as he can for the greatest number. It’s all in a noble cause, of course. 

The Park Service appears to be closing streets on mere whim and caprice. The rangers even closed the parking lot at Mount Vernon, where the plantation home of George Washington is a favorite tourist destination. That was after they barred the new World War II Memorial on the Mall to veterans of World War II. But the government does not own Mount Vernon; it is privately owned by the Mount Vernon Ladies' Association. The ladies bought it years ago to preserve it as a national memorial. The feds closed access to the parking lots this week, even though the lots are jointly owned with the Mount Vernon ladies. The rangers are from the government, and they’re only here to help.

“It’s a cheap way to deal with the situation,” an angry Park Service ranger in Washington says of the harassment. “We’ve been told to make life as difficult for people as we can. It’s disgusting.”

Village harnesses kids on a merry-go-round to generate electricity

Now don't get nervous, they aren't strapping kids to a hamster wheel or anything. Well, actually they are — but trust me, they will love it. A is the brains behind the renewable energy nonprofit Empower Playgrounds, a company that uses the power of play to bring energy to a community.

The idea took root about a decade ago, when Ben Markham, engineer and former ExxonMobil vice president, visited classrooms in Ghana and was dismayed to see that they were dark, dingy and lacking in both electricity and playground equipment. Markham launched Empower Playgrounds to bring toys for the the kids to play with during the day and light for them to study by in the evenings.

Empower Playgrounds decided to utilize the power that could be generated in a merry-go-round as its energy source. Each time the kids took a ride around, the merry-go-round could store energy in its battery packs. The kids could then take the battery packs home in the evening to power lamps that they could use to see their books in the evening. One lantern charge will last for 50 hours, and because the overall system costs $10,000 to install, each lantern provides light for around 200 children at a cost of about $10 per year per child.

First new Godzilla movie footage

The quote playing over the video from Manhattan Project participant J. Robert Oppenheimer. Via io9.

65 Amazing Facts That Will Blow Your Mind

Go to Mental Floss and read the whole thing. As they say, "OK, "blow your mind" is a bit dramatic. But 65 Amazing Facts You'll Probably Enjoy and Likely Consider Mentioning to Your Friends didn't fit."

Here are a few that I found interesting:

In Qaddafi's compound, Libyan rebels found a photo album filled with pictures of Condoleezza Rice.

How many licks does it take to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop? The world may never know. But on average, a Licking Machine made at Purdue needed 364.

At one point in the 1990s, 50% of all CDs produced worldwide were for AOL.

New Mexico State's first graduating class in 1893 had only one student—and he was shot and killed before graduation.

Calvin Klein's Obsession for Men is used by researchers to attract animals to cameras in the wilderness.

Sean Connery turned down the Gandalf role in Lord of the Rings. "I read the book. I read the script. I saw the movie. I still don't understand it."

E.B. White of Charlotte's Web fame is the "White" of Strunk and White, who wrote The Elements of Style.

Jonah Goldberg: The Budget Fight and Obama’s Vindictive Streak

You should, of course, read the whole thing.  Excerpts:

What’s unusual is the way Obama sees the government as a tool for his ideological agenda. During the fight over the sequester, Obama ordered the government to make the 2 percent budget cut as painful and scary as possible.

“It’s going to be very painful for the flying public,” Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood warned Americans.

“The FAA’s all-hands furloughs managed to convert a less than 4 percent FAA budget cut into a 10 percent air-traffic control cut that would delay 40 percent of flights,” the Wall Street Journal noted at the time. 

The Department of Homeland Security announced it might not be able to protect the nation’s borders, and in an effort to prove the point summarily released a couple thousand of immigrant detainees, many of them with criminal records.

Still, it cost the government more money to try to keep WWII vets out of an open-air memorial than it would have to just leave it be. In Virginia, the NPS ordered the Claude Moore Colonial Farm to shut down, even though it’s privately funded.

Far worse, Obama told CNBC’s John Harwood that Wall Street should be far more panicky about Republican efforts to use the debt ceiling to win concessions from the White House. I don’t blame Obama for being annoyed with Republicans for trying to use the debt ceiling the exact same way he did when he was a senator. But normally a sitting president doesn’t try to talk down the economy just to win a political point.

Friday links

The Daily Habits of Highly Productive Philosophers: Nietzsche, Marx & Immanuel Kant.

Excellent couch intro for Sunday's Simpsons Treehouse of Horror episode.

Wanna feel old? 11 "Modern Antiques" Today's Kids Have Probably Never Seen.

22 Dogs That Really Deserve an Apology.

English Building's Brick Facade Playfully Slumps Down.

Here's the Indian Jack Bauer in a 24 remake, and Walter Blanco, the Colombian version of Walter White in a Breaking Bad remake.

ICYMI, here are the links from Wednesday.

How Your Old CDs Can Turn Sewage Into Drinking Water

Tsai’s process involves using a CD’s flat surface as a platform on which to grow zinc oxide. Later, when illuminated with UV light in a prototype water treatment device, the zinc oxide acts a photo-catalyst, breaking down organic pollutants in sewage water that’s filtered in by a hose.

In a test, the researchers found that “over 95 percent of the contaminants had broken down after just 60 minutes. That's about 150 ml of waste water per minute.” For comparison, a typical bottle of water contains 500 milliliters.

Tsai said the device could be used on a small scale to clean water that is polluted with domestic sewage, urban run-off and farm waste.

Globally, 884 million people don’t have access to safe drinking water. And the number one of cause of illness and death worldwide is diarrhea, 88 percent of which is caused by lack of access to sanitation facilities and unsafe drinking water.

Football injury left man with the abilty to squirt tea out of his chin

“I didn’t hurt. I think it helped clean it out a bit.”

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Heisenberg vs Batman: Breaking Bad Rises

Update: title sequence for Sunday's Simpsons Treehouse of Horror episode, now with labels

There's a crapload (maybe a crapload and a half) of classic horror movies in there.

This version ncludes references to most of the horror movies:

Amazon has most of the previous Treehouse of Horror episode for $1.99 each.

Miriam Carey: Name Of Suspect Reportedly Killed In The Capitol Hill Shooting

Miriam Carey (right), is the woman identified in news reports as the suspect in a shooting incident that left Capitol Hill on lockdown for a brief period Thursday afternoon, and has now reportedly been shot dead by police. This photo is from a newsletter announcing her having been hired as a hygenist at a Connecticut periodontics practice.  Advanced Periodontics

IB Times: Here's what we know about Miriam Carey, the woman identified in news reports as the suspect in a shooting incident that left Capitol Hill on lockdown for a brief period Thursday afternoon, and has now reportedly been shot dead by police.

Carey, a 34-year-old dental hygenist has been identified by ­­­the New York Post and the New Haven Register newspaper as the suspect in a shooting incident that took place in the nation's capital. Here’s what we know about Carey so far.

A law enforcement source told the Register that Carey is the suspect who was reportedly shot dead by Capitol Police following a high-speed car chase that began when she allegedly rammed her black Infiniti luxury sedan into a barricade near the White House.

The altercation led to the U.S. Capitol being locked down for a brief period of time after shots rang out near Garfield Circle, in the vicinity of the Hart Senate Office Building.

Carey, who has ties to both Stamford, Conn., and Brooklyn, N.Y., hails from a condominium complex in Stamford called Woodside Green, according to the Register, and was permitted to work as a hygenist in Connecticut prisons, the Post reported.

ABC News reported that Carey had "a history of mental health issues."

‘Breaking Bad’: Here's Walter Blanco, the Colombian version of Walter White

Via Daily Caller:

After the final episode of “Breaking Bad” aired last Sunday, did you think to yourself, “Boy, I really wish that I could re-watch the entire series all over again, only this time with PBS-circa-1994 quality camerawork and crappier actors whose main characters like Walter Blanco and Jose Rosas talk to each other in Spanish?” Well, you’re in luck!

Metastasis” is a nearly identical, Colombian remake of “Breaking Bad” that appears to follow the AMC series plot to a T.

Obamacare is already producing new jobs — in India

MUMBAI: As US President Barack Obama’s new health insurance plan takes effect this month, Indian outsourcers handling customer care for insurers there are expecting a big boost in business.

These BPOs are betting on confused customers jamming phone lines and cluttering inboxes seeking clarity on what kind of health coverage they are eligible for, what they need to do to sign up and how much it will cost them.

Must Read: WWII Memorial Standoff Not About Obama Being ‘Petty’ — It’s Worse

Noah Rothman at Mediaite hits one out of the park.  Read the whole thing:

The violation of their perceived supreme authority cannot be tolerated. Such insubordination threatens the necessity of the bureaucratic agency charged with executing this or the other task. Should a bureaucracy’s mission be shown to be superfluous or redundant, it would threaten funding, jobs, livelihoods. Some in government correctly see the demonstration of their expendability to be an existential threat. Such threats must be neutralized.

The whole episode is a caricature of unresponsive government. Small government forces could not have invented a better foil.

Soliciting Obamacare signups - Colorado Using Scantily-Clad Models, Tenn giving away phones

Models on Tuesday promote insurance exchanges, urging people on the 16th Street Mall to "Get Covered."(John Leyba, The Denver Post)

Promoters and health insurers fanned out with multimedia ads to encourage sign-ups. Colorado HealthOP, a consumer-run cooperative selling insurance plans on the exchange, sent models in skimpy clothing — and sporting signs with information — to greet Denver's 16th Street Mall lunch crowds.

Meanwhile, in Tennessee, via Daily Caller:

Community Health Alliance, Tennessee’s health insurance co-op, is running a unique promotional program to drive enrollment in its plans for sale on the exchange: health insurance in exchange for a smartphone.

As part of its Community Health Connection Program, CHA is offering qualified individuals an LG Lucid 2 4G smart phone (or equivalent model), a phone plan and tech support, included as a cost of their health plan benefits. The phone plan includes unlimited talk, unlimited texting and 1.2GB of data.

94 Dead, Hundreds Missing In Shipwreck Off Sicily

A ship carrying 500 African migrants sank off the coast of Sicily on Thursday killing at least 94 people. Two hundred people are still unaccounted for in what is considered one of the deadliest shipwrecks of recent times.

While 159 people have been rescued, Infrastructure and Transport Minister Maurizio Lupi said in a statement that the death toll is expected to rise as the search continues.

The old wooden boat sank just off the coast of the island of Lampedusa, after a fire started on board. In the early morning Thursday the ship entered closer to shore, when passengers ignited a towel to signal their arrival, New York Times reported. Aurthorities say shortly thereafter the boat was in flames. It later capsized, leaving passengers in the sea near Conigli Island.

Elixir for a woman suffering from asthma: He tosses the frog into a skillet for a quick sear before it is liquefied in the mixer."

LIMA, Peru (AP) — Question: What's red and green and goes 175 miles an hour?

Answer: A frog in a blender.

That gross-out kids' riddle takes on new meaning at the massive, indoor witches market in Lima, Peru. Here, ingredients for one of the proffered potions include a live frog plucked from a fish tank, plus pollen, coca, quail egg, honey, a fruit called noni and agorrobina, a syrup made from the black carob tree.

The slimy brown mixture, promises drink-maker Mario Lopez, will cure respiratory ailments, impotence and anemia, and also work as an aphrodisiac.

Advice from 1489: To stay young, suck blood from a youth

Portrait of Marsilio Ficino
Domenico Ghirlandaio, Zacariah in the Temple (1486-90)
"There is a common and ancient opinion that certain prophetic women who are popularly called ‘screech-owls’ suck the blood of infants as a means, insofar as they can, of growing young again. Why shouldn’t our old people... likewise suck the blood of a youth? — a youth, I say who is willing, healthy, happy and temperate, whose blood is of the best but perhaps too abundant. They will suck, therefore, like leeches, an ounce or two from a scarcely-opened vein of the left arm; they will immediately take an equal amount of sugar and wine; they will do this when hungry and thirsty and when the moon is waxing. If they have difficulty digesting raw blood, let it first be cooked together with sugar; or let it be mixed with sugar and moderately distilled over hot water and then drunk." 

~Marsilio Ficino, De vita libri tres (1489)

From Ask The Past.

Must Read: Judge Napolitano: Beware the NSA’s Ongoing Witch Hunt

What happened to our inalienable right to be left alone? 

The Obama administration is of the view that the NSA can spy on anyone anywhere. The president believes that federal statutes enable the secret FISA court to authorize the NSA to capture any information it desires about any persons without identifying the persons and without a showing of probable cause of criminal behavior on the part of the persons to be spied upon. This is the same mindset that the British government had with respect to the colonists. It, too, believed that British law permitted a judge in secret in Britain to issue general warrants to be executed in the colonies at the whim of British agents.

General warrants do not state the name of the place to be searched or the person or thing to be seized, and they do not have the necessity of individualized probable cause as their linchpin. They simply authorize the bearer to search wherever he wishes for whatever he wants. General warrants were universally condemned by colonial leaders across the ideological spectrum -- from those as radical as Sam Adams to those as establishment as George Washington, and from those as individualistic as Thomas Jefferson to those as big-government as Alexander Hamilton. We know from the literature of the times that the whole purpose of the Fourth Amendment -- with its requirements of individualized probable cause and specifically identifying the target -- is to prohibit general warrants.

Last week we learned in a curious colloquy between members of the Senate Select Intelligence Committee and Gen. Keith Alexander and Deputy Attorney General James Cole that it is more likely than not that the FISA court has permitted the NSA to seize not only telephone, Internet and texting records, but also utility bills, credit card bills, banking records, social media records and digital images of mail, and that there is no upper limit on the number of Americans' records seized or the nature of those records.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Cancellation of service academy football games, which use $0 public funds, is about ‘optics’

The potential revenue loss to the Naval Academy Athletic Association would likely exceed $4 million, he said. That money comes from ticket sales, sponsorship, parking and concession revenue. The largest revenue stream is the payout NAAA receives from CBS Sports Television.

A record crowd in excess of 38,000 is expected to pack the stadium for Saturday’s 11:30 a.m. kickoff. Flights and hotels have been booked. About 200 football recruits and their families made plans to come to the game.

Ace calls it government by spite: I'm beginning to suspect the Democrat Party and its Cult Leader Obama aren't quite so consumed with the welfare of the Common Man as they claim, or as their lovesick dupes in the media believe.

Wednesday links

Stunning aerial photos reveal how humans have reshaped the Earth with our need for water.

Dinosaur romance novels are a thing.

Timothy Leary’s Transformation From Scientist to Psychedelic Celebrity.

Why beer is good for your health.

Man believes his car is haunted by ghost of a cat.

Van Gogh’s Never-Before-Seen Sketchbooks.

Author Tom Clancy dead at age 66

Clancy's dozens of novels defined the techno-thriller genre, combining political intrigue and action with highly detailed explanations of ships, weapons, and military tactics. His best-known hero, Jack Ryan, foiled endless international plots and was immortalized in films like The Hunt for Red October. Rainbow Six, another Jack Ryan novel, became one of the top-selling game franchises of all time, and his Splinter Cell series saw the release of its latest installment in August.

Little more is known about Clancy's death at this point, though it has been confirmed by his publisher.

Prototypes, Photos of Absurd Household Product Concepts

More here, via Laughing Squid.

Chinese farmers capture metre-long 5kg rat and break two knives trying to cut it up to eat

Chinese farmers have captured what is believed to be a metre-long rat that had been terrorising villagers and devouring fish whole, it is claimed. 

They tried to cut the 5kg rodent up to eat - but broke two knives hacking at its thick bones and skin.

The monstrous animal, weighing ten times that of the average rat, was first spotted snatching 3kg fish from a pond in a village in Shaoyang, Hunan.

Rat is traditionally eaten in Guangdong, southern China, where it can be served braised, stewed or cooked in soup. It can also be roasted and hung alongside duck.

The rodent, which can carry deadly diseases, is believed to be three times more nutritious than chicken.

‘Breaking Bad’: Vince Gilligan Shares 5 Alternate Endings

Off topic, sort of - last night I was sitting in a restaurant in Washington prior to seeing the Washington Shakespeare Theater's quirky version of Measure for Measure, and when the waiter brought my iced tea along with the requisite bowl containing various sweeteners, I noticed that there was no Stevia and asked for some.  He had no idea what I was talking about and told me they didn't have any.  Shortly afterward, three women were seated at an adjacent table and one of them asked the same waiter the same question.  We had a good laugh and a brief discussion about whether Stevia paid for that product placement, and found out that the women were also going to the theatre.

So, bottom line - based on this sample, 100% of patrons of the Washington Shakespeare Theatre are Breaking Bad fans.

The writers of Breaking Bad gave Walter White his M60 before they knew who it would kill.

Vince Gilligan says in the final “Breaking Bad Insider” podcast that he and his team had no idea, when they gave Walt the machine gun at the start of the final season, that he would eventually motorize it mow down Neo Nazis. They didn’t even know the show would have Neo Nazis.

We were saying you know what? An M60 machine gun, Rambo’s machine gun, something cool has to happen with that. We’ll figure it out later.”

Some of the rejected ideas:

1. Walt Goes Rambo - too brawn over brain.

2. Walt Kills Cops - the police come to get him, and he uses the M60 on the police.

3. Walt Takes Out a Jail - He breaks Jesse out of jail just as the Nazis were gonna knock Jesse off - he comes in and uses an M60 to lay waste to an entire prison or a prison bus.

4. Skyler Kills Herself

5. Jesse Dies, Then Walt Jr. Dies - This wasn’t necessarily a finale ending, but it was an idea Gilligan kicked around before Season 1 even began. He says he considered a sequence in which a very ruthless drug dealer – he would include elements of Gus Fring, Krazy 8 and Tuco Salamanca – would kill Jesse. Walt, “filled with rage,” shackles him in a basement. He rigs a tripwire with a shotgun, so that the dealer can kill himself by pulling it. Walt wants the dealer to do it, so he begins torturing him from the ground up. He starts at the toes and begins “lopping off bits of this guy and cauterizing it with a blowtorch or something.” This goes on for weeks, but the dealer won’t kill himself. Eventually Walt Jr. discovers him and tries to give him some water. When the dealer realizes Walt Jr. is Walt’s son, he trips the wire and kills them both.

More at TheWrap, including links to previous articles.

Dinosaur Romance Novels are a thing

“Dinosaur Beast Erotica” focuses on girl-on-dinosaur action.  From the author's Amazon page:

Hi! I'm just a plain old, everyday Midwestern girl that lives a normal life. However, while my outward tastes are relatively simple, my inner thoughts are filled with lusty thoughts of big, strong, powerful monsters having their way with beautiful maidens.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug - Official Main Trailer

Looks pretty spiffy!

SCOTUS, returning from its summer recess, granted review of eight new cases

Details at SCOTUSblog.

Not The Onion: North Dakota Woman, 'Marries Herself,' Opens Up About Self-Marriage

Hard to imagine that her two kids decided to live with her ex-husband.

The marriage took place among friends and family who were encouraged to "blow kisses to the world" after she exchanged rings with her "inner groom", My Fox Phoenix reports.

"I feel very empowered, very happy, very joyous ... I want to share that with people, and also the people that were in attendance, it's a form of accountability," Nadien Schweigert told Anderson Cooper.

Schweigert said the ceremony was a celebration of how far she'd come since her painful divorce six years ago that led to her two children to decide to live with her ex-husband.

Shutdown Preparations Prove Most Government Is Waste

IBD points out the obvious: One thing a government shutdown does is prove that millions of them can, and should, stay home every day.

Big Government: When the government shuts down, the president will do without three-fourths of his White House staff — 1,265 taxpayer-salaried federal workers. That's a fraction of the government's total waste.

House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi, who didn't show up to vote on the budget last week, recently claimed, "the cupboard is bare. There's no more cuts to make" in a government that spends almost $4 trillion each year.

But it's funny how when the massive state apparatus is starved of its cash flow, lots of things magically appear in that bare cupboard.

A Sept. 26 letter from the assistant to the president for management and administration to the director of the Office of Management and Budget (couldn't those jobs be merged?) comically outlines the shutdown plan.

"Approximately 436 employees will be designated as excepted or exempt to perform excepted functions," the manager of the White House budget tells the manager of the executive branch budget. "The remaining 1,265 will be placed in furlough status once they have concluded activities necessary to shut down their offices."

Activities like what? Turning off the lights?

The Executive Office of the President "has carefully reviewed its personnel needs ... to ensure that the mission ... is carried out without significant interruption."

But the letter says during the shutdown it'll take 12 taxpayer-paid employees "to support the vice president in the discharge of his constitutional duties." Call them the dirty dozen, since they take care of what Vice President John Nance Garner called "a bucket of warm spit."

What do these 12 absolutely essential non-Secret Service vice-presidential staff do, guarantee that Joe Biden doesn't make a gaffe during the shutdown?

He also gets one staffer for the vice president's residence. Can't "average Joe," who as a senator famously rode the commuter train with the riffraff from Delaware to Washington every day, make his own meals for a few days? Or put up with Dr. Jill's cooking?

Why are 61 U.S. Trade Representative employees required during the shutdown "for developing, coordinating, and advising the president on U.S. trade policy"?

And how many of the more than 20 members of the first lady's staff, at least four of whom are paid six figures by the taxpayers, will be deemed non-essential?

The White House is just a microcosm of the out-of-control growth in federal government personnel. Shameless federal worker unions already plan to sue to get paid for days they stay home during the shutdown.

One thing a government shutdown does is prove that millions of them can, and should, stay home every day.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Monday links

A mysterious fire transformed North America's greatest city in 1170.

Terminator the Second: Shakespeare meets Terminator 2.

Mug Shots of Montreal’s Madams and Prostitutes in the 1940s.

32 Real Life Cheat Codes That Will Change Your Life.

What are the images of armed knights fighting snails in 13th and 14th century illuminated manuscripts all about?

What are the images of armed knights fighting snails in 13th and 14th century illuminated manuscripts all about?

British Library: As anyone who is familiar with 13th and 14th century illuminated manuscripts can attest, images of armed knights fighting snails are common, especially in marginalia. But the ubiquity of these depictions doesn’t make them any less strange.

The Resurrection? A symbol of the Lombards? A representation of the struggles of the poor against an oppressive aristocracy, a straightforward statement of the snail’s troublesome reputation as a garden pest, a commentary on social climbers, or a saucy symbol of female sexuality?  Read the whole article (with more images).

Knight v Snail II:  Battle in the Margins (from the Gorleston Psalter, England (Suffolk), 1310-1324,Add MS 49622, f. 193v.
Knight v Snail III: Extreme Jousting (from Brunetto Latini's Li Livres dou Tresor, France (Picardy), c. 1315-1325, Yates Thompson MS 19, f. 65r)
Knight v Snail V:  Revenge of the Snail (from the Smithfield Decretals, southern France (probably Toulouse), with marginal scenes added in England (London), c. 1300-c. 1340, Royal MS 10 E IV, f. 107r)

Marcella Hazan, Famed Cookbook Author, Dies at 89

Marcella Hazan, the Italian-born cookbook author who taught generations of Americans how to create simple, fresh Italian food, died Sunday. She was 89.
Hazan died in the morning at her home in Florida, according to an email from her son, Giuliano Hazan, and posts on Facebook and Twitter from her husband and daughter-in-law.
Hazan was best known for her six cookbooks, which were written by her in Italian and translated into English by Victor, her husband of 57 years.
It was Hazan’s 1973 cookbook, The Classic Italian Cookbook,*” that led gourmands to draw comparisons between Hazan and another larger-than-life cookbook author: Julia Child.
The two women were longtime friends; Child told People Magazine in 1998 that Hazan was “forbidding because she’s rough … that’s her manner, and she’s got a good heart.”
In 2000, Hazan was awarded the James Beard Foundation Lifetime Achievement Award.
*I recommend the more recent Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking, which combines Classic Italian Cookbook with the subsequent book More Classic Italian Cooking.

Canada's Long National Nightmare Is Over: Last Maple-Syrup Pirate Arrested

"To the delight of headline writers everywhere," said The Economist last week, "it appeared a maple-syrup mob was involved" in the theft of six million pounds of the stuff from the Global Strategic Maple Syrup Reserve last fall. On Tuesday the Canadians gave us one more free taste by announcing that they had, after a year-long manhunt, arrested the last suspected member of the Maple Syrup Gang.

A total of 23 people have now been arrested in connection with the theft, which apparently took place incrementally over the course of a full year. According to the most recent report, the Federation of Quebec Maple Syrup Producers (which the report describes as "the OPEC of the maple syrup world") keeps about 40 million pounds in the GSMSR, which it uses to stabilize prices. The thieves are said to have gotten away with about 15 percent of that, something like 9,600 barrels at 620 pounds per barrel, and worth about C$18 million.

Two-thirds of the stolen syrup has been recovered, some of it from syrup dealers in other provinces (the GSMSR is in Quebec) and in the United States. None of them knew anything about the heist, of course. The Economist did take the opportunity, though, to note that some merchants are not happy with the Federation's nearly complete syrup monopoly, implying that some of them might not have asked too many questions when a door-to-door syrup merchant showed up with a tanker truck. See also "The Maple Syrup Cartel: Quebec's syrup monopoly helped spawn smuggling, prohibition style," National Post (Feb. 16, 2013).

Reat the whole thing at Lowering the Bar, which has links to background stories.

1966 Volvo clocks up world record three million miles

More here.

The Harp Guitar

More here.  Via Weird Universe.

Terminator the Second: Shakespeare meets Terminator 2

"Terminator the Second is a parody of the film Terminator 2: Judgment Day, constructed solely of lines and phrases from the plays of William Shakespeare. Only proper nouns, pronouns and verb tenses are subject to change, enabling us to remain true to the words of Shakespeare in form, if less so in intent."

More information at their website.  They've already produced it as a live play, and a movie version is scheduled for DVD release on November 1. Via Geekpress.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Committee bursts into laughter at idea of Obama drawing a red line on House bill

Rep. Jim McGovern, D-Mass., made the mistake of trying to sound tough during an exchange with House Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers, R-Ky., CNS News reported.

“You say the president has threatened to veto the bill?” Rogers asked.

“No. He hasn’t threatened. He said he absolutely will veto,” McGovern responded.

“Yep,” McGovern answered.

And the room burst into laughter.

According to CNS, McGovern wasn’t fazed, smiling as he added: “And, you know what? I think he’s very serious about this.”

If the president is serious about this red line – as opposed to that one he drew over Syria then tried to deny — it says a lot more about the fecklessness of his administration than it does Republicans in the House of Representatives.

The whole world — even his most insipid stateside supporters — knows what this president’s red lines are worth.

Do they laugh out loud in Tehran, too?

Islamist gunmen have attacked a college in north-eastern Nigeria, killing up to 50 students.

The students were shot dead as they slept in their dormitory at the College of Agriculture in Yobe state.

North-eastern Nigeria is under a state of emergency amid an Islamist insurgency by the Boko Haram group.

Boko Haram is fighting to overthrow Nigeria's government to create an Islamic state, and has launched a number of attacks on schools.

Story Of Small Businessman Struggling Under Obama Administration Draws To Close

Story Of Small Businessman Struggling Under Obama Administration Draws To Close

The Onion

Britain's White Widow plotted Nairobi mall massacre from rented house just 100 yards away

The fugitive White Widow plotted the bloody Kenyan mall massacre from a secret lair just 100 yards away, security forces believe.

A source said: “Nothing is being ruled out, but a major strand of the investigation is looking at Lewthwaite having been in Nairobi more than once in the last few months but then travelling back across the border to Somalia.

Police yesterday claimed the first breakthrough in the case after a vehicle believed to have been used by the mob was recovered.

Kenyan officers are trying to trace the owner of the silver saloon, which was found around 20 metres outside the bullet-scarred and scorched shopping centre entrance.

Specialist forensic officers were yesterday seen examining the car as it is hoped it could hold vital clues to tracking down the gang.

Any forensic evidence will be cross-matched with samples taken from the house.

Warning from Saudi Cleric: Driving Affects Women’s Pelvises and Ovaries

A consultant to the Gulf Psychological Association, al-Luhaydan issued this warning about female driving in an interview published on the website on Friday: “Physiological science and functional medicine studied this side [and found] that it automatically affects ovaries and rolls up the pelvis. This is why we find for women who continuously drive cars their children are born with clinical disorders of varying degrees.”

According to Reuters, the women’s driving ban is not detailed in a specific law; however, only men are granted licenses to drive. Women who drive are at risk of being fined, detained or put on trial for launching a political protest.

When Hitler didn’t meet Churchill

Good post at Powerline, reflecting on Obama's gushing with excitement over the phone call he had with the president of “the Islamic Republic of Iran”:

President Obama’s palpable excitement over the phone call he had with the president of “the Islamic Republic of Iran” — Obama bows verbally even when he can’t physically execute his 90-degree dive in person — put me in mind of Winston Churchill’s failed meeting with Adolf Hitler. It’s a story I’ve mentioned here before and ask your indulgence in mentioning again as the occasion seems to warrant.
When in November 1932, shortly before Hitler came to power, and Churchill was in Munich doing some historical research about the First Duke of Marlborough,…an intermediary [Putzi Hanfstaegl] tried to get him to meet Hitler, who was in Munich at the time and had high hopes of coming to power within months. Churchill agreed to meet Hitler, who was going to come to see him in his hotel in Munich, and said to the intermediary: “There are a few questions you might like to put to him, which can be the basis of our discussion when we meet.” Among them was the following question: “What is the sense of being against a man simply because of his birth? How can any man help how he is born?”

This may seem a simple sentiment to us now, but how many people, distinguished people from Britain, the United States and other countries, who met or might have met Hitler, raised that question with him? So surprised, and possibly angered, was Hitler by this question that he declined to come to the hotel and see Churchill.