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Saturday, February 23, 2013

Letter from the Tooth Fairy - you need to clean your room so I can get to your tooth

Via Neatorama: The Tooth Fairy tried to get the tooth. But Emily's room was a mess, especially the bed. It was covered with toys, blankets and Emily's sister. So she left a note saying that she would be back if Emily cleaned up and made the tooth accessible. Amy, Emily's mom, reports that the child responded favorably and it's likely that the Tooth Fairy will return.


Compilation: Babies Laughing At Dogs

via Tastefully Offensive.

Hobbit Hole Bonsai Tree

Via Neatorama, there are more photos and instructions here.

Herpits: the BIGGEST female armpit community in Indonesia

"Health and Entertainment Side of Female Armpits"

Top 10 Most Bizarre Power Rangers Monsters

The Oysterizer has a sort of Georgia O'Keefe thing going:

And the Brick Bully:

More at Topless Robot, via Unique Daily.

1891 Photo of Marcel Proust Playing Air Guitar on a Tennis Racket

More information at The Atlantic, and Flavorwire has more famous people playing air guitar.  Proust also had an haddock, of course, and here's Monty Python's Summarize Proust competition:

Friday, February 22, 2013

Burqa Crisis: Criminals are using Islamic garb to commit serious crimes

Interesting article at National Review  Read the whole thing.
As the Middle East Forum’s David J. Rusin points out in his detailed survey of Philadelphia burqa crimes, Muslim garb holds two great advantages over other forms of disguise: First, many full-body covered women walk the streets without criminal intent, thereby inadvertently providing cover for thieves; the more full-body coverings around, the more likely that these will facilitate criminal activity. Second, the very strangeness and aloofness of these garments affords their wearers, including criminals, an extraordinary degree of protection. As in other cases (three purchases of alcohol in Toronto state liquor stores by a 14-year-old boy in a burqa; Muslim women not checked at Canadian airports), clerks so fear being accused of racism or “Islamophobia” that they skip state-mandated procedures, such as requiring niqabis to show their faces and establish their identities.

Jonah Goldberg: “And when he opened the seventh seal, there was a small decrease in the rate of increase in federal spending.”

Blame Game Rages On over Looming Sequester
We are just days away from a cataclysm of biblical proportions. The cuts foretold in the Budget Control Act of 2011 are young as far as prophecies go, but apparently they are every bit as terrifying as rivers of blood and plagues of locusts. Any day now we can expect White House spokesman Jay Carney to take to the podium and read a prepared statement: “And when he opened the seventh seal, there was a small decrease in the rate of increase in federal spending.”
The great game in Washington is who will get the blame for something both House Speaker John Boehner and President Obama agree will be calamitous for the country. It is an argument so idiotic, it could pass for seriousness only in Washington.

Star Wars Family Tree

From Chartgeek: With the new Star Wars movies on the horizon, it’s time to brush up on your Star Wars lore. Plus, if you’re unfamiliar with the Star Wars Expanded Universe, you may want to familiarize yourself with a few of the characters that arrive on the scene after Return of the Jedi. They might feature in the upcoming movies. But keep in mind that that’s a very big “might”. So far, we don’t really know what the new movies are going to be about.

In Virginia, Tebow bill (home school sports participation) defeated again

As a Virginia resident and grandparent of five home-schoolers, this is maddening. I absolutely do not understand the opposition to it.

A Senate committee Thursday shot down the “Tebow bill” aimed at allowing home-schoolers to participate in public schools’ sports and other extracurricular activities.
The Senate Education and Health Committee defeated House Bill 1442 on a 7-8 vote, thus taking the matter off the table for this legislative session.
All of the Republicans on the committee except Sen. Harry Belvins, R-Chesapeake, voted in favor of HB 1442. Belvins joined the seven Democratic committee members in opposing the bill.
The legislation is nicknamed for NFL quarterback Tim Tebow, who as a home-schooler in Florida played football for his local high school team.
HB 1442 would have allowed home-schoolers in Virginia to do the same, said Delegate Robert Bell, R-Charlottesville, who sponsored the measure. “Home-school kids just want a chance to try out.”
The committee heard testimony on the bill Thursday morning. Bell brought many home-schooled children, teenagers and even a few college students to testify and show their support.
“All I’m asking you … is to give me simply the opportunity to play sports,” said Eli Marellus, a 14-year-old home-schooler.
Virginia is one of 21 states that do not give home-schoolers access to play public school sports. The remaining states have a policy or law permitting home-schooled students to participate in public school activities and sports.

The Extraordinary Science of Addictive Junk Food

Why are the diabetes and obesity and hypertension numbers still spiraling out of control? It’s not just a matter of poor willpower on the part of the consumer and a give-the-people-what-they-want attitude on the part of the food manufacturers. What I found, over four years of research and reporting, was a conscious effort — taking place in labs and marketing meetings and grocery-store aisles — to get people hooked on foods that are convenient and inexpensive. 

I talked to more than 300 people in or formerly employed by the processed-food industry, from scientists to marketers to C.E.O.’s. Some were willing whistle-blowers, while others spoke reluctantly when presented with some of the thousands of pages of secret memos that I obtained from inside the food industry’s operations. 

What follows is a series of small case studies of a handful of characters whose work then, and perspective now, sheds light on how the foods are created and sold to people who, while not powerless, are extremely vulnerable to the intensity of these companies’ industrial formulations and selling campaigns.

I don't like the addiction label for this (typical of the NYT), because it makes it the fault of the maker of the food rather than the individual who overconsumes.  Interesting article, though.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

How Erections Work

Today I Found Out has an article on the anatomy and neurology involved.  Read the whole thing - it's interesting, and you're not in third grade anymore. You can read it without snickering!

Gollum sings Les Miserables

Les Miserablés' "I Dreamed a Dream" in the voice of Gollum.


via io9.

How to Win at Pac-Man

Pac-Man is a game of patterns: the ghosts move in predefined patterns, so if you move Pac-Man himself in one of three (fairly complex) patterns, it's possible to avoid the ghosts and play the game almost indefinitely -- at least until you hit the Level 256 "kill screen".  This video explains the relevant patterns:

More on this and links to an article on how to beat Ms Pac-Man at Mental Floss.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Electroshock Football (well, soccer)

Each player on these Norwegian soccer teams has a shock collar (of the sort used for dog training) strapped to a leg.  Watch the game as onlookers randomly shock them.  English subs.

New app to keep you tweeting after death

A new application will soon allow users to keep posting Twitter updates from beyond the grave, independently using intricate knowledge of your online character to create a virtual continuation of your personality after you die.

“When your heart stops beating, you'll keep tweeting,” says the new application’s tagline.

Friday links

How much would the sea level fall if every ship were removed all at once from the earth's waters? 

Star Wars Family Tree.

Gallery: Aircraft fan builds amazing replica of a Pan Am 747 jet.

The physics of sunsets.

From 1883, an Illustrated Guide to Recognizing Insane People.

10 Fascinating Facts About Chocolate.

"I just found out my wife and I came from the same sperm donor"

At Slate:
On the one hand, I love my wife more than I can say, and logically, done is done, we already have children. I have had a vasectomy, so we won't be having any more, so perhaps there is no harm in continuing as we are. But, I can't help but think "This is my sister" every time I look at her now. I haven't said anything to her yet, and I don't know if I should or not.
But the best part is that, apparently without realizing the pun, this "Dear Prudence" starts her answer with, "This is a seminal question about the nature of assisted reproduction." Really? Seminal?

via Instapundit.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Post Office Has Idea for Making Itself Profitable: Official Post Office Fashion Wear

I'm so disappointed: Only men’s apparel and accessories will be available initially, but the agency plans to add a women’s line in the future, it said Tuesday.

AP: Rand Paul Quote Was Opposite of What We Reported

Via The Corner:

Sometimes you can’t rely on the rush transcript:
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Associated Press has withdrawn its story about Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., saying he sees some in the his party favoring a 2016 presidential candidate with an immigration policy that would “round up people . . . and send them back to Mexico.” That quote was in the transcript of “Fox News Sunday” that was distributed after Paul’s interview on the show. A subsequent Associated Press review of an audio recording of the show determined that the transcript had dropped the word “don’t” from that quote, and Paul actually said, “They don’t want somebody who wants to round people up, put them in camps and send them back to Mexico.”

Tuesday links

25 Cereals From The '80s You Will Never Eat Again.

The Near Annihilation of America's Buffalo in Pictures.

Vintage Armoured Cars.

What Makes Hair Curly?

Have virgins ever been tossed into volcanoes to appease the gods?

Florida's Great Python Challenge Is Over; The Pythons Won.

Colorado Lawmaker: Ladies, You Don't Need a Gun, We Have Rape-Free Zones

via Ace, Stupid with a side-order of Women Are Too Paranoid About Sexual Assault.

“It’s why we have call boxes, it’s why we have safe zones, it’s why we have the whistles. Because you just don’t know who you’re gonna be shooting at. And you don’t know if you feel like you’re gonna be raped, or if you feel like someone’s been following you around or if you feel like you’re in trouble when you may actually not be, that you pop out that gun and you pop … pop around at somebody.”

Monday, February 18, 2013

Australian Man Fights Cactus, Cactus Wins

Holy crap, this was funny.  NSFW due to language, and turn down (not off) the sound.  Thanks, Arthur.

Two brothers celebrating $75K lottery win by purchasing marijuana and meth accidentally blew up their house

One of the brothers went to the kitchen to refuel the butane torches they planned to use to light their bongs. He emptied a couple of large cans of butane lighter fluid, leaking butane into the air.

“The butane vapor reached the pilot light in the furnace, and as you might expect, ka-boom,” Watts said.

The victim was wearing a lottery T-shirt during the explosion.

Another blow to ObamaCare: The increasing appeal of self-insurance

Links and more comments at HotAir.

It’s been a fairly frequent practice for larger companies to self-insure, i.e., take on most of the financial risks of providing health benefits to their employees sans traditional insurance programs and the accompanying premiums, and instead only signing up for “stop-loss” insurance to protect themselves against the possibility of really major health-care costs (the sort that come with long-term debilitating diseases or sudden catastrophe). It’s a trend that’s been gaining some steam over the past decade or so, but certain aspects of ObamaCare mean it is becoming more worthwhile for even more and even smaller companies to consider the option for themselves — especially if they have younger, typically healthier workforces.

That means that instead of the costs of ObamaCare being [re]distributed across a wider pool, the price of premiums is going to grow larger for people who stay in the system as more and more companies consider opting out.

The Massive Obamacare Sales Tax Increase That's On the Way


The Joint Committee on Taxation released a report to Committee of Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp shortly after the Supreme Court ruling that recalculates the costs to insurers, consumers and businesses under the new plan. According to their report – which does not include updated scores for the individual mandate, the employer mandate, or certain other revenue effects – the tax increases that remain on the books will cost taxpayers more than $675 billion over the next ten years. Chief among these will be the sales tax on the purchase of health insurance, totaling $101.7 billion, and making it larger than all the other industry-specific taxes combined.

Compilation: When Animals Attack


Happy National Drink Wine Day!

Studies have shown that drinking a glass of wine a day improves heart health, reduces forgetfulness, boosts immunity, and increases bone density.

Norway plans 12-hour prime-time TV show of a fireplace. With ongoing commentary.

"We'll talk about the very nerdy subjects like burning, slicing and stacking the wood, but we'll also have cultural segments with music and poems," said Rune Moeklebust, a producer for state broadcaster NRK.

"It will be very slow but noble television."

Oops: NHS pays out £1million to men who have had the wrong testicle removed

Sound like a lot? Thinking you'd give up a ball for that much money? It's actually £20K each to 56 different men. They cut off the wrong testicle 56 times!

In most cases the men didn't need surgery at all and in others surgeons also had to remove the second testicle.

Methopoly: Breaking Bad Monopoly

[enlarge the board] via Pleated Jeans.

The 18 year old whose smartphone watch could beat Apple’s iWatch to market

Simon Tian says he has in-hand a working prototype of something nearly unprecedented in consumer electronics: a smartphone the size of a watch. Not just a smart watch, but an actual, fully-featured smartphone running Google’s Android software that straps onto your wrist. Along with his team of nine at the Montreal, Quebec-based startup Neptune, he’ll be unveiling it in mid-April. Tian is only 18 years old—the founder and youngest member of Neptune.

While Apple is reportedly working on a smartwatch as a supplement to a smartphone rather than an alternative to it, Tian wants to disrupt the smartphone category itself. “I looked at the mobile technology industry, and I just realized that there was a problem,” says Tian. “You have iPhones, iPads, MacBooks, TVs, PCs, and they’re all independent devices. But there’s no one single device that can provide all the functionality. I founded Neptune Computer in order to solve this issue.”

via Geekpress.

Have virgins ever been tossed into volcanoes to appease the gods?

Straight Dope takes on this important question.  Some excerpts:

As with so many popular beliefs, the answer boils down to: (1) this story is mostly Hollywood BS, but (2) not 100 percent. To get a better handle on things, let’s look at different permutations of the concept, starting with the least plausible and working up.

Virgins have been thrown into volcanoes to appease god(s).

Volcanoes suitable for throwing women into for the most part don't exist. The popular idea is that a volcanic cone has a lake of molten lava inside, perhaps with a rocky promontory jutting out from the rim to provide a convenient spot for victim-flinging. In reality, an erupting volcano typically spews lava up or outward from a cone, vent, or fissure, after which the lava flows laterally along the flattish surfaces nearby.

Virgins have been sacrificed on, if not in, volcanoes.

The mummified remains of numerous murdered Incan children, many of them female, have been found on the upper slopes of volcanoes in the Andes... Archaeologist Johan Reinhard, who led the expeditions that found the Ampato and Llullaillaco mummies, has conjectured that sacrifices at Ampato were intended to stop a volcanic eruption nearby. The site is only reachable when volcanic heat has melted the snow.

Humans, but especially children, have been sacrificed to the gods, or to accompany deceased rulers who presumably were going to join the gods. 

This is so abundantly and widely true that it may not seem worth mentioning, but we ought not to let our interest in a particularly baroque sacrificial mode blind us to the larger truth, namely that our species has slaughtered innocents by the uncountable thousands since antiquity.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Did you hear about that cruise ship?

The Health Benefits That Cut Your Pay

Not long ago, a 23-year-old woman joined my company as an assistant in the advertising sales department at a starting salary of $35,000. Smart, ambitious and poised, she should have a promising future. Unfortunately, her earnings prospects are threatened. Like many Americans, she’s unaware of how much of her compensation is being eaten up by health care costs, and how much this share will grow as long as the increase in health costs exceeds growth in gross domestic product. That’s just math.

My new employee thinks that she is paying roughly $2,600 for health care in her first year on the job — her $500 deductible plus her $2,100 share of the company’s health insurance premiums. In fact, she’s paying more than $10,000 into the country’s health care system. As her employer, our company will pay $6,190 of her health care costs, money that might otherwise go to her in salary. (From my point of view as a chief executive of a company, health care is just a different form of compensation.) She is also paying more than $1,500 in federal and state taxes to finance Medicare and Medicaid.

Clearly, personal health insurance is not the only way our employees pay into our health care system. There is the 1.45 percent of every paycheck that goes to Medicare, as well as the portion matched by the employer. Furthermore, a large slice of her general taxes are, in fact, health care costs: roughly 20 percent of federal spending and 10 percent of state spending support Medicare and Medicaid. She must pay for all of this.

Mark Steyn: Achieve Ye This Goal

‘I’m also issuing a new goal for America,” declared President Obama at his State of the Union on Tuesday. We’ll come to the particular “goal” he “issued” momentarily, but before we do, consider that formulation: Did you know the president of the United States is now in the business of “issuing goals” for his subjects to live up to?

And this:

Like BeyoncĂ© lip-synching the National Anthem at the inauguration, the State of the Union embodies the decay of America’s political institutions into a simulacrum of responsible government rather than the real thing, and a simulacrum ever more divorced from the real issues facing the country. “Over the last few years, both parties have worked together to reduce the deficit by more than $2.5 trillion,” said the president. Really? Who knew? “Now we need to finish the job.” Just one more push is all it’ll take.

What’s he on about? The annual “deficit” has been over a trillion for every year of Obama’s presidency. The cumulative deficits have, in fact (to use a quaint expression), increased the national debt by $6 trillion. Yet Obama claims Washington has “reduced the deficit” by $2.5 trillion and all we need to do is “finish the job.” Presumably this is a reference to allegedly agreed deficit reductions over the next decade, or quarter-century, or whatever. In other words, Obama has saved $2.5 trillion of Magical Fairyland money, which happily frees him up to talk about the really critical issues like high-speed rail and green-energy solutions.

Germany And Spain Throw Green Energy Under the Bus

Voters in Germany and Spain are getting tired of paying the huge subsidies, according to the WSJ:

Fearing a voter backlash from anger over the lopsided financing of green energy, Ms. Merkel’s government on Thursday proposed putting a cap on the green-energy surcharge until the end of 2014 and then restricting any rise in the surcharge after that to no more than 2.5% a year. The government also plans to tighten exemptions, which would force more companies to pay, and achieve a cut in green subsidies of €1.8 billion ($2.42 billion). The plan is a quick fix pending comprehensive reform after the election, government officials said.

Just a reminder: If renewable energy eventually becomes viable, it won’t need subsidies.  via American Interest.

“Covert” drone warfare requires a level of confidence in politicians that they will never deserve

Don't Trust the Government on Drones

Thomas Jefferson and others of his generation understood that government was simply not something to be trusted. Rather, it was a permanent object of suspicion, because it was uniquely positioned to steal our freedoms.

"It would be a dangerous delusion were a confidence in [politicians] to silence our fears for the safety of our rights: that confidence is everywhere the parent of despotism — free government is founded in jealousy, and not in confidence; it is jealousy and not confidence which prescribes limited constitutions, to bind down those whom we are obliged to trust with power."