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Saturday, March 2, 2013

CPAC Turns Away Pamela Geller

Not clear to me from this article why.

Smothered by safety: the dark side of overprotecting kids

Walter Olson at the excellent Overlawyered links to the Lenore Skenazy (of the also excellent Free Range Kids blog) piece at Cato:

Throughout history until just very recently, tree stumps were things for kids to stand on, jump off, sit on, or use as tables for tea parties. But seen through the lens of risk, they are simply hazards.

That’s the lens government is looking through all the time. If to a hammer everything looks like a nail, to a government agency charged with protecting children, everything looks like a health threat, death trap, or predator.

But the dark side of protecting kids is how easily this slips into over-protecting them from ever doing or encountering anything on their own, and insisting on constant oversight of everything they might encounter. At its very worst, whether out of real concern or political pandering, the government steps in and tells parents that their children are in such danger that only the authorities can do a good enough job of protecting them.

The message to parents? The government is better at raising your kids than you are. The message to kids? You are weak little babies. The government will swaddle you in safety.

Previous: Helmet laws may be reducing kids' head injuries by encouraging kids to ride bikes less

Boy, 7, suspended for chewing pastry into shape of a gun

At Park Elementary school, Josh was enjoying his breakfast pastry when he decided to try and shape it into a mountain.

Josh said, "It was already a rectangle and I just kept on biting it and biting it and tore off the top and it kinda looked like a gun but it wasn't."

Car paintball: Audi stages a duel (Video)

More at DVICE.

The Italian Crisis, 5 minute video by Marginal Revolution

Friday, March 1, 2013

Russian meteorite exploded in air instead of hitting the ground because a UFO shot it down

It's in the Daily Mail, so it must be true.  
  • Theory is based on analysis of several different pieces of footage
  • U.F.O. watchers claim object seen close by could be a U.F.O.
  • They suggest alien 'guardian angels' blasted rock to minimise threat 
  • Reports of a surge in UFO sightings in the Urals before the strike
The meteorite that crashed on Russia was hit by an unidentified flying object causing it to explode and shatter over the Urals, it has been claimed.

U.F.O enthusiasts insist a small 'object' can be seen colliding with the meteorite on its trajectory through the atmosphere, despite the fact there were no reports of Russia launching missiles to down the celestial intruder, they claim. 

3 new giant cockroach species found

They're a little more than an inch long in length in adulthood, which sounds like plenty.

Helmet laws may be reducing kids' head injuries by encouraging kids to ride bikes less

Cycling is popular among children, but results in thousands of injuries annually. In recent years, many states and localities have enacted bicycle helmet laws. We examine direct and indirect effects of these laws on injuries. Using hospital-level panel data and triple difference models, we find helmet laws are associated with reductions in bicycle-related head injuries among children. However, laws also are associated with decreases in non-head cycling injuries, as well as increases in head injuries from other wheeled sports. Thus, the observed reduction in bicycle-related head injuries may be due to reductions in bicycle riding induced by the laws.

Friday links

Why did men stop wearing high heels?

3D-printed plastic car.

When animals used to be put on trial.

Solving A Rubik’s Cube While Juggling It.

Bizarre experimental tanks.

400K piece Lego Hogwarts replica.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

What do you call a Pope who resigns?

The Walrus Workout

A walrus and his trainer do sit-ups, push-ups and leg raises

via Presurfer.

Paging Glenn Reynolds: must read Conrad Black article on Broken Justice

Read the whole thing.  When asked for an overview of the American justice system:

These are, in the briefest synopsis, that American prosecutors win 99.5 percent of their cases, a much higher percentage than those in other civilized countries; that 97 percent of them are won without trial, because of the plea-bargain system in which inculpatory evidence is extorted from witnesses in exchange for immunity from prosecution, including for perjury; that the U.S. has six to twelve times as many incarcerated people per capita as do Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, or the United Kingdom, comparably prosperous democracies; that the U.S. has 5 percent of the world’s population, 25 percent of its incarcerated people, and half of its academically qualified lawyers, who take about 10 percent of U.S. GDP; that prosecutors enjoy very uneven advantages in procedure and an absolute immunity for misconduct; that they routinely seize targets’ money on false affidavits alleging ill-gotten gains so they cannot defend themselves by paying rapacious American lawyers, most of whom in criminal-defense matters are just a fig leaf to provide a pretense of a genuine day in court before blind justice; that the Fifth, Sixth, and Eighth Amendment rights that are the basis of the American claim to being a society of laws don’t really exist in practice; and that far too many judges are ex-prosecutors who have not entirely shed the almost universal prosecutorial will to crucify.

And this:

...indulging the conveyor belt to the corrupt and bloated U.S. prison industry that is its criminal-justice system in such a full-body immersion of misplaced praise is not just unrigorous and unwise. There is something totalitarian, and thus profoundly un-American, about it.

High School basketball player passes ball to mentally challenged player on the other team

via @JonahNRO who says it may be the best thing you see all day...or year. He's right.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Prehistoric sharks with buzzsaws in their mouths.

Prehistoric sharks with buzzsaws in their mouths.

"If schoolteachers were overwhelmingly male and girls were suffering as a result..."

"... there would be a national outcry and Title IX-style gender equity legislation would be touted."

via Althouse, who makes a good point:

We expect males to solve their own problems. There's no tradition of helping and help-seeking as there is with females. Ironically, that tradition of helping females is patronizing and paternalistic. Whether it's good for government to serve female interests like that or not, it's hard to transfer that nurturing attention onto boys. Is portraying boys as victims good for boys? 

Brilliant: Physicist Builds a Machine to Separate Oreo Cookies

Seed lending library

Here's how it works: A library card gets you a packet of seeds. You then grow the fruits and vegetables, harvest the new seeds from the biggest and best, and return those seeds so the library can lend them out to others.

Syson says tending a garden in Western Colorado can be frustrating. The dry climate, alkaline soils and short growing season keep many novices from starting. She'll take seeds from the plants that withstand pests and persevere through drought.

"If you save seed from those plants, already, in one generation, you will now be able to grow a plant that has those traits," Syson says.

Argo/Home Alone Mashup

via Pleated Jeans.

A Supercut of Sneezing Dogs

via Laughing Squid.

Wednesday links

Why school buses are yellow.

Travel by pneumatic tube: 1905 predictions and the Jetsons.

From Quacks To Quaaludes: Three Centuries Of Drug Advertising.

How many unique English tweets are possible?

Physicist Builds a Machine to Separate Oreo Cookies.

Pollution which is 'shrinking' otter penises could be affecting humans too

Scientists have discovered a worrying trend in 'shrinking' male sex organs in otters and warn it could start be affecting humans too.

According to the, research conducted by the Cardiff University Otter Project has found a decrease in the size of penis bones in male otters along with other changes that gave 'cause for concern' about the size of sex organs.

Travel by pneumatic tube: 1905 predictions and the Jetsons

Interesting article at Smithsonian:

“We may take it for granted that every well-equipped business office will be in direct communication, by means of large-calibred pneumatic tubes, with the nearest post-office. And however rapidly and however frequently the trains or airships of the period may travel, the process of making up van loads of mail matter for despatch to remote centres, and redistribution there, is far too clumsy for what commerce will demand a hundred years hence. No doubt the soil of every civilised country will be permeated by vast networks of pneumatic tubes: and all letters and parcels will be thus distributed at a speed hardly credible to-day.”

And here's George Jetson:

Not The Onion: Onion-like Real Headlines

This site collects them.

Man Tries to Rob a Bank After Paying $500 to a Wizard to Make Him Invisible.

Texas bans shooting immigrants from helicopters.

Court Rules Arizona Can Prosecute Sober People for Driving Under the Influence.

China Bans Reincarnation Without Government Permission.

via Geekpress.

EPA Increases Mandates For Fuels That Don't Exist

Energy: In yet another green folly, the lawless Environmental Protection Agency continues to fine gasoline producers for not using cellulosic biofuels in quantities that don't exist, making only more pain at the pump.

Last month, a federal court dealt a serious blow to the Environmental Protection Agency's renewable fuels push by ruling that the agency exceeded its authority by mandating refiners use cellulosic biofuels, which aren't commercially available. The EPA's lawless response in a lawless administration was to raise its requirements.

Monday, February 25, 2013

John Kerry invents country of Kyrzakhstan

The State Department kindly omitted the error in the official transcript of Wednesday's speech, which Mr Kerry delivered on the eve of his first foreign trip as secretary of state.

Mr Kerry's flub was all the more awkward, because Kyrgyzstan is a key ally in the U.S.-led war in Afghanistan and a major recipient of US aid, which totalled $41 million (£27 million) in 2011.

Scientists trace the boozing gene

The boozing gene can be traced back 10 million years to the common ancestor humans share with chimpanzees and gorillas, new research claims.

It is believed these ancient forebears were the first to pick up fruits fermenting on the ground after they developed a lifestyle away from the trees.

Individuals able to stomach the boozy fruit would have survived better in this new environment than those who could not, programming the ability into their descendants' genetic codes.

Monday links

Bubble bursting in extreme slow motion.  And here's the science of how bubbles form.

Chicken stolen from crock pot.

Can Hand Sanitizer Ignite? Well, yes.

From 1799, a list of risk factors for spontaneous combustion.  Also from the "old" category, here's an 1891 Photo of Marcel Proust Playing Air Guitar on a Tennis Racket.

Marriage proposal in the form of a physics paper.

When animals used to be put on trial

In the fall of 1457, villagers in Savigny, France witnessed a sow and six piglets attack and kill a 5-year-old boy. Today, the animals would be summarily killed. But errant 15th-century French pigs went to court. And it wasn’t for a show trial—this was the real deal, equipped with a judge, two prosecutors, eight witnesses, and a defense attorney for the accused swine. Witness testimony proved beyond reasonable doubt that the sow had killed the child. The piglets’ role, however, was ambiguous. Although splattered with blood, they were never seen directly attacking the boy. The judge sentenced the sow to be hanged by her hind feet from a “gallows tree.” The piglets, by contrast, were exonerated.

Such a case might seem bizarre to modern observers, but animal trials were commonplace public events in medieval and early modern Europe. Pigs, cows, goats, horses, and dogs that allegedly broke the law were routinely subjected to the same legal proceedings as humans. In a court of law, they were treated as persons. These somber affairs, which always adhered to the strictest legal procedures, reveal a bygone mentality according to which some animals possessed moral agency.