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Saturday, May 4, 2013

Check Out This Horrifying Brazilian Testicle Mascot

The mascot, we are told, goes by the "Mr. Balls," and he works to raise awareness about testicular cancer. According to the AAPC website and courtesy of some Google-translating, "Both children and adults loved taking pictures with the mascot , a friendly snowman in the shape of testicle."

Is it the pubic hair that is so off-putting or the buckteeth? Definitely the buckteeth. Or maybe it's the bowl-cut. God, he (it?) is disturbing.

Here's a photo of Mr. Balls and a child:

Wallet made out of whale foreskin

Via Daily Caller: Because no two whale foreskins are alike, “As with a fingerprint, each Minke Dork has a unique hue, pattern and texture, ranging from a smooth sheen to a coarse cracked hide. Upon ordering, a series of images of each available finish will be presented for selection.”

The minke dork wallet comes at a whopping €1,850 — or $2,440.

Recht has conjured up a number of bizarre accessories and clothing items for his collection.

During Paris fashion week this past January, Recht unveiled the “Forget Me Knot” ring, which is made out of 24-karat gold and the salted and tanned skin of his own abdomen. He underwent a plastic surgery procedure, which he of course videotaped for Fashion’s sake, and had a 4.3 inch piece of flesh cut off his stomach in order to make a ring that no one will ever buy.

For his 2011 debut into the Fashion world, Recht made his first collection out of 21 blackbirds and 27 stillborn lambs.

Debunking Obama's ‘Most of the guns used in Mexico come from the US’

President Obama used a speech at Mexico’s Museo Nacional de Antropolog√≠a – the National Anthropology Museum – to claim that ‘most of the guns used to commit violence here in Mexico come from the United States.’

That concept has been debunked many times over - here's a analysis of the numbers from Stratfor from 2011, and many more are available.

This a a recycling of the old claim that "over 90 percent of the firearms originate from the U.S." when discussing seized weapons in Mexico in 2008.  What is left out, though, is that it's 90 percent of the traced guns - but a large percentage of the guns recovered in Mexico do not get sent back to the U.S. for tracing, because it is obvious from their markings that they do not come from the U.S.  The actual number was 3,480 out of 30K, or about 12%.

Must see: High Capacity Magazine PSA

Friday, May 3, 2013

Whale bone eating zombie worms

Science News:

So-called zombie worms — and yes, they actually exist — like to munch on whale bones for dinner. The creatures also use the bones for shelter. Spread throughout the world's oceans, zombie worms are quite adept at making the bones of whales and other large marine animals look like Swiss cheese.

But these worms don't have any mouthparts with which to gnaw the holes. So how do they do it? A study published in the May 1 online edition of the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B found that rather than being "bone-drilling" worms, they're actually "bone-dissolving" worms: The worms’ skin produces acid in large quantities to break down bones.

Friday links

Scientific American: Are Dogs Funnier Than Cats?

Why Firewood is Measured in Cords and the Origin of Other Odd Units of Measurement.

The history of men's underwear.

Excellent gallery of early science labs.  Somewhat related: here's Francis Crick's letter to his 12 yr old son describing his and James Watson's discovery of DNA.

17 Offbeat Holidays You Can Celebrate in May.

10 Incredible Camouflaged Animals.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

How did feathers evolve?

view the full lesson at TED-Ed

The trumpet lady... sounds exactly like a trumpet

Textile Company Creates Men’s Shirt That Doesn’t Require Washing and Ironing

As a test, he wore the same magic shirt for 100 days straight, without washing or ironing it.

Obama Continues His War on the Fourth Amendment

The Obama administration wants legislation enacted that will punish Internet service providers who fail to cooperate with FBI requests and court orders. The FBI has revealed that its agents often "lack the time" to obtain search warrants, and so they have gotten into the bad habit of asking Internet service providers to let them in without warrants.

This was notoriously done in the Bush-era, during which the feds promised immunity to telephone service providers that enabled the feds to spy on their customers. That spying was criminal and gave rise to civil causes of action for damages, as well, until Congress changed the law retroactively and granted the promised immunity after the Bush administration spying was exposed.

Some telephone providers declined the government requests then, and some Internet providers decline these requests today. Hence, the proposed legislation would punish those providers who protect the privacy of their customers by telling the FBI to go home.

The second category of punishment sought by the administration is for Internet service providers as to which the FBI has obtained a warrant. A search warrant typically authorizes the government to enter private premises and look for the specific items designated in the warrant. But it does not require the custodian of those specific items to find them for the government. This proposed legislation would change all that.

The government has subtly revealed that when it comes to digital data it often does not know what it is looking for, and its agents lack the skills to hook into the Internet providers' systems. This raises another set of questions, likely to escape members of Congress as they examine this latest assault on the Fourth Amendment.

The Framers were very careful when they wrote the Fourth Amendment, as it imposes the most explicit requirements on the government found anywhere in the Constitution. It requires that all search warrants "particularly describ(e) the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized." So, if the government follows the Constitution, it cannot seek what it is unable to identify, and it cannot compel the custodian of whatever records it is seeking to do its work for it.

Until now.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Festival-Goers Consume 110 Pounds of Testicles

Hey - this was local (Arlington, VA)! I can't believe I missed it!

The Montana State Society’s Testicle Festival in Virginia Square was a rousing success this year.

Festival-goers consumed 110 pounds of bull and bison testicles, 84 liters of Crown Royal and 1,500 cans of beer this year, according to event organizer and Society president Jed Link. All three were records for the event, now in its eighth year.

Organizers estimate that nearly 600 people attended the Testicle Festival, which was held at the American Legion post at 3445 Washington Boulevard. Even though the event didn’t start until 6:00 on Saturday evening, Link said a line started to form at 4:30 p.m.

The 24 People Who Decide Acceptable Speech On The Internet

Free speech on the internet decided by 24 key people:"Google, Twitter, Facebook and the new global battle over the future of free speech".

From the article: 
The deciders, of course, have blind spots of their own. Their hate-speech policies tend to reflect a bias toward the civility norms of U.S. workplaces; they identify speech that might get you fired if you said them at your job, but which would be legal if shouted at a rally, and try to banish that expression from the entire Internet.

But given their tremendous size and importance as platforms for free speech, companies like Facebook, Google, Yahoo, and Twitter shouldn’t try to be guardians of what Waldron calls a “well-orderedsociety”; instead, they should consider themselves the modern version of Oliver Wendell Holmes’s fractious marketplace of ideas—democratic spaces where all values, including civility norms, are always open for debate.
via GeekPress.

Meet Drone Shield: $70 open-source drone detection system

The Drone Shield would combine a Raspberry Pi, a signal processor, a microphone, and analysis software to scan for specific audio signatures and compare them against what known drones sound like. (Because obviously a Predator drone is going to sound very different than a small quadcopter.)

High schooler blows stuff up for science — ends up charged with a felony

BoingBoing: A Florida high school student with an interest in science mixed together aluminum foil and toilet bowl cleaner as an experiment. To her surprise, the mixture exploded. Unfortunately for Kiera Wilmot, she tried her experiment on school grounds.

It was a small explosion, and nobody was hurt. Wilmot was, otherwise, a good student with a perfect behavior record. But the school chose to expel her, have her arrested, and is supporting her being charged with a felony as an adult.

Scientists across the country are not amused. Biologist Danielle Lee writes about this incident in context with the discipline gap that treats minority kids more harshly for small infractions.

Through Twitter, scientists and educators speak up about the things they blew up for science, under the hashtag #KieraWilmot.

Why Firewood is Measured in Cords and the Origin of Other Odd Units of Measurement


Using the word as a unit of measurement, “cord” is traced back to the 1610s when wood was sold in bundles tied with a, you guessed it, cord. Today, it is well recognized that a cord of firewood must take up 128 cubic feet, traditionally in a stack 8′ x 4′ x 4′. As with other units of measurement, the size of a cord of wood is typically regulated, either by a state or national government.


A measure of depth, fathom is derived from either or both the Old English word faeom or the Old Saxon word fathmos, both meaning the length of the outstretched arms. Like the other measurements, it was eventually standardized, this one to the length of two yards, which is approximately how far it is between the tips of a man’s fingertips when his arms are extended. Although international nautical charts have converted to meters, in the United States, measuring depth with fathoms and feet is still in vogue.


Derived from the old French words boissel and boisseau, a bushel is a measure of dry goods, typically grains, equal to about eight gallons (or four pecks). Today, it is most commonly used to measure things by their weight, and that weight varies depending on the commodity measured. Typical goods sold by the bushel (and their weights) include oats (32lb), malted barley (34lb), corn (56lb), wheat (60lb) and soybeans (60lb).


How many pickled peppers did Peter Piper pick? It turns out, by peck, Peter picked about two gallons worth of peppers. Peck probably derived from the Old French, pek or picot, and is also a measure of dry goods or commodities. Some retailers, farmers at markets and roadside stands still sell fruits and vegetables by the peck, particularly during canning season; however, it is much more common today to find them sold by either the quart or the pound.


Know has been uses to measure the speed of a ship since the 1630s. Knot derives from the word of the same spelling meaning “intertwined ropes”. To measure speed back in the day, a long rope had knots tied regularly, about every 50 feet, and a log tied to the end. The log was dropped into the water and a sandglass upended at the same time to time how many knots per time unit. Eventually, the speed of one knot became standardized at one nautical mile (6076 feet) per hour.


The baby of the bunch, the measurement Mach was named after Ernst Mach and coined in 1937. Not really a measure of speed, the Mach numbers represent the ratio of the speed of an object moving through a fluid (a gas, like the atmosphere, can be a fluid here) and the local speed of sound. With Mach numbers between 1.2 and 5, supersonic vehicles like the F-104 Starfighter and the Concorde travel at speeds between 915 and 3840 miles per hour. When the Space Shuttles re-entered the atmosphere, they initially traveled at a speed greater than Mach 25!

From Today I Found Out, which has related articles:

One Calorie is Equivalent to One Gram of TNT in Terms of Energy

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Gosnell Case Goes to the Jury

Jack McMahon, Kermit Gosnell’s defense attorney, told the jury during closing arguments in the abortionist’s trial that the description of Gosnell’s clinic as a “house of horrors” is a “political press fabrication.”

According to the Associated Press, McMahon showed jurors pictures of a neat waiting room and other areas of Gosnell’s clinic, providing them as proof that the “house of horrors” designation was a misnomer.

McMahon also repeated what he said in his opening remarks that the case against his client is an elitist and racist prosecution against Gosnell, 72, who is black.

Monday, April 29, 2013

The Coming ObamaCare Shock

In total, it appears that there will be 30 million to 40 million people damaged in some fashion by the Affordable Care Act—more than one in 10 Americans. When that reality becomes clearer, the law is going to start losing its friends in the media, who are inclined to support the president and his initiatives. We'll hear about innocent victims who saw their premiums skyrocket, who were barred from seeing their usual doctor, who had their hours cut or lost their insurance entirely—all thanks to the faceless bureaucracy administering a federal law.

Dem resolution: Global Warming Will Force Women Into Prostitution

via Gateway Pundit: Congressional Democrats are calling on the House to recognize that climate change is dangerous and forcing women into prostitution.
The Hill reported:
Several House Democrats are calling on Congress to recognize that climate change is hurting women more than men, and could even drive poor women to “transactional sex” for survival.
The resolution, from Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) and a dozen other Democrats, says the results of climate change include drought and reduced agricultural output. It says these changes can be particularly harmful for women.
“[F]ood insecure women with limited socioeconomic resources may be vulnerable to situations such as sex work, transactional sex, and early marriage that put them at risk for HIV, STIs, unplanned pregnancy, and poor reproductive health,” it says.
Climate change could also add “workload and stresses” on female farmers, which the resolution says produce 60 to 80 percent of the food in developing countries.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Enormous Bedpan Collection

That's an enormous collection of bedpans, not a collection of enormous bedpans.  via Weird Universe.

Hamlet's Cat's Soliloquy

It's been a long time since I posted this, and my daughter-in-law's annoying cat reminded me of it this morning:

To go outside, and there perchance to stay
Or to remain within: that is the question:
Whether 'tis better for a cat to suffer
The cuffs and buffets of inclement weather
That Nature rains on those who roam abroad,
Or take a nap upon a scrap of carpet,
And so by dozing melt the solid hours
That clog the clock's bright gears with sullen time
And stall the dinner bell. To sit, to stare
Outdoors, and by a stare to seem to state
A wish to venture forth without delay,
Then when the portal's opened up, to stand
As if transfixed by doubt. To prowl; to sleep;
To choose not knowing when we may once more
Our readmittance gain: aye, there's the hairball;
For if a paw were shaped to turn a knob,
Or work a lock or slip a window-catch,
And going out and coming in were made
As simple as the breaking of a bowl,
What cat would bear the household's petty plagues,
The cook's well-practiced kicks, the butler's broom,
The infant's careless pokes, the tickled ears,
The trampled tail, and all the daily shocks
That fur is heir to, when, of his own free will,
He might his exodus or entrance make
With a mere mitten? Who would spaniels fear,
Or strays trespassing from a neighbor's yard,
But that the dread of our unheeded cries
And scratches at a barricaded door
No claw can open up, dispels our nerve
And makes us rather bear our humans' faults
Than run away to unguessed miseries?
Thus caution doth make house cats of us all;
And thus the bristling hair of resolution
Is softened up with the pale brush of thought,
And since our choices hinge on weighty things,
We pause upon the threshold of decision.
~by Henry Beard, “Poetry for Cats

Francis Crick's letter to his 12 yr old son describing his and James Watson's discovery

In 1953, English biologist Francis Crick wrote a letter to his 12-year-old son Michael, describing a discovery he and his colleague had recently made.

In the letter, Crick sketches what is now perhaps one of the most famous scientific diagrams in world—the structure of DNA.

19 Portugal Place Cambridge
19 March ’53
My Dear Michael,
Jim Watson and I have probably made a most important discovery. We have built a model for the structure of de-oxy-ribose-nucleic-acid (read it carefully) called D.N.A. for short. You may remember that the genes of the chromosomes — which carry the hereditary factors — are made up of protein and D.N.A.
Our structure is very beautiful. D.N.A. can be thought of roughly as a very long chain with flat bits sticking out. The flat bits are called the “bases”. The formula is rather like this.

Big Brother Has A New Face, And It's Your Boss

Read the whole article by Dr. Paul Hseih, writing at Forbes:
Recently, the CVS Caremark Corporation began requiring employees to disclose personal health information (including weight, blood pressure, and body fat levels) or else pay an annual $600 fine. Workers must make this information available to the company’s employee “Wellness Program” and sign a form stating that they’re doing so voluntarily.
CVS argues this will help workers “take more responsibility for improving their health.” At one level, this makes a certain sense. Because the company is paying for their employees’ health insurance, they naturally prefer healthier workers. But at a deeper level, CVS’ action demonstrates a growing problem with our current system of employer-provided health insurance. If our bosses must pay for our health care, they will inevitably seek greater control over our lifestyles.