Friday, February 29, 2008

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Another amusing Google hit

For ahhh... bach!

Easy week

Easy stuff at work this week, except that I still have to work another Saturday. Sometimes I wish they'd let me do more during the week so I wouldn't have to work Saturday. Oh well, this should be the last Saturday for at least a month.

Random 10 on Winamp:

Crosby, Stills & Nash -- Lady of the Island
R.E.M. -- Burning Hell
Michelle Shocked -- When I Grow Up
Poi Dog Pondering -- Praise the Lord
America -- A Horse with No Name
Velvet Underground -- European Son
Enya -- I Want Tomorrow
Zero 7 -- Distractions
Doug Kershaw -- Diggy Diggy Lo
Stanley Turrentine -- Sugar

Earliest citations for SF words

The Oxford English Dictionary is trying to find the earliest usage of words now commonly related to science fiction:
Welcome to the new version of the Oxford English Dictionary's science fiction words site. The base project was originally set up so that knowledgeable aficionados could help the OED find useful examples of words in their fields of interest. This first project, and still the only public one, is devoted to science fiction.

While the original version of the site was focused on the OED's needs alone, this version should be of broader interest to anyone interested in science fiction, whether or not they are able to help the OED's research. The most notable change is that a view of an individual term will also pull in all the examples of that term collected for the OED's databases from science fiction sources. We are also making an attempt to rewrite entries to provide clearer definitions, background history, and more. Please stay with us as we continue to improve the site.

The OED aims to include all words that are frequently used in any field, and attempts to find the earliest example of every sense of every word it includes. For SF the OED needs earlier examples of terms it already includes, early examples of terms that have been slated for future inclusion, and any examples of terms that have not yet caught the editors' attention but are common in SF. Words used infrequently, words associated chiefly with a single author, or words so specialized that they are found only in a single subgenre, or in relation to a single author, movie, etc., are not high priorities for inclusion.
The list starts here.

Thanks to Brer via email.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Aliens want Dr. Pepper

From Frank Warren's UFO Breaking News:
Investigators with Mutual UFO Network (MUFON) collected seventeen new UFO sighting reports in Dublin, Texas, on Saturday, Feb. 23.

The sound of red

From Times Online:
A colour-blind artist who could only recognise black and white shades has learnt how to paint with a full palette by “hearing” the hues he cannot see.

Neil Harbisson, 25, has been fitted with a device called an Eyeborg, which converts 360 colours into different sounds.

Now he is to mount his first London exhibition, showing city scenes such as red phone boxes in London and brightly coloured recycling banks in Barcelona.

Harbisson, whose exhibition will arrive in London in April, after opening in Barcelona, said: “When I paint it is as if I am composing music on a canvas.”

As an art student at Dartington College of Arts in Devon, he painted only in black and white because that is all he saw. But three years ago he met Adam Montandon, a cybernetics expert who came to give a lecture at the college.

After the talk, Montandon was told of Harbisson’s condition and he took up the challenge of solving the problem, enabling Harbisson to paint in colour. The artist suffers from achromatopsia – or complete congenital colour blindness.

Montandon decided to harness the way in which different colours reflect light at different frequencies, with light vibrating fastest from violet and slowest from red.

The first device fitted to Harbisson’s head was fairly primitive, letting him “hear” only six colours. His current model is far more sophisticated, giving him access to 360 colours.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Something new to worry about?

From the San Francisco Chronicle:
In addition to everything else to worry about, now comes the Burmese python.

The giant snakes are slithering from Florida toward the Bay Area, very slowly to be sure, but inexorably. And they can strangle and eat an entire alligator.

The U.S. Geological Survey released a map Wednesday showing that the Bay Area has comfortable climatic conditions for the python. It also said the reptile, which prefers to swallow its prey in one gulp, is "highly adaptable to new environments" and cannot be stopped.

The snakes weigh up to 250 pounds and slither at a rate of 20 miles per month, according to USGS zoologist Gordon Rodda. They are not staying put. In fact, one of them has already slithered about 100 miles toward San Francisco.

"We have not yet identified something that would stop their spreading to the Bay Area," Rodda said.
Here's my favorite part:
The natural enemies of the python are lions, tigers and other large cats. There are few free-roaming African lions and tigers between Florida and San Francisco, the geological survey said.
I hope this is only a tongue-in-cheek article, because I think San Franciscans probably have more immediate things to worry about than Burmese pythons showing up there in 2020. But if they are heading west from Florida, I suppose they will have to pass through Texas, which will give me a perfect opportunity to test the long-standing question: Can the 7.62x54R cartridge, in fact, stop a Burmese python?

One can only wait and hope for such an opportunity.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Another murder at a school

In China. Details at The Copycat Effect: China: Fatal School Attack.

The murderer killed two and injured four more before killing himself--which always happens in these kinds of attacks.

With a knife.

Good thing guns are banned in China. Somebody could get really hurt.

UPDATE: And Mr. Coleman follows up with a rundown of recent mass murder school stabbings in places where legal gun ownership is not allowed.

Gone Smoke

I was sent a free sample of this stuff called Gone Smoke THE Smoke Smell Eliminator.
You've found it! Gone Smoke™ Eliminates Smoke Smell. It's the size of a pen! Carry with you in your pocket, purse, briefcase, diaper bag, backpack and more! Gone Smoke™ REALLY works. It removes odor from clothes and fabrics. It actually eliminates odor. No more smoke smell! No more food smells! Your clothes smell fresh and clean with no residual fragrance. Try Gone Smoke™ today! Available soon in Convenience Stores and Travel and Truck Centers.
I really hate so-called "deodorizers" that just overlay everything with some flowery smell. Chances are I'll have a worse reaction to it than the original bad smell. I'll probably have an allergic reaction and sneeze terribly. I don't even like the famous sprays like Lysol. All they do is clog up my sinuses.

Gone Smoke isn't like that. It does initially have a sort of odor, but it's a neutral, "fresh" sort of odor and isn't flowery. More importantly, it doesn't make me clog up and start sneezing. Twenty to thirty minutes after spraying, there is no odor at all that I can discern.

This stuff was originally made to eliminate cigarette odor, but I don't smoke them (never have), so I had to try it out on pipe smoke. I can almost never smell my own smoke afterwards, but I sprayed some on my shirt and then asked my kids what it smelled like about an hour later. Their answer was, "Nothing." I also sprayed down my truck's seats and carpeting and it did freshen the air considerably.

This is an unpaid blog post--except for the original free sample. When I use it up, I'll have to buy more like anyone else. If this is something you might find useful, follow the link and check it out. In my opinion, it works.

Okie Vikings

Official history takes a hit from Vikings in Oklahoma:
It sounds a little bit like the plot of a Hollywood movie starring Antonio Bandaras. But residents of Heavener maintain that around 900 A.D, Vikings paddled their longships down the Eastern Seaboard, around the tip of Florida, through the Gulf of Mexico, up the Mississippi and Arkansas rivers and then traveled overland into Eastern Oklahoma – where they put up a billboard.

Okay, they may have built settlements and planted crops, but none of those things have been found. What has been found is a large flat stone – twelve feet high, ten feet wide, sixteen inches thick, rectangular in shape and sitting in a mountaintop ravine – with six-inch high Norse runes carved deeply into it.

Translations of the runes vary. Some people maintain that they're a date – November 11, 1012, while others say that they read “Glome's Valley,” as either a land claim or a kind of early Viking graffiti.

Whether Vikings actually were in Oklahoma, they came and left long ago. And the evidence that they were here might have lived on in obscurity if not for a few key events.

Flash forward in time to 1838, when thousands of Native Americans were forcibly moved from Tennessee into Eastern Oklahoma. The new arrivals noticed the stone, which became known as Indian Rock by European settlers – even though the carvings were not recognized by anyone as either Native or Latin writing.

In the 1920's a Heavener resident sent copies of the runes to the Smithsonian for identification. The Museum wrote back to say that the writing was Norse, but that it didn't make sense for Norsemen to have made them. In all likelihood, museum officials reasoned, a Scandinavian settler must have made the carvings by working from a primary school grammar book from his homeland.

As settlers moved into the area, they found more and more of these engraved stones. However most of them were destroyed by treasure hunters. The same fate might have befallen the runestone, if not for the efforts of Gloria Farley, a local school teacher.

Farley researched and wrote extensively about the stone. Through her efforts, the name of the stone was changed from Indian Rock to The Heavener Runestone, and the Heavener Runestone State park was established. Eventually, she found four more examples of Viking Runes carved into the Oklahoma landscape. Some of these are now on display in the Heavner Runestone State park.

So did Vikings settle in rural Eastern Oklahoma? Authorities in history say no. What is known however is that Norsemen did establish settlements in Newfoundland and similar stones with Runic writing have been found in Minnesota.
They are Viking runes, are they not?

Yes.

And the rock is old enough that it could have been carved by Vikings, right?

Yes.

But it wasn't carved by Vikings?

No.

Can you explain why not?

No, just trust us. We tell you what really happened over a thousand years ago, and don't you dare believe anything different.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Weird

I'm getting a sort of 'lanche from that Blogspot "next blog" button. S0mething like 150 hits in the last two hours or so. Anyone else seeing any unusual activity?

No, just one well-placed rock

I'm sure someone somewhere will get their knickers in a knot over this, but I think it's pretty cool--although in general I am not a fan of mecha.

There's also a manga Bible, which I might actually have to buy, just to check it out.

via Cabinet of Wonders

The curative properties of tobacco

From The Hindu News Update Service:
New Delhi (PTI): Tobacco will now be used for manufacturing cancer and cardiac drugs with the Central Tobacco Research Institute (CTRI) bagging the patent for 'solanesol' -- a medicinal substance extracted from tobacco.

Solanesol, a white crystalline powder derived from tobacco's green leaf, has curative effects against cardiac insufficiency, muscular dystrophy, anaemia, cancer, diabetes, high blood pressure, asthma and liver injury. "Many pharmaceutical companies have approached us for carrying out clinical trials for the usage of solanesol as anti-cancer and anti-diabetic drugs," CTRI Director V Krishna Murthy told PTI.

Solanesol is rich in Coenzyme Q10 -- a physiologically active substance with high pharmaceutical value. "Solanesol has excellent prospects in future as drug and CTRI would soon distribute the rights for production of drugs in the market," Murthy said. A letter granting the patent for solanesol was received by CTRI in October last year from Controller of Patents.

The project of deriving solanesol from tobacco was a collaborative programme between CTRI and Central Drug Research Institute (CDRI), Lucknow. CTRI used chewing tobacco variety Abirmani grown in Tamil Nadu and HDBRG tobacco cultivated in black soils of Guntur in Andhra Pradesh for extracting solanesol.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

I hate working on Saturday

And the auto-fill indicates that I've used this exact title before, heh. Especially on the west side, known for unsecured dangerous dogs. But today was not so bad. I picked up a mascot for about 45 minutes. A "mascot" is what I call a friendly dog that decides to follow me around for a while. This was some slightly larger than medium-sized female mutt that was very friendly. A bonus is that most dogs are far more concerned with a strange dog invading their space than they are with a strange human, so I was ignored by just about every other dog for the rest of my route.

The funny thing about this dog was that she appeared to be flaunting her freedom at the other dogs. She would walk right up to the fence at every house and let the dogs inside go nuts barking at her, all the while standing there looking at them without ever barking or making any sound at all, as if she were saying, "Ha ha ha. I'm free and you're not." Sometimes she would run around corners and back again just to screw with the dogs that couldn't get out. It cracked me up.

Another thought: I just don't understand how anyone can get by without a multi-tool. I've been carrying a Leatherman Kick for a few years now, and before that I carried a Coleman tool for several years. There have been times when I would have been lost without it, and I don't know how anyone can walk around without such a tool at their immediate disposal. I'm about to get my first adsense payout, and I think I'll take it and buy a new Wave (plus a box of ammo or two). I like the one-handed opening lockblades that the Wave has. It also has a saw, which I know will prove useful on occasion.

It seems that the prices on some Leatherman tools have gone down. Didn't the Wave used to cost around $80? I noticed Cheaper Than Dirt has them for only $58, and walmart.com lists them at $59.94.

Saturday Vintage Gun Ad (1958): Browning Superposed

click to enlarge

Which is apparently just a fancy way to say "over-and-under double-barreled shotgun."

Friday, February 22, 2008

Odd

Yesterday I started getting hits from Google itself, that is, Google Inc., Mountain View, California. That's a first for me.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Actually, it's all dark

I did not see the eclipse last night. I could have, but I am still suffering the after-effects of last week's cold, and I took some dope and went to sleep.

I did stay up late one night many years ago to watch a total lunar eclipse. I parked my truck in the empty field near my dad's house (which is now a tank--or pond, to non-Texans), and spent a few hours watching the eclipse with a cheap telescope that I had gotten for subscribing to Discovery magazine and listening to Pink Floyd on the truck's cassette deck. It was such a magical experience, I feel reluctant to sully its memory by trying to recapture that magic again.

And yesterday I spotted my first Indian paintbrush of the year. A lonely pair of flowers on South Foster Road. Although I guess if there were a pair of them, they really weren't that lonely.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Shudder...

I don't like amphibians. I don't know what it is. I'm not all that fond of reptiles, either, but my reaction upon seeing a snake is to try and get closer so I can get a good look at it.

Frogs and turtles I don't need to get a good look at. I just don't like them. Why this particular phobia seems constrained to amphibians is beyond my understanding. It simply is. I have overcome my aversion to frogs enough that I can catch them to use for fish bait, and I can pick up a bullfrog as long as it's good and dead. That is, I have personally just put a .22 bullet through it's head.

Toads? Toads are the ultimate evil. One reason I wear a leather glove while working is so I can reach into a dirty meter box without having to worry about coming into direct physical contact with a toad. If you ever, for some reason that I'd prefer not to have explained, need a toad, just start looking in water meter boxes.

I hesitate to write this post in fear that some day someone is going to Winston Smith me with a box full of toads.

So why did I write it? So you'll know why this article about the Devil Frog made me shudder in revulsion.

That sucker's huge!

Click to enlarge and you can read the caption.

We got to see this thing come through. After church services were over on Sunday, we went to a local Mexican restaurant to eat, and managed to park while this was still a few hundred yards down the highway. We stood outside and watched it until it had passed.

What you can't see in this photo is that this thing was not only being towed--there was a second truck behind it pushing it. They had to use a cherry-picker to lift overhead electric lines so it could fit beneath. The traffic lights you see in this photo are on the other end of town, and are on cables so they could be lifted. The lights in the center of town are mounted on metal posts and overhangs. When it got to that stoplight, they had to twist it slightly sideways so it could squeak through the lights.

It was quite a show for a Sunday afternoon in La Vernia.

A link! A link!

Logged on this morning to find a link from Pipe Lore to my new blog The Briar Files. Pretty cool.

Pipe Lore posts an excellent weekly roundup of pipe-related news and information which may be seen here.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Back from blogging limbo

Blimbo?

TriggerFinger has begun blogging again. If you are reading my blog, but not reading his, you have your priorities wrong.

The Immortal Castro

Heard this on the radio this morning, so I just G00gl3d up the news article. From Sioux City Journal:
"This is not my farewell to you," he wrote. "My only wish is to fight as a soldier in the battle of ideas. I shall continue to write under the title, 'Reflections of Comrade Fidel.' It will be another weapon you can count on. Perhaps my voice will be heard."
My prediction: "Castro" will continue to write for years and years. He will still be "alive" when Raul kicks the bucket and will appoint the next successor. He'll be at least 100 years old before it's officially acknowledged that he's dead.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Very cool

A briar pipe patterned after a 2,000-year-old oil lamp found in the Holy Land. Read all about it at A Passion for Pipes.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Another unusual Kaywoodie: The Allbriar

A Kaywoodie Allbriar on eBay. The only pipe I've ever heard of that was made with a briar bit.

U.K. starts the War On Water

Environmental nannyism decides what's moral and immoral:
Drinking bottled water should be made as unfashionable as smoking, according to a government adviser.

"We have to make people think that it's unfashionable just as we have with smoking. We need a similar campaign to convince people that this is wrong," said Tim Lang, the Government's naural resources commissioner.

Phil Woolas, the environment minister, added that the amount of money spent on mineral water "borders on being morally unacceptable".

Their comments come as new research shows that drinking a bottle of water has the same impact on the environment as driving a car for a kilometre. Conservation groups and water providers have started a campaign against the £2 billion industry.

A BBC Panorama documentary, "Bottled Water: Who Needs It?", to be broadcast tomorrow says that in terms of production, a litre bottle of Evian or Volvic generates up to 600 times more CO2 than a litre of tap water.
Water. Your body is 70% of it. If you don't drink it, you die. But they decide how you drink it, and they decide what to put into the government swill coming out of the tap.

via Samizdata

Saturday, February 16, 2008

The Horror From the Hills

I don't want to be accused of preternatural favoritism, so here's something not Cthulhu for a change.

Chaugnar Faughn was created by Lovecraft's friend a fellow weird tale author (and editor) Frank Belknap Long in the story "The Horror From the Hills."

More unspeakably eldritch sculpture at The Stygian Depths.

An interesting comment regarding NIU

From Playing the Odds by David Calderwood:
I’ve been to NIU’s campus many times over the past six years. One notable fact was the ubiquity of armed campus police officers. For a person who attended a small Midwestern university thirty years ago where the three campus policemen didn’t even carry guns during the school year, it took some getting used to, having armed cops hanging around in every dorm and seemingly on half the street corners I drove past.

The head of NIU’s Campus Police stated that officers arrived at the lecture hall within two minutes of the shooting. By then the shooter had killed himself, leaving an obvious tragedy in his wake (six dead victims as of this writing). As Greg Perry noted in an earlier LRC column, "When seconds count, the police are only minutes away."
Emphasis mine. So on this campus where armed campus police officers are "ubiquitous," someone was able to sneak onto campus and into a lecture hall with a shotgun. The shotgun is famous for many things, but being easily concealed is not one of them.

What a bunch of useless squibs.

Saturday Vintage Gun Ad (1962): Colt Shotguns

click to enlarge

When Colt used to make shotguns.

Friday, February 15, 2008

I have no witty title for this post

This is the third time I've opened the compose post window and attempted to write something. What's to say?

Everyone has already pointed out the obvious about the recent mass murder at NIU. Areas where large numbers of people are massed closely together with legally enforced defenselessness are nothing more than slaughter houses, waiting only for the butcher to arrive.

I gave up trying to believe these are random acts of evil insanity a long time ago. These acts become more and more frequent, and are building up to something big. I don't know who or what is behind it, but something is going on. I fear what the future will bring.

Bullet-Proofing the Mind

Lt. Col Dave Grossman's Bullet-Proofing the Mind: today's must read from the Buckeye Firearms Association.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

...or else

From meatspider.

Cassiopeia, the Handgun

Here's an article on a proposal to rename constellations as things that modern folks can more easily relate to. In this picture, Cassiopeia becomes The Handgun. It doesn't really look like either one, to me.

And here's one for Fodder and Sailorcurt, and any other bikers who read this blog but I've forgotten to mention:

Note that they don't so much fly as plummet...

Weird news from Alaska: Falling moose nearly takes out trooper.
A swing-shift trooper based in Girdwood, Peterson was cruising the Seward Highway the night of Feb. 2 a couple miles north of McHugh Creek when something big and black fell from the sky, landing about 20 feet from his car.

"Falling rock!" he thought, ready to steer clear if it bounced onto the highway.

When the rock didn't roll or shatter, Peterson's brain came up with a crazy image:

"Falling moose?"

An adult moose, wandering rocky terrain more suitable to the Dall sheep that populate it, plunged to its death from the tall cliffs that hug a highway famous for its scenery and wildlife.

The animal landed on the side of the road just a few yards in front of Peterson, who figures it fell 150 feet, maybe farther. He snapped a couple of photos and called one of the charities that salvage road kill to tell them there was a moose available at Mile 113.
Further strangeness: this is the second time it has happened, "in nearly the same spot."

This is the second time I've read about large falling animals. One more time and I'll have to create a new category.

via Cryptomundo

The Colour Out of Snot

Everything is kind of a blur between about noon today and around 6:00 PM yesterday. I called in sick this morning and I think I even read some blogs while had some of that fake powered flavored "coffee" that I like to drink when I don't want any caffeine.

You ever seen a color that is not quite green, not quite beige, yet decidedly opaque? That's what I was blowing out of my nose yesterday. Today it's back to being normal snot-color, so here's hoping there won't be a permanent infection setting in. I feel a lot better, anyway. (I apologize for venturing into the Too Much Information Zone).

My daughter has learned how to use WinAmp. Every time I start it up, my old list is gone and it's full of Miley Cyrus/Hannah Montana. Oh well, could be worse. In a world of young pop stars slowly killing themselves with drugs, getting pregnant when they're 16 and unmarried, and no telling what else...Miley Cyrus gets busted for not wearing a seatbelt. With her dad. (via Spiffmo)

Oh, the horrors.

Today's totally randomized WinAmp ten:

Enya -- Na Laetha Geal M'Ă“ige
Roy Orbison -- Pretty Paper
Kim Karnes -- Bette Davis Eyes
? -- Oranges, Smoranges
Quiet Riot -- Cum On Feel The Noise
Emmylou Harries -- Just Someone I Used To Know
Duke Ellington -- Money Jungle
Kris Kristofferson -- Help Me Make It Through the Night
Wynn Osborne -- Randy Lynn Rag
The Grateful Dead -- What's Become of the Baby

Bonus points if you know where "Oranges, Smoranges" comes from.

By the way, the Wynn Osborne piece is from an album called The Banjos That Destroyed the World. Highly recommended if you like banjo music. Even more highly recommended if you hate it.

Sometimes you should look under the bed

Here's an article about a man in Greensboro, NC, who caught an intruder underneath his own bed.
"(When) I looked underneath there, I saw these eyes staring back at me. I was like 'what the crap! This ain't normal,'" said Lynn. "So I start(ed) slinging him around. I was upper cutting him, beating him left and right."
Not quite the same reaction I would have had, I don't think. I'm reminded of the phrase, "shooting fish in a barrel."

An important thing about this article is this:
Zabedra-Ilario told police it was the first time he's broken into
anyone's home, but it was not the first time he's been peeping.

"It was almost something he was proud of, like someone would covet a trophy," said GPD detective David Lyndrup.
This guy was working himself up to bigger and worse things, like rape. Fortunately his first attempt at something bigger than mere peeping was thwarted by a good thrashing. I doubt if it will stop him in the long run, though.

via Lest Darkness Fall

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

In case you haven't already heard...

One quick post before I collapse for the day because it's too good to pass up.

Josh Sugarmann, head of the Violence Policy Center, has a Federal Firearms License. His business address is the VPC headquarters.

This is the same VPC that wants to ban all law-abiding private citizens from owning firearms, the same VPC that wants to outlaw a citizen from holding a FFL so he can sell firearms from his own home.

And it may be that having a FFL at that address violates zoning restrictions.

In any case, the BATF takes a very dim view of any individual holding a FFL and not actually being in the business of selling firearms. In fact, if any regular Joe such as myself for example were to have a FFL and not be using it to operate a firearms business, there would an inevitable visit from jack-booted thugs and my house would probably be a badly ventilated smoking pile of rubble in the morning.

So will Sugarmann get a pass on this, now that he's been outed? Of course he will. Just put it on the list with all the other items that show the hypocrisy and elitism of all the enemies of liberty.

Yarg

Got one of those colds that goes straight to the nose. DayQuil can't keep up with it. I'm so stopped up I can't think. Early bedtime tonight, if I can get away with it.

Meet Ted, the satellite spotter

From the New York Times:
“If Ted can track all these satellites,” Mr. Pike said, “so can the Chinese.”
Interesting article about hobbyists who track satellites with nothing more than a telescope or a set of binoculars.

Monday, February 11, 2008

The crawling chaos...

David Codrea mentioned Set, but his post reminded me of something else.
I do not recall distinctly when it began, but it was months ago. The general tension was horrible. To a season of political and social upheaval was added a strange and brooding apprehension of hideous physical danger; a danger widespread and all-embracing, such a danger as may be imagined only in the most terrible phantasms of the night. I recall that the people went about with pale and worried faces, and whispered warnings and prophecies which no one dared consciously repeat or acknowledge to himself that he had heard. A sense of monstrous guilt was upon the land, and out of the abysses between the stars swept chill currents that made men shiver in dark and lonely places. There was a demoniac alteration in the sequence of the seasons. The autumn heat lingered fearsomely, and everyone felt that the world and perhaps the universe had passed from the control of known gods or forces to that of gods or forces which were unknown.

And it was then that Nyarlathotep came out of Egypt. Who he was, none could tell, but he was of the old native blood and looked like a Pharaoh. The fellahin knelt when they saw him, yet could not say why. He said he had risen up out of the blackness of twenty-seven centuries, and that he had heard messages from places not on this planet. Into the lands of civilisation came Nyarlathotep, swarthy, slender, and sinister, always buying strange instruments of glass and metal and combining them into instruments yet stranger. He spoke much of the sciences of electricity and psychology and gave exhibitions of power which sent his spectators away speechless, yet which swelled his fame to exceeding magnitude. Men advised one another to see Nyarlathotep, and shuddered. And where Nyarlathotep went, rest vanished, for the small hours were rent with the screams of nightmare. Never before had the screams of nightmare been such a public problem; now the wise men almost wished they could forbid sleep in the small hours, that the shrieks of cities might less horribly disturb the pale, pitying moon as it glimmered on green waters gliding under bridges, and old steeples crumbling against a sickly sky.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Here's one you won't see very often

Kaywoodie white briar unsmoked and new in box.

I have never seen one in this condition before.

I scooped Fox News by 29 months

I'm getting a lot of hits today on a post from September 2005 regarding Project Bore Snake. Something of a puzzler until I received this email:
Just saw a Fox news story about the above project. Their web site appears dead.
Whats the story ?
1. How should I know? I don't have anything to do with it, I just wrote up a blog post about it more than two years ago.

2. It might not be dead. It might just be getting overloaded because Fox News finally got around to talking about it.

At this minute, 10 February 2008 at 2:06 PM Central Time, their website is up.

Sunday Vintage Pipe Ad (1954): Sir Walter Raleigh

click to enlarge

This stylishly-dressed pipe smoker is apparently gay, or he seriously has his priorities wrong. Sir Walter Raleigh is one of those fine old traditional American pipe tobaccos that has been around almost forever, and to me is disgusting. Not as bad as Half & Half, but still pretty bad. If this was all I could get, I'd just quit.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Ruminations on pipe tobacco

I have posted the first of what will probably be a series of posts regarding my thoughts on various pipe tobaccos. This first post is really only a beginning of an introduction. But if anyone is interested, you can read it over at The Briar Files.

Rough seas

This one reminds me of something. I can't remember what, but I'm sure I've seen this motif before, only not with Cthulhu.

Unspeakably hi-res version at My Confined Space, via Calls for Cthulhu.

Productive morning

Cleaned up my corner of the bedroom, and found a couple hundred rounds each of 357 Magnum and 38 Special that I had forgotten I had. That was nice.

I also found the old Crown Royal bag that I knew I had stashed somewhere near my pipes. Now I should have a prettier platform for taking pipe pictures than the dish towels I've been using.

Unfortunately I still haven't come across that pipe book from Dunhill that was a gift from Brer some time back. I've been hankering to give it another gander this past week or two. It's gotta be right around here somewhere.

Anyway, I cleared up the bookshelf that serves as my pipe shelf, so now I can just put pipes on it instead of pipes and miscellanea.

Sadly, I finally threw away the broken pipe that cannot be repaired:

A clay churchwarden from Olde World Fine Clays. It was too big to fit everything on the scanner when I did a scanner photo of it. The last few inches of the stem has a coating of red sealing wax, but it wouldn't fit on the scanner. The stem had snapped off right at the bowl. I didn't smoke it often anyway, but still... I'll have to replace it sometime. Clay pipes impart their own special flavor to the smoke, no matter what you smoke in it: a kind of earthy sweetness. Olde World Fine Clays was the company name, but it was just one man rolling each pipe by hand. I think he went out of business. His website is now gone, anyway.

Also was reminded of the Kaywoodie lovat that is one of my semi-regular pipes, and which I have never taken a picture of. I'll have to give it a good cleaning and get some pictures for The Briar Files.

I'm almost certain no one will care...

But I found this amusing.
Much to the chagrin of the leadership of the Green Party, Ralph Nader was the victor of the California Green Party primary. Party leaders are pushing for ex-Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney to be their nominee.

Nader got 16,835 votes, compared to McKinney's 7,124. Although Nader is not a declared candidate, he is expected to seek the Green Party nomination.

The California Peace and Freedom Party also featured both Nader and McKinney. In that race, Nader beat McKinney 2090 to 1114.

Three other states held Green Party primaries yesterday. In Arkansas, Nader was unable to get on the ballot, but "uncommitted" beat McKinney 273 to 116.
Snort.

A sad first

Loren Coleman at The Copycat Effect points out that the recent Louisiana Tech shooting has broken a gender barrier: the first time a female has committed mass murder against classmates.

The Copycat Effect: Shootings Shatter Gender Barrier

There have been females who committed mass murder in a school setting before, but they were "outsiders," not a student or member of the faculty there herself.

These mass murders that keep coming more and more frequently at what seems more and more critical times are not just random acts of insanity, in my opinion. Feel free to call me a paranoid nutjob if you want, but something is going on here.

As Mr. Coleman says, "Be aware. Be alert. Be safe."

I would add, "Be prepared," if you know what I mean and I think you do.

Saturday Vintage Gun Ad (1960s): Marlin 39A

According to Wikipedia, the 39A is the oldest and longest continuously produced rifle in the world. It began as the Model 1891, and was the first lever-action rifle ever chambered for the .22 Long Rifle. Lots more details at the link.

Even them...

Found at Cracked.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Gulp

Another shank logo Kaywoodie has turned up on eBay. Let's see what this one goes for. Currently at $32.76, reserve not met.

UPDATE: High bid reached $77.76. Reserve still not met, did not sell.

What he said...

The War On Guns delineates John Kerry's Favorite Republican.

I remember hearing an NPR interview a couple of years ago with McCain's good friend Joe Lieberman. This was back when he was officially a Democrat, instead of the so-called "Independent Democrat" (whatever that is) that he is now. He was talking about working with McCain, and was asked what would happen if it turned out that he had to run (as a Democrat, back then) against Republican McCain. His answer was something like: "I would be just as happy no matter which one of us won. I believe John McCain would make an excellent President who would take this country in the right direction."

No, I haven't forgotten all this stuff, and I am completely flummoxed as to how so many Republicans have so effectively mind-wiped themselves.

The beauty of small things

U.N. taggers

UN vandals spray graffiti on Sahara’s prehistoric art:
Spectacular prehistoric depictions of animal and human figures created up to 6,000 years ago on Western Saharan rocks have been vandalised by United Nations peacekeepers, The Times has learnt.

Archaeological sites boasting ancient paintings and engravings of giraffes, buffalo and elephants have been defaced within the past two years by personnel attached to the UN mission, known by its French acronym, Minurso.

Graffiti, some of it more than a metre high and sprayed with paint meant for use for marking routes, now blights the rock art at Lajuad, an isolated site known as Devil Mountain, which is regarded by the local Sahrawi population as a mystical place of great cultural significance.

Many of the UN “graffiti artists” signed and dated their work, revealing their identities and where they are from. Minurso personnel stationed in Western Sahara come from almost 30 countries. They are monitoring a ceasefire between the occupying Moroccan forces and the Polisario Front, which is seeking independence.
I guess this is what they do when they're not raping women, abusing children and gun-running.

This is the book I never read...

Some other bloggers who I read regularly often post about the music they are currently listening to, so why not me too?

This is the book I never read
These are the words I never said
This is the path I'll never tread
These are the dreams I'll dream instead
This is the joy that's seldom spread
These are the tears...
The tears we shed
This is the fear
This is the dread
These are the contents of my head
And these are the years that we have spent
And this is what they represent
And this is how I feel
Do you know how I feel ?

Now playing is Diva by Annie Lennox. Lyrics above from "Why?" If you think that Annie Lennox was just that weird chick from Eurythmics, then you may have missed someting. This is one of my favorite albums. And in a musical world full of syrupy-sweet nasal female vocals, her voice pours as thick and dark as wild honey.

I'll know what I'll be thinking about all day today...

How to eloquently, cogently and concisely tell the RNC how to shove up it their @ss.

I got one of those "census document" questionnaires yesterday. What a bunch of loaded junk. "Liberal Democrat" this, "liberal Democrat" that. Some of these questions are just impossible to answer without an accompanying slap to the face of the questioner.

UPDATE: Here's an example.
Will you join the Republican National Committee by making a contribution today?
  • Yes, I support the RNC and am enclosing my most generous contribution of: (multiple choice amounts).
  • Yes, I support the RNC, but am unable to participate at this time. However, I have enclosed $11 to cover the cost of tabulating my survey.
  • No, I favor electing liberal Democrats over the next ten years.
Unbelievable. They try to disguise this as a survey and still try to figure out a way to trick you out of $11. Are people really this stupid?

There should have been one more option:
  • Not only no, but hell no. You bunch of thugs are doing just fine collaborating with your Democrat friends to infringe on my freedom without me giving you any help.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Interesting

I installed G00gl3 analytics yesterday just for kicks.

Thought y'all might like to know that among readers of this blog, non IE-users (Firefox and Safari combined) outnumber IE users.

So far, anyway. Maybe the IE users will get out this weekend.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Something I just learned today

There is a Pipedia: a wiki for pipes.

And the universe is a green dragon

My friend Brer made a huge score of action figures today.
I knew there'd be a lot of them, but wow. Yesterday the Fed-Ex man drove up and started unloading boxes on the front porch. The first three were out and I thought, "Okay, that should be about it." Then another was hauled out. Then another. And another. In all six boxes, each 30"x13"x16", were piled up on the top step. The Fed-Ex man asked me what was in them, and I told him.

"Are you opening a store?" he asked.

I had a ready answer.

"No, we just play with them."
You may not be interested in collectible action figures; odds are you are not. But you may still enjoy reading his account of this staggering acquisition.

Yeah, sure, whatever...

UPDATE: I must give credit where credit is due. Mr. Cuellar did sign the Congressional Amicus Brief, which in legal terms, probably has more weight than the letter, anyway.

[original post below]

On January 23 I sent an email to my so-called representative urging him to sign onto the letter written by Rep. Virgil Goode regarding the amicus brief filed against the Second Amendment by the Bush DOJ.

I finally got a reply.
Thank you for contacting my office about Second Amendment issues. I understand and appreciate your point of view on this topic, and I value this opportunity to respond to you.

I have always supported the Second Amendment right of citizens to bear arms in a safe and responsible manner. Gun ownership is part of our nation's heritage. While I support reasonable gun laws designed to protect public safety, gun owners and dealers should never be singled out for politically motivated attacks. In order to preserve the rights of gun owners, I have worked closely with and been endorsed by organizations such as the National Rifle Association. As the legislative year continues, you can be sure that I will keep your views on this issue in mind, and that I will act to create laws that are consistent with our basic Constitutional rights.
Blah blah blahdee blahdee blah. And his magic recitation of the impotent NRA cantrip doesn't impress me either. Since there's no mention of him signing the letter, I must assume he's not going to do it. Like I said, he's only my so-called representative because he doesn't represent me. I would say that he's lost my vote, but that wouldn't be true. I've never voted for him.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Saved by a pellet gun

I had to work in alleys today, most of which curved and looped around and had intersections where you have to know which way to go or you get kind of lost. I already know this route well, so that's not a problem for me anymore. But I say this to point out that all the houses are not completely lined up on the alley, they kind of zig-zag.

A dog with the potential to cause serious harm broke its chain, busted through the back fence and came at me. I had my hook in its face, backing away when I heard POP!...POP!...POP! It yelped a couple of times and ran back to its yard.

Two houses down was a man standing on the edge of his backyard, furiously pumping a pellet gun. So I said, "Thanks, dude! Nice shootin'!"

Well, I feel kind of stupid

I've been reading so much about Stupor Tuesday on the blogs lately that I forgot Texas doesn't have its primary until March. I knew something was amiss when I pulled up to the polling place and no one was there. Heh.

Look closely...

Look very closely...

Things are not always what they seem.

And if you have a pipe, then of course you'll also need a lighter.



Dark Roasted Blend has an article on miniature spy guns, most of them antique, and as usual with DRB, lots and lots of pictures.

I'm somewhat disturbed by the pipe. The discoloration on the stem appears to be oxidation which would be caused by someone actually carrying it around in his mouth. "Shot by his own pipe" would be a stupid way to die.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Another theory on the Tunguska Event

The Tunguska Event was a massive explosion that occurred near the Podkamennaya (Lower Stony) Tunguska River in what is now Krasnoyarsk Krai of Russia, at around 7:17 a.m. on June 30, 1908 Julian (July 13 on Gregorian calendar). [Snatched from Wikipedia because I'm too lazy to write my own explanation]. It has been variously blamed on a meteoroid or a comet. The meteoroid proponents point out the problems with the comet theory, and the comet proponents point out the problems with the meteoroid theory. The cause of the explosion has never been conclusively explained.

Here's a new theory that it was the cause was geophysical in origin, rather than extra-terrestrial. A combination of tectonic forces and atmospheric conditions.

Interesting, long and technical, but worth reading if you're a strange phenomena buff.

No more free speech at Cato

The Cato Institute, a so-called "libertarian think-tank" has canned adjunct scholar Dom Armentano.

Why? Because he wrote an op-ed discussing the implications to our lives and our government if it were to be publicly proven that UFOs do exist.
The most astonishing news story of all time would be the confirmation of intelligent extraterrestrial life. Such a discovery would have multi-faceted social, religious, scientific and economic ramifications that can only be described as out-of-this-world. As an example, try to imagine the price of crude oil or the gyrations of the stock market just one day after such a revelation. The existence of off-the-planet intelligence could change what most people believe about almost everything.

Yet in some ways an even more significant story, perhaps even more significant than the discovery of extraterrestrial life itself, would be the revelation that certain elements of the U.S. government may have known about — and covered up — that discovery (even from elected officials without a “need to know”) for more than 50 years.

Now, that story, a deliberate half-century of deception to cover an inconvenient truth, likely would shake this nation to its very political foundations. That outrageous disclosure could change almost everything, too.

Yet outrageous as it may seem, many who have studied the UFO phenomenon now conclude that starting with Roswell in July 1947, elements of the U.S. government may have systematically lied to the American people (and to elected officials) concerning the actual nature of the UFO phenomenon. The evidence for that deception is substantial and is to be found in thoroughly documented books, dozens of declassified “top secret” documents, and many sworn testimonials from key military-intelligence community insiders.

He didn't say UFOs were full of little green men. In fact, the opinion he proffered was this:
Heavily censored information, billion-dollar “black budgets” and super-secret “black projects “ (UFOs are likely a very black project) ultimately make open government and representative democracy a joke and a sham.
The above sentence, possibly excepting the parenthetical remark, should be something that everyone except big-government statists can agree with. But what does Cato Executive Vice President David Boaz say?
“I won’t deny that this latest op-ed played a role in our decision. Some day we may look back and wish we’d listened to you. But for now this strikes us as not an issue that we want to have as part of Cato’s research agenda.”
No research into black budgets? What's up, Cato?

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Lazy day

Didn't really do much of anything today. Posted a couple of things over at The Briar Files and pre-composed another one for tomorrow.

I should be having a fairly easy week as far as the job goes this coming week. Here's hoping I get off early most of the time so I can get some more pipe work done.

I plan on going through several cheap pipes this week and posting pictures of everything I have available. I have a bunch that are already cleaned and ready to go from years ago that I never tried to sell.

Also there should be a more less daily post on my own collection, and I intend to start watching eBay more assertively with real intent to purchase. So if things are slow here, it's only because I'm enjoying myself.

I'm a mutant

Or, all blue-eyed people are related:
People with blue eyes have a single, common ancestor, according to new research.

A team of scientists has tracked down a genetic mutation that leads to blue eyes. The mutation occurred between 6,000 and 10,000 years ago. Before then, there were no blue eyes.

"Originally, we all had brown eyes," said Hans Eiberg from the Department of Cellular and Molecular Medicine at the University of Copenhagen.

The mutation affected the so-called OCA2 gene, which is involved in the production of melanin, the pigment that gives color to our hair, eyes and skin.

"A genetic mutation affecting the OCA2 gene in our chromosomes resulted in the creation of a 'switch,' which literally 'turned off' the ability to produce brown eyes," Eiberg said.

The genetic switch is located in the gene adjacent to OCA2 and rather than completely turning off the gene, the switch limits its action, which reduces the production of melanin in the iris. In effect, the turned-down switch diluted brown eyes to blue.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Philip K. Dick predicts the future...

Details at Conservative Scalawag.

Cthulhu clock

Also interesting interpretations of child and adolescent Cthulhu, and some other Lovecraftian artwork at thebiscuitboy's deviantart site.

via Under Vhoorl's Shadow

Retro Parody

TekTak of the MoxArgon Group has written an amusing parody to the tune of Mott the Hoople's "All the Young Dudes."

There's a sentence I never thought I'd write, but any excuse to say "Mott the Hoople."

Well, what do you know?

I agree with Ann Coulter.

(Yes, I was referring to Guiliani at the time, but the principle remains the same).

Saturday Vintage Gun Ad (1962): Ithaca

Another Ithaca ad. Click for a larger, readable version.

I get the feeling that the guy on the right has heard this story before.

Friday, February 01, 2008

Revisiting the album meme

In what I think is the first time I've ever influenced a meme, from One Monkey's Typewriter (go there for directions).



I'll try this again tomorrow. Right now I'm tired, and I have a mandatory overtime day tomorrow.

70 Even

If I counted right. I don't feel like doing any real blogging today, so here's a meme I stole from El Capitan. Someone made up this list of movies. Boldface the ones you've seen.

Rocky Horror Picture Show
Grease
Pirates of the Caribbean
Pirates of the Caribbean 2: Dead Man's Chest
Boondock Saints
Fight Club
Starsky and Hutch
Neverending Story
Blazing Saddles
Universal Soldier
Lemony Snicket: A Series Of Unfortunate Events
Along Came Polly
Deep Impact
King Pin
Never Been Kissed
Meet The Parents
Meet the Fockers
Eight Crazy Nights
Joe Dirt
King Kong (1933)
King Kong (1976)
King Kong (2005)
A Cinderella Story
The Terminal
The Lizzie McGuire Movie
Passport to Paris
Dumb & Dumber
Dumber & Dumberer
Final Destination
Final Destination 2
Final Destination 3
Halloween
The Ring
The Ring 2
Surviving X-Mas
Flubber (but I've seen "The Absent-Minded Professor [two versions] and "Son of Flubber")
Harold & Kumar Go To White Castle (but I would like to see it)
Practical Magic
Chicago
Ghost Ship
From Hell
Hellboy
Secret Window
I Am Sam
The Whole Nine Yards
The Whole Ten Yards
The Day After Tomorrow
Child’s Play (stupid...I don't know why I wasted my time...oh yeah, now I remember, it's because I have a secret fantasy of destroying every stinking ventriloquist dummy on the planet, and this movie fueled my rage)
Seed of Chucky
Bride of Chucky
Ten Things I Hate About You
Just Married
Gothika
Nightmare on Elm Street
Sixteen Candles
Remember the Titans
Coach Carter
The Grudge
The Grudge 2
The Mask (I really like this movie)
Son Of The Mask (this one is stupid)
Bad Boys
Bad Boys 2
Joy Ride
Lucky Number Slevin
Ocean’s Eleven
Ocean’s Twelve
Bourne Identity
Bourne Supremacy
Lone Star
Bedazzled
Predator
Predator II (lame)
The Fog
Ice Age
Ice Age 2: The Meltdown
Curious George
Independence Day
Cujo
A Bronx Tale
Darkness Falls
Christine
ET
Children of the Corn
My Boss’s Daughter
Maid in Manhattan
War of the Worlds (1953) (I read the book)
War of the Worlds (2005)
Rush Hour (who told Chris Tucker he was funny?)
Rush Hour 2
Best Bet
How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days
She’s All That
Calendar Girls
Sideways
Mars Attacks!
Event Horizon
Ever After
The Wizard of Oz
Forrest Gump (bits of it, here and there...never the whole thing at once)
Big Trouble in Little China
The Terminator
The Terminator 2
The Terminator 3
X-Men
X-2
X-3
Spider-Man
Spider-Man 2
Sky High (actually pretty cool for a kid's movie)
Jeepers Creepers
Jeepers Creepers 2
Catch Me If You Can
The Little Mermaid
Freaky Friday (original and more than one remake...let us forget that the L.L. version ever happened)
Reign of Fire
The Skulls
Cruel Intentions
Cruel Intentions 2
The Hot Chick
Shrek
Shrek 2
Shrek 3
Swimfan
Miracle on 34th Street (original and remake)
Old School
The Notebook
K-PAX
Krippendorf’s Tribe
A Walk to Remember
Ice Castles
Boogeyman
The 40-Year-Old Virgin
Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring
Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers
Lord of the Rings: Return Of the King
Raiders of the Lost Ark
Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom
Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
Baseketball
Hostel
Waiting for Guffman
House of 1000 Corpses
Devil’s Rejects
Elf
Highlander
Mothman Prophecies
American History X
Three
The Jacket
Kung Fu Hustle
Shaolin Soccer
Night Watch
Monsters, Inc.
Titanic
Monty Python and the Holy Grail
Shaun Of the Dead
Willard
High Tension
Club Dread
Hulk
Dawn Of the Dead
Hook
Chronicles Of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe
28 days later
Orgazmo
Phantasm
Waterworld (both lame and stupid)
Kill Bill, Volume 1
Kill Bill, Volume 2
Mortal Kombat
Wolf Creek
Kingdom of Heaven
The Hills Have Eyes
I Spit on Your Grave, AKA The Day of the Woman
The Last House on the Left
Re-Animator
Army of Darkness
Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope
Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back
Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi
Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace
Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones
Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith
Ewoks: Caravan Of Courage, AKA The Ewok Adventure
Ewoks: The Battle For Endor
The Matrix
The Matrix Reloaded
The Matrix Revolutions
Animatrix
Evil Dead
Evil Dead 2
Team America: World Police
Red Dragon
Silence of the Lambs
Hannibal

Back in the 90s I was a regular plasma donor. I saw several of these movies while hooked up to a centrifuge. But I'm glad I saw "She's All That" and "Ten Things," because it made "Not Another Teen Movie" a lot funnier.

I tried to watch the first "Kill Bill" once, but it was boring. It had about as much of a plot as a porn movie, but with violence as the raison d'etre instead of sex. So who cares? I gave up on it after about an hour.

I've never seen "King Kong" because giant monster animals movies just don't do anything for me. I've always thought every Godzilla movie I ever tried to watch was stupid, too.

The pucker factor

Oddee has photos of some of the World's Most Dangerous Airports. Although "airport" may be a somewhat loose usage of the term for some of them.