Please note: the viewport design is copied from Steve Den Beste's excellent blog, USS Clueless. Used with permission.

Saturday, March 05, 2005  

via - Newton TAB - Police & Fire Logs

Stuffed duck explosion ends badly

A 14-year-old Newton male, in an attempt to blow up a stuff toy duck with gunpowder and firework in the backyard of his Meadowbrook Road residence, burned himself and had to be treated at Children's Hospital on Feb. 18.
Police reports describe the boy's face as red, 'like a sunburn,' after the accident and noted his hair was singed, although Sgt. Ken Dangelo said he does not believe the youth was admitted for his injuries.

posted by Gary Williams at 10:44 PM | link |

via The Ultra Top Secret TR-3B

Flying Triangle TR-3B

Many sightings of triangular UFOs are not alien vehicles but the ultra top secret TR-3B. The NSA, NRO, CIA, and USAF have been playing a shell game with aircraft nomenclature - creating the TR-3, modified to the TR-3A, the TR-3B, and the Teir 2, 3, and 4, with suffixes like 'Plus' or 'Minus' added on to further confuse the fact that each of these designators is a different aircraft and not the same aerospace vehicle. A TR-3B is as different from a Teir 3B as a banana is from a grape. Some of these vehicles are manned and others are unmanned.

The TR-3B's propulsion is provided by three multimode thrusters mounted at each bottom corner of the triangular platform. The TR-3 is a sub-Mach 9 vehicle until it reaches altitudes above 100,000 feet--then God knows how fast it can go!

posted by Gary Williams at 10:33 PM | link |

via Hitherby Dragons

(Saturday Interlude) Mr. Enemy

Jeremiah Clean lines up the rational numbers. He looks at the grimy irrational numbers between them. He sighs, takes out his Swiffer, and begins to Swiff them away.

This kind of thing upsets most mathematicians. It has Cantor practically spinning in his grave. But that's not what this story is about.

posted by Gary Williams at 9:52 PM | link |

via The New York Times (registration required)

Faithful Track Questions, Answers and Minutiae on Blogs


Published: March 5, 2005

In many ways, Lisa Butterworth is the very image of Mormon devotion; she lives in Boise, Idaho, with her husband and their three children younger than 4, faithfully attending church and teaching Sunday school.

But then there is her Web log, or blog, Unlike the more mainstream Mormon blogs - known collectively as the Bloggernacle - that by and large promote the faith, this online diary focuses on the universal challenges of mothering young children and on frustration with the limited roles women have in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

'I was getting really frustrated at church because I couldn't talk about a lot of things that were bothering me about history, about feminism,' said the 30-year-old Ms. Butterworth, who started the blog last August with four friends. 'I wasn't interested in bashing the church; I wanted to find something that could be faithful, liberal and feminist. I didn't find that, so I created it.'

Like the best religion-driven blogs, hers offers a peek into lives that many are curious about but that relatively few lead.

It is also one of a growing number of religion-oriented blogs, many of them irreverent and contrarian, and all serving as a meeting point for the like-minded.

posted by Gary Williams at 11:22 AM | link |

Friday, March 04, 2005  

via In the Pipeline

Selenium -- Imagine The Hyperskunk

Selenium compounds are, if anything, more intrinsically noxious than sulfur ones. Imagine a sort of hyperskunk, scattering its enemies before it and making them carom off trees and dive into ponds. The heavier selenium atoms tend to make the compounds less volatile, though, so you don't always get their full bouquet. The smaller compounds get in their licks, though. One of the simpler selenium-rich compounds, for example, is carbon diselenide, an exact homolog of the carbon dioxide in your breath and in your glass of soda. Instead of a gas, the selenide is an oily liquid with a higher boiling point than water. Most of us organic chemists have never seen it.

Which is just fine. The first report of the compound in the chemical literature is from a German university group from 1936, and it was a memorable debut. A colleague of mine had a copy of this paper in his files, and he treasured a footnote from the experimental section which related how the vapors had unfortunately escaped the laboratory and forced the evacuation of a nearby village. The authors stressed the point that its aroma was like nothing that they'd ever encountered.

The compound made a few appearances over the next couple of decades, but one of the next synthetic papers dates from 1963. (That's Journal of Organic Chemistry 28, 1642, for you curious chemists.) The authors are forthright:

'It has been our experience that redistilled carbon diselenide has an odor very similar to that of carbon disulfide. However, when (it is) mixed with air, extremely repulsive stenches are gradually formed. Many of the reaction residues gave foul odors which were rather persistent (and) it should be noted that some of the volatile selenium compounds produced may be extremely toxic as well as foul.'

posted by Gary Williams at 11:03 PM | link |

San Francisco Casualties

In a Hayes Valley thrift store, a forlorn man pushed his cart.
“I cause nothing but trouble,” he said, a five-year-old’s whine in a grown man’s baritone. He looped through the books and crockery and polyester Women’s Jackets, head down, intent on his sing-song confession.

“I cause nothing but trouble.
I don’t blame you for not talking to me.
I. Cause. Nothing but. Ch-rubble.”

As he passed behind me, I wondered what mother he addressed.
“I cause nothing but pink stocking trouble.”
A few shoppers noticed the twist, and glanced at my bubblegum tights. I’m trying on his words on as an epitaph.

The next evening, on the Muni platform, another lonely man struck up a chat. His beard and missing back teeth gave him the sunken look of a civil war veteran. It was raining, as usual.
“Must be heavy if you can hear it on the roof all the way down here.”
“Sounds like a stream a ways away. The runnels make me think of a creek running over stones.”
“That’s exactly what it sounds like.”
“I hear these things. I’m from Washington State. I hear things city people don’t hear. I could hear a bird far away even in the city. If I listen hard. People here don’t listen so well.”

Oh, darling. What happened to you? I was afraid to ask in case the answer followed me home. Instead he told me about western birds.

“I like your shoes,” he said. I was wearing the new trainers I’d bought on my last Sunday in New York. They are silver patent leather, something the Tin Man would have worn, and I like them too because they make strangers laugh. “Where did you get them?”

I tried to think of ways not to say “Prada”. “New York,” I offered finally.
“Oh,” he said. “If it was here I’d have liked to get a pair.”

posted by Gary Williams at 10:39 PM | link |

originally uploaded by sugarfreak.
Via Everything Burns!

posted by Gary Williams at 6:57 PM | link |

via Bistromathics


The Bistromathic Drive is a wonderful new method of crossing vast intersteller distances without all that dangerous mucking about with Improbability Factors.

Bistromathics itself is simply a revolutionary new way of understanding the behaviour of numbers. Just as Einstein observed that time was not an absolute but depended on the observer's movement in space, and that space was not an absolute, but depended on the observer's movement in time, so it is now realized that numbers are not absolute, but depend on the observer's movement in restaurants.

The first non-absolute number is the number of people for whom the table is reserved. This will vary during the course of the first three telephone calls to the restaurant, and then bear no apparent relation to the number of people who actually turn up, or to the number of people who subsequently join them after the show/match/party/gig, or to the number of people who leave when they see who else has turned up.

The second non-absolute number is the given time of arrival, which is now known to be one of those most bizarre of mathematical concepts, a recipriversexcluson, a number whose existence can only be defined as being defined as being anything other than itself. In other words, the given time of arrival is the one moment of time at which it is impossible that any member of the party will arrive. Recipriversexclusons now play a vital part in many branches of maths, including statistics and accountancy and also form the basic equations used to engineer the Somebody Else's Problem field.

posted by Gary Williams at 6:30 PM | link |

via - Report: Space burst could be new object - Mar 3, 2005

Report: Space burst could be new object

Experts nickname mysterious source a 'burper'

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -- A strange and powerful burst of radio waves from near the center of our galaxy may have come from a previously unknown type of space object, U.S. astronomers reported on Wednesday.

Other experts nicknamed the mysterious source a 'burper' and said there would be a race to scan for similar radio bursts.

'We hit the jackpot,' said Scott Hyman, a professor of physics at Sweet Briar College in Virginia, who led the study.

'An image of the Galactic center, made by collecting radio waves of about 1 meter (3 feet) in wavelength, revealed multiple bursts from the source during a seven-hour period from September 30 to October 1, 2002 -- five bursts in fact, and repeating at remarkably constant intervals.'

The burst came from the direction of the middle of the Milky Way galaxy, of which Earth is a part, and could have originated from as far away as 24,000 light-years or from as close as 300 light-years. A light-year is the distance light travels in a year, or about 6 trillion miles (10 trillion km).

posted by Gary Williams at 12:48 AM | link |

Thursday, March 03, 2005  

via Mandarin Design

Making It Wrok

Today, my friend Meg at Mandarin Design has a clever effect using CSS to make a great graphic -- but she doesn't think it should work! And, when I try it here, it didn't work but now it does:


Meg and i have been exchanging emails, trying to figure it out, and you can see the results here:
hack this code
hack this code
Worse yet, when I try this on a local file, Firefox pops up two tabs and you can't see the text at all. I don't know why, so I moved it here on TFS, where it didn't work a different way...

Humph, now the "Hack this code" version seems to be working as intended, (or something like it...). I took out some extra lines (where blogger inserts <BR>) And I've changed the relative moves for the Mandarin version, and now it seems to work...hmmmm....

And, as Meg points out, why does it work? The font-size if 68px; where does this -80 come from and why does it seem to work in blogger?

Also, I wonder about the relative positioning in the first DIV; since that's the target area, maybe it should be left static...

Here's the code:


<div style="position:relative;top:0px;left:18px;"><span style="font-size:68px;font-family:Times;color:#292425;font-weight:bold;">Mandarin</span></div><div style="position:relative;top:-80px;left:15px;"><span style="font-size:68px;font-family:Times;color:white;font-weight:bold;">Mandarin</span></div>

<div style="position:relative;top:0px;left:18px;"><span style="font-size:68px;font-family:Times;color:#292425;font-weight:bold;">hack this code</span></div>
<div style="position:relative;top:-80px;left:15px;"><span style="font-size:68px;font-family:Times;color:white;font-weight:bold;">hack this code</span></div>

posted by Gary Williams at 11:23 AM | link |

via Fun Tester - Weird Quotient - How weird are you?

What is your weird quotient? Click to find out!

posted by Gary Williams at 12:39 AM | link |

via whiskey river

The Promise

In the dream I had when he came back not sick
but whole, and wearing his winter coat,

he looked at me as though he couldn't speak, as if
there were a law against it, a membrane he couldn't break.

His silence was what he could not
not do, like our breathing in this world, like our living,

as we do, in time.
And I told him: I'm reading all this Buddhist stuff,

and listen, we don't die when we die. Death is an event,
a threshold we pass through. We go on and on

and into light forever.
And he looked down, and then back up at me. It was the
look we'd pass

across the kitchen table when Dad was drunk again and
the level look that wants to tell you something,

in a crowded room, something important, and can't.
- Marie Howe

posted by Gary Williams at 12:21 AM | link |

Tuesday, March 01, 2005  

via Defense Tech


Give us more money, or soldiers aren't going to get paid. That's the cynical game the Pentagon's leadership has been playing with the Army's budget in recent months. And now, it's crunch time.

rummy_what.jpgSince the fall, Rumsfeld & Co. have been dipping into the Army's day-to-day funds -- like money for soldiers' paychecks -- and then daring Congress not to make up the difference with a second, 'supplemental' pile of cash.

The tab comes due this Spring, Defense Daily reports. The Army needs $41 billion of that supplemental kitty by then, or else it is going to go broke, without cash left to pay G.I.s.

posted by Gary Williams at 3:05 AM | link |

Monday, February 28, 2005  


Comic Of The Day

posted by Gary Williams at 12:43 PM | link |

Sunday, February 27, 2005  

via Boing Boing: A Directory of Wonderful Things

SciFi Radio Show Cancelled For Being Too Popular

Science fiction radio show booted for being popular -- help get it onto sat radio
Mur sez, 'The Dragon Page is a 2 hour sci-fi fantasy talk show out of Arizona that was broadcast on AM radio (and subsequently put out on the internet over podcasting). The Live Fire show was just cancelled because they were too popular and were making the other shows on the station - all conservative talk - look bad. We're trying to get the show back on the air, either on another local Arizona station or over satellite radio.'

posted by Gary Williams at 10:49 PM | link |

via The New York Times (registration required)

Within C.I.A., Growing Worry of Prosecution for Conduct


Published: February 27, 2005

WASHINGTON, Feb. 26 - There is widening unease within the Central Intelligence Agency over the possibility that career officers could be prosecuted or otherwise punished for their conduct during interrogations and detentions of terrorism suspects, according to current and former government officials.

Until now, only one C.I.A. employee, a contract worker from North Carolina, has been charged with a crime in connection with the treatment of prisoners, stemming from a death in Afghanistan in 2003. But the officials confirmed that the agency had asked the Justice Department to review at least one other case, from Iraq, to determine if a C.I.A. officer and interpreter should face prosecution.

In addition, the current and former government officials said the agency's inspector general was now reviewing at least a half-dozen other cases, and perhaps many more, in what they described as an expanding circle of inquiries to determine whether C.I.A. employees had been involved in any misconduct.

posted by Gary Williams at 10:30 AM | link |

via True Facts

Why things Are Crowded

As of January 1, 2004, the population of the United States increases by one person every 12 seconds. There is a birth every eight seconds, an immigrant is added every 25 seconds, but a death every 13 seconds.

Oh, and:
111,111,111 x 111,111,111 = 12,345,678,987,654,321

posted by Gary Williams at 12:48 AM | link |

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