An Inordinate Fondness for Beetles

September 12, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , — Radical Scientist @ 8:48 pm

Sorry posting has been slow (to non-existent) here lately. Let’s just say chronic headaches don’t mix well with blogging. I’ll be back soon, though. To make it up to you, I’d like to share this link to a gallery of photos from a museum of Soviet-era arcade machines. Pictured below is ‘Traffic Sign Quiz.’ You’re welcome.

Via Boing Boing.


August 10, 2010

Conservapedia: Propaganda or Performance Art?

Is there anyone among us who hasn’t gotten a little tipsy at the club, stumbled home safely, and spent an hour or two laughing their nether regions off at Conservapedia?

I didn’t think so.

I know I’m a little late to the party with this story from Talking Points Memo, which relates the tale of Conservapedia founder and second-generation douchebag Andy  Schafly’s inability to remember the difference between general relativity and moral relativism. Whatever, I’m sure even after someone explains the difference to him, he’ll still believe that understanding deep physics leads people away from Jesus (which, ok, there may be some correlation/causation there), and that that means Einstein must have been wrong. Luckily, Conservapedians were able to snark right back, with this mathematically & logically sound bit of self-referencing on their main page:

Counterexamples to the Bible 0
Counterexamples to Evolution 60
IQ of Atheists 0 divided by 60

Oh, snap! Zero divided by 60! That’s gotta be less than regular zero!

But there’s so much more to love about the internet’s most fake encyclopedia. You could go for the obvious, reading the reality-challenged articles on feminism, atheism, gay rights, Obama’s birth certificate, or other far-right hobbyhorses. But the real genius is the care with which they’ve fabricated delusional alternate-universe explanations for  innocent seeming topics.  Did you know that liberals lie about certain species of North American cactus being endangered, so we can up the supply of peyote? (to be fair, they seem to have deleted the entire article on cacti to hide their shame on that one) Or that Dodos might have gone extinct all of their own? Or that the bible proves the existence of unicorns? Unicorns, people. Normally I’d say don’t feed their egos, but this is some seriously worthwhile comedy reading. Just look at today’s top pages:

Most viewed pages
Main Page 8,067,661
Atheism 4,940,958
Homosexuality 3,565,061
Barack Hussein Obama 1,429,644
Wikipedia 924,932
Adolf Hitler 822,325
Sarah Palin 771,927
Liberal 721,863
Examples of Bias in Wikipedia 688,911
John McCain 585,396

Barack Hussein Obama! Adolf Hitler! Sarah Palin! In that order!

Hours of crying while laughing (followed by laughing while crying) are at your fingertips, thanks to the magic of the internet. Welcome to the future.


July 25, 2010

Happy Aniversary to Me! And Jac!

Filed under: DIY — Tags: , , — Ethan @ 11:15 pm

This week marks my second anniversary with my awsomefabulous partner. Rather than make you all unbearably jealous by bragging about my relationship, I’m gonna keep this fit for public consumption and brag about something else. I knitted this roughly anatomically correct heart as a gift for Jac our first valentine’s day together. Out of all the things I’ve ever made myself, it’s still one of the few I’m really proud of. Luckily, she liked it too. Or at least she’s nice enough to say so. Behold:

I can’t say I designed it myself, the pattern is available for free from Knitty. My biggest innovation was using a self-striping yarn, Noro’s Silk Garden, to get the color changes. It’s actually knit as a triangular funnel that you divide into two tubes. One tube is long and forks, the other is short and T shaped. You tie them together after you’re done (and in this photo, the knot is a little too loose for my taste). So it comes out like this:

So, happy anniversary to us. Go out and make yourself a stuffed heart; it looks like they’re good luck.


July 21, 2010

Web Game: Build-a-Deficit

Filed under: Government and Policy — Tags: , , — Ethan @ 9:16 am

This is a fun little web game, if you are as embarrassingly dorky as I am. You get a list of big-ticket items on the federal budget, and you’re supposed to trim the national debt down to a target of 60% by adjusting spending up and down. Personally, it confirmed most of my biases: I cut the military budget & upped corporate and high-income taxes, and then had so much cash I came in 5% under the target and could afford to up most every welfare program in sight (let’s just say letting the Bush tax cuts expire is practically a cheat code). Try it yourself:

Budget Simulator | Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget.


July 17, 2010

Periodic Table of Profanity

Filed under: funny,media and pop culture — Tags: , , — Ethan @ 6:02 pm

Those of you who know me well or are on the receiving end of my Google Reader barrage have noticed that I like periodic tables. Especially ones composed of things other then elements. This is my favorite of the week:

It’s a magnificent, apparently British thing, from the Interrogative series to the variations on Sodding. My only complaint is that the color-coded series only correspond loosely to their content.

And in all fairness to my content-thieving, I should mention that you can buy print over this away, and that I saw this first on the excellent blog Man Made DIY.


July 5, 2010

Zombies and the Collective Unconscious

Filed under: funny,media and pop culture — Tags: , , — Ethan @ 7:58 pm

I was hanging out with a friend tonight, and at some point I somehow wound up mentioning my recurring zombie dreams. I have a lot of different dreams about zombies, one every month or two.  Mostly, I’m being chased by zombies. Once or twice I was a zombie, one of which ended just as I was being sentenced to 6-8 years in prison for ‘attempted zombification’ of someone I’d tried to take a harmless little chunk out of.

My favorite is also the most elaborate. It spans several years. Basically,  a RAGE-virus style zombie apocalypse hit Athens. Lots of people became zombies, even more fled, and I managed to hold out with a couple dozen people, promptly availing ourselves of the nicest abandoned houses and cars in town. After a few months, the zombies got bored or hungry and wandered out of town. We planted gardens. Had picnics. Began to rebuild.

And then the zombie-virus epidemic waned out. After a few years of bloodthirsty brain-eating, people’s immune systems were able to fight it off. Pale, scabby recovering zombies started wandering in to town, not remembering much, but apologizing like hell for what they could remember. “Dude, I…uh…I’m sorry I ate your sister. I just couldn’t stop. I feel terrible.” And the survivors, who had been gleefully popping off any shuffling corpse that came this side of the horizon felt wave after wave of guilt. No one had really stopped to question if the zombies had lost their humanity for good. Many people had killed their own undead loved ones. It hadn’t taken very long at all to even stop thinking of them as former people.

We had to process with the zombies. It was fucking awkward. More than a few of the survivors started muttering that we should spare ourselves the trouble and see if we couldn’t kill the rest before they recovered.

My friend seemed to think this is one obvious permutation that hasn’t really been done before, and was prodding me into writing it up as a short story or something.

There’s the I Am Legend thing, where the zombies are supposed to be intelligent, but they’re certainly not *people.* We talked for a bit about the ways it’s telling that zombie attacks are the pop culture trope of the moment.

Alien attacks, and monsters, are perfectly cold-war. You have an adversary who’s sentient, malicious, and totally not human. A perfect chance for straight-up good guys vs bad guys, no ambiguity, and the sides are clearly demarcated. Plus, with aliens, it’s a good bet the humans are gonna need some pretty spiffy weaponry, to stand a chance against shockingly well armed, diplomacy-disinterested invaders.

But zombie movies are all about having the masses of people around you turn against you. You get to have to open fire into the crowd, inure yourself to killing your neighbors at any chance, and leave modern society behind.  I love zombie movies as much as the next guy, but seriously. There is some creepy shit under there.

And on that note, it’s past my bedtime. What do y’all think?


May 29, 2008

Good PR Indeed

After decades of running of being a terrible magazine, perennial Mad Magazine imitator Cracked has metamorphosed  into a sometimes funny, sometimes annoying web publication. Check out their 6 Most Badass Stunts Ever Pulled in the Name of Science, or at least the first page. No. 5, “Drs. Warren and Barry Marshall Drink Stomach-Eating Germs,” is one of my favorite semi-apocryphal science stories, second only to the laboratory urban legend about the undergrad who inadvertently overfilled an autoclave with still-frozen severed monkey heads.


May 11, 2008

I Want One of These So Badly

Apparently, this isn’t the first commercial attempt at making a wristwatch/cellphone combo, but it is the first I’ve seen. And I want it very, very badly. Dick Tracy watches don’t have quite the same ‘ok, we’re officially living in the future’ cache that flying cars would carry, but they come damn close. And at $300, it’s not even that expensive for a fancy cellphone. I hope other people buy them, so in a few more iterations, there’ll be a knockoff I can afford.


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