Saturday, April 30, 2005

Houses Are Like Rock Concerts

Brian
The Arizona housing market is so ridiculously overhyped right now that prospective buyers in the Phoenix suburbs are camping out overnight outside real estate sales offices to get the top houses:
Spencer Anderson is one Valley resident who bought into the "excitement" when he thought he would spend a quiet night alone on the stoop of the Pulte sales office at the Copper Basin development last month.

He had heard the subdivision, about an hour from downtown Phoenix along Hunt Highway in Pinal County, had been planning to release lots the following morning, and he wanted to get a jump on the competition by spending the night in line.

But Anderson, 27, wasn't the only potential buyer with that idea. At 10:30 on a Friday night, 13 people were already in line ahead of him.

"I didn't think there would be that many people hanging out sleeping overnight to do it," Anderson said.

By morning, Anderson said, more than 50 people were waiting in line for only nine lots released for sale that day.

After spending the night in his car and hanging out around a fire pit, gabbing with other prospective buyers and having a few beers, Anderson never did get a lot. A real estate agent had positioned nine clients at the front of the line at 4 p.m. the previous afternoon, a move Anderson thought was pretty smart.

Link. This is significantly less cool than camping out for Stones seats or Series tickets, marginally less cool than camping out for the midnight showing of Star Wars, and yet slightly more cool than camping out for Star Wars at the wrong theater.

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MC W

Brian
The Party Party (via Boing Boing) is a bootleg album of remixes and mashups with lead vocals by the President and featuring several of his politico friends. The highlights include this straight version of John Lennon's "Imagine" with a bit of Lou Reed's "Walk on the Wild Side" thrown in for good measure and this botched State of the Union Address wherein a freestyling Bush reveals that "Dick is a Killer."

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A Self-Aware Savant

Brian
It's a couple months old now, but The Guardian ran an interview with Daniel Tammet, an English autistic savant who is able to explain the process through which his brain computes so efficiently:
Tammet is calculating 377 multiplied by 795. Actually, he isn't "calculating": there is nothing conscious about what he is doing. He arrives at the answer instantly. Since his epileptic fit, he has been able to see numbers as shapes, colours and textures. The number two, for instance, is a motion, and five is a clap of thunder. "When I multiply numbers together, I see two shapes. The image starts to change and evolve, and a third shape emerges. That's the answer. It's mental imagery. It's like maths without having to think."
. . . .
Tammet is creating his own language, strongly influenced by the vowel and image-rich languages of northern Europe. (He already speaks French, German, Spanish, Lithuanian, Icelandic and Esperanto.) The vocabulary of his language - "Mänti", meaning a type of tree - reflects the relationships between different things. The word "ema", for instance, translates as "mother", and "ela" is what a mother creates: "life". "Päike" is "sun", and "päive" is what the sun creates: "day". Tammet hopes to launch Mänti in academic circles later this year, his own personal exploration of the power of words and their inter-relationship.

Professor Simon Baron-Cohen, director of the Autism Research Centre (ARC) at Cambridge University, is interested in what Mänti might teach us about savant ability. "I know of other savants who also speak a lot of languages," says Baron-Cohen. "But it's rare for them to be able to reflect on how they do it - let alone create a language of their own." The ARC team has started scanning Tammet's brain to find out if there are modules (for number, for example, or for colour, or for texture) that are connected in a way that is different from most of us. "It's too early to tell, but we hope it might throw some light on why we don't all have savant abilities."

Link. It sounds like Tammet's mental process is analogous to synaesthesia, but rather than conflating two sensations of different types (say, a scent and a sound), he's processing abstract concepts like numbers as concrete sensory images.

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Fun with Google

Brian
Google is many things: a powerful search engine, a comprehensive knowledge base, a growing corporation--and also a major player in the burgeoning field of Internet procrastination tools. One great new such tool is Grant Robinson's non-corporate-approved Guess the Google. The game displays a grid of images returned from a single Google Image search term, and your job is to guess the term. If you see, for instance, pictures of singers on stage, guitars, and screaming fans, you'd guess "concert" and score points for speed and accuracy.

My favorite new Google waste of time doesn't require any additional software. I like to call it
Plot the Bastards.
Step 1: Go to http://maps.google.com. Step 2: Enter a city, zip code, or other location into the search bar. Step 3: Choose a search term, preferably something humorous, offensive, silly, or all of the above, and enter it into the search bar. Google Maps will return a map plotted with the top results for the term you entered in the location you chose. Following these steps, I managed to discover the following:
Go forth and search for more creative (and obscene) people and places than I have.

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Thursday, April 28, 2005

Tows are Crovoking Exproding Ploads!

Brian

The AP may have solved the mystery of the exploding toads: it was the butler! No, wait, sorry, it was the crow!

Based on the wounds, Mutschmann said, it appears that a bird pecks into the toad with its beak between the amphibian's chest and abdominal cavity, and the toad puffs itself up as a natural defense mechanism.

But, because the liver is missing and there's a hole in the toad's body, the blood vessels and lungs burst and the other organs ooze out, he said.

As gruesome as it sounds, it isn't actually that unusual, he said.

Link. Oh, well, as long as toads spontaneously exploding because crows are dextrously excising their livers isn't actually that unusual . . .


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If Apartment Naming Isn't Your Thing...

Brian
...perhaps you'd be interested in bidding on Pope Benedict's old car?

It's a Volkswagen, it used to be Cardinal Ratzinger's, and it's currently over a million dollars. That's all I got out of it. I can't read French.

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Where All My Baby Teeth Went

Brian
Amidst all the recent hominid news, Scotsman.com connects the dots from Flores Man to Ebu Gogo to Fairies to Scotland. For the "pro" camp, there's a Nineteenth Century naturalist and a hotel owner:
John Frances Campbell of Islay was one of the first to go into print with his new theory. "I believe there once was a small race of people in these islands," he wrote in 1860.
. . .
One man not afraid to stand up and state his belief is Sir Iain Noble, the owner of Hotel Eilean Iarmain on the Isle of Skye.
"There's no question that they existed. They most definitely did," Noble insists. "We have two fairy houses quite close by and we have records of conversations between fairies and people on the island."

For the anti-fairy folks, there's book-learnin' folks from the University:
"I think it's highly unlikely," says Michael Bird, a geo-scientist and professor at St Andrews University who was involved in carbon dating the skull in Indonesia. "Although it's good for funding to let people speculate that they were around for a long time, I think it is probable that modern human ate them just as soon as they landed on the islands."
Bird is even less enamoured of any attempt to suggest that a similar race of little people were responsible for the fairy lore of Scotland, pointing out the devastating effect of the Scottish Ice Age.
"Scotland was virtually completely covered during the Ice Age and would have been a particularly nasty place to be," says Bird. "I really don't think anyone would have survived it."


Link. I'm siding with Bird for now. I don't think I'd be able to resist eating the fairies.

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More Strange Satellite Images

Brian

Two weeks ago I brought you news about the new images of Area 51 that are easily accessible on Google's satellite maps. Now Defense Tech has pictures of all sorts of strange airfields and formations gathered by poking around on Google, such as the above weird giant marking thing:
DS: Five circles inside of a triangle. It looks fake. But it shows up on other images and has road to it. It has to be an ultra secret homing symbol to assist E.T. with landing...Ok, just kidding...it's a bombing target.
JA: Sand, Cat D9, Bored Airman, Time, some assembly required. It could possibly be another navigational target, but just how many of those do you need in a 10 square mile area? Yanking the former Soviet Union's intel guys' chains? Yanking the Roswell bunch's chain?

Link (via Sploid). Leave this case alone, people. The military will not tolerate a Google investigation.

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Death Worm Expedition

Brian
Four English scientists, the Beatles of their era, are setting out for Mongolia in search of the legendary Death Worm and are blogging the whole expedition:
[We] are to spend a month in the hostile Gobi desert in search of one of the world’s strangest and most elusive monsters, the Mongolian Death Worm. Known to the locals as Allghoi khorkhoi (Mongolian for intestine worm due to its resemblance to a length of cow’s stomach), the blood red creature is much feared.

Three to five feet long, the Death Worm is said to lurk beneath the sands, emerging only at certain times of the year to spread fear among the desert dwellers. The nomads insist that the beast can spit a corrosive yellow saliva that acts like acid and that they can generate blasts of electricity powerful enough to kill a full grown camel. It is a monster worthy of Dr Who but how true are the stories?


Link (via Fortean Times). I, for one, hope they don't find it. Discovering this thing could . . . open up . . . a whole . . . can of . . . ah forget it.

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Random Movie Quote Thursday

Brian
Gozer the Traveler.
He will come in one of the pre-chosen forms.
During the rectification of the Vuldrini,
the traveler came as a large and moving Torg!
Then, during the third reconciliation
of the last of the McKetrick supplicants,
they chose a new form for him:
that of a giant Slor!
Many Shuvs and Zuuls knew what it was
to be roasted in the depths of the Slor that day,
I can tell you!


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Wednesday, April 27, 2005

The Party is Called Off

Brian
A couple weeks ago, I blogged about the Arizona legislature passing a bill to allow concealed weapons in bars. Well, now that raging extremist Gov. Napolitano has vetoed it:
The bill's sponsor, Republican Sen. Jack Harper of Sun City West, noted that Napolitano served as U.S. attorney for Arizona during the Clinton administration and said the veto is a sign that Napolitano is a liberal.

"I believe she personally is against the Second Amendment and that might have been her motivation," Harper said.

Mike Haener, Napolitano's chief lobbyist, confirmed the veto and disputed Harper's criticism. "The governor is a strong supporter of the Second Amendment," Haener said.

Link. Only an out-and-out hater of civil liberties would think changing the law to allow guns in bars is any other than an entirely sensible proposition.

The mood at the saloon was less than bright:



I'll teach that governor law--Western law!

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Make sure to get the right lighting

Brian
A barman in Somerset, England, was cleaning up the pub when he grabbed the wrong dishrag and ended up bitten on the hand twice by this guy:

To paraphrase a great television personality, the spider was yooge. So what did the guy do?
MATTHEW STEVENS’S first reaction when he was bitten by a giant spider that he disturbed while cleaning the freezer in his pub kitchen was to take its photograph with the camera in his mobile telephone.

The chef’s impressive presence of mind, prompted by the suspicion that his mates would never believe him, may have saved his life. Within minutes his hand had swelled to the size of a balloon. Later as doctors fought to save his life in hospital they were able to send the picture to experts at Bristol Zoo who identified his assailant as a Brazilian Wandering Spider, one of the deadliest arachnids in the world.

Link (via Fark). Lucky for Mr. Stevens, there's an antidote to Brazilian Wandering Spider venom. Here's a lesson to all you potential bite victims out there: treat the assault like the crime it is, and get a good ID of the perp. Later the cops can catch the mofo, smack him around a little, and ask where the antidote is.

Query: If the Brazilian Wandering Spider met Allomerus decemarticulatus in the Amazon and they got into a tussle, who would prevail? Methinks the trap ants, because there's no antidote to sheer animalistic depravity. But it would be awesome, like the T-Rex versus the raptors at the end of Jurassic Park.

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Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Ant it Fun?

Brian
You ever hear how one of the torture methods in the Wild West was coating someone in honey and tying them naked to a fire ant hill? Now the ants will do the work for you:
A fierce species of Amazonian ant has been seen building elaborate traps on which hapless prey are stretched like medieval torture victims, before being slowly hacked to pieces.

Egad. It's the description of the trap that gets me:
The [Allomerus decemarticulatus] ants cut hairs to clear a path under the plant stem, while leaving some hairs standing to form "pillars" on top of which the lethal platform will sit.

Using the plant hairs they have harvested, the ants weave the platform itself, which is bound together and strengthened using a special fungus.

When the ants have completed the chamber they puncture holes all along its surface, each just big enough to poke their heads through.

Then, hundreds of worker ants climb into the chamber and wait for an unfortunate victim.

"Workers will hide inside the platform, with their mandibles just inside the hole and they will wait there for prey to come," co-author Jerome Orivel of the University of Toulouse, France said.

Anything with legs slim enough to fit through the carefully constructed holes will meet a miserable fate if they are foolish enough to enter the trap.

"They will catch almost anything that goes on the trap," continued Dr Orivel. "And they will grab anything they can - legs, antenna, anything."

Once the prey is well secured by jaws fastening all its extremities, it is stretched over the platform like an ancient sacrifice to the gods.

Scores of worker ants then stream out from inside the trap and sting it vigorously to cause paralysis.

Once the creature is dead or fully immobilised, the ants will carry it to their nest, where they will dismember their prey before carrying it inside.

"Small insects will be immediately dismembered and transported to the nest," said Dr Orivel. "But bigger insects will stay on the trap for up to 12 hours."

Link (via Fortean Times). When the trap is set, it looks like this:

Insects + Collective intelligence + Depravity = I'd sooner eat an Albuquerque bologna sandwich than visit the Amazon.

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Earthquake Quakes Earth

Brian
The 2004 Boxing Day 9.3 magnitude earthquake that caused the Indian Ocean tsunami messed with the earth in numerous other ways:
The devastating 2004 Sumatran earthquake . . . should have left a detectable scar on Earth's gravity field, European scientists said Monday.

. . .

The magnitude 9.3 earthquake has already been said to have shortened the day by fractions of a second, shifted the North Pole by an inch, and made the planet less fat around the middle.

Link. Well looks like I'll be joining these folks and maybe getting one of these shirts.

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Monday, April 25, 2005

A Moment with the late Good Reverend, Sr.

Brian


Driving down I-81 outside of Harrisburg with a motorcycle zooming past in the right lane...

Dad: Now there's a great mode of transportation.
Me: Oh yeah?
Dad: It's economical, it's good for the environment, it gets great gas mileage, you can park anywhere...
Me: Sure.
Dad: And if you ever get one, I'll kick your ass.

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My my my my my bologna

Brian
A man was arrested for smuggling goods from Mexico to New Mexico. The goods? You guessed it. Black market bologna, bound for an Albuquerque swap meet:
Customs agents protecting the U.S. border with Mexico found and destroyed more than 800 pounds of bologna hidden under clothes in a man's suitcases, the Department of Homeland Security said Monday.

. . .

It was unclear what happened to the suspect, who[m] officials did not identify.

He stood to make a hefty profit, the (Department of Homeland Security) statement said. "The processed bologna rolls, which cost about $7 or $8 in Mexico, can bring three or four times that price in the United States," the statement read.

Link (via Boing Boing). I can tell you one thing: won't be buying any bologna at a swap meet in Albuquerque in the near future. No sir.

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Bitterness Paves the Streets

Brian

Seth Stevenson's Slate column "Ad Report Card" is usually an entertaining and thoughtful commentary on American television marketing, but this week he takes aim at our Tender Crisp Bacon Cheddar Ranch:
Likewise, Burger King's notorious Tendercrisp Bacon Cheddar Ranch spot—the one with a country song performed by Hootie (of the Blowfish)—tried almost desperately to focus on the sandwich at hand. The song had lots of sandwich-related lyrics, and there were even props like giant onions and buckets of ranch dressing. Of course, all anyone will remember is Darius Rucker (aka Hootie himself), the Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders in skimpy outfits, and the generic spokes-hottie Brooke Burke—all of them thrown together, in a surrealistic stew, for reasons utterly unclear to us and utterly divorced from the product.

Link. Worst of all, this blasphemy comes under the article title "The Last Days of Dada." I think "Ranch" and the rest of the spots Stevenson rails against--sheepboys, Starburst, and Salt-N-Pepa, among others--are less dadaist than surrealist. After all, their symbols have underlying meanings, often Freudian-sexual. Just check out the those ranch dressing girls.

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Terrible Yet Ironic Ways to Die

Brian
Picture yourself in the following scenario:
1. You are going skydiving in Florida.
2. You jump out of the plane.
3. Your legs strike the plane's wing, instantly severing them at the knees.
4. You keep your wits, open the parachute, and land safely.
5. Nevertheless, you die after being airlifted to the hospital.
Link.
I almost forgot (okay, I knew all along, but was pausing for dramatic effect):
6. Your last name is Wing.

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Sunday, April 24, 2005

Keeping up with the Bloggers

Brian
Many other blogs have been checking out their readability statistics recently. I decided to jump on the bandwagon and figure out what kind of writer I am . . . and what kind of reader you are.

We are quite simple, you and I. We're basically middle schoolers.


Readability Results for http://thegoodreverend.blogspot.com

SummaryValue
Total sentences368
Total words3,962
Average words per Sentence10.77
Words with 1 Syllable2,617
Words with 2 Syllables846
Words with 3 Syllables370
Words with 4 or more Syllables129
Percentage of word with three or more syllables12.59%
Average Syllables per Word1.50
Gunning Fog Index9.34
Flesch Reading Ease69.18
Flesch-Kincaid Grade6.29


It's those last few numbers we should be worried about. According to one index, you are reading and I am writing at a ninth grade level. According to another, that's really the sixth grade.

At any rate, we're a little more sophisticated than Reader's Digest, but less than Time Magazine. Which reminds me:

There. I'm officially the last blog in America to post that image. Am I serious or just having fun?

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Extoading Plodes

Brian
I'm glad this kind of toad is in Germany and not Lake Lag, or anywhere else near me:
According to reports from animal welfare workers and veterinarians as many as a thousand of the amphibians have perished after their bodies swelled to bursting point and their entrails were propelled for up to a metre.

It is like "a science fiction film", according to Werner Smolnik of a nature protection society in the northern city of Hamburg, where the phenomenon of the exploding toad has been observed.

"You see the animals crawling on the ground, swelling and then exploding," he said.

He said the bodies of the toads expanded to three-and-a-half times their normal size.


Link (via The Anomalist). What a way to go.

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TheGoodReverend's Tour of Stanford

Brian
One of the strangest areas on the Stanford campus is Lake Lagunita (Spanglish for "Little Lake Lake"), or, as the students know it, "Lake Lag" (Spanglish for "Lak Lake"). The scenic lake--nestled at the junction of the main campus and the foothills, home to boating, swimming, sunbathing and all sorts of watersports, pictured on Stanford literature from the admissions propaganda to the alumni magazine--has only one downside: it doesn't really exist. Not any more, not year-round, and never any more scenic than several hundred square feet of mud, frogs, endangered tiger salamanders, thorny bushes, and flesh-eating bacteria.

On the northwestern bank of Pit Lagunita, across a gully, a line of trees, and a fence, is the Stanford golf course's driving range. Occassionally a ball struck by an athletic golfer will land in the gully. Rumor has it that Tiger Woods was the only one ever to hit a ball from the driving range into Lake Lag.

This is all well and good, but Lake Lag and the driving range are not the kind of secret campus spot we're looking for. There is, however, a tiny little getaway tucked in between: the treehouse. This treehouse is not to be confused with the capital "T" Treehouse, the campus eatery whose name is a pun on the palo alto in the Stanford seal and the Band's mascot. This is a real treehouse--the kind of backyard fort you always wanted when you were a kid. You'll have to do some searching to find it--it's back there in the lake's drainage basin in a huge old oak. When you do find it, be careful. There are several dangers of the treehouse:

(1) There may well be poison oak at the base. No fun.
(2) The steps leading up to the treehouse are precarious and difficult to manage.
(3) The treehouse itself is little more than a platform consisting of a few planks, some of which are not secured. There are no rails. To top it off, you're higher than you think you are, because the tree leans out from where you climbed the steps over a sloping basin.

Nevertheless, you can enjoy the experience. When you're up in the treehouse, you'll feel like the only one in school who knows about the spot. And you'll wonder where in the hell it came from. Some rudimentary googling reveals that it's been sufficiently widely known and around long enough to be used in at least one permutation of that Stanford scavenger hunt tradition, The Game:
The hot pink color suggested by John pointed one out clearly. It marked a location by Lake Lagunita, where after some searching Chris found a man sitting up in a treehouse. This was Nathan, who said he designed the hieroglyphic code but had forgotten the key.

Link. And a Daily article from 2000 suggests the turbulent origins of the structure:
As Van der Ahe and Markham began hammering boards into the oak tree, however, the police stopped their work.

"The police have stopped our awesome tree house, because they do not want to be asked why they did not know about it. [They] were really stoked on the tree house, but said they we needed a building permit," said Van der Age.

According to Imogen Church, manager for undergraduate housing, "People can't just start building without an appropriate permit. There is a whole process they have to go [through]. First the tree house has to conform to safety rules and [Americans with Disabilities Act] guidelines.


Link. Still, I have a hunch the treehouse has seen more regeneration than the Van der Ahe-Markham version. When I stopped by in Spring Quarter, 2004, scraps of new wood surrounded the tree's base, and recent paint markings decorated the house's surfaces. I'd know that shoddy craftsmanship and pseudo-hippie graffiti anywhere: the coops had been working on this structure--if not EBF, then Synergy.

Previously on "TheGoodReverend's Tour of Stanford" . . .

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Friday, April 22, 2005

Invention Blows (Sound into) My Mind

Brian
Inventor Elwood "Woody" Norris has created a soundsystem that you can't hear . . . until he points it directly at you:
Norris pointed a metal frequency emitter at one of perhaps 30 people who had come to see his invention. The emitter — an aluminum square — was hooked up by a wire to a CD player. Norris switched on the CD player.

"There's no speaker, but when I point this pad at you, you will hear the waterfall," said the 63-year-old Californian.

And one by one, each person in the audience did, and smiled widely.

Norris' HyperSonic Sound system has won him an award coveted by inventors — the $500,000 annual Lemelson-MIT Prize. It works by sending a focused beam of sound above the range of human hearing. When it lands on you, it seems like sound is coming from inside your head.

Link. First thought: this is just like those targetted audio adds in Minority Report, which marks the second time in as many days a news story has reminded me of that movie. Second thought: this could be used for tremendous evil. Third thought: I could play hilarious jokes on my friends and loved ones.

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Recipe Friday

Brian
I didn't prepare any really great recipes this week. I have to admit, I'm a slacker. But this week I have a good reason: I can't eat. Well, that's a bit of an exaggeration. I can't eat very much.
You see, monday I was preparing some delicious instant potatoes au gratin from Trader Joes. The instructions have me microwave them on high for twenty-five minutes. I should have been on guard. At least it told me to let them cool for five minutes. Well, after the five minutes were up, I went to take a bite, when what to my wondering mouth did appear but a scalding hot cheesy potato that stuck to my hard palate. This potato was so hot that, in the half second it remained, it managed to give me a second degree burn. I developed a blister. At this point I'm thinking, should have let them cool for ten minutes. Well anyway this horrible burn on the roof of my mouth has yet to heal four and a half days later. There are only a few things I can comfortably eat, and one of them is Mrs. Good Reverend's wonderful creation:
Fruity Freeze
The name works on a couple levels. Anyway, this one is really easy, so long as you have a blender.

Food related products you'll need:
1 cup plain yogurt
1.5 cups milk
2 tablespoons powdered sugar
1/2 cup of ice

Now, you're going to need some fruit to make up the fruity part of this fruity freeze. At this point you have options, from which you can select according to your taste or means:

Option A
2 medium peaches, pitted
1 large banana, peeled. Maybe even divided into three perfect wedges, for fun.

Option 2
1 small orange, peeled
1/2 grapefruit, peeled
2 tablespoons pineapple juice, peeled (seeing if you are paying attention)
3 tablespoons coconut cream
Dash of lemon juice

Option III (if you make this version, omit the powdered sugar)
1/4 cup cherry jam, jelly, or preserves
1/4 cup boysenberry jam, jelly, or preserves
1/4 cup blueberry jam, jelly, or preserves
1.5 tablespoons pomegranate juice

Hardware you require:
One blender
Measuring cups and spoons

Okay, got your option picked out? Ready for this?
Take all your fruits, the yogurt, the sugar, and the milk, and stick them in a blender.
Blend until smootherific

What's left over? The ice!
Add the ice to the blender one cube at a time, blending until the whole thing is milkshake thick and smooth

Whippo! You are done.

Enjoy. May it soothe the mouth burns of us all.

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The business of blogs

Brian
Stephen Baker and Heather Green of Business Week have a pretty thoughtful, if sometimes annoying, article on blogs, how they work, how they came to be, and their implications for the future of business, advertising, media, and the way the public thinks:
The question came up at a panel discussion last week: Any chance that a blog bubble could pop? The answer is really easy: no.

At least not an investment bubble. Venture firms financed only $60 million in blog startups last year, according to industry tracker VentureOne. Chump change compared to the $19.9 billion that poured into dot-coms in 1999. The difference is that while dot-coms promised to make loads of money, blogs flex their power mostly by disrupting the status quo.

The bigger point, which is blindingly obvious when you think about it, is that the dot-com era was powered by companies -- complete with programmers, marketing budgets, Aeron chairs, and burn rates. The masses of bloggers, by contrast, are normal folks with computers: no budget, no business plan, no burn rate, and -- that's right -- no bubble.

Link (via Instapundit). Here's a premonition for you: I predict that by the year 2007, The Good Reverend will be slightly more popular than it is now. And that I'll have an office with things like pinball tables and beanbag chairs.

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Thursday, April 21, 2005

The Premonition Comes to Fruition

Brian
An Illinois woman, influenced by a premonition of her own death, took steps to save her soul that ended up killing her:
Charisse Hartzol decided to take her spiritual life more seriously after two recent events: the death of her beloved aunt and a premonition of her own death in a dream.

These happenings led the elementary school teacher to rush home from Champaign before dawn Sunday to make a church service in Chicago Heights.

She never made it.

Hartzol, 22, and two friends, Michael Edwards, 25; and Ramadan El-Amin, 21; were ejected and killed from a car that struck a truck head-on about 5:30 a.m. Sunday on Interstate Highway57, police said. Edward Gaines, 62, of Monee also was killed in the crash.

Link. Wow. That's so . . . every movie about physic visions / time travel ever made.

Goodbye Crow.

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Random Movie Quote Thursday

Brian
You only think I guessed wrong--
that's what's so funny.
I switched glasses when your back was turned.
Ha-ha, you fool!
You fell victim to one of the classic blunders,
the most famous of which is
never get involved in a land war in Asia,
but only slightly less well known is this:
Never go in against a Sicilian when death is on the line.
Hahahahahah.
[Thud]

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I support your vagina

Brian
A couple high school students in Minnesota are under attack by their administration for wearing "I [Heart] My Vagina" buttons they got at The Vagina Monologues.

School leaders said that the pin is inappropriate and that the discomfort it causes trumps the girls' right to free speech. The girls disagree. And despite repeated threats of suspension and expulsion, Rethlefsen has continued to wear her button.

The girls have won support from other students and community members.

More than 100 students have ordered T-shirts bearing "I [heart] My Vagina" for girls and "I Support Your Vagina" for boys.


Link. Course it's all fun and games for the oppressive fascist school administrators until the ACLU rides in.

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Cal sucks

Brian
Cal indeed sucks. In a related story, the life of one particular bear, who stole a professor's computer in order to cheat on the final, is about it get even suckier:
You are in possession of data from a hundred million dollar trial, sponsored by the NIH, for which I'm a consultant. This involves some of the largest companies on the planet, the NIH investigates these things through the FBI, they have been notified about this problem.

You are in possession of trade secrets from a Fortune 1000 biotech company, the largest one in the country, which I consult for. The Federal Trade Communication is very interested in this. Federal Marshals are the people who handle that.

You are in possession of proprietary data from a pre-public company planning an IPO. The Securities and Exchange Commission is very interested in this and I don't even know what branch of law enforcement they use.

Link to Boing Boing story with AV files of the professor's in-class rant, link to transcription on Blast Radius. Clearly this is retribution for the Play coming home to roost. Can retribution come home to roost? Well it just did.

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Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Giamatti on Baseball

Brian
Michael McCann of the terrific Sports Law Blog points me to an article on A. Bartlett Giamatti, taking time to comment:
Giamatti served briefly as MLB Commissioner in 1989, but died shortly after being named to the post. He also served as president of the National League from 1986 to 1989, and president of Yale University from 1977 to 1986. Amazingly, he was named president of Yale at the age of 39. Quite a life indeed. It's just too bad that he wasn't alive to have seen his son, Paul, become such a movie star.

In Giamatti's own words on the nexus of law and baseball:
[T]he umpire in baseball has unique stature among sport's arbiters. Spectator and fan alike may, perhaps at times must, object to his judgment, his interpretation, his grasp of precedent, procedure, and relevant doctrine. Such dissent is encouraged, is valuable, and rarely, if ever, is successful. As instant replay shows, very rarely should it be. The umpire is untouchable (there is a law protecting his person) and infallible. He is the much maligned, indispensable, faceless figure of Judgment, in touch with all the codes, the lore, with nature's vagaries, for he decides when she has won. He is the Constitution and Court before your eyes, and he may be the most durable figure in the game for he, alone, never sits, never rests. He has no side, save his obligation to dispense justice speedily.

Link. Maybe I should be an umpire. Or, like, President of Yale at 39.

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The Toxic Fungus Leads the Way

Brian
I think it's kind of silly that opponents of gay marriage trot out the argument that point of marriage is to produce children, so a combination of people who can't produce children because of gender incompatibility should not be able to marry.

That said, there was no surefire way to blow a hole in the theory . . . until a little thing came along called
Toxic Fungus.

Smart-pantses at Duke have discovered a type of fungus that can mate and reproduce--in same-sex pairs:

In the April 21, 2005, issue of Nature, the researchers reported that, in the infectious fungus Cryptococcus neoformans, members of the same "sex" can mate and produce offspring. Infection with the fungus can prove life-threatening in humans, and the findings might improve understanding of the fungal biology that underlies the infectious process, the researchers said. Discovery of the same-sex mating might also help elucidate basic principles governing the evolution of sex, they said.

. . .

"The findings suggest for the first time that the fungus has developed a novel type of sexual cycle, allowing sexual reproduction between members of the same mating type," he added. "That ability might confer an advantage for the fungus because patients infected with it predominantly harbor a single mating type, reducing the possibility of normal fungal sexual reproduction."

Link. This cryptococcus* is going to blow Massachusetts wide open.

*Give me a little credit for avoiding the obvious pun.

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Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Up next: Washing machine for disposable diapers

Brian
ACM over at Just Between Strangers points me toward an awesome new gadget that recharges "disposable" alkaline batteries:
Disposable alkaline batteries are not perceived by most people to be rechargeable, and that's how the manufacturers like it. Until digital pulse-technology chargers came out a few years ago, it was NOT an option for most people. Alkaline battery walls are very thin, and the heat generated by simple brute-force recharging frequently split them open with a bang.

Link. I think plunking down $40 on this thing could save serious cash in the long run. AND stick it to Big Battery.

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Off Dasher, Off Dancer

Brian
Lappland Reindeer--140 of them--pulled a lemming and ran off the edge of cliff:
One hundred and forty reindeer have plunged to their death in Lappland in northern Sweden, possibly having been chased off a cliff by a single lynx, reindeer herders said on Tuesday.
. . .
"It's a massacre. I have never seen anything like this," town spokesman Nils Petter Pavval told local paper Norrländska Socialdemokraten, adding that the reindeer had been grazing when something frightened them.

Link (hattip to The Anomalist). I'm not so sure about this lynx theory, but it does conjure up memories of Wild America with Marty Stouffer. I think possibly the elves were behind this. Or, worse, a puma.

I love that the story chooses to include this information at the end:
According to [Olof Tomas] Labba [of the Tuorpons Sami town that owns the reindeer], the reindeer had been valued at about 300,000 kronor (42,500 dollars).

So what you're saying is, I could buy a reindeer for like 300 dollars?

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Monday, April 18, 2005

Everything old is new again

Brian
La Historia del Mamut
Kozo the Hippo
The Ballad of the Sneak

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Sunday, April 17, 2005

Backs and writhe

Brian
It's a sad, sad day in Good Reverend land. I just found out that one of my favorite song lyrics of all time never really existed.

But first:

One of the greatest parts of rock 'n roll is the random lyrical shout. Completely separate from the normal chorus or verse, the shout can come at any point at the song and is usually the singer's way of asserting some aside, such as a command for the audience to do a certain dance, or a rant on some recurring musical theme, or an expression of emotion as a result of the song. Think Paul McCartney's "Judyjudyjudyjudy" in the "Hey Jude" na-nas, or James Brown's "Hep me!," or Michael Jackson's "shamone."

Of this great tradition there are a few that stand out for their creativity and bizarreness. One of my favorites is in the Temptations' "Ball of Confusion": "Great GoogaMooga, can't you hear me talkin' to ya?" I don't know what GoogaMooga is, and I don't care, but if you do, there's this. The brilliance of the line is in its rhythm and its impassioned petition--the whole song is a plea for understanding and compassion, but this takes the begging up a notch.

Another of my favorites is in Beck's "Loser": "Get crazy with the Cheese Wiz." Beck's lyrics are often surreal, but this command takes the cake. It's reminiscent of the kinds of shouts early rockers would say to get the joint to dance a certain way--"Watussi! Now slide!" But as far as I know, getting crazy with Cheese Wiz isn't a formalized dance technique. It is, however, something I want to ask the guys down at Jim's or Geno's to do next time I order a Philly cheesesteak.

The reason I say today is a sad day is because I learned that one of the greatest, if not the greatest, of these shouts was really just a figment of my imagination. In Queen's "Fat Bottomed Girls," toward the end when Freddie Mercury is in the groove, he shouts, "Get on your backs and writhe!" This is just sheer ecstacy--another dance command, this one calling for complete hedonistic reckless abandon. Imagine my dismay when I learned that the words are actually "Get on your bikes and ride." What the hell? Not. as. cool.

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Saturday, April 16, 2005

Bears do it, apes do it, even high schools when in scrapes do it

Brian
There's been a plethora of opportunities available lately for the highest bidder to slap an official name on things. First GoldenPalace.com, proud owner of the Madonna sandwich, purchased the naming rights of this new world monkey (get your t-shirts here). Now the San Francisco zoo is selling the naming rights to its pair of bears. Hell, last year a West Philly high school sold its naming rights.

This got me thinking. How many things are there out there willing to bear your moniker so long as it comes with some cash? A quick eBay search revealed this bird, this cat shelter, and even this Chicago Cubs documentary (if you've got $80,000).

This got me thinking some more. If these folks can do it, why can't I?

As of this moment, I'm putting the naming rights to my apartment up for auction.

You read correctly. My apartment. The whole thing. Six hundred and fifty square feet of Your Name Here. Whenever I talk about it on this blog, it could have your name on it. Whenever I mention it in conversation, it could be your nonsense word I'm mentioning. Whenever I give people directions, they'll be hearing your business's name.

If you're interested, check out the auction at eBay's "Naming Rights for My Apartment" listing. It'll be there for the next seven days. Got to strike while the iron is hot!

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Friday, April 15, 2005

Weird animals run amok

Brian
Would be cooler if you could see the weird dog picture
These days, if you're not a wolphin, you're a canis extraordinarius.

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Recipe Friday

Brian

It’s that time of the week again, or rather, it’s that time of one of those weeks during which I decide to actually submit an entry in this weekly feature.

Today’s recipe isn’t mine at all, but my wife’s. She prepared it earlier this week to my delight.

Mrs. Good Reverend’s Groin-Grabbingly Good Garlic Mashers

“They’re groin-grabbingly good!”


Food-style products you will need:

3 pounds of your favorite type of potato (which is usually whichever one happens to be in your fridge)

10 cloves of garlic

1 bay leaf

1 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons butter

3 tablespoons milk

Plus however much salt and pepper strikes your taste buds’ fancy

Hardware:

Knives

Measuring spoons

Large pot

Cutting board

Stove

Mixing bowl, if you got it.

Electric mixer (or potato masher) (or hipboots and a grape vat a la I Love Lucy)

Time to shape your stuff:

Wash the potatoes. You’ve really got to scrub potatoes, because they are dirty, because they live in the ground. On the other hand, as a wise man once said, “God made dirt; dirt don’t hurt.”

Leave the skins on. This is key. Just trust me.

Cut them into quasicube-shaped objects, roughly 1” x 1” x 1”. Stick them in the large pot.

Peel the 10 cloves of garlic. Lest you get confused, a clove of garlic is the little thumbdigit-sized wedge that breaks off, not the whole fist-sized hunk. Ten is really a guideline. Mrs. Good Reverend, clearly inspired by Nigel Tufnel, recommends going to 11. Throw them all in the pot with the potatoes.

Get your stuff working:

Add to the pot the bay leaf and the teaspoon of salt. Then pour enough water in to just barely cover the potatoes.

Stick it on the stove and cover it. Turn the burner up to high until the water boils, and then back it off to low.

Simmer for 10-15 minutes, or however long it takes to make the potatoes tender. Tender is what potatoes feel like when you poke them with a fork and you think to yourself “yeah, you know, I think I could mash this.”

Are they tender now? Good. Drain the pot, either by dumping it into a strainer (make sure it’s big enough) or by holding the lid while you tip it and let the water pour into the sink.

Rock and roll:

Find the bay leaf and discard it. It’s done its job. Goodbye, little leaf.

Now, if you’ve got a mixing bowl, put everything in that. If not, we can do this in the pot, but it’s not as nice.

Add the butter and the milk to the potatoes and start mashing. If you’re using a hand masher, just keep mashing. If you’re using an electric mixer, make sure it’s on low. Mash everything until it’s nice and mashed—like, whatever consistency you want, that’s all you have to do. If you want to add some more milk, add more milk. If you want to add some salt and pepper, add some salt and pepper. If you want to add some chocolate, go ahead, but I’d advise against it.

There you go, my man. Stick it in a bowl and serve it.

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Thursday, April 14, 2005

Erlenmeyer Flask

Brian
Sploid talks about the satellite views of Area 51 captured on Google Maps:

In the 1990s, bizarre stories were told by shady characters about alien spacecraft being flown and “back engineered” at Area 51.

Here’s Groom Lake — a dry lakebed that is nature’s perfect runway — and the adjoining test-flight facility. That runway is 5 miles long. The Google Maps can’t compete with the 1-meter resolution images catalogued here by the Federation of American Scientists, but you can’t beat the convenience or the price.


Link. I wish there were a way to get a little pink tag to point directly at the alien bodies.

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Now they want it back

Brian
This morning I turned to walk into the bathroom and saw a cockroach the size of a small dog scurry across the tile toward me. I lept out of its way as it knocked over the dining room chair and scampered behind the television where it sat, panting, looking at me and sinuously wavering its treebranchlong antennae. Eventually it attempted to burrow under the floorboards and I managed to subdue and ultimately suffocate it with WD-40.

I hate cockroaches. Hate them. I'm using the word "hate" here about cockroaches. Seeing this roach reminded me of the sheer horror I experienced when I saw a house centipede run across our bedroom wall several months ago. I had never seen such a thing, with its small sticklike body and dozens of legs of varying lengths, and I was certain that the little bugger had stepped into our room directly out of the paleozoic era. House centipedes aside, what was especially disconcerting about the appearance of "Tiny," as the cockroach affectionately and posthumously came to be known, is that it came on the heels of a rodent crisis in our apartment. On four occasions over the past three weeks, an unseen mouse has gotten into our various and sundry snack foods, torn through the packaging, and partaken of their snacky goodness.

I have combatted the mouse by sealing the foods in rubbermaid bins and placing traps around the kitchen. Yet he avoids capture. When I baited the trap with the very snack he'd stolen (oh sweet irony!), he came in the night and managed to swipe the bait off the trigger without springing the trap. Little sonofabitch. At least our food is now safeguarded. Without food, he'll go elsewhere. I found what I believe to be his hole, back in the wall in a tiny cranny behind our pantry shelves, so inaccessible that I could not seal it. What did I do? I sprayed it with WD-40.

Give me a can of WD-40 and a roll of duct tape and I'll solve all the problems of the world.

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Birthday party cheesecake jelly bean boom

Brian
You may recall I blogged about peak oil and the end of the world as we know it here. Thought you'd like to know that Boing Boing is now talking about it here.

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McCain takes on the hominids

Brian
John J. Miller at the National Review has an article on new legislation by Sen. John McCain (R-myhomestate) that, Miller believes, would threaten to unravel the very fabric of the space-time continuum American archaeology community:

Blocked by the courts, the tribes are now seeking a far-reaching political fix. They’ve enlisted the help of McCain, who has just shepherded a bill through his Senate Indian Affairs Committee. It’s actually a big piece of Indian legislation — one of those monster bills that almost nobody bothers to read from front to end. Tucked away in a hidden corner, the NAGPRA revision involves just a pair of words. Yet they would change everything.

Here’s how the law currently reads:

“Native American” means of, or relating to, a tribe, people, or culture that is indigenous to the United States.

Here’s the proposed revision:

“Native American” means of, or relating to, a tribe, people, or culture that is or was indigenous to the United States.

Those two words — “or was” — would transform the meaning of NAGPRA. To paraphrase a famous former Washingtonian, they would alter what the meaning of “is” is.

“If this becomes law, then anything prehistoric that’s found on federal land would have to be given up,” says Alan Schneider, a Portland, Ore., lawyer who has litigated the Kennewick Man case.

Link. Miller's concerned that, if McCain wins, we'll never find our American Ebu Gogo.

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Random Movie Quote Thursday

Brian
I couldn't believe it was her.
It was like a dream.
But there she was,
just as I remembered her.
That delicately beautiful face.
A body that could melt a cheese sandwich from across the room.
And breasts that seemed to say,
"Hey! Look at these!"
She made you want to drop to your knees and thank God you were a man.
She reminded me of my mother, all right.
No doubt about it.

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People and places

Brian
Slate's Bryan Curtis has an article about the decline of Trivial Pursuit:

This runs counter to the spirit of most board games—like Monopoly and Scrabble—which promise endless permutations. Trivia, it turns out, is nonrenewable. The Genus Edition so ably flattered boomers that they saw no need to buy later editions that included questions about, say, Melrose Place. What about children of boomers, Trivial Pursuit's other major demographic? They were warned away from the original—the box declared, "Age: Adult"—which of course made mastering the original game even more enticing. To compete at Trivial Pursuit, and maybe answer a question or two, was to secure a seat at the adult table. I remember my grandparents' astonishment when I correctly answered that Radar O'Reilly's favorite drink was Grape Nehi—a fact I'm pretty sure I learned directly from a Trivial Pursuit card. However sacredly boomers regard their nostalgia, it turns out their children regard it as more precious than their own.

Then came the Internet: How could Trivial Pursuit survive in the age of Google? The Internet has rewritten the rules of the game. The old measure of the trivia master was how many facts he could cram into his head. The new measure is how nimbly he can manipulate a search engine to call up the answer. The ABC show Who Wants To Be a Millionaire included a lifeline called "phone-a-friend," in which a desperate contestant was supposed to call upon the knowledge of a smart companion. Seconds after the contestant dialed for help, you could hear the guy on the other end pecking away at a keyboard—Googling—and I thought, This is it. Trivia is dead.


Link. OK, first of all, if he really watched Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? like, five years ago when it was popular and thought "googling," he was way ahead of the curve on the use of google as a verb. Secondly--hey man, I love Trivial Pursuit, but I guess I fall into the "children of baby boomers" category, so maybe I'm the last one.

Also, I just wanted to take the opportunity to point out how funny it is that everyone always referred to "Genus" as in "Genus II" and "Genus III" as "genius." I mean, making a mistake about the spelling of the word genius is pretty ironic, at least Alanis ironic. And making it when you're talking about a game that tests your useless knowledge? Icing on the cake.

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Wednesday, April 13, 2005

I'd like to buy the world a Coke

Brian
A quick and sloppy explanation: the Federal Election Commission has to regulate, among other things, what certain people in certain positions say regarding political candidates. It has been making an exception for the Internet, even though McCain-Feingold, the law governing its regulations, provides for no such exception. Now, however, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid and Rep. Jeb Hensarling are proposing legislation that would grant exactly that exemption in the form of a Congressional statute and allow the FEC to keep, rightfully, exempting the Internet.

Whatever The Good Reverend is, it is not typically a political blog, but I do point this "Online Freedom of Speech Act" out only to note how beautiful it is to see Instapundit and DailyKos agreeing with each other. The Internet is a uniter, not a divider.

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What do you get when you mix the environment with porn?

Brian
FFF, of course. I'll let you figure out what it stands for. And what the San Francisco Chronicle is doing publishing stories from "special" reporters about it.

Dirty hippies.

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Guns + Alcohol = Party party party!

Brian
The entertaining legislature in my home state of Arizona is once again providing hours of amusement for the entire family. Their latest Kaufmanesque jokestunt: approving a measure that would allow guns in bars. Oh, and did I mention it's in the wake of a highly publicized gun murder of ASU footballer Brandon Falkner? No? Well now I did. Hey, maybe if he'd had had a gun like a good Arizona clubgoer, the other guy would be dead instead.
"The shooting death of Brandon Falkner outside of a Scottsdale club is an example of what happens when you mix guns and bars," said Rep. David Lujan, D-Phoenix, who dedicated his opposition to the memory of Falkner. "Tempers, testosterone and alcohol are dangerous enough. Add firearms and the tragedies are inevitable."

Rep. Eddie Farnsworth, who led support of the measure, said the bill is about protecting the right to bear arms and the property rights of restaurant owners to allow or disallow guns in their establishments.

"Voting against this in memorial to somebody is a red herring," said Farnsworth, R-Gilbert. "The reality is that individual who was shot was in a parking lot and wasn't even in the bar. When you look at all the facts, it's amazing how the story changes."

Link to Arizona Republic story. I'd expect the passage of this bill to result in increased damage to saloon ceilings as Arizonans hoot and fire into the air at the sight of burlesque song-and-dance numbers.

Well, I suppose it's no dumber than drive-thru liquor stores. Okay, maybe a little.

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Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Garlic Mashers

Brian
A little over a month ago I suddenly became really into mashups--bootleg mp3s featuring several songs mixed ("mashed") together to create one coherent whole. You may be familiar with a few semi-famous ones: the Destiny's Child/Nirvana mashup "Smells Like Booty" from a few years back, or DJ Dangermouse's infamous Gray Album, mashing Jay-Z's Black Album with The Beatles' eponymous white album. In the intervening weeks, my interest has waned, mostly because the majority of mashups seem to be done by any dork with the right software and some limited knowledge of pop music (what an elitist music snob am I).

Yet even though I've stopped listening to most of the mashups I downloaded and quit searching for new ones, there is one shining example of a perfect mashup that remains in my playlist: DJ Earworm's Scissor Sisters vs. The Beatles vs. George Michael vs. Aretha Franklin gem "No One Takes Your Freedom." Download and see for yourself.

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Monday, April 11, 2005

I caught you a delicious concurrent resolution

Brian
Either
(1) This is one of the top five greatest bills ever passed by a state legislature, or
(2) I really want to be a State Representative, because their job is awesome.

From a real (I kid you not) Idaho concurrent resolution honoring the makers of Napoleon Dynamite:
WHEREAS, tater tots figure prominently in this film thus promoting Idaho's most famous export; and
WHEREAS, the friendship between Napoleon and Pedro has furthered multiethnic relationships; and
WHEREAS, Uncle Rico's football skills are a testament to Idaho athletics;
Link to the full text of the bill.

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Weasel Trek

Brian
If you've ever wondered what would happen if you shipped fifteen individual stuffed weasels with Swedish names all over the world and tracked their adventures in words and pictures, you'll be glad that there's a site like Weasel Trek to satisfy your curiosity.

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We'll all be like Lestat

Brian


This man, Aubrey de Grey, says that in a few decades, we're all going to start living forever:

You think this project is going to succeed in your lifetime?

I think it’s got a respectable chance. I’m definitely not relying on it. My main motivation comes from the thought of how many lives will be saved.

Your strategy would involve not only preventing aging, but reversing it as well. Does that mean people will get to choose what age they want to remain?

Absolutely. So the idea is that we wouldn’t be eliminating aging from the body. It’ll be a case of going in periodically and having the accumulated damage repaired. So exactly what biological age you actually have at any point is really just a question of how often you go in for rejuvenations and how thorough they are.

So the more treatments you undergo, the younger you can be?

That’s right. I think it’s reasonable to suppose that one could oscillate between being biologically 20 and biologically 25 indefinitely.

Link to Livescience.com. What's next, a cure for seventeen stab wounds in the back?

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My mother was a tailor

Brian
Archaeologists digging in the French Quarter may have found the House of the Rising Sun:

Until this year, most people speculating about the origins of the old song "House of the Rising Sun" didn't even mention the Rising Sun Hotel.

But archaeologists digging in the French Quarter say that whether or not the Rising Sun was the debauched establishment described in the song, it was definitely debauched.

The key clues were at least seven rouge pots - with openings wide enough to allow an easy two-fingered scoop - dating from the 1820s.


Link to AP story. Apparently they also found a series of daguerreotypes called "Harlots Gone Wild" featuring amateur models flashing their naughty parts at the camera obscura for beaded necklaces.

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Sunday, April 10, 2005

Save the Pay Phone

Brian
When I think of pay phones, I think of the summers of my adolescence, spent traveling the country with my grandparents and two cousins in an RV, when my nightly calling card call to my mother from the campground pay phone would be our signal to the grounded world back home that we had arrived somewhere and we were alive. A decade later, pay phones are rapidly becoming obsolete, as more and more Americans use cell phones to contact anyone, anywhere, anytime. The Christian Science Monitor is running a story on the endangered pay phone and the movement to preserve it:

According to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), the number of pay phones in the US dropped to 1.5 million in 2003, down from 2.1 million five years earlier - as the number of cellphone users surged. In Maine during that same period, the number of pay phones declined by almost half, says [Maine state Rep. Herbert] Adams.

Yet not all Americans, especially older Americans, have cellphones or live in places where coverage is available or adequate. Not to mention the human factor: inadvertently leaving a phone at home or forgetting to recharge the battery.


Link. Unfortunately the decline of the phone booth brings an end to Colin Farrell sniper morality plays as well. But at least we have Kim Basinger crime thrillers to keep us occupied.

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RSS Feed

Brian
I've added an RSS feed to TheGoodReverend. What does this mean for you? Well it enables you to "subscribe" to TheGoodReverend by setting up an account with an RSS aggregator, such as Bloglines, and adding the feed link from this site (it's the little orange XML button in the sidebar). This way you'll know when TheGoodReverend is updated with new posts. Of course, it might be easier for you to just check this site to see if it's updated with new posts. But if you are used to checking a lot of blogs, and many of them have RSS feeds, you can add them all to the aggregator and then just check the aggregator to see when there are new posts. It'll even give you a little blurb about the post. Yeah so it's kind of nerdy and probably not useful to much of my esteemed audience. But mark my word: in the future, everybody will be checking their RSS aggregator while riding their hoverboards.

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Reasonable and Prudent

Brian
From The Flint (Michigan) Journal:

Motorists on southbound I-75 this morning were greeted with a freeway construction message board proclaiming "speed limit 100 mph go go go."

Link. If I had the power to hack into highway message boards, I think I might put out an Amber Alert for the vehicle description of the guy that just cut me off.

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Power forward of the Seattle Supersonic-ahs

Brian
What's wrong with Seattle's power forwards? Lonnie Shelton, Xavier McDaniel, Shawn Kemp, Vin Baker, Danny Fortson--all have met untimely suspensions, retirements, legal troubles, or spontaneously combustions. One even choked on vomit--it may not have been his own vomit, but we don't know whose vomit it was.

By way of explanation for this, I have two words for you: Spencer Haywood. And one more word: voodoo. That's right, something D-O-O economics. Seattle Times has the story:

Haywood made mention that he placed a hex on the team and would only lift the spell upon receiving confirmation that his No. 24 jersey would hang in the rafters.

"I'm from a place where we know about voodoo and stuff like that," said Haywood, a native of Silver City, Miss. "I got some chicken bones around here, so I used some old Black Magic like that boy in Boston did to the Red Sox. This stuff is real, man."

It's difficult to know when Haywood is joking or being serious.


Luckily the Times brought in a voodoo expert to sort out the facts from the fiction:

"On some level, they are aware of what's going on, perhaps not consciously," said Ms. Medicine Woman, an ordained minister, spiritual healer and Earth steward. "Or if they are aware of it, they might have laughingly dismissed it. But it's been talked and it's out there.

"Until they believe it, address it head-on, then it will always linger. And in this case, to reject it they must first say, 'I understand this belief system and I send it back. I do not claim it. It does not belong to me. I ask that it return to its source.' Until that's done in some meaningful way, then you can say that yes, the curse will remain."

Link. Usually you get your number retired because of the great contributions you have made to the team, but I suppose freaky voodoo blackmail is as good a reason as any.

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Links to the Seattle Times require registration. If you don't like compulsory registration at sites like that, check out bugmenot.com, which will supply you with a login, and even includes an extension to allow Firefox users to do it automatically.