Posts Tagged ‘science’

Oklahoma: Filling in the Blank

May 1, 2014

So why am I even here in Oklahoma? Why do I continue to live in a state that can’t even kill people on purpose cleanly, accept federal dollars to improve the health care provided to its citizens, resist electing the most extreme kind of dumb-asses the country has to offer, etc?

It’s simple: I was born here, my kids live here and if I were to just write the state off… well, the terrorists would win.

It wasn’t but a year or two ago when a co-worker came to me to ask if it wasn’t true that “Obamacare” required that children be injected with a microchip (“the Mark of the Beast”). 70+ percent of the voters approved a statewide referendum to prohibit ‘Sharia Law’ here. As many people that claim, nationally, their belief that the Hebrew God created the world less than 10,000 years ago, I’d bet that almost twice as many Oklahomans believe the same. If a plurality of my statesmen aren’t home-schoolers that are ‘hooked on phonics’, they wish they had the patience/resources to be.

Oklahoma’s people are largely an ignorant and fearful folk: they fear negroes (especially the President), non-European immigrants, change, secular anything,  books, the commie United Nations, most new ideas and the Big Scary World.  Believe me, I know about Oklahoma. I was born here, grew up here and stayed here.

Believe me: it was not always this FUCKING STUPID A PLACE TO LIVE.   No, the Dark Flame of Ignorance has been carefully tended and stoked to make Oklahoma a Beacon of Idiocy:

  • Governor Mary Frick’n Fallin, the adulterous darling of the Tea Party, has been paid to oppose damned near everything that could make things better for this state while her spoiled brat daughter openly mocks Native Americans
  • Senator James Mountain Inhofe, who has for years been a global laughing-stock over his conspiratorial thinking on human sexuality, climate change and the dang-nabbed 20th Century in general
  • The numb-skull state representative that put a 10 Commandments monument on the grounds of the capitol but couldn’t get the spelling right
  • Another cretin on the state payroll that campaigned against using human fetuses in food products
  • The list goes on and on!

So why am I still living in Oklahoma?

Some amazing things have happened here.
I have fond memories of ‘liquor by the wink’.
Once upon a time, we had the highest per capita membership in the Communist Party in the nation.
Cannabis was once the number one cash crop.
The musicians are amazing here.
The state bird, the scissor-tail flycatcher, is cool.
Gas prices are low.
Maybe I’m too lazy to move and if I did only the Crazies would be left!

Fuck Governor Fallin and all her kind.
Fuck the followers of Oral Roberts and his fellow travellers.
Fuck the Koch Brothers and their veinal scheming.
Fuck all the manipulators of well-meaning Okies! Their hearts are pure, but —

I’m staying here to fill in the blank, the blank that they told me to erase and write something else in (but I won’t!).
I’m staying here to remind them of every time they are so terribly wrong that they pretend like they weren’t.
I’m the fly that stays clear of their patent medicine ointment.
I’m no Tom Joad, but for crying out loud, if people like me left this state, what would be left besides the easily led?
I am an Oklahoman, and I’m  staying here whether they like it or not: I want to rub them the wrong way.

Maybe I’m staying just to annoy the rest of ‘us’… because ‘we’ need to be annoyed.
What they’ve done to us shouldn’t be forgiven or forgotten or excused.
Those bastards did it for money and power and greed, straight up.
I wanna be here to watch the payback, if it ever comes.

 

 

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A Quiet Sunday Post

April 13, 2014

{Much has been in transition here at Elwood Manor: a job change, obligatory after-work coursework of an unhelpful nature, various demands on my limited resources and some general readjustments. These have conspired to limit my inane stream of posts, but I’ve caught up on things (for now at least), so here’s a meager offering of tidbits I’ve found interesting of late}.

Slate’s feature on Your Inner Fish looks at why religious nutjobs Creationists hate the Tiktaalik. This Devonian example of tetrapod evolution had both lungs and gills, could probably do push-ups and had a face only a mother tiktaalik could love.  Is it because it’s a prime example of an organism transitioning between life in the water and life on land, or that it was discovered pretty much where geology and evolutionary theory predicted it would be that pisses them off so?

In other news of the backward, they’re still trying to overturn the consensus that the Earth orbits the Sun. You can’t make this stuff up… which is what makes a parody like this one so damned cutting! It only hurts because it comes out of Kansas!

Lots of sturm und drang over a scrap of ancient papyrus in which there is discussion of Jesus’ wife. My reading of the fragments makes it sound more like a hypothetical discussion, for what it’s worth, though I seem to remember Sunday School discussions indicating that Jesus wouldn’t have been called ‘rabbi’ (teacher) unless he was married. So He could walk on water, but marriage is a bridge too far for some? Given the Paulian attitude toward women (and sex in general), it’s amazing that this religion found any foothold at all.

Of course you don’t have to be a backwoods snake-handler to screw with science, as Greg Schiller can attest. He’s the science teacher at LA’s Cortines School of Visual & Performing Arts who was suspended in February because some idiot thought two of his students’ science projects looked “dangerous”. Maybe it’s only a coincidence that Greg Schiller is also the teachers union representative at the school and had been dealing with disagreements with administrators over updating the employment agreement under which the faculty works? Parents and students are rallying around Mr. Schiller. Let’s hope they can overcome the LA school system’s apparent stupidity and/or duplicity.

The Heartbleed bug in OpenSSL is one of the really big software DOH!s in recent memory. XKCD gave the best quick explanation out there. Heartbleed.com has a long-form exploration.   Bloomberg reports that the NSA had exploited the bug for years, but the NSA denies it (predictably). We all know that the NSA never lies and is always right, right?

 

As Radio Shack Lays Dying — A Love Letter

March 5, 2014

Once the go-to shop for American geekdom, Radio Shack is closing another 1000 retail outlets. Some blame Amazon, the internet, a dumbed-down consumer even, but Radio Shack really has no-one to blame but themselves.

Radio Shack, we were once friends, lovers even, so take this as friendly advice: abandon your current, worthless PR efforts (after the firing squads are done, anyway) and re-engage with your core market. Or… just die. Preferably quickly.

That sounds harsh, but that’s how things are now.

Regarding your PR: does Toys’R’Us buy ad-space in the ‘Journal of Injection Moulded Plastics’? Of course not.
So why does
 Radio Shack buy ads in magazines catering to electrical engineers? A smiting is warranted by this abject idiocy.

Also, is this lame ‘Do It Together’ campaign the best you can do, a shitty logo with nothing to back it up? How does this engage anyone that doesn’t already shop at Radio Shack? ‘We’re Doing Ourselves’ would have been a more appropriate slogan. Those behind this wasted effort should be fired, and I’m not just talking about the ad agency. All it takes is one glance to see that somebody at Radio Shack didn’t have their thinking cap on… or just quit trying. 

Your core market:  the DIY folks — the enthusiasts, tinkerers and crackpot inventors. You know, like those ne’er-do-wells named Wozniak and Jobs? The polite term is ‘Maker’ now and if you can bring yourself to become a useful resource to them, the Makers can save your feckless corporate ass. 

Drop the appliances and cellphones and all that other crap that every other retailer kicks your butt at and focus on the Makers that nobody else is serving. This market is yours to lose.

Cast your minds back to the Tandy Leather stores, the sister shops to the old Radio Shack. The joke used to be that fetishists were keeping them in business. But if you drop over to their website, take a look at their in-store class schedules.  Hmmm, that’s a tool of engagement that Radio Shack never offered. Interesting. And predictive. 

I know you’ve tried carrying a few fun products like Arduinos and Basic Stamps (hidden between the mountains of bullshit, toys and iPhone cases), but there is a big difference between putting a product on your shelf and actually engaging potential customers for that product. You already know this, right? Well, do something about it!

Everything wrong at Radio Shack can be fixed. If you need some ideas (and you really-really do, old chum!), here’s a few freebies:

  • Sponsor local school Chess Clubs and Science Fairs. This is where Makers and geeks come from!
  • Hold some kind of in-store intro classes. If they don’t know how to use it, they won’t buy it! Of course, you’ll need someone with a clue to teach these classes, so…
  • Get to know your local Makers, maybe even hire a few of them: think ‘seed crystals’! These folks network and scheme and organize. Use them!
  • Make ‘The Shack’ a meeting place for those techie losers… just like in the old days. Knowledgeable staff and espresso would help.
  • Sponsor your local hackerspace(s)! A few resistors and some soldering irons would make a big splash for little cash!
  • Quit doing everything you are doing now that doesn’t work and THINK for a change!

Regarding your stupid Super Bowl ad: Makers don’t give a fuck about your shitty store fixtures… but I’d bet they would compete to design and fabricate some very sweet custom fixtures for their local ‘Rat Shat’. Just sayin’.

Amazon and other online sellers are slaughtering small retailers. They used to say the same thing about big box stores. But guess what? You can’t stream a hands-on experience. I had a coffee seller tell me that they didn’t bother with an on-line presence because that’s not what sells coffee. Same thing with Makers and their tactile, muscle-memory, wiggle-that-wire meatspace. You cannot put that experience or that face-to-face learning down a wire, not even a coaxial one. That’s what Radio Shack has to stick to if it wants to survive.

Do you get it, old friend?
We don’t like watching you die from self-inflicted wounds.
You can fix this… and your shareholders and the Makers would be thankful if you did.

A Map of Sin and the Death of the Dumpling King!

December 19, 2013

New archaeological evidence from China for the first time documents a chain of events that forged the relationship between human and feline.

#Srirachapocalypse: the ongoing Huy Fong saga. This time it’s personal! Should I start shopping my “Srirachanado!” script yet?

Ohsho Dumpling King Dead after Suspected Shooting! Last year, Japan’s National Police Agency reported 17 gun murders. In the U.S., where population is about 2.5 times greater than Japan, the number of homicides involving firearms hovers around 10,000 per year.

Two-Headed Pig Underscores China’s Need For Quality Semen!

Some naughty crinimals hacked Target’s credit card data over Black Friday. Easier to carry than gold bars, I guess.

Meet Valkyrie, NASA’s new “superhero” robot.  Okay fine, it was designed to be able to access disaster areas and help rescue survivors. Let’s all hope for very slow disaster scenarios and that the bots can play Wagner.

The Only Thing Weirder Than a Telemarketing Robot… a Telemarketing Cyborg!!!?

Sun will ‘flip upside down’ within weeks, says NASA. It does that. The SyFy original is bound to write itself.

It’s the end of the world for radio evangelist Harold Camping. Same goes for legendary country singer Ray Price.

How Benign Bacteria Evolve to Virulent Pathogens: it’s just a shout away!

A Map of the Weirdest Sex Laws in the United States. Oklahoma bar owners: you MUST NOT ALLOW simulated sex with animals (not even them fancy animatronic ones)  on your premises! IT’S THE LAW!!!

Things: Creepy and Otherwise

October 23, 2013

Pertu-Saska-a-kind-of-you-18

 The pictures of these Jakarta street apes wearing baby doll parts are like demented Calvin Klein ads from Hell.

Besides being just a bit creepy, sometimes clowns are deadly. Especially true if you are a certain Mexican drug lord.

German dogs are in danger of overdosing on drug-addict feces.

The Navy’s newest warship, the USS Zumwalt,  is designed for stealth, survivability, firepower… oh, and it runs on Linux.

Aaron’s Inc., a rent-to-own retailer, has agreed to stop using software to secretly spy on and photograph computer-rental customers’ “intimate activities.”

This must mean it’s The Future now: finally, a flying car that actually looks pretty cool.

In 1993, a team lead by Carl Sagan announced the discovery of life on Earth.

Professor Adam Grant of The Wharton School thinks that the study of economics can make greed seem morally acceptable.

A Florida model tried using the old “he kept walking into my knife” defense. It didn’t impress the judge.

Experts have found the first venomous crustacean – a centipede-like creature that lives in underwater caves.

There’s no mystery about a video called ‘The Most Horrifying Parasites’. It is a fact that there are no beautiful parasites.

Jon Pertwee’s secret life as a wartime agent… years before he did battle with the Daleks.

Philip K. Dick – The Man Who Remembered the Future. Phil not only questioned everything, but he discovered some amazing Truths along the way.

Sort of a Dick-ish problem: “I told my daughter her living room TV was out of sync. Then I noticed the kitchen telly was also dubbed badly. Suddenly I noticed that her voice was out of sync too. It wasn’t the TV, it was me.”

Wingnut blames President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder for the increase in mass shootings. I’ll bet they’ve got good alibis for most of those.

The Fox News PR department used thousands of ‘sock puppet’ accounts to bury anti-Fox opinions. That sounds ‘fair and balanced’ doesn’t it?

Mississippi Republican Chris McDaniel shared the stage at a new-Confederate event with a historian who says Lincoln was a Marxist.

Alan Grayson compares Tea Party to KKK: ‘If the hood fits, wear it’.

Gods and Monsters

October 18, 2013

Dark Horse has launched a new comic book series where atheist superheroes protect the Earth from supernatural forces they don’t even believe in.

Here’s 11 horror movies that are incredibly scary because of what they say about humanity. I thought they all were!

Rare non-face palm news out of Indian Territory! The first 24 hour automated library in the U.S. has been installed in Norman OK!

The robot apocalypse has been postponed! In front of dozens of journalists yesterday in Hong Kong, DARPA’s 330 pound Atlas robot lost its balance and broke its ankle during a demonstration of walking.

Law of Urination: all mammals empty their bladders over the same duration.

A new study published in the American Journal of Medicine finds that heavy pot smokers tend to be slimmer than former marijuana users and non-smokers. So that’s what happened to my 30 inch waist!

Poor children are now the majority in American public schools in South, West. Standardized testing won’t fix that.

Yes, Evil Knievel endorsed a scooter-chair in his declining years. Sad, isn’t it?

Authority > LeadershipAuthority in the Village from Italy to Ireland“.

There’s an interesting “sedition petition” that’s got over 40,000 signatures.

At a loss for words? Try the Tea party Insult Generator! It’s powered by actual insults spewed on John Boehner’s Facebook wall!

Beloved Imbeciles

“The righteous hates falsehood, but the wicked brings shame and disgrace” – (Proverbs 13:5). Yea and verily, my own district’s Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-Pekoe and Orange Pekoe) issued the following statement on his vote to continue the government shutdown Wednesday night:

I voted ‘No’ on the bill to raise the debt ceiling without any spending controls and fund the government without providing any relief to millions of Americans being harmed by Obamacare. The President’s policy of funding all of the government or none of the government violates the principles of a representative republic and is devastating to a nation historically governed by consensus.

Yep, them Obamacare casualties are just littering the streets, aren’t they?  This kind of hyperbole, coupled with the fact that Bridenstine is known to be able to both read and write, is why I conclude that he is a very lazy liar that just doesn’t care to sound even a little credible. Because, hey, TYRANNY!, right?

Mr. Bridenstine doesn’t seem to comprehend that, under the Constitution of this representative democracy, there are just two ways to undo the Affordable Care Act (since the Supreme Court has already killed the “declare it unconstitutional” gambit):

  1. Pass a bill in congress to overturn the ACA, and have the president sign it into law, or
  2. Pass a bill in congress to overturn the ACA, have the president veto it, then override the veto by two-thirds vote in both houses of congress

It’s a little odd to have to explain this to a congressman, even a spurious ‘wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross‘ rookie like Bridenstine, but he’s just a mendacious little tool and not an overly bright one at that. Go Okie voters!

Rep. Tom Cole was the only member of Oklahoma’s all-Republican delegation voting to re-open the government. I’ve lauded Rep. Cole in the past for being the most pragmatic member of the Oklahoma delegation, by far. We might not agree on much, but with Cole you won’t get an argument about the sky being “up” or 2+2 being equal to 4. This sets him head and shoulders above the rest.

On the other hand, in the Senate, crazy old Tom Coburn (R-Rampant Lesbian) was among the 18 senators who voted against the measure. Sen. Jim Inhofe, recovering from surgery to remove a scientific hoax, was unable to vote but released this statement:

The president has taken care of his pet projects while letting the most foundational elements of the Constitution — from budgeting to national security — sit on the back burner. Because of his leadership, we have operated from one crisis to the next. It happened once again when he and Majority Leader (Harry) Reid held Congress hostage with the debt ceiling in order to forge a deal that falls short of anything worthy of conservative support. It’s time this ends and my colleagues face the overdue discussion on the scope and size of federal government.

Does that parse as being as disconnected from reality to you as it did for me? Maybe it was only the Demerol talking, though with Inhofe how would you ever know?

Electric spiders and H-bomb duds

September 24, 2013

We almost lost North Carolina in 1961. Good thing the Mark 39 Mod 2 H-bombs that got dropped were more unreliable than they were unsafe.

Over 150 Americans die each year on average after accidentally taking too much acetaminophen. Good thing they put it in everything.

Do I behead them and drink their blood… or just do some household chores? How the voices in our heads reflect cultural influences.

Just what we need, electric spiders. Do arachnids dream of electric flight?

While you wait for the Navy Yard shooting “Truther” kooks to erupt (it’s only a matter of time), try this quick read: CONSPIRACY THEORIES, MAGICAL THINKING, AND THE PARANOID STYLE(S) OF MASS OPINION.

There’s a simple reason why supply-side economics doesn’t work — and the data confirm it.

The wild story of the short-notice, three-hour viewing period for a national-security document on the August Friday that summer recess started. It was on display in the bottom of a locked filing cabinet stuck in a disused lavatory with a sign on the door saying ‘Beware of the Leopard’.

Wanna See Me Eat Some Paste?” By Sen. Ted Cruz.

The evolution of bald men:

An Animalistic Friday

September 20, 2013

Good kitty! That is Hercules, a ‘liger’ and the world’s largest feline. His mama was a tiger, his daddy a lion. Kinky!

Meet the Maleo, the only bird that can fly the moment it hatches.

The pangolin is the strangest creature you didn’t know was endangered. Why would anyone imagine they even exist?

Some friends of mine captured two copperheads copulating. (Warning: brief NSFW language, and it turns into snake snuff porn at the very end).

Dogs are perfectly happy to interact with robots if they look human. It’s all good if there’s a crotch to snuffle inappropriately!

The strange plot for the Elites to take over the world: The strange story of Atlantica! Did their sinister plan succeed?

“You’re in for WHAT?!” An Australian man has been indicted for a mobile home burglary that netted him an assortment of dwarf porn.

Better than “Sunset Pines”, Granny? Take a look inside the “witch camps” of Ghana.

Invasion of the Algae from Space! Much ado about bad science and even worse reporting thereof.

“Oklahoma – where tall, blond Nordic aliens abduct students by the lake?” Maybe, but maybe not.

Think your cosplay outfit is da bomb? Get a load of these: Creative Costumes of Still-Practiced Pagan Rituals of Europe (19 pics)!

Your politics is broken: Sens. Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio and Rand Paul don’t really hate Amurrica, they just have to grandstand to get attention (and raise funds) because their “base” is as dumb as a certain stump!

It’s a Wonderful World

August 27, 2013

The Onion called it in 2008: Sources Warn Miley Cyrus Will Be Depleted by 2013

Schizophrenia just ain’t what it used to be. ‘For an illness that is often characterized as a break with reality, psychosis keeps remarkably up to date.’

“…There is no Cause of Fear, tho’ possibly there may be of Laughter”: How 3 street drugs got their start

“Running of the Bulls” meets “Crashing of the Drones” in Virginia. Only 5 were injured, none of whom were insurgents prior to the event

TooMuchCoffeeMan: “Would you rather work retail or..?“. Wheeler is also selling the original artwork for his “McDonald’s Hot Coffee Lawsuit” strip (which is well worth a read)

Terror of the Tokoloshe: The Untold Story of Southern Africa’s Hairy Invisible Ghost Rapist

Beach looks at “Pre-Viking Vikings in the Faroes

Nick Redfern presents an argument against “Flying Triangle” UFOs being mere top-secret aircraft

Missile silo homes are okay I guess, but houses in water towers have better light

Obesity: it’s not just for humans any more. Both wild and domestic animals are putting on the pounds

In the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, the Inca Empire was the largest South America had ever known. Rich in foodstuffs, textiles, gold, and coca, the Inca were masters of city building but nevertheless had no money. In fact, they had no marketplaces at all

Roman-era nano-tech that starts out green, turns red

More colorful nano-tech: Peter Dinklage hula-hooping in a gay bar in Canada

All that Syria stuff-

The Supervillain Syndrome: why dictators like Assad just can’t quit while they’re ahead.

Syria strike due in days, West tells opposition – sources

Brown Moses shows how open-source photo interpretation works in “Finding The Exact Location Of An Alleged Chemical Munition, And What It Could Mean

RogueAdventurer Blog has analysis of the delivery systems photographed at the scene of the crimes in Syria.

Planning is everything: “Required Sorties and Weapons to Degrade Syrian Air Force Excluding Integrated Air Defense System (IADS)”, an analysis by Christopher Harmer, Senior Naval Analyst, Institute for the Study of War (31 July 2013). The author has stated elsewhere that punitive strikes that don’t advance policy are “stupid

Mapped: 34 Places In Syria Likely to Get Hit With a U.S. Cruise Missile. Call them ‘neighborhoods in transition’.

We are ‘GO’ for the Tulsa Mini Maker Faire!

August 16, 2013

DrillerBotLogo-01.jpg

(Update: This Saturday, 28 September is the big day. I’ve been nervously watching the weather forecasts and trying to optimize my load-out for the possibility of clouds and/or rain. Since my original plans were for solar, electrical and chemical manipulations of matter, rain is decidedly counter to my plans, so I’m hoping it won’t be happening.  If it’s overcast, maybe I won’t be able to cook hot dogs with the Fresnel spiral solar concentrator, but the electro-etching and stove-top brass making demo can still happen. A full downpour will put a damper on pretty much everything. Keep your fingers crossed!)  

My theme is “Make It: Cheap and Dirty” – or – How to do stuff you shouldn’t be able to do… for next to nothing!”  I’m placing a heavy emphasis on re-use, re-purposing and the “it isn’t junk unless you don’t use it” principle.

I’m going with more an “open play” format than a fixed spiel. Sure, I’ll have some handouts of the how-tos that ran in Steampunk Magazine, some basic “Ohm’s Law” level electronics theory, some link-lists of fun/educational stuff and I’ll have some of my cheap/dirty projects on hand to show how little refinement is required to get usable results. Mostly I’ll be demonstrating simple methods of making-tweaking-hacking things and generally trying to get people used to the idea that tinkering is rewarding! 

My updated agenda:

  • Fire up the ‘Eurosealer’ and clothes iron to illustrate plastic fusing techniques to improvise a rain-shelter from plastic grocery bags and drop-cloths (and possibly floatation devices, as required)
  • Turn dull, everyday bronze pennies into golden BRASS pennies for the kids (and others), just to break the ice
  • Talk about the cheap tools I just can’t live without, the beauty of pawn shops, garage sales and why “cheap” can be “best”
  • Give a quick rundown of some of my favorite household chemicals and the amazing things you can do with them (with demos), applied dumpster-diving, constructive cannibalism, why you should never throw away a “wall-wart”, general Q&A and other cheap-simple-dirty topics, tips and tricks
  • Etch some printed circuit boards with cheap, simple and surprisingly “green” chemicals, demonstrate electro-cleaning and galvanic etching
  • Provide a hands-on soldering tutorial and demo ‘surface mount’ soldering without special tools (you got a hot air gun, toaster oven or electric skillet?)
  • Share a couple of really cheap/simple solar concentrator designs (Update: no sun, no point- information only)
  • Assure you that you can take on that ‘Wild Blue Project’ you’ve been putting off, extoll on the value of creative failure and the benefits of a ‘Stop Planning and Just Do It, Already!‘ attitude

More than this I cannot say at this time.  If you’ve got any ‘idears’ to add (I’ve got eight hours, 8!) let me know early so I can be prepared!

I’m certain that this will be a whole lot of fun and I hope you’ll all come by to say howdy, and be sure to visit Dana Swift@Swift Science (he explained digital electronics to me the only time it ever stuck, back when I still fit my Star Trek uniform), the Tulsa Garden Railroad Club (my very oldest friends!) and all the other fine presenters at this, the very first Tulsa Mini Maker Faire!