Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Some cool pics of New York. Pretty much a new pic every day gets posted on Jake's Blog.

"Bluejake is a photoblog shot by me, Jake Dobkin, a 30 year-old amateur photographer living in New York City. It focuses mainly on urban landscape, with occasional diversions to abstraction, or even more rarely, to portraiture."



Slo-mo lighter vs Golf Club...

Odd video, Cornelius - Fit Song

Alka-Selzer in space.

Almost Creepy juggler...


As you probably know, between 50-80% of our communication is non-verbal. Here's a handy guide....


Ever been outside?


Here's an idea, get yourself some HotJugz.

These repurposed insecticide sprayers will drizzle you with water, ostensibly cleansing you with "warm(see specifications)" water.

I think a Home Depot garden sprayer will do the exact same thing, but the guys have chutzpah, selling a foam covered piece of lawn equipment as the

"Next Big Thing". Catchy product name, too.



The ThinkGeek Annoy-a-tron is very effective at disturbing that guy in the sales department or your "friend" down the hall. With its thin design and embedded magnet for easy hiding, the Annoy-a-tron can be placed in a variety of locations. Select one of the three sound choices (2 kHz, 12 kHz, or alternating) and push the switch to the on position. Place it in a proper hiding spot and let the "fun" begin.

The Annoy-a-tron generates a short (but very annoying, hence the name) beep every few minutes. Your unsuspecting target will have a hard time 'timing' the location of the sound because the beeps will vary in intervals ranging from 2 to 8 minutes. The 2kHz sound is generically annoying enough, but if you really really want to aggravate somebody, select the 12 kHz sound. Trust us. The higher frequency and slight 'electronic noise' built into that soundbyte will make a full-grown Admin wonder where his packets are.

* 3 simple steps. Turn on.*
* Hide it.
* Muahahaha...
Assuming you have done your part in selecting a suitable hiding location for the Annoy-a-tron, it will do its part to drive your co-workers slowly mad with its short and seemingly random beeps. And when someone does locate the Annoy-a-tron, they're really not going to know what it is - which is almost as much fun as watching them search for it. Muahaha.

The Annoy-a-tron takes one CR2032 battery (included) and measures approximately: 2.5" x 1.25" x .3". It will run for 3 to 4 weeks on a single battery.

Some Recommendations:

* Don't hide it inside of food (the chemicals in a burrito are known to be quite destructive to electrical components)
* You should probably avoid the area near your local BOFH (we understand that most likely you are the local BOFH, but still please take note)
* Yes, we realize you could buy a dozen and hide them all inside someone's office (oh, did we say that out loud?)
* Please reserve the use of the Annoy-a-tron for deserving subjects only (we'll leave it up to you to determine who qualifies)
* * Note: Please remember to remove the small plastic tab underneath battery.

Hours of fun for only ten bucks!!!

Buy One?


Some fun in the snow. Found these at a completely random site via Google's pic search.

6 Fun Winters
More pics
A bright idea....

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A California lawmaker wants to make his state the first to ban incandescent lightbulbs as part of California's groundbreaking initiatives to reduce energy use and greenhouse gases blamed for global warming.

The "How Many Legislators Does it Take to Change a Lightbulb Act" would ban incandescent lightbulbs by 2012 in favor of energy-saving compact fluorescent lightbulbs.

"Incandescent lightbulbs were first developed almost 125 years ago, and since that time they have undergone no major modifications," California Assemblyman Lloyd Levine said on Tuesday.

"Meanwhile, they remain incredibly inefficient, converting only about 5 percent of the energy they receive into light."

Levine is expected to introduce the legislation this week, his office said.

If passed, it would be another pioneering environmental effort in California, the most populous U.S. state. It became the first state to mandate cuts in greenhouse gas emissions, targeting a 25 percent reduction in emissions by 2020.

Compact fluorescent lightbulbs (CFLs) use about 25 percent of the energy of conventional lightbulbs.

Many CFLs have a spiral shape, which was introduced in 1980. By 2005, about 100 million CFLs were sold in the United States, or about 5 percent of the 2-billion-lightbulb market, according to the U.S.
Environmental Protection Agency.

That number could more than double this year. Wal-Mart Stores Inc. alone wants to sell 100 million CFLs at its stores by the end of 2007, the world's biggest retailer said in November.

While it will not give opinion on the possible California law, the EPA recommends CFLs.

"They save money and energy," EPA spokeswoman Enesta Jones said. "They are more convenient than other alternatives and come in different sizes and shapes to fit almost any fixture."

Also, CFLs generate 70 percent less heat than incandescent lights, Jones said.

About a fifth of the average U.S. home's electricity costs pays for lighting, which means even if CFLs initially cost more than conventional lightbulbs, consumers will save, Jones said.

A 20-watt CFL gives as much light as a 75-watt conventional bulb, and lasts 13 times longer, according to the Rocky Mountain Institute, a nonprofit group studying energy issues.

Southern California Edison, an Edison International subsidiary and one of the state's biggest utilities, runs a program that cuts the cost of a CFL by $1 to $2.50. In the past year, SCE has helped consumers buy 6 million CFLs, it said.

California Energy Commission member Arthur Rosenfeld said an average home in California will save $40 to $50 per year if CFLs replace all incandescent bulbs.

While not commenting specifically on Levine's likely legislation, Rosenfeld, winner of the Enrico Fermi Presidential Award in 2006, said the switch from incandescent bulbs became feasible about five years ago when CFL performance improved.

"This is clearly an idea whose time has come," he said.

Levine, a Democrat from Van Nuys in Los Angeles, last year introduced a bill that will become law in July that requires most grocery stores to have plastic bag recycling.


Vespatition - If you ride something with a motor and two wheels, signup....

"Parking for All!

Sign the Vespatition to convert some automobile spaces to two-wheel spaces!

By signing the Vespatition, you are promoting the conversion of some automobile parking spaces to two-wheel spaces. The results will be publicized and sent to your local mayor.

Just as parking spaces for compact cars and handicapped parking stalls have increased efficiency and convenience in urban and suburban communities, officially designated two-wheel parking facilities can do the same.

Government agencies should consider removing the two-wheeler from the four-wheeler parking space and placing it in its own, scaled down zone. This is a simple concept that can be embraced by city councils, urban planners, local merchants, contractors, shopping center management and private businesses whenever parking for motor vehicles is provided.

Here are some suggestions for motorcycle/scooter parking that we are proposing:

Street-legal parking - convert a number of existing parking spaces every couple of streets to motorcycle/scooter parking

* Spaces can be metered or un-metered
* The smaller size of two-wheel vehicles allows them to fit into unoccupied areas on streets and sidewalks, creating efficiencies in urban planning and increasing city revenues (if metered).
* Six motorcycles, scooters or limited-access motorcycles carrying from six to twelve people can be parked in the area normally taken up by one automobile. If, however, no motorcycle parking facility is provided in the area, one would possibly find those six motorcycles occupying up to six separate automobile spaces.

Convert unused space - cement curbs of a certain size can be converted to two-wheel parking. A specialized parking area for motorcycles and scooters not only leaves more space for the automobiles, but also caters to the riders' needs by providing a well-lit, convenient and secure location in which they may confidently leave their vehicle. Such facilities can be small in area and can usually be located near a building entrance or at the end of a parking island.

Parking garages - designate parking spaces in municipal garages for two-wheel vehicles. Create a more equitable rate structure for two-wheel vehicle parking in private garages.

Sidewalk parking - permit scooters and motorcycles to be parked in designated areas on sidewalks and locked to structures."


Listening to A local radio station the other night, this song got stuck in my head. Thought I'd share the wealth.

XTC - "Mayor of Simpleton"

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Sunday, January 28, 2007

These are F-14's. The US officially has retired the "Tomcat", star of that 80's Tom Cruise lovefest. Here's where I have a problem.... Spares.

There's millions of dollars of parts lying around in warehouses, all destined to be sold as military surplus.

Hmmm... F-14 parts. Why would somebody need those??

Unless you already have a squadron of aging F-14's. Like Iran.

"By "have," I assume you mean countries that operate the F-14, as opposed to nations like the Soviet Union that may have "acquired" a handful of them over the years. The users of this aircraft are listed in our entry on the Grumman F-14 Tomcat which indicates that only the US and Iran purchased the design.

While service of the F-14 in the US Navy is well-known and well-documented, by the classic film Top Gun, at the very least, its operations with the Imperial Iranian Air Force (IIAF) and Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force (IRIAF) have largely remained a mystery. Under the pro-western Shah of Iran, the IIAF had benefitted greatly by interaction with the West, and Iran was able to purchase large amounts of sophisticated US military equipment to protect against the Soviet threat. By the early 1970s, the bulk of the IIAF was made up of Northrop F-5A and E, McDonnell Douglas F-4D and E Phantom II, and Lockheed P-3F Orion aircraft. However, none of these were able to ward off Soviet MiG-25 reconnaissance fighters that were making frequent flights over Iranian terrirory. This fact was made clear to US President Richard Nixon during his visit to Iran in May 1972 during which the Shah requested a means of intercepting the high-speed Soviet aircraft.

Having received permission from the US government, Iran decided to purchase the F-14 Tomcat over a competing F-15 Eagle offer. An intial order for 30 F-14s was signed in January 1974, and this number was later increased to 80. The first of these aircraft arrived in Iran in January 1976, differing only from their American counterparts in the removal of certain classified avionics systems. These aircraft were also fitted with the improved TF30-414 engine, standard on later production models. Twelve aircraft were delivered by May 1977, and one of these was used to shoot down a BQM-34E target drone flying at 50,000 feet with an AIM-54 Phoenix missile in August of that year. This successful demonstration quickly convinced the Soviets to end the MiG-25 overflights. Deliveries continued until 1978 when the 79th unit was delivered, one example remaining in the US as a testbed (this plane was later transferred to US Navy flight test duties at the Point Mugu Naval Air Station following the Revolution). Some 714 Phoenix missiles were also ordered, but only 284 of these were delivered by the time of the Iranian Revolution in 1979.

Following the overthrow of the Shah and the ascension of Ayatolla Khomeini to power, the new government cancelled further contracts for Phoenix missiles and other Western arms. Continuing decay in relations with the US led Pres. Carter to impose an arms embargo on Iran that still continues today. Without Western contractor assistance, a lack of spare parts and maintenance support quickly degraded the ability of the IRIAF to operate its fleet of US-built aircraft. Fundamentalist purges of Air Force officers, pilots, and personnel who were perceived to support the Shah further worsened the situation.

In addition to the effects of the embargo itself, rumors suggest that all 77 remaining Tomcats (two had been lost in 1977 during training flights) were somehow sabotaged so that they could no longer fire their Phoenix missiles. Whether or not these rumors have any merit to them is debated, as is the identity of who may have performed this sabotage and how. Various accounts credit the act to either departing Grumman technicians or Iranian Air Force personnel friendly to the US. Perhaps the simplest and most effective means of performing this sabotage would have been to remove or somehow corrupt the software in the aircraft's flight computer that interfaces with and commands the missiles, but there is no proof this was done. Some sources even go so far as to claim that Iranian revolutionaries performed the sabotage as revenge against an Air Force perceived to be pro-Shah, but this seems very unlikely given the technical skill required.

The US has estimated the number of operational Iranian F-14s at any given time at 15 to 20, and sometimes less than 10, due to the cannibalization of other planes to keep a few flying. Iran claims a much higher number, of course, and was indeed able to assemble 25 aircraft for a flyby over Teheran on 11 February 1985. By whatever means, Iran has been able to maintain a steady supply of spare parts for its F-14s, F-4s, and F-5s in spite of the embargo. Some of these parts may have been supplied through the arms-for-hostages deal that was revealed during the Iran-Contra scandal. Other sources claim that parts may have been smuggled through collusion with Israel. Some parts are also manufactured domestically by Iranian Aircraft Industries, and Iran has even gone so far as to claim that 100% of the parts required to keep the aircraft operational can be produced domestically. Nonetheless, US intelligence places that value closer to 70%, and a number of foreign nationals have in fact been implicated in efforts to illegally smuggle aircraft components from the US to Iran. Two men were so charged in December 2000 for attempting to illegally purchase F-4, F-5, and F-14 parts and ship them to Iran by way of Singapore. A fugitive named Houshang Amir Bagheri is also listed on the US Customs Most Wanted list for his attempts to acquire classified F-14 components on behalf of Iran.

While Iran has managed to keep at least a portion of its Western aircraft in service, the status of the vaunted Phoenix missile is still debated. Most sources indicate that none were used during the Iran-Iraq War owing to their supposed sabotage while others claim that up to 25 Iraqi planes were downed by AIM-54s before Iran exhasuted its supply in 1986. Regardless, the aircraft is still able to fire AIM-7 Sparrow and AIM-9 Sidweinder missiles, and typically carries four AIM-7s and two AIM-9s for air-to-air operations. Iran is reportedly developing a domestic version of the Sparrow to replace its stock of expended missiles.

It is also believed that one or more F-14s were delivered to the Soviet Union in exchange for technical assistance. In addition, at least one Iranian F-14 aircrew was reported to have defected to the Soviet Union with their aircraft. Some believe that Soviet access to Iranian Phoenix missiles allowed the Vympel Design Bureau to develop the R-33/AA-9 Amos long-range missile that equips the MiG-31, but chief designer Gennadiy Sokolovskiy has indicated that his team never had such access. In any event, it is believed that Soviet and Russian expertise has allowed Iran to operate, maintain, and upgrade the F-14 fleet. The aircraft are reportedly being upgraded with a new Russian radar, engines, and a glass cockpit allowing them to serve until well into the 21st century. The Iranian press has further indicated that the surviving aircraft have been adapted for a heavy bombing roll, perhaps armed with air-to-surface anti-ship missiles. Some 50 to 55 are believed to remain in service, but only about 30 of these are considered airworthy at any one time.
- answer by Greg Alexander, 12 May 2002 "

Hey, maybe we should just destroy the parts instead of potentially giving a Middle East country spare parts for it's FIGHTER SQUADRON!!! But that's just me.

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The Sunday Times - Britain

January 28, 2007

Men with ‘moobs’ swell queues for breast surgery

Sarah-Kate Templeton, Health Correspondent

MEN are turning to cosmetic surgery to tackle the embarrassment of “man breasts”, fuelling a near doubling in the number of people sculpting their bodies through liposuction.

Surgeons have reported a surge in the number of men requesting breast-reduction operations for ‘moobs’. According to one theory, the condition, called gynaecomastia, may be caused by an excess of female hormones in tap water.

The boom in demand for liposuction is revealed in an audit by the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (BAAPS). Figures to be published this week show 4,000 operations were carried out last year, compared with 2,100 in 2005.

The procedure, which involves vacuuming fat from areas including the thighs and “love handles”, has jumped from the eighth to the third most popular operation.

Adam Searle, consultant plastic surgeon and former president of BAAPS, said: “Men come along and say, ‘I am in the gym all the time. I have these lovely pecs but the fat on the side of the flank will not budge. Some feel the male breast can respond well to liposuction.”

Recent holiday photographs of Tony Blair and David Cameron indicate they are developing man breasts.

Searle said liposuction was becoming more refined and was being applied in new ways. However, he warned that it is not an alternative to losing weight.

He added: “There are lots of misconceptions about liposuction. Every week, someone comes into a clinic weighing 25 stone and wanting liposuction. This technique is not appropriate for the obese.

“It should be reserved for very specific areas of fat in an otherwise fit person. The ideal candidate would be a woman who says, ‘I go to the gym, I have lost weight but this area on the side of my thigh refuses to go’. Or the man who has been training hard but cannot get rid of the extra fat on his breasts.”

Overall, leading plastic surgeons carried out 31% more cosmetic surgery operations last year than in 2005. Demand also increased for brow lifts, which saw a 50% rise, eyelid surgery, up 48%, tummy tucks, up 47% and face and neck lifts, up 44%.

The most popular procedure continues to be breast enlargement. The increasing demand for breast implants was reflected last week by the launch of a new company,, specialising in the procedure. The majority of cosmetic surgery, 92%, continues to be carried out on women.

“People no longer consider plastic surgery to be wacky or just for the rich,” said Searle. “Plastic surgery is now considered to be permissible in our culture.”

Rajiv Grover, consultant plastic surgeon and BAAPS council member responsible for the UK national audit of cosmetic surgery, added, “Judging by the dramatic rise in certain procedures, it is clear we are becoming a more body-image conscious society.”
Hey, I'm all for a reduction in the moob population, but comeon... blaming tap water? Get off your butts and get yourself to a gym, not a plastic surgeon. A Wii is not a workout!

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If you're squeamish, stop reading NOW...

Demodex folliculorum, or the demodicid, is a tiny mite, less than 0.4 mm long, that lives in your pores and hair follicles, usually on the nose, forehead, cheek, and chin, and often in the roots of your eyelashes.
(A follicle is the pore from which a hair grows). Demodicids have a wormlike appearance, with legs that are mere stumps. People with oily skin, or those who use cosmetics heavily and don't wash thoroughly, have the heaviest infestations ... but most adults carry a few demodicids. Inflammation and infection often result when large numbers of these mites congregate in a single follicle.

The mites live head-down in a follicle, feeding on secretions and dead skin debris. At the left, you can see three demodicids buried in the follicle of a hair, and you can also see the hair's shaft. If too many mites have buried into the same follicle, it may cause the eyelash to fall out easily.
An individual female may lay up to 25 eggs in a single follicle, and as the mites grow, they become tightly packed. When mature, the mites leave the follicle, mate, and find a new follicle in which to lay their eggs. The whole cycle takes between 14 to 18 days.
Sometimes demodex is called the 'face mite', since it is often associated with blackheads, acne and other skin disorders (although it is not the cause of these). Demodex are harmless and don't transmit diseases, but large numbers of demodex mites may cause itching and skin disorders, referred to as Demodicosis.

The mites have tiny claws, and needlelike mouthparts for eating skin cells. Their bodies are layered with scales, which help them anchor themselves in the follicle. The mite's digestive system results in so little waste that the mite doesn't even have an excretory opening. So although there may be mites in your eyelashes, there isn't any mite poop! Thank goodness!
However ... did you know that you go to sleep at night on a pillow that is home to many thousands of dust mites ...which help keep our homes clean by consuming the tens of millions of skin cells we shed each day? Just pretend they're not there!

Anybody else suddenly feel the need to shower?


AUSTIN — One out of three Texas students don't graduate, and more students drop out than finish high school in the state's largest cities, according to education experts.

Statewide, more than 2.5 million students have dropped out of Texas high schools in the last 20 years, and each graduating class loses about 120,000 students from freshman year to senior year, according to the San Antonio-based Intercultural Development Research Association.

The research group says more than half of students in Texas' largest cities drop out. The dropout rate among blacks, Hispanics and low-income students is about 60 percent, according to the Center for Education at Rice University.

The statewide dropout rate is about 33 percent — or 20 points higher than what the Texas Education Agency reports.

Experts warn that the high dropout rate will lead to economic and social problems.

"If you live in a city like Dallas or Houston and half of your kids are not finishing high school, it's a social crisis," said Eileen Coppola, a researcher at Rice.

Dropouts are more likely to live in poverty, have health problems and end up in jail, Coppola said.

Dropouts on average earn about $9,200 per year less than high school graduates, said Frances Deviney, director for Texas Kids Count. That means dropouts give up about $900 million per year in wages.

The 2.5 million dropouts over the last 20 years represent $730 billion in lost revenue and costs for the state, Deviney said, citing a report from the research association.

"We have a huge problem," Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst said.

Last year, with the prodding of Dewhurst and state Sen. Florence Shapiro, R-Plano, the state spent $275 per high school student for dropout prevention and college preparation programs.

But critics say the program is "not targeted for communities with the greatest need," said Albert Cortez, a director at the research association.

Dewhurst said he agrees that a more targeted effort is needed and plans to make it a priority during the legislative session.

"I want to focus on programs at your high-risk schools," Dewhurst said. "How do we keep those at-risk kids in school?"

Two Words - They Vote.


Trapped in the afore-mentioned "Giggle Loop".....


Thursday, January 25, 2007

Some "Coupling" gems....

Finally, hotlinking's disabled on this clip, Click to be enlightened about the "Giggle loop"


The concept cars you see above are but a small sampling of Mercedes engineers and designers constantly trying to introduce newness into it's luxo-sport-car market. Now, there's a new design on the block, making the car-show rounds....

Almost sedate looking from outside,

Sissor doors, o.k.,

Here's the freaky,

Learn how to drive all over again. Wonder why the lever was made in that shape, though, seems an ergonomic design would be better. Also, what about the lefties? Or was it made so you can drive it from both sides of the car?
I don't think people are quite ready to go to a full drive-by-wire system like this yet, but it's coming.

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You know what I could go for right now? A big jar of....


More YouTubin'....

Reposted by request... The Wheel, a German Animated short featuring "rock time".

Found the whole Steven Lynch Comedy Central special from a few years ago. Funny Stuff.

Finally, just a happy song. Toploader does a great rendition of "Dancing in the Moonlight".


These pics are of some lesser-used roads in Santa Barbara County, California. Taken by Tim, owner/operator of the excellent motorcyclist's site Plenty more pics and description of this particular trek here.

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