Now gluten-free!

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Super-fast camera can capture the movement of light

Photography is a field that has seen quite a few advancements since the very first camera photo was taken nearly two centuries ago. But nothing is quite as impressive as this high-speed camera developed (no pun intended) at MIT. At 1,000,000,000 (yes, that's one trillion) frames per second, it is so fast that it can actually capture light as it travels. Check it out:

Friday, September 25, 2015

Bernie Sanders supporter can't see the irony in her Facebook post

To be fair, socialists aren't known for their intellectual consistency.

(via Facebook)

Monday, September 14, 2015

British police: 'Turn in your knife, surrender your life.' Or something like that.

Six years ago, I made note of an interesting story from Great Britain about an "anti-stab" knife invented by industrial designer John Cornock. His line of knives, aptly named New Point, was inspired by a report about the life-threatening knife injuries doctors had to deal with every day.

Unfortunately, Mr. Cornock's potentially life-saving design hasn't caught on fast enough. Last year, police in Lancashire took a more drastic approach, starting an amnesty campaign designed to get Brits to turn in their more lethal, pointy knives.

It's a rather simple concept, much like the gun buyback scams perpetrated here in the U.S. Lancashire's law-abiding residents simply deposit their blades into designated "amnesty bins" conveniently located at various police stations across the county, and knife crime magically disappears.

Labour Police and Crime Commissioner Clive Grunshaw funded this brilliant program. "No-one should live in fear of knives being used in their community," he said (presumably in a snooty, condescending tone), "and I hope anyone in possession of an offensive weapon will use this opportunity to protect both themselves and those around them, by handing it in."

The amnesty program is still in effect, and the Lancashire Constabulary wants to reassure those who might be afraid of knife-wielding maniacs:
Don't be a victim

If you feel you are in immediate danger from knife crime there are a number of steps you can take to protect yourself:
  • Move away from the situation towards a public place (shop, house, restaurant etc.) as quickly as possible.
  • Make as much noise as you can.
  • Instead of carrying a knife, carry a personal alarm.
  • Don't fight back.
And, above all, don't even think about bringing a gun to a knife fight. This is Great Britain. If you want the right to defend yourself, move to America.

Similar programs have since sprouted up all across the U.K. The result? As of this past July, knife crime has gone up for the first time in four years. A 2% rise in all knife offenses has been reported, along with a 13% rise in assaults with a knife. What a shock.

You've got to hand it to our progressive friends across the Pond. They may not be the sharpest knives in the drawer, but they certainly are a persistent lot.

Thursday, September 03, 2015

Adorable BB-8 droid from 'The Force Awakens' is now available to own

For $149.99, you can take home the adorable BB-8 droid from Star Wars: The Force Awakens. It's remote-controlled and interacts with your smart phone. "But for all the added bells and whistles," we are told, "the BB-8's primary directive is really just to be a ball of cuteness." And that it is.

Amost as cool as the Millennium Falcon drone.

Wednesday, September 02, 2015

Man saves ribs from apartment fire

We've all thought about it at one time or another: If there was a fire, what would I save?

Robert Wright, of Fresno, made sure to save his ribs. After he saved his kids, of course.

I'm really hoping this interview gets "songified"!

Tuesday, September 01, 2015

Inconceivable one-star reviews of 'The Princess Bride'

I never understood how The Princess Bride, one of the best movies ever made, could wind up with a rating of only 8.2 on IMDB. It even has several one-star reviews. I can only surmise that these people were mostly dead when watching it.

Here are several excerpts, bad spelling and all:

Sexist pile of garbage - posted by mthessian
Hated the Princess Bride. It is a sexist pile of garbage.

Terrible - posted by markb80
Not remotely funny, at least not intentionally. The only part that had me and my g/f laughing was the part where they encounter the rats. They looked so bad it was amusing.

It brought a smile to my face....WHEN THE CREDITS BEGAN TO ROLL!!! - posted by batpickle
Can anyone explain to me anything about this movie that is mildly amusing, Wallace Shawn is so annoying, the dialog is replete with stinkyocity and the story is so simplistic a baby would be bored! Now there is nothing offensive about the movie but I will bet you my kids would hate this but I may never know because I can't bare sitting through it again.

My six year old puts on better shows than this in the back yard. - posted by helgabono
Scores highly on the sphincter clencher scale. I was also surprised that Peter Falk would lend his talent to a production of this caliber. Maybe he was in need of money, who knows. Anyway, a waste of my money (I was foolish enough to buy the DVD) and of my time.

A Load of Puke Bile - posted by britishdame7001
This movie is nothing but a load of boring, contrived, clich├ęd, CRAP!! No originality whatsoever. AND don't get me started on the acting!!!! This has to be the worst acting I've seen in my life....totally laughable and amateurish to say the least.

a blend of blandness and bloodiness - posted by buliabyak
It's outright disgusting. The torture scene alone is enough to get this movie banned from my family video library. It's so senselessly, meaninglessly cruel that I couldn't watch it myself, let alone show to my kids. The sick obsession with bloody vengeance ("Prepare to die! Prepare to die! Prepare to die! Prepare to die!" ad infinitum) is immoral almost to the point of absurdity.

Inconceivable! I can't believe I just used that joke. - posted by Saphire Alcehmy
This film fails as a fantasy by being predictable, fails as a comedy by not being funny, has awful effects, and boring, uninteresting characters. They're all flat, I knew nothing about them at the end of the film beyond 'He's really tall, they're in love, he's a idiot and he's Spanish and wants to avenge his father.'

Completely overrated rubbish - posted by TheConsigliere
I felt it was utter trash. There was very little I could say was even mildly amusing here...Much of Andre's (The Giant) lines were about as effective as he would have been if he'd tried to play a slim, short, well-spoken Englishman
Send in the brute squad! Such people deserve to be thrown into the Pit of Despair!

Saturday, August 29, 2015

As if grammar wasn't hard enough, here come 'gender-neutral' pronouns

This past Wednesday, Donna Braquet, Director of the Pride Center at the University of Tennessee Knoxville, made some waves. She (assuming I'm using the correct pronoun here) encouraged staff and students to abandon all common sense when it comes to names, pronouns, gender identities, and official school rosters. She writes:
We should not assume someone's gender by their appearance, nor by what is listed on a roster or in student information systems. Transgender people and people who do not identity within the gender binary may use a different name than their legal name and pronouns of their gender identity, rather than the pronouns of the sex they were assigned at birth.

In the first weeks of classes, instead of calling roll, ask everyone to provide their name and pronouns. This ensures you are not singling out transgender or non-binary students. The name a student uses may not be the one on the official roster, and the roster name may not be the same gender as the one the student now uses.
Leaving aside the question of why, given such reasoning, a school would bother having a roster at all, what kinds of pronouns are we talking about here?:
We are familiar with the singular pronouns she, her, hers and he, him, his, but those are not the only singular pronouns. In fact, there are dozens of gender-neutral pronouns.

A few of the most common singular gender-neutral pronouns are they, them, their (used as singular), ze, hir, hirs, and xe, xem, xyr.

These may sound a little funny at first, but only because they are new. The she and he pronouns would sound strange too if we had been taught ze when growing up.
Folks, let me remind you that this is someone holding an influential position at a university.

Imagine if students' personal preferences were allowed free reign in other areas of college life. "Yeah, I know I've been getting Cs and Ds on all my assignments, but deep down I identify as an A student. Come on, professor. Why are you being so hateful and intolerant? Isn't this supposed to be a safe zone?"

Ms. Braquet (I'm using "Ms." because I haven't seen a list of gender-neutral personal titles) concludes:
How do you know what pronoun someone uses? If you cannot use the methods mentioned above, you can always politely ask. "Oh, nice to meet you, [insert name]. What pronouns should I use?" is a perfectly fine question to ask.

The more we make sharing of pronouns a universal practice, the more inclusive we will be as a campus. When our organizational culture shifts to where asking for chosen names and pronouns is the standard practice, it alleviates a heavy burden for persons already marginalized by their gender expression or identity.
She (ze?) then invites anyone wishing to learn more to sign up for a Safe Zone workshop. I'll bet they'll need the large conference room for that.

I don't know what kind of feedback UTK received when people read Donna Braquet's suggestions, but I imagine it was quite critical, especially since the school released the following statement just two days later:
We would like to offer clarification on statements referring to gender-neutral language.

There is no mandate or official policy to use gender-neutral pronouns. We do not dictate speech. Most people prefer to use the pronouns he and she. However, some don't.

The information provided in this week's Office of Diversity and Inclusion newsletter was offered as a resource to our campus community on inclusive practices.

We strive to be a diverse and inclusive campus and to ensure that everyone feels welcome, accepted, and respected.
My apologies to the "we're not happy unless we're offended" crowd, but let me make this clear: I will not use gender-neutral pronouns, no matter how mainstream the practice may become. The world is already complicated as it is. Why must we complicate it further?

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Watch the latest (and shortest) 'Star Wars' teaser

The latest (and shortest) teaser for Star Wars: The Force Awakens debuted today on Instagram. Enjoy!

A video posted by Star Wars (@starwars) on

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Blind mother 'sees' her unborn son thanks to 3D-printed ultrasound

Few words are able to describe the feeling an expectant mother has when she is waiting to see her unborn child during an ultrasound for the first time. But what if the mother is blind? A hospital in Brazil was able to find a way around that thanks to 3D printing technology:

On a more sobering note, I ran across this story the same day I found out a Planned Parenthood clinic opened just a mile-and-a-half from my house. That somehow made this video even more touching.

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