Now gluten-free!

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Come On Down!

Bob Barker Retiring After 50 Year Career On TV
October 31, 2006 9:39 p.m. EST
Russell McSpadden - All Headline News News Writer

Los Angeles, CA (AHN) - The celebrated game show host, Bob Barker, told the AP on Tuesday that he plans to retire from TV in June. Adoring fans will have a limited time to "come on down" and take a spin on the big wheel.

Barker has spent 35 years as the host of the daytime game show, "The Price is Right," where contestants, chosen from a screaming audience, compete for a variety of consumer goods. In total, the aging host has worked 50 years in the television industry.

"I will be 83 years old on December 12," he said, "and I've decided to retire while I'm still young."

"I've gone on and on and on to this ancient age because I've enjoyed it," he said. "I've thoroughly enjoyed it and I'm going to miss it."

"I'm just reaching the age where the constant effort to be there and do the show physically is a lot for me," he said. "I might be able to do the show another year, but better (to leave) a year too soon than a year too late."

According to Barker, Freemantle Media, which owns the game show, has been looking for a replacement for some time. Barker admits that he has been considering retirement for "at least ten years."

When asked how he plans to say farewell, Barker said he will keep with his traditional sign-off that he has ended the show with for so many years.

"Help control the pet population. Have your pets spayed or neutered."

Monday, October 30, 2006

It Sucks to Be a Vampire

I hate to be the one to say this to any vampire readers of this blog, but you don't exist. reports that you are a mathematical impossibility:
    University of Central Florida physics professor Costas Efthimiou's work debunks pseudoscientific ideas, such as vampires and zombies, in an attempt to enhance public literacy. Not only does the public believe in such topics, but the percentages are at dangerously high level, Efthimiou told LiveScience.

    Legend has it that vampires feed on human blood and once bitten a person turns into a vampire and starts feasting on the blood of others.

    Efthimiou's debunking logic: On Jan 1, 1600, the human population was 536,870,911. If the first vampire came into existence that day and bit one person a month, there would have been two vampires by Feb. 1, 1600. A month later there would have been four, and so on. In just two-and-a-half years the original human population would all have become vampires with nobody left to feed on.
And here I always thought that math wouldn't have any practical application in life.

Of course, this could all be part of a conspiracy to get us to let our guard down. After all, one of the most popular mathematicians in the world is himself a vampire...

What Time Is It?

In case you were wondering, Daylight Saving (not Savings) Time just ended. We are now on Standard Time.

Chris's last post got me thinking. Why in the world do we observe Daylight Saving Time?

Here's a brief history, courtesy of Wikipedia:
    The idea of DST was first put into practice by the German government during the First World War, between April 30, 1916 and October 1, 1916. Shortly afterward, the United Kingdom followed suit, first adopting it between May 21 and October 1, 1916. On June 17, 1917 Newfoundland became the first North American jurisdiction to adopt DST with the passing of the Daylight Saving Act of 1917. On March 19, 1918, the U.S. Congress established several time zones, which had been in use by railroads and most cities since 1883 and made DST official, effective March 31, for the remainder of World War I. It was observed for seven months in 1918 and 1919. The law, however, proved so unpopular, mostly because people rose and went to bed earlier than in current times, that it was repealed in 1919, when Congress overrode President Woodrow Wilson's veto of the repeal. ...

    ... DST was reinstated in the United States on February 9, 1942, again as a wartime measure to conserve resources. This remained in effect until World War II began winding down and the requirement was removed on September 30, 1945. During this period, the official designation "War Time" was used for year-round DST. The year-round War Time was double daylight saving time without reverting back to standard time during the winter months. When entering double daylight saving time, clocks are advanced two hours instead of one hour. ...

    ... One of the major reasons given for observing DST is energy conservation. Theoretically, the amount of residential electricity needed in the evening hours is dependent both on when the sun sets and when people go to bed. Because people tend to observe the same bedtime year-round, by artificially moving sunset one hour later, the amount of energy used is theoretically reduced. A 1975 United States Department of Transportation study showed that DST would theoretically reduce the country's electricity usage by 1% from March to April, if implemented during these months.
Next year, the schedule will be altered again. DST will fall between the second Sunday in March and the first Sunday in November. Yeah. This is the kind of stuff we pay those bureaucrats in Washington to come up with.

I'm sorry, but DST is a burden, a nuisance, a pain. Changing all those clocks and other electronic gadgets - no to mention the added pressure of remembering to switch out the smoke detector batteries - is a chore, and there always seems to be one clock that's forgotten. For me, it's the clock in the car.

With all the fuss that's made about this seasonal ritual, perhaps we should just go ahead and make it an official holiday. Seriously. We already have Halloween greeting cards, for crying out loud!

If you really want to know what time it is, I'll tell you: It's time to end this stupid ritual. I'm sorry, but I just don't buy the "energy conservation" argument that's based on studies done in the '70s. We live in an age of televisions, computers, and fax machines, most of which are running 24/7, regardless of how dark or light it is outside. And in addition to the havoc wreaked on our regular clocks, we come to find out that DST messes with our "circadian clocks."

Now, if someone were to suggest shutting down the government as part of Daylight Saving Time in an effort to save energy, then I would probably have to reconsider my position on the issue. At least that way they would have less time to come up with ridiculous ideas.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Digital Clocks

Ah...daylight/standard time changes. Don't you love wandering around the house looking for all the clocks? My beef is digital clocks. No one of them is set in the same way! Here's the household devices with digital clocks I set this afternoon:

Oh, and not to forget the clock in the camera I used to take all these snapshots:

Not pictured above are all the analog clocks and the automatic digital clocks! Thankfully, our VCR, satellite boxes, cell phones, and computers all set themselves now (usually). Still, I probably spend a cumulative half hour just figuring out the procedure for setting each different digital clock. I can never remember each one's individual quirks from six months ago. And I'm supposed to have a knack for this kind of thing! I think we need a consumer electronics standard that forces all digital clocks to have the same set of buttons and standard operating procedure.

Now I get to look forward to repeating this at work tomorrow morning: correcting all the problems caused by system clocks that didn't reset, or did so improperly.

Oh, and while I'm dispensing advice...replace the batteries in your smoke and Carbon Monoxide alarms! That's the best way to remember to stay on top of those...just do it every time you change your clocks. The TV station I work at covers too many sad stories every winter about fatalities caused by a lack of working smoke and CO alarms! Ummm...OK...I need to log off now and run to the store for 9v batteries.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Like Dilbert said here....

Blogs are a great way for people to freely publish their views and comment on those of others, but sometimes they amplify how few people really have original ideas or the rhetorical skill to support them logically. I love the Dilbert cartoons from the last couple days:

See? You would realize the grievious error of your views if you would read the works of Scott Adams! But, of course, you haven't. Just like the Nazis didn't. You're such a fascist!

Friday, October 27, 2006

Paul Harvey Bong Commercial

I've listened to Paul Harvey ever since I was old enough to operate a radio. Naturally, when I heard this cleverly edited "commercial," I couldn't resist posting it.

"Search, rescue, ventilate...somebody's singed kitten."

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Etch-A-Sketch Art

Now don't these make you regret that you dropped out of those Etch-A-Sketch lessons when you were a kid?

Tips for brushing up your knob-twirling skills can be found here.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Cyclical Non-Uterine Dysmenorrhea

Countless men throughout history have suffered from this debilitating condition. What is it? A new documentary seeks to enlighten the public:

    Part I: The Bowels of History

    Part II: The Warriors

    Part III: The Artist Formerly Known As Cramps

    Part IV: Writer's Cramps

    Part V: Pursuit of Happiness

    Part VI: The Napoleanic Era

    Part VII: The Last Part
This documentary was long overdue. Hopefully, men who suffer from cyclical non-uterine dysmenorrhea will finally gain some sympathy and understanding.

Thanks to the efforts of brave, pioneering scientists like Dr. Gerhardt Fardel, we will one day find a cure:
For more information, check out these resources:

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Something You Won't See on Animal Planet

Nature sure is fascinating:
    Children aghast as pelican swallows pigeon whole

    Families strolling through a London park were left shocked when a pelican picked up and swallowed an unsuspecting pigeon.

    The Eastern White pelican struggled with the desperately frantic pigeon in its beak for more than 20 minutes before swallowing it whole.

    The moment was caught on camera by photographer Cathal McNaughton, who was taking pictures of the wildlife in St James's Park.

    The pigeon was still alive when it reached the pelican's stomach, he said.
Sorry, kids. Nature may be fascinating, but no one ever said it was always going to be pretty.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Pampered Pets

Now this is going too far, don't you think?:
    It's the ultimate fashion accessory for people who "love their dogs a bit too much."

    Imported from the United States, these colourful and stylish "doggie bags" enable devoted dog owners to carry their puppies and little pooches wherever they go.

    Designed to be "lightweight" with an adjustable strap, the "PuppyPurse" is exactly as it sounds. Carry it by the handles or fling the straps around your shoulder or even waist, it enables the dog lover to go out and about with a little furry friend friend literally by their side.

    The straps can also be adjusted so they can be used like a normal lead.

    The idea is unlikely to appeal to traditionalists who believe dogs should be walked not carried, but in today's consumer society pet accessories have become big business.

    The doggie-bags were designed after American creators Hedy Grant and Suzanne Sherman noticed how many people were carrying their dogs inside handbags in the heat of Summer and decided there was a gap in the market for a more suitable and stylish carrier.
You know, if you're going to go through all that trouble, why not just actually make a purse out of your puppy? Think about it. It would be very practical to have the extra storage space. It would be stylish and hip. It would be soft and cuddly. It would last much longer than a live dog. On top of that, there would never be any messy clean-up.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Gifts for the Whole Fundamentalist Family

My wife Linda is a frequent catalog shopper. Therefore it is no surprise that she gets catalogs frequently; catalogs of all shapes, sizes, and creeds. We got an interesting one last week. It came courtesy of The Vision Forum, Inc., founded by Doug Phillips. Pictured to the right is the cover of the catalog.

Inside, it offers a wide variety of products, including many books and some recordings of some the founder's messages:

Some of the products offered for children are also fascinating, not the least for what they imply about the marketers' pretty fixed ideas about appropriate child-rearing and gender roles. Girls' products come in under the heading of "The Beautiful Girlhood Collection". It includes lots of dolls, dresses, craft kits, a tea set. The closest thing to a mechanical toy is some pastel-colored Geomags.

And then, there's the Father-Daughter Purity Locket. A Special Gift of Love and Promise. "It is an especially fitting symbolize the importance of purity and remaining as a joyful daughter under her father's protection until the time of release to her future husband."

Then comes the All-American Boy's Adventure Catalog! Detective story books! Spy pens! Chemistry sets! Toy weapons! WWII military outfits! The commemorative Iwo Jima Ka-Bar Knife is "not a toy".
And then there's this this little sword and shield set from the "Chivalrous Boyhood" collection. "Boys, Defend Your Sisters!"

I was unable to find their listing for sepia-toned film camera film, with which to photograph your loved ones enjoying these gifts.

You can check out the online version here, but I think looking at the print version of the catalog would be more faithful to the intent of the founding fathers.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Now you see me... you don't:
    For fans of the fictional Harry Potter, US and British scientists have demonstrated a working "invisibility cloak" that could, in time, make wearers disappear.

    Initial tests focused on making objects invisible to microwaves, but the scientists said the same principles could theoretically apply to visible frequencies, making a true invisibility cloak like storybook hero Potter's possible. ...

    ... The material is designed to distort space so that microwaves are not reflected back, but are instead bent around the cloaked object, whatever its shape, and allowed to flow on as if it didn't exist.

    The result is that the beams are deflected like water flowing around a rock in a river, without noticeably interrupting the main current.

    "By incorporating complex material properties, our cloak allows a concealed volume, plus the cloak, to appear to have properties similar to free space when viewed externally," said Duke scientist David Smith.

    "The cloak reduces both an object's reflection and its shadow, either of which would enable its detection." (full story)
Of course, there's always this.



Thursday, October 19, 2006

Need a Hug?

Hugging must be contagious. It has already been seen spreading from Australia...: South Korea:
That's faster than Bird Flu.

Here's an interview with "Juan Mann," the one man (get it?) who started it all:
*sniff* I just wanted you all to know that *sniff* I love you guys!

Monday, October 16, 2006

Virtual Insanity

Video Killed the Radio Star

According to this report from the Daily Mail:
    Is this the way we will all be "enjoying" our television programmes and computer games in the future?

    In this astonishing photo, a model is wearing a new gadget, from electronics manufacturer Toshiba, that enables the wearer to experience a full 360-degree view on a 40 centimetre dome-shaped screen.

    But, looking more like the helmet from Neil Armstrong's space suit than the next must-have gizmo, this three kilo full-faced helmet might make it a little tricky to relax with a drink in front of the football.

Domo arigato, Mr. Roboto

Ever wondered what it would be like if there were two of you? You may soon find out. Also from the Daily Mail:
    Chinese robot engineer Zou Renti unveiled an almost exact replica of himself which he built to demonstrate how advanced robotics has become.

    The humanoid was on show at a robotics exhibition in Beijing which showcased the latest developments in the field.

    "After improvement, my robot twin brother can hopefully become better at language recognition and response, and conduct my lectures for me," joked Mr. Renti.

    With skin of silica gel and a robotic skeleton, the simulation robot does not only look and touch like real human, but it can move its face and talk like a real man.
Some will read these news items and marvel at the great technological strides being made. As a cynic, I read reports like this and stand amazed at just how hard the human race works at remaining lazy.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

A Family Affair

In an age of human-rabbit hybrids, this came as no surprise:
    Woman gives birth to grandchild

    A Japanese woman in her 50s gave birth to her own grandchild last year, using an egg from her daughter and sperm from her son-in-law, a doctor has revealed.

    It was the first time a woman has acted as a surrogate mother for her daughter in Japan, local media reported. ...

    ... Yahiro Netsu, the head of the Suwa maternity clinic in Nagano, told a news conference that the woman gave birth last year, Reuters reported.

    She had agreed to in vitro fertilisation and to act as a surrogate mother because her daughter had had her uterus removed due to cancer and was therefore unable to bear children.

    Both the mother and child were reported to be in good health.

    Dr. Netsu said the woman had first registered the baby as her own and then the child was adopted by her daughter and son-in-law.
No word yet on who the child's future therapist will be, but you can bet an appearance on Dr. Phil is forthcoming.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

It's a Small World After All

Satellite technology has only been around for about the last five decades, and it's amazing what's been accomplished in that time. Ferdinand Magellan, who never lived to complete his voyage around the world, might be a little miffed to know that everyday schmucks can now circumnavigate the globe with just the click of a mouse thanks to software like Google Earth.

If that wasn't enough, there is now a site devoted to helping us learn more about this brave new world in which we live. Like the folks at Google Earth hacks. They have produed a list of "the ten best things you can do with Google Earth":
    10. Find Your House
    "One of the first things that people want to do when they fire up Google Earth is to find their house. Finding it is easy enough."

    9. Aircraft in Flight
    "A remarkably popular thing that people do with Google Earth is fly around and try to find planes that were captured in mid-air."

    8. Be an Aircraft
    "In my opinion, one of the neatest new features in the latest beta of Version 4 is the ability to use a joystick to fly around the Earth! Any kind of joystick should work. While a "flight stick" is probably recommended, I use my cheap Gravis Gamepad (similar to a PlayStation controller) and it's a blast!"

    7. Map Quirks
    "As great as Google Earth is, it's not perfect. As you're browsing around checking things out, you'll encounter some bugs here and there." (Like strange geological "towers" and UFOs!)

    6. Stange Objects
    "These are items that really exist on earth, but look strange when viewed through Google Earth (or in person, if you were to travel there)."

    5. Historical Sites
    "For history buffs and students, Google Earth is a gold mine. Not only can you fly to places of interest, people have added hundreds of overlays to show how areas used to look."

    4. TV and Movie Locations
    "While much of what is filmed for TV shows and movies takes place inside a studio, many things need to be filmed on location. Here are some files that highlight locations for some popular shows and movies." (See things like the island where Tom Hanks filmed Cast Away, the possible location of the LOST island, and the houses from Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.)

    3. Weather
    "The ability to view real-time weather in Google Earth can be quite useful. While GE doesn't yet support animated GIFs (and therefore time-lapsed radar), Version 4 now supports some time features which should allow for even better weather maps in the near future."

    2. Famous Landmarks
    "There are a lot of amazing sites to see in Google Earth that don't require overlays or network links or any of that stuff - just raw Google Earth."

    1. 3D Models
    "One of the coolest things about Google Earth is the 3D aspect of it. Almost every other mapping application (Google Maps, MapQuest, etc) is flat. Being able to tilt the screen and fly into an area sets Google Earth apart."
I'm sure all you cyber-Magellans out there will have fun with this!

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Cat Head Theatre

That's Entertainment!

Entertainers love going to great lengths to promote their work. From the Minneapolis Star-Tribune:
    On with the Show

    Dog night may be a wry way to promote a show, but it certainly isn't unprecedented in the history of Hennepin show business. According to the book, Show Houses: Twin Cities Style by Kirk J. Besse (Victoria Publications, 1995):

    • In 1933, a man dressed as a toreador led a cow through downtown, milking her at street corners to promote the film "The Kid From Spain." Man and cow were arrested when they took the act into the Radisson Hotel lobby.

    • A 1940 promotion featuring (Stan) Laurel and (Oliver) Hardy, below, went awry when a pet monkey that was to be given away escaped and hid for three days in the Orpheum's rafters.

    • If there was ever doubt that audiences want something phony, a 1966 stunt man tried to sell dollar bills for 75 cents on a Hennepin corner to promote a film. Only when he told skeptical passersby that the dollars were phony did he get any business.
It's comforting to know that people are no more crazy now than they were back then.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

What's Up, Doc?

Some disturbing news from the Scotsman:
    Scientists are poised to press ahead with controversial plans to create hybrid human and rabbit embryos.

    It emerged yesterday that three British teams - including one led by Professor Ian Wilmut at Edinburgh University - are due this month to seek licences from the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority allowing them to create embryos that are 99.9 per cent human and 0.1 per cent rabbit.

    The scientists are also looking at the possibility of creating similar "chimera" embryos by mixing human and cow genes. The aim is to find a ready source of "human" embryonic stem cells without the ethical problems of tampering with human life.
Wait...Mad scientists who think they don't have to worry about "the ethical problems of tampering with human life"? Where have I heard that before?

Monday, October 09, 2006

Kids Just Wanna Have Fun; Don't Let Them

When I was a kid, I had these...:

...and my sister had this:

What's funny is that those three toys, packaged and in mint condition, could fetch over $1,000. The same goes for toys like these...:

And I had a lot of 'em!

Of course, being kids, we didn't see the big picture. We just had to play with these valuable collectibles. We didn't even save the boxes they came in. Boy, were we stupid!

So, if you are contemplating buying dolls or action figures for your kids, go ahead. But whatever you do, don't let them have any fun. Keep the toys in their boxes, safely tucked away where they can't be found. Your kids will only render them worthless.

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