Now gluten-free!

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Feds bust Amish drug operation

Well, not exactly. The Washington Times reports:
A yearlong sting operation, including aliases, a 5 a.m. surprise inspection and surreptitious purchases from an Amish farm in Pennsylvania, culminated in the federal government announcing this week that it has gone to court to stop Rainbow Acres Farm from selling its contraband to willing customers in the Washington area.

The product in question: unpasteurized milk.

It's a battle that's been going on behind the scenes for years, with natural foods advocates arguing that raw milk, as it's also known, is healthier than the pasteurized product, while the Food and Drug Administration says raw milk can carry harmful bacteria such as salmonella, E. coli and listeria.
Stop and think about this for a moment. We're not talking about DEA agents busting up a multimillion-dollar drug cartel. This sting, conducted at taxpayer expense, of course, was over milk, a beverage enjoyed by human beings for thousands of years.

Don't forget that the most recent E. coli outbreak came from cleaned, prepackaged spinach. What I don't understand is why people in the "freest" country on earth aren't allowed to make their own choices when it comes to the consumption of food.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Superman renounces his U.S. citizenship

Comics Alliance has the story:
After recently undertaking a journey to walk -- not fly -- across the United States in the "Grounded" storyline and reconnect with the country and everyday Americans, Superman appears to be taking another step that could have major implications for his national identity: in Action Comics #900...

...Superman announces that he is going to give up his U.S. citizenship.
Despite very literally being an alien immigrant, Superman has long been seen as a patriotic symbol of "truth, justice, and the American way," from his embrace of traditional American ideals to the iconic red and blue of his costume. What it means to stand for the "American way" is an increasingly complicated thing, however, both in the real world and in superhero comics, whose storylines have increasingly seemed to mirror current events and deal with moral and political complexities rather than simple black and white morality.


Cats in sinks

That's right. An entire web site devoted to nothing but pictures of cats in sinks...

And I thought my blog was a waste of time.

What's on Ben Bernanke's mind?

The folks at Reuters created a word cloud from Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke's press conference yesterday. The more frequently used the word, the larger it appears. Just for fun, see if you can find the word "jobs" in there somewhere:

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

San Francisco in toothpicks

Constructed over the course of 35 years with over 100,000 toothpicks, this unique sculpture highlights San Francisco's major attractions. Artist Scott Weaver takes visitors on a guided "tour":

Weaver discusses his building techniques:

Create your own room with a view

The camera obscura is a simple little invention that paved the way for modern photography. Functioning much in the same way as the human eye, it consists of a tiny hole through which light passes, casting an upside-down image on the opposite wall.

Staffers at National Geographic decided to make a room-sized camera obscura. The result was rather amazing:

You can view a video of the project here.

Etymology in the Star Wars universe

(via xkcd)

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Real Facebook Ads #005

Sorry, but I don't trust any armour that isn't made by a real medieval blacksmith.

Real Facebook Ads #004

I may be an adult, but I'm not all that mature, and being "descret" was never my strong suit.

Google: The early years

What was Google like before the internet? Well, it wasn't very fast...


Wednesday, April 20, 2011

UFOs: The REAL reason behind the JFK assassination?

Conspiracy theorists will be drooling over this news:
An uncovered letter written by John F. Kennedy to the head of the CIA shows that the president demanded to be shown highly confidential documents about UFOs 10 days before his assassination.

The secret memo is one of two letters written by JFK asking for information about the paranormal on November 12 1963, which have been released by the CIA for the first time.
Sounds like something straight out of The X-Files.

(via The Knight Shift)

Marker Magic: Fun in the snow!

It snowed last night here in Minnesota, so some local kids decided to have a little fun over at the neighbor's house...

Monday, April 18, 2011

Real Facebook Ads #003

You mean I could look like an athletic woman in her twenties? Where do I sign up?

Sunday, April 17, 2011

3-player chess on a round board

I really want to try this:
Finally, a Chess variant board has been developed that accommodates three players, without compromising ANY of the rules, strategies, or competitive challenges that make Chess the best board game in the world.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

TSA joke of the day

"The Transportation Security Administration protects the Nation's transportation systems to ensure freedom of movement for people and commerce."

No, really. That's the TSA's actual mission statement.

Real Facebook Ads #002

Why, yes, I would like to avoid the heartache and lawyer fees that go along with saving my marriage!

Some really cool comic book art

See many more at Comics Alliance.

Friday, April 15, 2011

San Francisco to Paris in 2 minutes

A time-lapse video of one passenger's 11-hour flight, complete with a spectacular display of the aurora borealis.

Read more about it here.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Real Facebook Ads #001

This olive oil isn't from just any farmer in Tuscany; it's from the only farmer in Tuscany.

Obama's budget speech a cure for insomnia

School renames Easter eggs "spring spheres"

Why is it with every holiday we have to read stories like this?

Not religious symbols, and not spheres.
16-year-old Seattle student Jessica volunteered to help out in a local third grade classroom. With Easter just around the corner she thought she would do something festive for the kids. "At the end of the week," she said, "I had an idea to fill little plastic eggs with treats and jelly beans and other candy, but I was kind of unsure how the teacher would feel about that."

Jessica went to the teacher for approval. "She said that I could do it as long as I called this treat 'spring spheres.' I couldn't call them Easter eggs," Jessica explained.

Rather than rock the boat, Jessica decided to play along with the teacher's idiotic idea, and brought the "spheres" to class. "When I took them out of the bag, the teacher said, 'Oh look, spring spheres,' and all the kids were like, 'Wow, Easter eggs.' So they knew."

Of course they knew. Kids tend to be a lot smarter than we think. Maybe that's why we send them to school and dumb them down.

Honestly, after reading this story I couldn't decide which was more ridiculous: the fact that this teacher thinks that plastic, candy-filled eggs are potentially offensive religious symbols, or that eggs are indeed spherical in shape. Either way, it doesn't speak very highly of American education.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Planning that road trip might be harder than I thought

Washington's idea of a "spending cut"

Philip Greenspun explains the "largest domestic spending cut in U.S. history" in terms that we mere mundanes can understand:
We have a family that is spending $38,200 per year. The family's income is $21,700 per year. The family adds $16,500 in credit card debt every year in order to pay its bills. After a long and difficult debate among family members, keeping in mind that it was not going to be possible to borrow $16,500 every year forever, the parents and children agreed that a $380/year premium cable subscription could be terminated. So now the family will have to borrow only $16,120 per year.
(via Good Experience)

Bacon cologne

Is it real? Yes.
Product Description:

bacōn Classic is designed for men and women. A common question, does this fragrance really smell like bacon? The answer is yes & no. Our Classic formula is a sophisticated spicy maple fragrance with just a hint of bacon and the fun… is in finding it. This artisanal Classic formula is lovingly crafted with the pure essential oil blend of bergamot, orange, lime, grapefruit, black pepper, cedar wood, vetiver, guaiacwood and two pinches of Bacon salty goodness. What on earth could you be waiting for? Available while supplies last.
Also available: bacōn Gold, if a sizzling citrus aroma is more your style.

Friday, April 08, 2011

Father of the Year: Dad turns down son's music with shotgun

Yuba County resident Stanislaw Grzegorz Jarmolowicz had told his son several times to turn down his stereo, but did his son listen? Of course not. So, Jarmolowicz did what any normal, red-blooded, American father would do in that situation: he blew out the speakers with a shotgun.

Arrested on "suspicion of shooting at or into a building," he was booked in the Yuba County Jail on Monday. However, since he made sure his son moved out of the way before firing, and since his son wasn't fearful of being shot, Jarmolowicz was released on Wednesday without any charges being filed.

The police report didn't say what music was playing, nor did it mention whether the speakers went up to 11 or only 10.

Police officer pepper-sprays a baby squirrel

Students at Kimbrough Middle School in Mesquite, Texas, were traumatized when a local police officer seasoned a baby squirrel with pepper spray. But, as anyone can clearly see in the following video, it was an act of self-defense:

The hamster-sized, furry-tailed devil had been chasing after students, which prompted some brave, quick-thinking school official to call animal control for help. Sadly, the squirrel survived. It was captured, treated, and released back into the wild.

I would love to consider Officer Davis a hero, but pepper spray? Really? A situation like this is exactly why the department issued you a gun.

"Vintage" ads for Skype, YouTube, and Facebook

(via Brand Republic)

"Vintage" Apple ads

(via Geek Sugar)

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

One reason why we can't convert to the metric system


Praise the lard!

Lard used to be demonized, but, as Slate's Regina Schrambling writes:
That's all changed. Now you could even argue that lard is good for you. As Jennifer McLagan points out in her celebrated book Fat: An Appreciation of a Misunderstood Ingredient, With Recipes, lard's fat is also mostly monounsaturated, which is healthier than saturated fat. And even the saturated fat in lard has a neutral effect on blood cholesterol. Not to mention that lard has a higher smoking point than other fats, allowing foods like chicken to absorb less grease when fried in it. And, of course, fat in general has its upsides. The body converts it to fuel, and it helps absorb nutrients, particularly calcium and vitamins.

What matters more, though, is that lard has become the right ingredient at the right time. It fits perfectly into the Michael Pollan crusade to promote foods that have been processed as minimally as possible: Your great-grandmother surely cooked with it, so you should, too.

Add to that the new awareness that what you eat matters environmentally—if you are going to eat an animal on a planet at risk from too many humans raising too many animals to eat, you have to eat the whole thing. Lard is just about the last stop before the squeal when pork producers are extracting every savory bit from a pig.

Sunday, April 03, 2011

Toshiba's 3D monocle, and other April Fools' Day pranks

Everyone loves a good April Fools' Day prank. This is especially true of companies with a wide internet presence. Come April 1st there is no shortage of pictures, videos, and web site "tweaks" to alleviate the monotonous scenery to which one has grown accustomed while cruising along the Information Super Highway.

Here is a sampling of this year's pranks.

Toshiba: 3D Monocle

IKEA: The Hundstol, a high chair for dogs

Google: Gmail Motion

Google: Search result for "helvetica" New line of fake products, including Angry Birds Pork Rinds...

...the Playmobil Apple Store Playset...

...and Star Wars Lightsaber Popcicles

Whole Foods: Insects raised with compassion

Check out these and other pranks here.

Saturday, April 02, 2011

When cows attack

You will never see Cow Week on the Discovery Channel, but statistically you're more likely to be killed by a cow than a shark. From Popular Mechanics:
Between 2003 and 2008, 108 people died from cattle-induced injuries across the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That's 27 times the whopping four people killed in shark attacks in the United States during the same time period, according to the International Shark Attack File. Nearly all those cow-related fatalities were caused by blunt force trauma to the head or chest; a third of the victims were working in enclosed spaces with cattle.

While the ongoing battle between cow and man is overwhelmingly one-sided (and delicious), the people who work closely with cattle take major risks. "I've been kicked, I've been pushed, I've been charged," says 22-year-old Margaret Dunn, a graduate research assistant studying animal science at Iowa State University. "Like what they say about dogs, they can smell fear." Once, while she was attempting to inoculate a newborn calf as its mother stood nearby, another cow came out of nowhere and knocked her over. Dunn has survived these assaults, and they have not dissuaded her from planning to acquire her own dairy cows someday. The dangers of a farm are just "an occupational hazard," she says.
Have you hugged your dairy farmer today?

Friday, April 01, 2011

A great book about practical jokes

H. Allen Smith
About 14 years ago my wife and I stayed at a quaint, old house in Duluth, Minnesota. While we were there I perused the numerous books that lined the shelves in our room. One in particular caught my eye. It was entitled The Compleat Practical Joker, by H. Allen Smith. It discussed the history of practical jokes and highlighted some of the all-time classics. I was laughing non-stop from the moment I opened its pages. I was determined to pick up a copy when we left, but the book was originally published in 1953 and was no longer in print, and I couldn't find it anywhere.

Years went by, and memory of the book began to fade into obscurity. Thankfully, I was reminded of it recently and decided to Google it to see if I could track it down. And what do you know? There was a used copy on eBay. At long last, the coveted tome was mine!

So, to celebrate my recent purchase, and in honor of April Fools' Day, I thought I would share with you a delightful passage from this hilarious book:
The most celebrated of all British practical jokers was William Horace De Vere Cole, whose career will be considered in later pages. He was a citizen of substance and had a large house in a fashionable section of London. One day he was hanging some paintings in his home when he ran out of twine. He put on his hat and walked to the nearest stringmonger's shop and bought a ball of twine. One his way home he saw an elegant Englishman, a stranger, approaching. The man was so stiffish, so splendidly dressed, that Cole could not pass him by. Quickly he whipped out his ball of twine and stepped up to the gentleman.

"I say," he spoke with some show of deference, "I'm in a bit of a spot. We're engaged in surveying this area in order that we may realign the kerb, and my assistant has somehow vanished. I wonder if I could prevail upon your time for just a few moments."

"To be sure," said the stranger, ever the proper Englishman.

"If," said Cole, "you'd be so kind as to hold the end of this string. Just stand where you are, and keep a tight hold on it, and we'll be finished in a few moments. It's really quite important."

The splendid gentleman took hold of the end of the string and Cole began backing away from him, unwinding the ball. He continued all the way to the corner, turned the corner and disappeared. He proceeded, still unwinding the ball, until he was halfway up the block, at which point the string gave out. He stood for a moment, not knowing quite what he should do now. He had about decided to tie the string to a doorknob when Providence sent him a second gentleman, fully as elegant and polished as the first. Cole stopped him. Would the good sir be so kind as to assist him in an engineering project? Certainly! Cole handed him the end of the string and asked that he simply stand firm and hold it. Then Cole disappeared through an alleyway, hastened to the shop for another ball of twine, and returned to his home to resume hanging pictures.

Cole never knew how long those men stood holding the string. He could have circled back and spied on them, but he didn't even consider doing it. The more accomplished practical jokers seem to prefer a situation in which the denouement is left to their imaginations. They enjoy sitting down and thinking about what may have happened.
The book is full of such stories. If you enjoy a good laugh, see if you can find yourself a copy.

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