Now gluten-free!

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Illinois state representative loses it on the House floor

Illinois state representative Mike Bost wasn't happy with the fact that House members were only given a few minutes to read a 200-page bill before voting on it. And he proceeded to vent his frustration in a way I wish we would see more often in this country:

But this is America, where the vast majority of citizens just don't care, as exhibited by the reactions of Bost's fellow representatives.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Squirrel cuts off power to high school on graduation day

(Photo credit: Vague But True)

Squirrel-related power outages are a very common occurrence. This past Sunday, a tree rat broke into a substation in Hudson, Michigan, and was able to cut off power to nearly 2,000 residents. The local high school had to bring in generators and floodlights so commencement ceremonies could go on as scheduled.

Just another random happenstance, or more evidence of a calculated attack against humans? I think the answer is obvious.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Beautiful abstract art from a broken Polaroid camera

You may want to think twice about throwing out that old, broken Polaroid after seeing these:

(via Co.Design)

Saturday, May 26, 2012

1984 unveiling of the Macintosh computer

This video shows Steve Jobs unveiling the Macintosh computer for the first time. The "Chariots of Fire" theme makes it even more dramatic.

50 things to grill in foil

If you're tired of the same old burgers and brats routine, why not try something different? Food Network presents a list of 50 mouth-watering recipes you can prepare in foil packets and throw onto the grill. Here's a sampling:

Jerk Chicken Wings
Toss 6 split chicken wings, 1 tablespoon vegetable oil and 3 tablespoons jerk seasoning on a sheet of foil. Form a packet. Grill over high heat, turning once, 25 minutes. Top with cilantro and serve with lime wedges.

Spicy Olives
Toss 1 cup olives, 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes and 1 minced garlic clove on a sheet of foil. Form a packet. Grill over medium-high heat, turning often, 15 minutes.

Garlic Shrimp
Mix 1/2 stick softened butter, 1 cup chopped parsley, 2 chopped garlic cloves, and salt and pepper. Toss with the juice of 1 lemon, 1 pound unpeeled large shrimp and a big pinch of red pepper flakes. Divide between 2 foil packets. Grill over high heat, 8 minutes.
Happy grilling!

Brought to you by the Department of Redundancy Department

This is a perfect example of how government works in Washington. The Pentagon commissions a study to study how much it cost to conduct all the studies it ordered in 2010. The Government Accountability Office then conducts its own study to study the Pentagon's study. The GAO's study determines that the Pentagon's study of studies was a poor use of time and money.

Yeah. Like none of us could have seen that coming.

So what was the total cost of all these studies? It's still being studied.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Star Wars: The first 35 years

Star Wars was released 35 years ago today. Yes, you're that old.

Here's the original movie trailer (before it was known as "Episode IV: A New Hope"):

And here's a clever and informative graphic detailing 35 years of Star Wars history:


Mark Twain's letter to would-be burglars

Mark Twain's house was robbed one September night in 1908. One of the burglars recalled the incident:
It was getting well on toward midnight when one by one the lights were extinguished and the house was enshrouded in complete darkness except for one dim light upstairs. Experience told us that this was nothing unusual. My partner went on a tour of inspection around the house. He returned presently with the word that the coast was clear and that one of the kitchen windows had been left partly open. I helped my partner to climb in through it; and he then went and opened the big French double doors leading out from the dining room on the great veranda. I entered by the front door, like a gentleman.

By the rays of our flashlights, we first made a careful inspection of the dining room. The heavy, old-fashioned, oak sideboard near the door leading into the hall commanded our attention. We knew that it contained the family silver, which it was our object to secure first, as usual. We tried to open the drawers of the sideboard, but found them locked. To break them open would make a noise, of course, and disturb the family if done inside the house. We did not wish to be guilty of such carelessness, so we took hold of the sideboard and carried it out of the house and some five hundred feet down the road. There we broke the locks of the drawers and emptied their contents into a black bag which we had brought for the purpose. Then we went back into the house to see what else we could find.

Before proceeding, it is necessary to mention a brass bowl which had stood as an ornament on top of the sideboard, and which played such an important and fatal part on that night. Since a brass bowl was of no value to us I took it and placed it noiselessly on the dining-room floor - without my partner's knowledge, however. This was my second mistake on that night. When we entered the dining room the second time, my partner, walking rather carelessly, stumbled and fell heavily over that brass bowl.

In the stillness of the night it seemed to me as if an earthquake had suddenly struck the house. Such a noise that rolling brass thing made! With every nerve tense, we silently watched and waited for the result.

Presently a woman, dressed in bathrobe and slippers, appeared at the head of the stairs. Then a soft clear voice called: "Hello!" It was Miss Lyons, Mark Twain's social secretary, as we afterwards learned, who, awakened by the noise, had courageously come to investigate. A moment we hesitated. Then we turned and silently and swiftly left the house.

Running down the road, we picked up our bag with the silver, and continued running till we arrived at the foot of the hill. There we slackened speed and started to walk back in the direction of Bethel, some seven miles from "Stormfield."

Naturally, the discovery of our presence created a sensation in the Mark Twain household. It is said that the butler, who had been aroused, fired several shots after us, "to hasten our departure," as Mr. Albert Bigelow Paine puts it in his biography of Mark Twain. For this, however, I cannot vouch, as we must have been considerably out of pistol shot by the time the gun went off. The shots, however, did awaken the aged author of "Huckleberry Finn" who, says Mr. Paine in his account, imagining that a champagne party was in progress below, rolled over and went to sleep again.
The thieves were eventually caught.

Twain, hoping to avoid more property damage in the future, attached the following letter to his front door:


To the next Burglar.

There is nothing but plated ware in this house, now and henceforth. You will find it in that brass thing in the dining-room over in the corner by the basket of kittens. If you want the basket, put the kittens in the brass thing. Do not make a noise — it disturbs the family. You will find rubbers in the front hall, by that thing which has the umbrellas in it, chiffonier, I think they call it, or pergola, or something like that.

Please close the door when you go away!

Very truly yours,

S.L. Clemens
(via Letters of Note)

Give money to the homeless, get ticketed for littering

Nothing surprises me anymore.

(via The Tea Party Economist)

Thursday, May 24, 2012

How to walk away from a 2,400-foot fall with no parachute

The secret is to use a wing suit. And boxes. Lots and lots of cardboard boxes.

(via Kottke)

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Google doodle in honor of synthesizer inventor Robert Moog

Today, May 23, is the birthday of Robert Moog, a pioneer in electronic music who invented the first playable keyboard synthesizer. In honor of Moog, Google is featuring an interactive doodle in the form of a virtual synthesizer. (Check it out here.)

You can play by clicking on the piano keys, or by using your computer's keyboard. For a more in-depth user guide, click here.

Experiment with different synthesizer sounds, compose your own tunes, and then record and share them with friends. Someone has already used the doodle to record Gary Numan's "Cars" and Soft Cell's "Tainted Love."

Have fun!

Six playoff games in four days

It's quite impressive the amount of work that goes into setting up and breaking down an arena in preparation for various sporting events. It's amazing when you consider the relatively short amount of time workers have between games to get the job done. It's incredible to see the preparations for six playoff games in four days, as this time lapse video of the Staples Center shows:

(via Kottke)

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Monday, May 21, 2012

Amazing world record set and broken within a week

Goodness knows I waste a lot of time during any given day. We all do. The only difference is how we waste it.

James Peterson of Green, Ohio, decided to utilize his down time trying to get his name into Guinness World Records. His accomplishment? Pumping his fist in the air for 16 straight hours.

The amazing feat was captured on video at Manny's Pub near the University of Akron. Peterson began pumping at 11 a.m. on Friday, May 11, and finished at 3 a.m. the next morning to the song "Call Me Maybe," by Carly Rae Jepsen.

Personally, I'm not sure I would have counted it. Peterson used super glue to hold a fist for the duration of those 16 hours. But no one else had done anything like it before, so it seemed his name was about to go into the record books.

Then, on May 15, tragedy struck. Peterson's record was broken by a man known only as Ray, a radio producer in Austin, Texas. His time: 17 hours, 15 minutes. What's more, he may have done it sans super glue.

Who knows? Fist pumping could be the next big thing since planking.

Friday, May 18, 2012

How to get your ex-boyfriend arrested

I ran across this in our local newspaper about an incident that occurred in a neighboring suburb:

Now that just seems downright mean.

Arby's roast beef sandwiches are finger-licking good

I've never been a huge Arby's fan. Chewing on rubbery, flavorless meat shavings isn't my taste buds' idea of a good time. However, I am glad to say that I've never had the experience one particular 14-year-old did the last time he ate at the restaurant.

Ryan Hart of Jackson, Michigan, was just finishing a roast beef sandwich when he bit into something that tasted like rubber. (You can already guess where this is headed.) It was part of an employee's fingertip, the result of a meat slicer mishap. Yeah, you've got to leave meat slicing to the experts:

It's scary to think about, but finding fingers in fast food is a fairly frequent phenomenon.

End oil changes forever?

I've never been very mechanically inclined, so I'm not the kind of guy to get underneath a car and change the oil myself. In fact, if you ever see me under a car, call 911, because I've been run over.

But oil changes can be quite expensive, especially when it comes to engines requiring synthetic oil. That's why the possibility of virtually eliminating costly oil changes seems rather intriguing:
The secret is the Frantz oil filter. It uses a roll of toilet paper as the filter.

"An oil filter that uses toilet paper. What a joke!"

It is not a joke. But the universal customer response is initially something like this.

The toilet paper filters out everything larger than half a micron. This removes virtually all metal particles. The oil stays clean physically 100% of the time. There is no grit to wear out metal parts.

Toilet paper also removes water, thereby reducing all acid creation to zero: no water -- no acid. The oil is pure chemically.

Oil does not wear out. It just gets dirty. A roll of toilet paper keeps oil clean all of the time.

Change the toilet paper once every 5,000 miles, add a quart of oil to replace the oil absorbed by the used roll, and your engine's oil stays clean. The engine will not wear out for 500,000 miles. The car's body will wear out first.
Read the rest here.

Monday, May 14, 2012

The Nazi origins of the Olympic torch

The Olympic flame may have originated in ancient Greece, where the fire was kept burning for the duration of the games, but the modern torch relay is a product of Nazi propaganda. Those Nazis sure did love their ceremonies. From The Atlantic:
Though Goebbels and Hitler both seemed to have loved the idea of the torch relay, it wasn't their idea. A man named Carl Diem, the secretary general of the organizing committee of the Berlin games, proposed it, inspired by the torch that had burned over the 1928 games in Amsterdam. Though an official in the Nazi government, Diem was a sport administrator first. After his years-long campaign to hold the Olympics in Germany had finally trickled up to the top of the government, he had lobbied, though unsuccessfully, to more freely allow German Jews to participate in the Olympics. So it's tough to blame Diem entirely for the Nazi propaganda piece that his torch relay became.

Whether or not Diem meant it to, a torch relay fit neatly within Nazi propaganda. Beginning the relay in Greece and ending it roughly 1,500 miles away in Berlin reinforced the idea of a shared Aryan heritage between the ancient power and the new one. It also hinted at Hitler's idea of a natural, civilizational progression from the Greek Empire to the Roman to the German. And the route happened to go through Czechoslovakia, where the stream of Nazi propaganda that surrounded it inspired some members of the ethnic German minority to clash with member of the Czech majority. Two years later, Hitler would invade and occupy part of Czechoslovakia, where he claimed the German minority was at risk.

Hitler found yet more ways to engineer the torch relay as Nazi propaganda. The head of the Reich sports office, Hans von Tschammer und Osten, convinced him to sponsor excavations of the original Olympic game sites in Olympia, further reinforcing the image of Germany as heir and caretaker of the ancient powers. Official Nazi anthem Die Fahne Hoch was played at the torch-lighting ceremony in Greece.

Friday, May 11, 2012

5 worst traffic cities in the world

Everybody hates a traffic jam. And every American driver seems to think traffic in his or her home city is the worst in the world. But when we consider the awful commutes drivers in other countries are forced to endure, we really can't complain.

According to an IBM survey of 20 cities, "The daily commute in some of the world's most economically important international cities is longer and more grueling than before imagined, reflecting the failure of transportation infrastructure to keep pace with economic activity." Believe it or not, Los Angeles and New York weren't even among the top ten worst.

Google Sightseeing gives us a brief glimpse of the five worst traffic cities in the world:
  1. New Delhi
  2. Moscow
  3. Johannesburg
  4. Mexico City
  5. Beijing
Yes, traffic in Beijing is really is that bad. The city once saw a traffic jam that stretched for 62 miles...and lasted for nine days! I don't know about you, but I can't think of many jobs that would inspire me to start my commute nine days early.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Fun with YouTube closed captions

When watching certain videos on YouTube, you can click the "cc" button to get automatically generated closed captions. The funny thing is, YouTube gets them wrong. Really wrong. A lot. Veteran YouTubers Rhett and Link demonstrate:

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

The joy of telling someone something for the first time

Saying "what kind of an idiot doesn't know about the Yellowstone supervolcano" is so much more boring than telling someone about the Yellowstone supervolcano for the first time.
Yep. This is something I need to work on.

(from xkcd)

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Scotland Yard blacklists the word "blacklist" because it sounds racist

Wanting to avoid any appearance of racism, Britain's Scotland Yard has banned the use of the word "blacklist" by its IT staff. Yes, you read that correctly. "I am sure we can appreciate the sensitivity around the use of such terminology today," wrote security services chief Brian Douglas, "so please ensure it is no longer used." The word "whitelist" is also forbidden.

That got me thinking. What other words might have underlying racist connotations? A few potentially offensive terms sprang immediately to mind:
  • blackboard
  • whiteboard
  • blackout
  • whitewash
  • Black Friday
  • whitewater rafting
  • blackened catfish
  • white collar crime
  • black coffee
  • whitewall tires
  • Chicago Blackhawks
  • Chicago White Sox
  • Black's Law Dictionary
  • White House
Actor Jack Black and comedian Ron White were unavailable for comment.

Saturday, May 05, 2012

National Christmas Tree, R.I.P.

It is being reported that the National Christmas Tree, planted over a year ago near the White House, has died. Casualty of the ongoing "war on Christmas," or simple "transplant shock"? You decide!

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

CraigsList: Just for Men

My wife ran across this ad on CraigsList, and I thought I'd share it:

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Hungry Hungry Hippos movie?

No, but with the classic children's game Battleship coming to the big screen (not to mention the fact that Hollywood is clean out of fresh ideas), I wouldn't be surprised.


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