Now gluten-free!

Friday, August 31, 2012

It's finally here! Bacon-flavored coffee!

Whoever said America can't compete with the rest of the world? Where else could you get something like this?

Eileen Gannon of Des Moines, Iowa, was awarded $10,000 in the Seattle's Best Coffee's Red Cup Showdown with what was hailed as the most "imaginative drink in America." Her winning concoction: pumpkin pie-spiced, bacon-flavored coffee.

You won't find it at Starbucks. This taste sensation will only be featured at participating Seattle's Best Coffee locations across North America.

Time to change tactics

(via xkcd)

Thursday, August 30, 2012

"Missing" woman joins search party looking for herself

I've heard of people trying to find themselves, but not literally. One woman in Iceland did just that:
A group of tourists spent hours Saturday night looking for a missing woman near Iceland's Eldgja canyon, only to find her among the search party.

The group was travelling through Iceland on a tour bus and stopped near the volcanic canyon in the southern highlands Saturday afternoon, reports the Icelandic news organization

One of the women on the bus left to change her clothes and freshen up. When she came back, her busmates didn't recognize her.

Soon, there was word of a missing passenger. The woman didn't recognize the description of herself, and joined in the search.

About 50 people searched the terrain by vehicles and on foot. The coast guard was even readying a helicopter to help.

But the search was called off at about 3 a.m., when it became clear the missing woman was, in fact, accounted for and searching for herself.
At least the story had a happy ending.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Man robs hotel

The robbery occurred in Arlington, Virginia. A man walked into the lobby of a Best Western, threw hot coffee on the desk attendant, grabbed $450 and a cell phone, and ran out. Police called in K-9 units and a helicopter, but their search didn't turn up a suspect.

No word on whether the weapon used in the crime was regular or decaf.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Scientists discover the "anternet"

Harvester ants (photo: Steve Jurvetson)

An interesting article from Stanford discusses the striking similarities found between the internet and ant colonies:
On the surface, ants and the Internet don't seem to have much in common. But two Stanford researchers have discovered that a species of harvester ants determine how many foragers to send out of the nest in much the same way that Internet protocols discover how much bandwidth is available for the transfer of data. The researchers are calling it the "anternet."

Deborah Gordon, a biology professor at Stanford, has been studying ants for more than 20 years. When she figured out how the harvester ant colonies she had been observing in Arizona decided when to send out more ants to get food, she called across campus to Balaji Prabhakar, a professor of computer science at Stanford and an expert on how files are transferred on a computer network. At first he didn't see any overlap between his and Gordon's work, but inspiration would soon strike.

"The next day it occurred to me, 'Oh wait, this is almost the same as how [Internet] protocols discover how much bandwidth is available for transferring a file!'" Prabhakar said. "The algorithm the ants were using to discover how much food there is available is essentially the same as that used in the Transmission Control Protocol."

Transmission Control Protocol, or TCP, is an algorithm that manages data congestion on the Internet, and as such was integral in allowing the early web to scale up from a few dozen nodes to the billions in use today. Here's how it works: As a source, A, transfers a file to a destination, B, the file is broken into numbered packets. When B receives each packet, it sends an acknowledgment, or an ack, to A, that the packet arrived.

This feedback loop allows TCP to run congestion avoidance: If acks return at a slower rate than the data was sent out, that indicates that there is little bandwidth available, and the source throttles data transmission down accordingly. If acks return quickly, the source boosts its transmission speed. The process determines how much bandwidth is available and throttles data transmission accordingly.

It turns out that harvester ants (Pogonomyrmex barbatus) behave nearly the same way when searching for food. Gordon has found that the rate at which harvester ants – which forage for seeds as individuals – leave the nest to search for food corresponds to food availability.

A forager won't return to the nest until it finds food. If seeds are plentiful, foragers return faster, and more ants leave the nest to forage. If, however, ants begin returning empty handed, the search is slowed, and perhaps called off.
Still, if you have a problem with your internet connection, I would recommend calling your IT professional, not the Orkin Man.

Friday, August 24, 2012

The deadly facts about water

There is a good reason why your friendly neighborhood TSA, agent won't allow water through security. Are you aware of the many dangers of dihydrogen monoxide?"

(via Now That's Nifty)

Thursday, August 23, 2012

How not to restore an old painting

A prized fresco of Jesus Christ has been on prominent display in the Sanctuary of Mercy Church near Zaragoza, Spain, for more than a century. The painting had deteriorated over time, and one elderly parishioner took it upon herself to restore it. The result was less than stellar:

It reminds me of Mr. Bean's ill-fated attempt to restore "Whistler's Mother":

Oklahoma school bans kindergartner from wearing University of Michigan shirt

One of the nice things about homeschooling our kids is that we don't have to deal with idiotic rules and the control freaks who make them. Case in point:

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

No flying car, but I'll settle for a hover bike

The future is here! Well, sort of. We didn't get the flying cars we were promised back in the 1950s, so it looks like we'll have to make do with hover bikes.

Here is the latest prototype from Aerofex:

15-year-old develops new and improved cancer test...using Google

Jack Andraka of Maryland won $75,000 at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair in May for developing a screening test for pancreatic cancer that's faster, more sensitive, and cheaper than the current standard. What's even more amazing is that he's only 15 and did most of his research online.

Andraka is now continuing his research at Johns Hopkins University.


Monday, August 20, 2012

Grizzly bear cub and wolf cub playing

Great Britain's Mo Farah running away from things

Great Britain's Mo Farah took gold in both the 10,000m and 5,000m events in the 2012 Olympic Games -- and his winning face had "internet meme" written all over it.

(via Ink Tank)

Friday, August 17, 2012

Power tools in the kitchen

Whoever said power tools had to be confined to the garage?

(via Neatorama)

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Airport X-ray discovers drunk tourist asleep on baggage belt

An unnamed airline passenger arrived at Italy's international airport to check in for a flight to Oslo. When he found no one at the counter to help him, he decided to help himself to a nap...on the baggage belt.

Beer in hand, the slumbering Norwegian moved through the secure baggage area for about 15 minutes before officials spotted him in an X-ray image on their monitors.

He was probably just pining for the fjords.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Official trailer for Red Dawn remake

The trailer, not surprisingly, focuses on the action, but it will be interesting to see what the remake does with the story.

I always thought the original Red Dawn seemed a bit far-fetched. However, after seeing it again in recent years, I was able to appreciate its libertarian nuances. For those of you interested, libertarian icon Murray N. Rothbard wrote a review of the original film back in 1984.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Wait...there's a texting championship?

17-year-old Austin Wierschke of Rhinelander, Wisconsin, just won $50,000 in the sixth annual U.S. LG National Texting Competition in Times Square on August 8. He won last year as well.

Pinterest isn't for everyone

(from Go Comics)

Thursday, August 09, 2012

Man arrested at Olympics for not smiling

If you're attending the Olympic Games in person, remember to smile, otherwise you may find yourself nabbed by the Thought Police. The Guardian reports:
[Mark] Worsfold, whose experience was first reported by Private Eye, claims police questioned him about his demeanour and why he had not been seen to be visibly enjoying the event. Worsfold, who was diagnosed with Parkinson's in 2010, suffers from muscle rigidity that affects his face. He was released after two hours without charge or caution.

"It could have been done better. I was arrested for not smiling. I have Parkinson's," he said, adding that he realised the officers were working long hours and trying to control the event properly, but they had not, in his case, acted correctly. He said he did not want to make further comment until he received a response from Surrey police.
But the real problem, according to the article, isn't the proliferation of police state tactics. No, it's "the kind of 'chronic misunderstandings' people with Parkinson's have to deal with regularly."

I didn't realize kidnapping was among those chronic misunderstandings, but not to worry. It's nothing a little sensitivity training won't fix.

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Google Chrome's imperfect "incognito" function

The Google Chrome browser has an incognito function (Ctrl+Shift+N) that allows users to surf the net without tracking web pages or cookies. This feature, however, does have its limitations:

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Famous last words

Raw milk vending machines in Europe

While raw milk is treated like an illegal drug here in these United States, it is sold in vending machines all across Europe, like this one on a farm in Switzerland:

Here, a man in Slovenia demonstrates how to use a similar machine:


Spartan chess

I don't know. It doesn't look all that fun to me.

(via Facebook)

Sunday, August 05, 2012

Progressive Insurance lady doing stand-up comedy

You all know her as Flo, the friendly, overly enthusiastic Progressive Insurance lady.

Her real name is Stephanie Courtney, and before she was selling insurance she was doing stand-up comedy:

Saturday, August 04, 2012

Record-setting formation performed by 138 skydivers

After 15 attempts over the course of three days, 138 daredevils set a world record yesterday for the most skydivers in a single, vertical, heads-down formation. It's actually quite dangerous, but they make it look so effortless.

Read more here.

Olympic medal sweater (for those of us who will never win one)

For people with discriminating style who are also suffering from Olympic medal envy, Markus Lupfer has designed a fashionable wool sweater with sequined silver and gold medals across the chest.

Order yours here. (No, I don't think a Michael Phelps version is available.)

Thursday, August 02, 2012

How to park your grocery car(t)

I don't really know why, but I found it amusing to see these two grocery carts, complete with plastic cars attached, all by themselves at the far end of a mall parking lot.

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