Now gluten-free!

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Stephen Colbert's cameo in 'The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug'

Stephen Colbert, whom director Peter Jackson called "the biggest Tolkien geek he had ever met," landed a cameo in the second installment of The Hobbit. Check it out:

Saturday, December 14, 2013

President Obama wins's 'Lie of the Year' contest!

For the last five years, has asked readers to vote on what they consider to be "Lie of the Year." The winner for 2013, by a wide margin, was Barack Obama, for his oft-repeated statement, "If you like your health care plan, you can keep it."

Congratulations, Mr. President!

Friday, December 13, 2013

Fortoon Cookie (December 13, 2013)

"Leaders are like eagles, they don't find them one at a time."

(All "Fortoon Cookie" cartoons are cross-posted at

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Low-res but fascinating video of Earth and moon captured by Juno spacecraft

From the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory YouTube page:
When NASA's Juno spacecraft flew past Earth on Oct. 9, 2013, it received a boost in speed of more than 8,800 mph (about 7.3 kilometer per second), which set it on course for a July 4, 2016, rendezvous with Jupiter.

One of Juno's sensors, a special kind of camera optimized to track faint stars, also had a unique view of the Earth-moon system. The result was an intriguing, low-resolution glimpse of what our world would look like to a visitor from afar.

The cameras that took the images for the movie are located near the pointed tip of one of the spacecraft's three solar-array arms. They are part of Juno's Magnetic Field Investigation (MAG) and are normally used to determine the orientation of the magnetic sensors. These cameras look away from the sunlit side of the solar array, so as the spacecraft approached, the system's four cameras pointed toward Earth. Earth and the moon came into view when Juno was about 600,000 miles (966,000 kilometers) away -- about three times the Earth-moon separation.

During the flyby, timing was everything. Juno was traveling about twice as fast as a typical satellite, and the spacecraft itself was spinning at 2 rpm. To assemble a movie that wouldn't make viewers dizzy, the star tracker had to capture a frame each time the camera was facing Earth at exactly the right instant. The frames were sent to Earth, where they were processed into video format.

The music accompaniment is an original score by Vangelis.

How to see which government agency is spying on your phone

Alex Heid, information security consultant, demonstrates how to see which government agency is spying on your cell phone's unique IP address. Unfortunately, this only seems to work on Android phones.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

A brilliant Christmas medley played entirely on iPads

Members of North Point Music performed this Christmas medley live at North Point Community Church using borrowed iPads:

(via The Tea Party Economist)

Monday, December 09, 2013

Friday, December 06, 2013

Fortoon Cookie (December 6, 2013)

"Others see you as lively, friendly and witty."

(All "Fortoon Cookie" cartoons are cross-posted at

Friday, November 29, 2013

Fortoon Cookie (November 29, 2013)

"Take that chance you've been considering."

(All "Fortoon Cookie" cartoons are cross-posted at

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Study: Eating bacon may help you live longer

A recent study suggests that higher amounts of Vitamin B3, or niacin, in one's diet may prolong life. And bacon is chock-full of niacin. From
Energy Metabolism Prof. Michael Ristow and his team decided to feed roundworms a bunch of niacin, and discovered that the new element in the worms' diet saw them living one-tenth longer than their Vitamin B3-free peers. This evidence is surprising to the science community, because niacin promotes the formation of "free radicals," which have long been theorized to actually cause aging in organisms.

Ristow's findings go against the largely accepted theory that food rich in antioxidants can prevent aging by eliminating free radicals. "The claim that intake of antioxidants, especially in tablet form, promotes any aspect of human health lacks scientific support," said Ristow. Instead, the Zurich scientists posits that "[c]ells can cope well with oxidative stress and neutralise it."

Basically, Ristow is suggesting that niacin is perfect for every couch potato who hates fruit. "Niacin tricks the body into believing that it is exercising – even when this is not the case," said Ristow. Next up for Ristow's team is testing the theory on mice.
I have been trying for many years to trick my body into thinking it was exercising. Who knew the answer was to just eat more bacon?

Friday, November 22, 2013

Fortoon Cookie (November 22, 2013)

"Never judge a work of art by its defects."

(All "Fortoon Cookie" cartoons are cross-posted at

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Minneapolis home to best restroom in America

The 2013 winner of Cintas' America's Best Restroom Contest is Varsity Theater, located in Minneapolis, Minnesota. From Cintas:
The Varsity Theater, formerly The University Theater, was one of the last vaudeville houses in Minneapolis and hosted everything from minstrel shows, to comedians, to screenings of early silent films. In 2005, the current incarnation of The Varsity Theater opened its doors as a vaudeville house for the 21st Century. The restroom, decorated with ornate, gilded mirrors, sassy text plates, and bricks laid as if by a drunken mason on bender, invites guests into an Alice In Wonderland-like grotto – to relieve themselves and re-live childhood fairy tales. One part old-fashioned powder room one part lounge, this restroom allows concert-goers to take a break in an area from which one can still view and hear the stage. Bartenders even serve drinks over the back counter into the restroom area, offering a VIP experience to every guest. The sinks were designed with shower head-faucets with a foot pedal operation, a la grade school restrooms. The lounge and hand washing area is coed, creating quite a social atmosphere, particularly when concert-goers are trying to figure out how to activate the sinks and they need to ask one another for the tip – use your toes. And of course, the women's side of the restroom features four times as many stalls as the men's side. In addition to hosting both local and national music acts the Varsity is a popular location for wedding receptions, private galas, and dream dates, coupled with dinner at their associated restaurant, Loring Pasta Bar.
Yes, this is how you relieve yourself in style...

Sunday, November 10, 2013

NYPD rounding up skateboarders, Benny Hill-style

The Broadway Bomb is an annual (and illegal) eight-mile skateboard race through the streets of Manhattan. Thankfully, the NYPD knows exactly how to handle these scofflaws...

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

Satellite image of erupting Russian volcano

Click here for high-res image. (Photo: NASA / Earth Observatory / Robert Simmon)

Yes, there are active volcanoes in Russia. NASA's Landsat 8 satellite captures 16,000-ft. Klyuchevskaya Sopka in the act.

(via Yahoo, Slate)

Monday, November 04, 2013

The upside to air pollution? The government can't spy on you.

(Photo: China Foto Press)

Who knew smog had a silver lining? The South China Morning Post reports that the thick, blinding smog shrouding Beijing is rendering surveillance cameras virtually useless, and scientists are being called in to shed some light on the subject. One possible solution being tossed around is to use radar to help keep "sensitive areas" more secure.

Meanwhile, the Chinese people may enjoy a somewhat brief respite from Big Brother's prying eye.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Full 1938 broadcast of 'The War of the Worlds'

On October 30, 1938, Orson Welles treated America to what would become one of the most infamous radio broadcasts in history. The War of the Worlds, a dramatized adaptation of the H. G. Wells novel, was created for the CBS radio anthology The Mercury Theatre on the Air, yet it convinced many listeners that Earth was actually being invaded by creatures from Mars.

Here it is, in its entirety, for your Halloween enjoyment:

Friday, October 25, 2013

Fortoon Cookie: A new web comic

Many of you who read this blog know of my "cartoon" blog, White Noise. Last week, I started a new web comic on that site entitled "Fortoon Cookie." The premise is pretty straight-forward: sketch a simple cartoon using an actual fortune cookie for the caption. I have decided to cross-post that comic on this blog. Here are the first two installments:

October 18, 1013

October 25, 1013

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Former quarterback Phil Robertson and his second-string backup honored at Louisiana Tech

In case you didn't already know, Duck Dynasty patriarch Phil Robertson was the starting quarterback at Louisiana Tech back in the 1960s.

(Image: ESPN)

Robertson's second-string backup was some guy named Bradshaw something or other. The school honored the two former players during a home game last month.

(via SB Nation)

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Even the U.S. Postal Service thinks we're idiots

There is a level of stupidity that is achieved only by those in government. One recent example of this is the decision of the U.S. Postal Service to destroy Michelle Obama's Just Move! stamp series. The stamps had to go because they depicted children engaged in various dangerous activities -- you know, things like jumping rope, playing soccer, and swimming.

From the government's perspective this sort of makes sense. If one actually believes that a stamp can promote good behavior, such as staying physically active, then it only follows that a stamp could also encourage risky behavior, like juggling without a helmet. Either way, it doesn't say much about how those in government view the rest of us. The way I see it, the only thing more insulting than being governed by idiots is to be treated as idiots.


Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Pumpkin Spice: Official Movie Trailer

Yes, it's that time of year again. Time for pumpkin-flavored everything.

USA Today reports:
The flavor of pumpkin is suddenly showing up in everything from M&M's to vodka to Pop-Tarts. While the orange gourd is seasonal, it is increasingly becoming a year-round obsession, with sales topping $290 million last year, reports Nielsen. The sheer number of pumpkin offerings domestically jumped nearly 19% last year.

"Pumpkin is everywhere these days," says Andrea Riberi, senior vice president at Nielsen. "And, seemingly earlier than last year."
Here are a few pumpkin-laced treats to look for this year:
  • M&M's. For those wanting to toss an October twists into the bags of trick-or-treaters, Target is the exclusive seller of Pumpkin Spice M&Ms.

  • Pop-Tarts. Kellogg's has brought back Pumpkin Pie Pop-Tarts. They come frosted and sprinkled with pumpkin pie-flavored filling.

  • Pringles. No joke, folks. Here come Pumpkin Pie Spice Pringles, for chip snackers with a sweet tooth.

  • Ice cream. Baskin-Robbins is bringing back Pumpkin Pie Ice Cream this month. And Pumpkin Pie is the Blizzard flavor of the month at Dairy Queen.

  • Doughnuts. Dunkin' Donuts Pumpkin Pie Donut is made with pumpkin pie-flavored buttercream, and the icing is sprinkled with graham cracker topping. "Perhaps, more than any other flavor, pumpkin evokes the feelings of nostalgia and comfort," says Stan Frankenthaler, executive chef at Dunkin'.
  • Friday, September 27, 2013

    Lightsabers soon to be a reality?

    Though quite popular a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, lightsabers are rather hard to come by on our planet. The technology to produce them has eluded us. Until now.

    The Center for Ultracold Atoms, a joint venture between Harvard and MIT, has created what is considered to be a new state of matter: photonic molecules. ExtremeTech reports:
    This new state of matter is surprising and interesting, as photons are considered to be massless and incapable of interacting with each other. According to the research group’s leader, who has the unbelievably coincidental surname Lukin, these photonic molecules behave somewhat like lightsabers from the Star Wars universe, with the photons pushing and deflecting each other, but staying linked.
    For an explanation of how it all works, read the full article.

    Finally! One of my childhood dreams may actually have a chance of coming true!

    Monday, September 23, 2013

    String theory explained to the tune of Bohemian Rhapsody

    Singing scientist Timothy Blais explains string theory, a capella-style, to the tune of "Bohemian Rhapsody." And it actually makes much more sense than the original song.

    Tuesday, September 17, 2013

    Romania's brilliant response to British anti-Romanian immigrant campaign

    Back in January, officials in (Not-So-)Great Britain were considering running a negative advertising campaign in Romania and Bulgaria designed to discourage immigration from those countries.The Guardian reported:
    The plan, which would focus on the downsides of British life, is one of a range of potential measures to stem immigration to Britain next year when curbs imposed on both country's citizens living and working in the UK will expire.

    A report over the weekend quoted one minister saying that such a negative advert would "correct the impression that the streets here are paved with gold".

    There was no word on how any advert might look or whether it would use the strategy of making Britain look as horrible as possible or try to encourage would-be migrants to wake up to the joys of their own countries whether Romania's Carpathian mountains or Bulgaria's Black Sea resorts. With governments around the world spending millions on hiring London-based consultants to undertake "reputation laundering" there would be a peculiar irony if Britain chose to trash its own image perhaps by highlighting winter flooding of homes or the carnage of a Saturday night A&E ward.
    The people of Romania responded with a campaign of their own. A rather brilliant one, too:

    (via The Tea Party Economist)

    Friday, September 13, 2013

    Would you board Flight 666 to HEL on Friday the 13th?

    I would, if I had to. In fact, many passengers take the daily Finnair flight AY666 from Copenhagen to Helsinki. And as luck would have it, that particular flight falls on Friday the 13th twice in 2013. No big deal.

    Tuesday, September 10, 2013

    Barbie without makeup

    Barbie has been criticized for giving young girls an unrealistic image of beauty. Perhaps the critics are right. Artist Eddi Aguirre shows us the real Barbie, sans makeup:

    Monday, September 09, 2013

    Global cooling? Arctic ice cap grows 60% in one year

    Just six years ago, the BBC reported scientists' dire prediction that the Arctic summers could be ice-free by 2013:
    Professor Wieslaw Maslowski told an American Geophysical Union meeting that previous projections had underestimated the processes now driving ice loss.

    Summer melting this year reduced the ice cover to 4.13 million sq km, the smallest ever extent in modern times.

    Remarkably, this stunning low point was not even incorporated into the model runs of Professor Maslowski and his team, which used data sets from 1979 to 2004 to constrain their future projections.

    "Our projection of 2013 for the removal of ice in summer is not accounting for the last two minima, in 2005 and 2007," the researcher from the Naval Postgraduate School, Monterey, California, explained to the BBC.

    "So given that fact, you can argue that may be our projection of 2013 is already too conservative."
    "Yikes! It's 2013 now! What about all those poor polar bears?!"

    Don't worry. The bears will be just fine. Mail Online reported on Saturday that the Arctic ice cap has actually grown larger. In fact, it is nearly one million square miles bigger than it was this time last year. That's a 60% increase in 365 days. Looks like some scientists will be frantically scrambling for more grant money in the coming months.

    (Image: Mail Online)

    To those who have been paying attention, this comes as no surprise. Global temperatures have remained steady for the last decade-and-a-half. Even the climate scaremongers at The New York Times can't ignore the obvious. Is it any wonder why the term "global warming" has since been replaced with the more ambiguous "climate change"?

    So cheer up. Waterworld is still the stuff of science fiction, and Greenland won't be turning green again anytime soon. Perhaps it's time for these Chicken Little climatologists to simply chill out.

    Monday, August 26, 2013

    New foods at the Minnesota State Fair

    As a resident of Minnesota I have come to appreciate the curious culinary cacophony that is the State Fair. Just think of any food and add the words "on a stick" and you get the idea.

    Naturally, everyone looks forward each year to the introduction of new temptations to tantalize the taste buds. You can expect the obligatory chocolate-covered this and deep-fried that, but some of the best new foods are old favorites that are given a new twist.

    The Shrimp Shack is offering just such a treat: Bacon-Wrapped Grilled Shrimp. And yes, it comes on a stick.

    Campbell's Flavored Corndogs offers exactly what the name implies. The flavors you can expect are JalapeƱo Cheese, Sweet Corn, and Double Bacon. All deep-fried, of course.

    At Goertze's Dairy Kone you will find peanut butter and jelly malts and sundaes.

    Among the more daring delectables are Cocoa Cheese Bites from Axel's,

    Fried Pickles 'n' Chocolate from Preferred Pickles,

    and the Candied Bacon Cannoli from Ole's Cannoli.

    Check out all the new foods available at the Minnesota State Fair here.

    Monday, August 19, 2013

    How to condition your child to live in a police state

    What other reason could there be for including this in a children's book?

    The page in question is from the book Olivia Goes to Venice, by Ian Falconer. It currently has many more negative ratings than positive. Here are a few 1-star review excerpts:
    Truly appalling that a children's book includes an illustration of TSA-like goons searching a "child" for weapons. Even more appalling is that Olivia "is pleased" by this search. Children should not be raised on fear nor should they be taught to believe illegal search and seizure is normal and proper.

    No redeeming qualities about this book. Skip for your toddler. The getting searched at the airport sent shivers down my spine.

    M. L. Browne
    Falconer's gone mad. Either that, or totalitarian.

    bcc mee
    After seeing video footage of a young girl being groped by TSA agents, I am appalled that this book would see fit to include the main character "pleased" at being inspected for weapons. What kind of message is this? We seem to have one generation that is not aware of our civil liberties and now we're raising another generation that will never know the freedoms we once had.

    Matt and Andy's Mom
    I guess the only way to reach little children with government agendas is to get them before they are old enough to think for themselves, telling them that the proper response is to be pleased.

    Friday, August 16, 2013

    Government finally admits what everyone already knew: Area 51 exists

    George Washington University has obtained recently declassified government documents for its National Security Archive that, for the first time, acknowledge the existence of the infamous Area 51. The documents describe the creation of the top-secret site and the government's spy plane program. No, there isn't any mention of aliens.

    The Atlantic Wire has the story.

    Thursday, August 15, 2013

    A visit to Preston, Idaho, hometown of Napoleon Dynamite

    More than a hit, Napoleon Dynamite became a phenomenon: Its many memorable lines were quoted incessantly until they became more annoying than funny (an occurrence known as Borat Syndrome).

    Nearly a decade after the film hit theaters, visitors still make the trek up to Preston to see Napoleon's house, the high school, the thrift store, Pedro's house, etc. People in town, unsurprisingly, have mixed feelings about that. Preston High principal Jeff Lords told us that some of them feel mocked by Napoleon Dynamite, but some just don't want a bunch of attention on their small town. Lucky for them, Preston isn't really close to much or on the way to anything. The fans who make the trip are the diehards.

    Wednesday, August 14, 2013

    No place for freedom of expression at America's rodeos

    The rodeo. It doesn't get much more American than that. And when one of the last vestiges of Americana falls victim to political correctness, you know it's all over but the singing. (Excuse me, Fat Lady? You're on in five.)

    I'm referring to the incident that occurred at the Missouri State Fair this past Saturday in which a rodeo clown donned a Barack Obama mask and ran around the arena being chased by a bull.

    I know. Horrifying, right?

    An entire handful of people were offended. Rodeo attendee Perry Beam complained that the atmosphere created by the stunt reminded him of a KKK rally. I'm not sure how many KKK rallies Mr. Beam has been to, but I have a feeling that might be a bit of an exaggeration.

    As usual, the whiny knee-jerk reactionists won the day. The clown responsible has been banned for life from the fair and the president of the Missouri Rodeo Cowboy Association has resigned.

    In the glory days of the old Soviet Union, people caught poking fun at a beloved politician would have been shipped off to reeducation camps. Thankfully, we are much more civilized. We send them away to sensitivity training seminars, and that is exactly what the Show Me State is now requiring of all rodeo clowns. Nothing demonstrates the nonsense of political correctness like a solution in search of a problem.

    Here's how I see it. If you attend a rodeo and find yourself offended by a clown -- and I'm going out on a limb assuming you understand the definition of the word "clown" -- running around in a mask that resembles a sitting government official, then that's a pretty good sign you need to find something else to occupy your Saturday nights. However, if you say that Barack Obama, or any reasonable likeness of him, simply has no place at a family-friendly event, then I would concede you have a point.

    In the meantime, quite your whining and try growing up. The world already has enough adult children as it is.

    Saturday, August 10, 2013

    Netflix now allows individual profiles on the same account

    Well, it's about time. Netflix now allows users to have up to five individual profiles on the same account.

    My wife was getting tired of logging into our account and being inundated with sci-fi suggestions. I think this will help.

    Wednesday, July 31, 2013

    John Williams will return to score Star Wars VII

    If George Lucas represents everything that is wrong with the Star Wars franchise, John Williams represents everything that is right. And now it has been confirmed that he will continue in that role. He has signed on to score Episode VII.

    (via Chris Knight)

    Tuesday, July 23, 2013

    'Calvin and Hobbes' documentary set to release on Nov. 15

    Dear Mr. Watterson is a documentary that explores the influence of "Calvin and Hobbes" and seeks to discover why it has made such an impact.

    Monday, July 22, 2013

    Thursday, June 27, 2013

    Handy smart phone app records all audio all the time, just like the NSA

    There is a new smart phone app called Heard that automatically records everything within range of the phone's microphone. It stores the audio in memory for five minutes and then erases it unless the user chooses to save it. Think of it as carrying around your own National Security Agency in your pocket.

    I suggest using it while wearing a t-shirt that says, "This conversation may be recorded." That will give any government employee you interact with fair warning.

    Wednesday, June 26, 2013

    Try to compete in the business world, get sued by the government

    A group of teens turned down opportunities to attend Harvard, Princeton, and MIT to open their own rental car company called FlightCar. Yeah, I know. Crazy, right? But these kids believed their business model was sure to out-compete even the big rental companies like Hertz and Avis, and that's all part of the American dream.

    Here's how the business is described on
    FlightCar lets people parking rent their vehicles out to other travelers. Every rental is insured up to $1 million, and every renter is pre-screened. Depending on the size and model year of the vehicle, you'll also make up to $10/day in cash! To get free parking, click on "List Your Car". Or, to rent a vehicle, use the menu above.

    For owners:
    1. List your car on FlightCar. It's free! FlightCar runs a driving record check on every renter. Regardless of whether it's rented, you're guaranteed free parking for your trip.
    2. On departure day, give us a call 10-15 minutes before you reach the airport, and come to our lot to drop off your car. From there, we'll have a black car drop you off curbside at your terminal of departure or another location within a 10 minute radius.
    3. When you return, call us at 1-866-FLIGHTCAR (354-4482), and we'll send a black car to pick you up at the curb. If you'd like, you can even take a cab, and we'll refund you the fare. We'll even give you a check if your car is rented.
    For renters:
    1. Search FlightCar to find a sweet vehicle you'd like to rent! Enter your driver information and you're ready to go.
    2. On arrival day, give us a call at 1-866-FLIGHTCAR (354-4482) when you land. A black car will pick you up right at the curb and take you to our location. A FlightCar team member will meet you there with your rental car.
    3. When your rental period is over, give us a call, and return the vehicle to our location. A FlightCar team member will greet you and help you with your bags. From there, we'll have a black car drop you off anywhere within a 10 minute radius.

    The brilliance of this model is its simplicity. No high overhead. No fleet of cars to maintain. Just good service.

    And too good to be true, it seems. San Francisco International Airport complained that FlightCar should have to pay the same extortion fees other rental car companies pay. The city is now suing FlightCar claiming that these three teenagers are in violation of California's Unfair Competition Law. Hey, at least they didn't try opening up a lemonade stand.

    I will certainly be following this story. It will be interesting to see if it's possible to fight City Hall. If not, these kids will probably be forced out of business and consumers will have one less way to save money. Unfortunately, that's how we stifle the competitive spirit in America.

    Thursday, June 20, 2013

    The NSA no longer tries to hide its snooping

    Now that the secret is out, the NSA no longer bothers trying to cover up the fact that it spies on everyone. Take a look:

    Friday, June 14, 2013

    Find a dirty bomb? Don't try to wash it!

    But that's exactly what one woman in the U.K. did when she discovered an unexploded World War II bomb in her garden:
    Photo: ALAMY
    Carole Longhorn, 65, took a number of unusual safety stops after discovered the explosive - including putting a plastic chair on top of it - before bomb disposal experts took it away.

    She hit the metal object with a spade while she was gardening at her home and when she looked closer realised it was in the shape of a shell.

    The gardener then put a plastic seat on top of the bomb just in case it went off while she shouted for her husband Clive, 60.

    Once she had dug it up she took it inside their house and left it on the coffee table, before Mr Longhorn heard a rattle and turned around to see his wife washing mud off the bomb in the sink.

    Police were called and experts confirmed they believed that the bomb was still live. They took it to a nearby quarry where a controlled explosion was carried out.

    Wednesday, June 12, 2013

    Monday, June 10, 2013

    Sushi restaurant delivers food on a flying tray

    Why have a waitress carry your tray of sushi when you can have it flown to your table at speeds of up to 25 mph?

    Famed for being the first Sushi chain in the UK to deliver food to customers on a conveyor belt, iconic Japanese restaurant YO! Sushi has gone one-step further with the introduction of the world's first flying tray to deliver their new range of Japanese rice burgers to customers.

    The 'iTray', which is now being trialled in the flagship Poland Street restaurant in London with a view to rolling it out across the UK next year, is a high-tech flying platter custom built using the most advanced RC Drone quadicopter technology and is remote controlled through an on-board Wi-Fi system and iPad software.

    Canadians trying to jump an above-ground pool with a Jeep

    It's nice to know that America doesn't have a monopoly on stupidity. But at least they had sense enough to wear helmets.

    Thursday, June 06, 2013

    Handy site tells you if your favorite site is down

    Having trouble with Facebook, Twitter, Netflix, or YouTube? You may want to check out
    You know the feeling: you're happily using one of your favorite web sites when, all of a sudden, you're interrupted by an error message. It can be frustrating. Is there a bug in the web site, or is your Internet provider acting up again? Where can you turn to find out if others are having the same problem?

    downrightnow was created to tell you when popular web services are experiencing trouble. It pulls together information from several sources to determine when there's an outage or other disruption:

  • Reports from users who visit downrightnow
  • Public messages on Twitter from users who are having service trouble
  • Official company announcements and status reports
  • Other third-party web sites that monitor service status

    Just visit downrightnow to stay informed. You'll get real-time updates on the status of your favorite web services, both official and unofficial, all in one place. And don't forget to file a report whenever you notice a service issue -- it's easy and you'll let others know they aren't the only ones having trouble.

  • Of course, if happens to be down...well, then you're kind of on your own.

    Monday, June 03, 2013

    Universal Studios opens 'The Simpsons' Fast Food Boulevard

    Universal Studios Florida has expanded The Simpsons Ride area to include some of the more iconic locations from the popular TV show. Hungry customers can visit formerly fictional eateries like Krusty Burger, Cletus' Chicken Shack, the Frying Dutchman, and Luigi's Pizza. They can even stop by Moe's Tavern for a cold Duff Beer.

    Coming attractions include the Duff Brewery, Lard Lad, a statue of Jebediah Springfield, and Kang & Kodos' Twirl 'n' Hurl ride. They are still under construction and are set to open within the next couple of months.

    Saturday, June 01, 2013

    Dog's incontinence causes truck to crash into house

    From KRCR TV

    Nothing all that interesting here. Just your average "dog pees in truck, slips onto accelerator, causing truck to crash into house" story.

    Nanny Bloomberg hates movie trailers and social media

    You can always count on Mayor Michael Bloomberg, New York City's head nanny, for a good laugh. Known for his quixotic crusades against soda and salt, he discussed a couple of his latest pet peeves in a recent interview with M magazine:
    It was the second day of the last year of his mayoralty, and Mike Bloomberg was in a mood. He had spent a portion of New Year's Day watching Hugh Jackman, Anne Hathaway, and Amanda Seyfried battling injustice in the streets of Paris. By early afternoon on January 2, he still was kvetching about his night at the movies.

    "Listen," he said. "I sat through an hour of trailers, and every one was stupider than the other. And then there were these ads for video games—for adults! And you want to know why we're dumbing down politics."
    Ah, yes. Those blasted movie trailers. I'm sure we can expect some sort of ban addressing that problem soon.

    Another thing that irks Nanny Bloomberg is social media:
    "The essence of good government is that voters hire people with the values you respect, then when they get into office, they make decisions by leading from the front," he said. "They convince legislators to go along with them, they pass bills and then make improvements so that, by the time the next election comes around, you show that it works or you get thrown out. But with social media, there is an instant referendum on everything. It's much harder to lead from the front. I'm worried how government can survive this."
    I admit that I worry about a lot of things. The survival of government isn't one of them.

    Thursday, May 30, 2013

    Starbucks in Hong Kong uses toilet water to make coffee

    "Yes, I'd like a venti half-caf, non-fat, vanilla latte, please. Wait...uh... You use water from a dirty bathroom to make your coffee? Oh. Just make it a grande then."

    (via Gizmodo)

    Tuesday, May 28, 2013

    Extreme Barbie Jeep racing

    Those of you who thought those kid-sized Barbie Jeeps were just for little girls, think again.

    (via The Poke)

    Friday, May 24, 2013

    'Don't try to fix it. I just need you to listen.'

    Come on, guys. Why do you always insist on trying to fix the problem when all she really wants you to do is listen?

    (via 22 Words)

    Thursday, May 23, 2013

    Don't expect quidditch to be an Olympic sport any time soon

    Fans of Harry Potter are familiar with the game of quidditch, a rather violent game played by kids flying around on magic brooms:

    Author J. K. Rowling claims to have invented the game in a small Manchester hotel after a fight with her boyfriend. Makes sense.

    Believe it or not, quidditch is also played in the real world. There is even an International Quidditch Association, complete with its own set of official rules. The IQA is a registered 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, and its "mission is to promote, develop, and govern the sport of quidditch and inspire young people to lead physically active and socially engaged lives."

    In case you're wondering what a game of quidditch played by a bunch of muggles might be like, take a look at this match between UCLA and Emerson:

    OK, so it's much more exciting in the world of fiction. But then again, what isn't?

    Wednesday, May 22, 2013

    Recent tornado outbreak a result of 'global cooling'?

    That's what scientists were saying four decades ago, as this 1975 Newsweek article shows:

    It's worth reading through the entire article, but here's the relevant excerpt:
    In England, farmers have seen their growing season decline by about two weeks since 1950, with a resultant overall loss in grain production estimated at up to 100,000 tons annually. During the same time, the average temperature around the equator has risen by a fraction of a degree – a fraction that in some areas can mean drought and desolation. Last April, in the most devastating outbreak of tornadoes ever recorded, 148 twisters killed more than 300 people and caused half a billion dollars' worth of damage in 13 U.S. states.

    To scientists, these seemingly disparate incidents represent the advance signs of fundamental changes in the world’s weather. The central fact is that after three quarters of a century of extraordinarily mild conditions, the earth's climate seems to be cooling down. Meteorologists disagree about the cause and extent of the cooling trend, as well as over its specific impact on local weather conditions. But they are almost unanimous in the view that the trend will reduce agricultural productivity for the rest of the century. If the climatic change is as profound as some of the pessimists fear, the resulting famines could be catastrophic.

    Any wonder why so many scientists and politicians now opt for the more ambiguous term "climate change"?

    (via The Tea Party Economist)

    Tuesday, May 21, 2013

    Elderly tornado survivor finds her missing dog during TV interview

    Barbara Garcia survived the devastating tornado that ripped through Oklahoma and destroyed her home, but her dog was missing. This is what happened during her interview with a local TV reporter:


    Wednesday, May 08, 2013

    Scientists find a cure for earworms

    Whenever I hear the term "earworm" I think of that creepy scene in Star Trek II in which Khan goes after Captain Terrell and Commander Chekov with a couple of Ceti eels. Not a pretty sight.

    In reality, earworms are annoying tunes that get stuck in your head. But like Ceti eels, they burrow into your brain and drive you crazy. Fortunately, it seems someone has finally discovered a way to remove them.

    According to a report in The Telegraph, researchers believe the best way to get rid of an earworm is to solve anagrams. If you don't have access to a book of anagrams, reading a novel may also help alleviate the suffering.

    According to Dr. Ira Hyman, a music psychologist (that's an actual job?) at Western Washington University who conducted the research, the trick is to make sure the anagram isn't too difficult, otherwise the earworm may return:
    The key is to find something that will give the right level of challenge. If you are cognitively engaged, it limits the ability of intrusive songs to enter your head.

    Something we can do automatically like driving or walking means you are not using all of your cognitive resource, so there is plenty of space left for that internal jukebox to start playing. Likewise, if you are trying something too hard, then your brain will not be engaged successfully, so that music can come back. You need to find that bit in the middle where there is not much space left in the brain. That will be different for each individual. It is like a Goldilocks effect – it can't be too easy and it can't be too hard; it has got to be just right.
    Interestingly, the research found that Lady Gaga (whose name cannot be spelled without "GAG") was the artist most responsible for creating dreaded earworms. Seems rather fitting to me.

    Friday, May 03, 2013

    Protect yourself by printing your own handgun

    That unregistered, untraceable 3D-printed handgun you've been waiting for is finally here.

    The world's first entirely 3D-printed gun (photo: Michael Thad Carter, Forbes)

    OK, it isn't pretty. In fact, it looks like the spray nozzle on a bottle of Windex. But it works. And you can bet the gun-control crowd will be up in arms about it (no pun intended).

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