Archive for the ‘Strange’ Category

Don’t Run with that Pencil!

Have you ever heard or shouted that warning?

A German woman didn’t heed that advice as a child and as a result spent the next 55 years with about 8cm of pencil lodged in her brain.

According to Spiegel Online,

A woman who lived with an 8-centimeter (3.1-inch) pencil lodged in her brain for 55 years has had most of it removed in a complex operation. She is now looking forward to a life without headaches and nosebleeds and hopes to also regain her sense of smell.

“When I was four years old I fell down in Dessau with a pencil in my hand. The pencil bored its way through my skin — and disappeared in my head,” Margret Wegner, 59, told the mass circulation newspaper Bild. “It was incredibly painful.”

The pencil missed her optic nerve and a major artery by just millimeters. A doctor treated the wound, but no one dared to operate on her brain. She decided to have the life-threatening operation after 55 years, and it was successfully carried out by a surgeon in a Berlin hospital last week.

Most of the pencil — six centimeters of it — was removed but the 2-centimeter-long tip has grown in so tightly that it will remain lodged in her brain.

All I can say? Congragulations. And Blech – brain pencils.

Almost as bad as “Mr. Phineas Gage’s Famous Injury

Mr. Gage was employed as a railroad worker in Vermont and fell victim to a freak accident that involved a long metal rod called a tamping iron. This rod was used to pack sand over an explosive charge, which was used to excavate rock for the building of railroad lines. In this instance the charge exploded unexpectedly and propelled the 3-foot-long rod through Mr. Gage’s head. The 13-pound rod entered the left cheek and exited the midline of the skull anterior to the bregma, resulting in severe injury to his left and, in all probability,2 his right prefrontal cortex. The Gage case, one of the most famous and influential in neuropsychiatry, played a crucial role in the discovery of behavioral syndromes resulting from frontal lobe dysfunction. Readers interested in detailed accounts of the case and its historical context can find excellent reviews by MacMillan3 and Barker.4

By the way, “behavioral syndromes resulting from frontal lobe dysfunction” is just a nice way of saying lobotomy among loved ones and doctors.

Remember that next time you are running down the hallway with a pencil in your hand… or playing around with tamping irons. (Anvils on the other hand. Have a ball.)

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Up, Up and Away

Anti-gravity is just so cool in a geeky sense.

According to New Scientist (and today’s Telegraph) researchers may have found a way to play some new games with levitation.

In May 2006, two research teams led by Ulf Leonhardt at St Andrew’s University, UK, and John Pendry at Imperial College, London independently proposed that an invisibility cloak could be created from exotic materials with abnormal optical properties. Such a cloaking device – working in the microwave region – was manufactured later that year.

The device was formed from so-called “metamaterials”, exotic materials made from complex arrays of metal units and wires. The metal units are smaller than the wavelength of light and so the materials can be engineered to precisely control how electromagnetic light waves travel around them. “They can transform space, tricking electromagnetic waves into moving along directions they otherwise wouldn’t,” says Leonhardt.

Leonhardt and his colleague Thomas Philbin, also at St Andrew’s University, realised that this property could also be exploited to levitate extremely small objects.

They propose inserting a metamaterial between two so-called Casimir plates. When two such plates are bought very close together, the vacuum between them becomes filled with quantum fluctuations of the electromagnetic field. As two plates are brought closer together, fewer fluctuations can occur within the gap between them, but on the outer sides of the plates, the fluctuations are unconstrained. This causes a pressure difference on either side of the plates, forcing the plates to stick together, in a phenomenon called the Casimir effect.

This probably won’t start making ships fly to the moon. And despite Professor Leonhardt’s rather humor driven Zero Point Energy reference on his web page describing Quantum Levitation, I get the impression his work is more that serious.

This kind of thing would probalby be extremely important for both low “friction” nano-components where the Casimir effect outweighs “roughness.” It might also be a good way to decouple optical components from external effects allowing for all kinds of precision measurements.

And who knows, perhaps one day, we will have Casimir force driven space making cool “whirrrrr” sounds like on the Jetsons. I doubt it. But it would be drop dead cool.

Baby Got Book (Updated)

God there are terrifying YouTube videos out there…

Listen to the rap really closely, there is so much bible trivia in that video it makes me woozy. For those of you who haven’t really “gotten big booked,” most of the references made won’t make any sense. Here’s a handy, dandy little study guide for you.

“I like big bubbles and I can not lie…”
Refers to the Message Remix 2.0 Hypercolor vinyl: Bubble Bible. Translation in modern, hip language with an obnoxious soothing blue cover. Still doesn’t drop the F* bomb though.

Notice His KJV chain?

Got her name engraved, so you know this girl is saved!
Do people still do this!?

You say you want koinonia?
Koinonia comes from the Greek and is used to mean partnership or fellowship. Wikipedia is your friend; Conservapedia – not so much. Koinonia is also used the name of an amazing number of bible colleges.

Bless me, Bless me, and teach me about John Wesley.
He doesn’t mean this one. But otherwise, I won’t increase your education. I. Just. Don’t. Go. There. But for those masochrists out there, here you go.

NIV – With a ribbon bookmark
NIV = New International Version, as opposed of course to
TNIV = Today’s New International Version,
NIrV = New International Reader’s Version or
NIVI =New International Version Inclusive Language Edition.

I ain’t talking about a paraphrase, caus Paul wouldn’t use those anyways
Yet another bible version from 1971. The Living Bible put together by Kenneth N. Taylor (while on the train to work) Was quite popular at the time but has since gone out of style. Note the contempt – tossing the bible aside – for shame, sir, for shame!

I like em real thick and red lettered. You can’t find nothin’ better
Just in case you’ve never noticed, some printings of the bible went with red lettering in order to highlight the places where God actually speaks. I have no idea whether that is the origin of the phrase red letter day but it does give a whole new spin to the phrase scare quotes.

A word to the Christian sistas, I can’t resist ya. I do God’s time with ya. But I gotta be straight when I say I want to pray til the break of day.
And people wonder why the American public is frustrated?

We might just get it on. Like the wife in Proverbs 31
I bet he’d like that! *Shutter* On the other hand Proverbs 31 does make a nice case for drinking your misery into the gutter.

6 Give beer to those who are perishing,
wine to those who are in anguish;

7 let them drink and forget their poverty
and remember their misery no more.

Thomson Chain with the big red letters
No, the chain is not referring to blink. You guessed it. Yet another version. (How can there even be people who want to be biblical literalists?) In this case it is a handy reference bible for those who need to cross check their daily dose.

When it comes to a good book Steven Kings resume just can’t compare. 39 + 27 = 66 books. And if you’re Catholic, there’s even more.
Maybe that’s what Benedict was getting at with his “church” snarking last week. But seriously, he does have an interdenominational point. (Note: clever little chart at Wikipedia)

Protestant: O.T 39 + N.T 27 = 66
Catholic : O.T 46 + N.T 27 = 73
But the winner is – Orthodox Christians: O.T. 53 + N.T. 27 = 80! Go bearded guys in Siberian monasteries!

Of course to try to go up against Steven King? Let’s take a look shall we? 45 Novels, 33 movies, 11 TV movies, 3 non fiction, 7 serial novels, a screen play, a childrens book… Need I go on? Steven King!? Bad choice – at least he didn’t go up against Perry Rhodan.

Update (Missed one)
Your girlfriend quotes Bill Hybels?
Bill Hybels is the founding minister at the the Willow Creek Community Church. This is a very small, cozy congregation having, according to their press release, 17,500 attendees (yes, you read that right) every weekend.

Finally. Did you count the number of abstence references?I lost count. There were just too many.

When is someone like Skepchick, Rebecca Watson, or the Friendly Atheist, Herman Mehta, going to fight back and do a “Oh, Baby, Baby, Bookless!” rap?

Since I can’t leave you completely, utterly traumatised, use this as a small piece of balance.

Extreme Wheelbarrowing Quote of the Day…

And just in case you didn’t get enough extreme wheelbarrowing from the first video, how about some synchronized extreme wheelbarrowing set to “Come on Eileen.” It’s like experiencing hell before you even get there.

Go here for the original post and videos.

Somehow, I think this would be a wonderful sport for the teenagers in small rural communities, especially in North American states. Towns like – say – Bemidji.

Top Tip For Gun Control

“Use both hands.”

This is the first recommendation made in one of the entries from the latest in the round of wikipedia take offs, Uncyclopedia – the content free encyclopedia. This is user driven – um – drivel raised to a high art.

First there was the Conservapedia which was an attempt to combat the evil liberal bias (aka reality) so rampant in Wikipedia. You know those pesky little entries about Separation of Church and State, Mexican History or the famous Kangaroo entry

According to the origins theory model used by creation scientists, modern kangaroos are the descendants of the two founding members of the modern kangaroo baramin that were taken aboard Noah’s Ark prior to the Great Flood. It has not yet been determined by baraminologists whether kangaroos form a holobaramin with the wallaby, tree-kangaroo, wallaroo, pademelon and quokka, or if all these species are in fact apobaraminic or polybaraminic. There is, however, no evidence of a genetic bottleneck in the kangaroo species which would be expected if all kangaroos were descended from two individuals.

After the Flood, these kangaroos bred from the Ark passengers migrated to Australia. There is debate whether this migration happened over land[5] with lower sea levels during the post-flood ice age, or before the supercontinent of Pangea broke apart[6], or if they rafted on mats of vegetation torn up by the receding flood waters.[5] The idea that God simply generated kangaroos into existence there is considered by most creation researchers to be contra-Biblical.

Here is a sampling of what Uncyclopedia has to offer. As opposed to “Conserva,” any relationship to realty, persons living or dead or perhaps seriousness, would be, I’m sure, blatently denied and immediately changed.

Mahatma Gandhi

Gandhi was a half-naked fakir. He decided to go half-naked because during his times the English rulers were terribly afraid of desi nudity. Those were days far before the desi fetishism swept the West. Thousands of desi people emulated Mahatma and the stiff English nether lips got parted in disgust and the white skinned robbers went and got themselves drowned in the Arabian Sea on the west and Bay of Bengal on the east. The theory of Ahimsa aka non-violence originated thus.

Angels

Angels are formed wherever two or more lines intersect. Angels of over 90 degrees are termed Obese whereas angels of less than 90 degrees are termed Cute. Three Angels may cooperate together to form a trinity.

John McCain

John McCain was genetically engineered in an American Research Facility. Unlike normal humans, McCain contains many organs, which allow him to fly, shoot lasers from his eyes, have terrible war flashbacks, and amass incredible amounts of strength. Most of these organs were taken from school children. See zim. McCain’s skin produced a special layer of transparent nacho cheese, allowing him to time travel without damaging his body or the space time continuum. For Food, John McCain eats the leftovers of Aborted Fetuses.

What would you look up?

Enjoy.

(Hat Tip: Stephen J. Dubner/Freakonomics Blog)

Cat Watch

You’ve probably already seen this viral video, but if not – watch it. It’s called the the “Battle at Kruger” but in honor of the Wizard of Oz, I would have named it Lions, and Buffalo and Crocodiles

And it is long, but well worth watching all of it. Sir David Attenborough couldn’t have scripted it better.

In other big cat news, we learn that forest guards (rangers) in western India have turned ringtone downloads into a whole different market. From Reuters

Forest guards in western India are using cell phones with ringtones of cows mooing, goats bleating and roosters crowing to attract leopards that have wandered into human settlements, officials said on Monday.
[…]
But rather than use methods such as live bait like goats tied to trees to lure the leopards, which then fall into large pits dug by guards, officials say they have found a safer method to trap the cats.

“The moos of a cow, bleating of a goat from the phone has proved effective to trap leopards,” said D. Vasani, a senior forest official in Gujarat. “This trick works.”

This can only lead one to the obvious question of whether this trick would work with cheetahs? And if yes, what ringtone these people were using?

(Hat Tip: Popular Science Blog)

God sends Bush an SMS

Maybe George W. Bush doesn’t have a hotline to the really big Guy.

This didn’t get much coverage in the major media, but a funny thing happened on the way to the forum Vatican. Cadillac One stalled.

But this hasn’t completely escaped the focus of the media. From the – ehem – Russian News Agency

After braving an upset stomach in Germany and being greeted by crowds of protesters in Poland and Italy, the U.S. president probably thought things could not get much worse – and then his car broke down Saturday.
[…]
On Saturday, Bush arrived in Italy, where he held talks with Pope Benedict XVI, but later during his tour of the city his limousine broke down and a reserve vehicle had to be rushed in.

Moreover, the new limo was too big to squeeze through the gates of the U.S. Embassy, and the U.S. leader had to walk the remaining distance.

Since GW did actually make it to the Vatican meeting, this was probably more of an instant message that a formal signal from God.

But I can see where this is leading. The only question is in which direction the message is going. Tim LaHaye thinks the Pope is the Antichrist. The pope refuses to consider joint church services between Catholics and Protestants.

I just wonder who exactly was the intended recipiant of this holy hiccup?

Yes readers and readettes. This is obviously a sign. Perhaps the best evidence of God I’ve seen recently.

(Hat Tip Amara Graps, guest blogging at Asymptotia)

Creationist Museums – Get em while they’re hot

Ok. The evolutionary blogging community has calmed down briefly after the splash created by Ken Ham’s 27 Million dollar Creationist museum theme park. Of course there are still a few ripples.

Like the actor who played Adam in one of the Infotainment videos being the former owner and occasional star of BedroomAcrobat, a porn site. (Hey, has anyone thought about the fact that no one else in the Christian community had that much practice being fig-leaf-less? In public? Maybe the choice wasn’t that bad!)

Then there is the increasingly open spat between the organisation that built the museum theme park, Answers In Genesis – US (AiG-US) and the organisation formerly known as Answers In Genesis Australia. (TOFKAAIGAus)

TOFKAAIGAus recently published the completion of a 40 page report outlining how the AiG-US first took over AiG-Canada and then eviscerated and finally killed TOFKAAIGAus forcing it to lose the AiG name. AiG-US and particularly Ken Ham apparently marginalized the Australian CEO Carl Wieland after which the Australian Board of Directors to signed a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) and a Deed of Copyright Licence (DOCL) which “seriously disadvantaged” the Australian ministry.

The report makes interesting reading and highlights the behind the scenes manoeuvring that goes on in many large organisations. Interesting is how former Chief Magistrate Clarrie Briese, author of the report, indignantly points out how, um, unbiblical this behaviour has been. Scandalous.

TOFKAAIGAus has apparently filed suit so we’ll have to wait for results but, in the mean time, they have found a new shorter acronym, Creation Ministries International – CMI.

But what do you do if you don’t have 27 Million dollars or another country’s ministry to plunder?

No matter, you open a Creationist museum theme park anyway. According to Canada’s Globe & Mail ,

Harry Nibourg wasn’t sure what to expect when he opened Canada’s first permanent creationist museum to the public yesterday, so he asked volunteers to act as security guards just in case.

But there were no protesters or trouble, only about 20 people eager to see what all the fuss is about these days in Big Valley, a southern Alberta village of 350 people that’s surrounded by green fields, oil-well pump jacks and cattle.

Mr. Nibourg’s tiny Big Valley Creation Science Museum, which still smells of fresh paint, is crammed with material that purports to debunk evolution and prove that the universe was created by God some 6,000 years ago and that dinosaurs and humans walked the Earth together. Located about 200 kilometres southeast of Edmonton, the museum, which has attracted international media attention, has been both condemned and praised on the letters-to-the-editor pages of Alberta’s two largest daily newspapers.

So for those of you closer to Canada than Kentucky, you can go to Big Valley and visit the slightly scaled down house of propaganda.

While visiting wonderful Alberta, you could also visit the correctly famous Royal Tyrrell Museum which houses one of the worlds largest collections of fossils and is only 600 kilometers away in Drumheller, Alberta.

After all, who needs Ken Ham to get ham fisted Creationist propagnda? Creationsit museums – perhaps cheaper by the dozen.

(Hat Tip Don Spencer’s Artifacts)

The Blob Speaks Russian

The robot moves forward in the concrete catastrophe zone, gamma radiation high enough to mean death to any human exposed; not an instant death but a slow agonizing demise as one organ after another fails; kidneys, liver, heart, lungs with the skin finally becoming an unrecognizable rotting black mask. The mechanical explorer takes a sample of a slime the same rotting, black color, growing on the wall of the chamber; thriving in this lightless, lonely spot.

Does that sound like I’m trying my hand at science fiction? Not exactly.

A new paper published last week describes just such a scenario. But the black slime isn’t something from a 1950’s science fiction movie, it’s a fungus apparently living from gamma radiation itself in a very unreal environment: inside the concrete coffin surrounding the Chernobyl nuclear reactor.

From the Eureakalert article,

Scientists have long assumed that fungi exist mainly to decompose matter into chemicals that other organisms can then use. But researchers at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University have found evidence that fungi possess a previously undiscovered talent with profound implications: the ability to use radioactivity as an energy source for making food and spurring their growth.The fungal kingdom comprises more species than any other plant or animal kingdom, so finding that they’re making food in addition to breaking it down means that Earth’s energetics—in particular, the amount of radiation energy being converted to biological energy—may need to be recalculated,” says Dr. Arturo Casadevall, chair of microbiology & immunology at Einstein and senior author of the study, published May 23 in PLoS ONE.

The ability of fungi to live off radiation could also prove useful to people: “Since ionizing radiation is prevalent in outer space, astronauts might be able to rely on fungi as an inexhaustible food source on long missions or for colonizing other planets,” says Dr. Ekaterina Dadachova, associate professor of nuclear medicine and microbiology & immunology at Einstein and lead author of the study.

This isn’t the first time life forms have been found ‘feeding’ on radiation. (Who knew?) Last year researchers from Indiana University at Bloomington reported finding bacteria living in rocks over 2.8 kilometers below the surface of the earth. According to the press release,

Radiation emanating from uranium minerals in or near the fracture allows for the formation of hydrogen gas from decomposition of water and formation of sulfate from decomposition of sulfur minerals. Hydrogen gas is highly energetic if it reacts with oxygen or other oxidants like sulfate, as the Hindenburg disaster demonstrated. Firmicutes are able to harvest energy from the reaction of hydrogen and sulfate, allowing other microbes in the fracture community to use the chemical waste from the Firmicutes as food.

This new finding also has very important implications for the search for extraterrestrial life. If organisms can survive not only on sulphates and hydrogen but directly from radiation, that would greatly expand possible environments where life could form and be found.

I just hope that life doesn’t land on the earth, sealed in a meteor, near a diner in a small town – at night. As long as the fungus sticks to eating radiation and not B-Movie actors, I think this is a pretty cool find.

And on the bright side, now we know what language the Blob spoke – Russian. Doesn’t Condoleezza Rice speak Russian? All better then.

Sniffex – Probably Just Had Hayfever (Updated)

Update: A commenter pointed me to the very useful Sniffexquestions blog. Not that you shouldn’t read my stuff. But any Sniffexquestions you might have, will be answered there. (S)he even has the report of the test shown below.

James Randi, of JREF, Sharon Weinberger, lover of government mind control stories and Imaginary Weapons (now in paperback!) and Bruce Schneier, crypto-guy have all pointed to the Sniffex modern munitions dowsing rod foolishness.

As Sharon put it over at Danger Room

Penny stock schemes are a dime a dozen, but you gotta love ones that involve far-fetched military technology. A few months ago, I received in the mail information on Sniffex, a company touting a dream technology in the age of terror: a hand-held explosive sniffer. The company’s claims about its uses — sniffing through concrete and at great distances, sounded a bit too wonderful. I tossed the brochure — labeled “hot stocks on the street”– in my pile of possibly stupid weapons, and promptly forgot about it.

Others didn’t. Famed magician and uber-Skeptic James Randi unearthed a Navy report evaluating Sniffex, and from the snippets he published online, it’s rather damning

Bruce Schnieder picked up the story. His intrepid commenters found the more interesting stuff. One reader describes a blind test of the Sniffex ‘product’ conducted at Bob Hope airport . “Tourism and Safety 2006”, a conference for law enforcement professionals held at the Anaheim Hilton Hotel in April of 2006 [Updated: See Comments – Thanks MY]. Now the videos of this blind test of ‘detection equipment’ are up at YouTube. The test is simple. Several envelopes, 9 filled with salt, 1 filled with gun powder – now use the Sniffex ‘device’ to find the dangerous one.

It starts off with a description of how Sniffex works (like the energy source – YOU!).

Then a simple test is proposed

And they huff, and they puff, and huff again. But they can’t find the explosive.

My favourite part? Perhaps the ever-present elevator music in the background. Like some surreal cross between Heidi and 24, frantically search for the nuke while “What A Wonderful World” plays as a soundtrack. Perfect.

Despite all the negative waves being sent their way, Sniffex is still being pushed on it’s European site with a “patented method based on detection of magnetic interference.” As a matter of fact, they even have a patent number: 6,344,818. See – down at the bottom

Oh!. Maybe they don’t have that patent any more.

Status: Patent Expired Due to NonPayment of
Maintenance Fees Under 37 CFR 1.362
Status Date: 03-08-2006

So not only do they have a device that doesn’t work, they can’t even keep their patent “working”.

Galactic Tsunami

Well. Since we are obviously doomed today, just thought I’d say. It’s been nice.

On the other hand, I suspect we’ll be reading each other on Monday. So could someone please give me somewhere to sort this rather bizarre video about the “Scientific Verification of Vedic Knowledge.”

This sounds like someone who has had way too many Quaaludes and is making a case for the a literal reading of the Vedas. Actually he seems to be pointing out that ancient India was like way ahead of our science. Oh. And they had nuclear weapons. So here’s my WTF?!!!!

Is fundamentalist Vedic thinking an issue? Do we need a literal reading of the Vedics. Does this mean they will stop teaching evolution in India now?

So. I hope to get better informed by Monday.

Or we’ll all be dead – killed by the Galactic Tsunami . So whatever.

Quickie: You Are Not A Real Trekkie

This guy is a real Trekkie.

And if there are enough people, with money, who have the same tick he does, he’ll probably get rich.

But, if you think you’re close to Trekkie-dom you will probably have this link on your desktop and listen to the films online. Right?

(Hat Tip: Noah Shachtman/Danger Room)

Discovering Uncovering Allah

Perhaps the Discovery Institute should invite Dr Oktar Babuna to speak.

The Discovery Institute would like American schools to ‘teach the controversy’ about evolution, Dr Babuna would probably be more than willing to oblige. You see Dr Babuna is a Turkish neurosurgeon and doubts evolution. Indeed he does more than doubt, he actively disbelieves evolution.

But for some reason, I doubt the Discovery Institute will be inviting Dr Babuna anytime soon. You see, while both sides think evolution needs to be discounted, Dr Babuna is a creationist. That might not be too bad but he is also an Islamic creationist.

From the Florida Alligator,

What students learn about evolution in books is “fake” and has no scientific value, a Turkish neurosurgeon said to about 50 students Tuesday.

Human life is a result of Allah, not evolution, said Dr. Oktar Babuna, a controversial Muslim speaker.

In his speech, which was sponsored by Islam on Campus and cost $3,000, Babuna argued against Darwinism and said the only way to understand life on Earth is through Allah and the teachings of the Koran. Babuna said it is scientifically impossible for evolution to have occurred.

The fact that this information comes to my attention today can only be seen as either a bizarre case of synchronicity or a divine act of Allah.

There are a couple of things to look at here.

It has long been known that Turkey, although one of the most western Middle Eastern countries, trails behind all western countries in understanding and acceptance of evolution. According to Seed last November.

… It teaches evolution in its schools, but, even so, appears to be losing the science education battle. In 1985 the minister of education mandated that creationism be included in science textbooks. By the late 1990s, the BAV [Bilim Araştirma Vakfi (“Scientific Research Foundation”)] was attacking scientists who opposed a creationist curriculum via slander and death threats. The cumulative damage to science has been significant. Ümit Sayin, a neurologist at Istanbul University and outspoken critic of Turkish creationism, estimates that the number of university-educated Turks who understand evolution has dropped to 20 percent from 40 percent over the past 15 years.

BAV, founded in 1990, grew from the Turkish fringe into a global media empire. Oktar claims to have 4.5 million followers worldwide, who read his hundreds of books and essays and have seen the dozens of television documentaries that BAV produces and provides free of charge to Turkish TV stations. BAV’s Web sites offer downloadable PowerPoint presentations and questions to challenge science teachers. The foundation organizes anti-evolution conferences and petitions and runs a telemarketing scheme to sell books by Harun Yahya (Oktar’s pen name), which are available globally in 29 languages. Only Oktar and his lieutenants seem to know where the money for all these initiatives comes from, and they’re not telling.

But the BAV does seem to be making quite a bit of progress. They also produce a free textbook. The Atlas of Creation had already been covered by the Templeton Foundation in November.

In February, news circulated that a large number of these anti-evolution textbooks were surfacing in France. Surfacing is perhaps the wrong word, they were being mailed to tens of thousands of schools and universities for consideration as alternative teaching materials.

Of course evolution wasn’t the old target. That evil-doer Darwin was the main target. The coverage at Yahoo cleverly points out the real point of the book.

The book features a photograph of the September 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center with the caption: “Those who perpetuate terror in the world are in fact Darwinists. Darwinism is the only philosophy that values and incites conflict.”

The theories of Charles Darwin are “the true source of terrorism,” it said.

The books sent by post from Germany and Turkey began arriving in French schools and universities about 10 days ago.

The French ministry of education was not amused. The connection I am making here is that some of those textbooks were mailed, not from Turkey, but from Germany.

Now, usually, all this Islamic creationist propaganda would just be grist for my evolutionist mill. That would be if I had not found a minor bit of information linking our Dr Babuna to another doctor I have discussed recently.

If the photos don’t lie, (and who knows they might be doctored in some weird Darwinist plot to overthrow the universe), it seems Dr. Babuna suffers from chronic lymphocytic leukemia or CLL. He has been treated in Seattle as well as the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Texas. Now the MDACC has been mentioned on Dr Esler’s blog before because Dr Esler is a haematologist – in Texas.

I seem to have fallen down the wrong rabbit hole this week.

Now. I don’t think this was just chance. How could all these things just happen?! Within one week! Blind chance? Think of the odds. Evolution? I don’t think so. Descent with modification?! Ha! Don’t make me laugh!

There is obviously a guiding hand here; an overarching design. I am definitely going to have to rethink the error of my ways. I need to make a decision; to finally take a stand.

What do I do this weekend – read the Bible, read the Koran or watch simply Twilight Zone episodes?

Still, my remaining psychic powers do give me one small bit of knowledge. Despite his involvement in denouncing evolution and his connections to Seattle, Texas, haematology and medicine in general, I know something else about Dr. Babuna.

I know the Discovery Institute won’t ever be inviting Dr Babuna to speak.

Because, despite all the things I have uncovered, they just don’t want to discover Allah.

Don’t Try This In Alabama

Some people just don’t understand America.

Some of those people are British.

And some work for the BBC.

In what can only be considered marginally more intelligent than strapping a rocket to your car shopping cart to make it go faster, the hosts of Top Gear, a BBC motor and car show, decided to have fun while on a trip through America.

It didn’t go very well.

The idea was simple. Buy 3 cars for $1000 or less and drive from Miami to New Orleans while having a spot of fun on the way. The joke was to have the hosts paint something on their opponents cars that would get them “either arrested or shot” while crossing Alabama. Unfortunately, the survival challenged BBC ‘journalists’ didn’t expect the residents to take them up on the offer.

While one would offend while driving a Firebird with the motto “Country and Western is Rubbish!” (how British) or a Cadillac proudly displaying “NASCAR Sucks” and “Hillary For President,” only the truly brain–dead would consider driving in the dead south in a white pickup proclaiming “MAN LOVE RULES OK” in large (proud) pink lettering.

Everything went well until they discovered that, in Alabama pride comes with prejudice; they own telephones; and your right to say something stops at the state border.

And people actually wonder how the British could loose the Revolution?

(Hat Tip: Kevin Barbeaux/TheHomelessGuy)

And You Thought Western Psychics Were Crazy

For some reason my web surfing has become mired in an amazing amount of anti-Semitic, anti-Zionist bile as well as the reactionary anti-anti-Semitic, anti-anti-Zionist propaganda lately. There is so much disinformation being thrown around right now, it is getting difficult to see the arboretum for the conifers.

But while trying to do research on Memri and the Palestinian Media Watch, I came across this gem.

Ick, Ick, Ick.

Even though I shouldn’t, I’ll just ignore the entire misogynic feeling in the clip. (Well not quite. The girl just had to be a virgin right? This needs to be really, really clear, right? The girl will grow up to do abominable things…hmmm. Then there was the male announcer interrupting the (admittedly very cute) female newsperson? And the fact that the hottie newsperson spent the entire clip trying desperately not to laugh out loud? And let’s be clear on this. She was hot but she also seemed to be the only intelligent, sane person in the room, OK?)

But the fact is, this isn’t all that much more silly than some of the things shown on western television. (Fox and alien autopsies anyone?) Sure different possessives – um – possessors for different folk. Islam has Djinns, Catholics – the devil, Ted Haggard – Homosexuality. All pretty much the same thing.

I’m just hoping one of Ted’s exorcists doesn’t start presenting the trophies he got in the last couple of months. Bleach.

A Cart Full of Sadness

Forget taxes; Iraq passé.

The most important problem in America today? Forlorn shopping carts!

At least that the feeling at the US Census Bureau,

We’ve all seen them and wondered how they got there — a supermarket shopping cart, sitting forlornly along a residential street, far from the nearest grocery store. Was it a prank, or someone who walked to the store and bought more than they could carry? Either way, this is Return Shopping Carts to the Supermarket Month — including milk crates and bread trays. The idea is for consumers to avoid the increased food prices that result when store owners have to replace stolen equipment. And supermarkets play a big role in everyday life. There are more than 6,600 supermarkets across the nation, selling $395 billion of groceries each year. You can find these and more facts about America from the U.S. Census Bureau on the Web at www.census.gov. [my emphasis, WTF! Who thinks these things up?]

So forget all those trickle down theories we learned during Reagonmics. Forget taxbreaks for the rich. All problems will be solved in America by returning those kidnapped shopping carts to the stores that sooo miss them.

Just to help this cause, I would recommend a Pixar film featuring a shopping cart forlornly trying to return to it’s home – the great Wal-Mart in the sky. Forlorn Shopping Cart would have to avoid cart enslaving homeless and thrill seeking drunken teenagers. It’s quest would be aided by a brave menu and a hotel towel. I am shedding tears as I type this.pfandschloss_l.jpg

Then you create something like an Amber alert system for missing shopping carts. APBs and cable news tickers.

Of course, simply adding a coin deposit lock to the shopping cart so people bring them back would be too Nazi anal retentive clever?

Stupid Europeans. Just don’t understand this American liberty thing.

(Hat Tip: Wonkette)

Don’t Eat the Snow

Both the BBC and the Guardian are reporting an occurrence of snow last week in Siberia.

Normally, that probably wouldn’t be news – except that the snow is smelly, oily and orange. From the coverage at the BBC,

Oily yellow and orange snowflakes fell over an area of more than 1,500sq km (570sq miles) in the Omsk region on Wednesday, Russian officials said.

Chemical tests were under way to determine the cause, they said.

Residents have been advised not to use the snow for household tasks or let animals graze on it.

“So far we cannot explain the snow, which is oily to the touch and has a pronounced rotten smell,” said Omsk environmental prosecutor Anton German, quoted by the Russian news agency Itar-Tass on Thursday.

While the BBC refuses to speculate on the source of the snow, the Guardian doesn’t have those kinds of qualms.

Russian scientists trying to solve the mystery faced a tricky problem. The region is home to so many polluting industries it was hard to identify which one might have been responsible. Could it have been the nuclear plant in nearby Mayak? Or the metallurgy and chemicals factory in Ust-Kamenogorsk? The region is next to north Kazakhstan, a vast area of steppe used by the Soviet Union to conduct its nuclear tests. Or might the rogue snow have been caused by fuel from the space rockets launched in Kazakhstan?

Yesterday environmental campaigners said that Russia had suffered decades of pollution – nuclear, industrial, and radioactive.

I have to admit yellow snow is pretty unusual,” said Vladimir Sliviak, the chairman of the Russian environmental group Ecodefence. “I can think of only two other cases in the last decade.

What is with the repeated hammering on a nuclear source for the contamination? Chemical contamination is bad enough, Am I alone in thinking Agent Orange? Wouldn’t that do for scare mongering?

Especially the sentence pointing to the nuclear, industrial and radioactive contamination. Being slow and an obvious lover of all things anti-environmental, I have to ask: what, exactly, is the difference between nuclear and radioactive contamination? Is that contamination with chemicals containing nuclei perhaps? Dust kicked up by a nuclear test 30 years ago only now settling back to the same spot? Inquiring minds want to know. *sigh*

Don’t take me wrong. This is a major, abet local, problem. I suspect things like this are also happening in China but we don’t find out about it very often (better censors). Unfortunately, this won’t have a long half-life in the minds of western observers and Russian investigative reporters will probably be – discouraged – from doing a follow-up.

I’ll be rechecking this story in a couple of week and let you know what I find.

I will make a predition though. I doubt I’ll find something about rogue nuclei planning a world takeover.

(Hat Tip: Michael Stickings/The Reaction)

When Viral Marketing Goes Wrong

Oops.

What do you get when you mix a terrorist plagued country, viral marketing schemes and a cartoon featuring anthropomorphic fast-food? Chaos!

Turner Broadcasting acknowledged late this afternoon that the suspicious objects that ignited fears of bombs across Boston today were magnetic lights that were part of an outdoor marketing campaign for an adult cartoon.
[…]
Today’s chaos began at 8:05 a.m. when an MBTA passenger noticed what was described as an object with wires and tubes stuck on a steel support girder underneath Interstate 93 about 12 to 15 feet above the bus depot at Sullivan Square Station in Charlestown.

Transit police Lieutenant Salvatore Venturelli said this morning that the object had some components consistent with an improvised explosive device such as an electronic circuit board, but he made it clear it was not a bomb.

At about 1 p.m., Boston police received reports of similar devices throughout the metropolitan area at locations that included the Longfellow and BU bridges and New England Medical Center.

Now, we all know that Ted Turner used to be married to Jane Fonda. Jane Fonda was at the Peace march on Saturday and went to Vietnam. Iraq is today’s Vietnam. Iraq is the frontline in the global war on terror. Therefore this WAS a plot to terrorise America and destroy life as we know it.

FrylockI won’t go into the fact that real terrorists don’t build bombs with flashing lights. Especially bombs featuring the face of oddly anti-Semitically named French Freedom Fries. We won’t go into the fact that Lieutenant Venturelli publicly told the world how to build bombs with things like circuit boards. (Why don’t you just blow up America yourself and save the terrorists the trouble, Lieutenant Surrender Monkey? There should be a law about state secrits!)

I won’t go into any of that, but I do feel it is my duty to point out the sadly obvious.

This bombed viral marketing campaign … worked perfectly.

Feeding PETA

Sure, like many, I enjoy the occasional Supermodel PETA no-fur-just-skin publicity stunt. But, although I have more hair on my legs than on my head and I have a weakness for grumpy-faced Land-Lobsters, I can’t stand People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals – the organisation. I’m sorry but I just can’t go there.Land Lobsters

PETA and their more extreme cohorts from the Animal Liberation Front (ALF) are now campaigning against Oregon researcher Charles Roselli. The story of misunderstanding leading to distortion leading to lies is being run in today’s New York Times.

Charles Roselli set out to discover what makes some sheep gay. Then the news media and the blogosphere got hold of the story.

Dr. Roselli, a researcher at the Oregon Health and Science University, has searched for the past five years for physiological factors that might explain why about 8 percent of rams seek sex exclusively with other rams instead of ewes. The goal, he says, is to understand the fundamental mechanisms of sexual orientation in sheep. Other researchers might some day build on his findings to seek ways to determine which rams are likeliest to breed, he said.

But since last fall, when People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals started a campaign against the research, it has drawn a torrent of outrage from animal rights activists, gay advocates and ordinary citizens around the world — all of it based, Dr. Roselli and colleagues say, on a bizarre misinterpretation of what the work is about.

The story of the gay sheep became a textbook example of the distortion and vituperation that can result when science meets the global news cycle.

Perhaps most vile is the article run in the British broadsheet, The Sunday Times, in December of last year. They spun the story not only to include gay sheep but mind control. In what can only seen as a very strange form of journalistic excess, the Sunday Times reporters imagined bizarre experiments on sheep brains.

The scientists have been able to pinpoint the mechanisms influencing the desires of “male-oriented” rams by studying their brains. The animals’ skulls are cut open and electronic sensors are attached to their brains.

By varying the hormone levels, mainly by injecting hormones into the brain, they have had “considerable success” in altering the rams’ sexuality, with some previously gay animals becoming attracted to ewes.

Likely the sheep were dead and the sensors were measuring something like hormone levels but that wasn’t important to the reporters at the Sunday Times. Properly packaged anything can be both true and false and sensational enough to sell papers.

Of course the Sunday Times isn’t the institution it used to be. It’s one of the cogs in Rupert Murdoch’s media machine.

Perhaps it’s worst journalistic faux pas was publishing the faked Hitler Diaries ‘discovered’ by the German magazine Stern in 1983. That episode also clearly pointed to the Murdoch philosophy. According to Robert Harris’s Selling Hitler, subscriptions to the Sunday Times rose by almost 50,000 during the early hype. After the fakes were exposed, subscriptions remained 20,000 above pre-hype levels. A win-win situation for Mr Murdoch. (Of course for some reason the Sunday Times never did a book review on the bestselling Selling Hitler. I wonder why?)

Murdoch realizes that sensationalism, true or false sells papers, books and ‘news’ channels. He isn’t concerned with moving information, he is concerned with moving money. And, he does a very good job.

While homosexual behavior in animals is well documented and even the religious right has toned down the “Crime Against Nature” hype in anti-gay rhetoric, the underlying cause for the seemingly anti-evolutionary behavior is still largely unclear. That is the reason people do research.

But there is a language barrier to be overcome. When a scientist talks about discovering the controls for homosexuality in sheep, it doesn’t mean he wants to control the sheep, he wants to understand the mechanism. The activist wants to see evil. The NYT article continues,

In an interview, Shalin Gala, a PETA representative working on the sheep campaign, said controlling or altering sexual orientation was a “natural implication” of the work of Dr. Roselli and his colleagues.

Mr. Gala, who asked that he be identified as openly gay, cited the news release for a 2004 paper in the journal Endocrinology that showed differences in brain structure between homosexual and heterosexual sheep.

The release quoted Dr. Roselli as saying that the research “also has broader implications for understanding the development and control of sexual motivation and mate selection across mammalian species, including humans.”

Mr. Newman, who wrote the release, said the word “control” was used in the scientific sense of understanding the body’s internal controls, not in the sense of trying to control sexual orientation.

So scientists are “naturally” trying to control Mr Gala. Note some fairly normal people think the government is naturally trying to control our minds, but that’s something for a different post…and wardrobe. People like PETA and ALF want to see evil everywhere. It is how they generate support; it is how they generate funding.

An excellent example of misplaced activism was the attack on a deer farm in Scotland last year when ALF tore down fences to free the enslaved herbivores. The herbivores were quite happy where they were, thank-you-very-much.

Fences were cut in four fields at Reediehill Deer Farm near Auchtermuchty and graffiti including “Scum” was spray-painted on the ground.

However, none of the 50 to 60 red deer tried to escape.

The farm, run by Fletchers of Auchtermuchty, is free-range and Nichola Fletcher, who owns it with her husband John, said the wrong people were targeted.

The couple pride themselves on their animal welfare practices, and Mrs Fletcher said, “These people have made up their minds without coming to find out about us.

“I would love to invite them for a cup of tea and explain to them what we are trying to do here.

Great. Tea with the enemy. Where are all the dynamite carrying owls when you need them?

Although there are many species that exhibit homosexual behavior, for me, I always think ‘lion’ when I think of non-human gays. (I am also not alone.) So maybe we should just bring these two things together, PETA and gay lions. Preferably in a cage.

So, here’s my solution, let’s feed PETA to the lions.

(And yes, this post was totally about reposting the NRA Animal Terrorist picture again.)

Whoa There Little Doggie

In other news, Speigel-Online (German) is reporting that the Segway has been banned in Holland.

The countries police have, until further notice, banned the use of the amazing vehicle on public streets.

The reason: the Segway doesn’t have any brakes. At least none that can be defined as brakes, the Segway is turned and accelerated by the rider shifting weight. In order to brake, you simply lean back. A moped, and that is how the Dutch law classified the Segway, has to have brakes. Until this dilemma is solved and the appropriate regulations changed, Segways, of which there are several hundred in the land of Tulips, may not be used. With the exception of course on private property. Like Amsterdam’s main airport Schiphol where the military police use Segways to patrol the concourses. [my translation]

I’d hate to think how they’d classify a jetpack

Grumpy Sea Lions – The Complete Exposé

The little, well probably not so little, sea lion who terrorized Aquatic Park officials visitors, nipping and herding swimmers out of the water and giving me my 15 minutes of Google fame for the phrase “grumpy sea lion bites” hasn’t resurfaced since I last wrote about him.

I, however, followed up on the story and in doing so apparently think like an editor at the AP who sent a reporter, Marcus Wohlsen, out to find out if our hero was still controlling the San Francisco waters in order to write a story about the dangers poised by our flippered friend. Mr Wohlsen seems to have uncovered a whole series of sea lion attacks; a plot perhaps; part of a great sea lion conspiracy to control the world.

Tourists flock to Fisherman’s Wharf for the seafood and the stunning views of San Francisco Bay, but for many visitors, the real stars are the dozens of playful, whiskered sea lions that lounge by the water’s edge, gulping down fish.

Now a series of sea-lion attacks on people in recent months has led experts to warn that the animals are not as cute and cuddly as they appear.

But thankfully scientists spokespeople call for calm.

“People should understand these animals are out there not to attack people or humans. But they’re out there to survive for themselves,” said Jim Oswald, a spokesman for the Marine Mammal Center across the Golden Gate Bridge from San Francisco.

OK. Maybe it’s not a conspiracy, but something fishy is going on here. What has caused this plethora of attacks; the bite-and-go attacks in November, a charge, bite and waddle in Manhattan Beach in June and a biting in Berkeley last spring? And who can forget the crowd of sea lion hooligans who briefly took over the Newport Beach marina last year? It’s etched indelibly into my brain, I’ll tell you that!

The causes? Social? Political? Some are claiming bio-chemical. Seals on weed if you will.

Humans could also be contributing to aggression in sea lions in another way: Toxic algae blooms fed by agricultural runoff and other pollution can lead to the poisoning of marine mammals by a chemical called domoic acid, which can cause brain damage. The Marine Mammal Center treated more than 200 sea lions for domoic acid poisoning last year.

Veterinarians at the center believe the brain damage caused by the poison could have led to the marauding animal’s erratic behavior in Aquatic Park, Oswald said, though they cannot be sure without actually examining the sea lion.

(Note: I’ll just leave the snark about treating sea lions for substance abuse for a later date when I address the issue of imprisonment for drug use. And what about the dealers? Let’s just ask – is this the kind of thing we want our children exposed to? Hmm, is it? WWBO’RS – What Would Bill O’Reily Shriek?)

Anyway, I am starting to see a pattern here and I’m fairly sure its not synaesthesia. I have I theory! It’s all part of a plan by Oswald Chesterfield Cobblepot better known as The Penguin! I haven’t figured out exactly what he is planning and the bat computer is on the fritz but I will keep you informed.

Just like the AP editors who send reporters out to do sea lion exposés.

Not The Best Place For His Crack

The Associated Press is reporting that a man was saved from an alligator attack. While rare this wouldn’t really be interesting. What makes the story blog-worthy is the fact that the attack happened in the middle of the night and the man was both naked and on crack.

Sheriff’s deputies pulled a naked man from the jaws of a nearly 12-foot long alligator that almost completely severed the man’s arm, the sheriff’s office said.

Four deputies waded through thick mud about 20 feet into Lake Parker to find Adrian Apgar, 45, around 4 a.m. Wednesday morning, the sheriff’s office said. They were responding to multiple reports about a man screaming for help.
[…]
It was not clear why Apgar was in the water at such an early hour. Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said Apgar told deputies he had been smoking crack.

The moral of the story, alligators are attracted to cracks on cranks on crack.

The Stuff That Poisoned That Spy In London

My national security and international relations blogs have been abuzz lately with the latest information about the Alexander Litvinenko poisoning. To be honest, I really haven’t been paying that much attention. A former spy and outspoken critic of the Moscow government get’s killed in a unique and spectacular fashion that could have been used in a James Bond novel? *yawn*

Don’t get me wrong. I do feel for this guy’s family and friends but I can’t get that worked up about international misdeeds at the level of one guy.

Sure, the Moscow government wanted him to keep quiet. Sure, Putin has taken the former Soviet Union back to the good old days of censored press, repression and Stalin. Sure, Russia has and is involved in a basically unreported war in Chechnya. Sure, this IS a unique, major international mea culpa, an ‘OOPs’ of the highest international magnitude. The British government will have to issue an official smack-down, Moscow will send out an official Sgt. Schultz (from Hogan’s Hero’s) to say ‘I know NOTTIG! Absolutely NOOOOTTIG!’ End of official story – let the conspiracy theories begin.

Thus, I wasn’t going to write anything about this. That was until the story took a really weird twist to the area of creationists, online nuclear internet dealings and UFO’s. Then the story became something I just can’t resist.

You see Kathryn Cramer, after doing a great explaination about Polonium (Po-210, the substance used to convey poor Mr. Litvinenko into the afterlife), first reported (actually passed on the information from the Guardian) that there might be connections to the illicit trade in nuclear materials. Then she spent last week looking into how to make Po-210. She’s looked at New Scientist, online reports about the Purification of Black Bismuth from Polonium and the possible use of a semiconductor plan to purify a sample using zone refining. She also found out that Polonium is really important to creationists. (Like I said this story has gotten weird.)

In the process she got rather disconcerted about all the hits to her blog about where to buy Polonium. (Will I start getting those now?)

Then Jane Vaynman, at ArmsControlWonk, went on to ask the vital question about “What’s Polonium-210 and where do I get some?” In addition to some of the information Kathryn covered she also quotes the Observer (UK) in saying

Such material, it is believed by experts, could only have come from the massive nuclear structures of the old Soviet Union where, during the collapse of the empire, security was often sacrificed. Polonium can only be gained from such reprocessing plants or equally complex nuclear research plants. You cannot buy this stuff from local criminals.

The rest of her post follows the ‘we know how, we know where, now all we need is a motive’ investigation. She starts down the long path of the many, many conspiracy theories that will grow and flourish on the Intertubes for the next weeks and years. I predict GW and The Big Dick will be implicated by December. Wanna bet?

But the person who gets my award for best investigative blogging is Noah Shachtman at DefenseTech. He is the one that found the absolute gem.

The radioactive material that killed a former Russian spy in Britain can be bought on the Internet for $69.

Polonium-210, which experts say is many times more deadly than cyanide, can be bought legally through United Nuclear Scientific Supplies, a mail-order company that sells through the Web, based in Sandia Park, N.M. Chemcial companies sell the Polonium-210 legally for industrial use, such as removing static electricity from machinery. United Nuclear claims that it’s “currently the only legal Alpha source available without a license.”

The type of Polonium-210 sold emits alpha radiation, which can’t penetrate the skin, but is deadly if swallowed, depending on the amount ingested. The Polonium available on United Nuclear’s site can be purchased without a license because the level of radioactivity, 0.1 microcurie, does not pose a danger, a spokesman for the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission said.

But United Nuclear has a story. I’ll just let Noah say it.

United Nuclear is run by Bob Lazar, who, some 20 years ago, claimed to have worked on alien spaceships on a secret military base in Nevada… [That’d be Area 51 –ed.]

So, in two weeks we go from James Bond, to creationism to UFOs. How cool is that!

Quicky: Nun Brokered Electro-Shock Batons

No I haven’t been watching really strange Internet pornos, just reading the New Statesman.

A few months ago I watched a 16-year-old schoolgirl, Ellie, from Oxford, phone a tank manufacturer in Romania. Ellie was part of a group of British students who formed their own arms company and ran it once a week at lunchtime. 

“I want to chat to someone about a tank,” she said. “What kind of tank?” asked an uncertain eastern European voice.

“A TR-85 M1.”

“You want a price?”

“Yes, that would be great.”

A month later and Ellie’s arms company was quoted a guide price of 2.5m for the tank (CD players and cup holders are extra).

I would have expected the CD players to be included but that’s probably just me. Thanks to NoahShachtman/ DefenseTech you too can enjoy the humorous side of arms dealing.

On the one hand, teenage arms dealing is probably better then a career in porn (or as a Congressional page). But on the other hand, while reading the article, I couldn’t help thinking that arms dealing seems to be a really easy way to make money…

Hmm… Do I know any nuns? 

Ferret Hammocks

I was going to point my German-speaking, ferret-owning readers to an online German pet store selling ferret hammocks.

Then I went over to the Ferret Store.

Never mind – just never mind.

Who would have thought there are so many kinds of ferret hammocks. The world is a weird place; but a good market for things snugly for ferrets.