What is lurking in that North Carolina sewer?

by twit

Finally!  The mystery has been solved.

The robot, “Plasmobot,” will be created using vegetative slime mold called plasmodium (Physarum polycephalum) that is commonly found in forests, gardens, and most damp places in the UK.

Horrible moving blob things were filmed awhile back by an apparent sewer colonoscopy, and the commentariat developed various  theories about the creatures in the video:  bryozoans, tubifex worms, or plasmodial slime mold.

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banksy! banksy! banksy!

by twit

“He’s got an attractive method of perking up a blank wall…”

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“did you really think you could eat that much garbage without any side effects?”

by lestro

One has to believe that the muscle fatigue is the LEAST of their problems.

In people with hypokalemia, a drop in blood potassium levels results in problems with vital muscle functions. Symptoms can range from mild weakness to serious paralysis, say Greek researchers who conducted a review of people who drank between two to nine liters of cola a day.

Two to nine liters? per day?

are you kidding me? did they expect there to be no side effects of that?

“We are consuming more soft drinks than ever before, and a number of health issues have already been identified including tooth problems, bone demineralization and the development of metabolic syndrome and diabetes,” and there’s increasing evidence that excessive cola consumption leads to hypokalemia, Dr. Moses Elisaf, of the University of Ioannina, said in the news release.

Eight years wasted

by lestro

Today, the president announced plans to change the mileage standards on American cars, increasing them 30 percent in the next eight years.

Which, I admit, is a lot.  It’s going to take some serious work.  But it will be worth it on many fronts.

Here’s what the pres said today:

And that’s why, in the next five years, we’re seeking to raise fuel-economy standards to an industry average of 35.5 miles per gallon in 2016, an increase of more than eight miles per gallon per vehicle.  That’s an unprecedented change, exceeding the demands of Congress and meeting the most stringent requirements sought by many of the environmental advocates represented here today.

As a result, we will save 1.8 billion barrels of oil over the lifetime of the vehicles sold in the next five years.  Just to give you a sense of magnitude, that’s more oil than we imported last year from Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, Libya, and Nigeria combined.  (Applause.)  Here’s another way of looking at it:  This is the projected equivalent of taking 58 million cars off the road for an entire year.

That got me to thinking: that’s a whole lot of foreign oil we would no longer be dependent on. And the sooner we start, the more we save. And it’s not only as individual consumers when our cars go further on the same amount of gas (for you American car owners, ask a foreign car owner what that’s like…), but also as a nation when we reduce our dependency on foreign oil, and maybe we can stop wasting so much blood and treasure fighting over sand dunes that happen to have oil deposits below them.

It got me to thinking about how this administration actually doing something about it. That’s a tremendous change from any prior administration since Jimmy Carter, who was laughed at for telling us to conserve energy (and wearing the sweater) and invested heavily in alternate energy until Reagan and his oil money knocked the whole thing down, setting us back about 28 years.

Within 130 days of taking office, Obama actually set new standards, which will work to reduce our dependence on foreign oil.

Bush never did that, despite talking about it until his fool head nearly fell off.

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There’s got to be a better way

by lestro

From the Seattle PI on May 14, 2009:

The nation’s new drug czar looks like he has no interest in being the commanding general of a war on drugs.

Gil Kerlikowske, Seattle’s former police chief, says in an interview with The Wall Street Journal that he wants to end using the phrase “war on drugs.”

“Regardless of how you try to explain to people it’s a ‘war on drugs’ or a ‘war on a product,’ people see a war as a war on them,” Kerlikowske said in his first interview since being confirmed for the federal post. “We’re not at war with people in this country.”

Damn right.

We are never going to “defeat” drugs and Kerlikowske is right about it being a war on the American people. We should change our language to reflect that we are trying to reduce abuse and help those locked in a cycle of addiction.

I don’t know what that word is, but I am 100 percent sure it is NOT “war”…

Swine Flu! Swine Flu! Swine Flu!

by twit

Finally, some good-sounding news from the Associated Press on May 1, 2009:

CDC flu chief Nancy Cox said the good news is “we do not see the markers for virulence that were seen in the 1918 virus.” Nor does swine flu virus have the virulence traits found in the H5N1 strain of bird flu seen in recent years in Asia and other parts of the world, she said.

However:

It’s too soon to draw any definitive conclusions about what this variation of the H1N1 virus will do. Experts say the only wise course is to prepare for the worst.

this pandemic needs some theme music:

and a handy site to answer the question “Do I have Swine Flu?

We are America! We do not fucking torture!

by twit

With thanks to the Daily What, and by way of FOX News:

it’s about thirty seconds in…

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How the world is here and other morning cartoons

by twit

Neither have you tasted my Jesus:

via the daily what:

Girl uploads pro-creationist rant to YouTube. Guy finds her rant and superimposes explodingdog-like drawings to illustrate her talking points.

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Hey Paul Krugman, where the hell are you man?

by twit

Krugman recently wrote for the New York Times that “the zombie ideas have won,” which is unsettling, to say the least, considering he is talking about the Obama Administration’s plan to stabilize our economy.

Which brings us to the delightful way that our internets can manage to push the issue:

currently at #16 on the viral video chart

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… in just six amazing steps!

by twit

Be Amazing!

via the Viral Video Chart

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Biomusicology, indeed

by twit

Ted Leo and the Pharmacists:

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lie lie lie half-truth distortion distortion lie lie lie…

by lestro

Notice Gov. Bobby Jindal not answer the question at all:

I live in a volatile seismic area and was troubled by your comment that funding volcano-monitoring is “wasteful.” What makes some spending superfluous? Caitlin Kidder, KENT, WASH.

I listed several examples. It wasn’t just volcano-monitoring. It was $300 million in new cars, a billion dollars for the Census–the list goes on and on. Here’s my point: Why were they in a temporary, targeted stimulus bill? Somebody’s going to have to explain to me how these items were critical to saving our economy.

let’s go back and review that part of his speech, shall we?

While some of the projects in the bill make sense, their legislation is larded with wasteful spending. It includes $300 million to buy new cars for the government, $8 billion for high-speed rail projects, such as a “magnetic levitation” line from Las Vegas to Disneyland, and $140 million for something called “volcano monitoring.”

“something called”? like he’s never heard of a volcano?

it’s obscene, as Jon Stewart pointed out, that a guy whose state got the biggest natural disaster ass-whipping in our nation’s history would so purposefully minimize and belittle another area trying to protect itself from a similar happening.

Just because the Republicans – yes, you too Bobby – didn’t pay any attention at all to the three days worth of warning signs about a Category 5 hurricane bearing down on New Orleans doesn’t mean that some of us wouldn’t like a bit of warning if, say, the top of a mountain were to blow off covering a region more heavily populated than New Orleans with 500 feet of mud, rock and lava.

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Rush Limbaugh is a corpulent dickbag liar

by lestro

I finally got around to watching Rush Limbaugh’s speech from the CPAC conference and I think it demonstrates almost exactly why people do not trust Republicans: We get to actually watch him lie and then fuck up the very thing he claims to “love and revere.”

And they applaud him for it. They actually applaud his ignorance and distortions. Ridiculous.

From Rush Limbaugh’s speech to CPAC on February 28, 2009:

Also, for those of you in the Drive-By Media watching, I have not needed a teleprompter for anything I’ve said. [Cheers and Applause ] And nor do any of us need a teleprompter, because our beliefs are not the result of calculations and contrivances. Our beliefs are not the result of a deranged psychology. Our beliefs are our core. Our beliefs are our hearts. We don’t have to make notes about what we believe. We don’t have to write down, oh do I believe it do I believe that we can tell people what we believe off the top of our heads and we can do it with passion and we can do it with clarity, and we can do it persuasively. Some of us just haven’t had the inspiration or motivation to do so in a number of years, but that’s about to change. [Cheers and Applause]

In the C-Span video, you can see that he, uh, has notes. There is no doubt he is doing a lot of riffing, but then again, his job is to bloviate every day for five hours (the guy can talk), but the fact is he brought out notes.

And he should have used them because he says that “conservatives” are people who “love and revere” our founding documents, and then he says “conservatives” believe that the preamble to the Constitution contains the inarguable truth that we are all endowed by our creator with certain unalienable rights.

But it does not.  Not at all.  The Declaration does, because it is a statement of philosophy, but the preamble to the Constitution – the document designed to build a government to protect said rights – most assuredly does NOT contain that inarguable truth.  I don’t care what he and the conservatives believe.

Rush:

We want every American to be the best he or she chooses to be. We recognize that we are all individuals. We love and revere our founding documents, the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence. [Applause] We believe that the preamble to the Constitution contains an inarguable truth that we are all endowed by our creator with certain inalienable rights, among them life. [Applause] Liberty, Freedom. [Applause] And the pursuit of happiness. [Applause] Those of you watching at home may wonder why this is being applauded. We conservatives think all three are under assault. [Applause] Thank you. Thank you.

Preamble:

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

I’m just saying, maybe the reason people think Rush and the “conservatives” are full of shit is because he says he loves and reveres our founding documents, but hasn’t even studied them enough to tell them apart?

come fucking on.

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The zombie GOP

by twit

comes out to play at CPAC:

“We’re alive,” Rep. Michele Bachmann (MN), who emceed the evening session, said. “We’re not going anywhere. Remember this is ground zero for the conservative movement.”

RNC Chairman Michael Steele competes with Bachmann to see who can make the most cringe-worthy statements:

“Tonight, we tell America: we know the past, we know we did wrong. My bad. But we go forward in appreciation of the values that brought us to this point.”

according to CNN, Rep. Michelle Bachmann (yes, that Michelle Bachmann) wins:

As he concluded his remarks, Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann — the event’s moderator — told Steele he was “da man.”

“Michael Steele! You be da man! You be da man,” she said.

although an alleged “you be da man” video is inconclusive at best

So perhaps Steele wins this round, considering the video shows him ending his speech with “Let’s get busy…  Let’s get out there and fight for those things that we believe in,” which considering the retch-inducing manner that Steele recently invoked a hip-hop costume for the ‘new GOP,’ it is quite the cringe-worthy double entendre to make…

but that was at the end of the day!

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Darwin wins again

by twit

Barreleye1-350

via Discovery News

update! now on video:

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morning cartoons of insanity

by twit

“The Crisis of Credit Visualized”

via mefi

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It’s a turn-around jump shot

by twit

It’s everybody jump start

The Obama administration reversed years of U.S. policy Monday by calling for a treaty to cut mercury pollution, which it described as the world’s gravest chemical problem.

It’s every generation throws a hero up the pop charts

The statement represented a “180-degree turnaround” from policy under the Bush administration, said Michael Bender, co-coordinator of the Zero Mercury Working Group, a global coalition of 75 environmental organizations working to reduce mercury exposure.

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It’s raining flaming debris

by twit

in Texas:

The Federal Aviation Administration has received numerous reports of falling debris across Texas, which could be related to a recent satellite collision.

Some of the callers around midmorning Sunday reported what looked like a fireball in the sky.

FAA spokesman Roland Herwig said officials suspect the debris could be related to the collision, but he said that had not been confirmed.

but not to worry!

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Still waiting for their thumbs

by lestro

I no longer wonder why the rest of the world laughs at us or why we cant seem to make any headway in science and math when compared with the rest of the world.  From Gallup today:

It has been a testable theory for 150 years and not a single experiment has ever contradicted the basic principles of Darwin’s theory, despite him predating DNA and genetics, which has only gone on to confirm Darwin’s theory.

I know this because I watched Nova last night, which was all about the Dover School Board trial in which a federal judge (appointed by president Bush) ruled that “intelligent design” was NOT science and had absolutely no right in a school, especially a science class.

During the case, they proved that the not only is intelligent design not science, it is literally re-packaged creationism. They did this through researching the popular ID text book “Of Pandas and People” and found old drafts in which the authors literally replaced the word “creationism” with “intelligent design” in their definition following a court case saying creationism can’t be taught in schools.

It was a fascinating episode. You can watch the whole thing here. It is two hours, but it really, really lays out the case for not only what constitutes science, but why Darwin’s theories not only hold up but are stronger now than when he proposed them.  It also details how creationists tried to manipulate the national argument (and on this, some might say, they appear to be winning).

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Don’t Stop Believing

by twit

This weekend I was insisting that we’d see gay marriage legalized, and sooner rather than later.  After all, it is no longer illegal to be gay in America.  And then I saw this video, which only makes me more sure that equality is on its way.

Even if the military manages to get this video taken down.  This is a postcard from the internets letting us know that our culture is undergoing some kind of a shift.

and they really look like they’re having fun, too.  GO ARMY!

update:  From the New York Times on February 8, 2009:

Last year the principal architects of “don’t ask, don’t tell,” former Gen. Colin Powell and former Senator Sam Nunn, said it was time to “review” the policy.

That’s a polite way of saying they’ve changed their minds.

fun with evolution

by twit

although this video styles itself as a history of the internet…

The First Dance

by twit

of a new era:

Speak slowly!

by twit

Sarah Palin is trying to listen!

From the Editor’s Blog of the Anchorage Daily News on January 12, 2009:

Gov. Palin’s press office claims that she has pointed out errors in Daily News coverage that we have refused to correct. The only such complaints of which I’m aware are below, in an email from Gov. Palin to the publisher and me.

I posted a portion of these two emails last week in a naïve effort to explain that the newspaper never took seriously the conspiracy theory that the governor did not give birth to her son Trig, but that recently we had made an effort to document his birth in pursuit of a story about why the Trig rumors, while baseless, are apparently so widespread and persistent.

The earlier post sent a number of adn.com readers off the deep end, including some websites and bloggers who denounced the paper for our “anti-Palin story.” I had to chalk that up to a reading comprehension problem, since no story was ever published.

Some readers seemed wildly offended that we would dare to ask questions about Trig’s birth, even if our assumption was that the answers might finally put the conspiracy theory to rest.

and from CNN on January 13, 2009:

“Bored, anonymous, pathetic bloggers who lie annoy me…  I’ll tell you, yesterday the Anchorage Daily News, they called again to ask — double-, triple-, quadruple-check — who is Trig’s real mom,” she said, in an interview to be published in [Esquire] magazine’s March issue.

“And I said, Come on, are you kidding me? We’re gonna answer this? Do you not believe me or my doctor? And they said, No, it’s been quite cryptic the way that my son’s birth has been discussed. And I thought, Okay, more indication of continued problems in the world of journalism.”

don’t worry, Sarah, your number one fan is out there trying to fix journalism:

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Joe the travesty

by twit

hey Joe, what did you learn today?

partial transcript via Think Progress:

I’ll be honest with you. I don’t think journalists should be anywhere allowed war. I mean, you guys report where our troops are at. You report what’s happening day to day. You make a big deal out of it. I think it’s asinine. You know, I liked back in World War I and World War II when you’d go to the theater and you’d see your troops on, you know, the screen and everyone would be real excited and happy for’em. Now everyone’s got an opinion and wants to downer–and down soldiers. You know, American soldiers or Israeli soldiers.

I think media should be abolished from, uh, you know, reporting. You know, war is hell. And if you’re gonna sit there and say, “Well look at this atrocity,” well you don’t know the whole story behind it half the time, so I think the media should have no business in it.

and confidential to Joe: we support our troops here.

This is what you get

by lestro

When you elect terrorists to run your ‘country.’

The question is no longer whose fault this is. The answer is very obviously Hamas.

Dr. Awni al-Jaru, 37, a surgeon at the hospital, rushed in from his home in the Toufah neighborhood in Gaza City dressed in his scrubs. But he came not to work. His head was bleeding, and his daughter’s jaw was broken.

He said Hamas militants next to his apartment building had fired mortar and rocket rounds. Israel fired back with enormous force, and his apartment was hit. His wife, Albina, originally from Ukraine, and his 1-year-old son were killed.

The story is about ordinary people being caught between the idiot terrorists and the crushing force of the Israeli army. It sucks, but what can you do?

Within minutes, another car pulled up with four more patients.

One was a 21-year-old man with shrapnel in his left leg who demanded quick treatment. He turned out to be a militant with Islamic Jihad. He was smiling a big smile.

“Hurry, I must get back so I can keep fighting,” he told the doctors and anyone else who would listen.

He was told that there were more serious cases than his and that he needed to wait his turn. But he insisted. “We are fighting the Israelis,” he said. “When we fire we run, but they hit back so fast. We run into the houses to get away.” He continued smiling.

“Why are you so happy?” someone asked. “Look around you. Don’t you see the misery that you are helping to cause?”

His answer?

“But I am from the people, too,” he said, his smile incandescent. “They lost their loved ones as martyrs. They should be happy. I want to be a martyr, too.”

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an awful strong Southern accent

by twit

For a New Yorker, Terry McAuliffe sure does have an awful strong southern accent

at least at the beginning of the video announcing his campaign for governor of Virginia…

From the Associated Press on January 4, 2009:

“A native of upstate New York, McAuliffe has lived in Virginia for about 17 years. He lives in the Washington, D.C., suburb of McLean.”

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postcards from the internets

by twit

It’s very cold tonight, so we played with bubbles.  If you blow them upwards enough they have time to freeze on the way down.

and here is a link to a picture of a popping frozen bubble and other frozen bubbles.

via neatorama

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The Year Anything Was Possible

by lestro

To me, 2008 was The Year Anything Was Possible. I remember the moment it dawned on me. I had been thinking it all year long, but at about 8:27 p.m. (pacific) or so Oct. 29, I realized without a doubt that in 2008 the rules were being re-written and Anything Really Was Possible.

It had been a year of Believing and Hoping and doing the math over and over, but that night, I knew.

By the end of 2007 it seemed as though there was real potential on so many fronts. And as 2008 dawned, the depression and gray cloud that had hung over the US since the USSC handed Bush the White House finally began to peel back.

The end was finally in sight. His time was over. There really was light at the end of this tunnel. We only had to make it through 12 more months, 12 months in which we would see his influence wane as the next presidency began to take shape right before our eyes. On January 1, that still seemed like either Hillary Clinton (most likely) or Rudy Giuliani (equally as likely, really).

But just three days later, the rest of the country caught up to what many of us saw: a new candidate, who not only talked about change but actually, himself, seemed to represent the very shift this country needed – away from the bickering, away from the personal politics, away from the Boomers.

When, on January 3, Barack Obama, a half-black intellectual with a funny name shocked just about every pundit in the country by thrashing both Hillary and John Edwards in the Iowa Caucuses, the buzz began to build: this guy is different.  This guy could actually do it. Was it really possible?

On the Republican side, John McCain, the one-time Maverick who stood up to the establishment in 2000 and gave George W. Bush all he could handle in the primary (before Bush’s people [allegedly] started planting ugly rumors in South Carolina about Mac’s adopted orphan daughter and knocked the real war hero and bipartisan right off the map) was lagging. But thanks to Rudy’s ridiculous and ultimately suicidal decision to entirely forgo the first two contests, there was no clear leader, allowing smiley unknown Arkansas Conservative Mike Huckabee to sneak in and eke out a victory amongst the corn. Anything was Possible.

A few days later, Hillary came roaring back in New Hampshire, a state that was leaning heavily in Obama’s favor until he picked up the victory in Iowa – Anything Was Possible – and Johnny Mac once again found his name at the top of the pile and the buzz began to once again build behind the former war hero who at one time spoke his mind but had since become a Bush apologist. After being all but left for the wolves in late 2007, Mac was once again the guy to beat, especially after Rudy – whose decision to skip NH and IA meant no one had heard a peep from him in the media for weeks – finally folded like an off-suit 7-2 after Florida. Anything was Possible.

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Theme music for an asteroid impact

by twit

oh Discovery Channel, the things you say:

video via The Viral Video Chart

A Very Ramones Christmas

 by lestro

It’s a little late in the day, but it is still Christmas. And it’s not like there’s ever a bad time for the Ramones…

A Wish For Wings That Work

by lestro

Well, today is Christmas Eve.

Or, if you are a non-Christian, today is Wednesday.

Either way, I love the Christmas season.  I am non-religious, but love that all major and most minor religions celebrate some kind of holiday during this time. Solstice, Ramadan, Hanukkah and Christmas all roll into one big holiday season.

But I love the season. I love the vibe and I love the whole Peace On Earth Goodwill Toward Men thing. Which I think is great advice and a wonderful thought, no matter which god you believe in or don’t.

And I love the specials. The cartoons, movies and other holiday programming help give this whole season a festive feel. But because I am non-religious, I am more of a “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” guy than a “Charlie Brown Christmas” type.  In the former, there’s no mention of why the Whos are celebrating, just that they are, whereas in Charlie Brown, Linus gives his Reason For the Season soliloquy straight out of Luke.

But my favorite Christmas special is “A Wish For Wings That Work,” starring Bill the Cat and Opus. Based around characters from Berkeley Breathed’s Bloom County and Outland comics, the special was made in 1991 and ran that year and maybe the one after that before being yanked from the network holiday canon.

But that doesn’t stop me from taking the time to watch it every year.

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“Ho Ho Ho! Death to the surveillance state!”

by twit

The Associated Press reports on December 23, 2008:

A YouTube video posted Monday shows four people dressed as Kris Kringle, white beards and red hats included, covering three speed and red light enforcement cameras in Tempe.

and in related news, via Slashdot:

High school students in Maryland are using speed cameras to get back at their perceived enemies, and even teachers. The students duplicate the victim’s license plate on glossy paper using a laser printer, tape it over their own plate, then speed past a newly installed speed camera. The victim gets a $40 ticket in the mail days later, without any humans ever having been involved in the ticketing process.

Ho-Ho-Ho-Horrors!  State and local governments might actually have to provide adequate notice and a meaningful opportunity for a hearing!  Just like the 14th amendment says!

Dap for Santa

by twit

via Wonkette:

Merry Terrormorrisms!

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This is a cute hippo

by twit

via Wired:

especially when it is going to bed in its pink sleeping bag.

It is true that hippos are ferocious and dangerous creatures, but this hippo has never ever been aggressive! (says the journalist stuffing apple slices into the hippo’s “happy” grin as fast as she can…)

while we are waiting…

by twit

The Blue Ribbon Glee Club performs “Waiting Room” by Fugazi:

circuitously via Your Daily Awesome