Ren & Stimpy - Lawn Cigar

A frame from the banned Ren & Stimpy episode starring George Liquor (American).

lawn cigar

You can watch the whole episode on GUBA

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Clairvoyant Chickens in Ancient Rome

This Wikipedia article describes how the Romans used magic, psychic chickens to tell fortune. I wonder if they'd laugh as hard at modern religion/superstitions. Probably.

The Romans used chickens for oracles, both when flying ('ex avibus') and when feeding ('auspicium ex tripudiis'). The hen ('gallina') gave a favourable omen ('auspicium ratum'), when appearing from the left (Cic.,de Div. ii.26), like the crow and the owl.

For the oracle 'ex tripudiis' according to Cicero (Cic. de Div. ii.34), any bird could be used, but normally only chickens ('pulli') were consulted. The chickens were cared for by the pullarius, who [...] fed them a special kind of soft cake. If the chickens stayed in their cage, made noises, beat their wings or flew away, the omen was bad; if they ate greedily, the omen was good.

In 249 BC, the Roman general Publius Claudius Pulcher had his chickens thrown overboard when they refused to feed before the battle of Drepana, saying 'If they won't eat, perhaps they will drink.' He promptly lost the battle against the Carthaginians and 93 Roman ships were sunk. Back in Rome, he was tried for impiety and heavily fined.

So now you know. Next time you lose a sea battle, it's probably because you didn't have enough chickens along with you, or they weren't hungry enough.

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Olympus Mons

Olympus Mons

I'm a big fan of Google Earth, yet somehow managed not to know there are also maps of the moon and Mars. Shown here is the summit of Olympus Mons, a volcano the size of the state of Arizona. Biiiiiigass mountain. As far as we know, it's the largest in the solar system. Mars doesn't have tectonic plates, so areas of volcanic activity don't move around with time, and the mountains can get *real* huge. Ginormously huge. Wow.

Google Mars
Olympus Mons on Wikipedia

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Chalk Horse at Pewsey

Came across this on Google Earth and I think it's magnificent :-) Grid location 51 22' 20'' north, 1 50' 53'' west. Next time I'm in England, I'm going to organise some friends to have a picnic here.

Horse - Closer

It's name is the Alton Barnes White Horse. It was designed in 1812 by one 'Jack the Painter' who had been commissioned by the landowner of Alton Barnes Manor Farm. At Winter Solstice the Wiltshire Crop Circle Study Group light it with candles.

Horse - perspective

The circular dimply thing is a burial mound, ancient Celts built them on hilltops all over the south of England to honor chieftans and legendary badminton players. Or it might be something else, but that'd be less romantic.

More about the horse
Google Maps Link

Update: more horses

New Devizes Horse
Broad Hinton/Hackpen/Winterbourne Bassett
The Broad Town White Horse
Folkestone white horse, Kent

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Bubonic plague case in LA

From the Associated press:

LOS ANGELES, California -- A woman is in stable condition with bubonic plague, the first confirmed human case in Los Angeles County since 1984, health officials said Tuesday.

Los Angeles had the Black Death in 1984? I had no idea that diease still existed, I assumed it had gone the way of smallpox. Huh. In a related note, Alderney is reportedly the only place in Europe where one can still find plague rats - they were outcompeted by Rattus norvegicus and almost all populations in temperate latitudes have died out.

So.. we have a new item for 'Things to do in LA:', contract plague. Life is funny.

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Microsoft, Yahoo, potatoes and the NSA

According to CNN (article link), Microsoft and Yahoo are planning on building data storage centres outside of Quincy, Washington. By all accounts a charming little town with a potato based economy.

Quincy has cheap land, cheap hydroelectric power and nice industrial parks to build data centres in. There's easy access by highway 90 to nearby Ginko Petrified Forest State park, and - oh yes - the Yakima NSA facility.

Observe: une carte (google maps)


Aah, nothing says 'we value or customers privacy' quite like building gaint private data storage centres near to a giant govt data mining centre. What will Yahoo and M$ store in these centres? They're not saying:

'My understanding is their objective is to increase their capacity for the Internet, search engines,' Snead said. 'All I know is there's a lot of computers.'

Still unknown is whether those computers will hold consumer information, miles of code or backups for data stored on servers elsewhere. Gellos declined to provide further details, saying company officials were still finishing plans for the site.

Probably this is all just coincidence. We all know that big corporations don't help the NSA monitor internet traffic and VOIP calls like AT&T did, and the government's not even all that interested in online search engines. It's not like the Feds would sue Google for search data.

There's likely nothing to it. There's plenty of other stuff between Yakima and Quincy (rocks, bigger rocks, a road) so both the NSA and the search engines have good, independent reasons to build there. Unless... maybe, just maybe, something more sinister is afoot.

What if the NSA, using the combined research muscle of both Yahoo and Microsoft were developing a supercomputer. ... (dramatic pause) ... A supercomputer that ... (another dramatic pause) ... runs on potatoes! If that's the case then God help us. God help us all.

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Dictionary of Sex Terms

Goofy press has a brilliant, exhaustive dictionary of sexual terms. I'd have thought that being a barman and regular citizen of the net I'd have heard every sexual euphamism there was. I'd be wrong.

a young gay sailor.

term that nude sunbathers sometimes use for a person who wears a bathing suit; see 'textile.'

businesses where the bosses are men and the secretaries (oops! administrative assistants) are women.

term for an undesirable male who is trying to make a move on you; from a character in the movie sixteen candles, 'Oh crap, it's farmer ted'.

someone who looks hot from across the room, but starts looking less attractive with each approaching step.

manliest lion to ever live in captivity; once had intercourse more than 160 times in less than three days. died shortly thereafter.

place where there's lots of gay sex going on.

person who believes that she can turn a loser into a winner.


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Rusting Trawlers off Guinea has an article on their blog about a flotilla of decaying chinese trawlers rusting off the coast of West Africa. The boats are floating wrecks with the crews stranded on board, sometimes for years, with those that still run being used for illegal fishing.


The article focuses more on the crews and the companies responsible. Though the situation's tragic, I think the wrecks are just beautiful. I would love to go take pictures of these things. The color and textures are amazing.

Via BoingBoing

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Bigass Antarctic Iceberg

According to the NOAA this morning, a huge great chunk of ice has broken off the Fimbul Ice Sheet in Queen Maud Land. I know it sounds like I'm making these names up, but no: there is a place called Queen Maud Land. The souls of evil chidren spend dark, sunless winters there molesting the penguins.

It's a disturbing reminder of Kim Stanley Robinson's Mars series, when sea levels suddenly rise because an ice sheet breaks off Antarctica due (perhaps) to global warming, drifts into warmer water and melts.

(picture coutesy of the DMSC, click to enlarge)

Currently, D-16, which measures 15 nautical miles on its longest axis and 8 nautical miles on its widest axis, is located 69 22’ 48� South and 0 12’ 0� East.

Iceberg names are derived from the Antarctic quadrant where they are first sighted. When they are first observed, the National Ice Center documents an iceberg's point of origin. The iceberg is assigned the letter of the quadrant, along with the sequential number.

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Life of Satisfaction Expectation Ratio

Today on the Daily Show, Demitri Martin's Trendspotting looks at life coaches, what they do and whether you need one. At the end of the show he shares with us the only available tool to help you decide if life coaching is right for you, the Life Of Satisfaction Expectation index.

You can calcualte yours now using this form.


''You just take the age you were when you moved out of your parents house, multiply by the age at which you lost your virginity, plus the square root of your monthly income, divided by the number of cats you have plus one''

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12 Arguments Against Gay Marriage

From TruthCantSaveU's LiveJournal:

Twelve Reasons Gays Should Not Be Allowed to Get Married

1. Homosexuality is not natural, much like eyeglasses, polyester, and birth control.

2. Heterosexual marriages are valid because they produce children. Infertile couples and old people can't legally get married because the world needs more children.

3. Obviously, gay parents will raise gay children, since straight parents only raise straight children.

4. Straight marriage will be less meaningful if Gay marriage is allowed, since Britney Spears' 55-hour just-for-fun marriage was meaningful.

5. Heterosexual marriage has been around a long time and hasn't changed at all; women are property, blacks can't marry whites, and divorce is illegal.

6. Gay marriage should be decided by people, not the courts, because the majority-elected legislatures, not courts, have historically protected the rights of the minorities.

7. Gay marriage is not supported by religion. In a theocracy like ours, the values of one religion are imposed on the entire country. That's why we have only one religion in America.

8. Gay marriage will encourage people to be gay, in the same way that hanging around tall people will make you tall.

9. Legalizing gay marriage will open the door to all kinds of crazy behavior. People may even wish to marry their pets because a dog has legal standing and can sign a marriage contract.

10. Children can never succeed without a male and a female role model at home. That's why single parents are forbidden to raise children.

11. Gay marriage will change the foundation of society. Heterosexual marriage has been around for a long time, and we could never adapt to new social norms because we haven't adapted to things like cars or a longer lifespan.

12. Civil unions, providing most of the same benefits as marriage with a different name are better, because a ''separate but equal'' institution is always constitutional. Separate schools for African-Americans worked just as well as separate marriages for gays and lesbians will.

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Growers IP Review

The Councillor of the Exchequer has commanded a treasury-level review of the complicated mess that is the UK's intellectual property law, and you're invited to contribute. The Open Rights Group was asked to participate and have issued a call for evidence. If you have any war stories highlighting the failure of current system, please send them in.

my comments
Via BoingBoing

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about hacking's EyeScream has an excellent article about hacking. If you want to learn more about it NewOrder is a good place to get rid of the media/teenager image of what a hacker is and read a thing or two about creative use of computers.

Hacking Begins…
by EyeScream

You wanna know what a *hacker* is?

Switch off your TV. I know its hard. Its been nurturing you since childhood, taught you right from wrong and all the rest, huh?

Now I know the TV told you that a *hacker* is the cyber bogeyman, an evil genius that sleeps with his eyes open in front of his computer just waiting for YOU to turn on your computer and then WHAM! steal all that is precious to YOU and destroy the rest. He may even sell some of the things he got from you – the TV hadn’t decided yet. You’ve also heard the stories about those little boys and girls that went playing in the Dark Codewoods without their friend McAfee…

What if I told you that the TV is WRONG?

Are you alright? You look kinda pale and sweaty, do you want me to bring you your inhaler?

No, then I’ll continue.

There have been hackers since the dawn of civilization. Yes, I know there weren’t any computers at that time, but who said that hacking is to do with computers exclusively… I told you to switch off that TV didn’t I!

The term *hacker* was first coined at MIT in the 50s. As we nowadays use the term *cool* to describe something or someone, the term hacker was at that time designed to describe a person who enjoyed playing with things (computers being one of them), by taking them apart, learning as much as possible about their inner workings, making original modifications and thus improving their performance or even coming up with different purposes for use altogether. The mentality behind all of this was good ol’ fashioned … *fun*. The hackers *enjoyed* thinking about new applications for existing tools. For them it was a *game* that never stopped and could be applied to anything be it an object or a hole field of art such as Physics, Computers, Mechanics or Literature. Thus this universally applicable activity became known as *hacking*.

So how come the TV says…?

Back in the 80s young teenagers who were fascinated by computers discovered that there is another world out there, one you couldn’t really see or touch but which was populating fast with like-minded people. In this world you could meet others through Bulletin Board Systems (BBS) even if they lived thousands of miles away. It was all very exciting...


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Fun Timewasters: Google Video

Jazzz says:

Bush and Blair: Read My Lips
Holy Crap! (Colin Vincent are you watching)
Learn English...
Carlsberg Ad, Carmina Burana
Mac Bashing
Have you got a WKD side?
Egg Conveyor
M$ Redesigned iPod Package

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US Declaration of Independence Wallpaper

Declaration of Independence section

My current wallaper, a scanned section from the US Declaration of Independence. [click to enlarge]. I'm no apologist for the Bush administration (or Republicans on general), but I do admire the principles on which the country was founded and I'm a big fan of the US Constitution. Now if only more Americans would read it...

Scan is from the US National Archives website.

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Moonwalking Bird

dancing bird

Kickass little video clip and narration of a tropical bird doing a mating dance that involves moonwalking. Michael Jackson soundtrack. Enjoy. Link.

Shout to Jazzz for sending this in.

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Gratuitous Monkey Photo

Colubus Monkey 005

When the British first began to explore Africa, young monkeys were often captured and taken back on board the ship to entertain sailors. Some were later kept in zoos, many modern captive monkeys in the UK are descended from such Victorian era monkeys. In the Napoleonic Wars, the same practice is thought to have occurred. It is rumoured that one such monkey washed up ashore and, being mistaken for a Frenchman, was hanged in Hartlepool, England this caused the people of Hartlepool to be nicknamed the monkey hangers.

So there. Dont say I neva learned u nuthing. Wikipedia Link

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How do Porcupines Make Love

If I was a horny porcupine.... I guess I could invent some pretty tall tails about how two balls of poisonous spines go about making naughty ju-ju without painful damage occuring. I know know that if I was going to have sex with a porcupine... OK lets stop that train of thought. The reality turns out to be wierder anyway:

When the male encountered the female porcupine he smelled her all over, then reared up on his hind legs, his penis fully erect. If the female was not ready she ran away. If she is prepared for mating she also reared up and faced the male, belly-to-belly. In this position most males then sprayed the female with a strong stream of urine (In one case, urine was measured on the lab floor 6 foot 7 inches from the point of discharge), soaking her from head to foot. (Johnnie, a young male, would charge the female from this position, trying to wrestle her to the ground and make sexual contact ventrally. He was never successful.)

Read the whole story.

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Vintage WW2 Tampon Ads

vintage tampon ad

Duke University Library has an awesome collection of newspaper ads from the early 20th century. Not only are they an old-timey reminder of the culture that defeated the Nazis and gave us Daffy Duck, you can learn about tampons as well. Yay!


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Wikipedia Offline

Seems like the wikipedia's having a problem. Just when I was gearing up to do some scraping... bummer.

wikipedia offline

In lighter news, the classic search engine Altavista was recently hacked. I visited night before last and their portal page had been blanked and replaced with a single heading 'do you yahoo?'.

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