Thursday, February 25, 2010

Four Wisdoms for the Ages

Simon ben Zoma, a 2nd Century scholar, wrote:
Who is wise?  He who learns from all people
Who is strong?  He who conquers his evil inclination
Who is rich?  He who is satisfied with his lot
Who is honored?  He who honors others
   - Pirkei Avos [Ethics of the Fathers]
Centuries later, Benjamin Franklin wrote:
Who is wise?  He that learns from every One.
Who is powerful?  He that governs his Passions.
Who is rich?  He that is content.
Who is that?  Nobody.

   - Poor Richard's Almanack, 1755

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Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Abe Vigoda Has Not Been Dead for 89 Years

  February 24th. 
      Abe's birthday.


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Tuesday, February 23, 2010

And I thought the Hawaiian Pizza was an abomination.

Pizza In a Cone Rolls Out in Manhattan 

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Incendiary Blog Post template

from my friend John:

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Friday, February 19, 2010

Just doin' my part to help


I have a business proposal for Tiger Woods.

Currently he has his hands full, trying to juggle several sexy mistresses AND his golf game.
I can take some of this burden off his hands.
And since I can't golf, then...


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Thursday, February 18, 2010

"I always feel like... somebody's watching me..."

School used student laptop webcams to spy on them at school and home
By Cory Doctorow at 11:49 PM February 17, 2010
According to the filings in Blake J Robbins v Lower Merion School District (PA) et al, the laptops issued to high-school students in the well-heeled Philly suburb have webcams that can be covertly activated by the schools' administrators, who have used this facility to spy on students and even their families.
 The issue came to light when the Robbins's child was disciplined for "improper behavior in his home" and the Vice Principal used a photo taken by the webcam as evidence. The suit is a class action, brought on behalf of all students issued with these machines.
full @

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Wednesday, February 17, 2010

today's xkcd


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All The News That Fits What You Already Believe

news item: 

Reporter Laid Off for Belief in "Objective Reality"

Added to the list of reasons why journalists now lose their jobs: a belief in "objective reality."


Atlanta Progressive News senior reporter Jonathan Springston was let go last week after he failed to live up to the paper's standards, namely, by reporting on events based on facts.
In a statement issued to the Fresh Loaf blog, the APN explained that "[Springston] held on to the notion that there was an objective reality that could be reported objectively, despite the fact that that was not our editorial policy at Atlanta Progressive News."


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Tuesday, February 16, 2010

"Ignorance of your culture is not considered cool" - the Residents

An email prankster tricked the host of a Christian TV show into reading out the plots of 'The Fresh Prince of Bel Air' and 'Star Wars' in the belief they were stories of personal salvation.

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Saturday, February 13, 2010

Internet Rule #34 (in the manner of the Bayeux Tapestry)


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Fred Morrison, Creator of a Popular Flying Plate, Dies at 90

NY Times Obit:

Walter Fredrick Morrison, who at 17 sent the lid of a popcorn tin skimming through the air of a California backyard and as an adult remade the lid in plastic, in the process inventing the simple, elegant flying disc known today as the Frisbee, died Tuesday at his home in Monroe, Utah. He was 90.

Beloved of man and dog, the Frisbee has for more than half a century been the signature product of Wham-O, a toy and sporting-goods manufacturer based in Emeryville, Calif. The company has sold more than 200 million of the discs since acquiring the rights to Mr. Morrison's PlutoPlatter, as it was then known, in 1957.

Wham-O changed the name to Frisbee in 1958, influenced by the Frisbie Pie Company in Connecticut, whose tins Yale students hurled for sport.

[see attached picture from National Toy Museum in Rochester, NY]

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Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Winter 2010

Let's play I-Spy.

Somewhere in this picture are two cars.
Can you find them?

(it's a good thing I shoveled them out earlier in the day)

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That’s disgusting! … but very amusing:

 That's disgusting! … but very amusing  
"Despite the possibility of mixed feelings of disgust and amusement hardly anything is known about the relationship between these emotions."
Prompting researchers from Western Illinois University and the University of Toronto to investigate  – and in so doing constructing what maybe the only formal psychology study to have centred around the work of transgressive cult film-maker John Waters.
The experimenters showed a two-minute disgusting/humorous clip from Waters' 1972 film Pink Flamingos (an exercise in poor taste) to students "… attending a general psychology course at a large, public university in the Midwest United States" (possibly Western Illinois University?)

The clip highlighted lead character Devine engaging in behaviour featuring (an) extremely bad taste. In general, most of the students did report feeling simultaneously amused and disgusted – and further analysis of the results found that… 
"…in a situation that elicited both emotions, the intensity of disgust varied independently of the intensity of amusement."
The team point out that there is more work to be done however -
"Future research also needs to examine the generalisability of our findings to other examples of disgusting humour, especially ones that are less disgusting."
The  paper: 'That's disgusting! …, but very amusing: Mixed feelings of amusement and disgust'  was published in Cognition and Emotion, Volume 21, Number 5, August 2007 , pp. 1102-1113(12).

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Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Lab humor from xkcd

be sure to read the caption at the bottom of the cartoon

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Monday, February 08, 2010

This Day in History...

Feb 8, 1587: Mary Queen of  Scots was beheaded.

"I think she's dead."
     "... no I'm not..." 


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Friday, February 05, 2010

"Like a Who concert, only less orderly." -- Jim Caple, ESPN

We who live in Philadelphia have the high privilege and distinct honor of hosting some of the strangest celebrations:

* Groundhog Day
* The Mummer's Parade
* and The Wing Bowl.

The Wing Bowl, a chicken wing competitive eating contest, is held on the Friday before the Superbowl. At 5 o'clock in the morning, 20,000 fans cram into the Wachovia Center, and start drinking beer for breakfast. The Wing Bowl is broadcast live on WIP radio, complete with announcers giving the blow-by-blow with color commentary.

The 29 contestants have been chosen based on an eating stunt. Hank the Tank's eating stunt? Ate the contents of a vending machine in 24 minutes. Pot Pie the Sailor Man's eating stunt? The TGI Fridays desert menu.

Contestants enter on parade floats, accompanied by buxom "Wingettes" who often behave like it's Mardi Gras. As they parade around the arena, the crowd showers them with cheers, jeers and any objects that are handy.

The festivities open with the nation anthem, then the ceremonial eating of a single chicken wing which demonstrates the minimum amount of meat you have to eat to qualify a wing as "eaten."

Five contestants were eliminated during competition due to vomiting. The rule is, "You heave, you leave." Early in the action, one contestant showed signs of un-eating his wings, and the camera zoomed in on him. Twenty thousand people cheered as they watched it on the jumbo screen. Some contestants fake it, just to get on camera.

There are two 14 minute rounds, with a short break in between. As time runs out, many contestants strip or bite as much meat as possible and cram it into their mouths, so that their cleaned wing will count towards their total. Then they swallow their mouthful during the break.

After the first two rounds, the top few face-off for a 2-minute "Eat Off" to determine the winner.

And the Winner of WIP's Wing Bowl 18 is ...
Jonathan "Super" Squibb, a skinny 24-year-old from Winslow Township, N.J., who ate
238 wings in 30 minutes.

Star Wars Weather Forecaster

My friend Harry found this one:

Philadelphia is about to be hit with a big winter storm.

Of course, the TV weather forecasters are quite busy telling us what we can expect, but they never put it in terms that Star Wars fans can appreciate.

The Star Wars Weather Forecaster:

The forecast for Philadelpha, PA is:

Oh my. 1°C, Cloudy?
It's like Hothout there.
Cold, ice, freezing desolation.
You may have to climb inside a tauntaun for warmth

Enter the city of your choice into the search box.

Try the suggested cities under the box.

Also try "Mecca"

When you're done typing in real places, try something made up.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Breaking news from "Duh" Magazine:

New Study Proves Larger Portions Expand Waistlines

 Eating large food portions can significantly increase our weight even during short periods – researchers at the University of Ulster have discovered in the first ever study of its kind.
A team of nutritionist researchers, led by Professor Barbara Livingstone and Dr Mary Kelly from Ulster's Biomedical Sciences Research Institute, has carried out the first study [...], of how eating different portion sizes impacts on energy intake and body weight. And the results were dramatic: 
In just four days men eating three large meals a day piled on an extra kilo, while women weighed an extra half a kilo on the scales."

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If a new car built by my company leaves Chicago traveling west at 60 miles per hour, and the rear differential locks up, and the car crashes and burns with everyone trapped inside, does my company initiate a recall?
You take the population of vehicles in the field (A) and multiply it by the probable rate of failure (B), then multiply the result by the average cost of an out-of-court settlement (C).
A times B times C equals X. This is what it will cost if we don't initiate a recall.
If X is greater than the cost of a recall, we recall the cars and no one gets hurt.
If X is less than the cost of a recall, then we don't recall.

  -  "FIGHT CLUB" by Chuck Palahniuk


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Wednesday, February 03, 2010

How a zealot’s word led us astray on autism

MSN Tracking Image
How a zealot's word led us astray on autism
Opinion: Tiny, flawed vaccine study: a case study in biased medicine
By Arthur Caplan, Ph.D.
updated 12:49 p.m. ET, Wed., Feb. 3, 2010

A dozen years ago, a British physician named Dr. Andrew Wakefield published a paper in the prestigious medical journal The Lancet that did immeasurable harm to children.


Wakefield, who back in 1998 was working at London's Royal Free Hospital, claimed in the article that the vaccination of 12 children with measles/mumps/rubella (MMR) vaccine had caused a reaction in their bowels that caused autism. 


At a press conference shortly after the paper came out, Wakefield urged parents not to give their children the combination vaccine. 


The British press went crazy over the report. The word and the fear quickly spread around the world. 


Since the controversial paper was published, British parents abandoned the vaccine in droves, leading to a resurgence of measles. Vaccination rates for measles have never recovered, and there are outbreaks of the disease in the U.K. every year.


And across the globe, millions of parents who choose to follow their own doctors' advice and vaccinate their children have had to face the anxiety of an alleged link to a dread disease. 


All this despite the fact that no scientists were ever able to replicate Wakefield's findings.

Yesterday, The Lancet, after years of investigations, lawsuits, press complaints and accusations, took the unprecedented step of withdrawing this 12-year-old article as misleading and false.


Why did The Lancet finally act? Because the British board that licenses doctors recently concluded that Wakefield had "shown callous disregard" for the children in his study and had "abused his position of trust" in doing his research. In language I have almost never seen from a disciplinary body, the General Medical Council added that Wakefield acted "dishonestly," was "misleading" and "irresponsible" in the way he described the findings of his tiny study about the danger of MMR vaccine in The Lancet.


As it turns out, for the study Wakefield took blood samples from children at his son's birthday party, paying them 5 pounds each.


The language was probably not strong enough. The Wakefield paper killed children and left others deaf and disabled from preventable diseases as their parents, in an effort to avoid autism, left them unvaccinated.


Vaccination has always had its critics. Using needles to put things into children's bodies has always left some parents uneasy. And the epidemic of autism has left other parents searching for some cause, some agent, some substance that might be to blame. 


Vaccination became a prime suspect because it occurs so close to the time at which autism used to be first diagnosed. And Wakefield's paper was all the ammunition anti-vaccinators needed.


Wakefield's study was both tiny and flawed. Nearly all of his 13 other co-authors eventually bailed out on the article. Still, the press could not resist from spreading the scary news over and over again, even though no one could get the same findings as Wakefield did. And Wakefield himself, supported by a fanatical anti-vaccine lobby that to this day cannot let go of the vaccine-autism connection, continued to spread fear of vaccines right up to the time of his disciplinary hearing.


Some will try to portray Wakefield as a martyr, sacrificed for the profits pharmaceutical companies make from vaccines. But the profit from childhood vaccination has always been a very small part of Big Pharma's big profits. The companies still in the childhood vaccine business generally stay there from a sense of duty to the public health not greed.


Wakefield is no martyr. He is a scientist who would not give up on his theory no matter how much evidence accumulated that vaccines are not linked to autism. And that makes him guilty of letting his zealotry blind him to the harm avoiding effective vaccines did to many vulnerable children.


The bitter lessons of the decision to expunge the Wakefield paper from medical history are clear. No single, small study should ever be taken as the basis for a massive change in anyone's behavior when it comes to your health and that of your family. And the desire to find some reason, any reason, for the plague of autism should not blind us to the fact that the evidence clearly shows that vaccination is not the culprit.



Arthur Caplan is director of the Center for Bioethics at the University of Pennsylvania.

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Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Advert for 'reliable workers' banned as discrimination

News Item from UK Telegraph

The boss of a recruitment firm said she was told she could not place an advert for ''reliable workers'' because it discriminated against unreliable people.
Nicole Mamo, 48, wanted to post an advert for a £5.80-an-hour domestic cleaner on her local Jobcentre Plus website.
The text of the advert ended by stating that any applicants for the post ''must be very reliable and hard-working''.
But when Ms Mamo called the Jobcentre Plus in Thetford, Norfolk, the following day she was told that her advert would not be displayed instore.
A Jobcentre Plus worker claimed that the word ''reliable'' meant they could be sued for discriminating against unreliable workers.


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humor from The Onion

Science Channel Refuses To Dumb Down Science Any Further

 Frustrated by continued demands from viewers for more awesome and extreme programming, Science Channel president Clark Bunting told reporters Tuesday that his cable network was "completely incapable" of watering down science any further than it already had.

"Look, we've tried, we really have, but it's simply not possible to set the bar any lower," said a visibly exhausted Bunting, adding that he "could not in good conscience" make science any more mindless or insultingly juvenile. 

full @

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Monday, February 01, 2010

"Vigoda" is just another word for "Infinity"


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