Don’t Tase Me Tom Swift

Tasers are consistently in the news as the power hungry bully asshole police officer‘s best friend. Just in the past couple days cops managed to taser a autistic boy and tase a child at a day care leading to the use of tasers being questioned all around. Where did this word “taser” come from? It’s a homage to fictional character Tom Swift, an ambitious lad who goes on over 100 adventures in a series of books. One of the more famous works by “Victor Appleton” (actually a pseudonym for a collection of numerous authors) is Tom Swift and his Electric Rifle— Or TASER. The official acronym of the device patented as “Thomas A Swift’s Electric Rifle.” Thank you, Tom Swift. A generation of cops that are dicks thank you.

Ted The Caver

Ted the Caver. It’s the story of a caver who comes across something terrifying on an spelunking adventure. The story unfolds on a website done in the early 2000’s (its even on Angelfire!) almost like if the Blair Witch Project was a website and not a movie. Ending with a 404 error with a promise of more information is brilliant. Turns out the story originally by Thomas Lera in 1987 (but is set in the early 2000’s) who pens horror and sci-fi stories on the the name “John Rowlands.” Lera is very interested in caves and speleophilately or the study of caves on stamps, covers, and cancelations. Yes, some people’s interests are more specific than yours. I found the PDF of the original short story “The Fear of Darkness” on my computer and its a good read if you enjoy the Ted the Caver site. There’s something though about the interactivity […]

The Forbidden Secrets of Mark Twain

Mark Twain had his nut together, as the feller says.  In perhaps the classiest move in the realm of tell-all books, Twain added a stipulation to his reputedly vitriolic autobiography for a hundred year delay in publication, saving all but perhaps the youngest of targets of his invective the embarrassment of still being alive. This year that century is finally over.  No longer shall Twain’s crankiest gripes be denied us.  The manuscript is still being polished, at the moment, giving us a golden window of irresponsible speculation as to the contents. DOES IT… reveal Twain as the true lyricist of “Hey Man Nice Shot“, originally a scandalous tribute to Leon Czolgosz, assassin of William McKinley? uncover lost secrets of mustache maintenance, long since outlawed? (hint: spare the placenta, spoil the ‘stache) sketch out an unpublished novel that served as inspiration for Jurassic Park, entitled A Connecticut Yankee in a G_____n […]

Possible reason for Homo floresiensis (“Hobbit”) extinction

Remember the small species of humans Homo floresiensis (dubbed “Hobbits” by the media) discovered on the island of Flores in Indonesia in 2003? This possible species existed with modern man from 93,000 to 13,000. Interestingly, the natives had legends of small people in the jungle… Dr. H.J.M. (Hanneke) Meijer has some interesting comparisons between the estimated size of the short-statured, long-armed, and large-footed cousin of ours Homo floresiensis and aviary fauna. That bird at 1.8m look like it could eat 1.0m. Never underestimate man’s capacity to kill– even if he is a Hobbit. These might have been the delicacy of Homo floresiensis or even their only food source. According to this research the island of Flores in Indonesia (despite popular misconceptions from documentaries movies by Peter Jackson, hobbits are not from New Zealand) was for a period an oasis just 4,000 years ago. There was fresh water and if there’s […]

Kevin Costner Saves the Gulf Coast from Oil Spill, The Movie

From the LA Times article “Kevin Costner may hold key to oil spill cleanup“: The “Kevin Costner solution” to the worsening oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico may actually work, and none too soon for the president of Plaquemines Parish. Wow. I had no idea Kevin Costner held the key to anything, let alone solving an environmental disaster. Or that the abysmal movie Waterworld might save the world. I couldn’t stop myself from firing up Photoshop to make the movie poster for this affair.

We’re Number One: Pee Your Way to Carbon Neutrality

Remember when I sang the praises of ass-powered electrical generation?  Yeah, well, that’s just the half of the juice you’re flushing away.  Or drinking as part of a bizarre training regimen.  Gerardine Botte of Ohio University has been working on a method of pulling hydrogen out of urine for future fuel cells and Hindenburgs. Tell ’em Chemistry World: Botte says the idea came to her several years ago at a conference on fuel cells, where they were discussing how to turn clean water into clean power. ‘I wondered how we could do this better,’ she adds – so started looking at waste streams as a better source of molecules from which to produce hydrogen. Urine’s major constituent is urea, which incorporates four hydrogen atoms per molecule – importantly, less tightly bonded than the hydrogen atoms in water molecules. Botte used electrolysis to break the molecule apart, developing an inexpensive new nickel-based electrode […]

My Reignited Theremin Obsession

Game Reviews – E3 2010 – It’s #&*%ing Science! Just had my theremin lust reignited by this 3 minute history/build video from G4’s Attack of the Show, via Create Digital Music.  Oh man.  I’ve been planning to build one of these since a random reference on the Slanky-L* to a theremin sample sent me off in search of just what this weird musical instrument could do. Turns out the history is just as fascinating as the ghost sound machine’s electronic guts.  Here’s an excerpt from the first interview with the Theremin’s inventor, Leon Theremin, after he first emerged from the U.S.S.R. after 51 years of state arrest: Mattis: When did you first conceive of your instrument? Theremin: The idea first came to me right after our Revolution, at the beginning of the Bolshevik state. I wanted to invent some kind of an instrument that would not operate mechanically, as does […]

Eating Dog in Microgravity

What do you want to bet that when astronauts, cosmonauts, taikonauts and the rest get together and shoot the bull, the question comes up: “What’s the weirdest thing you’ve eaten in space?” Chinese space pilot Yang Liwei has a pretty good trump card for that: the menu on the 2003 Shenzhou Five mission included dog.  Y’know, for stamina. The Telegraph reports: A local proverb in the south of China is that “Huajiang dog is better for you than ginseng”, referring to the medicinal root that plays a vital role in traditional Chinese medicine. He added that the diet had been specially drawn up for the astronauts by Chinese nutritionists and that the food had been purchased from special suppliers in Beijing. Dog is widely eaten in northern China, where it is believed to help battle the winter cold. The menu was still in use last year, when Chinese astronauts conducted […]

Texas Congressman Uses Porn to Slash Science Funding

The COMPETE Act initiated by the George W Bush white house in 2007 provides much needed funding for science and education in the United States. To quietly kill it before it started U.S. Congressman Ralph Hall (R-TX) called A Motion to Recommit, thereby allowing him to add some nonsense and send the bill back to the committee where it would probably die. The Motion said no Government funding would be given to any organization that jerks off on the job. I don’t know why people in Texas hate science and reasoning so much, but they do. From Discover’s Bad Astronomy Blog: This bill would have extended funding for several more years in key places, including science education. Hall is the ranking Republican on the House Science and Technology Committee that prepped the bill. There had been objections by Republicans on the committee to the amount of spending of the bill. […]