Sunday, April 30, 2006

Et Tu, Brute?

Pets. There's no domesticating some of them. Case in point: Peter Shappert, owner of Corroboree Park Tavern, located some 50 miles east of the Northern Australian port city of Darwin, has a pet named Brutus. Now normally that kind of name is given to an animal that could be ferocious, but isn't really. Like a Chihuahua. But Shappert's Brutus is no chihuahua. It's a 14 1/2 foot saltwater crocodile.

On Friday, Brutus was minding his own business when along came Freddy Buckland and his chain saw. Freddy was cleaning debris from a tropical storm and was using a chain saw to cut up a tree that had fallen against a crocodile enclosure at the Corroboree Park Tavern

"As he was trimming up the tree on the outside the croc jumped out of the water and sped along the tree about 18, 20 feet and actually grabbed the chainsaw out of his hands," said Peter Shappert, the tavern's owner, according to an Associated Press report.

"He chewed on the chainsaw for about an hour-and-a-half, then we finally got it out," Shappert said, adding that the saw was destroyed when it finally was retrieved from Brutus' giant jaws.

Neither Buckland nor Brutus were injured. Shappert is considering renaming Brutus to “Two-stroke” in honor of the saw’s fuel.

There are important lessons to be learned from this episode:

1. Sometimes you need to take pet names seriously
2. Taverns having crocodile enclosures belong on your "Places Best Avoided" list.
3. Everyone should know the rules of the children’s game of Croc, Bludgeon, Chainsaw:
  • Croc Eats Chainsaw
  • Chainsaw cuts through Bludgeon
  • Bludgeon bludgeons Croc.
It goes without saying that alligators and crocodiles are dangerous creatures indeed, on any continent, and both on and off the golf course. You should not socialize with them, even at Taverns, and even if those Taverns have seemingly adequate enclosures.

Friday, April 28, 2006

It's Irrational, How Rational I Am

Your Personality Is

Rational (NT)

You are both logical and creative. You are full of ideas. You are so rational that you analyze everything. This drives people a little crazy!

Intelligence is important to you. You always like to be around smart people. In fact, you're often a little short with people who don't impress you mentally.

You seem distant to some - but it's usually because you're deep in thought. Those who understand you best are fellow Rationals.

In love, you tend to approach things with logic. You seek a compatible mate - who is also very intelligent.

At work, you tend to gravitate toward idea building careers - like programming, medicine, or academia.

With others, you are very honest and direct. People often can't take your criticism well.

As far as your looks go, you're coasting on what you were born with. You think fashion is silly.

On weekends, you spend most of your time thinking, experimenting with new ideas, or learning new things.

The Three Question Personality Test

The Musical Fruit - Finally Able to Hit That Low G

The musical fruit may soon be singing a new tune. Researchers Marisela Granito and colleagues of Simon Bolivar University in Caracas, Venezuela have reported, in the Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture, that two strains of bacteria are the key to making beans flatulence-free.

That's right, all Marge Simpson needs to do is presoak the beans in water containing Lactobacillus casei and Lactobacillus plantarum, and Bart will be completely inoffensive. Well, let's be realistic - he'll be somewhat less offensive. But small progress is still progress.

The article didn't say if the treated beans would still be good for your heart...

I Spy With My Little Eye Something That is Titanium...

It's your worst nightmare. You're out for your daily jog. The weather's great - it's about 65 degrees and there's not a cloud in the sky. And then your leg falls off!

Sound like fiction? Not in West Bethlehem, PA, south of Pittsburgh. A passerby found an artificial leg Monday along a roadway near the J and J Bar on Marianna Lone Pine Road in this Washington County community. The leg is described as being of titanium construction, clad in a white sock and a fairly new size 11 1/2 running shoe.

The police sat around for 3 days waiting for the someone to claim the leg, but nobody has shown up at the Lost and Found thus far. So now they've now decided to start looking for the owner. The article in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette gave no reason for the delay.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

A New Water Hazard at the Golf Course

Boynton Beach, Florida. Sounds like a great place to live, work, and play. Well, I can't speak for the live and play parts, but a recent Associated Press article from the Palm Beach Post suggests that Boynton Beach is a hazardous place to work. It appears that the city needed to have some golf balls retrieved from a lake at The Links golf course, so it hired 43 year old Stephen Martinez to dive for them. Unfortunately for poor Martinez, the lake happened to be the home of 9-foot alligator, which bit Martinez's arm. The injuries were described as serious but not life-threatening.

I have the following thoughts about this unfortunate event:
  1. Martinez was stupid for taking this job.
  2. Boynton Beach has a dysfunctional safety program, hiring divers to go into lakes in obvious alligator habitat.
  3. Martinez is going to have some tough decisions ahead of him, such as which personal injury lawyer should he pick to file his lawsuit.
But don't worry, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is on the case and guess what - it's the gator's fault! It has been trapped and will be euthanized.

Up here in Pittsburgh, golfers face similar hazards with squirrels. They're ferocious for their size, and are more numerous than gators. The In The Bleachers comic below depicts a typical scene.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Attack Golfer Haiku and Photo

Sticker says "Beware
of Attack Golfer." Stay Back!
The streets are not safe.

Cat Haiku and Photo

The Cat Nebula
takes a break from her guarding
the sliding glass door

Spring Sunset Haiku and Photo

This evening's sunset
through the trees reflected from
wet picnic table

Monday, April 24, 2006

And Now For a Word From Our Sponsor...

T.V. rules -
(pretty soon you won't be able to turn it off at all)

All you fools -

(then it'll turn you off - your back's against the wall)

In the -

T.V. Age

Joe Jackson, "T.V. Age" from Night and Day, 1982

I remember the old days. We'd be watching TV, and then a commercial would come on. That was the cue to run the the bathroom, change the laundry, wash a couple of dishes, or tidy up a bit. To flip through the channels, we had to get up and, well, flip through the channels. There was a knob on the TV for this purpose, and we could change it all we wanted to and we never got carpal tunnel syndrome.

But then came the remote control and channel surfing. No need to get up, and no knobs to flip. The dishes piled up, the house was never cleaned up, and, well, I'm assuming that bathroom breaks fit in here somewhere but I don't remember for sure. And since we no longer needed to get up from the sofa, we started getting fat.

But now, Royal Philips Electronics has filed a patent application for a technology that could render our remote controls useless, at least at commercial time. This technology would allow broadcasters to freeze a channel during a commercial, so viewers wouldn't be able to avoid it. Which of course, wouldn't force us to watch the commercials (despite the title of the AP article reporting this "advance"). We could simply revert to the old days, getting up from the sofa, putting the dishes in the dishwasher, folding the laundry, and yes, visiting the bathroom, all the while melting those love handles from our waists with all the activity.

Philips suggested that consumers could avoid the activation of the feature if they paid a fee to program broadcasters. It also said it has no plans to use the technology in any of its products. Yeah, right.

Philips also said that the technology could allow a viewer to "choose, at the beginning of a movie, to either watch the movie without ads, or watch the movie with ads." Exactly what are they going to do to make us want to watch the movie with ads? Unless…the timing of the commercials can be customized, perhaps allowing us to synchronize the ads with something useful, like our need to use the toilet. Now that's a technology worth paying extra for!

Friday, April 21, 2006

The Purpose of High School Athletics

I submitted this piece as a letter to the editor of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. I've not been contacted regarding its publication so here it is for your comment.

Colin Dunlap expresses his
view, in the April 11 edition of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, that "high school sports is losing its importance in society." The basis of Dunlap's viewpoint is that, for sports other than football, high school students no longer need high school sports as a vehicle to get to college or the pros anymore.

Dunlap's article describes how non-high school basketball, baseball, softball, soccer, golf, tennis, and swimming are losing their relevance for top athletes. These top athletes, according to Dunlap, are increasingly finding success by advancing through Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) and other sports associations, and are playing at the collegiate and professional levels without having participated in high school interscholastic programs.

Dunlap might have a valid point if the purpose of high school athletics were to serve as farm teams for college or professional teams. But that's not its purpose. Far from it. I refer Dunlap to the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association (PIAA) website. In the very first paragraph providing an overview of the PIAA, the following statement appears: "Participation in interscholastic athletics offers students significant lifetime learning experiences that are unduplicated in other areas of the total educational program." The PIAA website further states that the "system that best serves the student-athlete emphasizes the amateur, educational, and character-building aspects of high school sports." PIAA serves high school athletics by, among other things, emphasizing the educational values of interscholastic athletics and promoting sportsmanlike competition.

That's very interesting. It describes a system of interscholastic athletics that serves all student athletes, not those select few who will compete at the collegiate and professional levels. It describes a system where athletics is a healthy component of a well-rounded life. It describes a system where students can learn valuable lessons in teamwork, sportsmanship, and leadership.

Mr. Dunlap, most student-athletes are never going to make the headlines, and you're never going to write about them in your column. But they're the ones for whom interscholastic athletics programs exist. They are needed, and they are important to our society, perhaps now more than ever.

Arr! Steer Clear o' Mad Dog Flint!

My pirate name is:

Mad Dog Flint

Part crazy, part mangy, all rabid, you're the pirate all the others fear might just snap soon. Like the rock flint, you're hard and sharp. But, also like flint, you're easily chipped, and sparky. Arr!

Get your own pirate name from

Mellon Financial's Future - By The Numbers

Just two months and one week into his new job, Mellon Financial's CEO Robert Kelly has shown signs of the genius expected of someone who can scale all 42 floors of Mellon's building. His first major move as CEO was to initiate a review of all Mellon operations, designed to look at new revenue opportunities and how best to cut expenses.

Responding to a
Post-Gazette question, Kelly showed the kind of clear statement-making that Pittsburgh expects of its CEOs, saying that the results of this review would "probably" mean some job cuts in Pittsburgh, but may also mean "room for more jobs in Pittsburgh, too."

Mr. Kelly, displaying his razor-sharp focus on the numbers, said that he's still "a zillion" percent behind Mellon's dual focus on money management and securities processing. Which is a good thing, since that's what Mellon does.

Let's get right down to business here. When Mr. Kelly reports the results of his companywide review to Mellon's board in the fall, I'd like to see him make a bold move. A move in keeping with his desire to cut expenses. A move bold enough to be worthy of someone expected to make up to $10 million per year as Mellon's CEO. A move that would not just improve Mellon’s stock value for its shareholders, but would truly maximize it.

You've probably guessed it by now. Mr. Kelly should announce that he is outsourcing his job to India. Indian MBAs know that you need to increase revenue and cut costs. Indian MBAs are OK with cutting jobs in Pittsburgh. And Indian MBAs are great with the numbers. Sure, they may struggle with the concept of "zillion" but they can get it eventually. And at a price tag that's not only less than Mr. Kelly's estimated $10 million per year, but substantially less than the added $19 million charge being taken by Mellon to pay off former CEO Martin McGuinn.

Mr. Kelly, take my advice and think of Mellon’s shareholders. You’re the only Pittsburgh job cut that Mellon needs.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Tiger Woods, The Masters, and Zipping Your Lips

You can dress them up in Green Jackets, but you can’t let them talk to the press. That’s what officials at Augusta National Golf Club must be thinking. Reuters reports that Tiger Woods has apologized for comments he made during an interview following the recent Masters golf tournament. When discussing his putting performance, he said, “"I putted atrociously today. Once I got on the greens, I was a spaz."

This statement of course offended many people affected by spastic paralysis, a form of cerebral palsy. In some countries, “spaz” is an offensive term used to describe sufferers of this condition. The UK Charity Scope, formerly known as The Spastics Society, issued a statement that it “is confident that Tiger Woods would be devastated to learn that something he said could offend his fans, disabled or non-disabled."

Of course, the remark was unnoticed in the U.S., where “spaz” is a common slang term applied to a clumsy or inept person. And any college student who has played Zonk also knows the importance of spaz points in the game.

But poor Tiger wasn’t playing a friendly game of Zonk with friends and a benign intoxicant. He was playing golf, a game where money talks and your endorsement dollars ride on your ability to say as little as possible to offend as few people as possible.

With that in mind, the editorial board at Scott’s Spot has analyzed several other statements that Tiger could have made regarding his putting:
  1. “I really messed up my putting today.” This statement is, of course, an affront to messy people everywhere, and could earn the wrath of Messies Anonymous, an organization which says it is “dedicated to helping you bring harmony to your home and life,” but which actually makes people's lives even messier by hawking books such as “The New Messies Manual” and “Messie No More.”
  2. “My drives were great, but my putting really stunk.” This could offend “Odiferous Americans” and other odor-enhanced people groups. Tiger should go to the Body Odor Support groups at msn and elsewhere for increased sensitivity in this area.
  3. “Let’s face it, I putted like a drunk.” You can guess how quickly the Alcoholics Anonymous people would be jumping off the wagon over this one.
Tiger, unless you want to be issuing apologies every week, my advice for you is to shut your trap and keep raking in the endorsements.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Taxes Finally Done!

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Taking a Break From the Taxes

I'm making good progress on my taxes. I'm also doing my annual "Why can't I just file those papers when I get them" laments. The Saturday Night Britcoms are on in the next room. And I'm wasting time on yet another personality test.

Your Five Factor Personality Profile


You have medium extroversion. You're not the life of the party, but you do show up for the party. Sometimes you are full of energy and open to new social experiences. But you also need to hibernate and enjoy your "down time."


You have low conscientiousness. Impulsive and off the wall, you don't take life too seriously. Unfortunately, you sometimes end up regretting your snap decisions. Overall, you tend to lack focus, and it's difficult for you to get important things done.


You have medium agreeableness. You're generally a friendly and trusting person. But you also have a healthy dose of cynicism. You get along well with others, as long as they play fair.


You have low neuroticism. You are very emotionally stable and mentally together. Only the greatest setbacks upset you, and you bounce back quickly. Overall, you are typically calm and relaxed - making others feel secure.

Openness to experience:

Your openness to new experiences is high. In life, you tend to be an early adopter of all new things and ideas. You'll try almost anything interesting, and you're constantly pushing your own limits. A great connoisseir of art and beauty, you can find the positive side of almost anything.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

I'm Really Not Wanting To do Those Taxes

I'm still procrastinating on those taxes...and I'm tired...but I'm still lucid enough to be incensed about the misspelling of "assasination"...

What Famous Leader Are You?
personality tests by

Tax Time Procrastination

Once again I've procrastinated my taxes till the last minute. No substantive posts until that's done. But I can always waste some time on a little quiz. I thought Beth was gonna keel over when she saw this - it's dead on!

You Have a Melancholic Temperament

Introspective and reflective, you think about everything and anything. You are a soft-hearted daydreamer. You long for your ideal life. You love silence and solitude. Everyday life is usually too chaotic for you.

Given enough time alone, it's easy for you to find inner peace. You tend to be spiritual, having found your own meaning of life. Wise and patient, you can help people through difficult times.

At your worst, you brood and sulk. Your negative thoughts can trap you. You are reserved and withdrawn. This makes it hard to connect to others. You tend to over think small things, making decisions difficult.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Speedy Delivery, Alaska Style

When I was a kid, you never had to worry when you needed a speedy delivery. In Mister Rogers' Neighborhood Mr. McFeely showed up with the goods whenever there was a delivery to be made.

But now that I'm older, wiser, and ever so slightly more cynical, I have a suspicion that Mr. McFeely rarely delivered beyond the Neighborhood of Make-Believe. Oh, sure, he probably ventured as far as Westwood if the delivery was for Mayor Maggie, but I'll bet he had an extra delivery fee.

Well, after all these years, Mr. McFeely has met his match. I'm talking about Frontier Flying Service, an Alaskan airline, who provides free delivery services for Nome, Alaska's Airport Pizza. That's right. Absolutely free delivery for every village on Frontier's regular flight schedule.

So, when the village council in Savoonga, on St. Lawrence Island in the icy Bering Sea, wanted a special holiday treat for young families in the village. It ordered 50 pizzas, half topped with chicken and ranch dressing and the other half with Canadian bacon and pineapple. Presto! Free delivery.

And once an order for six reindeer sausage pizzas once came in from the Arctic Ocean town of Barrow, the northernmost community in the United States, 500 miles to the northeast. Presto! Free delivery! Well, probably not exactly "presto." That order probably got cold on the trip. Hopefully it came with some reheating directions. I was curious about this particular order, so I checked things out: Barrow is actually a larger town than Nome. It has its own pizza place called Arctic Pizza, located at 125 Upper Apayauk Street. Telephone: 907-852-4222. The reviews on the internet are good. So, if they were out of reindeer sausage you had to call all the way to Nome just because they have free delivery? Frontier may want to institute a 20 pizza minimum for deliveries to Barrow.

My Quirk Factor

Your Quirk Factor: 63%

You're so quirky, it's hard for you to tell the difference between quirky and normal. No doubt about it, there's little about you that's "normal" or "average."

My freshman roommate's nickname for me was "Quirk," or sometimes "Quirkleberry." So I expected a high score on this quiz. It probably would be even higher except one of the questions asked if I tended to be single for long periods of time. Um, no, I've been married nearly 23 years!

Monday, April 10, 2006

A Kiss In Time. Jail Time, That Is. Unless You're Kissing Cousins...

You won't find too many Public Displays of Affection (PDAs) at Scott's Spot. Which is probably the only thing we have in common with Tangerang, Indonesia, a western suburb Jakarta, where a regulation has been issued banning the public kissing of unrelated people. Offenders who are timed kissing in public for more than 5 minutes face arrest.

Scott's Spot has been contracted by the government of Tangerang to develop posters communicating the difference between good and bad behavior with respect to kissing. To avoid offending the public morality, people could not be depicted on the posters. I think the following should do nicely:

Scott's Spott's Thoughts:
  1. People shouldn't kiss in public for more than 5 minutes. People shouldn't kiss in public for more than 5 seconds, either.
  2. Does the 5 minute limit apply only to uninterruped kissing, or can the kissing time be aggregated over a time period, like an hour?
  3. If two people kiss in a public place and nobody sees them for a time, does the clock start ticking only after they're discovered?
  4. What recordkeeping is required in order to obtain a conviction? Will video evidence be required? Will properly-calibrated stopwatches be issued to the osculation-cessation squads?
  5. The public kissing limitations have been established to enforce the local standards of public morality. Fine, but what's to become of the morals of the osculation-cessation officers. Will they too be jailed for having their morals corrupted for having witnessed such debauchery?
  6. And what happens if they find out that the five-minute face suckers are related? That's a worse thing in my book. Will this offense result in mandatory jail time, or even something as drastic as exile to West Virginia?

Friday, April 07, 2006

Throwing the Book at Hipsters, Hanes, and Hats

I love going to Kennywood Park. When you go on one of the roller coasters or some of the other rides, there’s a sign showing how tall you need to be to ride that ride. When I was a kid it was always a bummer when I wanted to go on a ride that I wasn’t tall enough for.

And now, Swedish librarians are trying to get in on that gig. The Hallands Nyheter newspaper reports that the librarians of Tullbro School in Falkenberg are clamping down on some teenage fashions. Girls whose hipsters don’t come up high enough and which show off their underwear are not allowed to borrow books. And wearers of baseball caps and beanies are similarly restricted.

I have a few thoughts on this…
  1. What are librarians doing looking at schoolgirls’ underwear? Sure, I know that 21st century Scandinavian mores are more relaxed that those here in Pittsburgh, but I’m still disturbed by this image. Unless that’s where they have their library cards stashed, in which case I can see drawing the line there.
  2. OK, just stick the book under your baseball hat and you can break 2 rules at once!
  3. Wise up! These are the kids who you most want to be using your library!

I Know Why The Caged Bird Surfs

The China Daily reports that 25-year-old Han Yan, from Hubei, China is living in a cage with 300 birds. She was selected from 70 volunteers to spend a week in a 5-square-meter cage suspended 4 meters above the ground.

She said she hoped to increase her awareness of conservation by experiencing the pain of a caged bird. See, she's feeling the duck as it attempts to escape her painful grip.

Han Yan is also feeling pai
n by having only a bed and computer with internet access in the cage. You can see how much pain she's feeling by reading her blog.

Han Yan's efforts notwithstanding, Gary Larson's Far Side comic "How Birds See the World," at left, remains the standard for empathizing with the feelings of our feathered "friends."

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

I’ll Be Wearing My Yellow CrashStrong Bracelet

Forget about LiveStrong, Lance Armstrong’s charitable foundation characterized by the yellow bracelets. Lance is shifting gears, literally, and will be driving the Pace Car for the 2006 Indianapolis 500 race.

This will be Armstrong’s first major sporting event since breaking up with singer Sheryl Crow. Armstrong hinted that he may break with precedent and stay in the race after the pace lap. “I’m hoping to lock axles with Danica Patrick,” Armstrong explained. “Danica races just like me – she sticks with her team in the peloton until later in the race, after which she uses her superior conditioning and skills to blow them away.” When reporters informed him that Patrick was now married to physical therapist and personal trainer Paul Hospenthal, Armstrong said “I didn’t let Jan Ullrich stand in the way of my Tour de France dream, did I? And with my team supporting me, I won’t fail in this quest either.”

Paris Hilton to be Cast as Mother Teresa?

2006 had been, up to now, a banner year for the legally blind. On Saturday March 18, Rachael Scdoris became the first legally blind musher to complete the grueling 1,100-mile Iditarod Dog Sled Race. However, today things took a turn southward. Today, film director T. Rajeevnath, who is based in Thiruvananthapuram, India, announced that Hilton is on his short list to play Mother Teresa in an upcoming film. Rajeevnath said he short-listed Hilton after reading that she had refused to pose nude for Playboy. I certainly am glad that such high standards are being applied to this important casting decision.

How does being legally blind enter into this? Rajeevnath said he stumbled upon the casting idea when he saw a computer-generated image showing what he considers a close facial resemblance between the 25-year-old hotel heiress and the Albanian-born nun, who died in 1997. I have done a painstaking photo analysis of Hilton and Mother Teresa, and am not seeing much in the way of facial resemblance. The first side-by-side appeared on the People Magazine website. Note that the only resemblance appears to be the nearly matching blues in the Hilton's headband and Mother Teresa's headdress.

This second side-by-side uses the only picture of a younger Mother Teresa I was able to find. Hilton had best get to the plastic surgeon stat if she covets this role.

I must conclude from this photographic analyis
that T. Rajeevnath is legally blind.

However, since there are so few other women who are qualified for this choice role, I developed my list of things that Paris Hilton and Mother Teresa have in common. It's a short list:
  1. Being female.
  2. Not posing in Playboy.
That's it. Oh, sure, Mother Teresa lived a simple life and Paris starred in "The Simple Life." But that hardly counts. And Paris, of course, has a number of habits. Only none of them are similar to the ones worn or cultivated by Mother Teresa.

Now that T. Rajeevnath has gotten the Paris Hilton bug out of his system, he should feel free to seek a qualified actress to portray Mother Teresa.

Promising Research for the Follicly Challenged

Scientists are doing amazing things these days with, um, bladders. According to the Associated Press, the British journal Lancet reports that tissue engineering has been used to reconstruct bladders which have been transplanted into seven patients, ages 4 to 19. Amazingly, the patients themselves donated the tissue that was then grown in a laboratory to create the bladders. The Lancet article hailed the work as a breakthrough that could hold exciting promise for someday regenerating ailing hearts and other organs.

That's great, and hopefully that research will be continued. I do think that there is another area where a smart medical entrepreneur could put this technology to good use. I'm talking about scalp tissue. I'm talking about male pattern baldness. I'm talking about a medical breakthrough that would be in high demand by millions of follicly impaired men. Sure, it's not research that's likely to result in a Nobel Prize for Medicine, but it would certainly be prized by comb-free men worldwide.

Let's help make this hat a thing of the past!

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Lurking in the Shadows I Am

Where Was My Soul Born?

Well, I'm not sure the picture suits me, but the analysis of this short little quiz was interesting nonetheless. Some of the questions had far too many choices.

Your soul was born in the Shadows.Your soul was born in the shadows of the moon at night. You're all mystery and enigma and your element is the Moon. No one really knows who you are, but they might think they know you. You only tell people fragments of who you are and never show your true personality. That doesn't have to mean that youre being someone you're not though. You're always yourself and you never do something just because someone else does. Some might think you're a little cold or dull, but you're just hiding your true self for some reason. Maybe only a couple of selected people have ever seen the true you. You are loyal to these people and it will take time if anyone else wants to gain your trust. You let people think that they know you and that you trust them. But sooner or later they will realize that they never really knew you. Be careful. Someday you might need someone who knows what you need. Trust people. You prefer silence and tranquillity. You're calm and collected and a nice person most of the time.

Take this quiz!


Monday, April 03, 2006

Screaming Down The Slopes

Word has reached Scott's Spot of the latest project of Austrian speed skier Harry Egger. Egger is using a new high-tech carbon suit in an attempt to become the world's fastest man on skis. Egger's goal is to exceed 155 mph using this new suit.

The development of Egger's suit was done using computer technology and a wind tunnel used by Formula 1 team Sauber. The cost? About $73,000. Fortunately, Egger didn't have to pay. The development was sponsored by (and I know this is going to surprise you) Red Bull.

What's to keep Egger from crashing into the ski lodge? Well, the suit is equipped with button-operated parachute that will bring Egger's record run to a safe (and stylish) end. Any bets as to which logo's gonna be on the chute? I'm guessing it's gonna look something like this:

All of this is what Egger and Red Bull want you to believe. But the investigative reporters at Scott's Spot have obtained some inside information about what's really going to happen on that mountain. Take a close look at that suit. Harry Egger's not in there. That thing's not human at all. It's a Transformer. I paid a local high schooler a case of Red Bull to hack into the Hasbro product development website and he found that the picture of "Harry Egger" above is actually a Transformer called "Downhillion." It makes use of Transwarp technology to achieve its speed on the slopes.

And now you know...the rest of the story.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Time to Get Out the Moth Balls

The people of the U.S. and China are at peace, and we certainly hope that it continues this way. However, American insects are on the warpath, and are threatening the image of the 2008 Beijing Olympics. That's right - the thousands of hectares of trees planted around Beijing to portray an environmentally friendly Games are being ravaged by the American White Moth, a native of North American forests. This moth is a prolific breeder that can lay up to 3,000 eggs at a time. The larvae can strip a healthy tree of foliage in a matter of days.

Chinese forestry officials are using sexually attracting agents, insecticide lamps and bees in an attempt to combat the ravenous moths.

Chinese officials have several other environmental initiatives for the 2008 Games, including pest elimination campaigns targeting rats, fleas and lice at gymnasiums and athletes' villages.

RATS, FLEAS, AND LICE AT GYMNASIUMS AND ATHLETES' VILLAGES?? Forget about the stupid moths and work on these things first!

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Book Review - What the Dormouse Said

What the Dormouse Said: How the 60s Counterculture Shaped the Personal Computer Industry
Author: John Markoff
Publisher: Viking Penguin, 2005
Length: 287 pages, plus Preface, Acknowledgements, Notes, Bibliography, and Index

The personal computer. Whether operated in standalone or networked fashion, nothing in the last two decades has changed our lives more. Whether you’re at home surfing the Internet, editing a spreadsheet at work, or just wishing you had nice laptop like the guy next to you at Panera, you’re affected by the personal computer. Computers have so strongly impacted our lives so quickly that we haven’t had the chance to step back and understand the history behind them. “What the Dormouse Said: How the 60s Counterculture Shaped the Personal Computer Industry” provides that history. And it attempts to go further. It tries to show how the technology, culture, and politics of the 1960s converged to create the personal computer revolution.

Author John Markoff provides an interesting glimpse of some of the more interesting characters that transformed computing technology from a number crunching function dominated by corporate stuffed shirts and military contractors to an anarchic society dedicated to sharing ideas and programs. It is fascinating to see how so much of the technology used in today’s individual and networked computing was developed 30 to 40 years ago based on Doug Engelbart’s vision of the computer as a tool for augmenting human intelligence.

It also shows how the personalities and political leanings of the players in the early computer industry set the stage for today’s issues: Should software be the property of the developer to be bought and sold, or freely distributed? How should computer technology affect how music and movies are distributed? The seeds for these current issues were sown 30 or more years ago, and Markoff does an excellent job of providing the background information necessary to make sense of them.

I did have a couple of issues with this book. The first is that the author was unsuccessful in supporting his thesis that the use of psychedelic drugs, particularly LSD, was a significant factor in the development of computer technology and the philosophy of putting computers into the hands of individuals. The fact that LSD and other drugs were used by many computer engineers of the time is established, but no evidence is presented that this was a causative factor in any subsequent developments in the computer industry. Also, the book really only got to its point – the impact on the personal computer industry – in the last 20 pages. I felt like I was only given a small taste of what the book was really supposed to be about. This doesn’t take anything away, however, from the rest of the book, which provided some very interesting history.

I think this book is well worth reading. It will be of interest to today’s technophiles who have an interest in history, as well as to non-technical readers interested in understanding the role of computers in today’s rapidly changing society.