Friday, August 31, 2007

Games Workshop Golden Demon Awards - Los Angeles 2007

The gallery of winners is up. The dreadnought is by Patrick Nankil.

Thai government to issue list of approved nicknames

I don't think this story is from The Onion:

But now, to the consternation of some nickname purists, children are being given such offbeat English-language nicknames as Mafia or Seven — as in 7-Eleven, the convenience store.


With help from language experts at the Royal Institute, the official arbiter of the Thai language, Mr. Vira plans to produce by the end of the year a collection of thousands of old-fashioned nicknames, listed by such wholesome categories as colors, animals and fruit and including simple favorites like Yaay (big), Ouan (fat) and Dam (black).

Published in a small booklet, the names will be distributed to the news media and libraries, and posted on the Internet.

Read more.

Some new snowglobes by Walter Martin and Paloma Muñoz

See more here. Spotted by Who Killed Bambi.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

"El Pulpo," the polydactyly pitcher

This post earlier today mentioned a boy born with 24 digits.

My all-time favorite baseball player is Antonio Alfonseca, currently on the Phillies. Wikipedia says:

His nicknames are El Pulpo ("The Octopus"), and Six-Fingers. He has six fingers on each hand and six toes on each foot, a condition known as polydactyly. His grandfather also had this trait. Alfonseca regards it with pride, as a kind of family emblem. The extra finger has no influence on his pitching, as it does not touch the ball.


I found the photo of Alfonseca's hand on this page, which discusses the top 30 nicknames in professional sports.

Brilliant Ugly Betty Mall Ad

Spotted here.

Coal miners survived in collapsed mine by drinking urine and eating coal


Here's the part that really interested me:

Then they "totally had a breakdown" and eventually began to use humour to help them get through the ordeal.

"I told my brother 'your wife is going to have to marry someone else'", Meng Xianyou told the newspaper.

His brother replied: "I laughed too. I said my wife could find a rich man in Shenyang.

"But then I thought, I have two children and my wife is ugly, so it would be hard for her to remarry."

Wife's probably going to serve him urine every chance she gets, right? Read the whole thing. Photo found here.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

"The day the Pacific was whipped up into an ocean of froth"

Incredible photos and explanation here.

In a fight between Neal Stephenson and William Gibson, who would win?

Seems everywhere I look someone's linking to another interview with William Gibson, and all of the interviews have been pretty boring (I say this as a big Gibson fan). It reminded me of a great Neal Stephenson interview on Slashdot. One question was:

In a fight between you and William Gibson, who would win?


You don't have to settle for mere idle speculation. Let me tell you how it came out on the three occasions when we did fight.

The first time was a year or two after SNOW CRASH came out. I was doing a reading/signing at White Dwarf Books in Vancouver. Gibson stopped by to say hello and extended his hand as if to shake. But I remembered something Bruce Sterling had told me. For, at the time, Sterling and I had formed a pact to fight Gibson. Gibson had been regrown in a vat from scraps of DNA after Sterling had crashed an LNG tanker into Gibson's Stealth pleasure barge in the Straits of Juan de Fuca. During the regeneration process, telescoping Carbonite stilettos had been incorporated into Gibson's arms. Remembering this in the nick of time, I grabbed the signing table and flipped it up between us. Of course the Carbonite stilettos pierced it as if it were cork board, but this spoiled his aim long enough for me to whip my wakizashi out from between my shoulder blades and swing at his head. He deflected the blow with a force blast that sprained my wrist. The falling table knocked over a space heater and set fire to the store. Everyone else fled. Gibson and I dueled among blazing stacks of books for a while. Slowly I gained the upper hand, for, on defense, his Praying Mantis style was no match for my Flying Cloud technique. But I lost him behind a cloud of smoke. Then I had to get out of the place. The streets were crowded with his black-suited minions and I had to turn into a swarm of locusts and fly back to Seattle.

The second time was a few years later when Gibson came through Seattle on his IDORU tour. Between doing some drive-by signings at local bookstores, he came and devastated my quarter of the city. I had been in a trance for seven days and seven nights and was unaware of these goings-on, but he came to me in a vision and taunted me, and left a message on my cellphone. That evening he was doing a reading at Kane Hall on the University of Washington campus. Swathed in black, I climbed to the top of the hall, mesmerized his snipers, sliced a hole in the roof using a plasma cutter, let myself into the catwalks above the stage, and then leapt down upon him from forty feet above. But I had forgotten that he had once studied in the same monastery as I, and knew all of my techniques. He rolled away at the last moment. I struck only the lectern, smashing it to kindling. Snatching up one jagged shard of oak I adopted the Mountain Tiger position just as you would expect. He pulled off his wireless mike and began to whirl it around his head. From there, the fight proceeded along predictable lines. As a stalemate developed we began to resort more and more to the use of pure energy, modulated by Red Lotus incantations of the third Sung group, which eventually to the collapse of the building's roof and the loss of eight hundred lives. But as they were only peasants, we did not care.

Our third fight occurred at the Peace Arch on the U.S./Canadian border between Seattle and Vancouver. Gibson wished to retire from that sort of lifestyle that required ceaseless training in the martial arts and sleeping outdoors under the rain. He only wished to sit in his garden brushing out novels on rice paper. But honor dictated that he must fight me for a third time first. Of course the Peace Arch did not remain standing for long. Before long my sword arm hung useless at my side. One of my psi blasts kicked up a large divot of earth and rubble, uncovering a silver metallic object, hitherto buried, that seemed to have been crafted by an industrial designer. It was a nitro-veridian device that had been buried there by Sterling. We were able to fly clear before it detonated. The blast caused a seismic rupture that split off a sizable part of Canada and created what we now know as Vancouver Island. This was the last fight between me and Gibson. For both of us, by studying certain ancient prophecies, had independently arrived at the same conclusion, namely that Sterling's professed interest in industrial design was a mere cover for work in superweapons. Gibson and I formed a pact to fight Sterling. So far we have made little headway in seeking out his lair of brushed steel and white LEDs, because I had a dentist appointment and Gibson had to attend a writers' conference, but keep an eye on Slashdot for any further developments.

Read the rest of the interview here.

Monday, August 27, 2007

"Sony tethers PSP Slims to cute girls, awkwardness ensues"

"In a surprise move, Sony decided to display the new PSP Slim at the Penny Arcade Expo this weekend after all, letting excited fans get their grubby little hands on the new hardware right now. They were clearly extremely worried about the security issues though, because each PSP Slim was tethered to the pants of a Sony booth babe -- and the cables weren't very long."

Joystiq has photos.

Smart Car parked sideways

Larger image here.

Time to feel old: people born in 1989 have most likely never rolled down a window

Here's a list of some of the other remarkable consequences of being born in 1989. Via The Informed Reader.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Species designations for Wile E. Coyote

"Hardheadipus oedipus" is my favorite. See the whole list here.

"[I]f seeing just one hummingbird is a thrill, imagine watching a few hundred at one time"

For several weeks in September, as thousands upon thousands of ruby-throated hummingbirds pass through towns near the Gulf of Mexico in their fall migration, thousands of people gather to watch them. Visitors flock to nature centers and backyards to watch the frenzy at the hummingbird feeders, and organized festivals offer speakers, workshops and hummingbird-themed goods to buy. Participants see large numbers of these tiny metallic-green birds up close and can learn one amazing thing after another about them.


Lamar Story, the chairman of the Rockport event, said that he went through 40 pounds of sugar last year during the two-month-long hummingbird migration, which starts in mid-August and tapers off to a few stragglers by mid-October. At peak season, his yard is full of the birds. "It sounds like you're standing in the middle of a beehive," he said. "The birds will be buzzing all around you."

Read more.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Wired has a feature on the Penny Arcade guys

This is the story of how two douches from Spokane, Washington, became the most powerful players in the videogame industry.


Krahulik has glasses, a beanpole physique, and a touch of overbite that gives him a pained expression. Holkins, who also wears glasses, is balding and so pale that he looks like he could get moonburns. Growing up, they were the prototypical misfits, ostracized by the cool kids at school. Holkins claims that he owes his success to those formative encounters with jocks and their lacrosse sticks. "I've been repaid a thousand times over for the damage they inflicted," he says cheerfully.

Krahulik agrees. "One time in high school, someone broke into my locker and stole my stuff, so I had to wear gym clothes for the rest of the day," he says, wincing at the memory. "I developed humor as a defense mechanism. Now I drive a fucking Mercedes."

Read the whole thing here.

The secret history of the Nazi mascot

Alex Kurzem came to Australia in 1949 carrying just a small brown briefcase, but weighed down by some harrowing psychological and emotional baggage.


In 1997, after raising a family in Melbourne with his Australian bride, he finally revealed himself. He told how, at the age of five, he had been adopted by the SS and became a Nazi mascot.


In newsreels, he was paraded as 'the Reich's youngest Nazi' and he witnessed some unspeakable atrocities.

But his SS masters never discovered the most essential detail about his life: their little Nazi mascot was Jewish.

Read on.

Belkin Washable Mouse

Information here.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

"China has banned Buddhist monks in Tibet from reincarnating without government permission"

In one of history's more absurd acts of totalitarianism, China has banned Buddhist monks in Tibet from reincarnating without government permission. According to a statement issued by the State Administration for Religious Affairs, the law, which goes into effect next month and strictly stipulates the procedures by which one is to reincarnate, is "an important move to institutionalize management of reincarnation."

Newsweek link (although it certainly sounds like something from The Onion). Via BoingBoing.

Jakks EyeClops Bionic Eye

This sounds so cool:

It's kind of like a high-tech, interactive version of the old-fashioned microscope. You plug the EyeClops into your TV (no software required), point the lighted "eyeball" at any object (like bugs or hair or your sister) and it lets you see the object, magnified up to 200 times.

Jakks EyeClops Bionic Eye

"Gilligan’s Island" reimagined as "Lost On Gilligan’s Island"

In 1964, a dramatic TV series called "Lost on Gilligan’s Island" was filmed. Since it was too dark for a 1960s audience, the series was retooled as a slapstick comedy called "Gilligan’s Island."

Four decades later, the ABC network remade "Lost on Gilligan’s Island," this time remaining true to the original dramatic vision. The 2004 remake was titled simply "Lost."

Via Neatorama.

How did tainted blood from Arkansas prisoners enter the UK?

Last April, at the Abbey Garden on Great College Street in London, a British widow vented her frustration over a now-defunct state program in Arkansas that may have killed her husband.

She addressed Lord Archer of Sandwell, a former solicitor general, who is leading an independent inquiry into how 4,500 hemophilia patients in the UK were exposed to lethal viruses in blood products in the 1970s and '80s. Two thousand have since died of either Hepatitis C or HIV, in what has been called the worst disaster in the history of the nation's health service.

The widow, 47-year-old Carol Grayson, spoke calmly of the death of her husband, Peter Longstaff, two years ago. She explained that he was one of the patients who were treated with Factor 8, a blood-clotting product manufactured from human plasma.

Grayson and Longstaff had believed that his medicine was safe; that it had been derived from plasma collected in the U.K. from donors who were not paid.

They learned too late that it had been manufactured, not from plasma collected in their own country, but from persons in other parts of the world and that some of those sellers were, in fact, Arkansas prison inmates.

Read on. Via MeFi.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Monday, August 20, 2007

This sounds like a great book

If you're looking for a true story that showcases both American heroism and Afghani humanity, Marcus Luttrell's Lone Survivor: The Eyewitness Account of Operation Redwing and the Lost Heroes of SEAL Team 10 (Little, Brown, $24.99), written with Patrick Robinson, may be the book for you. In June of 2005, Luttrell led a four-man team of Navy SEALs into the mountains of Afghanistan on a mission to kill a Taliban leader thought to be allied with Osama bin Laden. On foot, the team encountered two adult men and a teenage boy. A debate broke out as to whether the SEALs should summarily execute the trio to keep them from alerting the Taliban. Luttrell himself was called upon to make the decision. He was torn between considerations of morality and his survival instinct, and he points out that "any government that thinks war is somehow fair and subject to rules like a baseball game probably should not get into one. Because nothing's fair in war, and occasionally the wrong people do get killed."

Luttrell opted to spare the Afghanis' lives. About an hour later, the Taliban launched an attack that claimed nearly a hundred of their own men but also the lives of all the SEALs except Luttrell, who was left wounded.

Not long after that, the Taliban shot down an American rescue helicopter, killing all 16 men on board. Luttrell is sure that the three Afghanis he let go turned around and betrayed the SEALs.

But if nothing is fair in war, neither is anything foreordained. Luttrell was found by other Afghanis, one of whom claimed to be his village's doctor. Once again, Luttrell had to rely on his instincts. "There was something about him," Luttrell writes. "By now I'd seen a whole lot of Taliban warriors, and he looked nothing like any of them. There was no arrogance, no hatred in his eyes." Luttrell trusted the man and his colleagues, who took him back to their village, where the law of hospitality -- "strictly nonnegotiable" -- took hold. "They were committed to defend me against the Taliban," Luttrell writes, "until there was no one left alive."

The law held, and Luttrell survived, returned home and received the Navy Cross for combat heroism from President Bush.

Lone Survivor: The Eyewitness Account of Operation Redwing and the Lost Heroes of SEAL Team 10. Now who will star in the movie?

Sunday, August 19, 2007

A genuinely funny story by a nine-year-old

This is the start of a contest-winning story by Rohan Patel:

One day, a boy named Rohan was celebrating his birthday in his bedroom.

A monster was behind him.

The monster had green goo and green, scaly skin with wide, red eyes and no teeth!

The boy was about to cut his birthday cake.

The monster was hiding behind him and was holding a knife right on top of his shoulder.

Click through to see how the story turns out.

Dr. Fate Customized Action Figure

More figures in this gallery.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Friday, August 17, 2007

Scans from "The Mighty Marvel Strength and Fitness Book"

More scans here. Via Newsarama.

Maybe Philip Pullman was on to something in The Golden Compass

"An international team has discovered that, under the right conditions, particles of inorganic dust can become organized into helical structures. These structures can interact with one another in ways that are usually associated with organic compounds and with life. Not only do these helical strands interact in a counterintuitive way in which like can attract like, but they also undergo changes that are normally associated with biological molecules, such as DNA and proteins, say the researchers. For example, they can divide to form two copies of the original structure. These new structures can also interact to induce changes in their neighbors. And they can even evolve into yet more structures as less stable ones break down, leaving behind only the fittest structures in the plasma. 'These complex, self-organized plasma structures exhibit all the necessary properties to qualify them as candidates for inorganic living matter,' said the lead researcher. 'They are autonomous, they reproduce and they evolve.'"


Thursday, August 16, 2007

Blood Under The Door Advertising Campaign

The fake blood was put under doors to promote a horror film festival. See the full-sized image here.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Games Workshop: Golden Demon Awards Los Angeles 2007 Slayer Sword Winner

Brother Captain Meridius by Doug Jones. More photos here.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Geeky nesting doll

Buy. Via Neatorama.

What century is this? Southwestern Baptist offers a degree in homemaking. Only open to women, of course.

Southwestern Baptist, one of the nation's largest Southern Baptist seminaries, is introducing a new academic program in homemaking as part of an effort to establish what its president calls biblical family and gender roles.

It will offer a bachelor of arts in humanities degree with a 23-hour concentration in homemaking. The program is only open to women.

Read about the coursework here. Via Clusterflock.

23 Defense Ministry Logos From Around The World


Sunday, August 12, 2007

Friday, August 10, 2007

Vrindavan: Where widows in India go to die

Surina Devi, a matronly 70–year-old in a brown crepe sari, had a so-so life, she says, until her shopkeeper husband died four years ago. For reasons she is unable or loath to explain, the former housewife from a rural village near Patna, in Bihar, was left with "nothing, nothing."

So Ms. Devi did what poor Indian widows have been doing for centuries: She packed a bag and made her way to Vrindavan, a holy town in northern India that is also known as the City of Widows. After a night sleeping on the pavement, she found a bed in an crowded ashram – a house of prayer – for widows, where she says she will spend the rest of her life.

But it's not much of a life. And this town where 16,000 women dress in white – the color of death – is growing, according to a new report.

The survey, published last month by the United Nations Development Fund for Women and the Delhi-based Guild of Service, an Indian charity for widows, illuminates the harsh realities for Vrindavan's widows. It reveals that 40 percent of women here were married before the age of 12. A third were so impoverished that they traveled to Vrindavan without a train ticket.

But perhaps the more startling fact is that despite India's economic ascension and its increasing exposure to global cultural forces, the report offers anecdotal evidence that the number of widows flocking to the town is on the rise.

Read more. Via The Informed Reader.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

The woman that inspired Clapton's "Layla" has written a tell-all

Fascinating excerpts:

George Harrison wrote the love song Something for his wife Pattie Boyd. Eric Clapton wrote Layla for her. Theirs was the most extraordinary love triangle in rock history.

Now, after four decades of silence, the woman who drove two music legends wild tells the raw, unexpurgated story of her life...

We met secretly at a flat in South Kensington. Eric Clapton had asked me to come because he wanted me to listen to a new number he had written.

He switched on the tape machine, turned up the volume and played me the most powerful, moving song I had ever heard. It was Layla, about a man who falls hopelessly in love with a woman who loves him but is unavailable.

He played it to me two or three times, all the while watching my face intently for my reaction. My first thought was: 'Oh God, everyone's going to know this is about me.'

Still not hooked? How about this:

And there were other women, which really hurt me. George was fascinated by the god Krishna who was always surrounded by young maidens. He came back from India wanting to be some kind of Krishna figure, a spiritual being with lots of concubines. He actually said so.

Read more.

You can major in fermentation science at Oregon State University

Yes, just how it sounds. You major in brewing beer.

New York high school principal hires black magic practitioner to cure school

"A principal who took an unusual approach to improve her TriBeCa high school — allegedly hiring a "black magic" practitioner to cleanse evil spirits through a ceremony involving sprinkled chicken blood — is being forced out a month before the school year starts. A replacement principal has not yet been named."

Read more.

8-million-year-old bacterium that was extracted from the oldest known ice on Earth is now growing in a laboratory

"If confirmed, this means ancient bacteria and viruses will come back to life as ice melts due to global warming. This is nothing to worry about, say experts, because the process has been going on for billions of years and the bugs are unlikely to cause human disease."

Read more here, or just wait for the next Michael Crichton novel... Via Instapundit.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Google News Pillow

"Fantastic and alarming at the same time! The top 10 google searches of 2006. Each cushion is signed and numbered from an edition of 250." Buy. Via MocoLoco.

Monday, August 6, 2007

3D Doodle Kit - - Compass-like device lets you draw instant 3D images

"The 10.5cm compass style instrument allows images to be drawn in duplicate red and blue lines which must be a small but constant distance apart. This has the effect of lifting the design off the page and giving it depth when viewed through the special 3D glasses provided." Buy here for $9.50. Via Think Big Chief.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

How would you transport a $1.9 million rare coin?

The courier was hardly smooth: "All across the country, Feigenbaum kept checking to make sure the dime was safe by reaching into his briefcase to feel for it. Feigenbaum did not actually take the dime out of his briefcase, as it is suspicious to stare at dimes."

Sure, because it's less suspicious to keep opening your briefcase to examine the contents.

Link. Via Wired.

Friday, August 3, 2007

Dateline sent a mole to the DefCon hacker conference

She was outed immediately and her photograph is prominently displayed at the convention. Hmm, I don't think I'd want to be the one to anger a bunch of brilliant hackers. Via BoingBoing.

Update: If this is to be trusted, she fled to her car, panicked, and drove to the dead end of the parking lot when she tried to escape.

Update: Video via BoingBoing

Miniatures: Games Workshop Golden Demon Awards Chicago 2007

This miniature by Chris Borer won the Slayer Sword (best of show). More photos here.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Too late now, but this Comicon scavenger hunt is pretty funny

3. Two of the following 7 "variations" on a STAR WARS stormtrooper: Elvis, slutty, NASCAR, steampunk, KISS Army, pimp, western.

4. Katee Sackhoff looking uncomfortable.

See the whole list here. Via Pop Candy.

Airplane vs. Zero Hour

"The rights to the movie Zero Hour were purchased by the makers of Airplane!, and they were able to use the screenplay almost verbatim. The movie is not currently available in VHS however a DVD version was released by Warner Home Video on June 26, 2007. One of its rare public showings was on TV by Turner Classic Movies in a back-to-back showing with Airplane!"

See a Youtube side by side comparison here.

"Trader Joe's 'Two Buck Chuck' Named Best Chardonnay at Prestigious State Fair"

"The connoisseurs may cringe, the snobs may even sob, but the judges have spoken: California's best chardonnay costs less than $3." Link. Via Reason.