Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Way to go Idaho

Idaho Senator Larry Craig, who has in recent years garnered good ratings from such conservative groups as the "Concerned Women for America," the "American Family Association," and the "Family Research Council," plead guilty to engaging in (or is it soliciting? not sure) "lewd conduct" in a Minneapolis-St.Paul bathroom.

hahahahahaha ~ he now says he "should have had the advice of counsel" before pleading guilty to the misdemeanor. Uhh.... DUH! Maybe he thought pleading guilty would get him lots of gay buttsecks in prison since he missed out on gay tomfoolery in the bathroom.

This guy is a senator?? He was Senate "liaison" to Mitt Romney's campaign?

[Edit]Bonus: He is the senior Idaho senator and a "former rancher." "Gay-sex-in-Minnesota-restroom, I wish I could quit you!"
[Edit 2] OK so I'm watching the News Hour and apparently this isn't his first gay-associated problem. Apparently he has been accused in the past of "cruising" for gay sex many times through the decades, hanging out in front of an REI store and hitting on a gay guy, and having a gay tryst with someone in a Union Station, Washington, D.C. bathroom (near my old school coincidentally). This guy is so f---ed.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Chinese miners dig their way out!

Two Chinese miners in a deadly mine collapse that resulted in over a hundred deaths (or presumed deaths as their feat belies the original story) have tunneled their way out of the mine after being given up for dead.

If two guys without food and water can survive for 130 hours while DIGGING their way out of a mine, then how little effort was put into their rescue? Very sad.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Vick Victor Victoria

The coverage of the Michael Vick dogfighting case has focused on the repercussions of his actions on his NFL career. It is focused so much so that some journalists have claimed that he would not be given as hard a time if he had simply killed someone.

This hyperbole does not help in the discussion because it begs people to downplay the manner in which the animals died and overemphasize the exceptional cases where someone's death results in light penalties.

These animals were intentionally raised to kill or be killed in excruciatingly tortuous ways. If the losing dogs did not have the good grace to die in the ring they would be killed in ways that seem calculated to be the most cruel. Drowning? Hanging? Electrocution? Hanging and electrocution may be state sanctioned methods for executing criminals according to strict guidelines meant to limit suffering (as if anyone actually knows, but capital punishment is a whole other can of worms), but when administered by laymen, one must assume that they were not so careful to avoid suffering.

Here's a BBC article on dogfighting and its rise in America.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

On the subject of cats...

Here is a list of the most popular dog and cat names.

Predictably, since this is "most popular," they are not unique and interesting at all. Blech.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Cats remember physically better than visually

The article title: Feline Memories Found to be Fleeting is perhaps a little misleading. The study they describe really has no bearing on conscious memories as many readers (at least myself) might deduce.

Instead it has to do with the unconscious memory for the environment that all animals have in order to navigate their bodies through the world. This obscure form of memory is definitely not as sexy as the form of memory that Mr. Nibbles uses when recognizing mummy as she comes through the door after a long day of work.

Basically what they found was that if you distract a cat while they're stepping over an obstacle (say a low wall) after their front legs have cleared it but before their hind legs, then even after the obstacle is removed, the cat will "high step" to avoid it with its hind legs. However, if you distract the cat before it has cleared the obstacle, then the cat will not attempt to clear the obstacle.

I note that the methodology mentions only that they removed the wall in both cases and not that they had tripped cats up by leaving walls in place, which kind of makes me wonder about the whole study (you know, positive control, negative control, blah blah). Besides, the inner Teuton in me wants that tiny bit of schadenfreude that comes with the idea of cats tripping because they didn't remember there was an obstacle in the way after seeing it just seconds before. Kind of like feline slapstick. On that note, the embedded video links to the right have been changed to feline-themes.

Silly study, huh? And they still haven't found a cure for cancer.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Surprise of the day: U.S. Tourists not as bad as feared

Well technically this article is older than today, but I only found it today and since this is my blog it's MY surprise of the day. SF Gate's Article on some German Expedia survey. Apparently the German branch of Expedia.com surveyed 1500 European hotel managers and came up with some interesting results. I'll compile a few results here, but there are more in the article. I suppose there's no link to the actual Expedia survey results because either (a) it's in freaky-deaky Deutsch, or (b) SF Gate's editorial staff doesn't feel the need to include primary sources.

1. Americans are regarded as the second-best tourists overall, behind the Japanese. The worst tourists overall are the French, with Indians the second-worst and Chinese the third-worst.
2. Americans are the best tippers by far, and the Germans are the stingiest.
3. Americans are the most interested in trying new foods; Chinese the least.
4. Americans are the most likely to try to speak a foreign language (surprise!); the French the least.

Less glowingly:
5. Americans are the "shabbiest" dressers (what a quaint word) by far, while the Italians are the snazziest. I guess this makes sense since I tend to favor t-shirts and shorts.
6. Americans are the most likely to complain.
7. Americans are the second noisiest, following the Italians.

Other notables: Russians are rudest; Japanese are "best behaved" and "most polite."

Friday, August 10, 2007

Thankfully, criminals usually aren't smart

Here's an interesting Washington Post article about a murder defendant who, by writing jailhouse letters, implicated himself in the crime, invited his girlfriend to perjure herself, solicited others to intimidate and/or murder witnesses in his trial, and butchered the English language and grammar.

While the first few things are just stupid, the last probably actually reflects his real speech patterns. He spelled Murder "murda", with "wit" and they "dae." His handwriting is actually quite readable, too!

Monday, August 06, 2007

Books on CD experience returns

In some of my previous projects, the generally low intellectual quotient required of the work had allowed me to engage in other diversions simultaneously. One such diversion was listening to a book on CD while reviewing the work. One series I listened to was "His Dark Materials" by Philip Pullman. They're apparently turning the first book into a motion picture.

[EDIT: removed the annoying QT video clip that slowed the page down. /bleah Seriously though, check out this movie at Golden Compass's website.]

So I hope that video embed works. Anyway, it looks pretty cool to me! I'm hoping it does well so they make the second and third books into movies too. I was a little dismayed to read that for "viability" in the American market, they're not touching the controversial religious aspects of the books (which can be interpreted as an attack on Judeo-Christian dogma and even a condemnation of the Christian Churches). Anyway, for a "children's" series it's actually pretty cool and I'm definitely looking forward to the movie!

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Super unleaded? Regular unleaded?

So this is an interesting, seemingly authoritative FAQ on using premium gasoline v. regular gasoline. Bottom line: the only time you should consider getting premium unleaded is if your owner's manual says you NEED premium unleaded and you're trying to squeeze more performance from it (i.e., practically never in any normal situation).

Unfortunate wedding announcements

Jay Leno pokes fun at wedding announcements with unfortunate bride/groom name combinations like Phuc-Yu and Aikin-Johnson, so this online slideshow is not original but still kinda funny.

80-year-old Harry Potter

Apparently Harry Potter did work for the government in the Defense Department. And he retired to Florida. I wonder how many Harry Potters there are in the world? Probably dozens. But this story is about a septuagenarian who likes to hoodwink little kids (with their parents' approval). I guess it's a bit like the homeless guy in a Santa Suit.