Monday, October 31, 2011

Naked Drunk Russian "On Wings of Love" Smashes 17 Cars

"Naked Drunk Love Wings." I feel a song coming on.

Oh look—a picture of the naked, drunk, love-winged Russian. Because why the hell not?

Fukushima Much Worse That Previously Thought

In other words - of course they were lying:
The Fukushima nuclear disaster released twice as much of a radioactive substance into the atmosphere as Japanese authorities estimated, reaching 40 percent of the total from Chernobyl, a preliminary report says.
The estimate of much higher levels of radioactive cesium-137 comes from a worldwide network of sensors. Study author Andreas Stohl of the Norwegian Institute for Air Research says the Japanese government estimate came only from data in Japan, and that would have missed emissions blown out to sea. 
The study did not consider health implications of the radiation. Cesium-137 is dangerous because it can last for decades in the environment, releasing cancer-causing radiation.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

My Pub

Sigh. I have to walk a full six minutes from home to get to it.

Magpies With Chick; Crested Pigeons' Mating Dance

I got two nice videos yesterday.

In this first one I say that what we have here is two currawongs and their chick. Why? Because I'm an idiot. They're magpies, and I should have known that. (I've been told the way to distinguish the two is that the magpies have white on their beaks, and currawongs don't.)

Just minutes later a pair of Australian Crested Pigeons showed up on the same roof, and performed a beautiful mating dance, with tails rising and opening and heads bobbing. Really nice:

Cops Cheer Fellow Cops Indicted on Multiple Charges

From the annals of "We Really Have Lost Our Collective Minds, Haven't We?:
A three-year investigation into the police’s habit of fixing traffic and parking tickets in the Bronx ended in the unsealing of indictments on Friday and a stunning display of vitriol by hundreds of off-duty officers, who converged on the courthouse to applaud their accused colleagues and denounce their prosecution.
Think about that for a second. The people charged with enforcing the law cheer their fellow law-enforcement colleagues who are accused of breaking the law, and some of them on very serious charges, including "ticket-fixing and drugs, grand larceny and unrelated corruption," and in the case of four of the arraigned officers, "helping a man get away with assault."

How safe would you, as a citizen, feel in an environment like that? It'd be like a group of your country's soldiers cheering other soldiers arrested for helping the enemy.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Looking forward to the Jim Carrey film, "The Number 83"

Oh, it's coming alright:
The numerical figure of 83 centimeters may not, at first, seem all that amazing. But, according to Japanese archaeologist Saburo Sugiyama, that figure shows up just about everywhere at the site of the ancient Mexican city of Teotihuacan.
In presenting his findings at a special meeting of Teotihuacan experts, Sugiyama said there was a "constant presence" of 83 centimeters throughout the more than 7-square-mile city once inhabited by 100,000 people, more than 14 centuries ago, reported FOX News Latino.

U.S. Sending Armed Drones From Civilian Airport

Holy crap, that sounds on its face ridiculously irresponsible.
The US Air Force is flying armed drones from a civilian airport in southern Ethiopia as part of a growing battle against Al-Qaeda linked Shabab militants in Somalia, the Washington Post reported Thursday.
How'd you like to take a flight out of that airport? Nothing dangerous about that, right?

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Chris Chandler and Paul Benoit: "One Percent / Ten Ton Shoes"

Chris Chandler says "Tear down that Wall Street, Mr. Bernake!" With Paul Benoit.


Matt Taibbi puts it plainly in Rolling Stone:
Americans love winners. But that's just the problem. These guys on Wall Street are not winning – they're cheating. And as much as we love the self-made success story, we hate the cheater that much more.

Report: Oakland Police Gave Protester Brain Injury

He's reportedly an Iraq War veteran.

Army Ranger Killed on 14th Deployment

I worked with a guy in a salmon cannery in Valdez, Alaska, in 1985 or so who talked about, sometimes bragged about, doing 12 tours of combat duty in Vietnam. I don't want to turn such a thing into a cliche, but he was probably the scariest person I ever came across. He was a sad, paranoid, violent man.  It actually bothers me right now in my gut just picturing his face. Not fear, but Jesus, this was the saddest individual.

I've talked about the guy a few times in the years since, and just about every time someone would say, "Nobody was allowed to do that many tours! Bullshit!"

An Army Ranger who was on his 14th deployment to a combat zone has been killed in Afghanistan. 
Sgt. First Class Kristoffer B. Domeij, 29, was killed Saturday when the assault force he was with triggered a hidden roadside bomb in Afghanistan's Kandahar Province. 
Domeij served four deployments in Iraq and another nine stints in Afghanistan. During that time he was awarded two Bronze Stars. His third Bronze Star, earned during his final tour in Afghanistan, will be awarded posthumously, according to the U.S. Army Special Operations Command.
14 tours and he's 29? Did he ever get home? Ai yai yai.

RIP, Kristoffer Domeij. And a good wish from far away to that guy I met in Valdez. I hope he's found some peace.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

HS Teacher Faces Fines For Helping Students Register to Vote

Things that make me want to bite a moving train number googelty-million:
The teacher who heads up New Smyrna Beach High School's student government association could face thousands of dollars in fines. Her transgression? Helping students register to vote. 
Prepping 17-year-olds for the privileges and responsibilities of voting in a democracy is nothing new for civics teachers, but when Jill Cicciarelli organized a drive at the start of the school year to get students pre-registered, she ran afoul of Florida's new and controversial election law. 
Among other things, the new rules require that third parties who sign up new voters register with the state and that they submit applications within 48 hours. The law also reduces the time for early voting from 14 days to eight and requires voters who want to give a new address at the polls to use a provisional ballot.
Esquire's Charles Pierce on this here.

Northern Lights Visible Across the U.S.

Of course this happens after I move to the Southern Hemisphere:
Aurora Borealis, or Northern Lights, are unusual so far south -- the colorful, 20-minute display was a rare sighting caused by a recent solar storm. This video [go to link for video] was captured by the color allsky camera at the Automated Lunar and Meteor Observatory, or ALaMO, at the Marshall Center in Huntsville, Ala.
They even saw them in Texas! I saw a green curtain effect aurora in Alaska when I worked there in the 1980s - but in the Lower 48? Never. Lucky.

MSNBC has a few shots that people sent in. One, from Wisconsin:

Saturday, October 15, 2011

"A Guide to Preparing and Assembling a Bear Skeleton"

I'm researching an article about bears—did you know that fossil evidence shows that polar bears diverged from brown bears starting only about 200,000 years ago? amazing!—and I just came across this:
Not a lot of people are going to be articulating bear skeletons, but if you were—this is the manual you would want. Bear skeletons are fascinating because the anatomy of a standing bear is so similar to our own. The skinned-out hands and feet are sometimes turned in as homicide remains. This manual has detailed illustrations of bear bones, including all the carpals, and tarsals from the hands and feet. This is the step by step process once used by a grade school to do a museum quality skeletal mount of a bear.

Here's a sample page:

I think we all know that we need this book. It's only $34.99—and you never know how a party might end up some night, for example.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

About the "47% of Americans don't pay taxes!" crap

Most lies like this are worth ignoring, but this one keeps cropping up, and it just did again.

For starters, it's 100% wrong. The 47% figure is about federal income tax, not taxes in general. The great majority of people who work - even those 47% who don't pay federal income tax - still pay taxes, as in payroll taxes, etc, and just about all of us pay taxes, local, state, and/or federal, on various things we buy, too. So again: Wrong. Not true. Dishonest. A lie. Take your pick - but if you hear people spreading this crap, educate their sorry asses.

Secondly, at what point does the fact that 47% of Americans DON'T MAKE ENOUGH MONEY TO PAY FEDERAL INCOME TAX bother people for the right reasons, rather than inhumane political reasons?

In other words, Stop being horrible dishonest asspeople. You might actually enjoy it.

Monday, October 10, 2011

The Electric Bonsai Band

Just got blasted back to seeing The Electric Bonsai Band - not electric, not a band - in, where? Portland, Oregon? Seattle? - so many years ago, maybe even the 80s. My god he was good. Fast, smart, scary smart, and just as funny as hell.

I am so happy to have found him (Andrew Ratshin) on Napster. Please go, listen. "I am My Dad" is so good - although it is much better live.

Ratshin also played in Uncle Bonsai.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

NZ Trying to Avoid Huge Enviro Disaster

New Zealand is bracing for an environmental disaster amid fears that a container ship stranded off the North Island could break up and spill oil into the pristine Bay of Plenty, the environment minister has said. 
Nick Smith told local media on Friday that the accident "has the potential to be New Zealand's most significant maritime pollution disaster in decades". 
Officials said the pollution would be far worse if the ship broke up on the Astrolabe Reef, releasing the 1,700 tonnes of heavy fuel oil on board into a marine environment that is home to whales, dolphins, seals and penguins.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Australian Crested Pigeon

We've had s regular vistor (along with the cockatoos) for the last couple weeks. We first got to know him (her?) by the sound of his flight: a buffeting whistle and hum, kind of like a partridge or quail, but louder and tighter.
If startled, this pigeon takes to the air with a characteristic whistling flight, and glides with down turned wings. The whistling sound is produced by the air passing over a modified primary feather on the wing.
Before long we saw him on the veranda, poking around for leftover seeds or whatever else he could find.

Cute fella, huh? It's a Crested Pigeon, native to Australia.

He's been back almost every day since. Very comfortable, will poke around right next to the much larger cockies, let's us walk out and talk to him.

Here he is doing a fluff-up:

I'll try to get some audio of the wing sound:
If startled, this pigeon takes to the air with a characteristic whistling flight, and glides with down turned wings. The whistling sound is produced by the air passing over a modified primary feather on the wing.
You get a little better look at the wonderful wing colors here:

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Aussie Wins First Nobel in Physics Since 1915

AN AUSTRALIAN who found that the universe is accelerating and will end with a whimper rather than a bang has won the Nobel prize in physics. Brian Schmidt's research suggests an invisible force known as dark energy is pushing the cosmos ever faster apart.
I see that and I go - An Aussie won the Nobel in physics in 1915? Get out!

* I had to go look. It's actually an interesting story. Not only does William Lawrence Bragg remain the youngest Nobel Laureate in history,  he's the only one to share the prize with his father. (He's also the first Aussie known to have x-rays used on him for surgical purposes.)

Monday, October 3, 2011

Watching My Old Open Mike in Oregon Right Now!

This is too cool. I'm actually looking at the bar in Oregon where I ran an Open Mike for going on ten years. My old buddy Dave Hampton, who took over, is setting up right now, and has it streaming on the web. How freaking cool.

You obviously have to sign up with Veetle, and with Google Chrome (I did, anyway) to do it. It took me abouot two minutes total.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Rick Perry's "Niggerhead" Hunting Camp

Just saw this story:
Paint creek, tex. — In the early years of his political career, Rick Perry began hosting fellow lawmakers, friends and supporters at his family’s secluded West Texas hunting camp, a place known by the name painted in block letters across a large, flat rock standing upright at its gated entrance. 
“Niggerhead,” it read.

That reminded me of when I worked on a purse seiner (fishing boat) in Alaska. Every seiner has a winch drum - a large, hydraulic-powered, rotatable drum (you can see it clearly at 2:19 of the video I linked) - around which you could throw a line to winch something, like the net, into the boat. I was told it was called the "niggerhead." Because you throw a rope around it. (Get it? Get it? Funny, huh?) Pretty sure they're still called that on all or most seiners up there.

Maybe it relates somehow to the source for the name of Perry's camp? Maybe it was a logging or oil term, too? I dont know. Just occurred to me.

Update: More on the word.

National Rugby League Grand Final Tonight! [Manly Wins]

I moved to Australia and immediately caused my local team to make it to the Grand Final. You're welcome!

Bonus: "My" team is the most hated team in the league, by everyone's estimate:
LEAGUE fans across NSW will today become passionate Warriors supporters for just one reason: they can't bear to see Manly, the most hated club in the NRL, winning another grand final.
Ha! Hate on! We will crush the warriors and ride to victory oh whatever. I don't care that much.

But we will have pork chops and beer tonight for the game. That's always good.

Update: Brutal bloody brilliant game, the Sea Eagles won - and I even understood some of it!