Thursday, October 30, 2014


October is a fine month, but its end also means the chain of crappy horror movies all over my cable channels concludes. So that's not so bad.

And anyway, the first Tuesday in November is waaaaaaay scarier than any Halloween scenario you could ever dream up.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

When Nothing Matters

Dustbury writes about a story wherein we learn that United States Forest Service personnel -- last seen during the government shutdown closing about 1,000 campgrounds it didn't actually have to pay to run -- find they need to actually warn people not to try to take selfies with bears.

He quotes a portion of the story that refers to "smart phone-users" and points out that the empty space between "smart" and "phone-users" is not at all justified when you are talking about people who take selfie photos with bears, as it is not a smart thing to do. That empty space should be occupied by either a hyphen or it should disappear entirely in order to correctly describe the persons being warned by the Forest Service.

The empty space in the cranial cavities of such people, on the other hand, may be permanent...

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Photo Science, This Is

The 2014 Wellcome Science Photography Image Awards can be found here; they're mostly some pretty fascinating images taken either close up, with an x-ray camera or another imaging technology that sees inside things.

I found the x-ray photo of the bat the most interesting and the photo a photographer took of a tick burrowing into his leg pretty gross. He was at least smart enough to go to a hospital after taking the picture so the critter could be removed.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Master Control Program, Please Call Your Office...

Apparently some of the 8-bit characters from an old Tron game have broken loose and are dancing in random shopping malls.

Even if it is a Red Bull add, it still looks pretty cool.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Plain English, Please

Robert Stroud over at Mere Inklings comments on a particularly obtuse question asked of the Chicago Manual of Style site about a sentence found in a government document. The questioner asks if a particular pair of words buried deep within the fog of bureaucratese should actually be a different pair of words that in context would mean almost exactly the same thing.

The writer at Manual  limits his answer to the question at hand, rather than try to answer more unfathomable issues, such as, "Why does a person this clueless have a job?" And even more mystifying, "Why is this person's job paid for with public funds?"

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Define "Civilization" -- Give a Counter-Example

That, of course, would be the nation of Iran, which has just hanged a woman who claimed she had stabbed a man who was trying to sexually assault her.

Reyhaneh Jabbari had been in prison since she was 19, arrested on charges that she had stabbed a man who was trying to rape her. The man was a former Iranian intelligence ministry official, an office which would seem contraindicated until one recalls that intelligence also refers to spying.

Ms. Jabbari had said that while she had stabbed her attacker, she had only wounded him and another person had actually killed him. As far as anyone looking into the wayback machine of 9th century jurisprudence that is Iran could tell, this part of her story was not ever fully investigated.

Now, it's true that if Iran's official accounts of the crime and trial are to be believed, Ms. Jabbari's story would be shaky. It's a rare defendant who, when confronted with overwhelming evidence of guilt, does not fall back adamantly on the unlikely but easily asserted "Someone Else Did It" defense.

But accepting that as fact would mean accepting the word of the Iranian government, which is worthless. And accepting the fairness of Iranian law, especially in matters related to sexually-related crimes, which is also worthless. And accepting the impartiality of the Iranian justice system in applying even that flawed code to female defendants, which is ridiculous. And accepting the accuracy of official Iranian media in reporting anything like the actual events, which is not advisable. By the count in The Telegraph story, the so-called moderate Iranian president Hassan Rouhani is closing in on his thousandth execution since taking office about 14 months ago.

In his short story Silly Asses, science fiction author Isaac Asimov supposed a galaxy-wide federation of civilized worlds that recognized new members when they gained control over atomic energy and produced their first artificial fission reaction. I would similarly propose that any nation which wishes to claim to be civilized must first demonstrate a complete lack of interaction with the nation of Iran until the members of its current regime are on the other side of the bars, where they belong.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Long Putt Shortcut?

We still don't necessarily know why golfers and the Scots are nuts, but we now have some pretty conclusive evidence that they are: