Friday, 29 July 2005

Flint-knapping: Haven't heard it called that before

Before you go to the links, check the picture out. Funny how some things catch people's fancy <g> see, for instance, sci/tech/4713323.stm - also noted at Pharyngula (July 25, 2005) and Pagan Prattle: archives/001871.html, and probably quite a few other places.


Catseyes - Siamese Cat in Jordan Zoo
Uploaded from Yahoo! UK & Ireland News to by Epacris.

Creek Running North: Remember that old saw

Creek Running North:
July 27, 2005
Remember that old saw

Contra Costa Times columns, June 2001 - Faithful Old Tool on Cutting Edge
There's just something about a Japanese pruning saw. Or several things. For instance, the saws cut on the pull stroke, rather than the push stroke. This is an important difference when you're pruning a tree from the inside, 20 feet up, precariously balanced as the wind picks up; pulling allows you to maintain your center of gravity. A pruning sensei might put it this way:
balance and power come from drawing inward.
Pushing outward is weakness;
a fall onto the agave follows.

Roadside Attractions: Whale's Head - Newfoundland

From the site "The World of Roadside Attractions"

Thursday, 28 July 2005

The Haggis Cambrian Period?

Since 1997, when my partner & I were shocked & amused to find garlic haggis balls in a caff on the Royal Mile in Edinburgh, there has been an evolutionary explosion, apparently. (Recipes here include 'creamy clap shot'.) The influence goes in both directions, as mostly happens. There is a report of a "Pakora Bar, at Sandgate (Ayr)" with "many different types of pakora e.g. haggis pakora, smoked sausage pakora, pork chop pakora", and a black pudding pakora in Paisley.

I draw this poetic tribute, from an online site for local North Scotland communities, to your attention ...
– by Lorna M. Angus
     Fair fa' yer honest sonsie face
     Great chieftain of the curried race ...

Another is on the second page at [PDF]

Tuesday, 26 July 2005

Good Considerations of Social Conflicts on "Marriage"

Same-Sex Marriage & The Efficient Society: Perfection vs. Efficiency same-sex-marriage-efficient-society.html
Wednesday, June 29, 2005
Note: This post is a continuation from the earlier post at much-ablog-about-nothing.html

Too simple to die - or too smart to live?

Is this killer too simple to die - or too smart to live? article/0,,11069-1708036,00.html
July 26, 2005
From Tim Reid in Washington

The jury must determine if Daryl Atkins is mentally retarded, or whether his IQ has increased enough in recent years to allow the state of Virginia to put him to death.
Atkins, 27, on death row for a murder in 1996, was named in a landmark Supreme Court ruling three years ago that declared it unconstitutional to execute those who were mentally retarded.
But the intellectual stimulation that Atkins has received since his conviction, after hours spent with his defence team, is believed to have raised his IQ above 70, the cut-off point for being classified as retarded in Virginia, which makes him eligible to die. Atkins, a school drop-out, scored 59 in an IQ test in 1998 but has recorded 74 and 76 in more recent tests.
Evan Nelson, who tested Atkins in 1998 and 2004, wrote in a report last year that “his constant contact with the many lawyers that worked on his case” gave him more intellectual stimulation in prison than he received during childhood.
Atkins’s case is not clear cut. A key prosecution argument will be that he has never been retarded. Under Virginia law, mental retardation must be determined before the age of 18. Atkins’s IQ was never tested until he passed the age of 18.

The execution exam,,1070-1707225,00.html
The Sunday Times Magazine
March 06, 2005

Investigation by Leni and Peter Gillman

For 23 years on death row, Howard Neal has protested his innocence. He has a mental age of eight but has learnt to read and write in prison. Now he must take an IQ test. If he solves a series of simple puzzles, he dies
... Neal has been on death row for 23 years. He was convicted of kidnap and murder in 1982 and sentenced to die in the Mississippi gas chamber.
... Neal inhabits a cell 6ft square. He is allowed out for four hours' exercise a week. In summer, temperatures soar above 100F (37.7C). The death-row suits are made of nylon and are unbearably hot, but there is no air conditioning or a fan, and no access to cold water. The light is left on 24 hours a day and the cell is infested with mosquitoes. Once, family visitors could stay all day; then visits were restricted to an hour. Neal's mother stopped coming; he last saw her in 1992.

All this for a crime that Neal insists he did not commit. His trial can only be described as a travesty. The evidence against him was desperately thin, consisting of one unsupported confession and a single, shaky witness sighting. Although a federal court found that Neal was unfairly sentenced to death, it refused to give him a reprieve.
... Now a new battle looms. Neal has an IQ of 54 and a mental age of eight, classifying him in the US as mentally retarded
... If he scores well, his reward will be a journey to Unit 32's execution chamber. But even if Neal falls below the 70 watershed, he may not be spared. In two cases, Mississippi has accepted the psychologists' verdict. In others, it has gone on the offensive. Prosecutors have attacked the validity of the tests and have accused prisoners of deliberately failing.
... In its rawness, its catalogue of family cruelty and abuse, his story resembles something out of those talismanic Mississippi writers Tennessee Williams or William Faulkner. It can be related from details in the court records, and from Neal's letters, written in short, repetitive sentences, after a fellow prisoner taught him to read and write.
... The psychologist noted that he asked if she thought he was mentally retarded. She asked what he thought that meant, and he replied: "It means you're a bad person, a nobody."

Neal, the psychologist related, had been proud to show her that he could read and write. He was also "highly motivated" to do well on the tests, and appeared not to know that his life could depend on the outcome. He was disappointed when she told him it was time to stop, and asked her to let him finish it.

Oops, sorry, won't do. We can't just shrug our shoulders over this shooting article/0,,1070-1707225,00.html
Opinion - Tim Hames
July 25, 2005

THE POLICE, according to a Sunday newspaper yesterday, fear a “backlash in the Muslim community” after the fatal shooting of Jean Charles de Menezes, an innocent Brazilian electrician, at Stockwell Tube station on Friday. What the police should fear is a backlash from the entire civilised community. Yet there is no evidence that either the politicians or the public will provide it. The theme has been that this was a tragic “mistake”, but one which was unavoidable, even inevitable, in the current climate...

Same-Sex Marriage & The Efficient Society: Perfection vs. Efficiency same-sex-marriage-efficient-society.html
Wednesday, June 29, 2005
Note: This post is a continuation from the earlier post at much-ablog-about-nothing.html

Saturday, 23 July 2005

michaelp's Photos: Berkeley Botanical Gardens

michaelp's photos of Berkeley Botanical Gardens berkeley_botanical_gardens These are mainly cacti & other succulents. (via Particles) Check out his other photos online starting from

Sounds: Boxing Day Earthquake; Crazy Frogspawn; Singing Dunes

Recording of Deadly Indonesian Earthquake
Robert Roy Britt, Fri Jul 22, 2:45 PM ET 050722_earthquake_sound.htm
Sound from last December's huge tsunami-causing earthquake was picked up by underwater microphones designed to listen for nuclear explosions.

Scientists this week released an audio file of the frighteningly long-lasting cracks and splits along the Sumatra-Andaman Fault in the Indian Ocean. The recording of the quake starts out silent. A low hiss begins and the intensity builds gradually [in] a rumbling crescendo. Then it tails off but, frighteningly, builds again in waves as Earth continues to tremble.

The audio file here ( 050722_earthquake_sound.html) is sped up 10 times to make it easier to hear.

The recorded data was provided in March to scientists by the International Monitoring System of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty. An analysis of the data is detailed in the July/August edition of the journal Seismological Research Letters.

Maya Tolstoy of Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory and her colleague, DelWayne Bohnenstiehl, converted the data to make the new audio file - MP3 file at this link: 2005/images/tsun_eq.mp3

In other sound-related news, on Monday 25th July, 2005, Gut Records will release a U.K. album of Crazy Frog mixes, Crazy Frog Presents Crazy Hits, featuring new mixes of old hits including Technotronic's Pump Up the Jam. This may spawn a new cohort of ringtones to charm and beguile the populace

For a more pleasant aural experience, check out The Mystery of Desert Music: 050111_singing_dunes.html

Googly Moon?

Did anyone notice if this month's full moon looks bigger than usual? I read that "the distance between the Earth and its only natural satellite was the closest until 2007, at about 357,290 km (223,306 miles)". I have suspicions that if the situation was similar in 1969, that's why the moon landing (see below) happened around the date it did.
Pretty Picture The full moon rises behind the ancient temple of Poseidon, in Sounio about 73 kilometers (45 miles) south-east of Athens, on Thursday, July 21, 2005. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)

He might have been Monty

Sad news that James Montgomery Doohan died on Wednesday 20th July, 2005 at his home in Redmond, Washington state (USA). He was 85 and had been battling Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, diabetes, and, most recently, pneumonia.

Born on March 3, 1920, in Vancouver (Canada), he most famously played Montgomery "Scotty" Scott on the original Trek TV series and several films, He asked that his ashes, like Gene Roddenberry's, be sent into space.

There's quite a few different obituaries online that fill in different parts of his life & times, which naturally include more than the relatively small part he's known for.

James Doohan, Scotty in 'Star Trek,' dies at 85
Miami Herald Posted on Thu, Jul. 21, 2005
Actor James Doohan -- the engineer Scotty in 'Star Trek' -- has died at 85. Doohan, who became forever linked with the words 'Beam me up, Scotty,' asked that his ashes be blasted into space.
Los Angeles Times Service

Star Trek's "Scotty", James Doohan, Beams Up For Good (1920-2005)
By Paul Schultz
The Trades, Published: July 22, 2005
Known to millions of science fiction fans as feisty engineer Montgomery Scott on the original Star Trek television series (1966-1969), James Doohan died at his home in Redmond, Washington on July 20th.

Farewell, Scotty
By Joal Ryan Fri Jul 22, 7:42 PM ET
James Doohan, who sweated it out in the engine room of the USS Enterprise as Montgomery "Scotty" Scott on the original Trek TV series and, indeed, found himself beamed all over the world via reruns, videos and DVDs, died Wednesday at his home in Washington state. He was 85 and had been battling Alzheimer's disease and, most recently, pneumonia.

Per Doohan's request, said longtime agent Steve Stevens Sr., the sci-fi star will be cremated and his ashes launched into space by the same Houston-based aerospace company that shot the remains of Gene Roddenberry into orbit following the Star Trek creator's 1991 death. Stevens said he didn't know precisely when Doohan's outer space memorial would occur. "As soon as the next flight goes up," he said.

From the 1950s on, Doohan performed on thousands of radio shows, and hundreds of TV shows. While he did his share of Bonanzas and other prime-time Westerns, it was science fiction, in the form of a 1953 Canadian series called Space Command, that brought him his first regular series work.

Friday, 22 July 2005

Mooning Google?

The Launch of Google Moon
Google[is] releasing Google Moon ( ).

That's right space fans, you're now able to use the same technology that you'll find at Google Maps ( ) and Google Earth ( ) to wander around the Moon.

One small step for Google...

On July 20, 1969, man first landed on the Moon. A few decades later, we're pleased to cut you in on the action. Google Moon is an extension of Google Maps and Google Earth that, courtesy of NASA imagery (thanks, guys!), enables you to surf the Moon's surface and check out the exact spots that the Apollo astronauts made their landings.

Is Google Moon a result of your Copernicus initiative?

Glad you asked, and yes, the development of our lunar hosting and research center continues apace. We usually don't announce future products in advance, but in this case, yes, we can confirm that on July 20th, 2069, in honor of the 100th anniversary of mankind's first manned lunar landing, Google will fully integrate Google Local search capabilities into Google Moon, which will allow our users to quickly find lunar business addresses, numbers and hours of operation, among other valuable forms of Moon-oriented local information.

Welcome to Google Moon In honor of the first manned Moon landing, which took place on July 20, 1969, we’ve added some NASA imagery to the Google Maps interface to help you pay your own visit to our celestial neighbor. Happy lunar surfing.
On a related note...Want to learn more about the flight of Apollo 11? You'll find some great material (images, timelines, etc.) at lunar/apollo11info.html and lunar/apollo11.html. Video clips of the flight at apollo/apollo11/html/launch.html).

Want to learn more about the astronauts? Ask Jeeves has Smart Search results available for Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins.
It seems no-one remembers what "green cheese" really is.

Pix: New London Bombings 21st July, 2005; iPod ads; Cat Blogging

Panic, police shutting roads (London, 21st Jul 2005) -

A phone-video (Quicktime) of police clearing a street in London vids/moblog_e7c1578f1dbf1.3gp

(And the 'moblog' of a fairly cluey bloke who calls himself Dave)

randomimagewall : Dave

Adam - could you contact me if you're happy to license these for wikinews please? London_Underground_evacuation_after_%27Incidents%27

Cult of Mac
by Leander Kahney
Wednesday, 22 June 2005

IPod Ads on Flickr
The world's greatest photo website -- -- is home to lots of fine shots of iPod billboards.

Nicer things
Domo Proudly Supports Cat-Blogging
5th Jun 2005 10:26 (from Katyblog by doodle)

When You Wake the Black Man from Boston, Nicholas Scratch Will Surely Come to Call

liz_marcs: When You Wake the Black Man from Boston, Nicholas Scratch Will Surely Come to Call:
On July 12, 2003, Sen. Santorum cried out and pointed an accusing finger at the Black Man from Boston, falling into the trap that has resulted in destroyed lives, reputations, and the end of great political movements, especially religiously fueled ones.

For you see, when you cry out on the Black Man from Boston, you wake Nicholas Scratch, and he will surely come to call on you.

I am tempted to ask the good Republican Senator from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania: Are you entirely sure you want to get the estimable Mr. Scratch's attention?

Friday, 15 July 2005

Vinferno (Part 1)

Bonny Doon Vineyard :: Vinferno Part 1

Wow. Parody is definitely a large part of human creativity - in a good sense, not necessarily poking fun, but using someone else's work to inspire you.

Thursday, 14 July 2005

Stuff On My Cat

Stuff On My Cat: "Do you like to put stuff on your cat while it snoozes? So do we, send us a picture with you and your cats name to If your submission meets our 'rigorous' standards in the fields of quality and awesomeness we will put it up for all to see

Wednesday, 13 July 2005

Boing Boing: Photos related to London bombings, blog coverage, Wikipedia

Boing Boing: Photos related to London bombings, blog coverage, Wikipedia -- UPDATED: Thursday, July 7, 2005
Photos related to London bombings, blog coverage, Wikipedia -- UPDATED
645AM, L.A.: Tags on Flickr that return images related to today's deadly bombings -- three in the London underground and one a bus -- include bombs, bomb, blast, terrorism, and London. Pools include The London Bomb Blasts Pool, and London Explosions Pool. (Thanks, Jake Appelbaum)

The Guardian's blog has good, ongoing coverage. Link: ( explosions_plunge_london_into_chaos.html).
(Thanks, Flora).

Other collaborative blogs covering the event include Londonist ( 2005/07/tube_network_do.php), and the London Metblog (

Here is a highly informative Wikipedia 'current event' page, which includes links to news sources, blogs, a timeline of events, and translation of the claim for responsibility posted on the Jihadist website Al-Qal'ah: Link ( wiki/2005_London_transport_explosions)
News networks in the UK are soliciting text messages and cameraphone images, videos from viewers. CNN just aired the first footage they obtained from inside a struck tube carriage; the video was shot on an eyewitness' cameraphone.

Tuesday, 12 July 2005

A Question for British Readers

German forces formally surrendered over 6 - 8 May 1945, marked by VE Day on May 8th, while the Japanese surrender followed on 15 August 1945 (exactly 396 years after the arrival of Francis Xavier), called VJ Day. It was signed on September 2nd on the USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay.

There was quite a lot of fuss in May over the victory of the Allies in Germany. Why is the UK having another round of commemorations & celebrations in JULY? Is it just that the weather is more likely to be better then than at the time of the actual ending of World War II in August? Do they intend to have something to remember the atomic bombings of Nagasaki (M Butterfly's city) and Hiroshima, and the Japanese surrender, or is it following the grand British tradition of celebrating things -- like the monarch's birthday -- on days they didn't happen? As far as I can tell this isn't halfway between

The battle on Okinawa (~150,000 deaths) happened after the surrender of Germany, so did the final re-taking of the Philippines, some of the Tokyo raids, fighting in Borneo, etc, etc, and obviously the two atomic attacks. About 40 millions (twice the current population of Australia) had died by VE Day, but there were many deaths more before the end of the war.
[A document of unconditional German surrender was signed at General Dwight Eisenhower's headquarters in Reims on 7 May, but victory was celebrated on 8 May. The northern forces represented by Admiral Freideburg and General Jodl, surrendered to Field Marshal Sir Bernard Montgomery, near Lubeck, a day earlier. These show Keitel and Zhukov in Berlin at the Russian HQ.]
Online Library of Selected Images -- Department of the Navy -- Naval Historical Centre

This photo may be by Lee Miller.
A general of the Volkssturm lies dead on the floor of city hall, Leipzig, Germany. world_war_2_photos/images/ww2_187.jpg

He committed suicide rather than face U.S. Army troops who captured the city on April 19, 1945.

Australian Climate and Weather Atlas

Front page of the Climate and Weather Atlas of Australia: (formerly this is a private but pretty good site. It includes a part called `Weather Features', which has sections on Bushfires, Monsoon, Snow in Australia, Thunderstorms in Australia, Tropical Cyclones & Dangerous and Destructive Seas.

Monday, 11 July 2005

Google Guide Quick Reference: Google Advanced Operators (Cheat Sheet)

Google Guide Quick Reference: Google Advanced Operators (Cheat Sheet): GOOGLE GUIDE - by Nancy Blachman

Google Help : Cheat Sheet:


by Ross Eckler
Word Ways, 1996

In an article in the February 1974 Word Ways, Dmitri Borgmann nominated Zzyzx Springs as the alphabetically-last United States place name.

In addition to Zzyzx Springs, there exists a Zzyzx Road, a 4 1/2-mile dirt road leading from Interstate 15 to Zzyzx Springs.

The story of Zzyzx Springs is the story of Curtis Howe Springer who, in 1944, settled without a by-your-leave on 12,800 acres of Mohave desert land, on a tract about eight miles long and three wide. On it he erected a 60-room hotel, a church, a health spa with mineral baths in the shape of a cross, a castle, a radio station and several other buildings. He even constructed a private airstrip which he called Zyport.

Springer identified himself as a physician and a Methodist minister, but in fact he was neither. For thirty years he broadcast a daily religious and health program from a radio studio at Zzyzx Springs which was carried, at its peak, by 323 stations in the US and other countries ... He urged his listeners to send him donations for miraculous cures for minor ailments as well as illnesses as serious as cancer ... [using] his magic potions (concoctions of celery, carrot and parsley juice)...

Retirees gave Springer their life savings for the privilege of staying in spartan quarters at the ranch. Vacationers stayed at the hotel for a few days at a time to enjoy the waters

These enterprises thrived from 1944 until 1974, when federal marshals finally arrested him for alleged violations of food and drug laws and unauthorized use of federal land. Zzyzx Springs and all the improvements were confiscated by the Bureau of Land Management, and Springer was found guilty and spent a few months in jail. He died in Las Vegas in 1986 at the age of 90.

Since 1976 Zzyzx Springs, now simply known as Zzyzx, has functioned as the Desert Studies Center, a teaching and research station administered by the California State University system ... under a 25-year cooperative management agreement with the Bureau of Land Management

Computer Graphics "Master and Servant"

CG Society Challenge XVII "Master and Servant" results.

Listing of artists & entries masterandservant/view_entries.php

(Large pictures) 8/6721/6721_1116332313_large_tiff.jpg

The winner (called "Spoiled") - v soft porn (smaller detail is on front page, above) master_servant_results/2d_winner.php

Or, alternatively

Wednesday, 6 July 2005

A Prayerful Tyger's Tail?

A Song and Dance over prayer and prosperity (SMH Letters, July 6, 2005) articles/2005/07/05/ 1120329444893.html "It sounds like a Christmas carol: "One Labor premier … five federal cabinet ministers, eight Liberal backbenchers and two National Party Senate leaders" line up to praise and give thanks to the power- and money-hungry patrons of the Hillsong church" ( Politicians make a joyful noise, too By Linda Morris July 5, 2005 articles/2005/07/04/ 1120329388593.html and Politics goes to church at Hillsong July 4, 2005 articles/2005/07/04/ 1120329387287.html "The nation's most powerful politicians sought to connect with a crowd featuring an oversupply of that all-important political player, the aspirational voter" )
[From the ABC 702 Sydney Local Radio Guestbook (Sally Loane)]
Name: Big Trev
Topic: Get On Board (room for plenty o'more)
Visit Time: 5/07/2005 8:53
A well known large religious movement seems to be getting some pop from Governments of both persuasions and there is no doubt the Christian Evangelical movement has some clout around the world at present...
But who is using who when politicians front up to the opening night of a Religious gathering.
I fear that precious taxpayers dollars will leak in a bid to win votes somewhere sometime and probably secretly, for the cause.
Firstly, are said well-know-large religious movement really that influential? 2% or 3% of community? Surely the 'bible-thumpers' only have as much clout as the numbers allow.
Secondly, even if they are more significant shouldn't we really concede that they have as much right to be 'represented' as co-citizens?
paulo 6/07/2005 9:50
Both in the US and here the overall vote for each major party is 40-odd% (which is why I never believe this whole 'mandate' thing, because almost half the country votes against the winner), so swinging a smallish chunk your way can make the difference between winning & losing. With non-compulsory voting, if only 50% of all electors vote, and 80-90% of, say, the 5% the groups represent, can be guaranteed to vote your way, that's worth 8%, which is more than most winning margins if you count the votes right across the country, not seat-by-seat. Religious groups are likely to be able to mobilise a widespread committed section of voters to come out and vote the way their leaders tell them; more than a local school, or motoring organisation, say.

Of course, there are many complications, eg the division into seats & states & particular groups being concentrated in some, but I believe that one dangerous thing with politics recently is that they have realised that rather than appeal to a broad selection of the population, they can target certain groups to gain winning batches of votes. This might be riding the tiger when they have to come up with the policies or money to reward the groups, but it's not the politicians I worry about getting scarred, though, but the ripping apart of the social fabric by pandering to sectional interests.