Thursday, April 27, 2006

Gassy Commentary

With gas prices stuck at more than $3 a gallon (I can hear my international readers laughing, "Welcome to MY world!"), the Associated Press put out a variation on the annual Memorial Day high gas prices article, Congress Struggles to Act on Gas Prices. Two bits caught my attention:

Menendez [Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J.] proposed a 60-day suspension of the 18.4-cent federal tax on gasoline and 24-cent-a-gallon diesel tax. Revenue lost to the government, as much as $6 billion, would be made up by removing some oil-company tax breaks, he said

Gas hits $3 a gallon, and that's when they consider having the oil companies pay the taxes on gas. I hope there is a dang good explanation why this wasn't considered sooner.

Presumably, oil companies also could pass an additional tax burden onto consumers.

Well, no crap. Do these Senators actually think for one minute that increasing the taxes the oil companies pay is going to help the situation? I barely made it through the required one semester of high school economics and I can tell you that there is no way they'll let higher taxes eat into their record profits. Squeezing more money out of the oil companies may make people feel good, until the oil companies squeeze that and more out of us.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Puzzle Time

This puzzle has a deceptively simple premise: you just have to figure out the logic of how a roll of five 6-sided dice are scored. I know the answer, but I can't tell.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Fact Check

A video circulating around the internet supposedly shows someone spraypainting graffiti on a VC-25A. The VC-25As are two tricked out Boeing 747s that provide transportation for the president, and are only properly called "Air Force One" when the president is on board one of them (for that matter, any Air Force craft carrying the President is designated Air Force One). In reality, the makers of the video rented a Boeing 747, painted one side to match the exterior markings of the official presidential transports, and staged the whole thing.

From the Associated Press article

"We're looking at it, too," said Lt. Col. Bruce Alexander, a spokesman for the Air Mobility Command's 89th Airlift Wing, which operates Air Force One. "It looks very real."

Alexander later confirmed that no such spray-painting had occurred.

How much "later" do you need to call up the 24-hour security detail that you can bet your sweet bippy is on both planes and have someone take a walk 'round to check for unauthorized markings?

And if "it looks very real," shouldn't we be concerned that a guy with a backpack can run up to the official Presidential air transport and stand right next to the plane unmolested for several seconds while discharging the contents of an aerosol can?

Saturday, April 22, 2006

News of the Duh

Clinical Web Site May Be Target of Porn Seekers

Seems the operators of a website including a searchable archive of dermatology images have noticed a disproportionate number of inquiries to their database are for genitals, leading them to think that maybe some people who are not clinical dermatologists are using their site for purposes other than clinical dermatology.

Next thing you know, they will be questioning whether the well-worn issues of National Geographic really indicate that their children are curious about the Serengetti.

This is exactly why filtering the internet will never work. Certain segments of society will always want to see nether regions, and they will take it any way they can get it. If all the erotical is sequestered or extracted, people turn to the material intended to be asexual. Frankly, I am more comfortable around people who are turned on by images that are designed to be sexy than those who use clinical dermatology as porn. I am much more confident that the former group knows when a situation is not sexual, even if it may involve some exposed epidermis.

Penguin Suit

We have been invited to a black tie affair at the end of June. Thanks to Emp. Peng.'s former occupation, we happen to already own all parts of a black tie ensemble except for the black tie. The cheesy clip-on that came with the tuxedo doesn't count. It was serviceable when the audience saw his front side for thirty-seven seconds, but now people might have a reasonable opportunity to look at his neck. Which brings us to why we were in Brooks Brothers today, where normally, they would have someone who not only sells bow ties, but can teach you how to tie them. That guy had today off, so we were referred to "some really easy instructions on the web site."

"Easy" my hindquarters. "It's just like tying shoelaces," they said. Double ha. They say that to me not realizing that I still have to put granny knots in the loopy ends of my shoestrings to keep them tied. The photos are not helpful. I would like to have a nice, long chat with the fellow who decided that male formalwear would not be complete without a bit of origami nestled under the adam's apple, and I hope he is having some fun chats with whoever invented pantyhose as they wallow in the circle of hell devoted to the people who have made sure that going to relatives' big blowout weddings is absolutely as uncomfortable as possible.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Now, We Have Proof

In Wisconsin, a man rediscovered a fruitcake he had been given 44 years ago. The cake was in the same condition he had received it in in 1962. And some people still insist on classifying fruitcake as a food.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Around the Rookery

My apologies that the daily Beakful of Knowledge has not been regular of late. I've been working my flippers off in the yard since the thaw. I have added sour cherry, plum and peach trees and blackberry, raspberry, and marionberry vines. In addition, I potted out three tomato, four pepper, and a strawberry plant into containers for a deck garden, dug out a stand of daffodils and moved a pink rhododendron from a raised bed to where the daffodils had been. I still have to plant the blueberry and the grape. And that's just what I have added. I subtracted a dogwood and a maple sapling that apparently died of rodent gnawing, and still have to remove two ugly bushes of indeterminate types, a dead juniper shrub, and a line of hostas.

Yes, the rookery is looking nice; the blog suffers. The head penguin is sore but getting buff arms and back from all the digging. I also have a newfound respect for anyone who manages to bury a body.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Beakful of Bits

Tomorrow marks the 141st anniversary of Abraham Lincoln's assasination. The carriage that Lincoln rode in to the play that night was a Studebaker and is now on display in a sealed, climate-controlled case at the Studebaker Museum in South Bend, Indiana. At the time of his assassination, the only money Lincoln had on his person was a $5 Confederate note.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Mars Has Happy Face

The European Space Agency has posted pictures of a crater on Mars which resembles a smiley : ) . Personally, I think it looks a lot more like Pac Man. Judge for yourself here.

Beakful of Marine Animal Knowledge

Sea bass are born female. In the wild, they switch sexes around 2 to 5 years of age. In captivity, they turn male much more quickly, presenting a problem to fish farmers wanting to raise sea bass. It is difficult to get baby sea bass when you can't get them to stay female long enough to breed.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Truth in Advertising?

This man really is running for the U.S. Congress in my district. This is not a joke; a man named Charles W. Weasel is actually on the official candidate list for the May 2 primaries. To top it all off, he's a lawyer. Really. I would not make up something so trite.

If I were him, I would have considered changing my name before law school, but definitely before running for public office. Common sense would dictate that you do not under any circumstances want the last thing people read on your campaign website, or hear on your campaign commercials, to be "Paid for by Weasel for Congress."


Ice cubes from automatic icemakers are crescent-shaped because that is the shape that doesn't get stuck in the tray.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Friday Beakful of Wildlife Knowledge

Since the manta ray's eyes are on the top of its body and its mouth is on the underside, it never sees itself eat.

Bonus flat fish tidbit: Flounder come into the world with an eye one each side of their head and swim upright. As they mature, one eye moves over to the other side of the head and they start swimming on their side.

Extra Bonus: Most Flounder are lefties. Their eyes migrate to the left side of their body and they swim left-side up.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Porpoising Through The News

Three Arrested at Massachussetts Baby Shower

The charges stem from a brawl in which one man was shot and several others, including the guest of honor, were beaten with a large stick. (note to self: avoid playing pinyata with these people). And I thought having to play"guess the flavor of baby food" was bad at the last baby shower I attended.

Wednesday Beakful of Metric Amusement

The metric prefix for a one followed by 24 zeroes (1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000) is "yotta." When supercomputing gets to be about one million times faster than the highest-end stuff being worked on today, we will acheive "yottaflops."

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Weekend Beakful of Acronym

It stretches the definition of acronym, but "modem" started life as a shortened version of Modulator-Demodulator.