Monday, February 28, 2011

Sand Is A Liquid

It has to be if you can swim in it right?

I think it will be a while before you can book your scuba sarfari in the North African desert, but that lizard is still pretty neat.

(via Wired, with more explanation in the article)


The internets are pretty cool...

That's Discovery taking off on its last mission.  Having grown up during the shuttle age (the Challenger blowing up is one of my earliest memories) it never ocurred to me that they would stop sending shuttles up.  At least not without some cooler, new fangled shuttle to replace them.

(via SNH on FB)

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Read This Now - Not Just Oats

Mark Bittman is transitioning his writing for the NYT away from a weekly food and recipe column and towards more opinion and food policy based pieces.

One of his first new bits is up on the NYT Opinionator, it seems that Mickey D's is only sort of serving oatmeal...

A more accurate description than “100% natural whole-grain oats,” “plump raisins,” “sweet cranberries” and “crisp fresh apples” would be “oats, sugar, sweetened dried fruit, cream and 11 weird ingredients you would never keep in your kitchen.”

Since we know there are barely any rules governing promotion of foods, one might wonder how this compares to real oatmeal, besides being 10 times as expensive. Some will say that it tastes better, but that’s because they’re addicted to sickly sweet foods, which is what this bowlful of wholesome is. 
It's worth reading the whole thing, Bittman is as sharp as ever.

(thanks to DN for the pointer)

Friday, February 18, 2011


I for one am super impressed with the people of Wisconsin, who are refusing to take their Governor's attempt to strip union's of their collective bargaining rights lying down.

The story definitely deserves more coverage than it's getting with schools closed and the Capitol in Madison filled with protesters every day this week.

TPM has been ramping up their coverage and the story is now the top section of the google news page.

Amazingly the Governor's claim that the union-busting is necessary to close a budget gap, refers to a gap that was only created when the Governor and his allies recently passed $140 million in new special interest spending.  The Madison Cap Times has the story...

In its Jan. 31 memo to legislators on the condition of the state’s budget, the Fiscal Bureau determined that the state will end the year with a balance of $121.4 million.

To the extent that there is an imbalance -- Walker claims there is a $137 million deficit -- it is not because of a drop in revenues or increases in the cost of state employee contracts, benefits or pensions. It is because Walker and his allies pushed through $140 million in new spending for special-interest groups in January. If the Legislature were simply to rescind Walker’s new spending schemes -- or delay their implementation until they are offset by fresh revenues -- the “crisis” would not exist.

The Fiscal Bureau memo -- which readers can access at -- makes it clear that Walker did not inherit a budget that required a repair bill.

The facts are not debatable.

That tidbit came via the Maddow Blog along with this quick video...

I'd say things are pretty real in WI right now.

Solving Problems

So this is pretty much me lately, I need to break the cycle.  Check out the rollover on the XKCD site for one way to do so...

This nice weather should help, but the start of fantasy baseball season sure won't...

Monday, February 14, 2011

Nothing Lasts Forever

Relax, I'm not talking about this blog (or maybe stop celebrating).  Rather that post title refers to the demise of my favorite little brewery / beer label.  Wild Goose beers were a formative piece of my beer education and their IPA and Oatmeal Stout settled in as two of my top beers and my definite top choices when in the DC area.

Hell I can remember taking the tour of the brewery as probably an 11 or 12 year old in Cambridge.  When I was back in town around New Year's I noticed that I couldn't find Oatmeal Stout anywhere and was a little put off about it.  It wasn't until this afternoon though, that I fired up the google and found that Wild Goose was indeed no more.

It seems that Flying Dog (who took over a few years back and then moved all of their operations to Fredrick) needs all of the capacity it has to push out their own label beers.  I can't say that I blame them, just that I'd rather drink some Wild Goose.

Beer in Baltimore has a nice obituary for Wild Goose, which is how I finally got the news.  This seems to be all that's left otherwise.  I'm tempted to say pour one out for Wild Goose, but if you have any left you should enjoy them.

Not Exactly Whistling Dixie

If you haven't guessed I've been listening to a lot of TED talks recently (I stay on task better with something happening in the background, these days that's TED) and here is one I think you'll all enjoy, even if like me you have a lot of trouble whistling even a little bit...

Friday, February 11, 2011

Bluegrass Blast

Ed Helms was on Fresh Air last night, ostensibly to talk about his new movie Cedar Rapids (which looks awesome by the way) but what made me listen to the appearance was that he brought his bluegrass band the Lonesome Trio with him.

Sorry, this is the best video of them I could find.  The music is much better on the Fresh Air piece and their MySpace page (wait you can still have one of those?).

I spent way too long looking for some good video though (b/c I know that's what we all really want from the internets) so here is another great piece of bluegrass via Kate Sheppard on twitter...

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Keeping Things Together

This was easily the best new gadget I saw last week, probably the best one I've seen this year for that matter.  The artwork is pretty self explanatory...

I found them on designboom, the designer behind the pens is Giha Woo.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011


(2/11) It looks like the video has been taken down, not sure why but I'd guess someone called copyright on it.  Which, as usual, is stupid.  Taking down the video does not make me want to watch the Simpsons...

I haven't watched the Simpsons in at least five years, probably longer.  It isn't that I stopped enjoying the show as much as I haven't lived with a television or cable for a long long time (it's quite nice actually you should try it).

So I have no idea where these little stiched together McBain nuggets come from, but good on the folks at College Humor for figuring it out and putting it together for all the rest of us...

(via TMN)

Local Culture

It would be remiss not to talk about the local scene from time to time here.  I'm not really one for modern dance and I thought the 'music' (I would call it noise) that accompanied the third dance in last weekend's Merce Cunningham performances at the DPAC was excruciating (if I was at the end of the row I would have left), it was however an event.

The Indy called it 'unquestionably the cultural event of the season' in it's preview and in case you thought they were being hyperbolic, Merce made the front page on Monday's NYT (as an online pull) and there was a big piece on the performance specifically, not just the farewell tour, in the arts section.

Unfortunately the DPAC was pretty empty, which makes linking to the NYT slideshow more useful because you probably missed the show...

Sara D. Davis for The New York Times
There were also a number of posts about the Merce performance on Duke Performance's blog The Thread recently.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Star Spangled Indeed

I was too busy enjoying the company of good friends and good food to notice that Christina Aguilera messed up a few of the words doing the US national anthem before the Super Bowl last night.  The resulting (and ridiculous) brouhaha has resulted in my seeing Marvin Gaye do the anthem for the 1983 NBA all star game though and that makes it totally worth it...

Of course everyone should just take notes from Eddie Izzard on how to perform the US anthem...

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Get In That Super Bowl Mood

Which is really all about food, and friends, and ads, and something else....oh right, the game.

Here's a cute VW Super Bowl ad that they released early to get you excited...

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Duke Time Warp

I suppose this is more geared towards the undergrads here, but apparently Duke is still downloading music and movies like it's 2002...

Dear students:

Over the past several years, peer-to-peer (P2P) file-sharing programs
(KaZaA, Limewire, AresWarez, BitTorrent, etc.) have become very popular
for sharing files across the Internet. Be aware that there are two
problems with these popular programs:

1) If the files being shared are protected by copyright (as the vast
majority of songs and movies are), sharing them is a violation of
federal law.  In the past, college students have been the target of
lawsuits by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) and
others for copyright violation, and many have paid large fees to settle
those lawsuits and avoid going to court. Many Duke students have been
targeted for such action. Beyond the risk of lawsuits, violation of
copyright law may also result in suspension of Duke network privileges
and/or disciplinary action.

2) They consume excessive amounts of Duke's available bandwidth,
resulting in slower network speeds and interfering with other uses of
the network.

The copyright industry has been increasing the pressure it puts on
universities regarding allegations of copyright infringement. The
Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) announced in 2007 that
they would sue students for copyright infringement, but that they would
first send the university a settlement offer, asking that the offers be
forwarded to the appropriate student. The RIAA has sent hundreds of
settlement offers to students at many universities.  These settlement
offers have typically been in the range of $3,000 to $5,000 per student.

Student Affairs has a website with additional detailed information about
the processes followed by Duke when we receive copyright infringement
complaints, notices to preserve data, settlement offers, or subpoenas.
The website is located here:

We would like to take this opportunity to remind all students that
complying with copyright law is an essential part of the Duke Community
Standard and of being a Duke student.  It is also the right thing to do
as a member of an intellectual community.


Dr. Laurence Moneta, Vice President for Student Affairs
Tracy Futhey, Vice President for Information Technology

"over the past several years.." kills me every time.

Read This Now - Getting Through That Talk

Or seminar if you want to sound more refined, or at least like you have more letters after your name than I do.

Seriously though, if you're in grad school or any academic or research field you should check this out.  It might be a little over the top but it cuts close enough to be hilarious...

One key to understanding seminars, should you fail to escape one before it begins, is realizing that seminar speakers couch their abundant jargon in half-truths. Euphemisms fly by so fast that inexperienced audience members may not be able to translate them in real time -- hence this handy guide.
(via TMN)

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Sharks, Whales, And Bears - Oh My!

Here are a couple of interesting marine themed stories to ponder...

Via Blogfish comes this tale (er, study actually) of Alaskan killer whales killing and eating gray whale calves.  What makes it particularly interesting is that the scientists have discovered that the killer whales are essentially storing the carcasses so that they can come back and get more than one meal out of the kill.  When one of those carcasses washes up on shore it feeds the thriving local brown bear population, local sleeper sharks also eat the leftovers.

Speaking of sharks, there is this guy named Jim Abernathy down in Florida and the Bahamas who spends a lot of time with sharks and apparently is recognized by individual sharks with whom he has developed a relationship.  This is just a photo set from the Telegraph teasing his forthcoming book, it would be very cool to see if there was any research being done surrounding his work with sharks.