agentotter: a raven against stormy skies (Default)
Oh, movie trailers. They have you pegged, I'm afraid.



I think that was the best movie I've seen all year, and it wasn't even a movie.

In other news (by which I mean "links I got off reddit"), here's a Newfoundland language guide to use of "b'y". I know exactly one of you who will be interested, but I'm pretty sure it's going to be useful when I sneak into Canada and need to fool the Mounties into believing I'm a native. (Note to Mounties: I am not actually planning on sneaking into Canada. There is no need to arrest me. Kthxbai. (Kthxb'y?)

Some science-types at MIT have figured out how to turn polyethylene, a common insulator, into a conductor. ARE YOU KIDDING ME, SCIENCE? Smart people are awesome.

Here's another excellent reason to pass healthcare reform: apparently Rush Limbaugh will leave the country if we do. Hopefully we won't have to pay any other nations to take him. I'm not sure exactly where he thinks he'd go that would make him happy, but apparently he's planning on Costa Rica. Where they have socialized health care. Yeeeeeeeeeeah.

In other news, there's now a "sustainable" Formula 1 racing car, which apparently is made out of stuff like carrots and potato starch. And it's fueled by chocolate, which makes me weep for all the chocolate that could've been eaten by me instead. (Okay, it's not actually fueled by chocolate. If I'm understanding the article correctly, the fuels are derived from oil-based waste products from chocolate factories. Which if the factories are Hershey, means that there's no actual chocolate involved anyway.)

And finally, here's a deeply awesome new kind of Martian-explorer robot: the Tumbleweed rover.
agentotter: (end of the world)
Speak of the auto repair man and he shall call your phone. IT'S OK, I DIDN'T NEED ANY OF THAT MONEY ANYWAY. I LIKE MY CREDIT CARDS MAXED OUT. OMGWTF.

I am not going to cry, and I will tell you why: because that actually doesn't help anything. (Damn it.)

But hey, at least somebody is having a worse day than me: California State Senator Roy Ashburn was picked up for DUI... after leaving a gay bar. This is an item of note because Ashburn is one of that esteemed club of intensely closeted homosexual politicians whose political agenda is anti-gay. Dear Senator: We don't give a shit that you're gay. We care about this story because you're an asshole. (The Fresno Bee, by the way, is notable as its coverage simply fails to mention the more scandalous -- and one would think newsworthy -- aspects of the case, like that the Senator was leaving a gay bar and that he had a hookup in the car with him when he was pulled over.)

In other news along these lines, I keep meaning to mention that I recently watched a fantastic HBO documentary film called Outrage, in which the filmmakers take to task a number of national political figures who are in the same boat: they vote consistently and ardently against any sort of basic rights for homosexuals, while simultaneously being closeted themselves. What really amazes me about most of these men is that they aren't doing a great job of keeping their secrets: one would think that a person could just pretend to be straight and not, for instance, frequent gay bars or have gay relationships. I mean, plenty of closeted people have done it for decades, and it's horribly damaging but it is possible to live a lie in all sorts of different ways; we ask every gay member of our armed forces to do it every day. But instead, these guys tend to have had illicit or open affairs, go cruising the clubs, and generally behave as if they're people who can afford to be seen at these venues. And you know, I'm all for the inclusiveness of the gay community, but I don't understand how guys like this can show up at a gay club and not be beaten to death by an angry crowd. Normally I'd be extremely against outing anyone -- especially doing it on television -- but I can't find a single thing wrong with this film. It was fantastic, and if you have the chance, you should watch it.

Oh, and by the way, here's another Catholic sex scandal for you, but at least this time it's all about consenting adults. Consenting adults who like cock, apparently.

And in conclusion, I still don't know why anybody gives a shit whether anybody else is gay. It kind of freaks me out that straight people are so obsessed with anal sex. LOOK IF YOU WANT TO TRY IT JUST TRY IT OKAY? It's not like the gays are holding out on you. Straight people can do it too. Nobody's telling you what to do in the bedroom. (Although in the case of all these bitter old men, maybe they'd be better off if somebody did tell them what to do in the bedroom, because clearly they're not managing satisfying performance all on their own.)

In other news completely, here are some additional interesting links for today:

Apparently Mariska Hargitay and Kathy Griffin had a lesbian kiss scene in an episode of Law & Order: SVU, but it was cut by NBC. WTF, NBC. I thought the male 18-45 demographic was like solid gold to you people.

A 12-year-old girl on a Chilean island saved pretty much everybody from a tsunami. Girls are so fucking awesome.

Meanwhile, a woman in Saudi Arabia who had the nerve to file harassment charges without being accompanied by a male guardian has been sentenced to 300 lashes and 18 months in prison. Stay classy, Saudi Arabia.

Apparently dinosaurs are older than we thought -- by about ten million years. YEEEEEAH!

And finally, somebody on Reddit implored, Reddit, please share how you got over social anxiety and awkwardness. A lot of people would find it useful. Thanks in advance. I of course found this a terribly interesting topic, and a user named "eyeball_kid" totally blew my mind. His response? "Realized that being self conscious and awkward was really just another form of narcissism."

My world is now officially tipped onto its axis. Thank you, eyeball_kid. No doubt it is an all-seeing eyeball you have there.
agentotter: (waldo)
Joining me in the never-ending battle against jellyfish is this predatory coral reef. Yeah, that's right. It eats jellyfish. It eats them. Jesus Christ. I'm going to add that coral to my list of Reasons To Be Afraid Of The Ocean. (It is, for the record, already a really long list. The monster shark that bit this shark is currently at the top of that list.)

Speaking of sharks, one in an aquarium in New Zealand gave another shark a c-section. Thank you, Dr. McSharky. WELL DONE.

And in other underwater news, did you know that octopuses make use of tools? Specifically, they turn halved coconut shells into personal armor. Fucking bad-ass, octopuses. I expect you to sign on as an armored division in the Great War of Jellyfish Eradication.

In case I haven't mentioned it before, crows are my favorite bird. In fact, they rank as one of my favorite animals of all time, because they are, as David Quammen once pointed out, the over-intelligent hoodlums of the animal world. Sure, they're incredibly clever, but they also choose to use their powers for evil rather than good, which I admire about them. So I was delighted to see this experiment in tool use, in which the crow must make use of multiple tools in order to retrieve a hidden snack. He's provided with several tubes (a series of tooobs, if you will), but the only thing inside them that he can reach is a small hooked stick, and it's not long enough to reach the food. Instead, he uses the small hook to retrieve a medium hook, and then the medium hook to retrieve the long hook, with which he can reach the food. Fucking awesome, crow. I probably couldn't have figured that out.

Hey, orb spider. You are an amazing artist, and I applaud your ingenuity with creating your own stunt doubles. That's fucking awesome, orb spider. You're still a spider, so I still find you creepy and terrifying, but you're also amazing.

This is an interesting article about how easy it may be to change an individual organism's sex on a genetic level. Really interesting and obvious implications for the future of sex-change therapies for transgenders, but I'm not quite sure why the author of this article seems so shocked that it could be this "easy" to change an animal's sex... we've seen other animals, frogs particularly, change their sex more or less spontaneously in response to environmental factors. It's not like this re-writes the whole of human knowledge or anything, even though it is awesome.

In other news, I think it's official at this point that Monsanto is the seething black heart of corporate evil. I don't think it's too much of a stretch to say that they are SkyNet and Umbrella Corporation and every world-ending unfeeling mega-entity ever imagined. And I hope they die. In a fire.
agentotter: (end of the world)
I will warn you, this blog post will enrage you. I mean, you won't be enraged at the blogger, you'll be enraged at the people she's enraged at. I hadn't even heard about this story previously, but to sum up: a 13-year-old girl suffered horrible bullying, discipline from her school, censure and punishment from her parents, and eventually killed herself. Her crime? She "sexted" a topless photo to a boy she liked. Naturally, kids and their "sexting" are at fault, not the legion of people who shamed, ostracized and punished this child for having boobs.

Here's something fucking awesome: Researchers at UCLA have created a genetically modified bacteria that turns CO2 into fuel. This kind of stuff is absolutely fascinating to me... this and the algae-powered fuels seem really promising. I have to admit to being a total cynic, though... I know that many of these technologies just don't work out for real-world applications, but for those that do (or would, if they were continued), I just can't imagine the US really making wide-spread use of them. It's too easy for big oil to kill anything they don't like. Possibly I've seen Who Killed the Electric Car? too many times and it's made me weep like a little girl, but whatever.

For those among us who have still chained themselves to the demon of bottled water (REPENT! REPENT!), here's a nice infographic about how fucked that is. Though I knew most of this already, what I found most striking were the stats about the production of the bottles... 17 million barrels of oil annually, plus it takes three times as much water as you're going to put into the bottle to actually make the bottle. Jesus Christ.

On a more cheerful note, I've probably linked to this before, but in case I haven't, you should have a look at the Hobbit House. It makes me happy just looking at it. I want to build one of my very own one day.

Here's Noam Chomsky on labor, and why dismissing the right is the wrong move:

So take right now, for example, there is a right-wing populist uprising. It's very common, even on the left, to just ridicule them, but that's not the right reaction. If you look at those people and listen to them on talk radio, these are people with real grievances. I listen to talk radio a lot and it's kind of interesting. If you can sort of suspend your knowledge of the world and just enter into the world of the people who are calling in, you can understand them. I've never seen a study, but my sense is that these are people who feel really aggrieved. These people think, "I've done everything right all my life, I'm a god-fearing Christian, I'm white, I'm male, I've worked hard, and I carry a gun. I do everything I'm supposed to do. And I'm getting shafted." And in fact they are getting shafted. For 30 years their wages have stagnated or declined, the social conditions have worsened, the children are going crazy, there are no schools, there's nothing, so somebody must be doing something to them, and they want to know who it is. Well Rush Limbaugh has answered - it's the rich liberals who own the banks and run the government, and of course run the media, and they don't care about you—they just want to give everything away to illegal immigrants and gays and communists and so on.

Well, you know, the reaction we should be having to them is not ridicule, but rather self-criticism. Why aren't we organizing them? I mean, we are the ones that ought to be organizing them, not Rush Limbaugh.


I love that man and his tasty, tasty brains.

Less tasty is Democracy Now! I know this is a kind of petty beef, but they've been on the air for a long time now. Amy Goodman's been reporting since the 1980s. So how is it that they still can't put a single show together without editing glitches, anchors talking over sound bytes, sound bytes running too long, anchors flubbing their lines, and a host of other problems? I mean, I'm not talking the occasional hilarious-typo-in-the-newspaper sort of thing. They can't get through five minutes of air time without fucking something up. And don't even get me started on how Amy Goodman was incapable of talking about the killing of Doctor Tiller without calling him Doctor Killer. I don't really feel like I'm asking for much... just a radio broadcast that doesn't sound like it's been put together by the high school A/V club.

That is all.
agentotter: a raven against stormy skies (Default)
Yeah, that's right. I'm going to post random shit today. Because that's how I roll. Here's Stephen Colbert's brilliant nuclear explosion:



Also among the things that delight me today: this comic and the state of Washington.
agentotter: a raven against stormy skies (Default)
Things that suck: Mondays, morning, work. (So basically the suck of today is Monday3.) Also, CAFFEINE WITHDRAWAL. OMG. I complained to Mal yesterday that I was having horrific headaches for no good reason, and she asked if I'd had caffeine.

....Oh.

This is why I keep weaning myself off the devil juice. It's not worth it on those days when you don't caffeinated yourself. Damn you, addiction. This time I need to kick it FOR GOOD OMG.

Things that do not suck: A pair of baby moose playing in a sprinkler.



That video is 100% guaranteed to make your day more awesome. YOU'RE WELCOME.

In other news, the Lady Washington, one of the tallships with which I am totally obsessed, assisted in the rescue of boaters in distress yesterday. Having to be rescued after your sailboat capsizes must not be fun at all, but imagine if the ship that spotted you and radioed for help was a 1750s-era tallship. I mean, my mind would be a little blown. :D

In other news, it's really ridiculously nice to have a job where I can bring my dog to work with me. He's currently snoozing under the window, and occasionally staring at me as if there really ought to be snacks involved in this process. <3
agentotter: (end of the world)
Okay, so I don't understand exactly what it is she's making or what you do with them, but this woman? My new hero. She replaced a process that used $100,000 fabricating machines with.... Shrinky-Dinks. No, I am not shitting you. She's custom-manufacturing high-tech devices in a matter of minutes using shrinky-dinks and a toaster oven. This technology can be used in stem cell research, and she also sees applications for making solar cells more efficient. She's like MacGyver, only super-hot and probably like... a million times smarter. In fact, she and MacGyver should have little MacGyver-like children, who will inevitably RULE THE WORLD.

This picture of the core of the Milky Way is ridiculously beautiful. I want to wallpaper a room with it so when you step inside it's like you're at the center of the galaxy. That would be so freaking awesome. Almost as awesome as actually being in space. Almost.

Smalleye stingrays are actually quite large when it comes to their other body parts, and a BBC camera crew has for the first time captured one on film. It doesn't seem all that impressive until the diver starts swimming next to it and you're all, "OMG WTF GIANT STINGRAY!"

Apparently scientists have discovered the gene that causes age-related hearing loss in humans and have managed to prevent hearing loss in older mice by removing that gene. I'm taking this as yet another sign that the cyberpunk novels of my youth were on the right track with the future of medical technology.

I should note for the record that I do not like coffee. At all. But I do like the insane designs that the world's "baristas" make with said coffee. For instance, the universe in a cup or this super bad-ass dragon. This has nothing to do with science really (well, it does, but only in the way that all everyday things somehow have something to do with science), but I wanted to share.

You should know that this is how everything goes to hell during a zombie apocalypse. This is only marginally science-related, in that it shows us how science will be the doom of us aaaaaalllll.
agentotter: a raven against stormy skies (Default)
I was prepared to say that this Transformers costume that actually transforms was the best Halloween/convention costume ever:



But then I discovered (via yootubez, of course) that apparently everybody's got one of these. Some are much lamer than others, and some are actually pretty intricate and I think at this point it's safe to say that there's a subculture. A whole subculture of people who, apparently in spite of the horror of badness it that is the latest films, still like the Transformers.

More power to you, people. Alls I know is, I want one of these. I will name it Carl and it will be my friend and I will tell it all my secrets. (I don't have any.) The end.
agentotter: a raven against stormy skies (Default)
Today, some news in politics:

Texas takes a step forward, whether they like it or not, as a Texas judge finds the ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional. Since the case was to hear whether a gay couple married in another state could legally divorce in Texas, this is a double blow against "traditional family values," because they're both gay and divorcing, which I'm sure puts them one step below Satan.

In Oklahoma, they've decided on a new anti-abortion tactic: people who get abortions will have their private medical data posted online for all the world to see. It's like wearing a scarlet letter or being placed on a sex offender registry. (Do not get me started on sex offender registries.)

A former employee of the Georgia General Assembly was fired when she announced her intention to undergo a sex change operation (from male to female). Now of course it's a court case, and the reason her boss gave for firing her? "It makes me think about things I don't like to think about, particularly at work ... I think it's unsettling to think of someone dressed in women's clothing with male sexual organs inside that clothing." Clearly this means that he prefers to think about male sexual organs in suit trousers. Or hot pants. God only knows, and the rest of us don't want to know. I hope Ms. Glenn is awarded a ridiculously large sum of money.

And finally, a short opinion piece from ME. I keep hearing same phrase from Fox News and pundits and whatnot about what "the majority of Americans" want. As far as I can tell, "the majority of Americans" in this case is a secret code for "the majority of white people who share my opinions." Don't worry, though, it isn't an outright lie: they're right about "the majority of Americans" because if you're not white and rich they don't really count you as an American and you should go back to Africa or Armenia or wherever you came from that isn't here (or England). Clearly. Anyway, as far as I can tell, the majority of Americans made Barack Obama the president, and the majority of Americans voted in a Democratic majority and the majority of Americans are for not dying and not going bankrupt.

But that's incidental, really. There are good reasons why we're not supposed to have a "majority rule" system. Say the majority of Americans don't think gay people should be able to get married. (I don't know what the actual numbers are.) Does that mean outlawing gay marriage is okay? How about if the majority of people think that blacks shouldn't be able to marry whites? How about if the majority of people think we should open up internment camps and put all the Muslims in them?

Some days I think when you say "the majority of Americans" that you're talking about a good and hard-working and self-sacrificing people. And some days I think when you say "the majority of Americans" that you're talking about a frightened, reactionary, gullible, selfish and violent nation which knows neither its own history nor its own future, and has no care for either.

I don't known about "the majority of Americans," conservative pundits. And I suspect any statistics which tell me what Americans think without telling me what group of Americans you asked and what questions you put to them. But I like to think that the majority of Americans don't want to see little children die because their parents can't afford to take them to the doctor. I like to think that the majority of Americans would like to live in a world where their twenty or forty or sixty years of toil and struggle and slow accumulation of wealth that affords them a comfortable lifestyle (if indeed the majority of Americans had a comfortable or even middle-class lifestyle, which they don't) couldn't be erased in an instant by billionaire bankers and insurance companies. I like to think that the majority of Americans would like to help each other and that they'd rather not have a system where achievement is measured by proficiency in fucking over your fellow man.

Maybe that's foolish and naive of me. Maybe it makes me a socialist. But at least it doesn't make me an asshole who thinks that "the majority of Americans" believe whatever cable news tells them to believe.
agentotter: (one of those days)
For those of you who haven't read it, you should be aware that Douglas Adams (yes, that Douglas Adams) and Mark Carwardine wrote a book twenty years ago called Last Chance to See. In it, they embarked on a journey around the globe to find and observe rare creatures which were on the brink of extinction. (If I'm remembering correctly, at least one of the animals they discuss in the book -- the river dolphin in China -- is now considered extinct.) This book is a tour-de-force, as they say, not just because it's terribly interesting but because, being written by Adams, it's terribly funny. Their misadventures are legion. There's a lot of discussion about the human social factors that are causing species extinctions, which I think is the most important factor of what has to be changed, especially in the developing world. This book was given to me by two separate people who told me that I would love it (they were right), and it is a cherished volume in my life.

Which is why I'm so delighted that the BBC has created a television documentary version of same, with Mark Carwardine and Stephen Fry. They went out into the world, found native animals... and were fucked by them. I can't help it, this video clip is reducing me to fits of hysterics. Oh, Mark Carwardine. The things you'll do for science.



And now, in other nature and science news...

You know, chimps really get the best of both worlds. I mean, they're animals, but they really and truly aren't that far off from human beings. (Poor things.) Case in point: this chimp shows us that animals are capable of premeditation. And by that I mean that they, like humans, can quietly make a plan, fashion and stockpile weapons, and then mess your shit up. It makes me sound kind of awful, but I think this story is awesome.

It's not the awesomest thing I've ever seen, though. I think that prize might go (for the moment, anyway, until I find some new awesomest thing ever) to this dolphin. It's official, you guys. Dolphins are the most bad-ass creatures ever.

In holy-shit-how-did-they-do-that news, some science types seem to have a cure for colorblindness. Holy shit, how did they do that?

In other news, oh my god you guys, I don't know how I'm still alive after watching these baby pandas playing on playground equipment.

Here's a cool new kind of solar panel that doesn't need direct sunlight. It's not like... groundbreaking or anything, and the efficiency still isn't what it should be for widespread use, but I think these kinds of things are a sign that we're getting there.

Alright, I can't resist it. Here's another clip from Last Chance to See, proving once again that Aye-Ayes are the most freaky-looking animals EVER:



I hope you all are having a nice stress-free Friday. I need a nap and some caffeine, but I can't have either, so I'm just sitting here staring at Aye-Ayes like an idiot. It's awesome.
agentotter: a raven against stormy skies (Default)
Did you know that Eddie Izzard decided to become a marathon runner for charity? Did you know that he ran 43 marathons in 51 days? Do you know that that makes me feel like the laziest person on the planet? Have you seen Run, Fatboy, Run, and if so do you think that Eddie found it inspiring? Did you know that Eddie will be touring in the US and Canada in 2010? (I'm sure those of you in the UK already know about the UK and European dates.) I looked at tickets for Oakland, but I'm not made of money, so I refrained. I still love you, Eddie. I do.

Anyway, I'll be getting enough of entertainment. Mal and I are going to see Great Big Sea and Mark Knopfler in concert. Er, not at the same show, though. That would certainly have been something.

Speaking of music, have any of you heard this guy Ashley MacIsaac? He's insanely good. He's so good I almost cried. And then I googled him and found pictures of him kissing his husband and then I maybe did tear up a little. CANADA, HOW ARE YOU SO AWESOME?

In less awesome news, I was reading this and it was both awesome and made me want to cry. I got the part with a picture of a protester holding a sign that said "Keep Waterboarding" and went on to suggest that we use it on, among others I couldn't actually read, Nancy Pelosi. And it gave me a GREAT IDEA. Here it is: next time one of these rallies is held, let's hire some former military interrogator who knows how to do a "proper" job of waterboarding. We'll set up a booth and put a sign up that says "FREE WATERBOARDING!" And then we'll just sit back and wait for the pro-torture advocates to flood in. Because if you're for torture, you must be for BEING tortured! I'm pretty sure that's a rule. We'll be totally busy, and when things really pick up, we can start charging $5 a pop and make a mint. Fuck yeah.
agentotter: a raven against stormy skies (Default)
Welsh officials finally heed my warning, telling beach-goers to watch out for devious deadly jellyfish-things. Good on you, Wales, for listening to me before it's too late.

Speaking of which, in case you haven't seen them yet, you should check out these killer pictures of ice jellies from the deep Arctic oceans. What the articles about these findings don't say is that the deep Arctic oceans are probably home of the secret jellyfish base from which great jellyfish armies will eventually spread across the earth and KILL US ALL. So really, you should look at the pictures for know-thy-enemy sort of reasons.

Also, apparently crested pigeons create a whistling alarm sound with their wings when they take off, which alerts other pigeons to danger. It's not really jellyfish-related, but it is interesting.

Here's a pretty little animated short about evolution:

A Record Of Life from Owen Gatley on Vimeo.



In completely unrelated news, the tall ship Hawaiian Chieftain will be sailing these local waters in the spring, and yours truly has booked a ticket. Unfortunately the Lady Washington won't be sailing with them as usual, but next year maybe they'll both be back and I can book a battle sail. I am excited like an excited thing, and keep telling myself that motion sickness is a mind disease. I CAN OVERCOME IT FOR A LIFE ON THE SEA, MATEYS. Or at least I can eat a lot of ginger and take a dramamine. Whatever. It's gonna be so awesome.
agentotter: (one of those days)
How's your day going, flist? Mine's shitty, overall. I did get to learn to jump-start a dead battery, though. And I got my cardio by chasing our new foster dog (did I mention we have a foster dog? She's kyoot) down the office stairs and into the carpet warehouse downstairs. (Did I mention I had a foster dog in my office? Dog-friendly workplaces RULE.)

In other news, I fucking love Misha Collins and his completely reasonable and utterly compelling advice about writing essays.

And now, I want to tell you something about health care reform. And because I suspect I'm preaching to the choir, I'll keep it short and sweet. Americans, this is the reality of our health care system: we live in a society where in order for a child to get cancer treatment, you have to hold a bake sale. And a benefit concert. And take out a fourth mortgage on your house. And probably your kid will still die and by the way, you're going to lose your house and be financially ruined and uninsurable forever.

I honestly don't think that any country in which the populace thinks it's appropriate to fund a child's chemotherapy with a bake sale can really qualify for world-leader status in anything. Unless you're talking about "world leader in denying medical care to everyone."

Senator Coburn told this woman that if she wants medical care, she should turn to her neighbors, not her government. That's funny, I thought my government was supposed to be of, by, and for the people, so doesn't that make my government my neighbors? By this logic -- our current logic -- the only people who would be afforded health care are the ones who live in a row of McMansions and are extremely popular with the ladies' social club, while poor people get to just die like the worthless human beings we clearly are.

Oh. Wait. I see what he did there. Well played, Coburn. WELL PLAYED.

Here's somebody else talking about how insurance companies bury people in bureaucracy to try to keep from paying out on "covered benefits." This is very similar to my own experience, which is why a) I avoid getting anything treated ever, even when I'm actually insured, because insurance never covers as much as you think it will -- if it covers anything at all -- and you get stuck with the bill; and b) why my credit is still, to this day, shit.

Okay, it wasn't as short as I promised. WHATEVER. I promise to post something more entertaining. Like pictures of the dog. HER NAME IS RAVEN AND SHE WANTS YOU TO KISS HER NOSE.
agentotter: a raven against stormy skies (Default)
You know, I tried to warn you about the jellyfish. And you all went, "Oh, Christ, here she goes about the jellyfish again," but you know what? When the giant fucking jellyfish take over the world, you can't say I didn't warn you.

In case you were wondering, as I know you do, "Why is it that there are never any stories about bad-ass newts?" your time has finally come. This newt uses its own ribs as deadly weapons. No, I am not shitting you. Oh, and did I mention that it also makes itself poisonous? Yeah. Because it's just that awesome.

Glowing bomber worms. That's all I'm going to say. You're intrigued now, aren't you? Admit it. It's just like that time on Firefly, with the crybaby. Or something. Awesome.

Researchers in France have apparently found a landing strip for pterosaurs. From which I am forced to conclude that Myfanwy has a summer home in France.

In Six Million Dollar Man news, a Japanese inventor has created exoskeletons for people with disabilities. Their example case is a guy whose left leg was withered by polio, and there's even a photo of people using them. They're also about to ship a set of exoskeletons to Denmark for use by nurses who care for the elderly; the exoskeletons will enable them to lift and carry people easier. For added scifi coolness, the company distributing these devices is called Cyberdyne and the device itself is called "HAL." Which means this will probably all end in tears. And possibly an invasion of Terminator-Cybermen. But in the meantime, it's one of the coolest fucking things I've ever seen.

And finally, I would like you to know that I have finally joined this century and figured out how to subscribe to feeds. (I am, quite possibly, the last person in the world to use feeds.) I am deliriously happy with this development. Just FYI.
agentotter: a raven against stormy skies (Default)
I am in love with every single one of these people.

agentotter: a raven against stormy skies (Default)
Here now for your entertainment is a much more enjoyable form of the linkspam: bioblogging! w000000t!

Science has proved Aesop's fable, "The Crow and the Pitcher." Researchers offer crows a juicy worm in a pitcher of water, crows drop pebbles into the pitcher until the water level rises enough for them to snatch the worm. I fucking love crows, man. They're smart little fuckers.

Here's a cool bit of bio news: orangutans use leaves to fashion "musical instruments." Apparently the point of it is that using the leaves lowers the pitch of their call, making them sound like bigger orangutans than they actually are, and in theory making predators think twice about coming to eat them.

This one I have to link not so much for the information -- which is interesting, but I'm not really a botany enthusiast, so it's not interesting enough on its own -- as for the hilarity. The Fruit Is A Lie, a post about what is and is not technically a "fruit."

And while we're on the subject of plants, here are some fucking massive ones that eat meat. It's a pitcher plant so big it catches rats, you guys. Coming next week on the "SyFy" channel: Pitcher Plant vs. Venus Fly Trap II: Ultramegadeath Showdown! And for an added dose of cool? They named it after David Attenborough.

Something else to add to the list of cool: this venomous sea snake uses its tail to fake out predators. While it's got the business end of its venomy head down in a crevasse looking for noms, it holds its tail in a manner that makes the tail look like a head. You're fucking awesome, venomous sea snake. I mean, assuming you're not in league with the jellyfish.

By the way, if you didn't check out Fuck You, Penguin from the last time I linked it, you definitely should now. Not that anything significant has changed or anything, just that you really don't want to miss this. At all.
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Here's a robot. And it's running. And if that wasn't enough, there's this quadrupedal pack robot. My favorite bit is where the guy kicks it and its rights itself, though that may make me technically a robosadist. Next stop? Michael Biehn shows up naked and with 80s hair, tells you, "Come with me if you want to live." You give props to him for best pick-up line you've ever heard, until it turns out he wants to save you from killer robots. Talk about disappointment.

Speaking of robots, here's text from a 1954 high school home ec textbook about how to be a good wife. I will warn you, it may make you want to vomit and/or throw your computer through a window. Seriously, the fact that women were putting up with this shit as recently as 1954 makes me want to weep. The fact that so many women still live this way causes my incandescent rage to reach critical world-destroying mass.

On a more deeply depressing note, this guy got six months in prison for yawning. No, that isn't hyperbole. He literally yawned and was sentenced essentially for contempt. God help the sufferer of Tourette's Syndrome who goes before this justice.

And here are some health-care-debate related links, in case you're interested. I wouldn't blame you for skipping them, though. Politics hurts enough; add something I actually have a vested interest in, and you have the perfect storm to make me cry like a little girl.

As you all know, the best system of health care is a free market system -- that is, allowing healthy competition to keep costs down. Like for instance, if your insurance company wanted to hike your rates by 16.4%, you might say to yourself, "Hey, fuck that noise!" and solicit bids from other insurers to look for a cheaper option. Fear of losing your business will prompt your original insurer to check themselves before they wreck themselves. It's a perfect system! You solicit your bids, you find a cheaper insurer, you switch to them, your old insurance company sues you for not liking them anymore, and everybody wins! I mean, you're not only keeping corporate health care alive, you're also contributing to the economy by paying lawyers and clerks and judges and a whole 'nother sector of the economy! Brilliant!

Meanwhile, an anchor on CNN takes an anti-reform health care CEO to the table and PWNs.

I like the pointers in this blog about how to handle "astroturf" hecklers at town hall meetings. I don't know how effective any of it is, but I like the "astroturf" part. It makes me lol.

The Washington Post offers an editorial on propagating falsehoods to stop health care reform. Preach it! There's another good editorial from Paul Krugman at the New York Times.

From commondreams.org: the health care debate has only just begun. Well, that's comforting. What happens when like... Janet Jackson dies this time and the whole country goes into mourning and suddenly we don't need health care reform so much as we need a ten-hour retrospective?

Obama open to health care cooperatives. It's an interesting idea, and certainly a step up, but I really don't think anything's going to pull us from the doldrums except a single-payer system. Which we'll never get, because we're idiots.

The health care debate makes me a sad panda. Mostly because I don't feel it should be a debate. But whatever. this is all way too heavy for me. Next I shall post something entertaining. For realz.
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Here are a few videos to expand your consciousness and carry forward the debate and WHATEVER:
* Craig Ferguson explains the main problem with everything: the deification of youth. Further proving that Craig Ferguson is a GENIUS.
* Keith Olbermann's special comment on health care reform, in which he tells us exactly who owns our representatives and how much it cost. I liked a fellow redditor's suggestion that we ought to start having our representatives start wearing Nascar-style jackets with all of their corporate sponsors' logos on them. It would make things so much simpler.
* Also on my list of awesome people: Rachel Maddow. Case in point: Rachel Maddow on health care reform and lobbyist strategists staging disruptions of town hall meetings. Because clearly the way to get your way, when you haven't got a leg to stand on with your own argument, is to make debate impossible.

And now, in other news:

Okay, I officially give up at art. This fucking six-year-old is better than me. There's no hope. Now I have to go die drunk and destitute in a gutter.

Now that we've got that out of the way, would you like to see the cutest thing ever? I thought maybe you would. Witness: bobcat kitten befriends fawn. And BOW TO THE GLORY OF THEIR SNUGGLEABLENESS.

Or don't. Not if you're a fan of Fuck You, Penguin, my new favorite blog where the author tells cute animals what's what. I laughed so hard I almost died. No, literally. I nearly choked on this delicious, delicious maple donut. My only regret with this website is that somebody else thought of it first.

In other news from the animal world, this free diver nearly drowned and was saved by a beluga whale. Oh, creatures of the sea. You're so smart, it actually scares me. Are you in league with the jellyfish? ARE YOU?!

To be added to the list of places I'd like to see before I die (not that I'll be going there anytime soon, mind you): the underground city of Kiraz, in Iran. Holy epic, Batman! Oh, early Persians. You're so awesome.

And here's one I just can't resist: Jensen and Jared. I KNOW I KNOW WHERE ARE THE STARGATES. That's what you're all wondering, because that's how I lured you all in here, right? But you guys, it's a Jensen/Jared high school AU VID. And okay, it should've been at least a minute shorter and it's not exactly the most exciting video you ever saw (it is NSFW, though, what with the porn), but man, I'm constantly blown away by what vidders can do with a little artistic editing. They can make Dean Winchester a serial killer (okay, he actually kind of is already, but I mean a serial killer of regular people), make Jensen and Jared high school boyfriends, make my little heart go pitty-patter, etc. Astounding!

And here's a news item for you that's kind of creepy. Admittedly, though I was a big X-Files fan back in the day, I didn't watch the spin-off The Lone Gunmen when it was on -- I think they should've let the Wong Bros. kill them in "Musings of a Cigarette Smoking Man" like they wanted to, that would've been awesome, and though I was actually into those characters I didn't think there was enough to them to make an entire show... it'd sort of be like Ghostfacers: The Series -- so I missed this. And apparently so did like... everybody else? The pilot episode predicts a 9/11 scenario. That's disturbing me. It also makes me laugh and laugh when I see those old clips of the previous administration talking about how they never could've anticipated what happened, because believe me, people... if Chris Carter can imagine it, so can you. STFU.
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HELLO THERE. Here are some things to entertain you.

The quick brown fox does, indeed, jump over the lazy dog.

A native of Amsterdam has composed a response to Bill O'Reilly's assertion that Amsterdam is a "cesspool." I love you, interwebs. One day you'll connect enough people that Americans will realize we're being fed a load of hyperpatriotic bullshit.

Conan O'Brien has decided that the reason Sarah Palin's farewell speech didn't make sense was because it's actually poetry, not a speech. He had William Shatner come on and perform it as such. Snaps! I must admit, it is actually kind of enjoyable that way. ILU, Shatner.

You know who I also love? Jon Stewart. Jon Stewart destroying Bill Kristol and all he stands for.

Meanwhile, no doubt completely ignoring these shenanigans in a Rodney McKay-like display of scientific focus, scientists at Oxford have created transparent aluminium and are calling it a "new state of matter". It's fucking wild, you guys. Some days I read something like that -- or that apparently the blue dye in M&Ms can help heal spinal injuries -- and I realize that we are, in fact, living in science fiction. I mean, we're living in that sort of dystopian science fiction where a few rich people have incredible gadgets and the rest of us are shooting up on high-tech drugs and living on the street and killing each other, but WHATEVER. (Oh, and did I mention the bacteria computer? HOLY SHIT.)
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For anybody who missed it or only saw the edited aired version, the complete Jon Stewart and Mike Huckabee debate on abortion is here. It's nice to see civilized discourse on the issue, though I do think the real problem here is that even with a debate like this, where they're both earnestly trying to discuss without becoming inflammatory, to a certain extent they just don't even understand each other's arguments. (Okay, I'm going to take sides and say that Huckabee doesn't seem to understand Stewart's arguments. He just sort of carries on with his message no matter what Jon says.)

The maddest of props to Jon Stewart not only for doing IMO a great job of presenting his side of the argument, but also for pointing out from the outset that once again they're debating an issue which doesn't touch either of them. (Last time it was gay marriage.) I do think it's too bad that Jon couldn't truly make his point about in-vitro fertilization because apparently Huckabee has no idea how it's done. (For every successful IVF there are a ridiculous number of fertilized eggs -- which by Huckabee's definition are human beings which should be afforded equal protection under the law -- which are unneeded and are discarded. I think that's where Jon was going with the argument, but got sidetracked by the fact that embryonic experiments were needed to make IVF even possible.)

Anyway, it's good and you should watch it. But not if you're easily enraged or anything, because you might want to punch somebody. (Not Jon, though. You can punch Huckabee, but Stewart is under my protection.)

In related news, apparently the Obama administration's legal team is arguing that the law needs to protect Cheney from... The Daily Show? Yes, because the people we really need to protect are our politicians. From... comedians. And basically, the rest of the world will get what's coming to it.

I'm not even going to get into how deeply and profoundly disappointed I am with a lot of what this administration's doing. Change, my ass. This is why I can never bring myself to get involved or volunteer for political causes: because I'm not sure that a politician exists who doesn't turn out to be kind of an asshat in the end. I'm not expecting perfection, here. Just a little moral uprightness would be nice. Perhaps in future the President can stop before making a major decision and think to himself... "What would Benton Fraser do?"

In other news, have you ever noticed how The Postal Service and Death Cab for Cutie and The Decemberists occasionally all sound like the same band? I have.

Additionally, how come none of this made it into that silly Jared Padalecki movie? Oh, Thomas Kincade, you're such a douchebag. You totally didn't deserve to be portrayed by somebody as adorable as Jared Padalecki, for srs.

THE END.
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