Wednesday, December 31, 2008

For the record: I support Sea Shepherd

Over at the Born Animal blog, a lively discussion has erupted over a post on Sea Sheperd and "Whale Wars." It got me rolling, and I found myself firing off a comment of my own.

In essence, I get very tired of people expecting activists and direct-action organizations to be perfect. The hackneyed example: did Martin Luther King sleep around? WTF do I care -- look at the amazing contribution he made to American society. I could care LESS what he did on his own time.

Is Sea Shepherd grandstanding? Are all their facts straight? What the hell do I care? Their actions are working, directly saving the lives of endangered and threatened species. They are also generating awareness and discussion. Plus, they only go after illegal whaling operations, this is not legitimate business we're talking about.

Besides, if the Dalai Lama is behind them, come on people.

So, here is my comment on the above post, it's probably too hot headed and not well thought out, but C'est La Vie. Below that is some video of Sea Shepherd doing their thing if you don't want to make the jump:

I fully support what Sea Shepherd is doing. It's unfortunate that they aren't perfect, saints, and paragons of human ethics and conduct -- but I simply don't care. Those whales are alive, and wouldn't be if it weren't for their presence.

When folks accuse activists for not being perfectly ethical, I always cringe. No one is perfect, no organization is perfect. What I'm interested in is what is the overall, over-arching effect of their presence? That's the question I'm interested in. This year, approximately 500 more whales in the world that weren't illegally killed. That's dandy by me.

As for the argument against direct action proposed by Lynn -- I say keep Sea Shepherd out there doing their thing AND close the loophole.

The way polluters and poachers work is they clog up resistance to their actions (even if illegal) long enough to commit more crime while the courts and diplomats are bogged down with procedure. meanwhile, irreplaceable natural resources are lost forever.

A perfect example is a prime stand of Oregon old-growth forest was cut down on a holiday when the court hadn't yet put a stop on the sale. Those trees are gone forever, because people depended on procedure and protocol.

I think all avenues need to be pursued, not just diplomacy and education. Whale populations get low enough while we wait on this cultural shift to occur, and they'll enter the extinction vortex and be gone forever, we can't afford that.

Enjoy getting your blood boiling occasionally, I am pretty sure it means you've still got a pulse,


[image via Sea Shepherd official website]

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Mythbusters gagged by credit card companies over RFID episode

Remember back in March, when I posted instructions on how to hack RFID credit cards and get all their information from a distance of up to 40' or more? Apparently Mythbusters was going to investigate this as a possible urban myth in an episode, and the big boys really REALLY didn't want that. Adam Savage talks about it in the video below, here is a quote:

Texas Instruments comes on along with chief legal counsel for American Express, Visa, Discover, and everybody else... They were way, way outgunned and they absolutely made it really clear to Discovery that they were not going to air this episode talking about how hackable this stuff was, and Discovery backed way down being a large corporation that depends upon the revenue of the advertisers. Now it's on Discovery's radar and they won't let us go near it.

Enjoy the legal immune response from large monsters about their vulnerabilities, like the soft spot in Smaug's belly,


[via Anton of the North, picture credit in linked article]

Monday, December 29, 2008

Swedish boy finds Scads of Medieval coins

How psyched is that little guy eh? He and his grandpa were kicking around in Southern Sweden, checking out the site of the Battle of Lund, when he spotted some verdigris covered coins. It turns out there were a lot more where that came from.

This is probably the largest silver coin find in Sweden. The local heritage board came to the site later and found two clay vessels filled with more coins, 7,000 more. Apparently they are from England and Denmark, dating back to 1300 AD. This find may double the amount of English coins found in Sweden to date.

Enjoy a little numismatic news for your Monday morning,


[original tip via my faithful Canunikstani operative "Yuri," picture credit in article]

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Saturday Morning Awesome -- Pug Bowling

Welcome to the second, or possibly third, installment of the Weekend Awesome. I'll let the video speak for itself. [note: it's worth having the sound on -- somehow the Gypsy Kings covering Hotel California is very apropos]

Pug Bowling - Watch more Entertainment

Enjoy intartube awesomeness in its myriad and amazing forms,


The strange and unexpected connections made on the intarweb

I recently received one of those "out of the blue" emails that I occasionally get related to this blog. A nice lady from the American Association of Acupuncture & Oriental Medicine contacted me regarding my statement of "recovering electrician" in my Bio. She has electrician types in her family and wondered if there were interesting or hair raising stories associated with this phrase that I would be willing to relate.

It turns out that part of this lady's job is searching out any reference to oriental medicine or acupuncture on the web and checking out the content. My blog popped up in her search, and one thing led to another.

It is a trip to think that my few mentions of acupuncture in this blog tagged it in a way that it could possibly now be part of the national (or international) conversation about this subject. I'm sure you'd have to dig to find the blog, but this lady did, and did find me. The mind spins at how the intartubes are changing our societal discourse. I couldn't possibly imagine trying to catalog or quantify the amount of change and novelty that is being produced this way.

Here is part of my long-winded response to her query, for those of you who are interested:

So, the "recovering electrician" comment is a tongue-in-cheek statement, because I'm changing careers due to really not liking that job much.

However, there is more to the story, and since it seems you (look to be) a health care practitioner, I'll relate it.

When I still had awesome Union insurance, I went to a naturopath/acupuncturist here in Portland named Bernie Bayard. He's phenomenal. He used to joke that he was using me as a guinea pig for checking out the effects of multiple electrical shocks on the human system. Since I was primarily a service electrician, I almost always worked in inhabited houses -- doing repair and trouble shooting. That kind of work is almost always done hot, because it's less disruptive to the client and for troubleshooting, it's just way more informative. I got shocked as often as once a month. [for those of you concerned about this statement, know that it was almost always "small" and in my hand only, not big electrocutions going through my torso or anything]

Back in the day, in the 30's, electricians used to test circuits with their fingers. Even the national electrical code had instructions for how to do this. Many of these men ended their life with a severe palsey, because their nerves were literally fried. Since nerves are our electrical conductors in the body, I believe that's where the resistance is least and so when we get shocked they take the brunt of the force. That's my non-scientific opinion of course.

As for funny stories, I have so many that my wife wants me to write a book of short stories (named "Electrical Shorts" of course) about the bizarre, scary, and humorous events that happened during my career as a service electrician.

Enjoy the novel connections that seemingly harmless online activity can produce,


[image courtesy of wiki commons]

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Christmas Random

Awesomely cute picture, both cute AND wrong, how can you beat that?

Guess what this new baby at the Detroit Zoo is. Might be easy for some of you, but maybe not, we'll see.

Enjoy Christmas puzzlers,


[via Uncle Ted; and for those of you who want more info or can't handle the suspense, here is the zoo article and picture credit]

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Little Dudes: Siphonophores

Not only is the music and the window'd in "viewer" strange in this video, but the little dude is as well. It looks like a living Chihuly glass piece. It's not, its actually a Siphonophore.

What is a siphonophore, you ask? Well, here is the Wiki on them (if I beat you to it). Essentially, it's a colony of jellyfish-like organisms living together that look like one organism. The most famous is the dreaded Portuguese Man o'War, a beautiful but very poisonous little dude that hangs out in most all of the world's warm seas.

This little fellow was filmed at great depth, but as of yet I haven't found any more information on this particular one.

Enjoy a "little dudes" post that is probably a bit mis-labeled,


[video via my faithful Canukistani operative "Yuri"]

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Vice Versus Vote -- an illustrated rubric

In case anyone was wondering where our national priorities are -- here is a fantastically clear illustration comparing gambling and voting laws and regulations. Bravo to the Washington Post for posting it.

[remember to click the image for a larger version if you need more detail]

Enjoy having it laid out nice and simple-like for you,


[via the Political Irony blog]

Robin Williams on Obama, Bush, Palin

Some recent footage of Robin talking about American politics. Get past the beginning, it's worth the wait.

Enjoy the funnies,


[via my Mom]

Driving conditions to PDX airport

I just hauled Canukistani Kate to PDX airport in the Subaru, around 4 AM. Other than our block specifically, the drive was easy peasy. But you'd never know that from our side street (most side streets). The snow is deep and slippery, and I needed the all wheel drive to get out without sliding into parked cars. The freeways, however, are quite clear and open. The main streets in town are plowed flat and drivable with AWD or TWD and chains.

The airport was bustling and as far as we could tell the planes were moving just fine.

Good luck on your holiday traveling,


Monday, December 22, 2008

Beautiful photoset of Mount Mabu

My friend Babs sent me a link to this photoset of Mt. Mabu exploration in Mozambique. It has been relatively un-studied and promises to contain many biological treasures. Check out that little dude in the second photo there, gorgeous.

Enjoy the planet showering us with new living beauties, still,


[photo credits in linked slideshow]

Amazing coincidence: Bush/Rove rigged election whistleblower dies in plane crash

In an amazing coincidence, potential whistleblower Michael Connell dies in plane crash, here is a teaser from the yahoo news blurb:

WASHINGTON, Dec. 20 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Michael Connell, the Bush IT expert who has been directly implicated in the rigging of George Bush's 2000 and 2004 elections, was killed last night when his single engine plane crashed three miles short of the Akron airport. Velvet Revolution ("VR"), a non-profit that has been investigating Mr. Connell's activities for the past two years, can now reveal that a person close to Mr. Connell has recently been discussing with a VR investigator how he can tell all about his work for George Bush. Mr. Connell told a close associate that he was afraid that George Bush and Dick Cheney would "throw [him] under the bus."

In the Raw Story piece, they go so far as to say Connell was "set to testify in a case alleging GOP election tampering in Ohio."

Again, I'm sure this is just a lucky break for the Rove/Cheney/Bush camp. Pure coincidence, really.


[story tip via Canukistani Kate, photo credit in Raw Story article]

Sunday, December 21, 2008

How all Portland drivers think of other Portland drivers when it's snowy

Here is the famous video. This guy/gal seems to be in a rage or out of their mind, as they are completely gunning the engine as they reap destruction. Not normal behavior at all.

Complaining about other drivers is one of the top activities when the weather is like this in Portland. But to be honest, once the roads got really bad yesterday, I found people to be quite considerate and careful on the routes I was driving.

And, regardless of reality, here is the video from 2004 that set the nation's minds about Portland winter drivers -- it's a peach, really:

Enjoy holing up,


[video find via A Girl and Her Cat]

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Saturday Morning Awesome -- Lobster Knife Fight

Weekends on this blog may become all about The Awesome. After that folk video last weekend, the theme sort of insisted itself.

Just in case, here's a start:

Enjoy finding fun things to do on those low-traffic days,


[image from]

Friday, December 19, 2008

And to lighten the mood, here is a picture of a giant, ridable, mechanical spider

What more to say, from the's 2008 in photographs spread:

I still say screw Cheney, the ass.


[via Shadley, image credits in linked article]

Cheney flaunts immunity

Cheney admitted publicly to ordering war crimes. In this Truthout article, they quote his ABC News interview:

Cheney replied, "I was aware of the program, certainly, and involved in helping get the process cleared."

Now he's just fucking with us. Flaunting the fact that he's above the law.



Thursday, December 18, 2008

Breakdancing taken to a new level when I wasn't looking

Ok I'm not on top of these things, but where the hell did this kid come from? I'm sure some laws of both physics and anatomy have been broken here. Amazing stuff.

His name is "Junior" and he's from France. Word has it this was a Redbull sponsored event, but I don't know much more.

I chose this video because it's quick and edited down to high points. If you want to see more, however, check out Junior vs. Darkness in this clip, they're both out of sight (even if the cameraman is thoroughly sub par).

Enjoy watching folks do impossible things, and not have it inside the ring of Cirque Du Soliel,


[via Blame it on the Voices]

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

An object lesson on socialism, bailouts and recession

"There are no athiests in foxholes, and there are no Libertarians in financial crises."
--Paul Krugman

Just remember, it's not socialism if the money goes to the rich.

[remember to click on the image so you can read the fine print]

Enjoy the biggest flip flops of all political time from the "anti-welfare, pull-yourself-up-by-your-bootstraps" neocon folks,


[quote via MSNBC, photo uncredited at Pixdaus supplied by Estu]

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Little Dudes: Turritopsis nutricula, the "immortal" jellyfish

According to a ZME Science article, this handsome little fellow has a bizarre life-cycle wherein it reverts to an immature, colonial stage after reaching sexual maturity, then mature adults can reform from that colony. The intarweb loves this idea because it looks like immortality. However, from what I can see (and this is with a quick scan of the resources) the individuals may, in fact, die but the colony from which they spring doesn't. Hey it's close enough in my book.

All hail the immortal Hydrozoan!

Enjoy chances for science articles to spawn glamorous-sounding and overstated headlines,


[tip via Erin, photo credit in linked article]

Monday, December 15, 2008

Rethink the shark

I was cruising one of my favorite blogs The Chumslick, and found this awesome advertisement in defense of sharks. Kudos to the Save Our Seas Foundation for coming up with such a cogent and effective education campaign.

Enjoy seeing something done right on the tube,


Sunday, December 14, 2008

Apparently this is the Sunday about Awesomeness in Video

Here is the video showing an Iraqi journalist throwing shoes and insults at the Resident. However, unlike most videos, this one shows translations of what he said, and lets you know what an intense insult this action is in that culture.

Man, can you imagine how cathartic that was.

Enjoy living vicariously through the actions of others, and give at least a minute of thought/silence for how this guy's now going to be treated by authorities,


This video is full of awesome

My faithful Canukistani operative "Yuri" sent me this video in an effort to help me better understand the quaint and humanistic culture from whose loins he sprung. It is so full of awesome I had to share it.

Welcome to Canukistani Folk Music.

Enjoy times past when men wore their shirts a bit too tight, with bandannas tied around their necks like an ascott to sing baudy songs in fisherman's shanties in the far north,


Ps/Addendum: After extensive video analysis we have determined that the man with the bad neck kerchief is Dennis Quaid. Tell me I'm wrong -- check out 1:08 on that video and tell me different.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Newest parenting hysteria -- NUTS!

Here is a hilarious article (and kinda scary, actually) from The Register, where a Harvard professor calls a spade a spade regarding the crazy hysterics coming from parents and institutions about nut allergies and children.

It's funnier than it sounds, honest. Here is some teaser text:

A Harvard professor of medical sociology has agreeably warned that increasing hysteria over nut allergies in kids bears the hallmarks of mass psychogenic illness (MPI) - described as "a social network phenomenon involving otherwise healthy people in a cascade of anxiety".

Writing in the British Medical Journal, Nicholas A Christakis cites the extreme example of when a potentially fatal peanut was "spotted on the floor of a school bus, whereupon the bus was evacuated and cleaned (I am tempted to say decontaminated), even though it was full of 10-year-olds who, unlike two-year-olds, could actually be told not to eat food off the floor".

He also explains the case of one of his own kid's school, which indulges in the traditional ritual of selling wrapping paper and candy to raise funds. He says: "This year parents in our school were told that they could no longer pick up their purchases from their children’s classrooms. Instead they had to pick up their orders from a loading dock at specified times, to avoid a danger to the children."

He continues: "The danger? Some of the orders contained sealed tins of festive nuts. Out of an overabundance of caution the school decided not to allow any of the items on the premises."

Enjoy the newest thing to freak out about, it's gotta be something I guess,


[via Uncle Ted]

Friday, December 12, 2008

Biggest full moon of the year tonight, make sure to check it out

A 14% bigger and 30% brighter moon will be gracing our skies tonight. It is over 17K miles closer. The NASA article here talks about it a bit. Worth noting.

Enjoy being warned of important celestial events,


[via Estu, image credit in NASA article]

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Little Dudes: the "purple" frog of Western India

Check this guy out. Nasikabatrachus sahyadrensis, otherwise known as the Purple Frog or Pignose Frog was only discovered in 2003. It is endangered, and limited to a very small geographic region of SW India. It is one of the many animals commonly referred to as "living fossils" by taxonomists. A rather dramatic way to say it's a very unique creature.

Enjoy purple animals whenever they can be found, even if you have to stretch a bit to really see that hue,


[image via Wiki Commons, original find by my faithful Canukistani operative Yuri via the Phantoms and Monsters blog]

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Tina Fey on the new Vanity Fair cover

The newest Vanity Fair arrived today, be still my beating heart. Tina is probably my biggest media crush at the moment. Smart, irreverent, pretty, talented -- she's got it all.

Shutting up now,


Musicians telling government to stuff it over Guantanamo abuses

Can you imagine being a rural goatherd or something, then being flown across the word, put in constraints that don't allow you to touch the ground except by your tippy toes, doused with water daily, and to top it off barraged with Eminem's Slim Shady for weeks on end?

I know I'd lose it.

Apparently, many musicians are telling the government to stop using their art for torture. See this MSNBC article for more.


[photo credit: MSNBC website]

New post over at the Fur Shark blog

Some pictures about Paco and T.'s special relationship, over at the Fur Shark Blog.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Random Excellent flickr find: "Meadow Thrones"

Here's a fantastic photo that was sent to me by "Yuri," my clandestine Canukistani Operative. I have no idea how he found it, but it has a creative commons license, so I'm allowed to display it. It is from Zanboozled's photo stream on flickr.

[addendum: when I click on the picture to get a bigger version, and just keep looking at it throughout the day, the imagery gets more and more symbolic and trippy. Lots there if you let your mind go.]

Enjoy random moments of genius becoming intarweb phenomenons,


Monday, December 8, 2008

Cute and decidedly not so cute

First off, there is a new post over at the Fur Sharks blog. It's pretty damned cute.

Second off, here is some video from Oregon Field Guide, that arachnophobes really shouldn't click. It shows a totally cool hunting behavior of a Six Eyed Sand Spider.

They are awesome little dudes who hunt in fine sand in both African and South American deserts.

Enjoy your cute, and decidedly not so cute, Monday morning,


[video via Estu, image credit at Wiki Commons]

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Continuing with the weekend levity: pink flamingo massacre

Via one of my guilty pleasures of the intartubes, I Can Haz Cheez Burger.

Enjoy a good laugh, even if it makes you cringe a bit,


Saturday, December 6, 2008

Realm of the Totally random: whole site dedicated to owl tattoos

The intartubes are an amazing place. You can find anything and everything, and especially things you would never have thought to look for.

Such as a site with pages and pages of owl tattoos.

No joke.

Enjoy the utter randomness that human culture amped with synchronizing technology can produce,


Friday, December 5, 2008

Hobbit Home

Can you imagine growing up in that place? These kids are psyched.

The point of this house was to build a very economical, self-built earth-sheltered house. They pulled it off for $5k. Check out this blog post to get a bit more info, and a few more pictures, about the project.

Enjoy seeing folks pull off weird and inspiring projects,


Thursday, December 4, 2008

Great cougar pictures via Trail Cam

These pictures were taken with a trail camera in the Blue mountains, SE corner of Washington State. I received them via email, and there is no attribution. I had to share them anyway, I just love these animals.

My fascination and awe of cougars probably has to do with having seen one up close and in the wild. They've enthralled me ever since.

Enjoy images you will probably receive via email any minute now,


[via Estu]

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Photos of Stairs

Hotel Domine, Bilbao, Spain
Originally uploaded by the.mat
I know I know, you read the title and think "who cares." But seriously, check out this link to find a whole bevy of flickr photos of stairs and stair cases, some are just fantastic.

Enjoy unexpected sources of beauty,


XKCD comic: alternative currency

A comic to start your day.

Enjoy a good laugh, despite the news,


[via Uncle Ted]

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Mushroom key to Stradivarius sound?

There are decades of speculation and experimentation surrounding the sound of Stradivarius violins.

A new attempt at replicating these instruments involves letting mushrooms chew on the maple a bit before the violin is made. The minute spaces created in the wood apparently increase its resonance and improve the sound, according to Swiss researchers.

The mushroom, Xylaria longipes, naturally occurs on hardwood barks across the U.S.

Enjoy watching folks go for the money, accidentally improving art on the way,


[story via Muse, Strad painting from Wiki Commons, Mushroom image attribution ]