Saturday, February 28, 2009

Saturday Morning Awesome -- Cat going for it

Dare to dream, I say.

Enjoy the inhibited full-on-ness of felines,


[via Dark Roasted Blend]

Friday, February 27, 2009

Bonobos learning about fire, stone tools, and Pacman

Bonobos, according to some scientists, are the closest animal relations to humans on the planet. The last time I wrote about them, politics reared its ugly head. This time, I simply present a video of them acquiring language, making and using stone tools, and playing with fire (oh, and a golf cart and pacman too).

To me, the trippiest part is watching the little dude making stone flakes and using them.

Nothing to say beyond that -- the presentation awesome enough without commentary.

Enjoy learning more,


[via my Faithful Canukistani Operative "Yuri"]

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Luminescent Fungi in Japan (and elsewhere)

The Pink Tentacle blog has a great post about these awesome Japanese luminescent mushrooms (Mycena lux-coeli). Apparently, they grow on fallen Chinquapin trees.

These particular fungi are from deep in undisturbed woods, which are a pretty rare thing in Japan nowadays.

There are a few different varieties of mushies that will pull off this maneuver. We've observed some fungi in rotting wood in the woods on Mt. Hood that look like little glow worms. They were especially abundant on the path up to Angel's Rest in the Gorge, which is one of the reasons I used to like doing night hikes there.

Probably the largest specimen of glowing mushroom in the States is the Jack O' Lantern mushroom, Omphalotus olearius. As far as I know, they don't come this far north, but are pretty common in central and southern California.

Enjoy glowy things in nature that aren't ravers taking a night hike,


[via my faithful Canukistani operative "Yuri," photo credits at Rincon Del Misterio]

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Straus Family Creamery making its own electricity, from Poo

Poo has been a bit of a subject lately on the blog. It's useful stuff, I may have to create a whole new label for the blog.

Straus Family Creamery (organic, btw) down in California's central coast, has gone green for their electricity production. They use methane digesters to generate both electricity and compost for their pastures.

I've been hollaring about this for years -- why not use the poo created in feedlots and animal facilities of all kinds to produce methane? It cleans up the waste, when it comes out of the digester it is even better fertilizer than before, and reduces greenhouse gas emission enormously.

Granted, cow poo works better than some, so is a good place to start.

I did run into folks talking about problems with pig poo because there are sulfur compounds in the gas, making it a problem to burn. It is the sulfur in coal that creates acid rain, and burning pig offal methane could release the same compounds. However, it appears there is a viable method of scrubbing the gas before it is used, so maybe pig poo is viable after all.

Anyway, I just wanted to put up some props for Straus for having pulled off the electrical facility on their farm. I think it's absolutely fantastic that folks are getting this much-needed and very reasonable technology off the ground.

PS: No I'm not advertising for Straus -- I just like their butter, yogurt and their stewardship, what can I say.

Enjoy watching real-life, sane answers to some of our problems come about,


[picture credit on Straus Creamery website]

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Coyote on the light rail in Portland

Awesome photo.

The light rail scardey-cats now have "random wildlife" to add to their non-train-using rationalizations.

Enjoy any opportunity to see wildlife up close and personal,


[story via my faithful Canukistani operative "Yuri," photo from the Seattle Transit Blog]

The best political writing I've encountered in quite a while

Below is the introductory paragraph from an article called When Atheists Attack, by Sam Harris of Newsweek. Even though Sarah Palin is old news (please,dear god, let that be true), I had to share at least this intro. The article is long, and well researched, and worth a read if folks feel they need a primer on the subject. This intro, though, is some seriously spot-on writing.

Let me confess that I was genuinely unnerved by Sarah Palin's performance at the Republican convention. Given her audience and the needs of the moment, I believe Governor Palin's speech was the most effective political communication I have ever witnessed. Here, finally, was a performer who—being maternal, wounded, righteous and sexy—could stride past the frontal cortex of every American and plant a three-inch heel directly on that limbic circuit that ceaselessly intones "God and country." If anyone could make Christian theocracy smell like apple pie, Sarah Palin could.

Enjoy watching a ball being hit out of the park, even if it is a couple months late,


[image credit in linked article]

Monday, February 23, 2009

Guantanamo lawsuit inspires backslide from Obama administration

That man on the right's name is Binyam Mohamed. He was beaten nearly to death, abused, and tortured for years by the United States government in Guantanamo, and in countries like Morocco where he was "extraordinarily renditioned" specifically to be tortured. He's utterly innocent of any crime, and had no information whatsoever to pass on that would help in the "war on terror." He's been released back to Britain, but will never be the same.

First off, if you think his treatment is justified in any way whatsoever -- please go see a mental health professional. I'm not being melodramatic, I'm dead serious. Go get help, before you become a danger unto others or yourself.

Secondly, Binyam's case is exposing the current administrations limitations on taking responsibility for these crimes. The Obama administration has invoked the much-maligned "State Secrets" defense when pressed about the flagrantly illegal and immortal treatment of this man.

After the State's Secrets privilege was invoked by administration lawyers, this is what Anthony D. Romero of the ACLU had to say:

“This is not change,” he said in a statement. “This is definitely more of the same. Candidate Obama ran on a platform that would reform the abuse of state secrets, but President Obama’s Justice Department has disappointingly reneged on that important civil liberties issue. If this is a harbinger of things to come, it will be a long and arduous road to give us back an America we can be proud of again.”

Remember, the machine is still the machine. If we want things to change we can't pretend that everything's gonna be ok now that this charismatic man is in office.

If this pissed you off, get a hold of your senators and representatives and The White House and yell... loudly.


Saturday, February 21, 2009

Saturday Morning Awesome -- going shooting with Hunter S. Thompson

Hunter S. Thompson said he'd only do the Conan O'Brian show if Conan came out and drank hard liquor and went shooting with him. So, he agreed.

Awesomeness ensued.

So awesome I can hardly imagine a post script,


Friday, February 20, 2009

Geronimo's kin sue Skull and Bones over remains

From Yahoo news:
Geronimo's great-grandson Harlyn Geronimo said his family believes Skull and Bones members took some of [Geronimo's] remains in 1918 from a burial plot in Fort Sill, Okla., to keep in its New Haven clubhouse, a crypt. The alleged graverobbing is a longstanding legend that gained some validity in recent years with the discovery of a letter from a club member that described the theft.

This isn't the first time the family has attempted to recover the remains. G.W. Bush, a famous Skull and Bones member you may have heard about from recent history, twice refused to even hear the appeal under his tenure, according to Alexandra Robbins, author of Secrets of the Tomb: Skull and Bones, the Ivy League, and the Hidden Paths of Power

Oh, Skull and Bones, where would our conspiratorial musings be without you.

Here is one interesting tidbit, from
For only the second time in two decades, neither presumptive nominee for U.S. president [McCain and Obama] is an alumnus of Yale’s oldest and most secretive senior society. (The only other time in recent history that happened was in 1996, when Bill Clinton faced Republican Bob Dole)

Best wishes to the family, I hope they get, if not remains, then at least answers,


Thursday, February 19, 2009

A good morning/coffee kind of wake up story: Girnomous rat captured in China

In case any of ya'll missed this, a 6lb. rat with a 12-inch tail and 1-inch long teeth, was caught in a town on China's south coast. Look at that handsome fellow there. Apparently, the first thought is it is a Bamboo rat, which is eaten in China. But more tests are needed.

Now when all my gamer friends out there hear Giant Rat, they think of one of their first foes as they just purchased and started playing any number of games. It is so common that it's used as kind of a retro, tongue-in-cheek gamer theme now.

I don't know what "class" of giant rat that little dude is, but methinks Mr. Xian just got some XP.

Oh, and yes it is a ROUS -- maybe it's presence means that the Fire Swamps are actually someplace on the coast of Southern China eh?

Enjoy over-sized rodents over coffee in the morning,


[although a viral story now, Ex-Pat, Canukistani Uncle Ted did send me this particular link]

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Mail a brick to junk mailers on their dime

I've long amused myself with the practice of stuffing bulk mail "postage paid" envelopes with lots of folded up paper garbage, and even pennies taped to a piece of paper, and mailing them back. It's fun, it's vindictive, and it really does hurt their pocketbook.

This article takes the practice one step further -- mail 'em bricks. Apparently, taping the business envelope to the outside of a box, of nearly any size, still pays for the shipping.


Enjoy little tricks to make snail mail spamming unprofitable,


Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Bush's 8 years in 8 minutes

A quick reminder of what we're walking away from.


Monday, February 16, 2009

How Dinosaur Mummies are Created

Who would have thought we would ever, seriously, be chatting about dinosaur mummies? Doesn't it sound like bad saturday morning cartoon fodder?

Anyway, here is a video from the Discovery channel about how dinosaur mummies are created. I like how Mr. Bakker describes the process by saying "you" -- as if it were our goal as viewers to become mummies ourselves.

Enjoy some of the rarest events in nature which provide us fodder to imagine with,


Saturday, February 14, 2009

Saturday Morning Awesome -- tour a Ninja House in Japan

It has come to my attention that my blog is being used by the last generation to understand this and the next generation. As a rubric for "the youth" if you will. Well, if you want to understand these young folks, you best understand Ninjas (and pirates too, that will come later). The kids are crazy about 'em.

Amazing Ninja House In Japan!! - Funny videos are here

Enjoy learning more about today's youngins,


Friday, February 13, 2009

Human hair found in ancient Hyena poo

According to this Discovery article by Jennifer Viegas, ancient Hyenas dined on humans.

Deep in a cave in South Africa there is a pile of fossilized Hyena poo. It was well fossilized by cave conditions, and was an excellent source of biological material from approximately 200,000 years ago. The human hair identified in the scat is now by far the oldest non-bone ("soft-tissue") remains of humans ever found. The record before this stood at 9,000 years old, from a mummy in Chile.

Brings up some grisly images don't it?

Enjoy evidence of times when we weren't the Big Man On Campus,


[photo credit in linked article]

Judges admit to jailing children for money

You know, I occasionally get dour enough to figure shit like this happens -- but I talk myself out of it before I get too pissed off.

However, the world provides ample opportunity for righteous indignation. For fuck's sake people.

Why were privatized prisons a good idea again?

Oh, it looks like the judges are going to be getting sued civilly -- and may get some prison time (hold your breath on that one). Despite this, I have a punishment suggestion. Put them both in maximum security prison, after distributing a pamphlet describing their crimes to the prison population. Even a year might suffice, though 7 sounds better.



Thursday, February 12, 2009

Bird fishing using bait.

The narrator of this video is pretty much worth the price of admission. I don't want to make a bad guess as to the species of the bird, but it sure looks like a little heron to me -- just a matter of what specific kind.

"Shrewd Bird!"

Enjoy watching animals catch up, even a little,


[via Canukistani Kate]

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Street Wars -- San Francisco edition

Two videos from KRON news talking about a live-time assassination game played with squirt guns. These folks are SERIOUS.

In High School, my friends and I organized exactly this type of game and created all kinds of trouble in the school. It got down to threats from the administration to transfer folks they thought were leaders if they didn't divulge information about how it was organized.

As the editor of the school paper, this became great material for me to write about. The standoff diffused, if I remember correctly, once the threat of the abuse of power article surfaced and the players agreed not to make kills inside working classrooms.

Enjoy the sight of adults geeking out -- hard.


Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Little Dudes: Red-capped Manakin -- "the only known case of birds moonwalking"

Lets just lead with the video and hit the details afterwards:

The Little Dude is a Red-Capped Manakin (Pipra mentalis), from the jungles of Central and South America. Check out this link from Birdwatching-bliss for a bit more detail and a longer version of the above video.

The cute geek scientist in the video is Kim Bostwock, PhD. She is the curator of Birds and Mammals at Cornell University. She is also a presenter for the Nature series Deep Jungle: New Frontiers (where I believe this video clip comes from).

Enjoy animals creating mind-bending special effects for the sake of getting laid,


Monday, February 9, 2009

Catalina Island fox makes a comeback

Catalina Island was a magical place when I was a kid. It look long enough to get there by boat that it was a huge deal to be able to go, and happened very rarely. I always knew it was out there -- surrounded by clear blue waters swarming with fish. The small town on the island, called Avalon, was what I would think of now as a tourist trap. But when I was little, it was the best combination of Disneyland and some small remote Spanish village.

As is usual for islands, the ecology on Catalina is very fragile, especially with its small size and large human influx. I had no idea there was an endemic species of fox on the island. According to this L.A. Times article, the native Catalina fox is making a heartening comeback after some strokes of good luck, weather-wise, and lots of effort by wildlife biologists. It's a cute little scupper.

Enjoy good news from childhood fantasy destinations,


Saturday, February 7, 2009

Saturday Morning Awesome -- David Bowie Mug Shot

Uncle Ted sent this to me, it's too awesome.

Enjoy unexpected art meeting celebrity,


[via The smoking gun]

Friday, February 6, 2009

Dirt! the movie

This book turned me on to the subtleties and importance of dirt: Dirt: The Ecstatic Skin of the Earth. And now there's a movie that does the same: Dirt! the Movie.

As even the preview below asserts, dirt is one of the most important factors to life on earth. It doesn't get more fundamental than that. This is why our house buys organic products. It's not only because there are health benefits for us, but more importantly it directly pays farmers to take care of the soil. If you don't pay people to do something, how can you expect them to do it?

Check out the trailer, it looks awesome.

Enjoy learning more about the systems that directly sustain you,


[via Uncle Tom]

Ellen DeGeneres talks to Gladys from Austin

This whole video is worth watching, as even the chitty chat in the beginning sets up the hilarity later. However, if you are truly short on time, skip to 3:50 or so for the first big punchline. It kills me every time. I love Gladys as I'm sure you will too.

Enjoy laughing your ass off whenever you can,


Thursday, February 5, 2009

Dutchtub wood-fired hot tub

I just thought it was awesome and wanted to show it to ya'll. Don't know if you could consider it "green" or eco or anything like that, but the design is so great I thought it deserved mention. Plus, you can cook over the fire that's heating the water, there's a multi-use bonus that slides it into "a bit more green" territory, right? Also, as you can see, it's quite portable.

Here is the website for Dutchtub, which has a nice opening slideshow upon which to gaze. And here is a video (with links to more) on youtube showing it all fired up.

Enjoy simple ideas put into elegant designs,


Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Lizard venom key to help Diabetes

That handsome fellow on the right is a Gila Monster. It is the only venomous lizard in North America. They are slow-moving, not much threat to humans, and steadily becoming more and more scarce.

It turns out their venom can be used in an effective treatment for Type 2 Diabetes. The synthetic drug modeled after the active protein in the venom is called Exanatide.

No matter how clever we humans get, it seems like the vast majority of important discoveries and advancements come straight from nature.

Enjoy learning about another precious substance gleaned right from natures jaws,


[via Uncle Tom]

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Zombies are red, Vampires are blue

Here's a cool little sociological theory: zombies are more popular on Republican upswings, and vampires on Democratic upswings.

Although the theories stated in this article are somewhat thin, there does seem to be a tantalizing connection between each genre's popularity and the incoming or incumbent party. [for the record, I detest the term "redistribution of wealth" in the current political discussion, it's PR firm bullshit]

“Democrats, who want to redistribute wealth to 'Main Street,' fear the Wall Street vampires who bleed the nation dry,” Newitz argued, noting that Dracula and his ilk arose from the aristocracy. “Republicans fear a revolt of the poor and disenfranchised, dressed in rags and coming to the White House to eat their brains.”

Enjoy poking around with sociological theories to see what sticks,


[via Muse, a.k.a. Dani Boyton Photography -- images from wiki commons]

Topical Word of the Day: Defalcate

defalcate \di-FAL-keyt\, verb:

to steal or misuse money or property entrusted to one's care

The stockbroker defalcated millions from investment clients.

c 1540, from Latin defalcere, from de- + falx/falcem "sickle, scythe"

Enjoy learning new ways to say it, especially ones that sound like they have something to do with a B.M.,


(via's emailed word of the day list)

Monday, February 2, 2009

Chomsky, keepin' it real about the Obama administration

Here is Chomsky's first appearance since the election, shown on Democracy Now [an excellent source of real political information, btw].

Like a tiny little Godzilla, Chomsky comes to stomp on everyone's flowers. Though he does give credit where credit is due as well.

Interested in a different perspective on our current political scene? Then this is a good watch for you. Wanting to stay starry-eyed and blissful? Best skip it.

Enjoy fresh air, even if it's a bit chilly,