Saturday, July 25, 2009

Policeman, Professor, President

Maybe it's about dominance, not race.

Poster Source

Crowley, Gates camps pleased by president's phone calls
July 24, 2009 03:53 PM
By Brian MacQuarrie and Jonathan Saltzman, Boston Globe Staff

Calls by President Obama to Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. and to Sergeant James M. Crowley inviting the men to meet with Obama at the White House were welcomed by both camps today.

Harvard law professor Charles J. Ogletree Jr., one of Gates's lawyers, praised the president, a former student of his, for calling both men.

"I think the president has taken the right approach by trying to make sure we move forward," said Ogletree. "He's always had the ability to negotiate difficult conversations, and his steps today are an important step in the right direction. I think the president has given his assessment, which makes a lot of sense, and, however you feel about it, it has reduced the temperature and allowed everyone to move forward in a constructive way."

Crowley was also pleased by the call, according to a fellow officer who asked not to be identified because he is not authorized to speak publicly about the issue.

"Jimmy said, 'I'd be happy to come to the White House and sit down with you and Gates and have a beer,' " the veteran Cambridge officer said. "The president said he was acceptable to that."

Crowley also asked President Obama if he could use his influence to oust the news media from his front lawn in Natick. "The president said, 'I can't get them off my front lawn,' and Jimmy said, 'Well, your lawn is a lot bigger than my lawn,' " the officer's colleague said.

Crowley's brother, J.P., also a Cambridge officer, said that he hadn't spoken to his brother about the Obama call. But he said his brother was looking forward to putting the controversy behind him.

"It's surreal. I think he just wants to get back to a sense of normalcy, back to work. He didn't ask for this," he said.

Steve Killion, president of the Cambridge patrol officers association, praised the president for calling James Crowley only a couple of hours after the news conference where leaders from Cambridge and other area police unions demanded an apology from Obama.

"I'm sure, knowing Sergeant Crowley, it's mended the fence with him,'' said Killion, who had not spoken with Crowley. "It's gone some way toward mending the fence with the patrol officers, even though I haven't spoken with any of them yet.''

Killion said the president has admitted he erred by discussing a case without knowing the details.

"He acknowledges he made a mistake,'' Killion said. "He wasn't there. None of us have the facts. He didn't have the facts. We don't have the facts. We don't know what professor Gates said, what Sergeant Crowley said. I'm absolutely pleased with [Obama's call]. I think it was a good thing for the president to do. He's the commander in chief, he's in charge. Whether or not he should be involved in local politics, he runs the country. We all want to see this behind us.''

Killion said Cambridge has a "great police department'' and never engages in racial profiling.

"If Sergeant Crowley and President Obama and Mr. Gates sit out on the White House lawn and have a beer, I'd certainly like a picture of it -- and be jealous that it wasn't me,'' Killion said.


Video: Red Rider's Lunatic Fringe

Pay Daze

How do you get paid? Beyond not well enough.

In many cases determining salaries is not much of a science. Performance bonuses, salary ranges and wage increases can be difficult territory for both employers and employees.

Audio: NPR's Morning Edition, July 20

Crank Call Chaos

Malibu Wildflowers

Blue-skullcap by fractalvWishbone Bush by fractalvCatalina Mariposa Lily by fractalvChaparral Gilia by fractalvBlue-skullcap by fractalvBlue Field Gilia by fractalvCalifornia Peony by fractalvParry's Phacelia by fractalvBlue-skullcap by fractalvCatalina Mariposa Lily by fractalvCalifornia Blackberry by fractalvChocolate Lily by fractalvUnidentified Flower by fractalvChocolate Lily by fractalvBlue Eyed-grass by fractalv

flickr photos by:

And Now A Few Words

George Carlin got in trouble with the FCC over seven words.

Robert Klein noted some words sounded far dirtier than they actually were: "Oh no, I've got Guam all over me!"

The online Urban Dictionary adds new terms fairly quickly.

Dictionary publisher Merriam-Webster is not an early adopter:

Don't Know A Friend From A Frenemy? Look It Up

AP, July 9, 2009 -- Do you use a sock puppet to secretly keep track of your frenemies?

Plan to spend your staycation watching vlogs and webisodes? Or perhaps you plan to signal a flash mob for a quick bite of shawarma.

If you're not entirely certain what all that means, turn to the latest edition of the Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, which has added about 100 new words that largely reflect changing trends in American society.

John Morse, president and publisher of the Springfield-based dictionary publisher, said many of this year's new words are tied to changes in technology, increasing environmental awareness and aging baby boomers' concerns about their health and have become part of the general lexicon.

"These are not new words in the language, by any means," Morse said. "[But] when words like 'neuroprotective' and 'cardioprotective' show up in the Collegiate, it's because we've made the judgment that these are not just words used by specialists. ... These really are words now likely to show up in The New York Times, in The Wall Street Journal."

There are words such as locavore (one who eats foods grown locally), frenemy (someone who acts like a friend but is really an enemy), waterboarding (an interrogation technique use to induce the sensation of drowning), vlogs (a blog that contains video material) and webisode (a TV show that can be viewed at a Web site).

There's also flash mob (a group of people summoned electronically to a designated spot at a specified time to perform an indicated action before dispersing) and green-collar (involving actions for protecting the natural environment).

Some words that just now made the cut have been around for generations. The term "sock puppet" - a false online identity used for deceptive purposes - was tracked to 1959 but has taken on new popular use with people using fake IDs on social networking sites.

Many words have cross-cultural roots, including shawarma (a sandwich especially of sliced lamb or chicken, vegetables, and often tahini wrapped in pita bread) and reggaeton (music of Puerto Rican origin that combines rap and Caribbean rhythms).

Once words like these become so common that they regularly pop up in conversations and published articles, Morse said they pass muster for being included in the dictionary.

Some words, such as "staycation," have become so popular the dictionary could not ignore them, Morse said. Staycation refers to staying home for vacation and has gained popularity as the economy worsens.

But Morse said some words face years in limbo as wordsmiths wait to see if they are just fads.

Dave Wilton, author of "Word Myths: Debunking Linguistic Urban Legends," said it's difficult to draw conclusions about trends in society with just a handful of new words.

"It's also an editorial decision and reflects what the (dictionary) editors deemed important that year," Wilton said. "Most of these words have been around for a while but for some reason they grabbed the attention of editors this time."

Researchers often keep track of words over many years. One to watch: prepone.

The word is commonly used in India among English-speaking Indians and refers to the act of arranging for an event to take place earlier than originally planned - the opposite of postpone.

"Prepone didn't make it this time," Morse said. "But we know about it."

NPR commentator Mark Allen got a message from his boss in response to something Allen texted: "shorter" was all it said. Since then, Allen has been using that single word to get people to use fewer words in real life. He's not trying to discourage enhaced vocabulary; just verbosity.

Audio: NPR's All Things Considered July 9

Friday, July 24, 2009

Paul McCartney on Letterman

In case you missed it July 15...

It was McCartney’s first appearance on the show, but it was not his first invitation to return to the Ed Sullivan theatre.

Videos: CBS Late Show, July 15.


A total eclipse of the sun arced across India and China Wednesday morning, but since it was the longest one of this century, it drew Western observers, too.

CA Budget Battle

Source: Bloomberg News, July 21

By the next morning, state lawmakers and various interest groups, armed with legions of supporters and millions in campaign dollars, began to voice displeasure... Enough to put the entire budget agreement in jeopardy.

California has found some people who want to pay more taxes. The Marijuana Policy Project bought TV time. Their 30 second ad says taxing the drug could help the state with its budget problems.

Just the latest pitch in the chronic campaign to legalize pot... Which drug enforcement officials in Fresno claimed to have siezed in such quantity it'd tip the scales at $1 billion dollars... But I wouldn't put any more stock in estimated street values than I'd put into California real estate values. Both trend toward the bogus.

A friend emailed a comparison of present day California to when it joined the United States in 1850:

The State had no money.

Almost everyone spoke Spanish.

There were gunfights in the streets.

So basically, it was just like California today.

And they're not the only state with problems. At the recent annual meeting of the National Governors Association, one of the hottest topics was how badly states have been hit by the economic downturn. This year, they've seen the steepest decline in tax revenues on record.

A New York state legislator has introduced a bill that would require wealthy New Yorkers convicted of crimes to pay the cost of their jail sentence. State officials estimate that housing inmates costs counties about $1 billion a year. The bill proposes a sliding scale: Convicts worth $200,000 or more would pay the entire tab; but those with a net worth of $40,000 or less could go to jail for free.

Other states are going after unused gift cards as revenue, The Wall Street Journal reported July 21 that about half the states have unclaimed property laws that can be applied to unused gift cards after 2-5 years... So use it or lose it!

And the other side is budget cuts... Would Gov. Schwarzenegger really close California's Poison Control System? Would Gov. Patrick really kill unwanted animals displaced by closing Boston's Franklin Park Zoo?

Now let's say you live in a state with its own problems, and lots of us do, why should you care what happens in California?

Ross DeVol, director of regional economics at the Milken Institute (a Southern California think tank founded in 1991 by Junk Bond King Michael Milken, best known for his conviction for securities fraud), believes the effort to solve the state's fiscal problems will push California's economy (by itself among the world's largest) in a direction exactly opposite of what the "stimulus" seeks to achieve nationally.

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Audio: NPR's All Things Considered, July 22 & 13

MythBusters Moon Landing

Adam & Jamie took on Apollo 11 conspiracies:

The Case For Space

Products of the space program:

Commercial benefits far outweigh the costs of the program.

Man's Greatest Achievement?

I'm old enough to have answerred "the Apollo moon landings."

The world weighs in...


Not so much:

Remember everybody under 40 had yet to be born as Apollo 11's "Eagle" landed.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Fast Food

Automotive Science Goes Agricultural:

Energy giant ExxonMobil has gotten into the act, too. They committed $600 million to a plan to make biofuel from algae in partnership with Synthetic Genomics, founded by J. Craig Venter, the man behind the project to map the human genome.

But the trend isn't industry wide... BP, which sought to cast itself as looking "Beyond Petroleum," isn't on the bus. Despite the multimillion dollar ad campaign for British Petroleum, which spent the past several years touting its alternative energy plans, London's Financial Times reports the oil giant is trimming back its alternative fuels division.


Darpa's Self-Feeding Sentry Robot is Not a Man-Eater, Company Says:

EATR Robot: It makes fuel out of what it finds
The makers of the Energetically Autonomous Tactical Robot (EATR) have issued a statement saying that "this robot is strictly vegetarian," after news outlets ranging from Fox to CNET pounced on the flesh-eating potential of the bot designed to scavenge the landscape for biomass fuel sources.

"We completely understand the public's concern about futuristic robots feeding on the human population, but that is not our mission," said Harry Schoell, CEO of Cyclone Power Technologies.

Second helpings at: PopSci dot Com

Hall & Oates - Maneater

Artist:Hall & Oates

Title: Maneater

Album: H2O

Year: 1982

Nelly Furtado's take on the same title.

Meat Me For Lunch

I'll have a gurney for dessert

If Chandler, Arizona doesn't have an obesity problem yet, it will.

Blame it on the Heart Attack Grill!

People who weigh over 350 pounds eat for free. And would be freeloaders, who ignore the warning sign on the door thats it's bad for their health, will find plenty of grease and fat to chow down on... Served up by sexy waitresses, dressed as nurses, who will take good care of them and call 911 in case of an actual heart attack.

Promotional Photo: Heart Attack Grill

In N Out Urge

Keep it simple; do one thing, and do it the best you can. Persistently.

In-N-Out Burger is a phenomenally successful West Coast chain that has stuck to burgers, fries and sodas or shakes... No chicken, no fish, no playgrounds or toy promotions.

BusinessWeek reporter Stacy Perman wrote a history of In-N-Out.

Audio: NPR's All Things Considered, July 14

Love Your Buns

Geekologie found a "Cheeseburger Bed" for sale on eBay. The matress is squared... Maybe it's from Wendys.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

End Minority Rule

Ed on Offense:

Who's On The Take (from the healthcare lobby):

Groucho weighs in:

Coming Attraction

Opening Friday:

Big Bucks Bed

Who says a canopy bed has to be old fashioned?

This high-tech bed design by Edoardo Carlino of Milan has built-In TV, computer & game systems... It better at a nearly $60,000 price tag.

Lights for reading and shades for sleeping are also fully integrated... Everything you've ever wanted in a bed minus a bathroom, snack bar and company.


Star Wars Shaggin' Wagon

May the Force be with you

Photo: Geekologie Reader Dustin

Ads On The Moon

Seriously? Seriously!

Robots to Advertise on the Moon

WEST VALLEY CITY, Utah, July 20 /PRNewswire/ — It's one giant leap for robot-kind. New Shadow Shaping technology creates images on the Moon that can be seen from Earth. Robots are used to create several small ridges in the lunar dust over large areas that capture shadows and shape them to form logos, domains names, memorials or even portraits. Talk about the Man in the Moon! You can even carve your initials in a heart to impress your sweetheart.

The advertising potential is mind-boggling. Never in history have companies been able to penetrate every market on Earth, reach every person on the planet, and touch them at an emotional level only possible with the beauty of the Moon on a starlit night. Twelve billion eyeballs looking at your logo in the sky for several days every month. And since there is no atmosphere on the Moon, the images last for thousands of years.

"Finally dependency on government to travel beyond Earth is over," says inventor David Kent Jones. "This new commercial incentive will turbo charge space technology development. Shadows are just the beginning; eventually robots will be planting crops on other planets."

Beginning July 20, 2009, the fortieth anniversary of man's first step on the Moon, exclusive licensing for this patent pending technology is publicly available. The company, "Moon Publicity," is accepting bids from accredited investors and companies for 44 lunar regions until October 20, 2009. You could license moon-imaging technology potentially worth a fortune in advertising value for about the cost of an SUV. Minimum bids start as low as $46,000. For more information visit

Harbingers of Doom: Gizmodo

Aim Higher

NASA's next challenge?

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Battle Lines

Now vs No

Obama says: "The Time to act is now!"

RNC Chairman Michael Steele invokes Flip Wilson:

Videos: CBS News Online

Open wide and say "nah."

Update: The morning after on the CBS Early Show (7/21):

Under The Influence

There are 535 members of Congress elected by the people. And according to Washington Post reporter Dan Eggen, there are more than 2,700 lobbyists (many with previous connections to Capitol Hill, most backed with substantial bankrolls) hired by various interests trying to influence the debate... More than 5:1.

Audio: BBC, PRI & WBUR's Here & Now. Host: Deborah Becker.
Illustration from Media Mouse

Harry & Louise - 16 Years Older

They were the characters in the infamous 1993 TV ad that helped derail health care reform. Now Harry and Louise are back — and they're singing a very different tune.

The actors behind the old and new Harry and Louise health care ads explain their change of heart during the 2008 Presidential campaign.

The actors joined several Democratic senators on Capitol Hill July 16th to mark the passage of a health bill from the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee.

Ghetto Baskets

Ghetto Baskets are packed chock-full of stuff you can buy at your local convenience store. The standard Ghetto Basket costs $39, and the Ghetto Fabulous basket $46 (comes with a bow).

You never know exactly what each Ghetto Basket will include. It all depends on their shaky contacts and what falls off of trucks around the neighborhood. But it might have: Hot Sauce, Pregnancy Test, Grape Drink, Batteries, Beef Jerky, Potted Meat, Pork Rinds, Noodles in a Cup, After Shave, Plastic Commemorative Plate, Religious Candle, Porcelain Figurine, Kung-Fu DVD, Cassette or VHS Tape, Doo Rag, Vapor Rub, Energy Drank, Soap, and an Outdated Calendar.

Each basket comes lovingly packed in an aluminum baking pan and is sure to do disappoint its recipient.

From: Geekologie
Product Site


The weapon of choice in Iraq:

Invading US forces uncovered massive weapons & ammunition caches on their drive toward Baghdad in 2003. But the urgency of that push toward the capital meant they didn't immediately secure and destroy the raw materials that have threatened American patrols ever since.

Contributor: Dan McGrath

Monday, July 20, 2009


Image: 'Hideaway' (Moon At Perigee - Sunset At The North Pole) by artist Inga Nielsen.

No matter the perspective, a source of wonder.

Saguaro Moon by Stefan Seip

40 years ago today, we first went there.

NASA Photo: Buzz Aldrin's salute, captured by Neil Armstrong -- Tranquility Base, July 20, 1969

We haven't been back since December 14, 1972.

Man On The Moon - Apollo 11 (1)

Via:CBS News

Man On The Moon - Apollo 11 (2)

Via:CBS News

Man On The Moon - Apollo 11 (3)

Via:CBS News

Return to the Moon

NASA Photo: Columbia's Quarter Moon - January 26, 200340 years after we first arrived. Is it worth it to go back?

"Constellation," NASA's moon program is currently under review. It has a goal of a permanent human presence by 2020, and comes with a $50 billion price tag.

MIT's David Mindel talks pros and cons.

David Mindel, professor of the history of technology at the Massachusetts Institue of Technology, is author of the book “Digital Apollo: Human and Machine in Space Flight.”
NASA Photo: Columbia's Quarter Moon - January 26, 2003

The Police - Walking On The Moon

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Own The Sky

Most of the time car commercials are more about financing than autos... Especially the local ones screaming for attention. Good grief!

But Infiniti's campaign for the G-37 convertible is about the driving experience... As befits a direct competitor to BMW ("the ultimate driving machine.") Watch it again in full screen to see the leaves fly away and the star splash!

If an ad is about cost, it's really conceding the product (cars) or service (car insurance) is effectively interchangeable... a commodity.

Lightning Strikes Again & Again


In the United States, lightning is responsible for more than 10,000 fires and causes an estimated 5 billion dollars in damages every year. And we're right in the middle of the danger zone right now. July is the peak month for lightning strikes, says John Friedman, author of “Out of the Blue: A History of Lightning -- Science, Superstition and Amazing Stories of Survival,” which is now in paperback.

Audio: BBC, PRI & WBUR's Here & Now, July 16. Host: Robin Young.
Image: Dark Sky Festival

If It's Hollow, It'll Follow


3 Wolf Moon


I'm far too slobby to ever wear this shirt... I spill, drop, smear and dribble just about everything. Elaborate silk screen patterns are out. I have a bunch of charcoal grey T-s from Footlocker that seems to work well for my tendency to turn shirts into Jackson Pollock art.

Michael McGloin, creative director of the company that makes the shirt pictured has sold lots of them online, and they became a bestseller off buyers snarky reviews!

Audio: BBC, PRI & WBUR's Here & Now, July 16. Host: Robin Young.
Image: 3 Wolf Moon by The Mountain.
The real Wolf Moon occurs in January.

Pop Tab Dragon -Shinkonryuu

Don't step on this dragon made of soda can pop tabs crafted by OniMushaKid of Deviant

Happiness Hotel - The Great Muppet Caper