Phase of the Moon
Angels from Another Pin

History doesn't repeat itself, but it does rhyme.

--Mark Twain

25 February 2005

Yesterday evening a lady from Channel 6 - the local ABC affiliate here in Philadelphia - called my house and got my wife on the phone. She asked for me by name and said she wanted to talk to me about the Pope's recent illness. Now, this isn't exactly an everyday occurrence here in the Kilgannon household. I'm a computer programmer. An agnostic computer programmer. I'm the last person on Earth who has a meaningful opinion about John Paul's illness.

According to my wife, the nice lady from the television station was under the impression that I'm a Reverend Kilgannon, who either is a member of - or has contacts in - a group called AOH. I don't know who the AOH are, and I'm certain I'm not a Reverend of anything. Now, this wasn't a garden-variety case of mistaken identity. The lady from Channel 6 had my full, correct name and my current phone number. Yet she still thought I was some sort of priest.

I have no idea how this happened. It certainly wasn't anything I did. But I will say that now that I've been raised to the priesthood I'm available for any confession and absolution of sins you might need. Prices are negotiable. permanent link


It is important to remember that snow has mass. permanent link

You know, the very powerful and the very stupid have one thing in common: they don't alter their views to fit the facts, they alter the facts to fit their views, which can be uncomfortable if you happen to be one of the facts that needs altering.

--Doctor Who

22 February 2005

In Re: Nanaca Crash.

Dear Japan,

This is not how the Tour de France is supposed to run.

Sincerely, Planet Earth

(My record is 1959.66 meters.) permanent link


We have a twofer of re-imagined weird literature today with "A Study in Emerald" and "A Colder War."

First link via Amanda Furrow. permanent link


Apropos of nothing: Rage Against the Cookie. permanent link


Destroying the Earth is harder than you may have been led to believe.

You've seen the action movies where the bad guy threatens to destroy the Earth. You've heard people on the news claiming that the next nuclear war or cutting down rainforests or persisting in releasing hideous quantities of pollution into the atmosphere threatens to end the world.


The Earth was built to last. It is a 4,550,000,000-year-old, 5,973,600,000,000,000,000,000-tonne ball of iron. It has taken more devastating asteroid hits in its lifetime than you've had hot dinners, and lo, it still orbits merrily. So my first piece of advice to you, dear would-be Earth-destroyer, is: do NOT think this will be easy.

This is not a guide for wusses whose aim is merely to wipe out humanity. I can in no way guarantee the complete extinction of the human race via any of these methods, real or imaginary. Humanity is wily and resourceful, and many of the methods outlined below will take many years to even become available, let alone implement, by which time mankind may well have spread to other planets; indeed, other star systems. If total human genocide is your ultimate goal, you are reading the wrong document. There are far more efficient ways of doing this, many which are available and feasible RIGHT NOW. Nor is this a guide for those wanting to annihilate everything from single-celled life upwards, render Earth uninhabitable or simply conquer it. These are trivial goals in comparison.

This is a guide for those who do not want the Earth to be there anymore. permanent link

When you need a helpline for breakfast cereals, it's time to start thinking about tearing down civilisation and giving the ants a go.

--Chris King

18 February 2005

Aluminum's arch-enemy is mercury.

By rusting, aluminum is forming a protective coating that’s chemically identical to sapphire—transparent, impervious to air and many chemicals, and able to protect the surface from further rusting: As soon as a microscopically thin layer has formed, the rusting stops. (“Anodized” aluminum has been treated with acid and electricity to force it to grow an extra-thick layer of rust, because the more you have on the surface, the stronger and more scratch-resistant it is.)

This invisible barrier forms so quickly that aluminum seems, even in molten form, to be an inert metal. But this illusion can be shattered with aluminum’s archenemy, mercury.

Applied to aluminum’s surface, mercury will infiltrate the metal and disrupt its protective coating, allowing it to “rust” (in the more destructive sense) continuously by preventing a new layer of oxide from forming. The aluminum I-beam below rusted half away in a few hours, something that would have taken an iron beam years.

I knew about the layer of aluminum oxide, but not that mercury destroys it. Neat. permanent link


Dear morally-bankrupt Hollywood-type people: Please stop strip-mining my childhood.

Via Jessica Gothie. permanent link

That's why I'll be using a +1 PVC and Foam Sword forged in the fires of Home Depot.

--Scott Kurtz

9 February 2005

I don't know if we can call brain slug humor erudite but even if we can't, this story by Fred Coppersmith comes darned close.

Brain Slug United, the first and most trusted brand name in mind-controlling alien parasites, is now offering top dollar for either limited or extended use of your cerebellum. Earn good money, while sacrificing little more than your free will and control over certain select bodily functions.

Via the author himself. permanent link

If I want cooking-as-entertainment, I have to do it myself. I am the *bam* in my world.

--Jessica Gothie

8 February 2005

Reference: Large gallery of USGS images of minerals. permanent link


You might wonder why a camera made from decomissioned U2 spy plane parts is, strictly speaking, necessary. The answer is, it's needed to document endangered archaeological sites.

When he completes his photographic tour of America later this year, Flint would love to take high-resolution images of hundreds of endangered archaeological sites. He said he is in preliminary talks with organizations like Unesco, which wants a detailed record of threatened archaeological sites like Rome or Angkor Watt, which are steadily disappearing.

The printed photographs from the camera are the size of billboards. permanent link

I especially like the phrase "Bad Badman." That's totally my new supervillain name. He can be the archenemy of Ram Barricade, the Manliest Man of them all!

--"Baron Mind"

3 February 2005

Chef Homaro Cantu is described by the New York Times as a mad scientist of food.

Cantu's maki look a lot like the sushi rolls served at other upscale restaurants: pristine, coin-size disks stuffed with lumps of fresh crab and rice and wrapped in shiny nori. They also taste like sushi, deliciously fishy and seaweedy.

But the sushi made by Mr. Cantu, the 28-year-old executive chef at Moto in Chicago, often contains no fish. It is prepared on a Canon i560 inkjet printer rather than a cutting board. He prints images of maki on pieces of edible paper made of soybeans and cornstarch, using organic, food-based inks of his own concoction. He then flavors the back of the paper, which is ordinarily used to put images onto birthday cakes, with powdered soy and seaweed seasonings.

At least two or three food items made of paper are likely to be included in a meal at Moto, which might include 10 or more tasting courses. Even the menu is edible; diners crunch it up into a bowl of gazpacho, creating Mr. Cantu's version of alphabet soup.

Now you should imagine him standing atop his restaurant bellowing "I cannot be defeated! I am invincible!" I know I am. permanent link


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