Angels from Another Pin
(Neoplasm pleonasm)


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31 July 2003 ::   I will meet you where the sky meets the stars. Last one there is a rotten egg.  
Using The Simpsons to interest children in math.

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Susan Clancy of the psychology department at Harvard University is a specialist in repressed and recovered memories. She engaged in a long study of whether traumatic memories can be repressed and then recovered, testing the memory recall of persons with "recovered" memories and theorizing that "there [is] a category of people who are prone to create false memories and who might demonstrate this tendency when given a standard memory test." Her experiments with people who recalled childhood sexual abuse confirmed her theory, but Clancy immediately came under fire from those who found her results unacceptable for political or emotional reasons.

Looking around for a less explosive group to study than sexual abuse survivors, Clancy settled on UFO abductees, studying the false memories of people whose stories are pretty much accepted as bunk. Then she found out that these "abductees" can be pretty darned vicious when they're called misguided...

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30 July 2003 ::   Asking "What is the meaning of life?" and getting back "God" is like asking "What is two plus two?" and getting back "Spackling paste."  
Good heavens, that's a very purple polar bear.

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The frontiers of science are being advanced every day by courageous explorers who ask the important, burning questions like: does toast always land butter side down?
When toast slides off of your plate, it twists and turns through the air, using its tail and flexible spine to re-orient itself. This is its primary defense mechanism against human consumption.

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Betty Ragan


28 July 2003 ::   So Much Cooler Than Jesus  
We come to the midpoint of the story today in A Miracle of Science.

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Poetry of the Space Age: Sunsets on Mars.

This image of the Martian sunset from Sol 24 shows much more color variation than had previously been seen. The blue color near the Sun is not caused by clouds of water ice, but by the Martian dust itself. The dust in the atmosphere absorbs blue light, giving the sky its red color, but it also scatters some of the blue light into the area just around the Sun because of its size. The blue color only becomes apparent near sunrise and sunset, when the light has to pass through the largest amount of dust.
A sol is a Martian day.

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Mark Sachs


25 July 2003 ::   Get your conquering pants!  
Glenn brings us a wristwatch PDA we could all use...
Wristwatch PDA Screen by Glenn Juskiewicz

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Glenn Juskiewicz
The most distant quasar known is (was) surrounded by a retinue of active stars, revealed by the heavier elements the stars had created.
Astronomers studying the most distant quasar yet found in the Universe have discovered a massive reservoir of gas containing atoms made in the cores of some of the first stars ever formed. The carbon-monoxide gas was revealed by the National Science Foundation's Very Large Array (VLA) and the Plateau de Bure radio interferometer in Europe. The gas, along with the young galaxy containing it, is seen as it was when the Universe was only one-sixteenth its current age, just emerging from the primeval "Dark Ages" before light could travel freely through the cosmos.

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Betty Ragan
Wonders of the Space Age: an animated gravity map of the Earth.

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Betty Ragan
Today's lesson for spammers: don't contact a Russian deputy minister. Especially don't do it forty times in one morning.
Spammers last week got on the wrong side of the wrong man, and quickly found themselves with a taste of their own medicine. The man? Deputy Communications Minister Andrei Korotkov. Tired of the endless spate of unsolicited messages that clog e-mail systems everywhere, hawking everything from discounted air conditioners to pornographic web sites, a frustrated Korotkov decided he would politely ask one repeat offender, the American Language Center, to take him off its lists.

That morning he had arrived to find a flurry of e-mails inviting him to join its English classes. If he didn't need one offer, he certainly didn't need 40.

"I sent them an e-mail thanking them for the offer to teach me English -- which I already know -- and asked them to stop," said Korotkov, who oversees the government's Electronic Russia initiative, a program to use the Internet to make the paper-dependent federal bureaucracy more efficient.

But not only was he not removed from the language center's mailing list, he said he suddenly found himself added to several more. Only now, they were addressed to him, personally, by name. This spammee had had enough; the spamming had gone too far.

With the brainstorming help of the Group Against Harmful Programs, a recently created anti-spam (and anti-virus) organization, whose members include Internet providers Russia Online and Rambler.ru, Korotkov decided he would fight unsolicited e-mails with unsolicited phone calls -- fighting fire with fire, as it were.

The plan they hatched called for Korotkov to record an audio message to be volleyed nonstop to the telephone numbers listed in the language center's own spam messages...

The American Language Center was thus pelted with 1,000 automated phone calls in a single morning.

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Ben Loukota


24 July 2003 ::   The Branch Davidian Church has split into two sects: Orthodox and Extra-Crispy  
I've never heard Fred Coppersmith speak, so now in my mind he sounds like Dr. Emmett Brown.

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Fred Coppersmith
Aerobraking, scientifically accurate atmospheres, and Paradise Lost: new A Miracle of Science.

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Fred Coppersmith says he hasn't read any Lovecraft lately.

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From America's Best News Source, The Onion, comes a tale of the dissolution of Maryland.
The rights to Maryland's state flag, bird, and motto are also being sold to the highest bidder.

"Secret [brand antiperspirant] has put in a substantial bid for our motto, Fatti maschii, parole femine, which means 'Manly Deeds, Womanly Words,'" Erhlich said. "I also think that Nevada might buy the rights to our state sport, jousting. When we sell the rights to our state song, 'Maryland, My Maryland,' that's when it's going to hit me that it's finally over."

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Joe Foering


23 July 2003 ::   "Outlook not so good." That Magic 8-ball knows everything! I'll ask about Exchange Server next.  
Just a picture of a plane dropping flares. I thought it looked neat.

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This article about a collapsed bridge is quite interesting. The sentence, "Following preliminary DCNR inspections which showed areas of 100 percent loss to rust, engineers determined that a strong-enough gust of wind could create enough lateral pressure to topple the 6,715,000-pound viaduct" is particularly scary.

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Noel Tominack


22 July 2003 ::   Materials are cheaper than labor and less annoying than insurance --Paul Kilgannon  
This page on the V-22 tilt-rotor Osprey also has some information on other helicopter variants and refinements, as well as a picture of an Osprey completely folded up for transport. The author of the page is a vehement Osprey partisan, but his information is good.

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21 July 2003 ::   We do it all the time. It's called not being so stupid that it warps the Universe.  
More stuff blows up. A Miracle of Science

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It's hard to believe that only fifteen years ago, I was voting Republican because they appeared to be the more fiscally responsible of the two major American political parties. Now, the destructive fiscal policies of the Bush Administration are mortgaging our future. Although "mortgaging" is perhaps the wrong word to use, since a mortgage gets you something useful whereas the Bush tax cuts buy us a small cadre of happy plutocrats.

Is it too late to return the Republican Party and get a refund on the unused portion?

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18 July 2003 ::   We were taking a vote when the ground came up and hit us  
Glenn has the attitude towards wealth, privilege, and bred-in-the-bone arrogance which I believe is the birthright of all humanity.

Update: Glenn called me on the grammar of that sentence. I am referring to the attitude as the birthright of all humanity, not the wealth and arrogance.

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Glenn Juskiewicz
On the one hand, it is irritating that there are people who would call the FBI if they see you reading an article questioning the government. On the other hand, the two agents as portrayed in this story are polite, calm, and thorough. So the score appears to be (in our three-way-game): Bookstore Employee: 1, G-Men: 1, Idiot Right-Wing Paranoid: 0. In all, that's a scoreboard I can live with.

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Joe Foering
The new A Miracle of Science is up. Enjoy.

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Jose Luis Aresti came up with a set of figures which describe aerobatic maneuvers, providing stunt pilots and airplane enthusiasts a method to record their activities. The figures look remarkably like circuit diagrams or the symbols of algorithmic logic, leading me to imagine a computer made up of a million airplanes in the air overhead...

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16 July 2003 ::   You won't get wise with the sleep still in your eyes, no matter what your dream might be  
Enjoy this look at real life, reviewed like a multiplayer online game.

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The irony of a posthumous interview with Philip K. Dick is not lost on me.
Well, the government would have to let out a contract for the manufacture of a billion sets of electrodes, and in their customary way, they would award the contract to the lowest bidder, who would build substandard electrodes out of secondhand parts. The technicians implanting the electrodes in the brains of millions upon millions of people would become bored and careless, and, when the switch would be pressed for the total population to feel profound grief at the death of some government official, it would all get folded up, and the population, like that laboratory rat, would go into collective seizures of merriment.

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Matt Smith


14 July 2003 ::   I don't want to rule the world...I just want to be in charge of mayonnaise  
New A Miracle of Science, as always.

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It's in French, but the images outweigh the texts in this collection of hieroglyphics and Egyptian wall art.

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So, you're a wealthy Republican who wants to remove the Florida Supreme Court justices who voted for the Gore side in the 2000 election brouhaha. You (a) start up a political action committee and raise awareness among Florida's people of the justices' voting records, hoping the Floridians will see things your way; or (b) lie and cheat and break the law, and then say (and this is a direct quote from the lawyer) "The answer to all those questions, to use a legal phrase, is that it is none of anyone's damn business."

If you're Roger Stone, the answer is apparently (b).

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12 July 2003 ::   Even his hair is evil  
Stalin Moon: Moon Prism Power Make-Up!

Having learned magic and the martial arts from wise, elderly Lenin, Josef Stalin fights against the enemies of Mother Russia with strength, determination, and an unstoppable mystical power drawn from his love of the Soviet people in Hitler vs. Stalin. Weird. Really, really weird.

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Mark Sachs


11 July 2003 ::   Would you mind waiting here a bit? I'm going to organize an angry mob to beat you senseless.  
Comic books meet the Internet: weblog of Galactus the world-eater.
This is going to sound fruity, but I really respect Dr. Phil. It is like he sees inside of me. And humans lack ocular x-ray capacity.

It turns out that when I devour a world, it is not merely cosmic sustenance I am looking for, but acceptance, and, yes, love. The emptier I feel inside, the more billions of sentient life forms I binge on, and that is obviously a self-destructive cycle.

So, that is it. For real this time. Dr. Phil, you've inspired me. Am a new force of nature from this point on.

Discovered via Fred Coppersmith, who also includes this handy profile of the comic book character.

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Fred Coppersmith
Every once in a while, a very bad day is caught on tape. And then someone sets it to music. No, I am not making this up. (Contains profanity, woo boy, does it contain profanity.)

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10 July 2003 ::   If you want to conquer the world you have to work weekends!  
Something explodes in the latest page of A Miracle of Science.

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What the heck, I don't get enough whacko Google search requests finding this page. So I'll pass on this bit of information: Aliens are abducting our pants!
This is an incendiary statement, a statement that will change the way humans perceive themselves in their relationship to the universe. I know that it is time for the people of the world to be shown the truth, no matter how disturbing. It is also imperative that people understand that things are accelerating, not only the pants situation, but the entire universe is accelerating. Racing towards absolute zero, racing towards the big empty. The aliens know this and have began abducting pants out of anxiety, out of panic. All humans are aware of this acceleration sub-consciously, but their logical minds block the realization from materializing. It is my purpose to educate the masses, for a "society gone psychotic" is unavoidable, but perhaps I can save our pants.
The same website will give you, for free, information about pi, and will sue you for infringing on their rights to Abraham Lincoln.

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I hate doing binary math in my head. Now, thanks to the Internet, I no longer have to! (The previous statement was so ironic, the Universe is now collapsing inside some kind of irony event horizon.)

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8 July 2003 ::   Are you sure that's the verb you really want? --Betty Ragan  
Mars orbit and pensive looks in the next page of A Miracle of Science. It was updated yesterday, but I was on holiday yesterday.

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Play with the orbit of an Apollo lander with the simulator for the Apollo landing module computer interface. The world sure has come a long way in computer interface design in 35 years...

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3 July 2003 ::   It's all in the interest of ensuring there will be statues of me in Kilgannongrad --Sharon Cichelli  
A Miracle of Science: The mystery of the purplish-blue!

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This large set of Apple Switch parodies is very well done, both mimicking the original advertisements well and carrying the spirit of the ads' subjects through with panache. If you look at only one, read the ad by Captain Kirk.

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2 July 2003 ::   He's an angry, sarcastic, one-DNA-strand-from-being-a-supervillain, burninating kind of guy --Glenn Juskiewicz  
The site is in Norwegian, but it's not hard to navigate this collection of aerial photos of highways under construction. The images are quite beautiful; symmetrical and obviously manmade, set among a very green countryside.

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1 July 2003 ::   If he learns from his mistakes, pretty soon he'll know everything  
The extremely cool people who run Coastal Recording, a.k.a. Coastal Carolina Studios, are going out of business. Darn it, I know and like those people...

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Noel Tominack
I don't have a real Philadelphia accent, but I certainly recognize a number of Philly dialectial forms in myself. For instance, I pronounce my Rs...
Standard British Dialect does not pronounce its -r's. If the Queen of England ever called anybody "fellow worker," it would come out something like "fellow wuhkah." Most of the East Coast of the United States still follows British practice: "worker" is r-less when said by Ted Kennedy (Boston), William F. Buckley (New York) and Jesse Helms (the South). The Midwest and West, where British influence got lost long ago, pronounces all its -r's.

Philadelphia has its own Britishisms. We say "pavement" as they do in London, not "sidewalk" as in New York.

Second, alone of major speech groups on the East Coast we pronounce our -r's. We're the cutting edge of defiant Americanism in the East. At one time pronouncing -r's was considered low-class. Henry James, as great a writer as he was an anti-Semitic, anti-immigrant snob (which means very great indeed), gave a speech to Harvard students at the turn of the century in which he said America would never be capable of a real literature until it stopped pronouncing -r's. To James, -r was "an ugly sound... a morose grinding of the back teeth."

Then in the 1920s, radio networks decided that real culture required pronouncing all the letters in every word. Some announcers, even today, take this so seriously that they pronounce the -t in Christmas, and somehow get their tongues to sound the-th in clothes. A physical impossibility for me. Anyway, -r's got pronounced by announcers which of course made them Good English. I've had arguments with New Yorkers who insist they pronounce the -r's in fellow worker, when what they say is something like "fellow wuhkuhrrrr." Intervocalic -r, the -r before the consonant, like -k, is very difficult for people who didn't grow up using it.

However, I don't rhyme radiator with gladiator.

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(The Side of the Angels)

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