February 27th, 2008

#934: A law I never knew about.

And which I wouldn't have known about if I hadn't found this site.

"(An interesting distinction in Illinois porn law: you can rent videos about people pissing for each other or near each other, but you are not allowed to rent videos of people pissing on each other. Go figure. ...I really don't want to know.)"

Nor I. Thank you.

#935: Wednesday stuff.

I just went on a 7-hour random stroll through the Intertubes. It's the first time I just wandered from site to site in a very long time, but I kept finding interesting stuff. This was literally a case where I got up to use the bathroom and was surprised that the sun had come up.

Here is a comment in a blog post about ruining expensive stuff.
Here's an example of real stupidity:

You may recall that the Earth Liberation Front (ELF) set fire to the Center for Urban Horticulture at the University of Washington in 2001 because they thought (incorrectly, as it turned out) that a professor (Toby Bradshaw) was making transgenic poplars. They removed all the animals from the building and set a fire in this fellow's office which rapidly spread to adjacent labs doing research on conservation and wetlands biology. This included the lab of Sara Reichard, who had (among other things) 100 showy stickseed plants which she and her students had carefully cultivated; these plants are so rare that this collection represented a third of the total world population. The extent of the estimable damage was in the millions of dollars.
Attaboy, ELF! Way to go! Morons.

* * *

Boortz today is worth reading. WTF, he's almost always worth having a gander at.

From Boortz today, John Stossel on why guns save lives. I don't know how that man can keep his job, being obviously not-liberal at ABC. I guess he makes them feel "diverse" or something.

The writer of this article doesn't know the difference between a "trajectory" and an "orbit". As I can best decipher from the text of the article, the Iranian rocket went more than 125 miles up on a ballistic trajectory but didn't orbit the planet.

That's about what I would expect from such an endeavor. And it's what a decent backyard rocketeer of reasonable knowledge and experience could manage, given the budget, in about that time frame. Hell, some amateur rocketeers build rockets which go 50 miles up on a shoestring budget. It really isn't that hard to do, actually, since most of the hard work (figuring out what works) has been done; it's really just a matter of engineering.

Another article about the record drop in the global temperature anomaly measures in the last 12 months. Still no sign of it in the mainstream media though. (The comments trailing this article are worth reading, too.)

This article begins with stuff about Wiccans, the guy who wrote the Converstions with God books, and such. And he avoids equating Harry Potter with Wicca, which is also good.

And he gets it right:
A few basics: "Wicca" and "witchcraft" are often used interchangeably, but they aren't exactly the same. While witchcraft goes back into ancient times, with many varieties springing from diverse cultures and worldviews, Wicca is a relatively modern nature-based religion first popularized in the 1950s by an Englishman named Gerald Gardner. Most "witches" today, at least in the Western World, are followers of the Wiccan religion. Although Gardner claimed he was resurrecting an ancient pre-Christian, matriarchal pagan religion, that is disputed – some historians saying he just made up parts of it. And while there are other forms of Wicca today besides "Gardnerian" Wicca, each with their own variations of belief, ritual and practice, all share certain basic features.
About 2/3 through the article, after some discussions of rituals and such, then he fires up the "God and Jesus" talk.

I still can't fault him, though. He did his homework and presented Wicca more-or-less as it is.

Still, I skimmed the rest of the article. I, an avowed Christian, can only take so much of that stuff before I start getting restless.

Thomas Sowell on the NYT's love of hoaxes. I swear, it's getting to the point that I take the New York Times about as seriously as I take the Weekly World News.

* * *

Finally, a spam--one--which caught my eye:

Alan Jurecki says, "When I was your age, we had eight inch floppies." Okay: so they had eight inch floppies when he was 40? I think the last time I even saw a computer which used 8" floppy disks was 1995. I can't remember if the AS/400 we had at work used them or not.

If not, then it was 1994 when I saw it. A friend's dad had an old old machine--I don't even remember the make--which was about the size of a dorm fridge, ran CP/M, was accessed via a dumb terminal, and used 8" floppies. It might have had as much as 64k of RAM in it.

I was 27 in 1994. As far as I know, some machines still exist which use 8" floppies, which means we still have 'em. WTF is Alan trying to tell me? Is he trying to talk about the progression of technology? (And how old is he? 54?)

So I gamely click the subject...and get: "Behind every great man lies a huge secret in his pants." It's a link that I'm not going to click on. But Alan's e-mail has been revealed for its true self: penis enlargement spam.

As if there was any doubt.

#936: The best quote on the Internet.

"The concrete was on fire!" And it really happened.

Went here for one last perusal before bed. It's about chlorine triflouride (ClF3) which has just become The Most Awesome Chemical in my mind because of an anecdote about a chemical spill related in this PDF.

"One eyewitness described the incident by stating, 'The concrete was on fire!'"

Quoth the first link:
The compound also a stronger oxidizing agent than oxygen itself, which also puts it into rare territory. That means that it can potentially go on to "burn" things that you would normally consider already burnt to hell and gone, and a practical consequence of that is that it’ll start roaring reactions with things like bricks and asbestos tile.
That's just incredible. And you don't want to be in the same room when it's doing this stuff, either, because one result of the reaction is hydrogen flouride: bubble it through water and you have hydroflouric acid, which is a pretty powerful acid. Yeech etc.

The writer of that blog quotes someone else: "For dealing with [a metal-flourine fire], I have always recommended a good pair of running shoes."

In short, be afraid of this stuff.

There are plenty of chemical compounds I already know I want nothing to do with: nitrogen tetroxide, red fuming nitric acid, and monomethyl hydrazine just to name a few, all of which are highly toxic, corrosive, and which will ruin or cancel your day if you come in direct contact with them. Chlorine triflouride is just the latest addition to the list.