The heavy metal umlaut

To counterbalance the deathsquad news, I shall now offer a lighthearted diversion.

The Wikipedia article about the heavy metal umlaut begins:
A heavy metal umlaut (aka röck döts) is an umlaut over a letter in the name of a heavy metal band. The use of umlauts and other diacritics with a blackletter style typeface is a form of foreign branding intended to give a band's logo a Germanic or Nordic quality.

The article includes a comprehensive list of umlauted bands and albums, including
spinal tap

(with its untypeable n-umlaut) and the Bill the Cat showcase Deathtöngue.

Metal Bill

There. Feeling less nauseated yet?

Nauseating news

albawaba.com Iraq:

Father and three sons shot dead: "However, a Defense Ministry spokesman denied any involvement of the Iraqi army, saying that the men most likely stole the uniforms in an attempt to tarnish the image of Iraqi security forces.

'Iraqi army uniforms litter the streets and any terrorist can kill and tarnish our image, killing two birds with one stone,' he said.

40 uniformed men in 10 vehicles, all observably army. Of course they're not army men, Mr Ministry Spokesman. Now tell me, which 10 vehicles were missing this morning? Or is your army bleeding so many supplies that 'insurgents' can put together 10 vehicles for a predawn raid into the suburbs?

Looks like we're back to state-directed death squads.

(news from Making Light)


Somebody stop this guy

A Californian atheist who has fought a series of legal battles seeking to bar religious references from American public life sued on Friday to remove the phrase "In God We Trust" from U.S. money and coins.

Okay, enough. I was (kind of) behind Newdow when he was arguing to strike "under god" from the Pledge of Allegiance, but now he needs to stop. Really. Parallels to William Jennings Bryan's impassioned and windy arguments in the monkey trial come to mind - but now it's from the other side. I'm all for atheism being protected just like any other belief system/religion, but this isn't helping.

By the way, at atheists.com you can buy yourself a faddish rubbery bracelets, enscribed with Foxhole Atheist or One Nation Undivisible or No Gods - No Masters. Cool, huh?

Top 20 geek novels -- the results! from Guardian Unlimited: Technology

Top 20 geek novels -- the results! from Guardian Unlimited: Technology: "1. The HitchHiker's Guide to the Galaxy -- Douglas Adams 85% (102)
2. Nineteen Eighty-Four -- George Orwell 79% (92)
3. Brave New World -- Aldous Huxley 69% (77)
4. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? -- Philip Dick 64% (67)
5. Neuromancer -- William Gibson 59% (66)
6. Dune -- Frank Herbert 53% (54)
7. I, Robot -- Isaac Asimov 52% (54)
8. Foundation -- Isaac Asimov 47% (47)
9. The Colour of Magic -- Terry Pratchett 46% (46)
10. Microserfs -- Douglas Coupland 43% (44)
11. Snow Crash -- Neal Stephenson 37% (37)
12. Watchmen -- Alan Moore & Dave Gibbons 38% (37)
13. Cryptonomicon -- Neal Stephenson 36% (36)
14. Consider Phlebas -- Iain M Banks 34% (35)
15. Stranger in a Strange Land -- Robert Heinlein 33% (33)
16. The Man in the High Castle -- Philip K Dick 34% (32)
17. American Gods -- Neil Gaiman 31% (29)
18. The Diamond Age -- Neal Stephenson 27% (27)
19. The Illuminatus! Trilogy -- Robert Shea & Robert Anton Wilson 23% (21)
20. Trouble with Lichen - John Wyndham 21% (19)

Posted mostly for my future reference. From a link in Neil Number One's blog.

Why Intelligent Design sells god short:

If omnipotent, omniscient god had a plan that included Jiffy Pop and American Gladiator, well, that's a little bit sad now, isn't it? I'm paraphrasing (freely) from Kristy's insightfully funny post from last week. She continues:: "whereas the theory of evolution allows for the idea that nature is messy and not always super efficient and thus has built-in explanations for things that are clearly evolutionarily awry, such as (in particular) the people i have to ride the bus with."

Vice President for Torture

Making Light, quoting CNN: "Turner's condemnation, delivered during an interview with Britain's ITV network, comes amid an effort by Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, to pass legislation forbidding any U.S. authority from torturing a prisoner. McCain was tortured as a Vietnam prisoner of war.
Cheney has lobbied against the legislation, prompting Turner to say he's 'embarrassed that the United States has a vice president for torture. I think it is just reprehensible.' "

So. McCain and Congress (through an amendment to a Defence appropriations bill) are insisting that the Army adhere to its own field manual and treat POWs (suspected Al Quaida or not) humanely. And the executive branch is so upset about this that they will veto the bill if it passes the senate.

Excuse me, I can't type with all this steam coming out of my ears.

Okay, I'm recovering, having read that former CIA Director Adm. Stansfield Turner, god bless him, is speaking out against Cheney's horribly reprehensible behavior.

Least happy dog ever

no roses for harry

Free association:

No Roses for Harry

Dog sweater = Dog Kryptonite

Doggy body language: ears back, not angry but dejected

"What fresh hell is this?"


Phony Theory, False Conflict

Phony Theory, False Conflict c/o Making Light

What could be more elegant, more simple, more brilliant, more economical, more creative, indeed more divine than a planet with millions of life forms, distinct and yet interactive, all ultimately derived from accumulated variations in a single double-stranded molecule, pliable and fecund enough to give us mollusks and mice, Newton and Einstein? Even if it did give us the Kansas State Board of Education, too.


Honda Dog

Honda's Wonderful Openhearted Wagon (WOW for short) concept car is a heck of an exercise in niche marketing. It makes me feel a wee bit embarrased to be a dog owner. There is a lapdog-sized crate build into the dash. There is no carpeting to collect dog hair, and the seats are wooden with washable pads(!!). There are tiedowns everywhere, in and out. A basket-shaped dog podium pops up between the front and back seat, so Bowser can see out the window and reach over to snuffle the driver's ear.

The rest of the Honda Dog website describes standard-model from a dog's eye view - "Will my Pyrenees fit in this hatchback?" you ask? Check out the doggie-model stretched out in the backseat - dalmatians, at least, find it comfy.


Rob Brezsny says:


In my astrological opinion, you really need to kiss the mist on the grass at dawn. For your life to be a complete success,

you should also gaze at the tops of trees regularly,

make a wish as you spit into a pond where the moon is reflected, and arrange for the sun to shine on the back of your neck as you sing an improvised ballad about your future. And if you'd like to earn some extra credit with the deities, making it impossible for them to resist sending you a bolt of brilliant cosmic juju, I advise you to eat a cookie while imagining it's the body of your favorite god or goddess.

From Free Will Astrology

I'm the kind of weirdo that goes out of her way to find apartments with big trees outside, visible from my pillow if possible so as to ease the transition from sleep to ugh, morning.

I've been tree-gazing forever - since second grade at least. I remember my mom coming in to my classroom and kneeling by my desk so I could show her the shapes in the branches and in the snips of sky between. I find trees really soothing - I think it's a geometric order / organic randomness kind of thing.

bur oak at night

It feels good to get reinforcement for what I want to do anyway from a nationally syndicated soothsayer.

Whale burgers

This is a whale burger:


This is a pretty young woman eating a whale burger:

girl with whaleburger

I learned this morning that Japan's whaling fleet is on its way to Antarctica to catch almost 1000 whales "for scientific purposes." Why are they doing it?

Whaling boats have been setting out from Japan for 1000 years. "Passive whaling" - the butchering of dead or stranded whales - has taken place in Japan since prehistoric times. After World War II, there was a severe shortage of food in Japan. Meat harvested by the whaling fleet was a big help in alleviating the famine. In the 1950s, two factors: rise of a stable livestock industry, and: modernization led to a tapering off of the market for whale meat. By the 1960s the government of Japan had a surplus of whale meat on its hands, and so whale meat became a regular part of school lunches for a generation.

Most Japanese people have not eaten whale meat since childhood. A small, vocal group of people feel that eating whale is a crucial part of Japanese culture and must be carried into the future. But their website is strangely lacking in cultural context and human history - the history page details the rise of whaling technology - "Claws (tail fin pinchers) appears" - but says nothing about the cultural importance of whale consumption, which is the stated issue:

[Since most of the world is in agreement, why doesn't Japan just stop?] We cannot agree with this view. Asking Japan to abandon this part of its culture
would compare to Australians being asked to stop eating meat pies, Americans
being asked to stop eating hamburgers and the English being asked to go without
fish and chips.

Attitudes toward animals are a part of national cultures. No
nations should try to impose their attitudes on others.

(from http://www.whaling.jp/english/qa.html)

The moratorium on whaling came through in 1986, when it was agreed that there was not enough information about whale populations and limiting factors to allow for any harvesting - the resource could not be managed without better information. There was a loophole for the taking of whales for scientific purposes, and a handful of countries have taken full advantage of the loophole. Japan has taken around 450 whales each year since the moratorium took effect, and this year they are doubling that number.

Hurry, gotta teach all the teenagers to loooove whale burgers.


Kansas Board of Education

Grrrrowl! My neighbors over the border in Kansas will be welcoming Intelligent Design into their schools. Stupid, stupid, stupid.

There's a good primer here about the kind of arguments the creationists (oops sorry, intelligent designists) put forward, and why it's hogwash. My favorite argument is #6: "If humans descended from monkeys, why are there still monkeys?"

Sam says:
I want you
(from Extra Ugly)

And as long as we're positing cosmological theories,

The New Black

I hearby declare a moratorium on the phrase "______ is the new black." I've been building up to this move for weeks. I mean, 15 years ago when I first heard that brown was the new black, I thought it was an interesting turn of phrase. 18 months ago when somebody put out a magazine with the cover story "Mutts are the New Black!" that was cute, novel, clever. Now I hear the phrase almost daily and it's not fun anymore.

Just now I was over at Sheets & Blankets, in the middle of laughing my ass off at an account of a science fiction convention , when I read this: "*There are so many dudes here in kilts and sarongs. Freeballin' seems to be the new black." It could have been funny, but I am so burnt on the words "the new black" that I stopped laughing and came over here to complain. There, I'm done. If you are now or have ever been interested in what goes on at cons, go read this wicked funny description.


Woo Hoo!


More info on National Drunk Writing Night is here.

(thanks to Brian at Brianology for passing on the news).


Mouse-song serenade

Researchers at Washington University in St Louis pitch-shifted the ultrasonic vocalizations that boy-mice make when a girl-mouse walks by. Their first observation was: "Wow. This sounds just like birdsong." Being scientists with access to cool technology, they used a computer to analyze the pitch changes and pattern of vocalizations over time. It turns out each boy-mouse sings his own song to woo the girls, even though all the boy-mice in the study were (clones) identical twins. You can listen to mouse-song here and here.

Nature's article will soon be unreachable to non-subscribers (grrrrr!). The original journal article (Holy TE, Guo Z (2005) Ultrasonic Songs of Male Mice. PLoS Biol 3(12): e386) is published under a Creative Commons Attribution License.

I am most intrigued by this idea (from the Holy/Guo paper):

. . .wild mice might exhibit considerably greater diversity and/or more complex structure in their songs.
Now. May I draw a line under my complete lack of sophistication? Here it is: my number one news source is the Crickler news puzzle. I first ran across the mouse-song study there.


You Knit What??

There is a brilliant blog here that made me fall down laughing. They have a particular passion for mocking large fun fur projects and those handknit monstrosities that leave the people semi-nekkid. (I had to google "HYUK" which is short for Hip Young Urban Knitters)

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