Comments or suggestions: Gerard Van der Leun

Pure Products of America

The It's-Not-Butter Brand Blight

"Made with sweet cream BUTTERmilk"


This, of course, was only the beginning of the tsunami of NotButterBullshit.





And finally the saddest of them all....


Posted by gerardvanderleun at Aug 13, 2016 11:32 AM |  Comments (11)  | QuickLink: Permalink
It's a Small Sad World Coming Kids. Get Used to It


Let's face it. Kids today are getting a smaller, cheaper, and less free world than the one we got from out parents. To help them adjust Playmobil and other sensitive companies are issuing examples of the brave, new, sad, small world. Item: Playmobil Security Check Point


Yes, it is the sort of thing that makes you think, "Hey, they've got to be kidding!" And yet it seems to be genuine.

"Comes with tiny laytex gloves for body cavity searches."

What's lacking here, of course, is a Playmobil terrorist with an exploding vest to stand in the line. After all, what better way to screw up the air traffic system and kill hundreds of Americans than to just detonate in some endless line at some hub airport just before reaching security?

Who? Me?

What Playmobil has to say about this toy: The woman traveler stops by the security checkpoint. After placing her luggage on the screening machine, the airport employee checks her baggage. The traveler hands her spare change and watch to the security guard and proceeds through the metal detector. With no time to spare, she picks up her luggage and hurries to board her flight!

Popular Amazon customer tags for the toy:

A couple of Amazon customer "reviews" of the toy:

This toy would be a lot more realistic with about 350 people standing in line for an average of an hour. It still makes a nice set with the interrogation room.

I will never need to buy toothpaste again thanks to Playmobil. Not realizing this was a toy I purchased it to prepare for my interview as a TSA agent. Needless to say I aced it and have been happily viewing xrays of carry-on luggage and shoes ever since. As noted above, the free toothpaste is just icing on the cake - never expected a free lifetime supply, but who's complaining. This is a "must-have" for any aspiring TSA agent out there

You might think the most depressing thing about this item is its existence. You'd be wrong. The most depressing thing is the Amazon note saying: "Currently unavailable. We don't know when or if this item will be back in stock." Why should this be so? Don't you want one? I know I do. It seems to me that every time the TSA gets more demented there would be a surge in purchases for this set just so citizens could blow them up with M-80s in their backyards.

I'm shorting Playmobil since it obviously doesn't know it has a winner here.

HT via Larwyn The Corner on National Review Online


UPDATE: Rare. There's only one on eBay. NEW - Airport Security Checkpoint - Playmobil Set 3172 - eBay (item 130353762876 end time Jan-19-10 15:38:30 PST)

In these troubled times, with danger seeming to lurk behind every corner, no playmobil community can afford to be without a trained force of security professionals. Assisted by the latest in threat detection equipment (powered by your imagination; in the absence thereof, threats may pass undetected), these brave men and women stand ever vigilant, ready to foil any dastardly plot to bring harm to their fellow citizens. With their inquisitive eyes and friendly smiles, they are both watchful and courteous, perfect guardians in an imperfect world.

Posted by Vanderleun at May 5, 2016 6:43 AM |  Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Innovations: "So, if you're out tonight, don't forget, if you're on your bike, wear white." -- Mick Jagger

Project Aura: Bicycle Safety Lighting System Riding at night can be a daunting and dangerous task; many biking commuters are faced with the issue of being obscured when riding on the streets.

Visibility at night is a vital component of biker safety, hence the need for reflectors and attachable lights. However, some of these devices are not always effective especially from the side. We created a system that requires very little rider input and maintenance, while increasing the visual footprint of bikers from all directions especially from the side. We accomplished this by expanding the surface area of light emitted through the use of RGB LEDs inside the rims of the wheels that change from red when slowing down to white when at cruising speed. It should be noted that Project Aura is a lighting system which allows a rider to be seen, but does not replace a forward facing headlight to illuminate the roadway.

[HT: Sake White]

Posted by gerardvanderleun at Nov 6, 2015 6:05 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
The Exosuit


What Tony Stark Would Wear Underwater: Meet the Exosuit. It's a $600,000 atmospheric diving suit capable of taking a human 1,000 feet underwater at surface pressure, and it's the first of its kind. If you have dramatic music handy, you should go ahead and play it, because this thing is insane.

Posted by gerardvanderleun at Mar 6, 2014 1:36 PM |  Comments (8)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Building the 1946 Lincoln ICON Derelict
Posted by gerardvanderleun at Feb 9, 2014 11:14 PM |  Comments (6)  | QuickLink: Permalink
And now a word from our sponsor: The Obama Gold Plate

Stuff White People Like Alert: "A collectible of the highest quality and integrity:"

PULL! **

Coming next-- The Joe Biden Chia Pet. (As foretold by Connecticut Yankee)

Posted by Vanderleun at Nov 29, 2008 12:20 PM |  Comments (21)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Car Commercial Breakthrough

The. Most. Politically. Incorrect. Commercial. Ever.

Chevy Tahoe: The Apprentice

C'mon, you know it makes you want one.

Posted by Vanderleun at Jan 5, 2006 5:01 PM |  Comments (3)  | QuickLink: Permalink
It Seemed Like A Good Idea at the Time

Posted by Vanderleun at Dec 16, 2004 4:41 PM |  Comments (3)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Working It Out

Should you feel a sudden urge to get out of your chair and exercise, watch this cutting-edge fitness video and it will pass.

WARNING: The management of this site is not responsible for any lasting mental damage, permanent facial twitching, or incidents of spontaneous human combustion.

Posted by Vanderleun at Dec 3, 2004 11:47 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
That was *so* last year's gift


We interrupt your regularly scheduled content for a note from Mrs. VDL. Don't worry, Mr. American Digest will return tomorrow.

The December issue of Coast magazine (which is tossed on our driveway monthly for free) includes the obligatory gift guide for befuddled holiday shoppers. Just to show how culturally-savvy my dad is, one of the presents that he gave Gerard last year is featured in the magazine’s collection of this year’s hot-hot gifts.

Yes, I’m talking about Mr. Wonderful, and when I wrote about him last year, it was my first-ever post:

"The biggest laugh of Christmas morning came when my witty and urbane husband Gerard opened a large package containing Mr. Wonderful, a 12” talking doll that spouts off 16 different phrases when you squeeze his palm. He’s every woman’s dream come true, in plastic, anyway. Handsome, sensitive, and a good listener, he says things that women want to hear, but seldom do, like:
You know honey, why don't you just relax and let me make dinner tonight?

Why don't we go to the mall? Didn't you want some new shoes?

You know, I think it's really important that we talk about our relationship.

You've been on my mind all day. That's why I bought you these flowers."

The original post is here.

Fish Highway


"Imagine a means for fish to swim out the top of your aquarium, up to the ceiling, across the room and then down into another tank. That's a fish highway ."


Posted by Vanderleun at Nov 29, 2004 7:39 PM |  Comments (3)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Deer That Are The Headlights

I like to think
(right now, please!)
of a cybernetic forest
filled with pines and electronics
where deer stroll peacefully
past computers
as if they were flowers
with spinning blossoms.

        -- Richard Brautigan , 1967

Bambi's brood, known as either "cute," "rats with antlers," or "the most lethal animal in North America" when you hit them with your car, are up for some genetic modification @ NIGHTSAVE DEER

With over 500,000 deer/auto collisions every year, the cost in lives and money is staggering

While insurers pay over a billion dollars in claims annually, over 200 people are killed. Countless other drivers and passengers suffer injuries and other serious medical complications.

By implanting the gene of a special jellyfish into deer, the transgenic NIGHTSAVE deer produced by GENETIATE (patent pending) have fluorescing hair and skin when illuminated by car headlights. The implanted gene has no other effect on the deer, who appear normal in daylight.

The NIGHTSAVE project aims to reduce the number of night time deer/auto collisions, saving the lives of both deer and people.

But what about the jellyfish? Are we to IGNORE the billions of jellyfish lives that will be destroyed just to save a few Bambis. Is it because jellyfish aren't cuddly that we consign them to doom? Just what is PETA's position on jellyfish anyway? What haven't we heard from them?

Posted by Vanderleun at Nov 13, 2004 8:59 AM |  Comments (2)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Designer Soda Craze Hits New Low


File under "Holiday gifts for people I hate" : The Jones Soda Co. Holiday Pack

Jones Soda Co. (the "Company" or "Jones Soda" or "Jones"), announces today its limited edition holiday pack of five new seasonal flavors which includes: Green Bean Casserole Soda, Mashed Potato & Butter Soda, Fruitcake Soda, Cranberry Soda and Turkey & Gravy Soda.

"Our holiday pack takes the work, worries and cost out of preparing a turkey dinner, so our consumers can spend more time with their loved ones. We even included utensils," says Peter van Stolk, President & C.E.O. "We realized consumers are concerned about the 2,000 calories that each full holiday meal contains. That’s why we made our sodas zero calories and zero carbs. Now, you can enjoy all the mashed potatoes and butter without worrying about the carbs."

Good News: The online ordering store is closed for repairs.
Bad News: It opens November 11.

Posted by Vanderleun at Nov 9, 2004 9:26 AM |  Comments (3)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Take Back the Blight!


This has gone to the top of my Christmas giving list. It is a simple device that

"Hangs on your keychain and turns off virtually any television in 3 continents! "
-- Order from TV-B-Gone From Cornfield Electronics
If you're like me and have grown to loathe the increasing penetration of television into every niche of public life (bars, airports, laundromats, restaurants, waiting rooms, etc. etc. etc.), this is a gift from God.

Imagine being able to simply sit in a place and have a quiet drink, a decent converstation over coffee, or just wait and read quietly. Hard to imagine since the plague of television has now spread over our public spaces like the chicken pox of the soul.

Don't get me wrong. I "like" television. I like it too much when I'm at home. But when I do not like it is when it is assumed that every place in the world needs to have a televison going lest people have to sit down with themselves and others. i especially don't like it since the tubes are invariably tuned to insanely boring shows with the sound cranked over the top of the range of the human voice, or muted. It's a distraction for mouthbreathers.

With this subtle item on your keychain, you've got the power to alter the world for the better in many, many places. I'm expecting great things from this little item. Great things.

P.S. Yes, yes, Wired did an article on this, but I got this pointer from the far hipper and more valuable growabrain. [Which if you are not checking out regularly, you are missing out regularly.]

Posted by Vanderleun at Oct 21, 2004 12:50 AM |  Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Unclear on the Deeper Meaning


It seems like everyday I'm confronted with something the deeper meaning of which utterly confounds me.

Case in point : The Conference Bike Movie

To my mind the deeper meaning could be one of two things:

1) This proves that the terrorists can never win.

2) This proves that the terrorists deserve to win.

Which is it? You tell me.

Posted by Vanderleun at Oct 15, 2004 7:16 PM |  Comments (4)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Scent for a Woman

What is it men in women do require
The lineaments of Gratified Desire

What is it women do in men require
The lineaments of Gratified Desire

--- William Blake

Although I am sure I am not the first man to have this insight, shortly after my daughter was born I remember holding her and nuzzling her then small and delicate head. The odor of a young baby is difficult to describe especially with a dusting of baby powder, but I recall thinking on more than one occasion that if a men's cologne company wanted to corner the market it would isolate and bottle the aroma. It could be marketed under the name "New Baby." I was sure the scent would prove to be irresistible to women.

Now Rickey James at the invaluable SciScoop reports that a scent emitted by one woman can stimulate desire in women around her. The catch is that she has to be breastfeeding.

From a monumentally important press release by the University of  Chicago:  Breastfeeding women and their infants produce a substance that increases sexual desire among other women, according to research at the University of Chicago.

"This is the first report in humans of a natural social chemosignal that increases sexual motivation," said Martha McClintock, the David Lee Shillinglaw Distinguished Service Professor in Psychology at the University, and the lead researcher in a team at the University's Institute for Mind and Biology. Chemosignals are substances that while not necessarily perceived as odors, nonetheless have an impact on mood and menstrual cycles when absorbed through the nose.

Not immediately useful, we still remain certain that manufactures of men's cologne will be drawn to this discovery like like dogs to a meat truck. You can smell the profits from here.

Posted by Vanderleun at Oct 10, 2004 12:23 AM |  Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
That Magic Menu @ "MEAT SHAKE"


MEAT SHAKE®, the franchise that takes the Atkins Diet up to levels previously undreamed of, has developed a line of

Celeb Specialty Shakes

Ricky's "Liver La Vida Loca" Shake
(Liver, Anchoivies, Avocados, Salsa)
Lars' "Mutton Else Matters" Shake
(Lamb, Cabbage, Tomatos, Honey Mustard)
Mel & Arnold's "Use the Schwartz" Shake
(Austrian Brautwurst, Sauerkraut, Creatine)
P.B. Wolf 's "Who Remixed Roger Rabbit?" Shake
(Welsh Rabbit, Mixed Greens, Carrots, Vinagerette)
Danny A's "Old-School Bassomatic" Shake
(Whole Uncooked Bass, Chocolate Chips, Vanilla Soft Serve)
Henson's "It Ain't Easy Being Green" Shake
(Boneless Frog Legs, Butter, Fresh Mint)

You may be revolted by these culinary disasters. You may be outraged at this proof the United States has "WAY TOO MUCH FOOD®". You may prefer to have your meatshakes in the privacy of your own home with kittens and blenders. You may even think ever so slightly that the whole MEAT SHAKE® frenzy has the whiff of a hoax about it....

I know. I think these un-American thoughts too.

My shame is that I actually know close friends who would, given the opportunity, not only patronize MEAT SHAKE®, but seek to buy a franchise.

Posted by Vanderleun at Oct 1, 2004 7:51 AM |  Comments (3)  | QuickLink: Permalink
And the Back of the Leather Jacket says, "Born to Mow"

WANT TO GET YOUR KID TO MOW THE LAWN? Just buy one of these.

Posted by Vanderleun at Aug 1, 2004 10:38 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
Kerry Medicare Reform Plan Takes Shape


HOT OFF THE WIRES FROM REUTERS: Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry (news - web sites) demonstrates a lynchpin of his plan (news - web sites) to curb excess Medicare expenses (news - web sites) through the use of revolutionary high-tech devices such as this combination MRI / Colonoscopy unit (news - web sites) developed by Uber-Blodders David Sifry, Joi Ito, and David Winer (news - web sites) after a long sushi/sake/bean/brew/burger lunch break at Loch Ober's in Boston. (news - web sites) .

"These blodders," candidate Kerry opined halfway through the procedure which would leave him squeaky clean for his Thursday night stemwinder, (news - web sites) " ... these blodders, I say, are quite the innovative set. By combining MRI/Colonoscopy with an RSS/ATOM/XML/MIMEOGRAPH/WEBCAST feed (news - web sites) from the examination, we can cut Medicare costs by at least $485.50 for guys like me but with less money (news - web sites).

"This, combined with my plan for our Great Nation's return to 60% taxation for everyone earning as much as one slim dime above the poverty line (news - web sites) , will leave the Federal Government (news - web sites) with enough revenue to handle my proposed reparations to everybody except those of the Anglo-Saxon persuasion (news - web sites) and supporters of Isreal and abortion reform (news - web sites). And now, on to Boston, where I lived before and after my wound-drenched service in Vietnam (news - web sites).

The Democrat-Elect then took a quick refreshing sponge bath before making a MeetUp date with Dave, Dave, and Joi (news - web sites) for a hot-chat session (news - web sites) on Thursday Afternoon in order to keep himself up to the minute on the latest exciting analysis from the 20 Blods that actually like him. (news - web sites)

After that it was off to the jet for Democrat-Elect Kerry, who paused on the way out of the cleansing facility to remark that his wife, knowing of this examination, had actually been addressing him with her "Shove it!" remark (news - web sites).

"Just another case of the radical right failing to understand what a loaded woman she is (news - web sites) ... and I'm not just talking Chardonnay." (news - web sites) REUTERS/Handout/MEDICARE
Yahoo! News - Top Stories Photos - Reuters (news - web sites)

Posted by Vanderleun at Jul 26, 2004 10:42 PM |  Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Not Available in Stores

OKAY, WE ALL KNEW THIS WAS COMING, but not this fast:

Posted by Vanderleun at Jul 24, 2004 2:57 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
Low-Budget Ipod


Posted by Vanderleun at Jul 24, 2004 2:29 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
You Wear It Backwards, You Die

It's not just a baseball cap: it's a gas mask for the average American

"Boris Altshuler, left, and James Reynolds, president of CR Clean Air Technologies, received a patent for their baseball cap-style gas mask. Their goal was to create a lightweight, portable gas mask that could be used by the average American in the event of a chemical attack."

Posted by Vanderleun at Jul 19, 2004 12:48 PM | QuickLink: Permalink

Who's it gonna be? Farm Fresh Oatmeal & Chocolate or Olde Pumpkin Spice?

THEY BAKE, YOU DECIDE! Laura Bush and the highly hyphenated Teresa Heinz-Kerry have both submitted their cookie recipies to Family Circle. The magazine has made them available at: Family Circle Presents: 2004 Election Cookie Cookoff (AKA The Hillary Rodham Clinton I Don't Got to Bake You No Steenkin' Cookies Memorial).

You head to the page and you imagine, or perhaps you actually bake, the cute little morsels.

Then you savor either the rich chewy goodness of robust oatmeal slathered with moist and meltingly sweet tang of the finest chocolate chunks, or the sharp, sophisticated tang of strange French tasting spices rammed unremittingly into the dank goo of old pumpkin.

Then you make you unbiased vote at the site for First Lady Laura Bush's heavenly American creations, or Lucky Widow and Wannabe Teresa Heinz Kerry's appeasement wafers.

I've already made my choice but I won't say which in order not to color the results.

Remember: Vote early and vote often.

Posted by Vanderleun at Jul 11, 2004 2:06 PM |  Comments (3)  | QuickLink: Permalink
When You Care Enough to Send the Very Breast

"JUSTGOTEM" is "the world's first and only Breast Augmentation aftercare gift-box E-tailer."

We suggest you go big, go "Diamond."


"What do you get a girl who has everything?"
"More of the same."

Posted by Vanderleun at Jun 27, 2004 12:55 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
2004 SUV Models Announced

By MasterFarker cranberryzero@yahoocom.

Posted by Vanderleun at Jun 12, 2004 8:53 PM |  Comments (7)  | QuickLink: Permalink
If Bush and Kerry Had Been Riding This, They'd Still Be Riding


NOT ONLY THAT, THEY'D BE STYLING ON the New Schwinn Sting-Ray Muscle Bike

Part chopper. Part cruiser.
100% muscle bike --
The new Schwinn Sting-Ray is all about the ride. Built with customized parts -- like the Big Boa Tire and signature V-back Handlebars -- it's no wonder Schwinn Sting-Rays are endorsed by Orange County Choppers. Straddle the saddle and hit the pavement... the rebirth of cool has arrived.

Don't miss the Schwinn Sting-Ray - TV Spots. Go for the 60 second one.

Posted by Vanderleun at May 28, 2004 7:16 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
If Bush and Kerry Had Been Riding This, They'd Still Be Riding


NOT ONLY THAT, THEY'D BE STYLING ON the New Schwinn Sting-Ray Muscle Bike

Part chopper. Part cruiser.
100% muscle bike --
The new Schwinn Sting-Ray is all about the ride. Built with customized parts -- like the Big Boa Tire and signature V-back Handlebars -- it's no wonder Schwinn Sting-Rays are endorsed by Orange County Choppers. Straddle the saddle and hit the pavement... the rebirth of cool has arrived.

Don't miss the Schwinn Sting-Ray - TV Spots. Go for the 60 second one.

Posted by Vanderleun at May 28, 2004 7:16 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
Blogging Software Analyzed By Feature Set

USEFUL INFORMATION: Blog Software Breakdown "This chart displays attributes of different user-installed blog software packages."

Posted by Vanderleun at May 25, 2004 5:24 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
David Wong's Ideal War Sim


DAVID WONG'S BRILLIANT AND BITING SATIRE: The Ultimate War Sim, lays out just what would make him happy in a new version of Starcraft.

17. In my Public Support display let me find out that the news media has run, in the same magazine, one story blasting us for going to war for minerals and another story blasting us for not acting on the continuing mineral shortage back home.


There should also be simultaneous stories about the outrageous expense of the war effort, and another about how the troops are under-funded and under-equipped. Set it so that I somehow lose Public Support points with each story.

18. I want to be able to build a POW camp structure where enemy soldiers and suicide bombers are held should they somehow survive battle or should their suicide bombing only be half-successful. I want to right-click on the building and open an option that says "Interrogate Prisoners," which will make parts of the map open up and reveal enemy positions, saving my own units from ambushes.

Then, I want a little cutscene to pop up to announce that photos of my prisoner interrogations have emerged, sparking international outrage because several prisoners were upset and humiliated and some even physically harmed.

The whole world is shocked. Because people were physically harmed.

In a war.

So, I leave the battlefield...

...and brush the flaming chunks of bomb victims off my boots to address the worldwide outrage over the enemy soldiers who had their self-esteem damaged. The game will bring me up on a Court-Martial, everybody pointing out that it was I who clicked the little Interrogation icon. I want to lose tons of Public Support points and have every game objective suddenly put in doubt.

Sounds like fun. We'll have to play it someday.

Posted by Vanderleun at May 22, 2004 6:31 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
Ingredient Not Normally Found in Candy Bars


WHEN IT GETS TO THIS POINT, don't you think the right thing to do in the war on some drugs is just sit down, surrender, and have a candy bar?


The Division of Forensic Toxicology, Armed Forces Institute of Pathology (Rockville, Maryland), recently received two apparent candy bars labelled as Stoners and Buddafinga, that were visually similar to the commercial candy bars Snickers® and Butterfingers® (see Photo 1, right, and 2, next page). The bars, which weighed approximately 60 g each and were packaged in foil wrappers, were forwarded to the laboratory by the Coast Guard Marine Safety Office, San Francisco Bay, where they had been provided by a defense attorney for a merchant marine who tested positive for the tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) metabolite, THC-COOH, during a random urinalysis.

-- DEA's Microgram Bulletin

Posted by Vanderleun at May 20, 2004 5:14 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
Instabooks at Bookends
Beginning next week, Bookends in Ridgewood, N.J., will be a POD guinea pig, as it were, when it becomes the first U.S. bookseller to install an InstaBook machine, which allows for on-demand printing of trade paperbacks. (Several have been placed in Canadian stores.)

InstaBook says it has about 10,000 titles available on the machine; about 6,000 of them are non-custom books. It is concentrating on expanding the "list," mostly in the public-domain and out-of-print sphere. But the company also is courting traditional large publishers who want to make backlist titles available at point-of-sale. It has reached such an agreement with Penguin Canada.

Bookends owner Walter Boyer touted his ability to serve those who want some classics, customized publishing, self-pubbed and out-of-print authors and anyone else in need of a quick, inexpensive title in book form. "We're definitely becoming a publisher," says Boyer, whose store, a small, event-heavy venue in an upper-middle-class New York City suburb, is not big enough to hold the title selection of a superstore.
More at: - Jersey Bookseller Becomes Publisher, Too

Posted by Vanderleun at May 10, 2004 4:32 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
Well, Okay, If You Say So

"The most original entertainment and promotional innovation of the decade!"


See this in action at: Trading Places Films

-- From Walking Illusions

Found through the amazing growabrain

Posted by Vanderleun at May 4, 2004 12:31 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
Good News for Drunks Who Need to Stay Awake at the Wheel

"Starbucks Coffee and Jim Beam Brands have announced a development and distribution agreement to develop, manufacture, and market a Starbucks-branded premium coffee liqueur product in the U.S. The product will be tested in two U.S. markets later this year.

"The premium coffee liqueur product will be available for sale at licensed establishments, such as restaurants, bars, and retail outlets where premium distilled spirits are sold. The product will not be sold in Starbucks retail stores. "
-- From QSR Magazine

Posted by Vanderleun at Apr 17, 2004 5:26 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
Just in Case This Iraq Thing Doesn't Work Out


Ford Offers Armored Lincoln Town Car
Armored Car Market Skyrocketing After Sept. 11
Ford Motor Co. is marketing an armored Lincoln Town Car that can withstand rounds of fire from assault rifles, handguns and submachine guns, according to a Local 6 News report.

The "Ballistic Protection Series" version of the Lincoln Town Car features a reinforced body with ceramic and steel and is equipped with thick bulletproof windows.

Since Sept. 11, the armored car market has been growing 20 percent a year, according to the report.

The car, which looks like all other Town Cars, sells for more than $140,000.

The car will only be offered in the United States, according to a report.


Posted by Vanderleun at Apr 16, 2004 3:55 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
On Beyond Seqway


A square wheel may be the ultimate flat tire. There's no way it can roll over a flat, smooth road without a sequence of jarring bumps.

Stan Wagon, a mathematician at Macalester College in St. Paul, Minn., has a bicycle with square wheels. It's a weird contraption, but he can ride it perfectly smoothly. His secret is the shape of the road over which the wheels roll.
-- From Math Trek

Posted by Vanderleun at Apr 12, 2004 10:08 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
American Love Story

by Mike Dockins

1. The Girl

Hallelujah, she knows how to shoot pool.
She sinks her eight ball, drinks me under
the table. I whimper for a date, smooch,
a slap. She hits the jukebox, that old song.
I change taverns but she's there: pigtails
that fill me with moon silt and planet jelly,
lips that just keep on being lips, little belly
I want to ski across. At home she's on top
of the fridge, dog-earing my favorite Azorean
epic. She drives the bus I take, cleans my
teeth, cuts my hair, cashes my paychecks,
taunting me: Going out tonight, Jerry? See
you there, Doll, I say, shaking with optimism.

2. The Scheme

If I can carry the pigskin ten more yards,
she'll take me to the movies, an action flick
with Swiss banks and tanks and jagged Alps.
I'll miss hockey, but her swinging ponytail
is better than a puck slung on ice. Her face
becomes warm, hot, thermonuclear. God,
I love her. She has perfect teeth, a straight
spine, and thighs that make frat boys bang
petulant fists during beer pong. Lord, if I sink
this basket, she'll marry me in Lake Tahoe: my
feet in Nevada, hers in California. If I'm clever,
I'll slip into a triple-cherry slot, and I'll love her
more with each rolling coin, each lucky pull.

From The Gettysburg Review

Posted by Vanderleun at Apr 4, 2004 7:22 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
A Record to Run On

A Second Term: The argument for.. brief and to the point.

-- via Instapundit

Posted by Vanderleun at Mar 30, 2004 8:10 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
So You Want to Be A Large-Animal Vet, Eh?

This seems to brought good and valuable work of to a screeching halt for the last 24 hours.

They are in our prayers for a speedy and complete recovery.

Posted by Vanderleun at Mar 10, 2004 1:37 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
Flashlight of the Year
Could your flashlight cause two 6 ft. 300 pound men in full attack mode to drop to the ground like two 300 lb. sacks of potatoes, curl up in the fetal position and scream for mercy?
The TigerLight® Non-Lethal Defense System Did.
Could your flashlight incapacitate a driver during a stop in the split second he was pulling up his gun to blow your head off?

The TigerLight® Non-Lethal Defense System Did.
-- TigerLight: The Light With a Bite!

When flashlights are outlawed....

Posted by Vanderleun at Mar 9, 2004 12:29 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
Smart Mobs Get Smarter

Ah, humans. So inventive. So clever.

"When cellphones are outlawed only.... "

Click HERE for a short video demonstrating the last word in personal, breeze-through-the-checkpoints, security.

Posted by Vanderleun at Mar 7, 2004 1:03 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
What's Just-So-Wrong With This Picture?

[Click to enlarge]

Another fun product from: Gobler Toys

Posted by Vanderleun at Feb 17, 2004 11:57 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
They're Coming to America

So, tell me again about how everyone, everywhere hates this arrogant, terrible, violent, imperialistic, overbearing country.

"Got a '59 Buick to take them there..."

A group of Cubans sails toward the Florida Straits on a modified 1959 Buick Tuesday February 3, 2004. The pilots were the same two men who tried to sail a converted 1951 Chevy flatbed truck to the U.S. last year. Nine other Cubans, including wives and children, were intercepted by the U.S Coast Guard on Tuesday Feb. 3, 2004. (AP Photo/CBS4, HO)
Everywhere around the world
They're coming to America.
Everytime that flag's unfurled,
They're coming to America.
Got a dream to take them there,
They're coming to America.
Got a dream they come to share,
They're coming to America.
They're coming to America.

-- Neil Diamond-America

Now you might think these refugees from a Communist dictatorship are crazy to try and get in this way, but do you have any idea what a cherry '59 Buick is worth in Florida, once you dry it out?

You'll note they tried it before with a flatbed Chevy truck. Bad idea. No resale value.

Posted by Vanderleun at Feb 4, 2004 11:05 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
On Liberty
"Come nigh them awhile and though they neither speak or advise you shall learn the faithful American lesson. Liberty is poorly served by men whose good intent is quelled from one failure or two failures or any number of failures, or from the casual indifference or ingratitude of the people, or from the sharp show of the tushes of power, or the bringing to bear soldiers and cannon or any penal statutes.

"Liberty relies upon itself, invites no one, promises nothing, sits in calmness and light, is positive and composed, and knows no discouragement.

"The battle rages with many a loud alarm and frequent advance and retreat . . . the enemy triumphs . . . . the prison, the handcuffs, the iron necklace and anklet, the scaffold, garrote and leadballs do their work . . . . the cause is asleep . . . . the strong throats are choked with their own blood . . . . the young men drop their eyelashes toward the ground when they pass each other . . . . and is liberty gone out of that place? No never.

"When liberty goes it is not the first to go nor the second or third to go . . it waits for all the rest to go . . it is the last. . . When the memories of the old martyrs are faded utterly away . . . . when the large names of patriots are laughed at in the public halls from the lips of the orators . . . . when the boys are no more christened after the same but christened after tyrants and traitors instead . . . . when the laws of the free are grudgingly permitted and laws for informers and bloodmoney are sweet to the taste of the people . . . . when I and you walk abroad upon the earth stung with compassion at the sight of numberless brothers answering our equal friendship and calling no man master---and when we are elated with noble joy at the sight of slaves . . . . when the soul retires in the cool communion of the night and surveys its experience and has much extasy over the word and deed that put back a helpless innocent person into the gripe of the gripers or into any cruel inferiority . . . . when those in all parts of these states who could easier realize the true American character but do not yet---when the swarms of cringers, suckers, doughfaces, lice of politics, planners of sly involutions for their own preferment to city offices or state legislatures or the judiciary or congress or the presidency, obtain a response of love and natural deference from the people whether they get the offices or no . . . . when it is better to be a bound booby and rogue in office at a high salary than the poorest free mechanic or farmer with his hat unmoved from his head and firm eyes and a candid and generous heart . . . . and when servility by town or state or the federal government or any oppression on a large scale or small scale can be tried on without its own punishment following duly after in exact proportion against the smallest chance of escape . . . . or rather when all life and all the souls of men and women are discharged from any part of the earth---then only shall the instinct of liberty be discharged from that part of the earth. 

-- Walt Whitman :The Preface to the 1855 Edition of Leaves of Grass

Posted by Vanderleun at Jan 27, 2004 1:58 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
"The brains, coated with egg, seasoning and flour, puff up when cooked. They are served hot, heaping outside the bun."

Brainburgers! Yup, it's Time to eat!

Posted by Vanderleun at Jan 16, 2004 8:54 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
Excuse Me, Do You Have the Time ... on Mars?

Once the Rover Crew has their watches, look for this to become the must have uberGeek watch of the year:

Pasadena (JPL) Jan 12, 2004 They said it couldn't be done. But in the sleepy little town of Montrose, California, nestled in the hills surrounding JPL, master watchmaker Garo Anserlian of Executive Jewelers is perfecting a timepiece for hundreds of Earthlings bound to Mars' irregular day. Past the glass cases of what looks like an ordinary jewelry store is a workshop where watches are losing 39 minutes a day.

Rover controllers have to monitor Spirit (and soon, Opportunity) all the time; this doesn't just mean 24 hours a day " it means 24 hours, 39 minutes a day. The martian day is longer than Earth's, but this minimal variance can amount to physical and mental fatigue. Every day, team members are reporting to work 39 minutes later than the previous day.

Garo acknowledged that the Mars watch request is the strangest he has ever received. It took him about two months to design, fine-tune and streamline the process that would keep the watch on Mars time.

"Since I was a young child I've put my heart into making very precise time pieces, now I was being asked to create a watch that was slow on purpose " it was going to be a challenge if it was even possible," Garo said. "I spent more than $1,000 trying to figure this out " damaging watches, trying different parts, just searching for a way."

Garo finished Doudrick's watch first and after initial testing, discovered that it was off by no more than ten seconds in 24 hours Earth time " an amazingly accurate feat for an entirely mechanical watch. Now, when the store is fully staffed, the experts can retrofit and thus create about ten watches per day. After he accommodates all rover team members who wish to own a custom-made Mars watch, he will market his patented rarity to the public.

Full story: Watchmaker With Time To Lose

Posted by Vanderleun at Jan 12, 2004 5:55 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
Mac Up to Save the World

Best reason to date for owning a Macintosh.

"Probably the single thing I do personally that reduces the crude havoc on the Internet is avoiding the Windows OS. Use a Mac, for heaven's sake. Stop adding to the pollution of viruses, and stop offering slave machines that spew spam for others."
-- Bruce Sterling "State of the World Address

Posted by Vanderleun at Jan 8, 2004 10:01 AM |  Comments (3)  | QuickLink: Permalink

"This is the first color image of Mars taken by the panoramic camera on the Mars Exploration Rover Spirit. It is the highest resolution image ever taken on the surface of another planet."

From: MER

Posted by Vanderleun at Jan 6, 2004 2:48 PM |  Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Raymond's Rules of Cosmic Order

Eric S. Raymond is a UnixGod with no shortage of controversial ideas. That's the nature of Unix Gods. Strip the t-shirt off a UnixGod and you'll as likely find Mars as Jove. (Rarely, if ever, Venus.)

Curmudgeonly, scratchy and brilliant, Raymond is the author of numerous articles and several books which have a wide influence outside the arcane field of Unix programming. His most well known works are:The Cathedral & the Bazaar and The New Hackers' Dictionary AKA The Jargon File.

Last month, Raymond published a new book, The Art of Unix Programming which, according to Raymond,

attempts to capture the engineering wisdom and philosophy of the Unix community as it's applied today not merely as it has been written down in the past, but as a living "special transmission, outside the scriptures" passed from guru to guru. Accordingly, the book doesn't focus so much on "what" as on "why", showing the connection between Unix philosophy and practice through case studies in widely available open-source software."

All well and good and I am sure that all those like myself who cannot write a line of Unix wish those that can well in their endeavors. But, while not Unix literate myself, I do know guttural Unix as a consequence of many years dealing with various commands in the shell of a conferencing system called The Well. While frittering my years away on this limping, wheezing system I found I had to learn a few very basic Unix commands. I was also introduced to my first Unix Wizard, one "jef," who always seemed to know everything one could want to know about Unix and would share it in his gruff and blunt way. I liked his gruff bluntness, especially when it was directed against the personalities of others on the Well who yearn for bluntness like the landed fish yearns for the club.

Years of online communication with jef gave me some insight into the kind of personality that is either drawn to Unix and to programming, or is shaped by Unix and programming. I've come to believe it is a symbiotic relationship, at best. So, even though I can't code, I was interested to see what lay at the core of Raymond's Unix epic. And what seemed closest to the core was his: Basics of the Unix Philosophy ) -- a series of 'rules' derived from a number of different programmers over the years that Raymond boiled down into a simple and elegant list. But, as is easy to see with only a brief perusal, this is not just some list to be pasted next to a programmers work station, this is a list that can function on many other levels. In short, it is a list with more to teach than just how craft Unix.

The Raymond Rules for Unix

  • Rule of Modularity: Write simple parts connected by clean interfaces.

  • Rule of Clarity: Clarity is better than cleverness.

  • Rule of Composition: Design programs to be connected with other programs.

  • Rule of Separation: Separate policy from mechanism; separate interfaces from engines.

  • Rule of Simplicity: Design for simplicity; add complexity only where you must.

  • Rule of Parsimony: Write a big program only when it is clear by demonstration that nothing else will do.

  • Rule of Transparency: Design for visibility to make inspection and debugging easier.

  • Rule of Robustness: Robustness is the child oftransparency and simplicity.

  • Rule of Representation: Fold knowledge into data, soprogram logic can be stupid and robust.

  • Rule of Least Surprise: In interface design, always do theleast surprising thing.

  • Rule of Silence: When a program has nothing surprising to say, it should say nothing.

  • Rule of Repair: Repair what you can but when you must fail, fail noisily and as soon as possible.

  • Rule of Economy: Programmer time is expensive; conserve it in preference to machine time.

  • Rule of Generation: Avoid hand-hacking; write programs to write programs when you can.

  • Rule of Optimization: Prototype before polishing. Get it working before you optimize it.

  • Rule of Diversity: Distrust all claims for one true way.

  • Rule of Extensibility: Design for the future, because it will be here sooner than you think.

Lets see how these rules work when applied to writing:

The Raymond Rules for Writing

  • Rule of Modularity: Write simple sentences and paragraphs connected by clean transitions.

  • Rule of Clarity: Being clear is always the clever way to write.

  • Rule of Composition: Design paragraphs or chapters to be connected to others in a logical manner. The career of William Burroughs does not make this false. Remember that not all junkies can be writers, but all writers can write like junkies. Easily.

  • Rule of Separation: Separate sense from sensibility; separate style from story. In this way you can easily toss out sensibility and style and still have a pretty sensible story.

  • Rule of Simplicity: Write towards simplicity; add complexity only where you must and you mustn't add often.

  • Rule of Parsimony: Write a big book only when it is clear by demonstration that nothing else will tell the story. Not everything youve found out has to be told. Its called backstory because it needs to be kept in the back. Way back. (P.S. Will everyone please forward this rule to Neal Stephenson before he commits another book? Thank you.)

  • Rule of Transparency: Make them see. Write for visibility to make reading and comprehension easier. Do not dispense diaphanous shrouds of lilting loquaciousness that stultify and anesthetize the eternally enervated and torpid reader.

  • Rule of Robustness: Robustness is the child oftransparency and simplicity and the herald of readability.

  • Rule of Representation: Show. Do not tell.

  • Rule of Least Surprise: In writing, always choose theleast surprising word.

  • Rule of Silence: When youve made your point, shut up.

  • Rule of Repair: Repair what you can in the second draft but if it still fails, cut it. If it all fails, shelve it.

  • Rule of Economy: Writing time is always too short; take all you can when you can.

  • Rule of Generation: Avoid making it up all over again; write in notebooks in order to have something to write when you can.

  • Rule of Optimization: Prototype before polishing.Do an entire first draft before rewriting the first chapter.

  • Rule of Diversity: Distrust all claims for one true way to write including this way and this rule.

  • Rule of Extensibility: Write and revise as if your work will be published with your name on it, because it may well be.

Not bad and thats only one draft. What this should suggest is that these rules are clever and useful well beyond the realm of Unix programming. Which, I believe, is one of Raymonds aims in drafting them; that they suggest not just a way of programming but a way of life.

But dont take my word for it. Apply them yourself to the realms of law, of politics, of love and of war. Youll find they hold true in all of these areas. I suppose Raymond could have called these rules the Commandments of Unix, but why would a UnixGod do that?

Posted by Vanderleun at Jan 5, 2004 4:18 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
On First Looking Out of JPL's Rover

On First Looking Out of NASA's Rover

Written on 2004-01-04

First moments of viewing first mosaic from Mars

Much have I imagined the arcing vaults of space,
And many fiery launches and cold orbits seen;
Round the darksided moon have I been
And raised a flag above Tranquility base.
Oft on one Red Planet would I place
Dreams of deep-brow'd Bradbury's Morning Green
Yet did I never breathe its pure serene
Till I saw Curiosity gaze upon our brother's face:
Then felt I like some sentinel in strange skies
When a new planet swims into his ken;
Or like those at JPL, when the Curiosity's eyes
Delivered them an image through the stars,
Look'd at each other with a wild surmise--
"All green" upon the dusty plains of Mars.

(Apologies to Keats. who would understand)

Posted by Vanderleun at Jan 4, 2004 2:07 PM |  Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
TOUCHDOWN!: The Spirit is on Mars

On Saturday night, everything went exactly according to plan for Spirit.

At 8:27 p.m. MST, during final approach, the craft turned to point its heat shield toward the Martian atmosphere. At 9:15, the spacecraft separated from its cruise stage, which carries solar panels that provide power during the seven-month trip to Mars and thrusters that allow fine-tuning of the trajectory before atmospheric entry.

At 9:29 p.m., the Spirit probe, encased in a protective cocoon called an aeroshell, slammed into the top of the Mars atmosphere at 12,192 mph, 73 miles above the surface. Atmospheric friction heated the aeroshell, built in Jefferson County by Lockheed Martin Space Systems, to about 2,600 degrees while protecting the 384-pound rover stowed inside.

At 9:33 p.m., the parachute deployed 25,000 feet above the surface, as the spacecraft descended at 446 mph. A minute later, the aeroshell's heat shield was jettisoned. One minute later, the lander's radar system locked onto the ground.

A few seconds later, mission control announced: "At this point in time, we should be on the ground."

At 9:36 p.m., cheers erupted in the control room when engineers received radio beacons suggesting that the airbag-cushioned lander was on the ground. Hand shakes, high-fives and hugs were exchanged. But mission controllers described the signals as "intermittent," and the room went dead quiet as engineers awaited confirmation.

Tense minutes followed. Then, at 9:51 p.m., communications manager Polly Estabrook announced, "We see it. There it is," indicating that mission control was detecting Spirit's radio signal on the ground after it bounced and rolled to a stop.

-- Rocky Mountain News

Posted by Vanderleun at Jan 3, 2004 10:48 PM | QuickLink: Permalink

Chrismukkah (KRIS.muh.kuh) n. A holiday celebration that combines elements of both Christmas and Hanukkah, particularly in households that have both Christian and Jewish members.

-- The Word Spy

Posted by Vanderleun at Dec 22, 2003 1:33 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
The Gigapixel Grand Canyon

A friend told me about this, but seeing is believing. Even better is reading about how it was done. Check out Breaking the Gigapixel Barrier and be amazed.

How much detail does it contain? Much, much more than would be captured by any conventional digital camera...even those that cost more than a new car. For example, the Canon 1Ds (about $8,000) captures 11 megapixels, while the BetterLight Super 10K-2 scanning back (camera not included!) captures 140 megapixels, but costs about $25,000. I also believe that a gigapixel image surpasses what even die-hard admirers of large format photography argue is possible with large format cameras. For more thoughts on this subject, you might also want to read this essay.

Here's another way to think about it. Given that the resolving power of the human eye (under ideal conditions at the center of the retina) is about 1 arcminute (1/60th of one degree), this image captures considerably more detail than I (or any other normal sighted human) was able to see with my eye when standing on the overlook at Bryce Point. Assuming one pixel per arcminute, an image with dimensions of 3780 x 2485 would suffice to capture the amount of detail that the naked eye could resolve. This image has more than 100 times this detail. Looking at the full sized digital image, one is able to see things that might have been difficult or impossible to spot, even when using binoculars.

He's got some samples to show you.

Posted by Vanderleun at Dec 7, 2003 12:12 PM |  Comments (11)  | QuickLink: Permalink
The Big Stick

US begins hypersonic weapons program

 The US military has begun development of an ultra-high speed weapons system that would enable targets virtually anywhere on Earth to be hit within two hours of launch from the continental US.

Ten companies have been given grants by the Pentagon's Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) Pentagon for six-month "system definition" studies. If the Pentagon likes the results, a three-year design and development phase will begin.

The ultimate aim, slated for around 2025, is a reusable Hypersonic Cruise Vehicle (HCV) that can take off from a conventional runway in the US and strike targets up to 16,700 kilometres (10,350 miles) away.

From: New Scientist

Posted by Vanderleun at Nov 21, 2003 8:25 AM |  Comments (8)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Holiday Shopping 1: For the Geek Who Would Be King

Overcoming several painful years of toil on the auto show circuit (after his original show was canned in 1968), Space Ghost rallied to become the talk show legend that he is today. Celebrate his achievements while carving out a few of your own behind this custom desk inspired by the kidney-shaped fixture that has been on the set of Space Ghost Coast to Coast for almost ten years.

The gracefully curved desk is constructed with a brushed aluminum body and a frosted plexiglass inlayed top. Mood lighting is built into the front overhang and the desktop is self-illuminated.

A 15" Philips LCD television pops up seamlessly from the desktop. A Sony Dream System supplies the built-in sound and a mini-fridge is furnished. The desk includes ports for computer hook-ups and AC power outlets. A cordless telephone is also provided.

The desk comes complete with a Custom Executive Desk Chair. Leather with Space Ghost logo appliqu?, this luxurious chair includes multi-tilt positions with push button adjustability and a four-zone, eight-motor massage system.

Price? A mere $39,000. Order now at: Space Ghost Desk and Chair

Posted by Vanderleun at Nov 16, 2003 8:05 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
An Infinite Number of Pigeons Pecking...

How does Google keep up with the Web? It doesn't, but it tries hard. A key factor in this effort is the Google PageRank method of search and deploy. But what technology underlies PageRank? As Google itself explains, the engine that drives PageRank is pigeons, lots of pigeons:

Why Google's patented PigeonRank works so well

PigeonRank's success relies primarily on the superior trainability of the domestic pigeon (Columba livia) and its unique capacity to recognize objects regardless of spatial orientation. The common gray pigeon can easily distinguish among items displaying only the minutest differences, an ability that enables it to select relevant web sites from among thousands of similar pages.

By collecting flocks of pigeons in dense clusters, Google is able to process search queries at speeds superior to traditional search engines, which typically rely on birds of prey, brooding hens or slow-moving waterfowl to do their relevance rankings.

When a search query is submitted to Google, it is routed to a data coop where monitors flash result pages at blazing speeds. When a relevant result is observed by one of the pigeons in the cluster, it strikes a rubber-coated steel bar with its beak, which assigns the page a PigeonRank value of one. For each peck, the PigeonRank increases. Those pages receiving the most pecks, are returned at the top of the user's results page with the other results displayed in pecking order.

Read all about it at:Google Technology

Posted by Vanderleun at Nov 13, 2003 9:53 AM |  Comments (10)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Psychedelic Slang
  • ACED:"We aced him out!"
  • AX:"He blows a bad ax."
  • BAAAD:"Hey, I checked out yer old lady today.She's baaad,man."
  • BARF:"You barf after the peyote milkshakes, bro, but, hey, it's beautiful."
  • BALLSY:"She is one ballsy chick."
  • BALLING:"So we smoked some righteous reefer and spent the afternoon balling our brains out."
  • BLOW YOUR COOL:"What ever you do, don't blow your cool."
  • BLEW HIM AWAY:"The pigs just blew him away with their shotguns."
  • BOONDOCKS:"Let's make it to this pad I scammed out in the boondocks."
  • BREAD:"Dope will get you through times without bread better than bread will get you through times without dope."
  • BRING DOWN: “No, oh, no, don’t bring me down.”
  • BUMMER:"Bummmmmmmmmer!"
  • BUBBLEGUM MUSIC:"Scott McKenzie, my ass! He's the king of teenyboppers and bubblegum music."
  • CATCH SOME RAYS:"You've caught enuf zzz's, let's hit the beach and catch some rays."
  • CLICK:"That town's about 50 clicks back in the boondocks."
  • COPE:"I've got no dope and cannot cope."
  • CRASH:"I just wanna flash before I crash."
  • CRASH PAD:"Flash runs a shooting parlor and crash pad for teenyboppers in the Haight."
Posted by Vanderleun at Nov 12, 2003 2:10 PM |  Comments (2)  | QuickLink: Permalink
The Waking by Theodore Roethke

I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.
I feel my fate in what I cannot fear.
I learn by going where I have to go.

We think by feeling. What is there to know?
I hear my being dance from ear to ear.
I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.

Of those so close beside me, which are you?
God bless the Ground! I shall walk softly there,
And learn by going where I have to go.

Light takes the Tree; but who can tell us how?
The lowly worm climbs up a winding stair;
I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.

Great Nature has another thing to do
To you and me, so take the lively air,
And, lovely, learn by going where to go.

This shaking keeps me steady. I should know.
What falls away is always. And is near.
I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.
I learn by going where I have to go.



On this day in 1935, the poet Theodore Roethke was hospitalized for a manic-depressive breakdown, the first of many he would endure. Whatever the causes of his mental problems, Roethke's biographers say that he kept working with characteristic intensity even when ill; one of his psychiatrists said, "I think his troubles were merely the running expenses he paid for being his kind of poet."

From:Today in Literature

Posted by Vanderleun at Nov 12, 2003 12:02 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
Some People Have No Sense of Proportion

Yes, that's a jet engine. Wheelies, anyone?

Posted by Vanderleun at Nov 4, 2003 9:54 AM |  Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Why Mac OS is God's OS

Confused over which religion is the true religion? Get the free Faith Converter

Faith Converter 1.2 Found an admirable tome but it's in praise of the wrong god? Faith Converter is a godsend for priests, vicars, rabbii and holy men of all descriptions. Preach next Sunday's sermon from the Vedas, Noble Eightfold Path, Torah or Das Kapital!

The premier theological plagiarism solution for OS X, Faith Converter converts text between fifteen different religions, encompassing Atheism, Buddhism, Christianity, Communism, Confucianism, Hinduism, Islam, Juche, Judaism, Linux, Maoism, Scientology, Shinto, Taoism and Trotskyism.

Posted by Vanderleun at Nov 3, 2003 4:00 AM |  Comments (10)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Good for You and Tasty Too!
Minn. Farmers Use Human Waste Fertilizer (AP) AP - Farmers in northeast Minnesota are using a fertilizer rich in phosphorus, nitrogen and organic matter that can boost crop yields by 80 percent. Best of all, it's free. [Yahoo! News - Science]
Well, your mother always told you to wash your fruit before you ate it, didn't she?
Posted by Vanderleun at Oct 29, 2003 8:14 AM |  Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Airport Baggage Screening: The Early Years


Posted by Vanderleun at Oct 26, 2003 12:31 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
A Choice Not An Americano
At 7-Eleven's new "hot beverage stations," customers will have a choice of more than 1,300 combinations. A minimum of five varieties of coffee, four flavored syrups, seven different tea bags, five toppings, creamers, sweeteners and all types of milk will be available at each station. 7-Eleven's customers will make the drinks themselves, guided by store suggestions, thus avoiding waiting in line to order. The drinks will cost about $1 per cup instead of the typical coffeehouse prices hovering between $3 and $4.
Now if they'd just add WiFi and sofas in the parking lot, Starbucks would be history.

Via: BoingBoing

Posted by Vanderleun at Oct 19, 2003 1:44 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
The American Way

Posted by Vanderleun at Oct 14, 2003 12:54 PM |  Comments (3)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Roll Your Own Segway: Half-off

Weird at Twice the Price

Trevor Blackwell has whipped up his verions of the Segway in the gargage. Let him show you the trips and traps of Building a Balancing Scooter

Self-balancing scooters, like the Segway™ are often thought to be technological miracles, but it is not actually very hard to build one. I built the one described here in about a week using off-the-shelf parts. I spent another week tweaking the high-speed stability, improving the steering control, and writing about it. Altogether it cost about $2000, or $2500 if you include the one-time costs of buying development kits and parts I ended up not using. That's less than half the cost of a Segway.
Warning: while you will save lots of money, you'll still look like a geek on this thing and be clothesline bait to every wiseguy in the city.

Posted by Vanderleun at Oct 13, 2003 4:15 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
Just What Is NASA's Major Malfunction?

If Columbia had one of these, it might have survived.

We're all going to have to rethink the phrase, "It's not rocket science" to indicate that something doesn't require a lot of brains to accomplish. It is becoming very clear that those who do rocket science often do so without a brain in their head.

Underscoring the fact that NASA needs a cold reboot, is this depressing and distressing item concerning what it would have taken to repair the Columbia before its fatal reentry: Paint Brush May Aid in Repair of Shuttle

As it turns out, the massive number of "experts" had previously concluded that repairs to the foam of the shuttle in orbit were just "too difficult." But after being forced to take another look at the issue in the wake of the Columbia disaster, it turns out that perhaps it wasn't "too difficult" after all.

It would seem that the repair would involve putting in some expanding foam and smoothing it out. The tool to do this? A 45 cent foam brush from any hardware store. I've got about five of these sitting around in the garage. You probably have some too.

For want of a nail
the shoe was lost.
For want of a shoe
the horse was lost.
For want of a horse
the rider was lost.
For want of a rider
the battle was lost.
For want of a battle
the kingdom was lost.
And all for the want
of a horseshoe nail.

Posted by Vanderleun at Oct 9, 2003 9:02 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
Duct Tape: A Short History


"What has a dark side, a light side
and holds the universe together?"
"Duct Tape!"

Not all there is to know, but all you need to know about this sticky issue according to American Hertitage:

The first duct-tape users were not reluctant handymen hastily shoring up sagging gutters with a prayer and a dozen yards of tape, then hurrying back to the couch before the second-half kickoff. The original olive-drab version of the tape was developed during World War II for a specific purpose: The military needed a tough, waterproof adhesive tape to seal ammunition cases and other containers.

At Permacell, a division of Johnson & Johnson, a research team led by John Denoye and Bill Gross set to work on a cloth tape that would be similar to surgical tape but tougher and water-resistant. They came up with a strip of cotton-mesh cloth coated with a polyurethane sealant on one side (making it waterproof and allowing the tape to be peeled off the roll) and a thick coating of rubber-based adhesive on the other. According to an undocumented tradition, military personnel called the stuff duck tape, either because water rolled off it or because of the layer of cotton-mesh cloth that formed its base. The amphibious vehicle known as the "duck" (from DUKV, the manufacturer's classification code) may also have something to do with the name. Its use on ammunition cases led to another name, gun tape.

More here...

Posted by Vanderleun at Oct 7, 2003 2:19 PM |  Comments (4)  | QuickLink: Permalink
It's Just a Box of Wine

And it's just a box of wine,
I don't know who put it there,
Believe it if you need it,
or leave it if you dare.

Kevin Kelly has written the best rationalization for drinking (or drinking more) that we've seen since just before our last bender:

Until now I didn't drink. Never liked the taste of beer, and wine didn't tickle me either. Hard stuff had no appeal at all. But recently the medical benefits of wine have become so established that it's hard to ignore. One respected study published in JAMA in December 2002 claims that not drinking at all was as bad for the heart as morbid obesity, and that moderate alcohol has health benefits equal to one hour of physical exercise a day. Take that you gym rats! And just this summer another high-profile study at Harvard published in Nature revealed that an ingredient in red wine -- resveratrol -- carried huge longevity effects, extending the life of yeast 60-80%.
His solution? Buy it by the box and avoid all the blather. Just tap into longevity.

Unoxidated wine as medicine [Cool Tools]

Posted by Vanderleun at Oct 7, 2003 1:32 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
The Sordid Truth About DVDs

Bruce Sterling's worth reading even when he's writing about the Yellow Pages. Here he's going that several times better when he takes on Ten Technologies That Deserve to Die. Manned space flight, cosmetic implants, and nuclear weapons all take their turn, but he's especially lucid when he outlines everything you knew about your DVDs but were afraid to tell yourself:

The DVD was the most eagerly adopted electronic consumer gizmo in history, but I'd feel bad if I failed to complain about the evil of these things. First and worst, DVDs are unbearably frail. Any benefit one gets from "clearer pictures" -- on what HDTV superscreen, exactly? -- is quickly removed by the catastrophic effects of a single thumbprint or scratch. Plus, just like CDs, DVDs as physical objects will prove to warp and delaminate.

Most loathsome of all is the fiendish spam hard-burned into DVDs, which forces one to suffer through the commercials gratefully evaded by videotape fast-forwards. The Content Scrambling System copy protection scheme doesn't work, and the payoff for pirating DVDs is massive, because unlike tapes, digital data don't degrade with reproduction. So DVDs have the downside of piracy and organized crime, without the upside of free, simple distribution. Someday they will stand starkly revealed for what they really are: collateral damage to consumers in the entertainment industry's miserable, endless war of attrition with digital media.

Posted by Van der Leun at Sep 30, 2003 10:58 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
Urban Vehicle Camo

From the priceless and highly recommended Recomendo portion of Kevin Kelly's pages comes this brilliant use of automotive accessories to make your vehicle just a little more acceptable in odd places.

"My Jeep is camouflaged to look like a commercial fleet vehicle. I made up a fake company name, appropriated a 1950s-era logo that once belonged to a nuclear energy mutual fund, painted safety stripes on the back, and plastered a fake vehicle number all over the place. I also added flashing yellow lights in the rear window, and a police-style spotlight and rubberized push bumper to the front. VERY FUN accessories ... and useful too (when used with discretion). The spotlight is incredibly versatile -- you can point/rotate it while sitting in the driver's seat -- and it's come in handy countless times for roadside emergencies, setting up campsites, or finding house numbers on dark streets.

This urban camouflage guise is very useful for parking in yellow zones, urban/industrial exploration, and crime deterrence. And the thing is... it really works!" -- Todd Lapin

Where do you get this equipment and get started making your vehicle "official?"

At the everpopular Galls Catalog of course.

Posted by Van der Leun at Sep 30, 2003 8:16 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
Been There, Done That, Have the T-Shirt


Fresh off the rack at The Ranger Quartermaster comes an item sure to be popular among our armed forces: 72 Virgins Dating Service T-Shirt

The Ranger explains:

Yes, we're scratching the surface of 'political incorrectness' here, but war is an ugly thing - and if you're an individual whose hellbent on martyrdom by attacking America or her deployed servicemen and women we'd like to see you hooked up with 72 Virgins as soon as possible.

Found via: Darren Kaplan

Posted by Van der Leun at Aug 28, 2003 1:33 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
Hold the Testosterone, Please


Yes, it is that time again. Be afraid. Be very afraid.

Posted by Vanderleun at Aug 27, 2003 1:23 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
Escher in Legoland

Click to enlarge

Some say the world is made of quantum foam,but we know it is just made of teeny-tiny Lego's. Here's a model that proves it called: Escher's "Ascending and Descending" in LEGO

OK, here's how we did it.... We spent quite some time before we started staring at the picture and trying to decide how to go about it. The secret is that the staircase spirals up and in...
For the rest of the secret, you'll just have to go there.

Posted by Vanderleun at Aug 17, 2003 7:38 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
It's Getting to be That Time Again

David Best's Temple of Joy
at Burning Man, 2002

Photo by David Ljung Madison

(Click for larger image)

Posted by Vanderleun at Aug 15, 2003 1:28 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
"A shot glass of gasoline left in the tank."

"The Spirit of Butts Farm." Not quite the
same lilt as "The Spirit of St. Louis," but
as long as it gets there....

Model airplane crosses Atlantic

It didn't fly high and it didn't fly swiftly, but the "Spirit of Butts Farm" made it all the way from Canada to Ireland with a few drops of fuel to spare, a group of model airplane enthusiasts say.

They are hoping for a distance record for the flight of 38 hours, 23 minutes over 1,888.3 miles by a model plane designed by an engineer in Maryland. It weighed 11 pounds when it took off from Newfoundland.

For Dave Brown, who was at the controls for Monday's landing at Marrin Beach in County Galway, it was a great moment. "A great cheer went up when we saw it, and four minutes later I landed it in the field. It was so thrilling," Mr. Brown said in a telephone interview.

The balsa wood-and-mylar plane was designed by retired engineer Maynard Hill, 77, of Silver Spring. He launched it from Cape Spear, Newfoundland, on Saturday night.

Posted by Vanderleun at Aug 14, 2003 7:38 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
For Sale: Land and Water Yacht

I'm not sure who is lining up to buy the Terra Wind Home amphibious motorcoach, but they either have way too much extra cash or one too many islands.

Introducing the world's first luxury Amphibious Motor coach / Yacht

We have combined the best features of world class yachts and motor coachs in a revolutionary design.

Prices from the $850,000's

Oh, go jump in a lake.

Posted by Vanderleun at Aug 11, 2003 1:15 PM |  Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Say the Magic Word, say "Retro-gram" and it's on it's Merry Way...

My reminder Retro-Gram from Mark Twain
Writers, click image and take note.

Stop sending those free e-cards, you cheapskate, and drop some change on Retro-Gram.Com Purveyors of Internet Telegrams. These are the new and classy way to get your message across on the Web. Yes, they cost 99 cents each, but that means you'll put some effort into it. Excellent for business contacts, insults to those who have earned them, idea pitches, and (trust me on this one) people you love.

Retro-Grams are not just another e-card: they are a unique form of internet communication presented in classic style. Delivered right to your computer via e-mail, they offer authentic historical detail, and outstanding print quality thanks to Adobe Acrobat. They're fun and easy to send, and a little thrilling to get.

Posted by Vanderleun at Aug 7, 2003 9:16 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
Throne of the Geek Kings


When a Starbucks table and a wi-fi hotspot just doesn't cut it any more, check out: Personal Computing Envirionments ::: MasterPeace & PeaceMaker

We're increasingly working, playing and managing our lives through a PC, so why not do it in comfort, with all your computing and entertainment technology and devices at your fingertips? Personal computing environments represent a new paradigm in human-computer interaction: Instead of setting up computers then introducing the human as an afterthought, PCE puts the comfort and productivity needs of the human first, and then orients the technology around the human.

Hey, slap in a small refrigerator and a bedpan and we'd never leave the house.

Posted by Vanderleun at Aug 4, 2003 6:41 PM |  Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Over the Top Treat of the Month

When it comes to food the American tradition has always been, "if it is worth doing, it is worth overdoing." Tauton Publishing's "Fine Cooking" is a magazine dedicated to this propostition with a ferocious intensity. Case in point is Linda Weber's The Only Peanut Butter Cookie You'll Ever Want

Short form: "For a double hit of flavor, sandwich a chocolate-flecked peanut cream between crunchy-light cookies"

Long form:

Peanut butter and a good cookie are two of my favorite things, so for me, combining them is a natural. The trouble is, the traditional round peanut butter cookie with the crossed-fork imprint never really thrilled me. So I decided it was high time to develop my own version. I knew I wanted more, and I wanted it in a sandwich cookie: crunchy-crumbly peanut butter wafers surrounding a creamy filling flecked with roasted peanuts and chopped chocolate.

For the rest and the recipe just click the link above. Warning, browsing the rest of Fine Cooking can be hazardous to your waistline.

Posted by Vanderleun at Jul 23, 2003 12:26 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
Unfortunate Product Name of the Year


This from the swimming pool chemical companyPoolife

"Long lazy afternoons. The feel of the sun on your shoulders. That first refreshing plunge into the water. That sighting of the semi-soft floating object right after you jump. Nothing beats the confidence of knowing your pool is crystal clean and sparkling pure throughout the season."

Posted by Vanderleun at Jul 15, 2003 4:47 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
Starbucks Blind to Gigantic All-American Niche Market


Starbucks' founder, chairman and "chief global strategist" Howard Schultz is on record as saying in Forbes' Starbucks' World Won't Be Built In A Day

"Unfortunately people have a very short-term horizon," Schultz said in a telephone interview. "We're building a brand, not a fad."

To prove his point, Schultz also announced that the Seattle-based company wants to eventually have 25,000 stores worldwide, with 15,000 stores outside the U.S. and Canada. The company currently has more than 6,500 stores in total, with 1,552 stores in 29 countries excluding the U.S. and Canada.

Seems to me that Schultz could stand to wake up and smell his own coffee. The future of Starbucks is not "somewhere out there," but, literally, right here at home. If Schultz really wanted to make some serious dough rather than the piddling $3.3 billion his lattes launched into American brain cells last year, he'd up his bet on America.

In short, it would extend the Starbucks brand into every American home.

Yes, I want to wake up and find my own personal Starbucks with my own personal Starbuckeroo foaming my own personal carmel latte grande in my closet every single morning. And I want one for my beautiful wife too.

Given that Starbucks' stock (Nasdaq:SBUX) - much like Barnes and Noble - can only continue to go up if they keep opening stores, and given that there are now virtually three Starbucks at every intersection in America, they have filled the street based Starbucks to capacity.

If this was a really great American company they'd want to bring the comforts of cappucino to each and every one of us, with a choice of pastry, right away, every morning. After all, you need coffee to be able to go out and get coffee.

Let 300,000,000 Starbucks bloom!

Posted by Vanderleun at Jul 7, 2003 11:03 AM |  Comments (14)  | QuickLink: Permalink
you bring out the boring white guy in me

From Poetry Daily comes this great American ode by Jim Daniels and dedicated to Christina Acosta.

you bring out the boring white guy in me
the Ward Cleaver in me. The Pat Boone
in me. The K-Mart in me. The Slurpee
in me. The boiled hotdog in me. The mac
and cheese in me. The Tang in me.
You bring out the Hamburger Helper
in me. You bring out the Twinkie
in me. The Cheez Whiz in me.
You bring out the bowling trophy
in me. The student council in me.
The parliamentary procedure in me.
The missionary position in me.
You bring out the canned vegetables
in me. The Jell-o in me. The training
wheels in me. You bring out
the lawn edger in me. The fast-food
drive-thru window in me. The Valu
Meal in me. You bring out the white
briefs in me. You bring out
the cheap beer and weak coffee
in me. You bring out the 15%
tip chart in me. The sad overweight
weekend golfer in me. You bring out
the ex-smoker in me. The jumper
cables in the trunk with flares
and the red flag to tie to the window
in me. You bring out the Tony Orlando
in me. The canned situation comedy
laughter in me. The elevator music
in me. You bring out the medley
of TV commercial jingles in me.
The Up with People in me.
I've come to a complete stop
at the stop sign. I've got my
emergency flashers on. My doors
are locked, baby,
I'm waiting for you.

Posted by Vanderleun at Jul 7, 2003 10:27 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
Found on the Waterfront, East River, Sept. 11, 2002

Posted by Vanderleun at Jul 4, 2003 6:26 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
Might as well face it...

if things keep going the way they are, in the long run, everybody will be driving an SUV.

Posted by Vanderleun at Jul 2, 2003 10:02 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
Beer with a Bad Attitude

OpinionJournal - Taste

BIG-HEADED BREW: Maybe the folks at Stone Brewing haven't heard that the customer is always right. How else to explain the San Diego beer maker's Arrogant Bastard Ale? As the Los Angeles Times reports, the back of the label minces no words. "This is an aggressive beer," it reads. "You probably won't like it. It is quite doubtful that you have the taste or sophistication to be able to appreciate an ale of this quality and depth. We would suggest that you stick to safer and more familiar territory."

Not likely to surpass Bud in sales any time soon.

Posted by Vanderleun at Jun 27, 2003 6:25 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
Bottled Water a Mixed Blessing


"Promise, big promise, is the soul of advertising," said a sage long ago in America. American advertising has been following that dictum without letup ever since.

The current craze for bottled water is an excellent case in point. According to an article in this month's Scientific American there is little in bottled water to justify the price and a lot in a lot of waters that puts them just this side of outright buncombe.

"Bottled Twaddle" by Michael Shermer raises a lot of points that tend to prove that "bottled water is tapped out." Americans shell out above $7 billion a year for the clear fluid and pay, according to Shermer, "120 to 7,500 times as much per gallon for bottled water as for tap. Bottled prices range from 75 cents to $6 a gallon, versus tap prices that vary from about 80 cents to $6.40 per 1,000 gallons."

For what? For something that is, often, nothing more than bottled tap water in a plastic container. This from a four year study of the Natural Resources Defense Counsel that examined 1,000 samples of 103 brands of bottled water, finding that "an estimated 25 percent or more of bottled water is really just tap water in a bottle--sometimes further treated, sometimes not."

But is all bottled water of dubious benefit? Well, not all. There is one water that can, it claims, literally SAVE YOUR SOUL!

This would be the strong, pure and thrice blessed fluid that flows from the source at Holy Spring Water. Yes, according to the web site, (and why wouldn't you believe it if you are already buying tap water at $6 a gallon?) this water is, "100% Natural bottled water that has been blessed to remove your venial sins while quenching your thirst. Tastes Great!!!"

Sounds reasonable to us. Click away, order a case, and when it comes be sure to save us a sip. For free.


Posted by Vanderleun at Jun 26, 2003 9:35 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
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