First up, apologies if this post contains more typos than usual, I'm sending it from my new ultra-small netbook and I'm still getting used to its itty-bitty keyboard. Which brings me nicely to my first story. That according to a survey for satellite channel SKY-HD, British consumers waste £52 billion a year on hi-tech features they don't use. For example, half of the people polled did not know their high definition television also required a hi-def signal source such as a blu-ray player or HD satellite receiver – like the ones sold by SKY-HD perhaps (Telegraph
And it's not just the the British, military officials in Russia recently discovered 100 front-line battletanks parked and forgotten by the side of the road near Yekaterinburg in the Urals. Locals say the tanks, which were unguarded and unlocked, have been there for several months and lack only ammunition and the all important starter keys (Reuters
Someone who might have had a use for those tanks were guests at a wedding in New Delhi in India recently. The Hindu ceremony was somewhat marred when an elephant hired for the event went on a rampage after becoming aroused by the smell of a nearby female in heat. The amorous pachyderm then proceeded to crush 20 limousines, smash through a nearby mall and mount a truck before it could be tranquilised (Orange
Also losing it this week was the man on the RyanAir flight who found he had won 10,000 euros on a scratchcard he bought on the budget flight from Poland to the UK. Furious that the airline had not seen fit to equip all their planes with the requisite amount of cash onboard, hence he could not be given his prize there and then as he demanded, the unnamed passenger ate the winning card rather than wait to claim it at his destination (BBC News
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Tonight is the night of the Yule moon, also called the “wolf moon” (the first
full moon of the year), and coincidentally will be the largest and brightest full moon of 2010. This is because the Moon’s orbit is not a perfect circle but an ellipse, with its nearest point to Earth some 31 thousand miles closer than its furthest. And occasionally the full moon will coincide with this closest approach, which is enough for the moon to appear 14% larger and 30% brighter than at any other time this year. Incidentally, this also means the previous new
moon was very nearly the smallest it could have been, which is why – along with occurring with Earth at its nearest to the Sun – the solar eclipse on January 15th
was annular (Space.com
Also watching the skies tonight may be Luchezar Filipov, Deputy Head of Space Exploration at the Bulgarian Academy of Science. However, Filipov’s interest is not the Moon, but aliens, who he believes are living among us on Earth at this very moment. Filipov and his team claim to be in telepathic contact with the aliens, who he says are friendly, but could not establish a coherent conversation because of our “lack of evolution”. This lack of coherence appears to have only been one way however, as Filipov was still able to state that the aliens were critical of our immoral behaviour, environmental destruction and use of cosmetics and artificial insemination, which they condemned as unnatural – unlike space travel one presumes. The next meeting of minds between Filipov and the aliens is scheduled for sometime in spring this year (Sofia Echo
But perhaps the aliens are backing the wrong species, because it’s move over Iron Man
and make way for Iron Snail
. The scaly-foot snail is certainly well protected for its kind, with an iron rich outer layer that deters piercing, a thick organic middle that dissipates the force of an attack and a calcified inner layer that gives the shell sufficient rigidity to resist attempts to crush it. The snail’s armour is so good that it’s attracted the interest of the Department of Defense, who are seeing if any useful lessons could be learned for application in the man-made versions (MIT
Someone else who could have benefited from some armour is “Macho B”, who was – until his death in February last year, the last known wild jaguar in South West America. Perversely, it wasn’t poachers who did for him in the end but Arizona’s own Fish and Game Department, who deny it was their intention to capture the jaguar despite setting snares around his territory. Now a federal inquiry has concluded that Macho B was
trapped deliberately, and the Federal Fish and Wildlife Service is considering whether to bring charges (NY Times
But even as the jaguar takes one step nearer joining the dinosaurs in extinction, scientists are one step closer to bringing them back, in our imaginations at least. For the first time, a team from China, the United Kingdom and Ireland have determined the colours and pattern of a dinosaur, a metre-long feathered carnivore called Sinosauropteryx
. Turns out the bird-like bipeds were orange, with white striped tails and a “mohawk” display crest on their heads. Despite the feathers, Sinosauropteryx was a flightless reptile who most likely used its feathers primarily for display (CBC
Be the envy of every other survivalist and have your own converted cold-war Atlas-F missile silo home! You too can live in complete cold war safety and luxury. The converted missile launch site is marketed as a getaway, luxury home, and in my opinion is every survivalist’s dream. The property includes its own private runway, 2000 square foot luxury home above ground with master suite, a private airstrip, and a hangar/garage. Below ground, past the 2000 lb. blast doors and three feet of reinforced concrete built to withstand brutal missile assaults lies two additional stories of space in the converted control room where you will find two additional suites with luxury marble Jacuzzi baths and an escape hatch to your private hangar.
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A reader named John, commenting on the WHY STUDY SCIENCE?
thread, asked to see a film about surviving atomic attack. Here it is, John!
(There's no static image on the screen, but just click the PLAY button on the bottom of the viewing window.)
Much of what we define today as "weird" looks to be weird simply because the context that surrounded its creation is no longer in place. As famously said, "The past is another country," and we all know that stuff that happens in other countries is quite often weird.
Once upon a time--in 1961--the staged documentary featured here seemed like the most sober-sided, commonsense bit of educational material. But now--
--well, see for yourselves!
magazine for April 13 1959.]
Of course, we all recall personally or at least have heard of the Davy Crockett Craze
of the mid-1950's, when Disney's promotional genius had kids everywhere running around in coonskin caps. But who among us lately has dared to summon up memories of the Castro dressup craze from a few years later?
Yes, once upon a time, at the start of his revolution, Castro was received in the USA as a hero of the oppressed peoples of Cuba, and seen as a fit role model for tykes to imitate.
Please click on the image for the full glory of this era, and excuse any flash glare from my poor photo skills. I had to photograph rather than scan, to capture the full impact of the double page spread.
Gasmasks.net provides more information than you probably ever wanted to know about the development of dog gas masks
. For instance, one problem the developers of the dog gas masks had, which wasn't encountered by their counterparts working on the human versions, was how to build in a "slobber drain."
The concept of micronations
is a fascinating idea. I utilized the notion in one of my recent stories, the title piece from The Emperor of Gondwanaland and Other Stories
. But I hardly began to exhaust the narrative possibilities of the idea.
Here's a recent article
on one such place, the Republic of Molossia