Friday, September 30, 2005

As we move into Shock-tober...


A little warm-up for the upcoming Hallowe'en with these ultra-creepy portraits that morph into zombies and ghouls as you move walk by them. The site has animated GIFs that show the effect quite nicely. Better order your before the season rush!

(via Boing Boing)

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Scratching the ceiling of the world

At a height of 4478 meters, Matterhorn is one of the tallest mountains in Europe. A couple of weeks ago Matthias Taugwalder and mountain guide Gianni Mazzone climbed Matterhorn.

During the climb Matthias made 360 degree panoramas which makes it possible for you to experience a virtual reality climb of Matterhorn for the first time.

You will need the QuickTime plugin for the panoramas to display properly. If you don't already have it, you can get it here.

(via The Presurfer)

Monday, September 26, 2005

Wait for it...

Doomsday predictions, then, now and in the future. For some reason, most of 'em appear to have been wrong. Go figure. (via J-Walk)

Personally, I really hope the one that predicts the EOTW (End Of The World) on November 11, 2005 is off-base. That's the weekend I was planning to take the family up to Great Wolf Lodge water park, and there's nothing ruins a vacation like an apocolypse.

InfoNation reader poll:

I ask you, which would you rather experience?

gwl     or     cometimpact2 ?

Sure, the planet-sized rock hurtling at thousands of miles per second into the ocean is gonna have a bigger splash factor, but there's that whole extinguishing of all life on Earth thing...

PS. The sharp minds over at are keeping on top of this Doomsday argle-bargle as well.

Friday, September 23, 2005

What's the word?

Bottle of wine, fruit of the vine,
when you gonna let me get sober.
Let me alone. Let me go home.
Let me go back and start over.

"Bottle of Wine" - The Kingston Trio


Explore the seamier side of wine at Bum Wines. Ranked by either Worst Taste, Getting Wasted or Warmth.

(via Eye of the Goof)

Songs with Wine in the title and in their lyrics.


Update 9/27/05: It would appear the Dewey Defeats Truman method was not a particularly profitable one for me... I correctly picked 6 of the 14 games. Yuk. In contrast, the winner picked 10 out of 14.

This week I took my inspiration from the most famous wrong headline in history, DEWEY DEFEATS TRUMAN! If The Chicago Daily Tribune had only been privy to Google, they might have gotten it right...


I Googled <team name> defeats Truman. Whichever one brought back the most hits must be the right one, right? My picks in bold. For the historically challenged, here's the whole story of the DEWEY DEFEATS TRUMAN headline.

St. Louis defeats Truman! 40,300
Tennessee defeats Truman! 27,000

Philadelphia defeats Truman! 27,500
Oakland defeats Truman! 10,000

Cincinnati defeats Truman! 10,600
Chicago defeats Truman! 56,300

NY Jets defeat Truman! 22,100
Jacksonville defeats Truman! 560

Minnesota defeats Truman! 22,800
New Orleans defeats Truman! 22,600

Carolina defeats Truman! 34,700
Miami defeats Truman! 19,500

Indianapolis defeats Truman! 992
Cleveland defeats Truman! 22,000

Buffalo defeats Truman! 13,800
Atlanta defeats Truman! 21,900

Tampa Bay defeats Truman! 556
Green Bay defeats Truman! 23,300

Seattle defeats Truman! 20,800
Arizona defeats Truman! 24,800

Pittsburgh defeats Truman! 15,100
New England defeats Truman! 56,100

Dallas defeats Truman! 22,200
San Francisco defeats Truman! 36,200

San Diego defeats Truman! 17,900
NY Giants defeat Truman! 23,300

Denver defeats Truman! 12,900
Kansas City defeats Truman! 23,200

Since the headline was during the '48 election, for the tiebreaker, I am saying that the Monday night game will score a total of 48 points.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

They called me mad at the University...


...Mad I say! But I'll show them all! Mwahahahaha!

From, where anyone can submit their bright idea, the best invention ever: The Evil Laugh-Activated Hand Dryer.

"instead of a button or infra red sensor, people... rub their hands together in the airstream, activate this hand dryer by laughing evilly"

Wikipedia's take on The Evil Laugh

Malevolence inspired by The Kids In The Hall
Head-crushing links for the whole family

I'm crushing your head! #1
I'm crushing your head! #2 Back to school version!
I'm crushing your head! #3 No animal heads were harmed during the filming
I'm crushing your head! #4 Could explain why there are so many bad drivers out there...
I'm crushing your head! #5 with a bonus Evil Laugh.

When Coworkers Attack!

Heh. Coworkers.

Can't work with 'em. Can't taser 'em.

Click each thumbnail for a better view of Working Man's inhumanity towards Working Man.







(thanks for sharing, Janet!)

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

You can pick your nose, and you can pick your football teams, but...


Okay, Info Nation readers... I'm looking for suggestions for ways to pick the teams for future football pool weeks.

So far this season I have used the Thin Is In and Magic 8-Ball methods. From the 2004 season I shared my patented WWSD? and Rock, Paper, Scissors methods.

Also used last season with varying degrees of success (but never mentioned here) were
  • Alphabetical -- Chose team who came first alphabetically

  • Longest Name -- Chose the team with the longest name

  • Scrabble method -- Chose the team whose name had the higher Scrabble score

  • D&D method --using an online diceroll generator to pick, with even results going to home team and odd results going to away team

  • Poker method -- Each team was dealt five cards. The one with the better poker hand was picked.

  • Dreidel method -- for Chanukkah, I spun a dreidel for each game using an online dreidel. If it landed on Shin or Hey, I chose the favorite. Nun or Gimel resulted in choosing the underdog.
This year I am asking for your help in selecting teams. What interesting/funny/bizarre ways can you think of to help someone who knows zip about football pick the correct teams?

I posted this question over at the Usenet group (Cecil Adams is the guy behind The Straight Dope column). Some of the more creative methods suggested over there:
  • ...Use other geographic or statistical data. Highest elevation: They drop rocks on the other team. Lowest elevation: Higher team falls down. Average rainfall, per capita GDP, all kinds of stuff from the Census Bureau...

  • Pick the city with the higher area (or ZIP) code

  • Home team colors, pick the longest or shortest wavelength.

The one I think I'm gonna use for Week 3 is another one from, and that's this one: Google on the team name/mascot/team home town and pick whichever one has more hits.

Anyone else have some good ideas? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller? Bueller?

Friday, September 16, 2005

Mixed nuts provides a glimpse into the minds of "cranks, crackpots, kooks and loons on the net". Helpfully categorized by subject and level of lucidity, though actually, the links I randomly looked at were all pretty much rambling and illucid.
  • You know those white contrails jets leave in the sky? Harmless water vapor? No way! It's government chemical weapons testing being performed on its own people!
  • The value of pi is an infinite, non-repeating number that starts with 3.141592653... Isn't it? Nope! Pi = 3.125 Period. End of story.
  • The Government is putting mind control implants in our bodies when we go in for surgery

And the list goes on (and on, and on...)

More of the same at The Kooks Museum.

Some Kind of Plunderful

...and 19 other songs to play on International Talk Like A Pirate Day (which happens to be Monday, September 19th, matey! Arrrrr!)

The official site of TLAPD, where ye c'n brush up on yer Pirate Words, Phrases and Songs, aye, lest ye be walkin' around Monday spoutin' off like a land lubbin' scurvy dog, practickly beggin' ta be keelhauled. Savvy?

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Unseasonably violent

I happened across Brian De Palma's excellent "The Untouchables" the other night on AMC just in time to see the infamous "Baseball Bat" scene. While the movie was played, AMC added little factoids in the bottom part of the screen (there because it was in widescreen format). It was during that particular scene that I learned that the baseball bat thing was not just made up for the movie to show what a ruthless guy Capone was. It actually happened, and was actually even more brutal than what the movie portrayed.

And for the Capone of the kitchen, this pepper mill is available for around $65.

Quit talkin' and start chalkin'

You may have seen some (or all) of these pics before, in fact I've even posted on them in the past, but it's still pretty interesting.

Sidewalk chalk art that gives the illusion of 3-D. Note that just about all of these drawings require a very specific viewpoint; if you stand anywhere except from where the camera took this picture, the drawings would at best look distorted and possibly even nonsensical. The last two pictures in the set make just that point.

Do they really outline the dead body in chalk at a crime scene?

Get it off your chest and onto your cup with this chalkboard coffee mug.

Tightfisted, miserly pennypinching Thrifty folk might enjoy making their own chalk using Plaster of Paris and tempera paint.

Monday, September 12, 2005

The future Mrs. Cruise

Way, way, way future, that is.


A very nicely documented tutorial on how one of the guys Photoshopped the aging process using Katie Holmes as his test subject.

Thin ain't in

Last week I mentioned that I was going to reveal my super-secret system for picking the winners in the NFL football pool. Since I still don't have internet access at home --I only ordered DSL a mere, oh, 35 days ago*, I wasn't able to update until this morning.

As I mentioned, the clue to the method I used to pick teams this week was to "think fat". Here's the skinny...

There’s a new report out from that says that pretty much every state in the US has an increase in obese people. Yep, we’re all getting’ fatter by the minute!

I theorized that the fattest states are gonna have the football players in the worst shape. So my strategy was to pick the team whose home stadium is in the “healthier” state.

Below is the data from 2004, and I simply picked the team that had the fewer amount of chubsters…


I don't feel like posting all the individual matchups and their point spreads, so let's just cut to the chase. How did the "Slim Pickin's" method pan out?

In reality, the only things that stayed slim were my WIN column and my wallet. Although the Monday night game hasn't been played yet, I am nowhere in contention this week. Of the 15 out of 16 games played so far this week, my patented "Slim Pickin's" method only netted a paltry 6 wins. The winner this week, who pulverized the competition with a dominating 13 out of 15 wins so far this week, was Pete "Have I Got A House For You" Bruinsma.

My picks as well as my opponents are here (you will need to scroll right to find mine under the name "Kurt").

Well, there's always next week and a new system, I suppose.

* Yes, I have lived in the new house since the end of July, and TDS Metrocom still hasn't released my phone number over to SBC. I switched because TDS didn't offer DSL in my new 'hood and there was no way I was going to make Comcast cable's coffers any fatter. So SBC was an attractive alternative with them currently offering DLS for $14.99/mo, cheaper than dial-up.

The catch turned out to be getting TDS to release their vise-like hold on my telephone number. SBC is pretty much powerless to do anything more until they get the phone number transferred from TDS to them. Hence weeks and weeks of waiting for internet at home. Yuk.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Football Pool Picks

Fat Andy + football = cash??

Last year I had a lot of fun using, er... unorthodox methods of choosing my NFL football pool picks. Some of them are posted in the December 2004 archives, and they included using Rock, Paper, Scissors and around Christmastime, picking whichever team was closest to the North Pole.

Well folks, it's that time of year again. Tonight (Sept. 8) is the first game of regulation season, so that can only mean one thing...

Time to come up with more stupid ways to pick teams!

I have a pretty good one to start off with, but I am going to wait until everyone else in my pool has their bets in before I share my new system.

I will give a small hint, though.

Think fat.

Updates in a couple of days.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Won't you spare me over for another year?

Suicide notes, of the famous and not-so-famous.

Epitaphs, humorous and not-so-humorous.

Last words, famous and not-so-famous. (This link contains audio of cockpit voice recordings, transcripts and air traffic control tapes. CAUTION: MAY BE DISTURBING)

A whole show of Last Words archived at This American Life.

Friday, September 02, 2005



Spin is a great little short film in which the main character controls events through his turntable setup. It's a bit of a download, but if you have the bandwidth, well worth it.

(via jay is)

Finding a pulse


Short for interactive voice response, a telephony technology in which someone uses a touch-tone telephone to interact with a database to acquire information from or enter data into the database. IVR technology does not require human interaction over the telephone as the user's interaction with the database is predetermined by what the IVR system will allow the user access to. For example, banks and credit card companies use IVR systems so that their customers can receive up-to-date account information instantly and easily without having to speak directly to a person. IVR technology is also used to gather information, as in the case of telephone surveys in which the user is prompted to answer questions by pushing the numbers on a touch-tone telephone.

Every company you call now pretty much has some sort of an automated call menu. Sometimes that's fine; if all you want to do is check your checking account balance or find out what the store hours are and the like.

But sometimes you know that the information you need is so obscure or your question so convoluted that you know ain't no phone tree option is gonna cover it.

You need to talk to a real person.

Problem is, every IVR system has a different way to route you through to an actual person. They also always tag it onto the very end, so you have to listen to the entire freakin' message before you find out you need to type "*", then 0 twice, then say "operator" in order to get connected to an actual sentient (hopefully) human.

Find-A-Human to the rescue! It's a database of the different codes you need to punch in or speak in order to expedite the process of getting something organic on the other end of the phone.

Give till it hurts

This is just one of the hundreds of heartbreaking news stories being published each hour concerning the horrors the people of New Orleans are experiencing right now.

If you haven't already donated, please consider giving to The American Red Cross or any number of other charities trying to get these people the help they need so desperately.

Link to the Red Cross website

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Dead goats and brown notes

So I'm reading this book, "The Men Who Stare At Goats", which, may I add, is not about men with certain unwholesome predilections toward livestock. Rather, it's about a supposedly super-secret project of the military known as "Project Jedi", which in the 1980s tried to train soldiers to become "supersoldiers" with superpowers including
  • being able to enter any room and instantly be aware of every minute detail
  • psychically spy on enemies and ascertain their thoughts and movements
  • causing a goat's (or presumably, an enemy soldier's) heart to burst by staring at it

One of the documents cited in the book is a US Air Force report entitled "Nonlethal Weapons: Terms and References", which makes for, let's say, very interesting reading. Some of the more bizarre concepts mentioned were
  • Death Hologram - Hologram used to scare a target individual to death. Example, a drug lord with a weak heart sees the ghost of his dead rival appearing at his bedside and dies of fright.

  • Hologram, Prophet - The projection of an image of an ancient god over an enemy capitolwhose public communications have been seized and used against it in a massive psychological operation.

  • Obscurant, Smoke-Colored - Colored smoke concentrations produce greater initial psychological and panic effect than white smoke. Caucasians are said to have a greater repugnance to brilliant green smoke, which is associated with disagreeable personal experiences such as seasickness, bile and vomit. Negroids and Latins are declared to be most adversely affected by brilliant red. Rioters confronted with a strong concentration of colored smoke fell, instinctively, that they are being marked, or stained, and thus they lose anonymity.

  • Acoustic Bullets - High power, very low frequency waves emitted from one to two meter antenna dishes. Results in blunt object trauma from waves generated in front of the target. Effects range from discomfort to death. A Russian device that can propel a 10-hertz sonic bullet the size of a baseball hundreds of yards is thought to exist.
and my personal favorite
  • Acoustic, Infrasound - Very low-frequency sound which can travel long distances and easily penetrate most builings and vehicles. Transmission of long wavelength sound creates biophysical effects; nausea, loss of bowels, disorientation, vomiting, potential organ damage or death may occur.
Because of that one specific side effect, this tone has been nicknamed "The Brown Note".

I see that Discovery Channel's "Mythbusters" even recreated The Brown Note to test it's, uh... loosening powers, shall we say. I missed the show so I don't know if there was a cleanup in Aisle 5 or not...