Archive for: September, 2009

The Purrfect kitty mats!

Sep 29 2009 Published by under Animals

The other day, we received a nice package in the mail: catnip-laced mats for our cats!  My cousin Judi makes and sells these and sent four of them to us as a wedding gift.  They've been a big hit around the house, as the following photos demonstrate; here's my little princess Zoe taking a mat for a spin:


Simon and Sabrina were not immune to the mat's charms:sabrinasimon

Perhaps the biggest fan, however, is Sasha:


4 out of 4 cats agree: the mats are great!

The mats are "Super Cat Mats" by "Purrfect Touch"; I was going to provide a weblink so that people could look them up themselves, but I don't think Judi has a website for them yet!  If there's any contact information you want to provide for people to order them, Judi, let me know.

Thank you so much for the mats!

As a bonus, I'm putting another uber-cute picture of Sasha enjoying a mat below the fold:

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4 responses so far

300k page view milestone!

Sep 28 2009 Published by under Personal

Just a short note: yesterday afternoon, I passed the milestone of 300k total page views!  It wasn't that long ago that I passed the 200k mark.  Thanks to everyone who has been taking the time to visit the site and read what I have to say!

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ResearchBlogging editor's selections: Antikythera, Admetus, and cyborg beetles!

Sep 28 2009 Published by under General science, Science news

Check back next Monday for more “miscellaneous” highlights!

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Giants From Eternity, by Manly Wade Wellman

Sep 27 2009 Published by under Weird fiction

Having recently worked  through Manly Wade Wellman's wonderful Silver John novels, I thought I would take a look at some of his other speculative fiction.  Thanks to all my Silver John purchases on Amazon, other Wellman novels have percolated up into my recommendations; the novella Giants From Eternity (1939) immediately caught my eye:


See if you can see what got my attention from the book blurb:

Scientist Oliver Norfleet and his college buddy Spencer DuPogue are called by the Board of Science, to investigate a mysteriously expanding red blight that is growing around the site of a meteor crash. With the help of the daughter of a famous scientist, they soon discover that the blight is not only alive, but that it consumes nearly everything in its path. When their own abilities prove inadequate, they are forced to turn to the greatest scientific minds that history has to offer. Can Norfleet and DuPogue and the Giants from Eternity stop the blight before the entire Earth is consumed?

Yeah, baby -- the "Giants" are some of history's greatest scientists, resurrected to kick ass and save the world!  Giants From Eternity is an exceedingly silly story, but is quite entertaining and not without its moments of genuine horror.

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11 responses so far

Happy birthday to Mark Hamill!

Sep 25 2009 Published by under Entertainment

Today "marks" Hamill's 58th birthday!  People are most familiar with Hamill's star-making role as Luke Skywalker in the original Star Wars trilogy, which I still remember seeing in the theaters when it was originally released.  But Hamill has had a long and distinguished career, including television, movie and voice roles.

Amongst comic fans, he is now best known for his absolutely amazing voice work as the Joker in the various animated Batman television shows, namely Batman: The Animated Series (1992-1994) and The New Batman Adventures (1997-1999).  He does such an amazing job voicing the Joker that it is hard to imagine anyone else ever taking the role!  His  talents are an essential part of the recently-released videogame Batman: Arkham Asylum, which is one of the best videogames I've ever played.  (Last night I started to play through the entire game a third time, which I've never done with any game before.)  Another voice role of Hamill's that made quite an impression on me is his role as the evil Fire Lord Ozai in Avatar: The Last Airbender, which I've noted previously is one of the best television shows I've ever seen.

Happy birthday and best wishes for a continuing successful career to Mark Hamill!

2 responses so far

The Discoverie of Witchcraft, by Reginald Scot (1584)

Sep 22 2009 Published by under History of science, Religion

One topic that I've long had a fascination with is the history of skeptical and scientific thought.  Human beings are naturally endowed with the ability to reason, but that reason is a far cry from a belief in a world governed by immutable natural laws.  This is why I consider scientific education to be very important on a societal level; ignorance and fear combined with credulity can lead to devastating consequences: the bloody period of witch hunting in Europe resulted in somewhere between 40,000 and 100,000 executions, a colossal waste of life and perversion of justice.  I've written before about the real human suffering these witch hunts inflicted.  It is frightening to note that such times are not completely behind us.

In the midst of such times of ignorance and superstition, however, there are always shining pillars of skeptical and rational thought that beat back the darkness, at least temporarily.  On such example is Reginald Scot (1538-1599), who took the incredibly bold step to not only defend accused witches against the charges laid before them, but to also prove once and for all that witchcraft does not exist!  His views were presented in his book The Discoverie of Witchcraft (1584), a lengthy tome which chronicles the supposed powers of witches and provides devastating arguments against them:


I've had this book in my collection for probably a decade, long before I was really interested in blogging or the history of science, but had not managed to get through it until now.  It is an extremely difficult book to read, being written in archaic Early Modern English and using many words and phrases which are outdated and virtually unknown.  I found it extremely rewarding, however, for its glimpses into the naturalistic thinking of the time, the utter absurdity of the witch hunter's claims, and the wisdom and courage of its author.  I dare say I even found it inspiring.

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12 responses so far

ResearchBlogging editor's selections: Science and the public

Sep 21 2009 Published by under General science, Science news

(Cross-posted at news.)

This week I hereby declare an unofficial theme of "science and the public" for my editor's selections; at least that's the way it turned out when I was choosing posts!

  • What motivates the Zooites? In 2007, the GalaxyZoo team used internet volunteers to classify a million galaxies.  The project was a success, but why were people so enthusiastically involved?  Emma at we are all in the gutter looks at the results of a survey of the volunteers.
  • Is virtual reality the cure for obesity? Peter Janiszewski of Obesity Panacea turns a very skeptical eye towards reports that "Second Life" can be used to fight obesity.
  • Should scientists be policy advocates? Public policy is often based on scientific research, but it is often assumed that scientists should remain impartial on the question of policy.  James Hrynyshyn of The Island of Doubt looks at the arguments pro and con.

(Hmm... I see I could also have titled this post, "Answers in the form of a question"!)

Check back next Monday for more "miscellaneous" highlights!

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Cloud pareidolia of the day

Sep 20 2009 Published by under ... the Hell?

On the way home from work the other day, I spotted the following cloud in the sky:


So what does it look like to you?

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8 responses so far

Cotton fields of South Carolina

Sep 19 2009 Published by under Personal, Travel

The weather was iffy this morning, but I went out to the drop zone anyway to see if the weather would be good enough to make a skydive.  It turns out it was; however, none of my usual jump friends apparently felt the same way, so I didn't make a jump!

On the way back, though, I pass through farm country.  The cotton is now in full bloom and pretty much ready to be harvested.  I snapped a few pictures with the new iPhone and stitched together a couple of panoramas, which I post below.

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5 responses so far

A shout-out on The Wife's cooking!

Sep 17 2009 Published by under Personal

While I'm thinking about it, I just wanted to thank The Wife again for making a really excellent gluten-free meatloaf for dinner last night!  Meatloaf became one of my favorite meals in recent years, and I've really missed it since trying to stay off gluten products.

Thanks honey!

11 responses so far

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