I've got to continue the holiday tradition I started last Christmas; I therefore present, "A Patrick Swayze Christmas":
In the spirit of the season, I offer sincere best wishes and 'get well soon' to Patrick Swayze, who has been fighting cancer. He's actually been filming a new series, The Beast, so I take that as a good sign.
Of course, we're all familiar with how boldly the Democrats stood up to Joe Lieberman, the man who campaigned not only for the Republican presidential candidate but also numerous down-ticket Republicans. In the end, the Democrats welcomed him back with the same powers and privileges, even though he's quite likely to use those powers against them in the near future.
The last 20 seconds of the following video gives a good impression of what the negotiations were probably like:
Try to imagine the Democrats as Ted and Lieberman as Dr. Kelso. If you like, you can also imagine Dr. Cox as Obama, but that's stretching the analogy a bit too far, I think.
For those who don't read Swans on Tea (and if you like fun physics-y blogs, you really should), I have to link to this post concerning product reviews on Amazon.co.uk. People have taken to heart the absurdity of being able to review anything you buy there, including pens. A sample:
Writes well - but it's unmusical
If all you wish to do is write on paper this product is ideal, but unlike its brother the Bic Stic, which has a softer, opague, plastic barrel, it is not possible to turn it into a whistle in less than a minute using only a penknife and a short length of softwood pencil. For some obscure reason Amazon does not sell the Stic so you'll have to steal one from a Holiday Inn if you want to make yourself a whistle: having stolen a Bic Stic cut a flat about 1 mm deep and over 6 mm long along the side of the unsharpened end of a pencil. Remove all the pen components from the Bic Stic and make a cut about 3mm deep about 6 mm from the end of the barrel. Now cut a notch as shown in the diagram at www.jbryant.eu/whistle.jpg, cut 6 mm of flattened pencil and put it in that end of the barrel with the flat aligned with the notch. Now cut 6 mm of unflattened pencil and use it to close the other end of the barrel. You have a whistle. Blow at the end with the air hole.
Via CNN, we learn an interesting little factoid: the 103 beats per minute rhythm of the Bee Gees' "Stayin' Alive", and its catchy, memorable tune, can be used by CPR practitioners to properly time their chest compressions!
A small study done by The University of Illinois medical school found that doctors and students maintained close to the optimal 100 compressions per minute while listening to the Bee Gees' classic hit.
Most ridiculous quote in the article? "I don't know how the Bee Gees knew this," Nadkarni said. "They probably didn't. But they just hit upon this natural rhythm that was very catchy, very popular, that helps us do the right thing."
Emphasis mine. They probably didn't? What, you think that they designed the song as a CPR tool, and just didn't tell anyone?
The money quote in the article is at the conclusion, from one of the study's participants, Dr. Gilbert:
Also, Gilbert said he's not really a disco fan.
He does happen to like a certain Queen song with a similar beat.
"I heard a rumor that 'Another One Bites the Dust' works also, but it didn't seem quite as appropriate," Gilbert said.
This is quite cool: Richard Garriott, the millionaire creator of the Ultima series of fantasy role-playing videogames, is now in orbit! Garriott is one of the board members of Space Adventures Ltd., the space tourism company which has been sending people up to the ISS since 2001. He blasted off from Kazakhstan in a Soyuz TMA-13 capsule at 3:01 pm EDT today.
It's no surprise that Garriott would do such a thing: he's well-known for exceptional antics. For years, he held elaborate haunted houses at his home, Brittania Manor.
He also deserves credit for making one of the first truly literary video games, in Ultima IV. When I first played it years ago, I was incredibly surprised to find that the 'quest' was not the destruction of some ultimate evil, but rather the moral perfection of one's own character! Ultima IV was the first video game that really made me think about the consequences of one's actions.
Anyway, best of luck to Garriott during his stay on the ISS and in his return journey!
(Update: For those who are interested, there's an article in pdf form describing the underground in more detail at LV Mag, the magazine of Life in Leavenworth County.)
I've been busy with departmental stuff the past few days, so posting has been light. I thought I'd share this little bit from Leavenworth, Kansas: apparently there's an old, small underground city underneath the downtown that nobody knew about until recently and nobody knows what it was for!
Details in the news article are sketchy. There isn't any information on the overall size of the area, the number of rooms, or when it was rediscovered. There's an accompanying video which doesn't add much to the tale.
Via The Greenbelt, I learned about and took another one of those silly but oddly compelling internet quizzes: this one asks, "Which Chess Piece are You?" In my case, I scored as The King's Knight, which makes me sound like quite the ass-kicker! Of course, even if the quiz is accurately translating your answers into a meaningful assessment of your personality, it may simply be assessing who you want to be rather than who you are. However, at least in my own mind, the description sounds true to me...
Your result for Which Chess Piece are You Test?...
The King's Knight
The King’s Knight is spontaneous and active. They get great satisfaction from acting on impulse. This usually means thrill and risk can be quite exciting. If they are stifled by rules, they may end up feeling ‘dead’ inside. They look for the ‘tick’ behind the clock without the need for verbal cues. Oddly enough, this Knight deeply respects and admires anyone who can best them.
The King's Knight is a 'do-er', naturally impatient with discussion. They seek to live in the moment and are great improvisers. Because of this they are quite capable at bringing ideas or concepts to fruition. They often prefer practical organizational issues. Because they seek to make things happen, they may act too quickly with the appearance of not thinking things through.
They are the best at manipulating others. This usually means that they can convince others to a like-minded position and thus the King would love to have this Knight by their side. They are concrete with their form and speech and are seen as smooth operators. They could be seen as self-promoters and great salesmen of ideas. They are gifted at earning trust. But they are also gifted at applying common sense to any issue. They will maintain acute awareness of factual information during discussions and will guide tangents back on course. The King's Knight is outgoing, charming and fun. They know the 'who's who' and where the socially sophisticated reside and play. They are action oriented and deplore unnecessary diplomacy. They want life to be simple, but realize it isn't.