Sunday, April 29, 2012

Dentist gets revenge on ex-boyfriend

I keep waiting for it to come out that this story is a hoax, because it seems so unlikely. But for the meantime, I'll pass it along: Woman dentist gets revenge on boyfriend who dumped her by pulling out all of his teeth.

A number of questions I can think of:

Why would you go to your ex-girlfriend for dental work after you'd dumped her? Wouldn't you, you know, expect it to be awkward?

And then let her knock you out with anesthetic? Whatever the original reason he was there to see her, it must have been serious enough to warrant some dental surgery.

Um, how long does it take to pull out all 32 teeth? Wouldn't this take all day?

Apparently he didn't realize his teeth were gone until he got home? Look, I've had a tooth or two out myself. You know. Believe me. Even if you weren't awake for it, your mouth feels different afterwards.

He says afterwards that he didn't have any reason to doubt her?

Things just keep not adding up here. The source appears to be the UK Daily Mail, not renowned for its standards, and reporting on a story from Poland at that.

But it's still too bizarre to pass up!

UPDATE! THIS STORY WAS A HOAX! Yahoo updates us. I knew it all the time. There were too many loopholes here.

Which still makes it a fascinating incident. Why did the reporter fabricate such an unbelievable story from whole cloth? This wasn't just a mistake - NO bearing on reality was found anywheres near a dental practice in Poland. Daily Mail reporter Simon Tomlinson (soon appearing at an unemployment line near you) just plays dumb. Why, Simon, WHY???

Thursday, April 26, 2012

A man can only be pushed so far...

On June 4th, 2004, a construction worker named Marvin Heemeyer was upset as a result of a zoning dispute in Granby, Colorado. So, what would you do? Would you picket city hall, complain about it in your blog, write your assemblymen? Heemeyer chose a more direct approach.

He pulled out of his garage in a bulldozer which he had spent months modifying himself with layers of concrete and steel, as well as mounted rifles and cameras so he could see where he was going. He then went on a rampage throughout the city, damaging property to the tune of $7 million and threatening the lives of anybody who got in his way. This was no ordinary snap to rage; he'd been planning it for months and likely was looking for an excuse to use his "Killdozer", as he called it.

Heemeyer's had a "shit list" of targets and he hit every one of them, demolishing the property of anyone in town with whom he had had a dispute, no matter how petty: his own former place of employment, the concrete plant, town hall, the local newspaper office, and the homes and businesses of individuals.

Being a modified super-villain vehicle, Heemeyer's monstrosity was unstoppable. Police fired guns and dropped flash-bang grenades to no avail. However, when the "Killdozer" became stuck in the rubble, Heemeyer shot himself inside the cab of the machine and the town's siege was ended.

His grandiose exit from this world earned him some grudging respect, some calling him "badass", and while he certainly deserves points for style, we must not forget that overall his actions were cowardly and - need we say it again? - petty. The rest of us put up with more slings and arrows from the jerks of this world without more than a grumble than what took Heemeyer over the edge. He was not getting revenge for gross injustice. He had a problem with the world, and he was determined not to solve it without going out in a blaze of "glory" to feed his petty ego.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Home Business 101: Pencil-Sharpening Service

While the rest of you sit around trying to figure out how to get rich, and complaining that your degree isn't worth anything in the job market, David Rees makes money sharpening pencils.

Granted, David Rees is also a satirical comedian whose clip-art comic "Get Your War On" is syndicated in newspapers nationwide, and he has other comic projects afoot, and he's also a blogger over at Huffy-Poo, but that's all just his rent money. His true passion in life is producing the ultimate sharpened pencil, and he has a video here explaining his business:

Yeah, he wrote a book on the subject, too. No, really, it's a real book!

No pun intended, but you may be asking yourself, "What's the point in all this?" Well, see, it's a satire. It's a commentary on our society at this point in time, when the very pencil itself holds quaint nostalgia for most of us in this digital age. Along with the sheer uselessness of most of us, now that all of our jobs went away. Along with our sloppy, feckless, ignorant society that doesn't give a shit about doing anything right anymore.

Watch this man. If he can put all this thought, this care, this attention to detail into putting a nice cone on a number-2, could the rest of you maybe be bothered to spell a word or two per sentence correctly? Turn on your turn signal once in a while? Hang onto your trash until you walk that ten feet to the next trash can? Yes... yes you CAN!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Having a monstrous time in Bomarzo

Scenes of nightmarish chaos form the attractions at this park in Lazio, Italy. The place is known as "The Park of the Monsters", and though you might think that fascination with monsters - to the extent of building monuments to them - is a recent idea, this park dates to the 16th century.

Sculptures include Cerberus, Pegasus, Proteus, plus many other figures of mythology, random bears, dragons, and other large brutes, and one particularly grotesque face whose gaping mouth forms a gate. Also, one house purposefully built to lean several degrees to the side, in case you thought the Tower of Pisa was the only tilted building in Italy.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

We're all descended from ancient Egyptians

A genealogy researcher has come to the startling conclusion that humans - all 7 billion+ of us - come from one big family tree, and furthermore that its roots are located in Egypt.

In "Common Ancestors of all Humans", Humphrys makes a strenuous case that we're all a lot more interrelated than we thought. It isn't even anything remarkable to say that we're all related - this has been claimed by anthropologists before. But this site goes the step further and concludes that the Ancient Egyptian Pharaoh Khufu, circa early 2500 B.C., is the great grand-daddy of us all.

One of the effects that goes into this is the phenomenon of pedigree collapse. This states that if you must insist that none of your ancestors were related, then you have a binary family tree that can only go back 30 generations before maxing out at a billion people - greater than the population of the world at the time! Thus, it is logical to conclude that in a world where the human population is always increasing, we would necessarily have had to have gotten those offspring from a smaller pool of ancestors.

This quote from the Wiki sums up the situation nicely:

"Small, isolated populations such as those of remote islands represent extreme examples of pedigree collapse, but the common historical tendency to marry those within walking distance, due to the relative immobility of the population before modern transport, meant that most marriage partners were at least distantly related. Even in America around the 19th century, the tendency of immigrants to marry among their ethnic, language or cultural group produced many cousin marriages."
If you're not already feeling a little queasy from the incestuous implications, consider that most religions have a creation myth involving an Adam and Eve figure, so they've been going around saying as much for years.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

There are wireheads in your future

I don't normally blog current Slashdot stories here (if you wanted those all the time, you could just go to Slashdot!), but I have to make an exception on a blog named "Mind--blown" when the story is about something that, well, can literally blow your mind.

Apparently Larry Niven nailed another one: They're now plugging electrodes into human brains to treat depression. And the results are encouraging - in fact, they're a little too encouraging...

"Several patients reported profound changes just minutes after the stimulator was turned on. One said the room suddenly seemed brighter and colors were more intense. Another described heightened feelings of connectedness and a disappearance of the void."

Doesn't that make you want one too? Imagine if it also makes you smarter, more concentrated, more creative, more productive...

Patients also report experiencing spontaneous happy thoughts, such as memories of playing with children or seeing flowers bloom in the spring. Yeah, it sounds like the perfect drug alright. With no side effects. Ladies and gentlemen, the next Microsoft, the next Google, will be the Deep Brain Stimulation Corporation, "putting a smile on your face with a wire in place!"

Saturday, April 14, 2012

10 Ill-Informed Predictions From History

"I must confess that my imagination refuses to see any sort of
submarine doing anything but suffocating its crew and floundering
at sea." --H.G. Wells, 1901

"What is dangerous is for Americans not to be in the
market. We’re going to reach a point where stocks are correctly
priced, and we think [that point is] 36,000." --James Glassman,
Wall Street analysis author, 1999

"The Japanese don’t make anything the people in the U.S. would
want." -- John Foster Dulles, 1954

"The expectation on the iPod is that Hewlett-Packard’s version
will probably outsell Apple’s version relatively quickly." -- Rob
Enderle, 2004

"Over the next century, Law will be simplified. Lawyers will have
diminished, and their fees will have been vastly curtailed." --
Junius Henri Brown, columnist, 1893

"Of all the nations, [Germany] is probably the least corrupted by
the lust of conquest...." -- Boston Daily Globe, 1901

"In 20 years, [bigotry and war] will be over. People are simply
going to learn that they can get more from being groovy than
being greedy." -- Arlo Guthrie, 1969

"X-rays will prove to be a hoax." -- Lord Kelvin, 1899

"Printed books will never be the equivalent of handwritten
codices, especially since printed books are often deficient in
spelling and appearance." -- Johannes Trithemius, German scholar,

"This ‘telephone’ has too many shortcomings to be seriously
considered as a means of communication. The device is inherently
of no value to us." -- Western Union management memo, 1876

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Six Specimen Of Remarkable Trees

Since my earlier post about California sperm trees, I decided to round up a list of trees that are mind--blowing in other ways...

Arbre du Tenere

A solitary acacia tree which was once regarded as the most isolated tree on Earth. It grew in the Tenere region of the Sahara in northwest Niger, over 400 KM from the next nearest tree. It was so famous that it was used as a landmark for traveling caravans. In 1973, a drunk driver managed to kill the tree by running over it with his truck. How you get so drunk that you manage to mow down the only tree for 400 KM on a flat desert is beyond explanation.

Great Banyan

In terms of sheer ground cover, this is the world's largest tree. Residing in a botanical garden in India, this species of Moraceae is over 250 years old and spreads by the method of dropping areal roots from its branches, creating an effect that looks like a whole forest rather than one tree. It covers an area of about four acres and has a road encircling it that is 330 meters circumference, but the tree continues to grow past even this boundary. Banyan trees around Asia routinely become objects of legend for their extreme age and spread.


In the Fishlake National Forest, Utah, there is the quaking aspen colony of trees which are all fed by a connected root system and thus count as a single clonal colony tree. This means that the tree just keeps spreading out roots, the roots shoot up more trees, and so on. This makes it count as the world's heaviest known living organism weighing over 6,600 short tons. It is also one of the oldest known living organisms, estimated at the age of 80,000 years old. This makes it older than the entire history of the modern homo sapiens (us) species. Given that the colony can even survive forest fires by simply replacing the trees with new stands from its roots, it could simply be immortal. 


Hyperion is a coastal redwood growing in Redwood National Park in Northern California. It is the tallest tree in the world at 379 feet tall at last measure. Redwood National Park is also home to many giant trees, including the famous one that you can drive a car through. Standing amid a Northern California Redwood forest can make you feel like a fairy-tale dwarf.

The Moon Trees

There is nothing remarkable about the moon trees, except that they are planted from seeds which NASA took into moon orbit on the Apollo 14 mission. The idea was to take tree seeds into space, bring them back, and plant them next to other trees to see if they develop differently. No significant difference has been seen in them some 20 years later. They constitute five different species, planted in various locations around the US, and some of them have even been given away.

The petrified trees of the US

There are several petrified forests declared as national parks in the United States, in Washington, California, Arizona, and Mississippi. While the trees are no longer standing, they are the fossilized remains of once-living trees now turned to solid stone, in a process called "permineralization". Petrified wood is the only instance of fossilization in which a 3D specimen of the organism is preserved. The various forests date back to some 255 million years ago.

Monday, April 9, 2012

A Silly Simulation Of A Robot Woman, circa 1968

This was a futuristic "booth babe" at the Instruments, Electronics and Automatic Exhibition in London in 1968. At the exhibition by Honeywell Controls, LTD.

Anybody remember Honeywell? They're still around, but they've been long gone out of the computer business. Those of us who were running around "dinosaur pens" in the 1980s remember Honeywell logos in the vicinity of a Halon dump switch, and also stuff related to the aerospace industry.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

A nightmare vision of industrial hell: MetaChaos

Darn, I wasn't even going to post today, being Easter and all. But I got bored by night and moseyed around and stumbled upon this. Least appropriate thing I've ever watched on Easter.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

For your Easter-Egg-Hunting Fun, 55 Ways To Have Fun With Google

"Easter eggs", as the parlance of the web has it, are hidden features and unexpected surprises tucked into any kind of media. So what better way to hunt for software Easter eggs than to grab a free copy of "55 Ways To Have Fun With Google", by the same blogger who does Google Blogoscoped. Discover odd funky little features and idle amusements using the giant of search engines.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Anyone From California Recognize "The Sperm Tree"?

With spring coming up, I am reminded of another reason that I'm glad I moved out of the American west and never care to see it again: The Sperm Trees.

I'll try to assure those of you who have never had the "pleasure" to know what I'm talking about that, no, Californians aren't crazy (at least not for this reason). Right around this time of year, the air in southern California is absolutely saturated by the constant smell of human semen in the air, and it's all the fault of some particularly cheeky trees.

All the way back in 1985, The Straight Dope started talking about it. Nobody knows what the trees are called, but they all agree: (a) It stinks obscenely, (b) it's everywhere and hardy as a weed, (c) sprouts tiny white blossoms, and (d) attracts both bees and flies. Many trees were speculated upon as the culprit, including carob or ginko. But the greatest consensus seems to be the "tree of Heaven" noted as "Ailanthus altissima".

The USDA qualifies it as an invasive species, fit to be cut out and burned wherever you find it. It crowds out native species and is one of the only trees that can grow up right through concrete, causing property damage. Like all of the troublesome plants of southern California, it was imported by cheap land developers spreading booming urban sprawl throughout the 1900s.

Not everybody agrees that this tree is the sole suspect, however. An Encino blogger believes that this is more than one tree species.

All I know is that I don't miss it. I've heard descriptions saying that it smells like eggs or rotten meat. Balls! It smells like fresh, hot, wet cum, and that is the only thing it smells like, like God in heaven spunked in your face.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

John Titor, the greatest Internet prankster of all time

In November of 2000, someone created an account on several bulletin boards claiming to be "John Titor". But soon his claims grew much more fantastic than just an unusual name. He claimed to be a time traveler from the future. Over time, he responded to many forum member's questions, weaving a detailed, intricate story. He vanished after 2001.

During his "visit", he made predictions about the future (all of them in the immediate decade, all of which have proven untrue), spun a story about his mission being to recover computer technology for the future preservation of data, posted detailed explanations of how a time machine works, and supplemented his claims with many images, including diagrams of supposed future technology and his military insignia, shown above.

From all of this, Internet culture has built a Byzantine mythology. A book was published, John Titor A Time Traveler's Tale. A play was also produced, called Time Traveler Zero Zero. He became a regular topic of discussion on the radio show Coast To Coast AM, a wonderful program full of midnight wackiness and conspiracy theories. While his story has been shot full of holes, there are nevertheless people who *want* to believe and will never be unconvinced.

We are left with a few mysteries: The supposed original "john Titor" has never been identified. We also cannot pierce his motives; either he was a desperately delusional schizophrenic who believed his own story, a very dedicated surreal practical joker, or (my favorite theory) a budding (or perhaps even already made) science fiction author using the Internet as a test audience for some ideas he was kicking around.

There is even the remote possibility that it was all an attempt at a viral marketing campaign for some summer blockbuster that never got made (remember that the dreadful Blair Witch project was made with similar marketing right around this time). Or perhaps it was a psychologist researching people's threshold of disbelief. Maybe it was a test program by the US government to gauge whether they could invent an urban legend. Perhaps, because it singled out a potential problem with Unix-based systems, it was anti-Linux astroturf by Microsoft.

Why is the test-audience idea my favorite? Because I use this method all the time. In my creative work, be it my home blog, my webcomic, my funny pictures blog, my paid online freelancing work, or this very blog before you, any joke or theory or rant probably started out as some discussion I ignited on a web forum. I may even "troll" by pretending to take an opinion, while actually reading through the responses to see how people react to it. Later the idea might be fleshed out into a story, a joke, or an article for a client.

Now, I hasten to add, I don't get one-tenth as carried away as our "John Titor" example. When I test an idea, it's a couple of paragraphs maximum. So even the "testing ideas" theory doesn't hold water when someone keeps at it for a year and a half. 

There is also a great deal more analysis and exploration of the ideas provoked by Titor at this site, including extended chat room logs and excerpts from his messages and those of others. Note, in studying the transcripts, that he might have been an elaborate liar, but not a very good one. For instance, in one chat he says "But Im a little pissed right now.", then follows with "Is that still the right word?" Now, he had detailed future knowledge of our culture if he's telling the truth, so why should he have to ask? He only claimed to be from a few decades from now, so why assume that language changes so fast? The word "groovy" might have fallen out of vogue in our time, but you can still use it without raising more than an amused smirk.

Who is John Titor? The world will never know, because conditions are such that even the original person would not be believed. What were his motives? Whatever they were, if it was all just for a laugh, he must still be rolling around in stitches after all this time. Because it was the most successful joke in history.