Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Workin' from the porch

My job has a lot of advantages - I was slaving away at my desk, meaning I was having a particularly productive time, when I realized I had almost everything I needed done for the day, except for the finishing step of actually writing all my notes into stories.

I also had the luxury of knowing what my obligations for the next day were going to be - so I set up tomorrow's interviews, and got two interviews for tomorrow done in my notes - then I packed up my notes for today's stories and my recorder, and went home.

I've been typing away in the shade on my porch in what is a beautiful, mild, breezy day (right beside my personal coffee maker, so I can have some fresh brew any time). The day's duties were basically complete, and I have the great fortune of being flexible in where my work is actually completed.

This is really nice ... and I totally got to drive home in off-peak hours for traffic (not that there's a lot of traffic out here anyhow).

Very nice, all in all, way to wrap up May. Thanks for all the rain, but I'm quite happy now to have the fine summer weather with us.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Wondered the truth about Roswell?

This article explains everything. It was posted a few weeks ago, but it's still cool today.

Roswell crash Stalin plot to create mass panic
Lesley Ciarula Taylor Staff Reporter
The UFO crash at Roswell was actually Josef Stalin’s “War of the Worlds” stab at mass panic using German flying “discs” carrying deformed children aviators engineered by Nazi mad doctor Josef Mengele, a new book contends.

And that, writes U.S. investigative journalist Annie Jacobsen in her meticulously researched and carefully documented history, is why officially non-existent Area 51 is still top secret.

“I felt it was important to report that,” Jacobsen told the Star on Wednesday, the day after publication of her book Area 51: An Uncensored History of America’s Top Secret Military Base.

What her source told her, she believes, “was just the tip of the iceberg.” The U.S. would go on to conduct equally gruesome military medical experiments, he said.

A contributing editor to the Los Angeles Times Magazine, Jacobsen devotes a quarter of the book to her notes and resources.

The book draws on 74 sources, 32 of whom lived and worked at the base from the 1950s, when it was a cauldron of Cold War technology and engineering. But her disclosures about the notorious Roswell Incident rely on one source, a former engineer with EG&G, the most powerful defence contractor in the United States.

“I trust the veracity of that source completely.”

In a deal with Stalin after World War II, Dr. Josef Mengele plied his Auschwitz-honed black medical arts to turn 13-year-olds into alien-looking aviators who would pilot a version of the German Horten brothers’ boomerang-shaped craft into U.S. airspace, the engineer told Jacobsen.

The idea was to replicate the national hysteria sown by an Orson Welles radio broadcast of a purported Martian invasion, War of the Worlds.

Stalin reneged on the deal and Mengele escaped from Germany to Buenos Aires in 1949. The craft crashed in New Mexico in 1947. Four years later — hence the name Area (19)51 — the debris arrived in a desolate Nevada testing area for reverse engineering: Take it apart and put it back together to see how it works.

That testing area also gave birth to the first test flights of the U2, a spectacular high-flying spy plane that spawned many of the UFO sightings, engineers and pilots told Jacobsen.

Former U2 pilot Hervey Stockman described his nerve-wracking stealth flight over 400,000 square miles of the Soviet Union in 1956, which brought back vital information that the Soviets were neither preparing for nor capable of World War III.

Millions of pages of classified documents remain secret and need to be revealed, said Jacobsen. But her years of research have convinced her much secrecy at the time was necessary.

“Absolutely. There were amazing Cold War projects that went on at Area 51. They kept us out of a war with the Soviets. The times were really tense.”

How did she get so many Cold Warriors who’ve kept secrets for decades to talk?

“A lot of the documents are actually declassified now,” she said. Project 57, the explosion of a dirty bomb at Area 51 that security guard Richard Mingus actually drove through and lived, is one of them.

In 2007, the CIA began declassifying the A-12 Oxcart program, another secret aircraft often mistaken for a UFO.

The idea for Jacobsen’s book started with a chance encounter with Edward Lovick, the now 92-year-old “Radar Man” recruited to Area 51 to develop stealth technology by the legendary Skunk Works engineer Kelly Johnson. She would also meet Mingus by accident, in an archive.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Chipmunk funeral

My wife went out to tend on her garden this afternoon, and came in distraught - she found a dead chipmunk hanging from the mesh she's covered her garden in to protect it from critters. I told her to pick it up and throw it out, but she didn't want to touch it, didn't want to handle it wearing gloves, and didn't want her trowel to touch a dead chipmunk, and then be used on the garden.

Insert husband to deal with it. So I head out there with a paper bag and find the little guy hanging off the ground head first from the mesh, motionless. It was sad. I thought I might be able to just pull it out of the mesh, but of course, if it were loose enough to just drop out, the damned thing would have got away while he was still alive, right?

So the thing's really stuck. And I'm not sure if I thought I saw it move because it was dangling, or because it actually moved, but I got this sneaky feeling that the chipmunk was still alive.

So I sent the wife for a pair of scissors to cut it out of the mesh. The chipmunk isn't really moving, but I can tell that one of the eyes that was shut before, was now open. There was reason to believe that it might not be entirely lifeless.

I cut a hunk of scrap from the mesh and carried the chipmunk to somewhere easier to move- and you could see how very tangled the thing was. It was really in there, probably choking to death. It wasn't struggling, biting or anything, it was just waiting to die.

So I got to cutting away most of the mesh - and wifey's like: I don't think it's going to live very long even if you get it out. I think she was getting at: If it bites you, you could get really sick. Which might have been true, but it wasn't really struggling, and wasn't really showing any signs of panic or fear. Also I wasn't just going to leave it tangled up, toss it in the paper bag and throw it out. I might not nurse the thing back to health, but I fully planned set it as free as I could.

I went back in to get some more acute tools to try and get at the mesh around the chipmunk's neck. I didn't want to harm it any more than it had been hurt by twisting scissors around his face. While I was up, my wife took a turn at it, and by the time I'd gotten back, the lifeless chipmunk that was resigned to die, leaped away from her and scurried off. Jumping Jack Flash. Just like that.

I was impressed, and relieved honestly, that it seemed so spunky. Not much later, the chipmunk was scurrying around our porch, running by the window, eating the keys that had fallen from the tree.

You see wild animals all the time, but not often can you tell with confidence that you're seeing one that's absolutely thrilled to still be alive. But you could tell it was cheerful - or at least I think it looked cheerful, anyway. I'm sure we'll see him again, I just hope we don't come across more trapped animals clinging to life in my wife's deathtrap garden.

Friday, May 27, 2011

I love the bit about the drill. This had me in tears. You can find more of these of epicfail.com where videos and photos of people / things that are done well are celebrated.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Top 10: Things You Didn’t Know About Family Guy

I don't know if these are really the premiere TOP 10 things you'd like to know about Family Guy (frankly, I'd like to know how on earth they get all their guest voices for the show, especially considering how they roast celebs frequently).

But here are 10 items of interest, anyhow. (And, I have seen the episode of South Park that they talk about, but no, I haven't heard of a "Manatee joke" as an expression.)

Things You Didn’t Know About Family Guy
Posted by LeTune

There’s a lot if things you don’t know about this show, trust us. The American animated TV series Family Guy can easily be compared to a juicy episode of a latin telenovela. Near death experiences, ongoing rivalries, cancellations and accusations of grand theft animation. Here is just a couple little known but interesting facts about Fox’s hit animated series, Family Guy.

1. Cartoon Network saves the show

It’s pretty well known that Family Guy was initially canceled by Fox, only to be brought back later. What’s less known is that it was the show’s own syndication on Cartoon Network that revived it. It seems that airing the reruns on Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim lineup rebuilt a fan base for the show, and its ratings and DVD sales skyrocketed. Fox, realizing their mistake in canceling the show, quickly sought to revive it and create new episodes.

2. Cartoon Wars

Family Guy has always had a bit of controversy around itself, but the show actually went as far as to earn the ire of rival animated series. South Park released a two part episode entitled Cartoon Wars, in which Family Guy is relentlessly mocked for it’s cutaway jokes that have little if anything to do with the story. The episode actually coined the phrase “manatee jokes” due to South Park’s explanation that these jokes were written by a tank of manatees using balls with pop culture references written on them.

3. Cartoon Wars part 2

South Park isn’t alone for mocking Family Guy. The Simpsons has had a rivalry of their own with the show. Beginning when The Simpsons showed a picture of Peter Griffin on a wanted poster with the name “Plagarisimo” on it has started a back and forth between the two shows. Family Guy went as far as to have its resident lady’s man, Glenn Quagmire, hook up with Marge Simpson. The joke went on to have Homer discover the two and ended with Quagmire killing all five Simpsons. It probably goes without saying that the network didn’t let this scene go to air, although it is available on the DVDs.

4. The many voices of Meg

Meg Griffin is currently voiced by That 70’s Show veteran, Mila Kunis, but that wasn’t always the case. In the series pilot, she was voiced by actress Rachel MacFarlane, who is also sister the show’s creator. For the next several episodes, Meg was voiced by an uncredited Lacey Chabert (Party of Five, Mean Girls) before Kunis took the part.

5. Chris Griffin, aka Buffalo Bill

When auditions were being held for the role of Chris, many actors looked at the design for the character and gave him a “surfer” voice, according to MacFarlane. When Seth Green auditioned, however, he did something a little different. It seems that earlier that week, Green and friends were joking around by talking in the voice style of Buffalo Bill, the serial killer from Silence of the Lambs. Green auditioned using said voice and it won him the part of the Griffin’s slow-witted son.

6. Patrick Warburton’s mom is not a fan

Patrick Warburton, the voice of paraplegic cop Joe Swanson, has made quite a fan base for himself. Unfortunately, his mom isn’t part of it. Warburton’s mother, a devout Christian, has actually gone as far as to write letters to the FCC voicing her displeasure with the show and has been trying to convince him to quit for years.

7. MacFarlane survives 9/11

A much less humorous fact about the show is that its creator, Seth MacFarlane, came very close to being killed on 9/11. By his own admission, MacFarlane had a little too much to drink the night before an early flight and didn’t make it to the airport in time. That flight was later hijacked and flew into the north tower.

8. The Life of Larry

Before it was Family Guy, it was The Life of Larry. MacFarlane created a short cartoon called The Life of Larry that followed the adventures of Larry, a middle aged New Englander who went through life with his anthropomorphic dog, Steve. It was this short that was used to get MacFarlane a deal to produce a pilot for Family Guy, where Larry and Steve became Peter and Brian.

9. Stewie’s untold story

The homicidal and sexually ambiguous infant, Stewie, is no stranger to controversy, and that includes one that happened behind the scenes. MacFarlane has been accused of stealing the character from cartoonist Chris Ware, and his Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth series. MacFarlane claims he had never heard of or seen the comic when he created Stewie, but admits there are similarities. Both feature children with football-shaped heads, high IQs, and an eloquent speech pattern.

10. An honor just to be nominated

The Emmy awards have separate categories for animated television series, but the Family Guy crew set their sights a little higher. In 2009, Family Guy became the first animated series to be nominated for a best comedy series Emmy award since The Flintstones in 1961. Although they didn’t take home the trophy, the nomination itself was quite an accomplishment.

Overtime goals can be awfully strange

Check this one out from last night - I've never seen anything like it, though Bieksa's sneaky goal to eliminate San Jose is similar in some ways (in degrees of "sneaky" anyhow) to Scott Niedermayer's eliminating goal against Luongo a few years ago where Roberto was arguing with the ref, and Scott snuck a low shot from the blueline into the net.

Anyhow - you check it out:

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Laying sod

After the tremendous amount of weeding over the past two weeks, I'm excited to have been able to finally lay some sod in the backyard. I unrolled only 10 rolls of sod, but it's already making a difference. And I'm hoping, now that we've spent so much time on the weeds, that they'll be more manageable.

In any case, we're off to a good start with the yard this spring - and I got a great tan as a result. Good long weekend.

This only makes it better:

Monday, May 23, 2011

Blue Rodeo

Saw Blue Rodeo on Friday night. I was a little leery of going, because I don't know a lot of Blue Rodeo songs, but of course their biggest hits are really great, so I was going to be happy to hear those.

We got there, waited quite a while for the band, and then they stormed out with 5 Days in May, it was about 8 minutes long, had two solos (one on the piano, and then another on the guitar) and it totally rocked. I was really blown away.

They wasted no time, segueing into Hasn't Hit Me Yet, which requires a bit of a tangent. To open the set, the MC introduced Blue Rodeo by asking: Who do you want? a couple times, with a muddled slurry of responses that didn't resemble "Blue Rodeo" even if you were trying really hard to try and hear that.

Yet, the stage lights clearly indicated that the audience was to sing the opening verse to Hasn't Hit Me Yet, which they did with medical precision. It was kind of surprising that the crowd was able to succeed in this, when they'd failed so greatly in simply saying the band's name.

In any case, they were fantastic. The song had a day-long solo as well, rocking all the way. It was loud, it was awesome, and full of energy. They did great. ...

BUT after opening with basically the only two songs they have that I wanted to hear, I feared that they would progress into all their songs I've never heard before, with equally long solos to bridge between choruses of tunes that didn't ever even make the radio.

I was right. Luckily, with the wristband, you could leave and walk around the quiet town (what with everyone in the local arena - the type that has bleachers on one side, and that's about it - it was quite pleasant going for a stroll).

In the end, they wrapped up with Lost Together, pulling the opening band up on stage with them, so there were 9 band members going at it, and it was well done. The bookend songs were really nice, and all that unfamiliar country jamming filled the middle (which, obviously, isn't my idea of great).

but it was alright.

I imagine this would be what it's like to watch Econoline Crush headline an event.

For the record, Better Off As We Are plagiarizes 867-5309 almost note-for-note. Seriously.

On a less important note:
Lead singer Jim Cuddy bears a remarkable resemblance to University of Windsor president Alan Wildeman.

Switch the hair and tie around, and you've got doppelgangers.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Dinosaur Entertainment

Dinosaur Entertainment
'Super Dinosaur' ready for a dino-mite debut

Robert Kirkman likes to think that every kid is enamored with dinosaurs — even the overgrown kids that enjoy his more adult comic books.

"Big giant monsters that looked awesome that actually existed? How do you not love dinosaurs? If anyone out there doesn't like dinosaurs, I would like them to contact me and explain that," says the writer and creator of The Walking Dead.

Kirkman is teaming again with his partner from The Astounding Wolf-Man, artist Jason Howard, for Super Dinosaur, a new all-ages book debuting April 20 on Kirkman's Image Comics imprint, Skybound. The comic will be available in comic shops as well as digitally on the Image Comics app for iPad and iPhone.

In addition, the Super Dinosaur Origin Special debuts on Free Comic Book Day May 7 in comic book stores all across the USA. "That'll tell you exactly how he became a 9-foot-tall talking dinosaur that's as smart as a human and has giant mechanical arms he controls and uses to fight crime," Kirkman says.

Super Dinosaur has all the elements of a cartoon that kids over the years would rush home from school to witness: a relatable hero in boy genius Derek Dynamo; an awesome, well-weaponized character in Super Dinosaur himself; a nefarious baddie in Doctor Max Maximus; and panel-to-panel action.
'Love in the Time of Dinosaurs'
This title is kind of a rip-off of "Love in the Time of Chasmosaurus" (a friend of the blog) which is a rip-off of "Love in the Time of Cholera." But, let's not nit-pick.

Dinosaurs and insightful writers ... or am I being redundant? Well, I’m happy to say reports of their mutual demise have been greatly exaggerated. Case in point: Love in the Time of Dinosaurs by Kirsten Alene.

The Portland, Oregon resident is the author of Chiaroscuro (2009), a poetry chapbook and “several stories and poems currently circulating the worldwide web.” Most recently, she’s penned the above-mentioned Love in the Time of Dinosaurs, a novella from Eraserhead Press, that’s been said to portray “a world filled with complex politics, spirituality, history, and a sense of actual existence in some parallel dimension.”

As I dug into Alene’s novella, I was at the ready for metaphors, allusions, and other buried treasures within the Bizarro context. After just one chapter, I was too busy getting attached to the characters, plot, and pace to analyze. That could wait for the ensuing interview … which went a little something like this:

Mickey Z.: Extinct creatures have returned to wreak havoc using modern weapons. Seemingly pious monks are trapped by long-obsolete paradigms. Limbs and other body parts haphazardly reattached and reanimated with help of magical kung fu. Forbidden love. And so much more. Can you provide a roadmap of sorts through the metaphors and meanings?

Kirsten Alene: All summed up in those words, I would say the only roadmap is that I was very recently a teenager. I will try to say this without being poetic but, to be young is to be at war with the world, isolated, estranged, in conflict internally and externally, and dying all of the time just to be sewn back together again by people you don’t really like. That’s where that could probably came from. When I was writing it I was just thinking that dinosaurs with guns are fucking awesome. The plastic guns were inspired by a character in Cameron Pierce’s Shark Hunting in Paradise Garden who has something like the Midas Touch only he turns things into mannequins.

MZ: It feels to me that you’re still at war - not with the world but with those fucking up the world, those using all kinds of new weapons to create all kinds of new extinctions. Yet at the root of the story is star-crossed love, growing and thriving amidst all the sliced off limbs.

KA: Well ... I’m getting married in eight days, so there had better be some epic romance in there. I’ve been in the love-y mode. Maybe my next book will be less obvious on that front.

MZ: I’ve written: “All you need is love ... and a small, well-trained army.” Looks like you might agree?

KA: And some chickens and a goat. And also 2-3 solar panels and a large plot of land. And corn. Other than that—yes.
Cthulhu Cthursday: Lovecraft and the Dinosaurs

Craig Simmons’ Cthulhusaurus Rex has been making the internets rounds this week (h/t to Grim Blogger for ID’ing the artist).

Lovecraft didn’t write much about dinosaurs, but they did enter his life in a couple of ways, one quite important. More after the jump

First off, he owned a fossilized dinosaur bone fragment. Lovecraft developed throughout his life a curio collection of strange art, but especially artifacts and other old things. Almost all of these were gifts either from the artists (like Clark Ashton Smith), or from rich friends. In 1930, Clark Ashton Smith gave Lovecraft a fragment of a dinosaur bone. HPL was very pleased, and responded

“Nothing could be more appropriate to my tastes or more stimulative to my fancy! To think of having by me the mortal remains – in part – of a twenty-foot high thing which lumbered about the primal Pacific morasses 50,000,000 years ago … a thing which may have trod the vari-colour’d sands of Lemuria, & nosed amongst the fallen obelisks of the Elder Ones … a beast on whose broad back Great Cthulhu himself may have ridden from his palace in blasphemous R’lyeh!”(HPL letter to Clark Ashton Smith, February 27, 1930, Published in Selected Letters: 1929 – 1931. Volume III. Edited by August Derleth and Donald Wandrei. Arkham House, Sauk City, Wisconsin 1971. Page 119, Letter 400)

Indeed, this was appropriate to Lovecraft’s tastes. Not only his intense interest in deep time and the past, but specifically the dinosaur and its fossils. In 1922, Lovecraft approached a sub-curator at the American Museum of Natural History, about dinosaur eggs. At this time, dinosaur eggs were a hypothetical, though a year later this would change with the famous discovery by Roy Chapman Andrews of dinosaur eggs in the Gobi Desert. Lovecraft’s interest was that he had a story germ for the survival and revival of dinosaur eggs, and he had urged Frank Belknap Long to take the idea and run with it. In 1930, such a story by another author appeared, and Lovecraft was quite annoyed that neither he nor his correspondent had gotten there first. I’m still researching, but the conventional wisdom is that this annoyance was one motive that spurred Lovecraft on to write his own “revived fossil” story, At the Mountains of Madness. We also know that Lovecraft, something of a regular movie-goer at certain times in his life, saw the Jurassic Park of the 1920s, the special-effects driven The Lost World in 1925.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Star article basically movie treatment

Treatment for a summer blockbuster comedy to rival Hunter S. Thompson's upcoming Rum Diaries (2011).

Kelly: ESPN reporters tell their tales - if only ours were this good
by Cathal (never heard of a name like Cathal) Kelly

“Shy egomaniacs” by Cathal Kelly

Logline: Decent writing and collegiality may earn you the respect of your peers. The ability to avoid a foot pursuit without ditching your laptop can transport you into legend.

Opening scene: "I was so drunk that I ...."

Sc. 1: Walks out of the press box during the World Series to get a hot dog, but forgets his press credentials (cause he's drunk) and has to finish his report from the parking lot.

Sc. 2: He is so drunk he throws up all over the typewriter of the guy beside him, who responds: "If that's literary criticism, I don't appreciate it."

Sc. 3: He is so drunk, he has to call a colleague to figure out what city he's in.

Sc. 4: He is so drunk he starts a fist fight over the national anthem.

Sc. 5: He is so drunk, he steps on an ice cube on the dance floor, and does the splits, and becomes a bar hero. Then covers spring training with a double groin pull.

Sc. 6: He is so drunk, he passes out on press row during the big game. A competing writer takes mercy and writes his own article, and then a second for the unconscious colleague. The unconscious colleague wins an award for his version of the article - and accepts the award.

Sc. 7: He is so drunk he pees into a towel, and throws it at the interns.

Sc. 8: He is so drunk he flips out at the suggestion of flying coach, and calls up Disney to borrow the corporate jet to get to their kids' Little League game.

Sc. 9: He is so drunk he uses the company apartment to form an inter-office prostitution ring, to fund cocaine habit.

Sc. 10: He is so drunk he signs a confidentiality agreement to say he never slept with Tiger Woods.
This script writes itself: Just have to work in a little boy who believes in the protagonist and an ex-wife with a change of heart. BAM blockbuster time!

Dinosaur Science

Dinosaur Science
Conditions had to be just right for dinosaurs to leave fossilized footprints
"Well DUH discoveries" have to be corroborated with evidence, even if they sound too simple to require it.
BBC: In a paper published in the Journal of the Royal Society Interface, Peter Falkingham of the University of Manchester and his collaborators explain why fossilized dinosaur footprints are so rare. According to the group's computer simulations, the massive prehistoric animals left enduring prints only in thick, shallow mud. Lighter dinosaurs would not leave prints in the same kind of mud, which means that the absence of small prints next to large fossilized prints should not be taken as evidence for the absence of small dinosaurs.
Research team finds extinction evidence
Volcanoes kill Permean sealife
A University of Calgary research team has found evidence of what caused the world's biggest extinction 250 million years ago which set the stage for dinosaurs to evolve.

Stephen Grasby, adjunct professor of geoscience at the U of C, said his team focused on the causes of the Permean extinction, the largest extinction in the history of the earth which wiped out up to 95 per cent of life in the sea and 70 per cent on land. The extinction was caused by a volcanic eruption, burning coal and greenhouse gases.

"There was a series of bad events at this time," Grasby said. "Coal burning, runaway global warming, lots of stresses on the environmental system dumping toxic ash into the oceans."

The team of researchers found layers of coal ash in the Canadian arctic which had traveled from volcanoes in northern Russia.

"We showed the first direct evidence of layers of coal ash at sites of eruptions," he said. "It's a double whammy, not only having a big volcanic eruption, but also combusting a huge amount of coal."

The extinction did see the production of greenhouse gases, though on a much larger scale than what may exist today.

According to U of C geoscience professor and Grasby's colleague on the study, Benoit Beauchamp, research like this can warn of the potential end results of releasing large amounts of carbon dioxide.
New Dinosaur: Titanic Triceratops Ancestor?

Meet what could be the new granddaddy of horned dinosaurs—Titanoceratops.

At 15,000-pound (6,800-kilogram) the prehistoric titan would have rivaled the African elephant-size Triceratops, which weighed more than 11,000 pounds (5,000 kilograms), according to a new analysis of a partial skeleton.

The beast—which had an 8-foot-long (2.4-meter-long) skull—is the biggest dinosaur found so far in North America during the late Cretaceous period, about 74 million years ago.

If indeed a new species, Titanoceratops' discovery could also mean that triceratopsins—members of a family of giant horned dinosaurs—evolved their gigantic sizes evolved at least five million years earlier than previously thought, the study says.

Triceratops would have evolved into a separate species after Titanoceratops had died out, according to the study.

"It's pretty surprising—I would have not have thought something this big and this advanced was living in this time period," said study leader Nicholas Longrich, a paleontologist at Yale University.

But other experts say the skeleton is not complete enough to call it a new species.

"I would like it to be real," said Michael Ryan, curator of vertebrate paleontology at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History.

"[But] until we find a better specimen ... there's no reason to say it isn't a Pentaceratops," a similar type of horned dinosaur.
What's cool is my "buddy" Dr. Michael Ryan, the curator of vertebrae paleontology the Cleveland Museum is quoted in the article. I almost met Dr. Ryan (which is a cool name) when I was at the museum, but he was away. I'm a big fan of "Paleoblog," which I've taken off my blog list for some reason. Perhaps I should put it back up!

Dinosaurs may have survived longer than previously thought
I think I've reported on this before, but ...
A new technique to date dinosaur bones developed by a University of Alberta researcher may prove that dinosaurs lived up to 700,000 years past previously recognized extinction dates.

The results challenge the view that dinosaurs died out in a relatively short period, around 65.5 or 66 million years ago. It means the idea of one huge meteorite wiping out the dinosaurs may need a radical revamp.

"It's still possible that a meteorite or a series of meteorite impacts in a one- or two-million year period around that time did cause enough devastation to really stress animals like dinosaurs. But it wasn't an instantaneous event," explained Larry Heaman, the researcher behind the testing technique.

The researchers took a fossilized femur of a sauropod and, using a new urianium isotope dating method, found that it yields a date of only 63.9 – 65.7 million years ago, meaning this particular dinosaur was alive up to 700,000 years after the mass extinction event.

Heaman collaborated with US Geological Survey researcher James Fassett, who has been trying for nearly three decades to prove some dinosaurs lived past the Cretaceous-Tertiary Boundary, a worldwide sediment layer enriched in meteorite materials that traditionally marks the demise of the dinosaurs.

Although some dinosaur bones have been found physically above the Cretaceous-Tertiary Boundary, in a period called the Paleocene, most palaeontologists believed that they had simply been washed out from older sediments and re-deposited with younger ones.

"All these hints that this [fossil-bearing layer] is Paleocene have been met with controversy and skepticism. This is really the first direct dating that supports it," Heaman said.

The new technique has previously been used to date ancient minerals, but this is the first time it has been used on bone. Its success lies in the ability to image and select specific areas that are suitable for dating. Heaman acknowledged that because it is so new, it will no doubt be met with some uncertainty.

Heaman first dated an older bone that was bounded by two volcanic ash layers that have very well defined dates, and found that the ages agreed. This helped prove the veracity of the technique, but Heaman says there is still ways to improve the technique, which he is trying to do on other dinosaur fossil samples.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Bin Laden, end of the world, escaping jail and firing dwarfs

I don't usually post news items - but I haven't got a lot going on these days, and these seem like interesting enough news items that aren't related to stpuid Schwarzenegger. The Schwartz isn't stupid because he has children with a woman he's not married to - but rather, it's stupid news because this happens to literally millions and millions of people all the time. It's hardly newsworth.

Let me guess - someone who's famous isn't necessarily a role model? ... this happens over and over again. This happens to all kinds of people all over the place - just not people with great family values.

In any case: cool news items.

Starbucks sued for firing dwarf for being ‘danger to customers’

AUSTIN, TEXAS—The U.S. government is suing Starbucks, saying the coffee company fired a barista in El Paso, Texas because she is a dwarf.

When the employee asked for a stool or small stepladder to perform her job, Starbucks denied the request and fired her that same day, claiming that she could be a danger to customers and workers, according to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

The commission, which filed the lawsuit Monday, said that Starbucks violated federal law by denying a reasonable accommodation to the employee, who was hired in July 2009 and was fired after three days of training.

"Starbucks has become a virtual icon of modern American culture, appealing to an incredibly diverse customer base," Robert Canino, a commission lawyer in Dallas, said in a statement. "We'd hope that when considering hiring a person with a disability, Starbucks would choose to enhance its brand with the mark of equal opportunity and access."

Stacey Krum, a spokeswoman for Starbucks, said the woman was hired on a trial basis and after three days the store manager decided that the work was too physically demanding for her to perform.

"Using the stool in that environment just wasn't a reasonable accommodation in that store," Krum said.

Women not guilty of death threats to school staff

Wait! You had a chance to lock this bitch up and didn't? My hunch is this will be a decision you'll regret some day down the road.

Bin Laden raid planners knew there would be no second chance

WASHINGTON—Those who planned the secret mission to get Osama bin Laden in Pakistan knew it was a one-shot deal, and it nearly went terribly wrong.

The U.S. deliberately hid the operation from Pakistan, and predicted national outrage over the breach of Pakistani sovereignty would make it impossible to try again if the raid on bin Laden’s suspected redoubt came up dry.

Once the raiders reached their target, things started to go awry almost immediately, officials briefed on the operation said.

Adding new details to the account of the assault, officials described just how the SEAL raiders loudly ditched a foundering helicopter right outside bin Laden’s door, ruining the plan for a surprise assault. That forced them to abandon plans to run a squeeze play on bin Laden — simultaneously entering the house stealthily from the roof and the ground floor.

Instead, they busted into the ground floor and began a floor-by-floor storming of the house, working up to the top level where they had assumed bin Laden — if he was in the house — would be.

They were right.
Click to read all the details of the Bin Ladin take-down.

NYC man spends life savings on doomsday ad campaign
A New York City man’s decision to spend his life savings on a transit-ad campaign warning riders that the world will end on Saturday has prompted a backlash from atheist groups, who say doomsday cults are nothing more than money-making scams.

Robert Fitzpatrick, a 60-year-old retired Metro Transportation Authority engineer, spent $140,000 — nearly his entire life savings — on 1,000 ads at bus shelters and on subway cars announcing the end of the world on May 21.

“Global Earthquake: The Greatest Ever! Judgment Day May 21, 2011,” the ads proclaim over a picture of Jerusalem at night and a clock on the verge of striking midnight.

“When we know this truth about the time of the end, God’s people are obliged to get that out,” Fitzpatrick told the Toronto Star Tuesday. “There’s always been a command ever since Jesus went back to heaven to preach the gospel. But now that command has to do with getting this very specific warning out that the day of judgment is practically here.”

Fitzpatrick, who has never married, says he was raised a Roman Catholic but became alienated from the religion after reading the Bible.

His ads also encourage people to tune in to Family Radio, a listener-supported Christian radio network founded by doomsday cultist Harold Camping. The 89-year-old talk-radio personality has inspired thousands of people in North American to quit their jobs, empty their bank accounts, and hit the streets in an effort to “save” others. Camping’s Judgment Day billboards have appeared in cities around the world, as well as 17 Canadian cities, including Toronto, Kingston and Windsor, Ont.
Click to read more.

Letterman's Top 10 list - I liked this one

#10 - You can trade an old 44 for a new 22.

#9 - You can keep one gun at home and have another for when you're on the road.

#8 - If you admire a friend's gun and tell him so, he will probably let you try it out a few times.

#7 - Your primary gun doesn't mind if you keep another gun for a backup.

#6 - Your gun will stay with you even if you run out of ammo.

#5 - A gun doesn't take up a lot of closet space.

#4 - Guns function normally every day of the month.

#3 - A gun doesn't ask , "Do these new grips make me look fat?"

#2 - A gun doesn't mind if you go to sleep after you use it.

And the Number One reason
Why Men Prefer Guns over women.....

#1 - You can buy a silencer for a gun

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Dinosaur Entertainment

Dinosaur Entertainment
Terra Nova news

Fox Will Hype Simon’s X Factor, Spielberg’s Dinosaurs, and Glee During Super Bowl
While nothing's locked yet, Fox marketing chief Joe Earley and his team are furiously working to cut teaser spots for two of Fox's big guns for 2011: May's debut of prehistoric action-adventure Terra Nova... In the case of Terra Nova, the Super Bowl will be the first time general audiences will get a peek at the very expensive Steven Spielberg production (a press preview of footage last month generated solid reviews).
Primal Carnage news
Primal Carnage pre-alpha footage pits humans against dinosaurs

Not sure if this looks cool or not, but a MMPORPG. I haven't really played a multiple multi-player online role playing game before, I might have played like a few moments of Baldur's Gate (what was that one called again? Diablo?) - but multiple online game with dinosaurs running around is really really cool.

Dinosaur books

Video Game Review: 'Digging for Dinosaurs'

"Digging For Dinosaurs" starts off by putting kids in the shoes of a globe-trotting paleontologist. They can scroll a world map and choose where they want to dig for fossils (as long as they have enough points to enter that dig). Once they've used clever touchscreen controls to unearth a dino skeleton, they'll have access to that dinosaur's mini game. By playing mini games (like defending a nest against predators, flying between treetops, navigating a maze, hunting in the dark, or battling it out with another fierce carnivore) kids can earn more points that can be spent to access more digs. At the end, they can have a full dinosaur museum.

Is It Any Good?

Kids who love dinosaurs tend to REALLY love dinosaurs, and those kids will also love this game. "Digging for Dinosaurs" is a great package, with a very neat touchscreen method for unearthing fossils and reconstructing skeletons. It's got loads of interesting dino facts, includings some neat new tidbits that even your obsessive dino lover probably hasn't heard yet. And it's got a slew of exciting and challenging mini-games. The game is labeled as being for ages 5 to 8, but kids on the lower end of that range might have difficulty with some of the mini-games.

Reviewed by Christopher Healy.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Dinosaur humour

I've got a few dinosaur posts ready to go - the first post is about dinosaur humour, and there are a few things about dinosaurs that are funny in here. I've got a few more posts on Dinosaur Science I'm working on, and another on Dinosaur Entertainment that I'll schedule to post sometime later tomorrow.

That should be nice.

Dinosaur Humour
LOL god

Upper case joke, lower case respect.
Adam and Eve as dinosaurs
If you feel like saying: "Gulp, Jesus! Maaaan." Then look around some more on this site.

Celebrities being eaten by dinosaurs

Shia Laboeuf is in everything else, why not this? Follow the link to see Justin Bieber and Miley Cyrus being eaten, too.
Prehistoric vegetarians, vegans ‘probably got eaten by predators,’ says expert
London, UK -- Vegetarians and vegans existed in prehistoric times, but there is no present-day evidence of their existence because they most likely got eaten by carnivorous predators before they could leave a lasting mark on the world, a leading British archaeologist has claimed.

Dr. Howard Sloane, a professor of archaeology at Cambridge University, made the spirited remark in a lecture given Saturday to a group of graduate students at the University College London's Archaeology Hall.

"When you factor in the law of natural selection, it is not that too farfetched an idea. Ancient vegetarians and vegans were probably too weak and lethargic to outrun the predators chasing after them," said Sloane. "Meanwhile, we have cave drawings of prehistoric men hunting wildlife for food. The facts speak for themselves."

Sloane said that modern-day vegetarians and vegans are "extremely lucky" to live in a world where vitamin and mineral supplements abound, and more important, "most carnivorous predators are locked up in zoos or being hunted to extinction."

"Truthfully, the whole of humankind should be thankful that a majority of our cavemen ancestors were meat-eaters," said Sloane. "Otherwise, we all wouldn't be here discussing this."

The Birmingham, UK-based Vegan Society summarily condemned Sloane's assertion, calling it "irresponsible and reckless."

"Countless studies have shown that our forebearers were fruit foragers. Additionally, ancient vegetarians and vegans used and made materials that were biodegradable, which explains why they didn't survive for modern men to behold," said George Rodger, the institution's Chair of Trustees.

Rodger added that he is more than willing to race Sloane, an avowed meat-lover, to see who sprints faster.

"I was a track and field star at university. I am pretty certain I can outrun the wanker," joked Rodger.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Weeding and water

Baseball was a lot of fun, but I have a strong feeling that our league won't have a lot of big hits or plays in the outfield because of the pitching structure. Basically, with the size of the strike zone, the odds of you seeing a good pitch in the right location for positive contact is really small.

You can get three strikes without having a ball get anywhere close to a "strike zone" in any other traditional form of baseball. But - I can live with that. It just changes much of the way we play defense and approach batting.

From there, I can admit, I have been really sore and stiff from the first game, which was compounded by a serious amount of weeding yesterday. For some reason my arms and legs are exhausted and tired. I'm sure that will pass -

which leads to my experiences with water today so far. The moisture in the air came in the house, especially because we've had the windows open, which is no surprise. Yet, I hadn't expected for that moisture to affect the pages of my graphic novel that I've been working on. They're moist enough that I'm leery of inking the pages to day for fear that the ink will leech.

I'll give it a try, and just hope that it's not as big of a concern as I think it'll be.

Lastly, I'm doing a load of laundry - a large load, but nothing special, and I'm a bit disappointed that our washer has small and medium settings, but no large. Instead, there's SuperPlus. I have an ambition to try and conserve water, but this doesn't seem to fit the bill. I defintely had more laundry in there than a medium load (which I'd measure as "half full") but certainly didn't have it super-plussed to the rim.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Baseball season begins tomorrow!

I have missed playing baseball for a long time! Last summer after my wife and I moved to Port Perry, we were without a baseball team which was really too bad. I got myself a bit too interested in golf to try and entertain myself without it. That was 2010.

The summer before that we moved to Peterborough after a strike in Windsor that cancelled our entire season the summer before, which was the worst reason to not play baseball ever. It was infuriating, really. That was 2009.

The last time we played a game was the playoffs of the year before that on the Labour Day weekend. So how long is that?

It's May 2011, the Windsor strike was the summer of 2009, believe it or not- meaning we haven't played softball since ... oh man, August of 2008. Can that be right? It's almost unbelievable it's been so long.

I think we did play one game last year as substitutions, but that was it. One baseball game since August 2008. It's going to be RUSTY.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

An aching weekend

I'll have to get some pictures of this up soon - but last weekend I installed some new patio stones at the front of the house, and frankly, my body was obliterated for almost 24 hours after that.

I wanted to extend the stones a little up the side of the drive way - for my own personal taste, and to have the extension match our existing patio stones, I figured I'd have to buy about 14 new stones and remove the existing ones. This wasn't all for lost, because the nine existing stones could be reused at the side of the house where we have these gates on a muddy slant.

So, the idea was to install the new stones, extend the front walk, and reallocate the old stones to the sides of the house. Pretty straight forward.

I hadn't counted on the stones to each weigh 100 lbs.

I knew it was going to be rough work, but I didn't think that I'd have to go out and pick up 1,400 lbs of patio stones from the Rona, unload 1,400 lbs from the car (it took two trips to spare the shocks), then exhume 900 lbs of stones from the front yard, move 600 lbs of stones to the back of the lot, and install the 1,300 of the 1,400 lbs of stones from the garage into the front walkway.

By about mid-afternoon - that was about all I had left in me to do. I had a gatorade and a sit down. There wasn't a lot left in the tank. I was still stiff and aching on Monday, but a bit of stretching today and things are pretty much back to regular.

In any case - I've felt a great deal of lethargy lately, and I don't want to really do anything. But with an upcoming ball season, a new season on the fairways and the sunny weekends returning, I'm certain that the energy and enthusiasm will come back.

Until then - the lawn might just have to fair for itself until I get back ...

but seriously, I can't get the lawnmower started after the winter break. Any tips out there?

Friday, May 6, 2011

new scene for Tomb of the Undead

Check it out - there's a new scene for the Tomb of the Undead, I don't trust those lazy bastards, for you to check out. Only two pages, but I think they turned out nice and ratchet up some of the tension to our protagonists.

Dr. Starkwood suspects that Barnum Mantell might not have the museum's best interests in mind in I Don't Trust those Lazy Bastards.
Other posts you might be interested in about graphic novels:
Hope you like it.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Canada History Magazine article

If you didn't run out and purchase the April / May issue of Canada History magazine, then you likely haven't read my article in there. So - this is for you:

[click to enlarge page 3]

Again, if you like it, be sure to e-mail the editor and tell'em what you think. editors@canadashistory.ca

Monday, May 2, 2011

Round two picks

This is a little late, but it's still what I picked.

Eastern Conference:
Boston vs. Philadelphia. I pick Philadelphia. yeah it doesn't look very good right now ... with Pronger out and nothing but colour commentators in net, but I'm still hoping Philly can return to form before much longer to make a series out of it.

Washington vs. Tampa Bay. I like Tampa Bay and I wouldn't mind seeing them go to the next round, but I'm waiting for Washington to win the series. It seems stupid to pick Washington now, especially after they've lost the first two games on the road, but the series isn't over. This is the exact same thing that happened to the Bruins before they won the first round, so let's wait and see what happens.

It seems more likely to have a Boston v. Tampa conference finals, but I'm still routing for Caps v. Flyers.

Western Conference:
San Jose vs. Detroit. Not only does SJ look good, but also I would pick them to win this series. I still hate everything about Detroit, and especially because it's so close to Windsor. Take that you stinky Michigan-touchers. If the Red Wings need a prayer, they should disable Zetterberg. They're winless with him, and undefeated without him.

Vancouver vs. Nashville. Nashville has looked awful, the only thing that looks good about them is their goalie. However, apparently Vancouver is playing down at their level, because they can't seem to score any goals either. But I'm still picking Vancouver - those guys can't continue to suck for much longer, can they?

So - the conference finals will be San Jose vs. Vancouver and we'll watch no games because they'll all start at 10 p.m. which sucks shit. Then Washington vs. Philadelphia, which should be a testy, talented fight.

Cool playoffs so far.