Archive for February, 2007

Beer torpedo

February 12, 2007 21 comments

Found in my son’s bottle of Guinness beer.  It is 73mm long by 14mm wide, hollow, made of some dense plastic like polypropylene.  There are wings on the side that prevent it from falling out of the bottle by accident though it was easy to remove with needle-nose pliers.  Looks like the front and rear sections were friction-welded together. It has a tiny hole in the back end.

Maybe it was full of dry ice when they poked it into the bottle.  Squirt in the beer, cap it, and presto!  strong carbonation.  Did I guess correctly? or do the Irish just like to put plastic torpedoes in their beer for no reason?

UPDATE: picture of beer torpedo’s aft section to help with RickU’s question…

In a small inset is a tiny hole, which does not appear to have any sort of valve. The pointy end of beer torpedo is toward the neck of the bottle; this hole is positioned downward when the bottle is standing upright. 

In transilluminated view (contrast-enhanced and flipped negative), we can see this is a #18 beer torpedo.  There’s probably a whole catalogue of them somewhere..

Categories: Science & Technology

It’s Darwin day, too

February 12, 2007 6 comments

On this day in 1809, were born two men; Abraham Lincoln and Charles Darwin.  Each left the world a different, and better place.

What if the Beagle had sundered upon the rocks?  Others were working on the same questions.  The discovery would still have been made, sometime.  But Darwin carried the burden with care, and compassion for the upset it caused.  His life is well worth reading about. 

Categories: Geeky, History

Why I don’t like Hillary

February 10, 2007 8 comments

An email from WeeDram:

I’m curious.  I’ve never understood the strong aversions many people have to Hillary.  I honestly don’t see what provokes that.  I do recognize that the whacky right has a bee in their bonnet probably because she is a strong female, but that’s just a conjecture on my part.

You gave her a parenthetical “ugh” in your blog.  Where’s that coming from?  I’m honestly curious.

I sent back a short answer, but being’s I’m a Librool Democrat and think rather poorly of our current president, it deserves a better answer.  First of all, I’m not the only Democrat who feels this way.  Look at this cartoon from Pat Oliphant:

And now look at this enlarged segment – almost my exact words.  Why?  What is it about Hillary that I distrust so?

To begin with, it isn’t anything to do with Bill Clinton.  I didn’t appreciate Bill enough while he was in office, but Bush cured me of it.  (Ill go into what exactly Bill did right, some other time)  No, my dislike of Hillary is specific to her. 

Comparing her and Obama, both have short Senate careers.  But while Obama does not appear to have been seeking the presidency before winning a Senate seat, nobody doubts that was Hillary’s intention all along. 

It’s OK to be calculating; indeed I wish our current president were more calculating and less of a “gut player”.  But Hillary’s vote for the Iraq war seems unprincipled.  Hell, even I knew the yellowcake documents were fake, and I’m just someone who pays attention to stuff.  But now she is whining that she had “bad intelligence.”  That’s Bush’s excuse and in the context of an executive making a risky judgment call, he ought to be prepared to step down for being wrong1

Then there’s economics: her husband understands the profit motive, and so does Al Gore.  They regard taxes and regulations as necessary things, but they also recognize that capitalism is pulling this wagon, and to keep it well fed.  What about Hillary?

“I want to take those profits, and I want to put them into a strategic energy fund…”  Expect to see that clip again and again once the campaign starts rolling.  Especially the first six words.

Sure, I’ll stipulate oil companies are evil and their profits are obscene.  I’d love to see a future where they are obsolete because energy production is distributed into a wide portfolio of sources.  It won’t happen with the Bush dynasty in office – they have oil in their arteries.  But…

There’s a saying that if the Democrats want to change things, they should try getting somebody elected president.  That won’t happen with a candidate who gives such heavy-duty ammunition to the Republicans.  Alternative energy research2 will benefit all Americans, so there’s a good case for all Americans paying for it, not just evil corporations.  (Besides, taxing corporations feels better than it works.  The corporations simply regard it as a cost of doing business and pass it onto the consumer.)

So who gets elected?  You can make a very strong case that voters always go for the more charismatic candidate regardless of ideology.3  Bill Clinton has it – he could work around almost any gaffe or misdeed.  Hillary does not, and her candidacy virtually guarantees a Republican president in ‘08. 

I do believe Hillary is smart enough to realize this, which in my mind makes her candidacy self-indulgent and unprincipled.  She would probably make a halfway good president, at least compared to the current one, but we can do better.  Naturally having been wrong about Bill, I am quite prepared to be proved wrong about Hillary.  Since it looks like she will be the Democratic candidate, I certainly hope I am wrong. 

So what about Obama?  He is a constitutional scholar, he respects the conservative world view, he has charisma, he knows history, and he is able to hold his temper under extreme provocation.  In other news, I recently found out he smokes cigarettes, which moves him up a notch in my book.  Illogical as it sounds, I don’t trust people who appear saintly.  I just hope he doesn’t start “apologizing” for it.

It’s too early to tell how the race will play out but so far the Republicans have not fronted anybody who inspires me at all. So I hope the Democrats will.


  1. Obviously I’m not saying presidents aren’t allowed to make mistakes, but this one was beyond the “Oh, well just don’t do it again” level.  When you bet the ranch, you better be prepared to lose the ranch.  In this case, “the ranch” being all the credibility of your entire administration.

  2. If the oil companies were smart they’d jump on that bandwagon.  But they spend more on advertising how green they are than they do on alternative energy research.
  3. Don’t believe it?  Read this analysis by Paul Graham and what it means for candidate choice: It’s Charisma, Stupid.
Categories: Politics

Adobe/Macromedia Contribute ain’t all that

February 8, 2007 Comments off

Macromedia “Contribute” is supposed to be the way for non-technical people to put content on the ‘Net: 

Adobe® Contribute® 4 enables anyone to quickly, easily, and safely update existing websites and blogs. With Contribute 4, content authors can post and publish content to multiple websites and blogs from a single application…

Wow!  Sounds great!  But after getting some feedback from users, well, not so much.  Clearly the Macromedia people need to work on that whole “intuitive” thing, to say nothing of the “working the way it is advertised to” thing. 

Categories: Geeky, Software

Left-slanted press reporting on Bush’s eyeware

February 7, 2007 12 comments

Recently our decider-in-chief visited the nearby community of Peoria to pay his respects to the Caterpillar plant there.  During his visit, he got to drive a Caterpillar D-10, which if you have never seen one, is a thoroughly awesome machine.  On the evening news, we saw pictures of him giving a thumbs-up from the cab, but no footage the machine actually in motion with the president in charge.  I wondered why, since that would be pretty neat footage.

The local TV station filming the event may not have exactly been thinking about getting good footage at the time:

Does President Bush have it in for the press corps? Touring a Caterpillar factory in Peoria, Ill., the Commander in Chief got behind the wheel of a giant tractor and played chicken with a few wayward reporters. Wearing a pair of stylish safety glasses—at least more stylish than most safety glasses—Bush got a mini-tour of the factory before delivering remarks on the economy. “I would suggest moving back,” Bush said as he climbed into the cab of a massive D-10 tractor. “I’m about to crank this sucker up.”

As the engine roared to life, White House staffers tried to steer the press corps to safety, but when the tractor lurched forward, they too were forced to scramble for safety.“Get out of the way!” a news photographer yelled. “I think he might run us over!” said another. White House aides tried to herd the reporters the right way without getting run over themselves. Even the Secret Service got involved, as one agent began yelling at reporters to get clear of the tractor.

Watching the chaos below, Bush looked out the tractor’s window and laughed, steering the massive machine into the spot where most of the press corps had been positioned. The episode lasted about a minute, and Bush was still laughing when he pulled to a stop. He gave reporters a thumbs-up. “If you’ve never driven a D-10, it’s the coolest experience,” Bush said afterward.

Yeah, almost as much fun as seeing your life flash before your eyes.
Newsweek Blogs, Holly Bailey: I Have Had My Differences With Members of the Press. But it’s Nothing That Burying them Under Tons of Earth Won’t Solve”

That’s just like the liberal press!  “stylish safety glasses—at least more stylish than most safety glasses” indeed!  Have you been to Farm And Fleet lately, miss prissy journalist?  I bet not.  Safety glasses come in some pretty cool styles now.  Most of them even have UV protection, so there.

By the way, I got to drive a D-3 once, and it was a cool experience.  I can only imagine what it would be like to drive a D-10.  Way to go, Mister President!

Categories: Politics

Steve Jobs has an attack of common sense

February 6, 2007 6 comments

You know the problem: you download music, it has “protection” on it.  Move it from one machine to another the wrong way, or lose the wrong hard drive from your backup copies, and BZZT!!! there goes your encryption key.  Sorry, chump.  You had a thousand bucks worth of music, that took you forever to collect.  Now it’s gone.

And it’s all so unnecessary.  The encryption won’t stop piracy; it will only alienate legitimate customers.  Besides, copying and trading has always boosted sales in the long run.  And now Steve Jobs agrees with me.

Huh.  ‘Bout time he came around.  Why don’t these mega-rich super-geniuses ask me in the first place?  I coulda’ told ‘em.  :P

Update:  Here’s Jobs’ actual essay – he does a good ‘job’ of exploring the whole topic from several angles.  An excerpt:

…Why would the big four music companies agree to let Apple and others distribute their music without using DRM systems to protect it? The simplest answer is because DRMs haven’t worked, and may never work, to halt music piracy….


Categories: business

The right not to be offended

February 6, 2007 3 comments

The French magazine Charlie Hebdo printed cartoons insulting to Islam.  You know, the Danish cartoons from a year ago, those cartoons; and the Union of French Islamic Organisations and the Paris Grand Mosque is suing

It was “born out of a simplistic Islamophobia as well as purely commercial interests”, says the UFIOaPGM.

OK protesters and lawsuit filers, once more, real slow… you say mean things about Christianity and Judaism all the time.  And we don’t much like it, but in a free society, we let you say those things all you want.  The bargain is this: in return we get to say anything we want about your religion, for any reason whatsoever.  It’s up to you to make your religion respectable.  Demanding respect (often under threat of legal action or even violence) doesn’t work.  You can only get fear that way, not respect. 

Or is fear all you were after?  Sometimes looks that way. 

Categories: Religion

Super Bowl Commercials ‘07

February 5, 2007 2 comments

For those who couldn’t suffer through the Super Bowl to see the Super Bowl Commercials, Here they are.  My favorites were:

  • Coke: “Videogame” – matches my natural optimism

  • Coke: “Happiness Factory” – just fun
  • Bud Light: “Reception” – the way I feel about weddings generally, even though I don’t drink beer
  • The Snickers ad with the two guys working on the car – funny take on two homophobic rednecks
  • Bud Light: “But he has Bud Light!” – horror movie spoof
  • Bud Light: “Dalmation Spot Wink” – Awwwww!
  • GM: “Obsessed with quality” – funny, but GM wouldn’t know quality if it bit them on the ass
  • Emerald Nuts “BoogeyMan” – I have always suspected this is true
  • Snapple: “Green tea big game day” – Doh!
  • …and of course, GoDaddy: “Marketing” – no wonder they’re the best domain registrar.  I have all my domains with them and their service is fantastic.

What were your favorites?

Categories: Advertising, business

Glad to see this - UPDATE

February 4, 2007 3 comments

Not only is it cold, it’s really windy, so the ground should freeze pretty hard.  Should help cut down on migration of Southern agricultural pests.  But I can remember when this kind of thing was every year instead of something you hope will happen.

UPDATE: even colder today 05 February

The foam padding on my bicycle seat turns to something resembling oak or hickory at this temperature, which my bony butt did little to reshape.  And it made MrsDoF’s morning quite interesting too. 

Whitman and Zeke

February 3, 2007 Comments off

So just now I finished reading Susan Jacoby’s Freethinkers, a history of American secularism, which ends with Robert Ingersoll’s eulogy for Walt Whitman.  After a minute I opened my computer to check my blogroll only to discover that Zeke, science & nature writer Chris Clarke’s beloved dog known to all his readers, has died

And though I have only met Zeke through Chris’ photos and writing,  the eulogy seemed to fit, for he seemed like Whitman in his exultation of life. 

What a strange juxtaposition of moments.

So sorry, Chris.

I’ll tumble the book around inside my head for a week or so and then review it.

Categories: observations