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Standing orders regarding prisoners of war:
"Treat them with humanity, and let them have no reason to complain of our copying the brutal example of the British Army in their treatment of our unfortunate brethren who have fallen into their hands... Should any American soldier be so base and infamous as to injure any [prisoner]... I do most earnestly enjoin you to bring him to such severe and exemplary punishment as the enormity of the crime may require. Should it extend to death itself, it will not be disproportional to its guilt at such a time and in such a cause... for by such conduct they bring shame, disgrace and ruin to themselves and their country."
 - General George Washington, September 14, 1775

Very cool picture of one of Santa Claus' many cousins.

19 great movies you probably didn't see: the unknown best of 2007.

Charlie Wilson's War -- a must see.

My new favorite web site: The Daily Galaxy.

Absolute Zero is really cold. But how hot can it get? I mean, what's the highest temperature that anything in the universe can be?
If you drink green tea specifically for the health benefits, then you should be adding some lemon juice.

Double any vehicle's mileage AND horsepower, and cut the emissions in half. “Detroit could do all this stuff overnight if it wanted to.”

And again, it's about bleedin' time: the SmartCar finally comes to the USA.

Archaeologists and paleobiologists love to argue about this stuff: homo sapiens may not have killed off the woolly mammoth. The new suspect: trees.

And here's the top ten archaeological discoveries of 2007.

I finally rented "Pirates of the Caribbean 3."  Great fun. (Arrr.)

The king and his men stole the queen from her bed and bound her in her Bones.
The seas be ours and by the powers where we will we'll roam.

Yo, ho, haul together, hoist the Colors high.
Heave ho, thieves and beggars, never shall we die.

Some men have died and some are alive and others sail on the sea
with the keys to the cage -- and the Devil to pay -- we lay to Fiddler's Green!

Yo, ho, haul together, hoist the Colors high.
Heave ho, thieves and beggars, never shall we die.

The bell has been raised from it's watery grave: do you hear it's sepulchral tone?
With a call to all, pay heed the squall and turn your sail toward home!

Yo, ho, haul together, hoist the Colors high.
Heave ho, thieves and beggars, never shall we die.

Microsoft's really hidden files. On your computer.

If you are in the Witness Protection Program, the British Government just lost some CDs containing your new identities and locations. 350 people now in a cold sweat.

Monday, November 26, 2007
And the moment you've all been waiting for (drum roll, please) ... Dave Barry's 2007 Christmas Gift Buying Guide, "a collection of gift concepts so unusual, so distinctive, that you will say: You made those up, right?"

What the map of North America might have looked like if things had been only a little different.

The lost Ark, and where it's been for the last 3,000 years.

Some guy in the Alps dug -- and built -- an underground temple that will blow your socks off.

People who have won damages as a result of personal injury have found that those jury awards now get confiscated by their own insurance company, or by the head office of their employer. Are you surprised that Walmart started this trend?

How TSA guards treat you at the airport today:
Next, she takes my two breasts, one in each hand, and weighs them carefully, like a shopper trying to choose the right mangoes."Balanced," she mutters. "Nice balance." 

A grotesque miscarriage of justice by crusading prosecutors: wheelchair-bound man pardoned after four years in prison. His crime? Self treatment for extreme chronic pain from MS, injuries and botched surgery. His experience? All the inmates treated him politely and with respect. Vicious, sadistic guards brutalized him for their own satisfaction. Bonus: Prison officials gave him more drugs in higher dosages than what they prosecuted him for.

I want this car.

Your DNA, completely decoded for $1k.

Headline: Migraine brains are "different." (Well, duh.)

This is a great site: TED talks. Very smart people get together once a year and give talks on what they've learned lately. You can watch. And just as great, with monthly contributions: EDGE.org.

How much -- total, mind you --  did that cheeseburger cost in terms of global carbon pollution?

Edison started it with the incandescent bulb; handy, but wasteful at only 5% efficiency. Compact fluorescents are much better, at 15% efficiency. LEDs are better still, at over 30%. These new bulbs are better yet: over 50% efficient.

If you think taxes are expensive, here's a quick cost breakdown of what it would cost you if the Republicans manage to actually "Privatize" everything. Hold on to your wallet.

Monday, November 19, 2007
According to this website, I'm hopelessly right-brained.

Live in a yurt.

Feel bad about yourself? Go buy something, and bingo: you'll feel worse.

Feel hungry? Go eat some fast food, and bingo: get heart disease from trans fats.

living under 24 hour surveillance from your boss.

Laws protecting you from hiring discrimination: how corporate interviewers beat them.

Siberia, June 30, 1908: the Tunguska event. A crater has never been found -- until now.

65,000,000 years ago, an asteroid struck Earth. But it may not have caused the extinction of the dinosaurs.

Modern Civil War reenactors make a stunning showing.

Using a bathroom in a foreign country can be truly weird.

Monday, November 12, 2007          
If you haven't done so yet, go rent Ratatouille. And then go buy some nice French cheeses. And some Italian cheeses.

Casualties of the NFL: "They put their bodies on the line every Sunday to stage the most brutal, ravishing, and profitable pageant in sports. But in a scandal of staggering proportions, they play hurt, sustain severe physical and mental damage, and are denied help when they need it most." -- Paul Solotaroff  

Norway has some cool electric cars.

Neanderthals had fair skin and red hair. No word on freckles, though.

The fear monger's trump card -- the fabled "Suitcase Nuke" -- probably doesn't exist.

In the 90s, public hysteria over non-existent "Satanic Cults" was at a peak. Three teenagers who liked heavy-metal rock music were convicted of a brutal triple slaying after a trial filled with hysteria and pseudo-science railroaded them. New DNA evidence exonerates them, but the Arkansas attorney-general's office says "This process will likely take months, and possibly years."

Monday, November 5, 2007
  • How to fight back -- and win -- when a business shafts you.
  • Six-door hybrid Prius Limo.
  • Some people can be sooooooo dumb... in this case, about Daylight Savings Time.
  • Shy? Take a pill.
  • That whole "Dark Matter" thing might not actually, er, exist.
  • Natural disasters can be survived in safety (and luxury) -- if you're filthy rich.
  • Now this is a private airplane.
  • Enormous spheres through history.
  • This guy modifies car engines to get fantastic mileage, power and low emissions.
  • A journalist who covers serial killers started to get a really bad feeling about her boyfriend... 
  • Canada's unemployment rate is at 5.8 per cent - the best in 33 years - and the Canadian dollar is at a record high at $1.07 US. And just to help out, the Bank of Canada may cut interest rates by a quarter point. So that's what a healthy economy looks like, eh?

Wednesday, October 31, 2007
Happy Halloween, everyone. Amazing Jack-O'Lanterns, here and here.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007
You thought I was kidding about the zombies.

Monday, October 29, 2007
Get ready for Halloween: it's zombie time.

A simple blood test can identify markers for Alzheimer's.

The online poker site called Absolute Poker has been caught rigging the games.

Instead of buying a supercomputer to run your astrophysics data, just go buy eight Sony Playstation 3 units and hook them together.
If your flight was delayed and they give you the runaround, go check the cargo website. You may find out what actually happened and have some leverage for getting compensation.

The difference between Man and the animals is that Man has found the One True Religion (TM). And you get your choice from over 2,850 of them. Of course, once you choose, the remaining 2,849 of them will now condemn you forever, but so it goes.

A magnificent rant from an atheist who's angry -- for good reason.
You may be able to live for 400 years and stay young the entire time.

Hardee's is trying to make you obese. On the other hand, that breakfast burrito looks really good...

The Cannonball Run record has been broken. Irresponsible and illegal... but impressive.

Some recent research on Vitamin C and cancer.

The $42 Billion boondoggle; America's War on Pot.

The world's greatest wine counterfeiter.

No, chewing gum won't last seven years in your intestines. But swallowing it all the time is bad. Really bad.

The "Green Score" of a car isn't just the gas mileage. When you factor in the environmental cost of manufacture and disposal, the results may surprise you. (The fact that you can't buy most of the green cars in the USA won't surprise you at all.)
12 Greenest cars:
Smart Roadster (no longer produced)
Smart Fortwo cabriolet
Citroen C1 1.0i (not sold in the US)
Peugeot 107 1.0 (not sold in the US)
Citroen C1 1.4 HDi (not sold in the US)
Fiat Panda 1.2 (not sold in the US)
Ford Ka 1.3 (not sold in the US)
Toyota Yaris 1.0
Fiat Panda 100hp (not sold in the US)
10 Peugeot 206 1.4 (not sold in the US)
11 Mini Cooper D
12 Toyota Prius 1.5

15 handy websites.

Rewire your brain to relieve depression. With real wires.

And you thought watching television was bad for your brain.

Step one: the police confiscate all of your money.
Step two: you are required to prove to the police that your money was "not obtained illegally."
Update: The DEA gave the money back. Of course, the guy had to sue them first -- thank God for the ACLU.
Some great quotes made by intellectual rebels.

Remember that really close call you had on the highway? Somewhere in a parallel universe, you weren't so lucky.

Before buying a new gadget that was just introduced, hold off for a cheaper price.
  • Computers: a year or more.
  • Digital Cameras: one year.
  • High-Definition Video: not until the battle between HD-DVD and Blu-ray is settled.
  • Software: one month.
  • Televisions: one year.

The return of the Indian Motorcycle.

A world map 250,000,000 years from now. Walk from Seattle to Seoul. (link and date fixed)

Frodo lived.

America's most dangerous jobs.

Monday, September 10, 2007
We now have a name for the new Indiana Jones movie: "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull." Cool. Somehow I missed the great news that Karen Allen will be reprising her role as Marion Ravenwood, the one gal who had the moxie to simply haul off and slug Indy in the jaw. (He had it coming.)

Eleven neuroscientists explain why an older brain can work just as well as a younger one.

Very cool spherical wood treehouses.

If you have an older version of Microsoft Office (or any part thereof, like Word) then you will want to install the Microsoft Office Compatibility Pack for Word, Excel, and PowerPoint 2007 File Formats. It includes, by the way, the new Microsoft fonts that come with Vista (Calibri, Cambria, Candara, Consolas, Constantia and Corbel.)

An online test for "autistic traits." Interesting.

Stuck for five hours on the tarmac, Continental passengers got upset. So the airline called the cops. The cops let the passengers go, thank goodness.

Arctic ice is at a record low. The good news is that we finally have a Northwest Passage. (Which happens to be the title of one of the greatest songs written in the last hundred years.)

Diebold changes its name, but not before hacking Wikipedia to whitewash their image.

I love these cheap "hacks," where you get a finished product like the $100 + retail version for a fraction of the cost, as long as you have some tinkering ability. Here's a really cool high-power flashlight.

The great Ivy League Nude Photo scandal. True, and weird.

Great free fonts and wallpaper.

There's a big blank place in the universe. A whole lotta nothing. Sort of like Wyoming, only bigger.

The White House Cookbook, 1887. Totally cool, and all online for free.

"Glamorous Camping." You won't believe it until you read it. It's just wrong. And, it's $600 a night. 

Tuesday, August 7, 2007
For when "You dooty-head!" simply won't do: a better class of insult.

The Ghost Chili, from Assam, India. Over 1,000,000 Scoville Units of mouth-burning heat.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007
Harry Potter madness.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007
Could you hit a major-league fastball? Probably not. Reason #1: you need really fast reflexes. This website tests them. What fun. (Give me a call, and we'll swap "best reaction time" lies.)

Guys: reason #86 why you're not getting any sweet loving: you "organize your socks". Which begs the question: Would you rather have a neat closet, or a night of wild passion? Are you a wolf in the sack or a packrat in the garage?

Reason #2,756,248 why "Life is hard, but life is harder when you're dumb."

Why Walmart is evil, reason #2,637: they sell sandals that can cause severe chemical burns to your feet, or maybe they're radioactive or something, but Geeze Louise this looks bad.

What may be killing honeybees, scientific wild-ass guess #73: an Asian parasite (nosema ceranae.)

Reason #14 to buy a Harley Davidson: "My kids are grown and gone, I’m a grandma now, and it’s time for me."

Thursday, July 19, 2007
The missing 13th amendment to the US constitution. True. And weird.

The US Postal Service has started charging for the (formerly) free boxes and envelopes that they have at the post office. But you can order them online for free.

Taking a peak at the universe before the Big Bang.

The answer to life, the universe, and everything is: 42. The answer to being a sexy babe is: 70%.

How to make yourself a $15 Mont Blanc pen. Really.

Fox versus golden eagle. Eagle wins.

Sinkhole versus house. Sinkhole wins.

Monday, July 9, 2007 Archeology update: 
"Neuropeptide Y" could be the real deal for losing fat.

The current USA citizenship test.
Here's an amazing collection of vintage 50s cars being used in the filming of the new Indiana Jones movie.

The former head of the Chinese FDA has been executed. That'll show 'em.

The Pope takes a giant leap backwards in human consciousness and declares that Catholicism is the only "TRUE FAITH." Southern Baptists, Muslim Jihadists and Scientologists all declare Fatwahs against the Pope.

70-year old grandma learns her lesson about today's police: "You've got to do what they tell you or they will hurt you." Her crime; not watering her lawn. Because she couldn't afford the high water bills.

Sunday, July 1, 2007 Science updates:

The Ten Commandments of the Road.

Yet another article on the Steampunk phenomenon; filling in the missing craftsmanship in today's mass-produced devices.

The Prime Minister of Kyrgyzstan got poisoned.

Because of one charge of marijuana possession, this quadriplegic died in jail.

The CIA's favorite form of torture: sensory deprivation.

Puddles of open water spotted on Mars?

What a family eats in a week, across the world.

A very interesting tale of encounters with a grizzly bear; great photos, too.

What regional "American Accent" do you have?

A house with no heating or cooling energy bills.

I don't know why "SteamPunk" mods thrill me so. But they do. Here's some shots of a SteamPunk modified computer, keyboard, monitor, mouse and laptop. BoingBoing has lots of fun SteamPunk links.

Tuesday, May 29, 2006
If you suffer from asthma, drink apple juice. It can help.

But stop drinking soda pop -- especially if it contains sodium benzoate.

An 11-year-old kid in Alabama shot a wild hog that tops 1,000 pounds.

A real-life Hobbit House.

100 words some dictionary editors think you should know:
Abjure, abrogate, abstemious,  acumen, antebellum, auspicious, belie, bellicose, bowdlerize, chicanery, chromosome, churlish, circumlocution, circumnavigate, deciduous, deleterious, diffident, enervate, enfranchise, epiphany, equinox, euro, evanescent, expurgate, facetious, fatuous, feckless, fiduciary, filibuster, gamete, gauche, gerrymander, hegemony, hemoglobin, homogeneous, hubris, hypotenuse, impeach, incognito, incontrovertible, inculcate, infrastructure, interpolate, irony, jejune, kinetic, kowtow, laissez faire, lexicon, loquacious, lugubrious, metamorphosis, mitosis, moiety, nanotechnology, nihilism, nomenclature, nonsectarian, notarize, obsequious, oligarchy, omnipotent, orthography, oxidize, parabola, paradigm, parameter, pecuniary, photosynthesis, plagiarize, plasma, polymer, precipitous, quasar, quotidian, recapitulate, reciprocal, reparation, respiration,  sanguine, soliloquy, subjugate, suffragist, supercilious, tautology, taxonomy, tectonic, tempestuous, thermodynamics, totalitarian, unctuous, usurp, vacuous, vehement, vortex, winnow, wrought, xenophobe, yeoman, ziggurat. [look it up]

How bad has reality TV gotten?
  • A dying woman chooses the recipient of her kidneys.
  • Six guys find out they've been dating a transsexual.
  • Two guys fake being gay.
  • Ten guys castaway with forty lapdancers -- but "no touching."
  • Three people scammed into believing they've gone to a space station.
  • Graphic, live birth on camera.
  • Send a contestant to Space Station Mir... oops. Never mind.
  • Adopted people try to pick their real parents out of a lineup.
  • Wannabe moms get picky over potential sperm donors.

The singularity: why everything we know may become obsolete -- and how soon it may happen.

Drinking greet tea is fine. Taking "green tea supplements" can cause you some bad problems.

Hemp milk. Cool stuff; 8 oz = 46% daily calcium requirement. And it tastes good, they say.

The Farm Bill:

Processed foods are more "energy dense" than fresh foods: they contain less water and fiber but more added fat and sugar, which makes them both less filling and more fattening. These particular calories also happen to be the least healthful ones in the marketplace, which is why we call the foods that contain them "junk." Drewnowski concluded that the rules of the food game in America are organized in such a way that if you are eating on a budget, the most rational economic strategy is to eat badly — and get fat . . . For the answer, you need look no farther than the farm bill. This resolutely unglamorous and head-hurtingly complicated piece of legislation . . . sets the rules for the American food system — indeed, to a considerable extent, for the world’s food system...

For the last several decades — indeed, for about as long as the American waistline has been ballooning — U.S. agricultural policy has been designed in such a way as to promote the overproduction of these five commodities, especially corn and soy . . . The result? A food system awash in added sugars (derived from corn) and added fats (derived mainly from soy), as well as dirt-cheap meat and milk (derived from both). By comparison, the farm bill does almost nothing to support farmers growing fresh produce. A result of these policy choices is on stark display in your supermarket, where the real price of fruits and vegetables between 1985 and 2000 increased by nearly 40 percent while the real price of soft drinks (a k a liquid corn) declined by 23 percent. The reason the least healthful calories in the supermarket are the cheapest is that those are the ones the farm bill encourages farmers to grow.

Can't remember something? Scan your eyes back and forth.

The Ninth Amendment, and why it's important.

Thursday, April 26, 2007
Your Government at work: marijuana shrinks -- and sometimes even cures -- deadly brain tumors.
  • 20%: complete cure
  • 60%: substantial improvement and longer lifespan
  • 20%: no effect
The US government has known this since 1974. And they've done everything they can to keep it secret.

The next time you appear before a judge, you'd better brush up on your bible verses.

(Reuters) - Pet food tainted with the chemical melamine was found in feed rations on a California hog farm and may show up on other U.S. farms, state and federal officials said on Friday.

U.S. candy manufacturers want to water down the "official" definition of chocolate, so they can sell you trash without having to warn you on the label. Now were talking a real national crisis...

Brush up on your military hand signals.

Now that you've had a good laugh, look up the real military hand signals.

A vaccine for treating brain tumors.

Just to prove they can do it, the US Government has completely broken a US citizen -- a man never charged with a crime.

"... he appears to have lost his mind. I don't mean this metaphorically. I mean that his mind is no longer there. The forensic psychiatrist who examined him says that he 'does not appreciate the nature and consequences of the proceedings against him, is unable to render assistance to counsel, and has impairments in reasoning as the result of a mental illness, ie, post-traumatic stress disorder, complicated by the neuropsychiatric effects of prolonged isolation.' José Padilla appears to have been lobotomized..."

Wednesday, April 11, 2007
The Student Loan scandal: college administrations have been in bed with dodgy lenders. And the students have been paying for it -- through the nose.

During the WTO meetings in Seattle (1999) the police used draconian torture tactics against peaceful protesters. College kids who were handcuffed had their eyelids pulled back by police officers who then proceeded to wipe q-tips soaked in pepper-oil across their exposed eyeballs. (This has since become a favored tactic used by police to punish peaceful protesters.) Finally, the city of Seattle will have to cough up $1 million to pay damages.

The death toll from contaminated pet food: "a guess." (Somewhere between 1,000 and 3,600 pets?)   
Fantastic photos from another world: Antarctica.

Monday, April 9, 2007
long-term goal of Christians in politics should be to gain exclusive control over the franchise. Those who refuse to submit publicly... must be denied citizenship.” -- Gary North, Political Polytheism: The Myth of Pluralism (1989).
The top 500 free fonts on the web. (They just got DIGGED, so you may need to try again later.) 

Kiss another glacier goodbye.

DNA sequencing continues to rewrite history: mammals may not have emerged 55 million years ago as we thought, but instead as long as 100 million years ago. A massive "methane burp" from the ocean floor may have caused a rapid and massive spike in global temperatures, causing the largest critters to overheat and die off. Please note that scientists today are deeply concerned that even a very small rise in global ocean temperatures today could cause another massive "methane burp." A rise of 5° C could do it.

The Derbyshire Fairy, the mummified remains of a wee winged tiny person. A very artistic hoax.  

This article -- about Tuberculosis -- is titled "Forgotten but not gone." Maybe some people have forgotten, but if you got a good education, you already know that Tuberculosis could easily come back and stalk the land. Cases have doubled worldwide since 1980. That some pathogen will break the fragile walls medicine built and ravage the globe with deadly disease is not a matter of "if," but rather "when." It's inevitable.

If it weren't for whistleblowers, we'd never learn about some really slimy stuff.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007
How a piano player and her husband scammed the entire classical music world for over 15 years, by ripping off recordings of young, unknown virtuosos. 

Every single citizen in the USA needs to read this article on how police interrogation works.

One of the huge difficulties in producing accurate global warming models is the complexity. Every climatologist knows that climate changes aren't a matter of simplistic linear formulas: they are cumulative, and synergistic. Climate changes can -- and do -- trigger "cascade effects." One such effect may already be in play because of decreased Arctic Sea ice cover.

Monday, March 19, 2007
There's a new military rifle out there. It's described as being far better than the current issue M16 and
M4 (which is basically a shortened M16) but our "support the troops" administration won't pay for it. Many, many soldiers have had their M16s jam in battle. It is a fundamentally flawed weapon that should never have been issued to men going into harm's way.

Sunday, March 18, 2007
I hope you all had a fine Saint Paddy's Day yesterday, and that today you feel better for it, rather than worse.

It's always hard to recognize when a "little news item" could turn out to be big. This is huge. Trust me on this one. It's not political, it's not "relevant" to anyone's lifestyle, but it's huge.

Take a sleeping pill. Go for a drive. In your sleep.

A Witch Hunt in America. Not a "witch hunt," used as a figure of speech, but an actual idiotic Elementary School Principal persecuting, harassing and firing an actual teacher, because said idiotic Principal thinks the teacher is a Witch.

Learning about early human history from "our little friends:" what the humble louse can teach us.

The "me" generation grows up, and orders custom homes with his-and-hers master bedrooms.

Apparently the Russians are, like, just poisoning people at random now.

Wednesday, February 28, 2007 Eating out in America: the supersizing continues.

"The Lost Tomb of Christ" (Discovery Channel, 3/4/07) claims to have found the bones of Jesus.
The people you would expect to totally wig out are now doing so.

"Secret" food items not on the menu at franchise food places: how to buy something that's even more unhealthy and fattening.

In the world of techo-fashion, most trends leave me indifferent. But SteamPunk just thrills me. I'd love to have this computer and this keyboard. Nobody sells this -- you have to make it yourself. Which I wouldn't mind doing, except that if I had SteamPunked my first computer, it would have been rendered obsolete and completely useless two years later, and that was nearly twenty years (and six computers) ago. It's annoying enough to spend two or three days setting up a new machine, and many hours more to add RAM or replace a dead drive. But to spend the better part of a week making a work of art -- and then not being able to use it at all this time next year -- well, that's why I just drool over the pictures instead of making the stuff.

Thursday, February 22, 2007 The wit and wisdom of Homer: 50 great quotes. (Homer Simpson, that is.)

Cocoa makes you smarter.

Tissue regeneration is finally available to humans -- to a point. But it's a start, and a very big deal.

Sunday, February 18, 2007
It's a high-gravity Sunday afternoon here. Can't think of anything more appropriate than a totally decadent, "stay-at-home and enjoy life" recipe.

Just about everybody likes Bailey's Irish Cream. And it's expensive. However, you can make an excellent Irish Cream at home -- not just "an acceptable substitute," but a first-rate version, something even better than Bailey's.

When I first started working on this recipe, I checked the internet, where I found a pile of recipes -- and they were terrible. Let this be a lesson to us all; Internet recipes in general are terrible. Most of the time someone made up the recipe on the spot and it was never even tested. Much of the time, there are fatal errors in the recipe that will make it an utter failure; I have seen cake recipes with no leaving, and cake recipes that direct you to "beat the batter at high speed for 6 minutes" which gives you a cake with a texture like a plastic sponge toughened with epoxy.

So I started over with an reanalysis of the Baily's stuff in the original bottle. My finished "Irish Cream" liqueur is 17% alcohol, identical in strength to Bailey's.

Once I adjusted proportions to duplicate the correct amount of alcohol, the recipe started to fall into place. The taste was great, but very thick -- almost clotted -- when I used "heavy cream." Using "whipping cream" was a little better, "table (or light) cream" better yet. "Half & half" was good for the thickness and texture, but not as lush and intense as "table cream," and the milk flavor was too dominant. Table Cream gives a good balance of medium body, a sweet cream flavor with a hint of dairy milk freshness, and a lush, rich intensity and mouth feel.

FYI: federal standards for butterfat content of dairy products are below. (US producers habitually fix the butterfat content to the minimum requirement, so that they can reserve the remainder to manufacture butter.)
  • skim milk contains 0.1%
  • lowfat milk contains between 0.5-2% fat (as marked)
  • whole milk contains 3.25% fat
  • half and half contains 10.5 fat
  • light (or "table") cream contains 18% fat
  • whipping cream contains 30% fat
  • heavy cream contains 36% fat
Some premium Euro-style products have higher butterfat percentages, and will be labeled accordingly.
No matter which cream or mixture I used, the solution would separate out in the fridge. Adding a single raw egg yolk as an emulsifier fixed the separation problem, and it also added a slightly creamier texture without being overly thick. While it's true that raw egg yolks are considered to be "risky" these days, I add the egg yolk directly to the booze and sugar mixture before any cream is added, and this effectively sterilizes the egg -- in fact, the whole mixture is probably sterile.

The factor that affects the final result the most is probably the quality of the whiskey. I use either Irish Whiskey or Scotch. A good whiskey will give you an Irish Cream of great refinement and delicacy, with no "off" flavors. I don't know that I'd pop for a $60 bottle of single-malt Scotch, but if you spend somewhere in the $15 - $25 range for a fifth of something decent, you'll be glad. (I'm partial to the version made with Scotch, myself.)

(I suppose Rye or Bourbon will also work, as would Brandy, although the flavors will be strong enough to make this into something entirely Un-Irish.)

Extra flavorings are a matter of preference; Bailey's has a fairly subtle mix of cocoa, coffee and vanilla added. If you are using a premium whiskey, you may want to avoid flavor additions so that you can fully enjoy the quality of the whiskey. If you insist on buying cheap whiskey, then I suggest you use flavorings with reckless abandon.

The Basic "Irish (or Scottish) Cream" recipe.
(Makes about a quart.)

Mix in Blender until completely dissolved:
  • 13 ounces whiskey
  • 1 & 1/8 cup C&H Brown sugar
  • 1 egg yolk
You may add (and mix in the blender)
the following flavors (to duplicate Bailey's):

  • ½ teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon instant coffee powder
  • 2 teaspoons cocoa powder
Add and stir (or shake):
  • 2 cups "table (or light) cream"

Saturday, February 17, 2007
Genetically Modified potatoes = cancer?

Ewa Wisnierska, 35, was para gliding when she got sucked into a storm cell. Somewhere around 30,000 feet, she lost consciousness, was badly frostbitten and battered by 6" hailstones, coated in ice... and she survived.

The difference between science and religion, in one simple diagram.

A cool picture of lightning.

When you are in Airplane Hell, how do you escape? But that's the whole point of Airplane Hell: you can't escape.
Thursday, February 15, 2007
Salmonella outbreak -- in peanut butter?

It's possible that a way to make an AIDS vaccine has been discovered.

Vacation in Australia; what a way to go.

Is HAVIDOL® for you?
Problems can be avoided if you take HAVIDOL only when you are able to immediately benefit from its effects. To fully benefit from HAVIDOL patients are encouraged to engage in activities requiring exceptional mental, motor, and consumptive coordination. HAVIDOL is not for you if you have abruptly stopped using alcohol or sedatives. Havidol should be taken indefinitely. Side effects may include mood changes, muscle strain, extraordinary thinking, dermal gloss, impulsivity induced consumption, excessive salivation, hair growth, markedly delayed sexual climax, inter-species communication, taste perversion, terminal smile, and oral inflammation. Very rarely users may experience a need to change physicians. Talk to your doctor about HAVIDOL

Someday, we'll be using Quantum computers. And they'll be remarkable.

Cost of a 30-second TV ad Superbowl 1967: $37,500.
Cost of a 30-second TV ad Superbowl 1987: $600,000.
Cost of a 30-second TV ad Superbowl 2007: $2,600,000.

Diamonds are no longer the "stiffest" substance known.

Thursday, February 1, 2007
Dichloroacetate, aka DCA. It just might be a broad-spectrum cancer cure. Not patentable, though, so none of the big companies are bothering to do research.

This is what governments are supposed to do, folks: fund the stuff that helps out the people
even when it's not something that would generate massive profits for the Holy Sanctified So-Called "Free Market."

The Wild Kingdom. In your eyelashes.

Sunday, January 28, 2007
British Airways is not the cheapest airline to fly, but there are good reasons to avoid going with the lowest bidder; when things go wrong, it's nice to have the "best of the best" working to keep you alive. On June 14, 1982, BA009 went horribly wrong.
Captain Eric Moodyand his crew pulled her through in one piece.

Really cool pictures of arctic ice upthrust.

Interesting essay by a high school librarian:

Typically, many people in my line of work no longer have the title of librarian. They are called media and information specialists, or sometimes librarian technologists. The buzzword in the trade is "information literacy," a misnomer, because what it is really about is mastering computer skills, not promoting a love of reading and books. These days, librarians measure the quality of returns in data-mining stints. We teach students how to maximize a database search, about successful retrieval rates. What usually gets lost in the scramble is a careful reading of the material.

Students are still checking out the standard research fare -- the Thomas Jefferson biography, the volume of literary criticism on Jane Austen -- but few read it. The library checks the books back in a day later, after the students have extracted the information vitals -- usually an excerpt or two to satisfy the requirement that a certain number of works be cited in their papers...

I recently spoke with a junior who was stressed about her decreasing ability to focus on anything for longer than two minutes or so. I tried to inspire her by talking about the importance of reading as a way to train the brain. I told her that a good reader develops the same powers of concentration that an athlete or a Buddhist would employ in sport or meditation. "A lot out there is conspiring to distract you," I said.

She rolled her eyes. "That's your opinion about books. It doesn't make it true."

Monday, January 22, 2007
Eco-foods, the good news: coffee.
Eco-foods, the bad (and I mean appalling) news: pigs.

Who murdered the Mayor of Fago, Spain? Round up the usual suspects: the whole town.

The latest fashion for men: "leggings." Or, actually, "tights." Like that will ever happen.

Been online gambling? Don't surprised if the FBI knocks on your door. Banks have already gotten subpoenas.

Instead of a "Second Life," go get yourself a First Life -- the amazing new reality that isn't digital.

It's heck being a cartographer: the melting ice around Greenland has uncovered many "new" islands. Not to worry: the rising sea levels will just cover them right back up again.

Have sex in Michigan with someone not your legal spouse, go to prison for life. Really. (Adultery in Michigan is now "criminal sexual conduct in the first degree.") How did this happen? In a recent case, someone traded sex for drugs. But, instead of simply prosecuting the people involved for the drug offense, the State decided to additionally criminalize the sex. Because the sex was for drugs. (Drugs for sex, on the other hand -- like Viagra -- are just fine.)

Chew gum laced with pancreatic polypeptide, lose weight. We hope.

Sunday, January 14, 2007
Ignorance is deadly: a woman died from water intoxication after participating in an FM radio station's "Hold your Wee for a Wii" contest. She was 28 years old and the mother of three. Her death was the direct result of a piss-poor education on the part of everyone involved.

Friday, January 12, 2007
After seven phone calls, lasting up to an hour each, a diligent, persistent and seriously focused customer was able to cancel his contract with Cingular -- without getting hammered by an "early termination" fee of several hundred dollars. He did it using Cingular's own contract, a knowledge of the law, and the ability to burn lots of time on the phone.

(Thank God for hands-free headsets. It least you can cook up a batch of polenta, wash and wax your car, clean out the garage, build a deck, mow the lawn, repaint the bathroom and hand-knit a king-sized afghan while you're exercising your legal rights with Cingular.) Anyway, check out how he did it. You may want to bail on Cingular, and furthermore, the legal right to bail on other punitive contracts may be lurking in this story.

If you just got a new computer -- especially a Dell -- it has probably been loaded up with "crapware" from the factory. It annoys the heck out of everyone, and it's a huge hassle to uninstall all of it. But now there's a single program that gives you the option to easily dump whatever crapware you wish. It was designed for Dells, but it can work on any PC / Windows machine.

Oddball quirky. Go change your passwords.  All of them. (I just did.) Because they are probably really lame. (Mine were.) Example: is your password something that can be found in an unabridged dictionary or encyclopedia, with or without any date from 1900 to 2007? All of those can be cracked on your account in the first minute.

Good writing. What being in the local search and rescue team teaches you about military folly.

A substitute teacher visited a hairstyling website on the classroom computer. The website installed malicious software which hijacked the computer and caused constant porn popups. She's been convicted of 4 counts of "risk of injury to a minor."   She faces a sentence of up to 40 years in prison.

Incidentally, a friend of mine had her home computer hijacked in exactly the same fashion, and it took her three days to clean her computer and regain control. She spent several hours on the phone with me while I walked her through the process of downloading Firefox, using it to find programs that could remove the hijacking, and repairing her registry. My friend has no idea where the hijacking came from. What with Internet Explorer being an utter security failure -- even with all of the world's best experts at Microsoft working 24 / 7 to fix it -- it's hard to blame a substitute teacher for an infected classroom computer.

FYI, the only way my friend could fix her machine was by switching to Firefox.

Life imitates art. From the inimitable Blackadder:

Scene: Word War One...
  • GENERAL: Now, Field Marshal Hague has formulated a brilliant new tactical plan to ensure final victory in the field.
  • CAPTAIN BLACKADDER: Ah, would this brilliant plan involve us climbing out of our trenches and walking very slowly towards the enemy, sir?
  • CAPTAIN DARLING: How could you possibly know that, Blackadder? It's classified information!
  • CAPTAIN BLACKADDER: It's the same plan that we used last time, and the seventeen times before that.
  • GENERAL: Exactly! And that is what is so brilliant about it! It will catch the watchful Hun totally off guard. Doing precisely what we've done eighteen times before is exactly the last thing they'll expect us to do this time! There is, however, one small problem.
  • CAPTAIN BLACKADDER: That everyone always gets slaughtered in the first ten seconds?
  • GENERAL: That's right. And Field Marshal Hague is worried that this may be depressing the men a tad. So, he's looking to find a way to cheer them up.
  • CAPTAIN BLACKADDER: Well, his resignation and suicide would seem the obvious.

Tuesday, December 9, 2007
Tea is good for you, and does all sorts of wonderful healthy things for you, unless you put milk in it.

Remember the short article about whiny kids becoming conservatives? Here's much more on how we think, and why conservatives and liberals are actually very different from each other.

I want to hire this guy to paint my garage.

UPDATE: British detectives are "100 percent" certain they know who killed Litvinenko.

The Alexander Litvinenko "murder by polonium-210" case continues to simmer. Now, Julia Svetlichnaya (another Russian ex-pat living in London) has come forward to claim that Litvinenko was planning to blackmail an unnamed "wealthy Russian businessman."  Well, there you go. Somebody else had a motive, so Putin is off the hook. Right? This new revelation makes perfect sense when you consider the fact that the number one job of the world's secret intelligence agencies is not actually "spying." Their number one job is "disinformation."

Saturday, January 6, 2007
You never know about such things, but this could be very significant: A hybrid molecule of N-acetyl-D-mannosamine linked with butyrate.
It just might be a wide-spectrum cancer cure.

Thursday, January 4, 2007
On NPR yesterday and today:Toby Appel's Guide to the Orchestra.

People who play the cello are simply not good looking. They have generally chosen their instrument because, while in use, the cello hides 80% of its player's considerable bulk. Most cellists are in analysis which won't end until they can play a scale in tune or, in other words, never. Cellists wear sensible shoes and always bring their own lunch. 

How hard is it to cancel an account? With AOL, it's hard. With Netzero, it's impossible.

High mileage: You can get 59 mpg in an unmodified Accord. You just have to modify your driving.

A very cool motor home.

Our closest relatives: Chimps. But Neanderthals were much closer.

Wednesday, January 3, 2007
Walmart does it again.

Walmart, the single largest employer in the country (aside from the Federal Government) has come up with a way to have all the advantages of a fully-staffed store, without ever having to pay for it, unless they want to. (Their press release on this sounds very polite and benign.)

Under the new system, if you work for Walmart, you are "on call" 24 / 7. But you don't get called unless they decide they need you. The rest of the time, you are expected to sit next to the phone and starve -- with no health insurance.

And -- get this -- Walmart pays you nothing for being on call 24 / 7. It's now simply a requirement of employment. You are required to be ready and able to work 168 hours per week, but if they only need you for 12 hours, that's all you get paid for.

Walmart disputes this, saying they release their work schedules "up to two weeks in advance." They also claim that
"no hours have been cut or reduced as part of the new scheduling system." However, their workers have been able to document substantial cuts.

Walmart defines "full time" (when you start getting paid benefits like health insurance and pension) as being over 34 hours a week. But that only kicks in if you work over 34 hours for two weeks in a row. So if you happened to work over 34 hours last week, then at precisely 33 hours and 59 minutes this week, you're fired. It's instantaneous and controlled by the company's automated payroll system. So you'd better keep track of your hours if you work for Walmart.

The single largest employer in America screws their employees like clockwork. Over half of their employees are part-time, with no insurance or pension. Many of their full-time employees are being cut to part-time under this new "flexible" system.

Last year, Walmart CEO Lee Scott earned $17.5 million.

There are good folks out there. Honest, kind hearted people who housed 44 stranded travelers for four days and looted a stuck grocery truck to feed them. Yup, good folks. (Just kidding about the looted truck. The company -- Affiliated Foods -- gave them permission. Bravo.)

The contents of this web page are merely opinion.  Harmless words.  Nothing more.