Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Chelicerate in Harry Potter

Did you see the Harry Potter movie that's out now?

Did you curl up in a ball of terror when that buglike THING showed up and ran all over everyone's head in the scene with Mad-Eye Mooney?

Did you know that, while digital and animated, that thing is a Real Creature?

And, what's more, a chelicerate. All hail the Amblypgid, or tailless whip scorpion. Fuckin TERRIfying.

photo of amblypygid, Paraphrynus laevifrons: Paraphrynus laevifrons from Carara, Puntarenas, Costa Rica. Copyright 2003 by Carlos Viquez. Posted at American Arachnology.

More about amblypgids, tailless whip scorpions:

- Wikipedia

- A very nice sharp (but small) shot of one from the Saint Louis Zoo website

More about Whip Scorpions:

- A tale about keeping a "Vinegaroon," or giant whip scorpion, as a pet.

- More from the The British Tarantula Society Journal.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005


PB234939, originally uploaded by urban_tank.

Some of you may know that I grew up as a facbrat, or child of faculty, at Cranbrook Kingswood School in Michigan. I was born and raised there, finally moving with my family to CT after 6th grade.

Cranbrook is an incredibly beautiful and dream-like place, and being an 8-year old with a bike, free (and safe!) to wander the several hundred acre campus just made it more surreal. I cannot convey how deeply ingrained every texture and building is in my psyche and memory.

I keep a monitor on Flickr pics with the tag cranbrook, and here are a couple other recent ones I've seen. Credits with each.

hound statue, originally uploaded by Brimley.

Saarninen House + Extras 049, originally uploaded by bport.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Advocate Me, Baby!

Ooh. This one's fun.

I present to you The Center For Consumer Freedom. From their About Us page:
The Center for Consumer Freedom is a nonprofit coalition of restaurants, food companies, and consumers working together to promote personal responsibility and protect consumer choices.

The growing cabal of "food cops," health care enforcers, militant activists, meddling bureaucrats, and violent radicals who think they know "what's best for you" are pushing against our basic freedoms. We're here to push back.
Hmm. "Food companies" finally getting up the guts to push back against health care enforcers, huh?
Q:Who funds you guys? How about some "full disclosure"?
The Center for Consumer Freedom is supported by restaurants, food companies and more than 1,000 concerned individuals. From farm to fork, our friends and supporters include businesses, employees and consumers.
Many of the companies and individuals who support the Center financially have indicated that they want anonymity as contributors. They are reasonably apprehensive about privacy and safety in light of the violence some activist groups have adopted as a "game plan" to impose their views.
Oh sure, yup, right. These poor little individuals fear for their safety.

Okay. You know what? Fuck you. I thought that fishy smell was familiar.

What you meant to say was "We were formed in 1995 with initial funding from Philip Morris. Our primary funders include Coca-Cola, Monsanto, Wendy's, and Tyson [funders not disclosed since 2002]. We are a lobbying group run by the same man, Rick Berman, that created The American Beverage Association [which I wrote about a couple months ago in regards to their study showing no connection between soda and childhood obesity]."

More information at the Center for Science in the Public Interest.

For those of you who have read this long, I humbly submit to you this GEM of a cartoon from their "Cartoons" page. Tells a rich story about their angle on the world. (For them, a "nanny" is an outta control activist trying to take our freedoms away, etc.)
Remember. This is not a Libertarian "Freedom" organization. This is an Industry Promotion PR attack.

And, finally, as a goodbye, I give you a Thanksgiving Op-Ed from a Lobbyist group. Huh?

Some highlights
I’ve seen turkeys up close. They live up to their rep. They’re weak, slow, fat, and not very agile. And they can't fly. There’s an urban legend about turkeys being so stupid that they often look up at the sky with their mouths open, fascinated by raindrops, until they drown. Exaggerated? Maybe. But the turkey is no bald eagle.
Last year HSUS [Humane Society of the United States] installed its very first “vegan” president. Think “vegetarian” with a cape and tights.
Each November when the President ceremonially declares that at least one Washington turkey will be safe for a while, some of us hope that the “pardoned” bird winds up stuffed and dripping with gravy anyway. Like the Pilgrims, we’re a frugal people. Waste not, want not.

Oh, stop it, you guys are TOO MUCH! This Op-Ed, brought to you by David Martosko, Director of Research at the Center for Consumer Freedom.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Snowy Thanksgiving

DSCN2195.JPG, originally uploaded by cricketheron.

Oh, it was such a glorious snow at my Dad's house this past Thanksgiving. This whole set also includes some good shots of CT deer nosing close to Sarah's house.

Unturkey Club

DSCN2339, originally uploaded by cricketheron.

Odd to Creepy

I could take it from "odd" and "happy" to "creepy" and a little scary if I were to actually COMMENT on this BLOG page...

It's nice to know he enjoyed my comment tho... :-)


Yummy, originally uploaded by Skea.

Heh. Whaddya know.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Alan Watts Lectures, MP3

Don't be put off by the hippy tone (if you're the type of person who would be), but this page has a bunch of wonderful spoken philosophy MP3s for download, including 5 or 6 25 minute lectures from Alan Watts, one of my favorite philosophers of the 20th century. As usual, Wikipedia's a good place to start if you don't know Alan, and here that site's overview:
Alan Wilson Watts (January 6, 1915 – November 16, 1973) was a philosopher, writer, speaker, and expert in comparative religion. He wrote over twenty-five books and numerous articles on subjects such as personal identity, the true nature of reality, consciousness and the pursuit of happiness, relating his experience to scientific knowledge and to the teachings of Eastern and Western religions or philosophies (Zen Buddhism, Taoism, Christianity, Hinduism). Beyond this, he was sensitive to certain new leanings in the West, and was in a position to be a proponent for certain shifts in attitudes regarding society, the natural world, lifestyles, and aesthetics. Alan Watts was a well-known autodidact. He was most renowned as an interpreter of Asian philosophies.
Good audio for, say, Thanksgiving trips on Metro-North....

Fort Greene, Night Sky

DSCN2181.JPG, originally uploaded by cricketheron.

You can do cool things with city night sky if you just hold your camera still.

A few more similar ones here.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Yeah, I Can See That

From this morning's AM New York, an excerpt from an interview with George Clooney about his new movie Syriana:

Q: You’re always a charming guy in films, but in this movie [Syriana] you’re a pretty hard guy.

GC: I want to say that from the beginning of the movie, I sort of made the decision that I was unhappy.… I was playing a part that was very unhappy, and I wasn’t very happy at the time.


GC: A lot of things. On my way to Morocco, I walked out of the house and there was a rattlesnake wrapped around my dog, its teeth in the back of its head, and I had to get a baseball bat, and beating the snake off of it killed the dog. The last thing the dog knew was me beating it with a baseball bat. So it was one thing after another.

(Pic by Kevin Flynn, age 13, from the Kendall Gallery: An International Showplace for Deaf Children's Art)

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Scorpion Leg

scorpion - leg, originally uploaded by mohd fahmi.

No explanation at the flickr page, so I'm assuming that's scorpion crawling on the leg?



Don't speak. Don't think. Just let it waaaaaash over you. This image can communicate with many parts of your brain at once - but only if you let it. Feeel the moment...

One More from the Vatican

One last tale - for now - on the Vatican's refutation of Intelligent Design. Rev. George Coyne, the Jesuit director of the Vatican Observatory (noted as "one of the oldest astronomical research institutions in the world," per the AP) says it quite clearly last Friday:
Intelligent design isn't science even though it pretends to be...If you want to teach it in schools, intelligent design should be taught when religion or cultural history is taught, not science.
(Full article from AP)

Okay. We're done now, right? "Logical explanation based on empirical evidence" class should cover "logical explanations based on empirical evidence."

As per the note near the end of this article, however, maybe the Pope should have lunch with him know, bounce a few ideas off each other...

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Evolution Reading

Sometimes it may seem like I have a one-topic mind. Oh, well.

A couple of good recent writings from around the web on evolution. First, the Vatican's Astronomer (!!), Brother Guy Consolmagno, speaks quite coherently and thoughtfully about science and religion in this interview with Astrobiology Magazine:
You say, "I have no idea how this could have happened. It must have been God's design." And then fifty years later, somebody explains how it did happen, and you say, "I don't need God anymore." If your faith is based on science, that's a very shaky kind of faith.
The trouble with this idea of "God's thumbprint" is, first of all, it denies the fact that it's ALL thumbprint. And so, I don't want to say that this is proof of God, but that over there was just accident.

(Another good Bonus Interview with him (although not on evolution), including this gem:
I don't expect to convert any aliens. If I can get people to think and if I can get people to laugh, what more do I need to do?

Charles Krauthammer slices and dices ID:
Let's be clear. Intelligent design may be interesting as theology, but as science it is a fraud. It is a self-enclosed, tautological "theory" whose only holding is that when there are gaps in some area of scientific knowledge -- in this case, evolution -- they are to be filled by God.

And, just a reminder: The reason I feel so passionately about all this is because I don't want children growing up with dulled scientific minds. I believe in the ideas and minds of kids growing up now, and don't want them shackled and afraid.

Fnally, the Darwin exhibit at AMNH opens today!

Friday, November 18, 2005

Fearless Mice

Dear Lord, don't take away my active gene for the protein stathmin!

By the way, that pic is from this page, where it is for some reason referred to as "MICE (Most Intelligent Corn Eater". Go figure. Or, if you speak german, go apprehend.

More on Murtha

A good roundup of more info on Representative Murtha. Apparently he was the very first Vietnam Vet to serve in Congress.

Voice of Leadership - UPDATED

Democratic Congressman John Murtha, one of the strongest Democratic supporters of the war and a widely respected figure, gave a press conference Thursday condemning the running of the war and demanding immediate redeployment:
The war in Iraq is not going as advertised. It is a flawed policy wrapped in illusion. The American public is way ahead of us. The United States and coalition troops have done all they can in Iraq, but it is time for a change in direction. Our military is suffering. The future of our country is at risk. We cannot continue on the present course. It is evident that continued military action is not in the best interests of the United States of America, the Iraqi people or the Persian Gulf Region.
Our military has done everything that has been asked of them, the U.S. can not accomplish anything further in Iraq militarily. It is time to bring them home.
(Full thoughtful and spot-on transcript here, Reuters story here)

So, how does the White House debate respectfully with a former strong supporter of their policies? From the White House site:
Congressman Murtha is a respected veteran and politician who has a record of supporting a strong America. So it is baffling that he is endorsing the policy positions of Michael Moore and the extreme liberal wing of the Democratic party. The eve of an historic democratic election in Iraq is not the time to surrender to the terrorists. After seeing his statement, we remain baffled -- nowhere does he explain how retreating from Iraq makes America safer.
Michael Moore? These people are imploding. Your fear tricks aren't working anymore! This is too important to continue to talk this way.

Update: Murtha-Fuckin ROCK God! From the LA Times:
Asked about Bush's and Vice President Dick Cheney's recent attacks on Democrats who have questioned whether the administration misused intelligence in making the case for invading Iraq, Murtha sarcastically noted that neither man had been in combat.

"I like guys who've never been there that criticize us who've been there," he said. "I like that."

Referring specifically to Cheney, he said: "I like guys who got five deferments [during the Vietnam War era] and have never been there and send people to war, and then don't like to hear suggestions about what needs to be done."
...hold on, hold on..Representative Jim Leach, Republican from Iowa? You had something to add?
"John is one of the most respected members of the body and certainly the most respected member of the Democratic Party on national security matters, so judgments of his should never be taken lightly," said Rep. Jim Leach (R-Iowa).
Hear that, white house? Hear that Scotty M? STFU. The adults are talking now.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Telling the Truth, Oil Executive style

Democratic senators (last week): Um, so, we should really pull out that bible and swear in under oath these oil executives that we're investigating, right? You know, just like when we have the nice baseball players come in?

Republican senators: Naaah, there's really, um, no need for that. Don't bother. You guys are cool, right? Just, you know, tell us the truth, mmkay?

Sen. Ted Stevens, R-Alaska: "There is nothing in the standing rules of our committee or the Senate which requires witnesses to be sworn. These witnesses … are aware that making false statements and testimony is a violation of federal law whether or not an oath has been administered."

NOW, after the releases of documents showing that these executives DID in fact participate in an "energy task force" with Dick "I Eat Babies" Cheney in 2001 to come up with ways to give back massages to the oil industry, the direct denials these executives gave, straight-faced but Not Under Oath, to Congress last week look a little stinky.

Space Captain Harry Reid's got an idea. "Hey, guys, what about that oath thing we were talking about the other day?"

From Reuters:
Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid of Nevada said the
executives should return to Washington and set the record

They should 'be brought back to the Congress, sworn in, and forced to testify again about their involvement with Vice
President Cheney's secretive energy task force and all of the issues covered in the hearing,' Reid said."

Fuck yeah!

By the way. Lying to congress - even while not under oath - is apparently punishable by 5 years jailtime.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Bush Was Right! - The Hit Single

I don't really have anything funny to add here, but you have GOT to see this - and if you can, download and listen to the song. A right-wing duo called The Right Brothers, sings Bush Was Right!

One of the more fascinating political bits I've seen all week.

Bush Was Right!

And DO NOT miss their actual website, although it's running a tad slow today.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

I Enjoy Bill O'Reilly

Sometimes, when I'm feeling blue, I ask Bill O'Reilly to take my hand and fill my mouth with nuts and my heart was squirrels. Sometimes it's his guests, sometimes it's his letters, sometimes it's his eyes, sometimes it's his confidence. Tonight, it was something special. His sponsors. Tonight, may I present to you, Doggy Steps by TeleBrands!

Click to view the full TV ad i saw - just beware the audio.

(My Apologies to those who came by last night and had to endure the SOUND as well as the video of the animation - i've left that to the website itself now)


Jesus Fucking Christ this is a Creepy Place. One bonus picture for your nightmares at the link.

Target Digs Itself a Deeper Hole

AMERICABLOG has a wonderful update to the Target-Emergency Contraception topic, where, as you may know, Target has stood behind their pharmacists that refuse to dispense Plan B, by amazingly, calling it a Civil Rights Issue that they must respect!:
As you may recall, Target is letting its pharmacists refuse to fill your order for emergency contracptive pills (Plan B, as it's called) simply because they find your prescription immoral. Target is now saying that they'll fill your prescription in a 'timely manner' at another pharmacy, or at their pharmacy at a later time (presumably when their holier-than-thou employee is on break).

I don't know about you, but when I go to the pharmacist, I don't want him sending me to another Target 40 miles away simply because he has religious issues with my prescription. It's none of his business what prescription I'm getting filled, and short of there being a glaring mistake in my prescription a la 'It's a Wonderful Life' - i.e., instead of allergy pills someone gave me cyanide - it's none of his damn business passing religious judgment on my prescriptions, my illnesses, my prefered form of treatment, or me.

I already have a priest, and he doesn't work at Target, thank you.

But Target feels otherwise. In fact, Target is now claiming - quite incredibly - that its employees' religious fanaticism is covered the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Yes, apparently Target employees are allowed to not sell you things based on THEIR religion. That's an absurd, and rather dangerous, legal statement from Target.
Read the whole thing.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Decoding Mr. Bush's Denials - New York Times

A very forceful New York Times editorial calls bullshit on the squirming of GW:
The president and his top advisers may very well have sincerely believed that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. But they did not allow the American people, or even Congress, to have the information necessary to make reasoned judgments of their own. It's obvious that the Bush administration misled Americans about Mr. Hussein's weapons and his terrorist connections. We need to know how that happened and why.
Even a Fox News editorial spanks bushie:
It’s time for the president to get on with our country’s business rather than trying to blame Democrats for the mistakes that his own people made.


Kraft has a new product called Crumbles - bits of cheese that you can sprinkle over salads, pancakes, cereal, whatever. Their TV ad makes use of EMF's "Unbelieveable," with these elegantly-adjustly lyrics:
The thing, you crave
That big cheese taste just blows you away
The thing, you crave
You're CRUMBelievable!
[insert spinning eyes graphic] Inserted!

Say hello to "Matt Eyes.gif," created by "Matt," 3rd grader at John Philip Sousa High School in Port Washington High School, NY - More 3rd grader animation here!
matt eyes.gif

Your Use of the Sony Music You Buy/License

An astonishing run-down of the rights you DON'T have when you buy music published by Sony. This is stuff everyone should be aware of. Read It.

Jimmy Carter Lays It Down

Nobel Peace Prize winner Jimmy Carter loves his country and wants it rescued. He pulls no punches:
IN RECENT YEARS, I have become increasingly concerned by a host of radical government policies that now threaten many basic principles espoused by all previous administrations, Democratic and Republican.
Read the whole thing, and use Bugmenot if you don't have a (free) LA Times login. Bravo, Jimmy!

Sunday, November 13, 2005

"giant japanese spider 1"

giant japanese spider 1, originally uploaded by kelsyen.

Good Lord. I'm going to have to look up what a "giant japanese spider" really means, species-wise, but this thing's a World Champion Chelicerate.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Find the Isthmus

Friday, November 11, 2005

Pat Smacks Shrub

Pat Buchanan?:
"Thus, in March, 2003, Bush, in perhaps the greatest strategic blunder in U.S. history, invaded an Arab nation that had not attacked us, did not want war with us, and did not threaten us - to strip it of weapons we now know it did not have."
GOP imploding.

While you're enjoying your time at Human Events Online, America's Conservative Weekly, don't miss Robert Novak's column from today, Bush Deserves Blame for Tuesday's GOP Defeats:
... Eyeing the Democratic landslide in suburban northern Virginia just over the Potomac from Washington that gave Lt. Gov. Kaine the governorship, Republicans in Congress envision their own doom.

The antidote to avoid that fate is to keep as far away from President Bush as possible, a lesson underlined by the president's failed election rescue mission for former state Attorney General Kilgore

Thursday, November 10, 2005

The Worm Ouroboros

Some excerpts from this marvelous book, published in 1926 by E.R.Eddison...

[at a banquet]
Now were borne round dishes of carp, pilchards, and lobsters, and thereafter store enow of meats: a fat kid roasted whole and garnished with peas on a spacious silver charger, kid pasties, plates of neats' tongues and sweetbreads, sucking rabbits in jellies, hedgehogs baked in their skins, hogs' haslets, carbonadoes, chitterlings, and dormouse pies. These and other luscious meats were borne round continually by thralls who moved silent on bare feet; and merry weaved the talk as the edge of hunger become blunted a little, and cockles of men's hearts were warmed with wine.
"Without controversy, there be seventeen several sorts of divels [devils, assumedly] on the Moruna," said Corsus, very loud and sudden, so that all turned to look on him; "fiery divels, divels of the air, terrestrial divels, as you may say, and water divels, and subterranean divels. Without controversy there by seven seen sorts, seventeen several sorts of hob-thrushes, and several sorts of divels, and if the humour took me I could name them all by rote."

Wondrous solemn was the heavy face of Corsus, his eyes baggy underneath and somewhat bloodshed, his pendulous cheeks, thick blubber upper-lip, and bristle gray moustachios and whiskers. He had eaten, mainly to provoke thirst, pickled olives, capers, salted almonds, anchovies, fumadoes, and pilchards fried with mustard, and now awaited the salt chine of beef to be a pillow and a resting place for new potations

You may read the full text here, if you enjoy reading books on monitors. Really quite beautiful writing.

Classic Maps

Bravo! Someone named Ian Albert has compiled an astonishing set of maps of various older video game spaces. They're really quite beautiful.

"An Undulating One, with Bumps"

The creator of the two Katamari Damacy games is leaving the industry, he says, for other pursuits.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Kick The Monkeys Out!

In case you haven't heard, there was a mixed bag of Intelligent Design news from election day.

While Kansas continued its march back through time, and helped ensure the continuing decline of its image in the nation, the world, and the business community, Dover, Pennsylvania did the right thing, and swept out of office all members of the school board that had been promoting the introduction of "Intelligent Design" as an appropriate topic for science class.

See what happens when you try to give children a shit education in Dover?

(Illustration from Answers In Genesis)

Also, if you missed it, the Vatican Put The Smack Down on Fundamentalism the other day.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Beautiful Day in Chinatown

DSCN2142.JPG, originally uploaded by cricketheron.

Beautiful golden late afternoon light today in Chinatown, on this Election Day, which for some bizarre reason I have off this year.

Full set here.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Fulton Mall and Brooklyn Bridge

DSCN1955.JPG, originally uploaded by cricketheron.

On Saturday, I walked through Fulton Mall and over the Brooklyn Bridge. Have a look.

NYC Marathon

DSCN2047.JPG, originally uploaded by cricketheron.

Sunday was the New York City Marathon, and my Favorite Day of the Year. It was my first marathon from this apartment along Lafayette, so I had all new angles to take pictures from...

You can see the whole set on flickr, including this year's running rhinos, starting here.

Playing with a spider

Playing with a spider, originally uploaded by Photo_Freak.

Really nice pattern...

Friday, November 04, 2005

"Good People Beget Good People"

This is Bill Frist's book on the Frist Geneology, called "Good People Beget Good People."

Are you joking?!

Wednesday, November 02, 2005


CBS News announces the results of a new poll. "President Bush's job approval has reached the lowest level yet. Only 35 percent approve of the job he's doing."

(That's the ACTUAL picture montage that has created)

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

I'm In Love with Harry Reid

What a day - and what a post-"closed session" news conference! Feisty...mmm! If you haven't seen this, please visit Crooks and Liars for the 7 minute video. The response - near the very end - to the question posed of whether he should have "consulted" with Frist first before doing this - oooh, his teeth are bared!

Bonus: Hunter, over at Daily Kos, gives an answer to the question, Harry, How do I love thee? Let me count the ways...A wonderful (if perhaps a bit optimistic) rundown of the political deftness of Reid's move today.

Update: Look at this HOT PIC of Reid in action in that post-secret-session press briefing. Too good to pass up. It's now the main post image.

Ohhhhhhh, Nelly!

From the What-choo-talkin-bout-Willis? department...

The Labor Department's inspector general strongly criticized department officials yesterday for 'serious breakdowns' in procedures involving an agreement promising Wal-Mart Stores 15 days' notice before labor investigators would inspect its stores for child labor violations.

Where the hell does my "Ohhhh, Nelly!" expression come from?

Oz Rittner - Arachnida of Israel

Fantastic photography site of various insects and other creatures from Israel. The photographer's name is Oz Rittner (can someone explain to me why he signs the home page Oz Rittner, but signs his photographs Rittner Oz?), and, this being, I will be sending you to his page of scorpions, spider, and a few kick ass Camel Spider shots (a camel spider actually eating a scorpion!!).

Stroll in Boerum Hill

DSCN1820.JPG, originally uploaded by cricketheron.

I have a new photoset up on Flickr of a stroll around Boerum Hill. Beautiful day here in Brooklyn, and my hat is off especially to Pacific Street between Bergen and 3rd Avenue.



For anyone that wonders about the contents of packaged food, there's a great story in the NYT today on a law that is being pushed by the Organic Trade Association, an industry lobbying group, to loosen the rules on what can be marked as "USDA Organic."

From what I can see, the tale appears to be:
1. Huge companies (Kraft, Kelloggs, etc) buy little "organic" or "health food" companies like Boca or Fresh Samantha.

2. Said companies find that organic produce can be too expensive sometimes.

3. They don't want to have to make it organic anymore.

Have a read.

Also, I first learned about all the purchases of the small companies (that make so many of the foods-in-packages-with-brands that I buy) from a fascinating site called Oligopoly Watch. The Business of Food is something to keep an eye on, unless you live on your own farm. On an island. Out of the jurisdiction of any country. Protected by high walls. Surrounded by a hurricane that keeps planes and helicopters away. And paratroopers.