Monthly Archives: February 2013

Zombie Apocalypse

More Zombie Apocalypse themed pictures for your enjoyment.  WARNING:  Some are GRAPHIC.

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New Punctuation Marks We Need

8 New Punctuation Marks We Desperately Need

by Mike Trapp on February 20, 2013

  • Reposted from CollegeHumor
8 New Punctuation Marks - Image 10



8 New Punctuation Marks We Desperately Need - Image 10



8 New Punctuation Marks - Image 10



8 New and Necessary Punctuation Marks - Image 1



8 New and Necessary Punctuation Marks - Image 1



8 New and Necessary Punctuation Marks - Image 1



8 New and Necessary Punctuation Marks - Image 1



8 New and Necessary Punctuation Marks - Image 1


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British Crown Jewel Will Not Be Returned

Koh-i-Noor Diamond, British Crown Jewel, Will Not Be Returned, Cameron Tells India (PHOTOS)

Reuters  |  Posted: 02/20/2013 11:30 pm EST  |  Updated: 02/21/2013 10:40 am EST

Kohinoor Diamond
AMRITSAR, India, Feb 21 (Reuters) – British Prime Minister David Cameron says a giant diamond his country forced India to hand over in the colonial era that was set in a royal crown will not be returned.

Speaking on the third and final day of a visit to India aimed at drumming up trade and investment, Cameron ruled out handing back the 105-carat Koh-i-Noor diamond, now on display in the Tower of London. The diamond had been set in the crown of the current Queen Elizabeth’s late mother.

One of the world’s largest diamonds, some Indians – including independence leader Mahatma Gandhi’s grandson – have demanded its return to atone for Britain’s colonial past.

“I don’t think that’s the right approach,” Cameron told reporters on Wednesday after becoming the first serving British prime minister to voice regret about one of the bloodiest episodes in colonial India, a massacre of unarmed civilians in the city of Amritsar in 1919.

Executive Director of Jewels de Paragon (JDP) Pavana Kishore shows the 'Koh-I-Noor' diamond on display with other famous diamonds at an exhibition intitled '100 World Famous Diamonds' in Bangalore 19 May 2002. The Koh-I-Noor diamond, which once belonged to Mughal Emperor Shah Jehan, weighs 105.60 Carats and is part of the British crown jewels, stored in the tower of London. (STR/AFP/Getty Images)

Executive Director of Jewels de Paragon (JDP) Pavana Kishore shows the ‘Koh-I-Noor’ diamond on display with other famous diamonds at an exhibition intitled ‘100 World Famous Diamonds’ in Bangalore 19 May 2002. The Koh-I-Noor diamond, which once belonged to Mughal Emperor Shah Jehan, weighs 105.60 Carats and is part of the British crown jewels, stored in the tower of London. (STR/AFP/Getty Images

“It is the same question with the Elgin Marbles,” he said, referring to the classical Greek marble sculptures that Athens has long demanded be given back.

“The right answer is for the British Museum and other cultural institutions to do exactly what they do, which is to link up with other institutions around the world to make sure that the things which we have and look after so well are properly shared with people around the world.

“I certainly don’t believe in ‘returnism’, as it were. I don’t think that’s sensible.”

Britain’s then colonial governor-general of India arranged for the huge diamond to be presented to Queen Victoria in 1850.

If Kate Middleton, the wife of Prince William, who is second in line to the throne, eventually becomes queen consort she will don the crown holding the diamond on official occasions.

When Elizabeth II made a state visit to India to mark the 50th anniversary of India’s independence from Britain in 1997, many Indians demanded the return of the diamond.

Cameron is keen to tap into India’s economic rise, but says he is anxious to focus on the present and future rather than “reach back” into the past. (Reporting By Andrew Osborn; Editing by Michael Roddy)

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Things You Would Like to Have – But Don’t Need

Just an odd assortment here for your enjoyment:


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Zombie Update – Brain cells can outlive the body

Brain cells can outlive the body

By Tia Ghose

Published February 26, 2013


  • neurons

    Mouse neurons implanted into a rat brain can live twice as long as the mice from which they were taken, new research suggests. (iDesign, Shutterstock)

Brain cells can live at least twice as long as the organisms in which they reside, according to new research.

The study, published Monday, Feb. 25, in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, found that mouse neurons, or brain cells, implanted into rats can survive with the rats into old age, twice as long as the life span of the original mice. The findings are good news for life extension enthusiasts.

‘We are slowly but continuously prolonging the life of humans.’

– Dr. Lorenzo Magrassi, a neurosurgeon at the University of Pavia in Italy 

“We are slowly but continuously prolonging the life of humans,” said study co-author Dr. Lorenzo Magrassi, a neurosurgeon at the University of Pavia in Italy.

So if the human life span could be stretched to 160 years, “then you are not going to lose your neurons, because your neurons do not have a fixed lifetime.”

Long-lived cells
While most of the cells in the human body are being constantly replaced, humans are born with almost all the neurons they will ever have. [10 Odd Facts About the Brain]

Magrassi and his colleagues wanted to know whether neurons could outlive the organisms in which they live (barring degenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s).

To do so, the researchers took neurons from mice and implanted them into the brains of about 60 rat fetuses.

The team then let the rats live their entire lives, euthanizing them when they were moribund and unlikely to survive for more than two days, and then inspected their brains. The life span of the mice was only about 18 months, while the rats typically lived twice as long.

The rats were found to be completely normal (though not any smarter), without any signs of neurological problems at the end of their lives.

And the neurons that had been transplanted from mice were still alive when the rats died. That means it’s possible the cells could have survived even longer if they were transplanted into a longer-lived species.

Life extension
The findings suggest that our brain cells won’t fail before our bodies do.

“Think what a terrible thing it could be if you survive your own brain,” Magrassi told LiveScience.

While the findings were done in rats, not humans, they could also have implications for neuronal transplants that could be used for degenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s disease or Parkinson’s disease, Magrassi said.

But just because brain cells may be able to live indefinitely doesn’t mean humans could live forever.

Aging is dependent on more than the life span of all the individual parts in the body, and scientists still don’t understand exactly what causes people to age, Magrassi said.

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More Vehicles You Would Like to Own

If you could only choose one of the following vehicles, which one would it be?

For earlier posts type “vehicles” into the search on my home page.  Enjoy!

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Space Elevator Development

The space elevator once a laughed at theory included in future tech in the game Civilizaton is now becoming possible.  First, some artists’ rendering of possible space elevators, then the story.

LEARN in Universe and Environment

October 2, 2008 at 8:53 PM

The Space Elevator Gets a Lift

The fabled elevator to space is a surprisingly pragmatic idea. In November, the Japanese give it a timeline.

Imagine, if you will, a new kind of space travel-one with no launch pads or booster rockets. No risky ocean landings in charred, cramped Soyuz orbital modules; no money-sucking Space Shuttles. No explosions, no “Houston, we have a problem.” Instead of strapping themselves onto the noses of massive rockets and hoping for the best, astronauts would nimbly step into an elevator and ride for a few hours, smoothly and safely, out of the Earth’s atmosphere and into a waiting space station.

Meet the space elevator, probably the most revolutionary idea in the history of aeronautics. Because it’s exactly what it sounds like: an elevator. To space. And, although it’s been a pipe dream of armchair theorists since the 1800s, it just made one giant leap into a whole new world of plausibility. Why? Because the Japanese, perhaps afraid of being eclipsed by the mighty progress of commercial space travel companies, or the showboating of the nascent Chinese space program, have decided to build one, for real.It’s a smart pairing. Japan is a pioneer in the kind of precision engineering that a space elevator requires, and their space program, JAXA, is a small but powerful operation, excelling in X-Ray astronomy, satellite-based Earth observation, and building smart modules and components for the International Space Station. Plunging headlong into this unlikely project, Japanese scientists have founded an organization called the Japan Space Elevator Association, and they plan to host an international conference in November to draw up a timetable for the machine, discuss its impact on the world, and, according to their site, “Organize races with climbers made of Lego Blocks.”Yes, it sounds like fun, but surely this is a folly in a moment of global economic upheaval?
Unbelievably, the space elevator is in fact a totally pragmatic idea, and ultimately a cheap one, too-or rather, it’s cheaper than the fuel-guzzling rigmarole we’re currently faced with every time we need to wrest something from the steely grip of our planet’s escape gravity.The idea is simple, as most good ideas are: a super-strong tether made of carbon nanotubes, held taut by the inertia of the planet’s rotation, spanning from the surface of the Earth to a point beyond geosynchronous orbit, serving as a kind of  22,000 mile-long cosmic freeway (or, as the Japanese have already dubbed it, a bullet train to space) shuttling “lifters” out of the planet’s gravity and into orbit. To boot, the Japanese Space Elevator Association estimates it would only cost a paltry 1 trillion yen (about $9 billion) to build, which is pocket change if you consider the amount of money that NASA has indiscriminately poured into its programs over the years-not to mention compared to a certain Wall Street bailout.
What’s so elegant about the space elevator is that it draws a clean line between our centuries-old conception of “down here” and the newly approachable “up there.” While rockets retain a certain abstract quality-off they blast, in a florid burst of flame and noise, the mechanics of the whole thing still pretty mystical-the space elevator is concrete, as though humankind were reaching its own tentative arm into the great beyond. Besides, rocket fuel is so expensive, and launching rockets such a fuss, that it will probably always keep the democratization of space travel at bay. So what have we been waiting for?
There are a handful of groups in the U.S. working on space elevator policy and components-one being the Liftport Group in Bremerton, Washington-but no one has made plans as bold as those of the Japanese.Building the space elevator involves massive engineering challenges, but they’re not as impossible as they may seem. One of the most stunning things about the elevator, in fact, is that we have all the technology needed to implement it already. The only thing missing is a strong enough material to build the tether-the long cord connecting Earth and Space. Carbon nanotubes, which are the strongest man-made materials on Earth, seem to fit the bill, although the director of the JSEA, Yoshi Aoki, estimates they need to get a little stronger yet: about 180 times the tensile strength of steel.Arthur C. Clarke, perhaps the most ardent and famous promoter of the space elevator, was often asked when he thought the first one might be built. A little flippantly, he noted, “my answer has always been: about 50 years after everyone has stopped laughing.” Stop laughing, everyone: it looks like it might be even sooner than that.



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The Only Woman Who Ever Got Hit By a Meteorite

The Only Woman Who Ever Got Hit By a Meteorite Survived

Imagine going about your day like the people in Russia only to be smacked against a wall by a meteorite’s shockwave. That’s already crazy. But imaging being in your home, napping on your couch and actually getting hit by an actual meteorite. That actually happened to Ann Hodges in 1954. She survived.

In the only confirmed account of a person getting struck by a meteorite, Ann Hodges was left with just a large bruise after the softball-sized meteorite broke through her ceiling and bounced off a radio before it thumped her on her thigh. After all of the people who have ever lived in this world and after all the meteorites that have hit Earth, she’s the only one to have ever been hit. Amazing.

It’s especially funny to look back in time. Most people said the meteorite, which hit Hodges in Sylacauga, Alabama, was like “a fireball, like a gigantic welding arc” but others assumed it was the work of the Soviets. After it was confirmed to be a meteorite, there was a big hodgepodge over who actually owned the meteorite.

Hodges eventually gained possession of the meteorite and though she survived being struck by the space rock in 1954, she passed away in 1972 at the age of 52 because of kidney failure. [National Geographic] 


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Update on the Unexplained Blobs

This is a very good dissection of the mysterious report of blobs in my earlier mysteries post.  From

Did Mysterious Blobs Rain Down Over Washington in 1994?

September 26th, 2012 | 4 Comments

When Oakville, Washington was showered with mysterious blobs in 1994, is modern mystery was born. The incident has been circulated and discussed heavily on the internet since then. How accurate is the story and the photo that often accompanies it?


The story is true, but the photo is completely unrelated.

Let’s take a look at a recent version of the story as circulated on the internet in 2012:

The townspeople of Oakville, Washington, were in for a surprise on August 7, 1994. Instead of their usual downpour of rain, the inhabitants of the small town witnessed countless gelatinous blobs falling from the sky. Once the globs fell, almost everyone in Oakville started to develop severe, flu-like symptoms that lasted anywhere from 7 weeks to 3 months. Finally, after exposure to the goo caused his mother to fall ill, one resident sent a sample of the blobs for testing. What the technicians discovered was shocking – the globs contained human white blood cells. The substance was then brought to the State Department of Health of Washington for further analysis. With another startling reveal, they discovered that the gelatinous blobs had two types of bacteria, one of which is found in the human digestive system. However, no one could successfully identify the blob, and how they were connected to the mysterious sickness that plagued the town.

These are salamander eggs, NOT the Oakville mystery blobs.

The Original Story
This story as told above is a somewhat accurate account of the events that took place in August 1994, but the story has been expanded from the initial report.

Variations from the original story:

  • The person who sent the samples for testing as not a man, but a woman named Sunny Barclift. She sent the samples after her mother, friend, and herself experienced “bouts of nausea” along with the death of a kitten around that time.
  • There is no mention of “two types of bacteria” in the original accounts – only discussion of cells found within the blobs.
  • Aside from those “bouts of nausea” reported by Barclift, suggestions that an illness “plagued” nearly “everyone” in the the town appears to be untrue.
  • There is no mention that the illnesses reported by Ms. Barclift had a duration of “7 weeks to 3 months.”


Unsolved Mysteries
The story was picked up several years after the event by the television show “Unsolved Mysteries” in which many new details arose. We are told that the substance “blanketed 20 square miles” on six occasions. This is also where resident Beverly Roberts first mentioned illnesses lasting “7 weeks to 2 or 3 months.” Residents interviewed were Dotty Hearn, the mother of Sunny Barclift, who had been interviewed in the original newspaper article. Dotty  described it as a “gelatinous-like material” that resembled hail. She reported dizziness and nausea soon after examining the blobs. Officer David Lacey was also interviewed, and he reported becoming ill within hours of touching the material which pelted his police car during a storm.

Lab technician Mike McDowell was interviews and stated that the blob samples had two types of bacteria, one of which is found in the human digestive tract.

The show states that the blobs appeared 6 times in a three-week period, dozens of people fell ill, and several pets died. A year later, private lab results showed the material to be eucharyotic cells,  according to microbiologist Tim Davis. This indicates the material had come from a living organism.

Here’s another photo of the same type of salamander eggs.

One additional mysterious piece of information is that the hospital lab which examined the blobs identified them as human white blood cells, but a lab which later examined them could find no nuclei in the cells, which are present in human white blood cells.

Local residents believe the blobs were related to increased military activity and “testing” done in the area in August, 1994, to the point of expressing belief that they were experiments of biological warfare.

The show indicated that there are no more samples of the blobs in existence.

Jellyfish Theory
One possible explanation is the “Jellyfish Theory.” Local residents learned that the Air Force had been exploding live bombs in the ocean around 20 miles from the town. It is suggested that jellyfish remains may have been ejected into the air and remained suspended in the clouds until they fell with rain. Residents did not report an odor one would expect if material from sea creatures had been out of the water that long, nor is it likely that the volume reported of this substance could be created from one school of jellyfish.

Airline Theory
Modern forums discussing the incident often suggest that the cause of the blobs may have been waste leaked from an airline.  While this would tie into the finding of human white blood cells, it is unlikely because airline waste is commonly known as blue ice due to its color from the disinfectant in which it resides. The blobs were not reported to have any specific color.

Oakville Collusion Theory
It has been suggested by some skeptics that the residents of Oakville have enhanced the original story for notoriety. The original news report in fact stated that local residents were discussing an annual jellyfish festival, and mentioned a drink called “The Jellyfish” at a local tavern.

The photo
The image of a hand holding a giant blob is often circulated with this story, however it is not related to this incident. It is actually a photo of eggs from the Northwestern Salamander (Ambystoma gracile) as published on this website.

The 1994 newspaper accounts of the incident describe the blobs as “half the size of rice grains” which is far different than the image associated with the story.

What do you think these blobs were?

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Jelly Bean Art

I saw this on The Chive, a tribute to Kristen Cumings who makes are from jelly beans.  Very impressive.  If I tried it, I would end up eating up my supplies…

Artist Kristen Cumings painstakingly assembled these amazing paintings with an assortment of Jelly Beans. You can check out more of her arthere or like her facebook if you’re in to that sort of thing.


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