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things that just are

Friday, February 27, 2004

From a White House press conference yesterday:

PRESIDENT BUSH: Here's what we're going to do. I will make a statement. [Georgian President Saakashvili] will make a statement. I will then call upon an American correspondent to ask a question. The President will call upon a Georgian correspondent. We'll have two questions per side.


PRESIDENT BUSH: Thank you. Hold on for a second. Deb, we're going to --
Q: What do you think about --
PRESIDENT BUSH: Hold on. Will somebody translate --
PRESIDENT BUSH: I understand. I understand. Hold on for a second. The way this is going to work is this.

Q: I'm from Georgia.

: I know you are, excuse me. We're going to start with the American press, and then there will be a Georgian press, and then there will be an American press, and then there will be a Georgian press. That's the best way to maintain order, so we don't have everybody yelling at the same time.

Courtesy of http://www.wonkette.com/

Wednesday, February 25, 2004

First Michigan Wolverine Spotted in 200 Years

Associated Press
DETROIT - A biologist has confirmed the sighting of a real Michigan wolverine, about 200 years after the species was last seen in the state that uses the small but ferocious animal as its unofficial nickname.

Coyote hunters spotted a wolverine near Ubly, about 90 miles north of Detroit. Michigan Department of Natural Resources wildlife biologist Arnie Karr saw the forest predator Tuesday and snapped pictures of the animal as it ran out of the woods and across a field.

The wolverine, a member of the weasel family that grows to about 25 pounds but is ferocious enough to fight off bears and wolves, once ranged across the northern and western United States. It is now limited mostly to northern Canada, Idaho and Alaska, with sightings in a few other states, but its last confirmed sightings in Michigan were by fur traders in the late 1700s and early 1800s.

The appearance is "up there with having a caribou or a polar bear turn up," Department of Natural Resources spokesman Brad Wurfel said Wednesday. "It's unprecedented."

How the scrappy animal returned and even whether it ever really left are mysteries in the state, where the best-known Wolverines are athletes at the University of Michigan.

Raymond Rustem, supervisor of the natural heritage unit in the department's wildlife division, said the wolverine could have traveled to the state, been released or escaped from captivity.

"What it means, who knows?" Rustem said. "When you take a look at the wolverine, there's always been this debate about whether wolverines ever were a part of Michigan's recent past. Some evidence shows that, some says no."

The wolverine was on Michigan's endangered species list until the late 1990s, when it was removed because it wasn't expected to return, Rustem said. Conservationists asked the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to put the animal on its endangered list in 2000, but the agency in October declined to study whether the species should be added.


Go Blue!

Tuesday, February 24, 2004

Do you know how they make baby carrotts?

Grimmway Farms: "Baby carrots are not grown bite-size. Quite the contrary. They are bred to be long and slender and then are cut into pieces and lathed to uniform width."

Wednesday, February 18, 2004

And now, more about the most overplayed song of 2004...

Polaroid Warns Film Users Not to 'Shake It'

LONDON (Reuters) - Outkast fans like to "shake it like a Polaroid picture," but the instant camera maker is warning consumers that taking the advice of the hip-hop stars could ruin your snapshots.

Outkast's number one hit "Hey Ya" includes the "shake it" line as a reference to the motion that amateur photographers use to help along the self-developing film.

But in the "answers" section on the Polaroid Web site, (http://polaroid.custhelp.com/cgi-bin/polaroid.cfg/php/enduser/std_alp.php?p_sid=MkDTr94h&p_lva=2509&p_sp=&p_li=) the company says that shaking photos, which once helped them to dry, is not necessary since the modern version of Polaroid film dries behind a clear plastic window.

The image "never touches air, so shaking or waving has no effect," the company said on its Web site.
"In fact, shaking or waving can actually damage the image. Rapid movement during development can cause portions of the film to separate prematurely, or can cause 'blobs' in the picture."

A Polaroid spokesman added: "Almost everybody does it, thinking that shaking accelerates the development process, but if you shake it too vigorously you could distort the image. A casual shake typically doesn't affect it."

Polaroid said its film should be laid on a flat surface and shielded from the wind, and that users should avoid bending or twisting their pictures.

Of course, "lay it on a flat surface like a Polaroid picture," doesn't sound nearly as cool.

Friday, February 13, 2004

Rabbi Urges Pig Fat on Buses to Stop Bombers

JERUSALEM (Reuters) - A prominent Israeli rabbi has proposed hanging bags of pig fat in buses to deter Muslim suicide bombers who may want to avoid contact with an "unclean" animal, an Israeli official said on Thursday.

The idea -- suggested by Rabbi Eliezer Fisher, a rabbinical judge, in a letter to police -- signaled the extremes to which some Israelis may be willing to go to stop Palestinian bombers who have killed hundreds of Israelis in recent years.

Judaism, like Islam, considers pigs unclean. But the ultra-Orthodox rabbi has ruled that special dispensation can be given for placing bags of lard in buses and public places in an effort to prevent attacks.

Police had no immediate comment on the proposal.

Asked about the deterrent capability of pig fat on Israeli buses, Palestinian sources called it an exercise in futility.

Islamic militants are told by those who send them on bombing missions that their souls enter Paradise instantly after they explode despite any contamination or defilement of their bodies.

"It's not a problem if it saves lives," Israeli Deputy Public Security Minister Yaakov Edri said, referring to the breaking of Jewish religious law.

"I personally support it," Edri told Reuters. "If it can deter even one suicide bomber -- then wonderful. Security authorities must consider it."

An article on the rabbi's proposal published on the Web site of the Israeli newspaper Maariv drew dozens of e-mail responses from readers ranging from incredulous to complimentary.

pretty sick

Thursday, February 12, 2004

Party of the Year?

Dennis Kozlowski, eat your heart out. The lavish festivities surrounding the dual marriages of two brothers this week in northern India puts to shame the lesser luxuries that helped get the ex-Tyco chief executive in trouble. The family of Shushanto and Shimanto Roy, which controls the multibillion-dollar Sahara business group, is playing host to more than 10,000 guests, who were shuttled in from the Lucknow airport in a fleet of 200 Mercedes Benz sedans.

At the 300-acre party site, the guests -- film stars and Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee among them -- are being entertained by a 110-member symphony orchestra flown in from Britain amid orchids imported from Thailand. Thousands of chefs are serving 18 different types of cuisine. And to get past the tight security, guests have to swipe microchip-imbedded invitations through a scanner.

The family wouldn't comment on the nuptials' cost. But the grooms' father, Subroto Roy, perhaps in anticipation of potential criticism, said free meals would be distributed to more than 140,000 homeless and poor people. And his family paid for the weddings of 101 poverty-stricken couples in a community marriage today, distributing gifts worth $4,400 to each couple.

From the Wall Street Journal Afternoon Report

Trouble with the Law

It Shouldn't Be Hard to Spot Her
ROME (Reuters) - An Italian woman who had her breasts enlarged with the biggest silicone implants available is being hunted by police after she skipped out on the 7,500 euro ($9,500) plastic surgery bill.

Police say they have few leads as the woman used a false name but are relying on a photograph and her unusually large bra size to find her, a newspaper reported Thursday.

The woman did a runner from the exclusive private hospital in Rome a day after the two-hour operation which doubled her bust size, her plastic surgeon Jamal Salhi told the Corriere della Sera Thursday.

"Unfortunately this kind of fraud isn't that unusual," Salhi lamented.

Wednesday, February 11, 2004

Hey Ya!
Linus and Lucy lip-synching to OutKastHilarious video

Plus: Saddam sings OutKast: Hey Allah!

Courtesy of http://www.lostremote.com/

Tuesday, February 10, 2004

Stat of the Day

In less than 5 years, New Jersey will no longer have any landfill space.

From Pornography to ... Applesauce?

Civic-minded Americans interested in their federal branch of government may no longer stumble upon pornography when loading up whitehouse.com, though equally confusing content -- applesauce -- may replace it. (The correct address for the White House is whitehouse.gov.) After seven years of peddling porn to Web surfers with errant keystrokes, whitehouse.com purveyor Daniel Parisi is looking to sell his domain. The front page of his site today seems tailored more to consenting buyers than consenting adults, touting "WhiteHouse.com has been visited by over 85 Million people since our inception in 1997" and containing two of those white-on-red "As Seen on TV" labels. One prospective buyer, according to the Associated Press: National Fruit Product Co. of Winchester, Va., which makes White House applesauce and apple juice and had sued Mr. Parisi over an alleged trademark violation.

From the Wall Street Journal Afternoon Report

Fitness videos punch up DVD popularity

By Thomas K. Arnold
Special for USA TODAY

Janet Giovannetti, a 54-year-old grandmother, loves watching DVDs in the family room.

But when it comes time for her morning workout, she slips a Pilates videocassette into the trusty old VCR in her bedroom.

"I'll switch eventually, when I get a new TV with a built-in DVD player for the bedroom," says Giovannetti, of Carlsbad, Calif. "But for now, the video is just fine."

That's a familiar scenario for DVD marketers. When the format launched seven years ago, marketers felt DVD and fitness would be a perfect match.

The ability to randomly access segments of a DVD would allow bedroom athletes to do their favorite routines over and over without having to rewind, and customize their workouts.

"We all thought it would be a natural," says Steve Beeks, president of Lions Gate Home Entertainment.

But as people bought DVD players, they didn't ditch the VCR. They just moved it into the bedroom.

"Since people who exercise at home typically do so in the bedroom, it's been a lot slower growth than we had anticipated," Beeks says.

But things are beginning to change. Women are starting to buy DVDs for themselves as opposed to buying for husbands and children, and the flood of inexpensive DVD players that hit the market over the holidays has encouraged consumers to pick up a second player.

Of the 30 million DVD players expected to be sold this year, half are going into homes that already have one, according to DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group.

Veteran fitness diva Denise Austin, a member of the President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports, says, "DVDs are really starting to kick up. It's something we've just noticed in the last six weeks, since the holidays."

Since 1985, Austin has released 45 fitness videos with combined sales of more than 20 million copies.

Dan Gurlitz, vice president of video for Koch Entertainment Distribution, says 65% of his fitness video sales are now on DVD. A year ago, it was only 25%.

Austin loves DVD "because it's easy and quick to get to what you want," she says. "Let's say you just want to do something for your butt today. Well, you can go to the exact spot on the disc that focuses on your rear end."

Based on e-mails she has received, Austin adds, her fans also are enamored with fitness on DVD.

"Lots of women say they love to take them on the road with them," she says. "They travel with them and pop them into their laptops."

Both Lions Gate and Koch are leaders in the fitness video arena. Lions Gate has the Denise Austin line, and this year is launching two newly acquired lines, STOTT Pilates and Wai Lana Yoga, through infomercials.

Koch also is launching a new fitness line, The Trainer's Edge, designed to bring the benefits of personal training into the home. The first two titles in the series, Cardio Interval Training with Petra Kolber and Killer Abs and Back with Michael Olajide, arrive in stores today ($20 each). Up next from Koch are a pair of Pilates titles, coming March 9.

Lions Gate's Beeks says he thinks the key to getting fitness buffs to migrate from VHS to DVD lies in making sure fans are aware of the format's many advantages.

"You can even offer customized workouts, and that's where we're going," Beeks says. "We're going to offer viewers the chance to have not just a 40-minute workout, but also a 10-minute workout and a 20-minute workout. And while in the VHS days a 10-minute workout consisted of the first 10 minutes of the longer one, now we can pull parts out of each segment so you can get a little bit of everything you need."

Sharon Schuck, a schoolteacher in Carlsbad, Calif., has taken the bite. She bought her first DVD player two weeks ago and now slips in a Pilates disc on mornings when she can't make it to the gym.

For her fitness routine, the parts are sometimes greater than the whole. "I can do the parts I want, instead of the whole thing."

Thursday, February 05, 2004

Secret of Homing Pigeons Revealed
LONDON (Reuters) - The secret of carrier pigeons' uncanny ability to find their way home has been discovered by British scientists: the feathered navigators follow the roads just like we do.

Researchers at Oxford University spent 10 years studying homing pigeons using global positioning satellite (GPS) and were stunned to find the birds often don't navigate by taking bearing from the sun. Instead they fly along motorways, turn at junctions and even go around roundabouts, adding miles to their journeys, British newspapers reported on Thursday.

'It really has knocked our research team sideways,' Professor Tim Guilford said in the Daily Telegraph. 'It is striking to see the pigeons fly straight down the A34 Oxford bypass, and then sharply curve off at the traffic lights before curving off again at the roundabout,' he said in The Times.

Guilford said pigeons use their own navigational system when doing long-distance trips or when a bird does a journey for the first time. But when they have flown a journey more than once they home in on an habitual route home. 'In short it looks like it is mentally easier for a bird to fly down a road...they are just making their journey as simple as possible.'

wow. fascinating

Wednesday, February 04, 2004

Urban Mapping

A cool new map technology. Check out the flash demo. Courtesy of Gizmodo