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things that just are

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Feeling Stupid? Blame Your Computer

Talk about unintended consequences: the emails, text messages and instant messages that supposedly make people better-connected can also make them more stupid, according to a new study. In a project sponsored by Hewlett-Packard, Glenn Wilson, a professor at King's College London, tested the impact on workers of a steady bombardment of electronic messages and found that workers temporarily lost 10 points of IQ as a result of trying to handle all the incoming information -- more than double the four-point effect of smoking marijuana and roughly matching the effect of missing a full night's sleep.

From the Wall Street Journal

Friday, April 22, 2005

What a moron

Yahoo! News - Woman in Wendy's Finger Case Arrested
Woman in Wendy's Finger Case Arrested

The woman who claimed she found a finger in her bowl of Wendy's chili last month has been arrested, the latest twist in a bizarre case about how the 1 1/2-inch finger tip ended up in a bowl of fast food.

Anna Ayala was taken into custody late Thursday at her Las Vegas home. She was arrested on a warrant alleging grand larceny and attempted grand larceny, Las Vegas Police Sgt. Chris Jones said.

Authorities said would not provide further details until a news conference Friday afternoon in San Jose, Calif. — the city where Ayala claimed she bit down on the finger in a mouthful of her steamy stew.

As it turns out, Ayala has a litigious history. She has filed claims against several corporations, including a former employer and General Motors, though it is unclear from court records whether she received any money. She said she got $30,000 from El Pollo Loco after her 13-year-old daughter got sick at one of the chain's Las Vegas-area restaurants. But El Pollo Loco spokeswoman Julie Weeks said last week that the company reviewed Ayala's February 2004 claim and paid her nothing.

Thursday, April 21, 2005


Kutcher 'Punk'd' by Secret Service
After Ashton Kutcher turned the tables on the crew of his MTV celebrity prank show 'Punk'd' with the help of Britney Spears, he declared himself 'unpunkable.' That was before he ran into former senator and vice presidential candidate John Edwards.

While promoting his latest film, 'A Lot Like Love,' Kutcher reluctantly admits that he was indeed the butt of a practical joke during the 2004 presidential campaign, thanks to Edwards.

'Well, it was sort of a 'punk,' but it sort of wasn't because it was real,' he says at a small press conference at the Four Seasons hotel. 'I was campaigning in Minnesota and we were flying back to Iowa ... on his, like, Air Force One jet that they have with all the press in the back of the plane. John has his cushy area in front, and the Secret Service is there.'

After boarding the plane, Kutcher was approached by a Secret Service agent who asked if the grey bag being checked in on the tarmac belonged to him. When the 'That '70s Show' star confirmed it was, he became increasingly alarmed when the agent continued to question him, asking whether he carried a firearm and if he had planned to go hunting.

'Well, we're going to have to detonate your bag on the runway,' he was told.

Kutcher freaked. 'I was like, 'Are you kidding? Detonate it. I'm not trying to kill anyone, I promise. Detonate it. Do it. Please. I don't want it on the plane, either.'

At that point, the agent informed him, 'You just got 'Punk'd,'' to which Kutcher replied, 'That's not even fair. You're like actual Secret Service. You're not an actor. That doesn't count.'

Although a camera captured the incident, don't expect to see it on MTV anytime soon.
'I'm trying to confiscate the videotape,' he says."

Deep Trouble for Laptop Thief

Berkeley laptop thief is scared out of his wits by professor
The last few minutes of this video from a biology class at Berkeley is of a professor explaining the terrifying consequences that will soon befall the student that stole his laptop.
Lecture transcript

Via Boing Boing

Monday, April 18, 2005

First toast, now an underpass.

Faithful Flock To Virgin Mary Image Found Under Kennedy


Go figure

Sunday, April 17, 2005

More GoogleMaps

People are always talking about the parking lot of airplanes in the desert.
Here it is.

A list of some sights to see.

Friday, April 15, 2005

Area 51

So tonight I spied on Area 51... with Google Maps.

See for yourself:
Link 1
Link 2

Israeli Prisoner Idol

Six contestants from six different prisons in the center of the country went up against one another for the title of the Prisons Service's 'New Star.'

Unlike Kohav Nolad (Israel's version of American Idol), where the winner achieves instant fame and the chance to produce an album, the prisoners competed for a 24-hour furlough.

Continue reading...

Thursday, April 14, 2005

The Power of Math

Via The J-Walk Blog:

US Patent #6,751,348 B2: Automated detection of pornographic images:

A method for use in detecting a pornographic image comprising: analyzing a questionable image, said analyzing including (a) preparing a final color prototype database having a plurality of final color prototype values, said final color prototype database prepared from selected skin image samples from a plurality of images;

It all boils down to simple math:

Click for more

Road Sign Math

Road Sign Math: a fun road trip game.

Great Application of Google Maps

This website combines Google Maps with apartment rental and for-sale listings from Craig's List. You can browse through neighborhoods and see what's available.

Really cool tool if you know people looking to move. (Works for all cities that are in Craig's List, i think.)


Via ResearchBuzz

Your Rankings

Law School Ranking Game

"What kind of game is this? You tell us.

We Americans love rankings. The creators of some rankings play to win your money. Law schools play ranking games to win your attendance.

The Ranking Game lets you make your own rankings of law schools based on your preferences."

From the WSJ's The Numbers Guy.
Have Fun

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

What's in a Name

Slime-Mold Beetles Named for Politicians
From the WSJ Evening Wrap:
Grumps and cynics often compare politicians to worms, bugs and other creepy-crawly creatures. Now, some bugs have been named after three of the world's most powerful politicians. Two American entomologists have named three newly discovered species of slime-mold beetles after President Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. Lest anyone think that Agathidium bushi, Agathidium cheneyi and Agathidium rumsfeldi were named out of spite for Messrs. Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld, their nomenclators insist it's a sign of respect.

"We admire these leaders as fellow citizens who have the courage of their convictions and are willing to do the very difficult and unpopular work of living up to principles of freedom and democracy rather than accepting the expedient or popular," said former Cornell entomologist Quentin Wheeler, now the head of entomology at the Natural History Museum in London.

Think of that next time you see the Agathidium bushi feasting on mold in its stomping grounds in southern Ohio, North Carolina and Virginia (all red states, in the last election).

Monday, April 11, 2005

'Apprentice' Chris Arrested

CNN.com - 'Apprentice' Chris arrested

From CNN.com:

TAMPA, Florida (AP) -- Real estate millionaire Chris Shelton, a contestant on NBC's 'The Apprentice,' was arrested on a disorderly conduct charge.

Shelton, 22, one of six remaining contestants competing for a job with Donald Trump, was taken into custody early Sunday at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino. He was released after posting $250 bail.

'He was loud and he just wouldn't calm down,' Bitner said. Shelton was peeved over a $20 cover charge for the hotel bar. Shelton 'was at the lobby causing a scene,' the police report said. 'There were several patrons in the area who were visibly shaken by his actions. After several attempts to calm Shelton, he continued to yell and curse, refusing to calm down and stop causing a scene.'

What a punk. How is he a millionaire?

Friday, April 08, 2005

Google Sightseeing

Sightseeing through Google maps.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Record Wig Wearers

Fans at a Detroit Pistons game last night set an unofficial world record of 6,638 people wearing wigs at the same time in the second quarter. The current Guinness record is 6,213, set in a Pistons game last season.

Stupid Customer Service

From The Baltimore Sun:

A tale of customer service, justice and currency as funny as a $2 bill

I'm thinking, 'I'll stage my little comic protest. I'll pay the $114 with $2 bills.'"

At Best Buy, they may have perceived the protest -- but did not sense the comic aspect of 57 $2 bills.

"I'm just here to pay the bill," Bolesta says he told a cashier. "She looked at the $2 bills and told me, 'I don't have to take these if I don't want to.' I said, 'If you don't, I'm leaving. I've tried to pay my bill twice. You don't want these bills, you can sue me.' So she took the money. Like she's doing me a favor."

He remembers the cashier marking each bill with a pen. Then other store personnel began to gather, a few of them asking, "Are these real?"

"Of course they are," Bolesta said. "They're legal tender."
Continue the story

Via Gizmodo

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

The Importance of Keyguard

From WSJ Evening Wrap:
Sheriff's deputies in Hawkins County, Tenn., said they foiled a burglary after the alleged burglars accidentally discussed their plans in a 911 call. One of the accused men had a cell phone with raised numbers in his pocket while he talked with his alleged accomplice about stealing a refrigerator from a mobile-home dealership, the deputies said. The phone automatically dials "911" when the number 9 is pressed, and as luck would have it, that's exactly what happened while the men were planning the crime, deputies said. The deputies at first thought the call was an April Fools' prank, but they drove to the mobile-home dealership just in case. The alleged burglars walked out of the dealership with the refrigerator into the waiting arms of the Hawkins County Sheriff's Department, deputies said. The deputies said they planned to listen to the 911 call again to see if other accomplices were identified.