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Not a substitute for a seatbelt

Russian model Irene Ferrari—owner of Russia’s largest breast implants, according to Pravda—involuntarily used one of her assets as a shock absorber during a flight from Moscow to Zurich while traveling with an unnamed Swiss air carrier.

Turbulence is normally of the convective, vertical variety, so it’s not a massive deceleration that would cause 29-year-old Ms. Ferrari to meet the seatback in front of her.  It seems rather more likely that her abnormally high center of gravity renders her inherently unstable.  When subjected to rapid vertical or lateral movements, she would (in nautical parlance) be more prone to rolling or capsizing than a vessel whose CoG was closer to (or below) the waterline.  Her onboard gyroscopes and inertial reference systems might not be able to compensate quickly enough to avoid a regrettable buckling along the Y-axis, causing face or torso to meet seatback.  A not entirely sympathetic judge might decide this is something of a self-inflicted condition.

…During a Moscow-Zurich flight the plane experienced some strong turbulence and the model hit the back of the chair in front of her with her breast.

The silicon breast worked like airbags. Doctors said that if it was not them, Irene would be spending some time in a hospital with broken ribs. She only got some bruises and strong pain in her left breast. When in Moscow, the model felt so sick she had to go see a doctor.

— “Proud owner of Russia’s largest silicon breasts sues airline.”  Pravda, 08 June 2010.

Remember now, airbags are only a supplemental restraint system.

Category: Aut disce aut discede  Tags: ,  Comments off

There’s always a good explanation

68-year-old Heiner Kullack, German tourist and retired teacher, sees orange lights in the sky over Prospect Bay, Nova Scotia, and wonders if he’s seen a UFO.  In reality, he has seen flares launched by a CC-130 on a SAR training mission.

Not too many Canadians will have experience with military flares, because few Canadians have great familiarity with the tools of the military trade.  But in Germany, all young males are required to serve nine months in the Bundeswehr (unless they are medically unfit, or a conscientious objector).  This has been a feature of Germany’s Basic Law since 1956, when conscription was re-introduced.

I’m a little bit mystified as to why Herr Kullack failed to figure it out.

Category: What Really Grinds My Gears  Tags:  Comments off

Aliens! I seen ’em!

alien_video Some dingdong in Denver claims to have video proof that aliens visited a fellow Colorado resident (hat tip to Darcey at Dust My Broom ).  Wonderful.  Footage so grainy and indistinct that a convenience store security camera would be ashamed of shooting it.

Here’s the thing, though.

If any such notional aliens existed and actually had visited Earth, my sense is they need more help from us than we need from them.

They have enough smarts to cross interstellar distances, but not enough to invent a camera with a telephoto lens—something humans managed to do back in 1891.  No sir, these aliens have to conduct all of their reconnaissance with the Mark I eyeball.  Maybe they were wondering why their OnStar system failed to kick in and they needed directions to the nearest mechanic.

They can evade SPACECOM’s tracking radars and penetrate the North American ADIZ easily enough, but they haven’t got the smarts to build a few UAVs that can loiter overhead and collect data.  Humans, however, had been sending automated probes to other planets for a few decades before any astronaut ever set foot on another celestial body.

There may well be aliens out there in the galaxy, but I’ve yet to see a UFO claim that conclusively demonstrates remote sensing technology on par with—let alone superior to—our own.

RELATED: Popular Mechanics brings the rational smackdown to Stan Romanek’s little video epic.

Like I mentioned above, the thing that sets off my skeptic alarm for any number of alien visitations is that there is no internal consistency or logic to their methods.  They operate stealthy craft but have zero concern for humans seeing them out in the open?  They can’t, apparently, operate ROVs or UAVs sophisticated enough to keep tabs on us without the guy on the ground being aware that he’s under surveillance?  Cripes.  We can do that stuff today.  And in all of these supposed visits, no alien craft or being has ever left behind equipment, packaging, or any kind of non-terrestrial artifact?

As a thought experiment, imagine how we would react if we discovered a sentient, intelligent but less-technologically-developed species living on a celestial body in this solar system.

Would we immediately race over there with a planetary lander and play peek-a-boo into their homes?  Or would we be inclined to park a few surveillance birds in orbit and see what the hell was going on, first?  Maybe develop some sort of exo-atmospheric ROV that we could use to fly at high altitude and get higher-resolution images and data, without unnecessarily endangering human (or alien) lives.  Spend a few decades observing their world, its environment, its civilisations and their organisation, and what sort of technology they did have.  Perhaps try to figure out how to communicate with them, so that when we did get to the planetary lander stage, we wouldn’t be climbing out of the lander, unfurling the flag, and watching astronauts die needlessly.  Planetary exploration is not an inexpensive venture; and it really is all about conservation of scarce resources and opportunities in order to maximize the quality of data that you get back.

Now ask yourself why none of these alien visitations demonstrate anything close to that level of forethought and intelligence.

How to pick up women at bus stops

Spotted this hand-scrawled and photocopied personals ad duct-taped to a bus shelter at the corner of Keele St. and Glenlake Ave.:

img00018a(Phone number redacted to protect the guilty)

I guess that degree in testosterone didn’t include any courses in marketing.  Consider including  important data for the woman to consider, such as:

  • Interests and activities (i.e. potential topics of conversation) other than movies, foot massage and buxom ladies.  Somehow you have to get past the “weirdo” perception that comes from taping hand-scrawled personal ads to bus shelters.
  • Personal values, goals in life.  It might help a teeny tiny bit if you and your prospective mate had similar value systems and goals in life.
  • Employment status.  When you go visit her folks in Calgary, are you riding there?
  • Age of the poster and prospective dates.  Need more specifics.  If I were less kind and had more time on my hands (i.e. was a teenager on summer vacation) I would photocopy the hell out of this ad and tape it up everywhere it was guaranteed to get the wrong kind of attention.  Retirement homes, elementary schools, etc.
  • The number of movie posters/action figures per square foot at one’s primary residence.  Just a hunch but I’m betting it’s somewhere around three, minimum.

Good luck fella, you’re going to need it.

Category: Aut disce aut discede  Tags: ,  Comments off

Do yourselves a favour and leave the flakes at home

Since I can’t seem to halt the flood of mail from the Texas Coalition of Black Democrats and Senate District 13, I am going to share one of the more humourous examples with you.  At this point I am not even going to try to unsubscribe because the entertainment value is too high.

From: [Name redacted]
To: [a giant list of Texas Democrats voting to select delegates to the National Convention]
Date:    Fri, May 23, 2008 at 11:02 PM
Subject:    Not Your Ordinary National Delegate Candidate
Signed-by:    swbell.net

Don’t YOU THINK
THE TEXAS OBAMA DELEGATION
TO THE DEMOCRATIC NATIONAL
CONVENTION
SHOULD INCLUDE
 
An Artist
A Gardener
A Paralegal
A Singer/Songwriter
A Gourmet Chef
Someone Who Marched in Protest Before the 2003 Invasion of Iraq
A BodyTalk Practitioner
A Librarian
An Actor
Someone with a Degree in Political Science
A Web Page Designer
A Handyman
An Animal Rights Advocate
A Peter Sellers Fan
A Jogger
A TV Producer
A Mystic
A Participant in the Social Revolutions of the Sixties
A JFK Assassination Researcher
An Ordained ULC Minister
A Vegetarian
An Investigator of the Paranormal
A Legendary Debater
and
A Practical Joker?
 
ELECT
[Name Redacted]
AND YOU HAVE EVERYTHING COVERED

My advice is, leave the following guys at home:

  • The JFK assasination researcher.  (Hint: Oswald did it.  With a bolt-action rifle.)
  • The ordained ULC minister.  (Hint:  The Universal Life Church ordains just about anyone with a pulse.  Its honourary doctorates require no academic course or standard of achievement.  Not something you want to advertise.)
  • The investigator of the paranormal.  (Hint: Ghosts lose their voting privileges at death, so they won’t be voting for Obama.  They’ll be waiting in the green room for a guest spot on that lame Jennifer Love Hewitt show.)
  • The participant in the Social Revolutions of the Sixties.  (Hint: Replace the patchouli with deodorant and ditch the bell-bottoms for a nice [ironed] pair of flat front pants, hippie.)
Category: Aut disce aut discede, Foreign Affairs  Tags: ,  Comments off

God keep our land glorious and ignorant

Overheard some colleagues discussing the Democratic primaries and 2008 presidential contenders in general.  Could not be a more perfect example of smug Canadian bubbleheadedness.  They are busy nodding in knowing agreement that Senator McCain will be the next President, because certain parts of America (read: everywhere) are too backward, sexist, racist and stupid to vote for a woman or a black man.  They are also busy being proud that no serving Canadian Prime Minister has ever been assassinated.

Entirely missing from the discussion is the realisation that a woman has never been elected Prime Minister of Canada in a general election.  A woman succeeded to the office by virtue of winning her party’s leadership convention, but (and it is an important but) the one time in Canadian history a female Prime Minister faced the public in a general election, she was soundly defeated and her party reduced to a two-seat rump.

Also missing is the realisation that in Canada, a black man has never, ever been one of the top two leadership contenders for one of our four currently-elected federal parties.

Yet somehow our southern brothers are the backward, sexist, racist and stupid ones.

Category: Amor Patriae  Tags:  8 Comments

Laptop steering-wheel mount

Hmmm… laptop + steering wheel + human nature.  What could possibly go wrong?

steering_wheel_laptop

From the retailer’s website:

IMPORTANT NOTE & SAFETY WARNING: THIS PRODUCT IS ONLY FOR USE WHEN THE VEHICLE IS PARKED AND THE IGNITION IS TURNED OFF. DO NOT ATTEMPT TO DRIVE A VEHICLE WITH MOUNT ATTACHED TO STEERING WHEEL. DEATH or INJURY TO YOURSELF AND OTHERS WOULD OCCUR. WE ASSUME NO RESPONSIBILITY OF LIABILITY IF THIS SOLUTION IS USED IN ANY OTHER CAPACITY THAN DESCRIBED HEREIN.

Yeah, I can’t see any possible scenario where someone might disregard the warning and behave irresponsibly.  Nope.  Not gonna happen at all.

Inspired by this post over at Joey de Villa’s place.

Category: Web/Tech  Tags:  Comments off

That’s got to hurt

Man found in schoolyard with pants down, impaled on sharp metal pole.

Toronto police found a man impaled on a sharp metal pole in a schoolyard on Friday morning.

The victim told police he was trying to escape three masked street robbers by climbing a small tree but then slipped, impaling himself in the “anal region” on the support stake, Sgt. Roger Marchack told CTV.ca.

The incident took place behind Roywood Public School, near York Mills Road and the Don Valley Parkway.

Officers arrived at the scene at about 7:30 a.m. after receiving a tip from a concerned citizen. The man told police he had been stuck for at least two hours until the passerby noticed him.

— CTV.ca Staff, “Man impaled by pole in Toronto schoolyard“, April 4th, 2008.

Initially you read this stuff and you think “this guy must be a pervert.”  Pants down, in a schoolyard from 5:30am, with a metal rod stuck up his ass.  I was going to post something snarky i.e. “A likely story”, but one neighbour’s account seems to corroborate that maybe there were other guys on the scene after all:

Nearby residents alerted police after they heard moans coming from the schoolyard.

“I’m not sure how many people were here, if there were more than one it would be like three or five. It wasn’t a big group like 15 or 20 … but it was just running and grunting and we just knew, everybody knew, that something was just not right,” resident Lynn Ludford told CBC News.

— CBC News, “Man found impaled on post in schoolyard“, April 4th, 2008.

I note in passing that no media source except CTV and the Canadian Press (via the Hamilton Spectator) note the “pants down” angle.  680 News seems to have missed it, along with CBC, CityNews and the Toronto Star.

UPDATE: Police are downplaying rumours of sexual misconduct in this morning’s incident, but also said the story of an attempted robbery “doesn’t match up” with evidence found at the scene.

Category: Culpae Poenae Par Esto, Media  Tags: , ,  Comments off

Remembering a Past that Didn’t Happen

It’s hard to know what to make of revelations that Senator Clinton’s 1996 arrival at Tuzla Air Base was caught on video, and features a smiling Clinton walking across the apron and being greeted by an 8-year-old Bosnian girl.  Nary a sign of a hasty scramble, under sniper fire, to bullet-resistant vehicles.  One can take the cynical view and call her an inveterate liar.  I’m open to the possibility that she genuinely remembers some trip that had an element of danger and fear, but wasn’t Tuzla specifically.  Or perhaps an overzealous Secret Service overbriefed her on the expected dangers, and in her mind she imagined snipers taking aim while she and Chelsea bravely walked out onto the apron with pasted-on smiles.

I’m no Clinton apologist, but I do know that people sometimes remember events that didn’t actually occur, or at least didn’t occur the way they remember it.

I have two good friends who have mirthful memories of me a particular party, and can even recall specific lines of dialogue which I apparently uttered.  Problem is, I was ill that day, and I know for certain I wasn’t there.  Photographs of the dozen or so party guests corroborate this, I am nowhere to be seen in any of them.  But if you ask these fellas, they will insist I was there.  Their memories are vivid, but entirely mistaken.  They certainly remember somebody, but that particular somebody, on that particular night, was not me.  The curious thing is how two people who know me well could be under the impression that I was someplace that I am 100% certain I wasn’t.

I have had some particularly vivid dreams which were astounding in detail and clarity, but nonetheless did not happen.  In the bygones days of academia I had quite realistic dreams of studying for exams and agonising over writing papers, which seemed to take hours.  The downer was that, upon waking up, one finds that the material was not actually studied, nor papers written.  So you have to go and repeat the exercise again, in real time.

Many years ago I had a particularly realistic dream of being out on maneuvers with an infantry platoon at a well-known exercise area in this province.  I could smell the dirt when we used our entrenching tools to dig in.  I could feel the cool evening breeze bringing relief from midsummer humidity.  When posted to night sentry duty, I assumed my post but was surprised by very stealthy enemy opponents.  Who turned out to be actual enemies (and not merely another CF force playing OPFOR in the exercise).  The dream ended with my helmeted head being yanked back and my throat slit, staring up at the twinkling stars that were slowly fading to black.  My last thought in dreamland was “Fuck , I failed my platoon.  They are going to get killed in their sleep”.  I woke up immediately afterward, and to my surprise, my throat actually hurt.  But nonetheless, however realistic this dream may have appeared, I am fairly certain it did not actually occur.  I’m still walking around, after all.

Only Senator Clinton knows for certain what her own recollections are from that 1996 trip to Bosnia. All of us from our own experience can vouch that the human mind can be deceptive in its recollection and experiences, which is why police work is so difficult.  Eyewitness testimony is sometimes liable to suggestion and can be horribly unreliable.  I hope for the Senator’s sake that this is, indeed, her own faulty memory and not a deliberate effort to mislead.

Category: Aut disce aut discede, Foreign Affairs  Tags: ,  Comments off