Archive for the 'Humour' Category

Yes, that’s why you’re here

March 23rd, 2009

The head of the cleaning company in my office brought in a new worker with him today.

While she was cleaning the floor, and emptying the garbage bins, in our manufacturing room I heard her complaining to him “There is a lot of garbage here!”. With an obvious tone indicating that it’s bothering her, and prevents her from doing her work quickly and easily.

Maybe it didn’t occur to her that if we didn’t have any dirt and garbage then we wouldn’t need anyone to clean?

Canada is not part of the united states

October 28th, 2008

Weird Tales are offering a free PDF copy of their July-August 2008 edition, as a promotion and a way for people to properly sample the magazine without having to gamble on the money to buy it.

The subscription price varies dramatically based on whether you are subscribing from within the US, or internationally. And by “dramatically” I mean the price doubles[1] for international shipping.

And if you look at the subscription option for US addresses, they want to really make sure you are from the US. They have this sections under “fine print” (all emphasis in the source):

This offer is only for addresses within the United States. Other countries, please use our discounted international subscription options:

Which, well, makes sense. But immediately bellow that, they also have:

CANADIANS PLEASE NOTE: YOU MUST USE THE INTERNATIONAL SUBSCRIPTION OPTION. CANADA IS NOT PART OF THE UNITED STATES. WE CANNOT SEND BULK MAIL TO CANADA, MUCH AS WE WOULD LIKE TO.

Which cracks me up. Are there really any Canadians out there who think that Canada is a part of the US? Real people, living in Canada, who actually believe that? And enough of them to make it an issue that justifies adding this to the page? That’s a weird tale right there.

And that’s not all. They also have a similar bit on the page for international subscription orders:

CANADIANS PLEASE NOTE: YOU MUST USE THIS INTERNATIONAL SUBSCRIPTION OPTION. CANADA IS NOT PART OF THE UNITED STATES. WE CANNOT SEND BULK MAIL TO CANADA, MUCH AS WE WOULD LIKE TO.

For anyone who wants to play spot-the-differences, in the US page the text says “You must use the international subscription option”, while in the international subscription page it says “You must use this international subscription option”. I guess it’s accurate enough, if also a bit amusing.

Apparently Canadians also either have much easier time reading in all-caps than the rest of us, or they generally enjoy being shouted at. Nothing else on those pages (except some very short headers, or “BUY” links) is in all-caps. HINT TO WEIRD TALES: DO NOT WRITE TEXT IN ALL CAPS. IT’S EXTREMELY HARD TO READ. AND IT’S RUDE. IF YOU WANT TO MAKE IT MORE OBVIOUS, USE A BIGGER OR STRONGER FONT. OK?

So, just to make it absolutely clear: Canada is not a part of the US. You might have been tipped by the fact that it has a different government, their own military force, a border, their own military force, independent legal system, their own military force, their own ambassadors and foreign relations, their own military force (it bears repeating, in case someone failed to notice), and so on and so forth. But if not, well, I’m glad I could join with Weird Tales and help to clarify matters.

On an unrelated issue (well, related to Weird Tales, not related to Canada), Weird Tales need to update the site link they print in the magazine. The free copy has in it at least 5 place where it asks you to go to www.WeirdTalesMagazine.com. That site just automatically redirects to their current actual address of WeirdTales.net. An address which was registered in Nov 2007, so it’s not quite a last-minute surprise, I should add. It’s not broken, but it looks unprofessional.

And it’s not just the old printed magazines (though, frankly July-August 2008 isn’t that old), the old address is still listed on the site used to order the subscriptions. That’s an online copy, easy to change.

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  1. $30 USD to $59.95 USD. That’s for 6 issues of Weird Tales, and apparently two special issues of H.P. Lovecraft’s Magazine of Horror[back]

Gasoline of the beast

September 7th, 2008

It’s pretty much a nonsense post, but I found it amusing, so why not bother the rest of humanity with it, right?

Last night I passed by the gas station to fill out my car’s tank.

The price of gasoline here has climbed to exactly 6.66 ILS per liter, which is what the display at the pump showed[1].

I passed my credit card in the pump, and entered my ID number. (A few years ago most pumps started to ask for ID numbers when you operate them yourself with a credit card. I have a hard time imagining a crime wave of people stealing credit cards only to rush to fill the gas tanks of their cars, but apparently that was imminent, as I can’t figure out another reason for this).

After the ID number the pump asked for my car’s license plate number. This is more recent, less than a year I think. Not all pumps on all gas stations do it, but the number is growing. In this case I think it’s not for crime prevention (it doesn’t stop you from entering whatever number you want), but rather to save work for people who need receipts for tax deductions. Previously you had to go to a worker at the station, and ask for a manual receipt, even if you filled the tank on your own. Something which wastes time and is quite bothersome.

I don’t tax-deduct my gas, so I don’t need my car’s license plate number on the receipt. And I don’t see any reason to give any more personal information than I really have to. So as a rule I just press the number “6″ once, and go with it[2].

And something happened to the keypad. This is a pump in a station, near my house, which I use a lot. And the keypad is usually clunky and unresponsive. But this night, I just gently touched the key, and it fired multiple time. First time this happened, in years. The result license plate number? “666″.

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  1. That’s 7 USD per gallon, with today’s exchange rate, just in case anyone is curious[back]
  2. I did mention that there’s no verification, right? “6″ is not a valid license plate number here, AFAIK[back]

This is why you should let someone experienced do surveys. Or, well, not.

July 1st, 2008

Surveys are complex. There is a lot that you can do wrong. Actually, looking at many surveys around, there is a lot that is done wrong. Time after time.

Sometime it’s the big stuff. Sometimes small.

Sometimes the surveys are not done to get answers, but to show what you want the answers to be, by skewing the questions. That’s bad for academic research, but very popular in politics.

And sometimes you really do want answers. Which is hard to do right. Ask the wrong question, ask them in the wrong way, or give the wrong options for answers, and the results may not say what you think they do, or may be impossible to analyse properly. That’s why there are those who deal professionally with surveys, know the theory (and, hopefully, statistics), have done it many times before, and should be able to avoid most of the mistakes.

They usually don’t do the really big mistakes.

A very long birth yearThey do, however, often do small, or really incomprehensible, mistakes. I guess finding a professional can be a problem as well.

Take, for example, a survey currently being run by iPerceptions , for InforWorld and ComputerWorld.

Both these clients are one client, belonging to the same company. And they do very similar things. So the surveys are practically identical (I did the ComputerWorld one originally, and just now noticed they also run it for InfoWorld. I progressed a little bit, and they’re the same questions in the same order with the same possible answers. Just the name of the company in the survey changed).

This survey has some strange points.

One main problem was that they apparently forgot that some questions may not apply. There was one (maybe 2-3) question where they did have an option to indicate the question is not relevant, or that I don’t know or can’t judge. For all the rest, and there were many of them, I was asked to rank the sites on many criteria, some of which really didn’t interest me and I didn’t know. But the options were just to rank.

Assuming that I’m not the only person who goes through a site that has many different sections, and doesn’t know (or use) all sections, this means that the answers they receive are worthless. What do you pick when you don’t know, or can’t rank? Do you say that it was excellent, since you don’t know it’s bad, causing a potential problematic part to appear good? Do you rank it as very lousy, since it didn’t do anything for you, thereby causing a potentially excellent service to appear bad? Do you rank it in the middle, trying not to judge either way, but still making anything really good, or really bad, seem more average and undeserving of attention?

This is why these things usually contain an answer to state that this question isn’t relevant for you, and you don’t have a real answer for it. But here, no. Good luck to them in the later analysis.

A second point is much less severe, but far more amusing and baffling.

In the personal details, at some point they asked for year of birth. And provided a field to type the year number in. With a maximum of 500 characters. Yes, you read that right, 500 characters to answer the question “In what year where you born?”. They also made the text box large enough to type a small essay in.

What sort of an answer where they expecting? Hmm… Maybe…

That’s a tough question, there. I don’t know what year I was born in. It was a cold, harsh, dark year for my family. My parents were moving a lot. I don’t have no birth certificate, ’cause they were always running from them cops. Who need a stinking certificate? My mom knew I was born. And I had a tough childhood, so people tell me I look 40, but I bet I’m younger. I don’t remember much from those years, really can’t say. Is this important? If it is, I can try remembering, just let me know. Yes?

That’s not a true story (for me, anyway), but it does have exactly 500 characters. For comparison, writing something like 2008, or 1912, takes 4 characters (as does “NOYB“). They could have even been generous, cover all their bases, and give 5-6 characters (You know, for time travellers, or for really really old people). Maybe 3 digits more, for a space followed by “AD”, in case they’re actually worried? A little longer still, so they can get “year of the dragon”? Why the heck 500 characters?

You want to know what’s even more strange? This is in the third part of the survey. In the first part they already asked most personal questions (gender, business, people working in same company, etc), including one about age. But there they just gave several age groups (e.g. 24-35 or something like that), so I suppose they really needed the birth year too.

Then again, if they ask for birth year, why bother asking for age? Odd, that.

Well, I was in a nice mood (this was more amusing than annoying), so I decided I’ll let them know. At the last page of the survey they had a link to provide feedback. I was actually impressed with that, since sometimes I have comments, and nobody official to tell them to. This was nice. Or so I thought.

It was a mailto style link, that contained an email address, and a prepared subject line with the code/number of this survey (Good idea, so they won’t have to wonder what survey it was, and I won’t have to try and describe it too much to ensure they identify it).

There was just one main problem with it. The email address they provided? It wasn’t correct.

I sent a message. I got back a bounce.

<info1@iperceptions.com>:
208.65.144.12 does not like recipient.
Remote host said: 553 mailbox info1@iperceptions.com is restricted (Mode: normal)
Giving up on 208.65.144.12.

Impressive. This is a company that specializes in running surveys. In getting feedback from people for their clients. Except they can’t seem to arrange to get feedback for themselves.

It seems like a typo. The “1″ in the email address does not belong. I checked later on their site, and this address is listed there, without the “1″, in their contact page. But, well, by that time I was out of the helpful mood, and into the annoyed and unimpressed one. Which I think is perfectly understandable.

Some basic math for waiters

October 8th, 2007

When a group of several people eat together at a restaurant (or bar, coffee shop, etc…) there are common ways to split the bill:

  • One person pays everything.
  • Split evenly.
  • Each pays for their own portion.

The exact values are of course a bit fluid on the last two options, since the numbers may be rounded. Currency is discrete rather than continuous, after all. Not only that, but it’s often simpler to divide up to the main coin and not the sub-coins[1].

The payment can be done by cash. In that case the people would usually just collect enough, pay with it, and divide the change between themselves when the change comes back. The work on properly dividing the charge is on the customers in these cases.

Sometimes, though, people pay with credit cards. Which means that many times the waiters will just receive a bunch[2] of cards, with simple instructions on how to divide the charge between them.

The common one is of course “Split it evenly”. And these are the cases where money is often rounded to higher coins, since apparently most waiters have a problem with fractions. I can recall maybe 1-2 cases, ever, where the individual charges weren’t rounded with one person paying the extra.

When things are not split evenly, well, that’s when the fun begins. And by “fun” I mean an all too common tragic comedy of errors.

The simple case is when the customers still calculate the amounts in advance. In this case the waiter receives exact instructions in the style of “Put 100 on this card, and 150 on that card”. Simple. Easy.

And they still sometimes manage to get it wrong:

  1. The bill comes back split evenly.
  2. The amounts are charged correctly, but on the wrong cards. In this example, the first card is charged 150, and the second 100.
  3. All of the cards are charged the same amount, which is one of the sub-amounts. So, for example, for this 250 bill either both cards will be charged 100, or both will be charged 150.
  4. Some of the cards may be charged correctly, and some will be charged an unrelated amount. This is because the complexity of the task got the waiter confused and he/she charged an amount due for another customer entirely.

I had all of these happen to me, as a customer in restaurants.

One time I had two of them happen in a series. The waitress made a mistake (#3 above), I alerted her, and she came back with a “correction” that included another type of mistake (#4 above). When there’s a charge, and a cancellation, as a customer you’re requested to sign on both. If you simply don’t sign on the charge, it creates all sorts of complications. So I ended up having to sign five times for my bill that day. What did I tell you? Fun!

It also happens, though, that the job of dividing the charge is placed on the waiter. Sometimes the customers know the difference between what they’re supposed to be billed for, but not the final amount.

In which cases someone has to do the calculation. It’s a simple enough calculation, you know the total, and you know the differences.

And the natural tendency would be to let the waiter do it. People just had a meal, are finishing up, and they need to pay the bill. Why would they want to do the work, as easy as it is, when there’s a waiter that will have to process the charges anyway and is being paid for it?

Makes sense.

Except it doesn’t. Because many waiters seem a bit deficient in the math department.

The latest time this happened to me was a couple of weeks ago. I was finishing a meal with a friend. We basically shared the dishes, so almost everything was supposed to be split evenly. The only difference was that I had an extra glass of some medium-pricey alcohol.

The waitress arrived, and saw the two credit cards on the tray with the bill. The dialog between me and the waitress went something like that:

Waitress: Should I split this up?
Me: Yes, but it’s 70 more on this card.
Waitress: Right. 70 on this card, and the rest on the other card.
Me: No. Split it between the cards, so that this card is charged by 70 more than the other card.
Waitress: Eh…
Waitress: Hmm….
Waiterss: I’m…. err… not….
Me: It’s simple. Just split evenly, add 35 to this card, and reduce the other 35 from the other card.
Waitress: Ah. Yes. OK, sure.

And this is the math lesson for today. If you want to divide a sum X between N people so that everyone pays the same except for one who pays an extra Y, this is what you do:

  1. Divide X by N. Let’s call that A for average. You already know how to do that. This A would be what you’d charge each card if you had to split evenly.
  2. Divide Y by N. Let’s call that B. This value is like the average of the differences. Mathematically it’s the exact same process as the previous step, so if you knew how to do it, you know how to do that.
  3. Everyone, except the person who has to pay more, pays A-B. You know how to do subtraction already. It’s the same thing you’d do if someone paid part by cash and part by credit card, and you’d have had to reduce the cash amount from the total to get the credit card charge.
  4. The person who has to pay more pays A + [(N-1)*B]. Basically all the B’s you reduced from the bills of the other people, you add to this one’s bill. You already know how to do addition too. It’s just like what you’d do if someone asked you to charge the tip on the card as well, telling you how much is the charge and how much is the tip. You already know how to do multiplication as well, it’s what you’d do if you got everyone else’s cards and they all told you they have to pay B.

That’s it. Easy. Simple steps. And these are all things that waiters are supposed to know how to do already.

Except sometimes they don’t.

In this case, for example, I was indeed charged 35 more. The other card? Charged exactly the amount of an even split.

Wait, wait, I know what you’re thinking. In this case it would mean that the total would come to 35 more than the real total, right? So the waitress, or at least the cash register computer, should notice something is off, right?

Right.

But they had a simple solution for that. You see, the final bill came back printed with three items:

  • Credit card charge : A
  • Credit card charge : A+35
  • Refund : -35

So the total was absolutely correct, making the waitress feel perfectly happy about it. No problem if it all adds up, after all.

Except that, of course, we didn’t get that refund. The bill did not come back with 35 cash, nor did one of the credit cards get a refund (which would have kind of defeated the whole purpose, but at least would have meant the amount of money passed from us to the restaurant would have been correct).

Our poor waitress didn’t quite see the problem. It all adds up after all, and the total is right. Luckily another waitress/supervisor did see the light immediately after a very brief explanation.

Waiters should learn a little basic math. Me, I should learn not to trust waiters to do even the most basic math. I think I learned my lesson. Now it’s their turn.

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  1. OK, Poor terminology here. I mean that, for example, to split 25$ between to people you’d sometimes, often, see one charged 13$ and one 12$, rather than 12.5$ each.[back]
  2. 2 is also valid for “bunch”[back]

Now even random spammers believe I think too highly of myself

September 19th, 2007

From a spam email I received today, after the link to their site:

Greeting yaron
get rid of that self-esteem once and for all.

I think I’ll keep my self-esteem, but nice of them to offer.

No entry. Seriously.

September 11th, 2007

No entry sign, but there's no roadThe standard No Entry / Do Not Enter road sign is pretty, well, standard.

Almost all over the world, the same red circle with a white horizontal bar.

And it means pretty much the same thing, all over the world, including here. An indication that the road it is attached to is going the other way, and it’s forbidden to drive into it.

Where do you usually see those signs? At the exit of one-way streets, pointing the other way. Often at both edges of the road, to be visible from all directions.

Where do you usually don’t see those signs? On places which are not roads, and where no driver will try to turn to anyway.

Such as, say, at a side of a road where there’s no turning, no diverging road, and surrounding a large concrete and wood pillar standing ahead of several trees.

That’s the theory, anyway. In practice, as you can see, it sometimes works differently.

Things to avoid when trying to get your prosecutor assassinated

August 22nd, 2007

Say you were sentenced to 30 months in prison for forgery. And say you think it’s the prosecutor’s fault (Because, after all, it can’t really be something you did, right?). What would you do?

That’s right, you’d try to get the prosecutor assassinated, to punish him for not being able to show on trial that you’re not really a dangerous criminal. Makes perfect sense.

Then you need to pick the right hitman. It’s complex. There are, for example, some things you may want to void:

  1. Your first choice of a hitman should not be the judge that tried you. Judges make terrible assassins. And they often refuse these jobs. Go figure.
  2. If you do want to hire the judge to be your assassin, make sure to offer enough money to make this a real offer. For example, a district court judge in Texas would probably expect much more than $5,000[1].
  3. If you do offer the judge the small money, and he turns you down, your next best option is not the lawyer who was your defense attorney during the trial. Lawyers are bad assassins as well. And your defense attorney knows what a slimeball you really are, even if he lied and said nice things about you during the trial.
  4. If you do try for the defense attorney, at least offer him more money then you offered the judge. You should already know that’s not enough money by now. Defense attorneys often don’t earn that much less than judges. Not necessarily even the lousy ones.
  5. Oh, and stick to your target. Don’t change your mind and ask him to actually kill the judge. Yes, it was very rude of the judge to turn down your offer. But killing a judge would cost extra. And besides, the prosecutor is still out there, right?
  6. When you make all these offers, don’t write them on paper with your own handwriting. Don’t touch that paper with your fingers to add your fingerprints to it. Those things are, like, proof, you know? It can get you a much longer jail time than those forgery charges.

All very sensible and sound advice.

Someone didn’t get the memo. Probably didn’t get a lot of working braincells either.

Galveston County District Court Judge David Garner said Connelly, 34, of Santa Fe, was among those defendants who “think outside the box” for allegedly writing a letter offering him $5,000 to kill former prosecutor Donnie Quintanilla, now in private practice in Galveston.

Connelly wrote a second letter to his defense attorney, Houston lawyer Jonathan Cox, offering him $5,000 to kill Garner, special prison prosecutor Alice Gregg said.

He will get the jailtime, though. And hey, maybe the next judge would be more cooperative, who knows?

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  1. That’s not even a single month’s salary[back]

Medical patients and the drug problems they don’t have

September 6th, 2006

Some people don’t understand that using drugs, not to mention very large amounts of serious drugs, can have side effects. Bad side effects, I mean, not just seeing the pretty colours.

Like the guy from this story, coming to the ER totally out and in shock. But his friend is sure it’s not related to the tons of drugs he’s on because… he does that often and usually doesn’t react badly. So sad it’s actually very funny.

I personally saw an event that went in a totally different direction, a few years ago. A patient came to an ophthalmologist, to have his eyes examined, because they were red and itching.

In the examination it looked like he had acute conjunctivitis[1]. A viral infection. And yes, it’s easy to tell the different kinds of conjunctivitis apart, usually. It’s surprising in how many obviously different ways, under magnification, the tissue can react, when all you see without magnification is red and some swelling.

The doctor gave him a prescription for steroidal drops to reduce the inflammation[2]. And also gave him the usual explanations on how to avoid infecting others in the meantime.

A real problem, and he received treatment. Nobody questioned him about what happened, or hinted in any way that his problem may be anything else than the viral infection it was.

And yet before he left the guy felt the need to explain that his eyes are red because he has a problem, not because he’s been smoking marijuana. He said that he doesn’t smoke drugs. In case it wasn’t clear enough, he further clarified that it’s not just that he doesn’t smoke, it’s that he doesn’t do drugs at all. And he repeated that therefore his eyes are not red because of drug use. Can’t be, since he isn’t smoking or using any.

He repeated that several times, stressing the point. Before he calmed down, and left, the doctor had to assure him that he believes him, and that the eyes have another legitimate reason to be red.

Of course, marijuana does other things beside making people’s eyes redder. And just because there’s something else that makes the eyes red, doesn’t mean there’s no marijuana in the body anyway. Just saying.

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  1. Inflammation of the conjunctiva, the white part of the eyes[back]
  2. Germs are easy, there are plenty of good antibiotics. Viruses are harder, usually you just reduce the symptoms and wait until they die off by themselves after a couple of weeks[back]

Referrer log roundup, the fifth

July 28th, 2006

It’s time for yet another post where I either mock (usually), or take seriously (rarely), search phrases people typed into search engines just in order to get to… well… here.

These are all real. People actually searched for these phrases I underline here, and for some reason one of the pages found were on this blog.

It so happens that I have a large amount of them lately, so I think I’ll split this batch. A few will come now, and the rest on another post in a few days.

before changing into another lane you should?
Signal. Actually, in your case, if you have to look for this on the Internet then you probably shouldn’t be driving, so it’s a trick question.

everybody is stupid
Yes.

INCONSIDERATE CO-WORKERS WITH LOUD RADIO
Buy earplugs. Otherwise you’re the inconsiderate co-worker who forces everyone to work without some music. Or, option two, find some music you like, and play it even louder. Or at least closer. Headphones work too.

friend loaned me their car i was arrested car was impounded how do i get a car out of impound
It’s the friend’s car. I’m afraid the friend will have to go to take it out of impound. Sorry, but if you hope to keep this a secret from your friend, well, life’s hard. On the bright side, maybe this will teach your friend that he, or she, needs a better taste in friends.

why eyelid flickers naturally
Normally for two reasons. The first is that it helps to keep the eye clean, and the second is that it keeps the eye moist. All important if you want to avoid serious eye damage.

LAPD recruit drug usage limit
I’m not sure, but I expect and hope that they put the limit at no usage at all. Yeah, bummer, I know. Looks like you won’t be accepted.

private viewing disqualifies my security clearance
Well, next time when you’re having a security clearance try not to view your privates in public.

what disqualifies you for a security clearance?
Private viewing, apparently. Possibly also drug-usage. Working for the other side is also a good disqualifier. Asking stupid questions usually doesn’t, though, so you may be in the clear.

“long hair” intelligence
Sorry, but so far there is no research indicating a relationship between intelligence and length of hair. Apart from the fact that subjectively many people feel pretty stupid when their hair is so long it drags on the floor and collects dirt, anyway. If you’re a bible reader, though, there is at least one anecdotal reference to a correlation between hair length and strength. But personally I believe muscles are a better indicator for that.

pregnant belly how they look like
Have you seriously never seen a pregnant woman before in your life? Seriously??

what does the acronym lol mean in webmail
I’m still Laughing Out Loud thinking about you getting an email with this and not understanding.

is it illegal to have homework in the summer?
No.

aria words
Your best bet would be to search in the Aria Database. They don’t have everything, but they do have quite a lot.

fully clothed porn links
Someone looking for porn with fully-clothed people… A little unclear on the concept.

REPUBLIC OF cHINA 2005+hotmail address
ways of making legistimate money on the internet
free emailer equipped bcc without any one notice another
+1 “email address of BUSINESS MEN”
Just three of these came from addresses in Nigeria. But we all know what they really want to do, right?

“how to send spam”
This came from Poland. At least they’re honest.

sure fire way to make my money grow
Sorry, dude. If I had one I would have used it myself. But a good one is to study hard, and then work hard. You don’t need me to tell you this, though.

how to annoy people online at aim with aim bots
You don’t have to annoy people with AIM bots. The AIM bots annoy people all by themselves.

I speak Hebrew/Latin to God, English to my friends, Italian to the ladies, Spanish to my maid, and German to my car
So Google is your friend, I take it, since you speak to it in English. Well, let me tell you, you’d get better results out of this friend if you’ll speak to it in a Language it can understand. For example, if you’re looking for a quotation, put the phrase in double-quotes. That will help immensely. Oh, yes, and speak to your therapist about speaking to your car, you need help.

quotes for idiots
quotes for idiotism
I have two right here.

marry is a lesbo
Thanks for sharing. And I was so looking to that date…

perfect women
You won’t find her on the Internet, you dork. You’re looking in the wrong place.

israeli salary in ILS
See, the surprising thing about Israel is that we have this really crazy economic system. Which includes some totally insane stuff like paying different salaries for different jobs in different places. Seriously. Not all Israelis earn the same. Amazing, eh?

killing cockroaches freezing
That will work. But if you already have the cockroach in a box, or a bag, it would be faster and easier to just squish it instead of putting it in the freezer. And there are some more hi-tech alternatives coming soon.

dark chocolate dangers
It tastes good. Which is a very dangerous thing if you’re trying to keep a diet.

secret phone code
The code is… No, wait, sorry, I can’t tell you. It’s a secret.

causes for 2005 minivan engine not to start “after frontal collision”
This is just a wild guess, but I think the reason the engine doesn’t start has something to do with it being smashed in a frontal collision.

Accidental Insulin sprayed in eyes
How did you manage to do THAT? I’m totally flummoxed. Insulin doesn’t come in anything that accidentally sprays. You’ll have to put it into a syringe, and drip it into your eyes on purpose. Which is totally pointless since it doesn’t do much of anything like that. I think the most important thing for you will be to try injecting your insulin when you’re not totally stoned, OK?

unhealthy for eyes to wear sunglasses all the time
No, it isn’t. Not unless you get actual glass lenses, stretch that “all the time” to include when sleeping, and then manage to roll over and break the glass into your eyes. But apart from that you’re perfectly safe as long as the sunglasses are halfway decent. Oh, yes, and as long as it’s not so dark that with the sunglasses you’re blind, because that can cause accidents too.

besides drinking “red bull” other uses include
Funny, I never figured this stuff to be drinkable. You’re way ahead of me in uses of it already, can’t help you, sorry.

Opening beer bottles without a can opener

July 2nd, 2006

There’s this site, 1000 Arten ein Bier zu öffnen (I believe a rough translation would be “1,000 ways to open beer” or something of the sort), that depicts lots of ways in which one can open a beer bottle.

So far the list merely goes to 984, but there’s noticeable progress.

It’s in German, but that doesn’t matter because they have pictures. Three for each method: before, during, and after.

Many are boring, just using various surfaces. But some are quite bizarre, and plenty are truly hilarious.

The most complex and expensive way of killing cockroaches yet

July 2nd, 2006

Researchers from Brussels, in a research funded by the EU (for a sum of 3 million Euro), have developed a small robot that smells like a cockroach.

OK, that was an overly simplistic way of presenting it.

The kick in the mandibles comes from a Belgian-led team who spent three years developing a mini robot that can convince cockroaches to creep out of dark holes and gather in light places. The InsBot looks more like a pencil sharpener than a household pest, but it smells like a cockroach.

The InsBot has a cocktail of pheromones and molecules painted on its body, allowing it to infiltrate the cockroach community.

Imagine, working for three years just to develop something that smells like a cockroach. Wouldn’t it have been better instead to work on something that can take away the smell of one once you crush it? These bugs stink.

Cockroaches, it turns out, are very social creatures. No, really. Yes, yes, I know that staying put even after you yell at someone to get the heck out of your house is usually considered a very asocial behaviour. They’re not social with people. Just with other cockroaches. Go figure.

And if there’s something they think is another cockroach, like a mini-robot with the right smell, they’ll tend to get friendly and stick around. So if the robot slowly wanders around near them, and then goes and stand outside on the floor, a bunch of them are likely to congregate around it.

Yes, that sounds strange to me too. Because I’ve seen many cockroaches in my life, but it was always one on one[1].

But the researches say that cockroaches tend to stick together in group. And they spent three years of intense study, not nearly thirty years of sporadic encounters. So maybe they do know better than me.

Now you must be wondering what is so exciting about being able to get the cockroaches to stick around the robot. Does it shoot them? Electrocute them? Spreads poisonous bug-spray on them? No. That won’t be fun. It won’t be sporting. And it won’t allow them to release that disgusting smell of squashed cockroaches.

The plan, the 3 million Euro plan, is far simpler, and much more direct. It could draw them all out into the middle of the floor, where a person could squash them with a shoe. Or, if there are enough of them around, maybe jump around in a marry little dance crunching and stomping cockroaches under heel with every step. How fun.

Can you imagine the cost of the extra software and electronics needed to allow the timing to be right? Because this is not automatic. Automatic means you’ll have cockroach parties in the middle of the living room when you’re sleeping, or out at work.

So there will need to be some signalling mechanism, or some pre-set timer. Letting the robot know when is it the right time to draw the little cockroaches in so you could step on them.

I wonder if it will take another research just to come out with the fact that the cockroaches, while highly social, are not entirely insane. When a person comes stomping in, do you think they’ll stay and keep the little robot company? Hell, no! They’ll scatter around, leaving the poor stomper in no better position than had he[2] just spotted a lone cockroach randomly.

Plus, how is one expected to go around stomping cockroaches when smack down in the middle of them there’s a complex, and expensive, electronic device, in the form of our erstwhile robot? You put down your leg too hard, you’ll break the robot. Unless the robot is very tough, in which case you’ll break the leg. None of the two options seems appealing.

So, given all the problems that I can think of[3], why are they still doing it? Are cockroaches really such a big problem?

In a breakthrough for the battle against mankind’s most diehard enemy – the cockroach – European scientists have hoodwinked a group of them into congregating in a place where they can be stamped on easily.

Aha! Cockroaches are mankind’s most diehard enemy.

Our greatest, and toughest, enemies. And all the EU invests in fighting them is a measly 3 million Euro fund?! And a small group of researchers from just one university?! All this with no assistance by other world countries and superpowers?!

Shocking. Truly shocking.

Plus, while fighting such a dangerous, tough, vicious, insidious, and diehard enemy, they put in the research team a traitor who sympathizes with the enemy. Seriously:

But, for now, Deneubourg is not taking his eye off cockroaches which he describes as ‘no dirtier than flies’ and victims of a ‘bad press’.

Bad press. Would that be the same press calling them “mankind’s most diehard enemy”, I wonder?

He believes it will soon be possible to develop an ‘intelligent roach nest’ in which robots are positioned to tease the creepy-crawlies into human stamping range.

Brr. Am I the only one getting odd vibes from the Terminator movies, with the robots designed to look like humans and infiltrate into their camps in order to betray them to the machines to be killed?

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  1. Me and the cockroach, Mano a mano. Two begin, but only one comes out alive. And it’s not the cockroach, let me tell you.[back]
  2. Women don’t squish cockroaches, they yell “Ewwww!” loudly, and wait for a man to come and do it.[back]
  3. And I did it with no funding, and hardly any time invested in research. So they, with the time and funding, probably came out with more.[back]

Fun toy

June 27th, 2006

Because there’s nothing that screams “cool toy here!” louder than a surplus gas-mask.

We had (still have) gas-masks at home. From all the tension with Iraq way back when, before it came under U.S. occupation. What a pity we kept them closed in the box, apart from those few cases we had to put them on and get into an airtight shelter.

If only someone would have pointed out the fun aspects back then… I could have played, and played, and played. Ah, the fun I didn’t have, for simple lack of imagination.

Leave the toilet paper alone

June 20th, 2006

Sudoku toilet paperLook, we all know why people buy toilet paper, where they put it, and what they most likely plan on doing with it. Right?

When toilet paper rolls with delicate designs such as light drawings of flowers, puppies, or abstract shapes came out, I didn’t really get it. I care about the texture, but not about how it looks like.

Ideally I prefer not to look at toilet paper. Not for long.

But apparently everything is a market, and even toilet paper makers have aspirations and imagination.

Black toilet paperA few weeks ago I discovered there’s black toilet paper. Deep uniform rolls of black toilet paper. Quite pricey, too.

And now I see another version, going not for the artistic angle, but for the useful-pastime angle. Sudoku toilet paper. With a new Sudoku puzzle on every sheet.

What toilet paper innovations are we likely to see next?

That’s one way to convince yourself God doesn’t exist

June 11th, 2006

Some guy in Kiev found a unique way to show, or maybe test, his faith in God. He went into the lion’s den in a zoo, expecting God to save him:

“The man shouted ‘God will save me, if he exists,’ lowered himself by a rope into the enclosure, took his shoes off and went up to the lions,” the official said.

The result was not a big surprise. Expect, perhaps, to the man himself:

“A lioness went straight for him, knocked him down and severed his carotid artery.”

I’m not exactly sure what was it supposed to prove. If the guy believed God existed, and that God would protect him, he should have said that instead of an “if he exists”.

Because even assuming God does exist, and is actually bored enough to bail stupid people out of lions’ dens (Mind you, there’s only recorded case, Daniel, and that poor sap didn’t exactly venture into one of his own free will, or solely in order to see if God will save him. Even if you accept that biblical case as fact, a single instance is still a long way from proving God will save anyone going in front of a bunch of lions), this sounds more like a challenge by a sceptic. So it would be perfectly understandable if God would decide to let someone like that become a meal.

Another option is, of course, that God exists, but is the God the lioness believed in. It can be rather safely argued that when you’re stuck in a middle of a large cage, it would actually take an act of God to get an extra-large protein-pack jump in and walk towards you while making loud noises.

Then again, maybe God doesn’t exist. In that case the events that took place also make perfect sense. It just begs the question of why did the idiot jump in there, if he wasn’t sure himself. Him being killed doesn’t prove the point one way or the other.

Actually, him not getting killed wouldn’t have proven the point either. But it might have had a stronger case if he walked in there claiming his belief in God, instead of merely claiming it was an option he was testing.

In addition to the story itself the article provided some background information that I found to be of… questionable value:

The incident, on Sunday evening when the zoo was packed with visitors, was the first of its kind at the attraction.

So normally people don’t jump into the Lion’s den at that zoo claiming God will save them if he exists? Good to know. Still, the lion’s God be willing, maybe it will be the beginning of a trend.