Goliath Encounter: Puppy-Sized Spider Surprises Scientist in Rainforest

Photo at the link. Knock yourself out.

But wait! There’s more!

The sound of little hooves in the night

The “hooves” in this instance are the claws of the puppy-spider in question clicking on rocks and stuff as it goes stomping around.


On the one hand, there is a good, rational case to be made for not freaking out, for not panicking, for maintaining a rational outlook. On the other hand, there is a good case to be made for caution. But Ebola seems to make people ignore both of these. And it seems to be making people *stupid.* For example:

Thomas Duncan*knew* he had been in contact with Ebola, yet thought it’d be a good idea to fly halfway across the planet.

Nurse Amber Vinson, who worked with known Ebola victim Thomas Duncan, decided to hop *two* jetliners and fly across the country.

A worker at the same hospital who “may have” handled Ebola samples thought it’d be a good idea to hop on board a *cruise* *ship* and has now been quarantined in the Caribbean.

It’s almost as if one of the symptoms of Ebola is an unaccountable urge to travel and spread the virus.

But at least now President Obama has selected an “Ebola Czar” to deal with the issue. Who? One “Ron Klain,” someone not immediately familiar. So who is this guy? What are his medical credentials? Well, fortunately he has a Wikipedia page:

Ronald A. “Ron” Klain is an American lawyer and political operative best known for serving as Chief of Staff to two Vice Presidents – Al Gore (1995–1999) and Joseph Biden (2009–2011).[1][2] He is an influential Democratic Party insider. Earlier in his career, he was a law clerk for Supreme Court Justice Byron White during the Court’s 1987 and 1988 Terms and worked on Capitol Hill, where he was Chief Counsel to the Senate Judiciary Committee during the Clarence Thomas Supreme Court nomination. He was portrayed by Kevin Spacey in the HBO film Recount depicting the tumult of the 2000 presidential election.



State rep defends ‘Machine Gun Social’

Ummm… okay, so we’ve got a Republican Ohio state rep who’s going to have a public campaign fundraiser – called a “Machine Gun Social” – where there will be a few fully automatic weapons available for the public to shoot. As far as campaign fundraisers go, that sounds like a hoot (caveat: there will be only one gun at a time and it will be mechanically locked so it can’t shoot anywhere but downrange). Who could have a problem with that? Why… the Republican’s Democrat opponent, who opines:

“It’s hard to imagine the words “machine gun” and “social” in the same sentence. It’s an oxymoron. It doesn’t jive. It causes cognitive dissonance. … In my opinion, there is nothing social about machine guns, ever. They are weapons. The reason they exist is to kill people.



South Carolina Prosecutors Say Stand Your Ground Doesn’t Apply To Victims Of Domestic Violence

No commentary necessary.

Well, crap. My plans, developed yesterday after my car died and got left at the shop, was that I’d spend this weekend working on CAD drafting and modeling. But a small issue has arisen what stomped on those plans.

Starting a few weeks ago, I developed a recurring pain in my right shoulder. Some days it was there, some days not. At it’s worst, it would prevent me from raising the arm very far, but that mostly inconvenienced thing like raising items over my head. Didn’t interfere with the computer or driving. Yesterday it was fine.

This morning I awoke to agony. I have been unable to raise the arm at all, except for straight out to the side (which is not terribly useful for most common applications). The right hand and elbow function, but the shoulder? It hurts hanging straight down; it screams in any other position. The end result is that I can position this little netbook so I can type and post my gibberish, but proper manipulation of a mouse has proved impossible so far, stymieing my plans to get some damned work done.

Like as not, tomorrow (Sunday) my shoulder will be more or less fine. But it’s also possible that the pain will be worse, and then there’s Monday when I still won’t have my car.

A few years back I had tennis elbow; this feels much like that, except on a grander scale. Choking down as much aspirin and ibuprofin as I feel comfortable with has not noticeably knocked down the pain, nor slathering on stuff like Ben Gay or Voltaren. The tennis elbow took more than a year to fade away, but there was one treatment that resulted in pretty substantial pain reduction: jamming a big-ass needle into the joint and pumping it full of steroids. If the same sort of issue is the problem here… I shudder to imagine what sort of icepick of a hypodermic would be called for. Bleah.

Here’s a tip: there may not be any good places to make jokes about having Ebola… but on board an airliner? Just about the *worst* possible place. Not only will you inconvenience, annoy and in some cases panic the other passengers, you will make the stewardess get on the PA system and call you an idiot.

At least the bulk of the passengers seen here seem to be taking it well. That seems to be one of the features of the Ebola outbreak… the authorities and the media are freaking the hell out, but the general populace? Meh.

embedded by Embedded Video

YouTube Direkt

Yes, yes, freedom of speech. But airplanes have *long* been places of limited humor. Joking about hijackings or bombs, for instance, would get your kiester in a sling decades ago.

I have been giving vague consideration to flying back home a few months from now. But considering the state of my lungs, the crappy recycled quality of the air and the presence of coughing, hacking strangers in close proximity, I’d probably only do so wearing a dust mask or some such. But now I wonder: if I did so, would I cause a passenger, crew or official freakout? Or, perhaps, would I be just one of a number of passengers so equipped?

You know how when things are obviously turning to gaFrom the rbage you can rely on government officials to downplay the situation? How the Department of Defense is all about the “we can defend the US, full stop” certainty? Yeah…

From the Defense.gov website:

Kelly: Southcom Keeps Watch on Ebola Situation

The potential spread of Ebola into Central and Southern America is a real possibility, the commander of U.S. Southern Command told an audience at the National Defense University here yesterday.

“By the end of the year, there’s supposed to be 1.4 million people infected with Ebola and 62 percent of them dying, according to the [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention],” Marine Corps Gen. John F. Kelly said. “That’s horrific. And there is no way we can keep Ebola [contained] in West Africa.”

“If it breaks out, it’s literally, ‘Katie bar the door,’ and there will be mass migration into the United States,” Kelly said. “They will run away from Ebola, or if they suspect they are infected, they will try to get to the United States for treatment.”


In 1972 the Holland America cruise ship S.S. Statendam set sail for a spot off the coast of Florida where the passengers got to watch the launch of Apollo 17. Also held on board was the 4th Conference on Planetology and Space Mission Planning. This conference, as described at http://up-ship.com/blog/?p=6879 , was a complete disaster. It was a sad, sad tale of lost opportunities and odd choices. It has also largely faded from memory.

I have a photocopy of the brochure selling the cruise and conference, and have scanned it in as a PDF. The quality is not spectacular, but it’s nevertheless an interesting bit of aerospace history. I’ve posted the PDF for $5 APR Patreon patrons over HYAR.

When I was struggling, a quarter century ago, to get my aerospace engineering degree, it was abundantly clear that there was a distinct disparity between the numbers of males and females in the engineering, math and science courses I took. It was not unusual for a class of thirty or so to boast a whopping four of the fairer sex. This tended to make those four very popular. Granted my memories of the time are faded, jaded and biased, but I don’t recall so much “oh, boo, there are girls invading our traditionally male-only spaces” so much as “oh, boy! Girls! Interested in the same stuff as us!! Maybe they’ll notice us!” Grant also that I have no idea what it is like to have several dozen hormone-driven nerds take an interest in me, so maybe that was less thrilling for the gals in the classes than it may have seemed to the guys.

I do remember more than a few run-ins with  femynist cause-heads who would for some reason berate me for that male/female disparity… but when I asked them if *they* were planning on taking Differential Equations and Calculus Three, never mind Statics, Dynamics, Orbital Mechanics or any of the rest, there was not a whole lot of “well, yes, sign me up.” The simple fact seems to be that the reason why there are (or at least *were*) fewer female-types in the engineering classes was because fewer female-types *wanted* to be engineers.

Why might that be? I am sufficiently politically incorrect and observant to suggest that there are some differences between the sexes that cannot be glossed over with post-1960′s propaganda. And some of these differences might simply make women naturally statistically less interested than men in becoming engineers. But it is also abundantly clear that there is at least *some* cultural component. While there have been women scientists and engineers for a little short of forever, they have, at least until recently, been viewed by society as odd or worse. One might’ve thought that those days should be over, at least overtly. Ever since Barbie got a talkin’-to over stating that “Math is hard,” it has been bad form to suggest that girls give STEM a pass.

But then this happened:

‘Science’ Center Teaches Boys Rocketry, Girls Makeup.

The Carnegie Science Center is shown advertising a series of science/engineering related workshops for Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts. The listings for the Boy Scouts actually looks pretty good… I know that if they had been offered to 10-year old *me,* I woulda been all over ‘em. But the listing for the Girls is… well…


What is “Science With A Sparkle?” Apparently it has nothing to do with pyrotechnics or Cerenkov radiation. Instead:

Prepare to be dazzled! Dive into chemistry and learn how science relates to health and beauty products. Become a cosmetic chemist and concoct your own creations to take home.



“Health and beauty products?” Now, if the “health” products that the workshop were aiming towards were cures for Ebola, cancer and socialism, hey, that’d be great. But I suspect that’s not really it. More like “this is how to use makeup,” I’m guessing.

Now, the Boy Scouts and the Girl Scouts are, to the best of my recollection, wholly unrelated organizations, sharing only a portion of their names. But for  activities like this, can anyone come up with a good reason why the two organizations can’t work together to create *joint* science & engineering courses? Any good reason why they must be segregated? And if there’s a valid reason for the segregation, any reason why they can’t simply use the same facilities, equipment, books and instructors and such *twice?*


On a related matter: I keep hearing about sexism among comic book fans, sci-fi fans, gamers, cosplayers, etc. To a certain limited degree, such things are inevitable. But to a larger degree… dude, if’n yer a nerd, what THE HELL are you doing making life rough for a girl who shares your interests? What, are you a fricken’ moron? Forget the moral and ethical reasons for not treating females like trash. Simply do the math. If you don’t already, you will, soon enough, be attracted to women and want them to be attracted to *you.* But here’s the thing: if you are a sci-fi/comic-book/gamer/whatever nerd, most women *won’t* be naturally attracted to you, because you are a social outlier. How do you change that without abandoning the interests that give you some measure of happiness? Well, it’s *not* by bitching about how The Hot Chicks just want the Dumb Jocks. What you want to find are females who *share* your interests. And being a scumbag to ‘em will not help. Not only will you immediately mark yourself as a scumbag, you will make them less interested in those very hobbies that could have made them interested in *you.*

So if’n yer a geek-guy and you see another geek-guy being a dirtbag to a geek-girl, whap the dumbass upside the head. Not so much in order to make him re-evaluate his life and improve his chances of finding true love, but to make him stop driving females away from *you.* (Note: do no do this publicly. Do not advertise it to women. Nobody likes a “white knight.” You and your metaphorical fedora will get mocked.)


Also: behold the irony. This blog post is based on the above-linked posting at “Wonkette,” which appears to be a feminist political blog. Fine. But at least on my screen, the right-hand side of the page has vertical banner ads… including a Calvin Klein ad with women in an incomplete state of dress. Men get in trouble for looking at semi-nekkid women. But apparently feminists make money by displaying semi-nekkid women to other women. Shrug.


Patient at Dallas hospital isolated after showing signs of Ebola virus

Patient apparently had travel history in Ebola-land. All other details lacking.



Ebola case is the first diagnosed in the U.S.

A few things:

1) It’s not the first case of Ebola in the US. There was a minor outbreak of Ebola in Reston, VA, in 1989/90, but fortunately while the Reston variant turned Rhesus monkeys into molten puddles of misery, it didn’t really do anything to humans.

2) When the patient flew in from Liberia, he was infected but asymptomatic. He didn’t start showign symptoms for another 4 days or so. The conventional wisdom is that Ebola is not infectious before symptoms emerge. I guess we’ll see…

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