Dazzling Knowledge

Thursday, July 31, 2008

10 things to not worry about

Read this refreshing article to find out why you don't have to be concerned about these ten things:

1. Killer hot dogs.
2. Your car’s planet-destroying A/C.
3. Forbidden fruits from afar.
4. Carcinogenic cellphones.
5. Evil plastic bags.
6. Toxic plastic bottles.
7. Deadly sharks.
8. The Arctic’s missing ice.
9. The universe’s missing mass.
10. Unmarked wormholes.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Awesome story of the day

Two German police officers responding to a complaint about loud party noise on Saturday night were met with cheers and applause from the guests who mistook them for male strippers.

“A young woman was giving a party and there seems to have been some confusion initially because the partygoers thought the two officers were a strip act,” a spokesman for the police in the south-western town of Simmern told SPIEGEL ONLINE on Monday.

Male strippers often dress as policemen and the line “We’ve been called to investigate a disturbance” can serve as a cue for them to discard their uniforms and perform an erotic dance.
Not this time though. “The misunderstanding was swiftly resolved and calm was restored,” the spokesman said. “And there was no theft of any parts of the uniforms.”

Monday, July 28, 2008

Want to become Batman?

Scientific American interviews a kinesiologist to find out what it would take to become the Dark Knight.

What have comic books and movies told us about Batman's physical

There's a quote from Neal Adams, the great Batman illustrator, who said Batman would win, place or show in every event in the Olympics. Probably if I were Batman's handler, I'd put him in the decathlon. Although Batman is shown in the comics as being the fastest and the strongest and all these other things, in reality you can't actually be all of that at once. To be Batman properly, what you really need to do is be exceptionally good at many different things. It's when you take all the pieces and put them together that you get the Batman.

What's most plausible about portrayals of Batman's skills?

You could train somebody to be a tremendous athlete and to have a significant martial arts background, and also to use some of the gear that he has, which requires a lot of physical prowess. Most of what you see there is feasible to the extent that somebody could be trained to that extreme. We're seeing that kind of thing in less than a month in the Olympics.

What's less realistic?

A great example is in the movies where Batman is fighting multiple opponents and
all of a sudden he's taking on 10 people. If you just estimate how fast somebody could punch and kick, and how many times you could hit one person in a second, you wind up with numbers like five or six. This doesn't mean you could fight four or five people. But it's also hard for four or five people to simultaneously attack somebody, because they get in each other's way. More realistic is a couple of attackers.

How long would Bruce Wayne have to train to become Batman?

In some of the timelines you see in the comics, the backstory is he goes away for five years—some it's three to five years, or eight years, or 12 years. In terms of the physical changes (strength and conditioning), that's happening fairly quickly. We're talking three to five years. In terms of the physical skills to be able to defend himself against all these opponents all the time, I would benchmark that at 10 to 12 years. Probably the most reality-based representation of Batman and his training was in Batman Begins.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Time Magazine thinks Libertarians are not lunatics!

This Time article is mostly about Bob Barr's bid for president. Will average Americans start thinking seriously about the fact that both major parties represent an increasingly expanding version of Leviathan? Probably not. Will the LP shave enough votes off of McCain in the Mountain West to hurt him in the November election? Maybe. Will this lead the Republican Party to pay more attention to its limited government wing? Who knows?

It's tempting to think of Libertarianism as nothing more than old-school Republicanism, but it's always been partially left-wing, drawing from a long history of American anarchism. The modern challenge is to unite those two wings--or, as magician (and stalwart Libertarian) Penn Jillette told me, "Convince the dope guys that the gun guys are O.K., and vice versa." And many Libertarians believe the time is now. It helps that the U.S. has been throttled for a century by two parties whose core differences are narrowing. The current general election has seemed at times a contest about who can crib off the other party's platform more, from McCain's enthusiasm for using government to fight global warming to Obama's hedging on warrantless wiretapping. For an electorate having a harder time distinguishing Coke from Pepsi, there's a thirst for something--anything--new.

epMotion Video

I wouldn't link to a video for a science product if it wasn't worth it.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

No Yuengling in Ohio

My friend Dan forwarded me a story on the lack of Yuengling in Ohio. Parts of the article dealing with cult beers are interesting. The parts about Barack Obama drinking it are not. Here's what really caught my eye:

It's brewed in Pottsville, Pa., at America's oldest brewery. The name is pronounced "Ying-Ling," the locals shorten it to "Ying," and it means "young man" in German.

Ying is a good beer that recently received a "Hot Brand" award. Partly because you can't get it everywhere, it's achieved cult status. Even with the addition of a former Stroh's brewery in Tampa, it's only available in 10 states, Ohio not among them.

"Ying"?! WTF? It's lager, Ohioans.