Archive for the ‘funny picture’ Category


This just in: the road trip is still in progress and gradually getting sillier. In our whoosh across the Northwest, we’ve walked a weimeraner in the pouring rain, watched five-year-olds on a backyard zipline, stood in the sopping updraft of a Cascades waterfall, glissaded on the shoulders of Mt. Rainier, flown over Mt. St. Helens in a plane that might once have been a VW bug, explored a basalt cave, and found some amusing uses for lichen.


Actual news reports may resume next week. Thanks for waiting.


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On the side of a Waste Management garbage truck. (Taken at 65 mph on Highway 1. Sorry to the white minivan behind me.)

I can vouch that the whole rest of the truck is the same color green as visible on the margins of the sign. Among the many ways of describing such a paint job, one might use the term “greenwashed” without being in error. I’m just saying.

Apparently, as I learned online, some Waste Management landfills do set aside area for wildlife habitat, which they get certified by the Wildlife Habitat Council. Birdhouses get posted; poplar trees get planted; biodiversity is reported to increase. No word as to whether the set-aside land gets slated for the landfill to expand into.

The Wildlife Habitat Council was founded in 1988 as a joint effort between business and environmental groups. They claim World Wildlife Fund and National Wildlife Federation as partners. Also on the list: Anheuser Busch, DuPont, Ford Motor Company, ExxonMobil, G.E. and the United States Steel Corporation. Their newly appointed chairman is Monsanto’s VP of Environmental Safety, Health and Human Rights. Make of that what you will.

Here at Scribble Central, we firmly believe that businesses can do good for the environment – and in fact, that conservation won’t be widely adopted until economics require it. Where poplar-shaded, bluebird-speckled landfills fit into that scenario, we’re completely at a loss.

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pencilchew.jpgMaybe the occasional Scribble Reader has wondered just who in the heck this Scribbler is. But let me tell you, that ain’t nothin’ compared to how much I wonder who the heck you guys are.

But that’s the beauty of Web 2.0, ain’t it? No more agonizing over the wording of your letter to the editor of Omni Magazine in the hopes of seeing your name in print. Just hit the Comments button and fire away.

So here’s your chance to do some scribbling of your own and fill me in on one or more of the following 15 pressing questions:

1. How did you get here? (no need to get cosmic on this one)

2. Have you visited this site before?

3. Are you just here for the baby turtles? (you would not believe how many people search the Internet each day for baby turtles)

4. What kind of posts do you like the best? (a) ocean science (b) climate change (c) birding (d) surfing (e) other?

5. Are the posts (a) about right or (b) too damn long?

6. Would you like more coverage of (a) climate change (b) islands being devastated by rats (c) weird deep-sea creatures (d) earthquake-type stuff (e) celebrity feuds and/or adoptions (f) sex (g) atmospheric physics (h) other (please specify)?

7. How educated are you: (a) made it out of high school; curious about the world (b) still interested in most things (B.S.) (c) able to detect the infantile flaws in some stories; peripherally interested in all the rest (M.S.) (c) basically humoring me (Ph.D.)?

8. Do you wish the words I use were (a) longer (b) shorter (c) funnier (d) snarkier (e) less stupid (f) rhyming?

9. Do you occasionally wonder what possesses me to spend an hour or so writing about such obscure topics?

10. More pictures? (Of what?)

11. Are you not leaving comments because (a) the posts arrive fully formed and inviolable (b) you never make it to the end of a post (c) it’s interesting, just not that interesting (d) try writing about something that matters (e) you have a lingering feeling that even though only a tiny fraction of the world’s population will ever look at a comments page, you might come off sounding stupid and someone, somewhere, might snicker at you from the lonely confines of their poorly lit hovel

12. If scientists were to turn their collective intellectual power toward designing one and only one robot animal, what animal should that be?

13. I am an heir/heiress and I would like to contribute ___ million dollars to further the Scribbler agenda

14. Do I know you? How?

15. Setting aside the surfing and the birding for a moment, if there was one thing in the world you’d like me to write about, what would it be?

I’m really not kidding about this. Answer as much or as little as you see fit. Post a comment – or – if you don’t feel like going totally public – send aphriza at gmail dot com an e-mail. Thanks for reading.

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***Warning to science-y readers: this is a science-free post***

**Except for the large slide rule and the paleoceanographer**

*And the parakeets*

Last week, the Scribbler E.U. Tour took England by storm. To save you busy people some time, my 20,000 word write-up has been condensed using the well known words-pictures relationship. These were the highlights:

white_tower.jpg spamalot.jpg Seeing the Tower of London and Spamalot the same day.

parakeets.jpg parakeets_detail.jpg Wild rose-ringed parakeets in Hyde Park drinking from puddles in the sycamores. Here’s a view through the Scribbler’s binoculars.

jackdaw.jpg Sort of a cross between a crow and a chimney-sweep, jackdaws are delightful and spiffy.

chalk.jpg The deep low tides that arrive on a full moon are always a spectacle. Even more so when the reef is made of the same bright chalk as the cliffs.

fishnchips.jpg Fish-n-chips as they were meant to be: wrapped in paper, drenched in vinegar, and eaten on a pier. Note this expert’s consistently flawless fried-food-munching technique: (compare with Twinkie).

channel.jpg feetinchannel.jpg Sticking my feet in the English Channel for the first time in 27 years. Wasn’t much warmer than last time.

slides.jpg An art gallery (the Tate Modern) with five-story slides you can ride.

nathistory.jpg nathistory_pterano.jpg nathistory_jackal.jpg The incredible architecture at the Natural History Museum. All three pictures were taken from the same spot; the detail views are from “digiscoping” – pointing the ScribbleCam through the ScribbleBinos. The jackal (right) is sitting at far upper right in the first photo.

sliderule.jpg At the Science Museum, a 21st-century paleoceanographer confronts a slide rule.

ginandbeer.jpg Pints for two pounds fifty are a steal, but the exchange rate is a bit shocking.

abseil.jpg Thrill-seeking: a gear-free abseil on a braided hemp rope down a sheer mud precipice. Admittedly, it was 10 feet high and I was following a fearless 12-year-old in pink wellies (Lydia Visick).

joesbird.jpg My first-cousin-once-removed, Joe Visick (age 7), sketches marvelous birds using something of an Edward Gorey approach.

downs.jpg birlinggap.jpg Beautiful English spring weather makes Bremen (rhymes with “rainin'”) hard to come back to. (First picture, right to left: 21st-century paleoceanographer Mea Cook; writer-photographer-cousin David Visick; musician-of-note Marko Packard)

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We live in an age where nobody has time to read and few people even have the time to look at pictures. That’s why we live in a world of icons. I like the witty ones.

Those dreadfully clever people at Science Creative Quarterly pulled together a big group of them, then turned them into merit badges for their new society of scientist/communicators. This left-hand column shows three of my favorite badges, ones I hope to earn.

The group’s called the O.O.T.S.S.O.E.R.A.A.A.P., and if you want to know what that stands for you’re just going to have to Look It Up!, which coincidentally is the slogan of the devastatingly clever blog Librarian Avengers.

I mention them because the chief Avenger has compiled a set of icons to warn prospective moviegoers about abuses that occur onscreen. That’s the second (greener) column on the right, above.

In case you haven’t got their meanings completely worked out yet, here they are:

The”destroyer of quackery” badge

The “I may look like a scientist but I’m actually also a ninja” badge

The “I’m a freaking rock star who sings about science” badge

Rated B for British Accent Faked by American

Rated E for Escape-in-front-of-a-fireball

Rated K for Keyboard hacks Pentagon in two clicks

Rated R for Remake of a Better Film

and my favorite

Rated S for Scientific Content ≠ Reality

Now all we need is a set of Scribble icons to let you know whether new posts are worth reading or not… stay tuned.

In the meantime, please be advised that the comments button is now at the top of each post, just under the headline. I have received exactly ZERO comments since changing the page format. The lowly Scribbler has been trying to explain to Scribble High Command that the drop-off has nothing to do with Scribble Quality, but they’re having none of it.

So come on, folks, throw me a fricken bone here. (if only to show you know where that last sentence came from)

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As if the Apple folks hadn’t made Macs cute and quirky enough straight out of the box, other people are writing freeware to turn your MacBook Pro into a seismograph.

It all started in early 2005, when Apple decided to put motion sensors into the new laptops. Why, you ask? So that if you happen to be playing Frisbee with your laptop, the computer can sense the dangerous accelerations and pull the disk drive head off the disk, safeguarding any tax records or blog archives you haven’t backed up recently.

Enter Seis Mac. Download the freeware and moments later you’re watching the results of your nervous leg-jiggling in three dimensions. There’s even free calibration software in case the fact that the graphs don’t precisely zero out disturbs you.

Here at the Scribble headquarters, we borrowed a handy MacBook Pro, downloaded SeisMac and started waiting for an earthquake. We’ll let you know when we feel one. In the mean time, we made a quiz for you.

Match the graphs in this post to the cause:

blue-danube.jpg jiggling.jpgvolleyball.jpgwmd.jpgfour-oranges.jpg

(a) a bouncing volleyball

(b) four oranges being unsuccessfully juggled

(c) the Crystal Method playing their big hit “Weapons of Mass Distortion”

(d) a table that didn’t seem nearly so unsteady until we ran Seis Mac

(e) your humble Scribbler waltzing with the MacBook donor

And that’s not all the quirky freeware out there. You can download a program that shows you a near-real-time, 3-D view of how your computer is oriented in space. (You do have to be looking at your computer in order to see the view of your computer, but that’s beside the point.) Soon, you may be able to play your favorite video game simply by shoving your laptop around the table.

Of course, what all this giddy experimentation does to your poor disk drive reader remains unresearched. But Seis Mac creator Daniel Griscom has a detailed disclaimer that only gets better from its first paragraph:

If you’re waving your laptop around watching Seis Mac graph the accelerations and your laptop slips from your hands and goes flying out of a tenth story window, it’s not my fault.

Thanks to Adam Soule for the tip.

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The Union of Concerned Scientists uses a bit of humor to attack the growing problem of government attacks on scientific integrity. They’ve assembled a list of outrages – in case you’ve lost track of some of them – and instead of listing them all in an endlessly scrolling page they’re mapped out on a periodic table of sorts.

Hover over a symbol for the headline; click for the full story. And since they’re scientists, you can rest assured that the writeups are aggressively footnoted.

Delivering another refreshing blast of humor at the problem, the Union sponsored a cartoon contest poking fun at the sorry state of government-science interactions. You can buy a calendar of the top 12 funniest cartoons here. My favorite punchline: “And if you run the film backwards you can see it contains a hidden message: the glaciers are actually getting larger.”

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