Wednesday, April 16, 2008
2.) Waiting in the doctor's office for what seems like hours (I guess that's why we're called "patients!")
3.) Pop-up advertisements on web pages.
4.) Infomercials (Just when you think they're over, the announcer says ("But wait, there's more!")
5.) Telemarketers, especially the ones who keep calling even after you've asked them to remove you from their calling list.
6.) Rude/inconsiderate/insensitive people.
7.) Having an itch on your back that wont go away or is just out of your reach.
8.) Bugs, spiders, and other ugly, slimy, multi-legged creatures.
9.) When someone is walking in front of you and they suddenly stop, or when someone is walking too closely behind you and they step on your heels.
10.) People that join in your conversations when you weren't talking to them.
11.) When someone is talking to you and they either have bad breath, they spit when they talk, or they talk so loud they're practically making you go deaf.
12.) Elderly drivers who look at the scenery and drive 30 km/h in front of you.
13.) People who pass you in a hurry and then slow down once they get in front of you.
14.) Being short, or as I like to call it, "vertically challenged," and not being able to reach things or see over people.
15.) People who lie or are two-faced.
16.) People who don't know when to stop talking, or interrupt you when you're talking.
17.) People who stare.
18.) People who pry or poke their nose into your private matters just because they feel that they have the right to know, or are "just curious."
19.) People who wont admit that they're wrong, especially after they've been proved wrong and still insist that they're right.
20.) How my dog always seems to have to go outside as soon as we sit down to dinner.
Most of these were found at Darwin.com
1994 Urban Legend
At the 1994 annual awards dinner given for Forensic Science, AAFS, President Dr. Don Harper Mills astounded his audience with the legal complications of a bizarre death. Here is the story:
On March 23,1994 the medical examiner viewed the body of Ronald Opus and concluded that he died from a shotgun wound to the head. Mr. Opus had jumped from the top of a ten story building intending to commit suicide. He left a note to that effect, indicating his despondency. As he fell past the ninth floor his life was interrupted by a shotgun blast passing through a window which killed him instantly.
Neither the shooter nor the descender was aware that a safety net had been installed just below at the eighth floor level to protect some building workers and that Ronald Opus would not have been able to complete his suicide the way he had planned.
"Ordinarily," Dr. Mills continued, "a person who sets out to commit suicide and ultimately succeeds, even though the mechanism might not be what he intended, is still defined as committing suicide."
That Mr. Opus was shot on the way to certain death, but probably would not have been successful because of the safety net, caused the medical examiner to feel that he had a homicide on his hands. The room on the ninth floor, whence the shotgun blast emanated, was occupied by an elderly man and his wife. They were arguing vigorously and he was threatening her with a shotgun. The man was so upset that when he pulled the trigger he completely missed his wife and the pellets went through the window, striking Mr. Opus.
When one intends to kill subject A but kills subject B in the attempt, one is guilty of the murder of subject B. When confronted with the murder charge the old man and his wife were both adamant. They both said they thought the shotgun was unloaded. Thed old man said it was his long-standing habit to threaten his wife with the unloaded shotgun. He had no intention to murder her. Therefore the killing of Mr. Opus appeared to be an accident; that is, the gun had been accidentally loaded.
The continuing investigation turned up a witness who saw the old couple's son loading the shotgun about six weeks prior to the fatal accident. It transpired that the old lady had cut off her son's financial support and the son, knowing the propensity of his father to use the shotgun threateningly, loaded the gun with the expectation that his father would shoot his mother. The case now becomes one of murder on the part of the son for the death of Ronald Opus.
Now comes the exquisite twist. Further investigation revealed that the son was, in fact, Ronald Opus. He had become increasingly despondent over the failure of his attempt to engineer his mother's murder. This led him to jump off the ten story building on March 23rd, only to be killed by a shotgun blast passing through the ninth story window. The son had actually murdered himself so the medical examiner closed the case as a suicide.
1998 Urban Legend
This one needs an introduction, so you won't be lost at the beginning. This man was in an accident at work, so he filled out an insurance claim. The insurance company contacted him and asked for more information. This was his response:
"I am writing in response to your request for additional information, for block number 3 of the accident reporting form. I put 'poor planning' as the cause of my accident. You said in your letter that I should explain more fully and I trust the following detail will be sufficient. I am an amateur radio operator and on the day of the accident, I was working alone on the top section of my new 80-foot tower. When I had completed my work, I discovered that I had, over the course of several trips up the tower, brought up about 300 pounds of tools and spare hardware. Rather than carry the now unneeded tools and material down by hand, I decided to lower the items down in a small barrel by using the pulley attached to the gin pole at the top of the tower. Securing the rope at ground level, I went to the top of the tower and loaded the tools and material into the barrel. Then I went back to the ground and untied the rope, holding it tightly to ensure a slow decent of the 300 pounds of tools."
"You will note in block number 11 of the accident reporting form that I weigh only 155 pounds. Due to my surprise of being jerked off the ground so suddenly, I lost my presence of mind and forgot to let go of the rope. Needless to say, I proceeded at a rather rapid rate of speed up the side of the tower. In the vicinity of the 40-foot level, I met the barrel coming down. This explains my fractured skull and broken collarbone. Slowed only slightly, I continued my rapid ascent, not stopping until the fingers of my right hand were two knuckles deep into the pulley. Fortunately, by this time, I had regained my presence of mind and was able to hold onto the rope in spite of my pain. At approximately the same time, however, the barrel of tools hit the ground and the bottom fell out of the barrel."
"Devoid of the weight of the tools, the barrel now weighed approximately 20 pounds. I refer you again to my weight in block number 11. As you might imagine, I began a rapid descent down the side of the tower. In the vicinity of the 40-foot level, I met the barrel coming up. This accounts for the two fractured ankles, and the lacerations of my legs and lower body. The encounter with the barrel slowed me enough to lessen my injuries when I fell onto the pile of tools and, fortunately, only three vertebrae were cracked. I am sorry to report, however, that as I lay there on the tools, in pain, unable to stand and watching the empty barrel 80 feet above me, I again lost my presence of mind. I let go of the rope..."
Stirring Up the Wasp Nest
A Personal Account
James, who works in a geology lab, and who can tell you the petrogenetic peculiarities of low-alkali tholeiitic basalt after hydrothermal alteration. But our hero James recently demonstrated that there is a significant difference between intelligence and common sense.
While casting about for ways to rid himself of a pesky wasp nest, his eye fell upon his trusty Dirt Devil vacuum cleaner. Armed with this fearsome weapon, James attacked the wasp nest. He sucked up all the wasps, who buzzed angrily as they struggled in vain against the wind-tunnel. The dustbag was soon alive with their buzzing.
James now found that he had a new problem: to wit, a vacuum cleaner bag full of live, disgruntled wasps. He had to find a way to kill them before he could safely turn off the vacuum. And while his previous idea was merely ill-considered, his next was a masterpiece of moronity.
He held the vacuum tube in one hand, a can of RAID in the other, and proceeded to spray the insecticide into the vacuum. What our smart young scientist failed to remember is that aerosols are flammable, and vacuum cleaner motors generate heat. The resulting explosion removed his facial hair, and scattered the dusty, angry contents of the Dirt Devil all over the vicinity.
Adding insult to injury, James was not the only one to survive with minor injuries. The wasps proceeded to vent their spleen upon the exposed (and slightly scorched) skin of the scientist, who referred to the episode as "an unfortunate lapse in calculation of consequences."
Thursday, April 10, 2008
"People want to talk to other people - not a house, or an office, or a car. Given a choice, people will demand the freedom to communicate wherever they are, unfettered by the infamous copper wire.
It is that freedom we sought to vividly demonstrate in 1973," said Martin Cooper.
Martin Cooperadded, "As I walked down the street while talking on the phone, sophisticated New Yorkers gaped at the sight of someone actually moving around while making a phone call. Remember that in 1973, there weren't cordless telephones, let alone cellular phones. I made numerous calls, including one where I crossed the street while talking to a New York radio reporter - probably one of the more dangerous things I have ever done in my life."
Following the April 3, 1973, public demonstration, using a "brick"-like 30-ounce phone, Cooper started the 10-year process of bringing the portable cell phone to market. Motorola introduced the 16-ounce "DynaTAC" phone into commercial service in 1983, with each phone costing the consumer $3,500. It took seven additional years before there were a million subscribers in the United States. Today, there are more cellular subscribers than wireline phone subscribers in the world, with mobile phones weighing as little as 3 ounces.
Martin Cooper Today
Martin Cooper's role in conceiving and developing the first portable cellular phone directly impacted his choice to found and lead ArrayComm, a wireless technology and systems company founded in 1992. ArrayComm's core adaptive antenna technology increases the capacity and coverage of any cellular system, while significantly lowering costs and making speech more reliable. This technology addresses what Cooper calls "the unfulfilled promise" of cellular, which should be, but still isn't as reliable or affordable as wired telephony.
ArrayComm has also used its adaptive antenna technology to make the Internet "personal" by creating the i-BURST Personal Broadband System, which delivers high-speed, mobile Internet access that consumers can afford.
"It's very exciting to be part of a movement toward making broadband available to people with the same freedom to be anywhere that they have for voice communications today," said Martin Cooper. "People rely heavily on the Internet for their work, entertainment and communication, but they need to be unleashed. We will look back at 2003 as the beginning of the era when the Internet became truly untethered."
The way to the top has never been easy, and for many centuries only a handful of bold and enterprising people could say that they had climbed it.
By the late 1870's, several of Cape Town's more prominent (and possibly less fit) citizens had suggested the introduction of a railway line to the top.
By 1912, with a strong desire to gain easy access to the top of Table Mountain, the Cape Town City Council commissioned an engineer to investigate the various options for public transport to the top.
The engineer, a Mr. H.M. Peter, suggested that a funicular railway running up from Oranjezicht through Platteklip gorge would be the most suitable option. A vote was held with the vast majority of Cape Town's residents voting in favour of the funicular. This, in spite of its cost, a staggering (in 1913) £100,000. The project was delayed yet again by war; this time the outbreak of the First World War (1914 - 1918).
The plan was resuscitated in 1926 after a Norwegian engineer, Trygve Stromsoe, presented plans for a cableway. The plan caught the collective eye of a group of eminent local businessmen. The idea that an easy route up would finally become a reality drew them together, forming the Table Mountain Aerial Cableway Company (TMACC) to finance the construction. Work began soon afterwards and the project was finished relatively quickly.
On the 4th of October 1929, the Mayor of Cape Town, Rev A J S Lewis, headed the official opening ceremony that was attended by over 200 other guests. Since it's opening, 75 years ago,over 15 million people have taken the trip to the top.
The cableway has since become something of a landmark in Cape Town, and has carried some of Cape Town's most illustrious visitors, including King George VI and Queen Elizabeth II, as well as Oprah Winfrey, Sting, Stefi Graf, Arnold Schwarzenneger, Magaret Thatcher, Prince Andrew, Micheal Schumacher, Brooke Shields, Micheal Buble, Tina Turner, Jackie Chan, Dolores O'Riordan, Skunk Anansie and Paul Oakenfold.
In 1993, Dennis Hennessy, the son of one of the founders of TMACC, sold the company.
The new directors immediately set about planning an upgrade to the existing infrastructure. Apart from upgrading the restaurants and machinery, new cars were purchased. Unlike their predecessors, the new cars, or Rotairs, have a revolving floor that allows passengers a 360-degree view of the city and mountain as they travel.
Work on the upgrade began in January of 1997 and, for several months cranes and the comings and goings of large helicopters carrying building materials dominated the mountain skyline.