A bicycle as a mobile art form?

The Pinarello Dogma 2 carbon-fiber racing bicycle (shown below) was used by the winner of this year’s Tour de France race.  It’s the current pinnacle of racing bike technology. Now famed British cyclist Martyn Ashton has put this $16,000 racing machine through its paces in an exhibition of artistry and control that’s breathtaking.  I suggest watching it in full-screen mode. What can one say except, “Wow!”? Peter

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How eating has changed the shape of the human jaw

Bee Wilson, a food columnist for the Telegraph in the UK, has written a book called ‘Consider The Fork:  a history of how we cook and eat‘.  Writing about it in her column, she provided a tidbit of information of which I hadn’t been previously aware. The most startling thing I discovered while writing the book was the way that our bodies may have been changed by cutlery. The alignment of our jaws and teeth is probably a product of how we cut up our food during our youth. The normal arrangement of human teeth, as any orthodontist will say,

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The malicious stupidity of conspiracy theorists

I’ve always had a visceral, outraged reaction to the idiots who think up and spread conspiracy theories.  They’re usually based on little or no evidence (sometimes claiming as ‘evidence’ facts that have nothing whatsoever to do with their theory), cause much mischief among those who lend any credence to them (despite the fact that they should know better), and sometimes do a great deal of harm to the families and survivors of those affected by the rumors. Two classic examples are circulating right now in connection with the attack on the US consulate in Benghazi, Libya, last month, and the

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Tractor pulling – on steroids!

I daresay many readers are familiar with the sport of tractor pulling.  Wikipedia describes it as follows: All tractors, in their respective classes, pull a set weight in the sledge. When a tractor gets to the end of the 100 metre (300 feet) track this is known as a “full pull”. When more than one tractor completes the course, more weight is added to the sledge, and those competitors that went past 300 feet will have a pull-off; the winner is the one who can pull the sledge the farthest. The sledge is known as a weight transfer sled. This

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Solitary confinement: is it necessary, or is it torture?

Journalist Shane Bauer, who spent two years in detention in Iran, has produced a series of articles for Mother Jones about prison and solitary confinement.  He’s fiercely critical about it.  Here’s his video introduction to the articles. His articles argue persuasively that the assignment of many inmates to solitary confinement is irrational, unrelated to their actions or conduct, and frequently based upon questionable evidence.  Unfortunately, he makes the assumption that what prison inmates tell him is trustworthy:  and therein lies the Achilles heel of his articles. You see, I was a prison chaplain, both part-time and full-time, for about a

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Politics, economic meltdown and social disruption

I’ve been writing about our (and the world’s) parlous economic situation for a long time.  I’ve also warned of ongoing social deterioration and disruption.  Now comes a very insightful newsletter that links these phenomena in a very clear, understandable way.  John Mauldin, in his latest weekly ‘Outside The Box’ newsletter (link is to an Adobe Acrobat document in .PDF format), provides an assessment by Société Générale analyst Dylan Grice.  I’m going to reproduce a few excerpts here (from the 16-page newsletter). I am more worried than I have ever been about the clouds gathering today … I hope they pass

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I’m glad I wasn’t on this flight!

I’ve flown from unprepared and semi-prepared airfields in many African nations, including some that would make a regular commercial pilot blench.  (Alaskan bush pilots will understand what I mean, particularly because many of them fly as bush pilots in Africa during the Alaskan off-season.)  However, I have never, repeat, never seen an aircraft take off in conditions like this!  This footage is of a Russian Antonov An-24 twin-turboprop transport operated by UTAir.  I’m not sure where it was taken – presumably somewhere in Russia.  (Watch it in full-screen mode, if possible.) I still can’t figure out how it managed to

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The high cost of leaving Afghanistan

It looks as if withdrawing all our military equipment from Afghanistan – let alone our hundreds of thousands of troops – is going to be a monumentally expensive exercise.  Aviation Week has just reported on the likely costs.  A few examples: Shipping a standard 20-foot ISO container from Afghanistan to Britain will cost between US $8,000 and $19,000, while moving it by air over the same distance could cost anywhere between US $16,000 and $50,000. Costs to ship a similar container all the way back to the USA would be at least similar, perhaps higher.  According to Aviation Week, “The

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You lost your cellphone WHERE???

The Telegraph has published a highly amusing article about insurance claims submitted for the loss of cellphones.  Here are a few of my favorites: 1. A farmer in Devon claimed his phone had disappeared inside the back end of one of his cows when he’d been using the torch [flashlight] on his iPhone whilst assisting the cow during calving. The phone later made an appearance, but was damaged. . . . 4. A woman in her late 20s from Bristol claimed the vibration function on her BlackBerry Bold 9900 phone had stopped working whilst she was using it as an

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