X-Rays from Scotch Tape

How’s this for cool? Normal, everyday Scotch Tape (or sellotape, for you British readers) gives off x-rays when pulled off the roll in a vacuum. According to this article at USAToday.com, UCLA researchers

[used] a machine [to peel] ordinary Scotch tape off a roll in a vacuum chamber at about 1.2 inches per second. Rapid pulses of X-rays, each about a billionth of a second long, emerged from very close to where the tape was coming off the roll.

That’s where electrons jumped from the roll to the sticky underside of the tape that was being pulled away, a journey of about two-thousandths of an inch… When those electrons struck the sticky side they slowed down, and that slowing made them emit X-rays.

The UCLA eggheads hope to refine the process enough to create cheap x-ray equipment for paramedics, developing countries, and places where electricity is hard to come by (like a ranger station in a national park, for example).

Should office workers worry about getting cancer from Scotch tape? Apparently not. The phenomenon only occurs when Scotch tape is unrolled in a vacuum. So you should be fine… unless you’re taping together documents in outer space!

Feeling Old Yet?

Guess who’s turning 50 today? Why, Simon LeBon of Duran Duran of course!

Jeez – Simon Le Bon is freakin’ 50? Gawd, I’m old! Simon says (heh): “No, I don’t feel old. My knees are creaking a bit, but my eyes are fine. I am healthy and (some say) wise.” Not bad for a guy whose first album came out when he was just 22!

Happy Birthday, Simon!

A Lamborghini in the Basement

Around a decade ago, a guy named Ken Imhoff started building an exact replica of a Lamborghini Countach. The only problem was that Ken didn’t have a garage or a shed to build the car, and was thus forced to build it in his basement… only the basement didn’t have any doors or windows.

So when Ken finally finished the car recently, he had to hire a contractor to clear away several feet of earth and knock a hole in the basement wall to actually get the car out:

Read all about it here; thanks to Geekologie for the tip!

TEC Seriously in the Red

The Episcopal Church will end this fiscal year almost $2.5 million in debt. Why? Because they’re busy suing anyone and everyone holding orthodox Anglican beliefs in the United States, of course!

“Come join the Episcopal Church… where we say we want to end world hunger, but spend all our money on suing members of our own church!”

As always, thanks to BabyBlue for the tip.

It’s not just me!

For years, I’ve thought that the media had a liberal bias. Of course, everyone just said I was “crazy” or imagining it all. And then Fox News came into being, and so the liberals started screaming about their biased coverage. Sooooo… it’s OK to think that Fox News is a hyperbolic right-wing mouthpiece, yet also think that CBS, NBC, ABC, CNN, the New York Times and the Washington Post are paragons of totally impartial and completely objective journalism, and that anyone that disagrees with that is crazy? Yeah, that makes sense.

However, thanks to this year’s election, I can finally prove that it’s not just me: here are two editorials by professional journalists (one from Orson Scott Card here and the other by Michael S. Malone here) that are disgusted not only with the media bias of the 2008 election, but also other incidents.

Malone in particular is pretty peeved about the coverage of the Lebanon War from a couple of years ago. And he’s got a point. Mainstream media sources couldn’t stop reporting on every single thing the IDF did, while at the same time they deliberately chose to ignore the torrent of missiles launched by Hezbollah into northern Israel. Some poor Palestinian kid falls off his bike and CNN can’t get cameras there fast enough to document “Israel’s brutality”, yet hundreds of Israelis are killed by missiles fired from civilian areas in Lebanon and CNN can’t be bothered.

But yeah, the media’s not biased. Not at all.

The Final Verdict on Life On Mars US

Well, we’re three episodes in to the American version of Life On Mars… and my verdict: it sucks. Here’s why:

No Smoking: Once again, the people behind Life On Mars US apparently think that no one smoked in 1973. Whereas the original Life On Mars had as much smoking as an episode of Mad Men, in the American version not only does no one smoke, there aren’t even any ashtrays around! Seriously – in last night’s episode Sam and Gene went to a gay bar, and not only was no one smoking (in a gay bar?!?), there wasn’t even an ashtray to be seen anywhere! I know this is a small detail, but come on… how can you be “historically accurate” yet not have people smoking? Oh, and Ray holding a pen like a cigarette doesn’t count!

The Plots Are Too Simple: One of the main “selling points” of Life On Mars (in general) is that we can watch people existing in the recent past, all the while knowing what happens in their future. For example, in the original Life On Mars, Gene Hunt says that “[t]here will never be a woman prime minister as long as I have a hole up my arse”. Both the UK and US versions play this up for humor (last night’s episode had a “wink-wink” moment about gay marriage). But whereas the British version of the show chose not to make everything so black and white, the American version goes for the easy kill. In last night’s episode, a gay man – a war hero apparently “perfect” in every way except for his sexuality – is murdered. I just knew the whole “gays are people, too!” thing was coming… and it did. In the UK version, the gay man would have had something else in his past – an addiction to pornography, or gambling, or something – to give the show some ambiguity and make it feel less like an ABC After School Special.

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“Chinese” Chicken

With the economy in the tank, many of us are looking for ways to cut back. Groceries are a huge expense, and any way you can save a few dollars at the local megamart is always appreciated, right?

Lately I’ve been on a “leg quarters” kick. Our local Bi-Lo runs leg quarters on sale every couple of weeks for something like 59¢ a pound. I was therefore able to buy a giant 10-pound tray of them for less than $6. The only problem is… what to do with them? Sure, they taste great when cooked on the grill and slathered in BBQ sauce… but now it’s getting too cool to grill.

I stumbled across this recipe yesterday. It is, quite possibly, the EASIEST recipe I’ve ever found. It’s so easy, in fact, that I was deeply skeptical of it. But you know what? I tried it out and it was pretty damn good! What’s more, it makes the entire house smell like a Chinese restaurant! Try it out and tell me what you think!


1 chicken leg quarter per person
Garlic powder (not garlic salt)
Soy sauce


1 glass baking dish

All you’ve gotta do is preheat your oven to 350F, put the leg quarter(s) in a glass baking dish, sprinkle liberally with garlic powder, then drizzle around 1 tablespoon of soy sauce per leg quarter over the chicken. Bake uncovered for around 35 minutes until the skin is crispy and delicious!

As I said, I was suspicious of this recipe when I first saw it. “Doesn’t it need some Five Spice Powder? Or some mustard powder? Or something?” But then I read the comments and saw everyone raving about it. You can always tweak the recipe if you want, but it tastes pretty good as-is!

The Fate of Oliver Cromwell

Of all the figures in English history, few loom larger than Oliver Cromwell. As “Lord Protector” of England, Cromwell served as England’s chief executive during the Interregnum of 1649–1660 – the only significant period of time since the Romans left England that the island was not ruled by a monarchy. It’s a curiosity, then, that although there are thousands of books written about Cromwell, although every English schoolkid learns about him, and although there’s a huge statue of him outside the Houses of Parliament, Oliver Cromwell has no grave.

Welcome to the mystery of Oliver Cromwell’s head.

It all started with King Charles I. The son of King James I, Charles saw himself as an absolute monarch in the mold of the kings of France. He was on the throne by Divine Right, and no man could tell him what to do. Unfortunately for Charles, there was a group of men who didn’t quite see it that way: the English Parliament.

On June 15, 1215, King John signed Magna Carta at Runnymede. The document was a specific list of grievances the aristocracy had against the crown. By signing it, King John not only agreed to end those specific practices, he established the notion that no one in England – not even the monarch – was above the law. So although future kings like Richard III and Henry VIII might have had ghastly legislation passed, they did so by begging, browbeating, or bribing the Parliament. They didn’t dare think of ignoring it.

Charles I wasn’t nearly as smart. Throughout his reign, he continually tried to take power from the Parliament and give it back to the Crown. Charles seized a small power here, and a little tax there. Parliamentarians protested, but Charles managed to smooth things over… most of the time.

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