All posts by lizard

the pharyngeal jaw of a moray eel (illustrated, and demonstrated)

Today’s Wikipedia P.O.D.:

An illustration of the pharyngeal jaws of a moray eel, a “second set” of jaws contained within an animal’s pharynx, distinct from the primary (oral) jaws. When the moray bites prey, it first bites normally with its oral jaws, capturing the prey. Immediately thereafter, the pharyngeal jaws are brought forward and bite down on the prey to grip it; they then retract, pulling the prey down the eel’s esophagus, allowing it to be swallowed.

And here’s Morey, showing us how that works:

Sometimes, when we feed Morey a shrimp that’s a bit too big, and even his pharyngeal jaw can’t quite get the whole thing down, he ties himself in a knot and pulls his head through to dislodge the piece of shrimp that’s still sticking out. Which is just cool.

google voice is on drugs. really, really good ones.

Or really bad ones, depends on how you look at that sort of thing. I’m not complaining, I find it quite hilarious, especially considering that there *is* decent voice recognition going on in the software world today. It’s just, none of that’s happening anywhere near the Google Voice division, for some bizarre reason I can’t even begin to speculate on.

Exhibit A:  phone call from my daughter re: … something?

Hey Mom, It’s me, it’s like wow that’s okay. Okay bye. I think I’m birthday party on it. Also the right way, getting up as soon as possible. Let me know if it’s free tickets and I really want to. Without the rate if you could thought I’d be really cool when you hire also, but if it’s still your financing meeting and her at. So, how big invite you guys in the east. You can’t tell you never see. I think it’s like 99. If you are right. Hi back.

Exhibit B: wrong number from some random lawyers (probably)

Yes, my name is Anthony cord error on the litigation Compliance Officer for the carry law firm. I’m looking to speak with a meal and Crenshaw. Alrighty.Crenshaw regarding out cases of being involved and check fraud to be filed with local stories representing Bay County maybe have Ed Davis with. Reachout of town Ridge contract that the service is intensity fryer filters to out of 10 Affidavit is, 102-1072 Response, call us to be made at (number)extension 354, or directly at (number).

OK, that just cracks me up.

my top 11 (mostly) free android apps

Presented here in no particular order are my top eleven favorite Android apps. These aren’t necessarily the ones I use most often, but they are definitely the ones that add the most coolness to my overall Droid experience — the ones I’ll fire up whenever conversation turns to “what our phones will do” (is it odd that, in almost every meatspace social situation in which I find myself, the conversation at some point will always turn to that subject?  just wondering). Anyway, here’s the list, complete with scannable bar codes (I wish I could give you a bar code to download the bar code scanner app, but, well, you know…  Just search for “bar code” in the Android market, k? k.) OK then, here we go:


TuneWiki is the thing I most wish I’d invented myself. My obsession with lyrics goes way back, I built my first database-driven website for lyrics. TuneWiki is amazing for sitting listening to music, because it goes out and finds (or tries to find) the lyrics to the song you’re listening to. Most of they time they’re already synced to the song, but, if they’re not, you can sync them yourself by tapping the screen, and if they’re not in the database, you can go and add them (if you’re an editor, you do have to ask to be given that permission). It’s also a social music site with “now playing” info viewable (both in your browser and on your phone) in Google Maps. To make this even cooler, there is now a Windows Media Player plugin, and a browser plugin (note: only WinXP and Vista supported so far, they’re working on Win 7). The people who run TuneWiki are awesome and friendly, and committed to building on this unique service, so give it a shot, and add me as a friend on it if you do (i’m dotlizard there, naturally). The free version comes with ads, which don’t bother you at all — I bought the paid version mostly to support the developers, whom i wish a long and prosperous future in social music apps.[qrcodetag]market://search/?[/qrcodetag]

website | downloads page


Ringdroid is a simple yet powerful sound file editor, which you can use to very precisely select the beginning and endpoint of the part of your sound file (music or otherwise) to make the perfect ringtone. Never spend money on a chopped up bit of a song, just buy the song and make your own! I have made ringtones of my favorite parts of Holy Grail mp3s, and the intro to the Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas version of One Toke over the Line (you know, where he says, “We had two bags of grass, 75 pellets of mescaline, five sheets of high-powered blotter acid, a saltshaker half-full of cocaine…”) Two notes on that: 1) if you type “we had” into google, it knows that’s among the things you want to find and 2) use caution when using that ringtone, it can be awkward at work or family gatherings, depending on the family. [qrcodetag]market://search/?q=pname:com.ringdroid[/qrcodetag]

more info


I’ve had Hoccer since this morning and it’s already been given a position on my home screen. “Hoc” refers to “ad-hoc network”, and it allows you to share audio, bookmarks, contacts, pictures and text by “throwing” them to someone else who has Hoccer installed, who “catches” them. The best part is this works beautifully between the iPhone/iPod Touch and Android phones — when we were testing it, I threw my son a picture of his bicycle, and he responded by typing into his iPod and throwing me a text saying “A rock” (lol). He then proceeded to RickRoll me. If nothing else, get this for the lulz (providing you know a funny kid with an iPod) [qrcodetag]market://search/?q=pname:com.artcom.hoccer[/qrcodetag]


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GameFly : a public thanking

I admit I didn’t expect much. After all, the whole snafu was partially my fault for not noticing things for months at a time, and for not clarifying things with the kiddo & the dad regarding what was sent back when. And yes, I did delegate the canceling in a way that caused it to be rather frustratingly sort-of-but-not-really taken care of. And I know this is confusing, but it’s nowhere near as confusing as the plaintive email I sent to GameFly after all this had gotten itself into such a sorry state.


So in the process of looking up their Customer Service phone number, I found any number of wankers wanking about how GameFly was teh suck, etc etc. I even imagined how, if they kept sending me emails, I’d unsubscribe with one of those snarky “why I unsubscribed” messages. Yes, sometimes I get mad in advance of having a reason, just so I’ll be good and ready. Well, either the wankers were just being wanky (as wankers often are), or, GameFly has changed.

The plaintive, confusing email was sent yesterday evening, ending with a whine about how it sure would be nice to talk to them about the whole mess but oh well.

And today, I got the nicest call. They’re going to clear the account of games that we didn’t report missing for months (we meant to, we just … you know … and then another month went by …). And, they’re refunding two months’ charges. Which isn’t fair — it’s way, way beyond fair.

Meaning that at some point, we will probably re-subscribe, if for no other reason than they just impressed the hell out of me. We do have numerous game systems, so a subscription would make sense, it’s just that we’re kind of over-gamed at the moment after the wildly Xbox-y Xmas.

So, GameFly, thank you for being very understanding about our “… and then another month went by … “. We appreciate the convenience.

… and don’t make any sudden moves

I am not fond of air travel, and haven’t been on an airplane since … hmm, thinking … 1999? My desire not to fly has increased steadily with each new regulation requiring the violation of personal space, but this one really takes the biscuit. “…during the final hour of flight passengers must remain seated. They won’t be allowed access to carry-on baggage or to have any items on their laps.” Are you fucking kidding me? Really? For the final hour of every flight, I’m to be tortured? Can’t go pee, can’t have anything in my lap at all, can’t do anything but sit quietly with my hands folded in my lap for an hour? Please. I play [qrcodetag tooltip=”market://search?q=pname:com.kmagic.solitaire”]Solitaire on my Droid[/qrcodetag] while I’m waiting in line, or taking a cigarette break at work (yes, I even get bored smoking), even while I … well you get the idea. I don’t do sitting quietly doing nothing very well at all. To the extent I find it hard to even imagine doing so for an hour, let alone actually doing it.

It would take a lot to get me on an airplane – and by a lot, I mean, Xanax. Lots and lots of Xanax. And if the airlines aren’t going to start handing those out like candy with the boarding passes, I think I’ll take the train. Or just not go.

Twitter, the Fort Hood Atrocities, and … Iran?

It is never easy to adjust to the proliferation of a new communication technology. I’m old enough to remember when answering machines were new, and most of the messages recorded were something along the lines of “I … um … never know what to say to these things. Um? This is, this is me, uh, and … call me?” The invention of the printing press enabled all manner of unseemly pamphleteering that I’m sure was very upsetting to the establishment at the time. And imagine the conflicts that arose when people started using language and drawing pictures on walls instead of grunting and pointing.

The rise of citizen journalism — or more accurately, citizen reportage, has been sudden and meteoric, at least in evolutionary terms. Unlike our distant ancestors, we don’t have generations to adjust our way of thinking about how we process and share information. The pace of change has changed, and it is necessary for humans to adapt not only to the change, but the pace.

And yet, the first news and analysis out of the base didn’t come from the experts. Nor did it come from the 24-hour news media, or even from dedicated military blogs – but rather from the Twitter account of one Tearah Moore, a soldier from Linden, Michigan who is based at Fort Hood, having recently returned from Iraq.

Is it fair to call the tweeting of the Fort Hood shootings an atrocity, or to say that ‘citizen journalists’ can’t handle the truth? No, because individuals with camera phones and twitter accounts are not journalists, they are eyewitnesses with the ability to make actual recordings of events and share their raw, unfiltered observations in real time. Live-blogging these observations shouldn’t be referred to as citizen journalism either, unless we are using this term to criticize individuals who are not journalists for not following basic journalistic principles.

The urgency of the desire to share sensational and disturbing information isn’t new, or even particularly modern — it predates the internet, the telephone, the printing press, and probably even cave-paintings. Rumors have always spread with remarkable speed, because the possession of salacious information brings out the resourcefulness in humans, always has, always will. As Douglas Adams put it, “Nothing travels faster than the speed of light with the possible exception of bad news, which follows its own laws.” The desires to tell and to be told are usually mutual, but the decision to listen and accept at face value is always at the sole discretion of the listener.

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and then all of a sudden i bought a droid

i’d been reading and reading about it, perhaps selectively. i am a phone-looker – i look at phones all. the. time. up until now, none of them have had that perfect combination of stuff (when i say “phone”, understand i mean “smartphone” and by that, i mean i want it all — internet, camera, social networking, music, video, games, gps, wifi, a real keyboard, you name it, i want it.)

and i’d been planning on leaving tmobile for awhile, though the reason why has (apparently) since been fixed – they finally got around to 3G-ing my area. the internet on my blackberry 8900 was freakishly, painfully slow. but, even knowing i could upgrade and get something with 3G, and even though tmobile has the Motorola Cliq with Android and a 5MP camera, all comparisons between the two consisted of disappointment with the Cliq and raves about the Droid.

i went to Best Buy to think about getting a Droid. hint: if you want to think about buying something, don’t stop hurriedly at a store on your way somewhere, pounce on the first salesperson you find, and start actually buying it. thinking about buying while in the process of buying is a terrible experience for both you and the salesperson you happen to be dragging through the twisted thought process that led you to buy while thinking about buying in the first place.

at one point, i changed my mind. something about insurance in case the screen cracked? my BlackBerry is virtually indestructible, i can put it in my jeans pocket and sit on it, i can toss it in my vast hellhole of a purse, it’s a sturdy workhorse of a device. what was i thinking, a phone whose entire front was a shimmering sheet of delicate *glass*? besides i knew i shouldn’t buy it anyway, i was supposed to wait until my tmobile contract was up, i was going to do Xmas first and me later, and didn’t i just buy a fucking computer? i did. but by the time i changed my mind, the deposit was already processed. “i don’t even know how long it’ll take for them to refund the deposit”, said the beleagured salesperson, “no one’s ever done this before.”

so i dithered awhile longer. i asked about cases, he showed me this plastic thing that didn’t have any protection for the screen at all. i said, what? are you kidding me? i opened my purse to illustrate the issue at hand, 5 pounds of miscellaneous crap, all pointy and hazardous, and said, i need something that will protect the phone. a *case*. i picked up a real phone case (holster, holder, whatever) and showed him. “like this,” i said. so he brought a nice leather case, and, well, i bought a Droid.

i have 30 days to take it back, and i am either totally going to do that, or … you know, not.

i have spent the past six hours literally unable to put it down. my hands hurt. i am amazed, annoyed, and a little bit in love with it.

i’ll follow up tomorrow with something less insane and hopefully more informative about my potential future ex-phone, but right now it’s kinda late and it’s over there whispering “droid” to me in that sexy, husky robovoice, and i need to go see what it wants.

dystonia is a tragedy. but so is preventable death due to fear and misinformation.

Have you seen the tragic video of Desiree Jennings, the beautiful 25 year old cheerleader who was struck with dystonia ten days after receiving a seasonal (not H1N1) flu shot? The correlation between the timing of the flu shot and the onset of the disorder is reported in this story as “doctors” saying the flu shot is what caused the dystonia. Apparently, Jennings’ own doctor is not among them: from the LA Examiner article: “Jennings doctor has stated she has come down with the disorder but there does not seem to be a solid connection that it was positively caused by her getting a flu vaccination.”

Irresponsible, sensationalist “journalism” is offensive in and of itself, but in this case, it could very well be murderous. How many people will see this video, and decide against immunizing themselves and their children? Why did Inside Edition choose not to discuss the known causes and contributory factors for dystonia (hint: flu shots/vaccinations not on the list)? They did show us pictures of Mrs. Jennings in her cheerleading costume, in between shots of her demonstrating her bizarre and devastating neurological symptoms. Did they provide any facts at all? Lots of vaguely terrifying allegations that the flu shot did this to her, yes, but did they present any scientific facts? Well, they did mention that this form of the disorder strikes 1/1,000,000 people. (By comparison, the chance of being struck by lightning in any given year is 1/700,000 — no word on how many lightning strike victims had had flu shots, but hey Inside Edition, why not do a story on the possibility vaccinations cause increased electrical conductivity? Hmm?)

A commenter on the LA Examiner story said their grandma had this disorder, and had passed away as a result, and — shockingly enough — it turns out she had had a flu shot that year! What are the chances, a senior citizen getting a seasonal flu shot? And just think about it! Senior citizens probably get more flu shots than any other demographic, and they die of random causes ALL THE TIME. Coincidence? You tell me. Wait — don’t. Instead, please repeat after me: CORRELATION DOES NOT EQUAL CAUSATION.

There is nothing whatsoever to connect the flu shot to the onset of the disorder except a week and a half. Could the fever have triggered neurological problems? Maybe!!! HOLY SHIT, nothing else ever causes fever at all, so clearly no one should get a flu shot!

The CDC reported today that forty-six states are reporting widespread influenza activity at this time. This many reports of widespread activity are unprecedented during seasonal flu.

Vaccine hysteria has terrible consequences. Before you start throwing pseudo-science at me about it, please, please go read this article. Then check out Michael Shermer’s open letter to Bill Maher, an otherwise sensible fellow who seems to have caught this crazy anti-vaxxor bug. You might also check out Science-Based Medicine. Then go get your flu shot.

perhaps i am the only one …

who thinks that this war on Fox “News” is treading on dangerous ground? I mean, sure, anyone who possesses the ability to use Google or even, or a reputable newspaper, or who has watched Out Foxed, or who has been paying any reasonable amount of attention at all, knows Fox is not a “News” outlet. But, at this point, they are still calling themselves “News”, acting as if it’s news they’re presenting, it even says “News”  in the corner of the screen.

And as long as they portray themselves as a news channel, any of the folks who believe them are going to have SO much room to yelp about the first amendment.

I mean, imagine your neighbor claimed he was a billy goat, and kept ramming himself head-first into your house, and a crowd of other neighbors had gathered to watch. And this crowd was being entertained, and after awhile, began to believe the guy ramming the house was a goat, because he kept yelling “LOOK AT ME, I’M A GOAT” and he had GOAT written in red letters on his shirt, and he smelled kinda goat-y, and after awhile, everyone just thought of him as a goat. The first order of business wouldn’t be to go after the goat, it would be to make sure that everyone understood it was really a crazy dude and not an actual goat, right? Otherwise they’d be on about animal cruelty and whatnot. PETA would send naked chicks. It could get ugly, or at least, skanky.

Or am I just paranoid, and simply everyone knows Fox is fake, just like everyone knows wrestling is fake, right?