QOTD: Where is this quote from?
kitteh
xv
"The earth is degenerating these days. Bribery and corruption abound. Children no longer mind parents…and it is evident that the end of the world is approaching fast."—Assyrian Tablet engraved in 2800 B.C.

I found this in Neil Degrasse Tyson's essay "Paths to Discovery" which appears in the 1998 book "The Columbia History of the 20th Century"

While Googling on this a few weeks ago, I found an exceedingly exhaustive analysis of the quote somewhere on the Internet (props if you can find the link, I lost it) offered by a gaggle of Assyriologists. Some of them seemed to be very down on the authenticity, as the citation trail goes dead in the 1920s. The only reason it was traced back that far, though, is because Google Books happened to have scanned that book in. Clearly this is an issue where "people on the Internet can only tell you about things that are on the Internet." Another member of the group was optimistic about doomsday predictions on old, possibly as-yet untranslated tablets.

So my question really should be: what is the oldest verifiable doomsday prediction that we know about? Preferably one that puts a time limit on doomsday, like "next tuesday."

QOTD: Is Colgate Wisp a government spin-off?
kitteh
xv
Pardon me, I don't watch TV, so I'm just now learning about Colgate "Wisp," which has apparently been around for a few years. These are plastic toothpicks on steroids. At one end is the pick, and at the other end resides a tiny plastic brush with a "freshness bead" implanted in it. (more details)

Anyway, awhile back I heard about a guy who was trying to find better ways to take care of soldiers' teeth while they're deployed overseas. He kept saying that the mechanical action of a brush is what's critical to breaking up plaque. I don't remember him describing Wisp, per se, but rather some form of advanced chewing gum.

So, what's the deal, are soldiers really using these things? I've tried them. They're definitely better than not doing anything at all, but there is no comparison to actually brushing my teeth.

ASOD: Resize and Reposition Hulu Pop-out Window
kitteh
xv
Pretty straightforward. This should port pretty well to various setups. Adjust the x variable to change the absolute size. Now that I think about it, I could have made it proportional to the screen size. Part of the reason for this, though, is that flash doesn't scale particularly well, it depends on how much performance you want out of your machine, in which case I should make it continuously proportional to processor load. It never ends.
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46-F: OK Then.
kitteh
xv

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ASOD: The 23,401 Names for Gaddafi
kitteh
xv
The inspiration for this comes from Muammar Gaddafi's Wikipedia page, which has a nifty diagram of all the possible transliterations of his Arabic name, along with common versions used by mass media outlets. The first part of the script interprets the diagram to generate 20 random combinations and sends them to the Mac's text-to-speech engine one by one. The second part computes all possible combinations implied by the diagram.
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QOTD: Why am I losing so much water?
kitteh
xv
This makes me think maybe I should take a physics course.

I have one of these ceramic "crock pot" water dispensers. It has no electricity, but it does cool water a couple degrees south of room temperature. I have no complaints about its water dispensing abilities. What irritates me is how much water it's losing to the surrounding air as the humidity drops. Is there any way to stop the bleeding? I'm not entirely sure how the gas is escaping so efficiently, although I'm sure the heat transfer properties of the ceramic has something to do with it. Is there any way to seal the system better? Something to do with the tap, perhaps? Put rocks on top of the tank? Wrap the pot in a blanket? Is this even advisable for health concerns? Maybe I should just take a chill pill, as I'm only paying a buck fifty per 5 gallons of water. Still, it's irritating to have to swap the tank more than necessary. I suppose I could get excited about having automatically maintained (and filtered!) ambient humidity. Might be good for my skin.
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ASOD: Word Count
kitteh
xv
Counts all the words in all open TextEdit documents and prints them neatly to result. The handler is there so I can count words in the main section of some document, apart from its front and back matter. Sorry if it doesn't render the diamond correctly, on macs the key is Option+Shift+V for a diamond: ◊. You would need two diamonds to use this feature, one at the start of the body, and another at the end of the body. I picked it because I'm otherwise unlikely to use that symbol in the body, but the delimiter could be anything. "tk" is a popular plaintext delimiter, as there aren't many common English words with those two letters adjacent.
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