Ever wondered how geckos can climb and hang onto virtually any type of surface? I know I did! OK, maybe not. Anyway, scientists have discovered that millions of setae (tiny hairs) with tiny pads on the end are responsible for this ability, rather than any kind of adhesive or secretion that other animals use to “stick” to surfaces. The pads adhere because of molecular attraction due to van de Waal’s forces; the resultant of all the pads on a gecko could support up to 280 pounds. Researchers are already trying to figure out a way to apply this discovery, which could result in a new class of adhesives.

The ChickenCan you believe that The Chicken has been at it for 29 years? Even more amazing, the same person, Ted Giannoulas, has been portraying the mascot the entire time. Unfortunately, in a sad turn of events, “he did not work a major league park this season, because the big leaguers no longer have the time or the interest.” Giannoulas quips, “The players are way too cool. Guys who I had fun with in the minor leagues wouldn’t even say hello to me anymore.”

This is yet another indication that baseball players these days are spoiled, whiny brats. I remember “back in my day” watching TWIB (or was it The Baseball Bunch with Johnny Bench?) and thinking that The Chicken’s antics with players were hilarious. Of course, at seven years old it doesn’t take much to amuse, but that’s not the point. <rant>The point is that it’s “all about the Benjamins” now. There’s no team loyalty; players are treated as commodities to the highest bidder. There’s not as much real athleticism these days; steady upswing in steroid abuse shows that many players are taking shortcuts to performance. And finally, there’s a lack of respect for the fans. The previous two things I mentioned alone show that the players care more about themselves than the game, but in the end it’s the fans who suffer. I was never the biggest baseball fan, but I can say for sure that I’ve become steadily more dillusioned about the game after the ‘94 strike and now the strike impending at the end of this week. Players (and owners too; I’m not letting them off that easy) better realize that in the end if no one comes to watch you play then you’re sure as hell not going to get the millions of dollars you feel you are entitled to.</rant>

I know that this kind of trend is not unique to baseball, but hearing about The Chicken and thinking about the impending baseball strike made me go off (obviously). Ah, that’s much better… Oh, and this week’s Onion infographic is pretty funny too.

I know I give W a bad rap sometimes, but you know what? He deserves it. “Adventures in George W. Bushspeak” shows how consistently inane, unintelligible, and just plain stupid our president can be. At a minimum, he’s setting a terrible example for the children of the nation in the way our president, of all people, murders the English language. At the worst, he is making the U.S. a laughing stock in the international community because of the image of intellectual mediocrity (to say the least) that he portrays.

2005 VW Microbus“Every kid who ever hung out with the drama group is now spoiling every song you ever loved by obscure artists the world over” by using them in advertising. The Gap alone is responsible for ruining many a song for me, and the fact that Volkswagen sells a soundtrack album tells you something. Although I must admit that their commercials aren’t quite as egregiously annoying as some; maybe it’s because I own a VW.

Speaking of which, VW is reintroducing the Microbus in 2005. It looks alright, but departs a little too much from the ‘60s classic in my opinion. At least the New Beetle is an obvious descendant of the original…

Tiny Ms. Pac-ManTiny Windows Games is chock full of fun, tiny (the picture on the right is actual size) games. I’d visited a while ago, but since then they’ve added a whole lot of classic arcade games to waste time at work entertain you.

Smokey The BearSmokey The Bear was created in 1944 as the “poster animal” for fire prevention. The campaign still continues, although this year the message is being changed to reflect the wildfires that struck the western U.S. in recent years. The link goes over the history of the campaign and collects some of the images used over the years.

The British Library’s project “Turning the Pages” is a really nice interactive Shockwave application that allows you to view some of their rare works online. The detail and related information provided is quite stunning.

Jupiter detailThe Voyager missions are now in their 25th year and are a shining example of what NASA used to be capable of. It is hoped that one or both spacecraft will soon reach the heliopause, the outer reaches of our solar system where the solar winds cease and interstellar forces dominate. For a timeline of the missions, check out the story at planetary.org. The link “Voyager’s Photo Legacy” and this NASA JPL link are good sources for some of the images sent by the spacecraft. The discussion at slashdot.org is pretty interesting and is also interspersed with more links to explore.