Is Anyone Even Awake At NASA?

What is wrong with this picture?

Asteroid 2014 RC Close Approach

This graphic depicts the passage of asteroid 2014 RC past Earth on September 7, 2014. At time of closest approach, the space rock will be about one-tenth the distance from Earth to the moon. Times indicated on the graphic are Universal Time.
Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

That is the cartoon created by NASA/JPL showing the trajectory of asteroid 2014 RC as it makes its close approach to Earth on September 7, 2014 (i.e. this Sunday). Click the link there to visit NASA’s original news bulletin on the subject. Problem is … it’s wrong.

Asteroid 2014 RC is expected to pass within about 25,000 miles (40,000 km) radial distance from Earth’s center, or about 21,126 miles (34,000 km) from Earth’s surface. Geosynchronous satellites (the green ring in NASA’s cartoon) orbit at a radial distance of 26,000 miles (42,000 km), or about 22,000 miles (36,000 km) above the planet’s surface. In other words, that little line showing the path of the asteroid should be INSIDE the green geosynchronous satellite ring.

I dunno … maybe I”m just being a dick by pointing this out here. But come on man! It’s fucking NASA! Can’t they draw a cartoon right?

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Cure For Everything Now Patented!

Got a bat-shit crazy idea?

Do you tend to ramble incoherently?

Then you need write a patent! No worries — the US patent office will accept anything, no matter how crazy it is. Case in point: US Patent No. 8,609,158 which is, apparently, a cure for everything. It is a patent for a pharmaceutical drug, or food, or recipe, or lifestyle (it’s really hard to say) that purports to be “so potent that it removes or alleviates” the following problems:


  1. Depression
  2. Mood disorders
  3. Attention Disorder symptoms
  4. Thought disorder
  5. Mental illness
  6. Pain
  7. Right lip retardation symptoms
  8. Physical problems
  9. Lymph Node cancer
  10. Bumps in the neck
  11. … and many other illness symptoms

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A Glimmer of Human Sedition


PHOTO PROMPT Copyright – Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

Doug cradled his coffee cup in his numb fingers as he warmed his weary bones beside the fire. Far to the east, a dome of light illuminated the night sky: The city from which they had fled, where electricity and heat and comfort were plentiful.

A fellow refugee glared at the dome and raised a clenched fist into the air. “Fucking robots.”

“Boys and girls,” said Doug, “the human race needs to fight back. It’s now or never.”

Gaunt faces all around nodded approval in the glow of the campfire. “Aye,” said one. None noticed the drone overhead.

An entry for this weeks Friday Fictioneers, hosted by Rochelle. The idea is to write, in 100 words or less, a story based on the week’s photo prompt. Thus far, I’m always over 100 words, although for this weeks entry I think I’m pretty much spot on. I never could keep my crayon inside the damn lines! 😛

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It’s Not Ebola, I Swear!


PHOTO PROMPT Copyright — Madison Woods

“Oh … my … God!” The rather sexy, bikini-clad woman in the hammock looked down at the glob of goo that had dribbled out of my mouth and then back up to me. “Are you like dying or something?”

It was such a lovely spot for a hammock: A shady little nook just off the sand on the Bahamian beach. I coughed and hacked a bit more and admired the colorful material that had been expelled from my mouth.

“That’s nothing,” I said. “You should see what’s been coming out of the other end! Don’t worry though: I’m sure it’s not Ebola.”

She packed up her stuff in a hurry and took off running. The hammock was mine! I put my novelty phlegm away and lay back in the shade.

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I Fouwned The Moist Miss Speiled 4um On The InterTOOB!!!

I was browsing around VICE bright and early this morning when I stopped to read this article on the Flat Earth Society. It’s an interview and it’s pretty interesting. Among the things I learned this morning: The Sun and Moon are each a mere 32 miles in diameter and float about 2,500 miles above us. That little morsel of information alone was worth my time!

The Flat Earth Society is something that I’ve long assumed that, in its modern incarnations, is simply a joke. You know … some frat boys maybe having a good time. I thought basically that it was an elaborate troll. Having read a bit about them this morning, I’m now convinced they are dead serious. That takes them from the “funny hah hah” category to the “funny bat-shit crazy stupid” category.

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Navigate Off Road


PHOTO PROMPT — Copyright-Roger Bultot

“Turn right and continue for two miles.”

Bud eyed the dashboard suspiciously. “Are you sure you know where you’re going?”

“Recalculating,” purred the strangely erotic feminine voice of the truck. “In zero point three miles, turn left.”

“Left?” asked Bud. “I thought you said right?”


Bud jumped at the sudden command barked by the truck. He yanked the steering wheel hard to the left, sending his truck careening down the side of a steep, heavily foliaged embankment. Breaking through the trees, the truck spun and screeched to a stop in a parking spot at his destination. Shaking, Bud eyed the scattered mail that had come to rest in the footwell of the passenger seat. Among the letters was one from Garmin labeled Recall Notice.

“Heh heh heh,” said the truck. “We’re here.”

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Invasive Species: Postdocs On A NAKKID Beach

There is a place that devours overly curious postdocs in much the same way that a Venus flytrap devours bugs. It deposits its postdoc victims on a nude beach from which there is seemingly no escape. This is the story of the time I was eaten by that Venus flytrap and how I fought my way back to civilization.

So …

You’re fresh out of graduate school and have just arrived in La Jolla, California, for a postdoc position at The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI). Try not to do what I did.

First of all, I should point out that I’m talking about the 1996-1998 time frame here. I don’t know how things are now in 2014 and beyond. If things are still as I recall them, however, you are probably staying at The Lodge at Torrey Pines. It’s a rather attractive place — comfortable rooms; golf course overlooking the Pacific — and conveniently just a few blocks north of TSRI (part of the golf course runs behind TSRI). If, like me, you make the mistake of arriving on the Friday before Memorial Day weekend, forget about apartment hunting since none of the apartment complex offices will be open on Monday. Doh!

robertosIf you’re going to do what I did, go ahead and find a Roberto’s Taco Stand now, because you’ll need the calories. There used to be one at the lagoon between La Jolla and Del Mar where you can enjoy the ocean breeze as you scarf down your taco.

When I arrived in La Jolla, the first thing I did after checking into the hotel was grab a phone book and start looking up apartment complexes. But since, as I’ve already said, all the offices were closed for the extended holiday weekend, I decided to relax a little and go about the area and get familiar with things. To my surprise, it was not a terribly busy local. Torrey Pines Road is certainly a busy highway, but it isn’t too busy, and I never really saw traffic get backed up on it when I was there. Scripps was just south of  The Lodge at Torrey Pines. — just passed one other hotel, actually, and beyond that traffic got busier as you continued south into the UCSD vicinity. Walking south along Torrey Pines road, one quickly comes to a small road just south of TSRI that juts toward the ocean to the right. Follow that, and you’ll come to a hang glider park (Torrey Pines Gliderport).

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Kahlúa Says: No Gingerbread for YOU!


Kahlúa responded today to an email query from me regarding this years holiday “limited edition” flavors.

Thank you for your feedback Rob! Unfortunately, US won’t relaunch gingerbread this year but some stores might have some left. There will be peppermint mocha and pumpkin spice though!

That’s two years in a row. Fuuuuck!

What the hell is wrong with these people? Peppermint Mocha? Pumpkin Spice? Fuck your damn Pumpkin Spice, I want Gingerbread! It’s … important! :-/

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The Grangers

beach-hammock-sunsetBrian Bruso had been laying in his hammock, minding his own business and watching the surf come in, when the newsfeed on his augment displayed a video of some chick getting the shit kicked out of her. His decision to be alone that day was enough to earn him a beating of his own, or at least heaps of ridicule.

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Collecting Time


PHOTO PROMPT Copyright – Jan Wayne Fields

“Well? Whaddya think?”

“It’s … nice. But honey … can’t you collect snowglobes? Or music boxes or stamps?”

“I prefer to collect that which can’t be collected: Time, history, moments.”

“Hourglasses!” she said. “You can collect hourglasses! Like the sands of an hourglass, so are the days of our lives!”

He laughed. “It’s not the object that matters, honey: It’s the action. Imagine the many souls who may have sat at this desk, penning letters to distant lovers, perhaps off fighting in the Civil War.”

“Whatever you say, honey.” She caught a glimpse of a barely perceptible faded IKEA logo and smiled.

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The Creeping Slime Mold That Is Spam

Last month, I posted a short story called Sputnik The Alien Spambot. It’s kind of a weird story about an alien probe that lands on Earth and has a bit of a problem with spam. Anyway, it turns out that Sputnik The Alien Spambot is a freakin’ spam magnet. The text of the latest spam comment to have made it past my spam filter for that post reads as follows:

Arrange whole berries in tart shells and spoon glaze over berries. Peel, core, and cut apples into quarters or wedges, depending around the size in the apple.

No direct light, water once a week or less often when the conditions require and keeping the plant in a pot that enables room for your roots to breathe and grow the plant larger. Nonetheless, if springtime is much from now, it may still plant your rose in the summer.

But that’s not the fun part. The fun part is this: Out of curiosity, I copied the first line (“Arrange whole berries in tart shells and spoon glaze”) and pasted it into Google with the quotation marks so as to search for exact matches to the phrase. Google found 26,900 unique hit for the phrase, and each and everyone is a front site for spam. Many of them appear to have been shut down, but many are functional. Many of them are blogs; others are disguised as news sites or related. All of them are pure gibberish. That’s 26,900 gibberish websites just by searching for one lousy phrase!

Spam Advert

Game over man! It’s all over! Spam has taken over. 😦

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Back In The Day: My HIGHLY LETHAL Latin Class Projects

Yet another asinine “zero tolerance” story caught my eye this morning: A kid in Georgia was suspended for bringing a Nerf gun to school. Fucking hell. Some of the stuff I did when I was a kid back in the day would earn a kid a first class ticket to Guantánamo these days. For example, my projects for Latin class two years in a row back in junior high school.

CatapultFirst, there was the catapult. A lot of the kids in Latin class built catapults that year (all male, shockingly), and many of them looked pretty good — similar to what you see in the picture there. Mine didn’t look like that; mine looked like shit. But by God, it was functional and could (and did) take a chunk out of a wall. The arm of my catapult was make from an old broom handle, and to power it I used not one but two rubber tubes from old slingshots. I was rather proud of the handsome basket I built out of wood to hold the projectile. For a projectile, I used a large (half inch or so) ball bearing.

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Who DOESN’T Have A Neighborhood Atomic Bomb Crater?

Sixty-nine years ago today, an atomic bomb codenamed Little Boy was dropped on Hiroshima. It was a U-235 device and is one of the only two (so far) nuclear bombs ever used in war. The other is of course the plutonium-based Fat Man dropped on Nagasaki three days later.

While only two nuclear devices have intentionally been dropped on populated areas, there is a long list of Broken Arrows — bombs dropped kind of by accident. Oops! These have ranged all the way from the simplest fission devices, similar to those dropped on Japan, to multi-megaton fusion devices.

I moved to the Midlands of South Carolina about sixteen years ago for a job in pharma, and while I knew vaguely at the time that an atomic bomb was once dropped somewhere in the state, I didn’t know exactly where. I had read that the incident occurred in Mars Bluff. Okay … that didn’t mean dick to me. Where the fuck is Mars Bluff? Continue reading

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What the Hell is THAT?

House at base of cliff.

PHOTO PROMPT – Copyright-Björn Rudberg

This is my third week participating in Friday Fictioneers — something I started to do as a way to prod myself into writing more. It helps, and it’s a bit of fun. I’m not quite used to the idea of being presented with a photograph and told to write a story about it. Ordinarily, I would keep shuffling through photos until I found one that suited me, and then I would write a story. That of course is not an option here, which is part of the value of Friday Fictioneers … you’re kind of stuck with a photo and can’t take the easy way out!

When I saw this week’s photo, my first reaction was: What the hell is that? I followed the photograph’s copyright link hoping to get some background info, but couldn’t find anything related to this particular photograph. So … *Cough!* … gonna kind of wing it here.

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The Trail’s End

This short film popped up in my reader feed the other day and I can’t stop watching it. It’s less than ten minutes in length, but it’s really good with fantastic acting. This level of professionalism and polish is damn rare in short films like this. Additional information about the film is available at this link.

You have to watch it, because … robots! 😀

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Juicy Fruit


PHOTO PROMPT- Copyright Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

“Take a good long look,” said the US Marshal next to me as I gazed out the airplane window. “You’ll never see this place again.” Underneath the jacket folded over my arms, I could feel the handcuffs cutting into me. “Your last plane ride.” I could taste the satisfaction in his words.

“Don’t be too sure,” I said. “How about loosening the cuffs a little.”

“Guess I can do that,” he said, and he opened them up a notch. “Gum?”

“Ah … Juicy Fruit,” I said, echoing the Indian in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. But I politely declined the offer and watched as he peeled away the foil from a stick and slid it into his smug orifice.

“They’re going to fry your ass,” he said with a grin.

I watched his mandibles work the gum as he continued to grin at me. “Did you know,” I said, “that maitotoxin has an LD50 in mice of only 50 nanograms per kilogram body mass?”

For some reason, he didn’t grin for the rest of the flight home.


Submitted for Friday Fictioneers. 🙂

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Rise Of The Sex-Crazed Space Geckos

When contact was lost recently with a Russian spaceship carrying a colony of sex-crazed space geckos, the horny reptiles on board had no idea their internal communications were being recorded by the US National Security Agency (NSA), who of course thought they were listening to Russian cosmonauts. What follows is based on a translation of the NSA transcript.

Sex Gecko

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The Almost Fetishistic Allure of STEAMPUNK

Maybe it’s just me?

I never really stopped to consider before what the sub-genre of science fiction known as Steampunk is all about, or why it elicits such a strong emotional response in me. In fact, I wasn’t familiar at all with the term steampunk until recently, but looking back now I can see it as a common thread that runs throughout many of of my favorite science fiction TV shows and movies. Consider the TV show The Wild, Wild West, which I watched as a kid. Consider all of the Mad Max Movies. Consider Firefly. What is it about anachronistic technology comprised of brass and leather and glass that gets me so excited?

It can’t just be me, because look at all the products that are available in steampunk designs …

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ScienceNews Magazine Thinks The Onion is Peer-Reviewed

An article appeared this past week on ScienceNews titled “Schadenfreude starts young.” The gist of the article is that being an asshole starts in childhood (Schadenfreude is the pleasure derived in the misfortune of others).

Interestingly, the first version of the article referenced The Onion as the scholarly source of a study claiming that most children under 10 are sociopaths. That version of the article was quickly scrubbed from the website and replaced with a revised version without any acknowledgement that a revision had been made. Of course, the cached version is still floating around out there in the intertubes. If you’re not familiar with looking up the cached versions of web pages, just copy and paste the URL into a Google search box, and type “cache:” immediately in front of the “http” at the beginning of the URL.

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Sal’s Pawn & Metal Emporium

I posted a longer version of this story a month ago, here, but I was never satisfied with it. The story works best I think as short flash fiction, so I chopped out the unnecessary material and made a few other changes. I’m much happier with this version. — Rob

platinum-eagleMike plopped his American Eagle down on the counter at Sal’s Pawn & Metal Emporium. He figured it should be good for $1,500 or so — enough to get by until payday. Behind the window at the counter, a decrepit-looking man who resembled the farmer in the famous painting American Gothic, only mummified and with a longer and girthier neck, carefully picked up the platinum coin with a bit of tissue, as if it were a dead cockroach, and eyed it with a distinct look of disdain, his lip curling to one side. He then dropped the bullion piece back down onto the counter and slid it back to Mike. “We aren’t interested in ghetto metals here,” he said.

“Ghetto metals?” said Mike. “What the fuck man? It’s platinum!”

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