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Raytracing a Black Hole

Posted on March 10th, 2015 at 12:08 by John Sinteur in category: awesome, Great Picture



It’s now clear I’m on a Black Hole binge (I can stop when I want, by the way). They’re endlessly fascinating. My recent interest was in particular focused on simulating visualizations of the Schwarzschild geometry. I was preoccupied by the problem of generating a decent accurate representation of how the curvature of such a spacetime affects the appearance of the sky (since photons from distance sources ride along geodesics bent by the Black Hole), for the purpose of creating an interactive simulation

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Badass Journalist Shuts A Man Down After He Says It’s Beneath Him To Be Interviewed By Her

Posted on March 9th, 2015 at 14:14 by John Sinteur in category: awesome, batshitinsane

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  1. To be fair to the old git, she was glazing over when he started on about ancient history (1970’s). Happens to me all the time. Young people got no repsect for their elders :-)

How All Her Children Fought came to be a film: sometimes it pays to take a chance

Posted on February 13th, 2015 at 14:08 by John Sinteur in category: awesome


About two and a half years ago an odd email dropped into my inbox out of nowhere. It seemed to be a quickly written email from someone in Ireland. The writer, Liam, said he was asking if I had any stories that I thought might be worth filming. In particular, he was trying to find something under fifteen minutes long that he, and a crew of others from his village in Ireland, could enter into a film competition. And they needed it, like, yesterday.

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  1. Amazing! Thx for that!

Ask not…

Posted on February 10th, 2015 at 18:32 by John Sinteur in category: awesome


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  1. Actually, the dogs I know bark for any freaking thing, so don’t feel all special.

“Old Man, take a look at yourself, I’m a lot like you.”

Posted on February 4th, 2015 at 19:31 by John Sinteur in category: awesome


In the grand tradition of John Belushi and Joe Cocker, we now have Jimmy Fallon and Neil Young.

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Sheriff’s office rug with ‘In Dog We Trust’ typo sells for nearly $10,000

Posted on January 22nd, 2015 at 23:38 by John Sinteur in category: awesome


A Florida sheriff’s office has turned a $500 mistake into a $9,650 windfall for charity.

The Pinellas County Sheriff’s office ordered a new rug, which turned up last week with a typo. The large green rug with the black and yellow Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office logo included the phrase “In Dog We Trust” within one of its crests.

It was supposed to read “In God We Trust.”

The Sheriff’s Office said rug manufacturer, American Floor Mats, would replace it

That could have been the end of the story except Sheriff Bob Gualtieri had an idea.

He decided to auction off the unique item — the “doggone rug,” as he called it — and donate the proceeds to a local rescue.

“The Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office will not sweep anything under the rug,” the department said when it put up the item.

Jane Sidwell is the founder of Canine Estates Inc. She figured her shelter would net a few hundred bucks from the sale.

“I knew that the sheriff’s office paid $500 for it,” she told CNN affiliate Bay News 9 . “So I thought well, that’s great. We’ll get $500. But we had no idea it would escalate into what it has.”

Eighty three bids later, the rug was sold — for a whopping $9,650!

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Take Me to Church

Posted on January 14th, 2015 at 22:38 by John Sinteur in category: awesome


At a show in Paris earlier this month Irish singer-songwriter Hozier was treated to a unique surprise. Unbeknownst to him or most of the audience, a radio station and the venue had stationed a 20-member choir as normal audience members in the front row.

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  1. Fantastic!

Bill Murray

Posted on January 1st, 2015 at 17:56 by John Sinteur in category: awesome



“You gotta love Bill Murray. The actor had been invited to the White House along with other cast members of ‘The Monuments Men’ for a movie screening in the Family Theater of the White House. Prior to the screening, the President was to greet some of the cast members in the Diplomatic Reception Room. A White House staff person had told Murray where to stand, meaning before the greet. But when the President walked into the room, Murray stayed put, saying ‘they told me to stand here.'” (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

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Best photographs of 2014

Posted on December 31st, 2014 at 11:49 by John Sinteur in category: awesome


From the Ferguson riots to the school attack in Peshawar, a Missouri ‘firenado’ and hailstones in Siberia: the Guardian’s features picture editor Sarah Gilbert selects the most compelling images of 2014

The Guardian – World Press Photo awards 2014
The Guardian – The 20 photographs of the year
The Guardian – Photographer of the year 2014: Bulent Kilic
The Guardian – Animal photographs of the year 2014
The Guardian – Best portraits of 2014

YEAR IN PHOTOS: Photographers’ favorite images from 2014

TIME Picks the Top 10 Photos of 2014

Reuters pictures of the year 2014

Associated Press, Pictures of the Year

The Mirror – 25 Most Striking Pictures of the Year 2014

Natural History Museum – Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2014


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Posted on December 23rd, 2014 at 12:32 by John Sinteur in category: awesome


An excerpt from the book “Sled Driver” by former SR-71 pilot Brian Shul:

There were a lot of things we couldn’t do in an SR-71, but we were the fastest guys on the block and loved reminding our fellow aviators of this fact. People often asked us if, because of this fact, it was fun to fly the jet. Fun would not be the first word I would use to describe flying this plane. Intense, maybe, even cerebral. But there was one day in our Sled experience when we would have to say that it was pure fun to be the fastest guys out there, at least for a moment.

It occurred when Walt and I were flying our final training sortie. We needed 100 hours in the jet to complete our training and attain Mission Ready status. Somewhere over Colorado we had passed the century mark. We had made the turn in Arizona and the jet was performing flawlessly. My gauges were wired in the front seat and we were starting to feel pretty good about ourselves, not only because we would soon be flying real missions but because we had gained a great deal of confidence in the plane in the past ten months. Ripping across the barren deserts 80,000 feet below us, I could already see the coast of California from the Arizona border. I was, finally, after many humbling months of simulators and study, ahead of the jet.

I was beginning to feel a bit sorry for Walter in the back seat. There he was, with no really good view of the incredible sights before us and tasked with monitoring four different radios. This was good practice for him for when we began flying real missions and when a priority transmission from headquarters could be vital. It had been difficult, too, for me to relinquish control of the radios, as during my entire flying career I had controlled my own transmissions. But it was part of the division of duties in this plane and I had adjusted to it. I still insisted on talking on the radio while we were on the ground, however. Walt was so good at many things, but he couldn’t match my expertise at sounding smooth on the radios, a skill that had been honed sharply with years in fighter squadrons where the slightest radio miscue was grounds for beheading. He understood that and allowed me that luxury. Just to get a sense of what Walt had to contend with, I pulled the radio toggle switches and monitored the frequencies along with him. The predominant radio chatter was from Los Angeles Center, far below us, controlling daily traffic in their sector. While they had us on their scope (albeit briefly), we were in uncontrolled airspace and normally would not talk to them unless we needed to descend into their airspace.

We listened as the shaky voice of a lone Cessna pilot who asked Center for a read-out of his ground speed. Center replied: “November Charlie 175, I’m showing you at ninety knots on the ground.” Now the thing to understand about Center controllers was that whether they were talking to a rookie pilot in a Cessna, or to Air Force One, they always spoke in the exact same, calm, deep, professional tone that made one feel important. I referred to it as the “Houston Center voice.” I have always felt that after years of seeing documentaries on this country’s space program and listening to the calm and distinct voice of the Houston controllers, that all other controllers since then wanted to sound like that and that they basically did. And it didn’t matter what sector of the country we would be flying in, it always seemed like the same guy was talking. Over the years that tone of voice had become somewhat of a comforting sound to pilots everywhere. Conversely, over the years, pilots always wanted to ensure that, when transmitting, they sounded like Chuck Yeager, or at least like John Wayne. Better to die than sound bad on the radios.

Just moments after the Cessna’s inquiry, a Twin Beech piped up on frequency, in a rather superior tone, asking for his ground speed in the Beech. “I have you at one hundred and twenty-five knots of ground speed.” Boy, I thought, the Beechcraft really must think he is dazzling his Cessna brethren.

Then out of the blue, a navy F-18 pilot out of NAS Lemoore came up on frequency. You knew right away it was a Navy jock because he sounded very cool on the radios. “Center, Dusty 52 ground speed check.” Before Center could reply, I’m thinking to myself, hey, Dusty 52 has a ground speed indicator in that million-dollar cockpit, so why is he asking Center for a read-out? Then I got it, ol’ Dusty here is making sure that every bug smasher from Mount Whitney to the Mojave knows what true speed is. He’s the fastest dude in the valley today, and he just wants everyone to know how much fun he is having in his new Hornet. And the reply, always with that same, calm, voice, with more distinct alliteration than emotion: “Dusty 52, Center, we have you at 620 on the ground.” And I thought to myself, is this a ripe situation, or what? As my hand instinctively reached for the mic button, I had to remind myself that Walt was in control of the radios. Still, I thought, it must be done in mere seconds we’ll be out of the sector and the opportunity will be lost. That Hornet must die, and die now. I thought about all of our Sim training and how important it was that we developed well as a crew and knew that to jump in on the radios now would destroy the integrity of all that we had worked toward becoming. I was torn.

Somewhere, 13 miles above Arizona, there was a pilot screaming inside his space helmet. Then, I heard it the click of the mic button from the back seat. That was the very moment that I knew Walter and I had become a crew. Very professionally, and with no emotion, Walter spoke: “Los Angeles Center, Aspen 20, can you give us a ground speed check?” There was no hesitation, and the replay came as if it was an everyday request.

“Aspen 20, I show you at one thousand eight hundred and forty-two knots, across the ground.” I think it was the forty-two knots that I liked the best, so accurate and proud was Center to deliver that information without hesitation, and you just knew he was smiling. But the precise point at which I knew that Walt and I were going to be really good friends for a long time was when he keyed the mic once again to say, in his most fighter-pilot-like voice: “Ah, Center, much thanks, we’re showing closer to nineteen hundred on the money.”

For a moment Walter was a god. And we finally heard a little crack in the armor of the Houston Center voice when L.A. came back with, “Roger that Aspen. Your equipment is probably more accurate than ours. You boys have a good one.” It all had lasted for just moments, but in that short, memorable sprint across the southwest the Navy had been flamed, all mortal airplanes on frequency were forced to bow before the King of Speed, and more importantly, Walter and I had crossed the threshold of being a crew. A fine day’s work. We never heard another transmission on that frequency all the way to the coast. For just one day, it truly was fun being the fastest guys out there.

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  1. 50 years old and it still looks like something out of science fiction! Even more repressive close up.

  2. typo repressive = impressive. gotta get my eyes checked.

  3. I got to see one of these up close and personal at the Cosmosphere in Hutchinson, KS. It’s both bigger AND smaller than expected. Hard to explain that one. They also had the cockpit sitting separately with all the instruments all around it so you could get an idea of how crowded it is. Really an amazing experience.

  4. Amazing machine, yes, but doesn’t the account read like willy waving on the public’s dime?

  5. @porpentine: Of course. It’s why they’re hired. To wave their enormous willies on our behalf.

Nasa emails spanner to space station

Posted on December 22nd, 2014 at 15:10 by John Sinteur in category: awesome


Astronauts on the International Space Station have used their 3-D printer to make a wrench from instructions sent up in an email.

It is the first time hardware has been “emailed” to space.

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Posted on December 9th, 2014 at 22:16 by John Sinteur in category: awesome

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Assassin’s Creed’s Paris vs Paris, 2014

Posted on December 3rd, 2014 at 18:43 by John Sinteur in category: awesome, Great Picture



Damien Hypolite, who by day works for Sciences et Avenir, is also a bit of an Assassin’s Creed fan. Seeing as the latest game is set in Paris, he figured he’d print out some screenshots, take them to the actual spots in the real world they’re based on, and see how they shape up.

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What am I running inside my bash?

Posted on October 3rd, 2014 at 19:07 by John Sinteur in category: awesome, Software


I have a long running bash instance (inside a screen session) that is executing a complex set of commands inside a loop (with each loop doing pipes, redirects, etc). The long command line was written inside the terminal – it’s not inside any script. Now, I know the bash process ID, and I have root access – how can I see the exact command line being executed inside that bash?

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Assassin’s Kittens Unity

Posted on September 28th, 2014 at 16:58 by John Sinteur in category: awesome

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Graffiti Removal Guy Comes Back to Discover Image of Himself in the Same Spot

Posted on September 24th, 2014 at 14:35 by John Sinteur in category: awesome, Great Picture



Street artist DS recently added a couple of paste-ups to a wall in London. It didn’t take too long before a graffiti removal guy removed the paste-ups. Shortly after that, DS was back with a paste up of the graffiti removal guy removing the graffiti. Gold!

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Social Engineering a Telemarketer

Posted on August 11th, 2014 at 16:10 by John Sinteur in category: awesome


Today is a good day. I just had a call from a telemarketer. Did I yell and scream at them, you ask? Certainly not. Like a good IT administrator I put my skills to use for their benefit. Here’s how the conversation went:

Computer: “Press 9 to not be contacted in the future. Press 4 to speak to someone about your mortgage issues”

TM: “Hello, are you having problems paying your mortgage?”

Me: “Hi, this is the IT department. We intercepted your call as we detected a problem with you phone and need to fix it.”

TM: “Oh… ok, well what do we need to do?”

Me: “We’re going to need to fix the settings by pressing 4-6-8 and * at the same time”

TM: “Ok, nothing happened.”

Me: “Are you using the new Polycom phones that we deployed?”

TM: “No, it’s a Yealink”

Me: “Ok, I see. You haven’t had the new Polycom phone deployed to your desk yet. Let me check our technical documentations for the Yealink.”

Me: “Alright, do you see an “OK” button on your phone?”

TM: “Yes I do”

Me: “Alright, you’re going to press and hold that button for 10 seconds.”

TM: “OK, pressing it now”

Me: “Perfect, let me know if you get a password request”

TM: “OK, nothing has popped up ye—-“

That’s right. I made a telemarketer unwittingly factory reset his phone which means he will be unable to make anymore calls until someone is able to reconfigure his phone and that will take at least an hour or longer if they can’t do it right away!

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  1. Almost as funny as this one

Storm Chasing on Saturn

Posted on August 10th, 2014 at 18:09 by John Sinteur in category: awesome


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REMUS SharkCam: The hunter and the hunted

Posted on August 5th, 2014 at 13:50 by John Sinteur in category: awesome

REMUS SharkCam: The hunter and the hunted from Woods Hole Oceanographic Inst. on Vimeo.


In 2013, a team from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution took a specially equipped REMUS “SharkCam” underwater vehicle to Guadalupe Island in Mexico to film great white sharks in the wild. They captured more than they bargained for.

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  1. Blimey! I’ll stay inside the boat…

Don Buchla’s 1973 Music Easel

Posted on August 1st, 2014 at 22:20 by John Sinteur in category: awesome


Charles Cohen is a master synthesizer improviser who has been a central figure in Philadelphia/East Coast experimental, avant-garde, and improvisational scene for the past 40 years. He is one of the few living artists to own and have mastered Don Buchla’s 1973 Music Easel, a rare, performance-oriented portable synth made from two modules of the Buchla 200 series.

Cohen will host a workshop illuminating both his unique creative philosophy and musical practice. He will also present the new re-issue of the original Buchla Music Easel system, produced in close consultation with Don Buchla himself.

The workshop will culminate in a collaborative jam session, during which participants are invited to use their own analogue equipment, as well as the equipment found at Schneidersladen, famous with audiophiles world-wide for its expansive selection of weird and wonderful sound generating devices.

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Posted on July 31st, 2014 at 16:41 by John Sinteur in category: awesome

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  1. He had more fun building it, than his kids have had playing with it! :-)
    Very neat!

Doctors Bow In Reverence To Cancer Victim Who Donated Organs ‘To Be A Great Kid’

Posted on July 28th, 2014 at 9:40 by John Sinteur in category: awesome, Great Picture



Liang was diagnosed with the tumor at the age of 9, just after he moved to Shenzhen to join his brother and sister, and to attend primary school, Shanghai Daily reports. One day, Liang felt dizzy and the next day had trouble walking, so his sister took him to a hospital where he learned he had a brain tumor.

Before passing away on June 6, Liang told his mother, Li Qun, that he wanted to donate his organs.

“There are many people doing great things in the world,” he said according to China Daily. “They are great, and I want to be a great kid too.”

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Here’s A Super Simple Way To See Where Your Congressmen Get Their Money

Posted on July 11th, 2014 at 8:56 by Paul Jay in category: awesome


Wouldn’t it be nice to easily be able to see who’s funding your congressperson? A new browser plugin for Safari, Google Chrome, and soon Firefox, promises to do just that.

 The free plugin, called “Greenhouse,” was created by 16-year-old Nicholas Rubin, a self-taught programmer based in Seattle. Greenhouse was designed to expose the role that money plays in Congress by offering “detailed campaign contribution data for every Senator and Representative, including total amount received and breakdown by industry and by size of donation.”

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75th Anniversary of Lou Gehrig’s Retirement Speech

Posted on July 3rd, 2014 at 14:12 by John Sinteur in category: awesome


75 years ago, Lou Gehrig — a man who played in 2,130 consecutive games, won six World Series titles, batted a career .340/.447/.632 (and batted .361/.477/.731 in his 34 World Series games) — was only 36 years old and dying from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.

He stood in front of over 61,000 fans in Yankee Stadium and delivered this speech.

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Windmills 5 Don Quixote 1

Posted on June 14th, 2014 at 12:00 by John Sinteur in category: awesome

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Eric Cantor Loses: The Official Live Thread of the South Carolina and Virginia Primaries

Posted on June 11th, 2014 at 11:11 by John Sinteur in category: awesome


It’s a historic defeat. Not since the 2004 defeat of Tom Daschle has a party’s congressional majority leader lost an election; I’m still struggling to find a case where a majority leader lost a primary. And while I covered David Brat’s race against Cantor a few times, I joined the vast majority of journalists in assuming Cantor would take this. After all, he seemed to spot the voter unrest early on, and he spent nearly $1 milllion in the final weeks while Brat struggled to spend six figures.

Funding: Cantor: $5.4M; Brat: $207k

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  1. The Republican party needs to learn, you live by the sword, you die by the sword.
    They thought they could gerrymander or otherwise rig elections and electoral districts. They thought they could push the edge furthest from the political center to get a fired-up, always-dependable base to turn out & vote for them.
    What did they achieve? They made a political monster and now it’s out of their control.
    Where districts are finely balanced, only the centerist politicians can consistently win Primaries. In a finely balanced district, the centerist can honestly say to the party members, “Sure he’s more hard-line than me, but we all know he’ll never win the election. What do you want, a centerist winner from your party or a hard-line, extremist loser?”
    Now the Repugs will have to spend their time worrying. Not about the Democrats but about someone further out to the right challenging them in a Primary until finally, even the electorate in a gerrymandered district won’t vote for someone -that- crazy…

  2. In case you guys didn’t know, the problem here is Loony is being replaced by Loonier.

  3. The danger here is the 1% may not be able to buy elections anymore. There’s no profit in a $207K House seat.

  4. @chas: If that happens, expect a military coup.

Ever Wished That Calvin and Hobbes Creator Bill Watterson Would Return to the Comics Page? Well, He Just Did.

Posted on June 7th, 2014 at 18:57 by John Sinteur in category: awesome


…He had a comic strip idea he wanted to run by me.

Now if you had asked me the odds of Bill Watterson ever saying that line to me, I’d say it had about the same likelihood as Jimi Hendrix telling me he had a new guitar riff. And yes, I’m aware Hendrix is dead.

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Not Invited

Posted on May 27th, 2014 at 20:25 by Paul Jay in category: awesome, Funny!, Joke


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  1. I can just imagine R.R. Martin at the next wedding he goes to. He turns to the person sitting next to him and whispers that he’s ‘arranged a surprise’ for the Bride & Groom.

    And five minutes later, he’s the only person in the room and you can just hear the sounds of the stampede off in the distance as everyone bolts for the horizon…

  2. This wedding was all about green.

Pennsylvania’s Gay Marriage Ban Is Struck Down

Posted on May 21st, 2014 at 10:18 by John Sinteur in category: awesome


Pennsylvania’s ban on gay marriage was overturned by a federal judge Tuesday in a decision that legalized the practice throughout the Northeast and sent couples racing to pick up licenses.

U.S. District Judge John E. Jones III called the plaintiffs — a widow, 11 couples and one couple’s teenage daughters — courageous for challenging the constitutionality of the ban passed by lawmakers in 1996.

“We are a better people than what these laws represent, and it is time to discard them into the ash heap of history,” the judge wrote.

Here’s the opinion.

For richer, for poorer
The plaintiff couples share their resources and support each other financially[…]

In sickness and in health
The plaintiff couples have supported each other through illness and medical emergencies[…]

For better, for worse
The plaintiff couples have shared in life’s joys[…]

Until death do us part
The plaintiff couples demonstrate an intention to live out their lives together.

Plaintiff Maureen Hennessey and her partner of 29 years, Mary Beth McIntyre, present a powerful example. When Mary Beth was diagnosed with inoperable Stage 4 lung cancer, Maureen left her job to care for her and to help run Mary Beth’s business until her death. Towards the end of her life, Mary Beth required Maureen’s help to get out of bed and to the bathroom, and to assist in self-care and administer medications. They were married in Massachusetts after Mary Beth fell ill, but because Pennsylvania does not recognize their marriage, the line for “surviving spouse” was left blank and Mary Beth was identified as “never married” on her death certificate. Maureen was listed as the “informant.”

Wishing to have their relationships recognized for what they are in the state they call home, and by doing so to transcend the pain, uncertainty, and injustice visited by the Marriage Laws, Plaintiffs brought this suit…

…The issue we resolve today is a divisive one. Some of our citizens are made deeply uncomfortable by the notion of same-sex marriage. However, that same-sex marriage causes discomfort in some does not make its prohibition constitutional. Nor can past tradition trump the bedrock constitutional guarantees…we are a better people than what these laws represent, and it is time to discard them to the ash heap of history.

Now that the institution of marriage is destroyed and all morality abandoned, any stats on how many people have married their dogs during the past year? 100,000? 500,000?

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  1. None probably. I guess that means the dogs aren’t ready to commit.

A Better Way to Say Sorry

Posted on April 19th, 2014 at 10:15 by John Sinteur in category: awesome


I’m sorry for…

This is wrong because…

In the future, I will…

Will you forgive me?

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