Author Archive | drtundra

Assman’s Balloon — Giant Floating Rubber with Payload

Assman's Balloon

“A German meteorologist named Assman improved on the concept by using closed rubber balloons that would burst at high altitude, with the payload parachuting back down to earth.”
–Greg Gobel, Pioneering the Balloon

Too many jokes… About to assplode …

Watch out for the payload!

More excellent photos at the Library of Congress Flickr Pages. More “ass” “men” at

Rodents of Unusual Size? I don’t believe they exist.

Giant ratNow that is a rat.

From the New Scientist story:

A 1-tonne rodent has been discovered by scientists in Uruguay. But there is no need to worry, Josephoartigasia monesi is around 2 million years old and fossilized.

By comparing the skull’s dimensions to the body sizes of existing rodents, the researchers determined that its owner probably weighed about 1000 kilograms, making it the world’s largest known rodent.

Bigger, even, than Walt Disney.

We’re not sure these guys exist either.

Weee, we have an asteroid named after us!

london, ontario logoI guess the video below is supposed to excite people about moving to London, Ontario. While I do not doubt that any of the long list of London’s accomplishments are true, some of them come across as damning us with faint praise.

For example, early in the video the line: “where global ambitions are realized at the 12th best business school in the world” actually made me laugh. I thought it was going to be a spoof. Perhaps, “where global ambitions are realized at one of the best business schools in the world” makes the point without the whiff of podunkism I detect.

But seriously, London is great because Johnny Cash proposed to the wife he made miserable here? Hey, didn’t Elvis Presley eat a grilled cheese sandwich at Simpson’s in London, Ontario? (Actually, the video is quite accurate about the good food — we have a lot of great restaurants for a relatively small city.)

Johnny Cash wasn’t even Canadian, let alone a Londoner. What about actual Londoners we should be proud of? Tommy Hunter is a famous country singer (well, in Canada), and he was born in London. What about Guy Lombardo? No mention of Emily Chesley? Outrageous!

Still, at least Asteroid 12310 is named after us. I just think “Welcome to Asteroid 12310, Population 365,000” is going to be confusing on the signs at the edge of town.

Now, the video:

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After, perhaps you can go visit, where it will be slightly less silly. Or, if you’re from London and you’d like to improve efforts to market our beautiful city (and it is), you can check out the Ambassador London website.

The Quest for Robotic Pirate Monkey Parity

Robotic Pirate Monkey A few days ago, we learned that scienticians had a major breakthrough in the science of creating robot monkeys; we thought that if they could only find monkeys that were also pirates, then humanity would no longer have to strive, to search, to create. We humans would have fashioned the ultimately cool super-beings.

But no! Here at The Skwib, we believe — no, we know — there are other combinations of artificially enhanced animal marauders that would be equally cool. Viking kittens, for example, would be almost as interesting as pirate monkeys. Cybernetic Viking Kittens would be sweet. (Especially if they had their own sound track, like these Scandinavian pusses.)

Some of you will naturally want to see animals steeped in the art of ninjitsu, which is just kind of sad. Ninjas, apart from generally sucking, are not marauders. They are assassins. Political or paid assassins, usually, and where is the fun in that? So, while we agree that a Mecha Ninja Squirrel (or God forbid, some kind of adolescent mutated reptile, trained by a rat) might sound intriguing, they would fall into another category entirely.

So, we hope that the scientific community will continue its good work with the robot monkeys, and at the same time, look into creating some other, equally awesome creatures:

  • Electromechanical Buccaneer Armadillos
  • Nuclear-powered Corsair Manatees
  • Automatic Bandit Platypuses
  • Carbine-toting Goth Penguins (the type that invaded Rome, not the depressed teenagers — Goths, not Penguins)
  • Hun Puppies (with machine guns instead of floppy ears)

If we have missed any obvious combinations, please leave them in the comments.

Graphic by, where you can get it on a t-shirt.

Brought to you by the letters w, y and b

the naughty letter wDude, this clipart reminds me of my time as an itinerant toe-surgeon in Bangkok.

You can check out the entire Erotic Clipart Alphabet over at Ration Reality. If you think the letter “w” is naughty, wait until you see “y”! Definitely not safe for work, and reminiscent of the Dirty Vicar sketch, especially “y”, thought I suppose that would be the “fornicating bishop” sketch.

Holy crap! I just noticed what’s really going on in the letter “b”…

Excuse me.

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Tundra’s Reviews: A Kafkaesque Nightmare with Moments of Dark Hilarity and Smug French People

An evil HMO directorInitially, I wasn’t sure how to categorize the movie. At first I thought it might be a musical about body mutilation, but then it got a bit darker, and stranger, and quite frightening.

I guess I would best categorize SiKCO as a kind of horror movie with SF tropes and moments of absurd comedy.

It kind of meanders for a horror flick, and a lot of characters get introduced throughout the story (and yes, a lot of bad things happen to them). The one character who remains unharmed — except for a painful interview he conducts with an extremely smug French couple — is the “film-maker” Michael Moore.

The framing device for this terrifying piece of fiction is that Michael Moore is a documentary maker. The CGI experts that created this sympathetic character are geniuses — yes, the protagonist is quite horrible to look, but you can really feel his humanity coming through those pixels, so you definitely sympathize with his want to help people.

And boy, in this setting, people need help. I mean, in this movie, if you’re ill, old or poor, you do not want to need a doctor. Basically, think of the HMOs as a horde of zombies, and anyone needing healthcare as brain-food on the hoof. As (an ex-) doctor, I was quite horrified to think that those organizations would spend so much of their time and effort denying care — clearly something is rotten in Denmark.

By contrast, the protagonist visits several countries that have universal healthcare. Part of it is even filmed in my hometown, of London, Ontario. This segment of the movie is fairly accurate, though there wasn’t much mention of efforts in Canada to privatize medicine. (Mostly unsuccessful so far, thank god.)

On the whole, I found SiCKO a disturbing and somewhat moving horror/comedy, though the ending, where a bunch of Americans are treated by Cuban doctors seemed a little too far fetched to believe. I bet it drives some people nuts though.

I give this four out of five peyote buttons!

Four out of five peyote buttons

Thanks to Archer at Lawyerworldland for suggesting I watch it. | Photo of the evil HMO Directory by brian cors