Saturday, February 12, 2011

Commando, two versions, without comment

Wednesday, February 09, 2011


I used to love paper airplanes when I was a kid. I made tiny planes only 3 mm long and I made those paper planes that you had to cut a bunch of pieces out of the book and glued together. This is what would have happened if I had stuck with it instead of going into biology.

[via Colossal]

You're all a bunch of sissies

On Wednesday Don Shelby (former news anchor at WCCO Television) gave an impassioned talk at the Institute on the Environment at the University of Minnesota about communicating science. Here are a few of the lessons I took away from the talk. Watch the talk here.

1. The public is absurdly lacking in science knowledge and interest in science. This is something I suspected, but I have a distorted view of the public. Hearing this from an expert and public figure in communication with the public made me squirm. It's a very uncomfortable thing to know.

Scientists don't get in fights. I don't mean academic arguments, I mean fist fights. Apparently, you are more likely to find a climate denier in a room full of climate scientists than a scientist who has punched another person or been punched by another person. Which brings me to three:

3. 97/100 climate scientists consider the evidence for global warming to be overwhelming. It is happening. Out of 100, two might have some doubts about how much it's happening and 1/100 will say it's not happening at all. Now I'm going to borrow an analogy from Don Shelby to explain what that means. Suppose you are getting on an airplane, perhaps to visit family for Thanksgiving, 97/100 mechanics say this plane will not make it to it's destination, 2/100 say it might make it and 1/100, who happens to also be an executive for the airline that will lose a lot of money if they have to rebook all of the passengers, says there's absolutely no problem, this plane will definitely make it!

Are you going to get on the plane?

4. Balance is bias [peer reviewed literature!]. Somewhere along the way people thought that in order to do good journalism you had to present both sides of the story. However, giving equal space to the 97/100 people who agree and the 1/100 people who disagree give a significant bias to the 1/100 who disagree. An unbiased approach would be to give space to each side in proportion to their numbers in the real world. So why is it that so many news pieces are so biased?

According to Don Shelby, the deregulation of news media led to consolidation of businesses and consolidation of viewpoints. In an unconsolidated market a fringe viewpoint has a very narrow audience and is less likely to be tolerated by a majority of subscribers. However, consolidated across the country, the audience for a fringe, non-reality based viewpoint is large enough to support a business, and you get Fox News. But even Fox News can be a bit of a mystery. Why do people like Glenn Beck put on such insane acts?

5. Follow the money. Clearly, a lot of people have an interest in the status quo. If you're making money now, and dealing with a major human interest problem is going to get in the way of your cash flow, you marginalize the problem. Apparently, it's cheaper to hire lawyers and pay scientists to lie than it is to change your business model or invest in a new model. This probably says something about the marginalization of science, but perhaps it relates to more deeply psychological issues. There is an inherent danger in the unknown. You would never eat a random mushroom you see growing in your lawn. Yet being able to adapt to new environments is perhaps the key trait that has allowed humans to dominate most of the earth. Maybe our brains are wired for experimentation and adaptation to new situations when the stakes are small. For most of human existence there has been very little personal wealth, and therefore relatively little to lose. But if you own mega-yachts, mansions around the world and a few politicians, you might feel like you have a lot more to lose. The more wealth you perceive yourself to have, the less adaptable you are to new environments.

For more coverage see Eye on Earth.

How much is salvation worth?

The Catholic church (and Apple apparently) has given their approval of the app Confession, on sale now in the iTunes App Store for $1.99. Confession will not absolve you of your sins, but will help prepare you for your meeting with an ordained priest, so that your absolution is that much more efficient. I suppose being organized in this life can only improve your experience in whatever afterlife you believe in.

My favorite thing about the app is the first improvement listed for the 1.0.1 update:
"-fixed prayers not displaying on iPad prayer tab"

If on the other hand you happen to be a violent criminal spending life in prison in Atlanta without the possibility of parole, you might want to look into getting on the waiting list for the meditation workshop.
Dr. Ron Cavanaugh, treatment director for the Alabama Department of Corrections, says many inmates put their defenses up, denying responsibility for their crimes and blaming others. But the meditation practice, he says, chips away at those defense mechanisms…
…Cavanaugh says inmates who go through the course have a 20 percent reduction in disciplinary action. But it hasn't been an easy sell in Alabama, a state known for harsh punishment policies like chain gangs and hitching posts.
No word on how much the course is costing Alabama, or whether or not it will be available to EVERY OTHER PERSON IN THE UNITED STATES WHO HAS AN URGENT NEED TO LOOK CLOSELY AT THEMSELVES.

Check out the documentary about the meditation workshop below.

Vatican City Gay Bars

Do you know this bling?

If you know the previous owner of this fine set you could turn the $500 reward into approximately 11 grams of real gold!

The Elements of Nazi Style

Trust me, you don't want to get these wrong.

Tuesday, February 08, 2011


What happens when you cut together all the little McBain sketches in the Simpson's?

Why aren't you demonstrating?

Photo: Joey Reid 2009

From Umair Haque,
For decades, the richest grew even richer, as national debt mounted, middle-class people tried to make ends meet, and upward mobility fell. Government failed to address these problems, and the governed felt increasingly disenfranchised — and partisan. Mass unemployment metastasized from a temporary illness to a chronic condition. One of its major cities decided to erect a permanent tent city, for a permanently excluded, marginalized underclass.

Egypt's Revolution: Coming to an Economy Near You

Hit the link for the reveal!

Penguin Classics ultra mega super 1.21 gigawatts box set

Penguin Classics ultra mega super 1.21 gigawatts box set: "

The Penguin Classics Complete Library is a massive box set consisting of nearly every Penguin Classics book ever published and is available on Amazon for only (only!) $13,413.30.

From Edwin A. Abbott to Emile Zola, the 1,082 titles in the Penguin Classics Complete Library total nearly half a million pages--laid end to end they would hit the 52-mile mark. Approximately 700 pounds in weight, the titles would tower 828 feet if you stacked them lengthwise atop each other--almost as tall as the Empire State Building. But don't worry, a nice set of bookshelves will hold them side-by-side just fine.

If you're on the fence about purchasing this item, here's a review from someone who did:

This is an orgy for a book-lover. I have had a wonderful time from the moment I placed the order. They arrived in 25 boxes shrink-wrapped on a wooden pallet, over 750 lbs. of books. It took about twelve hours to unpack them, check them off the packing list (one for each box), and then check them off the list we downloaded from They take up about 77 linear feet.

It would be fun to see HBO do something like this...a massive DVD or Blu-ray box set of all their hour-long dramas: The Sopranos, The Wire, Six Feet Under, Deadwood, Big Love, True Blood, Boardwalk Empire, Canivale, Rome, etc.

Tags: books Penguin Books"

How much is a planet worth?

How much is a planet worth?: "

Over at Boing Boing, Lee Billings has an interview with Greg Laughlin, an astrophysicist who recently came up with an equation for estimating the value of planets, a sort of Drake equation for cosmic economics.

This equation's initial purpose, he wrote, was to put meaningful prices on the terrestrial exoplanets that Kepler was bound to discover. But he soon found it could be used equally well to place any planet-even our own-in a context that was simultaneously cosmic and commercial. In essence, you feed Laughlin's equation some key parameters -- a planet's mass, its estimated temperature, and the age, type, and apparent brightness of its star -- and out pops a number that should, Laughlin says, equate to cold, hard cash.

At the time, the exoplanet Gliese 581 c was thought to be the most Earth-like world known beyond our solar system. The equation said it was worth a measly $160. Mars fared better, priced at $14,000. And Earth? Our planet's value emerged as nearly 5 quadrillion dollars. That's about 100 times Earth's yearly GDP, and perhaps, Laughlin thought, not a bad ballpark estimate for the total economic value of our world and the technological civilization it supports.

Tags: astronomy Greg Laughlin interviews Lee Billings mathematics physics science"

Monday, February 07, 2011

Carl Zeiss joins the Micro Four Thirds revolution

Always exciting when one of the best glass lens makers in the world get into some new shit. I'm still intrigued by the Micro Four Thirds format, and this helps tip the format into another plus column.

Carl Zeiss joins the Micro Four Thirds revolution: "

Another big name is jumping headfirst into the increasingly popular Micro Four Thirds waters with the announcement from Olympus today that Carl Zeiss has signed up as a member of the MFT System Standard Group. What that basically entails is that the folks responsible for some of the finest optics in the world will start making lenses directly compatible with Olympus and Panasonic's camera standard. You could, of course, have tracked down adapters to get Distagon glass working with your GF2 before, but it sure is nice to see the big boys producing hardware designed specifically for this relatively new category of camera. Full press release after the break.

[Thanks, Ken]

Continue reading Carl Zeiss joins the Micro Four Thirds revolution

Carl Zeiss joins the Micro Four Thirds revolution originally appeared on Engadget on Mon, 07 Feb 2011 05:21:00 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Freaky Fauna

Freaky Fauna: "

Book covers from the collection of Bouwe van der Molen aka Freaky Fauna

book cover from the collection of freaky fauna
'I found this book cover in the trash.'
(Benefits of living in Amsterdam.)

book cover, Introducing Monkeys by V.J. Stanek
book cover, Introducing Monkeys by V.J. Stanek

book cover, Geologie für Jederman by Prof. Dr. Kurd v. Bülow (1974)
book cover, Geologie für Jederman by Prof. Dr. Kurd v. Bülow (1974)

Cover by Nicolaas Wijnberg, De Nagel Achter het Behang by A. Koolhaas (1971)
Cover by Nicolaas Wijnberg, De Nagel Achter het Behang by A. Koolhaas (1971)

Read FF's post on Wijnberg

Cover by Nicolaas Wijnberg for book by Karel Van Het Reve
Cover by Nicolaas Wijnberg for book by Karel Van Het Reve
(Brother of Gerhard Reve, author of one of my favorite books, Werther Nieland)

Stacks of Books Crushing Me one & two


Friday, February 04, 2011

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Tina Turner - Simply The Best

Obviously Tina Turner is SIMPLY THE BEST.

Best card trick in the world

Let's get this blog rollin'! I'm going to start posting strictly the BEST of the BEST of the REST. Everything on here is GUARANTEED to be THE BEST. Count on it!

Best of FAILS 2010 Compilation

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Mr Picasso Head

It's good. Click the link.