31 December 2010

I Fart In Your General Direction | 100 Greatest Movie Insults Of All Time


YouTube

WARNING - NSFW - Contains wildly inappropriate language.

From Pajiba, a list of all the movies referenced in the video:
0’00 - Roxanne, Adventures of Priscilla Queen of the Desert, Gleaming the Cube, The Princess Bride, A Fish Called Wanda, Star Wars, The Wizard of Oz, Casino, Three Amigos, A Clockwork Orange

1’05 - Dolemite, Glengarry Glen Ross, Bad Santa, The Witches of Eastwick, The Big Lebowski, In Bruges, Full Metal Jacket, There Will Be Blood

2’05 - Toy Story, Casablanca, Encino Man, The Women, Predator, Army of Darkness, They Live, Uncle Buck, Big Trouble in Little China, New Jack City, Billy Madison

3’00 - Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, The Departed, Carlito’s Way, In the Loop, Glengarry Glen Ross, Stand By Me, Grosse Pointe Blank, Duck Soup, Caddyshack, Planes Trains & Automobiles

4’00 - South Park, Napoleon Dynamite, Mean Girls, The Breakfast Club, As Good as It Gets, The 6th Day, Step Brothers, O Brother Where Art Thou?, Full Metal Jacket, City Slickers, Road House, True Grit, Shot Circuit

5’00 - Raging Bull, The Usual Suspects, Snatch, Caddyshack, The Last Boy Scout, Ghostbusters, The Sandlot, As Good as It Gets

6’00 - 48 Hrs, In Bruges, Silver Streak, Glengarry Glen Ross, A Fish Called Wanda, Goodfellas, National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, The Mist, Trading Places

7’00 - The Warriors, Point Break, Gangs of New York, Reservoir Dogs, The Breakfast Club, The Cowboys, Full Metal Jacket, Dodgeball, Donnie Darko, Scarface, The Good the Bad and the Ugly

8’00 - Anchorman, Tropic Thunder, Sexy Beast, In the Loop, Get Shorty, Blazing Saddles, The Way of the Gun, Blade: Trinity, Clerks, The Boondock Saints, The Exorcist, What About Bob?, Weird Science

9’00 - Con Air, True Romance, In the Loop, Monty Python and the Holy Grail, Lake Placid, The Front, Gone with the Wind
Kottke

Timescapes | Southwest Light

Timescapes

Thanks, Rick

30 December 2010

27 December 2010

RSA | The Secret Powers Of Time


RSA | Fora.TV | Gawker.TV

Philip Zimbardo has taught at Stanford University since 1968. He is noted for his research, for many publications and books, and for "giving psychology away" to the public through his popular PBS-TV series, "Discovering Psychology." His most notable study was the 1971 Stanford Prison Experiment, which was a classic demonstration of the power of social situations to distort personal identities and long cherished values and morality as students internalized situated identities in their roles as prisoners and guards.

Monkey Monday | International Primate Protection League

Whoop Whoop is a gibbon who was incarcerated at a laboratory in
Louisiana that performed experiments on these endangered apes.
[The I.P.P.L. is] a grassroots nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting the world's remaining primates, great and small. [They] concentrate on:
  • offering advisory and financial support for activities that help monkeys and apes, both in the U.S. and overseas;
  • granting financial assistance for programs that protect primates and their habitat within their native countries;
  • publicizing the plight of primates in trouble and organizing international protest campaigns;
  • conducting investigations of illegal international primate trafficking; and
  • operating a sanctuary for rescued gibbon apes in South Carolina.

26 December 2010

Gallup Poll | Belief In The Evolutionary Origins Of Humans Slowly Increasing

Four in 10 Americans, slightly fewer today than in years past, believe God created humans in their present form about 10,000 years ago. Thirty-eight percent believe God guided a process by which humans developed over millions of years from less advanced life forms, while 16%, up slightly from years past, believe humans developed over millions of years, without God's involvement.

... A small minority of Americans hold the "secular evolution" view that humans evolved with no influence from God -- but the number has risen from 9% in 1982 to 16% today. At the same time, the 40% of Americans who hold the "creationist" view that God created humans as is 10,000 years ago is the lowest in Gallup's history of asking this question, and down from a high point of 47% in 1993 and 1999. There has been little change over the years in the percentage holding the "theistic evolution" view that humans evolved under God's guidance.

Americans' views on human origins vary significantly by level of education and religiosity. Those who are less educated are more likely to hold a creationist view. Those with college degrees and postgraduate education are more likely to hold one of the two viewpoints involving evolution.
More information, graphic representations, survey methods and implications here.

Gawker

Loops Of Zen

Restore harmony by clicking the tiles until no open end remains. Program and design by Arend Hintze.
Via Neatorama

Holiday Misgivings | How We Value The Gifts We Receive

Collect money online, girl scouts, boy scouts, fraternity dues
The folks here at We Pay sifted through a big pile of gift-giving research to find some surprising insights: What value do you think a recipient will place on the item you just bought and wrapped? What’s the value (and the fate) of the gift cards you’re sending to your siblings? Which do you value more: a gift from your parents or a gift from your significant other?

We dug through research from a variety of highly reputable sources – from chin-scratching academic papers out of Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management to the latest surveys from Consumer Reports, retail trade groups, and even the good people behind National Regifting Day. The data is pretty compelling – and if you’re like me and haven’t even started your shopping – you may want to take a look at the graphic below before you head to the mall.
Lifehacker

25 December 2010

An Engineer's Guide To Holiday Cat Accessories


YouTube | Neatorama

Professional engineers Paul and T.J., the fellows who brought us "An Engineeer's Guide to Cats", return to torment the kitties.

Who Was The Real Santa Claus?


[First posted on 25 December 2009]
Is this the real Santa Claus? By tradition, no one is supposed to see the actual Saint Nick ... Until, that is, the invention of powerful computers and some fancy new software that uses "virtual clay." The technology makes possible the reconstruction of a face from a skull, even one as old as that of Nicholas of Myra -- also known as Saint Nicholas, also known as Santa Claus -- who lived and died in the fourth century in what is now Turkey.

So holy was Nicholas that after his death his relics were carefully preserved, and through the vagaries of history -- basically a Muslim-Christian war a thousand years ago -- the saint's skull and other bones were relocated (stolen or rescued, depending on your point of view) to Bari, a city on what would be the Achilles' tendon of the Italian boot.

In the 1950s, the bones were removed while the crypt was spruced up. While they were out, the Vatican asked an anatomy professor at the University of Bari to take thousands of minutely detailed measurements and x-rays of the relics. Flash forward to the present day, and another University of Bari expert, forensic pathologist Francesco Introna, decided to commission an expert facial anthropologist, Caroline Wilkinson of the University of Manchester in England, to reconstruct the saint's face and head using the new technology and the earlier measurements. The wizards at Image Foundry in England then took the data, and presto!
Read the entire article at Politics Daily

Image Foundry

23 December 2010

How Reindeer Really Learned How To Fly

... There is evidence from around the world of animals deliberately consuming [hallucinogenic] plants, and legends about plants used in sacred rituals often include references to animals introducing them to mankind.

One such species, appropriately for a Christmassy article, is the reindeer, which goes to great lengths to search out the hallucinogenic fly agaric mushroom (Amanita muscaria) — the one with the white-spotted red cap that garden gnomes like to sit on. Eating the toadstool makes reindeer behave in a drunken fashion, running about aimlessly and making strange noises. Head-twitching is also common.

Fly agaric is found across the northern hemisphere and has long been used by mankind for its psychotropic properties. But its use can be dangerous because it also contains toxic substances. Reindeer seem to metabolise these toxic elements without harm, while the main psychoactive constituents remain unmetabolised and are excreted in the urine. Reindeer herders in Europe and Asia long ago learnt to collect the reindeer urine for use as a comparatively safe source of the hallucinogen.
More at The Pharmaceutical Journal and The Magpie's Hoard.

Via Gawker

Power Strip With Rotating Sockets




Designers: Cheng-Hsiu Du & Chyun-Chau Lin

Yanko Design

20 December 2010

Monkey Monday Bonus | The Monkeys' Christmas


YouTube

Who knew that Santa was such a philosopher.

Monkey Monday | ChimpanZoo

Jiji
Founded in 1984, ChimpanZoo is an international research program dedicated to the study of chimpanzees in zoos and other captive settings. Approximately 200 chimpanzees are involved in ChimpanZoo, making it the largest ape research program ever undertaken. Trained by participating zoos and the Jane Goodall Institute, students, caretakers and volunteers record behavioral observations and work with zoo keepers to improve the lives of captive chimpanzees and compare their behavior to that of chimps in the wild.
Link

19 December 2010

Sketchy Santas 2010







Link

Yellow Cards

CYCLIST

AUTO DRIVER

PEDESTRIAN

TDW

18 December 2010

Physics World | How To Walk Through Walls

Imagine being able to walk through a solid wall. That sort of trick might sound far-fetched, but it’s a little closer to reality now that researchers in China have created what they call an “invisible gateway”.

Huanyang Chen at Soochow University, Jiangsu, says that the effect is a bit like “platform nine and three-quarters” – that is, the fictional area of King’s Cross railway station in the Harry Potter books that is only accessible through a secret, illusionary wall. Although the researchers’ current demonstration is based on an electrical circuit for radio waves, Chen claims that it could also work for visible light.

The idea for the invisible gateway stems from so-called transformation optics, which gave us the first invisibility cloak back in 2006. Yet the invisible gateway is almost the opposite of a cloak: rather than bend light round an object to make the object invisible, the device makes an object – a wall – appear that isn’t really there. It is, according to Chen’s group, the first demonstration of illusion optics.
More at Physics World

Via io9

Rated "F" For Fabulous | The 12 Gays Of Christmas


YouTube

Back from last year because I love it. This is an "in-house" diversion created by the Mockettes -- male dancers who appear in the Christmas Spectacular at Radio City Music Hall -- for the entertainment of their fellow performers during down-time on a 4-show day.

Showtime Shorts | Walks Of Life


YouTube | TDW

You'll never look at your fingers the same way again.

17 December 2010

T.G.I.F. | The Isle Of Tune Music Sequencer


On the Isle of Tune, roadside elements are your instruments and cars are the players. Lay down some road, add some houses, trees, and lightposts, drop in a car and you're in business.

Play some of the top 50 islands to see just how creative you can be.

happylander via The Presurfer

16 December 2010

Make-A-Flake


Use the interactive scissors to make your own snowflakes.

Link

14 December 2010

It's Monkey Day | 14 December 2010

Yes, it is that time of year again, December 14th, Monkey Day ! So, to help you celebrate your Monkey Day in style, we decided to gather up the very best news stories of the past year. Without further ado, I bring you (our favorite) top 10 Monkey and Primate News stories of 2010. More at Monkeys in the News.

Fried Gnocchi


YouTube | everlasting blort

For Rick -- Happy Birthday

13 December 2010

Celebrating Animal Rescue And Adoption


YouTube | TDW

Best Friends Animal Society | ASPCA | Small Paws

Snake Robots


YouTube | Snake Robots [Gavin Miller]


YouTube | Carnegie Mellon University | io9

More Boo


YouTube | Gawker TV

Boo's Facebook page and previously on lanny-yap

Monkey Monday | Pluripotent Stem Cells Spur Recovery From Spinal Injury

Pygmy Marmoset [but not THE pygmy marmoset]
Japanese researchers said Wednesday they had used stem cells to restore partial mobility in a small monkey that had been paralysed from the neck down by a spinal injury. "It is the world's first case in which a small-size primate recovered from a spinal injury using stem cells," professor Hideyuki Okano of Tokyo's Keio University told AFP.

Okano's research team, which earlier helped a mouse recover its mobility in a similar treatment, injected so-called induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells into a paralysed marmoset, he said. The team planted four types of genes into human skin cells to create the iPS cells, according to Kyodo News. The injection was given on the ninth day after the injury, considered the most effective timing, and the monkey started to move its limbs again within two to three weeks, Okano said.

"After six weeks, the animal had recovered to the level where it was jumping around," he told AFP. "It was very close to the normal level."

"Its gripping strength on the forefeet also recovered to up to 80 percent."

Okano called the research project a major stride to pave the way for a similar medical technique to be used on humans.

Scientists say the use of human embryonic stem cells as a treatment for cancer and other diseases holds great promise, but the process has drawn fire from religious conservatives and others who oppose it. Embryonic stem cell research is controversial because human embryos are destroyed in order to obtain the cells capable of developing into almost every tissue of the body.
AFP via io9

11 December 2010

Keeping Portland Weird


YouTube | TDW

Simon's Cat | Santa Claws


YouTube

Simon's Cat

Human Trafficking, Sex Slavery, And The Superbowl


From an article by Michelle Goldberg in The Daily Beast:
In September, when Craigslist dropped its “erotic services” section, Backpage.com, the classified advertising network owned by Village Voice Media, became the nation’s premier online sexual marketplace—and the most mainstream venue for the buying and selling of underage girls. Now The Rebecca Project for Human Rights, the group that got Craigslist to drop its sex ads, is trying to convince Backpage to do the same, and to do it before February, when activists expect a spike in sex trafficking around the Super Bowl.


YouTube

From the Polaris Project's Web site:
Human trafficking is the second largest and fastest growing criminal industry in the world. Victims experience a loss of freedom and exploitation at the hands of their traffickers who buy and sell them in pursuit of profit. As a result, human trafficking is commonly known as modern-day slavery. In human trafficking situations, traffickers gain complete control over victims and force them into the labor, services, or commercial sex industry in order to generate profit from their labor and commercial sex acts. Some of the forms of violence traffickers use to control their victims include brutal beatings, rape, lies and deception, threats of serious harm or familial harm, and psychological abuse.

... Anyone can be a victim of human trafficking ... The U.S. State Department estimates that 14,500 to 17,500 foreign nationals are trafficked into the U.S. annually. The National Runaway Switchboard estimates that every year thousands of American children are lured into the trafficking industry. Both foreign national and U.S. citizen victims have been identified in cities, suburbs, and rural areas in all 50 states and in Washington, DC. They are forced to work or provide commercial sex against their will in legal and legitimate business settings as well as underground markets. Some victims are hidden behind locked doors in brothels and factories. In other cases, victims are in plain view, but the widespread lack of awareness of trafficking leads to low levels of victim identification by the people who come into contact with them ...
It never occured to me that major sporting events [Superbowl, World Cup, Olympics, etc.] are seen by traffickers as lucrative business opportunities.

Much more information is available at the Polaris Project and the Rebecca Project for Human Rights.

10 December 2010

Alien Contact | Humankind's Oldest Story

Woodcut (1566) by Hans Glaser of an event over Nuremberg, Germany on 14 April 1561.
Often described as an UFO sighting, scientists explain it as a representation of the Aurora borealis or "sun dogs."
UFO skeptics take note: Strange flying objects have been haunting our planet for much longer than many people think. Over 3,000 years ago, in the Egyptian Nile Valley, a man reported looking into the sky to see a "shining disk" descend and tell him to build a new city. On Sept. 11, 1787, in Edinburgh, Scotland, a group of people reported, "a fiery globe larger than the sun" moving eastward in a horizontal direction and dipping below the horizon before exploding behind a cloud. Eight years later, in the Quangxi province of China, a "large star" rose and fell three times, followed by another star that "crashed in a village."

According to Jacques Vallee, the French-born astronomer and co-author (with Chris Aubeck) of the hypnotic new book "Wonders in the Sky: Unexplained Aerial Objects from Antiquity to Modern Times," these stories are important not only because they show that flying things have been capturing our imagination for centuries, but because of what they say about our most cherished beliefs and deepest fears. In the book, Vallee and Aubeck list 500 claims of sightings, in chronological order, between the years 1460 BC and 1879, and argue that the commonalities -- references to light, round shapes, erratic flight and terror in the observer -- offer us real insight into human behavior and our need to find explanation for things we cannot explain.

Salon spoke with Vallee from his home in San Francisco about our religious connection to UFOs, the controversy surrounding his own work -- and our endless cultural obsession with flying objects.

Your book calls "alien contact" humankind's oldest story. How so?
I'm not the only one saying that. If you look at the body of scholarship in anthropology and the history of religions, they talk about the idea that the soul is a human space capsule. Certainly the "Book of the Dead" in Egypt, the Bible, the writing of the mystics, in poems of ancient China, and the "Vedas" in India, the contact between man and creatures, entities, divinities, who travel from space is the main story. This includes humans traveling with them and humans being "abducted," to use a modern term. There is a very rich literature exactly about that; it's the oldest story.
More at Salon

Via Boing Boing

T.G.I.F. | Double Dream Hands


YouTube | Buzzfeed

John Jacobson teaches his original choreography for the song Planet Rock.

07 December 2010

Baby Parrots In Bowls


YouTube | Gawker TV

Easier to understand the dinosaur/bird connection now.

Mr. Winkle


Happy Birthday, tomB

06 December 2010

White Rabbit


TDW

Monkey Monday | Chimps Hunt Colubus Monkeys


BBC Worldwide | You Tube | GawkerTV
Watch the planning and specific positions involved in a detailed chimpanzee attack on a colabus monkey deep in the forest.

05 December 2010

2010 Likely To Be Warmest Year Ever Recorded

Click image to enlarge
More fuel was added to the climate-change talks in CancĂșn this week with the announcement that 2010 is very likely to be the warmest year yet. On December 2nd Britain's Met Office reported that from January to October the world was 0.55°C warmer than the average between 1961 and 1990, the benchmark. At that rate, it forecasts that 2010 will probably end up being the hottest year since records began in 1850, surpassing the previous high recorded in 1998. Data gathered by the two other main research institutes that monitor global temperatures indicate a similar outcome. A ranking of the hottest years shows minor variation in the data gathered by each institute (the other two reckon 2005 was hotter than 1998, for instance). Each of the last ten years features in the top 11 warmest years recorded in all datasets.
The Economist

Seasonal Biology | Birth Month Can Affect Biological Clocks, Personality

The season in which babies are born can have a dramatic and persistent effect on how their biological clocks function. That is the conclusion of a new study published online on Dec. 5 by the journal Nature Neuroscience. The experiment provides the first evidence for seasonal imprinting of biological clocks in mammals and was conducted by Professor of Biological Sciences Douglas McMahon, graduate student Chris Ciarleglio, post-doctoral fellow Karen Gamble and two undergraduate students at Vanderbilt University.

The imprinting effect, which was found in baby mice, may help explain the fact that people born in winter months have a higher risk of a number of neurological disorders including seasonal affective disorder (winter depression), bipolar depression and schizophrenia.

... The new study raises an intriguing but highly speculative possibility: seasonal variations in the day/night cycle that individuals experience as their brains are developing may affect their personality. "We know that the biological clock regulates mood in humans. If an imprinting mechanism similar to the one that we found in mice operates in humans, then it could not only have an effect on a number of behavioral disorders but also have a more general effect on personality," said McMahon.

"It's important to emphasize that, even though this sounds a bit like astrology, it is not: it's seasonal biology!" McMahon added.
Press Release | Full Text

30 November 2010

World AIDS Day | 1 December 2010

Started on 1st December 1988, World AIDS Day is about raising money, increasing awareness, fighting prejudice and improving education. The World AIDS Day theme for 2010 is 'Universal Access and Human Rights'.

... According to UNAIDS estimates, there are now 33.3 million people living with HIV, including 2.5 million children. During 2009 some 2.6 million people became newly infected with the virus and an estimated 1.8 million people died from AIDS.

... Global leaders have pledged to work towards universal access to HIV and AIDS treatment, prevention and care, recognising these as fundamental human rights. Valuable progress has been made in increasing access to HIV and AIDS services, yet greater commitment is needed around the world if the goal of universal access is to be achieved. Millions of people continue to be infected with HIV every year. In low- and middle-income countries, less than half of those in need of antiretroviral therapy are receiving it, and too many do not have access to adequate care services.

The protection of human rights is fundamental to combating the global HIV and AIDS epidemic. Violations against human rights fuel the spread of HIV, putting marginalised groups, such as injecting drug users and sex workers, at a higher risk of HIV infection. By promoting individual human rights, new infections can be prevented and people who have HIV can live free from discrimination.

World AIDS Day provides an opportunity for all of us - individuals, communities and political leaders - to take action and ensure that human rights are protected and global targets for HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment and care are met.
Avert | World AIDS Campaign

Paws For Purple Hearts

Golden Gabe | Paws for Purple Hearts via Land of Pure Gold
Rick Yount and his golden retriever puppy, Gabe, had separation issues every morning. "The dog kept looking at me at the door with those sad eyes, and finally it was just impossible to resist," Yount recalled. So one morning, "I decided to take him with me." Yount was then working as a social worker, and on that particular morning he had to take a young boy from his mother's house and drive him to new foster parents. The boy cried and cried. But halfway through the trip, the car suddenly grew quiet. "I looked in the back seat," said Yount, "and the puppy's head was lying on the boy's lap."

That demonstration of canine comforting in 1995 sparked the idea for a program that is getting underway at a Veterans Affairs hospital in California and at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. It's called Paws for Purple Hearts, and it is helping injured veterans and active-duty troops in two very different ways.

The program trains Labradors and golden retrievers - including many offspring of Yount's dog Gabe - as lifelong service dogs and companions for veterans who use wheelchairs. But for their first two years of life, these dogs spread their love around in another way. They are trained by veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. For many of these psychologically damaged warriors, this human-canine connection provides them with emotional sustenance, a mission and important lessons in patience that help them get on with their lives.
Read more of this article by Arthur Allen in The Washington Post.

Thanks, Soll

Retro Holiday Ads From Schweppes


YouTube | TV Squad

More here.

29 November 2010

Eschatological Taxonomy

Poster by Jamais Cascio is available at Cafe Press

Detail
... Being a scale for comparing, contrasting, and understanding the sundry manners in which the Apocalypse may arise, as structured by Jamais Cascio
Via io9

Best Of Criggo







Criggo

Monkey Monday | Baby Gorilla's First Steps


YouTube

27 November 2010

UGO | 100 Greatest Movie Spaceships

Serenity | Firefly and Serenity

Discovery One | 2001: A Space Odyssey

Alien Ship | Close Encounters of the Third Kind

Jordan Hoffman at UGO has put together a list of what he considers to be the best 100 movie spaceships. Lots of room for disagreement and discussion. Above are a few of my favorites.

Via io9

"Gimme Cake" | R.I.F.T.


Use the arrow keys to maneuver a diligent little robot through increasingly difficult challenges as he tries to keep his demanding master supplied with cake.

R.I.F.T. | Switched

26 November 2010

Big Think | Oliver Sacks Discusses The Human Propensity For Myth-making


Oliver Sacks is a professor of Neurology and Psychiatry at Columbia University. The following interview was recorded on September 4, 2008. Watch the video of the interview at Big Think.

Question: Is the human brain predisposed to create myths?

Oliver Sacks: Yeah. First I would say that the human brain or the human mind is disposed to create stories or narratives. Children love stories, make up stories.

Jerome Bruner, a great psychologist, has spoken of two modes of thinking. One is to create narratives, one is to create paradigms or explanations or models. And of course some of these will come together because then you want to have a story which explains.

We all come into the world and human beings are evolved into a mysterious world and had to wonder where they came from, how the world came from, what are the stars doing. And in the absence of better explanations, I think, supernatural explanations sort of come to mind. There must have been some great figure who created the universe and who perhaps is keeping an eye on us now.

And say before 1859 and before [Charles] Darwin, before The Origin of Species was published, there was no natural explanation of how different animals and plants had come into being, let alone human beings.

I think Freeman Dyson, a great physicist who once wrote, “I am a practicing Christian but not a believing one.”

So I think my parents were practicing Jews, but not believing ones. I don’t think that belief is a particularly strong thing in Judaism. But my mother was also botanically inclined. I grew up in a Darwinian world, and I was very startled when I came to the [United] States and found that millions, millions and millions of people didn’t believe in evolution. I still am profoundly perplexed.

To proclaim that one doesn’t believe in the evolution, I think, what would label one as an idiot in most of the civilized world; certainly, in Europe.

And again, growing up in Europe, it was our feeling the world would become more and more secular. And now, of course, as the world stands by mad, dangerous fundamentalism on all sides; who would have thought that the 21st Century would dissolve into religious conflict?

I’m a sort of quiet, old, Jewish atheist. I’m not a militant atheist. I don’t sort of argue about things like [Richard] Dawkins and [Daniel] Dennett and Sam Harris. I quite like their books, but I’m not militant by nature, and I’m not very argumentative by nature. And if people want to believe, well, then that’s their business.

What concerns me is when belief is used to influence and corrupt educational politics. And that seems to me monstrous that creationism, or so-called intelligent design, is thought next to evolution or instead of it. And I do think it is almost is a form of madness.

Question: Is all religion madness?
Oliver Sacks: I think I need to say that there are specifically some conditions of the brain which predispose to mystical or religious thinking. In particular, when people have so-called temporal lobe epilepsy or temporal lobe seizures, they may have religious or mystical visions. Or even between seizures, they may have a gradual personality change which disposes them to mystical and religious thinking.

I think that thinking of this sort is, if you want, built into the nervous system. Although it doesn’t have to take an explicitly theistic notion.

[Albert] Einstein always used to say that the most beautiful thing in the world is the mysterious. And I think that the fundamental sets of mystery and awe and of the sublime is behind all science and art. Basically, I think, science springs from a sense of nature’s mysteriousness and the wonder of nature. And there is no need to invoke anything supernatural. Indeed, I think too much involvement in the supernatural may blind one to the wonder of nature. And I’m slightly terrified by certain fundamentalist who say, let the planet go to hell, the Final Coming is going to be soon. God will take care of it all.

I live, for myself, happily and completely within nature. I love it. I have a sense of being at home. I don’t pine for anything else. And so, I think, those parts of my temporal lobes are devoted to, as it were, to an almost religious feeling for nature.

Loch Ness Monster Sighting

© Richard Preston
Richard Preston, a landscape designer, has been the latest person to spot a mysterious shape that might be the Loch Ness monster and capture a series of images on camera.

While working on Aldourie Castle gardens on the banks of the Loch Ness, 27-year-old Mr Preston spotted a shape on the loch's surface out of the corner of his eye. He told STV News: “I was just walking through the castle gardens and I spotted something in the distance. When I looked closer I could clearly see the four hump-like features. I thought I’d take a picture of it, to see if there was anything in it, to see what others thought. “I was surprised that it stayed there as long as it did. I took various shots of it before it suddenly disappeared. I literally just turned my back and it was gone.” He showed one of his friends who was also convinced there was certainly some mystery in the pictures.

When asked whether or not he believed in the monster, Mr Preston said: “Well there’s definitely something in the myth.There were no ripples in the water, no boats, nothing around. I have no idea what it was, but it undoubtedly looks like Nessie.”

The latest sighting has brought hope to monster enthusiasts, as it had been a relatively quiet spell for spotting any activity in the Loch. Fears had been mounting that Nessie might be dead since reports of any sightings had been diminishing.

In July 1930, three people in a boat at the north end of the loch saw a 6m long hump-like shape travelling fast through the water. In April 1933, Aldie Mackay saw a violent disturbance in the water and a hump “like that of a whale” while driving along the north side of the loch.
stv | Cryptomundo

The Ministry Of Stories | Hoxton Street Monster Supplies



So, we’ve been kinda quiet here of late on the We Made This blog (for which you have our deepest apologies) but we can now reveal why – we’ve been entirely occupied with setting up a fantastic new project ...

Way back in April 2008 we posted on our old blog about Dave Eggers’ inspiring TED talk about his brilliant 826 literacy project, and asked if anyone was going to be setting up something similar in London. On the back of that post, thanks to Andrew Hinton, we met up with the wonderful Lucy Macnab and Ben Payne, and chatted loosely about how a London version of 826 might work. Things pootled along gently for a while, until Lucy and Ben secured support for the project from the Arts Council, as well as seed-funding from the JJ Charitable Trust, and things suddenly stepped up a gear, particularly when author Nick Hornby, who had been thinking about setting up something similar himself, joined the gang.

Cut to November 2010, after many, many, many meetings, and gargantuan efforts from Nick, Lucy and Ben (and a veritable host of others), and this morning saw the launch of the Ministry of Stories on Hoxton Street in east London.

The Ministry follows the model of the 826 centres: a writing centre where kids aged 8-18 can get one-to-one tuition with professional writers and other volunteers; with the centres being housed behind fantastical shop fronts designed to fire the kids’ imaginations (and generate income for the writing centres). In our case, the shop is Hoxton Street Monster Supplies – Purveyor of Quality Goods for Monsters of Every Kind.
More at We Made This

Neatorama