30 June 2010

"It Was A Dark And Stormy Night" | 28th Edward Bulwer-Lytton Prize

Congratulations to Molly Ringle of Seattle, winner of the 2010 Edward Bulwer-Lytton prize for bad writing. Her winning prose:
For the first month of Ricardo and Felicity's affair, they greeted one another at every stolen rendezvous with a kiss—a lengthy, ravenous kiss, Ricardo lapping and sucking at Felicity's mouth as if she were a giant cage-mounted water bottle and he were the world's thirstiest gerbil.
From runner-up Tom Wallace:
Through the verdant plains of North Umbria walked Waylon Ogglethorpe and, as he walked, the clouds whispered his name, the birds of the air sang his praises, and the beasts of the fields from smallest to greatest said, "There goes the most noble among men" -- in other words, a typical stroll for a schizophrenic ventriloquist with delusions of grandeur.
Click here to read more winning entries.

Via Gawker

29 June 2010

Bakemono Zukushi Monster Scroll

Rokurokubi, a long-necked woman, is pictured next to an Inugami dog spirit.

Kami-kiri ("hair-cutter") are known for sneaking up on people and cutting off their hair.

The Bakemono Zukushi handscroll, painted in the Edo period (18th-19th century) by an unknown artist, depicts 24 traditional monsters that once used to spook the people of Japan.
Pink Tentacle

View the entire scroll at International Research Center for Japanese Studies - Yokai Database


reddit via The Daily What

28 June 2010

Moral Action May Increase Endurance

New research from Harvard University suggests that moral actions may increase people’s capacity for willpower and physical endurance. Study participants who did good deeds — or even just imagined themselves helping others — were better able to perform a subsequent task of physical endurance. The research, published in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science, shows a similar or even greater boost in physical strength following mean-spirited deeds.

Researcher Kurt Gray, a doctoral student in psychology at Harvard, explains these effects as a self-fulfilling prophecy in morality. “People perceive those who do good and evil to have more efficacy, more willpower, and less sensitivity to discomfort,” Gray said. “By perceiving themselves as good or evil, people embody these perceptions, actually becoming more capable of physical endurance.”

Gray’s findings run counter to the notion that only those blessed with heightened willpower or self-control are capable of heroism, suggesting instead that simply attempting heroic deeds can confer personal power. “Gandhi or Mother Teresa may not have been born with extraordinary self-control, but perhaps came to possess it through trying to help others,” said Gray, who calls this effect “moral transformation” because it suggests that such deeds have the power to transform people from average to exceptional.

Moral transformation has many implications, he said. For example, it suggests a new technique for enhancing self-control when dieting: Help others before being faced with temptation. “Perhaps the best way to resist the donuts at work is to donate your change in the morning to a worthy cause,” Gray said.

The study also may suggest new treatments for anxiety or depression, he said, since helping others may be a useful way of regaining control of your own life.
Via Neatorama

Thai Insurance Commercial | Fat Cat


Via Presurfer

Monkey Monday | Bugsy And Malone


27 June 2010

Disposable Single-Serving Wine Glasses

Photo: Wine Innovations

Wine is still cheaper by the bottle, but these convenient, portable and disposable single-serving glasses are a great innovation.
... the inventor, James Nash, took his invention to a show on BBC called the Dragon’s Den. The show listens to pitches for new inventions and awards funding to inventors it feels show promise. Nash, they felt, had a silly idea and was dismissed. But now his product is selling strongly in the U.K. ...
You might also like One Glass Of Red Wine A Day

Crave via Neatorama

Thanks, Rick

How Pleasure Works

Yale University psychologist Paul Bloom is fascinated by how human beings make sense of the world around them—physical and social environs alike. Working with kids, he has explored seemingly simple questions like, What makes a dog a dog? What makes a fork a fork? Over and over, he says, their answers suggest that even for very young children, what something is cannot easily be reduced to how it looks. A child can understand, for instance, that something might look like a tiger but actually be a lion. Something might look like a picture of one person, but actually be another. Children, says Bloom, give us a clear glimpse into “essentialism”—a belief that there’s a deeper nature to things that makes them what they are.

Intrigued by the notion that essentialism might affect more than the cold-blooded activities of naming and categorization, Bloom set out to determine if it might apply more generally to how we respond to things, to what moves us—in other words, to pleasure. In his newly published book, How Pleasure Works: The New Science of Why We Like What We Like, Bloom delves into pleasures both sophisticated and gauche, universal and unique, real and imaginary. Drawing on his own research as well as studies in neuroscience, behavioral economics, and philosophy, he makes a powerful argument for essentialism at the crux of human pleasure… And why understanding pleasurable activities, from art to science to religion, is so critical to comprehending the human mind. Recently, Seed caught up with Bloom to learn more.
Yay for gauche pleasure!

Read more at Seed

25 June 2010

"The Writer Who Couldn't Read" | Howard Engel

NPR Radio Pictures
Imagine you wake up one morning and can't read. Your eyes work, but the letters on the page have turned into squiggles. They make no sense. Now meet Howard Engel, a writer of detective stories, who has this condition, but amazingly, has found a way to trick his brain to almost read again.
Via Neatorama

22 June 2010

12-Foot Spider Crab Moults

Enoshima Aquarium (Fujisawa, Japan) has released some time-lapse footage of a molting Japanese spider crab (Macrocheira kaempferi), whose 3.8 meter (12 ft 6 in) leg span makes it the world’s largest arthropod species. The video was shot over a 6-hour period.
If spiders or spidery-shaped things give you the creeps, don't watch. It's mostly ok until you realize this thing could easily straddle a Hummer.

Via Pink Tentacle

21 June 2010

Tiny Kitten Wearing Tiny Hat Eats Tiny Ice Cream Cone


Via Buzzfeed

Delicious Hamburger Bed

Needs a couple of bacon throw pillows.

Thanks, Rick

First Day Of Summer

Don't forget the sunscreen.

Monkey Monday | Male Macaques Will Pay To See Female Monkey Butts

Image: Science Daily | Van Den Dikkenberg
A ... study found that male monkeys will give up their juice rewards in order to ogle pictures of female monkey's bottoms. The way the experiment was set up, the act is akin to paying for the images, the researchers say. The rhesus macaque monkeys also splurged on photos of top-dog counterparts, the high-ranking primates.

The scientists actually had to pay [the monkeys], in the form of extra juice, to get them to look at images of lower-ranking monkeys. Curiously, the monkeys in the test hadn't had any direct physical contact with the monkeys in the photos, so they didn't have personal experience with who was hot and who was not.
More at Live Science

19 June 2010

But Size Doesn't Matter


"When LaLa Hits The Road ..." | Penguin Wears Penguin Backpack To Shop For Fish


Via Buzzfeed

Awkward Family Pet Photos

Awkward Family Photos has expanded its site with a special section devoted to pets and the folks who love them enough to treat them like part of the family.

18 June 2010

Where Americans Are Moving | Baltimore

Click image to enlarge

More than 10 million Americans moved from one county to another during 2008. Using data from the IRS, Jon Bruner created an interactive map showing the net population migration for every county in the United States. Black lines indicate net inward movement and red lines indicate net outward movement. Inter-county moves of fewer than 10 people are not shown.

Forbes via The Presurfer

Happy Friday | Piglet

17 June 2010

Better Than Human | Singularity University

Singularity University (SU) is an interdisciplinary university whose mission is to assemble, educate and inspire a cadre of leaders who strive to understand and facilitate the development of exponentially advancing technologies in order to address humanity’s grand challenges. With the support of a broad range of leaders in academia, business and government, SU hopes to stimulate groundbreaking, disruptive thinking and solutions aimed at solving some of the planet’s most pressing challenges. SU is based at the NASA Ames campus in Silicon Valley.
Singularity University via Gizmodo

New York Times article


Historypin is a like a digital time machine that allows people to view and share their personal history in a totally new way. It uses Google Maps and Street View technology and hopes to become the largest user-generated archive of the world's historical images and stories.

Historypin asks the public to dig out, upload and pin their own old photos, as well as the stories behind them, onto the Historypin map. Uniquely, Historypin lets you layer old images onto modern Street View scenes, giving a series of peaks into the past.
YouTube via 9GAG

Carbon & Water vs Silicon & Metal | IBM's "Watson"

For the last three years, I.B.M. scientists have been developing what they expect will be the world’s most advanced “question answering” machine, able to understand a question posed in everyday human elocution -- “natural language,” as computer scientists call it -- and respond with a precise, factual answer. In other words, it must do more than what search engines like Google and Bing do, which is merely point to a document where you might find the answer. It has to pluck out the correct answer itself.
Technologists have long regarded this sort of artificial intelligence as a holy grail, because it would allow machines to converse more naturally with people, letting us ask questions instead of typing keywords. Software firms and university scientists have produced question-answering systems for years, but these have mostly been limited to simply phrased questions. Nobody ever tackled ["Jeopardy!"-type questions] because experts assumed that even for the latest artificial intelligence, the game was simply too hard: the clues are too puzzling and allusive, and the breadth of trivia is too wide.

With Watson, I.B.M. claims it has cracked the problem — and aims to prove as much on national TV. The producers of “Jeopardy!” have agreed to pit Watson against some of the game’s best former players as early as this fall.
Read more at The New York Times

Play the Watson Trivia Challenge

Thanks, Marc

15 June 2010

Definitive Lost Map

Click image to enlarge
The Geography of LOST: Retrospective is the result of a four year geographic study of the fictious ISLAND from the TV show LOST. The first edition was created in the spring of 2006, and the final edition was created in the summer of 2010. This project was created by Jonah M. Adkins, GISP, Virginia, USA.
Geography of Lost via io9

14 June 2010

Greenaid | Put SeedBomb Vending Machines In Your Community

Made from a mixture of clay, compost, and seeds, "seedbombs" are becoming an increasingly popular means combating the many forgotten grey spaces we encounter everyday-from sidewalk cracks to vacant lots and parking medians. They can be thrown anonymously into these derelict urban sites to temporarily reclaim and transform them into places worth looking at and caring for. The Greenaid dispensary simply makes these guerilla gardening efforts more accessible to all by appropriating the existing distribution system of the quarter operated candy machine.

The Common Studio via The Daily What

Destination Eating | R.I.P. Jimmy Dean, 1928-2010

Food booths at the San Diego County Fair. The defibrillator paddles are a nice touch.

Click image to enlarge

Related: Sausage King Jimmy Dean died yesterday at his home in Virginia. He was 81.

The Daily What

What's For Breakfast? My Dream House

Love the bacon curtains!

Josephine Lowry via The Presurfer

Monkey Monday

YouTube via Blame It On The Voices

13 June 2010

What Is HTML5?

Click image to enlarge

Design You Trust

Shut Up And Look Pretty

Pat Robertson answers a question from a woman who is concerned that her flirtatious husband may cheat on her.

Think Progress and Media Matters via Jezebel

"Live ... From Heaven" | Carla Zilber-Smith's Farewell Video To Family And Friends

Carla Zilber-Smith was an a actress, singer, songwriter, and comedienne who died of ALS in Los Angeles on 21 May 2010. Her son, Maclen Zilber, posted his eulogy on her blog, CarlaMuses. This is part of that eulogy:
... I asked how can one sum up the life of somebody who squeezed 80 years of happiness and 80 years of pain into 47 years. Carla Zilbersmith as not a professor, a singer, a blogger, an actress, a director, a writer, a comic, or a dying woman, she was a bard. A professional human being. She was what a renaissance man would be like if they had a sense of style and didn’t wear those silly tights. She was a method actress, playing the roll of Carla Zilbersmith to a T. People often want to know what they can do for her, for me, and the answer is to take that vacation you’ve been thinking about. Enjoy yourself in her honor. Go on a hot air balloon ride, or go skydiving. Go to the library, pick out a random recipe from a random cookbook, and cook it for a randomly chosen friend. Live the shit out of your life. That’s what it’s for, isn’t it?

... I have worn two personalized wristbands on account of Carla, and I think they show the two sides of her philosophical coin. This one says “Ad Astra Per Aspera,” “through the thorns to the stars.” It means that you should strive to do what you want to do even in the face of difficulties placed in your path. The other wristband, which I don’t have with me, says “Give up.” It was an ironic parody Carla created of inspirational wristbands, like “Livestrong,” but I think it also had a powerful message. The first noble truth in Buddhism is that there is suffering. I believe that “Give Up” simply acknowledges that we aren’t going to be able to avoid the painful part of life. In conjunction, Carla’s philosophies of “Give Up” and “Ad Astra Per Aspera” say that life is going to happen to you, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t happen to life.
YouTube via Gawker TV

Staying Cool

Under their mother's watchful eye, two young moose (mooses? meese? meeses?) play in a sprinkler in Anchorage, Alaska. Is it terrible that the first thing I thought of after "How cute!" is "Ticks!"


Thanks, tomB

11 June 2010

How Scientists See The World

Abstruse Goose via The Daily What

Good Intentions, Faulty Execution

The advertising for the Active Life Movement, an anti-obesity campaign from Austin-based design firm Latinworks warns parents to "Keep obesity away from your child," and reimagines childhood toys and heroes as being lazy and overweight.

Childhood obesity is a dangerous epidemic, but are Barbie's and Superman's original body types reasonable or achievable goals? And overweight does not equal lazy, messy, lonely, etc.

Eat Me Daily

Use Forestle And Save The Rainforest

The name Forestle is deducted from the word "forest". Forestle is a "green Internet search engine". We use our advertising revenue to protect endangered rainforest regions in order to keep our worlds most precious ecosystems intact and fight global warming.
Forestle earns advertising revenue from clicks on "sponsored links". These are text links which are displayed next to the generic search results on the result page of our search engine. The sponsored links at Forestle are delivered by our partner Yahoo.

All of our income (minus about 10% administrative costs) is donated to the adopt an acre program, which is run by The Nature Conservancy – one of the most renowned environmental protection organizations in the world. They use the money, which is generated by Forestle, for the sustainable protection of the most precious rainforests on our planet.
Via The Presurfer

10 June 2010

Drinking Coffee May Reduce Risk Of Type 2 Diabetes

Scientists are reporting new evidence that drinking coffee may help prevent diabetes and that caffeine may be the ingredient largely responsible for this effect. Their findings, among the first animal studies to demonstrate this apparent link, appear in ACS' Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.
YAY!! (Skipping to the coffee-maker!)

More at Science Daily

Family Photo ...

It took me a minute to figure out what was going on with the littlest one.

The Daily What

Scientist Describes Declining Snake Populations As "Deeply Troubling"

Out of 17 snake populations monitored over many years in Europe and Africa, 11 populations plummeted about 10 years ago and have not bounced back, says herpetologist Chris Reading of the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology near Oxford, England. Just what caused the declines between 1998 and 2002 is not yet clear, but Reading and nine other biologists sound an alarm in a Biology Letters paper released the week of June 7.

Losing a lot of snakes can upset the way ecosystems work, Reading says. Snakes often rank as top predators, and even ophidiophobes may appreciate the job that snakes do in controlling rats and mice.

The new finding strikes herpetologist Harry Greene of Cornell University as “deeply troubling.” Checking for trends in other populations will be difficult, he says, because snakes are notoriously hard to count. “Being secretive is a very snakey thing.”

No data were included on U.S. snakes, but Greene notes worrisome signs from eastern king snakes in Florida and southern hog-nosed snakes throughout their range. “Of course some snakes seem to be doing fine, but overall the trend is alarming,” Greene says.

Declines of wild creatures have become a recurring theme since Rachel Carson’s 1962 book Silent Spring warned of pesticides threatening birds. Today, the IUCN estimates that many bird, mammal and amphibian species are threatened with extinction.
Read more at U.S. News

09 June 2010

Happy Hump Day

YouTube via The Daily What

Bipartisan Plan

The Next Web | Shareables

Technological Multitasking Is Rewiring Our Brains

The brain wiring map above was created by Paul Thompson of UCLA from several sets of healthy twins between ages 20 and 30.
Scientists say juggling e-mail, phone calls and other incoming information can change how people think and behave. They say our ability to focus is being undermined by bursts of information. These play to a primitive impulse to respond to immediate opportunities and threats. The stimulation provokes excitement — a dopamine squirt — that researchers say can be addictive. In its absence, people feel bored.

The resulting distractions can have deadly consequences, as when cellphone-wielding drivers and train engineers cause wrecks. And for millions of people ... these urges can inflict nicks and cuts on creativity and deep thought, interrupting work and family life.

While many people say multitasking makes them more productive, research shows otherwise. Heavy multitaskers actually have more trouble focusing and shutting out irrelevant information, scientists say, and they experience more stress. And scientists are discovering that even after the multitasking ends, fractured thinking and lack of focus persist. In other words, this is also your brain off computers.

“The technology is rewiring our brains,” said Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute of Drug Abuse and one of the world’s leading brain scientists. She and other researchers compare the lure of digital stimulation less to that of drugs and alcohol than to food and sex, which are essential but counterproductive in excess.
Read more at The New York Times

Via Neatorama

07 June 2010

Creating Empathic Physicians

Michael Blumenfield writes in Psychiatric Times:

Empathy is the ability to put yourself in someone else’s shoes and understand what they are feeling. This is something that psychiatrists try to do in our everyday work. Those of us who have worked in medical schools have struggled with the question of whether or not we can teach this to young men and women who are learning to be doctors or whether it is something that they either have or do not have. Certainly I have seen medical students who seemed to be decidedly lacking in this quality, just as I have seen students to whom it came very naturally and some who were far more empathic than I was as a student or even after years of experience.
Read more here.



"I Was Hatched By A Couple Of Chicks"*

The results of the U.S. National Longitudinal Lesbian Family Study were published today in Pediatrics magazine and found that "daughters and sons of lesbian mothers, all conceived through donor insemination, were rated higher than their peers in social, academic, and overall competence, and lower in aggressive behavior, rule-breaking, and social problems, on standardized assessments of psychological adjustment." While there have been many studies about the children of gay and lesbian parents, this is the first one to follow children from conception through adolescence.
*NLLFS tee-shirt

Via Gawker

Happy Monday

More beautiful nature photography at Pixdaus.

06 June 2010

Best Of Criggo


Style By Lemonette

Lemonette is a 54-year-old video blogger from Rome, Georgia who uses "the YouTube" to share her world-view and dispense her brand of down-home advice.

Lemonette's Channel via Buzzfeed

Uruguayan Artist Alexandro Garcias

Energias | 2009

Untitled | 1980

Armonias Estelar | 2009

A Journey Round My Skull via io9