30 September 2011

Employee Handbook | The Ropes At Disney [1943]

Click images to enlarge

From Brain Pickings:
In 1943, Walt Disney Productions’ personnel department set out to eliminate confusion for the company’s workforce with the publication of an employee handbook titled The Ropes at Disney. It was an effort to reconcile the need for organizational order with Disney’s effort to craft an image of an informal, irreverent, fun employer who seeks to “maintain a friendly relationship between Company and employee” (but, apparently, deems only the former worthy of capitalization.)
Click the link to see the entire booklet. Note the institutionalized sexism and objectification of women.

Periodic Table Of Super-Hero Elements

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28 September 2011

Tony Cenicola | Pin-up Chicken

Tony Cenicola

This picture flashed briefly across my TV screen this morning and its insouciance delighted me. I wasn't sure what was going on because I had the sound turned off, so I found the pic online, and apparently it's so popular that the New York Times has a article about how it came to be.


MinutePhysics | Dimensions


That's it? I need the remedial five-minute version.

26 September 2011

Monkey Monday | Monkeys Can Reason Through Analogy

Baboon Face | Papio papio
Henry Horenstein
A cat takes care of a kitten and a bird feeds fledglings: although the context is different, these two situations are similar and we can conclude that both cases involve a mother and its offspring. For a long time researchers believed that this type of analogical reasoning was impossible without language and that it was restricted to humans or, at best, great apes that had been taught a language. However, two scientists, Joël Fagot of the Laboratoire de Psychologie Cognitive (CNRS/Université de Provence) and Roger Thompson of the Franklin & Marshall College in the United States, have demonstrated that monkeys are capable of making analogies without language.

The two researchers carried out their experiment on 29 baboons (Papio papio) of variable ages, which could freely perform the proposed exercise (this represents a large number of animals for this type of experiment.) First of all, the baboons were shown two geometric shapes on a touch screen, for example two squares. After they touched one of these shapes, two other pairs of shapes appeared on the screen, such as: a triangle and a star for the first pair and two identical ovals for the second pair. To successfully complete the exercise and be rewarded, the animal had to touch the pair representing the same relation (of identity or difference) as the initial pair (here, the two ovals).

In other words, the baboon had to detect relations between relations, which is the definition of analogy. After an intensive learning period covering several thousand tests, 6 baboons correctly performed the task, thus demonstrating an ability to resolve analogy problems. Furthermore, the researchers suspended the task for nearly one year before proposing it again to the baboons. The animals re-learnt the task much faster than during the initial training, which shows that they remembered the situation.

Science Daily

Reconstructing Brain Imagery Using fMRI

YouTube | The Presurfer
Using functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging and computational models, UC Berkeley researchers have succeeded in decoding and reconstructing people’s dynamic visual experience. The left clip is a segment of the movie that the subject viewed while in the magnet. The right clip shows the reconstruction of this movie from brain activity measured using fMRI.
Science Direct: Reconstructing Visual Experiences from Brain Activity Evoked by Natural Movies

24 September 2011

Dancin' The Boogie


World-famous boogie-woogie and blues pianist Silvan Zingg plays his composition "Dancin' The Boogie" while champion dancers William Mauvais and Maeva Truntzer show the audience how it's done. Most of the time, the female dancer gets all the attention -- and Maeva Truntzer is wonderful -- but watch William Mauvais. His head and shoulders stay level but his legs and feet are "goin' to war" as my dad used to say. They really are amazingly good.

Meet Mini-Molly

Mini-Molly is a nine-week-old "Morkie", a Maltese-Yorkie mix who came to live with big brother Tug the Pug today. She weighs two pounds now and will weigh about six pounds when fully-grown, so Bisou and Edgar will have a same-sized playmate. Aren't little doggies just the best?

UPDATED on Sunday 25 September:

Mini's mom brought her over today to meet Bisou, who gave her a good sniffing and then retreated to her crate and really tried to avoid Mini The Tiny Terror for the rest of the afternoon.

Mini's mom also wanted to check her weight, so we pulled out the food scale. She weighs almost two pounds exactly. Such a good girl.

Famous Last Words

But the peasants ... how do the peasants die?

I am dying.
Please ... bring me a toothpick.

Goddamn the whole fucking world and everyone in it, excpt you, Carolotta.

Read more famous last words at Buzzfeed.

22 September 2011

Michael Gagne | Insanely Twisted Shadow Puppets

YouTube | Neatorama

Michael Gagne created this series of short "interstitials" for the Nickelodeon channel for Halloween in 2005.

21 September 2011

Did You Feel It? | Earthquake Information Database

USGS |  22 September 2011

Did You Feel It? is a site hosted by the US Geological Survey where anyone can quickly [and anonymously] contribute data about earthquakes.
A list of earthquakes [is provided], and once you enter your zip code, you are given the opportunity to answer several questions (were you inside or outside, if you were asleep, did any objects fall, the duration of the shaking) that help scientists at the USGS judge the intensity of the earthquake. This information is especially valuable when it comes from individuals far from the epicenter.
The site has a tremendous amount of information, including maps, seismograms, animations, predictions and probabilties, tips on preparedness, and an archive of past earthquakes.


20 September 2011

'Min Min' Lights Chase Australian Man

Stuart Highway, south of Tennant Creek | Source
A man, who wished to be identified only as Aiden, was an hour south of Tennant Creek in Australia's Northwest Territory when he noticed a bright light following closely behind his car.

"About an hour after I had set off I looked in my side mirror and noticed a light behind me," he said. He thought nothing of it, believing it was another car - but the light got brighter. "I thought 'geez, they must be driving fast' as I was doing 120km/h," he said. "When I looked again after a few minutes the light was really bright but it was in the bloody sky."

Aiden said he started to freak out when he noticed the light was not coming from another car or truck. "I put the foot down a bit more," he said. "Then I looked back again and this time the light was huge and the most brightest light I had ever seen. But the strange thing is that the light had like an orange colour to it, but was white at the same time. It was about the size of a large car and stayed with me for about 20 or 30 minutes. I said to myself: 'no, no, no, not me, go and take someone else, I am not interested," he said.

Expert Territory UFOlogist Alan Ferguson said it had happened many times before. "The Aborigines called them 'min min lights'," Mr Ferguson said.

Source | Arbroath

17 September 2011

15 September 2011

Amusingly Horrible | Significant Others

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Readers of The Hairpin submitted the worst things a significant other ever said to them. The winner:
There's a show pony, with a trimmed mane and braided tail, and then there's a wild horse running though a prairie. You're like that horse. I mean, there's supermodels, and then there's dirt. [And I am like dirt?] Yeah. [We are no longer together.]
Read the remaining 31 entries here, and check out the Amusingly Horrible Things Moms Have Said here.

Via Brooklyn Mutt

Taxidermized By Chuck Testa

YouTube | TDW

More "Internetainment" by Rhett and Link.

13 September 2011

Miss USA | Proud To Be An American

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Linda Holmes, writing for NPR:
One of the best parts of Miss Universe is that all the contestants have a national costume ... Since we are located here in Washington, D.C., I was curious about the national costume for Miss USA ... Yep. That's her. In case the flag distracts you from the other details of the outfit, here they are. The epaulets, the blue ribbon, and that glorious, glorious hat. It's like Washington crossing the Delaware to go to Hooters. I officially love this outfit, precisely because it is the most ridiculous thing maybe ever.
That line made me laugh out loud.

12 September 2011

Ben Dewey | Things Could Be Worse

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Ben Dewey is a professional comic book artist, illustrator, musician, and blogger from Portland, Oregon. Tragedy Series: Things Could Be Worse features "depictions drawn from regrettable accounts of the less fortunate for purposes of instruction, so that one may avoid similar missteps." View many more tragedies at the web site.

Via Pleated Jeans

Sounds Of Silence


I happened to be watching TV on Sunday morning and this just broke my heart.

Monkey Monday | Curious Tamarins

YouTube | San Francisco Zoo

11 September 2011

Kuriositas | Focus On Bokeh

Photo by Steve took it | Click image to enlarge

Bokeh is the blurry or out-of-focus area of a photograph. Kuriositas has a stunning post illustrating the aesthetics of bokeh with superb photographic examples.

Rhombus Illusion

YouTube | io9

To watch in 3D, cross your eyes until the two images overlap and merge together. When watching in 3D, we will see the following optical illusions:

1. The spinning rhombus appears to switch directions
2. Striped band appears to rotate in the opposite direction of the rhombus
3. Red cube floats in space
4. Red cube becomes transparent
5. Red cube rotates impossibly
6. The light falling on the rhombus appears to come from a source opposite its real source

This illusion is remarkable once we manage to observe it, but the effect may not be visible right away. We may have to replay more than once for the effect to assert itself.

*The rhombus illusion was created by Terry Pope as a target for the Pseudoscope. By filming the target with a stereoscopic camera and reversing the left/right videos, the same illusion can be seen without a pseudoscope.

Wordle | September 11


From Gawker:
How do talk about 9/11, ten years later? What stories do we tell? What ideas grab us? We made a word cloud of editorials from 15 prominent local and national papers to see what came up.

The word cloud was made in Wordle using editorials from a number of local and national newspapers, including The New York Times, the New York Post, the New York Daily News, The Wall Street Journal, the Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post, the Chicago Sun-Times, the Chicago Tribune, Newsday, the San Jose Mercury News, The Dallas Morning News, the Houston Chronicle, The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Boston Globe, and The Star-Ledger.
Click image to enlarge

10 September 2011

What You Should Have Learned In Senior Year

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Check out Michael Inman's web-comic The Oatmeal to find out what you should have learned in science, economics, english, phys ed, sex ed, and home ec during your senior year in high school.

09 September 2011

Internet Archive Digital Library | 11 September

The Internet Archive is an organization that collects audio, moving images, and Web images for historical purposes.

The Archive recently announced the launch of Understanding 9/11: A Television News Archive of coverage of the attacks, without any filters, by national and international broadcasteers.

The Archive serves as a resource for scholars, journalists, and the public and features one week of broadcasts (3,000 hours from 20 channels over seven days.) Besides audio and video, the site also provides a chronology of events. Click here for longer clips, program guides, and an extended event chronology.

Tuesday 11 September 2001

8:48 a.m.
First news reports that American Airlines Flight 11 has crashed into One World Trade Center (north tower).
9:03 a.m.
United Airlines Flight 175 crashes into Two World Trade Center (south tower).
9:17 a.m.
FAA closes NYC area airports.
9:21 a.m.
NYC Port Authority closes all bridges and tunnels in NYC.
9:24 a.m.
President Bush calls crashes "an apparent attack on our country".
9:32 a.m.
New York Stock Exchange closed.
9:40 a.m.
FAA orders all commercial flights grounded.
9:43 a.m.
American Airlines Flight 77 crashes into the Pentagon.
9:45 a.m.
White House evacuated.
9:59 a.m.
Two World Trade Center (south tower) collapses.
10:00 a.m.
United Airlines Flight 93 crashes in Somerset County, Pennsylvania.
10:10 a.m.
Portion of the Pentagon collapses.
10:13 a.m.
United Nations building evacuates.
10:22 a.m.
State and Justice Departments, and World Bank, evacuated in Washington DC.
10:24 a.m.
FAA reroutes inbound transatlantic flights to land in Canada.
10:28 a.m.
One World Trade Center (north tower) collapses.
10:45 a.m.
All federal office buildings in Washington DC evacuated.
10:48 a.m.
Police confirm Pennsylvania plane crash.
10:53 a.m.
New York's primary elections postponed.
10:54 a.m.
Israel evacuates diplomatic missions.
10:57 a.m.
NY Gov. Pataki announces closure of all state government offices.
11:02 a.m.
Mayor Giuliani urges New Yorkers to stay at home and orders an evacuation of the area south of Canal Street.

07 September 2011

Austin Pets Alive Resues Animals Endangered By Wildfires

A dear friend lives northwest of Austin, about 30 miles away from the Bastrop wildfires. He shares his life with a rescue dog, and he sent me this article from the Austin Pets Alive website about how shelter animals endangered by the fires are being saved and relocated.

The mission of APA is to provide education, resources, and programs to eliminate the killing of companion animals. Since the wildfires, they're also urging area residents to foster or adopt animals evacuated from shelters.


Thanks, Soll

06 September 2011

Animated Map Of Social Media

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In June 2009 there were 17 active social networks. By June 2011, there were nine.

I Love Charts

The Ten Commandments Of Steve

Photo by Axel Schmidt | AFP-Getty Images
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The Daily Beast

Tom Lehrer | Periodic Table Of The Elements Song


05 September 2011

Monkey Monday | The Two Sides Of Using Chimpanzees In Research

Two letters regarding the use of chimpanzees in research were recently published in the Washington Post:
From Kathleen Conlee, Senior Director of Animal Research Issues at the Humane Society of the United States:

An Institute of Medicine committee met this month to debate whether U.S. scientists should continue conducting medical research on chimpanzees [“Advances in research may help spare medical chimps,”]. Those with a financial interest or self-interest in the research tried to argue for continued chimpanzee use, but when pressed by the committee they couldn’t defend their claim that chimpanzees are scientifically necessary.

Ethical and economic issues cannot be divorced from science. It is expensive to warehouse chimpanzees in laboratories and unethical to confine these magnificent, long-lived animals in barren cages.

Congress’s Great Ape Protection and Cost Savings Act, which would end invasive research on chimpanzees and retire government-owned chimpanzees to sanctuaries, would save taxpayers about $30 million annually and provide chimps the peaceful life they deserve. Let’s do right by the chimpanzees, taxpayers and medical research and pass this legislation.
From Alice Ra'anan and Claire Edwards, employees of the American Physiological Society:

The article on using chimpanzees for research noted that the United States is the only developed nation where this approach occurs. However, scientists from countries without chimpanzee research colonies regularly conduct such studies in the United States. In fact, when the Netherlands disbanded its colony, it explicitly cited research in the United States as a safeguard against future need.

Research with chimpanzees is highly regulated. The animals have access to excellent veterinary care and are housed whenever possible in compatible social groups and in an enriched environment.

Many nuances emerged in the discussions with the Institute of Medicine panel. Several experts who said that chimpanzees were no longer a primary research model in their fields nevertheless noted that small-scale chimpanzee studies might still be needed to resolve specific problems, such as providing proof of concept that a new drug or delivery system is likely to work in humans.

While the need may be small, instances remain where no other research model can provide timely answers without undue risk to humans.
Read the referenced article here.

Howling With The Wolves

04 September 2011

Real Invisibility Cloaks

Ever since scientists in Germany announced last year the ability to create a small-scale cloak of invisibility for a 3D object the size of a human hair, there has been growing excitement about the ability to extend this “cloak of invisibility” to larger objects. Now, researchers at Cornell led by Moti Fridman have gone one step further – they have shown that it is theoretically possible to create temporal “cloaks of invisibility” to hide events. In other words, for incredibly brief periods of time – no more than 120 microseconds – it is possible to create a “hole in time” where events can not be observed.

This is the proverbial “time warp” that works by bending space-time in such a way that renders an event invisible. This is exciting work, occurring at the fringes of everything we thought was possible through quantum physics. Yes, it’s time to re-read your Einstein, Hawking and Kaku. Unlike traditional “cloaks of invisibility,” which work by using meta-materials to hide an object from visible light, the “cloaks of invisibility” for events work not by changing the shape of a light wave hitting an object, but by shifting the time of a light wave ...
Read more at Big Think | Abstract via Cornell University Library

Devil's Mantis

YouTube | TDW

This impressive agonistic display is by the Devil's Mantis [Idolomantis diabolica], one of the largest [up to 5 inches long] species of praying mantis that mimics flowers.

03 September 2011

Study Connects Child Abuse To Serious Depression In Adults

Nearly one in 20 people in the UK have [multiple and long-lasting] depression as a result of childhood abuse, say researchers. The [mental health] charity SANE said the study highlighted how damaging childhood trauma could be.

Depression in some form can affect one in five people at some point in their lives. Researchers at the Institute of Psychiatry at Kings College London were investigating depression which keeps on recurring. They reviewed 16 studies, on a total of more than 23,000 patients, and found that maltreatment in childhood - such as rejection by the mother, harsh physical treatment or sexual abuse - more than doubled the risk of this type of depression. One of the researchers, Dr Rudolf Uher, said: "If these things happen early in life, it is more powerful."

In the UK, 16% of people develop persistent depression by the age of 33. A quarter of them, or 4% of the whole UK population, were maltreated as a child. A separate review on 3,098 people showed childhood maltreatment was also linked to a poorer response to both drug and psychological treatment. Lead researcher Dr Andrea Danese said: "Even for combined treatments, patients with a history of childhood maltreatment cannot be adequately cared for." Their report suggests "early preventive and therapeutic interventions may be more effective."

There is no precise explanation of any link between abuse, changes in the body as a child and persistent depression 20 or more years later. Childhood maltreatment, it is thought, causes changes to the brain, immune system and some hormone glands - some of which are still present in adulthood. One possible mechanism is what is known as epigenetic changes to the DNA. While there is no change in the genetic code, the environment can alter the way genes are expressed.

Marjorie Wallace, chief executive of SANE, said: "It may seem obvious that traumatic events in our lives can make us depressed, but this study highlights how particularly damaging such traumas can be when experienced during childhood, when our brains are still developing. "We should all be concerned at how abuse and neglect creates a painful legacy that can last a lifetime, increasing our chances of experiencing repeated episodes of depression and reducing the effects of those treatments that are available to us.

"Yet we should not lose hope. Research such as this can point the way to better treatments and preventative measures."
Source: BBC Health News | American Journal of Psychiatry

How To Stop Your Children From Becoming Atheists

Click image to enlarge

reddit | Dangerous Minds

Literature Map

Type in the name of your favorite author and Literature Map will generate the names of other authors you might enjoy reading.

The Presurfer

02 September 2011

Simon's Cat | Cat And Mouse

YouTube | Laughing Squid

Too Much Nature | Great White Shark(s)

A two-mile stretch of coastline at Casa Reef in La Jolla [CA] was reopened Thursday, following the third confirmed shark sighting along San Diego's coastline in a week. The coastline at Casa Reef was shut down, after several people spotted a 12-inch dorsal fin around 1:30 p.m. Wednesday near the Children's Pool, where a colony of seals live.

... In addition to the shark sighting Wednesday in the La Jolla area, another shark was spotted further north in Encinitas and was documented in a picture taken by a News 8 viewer. After receiving the photo taken at Swamis beach, News 8 spoke with a local shark expert who confirmed that the shark in the photo is a 10 to 12 foot great white.
Source | Gawker

Could They Mean 'Gender-Neutral'?

The Importance Of Eyebrows