31 December 2012

2013 | Resolutions

Monkey Monday | Baby Gorilla

A baby gorilla lies on its mother Rebecca on July 12, 2012 at the zoo in Frankfurt/M.,
western Germany. The gender of the animal, born on July 10, 2012 and still nameless,
is not yet known.
AFP Photo / Fredrik Von Erichsen
One of the Huffington Post's Animal Photos of the Year.

30 December 2012

Duck Soup | Mirror


YouTube
Pinky (Harpo), dressed as Rufus T. Firefly (Groucho), pretends to be Firefly's reflection in a missing mirror, matching his every move—including absurd ones that begin out of sight—to near perfection. In one particularly surreal moment, the two men swap positions, and thus the idea of which is a reflection of the other. Eventually, and to their misfortune, Chicolini (Chico), also disguised as Firefly, enters the frame and collides with both of them.
Source

Geneticists Will Study Killer's DNA

Illustration by Liam Derbyshire
In a move likely to renew a longstanding ethical controversy, geneticists are quietly making plans to study the DNA of Adam Lanza, 20, who killed 20 children and seven adults in Newtown, Conn. Their work will be an effort to discover biological clues to extreme violence. The researchers, at the University of Connecticut, confirmed their plans through a spokeswoman but declined to provide details. But other experts speculated that the geneticists might look for mutations that might be associated with mental illnesses and ones that might also increase the risk for violence.

They could look at all of Mr. Lanza’s genes, searching for something unusual like gene duplications or deletions or unexpected mutations, or they might determine the sequence of his entire genome, the genes and the vast regions of DNA that are not genes, in an extended search for aberrations that could determine which genes are active and how active they are. But whatever they do, this apparently is the first time researchers will attempt a detailed study of the DNA of a mass killer. 

Some researchers, like Dr. Arthur Beaudet, a professor at the Baylor College of Medicine and the chairman of its department of molecular and human genetics, applaud the effort. He believes that the acts committed by men like Mr. Lanza and the gunmen in other rampages in recent years — at Columbine High School and in Aurora, Colo., in Norway, in Tucson and at Virginia Tech — are so far off the charts of normal behavior that there must be genetic changes driving them. “We can’t afford not to do this research,” Dr. Beaudet said. 

Other scientists are not so sure. They worry that this research could eventually stigmatize people who have never committed a crime but who turn out to have a genetic aberration also found in a mass murder. Everything known about mental illness, these skeptics say, argues that there are likely to be hundreds of genes involved in extreme violent behavior, not to mention a variety of environmental influences, and that all of these factors can interact in complex and unpredictable ways. “It is almost inconceivable that there is a common genetic factor” to be found in mass murders, said Dr. Robert C. Green, a geneticist and neurologist at Harvard Medical School. “I think it says more about us that we wish there was something like this. We wish there was an explanation.”

20 December 2012

It Isn't Christmas Without Schweddy Balls



Classic SNL skit featuring Molly Shannon, Ana Gasteyer, and Alec Baldwin.

18 December 2012

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


YouTube

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. Re-posted every year because I love it.

17 December 2012

The Fate Awaiting Thee


YouTube

Video by Edwin Vacek, features a "cheery, even rousing, little song about going to Hell. Always a delight, regardless of the season."

Via Merrill Markoe

16 December 2012

14 December 2012

Seasons Greetings From Ms. Lanny-yap, Bisou, Edgar, And Kaylee

video
Click play to load and view the video.

With special thanks to LDJ

12 December 2012

The Truth About The Five-Second Rule


YouTube
The science of dropping your food on the ground reveals surprising lessons in this video from ... Vsauce ... The show's founder and host, Michael Stevens, set out to verify the five-second rule, citing research in The Journal of Applied Microbiology and investigations by others, including Mythbusters, to break the bad news (spoiler alert) that it's no good. "Five seconds is way too long to wait," he warns; "bacteria adhere to dropped food almost immediately."
The Atlantic

11 December 2012

AFP | Miracle Whip

Perfect Polly


YouTube

My mother would so have gotten one of these instead of our live parakeet.

Obamadon

In the foreground, the carnivorous lizard Palaeosaniwa pursues a pair of hatchling
Edmontosaurus, as the snake Cerberophis and the lizard Obamadon look on.
In the background, T. rex faces off against Triceratops.  Artwork by Carl Buell
The small, insect-eating lizard was discovered in the badlands of northeastern Montana—its fossil preserved in an area called the Hell Creek formation. Less than a foot long, it had elaborate teeth with three cusps on each tooth and a slender jaw. Some 65 million years ago, it went extinct. And now, it is named for the 44th president of the United States: Obamadon gracilis.
The ancient lizard species bearing President Obama’s name was discovered when researchers from Yale and Harvard universities re-examined fossil collections all across the country, as part of an effort to understand what happened to lizards and snakes during the mass extinction that killed off the dinosaurs.
In the process, Yale paleontologist Nicholas Longrich said the team encountered several new species that were previously unknown or misclassified lurking in museum collections. There was one ferocious carnivorous lizard in need of a name, but that one didn’t turn out to be presidential. The small one with the slender jaw seemed just right. There was one problem. This was before November. “I was seriously thinking, if the election had gone the other way, I would have yanked it,” Longrich said. “It might have seemed like we were mocking it, naming a lizard that goes extinct after that, seemed kind of cruel.”
Longrich and colleagues described the Obamadon in a paper published ... in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. But far from a debutante party for a presidential lizard, the name is an aside in a paper that provides new evidence that the mass extinction 65.5 million years ago, thought to have been triggered by the crash-landing of the massive Chicxulub asteroid, may not have spared lizards and snakes nearly as much as scientists previously believed.
Read more at Science In Mind.

08 December 2012

Study Of Spirit Mediums Produces Unexpected Results

Illustration of automatic writing, 1863.
Source
... a new brain study of Brazilian mediums shows that something decidedly strange is occurring during the famous "trance state," and no one has a ready answer to explain exactly what's going on. 

Ten mediums -- five less expert and five experienced -- were injected with a radioactive tracer to capture their brain activity during normal writing and during the practice of psychography, which involves allegedly channeling written communication from the "other side" while in a trance-like state.

The subjects were scanned using SPECT (single photon emission computed tomography) to highlight the areas of the brain that are active and inactive during the practice. The mediums ranged from 15 to 47 years of automatic writing experience, performing up to 18 psychographies per month. All were right-handed, in good mental health, and not currently using any psychiatric drugs. All reported that during the study they were able to reach their usual trance-like state during the psychography task and were in their regular state of consciousness during the control task.

 ... The experienced psychographers showed lower levels of activity in the left hippocampus (limbic system), right superior temporal gyrus, and the frontal lobe regions of the brain during psychography compared to their normal (non-trance) writing. The frontal lobe areas are associated with reasoning, planning, generating language, movement, and problem solving, which means that the mediums were experiencing reduced focus, lessened self-awareness and fuzzy consciousness during psychography. For the less experienced mediums, exactly the opposite was observed -- increased levels of activity in the same frontal areas during psychography compared to normal writing, and the difference was significant compared to the experienced mediums.

What this probably means is that the less experienced mediums were trying really hard. The force is not yet strong with them. But here's the interesting part: the writing samples produced were analyzed and it was found that the complexity scores for the psychographed content were higher than those for the control writing across the board. In particular, the more experienced mediums showed higher complexity scores, which typically would require more activity in the frontal and temporal lobes -- but that's precisely the opposite of what was observed. To put this another way, the low level of activity in the experienced mediums' frontal lobes should have resulted in vague, unfocused, obtuse garble. Instead, it resulted in more complex writing samples than they were able to produce while not entranced.

The researchers speculate that maybe as frontal lobe activity decreases, "the areas of the brain that support mediumistic writing are further disinhibited (similar to alcohol or drug use) so that the overall complexity can increase." In a similar manner, they say, improvisational music performance is associated with lower levels of frontal lobe activity which allows for more creative activity. The big problem with that explanation is that improvisational music performance and alcohol/drug consumption states are, in the researchers' words, "quite peculiar and distinct from psychography."

"While the exact reason is at this point elusive, our study suggests there are neurophysiological correlates of this state," says study co-author Andrew Newberg, MD, director of Research at the Jefferson-Myrna Brind Center of Integrative Medicine.

Neurophysiological correlates indeed, but to what?

Psychology Today. Research article: Neuroimaging during Trance State: A Contribution to the Study of Dissociation at online journal PLOS ONE.

06 December 2012

You Park Like An Asshole

Sick of a car taking up two spaces on the street? How about a car too close to yours? What about the car at the mall parked diagonally? Now you can do something about it. Simply download a notice and place it on the car's windshield. The owner of the vehicle will be informed of their asshole status as well as the proper tips to improve their poor parking techniques. It's time to put an end to asshole parking, or at least to make fun of it.
NOTE: youparklikeanasshole.com does not support making the notices provided into stickers in the intent to adhere said notices onto offending assholes.
You Park Like An Asshole 

Atlas Obscura | Weird Steve's House


Weird Steve has a house that lives up to his name. Filled to the brim with oddities and curiosities, it is a perfect example of the Victorian decorating style known as "horror vacui" (literally, fear of empty spaces), and not a square inch goes uncovered.
Weird Steve has dedicated his life to cramming his Victorian mansion with his growing collection of curios, antiquities and odd refuse. Steve's unusual artifacts include circus sideshow exhibits (pickled punks, two headed animals), Victorian art (wreaths of human hair, furniture, statues), natural history (exotic taxidermy, anatomical displays), antique medical and quack instruments, funeral paraphernalia (antique coffins, collection of casket plates), a 25,000+ library of curious and esoteric themes, 150+ antique toasters, a sculpture garden (complete with 25 foot-tall Rapunzel tower), a tree house outfitted as a bordello and countless others oddities. Wonderful, cluttered Horror vacui at its best.
Dining Room

Garden Room

Kitchen

Library

Panoramic photos by Bradford Bohanus. Click here for a virtual tour of Weird Steve's house.

Atlas Obscura

Wires, Vacuum Tubes, Condensers, Coils, Switches And Relays | How Radio Works


YouTube

Thanks, Rick

04 December 2012

Pornaments For Your Holiday Decorating

Terrifying Dental Mannequin Calendar


For the dental professional or enthusiast in your life, give the popular 2013 Frasaco Calendar. Each month features a seasonal scene of mannequins enjoying time away from the Sim lab. It will bring a smile every day to the life of dental health fans anywhere! This clever calendar is available only from Practicon, the exclusive distributor of Frasaco Educational Solutions in the USA and Canada.
Via Gawker

Outer Space Smells Like Fried Steak

Astronauts who have gone on spacewalks consistently speak of space's extraordinarily peculiar odor. They can't smell it while they're actually bobbing in it, because the interiors of their space suits just smell plastic-y. But upon stepping back into the space station and removing their helmets, they get a strong, distinctive whiff of the final frontier. The odor clings to their suit, helmet, gloves and tools.

Fugitives from the near-vacuum — probably atomic oxygen, among other things — the clinging particles have the acrid aroma of seared steak, hot metal and welding fumes. Steven Pearce, a chemist asked by NASA to recreate the space odor on Earth for astronaut training purposes, said the metallic aspect of the scent may come from high-energy vibrations of ions. "It's like something I haven't ever smelled before, but I'll never forget it," NASA astronaut Kevin Ford said from orbit in 2009.


Life's Little Mysteries

02 December 2012

DSM-V Finalized

... The American Psychiatric Association have just announced that the new diagnostic manual, to be officially published in May 2013, has been approved by the board of trustees. You can read the official announcement and a summary of the major changes online as a pdf – and it seems a few big developments are due.

The various autism-related disorders have been replaced by a single ‘autism spectrum disorder’ – essentially removing Asperger’s from the manual. 

 A ‘disruptive mood dysregulation disorder’ has been added to “diagnose children who exhibit persistent irritability and frequent episodes of behavior outbursts three or more times a week for more than a year”. As the APA admit, this is largely to address the rise of the ‘childhood bipolar disorder’ concept which has led to a huge number of children with challenging behaviour being medicated on rather ill-defined grounds. Whether this actually does anything to change this, is another matter. 

 Despite the expected revision of the overly complex and often indistinguishable subtypes of personality disorder – these have been kept as they were. 

 Posttraumatic stress disorder has been tinkered with – apparently to pay “more attention to the behavioral symptoms” and presumably to exclude ‘PTSD after seeing things on the TV’ – a change included in all the drafts. 

 Perhaps most controversially, the bereavement exclusion will be removed from the diagnosis of depression – meaning you could be diagnosed and treated for depression just two weeks after a loss if you fulfill the diagnostic criteria.

Mind Hacks

29 November 2012

'Contact Mr. Will Vincent'



Terrific 'About' page from graphic designer Will Vincent at CargoCollective.

28 November 2012

Creative Horse Shelter Design

Click image to enlarge | Photo by Jens Meyer/AP | Link
Horses stand in the shadows of a gigantic wooden table and two chairs during mild autumnal weather in a meadow near Doellstaedt, central Germany.

26 November 2012

Best Of Criggo









Protected Gorilla Population Rises

The world’s population of mountain gorillas has increased by more than 10 percent in just two years, most likely thanks to conservation efforts that have successfully engaged the local Ugandan community.

Only a few decades ago ... conservationists predicted that mountain gorillas could be extinct by the end of the 20th century. War, habitat destruction, poaching and disease threatened their population. But since 2010, Uganda’s remaining 786 mountain gorillas have grown their population to 880.

Conservationists think the success story stems from balancing species survival with the needs of local people. Rather than exclude people from the landscape, park managers instead figured out ways to supplement harmful activities with sustainable ones. For example, firewood collection once threatened the gorillas’ habitat, so to get around this conservationists provided communities with access to alternative energy sources so they would no longer have to rely upon forest-harvested wood. They also created jobs for community members to act as ecotourist guides.

Endangered mountain gorillas aren’t out of the woods just yet, however. Habitat loss, disease transfer from humans and entanglement from hunting snares still threaten their populations.
Smithsonian

25 November 2012

The Truth About Plain Doughnuts

Click image to enlarge

FB via Buzzfeed

Alexander Arrangement | 3D Periodic Table

Click image to enlarge

From Theodore Gray:
The Alexander Arrangement is a three-dimensional paper sculpture of the periodic table designed by Roy Alexander, with whom I collaborated on this version. For the first time this clever form of the table has been combined with my photographs of real element samples, resulting in a quite lovely object.

The Alexander Arrangement deals with the fundamental problem of gaps in the traditional arrangement of the periodic table by wrapping the transition metals and the lanthanides/actinides into loops, so all the elements that are supposed to be next to each other actually are next to each other. You can read it as a complete spiral loop through all the elements without any gaps.
The table is printed on top-grade, heavy paper printed on both sides, and includes detailed instructions for assembly. The result is a sturdy object you can carry around, put on a table, hang as a mobile, or, if you're like me, use as a tree-topper for a festive seasonal science tree. "It takes about 10 minutes to put together if you don't read the instructions," Theodore tells us. "No idea how long if you do read them, that's not the kind of thing I would stoop to."
Via BoingBoing

22 November 2012

21 November 2012

Happy Thanksgiving

David Farley | December 2003

Thanks, Rick

Thanksgiving-erator

Click image to enlarge

Stumped about what to cook for the big day? Choose a theme, answer a few questions and the Thanksgiving-erator creates a menu complete with recipes. I chose the Bacon-themed menu. Who knew there was such a thing as Fat-Washed Rum?

Produced for the New York Times by Jacky Myint, Emily Weinstein, Des Shoe and Troy Griggs.

Click HERE to try the Thanksgiving-erator.

20 November 2012

Nose Cell Transplant Enables Paralyzed Dogs To Walk

A 10-year old dachshund named Jasper has regained the use of his hind legs after being injected with cells grown from the lining of his nose — cells that are showing a remarkable potential to replace damaged nerves. The procedure, which was conducted on a total of 23 dogs, is set to revolutionize the way spinal cord injuries are treated in humans.

All the dogs in the study, a collaboration between the MRC's Regenerative Medicine Centre and Cambridge University's Veterinary School, had suffered spinal cord injuries as the result of accidents or back problems (at least one year prior to the study), and none of them could use their hind legs to walk or feel any sensation in their hindquarters. Interestingly, many of the dogs used in the study were dachshunds — a breed that's particularly susceptible to spinal cord injuries.

For the study, which was published in the neurology journal Brain, the dogs had olfactory ensheathing cells (OECs) taken from their noses and put into a cell culture for further growth. These cells, which are found at the back of the nasal cavity, are the only part of the body where nerve fibres continue to grow into adulthood. The potential for these cells to help in spinal cord repair has been known for decades. And indeed, earlier studies with rats had indicated that OECs have powerful regenerative potential.

Several weeks after the initial extraction, the cells were injected into the injured part of the dogs' back to help regenerate the damage done to their spine. After one month, the dogs were tested for neurological function, and for their walking ability (which was evaluated on a treadmill). And amazingly, what the researchers saw was significant improvement. Though not perfect, the dogs had regained considerable function of previously unusable hind legs. Some dogs even regained bowel and bladder control after the treatment.

That said, the new nerve connections were only generated over short distances within the spinal cord — what will likely have to be corrected with a supplementary intervention. For now, the researchers are optimistic but cautious about the therapy being used to treat human patients. Looking ahead, the researchers hope to see the procedure used alongside drug treatments to facilitate nerve fibre regeneration and bioengineering to substitute damaged neural networks.

And as for Jasper, his owner told BBC, "Before the treatment we used to have to wheel Jasper round on a trolley because his back legs were useless. Now he whizzes around the house and garden and is able to keep up with the other dogs. It's wonderful."


BBC via io9

19 November 2012

Squee-e-e-e | Streaming Puppies

Live stream videos at Ustream
No other identifying information is available on the site, but these fluffballs look like Bichon or Pomeranian pups or maybe American Eskimo dogs.

Bumped

Orange Battery

Click image to enlarge
Photographer Caleb Charland fashioned a battery using orange wedges by rigging the acidic fruit with copper wires, galvanized nails and placing an LED light in the center. Charland used a 14-hour exposure to capture this beautiful photo of it glowing from within.
Colossal via Laughing Squid

World Toilet Day

World Toilet Day is observed annually on 19 November. This international day of action aims to break the taboo around toilets and draw attention to the global sanitation challenge.

Can you imagine not having a toilet? Can you imagine not having privacy when you need to relieve yourself? Although unthinkable for those living in wealthy parts of the world, this is a harsh reality for many - in fact, one in three people on this globe, does not have access to a toilet! Have you ever thought about the true meaning of dignity?

World Toilet Day was created to pose exactly these kind of questions and to raise global awareness of the daily struggle for proper sanitation that a staggering 2.5 billion people face. World Toilet Day brings together different groups, such as media, the private sector, development organisations and civil society in a global movement to advocate for safe toilets. Since its inception in 2001, World Toilet Day has become an important platform to demand action from governments and to reach out to wider audiences by showing that toilets can be fun and sexy as well as vital to life.

18 November 2012

Parents | Are You A Monster When You're Drunk?


YouTube | Adweek

Folks fortunate enough to have had normal childhoods might find this PSA from Finnish agency Euro RSCG Helsinki for a charity called Fragile Childhood disturbing or unrealistic but I find it totally relatable. It's doubtful that alcoholic parents will recognize themselves or be shocked into changing their behavior, but it may open the eyes of someone else in the life of such a child and inspire them to intervene.

Thanksgiving-Themed Cupcakes

Click image to enlarge

Make Bake Celebrate via Instructables

Ragin' Rick's Unforgettable Thanksgiving Recipes

Rick's Butterflied Turkey

This is a picture of Ms. Lanny-yap's friend Rick Seaby's butterflied roast turkey, hot and crispy and juicy and fresh from the oven in only two hours. Check out this and Rick's other amazing Thanksgiving recipes (Roasted Garlic Smashed Potatoes and rich Turkey Gravy) here.

16 November 2012

Obama Voters Not Welcome In Arizona Gun Store

Cope Reynolds, who runs the Southwest Shooting Authority gun shop in the small Navajo County town [Pinetop, Arizona] of 4,000, spent his own (presumably) hard-earned money to take out a full-page ad in the White Mountain Independent, declaring all Obama voters personae non gratae.

Obviously, this is nothing more than a political statement [said Reynolds.] Of course, it would be impossible to enforce. If they don't say anything, we'll never know. They could purchase whatever they wanted and they would probably get a big kick out of thinking that they are rubbing it in our face as they walk out the door. Some folks are easily amused that way.

However, if they own up to it, we will not serve them. This goes way beyond gun control, which many think is why we did this. I should have as much right to post a sign on my door as those that post "No Guns" on their doors.

Gawker

Fletcher's Dad

Click image to enlarge | Source

I Am Fairly Sure You Don't Really Read These

Click image to enlarge | Source

15 November 2012

Killer Coaster

Click image to enlarge
“Euthanasia Coaster” is a hypothetical euthanasia machine in the form of a roller coaster, engineered to humanely – with elegance and euphoria – take the life of a human being. Riding the coaster’s track, the rider is subjected to a series of intensive motion elements that induce various unique experiences: from euphoria to thrill, and from tunnel vision to loss of consciousness, and, eventually, death. Thanks to the marriage of the advanced cross-disciplinary research in space medicine, mechanical engineering, material technologies and, of course, gravity, the fatal journey is made pleasant, elegant and ritualistic. Celebrating the limits of the human body but also the liberation from the horizontal life, this ‘kinetic sculpture’ is in fact the ultimate roller coaster: John Allen, former president of the famed Philadelphia Toboggan Company, once sad that “the ultimate roller coaster is built when you send out twenty-four people and they all come back dead. This could be done, you know.”
Julijonas Urbonas via Neatorama

Mortsafes



The burial practice of covering graves with elaborate ironwork cages raises the question -- what protective function did they serve? Were they designed to keep something in ... or something out?

From the Columbia County Historical & Genealogical Society Newsletter:
... the cages are mortsafes, structures intended to prevent the theft of a body for use by anatomy instructors, doctors or medical students who at the time had no legal source of cadavers for their work. This was a serious problem, now all but forgotten, throughout most of the 18th and 19th centuries not just in this country but also in the British Isles. Other kinds of mortsafes were used as well and examples of some of them may be seen in [Columbia County, Pennsylvania.]
The iron cage mortsafe was prevalent in Scotland before 1830, but most were removed after passage of the Warburton Anatomy Act provided a legal source of anatomical material and ended the need for body snatching in Great Britain. The few remaining mortsafes in Scotland today are now billed as tourist attractions.
Via Unlacing the Victorians