30 September 2012

DIY No-Carve Halloween Pumpkins

31 more at Buzzfeed

To The Rolling Stones | We Hate You

In March of 1966, as their Australian tour came to an end, a few members of the Rolling Stones — Mick Jagger, Keith Richards and Charlie Watts — decided to unwind by taking a short break in Fiji. It was during that visit, and due in no small part to a flippant remark made by their road manager concerning the quiet reception they received on arrival, that the magnificent letter seen below was sent, by an anonymous local schoolkid, to their hotel. The letter is currently on display at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
. Transcript:
To the Rolling Stones,
Just wanted you to know, me and my friends with nearly the whole school, HATE you. Because you don't look like men, you are nothing but ANIMALS, and smell like them too. We know also that you are DIRTY and STINK. You probably never have baths which is typical of English pigs like you. I hope that you hurry up and go away from clean Fiji, because we don't want you here, you PIGS. We HATE HATE HATE you. I am speaking on behalf of 640 kids who all HATE you. So go and pick some pigsty in the slums of smelly England and have your MISERABLE holiday there. Your stupid road manager was upset about no-one greeting you, because we HATE you. Your road manager needs a POKE. If you dare to set foot in Suva, me and my friends will tell some of the MEN of Fiji (Suva), to come and SPIT on you, and go to the TOILET on you. Thats all your worth. So do what I said, and GET OUT, we HATE you.
Letters of Note

Snake Venom Wine

Snake wine is an alcoholic beverage produced by infusing whole snakes in rice wine or grain alcohol. The drink was first recorded to have been consumed in China during the Western Zhou dynasty and was considered an important curative, and was believed to reinvigorate a person according to traditional Chinese medicine. It can be found in China, Vietnam and throughout Southeast Asia.

The snakes, preferably venomous ones, are not usually preserved for their meat but to have their "essence" and snake venom dissolved in the liquor. However, the snake venom is denatured by the ethanol; its proteins are unfolded and therefore inactive. The Huaxi Street night market of Taipei is renowned for its snake foods and wine products.
Wiki via Dangerous Minds

By The Batch | Muffin Pan Mini-Omelets

Coleen's Recipes shares how to make 12 mini-omelets in your muffin/cupcake pans. Make a batch and store them in the freezer for a quick, micro-waveable breakfast. The following recipe is an adaptation.

1 pound of breakfast meat (ham, bacon, sausage, etc.), cooked, drained, chopped
1 cup vegetables (green or red bell pepper, onions, etc.), sauteed, chopped
8 large eggs
1/4 cup milk (or cream, half and half, etc.)
1/2 teaspoon vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup grated cheese
salt, pepper, favorite herbs to taste

- Preheat oven  to 375F
- Spray muffin pan wells with cooking spray
- Whisk together eggs, milk, oil, baking powder, salt, pepper, and herbs
- Divide chopped meat and vegetables into the sprayed wells
- Fill each well with egg mixture
- Add some shredded cheese
- Bake for around 20 minutes or until toothpick inserted into the center of an omelet comes out clean
- Let cool a bit, then flip omelets out of the pan

Via Lifehacker

28 September 2012

Twttr | Booty

Dave Engledow | World's Best Father

Dave Engledow is creating an unconventional scrapbook for his daughter, Alice Bee. When the little girl -- now a toddler -- grows up she'll have a complete photographic record of herself in highly precarious situations. But most likely, the images will bring up memories that are sweet, not scary -- because Alice stars in “World’s Best Father," a tongue-in-cheek photo series meant to poke fun at the type of father Engledow does want to be.
More at Laughing Squid and a link to a slide show of Engledow's work.

26 September 2012


Britain's National Pig Association, "the voice of the British pig industry," warned recently that a global shortage of bacon and pork "is now unavoidable" because of shrinking herds. 

The trade group reported Thursday that annual pig production for Europe's main pig producers fell across the board between 2011 and 2012, a trend that "is being mirrored around the world." The group tied the decline to increased feed costs, an effect of poor harvests for corn and soybeans.

Even though the pig association issued its dire prediction as part of a campaign to get British supermarkets to pay pig farmers more for their products, the possibility of a pork shortage received plenty of coverage in American news outlets.

But the projected decline isn't news to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. In its monthly outlook report(PDF)from August, the department linked a reduction next year in the United States to this year's drought in the Midwest. The government expects corn and soybean meal prices to go up and hog producers to cut production in an attempt to control losses in their operating costs. Considering those factors, the USDA forecasted next year's pork production at 23 billion pounds, a decrease of about 1.3 percent from this year's estimated total. That breaks down to Americans consuming slightly more than 45 pounds of pork per capita in 2013, a reduction of more than 1 percent from this year's estimates.

CBS News

24 September 2012

Mrs. Jesus

AP Photo | Harvard University | Karen L. King
This is a fourth century fragment of papyrus that Harvard University professor Karen L. King says is the only existing ancient text that quotes Jesus explicitly referring to having a wife. King says the fragment of Coptic script is a copy of a gospel, probably written in Greek in the second century.
Christian Science Monitor

I can't remember; did Jesus have a last name? "Nazareth"? "Cohen"?

21 September 2012

Implicit Bias And Sexism Is Alive And Well In Academia

Study after study finds that many women feel unwelcome in laboratories and science departments, even after considerable progress in encouraging women to study science and technology fields. As these studies come out, there are almost always skeptics who say that whatever gender imbalance exists could well reflect different choices made, on average, by men and women, or who say that individual men are rising on their merits, not sexism.

But a new study in
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences offers evidence of bias among scientists -- male and female scientists alike -- against female students. The study was based on evaluations by scientists of hypothetical student applications for a lab manager position, with the application materials identical in every way, except that half of the pool received applications with a male name and the other half received applications with a female name. The faculty members surveyed -- 127 professors in biology, chemistry or physics -- were told that their analyses of the applications would be used to help the students. And they were asked to evaluate the students' competence and "hireability" and to consider how large a salary they would recommend and how much mentoring they would offer the student if hired.

The scientists evaluating these applications (which were identical in every way except the gender of the "submitter") rated the male student more competent, more likely to be hired, deserving of a better salary, and worth spending more time mentoring. The gaps were significant. Female scientists were as likely as male scientists to evaluate the students this way. For instance, the scientists were asked to rate the students' competence on a 5-point scale. Male faculty rated the male student 4.01 and the female student 3.33.

Female scientists rated the male student 4.10 and the female student 3.32. On salary, the gaps were also notable. The average salary suggested by male scientists for the male student was $30,520; for the female student, it was $27,111. Female scientists recommended, on average, a salary of $29,333 for the male student and $25,000 for the female student.

Read more at Inside Higher Ed. Find an article on implicit bias here.

Via Gawker

20 September 2012

Some Assembly Required


Pastor Schober was suddenly not so sure
he should have bought the new crucifix
at IKEA.

Thanks, Kait.

19 September 2012

A Vote Against A Library Is Like A Vote To Burn Books

The Leo Burnett/Arc Worldwide agency has won a gold prize in the Effie awards for their hoax "Book Burning Party" campaign, which is credited with saving the public library in Troy, MI. Michigan's extreme austerity measures and collapsing economy had put the library under threat, and the town proposed a 0.7% tax raise to keep it open. The local Tea Party spent a large sum of money opposing the measure on the grounds that all taxes are bad, so the Burnett campaign reframed the issue by creating a hoax campaign to celebrate the library's closure with a Book Burning Party a few days after the vote.
The outrage generated by this campaign was sufficient to win the day for the library, as Troy's residents made the connection between closing libraries and burning books, focusing their minds on literacy and shared community, rather than taxation.

Thanks, Phyl

CR Recommends Limiting Rice Consumption Due To 'Concerning' Levels Of Arsenic

...Consumer Reports decided to test rice and rice products (everything from Rice Krispies to rice milk) for arsenic. Why rice? Prior research has shown that rice generally contains more arsenic than other grains, probably because rice is grown in water-flooded conditions and absorbs arsenic from the soil and water. And arsenic is present on a lot of soil. Residues from decades of lead-arsenate insecticide use linger, even though their use was banned in the 1980s. Arsenic-containing drugs are also permitted for use on food animals to prevent disease and promote growth. As a result, fertilizer made from poultry waste can contain arsenic. 

The news about rice products is not good. Consumer Reports indicated today that it found arsenic in virtually all of the more than 60 different rice products it tested, and recommends that people limit rice and rice product consumption in various ways. Consumer Reports suggests that infants be given a serving of rice cereal no more than once a day, and that children under five not consume rice milk (rice drinks) on a regular basis. Kids should eat no more than one and a half cups of ready-to-eat rice cereal, like Rice Checks or Rice Krispies in a week. Adults should limit themselves to two standard servings of rice per week. And once you have your quota of one product, that's it for all rice products for the week. Are some rice products better than others? Maybe. Consumer Reports test represent a snapshot of the market from which they cannot draw any conclusions about any particular brands, but they did observe some trends. White rice grown in Arkansas, Louisiana, Missouri, and Texas generally had higher levels of total and inorganic arsenic (the most worrisome kind) than rice samples from elsewhere (India, Thailand and California as a group). 

In addition, within any given brand, brown rice had more arsenic than white, although some individual brown rice samples were lower in arsenic compared to some white rice samples, possibly due to agricultural practices or where they were grown. Regardless of rice type and origin, Consumer Reports suggests adults adhere to the two-servings-a-week consumption limit. You can find suggested limits for consumption of all the rice products tested at consumerreports.org.

Consumer Reports suggests rinsing rice before cooking, use lots of water for rinsing and cooking, and discard all cooking water. CR also found elevated levels of arsenic in apple and grape juice. Going now to check to see where my supply of brown rice was grown.

Huffington Post

18 September 2012

Tattoo | Tesla v. Kraken

Click image to enlarge

Amazing tattoo by Perry Stratton.

Fuck Yeah, Tattoos | Deep Sea News | io9

Thinking While Masturbating

Click image to enlarge
A study of decision-making while masturbating might sound like troll bait for people who think the government spends too much money on science. Yet when prurience and preconception are set aside, as they were by the authors of this Journal of Behavioral Decision Making study, the essential question is intriguing: Just how does sexual arousal change the way people think -- and not just in some fuzzy, everyone-knows-that sort of way, but in quantifiable detail? 

To find out, psychologists devised an ingenious experimental setup by which young men could simultaneously answer questions and measure arousal while otherwise engaged. ("The keypad and the program that administered the questions were designed to be operated easily using only the non-dominant hand," explained the researchers.) The results were striking. 

In the heat of the moment, 65 percent of study participants considered women's shoes erotic, compared to 42 percent when unaroused. Some 14 percent could imagine having sex with another man, up from 8 percent; likewise, the number who considered the smell of cigarette smoke arousing rose from 13 percent to 22 percent, and 16 percent "could imagine getting sexually excited by contact with an animal," up from 6 percent. 

"Can you count on their decision-making getting very different than under other circumstances? Yes, you can," said Abrahams.

Read about nine other examples of uncommon research topics at Wired Science: Chocolate-Bunny Boxes, Yawning Tortoises and Masturbation Distractions: 10 WTF Research Highlights

17 September 2012

Just Add "Neuro-"

Where's the bacon section?

Steven Poole in The New Statesmen:
An intellectual pestilence is upon us. Shop shelves groan with books purporting to explain, through snazzy brain-imaging studies, not only how thoughts and emotions function, but how politics and religion work, and what the correct answers are to age-old philosophical controversies. The dazzling real achievements of brain research are routinely pressed into service for questions they were never designed to answer. This is the plague of neuroscientism – aka neurobabble, neurobollocks, or neurotrash – and it’s everywhere.
In my book-strewn lodgings, one literally trips over volumes promising that “the deepest mysteries of what makes us who we are are gradually being unravelled” by neuroscience and cognitive psychology ... In general, the “neural” explanation has become a gold standard of non-fiction exegesis, adding its own brand of computer-assisted lab-coat bling to a whole new industry of intellectual quackery that affects to elucidate even complex sociocultural phenomena.
... Happily, a new branch of the neuroscienceexplains everything genre may be created at any time by the simple expedient of adding the prefix “neuro” to whatever you are talking about. Thus, “neuroeconomics” is the latest in a long line of rhetorical attempts to sell the dismal science as a hard one; “molecular gastronomy” has now been trumped in the scientised gluttony stakes by “neurogastronomy”; students of Republican and Democratic brains are doing “neuropolitics”; literature academics practise “neurocriticism”. There is “neurotheology”, “neuromagic” ... and even “neuromarketing”. Hoping it’s not too late to jump on the bandwagon, I have decided to announce that I, too, am skilled in the newly minted fields of neuroprocrastination and neuroflâneurship.
Illumination is promised on a personal as well as a political level by the junk enlightenment of the popular brain industry. How can I become more creative? How can I make better decisions? How can I be happier? Or thinner? Never fear: brain research has the answers. It is self-help armoured in hard science. Life advice is the hook for nearly all such books ... Quite consistently, their recommendations boil down to a kind of neo-Stoicism, drizzled with brain-juice. In a self-congratulatory egalitarian age, you can no longer tell people to improve themselves morally. So self-improvement is couched in instrumental, scientifically approved terms.
More here.

Via 3 Quarks Daily

I See The Atheists Are Fighting Again

Monkey Monday | Caterpillar Entertains Gorillas

Best Of Criggo

15 September 2012

Is Reality Really Real?

Conceptual drawing of the holometer | Symmetry
Researchers at Fermilab are building a “holometer” so they can disprove everything you thought you knew about the universe. More specifically, they are trying to either prove or disprove the somewhat mind-bending notion that the third dimension doesn’t exist at all, and that the 3-D universe we think we live in is nothing more than a hologram. To do so, they are building the most precise clock ever created.
The universe-as-hologram theory is predicated on the idea that spacetime is not perfectly smooth, but becomes discrete and pixelated as you zoom in further and further, like a low-res digital image. This idea isn’t novel; recent experiments in black-hole physics have offered evidence that this may be the case, and prominent physicists have proposed similar ideas. Under this theory, the universe actually exists in two dimensions and the third is an illusion produced by the intertwining of time and depth. But the false third dimension can’t be perceived as such, because nothing travels faster than light, so instruments can’t find its limits.
This is theoretical physics at its finest, drowning in complex mathematics but short on hard data. So Fermilab particle astrophysicist Craig Hogan and his team are building a “holometer” to magnify spacetime and see if it is indeed as noisy as the math suggests it might be at higher resolution. In Fermilab’s largest laser lab, Hogan and company are putting together what they call a “holographic interferometer,” which – like a classic interferometer – will split laser beams and measure the difference in frequencies between the two identical beams.
But unlike conventional interferometers, the holometer will measure for noise or interference in spacetime itself. It’s actually composed of two interferometers – built one atop the other – that produce data on the amount of interference or “holographic noise.” Since they are measuring the same volume of spacetime, they should show the same amount of correlated jitter in the fabric of the universe. It will produce the first direct experimental insight into the fundamental nature of space and time, and there’s no telling what researchers delving into that data might find out about the holographic nature of the universe.
PopSci via Dangerous Minds | Ashtar Command

The Subversive Message Of "Gangnam Style"


Max Fisher in The Atlantic:
Park Jaesang is an unlikely poster boy for South Korea's youth-obsessed, highly lucrative and famously vacuous pop music. Park, who performs as Psy (short for psycho), is a relatively ancient 34, has been busted for marijuana and for avoiding the country's mandatory military service, and is not particularly good-looking. His first album got him fined for "inappropriate content" and the second was banned. He's mainstream in the way that South Korea's monolithically corporate media demands of its stars, who typically appear regularly on TV variety and even game shows, but as a harlequin, a performer known for his parodies, outrageous costumes, and jokey concerts. Still, there's a long history of fools and court jesters as society's most cutting social critics, and he might be one of them.
Now, Park has succeeded where the K-Pop entertainment-industrial-complex and its superstars have failed so many times before: he's made it in America ... "Gangnam Style" [above], has earned 49 million hits on YouTube since its mid-July release, but the viral spread was just the start. Of course, no one here in the U.S. has any idea what Psy is rapping about.
I certainly didn't, beyond the basics: Gangnam is a tony Seoul neighborhood, and Park's ... video lampoons its self-importance and ostentatious wealth, with Psy playing a clownish caricature of a Gangnam man ... it turns out that the video is rich with subtle references that, along with the song itself, suggest a subtext with a surprisingly subversive message about class and wealth in contemporary South Korean society.
Read the rest of Fisher's article here.

11 September 2012

Photography | Hidden Mother

This was a practice where the mother, often disguised or hiding, often under a spread, holds her baby tightly for the photographer to insure a sharply focused image.
Anarchist Coloring Book | Retronaut | The Hidden Mother Flickr Group

10 September 2012

To The People That Kept Us Up All Night

Click image to enlarge
Oli Beale, 33, posted a handwritten review of his neighbours' late night singing session to the communal notice board at their block of flats in Hackney, East London. Speaking about the note after it became a viral hit, he said: "I was lying in bed getting more and more wound up about it and then I just thought I would write a little critique of their songs as a way of getting through the night."
Digital Spy via Brooklyn Mutt

05 September 2012

Amanita Designs | Samorost

Samorost 1 is short point-and-click adventure game. The goal is to help the little space gnome save his home asteroid from collision with another asteroid by solving diverse puzzles.

04 September 2012

Desmond Tutu | Bush And Blair Should Be Held Accountable For Iraq War

Desmond Tutu pulled out of a seminar
which Tony Blair was scheduled to attend.
The immorality of the United States and Great Britain's decision to invade Iraq in 2003, premised on the lie that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction, has destabilised and polarised the world to a greater extent than any other conflict in history.

Instead of recognising that the world we lived in, with increasingly sophisticated communications, transportations and weapons systems necessitated sophisticated leadership that would bring the global family together, the then-leaders of the US and UK fabricated the grounds to behave like playground bullies and drive us further apart. They have driven us to the edge of a precipice where we now stand – with the spectre of Syria and Iran before us. 

If leaders may lie, then who should tell the truth? Days before George W Bush and Tony Blair ordered the invasion of Iraq, I called the White House and spoke to Condoleezza Rice, who was then national security adviser, to urge that United Nations weapons inspectors be given more time to confirm or deny the existence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Should they be able to confirm finding such weapons, I argued, dismantling the threat would have the support of virtually the entire world. Ms Rice demurred, saying there was too much risk and the president would not postpone any longer. 

On what grounds do we decide that Robert Mugabe should go the International Criminal Court, Tony Blair should join the international speakers' circuit, bin Laden should be assassinated, but Iraq should be invaded, not because it possesses weapons of mass destruction, as Mr Bush's chief supporter, Mr Blair, confessed last week, but in order to get rid of Saddam Hussein?

The cost of the decision to rid Iraq of its by-all-accounts despotic and murderous leader has been staggering, beginning in Iraq itself. Last year, an average of 6.5 people died there each day in suicide attacks and vehicle bombs, according to the Iraqi Body Count project. More than 110,000 Iraqis have died in the conflict since 2003 and millions have been displaced. By the end of last year, nearly 4,500 American soldiers had been killed and more than 32,000 wounded. 

On these grounds alone, in a consistent world, those responsible for this suffering and loss of life should be treading the same path as some of their African and Asian peers who have been made to answer for their actions in the Hague. 

But even greater costs have been exacted beyond the killing fields, in the hardened hearts and minds of members of the human family across the world. Has the potential for terrorist attacks decreased? To what extent have we succeeded in bringing the so-called Muslim and Judeo-Christian worlds closer together, in sowing the seeds of understanding and hope?

Leadership and morality are indivisible. Good leaders are the custodians of morality. The question is not whether Saddam Hussein was good or bad or how many of his people he massacred. The point is that Mr Bush and Mr Blair should not have allowed themselves to stoop to his immoral level. If it is acceptable for leaders to take drastic action on the basis of a lie, without an acknowledgement or an apology when they are found out, what should we teach our children?

My appeal to Mr Blair is not to talk about leadership, but to demonstrate it. You are a member of our family, God's family. You are made for goodness, for honesty, for morality, for love; so are our brothers and sisters in Iraq, in the US, in Syria, in Israel and Iran.

I did not deem it appropriate to have this discussion at the Discovery Invest Leadership Summit in Johannesburg last week. As the date drew nearer, I felt an increasingly profound sense of discomfort about attending a summit on "leadership" with Mr Blair. I extend my humblest and sincerest apologies to Discovery, the summit organisers, the speakers and delegates for the lateness of my decision not to attend.

The Guardian | The Observer via Gawker

03 September 2012

Engineering Dreams With Audio Cues

Researchers working at MIT have successfully manipulated the content of a rat's dream by replaying an audio cue that was associated with the previous day's events, namely running through a maze (what else). The breakthrough furthers our understanding of how memory gets consolidated during sleep — but it also holds potential for the prospect of "dream engineering."

Working at MIT's Picower Institute for Learning and Memory, neuroscientist Matt Wilson was able to accomplish this feat by exploiting the way the brain's hippocampus encodes self-experienced events into memory. Scientists know that our hippocampus is busy at work replaying a number of the day's events while we sleep — a process that's crucial for memory consolidation. But what they did not know was whether or not these "replays" could be influenced by environmental cues.

To see if this could be done, Wilson and his team trained a group of rats to run through a maze using two distinct audio cues. The rats quickly learned that the tones were helpful; one sound indicated that food could be found by going left, while the other sound indicated that a food reward awaited them on the right. And while the rats were doing this, the neuroscientists were recording their neural activity.

Later, while the rats were sleeping, the researchers once again recorded the neural activity of their brains. Using correlative analysis, Wilson confirmed that the rats were dreaming of their maze navigating exploits from the day before. But when the researchers played the audio cues from the experiment, they noticed a very interesting thing: the rats would dream about the section of the maze previously associated with the audio cue. The experiment demonstrated that the content of a rat's dream can be biased by re-activating certain memories while they're asleep.
Nature Neuroscience abstract: Biasing the content of hippocampal replay during sleep

Via io9

Monkey Monday | Genius Chimp

Natasha outperformed other chimps on tests given by researchers to measure intelligence.
Esther Herrmann | Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology
Certain apes appear to be much smarter than others, with at least one chimpanzee now called "exceptional" when compared to other chimps. The standout chimp, an adult female in her 20s named Natasha, scored off the charts in a battery of tests. The findings, published in the latest Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B, suggest that geniuses exist among non-humans, but that no one attribute constitutes intelligence. Instead, a perfect storm of abilities seems to come together to create the Einsteins of the animal kingdom.

Natasha's keepers at the Ngamba Island chimpanzee sanctuary in Uganda knew she was special even before the latest study. "The caretakers named Natasha as the smartest chimpanzee, precisely the same chimpanzee that our tests had revealed to be exceptional," study authors Esther Herrmann and Josep Call of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology wrote. "All three of the most experienced caretakers included Natasha in their lists (of the most intelligent chimps)," they added.

Natasha has made headlines over the months for her attention-grabbing antics. For instance, she repeatedly escaped her former enclosure, surrounded by an electric fence. She did this by tossing branches at the fence until she didn't see a spark, letting her know that the power was off. She also learned how to tease humans, beckoning them to throw food her way, only to spray the unsuspecting person with water. Herrmann and Call decided to study this chimp, along with numerous others, to see if there really are chimp prodigies among non-human great apes.
Read more about Natasha and the study's methodology at Discovery News.

Via Primates in the News

02 September 2012

Mmmmmm ... Coffee And Bacon

A pumpkin pie-spiced, bacon-flavored coffee called "How to Win a Guy With One Sip" will be recreated and sold at participating Seattle's Best Coffee locations across North America. Bacon and coffee -- two of my favorite things -- might be better using a caramel flavor instead of pumpkin pie spice, I think.

Link via Neatorama

01 September 2012