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

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.

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


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


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

Click play to load and view the video.

With special thanks to LDJ

12 December 2012

The Truth About The Five-Second Rule

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


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


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.
... 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



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


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