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Captain Caveman’s Web Search Pro September 30, 2010

Posted by stuffilikenet in Awesome, Publishing Tools, Toys.
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I’m a Firefox user because I surf the web a little too much.  Firefox has nifty little extensions to make surfing vastly more complex and time-consuming…wait, that didn’t come out right (true, but not right).  One of these is a feature that I am just beginning to appreciate, Captain Caveman’s Web Search Pro.  It allows you to highlight a word or phrase in Firefox and right-click on it to search in a bunch of different websites and search engines.  I use it to find destinations on Google Maps, toys on Amazon.com, books in the San Francisco Public Library, TV shows on Hulu, movies on NetFlix (or the Internet Movie Database) and illegal downloads on Filestube (kidding.  I could, though).  If the list of several thousand search engines he has doesn’t cover your site of interest, check back in a few weeks—more are being added constantly.

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Research Areas in Mad Science, 1810-Present September 30, 2010

Posted by stuffilikenet in Awesome, Brilliant words.
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I really enjoy a thorough and systematic perusal of research papers to discern the real conclusions of reproducible science.  The repeated studies tend to mitigate the errors inherent in badly–designed or biased studies.

Naturally, when I came across Annalee Newitz’ (with additional research by Kelly Faircloth and Mary Ratliff) fine summary of mad science projects and studies in the august journal io9, well, I just got all excited.  In this survey 200 sources of literature (including movies, which I realize narrow-minded folk do not consider literature) were analyzed and areas of specialization were tabulated.  What did the researchers discover?  First, a year-over-year increase in the number of mad scientists, which seems reasonable given the sheer, raw power of my genius!!!

Ahem.  Sorry about that.  The researchers have drawn several well-supported conclusions from their data:

  • ”Of all the sciences, biology seems to enjoy the most adherence from the maniacal – followed closely by its sister discipline, biotechnology.”
  • “Nuclear research gets crazy after the 1950s, as does physics.”
  • “Mechanical engineering, with its focus on huge industrial machines or tiny nanobots, is a perfect research topic for the maniacal – especially if they are planning to build a robot army.”
  • “…chemistry is one of the longest-standing fascinations for mad scientists…though there is never a big spike in chemistry’s allure for the insane, it’s always bubbling there in the background. Mad chemistry never goes out of style.”

Follow the summary link to the summary, the appendices (!) and an extensive bibliography.

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“Asagohan” Means “Breakfast” September 27, 2010

Posted by stuffilikenet in Awesome, Hello Kitty, Japan, Video.
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A family discusses breakfast options in the ebullient style for which Japan is justly famed–right up until lunchtime.

I Can Do Better Than This September 27, 2010

Posted by stuffilikenet in Brilliant words.
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This is a picture “This picture has been optimized by SEO experts to appeal to our key target demographics.”  From this article about shoddy science reporting in mainstream media in the Guardian:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/the-lay-scientist/2010/sep/24/1′

Cheerful commentary in the same style from Fark.com:

http://www.fark.com/cgi/comments.pl?IDLink=5651272&cpp=1

I didn’t think they could read.

Murder Can Be Fun September 25, 2010

Posted by stuffilikenet in Awesome, Books, Brilliant words, Uncategorizable.
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No, seriously.  For more than 20 years, the print zine MURDER CAN BE FUN has dedicated itself to the unpleasant, unhealthy, yet oddly gratifying task of reveling in the more sordid and violent side of life: dead people in Disneyland, Santa Cruz Serial Killers, Molasses Flood and Soccer Riots.  John Marr has spent entirely too much time collecting and disseminating these grotesqueries and probably doesn’t have any copies left, but he has a blog.

Thank goddess.

Copies of MCBF are available in the special collections at sfpl.org.  I just thought I would let you all know.

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Saharan Dust Storm September 25, 2010

Posted by stuffilikenet in Awesome, Video.
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http://channel.nationalgeographic.com/channel/videos/satellite/satelliteEmbedPlayer.swf

Holy honk.

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New Nudibranch Noticed September 23, 2010

Posted by stuffilikenet in Awesome, Science.
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Flabellina goddardi (the long stringy stuff is an egg case) was discovered in 2008 by Jeff Goddard of the Marine Science Institute at U.C. Santa Barbara in a tidepool at Carpinteria.  It’s only been announced recently because it’s kinda hard to tell the difference between the nudibranchs and requires much confirmation…and the fact that nobody else has found any.

Lucky for him to find it in his own backyard.

Another Silly Watch September 22, 2010

Posted by stuffilikenet in Toys.
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See?  I can keep up with Boingboing.  Look for it here:

http://www.meritline.com/fashion-mens-watch-black—p-52580.aspx?source=nl100922&hq_e=el&hq_m=2049572&hq_l=95&hq_v=7e5579c34a

She’s No Longer Ten And Has Better Toys Now September 19, 2010

Posted by stuffilikenet in Brilliant words.
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My beloved stepdaughter has a bit of a gift for, um, entertaining.  Here is her answering machine message from four years ago, when she had watched Arnold Schwarzenegger as a kind of fairy god-parent enforcer in a kid’s cartoon show.  Her more recent works I have already posted, plus or minus other minor film works.  She’s currently enrolled in the San Francisco School of the Arts in the Media program.

 

The Message

 

I just love her introduction.

 

Bitter update:

  As I had posted yesterday, you would have seen a little sound player widget…but apparently WordPress.com found it and disabled it.  It was working, I swear.  Now you have to get it from here.

The Awful Truth

is that WordPress.com promises that you can embed audio and it’s a lie (damn. I miss the blink tag some days).  You cannot upload .mp3 or .wav files using either of their uploaders, you can’t use the nice plug-in app I was using and they claim it  is due to security issues…but they will allow you to upgrade for a fee and the security issues magically vanish!

Isn’t that amazing?

Of course, I could get around it by recording a movie with The Message as a soundtrack, load it to my youtube account and then embed it from there…maybe I will.  Blows Against the Empire, Rage Against the Machine, sticking my tongue out at playground bullies…wait a minute.

It’s bit more like looking a gift horse in the mouth.

Additional update:  I wrote to them and asked about this and got this nice link in response:

http://en.support.wordpress.com/audio/

Which lets me do this:

Toxoplasma gondii and Traffic Accidents September 19, 2010

Posted by stuffilikenet in Brain, Science.
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From Wikipedia: T. gondii infections have the ability to change the behavior of rats and mice, making them drawn to, rather than fearful of, the scent of cats. This effect is advantageous to the parasite, which will be able to sexually reproduce if its host is eaten by a cat. The infection is highly precise, as it does not affect a rat’s other fears such as the fear of open spaces or of unfamiliar smelling food.

Studies have also shown behavioral changes in humans, including slower reaction times and a six-fold increased risk of traffic accidents among infected males as well as links to schizophrenia including hallucinations and reckless behavior.

It turns out this knowledge is dependent on a study[1]  of male draftees at the Central Military Hospital in Prague.  If the Czech military is anything like the US military, there isn’t a lot of wiggle room in the data (like the US military, there is probably a LOT of wiggle room in the conclusions). It seems as if RH positive blood defends against the disease: “Our results show that RhD-negative subjects with high titers of anti-Toxoplasma antibodies had a probability of a traffic accident of about 16.7%, i.e. a more than six times higher rate than Toxoplasma-free or RhD-positive subjects.”  T. gondii apparently clusters in human brains similar to the way it clusters in rats and mice.  No mention is made of the infected liking the company of cats…maybe T. gondii is counting on cats eating our mangled corpses after horrible accidents.

The data are sound; it seems as if a T. gondii infection can cause really slow reactions and consequent danger in driving situations…6X is no joke, and not a coincidence.  I wonder how long it will take before insurance companies require an antibody test (or Rh negative blood) to get collision insurance?

The reckless behaviour and hallucinations do sound like fun, however.

 

[1] BMC Infectious Diseases 2009, 9:72doi:10.1186/1471-2334-9-72

Science Recruiting Video September 19, 2010

Posted by stuffilikenet in Brilliant words, Video.
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From the List That Cannot Be Named.

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I Do Like Seeing Trekkies Getting Killed September 17, 2010

Posted by stuffilikenet in Brilliant words, Video.
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and I’m sure I’m not alone.  This is, alas, a book trailer and not a movie trailer, so you’ll have to read it instead of watch it.  Shouldn’t be any problem for my readers, however.  After all, you read through much worse stuff just getting here.  I am told the book is pretty good, and much funnier than the trailer. 

I don’t see how it could be.

Octopus Cake! September 15, 2010

Posted by stuffilikenet in Awesome, Octopus.
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How often do two of my varied interest intersect like this? Almost never, that’s how often.  Highland Bakery has whomped up a beautiful representation of my favorite cephalopod type in my favorite artistic medium (er, after body paint), cake!  Behold!

Octopus Cake

Just beautiful.  Brilliantly done.

Highland Cakes does many, many lovely specialty cakes.  Here is a flickr set with delicious photos.

Automated 3D Printing September 14, 2010

Posted by stuffilikenet in 3D Printing, Awesome, Publishing Tools, Toys.
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MakerBot has designed, built and offered for sale a heated build platform for their MakerBot (which means it should work on other 3D platforms like Mendel, Darwin, et. al.) which removes finished product from the build area, making it possible for a 3D printer to run complete many items unattended.  This ought to spread the availability of RepRap much more quickly than expected.  In twenty years or less every home handyman will have one, or its descendant.

Cheesey Binary Watch September 13, 2010

Posted by stuffilikenet in Toys.
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binary watch1

Boingboing.net is always showing off strange Japanese watches, so I thought I would.  Among the spam I routinely get is a mailer from Meritline with cheap gizmos like cigarette-lighter USB chargers.  Today one came with this bizarre LED watch, among other treasures.  It’s 7.99 with free shipping.

I know you all will rush out to get it, so I will save you from having to Google this information:

http://www.meritline.com/fashion-alloy-watch-black—p-52588.aspx?source=nl100913&hq_e=el&hq_m=2042881&hq_l=83&hq_v=7e5579c34a

You can thank me later.

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Bicycle Obelisk in Santa Rosa, CA September 8, 2010

Posted by stuffilikenet in Uncategorizable.
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Bicycles-Obelisk_1

Make a pilgrimage to this 340-bike (and one trike) shrine…in front of an auto parts store in Santa Rosa.

bike obelisk location

There are some ironies like this that have special meaning to me.  Like Dorothy Parker, I try to be cynical, but it’s so hard to keep up.

My Cat Jumped Out of a Second-floor Window September 7, 2010

Posted by stuffilikenet in Awesome, Video.
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but we’re not sure where she landed.

Not in Richmond District, I am September 2, 2010

Posted by stuffilikenet in Uncategorizable.
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This nifty bronze statue is a fountain in front of LucasFilms digs in the Presidio:

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Look right in the center.

Not a Two-headed Turtle But, Oh Well September 2, 2010

Posted by stuffilikenet in Mutants.
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It really doesn’t exactly match my other strange critters, but it’s still pretty strange.  And I do like it, which is the real test for inclusion in this august journal.