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Words Failed Me, But Not Them July 28, 2011

Posted by stuffilikenet in Brilliant words, Video.
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This was on BoingBoing yesterday..with the obvious question:

“Can you see the deep truths being revealed here?”

Watch the video, then read the comments.  Some of the more interesting responses:


That reality is what transcends time by being independent of conscious memory?  No, wait, that was Proust.  No, I give up.

Is one of the truths that Lady Gaga simply isn’t trying hard enough?

While it’s tempting, and comfortable, to assume that this was spontaneously generated, I find myself wondering about the process(es) involved in creating this video. As surreal as the video is, the conversations involved in generating it must have been truly astonishing. "OK, I like where this is going…but what if we add a checkered pattern to the butt streamers?"

It’s a cry for help: a desperate attempt to draw attention to the lamentable absence of audiovisual stimulus in Japanese culture.

The truth I learned is someone rufied my drink before I visited boingboing today.  It certainly juxtaposes the serenity of a haiku or koan in Japanese culture … like a MACK truck versus a puppy.

If I took enough acid to understand the deeper truths in this video, there’d be precious little left for the Phish heads on their next tour.

Drugs of Choice by Occupation July 28, 2011

Posted by stuffilikenet in Brilliant words.
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Drug of choice by occupation

Add more occupations in comments.

Nina Gordon Does Rap Right July 27, 2011

Posted by stuffilikenet in Awesome, Video.
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This is the single rap song I find amusing.  Contains salty language, just like rap does, which is why I hate it so much (among other aesthetic reasons).

A More Portable Keyboard July 27, 2011

Posted by stuffilikenet in Toys, Video.
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A (long) while back I posted about the big piano in FAO Schwarz (closed), but this is almost as good, and certainly more portable.  From www.KinectShare.com (which is blocked for me at work, thankyouverymuch)

Game Changer, Part II July 22, 2011

Posted by stuffilikenet in Awesome, Brain, Brilliant words, Science.
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Research published in Nature Materials describes a synthetic synapse that more or less accurately mimics a human synapse, at least to a first approximation.  This (silver sulfide, nanoscale) synapse responds to electrical signals repeated at different rates by changing its conduction state briefly (so-called “short-term plasticity”).  At higher rates, the higher conduction state is permanent—just like a human synapse (“long-term potentiation”, or as laymen refer to it “remembering stuff”).

Image memorizing into an inorganic synapse array:


This should make the modeling of human memory and possibly cognition processes much easier. “Our Ag2S element indicates a breakthrough in mimicking synaptic behaviour essential for the further creation of artificial neural systems that emulate characteristics of human memory.”

Obviously this is a long way from being ready to be manufactured on chips, but the potential (heh) is there.

Satan: His Psychotherapy and Cure by the Unfortunate Dr. Kassler, J.S.P.S. July 21, 2011

Posted by stuffilikenet in Books, Brilliant words.
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Satan: His Psychotherapy and Cure by the Unfortunate Dr. Kassler, J.S.P.S. is the funniest and most disturbing book I read in the 1990s (except the zine Murder Can Be Fun.  That’s in a special category).  The title is also the plot (which is absurd on the face of it) but one of my born-again friends wouldn’t even open it.  Apparently she was afraid of Satan, or of God (not sure which), as if Satan wasn’t already the prince of this world, or God had no sense of humor.

The story is really about Dr. Kassler, who has about the most wretched life possible, but never gives up.  It’s entertaining and uplifting in a very horrible sort of way, like watching Silence of the Lambs1 and being really, really glad it’s fiction.

1 OK, not that horrible.  But you get my drift, I think.

See My Previous Posts on Octopodes July 21, 2011

Posted by stuffilikenet in Awesome, Octopus.
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From xkcd.com, which you should read each and every day.

I Have Nightmares Like This All The Time July 19, 2011

Posted by stuffilikenet in Awesome, Brilliant words, Uncategorizable.
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The terrifying Bobbit worm, Eunice aphroditois. It only gets 9 feet long and slices its prey in half. Sleep well, little children!

[Stolen completely and wholly from John Rennie, the former editor-in-chief of Scientific American.  His blog, The Gleaming Retort, is found here.]

Great Screaming Mother! July 17, 2011

Posted by stuffilikenet in Video.
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I have to say Mom* keeps it together pretty well, considering.

* Not my Mom.

Edwin, A Nice Voice Command Application July 17, 2011

Posted by stuffilikenet in Awesome, Star Trek Technology, Toys, Video.
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My Samsung Galaxy S Captiva from ATT does not have a voice command.  I can’t just say “Call Fred” to my Android 2.2 phone and have the call started for me…because ATT removed that functionality to the walled garden that is their in-house application, for $4.99 a month.  I think they are the only ones who do that.  So far.

Screw that.

Neureau made a better app, available at the Android market place.  Edwin does excellent voice recognition using the Wolfram Alpha engine to decode your meaning (you have to have a data connection).  Documentation is sparse, so get the app for your phone, because it contains the very useful helpfile.  And watch the video, because it doesn’t just place phone calls.  It can tell you your location, map it, tell you the weather (there, or somewhere else), tell you the time and start applications.  Marvelous

Seriously, this is like having the Star Trek computer interface.  A little.  I do wish Majel Barrett made her voice available for people to hack into a TTS interface.

Another One July 14, 2011

Posted by stuffilikenet in Mutants.
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This two-headed California King snake is on display at a private zoo in the Crimean city of Yalta.

And it’s albino.

Lost Toad Found in Paint Store July 14, 2011

Posted by stuffilikenet in Awesome, Photography.
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Isn’t he beautiful?  The Borneo rainbow toad, alias the Sambas stream toad, alias Ansonia latidisca has been rediscovered after being mislaid in a vat of paisley paint.  Last seen in 1924, the toad was on the “World’s Top Ten Most Wanted Frogs” list for fashion crimes and impersonating a Jackson Pollack.

A River in the Sky July 14, 2011

Posted by stuffilikenet in Books.
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A River in the Sky by Elizabeth Peters is the sort of novel I would read if I had nothing else to do, but I got a copy for free and had to test out my Kindle’s audio somehow, so I gave it a listen.

Not bad; the whole suspense/mystery genre is not something I even like, but I found the reader’s voices and interpretation of characters compelling enough that I finished the whole thing (I must admit I am also slightly compulsive and might have finished it just because I hate leaving things undone).  Barbara Rosenblatt makes the male voices particularly interesting, which is lucky because all the other main characters are male.

The Amelia Peabody character (apparently there are a whole slug of these novels) narrates, the wife of a (fictional) famous British archeologist in Victorian-era Palestine uncovering plots by the dastardly Hun (who else?  Bullshot Crummond, anyone?*). It’s nice to see a treatment that seems to carry some of the flavor of that time and space, but over all, I am not truly thrilled by it.  It is not a fault of the book per se; it’s just not my cup of tea. It isn’t quite enough to appeal to my love of Victoriana. I think this is probably a good read for people who like this sort of thing—just not me.

*And did I use enough parentheses?

Hemraphrodite Butterfly July 13, 2011

Posted by stuffilikenet in Awesome, Mutants.
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This strange beauty (Papilio Memnon) was hatched in the U.K.’s Natural History Museum and is half female and half male, right down to the antenna lengths.

And it’s pretty.

Game Changer July 7, 2011

Posted by stuffilikenet in Awesome, Brain, Science.
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Scientists at IBM Research have demonstrated that phase-change memory (PCM) can reliably store multiple data bits per cell over extended periods of time.  PCM can write and fetch data up to 100 times faster than current flash memory and not lose data when power is turned off. PCM is more durable than flash memory and can manage about 10 million write cycles (vs 30,000 cycles at best).

The upshot of this is that larger, durable (probably eventually cheaper) non-volatile memory is coming in the next five to ten years, and it may be a game changer, although not as anticipated.  Sure, it will make ordinary applications work faster and more robustly, but it will enable new fundamental programming strategies…because it stores up to four bits per cell instead of two.  This storage is something like the functioning of neurons in a brain, and I predict it will lead to better modeling of intelligence in the future.

I, for one, welcome our PCM-based overlords.

From “Drift-tolerant Multilevel Phase-Change Memory” by N. Papandreou, H. Pozidis, T. Mittelholzer, G.F. Close, M. Breitwisch, C. Lam and E. Eleftheriou, presented at the 3rd IEEE International Memory Workshop.

More Valuable Than You Think July 7, 2011

Posted by stuffilikenet in 3D Printing, Uncategorizable.
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Pete Rose Apology Autographed Baseball

What price hubris?  Well, it cost Pete Rose his career (but he avoided jail, so there’s that going for him) and endorsements, which are much the same thing (I haven’t heard about him shilling for casinos, but I’m sure someone will think of that eventually).  Still, if he makes half of what Walmart is asking for this item, he could make about $5400 an hour autographing these (at one a minute).  Maybe that’s why he doesn’t shill for casinos.

That’s probably more lucrative than his baseball earnings.  Especially if he got an Eggbot. Then he would be free of the limitations of carpal-tunnel syndrome.


Just a Walk in the Park July 6, 2011

Posted by stuffilikenet in Awesome.
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The woman on the left is my sainted, white-haired mother, about halfway up the side of Mount Lassen on the recently-plowed road to the pass.  The woman on the right is my wife, trying to get her to slow down and rest. 


This was taken by me, walking slowly behind them carrying two chairs, a large water bottle, lunch and tie-dyeing supplies (don’t ask).  Mom got as high as the pass (circa 8500 feet). Mom is 82 years old, and you guys are all wimps by comparison.

Needs Superman Paintjob July 6, 2011

Posted by stuffilikenet in Awesome, Toys.
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These guys are going to make thousands of people question both reality and their own sanity.  Nice concept, though.

Parking Ticket July 5, 2011

Posted by stuffilikenet in Uncategorizable.
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This fellow had trouble negotiating the same forest service road that my middle-aged housewife driver in an ancient Ford minivan negotiated without difficulty—but she is the daughter of a waterskiing champion/racecar driver and an Oympic swimmer.


And, of course, she was sober.