Sunday, January 27, 2008

Drinking unsupervised milk causes agnosticism.


Apparently, American racists are using the term "Canadian" to refer to black people, so they can make bigoted remarks without people knowing WTF they are actually talking about, e.g.:
"He overcame a subversively good defence by Matt Hennessey that had some Canadians on the jury feeling sorry for the defendant and forced them to do the right thing," [wrote ADA Mark Trent in an office-wide memo]...

It is unusual that a seasoned attorney like Mr. Trent would not have wondered how a Harris County jury came to be stacked with Canadians. (There were no Canadians on the jury but there were some black members.) "The only way that there could have been Canadians on the jury, was if they were born in Canada and then became U.S. citizens, and then became citizens of the county in which the case was tried," Mr. Vinson noted.
Why Canadians?
Stefan Dollinger, a postdoctoral fellow in linguistics at University of British Columbia and director of the university's Canadian English lab, speculated that the slur reflects a sense of Canadians as the other.

"This ‘code' word, is the replacement of a no-longer tolerated label for one outsider group, with, from the U.S. view, another outsider group: Canadians. It could have been terms for Mexicans, Latinos etc. but this would have been too obvious," he said. "What's left? Right, the guys to the north."
Let's come up with a coded way of talking about racist bigots. How about "Morlocks?" Or does that actually have undesirable connotations of the whole social strata "evolving" into different species thing that H.G. Wells had going on in "The Time Traveller," which smacks unpleasantly of sociobiological determinism and ideas that various ethnicities are truly "different" on some biological level? According to Wikipedia, however, Morlocks "apparently have little or no melanin in their skin," for what that's worth.

In the movie at least, the Eloi were also like white as can be, though. Don't remember if Wells says that in the book.

Friday, January 25, 2008


Oh. I want to go to antarctica so badly. Maybe I can get funding as part of HME. I was thinking today that maybe moving to NZ would make more sense for that than Italy, sadly.

Why is ice so beautiful to me.

Did you know that water is actually blue? For a while people claimed that it was just reflecting the sky. Which when you think about it is silly, because if that were true then the ocean would be white on overcast days. Crater lake and its ridiculous melted-cobalt blue. Thick ice, like this.

Also, these guy's sculptures are cool.
The superstition of poets and obsessive compulsives and other such people who know that things signify other things, whether you want it or not.


Haha, what?

"Surfer dude stuns physicists with theory of everything."

Of course the "surfer dude" is also a physicist himself, with a degree and everything, but "Physicist without a steady university position stuns other physicists with theory of everything" doesn't sound quite as cool. I mean, I probably wouldn't have clicked on it.

This makes me want to surf.

Who am I kidding, it just makes me want to go somewhere where the water is clear blue-green and warm as a bath.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

self-referential nature of language, "left"

Oh, so lately I've been tripping out about the self-referential/recursive nature of words (as you can see in dictionaries for instance) and how "normally" this is either not the case or is disguised by the constant context we use language is, with incessant tying back to "tangible referents." Thinking about all the possible implications of that, language's relationship to "the world," to itself, etc., to put it crudely.

My rather disappointing pocket dictionary (no etymology :( Anyone know of a pocket electronic dictionary thing which is good, has etymology, etc.? Etymology is vital) defines the word "left" as follows:

"of, relating to, or being on the side of the body in which the heart is mostly located."

Way fucked, eh? Not the way you'd normally learn or explain "left" and "right." You would do it with pointing, orientation to objects or surroundings, etc., in order to grok left vs. right. But you can't do that in a dictionary; you have to use just words. What do you do?

So they go to a universal asymmetry. (I don't think it's even true, by the way, I'm pretty sure the heart is central. It's just that we can feel our heartbeat more strongly on the left side, due to the way the valves and such are oriented. Because our heart is not symmetrical. We have a 3-chambered heart, right? And birds have 4? Is a bird heart symmetrical?)

I suppose "left" and "right" is only relevant or useful or even possible to comprehend if you are bilaterally symmetrical. How the hell would that be applicable to a creature that was radially symmetrical? They'd have different things, maybe, like central versus peripheral :P I will have to think of this in terms of SDN. So far the aliens are humanoid and bilaterally symmetrical but maybe I will shake things up.

Oh, I forget if I mentioned this, but I figured out what B does for a living, and also what his boyfriend does for a living. And in the airport a few weeks ago I figured out roughly how the sexes of the 2 main alien species work (one has 5-6 sexes, the other is a bit more complicated, or at least I've figured it out less, but they sort of swap genes like bacteria) I'll have to confirm that it actually sounds plausible.

Speaking of symmetricality again, my dad attended an autopsy (or maybe this was a live patient, I'm not sure) where the guy's organs were reversed. Like, he had everything he needed, but it was flipped. His heart would have been felt more strongly on the right side, his liver and intestines were the reverse right/left orientation as someone else's would be, etc. Evidently it would be pretty unusual for that to happen, to have a totally "normal" healthy person whose entire insides were just backwards. Cool.

I wonder if he was left or right handed :D

Some rather popular things that I dislike

This list may be updated.

--Lolcats. See below. I just find them dumb and annoying. It gets old, real fast. Also, how should it be pronounced? Not that that's really a source of my irritation, I'm just wondering.)

--Pirates. This needs to stop. Not just because it's tiresome, cheesy, and ubiquitous, but because pirates murdered, robbed, and terrorized people. I'm not saying there aren't some badass anecdotes about pirates; there are. But I just think the "Yo ho ho, what a quaint and amusing lifestyle" thing that's developed, thanks to stories, film, etc., is rather fucked up. I fully expect people to be dressing up as terrorist cell members in a few hundred years, after terrorism as we know it is not a pressing modern issue.

--Beer. I just don't like the taste; it's gross. I don't mind wine or liquor.

--The wearing-boots-over-jeans thing is beginning to grow on me, or to grow less intolerable at least. Probably because
a) I'm so accustomed to seeing it. Michigan! That Mark Twain thing about fashion.
b) I'm lazy, and this accomodates that. If you put on pants and then shoes, which is the typical order, they just sort of go up over your pants unless you pull them over again.
c) Slush may get your pants wet if you don't.

Speaking of boots, I think I need some new ones. Well, some new enduring-the-weather boots, as my number of dress boots seems to have expanded disconcertingly. I've had these since last year and they're sort of falling apart. Yesterday I noticed my socks were damp. I hope it's because my feet were sweating unbeknownst to me or something, and not because the seal on my supposedly waterproof boot is breaking.

Michigan D:

What are some rather popular things that you, the current reader of this blog, dislike?

Feline medical curiosities, pokemon syndrome

Mutant kitties.

Also, there is an important regulatory gene called "sonic hedgehog."

As well as "tiggywinkle hedgehog."

I don't know if I'll ever stop finding that amusing.
Sir: [not sure if this link will be visible to everyone]

The choice of a gene name can have unforeseen consequences in addition to infringement of trademark ("Pokémon blocks gene name" Nature 438, 897; 2005). The quirky sense of humour that researchers display in choosing a gene name often loses much in translation when people facing serious illness or disability are told that they or their child have a mutation in a gene such as Sonic hedgehog, Slug or Pokemon.

As with the acronym CATCH22 (from 'cardiac anomaly, T-cell deficit, clefting and hypocalcaemia') for chromosome 22q11.2 microdeletions, which was abandoned because of its no-win connotations (J. Burn J. Med. Genet. 36, 737–738; 1999), researchers need to be mindful when naming genes and syndromes.
LOL. Personally, I think that an amusing name would totally take some of the sting out of having an awful syndrome!

Perhaps it would be hurtful, though, when you tried explaining it to people and they snickered. Or, I mean, the diagnosis would be pretty surreal.

Doctor: (gravely) "I'm afraid you have... Pokemon syndrome."

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Pretty bug pictures.

"Evolution explains why lolcats control your mind"

There was a study showing that, basically, we pay more acute visual attention to images of animals than we do to images of inanimate objects.

The authors of the study conclude that the reason we do so is because our ancestors would have needed to be more aware of other living creatures--for hunting and escaping purposes--than for things that aren't alive.

Okay, that doesn't sound too implausible, but it simply doesn't follow; additional evidence would be needed to help pin down exactly what it is we're reacting to and how. I'm skeptical.

As predicted, subjects were faster and more accurate detecting changes involving animals than inanimate objects. If experience were producing this bias, then people should also be good at detecting changes involving automobiles, which as drivers and pedestrians they have been trained all their lives to monitor for sudden, life-or-death changes in trajectory. Yet subjects were much slower in detecting changes to vehicles than to more rarely experienced animal species, indicating that learning is not the source of this difference.

1) Cars don't move and change the way animals do. These would have to be still images, too, and you would see any potentially dangerous car moving, and likely pay attention to its general presence, its motion, etc., than to changes in its features. I wonder what exactly the "changes" were for the car images.
2) We are animals. We empathize more and have more interest in things like us, with faces, movement, behavior, etc. This could also explain greater interest. Studies have shown that babies show much more interest in images that vaguely resemble faces, for instance, than for other images. We're attuned to ascertain things about behavior from cues like that.

That potentially could fit into the authors' hypothesis, that the reason we're more interested is that it's important to our survival to notice shit about animals' behavior (including humans). But anyway, the argument is just not all there, and it's too bad, because there's some interesting stuff involved.

What's great about this research is that it inadvertently targeted exactly what's happening in lolcat images: the animal has been changed from being just a regular cute kitty, to being a cute kitty with special attributes created by the caption. So a lolcat is an animal image with "a single change."

I don't see how this is relevant, since people generally aren't looking at the image of the cat, then the image plus the caption. They're not reacting to a "change" in the image from a previous state.

Also, I'm not sure exactly what the images in the study were like, but I somehow doubt that the kind of "changes" to the image involved text suddenly being put over them.

It would actually be really interesting to study people's reaction to image, text, and image + text, though.

Someone do that study. With both literate and non-literate people.

Also, I find lolcats dumb and annoying. Anyone else? I'd like some solidarity here, please. Or should I say, im in ur blog, hating ur lolcats.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

some sort of twisted ads

Hahaha, holy shit.

Especially the Snoopy one.

The King James Version of the Bible was put together by a homosexual mason who had sworn oaths to Lucifer.

This is awesome. Some quotes:

Demons don't have physical bodies capable of being seen in this 3-D realm on earth and so they inhabit and possess men and women to work through them and influence them. Just the same, even in the 4-D realm demons are the most grotesque creatures you can imagine. Other than the black phantom types, none of them look the same. Many look like imps, orangatangs, ferets, ant eaters, just variations and as ugly a variation as you can imagine. The lower ranking demons resemble animals. The higher ranking ones are taller and can resemble Darth Vader, these types I refer to as the Black Phantoms.


Also, the phrase "soul-scalped" (this is part of being turned into a vampire)

Also, "The King James Version of the Bible was put together by a homosexual mason who had sworn oaths to Lucifer."

The Bible today is the modern day Garden of Eden. It contains the Tree of Life and the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. Which tree are you eating from? That is why we are to pray for discernment and the guidance of His Holy Spirit when we read "His Word." Because not all of it is.

Ooh, that's a cool metaphor. And it's a meta-metaphor.

Anyway, there is plenty of great stuff here.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

This site, Peta Kills, is kind of WTF.

On the one hand they're saying a lot of ludicrous stuff. On the OTHER hand, that IS an exceedingly high percentage of companion animals that PETA euthanized, (e.g. 90 percent in 2005, and there's evidence of them killing perfectly healthy, adoptable animals) and I wonder WTF their policy is and what is going on with that.

The ludicrous stuff:

Meanwhile, PETA manager Dapha Nachminovitch confirmed that, yes, PETA does kill animals. That $9,370 walk-in freezer declared on PETA's 2002 federal income tax return is indeed for storing dead animals. And PETA contracts with a Virginia Beach company to incinerate the bodies.


Any organization that euthanizes animals under any circumstances, including veterinary hospitals and most animal shelters, is going to need one of these freezers. So PETA does in fact euthanize animals. If you want to sound the alarms about that, you'll also need to criticize almost every animal shelter and Humane Society, as well as every vet office (and I really doubt that euthanasia itself is PKA's concern, see below). If you want to call them hypocrites, yes, it's terribly ironic and all, but I don't think that euthanasia need be at all incompatible with animal-welfare and animal-rights concerns.

The issue is simply the number of animals they euthanize, and their reasons for doing so. Which are, in fact, pretty damn shady-seeming. But it's not like the fact that they euthanize animals in the first place, or that they have a walk-in freezer or incinerate the bodies, is in itself anything atypical or especially macabre.

Anyway, this is an example of something I hate: sensationalism and fact-distorting in order to persuade an audience. Especially when they have perfectly legitimate points in the first place, buried under all the sensationalist crap. Same problem I have with, say, PETA itself. I was wondering if this site was maybe actually an animal-rights organization itself, but apparently not, they're just trying to slander and discredit PETA.

"PETA Kills Animals" is a project of the Center for Consumer Freedom (CCF), a nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting the full range of choices that American consumers currently enjoy. In addition to malicious animal-rights activists, we stand up to the "food police," environmental scaremongers, neo-prohibitionists, meddling bureaucrats, and other self-anointed saints who claim to "know what's best" for you.

LOL @ "meddling bureaucrats" and "environmental scaremongers." Because the environment is just fine, and anyone who says otherwise is just a hippie trying to fuck with your all-American barbecue. :D :D :D (Wonder if they deny global warming. How dare you deny us our freedom to squander fossil fuels? Damn geophysicists, with their "facts" and their "evidence" and their "the polar ice is drastically shrinking." What are they playing at? What's their real agenda, eh?)

How exactly is saying PETA KILLS ANIMALS!!!!!!!!!! enhancing consumers' freedom of choice? Oh wait, it's not. It's simply a stab at an organization whose mission of vegetarianism is at odds with their own interests, on grounds which have nothing to do with their vegetarian stance, animal husbandry, etc.

Reminds me of those organizations supporting "smoker's freedom," whose indignant full-page ads you could find in newspapers around the time that Big Tobacco was taking it in the teeth, and which were sponsored by Philip Morris. How very libertarian. How much do you want to bet this organization gets hella funding from, say, people who sell meat?

We welcome your support. Click here to make a financial contribution. Donations to CCF are tax-deductible under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code.

YAY. Anyway, maybe I should use this as an example in class. :P You know, of shitty arguments.

Monday, January 14, 2008

human booze

Also, In one of my previous columns I mentioned that anything that was once alive could be made into alcohol.

Like... a person?

You know how you can have your ashes made into a diamond? Maybe someone should have their remains made into booze. Is this possible, and if so, how?

really big people

The World's Heaviest people. Obesity ain't just a modern phenomenon:
Dionysius of Heracleia was notorious for his appetite, and eventually grew so weighty that he could scarcely budge: he suffered from apnea or narcolepsy besides, prompting his doctors to prick his flesh with needles whenever he fell asleep on his throne. A contemporary poet has him declare that he aspired to end his days "on my back, lying on my many rolls of fat, scarcely uttering a word, taking labored breaths, and eating my fill," for of all the ways a man might die, an excess of luxury was the only truly happy death. Nevertheless, he lived to what was then the ripe old age of 55, earning a reputation for fairness and generosity that competed with his size as an object of astonishment.
Another person:
Already over 300 lbs when she dropped out of college, Bradford became an exercise instructor, running seven miles three times a week, but continued her steady gain in weight. At 374 lbs she underwent an intestinal bypass operation, which caused serious complications.
That sucks.
Michael Edelman (1964 - 1992) of Pomona, NY; Guinness listed him at 994 lbs, but his mother estimates that he weighed some 1200 lbs at his heaviest. He had already reached 154 lbs at age seven, and left school at ten because he could no longer fit into the desks. After that he spent most of his time in bed, or sharing massive meals with his 700-pound mom. Michael liked to start the day with four bowls of cereal, toast, waffles, cake, and a quart of soda, and end it with a whole pizza with the works for a bedtime snack. Mother and son tried every new diet that came along, "but after a few days, we'd reward ourselves with a chocolate cake. Then we'd call for a pizza and that would be it." When the two were evicted from their Wesley Hills home in 1988, Michael had to be moved by forklift. After his exposure in the press, dozens of hospitals and diet promoters vied to get him in a weight-loss program, but Michael was determined to get thin on his own. He appeared in three different tabloids in one week when he publicly vowed to lose enough weight to consummate his relationship with 420-lb Brenda Burdle, but the couple grew apart when they both gained weight instead of losing it. After the sudden death of Walter Hudson (below), with whom he had formed a long-distance friendship, Michael developed a pathological fear of eating. He rapidly lost several hundred pounds, taking nourishment only when spoon fed. At about 600 lbs, he literally starved to death.
Also way fucked:
Walter Hudson (1944? - 1991) of Hempstead, NY (born in Brooklyn, NY); 5 ft 10 in, measured at 1197 lbs (though the industrial scale broke in the process of weighing him). His chest was measured at 106 inches, his waist at 110. Hudson was discovered by the press in 1987, when he became wedged in the door of his bedroom and had to be cut free by rescue workers. An agoraphobic, he'd spent most of the past 27 years in bed. Hudson lived with his family, where his appetite was always indulged, and gave every indication that he was content with both his weight and his situation. "I just ate and enjoyed it," he said. Despite his massive size, Newsday reported that he was extraordinarily healthy: his heart, lungs, and kidneys all functioned normally, while astonished doctors noted that his cholesterol and blood-sugar levels "showed the chemistry of a healthy 21-year-old." Even so, activist-turned-nutritionist Dick Gregory managed to convince Hudson that losing weight was necessary to save his life...Hudson died in his sleep after years of intermittent starvation dieting, a few weeks after announcing wedding plans. His body was found to weigh 1125 lbs, and his massive coffin required twelve pallbearers.

Apparently not the only enormous person who was actually healthy, but who was made less so by attempts to shrink:
Man, name withheld (ca. 1939 - ca. 1986), of New York State; just under 5 ft 7 in, 1050 lbs. His death was due to complications following a massive panniculectomy ("tummy tuck") to remove fat tissue, performed at Long Island Jewish Medical Center, New Hyde Park, NY. His peak weight was determined by adding the weight of the tissue removed by the operation (104 lbs) to the patient's postmortem weight of 946 lbs. According to his physicians, he was healthy when he checked in, and his "past [medical] history was unremarkable except for extraordinary weight all his life."

Francis John Lang, aka Michael Walker (b. 1934) of Gibsonton, FL (born in Clinton, IA); 6 ft 2 in, believed to have reached a maximum weight of 1187 lbs. Lang had weighed only 150 lbs as a soldier in Korea. He blamed his masssive weight gain on prescription drug abuse, claiming that his narcotic of choice had the side effect of giving him an uncontrollable appetite. Though unable to walk (a handicap that kept more than one fat lady out of the side show), Lang found a unique way of capitalizing on his situation: he had a mobile home built with observation windows, and traveled the country putting himself on display at carnivals and fairs. Lying nearly nude on an oversize circular bed, he preached to the curious about the evils of drugs, using his own body as the moral lesson.

John Finnerty (b. 1952) of Amity Harbor, NY; 1012 lbs. He surfaced in the media only once, when firemen were called to take him to Brunswisk Hospital Center for treatment of bronchitis. "He was laying on a queen-size mattress, and rolls of fat just hung off both sides," said the local fire chief. "He moved like a big bowl of Jello." Finnerty was taken to the hospital on a flatbed truck, and was said to be responding well to treatment. His subsequent history is unreported.
Secret fat people.
David Ron High (1953 - 1996) of Brooklyn, NY; 5 ft 10 in, aprox. 1000 lbs. High was touted as Dick Gregory's biggest success story in 1986, when he reduced from 823 lbs to 427 lbs on a year-long fast supplemented by fruits and vegetables. (He lost three inches in height as well, shrinking from a peak of 6 ft 1 in.)
How can you lose height? Seriously, what the hell is going on there?
Ida Maitland (1898 - 1932) of Springfield, MS; 911 lbs. Mrs. Maitland reportedly had a bust measurement of 152 inches, and died while trying to pick a four-leaf clover. Guinness Superlatives labeled the story "totally unsubstantiated."
Santiago Garcia (b. 1964) of Baytown, TX; 6 ft 1 in, aprox. 900 lbs. Garcia made the papers in 1994, when he was arrested for selling forged immigration cards. After proving too big for a cell, too wide for the shower, and too heavy for the forklift that tried to load him into a prison van, Garcia was released into the care of his family.

So in conclusion, some people are just obese for no particular reason, and dieting can kill you.

Friday, January 11, 2008



Fictitious entry (rhinogradentia, Borges)

funereal violins

I should incorporate false documents into SDN and then have a website or something which will let people know which of the information in the book is legitimate.

Maybe stuff with deniable encryption or plausible deniability with TD:LP?

strange maps

Strange Maps (maybe my favorite site atm) and radical cartography.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Also, Japanese Bug Fights and PhotoTherapy

Japanese Bug Fights. Like the link says. I feel bad for the bugs, but I do like the crayfish with the barbells. I think he lost though :(

Also, PhotoTherapy (as in photographs, not light). This is really cool.

Rebirth of the Eagle

Rebirth of the Eagle.


Some highlights... oh hell, I'll just type the whole "transcript." It's all [sic].

1: The story of the eagle...
2: The eagle has the longest life-span of its' species
3: It can live up to 70 years
But to reach this age, the eagle must make a hard decision.
4: In its' 40's
Its' long and flexible talons can no longer grab prey which serves as food
5: Its' long and sharp beak becomes bent
6: Its' old-aged and heavy wings, due to their thick feathers, become stuck to its' chest and make it difficult to fly.
7: Then, the eagle is left with only two options: die or go through a painful process that lasts 150 days.
8: The process requires that the eagle fly to a mountain top and sit on its' nest.
9: There the eagle knocks its' beak against a rock until it plucks it out.
10: After plucking it out, the eagle will wait for a new beak to grow back and then it will pluck out its' talons.
11: When its' new talons grow back, the eagle starts plucking its' old-aged feathers.
12: And after five months, the eagle takes its' famous flight of rebirth and lives for
30 more years
13: Why is change needed?
Many times, in order to survive we have to start a change process.
We sometimes need to get rid of old memories, habits and other past traditions.
Only freed from past burdens, can we take advantage of the present.

It reminds me a lot of the parables you find in bestiaries, because it's incredibly inaccurate in the service of some sort of crude metaphorical point. And apparently a lot of people actually believed it was true, and deluged a raptor center with emails, wondering about it.

I'm not sure how you could actually believe any of that unless you were, say, a sheltered five year old, but I guess we can't all grow up reading Ranger Rick.

Count the inaccuracies! There is at least one in every slide, not counting the moral at the end. And not counting any of the its', which is at least consistently egregious punctuation.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

slow-motion bullet photography

Slow motion bullet photography. This is hella sweet.

I'm really stressed out now. I will watch some arrested development. I wish I could sleep like a normal person. It is after 7 am and still night-dark.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

snake swallows golf balls

Snake swallows golf balls, mistaking them for eggs.

It was really nice of the people to take him in to get operated on (this was a wild snake, not a pet). The picture is cool:

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

dres, shivs, calques

Apparently for some reason there is a Polish equivalent to Chavs.

Dangerous Beauty: The Art of the Shiv.

We are consummate toolmakers. This shiv might be my favorite.

Calques are interesting. Examples: flea market, skyscraper.