Saturday, December 19, 2009

Evidence of Octopus tool use

BBC has a video of octopi collecting coconut shells to build armoured protective shelters, evidence of tool use, which arrogant humans use to think was a human only ability, but now we know other primates and birds (and now molluscs) can do.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

18th century mermaid illustrations

This blog has a bunch of pictures resulting from mermaid encounters in the 1700s, not pretty!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Erowid features Obama blotter

Erowid (which apparently established itself from funding by the Microsoft founding member Bob Wallace, also of DanceSafe fame) features this Obama blotter.

Also in other news... bad Obama E's hit the streets.... (!)

Thursday, November 26, 2009

What happens when you pinch a snail's embryo?

Apparently if you jab two metal rods into an 8 cell snail embryo you can not only change the direction it's shell curls, but also it's genes to reflect that curling direction. I wonder what would happen to a squished human embryo?

Sunday, November 22, 2009

India officially recognizes transgender as a gender

India's electoral commission has now added an 'other' category to 'male' and 'female' to recognize members of the transgender community.
The formal recognition, confirmed by the election commission, answers a longstanding demand by the eunuch and transgender community, known as hijiras, who are believed to number up to six million.

"The inclusion of eunuchs and transgenders as 'others' gives us a separate identity which is what we have always wanted," said Laxmi Narayan Tripathi, a prominent eunuch activist and founder of campaign group Astitva.

Taste Test: natto, gooey fermented soy beans

Interesting article on Natto and whether soy is good or bad... Includes recipe for natto spaghetti.

Global gender gap rankings 2009

According to the latest global gender gap rankings by the world economic forum, Scandinavian countries are on top, Canada ranks 25th place behind Sri Lanka, Mongolia and the Phillipines.
The report’s Index assesses countries on how well they are dividing their resources and opportunities among their male and female populations, regardless of the overall levels of these resources and opportunities.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Invasive species of slugs run amok in Canada!

Apparently a European native slug is taking over Canadian soil.
Hermaphroditic in nature, some slugs can even knock themselves up, so it only takes a single invader to build an army. Once the population is established, the slugs become (and I quote) the "slow moving lions of the vegetable world."

Insurers using facebook to investigate claimants

Canadian insurance firm Manulife has reportedly cut a depressed woman’s benefits because photos showing her happy were posted on Facebook.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Birds Swarming

Starlings in beautiful flocking behaviour...

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Capitalism flawed system, says majority

BBC reports that a large majority of people in a survey of 27 countries think that capitalism is not working.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Heavy duty steampunk mods

Awkward looking cellphones you could catch tetanus from...

clunky computers with typewriter keyboards...

what's not to love?

More at this link.

Giant cardboard-robot suit

Jason Lentz' carboard robot suit attempts!

SUPER-fixed gear bike

Forget about fixies, Grand Rapids, MI design company Jruiter has created a really cool prototype for a minimalistic inner city bike. The design is so simplified to the point that it doesn’t even have a chain, instead the pedals directly drive the back wheel. Of course the next logical step would be to remove the brakes.

Shanghai banning pyjamas in public

Shanghai will host the World Expo next year, and city officials are preparing for the influx of foreigners with a campaign to ban citizens from wearing their pajamas out in the streets.

Paper folding documentary

The trailer above is for Between The Folds, a new feature documentary film presented by PBS's Independent Lens. You can view the whole film on PBS on December 8 or at one of Independent Television Service's free Community Cinema screenings upcoming around the country.

Anti-whaling pirate speedboat unveiled

The Sea Shepard Society has unveiled their newest speedboat, which looks pretty stealth... and advanced tech for an activist organization...

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Documentary on Crazy Cat Ladies Trailer

A curry a day keeps the doctor away

The BBC has been publishing articles about the wonderful health benefits of Turmeric. Apparently it has just been found to 'kill cancer cells dead', relieve the suffering due to arthritis, and prevent Alzheimers. Yum!

Photos of Egyptian Animal Mummies

For more, see the Nat Geo gallery from the Egyptian museum in Cairo.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Cannabis protects the brain from binge drinking

Marijuana may protect the brain from some of the damage caused by binge drinking (drinking more than 4-5 units of alcohol in one night), according to a new study.

Researchers at the University of California San Diego performed brain scans on 16- to 19-year-olds in three groups: binge drinkers, binge drinkers who also smoke pot, and those with very little drug or drinking experience.

Binge drinkers showed damage in their white matter. But those who drink and smoke showed more damage than the control group in only three of eight areas of the brain. In seven of the areas, their brains were in better shape than the binge drinkers.

Researchers said in a news release from the Marijuana Project that the result was unexpected.

They said it could be that marijuana somehow stops alcohol from damaging brain cells.

The study was published online by the journal Neurotoxicology and Teratology.

Astronomer Carl Sagan on Stoned Insights

A friend once told me that famed astronomer and noted head Carl Sagan wrote notes from his high self to his sober self to trust in his stoned revelations. I haven't confirmed that, but Sagan was definitely into the wacky tobaccy. In 1969, Sagan contributed a piece about his marijuana use for the book "Marihuana Reconsidered." Sagan wrote under the pseudonym of Mr. X, but he was later confirmed as the author.

From Marihuana Reconsidered:

When I'm high I can penetrate into the past, recall childhood memories, friends, relatives, playthings, streets, smells, sounds, and tastes from a vanished era. I can reconstruct the actual occurrences in childhood events only half understood at the time. Many but not all my cannabis trips have somewhere in them a symbolism significant to me which I won't attempt to describe here, a kind of mandala embossed on the high. Free-associating to this mandala, both visually and as plays on words, has produced a very rich array of insights.

There is a myth about such highs: the user has an illusion of great insight, but it does not survive scrutiny in the morning. I am convinced that this is an error, and that the devastating insights achieved when high are real insights; the main problem is putting these insights in a form acceptable to the quite different self that we are when we're down the next day. Some of the hardest work I've ever done has been to put such insights down on tape or in writing. The problem is that ten even more interesting ideas or images have to be lost in the effort of recording one. It is easy to understand why someone might think it's a waste of effort going to all that trouble to set the thought down, a kind of intrusion of the Protestant Ethic. But since I live almost all my life down I've made the effort - successfully, I think. Incidentally, I find that reasonably good insights can be remembered the next day, but only if some effort has been made to set them down another way. If I write the insight down or tell it to someone, then I can remember it with no assistance the following morning; but if I merely say to myself that I must make an effort to remember, I never do.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Living close to Nature improves mental health

BBC reports
that being around nature reduces depression, anxiety and a host of physical ailments:
Research in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health says the impact is particularly noticeable in reducing rates of mental ill health.

The annual rates of 15 out of 24 major physical diseases were also significantly lower among those living closer to green spaces.

I guess living in a city is more shitty.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

More crazy clouds

From Wired. Looks like an upside down ocean.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Cloud Halo hovers over Moscow

From the Telegraph:
Talking to the Daily Mail, a spokesman from Moscow's weather forecasting service said: "Several fronts have been passing through Moscow recently, there was an intrusion of the Arctic air too, the sun was shining from the west - this is how the effect was produced.

"This is purely an optical effect, although it does look impressive," he added.

"If you look closer, you can see sun rays coming through that cloud. Most likely, the sun was setting when the video was being made.

"If you observe clouds regularly, you may see many other astonishing things. Clouds of the same class may look absolutely different in different areas," he said.

What actual Mayans are saying about 2012

From blogger Maggie Koerth-Baker:
When your three-year checkbook calendar runs out, does that signal the end of the world? No? It's pretty much the same for the Mayan calendar and 2012.

In fact, the idea of a countdown to cataclysmic apocalypse is a Western, not Mayan idea, say some Mayans who are getting fed up with the hype. You can read more about their perspective in this AP article: "2012 Isn't the End of the World, Mayans Insist."

Another important thing to think about: The amount of money being raked in by woo-woo charlatans (and, now, big entertainment companies) who are all capitalizing off what amounts to willful misinterpretations of Mayan legends, traditions and science. My college anthropology professor (and expert in Central and South American archaeology) John Hoopes had some interesting thoughts on this...

I'd like to see more of the revenue from the hyping of 2012 mythology through books, movies, conferences, and websites go directly to the living descendants of the ancient Maya whose cultural heritage and intellectual property is being appropriated without their knowledge or consent for the financial benefit of non-Maya hucksters.

This raises a lot of questions about who owns traditional knowledge. I don't claim to have the answer, though. There are a lot of wrinkles and complications, including the good possibility that the living Maya probably have no legal standing when it comes to these issues. But I suspect it has much more to do with what's ethically responsible than with legal obligations.
I don't know that I know the best way to handle this, either. But, whether or not the living Maya should be paid for the use (or misuse) of their ancestors' ideas, I personally see a lot of racism at play in this story. Not the white hood sort of racism, sure. But I'm don't think I have a better word for what happens when the largely white and wealthy American New Age community co-opts and exoticises the traditions of a marginalized native people and then ignores those people when they say, "That's not what our traditions mean. Please stop misrepresenting us."

Monday, October 5, 2009

stop-motion building art

"cloud" cloud

Artist Ron English did some sky writing with the word cloud dissolving into clouds..

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Nasal spray developed to improve memory

Long term memories are primarily encoded from the day's events during REM sleep (which is why pulling all-nighters cramming for an exam is a bad idea), now scientists have found that a nasal spray containing the immune system hormone interleukin-6 can help boost that REM sleep long-term memory formation. Smart drugs!

Giant Balloon monsters

Giant monsters made from balloons! Click the link for more.

Art mosaics made from free sample paint chips

Free samples of paint chips (like benjamin moore style) can be used to make pixellated mosaic paintings for free.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Slices of human body as seen by MRI

Looking at slices of MRI data (from the visible human project) going through a human body look a lot like cuts of steaks.

Fashionable, tattooed Goldfish

Apparently, a new trend in China is to get laser-tattooed goldfish, with lucky symbols on them. Unluckily however, they are much more expensive than non-tattooed goldfish.

Mayans "played" pyramids as instruments

I remember at Chichen Itza, clapping by the pyramid made really cool sounding chirpy echoes... apparently, they have found these same musical properties with a number of other pyramids, leading to the hypothesis that the Mayans played these pyramids as instruments in religious ceremonies (perhaps mushrooms were involved?).

Women warrior tribe in Ukraine

In response to a sexist culture, a group of women in the Ukraine have formed a women-only tribe, living in the mountains, learning self-defense, science and self-sufficiency.
Calling themselves the “Asgarda”, the women seek complete autonomy from men. Residing in the Carpathian Mountains, the tribe is comprised of 150 women of varying ages, primarily students, led by 30 year-old Katerina Tarnouska. Reviving the tribal traditions of the Scythian Amazons of ancient Greek mythology, the Asgarda train in martial arts...

Thursday, September 24, 2009

That shit will fuck you up

Scientists trying to solve the problem of how to get stem cells into the brain in the least harmful manner have discovered that snorting them might be the best bet.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Medical tubing sculpture

This is a nice sculpture made from braided medical tubing with timed (food) coloured fluid being pumped through it:

Fluid Sculpture from Charlie Bucket on Vimeo.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Who owns what? "Organic" companies

Here is a map of what parent companies (some not so nice) that own "green" organic brands:

There have also been pesticide tests to determine what fruits and veggies are most important to buy organic and which are not-so-important.

Here are the must-buy organic fruits and vegetables:

* Apples
* Cherries
* Grapes, imported
* Nectarines
* Peaches
* Pears
* Raspberries
* Strawberries
* Bell peppers
* Celery
* Potatoes
* Spinach/lettuce

Don't worry about going organic with these fruits and vegetables:

* Bananas
* Kiwis
* Mangos
* Papaya
* Pineapples
* Asparagus
* Avocado
* Broccoli
* Cauliflower
* Onions

Monday, September 21, 2009

Pirate Bay sinking

With the sinking of Pirate bay. Here is a link to 25 torrent searching alternatives, including copies of the PB before it sank.

Water usage

Here is a graph showing how much water is used for a variety of things. Note how much water is used to develop animals for use as meats.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

How-to wheat paste

Artist Gaia shows the process of doing wheat-paste street art.

Ants build lifeboat to protect their queen

Fire ants in the Amazon adapt to flooding by building a living raft to protect their queen.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Living root bridges of India

When the War-Khasis tribe in Meghalaya needs a new bridge to cross one of the many criss-crossing rivers of the cherrapunji region, they don’t build one. They grow it.
The root bridges, some of which are over a hundred feet long, take ten to fifteen years to become fully functional, but they’re extraordinarily strong – strong enough that some of them can support the weight of fifty or more people at a time.

Because they are alive and still growing, the bridges actually gain strength over time – and some of the ancient root bridges used daily by the people of the villages around Cherrapunji may be well over five hundred years old.

Squirrels learn how to steal

Gray squirrels learn about stealing from watching other squirrels:

The study suggests that squirrels are primed to recognise other squirrels as potential food thieves. It also shows that they learn more quickly from real life observations.

Corresponding author Dr Lisa Leaver of the University of Exeter, said: “Our study is significant because it is the first to show that grey squirrels learn from observing others. It adds to growing evidence that all kinds of animals, from humans and other primates to many species of birds, learn from observation and that they have evolved to learn quickly about those things that are most important to their lives – in the case of grey squirrels, gathering and storing nuts.”

Glass microbiology

This artist has made a number of virus and bacteria glass works of art.

Runpee tells you when to go pee during a movie lets you know what the best times to go and urinate during a movie so you don't miss anything important.

Mammatus Clouds

Mammatus Clouds are a meteorological phenomenon caused by sagging cellular accumulations produced in clouds of ice and water, and usually mean a fierce storm is trying to develop.

noby noby boy hat and scarf

Noby noby boy hat and scarf for sale on etsy.

Trail in clouds

Clouds with trails of an intercontinental ballistic missile test fired from an american base.

Augmented reality iphone apps 2

Sekai Camera, the augmented reality iPhone app that tags and overlays information about products and places, debuted in Tokyo today at a press event held at the Spanish luxury designer Loewe. Here's a video showing how it works — basically, when your camera scans a certain tagged item, it shows up on the screen along with a description, pricing, etc. Video by Nobi Hayashi.

WorkSnug looks for wifi hotspots with comments on how nice places they are to work:

Friday, September 18, 2009

Oliver Sacks explains what hallucinations tell us about the human mind

Neurologist and author Oliver Sacks brings our attention to Charles Bonnett syndrome -- when visually impaired people experience lucid hallucinations.

Psychedelic tumor visualization site

This medical site has gorgeous, psychedelic medical visualizations explaining cancer tumor growth.

Relative efficiency of energy use in transportation

You might think that aeroplanes are the most fuel-guzzling way to get around (compared with, say, a Prius), but because they are filled with people, the truth is surprising.

U.S. Trade deficit

U.S. trade deficit with other countries:

U.S. currency exchange rate relative to other countries over time:

Man sues for overdose of Ketamine

VANCOUVER - A Campbell River man has received $63,000 in damages for an "out-of-body experience" in which he said he saw God after being accidentally overdosed with the painkiller Ketamine while recovering from back surgery in Vancouver General Hospital.