Silent 3's medicated musings
Yet another blog that will take up gigs of space, be accessable to anyone on the face of the earth, and will be read by (maybe) three people... If I'm lucky.
Tuesday, May 31, 2011
Artist Gives Nature the 8-Bit Treatment
Shawn Smith, an artist from Texas, transforms images of nature into real-life versions of the 8-bit artwork more commonly seen in games such as Space Invaders and Tetris, using hundreds of tiny wooden blocks.
In an interview with Wired.co.uk, Smith explains how his sculptures provide a means of exploring the otherwise unknown natural world, as "pixels became a sort of map from which to experience."
Friday, May 27, 2011
7 questions on fake and real quotes
"I mourn the loss of thousands of precious lives, but I will not rejoice in the death of one, not even an enemy."
- Martin Luther King Jr.
This is suddenly a familiar quote after the death of Osama Bin Laden.
Only King never said it.
Test yourself on made-up and misattributed quotations.
Thursday, May 26, 2011
A traditional Mongolian feast. Or, the limits of locavorism.
In Mongolia, when you eat a sheep, you eat a sheep
1945: Arthur C. Clarke proposes using space satellites for global communications.
It was a bold suggestion for 1945, as the war was just winding down and most people were undoubtedly more concerned about the necessities of life than they were with beaming radio waves down from space. But Clarke, a physicist and budding science-fiction author, had his head firmly in the future. The paper, "The Space-Station: Its Radio Applications," suggests that space stations could be used for broadcasting television signals (.pdf).
The Space-station was originally conceived as a refueling depot for ships leaving the Earth. As such it may fill an important though transient role in the conquest of space, during the period when chemical fuels are employed…. However, there is at least one purpose for which the station is ideally suited and indeed has no practical alternative. This is the provision of world-wide ultra-high-frequency radio services, including television.(Television itself was barely a commercial reality at this point, so that's some forward thinking.)
Clarke followed up on this private paper with an article published in October 1945 in Wireless World titled, "Extra-Terrestrial Relays: Can Rocket Stations Give World-wide Radio Coverage?" The paper discusses how rocket technology, such as that used in German V-2s during the war, could be turned to peaceful ends by launching artificial satellites into orbit. All you needed, Clarke argued, was a rocket capable of pushing a payload past an orbital-insertion velocity of 8 km/second [5 miles/second].
However, the smallest orbits — such as those that would be used by the Russian Sputnik satellites in the following decade — would circle the earth in about 90 minutes. Because of basic orbital mechanics, the farther out you could get a satellite, the slower its orbit around the Earth would be. At one point, about 42,000 km [about 26,100 miles] from the center of the Earth, the satellite's orbit would be exactly 24 hours, the same as the Earth's rotation. Clarke wrote, in Wireless World:
A body in such an orbit, if its plane coincided with that of the earth's equator, would revolve with the earth and would thus be stationary above the same spot on the planet. It would remain fixed in the sky of a whole hemisphere and unlike all other heavenly bodies would neither rise nor set.Clarke wasn't the first to propose such an orbit, known as geostationary, but his essay did popularize the idea. And while it may have seemed far-fetched in 1945, it was less than 12 years before Sputnik and only 17 years before the first TV broadcast satellite, Telstar. Then, in 1965, Intelsat began launching the first satellite system based on geostationary satellites, and there are more than 300 such satellites in Clarke orbits today. The future of communications evolved much as Clarke had foreseen it.
Although Clarke eventually became more famous as a science-fiction author, penning such classics as 2001 and Childhood's End, he regarded his satellite proposal as more significant. I interviewed Clarke for a profile in Mobile PC magazine's March 2004 issue. The headline referred to him as "The Father of the Star Child." He replied with this note, handwritten on a reprint of his original Wireless World story:
Appreciate the write-up in March … but I think being 'father' of the COMSAT more important than the Star Child!
Arthur C. Clarke, "The Space-Station: Its Radio Applications," May 25, 1945;
Arthur C. Clarke, "Extra-Terrestrial Relays: Can Rocket Stations Give World-Wide Radio Coverage?,"Wireless World, October 1945, pp. 305–308
Exclusive: The Doctor Answers Your Doctor Who Questions
We asked the Doctor Who fanatics among the Wired.com readership what they'd most like to know about time travel, the Cybermen and the space-time continuum.
Some of the questions we got were pretty funny: "Does the Doctor have any 'love children' scattered through space and time?"
In these exclusive videos made for Wired.com, you'll find some of your questions answered by Matt Smith, Karen Gillan (who plays the Doctor's companion, Amy Pond) and Beth Willis (Doctor Who producer).
Mr. Know-It-All: Handling Star Wars-Averse Offspring
I have two kids, ages 4 and 6. When I showed them Star Wars, they said it was boring and refused to watch. How do I get them into the saga?
If your progeny were meh on any other sci-fi classic, my advice would boil down to "get over it." But the first Star Wars is a special case—it's the most sacred cultural touchstone for anyone born between the Ford and Reagan administrations. If your children don't know Star Wars, can they ever truly know you? This is why it's important to keep trying to get them to see the power of the Force.
It won't be easy. By today's narrative standards, Star Wars: A New Hope suffers from glacial pacing. Contemporary kiddie entertainment has primed your progeny to expect nonstop action instead of talky scenes about droid sales and Imperial politics.
To keep things lively, you need to make the Star Wars experience more active. "Get the kids off the couch while watching the movie," advises Kevin Decker, coeditor of the book Star Wars and Philosophy. Equip them with ersatz lightsabers and have them whack at a makeshift training remote; wrap brown towels around their bodies and encourage them to be Jawas; turn a cardboard box and some packing peanuts into the Death Star's garbage compactor.
Willing to get sacrilegious? Then swallow your disdain for Jar Jar Binks and show them The Phantom Menace before retrying A New Hope. "Anakin is a kid in it, and there's a reason that kids' films almost always feature protagonists the same age as the viewers," explains Kevin Wetmore Jr., author of Empire Triumphant: Race, Religion, and Rebellion in the Star Wars Films.
But unlike a Jedi, you should keep "try" in your vocabulary. You must accept that it is possible your offspring will never become Star Wars converts. If that ends up being the case, control your feelings or you'll be giving in to your own personal dark side. All padawans must choose their own path.
Today in History: real-life Spider-man
May 26, 1977: George Willig, "the human fly," scaled the World Trade Center in New York City by attaching himself to the window washer mechanism and walking straight up until falling into police custody when he reached the top. It took Willig three and a half hours to make the climb, and $1.10 in fines – a penny per floor.
Worst PPT Slide Contest Winners
Many amazingly horrendous slides were sent in from all around the world.
Monday, May 23, 2011
Q & A.
Camping 'Flabbergasted' Rapture Didn't Occur
"It has been a really tough weekend … I'm looking for answers."
Short answer: You're an Idiot
Partial Rapture really did happen
President Obama arrived in Ireland on Monday to make a familiar pilgrimage for an American president: the country lays claim to being one of his ancestral homes.
Barak O'Bama ?
President Obama arrived in Ireland on Monday to make a familiar pilgrimage for an American president: the country lays claim to being one of his ancestral homes.
Barak O'Bama ?
from World Wide Words:
Let me riddle you a riddle: "How far is it from the first of July to London Bridge?" Stumped for an answer? Then try this one: "If a bushel of apples cost ten shillings, how long will it take for an oyster to eat its way through a barrel of soap?"
These two perplexing queries were provided by John Camden Hotten, in his Slang Dictionary of 1865, as examples to illustrate the word carwhichet, or carriwitchet, as he preferred to spell it. His version was as good as anybody's, since the term has never been used enough to settle to an agreed form and everybody who has used it has made their own guess about the spelling.
A carwhichet (let's stick with that version) is a hoaxing question or conundrum, sometimes a mere pun or bit of verbal byplay. Here is one of its more ancient appearances:
A Quibbler is a Jugler of Words, that shows Tricks with them, to make them appear what they were not meant for, and serve two Senses at once. ... He dances on a Rope of Sand, does the Somerset, Strapado, and half-strapado with Words, plays at all manner of Games with Clinches, Carwickets and Quibbles, and talks under-Leg.
The Character of a Quibbler, from the Genuine Remains in Verse and Prose of Mr Samuel Butler, Volume 2. Though published in 1759, this was actually written about 1680. A clinch (or clench) and a quibble were other names for the games with words that Butler's quibbler was so expert at. Quibble only later took on its modern sense of a petty or legalistic objection. Somerset is an old version of somersault. Under-legremains mysterious.
Nobody knows where the word comes from, however you spell it. A link with Frenchcolifichet has been cautiously suggested. In that language, it refers to a small object of little value, a bauble, knick-knack or trinket. This had developed from the oldcoeffichet for a hair accessory (from coeff, a coif) through confusion in part withcolle, glue, source of French and English collage.
Readers provided many more examples of nonsense queries from their own experiences. From Canada, Marc Slingerland e-mailed, "I'm very glad to have the word carwhichet to describe the kind of zany non-sequiturs that briefly flourished in our area during my adolescence! A representative example: 'As I was biking across my backyard in my canoe, the left wheel fell off. How many pancakes does it take to shingle a doghouse?" To which the correct answer was, "It depends if a snake has armpits." I've thought of these as surrealist jokes, but carwhichet is a nice compact term that I shall try to remember."
A representative example: 'As I was biking across my backyard in my canoe, the left wheel fell off. How many pancakes does it take to shingle a doghouse?" To which the correct answer was, "It depends if a snake has armpits." I've thought of these as surrealist jokes, but carwhichet is a nice compact term that I shall try to remember."
"Carwhichet reminded me of a line my father would use on me as a child," Loren Crispell wrote. In an attempt to divert my boredom on long trips, he used to ask, 'When is a duck?' Answer: 'The higher he flies the much.'"
Pádraig McCarthy and Lesley Shaw remember another duck-related riddle: "Q: What's the difference between a duck? A: One of its legs is both the same."
Ken Shaw added, "When I was in school in the late 1950s, the most familiar carwhichet was: 'If a chicken and-a-half-can lay an egg-and-a-half in a day-and-a-half, how long will it take a grasshopper with a wooden leg to kick his way through a dill pickle?'"
Friday, May 20, 2011
From a list of inaccurate predictions:
Robert Metcalfe is the founder of the 3Com digital electronics company and a professor at The University of Texas at Austin. He holds a PhD from Harvard, is the co-inventor of Ethernet , and holds a Grace Murray Hopper Award for developing it. Today he is a General Partner at Polaris Venture Partners, a venture capital firm that specializes in early investments in technology companies.
Despite his impressive resume, Robert Metcalfe is known for at least one inaccurate prediction that he is unlikely to live down. In a 1995 issue of InfoWorld, he famously said of the Internet that it "will soon go spectacularly supernova and in 1996 catastrophically collapse." He then promised to eat his words if proven wrong. He was. So during his keynote speech at the WWW International Conference in 1997, he produced the magazine page containing the quote, put it in a blender, and ingested it before a live audience.
For First Time, Majority of Americans Favor Legal Gay Marriage
For the first time in Gallup's tracking of the issue, a majority of Americans (53%) believe same-sex marriage should be recognized by the law as valid, with the same rights as traditional marriages.
coincidence? I think not.
The End of the World is scheduled for May 23rd
May 25th is International Towel Day.
Could it be that the Apocolypse is actually the arrival of the Vogon Constructor Fleet ?
Thursday, May 19, 2011
" Feel the rainbow, Newt! "
Wednesday, May 18, 2011
BBC News - Big Mac attack: US man eats record 25,000th burger
"Such singleness of purpose is met but infrequently."
- Dorothy Parker
More Details From the Osama Raid
Details of what happened on the night we killed Bin Laden have been dripping slowly from the White House, but anonymous government sources have just handed the AP the entire story.
Every single detail.
Even the SEAL dog's name.
AP story @
Crazy Military Tracking, From Super Scents to Quantum Dots
Tuesday, May 17, 2011
Pew Research quiz on National and International issues
Give this a try, and see how up you are on current events.
This is not a humorous joke, but a Pew Research quiz.
See how well you do compared to the national averages.
Once you see the results, you will know why the country is in pathetic shape.
Monday, May 16, 2011
German wins world best beard title at Norway contest
Elmar Weisser, 47, beat 160 contestants to the prize with his elaborate facial hair sculpture of a moose.
It is the third time Mr Weisser has emerged as champion.
In 2005 he won with with a beard styled into the shape of Berlin's Brandenberg Gate, and in 2007 with a representation of London's Tower Bridge.
full @ http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-13407712
What is Planking ?
Australian dies after 'planking' on balcony, police say
Australian police say a man who plunged to his death from a seventh-floor balcony on Sunday was participating in the internet craze of "planking".
Planking involves someone lying flat on their stomach in unusual and sometimes dangerous situations, and posting photographs on social media websites.
Memristors' current carves protected channels
Memristors' current carves protected channels
A circuit component touted as the "missing link" of electronics is starting to give up the secrets of how it works.
Memristors resist the passage of electric current, "remembering" how much current passed previously.
Researchers reporting in the journal Nanotechnology have now studied their nanoscale makeup using X-rays.
They show for the first time where the current switching process happens in the devices, and how heat affects it.
First predicted theoretically in the early 1970s, the first prototype memristor was realised by researchers at Hewlett-Packard in 2008.
They are considered to be the fourth fundamental component of electronics, joining the well-established resistor, capacitor, and inductor.
Because their resistance at any time is a function of the amount of current that has passed before, they are particularly attractive as potential memory devices.
What is more, this history-dependent resistance is reminiscent of the function of the brain cells called neurons, whose propensity to pass electrical signals depends crucially on the signals that have recently passed.
The earliest implementations of the idea have been materially quite simple - a piece of titanium dioxide between two electrodes, for example.
What is going on at the microscopic and nanoscopic level, in terms of the movement of electric charges and the structure of the material, has remained something of a mystery.
Now, researchers at Hewlett-Packard including the memristor's discoverer Stan Williams, have analysed the devices using X-rays and tracked how heat builds up in them as current passes through.
The team discovered that the current in the devices flowed in a 100-nanometre channel within the device. The passage of current caused heat deposition, such that the titanium dioxide surrounding the conducting channel actually changed its structure to a non-conducting state.
A number of different theories had been posited to explain the switching behaviour, and the team was able to use the results of their X-ray experiments to determine which was correct.
Friday, May 13, 2011
The secret weapon that defeated bin Laden
From: "borowitzreport.com" <email@example.com>
Date: May 13, 2011 11:30 PM
Subject: The secret weapon that defeated bin Laden
"We've found a Warlock. May we burn him?"
Iranian Dictators Arrest Ahmadinejad Allies for Using Sorcery
President Mahmud Ahmadinejad of Iran has lost a couple of his top aides to charges of sorcery by the country's leading religious figures.
A meme for our information-saturated moment
Every now and then, a meme arrives that fills some void in the culture and the language that we didn't know existed. For me, that meme is "Cool story, bro."
It doesn't mean what you think it means
Whittled in Wood: Making a Spring RTS Map Game Table
Want to make a tabletop that looks like a lunar landscape ?
Thursday, May 12, 2011
Link found between spending on libraries and student learning
It is an article of faith among many critics of public schools that there is no correlation between spending and learning outcomes. But it's not so—at least where library spending is concerned. When support for school libraries rises, reading scores go up and learning by other measures increases also. That's what researchers at Mansfield University in Mansfield, PA found when they examined and summarized the results of 23 studies done around the United States and Canada.
"Quality school library programs impact student achievement," says Debra E. Kachel, a professor in the School Library and Information Technologies Department at Mansfield University. "The research shows clearly that schools that support their library programs give their students a better chance to succeed."
full @ http://esciencenews.com/articles/2011/05/06/link.found.between.spending.libraries.and.student.learning
The night sky in 37,440 exposures
Nick Risinger has always gazed up at the sky. But last year the amateur astronomer and photographer quit his day job as a Seattle marketing director and lugged six synchronized cameras about 60,000 miles to capture an image of the entire night sky.
Risinger, 28, set up his rack of cameras in high-elevation locales in the Western U.S. and South Africa, timing photo shoots around new moons when nights were long and dark. He programmed his six cameras to track the stars as they moved across the sky and simultaneously snapped thousands of photos.
He then stitched 37,440 exposures together into a spectacular, panoramic survey sky that he posted online two weeks ago. The photo reveals a 360-degree view of the Milky Way, planets and stars in their true natural colors. Viewers can zoom in on portions of the 5,000-megapixel image to find Orion or the Large Magellanic Cloud.
"I wanted to share what I thought was possible," said Risinger, a first-time astrophotographer. "We don't see it like this. This is much brighter. On a good night in Seattle, you'll see 20 or 30 stars. This, in its full size, you'll see 20 to 30 million. Everything is amplified."
Other sky surveys have preceded this one, including the Digitized Sky Survey and Google Sky. Many serve scientific purposes and were shot in red and blue to measure the temperature of stars, Risinger said. He shot in a third color, green, to give the photo added depth and richness, he said.
"What a labor of love it is!" said Andrew Fraknoi, senior educator at the Astronomical Society of the Pacific. "Professional astronomers are now doing much deeper surveys of small regions of the sky, using big telescopes. But every once in a while it's nice to step back and have such a beautiful photographic record of the whole sky."
"This is not a scientifically useful image. This is for educational and artistic appreciation," Risinger said, adding that he didn't want to make money off it. "It is for educational purposes. I want to develop some tools for the classroom."
To capture the entire night sky in a year, Risinger plotted out an exact schedule of images he needed from both the northern and southern hemisphere. He divided the sky into 624 uniform sections and entered those coordinates into the computer.
"The sheer amount of work was mind-boggling," he said at his apartment in Seattle. "It's not a wing-it kind of project. You have to plan how you're going to get the entire sky. And you do that by dividing it up into pieces and knowing what time you need to collect those pieces because as the Earth goes around the Sun, things come in and out of view."
In March of last year, Risinger and his older brother, Erik, traveled to the desert near Tonapah, Nev., and took the first photos of what eventually would become his Photopic Sky Survey.
When he realized the work was too monumental, Risinger quit his day job as a marketing director of a countertop company to devote himself full-time to the project. He also persuaded his retired father, Tom, who lives in Gig Harbor, Wash., to join him.
In the U.S., he and his dad would often drive all day and set up and take photographs all night. They chased ideal windows of opportunity to catch the night sky at its clearest.
Their travels took them to dark places where light pollution was low and higher altitudes where there was less water vapor - near the Chiricahua Mountains in Arizona, near Fort Davis, Tex., and Lassen National Forest in California. He found himself staking out stars in freezing temperatures in Telluride, Colo., and amid stars in South Africa where none of the constellations were recognizable to his northern hemisphere-trained eyes.
Each night, Risinger set the six cameras - high-end monochrome astrophotography imagers equipped with different filters - to point in the exact same spot and continuously feed his laptop with images. He monitored the photographs in real-time and passed the dark hours eating sunflower seeds. Meanwhile, his dad slept.
Back in Seattle, Risinger began piecing the panoramic image together in January. He used a computer software program to scan each frame, recognize the pattern with a database of stars and then match them with the other colors and frames. That got projected onto a sphere.
"Making an atlas of the night sky is something that mostly professional astronomers would have done in the past," said Fraknoi, who is also chairman of the astronomy department at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills, Calif. "With new computer tools at our disposal, it's remarkable what amateur astronomers can discover."
Risinger finished the project a couple weeks ago, and has been getting thousands of hits on his website.
"It was always hard to describe what I was doing that would make sense to people that aren't familiar with astronomy. But once they see it, they get it."
More information: Photopic Sky Survey: http://skysurvey.org/
Star Wars Humor
There is a short movie called "Troops" which merges the TV show "Cops" with the plot of "Star Wars". A camera crew follows Imperial Troopers as they go about their daily job on Tatooine.
Remember the scene in Star Wars when Luke returns to his Uncle's house and finds the place incinerated? You get to see what happened in his absence:
The Imperial Troopers were called to a moisture farm to settle a domestic dispute about a runaway kid and, well... things got out of hand.
Tuesday, May 10, 2011
Humor from The Borowitz Report
Bin Laden Invested Millions in Company That Makes 3-oz. Bottles of Liquids and Gels
WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report) – In a shocking revelation gleaned from computers seized in his compound in Pakistan, Osama bin Laden spent millions of dollars investing in a company that makes 3-ounce bottles of liquid and gels.
According to CIA director Leon Panetta, Mr. bin Laden's fervor for investing in the tiny bottle company, Trav-L-Size Inc., may have dwarfed his passion for jihad.
"We haven't found anything in the computers that indicate Osama bin Laden wanted to rule the world," Mr. Panetta said. "However, it is clear that he wanted to corner the market in 3-ounce bottles."
In addition to Mr. bin Laden's passion for 3-ounce bottles, seized computer files portray a man bent on controlling the world's supply of slip-on shoes and loafers.
"Over the last nine years, Osama bin Laden had poured millions of dollars into a company called Reid Loafer Inc., founded by the so-called 'shoe bomber' Richard Reid," he said.
Mr. Panetta said that the CIA still has much to learn about Mr. bin Laden's years as a fugitive, but said the fact that he lived in Pakistan for six years without phone service "suggests the involvement of AT&T."
In other bin Laden news, Mr. Panetta said Mr. bin Laden's dying words were, "On the plus side, this is going to totally screw Trump."
Elsewhere, a Pakistani military spokesman denied any connection with the fallen al Qaeda leader, stating, "We were just Facebook friends."
And in what some see as conclusive proof that Osama bin Laden is dead, Dick Cheney appeared on Fox to take credit for it.
from A.I.R. - "Tastes like Trombone"
"Our results raise important questions about our representation of tastes and flavors and could also lead to applications in the marketing of food products."
- say a research team who have been investigating possible associations between flavors and various musical instruments. The Crossmodal Research Lab at Oxford University in the UK are presenting their new paper : 'As bitter as a trombone: Synesthetic correspondences in nonsynesthetes between tastes/flavors and musical notes' in the latest issue of the journal Attention Perception & Psychophysics.
Previous studies have concluded that even in those who are not synesthestic, higher or lower pitches of musical notes can have effects on various tastes. For example, as far back as 1968, Danish researcher Kristian Holt-Hansen showed that different musical notes had measurable effects on the taste perception of Carlsberg Lager™ and Carlsberg Elephant Beer™ (Taste and pitch. Perceptual & Motor Skills, 27, 59-68.)
But this new study is perhaps the first to link the sounds of specific musical instruments with flavours. Experimental subjects listened to a series of notes played on piano, strings, woodwind and brass (provided by the University of Iowa Electronic Music Studios) whilst tasting various flavours, e.g. salt, lemon, peppermint, monosodium glutamate (MSG) and others. Subsequent analysis of the results (using a repeated measures ANOVA, with Greenhouse–Geisser correction) showed significant connections between the flavour perceptions and the instruments.
For example, the piano was felt to be particularly appropriate for the taste of sugar – and quite unsuitable for brass instruments. Similarly, coffee was more woodwindy than brassy, and orange-flower was brassy rather than stringy. These newfound associations between flavours and individual instruments lead on to a new hypothesis – might similar matching effects occur with more complex sounds – and even perhaps with music in general?
"Should this hypothesis be confirmed by subsequent research, there would be some intriguing implications for the design of dining areas and restaurants, so that environmental sounds and/or background music can be better matched to the dishes that are consumed there."And at least one company, Starbucks, has already implemented a commercial application based on the idea of comestible/musical harmonisation. Their VIA™ Italian blend coffee has its own specially composed, and quite complex, musical sig. tune. VIA Alle Undici, featuring synthesisers, percussion, flute samples, and piano (recorded both forwards and backwards).
Of Note : One of the paper's authors, professor Charles Spence of Oxford University, UK, was the co-recipient of the 2008 Ig Nobel Prize for Nutrition, in recognition of his work on the electronic modification of the sound of a potato chip to make the person chewing the chip believe it to be crisper and fresher than it really is.
Monday, May 09, 2011
some things never change.
from a friend of mine in the 6th Pennsylvania Regiment
Friday, May 06, 2011
The real Clouseau
From my friend Paul