February 28th, 2009

bears can’t bare wet ears

So to get the fish from the bottom of the river they have to be creative, if completely ungraceful.

It reminds me of my laziness when I sometimes pick something up with my foot.

From a new BBC series, Nature’s Great Events.

February 27th, 2009

Daddy eats cows.

Slate has a great article about raising vegetarian children. Mark Oppenheimer is a married to a vegetarian wife who believes their children should be raised vegetarian until they are old enough to make the ethical choice themselves of whether they want to eat meat.

…In asking my vegetarian friends, however, I have found that children raised as vegetarians tend to accept vegetarianism as a fact of life. I shouldn’t have been surprised, really: We all think that what we ate as young children was the best food in the world; it’s only with some effort that we introduce radical changes to our diet. Vegetarianism comes easily to those who have never known otherwise. “I look at it like this,” my rabbi, Jon-Jay Tilsen, a vegetarian father of four vegetarian children, told me. “Various societies and cultures have their own cuisines. And if we had been French, we’d be feeding our children frog’s legs—and in other places, monkey brains. In this country they eat cows, pigs, and chickens a lot—but in India they would sooner eat their brother-in-law than eat a cow. The point is that something that seems disgusting to eat is just a matter of what you were brought up with.” His children, unaccustomed to eating meat, have never expressed a desire to.

Read more

February 27th, 2009

am I conscious now?

Dr. Susan Blackmore explores the nature of consciousness:

Am I conscious now?

Of course I am. Yes, I am conscious now.

Am I conscious now?

Of course I am. Yes, I am conscious now.

But something odd happened. When I asked myself the question it was as though I became conscious at that moment. Was I not conscious before? It felt as though I was waking up – coming to consciousness when I asked the question – because I asked the question.

What is going on? (Calm down. Take it slowly.)

I can remember what was happening just before I asked the question, so it seems that someone must have been conscious. Was someone else conscious a moment before – as though the waking up is a change in who is conscious? It certainly didn’t feel as though it could have been me because I just woke up, but surely it wasn’t anyone else, for who else could there be in here?

Read more!

previously posted: The “grand illusion” of consciousness

February 27th, 2009

lost memories


The website mangofalls is an archive of old photographs developed from rolls of film that were found in old cameras in junk shops!

How the first mystery roll was acquired:

I slowly rewound the film, popped the door, and was rewarded with a pristine roll of Kodachrome. I asked the guy at the counter how much he wanted for it. “Gimme a quarter” he replied. I paid the man and drove home with the mystery roll. And then I forgot about it for 2 years.

Mangofalls via neatorama

February 26th, 2009

the meaning of existence, by les murray

Everything except language
knows the meaning of existence.
Trees, plants, rivers, time
know nothing else. They express it
moment by moment as the universe.

Even this fool of a body
lives it in part, and would
have full dignity within it
but for the ignorant freedom
of my talking mind.

via poetryarchive.org:

The influences and oppositions discernible in Murray’s work – love of the land, the tensions between rural and urban life, the struggle for an independent means of expression – are forces that have also shaped modern Australian culture and perhaps help explain both his widespread appeal and the controversy he sometimes attracts. What’s not in dispute is the fecundity of his language: “We are a language species” he says (‘Employment for the Castes in Abeyance’) and he often writes in a rich torrent of words like a latter-day Elizabethan, delighting in puns, allusion, alliteration and learning. He started professional life as a translator and, in effect, he has continued in this role, pushing language to capture experience that is usually beyond our human radar, like the “queer/tonal hunting zone” of ‘Bats’ Ultrasound’.

February 24th, 2009



The fish Macropinna microstoma has tubular eyes and a transparent head!

The common name for the fish is “barreleyes.” Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute investigators recently figured out why this species has such an unusual head. Its eyes can actually rotate within its “skull,” so the transparency allows the wary swimmer to keep a literal eye on happenings above it, as well as to the sides and directly in front.

Using video cameras, MBARI researchers Bruce Robison and Kim Reisenbichler revealed the fish’s eye movements. When remotely operated vehicles approached the fish, its eyes glowed a vivid green shade in the bright lights of the ROVs. Usually the fish were just hanging out motionless under the deep waters offshore California’s central coast.

From Discovery News via neatorama

Update! Liveleak has nice video footage of it

February 21st, 2009

dinner with a stranger

via kottke:

Franke James presents a charmingly illustrated story about an extraordinary dinner with a stranger. Must-read.

February 21st, 2009

gobble gobble

Liveleak hosts a rather beautiful simulation of a star being extruded and devoured by a black hole.

User “dag” comments sagely:

I can’t believe they are using jerky cam on astronomy cgi. I have to admit it does the job as usual, adding 20% more realism to any footage. Eventually we will get jaded of this film technique. It will be the 21st century’s laugh track.

Posted in Space, Video | No Comments »
February 21st, 2009

book espresso machine


One often admires websites such as the Gutenberg Project which archive public-domain works of literature for all to enjoy… But how often does one sit down at one’s computer and read a whole book? It’s not quite the revolution it ought to be, an online book.

But the New York Library is introducing a brilliant invention that looks like a prop from an eighties sci-fi movie: The “Espresso Book Machine”. It will print out an entire public domain book in ten minutes and bind it for you.

June 22 (Bloomberg) — Beginning July 2, the New York Public Library will operate a 1,660-pound, Internet-connected book- making gizmo that can deliver a 200-page paperback in six to eight minutes — although mine took 12.

Through the Web, the “Espresso Book Machine,” from New York-based On Demand Books LLC, has access to 200,000 titles in the public domain — that is, books that aren’t protected by copyright.

Read more: Bloomberg (via treehugger)

Posted in Design | No Comments »
February 21st, 2009

man at work

Here is compiled a stunning gallery of photographs of people at work in their various occupations. Must be seen to be believed.

What a piece of work is man!

via kottke

February 21st, 2009

meat zen: in-vitro meat production and the environment

In these times of ever-increasing environment-consciousness and financial despair, is lab-grown meat an auspicious solution to many problems?

To grow meat on a large scale, cells from several different kinds of tissue, including muscle and fat, would be needed to give the meat the texture to appeal to the human palate.

“The challenge is getting the texture right,” says Matheny. “We have to figure out how to ‘exercise’ the muscle cells. For the right texture, you have to stretch the tissue, like a live animal would.”

Where’s the Beef?

And, the authors agree, it might take work to convince consumers to eat cultured muscle meat, a product not yet associated with being produced artificially.

“On the other hand, cultured meat could appeal to people concerned about food safety, the environment, and animal welfare, and people who want to tailor food to their individual tastes,” says Matheny. The paper even suggests that meat makers may one day sit next to bread makers on the kitchen counter.

“The benefits could be enormous,” Matheny says. “The demand for meat is increasing world wide — China ‘s meat demand is doubling every ten years. Poultry consumption in India has doubled in the last five years.

“With a single cell, you could theoretically produce the world’s annual meat supply. And you could do it in a way that’s better for the environment and human health. In the long term, this is a very feasible idea.”

Matheny saw so many advantages in the idea that he joined several other scientists in starting a nonprofit, New Harvest, to advance the technology.

2005: Paper Says Edible Meat Can Be Grown in Lab on Industrial Scale (quoted above)

2007: Vegans vs Vegetarians

2008 (april): Growing meat without growing animals

2008 (may): Will lab-grown meat save the planet?

2009: Pros of petri dish meat (not just ethical)

February 21st, 2009

the evolution of consciousness

These days, some Darwin skeptics are focusing on the human brain. They say a higher power must be involved; otherwise, how could a bunch of cells produce such complicated mental processes as consciousness or subjective experiences? How could something like free will be the result of evolution?

While Darwin skeptics have homed in on this mind-brain problem, most brain scientists say there’s plenty of evidence that mental actions such as consciousness have evolved along with the brain.

More via NPR

Related: Whistling Orangutan Impresses Zoo Researchers

February 21st, 2009

taste your coffee

An article about coffee tasting that I found whilst searching for the explanation of that tingly feeling on the tongue that sometimes accompanies a nice coffee.


Most experts concentrate on three elements Body, Acidity, & Balance.

Body: A coffee’s lipid or “oily” quality creates the tactile sensation of Body or “mouthfeel.”

Acidity: Naturally occurring acids in the beans combine with natural sugars that produce a sweetness that gives certain coffees a sharp pleasing tang or piquancy.

Balance: Think of Balance as a harmony of the many sensations yielded by a fine coffee. A “balanced” coffee is one whose flavor characteristics are all at the proper level for that variety.

A quick note on Acidity: Don’t let the term scare you. Acidity does NOT refer to pH levels discussed in high school chemistry class. It is not like hydrochloric acid or stomach acid. Instead, it is a basic taste sensation in coffee, especially those coffees grown in higher altitudes. You’ll notice a coffee’s acidity at every facet of tasting, but especially in a tingling sensation on your tongue. Acidity produces some of the pleasurable and distinctive sensations we enjoy when tasting coffee.


February 20th, 2009

Charles Darwin Tagged You in a Note on Facebook

Facebook as a way to examine how culture evolves to fit a niche, via Slate:

Last week, I enlisted Slate readers to help divine how Facebook’s “25 Random Things About Me” trend got started. More than 3,000 of you responded, answering queries on when you first saw a “25 Things” note, when you were first tagged, and when (if ever) you wrote your own note. On one level, the survey was a failure: I had hoped to find the trend’s Patient Zero, but there’s likely no single person who conceived of this scheme. But the absence of a singular “25 Things” creator reveals something much more interesting: Facebook organisms are not created by intelligent design. They evolve.

Read article: Slate.

February 20th, 2009



via myspinningwheels:

Karl Blossfeldt (1865-1932), a German artist and professor, captured these ‘art forms in nature’ and used them to instruct his students.

See more.

February 19th, 2009

a rock, a river, a tree

The Rock Cries Out to Us Today by Maya Angelou, written for the 1993 inauguration of U.S. President Bill Clinton.

A Rock, A River, A Tree
Hosts to species long since departed,
Mark the mastodon.
The dinosaur, who left dry tokens
Of their sojourn here
On our planet floor,
Any broad alarm of their of their hastening doom
Is lost in the gloom of dust and ages.
But today, the Rock cries out to us, clearly, forcefully,
Come, you may stand upon my
Back and face your distant destiny,
But seek no haven in my shadow.
I will give you no hiding place down here.
You, created only a little lower than
The angels, have crouched too long in
The bruising darkness,
Have lain too long
Face down in ignorance.
Your mouths spelling words
Armed for slaughter.
The rock cries out today, you may stand on me,
But do not hide your face.
Across the wall of the world,
A river sings a beautiful song,
Come rest here by my side.
Each of you a bordered country,
Delicate and strangely made proud,
Yet thrusting perpetually under siege.
Your armed struggles for profit
Have left collars of waste upon
My shore, currents of debris upon my breast.
Yet, today I call you to my riverside,
If you will study war no more.
Come, clad in peace and I will sing the songs
The Creator gave to me when I
And the tree and stone were one.
Before cynicism was a bloody sear across your brow
And when you yet knew you still knew nothing.
The river sings and sings on.
There is a true yearning to respond to
The singing river and the wise rock.
So say the Asian, the Hispanic, the Jew,
The African and Native American, the Sioux,
The Catholic, the Muslim, the French, the Greek,
The Irish, the Rabbi, the Priest, the Sheikh,
The Gay, the Straight, the Preacher,
The privileged, the homeless, the teacher.
They hear. They all hear
The speaking of the tree.
Today, the first and last of every tree
Speaks to humankind. Come to me, here beside the river.
Plant yourself beside me, here beside the river.
Each of you, descendant of some passed on
Traveller, has been paid for.
You, who gave me my first name,
You Pawnee, Apache and Seneca,
You Cherokee Nation, who rested with me,
Then forced on bloody feet,
Left me to the employment of other seekers–
Desperate for gain, starving for gold.
You, the Turk, the Swede, the German, the Scot…
You the Ashanti, the Yoruba, the Kru,
Bought, sold, stolen, arriving on a nightmare
Praying for a dream.
Here, root yourselves beside me.
I am the tree planted by the river,
Which will not be moved.
I, the rock, I the river, I the tree
I am yours–your passages have been paid.
Lift up your faces, you have a piercing need
For this bright morning dawning for you.
History, despite its wrenching pain,
Cannot be unlived, and if faced with courage,
Need not be lived again.
Lift up your eyes upon
The day breaking for you.
Give birth again
To the dream.
Women, children, men,
Take it into the palms of your hands.
Mold it into the shape of your most
Private need. Sculpt it into
The image of your most public self.
Lift up your hearts.
Each new hour holds new chances
For new beginnings.
Do not be wedded forever
To fear, yoked eternally
To brutishness.
The horizon leans forward,
Offering you space to place new steps of change.
Here, on the pulse of this fine day
You may have the courage
To look up and out upon me,
The rock, the river, the tree, your country.
No less to Midas than the mendicant.
No less to you now than the mastodon then.
Here on the pulse of this new day
You may have the grace to look up and out
And into your sister’s eyes,
Into your brother’s face, your country
And say simply
Very simply
With hope
Good morning.

February 19th, 2009

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February 19th, 2009

2m plastic bottles


Above: Chris Jordan’s piece “Plastic Bottles” depicting 2m plastic bottles — the amount used by Americans every 5 minutes. Below, a close-up.


This is taken from the treehugger article: top 5 environmental artists shaking up the art world.

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