Friday, December 23, 2011

SOPA isn't just a question of principle - it matters

Congress is considering censoring the internet.  And already the government has shut down websites without a fair trial. A company decides it doesn't like a website, and tells the government to kill it.  And the government does.  Without a judge, without even being given the chance to tell your side of the story.

It's bullshit. And could get much, much worse if the bill becomes law.  The only silver lining is it might fall in the courts because it silences free speech.  But it would be better if Congress realized they shouldn't break the internet.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Congressional Redistricting

The end of this video is amazing.  I was casually watching it and amused by their explanations of different tactics politicians use to gerrymander, but when I saw Cleveland, Ohio's congressional district, I was shocked. And the other examples are equally horrible.  You can skip to the end here.  Reminds me of the Redistricting Game.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Lip reading Rick Perry

This is the best video Bad Lip Reading has ever produced.  And the best parody of Rick Perry ever.

Friday, December 16, 2011

SOPA - Congress wants to break the internet

Not only is Congress planning on passing a law that would give the government the power to shut down any website they don't like without a trial, the members of Congress voting on the law clearly don't understand what they're voting on.

SOPA is a bill that would give the government to shut down any website that is suspected of piracy.  Without a hearing, without a trial.  Gone.

Copyright is already weighted unfairly towards corporations.  But this goes way too far, giving them the power to silence people they don't like, whether actually guilty of lawbreaking or not.

I'm glad my Senator, Ron Wyden, is opposing this bill.  I hope yours is too.  You can write them or call them to tell them to oppose it.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Bankruptcy holds no stigma for corporations

This columnist makes a good point about how we think it's wrong for people to walk away from debts they can pay, but giant corporations get praised for doing the same thing.  I do lean towards being mad at the corporations rather than thinking we should excuse everyone who walks away from their house.
Bankruptcy is an important part of our government - debtor's prison is not the way to go.  But if corporations are people we should give them the stink-eye for elective bankruptcy.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Gift comedy

I got my wife a present.  It's kind of large and bulky.  I wrapped it in a big box.  She was moving it around the floor last night, as we decorated the tree.  She complained about how much work it was to move the big boat around the room.

The present is not a boat.  But I thought it would be funny to pretend that she had just guessed what the present was.  So I put a look of fear on my face and said, "What?  Boat?  How did you..."  She then took the bait, and as I protested that maybe I was acting and it wasn't actually a boat, she would have none of it.  She was giggling at how hilarious it was that I couldn't keep a secret. And although she never reads this (no one does now, probably, after my months of silence), I'm not going to tell you what it is either.  Except it's not a boat.

She is going to be surprised on Christmas.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Thanks for frost keeping thieves away!

Last night we got a christmas tree.  (It fell down today.  Grr.)

Our tiny car doesn't have a rack, so we roll down the windows and close the doors to tie it to the roof.  I climbed inside the window rather than try to squeeze through an almost closed door.

This morning the driver's side window was still rolled down.  The lock was locked, but that didn't matter.  Luckily, it was cold last night.  All the other windows had a thick coat of frost.  And the hoodlums who previously stole our car radio didn't take it last night.  When it would have been slightly easier than last time.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Temporarily free from the cell phone shackle

I forgot my phone at home today.  It's kind of great.  I actually watch where I'm walking and enjoy the view instead of trying to catch up on email.  I have to look at clocks to know what time it is and instead of killing boredom with a quick game at any dull moment, I took opportunities to try to think deeply.

I should probably have a phone sabbath every once in a while.  Like once a month.  Once a week seems crazy.

Monday, October 24, 2011

The TSA and QR codes

I just took a trip for work.  I saw the dumbest thing: a sign at the TSA checkpoint with a bar code on it.  They invited me to scan the code with my phone to see a video explaining security procedures to kids.  Right in front of the X-ray machine and metal detector.

I'm pretty sure if I had whipped out my phone and turned it back on, they would have been kind of grumpy about me taking a photo of the security checkpoint.  Not to mention the timing of watching a video about kids and shoes and xrays right before the xray machine.

I'm not the only one who thinks this is dumb. Luckily, those other folks took pictures of the signs in action, so you can see what they look like.  (Although these aren't the one I saw.)

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Awesome car decal

I saw this in my neighborhood recently. A friend actually took this photo, and I stole it. I think it's by far the best car decal ever.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Extreme Organizing

Robert Krulwich has a post about a Swiss artist who is more anal than anyone in the history of fussiness.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Shakespeare impressionism

You've probably seen this guy already, but his rendition of a speech from Richard III as several dozen different celebrities is pretty amazing. There are a few weak impressions, but mostly disturbingly uncanny. (And all better than I can do.)

Monday, August 15, 2011

Are Facebook birthday greetings really that good?

I disagree with Virginia Heffernan's column yesterday about birthday messages on Facebook. She thinks it's nice that people are reminded to send you birthday greetings by our corporate overlords. I'm unimpressed.

Now, I'm not going to argue, as her straw man does, that what matters is that you should remember a birthday with a note on paper. Or the power of your Bhagavad Gita remembering mind. I'm supportive of using new technology to augment our mental capacity. Plato's character complaining about how kids these days can't remember epic poetry can suck it.

But for me, people posting "Happy Birthday!!!!!" on my Facebook wall just shows me that they logged on to Facebook. When 50 people don't communicate with me on Facebook or any other way (email, phone, in person) 364 days of the year, then suddenly appear to be glad that I'm alive, it reveals the shallowness of a Facebook "friend". If you post that you saw a punctuation error you thought I'd appreciate, or just send me a link to a cool video, that shows more knowledge of me as a person, and indicates more friendship than letting Facebook remind you to tell me HAPPY BIRTHDAY. It's not about whether you remember my birthday or not, with or without mechanical aids. It's about whether you remember who I am. (And I'm ok if you have some sort of notes that assist you in that, too.)

I don't mind when people shower me with hollow affection. But I find deeper interactions more meaningful.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Spoilers make stories better!

A researcher asked people (aka college undergraduate psychology students) to read some short stories, but some of the students had a spoiler paragraph at the beginning that revealed the twist in the story.

Surprisingly, people rated the spoiled stories as more enjoyable. When you know there's a secret, you can read the story and see the hints coming. I think we still enjoy being surprised sometimes, but we are more able to see the quality of writing when we know more of the details. Having a story "spoiled" makes the first time reading it like reading it a second time.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Video games ARE making us smarter

Good news for Stephen Johnson: video games are in fact making us smarter.

Studies show that IQ scores have been steadily increasing over the last few decades. Part of this increase can be attributed to better schools and nutrition, but even well-educated and well-fed people do better solving puzzles than they did 50 years ago.

One likely reason? Video games. Lots and lots of people spend leisure time solving 3D mazes, intricate puzzles and logic problems, and doing other things that IQ tests challenge you to do.

Not that increases in IQ scores are necessarily good. But video games are changing our brains.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Birth Control must be covered

I'm not stating my opinion, but a new rule. Starting a year from now, healthcare companies must provide birth control with no copay or other fee. It's about time.

The only argument against this preventative medicine is a religious objection to people having sex. Those who don't like this new rule will lie and say that birth control pills cause abortions - they don't.

This is why electing Obama mattered. Healthcare reform is happening, and it's making a difference.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Krugman, media bias and extremism

Paul Krugman's column today perfectly describes my worries about politics in the US today. The media always describe a debate between two sides as though both sides are reasonable, even if one is not. So there's no penalty for extremism, unreasonableness, or even lying.

I worry there's no way to correct the problem. Over the last 30 years, Republicans have steadily moved the bar, demanding more and more cuts to government. Unless it's the military, or funding for other industries they like.

I don't see how the pendulum will ever swing the other way. I fear President Obama will lose reelection in 2012. And I consider moving to Canada.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Debt Limit

I'm trying to not get depressed about the whole debt limit thing. But occasionally I get angry with the hypocrisy of the Republican't position.

Yes, our level of debt is unsustainable. But it got that way thanks to Reagan and W. Bush. The deficits were huge under them. Clinton eliminated deficits, creating surpluses, and started paying off our debt. Bush wasted that progress, spending money on tax cuts, wars and prescription drugs (for seniors, not himself). Where the hell were all these whiners when Republican presidents were raising the debt limit, 17 times under Reagan and 7 times under Bush?

I start to wonder if all this crap is because President Obama is black. It's probably just because he's a Democrat, but sometimes I think it's racist, too. We'll see if they fix something or just crash the economy. I'm glad I have a fixed rate mortgage.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Stupid funny

I saw the ad on the Google home page today. So I clicked on it and typed in "your mom" as a joke.

I was amused for way too long by what appeared. tee hee.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011


Someone spent a year making a Lego version of Wall*E that can transform from a cube into a moving robot.

Friday, July 15, 2011

We may be biologically programmed to like what we buy

You surely know that people who buy a product become fans of that product. (Usually, unless that product really stinks.) We end up with the Mac vs. PC argument, Coke vs. Pepsi, even our political polarization.

It turns out that not only do normal people do this, but even people with amnesia who can't remember choosing. Psychologists had students and amnesia patients choose between two different posters, and both groups had stronger preferences later after making a choice. Even if they couldn't remember the first choice at all.

Not only that, but they see the same behaviour in monkeys. After choosing between different colored M&Ms, monkeys start to prefer the color they chose and dislike the color they previously rejected.

I'm not sure what this all means, but clearly my increased excitement about science will persist even after I don't remember this particular study.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Ronald Reagan was hooked on heroin

This is an example of what you can do with good editing.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Copyright Irony

As all the fanatic copyright nerds out there already know, a company called Righthaven sued several bloggers for linking to articles while quoting from them briefly. They lost their trial, because it turns out they didn't own the rights to the articles they were suing about.

But now the head of the company has posted to a blog, quoting from several other articles. Committing the exact offense he was suing other people for. Really.

This is why I'm a supporter of the Electronic Frontier Foundation. They fight back against jerks like these, and they explain the details of these issues, so I can understand how ironic that blog post is.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Samuel Jackson reading children's book

This book is gleefully obscene and honest. And the casting of Samuel Jackson for the reader is perfect.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Google Guitar Doodle is neat

I just learned, watching these videos, that you can use your keyboard to play the Google Guitar.

That makes it easier to play real music, like Stand By Me or Hey Jude:

Saturday, May 28, 2011

NYSE lawyers are dumb

The New York Stock Exchange has threatened a website for posting a picture of the floor of the stock exchange in a story about business. They claim that they own the trademark of the stock exchange, and thus any copyright of any image of their place of business.

Because I think this is dumb, I'm reposting the picture in question. And another one I found of the same stock exchange. While I suppose the NYSE is technically private property, they conduct business that is significant enough to the rest of society that the same rules should apply to them as to a public figure. If a photographer was legally allowed to be present to take a photo, the location in the photo does not have authority over where the photo is published. The photographer does. The photograph below is public domain, and anyone should be allowed to publish it. The only person with the right to tell me to take down the photo above is the photographer and his/her agents.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Missing universe mass found!

A student has discovered where some of the mass missing from the universe is! There are thin filaments of matter sticking out from the galaxies, wisps and tendrils of stardust that are skinny and hard to see, but apparently very heavy.

I knew we'd find it somewhere. Just harder to find missing stuff when there's no couch cushions to look under.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Best Optical Illusions

There's a contest for the best optical illusions of the year.

Below is first place. Second place (on the page linked above) is also awesome.

The dots keep changing color continuously, but when they move you focus on movement and not color change. It's unlikely that a lion trying to eat you is going to change color, so it's good we evolved this way, but interesting nonetheless.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

12:01 pm

I just learned about an Oscar-nominated short film, which sure seems to be the inspiration for Groundhog Day - 12:01 pm. The producers of Groundhog Day never admitted to knowing about this film, but the concept is identical. Except instead of repeating a whole day, this guy is trapped in a single hour. And the Dad from That 70's Show does a great job.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Geographic information density

Some guy analyzed all the GPS coordinates for all the articles in Wikipedia, and figured out what areas have the most cultural density.

Florence, Italy has the most articles in a 1 km radius, while London tops the list for 10 km and 100 km radii.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Fingerprint scanner works from 2m away

An inventor has developed a system that can scan fingerprints from 2 meters away.

It uses 2 digital cameras and polarized light somehow to be able to pick up the ridges on your finger. The prototype takes 4 second per finger, but I'm sure in a year you can wave hello to a door and have it open.

Now, does the software make sure your hand is attached to your body? I doubt it.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

NEA says video games can be art

Not that they've declared existing commercial video games are art, but in their latest grant proposal solicitation, the National Endowment for the Arts has included "interactive games" in their list of possible media.

If Roger Ebert were dead, he'd turn over in his grave. His narrow-minded, lack of historical perspective, grave.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Machine of Death

I just finished a book called The Machine of Death, and it's awesome.

It's about a future where someone invents a machine that can tell you how you're going to die. With around 30 different short stories exploring that concept. Some of those stories are still haunting me. And some of them are hilarious and even adorable.

The machine had been invented a few years ago: a machine that could tell, from just a sample of your blood, how you were going to die. It didn’t give you the date and it didn’t give you specifics. It just spat out a sliver of paper upon which were printed, in careful block letters, the words DROWNED or CANCER or OLD AGE or CHOKED ON A HANDFUL OF POPCORN. It let people know how they were going to die.

The problem with the machine is that nobody really knew how it worked, which wouldn’t actually have been that much of a problem if the machine worked as well as we wished it would. But the machine was frustratingly vague in its predictions: dark, and seemingly delighting in the ambiguities of language. OLD AGE, it had already turned out, could mean either dying of natural causes, or shot by a bedridden man in a botched home invasion. The machine captured that old-world sense of irony in death — you can know how it’s going to happen, but you’ll still be surprised when it does.

You can get a PDF of the book for free off the website, and even listen to a podcast of people reading the stories. My personal favorite is probably DESPAIR, although NOT WAVING BUT DROWNING is also awesome, as is NOTHING.


Sunday, May 15, 2011

Ikea manuals of awesome

I really like the parody Ikea manuals for sci-fi devices.

I wish I had more to say. They're hilarious.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Super nerdy starcraft video

This video is all about Starcraft 2. And a parody of Justin Bieber.

I'd like it better if it weren't stuck in my head. Stupid Canadian Bieber.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Robots Evolve Altruism

Yes, robots can learn to share.

Some scientists set up a robot arena where robots compete for "food". The programs of the robots evolve, mimicking natural evolution. Whichever robots get the most food have the most copies of them made; lather, rinse, repeat. After a few generations, some robots started sharing food with other robots. Ones that are "related" to them, having similar programming.

Exactly as predicted by the theory of evolution. Awesome.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The difference between poisons and toxins

I just learned the technical difference between things that are poisonous and things that are toxic.

Toxins are produced biologically, where as poisons are anything that kills you. (Venom being a toxin injected through a bite or sting.) Behold my glorious Venn diagram.

So snake venom is a poisonous toxin, ricin is a toxin and a poison but not a venom, and arsenic is just poisonous.

Since latex is produced biologically, it’s both a toxin and a poison.


Saturday, April 23, 2011

Rube Goldberg world record

Wow. This rube goldberg machine is awesome. Not as majestic as the OK Go one, but far more delicate and complicated. And allegedly they set the world record for most complicated rube goldberg machine.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Disney copyright montage

I have amazing respect for whoever made this. It's a short primer on copyright law (much better than YouTube's new one), made entirely out of short clips from Disney films. It's about copyright law, demonstrating fair use, and it's meta. It's a dream come true for me.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Lego robot amazement

One guy made a Lego ATM. Including a bill scanner that rejects money put in the wrong way.

Another guy started by making one flexpicker out of Lego:

And then made a whole system featuring 4 of them! Wow!

Ten things I hate about commandments

Fantastically hilarious trailer for the Ten Commandments, spun as high school teen flick.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

"Meatloaf" style parody of Friday

This video expresses how I feel about the song Friday. Although I think the analysis of the Bob Dylan cover is hilarious - imagining that the terrible lyrics would become profound if Dylan wrote them.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Vegans angry about photos of meat

Many vegans are outraged at a website for showing photos of meat and dairy and claiming that they're photos of vegan food.

I suppose their ideological purity does extend to not producing animal products to take pictures of them. But the images in question came from a clipart website. The photos had already been made. Republishing them doesn't hurt the animals further. (Although it does send 1/4 of a penny to the photographer, rewarding them for their evil, evil cheeseburger manipulation.)

The publisher did apologize: “We’re going to make an effort to publish nothing but vegan photography.”

Friday, April 15, 2011

Gaming as philosophical fad?

I think there's a lot to learn from how we learn in games. James Gee and others are developing critical ideas about games - game studies growing to the same level of analysis that film studies has achieved. I think there's a lot of insight being developed into how games work, why we find them engaging and enjoyable, and even how that can play out in the rest of our lives - how we can understand motivation and economics using game mechanics.

However, I realized that people who see everything as a game (which includes me) are probably historically myopic. This new technology has opened our eyes to a facet of the world, and it's exciting and will help us understand our minds better. But I predict that 200 years from now my obsession with games and learning will look similar to Descartes' obsession with the circulatory system. When he was working, the circulation of blood was a brand new discovery. And it does help us understand not only our biology but other systems as well (water cycle, nutrient cycles, etc). But it's not the one model to explain everything. And neither are games. Sigh. I guess life will still be complicated and challenging 200 years from now.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Programming is kind of like Theatre

As I think about parts of my job that I like and don't like, I realized that working with websites and software has something in common with theater. In both fields, you try something, and it almost certainly won't work the first time. You try again and again, getting better and fixing problems as you go. (Try, fail. Try again, fail better.)

There are huge differences. Computer programs work exactly the same way every time, where theater is slightly different every time. But other details - planning ahead before you really get into the work can save you a ton of time, you can always make it better if you have more time to work - are also similar.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Software patents are dumb

I knew there were problems with software patents, but this article outlines just how bad it is. In the software industry, standard practice is to break the law. Because there are thousands of bad patents out there, so you can't help but violate them. And the big companies are collaborating with the patent trolls instead of fighting them. At least the EFF is fighting back, but it's an uphill battle.

On the negative side, Halliburton actually filed a patent on how to create a company to make money filing stupid patents. Bastards.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Quark - German sour cream

In german class, I learned about Quark, a dairy product. Our teacher couldn't explain what it is. Is it cheese? No. Is it yogurt? No.

My lovely wife got me some for my birthday. It's sort of like sour cream, and sort of like ricotta cheese. Tangy, sour and granular.

Another mystery solved. Now if only I can taste some marsh mallow. Apparently the Egyptians used it as a tea.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Music video I've been trying to remember for months

I'm sure no one else cares about this, but this video from the 90s of 3 kids in a school play has been in the back of my head for months. Thanks to NPR, I finally remembered it.

And the Weird Al version.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Google Books settlement rejected by judge

I don't know how I feel about the judge rejecting the Google Books settlement. The settlement proposed had a lot to be concerned about, with publishers attacking the public domain, with Google profiting exclusively from the public domain, and not allowing old books to enter the public domain.

I guess it's a case of wait and see. Google and the publishers could make good changes to the settlement. The judge certainly criticizes the bad parts of the agreement. Hopefully this is good news.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

History of Memory

Amazing article in the New York Times about memorizing vast amounts of material. In particular, I was fascinated to know that the Romans wrote a book about memorizing, back in the day when memorizing was an important skill since books were rare and labor-intensive.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Apple censorship - who do you choose?

Apple's App Store chooses what content to approve and what not to approve. They're a private company, so they have that right. Although their choice to disapprove political satire until they were called on it was questionable.

But now they face further difficulties in deciding what to approve and what to reject. Apple approved an app by a group that tries to turn gay people straight. Then thousands objected. Now the app has been removed. Apple has tried to market itself as the Disney of computers, offering a safe space for families to play with computers, specifically not allowing porn. (Except for Sports Illustrated...) They are trying to be everything to everyone, and had to choose between their Christian market and the gay rights market. I'm glad they chose the latter, but it's the sort of choice you end up making when you approve and disapprove content.

Like the choice of whether to host apps that help drivers avoid police checkpoints. The US Senate called on Apple to remove all such apps, saying they encourage drunk driving. The 3rd party developers who write those apps argue that they discourage drunk driving, but that's what they're going to say in front of senators. I think I should be allowed to take a photo of a police officer, even post it with geotags that show when and where I took it. It seems like someone should be allowed to collate that information to see where police are and aren't, but you can definitely see why criminals would find that information useful. (Although when the app developers are collating information made public by police departments on their websites, I'm a little confused why the police are complaining about the extra dissemination.)

Friday, March 25, 2011

Sony suing its customers

Sony has quite a history of suing its customers. Which is unfortunate because part of their work is creating cool technology that enables creativity.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Rich people have ALL the money

This was always true, but it's gotten way more true over the last 30 years. When rich people complain about class warfare, I think it's because they like winning and don't want that to stop.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Hacking wi-fi easier than ever

Wireless internet has never been secure. When you go to a website on a wireless connection, your password (for email, facebook, whatever) has theoretically been available for anyone nearby to detect.

But it just got a lot easier. Hackers released software that makes it easy for anyone to spy on internet communication and pick up passwords. Luckily, a password protected wireless connection is secure, and a website that uses encryption is also protected.

But a lot of websites aren't.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Archie: The Movie

Thank you Vancouver, Canada. Thank you for your cinematic hilarity.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Bookcase animation

We did this with my wife's books, but we didn't make animation while doing it.

Of course, she was moving in with me, so we had other stuff to do besides spend half a day making a movie.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Ridiculous optical illusion

I just saw an optical illusion that was hard to believe was an illusion. The "blue" and "green" in the spiral below are actually the same color. REALLY.

What's even more amazing about this illusion is that it fools software too. The color blindness software I posted about yesterday translates this illusion into the colors we perceive, not the colors that are actually there. In fact, so does image compression software. This "bug" might reveal something interesting about how human sight actually works.

Double Wow.

Monday, February 21, 2011

smartphone app for colorblindness

Dan Kaminsky has created an amazing app that can translate colors into things the colorblind can see!

The Dan Kam "quantizes color", collapsing complicated color spectra into 7 isolated colors. Like lasers for real life. It makes red and green single colors instead of broad ranges. And the two particular colors it uses are different in enough ways that someone who's red-green colorblind can tell them apart!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Las Palmas

Some Swedish guy shot a short film of a baby gorging herself in a restaurant. It's hilarious!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The Majestic Plastic Bag

This documentary is very short, but so beautiful. And majestic.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Awesome lighting design

This is crazy awesome. Not very practical for decorating or even theatrical design, but still a fantastic use of light.

Living Room from Mr.Beam on Vimeo.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Google catches Microsoft copying them

Google thought Microsoft's new search engine was copying their results.

So they set up some gibberish search terms and did some searches, and noticed that Microsoft's results updated to replicate what Google did.


Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Balloons in Space!

Two blokes at the University of Sheffield sent a videocamera into space for less than $1000.

So cool. Very cool, in fact - they had to make a styrofoam box to keep the camera warm enough to continue operating.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

3D will never fly

Walter Murch is a badass. One of the best film editors on Earth (Apocalypse Now, Cold Mountain), great sound editor, oscar winner, smart guy. And guy whose experience in a classical radio station library still blows my mind. [28 minutes into that linked podcast.]

He thinks 3D movies will never work. (And he edited Captain Eo, one of the best 3D short movies.) His point is that in real life, our eyes point at objects AND focus on them. But in 3D movies, 3D tricks us to point at things that aren't there, but we have to focus on a screen that's further away than the illusory object our eyes are pointing at.

3D just breaks the way we see, and will never, no matter how good the technology, be a convincing way to see things. It's an interesting trick, but will never displace 2D screens.

Nintendo and others hope he's wrong, but I think he's right. 3D TV and movies are like the internet refrigerator and the video telephone. We don't want it because it doesn't align with who we are.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Nathan Fillion is awesome

Not only does the script of his new show Castle occasionally feature references to Firefly, but he worked in a gesture.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Placebo Side Effects

This guy (bloke) tells an amazing science story about how placebos can actually cause negative side effects if you think they will. For example, pacemakers work after implantation but before they're turned ON.

And if you're my mom, you want to skip over the first 30 seconds and stop at 5:10, because he throws in some random cursing. (There's some mild cursing during as well, but it's meaningful and not random.)

Monday, January 17, 2011

Axe Cop

Written by a 5 year old. Drawn by his 29 year old brother. Axe Cop. (Who answers your questions in the most awesome way possible.)

Now a video, narrated by a really good narrator.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Girl killed in Arizona attacks born on Sep. 11

I just learned that Christina Green, the 9 year old girl killed by the crazy person in Arizona, was born on September 11, 2001.

Even though I know that's a coincidence, it's still spooky.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Thunderstorms make antimatter

Yes. Thunderstorms create antimatter.

And not just trace amounts of it. Jets of it, shooting out into space. Electrical storms whip up fountains of positrons that bombard our satellites.

Science is awesome. As are the pictures in the article I linked to.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Hate speech leads to hateful acts

Unfortunately, I wasn't shocked by the shooting in Arizona. Because the amount of violent rhetoric in our body politic has created an environment where this isn't surprising.

Paul Krugman wrote exactly what I've been thinking. Just as months of violent speech against Muslims culminated in violent acts, so too has years of violent, racist speech attacking Latin Americans resulted in a violent act.

I'm not talking about calling Obama a socialist or a communist or even Hitler. You can hate his actions as irrationally as you wish. But when you call for "second amendment solutions" or put crosshairs on a map or talk of watering the tree of liberty with blood, you are suggesting violence. And it's wrong. When we still HAVE freedom of speech and free elections, there is no justification for violent attacks on the government. I can respect the choice of anti-apartheid South Africans for choosing to use violence against a truly repressive regime. But this is evil - this is how regimes like South Africa's get started.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Political Hypocrisy

Paul Krugman put into concentrated form something I've been thinking for a while: Republicans are total hypocrites about deficits. They hate them when Democrats are in charge, but they don't mind them at all when they create them.

You can say many things about the new British government, but the Conservatives there actually walk their talk. They said they would cut spending to balance the budget, and they did. I feel like our Republican't party is insane, demanding government cut back and keep its hands off Medicare. Maybe they have an evil plan behind it all, but I think there's just a focus on loyalty and fighting to win and not any long-term view at all.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Library dreams

I had a dream last night of a strange library. I have the strongest sense of deja vu, that I've had the dream before.

I dreamt that there's a reading room inside a library that you have to climb a ladder to get to. But before the ladder is a narrow hallway - vertically so narrow you have to get down on your stomach and shimmy through it. Awkward and uncomfortable and claustrophobic.

My college library had lots of cool, weird rooms. But I'm pretty sure nothing like this. Yet much more mundane and with outdated upholstery and furnishings than in a Harry Potter school library.


I actually went online and looked at floor plans of the libraries at my college, to make sure I'm not weirdly remembering something. I'm not. I wonder what book-spelunking would symbolize to Freud.