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.