Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Radical Muslims do not attend mosque more than general population

From the book, Who Speaks for Islam?:

When asked why they supported the [9/11] attacks, the radicals [7% of Muslims surveyed] gave political rather than religious reasons. They have a sense of political frustration and feel humiliated and threatened by the West. Those who opposed the attacks often gave religious reasons for doing so.

Build and customize your own PBX with Asterisk

You know, like at the office where one can switch a call to many phones.

Some fruit juices block absorption of some drugs

Blocking the transporter reduced drug absorption and neutralized its potential benefits, the researchers said.

So far, grapefruit, orange and apple juices have been shown to lower the absorption of medications including:

  • Etoposide, an anticancer agent.
  • Certain beta blockers (atenolol, celiprolol, talinolol) used to treat high blood pressure and prevent heart attacks.
  • Cyclosporine, a drug taken to prevent rejection of transplanted organs.
  • Certain antibiotics (ciprofloxacin, levofloxacin, itraconazole).

Monday, April 13, 2009

Weird Easter traditions from around the world

Surely the strangest Easter custom takes places in the Czech Republic, Hungary and Slovakia, where there is a tradition of spanking or whipping women on Easter Monday. Males throw water at females and spank them with handmade whips made of willow and decorated with ribbons at the end. The spanking is supposed to be symbolic and according to legend, females should be spanked in order to keep their health and beauty during the next year.

Friday, January 02, 2009

Thursday, January 01, 2009

People in some countries can't form neat, orderly lines

Though seemingly chaotic and unnecessary to those of us in the "West", the truth might be that these "mobs" actually work. Their structure-- or lack of it-- rewards those who want the ticket or item the most, and only displeases those who weren't industrious (or ruthless) enough to work their way up to the front. This is a form of price discrimination in which those who were willing to "pay" the most, in this case with time and effort, are rewarded, while those who weren't, aren't.

Barack Obama on evil

Because a lot of evil has been perpetrated based on the claim that we were trying to confront evil, in the name of good. And I think one thing that’s very important is having some humility in recognizing that just because we think our intentions are good doesn’t mean we are going to be doing good.

Lifesaver water bottle purifies in seconds

In 20 seconds, actually, and reduces heavy metals too.

... but the Lifesaver uses microscopic pores a mere 15 nanometers across — about one-hundredth the width of a spider’s silk — narrow enough to stop the tiniest threats. That means virtually nothing — not even bacteria and viruses — can get through.

Believing we have no free will leads to less moral behavior

Well, facilitated cheating on some arithmetic problems for a psych test, but just extrapolate...

Getmooh -- receive a ring and a message on your phone

Need to get a phone prompt to possibly get out of a situation?

Being on the Pill could make women choose the wrong mate

Smelling genetic similarity when difference called for while courting:

"Not only could MHC[major histocompatibility complex]-similarity in couples lead to fertility problems," said lead researcher Stewart Craig Roberts, an evolutionary psychologist at the University of Newcastle in England, "but it could ultimately lead to the breakdown of relationships when women stop using the contraceptive pill, as odor perception plays a significant role in maintaining attraction to partners."

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The "website" is down: moronic sales guy vs. tech support

IT Guy Vs Dumb Employees - Watch more Entertainment

Beef tongue flavor seems to have done well at Yokohama ice cream festival

More than 125 varieties of ice cream have been available in the two week festival, including cheese, octopus, prawn and a garlic variety called Dracula Premium Ice.

Preventing drug-associated memory reconsolidation

By blocking NMDA receptors. The mice did not frantically search for drugs upon a stimulus light.

Some wisdom from Maya Angelou

I've learned that you can tell a lot about a person by the way he/she handles these three things: a rainy day, lost luggage, and tangled Christmas tree lights.

PC Magazine's top 100 undiscovered websites

Thirteen categories.

A son's diary of Mieneke Weide-Boelkes' final days to euthanasia

Mum's sisters and their husbands are there for a last family dinner, together with Dad, Maarten and me - wearing my expensive new pair of shoes. Mum, even more energetic than the week before, decorates the table lavishly.

My uncles shake their heads with incomprehension. As Mum shows off her china plates, my aunts have distracted looks on their faces.

Whispering to Dad and me in the hallway, they struggle to understand why Mum is choosing to die the next day when she is bouncing around like a 40-year-old instead of a terminally ill 65-year-old. But there is also shock at her fixation on material objects and the little interest she shows in how the people around her actually feel.

For some kids, genes ruling behavior

After years of ignoring those children [environmentally resistant outliers], a few scientists now realize that they are telling us something that promises to revolutionize our understanding of child development. In an echo of "personalized medicine" (matching drugs to people's DNA), scientists are finding that how parents treat their children is filtered through the prism of DNA. Parents may intuit that, as they notice that what worked with one child is failing abysmally with another, but now science is pinpointing exactly what combinations of nature and nurture spell gridlock. It is finally dawning on experts that "individual genetic differences are the 800-pound gorilla of child development," says Jack Shonkoff, director of the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University. "The promise of genomics is that you will be able to tailor experiences as we tailor drugs."

Greatest black superheroes

The comic universe sure is much larger than just the movies that come out. This is Bishop from the X-men storyline.

Differently mapped brains

Post-stroke in this case; once language began being reacquired, a different accent emerged:

'Slowly I started to talk more. It felt different physically in my mouth to the way it did before the stroke and my accent turned from Italian to French. When I bumped into old friends and started speaking, they thought I was taking the mickey.

'When I went back to work six months later, I visited each client face to face as they wouldn't have believed it was me on the phone.

'Now I can hold a steady, fluent conversation, but I still sound French. The doctors aren't sure if my English accent will ever return. But I really don't mind - having thought I would never speak again, I am grateful just to be able to talk.'

Child labor in Africa's gold mines

One-fifth of the world's gold from such labor.

Many are girls who begin as apprentice panners as young as 4 and become full-time workers by age 10. Teenage boys work the shafts, descending with flashlights tied around their necks to hack ore from the rock. Lancei Conde, the regional administrator of Kankan, said children work at all the bush mines in Guinea.

The matriarchal Mosuo of southwestern China

Women own property and determine family relationships. But this so-called free-love society is under threat from modernization.
Short National Geographic video shows a guy who is permitted to see his son.

Marks of a con willing to overlook inconsistencies

Once trust has been established:

Indeed, what's notable from the facts that have emerged about Gerhartsreiter [in implying a Rockefeller lineage] is how much he was able to get away with despite playing his roles, in certain ways, rather poorly. People who knew him in his various incarnations have remarked on how his perpetually unwashed clothes and junky cars didn't match up with the story he told about himself. He struck others as plainly ignorant about mores and business matters that someone of his background would know, and he seemed at times to go out of his way to antagonize co-workers and neighbors.

Stopping the overproduction of white blood cells in leukaemia

Work on a drug to attach to the protein has begun:

The GM-CSF hormone - which controls the production of blood cells in the body - works by attaching itself to the receptor proteins, which then send a message into white blood cells telling them to multiply.

When damaged, the protein's messages cause an over-production of cells or cells which persist too long, resulting in diseases such as leukaemia as well as some inflammatory conditions.

The major breakthrough came when the researchers realised the proteins linked together to form networks on the surface of white blood cells after being activated by the hormone, and that by stopping the networks forming they could also stop the growth.

Degree of of disease diversity varies with religious diversity

So, xenophobia generally a healthy response?

Their hypothesis is that in places where disease is rampant, it behoves groups not to mix with one another more than is strictly necessary, in order to reduce the risk of contagion. They therefore predict that patterns of behaviour which promote group exclusivity will be stronger in disease-ridden areas. Since religious differences are certainly in that category, they specifically predict that the number of different religions in a place will vary with the disease load. Which is, as they report in the Proceedings of the Royal Society, the case.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Growth of elder porn in Japan

Geniuses who were just insane

Lord Byron, English poet, 1788-1824:

It began when Byron arrived at Cambridge, where he was ordered to send his dog back home as keeping one was against school rules. Desperate for a pet, Byron scoured college policies for an animal not expressly forbidden. He found no reference to bears.
The bear stayed with Byron in his dorm room. Being a responsible pet owner, Byron took it on regular leashed walks through the university, terrifying fellow students and lecturers. When asked by administration what purpose the bear served on campus, the poet tried in vain to get his beast a fellowship.
More here (including Newton).

Paul Krugman on the possible decline of globalization

Shortly before World War I, Norman Angell... argued [in "The Great Illusion"] that war had become obsolete, that in the modern industrial era even military victors lose far more than they gain. He was right — but wars kept happening anyway.

Film failures that killed studios

United Artists with Heaven's Gate:

But what if that "war" the film is based on is the Johnson County War, a dispute between land barons and European immigrants in Wyoming. Are you kidding me? I almost fell asleep during that sentence alone, let alone sitting through the movie.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Depraved sex acts from the Bible


Come, let us make our father drink wine, and we will lie with him, that we may preserve seed of our father.

Contagious cancer in Tasmanian devils

Not transmission of viruses which change tissue, but cancer tissue itself being a vector.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Tablet PC as a hammer

It does seem to be a selling point. No embed code, so link will take you to a video.

State of the art bathroom stylin'

This one is Design Vertebrae Odyssey.

Unjust religious afterlives

The Aztecs did not believe your fate was based on whether or not you lived a moral life. Instead, they believed that whichever of the three afterlives you got depended largely on your role in society and the manner of your death. So you could be a total shit who spent their adult life breaking into blind people's houses to move their furniture around, and depending on how you died, you could still find yourself sitting by the side of some god in the late afternoon sun, eating cheese and drinking wine with your feet in the pool.

To end up in the hellish realm of Mictlan, you had to die either from old age or from a disease (with a couple of exceptions). So, if your syphilitic Grandpa kicked the bucket, he'd be cremated along with a dog, which would serve as his guide along the dangerous, treacherous, four-year path to Mictlan.

Can memory save elephants from climate change disruption?

Charles Foley of the Wildlife Conservation Society in New York and colleagues wondered if any of the surviving elephants had remembered the previous drought.

The researchers looked at how the deaths broke down by sex and clan structure. They found that of three clans, two migrated from the region during the drought, presumably to seek food and water. Their strategy seems to have paid off: the groups that left lost five calves between them, whereas the group that stayed lost 11 of its 27 calves.

Cursed movies

The Omen:

An assistant to special effects consultant John Richardson on the other hand, wasn't quite as lucky. On Friday the 13th of August 1976, Richardson crashed his car in Holland. His assistant was sliced through by the car's front wheel. Scrambling out of the wreckage, Richardson looked up and saw a road sign: Ommen, 66.6km.

Urban rooftop windpower does not pay off

... small wind turbines require open, exposed locations that have high wind speeds. These locations are usually found in rural areas, which can produce nine times more wind energy than urban areas.

Bacteria were the real killers in the 1918 flu pandemic

For instance, had a super virus been responsible for most deaths, one might expect people to die fairly rapidly, or at least for most cases to follow a similar progression. However, Shanks and Brundage found that few people died within three days of showing symptoms, while most people lasted more than a week, some survived two – all hallmarks of pneumonia.

Animal tales humor from New Yorker


“Hey, look, the truck’s stopping.”

“Did they take us to the park this time?”

“No—it’s a fire. Another horrible fire.”

“What the hell is wrong with these people?”

The Death of Yugoslavia (part 1 of 6 from BBC)

RoofRay -- checking your solar potential

Rough check using Google Earth.

Flipping domains

In addition to flipping, domainers have other ways of making money from their investments. Most domainers post ads on their Web sites, which can generate a decent monthly income. And Jackson says more and more domainers are teaming up with Web developers to create their own online businesses.

Then there are even more creative arrangements.

"I've leased a domain to the president of Spain," says Adam Dicker, a domainer who owns, a site where domainers chat about industry trends and sell domains to each other. Dicker says the Spanish premier José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero rented his domain,, and used it as the homepage for last spring's presidential campaign. Maybe it helped. Rodriquez Zapatero was re-elected. Notes Dicker, "And he paid a good buck."

Police has no obligation to protect

One day [estranged husband with history of violence] Mack called Ruth to say that he was coming to her house to kill her. Ruth called the police for immediate help. The police department "refused to come to her aid at that time, and asked that she call the department again when Mack Bunnell had arrived." Forty-five minutes later Mack arrived and stabbed Ruth to death. Responding to a neighbor's call, the police eventually came to Ruth's house...after she was dead.

Ruth's estate suid the city police for negligently failing to protect her. The California appeals court held that the City of San Jose was shielded from the negligence suit because of a state statute and because there was no "special relationship" between the police and Ruth—the police had not started to help her, and she had not relied on any promise that the police would help. Case dismissed.


The Supreme Court has held that neither the U.S. Constitution nor the federal civil rights laws rquire states to protect citizens from crime. As one federal appeals court observed, ordinary citizens have:

no constitutional right to be protected by the state against being murdered by criminals or madmen. It is monstrous if the state fails to protect its residents against such predators but it does not violate the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment or, we suppose, any other provision of the Constitution. The Constitution ... does not require the federal government or the state to provide services, even so elementary a service as maintaining law and order.

Being the very medium of pure Mind

Truth be known, it is by clinging to what are Mind's phenomena that we experience only the impermanent, feel only disturbance, and find no self identity — never being fulfilled. In short, the phenomenal world is not the true world; it is born of desire for what is inadequate to Mind.

Zombie animals and the parasites that control them

A female Sacculina begins life adrift in the sea, but when the parasite picks up a crab's scent, it sneaks inside the crab's shell and makes itself at home. Once attached, the barnacle sends root-like tendrils all throughout the crab's body.

Those tendrils allow the parasite to draw nutrients from the crab — and take over its mind. From then on, the crab lives only to serve its master — it no longer molts, mates, or re-grows broken appendages, because those activities would take energy away from the barnacle. And when the parasite is ready to reproduce, the crab — even a male one — will care for the barnacle larvae as its own.

Neurons from skin cells of ALS patients

For study purposes:

In order to perfect these cells for transplantation, scientists will have to come up with a combination of genes or chemicals to induce similar reprogramming events in the skin cells without the use of potentially tumor-causing agents.

The skin cells used in the experiment came from two Columbia patients, one 89 and the other 92. Both patients had a mild form of ALS, but one that is caused by a single genetic mutation. The genetic simplicity of this form of ALS - and the fact that it always inherited - should assure that the neurons produced from these stem cell lines will eventually succumb to the disease.

At this point however, the Eggan group has not yet seen the disease in the dish. "The next step," said Eggan, "is to produce neurons from iPS cells developed from a normal, healthy person, and try to determine what's different about the neurons we have made from the ALS patients."

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Nurikabe -- one weird-ass figure of folklore

Wikipedia says, "the nurikabe is a yokai, or spirit, from Japanese folklore. It manifests as a wall that impedes or misdirects walking travelers at night. Trying to go around is futile as it extends itself forever. Knocking on the lower part of the wall makes it disappear.”

Socialist origins of pledge of allegiance

Excerpted from Cato:

From its inception, in 1892, the Pledge has been a slavish ritual of devotion to the state, wholly inappropriate for a free people. It was written by Francis Bellamy, a Christian Socialist pushed out of his post as a Baptist minister for delivering pulpit-pounding sermons on such topics as "Jesus the Socialist." Bellamy was devoted to the ideas of his more-famous cousin Edward Bellamy, author of the 1888 utopian novel Looking Backward. Looking Backward describes the future United States as a regimented worker's paradise where everyone has equal incomes, and men are drafted into the country's "industrial army" at the age of 21, serving in the jobs assigned them by the state...Bellamy's book inspired a movement of "Nationalist Clubs," whose members campaigned for a government takeover of the economy.

Scientific theories that make our heads explode

Stuff like quantum entanglement and multiverses spelled out only the way Cracked can.

Terrifying things they don't tell you about childbirth

Like episiotomies and alien-shaped heads.

Knights Templar seeking compensation

The Association of the Sovereign Order of the Temple of Christ has launched a court case in Spain, demanding Pope Benedict “recognise” the seizure of assets worth €100bn. The Spanish-based group of Templars apparently says in a statement: "We are not trying to cause the economic collapse of the Roman Catholic Church, but to illustrate to the court the magnitude of the plot against our Order."

Economics of vengeance

Attempting to quantify it:

Naci H. Mocan, an economist at Louisiana State University, gathered information on 89,000 people in 53 countries to draw a map of vengefulness. What he found was that among the most vengeful are women, older people, the poor and residents of high-crime areas.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Drugs create 'marathon mice' who can run for more than two hours

But instead of building muscles, like steroids do, the drugs appeared to "reprogram" the slow-twitch fibres within the muscle, needed for endurance, allowing them to work for longer without feeling tired.

Scientists believe that both drugs, neither of which are available commercially, could be used to treat muscle wasting conditions, such as muscular dystrophy.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Matt Damon concerned about Sarah Palin

Real life Hancocks: homeless heroes

When Portland police officer, Matt Tobey, got into difficulty, only homeless Clinton Whitman came to help. Tobey's head hit the ground again and again as the man on top of him, swearing and grunting, kept hitting him. Whitman, 53, described by Tobey as 'a blessing' and who had been living in a 1977 Lincoln Versailles, parked in a lot, stepped in and pulled the perpetrator from the officer.

Origins of familiar phrases

Meaning: Torrential rain.
Origin: In the days before garbage collection, people tossed their trash in the gutter - including deceased housepets - and it just lay there. When it rained really hard, the garbage, including the bodies of dead cats and dogs, went floating down the street.

Affluent whites moving back into the city

Why has demographic inversion begun? For one thing, the deindustrialization of the central city, for all the tragic human dislocations it caused, has eliminated many of the things that made affluent people want to move away from it. Nothing much is manufactured downtown anymore (or anywhere near it), and that means that the noise and grime that prevailed for most of the twentieth century have gone away.

Most bizzare patron saints

#3. Saint Fiacre: Patron Saint of People with STDs:
As a sacred healer he could cure blindness, leprosy, tumors and more, all by touch. "More" also includes venereal disease. His patronage was assigned to the ailments he healed which means a lot of happy endings for 7th century dongs.

Division of labor more important than comparative advantage

Third, and most importantly, specialization directly increases the rate of technological growth. The more familiar someone gets with a production process, the more likely that person can find a way to improve the production process. This can be anything from finding a more efficient way to line up the machines in a factory to a technological breakthrough in the literal sense.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Expermental drug, Rember, shows promise to halt Alzheimer's progression

Clearing up the clumps?

Two types of brain scans were available on about a third of participants, and they show the drug was active in brain areas most affected by tau tangles, Wischik said.

“This is suggestive data,” not proof, Wischik warned. The company is raising money now for another test of the drug to start next year.

Viva Calaca -- animation celebrating Mexico's Day of the Dead

Commuto -- trade and swap stuff within your community

You can also create your own community and invite all your friends to join. Trading movies, games, books or any other items you may have has never been easier.

MIT breakthrough in storage of electricity

The key component in Nocera and Kanan's new process is a new catalyst that produces oxygen gas from water; another catalyst produces valuable hydrogen gas. The new catalyst consists of cobalt metal, phosphate and an electrode, placed in water. When electricity -- whether from a photovoltaic cell, a wind turbine or any other source -- runs through the electrode, the cobalt and phosphate form a thin film on the electrode, and oxygen gas is produced.

Combined with another catalyst, such as platinum, that can produce hydrogen gas from water, the system can duplicate the water splitting reaction that occurs during photosynthesis.

The new catalyst works at room temperature, in neutral pH water, and it's easy to set up, Nocera said. "That's why I know this is going to work. It's so easy to implement," he said.

How the movie WarGames developed

You could get all the hacker geekiness you wanted just by standing on the set. We were dealing with things like when Matthew sits at the computer, we've got an actor who can't even type. I'd say, "No, I just really want him to type in 'David' and have him get on." They said, "No! You can't do that! You have to go through all these elaborate sequences!" I said, "No, we're not doing that. Audiences will have left the theater by the time he logs into the computer one time."
Interview with director John Badham only here.

Inefficient non-market structures inside corporations sustained by government

But—again—the state’s intervention in the market raises almost insurmountable barriers to this form of organization. The state artificially promotes hierarchy at the expense of markets by subsidizing the input costs of large-scale enterprise and by protecting large corporations against the competitive ill effects of inefficiency. It subsidizes long-distance transportation and thus artificially inflates market and firm size. Its differential tax advantages for corporate debt and capital depreciation (or more accurately, its differential tax penalties on those not engaged in such activities) encourage mergers, acquisitions, and excessively capital-intensive forms of production with high entry costs. Its cartelizing regulations, in addition, limit competition in product features and quality. Thus the boundary between hierarchy and market is artificially shifted so that the dominant firms are far larger, more hierarchical, and more vertically integrated than they would be in a free market.
Argument of harm by intellectual property too.

Tiny mistakes that led to huge catastrophes

On losing a B-2:

... it's just a $1.4 billion aircraft, not like they could have ever guessed it would be flown in a place where there was humidity. We always go to war with dry countries...
When another bomber pulled into Guam earlier this year, on presumably an equally humid day, a different maintenance crew left the wet sensors the way they were. As it turns out, those air sensors feed data to the Stealth Bomber's flight control system. Important data. The kind that keeps Stealth Bombers in the air...
The malfunctioning sensors resulted in a premature take off, a 30-degree nose-towards-the-sky ascent, and...

Using microRNAs rather than proteins to detect cancers

They have found that scraps of genetic material - called microRNAs - that turn genes on and off are released by cancer cells to circulate in the blood, where they can be detected more easily than proteins...
Current technology for developing tests to measure microRNAs in clinical samples is quite advanced, whereas the bottleneck for developing protein-based biomarkers is the slow process of generating assays for measuring specific proteins...

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Costs of war -- dollar tally of Iraq War

$10 000 polo shirt that repels automatic weapon fire

Safety sure is expensive.

Weird and bizarre Japanese soft drinks, part 2

Unagi-Nobori soda is no ordinary energy drink, oh no... this terrific tonic is infused with a generous helping of eel extract. If you think there's something fishy about that, you're unfortunately right.
According to Japanese folk tradition, eating eel is reputed to give one extra energy on summer's hottest, most humid days.

The crap science of Michael Crichton's science fiction

Chaos theory does not mean, without “Chaotician” Malcolm even writing down a single equation, that every complex system will fail. Zoos routinely operate without immediate widespread disaster. A similar analysis of the space shuttle, including the math, indicates it’s too complicated to fly, but it does. Why? Because complicated things can be understood, individual parts can be tested for quality, and feedback control systems don’t let just anything happen. And moreover, chaos theory is about understanding predictable aspects of non-linear systems, not just throwing up your hands and saying “it’s unpredictable!”

Brain that changes itself

Taking plasticity pretty far -- one scientist's answer for the perpetually falling woman:

Bach-y-Rita determined that skin and its touch receptors could substitute for a retina, because both the skin and the retina are two-dimensional sheets, covered with sensory receptors that allow a 'picture' to form on them.

Business of print news

The New York Times is known for its hard news coverage, but he observes that from a business perspective it's primarily a fashion and food publication that runs a small political news operation on the side. One issue of T Magazine, he says, pays for an entire NYT European bureau.

Political psychology -- denying a certain group a rise in relative status

Some on the right wing will stress "individual responsibility" as a value when it lowers the status of the whiners (why whine when it was the victim's own fault?). Some on the left wing will stress "individual responsibility" when it is time to punish corporate wrongdoers and thus lower their status. Not everyone applies (or rejects) this value consistently.

Given this difference in rhetoric, the right wing will be identified with the monied class, even when the left often has more money. And the left wing will be identified as the whiners, even though the right at times whines as much or more. You might say that both sides are monied, high human capital whiners, on the whole. And if you compare them to Burmese rice farmers, the two sides seem somewhat alike.

Turn your garden shed into an office

One better example in Manhattan on a rooftop, but it's rather extreme.

Kevin Mitnick on social engineering for hacking

Did five years:

Dubbed the "most dangerous hacker in the world," Mitnick was put in solitary confinement and prevented from using a phone after law enforcement officials convinced a judge that he had the ability to start a nuclear war by whistling into a pay phone, he said.
Mitnick didn't do any whistling on Saturday, but in his keynote following the panel he talked about how he listened in on FBI phone calls during the three years he evaded the FBI, left them doughnuts when he narrowly escaped raids and was chased down by a helicopter. He also demonstrated how to be able to see the phone numbers of callers on caller ID even when they have their number set to be blocked.

World's creepiest death rituals

Tibetan sky burial:

A corpse is sliced up, usually atop a mountain, and left for the birds. Tibetans call the practice jhator, which means giving alms to the birds. And also legs, torsos and heads as well.
The bodies, wrapped in white cloth, are bought to the burial site, where the monks have enticed vultures and other airborne scavengers. Monks unwrap the bodies, a process that probably isn't all that pleasant considering they've been left alone for three days (per Tibetan custom).

Thallium-doped lead telluride can turn waste heat into electricity

... twice as efficient as the second most efficient material used in thermoelectric power. The lead telluride creates electric power like a conventional heat engine coupled to an electric generator, but uses electrons as the working fluid instead of water or gas. Additionally, it creates electricity directly. Most importantly, the material is most effective between 450 and 950° Fahrenheit. This is a typical temperature range for many power systems, including car engines.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Top ten richest people in history

5. Asaf Jah VII (whose given name was Osman Ali Khan Bahadur) was the last Nizam or ruler of the Princely State of Hyderabad and Berar, before it was invaded and annexed by India in 1948.

By most accounts, "His Exalted Highness" the Nizam of Hyderabad was a benevolent ruler who promoted education, science and development. He spent about one-tenth of his Principality's budget on education, and even made primary education compulsory and free for the poor. In his 37-year rule, Hyderabad witnessed the introduction of electricity, railways, roads, and other development projects.

In 1937, Asaf Jah VII was on the cover of Time Magazine, labeled as the richest man in the world.

Getting Locke straight

He wound up expanding that comment into a separate post, describing the way Locke’s “admixture of labor” standard for initial appropriation (that one appropriates unowned land and “takes it out of the common” by “mixing one’s labor with it,” i.e. altering or improving it in some way) was used in practice to legitimize the theft of native lands in areas colonized by Europeans.

This particular view of (real) property claims was very convenient to the Age of Colonization, since it gave Euro-originating settlers the opportunity to “mix their labor” with “something not already anyone’s property,” which is to say, land that was sustaining non-Europeans...

By Rothbard’s version of the Lockean standard, the overwhelming majority of land titles in the Third World, of latifunderos and other landed oligarchs, are illegitimate, and the land is the rightful property of the peasants whose ancestors cultivated it. In the United States, all absentee claims to presently vacant and unimproved land should be treated as null and void, and land subsequently developed under such title is the present rightful property of the actual homesteader or his heirs and assigns.

The sad state of elite university education -- not properly intellectual

When elite universities boast that they teach their students how to think, they mean that they teach them the analytic and rhetorical skills necessary for success in law or medicine or science or business. But a humanistic education is supposed to mean something more than that, as universities still dimly feel. So when students get to college, they hear a couple of speeches telling them to ask the big questions, and when they graduate, they hear a couple more speeches telling them to ask the big questions. And in between, they spend four years taking courses that train them to ask the little questions—specialized courses, taught by specialized professors, aimed at specialized students. Although the notion of breadth is implicit in the very idea of a liberal arts education, the admissions process increasingly selects for kids who have already begun to think of themselves in specialized terms—the junior journalist, the budding astronomer, the language prodigy. We are slouching, even at elite schools, toward a glorified form of vocational training.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Suissa computers

Check out the gallery.

How to pull a Reggie (fake your death)

Your debts are piling up; the job's getting on your nerves, and maybe your partner doesn't look as hot as he or she once did. It's that John Darwin canoe moment – when you think the unthinkable and wonder if life would be better if you ended it all for the old you and started over with a shiny new one. Not a real death, of course.
More historical cases from the BBC here.

Old time gangsters

Machine Gun Kelly:

No one would have suspected that George Kelly Barnes would have turned to a live of crime – he was born into a very wealthy family from Memphis and had a quiet, “normal” childhood. He even went to Mississippi State University in 1917 for agriculture. But this is where things went awry. He flunked out, so his dad stopped giving him money.

Former FBI agent Joe Navarro goes over body language

A slideshow of many examples with audio.

More pizzas from around the world

Brazil -Hard boiled eggs and peas on your pie? Why not?

MIT students develop solar dish hot enough to melt steel

The results are staggering – the completed mirror focuses enough solar energy at its focal point to melt solid steel. The energy of typical sunlight is concentrated by a factor of 1,000. This was showcased during a demonstration, in which a team member held up a board, which instantly and violently combusted, when brought within range of the focal point.

By directing the dish at a more practical target – water piped through black tubing – steam can be flash created, offering instant means of producing energy or providing heating.

How much does it cost you in wages if you sound black?

His main finding: blacks who “sound black” earn salaries that are 10 percent lower than blacks who do not “sound black,” even after controlling for measures of intelligence, experience in the work force, and other factors that influence how much people earn. (For what it is worth, whites who “sound black” earn 6 percent lower than other whites.)

Cargo container homes

90 best rap albums of the '90s

From 1990:

1. Public Enemy - Fear of a Black Planet
That Fear of a Black Planet was not PE's best work but still managed to eclipse 99% of everything out at the time is a testament to the group's impact on 90s hip-hop. Dark, incendiary, and inevitably brutal, Fear gave yield to classics like "911 Is a Joke" and "Who Stole the Soul."