Saturday, July 07, 2007

How the Maya vanished

It wasn't bad enough to have an environmental catastrophe; they had to engage in warfare during it.

Create a backup copy of your immune system

Keep frozen some white blood cells drawn when healthy (for a monthly fee) and multiply with natural growth factors when needed. For autoimmune, immunocompromised, or chemotherapy cases.

Coochicoos -- baby gear, gifts, designs

There's also daddytypes, as well as some amusing baby T-shirts.

Wesabe personal finance mgmt web app -- an online Quicken

The Boing Boing quote:

The service anonymizes your financial data and then compares it to others' and figures out ways that you can save money right away, and worked into it is a bunch of community stuff for people who are figuring out how to spend smarter.
From c|net:
The thing that's cool about Wesabe is that these community tips pop up when you're looking at your own data...
Click on logo for site itself.

American class divisions through Facebook and MySpace

A ethnography doctoral candidate's take on how social network space is fragmenting. Freaks and geeks to MySpace, wealthier and establishment crowd to Facebook. Interesting mention of a PBS Frontline video entitled The Lost Children of Rockdale County, where parents are unaware of their "good" kids' shocking behavior.

Acute pain decreases under hypnosis

Functional MRI was used to measure objectively (neural response).

Tales of a ninth-grade fund manager

Home schooling allowed schedule flexibility.

Espresso book machine

At New York Public Library's Science, Industry and Business Library, a machine to print out a public domain book that's indistinguishable from the factory-made title. Other libraries waiting in line.

The truth about lying and laughing

Covers psychology of lying and telling jokes. A lot of the text is quotes. The author's favorite joke cited at the end:

A dog goes into a telegraph office, takes a blank form and writes: 'Woof, Woof, Woof, Woof, Woof, Woof, Woof, Woof, Woof.'

The clerk examines the paper and politely tells the dog: 'There are only nine words here. You could send another "Woof" for the same price.'

The dog looks confused and replies, 'But that would make no sense at all.'

Librarians describe life under an FBI gag order

When speaking of enjoying liberty in these times in the USA, make sure to avert your gaze from this.

Edifying video on internet

The title link goes to the article, but I'll highlight the links to the panel and lecture sites here.
There's PBS, TVO's The Agenda (fine guests on panel; sometimes Ontario/Cdn focus), The Research Channel, Princeton's University Channel, and TED (emerging trends).

What spices to use

No photos, but short descriptions and sometimes also when to use; also ingredient listings for mixes.

Six-figure income possible in more pedestrian pursuits

Like teaching post-secondary home economics or area, ethnic and cultural studies. Or manage a cotton gin. Just be in the 90th percentile.
Slideshow link at the bottom.

Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge

Named after the psychology researchers who documented it, the Dunning-Kruger effect shows how dense people think well of themselves.

Some mad Etch A Sketch skills

Holy cow. The guy does a Lebron James sketch.

Various travel sites

List from mashable including general planning and blogs, but also twists like hooking up with locals as well as travelers, and a YouTube-type site for travel.

Japanese universities competing for fewer and fewer students

Lower price, offer perks, diversify. A demographic story.

The power of narrative -- ways to recall the past

How you tell yourself your life's story determines what choices you imagine. Third person view good for moving on.

Grace Weston Photography

Some very interesting photos using dolls.

Effective sleeping

So, are you a five-and-a-half, seven, or eight-and-an-half hour sleeper?

Like YouTube, but with live video

Various sites.
Also, this item about peer-to-peer live TV through the internet. Here's the LiveStation site referenced, but there's also TVU and Sopcast.
And, video classifieds.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Transparent material can act as video screen

Normally transparent and sandwiched in glass, just point a projector at it and get up to 135 inches in better-than-HD resolution.

How children lost the right to roam in four generations

Affluence's urban development seems to be imprisoning kids.

Track your GPS-enabled phone through Google Earth

It's called Mologogo. You download something to the phone and through the website, you can see where the phone is on Google Earth. So, maybe for when you've lost your phone, you want to track your kids, you're trying to meet up with or direct your friends who have the same setup, or you're travelling and you want to keep people up-to-date (can post present location and trail to site/blog).

Huge galaxy string photo

At NASA. Shrunk to fit your screen, but click on it to magnify and get the 3600X2430 goodness.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

No more annual flu shots

Vaccine could provide immunity against all strains of influenza. Six regions within several proteins common to almost all flu-infected cells trigger an immune response.

Overheard in New York

The site gets submissions for supposedly real conversations, like:

Black guy: Here, this is for you, man, 'cause you look like Jesus.
Homeless guy: I thought Jesus was black!
Black guy, coming back: For that, my man, you get a dollar.

--55th & Broadway

Overheard by: Tony Jones

Freeplay Energy -- Wind-up devices

LED lamps, radios, and chargers.

Top 10 bizarre Japanese soft drinks

The first page has the weirder stuff.

U.S. constitutional law primer

In five minutes.

CarPool app for Facebook

So now, Facebook members can carpool. Facebook is all about the user-developed apps. I've read assertions of its inability to last because it requires a login, but we'll see.

Low monoamine oxidase A activity correlated with violence into adulthood

If you have the allele for low monoamine oxidase A expression and combine it with early childhood trauma, adult physical aggression seems more likely to follow. The commentator mentions that there is greater environmental sensitivity with this variant of the gene.
Also this report on smaller size of cingulate cortex and amygdala.

Staircase drawers

Simple Spark -- catalog and search engine for web apps

Find that obscure online application that you glanced.

Electric propulsion aircraft

Liquid hydrogen runs an electric fuel cell, which runs a superconductor (light) motor.

The dreaded cheese sandwich

If the parents fall behind enough on payment for school lunches, the cafeteria directs the kid to pick up a cheese on untoasted whole wheat sandwich, or in one district's case, cabbage and squash. It becomes a badge of shame for the child. In the vegetable case, though, parents' debt for lunches has disappeared.

The Deep -- creatures of the abyss

15 household uses for table salt

From ant control to frost prevention.

CIA to declassify notorious ops

A lot of stuff is already in the public domain, but this is the official release of the 693-page file wrapped up in 1973.

The fallacy of hard tests

If it's multiple choice and they only count the right answers, a harder test brings the knowledgeable closer to the ignorant in number of guesses, making it more luck.

Sweet Korean pizza

Well, the toppings include corn, apple slices, crust filled with vanilla pudding and sprinkled with frosting for one half, crust filled with grape jam and sprinkled with sugar on the other half. That white grid is mayonnaise.

Top 10 sci fi authors of this decade

Includes Vernor Vinge (the AI and singularity visionary from an earlier post) as a bonus.

Protecting against caller ID spoofing

I didn't know caller ID was used to authenticate for voicemail access.

Adolescents too isolated from adults

They need to being more engaged in the adult world, not just its sales images, earlier in life.
More at kottke here.

X-keys Stick: Customizable, independent macro keys

Forget all those combos; just slap these on:

When expertise works and when it doesn't

A book recommendation from Marc Andreesen about a twenty-year analysis of pundit performance. Experts that appear in the press and advise governments and businesses don't seem to be that much better -- even in their own field -- than the dart-throwing chimp; and they rationalize the same ways as normal people about their ineptitude. It's called Expert Political Judgement.


Photo gallery of one child for every nation on earth, living in New York City.

SEAL learns about the other side

A Navy SEAL, conditioned to believe there couldn't possibly be any value in the people of Afghanistan, is saved by an Afghan family and custom in particular.

Older psychiatric treatments

Differing ideas of mind lead to differing treatments.

Is changing policing making the difference in big city crime?

Attempting to sort out how America's largest three cities are enjoying a decrease in crime rate while the rest of the country isn't. Is it evolving police methods or just demography?

Meditation alters brain structure and functioning

From an '04 article. Inferring that the neuroplasticity doesn't need external stimuli; purely internal mental training can do it.

Review of Nassim Taleb's The Black Swan

The search for patterns and order can be a dangerous trap, distracting us from "the impact of the highly improbable."
I first heard of this guy at Malcolm Gladwell's NYer archive (long piece). His vocation is in finance, but applications can generalize. Be careful of betting against the catastrophic longshot, as personified by his very successful -- for a while -- naked put seller friend, or LTCM.

Update: Here's a mediocre interview where you actually get to see and hear the guy. Charlie Rose doesn't seem to know what questions to ask and Taleb himself isn't exceptionally eloquent. I did learn of the human tendency towards after-the-fact narrative fallacy, whereby we think we've figured out what happened.

A kettle to make hot water in 3 seconds

I'm presuming this is same tech as the on-demand heaters for showers and such. They all claim energy savings, but there's been some debate about that. This does come with a filter for chlorine, though.

Using voice recogntion for a Caller ID system

Will keep a history as people call you. From Microsoft.

Why the rich care about inequality

The article goes back to John D. who had the longer term view of sustainability.

Confessions of a former Circuit City worker

Some tips for shopping there.

Wacky dictator outdoes Kim Jong-Il

Post-USSR breakup, the president of Turkmenistan changed his name to Turkmenbashi, translated as Leader of All Ethnic Turkmen. He later renamed the month of January to Turkmenbashi. Oh, but it doesn't stop there.

LifeStraw and mosquito nets, the business of aid

More details about that cheap straw that filters out practically everything except Giardia lamblia (working on it). It uses iodine then carbon. He's expanded to insecticide-treated sheets/nets.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Best thought experiments

Courtesy of Wired.

Entrepreneurial lessons

Eight stories of how to do things right.

Snapshots from the not-so-happy globe

Some well-known photos of how the world isn't such a great place in which to live.

Liquid lens to allow for small optics in gadgets

Especially for zooming. I was pretty jazzed when I first heard of the concept, but like any new tech, it's not perfect. Distortion and color problems, but this is first generation.

Bias test

Takes a bit of time, but measures your response time when associating words to faces and determines your degree of bias. Covers gender-school subject, race, age, weight, nationalism (by world leader/icon images).

The history of the rise of corporations

Yup. In the U.S., since an 1886 Supreme Court ruling that leaned on an earlier constitutional amendment that was supposed to protect freed slaves, corporations were deemed a natural person and entitled to the rights and protections offered by the Bill of Rights.

September Dawn trailer

Movie about the Mountain Meadow Massacre in Utah, 1857. Mixing up the phenomenal with the Absolute appears not to be restricted to any particular population or time.

Turning skin cells into pluripotent (change to any tissue) stem cells

It comes down to four genes, in these mice anyways. Slightly more specific here. Sure avoids the whole embryo controversy.

Economist Jeffrey "Dr. Shock" Sachs takes on sub-Saharan Africa

I have heard of some corruption scandal (not involving him) at some aid fund he helped to author, but this guy's comprehensive and long term cost-benefit savvy of the macro scene suggests he's onto something:

To Sachs, $200 billion is an absolute bargain. "It's much cheaper than giving food aid," he told me, as though he were stating the obvious. "It's much cheaper than having wars, and it's much cheaper than having mass migration." Here's the bottom line: it is less than 1 percent of the total income of the "rich world."

Panel of anonymous physicians coughs up secrets of the trade

Straightforward talk from five specialists.
Some if-you-only-knew secrets here.

LED lamp

That's 66 LEDs for this very sleek lamp.

Hedge fund fees

I've only skimmed since NYer articles are so long, but fund geeks won't mind. After some history, it seems to be about another stab at a mechanical system to undercut the exorbitant fees of hedge funds. Incidentally, compensation for the best hedge fund managers easily outstrips that of the best CEOs on Wall St.
Also, short list of things, esp. mutual fund contrasts, that Tyler Cowen learned from a journal article.

Making The Shining -- documentary and interviews

Links to YouTube. Cut up into four parts, just over half-an-hour total. If you actually haven't seen the movie yet, treat yourself to some fine cinema.

Anterograde amnesia

I remember a doc about an orchestra conductor who suffered some infection and was left with a seven-second memory. Everything up to the infection was intact; just the stuff afterwards could not gel. Rough life for those around him. The hippocampus seems to be important in forming long term episodic memories.

Mad Mother Psychoshower Curtain

Some other good stuff there too.

Flash tour of Dante's Inferno

Can jump to any of the nine Hells and their participants with Gustav Dore's illustrations.

Using light to entrain circadian rhythm

NASA project for the longer day on Mars, but opens possibilities here. They were able to force the circadian rhythm to adjust for fitful sleep by applying a waking day protocol of 10 hours (!) of dim 25 lux light, then 100 lux room light, then two 45-min. 10 000 lux pulses before the end of the day.
There are books and sites out there on light-hormone-sleep cycles so that you can reduce and optimize your sleep.

Steakhouses as economic indicator

The kernel quote:

But as the year unfolds, steak stocks become more like leading indicators. If profits are humming, M&E budgets are in rude health, and prospects look good, you'd expect businesspeople to use steakhouses for meetings, deal-closing dinners, and recruitment lunches. When business slows down a lot—as it has in many sectors of the economy—it becomes much harder to justify a $250 lunch for three. Wall Streeters and hedge-fund guys may still be splurging for Kobe, but think about all those real estate and mortgage brokers, car dealers and consumer products salesmen, retailers and contractors who may be nibbling on takeout burritos because of slowing demand.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Stills of motion

Next to this one, the best are of everyday objects being busted.

Heat to sound to electricity

They're seeing applications for waste heat from computers, radar, and nuclear cooling towers, but also as a solar alternative. I don't get the the heat to sound part, but the sound then hits some piezoelectric surface.

Poor youths sleep in Japan's Net cafes

And also at all-night saunas and McDonald's.

Contact lenses to restore 20/20 eyesight

You wear them overnight for the rest of your life. During the day, you wear nothing. Proper care is important.

Most college kids don't correctly match brands with countries of origin

Well, it would appear that college kids believe everything comes from Japan, Germany or the USA. I was with them, however, on Lego and Adidas. From Anderson Analytics:

Cost to sequence entire human genome dropping

The company 454 sequenced Dr. James Watson's genome for $2 million -- an order of magnitude less than when using traditional machines.

The next step will be the $10,000 genome, which should bring the company within reach of the X Prize Foundation's $10 million award, announced last October, for the first privately funded team that can sequence 100 human genomes in 10 days.

Hardwired for the cooties

If an unopened package of kitty litter touches an unopened package of cookies, customers won't buy the cookies.

Lab-grown meat

Certainly good for the environment. Initial electric stimulation to build bulk.

Waves of ice in Newfoundland

It eventually stops. - Watch more free videos

How to hire the best people

From Marc Andreessen's fine blog. He's the guy who started up Ning, where you can create your own social network. Haven't read through, though.

Room temperature superconducting metals

Discovery of the quantum oscillation signature (?) gave the key to discovering how electrons in special metals -- like the yttrium barium copper oxide they used -- switch to superconducting behavior. Room temp superconductors predicted in about 10 years.

For God's sake, please stop the aid (of stuff to Africa)

The inefficiency and psychological aspect aside, stuff that arrives ends up oversupplying and thus depressing the local market of the particular item/commodity. What the interview doesn't mention is the significant obstacle of how wealthier nations are in too many cases not willing to trade fairly, going far to protect their own.

Evolution of execution

From crushing by elephant to the guillotine.

How the Wii beat out the PS3 and XBox 360

Bringing a product for the common consumer rather than elite gamers with their demand for ever fancier graphics.
Nintendo tries to compare itself to Starbucks and Apple's iPod, declaring them innovative. I think that's missing a dimension and somewhat misleading. Starbucks and iPods had everything to do with making the customer feel elite and apart. The Wii goes in the opposite direction and is not just good marketing. Actually, the anticipation from gaming critics was really negative.

Genes connected to proficiency in language?

Along tonal (where pitch communicates meaning, as in Chinese) lines. Of 26 linguistic features studied ("such as whether consonants aggregate at the beginnings and ends of words") among 49 populations, only tonality was found to correlate with two alleles (variants of genes) being studied for microcephaly.
So possibly having the appropriate allele allows for easier processing of a tonal or non-tonal language.

Bulletproof bag plastic 40% stronger than Kevlar

Proprietary formulation of polyethylene fibers allowing for 5mm thick vests.