December 8, 2008
Towards responsible use of cognitive-enhancing drugs by the healthy - a commentary in Nature that says, "we call for a presumption that mentally competent adults should be able to engage in cognitive enhancement using drugs". Farkesque debate here. [more inside]
Former Australian Prime Minister John Howard was booted out in the 2007 elections. He had been Prime Minister for 11 years and in that time he had taken the country to war and divided the country on issues like Aboriginal reconciliation and workplace reforms. The Howard Years, a four part documentary originally screened on the ABC, is now online and available to view for free and takes a detailed look at the legacy of his Prime Ministership. The four part series explores in greater detail than ever before Howard's fractured relationship with his deputy and heir apparent, Peter Costello, and also contains some startling revelations from Howard Government ministers that many candidly admit they would never have told you while they were still in Government.
Early Female Authors of Hard-Boiled Fiction. Chester Himes and Early African-American Detective Novelists. The Detective's Code. The Femme Fatale. Just a few of the many fascinating offerings at detnovel.com.
Aw look, another cute flash game. Help the sweet lil' doe-eyed bunnies, monkeys, and their friends get to the promised land after a big bad cigar-chomping human came and chopped down their forest. It's so sweet. Until you hit the shift button and Thumper slowly pulls out a knife and takes one for the team. Play SeppuKuties (flash). [more inside]
Driving Off the Map by James Clinton Howell is a formal analysis of Metal Gear Solid 2. If you played this game — even if you didn't like it (especially if you didn't like it) — you need to read this to learn what you actually played. If you've never played Metal Gear Solid, it's still an excellent example of serious video game scholarship.
Guiness World Record holder Adam Winrich demonstrates all the basic bullwhip-cracking techniques. He also teaches you how to perform each of them in detail, and how to open a can of root beer.
EclipseCrossword is a powerful windows tool for automatically creating crossword puzzles. You can create multiple puzzles from the same word list; print the puzzles in assorted formats; or export interactive puzzles for web pages. [more inside]
All Nightmare Long is a nine-minute-long alternative-history science fiction/horror fake documentary with stop motion animation, rotoscoping and Soviet propaganda thrown in. There's also a Metallica song attached to it, but you might not even notice it's a music video. (Or watch it on Youtube)
The Eye and the Fly is a video advert (for what, I don't really know) that I think is very well done. On first viewing, it immediately reminded me of Zbig Rybczynski's classic short, Tango, which has been linked on MeFi before.
How to write about Africa. Binyavanga Wainaina is among a rising generation of African voices who bring a cautionary perspective to the morality and efficacy behind many Western initiatives to abolish poverty and speed development in Africa. An interview with Krista Tippet.
Bodhi Day, also known as Rohatsu, celebrates the day when Buddha was enlightened under the bodhi tree at Bodh Gaya (video, annotated photo gallery). How do we celebrate Bodhi Day? Typically, Rohatsu is the last day of a weeklong sesshin (intensive meditation retreat). Better not sleep late, the bell rings at 3:50 am! One person's experience of sesshin. A lesson in mindfulness for Rohatsu, including tips for beginners. Bodhi Day is primarily a Zen tradition. Tibetan buddhists celebrate Buddha's enlightenment in May with the festival of Saga Dawa. Other Buddhist holidays.
The single-shot Palm Pistol... The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has accepted a conceptual, ergonomic 9mm handgun — designed for people crippled by arthritis, muscular dystrophy, or similar conditions that render them too weak to operate normal handguns — as a Class 1 Medical Device.... doctors could eventually write prescriptions for it and then be reimbursed by Medicare.
The new Internet legend. Trevor Dunbar ran a 9 min 1 sec, 2 mile time trial through ice and snow. The entire thing is recorded. And what was once in Alaska can't stay in Alaska. More details.
"You got bailed out. We got sold out." Chicago workers respond to a factory closing by occupying the factory. A flickr set of photos from the site.
Here is an incredibly fun game in which you play a bowling ball hurtling down a pretty 3d mountain course filled with coins to collect, pins to knock over, launch pads to jump off of, and cannons that shoot you to the finish. Requires the Unity browser plugin thing.
The National Security Agency is building a data center in San Antonio that’s the size of the Alamodome. Microsoft has opened an 11-acre data center a few miles away. Coincidence? Not according to author James Bamford, who probably knows more about the NSA than any outsider. Bamford's new book reports that the biggest U.S. spy agency wanted assurances that Microsoft would be in San Antonio before it moved ahead with the Texas Cryptology Center. Bamford notes that under current law, the NSA could legally tap into Microsoft’s data without a court order. Whatever you do, don't take pictures of it the spy building unless you want to be taken in for questioning.
Blackbird. Are you reading this page on Firefox, Opera, or IE? More importantly, are you black? Then you might want to check out Blackbird: "a web browser designed for the African-American community."
While it's been noted Obama is the first presidential candidate to run political ads in video games and one of his transition team leaders plays World of Warcraft, there's no real evidence as yet that the coming administration encompasses the gaming experience and mindset. Since future ones undoubtedly will, as video and computer games go mainstream, it's worthwhile to ponder what things would be like if gamers ran the world. (via) [more inside]
William Alexander Morgan: The improbable story of how a high school dropout, ex-con, ranch hand, gambling enforcer, mafia gunrunner and circus fire eater from Ohio, became one of the top leaders in Castro’s revolutionary army (pops), only to be executed as a traitor after the revolution.
Privacy and Social Networking: If I Poke you, it indicates that I’m online, and I’m thinking about you.
Facebook and the Social Dynamics of Privacy (coming soon to the Iowa Law Review), by James Grimmelmann (law professor, programmer, MeFi's own grimmelm, and Level 1 Ensign Zombie): just in time for Facebook Connect and Google Friend Connect, Grimmelmann suggests we rethink what privacy means both in legal terms and how that impacts social networks and their users. (Previously) [more inside]
Leopold Godowsky's technique was such that Arthur Rubinstein wrote, "It would take me 500 years to get a mechanism like [his]." Which came in handy playing his 53 Studies on Chopin's Etudes - which are often nominated as the most difficult pieces in the repertoire.
Why Conan the barbarian isn't just some big dumb-dumb.
Animals Save The Planet. A series of environmentally conscious animated shorts from Animal Planet.
Several British Internet Service Providers have blocked access to a Wikipedia page (NSFW) of the 1977 album Virgin Killers by the German rock group The Scorpions. The Internet Watch Foundation had advised the ISPs that the albums cover featured imagery that was 'potentially illegal' child pornography. The way the ban was enacted has had the side effect of stopping thousands of UK users from editing articles on Wikipedia. Naturally not everyone is happy about this.
Is history repeating itself? Note quite 2000 years ago, the Roman hegemony got its first black leader - a former senator whose father was African and mother was white. Septimius Severus inherited a failed military campaign in Iraq and an ailing economy. He first resolves the situation in Iraq, undertakes a number of new building projects, stamps out governmental corruption, raises taxes to pay for wage increases (and kicks British arse a few times). Ultimately though, it all might have only hastened the Empire's decline.
Like short stories but just don’t have the time to hang around for ten, five, two, or even one thousand words? Try some drabbles, stories precisely 100 words long. There was a bit of a craze in the early 90s, but some enterprising websites (including the successfully-published Brendan Adkin at Ommatidia) are still updating today (Previously). Write your own! (For the terminally lazy, automatically generate one instead.)
Animata is an open source real-time animation software, designed to create animations, interactive background projections for concerts, theatre and dance performances.
80s era holiday television complete with antenna, TV guide, and remote.