July 18, 2009
Divers [have been] spooked by tales of assault as swarms of aggressive jumbo flying squid invade the shallows off San Diego. No, not the return of Cthulhu; it's just a swarm of Humboldt squid. Here's a rather long talk with video images by one of the world's experts on these vicious nightmares.
The first human settlements... before the bronze age, before the iron age and even probably before the stone age, didn’t happen because people liked each other’s company. "As the old saying goes, there's safety in numbers... and fortifications. "If you have any doubt about how wood, stone and later even steel walls helped shape human civilization, all you need to do is take a close look at most of our cities, especially the older ones."
Recently, a man's sight was returned to him after losing it for 12 years. How did he do it? Surgeons drilled a hole through one of his canines, put a lens in it, and implanted the construct in his eye. [more inside]
Kommunalka - communal apartments - were begun by the Bolsheviks in Russia at the end of the Russian Revolution to address overcrowding in cities - and also to punish the bourgeoisie who had previously lived in comfort. Kommunalka were an enduring social experiment, where multiple families were assigned by the state to live together in close quarters with no expectation of privacy. It was not uncommon for tenants to spy on each other. Though communism ended in Russia almost two decades ago, Kommunalka still exist today.
Ctrl is an NBC webseries starring Tony Hale (Arrested Development's Buster, Chuck's Emmett Milbarge) as an office drone who suddenly finds that, thus far, CTRL-Z lets him undo recent events in his own life, and CTRL-B emboldens him to stand up to his boss and confess his love to the source of his crush. It was based on a short film, Ctrl-Z, starring Hale's Chuck co-star Zachary Levi as the boss. Not exactly a new concept, but nonetheless well-executed by a fairly good comic team ... [more inside]
Arlington National Cemetery has a problem. Covering 624 acres, the final resting place for 320,000 fallen, the Army can't keep track of where soldiers are buried.
Sassy lesbian couple in Florida celebrates 70 years together after having to keep their relationship secret for decades. You go, girls!
The simulated brain - "The scientists behind Blue Brain hope to have a virtual human brain functioning in ten years... Dr. Markram began by collecting detailed information about the rat's NCC, down to the level of genes, proteins, molecules and the electrical signals that connect one neuron to another. These complex relationships were then turned into millions of equations, written in software. He then recorded real-world data -- the strength and path of each electrical signal -- directly from rat brains to test the accuracy of the software." Is it possible to digitally simulate a brain accurately? Can it only be analog? And are there quantum effects to be considered? (previously 1 2 3 4) [more inside]
Cyriak's Animation Mix is the work of a quite talented yet somewhat twisted mind.
Courtesy of the folks over at It's Only Rock'n Roll - The Rolling Stones Fan Club Since 1980 is a convenient list of pro-shot live performances by Mick and the boys. [more inside]
"On the evening of July 5th, several hundred Uighur youths went on a bloody rampage [in Urumqi, Xinjiang] following a peaceful demonstration over a separate incident of ethnic violence at a Guangdong toy factory. . . . In the days that followed, bands of roving Han vigilantes armed with kitchen knives, hammers, metal pipes and other improvised weapons sought to mete out revenge in the Uighur suburbs of the city. . . . Caught in-between these increasingly polarized and agitated ethnic communities is the Chinese state, which, rather than orchestrating the brutal oppression of the non-Han minorities, finds itself increasingly powerless to stop the spiralling circle of ethnic hatred which its policies helped to foster in the first place." [more inside]
"Science Fiction Fandom: your shortlists aren’t very good." Writer, critic and literary academic Adam Roberts has a problem with the shortlists for the 2009 Hugo Awards: in his view, they're unimaginative, conservative and profoundly lazy. Are his concerns valid? And even if they are, should anyone expect more from a popular nominated award voted on by people eligible only through having joined the current or previous World Science Fiction Convention? Given the existence of jury-selected awards such as the Nebula and Clarke, what's wrong with the Hugo letting ordinary readers and fans having the chance to vote for what they liked?