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Marijuana Promotes Creativity
10.24.2011
12:36 pm

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Drugs
Science/Tech

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A Narco Polo comic by former inner-city teacher and public defender, Rob Arthur. Here’s a snippet from Rob’s website:

The Science

One way in which creativity can be described is the ability to find new and novel connections between concepts. In scientific terms the ability to find connections between words is called semantic priming. A 2010 study published in Psychiatry Research found that the use of marijuana induces a state of hyper-priming. (9) When presented with an activation word, subjects reacted faster to distantly-related words when high than when sober. (For a neuroscience journalist’s take on this study go here.) The flow of loose associations promoted by marijuana is a real phenomenon.

Credit goes to Jason Silva for introducing me to this study. His article on marijuana’s “butterfly effect” on thought can be found here.

Marijuana Promotes Creativity: The Evidence

(via Boing Boing )

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
Charles and Ray Eames: Mystical toys
10.11.2011
04:11 pm

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Art
Design
Movies
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Thinkers

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The fun and beauty of toys is they exist purely for pleasure… but within the most wonderful of toys there is poetry and secret teachings.

“Toys are not really as innocent as they look. Toys and games are preludes to serious ideas.”  - Charles Eames.

Charles and Ray Eames made over 100 short films. Many of them had toys as their subject. In Tops (1969) and the solar powered Do-Nothing Machine (1957), the Eames celebrate design and movement for their own sake as well as their potential to open doors of perception. 

The Do-Nothing Machine was created by the Eames to do exactly what its name says - nothing. In the 1950s, when progress was our most important product, a machine that did nothing, other than dazzle the eye and compel one to meditate upon the beauty of form, sunlight and gravity, was a radical statement. Eames’ machine could be seen as a precursor to the psychedelic experience: a device to tickle the senses and bring us into the NOW. Add the fact that it is solar-powered and we have something that is positively visionary in all senses of the word.

In our goal-oriented society, a toy is a respite from getting things done. A toy is like the Buddha nature, it need not justify itself. It just is, of the moment, no results required, no function necessary other than in the delight of being. But within the playful nature of a toy, there are things to be learned if you so choose to discover them.

A top is perfect, profound in its simplicity, offering up a multitude of possible teachings. Truly alive when it is in balance, the top, spinning like a prayer wheel with a sense of humor, in accordance with natural law, is a symbol of the Dharma as it spins upon its invisible axis. The spine of the top is charged like some kind of tantric machine. With each new spin it is reborn.

Watch in wonder.
 

Posted by Marc Campbell | Leave a comment
Steve Jobs: Apple Key-note Speech 1984
10.06.2011
11:14 am

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Heroes
R.I.P.
Science/Tech
Thinkers

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Steve Jobs 1955-2011.

A fine reminder of Steve Jobs’ passion, enthusiasm, vision and thought, from his key note speech during the introduction of the Apple IIc at the Moscone Center, in April, 1984.
 

 

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Voter fraud: Not just for conspiracy theorists anymore?
09.29.2011
01:28 pm

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Current Events
Politics
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Think voter fraud is just a paranoid conspiracy theory? Or maybe you see it as a possibility with these controversial DRE voting machines, but not a likelihood? You might want to take another look: In the video posted below, a Diebold (read it) touch-screen voting machine is shown to be easily hacked for cheap by Argonne National Lab’s Vulnerability Assessment Team (VAT). With a mod costing 10 bucks ($15 for the remote control) apparently even an amateur could do this.

The votes can be changed remotely from up to half a mile away!

From Salon:

The use of touch-screen Direct Recording Electronic (DRE) voting systems of the type Argonne demonstrated to be vulnerable to manipulation has declined in recent years due to security concerns, and the high cost of programming and maintenance. Nonetheless, the same type of DRE systems, or ones very similar, will once again be used by a significant part of the electorate on Election Day in 2012. According to Sean Flaherty, a policy analyst for VerifiedVoting.org, a nonpartisan e-voting watchdog group, “About one-third of registered voters live where the only way to vote on Election Day is to use a DRE.”

Almost all voters in states like Georgia, Maryland, Utah and Nevada, and the majority of voters in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Indiana and Texas, will vote on DREs on Election Day in 2012, says Flaherty. Voters in major municipalities such as Houston, Atlanta, Chicago and Pittsburgh will also line up in next year’s election to use DREs of the type hacked by the Argonne National Lab.

Think how easy it would be for a partisan operative to volunteer at a polling location to gain some alone time with one of these machines long enough to do what the guys do in this video. Or take it a step further and ask if you trust the programmers who maintain them? HOW would the layman know what to think? I’m not a conspiracy-minded person, but a conspiracy theory is not what I’m trying to get across here.

It’s the issue of uncertainty and how it could cause social unrest.

That’s why these machines should be outlawed. THE. ONLY. WAY. to protect against election fraud—or the suggestion OF it—is to dump these evil things and go back to paper ballets.

What I haven’t heard any of the commentators about this matter saying, but I think it’s worth contemplating is this: The mere plausible suggestion that these machines can be so easily manipulated and that voter fraud COULD OCCUR is far more of a pressing issue than any other facet of this matter (i.e. actual hacking occurring) .

Fast-forward to 2012, in your mind: If Barack Obama, the incumbent, wins by a landslide—or (legitimately) by ten votes in a country in Florida, it matters not a whit—VOTE FRAUD is going to be the rallying call of people who don’t like him. It will be the new “Birtherism,” mark my words.

It’s that sort of thing that’s a far bigger problem than any tampering of individual machines ever could be.

On the plus side, that happening is probably what would, in the end, see the DRE machines done away with. I think the Tea party-types are more worried about having it done to them, than doing it themselves (not that most of those confused folks would have the first clue how to, of course…)

As one of the YouTube wags commented: “Can we buy this for Diebold ATMs?” Good question!
 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Steal Your Face: Real-time face substitution
09.19.2011
10:11 pm

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Art
Design
Games
Science/Tech

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“Faces” from Vimeo user Arturo. This is totally badass. Tons of potential here.

Real-time face substitution. Made with Kyle McDonald’s ofxFacetracker + Jason Saragih’s facetracker library, a C/C++ API for real time generic non-rigid face alignment and tracking.

Inspired by Kevin Atkinson’s image clone code.

I like when he goes from being Michael Jackson to Dali to Obama at the end. That’s the best part.
 

 
Via The Daily What

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Christian 4th grade school textbook tries to explain electricity, gives up
09.19.2011
03:59 pm

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Belief
Kooks
Science/Tech
Stupid or Evil?

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Jeesus K. Reist… I’ve long said that Christian schools are simply pushing an organized system of ignorance, but this fourth grade textbook published by Bob Jones University, and highlighted in a ScienceBlogs post by PZ Myers, a biologist and associate professor at the University of Minnesota, really takes the cake in the dumb department.

As Myers points out, “[W]e can use [electricity] to build hair dryers and Large Hadron Colliders; to make the argument that we are mystified by it is lying to the kids.” I’ll go one further, to subject children to this sort of “education” is anti-intellectual child-abuse:

That second paragraph is a horror of gobbledygook. Apparently, they think electricity is something like oil, a substance lying in large deposits that must be harvested and poured into your hairdryer to make it work. A current, as mentioned above, is produced by the movement of charged particles, nothing more or less. The sun produces moving charged particles, so it is a source of electricity, and the movement of the earth generates an electromagnetic field, but I can also do the zombie shuffle across the carpet to build up an excess of charged particles and touch the cat to allow them to flow, creating electricity myself, like unto a God. I do not have to create particles to make electricity, I just have to make them move.

Also, if that little girl did not use electricity, she would be dead. All of the cells in your body create charge imbalances by pumping charged ions across their membranes, and using the flow of ions back across those membranes to create chemical energy — they are machines that convert chemical energy into electricity that is used to power little dynamos that create stored chemical energy. We also use the gated movements of charged ions to generate electrical currents in our nerves and muscles, which is how we think and move.

Isn’t it nice how clearly religion is shown to be a science-stopper? Just take common questions, declare them a mystery and that no one has an answer, and presto, religion becomes an authority. An authority stuck at a dead end.

Christian parents who willingly sign their kids up to be taught this sort of malarkey deserve what they will eventually get when their children are either A) too poorly educated to compete in a workforce where for most entrants electricity is not a fucking mystery or B) want nothing to do with Christianity after they realize that it’s something on the level of believing in Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny…

Read a sample chapter here. How do they explain the moon?

Via Reddit

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Pucker Up for the Snogometer
09.16.2011
07:13 pm

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Amusing
Kooks
Science/Tech
Sex

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Back in the 1960s, youngsters had to make their own entertainment, just like British teenager Malcolm Pickard, who invented this “fantastic contraption to measure the voltage of snogs”.

Malcolm’s Snogometer gave hours fun to family and friends, though no one was ever quite sure what Malcolm got out of it.

Whatever it was, he didn’t say, though that Snogometer does look uncannily like something those whacky Scientologists use.
 

 

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Jack Nicholson’s hydrogen-powered Chevy: News clip from 1978
09.15.2011
04:45 pm

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Environment
Movies
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Jack Nicholson was ahead of the curve with his hydrogen-powered H2-4 Chevy Impala back in 1978.

Nicholson appeared on Canadian television show “Marketplace” to promote a hydrogen-fueled Chevrolet Celebrity, which he hoped would revolutionize the car industry.

Anticipating the green-car revolution (and Chevy’s Volt!) by nearly 30 years, Nicholson’s Celebrity was (per the video) “a standard Chev’, with a standard Chev’ motor,” but used a specially-designed carburetor which allowed the car to burn hydrogen gas instead of vaporized gasoline.

Nicholson brings his sardonic humor to the mix with this very funny line:

“If nothing else, this will revolutionize suicide. Instead of carbon-monoxide poisoning, you’ll just get a steam bath.”
 

 
Via Gas 2.0

Posted by Marc Campbell | Leave a comment
Why are pot smokers skinnier than everyone else?
09.07.2011
03:38 pm

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Drugs
Science/Tech

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Marijuana is usually comically associated with “the munchies” and junk food binging, but a new study from France indicates something researchers weren’t expecting to find: Potheads tend to be skinnier than non-stoners. Via The Week:

What did the study find?
Dr. Yann Le Strat, a psychiatrist at France’s Louis-Mourier Hospital, looked at data from two studies of U.S. adults from the early 2000s and noted the weight differences between those who used cannabis and those who didn’t. In both studies, cannabis users had relatively low rates of obesity: 14.3 and 17.2 percent. American adults who didn’t use cannabis had obesity rates of 22 and 25.3 percent.

Is this what researchers expected?
Nope. “Cannabis is supposed to increase appetite,” says Le Strat. “So we hypothesized that cannabis users would be more likely to have higher weight than non-users and be more likely to be obese.” Marijuana activist Michelle Aldrich isn’t all that surprised. “It’s true,” she says. “I don’t know too many fat marijuana smokers.”

What’s causing this phenomenon?
“There could be many other reasons why pot smokers have less obesity,” says dietitian Andrea Giancoli. “Maybe they’re inclined to exercise more, be outdoors more, eat more fruits and vegetables.” Aldrich thinks it could be related to the body’s endocannabinoid system — a group of receptors, primarily in the brain, that respond to compounds in marijuana. But the bottom line is that the exact mechanism responsible for this correlation remains a mystery — for now.

One obvious thing I’m not seeing here is that many potheads don’t drink alcohol or don’t drink that much of it.

But if this isn’t reason enough to toke up, one of the oldest people who ever lived credited the chronic for her longevity.

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Two chatbots talk to each other; within in seconds they lie, talk about God & unicorns
08.29.2011
02:44 pm

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Amusing
Science/Tech

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Cornell’s Creative Machines Lab says, “What happens when you let two bots have a conversation? We certainly never expected this…”

THIS is how it begins!

 
(via Nerdcore )

 

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
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