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The Cosmonaut of the Erotic Future
09.10.2009
06:34 pm
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Excellent essay from Cabinet Magazine, by Aaron Schuster.

What happens to levitation, one of the great imaginative figures of art and literature, in the transition from a religious culture to the disenchanted universe of modern science? What becomes of ecstasy, rapture, ascension, transcendence, grace wh?Ǭ?e?Ǭ?n these give way to “space oddity”: man enclosed in a tin can floating far above the world? Is the cosmonaut a prophet of the erotic future, avatar of man?

Posted by Jason Louv
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09.10.2009
06:34 pm
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Meet The Self-Lighting Cigarette (1972)
09.05.2009
12:20 am
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South Korean inventor Whang Kyu-bong invents the self-lighting cigarette.

United States Patent 3,955,937

Posted by Tara McGinley
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09.05.2009
12:20 am
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Testing The Spontaneous Human Combustion Beam
09.03.2009
01:50 pm
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More news from the “death from above” front: Boeing just announced the successful testing of their Advanced Tactical Laser (ATL).  Not familiar with the ATL?  Well, according to Wired‘s David Hambling here’s what it can do:

The Advanced Tactical Laser, weighing twelve thousand pounds and mounted in a Hercules transport plane, is intended to give Special Forces Command ‘ultra-precision strike capability’ against a wide range of ground targets.  Its power is somewhere in the hundred-kilowatt range.  According to the developers, the accuracy of this weapon is little short of supernatural.  They claim that the pinpoint precision can make it lethal or non-lethal at will.  For example, they say it can either destroy a vehicle completely, or just damage the tires to immobilize it.

But that’s not even close to what’s got the military so hot and bothered about this baby’s capabilities.  Hambling asserts that Boeing’s ATL “will allow Special Forces to strike with maximum precision, from long distances—without being blamed for the attacks.  ‘Plausible deniability’ is how the presentation put it.”

Or, in simpler terms, the ATL can carry out covert assassinations with zero accountability.  Cause of death, forensically speaking?  Struck by lightning.

From The Register: Secret U.S. Spontaneous Human Combustion Beam Tested

In Wired: Laser Gunship Fires; “Deniable” Strikes Ahead?

Posted by Bradley Novicoff
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09.03.2009
01:50 pm
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The Truth About Lying
09.02.2009
03:24 pm
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The current Forbes offers up some interesting theories as to why men and women lie—especially when it comes to that hall-of-mirrors world of online dating.  With apologies to Jane, it’s a truth universally acknowledged that a single man will lie about his height and salary, while a single woman will often lie about their age.  But why?  Well, according to Dennis Reina, author of Trust & Betrayal in the Workplace, men, culturally, are more concerned with their professional status, women their social status.

The playing field’s pretty even (now) when it comes to issues of extramarital affairs and money.  Regarding the later, though, men tend to lie about, “bad investments or financial decisions, while women (even if they make as much or more money than the man) will misrepresent their buying habits.”

But there’s also, perhaps, in play here a biological component.  Regarding women who alter their appearance with push-up bras and Botox, Mark Frank, a communications professor at the University of Buffalo, suggests, “these small deceptions might be necessary for procreation and social survival.  A tiger has stripes that coat its back and blend it into the high grass.  It doesn’t wake up one day and say, ‘Shall I put on spots?’” 

Hmm…comparing “deceptive women” to tigers.  Hey, Dr. Frank: maybe there’s a psychology professor down the hall?

In Forbes: He Lied, She Lied

Bonus: The Knickerbockers’ Lies

Posted by Bradley Novicoff
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09.02.2009
03:24 pm
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Lancia Stratos Zero (1970)
09.01.2009
02:08 am
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Lotus Esprit Turbo says, “The Lancia Stratos HF prototype was a styling exercise by Bertone, first show at the Turin Motor show in October 1970. It was a futuristic design with a wedge shaped profile and stood just 33 inches (84 cm) from the ground. It was so low, that conventional doors where not used. Instead, drivers had to flip up the windscreen and walk into the car, to gained entry. Visibility was restricted as the front windscreen was narrow, when inside. The car had a 1.6 litre V4 engine, taken from the Fulvia HF. To access the mid-mounted engine, a triangular shaped panel hinged upwards.”

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Posted by Tara McGinley
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09.01.2009
02:08 am
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Robot Listens and Responds to Human Drummer
08.28.2009
11:50 am
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“A robot listens and responds to a human drummer, improvising new rhythms. From Georgia Tech’s Gil Weinberg and Scott Driscoll.”


Haile, the interactive robot drummer

Posted by Tara McGinley
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08.28.2009
11:50 am
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The Long-Range Taser Controversy
08.27.2009
11:55 pm
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Meet the long-range taser.  For when stunning your victims at close-range just won’t do.  As the accompanying promotional video testifies, the long-range delivers “true incapacitation” without wires, and from a “ground-breaking distance” of a 100 feet away.  Sweet!  But don’t expect to see your neighbor firing one at your dog—or you—anytime soon.  According to a recent article in New Science:

A team led by Cynthia Bir, a trauma injury specialist at Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan, found that some of the 275 XREP cartridges that Taser supplied for testing last year were capable of delivering an electric shock for more than 5 minutes, rather than the 20 seconds of shocking current they are supposed to generate.

Electric shock weapon expert (!) Steve Wright finds this particularly worrisome, “what happens when the weapons are fired at pregnant women, people with health problems or the very young?”  I’m with you, Steve.  Pregnant women, people with health problems and the very young should receive shocks of only 20 seconds or so—in the name of all that’s humane.

 
In New Scientist: Long-Range Taser Reignites Safety Debate

Posted by Bradley Novicoff
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08.27.2009
11:55 pm
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Depression’s Evolutionary Roots
08.26.2009
08:03 pm
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Fascinating article in Scientific American that possibly answers why depression still plagues roughly 30-50% of all people, everywhere.  Since the brain plays such an essential role in promoting survival and reproduction, and depression can debilitate so thoroughly, why hasn’t mankind simply evolved beyond it?

Well, according to Doctors Paul W. Andrews and J. Anderson Thomson, Jr., maybe it’s time we start considering depression a “useful” disorder.  One which is, “in fact, an adaptation, a state of mind which brings real costs, but also brings real benefits.”  The pair backs this up with some brain-confusing brain chemistry, then moves on to make some simpler sense:

This is not to say that depression is not a problem.  Depressed people often have trouble performing everyday activities, they can?

Posted by Bradley Novicoff
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08.26.2009
08:03 pm
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Up And Down With Backseat Meth, Abilify
08.25.2009
04:49 pm
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A double dose of alarming news today from the drug front.  First, I read the AP‘s account of a new, DIY approach to amphetamine production that “does away with the clutter of typical meth labs, turning the backseat of a car or a bathroom stall into a makeshift drug factory.”  The ingredients are few—cold pills, a soda bottle, some common household chemicals.  The method is simple—pills are crushed, then shaken in the bottle with the liquids.  After everything fizzes out, what’s left is a crystalline powder that users smoke, snort or inject.  And there it is: meth-making without the lighting of a single match.

A major plus since cooking it up Breaking Bad-style can sometimes trigger fires, explosions, and the release of byproduct ingredients similar to toxic waste.  But while this “shake-and-bake” method has caused a spiking in meth-related arrests throughout Oklahoma and Missouri, it’s by no means foolproof:

If there is any oxygen at all in the bottle, it has a propensity to make a giant fireball,” said Sgt. Jason Clark of the Missouri State Highway Patrol’s Division of Drug and Crime Control.  “You’re not dealing with rocket scientists here anyway.  If they get unlucky at all, it can have a very devastating reaction.  One little mistake, such as unscrewing the bottle cap too fast, can result in a huge blast.”

Thanks, I’ll remember that during my next Palmdale picnic!

Because Big Pharma‘s involved, I find today’s second dose of news more alarming than the first.  While I was thumbing through the latest issue of Parents (I just read it for the articles!), I paused on an ad for the Bristol-Myers Squibb drug, “Abilify,” which seems designed to combat depression, even schizophrenia.

But Abilify’s not some run-of-the-mill anti-depressant like Prozac or Paxil.  No, because “approximately 2 out of 3 (!) people being treated for depression still have unresolved symptoms,” Abilify’s been designed to take ON TOP of those drugs, a supplement to the supplement you’re already taking.  An anti-depressant chaser, if you will!  Oh, Bristol-Myers, you’ve sure got your finger on the pulse of self-medicating America!  But where does it all end—chasers for the chaser?

Of course, the usual disclaimers warning you of the possible meltdown of your bodily functions haunt the Abilify print ad (as well as the following video).  Above all else, these ads warn, “Talk to your doctor.”  Hmm…I’m pretty sure millions of Americans are now finding it utterly depressing to be without heathcare.  Hey, Bristol-Myers: to whom should they be speaking to?!

 
As seen in The Huffington Post: New Do-It-Yourself Meth Formula Flys Under The Radar Of Anti-Drug Laws

Via TWBE: Saddest Calvin And Hobbes Ever!

Posted by Bradley Novicoff
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08.25.2009
04:49 pm
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Freaky Optical Illusion
08.20.2009
01:53 am
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They’re hollow! Sikhote says, “We produce dogs, cats, wolfs and other animals and people. All items are high quality painted by Russian artist Avakyan and other St-Petersburg full time professional artists. Can be made by porcelain, wooden carvings and gipsum.”


Thanks Winslow Robertson!

Posted by Tara McGinley
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08.20.2009
01:53 am
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