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Saturday, 30 July 2011

kiting near the ceiling

1936 edition of Monopoly (from: Recycled Thoughts from a Retro Gamer)

"Very soon, Congress will raise the debt ceiling. If it does not, it would be the greatest unforced error in American history, a self-inflicted wound that is as disastrous as it was avoidable.
     Suppose, however, that the tea party gets its way, and the debt ceiling is not increased. What are President Barack Obama's options?
     We are having a debt-ceiling crisis because Congress has given the president contradictory commands; it has ordered the president to spend money, and it has forbidden him to borrow enough money to obey its orders.
     Are there other ways for the president to raise money besides borrowing?
     Sovereign governments such as the United States can print new money. However, there's a statutory limit to the amount of paper currency that can be in circulation at any one time.
     Ironically, there's no similar limit on the amount of coinage. A little-known statute gives the secretary of the Treasury the authority to issue platinum coins in any denomination. So some commentators have suggested that the Treasury create two $1 trillion coins, deposit them in its account in the Federal Reserve and write checks on the proceeds. [...]" — Jack M. Balkin, CNN

"The largest denomination banknote ever officially issued for circulation was in 1946 by the Hungarian National Bank for the amount of 100 quintillion pengő (100,000,000,000,000,000,000, or 1020; 100 million million million) image. (There was even a banknote worth 10 times more, i.e. 1021 pengő, printed, but not issued image.) The banknotes however did not depict the numbers, 'hundred million b.-pengő' ('hundred million trillion pengő') and 'one milliard b.-pengő' were spelled out instead. This makes the 500,000,000,000 Yugoslav October dinar and 100,000,000,000,000 Zimbabwean dollar banknotes the notes with the greatest number of zeros shown.
     The Post-World War II hyperinflation of Hungary held the record for the most extreme monthly inflation rate ever — 41,900,000,000,000,000% (4.19 × 1016% or 41.9 quadrillion percent) for July, 1946, amounting to prices doubling every 13.5 hours. By comparison, recent figures (as of 14 November 2008) estimate Zimbabwe's annual inflation rate at 89.7 sextillion (1021) percent.,[17] which corresponds to a monthly rate of 5473%, and a doubling time of about five days. In figures, that is 89,700,000,000,000,000,000,000%."— Wikipedia

mind matter

From: Reanimation Library

"In 1827 came a report by a Dr Rogers in the Medico-Chirurgical Transactions, where a young man received a frontal impact, again from a [musket] breech explosion. It was not until another three weeks, when the soldier, ‘discovered a piece of iron lodged within the head in the bottom of the wound from which a considerable quantity of bone had come away… it proved to be the breech pin of the gun three inches in length and three ounces in weight.’ Four months later he was ‘perfectly cured’. Another case, here, was of an exploding breech pin penetrating 1½ inches into the brain, making a hole ¾ inch in diameter, resulting in an ‘escape of cerebral substance.’ But ‘no severe symptoms occurred, and recovery took place in less than 24 days.’
     [...] One advantage of gunpowder is that it is also a strong antiseptic, which soldiers would sprinkle on battle wounds. As the foreheads of these victims were probably fortuitously coated with gunpowder dust, before penetration by what would have been a sterile piece of breech, the risk of infection was reduced. Fortunately, with the introduction of the rifle and all-metal cartridges, around 1860, most of these injuries disappeared, as did the musket."— Jim Horne, The Psychologist

being: human

Anne Francis with Robby the Robot (Forbidden Planet, 1956)
From: From Midnight With Love

" 'You believe I'm real, and you believe that thing is not human,' he says, gesturing back at his twin. 'But this distinction will become more difficult as the technology advances. If you finally can't tell the difference, does it really matter if you're interacting with a human or machine?' An ideal use for his twin, he says, would be to put it at the faraway home of his mother, whom he rarely visits, so she could be with him more.
     'Why would your mother accept a robot?' I ask.
     Two faces scowl back at me. 'Because it is myself,' says one.
     [...] How much everyday human function do we want to outsource to machines? What should they look like? Do we want androids like Yume puttering about in our kitchens, or would a mechanical arm tethered to the backsplash do the job better, without creeping us out? How will the robot revolution change the way we relate to each other? A cuddly robotic baby seal developed in Japan to amuse seniors in eldercare centers has drawn charges that it could cut them off from other people. Similar fears have been voiced about future babysitting robots. And of course there are the halting attempts to create ever willing romantic androids. Last year a New Jersey company introduced a talking, touch-sensitive robot 'companion,' raising the possibility of another kind of human disconnect. [...]" — Chris Carroll, National Geographic
See earlier posts: here...
and here...

Friday, 29 July 2011

small, fast, clean

From:  Reanimation Library

"White Castle was founded in 1921 in Wichita, Kansas. Cook Walter A. Anderson partnered with insurance man Edgar Waldo "Billy" Ingram to make White Castle into a chain of restaurants and market White Castle. At the time, Americans were hesitant to eat ground beef after Upton Sinclair's 1906 novel The Jungle had publicized the poor sanitation practices of the meat packing industry.

[...] Anderson developed an efficient method for cooking hamburgers, using freshly ground beef and fresh onions. The ground beef was formed into balls by machine, eighteen to a pound, or forty per kilogram. The balls were placed upon a hot grill and topped with a handful of fresh, thinly shredded onion. Then they were flipped so that the onion was under the ball. The ball was then squashed down, turning the ball into a very thin patty. [...]" — Wikipedia

Sunday, 24 July 2011

sunday snapshots

small is beautiful

From: NewScientist

"[...] Scientists have identified nine antibiotic molecules in the brains of cockroaches and locusts that protect them from voracious, lethal bacteria. [...] Researchers at Britain’s University of Nottingham found that when MRSA is pitted against the antibiotics in a cockroach brain, the bacteria don’t stand a chance. The cockroach molecules wipe out 90 percent of MRSA bacteria on contact."— UTNE Reader
and more here...

"[...] The zombie roach crawls where its master leads, which turns out to be the wasp’s burrow. The roach creeps obediently into the burrow and sits there quietly, while the wasp plugs up the burrow with pebbles. Now the wasp turns to the roach once more and lays an egg on its underside. The roach does not resist. The egg hatches, and the larva chews a hole in the side of the roach. In it goes." — bOING bOING

"[Ram Gal and Frederic Libersat] took a closer look at the SEG [sub-esophageal ganglia] of zombified cockroaches. Using an electrode, they measured the activity of the SEG. They discovered that the neurons in the SEG became quiet. They spontaneoulsy fired half as often as the neurons in the SEG of normal cockroaches. And a puff of air on the antennae of the zombified roaches–which usually triggers a roar of activity in the SEG so that the insect can escape–produced only half the normal activity in the neurons." — Discover

Saturday, 23 July 2011

I'm bored with that line. I never use it anymore. My new line is "In 15 minutes everybody will be famous." — Andy Warhol

From: Reanimation Library

"Fame is the No. 1 value emphasized by television shows popular with 9- to 11-year-olds, a dramatic change over the past 10 years, UCLA psychologists report in a new study.
[...] The top five values in 2007 were fame, achievement, popularity, image and financial success. In 1997, the top five were community feeling, benevolence (being kind and helping others), image, tradition and self-acceptance. In 2007, benevolence dropped to the 12th spot and community feeling fell to 11th. Financial success went from 12th in 1967 and 1997 to fifth in 2007. The two least emphasized values in 2007 were spiritualism (16th) and tradition (15th); tradition had been ranked fourth in 1997. "— Science Daily
From: Yahoo Answers

"Sorry, parents, but no little Lucifers will be entering this world. Not in New Zealand, anyways.
     The country’s Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages is cracking down on parents who want to give their little bundle of joy names that are too creative.The name Messiah has also been turned down, as have requests to name kids 89, C, D, I and T. As well, the agency has refused to give a pass to full stops, asterisks, virgules and other punctuation marks.
     In Sweden, where a naming law governs just what monikers parents can bestow on their children, courts have approved names such as Lego and Google. Superman, Metallica and Elvis didn’t pass the test, however. Nor did the name Brfxxccxxmnpcccclllmmnprxvclmnckssqlbb11116, pronounced Albin." — Dave McGinn, The Globe and Mail

"When Deborah and Heath Campbell of Easton, Penn., tried to order a birthday cake from a local supermarket last year, Child Protective Services were called; the birthday boy was named Adolf Hitler Campbell (and his sisters were JoyceLynn Aryan Nation Campbell and Honszlynn Himmler Jeannie Campbell)." — The New York Times

"[...] Talented kids are a dime a dozen, and that's why you need Billionaire Baby. This book shows you how to make your child stand out in a crowd. It gives you straightforward and practical strategies for staying one step ahead of everyone else. It will help you design a blueprint for where you're headed, a plan to carry you through, and a path that will lead your child to stardom. Whether your youngster is a model, an actor, a dancer, or the next Hilary Duff --Billionaire Baby is a must-read guide for any and every parent who is serious about creating a long-term, successful, and profitable entertainment career for their child." — description of Billionaire Baby: How To Make Your Child Rich and Famous

Friday, 22 July 2011

gut thinking

From: Reanimation Library and International Styles

"The concept that the gut and the brain are closely connected, and that this interaction plays an important part not only in gastrointestinal function but also in certain feeling states and in intuitive decision making, is deeply rooted in our language. Recent neurobiological insights into this gut–brain crosstalk have revealed a complex, bidirectional communication system that not only ensures the proper maintenance of gastrointestinal homeostasis and digestion but is likely to have multiple effects on affect, motivation and higher cognitive functions, including intuitive decision making."— nature reviews

"Technically known as the enteric nervous system, the second brain consists of sheaths of neurons embedded in the walls of the long tube of our gut, or alimentary canal, which measures about nine meters end to end from the esophagus to the anus. The second brain contains some 100 million neurons, more than in either the spinal cord or the peripheral nervous system, says [...] Michael Gershon, chairman of the Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology at New York–Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center, an expert in the nascent field of neurogastroenterology and author of the 1998 book The Second Brain (HarperCollins)." — Adam Hadhazy, Scientific American

"[German psychologist Gerd Gigerenzer] was one of the researchers whose studies of human cognition underpinned Malcolm Gladwell's 2005 best-seller, Blink, which was about how snap decisions often seem to yield better results than careful analysis. In his new book, Gut Feelings, Gigerenzer describes some of the quick-and-dirty decision-making tools our brains come fitted with--an 'adaptive toolbox' of tricks that we skilfully, and usually unconsciously, pick for the task at hand. [...] 100 pedestrians were stopped and asked which of 50 company stocks they recognised. The portfolio this generated beat 88% of all entrants in a stock-picking competition. 'Ignorance isn't random; it's systematic,' says Gigerenzer. 'If you know too much, it is harder to distinguish between what is important, and what is not.' " — Helen Joyce, More Intelligent Life

Thursday, 21 July 2011

carving out a destiny

From: Antiques A to Z
Akadian Period Dilmun-Scribe Cylinder Seal (Sumerian)
c. 2350-2200 B.C.
From: Antiques A to Z

"A magnificent large cylinder in a heavy black stone, deeply incised and heavily modeled as on typical Akkadian seals. It shows Utu-Shamash watering the animals of Dilmun under the orders of Enki, the water spouting in two streams from the sacred pot in his hands. There is a large bottom border of the flowing waters of the river between its banks." — Antiques A to Z

From: Wikimedia Commons

"[Joseph] Tubb carved the 20-line poem into the tree over two weeks [...]. Taking a ladder and a tent to the beech tree, Tubb carved the poem into the tree from memory, regularly forgetting to take the original copy with him. Sources vary as to whether the carving took place in 1844 or between 1844 and 1845." — Wikipedia

"A 12-year-old Queens girl was hauled out of school in handcuffs for an artless offense - doodling her name on her desk in erasable marker, the Daily News has learned. [...] She was led out of school in cuffs and walked to the precinct across the street, where she was detained for several hours, she and her mother said. [...]
Alexa is still suspended from her school, her mother said. She and her mom went to family court on Tuesday, where Alexa was assigned eight hours of community service, a book report and an essay on what she learned from the experience. — Rachel Monahan, New York Daily News

"Tennessee House Rep. Julia Hurley (R-Lenoir City) has confirmed that she carved her initials into her desk in the state legislature. The freshman rep previously drew unwarranted, misogynist derision because she had worked as a 'Hooters girl,' which has no bearing on her capacity to understand and deliberate on legislative issues. On the other hand, this childish display is indeed pretty disappointing -- and she isn't the only one who's done it, as there are other initials and dollar signs carved into the House's desks." — bOING bOING

"A doctor in New York has lost his medical licence after he carved his initials on a patient's stomach because he was so proud of the caesarian section he performed on her." — BBC News

From: News Blaze

"It takes long and painful hours to carve a sophisticated pattern in the human skin. First, the skin, usually on the back, must be disinfected, just like all the tools that will be used. At best, body carving should be performed in a clean, sterile room with an operating ventilation system. Often does it happen, however, that it is carried out in a semi-professional garage. This can result in a serious infection at best and in painful death at worst. Pieces of skin fall off the body, revealing red wounds that, in the months to come, would heal into a pinkish pattern. The scraps are either burned or taken by their owner." — Krzys Wasilewski, News Blaze

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

food seance

From: Heliflopter

"A collagen matrix is impregnated with cultured muscle cells, thousands of them, all derived from a single muscle cell extracted from an animal. [...] It works with fish, too -- artificial fillets have been grown from gold fish cells. Apparently it’s hideous wet muck that tastes like the first time you ate mushy peas out of a dead tramp’s arse. But still, it’s early days.
" [...] In the Polynesian islands, human meat has always been known as 'long pig,' because people taste like pork. The incredibly efficient air filters in hospitals’ burn-wards are there to remove the overpowering smell of barbecued pork. I like to think that hospitals are so assiduous about it because human meat smells so good, and that without the filters the staff and visitors would go mad with food-lust and start devouring the burned patients. What if people are the tastiest meat of all?" — Warren Ellis, Wired Magazine
"For a brief time in Europe, an unusual form of cannibalism occurred when thousands of Egyptian mummies preserved in bitumen were ground up and sold as medicine. The practice developed into a wide-scale business which flourished until the late 16th century. This 'fad' ended because the mummies were revealed actually to be recently killed slaves. Two centuries ago, mummies were still believed to have medicinal properties against bleeding, and were sold as pharmaceuticals in powdered form." — Wikipedia

Monday, 18 July 2011

you are WHAT YOU EAT is you

"The Ouroboros (or Uroborus) is an ancient symbol depicting a serpent or dragon eating its own tail. It comes from the Greek words oura (Greek οὐρά) meaning 'tail' and boros (Greek βόρος) meaning 'eating,' thus 'he who eats the tail.' " — Wikipedia

" [...] human gelatin genes are inserted into a strain of yeast, which can produce gelatin with controllable features. The researchers are still testing the human-yeast gelatin to see how well it compares to other gelatins in terms of its viscosity and other attributes. Chen and colleagues suggest that their method could be scaled up to produce large amounts of gelatin for commercial use." — Science Daily
See previous post about gelatins

"[...] But one restaurant in London is selling breast milk ice cream which is being served to customers in a cocktail glass. Icecreamists, based in Covent Garden, have named the £14 dish Baby Gaga. Victoria Hiley, 35, from Leeds provided the first 30 fluid ounces of milk which was enough to make the first 50 servings."— Daily Mail

"Chinese scientists have produced a herd of genetically modified cows that make milk that could substitute for human breast milk -- a possible alternative to formula in a nation rocked by tainted milk powder scandals. [...] 'The genetically modified cow milk is 80 percent the same as human breast milk,' said Li Ning, a professor and the project's director as well as lead researcher. — Reuters

"GM [genetically modified] DNA can survive processing and is detectable in the digestive tract of sheep. This raises the possibility that antibiotic resistance and Bt insecticide genes can move into gut bacteria 23, a process known as horizontal gene transfer. Horizontal gene transfer can lead to antibiotic resistant disease-causing bacteria ('superbugs') and may lead to Bt insecticide being produced in the gut with potentially harmful consequences. For years, regulators and the biotech industry claimed that horizontal gene transfer would not occur with GM DNA, but this research challenges this claim." — Dr. John Fagan (via Intent)

"In the first modification of its kind, Japanese researchers have inserted a gene from the human liver into rice to enable it to digest pesticides and industrial chemicals. The gene makes an enzyme, code-named CPY2B6, which is particularly good at breaking down harmful chemicals in the body." — Organic Consumers Association

"[...] Some people will engage in self-cannibalism as an extreme form of body modification, for example eating their own skin. Others will drink their own blood, a practice called autovampirism, but sucking blood from wounds is generally not seen to be cannibalism. Placentophagy may be a form of self-cannibalism. On January 13, 2007, Chilean artist Marco Evaristti hosted a dinner party for his most intimate friends. The main meal was agnolotti pasta, which was topped with a meatball made from the artist's own fat, removed in the previous year in a liposuction operation."

Sunday, 17 July 2011

everybody must get stoned

Cutting the Stone, also called The Extraction of the Stone
of Madness or The Cure of Folly by Hieronymus Bosch
(Museo del Prado in Madrid) circa 1494

"The great artist Hieronymus Bosch immortalized the scene of a physician trepanning the skull to remove stones in his painting The Cure of Folly, otherwise known as The Extraction of the Stone of Madness. This painting depicts the scene with a dry wit and sarcastic view of the removal of the stone of madness. The 'doctor' in the scene is wearing a funnel hat, an early symbol of madness, indicating that he is also insane. He is trepanning the skull of a patient, in order to retrieve the stone from within the patient’s skull.[...]
     Whether ridiculous or not, the practice of removing stones from the heads of the insane continued as late as the 20th century, when practitioners would produce a small stone after the procedure, stating that they had removed it from within the brain." — Elzabeth Roberts, Brain Blogger

It is interesting to note that the word "stoned" can be attributed to any creature with testicles, especially in the context of animal husbandry. A stallion, a "stoned horse," was often considered "crazy" until it was gelded or broken.

From: An Analytical Digest of the Laws of the District of Columbia by M. Thompson, 1863
(Read more...)

Saturday, 16 July 2011

like rabbits

From: Reanimation Library
"Another Draize Test  [...] on rabbits in restraining devices. The substance to be tested is poured into the rabbits' eyes and onto their skin, and left there for days until the organ becomes necrotic. This test was invented in 1944, and continues to be used, unaltered." — all-creatures
See more... (caution)

"Since the mid-1940s researchers have tested the skin-irritancy potential of chemicals primarily on albino rabbits. In a procedure called the Draize rabbit skin test, a patch of the animal's fur is shaved and the test substance is applied to the bare skin for up to four hours. A trained technician then monitors the skin for as many as 14 days for signs of an adverse reaction and subjectively scores the severity of the reaction. The Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS) classifies a substance as an irritant if it causes reversible damage to the skin or a corrosive if it causes burns or permanent scarring (irreversible damage)." — Nicholette Zeliadt, Scientific American

"[...] The film, obtained using a hidden camera inside Wickham Laboratories, a long-established facility in Hampshire that tests drugs for pharmaceutical companies, also shows rabbits being incompetently injected with other drugs. Staff are filmed botching injections and swearing at struggling rabbits, which are immobilised in "stocks" for up to eight hours in experiments that test whether drugs cause fevers.
[...] The filming included a sequence in which a member of staff made a number of attempts to inject a rabbit. She is recorded calling the animal 'a little shit' and 'a disgrace.' She warned the rabbit that it could end up with 'ear-rings' — a reference to punctures in its ear from failed attempts at injections. Another member of staff is recorded remarking that blood is coming out of the rabbit's ear." — Maria Woolf, The Times of India

Friday, 15 July 2011

Thursday, 14 July 2011

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

"Part of the secret of success in life is to eat what you like and let the food fight it out inside." — Mark Twain

Saturn Devouring His Son by Francisco de Goya (1819)

"How fresh is too fresh? We insist upon sushi so fresh the fish essentially lacks any smell or--I would say--taste. But we recoil (most of us would, anyway) at the notion of eating sannakji: live octopus dipped in sesame oil and chili sauce. As the name hints, sannakji is a Korean dish. A live baby octopus is plucked from the water, cut up and served, the tentacles still writhing on the plate. The dish can be quite dangerous to eat; the suction-cup-lined tentacles tend to grab onto anything they can, including the diner's throat. I consider myself a fairly adventurous eater, but the notion of putting anything writhing into my mouth makes me shudder."
— Jon Fasman, More Intelligent Life

"The first time I try to grab the live shrimp it twists and turns so much that it jumps out through my fingers. The second time I pinch a bit harder and quickly dip the translucent creature in the accompanying emulsion of brown butter. When it lands on my tongue it does a little hop, skip and a jump before I decapitate it with my teeth and swallow the wonderful blend of crunchy shells, soft tail meat and creamy sweet butter."— Guardian

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

" ' " and i quote..." ' "

Photo: Michael Hale
There's a sliding scale of acceptability spanning our culture's citation-free landscape — from the high ground of meme and "general knowledge" to the muddy bog of rip-off and appropriation; from mimicry to theft.
     But what about forgery? It it the same, or the opposite? Plagiarists claim ownership; forgers disavow it. Their common ground, of course, is deception.

"Originally, feathers evolved to retain heat; later, they were repurposed for a means of flight. No one ever accuses the descendants of ancient birds of plagiarism for taking heat-retaining feathers and modifying them into wings for flight. In our current system, the original feathers would be copyrighted, and upstart birds would get sued for stealing the feathers for a different use. Almost all famous discoveries (by Edison, Darwin, Einstein, et al.) were not lightning-bolt epiphanies but were built slowly over time and heavily dependent on the intellectual superstructure of what had come before them. The commonplace book was popular among English intellectuals in the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries. These notebooks were a depository for thoughts and quotes and were usually categorized by topic. Enquire Within Upon Everything was a commercially successful take-off on the commonplace book in London in 1890. There’s no such thing as originality.
     Invention and innovation grow out of rich networks of people and ideas. All life on earth (and by extension, technology) is built upon appropriation and reuse of the preexisting."
David Shields, Los Angeles Review of Books
"That may seem short to you, but according to modern estimates of the entropy in ordinary running English text [thanks to Fernando Pereira for information that led me to revised this post on April 26], if you graph the word positions in English text against the number of words that would be grammatically possible as the next word given the last few words of the text, although the numbers vacillate wildly, the average across them all tends to settle in at something approaching 100. If that's right, then at any arbitrary starting point in an arbitrary text, if text was being composed at random, the probability that you will find the next 14 words match some previously designated sequence of 14 words is very roughly in the region of 1 in 1028, i.e., 0.0000000000000000000000000001." — Geoffrey K. Pullum, Language Log
“Plagiarism is passing off one’s work as your own, but that doesn’t necessarily make it copyright infringement,” Justin Hughes, the director of the intellectual property law program at Yeshiva University’s Cardozo School of Law, said. “In an infringement action, a person can use a ‘fair use’ defense. That is, that they didn’t use so many words as to be guilty of infringement.” — The Harvard Crimson

Monday, 11 July 2011

“Happiness in intelligent people is the rarest thing I know.” — Ernest Hemingway

Source images: Wikipmedia Commons
"'At that point I began to get excited', says Flynn, 'because I began to feel that I was bridging the gulf between our minds and the minds of our ancestors. We weren't more intelligent than they, but we had learnt to apply our intelligence to a new set of problems. We had detached logic from the concrete, we were willing to deal with the hypothetical, and we thought the world was a place to be classified and understood scientifically rather than to be manipulated.'

[...] The Flynn effect is not a story of pure gains. There are signs that children are missing concrete experiences that help develop some mental abilities. Michael Shayer, a psychologist at King's College, London, has spent most of his working life studying the foundations of mathematical ability. In 1976 he tested children on their understanding of volume and shape, an understanding thought by many to underlie all future mathematical ability. When he repeated the tests in 2003, 11-year-olds performed only as well as eight-year-olds had done 30 years earlier." — More Intelligent Life

Saturday, 9 July 2011

i am what you think i am — revisited

Photo: Michael Hale

"WINE buffs are like art collectors. Few can tell the difference between a well-made fake and the real thing. Yet whereas counterfeit art has been around for centuries, wine forgery is relatively new. It started in the late 1970s when the prices of the best wines—especially those from Bordeaux—shot up. Today, with demand from China fuelling a remarkable boom, counterfeiting is rife. By some estimates 5% of fine wines sold at auction or on the secondary market are not what they claim to be on the label." — The Economist

"Inventors say a bottle of any bargain booze can be transformed in just 30 minutes, using space-age ultrasound technology. The £350 gadget - which looks like an ordinary ice bucket - recreates the effects of decades of aging by colliding alcohol molecules inside the bottle."Daily Mail

"Brad Goldstein runs a fraud-investigation team on behalf of billionaire wine collector Bill Koch, who was allegedly swindled by Hardy Rodenstock with counterfeit bottles. Although old Bordeaux are the most commonly faked wines, there are more and more fraudulent Burgundies, says Goldstein. Here are five wines he’s found to be most frequently faked:
'I believe that Serena Sutcliffe, the wine director of Sotheby’s, once said there are more bottles of ’47 Cheval Blanc in the market than were ever produced,' Goldstein remarks of this famous wine from St-Émilion.
This legendary Sauternes 'wasn’t in the market until the 1970s. In fact, the 1811 was nonexistent until Rodenstock "rediscovered" it,' says Goldstein.
'This was the first year that Mouton estate-bottled its wines; any supposedly estate-bottled wines from before this vintage are undeniably fake,' says Goldstein.
Pétrus (especially in a magnum) is a favorite of fraudsters. Goldstein has seen all kinds of fake Pétrus, including bottles with capsules the wrong color and labels made from artificially aged paper.
'We’re seeing more and more fake DRCs,' Goldstein says of this great grand cru domaine. 'It’s “the favorite Burgundy property” for counterfeiters,' he says." — Lettie Teague, FOOD & WINE

"Past research indicates the potential of ultrasound treatment for bringing about the same effect as natural ageing on wine. Ultrasound is known to induce cativation, which creates high localised temperatures and pressures in a liquid medium. Applying cativation from ultrasound radiation to wine can alter the interaction of wine ingredients to obtain chemical and structural changes in the wine that resemble those that occur after many years of natural ageing. Research also indicates that such treatment considerably extends the peak period of wine, thereby improving its shelf life." — Ultrafine Wine

From WikiAnswers:

But it sure would make your pee taste better...

Friday, 8 July 2011

“No object is so beautiful that, under certain conditions, it will not look ugly.” — Oscar Wilde

Photo: Michael Hale

"The medial orbitofrontal cortex has previously been linked to the appreciation of beauty, but this is the first time that scientists have been able to show that the same area of the brain is activated for both visual and auditory beauty in the same subjects. This implies that beauty does, indeed, exist as an abstract concept within the brain." — Wellcome Trust
"The 'subjective' perspective was evaluated by contrasting beautiful vs. ugly sculptures, this time as judged by each participant who decided whether or not the sculpture was aesthetic. The images judged to be beautiful selectively activated the right amygdala, a structure that responds to learned incoming information laden with emotional value." — Science Daily
"The notion that beauty can be boiled down to binary data and interpreted by a mathematical model is nothing new. More than 2,000 years ago the Greek mystic, philosopher and mathematician Pythagoras observed the connection between math, geometry and beauty. He reasoned that features of physical objects corresponding to the 'golden ratio ' were considered most attractive."— Science Daily
And more...

Thursday, 7 July 2011

i am what you think i am

On loan from the forger John Myatt, "Harlequin Disturbs Sleeping Fish,” is in the manner of Joan Miró. After almost a decade of forging paintings and a brief prison term, Myatt continues to produce and sell works in the style of other artists. The back of each work bears the inscription "Genuine Fake.” from: Antiques and the Arts Online

"In the first room there are some masterpieces by de Staël, Chagall and Giacometti – but they are really by John Myatt, one of the greatest forgers of the late 20th century. And as an example of changing fashions within the art market there is a ‘Balloon Girl’ stencil print in the style of Banksy, the contemporary graffiti artist.
    It raises so many questions. If John Myatt can paint as well as de Staël, Chagall and Giacometti, does that mean he is the greater artistic genius (because unlike them he is not trapped within a certain style)? Why should the price of a luminous painting crash just because the certificate of authenticity is shown to be worthless? (I know, because it’s a market, and we are paying for the connection with the artist and for the investment)." — Stephen Wang,  Bridges And Tangents
Photo: Michael Hale

" [...] when [piano music connoisseur] Distler loaded [Joyce] Hatto’s CD of Liszt’s “Transcendental Studies” into his computer, he noticed something peculiar. The iTunes database recognised the disc as a recording by the Hungarian pianist, Laszlo Simon.
     Gramophone asked Andrew Rose, an audio expert, to investigate and by comparing the waveforms of the two recordings he could see instantly that ten out of 12 tracks were identical to Simon’s performances. Rose then discovered that Hatto’s version of the fifth Liszt study, “Feux Follets”, was indistinguishable from a recording by a Japanese pianist called Minoru Nojima. What is more, the performance had been speeded up, but digitally manipulated to remain at the same pitch. 'That rang alarm bells,' Rose told me. 'When you speed up recordings, you change the pitch--unless you have set out deliberately to mislead.' [...]

     "Do you experience King Lear, or Robert Stephens’or Paul Schofield’s Lear? It is a paradox that these masterpieces come mostly vividly to life bent through the prism of an almighty interpretative ego. And therein lies the trap. Although our knowledge of the performer enhances our aesthetic experience, it inevitably distorts our critical judgment. [...]"

     It turns out that some of the most widely acclaimed Hatto performances were lifted from several sources and spliced together by Mr Barrington-Coupe. An American collector and pianophile, Farhan Malik, has spent months deconstructing the forgeries. 'In some cases the speeding up really does improve a performance,” he tells me.' I will give you an example: the Chopin Godowsky "Fourth Etude." That’s Carlo Grante. It’s really much better than the original Carlo Grante. Carlo Grante has to slow down for the middle section because it’s more difficult. But Joyce Hatto doesn’t.' [...]
     The Hatto affair raises a number of intriguing aesthetic questions. If Hatto was considered 'one of the greatest pianists no-one has ever heard of' (as Richard Dyer said in the Boston Globe), does this mean that 66 largely-obscure pianists who provided her material deserve the same accolade? Or did the magic spell of these recordings vanish when Hatto was revealed as a fraud? And were Mr Barrington-Coupe’s doctored recordings actually an improvement on the original versions?"— Rod Williams, More Intelligent Life

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

transparently good for you

From: Found In Mom's Basement

"Gelatin, a protein produced from collagen extracted from the boiled bones, connective tissues, and intestines of animals, has been well-known and used for many years. [...] In Utah, where Jell-O is the official state snack, Jello salad is available in local restaurants such as Chuck-A-Rama. [...] In 2001, Green Jell-O was declared the 'Official State Snack' of Utah, with Governor Michael O. Leavitt declaring an annual 'Jell-O Week.' During the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, the souvenir pins included one depicting green Jell-O."
 — Wikipedia
"Since 1986 when the presence of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), also known as mad cow disease, was reported in Great Britain, there has been much concern about the processing of beef bones for the production of gelatin. In 1989, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) banned the importation of cattle from the Department of Agriculture's list of of BSE-designated countries. However, a 1994 FDA ruling allowed the continued importation of bones and tissues for the production of pharmaceutical grade gelatin.
     By 1997, however, the FDA held hearings to reconsider its decision. After interviewing gelatin processors, the agency found that while gelatin has not been implicated in the spread of BSE, officials are not convinced that the manufacturing processing is extracting all possible agents that are responsible for the disease. It was generally agreed that beef sources carry more of a risk than those from pork, that bones carry a higher risk than skins, and that alkaline processing is more effective than the acid-extraction method. These findings will certainly affect the gelatin-processing industry in the next century."
How Products Are Made
"Amongst end users [...], food and beverage manufacturers comprise the largest market for gelatine, which is derived from collagen found in animal skin and bones, and is used for its neutral taste and emulsifying, binding, stabilising and gelling advantages in a range of foods.
     But GIA [Global Industry Analysts] warned that the industry’s steady growth trend is threatened by the growing trend towards vegetarianism among consumers, especially after scares over fatal neuro-degenerative disease BSE (bovine spongiform encephalopathy), which have prompted food manufacturers to source gelatine substitutes.
     [...] gelatine manufacturers are using also new research to combat bad publicity, promoting gelatine as safe for human consumption and making 'concerted efforts to dissipate the misconception that gelatine is a potential carrier of BSE.'” — Ben Boukley, Food Navigator

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

the killing floor

From: Found in Mom's Basement
"[...] Garcia inserted the metal nozzle of a 90-pounds-per-square-inch compressed-air hose and blasted the pigs' brains into a pink slurry. One head every three seconds. A high-pressure burst, a fine rosy mist, and the slosh of brains slipping through a drain hole into a catch bucket. (Some workers say the goo looked like Pepto-Bismol; others describe it as more like a lumpy strawberry milkshake.) When the 10-pound barrel was filled, another worker would come to take the brains for shipping to Asia, where they are used as a thickener in stir-fry. Most days that fall, production was so fast that the air never cleared between blasts, and the mist would slick workers at the head table in a grisly mix of brains and blood and grease. [...]

Since 1989, the line speed at QPP had been steadily increasing—from 750 heads per hour when the plant opened to 1,350 per hour in 2006, though the workforce barely increased. To speed production, the company installed a conveyor system and humming automatic knives throughout the plant, reducing skilled tasks to single motions. Workers say nearly everyone suffered from carpal tunnel syndrome or some repetitive stress injury, but by October 2007, there were signs of something else. Workers from QPP's kill floor were coming to Carole Bower, the plant's occupational health nurse, with increasingly familiar complaints: numbness and tingling in their extremities, chronic fatigue, searing skin pain. Bower started noticing workers so tender that they struggled with the stairs to the top-floor locker rooms, high above the roar of the factory line." — Ted Genoways, Mother Jones

Monday, 4 July 2011

dueling with dualism

Photo: Mr. Aaron Smith's Magic Depot

"Ongoing projects question whether the perceived body can be shrunk to the size of a Barbie doll or if the brain can accept a body of a different sex. Other seemingly bizarre recent projects have included giving participants the illusion of shaking hands with themselves, having their stomachs slashed with a kitchen knife and seeing themselves from behind. All were designed to trick participants into a false perception of owning another body." — Benjamin Skuse, Cosmos

"[...] watching a rubber hand being stroked synchronously with one's own unseen hand causes the rubber hand to be attributed to one's own body, to 'feel like it's my hand'[...]. This illusion does not occur when the rubber hand is stroked asynchronously with respect to the participant's own hand." — Oxford Journals - Cerebral Cortex

Sunday, 3 July 2011

into the wide blue yonder

Photo montage: Michael Hale (Image sources available on request)

"On 16 July 2010, Prime Minister Stephen Harper's Conservative government announced that it would buy 65 F-35s to replace the existing 80 McDonnell Douglas CF-18 Hornets for CAN$16 billion  [my emphasis] with all ancillary costs included) with deliveries planned for 2016. The intention to sign a future sole-sourced, untendered contract and the government's refusal to provide detailed costing became one of the major causes of the finding of contempt of Parliament and the subsequent defeat of the Conservative government through a non-confidence vote on 25 March 2011." — Wikipedia

"Canada significantly overpaid for new fighter jets jointly developed with the United States and its allies, a parliamentary watchdog said Thursday. Parliamentary Budget Officer Kevin Page said in a report Ottawa should expect to doll out as much as CAN$29.3 billion [my emphasis] (US$30 billion) for the purchase and maintenance of 65 F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighters over 30 years.
     The estimate is nearly double the amount suggested by the government, and opposition parties pounced on the report to criticize Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his Conservatives." — Defense Talk

"Fiction #3: The F-35s will cost $75 million each.
Reality:  Mike Sullivan, a Director in the U.S. Government Accountability Office, recently told CBC that the $75 million (CAD) per fighter jet estimate frequently cited by the Conservatives is “not a number that I am familiar with at all.”  A report from Canada’s Parliamentary Budget Office also confirms that, “a figure of $75 million does not match other data points in the public domain.” Mr. Sullivan estimates that for the F-35 A variant Canada will pay “somewhere between $110 and $115 million” (USD) per fighter jet – an assessment in line with what other countries are estimating. [...]
      "Meanwhile, Canadians have no details about the engines of Canada’s F-35s, who will provide them, or how much they will cost (“Engines not included in Canada’s $29B fighter jet deal,” [my emphasis] Postmedia News, April 16, 2011).  In the U.S., the F-35 engine is purchased through a separate contract directly with Pratt and Whitney.  The F-35 engine contract will cost the United States an estimated $75 billion (USD), and is experiencing development cost overruns of $3.4 billion.  (“U.S. “not happy” with F-35 engine cost overruns,” Reuters, April 13, 2011)."Liberal.ca

"Total costs on the first three production contracts for the new radar-evading warplane and its primary engine overshot their targets by 11 to 15 percent, said Joe DellaVedova, spokesman for the Pentagon's F-35 program office.
     The Pentagon has restructured the $382 billion program twice in two years to get a grip on nagging technical issues and repeated cost overruns. [...]
     The fourth production contract included 11 Air Force variants at $111.6 million each, excluding the engine [my emphasis]; 17 short takeoff, vertical landing versions of the F-35, priced at $109.4 million; and four Navy variant planes, to be used aboard large aircraft carriers, which would cost $142.9 million each." —Reuters
And more here...

Saturday, 2 July 2011

i say this only because i want to make you happy...

Original image from: Reanimation Library

"And on that day, I had no idea how sex worked. I don’t know why I had not bothered to find out.
He was propped up on his arms when he couldn’t find my vagina with his penis, so he said, “Put me inside.”
I said, “What?”
“Inside you. Use your hand.”
“I don’t know where the hole is.”
“What? Are you kidding me?”
“There are a lot of holes down there. I don’t know which one is for sex.”
“You are so stupid.”
He eventually put his penis in. He said, “Am I in?”
I said, “I don’t know.”
Then he came. And I returned to doing homework. (…)"
Penelope Trunk

Watch the video: Asperger's High

"Korean researchers found that deleting the appropriately named FucM gene causes masculinization of the mouse brain, so that female mice lacking the gene avoid the advances of males and try to mate with other females instead." — Scienceblogs

"[...] semen has a very complicated chemical profile, containing over 50 different compounds (including hormones, neurotransmitters, endorphins and immunosupressants) each with a special function and occurring in different concentrations within the seminal plasma. Perhaps the most striking of these compounds is the bundle of mood-enhancing chemicals in semen. There is good in this goo. Such anxiolytic chemicals include, but are by no means limited to, cortisol (known to increase affection), estrone (which elevates mood), prolactin (a natural antidepressant), oxytocin (also elevates mood), thyrotropin-releasing hormone (another antidepressant), melatonin (a sleep-inducing agent) and even serotonin (perhaps the most well-known antidepressant neurotransmitter)." —Jesse Bering, Scientific American

" 'Throw away the perfume and go get some pumpkin pie,' said Dr. Alan Hirsch, Director of Chicago's Smell and Taste Treatment and Research Center.
     In a study of men ages 18 to 64, 40 aromas were tested to determine which arouses men the most. The smell of pumpkin pie topped ladies' fragrances.
     'The number one odor that enhanced penile blood flow was a combination of lavender and pumpkin pie,' said Hirsch.
     Hirsch said the combination increased penile blood flow by an average of 40 percent in participants. Pumpkin pie was the single strongest stimulant." — Victor Blackwell, wpbf.com
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