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Thursday, 23 February 2012

dog years

"Chinese chef Wang Wei Min shows off cooked dog paws [...]" Foreign Policy

"Louise invited 80 guests to the lavish ceremony to watch Lola tie the knot with Mugly a Chinese Crested, who holds the title of the UKs ugliest dog after first winning the accolade in 2005.
     The bash was held in an outdoor marquee in the grounds of a mansion in Bradwell-on-Sea, Essex, costing £2,500 for the venue alone.
     She also spent an incredible £1000 on decorative flowers, £3000 on designers to decorate the marquee, £400 for her own personal wedding planner, and even £400 for security guards."
The Telegraph

"The world's population is burning through the planet's resources at such a reckless rate – about 28 per cent more last year - it will eventually cause environmental havoc, said the Worldwatch Institute, a US think-tank. [...]
     The average American consumes more than his or her weight in products each day, many US two year-olds can recognise the McDonald’s 'Golden Arches' sign, although they cannot read the letter, and an average western family spends more on their pet than by someone trying to live in Bangladesh. [...]
     At current consumption rates, 200 square metres of solar panels a second and 24 wind turbines every hour were needed to be built to satisfy energy levels. [...]
— Andrew Hough, The Telegraph

"[...] Today, the world spends $49 billion (U.S.) on pet food every year. If half of that amount were added to current annual spending on maternal and child health, the child death rate could be cut nearly in half."
— Caroline Riseboro, The Star

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

clinical bliss

From: Concept Shed

"AutoWed is a novelty wedding machine offering a quick hitch, a couple of rings and a personalised certificate for just £1/$1. Audio prompts, specially produced music, a bespoke retro keyboard and VFD display, ring vending and ticket printer all wrapped up in a Cadillac-pink cabinet with shiny aluminium fittings."
Concept Shed

Sunday, 12 February 2012

control freaks rule

Pope and Chimpanzee, Francis Bacon (1962)  Nonicoclolasos

"The need to control is almost always fueled by anxiety – though control freaks seldom recognize their fears. At work, they may worry about failure. In relationships, they may worry about not having their needs met. To keep this anxiety from overwhelming them, they try to control the people or things around them. They have a hard time with negotiation and compromise and they can’t stand imperfection. Needless to say, they are difficult to live with, work with and/or socialize with."
—Thomas J. Schumacher, Psy.D., R-CSW, ElderCareOnline

"When did the 1st Amendment change from basically saying that you can practice whatever religion you want and you won’t be burned at the stake as a heretic and we’re not going to form or recognize a national religion like the Church of England? When did it change to 'everyone everywhere has to do what a bunch of old catholics in funny hats wants, because otherwise it hurts their feelings?' And why does it only apply to certain religions?
     I seriously wish other religions would get in on the act. I wish Keith Ellison would start sponsoring bills that allow insurers to cut people’s benefits if they don’t pray to Mecca a certain number of times a day. Or someone Jewish proposing a bill requiring circumcisions or you can’t get health insurance. Just flood the zone with bullshit so people can see how out of control our concept of religious liberty has become."
— John Cole, Balloon Juice

"[...] in an attempt to preserve what they see as a denial of the Church’s right to freedom of conscience, they would force others to abide by their version of that freedom. The bishops cannot have it both ways. The Obama administration makes a somewhat oblique point which is this: If the Catholic Church cannot convince the majority of its own followers of the necessity of avoiding birth control, not using contraceptives for any reason, then why should the government make exceptions for the church. He has a point: study after study, in country after county, show that 80 to 95% of practicing Catholics use or have used birth control at some point in their lives, and do not accept the Church’s teaching on this subject. Even the papal commission appointed by Pope John XXIII and continued by Pope Paul VI, with all but one or two of the members, declared there was no basis for the Church’s teaching on the subject. [...]
     We live in a pluralistic society, where individuals are guaranteed the right to think and believe what they wish about every matter under the sun, including denying such scientifically proven matters as evolution and climate change. One is only not allowed to force others to their beliefs, or to force the government to support one set of beliefs that are contrary to another set of beliefs. In the present situation, the [Affordable Patient Care] Act and the policy are attempting, however imperfectly, to provide as many people as the present political climate will allow, full health care coverage. If the government is using tax dollars to support these programs, and it is, then the programs must be designed such that no individuals are denied the opportunity to avail themselves of these benefits."
— Richard C. Placone, Queering the Church

Saturday, 11 February 2012

bigger... not so much

From: Wasn't the Future Wonderful? (Onosko) E.P.Dutton, 1979

"Congressman John Fleming might be comically out of touch and maybe a little stupid, but his friends on the social network aren't. After he posted a link to an article entitled 'Planned Parenthood Opens $8 Billion Abortionplex' and remarking 'More on Planned Parenthood, abortion by the wholesale,' an exasperated follower remarked 'The Onion is satire. How exactly did you get elected?'"

"A Republican congressman [Rep. Paul Broun (R-Ga.)] from Georgia said Monday he fears that President-elect Obama will establish a Gestapo-like security force to impose a Marxist dictatorship.
     'It may sound a bit crazy and off base, but the thing is, he’s the one who proposed this national security force,' Rep. Paul Broun said of Obama in an interview Monday with The Associated Press. 'I’m just trying to bring attention to the fact that we may — may not, I hope not — but we may have a problem with that type of philosophy of radical socialism or Marxism.'
     Broun cited a July speech by Obama that has circulated on the Internet in which the then-Democratic presidential candidate called for a civilian force to take some of the national security burden off the military.
     'That’s exactly what Hitler did in Nazi Germany and it’s exactly what the Soviet Union did,' Broun said. 'When he’s proposing to have a national security force that’s answering to him, that is as strong as the U.S. military, he’s showing me signs of being Marxist.'”— AP

Friday, 10 February 2012

no bad puns about clowns, please

"For a mere $1,750, the Clone Factory will take a digital 3D model of your head, print it out on a 3D printer, and just like that you have a horrifying 20-inch doll that looks exactly like you. Once your mini head is ready, you may chose a body and an outfit for your tiny monstrosity. Many customers prefer a look that represents a special event, weddings being the most popular, although anything from a sailor outfit to a stormtrooper body is available."
From: Atlas Obscura

"One writer notes that 'genetic engineering has the potential to create a vast army of identical clones, each produced to some preset specification. Canon fodder, scientists, opera singers, all could be manufactured to order…' The New York Times has editorialized, 'Life is special, and humans even more so, but biological machines are still machines that now can be altered, cloned, and patented.' –(Do you realize that between the lines they are talking about bionic robotoids–the robots that are now being created to take the place of people in high places?!) And the chilling idea that human-like machines will be produced that will not be treated as anything but machines. That is a chilling thought too."

See a related article here...

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

“shorn of ethical meaning”

From: BurningSettlersCabin

"At the peak of his career and in the full ripeness of his abundant talents, the intellectual historian Tony Judt was struck down by Lou Gehrig’s disease. He died before his 63rd birthday. Judt was someone America needed in these rancid times: a superbly trained intellect, magnificently informed, passionate about the truth and fearless in speaking it to power. [...]
     In Thinking the Twentieth Century he insists repeatedly on the need to reacquaint ourselves with the facts of our own history, because unless we possess the facts we can never draw the right lessons from them. From this proceeds his view of what the study and writing of history is — or should be — all about: telling the story, 'reminding people that things actually happened,' and '[getting] it right: again and again and again.' It’s because they have lost sight of this essentially simple truth, and have been taught to value 'large theoretical claims about the deconstructive purpose of the research' above getting it right, that academic historians 'don’t know what they’re doing any more.' They have been seduced by the siren song of supposedly pure and beautiful 'higher truths,' saving themselves from involvement in the 'ugly and complicated' real world and, in the process, losing contact with the reading public.
     Only attention to the facts, Judt says, can allow us to engage constructively in the debate that has been at the center of public life for the past century: the rise of the welfare state, and what to make of it. For him, the United States came closest to a sane and satisfying position on the question in the four decades from the 1930s to the 1960s, when something like a national consensus assumed 'that if America could afford to make itself a good society, it should want to do so.' At the root of this assumption lay a sense of community, of 'common need and shared interest.' Americans accepted that it is entirely legitimate to tax for the advancement of the public good, and even to tax all for the benefit of some (those in need of education or medical care, for example).
     Today, as we don’t need Judt to tell us, such assumptions are not only marginal but objects of ridicule, and our two most recent Democratic presidents have been, in important respects, markedly more conservative than Eisenhower. The replacement consensus, the ideology that exalts the market to a position of supremacy over all other possible sources of value and seeks the destruction of social democracy, was implanted in the United States in the form of Reaganism and in the United Kingdom as Thatcherism.
     The arguments for it came directly out of the University of Chicago’s economics department: Milton Friedman and his colleagues and disciples. Ultimately, however, its origins are Austrian: They reach back to Friedrich Hayek and his iconic work The Road to Serfdom. Hayek’s view of politics and economics is powered by his conviction that to allow the state any interference with the workings of the market is to start down a fatally slippery slope at the bottom of which, totalitarianism lies waiting."
— G.J. Meyer, Los Angeles Review of Books

Monday, 6 February 2012

queen for 21,900 days

"This day in history: February 6, 1952. King George VI died in his sleep at age 56 following a long illness, making his eldest daughter, Princess Elizabeth, queen at age 27. Her coronation, the first to be televised, would not take place until June 2, 1953, following an extended period of mourning."
The Vancouver Sun

"To celebrate the 60th anniversary of The Queen’s reign and Headship of the Commonwealth the public are being encouraged to share their memories of the last 60 years with the Jubilee Time Capsule.
     The Jubilee Time Capsule is a digital Diamond Jubilee initiative from the Royal Commonwealth Society (RCS). It is online archive that will chart the 60 years of Her Majesty’s reign from the people’s perspective and will be gifted to The Queen following the Diamond Jubilee weekend.
     The RCS are inviting people from across the globe to share their stories; be they memories of life in a Commonwealth country or memories of world events that have impacted the Commonwealth.
     Stories entered so far range from memories of family weddings to recollections of Ghana’s Independence Day, and from photos of street parties held to celebrate Her Majesty’s coronation in 1953 to memories of school days in the 1990s.
     To submit your story and take part in this Diamond Jubilee project visit www.jubileetimecapsule.org."
The Queen's Diamond Jubilee

"The Queen has decided to stop breeding her famous corgis.
     Her Majesty has become synonymous with the breed since she was given a bitch called Susan on her 18th birthday in 1944. [...]
     The Queen had five corgis and four 'dorgis' — corgi-dachshund crosses. The seven-strong pack will now be left to decrease naturally.
     She was 'deeply upset' earlier in the year when two other favourites died from cancer.
     Royal expert and author Phil Dampier said: 'The dogs have been a massive part of her life and she is devoted to them. The Queen feeds them from the table with titbits and even mixes up some cooked meats, biscuits and gravy every tea-time, which she puts in silver bowls. [...]'"
Daily Mail

Saturday, 4 February 2012

made in iceland

"Ásthildur Magnúsdóttir, a woman of iron will and a brain in each finger, wove 3cm a day in the dead darkness of an epic Icelandic winter. Made from the waste products of the horse farms and slaughterhouses, Ásthildur developed for us a hand-loomed satin from single strands of horsetail hairs. [...]
     Our knit originates from the silk gland of a spider, carefully placed in the milk duct of a goat. The single filament is reeled out of the goat millimetres at a time to produce the most difficult to obtain fibre in the world. Having secured 2 skeins of the silk, each many thousands of metres long, we spent 4 days unravelling it to prepare for knitting.
     A further week was spent gently coaxing two filaments into the knotted web of these garments… And then another week convincing it to become the emperor’s new clothing. Weight for weight, silk is stronger than steel and tougher than Kevlar."
— "Field Dressing by Sruli Recht" (dezeen magazine)

Find out more about Sruli Recht here...

Friday, 3 February 2012

swot like mad

Every Girl's Story Book (The Avenue Press, circa 1938)

My mother's cousin, Ellen Fenton, was presented with this book as a reward for good attendance by the Aintree (Liverpool) Salvation Army Corp in 1938.
     Ellen was later killed in the Blitz at the age of 16 or 17. My mother has a vivid memory of her body laid out on the dining room table, and of the dirt pressed into the back of Ellen's hand by the crumbling masonry that killed her.

Every Girl's Story Book
The Avenue Press,
Drury Lane, London, W.C.2

Stolen! A Scholarship was written by May Wynne
(The illustration on this page is by Lillian Buchanan)

Thursday, 2 February 2012

room with a view

"The polymath Abu Ali al-Hasan ibn al-Haytham (ca.965-1041 CE), known in Latin as Alhazen, was born in Basra, Iraq. After completing his studies in Iraq, he settled in Egypt, wherein he was commissioned by the Fatimid imam caliph al-Hakim (1021 CE) to design a dam on the Nile. Although his prolific contributions covered a variety of disciplines in mathematics, astronomy, and mechanics, his impact was greatest in the field of optics. [...]
      His ocular observations were founded on anatomical examinations of the structure of the eye, as well as being supported by experimental installations devised to detect errors and illusions in visual perception and to explore phenomena like the camera obscura (the darkroom principle behind the pinhole camera)."
— Dr. Nader El-Bizri, The Institute of Ismaili Studies

"The Italian artist [Caravaggio] has long been suspected of turning his studio into a giant camera obscura, punching a hole in the ceiling to help project images on to his canvas. But new research claims that [he] also used chemicals to turn his canvases into primitive photographic film, 'burning' images he then sketched on to for works such as St Matthew and the Angel. [...]
     'You get the image by turning the whole studio into the camera obscura, but you need darkness, and the problem is you cannot paint in darkness,' [Roberta Lapucci, conservation chief at Florence's SACI institute] said. 'X-ray fluorescence shows the presence of the mercury salt in his canvases. That is not uncommon because it was used in glue, but we are awaiting proof he was using it on the surface, in his primer.'"
— Tom Kington, The Guardian

"Long before the first public announcements of photographic processes in 1839, Joseph Nicéphore Niépce, a scientifically-minded gentleman living on his country estate near Chalon-sur-Saône, France, began experimenting with photography. Fascinated with the craze for the newly-invented art of lithography which swept over France in 1813, he began his initial experiments by 1816. Unable to draw well, Niépce first placed engravings, made transparent, onto engraving stones or glass plates coated with a light-sensitive varnish of his own composition. These experiments, together with his application of the then-popular optical instrument, the camera obscura, would eventually lead him to the invention of the new medium."
Harry Ransom Center

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

i, romney

From: michaelkeyessite

"How a candidate of Romney's pedigree could cut such an unsympathetic figure has become a minor obsession in the media. Explanations range from his association with the corporate one percent to his willingness to contradict himself on key issues. All these are true, but the underlying dynamic governing our reaction to his controversial affiliations and positions is a completely natural psychological response to competing stimuli -- one that's best summed up with a technological metaphor.
     In robotics, researchers have observed that as an object acquires human-like properties, people respond to the object with more positive feelings. The less anthropomorphized an object, the less empathy. What's cognitively demanding about this formulation is that engineers are beginning to create robots that approximate human behavior so closely that the mind interprets the robot in human terms even if the machine lacks distinguishing anthropomorphic features, like a face. The result is an unsettling feeling that borders on anxiety or revulsion. When a robot inspires such emotions, it's said to have fallen into the uncanny valley of a conceptual graph that charts fluctuations in our empathetic capacity. [...]
     Romney's problem is that he occupies a kind of uncanny valley for politicians. Just as people who interact with lifelike robots often develop a strange feeling due to something they can't quite name, something about Romney leaves voters unsettled."
— Brian Fung, The Atlantic

"Few candidates are as deft as Mr. Romney at genially brushing off unwelcome queries and comments.
     In Bedford, N.H., a woman walked up to him after a speech and declared: 'I have a lot friends who say you are the robotic type. And I am like, no, you need to stay that way because you are a leader.'
     Mr. Romney’s mouth arched into a somewhat pained smile as he rushed to conclude the conversation. 'Nice to see you guys,' he said as he walked away.
     A few moments later, a voter named David Rivers asked Mr. Romney whether there would be place for Mr. Paul, a Texas congressman, in a Romney White House. Mr. Romney treated the question as a joke, letting out a laugh and walking on by.
     'I was actually kind of serious,' Mr. Rivers said in an interview afterward."
— Ashley Parker and Michael Barbaro, The New York Times

pesticides, homicides, love, hate... infinity

From: Reanimation Library

"Men given a dose of oxytocin, a hormone known to promote feelings of love and trust, have revealed the chemical’s dark side: It made them more ethnocentric.
     When asked to resolve a moral dilemma, such as choosing to save five lives from a runaway train by sacrificing one life, oxytocin-sniffing Dutch men more often saved fellow countrymen over Arabs and Germans than those who didn’t get a hormonal whiff.
     'Earlier research of oxytocin paints a very rosy view of it. We thought it was odd a neurological system that survived evolution would make people indiscriminately loving toward others,' said social psychologist Carsten De Dreu of the University of Amsterdam, co-author of a Jan. 10 study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 'Under oxytocin we saw an increase of in-group favoritism, which has the downside of discrimination against people who are not part of your group.' [...]
As a neurotransmitter, it’s also intricately involved in social behaviors such as mother-child bonding, feelings of trust and love, and group recognition."

"The magnocellular neurons [...] in the hypothalamus produce the hormones, vasopressin (VP) and oxytocin (OT) that are released into the blood stream from the posterior pituitary. These hormones are recognized for their roles in fluid and electrolyte homeostasis, maintenance of blood pressure, and [oxytocin] is important during parturition and lactation. [...]
     Gonadal steroids have also been implicated in the regulation of the magnocellular oxytocin neurons."

"Endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) are synthetic chemicals that arise from sources such as pesticides and have the ability to mimic or inhibit gonadal steroid hormones. The objective of this research was to examine the effects of EDCs on the behaviors associated with monogamy and the expression of related neuropeptide receptors. [...]
     Oxytocin (OT) receptor binding in the brain was assessed for possible effects on this behaviorally important neuropeptide signaling system. The cingulate cortex showed a reduction in OT binding in the MXC group. These findings demonstrate that exposure to EDCs during pre- and neonatal development can alter female adult neural phenotype and behavior related to monogamous behavior traits."

See related article here...
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