Shared posts

16 Oct 20:58

R2-D2s vs C-3POs

by adafruit

Adafruit 3695

Friend or Foe?.

The robots are coming!
But will they free or enslave us?
Our future hinges on whether
we create R2-D2s or C-3POs.

16 Oct 01:22

sourcedumal: mysharona1987: This about sums it up. This just...



This about sums it up.

This just goes to show that misogyny is real. So real.

16 Oct 01:47

At First She Thought It Was A Prank Call. But Her Quick Thinking Saved A Life. This is Genius.

by Geekfiller- Techrave

At First She Thought It Was A Prank Call. But Her Quick Thinking Saved A Life. This is Genius.

16 Oct 04:00

October 16, 2014

Hey geeks! We're having a hell of a time getting an ASL translator for for BAHFest East. If you know a professional in the area, please put us in touch! You can mail us here. This would be a paying gig on Sunday. Thanks!
16 Oct 13:44

A brilliant point about one bothersome sports commentator cliche

by Michael Katz

Joey is not wrong.

Best thing I'll see all day.

— edgeloading (@edgeloading) October 16, 2014

You can do better, announcers. The ball's in your court. Take it one word at a time. Don't U be the I in "platitude." Sentences: You can't teach that. You talk to win the game.

(h/t @DJBentley)

15 Oct 03:34

Don't confused 'oppression' with 'first world problems', it's a rookie error among feminists.

Wow, okay buddy, you’re BEGGING for a takedown here. 

First world problems? Not a thing. People who say shit like “first world problems” are massive racist, imperialist, dismissive assholes. 

If you’re ever tempted to say “first world problems,” do me a favor, and pull down a map. Tell me EXACTLY where the “third world” is. Make sure you correctly identify Switzerland as part of the third world, and Turkey as part of the First World. Don’t forget that Djibouti is a part of the first world. 

Literally sit down and learn what “third world” means and why people from nonwestern nations  think it’s a total bullshit term. 

Second: you think people in the so-called third world don’t care about shit like makeup, and love, and technology? You think they don’t care about internet harassment? You think women over there don’t care about street harassment? You think they don’t care about fashion and clothes? You think they don’t care about music and video games?

Because THEY DO. 

Right now, there is a woman in burundi teaching herself how to do a cut-crease eyeshadow look. Guaranteed. 

"Third world" nations have fashion shows and fashion magazines. They care about street harassment. They care about the internet. They play video games. They know more about anime than your sorry ass every will. And the idea of "first world problems," which makes it sound like all women in "third world" nations are dealing with starvation, rape, war, acid attacks etc. 

Is bullshit.



Women in Iran spend shitloads of money on makeup. Women in the DRC don’t just care about rape. Rape - the ONE THING westerners can be expected to know about women in Congo-Kinshasa - ranks NUMBER FOUR on the list of issues women in Congo want addressed. Political participation is number 1. Economic empowerment is number 2. Women in India are passionate about information technology, and you know what they hate? Coming to the United States, where Indian women in STEM are suddenly considered LESS GOOD than their male colleagues.  My friends in Senegal taught ME how to download movies off the internet. Zimbabwe has a fashion week. 

As Teju Cole points out: 

"I don’t like this expression "First World problems." It is false and it is condescending. Yes, Nigerians struggle with floods or infant mortality. But these same Nigerians also deal with mundane and seemingly luxurious hassles. Connectivity issues on your BlackBerry, cost of car repair, how to sync your iPad, what brand of noodles to buy: Third World problems. All the silly stuff of life doesn’t disappear just because you’re black and live in a poorer country. People in the richer nations need a more robust sense of the lives being lived in the darker nations. Here’s a First World problem: the inability to see that others are as fully complex and as keen on technology and pleasure as you are.

One event that illustrated the gap between the Africa of conjecture and the real Africa was the BlackBerry outage of a few weeks ago. Who would have thought Research In Motion’s technical issues would cause so much annoyance and inconvenience in a place like Lagos? But of course it did, because people don’t wake up with “poor African” pasted on their foreheads. They live as citizens of the modern world. None of this is to deny the existence of social stratification and elite structures here. There are lifestyles of the rich and famous, sure. But the interesting thing about modern technology is how socially mobile it is—quite literally. Everyone in Lagos has a phone.” 

95% of the people who use bullshit expressions like “First world problems” have NO IDEA what life is like for people in the so-called third world. You just like sitting there derailing. 

And for the record? As a white, western feminist, DAMN RIGHT I concentrate on issues in the United States. Because when white western feminists try to “save” women outside the west? We do a SHIT job of it. We’re the ones who bowl over actual congolese women, and what THEY want, and say that the #1 issue affecting them is rape. We become arms of the imperialist patriarchal complex. 

Classic example: the guy who was ruling Egypt for the British got british feminists to help him in his anti-headscarf campaign in Egypt. Why did he hate headscarves? Because he wanted to *break the spirit* of Egyptians. Not because he gave a shit about women’s rights. 
How do I know that? 
Because he was the head of the anti-women’s-suffrage group in England. 

When women who live outside the west do awesome things, I will signal-boost them, and I will do whatever they think I can do to help. But I follow their lead. Because these are THEIR issues, and THEY know what matters to them. Not me. 

FINALLY: My problems are not trivial. My problems are not bullshit. My problems are not to be dismissed with your racist, imperialist logic. Dress codes and makeup and music and books and video games MATTER. They matter to me. They matter to my life. 

So fuck you. 

And fuck your assumptions. 

And maybe consider that YOUR first world problem? 
Is that you can’t “see that others are as fully complex and as keen on technology and pleasure as you are.” 

15 Oct 17:28


15 Oct 00:00


by xkcd


If you stripped away all the rules of car racing and had a contest which was simply to get a human being around a track 200 times as fast as possible, what strategy would win? Let's say the racer has to survive.

Hunter Freyer

The best you'll be able to do is about 90 minutes.

There are lots of ways you could build your vehicle—an electric car,[1]With wheels designed to dig into the pavement on turns. a rocket sled, or a carriage that runs along a rail on the track—but in each case, it's pretty easy to develop the design to the point where the human is the weakest part.

The problem is acceleration. On the curved parts of the track, drivers will feel powerful G forces.[2]Which you can broadly call either "centrifugal" or "centripetal" forces, depending on exactly which type of pedant you want to annoy. The Daytona Speedway in Florida has two main curves, and if the vehicles go around them too fast, the drivers will die from the acceleration alone.

For extremely brief periods, such as during car accidents, people can experience hundreds of Gs and survive. (One G is the pull you feel when standing on the ground under Earth's gravity.) Fighter pilots can experience up to 10 Gs during maneuvers, and—perhaps because of that—10 Gs is often used as a rough limit for what people can handle. However, fighter pilots only experience 10 Gs very briefly. Our driver would be experiencing them, in pulses, for minutes and probably hours.

There's a good NASA document on the physical effects of acceleration here, and a particularly helpful chart in Figure 5 here.

But the most fun data comes from John Paul Stapp. Stapp was an Air Force officer who strapped himself into a rocket sled and pushed his body to the limit, taking careful notes after every run. You can read a great essay about him on the Ejection Site. The whole story is fascinating, but my favorite line is, "... Stapp was promoted to the rank of major [and] reminded of the 18 G limit of human survivability ..."

Stapp aside, the data shows that for periods on the order of an hour, normal humans can only handle 3-6 Gs of acceleration. If we limit our vehicle to 4 Gs, its top speed on the turns at Daytona will be about 240 mph. At this speed, the course will take about 2 hours to complete—which is definitely faster than anyone has driven it in an actual car, but not by that much.

But wait! What about the straightaways? The vehicle will be accelerating during the turns, but coasting on the straightaways. We could instead accelerate the vehicle up to a higher speed while on straight segments, then decelerate it back down when approaching the end. This would result in a speed profile like this:

This has the additional advantage that—with some clever back-and-forth maneuvering on the track—the driver can be kept at a relatively constant acceleration through the whole trip, hopefully making the forces easier to endure.

Keep in mind that the direction of the acceleration will keep changing. Humans can survive acceleration best if they're accelerated forward, in the direction of their chest, like a driver accelerating forward. The body is least capable of being accelerated downward toward the feet, which causes blood to pile up in the head. To keep our driver alive, we'll need to swivel them around so they're always being pressed against their back. (But we have to be careful not to change direction too fast, or the centrifᵫtal[3]Splitting the difference. force from the swiveling of the seat will itself become deadly!)

The fastest modern Daytona racers take about 3 hours to finish the 200 laps. If limited to 4 Gs, our driver will finish the course in a little under an hour and 45 minutes. If we raise the limit to 6 Gs, the time drops to an hour and 20. At 10 Gs—well past human tolerability—it would still take an hour. (It would also involve breaking the sound barrier on the backstretch.)

So, barring dubious concepts like liquid breathing, human biology limits us to Daytona finishing times over an hour. What if we drop the "survive" requirement? How fast can we get the vehicle to go around the track?

Imagine a "vehicle" anchored with Kevlar straps to a pivot in the center, reinforced with a counterweight on the other side. In effect, this is a giant centrifuge. This lets us apply one of my favorite weird equations,[4]See footnote [8] in article #86. which says that the edge of a spinning disc can't go faster than the square root of the specific strength[5](tensile strength divided by density) of the material it's made of. For strong materials like Kevlar, this speed is 1-2 km/s. At those speeds, a capsule could conceivably finish the race in about 10 minutes—although definitely not with a living driver inside.

Ok, forget the centrifuge. What if we build a solid chute, like a bobsled course, and send a ball bearing (our "vehicle") rocketing down it? Sadly, the disc equation strikes again—the ball bearing can't roll faster than a couple km/s or it will be spinning too fast and will tear itself apart.

Instead of making it roll, what if we make it slide? We could imagine a diamond cube sliding along a smooth diamond chute. Since it doesn't need to rotate, it could potentially survive more accelerations than a rolling ball bearing. However, the sliding would result in substantially more friction than the ball bearing example, and our diamond might catch fire.

To defeat friction, we could levitate the capsule with magnetic fields, and make it progressively smaller and lighter to accelerate and steer it more easily. Oops—we've accidentally built a particle accelerator.

And while it doesn't exactly fit the criteria in Hunter's question, a particle accelerator makes for a neat comparison. The particles in the LHC's beam go very close to the speed of light. At that speed, they complete 500 miles (30 laps) in 2.7 milliseconds.

Wikipedia lists about 850 motor racing tracks. The LHC beam could run the equivalent of a full Daytona 500 on each of those 850 tracks, one after another, in about 2 seconds, before the drivers had made it to the first turn.

And that's really as fast as you can go.

16 Oct 22:16

FBI chief demands an end to cellphone security

by Cory Doctorow

If your phone is designed to be secure against thieves, voyeurs, and hackers, it'll also stop spies and cops. So the FBI has demanded that device makers redesign their products so that they -- and anyone who can impersonate them -- can break into them at will. Read the rest

16 Oct 12:59

Umbrella with no support frame

by Rob Beschizza

The Sa umbrella is said to use the "principles of origami" to maintain its shape. Read the rest

16 Oct 19:03

Did You Pack This Nobel Prize Yourself?

by Kevin

Brian Schmidt (along with two others) won the 2011 Nobel Prize in Physics for discovering that the expansion rate of the universe is accelerating, which implies the existence of a huge amount of "dark" energy and matter that we can't see but has the power to freak out scientists from billions of miles away for reasons that are still not clearly understood.

This has something to do with it

As Schmidt said in a recent speech, a different kind of "dark matter" bamboozled TSA agents when he traveled to Fargo a while back:

Nobel-prizeOne of the things you get when you win a Nobel Prize is, well, a Nobel Prize. It's about that big, that thick, weighs half a pound, and it’s made of gold.

When I won this, my grandma, who lives in Fargo, North Dakota, wanted to see it.... You would think that carrying around a Nobel Prize would be uneventful, and it was uneventful, until I tried to leave Fargo with it, and went through the X-ray machine. I could see they were puzzled. It was in my laptop bag. It's made of gold, so it absorbs all the X-rays—it's completely black. And they had never seen anything completely black.

They're like, 'Sir, there’s something in your bag.'

I said, 'Yes, I think it’s this box.'

They said, 'What’s in the box?'

I said, 'a large gold medal,' as one does.

Up to this point, their reaction is understandable, and he is frankly just screwing with them a little. (As he may one day reveal he is doing with the whole "dark matter" thing.) But beyond this point we move into stupider territory.

So they opened it up and they said, 'What’s it made out of?'

I said, 'gold.' [What's this GOLD MEDAL made out of? Is that what you just asked me?]

And they’re like, 'Uhhhh. Who gave this to you?'

'The King of Sweden.' [See where it says "NOBEL" on it? Does that sound at all familiar?]

'Why did he give this to you?'

'Because I helped discover the expansion rate of the universe was accelerating.' 

At which point, they were beginning to lose their sense of humor. I explained to them it was a Nobel Prize, and their main question was, 'Why were you in Fargo?'


Left: Idea in normal mind.
Right: Same idea in mind of TSA agent.

Not really on topic, I suppose, except that it involves TSA buffoonery. I hereby extend my jurisdiction unilaterally to encompass that entire subject.

16 Oct 13:18

It takes a comedian

by PZ Myers

Joseph Scrimshaw explains why using “social justice warrior” as an insult makes you an idiotface, weakshoulders, and dunceburger. Yeah, I know, they’ll just say they’re using it sarcastically, but sarcasm takes some skill to use well, and they don’t.

16 Oct 01:09

Eliza vs Gamergate

by Cory Doctorow

When some genius set up a 1960s non-directive chatbot psychotherapist to reply to #notyourshield tweets, hilarity ensued! Read the rest

15 Oct 05:24

Missing parrot returns speaking Spanish

by David Pescovitz

When Nigel, an African grey parrot who was missing for four years, was reunited with his caretaker, the bird was chattering in Spanish, not the British accent he had when he disappeared. (The Daily Breeze)

15 Oct 12:24

TOM THE DANCING BUG: An NFL Fan Defends the "R" Word

by Ruben Bolling

FOLLOW: @RubenBolling on Twitter and Facebook.

MOST IMPORTANTLY, JOIN: The exclusive Tom the Dancing Bug club, the INNER HIVE! (more…)

14 Oct 16:11

How English Beat German As the Language of Science

by timothy writes German was the dominant scientific language in 1900. Today if a scientist is going to coin a new term, it's most likely in English. And if they are going to publish a new discovery, it is most definitely in English. Look no further than the Nobel Prize awarded for physiology and medicine to Norwegian couple May-Britt and Edvard Moser. Their research was written and published in English. How did English come to dominate German in the realm of science? BBC reports that the major shock to the system was World War One, which had two major impacts. According to Gordin, after World War One, Belgian, French and British scientists organized a boycott of scientists from Germany and Austria. They were blocked from conferences and weren't able to publish in Western European journals. "Increasingly, you have two scientific communities, one German, which functions in the defeated [Central Powers] of Germany and Austria, and another that functions in Western Europe, which is mostly English and French," says Gordin. The second effect of World War One took place in the US. Starting in 1917 when the US entered the war, there was a wave of anti-German hysteria that swept the country. In Ohio, Wisconsin and Minnesota there were many, many German speakers. World War One changed all that. "German is criminalized in 23 states. You're not allowed to speak it in public, you're not allowed to use it in the radio, you're not allowed to teach it to a child under the age of 10," says Gordin. The Supreme Court overturned those anti-German laws in 1923, but for years they were the law of the land. What that effectively did, according to Gordin, was decimate foreign language learning in the US resulting in a generation of future scientists who came of age with limited exposure to foreign languages. That was also the moment, according to Gordin, when the American scientific establishment started to take over dominance in the world. "The story of the 20th Century is not so much the rise of English as the serial collapse of German as the up-and-coming language of scientific communication," concludes Gordin.

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14 Oct 18:57


13 Oct 04:00

October 13, 2014

Prepping for BAHFest. Wish I could tell you about the secret thing.
13 Oct 19:10

The Math Behind the Rolling Shutter Phenomenon

by Jason Cole


I remember seeing the photo above on Flickr once, and having my brain melt slightly from trying to figure out what went wrong.

The issue was the propeller was rotating as the camera detector ‘read out’, i.e. there was some motion during the exposure of the camera. This is an interesting thing to think about, lets have a look.

Many modern digital cameras use as their ‘sensing’ device a CMOS detector, also known as an active-pixel sensor, which works by accumulating electronic charge as light falls upon it. After a given amount of time, the exposure time, the charge is shifted row-by-row back to the camera for further processing. There is then a finite time where the camera scans down the image, saving rows of pixels at a time. If there is any motion over this timescale the image will be distorted.

To illustrate, consider photographing a spinning propeller. In the animations below the red line corresponds to the current readout position, and the propeller continues to spin as the readout proceeds. The portion below the red line is saved as the captured image.

First, a propeller which completes 1/10th of a rotation during the exposure:

Some distortion, but nothing crazy. Now a propeller moving 10 times quicker, which completes a full rotation during the exposure:

This is starting to look like the Flickr image at the beginning. 5 times per exposure:

This is a little too far, things have clearly gone mental. Just for fun, let’s see what some different objects look like at different rotation speeds, from 0 to 1 rotation per exposure.

The same propeller as above:

A fatter propeller:

A car tire:

We can think of the rolling shutter effect being some coordinate transformation from the ‘object space’ of the real-world object, to the ‘image space’ of the warped image. The animation below shows what happens to the Cartesian coordinate grid as the number of rotations is increased. For small rotations the deformation is slight, as the number increases to 1 each side of the grid is moved successively towards the right-hand side of the image. This is a fairly complicated transformation to look at, but simple to understand.

Let the image be denoted by I(r,\theta), and the real object (which is rotating) be denoted by f(r,\theta) where (r,\theta) are 2D polar coordinates. Polar coordinates are a natural choice for this problem due to the rotational motion of the objects.

The object is rotating at angular frequency \omega, and the shutter progresses across the image at speed v in the vertical direction. At position (r,\theta) in the image, the distance the shutter has moved since the start of exposure is y = r\sin\theta, and so the time elapsed is (r\sin\theta) /v. In this time the object has rotated a number of radians (\omega/v) r\sin\theta). Putting this together,

I(r,\theta) = f(r,\theta + (\omega/v)r\sin\theta)

which is the required transformation. The factor \omega/v is proportional to the number of rotations during the exposure, and parameterises the transformation.

To get some insight into the apparent shapes of the propellers, we can consider an object consisting of P propellers where f is non-zero only for \theta = 2\pi/P, 4\pi/P \dots 2\pi = 2p\pi/P for 1 < p < P. The image I is then non-zero for

\theta + (\omega/v)r\sin\theta = 2p\pi/P


r = \frac{v}{\omega}\frac{2p\pi - \theta}{\sin\theta}

In Cartesian coordinates this becomes

\text{atan}\left(\frac{y}{x}\right) + \frac{\omega}{v}y = 2p\pi

which helps to explain why the propellers get that S-shaped look – it’s just an inverse tangent function in the image space. Cool. I’ve plotted this function below for a set of 5 propeller blades at slightly different initial offsets, as might be observed during a video recording. They look pretty much like the shapes in the animations above.

Now we understand a little more about the process, can we do anything about these ruined photos? Taking one of the warped images above, I can take a line through it, rotate backwards the appropriate amount, then stick those pixels onto a new image. In the animation below I scan through the image on the left, marked by the red line, then rotate the pixels along that line onto a new image. This way we can build a picture of what the real object looks like even if a pesky rolling shutter ruined our original image.

Now if only my photoshop skills were better I could extract the propellers from the original Flickr image, un-warp them, and slap them back on the photo. Sounds like a plan for the future.

To figure out the real number of blades in the photo at the top of the post and the rotation velocity we can look to this excellent post at Daniel Walsh’s Tumblr blog, where he definitely has the edge on mathematical explanation.

He works out that we can calculate the number of blades by subtracting the ‘lower’ blades from the ‘upper’ blades, so in this picture we know there should be 3. We also know the propeller is rotating approximately 2 times during the exposure, so if we try ‘undoing’ the rotation with a few different speeds around that we get something like this:

I’ve had to guess where the centre of the propeller is, and I’ve drawn a circle to guide the eye. Looking at that, the centre shouldn’t be too far off. There is unfortunately a missing blade, but there’s still enough information to make an image.

There is a sweet spot where everything overlaps the most, so picking this rotation speed (2.39 rotations per exposure), the original image and blades look like this:

It’s still a bit of a mess unfortunately, but at least looks something like the real object.

About the author: Jason Cole is a PhD student from London with a passion for math, physics, and data visualization. Visit his website here. This article originally appeared here.

14 Oct 15:26


15 Oct 00:00

Where Do Birds Go

Water/ice has a lot of weird phases. Maybe asking 'where do birds go when it rains' is like asking 'where does Clark Kent go whenever Superman shows up?'
14 Oct 12:25

A Fun Quiz on Military-Style Police Tactics

by Kevin

Today's Quiz:

You should find this one more difficult than the previous quiz.

Police did not carry out an aggressive, military-style raid to accomplish which of the following purposes?

    (a) To find the source of a parody Twitter feed

    (b) To check a bar for underage drinkers

    (c) To recover a large number of overdue library books

    (d) To enforce copyright law against a DJ

    (e) To check whether barbers had valid barbering licenses

    (f) To apprehend Tibetan monks who overstayed their visas

    (g) They did that in all these cases

I think it is worth considering this one for a moment, so I'm going to put the answer and further discussion after the jump below.

If you find it slightly terrifying that they did this (and by "this," I mean used a SWAT team or a gang of officers using similar tactics) for any of those purposes, congratulations, you are sane. The answer is (c): to my knowledge, a SWAT team has never been used to recover overdue library books, but I think that example is no less ridiculous than the others. And in every one of those other cases, police aggressively stormed the premises with guns drawn, wearing body armor and even masks, though they had no reason to think there would be any danger.

The Tibetan monks were here on a peace mission, for Christ's sake.

Well, not for Christ's sake, but you know what I mean.

The monk raid went down in 2006, and some of the other examples are also not that recent. Some were mentioned in this article by Radley Balko almost three years ago, for example, along with others involving such diabolical activities as unlicensed poker games and stealing fish from a botanical garden. As Balko's new book details, this trend has been getting worse and worse.

Developments over the past month provide some good news and some bad news.

Not a great idea

The good news is that the Eleventh Circuit held on September 16 that it does in fact violate the Fourth Amendment to conduct an aggressive, warrantless raid on a barbershop to make sure everybody had valid barbering licenses. This one did not involve an actual SWAT team, but it did involve the storming of a barbershop by at least 10 officers, some of whom wore masks and bulletproof vests. They ordered all the customers out, handcuffed the barbers, and proceeded to ... check their licenses. They also searched the whole place just in case there was any "contraband" present. Results? Nothing. Not even an unlicensed barber.

After the barbers sued, the officers argued that they had "qualified immunity." That's a doctrine that protects an officer from liability unless the court finds the officer violated a "clearly established" right of which he or she should have known. The idea is to cut down on second-guessing officers who have made a tough decision in dangerous circumstances. Should it protect officers who held people at gunpoint to check their barbering licenses? Nope.

There is an exception to the warrant requirement for "administrative inspections" of regulated industries. (A similar justification is asserted by the TSA.) Plaintiffs conceded that this exception applied. But a warrantless search still has to be reasonable. See, e.g., U.S. Const. amend. IV (1791). This one wasn't. In the court's view, an armed raid of this kind "bears no resemblance to a routine inspection for barbering licenses," a conclusion that seems pretty solid.

The bad news is that, as the court pointed out, it has ruled the same way in similar cases at least three times during the past 20 years. "We hope that the third time will be the charm," it wrote. Yeah, us too.

Further bad news: the same week, an Illinois judge saw no problem with police raiding a home in Peoria in search of whoever was making fun of the mayor on TwitterTwo judges, in fact. First, one issued a warrant in this case, having been convinced there was probable cause to believe that someone at that address was committing "false personation of a public official," namely Mayor Jim Ardis.

That dastardly crime is a misdemeanor even when it isn't a parody protected by the First Amendment, which this likely was. And yet police detained five people, searched the home, and took every internet-capable device they could find. "They said there had been an internet crime that occurred at this address," said one of the detainees. An internet crime! Well, that's a perfectly good reason to go in hot, as long as you only bring internet guns. Also, note the past tense—the Twitter account had been shut down for weeks by the time this happened.

Ultimately, its creator wasn't charged because the prosecutor decided "false personation" can only be committed in person, not on the internet. (Why this decision was made only after the raid is an excellent question.)  But they did find some pot, so they're prosecuting one of his friends for that because war on drugs. The ruling linked above rejected that guy's argument that the charge should be dismissed because the raid was illegal. The Twitter user is now suing the city, with the ACLU's help, so there will be at least one more ruling on this case.

So far the only good news to come out of that incident is that the number of Twitter parody accounts mocking Jim Ardis has gone from one to eighteen.

14 Oct 15:23

I'm old enough to remember full-sized Snickers at Halloween

by Minnesotastan

14 Oct 20:20

In case you’ve ever wondered what human hands evolved for

by PZ Myers

Clearly, for grooming.

14 Oct 12:58

A useful illustration

by PZ Myers

Thank you, Ronald Reagan, for promoting the voodoo of trickle-down economics.


14 Oct 12:50

General Harris instructs liberals to surrender on the home front

by PZ Myers

Sam Harris does it again, opening his yap and exposing his biases.

Liberals have really failed on the topic of theocracy. They’ll criticize white theocracy, they’ll criticize Christians. They’ll still get agitated over the abortion clinic bombing that happened in 1984. But when you want to talk about the treatment of women and homosexuals and free thinkers and public intellectuals in the Muslim world, I would argue that liberals have failed us.

Hell yes, I’m still agitated over any abortion clinic bombing. Shouldn’t we all be? I’m also agitated over female genital mutilation and shooting girls who want an education in Pakistan. I can be frustrated by all the onslaughts against modernity everywhere; I don’t treat it as a failure of liberalism that American women are fighting for their rights at home as a priority; I’m sure that almost all of them feel a sense of solidarity with women around the world, but in most cases they are far more limited in what they can do about Somalia than they are about taking action in their own back yard.

Libby Anne really rips into him for that stupid remark.

Violence against abortion clinics and abortion providers dates back to at least the 1980s and continues in the present. Eight doctors or clinic providers have been murdered, the last one only five years ago. In fact, the clinic that was bombed in the 1984 incident Harris mentions was bombed again in 2012—and completely gutted as a result. I hear of arson and death threats, and it shakes me. I’ve served as an escort at my local Planned Parenthood clinic. It can be very scary—for all involved. Women often have their license plate numbers recorded by anti-abortion protesters calling them “murderers,” and in some areas of the country doctors who perform abortions have to wear masks when entering clinics to protect their identities. Just recently a writer for the high-profile National Review called for hanging women who have had abortions.

Americans are facing a wave of oppression of women’s reproductive rights: there have been 230 restrictions enacted since 2011. The majority of abortion clinics in Texas have been shut down by entirely legal means, and Sam Harris wants to blame liberals for not doing enough to protect freethinkers in the Muslim world? The only way liberals have failed is in not being as obsessed with Islam as Harris…but since Harris isn’t a particularly good example of an individual with liberal ideals, you’ll have to forgive me if I say “so fucking what?”

I say we must fight the fights we can. It’s important to stand up for women’s freedom world-wide, but it’s futile and hypocritical if we can’t even do the same for women at home.

I think Libby Anne is right. Harris is using Islamic oppression as a pretext for dismissing serious concerns right here in the United States.

14 Oct 20:23

goose no like drone

goose no like drone

14 Oct 18:03

The Scalzi Gender

by John Scalzi

First some tweets, and then some commentary.

Today's dipshit tweet about me: "someday not far off we will recategorize these left wing scalzi-faced beta pseudo-men as a third gender"

— John Scalzi (@scalzi) October 14, 2014

I'LL GET MY OWN GENDER, PEOPLE. I don't know, that seems kinda awesome.

— John Scalzi (@scalzi) October 14, 2014

@scalzi For the Scalzi Gender Pronoun I nominate "Whee," and "Whim." As in, "Look at whim, rockin' at the party" and "Whee is cool!"

— John Scalzi (@scalzi) October 14, 2014

Also, now I want fan art of Scalzi-Faced pseudo men.

— John Scalzi (@scalzi) October 14, 2014

@scalzi masculine, feminine, scalzine

— Loewenheim Skolem (@loewenheim) October 14, 2014

@scalzi I tell ya, our 3rd gender bathrooms are going to be a hell of a lot cleaner too.

— Shon of the Dead (@shonrichards) October 14, 2014

Mind you, there's already more than two genders. So "Scalzi" would be an "n"th gender. BUT STILL LOOK MY VERY OWN GENDER

— John Scalzi (@scalzi) October 14, 2014

@scalzi Gosh. Even the MRA types are trying to dismantle the gender binary.

— Abigail Nussbaum (@NussbaumAbigail) October 14, 2014

The rules for the Scalzi Gender: Hey, wanna be Scalzine? Come on in! We've got pie!

— John Scalzi (@scalzi) October 14, 2014

The Scalzi Gender will accept you regardless of your position on pie, however (or cake, or bacon, or pineapple, or churros).

— John Scalzi (@scalzi) October 14, 2014

I mean, I went to bed last night secure in my own masculinity. But a chance for my own gender? To be secure in my own Scalzinity? SIGN ME UP

— John Scalzi (@scalzi) October 14, 2014

@scalzi A-whim a-whee A-whim a-whee A-whim a-whee A-whim a-whee In a gender, a mighty gender, The Scalzi sleeps tonight…

— John Kovalic (@muskrat_john) October 14, 2014

What is the sexuality of the Scalzi Gender? It varies, of course, but I'd say the most prominent is "Consenting whoo-hoo!"

— John Scalzi (@scalzi) October 14, 2014

I'll have to stop being a beta/gamma male, I guess. Does that make me the Alpha Scalzi? No, because that Greek alphabet shit is ridiculous.

— John Scalzi (@scalzi) October 14, 2014

humbly submitted proposal for the new @scalzi gender. .ai and .eps versions at

— Big and Scar-E (@SaintEhlers) October 14, 2014

There’s something both telling and sad about the sort of dude who literally thinks that a) impugning my masculinity is the worst possible thing they can say about me, b) that it’ll somehow lessen me if they do. On the former, meh. Given the ridiculous ideas that they have regarding masculinity, I’m happy not to meet their definition. On the latter, whatever. They’re idiots. I’m not inclined to care, outside of the opportunities it provides for pointing and laughing.

But I do think it’s useful to publicly mock their stupidity on such subjects, for the amusement and edification of others. I also think it’s particularly useful to mock their definition of masculinity and gender, and their baseline assertion that being male is the apotheosis of the human condition. It’s not; it’s merely one way to be. I’m okay with gender being more than binary; I’m okay with people having a gender other than mine; I’m okay with people shifting their idea of what their gender is over time. Because I don’t think one’s essential value is rooted in gender, and someone else’s gender is nearly always not my business anyway. I am for people being who they are, not who anyone else wants them to be, or demands them to be for their own selfish reasons. I’m for letting the world know that I think such a position is the most correct one to have. I’m for calling out people who try to make difficult for those who don’t conform to their own, usually bigoted, expectations.

Want to declare that because I don’t meet your pointless and stupid definition of “masculinity,” I should identify as another gender entirely? Awesome. I get to create a gender that doesn’t have your jackassedness riddling it front to back. The folks in my gender won’t be focused on being a “real man” or a “real woman” but on being “really me.” My gender will have all the best parties because we can do what we want, free of gender expectations! Because there are no gender expectations! My gender gets to love whoever they want! My gender gets to be whoever they want! My gender doesn’t care what you think my gender should be! My gender rocks. And it doesn’t need you, or care what you think of it.

If only it were as easy for people of every gender to be as free in theirs as I am in mine. Because of course that’s the thing: Even when these idiots declare me “not a real man,” it doesn’t change that I am always seen to be a “real man,” and that I get all the benefits that accrue to me for being biologically male, identifying as a man, and conforming to social standards for what both of those mean. The worst these dudes can do is be mean to me on the Internet. It doesn’t change anything about what I get from the world. And while I can mock them for it and proclaim the new Scalzi Gender in all its awesomeness, let’s just say that I know that it’s easy for me to do so, because in the end society has my back. Not everyone else gets to say the same. We need to be working on that.

13 Oct 06:52

sekahyyh: cardsofclow: decencybedamned: HELLO FANFIC AUTHORS IT’S TIME FOR A VOCAB...





  • wanton: sexually immodest or promiscuous
  • wonton: a type of dumpling commonly found in Chinese cuisines


either way, things are sure gonna get



13 Oct 12:26

We live in a world ruled by fictions of every kind

by but does it float
The Bus by Paul Kirchner Title: J.G. Ballard Atley