Shared posts

08 Feb 06:25

Dreamed Up

by Greg Ross

In composing a state map of New York in the 1930s, the General Drafting Company wanted to be sure that competing mapmakers would not simply copy its work. So the company’s founder, Otto G. Lindberg, and his assistant, Ernest Alpers, scrambled their initials and placed the fictional town of Agloe at the intersection of two dirt roads in the Catskills north of Roscoe.

Several years later, they discovered Agloe on a Rand McNally map and confronted their competitor. But Rand was innocent: It had got the name from the county government, which had taken it from the Agloe General Store, which now occupied the intersection. The store had taken the name from a map by Esso, which had (apparently) copied it from Lindberg’s map. Agloe had somehow clambered from imagination into reality.

Similarly, in 2001 editors placed a fake word in the New Oxford American Dictionary as a trap for other lexicographers who might steal their material. Fittingly, the word was esquivalience, “the willful avoidance of one’s official responsibilities; the shirking of duties.”

Sure enough, the word turned up at (it’s since been taken down), citing Webster’s New Millennium Dictionary.

And as with Agloe, the invention has taken on a life of its own. NOAD editor Christine Lindberg, who coined esquivalience, told the Chicago Tribune that she finds herself using it regularly. “I especially like the critical, judgmental tone I can get out of it: ‘Those esquivalient little wretches.’ Sounds literate and nasty all in one breath. I like that.”

06 Feb 19:09

Here's a chicken wearing a prosthetic tail to walk like a dinosaur

by Ria Misra

Here's a chicken wearing a prosthetic tail to walk like a dinosaur

You already know about the evolutionary areas of overlap between dinosaurs and modern-day birds. Now one group of researchers is using those similarities for science, by attaching a prosthetic tail to a chicken to study how dinosaurs might have walked.



06 Feb 20:20

This cyborg mystery novel is what Intelligence could have been

by Lauren Davis

This cyborg mystery novel is what Intelligence could have been

One of the reasons Intelligence has fizzled is that it took a solid premise—a government agent with a chip in brain—and failed to do anything interesting with it. K.B. Spangler's novel Digital Divide, on the other hand, takes the idea of cyborg agents and runs with it in a tale of murder and anti-cyborg prejudice.



06 Feb 23:00

Weird true facts that sound false

by Cory Doctorow

A great and endlessly entertaining Reddit thread asks for weird facts that sound made up, but aren't, like "The Ottoman Empire still existed the last time the Cubs won the World Series" and "When you get a kidney transplant, they usually just leave your original kidneys in your body and put the 3rd kidney in your pelvis." And:

The United States in World War 2 created a bomb that used bats. The bats would be carrying small incendiary charges and would be released from the bomb in mid air, causing them to fly and scatter to different buildings in the area. The charges would then detonate and set all the buildings on fire. It was tested and proven to be very effective.

Russia is bigger than Pluto. (Surface area of Pluto: 16.7x10^6 km^2; Surface area of Russia: 17.1x10^6 km^2)

If you melted down the Eiffel Tower, the pool of iron would be less than 3 inches deep (in a square area the same dimensions as the tower base).

John Tyler, who became president in 1841, has 2 living grandchildren.

Mammoths were alive when the Great Pyramid was being built.

If an atom was the size of our solar system, a neutrino would be the size of a golfball, to scale.

Humans share 50% of their DNA with... bananas.

What's the most bullshit-sounding-but-true fact you know? : AskReddit (via Kottke)


07 Feb 20:32

How to turn a chicken into a dinosaur

by Mark Frauenfelder

"This is an animated gif of a chicken wearing a prosthetic tail to counterbalance its weight and make it walk like a dinosaur."


03 Feb 20:08

And a few residents of Middle Earth.

by Jessica Hagy


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03 Feb 19:22

Scientists Feed Peanut Butter to Jellyfish, Make PB and Jellyfish

by Robert T. Gonzalez

Scientists Feed Peanut Butter to Jellyfish, Make PB and Jellyfish

Researchers at the Children's Aquarium at Fair Park in Dallas, TX were curious what would happen if they fed their jellyfish a mix of seawater and peanut butter. Why? Well... two reasons, really.



02 Feb 19:39

Tapir taper

by toni

tapir taper


The heat is back and so am I!

* Awesome edit * Tapir taper is available on all sorts of products at Redbubble!

02 Feb 03:00

Canada's weirdly recursive geography

by Cory Doctorow

Mrmcd sez, "Contained within the borders of Canada are: the world's largest island in a lake on an island; the world's largest island in a lake on an island in a lake; and the world's largest island in a lake on an island in a lake on an island.


01 Feb 19:00

Med school students assigned to improve most-used medical Wikipedia entries

by Cory Doctorow

Dr. Amin Azzam who teaches at the UCSF school of medicine, has created an elective for his fourth year students in which they are assigned to improve the most-used medical Wikipedia entries. Students are given Wikipedia orientation and taught how to be good participants in the project. This is especially relevant given the fact that Wikipedia is the most-used reference among doctors and medical students. The students prioritize the most-cited, most-visited entries, and they are working with wikipedians to have these entries translated into many other languages, as well as adapting it for the "simple English" version of Wikipedia.

The pilot run, he said, was a great success. Five students (believe it or not, that’s a lot of students for a fourth-year elective in medical school, according to Azzam), after being oriented to the structure and editing process of the site, spent their month targeting articles that required improvement: the most read and those with the greatest potential health impact. They put their medical knowledge—after all, Azzam said, the students were less than six months away from being doctors—to good use. Most of Wikipedia is surprisingly accurate, Azzam said, because it uses the “wisdom of the crowd” to vet information. But medical pages have catching up to do. “Medical professionals haven’t been editing Wikipedia,” he said. “In fact, we were told not to go near it.” This anti-crowdsourcing bias has kept doctors from contributing to the site’s accuracy until now, Azzam said. But current students are more open to the value of editing the articles. +

America’s future doctors are starting their careers by saving Wikipedia [Rachel Feltman/Quartz]

30 Jan 18:38

Keep calm & carry on repressing your emotions (if you have them).

by Jessica Hagy

Why the British scare me.

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27 Jan 00:00


Stay warm, little flappers, and find lots of plant eggs!
23 Jan 21:09

Rufous elephant shrew (Hidden Kingdoms - BBC)

Rufous elephant shrew (Hidden Kingdoms - BBC)

21 Jan 14:10

Fore-Edge Paintings

by Greg Ross

Some of your old books may contain hidden artworks: Beginning in the 17th century, a book’s binder would sometimes paint a watercolor scene on the edge of the book’s page stack. If the pages were then gilded, the image might remain hidden for years until the pages were fanned.

Sometimes two different images are hidden in the same book, revealed successively when the pages are fanned “up” and “down.” In rare cases paintings are hidden not just on the book’s fore edge but on the top and bottom as well, offering a panoramic view of the painting’s subject.

18 Jan 21:42

Fiordland National Park, New Zealand (Nathan Kaso)

Fiordland National Park, New Zealand (Nathan Kaso)

08 Jan 00:00


I hate when people take photos of their meal instead of eating it, because there's nothing I love more than the sound of other people chewing.
25 Dec 02:27

Happy Holidays 2013

23 Dec 06:51


by Greg Ross

“The Bible tells us to love our neighbors, and also to love our enemies; probably because they are generally the same people.” — G.K. Chesterton

18 Dec 14:00

In Space, No One Can Hear Your Puns

In Space, No One Can Hear Your Puns

Submitted by: Unknown

Tagged: moon , puns , astronaut , space
10 Dec 15:33


by toni


04 Dec 01:45

Rewriting sensationalist headlines for mathematical correctness

by Cory Doctorow

Math With Bad Drawing's "Headlines from a Mathematically Literate World" is a rather good -- and awfully funny -- compendium of comparisons between attention-grabbing, math-abusing headlines, and their math-literate equivalents.

Our World: After Switch in Standardized Tests, Scores Drop
Mathematically Literate World: After Switch in Standardized Tests, Scores No Longer Directly Comparable

Our World: Proposal Would Tax $250,000-Earners at 40%
Mathematically Literate World: Proposal Would Tax $250,000-Earners’ Very Last Dollar, and That Dollar Alone, at 40%

Our World: Still No Scientific Consensus on Global Warming
Mathematically Literate World: Still 90% Scientific Consensus on Global Warming

Our World: Hollywood Breaks Box Office Records with Explosions, Rising Stars
Mathematically Literate World: Hollywood Breaks Box Office Records with Inflation, Rising Population

Our World: Illegal Downloaders Would Have Spent $300 Million to Obtain Same Music Legally
Mathematically Literate World: Illegal Downloaders Would Never Have Bothered to Obtain Same Music Legally

Headlines from a Mathematically Literate World


26 Nov 16:55

Turn your home into the Death Star with these amazing wall tiles

by Meredith Woerner

Turn your home into the Death Star with these amazing wall tiles

Turn any surface of your home into the cavernous surface of the Death Star thanks to these custom-made Star Wars tiles. What a brilliant idea!



21 Nov 03:03

Because is a new, Internet-driven preposition, because grammar

by Cory Doctorow

The English language has a new preposition, driven by Internet conventions: "Because." It's not clear where this originates, but I like the theory that's it's a contraction of "$SOMETHING is $MESSED_UP, because, hey, politics!"

However it originated, though, the usage of "because-noun" (and of "because-adjective" and "because-gerund") is one of those distinctly of-the-Internet, by-the-Internet movements of language. It conveys focus (linguist Gretchen McCulloch: "It means something like 'I'm so busy being totally absorbed by X that I don’t need to explain further, and you should know about this because it's a completely valid incredibly important thing to be doing'"). It conveys brevity (Carey: "It has a snappy, jocular feel, with a syntactic jolt that allows long explanations to be forgone").

But it also conveys a certain universality. When I say, for example, "The talks broke down because politics," I'm not just describing a circumstance. I'm also describing a category. I'm making grand and yet ironized claims, announcing a situation and commenting on that situation at the same time. I'm offering an explanation and rolling my eyes—and I'm able to do it with one little word. Because variety. Because Internet. Because language. 

English Has a New Preposition, Because Internet [Megan Garber/The Atlantic]

(via Making Light)


12 Nov 00:24

Dino workout

by toni

dino workout

06 Nov 21:49

Male northern elephant seal (Supergiant Animals - BBC)

Male northern elephant seal (Supergiant Animals - BBC)

05 Nov 22:43

From the Heart

by Greg Ross

Banker James M. Fail repeatedly donated money to his alma mater, the University of Alabama, which he credited for his success in the business world. But he declined opportunities to give his name to an Alabama facility. “After all,” he said, “who would want anything with the name ‘Fail’ on it?”

In 2008 he found a way to support the school and accept credit — he put his name on the visitors’ locker room.

29 Oct 06:45

A Pleating Feat

by Greg Ross

kiechle paper man

In 2011 Australian architect Horst Kiechle created an entire human torso from paper, as a geometric sculpture, for the science lab at the International School Nadi in Fiji.

He’s made the templates available for free — you can fold your own paper man, complete with removable organs.

10 Oct 05:31

I am a pumpkin!

by toni

i am a pumpkin


Octopus is ready for Halloween. I even turned him into a greeting card!

04 Oct 23:00

During the shutdown, some scientists can't talk about science

by Cory Doctorow

I'm guest of honor this weekend at the Dallas's Fencon this weekend, and I've just learned that some of the other speakers won't be able to talk, thanks to the government shutdown. They're government space scientists, and the 143-year-old Antideficiency Act makes it a crime (punishable by fines and imprisonment) for government employees to volunteer to do their own jobs (which, in their cases, includes talking about science to the public). The law dates back to the Lincoln administration, and was aimed at stopping fraudsters who did "government" business, then presented a bill for services that hadn't been contracted but had nevertheless been performed -- a kind of Civil War era version of red-light windscreen squeegeeing.


26 Sep 14:16

Home Page

by Greg Ross

Elis Stenman built a house out of paper. In 1922 the mechanical engineer began designing a summer home in Rockport, Mass., using wood for the frame, floor, and roof but fashioning the walls from newspaper pressed about an inch thick and coated with varnish.

“Actually, I guess he was supposed to cover the outside with clapboards, but he just didn’t,” Stenman’s grandniece, Edna Beaudoin, told the Cape Ann Sun in 1996. “You know, he was curious. He wanted to see what would happen to the paper, and, well, here it is, some 70 years later.”

In 1924 Stenman moved in and began making furniture, also out of newspaper, rolling it into logs, cutting it to length with a knife, and gluing or nailing it into usable finished pieces (one placard reads THIS DESK IS MADE OF THE CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR).

Stenman died in 1942, and his family has maintained the house ever since, showing it to curious visitors. “I think probably the most common question is just ‘Why?’” Beaudoin says. “We just really don’t know where he got the idea to build a house out of paper. He was just that sort of a guy.”