Shared posts

25 Aug 15:56

Just us dogs

by Kay Kremerskothen
Homemade Airplanes 2/365
sprinkle happinessHomemade Airplanes 2/365
Beach Dog
YetAnotherLisaBeach Dog
Today's my dog. Taken with Takumar 50/1.4.
lala_turbo_nitroToday's my dog. Taken with Takumar 50/1.4.

Want to explore more? Here are some cool dog photos taken since the beginning of August.

22 Aug 12:49

Wake County Hits 1 Million Residents

by Leo Suarez

Throwing a tweet of mine up here on the blog for posterity.

Downtown living is still an extreme niche. As we hit 1 million in the county, still less than 10,000 in DTR. That's 1%.

— Leo Suarez (@dtraleigh) August 22, 2014

And then let me add a little more statistics. According to a 2014 report from the Downtown Raleigh Alliance, we get this nice graphic.
Downtown Raleigh Resident Population Statistics
Click for larger

22 Aug 05:00

Four Score and Seven Tests Ago

by Adam
Scott Akerman

I remember being in a trailer at some school I've never seen since and then going to lunch.


21 Aug 04:00

part one was published in 2004, and carries a 2003 copyright date! apparently while composing the second part I TOOK MY SWEET FRIGGIN' TIME. in other news if you have been reading dinosaur comics since 2003 and are still reading it, thank you so much, i love you, i really do

Scott Akerman


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August 21st, 2014: Here's Part One! Remember it? If you do you have been reading Dinosaur Comics for over a decade and I LOVE YOU

– Ryan

21 Aug 10:00


by Justin Boyd


Speaking of vacations, I’m going on vacation!  Don’t worry, it’s a short one, so I’ll be back next week for the usual.

I’m gonna be relaxing mega hard this weekend though, so just know that =)

bonus panel
20 Aug 04:00

SEXT: im a doctor + i cut u open to see your heart. it's messy wet flesh that moves on its own. i seal u back up and we never kiss again

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August 20th, 2014: SEXT: im a tree and ur another tree. we blow sex dust all over each other + ppl sneeze and get hayfever. ur so turned on rn with my sex dust

– Ryan

20 Aug 14:52

A Softer World: 1143

20 Aug 05:00

Nice Enough Guys Finish Last

by Adam


19 Aug 05:00

Eternal Sunshine of the Witless Mind

by Adam
Scott Akerman

"Remember your senior prom night? Let's scan everything leading up to, and including, that night."


19 Aug 17:24

A Softer World: 1142

18 Aug 14:51

The Shape of Ideas

by Grant

You can order a poster at my shop.
14 Aug 10:00

A Birthday

by Justin Boyd

A Birthday

Things start getting really weird once you get a little older.


I’m gonna get a server set up for all of us to play Chivalry on Saturday, August 16th starting at 8 PM Eastern!  I’ll be there If you’re gonna be joining, please let me know in the comments here and please be sure to join this Steam Group so I can communicate with you!


bonus panel
13 Aug 15:48

A Softer World: 1140

11 Aug 05:41


12 Aug 05:00

#1053; The Star So Softly Said Hello

by David Malki

it's okay to be alone. but let's do it together.

06 Aug 04:00

Quantum Vacuum Virtual Plasma

I don't understand the things you do, and you therefore may represent an interaction with the quantum vacuum virtual plasma.
05 Aug 05:00

Dead Men Tell No Tweets

by Adam


15 Jul 05:00

#1046; A Soft Definition of Hacking

by David Malki

finding yourself in possession of both a series of unbagged bagels AND a stack of old CD spindles is a sign that matters may have progressed beyond the power of a 'hack' to solve

14 Jul 05:15

Love Sinks

by Adam


11 Jul 05:00

#1045; Everyone is Obviously Right

by David Malki

but *I'M* of course considering matters OBJECTIVELY

22 Jul 19:18

Wrecks of Truk Lagoon by Catherine Marshall

by Arnold Chao
Fujikawa Maru
cathm2Fujikawa Maru

What’s the history of this wreck site captured in the photo above?

The wrecks of Truk Lagoon were sunk as part of Operation Hailstorm, a coordinated effort by U.S. forces to destroy the Japanese fleet based in Chuuk, which took place February 17 and 18, 1944. A reconnaissance flight was seen by the Japanese two days previously, giving time to move many of their warships, but leaving many cargo ships containing supplies for the war effort mostly undefended.

Fujikawa Maru
cathm2Fujikawa Maru

The Fujikawa Maru (in the top photo) is one of the more famous dives of Truk. This is partly due to its accessibility; it lies in relatively shallow water, and upright. The holds have a number of artifacts inside, including the mostly intact fuselage of a Zero fighter. Both the Fujikawa Maru and Shinkoku Maru lie relatively close to islands, and the run-off from these have resulted in spectacular soft coral growth.

Shinkoku Maru
cathm2Shinkoku Maru

Tell us about your journey to this location.

Actually getting to Truk Lagoon is a hassle but not difficult per se. It was one of the more unfriendly flight schedules in the world, with many of the flights going there departing in the early hours of the morning; the main routes are via Manila or Guam, with some direct flights from Palau and Yap. Once there, diving is either via liveaboard, or from tenders run by the dive shops on shore. I did a mixture of both.

Dive deck on the Odyssey
cathm2Dive deck on the Odyssey
Kiyosumi Maru
cathm2Kiyosumi Maru

What can you tell us about the human remains and the wrecks you visited?

A few of the ships have human remains on board – someone has rather artistically arrayed a number of arm and leg bones on the operating table of the Shinkoku Maru. One of the more gruesome finds was from a few years back, on the Yamagiri Maru, where the skull of the engineer was discovered fused into the roof of the engine room, where the main explosion had taken place.

Fujikawa Maru
cathm2Fujikawa Maru

Has anyone died from diving there?

I’m not sure with regards to your question of deaths while diving in Truk. I’m sure there have been some, it’s a fairly common place for decompression illness due to the depths and repetitive diving. Other hazards include the overhead environment — it’s possible to penetrate several levels into unlit engine rooms — and unexploded ordnance, as well as sharp edges, etc.

Nippo Maru
cathm2Nippo Maru

Are you allowed to take any relics that you find?

It’s illegal to take any items from the wrecks. In the past, a lot of items have been removed, which has detracted form the diving today. Nowadays, a lot of the artifacts are hidden by the dive guides and brought out for dives, then put away again, to reduce the chances of theft.

San Francisco Maru
cathm2San Francisco Maru

How far down are the wrecks at this dive site? How much dive time is required to enjoy them?

The San Francisco Maru is one of the deepest wrecks in Truk Lagoon, and probably the deepest that is dived regularly. It’s known as the “Million Dollar Wreck”due to the number of artifacts on board. It’s 45m to the superstructure and 50m to the deck – 63m to the seabed but not many people go that deep! The most interesting parts are the tanks and guns on the deck, and then the holds (necessitating adding some extra depth dropping down next to the trucks etc). My total dive time was 65 minutes, of which 34 minutes was decompression time. When you include the time to get down, that doesn’t leave long on the wreck.

Nippo Maru
cathm2Nippo Maru

Tell us about yourself.

I’m a Brit who moved to Australia in 2009 for work, and am here for the foreseeable future. My day job is medicine — I’m training to be an emergency physician. I first properly got into photography when I bought my first SLR in 2006 and got my first (compact) underwater housing in 2007. I didn’t graduate to underwater SLR photography until 2011 — there’s a lot to learn and you feel like a beginner again.

Whale shark, Roca Partida
cathm2Whale shark, Roca Partida

What gear do you use?
I’ve always used Canon cameras, purely through familiarity. I started with an Ixus, then moved on to the S95. Since 2011, I’ve been using a Canon 550D with Nauticam housing — Tokina 10-17mm for wide angle and Canon 60mm macro for close-up, with an Inon S2000 strobe. The entire lot was stolen in January. I’ll get a replacement from insurance, but still waiting on that. I still have my trusty old compact camera though!

Pygmy seahorse
cathm2Pygmy seahorse
Heian Maru
cathm2Heian Maru

Do you have any tips for shooting underwater?

I guess the first tip would be to wait until you’re comfortable in the water before you start taking photos. Before I started taking pictures, I’d been diving for a few years, and I felt like I had to relearn my buoyancy all over again. There’s no sense getting a great picture if you knock that beautiful coral off the wall 30 seconds later!

Lembeh strait critters
cathm2Lembeh strait critters
Raja Ampat - Misool region
cathm2Raja Ampat – Misool region

The other thing is to keep diving. The main teacher is experience — spending plenty of time underwater and observing. If you’re not there, you won’t get the shot!

Kensho Maru
cathm2Kensho Maru
Scorpionfish on the Rainbow Warrior
cathm2Scorpionfish on the Rainbow Warrior

What’s your favorite dive site?

There are lots of places in the world that are amazing, and I’m not sure I can pick a single favorite. In Australia, I’d pick two places — the Pipeline in Nelson Bay, which is a fantastic macro site, and Julian Rocks in Byron Bay (which actually consists of a dozen or so sites within the marine park). Both sites have a huge diversity that you don’t expect on your back door. The Pipeline has been rated as one of the best muck diving sites in the world — cruising along over a very uninspiring seabed, you can find all sorts of amazing creatures, especially nudibranchs (colorful sea slugs) and seahorses.

North Rock gutters
cathm2North Rock gutters

What diving moment was the most dangerous?

The photos you’d expect to be risky are actually not. None of the shark photos were risky – we were inside a cage observing the great whites. And the grey nurse sharks, while looking ferocious, are placid and timid. I’d say one of my most risky dives was in Truk Lagoon, on the San Francisco Maru – it’s a deep wreck. And while the dive was very well planned and executed, it’s important not to get carried away taking photos. At 52 meters, you experience nitrogen narcosis, a sensation of being drunk underwater, which like alcohol affects everyone differently. Having said that, the most challenging photos are actually the macro subjects, such as the pygmy seahorse, who are tiny and extremely camera shy. In a strong current it can be extremely difficult to see them, let alone get a decent shot!

Great white sharks, Isla Guadelupe
cathm2Great white sharks, Isla Guadelupe

Thank you, Catherine, for the interview.

Explore more photography in Catherine Marshall’s photostream.

11 Jul 04:00

those incredibly, incredibly hot stars

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– Ryan

08 Jul 04:00

Some countries are born great, some achieve greatness, but all have greatness thrust into their national anthem

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July 8th, 2014: La Marseillaise, ladies and gentlemen!

I actually don't know what the anthem of the Klingon Empire is :( :( D:

– Ryan

09 Jul 04:00

*runs up from out of nowhere directly towards you, panting and out of breath* I KNOW A LOT ABOUT SPERM

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July 9th, 2014: If you're not starting every answer with "First off: how much do you know about sperm?" then all I can say is, wow, you're probably getting asked more questions than me, huh??

– Ryan

14 Jul 21:31

The concept of stress, sponsored by Big Tobacco

by vaughanbell

NPR has an excellent piece on how the scientific concept of stress was massively promoted by tobacco companies who wanted an angle to market ‘relaxing’ cigarettes and a way for them to argue that it was stress, not cigarettes, that was to blame for heart disease and cancer.

They did this by funding, guiding and editing the work of renowned physiologist Hans Selye who essentially founded the modern concept of stress and whose links with Big Tobacco have been largely unknown.

For the past decade or so, [Public Health Professor Mark] Petticrew and a group of colleagues in London have been searching through millions of documents from the tobacco industry that were archived online in the late ’90s as part of a legal settlement with tobacco companies.

What they’ve discovered is that both Selye’s work and much of the work around Type A personality were profoundly influenced by cigarette manufacturers. They were interested in promoting the concept of stress because it allowed them to argue that it was stress — not cigarettes — that was to blame for heart disease and cancer.

“In the case of Selye they vetted … the content of the paper, they agreed the wording of papers,” says Petticrew, “tobacco industry lawyers actually influenced the content of his writings, they suggested to him things that he should comment on.”

They also, Petticrew says, spent a huge amount of money funding his research. All of this is significant, Petticrew says, because Selye’s influence over our ideas about stress are hard to overstate. It wasn’t just that Selye came up with the concept, but in his time he was a tremendously respected figure.

Despite the success of the campaign to associate smoking with stress relief, the idea that smoking alleviates anxiety is almost certainly wrong. It tends to just relieve anxiety-provoking withdrawal and quitting smoking reduces overall anxiety levels.

Although the NPR article focuses on Selye and his work on stress, another big name was recruited by Big Tobacco to promote their theories.

It’s still little known that psychologist Hans Eysenck took significant sums of cash from tobacco companies.

They paid for a lot of Eysenck’s research that tried to show that the relationship between lung cancer and smoking was not direct but was mediated by personality differences. There was also lots of other research arguing that a range of smoking related health problems were only present in certain personality types.

Tobacco companies wanted to fund this research to cite it in court cases where they were defending themselves against lung cancer sufferers. It was their personalities, rather than their 20-a-day habit, that was a key cause behind their imminent demise, they wanted to argue in court, and they needed ‘hard science’ to back it up. So they bought some.

However, the link between ‘father of stress’ Hans Seyle and psychologist Hans Eysenck was not just that they were funded by the same people.

A study by Petticrew uncovered documents showing that both Seyle and Eysenck appeared in a 1977 tobacco industry promotional film together where “the film’s message is quite clear without being obvious about it — a controversy exists concerning the etiologic role of cigarette smoking in cancer.”

The ‘false controversy’ PR tactic has now became solidified as a science-denier standard.

Link to The Secret History Behind The Science Of Stress from NPR.
Link to paper ‘Hans Selye and the Tobacco Industry’.

07 Jul 23:00

Female Characters

by Graham Stark

Look, making games is harder that you think, okay?

11 Jul 04:00


'Hello, Ghostbusters?' 'ooOOoooo people born years after that movie came out are having a second chiiiild right now ooOoooOoo'
14 Jul 19:29

The Process

by Reza


02 Jul 12:00

18th Century Marriage Customs

by Holly Tucker

By Stephanie Cowell (Regular Contributor)

Screen Shot 2014-07-02 at 11.35.45 AMMozart married at the age of 25 in Vienna’s Stephansdom Cathedral, where you can still go today and kneel near the spot where he knelt with his bride. He was a city man, and sophisticated, so he may not have participated in some of the usual wedding customs…but perhaps he did. Nevertheless, we do know that he set to work at once to get his bride between the sheets (what mattered in his eyes).

Good Fortune and Good Luck

For good fortune, the bride of the late eighteenth-century must not sew the last stitch of her wedding dress until it was time to leave for the church (we hope she remembered to remove the needle); once on her way, she must not look in a mirror. Brides on the way to marriage were considered susceptible to evil spirits. As they walked, her bridesmaids, often dressed in a similar way so that such spirits could not distinguish them from each other, clustered around her protectively. It was good luck to see a chimney sweep or a black cat. Wednesday was the most propitious day for marriages; Fridays and Saturdays were bad. If snow fell on her wedding day, it would bring fertility and wealth.

On leaving her house, the bride would step over piles of broken dishes. The night before the wedding was the Polterabend, where friends and family would small all chipped crockery or glass for good luck and hurl them out the windows.

Dressing for the Day

The wedding procession was led by a fiddler and, on the wedding morning, the bride was sent a morgen-gabe–a morning gift–from her groom. She in turn sent him a shirt she had sewn for the wedding day, which he was to keep all his life.

The bride’s dress was often white, which stood for joy, not purity; she often wore a blue band at her hem, representing purity. Her veil was another way to hide her from the spirits until safely in her husband’s care. But the first one to buy anything after the marriage would dominate the relationship; brides sometimes arranged to buy a pin from a bridesmaid. (This was before you could place an order by cell phone while walking back up the aisle.)

Weddings and Married Life

During the reception, the bride danced the wreath dance, sometimes called “dancing off the bridal crown,” the wreath which symbolized her maidenhood. Married women danced about her until their circle was broken by their fatigue or roughly intruding groomsmen, who then stole the wreath. Guests tried to take home a part of the broken wreath, which mean they would be married within the year. The bride then put a matron’s cap on her likely disheveled hair. Following the wedding, the best man would often steal the bride, leaving the groom to find her. Events could turn bawdy.

After marriage, a woman’s life would consist of kinder, kleider, kirche, and kuche–children, clothes, church, and cooking. Of course, for many women, there was much more than that.

While we may not know how many of these traditions Mozart and his wife engaged in, we do know that their marriage was a joyful one despite their being poor. His love letters during their married life are tender, bawdy, and filled with the greatest love.

This post originally appeared at Wonders & Marvels on 18 December 2008.



Wonders and Marvels

04 Jul 12:37

Do we really hate thinking so much we’d electrocute ourselves rather than do it?

by tomstafford

By Tom Stafford, University of Sheffield

The headlines

The Guardian: Shocking but true: students prefer jolt of pain than being made to sit and think

Nature: We dislike being alone with our thoughts

Washington Post: Most men would rather shock themselves than be alone with their thoughts


The story

Quiet contemplation is so awful that when deprived of the distractions of noise, crowds or smart phones, a bunch of students would rather give themselves electric shocks than sit and think.


What they actually did

Psychologists from the universities of Virginia and Harvard in the US carried out a series of 11 studies in which participants – including students and non-students – were left in an unadorned room for six to 15 minutes and asked to “spend time entertaining themselves with their thoughts.” Both groups, and men and women equally, were unable to enjoy this task. Most said they found it difficult to concentrate and that their minds wandered.

In one of the studies, participants were given the option to give themselves an electric shock, for no given reason or reward. Many did, including the majority of male participants, despite the fact that the vast majority of participants had previously rated the shocks as unpleasant and said they would pay to avoid them.


How plausible is this?

This is a clever, provocative piece of research. The results are almost certainly reliable; the authors, some of whom are extremely distinguished, discovered in the 11 studies the same basic effect – namely, that being asked to sit and think wasn’t enjoyable. The data from the studies is also freely available, so there’s no chance of statistical jiggery-pokery. This is a real effect. The questions, then, are over what exactly the finding means.


Tom’s take

Contrary to what some reporters have implied, this result isn’t just about students – non-students also found being made to sit and think aversive, and there were no differences in this with age. And it isn’t just about men – women generally found the experience as unpleasant. The key result is that being made to sit and think is unpleasant so let’s look at this first before thinking about the shocks.

The results fit with research on sensory deprivation from 50 years ago. Paradoxically, when there are no distractions people find it hard to concentrate. It seems that for most of us, most of the time, our minds need to receive stimulus, interact with the environment, or at least have a task to function enjoyably. Thinking is an active process which involves the world – a far cry from some ideals of “pure thought”.

What the result certainly doesn’t mean, despite the interpretation given by some people – including one author of the study – is that people don’t like thinking. Rather, it’s fair to say that people don’t like being forced to do nothing but think.

It’s possible that there is a White Bear Effect here – also known as the ironic process theory. Famously, if you’re told to think of anything except a white bear, you can’t help but think about a white bear. If you imagine the circumstances of these studies, participants were told they had to sit in their chairs and just think. No singing, no exploring, no exercises. Wouldn’t that make you spend your time (unpleasantly) ruminating on what you couldn’t do?

In this context, are the shocks really so surprising? The shocks were very mild. The participants rated them as unpleasant when they were instructed to shock themselves, but we all know that there’s a big difference between having something done to you (or being told to do something) and choosing to do it yourself.

Although many participants chose to shock themselves I wouldn’t say they were avoiding thinking – rather they were thinking about what it would be like to get another shock. One participant shocked himself 190 times. Perhaps he was exploring how he could learn to cope with the discomfort. Curiosity and exploration are all hallmarks of thinking. It is only the very limited internally directed, stimulus-free kind of thinking to which we can apply the conclusion that it isn’t particular enjoyable.


Read more

The original paper: Just think: The challenges of the disengaged mind.

You can see the data over at the Open Science Framework.

Daniel Wegner’s brilliant book on the White Bear problem.

The Conversation

This article was originally published on The Conversation.
Read the original article.