Shared posts

12 Feb 16:14

Watch: tone-deaf manager announces layoffs to 1400 Carrier Air Conditioner workers whose jobs are moving to Mexico

mostlysignssomeportents:

In this video, employees at the Carrier Air Conditioner factory in Indianapolis are gathered together by a manager who explains that the company’s profit-margins dictate that all 1400 of them will lose their jobs as their factory is moved to Mexico.

The manager’s prepared remarks are fantastically tone-deaf, almost unbelievably so. Although there’s not really any good way to spin the news that a company is moving a factory to a place where workers are paid less and enjoy fewer employment and industrial safety rights, there are surely bad and worse ways, and the manager here chose virtually the worst way imaginable.

Short of actually wiping his ass with their pink-slips, that is.

The speaker repeatedly stresses that moving the plant to Mexico will make the company’s owners richer by increasing their profit margins, as though this will somehow seem to be a comfort to the workers who will soon be unable to feed their families or save for their retirement – workers whose labor made every dime of the company’s profits to date possible.

It’s an odd sign of the times that the people who prepare this sort of speech believe that workers will be swayed by the logic that “We will make more money by destroying your life and the lives of your families” and lead with that as their best defense for visiting tragedy upon thousands of people.

The biggest surprise is that no one threw the guy out on his ass.

http://boingboing.net/2016/02/12/watch-tone-deaf-manager-annou.html

Thanks, NAFTA.

12 Feb 15:51

micdotcom: Add Gillian Anderson to the growing list of...















micdotcom:

Add Gillian Anderson to the growing list of actresses speaking out against ageism in Hollywood. The Daily Mail article about her was seriously appalling.

12 Feb 12:17

Alexandra Elbakyan is my hero

by PZ Myers

Here’s another way I’m privileged: I have free access to the University of Minnesota library system, with all of its journal subscriptions, so I rarely have to worry about finding something published in the major journals, with a few annoying exceptions. It’s only now, then, that I’ve learned about Sci-Hub, but I’ll be using it more, especially to deal with those exceptions.

Alexandra Elbakyan set up Sci-Hub to make science freely available.

For those of you who aren’t already using it, the site in question is Sci-Hub, and it’s sort of like a Pirate Bay of the science world. It was established in 2011 by neuroscientist Alexandra Elbakyan, who was frustrated that she couldn’t afford to access the articles needed for her research, and it’s since gone viral, with hundreds of thousands of papers being downloaded daily. But at the end of last year, the site was ordered to be taken down by a New York district court – a ruling that Elbakyan has decided to fight, triggering a debate over who really owns science.

“Payment of $32 is just insane when you need to skim or read tens or hundreds of these papers to do research. I obtained these papers by pirating them,” Elbakyan told Torrent Freak last year. “Everyone should have access to knowledge regardless of their income or affiliation. And that’s absolutely legal.”

She’s being sued by Elsevier! She is fighting the most evil science publisher in the world. This isn’t just heroism, it’s epic heroism.

12 Feb 02:14

These areas of overlap show where someone from an industry, like...



These areas of overlap show where someone from an industry, like Pharmaceuticals, Finance, or Agriculture, worked in the government agency which is supposed to oversee that industry, for the public good.

So you can see, for example, where about a dozen people have worked at Goldman Sachs and also for the Treasure, and even the SEC.

This is called Regulatory Capture, and it means that industries are “regulated” by the same people whose livelihood is dependent on the success of those industries.

Who do you think these people work for, when they have to choose between 99% of Americans and their buddies in the 1%?

And politicians have the audacity to wonder, out loud, why the American People have decided that the system is stacked against them.

11 Feb 20:27

Sorry, physicists, I’m going to have to be a wet blanket here

by PZ Myers

The Republicans in congress have just approved a rude little bill.

The House of Representatives approved legislation Wednesday that would require the National Science Foundation to provide written justification for how every grant furthers the “national interest.”
The legislation, H.R. 3293, passed largely along party lines in the Republican-controlled House. Its sponsors characterized the measure as designed to “ensure that the National Science Foundation (NSF) is open and accountable to the taxpayers about how their hard-earned dollars are spent.”

Meanwhile, those impractical enthusiastic physicists have been all jubilant over the discovery of gravitational waves, and it’s in the media everywhere I turn. Guess how much confirmation of this phenomenon cost?

The chirp is also sweet vindication for the National Science Foundation, which spent about $1.1 billion over more than 40 years to build a new hotline to nature, facing down criticism that sources of gravitational waves were not plentiful or loud enough to justify the cost.

All right, smart guys. I’m a reasonably intelligent, reasonably well-educated biologist, and I’ve been struggling to grasp the significance of this discovery. I want you to imagine standing in front of Lamar Smith or Dana Rohrabacher and having to explain to them how a squiggle in a billion-dollar instrument furthers the national interest. These are people quite happy to throw a trillion dollars away on the F-35, but want to know exactly how every penny going to basic science will Make America Great Again.

Have fun with that.

11 Feb 17:50

Hillary Clinton at Donald Trump's wedding

by Minnesotastan

I'll defer commentary. 

Via Reddit, where the discussion thread includes plenty of commentary.
11 Feb 18:02

A brick-built home: incredible LEGO modern kitchen

by Chris

Tim Schwalfenberg is trying to fool us with this kitchen photograph, which appears to be a gorgeous modern kitchen in an upscale home decor magazine. Look closely, though, and you’ll notice that it is completely LEGO. There are lots of great details here, but I like the train wheels for barstool cushions, and the tiled backsplash, which just looks perfectly realistic.

What's Cooking?

And if you enjoy large-scale modern home interiors made of LEGO, then you’ll definitely want to check out Littlehaulic’s builds:

Modern kitchen and dining room
Modern bedroom and den
Full beach house interior

09 Feb 14:09

Pyrameats

by nedroid

Pyrameats

11 Feb 03:58

"as you know, the immune system walks a fine line between being absolutely useless and killing you"

“as you know, the immune system walks a fine line between being absolutely useless and killing you”

-

immunology professor this week (via hyacinth-willow)

I mean, a fever is basically your immune system going, “LET’S SEE WHO BURNS FIRST, MOTHERFUCKER.”

(via thebastardofgloucester)

#ALSO MOST DEADLY ILLNESSES ARE ONLY DEADLY BECAUSE YOUR IMMUNE SYSTEM IS TRYING TO HELP

(via fightthecoldwithspices)

MY LIFE.

(via mskaylee)

09 Feb 16:00

Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal - Junk

by admin@smbc-comics.com

Hovertext: We need to stop enabling Saturn, you guys.


New comic!
Today's News:
10 Feb 11:00

beard2

by Author

beard2

A little whimsy from 2008.

10 Feb 14:32

Warner Pays $14 Million For Illegitimate “Happy Birthday” Claims

by Ernesto

copyright-brandedHappy Birthday is one of the best known songs worldwide and up until a few months ago Warner/Chappell music claimed to own the rights.

The melody was originally written before 1893 by sisters Mildred and Patty Hill, but the rights to the song were later transferred to Summy Co., which was eventually acquired by Warner/Chappell.

For decades, Warner continued to demand licensing fees from filmmakers, artists and other people who used the song in public, generating an estimated $2 million annually.

However, in 2013 a group of artists including musician Rupa Marya sued Warner’s music division claiming that the company doesn’t hold the rights to the song. Aside from missing agreements, the filmmakers argued that it’s not clear what the true origins of the song are.

Before even reaching a trial, Judge George King awarded a groundbreaking victory to the plaintiffs last fall. After a careful review of several agreements the court concluded that there is no evidence that the Hill sisters ever transferred their rights to Summy Co.

As a result Warner saw no other option than to settle the case. The settlement was announced last December and this week the terms were made public.

Under the terms (pdf) Warner agrees to create a $14 million settlement fund to compensate persons who paid Warner/Chappell Music or one of its predecessors licensing fees for Happy Birthday, since 1949.

In addition, Warner officially declares not to own any rights to the song.

“Defendants and Intervenors agree that, upon the Final Settlement Date, they will relinquish their ownership claims to the Song and all their rights to the Song,” the agreement reads.

Warner further agrees not to oppose a request from the artists to officially enter the Happy Birthday song into the public domain.

“Defendants and Intervenors will not oppose Plaintiffs’ request that the Final Judgment and Order include a declaratory judgment that, as of the Final Settlement Date, the Song will be in the public domain,” it reads.

settlehappy

Technically, Happy Birthday is now an orphan work which means that an unknown party could still step up to claim ownership. However, Warner/Chappell and the artists are both unaware of any outstanding copyright claims.

While $14 million is a significant amount, it’s relatively low considering that Warner probably made dozens of millions more from the song over the past 66 years.

The settlement marks the end of one of the most prominent copyright disputes in recent history. It also means that everyone is free to sing Happy Birthday in public, without having to look over their shoulders.

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and ANONYMOUS VPN services.

09 Feb 00:00

Fire From Moonlight

by xkcd

Fire From Moonlight

Can you use a magnifying glass and moonlight to light a fire?

—Rogier Spoor

At first, this sounds like a pretty easy question.

A magnifying glass concentrates light on a small spot. As many mischevious kids can tell you, a magnifying glass as small as a square inch in size can collect enough light to start a fire. A little Googling will tell you that the Sun is 400,000 times brighter than the Moon, so all we need is a 400,000-square-inch magnifying glass. Right?

Wrong. Here's the real answer: You can't start a fire with moonlight[1]Pretty sure this is a Bon Jovi song. no matter how big your magnifying glass is. The reason is kind of subtle. It involves a lot of arguments that sound wrong but aren't, and generally takes you down a rabbit hole of optics.

First, here's a general rule of thumb: You can't use lenses and mirrors to make something hotter than the surface of the light source itself. In other words, you can't use sunlight to make something hotter than the surface of the Sun.

There are lots of ways to show why this is true using optics, but a simpler—if perhaps less satisfying—argument comes from thermodynamics:

Lenses and mirrors work for free; they don't take any energy to operate. If you could use lenses and mirrors to make heat flow from the Sun to a spot on the ground that's hotter than the Sun, you'd be making heat flow from a colder place to a hotter place without expending energy. The second law of thermodynamics says you can't do that. If you could, you could make a perpetual motion machine.

The Sun is about 5,000°C, so our rule says you can't focus sunlight with lenses and mirrors to get something any hotter than 5,000°C. The Moon's sunlit surface is a little over 100°C, so you can't focus moonlight to make something hotter than about 100°C. That's too cold to set most things on fire.

"But wait," you might say. "The Moon's light isn't like the Sun's! The Sun is a blackbody—its light output is related to its high temperature. The Moon shines with reflected sunlight, which has a "temperature" of thousands of degrees—that argument doesn't work!"

It turns out it does work, for reasons we'll get to later. But first, hang on—is that rule even correct for the Sun? Sure, the thermodynamics argument seems hard to argue with,[2]Because it's correct. but to someone with a physics background who's used to thinking of energy flow, it may seem hard to swallow. Why can't you concentrate lots of sunlight onto a point to make it hot? Lenses can concentrate light down to a tiny point, right? Why can't you just concentrate more and more of the Sun's energy down onto the same point? With over 1026 watts available, you should be able to get a point as hot as you want, right?

Except lenses don't concentrate light down onto a point—not unless the light source is also a point. They concentrate light down onto an area—a tiny image of the Sun.[3]Or a big one! This difference turns out to be important. To see why, let's look at an example:

This lens directs all the light from point A to point C. If the lens were to concentrate light from the Sun down to a point, it would need to direct all the light from point B to point C, too:

But now we have a problem. What happens if light goes back from point C toward the lens? Optical systems are reversible, so the light should be able to go back to where it came from—but how does the lens know whether the light came from B or to A?

In general, there's no way to "overlay" light beams on each other, because the whole system has to be reversible. This keeps you from squeezing more light in from a given direction, which puts a limit on how much light you can direct from a source to a target.

Maybe you can't overlay light rays, but can't you, you know, sort of smoosh them closer together, so you can fit more of them side-by-side? Then you could gather lots of smooshed beams and aim them at a target from slightly different angles.

Nope, you can't do this.[4]We already know this, of course, since earlier we said that it would let you violate the second law of thermodynamics.

It turns out that any optical system follows a law called conservation of étendue. This law says that if you have light coming into a system from a bunch of different angles and over a large "input" area, then the input area times the input angle[5]Note to nitpickers: In 3D systems, this is technically the solid angle, the 2D equivalent of the regular angle, but whatever. equals the output area times the output angle. If your light is concentrated to a smaller output area, then it must be "spread out" over a larger output angle.

In other words, you can't smoosh light beams together without also making them less parallel, which means you can't aim them at a faraway spot.

There's another way to think about this property of lenses: They only make light sources take up more of the sky; they can't make the light from any single spot brighter,[6]A popular demonstration of this: Try holding up a magnifying glass to a wall. The magnifying glass collects light from many parts of the wall and sends them to your eye, but it doesn't make the wall look brighter. because it can be shown[7]This is left as an exercise for the reader. that making the light from a given direction brighter would violate the rules of étendue.[8]My résumé says étendue is my forté. In other words, all a lens system can do is make every line of sight end on the surface of a light source, which is equivalent to making the light source surround the target.

If you're "surrounded" by the Sun's surface material, then you're effectively floating within the Sun, and will quickly reach the temperature of your surroundings.[9](Very hot)

If you're surrounded by the bright surface of the Moon, what temperature will you reach? Well, rocks on the Moon's surface are nearly surrounded by the surface of the Moon, and they reach the temperature of the surface of the Moon (since they are the surface of the Moon.) So a lens system focusing moonlight can't really make something hotter than a well-placed rock sitting on the Moon's surface.

Which gives us one last way to prove that you can't start a fire with moonlight: Buzz Aldrin is still alive.

09 Feb 17:46

Making Waves. Literally

by Philippa Warr

Sometimes in chat Adam is all “FOOTBALL” and “GRAND STRATEGY GAMES” and “LUNCH”. Usually my favourite Adam chat is “LUNCH”. Today, however, we had “WAVE SIMULATOR”. “WAVE SIMULATOR” is my favourite of all.

The wave simulator in question is a simple-looking wave tool by David Li which lets you tweak a patch of ocean, making it choppier or calmer according to your fancy. It’s fantastically soothing for me to have on in another browser window as I work.

… [visit site to read more]

09 Feb 18:04

Doing it for the Clicks, Ms Blumner

by Amy Roth

It was brought to my attention that the tired excuse for when one doesn’t like something that was said on the internet was trotted out by the new CEO of Center For Inquiry, Robyn Blumner. It seems defending the old-school status quo is far more important than bothering with facts.

Via source and source: “Robyn Blumner, in her interview with Hemant Mehta on his podcast says this about Richard Dawkins’ twitter feed (starts at 30:31)”:

“I think Richard Dawkins is purposefully misunderstood at times as a way to generate clicks on some bloggers’ page. It’s because his name brings page views and eyes so why not generate a lot of heat around something that is pretty tame if you really unpack it.”

Dear Ms Blumner, the fact is that Richard Dawkins’ Twitter feed has become a source of power for those who wish to silence and harass minority voices in the atheist and feminist communities and beyond. His comments on abortion and down syndrome, rape, pedophilia, islamism, feminism, people with disabilities, white privilege and social justice are not “something that is pretty tame if you unpack it.” His comments are divisive, incendiary and out-right damaging to already muffled voices hoping to to be heard and wishing to be part of a community. There are plenty of more tweets I could link to- including ones he has recently deleted, but quite franky this topic has gotten tired don’t you think? It should however be pointed out to people such as Ms Blumner, since they have found themselves in a position of power in the free-thought community that the term “SJW” was created as an insult to people, mainly activists hoping to help minorities and create more inclusivity in communities such as atheism, humanism and gaming. Yes, caring about issues that affect the less privileged in society has become a popular insult and a joke used on a regular basis by antifeminists and the likes of Mr Dawkins. But maybe it’s not for attention. Maybe it’s purely out of spite.

Bloggers on independent networks such as this are not writing about issues such as atheism and free-thought for the “clicks.” We are literally the new generation of the free press. We are the indie mags. We are the Xerox copies handed to you at a gig on the Sunset Strip. We are people who work regular jobs during the day unrelated to blogging so that we can write with total freedom. We have no advertisers or bosses or board of directors breathing down our blouses dictating what is appropriate to say and when. We add and delete as we wish. There is no holiday bonus or book deals. We speak when we choose. We share truth and our own opinions when we so desire.

And about those clicks. The most I have ever made in a month blogging from ad revenue sharing was approximately $30. I remember this because I was so excited that it was enough to buy a cheap dress. Let that sink in. $30 in a month. Compare that to your CEO salary, Ms Blumner and come back here and tell me who has more to gain or lose by telling the truth. We independent bloggers are free speech. Money has no effect on what we decide to say. If you believe what you claim, that bloggers are essentially just vultures circling the feeds of famous men, in it for clicks and eyeballs, then you are ignorant on how the internet press works and blind to the damage your partner Mr Dawkins has done to minority voices. Your associate, Mr Dawkins regardless of intent, has encouraged harassment of women (including myself and others on this blog), bigotry and he has evolved over the past few years, like an excruciatingly slow train-wreck, into a very famous troll with literally millions hanging on each of his 140 character texts. Texts that we do not need to misinterpret or unpack because they speak clearly on their own.

Doing it for the clicks is simply another way of saying doing it for the attention. So tell me Ms Blumner, why does Mr Dawkins tweet these things and why do you defend it?

Hat tip to FTB and Monette for listening to a podcast so I didn’t have to.

07 Feb 15:31

Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal - The Talk

by admin@smbc-comics.com

Hovertext: Now, let's have the talk about how individual effort may matter less than other people's inherent ability.


New comic!
Today's News:

After 800 people pointed out my crappy base-11 number line (that's what I get for doing base-11 before bed), I have altered to votey. So, please press z to go back and give it a look! 

08 Feb 06:00

Comic for 2016.02.08

New Cyanide and Happiness Comic
07 Feb 21:59

"During an interview with Kevin Smith, Batman: TAS writer Paul Dini explained that Cartoon Network..."

“During an interview with Kevin Smith, Batman: TAS writer Paul Dini explained that Cartoon Network ended Young Justice because it didn’t like the type of people it was attracting, namely the penisly challenged. Dini claims to have actually heard executives say, “We do not want girls watching this show,” which was a problem because, as it turned out, women made up a significant chunk of Young Justice’s audience.
 
The studio’s reasoning was that older female viewers would either a) not buy Young Justice toys or b) demand the WRONG Young Justice toys, like official Batgirl tampons or something. What actually pisses me off the most, though, is not the economically nonsensical sexism but rather that Cartoon Network saw Young Justice, probably one of the greatest animated shows of the last few years, as just a vehicle to sell toys. It’s like telling someone to make you Cars and then complaining that you got Up instead.”

- Ridiculous Reasons Awesome TV Shows Were Canceled
06 Feb 15:36

What is a prayer?

by PZ Myers

I’ve heard a number of explanations: it’s a private conversation with the supernatural emperor of the universe, or possibly a moment of communion with all-that-is, or even just a quiet personal centering of the self. These are all lies. As we all know, prayer is actually an opportunity to posture publicly, promoting one’s own piety.

We have another example to illustrate the accuracy of my definition. Phoenix had a request from the Satanists to be allowed to give an opening prayer at council meetings, and the council struggled with their decision — whether to allow a Satanic prayer, which would cause a huge outcry from fanatical Christians; to prohibit certain faiths from participation, which would clearly violate the separation of church and state and lead to lawsuits; or to simply stop the prayer nonsense altogether, and instead have a moment of silence, in which individuals could freely have a private conversation with god, commune with all-that-is, center their self, or whatever.

Phoenix wisely went with the moment of silence idea. Seems smart to me; as an atheist, I wouldn’t object, and believers are still allowed to chat with god, commune, center, etc., if that’s what prayer is all about.

The majority of the council seem sensible and are willing. But others are willingly validating my theory that prayer is about loudly and publicly pronouncing the depth of their faith, and are melting down at the idea that they can’t get any more brownie points with the gods by babbling at others.

The objections have been emotional, loud and generally ignorant. Christians are pushing for their right to pray, but they don’t seem to understand the fact they can’t allow their prayers while banning others. The Phoenix council had an option of either allowing the alternate prayers, or banning them while facing a First Amendment-based lawsuit that is practically a guaranteed loss for them. They chose a third option of banning all prayer (the best option) completely. Now they are being threatened with even more lawsuits from Christians that want to insert religion into government – as long as it’s only Christian religion.

You can’t win with these people.

06 Feb 23:38

greenekangaroo: scrawlers: australopithecusrex: relax-o-vision: dedalvs: roachpatrol: kateordie...

greenekangaroo:

scrawlers:

australopithecusrex:

relax-o-vision:

dedalvs:

roachpatrol:

kateordie:

freezecooper:

Ppl be like “ I want an actual male gem, not just Steven.”

Jeez, it’s like having only one character

to represent your whole gender

in a group composed all of another gender

is a bit upsetting huh?

I wonder

what

that’s like

no really


can you 


even imagine


what this lack of representation

MUST 

FEEL 

LIKE

This

post

isn’t

long

enough

none of the listed shows are named after the one female character, either

it’s actually physically impossible for me to not reblog this post.

I want to say I’ve reblogged this before, but I’m reblogging again for the brilliant addition of, “None of the listed shows are named after the one female character, either” because FUCKING THANK YOU.

mmmmmhm.

Every time I reblog this, there are new shows on the list.

05 Feb 21:54

Clickety–clack, clickety-clack... Choo Choo!

by Jennifer

Current Iron Builder competitor Tim Schwalfenberg is chugging through the competition, having already completed seven builds. His most recent creation is this delightful microscale train scene. That pin connector looks great as a tank car. But I wonder what that tiny village needs two full tanks of. Gasoline? Milk? Mountain Dew Code Red? Tim’s packed a lot of detail into this small build — my favorites, other than the train itself, include the railroad crossing sign and that glorious gorge-spanning bridge.

Choo Choo!

05 Feb 18:38

archiemcphee: Cats + Mathematics = the Furbonacci sequence The...











archiemcphee:

Cats + Mathematics = the Furbonacci sequence

The Fibonacci sequence is found in many places in nature, including the branching of trees, leaves on a stem, the flowering of an artichoke, or an uncurling fern. But what if you applied this famous approximation of the golden spiral to our feline friends? Suddenly cats become even more awesome than we already thought they were.

Bored Panda is building a large collection of cute kitties demonstrating their mathematical prowess, nearly 40 as of the writing of this post. Click here to view them all.

image

Photos by thecheat42, Akimasa Harada, songbardbird, jacquiep, naux, and Beverley Goodwin respectively.

[via Bored Panda]

05 Feb 09:09

PayPal Starts Banning VPN and SmartDNS Services

by Ernesto

paypaldeniedPayPal is widely known for their aggressive stance towards BitTorrent sites, Usenet providers and file-hosting services, but VPN, proxy and SmartDNS providers might now suffer the same fate too.

This week PayPal stopped accepting payments for a company that provides VPN and SmartDNS tools, stating that these may facilitate copyright infringement.

So-called “unblocker” tools can be used to bypass geo-filtering blockades which Netflix and other video platforms have in place.

According to the message PayPal sent to UnoTelly and possibly others, these services are against the company’s policies because they help users to bypass copyright restrictions.

“Under the PayPal Acceptable Use Policy, PayPal may not be used to send or receive payments for items that infringe or violate any copyright, trademark, right of publicity or privacy, or any other proprietary right under the laws of any jurisdiction,” PayPal’s email reads.

“This includes transactions for any device or technological measure that descrambles a scrambled work, decrypts an encrypted work or otherwise avoids, bypasses, removes, deactivates or impairs a technological measure without the authority of the copyright owner.”

PayPal informs the affected business(es) that their accounts have been permanently limited and that this decision can’t be appealed. This means that they have to switch to other payment processing providers.

UnoTelly informs TorrentFreak that the decision came as a shock, without any type of prior notice. The company is disappointed and sees the move as a direct attack on open and unrestricted Internet access.

“We are disappointed at PayPal’s unilateral action and the way it acted without prior warning. We provide both DNS resolution and secure VPN services. Our services are network relays that connect people around the world,” UnoTelly’s Nicholas Lin says.

Under PayPal’s policy every VPN and SmartDNS service is at risk of losing its PayPal account. However, it seems likely that the company will mainly take action against companies that market themselves as an “unblocker” service.

UnoTelly, for example, specifically mentions its ability to bypass geo-blocks imposed by streaming sites such as Netflix and Hulu.

PayPal’s actions are not an isolated incident. They come a few weeks after Netflix started to increase its crackdown on VPN services and other unblockers, as requested by copyright holders. It would be no surprise if copyright holders are also behind PayPal’s recent move.

—-

PayPal’s email:

paypal.email-vpndns

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and ANONYMOUS VPN services.

04 Feb 16:25

Jurassic lacewing vs. modern butterfly

by Minnesotastan
"A study out today in the Proceedings of the Royal Society: B that features IU paleobotanist David Dilcher as a co-author identifies a Jurassic-age insect whose behavior and appearance closely mimic a butterfly — but whose emergence on Earth predates the butterfly by about 40 million years.

Dilcher — who made international headlines last year for his role in discovering the mythical “first flower” — said these proverbial “first butterflies” survived in a similar manner as their modern sister insects by visiting plants with “flower-like” reproductive organs producing nectar and pollen."
"The butterfly-like insects, which went on to evolve into a different form of insect from the modern butterfly, is an extinct “lacewing” of the genus kalligrammatid called Oregramma illecebrosa. Another genus of this insect — of the order Neuroptera — survives into our modern era, and are commonly known as fishflies, owlflies or snakeflies...

... another evolutionary innovation found in the ancient lacewing fossils’ wings remained remarkably unchanged over the course of millennia: so-called “eye spots.”

This unique pattern on the wings, arising over 200 million years ago, is nearly identical to markings on the modern owl butterfly. To this day, owl butterflies use these circular marks as a defense mechanism against predators, which mistake the spots as the eyes of a larger, more threatening animal."
Text and images from Indiana University, via Vice's Motherboard.
04 Feb 22:40

Who’s a pretty boy then? This scarlet macaw, that’s who!

by Elspeth De Montes

This LEGO model of a Scarlet Macaw by James Universe is currently being displayed at Dallas Zoo until April 10th 2016. James’ model is just under 12 inches tall and features a “tree stand” for displaying. Dallas Zoo is currently hosting an exhibition called Nature Connects by LEGO Certified Professional Sean Kenney and James’ model relates to this exhibition.

The rainbow plumage on this Scarlet Macaw is wonderful – the LEGO colour palate certainly works well for this species. I particularly love the use of multiple Medium Azure surfboards for the tail feathers.

02 Feb 16:32

Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal - BEES

by admin@smbc-comics.com

Hovertext: But, when I look at bees, I don't see caste.


New comic!
Today's News:
03 Feb 18:33

Photo



03 Feb 16:39

Bad arguments are bad arguments

by PZ Myers

Amidst all the chaos of the self-proclaimed atheist leaders exposing their flaws, it’s easy to forget that they’re right about atheism. There is no god. The arguments for god are pathetic and silly. Many religious beliefs are self-destructive and poisonous. I’ve been seeing a few articles lately that are basically gloating that atheism is dead or dying because Richard Dawkins said something stupid about women’s equality…but they ignore the fact that he also said many smart things about god-belief, and the regressive nature of one guy’s antipathy towards feminism does not discredit atheism, or provide any comfort to religious advocates. It’s also particularly ironic when Catholics wag a finger at a few atheists who are blinded by privilege, while studiously ignoring that one of the biggest threats to women’s rights in the western world has been Catholic doctrine.

But as far as arguments for religions go, Dawkins doesn’t matter, and neither do the criminal activities of the Catholic church. What matters on the topic of god-belief are the qualities of the arguments. and really, they are appallingly bad. I’m not talking about just the goofy crap that comes out of lackluster minds like that of a Hovind or a Comfort, but the Big Guns of religion, like Aquinas. They are impossible to take seriously, unless one is doped to the gills with bad theology.

People often send me links from a site called “Intellectual Takeout” — there are a lot of Catholics who think I still need to be taken down a peg or two — and they are without exception absurd. The latest that was told would humble me is The Most Famous Proof for God’s Existence, which left me unimpressed. Here it is, in summary:

The “First-Cause Argument”:

– It’s impossible for a thing to be the cause of itself.

– If something is caused by another, then these causes must go back to infinity, or their must be a first, uncaused cause that begins the chain of causes in the universe.

– It’s not possible for causes to go back to infinity.

– Therefore, there must be a First Cause, which everyone calls “God.”

I have two problems with it.

The first is that I don’t know that their initial premise is true. Why can’t a thing be caused by itself, or better yet, have no cause at all? It’s simply an assertion, plopped down at the beginning of the argument, and it hasn’t been demonstrated.

The second is a related problem. What do you mean by “cause”? Just yesterday I was sitting down at a microscope, staring at high power at single cells, and seeing slow bubbling fluctuations in the membranes and the jittering activity of organelles, and also jerky movements of debris particles in the water, and I understood the cause: Brownian motion. This is simply the visible, random motion of ojects in response to collisions with the smaller atoms of water, which are all jiggling randomly with simple thermal energy.

Is that accepted as a “cause”? There is no intelligence behind it. Even if you accept some kind of determinism (I don’t), it’s not causal in the sense implied by Aquinas, who is reading some kind of planned purposefulness to it.

So is “God” just a form of heat?

It generally seems to be true that the deeper we look into things the simpler and more physical their causes appear. You might ask, “Why carbon?”, wondering why there’s so much of it here on Earth. And the physicists will tell you it all comes from nucleosynthesis in stars. Is nucleosynthesis “God”? Are stars?

So even if I accept their first premise, that all things are caused, I see no reason to believe that the primal trigger for all existence was an intelligent being with human-like personal qualities, like love and morality. Quite the opposite actually. This is an argument that leads me far, far away from the typical religious perspective of a deity, and closer and closer to an atheistic, scientific view of the universe.

In this sense, the religious apologists seem to be thrilled with internal dissent within the atheist community, because it is a useful distraction from the bullshit they’ve been peddling for a few centuries.

02 Feb 00:00

Saliva Pool

by xkcd

Saliva Pool

How long would it take for a single person to fill up an entire swimming pool with their own saliva?

—Mary Griffin, 9th grade

The average kid produces about half a liter of saliva per day, according to the paper Estimation of the total saliva volume produced per day in five-year-old children, which I like to imagine was mailed to the Archives of Oral Biology in a slightly sticky, dripping envelope.

A five-year-old probably produces proportionally less saliva than a larger adult. On the other hand, I'm not comfortable betting that anyone produces more drool than a little kid, so let's be conservative and use the paper's figure.

If you're collecting your saliva,[1]This question is gross, by the way. you can't use it to eat.[2]I hope. You could get around this by chewing gum or something, to get your body to produce extra saliva, or just by drinking liquid food or getting an IV.

At the rate of 500 mL per day from the paper, it would take you about a year to fill a typical bathtub.

A bathtub full of saliva is pretty gross, but that's not what you asked about. For some reason—I don't really want to know why—you asked about filling a pool.

Let's imagine an Olympic-sized swimming pool, which is 25 meters by 50 meters. Depths vary, but we'll suppose this one is uniformly 4 feet deep,[3]You can read more of the regulations here; a pool with starting blocks does need a slightly deeper bit near each end, but it can be shallower in the middle. There doesn't seem to be anything in the rules about a maximum depth, so I suppose you can make a pool that continues through to the other side of the Earth, but then you run into trouble when you try to follow the instructions in section FR 2.14 about painting lane markings on the bottom. so you can probably stand up in it.

At 500 mL per day, it would take you 8,345 years to fill this pool. That's a long time for the rest of us to wait, so let's imagine you went back in time to get started on this project early.

8,345 years ago, the ice sheets that covered much of the northern parts of the world had mostly receded, and humans had just begun to develop agriculture. Let's imagine you started your project then.

By 4000 BCE, when the civilizations of the Fertile Crescent had begun to develop in modern-day Iraq, the saliva would be a foot deep, covering your feet and ankles.

By 3200 BCE, when writing was first developed, the saliva would creep past your knees.

Around the mid-2000s BCE, the Great Pyramid was constructed and early Mayan cultures emerged. At this point, the saliva would be getting close to your fingertips if you didn't lift your arms up.

Around 1600 BCE, the eruption of a huge volcano in the Greek island now known as Santorini caused a massive tsunami which devastated the Minoan civilization, possibly causing its final collapse. As this happened, the saliva would probably be approaching waist-deep.

The saliva would continue to rise throughout the next three millennia of history, and by the time of Europe's industrial revolution it would be chest-deep, easily enough saliva to swim in. The last 200 years would add the final 3 centimeters, and the pool would finally be filled.

It would take a long time, sure. But it would all be worth it, because at the end of it all, you'd have an Olympic-size swimming pool full of saliva. And isn't that, deep down, all any of us really want?[4]No. It is not.

02 Feb 23:23

"Ghastly facadism" decried

by Minnesotastan

Excerpts and a couple photos from an interesting post in Spitalfields Life:
"As if I were being poked repeatedly in the eye with a blunt stick, I cannot avoid becoming increasingly aware of a painfully cynical trend in London architecture which threatens to turn the city into the backlot of an abandoned movie studio..."

I don't know the backstory, but the implication is that local building codes require developers of new properties to retain or install a facade comparable to that of the historic building being replaced.  I'll let the blogger offer the final statement:
A kind of authenticity’ is British Land’s oxymoronical attempt to sell this approach in their Norton Folgate publicity, as if there were fifty-seven varieties of authenticity, when ‘authentic’ is not a relative term – something is either authentic or it is phoney.
Perhaps some reader of TYWKIWDBI can fill us in with some background.