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Friday, March 22, 2013

When the Whole World Has Drones

The precedents the U.S. has set for robotic warfare may have fearsome consequences as other countries catch up.

The proliferation of drone technology has moved well beyond the control of the United States government and its closest allies. The aircraft are too easy to obtain, with barriers to entry on the production side crumbling too quickly to place limits on the spread of a technology that promises to transform warfare on a global scale. Already, more than 75 countries have remote piloted aircraft. More than 50 nations are building a total of nearly a thousand types.

How the U.S. Cracked Japan's 'Purple Encryption Machine' at the Dawn of World War II

When one thinks about cryptography or encryption in World War II, the first thing that comes to mind is the Enigma Machine used by the Nazis, whose code was broken by the Allies and used as a secret tactical advantage. But what many people don’t know is that just before World War II, the Japanese also developed a series of encryption devices that improved upon the Enigma Machine and were used to transport their top level military secrets. Here's the unknown story of how U.S. intelligence was able to crack the Japanese Purple Machine.

Supercut: Gary Oldman Losing It

Heh - nobody loses it quite like Gary Oldman. NSFW (Language)
Gary Oldman Loses His Shit from Flavorwire on Vimeo.

18 Academic Papers About '90s TV Shows

See the whole post at Mental Floss.  A few favorites:

Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: the aesthetics of phallo-militaristic justice.

Solidarity and the Scoobies: an analysis of the-y suffix in the television series Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
Revealing the universal through the specific in A Different World: An interpretive approach to a television depiction of African-American culture and communication patterns.

Powerpuff Girls: Fighting evil gender messages or postmodern paradox?

Friday links

The World's Shortest War lasted 40 minutes.

Funny signs from The Simpsons

What Colored Food Does to Your Poop. NSFW for language and poopy images.

Gallery of Fictional Currency & Imaginary Money.

Skeleton reveals ancient Greek brain surgery.

The History of Soap.

The Plan to Bring the Passenger Pigeon Back From Extinction.

Funny signs from The Simpsons

For Simpsons fans, and for those who aren't so you can see what you're missing:



28 Funny Products Spotted on The Simpsons

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Myth or Fact: Women’s Menstrual Cycles Synchronize if They are in Close Proximity for Large Amounts of Time

The belief that this occurs is widely known. In 1999, one study reported that 80% of women believe this phenomenon occurs and 70% of them find it pleasant to have this be the case. The truth, like so many other things in science, is controversial. The main body of evidence, however, suggests this is nothing but a myth and it’s really just random chance when this synchronization is occurring.

Which reminds me of this classic from The Onion: Lilith Fair Performers, Attendees Achieve Largest-Ever Synchronized Ovulation.  

Can Eating Chicken Make You Gay?

Apparently gay men ate a lot of chicken when they were growing up. Or at least that’s what one Colombian model believes.

Via James Taranto.

Politico: Menendez donor flew Reid on his private jet, too

Looks like the Salomon Melgen/Robert Menendez scandal may go the full Jack Abramoff. Politico has a splashy report, complete with a look-what-we-found video, about the connections between Melgen and two other top Democrats — Harry Reid and Barack Obama.

VDH: America’s Big Fat Advantage - Meritocracy

Even in its third century, America is still the most meritocratic nation in the world. Unlike under the caste system of India; the class considerations of Europe; the racial homogeneity of China, Japan, or Korea; the tribalism of Africa; or the religious orthodoxy of the Middle East, in America one can offer a new idea, invention, or protocol and have it be judged on its merits, rather than on the background, accent, race, age, gender, or religion of the person who offers it.

Businesses evaluate proposals on the basis of what makes them lots of money. Publishers want writing that a lot of people will read. Popular culture is simply a reflection of what the majority seems to want. In the long run, that bottom line leads to national wealth and power.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

The Science Of Hair Loss

The Story Behind the Man Who was Killed in the Famous “Saigon Execution” Photo

Looking at this image out of context, it appears as though an officer is gunning down an innocent prisoner, perhaps even a civilian. You are apparently witnessing a savage war crime. That is the reason this image was adopted by anti-war protesters as an indictment against the Vietnam War. Without understanding the background, there is no reason to think that is not the case. It seems like yet another image showing someone acting horrifically and immorally during war time. But, when you learn the story behind the man who is being executed in this photo, the image and the reasoning behind the execution becomes a little bit clearer.

According to accounts at the time, when South Vietnamese officers captured Lem, he was more or less caught in the act, at the site of a mass grave. This grave contained the bodies of no less than seven South Vietnamese police officers, as well as their families, around 34 bound and shot bodies in total.

The photographer, Eddie Adams, had this to say of capturing the photo:
I just followed the three of them as they walked towards us, making an occasional picture. When they were close – maybe five feet away – the soldiers stopped and backed away. I saw a man walk into my camera viewfinder from the left. He took a pistol out of his holster and raised it. I had no idea he would shoot. It was common to hold a pistol to the head of prisoners during questioning. So I prepared to make that picture – the threat, the interrogation. But it didn’t happen. The man just pulled a pistol out of his holster, raised it to the VC’s head and shot him in the temple. I made a picture at the same time…
The General then walked up to Adams and said, “They killed many of my people, and yours, too,” then walked away.  Read more here.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Star Wars Meets School House Rock

Unpack Your Adjectives.

Scientists Build Lasers Out of Sound, Call Them Phasers

Using a nanoscale drum, scientists have built a laser that uses sound waves instead of light like a conventional laser.

Because laser is an acronym for “light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation,” these new contraptions – which exploit particles of sound called phonons – should properly be called phasers. Such devices could one day be used in ultrasound medical imaging, computer parts, high-precision measurements, and many other places.

China Is Engineering Genius Babies

Read the whole thing:  Embryo screening will allow parents to pick their brightest zygote and potentially bump up every generation's intelligence by five to 15 IQ points.

Slow-Motion Video Of A Bridge Exploding



More at PopSci: demolition experts demolished a 1930s-era steel bridge along US 281 in Marble Falls, Texas over the weekend, and someone was there to film it. I love how the first two passes of the video -- real-time and semi-slo-mo -- it's difficult to see exactly how the demo goes. But the third time, look closely under the bridge. You can totally see the detonator cords burning up ahead of the ignition of the shaped charges that brought the trusses down. The video also clearly demonstrates the difference between the speed of light in air and the speed of sound in air -- the flashes from the charges are long gone by the time the sound waves make it to the filming location.

Tuesday links

What if you somehow managed to make a stereo travel at twice the speed of sound?

Star Wars, Japanese Anime Style.  And a gallery of movies re-imagined for another time & place.

Copycat architecture of China, including the Eiffel Tower and the entire city of Venice.

Amazon item reviews: Passion Natural Water-Based Lubricant - 55 Gallon.

The History of the Universe in 18 Minutes.

Amazon item reviews: Passion Natural Water-Based Lubricant - 55 Gallon



Be sure to read the reviews.  Hard to believe that there are only 2 left in stock.

You may never run out of lube again!  Note: Includes pump.

"I can't count the number of 5-gallon jugs of lube I purchased before I realized the amount of money I could save by buying in quantity."

Monday, March 18, 2013

Producers of “The Bible” miniseries: No way were we trying to make Satan look like Obama

“This is utter nonsense. The actor who played Satan, Mehdi Ouzaani, is a highly acclaimed Moroccan actor. He has previously played parts in several Biblical epics– including Satanic characters long before Barack Obama was elected as our President."  More at HotAir.

Excellent: (A Biologist’s) St. Patrick’s Day Song

A day late... the science of drinking.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Cyprus confiscating bank deposits - of course it could happen here

Read the whole thing at Zerohedge:

Politics aside, the bottom line is that the Rubicon has been crossed, and deposits have now been forcefully confiscated in what Europe promises to be a standalone case. What is certain, is that nobody will wait to find out how long it takes before Europe's class of increasingly more desperate and ill-meaning despots is found to be have lied once more (as it has about everything else since the start of the European crisis). And while the mainstream media will be focused primarily on Europe in the coming days, as BCG and we have warned, the topic of "wealth taxation" is now front and center, and it stars not only Europe, but the US as well.