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Saturday, December 1, 2012

Helicopter parenting? Dad's homemade drone follows kid to bus stop

I hate helicopter parenting, but this is pretty cool.

Paul Wallich, like any loving dad, dutifully walks his grade-schooler son to the bus stop each morning. He does find the quarter-mile hike to be a drag, occasionally. His solution? He built a camera-equipped drone that helps him fulfill his parental obligation.

Do Orchestras Really Need Conductors?

Read (and listen to) the whole thing at At NPR:

A new study aims to answer this question. Yiannis Aloimonos, of the University of Maryland, and several colleagues recruited the help of orchestral players from Ferrara, Italy.

They installed a tiny infrared light at the tip of an (unnamed) conductor's baton. They also placed similar lights on the bows of the violinists in the orchestra. The scientists then surrounded the orchestra with infrared cameras.

When the conductor waved the baton, and the violinists moved their bows, the moving lights created patterns in space, which the cameras captured. Computers analyzed the infrared patterns as signals: Using mathematical techniques originally designed by Nobel Prize-winning economist Clive Granger, Aloimonos and his colleagues analyzed whether the movements of the conductor were linked to those of the violinists.

The scientists hypothesized that if the movement of the conductor could predict the movements of the violinists, then the conductor was clearly leading the players. But if the conductor's movements could not predict the movement of the violinists, then it was really the players who were in charge.

When Santa moves into your retirement community

via Presurfer.

Red State, Blue City: How the Urban-Rural Divide is Splitting America

Read the whole thing at The Atlantic

The voting data suggest that people don't make cities liberal -- cities make people liberal. Here, courtesy of Princeton's Robert Vanderbai, is an electoral map that captures the divisions:

Friday, November 30, 2012

Mark Steyn on runaway spending: did you ever think the difference between America and the cheese-eating surrender monkeys would come down to quibbling over the fine print?

Kindly Note the Impending Bankruptcy

A majority of the electorate has voted itself a size of government it’s not willing to pay for.

UK nanny state: show ID to buy microwavable pudding because you might burn yourself when it gets hot

Robert Nemeti was stunned when he was quizzed about his age as he tried to purchase a Cadbury Hot Chocolate Pudding at a self-service checkout.

The machine, in Southampton, Hampshire, told him his purchase had to be 'approved' - and a member of staff was only too eager to demand his identification proving he was over 18.

Mr Nemeti managed to cook and eat the dessert that evening for his dinner without injuring himself.

The Internet in 1969

AAA: New ethanol blend will damage vehicles and void warranties

Not news, of course, since it's been discussed for years. 

AAA, which issued its warning today, says just 12 million of more than 240 million cars, trucks and SUVs now in use have manufacturers' approval for E15. Flex-fuel vehicles, 2012 and newer General Motors vehicles, 2013 Fords and 2001 and later model Porsches are the exceptions, according to AAA, the nation's largest motorist group, with 53.5 million members.

Help Scientists by Sending Them a Stool Sample

You know you want to.

Orwell Was Wrong, Huxley Was Right


Thursday, November 29, 2012

The EPA’s War on Home Appliances

Are you disappointed in every shower head that you purchase? Does your toilet have trouble flushing? Have you noticed that your dishes are still dirty after the dishwasher cycle is completed?

If you answered yes to any of those questions, you’re not alone. Some of us may be quick to blame the manufacturer of these home appliances. But the manufacturers are just abiding by the costly regulations by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of Energy.

U.N. General Assembly votes to recognize the state of Palestine

A long-sought victory for the Palestinians but an embarrassing diplomatic defeat for the United States.

Claire Berlinski: Is the Enemy Us?

In his new book, Bruce Bawer has proposed an answer to vexing questions: Why has our culture become degraded? Why have our politics become polarized? And why has our public debate coarsened? Bawer locates the source of these misfortunes in the changes that have taken place in American higher education over the last generation—above all, the emergence of multicultural “identity studies.” The academy, he observes, is “the font of the perfidious multicultural idea and the setting in which it is implanted into the minds of American youth.”

For Winning The Nobel Prize, Niels Bohr Got A House With Free Beer


So how did Bohr keep his mind supple and flexible, ready to accept new ideas when his peers like Einstein couldn’t? Well, here’s the thing – there are several studies that indicate that being drunk can actually improve your creativity. That’s because it prevents your mind from being able to focus, so it more readily drifts from one connection to another, which can yield creative solutions to problems.

So was free beer the reason why Bohr was able to make great strides in developing quantum mechanics?

Patterico: L.A. Times Covers SWATting on Front Page

Read the whole post at his site.

Using Simon Cowell’s recent SWATting as a news peg, Chris Lee and Richard Winton have a front-page story at the L.A. Times about the phenomenon of SWATting. The story focuses on the recent rash of celebrity SWATtings in Los Angeles, rather than the politically motivated SWATtings of four people (including myself) between June 2011 and June 2012. Hey, the news biz is all about eyeballs! However, the article does mentions the SWATtings of myself and Aaron Walker.

It may not seem possible, but Yoko Ono's fashion design is even worse that her singing

More here.

Boost Your WiFi Signal Using Only a Beer Can

Simple, detailed instructions for beer-fi.

Publishers brace for authors to reclaim book rights in 2013

Read the whole thing. Here’s a plain English overview of how the law works:

The law in question is Section 203 of the 1978 Copyright Act which allows authors to cut away any contract after 35 years. Congress put it in place to protect young artists who signed away future best sellers for a pittance.

“People have had 2013 circled on their calendar for a while,” said Andrew Bart, a copyright lawyer at Jenner & Block, in a phone interview.

Termination rights are not a new idea and have been the subject of famous court cases involving John Steinbeck, Lassie and Superman. The difference is that these older cases are based on a pre-1978 law that often required an author to exercise renewal rights which, in many cases, the author had signed away.

The new law has fewer such loopholes and will also mean that what has been a drip-drip of old copyright cases could turn into a flood as nearly every book published after 1978 becomes eligible for termination.

The 1978 law also means a threat to the back list of titles that are a cash cow for many publishers. The threat is amplified as a result of new digital distribution options for authors that were never conceived when the law was passed — these new options mean authors have more leverage to walk away from their publishers altogether.

Jonah Goldberg on Egyptian pres Morsi: Egypt’s ‘Moderate’ Despot

What do you call a leader of a theocratic and cultish movement with a deep and clear disdain for democracy who suddenly assumes dictatorial powers?

A “moderate,” of course.

Missing detachable penis led to alleged assault with ironing board

Headline of the day.

Obamas taking $4 million 20 day taxpayer funded Hawaiian vacation as America plunges over fiscal cliff

Links and details at Twitchy.

Thursday links

Bowel-based biomarkers: Clues To the history of human activity.

This is Ann - she drinks blood! Dr. Seuss Does Malaria.

The greatest scientific typo in history.

2012 National Beard and Moustache Championships.

Bikinis and zombies: the making of the 2013 Walking Dead swimsuit calendar

A South African advertising agency has combined two popular genres to create a zombie swimsuit calendar.

Featuring models made up to look like "cadaverous cuties", it is part of a promotion for The Walking Dead TV show.

Christmas With a Capital "C"

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

10 things dogs hate about humans

Obviously this is for those of you who don't know how to properly communicate with your dog(s) - otherwise you'd already know all of this:

via BitsandPieces

Automated cars and Asimov's laws of robotics

When Skynet becomes active: interesting points in this article at New Yorker:

Eventually (though not yet) automated vehicles will be able to drive better, and more safely than you can; no drinking, no distraction, better reflexes, and better awareness (via networking) of other vehicles. Within two or three decades the difference between automated driving and human driving will be so great you may not be legally allowed to drive your own car, and even if you are allowed, it would be immoral of you to drive, because the risk of you hurting yourself or another person will be far greater than if you allowed a machine to do the work.

That moment will be significant not just because it will signal the end of one more human niche, but because it will signal the beginning of another: the era in which it will no longer be optional for machines to have ethical systems.

Glenn Reynolds: Are we living in the Hunger Games?

You know the story: While the provinces starve, the Capital City lives it up, its wheeler-dealer bigshots growing fat on the tribute extracted from the rest of the country.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Europe's “Erotic zoos” for animal prostitution: the bottom of the slippery slope

The law’s “enlightened” legalization of bestiality:

Bestiality was legalised in Germany in 1969, the same year that gay sex was also removed from the criminal code. After that, sex with animals was only punishable if the animal was severely injured.

via Instapundit.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Homemade, Stink Bomb-Throwing, Crossbow Slingshot

Links, videos and more information at The Blaze: The infamous Slingshot Channel’s Joerg Sprave has upgraded his homemade crossbow slingshot yet again. This time, he’s gone down the road of warfare against the sensory system.

The Semen Quality of Men With Deep Voices

Science takes on the important questions: Low Pitched Voices Are Perceived as Masculine and Attractive but Do They Predict Semen Quality in Men?

How muscular boys are as teenagers may predict how long they live

BBC: Swedish experts who tracked more than a million teenage boys for 24 years found those with low muscle strength - weaker leg and arm muscles and a limp grip - were at increased risk of early death.

If You Like the White Turkey Meat, You Are Racist

A discussion of the racism of liking white meat.

Teachers Hired Stand-Ins to Take Their Certification Tests

The hired-test takers went to testing centers, showed the proctor the fake license, and passed the certification exam, prosecutors say. Then, the aspiring teacher used the test score to secure a job with a public school district.

At least three teachers implicated in the scandal remain employed with their school district.

This morning, SCOTUS revived challenge to ObamaCare

On the grounds of religious liberty — and not just the HHS contraception mandate.  Links and discussion at HotAir.

The Real Cyberforensics Used To Snoop On Petraeus (And You)

When it comes to the vast majority of activity by Internet users, it's amazingly easy to trace fake email addresses and anonymous blogs back to their owners. Or, put another way, if the director of the CIA's undercover ops can be cracked, so can yours. Here's how.

Monday links

How Do Porcupines Mate? Very Carefully.

New Zealand tax dollars at work: people like sex more than housework.  Vaguely related: Sex Toy Sales Up In Canada Due To NHL Lockout.

Casablanca premiered 70 years ago today.

The Origin of the Word "Soccer".

Color photos from 1910.

Picture of the day

I have no information on this.

Legal pot: will cigarette companies dust off their plans for mass commercialization?

Legal Pot Is Here, But Stash The Wallet For Now.

Casablanca premiered 70 years ago today

You must remember this,
A kiss is still a kiss, a sigh is just a sigh.
The fundamental things apply
As time goes by.

And when two lovers woo,
They still say, "I love you," on that you can rely,
No matter what the future brings
As time goes by.
- Herman Hupfeld (1894-1951) ("As Time Goes By")*

Play it Sam. Play "As Time Goes By."**
- Julius J. and Philip G. Epstein, and Howard Koch (film script for Casablanca, Ilsa to Sam)

Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world, she walks into mine.
- Ibid., Rick

I'm shocked... shocked! to find that gambling is going on in here!
- Ibid., Captain Renault to Rick

Here's looking at you, kid.
- Ibid., Rick to Ilsa

We'll always have Paris.
- Ibid., Rick to Ilsa

...I've got a job to do, too. Where I'm going, you can't follow. What I've got to do, you can't be any part of. Ilsa, I'm no good at being noble, but it doesn't take much to see that the problems of three little people don't amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world. Someday you'll understand that.
- Ibid., Rick to Ilsa

Major Strasser has been shot! Round up the usual suspects.
- Ibid., Captain Renault to his police

Today is the 70th anniversary of the premiere showing of that 1942 film icon, Casablanca, at the Hollywood Theater in New York City on 26 November of that year. Based on a play, Everybody Comes to Rick's, by Murray Burnett and Joan Alison, Casablanca was produced by Hal Wallis and directed by Michael Curtiz. The cast included Humphrey Bogart (Rick), Ingrid Bergman (Ilsa), Paul Henreid (Victor Laszlo), Claude Rains (Captain Renault), and Dooley Wilson (Sam), with smaller parts by Sydney Greenstreet, Peter Lorre, and Conrad Veidt. The film was scored by Max Steiner, who also wrote the music for Gone With the Wind, and his scoring incorporates fragments of both the Marseillaise and "As Time Goes By" as recurring leitmotifs. Set early in World War II in Casablanca, Morocco - then controlled by the Vichy French government after the fall of France - the plot revolves around an expatriate American saloon keeper (Bogart) whose lost lover (Bergman) shows up in Casablanca with her husband, a celebrated Resistance fighter attempting to escape from Nazi-occupied Europe (Henreid). A German officer (Veidt) arrives to thwart this attempt, counting on the aid of the corrupt local Vichy police prefect (Rains). Ultimately, the outcome turns on Bogart and Bergman sacrificing their love for the Allied cause - which Rains ultimately joins also. With excellent characterizations, often stunning cinematography - the softening of focus on Bergman's lovely face during close-ups, for example - high melodrama, and many elements of film noir, Casablanca makes everybody's list of the two or three greatest films ever made. In the final scene, Bogart delivers the last of its great "signature" lines (to Captain Renault):

"Louie, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship."

* N.B. "As Time Goes By" was originally written for the 1931 Broadway musical Everybody's Welcome. It remains famous today largely because of its part in the film, Casablanca.

** The more familiar "Play it again, Sam." is a well-known misquotation.

Note also that an excellent article on the film is available on Wikipedia.

The "Play it Sam" scene, highlighting Bergman's luminosity:

And the very end of the film. (Note the recurring motif of the "Marseillaise"
in the background - following a whiff of "Deutschland Über Alles."):

Taken from Ed's Quotation of the Day, only available via email. If you'd like to be added to his list, leave your email address in the comments.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Must read: The E-Mail of Doom

A British father, retired from the Royal Navy, sent this to his three adult children after what must have been a very dismal evening together.

Read the whole thing. It starts: It is obvious that none of you has the faintest notion of the bitter disappointment each of you has in your own way dished out to us.

Comments and links at American Interest.