Squirrels Read `American Dad`
Here's an animation I made of some crazed squirrels reciting quotes from the TV show American Dad.[read on...]
Yes, I know. I was procrastinating something.
Chalk Horse at Pewsey
Came across this on Google Earth and I think it's magnificent :-) Grid location 51 22' 20'' north, 1 50' 53'' west. Next time I'm in England, I'm going to organise some friends to have a picnic here.[read on...]
It's name is the Alton Barnes White Horse. It was designed in 1812 by one 'Jack the Painter' who had been commissioned by the landowner of Alton Barnes Manor Farm. At Winter Solstice the Wiltshire Crop Circle Study Group light it with candles.
The circular dimply thing is a burial mound, ancient Celts built them on hilltops all over the south of England to honor chieftans and legendary badminton players. Or it might be something else, but that'd be less romantic.
More about the horse
Google Maps Link
Update: more horses
New Devizes Horse
Broad Hinton/Hackpen/Winterbourne Bassett
The Broad Town White Horse
Folkestone white horse, Kent
Bubonic plague case in LA
From the Associated press:
LOS ANGELES, California -- A woman is in stable condition with bubonic plague, the first confirmed human case in Los Angeles County since 1984, health officials said Tuesday.
Los Angeles had the Black Death in 1984? I had no idea that diease still existed, I assumed it had gone the way of smallpox. Huh. In a related note, Alderney is reportedly the only place in Europe where one can still find plague rats - they were outcompeted by Rattus norvegicus and almost all populations in temperate latitudes have died out.
So.. we have a new item for 'Things to do in LA:', contract plague. Life is funny.
Microsoft, Yahoo, potatoes and the NSA
According to CNN (article link), Microsoft and Yahoo are planning on building data storage centres outside of Quincy, Washington. By all accounts a charming little town with a potato based economy.
Quincy has cheap land, cheap hydroelectric power and nice industrial parks to build data centres in. There's easy access by highway 90 to nearby Ginko Petrified Forest State park, and - oh yes - the Yakima NSA facility.
Observe: une carte (google maps)
Aah, nothing says 'we value or customers privacy' quite like building gaint private data storage centres near to a giant govt data mining centre. What will Yahoo and M$ store in these centres? They're not saying:
'My understanding is their objective is to increase their capacity for the Internet, search engines,' Snead said. 'All I know is there's a lot of computers.'
Still unknown is whether those computers will hold consumer information, miles of code or backups for data stored on servers elsewhere. Gellos declined to provide further details, saying company officials were still finishing plans for the site.
Probably this is all just coincidence. We all know that big corporations don't help the NSA monitor internet traffic and VOIP calls like AT&T did, and the government's not even all that interested in online search engines. It's not like the Feds would sue Google for search data.
There's likely nothing to it. There's plenty of other stuff between Yakima and Quincy (rocks, bigger rocks, a road) so both the NSA and the search engines have good, independent reasons to build there. Unless... maybe, just maybe, something more sinister is afoot.
What if the NSA, using the combined research muscle of both Yahoo and Microsoft were developing a supercomputer. ... (dramatic pause) ... A supercomputer that ... (another dramatic pause) ... runs on potatoes! If that's the case then God help us. God help us all.
Dictionary of Sex Terms
Goofy press has a brilliant, exhaustive dictionary of sexual terms. I'd have thought that being a barman and regular citizen of the net I'd have heard every sexual euphamism there was. I'd be wrong.
CHICKEN OF THE SEA
a young gay sailor.
term that nude sunbathers sometimes use for a person who wears a bathing suit; see 'textile.'
businesses where the bosses are men and the secretaries (oops! administrative assistants) are women.
term for an undesirable male who is trying to make a move on you; from a character in the movie sixteen candles, 'Oh crap, it's farmer ted'.
someone who looks hot from across the room, but starts looking less attractive with each approaching step.
manliest lion to ever live in captivity; once had intercourse more than 160 times in less than three days. died shortly thereafter.
place where there's lots of gay sex going on.
person who believes that she can turn a loser into a winner.
Rusting Trawlers off Guinea
Greenpeace.org has an article on their blog about a flotilla of decaying chinese trawlers rusting off the coast of West Africa. The boats are floating wrecks with the crews stranded on board, sometimes for years, with those that still run being used for illegal fishing.[read on...]
The article focuses more on the crews and the companies responsible. Though the situation's tragic, I think the wrecks are just beautiful. I would love to go take pictures of these things. The color and textures are amazing.
Bigass Antarctic Iceberg
According to the NOAA this morning, a huge great chunk of ice has broken off the Fimbul Ice Sheet in Queen Maud Land. I know it sounds like I'm making these names up, but no: there is a place called Queen Maud Land. The souls of evil chidren spend dark, sunless winters there molesting the penguins.
It's a disturbing reminder of Kim Stanley Robinson's Mars series, when sea levels suddenly rise because an ice sheet breaks off Antarctica due (perhaps) to global warming, drifts into warmer water and melts.
(picture coutesy of the DMSC, click to enlarge)
Currently, D-16, which measures 15 nautical miles on its longest axis and 8 nautical miles on its widest axis, is located 69 22’ 48” South and 0 12’ 0” East.[read on...]
Iceberg names are derived from the Antarctic quadrant where they are first sighted. When they are first observed, the National Ice Center documents an iceberg's point of origin. The iceberg is assigned the letter of the quadrant, along with the sequential number.
Life of Satisfaction Expectation Ratio
Today on the Daily Show, Demitri Martin's Trendspotting looks at life coaches, what they do and whether you need one. At the end of the show he shares with us the only available tool to help you decide if life coaching is right for you, the Life Of Satisfaction Expectation index.[read on...]
You can calcualte yours now using this form.
''You just take the age you were when you moved out of your parents house, multiply by the age at which you lost your virginity, plus the square root of your monthly income, divided by the number of cats you have plus one''
12 Arguments Against Gay Marriage
From TruthCantSaveU's LiveJournal:[read on...]
Twelve Reasons Gays Should Not Be Allowed to Get Married
1. Homosexuality is not natural, much like eyeglasses, polyester, and birth control.
2. Heterosexual marriages are valid because they produce children. Infertile couples and old people can't legally get married because the world needs more children.
3. Obviously, gay parents will raise gay children, since straight parents only raise straight children.
4. Straight marriage will be less meaningful if Gay marriage is allowed, since Britney Spears' 55-hour just-for-fun marriage was meaningful.
5. Heterosexual marriage has been around a long time and hasn't changed at all; women are property, blacks can't marry whites, and divorce is illegal.
6. Gay marriage should be decided by people, not the courts, because the majority-elected legislatures, not courts, have historically protected the rights of the minorities.
7. Gay marriage is not supported by religion. In a theocracy like ours, the values of one religion are imposed on the entire country. That's why we have only one religion in America.
8. Gay marriage will encourage people to be gay, in the same way that hanging around tall people will make you tall.
9. Legalizing gay marriage will open the door to all kinds of crazy behavior. People may even wish to marry their pets because a dog has legal standing and can sign a marriage contract.
10. Children can never succeed without a male and a female role model at home. That's why single parents are forbidden to raise children.
11. Gay marriage will change the foundation of society. Heterosexual marriage has been around for a long time, and we could never adapt to new social norms because we haven't adapted to things like cars or a longer lifespan.
12. Civil unions, providing most of the same benefits as marriage with a different name are better, because a ''separate but equal'' institution is always constitutional. Separate schools for African-Americans worked just as well as separate marriages for gays and lesbians will.
Growers IP Review
The Councillor of the Exchequer has commanded a treasury-level review of the complicated mess that is the UK's intellectual property law, and you're invited to contribute. The Open Rights Group was asked to participate and have issued a call for evidence. If you have any war stories highlighting the failure of current system, please send them in.[read on...]
neworder.box.sk's EyeScream has an excellent article about hacking. If you want to learn more about it NewOrder is a good place to get rid of the media/teenager image of what a hacker is and read a thing or two about creative use of computers.
You wanna know what a *hacker* is?
Switch off your TV. I know its hard. Its been nurturing you since childhood, taught you right from wrong and all the rest, huh?
Now I know the TV told you that a *hacker* is the cyber bogeyman, an evil genius that sleeps with his eyes open in front of his computer just waiting for YOU to turn on your computer and then WHAM! steal all that is precious to YOU and destroy the rest. He may even sell some of the things he got from you – the TV hadn’t decided yet. You’ve also heard the stories about those little boys and girls that went playing in the Dark Codewoods without their friend McAfee…
What if I told you that the TV is WRONG?
Are you alright? You look kinda pale and sweaty, do you want me to bring you your inhaler?
No, then I’ll continue.
There have been hackers since the dawn of civilization. Yes, I know there weren’t any computers at that time, but who said that hacking is to do with computers exclusively… I told you to switch off that TV didn’t I!
The term *hacker* was first coined at MIT in the 50s. As we nowadays use the term *cool* to describe something or someone, the term hacker was at that time designed to describe a person who enjoyed playing with things (computers being one of them), by taking them apart, learning as much as possible about their inner workings, making original modifications and thus improving their performance or even coming up with different purposes for use altogether. The mentality behind all of this was good ol’ fashioned … *fun*. The hackers *enjoyed* thinking about new applications for existing tools. For them it was a *game* that never stopped and could be applied to anything be it an object or a hole field of art such as Physics, Computers, Mechanics or Literature. Thus this universally applicable activity became known as *hacking*.
So how come the TV says…?
Back in the 80s young teenagers who were fascinated by computers discovered that there is another world out there, one you couldn’t really see or touch but which was populating fast with like-minded people. In this world you could meet others through Bulletin Board Systems (BBS) even if they lived thousands of miles away. It was all very exciting...
Fun Timewasters: Google Video
Jazzz says:[read on...]
Bush and Blair: Read My Lips
Holy Crap! (Colin Vincent are you watching)
Carlsberg Ad, Carmina Burana
Have you got a WKD side?
M$ Redesigned iPod Package
US Declaration of Independence Wallpaper
My current wallaper, a scanned section from the US Declaration of Independence. [click to enlarge]. I'm no apologist for the Bush administration (or Republicans on general), but I do admire the principles on which the country was founded and I'm a big fan of the US Constitution. Now if only more Americans would read it...
Scan is from the US National Archives website.
Kickass little video clip and narration of a tropical bird doing a mating dance that involves moonwalking. Michael Jackson soundtrack. Enjoy. Link.
Shout to Jazzz for sending this in.
Gratuitous Monkey Photo
When the British first began to explore Africa, young monkeys were often captured and taken back on board the ship to entertain sailors. Some were later kept in zoos, many modern captive monkeys in the UK are descended from such Victorian era monkeys. In the Napoleonic Wars, the same practice is thought to have occurred. It is rumoured that one such monkey washed up ashore and, being mistaken for a Frenchman, was hanged in Hartlepool, England this caused the people of Hartlepool to be nicknamed the monkey hangers.
So there. Dont say I neva learned u nuthing. Wikipedia Link[read on...]
How do Porcupines Make Love
If I was a horny porcupine.... I guess I could invent some pretty tall tails about how two balls of poisonous spines go about making naughty ju-ju without painful damage occuring. I know know that if I was going to have sex with a porcupine... OK lets stop that train of thought. The reality turns out to be wierder anyway:
When the male encountered the female porcupine he smelled her all over, then reared up on his hind legs, his penis fully erect. If the female was not ready she ran away. If she is prepared for mating she also reared up and faced the male, belly-to-belly. In this position most males then sprayed the female with a strong stream of urine (In one case, urine was measured on the lab floor 6 foot 7 inches from the point of discharge), soaking her from head to foot. (Johnnie, a young male, would charge the female from this position, trying to wrestle her to the ground and make sexual contact ventrally. He was never successful.)
Read the whole story.[read on...]
Vintage WW2 Tampon Ads
Duke University Library has an awesome collection of newspaper ads from the early 20th century. Not only are they an old-timey reminder of the culture that defeated the Nazis and gave us Daffy Duck, you can learn about tampons as well. Yay!
Seems like the wikipedia's having a problem. Just when I was gearing up to do some scraping... bummer.[read on...]
In lighter news, the classic search engine Altavista was recently hacked. I visited night before last and their portal page had been blanked and replaced with a single heading 'do you yahoo?'.
This is genius. Unmitigated freaking genius. Mad props to whoever this is.[read on...]
Google based thesaurus
I was thinking today about language and grammar recognition by machines, as used for auto-translating, document rewriting, etc. I need a thesaurus of phrases for rewriting documents. I'm trying work out how a bot could compile one and it occurs to me that google has a huge database of English text from which to derive rules.[read on...]
Suppose you were to search for ''A banana is a'' (with the double quotes). Taking only the sentences which begin with that phrase. Google returns results containing:
a banana is a banana
a banana is a fruit
a banana is a tropical herbaceous plant
a banana is a good source of water
a banana is a tropical fruit
a banana is a phallic symbol
a banana is a monoecious plant
a banana is a healthy snack
If a bot trims out the rest of the sentences then this can be used to create relationships between nouns.
banana --> fruit
banana --> phallic symbol
If this is done for other nouns we might get:
apple --> fruit
apple --> computer
So having done this for a bunch of words we can make a list of things 'which are' fruit. So far we've got 'apple' and banana', and we can do some text substitutions. 'she was eating a banana' can be substituted with 'she was eating a fruit'. If we substitute 'she was eating a phallic symbol' it's still gramatically correct (and sounds kinda sexy) but we've lost the meaning of the original phrase. Which is no good if we're rewriting document that humans will read. So how's a computer going to know which is the better substitution?
It's a tough. My best answer at the moment is to have the bot see what humans use more often, ie, Google both terms and see which comes up more often.
'she was eating a fruit' => 95
'she was eating a phallic symbol' => 0
'she was eating a snack' => 164
'she was eating a monoecious plant' => 0
Now we have a score for each substituion. To make a general case for each word (so as not to have to search each time, and because many phrases will not exist at all) we could search nouns against verbs for proximity and the number of Google matches will be the score for how appropriate they are to each other.
''eat * banana'' OR ''banana * eat'' => 142,000
''eat * snack'' OR ''snack * eat'' => 269,000
We can also test verb substitutions from a regular thesaurus this way. For example Roget's lists nosh, chow and masticate as alternatives to 'eat'.
'eat * banana' => 124,000
'nosh * banana' => 13
'chow * banana' => 303
'masticate * banana' => 4
So 'chow' is the most likely substitute for 'eat' out of these three (personally I prefer masticate) but it's not a very common switch. If chow and eat had simmilar scores (say within 66% of each other) then that would likely be a better substitution.
Ultimately I'd like to be able to make a bot rewrite text into infinite permutations retainging the original English (human) meaning as well as some of its nuance.
I'm sure it's possible, I'm not sure how. Try 'He attended MIT to study' (remove object from sentence). Googling for 'He * MIT to study' gives:
he was at MIT to study
he was accepted at MIT to study
he came to MIT to study
he entered MIT to study
As well as a buch of bad substitutions, most of which can be filtered out by context. 'he returned to MIT to study' would be harder for a machine to spot as a bad substitution because it changes the meaning.
Thinking.... thinking.... thinking....
Any thoughts or ideas, email me!
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