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Saturday, April 26, 2014

Excellent Big Government as Godzilla cartoon

via Legal Insurrection:

This is fascinating: 25 years later, deer on the Czech/German still avoid the Iron Curtain

The deer who don't know the Cold War is over: animals still fear crossing the electric fences of the Iron Curtain (wiki) 25 years after they were switched off.
  • Seven-year study found red deer on Czech-German border do not cross electrified fence dividing West from communist world taken down in 1991
  • None of current deer population were alive when the barrier was up
  • Czech and German biologists predict behavior will last for generations
The Iron Curtain fell 25 years ago, but it seems that nobody told the deer.

A new study has found that a quarter of a century on, red deer on the border between the Czech Republic and old West Germany still do not cross the divide.

The red deer were tracked via GPS-equipped
 collars that sent data to computers
After tracking 300 deer, researchers said the animals are intent on maintaining the old boundaries.

One of the scientists involved told the BBC the deer are not ideological, "they are just very conservative in their habits."

During the Cold War, electric fences made the Czech-German boundary impossible to pass.

Czechoslovakia, where the Communists took power in 1948, had three parallel electrified fences, patrolled by heavily armed guards.

Nearly 500 people were killed when they attempted to escape. 

This reconstruction in the Sumava National Park
 in the Czech Republic shows the 
Iron Curtain's electrified fence
The researchers followed the movement of the 300 Czech and German deer via GPS-equipped collars, which sent data to computers.

Biologist Pavel Sustr, who led the seven-year project: "It was fascinating to realise for the first time that anything like that is possible," Mr Sustr said. "But the border still plays a role for them and separates the two populations."

He said that was remarkable because the average life expectancy for deer is 15 years and none living now would have encountered the barrier.

Scientists believe that fawns tend to follow mothers for the first year of their lives and develop a pattern in their movements, so the same area remains the habitat for each new generation.

From Daily Mail and BBC, via Tyler Cohen, who refers to the deer's status quo bias:

Status quo bias is a cognitive bias; a preference for the current state of affairs. The current baseline (or status quo) is taken as a reference point, and any change from that baseline is perceived as a loss. Status quo bias should be distinguished from a rational preference for the status quo ante, as when the current state of affairs is objectively superior to the available alternatives, or when imperfect information is a significant problem. A large body of evidence, however, shows that status quo bias frequently affects human decision-making.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Flush the lights on with your new hydro-electric toilet

Researchers in South Korea have devised a way to harness the motion of water, including from raindrops or from a flushing toilet, as a sustainable energy source.

Devices that renewably generate electricity in an uncomplicated manner are in demand. Now, Youn Sang Kim and his team at Seoul National University and Korea Electronics Technology Institute (KETI) have adapted a transducer to convert the mechanical energy from water motion into electrical energy.

When dielectric materials are in water, an electrical double layer forms around the outside of the material. Variations between water and a poly (4 vinyl phenol) dielectric layer were shown to induce electric charges at an electrode. The team demonstrated that in such a system the motion from a 30μl water droplet generated enough electricity to power a green LED. 

‘We hope our work can be applied to everyday life,’ says Kim. This is a realistic possibility as the electrodes are flexible and transparent so could coat windows, roofs and even toilet bowls, to generate electricity from raindrops and water flow.

‘The researchers have taken advantage of the contact electrification between a polymer and water droplets in motion to design a simple energy harvester,’ says Andreas Menzel, who develops semiconducting nanodevices at the University of Freiburg in Germany. ‘There is plenty of water motion like rain, sea waves or wastewater, in our environment where these kinds of power generators can find application.’

The team are working on determining the charging mechanism and the detailed operation of their water motion active transducer. Furthermore, they are hoping to enhance the output conversion power of the device.

Friday links

Panic in Nigerian town after chicken suddenly started speaking in Arabic.

It's Oliver Cromwell's birthday - here's his speech throwing out the corrupt Parliament, with bonus Monty Python.

Haagen-Dazs Launches Tomato and Carrot-Flavored Ice Cream in Japan.

That Time Cleveland Released 1.5 Million Balloons and Chaos Ensued.

Some rather astonishing Real Size Visual Comparisons.

News you can use: how to drink all night without getting drunk.

Pictures of 200 Calories of Various Foods.

ICYMI, Thursday's links are here, and include H.G. Wells' interview of Stalin, the 1976 Spider-man/Planned Parenthood comic, and a calculation of how fast you would have to drive for rain to shatter your windshield.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

ICYMI, this video of kids reacting to a Sony Walkman is a hoot

Spanish American War: On this day in 1898, Spain declared was against the US

This certainly echoes today (emphasis mine):

The guns that thundered off Manila and Santiago left us echoes of glory, but they also left us a legacy of duty. If we drove out a medieval tyranny only to make room for savage anarchy we had better not have begun the task at all. It is worse than idle to say that we have no duty to perform, and can leave to their fates the islands we have conquered. Such a course would be the course of infamy. It would be followed at once by utter chaos in the wretched islands themselves. Some stronger manlier power would have to step in and do the work, and we would have shown ourselves weaklings, unable to carry to successful completion the labors that great and high-spirited nations are eager to undertake.
~Theodore Roosevelt (1858-1919) (quoted in DiNunzio, ed., Theodore Roosevelt, An American Mind)

It has been a splendid little war; begun with the highest motives, carried on with magnificent intelligence and spirit, favored by that fortune which loves the brave. 
~John Hay (1838-1905)*(of the Spanish-American War, letter to Theodore Roosevelt, 1898)

The Spanish-American war was not a great war. A large number of our troops took the hazard of watermelons in Georgia and Florida, and fought the malaria and mosquitoes, but very few Spanish... The Spanish-American War yielded comparatively little in heroics [but] paid the most marvelous dividends in politics and in magazine articles of any war in the history of the country. 
~James L. Slayden (1853-1924) (to the House of Representatives, 1906) 

An hour or two at Manila, an hour or two at Santiago, and the maps of the world were changed. 
~Rear Admiral A. S. Barker, USN (1843-1916) (attributed) 

Today is the 116th anniversary of Spain's declaration of war against the United States in 1898, marking the formal beginning of the Spanish-American War (wiki). Motivated in part by sympathy for the Cuban rebellion against Spanish rule, outraged by the sinking of the battleship Maine at Havana in February (wrongly attributed to Spanish sabotage), and with the "yellow press" inflaming public opinion, the United States openly supported the Cuban rebels and demanded Spanish withdrawal from Cuba. Spain's declaration of war soon followed. After decisive American naval victories at Manila Bay (in the Philippines) and at Santiago de Cuba, along with heavy ground fighting in Cuba itself, Spain was quickly defeated and in the ensuing Treaty of Paris in December, Cuba was freed (under U.S. tutelage), and the Philippines, Puerto Rico, and Guam were ceded to the United States, making it an international power for the first time. President William McKinley (1843-1901) would later remark of the American gains, 
"The mission of the United States is one of benevolent assimilation."
* N.B. John Hay served as one of President Lincoln's private secretaries during the Civil War and was later Secretary of State under Presidents McKinley and Theodore Roosevelt. 

Commodore George Dewey at the battle of Manila Bay:

"You may fire when ready, Gridley... I'm going down to the barbette where the armor's thicker." 

Real Size Visual Comparisons That Will Make Your Head Explode

Well, maybe not make your head explode but a bunch of them are very cool. There are 38 of these at Cracked, in some sort of order they've chosen - I've copied a few below, out of order. Their intro:
When someone tells you that an ant can lift a million times its body weight [citation needed], it's easy to just go, "Well, yeah." But it's when you put a visual comparison to that fact that you realize just how truly mind-blowing it really is. We asked you to show us the craziest comparisons out there. 

A couple more from Odd Stuff Magazine:

Arnold Schwarzenegger, height – 188 cm

Arnold Schwarzenegger next to Andre the Giant (French wrestler and actor, 224 cm) and Wilt Chamberlain (American basketball player, 216 cm)

Godzilla: The Art of Destruction - new art book from the about-to-be-released Godzilla movie

Godzilla: The Art of Destruction is being published in conjunction with the release of the film (book release is May 13, film is May 16):
This visually stunning book will delve into the making of the movie and showcase its incredible production art. Presenting an extraordinary new vision for the beloved character through a dynamic selection of concept illustrations, sketches, storyboards, and other preproduction materials, Godzilla: The Art of Destruction will be the definitive book on one of the most anticipated films of 2014. Also featuring interviews with the director and key crew and cast members, the book will tell the complete story of the making of Godzilla from concept to final frames.

Images Reprinted from Godzilla: The Art of Destruction by Mark Cotta Vaz, published by Insight Editions. TM & © Toho Co., Ltd. © Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.

Images via io9, which has more information. Also, from one of the commenters at the io9 post, some old-school Godzilla artwork:

Previously: Unleash the Heisenberg! (he's healed and his hair has grown back) - in this new trailer, Godzilla has really pissed off Bryan Cranston.  Watch full screen.

Previous posts:

Thursday links

Sonar-Generated Image of a 19th Century Shipwreck Near the Golden Gate Bridge.

People with low blood sugar stick twice as many pins into voodoo dolls representing their spouses. 

H.G. Wells Interviews Joseph Stalin in 1934; Declares “I Am More to The Left Than You, Mr. Stalin”.

At what speed would you have to drive for rain to shatter your windshield?

This 1976 Planned Parenthood/Amazing Spider-Man mashup comic is a hoot.

This Guy Is Trying to Collect Every Single Copy of the Movie Speed on VHS.

ICYMI, Monday's links are here, including dog grooming fails, vintage video beauty tutorials, and scientific permission to drink a bottle of wine per day.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

People with low blood sugar stick twice as many pins into voodoo dolls representing their spouses

Sounds like a chocolate deficiency to me.

A quick candy bar may stave off more than hunger. It could prevent major fights between husbands and wives, at least if a new study that used voodoo dolls is right.

That's because low blood sugar can make spouses touchy, researchers propose. In fact, it can make them "hangry," a combination of hungry and angry.

Brad Bushman, slightly famous as the author of Beauty is in the eye of the beer holder: People who think they are drunk also think they are attractive*, has published a new study entitled Low glucose relates to greater aggression in married couples, by Brad J. Bushman, C. Nathan DeWall, Richard S. Pond, Jr., and Michael Hanus, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, epub April 2014.  The authors explain: 
“Intimate partner violence affects millions of people globally. One possible contributing factor is poor self-control. Self-control requires energy, part of which is provided by glucose. For 21 days, glucose levels were measured in 107 married couples. To measure aggressive impulses, each evening participants stuck between 0 and 51 pins into a voodoo doll that represented their spouse, depending how angry they were with their spouse. To measure aggression, participants competed against their spouse on a 25- trial task in which the winner blasted the loser with loud noise through headphones. As expected, the lower the level of glucose in the blood, the greater number of pins participants stuck into the voodoo doll, and the higher intensity and longer duration of noise participants set for their spouse.” 
The researchers studied 107 married couples for three weeks. Each night, they measured their levels of the blood sugar glucose and asked each participant to stick pins in a voodoo doll representing his or her spouse. That indicated levels of aggression.

The researchers found that the lower the blood sugar levels, the more pins were pushed into the doll. In fact, people with the lowest scores pushed in twice as many pins as those with the highest blood sugar levels.

After the 21 days, the couples then took part in a lab experiment in which they competed with their spouse in a computer game - they had to see who could press a button fastest when a target square turned red.

The winner of each of the 25 trials was once again given an opportunity to express their aggression towards their partner.

This time, they were allowed to blast the losing spouse with up to 5 seconds of an extremely unpleasant noise up to 105 decibels loud. The noise was the combined sound of a smoke alarm, dentist's drill and fingernails scratching down a blackboard.

The researchers found people's average glucose level - calculated from the 21-day study - had an influence on what happened.

"People with low glucose gave their spouse louder and longer noise blasts," says Bushman.

He says the study controlled for relationship quality.

The study procedure also raised [an unusual] problem. Bushman had to handle a call from his credit card company, which wanted to make sure it was really he who had spent $5,000 to buy more than 200 voodoo dolls.

via  More here, here and here.

*SciAm article: Beauty is in the eye of the beer-holder

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

I need this! Drone chases animals from garden, returns to its base to recharge

Wired has an article on garden tech which includes this excellent idea for those (like moi) plagued by deer (and/or whatever) eating their way through the garden. 

Unfortunately it appears to be only a prototype from 2012 - it's not clear whether it went further than that, but you can buy the drone and modify it yourself, if you have the skill:
It's a Parrot AR. Drone ($300) linked to infrared motion detectors and a computer-vision nav system on an Arduino microcontroller board. When invaders trip the detectors, the drone executes a defensive pattern, then returns to its base to recharge. DIY instructions at

Monday, April 21, 2014

Video: Rhett & Link's "It's My Belly Button" (which is now totally stuck in my head)

Just posted today:

They have a bunch of things that I love, but I think my favorite still has to be Rub Some Bacon On It:

The Fast Food Folk Song is up there, too:

And the worlds weirdest commercial for transmission service:

Here's a list of their videos in order of popularity - explore!

Check out the 1976 Spider-Man Planned Parenthood special issue

In 1976, Stan Lee presented a special Planned Parenthood edition of The Amazing Spider-Man, in which your friendly neighborhood webslinger battled the Prodigy, an evil alien from the planet Intellectia who planned to brainwash teenagers into having babies “left and right,” so he can harvest their offspring as child slave labor for his home planet:
“In a plot to gain a large crop of new child laborers for his home planet, The Prodigy, an alien in human disguise, attempts to convince teenagers to have unprotected sex. Using his power of vocal persuasion, which will convince teenagers to listen to his every command, the Prodigy denounces information about the risks and consequences of teen pregnancy and venereal disease.  Spider-Man steps in before the Prodigy's teenage victims can fall for his ploy, and stops The Prodigy from speaking by shooting webbing down his throat.”
The cover, and some of the panels:

Check out the platform shoes:

Marvel wiki has some information on the issue.

Related, sort of: The other Captain America movie - this 1973 Turkish version in which he teams up with a masked Mexican wrestler and fights evil Spider-man.

Monday links

British Pathé, the U.K. newsreel archive company, has uploaded its entire 100-year collection of 85,000 historic films in high resolution to YouTube.

Go Ahead And Drink A Bottle Of Wine A Day, Says Alcohol Scientist.  Hey, it's science!

21 Dogs Whose Groomers Took Things A Little Too Far

Tomorrow, April 22, is Earth Day; here's the co-founder who killed then composted his girlfriend.

Excellent set of charts and graphs that illustrate some of the basic painful truths of everyday life in the Western world.

9 Vintage Video Beauty Tutorials.

ICYMI, Friday's links are here, including the 1973 Turkish Captain America movie in which he fights evil Spider-man, a Rube-Goldberg-esque wine bottle opener and pourer, and an excellent photoessay: Victorian Prudes and their Bizarre Beachside Bathing Machines.

Go Ahead And Drink A Bottle Of Wine A Day, Says Alcohol Scientist

Dr. Poikolainen, who has examined decades of research into the effects of alcohol, has written a book about the positive health impact. He was previously Research Director at the Finnish Foundation for Alcohol Studies, with a focus on the causes and consequences of alcohol intake.

Bacchus, God of Wine, 
Intoxication, and Ecstacy
He believes drinking only becomes harmful when people consume more than around 13 units a day—most bottles of wine contain 10. "The weight of the evidence shows moderate drinking is better than abstaining and heavy drinking is worse than abstaining - however the moderate amounts can be higher than the guidelines say," he said, according to the Daily Mail.

via Gothamist - they include links to several previous stories on related topics:
Previously in scientific reports on alcohol consumption: drinking alcohol will make you less tired, although it will also destroy your memories, and it's really cool with kids and people who like to have sex, although it may give you cancer, or at least ruin your dancing abilities, but hey, you might live forever if you don't die first.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Infographic - Easter Eggs: Hidden Gems Of The Internet

The other kind of Easter Egg -  an intentional inside joke, hidden message, or feature in a work such as a computer program.