Chimp Chefs

The naked chef? Chimpanzees can ‘cook’ and prefer cooked food – study
Findings suggest chimpanzees have the intellectual abilities required for cooking, which could have an impact on our view of human evolution

Really interesting as cooking food (on purpose) is highly likely to be one of the very early steps that put our ancestors on the path to becoming human (others being speech and farming). The theory goes that if chimps have a natural tendency to so something then our ancient ancestors likely had the same tendency as well (impossible to confirm or refute lacking a time machine).

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It is all the bacteria’s fault!

Bacteria may give you Type 2 diabetes

I talk about the microbiome off and on here, this is another that shows that the impact of our ‘friends’ we carry around with us can have significant life altering impacts. Now it seems a chronic infection might directly lead to type-2 diabetes. Not clear is cause/effect: does getting fat lead to the staph infection or does the staph infection make you fat? I hope the latter, then I can get a vaccination and shed some blubber without actually having to be inconvenienced 😉

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Any sufficiently advanced…

A co-worker has one of those cute quote things added to his email signature and today’s is “Any sufficiently advanced bug is indistinguishable from a feature.”. That prompted me to Google and I found this:

Arthur C. Clarke, (Clarke’s third law)
Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.

Vernon Schryver
Any sufficiently advanced incompetence is indistinguishable from malice.

Gregory Benford, Foundations Fear, 1997
Any technology distinguishable from magic is insufficiently advanced.

Advanced Music
Any sufficiently advanced music is indistinguishable from MIDI.

Any sufficiently advanced bureaucracy is indistinguishable from molasses.

Answer to Fermi’s Paradox
Any sufficiently advanced intelligence is indistinguishable from nature.

Scott Rainey
Any sufficiently advanced cluelessness is indistinguishable from humour.

Oh, the Huge Manatee
Any sufficiently advanced parody is indistinguishable from pretention.

Rich Kulawiec
Any sufficiently advanced bug is indistinguishable from a feature.

Carson Gaspar
Any sufficiently advanced application proxy is indistinguishable from any sufficiently advanced stateful inspection engine.

Andy Finkel
Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from a rigged demo.

Cairns’s Third Law
Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from life.

Michael Shermer
Any sufficiently advanced Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence is indistinguishable from God.

Clarke’s Third Law as applied to music
Any sufficiently advanced country music is indistinguishable from rock.
Any sufficiently advanced rock music is indistinguishable from jazz
Any sufficiently advanced jazz is indistinguishable from random noise.
Any sufficiently advanced random noise is indistinguishable from Yanni.

Alan Morgan (
Any sufficiently advanced parody is indistinguishable from a genuine kook.

Throop’s Law:
Any sufficiently advanced tool can be used for something it wasn’t intended for.

Advanced content management system
Any sufficiently advanced content management system is virtually indistinguishable from a good wiki.

Any sufficiently advanced operating system is indistinguishable from Linux.

The Confusion, Neal Stephenson
“Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from a yo-yo”. Spoken by Enoch the Red

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Glow-in-the-dark pee

Next Generation: Souped-up Probiotics Pinpoint Cancer
Genetically engineered commensal bacteria help researchers detect cancer metastases in mouse livers.–Souped-up-Probiotics-Pinpoint-Cancer/

This is a cool kind of biotechnology where you can actually see changes with your own eyes. Most of the experiments I did, in school as well as a professional researcher, required some sort of visualization tool (chemical reagent, spectrophotometer, scintillation detector, etc.) so each fraction of the sample had to be analyzed. However, since this glows in the dark, all you got to do is turn out the lights and you will know what has happened.

Oh, it might also save lives also…

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Why inner city blacks are so damn angry

Two interesting articles by Matt Taibbi that explain in detail why inner city people, particularly blacks, but I am sure also Latinos and likely even whites who live in those neighborhoods, are so damn angry with the cops. The first:

A Bad Arrest, on Video
If this incident hadn’t been captured on tape, Jaleel Fields might be another black male convicted for no good reason

Is specifically about a single incident that, had it not been for video, would no doubt have been forgotten. Luckily for the plaintiff in this case, his lawyer was able to get the video and the prosecution promptly dropped the charges. Interestingly, nothing happened to the cops, where the second story gets all the more interesting:

Why Baltimore Blew Up
It wasn’t just the killing of Freddie Gray. Inside the complex legal infrastructure that encourages — and covers up — police violence

I strongly urge my reader(s) to take a look at the whole article, this excerpt is just one of many instances detailed (out of no doubt 10’s of thousands of events that happen _every year_):

Of course, where bureaucracy fails to cover things up, simple racism often steps in. Just ask Makia Smith, a 33-year-old accountant who grew up not far from where the Baltimore protests broke out. “I was on my way back from Wendy’s,” she says, recounting an incident in East Baltimore from March 2012. “My two-year-old daughter was in the back, in a car seat.”

Caught in traffic, Smith noticed a commotion, with a gang of police officers surrounding a young suspect. As she later alleged in a civil complaint, the boy was on the ground and one of the cops seemed to be getting dangerously aggressive. Concerned, Smith opened the door of her car and held up her phone as though filming the scene. “I was hoping that if they saw me,” she says, “then maybe they would stop doing what they were doing.”

Instead, she alleges, the following took place: An officer, later identified as Nathan Church, rushed at her, screaming, she says, “You want to film something, bitch? Film this!” Frightened, Smith tried to get back in her car. Church took her phone, smashed it on the ground and kicked it down the street. Then he dragged her out by her hair, at which point she momentarily blacked out. Eventually, she claims, police threw her on the hood of her Saturn, where she snapped awake and saw her two-year-old wailing in the back seat. She began to panic: If she got arrested, who would take care of the baby?

According to Smith’s complaint, police told her, in about the least reassuring manner possible, that child protective services was coming to take her daughter. It’s an example of how completely black America distrusts the police and the government that Smith chose to allow a little girl standing on the side of the road, a stranger, to take her baby for her, rather than give the child to CPS. As she was dragged off to that seemingly omnipresent paddy wagon, Smith called out her mother’s cellphone number, so that the little girl could get in touch with the baby’s grandmother.

Smith ended up in jail overnight and didn’t reunite with her daughter until 24 hours later. Playing the usual game of police-abuse chicken, authorities hit her with a list of charges, ranging from assault in the second degree against a police officer (“They say I took on four healthy male officers,” she says), to resisting, to a host of traffic offenses.

Smith, an educated young woman, did everything right after the incident, hiring a lawyer and successfully navigating the traps and land mines designed to make cases like hers go away. She never signed away her right to sue, never allowed the case to be expunged, never took a pennies-on-the-dollar deal that would have let the police off the hook.

And what happened? The police denied her allegations, claiming the arrest was legitimate, and she watched her case implode in what’s supposed to be the corruption-proof stage of the process, a trial by a jury of her “peers.”

“The cops’ defense team struck every black witness,” she says, and her case was heard by an all-white jury, which ultimately found the police innocent of misconduct.

Some of the stats are amazing:

So when O’Malley started his version of Broken Windows, he had a mandate, and it’s not surprising that Baltimore’s program was wildly aggressive. At its peak, in 2005, an incredible 108,000 of the city’s 600,000 residents were arrested.

So, that year you had nearly a 2 in 10 chance getting arrested in that area. No matter what color or socioeconomic status you are, that is enough to make you angry as hell. As detailed in the article, each arrest (many, if not the majority, are never prosecuted!) costs you several days, so a huge interruption in your life and potentially costing you your job. The wonder is these people have put up with this so long, but the rest of America is so quick to dismiss their anger and resentment you have to live there or have friends/relatives live there to even be aware of it. So sad that it took the death of people to even get the attention of the rest of the country, but I have to assume things will get worse before they get better.

Ain’t it great to be an American?!

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Binge eating = fat belly

Skipping meals could lead to fat gain, research suggests

I didn’t get ‘skipping meals leads to fat gain’ from the article, instead I saw ‘binge eating leading to a bloated belly’. I am certainly guilty of binge eating. When I prepare food I prepare as much as I think I will want to eat, then generally eat every bit of it, though if someone else prepares the meal and it is smaller, I can eat that amount and be completely happy. So far I haven’t been able to reliably ‘outsmart’ myself in this regard, though I generally eat ‘dinner’ around 3 and try to avoid eating until I go to bed (around 9).

Buffets have historically been a problem for me. I actually swore them off for years because I could never leave satisfied: either I was in agony because I had ate so much or I felt I hadn’t got my money’s worth. Only years later did I develop the mental stability to be able to have a plate (sometimes two, but often just one) of food and be satisfied with my experience. I am now able to enjoy a bit of a bunch of my favorite foods and not feel the need to stuff myself to the gills. Sadly, this attitude doesn’t carry over to holiday meals where I tend to belly up to the trough multiple times, then, once the agony has subsided, return with both trotters in.

Naturally, being human and American, it isn’t my fault. It is my parents/genes/society/bad gut microbiome/whatever else I can latch onto’s fault!

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Octopus camouflage bypasses brain, eyes

Octopuses can ‘see’ with their skin – completely bypassing their eyes and brains
The same light-sensitive pigment found in their eyes exists in their skin—5733629

This is not unexpected to me, I have seen videos of octopi moving onto something and then camouflaging themselves while apparently keeping their visual focus on the camera man. I have also seen situations where the octopus is slowly moving across a portion of the sea floor and shifting their colors as they move. Of course, they might be shifting their focus briefly and have the intellect to memorize the ground they are about to cover, but it makes more sense to me that ‘evolution’ would ‘delegate’ this task to the skin and not bother using the brain/eyes.

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Liquid metal antenna…

Team Designs Liquid Metal Antenna Twice as Powerful than a Regular One

Interesting idea. I was intrigued to note this passage: “NCSU researchers have long shown a special interest in liquid metal devices…”. I guess they just think the subject is cool and keep playing with it until they find something useful. I have to imagine that they will need someone else to take it from concept to product, an attitude like they must have to keep at this for so long indicates they lack what is necessary to productize it.

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This one took a few seconds…


I recently learned that the ‘punchline’ often required a mouse-over, give it a try…

Even after reading the mouse-over text I still had to think about it for a few more seconds (I was clueless entirely until the mouse-over), but, dammit, he is right! Why do we persist in ignoring the information science has gleaned over the years? It took decades to get their tails off the floor and hold them in the air as the counterbalance to the long neck, how long until we cloth them properly?

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Positioning is key

This is a follow on to a previous post

Over the weekend I discussed the positioning of my writing as ‘erotic romance’ with my wife. I was not sure how I felt about the sex scenes I had written or planned and wasn’t sure adding them would help or hurt any marketing efforts. My lovely wife said that back when she read what she termed as ‘suspense romance’ she recalled the sex scenes were even more explicit than what I had written, and as such didn’t see that what I had written so far actually applied to the ‘erotic’ label. As a consequence I did some more research on the distinction between romance and erotic romance. The general consensus seems to be that in erotic romance the sex is largely no-strings-attached and/or deviates from pure pair-wise heterosexual whereas plain romance the sex is about love and is pure pair-wise heterosexual. There also appears to be a bit of a distinction based on word choice, meaning more graphical descriptions of ‘parts’ leans toward erotic while less graphical is romance. Based on that ‘definition’, such that it is, I am still not totally clear on my work. My intent is to evolve the sex between my characters into love (part of the story is about how they need help to even realize they have fallen in love with one another) but that process is aided and abetted by a third party (woman) who also happens to wind up in love with both of the other characters, hence not pure pair-wise heterosexual. Since I wrote what I have so far as less graphical and was planning on continuing that theme, intend for there to be ‘forever after’ love at the end (complexified a bit because it is a three-way instead of pair) I think I will strip out the ‘erotic’ label and stick with just the ‘romance’ bit. These distinctions matter because they influence how any work gets positioned/marketed. If you position wrong you are spending resources targeting a population that isn’t going to be satisfied with your product (this is as true in erotic romance thrillers as it is in such things as bicycles, rocket ships and nuclear power plants). Consequently, if my sex scenes are not hot enough for the erotic market, I am deemed a failure and there is bad word-of-mouth hurting sales. Conversely, if my sex is deemed inappropriate for the romance-only crowd they are also dissatisfied and there is poor word-of-mouth. AFter all that analysis, I am thinking now of dropping the ‘erotic’ moniker as I think I am better off without it. Of course, all my efforts to categorize things may be moot if I go with a traditional publisher, but it will no doubt be a factor if I do decide to try and find one as I would be targeting romance publishers (as opposed to erotic-focused publishers).

Though I haven’t had time to actually do anything, there is also an element of analysis paralysis regarding putting my writing on the web. Initially I planned on a simple password protected site run over HTTPS and any feedback needed to come via email on the part of the reader. However, I immediately started to get into more elaborate designs: first having a link on each paragraph (I was thinking each sentence, but believe I have talked myself out of that) that would pop up a new browser window that would take the reader to a comment section where they could provide feedback without having to create a separate email. That then mutated to carrying over the relevant text so they didn’t have to refer back to the previous window which then immediately lead to storing the content and responses in a database which naturally lead to showing the reader any previous comments which of course lead to some sort of diff mechanism so readers coming back after I have made changes can easily see what is new/different. So, I have gone from maybe two hours of work to weeks-long development of a full-blown application and I have yet to set fingers on keyboard (well, regarding this issue). This aspect of my design process is fairly normal, I don’t like to tie myself down too soon during design, sometimes the best ideas sound crazy at the start (of course, most of them really are crazy, got to sift through a lot of gravel to find the occasional nugget!). What has given me some slight pause in simply discarding the elaborate idea and going back to simplicity (though perhaps retaining the pop-up window for adding comments (though without carrying the selected text along)) is that the couple of places I have looked at regarding critiquing authors on-line have been terrible. All text based, showing their deep roots back to their listserv beginning and basically a huge pain in the ass. While I don’t think there is much money in something like this, it does appear to be something needed. Still, again, I haven’t put the needed time/effort into the retro game and I think there is money it that; why should I think I will do something for free? Also, I started writing stories because I couldn’t make the effort to program the game, so now I am going to make time to program that isn’t the game? I think I have just talked myself into going back to the simple version, perhaps with the small add-on to skip the need for email.

So much analysis, so little accomplished!

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