New species found: cave dwellers isolated for millions of years

Scientists in Israel have discovered eight new species of sightless critters living in a cave that has been closed from the rest of the world. Unfortunately, they look more like scorpions than Sanrio characters.
He said the cave's ecosystem probably dates back around five million years when the Mediterranean Sea covered parts of Israel.

The cave was completely sealed off from the world, including from water and nutrients seeping through rock crevices above. Scientists who discovered the cave believe it has been intact for millions of years.


Reader comment: Robert Pugsley says: Those sightless critters found in a cave look really like some sightless critters living in a cave in Lanzarote called Munidopsis polymorpha.

There's a picture of them here. They've even built a sculpture of one. Read the rest

Red Hat ships open source MySpace++ clone

Red Hat has developed a new MySpace like site called Mugshot -- but it's open source. I saw a short demo of Mugshot this morning at the Red Hat Summit in Nashville and it was pretty hot; they nicked the best stuff out of all the social networking sites and put them together in an open codebase.

The Mugshot client application is built with a special cross-platform code library developed in C with GLib and GObject. For network communication, Mugshot uses the open XMPP protocol also used by Jabber and Google Talk. The current version of Mugshot is built with Loudmouth, a GLib-based XMPP implementation developed by Imendio. The Linux version of the Mugshot client user interface is built with GTK and uses GConf for storing configuration data, which means it is closely aligned with the GNOME desktop environment. The Linux version uses D-Bus for interprocess communication, and will provide Firefox integration.


(Thanks, Segphault!) Read the rest

Unusual flavors of ice cream in Japan

At my local ice creamery, I was somewhat shocked that they had avocado ice cream as a special flavor on the menu. (I was more shocked when my niece ordered a scoop and loved it!) That's nothing compared to the flavors available in Japan. Today's Mainichi Daily News features a delightful photo gallery called "The Wackiest World of Japanese Ice Cream." Seen here is soy sauce ice cream. The photos were taken at the Cup Ice Museum in Ice Cream City at Namjatown theme park. Link (Thanks, Paul Saffo!) Read the rest

Anti-publishing-scam site shut down by "agent" - needs help!

A site that tracked scam artists running predatory self-publishing outfits has been shut down following a complaint to its ISP.

Absolute Write is one of the leading sites for information on publishing, including scam-debunking, and it did a very good job, too. Then Barbara Bauer, an "agent" whom the site had criticized, called up the site's ISP, Nashville's JC-Hosting, and invented a bogus Digital Millennium Copyright Claim. She told the ISP that Absolute Write had exposed her to spam by publishing her email address and that this was illegal and that the ISP had to shut down the site or be liable. This is not illegal, and it's not a DMCA claim. The ISP shut down Absolute Write anyway.

A week later, the ISP has not reinstated the site, and they are refusing to hand over Absolute Write's database so they can put the site back up somewhere else. Absolute Write has a legal fund (I just kicked in $100) to help them drag their foolish ISP into compliance, and to defend themselves against the predator who shut them down.


Update: The owner of the ISP says that he's in the middle of a longer dispute with Absolute Write about their bandwidth usage and other matters, and that terminating the site on the strength of the bogus excuse was just a "justification." (Thanks, PJ!) Read the rest

PopSci on possible microbes from outer space

Here's an interesting article in the June 2006 issue of PopSci about the 50 tons of red gunk that rained on India in 2001. It's possible that the stuff contains critters from outer space.
[Godfrey] Louis, a solid-state physicist at Mahatma Gandhi University, published a paper in the prestigious peer-reviewed journal Astrophysics and Space Science in which he hypothesizes that the samples—water taken from the mysterious blood-colored showers that fell sporadically across Louis’s home state of Kerala in the summer of 2001—contain microbes from outer space.

Specifically, Louis has isolated strange, thick-walled, red-tinted cell-like structures about 10 microns in size. Stranger still, dozens of his experiments suggest that the particles may lack DNA yet still reproduce plentifully, even in water superheated to nearly 600˚F. (The known upper limit for life in water is about 250˚F.) So how to explain them? Louis speculates that the particles could be extraterrestrial bacteria adapted to the harsh conditions of space and that the microbes hitched a ride on a comet or meteorite that later broke apart in the upper atmosphere and mixed with rain clouds above India. If his theory proves correct, the cells would be the first confirmed evidence of alien life and, as such, could yield tantalizing new clues to the origins of life on Earth.

Link Read the rest

Legal implications of the word "fuck"

The Ohio State University's Christopher M Fairman has published a scholarly paper called "Fuck":

This Article is as simple and provocative as its title suggests: it explores the legal implications of the word fuck. The intersection of the word fuck and the law is examined in four major areas: First Amendment, broadcast regulation, sexual harassment, and education. The legal implications from the use of fuck vary greatly with the context. To fully understand the legal power of fuck, the nonlegal sources of its power are tapped. Drawing upon the research of etymologists, linguists, lexicographers, psychoanalysts, and other social scientists, the visceral reaction to fuck can be explained by cultural taboo. Fuck is a taboo word. The taboo is so strong that it compels many to engage in self-censorship. This process of silence then enables small segments of the population to manipulate our rights under the guise of reflecting a greater community. Taboo is then institutionalized through law, yet at the same time is in tension with other identifiable legal rights. Understanding this relationship between law and taboo ultimately yields fuck jurisprudence.


(via MeFi) Read the rest

Coelacanth caught on video

At Cryptomundo, Loren Coleman reports that an Indonesian coelacanth has been caught on film west Sulawesi Island, Indonesia. A darling of cryptozoologists everywhere, the coelacanth was thought to have been extinct for the last 65 million years but was "rediscovered" in 1938. This one was filmed at a depth of 170m using a Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV), essentially an underwater robot, operated by a team from Aquamarine Fukushima. The video isn't public yet, but I look forward to it! Link UPDATE: Loren updated his post with more context about why this news is so significant, something I missed when making my original post:
The African species (the beautiful blue ones) was re-discovered in 1938, and for decades people thought that’s all there was. In the 1990s, they were finally filmed live. But then in 1998, to the surprise of zoologists and ichthyologists worldwide, 6000 miles away, a whole new and different species (they are the beautiful brownish variety) of coelacanth were discovered off Indonesia. They have never been filmed alive in the wild. Until now. That’s why this is such a remarkable piece of news.
UPDATE: At Cryptomundo, the story continues to unfold:
* Apparently, a German team previously videotaped a coelacanth in its Indonesian habitat in 1999. This new video is the first since then. * Two more coelacanths were seen yesterday. * And, last but not least, here's a still from the May 30, 2006 video of this dark blue beauty!
Link Read the rest

HOWTO build a magic wand to control your Mac

Mike Kuniavsky hacked a cheap 3D mouse to turn it into a "magic wand" that controlled his Mac by means of gestures, and wrote a great article about it, describing the build and covering what it feels like to drive a computer with a magic wand:
Quicksilver's gesture recognition software isn't the best (it's not like the IBM SHARK stuff I described earlier), but it's better than other alternatives that I've seen. And, because it works with Quicksilver, that means that there's a large library of knowledge about actions that can be triggered with the gestures. To me, the most interesting possibility, and one that I'll be playing with, is that Quicksilver can issue arbitrary commands, including command-line input to software that can control things back in the "real" world. Command-line input to Processing or NADA, for example, will allow easy magic wand control of things like, oh, Roombas, lights, giant mechanical beasts or teleporters. Hide the computer, disguise the mouse, and action at a distance is yours. Kinda
Link (via Futurismic) Read the rest

How do "info-addict" couples surf together?

Wired News columnist Momus is collecting stories about "information addicted" couples who spend their together time with a couple of computers, typing alongside of one another. That characterizes all my relationships since the late nineties -- the questions are cool and resonant:
What about surfing as a form of sociability: do you e-mail each other interesting website addresses? Do you tend to visit the same kinds of sites? I know that when Hisae and I are surfing, language divides us: I'm visiting English-language sites, she's on Japanese ones. But quite a lot of our interaction is me asking her for explanations of things, Japanese stuff I don't understand. When that's going on, we'll either bring up the same page on two machines, or huddle around one. It's actually more sociable than TV. (Of course, maybe the TV is on at the same time.)

What about more dubious areas: are you secretly looking at porn with your partner right there in the room? Are you flirting with someone else, messaging someone? Because the weird thing about this technology is that it makes what's distant seem closer than what's close. Absent people can have more presence than present people. Or do you look at porn together? What about YouTube videos? Is surfing turning back into TV-watching?

What's the sound of a couple surfing? Dead silence, broken only by the sound of two tapping keyboards (quite a pleasant sound, actually)? Is music playing, and if so, who chooses it? Is choosing which iTunes accesses the sound sticks via Airport Express the new fight for the TV remote?

Read the rest

Alderman, Borruso, and Adigard on TV's transformation

John Alderman and Sarah Borruso, veteran thinkers/reporters on technology and culture, teamed up with virtuoso designer Erik Adigard (M-A-D) in a visual/textual exercise pondering how TV is transforming as a media. The result is "Exploding TV: From One to Many to Many to Many," a smart and graphically stunning poster that they presented at the 2006 Information Architecture Summit. The poster was also reprinted in 10x10, a fun PDF magazine published by Eat Creative in Japan.
John says:
The poster came about because Erik, Sarah, and I were all doing work with IPTV and mobile TV, and we proposed a poster for the IA Summit in Vancouver, while simultaneously Eat asked for a submission to 10x10. Mainly we just wanted to do some thinking about the properties of TV as it changed from broadcast to Internet distribution, like how that changed the whole underlying dynamics. On top of that, there were all kinds of new devices popping up demanding new kinds of content. So we wanted to start connecting some dots.
Link to 10x10 (PDF) Read the rest

Willard Wigan's microsculptures

Willard Wigan makes very tiny sculptures.
When working on this scale he slows his heartbeat and his breathing dramatically through meditation and attempts to harmonise his mind, body and soul with the Creator. He then sculpts or paints at the centrepoint between heartbeats for total stillness of hand.
Link (via The Cartoonist) Read the rest

Coop's Japan photos

Coop is in Japan to celebrate the release of two Hot Wheels cars he designed. He's been taking tons of great pictures, and posting them to his blog. Link Read the rest

3-D photos of circular saw blunders in old PopSci

Steve Lodefink has published some 3D photos from a 1953 issue of Popular Science. (I know I have a pair of 3D glasses around somewhere, probably tucked between the pages of a 1980s Ray Zone comic book moldering away in a cardboard box.) Link Read the rest

Old tech never goes extinct

Last week at the Institute for the Future's Technology Horizons conference, I listened to a terrific talk Kevin Kelly gave about technology as a kingdom of life and the future of the scientific method. He had a lot of great slides to illustrate his points, including this set show here. (Click on thumbnails for enlargement)

Kevin was curious to learn whether or not any technology ever truly goes extinct. So he took a page from a 19th century Montgomery Ward catalog, and then tried to find the same products today. It turned out that every single thing, from hand plows to corn shellers to lard presses, is still being made and sold today. This, Kevin pointed out, is different from living things, which become extinct over time. Read the rest

Timothy Leary: ten years gone

"The real war is between those who are turned on, and those who are uptight." -Timothy Leary (October 22, 1920 - May 31, 1996) Read the rest

Left Behind Christian sf novels turned into bigoted video-game

The people behind the kooky Christian "Left-Behind" science fiction novels (about the futuristic battles on earth after the Rapture takes all the good Bible-bashers to heaven) have produced a violent, bigoted video-game version of their stories. Ironicially, the game is drawing fire from Jack Thompson, himself a nutcase Christian Conservative who hates video-games more than he hates sinning liberals.
Imagine: you are a foot soldier in a paramilitary group whose purpose is to remake America as a Christian theocracy, and establish its worldly vision of the dominion of Christ over all aspects of life. You are issued high-tech military weaponry, and instructed to engage the infidel on the streets of New York City. You are on a mission - both a religious mission and a military mission -- to convert or kill Catholics, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, gays, and anyone who advocates the separation of church and state - especially moderate, mainstream Christians. Your mission is "to conduct physical and spiritual warfare"; all who resist must be taken out with extreme prejudice.
Link (Thanks, Rod!)

Update: Here's part two of the article -- thanks, Jonathan! Read the rest

Apple G4 converted to roadside mailbox

A Flickr user caught a pic of this Apple G4 tower that's been converted to a roadside mailbox in Auckland, NZ -- great use for an old, iconic tower! Link (Thanks, Dustin!)

Update: Dave Prager has made this planter out of his G3 tower. Read the rest

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