GREETINGS. This is John Hodgman writing at the witching hour (5:48PM EST).
It is Hallowe'en, and thus time to CRACK THE CRYSTAL SKULL at last.
Please see the enclosed video.
That is all.
This is a fun TED talk: "The Inventables guys, Zach Kaplan and Keith Schacht, demo some amazing new materials and how we might use them. Look for squishy magnets, odor-detecting ink, "dry" liquid and a very surprising 10-foot pole." Keith Schacht & Zach Kaplan: Products (and toys) from the future
Are you willing to take on the responsibility that comes with bringing trillions of universes into existence, each teeming with sentient life? That's something to ponder before plunking down $20 for this make-your-own-universe kit, created by artist Jonathon Keats.
If two events are possible, quantum theory assumes that both occur simultaneously - until an observer determines the outcome. For example, in Schrödinger's famous thought experiment, in which his cat may have been killed with a 50 per cent probability, the cat is both alive and dead until someone checks. When the observation is made, the universe splits into two, one for each possible outcome. For example, Schrödinger's cat would be alive in one universe and dead in the other universe.The make-your-own-universe kit
According to the theory, any kind of measurement causes the universe to split and this is the basis of Keats' new device. His universe creator uses a piece of uranium-doped glass to create a steam of alpha particles, which are then detected using a thin sliver of scintillating crystal. Each detection causes the creation of a new universe.
I love this child's mech walker costume built by one of his parents. Brownlee has more over at BB Gadgets. Beware the clomping of the candy-fueled Chicken Walker
To achieve the trick, Fotheringham, rolled down a skatepark ramp to generate enough speed. He then went up another ramp and landed his flip on flat ground.Wheelchair athlete's back flip lands him in record book (Thanks, Carlo Longino!)
He first completed the trick in 2006, and has dozens of videos of his backflips, but had yet to make it official...
Aaron Fotheringham, who suffers from spina bifida and has been in a wheelchair since he was 13, came up short in his quest to set a record for most consecutive backflips in 45 seconds. His unofficial record is six back flips in a row, however, he could not get consecutive flips Oct. 25.
"I'm a little bit disappointed I didn't get the consecutive flips, but I guess I'm taking it for granted that I got in the book," Fotheringham said.
To be truly evil, someone must have sought to do harm by planning to commit some morally wrong action with no prompting from others (whether this person successfully executes his or her plan is beside the point). The evil person must have tried to carry out this plan with the hope of "causing considerable harm to others," Bringsjord says. Finally, "and most importantly," he adds, if this evil person were willing to analyze his or her reasons for wanting to commit this morally wrong action, these reasons would either prove to be incoherent, or they would reveal that the evil person knew he or she was doing something wrong and regarded the harm caused as a good thing...Are You Evil? Profiling That Which Is Truly Wicked
Following the path of a true logician, Bringsjord's interest in the portrayal of virtuousness and evil in literature led to his interest in software that helps writers develop ideas and create stories; this, in turn, spurred him to develop his own software for simulating human behavior, both good and odious, says Barry Smith, a distinguished professor of bioinformatics and ontology at the State University of New York at Buffalo who is familiar with Bringsjord's work. "He's known as someone on the fringe of philosophy and computer science."
Bringsjord and Smith both have an interest in finding ways to better understand human behavior, and their work has attracted the attention of the intelligence community, which is seeking ways to successfully analyze the information they gather on potential terrorists. "To solve problems in intelligence analysis, you need more accurate representations of people," Smith says. "Selmer is trying to build really good representations of human beings in all of their subtlety."
Underground film director Rodney Ascher, whose work we've featured on BB and BBtv many times before, just completed a new horror spoof called Visions of Terror. A collaboration with Josh Fadem and also starring Zoe Jarman, Visions of Terror is a real laff-riot that takes the piss out of B-movie horror buffs, which Ascher is himself. Visions of Terror
Previously on BB:
• Jack Chick, animated: "Somebody Goofed," by Syd and Rodney
• Rodney Ascher's short film about a freefalling parachutist
• Babylon 6 Jamaican vacation promo
In exchange for a reward of applesauce, the monkeys had been conditioned to create just the right amount of torque in their wrists to move a cursor on a display so that it hit a target. To conduct the experiments, the researchers used anesthesia to block signals in a nerve just below the shoulder of a monkey’s arm, temporarily paralyzing the rest of the limb. The brain cells that control wrist movement were still firing in response to the monkey’s desire to hit the target and get the payoff, but with the neural connection shut down, the wrist remained limp. The scientists implanted electrodes into the monkey’s motor cortex and fed the electrical signals they received from the monkey’s brain into a computer. The computer then translated the signals into a stimulating current that was fed to electrodes implanted below the nerve block in the monkey’s wrist. The monkeys were able to learn to manipulate their own brains to get their wrists moving.New Brain-Machine Interface Reactivates Monkey's Paralyzed Muscles
As one you YouTuber put it: "Any simple task in Japan requires the effort of tens of aging men dressed in fluorescent jackets and hard hats." (Via Arbroath)
Today on Boing Boing tv we continue a series of transmissions from Tokyo by our monster-hunting comrade Sean Bonner, who vanished mysteriously while seeking a legendary shrine devoted to the Kappa, a water-dwelling, ninja-turtle-like, child-sized creature who is fond of cucumbers and human colon meat, which it may access by grabbing up your butt.
In yesterday's installment, Sean hooked up with Matt Alt and Hiroko Yoda, authors of the previosly-boinged book Yokai Attack: The Japanese Monster Survival Guide, and the quest began. But the team vanished mysteriously, and we haven't been able to reach Sean for a week.
Today, he reappears, with proof that he has touched the mummified hand of the cucumber-loving amphibious prankster. He also brings us irrefutable proof that some of Japan's greatest manga artists found a source of inspiration in Kappa art. Also on the streets of Tokyo, just outside the shrine, BBtv's yokai squad discovered MONSTER KITTEH.
Link to Boing Boing tv post with instructions on how to subscribe to our daily video podcast. Here's the direct MP4 link in case you can't deal with Flash video. Here are some photos from Sean.
Previously: Hunting for the Kappa Monster in Tokyo, part 1
The UCLA Digital Library has a few interesting photos of Halloween in the 1940s. The caption for this one reads: "Stage and crowd at Halloween Slick Chick beauty contest in Anaheim, Calif., 1947." I wonder if Daisy Mae was the winner?
Short Attention Span Science Theater is a new Stanford University site that features "microdocs," two to four minute videos explaining scientific topics in a simple and engaging way. Groups of microdocs are packaged into "notebooks" on particular topics. From Stanford News Service:
The first Short Attention Span Science notebook demystifies ecological sustainability–the basis for the green movement around the world, (Marine Science professor Steve Palumbi) said: "What is sustainability? What promotes it? What threatens it? What are the tipping points that push an ecosystem into ruin or keep it functioning forever? The ecological sustainability notebook shows the elements of sustainability and explains how they apply to one of the most important and beautiful ecosystems on earth–coral reefs."Short Attention Span Science Theater (Thanks, Jason Tester!)
Palumbi serves as narrator and on-camera host of many of the microdocs, which were shot at research sites in Fiji, Samoa, the Caribbean, Micronesia and other coral reefs. "Navigating around the site is like a fast trip to the coral reefs of the world, with you in control of the journey," he said. "We present the problems facing reefs, and how they can recover and grow. We show the kinds of reefs, the species that live on them and efforts by local people all over the world to preserve them."
Jonathan Carroll's The Ghost in Love: magical and wonderful fantasy novel about ghosts and love and nostalgia
In the Ghost in Love, Ben and his girlfriend German have just broken up a long-term relationship that seems to have been as wonderful as love can be (Carroll has a special gift for bringing happy family relations to life). Now they are on the outs, and sharing custody of Pilot, their shelter-dog, and every time they meet to swap the dog, their hearts break anew.
Ben should have died the day he got the dog, when he slipped on ice and broke his head. But he didn't. So the Angel of Death sent Ben's ghost, Ling, to earth, to investigate why the universe has stopped obeying its divine destiny. Ling is hopelessly in love with German, and the ghost is also a fantastic cook (as is Ben), so whenever German is due to come over, Ling spends the whole day cooking elaborate, invisible meals for her, while chatting morosely with the dog (all ghosts speak Dog).
That's all in the first few pages. Then it gets weird.
Carroll's standard formula for his novels is to introduce us to wonderful people living magical blessed lives, lives so achingly rendered that you want to crawl into the page and snuggle under the covers with them. Then he smashes their lives like sand-castles, and his wonderful people fall apart while magic unmakes them, rewriting the rules of their world to reveal hidden truths about love, family, self-regard, self-loathing, and other emotionally charged subjects.
In Ghost in Love, Carroll does this again, but even moreso, using a kind of dreamlike fluidity to constantly rewrite the rules of his world and its magic as evil and good tear apart the lives of Ben, German, Pilot and Ling and the people around them. The story grows ever-more existential, allegorical and weird as the pages fly past.
But it's all handled so gracefully that the dream-logic never falters. Carroll is the omnipotent god of his characters and situations, and he is totally in control of every variable, so that we trust him throughout, even though he never plays fair.
And the message, the conclusion in the end? Without spoiling things, I'll say this: The Ghost in Love contains genuinely profound and illuminating truths about the way that we love others and ourselves, and about the power of owning up to your bad deeds, and about the danger and wonder of nostalgia for our simpler pasts.
I've read and enjoyed all thirteen of Carroll's novels, and this one is going right on the shelf with the others, and will occupy the same oft-visited part of my mental landscape wherein dwell his other magical books.
(Photo by Wonkette operative “Dan the Man”.)
Wonkette posted this interesting photo of people worshipping the golden calf Wall Street bull in order to save the stock market. Here's what PZ Myers had to say about it:
Did you know that some Christian dingbat has dubbed today the “Day of Prayer for the World’s Economies?” Well here they are, at the Wall Street bull statue thing, praying to Jesus for money. The dingbat has explained, “We are going to intercede at the site of the statue of the bull on Wall Street to ask God to begin a shift from the bull and bear markets to what we feel will be the ‘Lion’s Market,’ or God’s control over the economic systems.”Exodus 32:
8They have turned aside quickly out of the way which I commanded them: they have made them a molten calf, and have worshipped it, and have sacrificed thereunto, and said, These be thy gods, O Israel, which have brought thee up out of the land of Egypt.Jesus people pray that false idol will save God’s economy
9And the LORD said unto Moses, I have seen this people, and, behold, it is a stiffnecked people:
10Now therefore let me alone, that my wrath may wax hot against them, and that I may consume them: and I will make of thee a great nation.