Thursday, October 29, 2009

So, why does the flu have a season?

Or, to put it another way, why is there a flu season?

Initial discussions brought up the idea of the cold weather and of the increased activity within the home (vs. the great outdoors), purportedly increasing the risk of exposure.

It turns out both of these are true (as far as the internet knows... ), and here is some additional explication and clarification.

First off, we in North America don't necessarily have the same flu season as others. Australia seems to have it a bit before us, peaking around August, during their winter. So, that shows a clue to temperature. It also seems to provide flu drug designers with clues as to which strains will be big this year in North America and Europe.

Secondly, it's been suggested that kids are back to school, and this could play a part as well. Being away all summer, these little receptacles are now tightly packed in and ready to spread whatever they got. With latency periods considered, this would also make sense as to why the flu has a season.

Thirdly, it seems the flu is around all the time and a new strain can infect you at any time, it is just likely to survive in the air or on surfaces longer in a colder climate. Why?.. well recent studies suggest that it has to do with the cell membranes, and fats. These repulsive lipids make up the majority of the cell membrane. Scientists at NIH have recently discovered that the lipid coating on flu viruses melts at around 60 degrees Fahrenheit (15.5 Celsius) and solidifies into a gel at just above freezing (fortunately for us, our lipid membranes don't behave similarly). Basically, this is the evidence for why flu season peaks during the winter.

The viruses are able to firm themselves up at colder temperatures in order to survive traveling from person to person. Once inside their victims, body heat remelts the lipid coating, allowing the virus to infect the cells of its host. In the warmer months, the viruses dry out, weaken, and go dormant. Researchers hope to use this information to study ways to reduce infection during the winter months, possibly through more effective lipid-dissolving detergents or by encouraging people to spend more time in warm environments (via here).

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Of olden days

There's only 20,000 of these $43 $4 coins, so hurry.

Final release: Dromaeosaurus (2010)

Reverse: An unusual perspective of a Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton accentuating its immense jaws.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009


I don't know about you, but I can't wait to get my hands on some fucking gourds and arrange them in a horn-shaped basket on my dining room table. That shit is going to look so seasonal. I'm about to head up to the attic right now to find that wicker fucker, dust it off, and jam it with an insanely ornate assortment of shellacked vegetables. When my guests come over it's gonna be like, BLAMMO! Check out my shellacked decorative vegetables, assholes. Guess what season it is—fucking fall. There's a nip in the air and my house is full of mutant fucking squash.

....oh, there's more!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Getting to know Adam Giambrone, in one article or less

Hey, it's a start!

Describe an ideal afternoon in the city.
I enjoy exploring neighbourhoods across the city and spending time with friends and family. The best way to answer this is probably to recount a Sunday afternoon I spent just over a month ago. We (my partner and I) started by taking the Queen streetcar to Mimico, had lunch and explored Mimico and the historic former Lakeshore Lunatic Asylum (which is being converted by Humber College into a new campus). It is a beautiful series of brick buildings built in the late 19th century. We ended the day with dinner in Bloor West Village. That was a great day.

Adopt a star

All it is really is just a donation to a non-profit organisation (Pale Blue Dot) that supports a project to find out the precise size of the planets found by Kepler.


It all really started out as an interest in the Kepler Mission closely and its hunt for planets outside our solar system (these type of planets being called extrasolar planets). Kepler was launched in March 2009 on top of a Boeing 7925-10L (Delta-II) launch vehicle.

I've got my eye on:

KIC 8490918
log g=3.584

Here's a good, but rather science-y article on how variable stars have been historically discovered.

Who needs sleep? We apparently can use drugs for that

(sleeping mouse on a limb)

In the experiment, two groups of mice were either allowed to rest over a five-hour period or were constantly disturbed by handling. The sleep-deprived group demonstrated particular problems when it came to performing a basic retrieval test, which they had learned before [BBC News]. When the researchers examined the brains of the sleep-deprived mice, they found that these mice made more of an enzyme called phosphodiesterase 4 (PDE4). In turn, the surplus of PDE4 caused a shortfall of a compound called cAMP, which is involved in forming new memories in a brain area called the hippocampus [WebMD]. When the researchers gave sleep-deprived mice a drug that stops PDE4 from working, the mice aced their memory tests.

How Shazam identifies music

Shazam uses a mobile phone's built-in microphone to gather a brief sample of music being played. An acoustic fingerprint is created based on the sample, and is compared against a central database for a match. If a match is found, information such as the artist, song title, and album are relayed back to the user (Wikipedia).

First, a short explanation of how Shazam works. The company has a library of more than 8 million songs, and it has devised a technique to break down each track into a simple numeric signature—a code that is unique to each track. "The main thing here is creating a 'fingerprint' of each performance," says Andrew Fisher, Shazam's CEO. When you hold your phone up to a song you'd like to ID, Shazam turns your clip into a signature using the same method. Then it's just a matter of pattern-matching—Shazam searches its library for the code it created from your clip; when it finds that bit, it knows it's found your song.


Thus Shazam creates a spectrogram for each song in its database—a graph that plots three dimensions of music: frequency vs. amplitude vs. time. The algorithm then picks out just those points that represent the peaks of the graph—notes that contain "higher energy content" than all the other notes around it, as Wang explained in an academic paper he published to describe how Shazam works (PDF). In practice, this seems to work out to about three data points per second per song.

Why are eggs getting harder to peel?

As an egg ages, it loses some carbon dioxide through tiny pores in the shell, making the egg white more basic. At the same time, it loses moisture, which increases the size of the “air cell” at the bottom of the shell, between the inner and outer membranes. The dynamics of this process are, in the words of a University of California, Davis agriculture publication, “not completely understood,” but the combination of these changes makes an old egg a lot easier to peel than a one that is fresh out of the bird.


“As the contents of the egg contracts and the air cell enlarges, the shell becomes easier to peel,” the USDA Shell Eggs from Farm to Table fact sheet states. “For this reason, older eggs make better candidates for hard cooking,”

"There's nowhere to sit at this classy party!"

Viral milk ads.

"What's the moral mathematics of the moment?"

Perception, or expectation?

Washington, DC Metro Station on a cold January morning in 2007. The man with a violin played six Bach pieces for about 45 minutes. During that time approximately. 2 thousand people went through the station, most of them on their way to work. After 3 minutes a middle aged man noticed there was a musician playing. He slowed his pace and stopped for a few seconds and then hurried to meet his schedule.


45 minutes:

The musician played continuously. Only 6 people stopped and listened for a short while. About 20 gave money but continued to walk at their normal pace. The man collected a total of $32.

1 hour:

He finished playing and silence took over. No one noticed. No one applauded, nor was there any recognition.

No one knew this, but the violinist was Joshua Bell, one of the greatest musicians in the world. He played one of the most intricate pieces ever written, with a violin worth $3.5 million dollars. Two days before Joshua Bell sold out a theater in Boston where the seats averaged $100.


I don't think this has really much to do with perception. It has a lot more to do with expectations, time, knowledge, appreciation and exposure. I'm also not sure this has anything to do with moral mathematics... just a cool sentence. Anyway, yeah... some mathematics involved for sure. Really, the coolest part I see here is that Joshua Bell was willing to do this. He continues to play...

Funniest part? I don't remember this happening, just over two years ago. (with video)

Gene Weingarten won the Pulitzer Prize for Feature Writing back in 2008 for this.


TO GET TO THE METRO FROM HIS HOTEL, a distance of three blocks, Bell took a taxi. He's neither lame nor lazy: He did it for his violin.

Bell always performs on the same instrument, and he ruled out using another for this gig. Called the Gibson ex Huberman, it was handcrafted in 1713 by Antonio Stradivari during the Italian master's "golden period," toward the end of his career, when he had access to the finest spruce, maple and willow, and when his technique had been refined to perfection.

"Our knowledge of acoustics is still incomplete," Bell said, "but he, he just . . . knew."

Bell doesn't mention Stradivari by name. Just "he." When the violinist shows his Strad to people, he holds the instrument gingerly by its neck, resting it on a knee. "He made this to perfect thickness at all parts," Bell says, pivoting it. "If you shaved off a millimeter of wood at any point, it would totally imbalance the sound." No violins sound as wonderful as Strads from the 1710s, still.

The front of Bell's violin is in nearly perfect condition, with a deep, rich grain and luster. The back is a mess, its dark reddish finish bleeding away into a flatter, lighter shade and finally, in one section, to bare wood.

"This has never been refinished," Bell said. "That's his original varnish. People attribute aspects of the sound to the varnish. Each maker had his own secret formula." Stradivari is thought to have made his from an ingeniously balanced cocktail of honey, egg whites and gum arabic from sub-Saharan trees.

Like the instrument in "The Red Violin," this one has a past filled with mystery and malice. Twice, it was stolen from its illustrious prior owner, the Polish virtuoso Bronislaw Huberman. The first time, in 1919, it disappeared from Huberman's hotel room in Vienna but was quickly returned. The second time, nearly 20 years later, it was pinched from his dressing room in Carnegie Hall. He never got it back. It was not until 1985 that the thief -- a minor New York violinist -- made a deathbed confession to his wife, and produced the instrument.

Bell bought it a few years ago. He had to sell his own Strad and borrow much of the rest. The price tag was reported to be about $3.5 million.

All of which is a long explanation for why, in the early morning chill of a day in January, Josh Bell took a three-block cab ride to the Orange Line, and rode one stop to L'Enfant.

More new life.

(via Slashdot)

"A heart patient in Singapore has been implanted with an artificial heart that pumps blood continuously, allowing her to live without a pulse. From the article: '... the petite Madam Salina, who suffers from end-stage heart failure, would not have been able to use the older and bulkier models because they can only be implanted in patients 1.7m or taller. The 30-year-old administrative assistant is the first recipient here to get a new artificial heart that pumps blood continuously, the reason why there are no beats on her wrist.'"

The story is light on details, but an article from last year in MIT's Technology Review explains a bit more about how a pulse-less artificial heart works.

The no pulse heart, that's alive.

Philip Spooner

That clip of the World War II veteran speaking out for the civil rights of his gay son is not new. In fact, it dates from last April. But the Dish's re-posting on October 21 gave it a second life. From the Dish (1.27 pm) to HuffPo (8.26 pm) to Boing Boing (10.57 pm) and then back to Maine's own evening news, the Youtube has now passed the half million viewer mark.

Quantum to Cosmos Festival

I went Saturday for two lectures... Great experience, and even went back to the Black Hole Bistro for a beer or two.

Just a reminder that all these lectures are online for viewing (fast and great quality) here:

Friday, October 23, 2009

Playing the part

On a great recommendation by Angela I saw F for Fake by Orson Welles.

"A friend, another friend, once showed a Picasso, to Picasso, who said no, it was a fake. The same friend from yet another source showed another would-be Picasso and Picasso said that too was a fake. Then yet another from another source; also fake, said Picasso. "But Pablo" said his friend, "I watched you paint that with my own eyes."

"Haha", said Picasso. "I can paint false Picasso's as well as anybody."

The editing is fantastic.. quick, tightly shot, with some great pausing; visually engaging. Great commentary on expertise too.. and shot and told in the way that you actually have to question everything... even if Elmyr himself actually existed! Great story telling. Confusing at first, but really fucking cool once you wrap your head around it....

It comes into question, at least to me now, that if simply playing the part, just doing it, going through the motions; can it be considered faking? Let me rephrase a bit. Is it based on the psychological situation? The human weakness to want to believe? (as suggested in the film.. ) Is simply going through the motions enough? This could be why con men are so successful. Are we like the black box; all that matters is what goes in and what comes out, without any consideration of its internal operations?

"Our works in stone, in paint, in print are spared, some of them for a few decades, or a millennium or two, but everything must finally fall in war, or wear away into the ultimate and universal ash. The triumphs, and the frauds. The treasures and the fakes. A fact of life. We're going to die.

Be of good heart, cry the dead artists, out of the living past. Our songs will all be silenced. But what of it?

Go on singing. Maybe a man's name doesn't matter all that much."

More Orson Welles! More Orson Welles!

This movie, these thoughts, really clean up what I was quite poorly struggling with in the previous post, and goes a few steps further. Sharing ideas is awesome!

Thanks again Angela!

Download torrent here.

Good basic review here.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Walrus Torontohenge contest


Since at least 2002, when astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson gave it a name, photographers in New York City have observed the passing of Manhattanhenge, which happens when the rising or setting sun perfectly aligns with east-west streets that follow the island’s 1811 planning grid. The phenomenon occurs in every metropolis with a similar plan, and is coming soon to Canada’s city of skyscrapers. According to The Photographer’s Ephemeris, a free application developed by landscape photographer Stephen Trainor, the next Torontohenge is due to illuminate T.O.’s downtown thoroughfares on the evenings of October 24–25.

The Walrus invites local photographers to send us your best photos of Saturday and Sunday’s Torontohenge effect. Bree Seeley, our picture editor, will choose her favourite images for a gallery to be published on The overall winner will receive a gift bag from Drawn and Quarterly; two runners-up will each receive a pair of tickets to The Walrus events at the International Festival of Authors. All three winners will also receive a complimentary one-year subscription to The Walrus.

Keychains, wtf?

I've been thinking about keychains lately... no, not really. But, I really never understood the point of them, unless they could be of some use. I suppose it depends on your trade. Here are three I actually like.

“The Bullet” bicycle valve adapter.

Also, an earplug keychain I got at some CMW years ago.

Other than that, are there any other useful keyhains? Maybe an adapter for your phone?..

I am now officially procrastinating.

The secret magic of... Photosynthesis, Chlorophyll, The Electron Dance, and Quantum Physics

So, back on this topic of leaves ('tis the season); what about the magic of chlorophyll? The thing that really blows me away about photosynthesis and chlorophyll is the efficiency of energy transfer. Typical power lines lose 80% of their energy transfer in heat loss and resistance. Our most efficient (experimental non-commercial) solar panels may reach 40% sunlight conversion efficiency. A plant can absorb, transmit and store (as sugars) up to 99% of the suns light.

SO, why the huge discrepancy?

The quantum yield of a light harvesting system is typically very high. It is given by a near unit probability, as most every photon absorbed by the chlorophyll network results in an electron transfer.


Directly from here, here and here:

One of the most significant quantum observations in the life sciences comes from Fleming and his collaborators. Their study of photosynthesis in green sulfur bacteria, published in 2007 in Nature, tracked the detailed chemical steps that allow plants to harness sunlight and use it to convert simple raw materials into the oxygen we breathe and the carbohydrates we eat. Specifically, the team examined the protein scaffold connecting the bacteria’s external solar collectors, called the chlorosome, to reaction centers deep inside the cells. Unlike electric power lines, which lose as much as 20 percent of energy in transmission, these bacteria transmit energy at a staggering efficiency rate of 95 percent or better.

The secret, Fleming and his colleagues found, is quantum physics.


Electrons moving through a leaf or a green sulfur bacterial bloom are effectively performing a quantum “random walk”—a sort of primitive quantum computation—to seek out the optimum transmission route for the solar energy they carry. “We have shown that this quantum random-walk stuff really exists,” Fleming says. “Have we absolutely demonstrated that it improves the efficiency? Not yet. But that’s our conjecture. And a lot of people agree with it.”

(which electron path is the most efficient - random walk trial)


Stuart Hameroff, an anesthesiologist and director of the Center for Consciousness Studies at the University of Arizona, argues that the highest function of life—consciousness—is likely a quantum phenomenon too. This is illustrated, he says, through anesthetics. The brain of a patient under anesthesia continues to operate actively, but without a conscious mind at work. What enables anesthetics such as xenon or isoflurane gas to switch off the conscious mind?

Hameroff speculates that anesthetics “interrupt a delicate quantum process” within the neurons of the brain.


Ok. This is pretty ground-breaking quantum science. Or, evolution research. Well, both really.

Evolutionarily, it seems there was a single initial pathway to the creation of photosynthesis, started over a billion years ago. The pathway diverted from the original cyanobacteria (usually mono-cellular water creatures) to the plant pathway. There are many similiarities and many differences - ie. some things were kept/unchanged in a billion years, some things were added/adapted). Both photosynthetic pathways are highly efficient; the plant one only slightly more efficient with added complexity. Why?:

"We suggest, therefore, that constraints other than excitation transfer, such as ligation of chlorophylls, electron transfer, photoprotection of chlorophylls by carotenoids, spectral composition of pigments, and the requirements of assembly, and possibly repair, are likely to play determining roles in shaping the evolution of a light-harvesting system. The apparent lack of optimality of the geometry of the peripheral chlorophyll network suggests then that the aforementioned issues display a higher priority for the fitness of the system than the excitation transfer process" (via here).


Anyway, where does this leave us? Well, we obviously have a lot to learn. Chlorophyll is certainly a major player, and we are experimenting with it a bit, from chewing gum (acts as a very mild odour eater) to night vision.

There's even progress in the use of chlorophyll to aid in a photoshynthetic transfer within solar panels. If you can't beat'em, join them? We obviously have a long way to go. (plants in photo cells)


Lately I've been on this kick where I just research the shit out of a topic, learn about it, get too busy to write about it, and never end up doing anything with it. I have a backlog of items that I wanna talk about, record here and get feedback on.. and not all of the science influence either...

I also have a bit of a surprise coming up(!), but that's gonna have to wait a bit... Maybe a week, if that (I hope!) Just starting up the hype machine!

I'm in the middle of finishing up law school apps. Once that's done, I hope to catch up here a bit, especially with the music and art, as that takes more care than just reading, copying and pasting science interests. At least for me. I'm not the type of person who can work and listen to music at the same time;

Anyway, here's a pretty cool and simple post from A three year old's view of the NYC subway system.

A Toronto version would be a great Christmas gift idea...

UPDATE: like this:

So, why do leaves change colour?

If you, like me, said 'chlorophyll, something, something... ', read on.

Many people think deciduous trees lose their leaves because of cold weather and frost, a common misconception (umm.. my misconception), but actually the length of the day seems to be what determines when trees begin the process of changing colours and dropping leaves. During the shortened days of autumn there is not enough sunlight to outweigh the costs of chlorophyll maintenance and production, and the tree goes into hibernation mode. Once chlorophyll has stopped being produced, the red, golden and brown colours are "unmasked"; these colours are actually the natural colour of the leaves without the chlorophyll.

So's, why are the two pigments (carotene (responsible for yellow, orange and brown) and anthocyanins (red)) there in the first place? I mean, what is the evolutionary benefit of a leaf having these pigments? What is the benefit of having them show up there in the fall? It obviously just can't be a ho-hum, whateves decision on nature's part.

The pigments that produce yellow and orange leaves in the fall are present year-round, and help protect chlorophyll, the molecule at the heart of photosynthesis, from sunlight damage; when chlorophyll is broken down in the autumn those yellows and oranges become visible. In contrast, the red anthocyanins are produced only in the fall. It is a costly job of molecule building for the plant and an enigma to scientists, since the leaves will at that point soon be dropped entirely [BBC News]. (via discovermag)

Apparently no one knows why yet.

Possibly, the red colour could be a signal to insects that the leaves, and tree, are malnourished or have a built in chemical defense. This was postulated based on a single certain insect (aphids) that were less likely to grow to maturity living on red leaves rather than yellow or green leaves... this seems plausible, but yeah, where is the benefit to the tree?

Another possibility? David Wilkinson, an environmental scientist at Liverpool John Moores University who has published on the leaf colour debate, says that the work is not proof positive of the co-evolution theory (of insects and trees).

"I think the most likely explanation is that these [anthocyanins] are effectively sunscreens that allow the photosynthesis to continue as the machinery of photosynthesis is broken apart in the autumn.

"The idea of, as it were, 'the trees are talking to the insects', is wild and wacky and it would be rather nice if it were true.

"But I still have not seen anything that convinces me of the signaling."

(photo from Sarah used totally without permission - UPDATE: Now with permission!)

This goes under the wait until next year pile, as experiments can only be done at specific times... maybe we'll get an update soon.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Way more than you've even wanted to know about sperm whales

So, why are they called sperm whales?

Got into an extremely short discussion about this last night... and no one seemed to know the answer.

"Sperm whale" is an apocopation of Spermaceti Whale. Spermaceti is the semi-liquid, waxy substance found in the animal's head. Spermaceti is found in the spermaceti organ or case in front of and above the skull of the whale and also in the junk, the area below the spermaceti organ and just above the upper jaw.[3] The case consists of a soft white, waxy substance saturated with spermaceti oil. The junk is composed of cavities filled with the same wax and spermaceti oil and intervening connective tissue.

The spermaceti organs may help in diving by adjusting the whale's buoyancy. Before diving, cold water is brought through the organ and the wax is solidified.[28][36] The increase in specific density generates a down force of about 40 kilograms (88 lb) and allows the whale to dive with minimal effort. During the chase in deep levels (max. 3,000 m) the stored oxygen is consumed and excess heat melts the spermaceti. Now only hydrodynamic forces generated by swimming keep the whale down, and it can surface without effort.

some more facts about sperm whales..

- Sperm whales can live 70 years or more.
- The sperm whale is among the most cosmopolitan species in the world, as it is relatively abundant from polar waters to the equator, and is found in all the oceans and the Mediterranean Sea.
- A single calf is born after a gestation period of 14 to 16 months.
- The brain of the sperm whale is the largest known of any modern or extinct animal, weighing on average about 8 kilograms (18 lb).[33][34] However, it is not particularly large in proportion to its body size. For example, the sperm whale has a lower encephalization quotient than many other whale and dolphin species, lower than that of non-human anthropoid apes and much lower than humans'.

Straight from wikipedia...

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The art of forgeries

Errol Morris wrote a 7-part series in the NYTimes on the art of forgery.

Why do people believe in imaginary returns, frauds and fakes?

Bernard Madoff, A.I.G. , W.M.D.’s … How did this happen? Do we believe things because it is in our self-interest? Or is it because we can be manipulated by others? And, if so, under what circumstances?

Last year, two different books on that subject appeared within months of each other. Not only did both tackle the question of fakery, they were both about the same man: Han van Meegeren, arguably the most successful art forger of all time.


The charge on which Van Meegeren was arraigned specified that he sold works bearing the spurious signatures of famous artists. It was not a simple case of forgery, inasmuch as the defendant created the works after the style of the seventeenth century masters, without actually copying any of their canvases…

How did he do it? Why did he do it? Newspapers reveal the thinking and confusions of their time, but they don’t necessarily provide answers. Was Van Meegeren a collaborator or an artist? Or both? And if he was a genius, what was his genius? His ability to trick people? Or was he able to trick people because he was an artist of genius? Who was Van Meegeren? A con man or Nazi? Did he forge paintings solely for monetary reward or was something more sinister involved?


EDWARD DOLNICK: You would think a close copy would be the goal of a forger, but it might not be a smart way to go. If you were a brilliant technician it might be an acceptable strategy, but my forger, Van Meegeren, is not as good as that. So if he’s going to try to pass himself off as Vermeer, he isn’t going to do it by painting “The Girl With Two Pearl Earrings.” [3] He’s going to get in trouble, because that’s asking for a side-by-side comparison, and he’s not good enough to get away with that.

It wasn’t going to be about how “you can’t tell the difference,” because you could. It would be, “How could people look at these things which are manifestly so different and not see what’s going on?” It became a story about how experts can get it wrong, and in fact, how expert knowledge, instead of helping, can be a hindrance. On the surface it seemed to be a story about art and history, but really, it’s a story about psychology.


The Uncanny Valley is a concept developed by the Japanese robot scientist Masahiro Mori. It concerns the design of humanoid robots. Mori’s theory is relatively simple. We tend to reject robots that look too much like people. Slight discrepancies and incongruities between what we look like and what they look like disturb us. The closer a robot resembles a human, the more critical we become, the more sensitive to slight discrepancies, variations, imperfections. However, if we go far enough away from the humanoid, then we much more readily accept the robot as being like us


ERROL MORRIS: The question of this book of his watercolors and drawings that was found in Hitler’s library. What is your feeling about that whole deal?

EDWARD DOLNICK: Well, there are a lot of elements to that. One is that that book of drawings could have given the game away; the forgery, I mean, if anybody said, “Look, be-cause there’s a remarkably similarity between the crazy, heavy eye-lidded figures that he drew and the figures in his biblical Vermeers.” To look at those, you think right away, “Boy, these Van Meegerens and these newfound million-dollar Vermeers look awfully similar!”

Parts 1 and 2 are really, really great... along with part 6. Solid questions, good explanations, very well researched. Impressive article. The imitation of art and life, and the eventual mixture of the two really fascinates me. Where do you draw the line?; why did you draw the line? What makes a great copy - it isn't necessarily the closest match! More on this a bit later.. hopefully today.

Sloan at the Dakota

The Lines You Amend, Believe In Me, A Side Wins, Autobiography, The Rest of My Life, I Can Feel It, Keep On Thinkin'. Big win for One Chord to Another.

Deeper than Beauty would have been the kicker. Ugh... good show.

Deeper than Beauty:

Deeper Than Beauty lyrics

I suppose I've seen you three times now
And I guess that I'm wondering how
You keep the boys at bay
I have a feeling that they are wondering too
I've seen you with your hair down
At least five times, I've always wondered
What makes a man commit crimes
But even I would sometimes
If it weren't for the likes of you
And your glasses your hideous glasses
When you remove them I would rather
Skip my classes and be caught
Then to entertain the thought
That someday you'll just put them on again
But I can make the best of it until then
Still I know you go deeper than your beauty
You go well above and beyond tha call of
Duty to your country and your school
But I grew up too cool
I'm like the rest of them
With our thumbs up our asses
If you call I will come but
I'm about as quick as molasses
When I dream of you your not
Wearing any glasses

Either way, I just heard it...

More audio from this show to follow...

Monday, October 19, 2009

BBC Life: New series, sorta kinda like the Planet Earth series, 2.0

The pebble toad bounces away as a method of escape.

Oreophrynella nigra or Pebble Toad is a species of toad in the Bufonidae family. It is found in Venezuela and possibly Guyana. Its natural habitats are subtropical or tropical moist montanes and swamps.

When threatened the toad folds its limbs under its body, tucks its head in and tenses in a ball position. If on an incline, this causes it to roll down the slope, escaping the attentions of its predator. Its cryptic colouring blends with its sandstone habitat.

"Filming the bouncing toad was very challenging; the remote mountain plateau is one mile high and 26 square miles in area, whilst the toad is one inch long and very elusive. The tarantulas which prey on them are also very hard to find. To give the crew the best chance of finding and filming them, the expert on these creatures came on the shoot. He searched for a week before the crew's arrival to find both species and a location where they could come together and where the toad would demonstrate its bouncing-ball method of escape. This allowed the cameraman to set up his slow-motion camera in the right place. The scientist was able to ensure that the toad was never in danger of being harmed by the tarantula as a result of us filming them. The technique was a total success - the toad tucked its legs in, rolled and bounced, allowing the crew to film its method of escape in slow-motion detail."

Here are two more videos from the series:

Jesus Lizard walks on water:

Pygmy Gecko, floating on water

Really gorgeous series.. the slow-motion film, along with the camera angles really makes this look great.

(via Gizmodo)

Friday, October 16, 2009

Everyone's got a national dish to spread

Canada - Poutine - (Province of Quebec), Pancakes with maple syrup, Beaver tail (pastry), Butter Tarts, Nanaimo Bar, Kraft Dinner,Salt cod - (Province of Newfoundland and Labrador)

Poland - bigos, barszcz, pierogi

(Barszcz Czerwony - among the most delicious things you will ever taste)

Also, has no one staked claim to Tartare>?!

The basis of the name is the legend that nomadic Tatar people of the Central Asian steppes did not have time to cook and thus placed meat underneath their horses' saddles. The meat would be tenderised by the end of the journey. (Wikipedia)

Best. Article. Ever.

Are time travelers sabotaging our Large Hadron Collider to protect the future of the universe?

"A pair of otherwise distinguished physicists have suggested that the hypothesized Higgs boson, which physicists hope to produce with the collider, might be so abhorrent to nature that its creation would ripple backward through time and stop the collider before it could make one, like a time traveler who goes back in time to kill his grandfather."

This malign influence from the future, they argue, could explain why the United States Superconducting Supercollider, also designed to find the Higgs, was canceled in 1993 after billions of dollars had already been spent, an event so unlikely that Dr. Nielsen calls it an “anti-miracle.”

(via instapundit)

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Augmented reality art..

Chris O'Shea, an artist with latent fantasies about growing into a giant and teasing, then destroying, the people of Liverpool, England, has a new installation! It's a live video billboard that teases, then destroys, the people of Liverpool, England.

Hand From Above encourages us to question our normal routine when we often find ourselves rushing from one destination to another. Inspired by Land of the Giants and Goliath, we are reminded of mythical stories by mischievously unleashing a giant hand from the BBC Big Screen. Passers by will be playfully transformed. What if humans weren’t on top of the food chain? Crush your head?

The effect is playful and charming for adults, though it may cause minor metaphysical crises in small children and pets. For art!

(via gizmodo)

Friday, October 9, 2009

Ken Burns' National Parks torrents

Updated from here.

Here they are:

Episode One: "The Scripture of Nature"

Episode Two: "The Last Refuge"

Episode Three: "The Empire of Grandeur"

Episode Four: "Going Home"

Episode Five: "Great Nature"

Episode Six: "The Morning of Creation"

Proportion of women cyclists as indicator of infrastructure safety

In the U.S., men’s cycling trips surpass women’s by at least 2:1. This ratio stands in marked contrast to cycling in European countries, where urban biking is a way of life and draws about as many women as men—sometimes more. In the Netherlands, where 27 percent of all trips are made by bike, 55 percent of all riders are women. In Germany 12 percent of all trips are on bikes, 49 percent of which are made by women.

“If you want to know if an urban environment supports cycling, you can forget about all the detailed ‘bikeability indexes’—just measure the proportion of cyclists who are female,” says Jan Garrard, a senior lecturer at Deakin University in Melbourne, Australia, and author of several studies on biking and gender differences.

Women are considered an “indicator species” for bike-friendly cities for several reasons. First, studies across disciplines as disparate as criminology and child ­rearing have shown that women are more averse to risk than men. In the cycling arena, that risk aversion translates into increased demand for safe bike infrastructure as a prerequisite for riding.

Ahead of the curve may be New York City, where about five miles of traffic-protected bike lanes have recently been installed. Credit goes to the new Department of Transportation commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan, who is upending the department’s long-standing focus on trucks and automobiles. Remarks Pucher: “A woman cyclist became head of the DOT, and wonderful things started happening.”

I'm not sure I totally agree with this, but it may show something. It could also be correlated with the number total cyclists from total cycling inclined stats (which admittedly does have more than something to do with safety and infrastructure). Still, it sounds like an interesting paper.

A few pictures from Montreal

Once every year or two a few of us try to make a weekend trip up to Montreal. A bit of a smaller group this time around, and definitely not as intense (thankfully!), and much more fun than usual!

Jeremy and Dharam, arriving in style.

First stop; obviously St. Hubert's.

Adam asked me once if there was any main advantage to the iphone over the blackberry. I give you this: St. Hubert's iphone app.

After some walking we went to beautiful Le Sainte-Elisabeth bar, with their 45 meter high ivy covered terrace...

There was a dude going around raising money for his wedding (or beers) by selling off lollipops. We all got one. Not all of us decided to put it in our hair.

We ended up staying there for a while...

Outside, glamour shots of the group!

ugh... those grins..

Dharam - lead singer and song writer; we're actually called Dharam and the jerks.
Jeremy - Bassist that scores all the groupies.
Kari - Vocals and tambourine; the only reason why anyone listens us.
Adam - Guitarist that has three solo records on the side and the only one actually making money.
Peter - No talent drummer who previously played for a garage band (in a garage) in Penetanguishene.

Wait! one last late addition to the band list!

Afterwards we decided to regroup at the hotel for a bit and look up a good place to eat dinner.

Kari helping Adam find a good place to eat on what's called 'the internet'.