Stuff I Found

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Physics Invaders

An interesting twist on the classic game... unfortunately it seems all the levels are identical. I got bored and stopped playing after level six. Still, it's a big novel, eh?

Monday, December 22, 2008

Natural whale explosion

The title above links to a video about an exploding whale... not that one that was purposefully blown up to get it off the beach, but one that exploded unexpectedly due to natural causes.

Warning: Video shows whale guts and splattered blood. Lots of it. A whale exploded. Ew.

Sugar not cause of hyperness

According to this article:

our skewed perception of hyper behavior post-sugar might be mostly in our heads.


if you slip kids some sugar without them knowing it, it doesn’t have a hyperactivity effect in most children, even ones with ADHD.

One study shows that parents can fall prey to the placebo effect, seeing their kids as more hyperactive when under the false impression that the kids have eaten sugar.

Another old wives tale busted because the old wives were stupid.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Old people watch more TV

According to this article:

Young Americans just aren't watching TV like they used to.

Put another way, the older you get, the more you watch, according to a report due out Thursday from Deloitte indicating that "millennials," the generation of ages 14-25, watch just 10.5 hours of TV a week.

That compares with 15.1 hours for those belonging to Generation X (ages 26-42), 19.2 hours for baby boomers (43-61) and 21.5 hours for matures (62-75).

Of course, this younger generation is spending much more time on the computer I'm sure, getting entertainment through things like YouTube. But it does make me wonder ... forty or fifty years into the future, how will the demographics for YouTube and other social media change? And what new stuff will take its place? Or will YouTube even be around?

By the way ... cool ... I'm a "millennial"! Didn't know my generation had a nickname yet... better than "generation y".

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Torture needed in video games?

According to this commentary by Clive Thompson, video games could use some more opportunities for players to torture other characters. Why? To learn about the consequences of course! I disagree. Thompson says:

[Video games are] also extremely good at illustrating consequences: If you do X, then Z and L will happen; if you do Y instead, then C and Q result.

I disagree with the premise that games are "good at illustrating consequences" ... the real world is good at illustrating consequences; games are the opposite. That's why they're fun to play. You can go on a shooting rampage without consequences, no need to even feel guilt. That's the whole point. When people make real world moral decisions, I don't think they look back on their video game experiences to analyze the difference between right and wrong.

I think this idea that people can learn about morals from video games is also a problem with video game designers... if you have a player make a moral decision in a game, you must realize that the player will first probably want to choose the moral decision that leads to winning the game. They'll only choose the other choice to "see what happens". The only way to have a real interesting moral choice is to have one in which either decision the player makes will have good and bad effects on the playing of the rest of game. But the only thing this does is allow players to explore decisions they would never make in real life; they don't learn anything about morality from this.

I think novels, films, and video games... really anything with a narrative with a moral message... definitely are ways for us to explore morality, but they aren't going influence what we finally believe is right and wrong. You can make films and games in which the bad guy wins, but audiences aren't going to think "oh, maybe killing innocent people is okay because this character did it and got away" ... NO.

So showing the bad consequences of torture in video games with the hope of teaching some moral lesson is a silly idea.

By the way, in the real world, people can profit (and have profited) greatly from "morally wrong" decisions... sometimes bad guys really do get away. But most of us probably agree that the ends doesn't justify the means. What makes something right or wrong isn't its consequences.

Okay, that's kind of a tangent from the article, but I hope you get my point... :-)

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Bush dodges shoes

He sure is good!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Recording our dreams?

In the future, will we be able to record what we see? Will we be able to see our visual thoughts? Will we be able to record our dreams at night, and watch them again when we're awake? Sounds too good to be true, in my opinion, but according to this article:

A Japanese research team has successfully processed and displayed images directly from the human brain, they said in a study to be published in the US magazine Neuron.

While the researchers at the ATR Computational Neuroscience Laboratories have only reproduced simple images from the brain, they said the technology could eventually be used to display dreams.

On the one hand, that would be pretty amazing... I can be quite astounded by what I see in dreams. However, you often don't have control over what you really see in dreams, so be careful! Don't want to record that weird naughty dream!

And what if you could record your visual thoughts while awake? Could we all turn into instant film directors? That would awesome. Though I'm guessing we don't have the thought capacity to turn out 1080i images...

The article also states:

Firstly they studied people's individual brain patterns by showing them some 400 different still images. They then showed volunteers the six letters in the word 'neuron' and succeeded in reconstructing the letters on a computer screen by measuring their brain activity.

I'd be interested in seeing what would happen when you have a visual feed-back loop... the viewer would then be able to consciously control the images, right? But I'd like to know what the experience might be like... what would it be like to think of a visual scene and then instantly see it? Because then you'd have to process the image again in your brain, and so the scene should be displayed yet again... but something would have to change... I'm wondering if you'd get some kind of weird morphing image, as your other thoughts interfere with what your mind's eye sees... which then effects what you see with your eyes, which effects what your mind's eye sees, etc etc.

Anyway, whether or not this is too good to be true (as I think dream recording is), this has given me a LOT of short story ideas... too bad they're probably all cliche...

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Cool library designs

My closest public (which I'm working at right now... and blogging at the same time... shhhh, don't tell anyone) is being renovated and added to. The new half of the library is almost finished. Woohoo! But these cool library designs sure make this library look pathetic...

Really kind of makes me wish I was an architect with a big budget...

When your mind disowns a limb

Here's an interesting Scientific American article (I really miss getting that magazine... someone buy me a subscription please):

... what if you could be fooled into thinking that one of your hands belonged to someone else? Scientists at the University of Oxford recently incited this false perception through an illusion—and they found that when people felt dissociated from a limb, their brain devoted less processing power toward that limb and even interfered with its temperature regulation. These findings, building on a smattering of other studies in disembodiment, suggest that the conscious mind’s control over basic body function is much stronger than scientists once thought.

Sounds kind of creepy... but also kind of fun!

Stupid dog

And I thought our dog was stupid...

I love to see this dog go through a maze made of soda cans.

Musical toy piano shirt

Yeah, I think I'll have to pass on this stupid looking thing...

Then again, I think I'd love it! I could come up with a really cool dance!!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Drink drive tester drove drunk

According to the article:

A US woman has been charged with drink-driving after she drove to a jail to test a suspected drink driver.

I guess after years of testing drunkards she felt she was missing out?

Monday, December 08, 2008

Beedle the Bard a movie?

According to this wee article:

WB is looking for ways to squeeze more out of Potter. According to one of our regular, reliable sources, they’re hoping to do it by digging deep into other J.K. Rowling work; specifically “The Tales of Beedle The Bard”.


None of these [five] stories [within the book] seems to have any connection to the other, which ought to make it difficult for Warners to fit them all into a single film. Could they be planning five movies? That would seem unwise. These are short stories after all, it’s unlikely there’s enough material in any one story to justify a feature film.

Because people have never turned short stories into films before...

Actually, I'd much rather see a J. K. Rowling story turned into a movie with more plot added rather than taken out, as they do with all the Harry Potter films. The Harry Potter stories aren't that spectacular to begin with; trimming the plot just makes it worse. If WB could get some talented screenwriters, they could certainly expand each of the stories into full-length films and make a huge sum. You want me to do it?

Or even better, turn them into musicals!

Why I procrastinate

It's actually very simple... you see...

The psychologist, from the University of Calgary, has subsequently formed an equation for why people procrastinate, which began by studying 250 college students.

The equation is U=EV/ID.

The 'U' stands for utility, or the desire to complete a given task. It is equal to the product of E, the expectation of success, and V the value of completion, divided by the product of I, the immediacy of the task, and D, the personal sensitivity to delay.

Since blogging this article had a U of 933, I simply couldn't procrastinate. Homework, however, usually had a U of 4, so I often procrastinated on that. I blame U! Some people might love U, but I hate U! I hate U, I hate U, I hate U.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Dark matter is 'just right' for life

According to this article:

A new model by a scientist has determined that the amount of dark matter in our Universe is 'just right' for life to emerge.

Gee, how long did it take scientists to figure this out? Duh! If the amount of dark matter were wrong, we wouldn't be here. Might as well say "Scientists determine we do exist" or "Scientists determine we will live until we die."

But, seriously, scientists are great. In reality, last night I was up late worrying that the amount of dark matter was wrong and that life hadn't emerged. I was so confused!

What do you think?

About anything? I'm trying to get my blog to be more popular by requesting participation, so... just... what do you think?

Friday, December 05, 2008

10 top reasons I hate lists

Geez, why are lists so popular? Who keeps reading these things? I'm sick of looking through my Google Reader and seeing "Top 10 This" and "Best 10 That" ... and most lists are way too subjective anyway. I've never come across a list I agreed with. Stop blogging lists, people. You're annoying me.