Nov 30, 2009

The History of Data Storage

Geekologie has posted a wonderful "history" of data storage, from floppy disks to flash drives. It's really amazing to see just how quickly we've come in such a short amount of time. Even as I type this, I feel like it's already out of date.

Nov 29, 2009

Animatronic Head

I really, honestly have to admit that this is by far one of the creepiest videos I've posted on the blog in a while. Technology is truly getting out of hand when the animatronic heads we produce look real, and not real in that "banana" flavor we get in candy, but real in a real way, like in the video above. It's only :20 long, but it's quite haunting to see that we've reached the point that we can duplicate humanity with such ease. Blech.

Half-Life 2 Casting

I have been oddly obsessed with the world of 'Half-Life' for the last couple of weeks. It's not as though I have a reason to. I haven't been playing the games, not any one of them. I haven't so much as thought about the games, really, but I keep running across creative depictions of the game(s), so I feel obliged to blog about them. Hmmm.

Nov 24, 2009

Bill Bryson's Notes From a Large Hadron Collider

I have been obsessed with Bill Bryson's books for the last several months, so occasionally I'll enter his name into the Google News search engine and see what's happening with the country's favorite travelogue writer from across the pond-slash-Iowa. Today I found the following morsel of writing.

From The Times Online:

In the event that it fell to you to identify the most exciting place on the planet, the likelihood is small, I imagine, that you would pack a bag and travel at once to Switzerland. Still less, I dare say, would you turn your back on Geneva and head out past its western suburbs and into the pleasant but uneventful countryside beyond. There, in a broad valley shared with France, stands a collection of buildings that look like the leftovers from a 1960s Festival of Bad Design.

This is it. You have found it. This is CERN, the European Organisation for Nuclear Research. Over the next few days the people who run the place will cautiously restart the immensely large machine (almost 27 kilometres around) known as the Large Hadron Collider and begin swooshing particles around it in a way that will, when it is fully humming, recreate conditions as they were in the Universe one millionth of a millionth of a second after the beginning of the big bang.

Read the entire article here.

Nov 23, 2009


This is a mod - of sorts - that approximates Contra re-made in Half-Life, with pretty awesome level design and all of the sound effects you know and love from Contra.

Nov 22, 2009

Google Banning Scammy Advertisements

From Consumerist:

At last, someone has taken a stand against the tooth whitener ad menace. It's no tiny or obscure ad network: it's Google. The company has decided to live up to its "don't be evil" motto and ban advertisers who place ads that lead to sites peddling products like scammy free trials, get-rich-quick schemes, and malware. Previously, they would ban individual ads, but not advertisers.

Nov 17, 2009

Harlan Ellison Discussing the Inception of Scientology

Scooby Doo Zombie Tee

Over at Threadless, you can find this awesome take on Scooby Doo (in the time of the zombie apocalypse). Dibs.

Nov 16, 2009

Lou Dobbs's $8 Million Buyout

From Think Progress:

Although Lou Dobbs has been saying that his departure from CNN was an “amicable parting on the best of terms,” the New York Post reports that CNN wanted him gone so badly that it gave him an $8 million severance package. Dobbs “had a year and a half to go on his $12 million contract.” He’ll be appearing on Fox News tonight to talk with Bill O’Reilly, who has called the former CNN host a “stand-up guy.”

Just the Deaths, Ma'am. Total Recall in Retrospect

A part of me thinks that I should be horrified by the idea of reducing the entirety of 'Total Recall' down to the deaths. It takes the legs out from under the argument that the violence is a mere adornment to the 'art' that is a film like 'Total Recall'. The early 90s was an awesome time for action films and a murky period for those in favor of free expression. The violence run amok in 'Total Recall' is nearing upon ridiculous. Meh. It's a pretty cool video, and nearly as entertaining as the movie itself, so enjoy.

Mortal Kombat 3 - The Supreme Demonstration

I really miss loving Mortal Kombat 3. Sometimes I wish I could still muster the same kind of enthusiasm for it that I could a decade ago. Good times.

28 Songs. 7 Min 48 Secs. Mario Paint.

I know I've been a little too enamored of showcasing these videos on the blog, but I swear that most of them are worth the watch, including this one. It's a simple trick, and not necessarily deserving of ultimate praise, but I have mucho respect for anyone willing to spend this much time on such outmoded technology to make something so impressive.

And, because I'm on a quest to find the most awesome / weirdest 'Ghostbusters' stuff on the internet, here is the theme on Mario Paint. It's entirely flawed, but I couldn't find a superior version, so here you go.

Nov 8, 2009

Alex the Genius Parrot

From NPR:

Alex the famous African gray parrot, renowned for the landmark cognition research conducted by owner Dr. Irene Pepperberg, Ph.D., has died at the age of 31 [2007]. By learning elements of the English language to identify shapes, colors and sizes, Alex shattered the notion that parrots are only capable of mimicking words.

According to Pepperberg who is a faculty member at Brandeis University, Alex was able to identify 50 different objects, seven colors and shapes, and quantities of up to six. Alex also understood the concept of bigger and smaller and same and different. Pepperberg says they were in the midst of learning basic mathematics skills.

Alex the Parrot, An Apt Student, Passes Away

Nov 7, 2009

'Daybreakers' Trailer

Lightning May Contain Anti-Matter

From Science News:

Designed to scan the heavens thousands to billions of light-years beyond the solar system for gamma rays, the Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope has also picked up a shocking vibe from Earth. During its first 14 months of operation, the flying observatory has detected 17 gamma-ray flashes associated with terrestrial storms — and some of those flashes have contained a surprising signature of antimatter.

What is Antimatter? I'm not really sure. But according to Wikipedia,

In particle physics, antimatter is the extension of the concept of the antiparticle to matter, where antimatter is composed of antiparticles in the same way that normal matter is composed of particles. For example, an antielectron (a positron, an electron with a positive charge) and an antiproton (a proton with a negative charge) could form an antihydrogen atom in the same way that an electron and a proton form a normal matter hydrogen atom.

It reminds me of the music scale, where an A# (A-sharp) is also a Bb (B-flat), except antimatter is much more complicated.


An Unexpected Scratch

Running Twice a Day is Beneficial

I had always heard that running twice a day, like lifting weights twice a day, is ultimately bad for you, since the muscles you use need time to rest and rebuild, but apparently that is not true.

According to Runner's World:

By running more often, you reap the same fitness benefits you get when you boost the duration and intensity of any one run: reduced body fat, increased VO2 max, and improved muscle tone. You just get those benefits sooner.

The article stresses that you work in the second daily workout slowly, doing it only twice a week and backing off the length of the original, longer workout so that your body can effectively catch up.

[DOUBLE DUTY: Run twice a day to get stronger and faster—sooner.]

A Letter on Evolution: The 'Religion' of Evolution

My growing fascination with the way we use language, and indeed how it changes, is the impetus behind posting this video...and also its message, I admit.

Language is indeed very powerful and yet something which changes frequently. In microscopic steps, it seems sometimes. An entire debate can hinge - as often the evolution debate does - on semantics, on whether people "believe" in evolution.

And yet, this is how scientists are "losing" this "debate". It's really a non-debate, and scientists aren't losing the debate. They're losing the PR battle. Every year - I won't say every day, though this distinction may be accurate - new evidence solidifying the relative truth of evolution is revealed (as much as anything can be "true").

This is the place where the rub happens. Scientists believe - there's that word again - that nothing can be known in an absolute way. It is not belief, as the video suggests, in a blind sort of way. So that's why there is a "debate".

I could, if I had the time and patience and desire, begin to dispute any number of scientific realities and end up turning the tide on them. That may sound arrogant, but it's not. It's a disparity between the way the two camps discuss the issue. I am no more capable than anyone (who is not a scientist) of disproving scientific data, but since I realize that disputing something in today's world creates a "debate", then I am already halfway to the point of converting people to my side.

Creationists/IDers are just the same as the PR folks who work for cigarette companies. They hire (Read: pay) scientists to say that "there is no known link between cigarettes and cancer". And there are people who say that trans fats actually clear arteries, rather than clog them. That Elvis is still alive. That George Bush was responsible for 9/11.

Nov 6, 2009

Babies and Accents

The BBC is reporting on a study conducted on children, to see whether or not they develop accents before they begin speaking.

German researchers say babies begin to pick up the nuances of their parents' accents while still in the womb.

Writing in the journal Current Biology, they say the babies are probably trying to form a bond with their mothers by imitating them.

[Do Babies Have Accents?]

Nov 5, 2009

Evil Dead Re-Release

From Geek Tyrant:

Grindhouse Releasing is bringing Sam Raimi’s original horror classic THE EVIL DEAD back to the big screen as a midnight movie.

Raimi and producers Robert Tapert and Bruce Campbell gave the go-ahead for a series of EVIL DEAD revival screenings to Grindhouse Releasing partner Bob Murawski, the film editor of Raimi’s SPIDER MAN 1, 2 & 3, DRAG ME TO HELL and the EVIL DEAD sequel ARMY OF DARKNESS.

I don't think my excitement at this moment can be quantified.

Nov 3, 2009

Character Alignment Grid

List of Zombie/Undead-Related Video Games

Thank you Wikipedia:

This is a selected list of video games with an undead theme, containing games featuring undead as the central theme or a major theme. Subjects for an undead theme may include zombies, vampires or ghosts. It also covers werewolves which can be portrayed as allies of the undead.

Ever Heard of the 'Badwater Ultramarathon'?

From the site for the Badwater Ultramarathon:

AdventureCORPS, Inc., an event production firm specializing in ultra-endurance and extreme sports events, hosts the Badwater Ultramarathon in July of each year. Recognized globally as "the world's toughest foot race," this legendary event pits up to 90 of the world's toughest athletes—runners, triathletes, adventure racers, and mountaineers—against one another and the elements. Covering 135 miles (217km) non-stop from Death Valley to Mt. Whitney, CA in temperatures up to 130F (55c), it is the most demanding and extreme running race offered anywhere on the planet.

If you think that's hardcore in and of itself, you should check out the rules and time requirements - YES, THERE ARE TIME REQUIREMENTS FOR THIS RACE - so you don't mistake yourself for being badass. The Rules. It's not enough that you finish this bastard of a run, but you must get your happy ass off the course by hour 60, or they'll do it for you.

Not only that, but you're not allowed to merely sign up for the race and show up on the start date. You have to apply for the race and hope you get in. You have to reveal your running resume, so to speak, and there's no guarantee you'll get in. In fact, they only allow 90 competitors per year. Wow.

Many Muslims Adopting Old-Earth Creationism

Also from The New York Times:

Creationism is growing in the Muslim world, from Turkey to Pakistan to Indonesia, international academics said last month as they gathered here to discuss the topic. But, they said, young-Earth creationists, who believe God created the universe, Earth and life just a few thousand years ago, are rare, if not nonexistent.

This article is a veritable font of knowledge on the subject of Old Earth Creationism and Muslims, but I wonder how many people are shocked that in this modern era of religiosity that such a form of dogma could arise. I'm no more shocked than when seeing mountain people dig rattlesnakes out of pine boxes and kiss them, or people honestly attest to Jesus coming to America to be a prophet to the American Indians.

The article goes on to say more about this phenomenon in the context of Islam:

For many Muslims, even evolution and the notion that life flourished without the intervening hand of Allah is largely compatible with their religion. What many find unacceptable is human evolution, the idea that humans evolved from primitive primates. The Koran states that Allah created Adam, the first man, separately out of clay.

Pervez A. Hoodbhoy, a prominent atomic physicist at Quaid-e-Azam University in Pakistan, said that when he gave lectures covering the sweep of cosmological history from the Big Bang to the evolution of life on Earth, the audience listened without objection to most of it. “Everything is O.K. until the apes stand up,” Dr. Hoodbhoy said.

What we're seeing is not necessarily a dogged denouncement of science as a whole, but only in how science seems to explain the rise of humans out of the ranks of certain other primates. vs. The FCC

From The New York Times:

It [The FCC] has long believed that the company that owns is deliberately diverting people from a government-mandated site where consumers can get free credit reports by law, and using the reports as a lure for a $14.95 monthly service that alerts subscribers to important changes in their credit status.

A Free Credit Score Followed by a Monthly Bill

Nov 2, 2009

Scamville: The Social Gaming Ecosystem of Hell

Want to know why and how those tacky little games - Farmville and Mob Wars - have taken over Facebook? Head over to TechCruch and you can find out why and how they continue to thrive.

From TechCrunch:

In short, these games try to get people to pay cash for in game currency so they can level up faster and have a better overall experience. Which is fine. But for users who won’t pay cash, a wide variety of “offers” are available where they can get in-game currency in exchange for lead gen-type offers. Most of these offers are bad for consumers because it confusingly gets them to pay far more for in-game currency than if they just paid cash (there are notable exceptions, but the scammy stuff tends to crowd out the legitimate offers). And it’s also bad for legitimate advertisers.

[Scamville: The Social Ecosystem of Hell]

Jon Krakauer on The Daily Show

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This video is a couple of weeks old, but the controversy surrounding Jon Krakauer's book and the untimely death of Pat Tillman still rages on, as is evident in Krakauer's recent criticism of military officials over the circumstances of the soldier's death.

I just finished 'Into the Wild' (last night, actually) and just started 'Into Thin Air'. I'm beginning to think Jon Krakauer is sort of a big deal, so I'll probably be posting a lot of interviews and such from him over the coming weeks, so consider youself lucky. Krakauer is a monster of a journalist, and I can't wait to get to 'Where Men Win Gloy'.

Nov 1, 2009

Top 10 Tales From the Crypt Episodes

Some of Cinemassacre's episodes are just fine (especially 'And All Through the House', but I think some of the better ones are missing. Most of my faves come from the first two seasons, and go as follows:

'Dig That Cat...He's Real Gone' - This one's about a guy (Joey "Pants" Pantoliano) who gets nine lives because he gets a cat's gland, and uses them to make tons of cash cheating death as a carnival performer. You can only guess how it ends up.

'Dead Right' - Demi Moore and Jeffrey Tambor are dead-on in this episode, in which a foxy Moore is told by a fortune teller that she will inherit a ton of money after her disgusting (and disgustingly obese) beau (Tambor) dies. The only problem is that she doesn't know if she can stay with him that long. The episode has a great payoff. Totally worth watching.

'Korman's Kalamity' - Harry Anderson (of Night Court fame) plays a comic book artists whose drawings come to life and destroy his. It's a wacky episode, full of a kind of humor singular to 'Tales from the Crypt', and it doesn't take itself too seriously, which makes it easy to watch more than once.

And my personal favorite: 'Television Terror'

'Television Terror' sort of paved the way for movies like 'The Blair Witch Project' and (sadly) 'Halloween: Resurrection'. In it, Morton Downey, Jr. (who is effing awesome in the role) plays a slimy and desperate television journalist (i.e. 90s era Geraldo Rivera) brings a camera crew into a haunted house live on air, and the results are, well, disturbing.

Bioshock 2 - Creepy New Images

If you've been feening for a Bioshock 2 fix, head over to Playstation Lifestyle to check out some creepy new pics from the upcoming game. They're certainly not going to disappoint.

[Bioshock 2 Gets Creepy with New Images]