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Showing posts from June, 2013

Freaky Friday News: June 28, 2013

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Plants Do Division Earlier this week, there were several headlines proclaiming that "Plants Do Maths" because of some recently published research.  Always curious, I read a few articles before getting a bit frustrated because of the lack of explanation.  How do plants perform math?  And what math are they talking about?

I did a bit more research, and found the answer explained in paragraph of text.  Sigh.  Math is not English, folks.  That's why the words look nothing alike.  So without further ado, here's the formula that plants use:

F / T = G
where F = remaining food  
T = remaining time until daylight
G = rate of growth
The really cool thing here is that plants have a biological process that continually and dynamically calculates the rate of growth.  Scientists tried to trick the plants by faking early night and introducing an hour or two of sunlight in the middle of the night.  But the plants adjusted their growth to the conditions.

The implications of this findi…

Wordless Wednesday: Remote-Controlled Cockroach

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Toyota Still Helping Out Victims of Hurricane Sandy

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While most people and corporations stopped donating time and money to the victims of Hurricane Sandy, Toyota is still helping out. Earlier this year, Toyota made a video of how they helped a local food bank streamline their processes of packaging and delivering food to people in Rockaway (a part of Queens). Now, Toyota will pay for one meal for every view of the video, up to one million views.


So far, the video has just under 800,000 views, but I'm certain it will reach the million mark before July 19th, especially with your help.

Freaky Friday: June 21, 2013

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Welcome to this Friday's edition of Freaky News!  Today we have:
Boston School District Hands Out CondomsSupreme Court Reject AIDS Funding LawNorth Carolina and Racial BiasHPV Vaccine Works
Boston School District Hands Out Condoms In a show of common sense, the Boston School Committee voted unanimously to hand out free condoms in their 17 high schools.  A student needs to ask and attend a quick talk about safe sex. Then the condoms will flow!

I love that the school board is trying a logical, practical approach to lowering teenage pregnancy rates as well as the rates of STDs. I know that some people worry that providing condoms will increase teenage sex, but I have never read anything that supports this speculation.  Just the opposite, there is evidence that condom availability only influences whether or not a teen uses one (Guttmacher S, Lieberman L, Ward D, et al. Condom availability in New York City public high schools: relationships to condom use and sexual behavior. Am J Publi…

Wordless Wednesday: Spiderman Universe by Eric Guzman

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Wordless Wednesday: Baby Bunny

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Monday Madness!

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An Anatomically-Correct Gargoyle??!? A man in Arizona, David Smith, created a stir in his new neighborhood by placing a nine-foot tall metal statue of a gargoyle in his front yard.  The problem is that Mr. Smith attempted to make the gargoyle anatomically correct.  You can read up on the specifics on a variety of news websites, but what I find funny is that no one has asked the important question here.

How does Mr. Smith know what an anatomically correct gargoyle look like?

After all, gargoyles are not real.  A male gargoyle might look like a female until time to procreate.  Then he might suddenly have a violin sprout between his legs, that magically transforms into a bar of dark chocolate that the female eats to get pregnant.  It's all make believe.

Arizona Haters Smacked Down by Supreme Court Today, the Supreme Court rejected the Arizona law requiring people to provide proof of US citizenship to register for federal elections.  I actually did a little happy dance for this one, …

The CIA and Facebook Walk Into a Bar....

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Two years ago, the Onion New Network did a parody of Facebook and the CIA.  They reported on how the CIA extended the funding for their biggest information gathering platform - Facebook.




When I first saw this video, I laughed out loud.  Who would have thought that the Onion News Network actually came close to the truth?

While some people think that the CIA has a connection to Facebook, I find the facts scary enough without attempting to add in potential back door connections.  The fact that I'm speaking of?  In 1999, the CIA created its own venture capital company, In-Q-Tel, for the purpose of utilizing the private sector to create new technologies applicable to intelligence gathering. (For more information, see the CIA website.)

To be clear here, that means that the CIA is using tax money from the American people to create technology to spy on the American people.

Since 1999, In-Q-Tel has contributed to over 130 technological advances that help intelligence gathering, from crea…

Wordless Wednesday: Printed Food

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Book Review: "Dead Ever After" by Charlaine Harris

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Dead Ever After by Charlaine Harris
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

"Dead Ever After" begins right after "Deadlocked" ended. Sam's recovering from his death and rebirth, Sookie wonders what is happening with Eric, and Eric is still dealing with his marriage contract to Freyda, Queen of Oklahoma. Overall, the book begins on a depressing note that doesn't lift until the very end.

Ms. Harris changes the format of this book, having different chapters narrated by different characters. I like how this lets the reader hear first hand all the intricacies of plot as they happen, as opposed to a second-hand telling afterwards. And intricacies abound here, as various people from the past novels show up, all with one thing in mind - kill Sookie.

(Side note: There are a few "mystery" characters here that I had to look up as I read, because I'd forgotten who these people where.)

The main plot of this book revolves around Sookie discovering who is trying so h…

False Freedom

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This past week, the ugly truth about the NSA and our federal government stole headlines as people realize that all of our Internet communication, from emails to blog posts to status updates, has been collected indiscriminately by those who should be protecting our privacy and liberty.

I have known for years that the government collected information directly from the Internet, in black boxes hooked up directly to the T1s and other data lines that create the backbone.  These boxes appeared with no warning, and no oversight.   A quick installation and bam!  Instant access to... well, everything.

What the media has so far missed is that the federal government has been spying on its citizens since the 1990s, well before even George W. Bush became president.  Someone smartly decided that the Internet would be huge, and put in these boxes early on.  Who knows how many terabytes of data the government has already collected.

The question now is - what are we going to do about it?  Listen to …

Remember Soldiers and War

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I must have written this post a dozen times, but each time I deleted it because it didn't quite fit what I want to say.  So I apologize for the lateness.

Every Memorial Day, I feel a bit strange about the whole picnic and pool party scene.  I like going to hang out with friends as much as the next person, but I feel conflicted about our country's current military situation.  We are in wars that are based on lies and prejudices; our politicians seem poised on the verge of getting us into more military conflicts; veterans affairs does not have enough resources to help our current set of veterans, nevertheless those waiting for a discharge.

The problem is that while I support the men and women who volunteer to protect our country, I don't think our country supports them enough.  I understand the need for a military (though I think we as humans can overcome this need, but that's a different conversation), and I understand the need to show strength on the world stage.  But…