Thursday, October 24, 2013

A Disturbing Little Tour Of Rogue Taxidermy

Rogue Taxidermy is a folk-art form where you use dead animal parts to create some new, unique creature that never could have existed... but should have! So appropriate for Halloween.

The folk art form of rogue taxidermy seems to be rooted in the midwestern United States, and can be considered a hallmark of Midwest Gothic. The most famous group is the Minnesota Association of Rogue Taxidermists. One typical truckstop chimera is the jackalope:
Rogue taxidermists got so carried away with the jackalope thing that they managed to infuse the critter into the North American culture at large, and now no roadside truckstop is complete without a mounted jackalope head on the wall. There's jackalope tattoos and faux nature documentaries and hundreds of photo manipulations. Jackalopes are world famous, a triumph of rogue taxidermy! Future popularity to a similar degree may be won for the hodag:
Or the fur-bearing trout:
As you can imagine, there's a huge crossover between the rogue taxidermy and cryptozoology worlds. Whether through intentional attempts to hoax the public, or tongue-in-cheek attempts to hoax the hoaxers by going "Look, I found one!"

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Several resources about Quantum Entanglement

Since we now have our first experiment demonstrating that time is an emergent quantum phenomenon, it's about time we rounded up some info on this quantum entanglement idea and see if we can corner it.

The Wiki.

A friendly introduction to the fundamental problem we're trying to solve:

Here's Neil DeGrasse Tyson explaining it some more:
So what's the big deal? Putting it into the most basic possible terms: We've observed small particles in the universe that act like they're "talking to each other" and determining how to be, even after they're separated and shouldn't be able to affect each other. It's like we can slice a red apple in half, put each half in a box and send the two boxes to opposite sides of the world, then have somebody open one box and paint their half of the apple green, and then when somebody on the other side of the world opens the box with their half-apple in it, it's turned green too.

And we don't know how this works. We've been trying to find out since the time of Einstein. Einstein himself called this "a spooky action at a distance."

Not only are we observing the effect that two particles can have on each other, and not only is it instantaneous (defying everything we know about the speed of information alone), but it appears to even be possible to have the same thing happen when the entangled elements are separated not only by space, but time as well. So Israeli scientists have made photons affect each other even when they didn't coexist at the same time.

So either we're dead wrong about this, or we have a way to both time travel and teleport either information or physical actions instantly. It could be a flaw in our reasoning based on some fundamental shortcoming of human perception and reasoning.

A LiveScience infographic:

And finally, quantum entanglement has been simulated within the world of, of all things, Minecraft.

Are we nuts? Maybe. Maybe the universe is nuts, too.

Monday, September 9, 2013

A second gallery of mathematical cranks, wanks, and wonks

Continued from part one, this will be a second look at the many purveyors of woo in the math world. Fascinating though they are...

Radiant Primes

OK, we'll start with a gentle example. This guy... might be right, it seems to check out. But his idea of taking prime numbers, converting them to another base, reversing the digits, converting that number back, and then checking if it's composite or prime and then (are you still following?) plotting the result in dots on a graph produces a picture that's pretty much the random static noise you'd expect to get with some radial lines raining down. He explains the process lucidly here. It makes a pretty cellular automata, but I don't see what he's so excited about. This isn't crank math so much as it's a fundamental failure to understand how math research works.

"God Almighty's Grand Unified Theorem" (GAGUT)

Oooooh, we have a live one! It's hard to tell if this is math though, or if the passion of this person's vision transcends the simple arts of calculus altogether. Anyway, any page written in ALLCAPS that yells "GOD!!!" this many times is a guaranteed winner. Diving deeper into the site, however, reveals a lot more ALLCAPS raving and not a hell of a lot of math. But I noticed an awful lot of focus on race (pro-black) including one link that insists God elected Obama. Then you find this:

...clicky to biggy, and you'll find the biggest equation to nutting ratio on the site, and that's just one unexplained line. Yes, I see, the capital G is God. Now what?

Truth Evolutionism

Now this guy sounds like the Time Cube guy on Prozac.
"So sciences about largest negative action pursuit, largest happiness pursuit, largest profit pursuit and largest knowledge pursuit are unified into one: Science of Pursuit"
 Right, but how does that help us get laid? I confess that this guy loses me every other sentence, so I can't so much trace reasoning flaws because I can't follow the reasoning. The guy just won't slow down and let the rest of us catch up to the monologue in his head.
"In Truth Evolutionism, every existence origins from perturbation in nihility. So its ultimate goal is to find the evolution process from perturbation to existence and the best methods for expansion."
 "Physicists have discovered least action principle, so basic natural laws are best methodology to pursue negative action. So for systems with the same mathematical expression as negative action, basic natural laws will be their best methodology."
"This is an objective truth standard. Larger system won more attention, respect and even worship from human beings. You can imagine, if there were a system larger than universe, its laws will be worshiped better than "natural laws", and treated as more important truth than natural laws. With the objective truth standard, the system with the largest possibility to be observed contains ultimate truth."
Dammit man, slow the hell DOWN! This sounds like you could cook up a philosophy here, if only you'd quit nouning verbs and dropping 'the's!

Return to Socrates

Right at the top, we start out with "Ideas, Philosophy, Science, Software, God, Universe, Randomness" - Which leads me to my own first theory of math cranks: If you're trying to tackle more than two big ideas in one paper, you're probably a crank. This guy has also been in business a long time, and makes reference to readers and even a message board for open discussion at one time. But, weird for an admirer of Socrates, his primary mathematical fixation seems to be on gambling. We're in luck, probability math happens to be one of my favorite fields. Anyway, he starts out attacking the lottery for not paying true odds. Correct so far; I think all lotteries should be burned to the ground. As soon as he starts rattling about betting systems, I set my Ctrl-F for "Martingale" and bingo!

Yep, crank. For those of you wondering, a Martingale system is one where you try to recover previous losses by doubling your bet or using some other complex betting pattern. The problem where all Martingales fail is that they fall against the casino concept of a "table limit":

That limit stops you from doubling your bet infinitely; eventually you'll lose big, and then you'll never get it back. And then right after Martingale you get the famous gambler's fallacy, stated so well by our "expert" here:
"What you need is a notebook and a pencil. Write down the last roulette spins, from the oldest one available to the most recent spin. Do not start playing until you have at least 42 spins on your piece of paper. I prefer a small notebook with 20 rule lines. Multiples of 10 or 20 make it easy to count quickly the number of roulette spins. Use the roulette report that follows as the template (rows and columns). "
...the gambler's fallacy, explained in Wikipedia, is the fallacy of believing that past trials dictate future trials; in other words, if the wheel comes up red six spins in a row, then the gambler's fallacy would have it that black is a good bet right now because "the law of averages" say that red has less of a chance coming up now. The problem here is that the roulette wheel has no memory! Neither does any other random device - the dice don't know which number's "turn" it is to come up, your coin does not know that it's "supposed to" come up heads next toss because it just tossed five tails in a row.

Still, this guy's a real card. He's got books he's sold, casinos he's gotten into fights with... He's got his racket, he's happy.

Well, that runs my bookmark list dry. Til next time, True Believers!

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Trivia Gibs #5

Napoleon was not French, but Corsican. Hitler was not German, but Austrian. Stalin was not Russian, but Georgian.

The country with the lowest average IQ is Sudan, with an average of 72. The country with the highest is Hong Kong, with an average of 107. The United States isn't even in the top 10. This, according to the book "IQ and the Wealth of Nations", grain of salt prescribed.

North Dakota has the lowest divorce rate (8.1%) in the United States, where the average for the country is 3.4 per 1000. Of divorced women, more than one-fourth of them are under the age of twenty.

The sun loses an average equivalent of one Earth every 100,000,000 years because of radiation. Solar wind wipes out another one-fourth of that mass in the same time period.

A nanocentury is exactly Pi seconds long.

If you stored the Library of Congress on computers, you would only need less than 30 terabytes.

Being able to quit smoking easily and not have it bother you can be a positive thing - or an early sign of Alzheimer's disease.

The composer of the battle hymn "Onward, Christian Soldiers," Sabine Baring-Gould, also kept a pet bat - which was so tame that he'd greet guests with it perched on his shoulder.

Which movie script is the most foul-mouthed? "Pulp Fiction"? "South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut"? Not even close! In terms of dropping the F-bomb, the winning film so far is "Tigerland" (2000), with an F-word count of 527 for a 100-minute film - working out to five f***s per minute!

We bless sneezes with "God bless you" because it was ordained so by Pope Gregory the Great in the year 600 AD, by official papal decree. So there.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

How one hack for playing a TRON lightcycle game went on an Apple IIgs

Folks, I was there in those ancient days of computing yore, and reading pixels off the screen for collision detection was exactly how I did games, too. I even still have code that does that lying around somewhere for some silly screensaver modules I wrote. Anyway:
"The algorithm to determine which pixel to check next used some fast assembler math to calculate a memory address – either one pixel above, below, to the left, or to the right of the current pixel.  But since any given pixel on the screen was really just a memory address, the algorithm simply calculated a new memory location to read.  So when the light cycle left the screen, the game happily calculated the next location in system memory to check for a wall crash.  This meant that the cycle was now cruising through system RAM, wantonly turning on bits and “crashing” into memory.

Writing to random locations in system memory isn't generally a wise design practice. Unsurprisingly, the game would generate spectacular crashes as a result.  A human player would be driving blind and usually crash right away, limiting the scope of system casualties.  The AI opponents had no such weakness.  The computer would scan immediately in front, to the left, and to the right of its position to determine if it was about to hit a wall and change directions accordingly.  So as far as the computer was concerned, system memory looked no different than screen memory."
Real Life Tron on an Apple IIgs

You young'uns might recognize this game better as 'Snake' as played on your phone.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Paul the Psychic Octopus

From 2008 to 2010, a pet octopus named "Paul" was given the rather burdensome chore of predicting the outcome of World Cup soccer matches. His handlers would put food into two boxes at a time, each box decorated with the flag of their respective country's teams, then whichever one Paul decided to chow down on first would be the predicted winner. Over his two-year career, Paul got it right 11 out of 13 times.

Of course, nobody's really suggesting that Paul was following soccer games. Rather, plain old luck doesn't put the odds too far away - one might get the same sort of record flipping a coin. Some have speculated that Paul was attracted to flags with horizontal stripes, which just raises the question of why countries with horizontally-striped flags should win soccer matches more often.

Paul was the subject of international fame - for an octopus, anyway - and was widely missed after his passing at old age of octopus years. And just when this story couldn't get any sillier, there's conspiracy theories around his passing.

Here's Paul in action during one of his televised picks:

Paul and his handler also got death threats and recipe suggestions after Paul's predictions proved accurate:
OK, now that's silly enough!

Monday, July 29, 2013

The curious case of James R. Todino, the stranded time traveler

Time travel hoaxes are popular surreal pranks. I've mentioned John Titor before as being one of the greatest Internet pranksters of the time-traveller genre. But what can you do about a guy who's really convinced that he's a time traveller?

Such was the conundrum facing the maintainers over at the Museum of Hoaxes, who was one of many at the beginning of the century to receive spam emails asking for someone to sell the subject a "dimensional warp generator." The email went into great detail about specs for this device, which would include 512GB of RAM and a menu-driven GUI.

It turned out that the emails were being sent out by a known professional spammer who also happened to be delusionally insane. Wired breaks the straight story. Far from being a time traveller, Todino was a perfectly ordinary 22-year-old with a father in this present day who was worried about his son's mental illnesses being exploited by scammers online.

Make no mistake about it, this is actually a common problem with spammers. If you've ever received spam and wondered "who would ever fall for this?", the answer is, "nobody, actually, but authors of spam software and systems prey on gullible people who think they can make millions sending out spam. Big fleas got little fleas on their backs to bite 'em!

Todino (like the mythical John Titor, whom, remember, has never been positively identified) gained widespread Internet fame and cultural tribute, making this list of time travel claims, and being famous enough that there's dozens of accounts claiming to be him on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and so forth.

Sadly, no verifiable interviews with Todino exist on YouTube. So for second prize, here's a different kook who raves about time travel conspiracy theories:

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Japanese sewer system makes an excellent place to stage a Quake match

That's a normal-sized person on the floor of the place. The storm sewer system underground in Saitama, Japan, is one of the largest in the world and a steady tourist attraction.
Saitama has a population of about 1.2 million, making it the most populous cities in the prefecture. And situated where it is on the coast and Japan being prone to the sea-related disasters as it is, the storm control system is no joke.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Norwegian town engineers mirrors reflecting sunlight to shine into town during dark winter months

I know this isn't the first time this has been done, but the town of Rjukan, Norway, is installing mirrors on top of local mountains to reflect light into the town square during the sunless winter months of the far north.

I always love stories like this, because they show off the clever audacity of the crafty ape we call man.

A related concept is that of daylighting, where architectural measures are taken to treat buildings with natural sunlight where possible.

And I mentioned this has been done before; specifically, in Viganella, Italy, mirrors were constructed on local mountaintops to reflect sunlight into the city's valley, which, due to the depth of the valley, was resigned to shadows for so long in the year. Here's the trailer for the documentary about Viganella's mirror:

Oh, and the town of Rattenberg, Austria, also did the same thing, for the same reason as Rjukan.

Monday, July 22, 2013

If it walks like a duck, eats like a duck, and shits like a duck... might only be a mechanical "digesting" duck.

Such was one of the iconic inventions of the dawn of the mechanical age, "The Duck." The steampunk creature of clockwork limbs could not only move, but simulate eating food and - sparing no effort in attention to detail - pass droppings as well, although the actual product was pre-stored and didn't involve actual biological digestion.
Such was the invention of Jacques de Vaucanson, widely considered to be one of the fathers of robotics or at least automata. He created this duck in 1738, for demos to the elite, using it to finance further creations.

Before you scoff too loudly at such frivolity, keep in mind that Vaucanson's major accomplishments included automated, programmable looms, which could be programmed with punch cards - in 1745. Later this same media storage format would be used to input data into the world's first computers.

You can still generate a punched-card design at emulators like this. I would recommend the 'bcd' command from the bsdgames package on Unix systems, but that's such lost technology that it's barely worth mentioning.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Get hit by lightning seven times; kill yourself at age 71 by gunshot

Roy Sullivan got into the Guinness Book of World Records as having been struck by lightning seven times - and survived them all! This was seven separate incidents, mind you, over a period of years from 1942 to 1977. He also claimed an eighth strike which happened to him as a child, but never bothered to record it.

Perhaps bothered too much by the way God seemed to have it in for him, he committed suicide by gunshot at age 71. His experience, however, form an important contribution to the specialized medical field of Keraunopathy - the study of the effects of lightning strikes on the human body.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Who built the ruins on Malden Island?

Malden Island is a tiny uninhabited dot of land sticking up smack in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, part of what is today the Republic of Kiribati. It was discovered by a British sea captain in 1825. And upon discovery of this tiny ~15 square-mile island, a mystery was born.

Specifically, the uninhabited island was the site of many stone structures, including the ruins of "temples" or at least monolithic, temple-like structures. Nobody knows who could have put them there. To this day, your theory is as good as anybody else's.

Very little else is known about or written about this site; however, I did find one crackling good conspiracy theorist who classifies it as 'forbidden archeology.'

Friday, July 19, 2013

Thursday, July 18, 2013

What was up with the green children of Woolpit?

Of all the feral children stories, the green children of Woolpit seem the most curious. They were two Flemish children who walked up to farmers in Suffolk, England, in the 12th century. The children, a boy and a girl, both had green skin. After dumping a fanciful story of a distant twilight land called "Saint Martin", which may or may not have been true, the children were adopted into the community and eventually went on to live normal lives and regain normal skin color.

It turns out that the skin pigment could have been a symptom of a nutritional deficiency, called 'hypochromic anemia.' Similar to how leaves turn color in the fall, the lack of red blood cell pigmentation simply leaves other elements of the body to lend a skin color instead.

Whatever you do, do not search Google images for 'hypochromic anemia'. They're not nearly as pretty as you're picturing it.

But perhaps encounters with people afflicted with this condition accounts for widespread folklore tales of little green elves, gnomes, leprechauns, and other mythical humanoids - maybe they were just malnourished, and so short, and anemic.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Well, I guess I have to post "Malice in Wonderland" (NSFW or the timid)

You can't tell me this wasn't Cyriac's first classroom project.

Edmund Trebus, notorious hoarder

In Crouch End, North London, Trebus was constantly at odds with police over his hoarding behavior. He would come home with wheelbarrows of trash and lovingly sort it into piles in his home and yard. Amongst his many acquisitions were almost every record recorded by Elvis Presley.

Despite these problems, he lived to the age of 83.

Today he stands as one of history's most famous hoarders.

One wonders why more researchers don't tie hoarding disease to rampant capitalism. When you build an entire society based on owning more and more crap, what can you expect but that some people take it to an extreme?

Now go clean your house.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Wacky medieval laws

During the height of witch-hunting in the 15th century, there was a book published in Germany that was a sort of "Witch-Hunting for Dummies" guide, name of Malleus Maleficarum.

Full page scans available at Cornell's online repository, and while you're there, they have a few other witch-related tomes to check out for all your witchery needs. There's also a full site devoted to this and other witch-related beliefs, even into the present day.

But even practices for catching plain old criminals wasn't much better. For instance, there was the process of cruentation, in which an accused murderer was brought together with the corpse of the presumed victim and ordered to lay their hands upon the carcass. If the dead body should then spontaneously begin bleeding from its wounds, that would be a sign from on high that the defendant was guilty. One can only imagine how many murderers got off scott-free.

Many such practices are covered in the blanket category of "Trial by Ordeal," where you get all the variations on tying you up and throwing you into the river to see if you sink or swim, or plunging your hand into boiling water to see if God healed you, or simply swallowing poison, or other such life-jeopardizing trials. In some cases, surviving the ordeal unscathed meant that God had declared you innocent, while in other areas it was considered just the opposite proof, that you had escaped by the Devil's aide.

Then there was the practice of compurgation, a law which meant that you could be found innocent if you could find twelve people who said they believed your side of the story. Well, who couldn't scare up twelve friends?

One more curiosity is the German principle of "stadtluft macht frei," a kind of statue-of-limitations where if a serf had managed to escape capture for a year-and-a-day, they was no longer open to being re-chained.

And for a final medieval law oddity, animals could be tried in a court of law exactly as if they were human.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Space dreamer answers childhood call to destiny

A NASA / DARPA plan is underway to launch a "100-year" spaceship for deep space exploration. But while that's interesting of itself, I was struck by this wild anecdote:
"When Jack Sarfatti was 13 years old, he began receiving phone calls from a strange metallic voice that told him he would someday become part of an elite group of scientists exploring uncharted territory. Those calls, which he believes may have come from a computer on a spacecraft, proved a seminal influence on his life and led him to pursue a career that combined mainstream physics with an enduring interest in UFOs and the far-out reaches of science."
The program is just one of many ambitious attempts to kick the human race into its interstellar travel era. So far, Voyager is still the most distant man-made object in the universe, and it's just crossing the threshold out of our solar system. As Cecil Adams points out in this Straight Dope column:
"Then again, the thinking goes, if you can pinpoint where to look, you can accomplish seemingly miraculous feats. Just ask the project team for Voyager 1, which is still communicating with a spacecraft so far away its incoming radio signals have less than a twenty-billionth the power of a watch battery.

But let’s put that in perspective. Voyager 1 is the most distant manmade object in the universe, far beyond the orbit of Pluto. It’ll soon leave the outer reaches of the solar system behind and enter the depths of interstellar space. Even so, another 14,000 years will have to pass before Voyager attains a distance of one light year from earth. The star closest to us, Proxima Centauri, is more than four light years away." at present technology, 100 years will be long enough to get, meh, a stone's throw from Earth, relatively speaking.

However, getting our space legs on might be a necessity at some point in the future, especially if we want to do anything about threats like 29075-1950-DA, the asteroid which has the greatest probability of hitting earth. It's only expected to muss our hair sometime about the year 2880, but it's still much too soon from now to comfortably put it off.

Here's a little presentation on this asteroid and other near-Earth objects, just to scare you a little bit:

Thursday, June 20, 2013

It's come to this: Happiness is now a disease

A proposal to classify happiness as a psychiatric disorder:
"It is proposed that happiness be classified as a psychiatric disorder and be included in future editions of the major diagnostic manuals under the new name: major affective disorder, pleasant type. In a review of the relevant literature it is shown that happiness is statistically abnormal, consists of a discrete cluster of symptoms, is associated with a range of cognitive abnormalities, and probably reflects the abnormal functioning of the central nervous system. One possible objection to this proposal remains--that happiness is not negatively valued. However, this objection is dismissed as scientifically irrelevant."
Okaaaay... Pretty sure this is a parody, but you never can be quite sure.

On a related note, there's also discussion about whether to classify unipolar mania. See, unipolar mania is like bipolar disorder in a higher key; instead of cycling between extremes of depression and mania, you just have the manic phases. So most of the time you're normal, except sometimes you're extremely hyper and happy.

Doesn't that sound nice?

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Sleeping Mother Earth

From the tourist info:

"The Madre Tierra Eco-Resort is located a mile from the center of Vilcabamba, the Andean village made famous for the longevity of its citizens. Visitors come from all over the world for the relaxed atmosphere, the deliciously healthy food from our gardens, the mineralized pure water, the fresh, clean air and to spend time among Ecuador's very gentle people."
And this creation, sleeping mother earth personified.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

A gallery of mathematical cranks, wanks, and wonks

You wouldn't think that mathematics, as a field, would attract that many fringe-living crackpots - at least not as much as, say, medicine or space physics. In math, after all, either 2 plus 2 adds up to 4 or else it doesn't, and there's not much room for argument after that. But, oh, how wrong you'd be! Join me on this intellectual Tilt-A-Whirl as we explore the home pages of some extremely unhinged amateur mathematicians:

Zim Mathematics

The startling page layout is just the appetizer to Zim Olsen's theories. However, Zim doesn't really seem as out there as some, merely extremely eccentric. On the crank side, there's the ranting philosophy of how we should think of mathematics, which reads like a better-educated Time Cube manifesto. On the other hand, we have the following masterpiece:
The Lord’s Prayer in System(s) Mathematics

Our Father who art in heaven
hallowed be thy name;
(1) + - × ÷ = (0) + - × ÷ = (1+0) + - × ÷ = (1,0) + - × ÷

Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done
on earth as it is in heaven.
(1) +, -, ×, ÷ = (0) +, -,×, ÷ = (1+0) +, -, ×, ÷ = (1,0) +, -, ×, ÷

Give us this day our daily Bread.
Y(A,B) + - × ÷ => X(1,0,Y(A,B) +, -, ×, ÷)

Forgive us for our sins,
X(1,0,Y(A,B) +, -, ×, ÷) + - × ÷ => Y(1,0))

As we forgive those who sin against us.
W(A,B,Y(1,0) + - × ÷) => W(1,0)

Lead us not into temptation
X(1,0,Y(A,B)) + - × ÷

But deliver us from evil.
X(1,0,Y(A,B) +, -, ×, ÷) + - × ÷ => Y(1,0))

For thine is the Kingdom, the Power,
and the Glory, forever and ever.
F(1,0) = ___, ___, …___
OK, anybody who can engage in such whimsy has my benefit of the doubt.

Diamond Theory

Here again, I don't think Steven Cullinane is really unhinged per se. At the very least, his geometric study is fun to play with, particularly when you find this toy. And I'm not really sure that anything he says is wrong per se. But you might find yourself asking "So what?" or more to the point, "Why is this supposed to be the central theory to explaining life, the universe, and everything?"

The Correct Value for Pi

OK, here at last is somebody I can pin to the board. This Iranian scholar can't stand it that Pi is infinite, and insists that its true value is actually 3.125, so there! Wrong sir! Thank you for being up front and not burying it under 100 pages of dense "proof."

Impossible Correspondence

Ah, we love the argumentative ones! This colorful Mad Hatter uses amusing George-Clinton-type coinages like "supraconsciousness" to insist that everybody else is wrong, dammit, especially that Albert Einstein. Go on, pick a page, any page - the "Analysis of Maths by Theosophical Reduction" argues that we only need nine digits to define the universe and then wades into the I-Ching and something called the Mayan "Tzolk'in"... uh, this:

...guaranteeing that this refugee from Klingon astrology will lose the hell out of you before you can even suss out what he's rambling about. Oh, and there's a great bit of numerology about the Quran, and a piece on market cycles and Fibonacci done with no sense of irony for Darren Arinovsky's film. And hey, there's this:
"In his stand against the ether, Einstein had argued, "we should not speak of things that can't be measured." Probably the number one reason for saying that was to insure the job of measurements. Today, the Aether not only has been experimentally shown to "exist", but the reversed, subluminal group wave Aether and the superluminal phase wave Aether could also be measured once it was defined as the existent medium."
Treasures, treasures I tell you!

C.F. Russel - Cubed

This is impossible. I take back everything I ever said about the Time Cube guy; THIS is the craziest web person with a cube-centric theory! Oh, the pages start out tame enough,

but it gets crazier...

and crazier...

and CRAZIER!!!

God, thank you, man! I made it up to page 16 before I couldn't hang on any more and blew my load! And THEN I found this dingus. Take me! Take me away to your crazy, right-angled world forever.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Spermatozoid Homunculus

TIL folks of a few centuries ago believed that sperm cells contained little tiny people, perfect replicas of the humans they would become. As told here. In the modern day, we've moved on past the silly idea of perfect replicas embedded in sperm or egg cells; now the anti-choice religious crowd insists that conception makes a perfect little tiny person.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Washington town erects giant lava lamp, for no apparent reason

Well, actually, there is an apparent reason: To attract tourist dollars. At least that's the plan according to the propaganda.

Which puts it right up there with 1000 other goofy roadside attractions peppering America. Honestly, it's the only damned charming thing about our country. How many times have foreign heads of power convened to discuss whether they're fed up with America's shit enough to nuke us already, and we were saved by somebody raising their hands and going, "But that would destroy the world's largest pencil in Baltimore, Maryland"? And the United States was spared once again.

Monday, June 3, 2013

8 Things you never knew were in the King James Bible

Jesus gets thrown out of town:
Matthew 8:34 "And, behold, the whole city came out to meet Jesus: and when they saw him, they besought him that he would depart out of their coasts."

You should turn your rebellious son over to the town to be murdered:
Deuteronomy 21:18-21 "If a man have a stubborn and rebellious son, which will not obey the voice of his father, or the voice of his mother, and that, when they have chastened him, will not hearken unto them: Then shall his father and his mother lay hold on him, and bring him out unto the elders of his city, and unto the gate of his place; And they shall say unto the elders of his city, This our son is stubborn and rebellious, he will not obey our voice; he is a glutton, and a drunkard. And all the men of his city shall stone him with stones, that he die: so shalt thou put evil away from among you; and all Israel shall hear, and fear."

God commanded Saul to slaughter a whole town, including the women, babies, and animals:
1 Samuel 15:1-3 "Samuel also said unto Saul, The LORD sent me to anoint thee to be king over his people, over Israel: now therefore hearken thou unto the voice of the words of the LORD. Thus saith the LORD of hosts, I remember that which Amalek did to Israel, how he laid wait for him in the way, when he came up from Egypt. Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass."

If you rape an unmarried woman, your only penalty is paying her father 50 silver coins and marrying her:
Deuteronomy 22:28-29 "If a man find a damsel that is a virgin, which is not betrothed, and lay hold on her, and lie with her, and they be found; Then the man that lay with her shall give unto the damsel's father fifty shekels of silver, and she shall be his wife; because he hath humbled her, he may not put her away all his days."

If two men are fighting and the wife of one gets in the way to try to break it up, she can get her hand chopped off:
Deuteronomy 25:11-12 " When men strive together one with another, and the wife of the one draweth near for to deliver her husband out of the hand of him that smiteth him, and putteth forth her hand, and taketh him by the secrets: Then thou shalt cut off her hand, thine eye shall not pity her."

Moses made a brass snake charm to cure snakebite:
Numbers 21:8-9 "And the LORD said unto Moses, Make thee a fiery serpent, and set it upon a pole: and it shall come to pass, that every one that is bitten, when he looketh upon it, shall live. And Moses made a serpent of brass, and put it upon a pole, and it came to pass, that if a serpent had bitten any man, when he beheld the serpent of brass, he lived."

God will smear crap on you:
Malachi 2:2-3 "If ye will not hear, and if ye will not lay it to heart, to give glory unto my name, saith the LORD of hosts, I will even send a curse upon you, and I will curse your blessings: yea, I have cursed them already, because ye do not lay it to heart.  Behold, I will corrupt your seed, and spread dung upon your faces, even the dung of your solemn feasts; and one shall take you away with it."

Uh... this:
2 Kings 18:27 "But Rabshakeh said unto them, Hath my master sent me to thy master, and to thee, to speak these words? hath he not sent me to the men which sit on the wall, that they may eat their own dung, and drink their own piss with you?"

I can't pass up this opportunity to tie in one of my favorite works from one of my favorite web humorists, so here's the Professor Brothers (aka SuperDeluxe aka Brad Neely) with a lesson on Sodom & Gamorrah:

Monday, April 29, 2013

Heaven's Gate cult initiation tape

Heaven's Gate was a UFO cult famous for their 1997 mass suicide, in which 39 members quietly laid down in bunk beds with plastic bags taped over their heads and died. They believed that they would launch themselves onto a flying saucer trailing the then-visible Hale-Bopp comet. At the time, I was working at the Mohave Generating Station in Laughlin, Nevada, on the night shift. We had an excellent view of the comet from the top floor of the plant, where we'd pause on break and stare at the blurry speck in the sky, wondering what madness possessed these people.

Well, I've recently discovered the entire tape series of cult leader Marshall Applewhite's video speeches to the sect members on YouTube. So spend some time listening to this guy ramble and see if maybe he couldn't hypnotise you into cutting your junk off and killing yourself (with $5.75 in your pocket, gotta remember the fare!):

That's just part one. There's the whole series here.

Oh, and let us not forget that the original website, maintained by the cult members who financed themselves through web development, is still up for anyone to view. The creepiest touch is the expanding 'red alert' GIF at the top. Did the cult members check the page every day for this signal? And when it appeared, that was their "boarding call"?

Sunday, April 28, 2013

What it's like to crash on a monocycle.

This is a monocycle, which looks cool as blazes and fun to drive. But not so fun to wipe out in at the 2:56 mark. It bounces a few times, maybe not as bad as the equivalent crash on a motorcycle.

Monowheel vehicles have been an area of enthusiastic exploration by inventors. They go back to the 1800s even.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Three random bursts of brilliant insanity from Jan Svankmajer

That's Jan Svankmajer - stop-motion animator who was one of the inspirations to Terry Gilliam of Monty Python fame - in case you couldn't tell.

Friday, April 26, 2013

How did hippos get to Columbia?

Well, as the video explains, the hippos - the original pair, anyway - were part of the menagerie of Pablo Escobar, famous Columbian drug lord. They adapted to the environment and roam free today, starting from a breeding pair.

The life and times of Pablo Escobar read like something straight out of Scarface. Legends of his tremendous cocaine-fueled wealth even include an anecdote of how they had to store cash in a warehouse for so long that rats broke in and gnawed 10% of the stored $100-bills, destroying them. Escobar's henchmen just shrugged and wrote it off as a loss.

Anyway, when you're so goddamned rich that you have a problem with rats eating your money because you can't spend it fast enough, you tend to splurge on a few indulgences. So Escobar built himself a wonderland, complete with his own zoo. What a show-off!

And that's why today, hippos are now a native species in Columbia.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Iowa mystery - Who shot Ashley Okland?

Two years ago, real estate agent Ashley Okland was working in this model house in Des Moines Iowa:

...when someone came into the house behind her, shot her in the head and chest, and disappeared. There's been a reward posted for information on the case, totalling up to $150,000. And not a single lead.

The story has acquired some fame in my local vicinity. Because the crime happened when the area was still under development, there were no witnesses, and little hope of even catching a clue from surveillance video anywhere in the area. More baffling, Okland was a person completely free of scandal - she didn't appear to have any enemies, she was just an up-and-coming realtor who also volunteered at Big Brothers / Big Sisters. She's missed by many, all of whom express disbelief that anybody could have had a problem with her.

But this case, by itself, isn't nearly as mind--blowing as you might think, when you consider the fact that 1/3rd of homicides in the United States go unsolved. That's actually the mind--blowing part. Forget all the forensic technoporn on CSI, in the real world we just have 33% of murderers getting away with it.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Stumbled on Star Wars in animated GIF form. The entire movie.

It appears to have been done entirely in MSPaint, to boot. What an artifact! Wonder how old this is? The domain shown at the end,, is dead.