Friday, January 29, 2010

Beware of warning signs

Greetings.

Jewish date:  14 Shevaṭ 5770 (Parashath BeShallaḥ).

Today’s quasi-holidays:  National Puzzle Day, Fun at Work Day.

Worthy cause of the day:  “iPad DRM endangers our rights | DefectiveByDesign.org”.

Today’s news and commentary:
Today’s weird thing, submitted by Barry, is “Warning Win”.
Warning Win

Enjoy, share the weirdness, and Shabbath shalom.

Aaron
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Thursday, January 28, 2010

Down with the iPad! Long live the Modbook!

Greetings.

Jewish date:  13 Shevaṭ 5770 (Parashath BeShallaḥ).

Today’s quasi-holidays:  National Kazoo Day, Rattle Snake Round-Up Day.


Today’s news and commentary:
Photo of the Axiotron Modbook in container box.Image via Wikipedia
By now you should have heard about Apple’s iPad, introduced yesterday.  I am disappointed with what they have produced.  The iPad is essentially a big-screen iPod, something which I neither need nor want.  What I want for my next computer is a tablet version of the MacBook Pro (my current computer).  I do not want a tightly-controlled iPhone OS device unless it is to use it as a telephone; I most certainly am not going to buy one of these things to read books on.  What I do want is a Mac OS X device I can do whatever the gezornenblat I want on it without anyone else’s approval; this includes a lot more than just reading books.  What is really annoying is that the technology for a tablet MacBook is not something limited to Star Trek; it exists here and now.  In protest of the iPad, today’s weird awesome things are the real-life tablet MacBooks, the Modbook and Modbook Pro.  Apple should buy these people out or license their technology and make Modbooks instead of iPads.

Note:  Apple can be contacted at their Website Feedback page.  Axiotron, makers of the Modbook, can be contacted at their own Website Feedback page.

Enjoy and share the weirdness awesomeness.

Aaron
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Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Beware of faked nature

Greetings.

Jewish date:  12 Shevaṭ 5770 (Parashath BeShallaḥ).

Today’s quasi-holiday:  International Holocaust Remembrance Day.  Note:  See today’s edition of Divine Misconceptions,Have we really learned anything from the Holocaust?

Today’s weird thing, submitted by Barry, is “The stunning images of nature at its best, created by artist Matthew Albanese using materials including cotton wool, faux fur and patio tables”.  My reaction to the photographs included was “Wow!”, they are so realistic.  Enjoy and share the weirdness.

Aaron
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Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Beware of nightmares of sharp, pointy objects in the emperor’s garden giving you a really terrible haircut

Greetings.

Jewish date:  11 Shevaṭ 5770 (Parashath Beshallaḥ).


Today’s quasi-holidays:  National Speak Up and Succeed Day, Spouse’s Day, Australia Day.




Worthy causes of the day:  “action.firedoglake.com | Tell House Progressives: Stand Up for Real Reform, Vote Down the Senate Bill” and “Payment Cuts for Medicare Physicians are Bad News for Older Americans - The Petition Site”.  Also:  I got my H1N1 influenza shot this morning.  Please consider getting your H1N1 flu shot and save someone else from getting the disease.



Today’s weird thing is Random plot points, AKA Let's put your character in a sticky situation.  This is a potentially useful device for writers.  Just press the button and get a fresh idea of what to have happen.  E.g.:
Those prescient dreams they have been having were pretty cool until that nightmare last night.
Metaphorically or otherwise, your character is tied and blindfolded in a room full of sharp, pointy objects. They must move very carefully, or they will get a nasty slice.
Entering the emperor's garden and dancing among the sunflowers, your character gets a taste of the brilliant bliss they have always dreamed of. This contrasts with their life and increases their drive. Plus, it gives you a chance to show-not-tell just who your guy/gal is and what they're after.
Character struggles to lose a lot of weight, preferably within a time frame (marathon? high school reunion? superhero convention?)
Really terrible haircut. 
 Enjoy and share the weirdness.

Aaron
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Monday, January 25, 2010

Beware of failed escalators

Greetings.

Jewish date:  10 Shevaṭ 5770 (Parashath Beshallaḥ.)

Today’s quasi-holidays:  Bubble Wrap Appreciation Day, A Room of One’s Own Day, Opposite DayBurns Night.

Today’s weird thing, submitted by Barry, is “Escalator Fail or Exercise Win?”.
epic fail pictures
I have no idea if this is real or not.  Enjoy and share the weirdness.

Aaron
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Sunday, January 24, 2010

Beware of anything which sells itself

Greetings.

Jewish date:  9 Shevaṭ 5770 (Parashath Beshallaḥ).

Today’s quasi-holidays:  Belly Laugh Day, National Peanut Butter Day, International Kitchen Garden Day.

Worthy cause of the day:  “MoveOn.org Political Action: Stop the flood of corporate money into our democracy”.

Today’s news and commentary:
Today’s weird thing is a stunt:  “Artwork selling itself on eBay”.  Enjoy and share the weirdness.

Aaron

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

My god, it’s full of stars!

Greetings.
Great circle on a sphereImage illustrating a great circle via Wikipedia; Zemata would not serve up a picture of stars

Jewish date:  5 Shevaṭ 5770 (Parashath Bo’).

Today’s quasi-holidays:  Basketball Day.




Today’s news and commentary:
Today’s weird thing is Wheel of Stars.  This is a sort of musical clock which simulates the sky, and every time a star crosses a specific great circle, a tone is sounded.  You may find this mysterious, eerie, or annoying.  Enjoy and share the weirdness.

Aaron
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Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Only you can prevent Mary Sue characters

Greetings.

Jewish date:  4 Shevaṭ 5770 (Parashath Bo’).

Today’s quasi-holidays:  National Popcorn Day, Archery Day, Robert E. Lee’s Birthday, Tin Can Day.

Today’s news and commentary:
Ernie and Bert.Image of “non-Sues” via Wikipedia
Today’s weird thing is “The Original Fiction Mary Sue Litmus Test”, which can be used to determine if characters are pathologically too perfect or examples of self-insertion.  To test this test, I used it to examine Ernie from Sesame Street; he rated, as expected, as a “non-Sue”.  Though to be fair, many of the questions asked are really not relevant to Muppets.  This test may also be useful in creating deliberately absurd, annoying, or over-the-top characters.  Enjoy and share the weirdness.

Aaron
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Sunday, January 17, 2010

This blog goes to 11

Greetings.

Jewish date:  2 Shevaṭ 5770 (Parashath Bo’).

Today’s quasi-holidays:  Kid Inventor’s Day, Penguin Awareness Day, Pig Day.

Today’s news and commentary:
Today’s weird thing is “Spinal Tap Amps”.


Enjoy and share the weirdness.

Aaron
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Friday, January 15, 2010

You won’t believe who is running companies these days

Greetings.

Jewish date:  29 Ṭeveth 5770 (Parashath Wa’era’).

Today’s quasi-holidays:  Personal Firewall Day, Hat Day, Humanitarian Day.

Worthy causes of the day:  “Take Action: No legitimacy for Bashir | Save Darfur”.  Furthermore, probably practically everyone by now has heard of the disastrous earthquake in Haiti.  Both the Red Cross and Orthodox Union are taking donations.  If you do not have money and are able (or even if you do have money), please consider donating blood, which they can also use.

Today’s news and commentary:
Today’s weird thing has been contributed by Malcolm NC-17, included below.  Enjoy, share the weirdness, and Shabbath shalom.

Aaron

Regarding the weird thing yesterday in which some Peter Backus used the Drake equation to calculate the odds of finding a girlfriend: Maybe it's an interesting use, but it's wrong.  And here's why:

The Drake equation is basically a sieve.  You start with the rate of star formation, which limits the next factor, the fraction of stars with planets.  The fraction of stars with planets limits how many stars with planets have planets that can support life.  And so on down to how long civilizations put out detectable radio signals. Each category is rigid and each factor chops down the number before it, so the number you get has to be much, much smaller than the one you started with.

This is not how it works with people.  Let's say you start in a city of 10,000,000 people and you want a girlfriend.  Does that mean you're limited to the female half of those, about 5,000,000?  No. Strictly speaking, your girlfriend just has to be female and human. (To keep things simple, we will assume strictly heterosexual relationships between humans and that the girlfriend has to be on the planet, but the same logic here can be extended beyond those situations.)  Admittedly, it's a little difficult to have a meaningful relationship if you're in London and your girlfriend is in Botswana, but not impossible.  More realistically, you'll prefer girlfriends who are closer, but there are plenty of people with long-distance relationships.  So we can more realistically assume that 1) the probability that someone will be your girlfriend is inversely related to distance but does not fall to 0, 2) distance will become less important with the ability to
travel, and 3) the better the relationship, the more willing people will be to travel.  So instead of being limited to the original 5,000,000 in the above example, someone with a car, gas money, and the time to travel could realistically have a girlfriend well outside of town and well beyond that 5,000,000.  And this just assumes the people have to meet to be considered in a boyfriend-girlfriend relationship.  With the Internet, you could arguably have a pool of billions of potential girlfriends out there.  (Once the relationship is established, of course, it becomes much more likely that one will move much closer to the other, solving any remaining distance problems.)

The same lack of rigidity applies to almost everything else you can think of.  Backus limits "age-appropriate" women to between 24 and 34 years.  What if he met an otherwise-okay 23- or 35-year-old?  Is he going to turn them down?  Probably not.  How about a 22- or a 36-year-old?  Frankly, most guys would slippery-slope the age thing all the way back to 18, and some even further.  (And shame on them!)  And depending on how long it's been since he got some, at least 40 is more likely.  So instead of his narrow ten-year age limit, he is more realistically likely to choose someone from a much larger set.  The so forth for education, attractiveness, etc.  He could, of course, set arbitrary criteria which he rigidly sticks with.  We all do that. Some of them even make sense; for example, I would always rule psychopaths out as potential girlfriends, as well as anyone convicted of a violent crime.  But if he wants a 34-year-old college graduate who lives in
London and he turns down a 35-year-old who is successful without getting a college degree and lives just outside of London on an underground route, he's just being too picky.

And if that does not expand the pool enough, there is also the issue of how will he set limits around particular combinations.  Are some criteria more flexible than others?  Suppose he met an educated Londoner who was fascinating and attractive but was 45?  Would he turn down a chance for true love just because of the age difference? Many guys would give it a chance, but the way Backus reasons, someone like this never has a chance.

Backus estimated there were 10,510 potential girlfriends out there out of the approximately 30,000,000 women in the UK alone, about 0.04% of the population (to be generous).  Because a more realistic calculation requires some higher-order math, giving a good counterestimate is hard, but I'd be surprised if there weren't a million or more suitable women in and around southeastern England alone.  Based on all this, I have two conclusions:  1) The logic behind the Drake equation may be wrong, in which case there may be a whole lot more civilizations out there.  2) Backus is picky and there's a whole lot of potential mates out there for anyone willing to go after them.  Don't be a Backus.


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Thursday, January 14, 2010

Beware of creative retooling of the Drake equation

Greetings.

Jewish date:  28 Ṭeveth 5770 (Parashath Wa’era’).

Today’s quasi-holidays:  Bald Eagle Day, National Hot Pastrami Sandwich Day, National Dress Up Your Pet Day, Ratification Day.

Worthy cause of the day:  “Take Action: Help Protect Wilderness!”.

Today’s news and commentary:
Today’s weird things are “Peter Backus Uses Math to Explain Girlfriend Woes” and the actual article it references, “Why 
I 
don’t 
have 
a 
girlfriend:  An 
application 
of 
the 
Drake 
Equation 
to 
love
 in
 the
 UK
”.  This article should win an award for most creative use (or abuse) of an astronomical formula.  Basic probability is used to show why there are few women who are appropriate for Peter Backus.  The same logic should work for the rest of us.  So if you have found your soulmate, be very, very thankful.  And should you, the reader, be a woman who is appropriate for me or know of such a woman, feel free to contact me.  (Yes, that was shameless, but one cannot marry the right woman unless one actually finds her, which may call for extraordinary measures.)  Enjoy and share the weirdness.

Aaron
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Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The alarm clock must DIE!!!

Cropped version of :Image:Puu_oo.
Greetings.

Jewish date:  27 Ṭeveth 5770 (Parashath Wa’era’).

Today’s quasi-holidays:  Bad Back Day, International Day for Natural Disaster Reduction.

Today’s news and commentary:
Today’s weird thing is Clocky, an alarm clock that wheels around your room beeping if you fail to get up on time and shut it off.  In the evening, this sounds like a great idea to make sure one gets up in the morning.  I doubt this would seem like a good idea at 5:45 AM.  Enjoy (or loathe) and share the weirdness.

Aaron
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Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Beware of a root vegetable

Greetings.

Jewish date:  26 Ṭeveth 5770 (Parashath Wa’era’).

Today’s quasi-holidays:  National Clean Off Your Desk Day.

Worthy causes of the day:  “MoveOn.org Political Action: Save the Clean Air Act” and

Today’s news and commentary:
onion pulls on a hat and enjoys a cup of coffeeImage of the wrong sort of onion by Rakka via Flickr
Today’s weird thing, submitted by Barry, is “Ugly Girl Killed”, an article from the parody site The Onion.  Enjoy and share the weirdness.

Aaron
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Sunday, January 10, 2010

Beware of electric pickles

Greetings.
Bomb in Wall Street, 1920Blame Zemata.  It thought this image from Wikipedia was relevant.

Jewish date:  24 Ṭeveth 5770 (Parashath Wa’erah).

Today’s quasi-holidays:  National Cut Your Energy Costs Day, Volunteer Fireman’s Day.

Worthy cause of the day:  “Save Canada's Woodland Caribou - The Petition Site”.

Today’s news and commentary:
Today’s weird thing is “How To Make A Glowing Pickle (Fire Pickle)”.

How To Make A Glowing Pickle (Fire Pickle) - Watch the top videos of the week here
I do not explain this sort of stuff.  I just report it.  And I do not recommend you try this at home.  Enjoy and share the weirdness.

Aaron

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Beware of bugs

Greetings.

Jewish date:  21 Ṭeveth 5770 (Parashath Shemoth).

Today’s quasi-holidays:  Dress Up a Pet Day, I’m Not Going To Take It Anymore Day.

Today’s news and commentary:
Today’s weird thing is “Size of Bug vs. Location by Sesstria”.
Size of Bug vs. Location
Enjoy and share the weirdness.

Aaron

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Hire the architect who created today’s weird thing!

Child receiving an oral polio vaccine.Image of vaccination against polio (now almost extinct, thank YHWH) via Wikipedia
Greetings.


Jewish date:  20 Ṭeveth 5770 (Parashath Shemoth).


Today’s quasi-holidays:  Apple Tree Day, World Day for War Orphans

Today’s news and commentary:
Today’s weird thing is “Kansas City Library”, which deals with a photograph of a library whose architect did a marvelously appropriate job.  Enjoy and share the weirdness.

Aaron
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Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Oh, no! The turtles are at it again!

Greetings.

Jewish date:  19 Ṭeveth 5770 (Parashath Shemoth).

Today’s quasi-holidays:  Bird Day, World Asthma Day



The Duenos inscription, from the 6th century B...
Image of a really old Latin inscription via Wikipedia

Today’s news and commentary:
Today’s weird thing is “Ninja turtle in real life”, which unlike some turtles previously reported, has certainly progressed in his/her training.  Enjoy and share the weirdness.

Aaron

PS:  Hebrew is 1,000 times better than any of those other languages discussed in that article.

PPS:  Ethnic pride may be responsible for the previous statement.  Your mileage may vary.
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Monday, January 4, 2010

A random plot generator? The horror!

Greetings.

Jewish date:  18 Ṭeveth 5770 (Parashath Shemoth).


Today’s quasi-holidays:  National Thank God It’s Monday! Day, Tennis Day, Trivia Day, World Habitat Day.

Worthy cause of the day:  “Tell EPA: No Tire or Waste Burning in Unregulated Incinerators - The Petition Site”.

Bishopgate, a former slum area in Wetherby.Image what Zemata seems to think is the neighborhood where the giant octopus lives via Wikipedia
Today’s weird thing is the Horror Plot Generator.  This is a sample of its allegedly scary work:
A gigantic octopus with the ability to heal quickly, whose home base is in a Victorian funeral home, wants to have more psychic abilities. Supported by monks, the gigantic octopus appears to have one weakness - gold. Interestingly enough, the gigantic octopus is made out of wood.
I get the impression this is considered a horror plot generator because the goal would be to take the random plot and somehow make it scary.  Enjoy and share the weirdness.

Aaron
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Sunday, January 3, 2010

Beware of RSS

Greetings.
The Incredible Hulk (TV series)Image which Zemata thought was relevant via Wikipedia

Jewish date:  17 Ṭeveth 5770 (Parashath Shemoth).

Today’s quasi-holidays:  International Friendship Day, Drinking Straw Day.

Worthy cause of the day:  “Support Cleaner Air in NYC - The Petition Site”.

Today’s news and commentary:
Today’s weird thing is the Throwboy RSS pillow.  This is exactly what you want to throw against the wall and stomp on when your newsreader program crashes.  Enjoy and share the weirdness.

Aaron
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Friday, January 1, 2010

Beware of turtles’ career plans

Greetings.

Jewish date:  15 Ṭeveth 5770 (Parashath Wayḥi).

Today’s quasi-holiday:  Day 7 of Kwanzaa.

Worthy cause of the day:  “Free passage in Shechem (The Shomron Liaison Office)”.

Today’s news and commentary:
Today’s weird things are “All I’m saying is, going to” and “Teenage? Check. Mutant? Check.
funny pictures of cats with captions

funny pictures

Enjoy, share the weirdness, and Shabbath shalom.

Aaron
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