Saturday, June 30, 2012

Friday, June 29, 2012

[Off Topic] What Should Americans Do After the ObamaCare Ruling?

Off topic: PJMedia has posted my latest OpEd on the Supreme Court ObamaCare ruling,
"What Should Americans Do After the Supreme Court ObamaCare Ruling?"

My three takehome points:
1) American health care will be in deep trouble in just a few years.
2) There are plenty of good ideas for free market health care reform.
3) ObamaCare must be defeated politically.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Just Don't Call It Makeup

The power of clever marketing: "Market booms for men's cosmetics -- but don't call it makeup"

Russian Nuclear Launch Code Backup Procedure

Russian Nuclear Launch Code Backup Procedure: A sledgehammer.

Robot Wins RPS 100% of the Time

"Robot Hand Beats You at Rock, Paper, Scissors 100% Of The Time"

Key: The robotic hand is tied to a visual detector. Here's the video, including slow-motion.

Hence, "[i]t only takes a single millisecond for the robot to recognize what shape your hand is in, and just a few more for it to make the shape that beats you, but it all happens so fast that it's more or less impossible to tell that the robot is waiting until you commit yourself before it makes its move, allowing it to win 100% of the time."

All together now: "I, for one, welcome our robotic rock-paper-scissors overlords!"

Kinect and Surgery

"Kinect: A surgical revolution?"

From the article:
Last month, Guy’s and St Thomas’ hospital began trials of a new device that uses a Kinect camera to sense body position. Just by moving his arms, a surgeon can consult and sort through medical images, such as CT scans or real-time X-rays, whilst operating.
Maintaining a sterile environment in the operating room is of utmost importance but scrubbing in and out to sift through images mid-operation can be protracted and break concentration. To avoid leaving the table, many surgeons rely on assistants to control the computer on their behalf, which can prove a distracting and frustrating process.
"Up until now, I'd been calling out across the room to one of our technical assistants, asking them to manipulate the image, rotate one way, rotate the other, pan up, pan down, zoom in, zoom out," says Tom Carrell, a consultant vascular surgeon, who led an operation to repair an aneurism in a patient’s aorta. With the Kinect, he says, "I had very intuitive control".

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Monday, June 25, 2012

Dramatically Titled Neuroscience Story

Heh!: "Dramatically titled neuroscience story". (Via Eric D.)

Ghost Ship

"'Ghost' Ship Emerges from Stealth Startup".

From the article: "We're basically riding on two supercavitating torpedoes. And we’ve put a boat on top of it..." (Via Howard R.)

Lowe On Scientific Literacy

"Scientific Literacy: Where Do You Stop?"

Google and Endangered Languages

Google will be helping to preserve some 3,000+"endangered languages".

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Invisibility Cloak With An On-Off Switch

"An Invisibility Cloak With An On-Off Switch"

Cool Tall Buildings

"The Most Amazing Tall Buildings Of The Year"

Robotic Tactile Sensors

"USC Develops Robot With Tactile Sensors That Can Outperform Humans"

Fake Online Reviews

The growing problem of fake online reviews.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

History of the Fork

Interesting history of the dinner fork.

At times, it was regarded an uncouth, uncivilized utensil. At other times, it was considered "unsettlingly effeminate".

Collision Alert!

"Andromeda galaxy to hit Milky Way in 4 billion years"

Annoying Business Jargon

"89 Business Cliches That Will Get Any MBA Promoted And Make Them Totally Useless".

Related: "The most annoying business jargon".

Apple Vs. Google Update

Why Apple Is Going 'Containment' Not 'Thermonuclear' Against Google In iOS 6". (Via Marginal Revolution.)

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Origins of "Hello" For Answering Telephone

From the NYT archives: "Great 'Hello' Mystery Is Solved". (Via Susan Dawn Wake.)

Vertical Ship

"The SeaOrbiter: Futuristic Marine Research Vessel to Begin Construction". (Via Trey Peden.)


Simple Cancer Diagnostic Innovation

Forbes, 6/18/2012: "Wait, Did This 15-Year-Old From Maryland Just Change Cancer Treatment?"

(I love that he was savvy enough to note: "I got a really fierce patent lawyer right after I won ISEF".)


Sensordone looks interesting! (Via Jeremy S.)

McDonalds Food Photo Vs. Reality

"Why does McDonald's food look so much better in the ads than at the restaurant?"

Official video response from McDonald's Canada:

As Kottke notes, "The burger at the restaurant is optimized for eating and the photo burger is optimized for looking delicious."

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

How 3D printing is Revolutionising Guitar-Making

"How 3D printing is revolutionising guitar-making"

Why NBA Teams Botch the Last Shot

WSJ: "Why NBA Teams Botch the Last Shot".

The long shadow of Michael Jordan's heroics still affect the game today.

Scientist Meets Lava

"Scientist gets too close to lava lake"

Wearable Gadgets Flummox FAA

"Wearable Gadgets Upset F.A.A. Curbs on Devices"

[Off topic] Hsieh Forbes OpEd: The Dangerous Synergy Between The Nanny State And Universal Health Care

[Off topic] The 6/18/2012 edition of Forbes has posted my latest OpEd, "The Dangerous Synergy Between The Nanny State And Universal Health Care".

A couple of excerpts:
The recurring theme: The government must limit our freedoms to limit overall medical costs. But this issue can only arise in "universal" health systems where taxpayers must pay for everyone else’s medical expenses...  
It's a short step from the government assuming responsibility for your diet to assuming responsibility for your overall health. Today, the government decides what you can or cannot eat. Tomorrow, the government decides what medical care you can or cannot receive...

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Swordfighting Misconceptions

"Swordfighting: Not What You Think It Is"

Nail Art

Landscape art using nails.

Elevator Buttons

"Why Don't Elevators Allow You To Toggle Whether They Stop At A Floor?" (Via Alex Knapp.)

Robotic Gripper

"Robotic grippers based on granular jamming":


(Via Howard Roerig.)

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Self-Adjusting Eyeglasses

"Self-Adjusting Glasses Ready for Distribution to Developing Nations"

"...[E]ach lens in a pair of Eyejusters actually contains two lenses. Turning a dial on one of the temple arms causes the lenses to slide across each other, changing the overall spherical surface and thus changing the prescription. It works for those with myopia or presbyopia, and the glasses can be adjusted by the users themselves or anyone with very basic training."  

Update: Some adjustable liquid-based eyeglasses.

Airport Codes

"The Wacky Logic Behind Airport Codes"

How the Broom Became Flat

"How the Broom Became Flat". (Via Instapundit.)

10 Classic Bar Bets

"Ten bets you'll never lose".


The tomato in the glass was especially clever.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Neutrino Science Update

"What have neutrinos done for you lately?"

Is Art A Good Investment?

"Is Art A Good Investment?"

Short answer: No.

Prometheus Movie and Christianity

Was "Prometheus" based on Christian themes of self-sacrifice?

The author of this essay makes a pretty plausible case, including that this was deliberately intended by director Ridley Scott. (Note: Contains lots of movie spoilers.)

Trick Shot Quarterback Signs With KC Chiefs

Alex Tanney was undrafted by the NFL after a stellar quarterback career at Monmouth College. He's most famous for this 2011 video of amazing quarterback trick shots.

The Kansas City Chiefs have just signed Tanney as a free agent. I hope he makes the team and gets a chance to play!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

How Insecure Is Your Password?

"How many seconds would it take to break your password?" (Via Dr. John Drake.)


"Joggobot, The Companion Drone That Makes You Run Faster, Longer, Harder"

For the record, these Joggobots look nothing at all like the Terminator hunter-killer drones. Nor are they made by CyberDyne:


Turtle Divorce

Two giant turtles get divorced after 115 years together, due to irreconcilable differences.

Smartphones in Africa

"In Five Years, Most Africans Will Have Smartphones"

Classic Feynman: Light and Neptune

Vintage Richard Feynman clip on how the theory of gravity led to the discovery of the speed of light, and how knowledge of the effect of gravity on planetary orbits led to the discovery of the planet Neptune.

Thursday, June 07, 2012

What Bad Guys Do With Stolen Passwords

"What Do Hackers Do With Stolen Passwords?"

Some possibilities: "Add them to dictionaries, trade them on the black market, and use them for 'spear phishing.'"

Stolen Laptop Snaps Photo Of Thief, Leads To Arrest

"A stolen laptop took a picture of the thief and sent it to a security website, leading to his arrest"

Weight-Loss Bets

"If you bet that you'll lose weight, do you regain it when the bet is over?"

Short answer: Yes.

Watch Where You Put That Thing

"Untreatable gonorrhoea spreading around world". (Via @MatthewBowdish.)

Surgeon Folds and Throws Paper Airplane Using da Vinci Robot

"Surgeon Folds and Throws Paper Airplane Using da Vinci Robot"

(Via Dr. Art Fougner.)

Bra Holster

Two words: Bra. Holster.

I, for one, am damned glad to live in a country that can invent something like this.

You don't see Cuban or North Korean women packing heat in bra holsters, do you?

(H/T: @AriArmstrong.)

Monday, June 04, 2012

Morrill: Don't Waste a Single Moment

Internet entrepreneur Danielle Morrill: "Don't Waste a Single Moment".

I especially liked section 4 on management and communications techniques.

Military Robots

Update on military robots.

Chinese Internet Police Have A New Weapon

"Chinese Internet Police Have A New Weapon"

When "Find and Replace" Goes Wrong

"When 'Find and Replace' Goes Wrong"

Sunday, June 03, 2012

Brick-And-Mortar Bookstore Thrives Because of Amazon

"The Man Who Took on Amazon and Saved a Bookstore"

Simberg: The Success Of The Dragon

Rand Simberg: "What Does the Success of the Dragon Mean?"

In a nutshell, "America has returned to space."

Cheating In Online Courses

As online education proliferates, students are finding new ways to cheat in online courses.

Facebook Vs. Google

Infographic: Facebook vs. Google. (Via R.B.)

Venus Transit Update

SteveInCO has posted an update to his earlier blog post on the upcoming Venus transit.

In particular, he notes that it will occur on the evening of June 5 in North America (not June 6)!

Saturday, June 02, 2012

Cat-vs-Buttered Toast Commercial

The cat-vs.-buttered toast joke turned into a great commercial:

(Via Debby Witt.)