Pop Culture Link Round Up 12.21.14

Who likes spiders

Among Inspector Gadget’s many strange features—teeth that fly around on their own (go, go gadget teeth) and a flower that pops out of his hat (go, go gadget flower) and of course gadget Spanish translation—it’s his telescoping neck that seems to most defy conventional biology. But it’d be hard to argue that a super-long neck doesn’t come in handy in a pinch.Just ask the bizarre assassin spiders of Australia, South America, and Madagascar, with their craning necks and enormous jaws and general what-in-the-what-now appearance. These beauties (also known appropriately enough as pelican spiders) hunt other spiders, and by deploying their jaws out 90 degrees from their necks, they can impale prey, inject venom, and let them dangle there to die, all without getting bitten themselves. It’s a bit like the school bully holding a nerd at arm’s-length while the poor kid swings hopelessly at the air.

Now, spiders aren’t supposed to have necks, and in fact calling this a neck is a bit of a misnomer. The front bit of a spider is known as the cephalothorax, where you find its legs and mouthparts and eyes, and on top of that is a plate known as a carapace (these terms are a bit goofy so I’m going to keep calling it a neck for the sake of your brain, but now you know the score). So they don’t really have a head as we’d recognize it. But in the assassin spiders, that carapace has been extremely elongated into a kind of tube. The eyes and the jaws (scientifically known as chelicerae, so I’ll just keep calling them jaws if you don’t mind) sit up at the top. Perhaps most weirdly, though, the feeding mouthparts remain down at the base of the neck. So really they have necks in the middle of their faces.

Warning: picture of spider in

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 Keeping with the spider theme, here’s some cool new tech:

A new kind of vibration sensor could us ‘Spidey sense’

Korean scientists are developing a powerful new sound and motion sensor that could someday give people, buildings and more the equivalent of “Spidey sense.” This isn’t some fantastical plot twist from a new Spider-Man movie, but rather a practical application of the discovery of how spider legs function in the real world.

These “crack sensors” (a.k.a. “nanoscale crack junction-based sensory systems”), which can be worn by people or placed on objects, were inspired by spiders’ crack-shaped slit organs. Residing on spider legs, these organs are made up of the spider’s stiff exoskeleton on the surface and a sort of flexible pad in the gaps, which connects directly to the spider’s nervous system.

Experts see almost endless possible applications of this new technology — for use in everything from sound recording and speech recognition to movement and sensing the earliest tremors before an earthquake. It could also be used as a wearable blood-pressure sensor and for other medical monitoring applications.

These pads are highly sensitive to sound and vibrations, and serve as an early warning system for spiders. It’s why a spider almost appears to sense when you’re going to swat it with a magazine and escapes before you can complete your swing. In other words, your tiniest movements probably triggered the creepy crawler’s built-in spider sense alert system.

In a study published Wednesday in the journal Nature, the researchers detail a remarkable example of biomimicry, which uses nature’s models as inspiration for solving human problems.

Specifically, the researchers show how to build a mechanical version of these slit-based sensors out of a 20 nanometer layer of platinum on top of a viscoelastic polymer. By deforming the platinum layer to create cracks that open to the soft polymer below, the researchers were able to measure the electrical conductance across the surface of their new sensor.

In tests comparing the sensor’s ability to recognize sound, the crack or mechanical spider sensor outperformed a microphone — at least in challenging audio conditions. When measuring a person saying “go,” “jump,” “shoot” and “stop,” the mechanical spider sensor accurately captured the words in a 92 decibel environment, while a standing microphone could not clearly record the audio.

The scientists achieved a similar result when they attached a sensor to a violin and plucked out a simple tune. It accurately measured the notes, which were converted into digital signals to recreate the tune. They also used the sensor to, when worn on a wrist, accurately measure a heartbeat.

The article goes on to discuss the science behind the sensors, which is a bit outside my wheelhouse, but others might enjoy reading it.

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Keeping with the tech theme…move over Jaws!  Here’s the Navy’s new robot sub:

The American military does a lot of work in the field of biomimicry, stealing designs from nature for use in new technology. After all, if you’re going to design a robot, where better to draw inspiration than from billions of years of evolution? The latest result of these efforts is the GhostSwimmer: The Navy’s underwater drone designed to look and swim like a real fish, and a liability to spook the bejeezus out of any beach goer who’s familiar with Jaws.

The new gizmo, at five feet long and nearly 100 pounds, is about the size of an albacore tuna but looks more like a shark, at least from a distance. It’s part of an experiment to explore the possibilities of using biomimetic, unmanned, underwater vehicles, and the Navy announced it wrapped up testing of the design last week.

The robot uses its tail for propulsion and control, like a real fish. It can operate in water as shallow as 10 inches or dive down to 300 feet. It can be controlled remotely via a 500-foot tether, or swim independently, periodically returning to the surface to communicate. Complete with dorsal and pectoral fins, the robofish is stealthy too: It looks like a fish and moves like a fish, and, like other underwater vehicles, is difficult to spot even if you know to look for it.

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In more tech news, who’s ready for a prototype flying car?

Apparently it can fly for 430 miles with a full tank of gas and reach speeds of up to 124 mph. In car mode, it’s designed to be driven on regular roads, to park at normal parking spots, and fill up at normal gas stations.  Neat-O!

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New record set for world’s deepest living fish

Researchers have observed a record for the world’s deepest living fish, found at the bottom of the Mariana Trench, the deepest site on earth.

The new species was recorded at a depth of 8,145 meters (26,722 feet), breaking the previous depth record, set in 2008, by nearly 500 meters (1,640 feet), researchers said in a statement.

“This really deep fish did not look like anything we had seen before, nor does it look like anything we know of,” Alan Jamieson from the University of Aberdeen said. “It is unbelievably fragile, with large wing-like fins and a head resembling a cartoon dog.”

Click the link to see pics of the fish.

Pop Culture Link Round Up 12.21.14
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Pop Culture Link Round Up 12.17.14

PES, the creator of several stop-motion videos-including Western Spaghetti and the Academy Award nominated Fresh Guacamolehas created a new short: Submarine Sandwich. It’s pretty cool how he makes use of everyday objects in innovative ways.

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Star Wars meets Indiana Jones in this amusing retcon of ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark’

Concept artist Reid Southen has recently edited a movie clip from Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark that shows Indy (Harrison Ford) being chased down by the spherical droid seen in the newly released teaser trailer for Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens (previously). The original scene from Raiders of the Lost Ark displays Indiana Jones being chased through a temple by a massive boulder after he steals the golden idol. Southen’s full edited video is available to view as a GIF image on Imgur.

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Taking their inspiration from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, hip-hop company ZooNation creates a new and unique show

In The Mad Hatter’s Tea Party, Carroll’s timeless characters find themselves at Ladrington Brook, the Institution for Extremely Normal Behaviour. A young psychotherapist (Tommy Franzen) is given the task of curing their neuroses, and they each express their problems through a combination of dance, voiceover and music. Alice is having an identity crisis. The White Rabbit is always late because of his OCD. The Queen of Hearts has anger issues. It’s no wonder Franzen is driven to insanity (and a superb popping solo) as the first act ends.

After the interval, the storyline goes more or less out of the window, as cast members engage in an exuberant tea party complete with dancing on the table and audience participation. Even Royal Ballet resident choreographer Wayne McGregor was dragged from his seat and onto stage when we were there.

The whole show is warm-hearted, feel-good and cleverly crafted by director Kate Prince. There’s plenty of great dancing, with Franzen, Lizzie Gough and Duwane Taylor excelling in particular. Our only small issue is that at times the quality of choreography feels secondary to the narrative (and the characters’ absurdity).

Sadly, this is across the pond, so I cannot attend (and they’re apparently sold out anyways), but it sure sounds nifty.

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Years after an ex-policeman created it, a gay dating app reaches 15 million users

Ma Baoli quit his job as deputy director of a division of the Qinhuangdao police force in March 2012 so that he could work on running his own website for the gay community to share experiences among one another. Ma, 37, who goes by the online pseudonym Geng Le, created Danlan.org in November 2000, but said that he didn’t start making any money from it until 2007.

His choice, nonetheless, was a lucrative one. The website recently spawned a Chinese-language dating app for men called Blued that has brought in over 15 million users, 3 million of them outside China, in two years.

Last month, his company received a 30 million USD investment from a Silicon Valley venture capitalist company, and Ma is now trying to expand abroad and maybe even prepare for an IPO, Associated Press reports.

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 On a diet? This vending machine will deny you snacks

Rheavendors, the manufacturing company, and Dr. Malcolm Standage, of the machine’s supplier Smart Vend Solutions, said the Luce X2 could “redefine the future of the automatic retailing industry,” The Telegraph reported. “Launching the very first full production facial recognition technology represents an advancement which will bring unlimited benefits to businesses and consumers across the UK.”

The machine is able to use facial recognition with its motion sensors that automatically launch into a video greeting when a user approaches it. Then, the machine’s avatar, an Italian man in a gray suit, shows the user a personalized menu based on his or her most frequently ordered items. In addition to customizing your menu, the machine features a touch screen that can be used to display nutritional information or pass on news and notices.

The space-age device also provides you with the luxury of not having to carry spare change for products. In the meantime, users will be able to use a card to pay, while the company plans a future version that will be fitted with a proximity sensor. The sensor will be able to read payment info from a mobile phone inside the user’s pocket.

While the Luce X2 Touch TV may provide the convenience of identifying and greeting a user, remembering a person’s preferences, and even deny certain products based on a shopper’s age, medical record, dietary requirements, or purchase history, the new technology does raise some eyebrows. Tracking a consumer’s purchase history treads the waters of infringement of their buying freedoms and exposes their personal expenses in front of other people.

Pop Culture Link Round Up 12.17.14

LGBT Link Round Up 12.15.14

Michelle Duggar got her way

Fayetteville residents voted in a 52 to 48 percent split to overturn Ordinance 119, a nondiscrimination law that “prohibits discrimination in employment, housing, real estate transactions, city services, business transactions and public accommodations based on ‘race, ethnicity, national origin, age (if 18 years of age or older), gender, gender identity, gender expression, familial status, marital status, socioeconomic background, religion, sexual orientation, disability or veteran status.”

Duggar joined the effort to overturn the law in late summer, recording robocalls that went out to every phone in Fayetteville in which she described LGBT people as a threat to the community.

Ordinance 119 allowed trans men and women to use the public facilities of their adopted gender, a state of affairs that Duggar described in a call as “males with past child predator convictions that claim they are female to have a legal right to enter private areas that are reserved for women and girls.”

That’s blatant transphobic fear mongering on the part of Michelle Duggar.  Trans men and women seek to use the facilities that correspond to their gender (e.g. a trans woman using the women’s restroom bc she’s a woman). Trans women aren’t men (just as trans men are not women). That’s a false narrative that Duggar is pushing.  And another thing?  Duggar knows nothing, but nothing…about what she’s talking about. She thinks trans women are just men who dress up as women so they can go into women’s restrooms to sexually assault women and girls.

She. Is. Wrong.

And here is an article at Equality Matters with multiple links to experts who debunk the bathroom myth.

Of course this myth won’t die in Right Wing or fundie circles.  But it needs to be countered every time it rears its head.  And more cisgender people need to speak up and push back against the bathroom myth.  We are the ones with the privilege. We are the ones in the position to help tear down the system that oppresses and discriminates against transgender women and men.

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 Lifetime ban on gay men giving blood endorsed by FDA

Last week, the Food and Drug Administration’s Blood Products Advisory Panel met to discuss lifting the government’s 31-year-old ban on blood donations from men who have sex with men. Currently, any man who has had sexual contact with another man since 1977—even once, even using condoms—is barred for life from donating blood. The ban was instituted in 1983 in the early days of the AIDS crisis, when HIV testing was still rudimentary. It hasn’t been altered since.

There was some hope that the panel might support a policy recently endorsed by a nearly unanimous Department of Health and Human Services panel, which would allow gay men to donate blood if they’d been celibate for one year. But even that half-measure appeared to be too much for the panel, which closed its discussion without taking a formal vote. (The panel itself can’t make rules, but the FDA takes its suggestions very seriously when issuing guidelines.)

The panel’s refusal to advise replacing the lifetime ban with a one-year deferral—twinned with its craven refusal to go on the record as opposing it—is deeply irritating. Even more galling is its reasoning, or lack thereof: It’s clear that the advisers on the panel saw the campaign to lift the blood ban as more a political crusade than a scientific appeal. (Apparently, they haven’t checked in with American Red Cross, America’s Blood Centers, the American Association of Blood Banks, and the American Medical Association, all of which oppose the ban.) “It sounds to me like we’re talking about policy and civil rights” rather than safety and science, one adviser scoffed. Another anxiously described lowering the ban as “a leap of faith.”

This language is quite curious. The advisers were not considering abolishing the gay blood ban altogether; they were simply considering replacing it with a new ban that forces gay men to be celibate for a year before donating. Their stated opposition to gay blood donation is a fear that HIV-positive men will donate. But every blood donation is tested for HIV, and the virus can now be detected within weeks of infection. If gay men were celibate for a year before their donation, how could they possibly carry an increased risk for HIV? If they were already HIV-negative prior to a year of celibacy, how could they even have HIV at all?

Parse this chain of reasoning, and the Blood Products Advisory Panel’s true fear is obvious: It is afraid gay men will lie. The advisers won’t support a one-year deferral because they believe gay men will lie about how long they’ve been celibate in order to donate blood. There’s just no other way to justify opposition to a one-year deferral.

The panel’s skepticism might make sense if the FDA took a generally wary approach toward blood donation. But it doesn’t, to an almost comical degree. Under the current policies, a straight person who had sex with a prostitute of the opposite sex can give blood one year later. So can a straight person who had sex with an HIV-positive opposite-sex partner. Straight people who frequently have unprotected sex with multiple anonymous opposite-sex partners face no deferral at all. The FDA doesn’t seem concerned that any of these people will lie about their sexual behaviors.

This serves as a reminder that LGBT rights don’t start and end with the pursuit of marriage equality.

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Top Air Force official speaks out in favor of transgender personnel in the military

The Hill reported Wednesday that Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James said that the military is preparing to reassess its policies against including trans staff and soldiers in the nation’s war machine.

James said in an interview with USA Today, “Times change.”

The ban on trans troops, she said, “is likely to come under review in the next year or so, so I think we should stand by.”

“From my point of view, anyone who is capable of accomplishing the job should be able to serve,” James concluded.

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 TX pastor calls for the death of us “dirty faggots”.  

Not for doing anything mind you.  Just for existing.  This is homophobia at its worst. This is one human being advocating for the denial of the right to life for millions of people across the planet. He has so effectively dehumanized us that he can talk at length about killing gay people and not be bothered by it. That is so fucking hard for me to fathom. I would never treat another human being as if they were people devoid of rights, no matter how much I hated them.

Pastor Donnie Romero, founder of Stedfast Baptist Church in Fort Worth, Texas, carried on the violent message of his mentor, Pastor Steven L. Anderson – who recently called for gays to be executed to promote an “AIDS-free Christmas.”

In a sermon on Sunday, reported Right Wing Watch, Romero read from portions of Leviticus, which prescribes capital punishment for a variety of sins – including homosexuality.

“I love that part of the Bible, and I’m going to preach that part of the Bible until the day I die, and if I ever stop preaching that part of the Bible, I hope my kids tell me, ‘Dad, you’re going soft on sin. You need to get up there and rip on these queers because it’s only getting worse and worse,’” Romero said as congregants muttered “amen.” “I’m not going to stop doing it. I’m going to preach it all the time because, again, amen to what Pastor Anderson said.”

“I’m not going to let any of these dirty f*ggots inside my church,” Romero continued. “They are all pedophiles. Look in the Bible. Every time it shows the sodomites, in Genesis 19 and Judges 19, they’re always trying to rape and hurt other people. They’re relentless. They are relentless. They are predators and given an opportunity to snatch one of your children, they would do it in a heartbeat.”

Romero draws laughs from his congregation as he recalls several times he harassed strangers he perceived as homosexual — including a transgender woman in line behind him at Walmart, a “bull dyke” with a “Bart Simpson haircut,” and two teenage boys at an amusement park.

“These queers are right in front of us, and they were holding hands, and I said, ‘No, I am not going to be right next to these guys,’” Romero said. “Who knows what they’re going to do on this Ferris wheel?”

Romero said gays should be marked for death, unlike other sinners, because he said God views them as an abomination.

“It’s saying that sodomites are full of all unrighteousness,” Romero said. “That means that there is not a sin that they’re not capable of doing. You think about all these weird sins that it talks about in the Book of Leviticus – animals, child sacrifice. It’s within their reasoning to do all of them.”

I’m curious how much of the Bible this guy hasn’t read.  Does he seriously not know that these “weird sins” he speaks of were also done by heterosexuals?  Hell, his god endorses and commits genocide.

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Google+ now let’s you define your gender

Among a cascade of updates rolled out on Tuesday, the tech giant announced it will let users list their gender as more than just “Male” or “Female. In fact, according to Google software engineer Rachael Bennett’s post, Google+ users will now have access to an “infinite number of ways to express your gender identity.”

Prior to Tuesday’s update — which began its rollout on December 9 and should now be available to all users — Google allowed users to list their gender as “Male,” “Female,” or “Other” to account for those whose identities didn’t fit within a rigid gender binary.

“Now, the gender field on your profile will contain four entries, ‘Male,’ ‘Female,’ ‘Decline to state,’ and ‘Custom,’” explains Bennett. “When ‘Custom’ is selected, a freeform text field and a pronoun field will appear. You can still limit who can see your gender, just like you can now.”

These latest updates reflect similar changes recently embraced at Facebook — which in February expanded its available list of gender identities available for users to select to more than 70 different options, depending on where users live — and online dating site OKCupid, which in November announced it would allow users to choose from a wide range of gender identities and sexual orientations.

The updates to Google+, however, seem to be the most user-driven implementation of the trend to expand gender and sexuality listings on social networking sites. By allowing users to write their own identities under the “Custom” gender listing, Google has given users total freedom to self-identify however feels accurate to them. Users can also decide what pronouns they’d like the service to refer to them using, selecting male (he/him/his), female (she/her/hers), or other, using the gender-neutral singular they/their/theirs.

Good move Google.

LGBT Link Round Up 12.15.14

You will believe a human can walk on walls!

As a child, Spider-Man was my favorite superhero. I would run around the house going THWIP THWIP (the sound of his webshooters in the comic books), pretending to swing from things (I actually injured myself trying this one time). I never really cared about being able to crawl on walls, but I think if 10 year old me would have seen this video, he’d have changed his mind about that:

(via Comic Book Resources)

You will believe a human can walk on walls!

Pop Culture Link Round Up 10.25.14

Craft Brewer Admits He’s The Guy Responsible For Town’s Mysterious Count Chocula Shortage

Just in time for the spooky season, the city of Fort Collins, CO had a crunchy mystery on its hands: Someone had bought up all the boxes of Count Chocula cereal from two local grocery stores, prompting confusion and hunger in at least a few shoppers. Enough of a mystery to make the news, at least.

A puzzled shopper who says she usually eats vegetarian and organic food for most of the year wrote to The Coloradoan saying she splurges around Halloween on her favorite cereal.

“Every year I greatly look forward to the month of October when I can purchase a few boxes of this delicious chococlatey (sic) goodness,” she wrote, an effort that was stymied when both Albertson’s stores she went to were completely out of the stuff.

As it turns out, the general manager of Black Bottle, a craft brewing company, had plundered shelves in order to brew beer for the brewery’s Cerealiously beer series. Previous variations include Golden Grahams, Reese’s Puffs and Cinnamon Toast Crunch moonlighting as milk stouts, and this time it’s the Count’s turn.

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Hoverboard soars close to Kickstarter goal in just two days

As of Wednesday, Arx Pax — the start-up that says it has made the “world’s first real hoverboard” — has raised nearly all of its $250,000 goal on Kickstarter. It’s raised more than $225,000 in barely two days of listing the Hendo Hoverboard on the crowdfunding site, well ahead of the Dec. 15 closing date.

The company has a patent on a technology that creates a magnetic field beneath the board that pushes against itself, creating lift — similar to the system used inMaglev trains. It claims that compared with those other magnetic-levitation systems, its technology is “inexpensive” and “sustainable”. But there’s a hitch: The board will only hover over a surface made of a non-ferromagnetic conductor.

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Warner Brothers seeking female director for live-action Wonder Woman movie

Warner Bros. is seeking a female director for “Wonder Woman,”The Hollywood Reporter contends, meaning not one but two milestones for the film: It stands to be the first solo feature of the current wave of superhero films to star a woman, and only the second ever to be directed by one.

Lexi Alexander (“Green Street Hooligans”) was the first, with the relatively low-budget 2008 reboot “Punisher: War Zone,” an experience she talked about earlier this year withSPINOFF ONLINE. Patty Jenkins (“Monster”) was poised to be the second, when she was hired in 2011 by Marvel Studios to helm “Thor: The Dark World.” However, she left the sequel within two months, citing creative differences, to be replaced by “Game of Thrones” director Alan Taylor

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‘Organic genderless gingerbread figures’ might be the most politically correct cookies ever – Your Community

It might not have much of a ring to it, but the name of a new cookie being sold by Melbourne, Australia’s Organic Food & Wine Deli is pure gold in terms of its ability to go viral — for whatever that’s worth.

The following image of the Aussie bakery’s “Organic genderless gingerbread figures” (which just so also happen to be vegan) has been circulating the web since Tuesday when it was posted to Reddit with the caption “So this is what the world is coming to…

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What do your favorite Hollywood stars (and agents, directors, CEOs, stuntpeople etc) make a year?

We tend to think that Hollywood stars make the mondo $$.  While we’re right in many cases, things apparently aren’t the way they used to be in the industry.

FILM STAR

How bad is the decline in actor salaries over the past decade? Despite the huge sums still being raked in by such superstars as Robert Downey Jr. (his $75 million comes from his 7 percent, first-dollar slice of Iron Man 3, as well as his $12 million HTC endorsement deal) and Sandra Bullock (a 15 percent, first-dollar deal onGravity and about $10 million more for her summer hit The Heat), most actors are feeling a definite squeeze, especially those in the middle.

“If you’re [a big star], you’re getting well paid,” says one top agent, “but the middle level has been cut out.” Sometimes with a hacksaw. Leonardo DiCaprio made $25 million (including bonuses) for The Wolf of Wall Street, while co-star Jonah Hill got paid $60,000. Granted, that’s an extreme example — Hill offered to do the part for scale (and got an Oscar nomination for his trouble).

But studio cost-cutting has meant that mid-level stars are being nickel-and-dimed in ways that would have been unheard of in the gilded ’90s (i.e., Marvel Studios’ reportedly offering Mickey Rourke a mere $250,000 to star opposite Downey inIron Man 2). Before breaking out the violins, though, remember that even mid-level stars are far better off than most other actors. According to the most recent SAG statistics, the average member earns $52,000 a year, while the vast majority take home less than $1,000 a year from acting jobs.

AGENT $200K-$10M
Like everyone in Hollywood, the talent agencies have been tightening their belts. “Your biggest concern used to be, ‘Would I get a $100,000 bonus or a $200,000 bonus?’ ” recalls one veteran agent wistfully. “Ha! Things have changed.” Those bonuses still happen, they just require a hot client (or five). CAA generally pays more than WME, UTA, Gersh, ICM and Paradigm, yet salaries increasingly are tied to what an agent brings in. And an agency will overpay to lure a top agent (and his clients). Generally speaking, though, starting agents can expect to earn $50,000 to $65,000; more senior agents make around $200,000; partners make $400,000 to $700,000; and board members — like CAA’s Bryan Lourd and WME’s Patrick Whitesell and Ari Emanuel — can earn as much as $10 million. In rare circumstances, bonuses based on client earnings can turn mid-level agents into $1 million-a-year employees. In short, top talent breeds top salaries. Tracey Jacobs at UTA is said to be earning upward of $9 million — and she reps Johnny Depp.

Click the link to learn the salaries of tv stars, stuntpeople, and more.  Prepare to be depressed by the massive sums of money these people make.  Even those who don’t make the millions of dollars still do damn well.

Pop Culture Link Round Up 10.25.14

The new Air Umbrella. Available in HIS and HERS. Because one size does NOT fit all.

Do you get tired of carrying around an umbrella?

Is it a hassle to close it up after entering a restaurant?

Do you find it annoying trying to find a spot to put a wet umbrella?

Are you afraid of your umbrella flying away due to a huge gust of wind?

If you have any of these concerns, then I have found the answer for you. Introducing the Air Umbrella:

Just think, no more worrying about where to put that wet umbrella!

No more fiddling to get your umbrella open as you exit the car.

No more worrying about how those little metal prongs on the umbrella always come off.  You too can be protected from the rain with the revolutionary new Air Umbrella! Contribute to the Kickstarter for this awesome new piece of technology designed to make our lives less moist, and you can get the Air Umbrella-a for the low, low price of $88 plus shipping.  Which means you’ll spend a lot more money on the air umbrella than you would on a normal umbrella bought at CVS or Wal-Greens.  If you act now and click on the link to the Kickstarter page, you’ll get treated to this wonderful information:

Air is everywhere on the earth. The flowing air can change the moving path of the object. The faster the air moves, the greater the energy is. The jet airflow can isolate some objects. So when we make use of the airflow, we can protect ourselves from the rain drops. Then the airflow forms an umbrella without a visible cover.

Based on this idea, we designed various types of air umbrella with postgraduates from Nanjing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics from July in 2012 to August in 2013.We also tested the air umbrellas on rainy days.

Luckily, one of our samples achieved the goal of protecting one or even more persons from the rain in the test in November 2012. But the product still needed more improvement. As the sample was designed to take a large amount of airflow, the top was big, which didn’t achieve the portable characteristic.

To design a better looking product, we cooperated with a few PhD graduates from  Beijing University of Aeronautics andAstronautics to improve the design. After a year’s hard work, we finally improved the appearance of the umbrella which may influence the effect. But at least, we could really use it outdoor on rainy days.

Yeah, all of that is good, but here’s the good stuff:

Air umbrella-a is available for female,It is about 30  centimeters  in  length and 500 grams in weight,It is not scalable.The battery life is about 15 minutes.

This is Air Umbrella-a:

The female Air Umbrella. Why is it called that? I have not one fucking clue.

But wait, there’s more:

Air umbrella-b:it is the basic style.The umbrella is 50 centimeters in length and 800 grams in weight.The battery life is about 30 minutes.

That’s right ladies. You apparently cannot handle an additional 20 centimeters in length and we all know the wimmenz cannot carry 800 grams.  Gotta have something shorter and not so heavy for women, eh? Don’t worry about rushing to look up grams to pounds.  800 grams is roughly…1.76 pounds. Yeah, that’s really heavy.

Here’s a picture of the more manly Air Umbrella-b:

Disclaimer:  No sexist attitudes were involved in the creation of this device.

The new Air Umbrella. Available in HIS and HERS. Because one size does NOT fit all.

Noooo, I can’t live without QWERTY!

Eliminate the QWERTY keyboard?

None of us was even born when this keyboard style was first adopted in 1873. The reason the letters were placed as they were (rather than in alphabeticalorder like the early typewriters) was to solve a problem that existed at that time. Some people wound up typing so fast that the mechanical rods attached to the keys would stick to each other. To resolve this, the QWERTY keyboard was developed. It placed keys in such a manner that the most used letters were spaced out so that the rods were less likely to clash into each other when typing. This keyboard layout became standard with the popularity of the Remington typewriter which was the first to use it, and all other manufacturers fell in line.

So here we are, more than 140 years later, using a keyboard layout designed to fix a problem that no longer exists. How many people today use a typewriter? How many have even seen one? We have an entire generation growing up today with mobile devices, and even these use the QWERTY layout!

I’m not the world’s fastest typist, but I think I’m decent.  I’m also really accustomed to QWERTY keyboards. Waaaaah! I don’t wanna re-learn how to type!  ::Stomps foot petulantly::

So why do we persist with the QWERTY layout? Because everyone has somehow learned to use it, and most of us have become so good at it that we type without even having to look at the individual keys any more. To get used to a different layout would almost be like learning a different language.

I’m part of that everyone. I don’t especially want to change to a different type of keyboard, but if there’s a significant benefit to be gained, either to me (something like “RING, RING: You have a collect call from Apple’s CEO offering you $25 million to test out their new ABCD keyboard. Will you accept the charges?”) or society at large, I would try it out.  Plus, it’s not as if one day every keyboard in the world would vanish, to be replaced by some newfangled keyboard.  I’m sure the current ones would slowly fade out.

Noooo, I can’t live without QWERTY!

Noooo, I can't live without QWERTY!

Eliminate the QWERTY keyboard?

None of us was even born when this keyboard style was first adopted in 1873. The reason the letters were placed as they were (rather than in alphabeticalorder like the early typewriters) was to solve a problem that existed at that time. Some people wound up typing so fast that the mechanical rods attached to the keys would stick to each other. To resolve this, the QWERTY keyboard was developed. It placed keys in such a manner that the most used letters were spaced out so that the rods were less likely to clash into each other when typing. This keyboard layout became standard with the popularity of the Remington typewriter which was the first to use it, and all other manufacturers fell in line.

So here we are, more than 140 years later, using a keyboard layout designed to fix a problem that no longer exists. How many people today use a typewriter? How many have even seen one? We have an entire generation growing up today with mobile devices, and even these use the QWERTY layout!

I’m not the world’s fastest typist, but I think I’m decent.  I’m also really accustomed to QWERTY keyboards. Waaaaah! I don’t wanna re-learn how to type!  ::Stomps foot petulantly::

So why do we persist with the QWERTY layout? Because everyone has somehow learned to use it, and most of us have become so good at it that we type without even having to look at the individual keys any more. To get used to a different layout would almost be like learning a different language.

I’m part of that everyone. I don’t especially want to change to a different type of keyboard, but if there’s a significant benefit to be gained, either to me (something like “RING, RING: You have a collect call from Apple’s CEO offering you $25 million to test out their new ABCD keyboard. Will you accept the charges?”) or society at large, I would try it out.  Plus, it’s not as if one day every keyboard in the world would vanish, to be replaced by some newfangled keyboard.  I’m sure the current ones would slowly fade out.

Noooo, I can't live without QWERTY!

Science link roundup 10.4.14

No more oxygen masks?

We’re not quite there yet, but University of Southern Denmark scientists have developed a crystalline material that absorbs oxygen from water and air, and stores it for future use.

 The aptly named “Aquaman Crystal” uses cobalt to work its magic, and it doesn’t need a lot — just a few grains provides enough oxygen for the first breath. As the research team notes, because the material can continually absorb oxygen from the water, a diver would only need to bring a tiny amount underwater in order to breathe without a tank.

“It is also interesting that the material can absorb and release oxygen many times without losing the ability,” said Christine McKenzie, one of the scientists involved with the project. “It is like dipping a sponge in water, squeezing the water out of it and repeating the process over and over again.”

It has uses beyond diving, too. The scientists note that the material can also be used to help lung patients who breathe with the help of an oxygen tank.

“When the substance is saturated with oxygen, it can be compared to an oxygen tank containing pure oxygen under pressure — the difference is that this material can hold three times as much oxygen,” McKenzie said.

(via Mic)

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19 year old college fresher in Kenya aims to stop elephant poachers

While searching for this pic, I discovered many images of elephant poaching. My stomach churned. Part of me wanted to hurl. The images I saw were graphic and revolting. That people could do such a thing to an animal is abominable.

With the help of her classmates, the 19-year-old freshman at Strathmore University in Nairobi City, Kenya developed a sensor to let park rangers know when poachers have entered a wildlife preserve. The result was shown at the United Nations Social Good Summit last month.

[…]

She and her class received support from Innovate Kenya, a program that awards funding to students who pitch solutions to local problems. This particular solution involves Arduinos, which are little sensors that detect nearby movement. By placing enough of them around park borders, authorities will know if someone sneaks in (and alert them to the presence of wildfire, another issue).

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Epic eruption of volcano in Iceland captured on video by drone

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Things I did not know about cheese

But now I do, thanks to this article. I even know the answer to a question I never thought to ask (and am still shaking my head over): Can you make cheese out of human breast milk?

Other questions that are answered-

  • Why is cheese yellow?
  • Why are some people told to avoid raw-milk cheese (incidentally, this is a serious one.  Raw milk is not pasteurized, which is the process by which pathogens are eliminated from milk, which greatly reduces your chances of y’know DYING from consuming dairy products)?
  • Where do the holes in cheese come from?
  • Can lactose intolerant people eat cheese?
  • What is the difference between making cheese and yogurt?
  • Why are certain varieties of cheese made in specific places?
  • Why do fresh cheese curds squeak?

There’s a final question, but I won’t include it, bc it’s too cheesy.

Science link roundup 10.4.14