A Study in Conflict Between Island Cultures (Repost)

It doesn’t get much play in the publicly-available cultural anthropology literature, but there’s an island in the Pacific where an interesting conflict has played out over generations. The island, which has an untranslatable name – generally rendered in English as  “Ryeezahn” –  is occupied by two tribes, the Kritsi and the Syenz, which have been at war for generations, a war temporarily restrained in an uneasy peace. The root of the conflict, as visiting anthropologists have … [Read more...]

Dear Mr. President

Oh man, I am so glad you won. Whew! Mitt Romney just scared the hell out of me. And Ryan a heartbeat away from the presidency? No way! I know you have a lot on your plate right now, but ... I’m going to toss one more serving up there. “ABCD by 2023” is an ambitious scientific research project I’d like to see Americans undertake. Briefly, it’s a 10-year Apollo-style project against four diseases: Alzheimer’s. Birth defects. Cancer. Diabetes. For the rest of it, I hope you’ll … [Read more...]

How the Wind Does Blow

I don't know why this intrigues me so much, but there's a place online where you can see close-to-realtime maps of the actual WIND — Wind Map — in motion! Click to zoom, mouse-hover to see the wind speed at any point, and look at some of the past maps to see weird and wonderful patterns of the river of atmosphere flowing over and around us. … [Read more...]

Balls Out at the Speed of Sound

There are a lot of "stunts" I don't care much for. David Blaine standing for 72 hours in a chamber with Tesla-coil lightning ... well, he might as well have stood there for 72 hours with a coin taped to his forehead. When I was about 5 years old I decided I would stay up all night by myself, just to see what it was like. The answer is: Boring. Ditto for David Blaine. Yes, it's sort of impressive that someone can stand on their feet for 72 hours without a bathroom break. But it's the standing … [Read more...]

October Is Flexagon Month. Wait … What?

Flexagons: Fun. I first got to play with them back in the 60s. I always wanted a flexagon business card.   … [Read more...]

Our Lady of the Shitty Tools

Anybody who’s ever worked with hand tools will recognize what I’m about to say: You can buy shitty tools. I mean, there are companies out there who actually make and sell shitty tools. Tools deliberately MADE to break, or perform badly during use. It’s a price-point thing, of course. … [Read more...]

60th Birthday Whale Watching Tour a Success!

I done seen whales! But you don't get to see them unless you click below the fold. The pictures are so awesome, so breathtaking, that I fear you will be awed and breath-taked to the point that you'll pass out and fall onto a smaller, less massive bystander — possibly a child or a dog. Meanwhile, content yourself with this picture of an extremely rare bird known as a "sea gull." (Click to embiggen.) … [Read more...]

Visits from Dead People — Part 1

When I was younger, I used to play with myself. No, not like that. Okay, well, yes like that, but that’s not what I meant. (Too much information, huh? The hell with it, I’m leaving it in. We’re all sexy beasts here.) What I mean is that I used to play with different parts of my body, to see what I could learn from them, to see what they would do. … [Read more...]

Monster Under the Bed Scientifically Identified!

Given the common name of the thing, I would swear the Neoclinus blanchardi is a spoof. (Click the pic to embiggen.) Yet Wikipedia describes it thus: … [Read more...]

Proof: Six Percent of Us Would Kill

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