Monday, July 31, 2006

Quotable | Beggar

The beggar wears heaven and earth as his summer clothes. --Kikaku (1661-1707), haiku master

Whinery?

This story might be of interest to my brother and sister-in-law. (They have their own little winery).
grapes.jpb |  image hosted by arstechnica.com

Multi-Tasking, Memory, and Learning

I have heard that there is no true multi-tasking as far as the human mind is concerned. The mind may be able to jump from one task to another quite rapidly, but it can still only focus on one task at a time. This study would suggest that the more tasks you put your mind to, the less effective you will be at some or all of them. Hmmm... Maybe I should not be listening to music at work.
You can multi-task, but don't expect to learn anything posted at NOBEL INTENT by John Timmer July 28, 2006 @ 2:04PM

The results of a new study on the process of memory that's been released online by PNAS have some obvious implications for the process of learning in our increasingly distracting world. In this study, researchers matched activity in different regions of the brain with different aspects of memory during a learning process. What the researchers term "habit memory" is the ability to perform very specific tasks, which doesn't require much in the way of conscious thought. Acquiring this capacity causes activity in a structure called the striatum. Declarative memory seems to invoke a full recognition of a process, requires more conscious effort, and allows more flexibility, such as applying this recognition to unfamiliar situations. Learning of this type causes activity in the medial temporal lobe of the hippocampus.

Where does multitasking come in...?

[ Full Entry ]

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Friday Not-Quite-Pet Blogging | Mothra!

Look who came to visit the Brainwise Research Center:

Behold ... Mothra!!

More photographic evidence here.

Support pet blogging! View more pet blogging posts!

More Pet Blogging
  1. See the Friday Ark, featuring a compilation of today's pet blogging posts, over at The Modulator.
  2. Check the M&O Archives for some previous Milo & Otis appearances.
  3. Carnival of the Cats, coming at you every Sunday.
  4. And one of the funniest/cutest/obsessivest (OK, I know that's not a word!) sites for cat photos, StuffOnMyCat.com is a must see. Take it from them: Stuff + Cats = Awesome!

Friday Pet Blogging | Postal

Earlier this month, I was going through some mail and I received a 401(k) report from one of my previous employers. As per my SOP, I tossed the empty envelope on the floor so that I could later collect it for recycling. Otis, however, had other ideas:

"Rahrrr ... Envelope makes for good roughage."

"Whoa! That sucker almost got away from me."

"Stay calm, everyone. I've got things under control now."

"Heh heh ... Can't do this with email."

"Phew ... Postal work is hard work."
See more pics of Otis' paper match here. Support pet blogging! View more pet blogging posts!

More Pet Blogging
  1. See the Friday Ark, featuring a compilation of today's pet blogging posts, over at The Modulator.
  2. Check the M&O Archives for some previous Milo & Otis appearances.
  3. Carnival of the Cats, coming at you every Sunday.
  4. And one of the funniest/cutest/obsessivest (OK, I know that's not a word!) sites for cat photos, StuffOnMyCat.com is a must see. Take it from them: Stuff + Cats = Awesome!

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Getting Fizzy With It

A friend sent an interesting link to me. It's to a site that sells something called ... The Fizz Cup. My first impression is that it is one of those things that could only exist in a movie or tv show that was trying to capture the feel of ... I don't know, something like the 50's crammed into the 80's. Here, take a look for yourself: So, what do you think? Does anyone have one of these things?

Friday Pet Blogging | Cribbin'

This week on Cat's Cribs, Otis dishes on carpet-covered co-ops. Yeah, the accomodations are cramped, but it's definitely a party pad:

"I'm Otis. Welcome to my crib!"

Support pet blogging! View more pet blogging posts!

More Pet Blogging
  1. See the Friday Ark, featuring a compilation of today's pet blogging posts, over at The Modulator.
  2. Check the M&O Archives for some previous Milo & Otis appearances.
  3. Carnival of the Cats, coming at you every Sunday.
  4. And one of the funniest/cutest/obsessivest (OK, I know that's not a word!) sites for cat photos, StuffOnMyCat.com is a must see. Take it from them: Stuff + Cats = Awesome!

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Quotable | Perfect Bureaucracy

The red tape is unbelievable. Egyptians invented bureaucracy 5,000 years ago, and they've really perfected it. -- Donald Redford, a Professor of Classics and Ancient Mediterranean Studies at Pennsylvania State University, on dealing with Eqyptian authorities. Source: The Penn Stater (July/August 2006) "Have Trowel, Will Travel" Page 16

Dirty Deeds Indeed

"It started out as playing games, but this time she pushed me too far Oh no, the damage is done She's the one to blame, she's got my soul I just can't seem to leave her alone Far too late, I found out what you were up to. I don't wanna live like this, but now it seems there ain't no way back Oh no, I'm caught in a trap."

Now that there is nowhere to run, need an alibi! -- Adapted from Alibi (Vandenberg, 1985)

I cannot believe what I heard on the radio this morning. Michael Smerconish (MASTALK.com), a local morning talk show host, interviewed someone from Alibi Network. You read that correctly: Alibi Network (alibinetwork.com). For a fee, these guys will back up just about any (legal) story you concoct. You want to get out of a boring dinner party? Alibi Network can give you the chance to excuse yourself with a Rescue Call. (It's their most popular service, ya know). You want your boss to think you attended an out-of-town seminar? Alibi Network will set you up with proof of your stay in a hotel and provide you with a certificate of completion for the seminar! Told your wife you are going fishing with the boys instead of your real destination? Alibi Network can purchase the fishing equipment, have "the boys" (a few actors) pick you up, provide a phone service for where you are "staying", use the equipment (for added realism, natch), and then have the boys drop you off home again and wave to your wife. Depending on your situation, AN can even provide you with a dial in center so that your calls home or to your boss will look like they are coming from the location you specify -- even if you aren't anywhere near that location! Sound shady? It sure sounds that way to me! Now, supposedly, there are legitimate reasons for going to all the trouble of a professional alibi. Such as, um ... covering your tracks when planning an elaborate surprise party. And if you use this service, at least you're not dragging a friend into the lie du jour. I guess that's something. But my gut tells me that most of these folks are up to no good. Is it any wonder that trust and honesty are seen in increasingly rare supply? You have been warned. Trust no one!

Friday, July 14, 2006

Friday Pet Blogging | Kool Kitty

Sometimes, Otis just wants to get into that window behind the couch -- the window that holds the air conditioner -- like a kid who wants a toy. And he can be pretty insistent. I guess he can get some quality bird-watching in while sitting on the AC. Last month, I was in a good position to take a few pics:

"Suprise! It's me!! The *real* Slim Shady."

"Whoa! Head rush."

See the whole set. Support pet blogging! View more pet blogging posts! Here are some suggestions...

More Pet Blogging
  1. See the Friday Ark, featuring a compilation of today's pet blogging posts, over at The Modulator.
  2. Check the M&O Archives for some previous Milo & Otis appearances.
  3. Carnival of the Cats, coming at you every Sunday.
  4. And one of the funniest/cutest/obsessivest (OK, I know that's not a word!) sites for cat photos, StuffOnMyCat.com is a must see. Take it from them: Stuff + Cats = Awesome!

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Soooo Steamy

OK. Get your minds out of the gutter! I'm merely gushing over this steam powered iMac I saw posted over at TUAW:
Now that's a computer that Jules Verne could love. Smokin'!

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Tobacco to Kill 1 Billion!

Puff ... One Beeeeee-leee-on!
Tobacco expected to kill 1 billion this century Associated Press Updated: 7:07 p.m. ET July 10, 2006 Smoking accounts for 1 in 5 cancer deaths, new reference guides report

WASHINGTON - If current trends hold, tobacco will kill a billion people this century, 10 times the toll it took in the 20th century, public health officials said Monday. Tobacco accounts for one in five cancer deaths, or 1.4 million deaths worldwide each year, according to two new reference guides that chart global tobacco use and cancer. Lung cancer remains the major cancer among the 10.9 million new cases of cancer diagnosed each year, according to the Cancer Atlas...

[ Full Story ]

OK. My local paper posted the headline as "Tobacco to kill 1 billion this century". Other outlets posted "Tobacco may kill 1 billion this century" [emphasis mine] as the title for the story. All I want to know is ... with that kind of potential, when will the Bush Administration declare war on Tobacco exporting countries? And before you cast your ballot, check out the map from the story:
Oh, I also want to know how many people subscribe to the Cancer Atlas mistakenly thinking it is an astrology publication.

Where Psychology and (Xtian) Theology Meet

Do we really need another book about Psychology and Christianity? I say that because the book in question is only dealing with Christian theology. And the pros and cons about mixing the two have just about been done to death. I'm sure Psychology benefits from a spiritual perspective -- refer to the works of Jung as well as the concept of Spiritual Emergency (or, simply, Emergence). And, although there are fraud psychologists or psychiatrists out there, I would imagine that folks who dismiss psychology would be lumped into the same weird bin as Tom Cruise or these people. Anyway, this seems like a fairly good (or at least "fair" as in "fair minded") review of Why Psychology Needs Theology.
Where Psychology and Theology Meet By The Rev. Curtis Hart (July 6, 2006) One reviewer argues that Why Psychology Needs Theology betrays a lack of interdisciplinary dialogue

Title: Why Psychology Needs Theology: A Radical-Reformation Perspective (206 pages. $24 paperback) Author: Alvin Dueck and Cameron Lee, eds. Publisher: Grand Rapids, Mich. Eerdmans, 2005. The goal of psychology, at least in part, is to enhance personal fulfillment. What modern psychologists ignore, though, is that self-denial is key to attaining this fulfillment... One drawback: The book's idiom -- an extended effort to arrive at a viable Christian psychology -- makes it quite inaccessible to non-Christians, particularly non-Protestants...

[ Full Story ]

Barter Meister Meister Barter

This certainly eclipses any kind of trade I've made in my life to date. Even trading in the stock options from my last employer resulted in a gain that was less than a typical down payment.
Man Trades Items From Paper Clip to House By BRIAN BERGSTEIN, AP Kyle MacDonald started his quest last July with an ad on Craigslist.org

(July 10) - Taking a paper clip and turning it into a house sounds like a cheesy magic trick or a phony instance of resourcefulness on the 1980s TV show "MacGyver."

Kyle MacDonald, however, has pulled it off.

One year ago, the 26-year-old blogger from Montreal set out to barter one red paper clip for something and that thing for something else, over and over again until he had a house...

[ Full Story ]

Friday, July 07, 2006

Friday Pet Blogging | Perch

Milo usually shuns publicity. This should be pretty much evident just by the sheer volume of Otis pics in the Milo & Otis portfolio. It's not that Otis is any more photogenic or loved than Milo. It's just that Milo has a tendency to avoid the limelight (or the digital camera's flash, as the case may be). But last night, Mrs. Brainwise was able to snap a whole bunch of pics while Milo sat politely on the ... um ... on the, well, on whatever that cat-scratching-post/tunnel-toy thing is. To paraphrase a Peanuts character: "Isn't he just the cutest thing?!"

"What are you staring at?"

See more images from this set. Support pet blogging! View more pet blogging posts! Here are some suggestions...

More Pet Blogging
  1. See the Friday Ark, featuring a compilation of today's pet blogging posts, over at The Modulator.
  2. Check the M&O Archives for some previous Milo & Otis appearances.
  3. Carnival of the Cats, coming at you every Sunday.
  4. And one of the funniest/cutest/obsessivest (OK, I know that's not a word!) sites for cat photos, StuffOnMyCat.com is a must see. Take it from them: Stuff + Cats = Awesome!

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Quotable | Eyes Shut

I shut my eyes in order to see. -- Paul Gauguin (1848 - 1903), Post-Impressionist artist
Eyes wide shut ... That trick might work for art, and certainly for meditative contemplation. But it's downright dangerous during rush hour. (And it didn't help a particular flick much, neither).

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Quotable | Devoted Tyrant

A tyrant must put on the appearance of uncommon devotion to religion. Subjects are less apprehensive of illegal treatment from a ruler whom they consider god-fearing and pious. On the other hand, they do less easily move against him, believing that he has the gods on his side. --Aristotle, philosopher (384-322 BCE)

Wharton: Coffee Wars

Via the Knowledge@Wharton e-newsletter:

The Coffee Wars Heat Up: New Strategies to Jolt the Caffeine-Conscious Consumer

Warren Buffett once called the cigarette the perfect product: "It costs a penny to make. Sell it for a dollar. It's addictive." Much the same could be said about coffee today. Even a costly coffee drink -- Starbucks sells its lattes for about $3.50, depending on the location -- consists of little more than a cup of water, a splash of milk, a spoonful of coffee grinds and 30 seconds of labor. Starbucks has managed to turn its customers' craving for caffeine into a $6.4 billion a year business. It already has about 6,000 company-owned coffeehouses and claims to open five more each day. All of which explains why so many sellers of fast food and drink seem intent on taking away some of its highly profitable market share...

[Full Article | Play Audio | Download Audio]

Published: April 19, 2006

Prior to 2003, I only rarely imbibed a cup of coffee. When I did get a proverbial cup of joe, it was usually as a pick-me-up halfway through a 6-hour drive, through the dead of night, to visit my parents. However, during the fall of 2003, I was hip deep in theater projects that kept me out late three or four nights out of the week, and I usually had to awake early to drive to my day job. So on those mornings that seemed to come far too soon, I would hit a Starbucks. Since that time, I have developed an at-least-one-cup-a-day habit. For a while, I could only drink one of those "fancy" drinks that drive Starbucks' popularity (and profits). But within the last year, I have been able to tone down, even though I still cannot take my coffee black. I now take my coffee -- iced or hot -- with a little (sugar-free) vanilla syrup and a bit of cream. And I can even brew and "season" my own coffee for the morning commute. But ... since I am currently on crutches, I find it too difficult to carry home-brewed java to my car. So I rely on the drive-thru at either a Starbucks or a Dunkin' Donuts. And I have to admit ... I prefer Starbucks' fare -- and service -- to that of Dunkin' Donuts. Should I feel guilty about any of this?