Here we go,
1. There are no boys from Brazil - all those freakish blonde twins are the work of inbreeding, not the Nazis.
2. Converting the the moon program to run on biodiesel - is there nothing that the agricultural corps can't get there dirty hands into?
3. New evidence pointing to a giant flood that trashed the Black Sea after the last ice age. Or, why yes, there is proof of Noah's flood, but evangelical grandpa, you won't be happy about it....
4. Mountain Gorilla numbers are increasing in the Congo, despite human civil war.
5. Computer modeling raises doubt on how planets formed in the proto-solar system.
6. Plants developed the ability to hold themselves up before they ever made it to land. There's lignin in some seaweed, people!
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
Here we go,
I work in radio. I aspire to do keep working in radio. And most of my future media plans involve some form of radio.
But there has been a big disconnect between radio content and digital radio availability.
Sure, I can stream radio over the internet, or receive satellite radio, or listen to podcasts on my ipod. But what I can't do is stream radio over a handheld device that doesn't need the gatekeeper of a home computer.
For years there have been designs, and some experiments, but nothing has really hit the market.
Hopefully, that will soon change.
My friend Grant Surridge covers media for the Financial Post. In a recent story, he spoke with a couple guys in the radio business. The hope is that broadcasters will push to provide wi-fi capability and build a market for wi-fi radio. The concern is that wi-fi will only be available in cities, and new devices will cost hundreds of dollars.
But there is another way - hack the system and provide apps that will take/clone streaming sources onto your wi-fi enabled phone or player. The idea that a separate device is essential is top-heavy and doesn't mesh with radio history.
As for worries that wi-fi radio would be city centric - so what? Digital radio is only available in cities, Satellite radio is only really available in urban areas, and you can't get high-speed internet in the bush.
Radio started out big when all you needed was a transmitter and people to buy expensive living room sets. But when the handheld portable radio took off, radio became a colossal titan that ate away at government broadcasters and started the pirate radio network in Europe.
The ipod has done a similar job, except it's controlled by the Apple Oligarch.
But bandwidth, if not free, can be super cheap- I'm broadcasting a wi-fi signal right now. And production of code is open source.
Audio streaming is already out there. It just has to be liberated.
The radio picture is a National Panasonic Radio model RF-93, circa 1970. Found via galessa's plastics'
Tuesday, January 27, 2009
Sterling's post on the salish wool dog brought up some interesting points about how dogs became domesticated in the first place. I couldn't let this topic fade away without bringing up the case of the tame silver foxes at a farm in Siberia. But first, a couple of things.
The Nova video at the end of the post put forward two theories:
1) Ancient peoples went through thousands and thousands of trial-and-error attempts to domesticate wolves by raising pups.
2) Wolves domesticated themselves when the tamer individuals started eating from garbage dumps created when human villages first sprung up.
The proponent of the second theory seems to do a pretty good job of poking holes in the first theory, but we never hear a rebuttal of the second.
Personally, I think the second theory is very sound, but that it doesn't go far enough.
If you haven't read the New York Times story linked above about the silver foxes, I'll give you the coles notes version now: Essentially, for 40 years, a Siberian fur farmer has only allowed the tamest of his foxes to breed. The end result is that over the course of 35 generations, the farm has created a domesticated fox. Interestingly enough, it's not just the behaviour of the animals that's changed, their appearance has as well:
To me, this research goes a long way toward backing up the first theory in the Nova video: That humans, through trial and error, domesticated dogs. I can't get over the nagging doubts raised about that theory, specifically that humans, when they were spending so much of their energy on day-to-day survival, didn't the time or effort available to go through the trouble of domesticating a wolf, especially since by bringing a wolf into their lifes, they were bringing with them a very real danger if they failed in taming the animal.
Dr. Trut wrote that by breeding the tamest animals from each of about 35 successive generations, the final offspring were not only tame from early puppyhood but also looked different from their wild forebears.
The normal pattern of coat color that evolved in wild foxes as camouflage changed markedly in the genetically tamed fox population, with irregular piebald splotches of white fur appearing in some animals. The tame foxes sometimes developed floppy ears in place of the straight ones of wild foxes. The domesticated foxes generally had shorter legs and tails than ordinary foxes, and often had curly tails instead of straight, horizontal tails.
Moreover, the faces of adult tame foxes came to look more juvenile than the faces of wild adults, and many of the experimental animals developed dog-like features, Dr. Trut reported. Although no selective pressures relating to size or shape were used in breeding the animals, the skulls of tamable foxes tended to be narrower with shorter snouts than those of wild foxes.
So this, presented as someone who has very limited training in the field of animal psychology and watched an eight minute video and then read an article on the topic, is my theory:
Tamer wolves started hanging out in dumps. Not being as scared of humans, tameness started to be selected for in a certain group. After many generations, and the animals becoming much tamer, humans started bringing the tamest of the wolves (could they even really be called wolves at this point?) into their homes and from there, finished off the long domestication process.
Phew. Yes, I did just write a long post that essentially could have been written in one line saying "It's a combination of the two!" but that wouldn't have been very interesting at all, would it?
Anyone have any thoughts on this? Please, poke holes!
Before Hudson Bay blankets were available to coastal first nations,
a special breed of dog filled the niche of the domesticated sheep.
The Salish Wool Dog was a small, fluffy, white animal that was kept for it's long, thin hair.
Just picture it, longhouses along the beach, war canoes above the high-tide zone,
and pen with white dogs in them. And when it came time to harvest the wool, the people sheared them like sheep.
Imagine, shearing a dog, in a time when metal razors and electric clippers were non-existent.
But keeping the dogs, and making sure they kept pure, was hard work. So when yards of wool were only a good trade away, this little white dog was left to interbreed with the camp dogs.
The last known wool dog died out in the early 20th century.
To find out more about the now extinct wool dog, I had a conversation with Susan Crockford, evolutionary biologist and dog specialist.
She spoke with me in a room filled with bones while I handled the skull of a now extinct domestic breed.
Susan is a really interesting scientist. She has published a theory that simple changes in they thyroid can change to drastic and lasting changes in a species.
She says this explains the way that most species are domesticated.
And the really interesting part? This theory explains how dogs domesticated themselves.
Check out this video from Nova:
Friday, January 23, 2009
The V2 rocket is the progenitor of modern rockets, but they started as a weapon of war.
Over 1400 of these rockets were launched at England in 1944 and 1945.
One of these rockets struck Geoffrey Voss's farm. The rocket caused massive damage, but a few pieces of german tech made it through the explosion. More than sixty years later, Geoffrey still has a few of the bits, including a working, electric fuel-pump from the rocket's motor.
I first met Geoffrey while searching for story ideas. In my business, you need stories everyday to fill the maw of broadcast time. And I had nothing. So I googled "Victoria"and "rockets." Two days later, this piece aired on the Mother Corp.
Music - Django Reinhardt - Nuages
Thursday, January 15, 2009
Ever wanted to be a pilot, but didn't want to go through years of flight training only to have your actions in the air restricted by what air traffic controllers tell you can or can't do? Well friends, that future is soon.
The Icon A5, a small personal aircraft with wings that fold up for easy storage, is the answer to your prayers. And it can be yours for a cool $139,000. Seems expensive, but for what it is, you can't really get a better deal anywhere (not yet, anyway.)
Wednesday, January 14, 2009
By now, I'm guessing most of you have heard that U.K. researchers have linked large daily intakes of caffeine to an increased risk of hallucinating.
I'm also guessing that there at least a few of you are reading this after a Google along the lines of "how do i use caffeine to get high." If that's how you got here, let me tell you a short story.
In high school, a friend of mine was just the type of guy who would have typed the above phrase into Google if the internet had been as all knowing as it is today. Not having the Internet to guide him, but looking for new and exciting ways to get high, he crushed up a coffee bean and smoked it in a pipe. The following is not an exact quote, but it's how I remember him telling me about his experience:
It was good for about a second, exciting even. Then I lost my peripheral vision, it was wasn't there anymore. Then the blackness starting spreading and I had real tunnel vision. Pretty soon I couldn't see anything. I didn't feel high, I just felt like I was going blind. I was scared. Then, about 20 minutes of freaking out later, My vision started coming back.
I'm never doing that again.
So I guess if you want an answer to the question-mark-less question "how do i use caffeine to get high", I guess the answer is that you probably shouldn't.
* The future soon does not advocate the use of drugs illegal or otherwise. You should talk to a medical professional about anything you want to put in your body. We assume no responsibility for any stupid decisions any reader may make, whether that decision involves drug use, financial matters, poor relationship decisions or anything else.
Posted by Chris at 1/14/2009 04:52:00 PM
Tuesday, January 13, 2009
All is Science!
Here we go:
1. Hunting is speeding up natural selection... and it's not a good thing.
2. Get ready to strut your stuff in your chicken feather suit.
3. Where the bison roam, domestic cattle are kept safe from disease.
4. Galaxies are formed around the ultimate destruction - black holes form before galaxies.
5. Bats and wind turbines don't mix.
6. Why getting rid of some invasive species can cause bigger problems - when the cats away, the rabbits destroy everything.
Sunday, January 11, 2009
History of the Internet from PICOL on Vimeo.
It's been a while since I've posted an infographic.
A great primer on the history of the internet from graphic artist Melih Bilgil.
From timesharing to filesharing and from Arpanet to the Internet, this film has it all. It's the best 7 minute short you'll see all day.
Found via Infosthetics
Friday, January 9, 2009
This fantastic short animation by Adrien "CaYuS" Toupet, Clément Delatre & Looky is a perfect gem of revolutionary naivete, dystopianism and art noveau design.
The story of a revolutionary poster artist who designs Alphonse Mucha inspired agitprop, this five minutes is better than any full length steampunk film.
And it uses a design premise which it too often associated with the non-industrial - Art Nouveau.
Art Nouveau was inspired by what the machine would allow society to produce. Born beside mass production, this art form shunned the idea of a single craftsman for the utopian dream of human ingenuity paired with technology and new materials. Art Nouveau wasn't an art movement that coddled the artist and kept them in the past, but a basis of thought that questioned what was possible and strove the designer to innovate.
Sure, the character Cheri draws the product by hand, but by hooking her mind up to the steam-powered fabricator, she is using high technology and bypassing the one-off construction. She uses the tools of oppression to creat her art, and later die for it.
Before I sound too bolshi, the steam guns of the armoured police rock. And the thought of industrial wastelands lurking in the heart of Hausmann-like city blocks has a strong Mieville-like feel.
This film feels revolutionary.
It feels real.
And it leaves me wanting more of this story.
La Main des Maîtres
Interview with La Main des Maitres Team