Here's an interesting TED lecture on some of the possibilities for small, agile, flying robots.  The possibilities for exploring dangerous places, such as collapsed buildings or gangsters' hideouts, are great.  If only they didn't sound so much like a swarm of bees....

Posted by sursumcorda on Saturday, March 23, 2013 at 7:32 am | Edit
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I've set my alarm to remind me to pay attention at 12:12:12 today; otherwise it's sure to slide past unnoticed.  I'm sure if I'd check Facebook someone would remind me, but....

Posted by sursumcorda on Wednesday, December 12, 2012 at 10:15 am | Edit
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Porter says this BBC story is a good summary of what he saw when visiting the Boeing plant on his visit to Seattle.  Enjoy!  Pretty WOW, I think.

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Sorry about the extraneous "-->".  It's in the BBC's code, and I'm not taking the time to mess with it. Sorry, too, about the ad at the beginning; that also is theirs  If you happen to get the Air New Zealand one, though, it's pretty cool itself.

Posted by sursumcorda on Saturday, December 8, 2012 at 9:49 am | Edit
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While I'm gathering mental energy for a response to Stephan's thought-provoking comment below, here's an easy post for your holiday enjoyment.  You don't have to know much music theory to enjoy it, but some basic knowledge helps.  (H/T Ruth from the WWMB!)

That does it; I'm inspired:  Joseph's next PowerPoint collection will include intervals.

Posted by sursumcorda on Thursday, November 29, 2012 at 8:12 pm | Edit
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For Heather, Janet, and all who are great mothers but sometimes feel intimidated by how far they are from meeting their own standards.  Today's Family Circus says it all.

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Posted by sursumcorda on Friday, November 16, 2012 at 8:31 am | Edit
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Just for fun, check out these video clips from the Duggar family's visit to Japan.  These are from YouTube, so hopefully they won't be blocked for the only two regular readers who are likely to understand them.  Perhapse Joseph might catch some numbers.  :)  It would be great katakana/hiragana practice if things didn't move so fast.  Nonetheless, they're fun to watch even if you don't understand Japanese.

The interview.

A carnival?  Janet, are they making mochi at the end?  It made me hungry!

Posted by sursumcorda on Thursday, November 15, 2012 at 7:41 am | Edit
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I love Air New Zealand.  Back in 1997, we flew Air New Zealand to ... well, to New Zealand!  It was the longest flight I've every taken; nonetheless, it was the most enjoyable.  They actually encouraged us to get up and walk laps around the spacious jet, instead of restricting us to one small aisle and requiring us to remain seated most of the time.  The food was great, too.

Unfortunately, I don't see the opportunity to check out what might have changed in the ensuing 15 years, but if this safety video is any indication, they're still a great airline.  I've flown enough to be bored and blasé when the attendents begin to instruct us how to fasten our seat belts, but this presentation would have my full attention.  I enourage you to watch it full-screen.  Thanks, Dawn, for sharing it!

Posted by sursumcorda on Saturday, November 3, 2012 at 6:39 pm | Edit
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I appear to be in the mood for quick posts sharing other people's brilliance.  They're much more entertaining than what I can come up with on my own at the moment.  Try me again after Li'l Writer Guy is revived by a week with four creative and lively grandchildren.  :)

This gem is from thduggie's blog, the work of a creative and lively son-in-law.  Thanks, Stephan!

A Modern Once-ler

“You’re Glumping the pond where the Humming-Fish hummed!
No more can they hum, for their gills are all gummed.”

“Oh no!  OMG!  Mr. Lorax, I’m bummed!
I’m glad you have told me, for I do not wish
To cause the demise of these dear Humming-Fish.
So I’ll tweet a tweet from my satellite dish
To make sure my followers all are aware.
For, once they’re aware, I am sure they will care
And caring, aware, as a group we will dare
To start a petition, a fundraiser – sure,
A Kickstarter project, a race for the cure:
These sick fish are more than what I can endure!
And then, with the funding and grassroots support,
We’ll clean up the gills, and if that should fall short,
We’ll hire some experts, the scientist sort,
Who’ll work on a coating that we can apply
To Humming-Fish gills.  I am sure that will fly!
Those gills, they will auto-de-gloppetify!
Our problem is solved.  Boy, you gave me a fright!
I’ll buy an indulgence on eBay tonight,
If offers are there and the prices are right.
On Farmville I’ll plant a few truffula seeds
And tell all my friends they’re what everyone needs.
There.  Now can I get back to knitting my Thneeds?”

Posted by sursumcorda on Tuesday, October 16, 2012 at 6:00 pm | Edit
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Once again, Eric Schultz (The Occasional CEO) has come up with just the right note.  My list of his serious posts I want to share and comment on grows longer, but this one popped right to the top.  So true, so true.

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As I said in a comment to his post, it reminded me of a Christmas scene from 2003:  Like this one, it's a living room setting with five people. Three are busy with computers on their laps. (This was almost 10 years ago: no iPhones, no iPads.) The fourth is also intently focussed, not on a computer screen but on the fifth, a newborn baby. No, not that newborn baby, but I did title the picture, We Three Nerds.  Oh, wait.  This is my own blog; I can include the picture itself.

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Sorry it's such a lousy picture.  Our camera at the time was an old Sony Mavica, at one time high tech, but it created small files and saved them to a 3.5 inch floppy disk, which couldn't hold even one picture from my present (inexpensive, Kodak) camera.

Posted by sursumcorda on Monday, October 15, 2012 at 9:16 pm | Edit
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Don't you love what you can do with statistics and charts?  This chart is from a great article in the New England Journal of Medicine Chocolate Consumption, Cognitive Function, and Nobel Laureates.  For a less scholarly report on the data, see this Reuters article.

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The article begins like this.

Dietary flavonoids, abundant in plant-based foods, have been shown to improve cognitive function. Specifically, a reduction in the risk of dementia, enhanced performance on some cognitive tests, and improved cognitive function in elderly patients with mild impairment have been associated with a regular intake of flavonoids. A subclass of flavonoids called flavanols, which are widely present in cocoa, green tea, red wine, and some fruits, seems to be effective in slowing down or even reversing the reductions in cognitive performance that occur with aging.

One day, while apparently bored in a Kathmandu hotel room—I'm guessing it was night, or cloudy—the author, Franz H. Messerli, began to think.

Since chocolate consumption could hypothetically improve cognitive function not only in individuals but also in whole populations, I wondered whether there would be a correlation between a country's level of chocolate consumption and its population's cognitive function. To my knowledge, no data on overall national cognitive function are publicly available. Conceivably, however, the total number of Nobel laureates per capita could serve as a surrogate end point reflecting the proportion with superior cognitive function and thereby give us some measure of the overall cognitive function of a given country.

The results astonished him, though perhaps he should not be surprised:  he is Swiss.

There was a close, significant linear correlation (r=0.791, P<0.0001) between chocolate consumption per capita and the number of Nobel laureates per 10 million persons in a total of 23 countries.  When recalculated with the exclusion of Sweden, the correlation coefficient increased to 0.862. Switzerland was the top performer in terms of both the number of Nobel laureates and chocolate consumption.  [emphasis mine]

The only possible outlier ... seems to be Sweden. Given its per capita chocolate consumption of 6.4 kg per year, we would predict that Sweden should have produced a total of about 14 Nobel laureates, yet we observe 32. Considering that in this instance the observed number exceeds the expected number by a factor of more than 2, one cannot quite escape the notion that either the Nobel Committee in Stockholm has some inherent patriotic bias when assessing the candidates for these awards or, perhaps, that the Swedes are particularly sensitive to chocolate, and even minuscule amounts greatly enhance their cognition.

Which perhaps explains why I need to eat more chocolate than Porter does, he being 1/4 Swedish.

Dr. Messerli reports regular daily chocolate consumption, mostly but not exclusively in the form of Lindt's dark varieties.

The above quotations were all from the NEJM article; the final ones from Reuters.

Messerli ... said that despite the tongue-in-cheek tone, he does believe chocolate has real health effects—although people should stay away from the sweeter kinds.

"[D]ark chocolate is the way to go. It's one thing if you want like a medicine or chemistry Nobel Prize, ok, but if you want a physics Nobel Prize it pretty much has got to be dark chocolate."

In case you were wondering, the date on Messerli's article is October 10, 2012.  I guess they couldn't wait six more months.

Posted by sursumcorda on Saturday, October 13, 2012 at 10:04 am | Edit
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H/T Stephan.

alt or alt ?

Posted by sursumcorda on Monday, October 8, 2012 at 12:11 pm | Edit
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Have you seen this ad?  In anything other than very small doses, this technology could get 'way out of hand:  can you imagine what downtown Tokyo might do with it?  But for entertainment value, not to mention the gee-whiz factor, it's hard to beat.  I'm also continually amazed by the hubris of companies that think there's no need to specify in their ads just what their product is, or what it does.

Posted by sursumcorda on Saturday, September 15, 2012 at 3:20 pm | Edit
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Stone Soup today is worth highlighting.

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Posted by sursumcorda on Tuesday, September 4, 2012 at 7:07 am | Edit
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A friend posted this on Facebook, and it still makes me smile.  Except for the singular "Grandmother," which just sounds wrong on more than one level.

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Posted by sursumcorda on Tuesday, April 10, 2012 at 11:13 am | Edit
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With a tip o' the hat to Sarah D., who helped make my Facebook presence worthwhile by passing along this gem of a sight-singing test:

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Posted by sursumcorda on Sunday, March 18, 2012 at 10:53 am | Edit
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