Rules lawyers and the Joy Of Cooking

06/24/08 | by Adam | Categories: Silly


Anyone who has played a game -- particularly tabletop RPGs or boardgames -- knows that there'll be some pillock who knows exactly how to manipulate the written word of the rules to work exactly how they need.

Now imagine that applied to cooking...


Evidence-Based Graphology

06/24/08 | by Nimble | Categories: Distractions, Common Sense, Science

I have a small passel of graphology books. They were fun, especially when I was younger and wanted to see whether my peculiarities of handwriting were "good" or "bad", and was indeed happy with the bevy of "good" signs.

Revisiting the craft, though, the claims seem puffed up, and worse, in a way, is that it is deeply steeped (the material I have, at least) in simplistic Freudian terms: the upper zone is the superego, the middle zone the ego, the lower zone the id, left-leaning is maternal influences, and lots and lots of sexual issues.

When I went poking around looking for an evidence-based graphology, I got by and large two things: places (e.g. here) that purported graphology to be evidence-based, but that looked quacky (e.g. it's evidence-based, but just for fun you could find out if your wife is pregnant with a boy or a girl?!), and those (e.g. here) that skeptical of the whole enterprise with links to some studies of existing graphology methods that showed them in rather a bad light.

I'm inclined to think that there are bucketloads of chaff in graphological methods. There seem to be some general correspondences, but they are the sort of thing that the untrained eye can certainly see.

If current graphology methods are bogus, it would be nice to be able to start from the ground up and get some evidence-based correlation checks going on.

Not just taking current methods and seeing whether they stack up. Start from scratch.

Correlating questionnaires and measurable writing characteristics may find something, little or nothing.

Either we fix graphology or consign it to the entertainment heap along with the other forms of fortune-telling.


Roomba and pets

06/23/08 | by Adam | Categories: Silly, YouTube


Nice little video on Gizmodo's page (itself linking to the Wall Street Journal article) about trying to get pets and Roombas to co-exist. Given I have both at the moment, it amused me.

(Via Gizmodo)


The solution to not having enough room for a model railroad

06/22/08 | by Adam | Categories: YouTube


Ok, this is not the solution I would have come up with, but it's rather clever nonetheless.


Wired's "Found: Artifacts from the Future"

06/21/08 | by Adam | Categories: Technology


For many years now, Wired has had a feature called "Found: Artifacts from the Future" which is a photo-realistic illustration of some throwaway item that represents the way they feel the future will unfold.

They're typically pretty good and always interesting. Like the linked to example above, they're always full of subtle jokes beyond the obvious prognostication. The Alaskan vineyard amused me almost as much as that it's supposedly owned by Larry Ellison. The one thing it seems to be missing is the cameraphone-friendly square barcode but perhaps that's on the bottle's rear label.

This is one feature that would be wonderful if compiled into a coffeetable-style book. Currently Wired hasn't even put together an index linking them together for easier online browsing although a couple of year's worth can be found after a bit of searching. Hm...


Expelled in Calgary

06/21/08 | by Nimble | Categories: Announcements [A], Politics, Religion

I thought we might escape the Canadian premiere of this poor documentary, having seen nothing of the sort in upcoming movie listings, but I am informed on the theatre locator page of the Expelled! movie site that there are two locations where it will be playing here: Eau Claire and Country Hills. Sad.

The synopsis on the Tribute web site is bang on and somewhat amusing:

This movie follows Ben Stein as he seeks to determine whether religious based Intelligent Design / Creationism is a pseudo-science trying to undermine evolutionary biology or whether it is legitimate science being suppressed by a scientific establishment that is hostile to any deviation from the status quo. Along the way, Stein is told that evolutionary biology is responsible for the Holocaust, Stalinism, and the Second World War, and that only religion based alternatives such as Intelligent Design / Creationism and the intervention of a god can adequately explain the existence of life.

That's about as "in a nutshell" as you can make it. Thanks, anonymous Tribute writer :)


Top 10 home cooking mistakes

06/20/08 | by Adam | Categories: Potpourri


The list won't make you an uber-chef but it's a pretty good list of things to avoid.

(Via Kottke)


Bad Google

06/19/08 | by Adam | Categories: Technology


One of my favourite parts of Firefox is the Google Bookmark Sync which allows cookies and bookmarks to be synced across multiple computers. With multiple operating systems (and thus browsers) on my MacBook plus computers at work and home, it made life much easier.

Emphasis on the past tense.

As of Firefox 3, the plug-in no longer works and Google has no intention of updating it. Their comment:

It was a tough call, but we decided to phase out support for Bookmark Sync. Since the team has moved on to other projects that are keeping them busy, we don't have time to update the extension to work with Firefox 3 or to continue to maintain it.

There are other plug-ins that basically do the same thing so I suspect I'll migrate to one of them, but it is a pain. However, what really irritated me was that Google did not announce the discontinuation on the page where one downloads the tool; it's just been left to wither away.



06/18/08 | by Adam | Categories: American


When I first read the linked-to post via RSS, it didn't make a whole lot of sense. This is how it read in NewsFire:

Via the AP:

Al Gore made his

What’s most interesting, though:

second time Obama has

I think its a good strategy, myself.

Needless to say, my reaction was "Uh, what?"

It's actually a subtle bit of snark about the Associated Press' quoting rules.


Irregular Webcomic on Scotland's Great Glen

06/17/08 | by Adam | Categories: Potpourri


Another fascinating annotation from the most erudite webcomic this side of Xkcd. Today's focus: planetary geology and the shared physical heritage of Scotland, Newfoundland and the Appalachians.


Interesting tourist places you can't go if you're an American

06/16/08 | by Adam | Categories: Potpourri


I have to say Iran does sound like an interesting destination. The Leptis Magna ruins in Libya (not listed) also strike my fancy. The old Silk Road route would be great too but that's just a little too dangerous these days for my liking.



06/15/08 | by Adam | Categories: Technology


"Hypermilling", or the process or trying to optimize fuel efficiency via driving techniques, is on the rise in the public consciousness. This Wired article is about the fifth I've seen in the last month.

However, for all its positive aspects, getting stuck behind someone trying to do hypermilling would be profoundly irritating. One of the commenters puts it pretty bluntly:

Ask yourself this: is saving a few bucks in gas worth the fact that people are going to get out of their cars and punch you in the face for "drafting" them (ie, tailgating, and of course you're going to rear end them when they do stop anyway since your engine is shut off and you have no braking power - thanks for your lack of concern for other's safety asshole), or put the PIT maneuver on your ass because you're taking 5 minutes to get your car up to speed at every stoplight and holding up 100 cars behind you?

To be fair, the how-to Wiki on Wired's site is a bit more general and does include some sensible suggestions that don't involve being a menace on the road.


World Of World Of Warcraft

06/14/08 | by Adam | Categories: YouTube


To use an equally geeky analogy, the Onion hit this one out of the ballpark.

(Via Ricardo)


Some bad ideas never die

06/13/08 | by Adam | Categories: Canadian, Copyright


Yup. Jim Prentice's Canadian uber-DMCA is rearing its ugly head again. Do I hold out hope that the opposition parties will kill it? I guess it depends on how much the studios have been forking over to the various "interested" MPs again...

Anyway, here's Michael Geist's take on it. A few quotes from his article:

the effect of these provisions will be to make Canadians infringers for a host of activities that are common today including watching out-of-region-coded DVDs, copying and pasting materials from a DRM'd book, or even unlocking a cellphone.
Under the proposal, there are exceptions for uploading or posting music online (ie. making available) and even the suggestion that posting a copyright-protected work to YouTube could result in the larger $20,000 per infringement damage award.
The education community received several provisions that are largely gutted by the fine print. For example, library materials can be distributed in electronic form, but must not extend beyond five days. In other words, it turns librarians into locksmiths.

Summary: assuming this beastie passes as is, and that there are no further changes and that the copyright industry doesn't have a change of heart, you'd better stock up on current media as those usage rights will never be as anywhere good as they are now.

(Update: Geist posted a further set of thoughts about the bill and what can be done about it.)


La Paz's (literal) Zebra Crossings

06/12/08 | by Adam | Categories: YouTube


For some reason, La Paz's decision to use crossing guards dressed as zebras for their zebra crossings (aka pedestrian crossings) really appeals to whimsical side of me.

(Via Kottke)


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