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Digital Information and the Human Brain
Topic: Science 10:42 am EDT, Oct 17, 2008

Small says these differences are likely to be even more profound across generations, because younger people are exposed to more technology from an earlier age than older people. He refers to this as the brain gap. On one side, what he calls digital natives—those who have never known a world without e-mail and text messaging—use their superior cognitive abilities to make snap decisions and juggle multiple sources of sensory input. On the other side, digital immigrants—those who witnessed the advent of modern technology long after their brains had been hardwired—are better at reading facial expressions than they are at navigating cyberspace. "The typical immigrant's brain was trained in completely different ways of socializing and learning, taking things step-by-step and addressing one task at a time," he says. "Immigrants learn more methodically and tend to execute tasks more precisely."

Digital Information and the Human Brain

Topic: Miscellaneous 9:54 am EDT, Oct 16, 2008

Here's the video "The Great Office War," which features the Nerf Vulcan. :)


Cassini Photos of Enceladus
Topic: Science 12:39 pm EDT, Oct 13, 2008

Cassini Photos of Enceladus

Messenger Photos of Mercury
Topic: Science 11:57 am EDT, Oct  7, 2008

Messenger Photos of Mercury

Microsoft extends XP downgrade rights date by six months
Topic: Business 11:40 am EDT, Oct  6, 2008

Microsoft is sending some very confusing signals about Windows Vista — the latest of which it issued via a statement on October 3.

The Register reported on October 2 that Microsoft was going to extend again the date until which PC makers would be allowed to continue to offer Windows users “downgrade rights,” enabling them to switch from Vista to XP on new machines. The Reg said Microsoft had moved the downgrade cut-off date from January 31, 2009 to July 31, 2009.

Microsoft extends XP downgrade rights date by six months

Nakheel Tower
Topic: Business 11:29 am EDT, Oct  6, 2008

For those who've been following the race for the tallest building over the past few years, you're probably familiar with the Al Burj (a.k.a. "The Pinnacle" and "The Tower"), proposed back in 2003. At first, I thought this "Nakheel Tower" was not a new project, but simply the latest incarnation of the Al Burj. It's difficult to tell whether Nakheel has scrapped that project for a completely new one, because the specs and proposed locations have changed a few times. The design shown in the article does look significantly different from the (original designs), though, and it appears that Nakheel is still determined to surpass the Burj Dubai's (developed by Emaar) height, if at all possible. In September, the Burj Dubai became the tallest man-made structure ever built, and it should be completed sometime next year.

Meanwhile, Nashville's Signature Tower is still on hold.

EDIT: I found this news item about the Nakheel Tower on Nakheel's website, but I don't see anything about the Al Burj or whether this is the same project.

Nakheel Tower

Do We Live in a Giant Cosmic Bubble?
Topic: Science 11:06 am EDT, Sep 30, 2008

Earth may be trapped in an abnormal bubble of space-time that is particularly void of matter. Scientists say this condition could account for the apparent acceleration of the universe's expansion, for which dark energy currently is the leading explanation.

"If we lived in a very large under-density, then the space-time itself wouldn't be accelerating," said researcher Timothy Clifton of Oxford University in England. "It would just be that the observations, if interpreted in the usual way, would look like they were."

One problem with the void idea, though, is that it negates a principle that has reigned in astronomy for more than 450 years: namely, that our place in the universe isn't special. When Nicholas Copernicus argued that it made much more sense for the Earth to be revolving around the sun than vice versa, it revolutionized science. Since then, most theories have to pass the Copernican test. If they require our planet to be unique, or our position to be exalted, the ideas often seem unlikely.

Do We Live in a Giant Cosmic Bubble?

New model Nintendo DS to take pictures and play music
Topic: Games 11:00 am EDT, Sep 30, 2008

Murad Ahmed wrote:
All in all, I'm pretty happy with anything that can play Mario Kart.

New model Nintendo DS to take pictures and play music

The Day The Earth Stood Still (1951) on Blu-ray
Topic: Arts 1:08 pm EDT, Sep 29, 2008

Fox Announces The Day the Earth Stood Still
Posted September 25, 2008 01:55 PM by Josh Dreuth

20th Century Fox Fox Home Entertainment has announced that they will bring the 1951 classic film The Day the Earth Stood Still to Blu-ray as a Special Edition on December 2nd, day-and-date with the DVD release. Coming on a BD-25, video will be presented in 1.33:1 1080p AVC accompanied a 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack.

Extras for this release include:

* Interactive Thermin: Create Your Own Score (BD Exclusive)
* Gort Command: Interactive Game (BD Exclusive)
* Commentary by Robert Wise and Nicolas Meyer
* Commentary by Film & Music Historians John Morgan, Steven Smith, William Stromberg and Nick Redman
* Isolated Score Track
* The Mysterious, Melodious Theremin
* The Day The Earth Stood Still Main Title Live Performance By Peter Pringle
* The Making of The Day the Earth Stood Still
* Decoding “Klaatu, Barada, Nikto”: Science Fiction as Metaphor Featurette
* A Brief History of Flying Saucers Featurette
* The Astounding Harry Bates Featurette
* Edmund North: The Man Who Made the Earth Stand Still Featurette
* Race To Oblivion: A Documentary Short Written And Produced By Edmund North
* Farewell To The Master: A Reading By Jamieson K. Price Of The Original Harry Bates Short Story
* Interactive Pressbook
* Fox Movietonews from 1951
* Theatrical Trailer
* Advertising Gallery
* Behind-The Scenes Gallery
* Portrait Gallery
* Production Gallery
* Spaceship Construction Blueprints
* Shooting Script

There are very few pre-1960 films I already have on DVD that I plan to rebuy on BD, but this is one of them. Yes, it's black-and-white and 1.37:1, but it's a sentimental favorite. Two others are Forbidden Planet and The War of the Worlds, but no BD release dates have been announced.

One thing that bothers me about this announcement is that it states "1.33:1" will be the aspect ratio, as opposed to the original (which would be a crime, punishable by stoning). The actual listing at refers to 1.37:1, so maybe there's nothing to worry about.

The Day The Earth Stood Still (1951) on Blu-ray

Racist Comment by Rep. Alcee Hastings
Topic: Society 3:24 pm EDT, Sep 25, 2008

“If Sarah Palin isn’t enough of a reason for you to get over whatever your problem is with Barack Obama, then you damn well had better pay attention,” Rep. Alcee Hastings of Florida said at a panel about the shared agenda of Jewish and African-American Democrats Wednesday. Hastings, who is African-American, was explaining what he intended to tell his Jewish constituents about the presidential race. “Anybody toting guns and stripping moose don’t care too much about what they do with Jews and blacks. So, you just think this through,” Hastings added as the room erupted in laughter and applause.

Alcee Hastings is clearly the racist here. In case you're wondering, yes, that's the same Alcee Hastings who was impeached and removed from office (as a judge) for bribery and perjury by a vote of 413-3 in the U.S. House of Representatives in 1988.

Racist Comment by Rep. Alcee Hastings

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