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Tuesday, December 26, 2000
Dr. Humanity or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Genome
The Human Genome in Human Context: Scientists recently announced that they had virtually completed the task of mapping the human genome. The implications of such an event vary. Some believe it will usher in a new era of Genetic Engineering, complete with a multitude of ethical fears such as the insurability of people with genetically identifiable risks for diseas or the creation of an entirely new form of Humanity. The author of the article believes that we really don't have much to worry about right now. While we may have mapped the genome, we have do not yet know how to apply it. Some quotes from the article:
"Enhancements in human abilities that may come through genetic engineering will in most cases be negligible compared to those already achieved, or achievable in the future, through tools."
"The problem is compounded by the fact that the relation of genes to traits is not oneľtoľone. Some traits are influenced by many genes, and some genes influence many traits. The law of unintended consequences is therefore bound to operate with a vengeance."
"...there is already quite conclusive evidence that human behavior, though strongly conditioned by genetics, is not completely determined by it. "
All in all, a fascinating article and a refreshing change from the typical Horrors of Genetics diatribe. I don't think we'll be heading for a world like the one presented in the film Gattaca any time soon...
posted by tallman 3:10:45 PM .: link


 

Friday, December 22, 2000
More than 46
DyRE noticed some thematic similarities between Theodore Stugeon's classic novel More Than Human and Tool's song 46+2. Sturgeon's novel shows humans coming together to evolve into a single consciousness. Basically, as the song goes, humanity has 46 chromosomes, and 46+2 (a new pair of chromosomes) represents the next step in human evolution. The song is a lot more involved than that, drawing from Jungian theories (about the shadow) and the teachings of Drunvalo Melchizadek.

"According to Melchezedek, our planet is covered with geometrically constructed 'morpho genetic grids'. These grids extend from about 60 feet under the Earth's surface to about 60 miles above the Earth, arranged in geometric patterns (see 'Sacred Geometry'). Each species has its own grid, which supports life, and connects the consciousness of its particular species. Before any species can come into existance or make an evolutionary step, a new grid must be completed. When a species becomes extinct, that particular species' grid dissoves. A new grid was completed in 1989 - the 'christ-consciousness' grid. This grid will allow humans to evolve into our next version. We'll develop two additional chromosomes (which are really 'geometrical images' designed to resonate with our specific grid) for a total or 46 + 2.

The main change will be a shift to the "unity consciousness". Every cell in your body has its own consciousness and memory. You, the higher being that occupies your body, make the millions of different consciousnesses in your body work together as one being. How does this relate to this grid? Think of yourself as a cell and the grid as the higher being. We will still have individual consciousness, but will be united in the form of a higher being in order to work as one entity."
For more, scroll down towards the bottom of the Tool FAQ. Fascinating, though I'm unsure of the scientific veracity of these claims. Mayhap I'll look into it more. [thanks DyRE and Toolshed]
posted by tallman 9:13:33 AM .: link


 

Thursday, December 21, 2000
Wierd but True
This site contains various (suprisingly insightful and referenced) blurbs about strange phenomena that occur. What an odd world we live in. Its amazing how little we know about it. [found in the bowels of kottke]
posted by tallman 11:33:09 PM .: link


 
The Blair Witch Ate My Balls
If you like testicular humor, check out this parody of The Blair Witch Project. Its quite funny, in a scrotal kind of way.
posted by tallman 9:18:26 AM .: link


 

Wednesday, December 20, 2000
Astrology
I've never put much stock in astrology, but my horoscope from The Onion this week is somewhat accurate:
Virgo: (Aug. 23--Sept. 22)
You will be mortified to realize that you misspelled the words "fiery," "dynamite," and "vengeance" in your letter to the president.
Heh heh. J/k, of course. A good headline from The Onion: Man Reading Pynchon On Bus Takes Pains To Make Cover Visible. LOL. I could actually see that happening...
posted by tallman 12:16:28 PM .: link


 

Tuesday, December 19, 2000
Role Playing
Check out The Window, for role playing the way it should be ("simple, usable, and universal"). The Three Precepts on which it is based are solid and actually contribute to the storytelling aspects of RPGs (as evidenced in the third precept: "A good story is the central goal." ) Check it out, I found it fascinating (and I don't even play RPGs anymore). In fact, some of those ideas there have inspired me to perhaps create a different form of Tandem Story...
posted by tallman 1:51:47 PM .: link


 

Monday, December 18, 2000
Christmas Movies
What is your favourite Christmas Movie? {Click here for my guide to Christmas movies}
Miracle on 34th Street
The Ref
Scrooged
Its a Wonderful Life
National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation
The Nightmare Before Christmas
A Christmas Story
A Christmas Carol
Other:

[Current Results]
posted by tallman 2:37:05 PM .: link


 
Ushering in Twelve Eighteen
Yes, today is twelve eighteen. What, you may ask, is twelve eighteen? Well, its one two one eight. Before you ask, one two one eight is twelve eighteen. What the hell does this have to do with anything? Everything, of course. Chaos theorists have pondered those stories carefully (specifically the Yankee Stadium incident and the mathematics of 1218), and some believe them to be central in gaining the necessary understanding of the universe.
posted by tallman 12:23:36 PM .: link


 

Sunday, December 17, 2000
The Mark has Been Made
Ironminds is simply one of the best online zines I've ever read. Its a never-ending source of humorous articles and commentary. Take, for instance, the groundbreaking stupid article I Duct-Taped Bull Ice Malt Liquor to My Hands or the confession of the simple pleasures taken in Best-of Lists (such as my lavish listing of Christmas Movies or my definitive Top 10 of 1999). Another Ironminds masterpiece: Joel Shitmaker. Its always nice to note that there are people out there who still recognize the galactic horror of movies like Batman and Robin...
posted by tallman 10:47:55 PM .: link


 

Friday, December 15, 2000
The Designer Universe
Do we live in a "designer universe"? The laws of nature seemed fine-tuned for conscious life to emerge; if the fundamental constants of physics are off by only a hair, the universe would have been a lifeless dud (no stars, no stable elements, etc...) This reminds me of one of Thomas Aquinas' 5 Ways (order in the universe implies an intelligent creator that we call God), and the finely tuned universe seems to support some sort of Cosmic Designer. However, the Cosmic Designer Hypothesis is only one way of explaining the improbable fine-tuning of natures laws. Theres the "Big Fluke Hypothesis", which doesn't provide much of an explaination, and then there is the "Many Universes Hypothesis", which claims that there are, suprise, many universes (perhaps an infinite amount), the idea being that we live in the lucky one universe where everything came together. All the theories have their own advantages and disadvantages, and its quite fun to ponder why our world is the way it is...
posted by tallman 1:11:35 PM .: link


 

Thursday, December 14, 2000
Why Browsers haven't Standardized
Why do browser companies continue to forge blindly ahead with more and more new features when they haven't even implemented existing standards correctly? Why can't they follow the standards process? Good questions. The answer is that browsers do, in fact, follow the standards process! The problem is that browsers are encouraged to innovate, to make up new (proprietary) features and technologies. They then act as a test market for the W3C, who evaluate the new features and observe how they work in the "real" world. They then make recommendations based on their findings. But when they change their specifications, the browsers are left in a lose-lose situation. This article will give you the rest of the low down in an objective manner. Its a frustrating situation, from every angle, and this sort of complex problem has no easy answer. I hope, for everyone's sake, that the process is tightened a bit so that emerging technologies can flourish. On a side note, I wonder how much an open source browser like mozilla could contribute to the standards process without having to officially release a non-standards compliant browser...
posted by tallman 4:46:52 PM .: link


 
Lost Luggage
Ever wonder what the airlines do with your luggage? Sure, they claim 97% of lost luggage are returned to their rightful owners within 24 hours and another 1.5% within 2 days, but what about the remaining 1.5%? Well, after 6 weeks, they sell it (and going by the percentages, this works out to be somewhere around 435, 000 bags). Apparently most of the lost bags end up in a small Alabama town at the Unclaimed Baggage Center, where they, in turn, sell the contents of the lost bags at discount prices. In case you don't feel like hopping on a plane to visit Alabama (what would you do with your luggage?), you can always visit their webpage and buy stuff online.
posted by tallman 12:45:02 PM .: link


 

Wednesday, December 13, 2000
Mindless Entertainment
The computer versus television: I don't watch TV anymore. The hours wasted in front of the tv screen are now wasted in front of the computer monitor. Sure, I'll throw the TV on for episodes of the Simpsons or the occasional X-Files (or possibly a Flyers game), but I'm usually doing something on the computer as well. TV just isn't a priority anymore and I've noticed similar trends with those around me. Why is that? I think its because of the control you have over the web (or your computer in general). You can look up whatever you want, whenever you want, and even display it how you want. TV rigidly forces you to adhere to their schedule, while the internet gives you the power. The internet also provides a creative outlet and interactivity, things TV lacks. The internet is a much more social activity than watching the tube, and the Television industry needs to refocus its efforts if its going to regain its once lofty status...
posted by tallman 1:26:53 PM .: link


 

Tuesday, December 12, 2000
Homo Gestalt
I finished Theodore Sturgeon's More Than Human tonight, and I was extremely happy with it. It is a book about a group of social misfits who band together to suvive, only to discover that their combined existance composes a single organism, possibly the next step in human evolution (Homo Gestalt). Sturgeon displays a poetic lyricism rarely seen in science fiction and explores what it really is to be human. Expect a review at Kaedrin soon...
posted by tallman 11:49:09 PM .: link


 
Snacktastrophies
Pudding-Factory Disaster Brings Slow, Creamy Death to Town Below: This article ran a while ago, but I think its the funniest thing I have ever read over at The Onion. An exerpt: "Sweet, creamy death swept through this small Illinois town Monday... burying hundreds of residents in a rich, smooth tidal wave of horrifying pudding goodness." Priceless descriptions of the tragic, tragic horror of the delectably Choco-Licious™ death-pudding.
posted by tallman 12:27:55 PM .: link


 

Monday, December 11, 2000
Mischief. Mayhem. Debt.
Fans of Fight Club will enjoy this picture. [from Juancho via CA Boards]
posted by tallman 1:58:46 PM .: link


 
Demotivators
To find the perfect gift for those hopeless people in your life, go to Despair, Inc., a company that sells demotivational posters similar to the popular motivational posters found in most business settings. My favourite demotivators:
  • Procrastination - "Hard work often pays off after time, but laziness always pays off now."
  • Apathy - "If we don't take care of the customer, maybe they'll stop bugging us." {I printed this out and put it in my cube.}
  • Blame - "The secret to success is knowing who to blame for your failures."
LOL. I might actually buy one of these someday...
posted by tallman 12:38:56 PM .: link


 

Friday, December 08, 2000
Interactive Madness
Write Your Own 13th Story is a branching interactive story, sort of like those choose your own adventure books I used to read when I was a kid (which were awesome, btw). Also check Xmark's Interactive Story Forum, and, of course, there's always Kaedrin's very own Tandem Stories for interactive story goodness!
posted by tallman 4:09:07 PM .: link


 
Bah Humbug
Lawyer Wants To Bar Christmas as Federal Holiday: This grinch has been trying to steal Christmas for almost 3 years now, with the argument that having Christmas as a federal holiday is a violation of Church and state. "the Christmas holiday amounts to a government approval for a day of Christian religious origins marking the birth of Jesus Christ" This guy obviously doesn't know much about the History of Christmas, which has its origins in pagan rituals that were later adopted by Christianity to celebrate the birth of Christ. In my opinion, Christmas is such a wonderous holiday because of its secular aspects, including holly, ivy, Mistletoe, Christmas trees, Santa Claus, snowmen, jingling bells and presents on Christmas morning (which have been repeatedly recognized by US Courts). Furthermore, this is a season who's very message transcends any specific religion, ideology, or tradition to become an occasion for collective reflection on the values of what brings us together. Lets just hope the Courts stand firm...
posted by tallman 9:30:33 AM .: link


 

Thursday, December 07, 2000
Firepower
Taking Ballistics by Storm: An electronic gun with no mechanical parts that could theoretically fire a million rounds per minute. It was invented by former grocery wholesaler Mike O'Dwyer. I can't believe this guy, who has no formal education in ballistics, didn't kill himself while inventing this thing. [via usr/bin/girl]
posted by tallman 5:14:38 PM .: link


 
Spoon!
Theres going to be a live action Tick TV series? Why wasn't I informed? I'm a bit worried that its going to be live action (I absolutely love the old Comics and Animated Series), but from the people involved, it seems like they are taking the right approach. The Official Site is sparse, but it has a cool Haiku of Justice. Spoon!
posted by tallman 9:09:44 AM .: link


 

Wednesday, December 06, 2000
Disaster
Dave Barry's Commentary on Disaster Movies. "...realism is not the point of a disaster movie. The point of a disaster movie is to have exactly the same script as every other disaster movie." He gives you the script and it is funny. Read it.
posted by tallman 4:42:00 PM .: link


 
A Very Wookie Christmas
I was only 2 months old when I felt a disturbance in the force. That disturbance was the Star Wars Holiday Special. I've only seen parts of the horrid thing, but apparently the Star Wars site Blueharvest.net has the whole show in low quality real video (apparently maximizing the suffering). [via the bowels of Metafilter]
posted by tallman 9:39:55 AM .: link


 

Tuesday, December 05, 2000
Big Brother is Watching, Listening, Reading...
This one goes out to all the paranoid British visitors of my site: Apparently there is a Secret plan to spy on all British phone calls as well as emails and internet connections. Very scary.
posted by tallman 3:56:54 PM .: link


 
Doomed Processes
Someone has figured out how to use the 3d shooter Doom as a tool for system administration. Doom creates a new metaphor for process management: Each process can be a monster, and the machines can be represented by a series of rooms. Killing a process corresponds to killing a monster. How very clever. [via usr/bin/girl]
posted by tallman 12:55:25 PM .: link


 
Artificial Idiocy
This java applet attempts to implement the classic "Eliza" program. It pretends to be a Rogerian psychologist. It was groundbreaking in its time, but it is ultimately a lacking AI system (that or Rogerian psychologists are complete morons, which is probably not too far from the truth). Its pretty easy to take advantage of the system. As DyRE found out, Never Go to a Rogerian Psychologist When You're On Fire.
posted by tallman 8:52:56 AM .: link


 

Monday, December 04, 2000
Search Engines
This is an interesting tool that you can use to help you find keywords for your site. Type in a keyword and you can find related searches that include your term, as well as how many times that term was searched on last month. Wery useful.
posted by tallman 12:07:02 PM .: link


 
Subtle
For those of you who have seen Unbreakable, check out this alternate ending. IMHO, it makes for a much better ending; very subtle and yet nothing is really lost from the version released. Those little text messages at the end were so... out of place. [from Widgett by way of Coming Attractions; Widgett's site, NeedCoffee.com hath recieved a gigantic update as well.]
posted by tallman 8:59:41 AM .: link


 

Friday, December 01, 2000
Meat Helmets
There's not really much I can think to say about Hats Of Meat other than that I want a "Base-Bull Cap". Since I know you want to know more about this bold and innovative fashion statement, check out the MeatHelmet page. Fascinating.
posted by tallman 12:47:06 PM .: link


 

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