The inconvenient truth

“Allow me for one to say that I am sick of the ‘Christians are anti-science’ bullshit that the left loves to harp on while giving the environmental movement a free pass. You will notice, if you are honest, that the areas where even the most fundamentalist interpretations of the Bible conflict with modern scientific work are in areas that Christians have an ethical objection to the way that life is manipulated or ended or in how things came to be on some level. The environmental movement on the other hand is generally wildly antagonistic to everything from GM foods to many promising alternative energy sources to nanotechnology.” Slashdot comment by MikeRT

Anonymity and freedom

“Remote computing freed criminals from the historic requirement of proximity to their crimes. Anonymity and freedom from personal victim confrontation increased the emotional ease of crime, i.e., the victim was only an inanimate computer, not a real person or enterprise. Timid people could become criminals.” Donn Parker, on the behavioral aspects of computer security

The nut you can’t buy in a shell

“Anyway, while we eating them, we were asked if we knew why you can’t get cashews in the shell. We had no idea. Actually, we’d never thought about it. But, come to think of it, you can get almonds, walnuts, pistachios, brazil nuts, hazelnuts, peanuts, chestnuts, pine nuts, pecans, and even macadamia nuts in a shell, but not cashews. Why? It turns out that the cashew shell is toxic.Evil Mad Scientist Laboratories

Cashews

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In my language

“Someone mentioned being dropped in the woods alone. That’s an interesting example… There are many other stories of autistic children — some thought to not understand a whole lot — who suddenly perform very well in survival situations. I have said before that I would probably perform better in a survival situation than in an apartment. In an apartment, the steps required to get things like sustenance are pretty divorced from what the things around you tell you. There’s nothing about refrigerators or stoves that tells me how to get food from them, and that’s something I in fact have a good deal of trouble with. In a survival situation, obtaining food becomes a much more physical and practical problem, something that I could probably handle better. It’s been shown that if you put me alone in an apartment for awhile, I can’t pick up any environmental cues for how to do things, so I don’t do a lot (I am not as good at most purely internally-directed physical actions). In a survival situation there are a wide variety of environmental cues that would prompt me into more action more readily. (Even living on the streets, which I only did for a few days during a housing problem, makes what needs to be done more apparent than living in an apartment.) This is of course not true for all of us, but I don’t doubt that it would be true for a substantial minority, and stories seem to bear that out.” Silent Miaow, an autistic woman who comments on her YouTube video, In My Own Language

Fake smiles

“Although fake smiles often look very similar to genuine smiles, they are actually slightly different, because they are brought about by different muscles, which are controlled by different parts of the brain. Fake smiles can be performed at will, because the brain signals that create them come from the conscious part of the brain and prompt the zygomaticus major muscles in the cheeks to contract… Genuine smiles, on the other hand, are generated by the unconscious brain, so are automatic. When people feel pleasure, signals pass through the part of the brain that processes emotion. As well as making the mouth muscles move, the muscles that raise the cheeks – the orbicularis oculi and the pars orbitalis – also contract, making the eyes crease up, and the eyebrows dip slightly. Lines around the eyes do sometimes appear in intense fake smiles, and the cheeks may bunch up, making it look as if the eyes are contracting and the smile is genuine. But there are a few key signs that distinguish these smiles from real ones. For example, when a smile is genuine, the eye cover fold - the fleshy part of the eye between the eyebrow and the eyelid - moves downwards and the end of the eyebrows dip slightly.” BBC, Spot The Fake Smile

Asian-American Avenue

“Now, if you had about a dozen ‘sponsors’ standing up at the ceremony, the guy was wearing a barong tagalog, they had too many people show up because Filipinos don’t really believe in the concept of RSVPing, and there was a lechon and some pancit, buffet-style at the reception - then perhaps I’d say ‘Hey, Ford, you are really talking to my reality. Thanks.’” Al Navarro, on Ford Motor Company’s ‘Wedding Day’ Ad

Investigating

“Parenting is like an ongoing episode of CSI. You’re always following the evidence back to the crime.” Mark Pilgrim

Center of the Universe

“Teenagers have become so much the focus of everybody else. In a certain sense - at least as far as marketers and parents and maybe law enforcement are concerned - teenagers are the centre of the universe. But it’s not the kind of attention any human being needs. It’s attention trained on how to market to them, predict their behaviour, and, at worst, turn them into compliant mindless consumers. The strange part is that all this marketing seems to work better on the adults than the kids.” Douglas Rushkoff, producer for the award-wining Frontline documentary, The Merchants Of Cool

Dark side of the other white meat

“Smithfield Foods, the largest and most profitable pork processor in the world, killed 27 million hogs last year. That’s a number worth considering. A slaughter-weight hog is fifty percent heavier than a person. The logistical challenge of processing that many pigs each year is roughly equivalent to butchering and boxing the entire human populations of New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston, Philadelphia, Phoenix, San Antonio, San Diego, Dallas, San Jose, Detroit, Indianapolis, Jacksonville, San Francisco, Columbus, Austin, Memphis, Baltimore, Fort Worth, Charlotte, El Paso, Milwaukee, Seattle, Boston, Denver, Louisville, Washington, D.C., Nashville, Las Vegas, Portland, Oklahoma City and Tucson.” Jeff Tietz, Rolling Stone

Testing your skills

“When Salar Abdul-Baki won one of the 20 weekly prizes in Microsoft’s Xbox Live Plug-in & Win contest last week, he wasn’t home free. Like all winners who live in Canada, the 17-year-old resident of Mississauga, Ontario, had to answer a math question to claim his prize. The question — ostensibly a test of the winner’s mathematical skills — was typical of today’s Canadian product sweepstakes: Multiply 90 by 2, divide by 6 and multiply by 12… In reality, the test is a hack of Canada’s legal code by the promotions business. Canadian anti-gambling law makes it illegal to sell chances to win a prize, so promoters always offer a free method of entering each contest, and task every winner with a skill-testing question. By doing the latter, they argue, the game is no longer one merely of chance but a contest requiring some skill.” Robert Lemos, Wired News