Monday, 7 May 2012

10 stories or links I think are educative, interesting or just plain weird

POV ride-through: Model train replica of Disneyland's Mine Train through Nature’s Wonderland via Boing Boing by Cory Doctorow
STNautilus created a detailed model-train replica of the long-gone, dearly missed Disneyland Mine Train through Nature’s Wonderland. Dan sez, “I nearly plotzed from this scene being so charming.” (Warning: contains animated varmints).
Nature’s Wonderland Model: Very First POV
Arts & Letters Daily – ideas, criticism, debate
Persecution and civilization. Police states, dirty wars, ethnic cleansing, renditions, fatwas, surveillance: The Inquisition built the modern world... more
Why Finish Books? via 3quarksdaily by Abbas Raza
Tim Parks in the New York Review of Books:
“Sir—” remarked Samuel Johnson with droll incredulity to someone too eager to know whether he had finished a certain book—“Sir, do you read books through?” Well, do we? Right through to the end? And if we do, are we the suckers Johnson supposed one must be to make a habit of finishing books?
Schopenhauer, who thought and wrote a great deal about reading, is on Johnson’s side. Life is “too short for bad books” and “a few pages” should be quite enough, he claims, for “a provisional estimate of an author’s productions”. After which it is perfectly okay to bail out if you’re not convinced.
But I’m not really interested in how we deal with bad books. It seems obvious that any serious reader will have learned long ago how much time to give a book before choosing to shut it. …
But what about those good books?
Article continues here.
Time actually flies with this Flying Novelty Clock via The Red Ferret Journal by caitlyn

There’s an old saying, “Time flies when you’re having fun”. That is most certainly true, although time also flies while you’re sleeping, as you normally spend about 8 or more hours frolicking in dreamland.
Available from BaronBob for the princely sum of $14.95 (presumably ships from USA but info not available on landing page!)
Arts & Letters Daily – ideas, criticism, debate
And so it goes. Kurt Vonnegut was "born into prosperity, raised in austerity, and redeemed by posterity." The last laugh is his... more
Torso swaying and walking of a biped robot
an article by Amur S. Al Yahmadi, Feng Shuai and Sun Zengqi published in International Journal of Vehicle Noise and Vibration Volume 8 Number 1 (2012)
The upper part of the body makes up nearly two thirds of the body weight yet usually it is looked at as only being passively carried by the legs. Although the role of the upper limbs in walking is indeed secondary to that of the lower limbs, their movements are not purely passive.
In the first half of the paper, we introduce a novel method to control a biped with a torso to walk stably. In this control method, there is only one low gain PD controller between the torso and the stance leg, with the swing leg remaining totally free.
Simulation results show that, by adopting this controller, the biped robot can walk over a range of step period and a wide range of step length. In the second part of the paper, we use an optimisation-based approach to predict the walking motion of a simple biped with a torso.
Hazel’s comment:
A dalek this is definitely not!
Dirty Minds: The Neurobiology of Love via Big Think by Megan Erickson
There’s a revolution going on in neuroscience, says science writer Kayt Sukel, and it’s happening on two fronts. One way the science is changing: researchers are finally beginning to include both male and female subjects in their studies. Another is epigenetics, a new way of understanding the centuries-old nature versus nurture debate.
Read More
Arts & Letters Daily – ideas, criticism, debate
Freud today is disparaged, even condemned. And no wonder: He didn’t indulge our taste for self-help platitudes... more
RIP Toola, world’s most influential otter via Boing Boing by Maggie Koerth-Baker
I had never heard about Toola the Sea Otter before today, but I’m not going to pass up an opportunity for a headline like this. Also, her story turns out to be incredibly inspiring. Seriously, this otter was a bit of human-interpretable speech away from being a guest on Oprah.

That’s because Toola was a foster mother. THE foster mother, really, at least as far as the otter world goes. She was the first otter, living in captivity, to serve as a foster for orphaned baby otters. Along the way, she helped change the way aquariums all over the world approach the rehabilitation of injured otters, and how those otters are reintroduced to the wild.
NPR is calling Toola an “otter pioneer”. You can read the full obituary on that site.
Via Brian Switek
Will Social Spending Cause a Depression? via Big Think by Orion Jones
Several European countries face sovereign debt crises while the US tries to nurture a tepid economic recovery. For a slump in its fifth year, no solution has brought swift economic turnaround. And while social spending did not cause the current crisis, it may be to blame for the lack of a recovery, says columnist Robert Samuelson.
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