m31andy: (bernard)
Bizarre (though interesting) article in the New Scientist today:

True Blood: The Real Vampire Slayers

Such scholarly articles, I suppose, are both an interest and necessary every time the vampire legend takes another left turn into sparkledom. (And actually it's interesting to plot the movement in the legend and how it takes a leap forward every time vampires become popular again, for whatever reason.)

I, in fact, have several books/articles on the rise of the mythology. Which probably doesn't surprise anyone here...

What does make me boggle is why is the New Scientist so interested?!

Perhaps this April Fools' I'll start the rumour that New Scientist is actually a spoof, like The Onion.

Oops. I just did.

Apropos of nothing, how do you pronounce "gnu"? (And I'm asking how you pronounce it, not how it's properly pronounced....)

[Poll #1677148]
m31andy: (bernard)
First of all, thank you all for your kind wishes and sympathy last week. I was a bit of a mess for a while, and C and friends poured alcohol into me on Tuesday night.

Dad's already talking about getting another dog. (Yet) another tricolour bitch, so, whatever her name ends up being I suspect her real name will be Luce-Pop-Whatever... I know even when I was home a couple of weeks ago I managed to call Poppy "Lucy" by mistake.

(If you're not familiar with "Shelties", I would have a quick gander here - they are utterly adorable, incredibly affectionate and quite intelligent.)

I'll try and get hold of some photos of both Lucy and Poppy at some point and PICSPAM y'all!

Work's been manic this week, so in lieu of any other content, have some [livejournal.com profile] newscientist content instead.

Thanks to [livejournal.com profile] newscientist, a successor to the Oncology Ontology Project has been found. Kill or Cure?. For the uninitiated, the website categorises those things that the Daily Mail have proclaimed (loudly and clearly) either causing or curing cancer.

A few selections:

Cause: Aspirin, Babies, Bread, Calcium, Cheese, The Pill, Dieting, Eggs, Fibre, Fish, Gas, HRT, Mammograms, Milk, Mouthwash, Pizza, Pregnancy, Rice, Sex, Spices, Statins, Stress, Sun, Sunscreen, Tea, Vitamins, Wine.
Prevent: Aspirin, Babies, Bread, Calcium, Cheese, The Pill, Dieting, Eggs, Fibre, Fish, Gas, HRT, Mammograms, Milk, Mouthwash, Pizza, Pregnancy, Rice, Sex, Spices, Statins, Stress, Sun, Sunscreen, Tea, Vitamins, Wine.

(And yes, I am quite aware that a lot of those are valid. But, trust me, you don't want to put yourself on the Daily Mail's side in that debate.)

Also from [livejournal.com profile] newscientist (you can tell I've been going through back issues, can't you?), excuses for failing at sport with scientific accuracy

And finally (as Feedback would say) if you're of an apolcalyptic bent, Fifty ideas to change the Earth is rather quite interesting. Unfortunately you do need to be a subscriber to see all fifty. (And NS seems to have removed the Institution Subscription, more bad luck.)
m31andy: (New Scientist)
Isn't 42 after all. It's brain bleach. Let me explain...

Via [livejournal.com profile] newscientist according to Conservapedia, E no longer equals MC squared

Read the whole thing - it's boggling. But if you can't/don't want to, here's my brief analysis/piss-take...

under a cut, because I'm verbose )
m31andy: (New Scientist)
Busy, busy, busy, so here's some New Scientist content to keep you happy. (Must get back to finding their dodgier headlines. These are almost sensible!)

Terry Pratchett: Fighting to keep the fantasy alive
The prolific author discusses tinkering with science, his battle with Alzheimer's, and the odds of escaping from a crab bucket

Ten inventions that changed the world
To mark its centenary, in June the Science Museum in London had its curators select the 10 objects in its collection that had made the biggest mark on history. These then went to a public vote to find the most important invention of past centuries. Results in pictures, just follow the link.
In (very slightly) related news (in other words if you get why they're related, you're doing well!), I've been listening to Flanders and Swann a lot at the moment. They are very good. I know a lot of my friendslist hold a soft spot for them as well, so I ask you all - can anyone recommend me artists in the same vein as F&S (and Tom Lehrer, of course). Weird Al, unfortunately, doesn't qualify.

(Fic is only about 100 words from being finished. Need to get this month's finance report mocked up and the cash management numbers finished before I can finally look at it. *phew*)
m31andy: (Doyle - Neikirk)
Quite a while ago, [livejournal.com profile] cuvalwen raised the question "what evolutionary advantage has jealousy?", to which I couldn't really answer. But it looks like the question may be laid to rest at last.

Looks like it's a by-product of bonding: 'Cuddle chemical' may create green-eyed monster

ETA: [livejournal.com profile] kelemvor just pointed out that what they are actually talking about is envy, not jealousy. I'm blaming the monthly report on this one as my brain is currently mush.

Vintage NS

Aug. 4th, 2009 05:00 pm
m31andy: (New Scientist)
As you may (or may not) have noticed, I've been taking the royal pee out of [livejournal.com profile] newscientist for several years on this blog. The premise being that New Scientist was once a respectable mainstream science magazine.

This view has now been challenged, as I came across this: Feedback, February 1993
Some people become so devoted to the creations of film and TV that they spend their time writing stories set in those fictional universes. And some go even further. Feedback learns that there is - in America, again - an underground subculture devoted to publishing magazines which describe in vivid detail the imaginary sexual exploits of the characters in film and TV soaps and dramas.

There is even a sub-subculture of primarily female authors who concentrate on sexual encounters between male characters from their favourite serials.

Most popular of all, apparently, is Star Trek. Very strange . . .
Er, why is a popular, mainstream Science magazine concerning itself about slash? Or is has there always been a bent for science fiction in the mag?

m31andy: (New Scientist)
Ah, back to looking at [livejournal.com profile] newscientist and we have two absolute gems today.

Firstly, contender for the "Pigs Might Fly" award, is the news that Microsoft's "Clippy" gave software assistants a bad name, but a new helper developed by the US military hopes to be less annoying.. Riiiiight.

And secondly, front-runner for the "Ask a Silly Question" award is the revelation that children up to five years old may colour trees blue or grass red because their memories can't "bind" together the colour and shape of an object.

Now, is it me or does that imply that us 'rational adults' see that grass is green because we've been taught that grass is green? Huh? Quite a spectacular piece of brainwashing there, then. (Which is grey, as everyone knows. Unless you've got a brain haemorrhage. Then it's Baileys and tomato juice coloured…

m31andy: (Precipitate)

And seconds after posting up my last entry, about science reporting, [livejournal.com profile] new_scientist's headline today is the shocking news that
The behaviour of proteins that are popular with researchers is more likely to be reported inaccurately than that of their less fashionable counterparts.

Even proteins are not exempt from celebrity status, obviously!!!
m31andy: (New Scientist)
(I guessed that might be an attention-grabbing headline!)

Of particular interest to [livejournal.com profile] cuvalwen who asked why on Saturday, it seems that particular question has been answered at long last.

Has the mystery of sex been explained at last?
m31andy: (Meerkats)
Er. Is it just me or does this just really freak you out?

A staff of domestic robots with a single personality would be easier to handle.

I'm thinking either Jetsons or Terminator. Or both*.

Though, "Butlerbot" - hands up who was thinking a shiny Gordon Jackson there???

And now I'm just thinking about having robot servants that come in a variety of characters. All sharing the same brain. And I realise that the meerkats are giggling to themselves. Oooh dear.

* Now *there's* a crossover.
m31andy: (Default)
Comment to this entry and I'll pick up to three of your fandoms. You must then update your journal and answer the following questions:

  1. What got you into this fandom in the first place?

  2. Do you think you'll stay in this fandom or eventually move on?

  3. Favourite episodes/books/movies/etc.?

  4. Do you participate in this fandom (fanfiction, graphics, discussions)?

  5. Do you think that more people should get into this fandom?

From [livejournal.com profile] kelemvor, who gave me:
"Life on Mars"
"Man From U.N.C.L.E."
"The Professionals"

My answers, under the cut. Possible spoilers )Anyone want to play?

In completely other news, pale greenhouse lettuce can make even the best salads look unsavoury, but a couple of days under weak ultraviolet light brings the colour back. One for the gardeners out there, I feel. Although, there *are* two alternatives. 1. Don't get so hung up on your pale lettuce or 2. Grow the things outdoors and eat them in season. Then they get all the ultraviolet radiation they need...

Does anyone know if the coloured water celery trick works for lettuce? That would be cool. Blue lettuce and red celery. cool.
m31andy: (New Scientist)
See you wait a whole month for one, and then NS serves up lots at once. Today's epicness is the news that Video conferences could become more interesting with software that can instantly alter a person's sex or race. Because nothing says "professionalism" more than a Homer Simpson icon (and nothing says "diversity" than pandering to other people's prejudices. Sheesh.)
m31andy: (New Scientist)
Via [livejournal.com profile] peppapig:

Boldly Going Where No Meerkat Has Gone Before.

I'm... not sure. It's either incredibly disturbing or mind-meltingly sweet. I'm currently going with both.

(Though both Guv and Gladys want Trekkie shirts now. And I think Gladys is a little bit in love with "Wictor Wictor" Chekov...)

I've been neglecting [livejournal.com profile] new_scientist recently. Which is remiss of me, really. But today NS outshines itself with the answer to Why cats fail to grasp string theory. Chortle, eh?
m31andy: (Precipitate)
An interesting thing happened at the weekend, which I completely forgot to mention.

I did mention that J, A, [livejournal.com profile] cuvalwen and I skipped off to the Science Museum on Saturday and had fun in the Launch Pad. What I failed to mention was what happened there.

Now J, my sister, has Reynaud's Syndrome and from reading the Wikipedia article, I can pretty well confirm that it's primary and definitely genetic (Mum makes a mean pastry and I remember my sister's fingers turning dark blue when we picked sprouts one Christmas morning). And yes, it has been properly diagnosed. But, as with all 'quality of life' conditions as opposed to 'quantity of life' conditions, it remains untreated as it hasn't been researched enough yet.

It was interesting to read the article where it talked about "avoiding attacks" as if this is something that comes and goes, like migraine. It's not. And the best proof I have of this happened at the weekend.

There was one of those infra-red cameras set up so we were all poncing about rubbing each other in (mostly) publicly accessible places. J was stood there and then A noticed her hands. While we were all radiating mostly red in cooler parts (i.e. where clothing was present) our exposed skin mostly radiated white (except my cheeks which were a nice pink, thank you very much!), J's hands were purple. It was warm in the room, her hands felt fine (she was not reporting any pain) and yet, there for all to see, was absolute proof that her extremities were cold.

So no, Wikipedia, one does not suffer "attacks", it's always there. Just once your extremities get below a certain temperature it starts hurting. That's all.

Actually, I think I've got enough scientific evidence for New Scientist here. *cough*

(Disclaimer: I appreciate that Reynaud's Syndrome does encompass both extremes – sufferers can be prone to flushing as well – it's more a problem with body temperature regulation, but the article linked to doesn't mention this and it's not something my sister suffers from, so I'm not mentioning it explicitly…)
m31andy: (Death)
From New Scientist, 18th November 1989

Question: When is a document not a document?

Answer: When it is a leaked document.

Feedback was intrigued by the following comments, made last week at the inquiry into the Hinkley C nuclear power station. The hearing was awash with speculation, now confirmed, that an embarrassed British government was about to acknowledge more problems with its plan to privatise nuclear power. A hapless legal gent, one John Steel, turned up on behalf of the Department of Energy to forestall any attempt by antinuclear campaigners to use a leaked Cabinet memorandum as evidence. Steel said of the memorandum:

"Such a document is a confidential internal Governmental document which is privileged and which cannot be required to be disclosed by the inquiry . . . May I make it absolutely and abundantly clear that the Government will not voluntarily disclose any such document of this nature nor confirm or deny that the press reports which purport to be extracts from such a document are accurate or inaccurate. The document has not been published, that is, the 'leaked' Cabinet document. It is thus not in the public domain . . . The National Union of Mineworkers accept that they have extracts from the document, and that extracts were published in the press, if they be extracts, which again, I am neither confirming or denying. Therefore, it would be nonsensical to require the whole of a document, assuming it is a correct extract that has been pubished, to be disclosed by reason of the disclosure in the press of leaked parts of the document. That could lead to compounding the mystery which has already occurred, if it has occurred."

So now we know. Or do we?


This just proves that civil servants really *are* like Sir Humphrey at times!


Dec. 8th, 2006 02:19 pm
m31andy: (Read)
A few links, as I'm busy today.

Ironic: Conform to our society says PM by celebrating our differences.


Nostalgic: I've finally found the childhood series of books that I've been looking for. Timbucktoo.

Freaky: Bat with incredibly large tongue. Now there's a date for the Christmas season!

Even more freaky: a livejournal dedicated to (frequently slash) pairings of inanimate objects / concepts. [livejournal.com profile] anthropomor_fic Witness the incredible Character Death / AU fic. Truly scary!!!

Oh, and a little celebration is to be had. The counterpane count clocked 135 on Wednesday. While this doesn't seem to much, this is actually 1/4 of the entire piece. Only three-quarters to go! And, hopefully, I will have caught up with my original deadline of 1st September 2010 by the end of the weekend! I'm wondering whether to press on with trying for 1st September 2009 and do it in a year less than originally thought. But that way may lead to madness and death!

I'll *definitely* post pics next week. I promise!


Dec. 5th, 2006 05:05 pm
m31andy: (New Scientist)
Is it sad to feel a moment of pride when I manage to achieve a new record of 7 minutes, 15 seconds for setting up a purchase order? (That's from entering the PO, through QA and through the Budget Authoriser!)

Actually, that *is* a rhetorical question!

It's turned into a busy day, what with NAO checks, more urgent work dumped on the team and a couple of crises hitting other members of the office. Thankfully, I've managed to sort out as much as I can, so that's good.

Anyway, a bit of a chuckle.

I was trawling through some of my old documents, trying to tidy up / file and came across a number of old New Scientist Feedback articles on "Semiopathy" (circa 2002). It is also known as semantic vertigo, arising from ambiguous grammar, but I prefer to call it "The Campaign For Suitable Pauses in the Middle of Sentences Strikes Again!!!" (usually in a very loud voice!)

This, of course, is the pathology of deliberately mis-reading signs and notices for humorous effect. The most obvious one of course is the printer "input jam". I've heard strawberry works quite well, but if you use raspberry, make sure it's seedless!

But there are some absolute pearlers:

The Candidates )

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