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More news on the Antikythera Mechanism: who knew that a mass of gears and wheels would prove so complex and difficult for a space-faring society to understand? They've narrowed some functions down to predicting eclipses and calculating the frequency of the Olympic Games. #

"I just found it" may work with Mom when a 10-year-old turns up with a five-dollar-bill, but when five million dollars of indeterminate origin suddenly appears and the explanation is, "I dug a hole and there it was," something strange is afoot. #

Women are more likely to regret their tattoos -- I suspect it has more to do with some of the dumb ass-antlers and other emphasis of youthful sexuality that women get tattooed on their bodies. While the tattoo doesn't fade, the desire to advertise that way dims when a lady gets into her thirties, or wants to be treated seriously in the workplace, and the tattoo gives the wrong vibe. Guys willingness to broadcast verility does't seem to fade the same way. In an unrelated note, here's gratuitous Kat Von D images. #

College radio unearths some great stuff -- like this song, which sounds like pre-teen outback rappers (and it is): Mango Pickle Down River (mp3 towards end) is a remix by M.I.A. which I've heard on KNDS. I don't think it's in their 'loop' (the music that plays when there's no DJ in the studio), but I've heard it at least three times while driving around town, and it's so odd and engaging that I had to track it down. #

Don't have deep enough pockets for fine art? Rent it. Just be sure to fill the tank before returning it. #

'Zing-Zong' products: African slang for poorly-made Chinese products: 'They go Zing when they work, and then they quickly go Zong and break.' Quoted in response to China's increasing influence in Africa. Isolationist Americans, please note, in an SAT question format: "mid-20th-century wars with and sanctions against 3rd world countries" is to "Soviet Russian influence and weapons" as "early-21st-century wars with and sanctions against 3rd world countries" is to "Chinese influence and weapons." If we're not helping them benevolently, somebody else will help them malevolently. #

His cunning plan was close to perfect: it included a mechanism to dispose of the suicide weapon afterwards, making it appear as a murder. Unfortunately, he didn't count on the shrubbery. It is sad to see someone go through so much effort to do themselves in -- although the effort, it seems, was to benefit his ill wife. #

People are likely to help if asked -- but much of it is because saying 'no' has a social cost, not because of inherent altruism. I'd wager it has something to do with instant versus delayed profit -- not helping now has a bigger loss than the cost of helping, which won't be seen until the help is complete. Note the social horror when people are obliged to help but didn't due to some social factor (Kitty Genovese is the common reference) -- in the Bystander Effect, nobody helps because one person doesn't help -- the social cost of not helping appears low if nobody is helping, because it is seen as unlikely that anyone would risk the cost of saying 'no'. Caste societies have a negative social response when you do help certain people, thus enforcing the lack of assistance for those people. Too often helping others has a negative social value -- whether perceived (the illusion of loss of home values due to having a black neighbor) or actual (de-slumification moves criminals into your neighborhood) -- the change needed isn't a reward to offset the cost, but to remove that negative cost for helping altogether. So, to avoid a stratified or self-centered society, there must be a social cost for refusal to help, not a reward for helping, and people need to learn to judge their own cost without comparing it to those around them. #

Muphry's Law: If you're going to criticise somebody else's poor proofreading, your comment will, invariably, contain one or more proofreading errors. It is based on Murphy's Law -- "if anything can go wrong, it will" -- but adapted to pertain to the specific act of proofreading. Example. #

You'd think museums are the safest place for items, but it's not always the case -- things end up broken or damaged in museums despite their careful care. Last summer I attended a museum curator's convention as press, and a large part of the seminars were about repair, preservation, and insurance against damage; places like the Walker send curator-guards to make sure the works survive when loaned. Other places, however, let local bars get their patrons drunk then act surprised when people puke and climb on the art. #



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