Midway of the Absurd
First, we have Goodnight Dune, a parody of the children's book Goodnight Moon. Anyone who loves the science fiction classic will quite like it. "And goodnight to the bene gesserit witch whispering 'They tried and died'..."
And speaking of absurd wonders, you know steampunk has gone mainstream when people start making steampunk sex toys. That's what you'll find at Lady Clankington's Cabinet of Carnal Curiosities -- vibrators and paddles and more with a retro-steampunk flair. Nothing like a dildo that looks like a death ray, after all!
Over at Despair Inc, maker of demotivational posters, is this Adaptation poster: "The bad news is robots can do your job now. The good news is we're now hiring robot repair technicians. The worse news is we're working on robot-fixing robots--and we do not anticipate any further good news."
An oldie but a goodie: Cave Man Science Fiction. "I am invent sharp rock to replace sharp stick!" "You go too far!"
From Gizmodo, This Terminator 2 cake is appropriate for almost no occasions. Well, that's not entirely true--a Terminator going down into a pool of molten metal might be useful to datan0de...
Combining support of legal euthanasia with love of extreme roller coasters, Deconcrete has an article about The Euthanasia Coaster, a roller coaster specifically designed to kill its riders.
Sex, Love, and Relationships
Psychology Today: Sexual Monogamy Does Not "Lead" To Happiness. A rebuttal to a New York Times article claiming that promiscuity leads to depression and sexual monogamy leads to happiness. (I could easily present myself as a counterexample to the NYT's premise...)
On the sexual informatics front, OK Cupid, the folks who've given me several partners and done some serious data mining along the way, have done it again with 10 Charts About Sex, in which they plumb their formidable database for information about how likely a woman is to orgasm easily if she does or doesn't exercise and the odds that someone enjoys oral, among other things.
Also from Psychology Today comes Open Marriage, Healthy Marriage? From the article, "Health and happiness are driven by growth, not stagnation. A healthy marriage is thus one that provides a stable, safe "home base" for each partner to venture out from, acquiring new experiences, and bringing them back home to digest and grow."
News Review has an article about non-monogamy called Polyamory: Love, Multiplied, about a marriage counselor who deals with, among other things, polyamorous relationships. Overall a positive article, though the comments are about what you'd expect.
Video game maker Bioware releases a game called Dragon Age 2, in which player characters can become romantically involved, if they want to, with non-player-characters in all sorts of unconventional ways. When a straight male gamer complains about it being possible for his character to get hit on by a guy, Bioware tells him to shove off.
Rationality, Religion, and Atheism
A very interesting article over at Mother Jones explores the science of why we don't believe science. Information by itself almost never changes attitudes.
On Thought Catalog, a Flowchart for How to Have a Rational Discussion. This should be required reading in every 4th-grade class. And 5th-grade class. And 6th and 7th and 8th...and once a year thereafter for life.
Someone has used Legos to create The Brick Testament -- illustrated scenes from the Bible in the form of Lego dioramas. I particularly like the section called The Law, which outlines the Old Testament laws and rules. It answers pressing moral questions like When to Stone Your Whole Family, What Not to Eat, and what the Bible really says about religious tolerance.
From Epiphenomenon comes this article about the "atheists are greedy" trope, Atheists are Generous, They Just Don't Give to Charity. Religious people overall are more likely to give to charity, presumably in hope of a supernatural reward--but atheistic societies are more likely to have strong social support systems.
Politics and Society
With the Republicans, who took a budget surplus and in eight years under George W. Bush turned it into a record-shattering deficit, call themselves "deficit hawks," I tend to find myself laughing. These 'tough on deficit' conservatives claim to be trying to trim the budget, but as this chart shows, it's more accurate to say they're transferring wealth from the poor to the rich--in other words, new day, same old politics.
And speaking of the GOP, New Hampshire state Republican congressman Martin Harty says "the mentally ill, the retarded, people with physical disabilities and drug addictions" are "defective people society would be better off without.” His solution to the problem of "defective people?" Ship them to Siberia!
From AlterNet: We're #1 -- Ten Depressing Ways America Is Exceptional takes shots at some of our most cherished myths. For example: Economic mobility, contrary to American misconception, is worse in the US than in other industrialized nations.
Along the lines of "Goodnight Dune," here's a list of amusing sci-fi children's books I'd like to see, such as The Battlestar Bears Learn About Cylons.
From The Onion comes this cautionary report: Marauding Gay Hordes Drag Thousands Of Helpless Citizens From Marriages After Obama Drops Defense Of Marriage Act. I guess the Gay Agenda was real after all!
Wouldn't it be nice if God released patches for reality, to correct some of the more glaring errors? In these Patch Notes for reality version 2.1</strong>, we get to see some of the benefits of the new revision. For example, "Greenland and Iceland have had their names correctly swapped."
Science and Technology
Ever notice how hard it is to break a bad habit? Some folks claim that's because behaviors exhibit an 'extinction burst'--they become stronger when you're trying to get rid of them. Maybe the behaviorists had some good ideas after all.
Can you get something for nothing? talks about whether it is possible for anything to spontaneously appear out of nothing. Short answer: Yes, it is.
From Drugs.com, an article that says the placebo effect may work in reverse, too--if you are given a dose of a real medicine but told that it is a placebo, the real drug in some circumstances may be less effective.
A report about an article in Science Translational Medicine suggests that tiny "nanodiamonds" made of very small clusters of carbon atoms may be able to deliver chemotherapy drugs into cancer tumors efficiently and with few or no toxic side effects that often attend chemo. From the article: "When the nanodiamonds are washed in acid, their surfaces gain carboxyl groups and they become "sticky." Small molecules like doxorubicin and large molecules like strands of genetic material can grab on. The nanodiamonds even stick to each other when they are attached to doxorubicin, forming clumps with drug-filled pockets. These clumps stick around in mice up to ten times longer than unbound doxorubicin and release their drugs in a slow, sustained way. Plus, chemo-resistant cancer cells have trouble expelling the doxorubicin-diamond complex."
I'm always skeptical of evolutionary psychology to begin with, and this article about sexual selection and casual sex rubbishes one of the evo psych's basic tenets: men are the pursuers and women are the gatekeepers of sex because women are looking for a mate who will help them raise babies, whereas men want to procreate as widely as possible. Contrary to the evo psych description of mating strategy, "Gender differences towards casual sex be damned. The extent to which women and men believed that the proposer would be sexually-skilled predicted how likely they would be to engage in casual sex with this individual.”
This guy is almost as obsessive as I am. When his workplace encountered a number of faulty Kingston flash memory cards, he discovered that they were counterfeit, probably made after hours at a Kingston plant from defective materials. He then bought a bunch of bogus memory cards, took them apart, and traced down where they came from. Interesting detective work and interesting reading.
Just plain fun
People on the first flight in to Virgin Atlantic's new terminal in San Francisco got a surprise: they were escorted in by White Knight Two and SpaceShip Two. A passenger took some amazing footage on a video camera from the jet liner's windows.
In the "Eastern Europe urban decay" theme, we have 25 Abandoned Yugoslavia Monuments that look like they're from the Future. Amazing stuff.
Detroit in Ruins is a gorgeous photo essay showing that Eastern Europe hasn't cornered the market on urban decay. The city of Detroit is home to some amazing ruin, and these pictures are absolutely gorgeous.
And finally, on Vimeo is a fantastic video of some VERY skilled skydivers using flightsuits to do some amazing low-level skimming along mountaintops.