Tag Archives: evolution

From bridge to evolution

A bunch of links, collected from the Internet:

The prime-minister was in Saint John last Friday and gave away a freebie for the people of Saint John: The toll booths on the Saint John Harbour bridge will disappear. I’m not sure how much traffic hits that bridge (and the Harbour bridge authority’s website doesn’t really reveal a lot either), but apparently it has never been self-sustaining. I believe the fare is 50 cents, which when I heard the first time of this toll, I thought was really low.

You’ve probably heard that the TSA (the American organization that is responsible for the safety at airports) has changed safety rules, by enforcing pat-downs and using backspatter X-Ray machines (wikipedia). The use of those X-Ray machines is (still) controversial because of privacy concerns (MSNBC article with a proud ms. Hallowell showing off, well, her gun so to say. The lady’s photo is also used in ACLU’s campaign against this device). Anyway, Metafilter had a posting about the TSA apparently going amuck out of revenge against a traveller who dared to ask for an alternative screening of her breast milk because she’s afraid that X-rays might be harmful. Regardless if it’s harmful or not, what is exactly the point of X-Raying breast milk? And, yeah, what does the president think of this?

With Winter right around the corner and the snow already on the ground, please take a moment to read the drawbacks of our species’ evolution (link to Smithsonian) into standing hominids: backaches, hernias (that is a wikipedia link) and yeah, a 50-50 chance of choking because:

Simultaneously, our upright posture put the trachea and esophagus in a near-vertical orientation. Together these changes leave falling food or water about a 50-50 chance of falling in the “wrong tube.” As a consequence, in those moments in which the epiglottis does not have time to cover the trachea, we choke. We might be said to choke on our success. Monkeys suffer the same fate only rarely, but then again they can’t sing or dance.

So if you were watching Bristol Palin on ‘Dancing with the stars’ and you enjoy watching hominids dance: the combination of dancing and eating can be fairly dangerous.

The Fighting Windmills Squadron

News Find the 10 differences outlet AFP reported that the Iranian Revolutionary Guard has accused the Netherlands of plotting to overthrow the Iranian government.

The Dutch [project] aimed to encourage sexual and moral deviation in society

I’d like to hear what kind of moral and sexual deviation they are talking about.

Alfons linked to a piece I’ve never heard of (not that I claim to be an expert in Spanish/Mexican style music..), the ‘Huapango’. Full orchestral work linked here (Berlin Philharmonic, YouTube, 9 minutes). Excellent material.

Via, uh, MetaFilter, I listened to Bonnie Bassler’s TED presentation (18 minutes) about how bacteria communicate. The thing that struck me the most was how she explained how we ended up with resistant bacteria:

“We’re running out of anti-biotics. Bacteria are getting increasingly multi-drug resistant, and that’s basically because all the anti-biotics we use kill bacteria… […] and that selects the resistant mutants.”

They have a name for that: it’s called evolution.

Update 1: Bassler’s name corrected (was ‘Bartlett’, who was actually an actress in St. Elsewhere). My bad.

A suffering object

An assortmentA feeling that something is weird of links, or as my English-speaking portion of my brain prefers to call them: a ‘whole bunch of I-forgets’.

A while ago, a Dutch teacher discovered a weird object in the constellation of ‘Leo Minor’. Thanks to the discovery, it looks like that the Dutch word ‘Voorwerp’ is going to be the next famous Dutch word (The other word of course being ‘apartheid’). The word itself reminds me of long and repetitive Dutch grammar classes and yes that particular part, ‘lijdend’ voorwerp.

Talking about ‘suffering objects’, what can I say about the Conservapedia vs. Lenski spat? Not much, considering ArsTechnica‘s excellent breakdown of, well, the breakdown of Conservapedia? Too much spare time. Additional bonus: Reddit thread.

Slashdot reports that Microsoft released the specifications for pre-2007 Office file formats. And here I was thinking that I’ve read about this before (earlier on xsamplex). On the good side, that is if you feel obliged, go hack at the fileformat. This also reminds me of a website that discusses several other well-known binary formats, including PDF.

Who broke it?

You may have witnessed theme switching the last couple nights: it happened so fast that you wouldn’t even know it was me. I’ve been working on changing the layout accordingly, something that involved plenty of PHP stuff because the original layout of a theme didn’t fit what I wanted to see. I have no plans for an immediate change over: after all, this bare-to-the-bones template has always been fast enough and has served me quite well the last couple of years.

That said: Microsoft launched the Zune 2 player, which, as you may have found out had a couple of favourable reviews. What’s unforgivable is Microsoft’s world wide rollout: that is, it appears that the world is actually only made out of the US. Zune Originals says it so prominently:

Sorry, this site is currently unavailable from your location. Please visit Zune.net for the latest news and information.

OK. Maybe in a few years then?1

Earlier this morning I ended up at Luis Sinco’s amazing story (and pictures) of the Marlboro Marine, which is about an Iraq veteran returning home.

And last but not least, MetaFilter has a discussion-thread about the upcoming PBS documentary about the Kansas trial. It is a long thread but worth every minute reading. Related: Eugenie Scott videos at Google, most of them discussing the history of Creationism and Evolution. Excellent stuff.

1 Officially, Zune’s are still not sold in Canada.