Amazon is running a brief promotion (ends November 30th) offering $3 worth of MP3s from Amazon MP3 for free. Just head to this page, follow the directions, and enjoy your free credit. Jason mentioned this in today's deals of the day, but we all know how important music can be to getting work done, so take advantage. [Amazon via UneasySilence]
From Mental Floss blog:
On June 12, 2009, vocalist Bobby McFerrin participated in a panel discussion called “Notes & Neurons: In Search of a Common Chorus” at the World Science Festival. As part of the discussion, he performed an amazing feat — he trained an audience, in mere seconds, to become a sort of human keyboard. In the video below, McFerrin points to the floor, sings a note, then makes the audience sing it. He steps to one side and sings the next note, and again, the audience sings it. The audience proceeds to sing notes as a sort of gigantic human keyboard/chorus as McFerrin jumps back and forth on stage.
McFerrin then says: “Now, what’s interesting to me about that is, regardless of where I am — anywhere — every audience gets that. It’s just that the pentatonic scale, for some reason….” One of the scientists on the panel raises the question: “Just to phrase the question scientifically, Larry, what the hell just happened here?”
The best thing to do is just let people talk and display their ignorance. No one is leading these folks on - they're just stringing together nonsense words.
I had heard about this incident but just saw this video for the first time and it’s really funny to watch. Apparently, the (dwarfs?) hired to dress up as ewoks on the Today Show for Halloween got drunk during the show and started to act up.
I really like when one of them starts to moonwalk.
I heard this photographer being interviewed on NPR and he told the same story that he tells on this short video. A female leopard seal befriends him – in a way that only a leopard seal would think shows that it likes you. Amazing story and great pictures.Well worth the 2 minutes of your life.
This is a very interesting article from the Brookings Institute. Of course, it means that you have to (at least be willing to) acknowledge that not everything here is better than everywhere else in the world, which many Republicans seem constitutionally incapable of accepting...
Of course, they don’t provide any answers – they’re just working with statistics (and you know how reliable statistics are). But there’s some interesting stuff in here.
The five myths they discuss are:
1. Americans enjoy more economic opportunity than people in other countries.
2. In the United States, each generation does better than the past one.
3. Immigrant workers and the offshoring of jobs drive poverty and inequality in the United States.
4. If we want to increase opportunities for children, we should give their families more income.
5. We can fund new programs to boost opportunity by cutting waste and abuse in the federal budget.
Here are a few choice quotes (go to the site for the entire article):
If you are born into a middle-class family in the United States, you have a roughly even chance of moving up or down the ladder by the time you are an adult. But the story for low-income Americans is quite different; going from rags to riches in a generation is rare. Instead, if you are born poor, you are likely to stay that way. Only 35 percent of children in a family in the bottom fifth of the income scale will achieve middle-class status or better by the time they are adults; in contrast, 76 percent of children from the top fifth will be middle-class or higher as adults.
Of course money is a factor in upward mobility, but it isn't the only one; it may not even be the most important. Our research shows that if you want to avoid poverty and join the middle class in the United States, you need to complete high school (at a minimum), work full time and marry before you have children. If you do all three, your chances of being poor fall from 12 percent to 2 percent, and your chances of joining the middle class or above rise from 56 to 74 percent. (We define middle class as having an income of at least $50,000 a year for a family of three.)
Otter pups always provide for a generous helping of 'pile-on'. This series of images taken at the Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan in Osaka, Japan is no exception. The Asian Small-Clawed Otter pups, born in late August, are still on display to the public and have met with much popularity this fall.
In the spirit of “you can never know too much,” here is a list of ten things you didn’t know about orgasms. For example, did you know that men have three G spots? Or that a dead man, with stimulation to the sacral nerves, can still have an orgasm? (Maybe your husband is a dead man, so you knew this.) Or that the record for female orgasms in an hour is 134. Holy kaw!
More about sex because you can never know too much about sex.
When the Westboro Baptist Church nutcases, infamous for picketing at the funerals of military from the Iraq war with signs that read “God Hates Fags”, “God Hates America” and so on went to New York City to protest, they received a typical New York welcome.
Cause NYC is filled with Jews and gays. And people that love them. My people. I love that they heckle the WBC idiots by singing Hava Nagila….heh.
The New Republic covers this in detail. From their article:
With Armageddon approaching, WBC has trained its sights on a new target: The Jews. Though the gay-bashing and funeral-crashing continue apace, the church is now on a mission to call forth the 144,000 Jews who will be saved, according to the Book of Revelation, when their Christ-rejecting brethren perish in the rapture. (“Some Jews Will Repent,” says one of the group’s more optimistic signs.) Recently, the hunt for these “elect Jews” sent a WBC contingent on a whirlwind tour of New York, where members picketed synagogues and other Jewish sites in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, and Long Island’s Great Neck (or “Great Stiffened Neck,” as WBC calls it), throwing in stops at “fag-infested” high schools for good measure.
TNR also has a video, but I can’t embed it so go here if you want to see it.
Totally digging this. Want more like it.
When it comes to keeping your Windows PC secure, all of the scare tactics and overblown virus stories out there make it hard to feel safe online. The fact of the matter is that you don't need to pay for Windows security.
From time to time we like to go on long, opinionated rants about subjects that bug us. This is one of those times. So let's have a frank and honest discussion about Windows security, and leave the scare tactics and FUD for money-grubbing corporate marketers.
Microsoft Security Essentials is a Great Antivirus Application
The release of Microsoft Security Essentials has changed the landscape of antivirus software. We've finally got a completely free application that protects against viruses, spyware, and other malware—without killing system performance like some of the "suites" tend to do. In my personal experience, it barely slows down the machine and rarely affects my work—and during a deliberate attempt to download some viruses (for testing purposes), it immediately found and blocked them from doing anything.
You don't have to take my word for it, however. Not only did AV-Test.org find that it detects 98% of their enormous malware database, but AV-Comparatives (a widely known anti-malware testing group) found that MSE was one of only three products that did well at both finding and removing malware, including the leftovers. It was also the only free product to grab their "Advanced+" rating—the top honor for an anti-malware solution.
The more tech-oriented readers will probably note that MSE does not do any fancy heuristics to detect viruses that aren't in the database already, which is a feature offered by some paid solutions. In my opinion, this feature is usually unnecessary and a massive system drag if combined with a healthy dose of not installing questionable nonsense.
Stop Whining About "Outbound" Firewalls
Every time I read an article about the built-in Windows Firewall, I see comments complaining that they use Zone Alarm or some other software because they handle "Outbound" connections. Let's put it on the table—the Windows Firewall has plenty of capability for handling outbound connections if you really need that level of paranoia. In fact, if you just look through your start menu you'll find a link for Windows Firewall with Advanced Security. You can head into there and pretty much configure any setting that you can possibly imagine, getting right down to the port level if you want.
The fact of the matter, however, is that outbound firewalls on a desktop PC are Completely Pointless. If the malware has made its way onto your computer, you have already lost the war. Your PC now belongs to whoever is running the botnet, and your outbound firewall isn't going to stop it—after all, the malware can simply add a rule to the firewall to allow access. It's better to focus on keeping malware off your PC in the first place.
Let's not forget that most of us are using a router with a firewall built right into it, and as long as you aren't using easily-cracked WEP encryption, you should be perfectly safe behind your firewall.
User Account Control (UAC) is Not a Security Tool
The single most irritating feature introduced in Windows Vista was those annoying UAC prompts, asking you for permission to do nearly anything on your computer—and the fact is, even if it makes you feel more secure, it's a false sense of security. Malware researchers at SophosLabs found that 8 of 10 malware samples can actually bypass UAC on a system with the default Windows 7 settings.
The fact of the matter is that unless you've pushed the UAC slider all the way to the top, it's not meant to be a security feature. The original intent was to change the way Windows works so that you can more easily run software as a standard user account, instead of running as administrator all the time. So there you have it—if you aren't going to run as a standard user or turn the slider all the way to the top, you may as well disable UAC.
Keep Windows Updated
When it comes to protecting yourself, it's laughable how many people install multiple antivirus applications but don't keep their system updated with the latest operating system patches. Last April, the Conficker worm was exploiting and spreading on millions of PCs through critical security hole in Windows—one that had been patched the previous October.
If everybody would simply keep their systems patched, we wouldn't have to worry so much about these problems. If the constant rebooting action of Windows Update has you frustrated, you can always temporarily delay Windows Update's forced reboot, or just make it not restart your PC automatically—but you should always have Windows Update running at all times.
Keep Applications Like Acrobat and Flash Updated, or Uninstall Them
Even though we're complaining about people not keeping Windows updated, the fact of the matter is that the most likely cause of drive-by malware infection these days is through your browser plugins. Adobe Flash is notoriously full of security holes, and the latest attacks have been using vulnerabilities in Adobe Acrobat to infect your PC without installing a thing—just go to the wrong site that redirects you in a hidden frame to a PDF file containing the exploit, and your system can be exploited.
Keeping your applications updated is critically important to protecting your security. Your firewall won't protect you, and an antivirus software is unlikely to help if you're using an old, vulnerable version of Flash in your browser—what you need is a piece of software that scans your PC and makes sure that you are using the latest, patched versions. We've got you covered with the five best software update tools for any OS, but my personal recommendation for Windows is for Secunia PSI.
Stop Downloading Questionable Files
There's a little-known fact that I don't usually tell anybody, but I'm going to share with you today: I haven't used real-time antivirus software on my PC in 10 years, and I've never been infected with a virus. About once a year, I run through an online virus scanner to make sure that my claim still holds true, and it's never happened.
How have I managed that, while being a geek and testing software all the time? There's a couple of simple rules that will protect you:
So what do you say? Are the built-in tools, combined with Microsoft Security Essentials, good enough for you, or are you going to stick with the full paranoia route? Let's hear your thoughts in the comments.
- Use an online scanner like VirusTotal to scan questionable files before installing them.
- Don't download and install those questionable files in the first place.
- Use some common sense. That pre-release copy of the latest video game you got from a torrent? Yeah, it probably has a virus in it.
Send an email to How-To Geek, the author of this post, at email@example.com.
Do you ever notice the ads that Facebook puts on the right side of the screen? I rarely pay attention to them, but this one caught my eye this morning.
It’s not the black college part – it’s the black “online” college part.
How does one make an online college “black”?
Yeah, it’s been a little busy, what with the traveling and some drama here at home. I’ll try to get you all caught up in this brief posting.
I’ve been hanging out with/dating the Tardy Girl (ATG) for a little more than a year now. It’s a pretty casual thing for many reasons, mostly because she’s incredibly unavailable (she’s got 3 kids, financial issues, lots and lots of drama).
She just spent five weeks in the hospital after a blocked lower intestine required surgery. She got two infections post-surgery and they really did a crappy job of treating her in general. The blockage was likely caused by scar tissue from a previous surgery at the same hospital that they botched & then had to do an emergency hysterectomy. Nightmare, right?
So I’ve been going to the hospital to keep her company and try to cheer her up, cause that’s what I do. (I tried to bring a dopey gift most days – for example, I brought a flashlight that’s also a keychain and also a pink pig one day and a stress ball another day.) What else can you do for someone that’s in terrible pain and is super-depressed?
They finally released her this week, although her stomach is still really distended and is barely able to eat because of the pain (she was tiny to start with and now she’s skeletal). She’s staying at her parents house for now.
I’ve been spending a lot of time with her and her family as a result of all this. Her kids are ridiculously sweet (I’ve met two of them – the same two I had met before all this went down. The third is elusive.) and her parents are also really kind. Going through this seems to have changed our relationship (or whatever it is we have). It will be interesting to see how it all shakes out once she is (finally?) healthy again.
Oh, did I mention that she has no medical insurance? Nightmare. Ongoing…
And then I went to Orcas Island with a friend (let’s call her the Crunchy Girl) last weekend, which was great. It’s about a 1.5 hour drive up to the ferry, then a 1.5 hour ferry ride and a 45 minute drive to get to the place where we were staying. I was a little nervous and brought along a sleeping bag in case the cabin didn’t look clean enough, but it was clean and comfortable and perfect.
We hung out, did a little hiking, went to a nice little farmer’s market, hot tubbed and just generally got to know each other better. It was a really relaxing and wonderful time.
After I dropped the Crunchy Girl off at her house, I headed home. About a half mile from my house, I suddenly had such terrible stomach pain I had to pull over. I walked around, laid on the hood of my car and laid down in the car trying to wait for it to pass. I finally forced myself to drive home, hunched over the steering wheel, encouraging myself that I could make it.
When I got to my house, Gus the dog refused to even get up off the couch to greet me (sometimes he gets attitude when I go away – he was with friends & their dogs all weekend, playing like the little monster he is). I tried lying in different positions and the pain just kept getting worse. I finally realized that I needed to call 911. Oy with the drama.
At that point, the pain was so bad, I could barely speak to the 911 operator. She sent an ambulance to my house, which got there in about 5 minutes, which is pretty impressive, I guess. The ambulance guys came in the house and we sat on the couch while they checked me out & got some basic information. This was complicated by the fact that my attitude ridden dog decided to come sit on top of one of the ambulance guy’s laps. Ambulance guy didn’t find this endearing in the least. Which, under the circumstances, was pretty appropriate, although confusing to the beasty boy.
Ended up in the ER, where they made sure it wasn’t my heart (EKG – women display weird symptoms of heart attacks, so I was appreciative that they checked this out first), took x-rays, a CT scan, blood, urine, etc etc etc and diagnosed me with Gallstones.
Apparently, the large number of cashews I ate for lunch in the car ride home from the ferry contained a LOT of fat, which makes the gallbladder work. It compressed around the stones and caused the pain.
They treated the pain with painkillers and since I didn’t have an infection in my gallbladder said that I should follow up on it this week. I did, and have arranged to have said gallbladder removed the week after Thanksgiving.
So, that’s about it.
Oh, other than the fact that I’m attending a “Clitoral Revelations” class this afternoon. I’ll let you know all about that cause it’s bound to be entertaining.
Sunday: Rain likely, mainly after 10am. Cloudy, with a high near 51. South wind between 9 and 13 mph. Chance of precipitation is 60%.
Sunday Night: Rain likely, mainly before 10pm. Cloudy, with a low around 42. South wind between 11 and 14 mph. Chance of precipitation is 70%.
Monday: Rain, mainly after 10am. High near 51. South wind around 14 mph. Chance of precipitation is 80%.
Monday Night: Showers likely. Cloudy, with a low around 41. Chance of precipitation is 70%.
Tuesday: Showers likely. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 50. Chance of precipitation is 60%.
Tuesday Night: Showers likely. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 39.
Veterans Day: A chance of showers. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 49.
Wednesday Night: A chance of showers. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 40.
* Here's the Cliff Mass Vocabulary Word of the Day.
Jim Windolf explores the science behind adorable animals:
“It’s part of our DNA to react to cute things,” says Meg Frost, who founded Cute Overload in 2005. “What makes me post certain pictures is if I have an audible reaction—a squeal—when I see the picture. I’m kind of annoyed at myself for having no control over thinking these things are so cute. [...]
Specifically, [biologist Melanie] Glocker’s series of experiments demonstrated that the act of looking at baby pictures stirs up an ancient part of the brain called the nucleus accumbens. “It’s in the midbrain,” Glocker says, with a slight Teutonic accent, “which is an evolutionarily older part of the brain involved in reward
processing. This region has also been shown to be activated by a variety of rewarding stimuli, including sexual stimuli, food stimuli, and drug stimuli.” Dr. Glocker is too much of a scientist to say so, but her experiments more or less prove that cuteness is physically addicting.
FU Penguin fights the urge to cuddle with the cute dog above:
This dog's name is Snapdragon, which not coincidentally is the PERFECT FUCKING NAME for this Muppet-looking motherfucker. I was sent in this picture by a person pretending to be the owner, but honestly is there any possible way this is a real dog? And if it is a real dog, it should be taken away because it is clearly fucking out of its mind high. THERE IS NO WAY I'M COMING TO SIT ON THAT COUCH WITH YOU, DOG. I don't care
how many episodes of Planet Earth you have cued up.
Here is how gorillas grieve:
Gorillas are known to hold wakes for dead friends, something that some zoos have formalized in a ceremony when one of their gorillas passes away. Donna Fernandes, now president of the Buffalo Zoo, tells the story of being at Boston's Franklin Park Zoo ten years ago during the wake for a female gorilla, Babs, who had died of cancer. She describes seeing the gorilla's longtime mate say good-bye: "He was howling and banging his chest,... and he picked up a piece of her favorite food — celery — and put it in her hand and tried to get her to wake up. I was weeping, it was so emotional." Later, the scene at Babs's December funeral was similarly moving. As reported by local news, gorilla family members "one by one ... filed into" the room where "Babs's body lay," approaching their 'beloved leader' and 'gently sniffing the body.'
Here is how elephants express their grief:
[These] are the actions of the members of an elephant family... after a group member had been shot: 'Teresia and Trista became frantic and knelt down and tried to lift her up. They worked their tusks under her back and under her head. At one point they succeeded in lifting her into a sitting position but her body flopped back down. Her family tried everything to rouse her, kicking and tusking her, and Tullulah even went off and collected a trunkful of grass and tried to stuff it in her mouth.'
[A] wolf pack after the loss of the low-ranking omega female wolf, Motaki, to a mountain lion. The pack lost their spirit and their playfulness. They no longer howled as a group, but rather they 'sang alone in a slow mournful cry.' They were depressed — tails and heads held low and walking softly and slowly — when they came upon the place where Motaki was killed. They inspected the area and pinned their ears back and dropped their tails, a gesture that usually means submission. It took about six weeks for the pack to return to normal. The Dutchers also tell of a wolf pack in Canada in which one pack member died and the others wandered about in a figure eight as if searching for her. They also howled long and mournfully.
As for humans, some of us can completely contain our emotions and turn the grief into a dark, inner sea that's wide and deep. We know the depths of death. No crying, no smelling, no stomping about—just the silent sea of grief.
The Other Marriage Nail-Biter: Victory: "
In Washington State, another referendum on gay couples' equality was also a squeaker. But in this one, gay couples won. The state's domestic partnership law grants gay couples all the rights of married couples at a state level. The usual forces tried to reverse it, as they tried in Maine. But in Washington, the gay side won by 51.1 to 48.9 percent. Again, it's such a slender margin, it's stupid to draw any vast conclusions.
But I do want to point out that, from the perspective of just a decade ago, to have an even split on this question in a voter referendum is a huge shift in the culture. In Maine, where the Catholic church did all it could to prevent gays from having civil rights in a very Catholic and rural state, gays do have equality but may now merely be denied the name. The process itself has helped educate and enlighten and deepen the debate about gay people in ways that never happened before the marriage issue came up.
I am heart-broken tonight by Maine, and I'd be lying if I said otherwise.
Somehow losing by this tiny margin is brutalizing. And because this is a vote on my dignity as a human being, it is hard not to take it personally or emotionally. But I also know that the history of civil rights movements has many steps backward as forward, and some of those reversals actually catalyze the convictions that lead to victories. A decade ago, the marriage issue was toxic. Now it divides evenly. Soon, it will win everywhere.
I know for many younger gays and lesbians, this process can seem bewildering and hurtful. But I'm old enough now to be able to look back and see the hill we have climbed in such a short amount of time, and the minds and hearts we have changed. Including our own.
I went to Orcas Island this weekend. It was unexpectedly pretty out and I got a few nice pictures. I highly recommend it to anyone who is looking for a getaway from Seattle.
Oh yeah, and when I got home, I was in intense pain, had to call an ambulance, go to hospital, get CAT scan, xrays, blah blah blah, drugs, and I have 4 gallstones. Looking into surgeons. Feeling much better for now…
Here’s some pix from the trip. Click on any picture to see it larger.
FU Penguin is disillusioned on Halloween:
You are supposed to be trying to
suck my blood or finding your way out of a cave using radio waves or
Google maps or whatever. Instead you are like a big-eyed baby deer
crossed with a webbed monkey sucking on a pacifier. You're really
little, too, aren't you? There's nothing in this picture that I can
compare you to, but I get the sense you're something disgusting like a
pound and a half. I bet you would fit in my hand and then look up at me
and I wouldn't even be able to check to make sure you aren't going to
turn into a vampire.
And while we're at it, F U dolphin.