Friday, September 5, 2008

stray bullets

Out There: People Who Live Without TV For many Americans the thought of life without TV is akin to forgoing food, shelter or, God forbid, the Internet. But about 1 to 2 percent of Americans do abstain from the boob tube, and they might seem like strange bedfellows. A recent study of those who live without found that about two-thirds fall into either the "crunchy granola set" or the "religious right, ultraconservative" camp... I guess I'm in the other one-third. I haven't had cable or air television since 2005. To be honest, I didn't get rid of the TV because I hated it, I got rid of it because I liked it too much. I needed to get some things done and I figured losing it would eliminate a distraction. It worked. I'm far more productive than I was then. I do watch movies and whatnot on the computer, but I practically have to force myself to sit down for one. I have nothing against people who watch TV. Not everyone can sit at home and write a novel or read Shakespeare after a long hard day of work. It's a matter of preference. I was a bit surprised that it was only 1-2 percent that abstain.

It’s Likely That Times Are Changing A century ago, mathematician Hermann Minkowski famously merged space with time, establishing a new foundation for physics; 
today physicists are rethinking how the two should fit together... In a lab, time is simple. You can watch experiments and record what happens as time passes simply by referring to the clock on the wall (or the computerized timers on the lab bench). But suppose you are studying the universe as a whole, attempting to formulate the laws of quantum gravity that rule the cosmos. There is no wall enclosing the universe on which to hang a clock, no external timekeeper to gauge the whenness of being. Yet quantum physics requires time to tell the universe what to do — time is necessary for things to happen. Or, as the famous restroom graffito puts it, time is nature’s way of keeping everything from happening at once. (via)

Heroin addicted elephant clean after rehab Referred to as 'Big Brother' or 'Xiguang' in Chinese media reports, the elephant was captured in 2005 in southwest China by illegal traders who fed him heroin-laced bananas. The traders used the spiked bananas for several months to control him before they were arrested by police. Xiguang was released back into the wild but was soon sent to animal protection centre after his behaviour appeared to suggest he was suffering withdrawal symptoms from heroin, Xinhua news agency reported.

Robot builders seek a little help from sci-fi "It's surprising how often people make nervous jokes about robots taking over the world. I don't want to make too much of that, but I think there's something there." So says one roboticist who thinks finding out exactly how fictional robots influence people can help engineers build real ones.

Bach fan thrills to discovery of lost 1724 pages For 25 years, Teri Noel Towe has deeply treasured a slim volume bound in red morocco that he acquired at an auction house, a volume containing six handwritten pages of a musical manuscript. Pages three and four, containing the last measures of the opening choral movement and all of the following bass aria, cover the front and back of a music sheet presumed lost. Until now. (via)

Digitizing Archives From The 17th Century A researcher on a short trip to a foreign country, with little money, but a digital camera in hand has devised a novel approach to digitizing foreign archives that could speed up research.

The 11 Kinds of Insomnia (via)
How to Read an FBI File (via)
The 100 Oldest Companies in the World (via)
The heaviest and biggest tanks in history (via)

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