Thursday, April 28, 2011

XKCD tetris heaven

First XKCD proposed it, then someone built it: a game of Tetris that every now and then throws you a block constructed to exactly fit your board's needs.

When this was first linked on Metafilter, I couldn't get on the site -- I assume all the attention was more than their provider could keep up with. But it's up now.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

No-bullshit fables

These short comic strip versions of well-known fables gave me a chuckle. My favorite is the Ant and the Grasshopper, which postulates an ant who, 'not being a sociopath', works something out....

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Church Tank

I didn't know there was such a thing as that artwork known as the Church Tank, but now I do and so do you. It's by Kris Kuksi. Here's a gallery topped by another of his constructions, which also has lots of other interesting sculptures:

ADDENDUM: Oh,'s a walkthrough video of a complex piece. I like how he seems to be blending model-building and sculpture here:

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Physics game, cellular music

I've been obsessed with The Powder Toy all weekend. It's a simple 2d physics sim where you drop powder of different materials onto the screen, and stuff happens. Seeds, water, gunpowder, and acid all add to the fun. Here's a version you can play in a browser...and a more involved version you can download.

And that version includes cells from the Game of Life, which quickly take over....and that leads me to this music toy based on cellular automata. You place cells in a grid, they move around according to rules, and music happens.

All of this, as usual, thanks to

Kin-selection-evolution argument

Prediction: someone will use the fact that big name scientists can argue about specifics of evolutionary theory to say that evolution is false.

Metafilter pointed me at this interesting discussion of a kerfuffle over kin-selection. The linked blogger made a fun video explaining the arguments. With talking bears.

The root of the problem seems to be that some big name scientists got a paper highly critical of kin selection into Nature. But the paper seems to be based on a lack of knowledge of the published papers about kin selection. So the question becomes...why was the paper published at all?

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Scott Adams on getting a real education

Lots of good ideas in this Scott Adams (of Dilbert) article about what he learned in college. Lots of sneaky tricks too.

Here's just one tidbit I especially liked...

The Dale Carnegie method ignores speaking technique entirely and trains you instead to enjoy the experience of speaking to a crowd. Once you become relaxed in front of people, technique comes automatically. Over the years, I've given speeches to hundreds of audiences and enjoyed every minute on stage. But this isn't a plug for Dale Carnegie. The point is that people can be trained to replace fear and shyness with enthusiasm. Every entrepreneur can use that skill.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

How to answer folks who believe in astrology and the like

XKCD has the perfect answer. Short version: If it worked, lots of companies would be using it to make a lot of money for something besides selling it to other people who believe in it.

Friday, April 01, 2011

"The Last Sophia" by C. S. E. Cooney

Yesterday I took a break and read the short story "The Last Sophia" by C. S. E. Cooney. I found it on the Strange Horizons webzine, where I've been finding a lot of great fantasy. This one is a nice take on changelings that throws several new ideas into that old trope, starting by taking the point of view of the mother of more than one faerie child.