ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
Here is a chemical comparison of different types of blood in Terran lifeforms: red, blue, green, and violet.  So if you want to make alien blood a different color, these are guaranteed viable.
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
Here's a comparison of media sources by trustworthiness across different social groups.  I think I'd put Al Jazeera and BBC at the top of my list, although I prefer the non-American version of Al Jazeera when English is available from it.  I have found Mother Jones and Huffington Post pretty reliable; Daily Kos and Think Progress have some useful stuff.  In general, I distrust American media now, as most of it is propaganda meant to flatter corporate owners.  I prefer venues with a variety of viewpoints to monofocal ones, because anyone with an ulterior interest or party line makes me suspect they're cropping the data to fit it.
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
This crowdfunding project focused on clothes for people with Down syndrome, who often have different body proportions from average.
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
This article claims to be about decision-making during sleep, but it's actually about learning during sleep.  See this one for the part about decision-making.  Basically, your brain keeps going while you sleep.  How sophisticated its behavior is during that time depends on a combination of innate talent and learned skill.  Both of these things -- sleep-learning and decision-making -- are easy for some people, achievable for others, and out of reach for some.  If you have the potential, you can develop it.

Sleep-learning is about backloading the subconscious part of your mind with information.  In my experience, this is most effective with iceberg material, where the majority of import lies within the subconscious mind.  For example, in learning a foreign language, vocabulary and grammar tend to go in the conscious mind but pronunciation, tone, native intuition, etc. go into the subconscious mind.  So playing that language while you sleep will help you learn how it's supposed to sound, and then when you wake up, you speak it better.

Decision-making works the opposite.  You go to sleep with everything already in mind, your subconscious processes it, and spits out an answer that comes to you when you wake up.  This works by letting your mind mull over things without being distracted by what you think  you should be thinking.

And of course, if you're a writer or other creative person, you probably have the experience of waking up in the middle of the night with a really hot idea.  Because your creative brain is kind of like a toddler just waiting for waking-you to fall asleep so it can pull everything out of the cupboards, see what fits together, and wake you up with a terrific crash.

There are have been people who say these techniques do not work.  That does not stop those of us who are using them from getting great results.  They're just things that not everyone can do, and they're not in an easy place to study or measure.  But there are starting to be glimmers of confirmation.
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
 ... has some obvious flaws.  Some of these are things that Asimov himself explored in stories.  The matter has become more urgent these days with people deploying drones that can kill human beings.
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
Check out this robotic quadruped which can run and jump.  It's pretty cool.  Legs are more versatile than wheels for traversing uneven terrain and surmounting obstacles.  So this is a fascinating advance.

Although billed as a robotic cheetah, it lacks the characteristic flexible spine which creates the cheetah's famous speed.  I'm thinking more mechanical hound.  This isn't just a random quibble, by the way, it's science in action.  I know how  a cheetah generates so much speed -- that spine acts like a spring -- and I can apply that knowledge to other contexts.  So I knew to look at the spine of the robot.  Now if I were into competition robotics, this would inspire me to experiment with springy-spined robots to see if I could really make a robotic cheetah.  And maybe I'd try to stick a gyroscope in one too, because a cheetah's cornering agility is also a masterful thing, whereas vertical robots have this annoying tendency to wipeout on turns.  (I am impressed by the above robot's ability to stay upright.)  Since I'm not skilled at building robots, I'm putting these ideas online for the amusement of anyone who is.

Just, y'know, don't use it to make mechanical hounds for hunting bookworms.  In this society I feel a need to make that warning.
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
 Here's a poignant look at what's happening to southern Louisiana.  A combination of climate change and attempts to control the Mississippi have caused large parts of the state to vanish underwater.
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
 ... the radioactive wild boar.  Eat one.  Get gored by one.  Stress one enough that it mutates.  Instant superpower.

*laugh*  And some people think I make this all up from whole cloth.  No, really, it's amazing how much of my F&SF inspiration I get straight out of the news.
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
 Meet the current biggest dinosaur, link courtesy of my partner Doug.  Imagine riding that into battle.

Pope Tips

Aug. 7th, 2014 03:24 am
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
The guy who listens to Jesus has some advice on life.  Free clues; take one and pass the box.
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
I was fascinated by this effort to make computers display images that would appear sharp to people with vision defects.
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
I was encouraged by this article about Land's End being receptive to customer feedback on gendered clothing

This gave me an idea for a different marketing scheme.  Organize clothes by theme: Science T-Shirts, Fairy Tale T-shirts, Play Clothes, Work Clothes, Nurturing Slogans, Adventurous Slogans, Heroic Figures, Everything Pink, Everything Blue, etc.  Then in each section, the dropdown menu would have options for masculine, feminine, and gender-neutral cuts.
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
 A dig at Cahokia Mounds has turned up what looks like a prayer bundle.  I'm kind of surprised that this is the first they've found there.  Prayer bundles are pretty typical of magical/spiritual practice across many tribes.
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
Apparently Satanists are asserting their religious right to make medical decisions based on science, and claiming that distorted anti-abortion propaganda violates their rights.  So, Satanists are treating people better than Christians are.
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
An Indian university has bred seedless mangoes.  Science is SO AWESOME.
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
 ... which is of course gone.  Life sucks, because nobody has time for life anymore.  It's all drudgery.  Often it doesn't even pay enough to live on.
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
I find it aggravating that disabled characters are almost always played by abled actors. It creates the same problem as white actors playing people of color: taking away the extremely few roles available to actors who genuinely have those traits.
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
I continue to be impressed with the Cherokee tradition of linguistic eptitude.  It's one of the few native languages to devise its own writing system, and now it comes in Braille too

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