Don’t make me send out my…

April 1st, 2009

flyingmonkeys

FLYING MONKEYS!!!

Via Cute Overload.

Giant squid discovered south of Caxambas Pass

April 1st, 2009

Giant squid discovered south of Caxambas Pass

By TOM WILLIAMS (Contact)

Friday, March 27, 2009

Throughout the years, there have always been reports of strange occurrences out on the South Florida waters, but with the latest discovery, south of Caxambas pass, marine biologists from around the world are now flocking to Marco Island.

In 2002, local fishing guide Captain Phil Ridge reported suction cup scars on a very large hammerhead shark caught off Cape Romano. Since that report was registered with state authorities, several other professional mariners have described strange sightings and unusual phenomena, especially during full-moon nights.

The discovery of what ancient mariners would describe as “The Kraken,” or a sea monster, was captured on video off the deep-sea coast of Japan in 1999, but the giant squid that was filmed at a depth of more than 2,000 feet, has never been found alive in shallow waters, until now.

Heading up the international team of investigators for the Marco discovery is Dr. Hiro Tasaki, of the Osaka Deep-Sea Institute of Japan.

“A giant squid found near a shallow water coast is truly a usual find,” announced Tasaki, at the Caxambas public boat ramp and marina, on Tuesday.

“Our team is very excited to examine the giant squid, discovered alive and floating, south of Marco Island, and every attempt will be made to return the 80-foot creature to the offshore depths where it belongs. The discovery of such an incredible specimen alive and aggressive in shallow water is indeed, unprecedented.”

“We know that giant squid are common in the gulf,” Tasaki continued, “But, normally these deep-water creatures are found well offshore, in depths of up to 5,000 feet.

“Global warming in deep gulf waters could be a factor for this incredible migration, or even the sonic booms from military aircraft might be responsible, but perhaps more important is the lunar factor, which will be affecting the local tides for quite some time.”

“The moon,” Dr. Tasaki explained, “Is now approaching a 500-year cycle, in which our lunar neighbor will be the closest it has been to the Earth for more than five centuries. The last time the moon was this close and the lunar gravity this strong was around 1509. This cyclic lunar event corresponds directly with the sea monster stories told by the ancient mariners of the early 1500s — exactly five hundred years ago.”

Dave Odom, of Island-Hopper Aerial-Adventures helicopter tours, was the first person to report the giant squid, two miles south of Marco Beach. Flying a Raven 44, four-passenger helicopter, with passengers from Germany, Odom and his crew banked over the sandbars south of Caxambas pass and saw the misplaced deep-sea creature active on the waters surface.

“It was almost sunset,” pilot Dave Odom explained, “And the view was incredible. We were just crossing the end of Marco Beach and heading south over Caxambas Pass, when everyone saw a very distinctive dark shape moving in the water.

“When we flew in for a closer look, several very large tentacles broke free from the water and appeared to reach up for the helicopter. We also saw the giant squid’s eyes — very large and dark.”

Hans Bayer, from Düsseldorf, Germany, was in the helicopter’s front seat when he commented. “I am certainly glad we are not in a boat! That creature, with those legs, must be at least 30 meters (90 feet) long.”

Old Calusa Indian drawings recovered in the most recent archeological dig in old Marco have revealed crude images of squid-like creatures doing battle with Marco’s ancient Native Americans.

“March 11 was the last full moon,” Tasaki continued, “As the next full moon cycles closer, we can probably expect future sightings. It certainly is possible the misplaced creatures could navigate the extensive Marco canal systems in search of food. All residents should be made aware that a giant squid has a voracious appetite and is one of the most aggressive and intelligent hunters on the planet.”

A warning has been issued for all Islanders to be on the alert for unusual activities near waterfront homes. Until further notice, boating at night should be avoided.

“The giant squid has the largest eye on the planet, about 18 inches across,” Tasaki explained. “These eyes are very keen in dim underwater conditions, but a giant squid would never surface in bright sunlight. The only occasion that a giant squid of this type would ever surface would be for April Fool’s Day!

April Fool, Marco Island!

A little history of the day

In 1582, Pope Gregory XIII ordered a new (Gregorian ) calendar to replace the Julian calendar. The new calendar called for New Year’s Day to be celebrated on the first day of January, and was adopted by France. According to a popular wisdom, many people either refused to accept the new date or did not know about it, and so, continued to celebrate New Year’s Day on April 1.

Other people began to make fun of these traditionalists, sending them on “fool’s errands,” or trying to trick them into believing something false. Eventually, the practice spread throughout Europe and eventually, to America.

via Giant squid discovered south of Caxambas Pass : Features : Marco News.

Twitter switch for Guardian, after 188 years of ink

April 1st, 2009

Consolidating its position at the cutting edge of new media technology, the Guardian today announces that it will become the first newspaper in the world to be published exclusively via Twitter, the sensationally popular social networking service that has transformed online communication.

The move, described as “epochal” by media commentators, will see all Guardian content tailored to fit the format of Twitter’s brief text messages, known as “tweets”, which are limited to 140 characters each. Boosted by the involvement of celebrity “twitterers”, such as Madonna, Britney Spears and Stephen Fry, Twitter’s profile has surged in recent months, attracting more than 5m users who send, read and reply to tweets via the web or their mobile phones.

As a Twitter-only publication, the Guardian will be able to harness the unprecedented newsgathering power of the service, demonstrated recently when a passenger on a plane that crashed outside Denver was able to send real-time updates on the story as it developed, as did those witnessing an emergency landing on New York’s Hudson River. It has also radically democratised news publishing, enabling anyone with an internet connection to tell the world when they are feeling sad, or thinking about having a cup of tea.

“[Celebrated Guardian editor] CP Scott would have warmly endorsed this – his well-known observation ‘Comment is free but facts are sacred’ is only 36 characters long,” a spokesman said in a tweet that was itself only 135 characters long.

A mammoth project is also under way to rewrite the whole of the newspaper’s archive, stretching back to 1821, in the form of tweets. Major stories already completed include “1832 Reform Act gives voting rights to one in five adult males yay!!!”; “OMG Hitler invades Poland, allies declare war see tinyurl.com/b5x6e for more”; and “JFK assassin8d @ Dallas, def. heard second gunshot from grassy knoll WTF?”

Highlights from the Guardian’s Twitterised news archive

1927
OMG first successful transatlantic air flight wow, pretty cool! Boring day
otherwise *sigh*

1940
W Churchill giving speech NOW – “we shall fight on the beaches … we shall never surrender” check YouTube later for the rest

1961
Listening 2 new band “The Beatles”

1989
Berlin Wall falls! Majority view of Twitterers = it’s a historic moment! What do you think??? Have your say

1997
RT@mohammedalfayed: FYI NeilHamilton, Harrods boss offering £££ 4 questions in House of Commons! Check it out

via Twitter switch for Guardian, after 188 years of ink | Media | The Guardian.

Turns out they may be serious after all

The Quiet Coup – The Atlantic (May 2009)

March 28th, 2009

Good article in the Atlantic on the financial crisis — worth a read.

The Quiet Coup – The Atlantic (May 2009).

As more and more of the rich made their money in finance, the cult of finance seeped into the culture at large. Works like Barbarians at the Gate, Wall Street, and Bonfire of the Vanities—all intended as cautionary tales—served only to increase Wall Street’s mystique. Michael Lewis noted in Portfolio last year that when he wrote Liar’s Poker, an insider’s account of the financial industry, in 1989, he had hoped the book might provoke outrage at Wall Street’s hubris and excess. Instead, he found himself “knee-deep in letters from students at Ohio State who wanted to know if I had any other secrets to share. … They’d read my book as a how-to manual.” Even Wall Street’s criminals, like Michael Milken and Ivan Boesky, became larger than life. In a society that celebrates the idea of making money, it was easy to infer that the interests of the financial sector were the same as the interests of the country—and that the winners in the financial sector knew better what was good for America than did the career civil servants in Washington. Faith in free financial markets grew into conventional wisdom—trumpeted on the editorial pages of The Wall Street Journal and on the floor of Congress.

From this confluence of campaign finance, personal connections, and ideology there flowed, in just the past decade, a river of deregulatory policies that is, in hindsight, astonishing:

• insistence on free movement of capital across borders;
• the repeal of Depression-era regulations separating commercial and investment banking;
• a congressional ban on the regulation of credit-default swaps;
• major increases in the amount of leverage allowed to investment banks;
• a light (dare I say invisible?) hand at the Securities and Exchange Commission in its regulatory enforcement;
• an international agreement to allow banks to measure their own riskiness;
• and an intentional failure to update regulations so as to keep up with the tremendous pace of financial innovation.

The mood that accompanied these measures in Washington seemed to swing between nonchalance and outright celebration: finance unleashed, it was thought, would continue to propel the economy to greater heights.

The conventional wisdom among the elite is still that the current slump “cannot be as bad as the Great Depression.” This view is wrong. What we face now could, in fact, be worse than the Great Depression—because the world is now so much more interconnected and because the banking sector is now so big. We face a synchronized downturn in almost all countries, a weakening of confidence among individuals and firms, and major problems for government finances. If our leadership wakes up to the potential consequences, we may yet see dramatic action on the banking system and a breaking of the old elite. Let us hope it is not then too late.

Why I rarely watch TV

March 26th, 2009

In David’s case, this feeling was brought on by being on a plane, but this is pretty much how I feel about TV most of the time…

Via Wondermark:

With my ear against the headrest, the entire airplane resonates. I bring work onto airplanes, my dear Internet, but it is impossible to think in here. Even watching television becomes a chore. Since when has watching television been a chore? Since we started to feel compelled to appreciate things. I do not like wasting time. I do not like watching things that I cannot appreciate. Everything is exhausting, now, even watching television. This time, I can’t manage it.

Off to the SF MOMA mueseum cafe for lunch, then more SF explorations!

Primates on Facebook

March 1st, 2009

No, I’m not on facebook. I actually really kind of dislike social networking, twitter, and all the other Net 2.0 stuff. I don’t find anything very fascinating in other people’s little mind farts, preferring to read a bit more thoughtful posting than 140 characters, even though the little twitter haikus can be amusing at times. I do think I would like being on grunter and stalker, though!

Also see: 25 things I hate about facebook.

But I do find it interesting that there really are only a few people that we really keep close to, no matter how large our networks may seem to be. And since what I value most are my most intimate relationships, perhaps my petty jealousies over those who seem to have a lot of friends are somewhat misplaced. Maybe they really are only as close to the same number of people that I am, after all.

OH, I also note that my Google reader now has about 130 blogs listed, which also fits perfectly into the Dunbar number theory.

What also struck Dr Marlow, however, was that the number of people on an individual’s friend list with whom he (or she) frequently interacts is remarkably small and stable. The more “active” or intimate the interaction, the smaller and more stable the group.

Thus an average man—one with 120 friends—generally responds to the postings of only seven of those friends by leaving comments on the posting individual’s photos, status messages or “wall”. An average woman is slightly more sociable, responding to ten. When it comes to two-way communication such as e-mails or chats, the average man interacts with only four people and the average woman with six. Among those Facebook users with 500 friends, these numbers are somewhat higher, but not hugely so. Men leave comments for 17 friends, women for 26. Men communicate with ten, women with 16.

What mainly goes up, therefore, is not the core network but the number of casual contacts that people track more passively. This corroborates Dr Marsden’s ideas about core networks, since even those Facebook users with the most friends communicate only with a relatively small number of them.

Put differently, people who are members of online social networks are not so much “networking” as they are “broadcasting their lives to an outer tier of acquaintances who aren’t necessarily inside the Dunbar circle,” says Lee Rainie, the director of the Pew Internet & American Life Project, a polling organisation. Humans may be advertising themselves more efficiently. But they still have the same small circles of intimacy as ever.

via The size of social networks | Primates on Facebook | The Economist.

Why I possibly need to use Twitter

February 18th, 2009

Why does your hair smell really good after you use mayonnaise as a conditioner?