Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Boo! Facebook (again)

Starting today, Facebook is no longer allowing the connection of the Facebook notes section to blogs to automatically push new blog posts to Facebook. So much for being social and playing nice, huh?

Bad Facebook, bad - I would swat you with a newspaper if I could.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

New Blogger Templates Offer Something a Little Different

Blogger has released what they call Dynamic Views. It allows the viewer of the website to switch between views and experience the blog in different ways.

Live examples:
The only real drag is that you have to change your basic template to one of the set.If you have done serious HTML and CSS design edits to your Blogger site you're going to lose them. However, they mention that they will "be adding more ways to customize Dynamic Views int he coming weeks."

The current option list is:
  • Classic (Gmail): A modern twist on a traditional template, with infinite scrolling and images that load as you go
  • Flipcard (M loves M) - Your photos are tiled across the page and flip to reveal the post title
  • Magazine (Advanced Style) - A clean, elegant editorial style layout 
  • Mosaic (Crosby’s Kitchen) - A mosaic mix of different sized images and text
  • Sidebar (Blogger Buzz Blog) - An email inbox-like view with a reading page for quick scrolling and browsing
  • Snapshot (Canelle et Vanille) - An interactive pinboard of your posts 
  • Timeslide (The Bleary-Eyed Father) - A horizontal view of your posts by time period

Read all about it on Blogger Buzz: Dynamic Views: seven new ways to share your blog with the world

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Google's Ngram Viewer

Recently watched the following TED talk: "What we learned from 5 million books"

So I did a few searches, and these are my results:
  • fact vs. fiction: fact occurs much more often, but has taken a decidedly sharp down turn since the early 1970s. Also, fiction is on the rise.
  • happy vs. sad: happy is on a serious decline. It bottomed out in the mid-late 1980s (a little cold war scare anyone?), but does seem to be on the rise again. Sad rose to a height in the late 1860s, but has been on the decline, except for a small rise in the late 1920s, ever since.
  • ain't vs. isn't: these two words have an interesting relationship. there was a time just before 1900 that ain't was more prevalent. Then rightfully so isn't was used more often. Then just after 1940 they both enjoyed a wild spike in usage and both shared a huge dip in usage in the early 1960s. Also ain't remains in print, isn't has spiked beyond its 1940 era boom - thankfully.
  • yes vs. no: is a most interesting graph. It seems that yes has never had much ground, and no was very famous. However no has been steadly decreasing since a peak around 1840.
  • pencil vs. pen: it looks that the pen has had the upper hand for two hundred years, but both are in a steady decline.
  • disco vs. funk: beginning in 1970 funk began in the lead and then there was a crutial tipping point in 1976 and disco soared while funk stagnated. However, funk enjoyed a resurgance in the 1990s, but by the time 1999 rolled around it was on the down beat again.
And contentious for grammarians is it email or e-mail ?? From 1980 - 2000 there has been a steady increase in the use of email!! yea, I win!

The homepage is http://books.google.com/ngrams/ - go explore.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Claymation Humor

These were posted by YouTube member scuzzbopper. Visit that channel for lots more. I love the rabbit in the second one.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Etymology of Mausoleum

In ancient times there was a little kingdom called Caria in the Persian Empire on the edge of the growing Greek influence.

Mausolus ruled Caria with his wife Artemisia from 377-353 BC. Mausolus became the official ruler (at the time called a satrap) when his father Tissaphernes died in approximately 395 BC. Mausolus was a fan of Hellenic culture. He moved the capital of Caria to Halicarnassus and began building it in a grand Greek fashion. (Mausolus, n.d.) He built up a fleet of warriors and and conquered several of the surrounding kingdoms. He exacted heavy taxes from his subjects in order to pay for his grand building scheme.

He died in 353 BC. After the ceremony, his widow Artemisia began the construction of a massive tomb for his body in Halicarnassus, the capital coastal city (Google map of the location) now known as Bodrum, Turkey.

Artemisia died two years after her brother-husband. Did I mention that they were siblings? It wasn't uncommon in those times for elite siblings to marry in order to keep wealth and power in the family. During those two years of loneliness, she became renowned for two things: cunningly crushing a rebellion by the previously conquered the Greek island city-state of Rhodes thereby returning them to Caria rule, and her immense grief over the death of Mausolus.

She was so stricken with grief that she was rumored to have mixed some of his ashes with her wine. Also she paid celebrated orators to give speeches in his honor (King, 1901).

When Artemisia died it was said that grief was the cause; she was entombed with her brother-husband.

The tomb was made entirely of white marble and combined Egyptian, Greek, and Persian styles. It was completed in 350 BC (three years after his death and one year after hers). According to authors Woods and Woods, it was truly massive. “It measured 120 by 100 feet at its base and rose to a height of 140 feet. It contained a polished stone burial chamber topped by statues and a pyramid-shaped roof. At the very top of the roof…were statues of King Mausolus and his queen, riding in a chariot pulled by four horses.” (2000)

In the Wikipeda article there is a reference to Pliny the Elder, the historian, who wrote that even though the patron of the tomb (Artemisia, I'm assuming) died before it was completed, the artisans stayed and completed the work. They believed that it was a display of their artistic skills as well as a king's tomb.

There are some arguments as to if it was possible to complete and decorate the tomb in three years. According to the fifth reference (Attributed to Howard Colvin) to the Wikipedia article, some think that it was begun before Mausolus' death (Mausoleum of Halicarnassus, n.d.).

This is a scale model:
Mausoleum of Maussollos at Halicarnassus (Scale Model)

The mausoleum at Halicarnassus stood for approximately 1800 years as one of the seven wonders of the ancient world until it was likely destroyed by an earthquake sometime in the 14th century AD.

If you Google search for Mausolus you will often come across an image of the statue in the British Museum.

However, according to the British Museum (page The Mausoleum at Halicarnassus/Statue), “The statue represents a heroised member of the Hekatomnid dynasty. There is no reason to identify him specifically with Maussollos.”

Also, Maussollos seems to be an alternate spelling of Mausolus - as well as, Halikarnassos for Halicarnassus.

Two bits of knowledge to take away from this:
  • If you construct a 'Wonder of the World' it gets associated with your name. And I guess having your name be synonymous with a giant ornate tomb is better than nothing...
  • There is nothing quite like the love between a brother-husband and sister-wife...

A nice synopsis read by Pierce Brosnan. The video and audio get a little out of sync, but worth watching. But it's better than the no-videos that the History Channel has available online for this subject. And while we're on the subject of the History Channel (please keep their name in mind) the only real information that I found on the mausoleum at Halicarnassus was two paragraphs (attributed to Britannica.com) and no videos or photos. No really, look for yourself http://www.history.com/topics/mausoleum-of-halicarnassus. On the other hand the History Channel does have plenty of content on Ice Road Truckers and Swamp Loggers!! Disappointing, very disappointing. Just as wrong as wrestling on the SyFy Channel.

Any way, watch the video, learn something, and enjoy real history.


British Museum - The Mausoleum at Halicarnassus/Statue - Retrieved from: http://www.britishmuseum.org/research/search_the_collection_database/search_object_details.aspx?objectid=460572&partid=1&searchText=mausolus&fromADBC=ad&toADBC=ad&numpages=10&orig=%2fresearch%2fsearch_the_collection_database.aspx&currentPage=2 

King, W. C., (1901) Woman: Her Position, Influence, and Achievement Throughout the Civilized World. Her Biography. Her History. The King-Richardson Co., San Jose. Chicago. Indianapolis. Retrieved from: http://www.archive.org/stream/womanherpositio00kinggoog/womanherpositio00kinggoog_djvu.txt

Wikipedia (n.d.) Mausolus. Retrieved from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mausolus

Wikipedia (n.d.) Mausoleum of Halicarnassus. Retrieved from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mausoleum_of_Halicarnassus

Woods, M. & Woods, M. B., (2000) Ancient Construction: From Tents to Towers. p. 31. Retrieved from Google Books: http://books.google.com/books?id=Z0dNB0ijOGwC&pg=PA31&sig=65mldoc6-7dxB7rv0dU6aNcW7fI&hl=en#v=onepage&q&f=false

Additional Resources:

A detailed description of what is known about the appearance and construction of the tomb by bill Thayer:

A collection of photos of the known remnants of the tomb (although the British Museum contests that there is no proof that the next to the last photo and the one before it are truly Mausolus): http://www.livius.org/ha-hd/halicarnassus/halicarnassus_mausoleum.html

Friday, June 3, 2011

Not News: Students misrepresent thier use and IM-ing in class is bad

Not a lot of news here, but it's nice when research backs up your intuition. When asked if they used an instant messaging app in class, 40% of those who had texted in class lied about it. Also IM-ing in class is more disruptive to learning than just surfing off-topic pages.
Read the whole article here:
What They Are Really Typing
May 18, 2011
by Steve Kolowich

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Man walks away from lightning strike! TWICE! -- NOT!

Watch this video:
Pretty convincing huh?
Now look at these screen captures of the two strikes. They are in order.

1st strike problems:
The man is near the front of the van and yet the shadow of the van cast by the bolt goes many feet in front of the van-all of the way to the next van. For a light source to cast a long shadow like that it must be behind the van. Clearly not the bolt.
Also, look at the trees just beyond the second van on the left, they are barely illuminated at all, in relation to the others. Wouldn't they also be brightly lit if a bolt of lightning struck so closely?
Click on image for larger version.

2nd strike problems:
The illumination cast by the second strike is almost identical to the first, despite it occurring in a different location. How's that happen? The first van is casting a shadow toward the light source; that simply can't happen. The trees closest to the camera on the right side would have more shadow because of the location of the light source, and the trees in front of and on the left of the second van would certainly be lit up by the second bolt.
Click on image for larger version. 

Nice try, but nay.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Generational Gap Identification

Soon we'll need new calipers to measure the generational gaps...

I am of an age where I still remember what I thought when I was young even though I myself am no longer young. I now have the experience to know that some of what my elders told me was true, and some was just there way of misrepresenting the facts to shape my thoughts in a way that they wanted me to think.
The age before TCI (thought connected Internet).

I remember when I first really felt like an adult. I had just started my first job with insurance and health care. I felt comfortable cursing in front of my parents, as long as it was appropriate. I was married, and my life was starting a new chapter.
The age before Blu-ray.

I remember when it was not that I didn't trust anyone over 30, it was just that they had no relevance to my life - they didn't like what I liked, they didn't do what I did, they didn't go where I went. I thought I knew what was the best in music, movies, activities, beverages, et cetera.
The age before DVDs.

I remember when I had no responsibilities other than avoiding mud, when it was possible. I didn't have a job, buy groceries, or clean my own room. My permanent teeth had almost all arrived, and I could read books that weren't written for children.
The age before CDs.

Will the process reverse?

Will I not trust anyone under fifty because they haven't been around long enough to know how the world really works?

Will I constantly deride contemporary entertainment in favor of the old stuff, the classics: Galaga, Mario Bros., World of Warcraft, Angry Birds...

Will I move into a house owned by someone else? Not buy my own groceries? Worry about teeth and not being able to read the thoughts projected inside my head...

Reflections on "How to Stop Worrying and Learn to Love the Internet" by Douglas Adams

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Adultery Does Not Mean What You Think by Scott Horlbeck

An interesting exaimination of the meaning of adultry using some bibilical references. I haven't watched all of his videos yet. But I can across this one and found it to be particularly insightful in how he juxtaposes some of the colloquial Christian belief about sex and what the text of the bible says.

Scott Horlbeck's YouTube channel.

Monday, April 11, 2011

If someone helps you, say thanks

I arrived early at the mechanic this morning to drop off my car, and the door was locked. While standing outside I noticed a car stopped in the turn lane of the intersection. It emergency flashers were on a woman flagged me over. As I was crossing the street, another man saw what was going on and stopped to help.
It was obvious that we should push it into the parking lot of the mechanic's business. We had to wait for the light to change before we went.
 He and I started pushing, her daughter was inside steering. The other man was on my right, and I was positioned in the middle of the trunk to give her room to help. That apparently wasn't necessary-as she judged it-because she was talking on her cell while walking next to me. Because she was otherwise engaged, she did not help direct traffic around us either, as we had to cross two lanes of traffic to get to a parking lot. The other man and I managed to do that as well after someone zoomed by us seemingly unaware of what we were doing.
After we arrived in the parking lot, she hung up the phone and began to tell me what she had recently gotten fixed on the car, and began complaining about what's wrong now.
She did not thank us for helping. The other man and I walked away. He was in a hurry to resume his day; I thanked the other man for helping me.
And lady, you're welcome.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Hans Rosling and the Magic Washing Machine

On the surface, by the title, I wondered why this was on TED. But as usual, Mr. Rosling brings a unique POV to the topic and evokes deep thought.
There are four major devisions in the world's population of 7 billion. The people of fire, bulb, wash, and air. And their energy requirements will only increase as they shift up the scale.

There are some environmentalists that proudly do not drive cars, but how many of them do not use a washing machine?

What's the real gift of the washing machine? The time to read books.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Full Moon 14% Bigger on March 19th

The moon, like the planets and other moons, orbits in an ellipse. When it is close to the earth in that ellipse it is called perigee. When the perigee and a full moon coincide, the moon will be 14% larger than it normally appears. This interesting occurrence happens about every 18 years.

The perigee in March 1993 was four hours off of the full moon, pretty close. However, this year's will be only one hour from perfection. So get your best cameras ready!

Even though NASA chose the title of "Super Full Moon", I didn't like the connotation.
Their write up is here: http://science.nasa.gov/science-news/science-at-nasa/2011/16mar_supermoon/

NASA ScienceCast video

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Utopia vs. Dystopia

"Utopias are where we want to live; dystopias are what we want to read about."

Tuesday, January 18, 2011