Gill found these instructions for making plasma in a microwave by carefully cutting up a grape and then nuking it. I finally got around to trying it yesterday, and it’s awesome. Even better than microwaving a light bulb in a glass of water. Check it out:
…after a five year break and while it’s true that you don’t forget how, your knees can stop being quite so flexible. I’m eyeing up the dog’s glucosamine laced treats quite enviously.
My first and last foray into being a TV production company. Tragic that this never got made…
Kate has a VTech Move & Crawl ball. From the name you can guess it’s supposed to help encourage crawling. Actually she was terrified of it for a couple of days, and now she likes to pick it up and interrogate it.
I can’t wait for her to get bored and move on to a BigTrak. The ball is going to get some spray paint and be reincarnated as Sargent Major Zero:
I just got on Google+, and the Circles concept definitely moves the ball forward, but my heart sinks a little at having yet another disconnected social identity. It’s been said before, but it’s worth saying again – social networking needs to be an open, core internet standard like email. You can live on Facebook, Google, Twitter, wherever but your social graph should be independent of any specific service.
I don’t mean this in any (well, OK, a little) granola crunching open source way. Companies should compete to the death on their social graph implementation and added value. But the actual data on who your friends are should belong to you and should be both portable and interoperable. I should be able to friend someone on Google from within Facebook and share core items in both directions. If I get fed up of Facebook I should be able to move my graph and central identity elsewhere.
We’ve got OpenSocial, strangely not mentioned in the same breath as Google+, and Open Graph which is open for things but not people. Also FOAF, XUP, and other possible foundational standards. Of course the barriers here aren’t technical.
Diaspora is an interesting project, but running instances (pods) of a social network is the wrong level of abstraction.
Of course ‘owning’ the graph is tremendously valuable and it’s hard to see Facebook giving this up anytime soon. If Google really don’t want to be evil they should use Google+ to liberate us from the tyranny of walled social gardens. Unless it turns out to be another Buzz or Wave in which case it’s down to us.
I’ve been working on an update to Catfood Earth. Several people have asked me to draw the International Date Line on the time zones layer but I’ve struggled to find a decent source for the coordinates of the line segments. I finally ended up manually digitizing the version of the line that appears on Wikipedia. The original is licensed as Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported so I’m making the coordinates below available under the same license:
This looks great for Catfood Earth. Please take the coordinates with a pinch of salt if you’re designing a cruise missile guidance system or something.
Text: We are working on an Alternative to Facebook. Thanks for reserving your username, we will email you when Altly launches. 1,096 people like this. Be the first of your friends.
After decades of ethnographic and quantitative research into the medical skills of Canis lupis familiaris I can finally publish a detailed guide to canine medical lore:
- Lick it.
- If, for any reason, step 1 fails to work eat grass until you throw up.
Universities wishing to bestow an honorary DVM should contact me at @abfo.
Speaking of Gaia, I read Michael Lind’s Why we should embrace the end of human spaceflight on Salon yesterday with horror. He marshals a bunch of straw man arguments against humans in space, the worst of which is dismissing the threat of a planetary catastrophe:
“A sufficiently large asteroid or comet impact like the one that caused the extinction of the dinosaurs could do the job. But if a massive bolide threatened the Earth, we would send unmanned spacecraft, not Robert Duvall or Bruce Willis, to steer it away or destroy it.”
That’s a little complacent. Even if we ever get perfect asteroid defenses cracked you’ve still got to worry about cosmic strings, strangelets, radiation storms, Von Neumann probes, DNA hackers, the Yellowstone super volcano and anything shown on a Saturday afternoon on SyFi. All of our eggs are very much in one planetary basket.
Take the Gaia hypothesis to its ultimate conclusion: if the planet is a super-organism then humanity is the reproductive system. We’re the best bet to spread life beyond Earth and ensure its continued survival. The asteroid scenario may trigger panspermia but that would be for a lucky few bacteria, not Homo sapiens sapiens.
Colonizing space is difficult, expensive and for most people unappealing. But stop thinking about the planet you’re leaving to your children and start thinking about the universe you’re leaving to whatever our DNA based planetary ecosystem may evolve into.
A real environmentalist would focus on making this planet uninhabitable so we escape before it’s too late.