Friday, November 19, 2010

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I just realized in the dentist's chair that I'm the kind of person who needs time to fuck around and play with things (with some direction) and that a full time, 6 day a week job is detrimental to that. Time for a change...

Posted: 18 Nov 2010 09:07 PM PST

I just realized in the dentist's chair that I'm the kind of person who needs time to fuck around and play with things (with some direction) and that a full time, 6 day a week job is detrimental to tha ...

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Wow, just read Batman: Inc. Very, very nice. Might have to go back and read it another time... and the original 'Lord Death Man' story too.

Wow, just read Batman: Inc. Very, very nice. Might have to go back and read it another time... and the original 'Lord Death Man' story too.

I just realized in the dentist's chair that I'm the kind of person who needs time to fuck around and play with things (with some direction) and that a full time, 6 day a week job is detrimental to that. Time for a change...

I just realized in the dentist's chair that I'm the kind of person who needs time to fuck around and play with things (with some direction) and that a full time, 6 day a week job is detrimental to that. Time for a change...

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

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000e13a1 (2472×3267)

Posted: 16 Nov 2010 12:17 PM PST

via pics.livejournal.com ...

Friday, November 12, 2010

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How to Choose a Graphics Tablet that Fits Your Needs | Psdtuts+

Posted: 11 Nov 2010 02:24 PM PST

Want!

Lifehacker Readers' Favorite Pens

Posted: 11 Nov 2010 01:48 PM PST

via lifehacker.com I love me some goddamn pens. ...

BLDGBLOG: An Invisible Empire of Sidewalks and Gutterspace

Posted: 11 Nov 2010 01:33 PM PST

via bldgblog.blogspot.com ...

Is this evidence that we can see the future? - life - 11 November 2010 - New Scientist

Posted: 11 Nov 2010 01:32 PM PST

Extraordinary claims don't come much more extraordinary than ...

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Lifehacker Readers' Favorite Pens

I love me some goddamn pens.

Is this evidence that we can see the future? - life - 11 November 2010 - New Scientist

Extraordinary claims don't come much more extraordinary than this: events that haven't yet happened can influence our behaviour.

Parapsychologists have made outlandish claims about precognition – knowledge of unpredictable future events – for years. But the fringe phenomenon is about to get a mainstream airing: a paper providing evidence for its existence has been accepted for publication by the leading social psychology journal.

What's more, sceptical psychologists who have pored over a preprint of the paper say they can't find any significant flaws. "My personal view is that this is ridiculous and can't be true," says Joachim Krueger of Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island, who has blogged about the work on the Psychology Today website. "Going after the methodology and the experimental design is the first line of attack. But frankly, I didn't see anything. Everything seemed to be in good order."

Critical mass

The paper, due to appear in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology before the end of the year, is the culmination of eight years' work by Daryl Bem of Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. "I purposely waited until I thought there was a critical mass that wasn't a statistical fluke," he says.

It describes a series of experiments involving more than 1000 student volunteers. In most of the tests, Bem took well-studied psychological phenomena and simply reversed the sequence, so that the event generally interpreted as the cause happened after the tested behaviour rather than before it.

In one experiment, students were shown a list of words and then asked to recall words from it, after which they were told to type words that were randomly selected from the same list. Spookily, the students were better at recalling words that they would later type.

In another study, Bem adapted research on "priming" – the effect of a subliminally presented word on a person's response to an image. For instance, if someone is momentarily flashed the word "ugly", it will take them longer to decide that a picture of a kitten is pleasant than if "beautiful" had been flashed. Running the experiment back-to-front, Bem found that the priming effect seemed to work backwards in time as well as forwards.

'Stroke of genius'

Exploring time-reversed versions of established psychological phenomena was "a stroke of genius", says the sceptical Krueger. Previous research in parapsychology has used idiosyncratic set-ups such as Ganzfeld experiments, in which volunteers listen to white noise and are presented with a uniform visual field to create a state allegedly conducive to effects including clairvoyance and telepathy. By contrast, Bem set out to provide tests that mainstream psychologists could readily evaluate.

The effects he recorded were small but statistically significant. In another test, for instance, volunteers were told that an erotic image was going to appear on a computer screen in one of two positions, and asked to guess in advance which position that would be. The image's eventual position was selected at random, but volunteers guessed correctly 53.1 per cent of the time.

That may sound unimpressive – truly random guesses would have been right 50 per cent of the time, after all. But well-established phenomena such as the ability of low-dose aspirin to prevent heart attacks are based on similarly small effects, notes Melissa Burkley of Oklahoma State University in Stillwater, who has also blogged about Bem's work at Psychology Today.

Respect for a maverick

So far, the paper has held up to scrutiny. "This paper went through a series of reviews from some of our most trusted reviewers," says Charles Judd of the University of Colorado at Boulder, who heads the section of the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology editorial board that handled the paper.

Indeed, although Bem is a self-described "maverick" with a long-standing interest in paranormal phenomena, he is also a respected psychologist with a reputation for running careful experiments. He is best known for the theory of self-perception, which argues that people infer their attitudes from their own behaviour in much the same way as they assess the attitudes of others.

Bem says his paper was reviewed by four experts who proposed amendments, but still recommended publication. Still, the journal will publish a sceptical editorial commentary alongside the paper, says Judd. "We hope it spurs people to try to replicate these effects."

One failed attempt at replication has already been posted online. In this study, Jeff Galak of Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and Leif Nelson of the University of California, Berkeley, employed an online panel called Consumer Behavior Lab in an effort to repeat Bem's findings on the recall of words.

Bem argues that online surveys are inconclusive, because it's impossible to know whether volunteers have paid sufficient attention to the task. Galak concedes that this is a limitation of the initial study, but says he is now planning a follow-up involving student volunteers that will more closely repeat the design of Bem's word-recall experiment.

This seems certain to be just the first exchange in a lively debate: Bem says that dozens of researchers have already contacted him requesting details of the work.

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Back To The Future?

Thu Nov 11 18:49:02 GMT 2010 by Dennett

Take two baby aspirin and call me yesterday morning.

Back To The Future?

Thu Nov 11 18:53:36 GMT 2010 by Ivan
http://www.humancafe.com

In one experiment, students were shown a list of words and then asked to recall words from it, after which they were told to type words that were randomly selected from the same list. Spookily, the students were better at recalling words that they would later type.

This is a clear example of a "pre-loaded" test. I'm surprised they would let this pass as valid, when the students are really "re-calling" later what they already know before they typed it. Silly mistake. ... Yeah, take two. :-)

Back To The Future?

Thu Nov 11 19:31:46 GMT 2010 by Samuel Walter

I think you've misunderstood the test. The first task was to look at the list of words. The second task was recall words from the list. Finally, they were given randomly selected words from the initial list and had to type them. The students had no idea what words they would be asked to type, yet the words they recalled in the second task tended to be the words later randomly selected for the last task (i.e. the test revealed apparent precognition at least to a statistically significant degree).

Obviously the jury is still out on this controversial, yet fascinating study, but kudos to Bern for devising such an ingenious way of exploring the topic using true scientific methodology in a field that has been notoriously in the fringe. Even if this study isn't the smoking gun on precognition, it's acceptance for publication and peer review in such a reputable journal is nothing short of a ground-breaking achievement

Back To The Future?

Thu Nov 11 20:43:18 GMT 2010 by Graham

It's an oddly worded paragraph, but that's actually not what it means. It's trying to say that the students first wrote down whatever words they were able to recall from the list, and then were given a list of random words that had been on the list and told to type them. The students showed they had a higher instance of recalling the words on the list which they afterwards would end up receiving on the randomly generated list. To a statistically abnormal degree, it's as though their minds knew what words they were going to type in the future before they were given the random list, and so it remembered them more often than the words they wouldn't end up typing.

All comments should respect the New Scientist House Rules. If you think a particular comment breaks these rules then please use the "Report" link in that comment to report it to us.

If you are having a technical problem posting a comment, please contact technical support.

Yeah, go fuck yourself entropy and temporal linearity.

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Robots to read 170-page books in 60 seconds

Posted: 11 Nov 2010 10:17 AM PST

via wired.co.uk I for one... etc. etc. ...

Construction Begins on America's First Commercial Spaceship Factory | Popular Science

Posted: 10 Nov 2010 10:05 PM PST

Construction Begins on America's First Commercial Spaceship Factory


















...

Robots to read 170-page books in 60 seconds

I for one... etc. etc.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Construction Begins on America's First Commercial Spaceship Factory | Popular Science


The Spaceship Company Breaks Ground in Mojave Virgin Galactic

Who says America isn't a manufacturing economy anymore? The country has already dedicated her first commercial spaceport, and yesterday construction kicked off on her first commercial spaceship factory. The nearly 70,000 square foot facility, home of the The Spaceship Company, will build Virgin Galactic’s fleet of White Knights and SpaceShips, the carrier craft and rocket planes (respectively) that are expected to be ferrying passengers to the edge of space sometime late next year.

The Spaceship Company (TSC) is a joint venture owned by British billionaire Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic and Scaled Composites, the aerospace firm founded by legendary engineer Burt Rutan the visionary behind Virgin Galactic’s fleet. TSC is being constructed at the Mojave Air and Space Port and will hopefully be completed by September.

The facility is expected to turn out three White Knight carrier aircraft and five of the smaller SpaceShip rocket planes. TSC has already begun hiring engineers and technicians and will employ as many as 170 people once production begins. How’s that for creating jobs in innovative new industries?

Fuck yeah space travel! One day someone will be sitting in the belly of a spaceship, complaining about how long it takes to get to Mars. And what about that spaceship food? Awful.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

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Delicious chikinz and taters.

Posted: 08 Nov 2010 09:51 PM PST

Sunday, November 07, 2010

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Test Mctestyballs

Posted: 06 Nov 2010 11:27 PM PDT

Test Mctestyballs ...

Saturday, November 06, 2010

Test Mctestyballs

Test Mctestyballs

Totes watching the cartoon Gargoyles. Whoever came up with this show was a genius.

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Ah, I see. Posterous uses the title as the tweet and the body is linked with the URL.

Posted: 05 Nov 2010 08:27 PM PDT

Email Test

Posted: 05 Nov 2010 08:15 PM PDT

Testing out the "post by email" function. ...

Untitled

Posted: 05 Nov 2010 08:11 PM PDT

Gonna use Posterous to post all this new creative stuff I'm going to do. Believe it? ...

Placebo Buttons

Posted: 05 Nov 2010 07:30 PM PDT

Placebo Buttons
Posted in Oddities by Greg Ross on November 4th, 2010

In most elevators installed since the early 1990s, the "close door" button has no effect. Otis Elevator eng ...

John Cleese answers the door

Posted: 05 Nov 2010 07:21 PM PDT

John Cleese answers the door






23 seconds in, you can see trained humans in the background, offering the dog a biscuit if it prete ...

Friday, November 05, 2010

Ah, I see. Posterous uses the title as the tweet and the body is linked with the URL.

Email Test

Testing out the "post by email" function.

Untitled

Gonna use Posterous to post all this new creative stuff I'm going to do. Believe it?

Placebo Buttons

Placebo Buttons

Posted in Oddities by Greg Ross on November 4th, 2010

In most elevators installed since the early 1990s, the “close door” button has no effect. Otis Elevator engineers confirmed the fact to the Wall Street Journal in 2003.

Similarly, many office thermostats are dummies, designed to give workers the illusion of control. “You just get tired of dealing with them and you screw in a cheap thermostat,” said Illinois HVAC specialist Richard Dawson. “Guess what? They quit calling you.”

In 2004 the New York Times reported that more than 2,500 of the 3,250 “walk” buttons in New York intersections do nothing. “The city deactivated most of the pedestrian buttons long ago with the emergence of computer-controlled traffic signals, even as an unwitting public continued to push on.”

(Thanks, Tad.)

-->

27 Responses to 'Placebo Buttons'

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  1. Ricardo said, on November 4th, 2010 at 8:45 pm

    I have long theorized most of this. Now it has been confirmed.

  2. Anon said, on November 4th, 2010 at 8:46 pm

    That’s really, really sad. I had heard about the elevator one, but not the others. I know that extrapolating from rather small events to make a comment about society as a whole is rather irresponsible, but I really think that this is a bad sign for society. Do we really have so little control over our lives that we can be placated by such cheap tricks?

    (Oh, and you might want to add “blinken lights”. Those are the amber-colored lights on computers that blink intermittently. They used to actually show hard drive access, which was still pretty useless, but now not so much. They’re mostly there to convince you that something is happening in your computer even when it doesn’t look like it)

  3. JimR said, on November 4th, 2010 at 9:01 pm

    I can attest to the thermostat one. When I worked for a building controls system company, one of our customers was a small medical center full of doctor’s offices. We had a fully automated building temperature control system that was optimized for the climate. The building’s facilities department received continual complaints from the doctors about the temperature in their offices, so they contracted us to provide individual controls that allowed the doctors to vary the temperature up or down by 5 degrees. We sent a tech out to install the wall units and run the wires up to the control units but due to scheduling we had to delay sending out the programmer to actually activate them.

    After about two months we were able to call the facilities department to schedule the programming and they said “Don’t bother – the doctors are all perfectly happy now!” Just the impression that they had control of their environment was enough to end the complaints.

    Go figure!

  4. Mat said, on November 4th, 2010 at 9:14 pm

    See self-efficacy for more information.

  5. cjemmott said, on November 4th, 2010 at 10:10 pm

    The walk buttons on my walk home (Solana Beach, CA) work. In fact, one stopped working, and I was unable to cross the street because the walk sign does not appear even when the lights cycle unless you press the button.

  6. zeptimius said, on November 4th, 2010 at 10:21 pm

    Confirm on the elevator button, as also reported in the New Yorker in a long feature article about elevators. (Yes, the New Yorker really has long feature articles on things like elevators and yes, I really read those types of articles.)

  7. Ethan C. said, on November 4th, 2010 at 10:22 pm

    Same here, in central Missouri. If you don’t press the button, the walk light doesn’t come on. Not that you can’t just cross the street anyway usually, but still…

  8. Kris said, on November 4th, 2010 at 11:09 pm

    I have enough experience walking around downtown Ogden, Utah to know that some, if not all, of the Walk buttons have a real, observable effect. Some of them have even been replaced with touch-sensitive metal discs with a red light in the middle of them. They beep when touched.

    There’s one intersection at which pushing the Walk button will immediately switch the light from “Don’t Walk” to “Walk” under the right circumstances.

  9. PUBLIUS said, on November 4th, 2010 at 11:20 pm

    This is highly reminiscent of the placebo effect.

    It reminds me mostly of cliffbars. They recently put in caffeine without my notice. Every morning, I eat one for breakfast. No awake effect. Then, one day, I notice it had a label that says caffeine added. Since then, they instantly wake me up upon consumption. I am fully convinced they put in caffeine before, but my not knowing it somehow nullified the effect of it.

  10. PUBLIUS said, on November 4th, 2010 at 11:21 pm

    Sorry for double posting, but just after the first post, I noticed the title blatently said Placebo buttons. Silly me! :P

  11. Bielobog said, on November 5th, 2010 at 12:48 am

    When I was a kid my mom explained to me about the walk buttons not doing anything and some trial and error showed she was right. About five years later we moved states and I was constantly complaining about “broken” walk signs until someone explained to me that some of them do change the light. Also it made me look like an idiot. I blame the engineers

  12. Christina said, on November 5th, 2010 at 12:55 am

    The close door elevator buttons work in Japan–it is quite shocking the first time you see someone go for the button and see an actual immediate effect.

  13. Ben Kudria said, on November 5th, 2010 at 1:11 am

    Anon, I think I’ll have to disagree with you about the computer lights – I’ve hooked some up myself, and they definitely work.

  14. bobculo said, on November 5th, 2010 at 1:39 am

    What if you press with peener?

  15. 6=0 said, on November 5th, 2010 at 1:40 am

    Elevator close door buttons needs a key to operate since it’s there for engineers.

  16. Dan M said, on November 5th, 2010 at 1:47 am

    How about the PC keyboard’s mini-cluster of PrintScreen/SysRq, Scroll Lock and Pause/Break? Granted, PrintScreen still has some use. It and MS Paint remain my preferred method of capturing a screenshot, but I have little idea of the point of keeping the other two buttons, beyond backward compatibility. Being a Windows user, a Break key is redundant . . .

    As for crosswalk buttons, here in Calgary they’re getting to be an endangered breed. Busier areas don’t have any, as the crosswalk cycle is built into the intersection timing, and many other intersections have touch sensors that beep and blink (and change the light, if it’s stale). The plunger buttons that were standard here 20 years ago are quite hard to find

    If I lived someplace where some crosswalk buttons are dummies, I’d find myself a Clapper (remember those?) at a thrift store, and a covert camera. Install the Clapper’s plastic shell over the button, set up the camera covertly, then sit back with a lunch and be entertained for a little while ;)

  17. cabal_interrogator said, on November 5th, 2010 at 5:18 am

    Some walk-push buttons do actually work (down in Sydney anyway) but they generate a “walk” phase when cross-traffic is minimal. The effect of the button during normal daytime pedestrian hours is admittedly negligible.

    Cf. http://www.straightdope.com/columns/read/713/do-push-to-walk-buttons-at-intersections-ever-actually-work

  18. Anon said, on November 5th, 2010 at 7:36 am

    @ Ben Kudria: Oh, they show that something is happening, but the original blinkenlights were rather specific instead of the “something is happening” variety. If the Jargon File is to believed, they were actually used for diagnostics, but computers today go so fast that anything you could potentially diagnose with them would result in a near-constant blur. Today, they’re essentially a highly complicated “this is on” light.

    @ People talking about walk lights actually working: Note that the New York Times article doesn’t say that all of the walk buttons don’t do anything, only that the majority of them don’t.

  19. AnotherAnon said, on November 5th, 2010 at 9:49 am

    At *intersections* – the walk buttons at *intersections* – where the lights cycle continuously anyway.

    Why do you need a close button? Just choose a floor.

    People press such buttons automatically, the Annoying Devil on Balls of Steel (UK)spread some fake poo on a button and still, people pressed it.

  20. Andy said, on November 5th, 2010 at 10:10 am

    Perhaps this is true for recently installed Otis elevators, however since first hearing this ‘fact’ a few years back, I have tested it on many elevators in my travels (USA) and found the ‘fact’ to be generally not true of elevators in current operation. Occasionally I will find an elevator where there is no apparent effect, but it is rare.

  21. Delta said, on November 5th, 2010 at 10:10 am

    Oh, God, reality is crumbling around me.

  22. David said, on November 5th, 2010 at 11:27 am

    I work a Civilian job on an Army base … many of our buildings have non-functioning thermostats, thanks to frequent remodelings down through the years. Its true, they do give an illusion of control, even if we are still uncomfortable.

    Added to that are regulations that forbid us from turning on the heat or air-conditioning until the calendar reaches a certain date. Leave it to the government to think that they can legislate the weather by issuing a memo.

  23. wally said, on November 5th, 2010 at 11:37 am

    On some elevators, pressing the chosen floor button a second time will cause the door to close sooner. Trust me, I’ve timed them.

  24. jason said, on November 5th, 2010 at 12:09 pm

    In my office we have dummy thermostats throughout the halls. They have a slider that goes from “Warmer” to “Cooler”, but even if you turn it all the way up to “Warmer”, the air conditioner blasts away.

  25. casket salesman said, on November 5th, 2010 at 12:16 pm

    and that joke on the office this season now makes that much more sense

  26. Strodtbeck said, on November 5th, 2010 at 4:53 pm

    funny stuff. Gotta give people the illusion of control or mayhem will take over.

  27. Ding said, on November 5th, 2010 at 9:34 pm

    The close elevator button works in Singapore

Another test. Why is this not autoposting to other sites?

John Cleese answers the door

John Cleese answers the door

23 seconds in, you can see trained humans in the background, offering the dog a biscuit if it pretends to be dead.

Update: Following its swift removal from YouTube you can currently view it here. NSFW.

Cheers swan_pr!

posted by arbroath at 8:09 AM

I'm testing out posterous with Google Reader to see what happens.