30 March 2010

Cool idea: roll-up computer

Serious post last week, so how about something lighter this week?
Came across this very cool idea - the roll up computer. [video]

Flexable screen rolls-up around a core. The core is battery, USB hub, speeakers etc... The screen can either be regular laptop or tablet. Very cool, fun design. Now the big question is whether it ever moves past hte concept stage....?

Music: Massive Attack
Went and saw them live last Thursday - very cool concert :)
reading: 'Blood Sins' by Kay Hooper
The second in a linked suspence series (stand alone but linked), must go back a read the first book.

22 March 2010

How far would you go?

Almost 50 years ago at Yale University social psychologist Stanley Milgram conducted a series of experiments. His controversial experiments, now known as the Milgram experiments, looked at the relationship between obedience and authority. He wrote The Perils of Obedience as a result of those experiments.

The experiments looked at whether people were willing to inflict pain (or even death) on another person if instructed to do so by a person in authority. Around 65% were willing to inflict 450 volts, even when they could hear the person receiving the electric shocks screaming (or see, the % went down only slightly if they could also see the victim).

I hoped we had moved past that level of blind obedience, that we were more willing to think for ourselves. Turns out I may have been overly optimistic.

[see BBC] A recent French documentary featured people (who believed they were on a game show) administering what they were told were near lethal electric shocks to rival contestants. The Game of Death has all the trappings of a traditional TV quiz show, with a roaring crowd chanting "punishment" and a glamorous hostess urging the players on.

82% of participants in the "Game of Death" agreed to pull the lever.


Christophe Nick, the maker of the documentary, said they were "amazed" that so many participants obeyed the sadistic orders of the game show presenter. Mr Nick says that his experiment shows that the TV element further increases people's willingness to obey. "With Milgram, 62% of people obeyed despicable orders. In the setting of television, it's 80%," he told Reuters.

[see Telegraph] Given that the French programme essentially replicates work done years ago, why has it created headlines around the world? Because, in many ways, this latest incarnation offers a starker view of human nature than any of its predecessors.

Milgram’s subjects were alone with a disinterested professor as they wrestled with their consciences, and believed that they were unobserved. But in Le Jeu de la Mort, the contestants were undeterred by the knowledge that millions would witness their brutality. And an enthusiastic audience, as ignorant as the contestants that it was all a spoof, roared "Punish! Punish!" as the electric shocks intensified.

If they’d been wearing togas, you could have imagined them enjoying a few Christians torn apart by lions. The French experiment suggests not only that most of us might have obeyed Nazi Gauleiters, but that 2,000 years of civilisation can fall away in an instant.

Significantly, one player, whose Jewish grandparents had been persecuted by the Nazis, went along with the torture. She said afterwards: “Since I was a little girl, I have always asked myself why [the Nazis] did it. How could they obey such orders? And there I was, obeying them myself.”

What Le Jeu de la Mort shares with Milgram is the central idea that most people are quick to shuffle off personal responsibility, casting aside the humane responses that a lifetime of living in a modern democracy has nurtured in all of us.

Were we ever to find ourselves living under a totalitarian regime, place no faith in the mercy of your fellow citizens. Indeed, by the law of averages, place little faith in yourself.

16 March 2010

Tacky covers

Tacky covers. We've all seen them, and we've all winced.

Sarah Johnson put together a little collection that she culled from her own bookshelves. She's inspired me; I'm going to have to wade through my own shevles in the near future and find some lovely tacky examples therein, (and given the amount of fantasy I read there should be ample fodder).

Here are a few of Sarah's choices from her collection of historical novel art:

Oh, the font, people, the font.
I love the Times quote "Filled with colorful historical material."
Okay... well, that tells me a lot.

The "Naked Sword" (oo-er)
A lusty novel of the crusades. Subtely was not in the dictionary here.

The guy's face, could he be any creepier?
I'm not surprised she won't look at him.
"Torture and brutailty in a primitive land" - they have me conviced, just the cover is torture

Okay, I don't think I need to say anything - what could I say that they haven't already?

On a different (yet similar) note, follow the link to see cover design in action. Always wonder how the did it? Now you can find out.
Music: 'Plastic Beach' new Gorillaz album
Reading: 'Born of Ice' by Sherrilyn Kenyon
These are reissues (and rewrites) of older books. I'd love to get my hands on the older versions - just to compare

09 March 2010

Posting over at the Black Roses of the Wild Rose Press, come on over and poke your nose in.

I had fun reading some of hte lists over on Cracked.com last week so I thought I'd share a few more - a list of my own as it were:

1) 7 Real world heists that put "Ocean's 11' to shame

2) 12 'Sexy' Ads That Will Give You Nightmares

3) 5 Gaping Plot Holes Hollywood Knows You Won't Notice

4) 5 Myths That People Don't Realize Are Admitted Hoaxes

5) The 13 Most Unintentionally Disturbing Children's Toys

Thought I'd better stop at 5 - have fun with them :)

Music: Chemical Brothers
Reading: 'Minx' by Julia Quinn

02 March 2010

news highlights

I was trying to think of something to write this week, and decided to share with you a few of the news articles that caught my attention as I wandered the web:

1) Physicists have applied the same laser techniques commonly used for tattoo removal to clean several famous works of art, including wall paintings.

2) Heard of microscopes? Well, open the door and welcome in the micro-ear. Scientists could soon be eavesdroping on tiny events and learning more than the eye can see. For example, it may allow researchers to listen to how a drug disrupts micro-organisms, in the same way as a mechanic might listen to a car's engine to find a fault.

3) Sometimes fashoin is downright scary. Some odd pictures here including some prototype shoes.

4) Code organ turns webpages into music. What's it for? No one knows, but it sounds like fun.

5) Physicist hunts for the meaning of time. Sean Carroll is a theoretical physicist who focuses on theories of cosmology, field theory and gravitation by studying the evolution of the universe.

6) 6 things your body does everyday - that could destroy you

Music: Tiki Taane
Reading: 'Fired Up' by Jayne Ann Krentz