Hi-tech gadgets in steampunk guise

The Sydney Morning Herald reports on a growing fad to disguise modern technology behind older facades. This has been a great year for the next new electronic thing. The iPad, new iPhone, the Nexus S, HTC Evo and other Android phones, the Kindle 3 and Microsoft’s Kinect caught the eye of consumers. But some people prefer their next new thing to look like an old thing. . . . An example of the phenomena is a manual typewriter refashioned as a computer keyboard. Jack Zylkin of Philadelphia made one as a novel way for people to sign in when visiting

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A ‘violent gene’ in some Finnish men?

LiveScience reports that a ‘violent gene’ has been discovered . . . but there’s a twist to the tale. The mutation, which is found only in Finnish populations, shows up three times more often in violent criminal offenders than in psychologically healthy Finns, the study found. However, the researchers caution that the mutation itself does not cause impulsivity, but may play a role along with factors like gender, alcohol consumption and stress. “We’ve known that impulsivity is strongly influenced genetically, but here’s a severe genetic variant that does contribute to it,” study author David Goldman, a geneticist at the National

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A forgotten Civil War message comes to light

The Daily Mail reports: A glass vial from the Civil War has been opened, revealing a coded message to the desperate Confederate commander in Vicksburg on the day the Mississippi city fell to Union forces 147 years ago. . . . The encrypted, six-line message was dated July 4, 1863, the date of Pemberton’s surrender to Union forces led by Ulysses S. Grant, ending the Siege of Vicksburg in what historians say was a turning point midway into the Civil War. The message is from a Confederate commander on the west side of the Mississippi River across from Pemberton. ‘He’s

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The globular worming alarmists are at it again . . .

I noted (with some cynicism) an article in the Independent last week. Scientists have established a link between the cold, snowy winters in Britain and melting sea ice in the Arctic and have warned that long periods of freezing weather are likely to become more frequent in years to come. An analysis of the ice-free regions of the Arctic Ocean has found that the higher temperatures there caused by global warming, which have melted the sea ice in the summer months, have paradoxically increased the chances of colder winters in Britain and the rest of northern Europe. . . .

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Christmas gifts for car guys

If there’s a car enthusiast in your life, first of all, my sincere sympathies! Having said that, you might have wondered what to buy them for Christmas, or what to get them now after your initial selections proved less than successful. Fear not – the boys from Top Gear have come to the rescue! Peter

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Does Jesus appear in food, and if so, why?

I’ve written before about the face of Jesus being ‘identified’ in food or other objects. It never ceases to amaze me how often others seem to find him portrayed in something edible. Here are a couple of examples, courtesy of the Village Voice: Jesus in a burnt frying pan Jesus on a banana (does this really have religious a-peel?) There’s more at the link, including explanations of the pictures above. Entertaining reading. There’s even a book on the subject! The Savior has also been identified in a popular snack food. Death & Taxes examined the question more closely in a

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A Christmas display that’s visible from space!

Long-term readers may remember that about two years ago, I wrote about Peter Terren, an Australian doctor who experiments in his free time (and his home) with some truly outrageous electrical contraptions and voltages. For those who haven’t heard about him, here’s an Australian TV news report describing some of his earlier exploits. The Sydney Morning Herald reports that he had a (very) bright idea to celebrate this Christmas. Terren’s Christmas projects are some of his favourites – last year he created a nine-metre high Christmas tree using lightning-like sparks from a tesla coil and long-exposure photography; this year he’s

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Christmas in song

In honor of the season, here’s Thomas Tallis’ Spem In Alium from the 16th century, performed by the King’s Singers. The background to the piece, and its lyrics, may be found here. A blessed, holy and happy Christmas to you all. Peter

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