Betsy Devine: Funny ha-ha and/or funny peculiar

Making trouble today for a better tomorrow…

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Entries from July 2008

Baby delivered this morning by UPS!

July 30th, 2008 · 1 Comment

Baby delivered this morning by UPS

Originally uploaded by betsythedevine

On our doorstep before 8 a.m. this morning — Frank’s brand new book, The Lightness of Being!

I decided that our family cradle, now repurposed to stuffed toy storage, would be an excellent place to take this newborn’s photo.

A thoroughly modern baby, this book even has its own website, “, and its own Flash animation there. Some early reviewers call it lively and cheeky — others describe it as masterful and deep. Eh — it’s a particle, it’s a wave — it’s quite a book.

And what a great way for new babies to get delivered!

Tags: Blog to Book · Frank Wilczek · funny · Science · Wide wonderful world

Poppygon, Hollygon, and Vanilla Beer Group already gone!

July 12th, 2008 · Comments Off on Poppygon, Hollygon, and Vanilla Beer Group already gone!

Imitation of dot matrix printout from MacPaint
Nothing says geek love quite as tenderly as the virtual gift of a unique, symmetrical object in hyperspace. (Although maybe the d12 Handbag of Holding comes pretty close.)

Hyperspace has an infinite number of symmetries, but Oxford mathematician Marcus du Sautoy has already assigned such choice names as “Hollygon,” “Poppygon,” and “The Vanilla Beer Group.” So do not delay or the name you want may be taken!! Your donation goes to help children in Guatemala through Common Hope.

Thanks to Tingilinde for the link! The image above, btw, has nothing to do with hyperspace and everything to do with nostalgia for the imperfect dot-matrix symmetries of MacPaint.

Tags: funny · geeky

Subwoofer physics, gross and/or angelic shapes

July 12th, 2008 · Comments Off on Subwoofer physics, gross and/or angelic shapes

Our kitchen has been the scene of many a vinegar-powered volcano, but here via Boing Boing is something even more wet, wild, and bewildering.

Cornstarch mixed with water has very spooky properties. It is a suspension that seems to transition back and forth between liquid and solid, depending on kinds of forces applied to it. If you try this at home, do not, do not, do NOT pour the mess down a sink or toilet once you have finished playing. The cornstarch will in time settle out of the liquid water, becoming a solid and very expensive mass in the pipes for your plumber to deal with.

Tags: Science · Wide wonderful world

Dohh! Sweden gets new iPhone 8 hours before US

July 11th, 2008 · 3 Comments

Consummation devoutly to be wished

Originally uploaded by wellohorld

This is soooo not fair!!

Bad enough that summertime Sweden gets way more daylight hours than we do, or that its population is loaded with Legolas-lookalikes — and now I discover that new iPhones just went on sale there three hours ago, at Swedish midnight, (Boston 6 p.m.)

Sadly, we moved back to the USA six months too soon.

Tags: Sweden · Wide wonderful world

Rubik’s cubic cure for octopus stress

July 7th, 2008 · Comments Off on Rubik’s cubic cure for octopus stress

Octopus with Rubik\'s cube
“Marine experts have given 25 octopuses a Rubik’s Cube each in a study aimed at easing their stress levels in captivity,” says UK’s revered science journal the Daily Mail.

I never found my stress reduced by a Rubik’s cube, but then again I am no octopus. Octopi are Einsteins and Houdinis of Invertebrata. But the goal here is not to keep their giant nerve fibers tuned up — it is to find out if they are “octidextrous” or tend to favor one tentacle over the others. This research is crowdsourced, with aquarium visitors keeping track of which (labeled) tentacle gets used for which objects.

So how does this relate to octopus stress? The plan is to serve them octopus food to the favored side, assuming they have one. Interesting and maybe related fact: although most of us are right-handed, formal dinners feature food served to us from the left. Maybe that’s one reason those can be so darn stressful?

Tags: funny · geeky · Science

Help! My mom turned into a Night Elf Druid!

July 6th, 2008 · 1 Comment

Raiding SSC

Originally uploaded by mf_cailloux

“Dads visiting pornographic websites” were the most common complaint, but more than 100 Swedish children last year asked for help in dealing with Mom or Dad’s internet habits.

One 13-year old girl wrote:

“I know it sounds ridiculous but my mother has started playing the computer game WoW, World of Warcraft … This summer she has been sitting up all day and all night and she forgets what’s important to me. And when she’s not at the computer she’s like a lost soul. She just looks straight ahead and says nothing. I’m not doing so well.”

Kids aren’t well-equipped to compete for Mom and Dad’s monetizable eyeballs. The kingdom of Bhutan was recently shocked to discover that more than 35% of parents would rather watch TV than talk to their children. What do you suppose that percent is in the US? Are more than 65% of US parents passing up Warcraft and chat rooms and prime time TV to spend meaningful family evenings with Alex and Zoe?

Could some level 70 Paladin deal with this, please?

Tags: Editorial · Sweden · Wide wonderful world