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Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Yet Another Link Dump
Interesting stuff seen on the web recently:
  • My Neighbor Robocop - For fans of Robocop and Anime.
  • Good Copy Bad Copy - Interesting documentary available for free online. It's about copyright and remixing and mashups and whatnot. It's got some interesting info in it, but it kinda trails off into different areas as it proceeds... but those areas are interesting too. The Brazilian mashup scene seems to be quite interesting in its own right, but that's probably a different documentary than what this one is trying to focus on...
  • Death Metal Rooster - Not much to say here, it's a Death Metal Rooster. Behold its glory.
  • Big Bucks: The Press Your Luck Scandal - A few years ago, I posted about this story of the guy who figured out that the seemingly random blinking lights on the Press Your Luck gameshow were actually not so random. He ended up winning over $110,000. This 11 part documentary goes into detail on exactly how he did it, and is a fascinating watch.
  • I don't know how to describe this without giving the joke away, but I want to go on a mission to institute something like this in my work cafeteria.
  • In Defense of the Fistfight - "It was Jerry's bad luck that I had resolved to start punching people again."
  • Disney's James Cameron's Pocahontas Avatar - I've seen Avatar twice. The first time, in a regular 3D theater, I found myself enjoying it despite a lackluster story. The second time, in IMAX 3D, I found myself much less willing to forgive the story. I don't want to make this post a review of Avatar, but I think this is a movie that will depreciate over time, especially once we get used to the effects. A lot of critics will be eating crow over this, I think. Interestingly, critics who waited a while before posting their thoughts on the film seem to have a more considered reaction to the film. Dennis Cozzalio's review is one of the best I've seen, and he addresses this subject in his post too. To me, it's not that the film is derivative (so was The Matrix, and I loved that) and it's not that I don't necessarily agree with all the politics. It's just that it's all executed so poorly. Gah. I should write a proper review at some point, but I fear I won't get around to it.
  • Is it ethical to eat plants? - Whenever I talk to someone about vegetarianism, I would always make a half-hearted joke about how plants are alive too and that the only real difference is that they're rooted in place and unable to even attempt escape. Well, it turns out that there is a rather nuanced argument to be made that if you don't eat meat on ethical grounds, you also need to account for the ethics of eating plants. Plants act in a surprising way to external threats, often engaging in activities you would normally only ascribe to more intelligent animals:
    Plants can’t run away from a threat but they can stand their ground. “They are very good at avoiding getting eaten,” said Linda Walling of the University of California, Riverside. “It’s an unusual situation where insects can overcome those defenses.” At the smallest nip to its leaves, specialized cells on the plant’s surface release chemicals to irritate the predator or sticky goo to entrap it. Genes in the plant’s DNA are activated to wage systemwide chemical warfare, the plant’s version of an immune response. We need terpenes, alkaloids, phenolics — let’s move.

    ... Just because we humans can’t hear them doesn’t mean plants don’t howl. Some of the compounds that plants generate in response to insect mastication — their feedback, you might say — are volatile chemicals that serve as cries for help. Such airborne alarm calls have been shown to attract both large predatory insects like dragon flies, which delight in caterpillar meat, and tiny parasitic insects, which can infect a caterpillar and destroy it from within.
    It's an interesting article. (via Schneier and Collision Detection too)
That's all for now. Stay tuned for the start of Kaedrin Movie Awards season...
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This post is part of the Kaedrin Weblog. It's been categorized under Link Dump and was originally published in January 2010.

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