Hiatus over... well, kind of

Sorry guys, it's been a little while. I'm visiting friends this weekend, so you might have to wait until Monday for another post. I'm feeling like something a little deeper and more meaningful.

... For then, at least. For now, here is a game I've played recently, that you might like to check out....

This is a nice little puzzle game that follows the story of a mysterious hermit through his history and travels. Playing it really piqued my curiosity as a Psychology major. I hope you like it!...

Common Misconceptions

This comic from xkcd gave me an idea for a good post...

I had never known there was such an article on wikipedia-- so, I compiled a list of some of the most interesting misconceptions.

In ancient Rome, Romans did not build rooms called vomitoria in which to purge themselves after a meal.Vomitoria were the entranceways through which crowds entered and exited a stadium. 

There is no evidence that Vikings wore horns on their helmets.

There is no evidence that iron maidens were invented in the Middle Ages or even used for torture, despite being shown so in some media, but instead were pieced together in the 18th century from several artifacts found in museums in order to create spectacular objects intended for (commercial) exhibition.

Christopher Columbus's efforts to obtain support for his voyages were not hampered by a European belief in a flat Earth. Sailors and navigators of the time knew that the Earth was spherical, but (correctly) disagreed with Columbus' estimate of the distance to India, which was approximately 1⁄6th of the actual distance. If the Americas did not exist, and had Columbus continued to India, he would have run out of supplies before reaching it at the rate he was traveling. Without the ability to determine longitude at sea, he could not have corrected his error. This problem remained unsolved until the 18th century, when the lunar distance method emerged in parallel with efforts by inventor John Harrison to create the first marine chronometers. The intellectual class had known that the Earth was spherical since the works of the Greek philosophers Plato and Aristotle. Eratosthenes made a very good estimate of the Earth's diameter in the third century BC.

Contrary to the popular image of the Pilgrim Fathers, the early settlers of the Plymouth Colony in present-day Plymouth, Massachusetts, did not dress in black, wear buckles, or wear black steeple hats. According to Plimoth Plantation historian James W. Baker, this image was formed in the 19th century when buckles were a kind of emblem of quaintness. This is also the reason illustrators gave Santa Claus buckles. But not the meaning behind the clothing store Buckle, in which it is a symbol for rhinestones and MMA.

Marie Antoinette did not actually use the phrase "let them eat cake" when she heard that the French peasantry was starving due to a dearth of bread. The phrase was first published in Rousseau's Confessions when Marie was only 10 years old and most scholars believe that Rousseau coined it himself, or that it was said by Maria-Theresa, the wife of Louis XIV. Even Rousseau (or Maria-Theresa) did not use the exact words but actually "Qu'ils mangent de la brioche" ("Let them eat brioche [a rich type of bread]"). Marie Antoinette was a very unpopular ruler and many people therefore attribute the phrase "let them eat cake" to her, in keeping with her reputation as being hard-hearted and disconnected from her subjects. I wonder if they discuss this in the recent movie. 

George Washington did not have wooden teeth. According to a study of Washington's four known dentures by a forensic anthropologist from the University of Pittsburgh (in collaboration with the National Museum of Dentistry, itself associated with the Smithsonian Museum), the dentures were made of gold, hippopotamus ivory, lead, and human and animal teeth (including horse and donkey teeth). Just as awesome in my opinion.

It is a common misconception that the signing of the Declaration of Independence occurred on July 4, 1776. The final language of the document was approved by the Second Continental Congress on that date, it was printed and distributed on July 4 and 5, but the actual signing occurred on August 2, 1776.

Napoleon Bonaparte (pictured) was not particularly short, and did not have a Napoleon complex. After his death in 1821, the French emperor’s height was recorded as 5 feet 2 inches in French feet. This corresponds to 5 feet 6.5 inches in modern international feet, or 1.686 metres. There are competing explanations for why he was nicknamed le Petit Caporal (The Little Corporal), but few modern scholars believe it referred to his physical stature. Another explanation is that Napoleon was often seen with his Imperial Guard, which contributed to the perception of him being short because the Imperial Guards were above average height. Still doesn't sound quite so tall to me, though I guess average height has increased since then.

John F. Kennedy's words "Ich bin ein Berliner" are standard German for "I am a Berliner".An urban legend has it that due to his use of the indefinite article ein, Berliner is translated as jam doughnut, and that the population of Berlin was amused by the supposed mistake. The word Berliner is not commonly used in Berlin to refer to the Berliner Pfannkuchen; they are simply called Pfannkuchen. In other parts of Germany, though, the term "Berliner" actually also is used for the product in question, so there is a grain of truth in the myth, but of course no Berliner assumed a mistake in the quote.

Entrapment law in the United States does not require police officers to identify themselves as police in the case of a sting or other undercover work. The law is specifically concerned with enticing people to commit crimes they would not have considered in the normal course of events. So undercover hooker police CAN exist...

Some cooks believe that food items cooked with wine or liquor will be non-alcoholic, because alcohol's low boiling point causes it to evaporate quickly when heated. However, a study found that much of the alcohol remains: 25% after 1 hour of baking or simmering, and 10% after 2 hours. Which is why everyone in Wisconsin loves beer cheese soup.

Sushi does not mean "raw fish", and not all sushi includes raw fish.The name sushi refers to the vinegared rice used in it. Sushi is made with sumeshi, rice which has been gently folded with rice vinegar, salt, and sugar dressing. The rice is traditionally topped by raw fish, cooked seafood, fish roe, egg, and/or vegetables such as cucumber, daikon radish, and avocado. The related Japanese term, sashimi, is closer in definition to "raw fish", but still not quite accurate: Sashimi can also refer to any uncooked meat or vegetable, and usually refers more to the dish's presentation than to its ingredients. The dish consisted of sushi rice and other fillings wrapped in seaweed is called makizushi, and includes both "long rolls" and "hand rolls".

Microwave ovens do not cook food from the inside out. Microwave radiation penetrates food and causes direct heating only a short distance from the surface. This distance is called the skin depth. As an example, lean muscle tissue (meat), has a skin depth of only about 1 cm at microwave oven frequencies.

Placing metal inside a microwave oven does not damage the oven's electronics. There are, however, other safety-related issues: Electrical arcing may occur on pieces of metal not designed for use in a microwave oven, and metal objects may become hot enough to damage food, skin, or the interior of the microwave oven. Metallic objects that are designed for microwave use can be used in a microwave with no danger; examples include the metalized surfaces used in browning sleeves and pizza-cooking platforms. Look up some videos of CDs in microwaves; that gets intense.

Swallowed chewing gum does not take seven years to digest. In fact, chewing gum is mostly indigestible, but passes through the digestive system at the same rate as other matter.

It is commonly claimed that the Great Wall of China is the only man-made object visible from the Moon. This is false. None of the Apollo astronauts reported seeing any specific man-made object from the Moon, and even earth-orbiting astronauts can barely see it, but city lights are easily visible on the night side of Earth from orbit. The misconception is believed to have been popularized by Richard Halliburton decades before the first moon landing. Shuttle astronaut Jay Apt has been quoted as saying "…the Great Wall is almost invisible from only 180 miles up."

Black holes, unlike their common image, do not act as "cosmic vacuum cleaners" any more than other stars.The collapse of a star into a black hole is an explosive process, which means, according to Mass–energy equivalence, that the resulting black hole would be of lower mass than its parent object, and actually have a weaker gravitational pull. The source of the confusion comes from the fact that a black hole exists in a space much smaller but orders of magnitude more dense than a star, causing its gravitational pull to be much stronger closer to its surface. But, as an example, were the Sun to be replaced by a black hole of the same mass, the orbits of all the planets surrounding it would be unaffected. This one blew my mind a bit.

The claim that a duck's quack does not echo is false, although the echo may be difficult to hear for humans under some circumstances.

The notion that goldfish have a memory of only three seconds is false.

Lemmings do not engage in mass suicidal dives off cliffs when migrating. They will, however, occasionally, and unintentionally fall off cliffs when venturing into unknown territory, with no knowledge of the boundaries of the environment. The misconception is due largely to the Disney film White Wilderness, which shot many of the migration scenes (also staged by using multiple shots of different groups of lemmings) on a large, snow-covered turntable in a studio. Photographers later pushed the lemmings off a cliff. The misconception itself is much older, dating back to at least the late nineteenth century.

Bats are not blind. While most bat species do use echolocation to augment their vision, all bat species have eyes and are capable of sight.  Maybe I should do a post on echolocation sometime. I learned some in-depth neuro in echolocation and it's intensely awesome.

It's a common myth that an earthworm becomes two worms when cut in half. However, only a limited number of earthworm species are capable of anterior regeneration. When most earthworms are bisected, only the front half of the worm (where the mouth is located) can survive, while the other half dies. Also, species of the planaria family of flatworms actuallydo become two new planaria when bisected or split down the middle.

According to urban myth, the daddy longlegs spider (Pholcus phalangioides) is the most venomous spider in the world, but the shape of their mandibles leaves them unable to bite humans, rendering them harmless to our species. In reality, they can indeed pierce human skin, though the tiny amount of venom they carry causes only a mild burning sensation for a few seconds. In addition, there is also confusion regarding the use of the name daddy longlegs, because harvestmen (order Opiliones, which are not spiders) and crane flies (which are insects) are also known as daddy longlegs, and share (also incorrectly) the myth of being venomous. I just heard this a year ago and... did anyone ever really believe this?

Ostriches do not bury their heads in the sand. This tale originates from the fact that the male ostrich will dig a large hole (up to 6 to 8 feet wide and 2 to 3 feet deep) in the sand for the eggs. Predators cannot see the eggs across the countryside which gives the nest some measure of protection. The female and male take turns sitting on the eggs and, because of the indention in the ground, usually just blend into the horizon. All birds turn their eggs (with their beak) several times a day during the incubation period. From a distance it may appear as though the bird has its head in the sand.

Sharks can actually suffer from cancer. The myth that sharks do not get cancer was spread by the 1992 book Sharks Don't Get Cancer by I. William Lane and used to sell extracts of shark cartilage as cancer prevention treatments. Reports of carcinomas in sharks exist, and current data do not allow any speculation about the incidence of tumors in sharks. It makes me sad that this asshole made money off such a ridiculous idea.

It is not harmful to baby birds to pick them up and return them to their nests, despite the common belief that doing so will cause the mother to reject it.

Bulls are not enraged by the color red, used in capes by professional matadors. Cattle are color-blind. It is not the color of the cape that angers the bull, but rather the movement of the fabric that irritates the bull and incites it to charge.

The word theory in the theory of evolution does not imply doubt from mainstream science regarding its validity; the concepts of theory andhypothesis have specific meanings in a scientific context. While theory in colloquial usage may denote a hunch or conjecture, a scientific theory is a set of principles that explains observable phenomena in natural terms.Evolution is a theory in the same sense as germ theory, gravitation, or plate tectonics. If you have ever used the "it's just a theory" argument against an evolutionist, shame on you.

Evolution does not claim humans evolved from monkeys, chimpanzees or any other modern-day primates. Instead, humans and monkeys share a common ancestor that lived about 40 million years ago. This common ancestor diverged into separate lineages, one evolving into so-called New World monkeys and the other into Old World monkeys and apes. Humans are included in the Hominidae family, which also includes chimpanzees, gorillas, and orangutans. Similarly, the common ancestor of humans and chimpanzees, which lived between 5 and 8 million years ago, evolved into two lineages, one eventually becoming modern humans and the two extant species of chimpanzee.

Evolution is not a progression from inferior to superior organisms, and it also does not necessarily result in an increase in complexity.

Evolution does not violate the Second Law of Thermodynamics. A common argument against evolution is that entropy, according to the Second Law of Thermodynamics, increases over time, and thus evolution could not produce increased complexity. However, the law only applies to closed systems, which the Earth is not as it absorbs and radiates the Sun's energy.

Glass is not a high-viscosity liquid at room temperature: it is an amorphous solid, although it does have some chemical properties normally associated with liquids. Panes of stained glass windows often have thicker glass at the bottom than at the top, and this has been cited as an example of the slow flow of glass over centuries. However, this unevenness is due to the window manufacturing processes used in earlier eras, which produced glass panes that were unevenly thick at the time of their installation. Normally the thick end of glass would be installed at the bottom of the frame, but it is also common to find old windows where the thicker end has been installed to the sides or the top. In fact, the lead frames of the windows are less viscous than the panes, and if glass was indeed a slow moving liquid, the panes would warp at a higher degree.

I think that's enough for one post-- I'll post the rest later. If you want to check out the list for yourself, here is the link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Common_misconceptions.

Lies, Damned Lies, and Medical Science

I cam across a really interesting article last night, which raises the concern of how prominent ethical issues are in medicine, even in modern society.

"In 2001, rumors were circulating in Greek hospitals that surgery residents, eager to rack up scalpel time, were falsely diagnosing hapless Albanian immigrants with appendicitis. At the University of Ioannina medical school’s teaching hospital, a newly minted doctor named Athina Tatsioni was discussing the rumors with colleagues when a professor who had overheard asked her if she’d like to try to prove whether they were true—he seemed to be almost daring her. She accepted the challenge and, with the professor’s and other colleagues’ help, eventually produced a formal study showing that, for whatever reason, the appendices removed from patients with Albanian names in six Greek hospitals were more than three times as likely to be perfectly healthy as those removed from patients with Greek names. “It was hard to find a journal willing to publish it, but we did,” recalls Tatsioni. “I also discovered that I really liked research.”
We all know that any healthcare conclusion sounds more convincing if there is data behind it; "9 out of 10 dentists recommend" or "Bayer reduces risk of heart attack by 50%"... But how legitimate are numbers like this? Primary biochemical research, like the articles slowly churned out of universities, tend to be accurate or at least modest and trustworthy, but this is because this research is generally only for the sake of knowledge. Drug companies can be a little different, because data collection just isn't quite held to the same standards as it is when there's no significant profit to be gained. This article highlights some of the inadequacies prevalent in the modern research world and how troubling they can be.

You can find the article here.

My Favorite Wallpapers

Here are some of the wallpapers I've been using through the years-- don't be afraid to copy me and take one!
(Yeah, half of them are NIN wallpapers, go ahead and call me a fanboy but I really do like the way they look)

I've also been following another blog, which has a pretty huge collection of nice wallpapers. If mine aren't good enough for you, check his blog out:

Wallpapering Everything

Nine Inch Nails... Video Anthology

Happy New Year err'body... I hope you're all working on your resolutions, because I'm not. At least so far.

Once again, I don't really have the time to invest in a full post, so I just thought I'd post some more videos. This time, instead of a random video I like, I'll post a few of my idol: Trent Reznor.

If you don't like his videos, feel free to tell him. I'm sure he'd like to hear why.

First, let me say something: his videos tend to be a little unconventional. At least, his best ones do, in my opinion. Let's start off with early Trent.

Look at this. Look back at the first picture. Then look at this again.

Trent Reznor started off as a musician in the strange band Exotic Birds. After he left, he began to produce music that I'm a bit more fond of (Thank God). 

Enter "Sin", one of NIN's earliest and most controversial videos. The full video can't be found easily; rather, the incomplete version is the only one publicly available. It is very much NSFW, so I won't embed it here; but if you search for it, it isn't hard to find.
If you didn't watch that one, this characterizes the transition pretty well too: NIN's "Wish", from the album Broken. I like the song quite a bit, though the video looks like a BDSM party. This video is more SFW but I still wouldn't draw attention to yourself watching it if you're sitting next to your boss/grandma/whatever.

Next album, The Downward Spiral. As TR himself said:
"The idea behind the album is of someone who sheds everything around them to a potential nothingness, but through career, religion, relationship, belief and so on. It's less muscle-flexing, though when I started it I didn't know what I wanted it to sound like. I knew I didn't want to be a full metal album, so I tried to address the issue of restraint. It was a long process."
Here's the live video of "Hurt" one of the songs most responsible for NIN's respect...

Another song from the album, "Closer" became infamously popular at the time, due it's being pretty fucked up. I'd say the video is probably NSFW, since there's a naked lady that appears quite a few times. A great song, though some people take it to represent NIN's entire repertoire much more than they should.

One more video; live, kind of: "March of the Pigs". 

He MUST be on something. Or somethings.

Next comes The Fragile, my personal favorite and also the largest of NIN's albums. TR stated:
"The Fragile was an album based a lot in fear, because I was afraid as fuck about what was happening to me. That's why there aren't a lot of lyrics on that record. I couldn't fucking think. An unimaginable amount of effort went into that record in a very unfocused way."
The album doesn't have very many music videos... The video for "We're In This Together" can be found here (embedding was disabled). In addition we have "Into the Void" here... the video is essentially just a long extreme closeup of Trent, but the song is badass so I'll include it anyway:

One of the songs even went onto the soundtrack of a movie you may have heard of:

After a six year hiatus, NIN finally came out with  With_Teeth. The album lacked some of the hard, angry sound that NIN fans had appreciated, so a lot of fans I know were somewhat disappointed; I would say this album marked a change in TR's artistic direction, for sure. The video for my favorite song from the album, "Only":

Not much later, NIN released Year Zero, a concept album focused on a predicted dystopic society plagued by government and religious domination. The album was promoted through a conspiracy-theory-y string of websites, guiding the user through a futuristic mystery that slowly (and not without difficulty) painted the full picture to the user. The wikipedia page on the deal can be found here, and I encourage you to look through some of the sites if you're into that kind of thing... I found it pretty fun at the time, since everything was new and connected with little more than rumors, but it might not have the same appeal now.
The video for "Survivalism":

Later, NIN released the albums Ghosts and The Slip... these albums weren't received too well, by the public or by me. Ghosts was basically an inexpensive, quickly made set of background music... but nothing that contained any real sort of flair or emotion. The Slip was okay, but just seemed tired and uninteresting for the most part. I found a video made for the song "Lights in the Sky", my favorite song from the album; the video is not official, but works nicely with the song anyway, and everybody likes glaciers.

Oh, also a fan-made video for "Discipline" that recognized by NIN and even posted on their website for a while... (lol)

So, there you have it. If you liked what you saw, then you should check out some more of NIN's work, and some of the other videos out there. NIN had a sound full of true emotions and experience, things rare in a business full of charlatans and posers tooling around, pretending to be artists. The music has had a profound effect on my life. I hope you enjoyed the post.

In closing, another little video I found, summarizing TR's career:


I fixed all the videos... You can probably tell, I put the embed codes in "compose" rather than the HTML format, so my bad. I know from now on to check my shit before I publish! I hope you guys can enjoy the videos now.

I should probably also add that the last video doesn't reflect my opinion of NIN or TR at all... I just thought it was pretty funny. And to be honest, I think the song is kind of catchy...
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