Thursday, September 30, 2010

Las Vegas hotel's curved, reflective surface focuses sunlight into "death ray"


This is just awesome (except for the, you know, pain and injuries):
Guests at a new hotel in Las Vegas have complained of receiving severe burns from a 'death ray' of sunlight caused by the unique design of the building.

Due to the concave shape of the Vdara hotel, the strong Nevada sun reflects off its all-glass front and directly onto sections of the swimming pool area below.

The result has left some guests with burns from the powerful rays and even plastic bags have been recorded as melting in the heat.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Interesting as shit

xkcd is fucking awesome:

Dude, this is just fucking sick

This is our government, inflicting Orwellian nightmare shit on our prisoners:
Even the physical design of the Guantánamo courtroom is shaped by the desire to conceal our own abuses. A soundproof glass wall separates the onlookers from the trial participants, so that the only way an observer can hear what is going on is through headphones with a forty-second delay. The reason, according to Denny LeBoeuf, an ACLU lawyer advising on the defense of several detainees, is “the Rule: detainees are forbidden from speaking about their torture.”
Remarkably, the US government has declared “classified” anything that the detainees say about their torture, and has required the lawyers, as a condition of access to their clients, to keep secret all details of their clients’ treatment at the hands of their interrogators. But of course, the US cannot compel the detainees themselves not to speak of the unspeakable. The only way it can keep them from telling their stories is by keeping them detained, behind bars, behind glass, silenced.
Obama's record in this area is every bit as bad as Bush's. Although I much prefer Obama on many issues, I do have to come to the conclusion that by covering up the crimes of the previous administration, Obama is himself likely a war criminal and should be sent to jail.

But how do we know she'll be loyal to humanity?

Apparently, the UN has appointed someone to be humanity's contact person for any alien intelligences encountered:
The United Nations was set today to appoint an obscure Malaysian astrophysicist to act as Earth’s first contact for any aliens that may come visiting.

Mazlan Othman, the head of the UN's little-known Office for Outer Space Affairs (Unoosa), is to describe her potential new role next week at a scientific conference at the Royal Society’s Kavli conference centre in Buckinghamshire.
(HT: Marion)

I'd totally love that job, but the risk of me betraying my species would be too great.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Cyberwarfare escalates to a new level

The "Stuxnet" malware is thought to be the latest in cyber warfare. Here's the Christian Science Monitor:
Cyber security experts say they have identified the world's first known cyber super weapon designed specifically to destroy a real-world target – a factory, a refinery, or just maybe a nuclear power plant. 

The cyber worm, called Stuxnet, has been the object of intense study since its detection in June. As more has become known about it, alarm about its capabilities and purpose have grown. Some top cyber security experts now say Stuxnet's arrival heralds something blindingly new: a cyber weapon created to cross from the digital realm to the physical world – to destroy something.
Obsidian Wings has a good roundup of reactions and analysis. Note that this malware has probably already tried to do whatever it was going to do (best guess is that it was targeting some Iranian weapons plant), so it's not a big danger to you right now. But its implications are frightening.

The colors of the web

An interesting article on the use of color in popular logos on the web:
The web landscape is dominated by a large number of blue brands... but Red occupies a large amount of space as well. What's driving this? You might want to say that carefully organized branding research and market tests were done to choose the perfect colors to make you spend your money, but a lot of the brands that have grown to be global web powerhouses, started as small web startups... and while large corporate giants with branding departments spend quite a lot on market research, user testing, branding, etc. Lots of the sites listed above got started with brands created by the founders themselves with little to no research into the impact their color choice would have. I once asked Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook why he chose blue for his site design... "I'm color blind, it's the only color I can see." ...and now 500 Million people around the world stare at a mostly blue website for hours each week.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Pennies suck! (and nickels, too)

I agree wholeheartedly:

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Quote of the Day

"The Washington ruling class is embodied by millionaire TV personality Andrea Mitchell, wife of Alan Greenspan, going on GE-owned MSNBC and announcing that it's time for ordinary Americans to "sacrifice" by giving up Social Security benefits (that she, of course, doesn't need)."

-Glenn Greenwald

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Skateboarder rescues Quran from barbecue

http://www.balloon-juice.com/2010/09/14/dude-wheres-my-quran/

I'm glad folks from my religious denomination, the Unitarian Universalists, were there to protest the burning.

[I sent this from my iPhone, so please excuse any excessive brevity or typographical errors.]
--Zachary Drake