Author Archive | majestic

This Is The International Flag Of Planet Earth

earth flag

Now that we’re planning missions to colonize other planets, Earth needs a flag, don’t you think? Oskar Pernefeldt, a student at Beckmans College of Design in Stockholm, has come up with this design for an International Flag of Planet Earth and it seems like it’s catching on if the positive media reaction is anything to go by. His website explains his rationale for the flag’s design:

THE DESIGN

The scientific study of flags is called vexillology, and the practice of designing flags is called vexillography. Both of these are an outcome of heraldry. In these practices there are different unofficial design rules/costums, about colors, placement, proportions, typography, and aestethics in general.

This proposal is accurate according to the regulations regarding flags.

SYMBOLIC EXPLANATION

Centered in the flag, seven rings form a flower – a symbol of the life on Earth. The rings are linked to each other, which represents how everything on our planet, directly or indirectly, are linked. 

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France Forces Big Supermarkets to Give Unsold Food to Charities

Now that’s some progressive legislation right there! Can you imagine Walmart giving away food in the US? The Guardian reports on the new French law requiring the likes of Carrefour to distribute unsold food to non-profits that presumably will give the food to the poor and hungry who previously had to forage in potentially poisoned garbage bins for that same food:

French supermarkets will be banned from throwing away or destroying unsold food and must instead donate it to charities or for animal feed, under a law set to crack down on food waste.

Monoprix, après l'averse

A Monoprix supermarket in France. Photo: Damien Roué (CC)

 

The French national assembly voted unanimously to pass the legislation as France battles an epidemic of wasted food that has highlighted the divide between giant food firms and people who are struggling to eat.

As MPs united in a rare cross-party consensus, the centre-right deputy Yves Jégo told parliament: “There’s an absolute urgency – charities are desperate for food.

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Average American Consumes Over 300 Gallons of California Water Per Week

CA Avocados at the grove

Photo: California Avocados (CC)

Note that it’s the average American who consumes more than 300 gallons of California water each week, not the average Californian (whose usage is way higher). This is because this mythical average American is consuming a tremendous amount of food produced in California, everything from almonds to avocados explains the New York Times:

California farmers produce more than a third of the nation’s vegetables and two-thirds of its fruits and nuts. To do that, they use nearly 80 percent of all the water consumed in the state. It is the most stubborn part of the crisis: To fundamentally alter how much water the state uses, all Americans may have to give something up.

The portions of foods shown here are grown in California and represent what average Americans, including non-Californians, eat in a week. We made an estimate of the amount of water it takes to grow each portion to give you a sense of your contribution to the California drought.

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Ancient Bacteria Produce Carbon-Neutral Ethanol Using Just Sun, Waste Carbon Dioxide and Non-Potable Water

Scientists at innovative energy company Joule have engineered ancient bacteria to produce carbon-neutral ethanol using just the sun, waste carbon dioxide and non-potable water. It’s amazingly efficient, beating other ethanol sources like corn and wood chips by a huge margin and could eventually be cheaper than oil. Bloomberg’s Ramy Inocencio reports from Hobbs, New Mexico:

There’s more detailed information in Joule’s press release.

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Diablo III Players Stole Virtual Armor and Gold — Prosecuted IRL

Proving that the lines between your video game life and your real life are becoming increasingly fuzzy, two gamers who stole a load of loot in Diablo III have pled guilty in a real life case based on their virtual crimes, reports Fusion:

These days, we all have shadow selves that exist in virtual environments — be it on Facebook, Twitter, or in video games. And those digital avatars, it turns out, can get us in IRL trouble. Last year, in a first-of-its-kind legal case that has not previously been reported, two men pled guilty to misdemeanors in California and Maryland that stemmed from their robbing video game characters of gold, weapons and armor.

D3-inventory-smaller.jpg

Diablo III‍ ’​s inventory and HUD.

 

In the summer of 2012, Patrick Nepomuceno of California and Michael Stinger of Maryland, who had met each other through gaming chat platform TeamSpeak, committed a series of virtual “hold-ups” in the role-playing video game Diablo III.

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Hacking the Brain to Get Smarter

Want to get smarter? There are ways… The Atlantic investigates brain hacking:

The perfectibility of the human mind is a theme that has captured our imagination for centuries—the notion that, with the right tools, the right approach, the right attitude, we might become better, smarter versions of ourselves. We cling to myths like “the 10 percent brain”—which holds that the vast majority of our thinking power remains untapped—in part because we hope the minds of the future will be stronger than those of today. It’s as much a personal hope as a hope for civilization: If we’re already running at full capacity, we’re stuck, but what if we’re using only a small fraction of our potential? Well, then the sky’s the limit.

brain

Credit: TZA (CC)

 

But this dream has a dark side: The possibility of a dystopia where an individual’s fate is determined wholly by his or her access to cognition-enhancing technology.

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Lancet Editor: ‘The case against science is straightforward: much of the scientific literature, perhaps half, may simply be untrue.’

Dr. Richard Horton, Editor in Chief, the Lancet.

Dr. Richard Horton, Editor in Chief, the Lancet.

The Lancet is one of – if the not the – most prestigious medical science journals, so when its editor-in-chief writes that “The case against science is straightforward: much of the scientific literature, perhaps half, may simply be untrue,” you know that something’s rotten in Denmark. Collective Evolution reports on Richard Horton’s pronouncement:

In the past few years more professionals have come forward to share a truth that, for many people, proves difficult to swallow. One such authority is Dr. Richard Horton, the current editor-in-chief of the Lancet – considered to be one of the most well respected peer-reviewed medical journals in the world.

Dr. Horton recently published a statement declaring that a lot of published research is in fact unreliable at best, if not completely false.

“The case against science is straightforward: much of the scientific literature, perhaps half, may simply be untrue.

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New Scrabble Words Make You Fear For The English Language

Fo’ shizzle, the Scrabble lords are really going off the deep end with their slang additions to legitimate Scrabble words. I mean come on, people, “obvs” is way too “cazh”! The Independent shares my indignation:

Lolz, shizzle and cakehole – just three of 6,500 new words to have made it into the Scrabble lexicon.

Dirty Scrabble!

Photo: Brandon C

 

The new additions to the Collins Scrabble word list draw heavily from social media slang and text-speak and include obvs (obviously), ridic (ridiculous) and dench (excellent).

Other new words in the list reflect modern society, trends and events, such as twerking, devo (short for devolution, as in Devo Max), vape (to inhale from an electric cigarette), onesie, shootie (fashionable shoe that covers the ankle), cakeages (restaurant charges levied for serving cake brought in from outside), and podiumed (often used at sporting events, particularly the Olympics).

The new word list also recognises the role technology continues to play in our lives with the addition of facetime, hashtag, tweep, and sexting.

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Secrets of Osama Bin Laden’s Bookshelf

The Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI – yet another of the alphabet soup of US intelligence agencies) has released what they are calling “a sizeable tranche of documents recovered during the raid on the compound used to hide Usama bin Ladin.”

bin-ladin_bookshelf_5

ODNI’s stylized graphic for their media release.

CNN‘s Peter Bergen gives us his take:

In his final years hiding in a compound in Pakistan, Osama bin Laden was a man who at once showed great love and interest in his own family while he coldly drew up quixotic plans for mass casualty attacks on Americans, according to documents seized by Navy SEALs the night he was killed.

On Wednesday morning, the U.S. Office of the Director of National Intelligence released an unprecedented number of documents from what U.S. officials have described as the treasure-trove picked up by the SEALs at bin Laden’s compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, on May 2, 2011.

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Electric YouTube Acid Test: A Brief Guide to Tripping on the Internet

Hopes and Fears explores hallucinating on web browser tabs and talks to philosopher Ned Block about optical illusions:

You probably spent a week or two in high school learning about optics, occasionally finding relief from lectures in illusions projected onto the whiteboard. In my case, public school budgets meant that the projectors were routinely dim, out of focus, and off-color. The examples yielded an anemic crop of effects that lasted a few seconds. What little knowledge I acquired in class was muddled and superficial: cones and rods got “fatigued” and “adapted” in response stimuli, creating afterimages. Our retinas translated photons into electrical signals, which, after being “processed” in various parts of the brains, emerged miraculously as non-electrical visual experiences. Little did I know, it gets so much better.

YouTube and more generally, the internet paired with a computer screen, offer the chance to revisit these visual experiments and the scholarship behind them.

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