Friday, August 31, 2012

Brain Teaser 12: Balls in Bags

You have nine tennis balls and four shopping bags. Your challenge is to put the balls in the bags in such a way that there is an odd number of balls in each bag. That is, each bag must contain 1, 3, 5, 7 or 9 balls. Can you do it?


Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Omni Magazine

When I was a boy, sometime between the ages of maybe 8 to 11, I remember my father had a subscription to a science/science fiction magazine called Omni.  It was a strange blend of articles about science, futurism, the paranormal, sci-fi stories and fantastic art. Each issue was like a doorway to another world filled with strange creatures and bizarre landscapes.  It had a style which was endemic of the times, combining the older new wave movement in science fiction with the developing cyber punk genre.

It also had a pretty good run with it's first issue published in October of 1978 and the last in Winter of 1995.  After that it ran as a webzine from 1996 to 1998.  Other Omni related media included a short run television show called Omni: The New Frontier, Omni comics, and a series of music CD's.  What follows is a selective taste of what Omni was about.

Magazine Covers


Short Stories
Here are links to some of the short stories published in Omni which later became classics of the sci-fi genre.
George R. R. Martin: Sandkings

Here are a few of the songs which were on the first of the Omni series of CD's.
Ray Lynch: The Oh of Pleasure

Mars Lasar: The Eleventh Hour

David Arkenstone: Rain

Omni: The New Frontier

Addendum 05/16/13
Just discovered that you can now view almost the entire run of Omni magazine here.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Moon Walk

On August 25, 2012, the first person to walk on the moon, astronaut Neil Armstrong died at the age of 82.   In honor of his life, I present some fascinating videos of the 1969 Apollo 11 mission.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Goldfish exhibit in Nihonbashi, Japan

The Edo Cooling Goldfish exhibit, which is currently being held in Nihonbashi Japan, is a serene display of thousands of goldfish in unique aquariums bathed in color changing lights.  The exhibit is open to the public during the day but at night, the place turns into a very hip lounge where food and drinks are served.  Now that would be a cool way to spend a Saturday night!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Collected Image Films

I really like these, what I refer to as, collected image films.  I find they come together nicely to portray the intended story or theme, yet at the same time leave me feeling a little bewildered.

I think you have to watch these two or three times to get the full emotional effect, since the first time around your brain is trying to work through the confusion.

This first one titled "From Love to Bingo" is an advertisement for Getty Images and was created by AlmapBBDO advertising.  Really loved this one.

The second one titled "Ball" was created by artist Daniel Mercadante.

Ball from Everynone on Vimeo.

Another fun thing to do with these flims is to randomly stop it to see what the still image is.  For instance, in the first video image 392 is a shot of the power rangers, 413 shows bizarre clown dolls and 535 is a man looking at a astronaut in a space suit

Friday, August 17, 2012

Debbie Wasserman-Schultz Red Herring Example

Came across this clip on a couple of politically oriented blogs. Setting aside the politics (which I try to do with some degree of regularity), I found this to be a good example of the Red Herring fallacy (A red herring is an argument which is used to distract from the original issue by introducing some irrelevant issue or topic).

Blitzer starts by essentially repeating the point that Paul Ryan had made in a video which was played moments before this video starts.

He (Blitzer) says 'So the question is, just to be precise, he does call for dramatic changes for people 54 and under. But anyone who is 55 or older or any senior living in Florida right now they have absolutely nothing to worry about because if his plan were to be approved because it would not affect them at all. You accept that, right?"

Red Herring #1
Debbie Wasserman-Schultz responds by avoiding Blitzer's very specific question about anyone 55 or older having no change to their medicare with this amazing Red Herring: "No, Paul Ryan's views two years ago on Medicare and how we can shore it up and preserve it for future generations were extreme and wrong then and they're extreme and wrong now and made even worse by the fact that now they're in charge of the House of Representatives, and actually if Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan became president and vice president of the United States, they would be able to end the Medicare guarantee, shred the health care safety net that Medicare has provided for more than 50 years, and turn Medicare into a voucher program, leaving seniors really out in the cold because as health care costs grow larger than the voucher provides, seniors wouldn't have enough money to cover their health care costs. And we know that the Romney/Ryan plan would increase Medicare premiums by $6,300 each year for seniors, Wolf, so.."

This probably normally works but today Blitzer feels like lighting up the grill. Blitzer trys to bring her back to the original question by saying: "But we're talking about, but he says there would be...he says he's not calling for any changes for anyone who is 55 or older including anyone who is on Medicare right now. Those changes, let's say I accept...Let's say we accept all those, the description you have of all of those changes, that affects people 10 years from now...let's say 65 or 67 when they're eligible for Medicare. But it doesn't affect anyone who is receiving Medicare right now or those who have 10 years to go, 55 and older.

Red Herring #2
Wasserman-Schultz responds "It certainly does and I'll tell you how...First of all, Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan presume that the people who are younger than 65 years old who have spent decades in their (Blitzer corrects her and says 55) ok, so 55 and younger (Remember, the original point was regarding people 55 and older, not younger people. By talking about younger people she moves into her next Red Herring) We'll start with that age. Those people have spent decades paying into Medicare and because of the arbitrary cutoff of 55 years old that Romney and Ryan have established that means that we would no longer for those people have Medicare be a guarantee. Instead, we would shred that safety net. It would no longer be a guarantee. It would be a voucher. They'd pay more than $6,000 more in premiums to pay for their Medicare coverage and because health care costs often rise higher than that voucher would at a faster rate the voucher wouldn't provide for all the health care costs

The back and forth gets convoluted from here, so you can watch the video for the rest of it.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Brain Teaser 11: Missing Dollar Paradox

Three friends go to a restaurant for a meal. They receive a bill for $30. They each put in $10, which the server collects and takes to the cash register. At this point, the server realizes that the bill should only have been $25 and is about to return with $5. On the way back to the table the server realises that he cannot divide the coins equally so he decides to put $2 in his own pocket and give each of the friends $1.

Now, each of the friends paid $9. Three times 9 is 27. The server has $2 in his pocket. $2 plus $27 is $29. The ladies originally handed over $30.

Where is the missing dollar?

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Logical Fallacies 11: Fallacy of Equivocation

Equivocation is a fallacy of ambiguity in which a word changes meaning within an argument.  For instance, "The sign says fine for parking.  Since it is fine, I can park here." With this example the word fine changes meanings from a sum of money extracted as a penalty by an authority to something which is satisfactory or acceptable.

Here are two more examples: "A feather is light.  What is light cannot be dark.  Therefore a feather cannot be dark." and "Only man is logical.  No woman is man.  Therefore, no woman is logical."

Monday, August 13, 2012

Cheap Virtual Reality

There is a lot happening in the area of augmented reality and virtual reality.  This technology was the cat's meow back in the early 1990s but essentially fell off the map by 2000.  I'm really excited about it coming back into the spotlight.

Here is a method of turning technology most of us already have into a virtual reality viewer. 

Instructions on how to make the viewer can be found here at the website for the Institute for Creative Technologies at the University of California.  Maybe some clever developers will turn it into a cheap VR game or something.

Knowing About Biases Can Hurt People

Just read a nice article by Eliezer Yudkowsky at Less Wrong.  Here is the link.

In a nut, the author talks about how some people will use their knowledge of cognitive biases, not to be better truth seekers, but to be better equipped to argue against things they don't like.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Brain Teaser 10

Got this one from  It is a short one, so you don't have to dedicate much time to it.

The Three Suspects

Kyle, Neal, and Grant were rounded up by their mother yesterday, because one of them was suspected of having grabbed a few too many cookies from the cookie jar. The three brothers made the following statements under very intensive questioning:
Kyle: I'm innocent.
Neal: I'm innocent.
Grant: Neal is the guilty one.

If only one of these statements was true, who took the cookies?

Monday, August 6, 2012

Pamukkale, Turkey

These aren't images of snow and ice covered landscapes.  They're actually the amazing terraces of Pamukkale (cotton castle in Turkish) which are the result of mineral deposits from the hot spring waters which flow over them.


Image source unknown

flickr ana_ge

flickr PEACEtm

Image from Samyeli Travel

Many older pictures depict vacationers lounging about in the various natural pools.  Heavy traffic and abuse from these tourist had caused considerable damage.  Also, hotels built around the site had redirected the spring water away from the travertines to support their own spas.  This caused many of the pools to dry up.  In an effort to reverse the damage, some of the hotels were torn down and restrictions were established on which areas tourist are allowed to walk in.

Image source unknown

Having been a popular health spa for thousands of years, Pamukkale is also home to the ancient city of Hierapolis.  What an enchanting combination the two make.  I imagine a past setting of Romans laying about and bathing in the various terraced pools.  Perhaps one day I will have the opportunity to see it in person.

Image from Pioneer Tour

flicker ana_ge

flicker yilmaz ovunc

Artist Allen Wei Ming

Recently came across the art works of Allen Wei Ming.  Nice portfolio.  Here are a few of my favorites (click to enlarge images).

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Side by Side Escher Inspired Illusion

Found this on Optical Illusions Etc.  Cool Escher inspired illusion.  Real construction or photoshop?
Flickr Erik Minnema