What I read on Friday

Friday is here.  To celebrate I am including two anecdotes about my day.

sparkling cupcake

A coworker showed up with amazing chocolate cupcakes. This makes me self-conscious because I’m planning to get up early tomorrow to make chocolate cupcakes for my boyfriend’s birthday party (but they’re not traditional cake cupcakes, they’re going to be my ridiculous dark chocolate pumpkin bread in cupcake form).  Coworker’s cupcakes have beautiful, perfect, home made frosting in a delightful pink shade balanced with chocolate chips.  My frosting execution tends to look like something about to creep, and leap, that one should generally beware of. Anyways, here’s some marketing stuff, an article on how cool volcanoes are, a great podcast on the search for exoplanets and extraterrestrial life, and a return to the dream of the space elevator, which it seems is really going happen, eventually, in the future.

Business Insider: Your Facebook News Feed Is Changing Starting Today
Not particularly interesting.

Pando.com: Jonah Peretti: “Both Time and BuzzFeed grew by creating irresistible lists”
Apparently Buzzfeed’s founder hopes that Buzzfeed will be the Time Magazine of the digital era.  It isn’t a totally crazy idea.

Scientific American: Found in Space, Part 1
Scientific American: Found in Space, Part 2
“Journalist Lee Billings Talks about his book 
Five Billion Years of Solitude: The Search For Life Among the Stars. ”
I love this podcast. I may have to pick up Lee Billings’ book.

Video: Drones Over Dolphin Stampede and Whales off Dana Point and Maui
Beautiful video of a huge school of dolphins, and a baby whale cuddling with its mom.

The Bloggess: Dogs love (to eat) me
I recently started following this blog (thank you, WordPress suggestions box).  She’s hilarious, and I need to buy her books.

Kickstarter: Ifukube and Godzilla: A Musical Celebration
As will eventually be evident in this blog, I have something of an obsession with Godzilla, and kaiju movies in general.  Akira Ifukube was the genius composer behind all the most iconic monster themes to come out of Japan in the second half of the 20th century. G-Fest is an annual convention for Godzilla fans that, sadly, I haven’t yet made it to. This kickstarter is funding for a live symphonic concert of Ifukube’s work at G-fest this year.

The Daily Dot: Laverne Cox should win an Emmy for ‘Orange Is the New Black’

Mashable: What Glaciovolcanoes Can Tell Us About Past Ice Ages
“In western Canada, where scores of volcanoes erupted in the past millennia, geoscientists are quilting together the past thickness of the North American ice sheet with lava, and linking it to ocean cores. For example, ocean cores are often correlated by changes in oxygen isotopes (atoms with different numbers of neutrons) in ocean sediments. Edwards can now point to a volcano in British Columbia and say the ice on land was at least 985 feet thick during a certain marine isotope stage that corresponds to a cold Earth.”

Extreme Tech: 60,000 miles up: Space elevator could be built by 2035, says new study
“Arthur C. Clarke once famously said that we will build a space elevator 10 years after they stop laughing — and they’ve stopped laughing. He said that in 2003, and while his timeline may have been off, his sentiment surely wasn’t. The concept of a space elevator is taken seriously at NASA these days, as it eyes both shrinking budgets and growing public expectations. Space is quickly becoming a bottleneck in the timeline of human technological advancement.”

Final anecdote:

lovecraft seussWhile eating my pizza at the Greek place around the corner that is far too complicated to get too, an older gentleman in an EMT jacket who sported a fantastic white mustache waved and muttered at me in an effort to get my attention. He wanted to look at my t-shirt. Realizing this, I straightened up, moved way from the table, and adjusted my hoodie so that he would have a clear view.

“Lovecraft and Dr. Seuss? Right on!” he cried out in the middle of the restaurant.

I laughed, excited that someone outside of the convention world got the joke. Especially a random old EMT guy whose visage would have fit into a cowboy movie.


What I read on Thursday

Twitter keeps doing things, shockwaves from the Target hack continue to be felt in the tech world, the next revolution in stock images is happening, and LifeHacker, as always, has some great advice. Then I listened to some podcasts.

mothra dragging godzilla

ReadWrite: The Death Of The Magnetic Stripe Claims A Scalp As Target CIO Resigns

Google Maps: Photospheres of Egyptian Ruins
I could look at these photospheres all day, especially the one of Hatshepsut’s temple.

LifeHacker: What Can I Actually Upgrade On My Mac?
Doing research on keeping my old macbook alive.

LifeHacker: How to Stop Being a Cynical Asshole

PreviewsWorld: Jeremy Barlow Picks Up From The Clone Wars With Darth Maul Series 

Super Duper Space Witch: Review: The Outer Temple of Witchcraft – circles, spells and rituals by Christopher Penczak
My friend Amanda’s blog, participating in the Pagan Blog Project. Penczak’s stuff never really appealed to me when I was still practicing.

Wired: The 5 Comics You Need to Read This Month

Marvel.com: Blast Off with Captain Marvel #1 in March
Yay! Carol’s back! I am going to go broke buying comics this month, jeez.

BJP-online.com: Getty Images makes 35 million images free in fight against copyright infringement
Wow.  That’s awesome, and brilliant. Plus WordPress jumped right on that: Announcing New Embed Support for Getty Images

NPR: Park Officials: Illegal Cutting of Redwoods Is Increasing

Wired: How Your Season of Birth Is Etched in Your Brain

KaijuCast: Godzilla vs. The Thing Daikaiju Discussion
This is one of my favorite podcasts. I’m going to start including things I listen to or watch in a given day, since this is mostly about looking at the range of information I take in.

Search Engine Land: As Google Upgrades Google Maps Business Listings, Conflicts Happen Including Duplicate Listing Issues
I’m a little shocked that articles on this are just now showing up. I’ve been troubleshooting that particular issue for our clients for months now.  It’s a pretty nasty mess that Google’s made for the SEO’s to clean up.

TheNextWeb.com: Sweden (yes, the country) wants your ideas for a new breed of games

DigiDay: Why Twitter’s growth problem isn’t a problem for Madison Avenue
The discrepancy between how Wall Street and Madison Avenue view the platform illustrates a fundamental difference between the two. For bankers, entrepreneurs and venture capitalists, selling the promise of future success is as, if not more, important than exhibiting actual ROI. That equates to placing a premium on growth. Agencies and brands tend to focus more on performance, and in that regard, Twitter delivers.

Scientific American: From Gadgets to Galaxies: Conference Reports
Another podcast that I love.  This one is rarely more than 30 minutes long.

What I read on Wednesday

I didn’t have time to publish this yesterday. Read most of this stuff during my lunch break. Lots of variation in this sampling, no wonder my brain was mush when I got home from work last night.

Creepy fish with lots of teeth and glowing blue stripe

Search Engine Land: Logged Out: Yahoo To Stop Allowing Facebook & Google Sign-Ins

I think this will prove to be a smart move.

Huffington Post: Long-Term Drought Doomed Indus Valley Civilization, Researchers Say
I’ve had a mild obsession with the Indus Valley civilization ever since I took an archaeology course on it in college. This headline is a bit ridiculous, of course. What researchers say is that they’ve found evidence of a 200 year long drought that happened about 4,000 years ago. While it is very likely that this data is correct, they still need some more corroboration to say for certain that an ancient climatic event ‘doomed’ the Harappans.

Laughing Squid: California Man With 18 Cats Remodels His Home Into An Amazing Feline Playground Paradise

National Geographic: Pictures: Photographer Who Shot Bristol Bay Celebrates Halt of Pebble Mine
I was in Alaska, on the Kenai Peninsula, a few years ago when the campaign to stop the Pebble Mine went into full swing.

LiveScience: Video, Photos Give First Look at Rare Deep Sea Life

LiveScience: Red-Seeing Fish, Blue-Seeing Fish: Deep-Sea Vision Evolves
The deep sea is not the sort of environment that would appear to encourage rapid evolution. “It doesn’t change. It is always dark,” said study researcher Christopher Kenaley, a comparative biologist at Harvard University. “There is something else down there that is driving the evolution of the visual system.”

University of Louisville: UofL Engineers Construct 3D Heart Model
This is actually a video.  I came across a very poorly written article on the subject, and went looking for real information on the subject. It’s pretty cool stuff.

Digiday: Why Apple chose Tumblr for its social media debut
Not a very good article. Apple didn’t actually comment on why they got a Tumblr for their low end iPhone. Speculation goes as far as ‘because it’s where the youths are!’

Forbes: 22 LinkedIn Secrets LinkedIn Won’t Tell You
There are some genuinely good tips in this article for making the most of your LinkedIn profile.

The Independent (UK): PC World Google gaffe: This is what happened when you searched for the ‘computer superstore’ online
Oh Google info graph, you have such a sense of humor.

Skift.com: The 11 Tourism Boards That Use Twitter Like a Real-Time Concierge

Slideshare.net: Why Our Content Sucks and How to Fix it
There’s some good advice here from REI’s marketing people.  Very long slideshare, over a hundred slides.

Daily Dot: If you stopped watching ‘Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D’ you’re missing out
We may have to pick Agents of SHIELD up again.  It wasn’t so much that we stopped watching it on purpose as that it slipped down the list of priority shows we’ve been working through as time allows.  We’re currently racing through Clone Wars to be ready for the release of Season 6 on Netflix in a few weeks, and we aren’t watching anything else until that’s done.
The big picture here (aside from Marvel’s ongoing quest to obliterate all other summer blockbuster movies) is that Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has changed. A lot. You don’t even have to have seen a single episode to work this out.

At the beginning of the series, the reactions from fans on social media were lacklustre to say the least, and interest from geek culture critics was quickly waning. Four months on, the latest episode is inspiring the kind of wailing and gnashing of teeth that’s usually reserved for Comic Con teaser trailers.

Scientific American: Famous Fossil Bed in China Yields Feathered and Bucktoothed Dinos, Gliding Mammals and a Pterosaur
“The researchers have catalogued and described the older fossils in unprecedented detail, naming them the Daohugou Biota after a village in Inner Mongolia near one of the six main fossil sites examined. Like the Jehol fossils, the Daohugou fossils have remarkably intact skeletons, often still containing soft tissues and even feathers.”

RH Reality Check: Alabama House Passes Extreme ‘Heartbeat’ Abortion Ban, Three Other Anti-Choice Bills
The heartbeat bill’s sponsor, Mary McClurkin (R-Indian Springs), came under heavy fire from her Black colleagues after she compared her bill to the Brown v. Board of Education decision that ended legal racial segregation in the United States. The point of McClurkin’s remarks appeared to be that abortion constitutes “discrimination” against a fetus, and that bills like hers could lead to the overturning of Roe v. Wade, as Brown overturned Plessy v. Ferguson.

Mother Jones: Here Are 5 Infuriating Examples of Facts Making People Dumber
Together, all of these studies support the theory of “motivated reasoning”: The idea that our prior beliefs, commitments, and emotions drive our responses to new information, such that when we are faced with facts that deeply challenge these commitments, we fight back against them to defend our identities. So next time you feel the urge to argue back against some idiot on the Internet…pause, take a deep breath, and realize not only that arguing might not do any good, but that in fact, it might very well backfire.

Open Culture: Lewis Carroll’s 8 Still-Relevant Rules For Letter-Writing
Don’t fill more than a page and a half with apologies for not having written sooner!

What I read on Tuesday

Continuing the experiment of noting how I waste my time. Today’s reading includes edible unspeakable horrors, the secret eldritch ceremonies of those who control the internet, Apple CEO Tim Cook telling climate deniers to suck it, and a real magic ring you can buy on Kickstarter that works with your smartphone.

global temperatures

The Guardian: Tim Cook tells climate change sceptics to ditch Apple shares
“When we work on making our devices accessible by the blind, I don’t consider the bloody ROI,” Cook said, adding that the same sentiment applied to environmental and health and safety issues.
He told Danhof that if he did not believe in climate change, he should sell his Apple shares. “If you want me to do things only for ROI reasons, you should get out of this stock,” he said.

LiveScience: Giant Virus Resurrected from Permafrost After 30,000 Years
Pathogens are so cool!

Tech Crunch: Researchers Find That Twitter Can Locate HIV Outbreaks
The team mapped over 9,800 tweets with sexual and drug-related themes and found that their locations were a good predictor for established statistics on HIV-prevalence.

Mashable: Samsung Upgrades the Chromebook
I continue to lust for a new laptop.  If these new Chromebooks are as nice as this article indicates, I might be making a purchase later this year (though what I really want is an Apple Air).


Skeptic.com: Believe the Survivors or the Science? What the science of memory can teach us about the Dylan Farrow/Woody Allen case
Difficult subject matter, but makes some very valid points about both memory science and the importance maintaining reason to prevent irrational witch hunts.

The Guardian: Meet the seven people who hold the keys to worldwide internet security
It sounds like the stuff of science fiction: seven keys, held by individuals from all over the world, that together control security at the core of the web. The reality is rather closer to The Office than The Matrix

GeekFeminism.org: In defense of Women in Tech (WiT) groups
This blog makes some great points. I don’t really have any experience with WiT groups, but I have helped to create women’s groups before. I’m not surprised that the seeping pus of the internet has sprayed the idea of Women in Tech groups with some of that weird, confused goo that seems to appear whenever females try to claim a little bit of space for themselves.

Mashable: This Bluetooth Ring Is Like a Magic Wand on Your Finger
Living in the future is crazy stuff.

What I read on Monday

Bored Hermione
Bored Hermione

Here’s what I read today in between spreadsheets taking forever to calculate, and various local software taking their sweet time to accomplish things.

What I read today

My boyfriend commented yesterday on how much information my brain sucks in every day from what I read on the internet. I was a little skeptical, so thought I’d start keeping track.  Here’s a list of what I read during spare moments at work while pages loaded or spreadsheets tried to die on me.


Pockets of Oil from Exxon Valdez Spill Persist Along Alaskan Coast
Somewhere between amazing and sad.

Project Ara is Google’s moonshot for the smartphone world
So cool! A modular phone you can piece together yourself.  Control over the camera specs of my device would be amazing.

5 Ways to Make Shareable Images That Drive Traffic
Decent piece on making viral content for marketing purposes, though I must admit I only skimmed it.  Mind the popup when you click on it.

Hollowing Out the Promises of God
“While the Christian tradition teaches us to tell ourselves over and over again that “God cannot forsake us,” it also teaches us that experiencing God’s faithfulness could mean enduring the most horrific things imaginable, which makes the promise never to forsake us an empty promise.”
Godless in Dixie always has fantastically thought-provoking posts.

New research suggests a strong link between the powerful smell of pine trees and climate change.
This news article has a slightly sensationalist headline, but the meat of the article is really interesting stuff.  There’s also a link in there to the abstract of the study published in Nature. The implications are significant and exciting, hinting at possible future developments in technology and general practices that could mitigate climate change. In other words, replant the forests to save the world.  Speculative fiction for now, but the idea of having to essentially replant all of the boreal forest we’ve lost in recent centuries is a beautiful twist in the meandering path of the development of modern civilization.

Tackling Tumors With Space Station Research
“True weightlessness affects human cells in a number of ways. For one thing, cells grown in space arrange themselves into three-dimensional groupings, or aggregates, that more closely resemble what happens in the body. “Without gravitational pull, cells form three-dimensional aggregates, or spheroids,” Grimm explains. “Spheroids from cancer cells share many similarities with metastases, the cancer cells which spread throughout the body.” Determining the molecular mechanisms behind spheroid formation might therefore improve our understanding of how cancer spreads.”

Decimating Our Ads Revenue
In which Reddit tries to do a nice thing, and appreciates a rather old pun.

My Stormtrooper, and an embarrassing anecdote

The back of a white SUV. The tire case has a black cog design on it.

I drive a white SUV that we refer to as “The Stormtrooper,” because of its great resemblance to the helmets of the elite soldiers of the Galactic Empire (Star Wars). I’ve been talking for a year about strategically changing the white trim to black, and of putting an imperial cog on the spare wheel case.

A huge vinyl decal Imperial symbol arrived in the mail a couple of weeks ago, courtesy of my loving partner, Reed.  He had been scouring Etsy for cool Macbook decals, and that wild journey led him into the shadows of Ebay, and the seller d-a-r-k-s-i-d-e.

My car was filthy (it was arguably tan in color at that point), and of course the weeks of freakish winter weather had set in.  So we waited, and waited, and waited, for a normal Austin February weekend.

The day after Valentine’s Day was absolutely gorgeous, and so we acted.  A bucket of soap and several filthy rags later, we had a clean surface.  And then we learned things about large vinyl decals.

I’d like to share those things with you:

  1. When the voice of reason starts muttering about getting a ruler or some other sort of straight edge, listen to it.
  2. Start from the top.
  3. Once the design has stuck to the surface, it’s there.  Don’t pull it back up, you’ll rip it.
  4. The clear plastic the design is on is supposed to peel back off. Seriously, we didn’t know that, and were initially confused about how bad it looked.

I must share with you an embarrassing anecdote. Not shown in the above image is my silly green Godzilla decal, which I acquired at Austin Comic Con last November. Three months ago.  It was a struggle to keep the bubbles out of the tiny thing, and I was upset by the texture of the clear bits surrounding the green.  Those clear bits began to peel off, and I developed blinders to the issue.  It looked awful.

Once our adventure this weekend with the Imperial cog was nearly done, and I was upset at how bad the cog looked with its bubbles and extreme unevenness, I decided to tear Godzilla off in a fury.  I grabbed the loosest corner of the clear stuff, and ripped it away.  Left behind was a bright green, impressively smooth decal. Reed and I looked at each other in embarrassed confusion, then together we grabbed the top of the giant square of backing and pulled it away from my spare wheel cover.  Left behind was the badassness pictured above.

I am going to feel stupid about that for years.

Austin’s abnormal winter

snowdayThe fraction inch of snow that completely shut down the entire city of Austin, TX, this morning.  I’m originally from the Texas Panhandle, where we have to deal with all the nasty stuff that blows down off of the Rockies. I am fascinated by the response down here to some ice on the ground.

Coffee Cares .1

It’s cold and rainy outside. This image encompasses my current emotional state.

Also, this is my new blog. My name is Jenn. Hello.

Review: Hell Baby Killed Me With Laughing

hell-babyI am dead and writing this from beyond, having asphyxiated with laughter while watching Hell Baby. It was a good way to go, surprising, but good. I usually hate genre parodies (Scary Movie was not funny), but with a cast of comedians boasting the chops and dynamic to pull it off, I completely bought in.  The humor isn’t for everyone, so if you’re one of those people who can’t stand Reno 911 or Keye and Peele, you should probably stop reading and go watch a cat video.

Directed and written by Robert Ben Garant and Thomas Lennon, Hell Baby is Amityville Horror hosts The Exorcist while The Omen watches the birth of Rosemary’s Baby.  This is a horror fan’s horror-comedy film.

Ripped screaming and bloody from the collective subconscious of the assholes who brought us Reno 911 and Darko Entertainment, Hell Baby casually sprays stereotypes of various societal bits every which way, and ruins your nice pants in the process. There’s a chain smoking Vatican swat team of buddy-cop exorcists who are total bad asses, sent to deal with the terrible Evil inhabiting a piece of shit boarded up old house in Some Poor Ass Neighborhood, New Orleans. That means I just saw a running gag about shrimp po’boys that was fucking hilarious. Oh Christ, this movie is nearly perfect.

They hit on an impressive range and variety of movie tropes, except zombies (unless Mrs. Nussbaum is even more horrifying than I initially realized. And now I will have nightmares with that in my head.).  

Even the gore is well done; I was impressed by those entrails dangling down the wall.  The acting is great; many of these people have been doing comedy together for years, and it pays off here with their rich chemistry.  The story moves at a fast pace and requires spot-on comedic timing.  The creepy old woman is probably going to traumatize you. Even F’resnel (Keegan Michael Keye) and his show-stealing antics can’t heal that wound.  Ugh…

This movie is exactly what would happen if Monty Python had manifested in modern day post millennial America, made parodies of horror films and had a few women in the troupe.

Hell Baby is currently showing in a very limited US release, but we managed to see it here in Texas because it is also available to stream on Amazon.

Do whatever you have to do to see this movie. If you stream it, throw a theme party, that’s what we did for this past Friday the 13th.  Homemade Devil’s Food cake stands between you and the path to glory, my friend. Turn Hell Baby into the hit it deserves to be.