Massive Linky-Links

I have once again reached the point where there are so many tabs open in my browser that my computer’s performance is suffering. It’s time for a purge, and you all know what that means: a list of links for your edification and amusement!

Society and Sexuality

Nebraska woman files Federal lawsuit against all homosexuals
Sylvia Driskell, a self-described “ambassador for God,” has filed a lawsuit against all homosexuals on the grounds that God has said homosexuality is an abomination. Honestly, I feel a little sorry for her.

Police: Fraternity dosed women with date-rape drugs at party based on color-coded hand stamps
The horror show that is the American university fraternity system just never stops.

Nonmonogamy for men: the big picture
Men who are new to the idea of non-monogamy make a lot of mistakes and often have a lot of trouble finding partners. Here’s a cogent analysis of why, and how not to make those mistakes.

Informatics: What an analysis of one million sex toy sales tells us about our erotic tastes, kinks, and desires
Two of my favorite things (sex and informatics) in one place! This is an awesome article.

So you’re not desirable…
Article by the authors of a paper recently published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology that suggests who you are–your uniqueness–is more valuable to prospective partners than traditional markers like physical attractiveness or money. Seems the advice “be yourself!” now has scientific evidence behind it.

What happened when I posed as a man on Twitter
You know how women say they get a lot of shit that men don’t get on social media, and men say naaw, women are just exaggerating ’cause they’re all thin-skinned and emotional and stuff? Surprise, surprise, it turns out women actually do get more shit on social media.

Science

Scientific American: Alien Supercivilizations Absent from 100,000 Nearby Galaxies
Dyson spheres and other huge-scale macroengineering projects should be visible from earth even if they are located in distant galaxies. But we don’t see any sign of them. Where is everyone? (I’ve written a bit about the Fermi paradox in this blog here.)

Random Strangeness

Photographs of superheroes wearing “outfits” made of milk–and nothing else
Just what it says on the tin. Probably not safe for work.

Software engineering, now with cats
How modern software engineers would design a cat. As a computer programmer, this is, I can attest, altogether too true.

Every noise at once
Comprehensive clickable interactive map of every kind of music you can imagine.

And finally, there’s this gem from YouTube: a lovely hand-crafted 2-stroke engine with a transparent combustion chamber so you can see the fire.

Is polyamory more evolved? No. No, it isn’t.

I’ve been blogging a great deal about polyamory lately, but I’ve been doing it over at the More Than Two blog rather than here. And, in typical fashion, I’ve been so overworked that I haven’t been posting the links here on Livejournal. Sigh.

Today’s blog post is about poly “evolution.” If you hang around the poly community long enough, sooner or later you’ll run into someone who says that polyamory is more evolved than monogamy, either in a positive way (“Wow, polyamory is the next stage of spiritual evolution of humanity!”) or a negative way (“Polyamory sounds nice and all, but we just aren’t evolved enough to make it work”).

Either way, it’s rubbish. Polyamory is not more evolved, spiritually or otherwise, than monogamy. This blog post talks about why. Feel free to respond over there or here.


Also, in case you’ve missed them, there are other good blog posts as well:

Eve Rickert talks about being married and polyamorous.

I talk about growing up alienated in rural Nebraska, and how that helped me learn skills useful in polyamory.

I ask the question, are relationships work?

Eve talks about coming out poly.

Eve talks about what integrity is to her.

Eve talks about being a grownup.

I talk about having compassion in tough times, making tough choices, and why some of the things we might think are good ideas in poly relationships are really terrible ideas.

Eve and I have a dialog about using rules as “training wheels” in polyamory and what “Utopian poly” means.

I talk about the difference between moving toward and moving away: relationships where you move toward joy, rather than moving away from fear.

Again, please feel free to comment over there or here.

2013’s First Big List o’ Linky Links

Once again, I have so many browser windows open that my computer, newly upgraded to Mac OS 10.8, is slowing to a crawl. (And on the subject of that upgrade, I’d just like to say that the latest and greatest Safari seems to handle large numbers of open windows with considerably less grace than the old version did, illustrating once more the age-old principle that human progress and the fall from grace go hand in hand.)

So, in time-honored tradition, I’m dumping a list of links here for you. Enjoy!

Photography and Cats

From Buzzfeed comes this awesome page called Perfectly Timed Cat Photos. The Internet is not just for porn; it is for porn and funny pictures of cats. And this page has some of the best of the latter.

This next link is porn, of a sotrt. It’s a Web site called Abandonedography, and it has some of the most amazing photos of urban decay you’ll ever see. Me, I really, really like urban decay.

Science

From Science Daily comes an interesting article, Monogamy and the Immune System: Differences in Sexual Behavior Impact Bacteria Hosted and Genes That Control Immunity.

Through a series of analyses, MacManes and researchers from the Lacey Lab examined the differences between these two species on the microscopic and molecular levels. They discovered that the lifestyles of the two mice had a direct impact on the bacterial communities that reside within the female reproductive tract. Furthermore, these differences correlate with enhanced diversifying selection on genes related to immunity against bacterial diseases.

The Guardian has an article that speaks to my interest (and my annoyance with pop understanding of science), Our brains, and how they’re not as simple as we think.

As neuroscience has gained authority over previous ways of explaining human nature, it is not surprising that people will be compelled to use it if they want to try and make persuasive claims about how people are or should be – regardless of its accuracy. Folk neuroscience has become Freud for Freud-phobes, everyday psychology for the sceptical, although in reality, rarely more helpful than either.

Over on io9, there’s a somewhat breathless but still interesting article, Temporary tattoos could make electronic telepathy and telekinesis possible. The actual technology isn’t about “telepathy and telekinesis” so much as it’s about using tiny, microns-thick electrodes to interface human beings to the world, but headline hype aside, it’s cool stuff.

Society and culture

This is a fairly old article, about a year old at this point, but still worth noting. When people talk about the ‘gay agenda’ as if it’s some dark and sinister thing, I think it’s fair to be reminded occasionally that there are still rather a lot of folks who believe that gays and lesbians should be rounded up and executed. There is little about the supposed ‘gay agenda’ that even comes within a light-year of that.

Over on No Place for Sheep is this article, What is objectification, anyway? Objectification is a hot-button topic in any conversation about misogyny, and this essay lays it out rather well.

Similarly, there’s an article on lacigreen that talks about how oppression works. Many folks I’ve talked to about the ideas of privilege and oppression try to paint the ideas as creating a strict hierarchy, with (presumably) strait white men at the top; this essay talks about why that model isn’t realistic.

Speaking of misogyny: A while ago, there was a short-lived Tumblr blog called “Nice Guys of OK Cupid,” which hilighted online dating profiles of men who called themselves ‘nice guys’ and lamented the fact that they were always getting ‘friend zoned,’ while also expressing horrifyingly misogynistic (and in some cases potentially violent) ideas. The Tumblr blog is no more, but there’s an essay over on Jezebel called No One is Entitled to Sex: Why We Should Mock the Nice Guys of OkCupid that’s definitely worth a read.

The plea to replace mockery with understanding is a familiar one; it’s what lies behind the calls to stop using the word “creep,” because men find it shaming. But in the case of Nice Guys of OkCupid, disdain isn’t rooted in meanness as much as it is in self-preservation. While only a small percentage of these guys may be prone to imminent violence, virtually all of them insist, in one way or another, that women owe them. Mockery, in this instance, isn’t so much about being cruel as it is about publicly rejecting the Nice Guys’ sense of entitlement to both sex and sympathy.

John Scalzi can always be counted on to lay things out plainly, and his essay An Incomplete Guide to Not Creeping is no exception.

Hacking

In a feat of improvisational engineering that’s equal parts awesome and horrifying, a guy has built himself a drone, armed it with a paintball gun, and programmed it to shoot at human-shaped targets.

I’m a big fan of Arduino hacking, having used an Arduino to make everything from a thought-controlled sex toy to a brainwave-controlled Rubens’ tube to a vibrator guaranteed not to get you off. Adafruit, a company that makes all kinds of neat DIY Arduino-like gear, has introduced a new Lilypad-like microcontroller designed for wearable computers and paired it with programmable smart LEDs to create some really cool stuff. Check out the how-to video on making a tie with a glowing VU meter built in!

Signal Boost: Hellbender Media

A bit more than a year ago, a very good friend of mine, edwardmartiniii, started a project to write a new horror short story every week for a year. The result appeared in a blog he called Tales from the Blinkspace.

He is, and I say this without reservation, one of the best horror writers I’ve ever read. His stories are quirky, unpredictable, occasionally Lovecraftian in feel if not in subject, and very often brilliant. Quite a few of them made me think, one of them gave me nightmares, and I even appear in one as a character (no, I won’t say which one, you’ll have to find it yourself).

And now it’s a book.

I highly, highly recommend this book for anyone who’s a fan of quality short stories. You can see more about it on his Web site, Hellbender Media, here or find the book on Amazon here.

Linky-Links: Sex, Polyamory, Tech, and Humor edition

It’s time for another massive collection of links, so I can close some of my browser windows and reclaim a whole bunch of RAM on this computer. Today’s list is heavy on sex, tech, and humor, making it different from any other linky-links post in exactly zero ways, I suppose.

Sex

From New Scientist magazine, we have the article Sex on the brain: Orgasms unlock altered consciousness. It discusses fMRI scans of a volunteer who masturbated to orgasm inside an fMRI scanner while the experimenters recorded her brain activity. If I had the budget, this is the sort of science I’d be doing.

The Sexacademic blog gives us a story titled Explaining Porn Watching With Science!, which talks about the neurochemical pathways active during porn watching, and along the way debunks some lurid, sensationalistic pop culture ideas about “sex addiction”.

On Sexonomics is an article Porn by the Numbers 5: On feminist porn. The myth that porn, or “mainstream” porn (whatever that is), never shows women in a positive light and is never aimed at a female audience is as enduring as the legend of Bigfoot. I was recently at a Science Pub, in fact, in which an otherwise sex-positive sociologist decried the portrayal of women in “mainstream” porn. The argument became neatly circular later when she said that “mainstream” porn is that which portrays women negatively. The fact that someone with a doctorate in sociology can think about something in such an intellectually sloppy way testifies, I think, to how emotional the subject of porn (and especially feminist porn) is.


Society and rape

Speaking of feminist issues, some time ago a prominent female blogger was approached by a stranger in an elevator at a convention. Said stranger asked her to go back to his room with him. She blogged about the incident and why it was inappropriate, and provoked a firestorm that many of you Gentle Readers are probably aware of. Her thesis is pretty simple: Lots of women are sexually assaulted; if you want a positive response from women, don’t approach them in ways that would make sexual assault easy.

A lot of men–including some men that I know personally and otherwise find to be basically reasonable people–flipped out about that, and started wailing nonsense like “Feminists think all men are raaaaaaapists!” Which is total bunk; what’s being said is that SOME men are rapists, but rapists don’t wear special T-shirts or have a secret handshake that identifies them, so if you’re being approached by some strange guy you have no way to know if he’s likely to assault you or not. That means being aware that a strange dude you meet might be willing to assault you. (The defensive, “you’re saying all men are rapists” response from a lot of guys is similar to the sort of response you see in US society when you try to talk about institutional racism; people who think “Well, I’m not a rapist” or “Well, I’m not a racist” become so reactionary when they hear what might sound like an accusation that they refuse to discuss rape or race in any sort of rational way.)

All that is a longwinded introduction to the next two links, The first, Women in Elevators: A Man To Man Talk For The Menz, talks about the reasons that women can be suspicious of being approached by strangers. Not every dog is aggressive, but nearly everyone feels some trepidation when approached by a strange dog, because there’s no easy way to tell dogs that bite from dogs that don’t. I’m sure somebody somewhere will be upset and insulted by a metaphor about dogs (“You’re saying all men are dogs!”), but if that’s the case, that dude probably can’t be educated.

And second, for the dudes who say “Well, women should just say so if they don’t want to be approached!” we have Another post about rape. This one talks about how women (and men, to be fair, though to a lesser extent) are strongly socialized not to say “no,” not to assert boundaries, and not to upset people. It is, I think, a toxic set of social values, but that’s a whole ‘nother blog post. The point is, simply asserting a boundary carries a social cost. (This is why I think the idea of affirmative consent, adding “only yes means yes” to the idea of “no means no,” is so important, as I’ve talked about before.)


Polyamory

For quite a while now, people have been bugging me to find a new home for my polyamory pages that until now have livedo n my site at www.xeromag.com. I’ve finally built a new site for them, More Than Two. I’ve blogged the new link before, but f you haven’t taken a look recently, you should. There’s now an RSS feed of new articles, and some new content has been posted.

On the Polytical blog is this excellent essay, I’m Better ‘Cos I’m Poly. Anyone who is openly out about being poly has probably at some point or another been labeled as “smug” or “arrogant” about it, most often by someone who identifies as monogamous. This essay is an excellent deconstruction of the “smug poly” stereotype.


Geek Humor

First up, we have these very funny Sci-Fi Ikea Manuals. What would happen if light sabers were real? Or the Tardis was something you could get at Ikea? What would the assembly instructions look like? Apparently, in order to put together an Ikea light saber, you must first have your hand chopped off by Darth Vader.

Our travel down the surrealist path continues with Ride the Gummi Worm, Muad’Dib, a diorama of a scene from Dune done with Gummi Bears and a gigantic Gummi Worm.


Do-It-Yourself Science!

I have blogged in the past about using and Arduino mocrocontroller board to make sex toys. For folks who think that sounds like a good idea but aren’t sure how to use or program an Arduino, there is a comic book introduction to Arduino, which you can download as a PDF. If you don’t have a background in electronics or microcontrollers but you want to build your own Arduino projects, this is a great way to get started.

Speaking of Ikea, which I was a bit earlier, for those of oyu who are photography buffs comes this guide to building a cheap time lapse panning unit using only things you can get at Ikea.

And from the Department of Mad Science So Preposterous it Just Might Work comes the story of a high school student who rigged a camera and GPS transponder to a bunch of garbage bags, filled them with helium, and let them go. This is a really cool science project done on a tiny budget and with really fun results.


Science

Over at New Scientist is this awesome article, Sky survey maps distant universe in 3D. The universe isn’t shaped like you think it is, and now a group of researchers are working on building what is by far the highest-resolution map of the physical universe yet undertaken…in 3D!

The Department of Unclear on the Concept

It’s likely that most folks reading this are aware of the Occupy Wall Street movement. It’s kind of the flip side of the American Tea Party movement;. The Tea Party is a bunch of mostly middle-class people who love and cherish the superrich and believe that the superrich, being such wonderful people and all, should be exempt from paying the same tax that the working class pays and should otherwise be given all sorts of concessions so that they can make more money. The Occupy Wall Street folks, on the other hand, embrace the heretical notion that taxes on the superrich should be increased so that the very wealthiest people are paying sixty percent of the taxes that the middle class pays, instead of fifty percent of the taxes that the middle class pays…even if it means that some of the world’s richest people might have to postpone purchasing that five-million-dollar yacht for a few weeks because of it.

I’m generally sympathetic to the Occupy Wall Street protesters, though there’s at least one of them who simply doesn’t appear to Get It…nor to have a functioning sense of irony. He argues that the mainstream media lies or distorts truth to protect the interests of the wealthy and powerful, which it arguably does…so his response is to, err, do the same thing. And when he gets called on it over on TimParkinson.net, hilarity ensues. Read the comments to get the full effect; there’s even a followup here.

Linky-Links, Post-Frolicon Edition

I’m back from Frolicon and will be posting quite a bit about that, as well as urban spelunking, EEG orgasm studies, a couple of new bondage tutorials, and more on the MacWorld trip, a bit later. But while you’re waiting for all of that, I have about 60 browser windows open and my computer is running painfully slowly…so it’s time for the Post-Con Dump o’ Links!


Midway of the Absurd

First, we have Goodnight Dune, a parody of the children’s book Goodnight Moon. Anyone who loves the science fiction classic will quite like it. “And goodnight to the bene gesserit witch whispering ‘They tried and died’…”

And speaking of absurd wonders, you know steampunk has gone mainstream when people start making steampunk sex toys. That’s what you’ll find at Lady Clankington’s Cabinet of Carnal Curiosities — vibrators and paddles and more with a retro-steampunk flair. Nothing like a dildo that looks like a death ray, after all!

Over at Despair Inc, maker of demotivational posters, is this Adaptation poster: “The bad news is robots can do your job now. The good news is we’re now hiring robot repair technicians. The worse news is we’re working on robot-fixing robots–and we do not anticipate any further good news.”

An oldie but a goodie: Cave Man Science Fiction. “I am invent sharp rock to replace sharp stick!” “You go too far!”

From Gizmodo, This Terminator 2 cake is appropriate for almost no occasions. Well, that’s not entirely true–a Terminator going down into a pool of molten metal might be useful to datan0de

Combining support of legal euthanasia with love of extreme roller coasters, Deconcrete has an article about The Euthanasia Coaster, a roller coaster specifically designed to kill its riders.


Sex, Love, and Relationships

Psychology Today: Sexual Monogamy Does Not “Lead” To Happiness. A rebuttal to a New York Times article claiming that promiscuity leads to depression and sexual monogamy leads to happiness. (I could easily present myself as a counterexample to the NYT’s premise…)

On the sexual informatics front, OK Cupid, the folks who’ve given me several partners and done some serious data mining along the way, have done it again with 10 Charts About Sex, in which they plumb their formidable database for information about how likely a woman is to orgasm easily if she does or doesn’t exercise and the odds that someone enjoys oral, among other things.

Also from Psychology Today comes Open Marriage, Healthy Marriage? From the article, “Health and happiness are driven by growth, not stagnation. A healthy marriage is thus one that provides a stable, safe “home base” for each partner to venture out from, acquiring new experiences, and bringing them back home to digest and grow.”

News Review has an article about non-monogamy called Polyamory: Love, Multiplied, about a marriage counselor who deals with, among other things, polyamorous relationships. Overall a positive article, though the comments are about what you’d expect.

Video game maker Bioware releases a game called Dragon Age 2, in which player characters can become romantically involved, if they want to, with non-player-characters in all sorts of unconventional ways. When a straight male gamer complains about it being possible for his character to get hit on by a guy, Bioware tells him to shove off.


Rationality, Religion, and Atheism

A very interesting article over at Mother Jones explores the science of why we don’t believe science. Information by itself almost never changes attitudes.

On Thought Catalog, a Flowchart for How to Have a Rational Discussion. This should be required reading in every 4th-grade class. And 5th-grade class. And 6th and 7th and 8th…and once a year thereafter for life.

Someone has used Legos to create The Brick Testament — illustrated scenes from the Bible in the form of Lego dioramas. I particularly like the section called The Law, which outlines the Old Testament laws and rules. It answers pressing moral questions like When to Stone Your Whole Family, What Not to Eat, and what the Bible really says about religious tolerance.

From Epiphenomenon comes this article about the “atheists are greedy” trope, Atheists are Generous, They Just Don’t Give to Charity. Religious people overall are more likely to give to charity, presumably in hope of a supernatural reward–but atheistic societies are more likely to have strong social support systems.


Politics and Society

With the Republicans, who took a budget surplus and in eight years under George W. Bush turned it into a record-shattering deficit, call themselves “deficit hawks,” I tend to find myself laughing. These ‘tough on deficit’ conservatives claim to be trying to trim the budget, but as this chart shows, it’s more accurate to say they’re transferring wealth from the poor to the rich–in other words, new day, same old politics.

And speaking of the GOP, New Hampshire state Republican congressman Martin Harty says “the mentally ill, the retarded, people with physical disabilities and drug addictions” are “defective people society would be better off without.” His solution to the problem of “defective people?” Ship them to Siberia!

From AlterNet: We’re #1 — Ten Depressing Ways America Is Exceptional takes shots at some of our most cherished myths. For example: Economic mobility, contrary to American misconception, is worse in the US than in other industrialized nations.


Humor

Along the lines of “Goodnight Dune,” here’s a list of amusing sci-fi children’s books I’d like to see, such as The Battlestar Bears Learn About Cylons.

From The Onion comes this cautionary report: Marauding Gay Hordes Drag Thousands Of Helpless Citizens From Marriages After Obama Drops Defense Of Marriage Act. I guess the Gay Agenda was real after all!

Wouldn’t it be nice if God released patches for reality, to correct some of the more glaring errors? In these Patch Notes for reality version 2.1, we get to see some of the benefits of the new revision. For example, “Greenland and Iceland have had their names correctly swapped.”


Science and Technology

Ever notice how hard it is to break a bad habit? Some folks claim that’s because behaviors exhibit an ‘extinction burst’–they become stronger when you’re trying to get rid of them. Maybe the behaviorists had some good ideas after all.

Can you get something for nothing? talks about whether it is possible for anything to spontaneously appear out of nothing. Short answer: Yes, it is.

From Drugs.com, an article that says the placebo effect may work in reverse, too–if you are given a dose of a real medicine but told that it is a placebo, the real drug in some circumstances may be less effective.

A report about an article in Science Translational Medicine suggests that tiny “nanodiamonds” made of very small clusters of carbon atoms may be able to deliver chemotherapy drugs into cancer tumors efficiently and with few or no toxic side effects that often attend chemo. From the article: “When the nanodiamonds are washed in acid, their surfaces gain carboxyl groups and they become “sticky.” Small molecules like doxorubicin and large molecules like strands of genetic material can grab on. The nanodiamonds even stick to each other when they are attached to doxorubicin, forming clumps with drug-filled pockets. These clumps stick around in mice up to ten times longer than unbound doxorubicin and release their drugs in a slow, sustained way. Plus, chemo-resistant cancer cells have trouble expelling the doxorubicin-diamond complex.”

I’m always skeptical of evolutionary psychology to begin with, and this article about sexual selection and casual sex rubbishes one of the evo psych’s basic tenets: men are the pursuers and women are the gatekeepers of sex because women are looking for a mate who will help them raise babies, whereas men want to procreate as widely as possible. Contrary to the evo psych description of mating strategy, “Gender differences towards casual sex be damned. The extent to which women and men believed that the proposer would be sexually-skilled predicted how likely they would be to engage in casual sex with this individual.”

This guy is almost as obsessive as I am. When his workplace encountered a number of faulty Kingston flash memory cards, he discovered that they were counterfeit, probably made after hours at a Kingston plant from defective materials. He then bought a bunch of bogus memory cards, took them apart, and traced down where they came from. Interesting detective work and interesting reading.


Just plain fun

People on the first flight in to Virgin Atlantic’s new terminal in San Francisco got a surprise: they were escorted in by White Knight Two and SpaceShip Two. A passenger took some amazing footage on a video camera from the jet liner’s windows.

In the “Eastern Europe urban decay” theme, we have 25 Abandoned Yugoslavia Monuments that look like they’re from the Future. Amazing stuff.

Detroit in Ruins is a gorgeous photo essay showing that Eastern Europe hasn’t cornered the market on urban decay. The city of Detroit is home to some amazing ruin, and these pictures are absolutely gorgeous.

And finally, on Vimeo is a fantastic video of some VERY skilled skydivers using flightsuits to do some amazing low-level skimming along mountaintops.

Link o’ the Day: The Rapture

A Christian radio station says that the world will end on May 21, 2011; listeners quit their jobs to join caravans traveling across the country to warn people.

This is, apparently, the third time this particular radio station has announced the End of the World in the past twenty years or so. They obviously haven’t learned the lesson of the boy who cried wolf: never repeat the same lie twice.

I threw a party on a different End of the World day back in 1989. Maybe we should host another one on May 21. Who’s in?

Link o’ the Day: HIV Visualization

From the Russian company called Visual Science comes this absolutely stunning 3D visualization of the human immunodeficiency virus:

From the article on the Web site:

HIV virion is a roughly spherical particle with a diameter between 100 and 180 nm. Virion is surrounded by cell-derived lipid membrane containing surface proteins. Some of these proteins are products of viral genome (surface glycoprotein gp120/gp41) and others are captured from the host cell during viral budding (e.g. ICAM-1, HLA-DR1, CD55 and some others). The gp120/gp41 glycoprotein interacts with receptors on cell surface promoting fusion of virus and cell membranes. Other surface proteins found in HIV perform supporting functions. […]

The HIV genome is approximately 10000 nucleotides long and contains 9 genes, which encode 15 different proteins. The most important viral genes (open reading frames) are Gag, Pol and Env. Gag encodes the p55 protein, which is subsequently cut into structural proteins: MA, CA, NC and p6. Pol reading frame encodes integrase, protease, and reverse transcriptase. Env encodes the two subunits of the surface glycoprotein complex. Other genes (Tat, Rev, Vif, Vpr, Vpu and Nef) produce accessory proteins, which modulate host cell metabolism and facilitate different stages of HIV life cycle.

Click on the picture for a larger version and other visualizations showing different cross-sections of the virus.

Lots o’ Linky-Links: Bizarre Edition

I currently have about 40 windows open in my browser, some of which have been sitting there for nearly two months, so you all know what that means! Time for another list of links bringing you wonders beyond imagination from all around the Web.

From the Department of You Can’t Make That Shit Up

In the news from Miami last October, a call went out to a bomb squad to defuse a suspicious package full of kittens. From the story:

Employees at a Cocoa Beach Social Security office called 911 to report a “suspicious package” was left on their doorstep with no postage or address. […] A quick examination by the experts determined the box’s contents was about to explode – with cute and cuddliness. Inside were two kittens.

Soviet Russia was a weird, weird place. When they weren’t building nuclear-powered lighthouses, they were floating projects to dam the Bearing Strait and melt the polar ice cap, which is certainly one way to get a northern port that doesn’t freeze over in winter.

In Italy, the land of the Pope and expensive leather shoes, the High Court annulled a marriage because the wife thought about having sex with other people. Apparently, she wanted an open relationship, he didn’t but married her anyway, then sought an annulment some time later because he couldn’t come to terms with her desire to do the deed with other men. The Italian courts called it a “virtual” betrayal, as opposed presumably to a real one. Thoughtcrime can apparently be a civil offense too. Wonder if he ever thught about another woman?

Unclear on the Concept: In Tennessee, a US judge wrote that military service should be open to lesbians, “thus giving straight male GIs a fair shot at converting lesbians and bringing them into the mainstream.” This would not apply to gay men, who he wrote “spread disease at a rate out of all proportion to their numbers in our population and should be excluded from the military.”

And in more political nuttiness, the new US subcommittee chair on environmentalism, right-wing religious conservative John Shimkus, says that global warming can’t possibly be happening because it contradicts the Bible. His reasinong for believing that global warming (and any other form of environmentla distruction) can’t ever happen: “I want to start with Genesis:8, verse 21 and 22, ‘Never again will I curse the ground because of man even though every inclination of his heart is evil from childhood and never again will I destroy all living creatures as I have done. As long as the earth endures, sea, time and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night will never cease.’ I believe that’s the infallible word of God and that’s the way it’s going to be for his creation.”

Too Cool for Words

Tron: Legacy may have been a lame, half-assed attempt at a movie with dialog so astonishingly awful that Jeff Bridges actually wrinkled his nose while he was reciting some of his lines, but it gave birth to what is arguably one of the coolest things on the road: the street-legal lightcycle. This gorgeous piece of machinery comes complete with a helmet with cool light effects as well; here’s a picture:

I love urban decay. I love large-scale engineering projects. I love bizarre Russian cold-war excess. So it’s probably no surprise I’m a big fan of EnglishRussia, the Web site that dedicates itself to all things bizarrely Russian. One of my favorite EnglishRussia posts these days is this photo shoot of an old, abandoned Russian submarine base located in the Ukraine. If I ever make it back to Eastern Europe, I’d dearly love to see this place. (Also on EnglishRussia, the collection of Cold War military vehicles converted to tractors and construction equipment is pretty fun.)

Sex

It wouldn’t be a linky-links collection if it didn’t include sex. First up, for all you tentacle lovers out there, comes Necronomicox (link NSFW), customizable silicone sex toys inspired by the Cthulhu mythos. Cthluhu may be sleeping, but I’m coming!

In more technical news, it turns out that the pain centers in the brain are active during female orgasm. This handily explains why some forms of pain can enhance sexual gratification, and also shows just how complex the orgiastic response is.

And speaking of pain and sex, this article on non-consent and humiliation fetishes, excerpted from the book “Yes Means Yes,” is a good read. It talks about being both a feminist and a sexually submissive woman, something I’ve long said is not actually a contradiction at all.

Science and Technology

It still, to this day, blows my mind that people actually believe in homeopathy, the notion that water can somehow remember “mystical energy vibrations” from having things dissolved in it in such small concentrations that not even one atom of the supposed active ingredient is left in the “medicine.” According to this line of thought, if you have a headache you want to get rid of, take one aspirin, crush it into fine powder, dissolve one tiny speck of that powder in a bathtub full of water, and then take one drop of the resulting liquid, and that’ll fix you right up. This clever homeopathy vs. science metaphor nicely illuminates the silly reasoning–and I use that word very loosely–behind homeopathic “medicine.”

Research into schizophrenia is starting to suggest that a viral infection early in life, during a critical period of brain development, may be linked to schizophrenia later in life. This so-called “insanity virus,” or other viral infections which disrupt brain development, may be linked to other types of mental illness as well.

From Information Is Beautiful, which has linked to some of my sexual infographics in the past, comes this interactive Mountains out of Molehills chart showing the things we’re afraid of, extracted from media scare stories about various purported threats. The relationship between the level of danger (in terms of number of lives lost) and the level of fear is really interesting; people are about as scared of bird flu (which kills less than 300 people a year) as they are of swine flu (which kills 18,000), but are barely even aware of killer wasps, which kill 11,000 people a year.

Something that I’ve dreamed about for years is now one step closer to reality: flexible subdermal LEDs that can be implanted under the skin. Forget boring old-tech static tattoos; give me glowing tattoos, oh yeah! Though I think I’ll wait for the 2.0 version, myself.

Just For Fun

I’m Comic Sans, Asshole — a spirited defense of this much-maligned typeface that it’s so trendy to hate.