Some day a very clever program will be searching the archives of the Internet for irony and it will highlight this post.
I rose from bed on Christmas day
Anxiously awaiting my time to play
But before I showered, I gazed at our tree
With bright fiber optics and blinking LEDs
I washed and wondered what my gifts would comprise
And could hardly wait for my wife to rise
Mere moments later we were sitting together
Exchanging presents while we wondered at the weather
It was severe thunderstorms this Christmas morning
Even stranger than that: A tornado warning!
In spite of the weather’s curious condition
I postured myself in an unwrapping position
As the lightning crashed with bursts of thunder
I ripped and tore the wrapping asunder
Of the gadgets and gizmos that lay in my wake
There were two items of interest, electronics from Make
I placed them aside to assemble them later
For I had other tasks to perform, their priority greater
When the house was cleaned and my errands were done
I placed a table by the couch and began my fun
With my implements assembled and a soldering bit
I started to build my electronic game kit
I soldered resistors, capacitors, and more
An intimidating task, but not quite hardcore
When I completed the work my spine felt a chill
For I’m new to this hobby and didn’t trust my skill
But my fear was lifted and my heart filled with joy
When I turned on the replica of an old 80s toy
Its blinking and bleeping had my attention perked
I was slightly astonished and amazed that it worked
A game round or two later I desired to make more
So I started the other item I got from the Make store
I could tell right away this was a more difficult task
For the PCB was smaller and tighter than the last
Testing what I learned from my previous construction
I placed components on the board without any instruction
When I checked my work against the instructional site
I grinned with satisfaction and soldered with delight
As I was examining the instructions for some placement help
My pinky brushed the soldering iron and I let out a yelp
A short while later while wondering if I screwed up
I threw the “on” switch and the device lit up
Amazed and surprised that my soldering was fine
I waved the device in a mirror and it read, “MakeZine”
Satisfied and happy that everything went right
I decided to hit the sack and call it a night
Update: This post was linked from Make Magazine’s Blog!
This is so neat:
“Stephen Juan, an anthropologist from the University of Sydney answers Lee Staniforth of Manchester, UK question, “Do humans have a compass in their nose?” He writes about some scientists at California Institute of Technology discovered that humans possess a tiny, shiny crystal of magnetite in the ethmoid bone (pink bone to the image on your right), located between your eyes, just behind the nose…”
Before you go spewing this out as a new fact of science, do note that the original research has yet to be sourced… But it does make sense. Humans migrate a hell of a lot more the your typical primate.
My wildly speculative theory is that one of the reasons why homo sapiens migrated so wide and so far is partly because we lost the ability to actually use our built-in compass. A typical migration pattern follows seasons and/or food. If some of our ancestors were born without the innate ability to navigate properly, it would explain why we moved all over the place without regard to the “comfort level” of the areas we settled in. If a tribe of “odd wanderers” trounced off into a hard-to-live area, you’d expect only the cleverest of the “navigationally-challenged” to survive.
Alternatively, it could be even simpler: Being born without a working compass, you must use your brain (as opposed to just your head =) to navigate. It could just be that the reason why our magnetite compasses don’t work is because our frontal lobes grew too big and encroached on that function.
Regardless of the how and why, this discovery explains why men refuse to ask for directions and women rely on landmarks to navigate: Men could have an instinct for self-navigation that doesn’t work (anymore) and women, also lacking a compass and being constantly dragged to all ends of the earth by their navigationally-challenged men, had to rely on their memories.
I just read a most interesting article at the Scientific American website. A recent study reveals that declaring a species as rare (i.e. putting it on the endangered species list) can create an economic “extinction vortex” whereby the price of the animal increases at a rate linked with its decreasing populations (scarce goods = higher price = more reward for those who can obtain them). This kind of economic situation eventually leads to extinction of the species in question.
Since extinction of a species is bad for biodiversity (a fact), and decreasing biodiversity is bad for the environment (another fact), an economic “extinction vortex” is bad for all of us. Furthermore; since the only way (that I can see) to stop an extinction vortex would be to institute powerful authoritarian protection mechanisms (tough government regulations), it seems that the loss of some freedom (to hunt the species) wins out in the long run as the most beneficial course of action. Presumably, if the regulation works, the freedom to hunt can resume after the species regains a healthy sustainability.
It is common for libertarians (and minarchists) to argue that a land owner has an economic interest in preserving the animals on their property and therefore; privatizing all land is the best way to prevent species extinction. Clearly, the truth is just the opposite… There is always a pressing economic incentive to keep hunting a species—even until extinction—so protecting land and species by way of regulation is much more effective.
One could argue that after some people learn this lesson the hard way, privatized land owners would shape up. The problem with this idea is that once a species is gone, it is gone forever. Also, the lesson of conservation throughout history is that those who have a short-term incentive to not conserve will always refuse to do so. As Upton Sinclair wrote, “It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it.”
Ultimately, believing that all regulations or restrictions on trade are bad, is foolish.