Super-fast evolution: new species in just 6,000 years

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According to a recent story in Science Daily, new species of sea stars may have arisen in as little a time as 6,000 years. Researchers studied the diversity in DNA sequences from sea stars of two related species to estimate how long it has been since the two species diverged. Their results showed a range from roughly 6,000 to 22,000 years ago. That rules out some ways new species could evolve. For example, they clearly did not diverge slowly with genetic changes over a long … click below for more ↓

The rise of the tenor guitar

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Tenor guitars have been around since the 1930s, possibly a few years earlier*, but they’ve never had a big following compared with six-string guitars. That seems to be changing, and I suspect it’s in part due to the incredible popularity of that other four-string guitar derivative: the ukulele. In the past six-twelve months, I’ve been seeing more tenor guitars on the Net, including several new custom tenor guitars made by talented luthiers. New sites about tenor guitars have sprung up, too. Both new and vintage … click below for more ↓

Yet More Quotes with False Attributions

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It seems a good week for mis-attributed Francis of Assisi quotes. Someone on Facebook posted an image with the following quote: “He who works with his hands is a laborer. He who works with his hands and his head is a craftsman. He who works with his hands and his head and his heart is an artist. St. Francis of Assisi” That’s simply “Francis of “Assisi” for the non-Catholics among us, of course. But even without the questionable transformation of mortal flesh into an immortal, … click below for more ↓

And again, more mis-attributed quotes online

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“It’s easier to fool people than to convince them they have been fooled.” Allegedly by Mark Twain, but unlikely, and not found in any published source I have of Twain’s quotations. Online sources, of course, don’t count as authorities because they lack all credibility. As one person commented on Yahoo, The fact that “Quora attributes it to him” is worthless. Quora is yet another one of those idiotic “quote websites” that misquote and misattribute things all the time. Note that Quora doesn’t bother to give … click below for more ↓

The Oldest Art: 40,800 Years Ago

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Paleolithic paintings in El Castillo cave in Northern Spain date back at least 40,800 years — making them Europe’s oldest known cave art, according to new research published June 14 in Science. That’s the lead to a fascinating story about the origins of art. Cave art seems to have been practiced 10,000 years earlier than previously thought. That age could make the artists either the first modern humans or even Neanderthals. That latter possibility is pretty exciting. We know from burials found in the Middle … click below for more ↓

The Decline of Information Quality

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I’ve been troubled the last year or so by the increasing amount of trivial crap that is being presented on media sites as news, rather than what it really is: shallow gossip, pseudoscience, trivia, anecdote, voyeurism and personal experience. As titillating as some glitterati’s wardrobe malfunction might be, it is not front page news. In fact, it isn’t worthy of the description news even when relegated to a more appropriate location, buried deep inside the site. Gossip belongs with the horoscope, cartoons and word-search puzzles. … click below for more ↓

Verify Source Before You Post

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I recently joined a small but dedicated group on Facebook. It’s called “Verify Source Before You Post.” Every reader of this blog and my older Mumpsimus Blog will recognize this as a favorite topic of mine. I’ve written perhaps a dozen posts over the last five years trying to correct numerous bad quotes or mis-attributions. It’s a losing battle, it seems. When I say small, it is, by FB standards, tiny: 17 members right now. But that will, I hope, grow as time progresses. Surely … click below for more ↓

More Facebook Mis-quotes

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Saw three images (“posters”) on Facebook today with “quotes” I’m pretty sure are mis-attributions. As usual, I feel compelled to check out their validity. First is one allegedly by “St. Francis of Assisi.” This would be simply “Francis of Assisi” if you’re not Catholic or don’t believe in saints or canonization. One day I’ll post a blog piece about canonization and its politics, but not now. The quote is: “What we are looking for… is what is looking.” That seems one of those gooey, touchy-feely … click below for more ↓

Diablo III: Hype or Gaming Excellence?

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The hype was huge and long. Diablo III was rumored, hinted at, promised, delayed, and even denied for years. Then it was embraced when it finally arrived after more than a decade’s hibernation since the success of Diablo II, released in 2000 (and 16 years since the original, released in 1996). Good technique for raking in the money: the anticipation meant huge sales initially. The spammers love it, of course, because it provides a wonderful, accessible platform for scams through its live in-game chat system … click below for more ↓

Patronage: Canada’s Shame

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Patronage is the dirty secret behind most nations and governments. It’s a shameful, embarrassing, corrupt and very undemocratic practice in which friends, supporters and benefactors get plum contracts, jobs, appointments, cash, perks and bonuses. These are usually parcelled out not on the basis of achievement, ability, or talent, but rather simply because of political cronyism. Canada is no better, and probably somewhat worse than most Western nations in how its governments practice this loathsome act of onanistic rewards. But unlike many more democratic nations, Canada … click below for more ↓

The Tin-Foil Hat Brigade in the Lab

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You have to admire science. Nothing is beneath its inquiring eye. When I read that students at Berkley U had seriously investigated the nature of the ubiquitous-in-the-wingnut-community tin foil hats, I had to smile. Once again, science saves the day. Bad news for the wingnuts. While research didn’t prove tin foil hats will stop the aliens from eating your brain, it did suggest that the hats may amplify certain frequencies that may be in the control of either governments or corporate interests. According to the … click below for more ↓

A Pyramid Hoax Reappears on Facebook

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This Facebook headline caught my skeptic’s eye right away: “Energy beam coming from the Bosnian Pyramid of the Sun.” After I finished guffawing at the gullibility of some folks, I decided to spend a little time researching how widespread this silliness had become. As expected, and sad to relate, it was all over the Net. Seems every psychic-New-Age-crystal-therapy-astrology-aura-UFO-conspiracy-theory-Atlantis-Elvis-is-alive obsessed wingnut site has repeated the claims, usually copying and pasting them directly from the original source without even bothering to investigate the claims: A team of … click below for more ↓

Dogs and dog owners need places to socialize

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How many dogs live here in Collingwood? No one knows for sure, but we can make some good estimates, based on numerous surveys and national statistics. It’s a lot. Dog owners are a very large special interest group, perhaps larger than any other demographic group in town. I’ve done some research and read many studies on pet populations done since 1996 (like this one from 2001 and this one from 2007). All of the major census figures of the older surveys are consistent with the … click below for more ↓

Digital Connections is in print

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Municipal World has released my newest book: Digital Connections. It came out this week. This book is about the benefits and challenges of using social media for municipalities and municipal politicians. The target audience is politicians, staff, boards and committees, but a lot of what I wrote can apply to anyone in business or industry. The sell sheet says: Social media: everyone’s using it today. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, blogs, and photo/video sharing sites. These and other services have literally hundreds of millions of users. … click below for more ↓

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