Studying our zigzags

Studying the zigzag

Did you know some folks study the physics of walking?

Gilks and Hague have been studying the Active Walking Model and noticed a flaw.

(Submitted on 8 Dec 2008)

Abstract: We extend the active walker model to address the formation of paths on gradients, which have been observed to have a zigzag form. Our extension includes a new rule to simulate an aversion to falling, which prohibits direct descent or ascent on steep inclines.

Yes. The zigzag is now included in the Active Walking Model.

While zigzagging along the Internet, I noticed this grand addition to physics at Paul Kedrowky’s blog:

I’m fascinated by active walking models — how unconscious patterns emerge from people’s trail-use. There are many famous examples, some anecdotal, some research-driven (here and here), but they all share the characteristic patterns, with people demonstrating walking inertia, following paths of least resistance, etc. There, of course, some differences when walking on gradients.

People tend to want to walk in zigzags…

Walking in zigzags

Poop Police

Is your neighborhood using?

Researchers from Oregon State University and the University of Washington have devised technology that analyzes what’s been flushed down the toilet to measure how many speed freaks and coke heads you’ve got living down the street.

[Scientific American]

Brain Pixels

No one can hide. The Pulpits of the Helliban shall tell on you, fornicator.

Dust off the Tin Foil hat. Machines can now see what you see and know what you imagine. Yes, it is now possible to capture and display what’s going on your head by mapping cerebral blood flow in the visual cortex.

Soon to be published in the journal Neuron, Japan’s ATR Computational Neuroscience Laboratories have developed new brain analysis technology that can reconstruct the images inside a person’s mind and display them on a computer monitor.

  1. The technology may soon make it possible to view other people’s dreams while they sleep.
  2. “In as little as 10 years, advances in this field of research may make it possible to read a person’s thoughts with some degree of accuracy”, says Dr. Cheng.
  3. Kamitani says, “This technology can also be applied to senses other than vision. In the future, it may also become possible to read feelings and complicated emotional states.”

images inside the mind

What are Russians saying?

After the break up of USSR, to today’s rapid deterioration, what are Russians saying about economics and the rich?

  1. “Oligarchy is a merger of the authorities and big business, corruption. Putin and his henchmen ARE such oligarchs, who have illegally seized power and violate justice with impunity — they indulge in bald robbery, extortion, unlawful persecution and so on.”
  2. “Oligarchy is the usurpation of power (in our case monopolization of resources) in order to please foreign patrons. Oligarchy sprang up thanks to the ‘liberal’ reforms imposed on us by Washington.”
  3. “The very existence of oligarchs is a slap in the face of all honest people in our country. The quicker they are imprisoned, the better.”
  4. “As for ‘greater efficiency’ of private owners — if they rob the country — maybe it is better for this robbing to be ‘less efficient’? In fact, for so many years of the ‘free market,’ so much of the old has been stolen and so little new has been created.”

A bit more here, collected from the Moscow Times.

Kicked in the groin

Beach Sand Erosion on Plum IslandThere’s something of the Bible in this photo – the parable of a house built on sand….

The Atlantic seaboard moves billions of tons of sand north and south in bars and humps carved by waves and currents. And over many decades, hundreds of jetty, groin and dredging projects have kept the sand where we want it.

It’s worked so far. For years, lots have been sold and banks have been happy to offer mortgages. The Army Corps of Engineers have built jetties to keep sand out of rivers for boats and fishing and built groin to trap sand along the coastline. But the jetties and groins are breaking down.

What’s a groin?
Sometimes the term jetty is misused. You see, many times people point to a jetty but they’re really pointing to a groin. A Jetty is a structure used at an inlet or to keep sand from flowing into a ship channel. A Groin is a wall built perpendicular to the shoreline that traps sand to keep the beach – to keep the sand under the house.

When a groin breaks down, the sand moves away and the coastline erodes. Massive sand humps are moving several hundred yards into the ocean. In this case, according to the Newburyport News, sand coming down the Merrimack River is no longer trapped and is being washed away. Tides are pushing water up and down the river, and the sand is migrating along the coast in a series of sand bars, basically sand humps that run roughly parallel to the shore deposited by Atlantic currents. The sand is migrating away.

Kicked in the groin
“I’m homeless. I have no home,” said Geraldine Buzotta, 78, who had lived in the home for 43 years.

The locals have had no luck convincing Congress to repair the groin. The Army Corps of Engineers has no money saying there are no funds in Washington.

Sand can be managed when the projects are funded. As times goes on and codes improve, of course we shouldn’t build on sand, but while we’re trading away huge tables of gold in Washington, who’s getting the money? That’s a story in the Bible too.

To do with justice

In defense of defending.

Jacques Vergès, defender of war criminals.

“If you meet a doctor who cannot look at blood, pus or open wounds, he is in the wrong profession. If you meet a lawyer who doesn’t like criminals or dictators, it’s the same thing.”

“I believe that everyone, no matter what he may have done, has the right to a fair trial. The public is always quick to assign the label of “monster.” But monsters do not exist, just as there is no such thing as absolute evil. My clients are human beings, people with two eyes, two hands, a gender and emotions. That’s what makes them so sinister.”

“The interesting thing about my clients is discovering what brings them to do these horrific things. My ambition is to illuminate the path that led them to commit these acts.”



More on peccadillo, criticizing each other for too small things.

Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack, a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in.

snowflakes begin

embryonic snowflake growing on the end of an ice needle. A crystal forms before a flake.

Kenneth Libbrecht of CalTech designed a snowflake photomicroscope – a snowflake incubation chamber – to study the tiny, frozen crystals that normally would melt in a millisecond outside his lab.

Dogs know what’s fair

AP Science Writer Randolph E. Schmid wired this report showing that dogs have sense of fairness.

Dogs sense what's fair“Animals react to inequity,” said Friederike Range of the University of Vienna, Austria, who lead a team of researchers testing animals at the school’s Clever Dog Lab. “To avoid stress, we should try to avoid treating them differently.”

“The photo from the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences shows the subject has not received food for giving the paw in the last trials and observing that the partner did receive food, the subject is refusing to give the paw and avoids looking at the experimenter.

No fair!

“What parent hasn’t heard that from a child who thinks another youngster got more of something.

“Well, it turns out dogs can react the same way. Ask them to do a trick and they’ll give it a try. For a reward, sausage say, they’ll happily keep at it. But if one dog gets no reward, and then sees another get sausage for doing the same trick, just try to get the first one to do it again.”

Trickery, Flattery, or the like

…the use of deceptive statistics has convinced many Americans that the U.S. economy is stronger, fairer, more productive, more dominant, and richer with opportunity than it actually is.

Some say numbers hurt some people and help others.

…corruption has tainted the very measures of the economy

The truth, though it would not exactly set Americans free, would at least open a window to wider economic and political understanding.

Readers should ask themselves how much angrier the electorate might be if the media, over the past five years, had been citing 8 percent unemployment (instead of 5 percent), 5 percent inflation (instead of 2 percent), and average annual growth in the 1 percent range (instead of the 3–4 percent range).

We might ponder as well who profits from a low-growth U.S. economy hidden under statistical camouflage. Might it be Washington politicos and affluent elites, anxious to mislead voters, coddle the financial markets, and tamp down expensive cost-of-living increases for wages and pensions?

From good ol’ Kevin Phillips: How we’ve been bamboozled with numbers.
[tip Justin Gardner [search at]]

The Peak of Other Oil

Aeolus, king of the winds

Aeolus, king of the winds, lives in a magical place, a place where his free spirit can dwell. There, you can live in the shadow of a double emotion: feeling the fire under your feet and the sky above your thoughts.

From Alex Renton at Olives 101, “Oil pressed from the first green olives is a taste like no other. You wouldn’t put it in your mouth if it wasn’t so reassuringly expensive. …”

Measuring Bush

There’s a lot being said, and felt in the guts, while ending the ideological and greedy era of the Republicans and G. W. Bush. ProPublica has started to publish the numbers.

It’s an ongoing project. ProPublica is an independent, non-profit newsroom that produces investigative journalism in the public interest. To help build citizen journalism, when you see another pertinent set of numbers, please remember to pass them to ProPublica.

Bush By The Numbers

Bush statistics Bush statistics

Punishing Not Required

New Orleans goes on but is far from over. Food prices and economic turmoil, like we needed that, have pushed the number of hungry to almost 1 billion, a 7th.

The State of Food Insecurity in the World 2008.

For millions of people in developing countries, eating the minimum amount of food every day to live an active and healthy life is a distant dream. The structural problems of hunger, like the lack of access to land, credit and employment, combined with high food prices remain a dire reality.

But, but, oh, the banks, the cars, portents and war.

As we leap we weep.
Damn rush to nonsense.
Noisy pulpits uppermost.

Oops, my incongruity misaligns.


Ed Ring at EcoWorld goes around a few numbers.

There are going to eventually be not quite 10.0 billion people living on earth.

Currently in the U.S., each person consumes about 350 million BTUs of energy per year. In the European Union each person consumes about 250 million BTUs of energy per year. If there were 10 billion people on earth, each consuming on average only 100 million BTUs of energy per year, we would still have to double energy production on the planet, from 500 quadrillion BTUs per year to 1,000 quadrillion BTUs per year.

The point remains inescapable – energy production worldwide is going to need to increase significantly.

He continues:

Our position is we should use those trillions to build roads, hospitals, power plants, reforestation, aquifer replenishment, and medical (and other scientific) research.

We should nurture free trade, free markets, and entrepreneurship.

We should deliver to humanity the universal prosperity that is the destiny of our generation.

Then by sometime between 2025 and 2050, we will have created economic abundance, we will have advanced technology, and we will be well positioned to handle whatever the climate may throw at us.

In other words, ecologically speaking, what’s the market for a 1,000 quadrillion divided by 10 billion by 2025?

Better than Beliefs

Watch for it.
Require more.

And, as Frank Langella of the “Frost/Nixon” film said to Charlie Rose, we can loosen up judging each other’s peccadillo. It’s not so important to rant about small things in each of us always.

Let’s be certain and clear about who’s ripping us off. We can do that. After all, it’s not the judgment that hurts. It’s the sentencing.

Fool’s Roost

Wrecked America discovers stupid is infinite.

Stephen Johnson, head of the Environmental Protection Agency, is a creationist.

A Philadelphia Inquirer profile of EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson this weekend reveals that the chief steward of our environmental protection is unwilling – or unable – to separate religion from science.

The Wonk Room’s Brad Johnson notes that, when questioned by reporters, Stephen Johnson admitted he does not see a “clean-cut division” between the two:

“It’s not a clean-cut division. If you have studied at all creationism vs. evolution, there’s theistic or God-controlled evolution and there’s variations on all those themes.”

Philadelphia Inquirer article: An Eroding Mission at EPA.

J-Walk points out “Johnson’s approach at the EPA has been marked by putting his faith in corporate polluters.”

Next Generation Firefighting

Low cost firefightingTimes are tough. Cities are broke.

With that in mind, Congress and the new automobile czar are requiring Detroit’s Big Three to offer lower cost and environmentally prudent public safety equipment.

“We know we’ve been late to the game,” said a manufacturer’s representative in Washington, “But we’re hoping the American people will see our deep commitment to respond positively and quickly to market conditions.”

Undaunting Comes First

Gary Maxwell wonders if it’s true that we can’t overcome the daunting challenges we face because we have pissed away the cash and credit needed to solve them.

Over a trillion dollars squandered on the Iraq and Wall Street misadventures. Why, with a trillion dollars, we could:

  • Provide health care to everyone in the USA
  • Educate all of our children and provide activities for them while their parents work
  • Transform our society and economy to be sustainable
  • Rebuild our infrastructure for the 21st century
  • Fund a Manhattan Project to mitigate the climate problem

But, who am I to whine over squandered opportunities?

The list goes on….

The next Google?

emergic by

I wrote this post about a year-and-a-half ago. In it, I described my vision of the world to come in the form of the shifts that are happening:

Behind the PC to Mobile shift, there are four key elements to my philosophy about this ‘Emerging’ Internet that I want to elaborate on in this Tech Talk. First, even as the PC Internet has been wonderful in helping us navigate the Reference Web, it is the mobile Internet will help us build sensors into the Live Web. Second, what search was to the PC Internet, subscriptions will be to the mobile Internet. Third, advertising as the dominant business model on the Internet will give way to “invertising” on mobiles. Finally, this new world will first be visible in emerging markets like India – and in this new world will rise the next Google.

Starting at Daunting

Can he fix entire economies? The world?

There is one thing the new president must do.

Never again can unrestrained capitalism be permitted to hold the country, indeed the world, ransom to the ability of thieves in three-piece suits to plunder without consequences. After the 1929 crash, FDR faced the same situation. The capitalist establishment pleaded with him that they could police themselves. Roosevelt knew better and put one of the bandits, Joseph Kennedy (father of) in charge of the new Securities Exchange Commission, saying he was “setting a thief to catch a thief.”

Surely now that we’ve seen the Savings & Loan scandals, the Enron scam, the collapse of banks one thought of as impregnable, and the stock market crash, we’re ready for some real rules in the investment world, with the government an active policemen, and laws, which if broken, result not in bonuses but time behind bars.

No man has come to the White House with the array of problems domestic and foreign as has Barack Obama.

We know he can speak and inspire people.

Obviously he knows how to command loyalty.

Let’s hope and pray he can also fix economies and, indeed, the world.

Rafe Mair is a Canadian leader and retired politician, at one time head of Vancouver’s upstart stock exchange.

A new experience

A routine interview and merely thoughtful replies. Get used to it.

CNN synopsis, or the entire video interview at Meet The Press.

“We are not going to simply write a bunch of checks and let them be spent without some very clear criteria as to how this money is going to benefit the overall economy and put people back to work. We’re not going to be making decisions on projects simply based on politics and — and lobbying.”

On the other hand, we’re still accustomed to Bush and the corruption of an era:

Nearly $8 trillion in federal commitments is already out the door, and half of the $700 billion October rescue package has been spent.

The economic downturn is accelerating.

And nobody is really in charge.

Among a lame-duck Bush administration, a lame-duck Congress, and a president-elect, Barack Obama, who has no legal authority to act and is reluctant to get entangled with the Bush team, Washington’s political vacuum has left policy adrift at the most critical economic period in a generation.

Managing Tolerance

American car company to Japanese supplier, “I want 10,000 of these brake systems delivered by next month, and only 1.5% can be defective.”

Japanese supplier to American car company, “Here are your brake systems. We have no idea why you would want 1.5% defective units, but for your convenience, we’ve packaged them separately.”

[in comments]