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All the Science Fiction and Fantasy TV to Watch (or Avoid) This Summer

io9
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When summer comes, it brings with it lazy days in the sun and kids free of school. It also brings a slew of TV shows, perfect for watching when it’s too hot to leave the air conditioning (which is most of the time). Here’s the io9 guide to everything our beloved nerdy genres are putting up this year.

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wmorrell
4 days ago
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The Tick, August 25th!
WorldMaker
3 days ago
Spoon!
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RIP Robert M. Pirsig, author of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

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"The truth knocks on the door and you say, ‘Go away, I’m looking for the truth,’ and so it goes away. Puzzling." -- Robert M. Pirsig

I was saddened to learn that Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance author Robert M. Pirsig died today at the age of 88.

I read the pop philosophy treatise Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance in college and thought it was the greatest book ever. I read it again 15 years later and didn't get as much out of it the second time around. It's been another 15 years since I re-read it and I no longer remember why I had those opinions (I have a lousy memory when it comes to books and movies). I think I should give it another try and see what my current nervous system thinks of his exploration into the nature of quality.

One thing is for certain, the title of the book is one of the best ever (and has been imitated ever since the book came out in 1974), and the paperback cover design is absolutely iconic. [caption id="attachment_520971" align="alignnone" width="680"] Author Robert Pirsig and his son Chris in 1968. Pirsig, who wrote Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, died Monday at age 88. William Morrow/HarperCollins[/caption]

From NPR:

Zen was published in 1974, after being rejected by 121 publishing houses. "The book is brilliant beyond belief," wrote Morrow editor James Landis before publication. "It is probably a work of genius and will, I'll wager, attain classic status."

Indeed, the book quickly became a best-seller, and has proved enduring as a work of popular philosophy. A 1968 motorcycle trip across the West with his son Christopher was Pirsig's inspiration.

Christopher Lehmann-Haupt reviewed Zen for The New York Times in 1974. "[H]owever impressive are the seductive powers with which Mr. Pirsig engages us in his motorcycle trip, they are nothing compared to the skill with which he interests us in his philosophic trip," he writes. "Mr. Pirsig may sometimes appear to be a greener‐America proselytizer, with his beard and his motorcycle tripping and his talk about learning to love technology. But when he comes to grips with the hard philosophical conundrums raised by the 1960's, he can be electrifying."

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wmorrell
4 days ago
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«I read the pop philosophy treatise Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance in college and thought it was the greatest book ever. I read it again 15 years later and didn't get as much out of it the second time around.» Now I am afraid to re-read and get a book visited by the Suck Fairy instead of the one I loved as a freshman.
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Preemie lambs successfully grown to term in artificial wombs

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Artificial Womb

Researchers at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia have succeeded in gestating premature lambs in artificial wombs. The abstract from the paper in Nature Communications:

In the developed world, extreme prematurity is the leading cause of neonatal mortality and morbidity due to a combination of organ immaturity and iatrogenic injury. Until now, efforts to extend gestation using extracorporeal systems have achieved limited success. Here we report the development of a system that incorporates a pumpless oxygenator circuit connected to the fetus of a lamb via an umbilical cord interface that is maintained within a closed ‘amniotic fluid’ circuit that closely reproduces the environment of the womb. We show that fetal lambs that are developmentally equivalent to the extreme premature human infant can be physiologically supported in this extra-uterine device for up to 4 weeks. Lambs on support maintain stable haemodynamics, have normal blood gas and oxygenation parameters and maintain patency of the fetal circulation. With appropriate nutritional support, lambs on the system demonstrate normal somatic growth, lung maturation and brain growth and myelination.

The Atlantic’s Olga Khazan translates what that might mean for human babies born prematurely.

One reason preterm birth is so dangerous is that, for an underweight baby, the first few breaths of air halt the development of the lungs. “Infants that are currently born and supported in a neonatal intensive care unit with gas-based ventilation demonstrate an arrest of lung development,” Partridge says, “which manifests in a long-term, severe restriction of lung function.”

With the artificial womb, the infant would continue “breathing” through the umbilical cord as its floats in amniotic fluid, which would flow into and out of the bag. Using its tiny heart, the fetus would pump its own blood through its umbilical cord and into an oxygenator, where the blood would pick up oxygen and return it to the fetus-much like with a normal placenta. In addition to boosting lung growth, the amniotic fluid would protect the baby from infections and support the development of the intestines.

If this does work for humans, there’s a possibility that at some point using artificial wombs may be safer (or just preferable for some people) than women carrying babies to term…which would have an interesting effect on childbirth (to say the least). And as Khazan mentions, there are potential implications related to abortion rights:

If they ever materialize, artificial wombs may stir concerns among pro-choice advocates, since the devices could push the point of viability for human fetuses even lower. That might encourage even more states to curtail abortions after, say, 20 weeks’ gestation. But speaking with reporters Monday, the Philadelphia researchers emphasized they don’t intend to expand the bounds of life before the 23rd gestational week. Before that point, fetuses are too fragile even for the artificial wombs.

Tags: abortion   Olga Khazan   science
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wmorrell
4 days ago
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Bujold worlds coming to reality.
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1 public comment
leiter420
3 days ago
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It looks freeze dried

DON’T deep fry gnocchi

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If you’re like me from three minutes ago and you’ve never seen this video but want to laugh really hard, push play on this little number. You can safely skip ahead to about 0:33…that’s when the action starts.

P.S. Yo Kenji! Why does the gnocchi do that?! (via @essl)

Update: I have not gotten an answer from Kenji yet (to be fair, he just became a father), but the consensus on Twitter is gnocchi and popcorn share some similarities. I will let John Vermylen, who is a Stanford PhD and also runs the pasta company Zerega, explain:

Hydrated starch on gnocchi exterior gelatinizes with temp, forming impervious barrier. Temp builds up inside. Water tries to boil as temp rises, but can’t turn to steam due to barrier. So pressure builds up, which pushes against wall of gnocchi. Eventually high pressure forces crack in that wall, which leads to pressure drop and instant flash off of high temp water to steam.

There’s an opportunity here to make crispy popcorn gnocchi…which brave chef will take up the challenge?

Tags: food   funny   how to   John Vermylen   video
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wmorrell
4 days ago
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Must-Read: There were three good reasons in the mid-2000s to believe that housin...

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Must-Read: There were three good reasons in the mid-2000s to believe that housing prices should jump substantially. The coming of secular stagnation—then called the "global savings glut"—greatly boosted demand by boosting how much households could afford to pay for America. The filling-up of America restricted supply: first cars and superhighways had meant that for nearly three generations there were greenfield potential housing sites within thirty minutes of everywhere, but that ended with the twentieth century. At some point the anti-global warming carbon tax will come, and when it does auto transportation will become much more expensive and that will tilt the location price gradient. How much were these worth? Not enough to boost housing prices to their 2005 values. But plausibly enough to boost housing prices to their values today. IMHO, the best way to view the graph is as a positive "displacement" boom caused by true fundamentals, a bubble upward overshoot, a crash downward undershoot, and now (we hope) equilibrium:

Kevin Drum: We're Now In the Second Biggest Housing Boom of All Time: "The most remarkable feature of this chart... http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2017/04/were-now-second-biggest-housing-boom-all-time

We re Now In the Second Biggest Housing Boom of All Time Mother Jones

Must-Read: Kevin Drum: We're Now In the Second Biggest Housing Boom of All Time: "The most remarkable feature of this chart... http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2017/04/were-now-second-biggest-housing-boom-all-time

We re Now In the Second Biggest Housing Boom of All Time Mother Jones

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wmorrell
7 days ago
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U.S. Border Guards Refuse Entry To Canadian Comics Artist Headed for C2E2

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Gisele Lagace, a Canadian webcomic artist who also has worked on Archie, Betty Boop and Jem and the Holograms comics, told Facebook readers she was turned back from the U.S. border on her way to appear in Artists Alley at … Continue reading
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wmorrell
8 days ago
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Guards probably gave her more hassle because of the content of her sketches, and they wanted to "confiscate" some of the more suggestive pieces. CBP just another gang of thugs.
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