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Showing posts from July, 2011

Ants and the Dinosaurs?

I was listening to NPR the other day and there was a guy talking about the importance of ants. It had never occurred to me how important they are (and how little known they are). One point stuck in my head as evolutionary important in the rise of flowering plants. Ants break down animals, plants and insect matter very quickly into smaller bits. Bits that are full of the nutrition trees need to grow. Additionally their colonies break up the earth, in a way terra-forming the land.

I don't know if you're ever looked at the ground on a pine forest and a rain forest like I have, but they are very different. Pines, which shoot more or less straight up, do not much alter the surface of the ground around them, while flowering trees will litter the ground with soft flower matter, fruits and likely leaves too (there are some ever green flower trees but most are deciduous, that is they loose their leaves). Here think the difference between pine growth and tropical tree growth is importan…

A potato pan washer?

I just read a tip to clean a cast iron pan with a cut potato. I can't wait to try it. 
Here are the links to the tip and how to season a cast iron pan, another thing I'd been wondering how to do.

How To Clean Cast Iron Cookware
How To Season Cast Iron Cookware
I have two cast iron pans. One a grill pan with iron from China and another a small pan from America, both weigh about the same even though the grill pan is bigger (it's also thinner). The grill pan is great because it warms up quicker, but it's full of rust now. Cleaning it with steel wool is a pain an it never seem to work. Now I know the trick. Potato... Then to re-season both.

Another cool tip from here is to put the pan upside down when you bake it to season it. Never thought of that!

Ecological crisis or why Dinosaur don't wear helmets.

I did my thesis on Dinosaurs around the K/T boundary (Cretaceous-Tertiary) around the time when they went extinct. I looked a dinosaur eggs and looked for a correlation to see if their diet changed. Unsurprisingly it did. Right before their extinctions these dinosaurs I studied from Ancient France had their diet completely changed, and that I think is the key to understanding their extinction.

People like to blame the asteroid that hit the Yucatan Peninsula, but the asteroid alone doesn't explain the extinction. (Here is where the helmets come in.) Dinosaurs weren't killed off or rather go extinct (which is a genetic death rather than a physical one) because a huge rock impacted the Earth. It's the effects of that impact that likely killed off the Dinosaurs.

The media likes the asteroid story because it's flashy but the reality is that aside for the Dinosaurs in its path, the real trouble is the effect the asteroid had. And that's where we get into murky territory …

Programmatic Law

Law is one of the most inefficient processes of modern society. Still it's effective, all things considered. The inefficiency lies in the fact that figuring out what is legal or not is a complicated process that involves lawyers. Originally law was supposed to be simple enough to be interpreted by jurors but now you almost have to be a jurist to understand the law. This inefficiency is even used as a bargaining chip in many cases with the threat of "tying this up in court for years."

How is that even possible? Law is not supposed to be obtuse, yet it gets that way.

The law's complexity has driven the need for a highly sub-specialized class of professionals, that rather than be advocates or expert advisors are more like translators to the arcane practices and language of law.

Have you ever read a contract and wondered what it meant? Then had it explained to you and you couldn't figure out why they didn't just said that, in plain language rather than the page o…

Windows Utilities

Invaluable Windows Utilities:
1. 7zip
Until the inclusion of a limited zipping functionality in Vista you needed an external program to even handle zipped compressed files. Even now none surpass 7zip, being free and open source it's still better than the built-in zipping capabilities of Windows.

2. doPDF
This Utility allows you to print to PDF, a feature already available on Mac. But doPDF does such a better job than Mac or Linux equivalents. Still free but not open source, it's one of the utilities I use the most in my research as it allows me to save webpages quickly, without having to worry about book marks or incompatible formats.

3. Soluto
This cool utility form a start-up in Israel allows you to easily select what programs get loaded at boot-up speeding up the time it takes for your computer to boot up. The killer feature is that it allows you to delay utilities that I would like loaded but after I boot, like the Uninterrupted Power Supply utility that doesn't need t…