Archive for December, 2011

We are all fish…

Tuesday, December 20th, 2011

[A] new study argues that for a democracy to function at all, you need lots of ignorant people blindly siding with the majority.

There needs to be just enough people who know anything about the issues to act as leaders for everyone else, but the majority disintegrates if there are too many viewpoints pulling in different directions.

[The researchers] looked at golden shiners, a species that is naturally attracted to the color yellow. The researchers took a bunch of these fish and trained most of them to act against instinct and swim towards a blue target, while the rest were trained to follow their natural preference and go for a yellow target.

When the researchers placed just these two groups together, the smaller group of yellow-seeking fish was able to dominate the blue-seeking fish, making them all swim to the yellow target 80% of the time. This is because their natural instinct gave them a stronger desire go after the yellow target than their counterparts. But then, when fish with no prior conditioning were added to the mix, the influence of the yellow-seeking fish quickly dropped away, and the initial, blue-seeking majority regained control.

From Democracy needs ignorant people, says science []

The article is a summary of a paper in Science []… now go read the article about how ignorant fish are required for an enlightened fish democracy to work. Before I plagiarise the whole damn article.

Red Moon Rising

Wednesday, December 14th, 2011

December 2011, Lunar eclipse seen from Labrador Park, Singapore. You can see more photos in the Lunar Eclipse, Singapore, December 2011 photoset on Flickr [].

But, then Texas can’t execute them.

Friday, December 9th, 2011

Senator Sanders proposes a new amendment to the constitution []… seems like a good one:


SECTION 1. The rights protected by the Constitution of the United States are the rights of natural persons and do not extend to for-profit corporations, limited liability companies, or other private entities established for business purposes or to promote business interests under the laws of any state, the United States, or any foreign state.

SECTION 2. Such corporate and other private entities established under law are subject to regulation by the people through the legislative process so long as such regulations are consistent with the powers of Congress and the States and do not limit the freedom of the press.

SECTION 3. Such corporate and other private entities shall be prohibited from making contributions or expenditures in any election of any candidate for public office or the vote upon any ballot measure submitted to the people.

Pump and dump is a not a good business plan for consumers

Friday, December 9th, 2011

[F]ree web services are not like free software. If your free software project suddenly gets popular, you gain resources: testers, developers and people willing to pitch in. If your free website takes off, you lose resources. Your time is spent firefighting and your money all goes to the nice people at Linode.

Maciej, from Don’t be a Free User [] blog post at Pinboard.

Neurotic Guess

Thursday, December 8th, 2011

Neurosis can be the sign of a decent guess

Tom Murphy, from Wind Fights Solar; Triangle Wins [] a post on his blog; Do The Math

Bonus points for spotting the reference to They Might Be Giants song Particle Man. Wonder if the author knows it from the album or from the Animaniacs episode?