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Okay, so scientists took seven people and hooked them up to a brainal probe while they listened to a radio program (The Moth, in case you’re wondering). Then they mapped the “50,000 to 80,000 pea-sized spots all over the cerebral cortex” that lit up for each word the subjects heard.

I had no idea words were processed all over the brain…did you? Surely, speech itself is more localized, or people who’ve suffered a stroke would lose vocabulary words, not speech generally.

Secondly, the words mapped to similar locations for all seven people. On the top right side of the brain live all the words for family members. On the left, just over the ear, are words for crime and justice. Words with multiple meanings light up multiple places.

There’s an interactive map, but I couldn’t get it to work. I’ve got a lot of applications open, the website made my hard disk graunch and chunder to little effect, so I think it’s an intensive app.

Now, it was just seven people, they were all English speakers of a certain level of accomplishment, and this is the first study of its kind, so…all very preliminary. But very interesting, nonetheless.

I’ll tell you this right now: the part of my brain that processes names is as smooth as a baby’s butt.

Thanks to commenter Can’t Hark My Cry for the link.

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April 28, 2016 — 9:26 pm
Comments: 11

Finally, a qualification…!


No, no…that’s not my rooster. It’s the header photo from a course I’m taking.

That’s right, y’all — I’m taking a course in Advanced Chickenology from the la-de-da University of Edinburgh. They came mucho recommendo from one of the chicken forums I follow. At last, the prestigious credentials I’ve always craved!

Actually, it’s worth following the link. There are a number of online courses on offer for not a lot of money, and I gather you can audit a lot of them for free if you don’t care about grades or a certificate.

But I gotta run. I brought a bunch of work home and I’m all behind schedule AND IT’S BATH NIGHT!

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April 27, 2016 — 10:01 pm
Comments: 7

Quite a month for royal bidets


Happy birthday, Edward the Tooth! Seven hundred and thirty two years young today.

Though Wikipedia says his birthday was yesterday, the date only came across my FaceBook feed today.

(On a side note, I found a way to make FaceBook fun — stop following my boring old friends and follow groups about history, art and chikkens!).

He’s the one who got the red hot poker up the hoo-hoo. Most historians these days don’t think that really happened, because most historians these days are boring old stinky pants.

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April 26, 2016 — 8:30 pm
Comments: 10

There’s a weasel in that thar double helix


It’s DNA day! I got a mailing from 23andme earlier:

Today we celebrate the discovery of the double helix of DNA in 1953 and the completion of the Human Genome Project in 2003.

They just say ‘we celebrate’ — not that it’s an actual anniversary or anything. And, since they sell DNA testing, I’m’a assume it’s one of those made up holidays, like National Stinky Cheese Day or Mother’s Day. In which case, they missed a trick by not picking the 23rd of some month.

Anyhoo, there were several interesting DNA-related articles accompanying the mailer, like this one: now that they have a grasp of some of the markers that indicate a susceptibility to disease, one new avenue of research is to look at people who have a vulnerability to certain conditions but never developed the condition.

Or not yet, anyway. It’s leading to some novel ways to look at health problems, and I’m all for novel ways of looking at things.

The project leader gave a TED talk about it — never a good sign — but it still sounds promising. Link to the project itself here.

And don’t forget to hug your genome today.

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April 25, 2016 — 9:34 pm
Comments: 8

Happy birthday, Ma’am


Caption: Her Maj changes a tire. In 1945, she joined the Women’s Auxiliary Territorial Service as a mechanic and driver, making her the last living head of state to have worn her country’s uniform in WWII.

‘Tis her 90th today. Her real birthday, not the day the nation usually celebrates, which varies. They’re lighting the beacons this evening — a thing they don’t do often. A thing I’d like to see, but they’re not lighting the ones near us.

Note to self: apply for citizenship while you can still say the oath to this lady.

PRINCE DIES ON QUEEN’S BIRTHDAY. The headlines write themselves. Also, Scott Jacob wins the Dead Pool. I’ll queue up a new Dead Pool for tomorrow — which is kind of a relief because I’ll be away all day at a conference tomorrow. See you here, Friday 6pm WBT. Well, I won’t be here, but the new Deal Pool will.

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April 21, 2016 — 6:00 pm
Comments: 18

Oh. Okay.


Harriet Tubman was a brilliant choice for the 20 dollar bill. There’s absolutely nothing negative anyone can say about it BECAUSE SLAVERY. I’m a big, big fan of the patriarchy, so this is kind of a blow for me.

Oh, well. Let’s hope they can find a softer portrait to work from. All the pictures I’ve seen, she looks like YOU SPEND THIS TWENTY AND I’LL KICK YOUR ASS!

I will say something about that: we don’t have the quality of engravers we used to have. Back when so many more documents were engraved, we had a big gene pool of craftsmen to choose from. Now, not. If you look at the modern big-head version of our currency compared to the old portraits, the quality is just not there.

And don’t get me started on coins…

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April 20, 2016 — 9:27 pm
Comments: 13

We R Flock


The big girls keeping the little girls company.

It doesn’t work so great in black and white, as the big girls formed a big, floppy, happy boneless chicken pile in the warm sun, every girl trying to get her beak under her neighbor, so they look like headless piles of feathers. They do this like babychicks trying to shelter under a mamachick; I think it’s the chicken version of kittenish play.

Make no mistake: once the little girls are free, there will be peckings and squawkings and jockeying for position, but this is how the socializing process starts.

The main thing I’m worried about is the little girls flying up into a tree. They fly well when they’re little. I cut myself to ribbons getting Maggie and Coco out of a blackberry bramble once.

On a related note, Vita’s butt totally looks like a delicious artichoke.

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April 19, 2016 — 9:11 pm
Comments: 5

Meet the new mascot!


“Hello friends!” Yeah, I found this pretty girl on a bad taxidermy site. Duh. I wasn’t actually looking for bad taxidermy, I was looking for nice pictures of weasels (as you do).

Like this one. That tumblr claims ‘mustela’ means ‘long mouse’. I can see that.

I absolutely freaking hate politics at the moment, so I’ve been avoiding the whole thing in favor of chicken blogging. I hate every single one of the candidates, I hate all the issues. I hate that the infighting is nastier than the outfighting. I’m going to hate the next POTUS. Oh, and I have a sneaking suspicion Britain is staying in the EU, which I hate.

When it comes to politics, I consider myself a happy poo-flinging monkey. And I am not happy right now.

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April 18, 2016 — 10:02 pm
Comments: 15

“Mind the Gap” guy dies, sadly not by falling between train and platform


Phil Sayer, the dude who makes the announcement in train stations all over the UK, has died. Of cancer, sadly, not a freak platform accident.

My brain refuses to process “mind the gap” as a phrase with meaning. Fortunately, it’s also painted on station platforms, where at least the words draw my eyes to the appropriate area. There, I might indeed find a big-ass gap between the station and the train, which I will notice. Or mind, if you will.

Their signage also says “way in” and “way out” instead of “entrance” and “exit”, “give way” instead of “yield” and off-duty buses say “I’m sorry I’m not in service” instead of “not in service.” Which, I can’t help thinking, if they cut some of the extraneous verbiage they could go up a point size.

Train announcements are currently done by a woman who sounds exactly like that Overwatch announcer lady in Half Life two. I expect her to call me “citizen” and send those camera drones out after me.

Have a good weekend, y’all — and mind the gap!

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April 15, 2016 — 9:08 pm
Comments: 12

Oh, doctor…?


There is a backstory. Visiting New York, Churchill made the classic Brit/Yank mistake and looked the wrong way as he stepped into the street. He was hit by a car and hospitalized.

He needed the prescription because this was during Prohibition. How often doctors prescribed booze and where you got it if you had a scrip, I do not know. The notation at the top left, cropped in half, reads “keep on hand” — so perhaps he was to carry it to restaurants, who were allowed to dispense. Hard to see how that might work, though.

I do know that 250cc is upward of eight ounces. Minimum.

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April 14, 2016 — 10:08 pm
Comments: 7