Saturday, January 24, 2009

Cat Burning is Good Fun

In the 16th century Paris cat burning was a popular form of entertainment.

Quoting Wikipedia:

people would gather dozens of cats in a net and hoist them high into the air from a special bundle onto a bonfire. According to Norman Davies, the assembled people "shrieked with laughter as the animals, howling with pain, were singed, roasted, and finally carbonized."

It seems all classes of society (even the king) took part in this form of entertainment and it was considered perfectly normal to attend such an event. These people weren't abnormal perverts who enjoyed cruelty to animals. They were good citizens by the standards of their time.

A few centuries later we find the thought of burning cats outrageous. I wonder which of our current pastimes will people a few centuries from now find outrageous. And hilarious? Considering the example above I wouldn't dare to guess.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

I Play With My Balls

The other day I found some Baoding balls in the cupboard. These are the balls which people rotate in the hand. Here's a demo video of how an experienced user rotates them. His balls also make a sound during rotating:

I have simple solid marble balls, so they don't produce a sound which I really don't mind, because the "music" in the above clip got a bit annoying after a while. According to traditional Chinese medicine the balls interact with acupuncture points on the hand during rotating which invigorates the brain eliminates worry, can prevent hand tremors, etc. So you do a service for your body with some balling.

The basic exercise is rotating a pair of balls in the palm of the hand, so that they are in contact constantly. On advanced levels the balls should be rotated so fast they don't touch at all. In both directions. Currently, I always hit one of the balls with other, so even the constant contact is beyond my abilities.

When one is doing something physically passive (watching TV, phoning, etc.) then it's a good time for some practice, and it's quite addictive too. It's also useful when thinking about some problem, because the rotating balls occupy the body, so the mind can focus better at the task at hand.

I recommend trying it out. It's fun.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Spine Surgery on Caller Through Television

Among the many TV stations in Hungary there is a little shabby one which regularly features healers and wonder doctors. They sit in the studio and people (mostly old and uneducated ones) call them about various illnesses. The healer diagnoses the caller remotely using a device (featured on the video) which indicates the problems by moving from side to side.

The video below shows the healer performing a complete remote spine surgery on the caller. He diagnoses her first and the procedure begins at 0:45. I promise you haven't seen a surgery like that before:

The "doctor" always takes his job very seriously. He never laughs. I don't know how he does it, because the whole thing is utterly ridiculous. :)

Monday, January 19, 2009

Nuclear Bombs Can't Fall On This Place

Here's this little village. Nothing unusual. Before reading further zoom out the map to see what is beside the village. Then zoom out the map even more to see what is in the neighborhood.

View Larger Map

This is a rather remote, quiet place, but the active volcano beside the village would worry me a bit considering the next continent is pretty far away. The volcano erupted last time in 1961 and the population had to be evacuated ten pretty quickly.

The place is called Tristan da Cunha, it's a British overseas territory. 271 people live on the island and they suffer from various health problems, because of marriages among closely related couples. The latter is no wonder, since there are not many opportunities to find a partner in the area.

It's a nice place if we consider the possibility of a global nuclear war. They'd had much more chance to survive than us here. At least until the volcano erupts again. :)

Thursday, January 15, 2009

The money, the cinema and the brain

Suppose you go to see a movie. You bought a ticket previously for $20 and you have another $20 bill in your pocket. When you get to the cinema you notice you lost the ticket. Will you buy an other ticket and go see the movie anyway?

Most people answers no. (I won't pay for the ticket twice!)

Suppose you go to see a movie. You have two $20 bills in your pocket. When you get to the cinema you notice you lost one of the $20s. Will you buy a ticket from the other $20 and go see the movie anyway?

Most people answers yes. (Pity I lost a $20 on the way, but I came to see a movie.)

If you answer yes in both situations the end result is the same ($40 is history and you've seen the movie). Nevertheless, the average person comes to a different decision due to the circumstances. Our brain works in a funny way, doesn't it? :)

Here's a video of Dan Gilbert from TED explaining our behavior in such situations:

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Why you shouldn't teach your mother to use MSN

I did and I have made a mistake. My mother is fascinated by MSN like some teenager and she's constantly bombarding me with messages. She loves her new toy. It was kind of cute when she started using it, but now it's getting a bit tiring and I can't block my mother on MSN, can't I?

I hope she gets bored with it soon, otherwise I'll loose my sanity pretty fast. :)