Sunday, October 31, 2010

Trolls are everywhere ...

Trolling is commonly decried as a negative social activity redolent with malicious intent and provocation. However, an accomplished troll does not necessarily require a 4chan account; those who enjoy doing it in real-life do not get the benefit of a sockpuppet.

Reading the list below made me realise that I have been an inadvertent real-life troll in said situation. Oops.

Top 5 annoying questions at scientific meetings.

5. Question: “You know, our group has been working on this for a long time, and we found that…”
Really means: “How come you got invited to talk about this and not I?”

4. Question:  “Have you tried using Y instead of X?”
Really means: “We are doing the same thing using Y, since we can’t afford to use X on our budget. But we haven’t had results in the past two years, and you totally scooped us. Is there any way we can actually get results using Y?”

3. Question: “So where do you think this work is going?”
Really means: “I was just scratching my head, and the microphone runner thought I was raising my hand and handed me the mike.  Now that I actually have the mike, I might as well ask something”.

2. Question:  “You know, I was just talking about this recently with Bigshot1 and Bigshot2, and they said that…”
Really means:  “Hey, look at me!  I’m important enough to have engaged both Bigshot1 and Bigshot2 together in a conference. (They couldn’t get away because it was the conference dinner with free booze).”

1. Question:  “It seems that this whole field of…. is filled with very exciting prospects. We have been looking into…. and Bigshot3 has recently published in Science….(3-4 minutes more in the same vein)  so my question is: what are your thoughts?”
Really means: “Muahahaha. By hijacking Q&A time, I got to present at this conference even though I was not invited to. Sucks to the Program Committee.”

From here.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Sheer poetry

These princesses ain't waiting for some lame prince to come and rescue the day. They can kick ass and take names ... even in tulle.

Because even villains need to get paid and cannot run away from taxes.

Sometimes the price you pay for piracy is too high.

Darn it. Why didn't I have maps like this when I had to take Georgraphy in school?

Creep (Radiohead) - Scala & Kolacny Brothers from Alex Heller on Vimeo.

The Scala & Kolacny Brothers choir gives a new dimension to pop and rock standards. Stop motion animation = FTW!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Life is like Lego (TM) ...

... you learn something new every day. One of my youngest uncles bought me a Lego set when I was a wee sprog; it ever got completed to the specs on the box when he opened it and showed me how to do it. I am ever fail at following instruction, much less constructing three dimensional structures. No wonder I never even contemplated architecture school. :p

But this guy? I would award him eleventy billion internet for this. Soooo cool.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Arthropod abuse with trebuchet

Not many of us like the leggy creepy crawlies. If you want to see them get what's coming to them, mediaevel geek-style, take a look at this video.

Ganked from Improbable Research.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Cookies for egg heads

Cute and edible!

All from Ms Humble.Some are her artwork while others are done by other contributors who share their scientific artwork.

Gel electrophoresis cookies. Looks very close to the real thing what with the drum-stick appearance of the bands and the colour! Just like it was being viewed under ultraviolet light! ♥

Petri dish cookies inspired by Escherichia coli streaked on a nutrient agar. No complaining of the streaking technique; icing is a lot harder to work with than broth-and-inoculating loop.

Exploding brain + popped out eyes FTW!

Gingerbread men in aqua containment / clean room suits are so adorable. They look paranoid, though.

Zebrafish makes for an awesome haematopoiesis model because they are practically transparent during the juvenile stage (or so I'm told). Edible glitter simulates the translucence beautifully.

Atomic cookie + nucleus (proton + neutron+ electron represented yo!). Gorgeous and delicious.

Gingerbread scientists are so adorable and edible!

What's a laboratory without beakers, test tubes & Erlenmeyer flasks?

Drosophila melanogaster, the humble household fruit fly, has been the workhorse of genetics for decades.

Who says that scientific people are boring and not creative?

We salute women who kick ass & take names

Step aside Dr Brady Barr. Your chiseled features may make you a darling on the National Geographic Channel, but there's another herpetologist who kicks ass harder than you.

Why do I say that Dr Kate Jackson is more hardcore than Brady Barr?

That's because she's doing near the same thing he does, without the benefit of a television show funding, while half crippled by transverse myelitis.

Hats off to you, Dr Jackson.

Kate Jackson SNAKES from Rose on Vimeo.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Literature demystified by Kurt Vonnegut

Kurt Vonnegut is one of those lauded authors whose books I am not tempted to seek.  But if the graphs below were what he used to teach literature, man, what would I give to audit that class. *props chin in admiration*


The story arc of a romance novel. Tried and true trope it may be, but romance is still one of the largest and most profitable genre of the publication industry.

Staggered build up of this nature is usually pleasing to the readers of fairytales. Cynics would say that fairytales fall under the romance genre; however, the truth is that readers of the romance genre are generally discerning and clever. We may like the happy ending guarantee, but there has to be a plot that makes us keep flipping the page.

If you are into nihilistic, post modern literature (IDEK what that means), this is the story arc you get. By the end of the book, you would either be insensate from alcohol imbibement to dull the existential pain or bleeding out into your bathtub/on your bed/some random surface from the neat, parallel cuts on your inner forearm.

Ah, Hamlet. Did he get justice for his father? Were all his sacrifice worth it? If you want to know what Vonnegut thought of Hamlet and Shakespeare's writing skills go to the site whence I ganked these graphs (which would be here).

Political incorrectness

If you subscribe to Machiavelli, you will accept that the ends justifies the means.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Monday, October 18, 2010

Festering pit of despair ... (just kill yourself already)

You were searching for a flower
And you found a fruit.

You were searching for a river
And you found a sea.

You were searching for a girl
And you found a soul.

And you are disappointed.

                               - Unknown Finnish poem from here-

I am not much a poetry person, but this?


Sunday, October 17, 2010

Ear candy in surgery

Medicine is srs biznez, yo. But does it mean you can't kick back and have fun? Of course not.

Enjoy the Laryngologists spoofing Breaking Up is Hard to Do, nurse anaesthetist style.

While we are in the medical vein, we must not forget Weird Al Yankovich's parody of Madge's eponymous hit, Like A Virgin.

Except with surgeons. Pray to God you don't get one of these guys should you need to go under the knife.


Friday, October 15, 2010

Anthem: Lisbeth Salander

(Do not worry: this post is NOT a book review.)

I had finally finished reading The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson. Not knowing Swedish means I have to read the translated version by Reg Keeland. Some of the odd expressions littered in the book made me suspect that he made an effort to make sure that the original expression in Swedish is maintained.

It was a difficult first 60 or so pages for me; like a chemical reaction, the frenzy for devouring the book had a high activation energy threshold. But once I met Lisbeth Salander,  it was like a napalm firestorm; I was ignited to consume to book in a single sitting. This was not possible as real life has a way of interfering with obsessions and a wage has to be earned.

Salander is completely out of my realm of experience. Damaged, brilliant, cunning, naive, dispassionate and yet vulnerable, Salander is a contradiction within a puzzle wrapped in an enigma (or however the expression is). She is quite the archetypal anti-hero(ine)  who lives in the fringes of society; her wary forays into mainstream society often underscoring her prejudices of the  bourgeoisie.

To my mind, this song by Fiona Apple perfectly illustrates Salander. Lyrics can be found here.

The conclusion of the book was very satisfying and yet I was ambivalent about getting the next book in the series. Salander (and Blomqvist) is not a character that I find comfortable to read; (I usually stick to happily ever afters) but somehow, as I left my rental book store, I found The Girl Who Played with Fire in my hands.

In praise of the well-dressed man

In this part of the world, there is little mention about how casual Fridays are getting out of hand. Personally, I love it when the gents dress with circumspection; i.e. to suit the occasion.

Don't get me wrong; I do enjoy men in their comfy casuals like slouchy t-shirts and jeans / footie jersey and cargoes, but there's something about a well turned out man that just makes one's mouth water.

It used to be a rite of passage for a guy to get the first pair of suit bespoke by a tailor introduced to him by his father. However, as casual fashion becomes more and more pervasive, this is a lore that one only read in books of the silverspoon genre. More and more workplace tolerate dressy casuals and suits become something that is relegated to either rarefied circles or tolerated for weddings/funerals/etc.

I think one of the reasons why Arthur of Inception received a great deal of attention in fandom is because of the way he dressed. Who would have expected a sombre looking guy in a three-piece suit to be kickin' ass and taking name in such style?



He brought back the panache that was embodied by Sean Connery when he was James Bond; a man in a sharp suit armed with a rapier mind, ambiguous moral code and laser honed reactions. A capacity for violence masked by the veneer of civility lent by the suit is incredibly alluring and seductive (but only when directed against the bad guys, of course).

But that's a fictional character, you gentlemen may say. What about an ordinary Joe who doesn't have a personal trainer to keep his waistline trim or the funds for a bespoke wardrobe?

Well, a man doesn't need licence to kill to be a lady killer, you know. For the formal occasions, look for a well-fitting suit (you may need to alter off-the-rack acquisitions) in a style and colour that flatters you (navy is a safe bet for all skin tone). Team them with cotton shirts in hues that enhances your complexion and a natty tie (matching, naturallement); learn to accessorise with cuff links or even pocket squares. Polish your shoes. Buy socks that is NOT white. Experiment with what looks best for you.

But what about  the physical constraints and discomfort of wearing suits in equatorial weather? It may surprise you but there *are* fabrics for tropical weather suits. Cotton, linen suits can be very dashing and are lightweight to accommodate high temperatures (but not humidity). There are also summer-weight wool blends that can work beautifully in tropical latitudes. You *do* have options.

For those who don't wish to look like a mindless corporate drone, why not add your own personal signature to your style? If you need ideas, visit The Sartorialist; he documents ordinary people with extraordinary style with his fabulous photographs.

Traditional dress like baju melayu and kurta can also be incredibly flattering. I recall fondly the guys participating in bara'an (Javanese tradition of visiting house-to-house in a large group to sing praises to the Prophet Muhammad PBUH during the first few days of Eid-ul-Fitr to bring blessings to the host) decked in their Hari Raya finery of baju melayu complete with songkok and kain sampin. No matter what colour of material they chose, or the body it draped, the ensemble brings out the best in them: emphasising the breadth of the shoulders, minimising the portness of the tummy and even giving height to the vertically challenged ones.

Therefore, gentlemen, do take due consideration when selecting your garments. Because we love to appreciate you at your best. That's not saying that we don't appreciate you when you want to get down and comfortable, we are just saying that a little pride in your appearance goes a long way.

In praise of well dressed men, here is Barney Stinson serenading his true love in life: his sartorial elegance.

Ganked from manticore's FB update, thank you very much.

Monday, October 11, 2010

How do you receive good news?

How would you react if someone calls you tell you that you've won the Nobel Prize?

A scream? Disbelief? A vague, "Huh?"

Check out some of the responses of Nobel Prize winners here. Pretty snerkworthy.

Music + science = WIN!

A new take of a golden oldie.

Ganked from Dr Salman Hameed.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Better living through chemistry

Interested in coming up with your own personal psychedelic cocktail? There are books that will teach you how to whip up your own concoction in the comfort of your home. Written by the godfather of Ecstasy.

Results will vary and any prison/death/lifelong embarrassment -related outcome may ensue.

While on the topic of ingestible material, there are some food that should also be categorised as dangerous/controlled substance. If you are what you eat, why would you eat these?


It's okay, I don't need to prove mine is bigger than yours.

However, if consuming questionable materials/chemical/food in the chase of that adrenaline rush doesn't do it for you, why not try blowing things up to exercise your creativity? Marvelously, there are books that will teach you how to create your own IED without stepping out of your house. For the aspiring Unabombers out there, check out this page in

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Being gay for a pal

I kept re-watching this and it cracks me up every single time. The earnestness of Matt Damon is just so twee. It's not new but the pure lulz factor is awesome.

Nature vs nurture?

kleptobiosis (Also cleptobiosis.)  

Among ants and certain other social insects, an association in which a small species feeds on the refuse of a neighbouring nest inhabited by a larger species, or robs returning workers of the host species of the food they are carrying. Hence kleptobiotic.

When confronted about his shaking down of the juniors for their lunch money, Harry earnestly replied that he was merely obeying the natural imperative of kleptobiosis.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Science is so cool ...

Next time you get into a bar brawl, don't drink up all the beer first before smashing the bottle over your opponent's head. An empty bottle takes more energy to break. The damage: Not so different.

Also, if you work in the healthcare industry and feel the need to let fly some swear words, feel free to do so. It helps reduce your desire to maim the offending party.

Tequila is a girl's best friend. Not only can you get deliciously smashed from drinking it, you can also make diamonds from it. No kidding.