General updates 2011: Dec/Jan

At the end of 2010, I decided to terminate the Interesting Stuff series, which I’ve been running on this blog for the last two years. This is the first in the series that will replace it. Instead of interesting links followed (possibly) by a personal soapbox, the personal stuff will come first with (possibly) some recommended links at the end.

[Edit 2020: However, I am now reducing the amount of personal information in my blog archives, so a lot of this material will be removed.]


  • Everyone’s been playing with Google N-grams, and here’s one of my favourite results: Good became less popular than evil sometime around 1750. In other words, evil is winning! Mwahahahaha!!! (OK, not really. I cheated, by sneakily taking advantage of case sensitivity. But if you find my cheating objectionable, then you misunderstand the concept of evil.)
  • A scientific American article summarising ways in which recent decades of research have shown the mind and the body to be connected.
  • Aboriginal paintings kept alive by fungus. (More details from the BBC.)
  • A post from Bioephemera reminds me of the Life Science/Nature Library series, some of which I remember reading as a child (they were second-hand when I got them). From the Science series I remember Mathematics, (which I used to teach myself some basic differential calculus, in defiance of the adults who refused to explain it to me). From the Nature series I remember Early Man (which as I recall contained an inordinate preoccupation with Zinjanthropus and favoured a multiregional hypothesis that’s now utterly out of date) and The Universe (which was my introduction to a lot of things in astronomy, although apart from galaxy classification I’d be hard pressed to remember what they were).
  • The December 27 episode of 365 Days of Astronomy is one of my all-time favourites. It is both well-presented and informative: I’d never really thought about the regional geology of asteroids before. Related: For $30 I have sponsored the upcoming January 12 episode of the podcast, taking the opportunity to honour my favourite episodes from 2009 and 2010.

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