January 01
software engr, young at heart. coding from early age. "digital brain" but with lots of feelings too. writing here mainly to publicize a few key issues, let off some steam, & for the feedback. plz write me comments, very much appreciated!! even on old posts!! helps me gauge reader interest/ reaction & steer direction of new posts. oh, and IMs often make my day & I usually reply. and long IM conversations are my favorite.

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OCTOBER 30, 2009 12:43AM

happy halloween-- SCARY stuff! pumpkins, bugs, Toba eruption

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hi all, I was thinking of leaving my last post standing as this my blog contribution to halloween for this year, but other stuff popped up that I cant resist & deserves a new post -- and anyway the law of unintended consequences has sort of erupted over in that other corner of cyberspace.. the hoodlums have gotten out of control.... maybe this will distract them for awhile....

[a] amazing virtuoso pumpkin carving


this is #14-- its totally phenomenal, it looks like a poster. most nuanced pumpkin carving Ive ever seen.

Phantom Pumpkin //

 [b] bug photos by Thomas Shahan

these are some of the most vivid insect photos Ive ever seen, possibly the best in the world Id say.. check em out in hidef, they look like they could leap right out of the tv. happy halloween & watch out for the monsters-- some in real life!


Ive got my eyes on you!!

hey, heres a great idea. instead of stupid "lolcats" (most of which Im sure are propagated by females...or at least gays...) maybe "we" can create ridiculous captions for the insects. maybe that would be an effective countertrend/reactionary force huh?

this is Shahan's flickr stream, well worth visiting

[c] the 74,000 year old toba eruption

this is one of the coolest scientific stories of all time, but still somewhat obscure, few people have heard of it, and the scientific theories backing it are all still pretty young.

basically about 74K years ago, a *super* volcano in what is now Toba lake in indonesa/southeast asia erupted. one of the largest eruptions ever, and it was probably 1000x larger than any monster eruption in recorded history such as vesuvius, mt st helens, etcetera.

independent scientific research into DNA mitochondria divergence suggests that probably only a few thousand human families survived!! this is one of the most incredible population bottlenecks that has ever existed in human history, and  perhaps across many species also.

to put it simply, humanity was driven within millimeters of total extinction/annhilation during this period. I am not making this up. did you read about this in school? probably not, because much of the scientific evidence is less than two decades old. the books are being rewritten as we speak, its a real kuhnian revolution in play right in front of our eyes. I admit, not all scientists accept this as fact.

but anyway, can you imagine that if the entire human race just consisted of people/families in your own neighborhood/suburb? it is not known yet if they were scattered all over the world or were localized geographically. the Toba event is considered to have happened when humanity had spread out of africa.

or heck-- maybe this was close to about the current population of Open Salon. can you imagine if *poof* everyone in the entire world vanished except for those of us who post on open salon? hmmm oh yeah theres a real quality gene pool for sure, wink -- yeah we've got a real fighting chance now....horrors!! Ill be having nightmares tonite for sure with that thought....

heres a recent meandering/funky/interesting/excellent/mindbending article that ties in this event with intelligence augmentation and the singularity, a topic of my last post. it suggests that intelligence augmentation will get us through the next "squeeze", basically the mass climate change triggered by global warming-- which the toba eruption almost makes look like childs play.

Get Smarter
Pandemics. Global warming. Food shortages. No more fossil fuels. What are humans to do? The same thing the species has done before: evolve to meet the challenge. But this time we don’t have to rely on natural evolution to make us smart enough to survive. We can do it ourselves, right now, by harnessing technology and pharmacology to boost our intelligence. Is Google actually making us smarter?
by Jamais Cascio

global warming can be a scary thing, and its staggering implications on humanity are not to be downplayed or diminished, but humans have probably gone through several population "squeezes" in the history of humanity (but not recorded history).

it seems to me & others one such semi-recorded squeeze may have been a massive flood; anthropologists argue that it is recorded in many disparate/indpendent cultures/civilizations. there would probably be several others outside the several-millenia range of recorded history.

there is a great Nova video dvd documentary on this that can be found on Netflix, I just watched it last weekend. unfortunately it doesnt get into the one of the most intense parts of it all, the DNA/mitochondria/human "bottleneck" link. hoping to find some other documentary that does.. if you know of one, let me know. here are some articles on their web site. (theres another Nova documentary on the glacier dam in Wyoming breaking, they go well together.)

followed by some wikipedia articles on the subject, so you know its definitely for real. =)

The Next Big One by Peter Tyson
What could we expect if a supereruption were to occur today? http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/megavolcano/bigone.html

Why Toba Matters

wikpedia -- Toba eruption

Toba catastrophe theory

[d] "scariest halloween costume ever"

this video is making the "viral" rounds and some tasteless friend of mine sent it [I know that phrase might sound redundant to some... but more ironically, he works at an elite fortune 500 company...] -- and it shows, there really is a good reason they call this stuff viral. ewwwww!! so of course, perfect for the open salon crowd.... have you seen it???

ok its so tasteless that as a concession, Im not gonna embed the video. you've been warned. NSFW. for those of you women that cringe at this, note that clearly the guy got maced for his creative/artistic/twisted sense of humor!! I wonder what country this happened in!! do you think the women were actors?! it seems awfully realistic.... and by the way, if you pass this on, dont tell 'em I found this.

Scariest halloween costume ever!!


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That's exactly why I avoid public restrooms
Da Vincvi nis know for his pumpkin carving. His best one was called "The Mona Lisa."
thanks guys =)
looks like I managed to scare the females completely away. so I guess its boys club only around here. sometime, Ill have to try to think of a reason that would be a bad thing...
Woah!!! You've just cured my ego problem!!!! Thanks for the cure!!!! Reading others is blowing me away. I've been reading my sisters, Just Cathy and MaryTKelly for a while now and Mary's been bugging me to write as well. I've read for years from Dostoyevsky to Dickens and Austen to Camus, but never came across anyone like you. You da bomb!
hey joan, thanks for dropping by, if it werent for newbies like you, Id probably have no audience at all. virtually everyone else on OS has enough sense to avoid me =)
Ive read dostoyevsky and camus, and probably austin too [cant remember.. forget.. did she write pride & prejudice?] but it was forced in my AP english classes.. does that count? Id think youd have to be insane to do it voluntarily :p ..
your family seems very talented & literary. very impressive.
ps you arent any relation to gene wilder are you? loved that frankenstein movie..
j/k :p
On the subject of Toba...

Toba is one of a handful of what are called "Supervolcanoes". Yellowstone, Toba, Krakatoa, Edinburgh... I can't remember the name of the one in Africa or the one on the Mongolian Plain at the moment BUT they are horrifyingly fascinating.

Did you know that the Caldera at Yellowstone is growing and has been for several years?
yep, the study of supervolcanoes is very young, because they were discovered only relatively recently. they are all over the world, probably dozens at least, and some undiscovered. there are known volcanoes that are not known to be supervolcanoes, but might be candidates. apparently it takes very careful/extended study to determine if a volcano is a supervolcano and likely not all have been discovered yet.

looking at wikipedia, the last yellowstone eruption was 70K years ago. (which is not that far away from the toba eruption!)
here is an interesting factoid they mention in the movie:
"Yellowstone has gone off roughly once every 600,000 years. Its last eruption was 640,000 years ago.
The next explosion is already overdue. "
however, I suspect that is kind of a statistical inaccuracy to say that it is "overdue" because the eruptions are only that far apart on average-- its not like a really accurate clock inside the volcano. (I dont know the deviation, that would take a lot more googling...)

but anyway, it does give new meaning to the phrase "old faithful" huh!!
The bugs were so damn cool it almost brought tear to my eyes.