People tend to have an irrational fear of spiders, which are more often than not completely harmless and also beneficial because they help control the insect pest population around homes and gardens. Perhaps, instead of focusing on their "creepiness," people should learn about how cool these little creatures really are. Here are a few examples of some interesting behavior in spiders.
Yes, spiders eat bats too. Apparently, bat-eating spiders live on every continent (except Antarctica). Most of them catch bats in their webs, but huntsman spiders and tarantulas have been observed eating bats on forest floors. [url]
Spiders can adapt to zero-gravity. A "Johnson Jumper" spider named Nefertiti survived 100 days on the International Space Station, during which it demonstrated a new technique for catching fruit flies in zero-gravity. Instead of jumping on its prey, it would sidle up to it. [url]
Contrary to popular belief, spiders can be sociable. Of the more than 43,678 species of spiders out there, about 24 social spider species have been identified. In a most recent discovery, researchers found that females from a social species of spider called Chikunia nigra were surprisingly tolerant of other spiders from the same colony and were willing to look after another's eggs/hatchlings as if they were her own. [url]
If you'd like to read more awesome and interesting stuff, check out this unrelated (but not entirely random!) Techdirt post via StumbleUpon.
People love their pets, but sometimes pet behavior is hard to understand. Sure, there are technologies like Bowlingual and Meowlingual to help us understand cats and dogs, but automated translations are notoriously imperfect. So here are just a few interesting links on studying domesticated animals.
Spiders exhibit a wide variety of fascinating behaviors that are intriguingly complex. They don't just build nice webs and trap unsuspecting insects. Spiders have bizarre mating rituals that seem to suggest a surprising amount of intelligence for their size. Here are just a few examples.
Ah, the TSA. Apparently among the "behavioral factors" that the TSA uses in determining who might be a criminal or a terrorist is... if you complain about the TSA. I guess that means I'm in line for some extra scrutiny. Honestly, though, this sounds a lot more like punitive action against people who complain, rather than a legitimate characteristic of someone who deserves extra scrutiny. Specifically, one of the factors is if someone is:
"Very arrogant and expresses contempt against airport passenger procedures."
An ACLU person quoted in the article wonders if this violates the First Amendment, in that it's going after someone for expressing their opinion:
"Expressing your contempt about airport procedures -- that's a First Amendment-protected right," said Michael German, a former FBI agent who now works as legal counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union. "We all have the right to express our views, and particularly in a situation where the government is demanding the ability to search you."
"It's circular reasoning where, you know, I'm going to ask someone to surrender their rights; if they refuse, that's evidence that I need to take their rights away from them. And it's simply inappropriate," he said.
Honestly, you'd have to think that a real terrorist or criminal, hoping to avoid calling attention to themselves, wouldn't be openly hostile to the search procedure, but would try to be quiet and blend in. Perhaps the TSA will defend this latest ridiculousness by saying it's all okay because it's standard operating procedure.
Back in April, I wrote a post about Daniel Pink's new book, Drive, in which he highlights the rather stunning amount of counterintuitive research that suggests that money can actually make people less motivated to do creative works. Since then, I got a copy of the book myself, but it's in the stack with about five books that I want to get to before it, so I may not get to it for a while. However, a lot of folks have been passing around this great video of a 10 minute presentation that Pink did, which was then whiteboard animated. It's really well done and fun to watch and basically summarizes the idea in the book:
The same point is made in the presentation, but it clarifies it a bit. It's not that money isn't important. That finding would make little sense at all. As people note all the time, you need to be able to make money to survive. But, it's that once people have a base level of money that makes them comfortable, using monetary incentives to get them to do creative work fails. Not just fails, but leads to worse performance. As we noted in the original blog post about this, my initial inkling was that this highlighted a point often forgotten by economists and non-economists alike: while marginal benefit is often considered in terms of dollars, that doesn't mean that cash is the the equivalent of marginal benefit. That is, you can't just replace other benefits with cash. Sometimes people value other types of rewards even greater than the equivalent in cash. And, Pink's book and presentation highlight how it's often things like meaning and working on something fulfilling that are much more beneficial to people than cash. So it's not that money is bad for creativity -- but that having a direct pay-for-performance type scheme seems to create negative consequences when it comes to cognitive work (it works fine for repetitive work, however) -- and other types of non-monetary rewards are a lot more effective.
And while it isn't discussed in the presentation (and I don't know if it's discussed in the book), I wonder if the high monetary rewards in a "if you do this task, we'll give you $x amount" manner actually has a strong cognitive cost. That is, the pressure to then do the task well in order to "earn" that money actually ends up causing a creativity cost that takes away from the output. When you're just doing creative work for non-cash rewards, the pressure doesn't feel quite as strong. When you put the dollar signs in, it adds mental costs, and those costs outweigh the cash rewards. It's even possible, then, that the higher the cash reward, the greater the mental costs.
Related to all of this, Clay Shirky has also just come out with a new book, Cognitive Surplus (which isn't yet in the pile on my desk, but probably will be soon) that builds on an idea that he's talked about for years: about how all these claims that people doing stuff online for free is a "waste" totally misses the point. For the past few decades, people have devoted billions of hours to watching television. Yet, with the internet, rather than watching TV, they're actually doing some creative work (sometimes for free). So when looked at in isolation, doing stuff for free may seem weird, when combined in the larger scheme of things as a substitute for mind-numbing TV watching, it's actually a huge advancement.
Wired had the smart idea of having Shirky and Pink sit down and chat with each other, and they rehash some of these ideas, and how the concepts put forth in the two books seem to overlap. Moving people away from merely consuming content towards creating content leads to a huge boost in creativity and creative output -- exactly what we've seen happening. And, it's not because of monetary incentives -- in fact, it's often because of the exact opposite.
The more you think about it, the more this all makes sense, and the more you realize just how screwed up so many incentive structures are today, because so many people think that purely monetary incentives work best.
Rikuo: about the Xbox One reveal - there were quite a few people watching the reveal live on their Xbox 360's, with their Kinect 1.0's attached...and everytime the Microsoft exec demonstrated a feature by saying "Xbox, TV" or whatever the viewer's Kinect 1.0 would pick up the voice command and respond accordingly...by pausing or stopping the stream and going to the TV mode. I find that hilarious I also find the concept of Kinect 2.0 hilarious. So if you've got a bunch of people on the couch watching a movie...don't move a muscle. Stare blankly. Don't move your arms at all or say anything, or the Kinect 2.0 will think you're giving it a command. If you move your arm back to point to the liquor cabinet to tell the wife to pour you a shot of whiskey, the Xbox One will think you're swiping silverscarcat: *Spies something interesting in the Crystal Ball* Well, that's interesting. I'm not sure what to think. Honestly, I'm not a big fan of the guy, but considering what the gov't did, I support him in that endeavor, but this... Seems to go too far. dennis deems: http://www.dailykos.com/story/2013/05/22/1210687/-Obama-s-leak-freakout Best political cartoon ever? Top 10, surely Hey the green bars are back! Jay: Hmmm... Gonna have to hack my PSP... silverscarcat: I need a new battery for my PSP. :( It keeps shutting off if it's unplugged for more than 2-3 minutes, even on a full charge. Mike Masnick: green bars are back, and hopefully functioning better than before. :) silverscarcat: Oh look, AJ's having a cow and the internet tough guy is trying to be a stereotypical high school bully. *Rolls eyes* Hey, Mike, I know it's not in your nature to ban someone, but, damn, something needs to be done about this sometimes I think. Rikuo: unfortunately, nothing can be done. IP address block? Useless since either AJ is on a dynamic IP or he's on a static but using someone else's equipment. Username block? That would only add fuel to the "CENSORSHP" fire silverscarcat: Well, I think I'm going to leave for the day. That troll that plays the internet tough guy really should get laid, I think. It might help him think straight. Rikuo: holy fucking shit...I want to be this man http://arstechnica.com/information-technology/2013/05/fios-customer-discovers-the-limits-of-unlimited-data-77-tb-in-month/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+arstechnica%2Findex+%28Ars+Technica+-+All+content%29 Warning - Home Server pornz on that link BentFranklin: in that article, where it describes his rack, what does 1u, 2u, 4u etc mean? Jeff: @Bent - 1U, 2U, 4U are units of measurement for server racks. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rack_unit Dark Helmet: Hell, I"m just a silly tech services sales guy and I knew that...