February 2009: The Perfect Month

Just a little note for those who didn’t notice: we won’t be seeing another month like this month of this year for quite a long time again — one that starts on Sunday and ends on Saturday, comprising exactly four weeks.

Thankfully, someone already thought to ask my question before I did (although some of the people answering didn’t read the entire question). This one appears to be the most sound:

The last time this happened was 2004. It doesn’t happen every “so many years”. If it’s leap year obviously there cannot be a perfect 28 day month even if the first day is a Sunday.

Non- leap years push the dates one day ahead the following year. For example, if Jan 31 1 fell on a Friday this year, next year it would fall on a Saturday (perfect Feb 1 on a Sunday!). If this were to happen on a leap year however, next year Jan 31 would fall on a Sunday causing the perfect Feb not to happen.

So, a perfect 28 day February beginning on a Sunday and ending on a Saturday (exactly four perfect weeks) happens every six years until Jan 31 falls on a Saturday on a leap year; then we wait 5 more years.

There is either 6 or 11 years between. There is a random pattern of 6’s and 11’s. The long stretch is caused by Jan 31 falling on a Saturday in a leap year sending Feb 1 to start on Monday the next year as opposed to a Sunday if it were a non-leap year. So then we had to wait for the cycle to run through all days of the week again and until Jan 31 fell on a Saturday in a non-leap year.

Perfect February’s since 1970, next was 81, 87, 98, 09. Next one is due in 2015.

Clarifying Ripley: The Singapore Flyer

It’s been a while since I did one of these, so I figured I’d get my restart perhaps on something a little easier. The most recent Ripley’s Believe-It-Or-Not feature comic panel notes that the Signapore Flyer is the tallest/widest ferris wheel and takes half an hour to make one complete revolution.

Singapore Flyer Official Website

Manufactured by Mitsubishi’s Heavy Industries, “the final capsule (each air conditioned and holds 28 people) was installed on October 2, 2007. The wheel started rotating on February 11, 2008 and officially opened to the public on March 1, 2008. Tickets for rides on the first 3 nights were sold out for US$6,271 (which comes to $8,888 in Singapore currency, number that predicts prosperity in Chinese culture). The grand opening for the Flyer was held on 15 April 2008,” notes the wiki article (paraphrased by me).

The wheel itself is 42 stories high, and perches atop a 3-story transportation terminal. It initially rotated one particular direction, but at the advice of Feng-Shui masters, the direction was reversed.

The following is a slightly-corny promotional video from YouTube, about the Singapore Flyer:

The Singapore Flyer was the subject of some worldwide news articles again when it suffered a power loss and trapped quite a number of people in their capsules, according to this Goldsea article. It had lost power for an hour or so at least twice since it first opened, but this particular time was a 6-hour ordeal as people waited patiently for the ride to begin moving again. Some people closer to the ground had to be lowered by ropes for rescue, while others were delivered sandwiches and soft drinks by delivery harnesses as they waited out the repairs. The ABC article for the same story has a photograph of a closeup of one of the capsules.

Flickr Pool of Singapore Flyer Photographs

A February 23, 2002 announcement published on Emporis.com notes plans for a 170-meter-tall ferris wheel to be built in Moscow, which would trump the Signapore Flyer by 20 meters, with an appx opening date of 2004, in hopes of attracting 70 million riders per year — but I can’t find any other reference to the wheel in Moscow beyond that article.

Another, larger ferris wheel is being constructed in the middle east called the Great Dubai Wheel to open in 2009, reaching 185 meters. Even still, another Chinese wheel is to be opened in 2010 reaching 208 meters, called the Great Observation Wheel according to China’s Great Wheel Corporation website.

Hydraulic Earth Mover Photoset.. Amazing!

At first, I saw this image of a hydraulic earth mover with its main scoop shovel up against a tower as if it was going to push it over. The caption (from a message board forum) said it was going to demonstrate its arm strength. I’m like, pssh, pushing over a tower is strength? But then I saw the rest.

WOW!

Anyhow, here are a few more picture sets of amazing crane or earth mover photos of stuff tipping over, accidentals, and HOLY—- moments:

Dark Roasted Blend – Heavy Machinery Acrobatics
Dark Roasted Blend – Heavy Machinery Acrobatics 2

Astoundingly Detailed Sketches: Daniel Simon

While running through the usual avenues for random images, I came upon a site by a gentleman who does computer illustration by trade, but by hobby does these amazing painstaking concept-design sketches using only a ball-point pen, a gray marker, and digital airbrush just as something to throw in the mix and not get bogged down with work.

DanielSimon.net – Concept Sketches

In some ways, I’m surprised it’s done by hand. But then again — how else could it be?

(note: there is a tasteful, but still nsfw, sketch section two clicks away)

“A Chicken Goes… Cluck cluck cluck!” Website

There’s a spiffy little website (must open a pop-up window to work) that has pictures of animals of which you may click, to receive — not the actual animal sound, but children recreating that sound — and from around the world, at that! It is quite a delightful website. There also happen to be other things like ambulance sirens and general random things that a kid might know.

My favorites so far:

))) The german version of an ambulance (bottom left corner for ambulance, first of the middle row of ambulances for german)
))) the hungarian version of a duck (top right corner for duck, first of the bottom row of ducks for hungarian)
))) the uk version of a lion (two down from the top left corner for lion, first of the top row of lions for the uk)
))) the italian version of a cat (just below the lion, middle of the bottom row on the second page for italian)

Good fun!

Video: Automated Book Scanner

I could definitely use one of these, as I’ve got tons of books. A book is placed in a V-shaped wooden holder, and a scanner device dips between the splayed-open pages, lifting up the two faces of the plainly visible sides (by what I presume to be static electricity) and getting to the edge, flops them over to dip down and repeat. Works for both narrow and fat-spined books.

Artists Compete to Create Your Logo

I’ve come across a website that permits artists to compete for a cash prize that you can set, to come up with a logo for your business, club, or whatever. It’s called 99designs, and could also serve for some good inspiration in your own logo-making, if you’re into that kind of thing.

If I can somehow manage to get advertisers and make a few revenue dollars, I may sponsor one such logo design campaign myself. But I think I’ll do the Water4Gas thing on the right column there before that.. looks interesting. Better start saving my quarters =P

UWash Students Develop Video Technique

Some enterprising students at University of Washington have devised a video-modifying technique that enhances video footage — by introducing high-resolution photographs of the scene. You’ve heard of the “photoshopped!”.. be prepared to hear the remark, “spacetime fusioned!” ..well, maybe something more catchy should be used.

Using Photographs to Enhance Videos of a Static Scene

The link offers a video demonstration of the technique in practice. The technique/software can even be used to edit out something that obstructs the view, like a pole, by using intuitive guessing and contextual image information to render what should be behind the pole when it is removed. It can also be used to modify the video to make color pictures (sitting on a table in a frame) into b/w, or change the frame itself to a new design, even add or remove reflections in the frame’s pane. Freaky!

Animation and Designs in Water Fountain

A leisure facility called Canal City, in Fukuoka Japan, has a unique water fountain — it drops water to the ground from quite a number of well-timed spigots that create shapes on the way down. Rather clever idea! It’s kinda long, and the sequence of the shapes seem to be as if the “show” is actually just a demonstration of the general capability of the device, rather than to be a nail biter. Some of the designs are rather humdrum, some of them particularly clever.

pHforAmerica.org Smear Tactic Debunked

I promise not to dig too much into politics, and I want to preface that I’m not decided on any candidate yet, but I simply want to defend accurate journalism and help people not be misled by smear campaigns that build up a case for remarks made out of context. I’m not an Obama supporter (or McCain for that matter, yet, on both counts) but I want to ensure that facts are reported accurately. And so then:

There’s a propagandist website making its way through email forwards lately, that is an attempt to smear Obama’s reputation as a Christian by supposedly showing his true feelings. However, the video actually only uses a few clips out of a larger speech, and furthermore adds a few, “Did you not know..?” remarks toward the end. This is the same strategy of touters of bible contradiction that simply make a list of random verses with a common subject heading of something obscenely out of context, like “God Murders Thousands.” The addition of the “Did you not know..?” remarks implies that Obama did not actually know, but fails to even provide actual evidence that he didn’t. Apparently just asking a question that Obama is not defending in the smearer’s own video counts for legitimate journalism. Yeah right.

Here’s the original smear campaign’s video:

The video states, “On June 28, 2006, Senator Barack Obama gave a speech … where he explains why he finds it so difficult for America to use the bible to help guide our public policy,” then gives only 30 heavily edited seconds of a larger and greater context, and then makes blind accusations in rhetorical questions as if they were something profound.

However, if you were to listen to more of the original speech, Obama makes a pretty good case about how the perceptions of Christians need to be of a keener mindset of communicating the same ideas into a type of understanding that non-believers could grasp and identify with.

A lot more of the original video (still cut, but not quite so heavily or unjournalistically):

Pay attention to the smear version and the less-edited version’s difference of the audience reaction after he remarks about the Defense Department’s implementation. In the smear version, there’s only light murmuring, but in the less-cut version, the audience laughs uproariously — which would make better sense if the statements he’d made were actually of a more light-heared, poking-fun nature, rather than a deep criticism as the smear version makes it out to be.

He uses an Abraham and Isaac example, where, if we were to see the well-known event taking place, we’d call the police and have CPS take Isaac away. To me, it seems like he’s trying to get across to Christians that they/we need to be more open to discussion and deal with public policy in a much more wise technique:

You may recall how Solomon, when confronted by two women arguing over whose child a baby was — ordered a child be cut in two so each could have an equal share. The false mother agreed it should be cut, but the real mother said to give it to the false one so it would not be cut. Solomon did not actually intend to cut the baby, but gave the baby to the true mother.

Obama seems to be, in a sense, making a Judgement of Solomon. He’s taking a stance with one foot in both doors, trying to address the needs of both Christian and secular alike, in an attempt to demonstrate the disparity between actual implementation based on scripture versus secular reasoning. He doesn’t appear to actually be advocating seeing the bible as absurdity, but instead using that idea as a larger illustration about how secular citizens may perceive a scripture-based policy when instead the same goal could be reached by using a different technique of reasoning.

Editor’s Note, January 28, 2013:
The lengthier clip of Obama’s speech (called the “Call To Renewal” speech of June 28, 2006) has been somehow suspended from view, since I first wrote it four years ago. There is a better version, linked below in 5 parts, which shows the entire speech so you can have far better context of his joking nature, rather than being a stern lecture as PHFA tries to cast the remark into. The beginning of the fourth part is relevant to this post —

Part 1: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3tdoQr3BQ1g
Part 2: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XYzDIhbgDtg
Part 3: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vTFUsckSDe8
Part 4: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wVt59yd2W0U
Part 5: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x29oqiXwg34

That fourth part casts even more light on the matter, in that he was operating at the time under a hypothetical situation, and asking under whose version of Christianity we were to operate under within that hypothetical situation. It is perfectly reasonable to make weird claims, particularly when the context is entirely hypothetical.

If I were to ask, “Hypothetically, if our knees were bent the other direction, would that affect how chairs are designed?” and then suggest that “chairs would need to be made in a different design,” and taken out of context, it could be used in a propaganda video that I insisted chairs be made into a different design, rather having been related to knee-bending hypothetical question before it.

The people who are suggesting Obama isn’t Christian based on this segment are doing precisely that — taking comments out of context. He even describes, in the same speech in Part 2 (around the 5-minute mark), his acceptance of Christ at the front of the church one day.

It might be worth noting that I did not end up voting at all that year (whereas my introduction noted I was neither an Obama, nor McCain, supporter. I am still not an Obama supporter (nor any Republican nominee since then, either) but I am still a supporter of accurate journalism.

Timewaster: Fantastic Contraption

This is another physics game like the last one, except this one doesn’t have quite so many flaws! The graphics are soft and corny, there’s actually a decent degree of predictable physics, and you get to build stuff no less! Most of my Fantastic Contraptions consisted of tank-like things, but experiment. I managed to get all on the first page of levels (you can pick which one you want to do at will, no order per se.. and you can save your progress, too!) except for #10. I just couldn’t figure out how to get over that hill in the middle. Ideas?

The title sounds like a twist-of-words on the old DOS-based classic, The Incredible Machine, to me. Be sure to do the How To Play section. I guessed I didn’t need instructions, but they sure helped after I got lost so quickly =P

The music reminds me of the end titles for the Series of Unfortunate Events movie (click the little play button about mid-page here for a sample of that song)..

New MedPedia and Google Knol Sites Go Public

Going officially online at the end of 2008, a new Medical wikipedia (edited by qualified persons, though, presumably) is set to provided a massive clearinghouse of information regarding oddles of medical topics. The site can be previewed starting today at Medpedia.com according to a FoxBusiness.com article.

Incidentally, Google (who is rumored to be in talks with purchasing Digg, btw) unveils its new wiki competitor, Knol.. “like Wikipedia, with moderation,” according to ArsTechnica article. We’ll see about that.