Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
Thursday, September 09, 2021

I wouldn’t have thought that an article that goes into detail about water-skimming bugs and how they inspired walk-on-water nanorobots would be all that interesting. But it was.

So how do those things, both insect and robot versions, imitate Jesus?

It was long thought the insects used their legs to create waves to push themselves forward, like a wave hitting a boat.

In 1993, Mark Denny, a Stanford University marine biologist, pointed out a problem: If water skimmers moved by creating waves, newly hatched water skimmers would be immobile because they weren’t strong enough to create waves. In reality, newly hatched water skimmers move just as well as full grown adults.

Last year, Massachusetts Institute of Technology mathematician John M.W. Bush and two graduate students solved the riddle by placing dyes and particles in water and using a high-speed video camera.

Bush and the graduate students discovered that water striders move by pushing down on the surface of water enough to create valleys but not enough to break the surface. The water then bounces back like a trampoline to push the insect forward.

Yes, I find it fascinating. Yes, there’s probably something (else) wrong with me.

There’s plenty more tiny robot fun at Carnegie Mellon University’s NanoRobotics Lab. In addition to the waterstrider, there’s the digestive-tract capsulebot and the space-exploring geckobot.

Domo arigato, Professor Metin Sitti.

by Costa Tsiokos, Thu 09/09/2021 11:20:39 PM
Category: Tech
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bl og
Vanity plate, thy name is California. The one on the left belongs to Kalsey Consulting Group’s Adam Kalsey, who can’t believe it was available. The one on the right belongs to Blogger.com’s Joel Slovacek, and is used as a unique example of blog promotion by Biz Stone.

I’m sure both plates are available here in Florida. If you want either of them, be my guest, you crazy geek you.

By the way, Stone’s article actually has some solid advice for self-promoting a blog (once you get past the obligatory Blogger.com crud — just start reading under the “Blogging Technique Suggestions” header).

by Costa Tsiokos, Thu 09/09/2021 10:45:58 PM
Category: Advert./Mktg., Bloggin'
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Vegas might have scores of quickie drive-thru and Elvis chapels, but Clearwater’s got Weddings On Water, touted as “America’s Only Floating Chapel”.

Then again, with all the Frances-related flooding we’ve gotten here lately, I’m willing to bet that Weddings On Water suddenly has plenty of unintended competition.

by Costa Tsiokos, Thu 09/09/2021 10:15:43 PM
Category: Florida Livin'
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When the Beef Council introduced cheeseburger fries a year ago, Director of New Product Development Betty Hogan conveyed these sentiments:

“We want beef in dessert if we can get it there.”

Those words proved to be prophetic, for cheeseburger-flavored ice cream has been realized — in Venezuela, along with the other 811 (and counting) flavors at the Heladeria Coromoto ice cream parlor.

There is smoked trout-flavored ice cream and tuna ice cream, along with shrimp, squid, ham and cheese, meat, whiskey, beer, champagne, wine, crab, rice, pumpkin, roses, black beans, ginger, asparagus, chili, spaghetti and cheese, garlic and corn - and many more.

The garlic ice cream carries a sharp, strong taste like, well, garlic. The black bean flavor looks like thick, dark goo but tastes like black beans, but much sweeter.

You can spot little chunks of white tuna in the tuna ice cream, and the meat ice cream is made from something akin to mashed filet mignon.

“The key is that we use no chemicals,” said [store owner Manuel Da Silva Oliveira], who works the cash register and clearly relishes his quirky fame. “It’s all natural. If you eat the spaghetti with cheese ice cream, it has real spaghetti and cheese in it.”

Given the breadth and depth of flavors, could you make a meal out of the right combination of scoops? You sure can:

Some customers are looking to score a quick meal by mixing and matching flavors.

One popular combination is shrimp and beer ice cream. Dried fish and potatoes is another favorite double scoop. One local asks every day for cazuela de mariscos, or seafood stew, a Venezuelan staple.

“I make it with five balls of different fish flavors,” explained Oliveira, who charges about 50 cents per scoop.

But of course, all of Oliveira’s avocado and orange-blossom infusing skills wouldn’t be worth a thing if he couldn’t also cook up a Viagra-inspired scoop of frozen goodness:

“There is no Viagra in it, but there are two aphrodisiacs - honey and pollen,” explained Oliveira.

How effective is it? “I have just taken a small bite of Viagra and it’s given me incredible strength,” read one note posted in the shop.

I’m thinking the same thing you’re thinking: Watch out, Ben & Jerry!

by Costa Tsiokos, Thu 09/09/2021 09:34:05 PM
Category: Food
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Faced with competition from alternative newsweeklies that are often distributed for free, newspaper publishers are launching their own freebies. These vehicles are seen as the most effective way to snare and retain the sweet-spot young-adult demographic.

It turns out that my own local paper, and indirect employer, the St. Petersburg Times, is joining the game with TBT (Tampa Bay Times). It’s set to debut tomorrow; it got a cryptic ad announcing it in today’s Weekend section.

This will bring the Times into more direct competition with the Bay area’s established freebie, the Weekly Planet. The tussle over advertisers will be fierce. Some of the more borderline accounts (i.e. bong shops, detox pills) will gladly be ceded to the Planet. The more lucrative advertisers, such as apartment listings, cars and such, will be what TBT targets. I imagine the marketing muscle of the Times will help, but the Planet can always use Creative Loafing Inc.’s modest regional spread in Atlanta and Charlotte to counter.

by Costa Tsiokos, Thu 09/09/2021 08:10:03 PM
Category: Florida Livin', Publishing
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bottoms up
You’d have to like martinis a lot to devote an entire website to them.

Of course, if I were to devote an entire website to them, I’d take care to not litter it throughout with atrocious spelling and grammar. Image is everything, after all — straight-up or on the rocks.

The other thing that hurts the site’s credibility: It avows devotion to a perfect martini — yet considers the recipe of said “perfect martini” (even the URL for “recipe” is misspelled, Christ) to be that of… a vodka martini.

Vodka. Are you kidding me? I don’t mind an occasional vodka martini, or vodka in general. But when you’re talking about the ideal martini, in all its splendor, it’s gin all the way, baby.

Still, warts and all, A Perfect Martini is local, based out of Tampa Bay. So I’ll give them the linkage (in this post only).

by Costa Tsiokos, Thu 09/09/2021 07:48:52 PM
Category: Food
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