Friday, February 29, 2008

ONCE: Falling Slowly.

This song reminds me that in a parallel Universe, years ago, I took a bus ride for fun. I met and asked a girl out on a date. We went rowing on a lake that weekend. We were in our 20's. She was a talented musician. We have been together ever since, in college, in love, building our careers, writing songs, making music, having kids, buying a home, saving the world.

Back in this Universe I've been fairly happy ... but something is missing ... because I missed that bus. I think she looks like Gillian Anderson, but that's just a guess. She is living her life vaguely annoyed with a man she never met, a man who never took her rowing. Now she rows alone, mumbling to herself, "I should be on a bus, not in a boat."


Xeno's Daydream of the Humunculiria

Today February 28, 2008, the truth was revealed to me by GOD in a vision. God told me his true nature, and I will tell it to you: God is a sentient colony of microbes in the center of our brains which control everything we do. We are giant robots for them. Our brains exist to amplify their thoughts, our bodies to do their will. They live for millions of years causing our belief that we have immortal souls. They are space travelers causing our belief that we come from the stars. They are almost everywhere, so we believe that God is everywhere and that God is very large. But as microbes, they are invisible to us, as God is invisible. They move to new hosts causing our belief in reincarnation. They control the voices in our heads, causing our certainty that a God listens and responds. They are our souls, our gods, our true selves. They are the Humunculiria.


Meteorite Mysteries

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Five months after a meteorite made an international splash in Peru, experts are suggesting explanations for some of the space rock's effects - for example, the sickening odor villagers smelled at the crash site, and the bubbles that were seen emanating from the water-filled crater left behind. But a study due to be presented next month also raises fundamental questions about the event. In fact, an international research team declares that the impact "should not have happened" at all.

The Peruvian meteorite impact comes in for a fresh round of scientific scrutiny in a study submitted by researchers from Brown University and institutes in Peru and Uruguay. Just after the impact was reported, some scientists doubted whether a meteorite was actually responsible for the crater - but subsequent analysis proved that a stony space rock was involved (as opposed to a denser iron meteorite).

... Meteorite hunter Michael Farmer, who visited the site last year soon after the impact, has said the sickening odor that villagers said emanated from the crater was most likely caused by sulfurous compounds such as triolite interacting with the ground water - and there's nothing in the latest study that contradicts that suggestion.

The Peruvian meteorite may be in for another shot at fame: Just last week, Living in Peru reported that Japanese investors are interested in building a space museum near the impact site, and that National Geographic is planning a documentary about the meteorite.

Now to the other space-rock study: Meteorite hunters from the Lunar and Planetary Institute and NASA's Johnson Space Center reported finding a pair of specimens in 2006 in Antarctica's Graves Nunataks area.

"These meteorites are not obviously like any other meteorites, so their origin is unclear," the Lunar and Planetary Institute said in its media advisory. "The mineralogy and chemical composition of these meteorites are so unusual that scientists have been struggling to find the right term to describe them. Numerous parent bodies have been proposed. Could they have come from the moon? From Venus? Scientists are currently debating these issues."

The researchers behind the study say they're not finished with their analysis of the rocks, and more findings may emerge at next month's conference. So stay tuned as the meteorite tales and other mysteries are fully brought to light. - msnbc

Bruce Willis Look Alike Swims 10 Hours to Shore

fisherman.jpgA fisherman swam for more than 10 hours to find help for the two companions he left behind after their boat sank off the east coast of Australia.

The exhausted swimmer was found on a beach, and coastguards were then able to find one of the men. He had spent 30 hours at sea, clinging to debris. The search continues for the boat's skipper. Source: BBC

Thirty hours at sea, he clung to debris. A song, I think, it sure should be.

Death Star Hotel in Azerbaijan Is No Moon


click to enlarge 

This 521-foot-high hotel is coming to Baku, Azerbaijan, either to host a bunch of Imperial forces or obliterate the local population with a giant death ray. They call it "Full Moon" but they are not fooling us: this is a fully armed, fully operational battle station. And it shall be destroyed before it's too late, with a bunch of small fighters that can escape its turbolasers and drop proton torpedoes down an exhaust port. Or maybe not, if you look at it from its side.



Famed geneticist creating life form that turns CO2 to fuel

aleqm5iqqzvy2kq3tnlh4eownqezvp-4nw.jpeA scientist who mapped his genome and the genetic diversity of the oceans said Thursday he is creating a life form that feeds on climate-ruining carbon dioxide to produce fuel.Geneticist Craig Venter disclosed his potentially world-changing "fourth-generation fuel" project at an elite Technology, Entertainment and Design conference in Monterey, California.

"We have modest goals of replacing the whole petrochemical industry and becoming a major source of energy," Venter told an audience that included global warming fighter Al Gore and Google co-founder Larry Page.

"We think we will have fourth-generation fuels in about 18 months, with CO2 as the fuel stock."

Simple organisms can be genetically re-engineered to produce vaccines or octane-based fuels as waste, according to Venter. Biofuel alternatives to oil are third-generation. The next step is life forms that feed on CO2 and give off fuel such as methane gas as waste, according to Venter.

"We have 20 million genes which I call the design components of the future," Venter said. "We are limited here only by our imagination." His team is using synthetic chromosomes to modify organisms that already exist, not making new life, he said. Organisms already exist that produce octane, but not in amounts needed to be a fuel supply.

"If they could produce things on the scale we need, this would be a methane planet," Venter said. "The scale is what is critical; which is why we need to genetically design them." The genetics of octane-producing organisms can be tinkered with to increase the amount of CO2 they eat and octane they excrete, according to Venter.

The limiting part of the equation isn't designing an organism, it's the difficulty of extracting high concentrations of CO2 from the air to feed the organisms, the scientist said in answer to a question from Page.

Scientists put "suicide genes" into their living creations so that if they escape the lab, they can be triggered to kill themselves. - afp

Airborne Bacteria Make It Rain, Snow, Researchers Find

The sky is not an ethereal, sterile realm. It's teeming with bacteria, and scientists say that the microbes play a powerful role in producing rain and snow.While the idea that bacteria could prompt precipitation was previously known, a paper published this week in Science shows that they're more important than anyone expected.

Researchers led by Louisiana State University microbiologist Brent Christner analyzed snow samples from around the world, categorizing the content of their "nucleators" -- tiny particles that help water vapor coalesce and freeze.

All snow and most rain begins as ice. Though water is widely thought to have a freezing point of zero degrees Celsius, it's not so simple in the clouds, where pristine vapors only bind to form ice crystals at exceedingly cold temperatures. Nucleators let crystallization happen in the less extreme conditions that prevail in much of Earth's troposphere.

Christner found bacteria, technically known as "biological ice nucleators," in an atmospheric context. High levels of bacteria were present in nearly every sample.

"Atmospheric scientists haven't previously recognized that these particles are so widely distributed," he said.

The findings raise the question of how climate change and human activities will affect bacterial balances in the sky. More immediately, they're a starting point for research on bacterial contributions to cloud formation and precipitation.

In its latest report, the International Panel on Climate Change said that the impact of feedback loops involving clouds on global weather patterns are the "largest source of uncertainty" in current predictions of climate change.

Christner's findings won't overturn the IPCC's fundamental conclusions -- a high probability of dramatically rising global temperatures -- but they should spur research that will help scientists predict the changes in greater detail, said Princeton University climate scientist Leo Donner, who was not involved in the study. ...

The fact that bacteria could cause snow and rain was discovered almost by accident in the 1970s by study co-author David Sands, a Montana State University plant pathologist, during his research on Pseudomonas syringae, a microbe that causes ice to form on leaves.

Man in Critical Condition in Ricin Case

A man who stayed in a Las Vegas hotel room where ricin was discovered on Thursday has been hospitalized in critical condition since Feb. 14 with symptoms consistent with exposure to the deadly toxin, Las Vegas police said Friday.
The man’s identity, age and hometown were being withheld on Friday as investigators tried to determine why ricin, as well as castor beans from which is it derived, were found in a room at an Extended Stay America hotel one mile west of the Las Vegas Strip.

Deputy Chief Kathleen Suey said the man had been staying in the room where the ricin was found for an unknown length of time and was leasing the room when the substance was discovered. A man, said to be a relative or friend of the sick man, had gone into the room to retrieve the patient’s belongings when he found the vials of white powder and showed it to the hotel’s manager, Deputy Chief Suey said.

Police were called by the hotel. The man had been hospitalized on Feb. 14 with respiratory distress but did not indicate to doctors that he may have been exposed to ricin, so the health district and police were not notified of the prospect, she said.

An evacuation ensued and seven people were taken to local hospitals for treatment, though they were released when they showed no signs of exposure, Deputy Chief Suey said. The hotel was reopened early Friday after public health officials determined they had found and removed all the ricin.

The patient has not yet been questioned and is believed to be unconscious, she said.

F.B.I. national spokesman Richard Kolko said the incident did not appear to be related to terrorism “based on the information gathered so far.”

Still, Deputy Chief Suey said police could not explain why the ricin was present or what its intent might have been.

Strip resort executives were watching the developments carefully. A weekly scheduled conference call between police and heads of casino security was coincidentally held on Friday morning and included a statement from officials that the ricin incident was “very contained and isolated,” said Harrah’s Entertainment spokesman Gary Thompson, whose company owns the Rio All-Suites Casino-Resort and Caesars Palace. Both are within a mile of the Extended Stay America hotel involved.

Laboratory tests conducted on Friday confirmed Thursday’s initial tests that found the substance was ricin, a deadly poison derived from beans of the common weed castor.

“Ricin has no medical uses other than cancer research,” said Captain Joseph Lombardo, head of the Homeland Security unit for Las Vegas police. “An individual citizen, other than being involved in cancer research or cancer prevention, would not have any legal means or proper means of having that.”

Dr. Nicholas J. Vogelzang, director of the Nevada Cancer Institute, said none of his researchers use the substance and nobody involved with the institute has stayed at the hotel in recent months, if ever.

“We’re not doing anything here with it,” Dr. Vogelzang said. “It’s not a currently active treatment,” he said, explaining that most cancer researchers have abandoned experimenting with ricin because it is so dangerous to people.

That the incident occurred off the Strip was a slight relief for resort owners.

“Yeah, I suppose you could say that, but I think it’s a shame that it happened at all,” Mr. Thompson said. “It’s alarming that this material is out there and somebody is ill.”

Ricin can be extremely lethal. As little as 500 micrograms, or about the size of the head of a pin, can kill a human, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Web site.

This is the second major public health scare in Las Vegas this week. On Wednesday, the Southern Nevada Health District sent out as many as 40,000 letters to people who may have been exposed to hepatitis C at a local clinic after it was discovered the clinic was reusing dirty syringes as standard procedure since May 2004.

The scale of the potential problem prompted the nation’s largest public notification on the matter in U.S. history. - NYT

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Test post from Google Partner web page


Google allows you to set up your own web pages now if you are a company. Similar to wordpress, you can add widgets to your page.

Check out the Xenophilia Google page for an example of something created quickly. The UFOMaps - sightings as they happen only shows up for me when I'm logged in...

Bats Use Magnetic Substance As Internal Compass To Help Them Navigate

080226213443.jpgThey may not be on most people's list of most attractive species, but bats definitely have animal magnetism. Researchers from the Universities of Leeds and Princeton have discovered that bats use a magnetic substance in their body called magnetite as an 'internal compass' to help them navigate.
Dr Richard Holland from Leeds' Faculty of Biological Sciences and Professor Martin Wikelski from Princeton University studied the directions in which different groups of Big Brown bats flew after they had been given different magnetic pulses and released 20km north of their home roost.Dr Holland was part of the team which, in 2006, discovered that bats used the Earth's magnetic field to get around, but until now, how bats were able to sense the field was still unknown. Big Brown bats were put through a magnetic pulse 5000 times stronger than the Earth's magnetic field, but orientated the opposite way. (The bats were put into a coil (10cm diameter by 10 cm long) which produced a pulse of 0.4 seconds that was 0.1 tesla in strength.)

Dr Holland said: "We had three groups of bats. One had undergone the magnetic pulse with a different orientation, and one control group had received no pulse at all. The third group had undergone the pulse, but in the same orientation as the Earth's magnetic field. By including this group, we could easily see if changes in behaviour were the result of confusion caused by the pulse itself rather the impact of its orientation on the magnetite."

The control group made their way home as normal, as did those which had undergone the pulse with the same orientation to the Earth's magnetic field. But of those which had been through the pulse with a different orientation, half went home but half went in the opposite direction.

"This clearly showed that it is the magnetite in their cells which give bats their direction as we were able to change how the bats used it as an internal compass, turning their north into south," says Dr Holland. "But as only half were affected, it's likely there is another mechanism as well, which in some bats enabled them to override the impact of the pulse."

Magnetite is found in the cells of many birds and mammals, including humans, but if we were once able to find our way by an internal compass, it's a skill we appear to have lost long ago.

- ScienceDaily

Sea reptile is biggest on record


A fossilised "sea monster" unearthed on an Arctic island is the largest marine reptile known to science, Norwegian scientists have announced.

The 150 million-year-old specimen was found on Spitspergen, in the Arctic island chain of Svalbard, in 2006. The Jurassic-era leviathan is one of 40 sea reptiles from a fossil "treasure trove" uncovered on the island. Nicknamed "The Monster", the immense creature would have measured 15m (50ft) from nose to tail. - bbc

Employee's suit: Company used waterboarding to motivate workers

A supervisor at a motivational coaching business in Provo is accused of waterboarding an employee in front of his sales team to demonstrate that they should work as hard on sales as the employee had worked to breathe. In a lawsuit filed last month, former Prosper, Inc. salesman Chad Hudgens alleges his managers also allowed the supervisor to draw mustaches on employees' faces, take away their chairs and beat on their desks with a wooden paddle "because it resulted in increased revenues for the company."

Prosper president Dave Ellis responded that the allegations amount to "sensationalized" versions of events that have gone uncorroborated by Hudgens' former coworkers.

"They just roll their eyes and say, 'This is ridiculous . . . That's not how it went down,' " Ellis said.

The suit claims that Hudgens' team leader, Joshua Christopherson, asked for volunteers in May for "a new motivational exercise," which he did not describe. Hudgens, who was 26 at the time, volunteered in order to "prove his loyalty and determination," the suit claims.

Christopherson led the sales team to the top of a hill near the office and told Hudgens to lie down with his head downhill, the suit claims. Christopherson then told the rest of the team to hold Hudgens by the arms and legs. Christopherson poured water from a gallon jug over Hudgens' mouth and nostrils - like the interrogation strategy known as "waterboarding" - and told the team members to hold Hudgens down as he struggled, the suit alleges.
"At the conclusion of his abusive demonstration, Christopherson told the team that he wanted them to work as hard on making sales as Chad had worked to breathe while he was being waterboarded," the suit alleges.

Ellis said the exercise was a dramatization of a story in which a young man asks Socrates to become his teacher. Socrates responds by plunging the student's head underwater and telling him he will learn once his desire for knowledge is as great as his desire to breathe. - sltrib

Accountant Found Dead of Suicide in Brooklyn Hotel Room

An accountant was found dead in a hotel bathtub with his face covered by duct tape in what authorities say was a suicide.Paul Mento, 52, worked for The Associated Press for 26 years, including more than 15 as budget director. His body was discovered Monday afternoon at a Best Western in Brooklyn by a hotel maid, police said. He had checked in earlier that day, police said.

Mento apparently suffocated because of the duct tape. The medical examiner ruled the death a suicide and said it was caused by asphyxia due to obstruction of the nose and mouth, spokeswoman Ellen Borakove said.

Police are unsure of the circumstances that preceded Mento's death, but investigators have information that he had a gambling problem, according to a law enforcement official who spoke on condition of anonymity because the investigation has not been completed.

Police said he left no suicide note. - 1010wins

Sicily Mafia 'restoring US links'

_44412394_italy_suspects_afp203b.jpgSicily's Mafia is rebuilding its networks in the US, according to an Italian parliamentary report. The report says Cosa Nostra has been sending people to the US to form alliances with families with which it had lost contact in the 1980s. It says that while the mob maintains a foothold in the lucrative drugs trade, it is now moving into new areas. Although Cosa Nostra has its roots in Italian organised crime, it has long been a separate organisation in the US. But this month in an operation codenamed Old Bridge, a reference to these long-standing links between Sicily and New York, the FBI revealed details of the new relationships being formed across the Atlantic. They rounded up more than 80 gangsters in New York including the acting bosses of the Gambino crime family - known to have direct links with Sicily. The Italian anti-mafia commission says Old Bridge was a remarkable success but it shows the Sicilian Cosa Nostra is "re-establishing its links with the American cousins".

The commission says it has evidence Cosa Nostra is sending its top members to New York while allowing those expelled by the mob during the clan wars of the 1980s to return home to Sicily. Their report says that many US food distribution and construction firms are now controlled by the US Cosa Nostra, whose bosses are of Sicilian origin and have direct links.

And while Cosa Nostra still maintains its control over the lucrative drugs trade and its traditional activities of extortion and racketeering, it is now diversifying into new industries like online gambling. Angela Napoli, a member of the anti-mafia commission, says the work to defeat Cosa Nostra falls on the Italian politicians - who must do more - and on the very brave witnesses who come forward to give evidence.

The commission says not enough is being done to help them. Those under state protection say they feel abandoned. And consequently the number now prepared to come forward is falling. - BBC

Isn't the US already run by organized crime? ;-)

Record-high ratio of Americans in prison

For the first time in U.S. history, more than one of every 100 adults is in jail or prison, according to a new report documenting America's rank as the world's No. 1 incarcerator. It urges states to curtail corrections spending by placing fewer low-risk offenders behind bars.

Using state-by-state data, the report says 2,319,258 Americans were in jail or prison at the start of 2008 - one out of every 99.1 adults. Whether per capita or in raw numbers, it's more than any other nation.

The report, released Thursday by the Pew Center on the States, said the 50 states spent more than $49 billion on corrections last year, up from less than $11 billion 20 years earlier. The rate of increase for prison costs was six times greater than for higher education spending, the report said. ...

While many state governments have shown bipartisan interest in curbing prison growth, there also are persistent calls to proceed cautiously.

"We need to be smarter," said David Muhlhausen, a criminal justice expert with the conservative Heritage Foundation. "We're not incarcerating all the people who commit serious crimes. But we're also probably incarcerating people who don't need to be."

According to the report, the inmate population increased last year in 36 states and the federal prison system.

The largest percentage increase - 12 percent - was in Kentucky, where Gov. Steve Beshear highlighted the cost of corrections in his budget speech last month. He noted that the state's crime rate had increased only about 3 percent in the past 30 years, while the state's inmate population has increased by 600 percent. - AP


'Bird Boy' Found In Russia

birdboy.jpeA young boy is close to being more bird than human because he was never spoken to while living in a virtual aviary. Authorities say the 7-year-old boy’s only form of communication was “chirping” after spending his life in a bird cage-filled apartment with a mother who treated him like one of her pets.The “bird-boy” – whom authorities said suffered from Mowgli syndrome, from the Jungle Book character raised by wild animals - didn't engage in any normal human communication but instead learnt the language of birds. Social worker Galina Volskaya said authorities were shocked when they found the boy in a two-bedroom apartment – which had bird droppings scattered across the floor.

“When you start talking to him, he chirps,” Volskaya said.

Volskaya also said when the boy becomes frustrated by being unable to communicate with authorities using bird-talk, he waves his arms as if they were wings. The boy’s mother has given him over to authorities, who have reportedly placed him in an asylum.

Source: Daily Telegraph

Son's Tooth Helps Man Gain Vision

eye.jpgA man has regained partial sight after surgeons inserted one of his son's teeth into an eye socket. Robert McNichol, 57, from County Sligo on Ireland's west coast, was injured in an explosion at his waste recycling business two years ago.Doctors said nothing could be done, but he found an expert in the UK performing pioneering surgery known as 00KP.

It treats severe cases of blindness by using a tooth to hold a man-made lens in place in the eye socket.

Mr McNichol's son Robert Jnr, 23, volunteered one of his teeth when he heard about the procedure. The tooth was removed, chiselled through and a lens placed in its core. It was then inserted into Mr Nichol's right eye after a series of operations. Doctors said they could not replicate the procedure on his left eye as it was too badly damaged.

Source: BBC

Earth's Final Sunset Predicted


"Some say the world will end in fire, Some say in ice," wrote the poet Robert Frost. Astronomers, it turns out, are in the former camp. A new calculation predicts that Earth will be swallowed up by the sun in 7.6 billion years, capping off a longstanding debate over whether the sun's gravitational pull will have weakened enough for Earth to escape final destruction or not.

Other theorists have predicted that our planet will fry as the sun expands in its old age. But the time estimates have varied by a couple billion years. "Although people have looked at these problems before, we would claim this is the best attempt that's been made to date, and probably the most reliable," said astronomer Robert Smith, emeritus reader at the U.K.'s University of Sussex, who made the new calculations with astronomer Klaus-Peter Schroeder of the University of Guanajuato in Mexico. "What we've done is to refine existing models and to put the best calculations we can at each point in the model."

If 7.6 billion years doesn't sound like an urgent death sentence, don't relax yet. Regardless of whether Earth will ultimately be vaporized, as the sun heats up, our planet will become too hot to live on before then. "After a billion years or so you've got an Earth with no atmosphere, no water and a surface temperature of hundreds of degrees, way above the boiling point of water," Smith told "The Earth will become dry basically. It will become completely impossible for life of any kind to exist. It's a pretty gloomy forecast."

Nonetheless, scientists are curious about the ultimate fate of our planet after we are gone (like all previous hominids and more than 99 percent of all species that have lived on Earth, humans will probably go extinct, and it will likely happen sooner than a billion years).

Smith's earlier studies found that Earth would narrowly escape being engorged. As the sun ages and expands into a red giant star, it will shed its outer gaseous layers, thus losing mass and weakening its gravitational pull. Previous calculations found that this let-up would allow the Earth's orbit to shift outward, enabling the planet to slip free of the smoldering sun.

But this scenario doesn't account for tidal forces, and the drag of the sun's outer layers. As the Earth orbits the sun, its smaller gravitational pull isn't completely negligible — it actually causes the side of the sun closest to our planet to hoard more mass and bulge out toward us.

"Just as the Earth is pulling on the sun's bulge, it's pulling on the Earth, and that causes the Earth to slow in its orbit," Smith said. "It will spiral back and finally end up inside the sun."

In addition, the gas that the sun expels will also drag Earth inward toward its demise.

Smith's previous calculations had ignored these effects.

"We didn't think it mattered, but it turns out it does," he said. "You might say our previous models had a gap."

There may even be hope for Earth. Some scientists have proposed a scheme for down the road to use the gravity of a passing asteroid to budge Earth out of the way of the sun toward cooler territory, assuming there is life around at the time that is intelligent enough to engineer this solution.

"It sounds like science fiction, but there's a group of people who have quite seriously suggested that it might be possible," Smith said. "If it's done right, that would just keep the Earth moving fast enough to keep it out of harm's way. Maybe life could go on for as much as 7 billion years." -

Rise of the machine: Terminator-style robot war 'could be a reality within 10 years'


Robot soldiers that can decide who to attack will soon be roaming the world's battlefields if something isn't done about the global 'robot arms race'.

That is the stark warning from a leading robotics expert who spoke today of the dangers of allowing increasingly sophisticated robots to make decisions of life and death.

Professor Noel Sharkey, a robotics and artificial intelligent expert from the University of Sheffield, also warned that armed robots could soon become terrorists' weapon of choice.

"The trouble is that we can't really put the genie back in the bottle,” said Professor Starkey.

“Once the new weapons are out there, they will be fairly easy to copy. How long is it going to be before the terrorists get in on the act?"

Over 4,000 robots are currently deployed on the ground in Iraq and by October 2006 unmanned aircraft had flown 400,000 flight hours.

At the moment, humans can make the decision whether to attack or not but a recent policy shift in the U.S means that 'intelligent' autonomous attack robots will soon be given the power to decide who and when to kill.

- DailyMail

One step closer to the Matrix.

Nokia Morph Concept (long)

Sex-Change Inmate Says Treatment Stopped

Fark headline: "Prisoner who had sex change suing because she's turning back into a man. Specifically, she's turning into Geddy Lee" (Link to google image search added.)

Being quite the Rush fan, I had to look:
aleqm5jv61w75mximivgr9bzctimc3hqxa.jpgA killer who sued to have a sex change claims her body is becoming more masculine again because she's being denied treatment in prison as she awaits a ruling in her bid for the surgery. Michelle Kosilek, formerly known as Robert, said that for months she has not been allowed to have court-approved hair-removal treatment or access to a specialist to discuss her testosterone levels."My breasts have shrunk, genitals have regained previous size and function, facial hair is thicker and scalp hair is thinner, all related to an elevated testosterone level," Kosilek said in a handwritten letter submitted to the court recently.

Robert Kosilek was sentenced to life in prison in the 1990 murder of his wife. Kosilek said the slaying was self-defense after she poured boiling tea on his genitals.

Kosilek, 58, who legally changed her name to Michelle in 1993 and has been living as a woman, first sued the Department of Correction in 2000, saying its refusal to allow her to have sex-change surgery violates the Eighth Amendment protection against cruel and unusual punishment.

In 2002, U.S. District Judge Mark Wolf ruled that Kosilek was entitled to treatment for gender identity disorder — including hormone treatments, laser hair removal and psychotherapy — but stopped short of ordering sex-reassignment surgery.

Kosilek sued again in 2005, saying the treatments were not enough to relieve her anxiety and depression.

"I would not want to continue existing like this," Kosilek testified in June 2006.

The trial lasted on and off from May 2006 until March 2007, with expert testimony from 10 doctors, psychiatrists and psychotherapists. An Associated Press review last year found that the corrections department and its outside health care provider had spent more than $52,000 on experts to testify about the surgery, which would cost about $20,000.

As Geddy Lee sang, "I don't want to face the killer instinct... so I keep it under lock and key."

A strange invention from Turkey

Ron Paul Schools Ben Bernanke Yet Again

Ron Paul talks about the problems with the value of our money and the need to switch back to money backed by gold. I'm no economist, but my gold investments are doing much better than anything else lately. (Not good enough to offset the $100K in equity I've lost in my home, however.)

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Star Trek vs. Star Wars

I'm really geeking out tonight. This one is choppy and a bit sloppy,  but fun nevertheless.

Star Trek Meets Monty Python

Star Trek + Nine Inch Nails = Closer

WARNING: Strong Adult Language and situations in the song.

YouTube didn't censor it and has it posted in the non-adult area, but this one is not safe for work.

With some creative editing the producers of this video raise the absurd question: Was there something going on betwen Spock and the Captain?

White Rabbit - Star Trek Version

This one is pretty funny.

I'm surprised that YouTube still has so much music available to download for free to anyone with a Firefox Add-in like Download Helper and the Audio Extractor.

Cloverfield Movie Review

I was not planning on seeing the monster movie Cloverfield but I found it on a free Asian web site. I'm not sure how it works exactly, but I suppose paid for the movie rights so we can all watch the jerky web version of it. Cool.

Streaming Video


Test post from ScribeFire blogging system which allows me to post info from pages I browse.

'Harry Potter' Is Addictive, Study Concludes

Survey finds that 10 percent of participants showed signs of addiction, withdrawal after finishing 'Deathly Hallows.'
No more trips to Hogwarts. No more will-they-or-won't-they for Ron and Hermione. No more theorizing if Snape is good or evil. Has the magic gone from your life?

Many Potter fans would say yes, that ever since the culmination of the series with the publication of last year's "Deathly Hallows," they've been in the throes of post-Potter depression — which a group of Pennsylvania-based researchers say shows that being a Potter fan is more serious than you might think. It can actually become an addiction.

In a just-finished study that's being submitted to the Journal of General Psychology, psych professor Dr. Jeffrey Rudski and two of his undergrad students at Muhlenberg College in Allentown, Pennsylvania, report that they found characteristics of addiction in at least 10 percent of the 4,000 Potter fans they polled online. For "Harry Potter and the End of the Line: Parallels with Addiction," they used craving scales that had been established for smoking, substituting "Deathly Hallows" for cigarettes. They surveyed fans before the book's release, upon completion of the book and six months afterwards as a follow-up. The 10 percent of respondents that Rudski considers addicted described spending more than four hours a day on Potter-related activities, experiencing interference with appetite and sleep patterns, engaging in less physical activity, having a lower sense of well-being and being more irritable after completing the series.

"Some readers can become so engaged in the series and the ancillary world that grew out of it that they report behaviors that truly fit definitions of addiction or dependence," the synopsis of his draft reads.

Granted, there are at least two more Potter movies (three if they split "Deathly Hallows") and a theme park to come, but for these participants, reaching the end of the story triggered a withdrawal, akin to quitting a drug cold turkey after having being hooked for years. "An addiction is an addiction is an addiction," Rudski said. "An addiction to a drug is no different than an addiction to Harry Potter or the Internet or pornography. Although it's not always a bad thing. There's a community that you get with Harry Potter that you don't get with heroin."

The threshold for addiction is even more blurry than the one for alcoholism — with alcohol, you note whether someone's drinking alone or more of a social drinker. But if the addiction involves a community, it's harder to draw the line between fandom and compulsion. "A lot of the addiction isn't even to the series itself," Rudski said. "The series is over. The addiction is to everything that goes along with it, the ancillary world." So while he only characterizes 10 percent of participants as being addicted, there was an additional 20 percent who gave him cause for concern, reaching what he called "a critical threshold."

That would likely include participants who wrote things like "I want Rowling to know that I hate her ... because I have nothing to live for now," "I feel like someone close to me has died" and "I had trouble getting out of bed Monday morning. I was depressed and had nightmares all night long. I dreamed I was being attacked by Lucius Malfoy and Fenrir Greyback and didn't have a wand because I was Muggle-born."

Rudski, who teaches courses in psychopharmacology and learning theory, originally wanted to make a study about addictions to popular culture when he saw people "walking around in a daze" following the O.J. Simpson verdict. "I thought, 'These people are addicted to the trial! And now they're going through withdrawal,' " he said. "And I thought, if I ever have an opportunity to look at this phenomenon, I'm going to study it."

It was a toss-up for him between studying people's reaction to the end of "The Sopranos" and the end of Harry Potter, but ultimately, Rudski chose the boy wizard because his 15-year-old daughter is a fan — well, he calls her an addict but says her addiction has positive outlets. "She's picked up guitar because she wants to be in a wizard-rock band," he said. "She's studying Latin because she wants to better understand J.K. Rowling's choices of names for her characters. She started reading Stephen King and John Irving because they spoke with Rowling at Radio City two summers ago." If that's being an addict, he's down with it. - MTV

I guess I should get back to work on my continuation of the last Harry Potter story (the Amazing Chronicles of Xenophilius Lovegood) to help all of those addicts. Hehe.

Mass trance afflicts Indonesian women, factory workers


Lina, a former worker at a cigarette factory in Indonesia, says she was 17-years-old the first time she was possessed by an evil spirit.

"My older sister went down first. She was screaming and her body went rigid and she couldn't move. Then the spirit came into my body too," said Lina, who like many Indonesians has one name. Reports of schoolchildren, young women and factory workers going into mass trances or speaking in tongues are common across Indonesia's vast archipelago of 226 million people.

The phenomenon may provide an outlet for stress, some experts say. In many cultures, it is part of a religious or spiritual experience, whether in the voodoo trances of Haiti, the mass hysteria of Europe's witch trials, or Christianity's exorcisms. Earlier this month, local news station Metro TV broadcast footage of 11 students and five teachers in a mass trance at a school in the central island of Sumbawa.

Around 50 female workers at a garment factory in Tangerang, near Jakarta, went into a collective trance last June, weeping and jerking their bodies around, according to Tempo magazine. "Every society has some kind of culturally appropriate place for trance experiences, usually in religious settings," said Tanya Luhrmann, a Stamford University anthropologist who studies witchcraft and evangelical Christianity, where such group faintings are common.

"There appears to be a contagion element to trance, but it really requires some kind of willingness on the part of the individual," she said in an emailed reply to questions, adding that this was the case even if it seemed unconscious or unwilled. In trance, people can do and say things for which they are unlikely to be held responsible, which can be cathartic, particularly for weaker members of society, she said.


Religion, education and development have done little to budge widespread acceptance of the supernatural among Indonesia's diverse ethnic and religious groups. "In Indonesia, trance is tied up with culture," said Lidia Laksana Hidajat, research coordinator in the psychology faculty of Jakarta's Atma Jaya University.

"We know that there are traditional trance dances in Bali but this is already a modern world. Indonesia is developing very fast but it still happens all the time," said Hidajat, who has been researching mass trance in Indonesia. Few Indonesians are comfortable discussing their trance experiences, but Lina, now 23, said she had been possessed many times in the past six years, always by the same djinn.

"Its face is exactly the same face as my older sister but the body is hard to make out. It calls my name but if I follow it, it disappears," she said. Lina said that mass trances were so common at the cigarette factory in Malang where she worked that she eventually quit.

Indonesian media reported a group trance among workers at Bentoel's cigarette factory in Malang, Java, in March 2006. Hidajat interviewed 30 of the affected women for her research. "They told me that when it happened, they were sitting in a very long hall, working together in rows, rolling the cigarettes by hand," she said.

"They were working in silence. That's one of the requirements of a trance to happen -- it's usually quiet and when they are engaged in monotonous activity." Suddenly, one of the workers started screaming and her body went stiff. The one next to her started crying and went stiff too. Others tried to help but soon they started too in a kind of domino effect.

A local Muslim leader was summoned, but his prayers had no effect. Eventually, the exhausted women fell asleep and when they awoke they remembered nothing. Hidajat concluded that the mass trance had more to do with exhaustion and stress than evil spirits. She says that there were many common factors between the trance victims she interviewed.

"Often they are people who are very religious or under pressure. They were also from low socio-economic backgrounds and many said they didn't have happy childhoods," she said. "All the trance dancers I met in Bali had similar vulnerable personalities."

Eko Susanto Marsoeki, director of Malang's Lawang Psychiatric Hospital, said overwork was closely linked to mass trance incidents in factories. "Usually this happens to people who had problems in their childhood and to people who are working too hard. It's a form of dissociation, a kind of hysteria," he said.

"They can't protest, but they can protest via a mass trance. So often it is a form of protest that will not be dealt with too harshly," he said. - Yahoo

Lorenzo's Oil for Autism

lorenzo.jpgRob Nijssen sits hunched over a set of scales in his homebuilt laboratory. He's weighing out herbs, oils and powders, and combining them with the skills of a practiced craftsman.

With the mischievous look in his eye, he could be a gifted academic, a drug peddler or an alchemist. He is, in fact, a man trying to save his son from a lifetime of pain and suffering. And Rob believes he's done just that.

Five years ago his son, Frederick, was diagnosed with autism. The doctors told him there was no cure and warned him to prepare for a lifetime of struggle. But he refused to give up. As a fervent believer in the power of natural remedies, he decided to develop his own autism treatment.

In a story that closely mirrors Lorenzo's Oil, doctors will soon begin testing Rob's autism treatment in a major clinical trial. It's a story that will give hope to the parents of tens of thousands of autistic children across the UK.

"Most people think that autism is a mental disease," says Rob. "But I believe that it's caused by parasites which take root in the body because of a weakened immune system."

"My treatment works by clearing out all of the toxins from the body, killing off invading microbes, and then strengthening the immune system. It works with the body to help it heal itself. Once the body is healed, then the brain can start to recover." Although it's still very early days, some doctors believe that Rob may have stumbled upon a new and potentially powerful way of helping the autistic.

... As you will recall, Lorenzo was a six-year-old child diagnosed with adrenoleukodystrophy (ALD), a rare genetic disorder that affects the nervous system of boys who have the gene. They are in perfect health until they are five or six, when the first symptoms appear. In the space of a few months, ALD robs its victims of their sight, hearing, and the ability to walk and to swallow. Within two years of diagnosis, the child is usually dead.

But Lorenzo's parents refused to give up and spent years developing a treatment based upon the essential oils found in olive and rapeseed. The doctors scoffed but Lorenzo survived. His parents were eventually proved right when the medical establishment was forced to accept that the oils could indeed stave off the disease. - newsmonster

Researchers Can Now Determine When A Human Was Born By Looking Into The Eyes Of The Dead

080129201238.jpgUsing the radiocarbon dating method and special proteins in the lens of the eye, researchers at the University of Copenhagen and Aarhus can now establish, with relatively high precision, when a person was born. This provides a useful tool for forensic scientists who can use it to establish the date of birth of an unidentified body and could also have further consequences for health science research.

The lens of the eye is made up of transparent proteins called crystallins. These are packed so tightly together and in such a particular way, that they behave like crystals, allowing light to pass through the lens of the eye so that we can see. From conception and up until a human being is 1-2 years of age, the cells in the lens build these crystalline proteins. Once this organic construction work is done, however, the lens crystallins remain essentially unchanged for the rest of our lives. This is a fact that researchers can now put to good use.

A minute quantity of Carbon (C-12) in the carbon-dioxide content of the atmosphere contains two extra neutrons and is therefore called Carbon-14 (C-14). This isotope is radioactive, but decays so slowly and harmlessly into nitrogen, that this small carbon element, which occurs quite naturally in nature, is in no way harmful to humans, plants or animals.

At the same time, carbon is one of the principal organic elements, and constantly moves in and out of the food chain. The same is true for the tiny quantity of C-14 in the atmosphere. As long as an organism is part of the food chain, the amount of C-14 in its cells will remain constant and stay at the same level as the C-14 atmospheric content. When the organism dies, however, the quantity of C-14 will slowly but surely drop over the course of thousands of years, while it transforms into nitrogen. This is they key to the Carbon 14 method known as radiocarbon dating, which scientists use to date up to 60, 000 year old biological, archaeological finds.

From the end of World War II and up until about 1960, the superpowers of the Cold War era, conducted nuclear tests, detonating bombs into the atmosphere. These detonations have affected the content of radioactive trace materials in the air and created what scientists refer to as the C-14 bomb pulse. From the first nuclear detonation and, until the ban on nuclear testing was evoked, the quantity of C-14 in the atmosphere doubled. Since 1960, it has only slowly decreased to natural levels.

This sudden curve has left an impression in the food chain and therefore also in the lens crystallins of the eyes, which have absorbed the increased carbon content through food stuffs. Since the crystallins remain unchanged once they have been created, they reflect the content of C-14 present in the atmosphere at the time of their creation. An event occurring shortly after birth. Using a large nuclear accelerator, physicists at Aarhus University can now determine the amount of C-14 in as little as one milligram of lens tissue and thereby calculate the year of birth.

Associate Professor Niels Lynnerup from the Department of Forensic Sciences developed the forensic method, together with the Department of Eye Pathology and the Department of Physics and Astronomy at Arhus University, Denmark.

Professor Lynnerup explains that the technique can have several other applications: "As has been pointed out by other researchers, we think that the carbon dating of proteins and other molecules in the human body can also be used to study when certain kinds of tissue are generated and regenerated," he explains. "This could, for example, be applied to cancer tissue and cancer cells. Calculating the amount of C-14 in these tissues could perhaps tell us when the cancerous tissues formed, and this could further the understanding of cancer."


Man Builds Cage For Car


A Chinese man has built a cage for his car to stop thieves kidnapping parts and demanding ransom money. Mr Zhang, of Jilin city, says his car's computerised engine management system was stolen twice. "Each time I found a note clipped under the wiper, with phone and bank-account numbers," he said. Each time, Zhang had to wire 500 yuan (£35) to get the part back. He has now built a cage to keep his car safe outside his home.

Source: Ananova

Create Your Own Sprint Ringtones

3. Convert the file to WAV, shorten it to 30 seconds or less. I used Audacity for that task.
4. Reduce the sound quality to be PCM, mono, 8 kHz, 16-bit..
5. Use PureVoice Converter to convert the WAV file to a QCP file (drag the WAV file onto pvconv.exe).
6. Upload the QCP file to the Mobile Phone Uploader.
7. Download it from that site to your phone and assign it like you would any other ringtone.


Got this to work today! It was difficult to find the pvconv.exe file. It looks like I can add games or even my own programs for free to my phone if I can make or find .jar files to upload.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Religious Censors in Pakistan Accidentally Block YouTube WorldWide

_42985287_shot_afp203.jpgPakistan's telecoms regulator has lifted the restrictions it imposed on video-sharing website YouTube. The Pakistan Telecommunications Authority has told internet service providers (ISPs) to restore access to the site, according to a spokeswoman.Google, the owner of YouTube, confirmed service had been restored in Pakistan.

The attempt to block the site, reportedly because of a "blasphemous" video clip, caused a near global blackout of the site on Sunday. A spokesman for YouTube told the BBC News website: "We are pleased to confirm that YouTube is again accessible in Pakistan."

It is reported that a trailer for a forthcoming film by Dutch lawmaker Geert Wilders, which portrays Islam in a negative light, was behind the restrictions.

The ban was instigated by Pakistan on Friday. At the time, the BBC News website's technology editor, Darren Waters, said that to block citizens from accessing YouTube it was believed Pakistan Telecom "hijacked" the web server address of the popular video site.

Those details were then passed on to the country's internet service providers so that anyone in Pakistan attempting to go to YouTube was instead re-directed to a different address.

But the details of the "hijack" were leaked out into the wider internet by Hong-Kong based provider PCCW and as a result YouTube was mistakenly blocked by other ISPs around the world. The block on the servers was lifted once PCCW had been told of the issue by YouTube engineers. A statement from Google said that the problems lasted for "about two hours".

"Traffic to YouTube was routed according to erroneous internet protocols, and many users around the world could not access our site," it said.

A leading net professional told BBC News: "This was probably a simple mistake by an engineer at Pakistan Telecom. There's nothing to suggest this was malicious." IP hijacking involves taking over a web site's unique address by corrupting the internet's routing tables, which direct the flow of data around the world. Other countries that have temporarily blocked access to YouTube include Turkey and Thailand. - BBC

Road Camera That Counts Car Occupants

camera.jpgMotorists will be targeted by a new generation of road cameras which work out how many people are in a car by measuring the amount of bodily fluid it contains.

The latest snooping device on the nation's roads aims to penalise lone drivers who abuse the more-than-one-occupant rule of car-sharing lanes, and is part of a Government effort to combat congestion at busy times.

The cameras work by sending an infrared beam through the windscreen of vehicles which detects the unique make-up of blood and water content in human skin.

The system's inventors believe it will catch out motorists who try to fool existing CCTV road cameras by placing mannequins in passenger seats or fixing photographs to windscreens.

Source: DailyMail

Accused witch gives birth in tree

monty_python_witch-701441.jpgA PREGNANT woman in Papua New Guinea who was hung from a tree after being accused of sorcery gave birth to her baby while struggling to free herself.

Nolan Yekum and her husband Paul were dragged from their house and hung from a tree by fellow tribesmen who accused them of sorcery after the couple's neighbour suddenly died. Their ordeal occurred in Kilip village near Banz in Western Highlands Province, PNG's newspaper The National reported today.

The woman and her baby girl, her third child, were doing well in Mt Hagen Hospital after two weeks in hiding, the report said. Her husband said men entered their house in the middle of the night with a rope and tied it round their necks, accusing them of sorcery over their neighbour's death.

They were dragged outside and hung from a tree, he said. "We managed to loosen the noose to get our feet on the ground ... we were able to free ourselves.

"My wife, who was about seven months pregnant, delivered the baby while struggling to free herself. "It was a painful experience for me and her," Mr Yekum said. He said he pleaded with villagers to wait for his neighbour's post-mortem examination and he accused local police of failing to act.

The couple denied practising sorcery.

- news

If the local police won't act then they too should be jailed along with the moronic lynch mob that did this.  The long term solution is education.

Awesome Storm Photos





Taxmen demand blood

Polish taxmen are offering Poles the chance to pay their tax bills in blood.

Every donation to the local blood banks will allow Poles to write £30 off their tax bill.

Donors have to get a certificate from the hospital for every litre donated that can then be sent to the taxman and written off against their final tax demand.

Regular donor Dariusz Gryka, from the north-eastern town of Bialystok, said: "I learnt about it from an accountant friend and started to give blood last year.

"I have only done it three times, but already it has been worth it."


Monday, February 25, 2008

Brain control headset for gamers


Gamers will soon be able to interact with the virtual world using their thoughts and emotions alone.

A neuro-headset which interprets the interaction of neurons in the brain will go on sale later this year. "It picks up electrical activity from the brain and sends wireless signals to a computer," said Tan Le, president of US/Australian firm Emotiv. "It allows the user to manipulate a game or virtual environment naturally and intuitively," she added.

The brain is made up of about 100 billion nerve cells, or neurons, which emit an electrical impulse when interacting. The headset implements a technology known as non-invasive electroencephalography (EEG) to read the neural activity.

Ms Le said: "Emotiv is a neuro-engineering company and we've created a brain computer interface that reads electrical impulses in the brain and translates them into commands that a video game can accept and control the game dynamically."

... The Epoc technology can be used to give authentic facial expressions to avatars of gamers in virtual worlds. For example, if the player smiles, winks, grimaces the headset can detect the expression and translate it to the avatar in game. It can also read emotions of players and translate those to the virtual world. "The headset could be used to improve the realism of emotional responses of AI characters in games," said Ms Le.

"If you laughed or felt happy after killing a character in a game then your virtual buddy could admonish you for being callous," she explained. The $299 headset has a gyroscope to detect movement and has wireless capabilities to communicate with a USB dongle plugged into a computer. The Emotiv said the headset could detects more than 30 different expressions, emotions and actions.
They include excitement, meditation, tension and frustration; facial expressions such as smile, laugh, wink, shock (eyebrows raised), anger (eyebrows furrowed); and cognitive actions such as push, pull, lift, drop and rotate (on six different axis).

Gamers are able to move objects in the world just by thinking of the action. Emotiv is working with IBM to develop the technology for uses in "strategic enterprise business markets and virtual worlds" Paul Ledak, vice president, IBM Digital Convergence said brain computer interfaces, like the Epoc headset were an important component of the future 3D Internet and the future of virtual communication. - BBC

Sharkman demonstrates how to tickle a shark - and not lose your fingers


Legs placed confidently apart and arm thrust forward, the deep sea diver holds his bounty aloft, like a trophy.

Except that this is no ordinary catch.

It is a 13ft long Great White Shark, which at any moment could awaken and become a frenzied mass of razor-sharp teeth and muscle.

Sharkman, real name Mike Rutzen, has earned worldwide fame for swimming with the predators without the safety of a diving cage. The former fisherman is on a crusade to show that the huge fish are not bloodthirsty killers but are intelligent and sensitive creatures.

He also wants to highlight their status as an endangered species - their jaws can fetch tens of thousands of pounds on the black market.

To successfully swim with sharks, Mike has learned to mimic their body language, changing his posture in response to their actions.

He is seen neither as prey nor predator and the sharks happily glide past him, occasionally letting him ride with them by hanging on to their dorsal fins.

It has not always been plain sailing, though - his body bears more than 30 scars from close encounters. But now he has decided to take on the ultimate challenge - as depicted in this picture - the remarkable phenomenon of "tonic immobility".

This is a natural state of paralysis, which animals sometimes enter when faced with an imminent threat. However, it can be induced in sharks by turning them on their heads and massaging their snouts, close to the eyes.

The effects last for around 15 minutes and has proved a useful tool for scientists wanting to study shark behaviour. Being able to get so close to the Great White, Mike discovered that they do not have beady black eyes, as previously thought, but they are actually a startling blue.

Source: DailyMail

Scientists "see" ghosts

scighost121.jpgThe reason that apparitions, bogeymen and phantoms like to lurk in the shadows may have been revealed by scientists.

... "Everything we see is an hallucination generated by the virtual reality machine inside our head," comments Prof Mike Morgan of The City University, London.

"Normally these hallucinations are vetoed by the information coming through our senses, so we can call perception 'controlled hallucination.'

"But when the input is ambiguous we can see all sorts of things, like the faces de Quincy saw in clouds and carpets. There are hundreds of faces hidden in the textured floors of the platforms at Euston Underground Station, if you look for them."

To reveal the haunting power of context, 18 observers were asked by the UCL team to concentrate on the centre of a black computer screen. Every time a buzzer sounded they pressed one of two buttons to record whether or not they had just seen a small, dim, grey 'target' rectangle in the middle of the screen. It did not appear every time, but when it did appear it was displayed for just 80 milliseconds (80 one thousandths of a second).

"People saw the target much more often if it appeared in the middle of a vertical line of similar looking, grey rectangles, compared to when it appeared in the middle of a pattern of bright, white rectangles. They even registered 'seeing' the target when it wasn't actually there," says Prof Zhaoping.

"This is because people are mentally better prepared to see something vague when the surrounding context is also vague. It made sense for them to see it - so that's what happened. When the target didn't match the expectations set by the surrounding context, they saw it much less often.

"Illusionists have been alive to this phenomenon for years,"continues Prof Zhaoping. "When you see them throw a ball into the air, followed by a second ball, and then a third ball which 'magically' disappears, you wonder how they did it.

"In truth, there's often no third ball - it's just our brain being deceived by the context, telling us that we really did see three balls launched into the air, one after the other."

"Contrary to what one might expect, it is a vague rather than a bright and clearly visible context that most strongly permits our beliefs to override the evidence and fill in the blanks."

This could also be why monsters tend to lurk in shadows. "In shadows many things are seen vaguely (rather than clearly), thus tending to trigger the filling-in," says Prof Zhaoping. -  telegraph

Amy Anne, my band mate, is really into ghosts. She's had some experiences and just recently captured some amazing ghost photos in a haunted hotel. She was telling me about them on the phone today. I can't wait to see them.

999-Meter-Long Wedding Dress

A 999-meter-long scarlet wedding dress is displayed in a shopping mall in Dalian, Northeast China's Liaoning Province, February 21, 2008. The hand-knitted dress features 2,008 pieces of jade, 29 golden phoenixes and 880 peonies that took dressmakers three months to finish.



Source: ChinaDaily

Shell-shaped Nautilus House

This house is more of a sculpture than a dwelling. Taking cues from a Nautilus shell, the house is put together using ferrocement construction, a technique involving a frame of steel-reinforced chicken wire with a special two-inch-thick composite of concrete spread over it, resulting in a structure that's earthquake-proof and maintenance-free.



The open concept inside the house is dominated by smooth surfaces, spiral stairs and natural plantings that makes the inhabitants feel like they're living inside a snail who swallowed the entire contents of somebody's back yard. While the house is surrounded on three sides by the bustling Mexico City, its West side (where most of its portal-style windows are located) has a breathtaking view of the mountains.

Source: Dvice

Boy Spots Rare, Perfectly Preserved 'Jurassic' Footprints

dinoprints.jpgAn eight-year-old boy has impressed experts by finding a set of dinosaur footprints on a beach which date back an incredible 160 million years.Rhys Nichols was strolling along the sands with dad Richard when he spotted the perfectly preserved nine-inch prints on a rock.

The clever schoolboy immediately realised they could be from a dinosaur - and experts have hailed the find, believing they are the mark of a plant-eating iguanodon creature which roamed the area during the Jurassic era.

Archaeologist Will Watts, of Scarborough Museums Trust, said: "This is a great find as dinosaur prints are not normally that clear.

“We think they are probably from a plant-eating dinosaur from the Middle Jurassic period, which would make the prints about 160 million years old.

"Looking at the size of the prints, the dinosaur was probably the same size as Rhys.

Source: The Mail

How did they determine the age of the prints? How do they know these are not modern three-toed reptilian aliens whose feet cause dirt to age by millions of years where ever they step?

Robber Uses Weapon That Dates Back To Stone Age

7902483_bg1.jpgA robber used a unique weapon -- that harkens back to the Stone Age-- in two West Hartford robberies.

It's a very bizarre armed robbery -- a first for the town of West Hartford. Surveillance photos show a robber that walked into a Subway and pulled out a rock. He held it over the clerk demanding cash. Police say they are looking for the man and hope to make an arrest soon because he has now hit the same store twice in a few months.

"If you look at the size of that thing, it's going to split you open -- you are going to take him seriously," Lt. Stephen Estes, of the West Hartford Police Department, said. "You are going to have to because you have to stop and think about what is the mindset of someone who is going to rob you with a rock? Where is their head actually at?"

... Police say the man holding the rock is 20-22 years old, thin, about 6 feet tall. While the weapon is primitive, the charges he can face are not.

"It would be considered the same as a robbery with a gun, with a's a 20 year felony," Lt. Estes noted.

Source: Wtnh

Hubble Peers into the Great Eye of Sauron


Astronomers at the University of California, Berkeley, and NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center have released a rather remarkable Hubble image of a ring of dust around star Fomalhaut, described as resembling "the Great Eye of Sauron".

The boffins used the Hubble coronagraph to block light from Fomalhaut and enhance the ring which, as you can see, is "significantly askew". The reason for this, they postulate, is that the dust ring is under the influence of orbiting planet (or planets), possibly a body rotating around the star at approximately Pluto's distance from the sun, or one-third of the ring's radius.

Source: The Register

Windmill Destroyed by Strong Wind


A windmill in Hornslet near Aarhus broke its brakes and a storm made it break.

Video: YouTube

An Errant Satellite Is Gone, but Questions Linger


Videotape of the Navy mission to shoot down a dying spy satellite made available Thursday shows an interceptor missile ascending atop a bright trail of burning fuel, and then a flash, a fireball, a plume of vapor. A cloud of debris left little doubt that the missile had squarely hit its mark as the satellite spent its final days orbiting more than 130 miles above the Pacific Ocean.
A different kind of doubt still lingers, though, expressed by policy analysts, some politicians and scientists, and not a few foreign powers, especially China and Russia:

Should the people of the world be breathing a sigh of relief that the risk of a half-ton of frozen, toxic rocket fuel landing who knows where has passed? Or should they be worried about the latest display of the United States’ technical prowess, and see it as a thinly veiled test for a shadow antisatellite program?

How sure with no oxygen in space and no warhead on the missile that all the toxic rocket fuel was really burned up? Video here:

Don't Sleep Too Much – It Might Kill You

flying_alarm_clock.jpg The recommended amount of sleep for an adult person is 7 hours per night, and routinely sleeping less might be risky. In the research project, data regarding civil servants sleeping habits was collected between the years 1985-8 and 1992-3; the civil servants mortality rates were then checked in 2004. Other factors like age, BMI (body mass index), smoking habits, physical condition, etc. were all taken into consideration. The results showed that the mortality rate of people whose sleeping period decreased from 7 hours a night in the years 1985-8 to 5 hours a night (or less) in the years 1992-3, was 1.7 times higher than the mortality rate of the people who had continued sleeping the recommended 7 hours per night. Cardiovascular problems were the most common cause of death in those persons who had slept less than 7 hours a night.It is well known that modern society encourages people to sleep less, and many people do not get enough sleep. This latest study has proven there is a connection between insufficient sleep and high mortality rates.However, the scientists also found that sleeping more than 7 hours a night may also be bad for us. Among the civil servants who increased their nightly sleeping period from 7 hours per night to 8 hours per night or more, the overall mortality rate more than doubled! In this case, cardiovascular problems did not seem to be the main cause of death. The scientist are still trying to establish what lies behind these findings, and what is the true reason for these high mortality rates in well-rested people. In any case, based on these results, it seems clear that sleeping too much is also not recommended.

The Warwick research project produced interesting and potentially important findings regarding the connection between sleeping habits and mortality rates. Although there is much work to be done in this field, we might all need to start considering our sleeping habits more carefully. - tfot

Check out the Flying Alarm Clock.

Researchers seek to make cavity-causing bacteria self-destruct


Larger goal to eliminate key enzyme's contribution to all strep and staph disease

Bacteria that eat sugar and release cavity-causing acid onto teeth may soon be made dramatically more vulnerable to their own acid. Researchers have identified key genes and proteins that, if interfered with, can take away the ability of a key bacterial species to thrive as its acidic waste builds up in the mouth.

The ability of Streptococcus mutans (S. mutans) to survive in acid is one reason that the species is the main driver of tooth decay worldwide. Past research has shown that this ability has several components including a bacterial enzyme called fatty acid biosynthase M (FabM), which when shut down, makes S. mutans almost precisely 10,000 times more vulnerable to acid damage.

In addition, early work suggests that FabM or one of its relatives may also help all Streptococci (strep) and Staphylococci (staph) infections to resist the human body's defenses, which include immune cells that subject bacteria to acid. Between them, "strep" and "staph" bacteria are responsible for meningitis, pneumonia, sepsis, methicillin-resistant staph aureus, the "flesh-eating" infection (fasciitis), as well as infections on heart valves and around stents. ...

"Our first goal is to force the major bacterium behind tooth decay to destroy itself with its own acid as soon as it eats sugar," said Robert G. Quivey, Ph.D., professor of Microbiology & Immunology at the University of Rochester Medical Center and principal investigator for the grant. "After that, this line of work could help lead to new anti-bacterial combination therapies for many infections that have become resistant to antibiotics." ...

Enjoy Candy Without The Cavities: Good Lollipop Kills Bacteria That Causes Tooth Decay


What Willy Wonka did for chocolate, UCLA microbiologist Wenyuan Shi is doing for lollipops. Because of Shi, thousands of orange-flavored lollipops are rolling out of a factory in Grand Rapids, Mich., into the hands of people eager to lick them for one reason only. Shi and his lab team at the School of Dentistry have managed to make candy that's actually good for your teeth. The orange-flavored, sugar-free lollipop they devised is infused with a natural ingredient found in licorice that kills the primary bacterium causing tooth decay, Streptococcus mutans.Marketed as Dr. John's Herbal Candy, the lollipop, now available for purchase through a candy manufacturer that licenses the technology from UCLA, is the first therapeutic developed by Shi. But he has many more in the works to target bacteria wreaking havoc in the nose, ear and gut, to name just a few.It all emerges from a vision the microbiologist had eight years ago to apply a medical approach to dentistry - to identify the decay-causing pathogens among the 700 kinds of bacteria living in the human mouth, track their presence and then target them with antimicrobial "smart bombs" that he and his lab would engineer to kill the bad bacteria without harming the good.

And he's also working on kits to test for these devilish pathogens. "Part of my wild dream is that one day you will walk into the dentist's office and give a saliva sample to be tested, just as you would give urine and blood samples to doctors," said Shi, a professor with joint appointments in UCLA's dental and medical schools. - Science Daily

See my tooth health article for other ways you can heal your teeth. Most dentists are not microbiologists but microbiology seems to be to be the only smart way to fight tooth decay considering what is known.
Dr. Wenyuan Shi, partnering with C3 Jian, a research company, has determined that an extract of licorice root (Glycyrrhiza uralensis) targets and kills the primary bacteria (streptococccus mutans or S.mutans) responsible for tooth decay, which scientists call dental caries. And, importantly, it does it without killing all of the hundreds of other bacteria in your mouth that are helpful, not harmful, to your oral health. In fact, Shi has determined that dental plaque per se is not bad for your teeth, as long as the decay-causing bacteria are not present in it. He found that plaque can actually act as protection from the re-colonization of the bad bacteria. c3-jian (pdf)

Cool. I've got a toothache. I'm going to get some licorice root to chew on from my local health food store.

Warning: Do not use licorice on a daily basis for more than five
days at a time, as it can elevate blood pressure. Do not use licorice
at all if you have high blood pressure. - diagnoseme

Update: Pay attention to that warning. I chewed this stuff for about a week and started feeling the blood pounding in my head. I also started getting headaches. I definitely think it can be dangerous. Now I just chew it and I'm careful to spit it all out afterward. So, I'm using licorice root once a week or so as a mouthwash to fight cavities.

Plane Crashes into Couple's Garden


An elderly couple who had a lucky escape after a plane landed in their garden told their unexpected guests "thanks for dropping in".

Eileen Watling, 71, and her husband Alfie, 83, were settling down on Saturday to watch a bank heist movie on television when the Cessna light aircraft, carrying two passengers, landed nose-first in Eileen's conifers.

The dazed pilot and passenger got into trouble in thick fog and didn't realise how low they were flying over the Kent village of Lyminge, about 3pm.

Eileen said: "The film was only two minutes started when the whole house shook and there was what sounded like an explosion. I immediately thought a tree had fallen into the electricity lines, because the power cut out. A man came sprinting up our drive and said a plane had just flown over his car and had crashed in our back garden. First the pilot came stumbling through our bamboo and leaves with blood on his head. His passenger followed, covered in fuel."

The two men weren't seriously hurt and were treated for minor injuries last night.

Source: Telegraph