Friday, October 31, 2008

WV Vote Flipping Caught on Tape + Will our next president will be choosen by a computer virus?

The scary thing is that he shows how the machine was calibrated and it still does not register the votes properly. If someone presses Straight Democratic Ticket - it registers for McCain! When he calibrated the machine he never showed what happened again if you voted straight democratic. Some machines may be miscalibrated but that may not be the only problems with why the machines continue to flip votes. It's a lame excuse. Better make sure the techs do not take out hard drives.

That this was flipping caught by a just-calibarated machine may or may not be true. There is a splice in the recording, and it does seem that the machine screwed up AFTER he calibrated it... but that may just be due to editing. The important thing is, even if the screen shows that you correctly voted for your candidate (and sometimes it doesn't as this video shows!) but even if it shows up correctly on the screen, it can still output the wrong vote! An electronic vote is worthless unless both the hardware and software are open source and freely checkable by any citizen. That is NOT the case with electronic voting machines, so I see no point in using them other than to have an illusion of democracy.

So, don't vote on a machine. If you must do so, avoid the straight party button.

Watch this:

The point is, electronic voting can look authentic, but be 100% fraudulent. Try this demonstration and see for yourself.

So, obviously, what will happen on election day is that criminal computer hackers from both sides will be doing their best to cheat by inserting vote stealing viruses and the party with the best hackers will get the most votes. But, the people who count the final totals can just give the wrong numbers anyway, so that's another place the entire election can be stolen.

There should be two different parallel systems, one built and monitored by each party. You cast each vote twice, once on each machine. If they don't match up for any individual, before leaving the polling place, the individual must correct his vote. With the right checks and balances, we could have fair elections.

Star Wars-Inspired Hover Chair

The futuristic Lounger is a revolutionary magnetic ‘hover’ furniture, designed by UK designer Keith Dixon and inspired by the Star Wars Landspeeder.
British design, precision engineered and British built by hand. Defying gravity with the use of repelling magnetic forces in both the bed and base this contemporary lounger is comfortable, practical and stylish. Permanent magnets can also help back, muscular problems and headaches, so our furniture not only looks good - it may make you feel good too. The sensation that you feel as you lay back and close your eyes is totally different, like floating on a cloud.

Custom build options available. By default we supply Hoverit Lounges in clear acrylic which allows you to see every component. Each lounger comes with a clear anti-scratch mat and a limited edition certificate and serial number.

The Lounger chair from Hoverit Ltd. will be available from March 16. The price has been set to £5,875 (about $11,600 USD). - geekalerts

Might be fun, but could this cause anemia by pulling the iron out of your blood if the magenets are too strong?

Eight-Armed Animal Preceded Dinosaurs

An eight-armed creature that looked more like a modern party favor than a living animal colonized a large section of the world's oceans over 300 million years before the first dinosaurs emerged, suggests a new study.

The findings represent the first comparable animal fossils from the Ediacaran Period, 635 to 541 million years ago, which appear in two drastically different preservation environments -- black shale of South China and quartz rock of South Australia.

"According to paleogeographic reconstructions, South China and South Australia were close to each other at the time, belonging to a supercontinent called Gondwana," lead author Maoyan Zhu told Discovery News. ...

Zhu, Gehling and their colleagues collected eight compressions of the animals from the Doushantuo Formation at Wenghui, China. They then traveled to Flinders Ranges, Australia, and collected seven specimens, leaving 31 others on two excavated and reassembled beds. The findings are published in the November issue of Geology. There is no question the creature, believed to represent one type of animal, had a lot of arms.

"The eight arms are clearly preserved in our specimens," Zhu said, adding that the arms were tubular and in close contact with each other, but not joined. He and his colleagues believe the animal was a soft-bodied, dome-shaped organism that lived on seabeds and fed by absorbing dissolved nutrients from the ambient environment. -discovery

Iceman mummy leaves few relatives

What is better on Halloween than a real mummy and a mystery ?

Genetic material from the Iceman mummy suggests this Neolithic man has no modern-day relatives on his mom's side of the family. The Neolithic mummy dubbed the Iceman likely has no relatives alive today on his mom's side of the family, finds a new study of the ancient guy's genes.

The remains of the Iceman (also called Ötzi, Frozen Fritz and Similaun Man) were discovered accidentally in 1991 by German tourists in the Eastern Alps. Since then, a suite of tests has opened a window into the mummy's life and death. For instance, the Iceman was about 45 years old when he died; he was probably a hunter-gatherer while alive; he sustained a shoulder injury from an arrow and might have died from head trauma; and his last meal included unleavened bread and meat.

Now, researchers have fast-forwarded genetically from 5,300 years ago when Ötzi died to the present to look at whether his maternal lineage is alive and kicking. It's probably not. The research team, led by Franco Rollo of the University of Camerino and Luca Ermini working at Camerino and the University of Leeds, extracted DNA from Iceman's rectum. They analyzed the genome of the cells' energy-making structures, called mitochondria.

"You only get mitochondrial DNA from your mother, and she gets it from her mother and so on, so it forms an unbroken link all the way back to the common maternal ancestor of all of us," said researcher Martin Richards of the University of Leeds.

The results showed that Ötzi fits in genetically with a particular group of living individuals who share a common ancestral DNA sequence. Over time, different individuals and groups can branch off from the main group, genetically speaking. Ötzi’s DNA belonged to a cluster of lineages whose members are still common throughout Europe today.

However, nearly all members of this cluster belong to one of three sub-lineages, or sub-clusters. And Ötzi didn't. His DNA placed him on a completely distinct, fourth sub-lineage, for which there are no other members alive today — at least none have been found so far. His lineage branched away from his nearest modern relatives about 20,000 years ago.

That means Ötzi's maternal lineage is either extremely rare or has died out....  - msnbc

Programmable Genetic Clock Made Of Blinking Florescent Proteins Inside Bacteria Cells

UC San Diego bioengineers have created the first stable, fast and programmable genetic clock that reliably keeps time by the blinking of fluorescent proteins inside E. coli cells. The clock's blink rate changes when the temperature, energy source or other environmental conditions change, a fact that could lead to new kinds of sensors that convey information about the environment through the blinking rate. One next step is to synchronize the clocks within large numbers of E. coli cells so that all the cells in a test tube would blink in unison. "This would start to look a lot like the makings of a fascinating environmental sensor," said Jeff Hasty, a UC San Diego bioengineering professor and senior author on the Nature paper. Researchers in his lab have also developed sophisticated microfluidic systems capable of controlling environmental conditions of their E. coli cells with great precision. This enables the bioengineers to track exactly what environmental conditions affect their clocks' blink rates. - sd

One of the great themes of our time is "hacking biology" and I think we are just seeing the beginnings of what is possible. If we can survive the environmental and geopolitical challenges we will face over the next 100 years, the advances will be jaw dropping. I hope my jaw is around to enjoy it.

Elvis still top-earning dead celebrity

I'm interested in Elvis for a few reasons: we share the same birthday, he had a great voice, and I've been curious for years as to what it was exactly that made him a star. Whatever that force was, it has outlasted his own life force.
The King of Rock ’n’ Roll shed this mortal coil 31 years ago, but he remains the top-earning dead celebrity for the second year in a row, according to

Elvis Presley pulled in $52 million in the past year, helped by increased traffic at his Graceland estate to commemorate the 30th anniversary of his death, and new ventures including the Elvis Sirius Satellite Radio show, according to the moneycentric Web site.

“While things might be topsy-turvy in the financial markets above ground, it’s still a bull market in the boneyard,” said.

In fact, a dead Elvis earned more between October 2007 and October 2008 than some music biz biggies who are very alive, including Justin Timberlake ($44 million) and Madonna ($40 million). Madge must be heartbroken.

Coming in at No. 2 with $33 million in earnings was cartoonist Charles Schulz, who died in 2000 and is best known for his “Peanuts” comic strip, while Aussie actor Heath Ledger nabbed third place.

Ledger, 28, died from an accidental prescription drug overdose in January and his last completed film role was as the Joker in “The Dark Knight.”

“With the ‘The Dark Knight’ grossing $991 million in box office revenue worldwide, we estimate his earnings at $20 million,” the Web site said.

The fourth-richest dead celeb is German-born physicist Albert Einstein, whose estate raked in $18 million in earnings, mainly from Disney’s “Baby Einstein” videos and toys for children.

Deceased TV producer Aaron Spelling, he of “Beverly Hills 90210” and “Charlie’s Angels” fame, was ranked No. 5 with $15 million in earnings.

Check out for the full list. - bostonh

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Halloween treat: Xeno's Spooky Sound Effects Radio

Click the pumpkin for endless random spooky sounds.

I wanted a radio station that would play spooky sounds for my haunted house non-stop. I couldn't find one, so I made one.  Be warned: Xeno's spooky sound effects radio station is fully haunted so each listener will hear something different.  Wahhahah. Whahaha. Whahah. Ha. Ha.

Here are some notes to ease your pain:
1) you must allow pop-up windows for or you won't hear a thing.
2) If you don't already have it, you may need the Quicktime plug in, or this smaller spam free alternative, to play the WAV files in your web browser.
3) Firefox users: minimize the little window that pops up. It reloads at random, and if you don't minimize it, it may pop up in the way of your other work.
4) I recommend turning your speakers down and using this as a background soundscape.

P.S. The random silences are intentional.

'If you go to Mars, stay there!'

The first astronauts sent to Mars should be prepared to spend the rest of their lives there, in the same way that European pioneers headed to America knowing they would not return home, says moonwalker Buzz Aldrin.

In an interview with AFP, the second man to set foot on the Moon said the Red Planet offered far greater potential than Earth's satellite as a place for habitation.

With what appears to be vast reserves of frozen water, Mars "is nearer terrestrial conditions, much better than the Moon and any other place," Aldrin, 78, said in a visit to Paris on Tuesday.

"It is easier to subsist, to provide the support needed for people there than on the Moon."It took Aldrin, Neil Armstrong and Michael Collins eight days to go to the Moon - 380 000 kilometres from Earth - and return in July 1969, aboard Apollo 11. Going to Mars, though, is a different prospect. The distance between the Red Planet and Earth varies between 55 million and more than 400 million km.

Manned mission to Mars around 2030

Even at the most favourable planetary conjunction, this means a round trip to Mars would take around a year and a half. "That's why you [should] send people there permanently," said Aldrin. "If we are not willing to do that, then I don't think we should just go once and have the expense of doing that and then stop." He asked: "If we are going to put a few people down there and ensure their appropriate safety, would you then go through all that trouble and then bring them back immediately, after a year, a year and a half?" Nasa and the European Space Agency (Esa) are sketching tentative plans for a manned mission to Mars that would take place around 2030 or 2040.

Based on experience culled from a planned return to the Moon, the mission would entail about half a dozen people, with life-support systems and other gear pre-positioned for them on the Martian surface. Aldrin said the vanguard could be joined by others, making a colony around 30 people. - news24

Brain's 'Hate Circuit' Identified, Overlaps with Love Circuit.

People who view pictures of someone they hate display activity in distinct areas of the brain that, together, may be thought of as a 'hate circuit', according to new research by scientists at UCL (University College London). The study, by Professor Semir Zeki and John Romaya of the Wellcome Laboratory of Neurobiology at UCL, examined the brain areas that correlate with the sentiment of hate and shows that the 'hate circuit' is distinct from those related to emotions such as fear, threat and danger – although it shares a part of the brain associated with aggression. The circuit is also quite distinct from that associated with romantic love, though it shares at least two common structures with it. ... Like love, it is often seemingly irrational and can lead individuals to heroic and evil deeds. How can two opposite sentiments lead to the same behaviour?"

... "Interestingly, the activity in some of these structures in response to viewing a hated face is proportional in strength to the declared intensity of hate, thus allowing the subjective state of hate to be objectively quantified. This finding may have legal implications in criminal cases, for example." - sd

It often seems a thin line between love and hate, and now scientists think they know why.  Brain scans of people shown images of individuals they hated revealed a pattern of brain activity that partly occurs in areas also activated by romantic love, Semir Zeki and John Paul Romaya of University College London reported on Wednesday.... The brain activity also occurred in the putamen and insula, two areas activated when people viewed the face of a loved person. Scientists have linked the regions to aggressive action and distressing situations, Zeki said. - news24

Sarkozy loses 'voodoo doll' case

A French judge has rejected President Nicolas Sarkozy's attempt to stop sales of a "voodoo doll" in his image.

Dismissing the case, the Paris judge said the doll was "within the authorised limits of free expression and the right to humour". Mr Sarkozy's lawyer said the president would appeal against the decision. The doll comes with pins which users can stick into memorable quotes from the president printed on the doll, such as "work more to earn more".  Mr Sarkozy took the makers of the kit - publishing company K&B - to the courts after it went on sale on 9 October. His lawyer said Mr Sarkozy had "exclusive and absolute rights" over his own image.

Sales boost

The company refused to stop selling the kit, saying Mr Sarkozy's reaction was "totally disproportionate". The case has attracted a fair amount of mockery in France and boosted sales of the kit, says the BBC's Alasdair Sandford in Paris. K&B also released a similar doll of Segolene Royal, Mr Sarkozy's rival in the presidential elections last year. She has decided not to take action against K&B, saying: "I have a sense of humour." This is Mr Sarkozy's sixth legal action since he was elected last year, but it is the first case the courts have rejected. Voodoo has become associated with zombies and sticking pins into dolls to curse an enemy, but practitioners say this misrepresents their religion. - bbc

Bongo-maker fights for his life after getting anthrax from African drum skins

A musician is fighting for his life after contracting a rare form of deadly anthrax.

Fernando Gomez fell ill after handling animal hide imported from Africa which he used to make bongo drums. He is only the second person in the UK to be infected with inhalation anthrax since 1974. He was admitted to hospital a week ago and is on life support.

Seven people who have been in contact with Mr Gomez, a father of four who is in his thirties, have been given antibiotics as a precaution. Last night, his wife said: 'The illness started to show when he had a cold but then he got worse and worse. 'Even now he might still not pull through, but I've been told today that he is now stable.' The illness is so rare that medicines have been flown to Britain for him from the U.S.

... Professor Nigel Lightfoot, chief adviser at the agency, said: 'It is the process of removing the animal hairs during the making of drums that can put people at risk rather than playing or handling the drums. 'The risk to others who play these drums is very low. We are, however, keen to reiterate to all individuals who make drums from imported animal skins that there is a risk of coming into contact with anthrax.' The last case of inhalation anthrax in the UK, in 2006, was fatal. Christopher Norris, 50, from Edinburgh, also contracted the disease after handling animal skins to make drums. - dm

Yet another case of animal exploitation which has backfired on the perpetrator.
- Karyn, Belfast, 30/10/2008 17:36

Interesting. I didn't know the British had tested anthrax as a weapon.

Mexico City's 'water monster' nears extinction

Beneath the tourist gondolas in the remains of a great Aztec lake lives a creature that resembles a monster - and a Muppet - with its slimy tail, plumage-like gills and mouth that curls into an odd smile.

The axolotl, also known as the "water monster" and the "Mexican walking fish," was a key part of Aztec legend and diet. Against all odds, it survived until now amid Mexico City's urban sprawl in the polluted canals of Lake Xochimilco, now a Venice-style destination for revelers poled along by Mexican gondoliers, or trajineros, in brightly painted party boats.

But scientists are racing to save the foot-long salamander from extinction, a victim of the draining of its lake habitat and deteriorating water quality. In what may be the final blow, nonnative fish introduced into the canals are eating its lunch - and its babies.
The long-standing International Union for Conservation of Nature includes the axolotl on its annual Red List of threatened species, while researchers say it could disappear in just five years. Some are pushing for a series of axolotl sanctuaries in canals cleared of invasive species, while others are considering repopulating Xochimilco with axolotls bred in captivity.

"If the axolotl disappears, it would not only be a great loss to biodiversity but to Mexican culture, and would reflect the degeneration of a once-great lake system," says Luis Zambrano, a biologist at the Autonomous University of Mexico, or UNAM. .. - az

Divers reveal Blackbeard treasures

Divers have been searching through what they believe is the Queen Anne's Revenge since August. Tuesday, researchers unveiled artifacts like a cannon ball, pewter plates and a dagger hilt.Archeologists working on an underwater pirate shipwreck off the North Carolina coast revealed some exciting finds in a ship thought to be that of the pirate Blackbeard.

"Artifacts provide us with a tangible link to life in North Carolina when essentially North Carolina was a frontier," Richard Lawrence, of the North Carolina Underwater Archaeology Department, said.  Divers even discovered their first coin. "We're all excited to see what kind of coin it is," Lawrence said. "Is it a French coin, a Spanish coin, an English coin?"

The crew also revealed a 2005 find headed to the Maritime Museum in Beaufort -- a part of a toilet. “Even pirates would have needed a toilet," Dr. Jeff Crow, of the N.C. Department of Cultural Resources, said. He said the artifacts will be a big draw. “Children really love piracy, and adults are intrigued by it, so it brings people to the coast to see these artifacts," Crow said.

The crew still has two weeks to go before they complete this year's dive. The artifacts will be on display Wednesday at the Maritime Museum in Beaufort from 11 a.m. until 1 p.m. - n14

Alien fish in Swedish waters

A round goby (Neogobius melanostomus) was caught in late July off the Swedish coast near Karlskrona. This is the first find of its kind in Sweden.

The species, which originates from the Black Sea and probably spread to the Baltic via ballast water, has been found in the Gulf of Gdansk since 1990, in the southern Baltic. Today it is one of the most common coastal fishes there, so it was expected that it would show up in Swedish waters sooner or later, according to researcher Gustaf Almqvist of Stockholm University.

Göran Pettersson is the man behind the sensational catch, which he made as he was bottom angling for perch in Saltsösund outside Karlskrona. Göran, who is from Sibbehult in Scania, has experienced many fish catches in the waters surrounding Karlskrona, but he had never seen this species before. He was even more surprised when, later that day, he caught three more of them.

“I’m interested in fishing, and after having compared them with pictures on the Internet and from an account in the magazine Svensk Fiske (Swedish Fishing), I immediately understood that what I had pulled in were round gobies,” says Göran Pettersson.

Göran alertly froze one of the fish and reported the find to the Swedish Board of Fisheries Coastal Laboratory, which then conveyed the find to Gustaf Almqvist at Stockholm University, who, together with Sven Kullander of the Swedish Museum of Natural History, was able to confirm that it was indeed a round goby. It was a 96 mm long male that was estimated to be two, or at most three, years old. ... -astigan

Sabretooth tigers hunted in packs

...  The so-called sabretooth tiger - Smilodon fatalis - is famous for its extremely long canine teeth, which reached up to seven inches and extended below the lower jaw.

But although commonly called "tigers", due to their size, the species is actually part of a different subfamily, and they lived very differently.

While sabretoothed "tigers" were powerful predators, they were social beasts, rather than skulking loners, according to Dr Chris Carbone, a research fellow of the Zoological Society of London.

He said: "The extinct sabretoothed cat, Smilodon fatalis, has been something of an enigma, with almost nothing known of its behaviour.

"This research allowed us... to conclude that this cat was more likely to roam in formidable gangs, than as a secretive solitary animal."

S.fatalis - one of many sabretooth cat species - lived between 1.6 million and 10,000 years ago, in North and South America.

Many Smilodon fossils have been found in the Late Pleistocene era tar seeps at Rancho La Brea, California - apparently lured to their fate by the calls of trapped, dying herbivores.

In fact, the fossils are so numerous, many palaeontologists now believe the cats were pack hunters, who came to scavenge prey and share the spoils.... - bbc

Dinosaur Smelling Skills Open New Angle On Bird Evolution

Although we know quite a bit about the lifestyle of dinosaur; where they lived, what they ate, how they walked, not much was known about their sense of smell, until now.

The study, by U of C paleontologist Darla Zelenitsky and Royal Tyrrell Museum curator of dinosaur palaeoecology François Therrien, is the first time that the sense of smell has been evaluated in prehistoric meat-eating dinosaurs. They found that Tyrannosaurus rex had the best nose of all meat-eating dinosaurs, and their results tone down the reputation of T. rex as a scavenger.

The researchers looked at the importance of the sense of smell among various meat-eating dinosaurs, also called theropods, based on the size of their olfactory bulbs, the part of the brain associated with the sense of smell. Although the brains of dinosaurs are not preserved, the impressions they left on skull bones or the space they occupied in the skull reveals the size and shape of the different parts of the brain. Zelenitsky and Therrien CT-scanned and measured the skulls of a wide variety of theropod dinosaurs, including raptors and ostrich-like dinosaurs, as well as the primitive bird Archaeopteryx.

"T. rex has previously been accused of being a scavenger due to its keen sniffer... Large olfactory bulbs are found in living birds and mammals that rely heavily on smell to find meat, in animals that are active at night, and in those animals that patrol large areas. Although the king of carnivorous dinosaurs wouldn't have passed on scavenging a free dead meal, it may have used its sense of smell to strike at night or to navigate through large territories to find its next victim." ... - scidaily

NASA probe finds opals in Martian crevices + What the heck is a boffin?

A NASA space probe orbiting Mars has discovered deposits of opals in the mighty Valles Marineris canyon system* east of Tharsis. Opals aren't valuable enough to justify interplanetary trade, but the discovery is significant as it suggests that liquid water existed on Mars a billion years more recently than had been thought.

"This is an exciting discovery because it extends the time range for liquid water on Mars, and the places where it might have supported life," said Scott Murchie of Johns Hopkins University, in charge of the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter's spectrometer scope.

"The identification of opaline silica tells us that water may have existed as recently as 2 billion years ago." ... - register

The story mentions boffins again. I've been meaning to look this up for a few years now. Finally did.
In the slang of the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa, boffins are scientists, engineers, and other people who are stereotypically seen as engaged in technical or scientific research. ... the use of "Boffin" by Dickens found its way into naval slang. The Baffin plane, being a naval torpedo craft, perhaps took its variant name from the same naval tradition. The café on the coast at East Anglia took its name from the naval tradition. Then, to counteract spies the term "boffins" was taken from naval slang at the outbreak of war in 1939, and became widely applied as a convenient euphemism for research scientists. - wiki

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Is the FDA legit or no? Gov't leaves consumers confused

BPA — a chemical used in food containers — is so widespread that most people have traces of it in their bodies. But health officials can't decide if that's a problem, or something we all can live with.

Bisphenol A is useful for hardening plastics to make all sorts of consumer products, from CDs to baby bottles. And the canning industry uses it for coatings that prevent leaks and bacterial contamination in metal food containers.

Some scientists are concerned that BPA could be harmful, since it mimics some of the effects of a powerful hormone, estrogen. Infants may be particularly vulnerable because their bodies are developing and cannot eliminate the chemical as quickly.

Earlier this year, the Food and Drug Administration issued a scientific assessment that BPA is safe and asked independent scientists to review its conclusion. That report — made public Tuesday — found that the FDA's science was badly flawed. The FDA did not consider all the evidence and its margin of safety for human exposure to BPA could be off by a factor of ten times or more, the outside scientists said.

While the experts sort out the issue, what are the options for worried consumers? Here are some questions and answers:

Q: It sounds like BPA is everywhere, how can people avoid it?

A: "Get to know your plastics," says Urvashi Rangan, a senior scientist with Consumers Union, which publishes Consumer Reports. Avoid polycarbonate plastic containers, those imprinted with the recycling number "7" and the letters "PC." Don't microwave foods in these containers. Don't use polycarbonate plastic baby bottles. Consider powdered infant formula instead of liquid formula in cans. Cut down on canned foods.

"If you the consumer want to take matters into your own hands while the science is being sorted out here, those are the things you can do that will directly reduce your level of exposure to BPA," said Rangan.

One thing mothers should not do is stop giving their infants proper nutrition because of fears about BPA, says acting Surgeon General Steven Galson. "While the best source of nutrition for babies is the mother's breast milk, infant formula remains the recommended alternative when breast milk is not an option," he said. ... - ap

Most Americans don't even know what a protection racket is, and of those who do, most don't recognize the ones right under their noses. Intentional or not, the FDA in too many cases protects industry profits rather than consumers. In a sane world there would be murder convictions for some of the stuff that has happened along with requirements for open records viewable by all citizens. We should be able to see all scientific experiments (methods, results, and conflicts of interests). We should also be able to view all FDA meeting notes.

Instead, Lester Crawford "stepped down"  after between 26,000 to 55,000 deaths, and they thanked "him for his service and wish[ed] him well." Bizzaro world.

See:  FDA refuses to pull dangerous diabetes drug Avandia, even knowing it will kill thousands and Conflicts of interest at the FDA are rampant and largely ignored and  With COX-2 decision, no longer any doubt about FDA corruption and U.S. drug racket and this.

But the FDA is getting better under the Democrats, right? Here is what one person had to say:
The Andrew von Eschenbach FDA era is upon us.  The Avandia scandal is the tip of the iceberg.  Is anyone ready?  The words “illicit financial collusion” have been replaced by the politically correct term, “collaboration.” On May 30, in defense of his cozy relationship with Big Pharma and Big Biotech von Eschenbach told reporters, “This is a collaboration, but it’s not just a collaboration with drug companies, it’s a collaboration with academia and with other agencies.” And he forgot to include that it is also a collaboration with various Senators, such as Senator Bennett (R-UT) and Senator Hatch (R-UT), as can be seen by the highly lucrative Critical Path Initiative program for cardiovascular disease research at the University of Utah.

Plainly stated, the FDA is set on becoming a drug company involved in every aspect of drug development for the next century. This pipe dream involves using sophisticated FDA software and related technologies to set the standards for the future of medicine, which will soon require your DNA in an FDA-owned supercomputer if you would like medical care.  The FDA will help design all drugs from the ground up.  The FDA, through the Reagan-Udall Foundation for the FDA, will control all patents and licensing arrangements regarding the drugs that are developed.

Under this plan the fox will not only be in charge of the henhouse, the fox will eat hens at will.  Privacy issues, genetic discrimination, and required implantable RFID chips will be the order of the day. Billions of dollars are at stake. Wall Street can’t wait. Drug safety and the health options of all Americans hang somewhere in the balance, including access to safe and effective dietary supplements (the only true competition).

What will the FDA do when safety problems surface in the drugs it develops? Will the FDA put consumer safety ahead of its own financial interests?  What legal liability will the FDA face when their drugs injure or kill? The FDA has already thought this through and is doing what it can to make sure citizens have no rights to sue when injured by FDA-approved medications. ... -  wellnessresources

Partial early ballots: Dem voters outnumber GOP nearly 2 to 1

Democratic early voters outnumber Republicans in key states, according to incomplete election statistics, suggesting a surprising break from traditional trends, said analysts.

Just a week before a historic Election Day, registered Democrats in North Carolina are out-voting Republicans by a nearly 2-to-1 margin, according to official election statistics.

The state is seen as a crucial battleground for Sens. John McCain and Barack Obama.

The turnout by Democrats also appears to be higher in at least two other battleground states, Colorado and Nevada, whose electoral votes could make the difference for either White House hopeful.

As of Tuesday, at least 9,813,052 ballots had been cast in 31 states that allow early, in-person or absentee voting without having to provide an excuse. The figures are based on reports from state election officials.

Of those votes, at least 1.2 million ballots have been cast by registered Democrats and at least 731,200 by registered Republicans.

As with early voting statistics in every state -- these are not election results. Voters who are registered with a political party don't always vote for that party's candidates.

But the numbers suggest that this election is shattering traditional early voting patterns reflected by years of data. Historically, more Republicans than Democrats have taken part in early voting. - cnn

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The Cave of Crystals discovered 1,000ft below a Mexican desert

Until you notice the orange-suited men clambering around, it's hard to grasp the extraordinary scale of this underground crystal forest.  Nearly 1,000ft below the Chihuahua Desert in Mexico, this cave was discovered by two brothers drilling in the Naica lead and silver mine. It is an eerie sight.   Up to 170 giant, luminous obelisks - the biggest is 37.4ft long and the equivalent height of six men - jut across the grotto like tangled pillars of light; and the damp rock of their walls is covered with yet more flawless clusters of blade-sharp crystal.

The Naica mine is located 100km to the North East of the city of Chihuahua. The crystals are selenite (gypsum). "The most important identifying characteristic is how soft gypsum is [2 on Mohs Scale], as any variety of gypsum can be easily scratched with a fingernail. Also because gypsum has natural insulating properties, all varieties feel warm to the touch."-wiki

When, about 600,000 years ago, the magma began to cool, the minerals started to precipitate out of the water, and over the centuries the tiny crystals they formed grew and grew until 1985, when miners unwittingly drained the cave as they lowered the water table with mine pumps.

Because the crystals resemble giant icicles, the picture suggests it must be very cold inside the Cave of Crystals - but appearances can be deceptive. In fact, the temperature is a sweltering 112F, with a humidity of 90-100 per cent.

That does not make sense to me. Cave temperatures are supposed to be the average yearly temperature of the surface. Since the Mexican desert would be cold at night, the temperature should be about half this, right? Well, according to nature, parts of the desert are more than 120F, so this cave must be under one of the hottest regions. "The Chihuahuan Desert's variation in elevation (between 1,000 and 10,000 feet) and temperature (from more than 120 degrees Fahrenheit to below-freezing temperatures)"
This is why cavers wear protective suits and carry backpacks of ice-cooled air.  Such conditions, and the fact that it takes 20 minutes to drive to its entrance through a twisting mine-shaft, haven't deterred would-be looters - one of the crystals bears a deep scar where someone has tried, and failed, to cut through it. But the cave has now been fitted with a heavy steel door, the better to preserve this beautiful wonder for generations to come. - dailymail

Thick, blocky crystals line the interior of a cave called the Shark's Mouth. Recently found not far from the Cave of Crystals, this cavern confirms the belief of geologists that numerous crystal-bearing deposits still await discovery in the rock. Because miners had been using explosives nearby, many crystals in the Shark's Mouth were covered with dust.

Wearing red 'boosts attraction'

Women who don a little red dress before going out with a man may find their date more attentive and generous, according to scientists.

The University of Rochester study, published in a psychology journal, supports other evidence linking the colour to attractiveness. Men said they would spend more money on a woman pictured in red, compared with the same woman wearing a blue shirt. Experts say that red signals ovulation or attractiveness in other species.

It's fascinating to find that something as ubiquitous as colour can be having an effect on our behaviour without our awareness

Professor Andrew Elliot
University of Rochester

The colour has traditionally been linked with romantic and sexual matters, from red hearts on Valentine's Day, to red-light districts.

The researchers say that their study is clear evidence that the colour red makes men feel more amorous - even if this is only on a subconscious level.

Their volunteers were told they had $100, shown the picture of their "date", then asked how much of that money they were prepared to spend. On average, wearing red meant a more expensive night out, and in general, a higher rating of attractiveness. When the pictures were shown to other women, there were no wardrobe-dependent differences in attractiveness ratings. - bbc

3 Men Arrested in Cannibalism Case

A homeless man in Kamchatka is suspected of killing a man and recruiting two friends to chop up the body and fry parts of it to eat, news agencies reported Monday.

Investigators believe that a 35-year-old ex-convict killed the victim and then with two friends chopped up the body with knives and an ax and dumped parts on streets of the far eastern region's capital, Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky, senior prosecutor's assistant Olga Filatova said.

Also, "the criminals cut off the muscle tissue of the victim, fried the meat in a pan and ate it," Filatova said, Interfax reported.

The crime took place last year. The victim's identity has not been established.

The 35-year-old homeless man -- who previously served time in prison for murder -- will stand trail on murder charges, reported. The other men, aged 33 and 45, face charges of concealing a serious crime. There is no article in the Criminal Code that specifically punishes cannibalism. - moscowtimes

Discovered, the copper mines of King Solomon

Did the Bible’s King David and his son Solomon control the copper industry in present-day southern Jordan? Though that remains an open question, the possibility is raised once again by research reported in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Led by Thomas Levy of UC San Diego and Mohammad Najjar of Jordan’s Friends of Archaeology, an international team of archaeologists has excavated an ancient copper-production center at Khirbat en-Nahas down to virgin soil, through more than 20 feet of industrial smelting debris, or slag. The 2006 dig has brought up new artifacts and with them a new suite of radiocarbon dates placing the bulk of industrial-scale production at Khirbat en-Nahas in the 10th century BCE – in line with biblical narrative on the legendary rule of David and Solomon. The new data pushes back the archaeological chronology some three centuries earlier than the current scholarly consensus.

The research also documents a spike in metallurgic activity at the site during the 9th century BCE, which may also support the history of the Edomites as related by the Bible.

Khirbat en-Nahas, which means “ruins of copper” in Arabic, is in the lowlands of a desolate, arid region south of the Dead Sea in what was once Edom and is today Jordan’s Faynan district. The Hebrew Bible (or Old Testament) identifies the area with the Kingdom of Edom, foe of ancient Israel.

For years, scholars have argued whether the Edomites were sufficiently organized by the 10th to 9th centuries BCE to seriously threaten the neighboring Israelites as a true “kingdom.” Between the World Wars, during the “Golden Age” of biblical archaeology, scholars explored, as Levy describes it, with a trowel in one hand and Bible in the other, seeking to fit their Holy Land findings into the sacred story. Based on his 1930s surveys, American archaeologist Nelson Glueck even asserted that he had found King Solomon’s mines in Faynan/Edom. By the 1980s, however, Glueck’s claim had been largely dismissed. A consensus had emerged that the Bible was heavily edited in the 5th century BCE, long after the supposed events, while British excavations of the Edomite highlands in the 1970s-80s suggested the Iron Age had not even come to Edom until the 7th century BCE.

“Now,” said Levy, director of the Levantine Archaeology Lab at UCSD and associate director of the new Center of Interdisciplinary Science for Art, Architecture and Archaeology (CISA3), “with data from the first large-scale stratified and systematic excavation of a site in the southern Levant to focus specifically on the role of metallurgy in Edom, we have evidence that complex societies were indeed active in 10th and 9th centuries BCE and that brings us back to the debate about the historicity of the Hebrew Bible narratives related to this period.” ... - ast

An ‘invisibility cloak’ for tsunamis?

A tsunami is headed right for a vulnerable shallow-water gas platform. The next minute, the first wave passes by harmlessly as if the structure had completely disappeared. Impossible? Perhaps not, according to a team of French and British physicists that has devised an ‘invisibility cloak’ that could, in theory, hide susceptible platforms or coastlines from ocean waves such as tsunamis. ... The cloaking concept is based on positioning multiple rows of pillars at specific intervals within a cylindrical pattern, so that the pillars and intervening spaces resemble a round checkerboard from above. In the lab, a small aluminum cylinder was subdivided into 50 precisely spaced rows of pillars radiating out from a flat center. The columns essentially dissipate oncoming waves so that anything behind the structure is hidden from them. Maybe even from tsunami waves. - msnbc

Video: Baby elephant getting a first bath

This is wild.
Video: Baby elephant getting a first bath

Monday, October 27, 2008

Jury finds longest-serving Republican in the Senate guilty of lying about gifts

Jurors found Stevens, 84, guilty of willfully filing false financial-disclosure forms that hid such gifts as a $2,695 massage chair, a stained glass window, a sled dog and renovations that doubled the size of his Girdwood home. Those gifts, valued at as much as $250,000 over seven years, came mostly from his former friend Bill Allen, the star prosecution witness in Stevens' trial and the former owner of Veco Corp.

The oil field-services company was one of Alaska's largest private employers before Allen, caught up in the federal corruption probe himself, was forced to sell it last year.

... If Hays is right and Stevens is now doomed politically, that gives the Democrats three rock-solid Senate pickups. In Virginia, Mark Warner is cruising to an easy victory for an open seat that a Republican had held (a new Washington Post poll shows him holding onto a whopping 30-percentage-point lead). Similarly, in New Mexico, Tom Udall is far ahead in the race for an open GOP seat.

The party also is counting on two more gains. In Colorado -- in the contest to fill still another seat a Republican is giving up -- Mark Udall (Tom's cousin) appears headed for a win. And in New Hampshire, Jeanne Shaheen is favored to take out incumbent John Sununu (one new poll, though, shows the Republican still within shouting distance).

Democrats will be grossly disappointed if they don't win all five of these races. And they've set their sights on more -- a victory by Al Franken over incumbent Norm Coleman in Minnesota, along with triumphs by Democratic challengers over incumbents Liddy Dole in North Carolina and Gordon Smith in Oregon. While hoping for a trifecta, the Democrats will gladly live with two out of these three. ...- lat

Yeah, I'm not surprised about the corruption, but I didn't know Al Franken is running for office. Cool. Here he is on Letterman.

Physical Strength, Fighting Ability Revealed In Human Faces

For our ancestors, misjudging the physical strength of a would-be opponent might have resulted in painful –– and potentially deadly –– defeat. Now, a study conducted by a team of scientists at the University of California, Santa Barbara has found that a mechanism exists within the human brain that enables people to determine with uncanny accuracy the fighting ability of men around them by honing in on their upper body strength. What's more, that assessment can be made even when everything but the men's faces are obscured from view. ... The study consisted of four sections, each of which asked the test subjects to assess the physical strength of individuals based on photographs of their faces, their bodies, or both. Subjects were asked to rank the physical strength or fighting ability of the people in the photographs on a scale of one to seven. When the photographs depicted men whose strength had been measured precisely on weight-lifting machines, the researchers found an almost perfect correlation between perceptions of fighting ability and perceptions of strength. - scidaily

Check out this program (Windows) called FACES 4.0. You can download a demo and create your own mug shots.  See if you can make a guy who would be stronger than this:

Some people think intelligence can also be judged from faces because attractiveness, which is cross-culturally agreed upon, is correlated with intelligence.

2 Dogs Killed When Hundreds Of Bees Attack

A swarm of bees that terrorized a Florida neighborhood has killed three dogs and injured a 70-year-old woman. Authorities in Palm Beach County say crews removed 50 pounds of honeycomb from the side of a Riviera Beach home after Friday's attack. The hive has been contained.... - lvn

"The critter control is hauling away the honeycomb material," said Riviera Beach Fire Rescue Division Chief Russ Elgin. "We're given the understanding that once the material is moved and the queen bee is gone, the residual bees will move in or die off."

It's good news for the neighborhood, but it's too late for the Tucker family.The family said the bees killed two of their dogs -- 3-year-old Diamond and 2-year-old Turk."I would say hundreds of them, and I just didn't know how many because you didn't see them all," Shronderlette Davis-Tucker said. "But when they were swarming all over the area, it was something from a horror movie."The dogs were attacked Friday afternoon, Davis-Tucker said. She said she was inside the house at the time, and then all of a sudden she heard her son yelling."He ran in and said, 'Mom, the bees are attacking Diamond,'"
Davis-Tucker said. She said she quickly got Diamond inside and then the bees starting attacking her. "The bees got all on me," she said. "We ran into the shower because I knew to try the water, so I got her in the shower and we were just getting the bees off."

... Tucker said she spent about $800 trying to save her dogs, but she's hoping the owner of the property where the beehive was will help with the expense. - wpfb

Sad for the dogs. Dogs and bees have co-existed for a long time. I guess if both are territorial we know the outcome. Most bees will just ignore you unless you are freaking out, or unless they are defending their hive.  If they attack, run. Leave the area quickly. Open the doors and encourage the dogs to run for it.

Don't stick around and try to get bees off in the shower. Most bees will get themselves off just fine if you just stay out of the shower and instead use the back door.  Most people have one. I don't really know, because I wasn't there, of course. Perhaps getting the bees off that way was the all she could do because her back door was blocked up or something. This is the key:
Regular honeybees will chase you about fifty yards. Africanized honeybees may pursue you three times that distance. - wikihow

I speculate that this is why, in schools, back when physical education still mattered to Americans, they used to have something called, "the 50 yard dash" -- you only need to get 150 feet away from where the attack started (450 feet if attacked by Africanized bees.) The average human can walk 3 miles per hour. One mile is 5280 feet. That translates to 88 feet per minute, therefore, even if you could not run, you could escape from normal bees in two minutes by walking away.

Most people can run 6 miles per hour, so you'd be out of there in one minute with regular bees.  It takes about 1,100 honeybee stings to kill a human. Africanized bees if you are right up in their nest, will manage to sting you about 200 times in one minute.  Don't swat at them, don't freeze up, don't jump in a pool (they will be waiting for you when you surface), get away from the area.  You will survive.

Hawaiian Cave Reveals Ancient Secrets

From the moment we saw it, we knew the place held many great secrets. We had been looking for new fossil sites on the south side of the Hawaiian island of Kauai in 1992 with our colleagues, Helen F. James and Storrs L. Olson of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., along with their children, Travis and Sydney, and our own, Mara and Alec.

And what we found was a cave - once a Pleistocene dune field, and later a sinkhole with pickling-jar powers - that may be the richest fossil site in the Hawaiian Islands, perhaps in the entire Pacific Island region.

Sixteen years after our discovery, we have excavated seeds, pollen, Polynesian artifacts, thousands of bird and fish bones, and more from this half-acre pile of sediments spanning many millennia. The site has yielded up some of the island's long-kept secrets, telling of a time when the largest land animals here were flightless waterfowl, such as the turtle-jawed moa nalo (Chelychelynechen quassus). Moreover, it documents the great changes that occurred when first Polynesians, and later Europeans, Americans, and Asians, arrived with boatloads of invasive alien species.

The first boats began arriving roughly a thousand years ago, kicking off the first of three stages of extinction on Kauai. In the first stage, Polynesians probably overhunted the large flightless birds, while introduced rats, chickens, and small pigs disrupted their remaining nests. Later, but before Captain Cook arrived in 1778, the agriculture of a growing Hawaiian population wiped out more species. Finally, Europeans arrived and brought goats and other livestock that finished the job.

In 2000 we learned the long-lost nineteenth-century name of the cave, Makauwahi, thanks to a local archaeologist, William K. "Pila" Kikuchi, who recovered the name from an essay written by a high school student more than a century ago. It means something like "smoke eye." That may have been in reference to Keahikuni, a mid-nineteenth-century native diviner who read the future in spirals of smoke rising from the sinkhole. - yahoo

Boy Accidentally Killed by Submachine Gun at Firearms Expo

With his father and a firearms instructor standing nearby, an 8-year-old Connecticut boy shot himself in the head with a submachine gun yesterday, killing himself in an accident some say should never have happened.

Christopher Bizilj was testing a 9 mm Micro Uzi at the Westfield Sportsman's Club in Westfield, Mass., as part of the Machine Gun Shoot and Firearms Expo, when he shot himself Sunday.

"The firearm instructor prepped the weapon for him, and once it was ready he handed it to the child," Westfield Police Lt. Hipolito Nunez told today. Christopher then pulled the trigger, and the gun's recoil pulled the barrel upward, causing a round to hit him on the right side of his head, according Nunez. He was pronounced dead a short time later at Baystate Medical Center in nearby Springfield.

Massachusetts law allows a child to fire a gun with parental consent, so long as there's an active permit for the gun and a licensed firearm instructor is supervising. It is unclear whether the gun had a permit or whether the instructor was licensed, but Nunez said Christopher's father was nearby. ... - abcnews


Nazis hoped to found empire in Amazonian rainforest

German scientists took an expedition to a remote region of the Brazilian Amazon on the border with French Guyana to see if they could set up a Nazi outpost in the Amazon. The book, The Guyana Project: A German Adventure on the Amazon, says the Nazis believed they were destined to colonise and settle in parts of the world much like the pioneers of America's west. On an island on a tributary of the Jari River, author Jens Gluessing found a 9ft-high wooden cross etched with swastikas. The inscription says: "Joseph Greiner died here on 2.1.1936, a death from fever in the service of German Research Work." Mr Gluessing discovered photographs of the expedition by exploring German and Brazilian archives. He found that Greiner was one of three sent by the SS to explore the region bordering French Guyana with a view to populating it on behalf of the Reich.

The team, using the cover story they were collecting specimens of fauna and wildlife, reported back to their boss Heinrich Himmler on how German soldiers could live in Brazil....

"They alone offer spacious immigration and settlement possibilities for the Nordic peoples." He added of the Amazon area: "For the more advanced white race it offers outstanding possibilities for exploitation." It would appear however before the plan was finalised, Himmler lost interest, thus shelving a potential Nazi South American colony. ... - telegraph

Some parts of the rumors that Nazi UFOs have been spotted in South America may stem from verifiable facts like this. Here is a video (in Russian) in which Russia supposedly admits there was a Nazi UFO base in Antarctica.  I didn't see any definite circular winged aircraft in any of the old video footage however. Just stills and illustrations. The supposed base in Antarctica on Google just looks like a swath were they scanned in higher definition rather than an attempt to cover up something. Further discussion here. See what you think:

Humans made fire 790,000 years ago

PhotoA new study shows that humans had the ability to make fire nearly 790,000 years ago, a skill that helped them migrate from Africa to Europe.

By analysing flints at an archaeological site on the bank of the river Jordan, researchers at Israel's Hebrew University discovered that early civilizations had learned to light fires, a turning point that allowed them to venture into unknown lands.

A previous study of the site published in 2004 showed that man had been able to control fire -- for example transferring it by means of burning branches -- in that early time period. But researchers now say that ancient man could actually start fire, rather than relying on natural phenomena such as lightning.

That independence helped promoted migration northward, they say.

The new study, published in a recent edition of Quaternary Science Reviews, mapped 12 archaeological layers at Gesher Benot Yaaqov in northern Israel.

"The new data shows there was a continued, controlled use of fire through many civilizations and that they were not dependent on natural fires," archaeologist Nira Alperson-Afil said on Sunday.

While they did not find remnants of ancient matches or lighters, Alperson-Afil said the patterns of burnt flint found in the same place throughout 12 civilizations was evidence of fire-making ability, though the methods used were unclear.

And because the site is located in the Jordan valley -- a key route between Africa and Europe -- it provides evidence of the human migration, she said.

"Once they mastered fire to protect themselves from predators and provide warmth and light, they were secure enough to move into and populate unfamiliar territory," Alperson-Afil said. - reuters

Protein Compass Guides Amoebas Toward Their Prey

Amoebas glide toward their prey with the help of a protein switch that controls a molecular compass, biologists at the University of California, San Diego have discovered.

Their finding, recently detailed in the journal Current Biology, is important because the same molecular switch is shared by humans and other vertebrates to help immune cells locate the sites of infections.

The amoeba Dictyostelium finds bacteria by scent and moves toward its meal by assembling a molecular motor on its leading edge. The active form of a protein called Ras sets off a cascade of signals to start up that motor, but what controlled Ras was unknown.

Richard Firtel, professor of biology along with graduate student Sheng Zhang and postdoctoral fellow Pascale Charest tested seven suspect proteins by disrupting their genes. One called NF1, which matches a human protein, proved critical to chemical navigation.

NF1 turns Ras off. Without this switch mutant amoebas extended false feet called pseudopodia in all directions and wandered aimlessly as Ras flickered on and off at random points on their surfaces. “You have to orient Ras in order to drive your cell in the right direction,” Firtel said.

In contrast, normal amoebas with working versions of NF1 elongate in a single direction and head straight for the most intense concentration of bacterial chemicals, the team reports ... - scidaily

Cameras Capture 'Fireball' In The Sky: Meteor May Have Crashed In Ontario

For the second time this year, The University of Western Ontario Meteor Group has captured incredibly rare video footage of a meteor falling to Earth. The team of astronomers suspects the fireball dropped meteorites in a region north of Guelph, Ontario, Canada, that may total as much as a few hundred grams in mass. ... On Wednesday, October 15 at 5:28 a.m., all seven cameras of Western's Southern Ontario Meteor Network recorded a bright, slow fireball in the predawn sky. ... "This event was a relatively slow fireball that made it far into the Earth's atmosphere. Most meteoroids burn up by the time they hit an altitude of 60 or 70 kilometres from the ground," explains McCausland, who is heading to the region next week to investigate. "This one was tracked by our all-sky camera network to have penetrated to an altitude of about 37 kilometres and it slowed down considerably, so there is a possibility that at least one and possibly several small meteorites made it to the ground." ... Videos are available at:

Two held over Obama death plot

Two white supremacist skinheads were arrested in Tennessee over plans to go on a killing spree and eventually shoot Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama, court documents showed on Monday.

Daniel Cowart and Paul Schlesselman were charged in a criminal complaint with making threats against a presidential candidate, illegal possession of a sawed-off shotgun and conspiracy to rob a gun dealer. The plot did not appear to be very advanced or sophisticated, the court documents showed. "We're unsure of their ability or if they have the wherewithal to carry out any of their threats," said a source close to the investigation. Obama would be the first black president in U.S. history if he defeats Republican John McCain in the November 4 election. Concerns about Obama's safety led the Secret Service to provide round-the-clock protection from early in his campaign.

The suspects met over the Internet about a month ago, said an affidavit filed by Brian Weaks, a special agent with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. "The individuals began discussing going on a 'killing spree' that included killing 88 people and beheading 14 African Americans," Weaks said in the affidavit. The men stole guns from family members and also had a sawed-off shotgun. They planned to target a predominately black school, going state to state while robbing individuals and continuing to kill people, Weaks said in the affidavit. ... - reuters

Ignorant people sometimes cling violently to false beliefs and may seek to destroy evidence which proves them wrong. In this case, Obama as president would show so many bigots in this country that skin color is irrelevant.

In Daniel Cowart's photo on his MySpace webpage, why does he seem to be wearing lipstick and eyeshadow? I don't know much about skinheads, but wouldn't that be out of character?

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Mickey Mouse meets Star Wars heard a story tonight that was interesting. It seems all the money we spent on the "Star Wars" Strategic Defense Initiative was not wasted. As a warning to the soviets, an acquaintance of mine believes that the US used a working military satellite equipped with lasers to cut a large Micky Mouse into Russian soil. This feature is supposedly visible now on google maps or something. The person I spoke to believes that if soviet missiles were launched they wouldn't get 30 feet in the air before the lasers could detonate them. Cool. This might explain some crop circles. Wouldn't it be great if that 30 billion dollars of US tax payer money was actually used very wisely, resulting in very real advances and functional defense systems. The official history says that the entire thing was a flop. But that may just be a cover story.

This object, by the way, is dated to 900 A..D. and was excavated at a site called Uppåkra in southern Sweden.
The bronze brooch may remind modern viewers of Mickey Mouse, but archaeologist Jerry Rosengren from Lund University told Discovery News that it actually represents a lion.

Yeah, right. It could also be evidence left behind by a time traveler. See ooparts.

Anyway, back to the original story, does anyone have a photo of Mickey Mouse as a crop circle, perhaps in Russia?

The Onion: Diebold Accidentally Leaks Results Of 08 Election

Early e-voting results in vote flipping in three states so far, and what you can do.

Martinsburg man says machine switched Democratic vote to Republican 5 times ... Roger Belozier, a veteran and retired postal worker from Berkeley County, experienced problems with electronic voting machines when he went to vote early in the Martinsburg courthouse.

"I reviewed my vote to make sure it was a straight Democratic ticket. But it switched my vote to Republican candidates five different times. I was able to cancel out the Republican votes.

"But I am scratching my head. Why did the machine switch my votes five different times? I asked someone to come over and explain it to me," Belozier said on Wednesday. "I am concerned about a lot of people who might not notice or people who might be intimidated. They have to raise their hands and ask for some help."

Tracy Lopez had the same problem when she went to vote in Martinsburg with her husband last week, according to a message she posted on a political Web site supporting Obama.

"When I pressed 'Barack Obama,' it checked off 'John McCain,' " Lopez wrote. "I de-selected, and instead of taking any chances, I chose straight Democratic ticket rather than go through the whole thing and have any mistakes."

Lopez, who declined to be interviewed personally, thought, "Maybe I had just been clumsy. But my husband confirmed that he had the same exact thing happen to him. He was on a different voting machine, voting at the same time I was."

...Secretary of State Betty Ireland held a press conference on Wednesday to "discuss recent reports of purported problems regarding touch- screen voting machines." Ireland vigorously defended iVotronic voting machines made by Election Systems & Software from Omaha, Neb. After some individuals reported voting problems, Ireland contacted county clerks and "advised them to examine their machines" and to recalibrate them if necessary.... - sgm

How about this: fire Secretary of State Betty Ireland and throw these machines in the garbage heap where they belong. Recalibrate my butt. What she means by "recalibrate" is make the vote flip fraud not show up to the voting individual, which is easily done with proprietary software. An electronic vote is a vote thrown away.
I noted in passing last week that West Virginia has had the distinct honor of being the first state in the union to report problems (surprise! surprise!) with its electronic voting systems. There are now also reports that similar problems have been happening in Tennessee and Texas as well. No doubt these won't be the last.

So what exactly has happened? Largely, the problem has been what's been dubbed "vote flipping" or "vote switching" -- which is exactly what it sounds like. According to a report by my buddy Scott Finn over at West Virginia Public Broadcasting from late last week:
Voters in at least two West Virginia counties -- Jackson and Putnam -- say electronic voting machines are switching their votes from Democrats to Republicans.

The two county clerks, both Republicans, say they don't think there's a problem. But these voting problems have gotten the attention of everyone from CNN to liberal website The Huffington Post.

So far, eight voters from Jackson and Putnam counties have come forward to say their electronic voting machines kept changing their votes from Democrats to Republicans -- usually, from Obama to McCain.

Wired News also reports that Ohio and Berkeley counties have been having similar problems.

It appears that some of the problems have to do with the fact that the software is simply faulty, and requires "recalibration" by voting officials.

According to an account in the Decatur County Chronicle:
"The way the machine is set up, when you are standing in front of it and seeing it at a certain angle, it looks like you are touching the middle (of the button) when you are actually touching the line above it," Box said.

[Election Commissioner Rick Box] and fellow Election Commissioner Grafton Dodd tested the machines on Monday. Dodd could not be reached for comment but Box said he found the area of the screen where the buttons for President are located are extremely close together. He blames the problem in part on poor design by software programmers, and adds that there may be sensitivity issues with the screen itself.

In other words, it's the voter's fault. ... - salon

This should piss you off, but there are things you can still do to protect the vote. Get involved in your area (or go document the results in a place you suspect will have vote fraud). Here are some tips from

Captain Kirk "Shatner" on gun control!

A friend and I were talking about Star Trek and also guns tonight. When I got home, I found this video.

This is TV. In real life if you get the drop on the bad guy, skip the fancy stuff and put three in the center of mass fast as you can, then a double-tap to the skull just to make sure. If the target can still scream, he can still shoot back. - wrh