Monday, June 30, 2008

Accidental fungus leads to promising cancer drug

A drug developed using nanotechnology and a fungus that contaminated a lab experiment may be broadly effective against a range of cancers, U.S. researchers reported on Sunday.

The drug, called lodamin, was improved in one of the last experiments overseen by Dr. Judah Folkman, a cancer researcher who died in January. Folkman pioneered the idea of angiogenesis therapy -- starving tumors by preventing them from growing blood supplies. Lodamin is an angiogenesis inhibitor that Folkman's team has been working to perfect for 20 years. Writing in the journal Nature Biotechnology, his colleagues say they developed a formulation that works as a pill, without side-effects. They have licensed it to SynDevRx, Inc, ....

Tests in mice showed it worked against a range of tumors, including breast cancer, neuroblastoma, ovarian cancer, prostate cancer, brain tumors known as glioblastomas and uterine tumors. ... "Using the oral route of administration, it first reaches the liver, making it especially efficient in preventing the development of liver metastasis in mice," they wrote in their report. "Liver metastasis is very common in many tumor types and is often associated with a poor prognosis and survival rate," they added.


"When I looked at the livers of the mice, the treated group was almost clean," Benny said in a statement. "In the control group you couldn't recognize the livers -- they were a mass of tumors."

The drug was known experimentally as TNP-470, and was originally isolated from a fungus called Aspergillus fumigatus fresenius. ... Twenty days after being injected with cancer cells, four out of seven untreated mice had died, while all treated mice were still alive, Benny's team reported. - yahoo

New hypersonic jet Might reach Mach 5 to Mach 10.

The video I saw doesn't have much detail, but it does say the system under development by the Airforce, NASA and others uses 1000 explosions per second in its engines.
Fifty-seven years after combat pilot Chuck Yeager broke the sound barrier, NASA will make a second attempt Saturday at flying an aircraft at 5,000 mph -- about seven times Mach 1, the speed of sound.

The space agency's dogged pursuit of extreme speed, officials hope, will ultimately make space flight easier to accomplish.

NASA will roll out the X-43A, capable of reaching speeds more than Mach 7, in a test flight over the Pacific Ocean. The Hyper-X, as it is called, could also give rise to commercial planes that zip passengers between London and New York in less than two hours.

"It's relatively simple in its concept," said Griff Corpening, chief engineer for the X-43A program. "It's incredibly challenging in its execution.... [That is] where 40 plus years of research comes in."

The $250-million Hyper-X program has already attracted the interest of the Air Force and private aerospace companies such as Boeing. But dreams of civilian spin-offs are at least 20 years away, said NASA officials, who are betting the program will first lead to a more durable, cheaper workhorse for the space fleet. - cnn

A commenter on this story on gizmodo writes:
Mach 10 = 7,612 MPH
Distance between New York and Los Angeles: 2,451 miles. So you could get it across the country in about 20 minutes

Aging: Good Cholesterol, Good Memory

People are often advised to try to keep up their levels of so-called good cholesterol to reduce their risk of heart disease. But high levels may also help prevent a decline in memory, a new study says.

Researchers found that people with more high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, known as HDL, did better on memory tests than people with lower levels did. The study, led by Archana Singh-Manoux, appears in Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis and Vascular Biology, an American Heart Association Journal. - more on nytimes

I think you find good cholesterol in eggs... or something... I can't remember.

Report: California's Death Penalty 'Close to Collapse'

California's 30-year-old death penalty, which costs more than $100 million annually to administer, is "close to collapse," according to a new report issued Monday.

The California Commission on the Fair Administration of Justice, appointed by the state Legislature to propose criminal justice reforms, issued a 117-page report detailing a deeply flawed death penalty system that has the biggest backlog of cases in the nation.

The commission stopped short of calling for the abolition of the state's death penalty, but did note that California would save hundreds of millions of dollars throughout the criminal justice system if capital punishment were eliminated. It said most condemned inmates are essentially given life sentences because so few executions are carried out.

The commission blamed inadequate legal representation, a broad death penalty law that makes nearly all first-degree murder cases eligible for the death penalty and a host of other issues that has made California capital punishment system "dysfunctional."

"It is the law in name only, and not in reality," the report stated. - fox

Good. Stop killing people. Just give them the brain surgery they need. Fix their behavior with a few brain nanobots ... then we can let them out so they can do useful jobs for society. Reprogramming damaged brains is the wave of the future.

Guantanamo Evidence Faulted in Detainee Case

Read the Snark.

In the first case to review the government’s secret evidence for holding a detainee at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, a federal appeals court found that accusations against a Muslim from western China held for more than six years were based on bare and unverifiable claims. The unclassified parts of the decision were released on Monday.

With some derision for the Bush administration’s arguments, a three-judge panel said the government contended that its accusations against the detainee should be accepted as true because they had been repeated in at least three secret documents.

The court compared that to the absurd declaration of a character in the Lewis Carroll poem “The Hunting of the Snark”: “I have said it thrice: What I tell you three times is true.”

“This comes perilously close to suggesting that whatever the government says must be treated as true,” said the panel of the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

The unanimous panel overturned as invalid a Pentagon determination that the detainee, Huzaifa Parhat, a member of the ethnic Uighur Muslim minority in western China, was properly held as an enemy combatant.

The panel included one of the court’s most conservative members, the chief judge, David B. Sentelle. - NYTimes

Suspect in USS Cole Attack Alleges Torture

An alleged terrorist being charged with the bombing of the USS Cole in 2000 says he only confessed to stop the torture.

Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri told a hearing last year that's he's been tortured since his arrest in 2002. He said he only admitted to the Cole bombing and other terrorist acts to make his interrogators happy.

The CIA has admitted that al-Nashiri was among terrorist suspects who were waterboarded in 2002 and 2003 while being interrogated in secret prisons. The Pentagon says it will have to be decided at trial whether any confessions that resulted are tainted.

Al-Nashiri, who is a Saudi, is charged with "organizing and directing" the bombing of the Cole, which killed 17 sailors. The Pentagon wants the death penalty. - fox

Nothing he confesses to can be taken as useful now. Stop torturing people.

The lunatic fringe: Is moonlight the miracle cure?

Deep in the Arizona desert, a bizarre machine is offering new hope to sufferers from conditions ranging from eczema to cancer. How does it work? By the light of the silvery moon... Words & pictures by Jason Oddy

People come from far and wide to test the benefits of the Interstellar Light Collector...

While another couple were receiving their dose Eric began rhapsodising about an experiment conducted by Dr Corinne Davies, a professor at the University of Arizona. "She took two lots of seeds and put one in front of the Collector," he explained. "The seeds that were exposed to the moonlight germinated much more successfully. It was incredible." Later on the phone, I asked Dr Davies, currently on sabbatical writing a book, In the Arms of the Moon: A Lunar Spin on the Evolution Story, about her experiment. "It's cool what he's doing," she said of Chapin's invention. "Everyone should have the chance to realise their dreams. But I don't think my results proved anything. It was just a preliminary test ... Still, I didn't expect anything to happen – but it did." - independent

Stilt-walker completes 830 miles across Michigan

A 24-year-old man has completed an 830-mile trek on aluminum stilts across Michigan's Upper and Lower Peninsulas to make people aware of cerebral palsy. ... Sauter has raised $16,000 for United Cerebral Palsy of Michigan. A 3-to-1 matching federal grant pushes that total to $64,000. Sauter has mild cerebral palsy and used three pairs of stilts on the walk. - yahoo

I had a roommate in college with CP. Nice guy with a great sense of humor. Is walking on stilts easier than walking 830 miles without them?

Court: Exorcism is protected by law

The Texas Supreme Court on Friday threw out a jury award over injuries a 17-year-old girl suffered in an exorcism conducted by members of her old church, ruling that the case unconstitutionally entangled the court in religious matters.

In a 6-3 decision, the justices found that a lower court erred when it said the Pleasant Glade Assembly of God's First Amendment rights regarding freedom of religion did not prevent the church from being held liable for mental distress triggered by a "hyper-spiritualistic environment."

Laura Schubert testified in 2002 that she was cut and bruised and later experienced hallucinations after the church members' actions in 1996, when she was 17. Schubert said she was pinned to the floor for hours and received carpet burns during the exorcism, the Austin American-Statesman reported. She also said the incident led her to mutilate herself and attempt suicide. She eventually sought psychiatric help.

Story continues on msnbc

Dumb. What if a particular type of exorcism involves taking money from a bank? Is that still protected?

Bush rejects US intelligence agency findings, uses $400 million to attack Iran?

Why should Bush listen to his own experts? He should just trust his manly hunches about who has nookular weapons.

The Bush administration has significantly increased covert military operations inside Iran aimed at destabilising the country's government, according to a US report published yesterday.

The report, in the New Yorker magazine, quotes military, intelligence and congressional sources as saying that CIA and special forces operations were ordered by George Bush in a "presidential finding" in the past few months. It said Bush sought - and congressional leaders from both parties approved - $400m (£200m) for the secret war, which includes abductions and assassinations.

According to the report's author, Seymour Hersh, the operations inside Iran have been under way since last year but have recently been "significantly expanded". ... There have been reports from Iran of assassinations of military officers, which Tehran has sometimes blamed on US and British operations. Both the US and Britain insist they are focused on diplomatic means to convince the Iranian government to suspend uranium enrichment and reprocessing.

... a US intelligence estimate published late last year concluding that Iran had closed down its weaponisation programme in 2003...

There has been persistent speculation that the Bush White House is considering air strikes against Iranian nuclear facilities before it leaves office next January.

Over the weekend, the commander of Iran's Revolutionary Guards, Major General Mohammad Ali Jafari, told a Tehran newspaper that Iran would retaliate against any US or Israeli attack on its nuclear installations by targeting the global oil supply. - guardianUK

Or, perhaps Bush is not really planning to attack Iran at all and there is something else going on...
Oil Rises to Record on Concern Iran Supplies May Be Disrupted
Crude oil rose to a record above $143 a barrel on speculation the dispute over Iran's nuclear program may disrupt supply from OPEC's second-largest producer.

Soooooooo, Bush isn't really planning to attack Iran; this is just a giant scam to run up the price of Congress members' oil stock portfolios!!!!!!! - wrh

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Anthrax settlement doesn't address reporters' issue or solve case

How much is the settlement? Some say $5.85 million, but there are several other figures out there too. There seems to be a confusion curse on the entire anthrax case. Based on the timing and the people targeted the anthrax attacks seemed to be an act of political terrorism intended to help get the Patriot Act passed.
The U.S. government will pay $4.6 million to settle a lawsuit brought by Steven Hatfill, a former U.S. Army biodefense researcher who was intensively investigated as a "person of interest" in the deadly anthrax letters of 2001, the Justice Department announced Friday.

The settlement, consisting of $2.825 million in cash and an annuity worth $1.8 million that will pay Hatfill $150,000 a year for 20 years, brings to an end a five-year legal battle.

Hatfill, who worked at the army's laboratory at Fort Detrick in Frederick, Maryland, in the late 1990s, was the subject of a flood of news media coverage beginning in mid-2002, after television cameras showed FBI agents in biohazard suits searching his apartment near the army base. John Ashcroft, then the attorney general, later called him a "person of interest" in the case on national television.

In a news conference in August 2002, Hatfill tearfully denied that he had anything to do with the anthrax letters and said irresponsible news media coverage based on government leaks had destroyed his reputation.

Hatfill's lawsuit, filed in 2003, accused FBI agents and Justice Department officials involved in the criminal investigation of the anthrax mailings of leaking information about him to the news media in violation of the Privacy Act. In order to prove their case, his lawyers took depositions from key FBI investigators, senior officials and a number of reporters who had covered the investigation.

Mark Grannis, a lawyer for Hatfill, said his client was pleased with the settlement.

"The good news is that we still live in a country where a guy who's been horribly abused can go to a judge and say, 'I need your help,' and maybe it takes a while, but he gets justice," Grannis said. ... The settlement, Grannis said, "means that Steven Hatfill is finally an ex-person of interest."...

Nearly seven years after the toxic letters were mailed, killing five people and sickening at least 17 others, the case has not been solved.

An FBI spokesman, Jason Pack, said the anthrax investigation, "is one of the largest and most complex investigations ever conducted by law enforcement."

"Solving this case is a top priority for the FBI and for the family members of the victims who were killed," Pack said. "Our commitment is undiminished." - iht

The little known negro space program

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WARNING: Strong language. A well made mocumentary.  I ask you, would this video be offensive to some people? Would some see it as racist humor? This is obviously a parody based on the Tuskegee Airmen.

Remembered for their valor and bravery, 72 of the nation’s first African-American fighter pilots were recognized during the Sixth Annual Tuskegee Airmen Convocation on Feb. 23. The convocation, which was held at 11 a.m., in the General Daniel “ Chappie ” James Center for Aerospace Science and Health Education, recognized the Tuskegee Airmen’s exemplary combat performance during World War II and their important contribution to Tuskegee ’s distinctive educational mission. -tuskegee

Lightning blasts a hole in airliner as bad luck strikes again

PEOPLE who believe bad things come in threes may have second thoughts about flying with Lan Chile after the airline suffered a second rare accident on its Sydney-Santiago run.

The airline made international headlines last year when flaming pieces of a re-entering satellite came within five nautical miles (9.2km) of an Airbus A340 travelling from Santiago to Auckland and Sydney.

And last week, lightning punched a hole in the nose of a Lan Chile Airbus carrying almost 300 people as it approached Auckland from Sydney. A New Zealand report quoted a witness as saying the strike caused a hole "the size of a dinner plate", although the plane landed safely.

The plane was among four aircraft struck by lightning last Wednesday as New Zealand was hammered by almost 15,000 strikes in 24 hours. -theaus

Sixteen hurt at French army show

Sixteen people including four children were wounded after a soldier fired live ammunition during a military show in the southern French town of Carcassonne, a local official said on Sunday. The accident occurred during a combat demonstration by the Third Marine Parachute regiment in which a soldier used live ammunition instead of blanks ... - reuters

Wanted Trailer

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more about "Wanted Trailer", posted with vodpod


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more about "JAPANESE WATER POWERED CAR!!", posted with vodpod

How to Run a Car on Water: The Truth About Genepax's Hydrogen Car

Is there some oil company conspiracy to keep water powered cars off of the streets? I once saw this as a possibility, now I think not. If a cost efficient water powered car could be made, it would change the world, but "cost efficiency" must be judged including the total cost of production. This is the key, not conspiracy.
There are no scientific laws that say you can't run a car on water. In fact, a Japanese company is the latest to claim they have pulled it off. See the video here:

Water-fuel car unveiled in Japan

However, what you can't do is run a car on water without energy inputs greater than you get from splitting the water. ... There is a way to mask the energy input, and that is what the Japanese company is doing. I had to do a bit of research, but I finally found this:

Genepax unveils water energy fuel cell system

Within the story is the key to what's going on:
Though the company did not reveal any more detail the company president said that they had "succeeded in adopting a well-known process to produce hydrogen from water to the MEA", similar to the mechanism that produces hydrogen by a reaction of metal hydride and water.

...So, if you had NaH in your car, and you dripped water on it, you would produce hydrogen from the water. What's the catch? Metal hydrides that react with water don't occur naturally, because they would have already reacted. This is the same reason hydrogen doesn't occur naturally on earth. So, it takes energy inputs to make the metal hydrides. And there is the hidden energy source in the water car. ... (Note that they may not be using metal hydrides; there are other compounds that react with water to liberate hydrogen. Again, none occur naturally on earth, and all require significant energy inputs to produce). -inteldaily

British Intelligence Says China is Preparing for Nuclear War

Defense analysts for the British intelligence service MI6 believe China is preparing for the “eventuality of a nuclear war.” The conclusion follows evidence that Beijing has built secretly a major naval base deep inside caverns which even sophisticated satellites cannot penetrate, says a report in Joseph Farah’s G2 Bulletin.

In an unusual development, the analysts have provided details to the specialist defense periodical, Jane’s Intelligence Review, which published satellite images of the base location which is hidden beneath millions of tons of rock on the South China Sea island of Hainan.

The MI6 analysts have confirmed the submarine base hewn out of the rock will contain up to 20 of the latest C94 Jin-Class submarines, each capable of firing anti-satellite missiles and nuclear tipped rockets.

Knocking out the satellites would leave Taiwan, Japan and other countries around the Pacific Rim effectively without a key warning system. An attack also would disrupt vital communications between U.S. battle squadrons in the region and Washington.

Satellite images studied by GCHQ, Britain’s spy in the sky intelligence gathering organization based at Cheltenham that works closely with the U.S. National Security Agency, have confirmed the entrance to the base is through no fewer than 11 separate tunnel openings. - dgovt

This ties in with this other story I remember being in the news years ago:
The Hainan Island incident was the April 1, 2001, collision between a United States Navy EP-3E signals reconnaissance aircraft and a People's Liberation Army Navy J-8IIM fighter jet that resulted in an international incident between the United States and China. The EP-3, assigned to Fleet Air Reconnaissance Squadron One (VQ-1) had been operating about 70 miles (110 km) away from the Chinese island of Hainan, when the craft was intercepted by two J-8IIM fighters. A collision resulted between the wing of the EP-3 and one of the J-8s, which caused the death of the J-8's pilot, Wang Wei, while the EP-3 was forced to make an emergency landing on Hainan.

But don't all countries with military forces prepare for nuclear war?

Scientists create beating heart

Medical research is apparently progressing quite nicely according to this video which depicts a heart that has been created from stem cells, it claims that any organ can be made from stem cells and in the future that means nobody will need to use ant-rejection medicine to keep their transplant healthy, because using their own stem cells to grow these organs will make it a “perfect” match. -darkgovt

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Police: FEMA Inspector Assaults Flood Zone Resident

Years before 9/11, I read that FEMA is a secret government, that it runs secret underground bases, that presidential executive orders will permit it to take over the US in the event of a major emergency. I've seen freaky reports of empty FEMA prison camps in perhaps every state and ominous white transporter train cars... but so far, FEMA just helps people, or tries to. Perhaps FEMA's true power is understood only by some of its members? Or perhaps the conspiracy stuff is paranoid nonsense. In either case, this was an unusual story:

According to police a contracted FEMA housing inspector nearly hit a Penford Products employee with his car and then got out of the car slamming the man with a golf club. FEMA housing inspector Vincent Koley, 74, was charged with assault with a dangerous weapon after the 11:30 a.m. incident, the Cedar Rapids Police Department reported.

Koley stopped the car and jumped out, police said. Tom Kramer told him to slow down and that he was in the cross walk. Koley replied that "he didn't have to slow down, he was with FEMA," police said. The two argued for a minute, and when Kramer turned to walk away, Koley took a golf club out of his car and struck Kramer across the arm, breaking the golf club.

Koley got back into his car, but numerous Penford employees observed the incident and surrounded the car so Koley couldn't leave, police said. Koley then began to nudge his car forward, forcing Kramer, who was in front of the car, onto the car's hood.

Koley was booked into the Jones County Jail. He is an employee of Alltech, Inc., a Herndon, Va., housing inspection company contracted with FEMA. Alltech has provided housing inspection services in emergency or disaster areas to FEMA since 1995, according to the firm's Web site. - wtam


"Rather than have an army of housing inspectors on the government payroll year-round, FEMA pays two private companies to train and hire inspectors: Alltech Inc. of Herndon, Va.; and Partnership for Response and Recovery, or PaRR Inspections, of Fairfax, Va." [1]

Truck Full Of Extinguishers Catches Fire

A truck full of fire extinguishers and other safety equipment caught fire in Lancaster Township Wednesday afternoon. The Lancaster Township Fire Department was called to 1405 Wabank Road for a vehicle fire at 4:19 p.m. ... The fire was determined to be accidental. It was caused by the overheating of a block heater plugged into the truck, according to Lancaster Township Fire Department Chief Ron Comfort, Jr. and the truck's owner, Jeff Lefever. - ffnews

Teen boy decapitated by batman roller coaster

The story says the teen, who was at the park with his parents as part of a church group, jumped a fence to get a hat, so he was obviously not riding the coaster, but was struck by it. Sad.

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Saturday, June 28, 2008

The Science of Hit Songs

A new study reveals that we make our music purchases based partly on our perceived preferences of others. - livesci

This makes sense to me. If you show someone a web site with various song choices, all of which they have never heard, but some of which have been downloaded many more times than others, they will choose--and actually end up liking more--the songs that are seemingly the most popular.

In other words, sheep go to heaven, goats go to hell.

When I was a kid I used to love listening to the "B sides", the songs like George Harrison's "Apple Scruffs" and and Elton John's "Grey Seal" were never their most popular, but these were the ones I liked the best.

How about you?

Warming is Real. North Pole May Melt In Total by September

By September this year, all of the ice at the North Pole may melt for the first time ever. Do "global warming is a lie" people also believe someone in Nigeria wants to give them millions of dollars? Time to wake up.

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Warming deniers have been tricked by years of Big Oil propaganda, delivered by people like Rush Limbaugh.

The August 13 issue of Newsweek ... reports, in an extensive article titled "The Truth About Denial", that the oil companies are orchestrating a well-funded effort at misinformation and out-right lies.

The article is extensive, and damning - and it cites specifics in this multi-decade effort by big oil to lie to the American public, and highlights the support they've had in this effort from the Republicans in Congress and in the White House.

The concerted, deliberate intentional effort to lie to the American public is well-documented:

Groups that opposed greenhouse curbs ramped up. They "settled on the 'science isn't there' argument because they didn't believe they'd be able to convince the public to do nothing if climate change were real," says David Goldston, who served as Republican chief of staff for the House of Representatives science committee until 2006. - wbb

Friday, June 27, 2008

Weird Weather: Heat burst hits Cozad

Cozad residents woke this morning to a weather phenomenon as a heat burst rolled through town. Temperatures rose 20 degrees in a matter of minutes while winds reached speeds of 75 miles per hour.

Many had no idea what was happening. Mike Steinwart, Cozad Street Department, said it came quickly. "No warning, not even a whistle, I thought it was a tornado. The way people explained. I thought it was a tornado, but they say it was a heat burst."

Trees were thrown into houses and cars but no injuries were reported. There was at least one close call. Nancy Wurst said her son just missed injury as a tree crashed into his car. "He was about a minute from being in the car he was standing at the door getting ready to come outside to go to work. If that would have happened one minute later he could have been in the car."

The last heat burst in Nebraska was in hastings in 2oo6. - ntv

Halo WALL-E Trailer

This is supposed to be a new level of computer graphics for Pixar. I might go and wear earplugs so I don't have to hear the annoying "cute" voices.

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Hackers Hijack Critical Internet Organizations

Turkish hackers Thursday defaced the official sites of the international organizations that oversee the Internet's critical routing infrastructure and regulate domain names, researchers said Friday.

A group calling itself "NetDevilz" claimed responsibility for the hack, which Thursday morning temporarily redirected visitors to the sites for IANA ( Internet Assigned Numbers Authority ) and ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers).

Users who tried to reach,, and were shunted to an illegitimate site... According to a screen capture of the defacement snapped by, the bogus site simply displayed a taunting message: "You think that you control the domains but you don't! Everybody knows wrong. We control the domains including ICANN! Don't you believe us?" ...
The hackers redirected IANA and ICANN traffic to the same IP address that they used last week when they broke into Photobucket Inc.'s image-sharing site and pushed its users to a server operated by, a German hosting service, said Bulgarian security researcher Dancho Danchev in a blog post Friday.

A spokesman for ICANN contacted Friday morning wasn't aware of the hack, and declined comment until he found find out more. - nytimes

I did notice that photobucket outage, but I didn't think it was due to hacking. Interesting.

Supreme Court Upholds Gun Ownership Rights

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Scientists reveal why glass is glass

Scientists have made a breakthrough discovery in the bizarre properties of glass, which behaves at times like both a solid and a liquid.

The finding could lead to aircraft that look like Wonder Woman's plane. Such planes could have wings of glass or something called metallic glass, rather than being totally invisible.

The breakthrough involved solving the decades-old problem of just what glass is. It has been known that that despite its solid appearance, glass and gels are actually in a "jammed" state of matter — somewhere between liquid and solid — that moves very slowly. Like cars in a traffic jam, atoms in a glass are in something like suspended animation, unable to reach their destination because the route is blocked by their neighbors. So even though glass is a hard substance, it never quite becomes a proper solid, according to chemists and materials scientists. ... The deceptively liquid-like behavior of glass can be seen when you look at glass in the windows of an old building. The glass begins to sag and distort internally over the centuries, due to the effect of gravity. ... Royall is part of a group of scientists who think that if you wait long enough, perhaps billions of years, all glass will eventually crystallize into a true solid. In other words, glass is not in an equilibrium state, (although it appears that way to us during our limited lifetimes). - msnbc

Mystery: The molecular arrangement of metallic glass is now understood, but why does this metallic glass give off sparks when struck?
The alloy of zirconium, beryllium, titanium, copper, and nickel is one of the first metallic glasses that can be made in bulk and formed into strong, hard, useful objects. It was discovered by William L. Johnson and Atakan Peker of the California Institute of Technology. - lbl

The sample metallic glass above is obviously not clear. Is some metallic glass transparent?

Suicides ‘LINKED TO PHONE MASTS’ (cell phone towers)

THE spate of deaths among young people in Britain’s suicide capital could be linked to radio waves from dozens of mobile phone transmitter masts near the victims’ homes.

Dr Roger Coghill, who sits on a Government advisory committee on mobile radiation, has discovered that all 22 youngsters who have killed themselves in Bridgend, South Wales, over the past 18 months lived far closer than average to a mast.

He has examined worldwide studies linking proximity of masts to depression. Dr Coghill’s work is likely to trigger alarm and lead to closer scrutiny of the safety of masts, which are frequently sited on public buildings such as schools and hospitals. - express

Some people call them Mind Control Towers. Here is one example of this strange belief:
The day is now approaching in which government mind control technologies will be directed at you, your neighbors, and your loved ones. Every single day, equipment is being erected and installed in this country with the hidden purpose of exerting mind control over the entire population. Everywhere in this country (and overseas), ELF/microwave transmission towers are being erected. The antennae usually look like four slightly curved vertical plates about 2 feet in length and located in either 3 or 4 quadrants around the tower, two thirds up from the ground. Just look around, you'll see them. - educateyourself

I've seen no evidence that a person's behavior can be controlled by transmissions from these towers. With microwaves you could damage brain tissue, and perhaps make someone nauseous, but our skulls protect us somewhat, so the effects on our eyes would be noticeable before effects on our brains. In other words, interesting, but highly unlikely.

Here is some supposed military speculation from 1996 on the topic, but I don't think there are mind control rays to change emotions or make people freeze or fall asleep yet.
From USAF Scientific Advisory Board, New World Vistas Air and Space Power for the 21st Century, Ancillary Volume, p89. "Prior to the mid-21st century, there will be a virtual explosion of knowledge in the field of neuroscience. We will have achieved a clear understanding of how the human brain works, how it really controls the various functions of the body, and how it can be manipulated (both positively and negatively). One can envision the development of electromagnetic energy sources, the output of which can be pulsed, shaped, and focused, that can couple with the human body in a fashion that will allow one to prevent voluntary muscular movements, control emotions (and thus actions), produce sleep, transmit suggestions, interfere with both short-term and long-term memory, produce an experience set, and delete an experience set. This will open the door for the development of some novel capabilities that can be used in armed conflict, in terrorist/hostage situation, and in training..." - mindjustice

Scientists at Porton Down researched comical non-lethal crowd control devices

Instant banana skins, flying remote control planes into protectors to knock them down, knock out drugs and other things were proposed (and tested?)
According to recently declassified files from the National Archives, the military wanted weapons that would "incapacitate" demonstrators, allowing them to be captured. ...

The scientists were given the widest possible brief and came up with a range of weaponry that come straight out of the pages of science fiction novel.

They included a powerful, fast-setting, glue that when sprayed on clothes would instantly set them hard and so incapacitate the wearer and a super-slippery strip of road called an "instant banana skin" which would cause crowds to lose their footing.

The scientists also researched a drug which would safely knock someone out but they rejected the idea worried that anything made people unconscious very quickly risked killing them too. Instead, they worked on an "auto-inject dart" - to be fired from a gun - which contained either an emetic to make them sick or an anaesthetic to make them fall asleep.

However their favoured drugs turned out to be too dangerous. Files show the medical staff advised there was "an unacceptably high risk of death" with the vomit-inducing apomorphine.

The scientists seemed to do better with their "entangler grenade", another idea they took forward. This would explode in the air into coils of wire, landing on and immobilising protestors. The wire would be covered in fast-setting super adhesive and stick to rioters.

Royal Ordnance was asked to make up 1,000 of the grenades for testing but there the file ends - there is no indication of whether further tests were carried out. - telegraph

I once had a cool dream where rioters (not protesters, mind you, this crowd was rioting, not just exercising free speech. ) were made harmless by firing a bubble material at them. They were trying to fight but each person became encapsulated in his own bubble (not air tight). In my dream the angry people inside were still violently attempting to kill each other, but their bubbles were just bouncing around harmlessly. They could breathe fine and eventually, after they'd stopped struggling for three hours, the bubble would dissolve.

Holes in the Earth: 170 and Counting

At last count, there were more than 170 known impact craters on our planet, according to the Earth Impact Database maintained by the University of New Brunswick in Canada. These puncture wounds are littered over every continent, as well as the seafloor.

There would be countless more if it weren't for Earth's constant remodeling. Plates shift, mountains form, volcanoes erupt and erosion washes over the planet's surface, continually hiding the evidence of most craters.

"If there was no erosion or tectonic activity, we would look like the moon," said Lucy Thompson, a geologist at the University of New Brunswick. "The moon is just pockmarked with impact craters." - space

One Step Closer to Tricorders, with Handheld Device that Identifies Life Forms

Using nothing more than a battery-powered device that emits a beam of ultraviolet light, future robotic explorers will be able to identify the building blocks of life on other planets and moons. A group of scientists in the U.S. and the U.K. have developed a small device which uses a low-power laser beam to sweep over rocks or soil, identifying identify organic substances that are the signposts of life as we know it. Specifically, the little machine "sees" life by causing polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), often called the earliest form of organic matter in the universe, to light up. The discovery is so promising that it's likely to be launched out with the next generation of Mars rovers. - io9

Fossil fills out water-land leap

Scientists say a fossil of a four-legged fish sheds new light on the process of evolution.

The creature had a fish-like body but the head of an animal more suited to land than water.

The researchers' study, published in the journal Nature, says Ventastega curonica would have looked similar to a small alligator. Scientists say the 365-million-year-old species eventually became an evolutionary dead end.

... "From a distance, it would have looked like an alligator. But closer up, you would have noticed a real tail fin at the back end, a gill flap at the side of the head; also lines of pores snaking across head and body.

... Experts believe that Ventastega was an important staging post in the evolutionary journey that led creatures from the sea to the land. Scientists once believed that these early amphibious animals descended in a linear fashion, but this discovery instead confirms these creatures diversified into different branches along the way. ...

"Ventastega fills the gap between Tiktaalik and the earliest land based mammals. All these changes in these creatures are not going in lockstep; it's a mosaic with different parts of animal evolving at different rates. Ventastega has acquired some of land-animal characteristics, but has not yet got some of the other ones."

For instance, the creature had primitive feet - but with a high number of digits. ... You would have seven, eight, maybe even nine toes per foot... - bbc

Evolution takes forward and backward steps along the way. Too many toes was not as useful so that didn't last.

Alien army

A SHAKEN soldier told last night how he saw THIRTEEN UFOs spinning in the skies above his military barracks.

He was among three squaddies who spotted the objects while out on night patrol.

He filmed them on his mobile phone and reported the close encounter to Army top brass.

Mystery ... UFO seen on soldier's video

Mystery ... UFO seen on soldier's video

Ministry of Defence experts were studying his report and video yesterday — after ordering the soldier and his pals NOT to say anything else about the incident. ...

A 19-year-old private on patrol said he also saw the “fleet”.

The soldier, who asked not to be named, said: “I saw these things flying in the sky and I told my guard commander.

“There were about 30 lights passing over for a few minutes, very high but not at a great speed. They were bright red. Another soldier saw them too.”

An MoD spokesman said: “We deal with any UFO sightings to see if there was a military threat.”

The Sun told last week how helicopter cops were confronted by an object as they attempted to land at their base near Cardiff the same night.

Cabaret duo Katy Cunnion and Russell Quinn claimed they were pursued by the light in the sky for nearly an hour at 1am the following morning.

And last night Bonnie told of seeing cylinder-shaped craft.

She said: “They weren’t from this world. They made no sound and had flashing dots inside.” - thesun : Why We Age

[vodpod id=ExternalVideo.615961&w=425&h=350&]
more about " : Why We Age", posted with vodpod

Stolen car found in living room

TRACKER recovery crews and police found a new hiding place for stolen vehicles when they discovered a hijacked Toyota RunX inside what appeared to be the living room of a house in Germiston.

Tracker spokesperson Gareth Crocker yesterday said a stolen bakkie was tracked to the house on Monday, but when police inspected the house they also found a second vehicle parked inside what appeared to be a fake living room.

“From the outside, the living room appears to be part of the front of the house and seems totally normal, complete with modern windows and curtains. But inside the entire wall is built on a hinge mechanism which is able to wing open, like a large barn door, allowing vehicles to be driven inside.” — dispatch

Close encounters over Mersey

There are many earthly possibilities.  See my UFO article for more.

[vodpod id=ExternalVideo.615959&w=425&h=350&]

more about "Close encounters over Mersey", posted with vodpod

Asteroid Impact May Have Made Two-Faced Mars

Mars' two-faced nature may have been caused by a giant kick in the head, according to a new study.

Recent evidence suggests the vast disparity seen between the northern and southern halves of the planet is caused by the long-ago impact of a gigantic space rock into Mars. ... The northern hemisphere of the planet is smooth and low, and some experts think it may have contained a vast ocean long ago.

Meanwhile, the southern half of the Martian surface is rough and heavily-cratered, and about 2.5 miles to 5 miles (4 km to 8 km) higher in elevation than the northern basin. ... Nimmo's model showed how shock waves from the impact on the northern hemisphere would travel through the planet and disrupt the crust on the other side, causing changes in the magnetic field.

"The impact would have to be big enough to blast the crust off half of the planet, but not so big that it melts everything," Nimmo said. "We showed that you really can form the dichotomy that way." - FOX

Computer Scientist Turns His Face Into A Remote Control That Speeds And Slows Video Playback

A computer science Ph.D. student can turn his face into a remote control that speeds and slows video playback. The proof-of-concept demonstration is part of a larger project to use automated facial expression recognition to make robots more effective teachers. ...

In the pilot study, the facial movements people made when they perceived the lecture to be difficult varied widely from person to person. Most of the 8 test subjects, however, blinked less frequently during difficult parts of the lecture than during easier portions of the lecture, which is supported by findings in psychology.

One of the next steps for this project is to determine what facial movements one person naturally makes when they are exposed to difficult or easy lecture material. From here, Whitehill could then train a user specific model that predicts when a lecture should be sped up or slowed down based on the spontaneous facial expressions a person makes, explained Whitehill. - scidaily

My idea from a few years back is that appliances of the future might have video cameras with pattern recognition software which allows us to do things like turn lights on and off, make a room hotter or cooler, change the music that is playing, etc. just by gesturing.

Cheeky Study Finds Beauty Secret in Cadavers

...researchers injected dye and latex into 14 cadavers to find the boundaries of four deeply seated facial fat compartments. ... The research revealed that volume loss in those fat compartments results in the hollow look of aging, the researchers say.

So, could pumping up those compartments make you look like, say, Angelina Jolie?


"Cheeks are vital to what we consider beautiful — from chubby-cheeked infants to Hollywood stars like Angelina Jolie," said study co-author Joel Pessa of University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center. "This research breaks new ground by identifying the boundaries of specific fat compartments that are key to facial rejuvenation involving the cheeks, and as a consequence, the overall look of the face." ... "Restoring these compartments also improves volume loss under the eyes, helps eliminate lines around the nose and mouth and gives more curve to the upper lip, all of which restore a more youthful appearance to the face," according to a statement from the center.... - livesci

What makes us lose fat from our faces over time as we age? I met a guy a few nights ago at Wilbur Hotsprings who was over 50 years old but he looked like he was in his late 30s. I assume diet, a healthy environment and genetics all keep us young looking, but the more we know about the details, the better.

UFOs invade NT town

A SMALL Territory community is still reeling with shock after four UFOs descended on their Outback homes.

Families spent hours in fear as what appeared to be three spaceships hovered in the distance with another just metres above their houses. The drama at Marlinja, population 112 and 730km south of Darwin, began at 8pm on Sunday....

"We ran outside but at first we couldn't see anything -- it was really dark and we could hear the sound. "The sound was horrible. It sounded like something was going past. "We thought it was a jet. I saw what I thought at first was the evening star, the first star you usually see at night. "But then we saw three red lights in the distance, and the sound kept getting louder. "The ground felt like it was shaking, so we ran inside and shut the doors. "My nephew and niece were looking out through curtains. The thing came closer, circled around the basketball courts and then came so close above our house.

"The kids at the basketball courts ran -- two girls stood there looking towards the sky. "They tried to see what it was but all they could see was this bright red light in the pitch black." Ms Dixon said the UFO hovered above the homes for what seemed like a couple of hours.

She said at one stage the phone rang, but went dead when she tried to answer it.

"Then the light in the house became so bright, it was like we were sitting in a football stadium," she said. After a while, after the things all disappeared... I think it was about 11pm by then. "We went outside and were just sitting around drinking tea and talking about it all. The kids were put to bed. "We heard the noise again and it came back, but disappeared again moments later.

"We were all really frightened. "It was a big shock and I couldn't sleep." - ntnews

It would take a lot of power to generate all that light and noise, and to hover for several hours. This sighting is hard to ascribe to normal human activity, even military. I suppose it could be a test of some jet powered drones. Perhaps a private experimenter. I'm surprised that something like this could happen for two hours without there being tons of video and photos of the event. Do most people in Marlinja have digital cameras that shoot video? Perhaps not. They don't have any public toilets.

Australian Fishermen Catch 20-Foot, 500-Pound Giant Squid

Australian fishermen have hauled up a 20-foot-long giant squid off the country's southeastern coast.

Skipper Rangi Pene said Monday that the 500-pound squid was already dead when it was caught in a trawler's nets Sunday night in waters more than 1,640 feet deep ... - fox

Fair Use vs. DMCA issue hits Xenophilia blog

June 24, 2008: I can't post anything new today. This is the message I am seeing:
Warning: We have a concern about some of the content on your blog. Please contact us as soon as possible to resolve the issue and re-enable posting.

So far my attempts at contact have been unanswered. Some person or persons at will only allow me to "Submit for review" instead of publishing. If one this blog goes down, check for the link to the new blog. For example, this one at blogspot.

June 25, 2008: has asked that I remove one of my posts (the April fools jokes from the Museum of Hoaxes) due to what they consider a valid DMCA request. I've promptly removed that post, although I believe the post was fair use under the law. They have also asked that I remove "copied articles". Parts of copied articles are allowed under the fair use provision of US copyright law. I've let them know this. We will see if Wordpress cares about free speech and blogger rights enough to stand with me on this.

Extra Irony Points: This blog is largely me ranting against control freaks.

In other news, I'm up past 72,000 visits to this blog! Thanks for visiting. Stay tuned for more.

June 26, 2008: Blog enabled again by

Follow up: This blog provides news aggregation, reporting, research and education, as well as entertainment and my personal notes on life. My understanding of the fair use provision is that it allows reproduction of content, even copying of entire articles, with certain limitations.

Actually, the law is far from clear and the issue is really heating up. It's not just me. See: AP Blog Fair Use Guidelines.
... Quite often, blog posts... build from content created by the AP, NYT, WaPo, and others will wind up ranked higher in Google than the original content. This is due to the inter-linking that blogs do, the nature of permalinks, and a variety of factors that I don’t truly understand. It’s not hard to see why the AP would be irritated by that fact. If someone looking for information on the latest breaking news winds up at a blog that’s excerpting AP content rather than on a site displaying advertising that the AP is getting paid for, we’re costing them money.

At the same time, recirculating and commenting upon their content — so long as we link to the original — undoubtedly drives content to the AP’s affiliated sites and creates an additional audience for their work. What the trade-off is, exactly, I don’t know. - otb

In my research on this, I've found additionally that uses the same policy as which seems to protect everyone's rights the most. The legal question, however, is still murky.
... in a recent case (please see for more information), a company that sent an infringement notification seeking removal of online materials that were protected by the fair use doctrine was ordered to pay such costs and attorneys fees. The company agreed to pay over $100,000. Accordingly, if you are not sure whether material available online infringes your copyright, we suggest that you first contact an attorney.

For those researching this topic, one comment by "Counsel" on OTB had a nice summary:
...(See ... the US Government states, "Copyright protects the particular way an author has expressed himself; it does not extend to any ideas, systems, or factual information conveyed in the work" and describes the 4-prong test in Section 107.
Namely, in determining "fair use," the courts will look at:

1. the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes;
2. the nature of the copyrighted work;
3. amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and
4. the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.

Here are some related stories:


  • Wire Service Theft

  • Court Overturns FCC’s Broadcast Flag Rule

  • C-SPAN Changes Copyright Policy after Pelosi Flap

  • YouTube, Copyright Law, and Political Speech

  • AP Announces Excerpt Fees

  • What Is A Fair Copyright Term?

  • They are Starting to Get It

  • Preparing For The Digital TV Transition

  • Secret Blog Wars

  • Thursday, June 26, 2008

    NASA: Tests show Martian soil can support life

    Finding more familiar than alien elements, NASA scientists today announced that their initial analysis found that Martian soil could support life. ....

    "We were all very flabbergasted at the data we got back [from the wet chemistry tests]," said Samuel Kounaves, a professor at Tufts University and a research affiliate with the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. "We basically have found what appears to be the requirements to support life, whether in the past, present or future. We have elements that you might find in your backyard."

    Kounaves said in a conference call with the media that, though the findings are preliminary, they've found the minerals that are essential to life in the Martian soil. The dirt there is very alkaline, with a pH level of between eight and nine. They've also found magnesium, sodium, potassium and chloride. They're still waiting on analysis regarding evidence of sulfate in the soil.

    The minerals in the Martian soil, according to Kounaves, are typical of soils here on Earth.

    "Some kinds of Earth life would be happy to live in these soils," he added. "Asparagus, green beans and turnips love alkaline soils."

    William Boynton, a professor at the University of Arizona and a co-investigator with the Mars mission, noted that they received interesting findings in an earlier oven test on a different patch of soil. In that test, when the soil was heated to about 1,800 degrees Fahrenheit, small amounts of carbon dioxide and water vapor were released. That, he said, shows that there had been water there in the past.

    "There's nothing about it that's toxic. If you had it here, you could grow something in it," said Kounaves. "We found that a broader range of life could grow there. It allows for the possibility for an environment like you would find on Earth, with a lot of different organisms. The amazing thing about Mars is not that it's not an alien world, but it's actually quite familiar." - computerworld

    We should start now. Plant asparagus on Mars.

    So much smoke that leaving the door open set off the fire alarm

    Wednesday, June 25, 2008

    Cool, I can post again!

    I think... test... yes it works. Okay, this is a busy week so I may not post much. These fires in Northern CA where I live are causing very unhealthy air. Be careful out there. Stay indoors. Use masks if you go outside and aren't too embarrassed to wear one.  Asthma and even heart attacks can happen when the air gets this bad.

    This temporary shutdown by Wordpress is good in a way because it caused me to set up a back up blog.  If things really get crazy, as long as I'm able, you can the latest strange news from some link off of the main page.

    Surfing the apocalypse, I'm your host, Xeno.

    Tuesday, June 24, 2008

    'Hospital risk' from radio tags

    Lifesaving equipment in hospitals may be switched off by radio-frequency devices used to track people and machines, Dutch scientists claim.

    Radio frequency identification devices (RFIDs) are on the rise in healthcare, helping identify patients, and reveal the location of equipment.

    The Journal of the American Medical Association study found they could interfere with machines. ...

    The latest research, conducted at Vrije University in Amsterdam, tested the effect of holding both "passive" and powered RFIDs close to 41 medical devices, including ventilators, syringe pumps, dialysis machines and pacemakers.

    A total of 123 tests, three on each machine, were carried out, and 34 produced an "incident" in which the RFID appeared to have an effect - 24 of which were deemed either "significant" or "hazardous". - bbc'

    Why do we need RFID tags? Our species is slowly evolving into cyborgs. With computer chips in everyone, we will be one step closer. It's all about control. We can control computers, but our biology, not so much.

    Control freaks are freaking out.

    Tonight I'm reading more about fair use and I'm getting annoyed by the possibility that shut down my blog there over some misunderstanding of copywrite law.

    Why are people so freaking uptight?

    I am reporting news, researching topics of interest to me, and educating people about general interest science topics. On my blog, I am also providing a valuable service by collecting items of interest from different sources for people with similar interests.

    Cite your sources, provide links, don't plagiarize, and that should be it.

    Short quotations will usually be fair use, not copyright infringement. The Copyright Act says that "fair use...for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research, is not an infringement of copyright." So if you are commenting on or criticizing an item someone else has posted, you have a fair use right to quote. The law favors "transformative" uses — commentary, either praise or criticism, is better than straight copying — but courts have said that even putting a piece of an existing work into a new context (such as a thumbnail in an image search engine) counts as "transformative." - eff

    June 24, 1947: They Came From ... Outer Space?

    Pilot Kenneth Arnold sights a series of unidentified flying objects near Washington's Mt. Rainier. It's the first widely reported UFO sighting in the United States, and, thanks to Arnold's description of what he saw, leads the press to coin the term flying saucer.

    Arnold was an experienced pilot with more than 9,000 hours of flying time. He had diverted from his flight plan -- Chehalis to Yakima, Washington -- to search for a Marine Corps C-46 transport plane reported down in the Cascades near the southwest slope of Mt. Rainier. A sweep of the area revealed nothing, and Arnold resumed his original course.

    As Arnold recalled, the afternoon was crystal clear, and he was cruising at an altitude of 9,200 feet. A minute or two after noting a DC-4 about 15 miles behind and to the left of him, he was startled by something bright reflecting off his plane. At first he thought he had nearly hit another aircraft but as he looked off in the direction the light had come from, he saw nine "peculiar-looking" aircraft flying rapidly in formation toward Mt. Rainier.

    As these strange, tailless craft flew between his plane and Mt. Rainier and then off toward distant Mt. Adams, Arnold noted their remarkable speed -- he later calculated that they were moving at around 1,700 mph -- and said he got a pretty good look at their black silhouettes outlined against Rainier's snowy peak. He later described them as saucer-like disks … something the gentlemen of the press glommed on to very quickly.

    At the time, Arnold said, the appearance of these flying saucers didn't particularly alarm him, because he assumed they were some kind of experimental military aircraft. If they were, nobody in the War Department (soon to be merged into the Department of Defense) was saying.

    In fact, the official Army Air Corps position was that Arnold had either seen a mirage or was hallucinating. He insisted he was perfectly alert and lucid, adding that he was not a publicity hound, either. He also invited both the Army and the FBI to investigate. The Army sent a couple of officers out to talk with Arnold. Even though they concluded that "a man of [his] character and apparent integrity" almost certainly saw what he claimed to have seen, the Army's initial verdict remained unchanged. - wired

    He was right, they were military experimental jet aircraft, the great grandfathers of today's stealth craft.

    Tiny Shetland island declares independence

    The owner of a tiny island in off Scotland declared its independence from the United Kingdom on Saturday, saying he wanted the territory, population one, to be a crown dependency like the Channel Islands. In a declaration on his Web site, Stuart Hill, who owns the 2.5 acre island of Forvik in the Shetland Islands in the North Sea, said he no longer recognised the authority of the government or the European Union, and cited a centuries-old royal marriage dowry deal as the basis for his claim.

    "Forvik owes no allegiance to any United Kingdom government, central or local, and is not bound by any of its statutes," Hill wrote.

    Hill, 65, has lived in the Shetland Islands on the edge of the Atlantic since 2001, when his boat capsized there during an unsuccessful attempted to circumnavigate Britain. - yahoo

    I love it. Everyone should declare independence from control freaks. If you were your own country, what rules would you make? Give tickets to people who drive slow in the fast lane like they are now doing in Seattle?

    Meditation found to increase brain size

    People who meditate grow bigger brains than those who don't. Researchers at Harvard, Yale, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have found the first evidence that meditation can alter the physical structure of our brains. Brain scans they conducted reveal that experienced meditators boasted increased thickness in parts of the brain that deal with attention and processing sensory input. - full story on physorg

    Hmm. So does that mean certain activities also make your brain shrink? problems sends me here.

    You can always find the new xenophilius blog by going to

    Wordpress has locked my account for reasons as yet undisclosed. So, mark this new blog for now.

    Get some sun: Risk of Dying Linked to Low Vitamin D

    The patients were followed for about eight years. During that time, 737 of them died, including 463 from cardiovascular problems.

    Researchers found that people with the lowest levels of vitamin D in their blood had the highest chances of dying. Although chances of dying due to heart disease rose with decreasing levels of vitamin D, dying from other causes was more likely, too. Patients with little coronary artery disease were still much more likely to die during follow-up if they had low vitamin D levels.

    It's not yet known whether low levels of vitamin D can trigger death from heart disease. Researchers say intervention trials using vitamin D could help establish if there is a casual relationship. ...

    In an article accompanying the research, the researchers report that on average both older and younger people around the world may not be getting enough vitamin D. They speculate that it may be due to air pollution, a lack of outdoor activities, and increased urbanization, with more people staying and working indoors.

    Vitamin D is naturally produced by your body when it is exposed to the sun, although sunscreens interfere with this process. As we age, vitamin D production slows down as well. ...

    Studies have shown that low levels of vitamin D are related to, among other things, heart disease, hypertension, and metabolic syndrome. In this study, researchers speculated that the vitamin may have anti-inflammatory effects that protect heart health.

    The next part caught my attention because I have an auto-immune inflammatory reaction in my eyes which causes them to dry out if I don't take flaxseed oil daily. Perhaps I need more Vitamin D too if it is anti-inflammatory.
    They also believe it may affect how plaque is produced and builds up in the artery walls. The vitamin's anti-inflammatory properties may also be protective against a host of other diseases, including immune disorders and cancer. Adequate levels of vitamin D are also essential for bone health, and low levels are associated with osteoporosis and fractures. - webmd

    I got some sun this weekend and it always feels great. The trick seems to be getting the right amount. Will vitamin supplements help the same as time in the sun?

    Monday, June 23, 2008

    Lightning sparks 800-plus fires in California

    click to enlarge. ap photo

    Firefighters from neighboring states arrived to help Monday after an "unprecedented" lightning storm sparked more than 800 wildfires, from Big Sur to wine country to Humboldt County.

    Thousands of firefighters battled the blazes on the ground and from the air and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said he was alarmed by the number of fires that kept erupting.

    He said he was told late Sunday evening that the state had 520 fires, and he found it "quite shocking" that by morning the number had risen above 700.

    Moments later, a top state fire official standing at Schwarzenegger's side offered a grim update: The figure was actually 842 fires, said Del Walters, assistant regional chief of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. All but a couple were in the northern part of the state.

    "This is an unprecedented lightning storm in California, that it lasted as long as it did, 5,000 to 6,000 lightning strikes," Walters said. "We are finding fires all the time."

    The assistance, mostly firefighting aircraft, arrived Monday from Nevada and Oregon after being requested over the weekend. Schwarzenegger said he had enlisted the help "because you can never prepare for 500 or 700 or 800 fires all at the same time." - yahoo

    I didn't hear about any lighting personally, but a friend of a friend was caught in the lightning storm that triggered these fires. Did anyone else personally see the lightning storm? It must have been spectacular. I'd also like to find a map of where, exactly, these fires are.

    The Not-So-Lost Tribe

    Even in an age when cynical sleuths can hyper-analyze stories for truth and accuracy, the occasional hoax still slips through the cracks. Such was the case with a so-called "lost Amazon tribe."

    A few months ago, mainstream news outlets (including, ahem, Yahoo!) reported that a photographer had found a lost tribe of warriors near the Brazilian-Peruvian border. Photos of the tribe backed up his claim.

    As it turns out, the story is only half true. The men in the photo are members of a tribe, but it certainly ain't "lost." In fact, as the photographer, José Carlos Meirelles, recently explained, authorities have known about this particular tribe since 1910. The photographer and the agency that released the pictures wanted to make it seem like they were members of a lost tribe in order to call attention to the dangers the logging industry may have on the group. - ybuzz

    Much of our species lives in a state of violent denial about who and what we are, as a group. This leads to disturbing hatred and attacks by some individuals toward members of un-contacted tribes. For some persons, finding groups of humans "living naked like animals" triggers their own primitive xenophobic genes. Ironically, those with the most self loathing of their true animal nature act the most like animals.

    McCain Proposes a $300 Million Prize for a Next-Generation Car Battery

    In the 18th century the British offered a £20,000 prize to anyone who figured out how to calculate longitude. More recently, Netflix offered a million dollars for improving movie recommendations on its Web site. Now Senator John McCain is suggesting a new national prize: He said here Monday that if elected president he would offer $300 million to anyone who could build a better car battery.

    The high cost of gasoline — a gallon of regular was selling for $4.65 at a gas station near California State University, Fresno, where Mr. McCain spoke — has made energy policy a big issue in this year’s presidential campaign, and barely a day has passed recently without one of the candidates weighing in with new energy policies, proposals and attacks on opponents.

    Mr. McCain, of Arizona, alienated some environmentalists last week during a speech in Houston when he dropped his opposition to allowing offshore drilling for oil; this week, in a swing through California, he spoke about trying to wean the nation from its dependence on oil. He called for improving the enforcement of fuel economy standards, building more cars that could run on alternative fuels, dropping the tariff on imports of sugar-based ethanol from Brazil and offering big tax credits for nonpolluting cars.

    “I further propose we inspire the ingenuity and resolve of the American people,” Mr. McCain said, “by offering a $300 million prize for the development of a battery package that has the size, capacity, cost and power to leapfrog the commercially available plug-in hybrids or electric cars.”

    He said the winner should deliver power at 30 percent of current costs. “That’s one dollar, one dollar, for every man, woman and child in the U.S. — a small price to pay for helping to break the back of our oil dependency,” he said. - nytimes

    Cool. Obama should just say that he will offer the same prize if elected. I won't vote for McCain because doesn't have the spine to stand up for what is right.  If he did, he would have said no to torture. He should know better.
    The revelations of prisoner abuse at Guantanamo, Bagram, Camp Cropper, Abu Ghraib and the secret CIA sites in eastern Europe shook McCain to his core. He’d been tortured for five years by the Vietnamese four decades ago. One of the things that enabled him to survive the Hanoi Hilton was the knowledge that America, the country he had fought for and loved, would never do the same to any prisoners in its own custody. And yet President Bush – the man he championed – authorized some of the very stress positions against terror suspects that to this day prevent McCain from being able to lift his arms much above his shoulders. - timesonline

    Plus, McCain would run the country like Bush. More fake terror attacks to gain more control.
    Top McCain strategist Charlie Black — the one who lobbies for Iran — dominated this afternoon’s 2-hour news cycle by saying in an interview with Fortune magazine that if we had a terrorist attack right now, “Certainly it would be a big advantage” for John McCain. This line, of course, meant everyone had to feign shock over an accurate political truth, but voiced thus — that if there were a terrorist attack today, Barack Obama would be behind it, potentially hurting his electoral prospects. After a scolding from McCain, Black has come out with an apology. He “deeply regrets” the comments doesn’t recall making... -washpost