Friday, October 30, 2009

Bram Stoker's Dracula - Full 2 hr Movie

Here is a scary movie for Halloween. You do have to log in to watch it and I think there are some commercials.

True Spooky: Terahertz Waves Tear Apart DNA?

... Great things are expected of terahertz waves, the radiation that fills the slot in the electromagnetic spectrum between microwaves and the infrared. Terahertz waves pass through non-conducting materials such as clothes , paper, wood and brick and so cameras sensitive to them can peer inside envelopes, into living rooms and "frisk" people at distance.

The way terahertz waves are absorbed and emitted can also be used to determine the chemical composition of a material. And even though they don't travel far inside the body, there is great hope that the waves can be used to spot tumours near the surface of the skin.

With all that potential, it's no wonder that research on terahertz waves has exploded in the last ten years or so.

But what of the health effects of terahertz waves? At first glance, it's easy to dismiss any notion that they can be damaging. Terahertz photons are not energetic enough to break chemical bonds or ionise atoms or molecules, the chief reasons why higher energy photons such as x-rays and UV rays are so bad for us. But could there be another mechanism at work?

The evidence that terahertz radiation damages biological systems is mixed. "Some studies reported significant genetic damage while others, although similar, showed none," say Boian Alexandrov at the Center for Nonlinear Studies at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico and a few buddies. Now these guys think they know why.

Alexandrov and co have created a model to investigate how THz fields interact with double-stranded DNA and what they've found is remarkable. They say that although the forces generated are tiny, resonant effects allow THz waves to unzip double-stranded DNA, creating bubbles in the double strand that could significantly interfere with processes such as gene expression and DNA replication. That's a jaw dropping conclusion.

And it also explains why the evidence has been so hard to garner. Ordinary resonant effects are not powerful enough to do do this kind of damage but nonlinear resonances can. These nonlinear instabilities are much less likely to form which explains why the character of THz genotoxic

effects are probabilistic rather than deterministic, say the team.

This should set the cat among the pigeons. Of course, terahertz waves are a natural part of environment, just like visible and infrared light. But a new generation of cameras are set to appear that not only record terahertz waves but also bombard us with them. And if our exposure is set to increase, the question that urgently needs answering is what level of terahertz exposure is safe.

Ref: DNA Breathing Dynamics in the Presence of a Terahertz Field

via Technology Review: Blogs: arXiv blog: How Terahertz Waves Tear Apart DNA.

True Spooky: Mercury is good for you.

Other than the skin rashes and dermatitis; mood swings; memory loss; mental disturbances; and muscle weakness, that is...

The True Spooky: Untold details of 9/11,_Dr._Jim/2008-2009/Art/Dees_Art_Cheney_card_.jpgHalloween Scare:

The (hopefully wrong) impression a person could get from watching a couple of YouTube videos (below), from seemingly different sources, is that there were art students (spies) with tons of bombs and full access to the WTC living in it (for months?) before the attacks of 9/11.

Scary stuff. They had tons of boxes, supposedly with bombs in them.  Also, art students in white vans, according to real news sources, were arrested by the FBI on 9/11.  According to the tape of police on the day of the attack, they  exploded one van and they were arrested with another van full of explosives.

Those in custody failed polygraph tests and, although the story started to be told by Fox News, we never heard anything else about this or the remote controlled planes mentioned on police radio...

because the evidence is still classified.

Gulp. What could be more spooky?

No one has posted any comments debunking these claims yet... Anyone from Popular Mechanics care to comment?

Are you getting what you signed up for from Comcast?

Yesterday I was given a low price of $34/mo for the 16MB Comcast "Blast Package" for 9 months, then $52/mo after that... by a rep at a Comcast  service center.  I wrote it down and confirmed what I was getting as I was standing at the counter. Today they hooked it up. I had 11 MB.

I called Comcast to figure out what was wrong, and my speed cut back as I was talking to the rep to 6 MB/sec.  The rep claimed not to have done anything, but for a good 10 minutes before I called I was getting 11 to 12 MB download speeds, after calling, I had only 5 MB. After I hung up, I was getting only 3 to 5 MB/sec.  I thought perhaps my cell phone was causing interference slowing down my internet connection...

Keep in mind that these tests vary over time depending on network traffic to the particular server you are testing against. But the change in speed happened to the same server.

Test your speed here:

The rep on the phone told me I  signed up for the 6 MB/sec package. Bull feathers. I have the paper right in front of me signed by "BBI" and it says 16MB. How was I getting 11 MB/sec with a 6MB/sec package?

The phone rep claims that I have to go in in person to get what I signed up for. Yes, I will. And if I don't get what I was promised, I will cancel my service.

Now it is Friday at 5 PM and they are closed. Check your speed.
PS. Happy Halloween! No more posts till Sunday night or so.

PPS. After posting this, my speed went up to 8MB/sec.  What the heck? Are these tests accurate?

BP fined $87m for Texas explosion

BP logoBP has been fined a record $87m (£53m) for failing to correct safety hazards at its Texas City refinery in the US.

An explosion in 2005 at the Texas plant killed 15 people and injured 180 more.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) cited 270 violations at the oil refinery, a US Labor Department official said.

BP said it believed it was in "full compliance" with a 2005 settlement agreement with OSHA and would work with the agency to resolve the issue.

The $87m fine is the largest in OSHA's history.

In 2005, BP paid a $21.3m fine to OSHA and entered into a four-year agreement to repair hazards at the Texas City refinery, which is the third largest in the US.

The latest fine follows a six-month inspection into whether BP had complied with that agreement. ...

The safety violations found "could lead to another catastrophe", US Labor Secretary Hilda Solis said.

"An $87m fine won't restore those lives [lost in the 2005 explosion], but we can't let this happen again. Workplace safety is more than a slogan. It's the law," Ms Solis said.

BP said in a statement: "While we strongly disagree with [OSHA's] conclusions, we will continue to work with the agency to resolve our differences."

The firm will now have 15 days to either agree to pay the fine and take corrective action, or to contest the penalty through a hearing process.

BP was fined $50m by the Department of Justice in 2007 to settle criminal charges stemming from the Texas explosion.

Lawyers for the victims' families said this was not enough.

The company has also paid more than $2bn to settle civil lawsuits and says it has invested more than $1 billion to repair safety problems at Texas City. ...

via BBC NEWS | Business | BP fined $87m for Texas explosion.

3,000 images combine for Milky Way portrait

Image: Milky Way

To combine these images, a simple cutting and pasting job would not suffice. Each photograph is a two-dimensional projection of the celestial sphere. As such, each one contains distortions, in much the same way that flat maps of the round Earth are distorted. In order for the images to fit together seamlessly, those distortions had to be accounted for. To do that, Mellinger used a mathematical model — and hundreds of hours in front of a computer.

Another problem he had to deal with was the differing background light in each photograph.

"Due to artificial light pollution, natural air glow, as well as sunlight scattered by dust in our solar system, it is virtually impossible to take a wide-field astronomical photograph that has a perfectly uniform background," Mellinger said.

To fix this, Mellinger used data from the Pioneer 10 and 11 space probes. The data allowed him to distinguish star light from unwanted background light. He could then edit out the varying background light in each photograph and fit them together so that they wouldn't look patchy.

via 3,000 images combine for Milky Way portrait -

Awesome... It would make a great space ship.

Inventor makes water out of air

Coolest thing I've seen all day.
A French inventor has come up with a windmill that turns thin air into water and says his creation could offer hope to millions of people around the world who do not have enough water.

Air-to-water windmill inventor Marc Parent.

via Inventor makes water out of air | Video |

Living wallpaper that devices can relate to

Enhanced living (Image: Leah Buechley)Who says wallflowers don't grab people's attention? A new type of electronically enhanced wallpaper promises not only eye-pleasing designs, but also the ability to activate lamps and heaters – and even control music systems.

Interactive walls are nothing new, but most rely on expensive sensors and power-hungry projectors to make the wall come alive. Now the Living Wall project, led by Leah Buechley at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Media Lab, offers an alternative by using magnetic and conductive paints to create circuitry in attractive designs.

When combined with cheap temperature, brightness and touch sensors, LEDs and Bluetooth, the wall becomes a control surface able to "talk" to nearby devices. You can touch a flower to turn on a lamp, for example, or set heaters to fire up when the room gets cold.

"Our goal is to make technologies that users can build on and change without needing a lot of technical skill," says Buechley.

To create the wallpaper, the team started with steel foil sandwiched between layers of paper that are coated with magnetic paint – acrylic paint infused with iron particles. Over this base they paint motifs such as flowers and vines using conductive paint, which uses copper particles rather than iron. The designs form circuits to which sensors, lights and other elements can be attached.

"It really is just a sheet of paper, and could be produced with existing printing and construction methods," Buechley says.

via Living wallpaper that devices can relate to - tech - 28 October 2009 - New Scientist.

I had an idea years ago for a wall paper entertainment system. Turn all of your walls and ceiling, possibly even your floor into HD screens and you could do some amazing things. Beginnings of a Holodeck.

‘Impossible’ Device Could Propel Flying Cars, Stealth Missiles

emdrive-spaceplaneThe Emdrive is an electromagnetic drive that would generate thrust from a closed system — “impossible” say some experts.

To critics, it’s flat-out junk science, not even worth thinking about. But its inventor, Roger Shawyer, has doggedly continued his work. As Danger Room reported last year, Chinese scientists claimed to validate his math and were building their own version.

Shawyer gave a presentation earlier this week on the Emdrive’s progress at the CEAS 2009 European Air & Space Conference. It answered few questions, but hinted at how the Emdrive might transform spaceflight — and warfare. If the technology works, that is.

The heart of the Emdrive is a resonant, tapered cavity filled with microwaves. According to Shawyer, a relativistic effect generates a net thrust, an effect confirmed by various Emdrives he has built as demonstrations. Critics say that any thrust from the drive must come from another source. Shawyer is adamant that the measured thrust is not caused by other factors.

While the argument over the drive’s impossibility continues, so does the engineering work. The problem is that nobody wants to talk about it. Even Shawyer gives little away.

Last year, professor Yang Juan of the College of Astronautics at Northwestern Polytechnical University (NPU) in Xi’an was happy to confirm that they were building an Emdrive which would be tested by the end of the year. But following the publication of this news in Danger Room, the situation changed. I was informed that the publicity was very unwelcome, especially any suggestion that there might be a military application. (Yang had previous published a study on the use of plasma as a weapon against low-orbiting satellites. [.pdf]) No further information has been forthcoming, and no Chinese papers have been published on the Emdrive, though Yang has recently published work on (unrelated) microwave plasma thrusters (.pdf).

Shawyer asserts that work is also being carried out in France, Russia and in the United States by a major aerospace company. But he cannot provide details beyond vague promises of “significant progress [that] has been made in both theoretical and experimental work, within these groups.” He also asserts that the British National Space Centre is said to be reviewing the Emdrive. Again, no details.

via ‘Impossible’ Device Could Propel Flying Cars, Stealth Missiles | Danger Room |

'Miracle' fail? Communion wafer becomes "heart tissue".

The Catholic Church in Poland is investigating claims of a miracle after a piece of communion wafer was reported to have been transformed into human heart tissue after falling into water during a mass. In an incident that has generated a storm of publicity in devout Poland, Professor Maria Sobaniec-Lotowaska, of the medical university in Bialystok, has dumbfounded sceptics by saying she considered the material found in the container as heart tissue. But her findings have already been dismissed by other scientists.

"The professor saw what she wanted to see. She is very religious," said Prof Lech Chyczewski, a blood specialist. "In order to rule out any doubts, it would have been necessary to carry out molecular and genetic testing."

Pawel Grzesiowskia, a leading biologist from the National Medical Institute, has attributed the miracle to nothing more than bacteria growing on the small piece of wafer, which fell into a water container during a mass in the eastern village of Sokolka. But this has failed to quell many believing that something miraculous took place. The Catholic Church said already ruled out the possibility of a hoax, and local police have said that there is no evidence of fraud.

via 'Miracle' as communion wafer becomes heart tissue - Telegraph.

Did a qualified scientist examine the sample under a microscope? Section it and look at the type of muscle cells? Who did the DNA tests?  Where are the pictures and test results?  Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof.

See ghosts? There may be a medical reason footsteps, faint figures, the feeling of being watched – these unsettling signs of a ghost are as familiar to us as the goose bumps on the back of our arm (or neck).

But are there physiological explanations for those things that go bump in the night? ...

“ghosts” are often the result of pranks, environmental phenomenon, or physiological conditions such as sleep paralysis and the hypnogogic and hypnopompic hallucinations that accompany it.

Carbon monoxide poisoning – and the hallucinations that can occur with it – is another possible explanation, although Nickell says he’s never encountered this scenario.

... In 1921, the American Journal of Ophthalmology published a case study involving a couple who moved into a house and promptly began to suffer headaches, listlessness and strange auditory and visual hallucinations (footsteps, mysterious figures, strange sensations, etc.). Their symptoms were finally traced to a faulty furnace.

A more recent case in 2005 involved a woman who was found delirious and hyperventilating after seeing a “ghost” while taking a shower; respondents discovered a new gas water heater had been improperly installed, flooding her house with carbon monoxide. ...

via See ghosts? There may be a medical reason - The Body Odd -

Darpa Looks To Send The Internet Into Orbit

There've been satellites orbiting Earth for half a century. But getting information to and from them is still a pain. Which is why Pentagon research arm Darpa is looking to finally hook the orbiting spacecraft up with reliable broadband connections.

It's part of a larger movement to extend terrestrial networks into space, and eventually build an "Interplanetary Internet." In the meantime, we might even get less-than-crappy satellite internet service - if the project works out, of course.

Darpa recently issued a request for information about supplying "persistent broadband ground connectivity for spacecraft in low-Earth orbit." The idea would be to give these satellites a near-constant feed of "100 kbps or higher" two-way connectivity, with end-to-end transmission latency of less than a second.

Unlike most Darpa projects, which are meant to pay off years or decades in the future, this would be a near-term attempt. The agency wants the system "operational in the 2012 to 2013 time frame."

Brian Weeden, a former officer with U.S. Air Force Space Command and a technical adviser with the Secure World Foundation, says Darpa's help would be most welcome.

"The protocol that the internet uses - TCP/IP - wasn't really designed with space in mind. For one, the delay times between nodes can be big. One way to GEO [geosynchronous orbit] is 300 milliseconds at the speed of light, there and back over half a second of built-in network lag before anything else adds to it. That's one reason why getting internet from satellites sucks right now," he tells Danger Room.

"If you go lower than GEO, then of course satellites are always moving and thus not always overhead. It would be a huge help to have a protocol that can automatically store and forward packets when the satellite is present or not," Weeden adds.

For years, Darpa - which backed much of the early research into the internet - has been working with other networking godfathers to put together an "interplanetary internet."

"We're pretty used to it but the internet is actually a pretty revolutionary construct. That you can drop a packet of data on it with only a starting and destination address and it finds its way there without any directions is pretty astonishing," Weeden explains.

"The payloads on most satellites don't work that way - payload operators need to configure specific transponders for specific users and applications. So part of this is trying to bring those internet concepts of automatic routing and network config to satellite constellations, and perhaps to make them extensions of the land-based internet infrastructure."

Darpa's deadline for ideas of how to pull it off is Nov. 5.

via Darpa Looks To Send The Internet Into Orbit.

Secrets hope as Hitler aide dies

Adolf Hitler in 1941The memoirs of one of Adolf Hitler's closest aides could shed new light on the Nazi leader's personal involvement in the Holocaust, media reports say.

Fritz Darges, who has died aged 96, was a member of Hitler's inner circle for four years of the war.

As Hitler's last SS adjutant, he was present for all major conferences, the UK's Daily Telegraph reported.

Historians believe his manuscript could provide key evidence that Hitler ordered the deaths of six million Jews.

If so, it would debunk claims by revisionist historians that the Nazi dictator knew nothing of the Holocaust, the newspaper reported.

In an interview with a German newspaper shortly before his death, Mr Darges told how he met Hitler at the Nuremburg party rally in 1934.

"He had a sympathetic look, he was warm-hearted. I rated him from the off," he is quoted as saying.

"I must, and was, always there for him, at every conference, at every inter-service liaison meeting, at all war conferences. I must say I found him a genius. We all dreamed of a greater German empire. That is why I served him and would do it all again now," he was quoted as saying.

'Sacked over fly'

He also told the German newspaper how he was dismissed by Hitler over a bizarre incident involving a fly.

The fly had been buzzing around the room during a strategy conference in July 1944, irritating the Nazi leader.

Hitler ordered Mr Darges to get rid of it, but the SS adjutant suggested that as it was an "airborne pest" the job should go to Luftwaffe adjutant, Nicolaus von Below.

He said Hitler then flew into a rage and dismissed him, saying: "You're for the eastern front."

via BBC NEWS | Europe | Secrets hope as Hitler aide dies.

My dentist has ordered a Cone Bean CT scan, is it worth the radiation risk? dentist referred me to a lab to get "tomos". In talking to the lab, they would use Cat scans. My  dentist requires this  before he will attempt to straighten my teeth. He says this is the wave of the future. Unfortunately, I've also read recently, and my doctor has acknolweged, that they are learning now that there are non-trivial long term risks for lymphomas from diagnostic x-rays. For this reason, babies are no longer given x-rays unless it is absolutely necessary.

What would my dose for the iCAT scan be? The first thing you will hear if you ask is that the radiation dose is "minimal" or "negligable" or "trivial". Don't accept these answers. You want is actual numbers.

What the lab told me after doing some research is that the effective dose of the 20 second iCat scan is 68 uSV. The exposure is in pulses, 3.5 seconds for the 20 second scan. For comparison, an iCat 10 second scan gives you a 34 uSV dose, daily background radiation gives you an 8 uSV dose, a digital pano x-ray gives you a dose of 4.7 to 14.9 uSV.

Since I am concerned about minimizeing radiation, the lab said they can build the pano and latteral shots from the one 20 second iCat scan. What is the actual cancer risk from getting an extra weeks worth of radiation in 3.5 seconds of pulses?  Currently researching...

Why a space on Google is intentionally blank

.. One new change to the fading homepage is the fact that there’s now a short sentence that appears under the search box when the rest of the page fades out. The line, which reads “This space intentionally left blank” was seemingly added because too many unaware users were confused by the fade effect and frantically started disassembling their computers in search of a solution (at least that’s what they do in my imagination). If the point is to remove all extraneous text, adding that message seems like the equivalent of explaining the punchline of a joke. It ruins the effect.

Besides sowing confusion, it is also creating a minor backlash. People who are seeing the fade-out are apparently not big fans of it either. Some choice tweets:

...- < google is doing strange things right now "this space intentionally left blank" ...odd > (@rpmteacher)

< Am I the only one who sees the "This space left intentionally blank" thing on Google? I think it's creepy. > (@TheJuanReyes)

via Google Makes Fading Homepage A Little Less Confusing For Unaware Searchers.

Xeno’s Absolute Pitch System: Lesson 2, Middle C in the context of other keys

Xeno’s Absolute Pitch System: Lesson 2, Middle C in the context of other keys.

Lesson  two provides your ear with something critical that it has likely never heard until now: how a  C note relates to all of the other keys in western music.

Listen:  Download or play Lesson 2 here.


Just listening to this lesson starts to set up note permanence in your brain, but the process will go even faster if you do this...

- In the first part with the scales, listen closely to the soft middle C note in the background. 

- Attempt to sing a C note right before the C note plays at the end of each small song in each key.

Listening actively this way will turn on the light and you will finally "get" that a "C" is always there, always a "C" no matter what else is going on.

Learn to hear Middle C in relation to music in other keys today.  Don't forget Lesson 1!


Three random tests during the day hours after listening to this allowed me to recall middle C correctly. This ability was gone the next morning, however. I guess we need a lesson 3... ;-)

Too fat to parent?

A severely obese family in Dundee, Scotland, whose newborn child was briefly taken from them by child protective services while the mother was still recovering in the hospital, is now gaining international attention over the issue of whether childhood obesity can be a sign of abuse or neglect.

The couple, whose names aren't being released, has six children and told the British media that child protection authorities warned them they face losing custody if they could not get their older children's weight under control.

According to The Times of London, authorities already removed two children, aged 3 and 4, from the family home, leaving three other children with the couple. Investigations showed that the 40-year-old mother weighed at least 322 pounds before she got pregnant with her sixth child, a toddler with the family weighed 56 pounds and an older sibling weighed at least 224 pounds by age 13.

via Courts Take Obese Family's Newborn, Is It Neglect? - ABC News.

TGen seeks emergency FDA approval of new swine flu test

– The Phoenix-based non-profit Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) announced today that, along with a business collaborator, it will submit a request to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for emergency use of a new test to diagnose the 2009 H1N1 swine flu virus.

Details about TGen's test will be presented Sunday (Nov. 1) at the 47th annual meeting of the Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA), being held today through Sunday (Oct. 29-Nov. 1) in Philadelphia.

The new test, developed at TGen's Pathogen Genomics Division (TGen North) in Flagstaff, can not only detect influenza — as some tests do now — but also can quickly inform doctors about what strain of flu it is and whether or not it may be resistant to oseltamivir (sold under the brand name Tamiflu®; Roche), the primary anti-viral drug on the market to treat H1N1.

As with other influenza strains, H1N1 flu can be expected to show signs of resistance to oseltamivir, and new treatments will be needed to respond to this and future pandemics.

"The problem with influenza is that it is becoming resistant to the antiviral drugs that are out there,'' said Dr. Paul Keim, a Professor of Biology at Northern Arizona University and Director of TGen North. "Because it is a virus, it mutates easily and becomes resistant.''

David Engelthaler, Director of Programs and Operations for TGen North, said this would be the only resistance test available that uses a standard molecular technique that rapidly makes exact copies of specific components of H1N1's genetic material.

"So far, it looks like this assay is very effective with strains in the U.S., and we expect it to have the same accuracy with strains around the world,'' said Engelthaler, the former State Epidemiologist for Arizona and former State of Arizona Biodefense Coordinator.

The assay, or test, for H1N1 flu was developed by TGen and a company called PathoGene LLC, which is a partnership that includes a group of Flagstaff business people as well as Engelthaler and Keim.

via TGen seeks emergency FDA approval of new swine flu test.

How do I fix my problem with name dropping?

A commenter pointed out that I have a real problem with name dropping.  What can be done about name dropping? The first step seems to be to admit that you have a problem.

Hi. I'm Xeno, and I've dropped a lot of names. It is lame. It's all over my posts for years, even on my old site.  I'm fascinated by fame. It started when I found out as a boy that my uncle was part of a world famous rock group.  Then I got into the Beatles and saw that these famous guys were really loved. They were famous and they were loved ... some kind of super love... more loved than I'd ever seen anyone loved. Girls would chase them and scream! In my growing brain, fame became love. Around this time my mother and father split up. My father was a musician who was trying to be famous. I guess my kid brain thought that my parents split up because my dad wasn't getting famous. Partly true due to money issues. More reinforcement that fame = love, unfame = rejection.

Later when I told people about my famous rock star relative, it opened a few doors for me as a musician.  I think so anyway. Perhaps we got in based on real talent or charm, but I always suspected that once you have a "foot in the door" with knowing one famous person, other famous people will know you. From there, you can get addicted. Intermittent reinforcement makes a behavior last even longer.

One of my closest friends had the same problem and we would sort of feed off of each other.  We wanted to know famous people, to be in the "in" crowd. We knew the top musicians in the town. We got passed in free to sold-out shows when other people had to stand in line. We high-fived each other  for having "connections".  We played shows in places the famous people played. We, ourselves, paid special attention to people who knew famous people. We saw the same thing with other people wanting to be around us. When you do get well known, it sucks that you can't tell if people like you for yourself, or because of your fame score.  We had groupies. We had a few stalkers. But it was all a rush.

Looking in the proverbial mirror tonight, I am facing my idol worship. I see foundations of motivations for everything I have done, music, my career, this blog ... so much is based on a what must be an incomplete equation: I don't really believe that fame is love.  Fame is fame. Love is love.

I've had some awareness of my fame seeking psychosis for years.  I stopped playing music live because it felt too ego-driven... (We are often like pendulums. We notice a problem, then swing too far in the other direction.)  ... but I remain ego driven... it seems deeply built in.

Example: By posting a few things interesting each day on a blog for years, I've built up "a following" of web readers. The fact that I've reached over 1.5 million page views gives me a sense of purpose.  Sure, I love helping people and entertaining people, but there is also some motivation for this blog that is prideful.

I'm visualizing dropping out of everything and walking on a beach as a happy unknown bum for the rest of my life. (Again the pendulum swings.)

What is the healthy balance?  Who of you has confronted the name dropping demon and won? Who has fixed a flawed fame fantasy?


Thursday, October 29, 2009

Top 10 things I will NOT miss about the home I lost

  1. The Home Owners Association - Oh my god. These little self appointed governments attract control freaks like flies.  The fees kept going up and it took over a year to fix one simple problem. I even had to pay a "transfer fee" of $100 for someone to look up something on the Internet. You have to pay them to stop paying them! Tonight I am enjoying ripping up every single shred of paper related to my ex-HOA.

  2. Mountains of Paper - Holy living crud. Pest reports, monthly home owners association news letters, bank statements, tax statements, loan papers, estimates, disclosures, US Patriot Act customer Identification...

  3. Working for the Bank - Being a wage slave to a 30 year mortgage is not my idea of living. I felt like an indentured chump the whole time I  shelled out my hard earned earnings.

  4. Annoying Neighbors - Screaming kids, smokers, crazy ladies who bang on my door.

  5. Ghosts - If the marriage doesn't work out, sometimes you have to move on to move on.

  6. The Money Pit - money paid to the bank on a loan with nothing to show for it, taxes, new carpet to replace what a bulimic renter destroyed, HOA dues, home repairs, inspections, paying the city for water, paying the city for sewer and garbage service, paying for ads to find renters, paying the CPA to figure out the tax consequences, paying the lawyers to determine if I can walk away.

  7. Watching your home's value drop - I lost so much money.

  8. Harassing Phone Calls - Are you able to make a payment today?

  9. Wasted Time - Waiting on the phone to talk to the bank -  hours of my life gone, waiting for what never came: an acceptable loan modification, missing so much work to deal with home issues: repairs, renters, the bank, taxes, the HOA, the real estate agent, the title company, the CPAs, the lawyers, the window shoppers pretending to want to buy.

  10. Blow After Blow to My Self Esteem - Knowing I made the worst financial of my life, the uncertainty about what would happen, the slow sinking of the ship, the destruction of my good credit, worry about tax consequences, worry about delinquency notices, worry about rising HOA fees, worry about foreclosure.

Laptops may run at room temperature with new technology“Our research looks at the spin of electrons, tiny particles that naked eyes cannot detect,” the Texas A&M professor explains. “The directions they spin can be used to record and process information.”


To process information, Sinova says, it is necessary to create information, transmit the information and read the information. How these are done is the big question.


“The device we designed injects the electrons with spin pointing in a particular direction according to the information we want to process, and then we transmit the electrons to another place in the device but with the spin still surviving, and finally we are able to measure the spin direction via a voltage that they produce,” Sinova explains.


The biggest challenge to creating a spin-based device is the distance that the spins will survive in a particular direction.


“Transmission is no problem. You can think for comparison that if the old devices could only transmit the information to several hundred feet away, with our device, information can be easily transmitted to hundreds of miles away,” he says. “It is very efficient.”


Talking about its practical application, Sinova is very optimistic. “This new device, as the only all-semiconductor spin-based device for possible information processing, has a lot of real practical potential,” he says. “One huge thing is that it is operational at room temperature, which nobody has been able to achieve until now. It may bring in a new and much more efficient way to process information.”

via Technology May Cool The Laptop - Texas A&M University News & Information.

Jesus fails to show at 2nd coming...

Enjoyed the introduction though. I'm a scientific thinker, but I had fun imagining that some real Jesus person would walk onto the stage and say something.

No matter what you believe, if Jesus Christ really did walk onto a stage after a great introduction like that, what  do you think his first line should be? Something funny?

I was thinking, before even speaking, he should pull a miracle. What would be a good opening miracle?  What would leave no doubt about tricks or mass hallucinations?

Leave a comment with your ideas for opening Jesus lines and miracles.

Strange Exits: Coyotes kill Canadian folk singer

Taylor Mitchell (undated promotional pic) Two coyotes have attacked and killed a 19-year-old folk singer in Nova Scotia, eastern Canada, officials say.

Taylor Mitchell, a promising musician from Toronto, died in hospital after the animals pounced as she hiked alone in Cape Breton Highlands National Park.

Walkers alerted park rangers after hearing her screams. The rangers shot one coyote, but were still searching for the second.

Attacks by coyotes on humans are rare; they usually prey on deer and hares.

Bleeding heavily from multiple bite wounds, the singer-songwriter was airlifted to a Halifax hospital, but died of her injuries on Wednesday morning, authorities said.

'Phenomenally talented'

"Coyotes are normally afraid of humans. This is a very irregular occurrence," Brigdit Leger, a spokeswoman for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, told Reuters news agency.

She said the two coyotes were "extremely aggressive" when authorities arrived at the scene. The small wolf-like animals are found from Central America to the United States and Canada. Ms Mitchell - touted as a rising star in the folk music scene - was nominated for a Canadian Folk Music Award earlier this year in the youth category.

"Words can't begin to express the sadness and tragedy of losing such a sweet, compassionate, vibrant, and phenomenally talented young woman," Lisa Weitz, Ms Mitchell's manager, said in an e-mail to the Associated Press news agency.

"She just turned 19 two months ago, and was so excited about the future."

via BBC NEWS | Americas | Coyotes kill Canadian folk singer.

Enjoy some of Taylor Mitchell's music:

Horrible fate.

Hats off for Taylor Mitchell, an artist who went her own way.

Google opens OneBox music service + free music

Google Music, AFPSearch giant Google has entered the online music market with a new service for finding and buying music online.

OneBox is an alliance with music sites Lala and MySpace-owned iLike.

The US-only service allows people to search using song titles, artists or using snippets of lyrics and will also stream sought-after tracks.

Mark Mulligan, an analyst at research firm Forrester, said the service may offer a compelling alternative to illegal file-sharing.

"Apple can do little about iPod owners downloading from BitTorrent," he said in a blog post. "But Google on the other hand can."

BitTorrent software is widely used to trade music and movies.

"Just imagine if when a consumer searches for a song, alongside all of those Torrent results is a heavily integrated Google music offering."

When users search using OneBox a pop-up widget powered by iLike or Lala offers to play the entire song.

A MySpace box allows people to buy MP3s of the tracks and also highlights music videos and other information, such as upcoming concerts by the artists.

According to Google, the words "music" and "lyrics" are among the top 10 search terms of all time.

via BBC NEWS | Technology | Google opens OneBox music service.

My music is free (left and there is a lot of other free music out there.  Try iRATE if you like hearing new music every day.

US jails man for sleeping ... and bad thoughts ... evil thoughts...

Ali al-Marri, file imageAn al-Qaeda sleeper agent has been jailed in the US for plotting to provide material support for terrorism.

Ali al-Marri was held two months after the 9/11 attacks. He admitted having regular contact with Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the alleged mastermind.

Al-Marri, a dual Saudi-Qatari national, pleaded guilty in May, having spent about six years in US custody. Jailing him for eight years, the judge said he considered it likely al-Marri would attack the US if he could.

US District Judge Michael Mihm said he did not believe al-Marri's contrition. However, he did not give him the maximum of 15 years in prison, saying he deserved credit for enduring harsh treatment while in custody.

Tearful court appearance

Defence lawyers said al-Marri spent time in isolation, had suffered sensory deprivation and threats to harm his family. Al-Marri wept in court on Thursday as he said he was sorry he had ever helped al-Qaeda. He admitted that he trained in al-Qaeda camps and stayed in al-Qaeda safe houses in Pakistan between 1998 and 2001. He entered the US on 10 September 2001 on a student visa.

While studying, he carried out research into poisons and the location of US dams, waterways and tunnels, prosecutors said. He was arrested in December 2001 and charged with credit card fraud. In 2003 the Bush administration labelled him an "enemy combatant" and held him in a military base in South Carolina. In December 2008 the Supreme Court agreed to review the legality of his detention.

But two months later, after President Barack Obama took office, he was formally charged by a federal court with supporting a foreign terror group.

via BBC NEWS | Americas | US jails al-Qaeda sleeper agent.

Jailing someone who has not harmed another person, based on what you think they might do is itself a crime, and one of extreme arrogance. No judge has the power to read minds. This godlike proclamation of evil intent denies this "sleeper agent" the human right to turn it around and make a good choice. He could use his training to help the US by telling us what to watch out for, for example. I was hoping that fear would stop running the country when Bush left.

Somali man aged 112 marries girl of 17 is old enough to be her great-great-grandfather. But Ahmed Muhamed Dhore, a Somalian who claims he is 112 years old, said he had realised a "dream" by marrying a 17-year-old bride.

Dhore – who says he was born in 1897, the year that Queen Victoria celebrated her diamond jubilee – already has 13 children by five wives, but said he would like more with his newest, Safiya Abdulle.

Hundreds of people attended the extraordinary ceremony this week in Guriceel, in the region of Galguduud. "Today God helped me realise my dream," Dore said. He and his new wife, who is almost a century his junior, are from the same village in Somalia, he said, adding that he had waited for her to grow up to propose. He says his children and two other wives agreed to the marriage, as did Abdulle's parents.

"I didn't force her, but used my experience to convince her of my love, and then we agreed to marry," the groom said. The bride's family said she was "happy with her new husband". Somali adolescent girls are often married off to older men.

Dhore has 114 children and grandchildren. His oldest son is 80 and three of his wives have died. This was his first marriage for three quarters of a century.

via Somali man aged 112 marries girl of 17 | World news | The Guardian.

Well, as long as it was God who helped him with this whole 17 year old girl thing, then we must conclude that God is really okay with it and any earthly human things like "laws" or "common sense" should not enter into our thinking.

No bail for U.S. scientist accused of spying

Image: Stewart NozetteA judge on Thursday ordered a U.S. space exploration scientist accused of attempted espionage to stay behind bars, after prosecutors said he claimed to have passed secrets to Israel.

Magistrate Judge Deborah Robinson decided there was too much of a flight risk for Stewart Nozette, 52, to be free while he awaits trial.

Nozette pleaded not guilty to charges of attempted espionage. He is accused of seeking $2 million for selling secrets to an undercover FBI agent posing as an Israeli intelligence officer. The Justice Department could seek the death penalty.

At the hearing, prosecutor Anthony Asuncion said Nozette told the agent he had passed classified information to Israel in the past. Nozette is not charged with doing so.

Nozette was arrested last week. In court papers filed ahead of Thursday's detention hearing, prosecutors say Nozette asked for $2 million to share what he knew about top-secret government programs.

They also say he kept a stash of gold Krugerrand coins worth tens of thousands of dollars in a safe deposit box in California — more evidence, they say, of his risk of flight.

via No bail for U.S. scientist accused of spying - Security-

Ha ha ha ..ha ha .. can't stop laughing ha ha ha ... we actually gave him some really bad intelligence in the past. Look at that so called "moon"! HA HA HA HA ... okay, you probably don't know why I'm laughing so hard... See, I happen to know the real shape of the moon, and ... ha HA HA HA ... that is not it! ... but now Israel will think that this is the real shape of the moon ... ha ha ha ha ha ha... look at how serious those guys look! Our guys are so great at this counter intelligence stuff.  ;-) Brilliant.

Did algae kill the dinosaurs?

Image: blue-green algae... In the past 540 million years, five massive extinctions are thought to have killed off, in each case, some 50 percent to 90 percent of animal species. A new study suggests that toxins from algae played a major role in all five extinctions, including the most recent and most well-known — the death of the dinosaurs 65 million years ago. The idea was presented at the annual Geological Society of America meeting Oct. 19. ...

Toxic algae
Algae are simple organisms that get their energy from the sun and lack many features found in plants, such as roots and leaves. Some algae species produce toxins that are harmful to other aquatic organisms and even us. For instance, one group of algae called dinoflagellates can release neurotoxins that act on nerve cells.

When nutrients abound, the algae and other primitive microbes can grow rapidly and can aggregate to form dense populations, known as algae blooms. Such outbreaks of toxic algae can have devastating effects on ecosystems, killing fish, birds, marine mammals and even people.

The most problematic group of toxin-producers are cyanobacteria, commonly known as blue-green algae. While cyanobacteria are not technically algae — they were reclassified from algae to bacteria — they can produce their own energy from the sun, and some researchers still place them in the algae group. Also, their "blooms," which cover the water with a blue-green film, are referred to as algal blooms.

A robot that jumps

Although, at this time, there is not much danger that he will jump over you.

Growing cartilage from stem cells

X-ray of kneeDamaged knee joints might one day be repaired with cartilage grown from stem cells in a laboratory, based on research by Professor Kyriacos Athanasiou, chair of the Department of Biomedical Engineering, and his colleagues.

Using adult stem cells from bone marrow and skin as well as human embryonic stem cells, Athanasiou and his group have already grown cartilage tissue in the lab. Now they are experimenting with various chemical and mechanical stimuli to improve its properties.

Cartilage is one of the very rare tissues that lack the ability to heal themselves. When damaged by injury or osteoarthritis, the effects can be long-lasting and devastating.

“If I cut a tiny line on articular cartilage (the cartilage that covers the surfaces of bones at joints), it will never be erased,” Athanasiou said. “It’s like writing on the moon. If I go back to look at it a year later, it will look exactly the same.”

Work that Athanasiou’s group began in the early 1990s at Rice University has resulted in the only Food and Drug Administration-approved products for treatment of small lesions on articular cartilage. (In total, Athanaisou’s patents have resulted in 15 FDA-approved products.)

“This will be live, biological cartilage that will not only fill defects, but will potentially be able to resurface the entire surface of joints that have been destroyed by osteoarthritis,” Athanasiou said. Now, joint replacements using metal and plastic prosthetics are the only recourse for the one in five adults who will suffer major joint damage from osteoarthritis.

via UC Davis News & Information :: Growing cartilage from stem cells.

Bad drivers? Blame their genes

Good drivers can make the road a friendly place for their fellow drivers and milk great gas mileage (or equally great performance) out of their vehicles.  However, for every good driver on the road, there's plenty of bad ones.  According to studies, cell phones play a role in the poor overall quality of driving that leads to many accidents across America.  However, a new study shows the problem may be more complex, pointing to a link between genes and bad driving.

Researchers at University of California Irvine found that people with a specific gene variant performed 20 percent worse on a driving test than those without.  The results were confirmed by a subsequent test.  The scary part?  According to expert estimates, 30 percent of Americans have this gene.

Dr. Steven Cramer, neurology associate professor and senior author of the study states, "These people make more errors from the get-go, and they forget more of what they learned after time away."

The neuroscientists discovered a potential cause for the bad behavior.  When active, people with the specific variant get less functioanlity from a protein called brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) than people with the wild type ("normal") version of the gene.  This is not a good thing, as BDNF helps support communication between brain cells and keep them performing at their peak.  Typically it's secreted in active parts of the brain -- but those with the variant just don't get as much. - dt

People with a particular gene variant performed more than 20 percent worse on a driving test than people without it – and a follow-up test a few days later yielded similar results. About 30 percent of Americans have the variant.

"These people make more errors from the get-go, and they forget more of what they learned after time away," said Dr. Steven Cramer, neurology associate professor and senior author of the study published recently in the journal Cerebral Cortex.

This gene variant limits the availability of a protein called brain-derived neurotrophic factor during activity. BDNF keeps memory strong by supporting communication among brain cells and keeping them functioning optimally. When a person is engaged in a particular task, BDNF is secreted in the brain area connected with that activity to help the body respond.

Previous studies have shown that in people with the variant, a smaller portion of the brain is stimulated when doing a task than in those with a normal BDNF gene. People with the variant also don't recover as well after a stroke. Given these differences, the UCI scientists wondered: Could the variant affect an activity such as driving? - tc

My ex used to joke about bad Asian women drivers ... I wonder ... how does this play out across genders, ethnic and other groups?
Low serum BDNF has been reported in women with depression or eating disorders such as
anorexia nervosa, particularly when compared with obese patients, but also when women with anorexia nervosa or bulimia nervosa are compared with normal- weight individuals. - link

One thing is for sure, I'm going to feel much less comfortable now driving around  skinny nervous women.  And since these disorders are triggered by childhood abuse, I wonder if we can tie in the high number of road deaths in America as a consequence of molestation and neglect? Ripple effect.

Russian road roulette article was sent to you from, who uses Reuters Mobile Site to get news and information on the go.

Russian road roulette?

Thursday, Oct 29, 2009 4:15PM UTC

SOFIA (Reuters) - Bulgarian prosecutors are investigating a new gambling game in which drivers defy death by speeding through red lights for bets of up to 5,000 euros ($7,400), the chief prosecutor's office said Thursday.

Known as 'Russian road roulette', the driver must jump red lights at busy intersections at high speed and not crash into any other cars or pedestrians, according to local media reports. Onlookers also gamble on the result.

Prosecutors launched their investigation after media reported the new game had been held at night at busy crossroads in Sofia since the summer.

In June, two people died after a motorcyclist crashed into an onlooker at a similar rally on Sofia's ring road.

"Every time we receive a signal for such an unregulated race, we send patrols," Commissioner Vanio Stoevski, head of the Sofia Road Police, told Reuters. Since the deaths in June, police have monitored roads where such races are typically held.

Local media report that participants in the 'Russian road roulette' are informed via text messages of the venue for that particular night -- depending on the presence of police.

(Reporting by Irina Ivanova; editing by Erik Kirschbaum)

This should be handled in the same way as people who hire a hit man. In this case the person or persons to be killed is anonymous, but it amounts to the same thing.

Swine flu cases rise by 50% in a week

[UK] Government estimate of 78,000 newly infected up from 53,000 the week before, but figures still below virus's summer peak

The number of new swine flu cases has risen by almost 50% in the past week, government figures showed today, although the level remains below that seen at the peak of the virus's spread in the summer.

There were an estimated 78,000 new cases of swine flu in England in the past week, up from 53,000 in the week before – which in turn was double the number in the previous week, meaning the rate of increase has declined.

The weekly tally is also still below the 100,000 weekly cases at the peak of swine flu in July.

There are currently 751 people in hospital with the virus, of whom 157 are in intensive care. The number of swine flu deaths in England now stands at 97.

While the number of cases in the summer outbreak declined steeply, there was a widespread presumption that the H1N1 virus would again spread rapidly with the onset of winter, when seasonal flu outbreaks tend to peak. ...

via Swine flu cases rise by 50% in a week | World news |

Fighting a Sore Throat with Indoor Plants and a Cigarette Smoke Remover

I've had a sore throat and swollen glands for about two weeks now. I've had tests for strep and mono (negative) and also my immune system's RH factors, white blood cell counts, are normal. The doctor says I have a virus and some viruses just take your body a few weeks to fight. I had a similar virus in January (the whole month!) As a normally healthy person, this is very frustrating!

Tips for sore throat:

  1. Change toothbrush

  2. wash bedding including pillow cases

  3. replace pillows

  4. suck on zinc lozenges

  5. floss three times a day

  6. use a tongue scraper/cleaner

  7. gargle with salt water

  8. sleep with wet washcloth over nose and mouth

  9. get dental exam (is decay in a tooth making you sick?)

  10. get away from cigarette smoke

  11. clean the freeway pollution from inside your home

  12. get rid of mold (if you can see it or smell it)

I moved to get away from a smoking neighbor, but the apartment where I'm living now allows smokers and, just my luck, several live next door to me. Smoke comes through the vents and under my front door. They smoke outside my window. I can smell it inside my apartment each time I come home right, when I open my apartment door. I think this is making me sick. See:

Here is another tip:
Get a 20 inch box fan. The older models are better than new models in the stores because the old models are quieter and move less air. The newer models sound like jet planes and move so much air it can be irritating. THe good part, there are millions of the old box fans in garages and basements all over the country.

Buy the Allergen Filtrete 1000 furnace filter by 3M in the red and white wrapper. Use masking tape, or duct tape to tape the filter sealing the edge completely to the back of the fan, so the air is pulled thru the filter. If you attach the filter to the front of the fan very little air will pass through, and it puts a bad load on the motor. Run the fan on low 24 hrs.

I have tested every model of filter. Only the Filtrete 1000 works. If you have cigarette smoke the 1000 rapidly turns grey, then coal black. Other Filtrete filters including the 700 model, or the 1200 utlra model stay white no matter how long you use them. The 1200 is supposed to be the top of the line, but it does not have the affinity for smoke particles like the 1000. I can buy the 1000 at Target, or Sears Home Hardware. Walmarts does not carry the 1000. You can also get them on the net cheaper in quantity. ... 3M says the Filtrete lasts about 3 months. For us, a filter lasted about 4 weeks before it was black as coal and clogged with a mass of dust. You could tell it was spent because you would start to notice the cigarette scent again, and the fan would become louder due to the load. Putting in a new filter made a fast improvement in the smell. ... (Lasko Model 3900) is designed to handle the load a filter puts on a fan motor. - thathomesite

Worth a try. I'm going to get this fan and this filter.

I also now live near a freeway. After a good night's sleep in my new place, my throat is actually worse! Since moving again is not an option, I'm going to attempt to health-ify my environment.

I'll start today by sealing off all the vents with plastic sheeting and duct tape (I'd rather be cold than sick.) See cautions about airflow, however...  My plan is to have a fan that brings  air in though a good filter on one side of the apartment and vent it out the other. Is there ANY kind of filter can stop particulate matter, Trichloroethylene, Benzene, and Formaldehyde and the other nasty things in cigarette smoke? Here is a list of cancer causing agents and poisons from a cigarette:

After that, house plants to remove the Trichloroethylene, Benzene, and Formaldehyde in my air from the freeway.
The toxic gas formaldehyde is contained in building materials including carpeting, curtains, plywood, and adhesives. As it is emitted from these sources, it deteriorates the air quality, which can lead to "multiple chemical sensitivity" and "sick building syndrome", medical conditions with symptoms such as allergies, asthma, and headaches. The prevalence of formaldehyde and other volatile organic compounds VOC is greater in new construction.

Researchers are studying the ability of plants to reduce formaldehyde levels in the air. A study led by Kwang Jin Kim of Korea's National Horticultural Research Institute compared the absorption rate of two types of houseplants. The results of the experiment on Weeping Fig (Ficus benjamina) and Fatsia japonica, an evergreen shrub, were published in the Journal of American Society for Horticultural Science.

During the study, equal amounts of formaldehyde were pumped into containers holding each type of plant in three configurations: whole, roots-only with the leafy portion cut off, and aerial-only, with the below-ground portion sealed off, leaving the stem and leaves exposed.

The results showed the combined total of aerial-only and roots-only portions was similar to the amount removed by whole plants. Complete plants removed approximately 80% of the formaldehyde within 4 hours.

... Researchers consider microorganisms living among the soil and root system to be a major contributor to the reduction. Japonica were planted in larger pots than the ficus, which may account for the lower night reduction rate of the latter. More knowledge of the contributions of microorganisms is cited by the study to be important in further understanding the air purifying potential of plants.

via Indoor Plants Can Reduce Formaldehyde Levels.

See my previous post on this topic. This summary of a NASA study is from colostate:
Pollutant                         Source                     Plants that Remove Pollutant

BenzeneInks, oils, paints, plastics,rubber, dyes, detergents,gasoline, pharmaceutical,tobacco smoke, synthetic fibersEnglish Ivy, Dracaena marginata, Janet Craig, Warneckei, Chrysanthemum, Gerbera Daisy, Peace lily
FormaldehydeFoam insulation, plywood, pressed-wood products, grocery bags, waxed paper, fire retardants, adhesive binders in floor coverings, cigarette smoke, natural gasAzalea, Philodendron, Spider plant, Golden Pothos, Bamboo palm, Corn plant, Chrysanthemum, Mother-in-law's tongue
TrichloroethylenePrimarily used in the metal degreasing and dry cleaning industries; also in printing inks, paints, lacquers, varnishes, adhesivesGerbera Daisy, Chrysanthemum, Peace lily, Warneckei, Dracaena marginata

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Autistic artist Stephen Wiltshire is drawing New York City from memory

'Everything is like a TV show' - autistic U.K. artist Stephen Wiltshire is sketching a 20-foot panorama of the city's skyline from memory after he took at helicopter ride.After just 20 minutes in a helicopter above the Manhattan skyline, autistic artist Stephen Wiltshire was ready to re-create a city that took hundreds of years to build.

Wiltshire is drawing a 20-foot panoramic view of New York - all from memory.

The 35-year-old artist's autistic disorder affects his ability to interact with other people.

It has also given him a photographic memory - and a gift for putting it on paper.

"I just looked without drawing," said Wiltshire as he explained how he is able to draw the skyline without referring back to a photograph of the city.

"Everything is like a TV show," he said. "I have never drawn from a sketchbook."

Wiltshire, a Londoner, is creating the image at the Pratt Institute of Art in Brooklyn, where the public can watch him work through Friday afternoon. New York is the last in a series of eight panoramas of major cities across the world, including Dubai and Tokyo.

"This city is very beautiful," he said, as he drew the Big Apple from the Bronx to Staten Island.

"It has got skyscrapers ...and the American people."

Wiltshire began drawing as a child, when his teachers used art to help him learn.

"Stephen used his drawings to communicate with the world," said his sister, Annette Wiltshire, 37. "He used his drawings to learn the alphabet."

He has his own gallery in London, which his sister helps him run.

"He's good at picking up on things the human eye normally wouldn't," she said. New Yorkers watched yesterday as Wiltshire furiously moved his pen across the paper.

"I could watch him all day," said Karen Smith, 51, of Brooklyn, who works at the Pratt Institute.

"It almost makes me cry," said her co-worker, Emma Legge, 39.

via Autistic artist Stephen Wiltshire is drawing New York City from memory.

Amazing! What difference allows his visual memory to store and recall so much compared to the rest of us?

Thirst for oil poses threat to US national security, says military adviser's thirst for oil is a gathering threat to its national security – and the risk will grow further as the world's population touches 7 billion, a military adviser to the Pentagon told the Senate today.

In a second day of debate on energy, Democratic senators today pivoted from the economy to national security to try to make the case for a climate change bill.

The threat to Americans' security ranged from the here and now – with troops in Afghanistan and Iraq tied down by their reliance on gas-guzzling equipment – to years into the future when extreme temperatures and rising sea levels could lead to a widespread social breakdown.

"We have never before on this planet had close to 7 billion people which we will have in 2011. We have never had the unprecedented level of per capita energy use multiplied by that 7 billion people," Dennis McGinn, a member of the Military Advisory Board, composed of senior retired admirals and generals, told the Senate. "We have a whole host of indicators, warnings and trends that tells us climate change is bad for national security."

He said the country would face risks on multiple fronts. "America's current energy posture constitutes a serious and urgent threat to national security – militarily, diplomatically and economically."

The Pentagon is already beginning to focus more acutely on the threat posed by climate change.

Military research labs are exploring new energy-saving devices, and other ways of conserving fuel in the battlefield. The conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq have made planners acutely conscious that fuel dependence is putting US forces at risk. The US marines corps recently ordered an energy audit of its operations in Afghanistan, in a bid to reduce enormous fuel costs.

"We are tied down by fuel. Fuel is a real day-today concern for our forces in the field who are tethered to that fossil fuel tail," said Kathleen Hicks, the deputy undersecretary of defence for strategy.

The US military is beginning to focus more intensely on the threat posed by climate change.

via Thirst for oil poses threat to US national security, says military adviser | Environment |

It is time to reward people financially for saving energy and for not having kids.

Pain Of Torture Can Make Innocent Seem Guilty rationale behind torture is that pain will make the guilty confess, but a new study by researchers at Harvard University finds that the pain of torture can make even the innocent seem guilty.

Participants in the study met a woman suspected of cheating to win money. The woman was then "tortured" by having her hand immersed in ice water while study participants listened to the session over an intercom. She never confessed to anything, but the more she suffered during the torture, the guiltier she was perceived to be. ...

"Our research suggests that torture may not uncover guilt so much as lead to its perception," says Gray.

via Pain Of Torture Can Make Innocent Seem Guilty.

Torture does not save lives. It creates false testimonies and false guilt. Didn't we learn that lesson during the Dark Ages? Didn't we learn that lesson during the Salem witch trials? Let the people in Gitmo stand trail for their crimes based on the evidence, or let them go so they can try to seek a little peace in their forever damaged minds during the amount of time they may have remaining on earth.

Scientists: curry compound kills cancer cells

keema-curry.jpg image by Stellare_photoA molecule found in a curry ingredient can kill esophageal cancer cells in the laboratory, suggesting it might be developed as an anti-cancer treatment, scientists said on Wednesday.

Researchers at the Cork Cancer Research Center in Ireland treated esophageal cancer cells with curcumin -- a chemical found in the spice turmeric, which gives curries a distinctive yellow color -- and found it started to kill cancer cells within 24 hours.

The cells also began to digest themselves, they said in a study published in the British Journal of Cancer.

Previous scientific studies have suggested curcumin can suppress tumors and that people who eat lots of curry may be less prone to the disease, although curcumin loses its anti-cancer attributes quickly when ingested.

But Sharon McKenna, lead author of the Irish study, said her study suggested a potential for scientists to develop curcumin as an anti-cancer drug to treat esophageal cancer.

Cancers of the esophagus kill more than 500,000 people across the world each year. The tumors are especially deadly, with five-year survival rates of just 12 to 31 percent.

McKenna said the study showed curcumin caused the cancer cells to die "using an unexpected system of cell messages."

Normally, faulty cells die by committing programed suicide, or apoptosis, which occurs when proteins called caspases are 'switched on' in cells, the researchers said.

But these cells showed no evidence of suicide, and the addition of a molecule that inhibits caspases and stops this "switch being flicked' made no difference to the number of cells that died, suggesting curcumin attacked the cancer cells using an alternative cell signaling system.

U.S. researchers said in 2007 they had found curcumin may help stimulate immune system cells in the Alzheimer's disease.

via NewsDaily: Scientists say curry compound kills cancer cells.

Orangutans and palm oil: What's the connection?

Palm oil is in one in four food products that we buy. Most of the global supply comes from Indonesia and Malaysia – the only place where orang-utans live. It’s a tragic fact that every year an estimated 1,000 Orang-utans die because of palm oil..

You don't know if palm oil is in your food because it's not labelled properly which means you don't have the right to choose food products that won't destroy Orang-utan habitat. - Willie Smits' powerful TEDTalk, he describes his work to re-grow the rainforest in Indonesia -- a triple-bottom-line effort that can benefit the local economy, the local orangutans and the green heart of the forest. The TED Blog asked Smits' associate Richard Zimmerman, the director of Orangutan Outreach, to expand on the orangutan story:

In his TEDTalk, Willie briefly discussed the crisis facing orangutans in the wild as the Indonesian rainforest is cut down and converted into palm oil plantations. I would like to further elaborate on this, so that people might get a better grasp of what we're dealing with in our quest to save the orangutans.

Orangutans are sentient beings who share approximately 97.8% of our DNA and express a range of emotions that is just as wide as our own. The forests of Borneo and Sumatra are the only two places on Earth where these gentle, intelligent creatures live. The cultivation of palm oil over the last decade has directly led to the slaughter of thousands of individuals as the industry has expanded into previously undisturbed areas of old-growth rainforest. The UNEP estimates that an area of Indonesian rainforest the size of six football fields is cut down every minute of every day. Read that sentence again.

The palm oil and timber industries are guilty of truly horrific ecological atrocities, one of which is the systematic genocide of orangutans. When the forest is cleared, adult orangutans are generally shot on sight. In the absence of bullets they are beaten, burned, tortured, mutilated and often eaten as bushmeat. Babies are literally torn off their dying mothers so that they can be sold on the black market as illegal pets to wealthy families, who see them as status symbols of their own power and prestige. This is not hyperbole, mind you. It has been documented time and time again.

Some of the luckier baby orangutans are confiscated and brought to sanctuaries such as Samboja Lestari, as Willie mentioned, or the Nyaru Menteng Orangutan Rescue Center, which is now home to nearly 700 orphaned and displaced orangutans in Central Kalimantan (Indonesian Borneo). Many of these orangutans are only weeks old when they arrive, and all of them are psychologically traumatized and desperate for their mothers -- who are no longer alive. And remember, these are the fortunate ones. For every one we rescue, at least six others are estimated to have been killed, along with their mothers.

via TED Blog: Orangutans and palm oil: What's the connection?.