Friday, December 10, 2010 Restored!

Last night at about 11:20 PM went completely off line and a message appeared telling me and everyone else that the blog was suspended due to a violation of the terms of service or advertising policy.

This was just a mistake by WordPress and the blog is now restored. I remained fairly calm and within four hours activated my back up blog right here at

Unfortunately, I lost a night’s sleep scrambling to save my posts.

Blog disaster drill results: The blog currently has 9,437 Posts and 6,997 Comments in 42 categories.  Only 1,141 posts could be imported to from wordpress in 4 hours. Thousands of posts and comments could not be rescued due to conversion and file size errors.

Lessons learned:
1) Exporting the entire blog results in a file far larger than than 15 MB limit that can be imported by WordPress into a new blog.

2) Imports from WordPress to Blogspot are really lacking. Only 1 MB at a time can be imported, using a site that converts the exported WordPress .xml files to the Blogspot format, and there are many errors that happen during the process.

3) You people are awesome. Thanks for the email of support and extra points to those who found my back up blog right away by going to and following the link there to my new blog.

Sleepily yours,

Where is Xeno? What happened to

I'm over here on instead of for now...

Post a comment if you find me on this new blog!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Wordpress blog shut down... still waiting to find out why.

Never a dull moment. Stay tuned to find out why Wordpress put the smack down on, my strange news blog that was getting between 4,000 and 6,000 hits per day.

Meanwhile. I'll be here on this back up blog.  Getting posts and comments from wordpress to blogger is not easy, but I've got the last few months at least. Years worth still stuck on wordpress.

Cell Towers in Your Area: Find out who owns them and more

Tonight, while trying to figure out why I'm getting so many dropped calls over the past week from AT&T, I found a few interesting web sites.
Now you can know who owns every tower around you and even the frequencies transmitted by that tower.

The first link builds a nice  data sheet for you that you can download and open. CSV stands for Comma Separated Values. In addition to Excel, you can open a CSV file with the free OpenOffice Calc software.

After you have this, many of your questions may be answered... but you may also have new questions, like who are some of the mysterious corporations that own towers around you ... and what are they doing on all of those frequencies?


We Want YOU, Say Hacktivists … but Is It Legal?

Cyberactivism -- call it "hactivism" -- is sweeping the web. But legal experts put a starker label on it: criminal.

To show support for WikiLeaks and its controversial head Julian Assange, an anonymous group calling itself Operation: Payback has disabled numerous websites and targeted others over the past few days. The group offers free software to let anyone help takedown websites they believe are the "enemies" of WikiLeaks, targeting MasterCard, Visa, PayPal, Amazon and others.

But is it legal? Experts told that several international laws ban just this sort of activity.

In the U.K., Laws combating what is called "distributed denial of service," or DDoS, "have been in place since 2006 and could result in you being sent to jail for up to ten years. Similar laws have also been present in Sweden since 2007," wrote Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant for security firm Sophos, in a blog post on his site.

"It's the same story in the USA, where they take a tough line on those who engage in denial-of-service attacks against websites. For instance, last year saw the jailing of a man who launched a DDoS attack against the Scientology website," he added. ...

"In the United States, yes, it would be a breach of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act to intentionally attack a website in the U.S. with the intent of denying service," Wisniewski told

Operation: Payback seems unconcerned with the legality of its actions, comparing the online activism to other acts of civil disobedience in U.S. history.

"During the Civil Rights Movement in the United States in the 1960s access to many businesses were blocked as a peaceful protest against segregation. In their efforts, the protesters of the time managed to make drastic changes to police and governments by refusing to be silenced."

"In the spirit and memory of that movement and many others we will refuse to be silenced. We will protest!" ...

via - We Want YOU, Say Hacktivists … but Is It Legal?.


Wednesday, December 8, 2010

'Diamond exoplanet' idea boosted by telescope find

Artist's impression of Wasp 12bA US-British team of astronomers has discovered the first planet with ultra-high concentrations of carbon.

The researchers say their discovery supports the idea there may be carbon-rich, rocky planets whose terrains are made up of diamonds or graphite.

"You might see land masses and mountains made up of diamonds," the lead researcher Dr Nikku Madhusudhan told BBC News.

The study in Nature journal raises new questions about how planets are formed.

The work has been described as an astonishing astronomical tour de force.

They have detected the thermal radiation (heat) from a planet 1,200 light years away using Nasa's Spitzer Space Telescope.

From this information they have calculated the composition of its atmosphere, according to Dr Marek Kukula of the Royal Greenwich Observatory in London.

"It is absolutely astonishing that these scientists are able to start to tease out the details of what planets around other stars are made of," he said.

"The planet is thousands of times fainter than the star it orbits. So the scientists have to perform an amazing feat of precision measurement to extract anything at all. ...

via BBC News - 'Diamond exoplanet' idea boosted by telescope find.

No reason to doubt that there are diamond planets... but just keep in mind that an entire planet vanished once due to a miscalculation.

Avoid Ocean Spray Cranberry Juice for Urinary Tract Infection

The title of this article was "Cranberry Juice Fails to Prevent Recurrent Urinary Tract Infection: Results From a Randomized Placebo-Controlled Trial", but that is misleading.

Drinking cranberry juice has been recommended to decrease the incidence of urinary tract infections, based on observational studies and a few small clinical trials.  However, a new study published in the January 1 issue of Clinical Infectious Diseases, and now available online, suggests otherwise.

College-aged women who tested positive for having a urinary tract infection were assigned to drink eight ounces of cranberry juice or a placebo twice a day for either six months or until a recurrence of a urinary tract infection, whichever happened first.  Of the participants who suffered a second urinary tract infection, the cranberry juice drinkers had a recurrence rate of almost 20 percent, while those who drank the placebo suffered only a 14 percent recurrence.


via IDsociety

I suspected they used sweetened cranberry juice, so I looked at the methods section of this study:
... Participants were randomly assigned to drink either 8 oz of 27% low-calorie cranberry juice cocktail twice per day or 8 oz of placebo juice twice per day for the test period of 6 months. Study juices were packaged and distributed by Fisher BioServices. Cranberry juice was provided by Ocean Spray Cranberries and was formulated under contract with NCCAM to fulfill research requirements of RFA.AT-03-004 grantees. A Drug Master File for this research grade—low-calorie juice cocktail (LCJC)—is on file with the United States Food and Drug Administration. Research juice was formulated to be similar to the commercially available Ocean Spray LCJC and was sweetened with Splenda (sucralose), exactly as is the retail juice. Commercially grown cranberries from Vaccinum macrocarpon Aiton were used for the juice production. Batches of LCJC were standardized for proanthocyanidin content. Proanthocyanidin is the cranberry juice component that is thought to produce the antiadhering activity against E. coli [20]. Each dose consisted of one 8-oz bottle (240 mL) containing a mean proanthocyanidin concentration of 112 mg per dose (range, 83–136 mg; standard deviation, ±14.1 mg), as measured by Fisher Bioservices by the DMAC(N,N-dimethyacetamicle) method. The placebo juice was formulated by Ocean Spray to imitate the flavor (sugar and acidity) and color of the cranberry beverage, without any cranberry content. In addition to other food and pharmaceutical-grade substances, both juices contained ascorbic acid in their formulations. Fisher Bioservices used identical bottles for the cranberry juice and the placebo beverage. All study juice (cranberry and placebo) was stored under refrigerated conditions (2–8oC) until delivery to study participants.

Patients were instructed to refrain from cranberry- or blueberry-containing foods during the study period. Study juice was delivered to participant's home every 1–2 weeks starting on the day of enrollment in order to promote compliance. ...

via Cranberry Juice Fails to Prevent Recurrent Urinary Tract Infection: Results From a Randomized Placebo-Controlled Trial — Clin Infect Dis.

According to foodInsight, sucralose appears in over 4,000 products and bacteria can't eat it, so it doesn't produce tooth decay. However, another site says bacteria can feed on sucralose:
Splenda, aka sucralose, is a sucrose-like molecule. Basically, they have added Chlorine atoms to sucrose to make it indigestible by humans. However, since it is not digestible by us, it does not get absorbed and passes down the GI tract. It is digestible by bacteria. So in essence, if you consume sucralose, you are sending down an energy source to the bacteria you are trying to starve. So sucralose is not allowed.

That, if true, would by itself make this study inconclusive. But there's another negative to consider. Splenda is the trade name for sucralose,  a synthetic compound,  sugar modified by adding chlorine atoms, discovered in the 1970s by researchers looking to create a new pesticide. It concentrates in the gastrointestinal tract.
... The human body is very good at detoxifying itself of certain substances, but this is not the case with organochlorine compounds, which are organic compounds that have been chlorinated. Dioxin, one organochlorine compound that is a by-product of the paper bleaching process, is 300,000 times more carcinogenic than DDT, an insecticide that was banned because of its toxicity. These compounds have been linked to birth defects, cancer, and immune dysfunction. These chemicals stay in the body and accumulate over time. According to the Sucralose Toxicity Information Center, the absorbed sucralose and its metabolites (chemically altered substances) concentrate in the liver, kidney, and gastrointestinal tract. Splenda manufacturers claim there is minimal absorption of Splenda and its metabolites. The FDA says there is only 11 percent to 27 percent absorption, but the Japanese Food Sanitation Council says as much as 40 percent is absorbed by the body.

According to claims by the manufacturer, the chlorine part of the sucralose molecule is similar to the chorine part of common table salt (NaCl – Sodium Chloride). However, some would caution that using sucralose may be more like ingesting small amounts of chlorinated pesticides like DDT. ... Research in animals has shown:

  1. Up to 40 percent shrinkage of the thymus gland. (Critical for the response to disease – the ‘heart’ of our immune system)

  2. Enlarged liver and kidneys

  3. Atrophy of lymph follicles

  4. Reduced growth rate

- via DownToEarth

In my view this study is not examining the action of cranberry juice on UTI, it is examining OceanSpray's formula including Splenda. The researchers don't take into account the possible damaging effects of Splenda on the immune system. Repeat this study with unsweetened organic cranberry juice, and they might find what other placebo controlled studies have.
(1.) Jepson RG, Mihaljevic L, Craig J. Cranberries for preventing urinary tract infections. Cochrane Database Syst Rev 2001: CD001321.

Seven trials met the inclusion criteria (four cross-over, three parallel group). The effectiveness of cranberry juice (or cranberry-lingonberry juice) versus placebo juice or water was evaluated in six trials, and the effectiveness of cranberries tablets versus placebo was evaluated in two trials (one study evaluated both juice and tablets). In two good quality RCTs, cranberry products significantly reduced the incidence of UTIs at twelve months (RR 0.61 95% CI:0.40 to 0.91) compared with placebo/control in women. One trial gave 7.5 g cranberry concentrate daily (in 50 ml), the other gave 1:30 concentrate given either in 250 ml juice or in tablet form. There was no significant difference in the incidence of UTIs between cranberry juice versus cranberry capsules (RR 1.11 95% CI:0.49 to 2.50). Five trials were not included in the meta-analyses due to methodological flaws or lack of available data. However, only one reported a significant result for the outcome of symptomatic UTIs. Side effects were common in all trials, and dropouts/withdrawals in several of the trials were high.

via NIH


Autism breakthrough: Researchers identify possible drug for impaired sociability

Dan Shuman - Eastern Virginia Medical School researchers have identified a potential novel treatment strategy for the social impairment of people with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD), an aspect of the condition that has a profound impact on quality of life.

"Persons with Autism Spectrum Disorders are either disinterested in social interactions or find them unpleasant. They often don't understand what other people are thinking or feeling and misinterpret social cues," said Stephen I. Deutsch, MD, PhD, the Ann Robinson Chair and professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences. "Sadly, persons with autism spectrum disorders are often painfully aware of their limited sociability, which can lead to profound feelings of sadness and frustration."

As part of their research, EVMS scientists verified that a specific mouse strain, known as the BALB/c mouse, is a valid animal model of the limited sociability seen in persons with ASD. In the presence of another mouse, BALB/c mice move as far away as possible and do not interact as normal mice do — just like people with autism often avoid making social contact with other people.

This finding gave researchers a way to test whether an existing medication can alter the function of certain receptors in the brain known to affect sociability and help the animals be more at ease around others. The medication used, D-Cycloserine, originally was developed to treat tuberculosis, but previous studies showed, by chance, that it might change social behavior. In preliminary studies at EVMS, the medication appeared to resolve the Balb/c mouse's deficits of sociability; it behaved as a normal mouse would when placed near another.

Dr. Deutsch will discuss the research at EVMS' Quarterly Autism Education Series at noon, Dec. 14, in the school's Hofheimer Hall auditorium.

EVMS' laboratory studies with the Balb/c mouse led its investigators to hypothesize that D-Cycloserine could ease the impaired sociability of persons with autism, such as avoiding eye contact and personal interaction. Those traits can severely limit the possibility of employment and independent living for someone with autism.

"What makes this important is you might have someone with a 125 or 130 IQ who's unemployable" because of their social impairments, said Maria R. Urbano, MD, associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences.

Dr. Urbano is moving this promising research from the laboratory directly to patient care by starting a pilot clinical trial of D-Cycloserine in adolescent and young adult patients with autism spectrum disorders. The trial will show whether the medication, which is already known to be safe for use in humans, has similar effects on the sociability deficits of persons with autism as it did in the mice. ...

via Autism breakthrough: Researchers identify possible treatment for impaired sociability.

Great, no side effects except "... irritability, depression, psychosis convulsions..." Wait...  I think Wikipedia is missing an important comma. Is that psychosis and convulsions or are "psychosis convulsions" a special kind of convulsions?

It is also being trialed as an adjuvant to exposure therapy for anxiety disorders (e.g. phobias), depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder and schizophrenia. It has been experimentally used for treatment of Gaucher's disease. Recent research suggests that D-cycloserine ... may be effective in treating chronic pain. The side effects are mainly central nervous system (CNS) manifestations, i.e. headache, irritability, depression, psychosis convulsions. Co-administration of pyridoxine can reduce the incidence of some of the CNS side effects (e.g. convulsions). These psychotropic responses are related to D-cycloserine's action as a partial agonist of the neuronal NMDA receptor for glutamate and have been examined in implications with sensory-related fear extinction in the amygdala, and extinction of cocaine seeking in the nucleus accumbens. D-cycloserine is a partial agonist at the glycine receptor, and has been shown to have cognition-enhancing properties for models of Parkinsons disease in primates.

via Wikipedia

In any case, I don't think a drug is going to make people much more interesting than they already are... although if I was psychotic and convulsing, I might think otherwise.

Discovery of the secrets that enable plants near Chernobyl to shrug off radiation


Michael Bernstein - American Chemical Society

Scientists are reporting discovery of the biological secrets that enable plants growing near the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant to adapt and flourish in highly radioactive soil — legacy of the 1986 nuclear disaster in the Ukraine. Their study, which helps solve a long-standing mystery, appears in ACS' Environmental Science & Technology, a semi-monthly journal.

Martin Hajduch and colleagues note that plants have an unexpected ability to adapt to an environment contaminated with radiation following the April 26, 1986 accident at the Chernobyl. Their previous research, for example, showed that soybean plants in the area have adapted to the contaminated soil with certain changes in their proteome. A proteome is the full complement of proteins produced by the genes in a plant or animal. But the broader range of biochemical changes in plants that allow them to thrive in this harsh environment remained unclear.

The scientists grew flax seeds in radiation-contaminated soil in the Chernobyl region and compared their growth to those of seeds grown in non-radioactive soil. Radiation exposure had relatively little effect on the protein levels in the plants, with only about five percent of the proteins altered, they note. Among them were certain proteins involved in cell signaling, or chemical communication, which might help the plants shrug-off radioactivity, the scientists suggest.

via Discovery of the secrets that enable plants near Chernobyl to shrug off radiation.

If a disaster strikes, plants cannot move to better conditions - they either adapt, or die.

Soybean plantWhen, on 26 April, 1986, one of the reactors at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant exploded, the accident was said to be the worst nuclear disaster in human history.

Scores of people died, hundreds became ill with acute radiation sickness.

The entire population of the industrial city of Pripyat that housed the power plant's workforce was evacuated.

Many believed that the area would remain lifeless for generations.

Almost a quarter of a century later, Pripyat remains a ghost town. But despite deserted streets, the soil is not bare - plants have sprung back to life. ...

The scientist noted that there were probably historic reasons why it was a lot easier for plants to get used to living in increased levels of radiation.

"It is just unbelievable how quickly this ecosystem has been able to adapt," he said.

"[There must be] some kind of mechanism that plants already have inside them. Radioactivity has always been present here on Earth, from the very early stages of our planet's formation.

"There was a lot more radioactivity on the surface back then than there is now, so probably when life was evolving, these plants came across radioactivity and they probably developed some mechanism that is now in them."

via BBC

What Zen meditators don't think about won't hurt them

Zen meditation has many health benefits, including a reduced sensitivity to pain. According to new research from the Université de Montréal, meditators do feel pain but they simply don't dwell on it as much. These findings, published in the month's issue of Pain, may have implications for chronic pain sufferers, such as those with arthritis, back pain or cancer.

“Our previous research found that Zen meditators have lower pain sensitivity. The aim of the current study was to determine how they are achieving this,” says senior author Pierre Rainville, researcher at the Université de Montréal and the Institut universitaire de gériatrie de Montréal. “Using functional magnetic resonance imaging, we demonstrated that although the meditators were aware of the pain, this sensation wasn't processed in the part of their brains responsible for appraisal, reasoning or memory formation. We think that they feel the sensations, but cut the process short, refraining from interpretation or labelling of the stimuli as painful.” ...

“Our findings lead to new insights into mind/brain function,” says first author, Joshua Grant, a doctoral student at the Université de Montréal. “These results challenge current concepts of mental control, which is thought to be achieved by increasing cognitive activity or effort. Instead, we suggest it is possible to self-regulate in a more passive manner, by ‘turning off' certain areas of the brain, which in this case are normally involved in processing pain.”

“The results suggest that Zen meditators may have a training-related ability to disengage some higher-order brain processes, while still experiencing the stimulus,” says Rainville. “Such an ability could have widespread and profound implications for pain and emotion regulation and cognitive control. This behaviour is consistent with the mindset of Zen and with the notion of mindfulness.” ...

via What Zen meditators don't think about won't hurt them - UdeMNouvelles.

Reproductive scientists create mice from 2 fathers

Photo:  Stuart-Lee

Using stem cell technology, reproductive scientists in Texas, led by Dr. Richard R. Berhringer at the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, have produced male and female mice from two fathers.

The study was posted today (Wednesday, December 8) at the online site of the journal Biology of Reproduction.

The achievement of two-father offspring in a species of mammal could be a step toward preserving endangered species, improving livestock breeds, and advancing human assisted reproductive technology (ART). It also opens the provocative possibility of same-sex couples having their own genetic children, the researchers note.

In the work reported today, the Behringer team manipulated fibroblasts from a male (XY) mouse fetus to produce an induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cell line. About one percent of iPS cell colonies grown from this XY cell line spontaneously lost the Y chromosome, resulting in XO cells. The XO iPS cells were injected into blastocysts from donor female mice. The treated blastocysts were transplanted into surrogate mothers, which gave birth to female XO/XX chimeras having one X chromosome from the original male mouse fibroblast.

The female chimeras, carrying oocytes derived from the XO cells, were mated with normal male mice. Some of the offspring were male and female mice that had genetic contributions from two fathers.

According to the authors, "Our study exploits iPS cell technologies to combine the alleles from two males to generate male and female progeny, i.e. a new form of mammalian reproduction."

The technique described in this study could be applied to agriculturally important animal species to combine desirable genetic traits from two males without having to outcross to females with diverse traits.

"It is also possible that one male could produce both oocytes and sperm for self-fertilization to generate male and female progeny," the scientists point out. Such a technique could be valuable for preserving species when no females remain. ...

via Reproductive scientists create mice from 2 fathers.


Note to future scientists: If ever no human females remain, please don't preserve the species. Just let it go.

Elusive spintronics success could lead to single chip for processing and memory

Dr Alan DrewResearchers from Queen Mary, University of London (UK) and the University of Fribourg (Switzerland) have shown that a magnetically polarised current can be manipulated by electric fields.

Published this week in the journal Nature Materials, this important discovery opens up the prospect of simultaneously processing and storing data on electrons held in the molecular structure of computer chips - combining computer memory and processing power on the same chip.

"This is especially exciting, as this discovery has been made with flexible organic semiconductors, which are set to be the new generation of displays for mobile devices, TVs and computer monitors, and could offer a step-change in power efficiency and reduced weight of these devices," said Dr Alan Drew, from Queen Mary's School of Physics, who led the research.

'Spintronics' - spin transport electronics - has rapidly become the universally used technology for computer hard disks. Designed in thin layers of magnetic and non-magnetic materials, Giant Magnetoresistive (GMR) spin valves use the magnetic properties, or 'spin', of electrons to detect computer data stored in magnetic bits. In contrast, computer processing relies on streams of electrically charged electrons flowing around a tiny circuit etched into a microchip.

Dr Drew and his team have investigated how layers of Lithium Fluoride (LiF) - a material that has an intrinsic electric field - can modify the spin of electrons transported through these spin valves. ...

via Elusive spintronics success could lead to single chip for processing and memory, Queen Mary, University of London.

Texas Woman Jessekah Few Jailed for Overdue Library Books

Authorities threw the book at a woman who had a few overdue library books.

Police in Baytown, Texas, say they locked up Jessekah Few last month after the 25-year-old failed to show up in court for a hearing about unreturned library books.

"It's not a very common charge," Baytown Police Department Detective Alan Cliburn told"It's part of the deal, part of the agreement that you enter into. It's just like anything else -- you can't take something that doesn't belong to you and just hold onto it."

Library officials say they only pursue charges against members who haven't returned more than $200 of property after multiple requests.

Few -- who was charged with a class-C misdemeanor -- has reportedly stated that the books were destroyed in a house fire seven years ago. She says her landlord, the fire department and even the Red Cross can attest to the blaze.

Contrary to reports indicating that Few was arrested on Thanksgiving Day, Baytown police told AOL News that she was apprehended the day before the holiday.

via Texas Woman Jessekah Few Jailed for Overdue Library Books.

The Texas governor is reportedly considering an exception to the death penalty.  ;-)

Wikileaks: Australia FM blames US, not Julian Assange

Australia's foreign minister has said the US is to blame for the release of thousands of diplomatic cables on Wikileaks, not its Australian founder, Julian Assange.

Kevin Rudd said the release raised questions about US security.

Mr Rudd said he did not "give a damn" about criticism of him in the cables.

Mr Assange, arrested in the UK over sex crime allegations in Sweden, has accused the Australian government of "disgraceful pandering" to the US.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard had earlier called Mr Assange's release of the cables "grossly irresponsible".

Over the past two weeks, Wikileaks has released thousands of classified messages from US envoys around the world, from more than 250,000 it has been given.

Washington has called their publication "irresponsible" and an "attack on the international community". ...

In an interview with Reuters news agency, Mr Rudd said: "Mr Assange is not himself responsible for the unauthorised release of 250,000 documents from the US diplomatic communications network. The Americans are responsible for that." ...

via BBC News - Wikileaks: Australia FM blames US, not Julian Assange.

Evolutionary Secret of the Female Orgasm

... Darwinian theorists who made early attempts to address female orgasm proposed that orgasm keeps a woman lying down after sex, passively retaining sperm and increasing her probability of conception. Others suggested that it evolved to create a stronger pair bond between lovers, inspiring in women feelings of intimacy and trust toward mates. Some reasoned that orgasm communicates a woman's sexual satisfaction and devotion to a lover.

Most recently, evolutionary psychologists have been exploring the proposition that female orgasm is a sophisticated adaptation that allows women to manipulate--even without their own awareness--which of their lovers will be allowed to fertilize their eggs. ...

Clues for a reasonable adaptation hypothesis were readily available by the late 1960s, when The British Medical Journal published an exchange of letters about the muscular contractions and uterine suction associated with women's orgasm. In one letter, a doctor reported that a patient's uterine and vaginal contractions during sex with a sailor had pulled off his condom. Upon inspection, the condom was found in her cervical canal! The doctor concluded that female orgasms pull sperm closer to the egg as well.

Yet, it was only three years ago that two British biologists, Robin Baker and Mark Bellis, tested the so-called upsuck hypothesis. They were building upon ideas articulated by evolutionary biologist Robert Smith, who suggested that since women don't have orgasms every time out, female orgasm favors some sperm over others. Baker and Bellis sought to learn just how female orgasms might affect which of a lover's sperm is used to fertilize a woman's eggs. ...

They discovered that when a woman climaxes any time between a minute before to 45 minutes after her lover ejaculates, she retains significantly more sperm than she does after nonorgasmic sex. When her orgasm precedes her male's by more than a minute, or when she does not have an orgasm, little sperm is retained. Just as the doctors' letters suggested decades earlier, the team's results indicated that muscular contractions associated with orgasm pull sperm from the vagina to the cervix, where it's in better position to reach an egg.

Baker and Bellis proposed that by manipulating the occurrence and timing of orgasm--via subconscious processes--women influence the probability of conception. So while a man worries about a woman's satisfaction with him as a lover out of fear she will stray, orgasmic females may be up to something far more clever--deciding which partner will sire her children. ...

via The Orgasm Wars | Psychology Today.

Bizarre hairy fly is rediscovered

Terrible hairy flyScientists have rediscovered a bizarre insect in Kenya, collecting the first Terrible Hairy Fly specimen since 1948.

Since then, at least half a dozen expeditions have visited its only known habitat - a rock cleft in an area east of Nairobi - in search of the fly.

Two insect specialists recently spotted the 1cm-long insect, known as Mormotomyia hirsuta, living on the 20m-high rock.

They point out that it looks more like a spider with hairy legs.

The fly was found by Dr Robert Copeland and Dr Ashley Kirk-Spriggs during an expedition led by the International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology (ICIPE).

"The rediscovery of the species, which has been collected on only two occasions before, in 1933 and 1948, has caused excitement in insect museums world-wide," the team members said in a statement. ...

via BBC News - Bizarre hairy fly is rediscovered.

'Lightfoil' idea shows light can provide lift

Image of lightfoil movement (Nature Photonics)Just as air causes lift on the wings of an aeroplane, light can do the same trick, researchers have said.

The effect, first shown in simulations, was proven by showing it in action on tiny glass rods.

Like the aerofoil concept of wings, the approach, published in Nature Photonics, works by making use of the radiation pressure of light.

The results are of interest for steering "solar sails", a spacecraft propulsion based on the same force.

Each photon - or packet of light - carries its own momentum, and this "lightfoil" works by gathering the momentum of light as it passes through a material.

This radiation pressure has been considered as a fuel-free source of propulsion for long-distance space missions; a "solar sail" gathering up the momentum of the Sun's rays can get a spacecraft up to a significant fraction of the speed of light.

But until now, no one thought to use the pressure in an analogue of an aerofoil, said Grover Swarzlander of the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT). ...

via BBC News - 'Lightfoil' idea shows light can provide lift.

The teenager who sleeps for 10 days

Louisa Ball Sleeping Beauty Syndrom A Rare Syndrom Causes A Girl To Sleep For DaysWhile most teenagers struggle to get out of bed in a morning, Louisa Ball might take 10 days to fully wake from her slumber, due to a very rare neurological disorder. So what's it like living with Kleine-Levin Syndrome?

Louisa has slept through holidays, friends' birthdays and half of her GCSEs.

In 2008, aged 14, she had been suffering from flu-like symptoms. She was at her school in Sussex when she started nodding off in class and behaving strangely.

"I didn't know what I was doing, what I was saying, everyone thought 'hey this isn't right,'" she recalls.

"I was hallucinating and after that I don't remember anything. All of a sudden it just went blank and I just slept for 10 days. I woke up and I was fine again."

Her parents Rick and Lottie watched their daughter becoming fidgety and with unusual facial expressions as she sank into sleep. The first time was a frightening experience for them, although Louisa herself says she wasn't scared by the episode, more puzzled.

"It was really weird, no one knew what was wrong, we just thought it wasn't going to happen again. And then four weeks later it happened again."

She was finally diagnosed with Kleine-Levin Syndrome (KLS). There is no known cause or cure but Louisa says it was good to know what it was and that it wasn't life threatening.

The average time it takes to diagnose the condition is four years, because there is no test and so it requires a process of elimination of other disorders. ...

via BBC News - The teenager who sleeps for 10 days.

Nasa sells shuttle PCs without wiping secret data

Space shuttle at dawn... Investigators also found that some PCs that had failed those verification tests were still being put up for sale.

Their report in to the incidents says its impossible to know what data was left on the sold-off equipment, but analysis of similar equipment "raises serious concerns" for Nasa.

Investigators found four PCs being prepared for sale at the Kennedy Space Center which contained data subject to export control by the International Traffic in Arms Regulations.

They also found dozens of PCs at the Kennedy equipment disposal facility that all had external markings listing network details.

Such details could potentially provide hackers with "unauthorised access to Nasa's internal computer network".

Nasa will now review and update its equipment disposals procedures. ...

via BBC News - Nasa sells shuttle PCs without wiping secret data.

Microsoft To Add Tracking Protection To IE9

Less than a week after federal regulators proposed giving web users a "do-not-track" option against online advertisers, Microsoft announced that it will add its own tracking protection mechanism in the next version of Internet Explorer 9.

Microsoft said Tuesday that the privacy tool would be in IE when it ships next year. The mechanism would give users the option of subscribing to a "tracking protection list" that would contain the names of web addresses used by tracking companies. Organizations on the list would be prevented from communicating with the browser.

Tracking has become a powerful tool for online advertisers to identify groups of people who may be interested in products or services based on their web activities. The practice has been denounced by privacy advocates who argue advertisers have no right to use people's personal information, including their use of the web, without first getting permission.

The Interactive Advertising Board, the trade group representing the $23 billion online ad industry, released a statement to InformationWeek expressing concerns with the tech vendors' plans, while also supporting its efforts at self-regulation in the privacy area. "We are concerned that the new browser features will block the advertising that supports free content on the Internet, and may inadvertently block news, entertainment and social media content as well," the IAB said.

Consumer advocacy groups had a different take on Microsoft's plans. The Consumer Watchdog welcomed the tech vendor's announcement, while insisting that self-regulation by companies wasn't enough and Congress still needed to pass "do not track me" legislation to protect consumers. "Privacy protection demands enforceable rules," John M. Simpson, a project director in Consumer Watchdog, said in a statement. ...

via Microsoft To Add Tracking Protection To IE9 -- Online Advertising -- InformationWeek.

Alaskan Wildfires Could Trigger 'Runaway Climate Change'

Severe Alaskan wildfires have released much more carbon than was stored by the region's forests over the past 10 years, researchers report today. They warned that the pattern could lead to a "runaway climate change scenario" where larger, more intense fires release more greenhouse gases that, in turn, lead to more warming.

The northern wildfires burn peatlands that consist of decaying plant litter, moss and organic matter in the soil, said Merritt Turetsky, an ecologist at the University of Guelph in Canada and lead author of a new study. Such fires have a huge impact given that the peatlands contain much of the world's soil carbon - about as much carbon as is found in the atmosphere or in the total of terrestrial biomass (plants and animals).

"These findings are worrisome, because about half the world's soil carbon is locked in northern permafrost and peatland soils," Turetsky explained. "This is carbon that has accumulated in ecosystems a little bit at a time for thousands of years, but is being released very rapidly through increased burning."

The fire-chasing researchers found that burned area has doubled in Alaska's interior over the last decade. They traveled to almost 200 forest and peatland burn sites so that they could measure how much biomass had gone up in smoke and flames, and also examined fire records dating back to the 1950s.

via Alaskan Wildfires Could Trigger 'Runaway Climate Change' - Yahoo! News.

Doctors at Berlin hospital produce first-ever MRI scan of baby at moment of birth

Doctors at a Berlin hospital captured live MRI images of a birth.

Doctors at a Berlin hospital have made a medical breakthrough after capturing live MRI images of the miracle of birth.

The pictures, taken after a German mother agreed to give birth inside a magnetic-resonance imaging machine, could provide valuable new insights into the birthing process and allow future lives to be saved.

Gynaecologist Ernst Beinder at Berlin's Charité Hospital said the birth proceeded normally and the machine filmed all the movements and processes that went on inside the womb.

'We can now see all the details we previously could only study with probes,' he said. ...

While most MRI machines are tube-shaped, the Charité team developed a special 'open' scanner which provided the necessary room for midwives and the mother during the birth.

The creation of the live MRI images of a birth could prove vital in understanding complications during the birthing process and the need for around 15 per cent of women to have a Caesarian section due to the baby not moving sufficiently into the birth canal. ...

via Doctors at Berlin hospital produce first-ever MRI scan of baby at moment of birth | Mail Online.

Dr. Who Sonic Screwdriver Close to Reality

Lee Speigel - A real sonic screwdriver -- like the one Doctor Who Sonic Screwdriver and Sonic Pen Setused by the popular British science fiction character Dr. Who -- may soon become reality.

In the BBC-produced television series -- recognized by Guinness World Records as the longest-running science fiction TV show on Earth -- the eccentric Dr. Who uses a multi-tasking sonic screwdriver to help him in his many time-traveling adventures.

The fictional device is so popular that the BBC even offers a facsimile of it as a gift item.It may not be here in time to stuff your holiday stockings with, but a team of British engineers has created a gadget that can manipulate objects via ultrasonic sound waves, reports The Telegraph.

University of Bristol ultrasonics engineer Bruce Drinkwater says the new technology may ultimately lead to tools that can easily turn screws and construct precise components. ...

via Dr. Who Sonic Screwdriver Close to Reality.

Vote: Toy of the Year Awards (FBI vs Barbie?)

Do Androids more than dream of LEGO MINDSTORMS?Vote for Toy of the Year. Great place to get ideas for the kids this season.

Up for a nomination is a controversial Barbie with a built in video camera. Seems like a fun techno gift for girls, no?

Well, the FBI has some concerns about this particular toy... no, they aren't afraid that terrorists will use it to detect our infrastructure...
With a new, high-tech Barbie now on the market, the FBI has issued a warning to parents.

This Barbie has a camera embedded in the iconic doll, with a lens in front and a color, LCD screen on her back. She's getting rave reviews in the toy community, and was even nominated for the 2011 Toy of the Year award.

But the FBI warns that it could become a tool for child pornography production.

The video Barbie doll came out in July and so far there have not been any reported cases of misuse. But the FBI says parents need to keep an eye on what their kids are filming. ...

via TBD

I'd guess that Video Barbie will be popular with kids because  we used to have hours of fun with toys that could record and play back our voices.  As the FBI says, parental supervision is the key.

I wonder if the FBI was involved in getting the Harry Potter Nimbus 2000 Broom that vibrated removed from stores?

Well, this was one way to keep Harry Potter fans interested as they grew up. Modeled after Harry's first broom, Mattel's now discontinued battery-operated Nimbus 2000 featured a grooved stick and handle for kids who wanted to ride it around the house. The dubious part: it vibrated. Some of the (now deleted) comments on Amazon were so good, they had to be written with a wink: "I'm 32 and enjoy riding the broom as much as my 12 yr old and 7 year old," wrote one satisfied customer. We bet. 

Read more:

A vibrating broom is pretty safe compared to what gave us "the witch on the broom" image in the first place. The little known history of witches flying on broomsticks:  Women used to make bread by stirring it with broomsticks and the mold ergot on the broomsticks caused hallucinations (and flying dreams, and more) when absorbed through the skin. Other things were added to "flying ointments" for broom riding that resulted in wild, wierd and pleasurable experiences. This included seeing monsters and demons, some bad trips, insanity and probably some poisoning deaths.  (More: link, link, link, link)

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Japan's Akatsuki probe fails to enter Venus orbit

Artist's impression of the Akatsuki probe (Jaxa)Japan's first space probe bound for Venus has failed to enter the planet's orbit, the country's space agency says.

The space craft, Akatsuki, is believed to have passed Venus after it failed to slow down sufficiently.

Akatsuki, launched about 200 days ago, fired its main engine just before 0000 GMT on Monday to allow the planet's gravity to capture the probe.

A previous interplanetary space probe launched by Japan in 1998 to orbit Mars was also a failure.

Akatsuki briefly lost contact but was now back in communication and functioning normally as it headed off around the sun, officials said.

"Unfortunately, it did not attain an orbit," said Hitoshi Soeno of the space agency, Jaxa.

"But it appears to be functioning and we may be able to try again when it passes by Venus six years from now."

The failure was disappointing for the 200,000 names carried by the craft in a bid to raise awareness of Japan's space programme.

Akatsuki was launched to the inner-world by an H-IIA rocket in May. Its goals included finding definitive evidence for lightning and for active volcanoes. ...

via BBC News - Japan's Akatsuki probe fails to enter Venus orbit.

Here are some shots of the surface of Venus from the Russians.
Venera 13 Lander images of the surface of Venus. The lander touched down at 7.5 S, 303 E, east of Phoebe Regio, on 1 March, 1982. It survived on the surface for 2 hours, 7 minutes. These pictures were taken from its two opposite-facing cameras. The top image is a black and white frame of the color image vg261_262. The bottom frame shows the lander testing arm. The surface is made up of flat, platy rocks and soil. Parts of the lander and semi-circular lens covers can be seen in both images. (Venera 13 Lander, YG06847)

October, 1975 - Soviet Venera 9 and 10 send the first pictures of the Venusian surface to Earth. - spacetimeline

Taser left on police vehicle roof in Lambeth is lost

Taser (generic)A Metropolitan Police firearms officer is under investigation after a Taser was lost when he drove off with it still on the roof of a police vehicle.

The weapon was left on top of the vehicle as the officer left a briefing at a force firearms base in Norfolk Row, Lambeth, between 0700 GMT and 0830 GMT on Tuesday.

Officers said the stun gun and four cartridges were left on the roof.

Police realised it was missing at about 1000 GMT.

The Taser is believed to have fallen off somewhere between Norfolk Row and Vauxhall Cross, where the officer had stopped to refuel.

Scotland Yard said the officer concerned had been taken off operational firearms duties.

A spokesperson said the Directorate of Professional Standards had been informed and an internal investigation was under way.

Police urged anyone who found the Taser, which is shaped like a handgun but made from bright yellow plastic, not to touch it but to contact the force. ...

via BBC News - Taser left on police vehicle roof in Lambeth is lost.

Air Force on Secret Space Plane: Nothing to See Here, Move Along

X-37BThe Air Force has news for anyone looking for sinister motives behind the flying branch’s latest orbital gizmo: the mysterious, high-tech X-37B space plane. The 29-foot-long robotic shuttle — vaguely labeled a “test asset” by the Pentagon — returned to earth on Friday after 224 days, nine hours and 24 minutes in space. In those eight months, observers speculated that the X-37 might be a prototype bomber, a satellite-snatching snoop or a speedy, quick-reacting sensor platform. Forget it, Richard McKinney, Deputy Undersecretary of the Air Force for Space Programs, said Monday. “I applaud the ingenuity and innovation of some reports, but really it’s as described. This is a test vehicle, pure and simple.”

But a test vehicle for what? Well, for testing, McKinney said. The way he described it, the X-37 should eventually function as an orbital laboratory for new satellite components and other space gear — pricey stuff that today gets boosted into the heavens with very little realistic testing. “If we could place technology in orbit, check it out and bring back to earth, that would be significant accomplish,” he said. “The purpose of this particular mission was the vehicle. In order do the other things we talked about … we’ve got to have a vehicle to do that.”

All the same, the X-37 did carry something in its payload bay during its inaugural flight — something secret, McKinney admitted. “It’s not unusual for us to put satellites into orbit that are classified. This is no different than that.”

via Air Force on Secret Space Plane: Nothing to See Here, Move Along | Danger Room |


Anthony Bragalia  - ... The US Army has made some rather startling official admissions about the IPU. We learn from information that has been collectively culled from these three documents that:

· The US Army confirms that within their Department of Counterintelligence there was in fact an "Interplanetary Phenomenon Unit" or IPU

· The IPU was "disestablished" in the late 1950's

· The IPU records were "surrendered" to the Air Force (AFOSI) in conjunction with Project Blue Book (confirming that the IPU dealt with the UFO phenomenon)

· The unit was an "in-house project" as an "interest item" for an unnamed Assistant Chief of Staff for Intelligence

· That the unit (they claim) lacked formal "function, mission or authority"

· That it is only through "institutional memory" that the Army knows of the IPU's existence

The Army's sparse responses to these researchers are disingenuous and they are internally inconsistent. And it was only after repeated inquiries over many years that the Army offered these tacit admissions about the IPU. They concur that there was an IPU- but they minimize its import and claim that they essentially know nothing more about it. They contradict themselves on this by revealing that the files did relate to UFOs (as they indicate that they were released to the Air Force's Project Blue Book.) But they do not say under whose auspice this was done nor how they know this to be so. And they tell us when the unit was "disestablished" but they will not indicate just how they know this to be true. They somehow know when the IPU ended, but they offer nothing about when it was established. ...

The Defense Central Index of Investigations (DCII) is a very little-known arm of the US Department of Defense. It is an "automated control index" that identifies and reports on investigations that have been conducted by all of the Department of Defense investigative agencies. This military and intelligence data center is one of the most complex and comprehensive in existence.

By the early 1980s, the late researcher John Frick of Melbourne, FL had become aware of a computer printout that was generated by the DCII that had related some historical UFO sightings and investigations, including those made under General Douglas MacArthur's command. The listing of sightings had curiously ended the very year that Douglas had left the South West Pacific Area Command. The first line of the short printout read: "01 INTERPLANETARY PHENOMENON UNIT" and the column which shows "DESTROYED" has been left blank. ...

Read more: The UFO Iconoclast(s): US ARMY'S SECRET UFO STUDY: "SOME ARE INTERPLANETARY" by Anthony Bragalia.

The first interplanetary craft on the record was Russian:
Model 3MVIn 1959, Korolëv decided to attempt to reach Mars during the orbital opportunity in the Fall of 1960, and to reach Venus in early 1961. Program MV had only one year for massive preparations, including the construction of the 4-stage Molniia launch vehicle, and the 300 million kilometer range Pluton telemetry system on the Crimean peninsula.

Gleb Iu. Maksimov, a brilliant young department head in OKB-1, designed two probes. Object 1M would fly by Mars, and 1V would land on Venus. These were the first spacecrafts to include all the essential elements necessary for a long-range planetary mission:

  • Temperature Regulation System

  • Solar-Powered Batteries

  • Three-Axis Stabilization

  • High-Gain Parabolic Antenna

  • Mid-Course Correction Engine

  • ....  (Source: mentallandscape )

Venera 3 was launched by a Tyazheliy Sputnik (65-092B) rocket.

The spacecraft was to take data of the Venusian atmosphere as it descended by parachute to the surface, and then transmit that data back to Earth, giving Soviet scientists information on pressure, temperature, and the composition of the atmosphere.

It contained a radio communication system, along with scientific instruments and electrical power sources.

The 2,112 pound (958 kilogram) spacecraft, designated as Venera 3MV-3 by its manufacturer (Lavochkin), crash-landed on the surface of Venus on March 1, 1966.

Its communications system failed before it could return to Earth any useful information.

Also called Venus 3, the spacecraft does become the first human spacecraft to make physical contact with another planetary body, besides the Moon.

... (Source:


Foil Those Electronic Pickpocket Stoppers

Wallets such as the DataSafe line promise protection from electronic prying.... says electronic security expert Bruce Schneier, crystallizing the view of many: "As weird as it sounds, wrapping your passport in tinfoil helps. The tinfoil people, in this case, happen to be correct."The issue is bigger than just the new style of passports, which contain chips that emit information that can be read by a scanner. We're also talking about your Metro SmarTrip card, your employee ID/building access card, your automatic highway toll pass, the newest wave of credit cards and gas purchasing cards, even digital drivers' licenses being developed in some states.All of these nifty and oh-so-convenient bits of plastic employ versions of what's known as radio frequency identification technology, or RFID. That is, they toss out bits of data that are caught by receivers, with little or no contact, just through the air in some cases. The new credit cards, such as MasterCard's PayPass, don't have to be swiped through a machine. ...

some security watchdogs assert the need to cover, or shield, these cards when they aren't in use. A thin metalized nylon can do the trick, based on the classic Faraday cage design, to disrupt RFID communications.

...  A couple of years ago, when the State Department announced the new style of passports, EPIC recommended that people wrap their passports in tinfoil. Instead, the State Department addressed such concerns by embedding metallic shielding in the front and back cover of the passport books. In addition, the new "passport cards" to be offered to U.S. citizens who travel frequently between the United States and Canada, Mexico or the Caribbean will come with similarly shielded sleeves.

The fact that the State Department has resorted to shielding material -- does that mean the threat is real, that shielded wallets for other types of cards are a good idea? Schneier, for one, thinks the passport books are still vulnerable when they are open.

But spokesmen for the State Department and the Department of Homeland Security say the shields are just an extra level of security for documents that are already safe because of encryption and the nature of the information on them. Even when the passport books are open, the digital information can be read by a scanner no more than a few inches away, says spokesman Steve Royster. ...via Electronic Pickpocket Stoppers -

Hills alive with UFOs

UfoA PROSPECTOR who went to find gold in the hills thinks he may have found something better - evidence that aliens really do exist.

Adam Cainero believes he captured a photograph of an alien spacecraft hovering above an escarpment near Majors Creek, in the Southern Tablelands near Braidwood.

After an unsuccessful weekend fossicking for gold Mr Cainero and a friend were making the long trip home when he stopped to take a snap of the steep mountain they had driven down.

When he got home, Mr Cainero said he realised he had found gold of another kind after all.

"I just took a picture of the mountain range and the sun was in my eyes so I just kind of pointed and shot," Mr Cainero said. "Then we looked at the picture - we were, like, no way."

With its shape and its position in the sky, Mr Cainero said he immediately knew the black object was a UFO.

"We always see really weird things as we go out to places where there is no one around," he said.

There had been talk among fossickers about UFOs being in the area, he said. "A lot of people I know who go into the bush reckon they have seen one," Mr Cainero said.

Earlier this year The Daily Telegraph revealed the suburbs around Gosford, on the Central Coast, were the state's biggest hot spot when it came to UFO sightings, with dozens of cases reported every year. Each month people turn up to meetings to share their UFO experiences.

The region was the scene of one of Australia's most baffling UFO cases - a series of sightings in 1995 and 1996 - reported by police and many other credible witnesses.

Residents saw shiny UFOs hovering above water.

via Hills alive with UFOs | The Daily Telegraph.

Pointy mountain behind clouds?

NASA's arsenic microbe science slammed

A recent high-profile astrobiology discovery led by a NASA scientist is being called into question by a B.C. microbiologist, who says the science was sloppy.

"I don't know whether the authors are just bad scientists or whether they're unscrupulously pushing NASA's 'There's life in outer space!' agenda," wrote University of British Columbia Prof. Rosie Redfield on her blog about the study, which was published Dec. 2 in Science.

In a blog post over the weekend, Redfield described the study led by astrobiologist Felisa Wolfe-Simon as "lots of flim-flam, but very little reliable information."

Wolfe-Simon and her colleagues reported that a microbe found in California can use arsenic — an element that is usually toxic to living things — instead of phosphorus to make chemical building blocks of life such as DNA, proteins and fats. The bacteria were grown in an environment with very high arsenic and almost no phosphorus.

The discovery was hailed as "something different than life as we knew it." NASA scientists said it opened the possibility of finding life in parts of the universe that might otherwise be considered uninhabitable. ...

One of the key findings of the NASA study was that the microbe's DNA was partly made of arsenic instead of phosphorus, based on chemical analyses.

But Redfield disagreed, writing that the paper "doesn't present ANY convincing evidence that arsenic has been incorporated into DNA (or any other biological molecule).

In an interview Monday, Redfield said the methods used by the researchers were so crude that any arsenic they detected was likely from contamination. There is no indication that the researchers purified the DNA to remove arsenic that might have been sticking to the outside of the DNA or the gel the DNA was embedded in, she added. Normally, purifying the DNA is a standard step, Redfield said: "It's a kit, it costs $2, it takes 10 minutes."

She also questioned why the researchers analyzed the DNA while it was still in the gel, making the results more difficult to interpret: "No molecular biologist would ever do that."

Redfield also disagreed with the paper's conclusion that the bacteria had to rely on arsenic to build molecules such as DNA because there wasn't enough phosphate (a form of phosphorus) available in the samples with the lowest levels. Her arithmetic showed that in fact, there was enough phosphate to account for the amount of bacteria that grew.

"That shocked me," she said.

Redfield added that there was actually very little arsenic in the DNA of bacteria grown in an environment high in arsenic and low in phosphorus. In fact, the amount was only twice that of the cells grown without arsenic: "That's a level of difference that could be easily explained by very minor contamination." 

Read more:

Government can’t print money properly

...Because of a problem with the presses, the federal government has shut down production of its flashy new $100 bills, and has quarantined more than 1 billion of them -- more than 10 percent of all existing U.S. cash -- in a vault in Fort Worth, Texas, reports CNBC.

"There is something drastically wrong here," one source told CNBC. "The frustration level is off the charts."

Officials with the Treasury and the Federal Reserve had touted the new bills' sophisticated security features that were 10 years in the making, including a 3-D security strip and a color-shifting image of a bell, designed to foil counterfeiters. But it turns out the bills are so high-tech that the presses can't handle the printing job.

More than 1 billion unusable bills have been printed. Some of the bills creased during production, creating a blank space on the paper, one official told CNBC. Because correctly printed bills are mixed in with the flawed ones, even the ones printed to the correct design specs can't be used until they 're sorted. It would take an estimated 20 to 30 years to weed out the defective bills by hand, but a mechanized system is expected to get the job done in about a year.

Combined, the quarantined bills add up to $110 billion -- more than 10 percent of the entire U.S. cash supply, which now stands at around $930 billion.

The flawed bills, which cost around $120 million to print, will have to be burned.

The new bills are the first to include Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner's signature. In order to prevent a shortfall,the government has ordered production of the old design, which includes the signature of Bush administration Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson. ...

via Government can’t print money properly - Yahoo! News.

Monday, December 6, 2010

List of facilities 'vital to US security' leaked

A long list of key facilities around the world that the US describes as vital to its national security has been released by Wikileaks.

In February 2009 the State Department asked all US missions abroad to list all installations whose loss could critically affect US national security.

The list includes pipelines, communication and transport hubs.

Several UK sites are listed, including cable locations, satellite sites and BAE Systems plants.

BBC diplomatic correspondent Jonathan Marcus says this is probably the most controversial document yet from the Wikileaks organisation.

The definition of US national security revealed by the cable is broad and all embracing, he says.

There are obvious pieces of strategic infrastructure like communications hubs, gas pipelines and so on. However, other facilities on the list include:

* Cobalt mine in Congo
* Anti-snake venom factory in Australia
* Insulin plant in Denmark

In Britain, the list ranges from Cornwall to Scotland, including key satellite communications sites and the places where trans-Atlantic cables make landfall.

A number of BAE Systems plants involved in joint weapons programmes with the Americans are listed, along with a marine engineering firm in Edinburgh which is said to be "critical" for nuclear powered submarines. ...

via BBC News - List of facilities 'vital to US security' leaked.

What good could  releasing this do? The little possibility (hope?) I had that Wikileaks is backed by some rogue part of the CIA playing some tricky little game is fading fast.

Is this wikileaks information joyride is a big bucket of Bush blow-back?  Not only did he turn the rest of the world against the US with his attitude and preemptive war, but...
...There is a terrible irony here since this centralised method of exchanging key diplomatic communications was instituted as part of the efforts in the wake of the 9/11 attacks to get different parts of the US government machine talking to each other better. - BBC


Zinc, Tinnitus and Immune System Health

File:Zn-TableImage.pngThe inner ear contains the highest concentration of zinc of any organ. Numerous clinical studies have shown a correlation between zinc deficiency, tinnitus and sensorineural hearing loss (SNHL) . SNHL is the most common type of hearing loss, occurring in 23 percent of the population older than 65 years of age. The term "sensorineural" is used to indicate some pathological change in structures within the inner ear or in the acoustic nerve.

One study showed that, "With zinc supplementation in patients who are marginally zinc deficient, there has been improvement in tinnitus and sensorineural hearing loss in about one-third of elderly adults."(1) Another clinical trial showed supplementation with 34-68 mg of zinc over a two week period produced". . . a significant decrease in the numeric scale (of the tinnitus)."(2) A French study using zinc to treat tinnitus found, ". . . positive results in about 52% of cases: in 15% there was a good amelioration and in 37% there was a smaller but significant amelioration of their symptoms. . . . (it is) more efficient in types of tinnitus of a continuous character than in other types."(3)

...  Zinc plays a major role in keeping the thymus going. The thymus gland orchestrates the workings of the immune system. The thymus is big and robust when we are young but declines with age. When we are born, the thymus, tucked in the neck behind the top of our collarbone, is bigger than our heart. The shrinking starts at puberty and by the time we're sixty, it's a pale shadow of its former self. This parallels the rapid decline of our immune system. The shrinkage of the immune system is one of the most visible signs of aging.

Until recently, the experts considered this slow decline as an irreversible decline of advancing age. This is simply not true. French researchers recently found that immune systems of even the aged could be reversed. A group of institutionalized people, aged 73 to 106 years, was given a daily dose of 20 milligrams of zinc. All subjects were deficient in zinc. Their thymulin activity shot as much as 50 percent in just a couple of months. There were no side effects.

via Zinc, Tinnitus and Immune System Health - Tinnitus Information Center.

As they say, the dose is the poison. I don't think anyone should be taking more than 30 mg / day and what you should take really depends on what you are already getting in your diet. You can die from too much zinc.  What a world this is: If you wear false teeth, you might have zinc poisoning from denture creme. Too much zinc can cause  neurologic disease (panic attacks according to some, heart problems, etc.) and abnormally low copper levels in your blood (hypocupremia).

Zinc plays a role in building your DNA and RNA. Zinc also aides in the healing of wounds and is need for tasting and smelling. Keeping a normal level of zinc will help protect your from illness because zinc helps regulate your immune system. Zinc is found in seafood, lean beef and pork, nuts, eggs, cheese, poultry and soybeans.  ...

An overdose from a single large does of zinc can cause symptoms within 30 minutes. An acute overdose can cause severe nausea, vomiting, headaches, fatigue, loss of appetite, diarrhea and abdominal cramps. ... A chronic overdose occurs when you consume slightly high doses of zinc on a regular basis for too long. Symptoms of a chronic overdose include a weakened immune system. If your immune system is weakened, your risk of urinary tract problem including infections is increased. Chronic overdose can lead to anemia, low levels of good cholesterol and a reduced ability to absorb antibiotics and other minerals like iron.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Recommended Daily Allowance of zinc for adult males is 11 mg and 8 mg for adult females. This is the minimum amount you would need to get from food or supplements to ensure that your body has enough zinc. According to the National Institutes of Health, adults should not get more than 40 mg of zinc a day from food or supplements. Higher levels of zinc may lead to acute and chronic overdoses.

Zinc is an extremely most abundant trace element in the brain. Substantial amounts of zinc exist in the presynaptic vesicles, and are released with glutamate during the neuronal excitation. Synaptically-released zinc is believed to play crucial roles in normal brain functions. Therefore, zinc deficiency impairs brain development and capabilities of learning and memory. Notwithstanding, recent studies have indicated that excess zinc is linked with several neurodegenerative diseases and has a causative role in delayed neuronal death after transient global ischemia.

So, if I have ringing in my ears, I'll try a little bit of Wheat Germ

Toasted wheat germ provides 17mg of zinc per 100g serving which is 112% of the RDA, crude (untoasted) wheat germ provides 12mg (82% RDA).

Or pumpkin seeds or chocolate. This is great. Got me motivated to cut up those pumpkins and roast the seeds tonight with some butter, cinnamon and sea salt.

Wouldn't it be great if there was a cheap painless way to test your trace element levels? Here is one place, but I'm not sure of the prices.

Small daily aspirin dose 'cuts cancer risk'

A small daily dose of aspirin substantially reduces death rates from a range of common cancers, a study suggests.

Research at Oxford University and other centres found that it cut overall cancer deaths by at least a fifth.

The study, published in the Lancet, covered some 25,000 patients, mostly from the UK.

Experts say the findings show aspirin's benefits often outweighed its associated risk of causing bleeding.

Aspirin is already known to cut the risk of heart attack and stroke among those at increased risk. But the protective effects against cardiovascular disease are thought to be small for healthy adults, and aspirin increases the risks of stomach and gut bleeds.

However, this latest research shows that when weighing up the risks and benefits of taking aspirin, experts should also consider its protective effect against cancer.

Those patients who were given aspirin had a 25% lower risk of death from cancer during the trial period and a 10% reduction in death from any cause compared to patients who were not given the drug.

via BBC News - Small daily aspirin dose 'cuts cancer risk'.

Further losing my hearing isn't worth the risk to me.  I'll take daily exercise.  Have you heard that aspirin may work by killing a fungus? Something else natural that reduces mycotoxins (like honey, yes honey) may have the same benefit without the risks. Perhaps one reason is that honey contains, among many other things, salicylic acid, a compound that is chemically similar to but not identical to the active component of asprin. Salicylic acid does cause hearing loss in rats, but not if they have enough zinc.  Interesting. I wonder if zinc will help the ringing in my ears.

NOTE: Never give honey to a child under a year old. "About 10 percent of honey contains dormant Clostridium botulinum spores, which can cause botulism in infants." (link)

... Is there a down side to this [aspirin] success story? The answer lies in the many well-documented — but poorly reported — side effects of the drug, both short and long term.


• Bleeding Gastrointestinal Irritation (heartburn, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, inflammatory bowel disease)
• Increased gastric permeability and altered immunity
• Gastrointestinal hemorrhage (ulcers): A Searle news release noted that GI complications caused by NSAIDs remain one of the most prevalent drug toxicities in the nation — leading to approximately 76,000 hospitalizations and 7,600 deaths annually — a mortality rate comparable to that of asthma, cervical cancer, or melanoma (skin cancer).
• Hemorrhagic stroke: heavy doses of 325-milligram adult aspirin (for example 15 or more tablets a week), can double the risk of hemorrhagic stroke. Older women with high blood pressure, taking large doses of aspirin, can triple their risk of hemorrhagic stroke; in elderly patients with atrial fibrillation, the benefit of prophylactic aspirin to prevent strokes is unproven.
• Aspirin can prolong pregnancy and childbirth and lead to bleeding in both baby and mother.
• Susceptible regular aspirin or acetaminophen users are two to three times more likely to have the beginning stages of chronic kidney failure, compared with individuals who did not use these painkillers on a regular basis. About 15% of the people on dialysis today are there as a result of the damage that Tylenol and/or aspirin did to their kidneys.
• Both aspirin and acetaminophen may also be associated with diverticular disease of the colon.
• Asthma
• People who are taking aspirin in combination with the blood-pressure-lowering ACE inhibitor drugs after angioplasty may be at risk for a dangerous drug interaction and a three-fold increase in risk of death.
• Prolonged aspirin use may raise risks for cataracts; the long-term (more than 10 years) use of aspirin is associated with a 44% higher increase of posterior subcapsular cataracts, compared with nonusers or short-term users of the drug. Posterior subcapsular cataracts are the most common and most disabling form of cataract. This aspirin-related risk is larger among younger (under 65 years of age) individuals compared with older subjects. (Ophthalmology 1998; 105:1751-1758).
• Chronic rhinitis and nasal polyps: aspirin sensitivity sinusitis may cause long-term facial pain, headaches and a loss of smell.
• Hives (urticaria)
• Hyperactivity
• Reye’s Syndrome in children; aspirin is the leading cause of poisoning in young children.
• Ringing in the ears (tinnitus)
• Hearing loss
• Vertigo
• Mental confusion
• Drowsiness
• Excessive sweating and thirst
• Inhibition of cartilage repair and accelerated cartilage destruction ...

There are some researchers and clinicians who have been able to demonstrate a direct link between the presence of fungi in the body and cardiovascular disease of all kinds. This is known as the “fungal mycotoxin etiology of atherosclerosis” and has been promoted by Dr. Costantini and other researchers working for the World Health Organization. According to these doctors, aspirin is an antifungal drug which can go a long way towards offsetting the negative effects of fungi and their mycotoxins. They believe that it is this antifungal property of aspirin which prevents heart disease, stroke and cancer — diseases all suspected to have a fungal mycotoxin etiology. Dandruff, a scalp condition caused by fungi, often responds well to shampoos containing aspirin or salicylate derivatives.  ...

via VitalityMag

WikiLeaks Ready to Release Giant 'Insurance' File if Shut Down

In this Oct. 23, 2010 file photo, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, speaks during a news conference in London.  (AP)Julian Assange, the WikiLeaks founder, has circulated across the internet an encrypted “poison pill” cache of uncensored documents suspected to include files on BP and Guantanamo Bay.

One of the files identified this weekend by The Sunday Times — called the “insurance” file — has been downloaded from the WikiLeaks website by tens of thousands of supporters, from America to Australia.

Assange warns that any government that tries to curtail his activities risks triggering a new deluge of state and commercial secrets.

The military papers on Guantanamo Bay, yet to be published, have been supplied by Bradley Manning, Assange’s primary source until his arrest in May. Other documents that Assange is confirmed to possess include an aerial video of a U.S. airstrike in Afghanistan that killed civilians, BP files and Bank of America documents.

One of the key files available for download — named insurance.aes256 — appears to be encrypted with a 256-digit key. Experts said last week it was virtually unbreakable.

The U.S. Department of Defense says it is aware of the WikiLeaks insurance file, but has been unable to establish its contents. It has been available for download since July.

Assange has warned he can divulge the classified documents in the insurance file and similar backups if he is detained or the WikiLeaks website is permanently removed from the internet. He has suggested the contents are unredacted, posing a possible security risk for coalition partners around the world.

Assange warned: “We have over a long period of time distributed encrypted backups of material we have yet to release. All we have to do is release the password to that material, and it is instantly available.”

The “doomsday files” are part of a contingency plan drawn up by Assange and his supporters as they face a legal threat.

via - WikiLeaks Ready to Release Giant 'Insurance' File if Shut Down.

The file's size on disk: 1.38 GB (1,491,836,928 bytes). Could be anything... Gitmo, Roswell, UFOs, aliens, the secret formula for free energy...