Saturday, December 11, 2004
Yushchenko Poisoned By Dioxin
So when you slip a megadose of dioxin into your opponent's borscht, it makes them look like an old-school Politburo hack with an IV Stolly drip and a liver the size of a suitcase!
That's like something out of a Bruce Sterling novel! posted by Gary Williams at 10:59 PM | link |
Looking At The News
I just finished looking at the news. Literally, on www.tenbyten.org.
This from the site: "Every hour, 10x10 scans the RSS feeds of several leading international news sources, and performs an elaborate process of weighted linguistic analysis on the text contained in their top news stories. After this process, conclusions are automatically drawn about the hour's most important words. The top 100 words are chosen, along with 100 corresponding images, culled from the source news stories. At the end of each day, month, and year, 10x10 looks back through its archives to conclude the top 100 words for the given time period. In this way, a constantly evolving record of our world is formed, based on prominent world events, without any human input."(www.tenbyten.org/info.html)
This is one of the most creative spins on delivering the news since the blog. In my opinion it would be worth your time to take a "look".
posted by joel at 9:58 AM | link |
Friday, December 10, 2004 via nj.com -- The Star Ledger
New J&J drug hits 'off switch' on TBCompound blocks energy for killer disease
Friday, December 10, 2004
BY KITTA MacPHERSON
For the first time in nearly 40 years, scientists have produced a drug that in lab tests appears to cure tuberculosis, a disease that is one of the world's worst killers.
The antibiotic, called R207910, was developed by a team of Johnson & Johnson scientists who worked quietly on the project for a decade in locales ranging from Raritan, N.J., to Beerse, Belgium.
They unveiled the patented work last night in an electronic edition of Science magazine. The compound, which appears to work better and faster than existing treatments, acts like a switch to cut off the energy supply of the mycobacterium that causes tuberculosis.
Fusion: Stepping closer to realityFusion reactors represent a kind of holy grail for an energy-dependent world.
Now, researchers are poised to take the next big step in evaluating the technology's commercial potential. Scientists say they are more confident than ever that they can successfully build and operate a planned experimental fusion reactor. The bigger hurdle now looks political. The six-nation project - called the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor, or ITER - is caught in a big-money squabble over where to put the $5 billion reactor. Japan and France both want the privilege.
Scientists, meanwhile, are chafing to loose the bulldozers.
'There have been dramatic advancements in our scientific understanding' over the past five to 10 years, Goldston notes. The basic conclusion: The 'fire' in the type of reactor planned for ITER may not be as finicky to control as many had previously believed.
Initial simulations had suggested that triggering and sustaining the fusion reactions might be too difficult. But 'we've made enormous steps forward,' says Anne Davies, director of the US Energy Department's Office of Fusion Energy Science. An International Atomic Energy Agency meeting last month in Portugal generated considerable excitement because experiments with test reactors around the world suggested ITER's reactor would work as designed.
via Bad Signal
What About TV's House?
Because some in my readership may not have seen it yet...There's stuff here that every Christian needs to think seriously about. Read it carefully; check the facts as far as you can and need to, and take it to God in prayer. Demand to know the truth, however uncomfortable the implications may turn out to be.
Remember: 'You shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free.' Losing a bit of skin as the manacles are wrenched off is worth enduring.
Part 1: http://www.livejournal.com/users/bradhicks/118585.html
(For those who don't have the luxury of staying home all day to read and think about this, I recommend taking it one or two parts per day.)
via Without Looking Back
Poem That Begins With An Excerpt From Bertrand Russell’s Biography And Proceeds to Paradox
… and it turned out on logical analysis that there was an affinity
with the ancient Greek contradiction about Epimedies the Cretan,
who said that all Cretans were liars. Though Crete is now divided
on the question, sipping thimbles of dark coffee at one end, ouzo
at the other. Far from Paris, where your young Greek girlfriend
screams at you on the second tier of the Eiffel Tower. Yesterday
Melina fancied a limited print propped up against the Quay
that would be perfect in the dining room of the small house
you mean to have when you’re both sure of things. Someone was juggling
on the broad concrete foyer of the Pompidou: a badminton birdie,
a bowling ball. A chainsaw would have completed the flashback
to Venice Beach where you first saw Melina walking nine dogs
Thursday, December 09, 2004 via GrandPrix.com
British GP saved
The British Grand Prix has been confirmed with a five-year deal between the British Racing Drivers' Club - owner of the Silverstone circuit - and F1 chief Bernie Ecclestone. The deal is a compromise between the two parties which will involve the teams making less money but will safeguard an important race. It does however mean that the F1 World Championship will go to 19 races in 2005 - and four of them will be within five weeks in July.
The actual date will be confirmed tomorrow by the FIA World Council but it will be July 10.
It is believed that as part of the deal the British government will give the race tax breaks.
Congress lame-duck-OKs private-spaceflight billBy Alan Boyle
Updated: 3:09 p.m. ET Dec. 9, 2004
WASHINGTON - On the verge of adjournment Wednesday, the U.S. Senate gave final congressional approval to a bill that could open the way for suborbital space tourism.
The Commercial Space Launch Amendments Act, or H.R. 5382, now goes to the White House for President Bush's signature. It would put a clear legislative stamp on regulations already being put in place by the Federal Aviation Administration — and more significantly, allow paying passengers to fly on suborbital launch vehicles at their own risk.
The age of commercial space travel got its start this summer with SpaceShipOne's first private-sector spaceflights. Since then, hundreds of would-be tourists, including William Shatner of "Star Trek" fame and "Alien" actress Sigourney Weaver, have voiced interest in taking their own suborbital space trips aboard the successors to SpaceShipOne, which may be ready for flight by 2007.
Lawmaker: Spy Project Threatens SecurityBy TED BRIDIS
The Associated Press
Wednesday, December 8, 2004; 8:50 PM
WASHINGTON - Congress' new blueprint for U.S. intelligence spending includes a mysterious and expensive spy program that drew extraordinary criticism from leading Democrats, with one saying the highly classified project is a threat to national security.
In an unusual rebuke, Sen. Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia, the senior Democrat on the Intelligence Committee, complained Wednesday that the spy project was "totally unjustified and very, very wasteful and dangerous to the national security." He called the program "stunningly expensive."
Rockefeller and three other Democratic senators - Richard Durbin of Illinois, Carl Levin of Michigan and Ron Wyden of Oregon - refused to sign the congressional compromise negotiated by others in the House and Senate that provides for future U.S. intelligence activities.
Update: via Defense Tech
ROCKY FOE: SATELLITE WEAPONS?
Sen. Jay Rockefeller put Capitol Hill -- or, at least, it's defense wonk division -- in a bit of a tizzy Wednesday, when he criticized a classified spy program as "totally unjustified and very, very wasteful and dangerous to the national security."
So the AP decided to read some tea leaves, and figure out which program Rockefeller was talking about. Their conclusion: "Almost certainly a spy satellite system, perhaps with technology to destroy potential attackers."
Rockefeller's description of the spy project as a "major funding acquisition program" suggests a price tag in the range of billions of dollars, intelligence experts said. But even expensive imagery or eavesdropping satellites - so long as they're unarmed - are rarely criticized as a danger to U.S. security, they noted.
As regular Defense Tech readers know, the Pentagon has a whole stack of projects, in varying stages of development, to strike evil-doers in space. In October, the Air Force declared operational it's radio frequency-based satellite jammer, the Counter Communications System. Back in January of 2003, the Defense Department launched its Experimental Satellite Series (XSS), which is developing pint-size orbiters, largely for offensive purposes. Recently-revealed XSS designs include a "blocker" microsat, which uses a "circular, gimbaled, opaque fan" to stop up enemy communications in space. There's also an orbiting "grabber," equipped with a mechanical arm, meant for "docking with and reorientation of enemy spacecraft." With this "grapple feature," the mini-ship will "attach itself to [an] enemy satellite, [and] benignly cause disorientation."
Satellites from hostile countries aren't the only ones which could be blocked or grabbed by the American machines. In a recent report, the Air Force declared that orbiters from neutral nations, private companies -- even weather satellites -- were all on the target list, too. posted by Gary Williams at 3:41 PM | link |
via Pharma Watch
Is this a worry?Is this a worry? Pharmaceutical companies sponsoring “decision support tools”
for diagnosing diseases like asthma. It sounds like those drug company-funded screening programs for young people with depression. Should we be letting people with a financial interest take the leading role in tacking underdignosed/undertreated conditions?
Do these schemes really help tackle untreated diseases, or are they just drumming up more business for the pill makers? posted by Gary Williams at 3:03 AM | link |
via Sky and Telescope
Planet Parade & Geminid Meteors Come in Mid-December: A Line of PlanetsFor a few days in mid-December 2004, the planets Mercury through Pluto are arranged from east to west in Earth's sky in the same order that they're positioned outward from the Sun. This situation begins when Mercury passes inferior conjunction (between the Sun and Earth) on December 10th, and it ends when Pluto leaves the evening sky on the 13th. Only the planets Venus through Saturn are observable with the unaided eye on these nights, with Uranus and Neptune visible in binoculars and telescopes. Both Mercury and Pluto are hidden in the Sun's glare.
Such a lineup is rarer than a transit of Venus. Apart from a similar brief interval in November 2002, the planets have not been arrayed in their natural order westward from the Sun since before the invention of the telescope, and they won't be again for at least four centuries.
A line of planets stretching to the east of the Sun is equally rare. This occurred in late February and March 1801, and it won't happen again until April 2333!
via whiskey river
Courage For The Most Strange'That is at bottom the only courage that is demanded of us: to have courage for the most strange, the most singular and the most inexplicable that we may encounter. That mankind has in this sense been cowardly has done life endless harm; the experiences that are called visions, the whole so-called spirit-world, death, all those things that are so closely akin to us, have by daily parrying been so crowded out of life that the senses with which we could have grasped them are atrophied. To say nothing of God.'
- Rainer Maria Rilke posted by Gary Williams at 1:15 AM | link |
Wednesday, December 08, 2004 via Kung Fu Monkey
FandamentalismRecently I linked to a Digby post, where he reported on a 5 year study on Fundamentalism. The neat kicker to this little thrill ride is that the researchers surmised that there isn't Islamic Funadamentalism, and then Christian Fundamentalism, etc., etc. There's just one, universal fundamentalist model, which is co-opted by various agendas. Like, a D20 system of intolerance.
(The excellent book I'm currently reading, Fundamentalist World by Stuart Sim, analyzes the rise of fundamentalism in various social aspects. It's a bit more about the 'how' of fundamentalism than the 'what makes it tick', but also worth your time.)
The (allegedly) universal agenda of fundamentalism consists of:
1. Men are dominant, rule the joint and make the rules.
2. All rules must apply to all people, no pluralism.
3. The rules must be precisely communicated to the next generation.
4. 'they spurn the modern, and want to return to a nostalgic vision of a golden age that never really existed.' (spiffy fascism/fundamentalism parallel made here)
5. Fundamentalists deny history in a 'radical and idiosyncratic way.'
posted by Gary Williams at 11:58 PM | link |
via Mandarin Design
Setting Up A Magazine Style Initial LetterMy friend Meg at Mandarin Design has a feature this week on using a magazine style initial big letter to feature your lead paragraph. It looks like this:
For this one we want to force the first big letter to span about five lines. The font-size is adjusted to exactly 100 pixels
While Meg's styling matches current magazine styles, it occured to me that it's very similar to the medieval caps, where they use a carved wooden block to for the initial capital. It would be easy to modify Meg's CSS code simply, like this:
or this one we want to force the first big letter to span about five lines. The font-size is adjusted to exactly 100 pixels
But that's too simple -- we can add a background image to boost up the inital cap, and -- if we use a simple grid -- still be modern and magazine-like:
or this one we want to force the first big letter to span about five lines. The font-size is adjusted to exactly 100 pixels
Here's the code you'd use to get this effect:
via ABC News
Chicken Genome Should Boost DNA Research
In their first detailed and comprehensive look at the DNA of chickens, scientists have found that 60 percent of the bird's genes have close cousins in humans. They say such analysis should prove valuable in learning more about the human genome.
A red jungle fowl is seen in this undated handout photo. Researchers have assembled the genome sequence of the Red Jungle Fowl, the ancestor of all domestic chickens. The analysis found that chickens and humans share more than half their genes. (AP Photo/Bill Payne, Michigan State University)
But as to the great mystery of why the chicken crossed the road, no answers yet.
"That question is still out there," said Richard K. Wilson of the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.
He's senior author of the chicken DNA analysis, which is presented by an international team of scientists in Thursday's issue of the journal Nature.
The chicken genome the creature's complete set of DNA is the first from a bird to be "sequenced," which means scientists identified the 1 billion letters of its DNA code. That job was completed and results made available earlier this year.
Report: NASA should send shuttle to fix Hubble, not robotBy Bloomberg News
Wednesday, December 8, 2004
NASA's plan to service the Hubble Space Telescope with a robotic device is more risky than a manned shuttle mission and would leave the orbiting observatory inoperative for a longer period, according to a report to Congress by the National Research Council.
The technology being considered for the robotic mission is unproven and the robot wouldn't be launched until 2010, well after the telescope's batteries are due to expire, the council said in the report.
Shuttle missions to the Hubble have been carried out successfully before. A shuttle flight would be as dangerous as a trip to the International Space Station, a risk that is accepted by NASA, the council said in its report, which was prepared at the request of Congress.
Tuesday, December 07, 2004 via BrykMantra -- Do you hear what I hear? (Probably not.)
The Sysadmin Price ListMy favorites: 'Calling me with a stupid question you can't quite articulate - $30;
Implying I'm incompetant because I can't interpret your inarticulate problem description - $1000 punitive damages.'
Being the only one in the office who knows half this stuff: Priceless. posted by Gary Williams at 11:46 PM | link |
via AKMA's Random Thoughts
How Would We Know
I’ve been surveying the usual suspects, web sites that comment on the present unhappy controversies in the Episcopal Church/Anglican Communion. Although I respect and sympathize with Archbishop Rowan Williams, I have the sinking feeling that his hopeful outlook may not be as well-founded as he seems to think.*
I wish I thought we Anglicans could keep together. I will be overjoyed to find that I’m wrong, and I will grieve deeply if “churches will go their different ways, even to the point of competing with one another.” What causes me unease lies in the tone of the observations I find on the various contending sites, and especially on the unwavering confidence the various speakers reflect. I’m especially uneasy when I ask myself, “How would we (or ‘they,’ however ‘we’ and ‘they’ get constructed) know if we (or ‘they’) were wrong?”
Getalongism Or The Power Of Negative ThinkingBy E.J. Dionne, Jr.
Washington Post Writers Group
In the wake of President Bush's narrow election victory there's much musing suggesting that Democrats are obligated to try to work constructively with the White House. The advocates of what we'll call Getalongism insist that Democrats will pay a price for 'obstruction' -- which, of course, is just another word for standing up against ideas they oppose.
In a world in which Democratic ideas could get the same attention and the same chance for an open vote in Congress as Bush's, such criticisms might have some bite. But that world does not exist. What is actually being demanded of Democrats is that they work with Republicans to pass programs (such as Social Security privatization) that they oppose on principle.
via The New York Times (registration required>
String Theory, at 20, Explains It All (or Not)String theory, the Italian physicist Dr. Daniele Amati once said, was a piece of 21st-century physics that had fallen by accident into the 20th century.
And, so the joke went, would require 22nd-century mathematics to solve.
Dad's Puzzle Start
Dad's Puzzle Finishvia Economist.com | Puzzles
A hard, simple problemDec 2nd 2004
From The Economist print edition
Has an inventor found the hardest possible simple sliding-block puzzle?
SLIDING-BLOCK puzzles look easy, but they can be tricky to solve. The best known is the “15 Puzzle”, which became hugely popular in the late 1870s. This involves square tiles labelled with the numbers 1 to 15, which must be arranged in the correct order inside a four-by-four frame. Another popular one, called “Dad's Puzzle”, involves moving a large square tile from one corner to another, by rearranging other, smaller tiles around it—akin to moving a piano across a cluttered room.
The best such puzzles are easy to explain, yet difficult to solve. Historically, they have been devised by trial and error. But earlier this year, Jim Lewis, an inventor based in Midland Park, New Jersey, set out to find the hardest possible “simple” puzzle, using a computer-based search.
To play Dad's Puzzle online, click here.
For a variety of online sliding block puzzles, click here. posted by Gary Williams at 4:05 AM | link |
Knitting And Felting A Catnip MouseWorking on a couple of catnip mice, which taught me how to do bobbles. Or rather, how to attempt to do bobbles, reason that the cats will only chew on them, and to leave well alone. Also learned this about hand felting cat toys:
So cat toy #2 will not be felted, just stuffed, sewn and given to the cat. They won’t care so long as it has a nice long tail, it’s all about the string for them. Both of them are made with the leftovers from the Coronet hat, Brown Sheep Lamb’s Pride worsted yarn in Raspberry. posted by Gary Williams at 1:47 AM | link |
via A Voyage To Arcturus
What Awaits Us On TitanIn Gamble of a lifetime for space odyssey to Titan, Robin McKie, Science Editor of The Observer, interviews John Zarnecki, who paints an enchanting picture:
As the probe's batteries start to fade, Huygens will drop on to Titan's surface and Zarnecki's science package will send back its data, including indications of whether the spacecraft is floating, bouncing or squelching. Zarnecki is clear about his hopes, however. He wants a splash-down, giving his team the honour of finding the second world, after Earth, with an ocean on its surface. He has also calculated that, if such seas of methane and ethane exist, they will be swept by giant, slow-moving waves - a paradise for surfers.
Indeed. Thirty-nine days and counting!" posted by Gary Williams at 1:29 AM | link |
via whiskey river
World Of Phenomena
'As for the world of phenomena, we are inclined to believe that it is illusory, separate from reality. And we think that only by ridding ourselves of it will we be able to reach the world of true mind. That is also an error. This world of birth and death, this world of lemon trees and maple trees, is the world of reality in itself. There is no reality that exists outside of the lemon and maple trees. The sea is either calm or stormy. If you want a calm sea, you cannot get it by suppressing the stormy sea. You must wait for the same sea to become calm. The world of reality is that of lemon and maple trees, of mountains and rivers. If you see it, it is present in its complete reality. If you do not, it is a world of ghosts and concepts, of birth and death.'
- Thich Nhat Hanh
Monday, December 06, 2004
Ocean 3 Previews Available Today
posted by Gary Williams at 8:03 PM | link |
Planet Swappingbased on Univ. Utah report
Computer simulations show a close encounter with a passing star about 4 billion years ago may have given our solar system its abrupt edge and put small, alien worlds into distant orbits around our sun.
The study, which used a supercomputer at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., was published in the Dec. 2 issue of the journal Nature by physicist Ben Bromley of the University of Utah and astronomer Scott Kenyon of the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory in Cambridge, Mass.
Give Up The Red States For Original Comics?
via Dave Barry at Herald.com
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