Thursday, May 31, 2007

RE: Treating astrology's claims with all due gravity

The Amazing Randi (famed pseudo-science debunker) often does an interesting classroom experiment. I saw a film of one such test.

He asked students to raise their hands when he called out their Astrology sign, and then he gave each student a sheet of paper which summarized the personally attributes of people born under their star sign.

When he finished distributing 12 sets of attributes, he asked the students to read the sheet, and if they thought the astrology reading accurately represented their personality, they should raise ther hand. Almost everyone raised ther hand.

Then he asked each student to take their sheet and pass it to the student sitting in front of them. Students at the front of the row passed their sheet to the student in the back.

After a flurry of paper passing, smiles and laughter erupted in the classroom, as each student realized that everyone had been given the same astrology "reading".

"There is a distinct difference between having an open mind, and having a hole in your head from which your brain leaks out." - James Randi

The Amazing Randi's website:

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Wednesday, May 30, 2007

The Donor Game !

Organ donor show to go on despite criticism

Tue May 29, 10:11 AM ET

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - A Dutch broadcaster will air a show this week in which a terminally ill woman selects a recipient for her kidneys from three contestants, despite government calls for the programme to be scrapped.

Newspaper De Telegraaf said BNN would broadcast The Big Donor show on Friday during which the 37-year-old woman will choose from three people with kidney problems.

She will make her choice based on the contestants' history, profile and conversations with their families and friends. Viewers will be able to send text messages advising her during the 80-minute show.

"The chance for a kidney for the contestants is 33 percent. This is much higher than that for people on a waiting list. You would expect it to be better but it is worse," the daily cited BNN Chairman Laurens Drillich as saying.

Ruling coalition parties Christian Democrat (CD) and the conservative Christian Union have called the show "wretched" and "unethical."


Imagine Chuck Barris running the show...

"Kidney Transplant Recipient Number Three... we're in a romantic restaurant. We order champagne. The Wine Steward brings us a bucket of ice. Inside is my kidney. What do you do with it?"

Fortunately, it's been revealed as a HOAX

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Tuesday, May 29, 2007

NZ cows produce own skimmed milk

Experts at a biotechnology company in New Zealand have discovered that some cows have a gene giving them a natural ability to produce skimmed milk.


Very nice. Now find the gene that produces chocolate milk.

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Interesting Cultural Differences

News Item #1

China's top drug regulator gets death sentence
Zheng convicted of accepting bribes, dereliction of duty


News Item #2

Japanese scandal-tainted minister kills himself
Death comes two months before key election test for PM's government


Meanwhile, back in America,

[August 2005]
Rep. William J. Jefferson, a member of the House of Representatives, was videotaped accepting a $100,000 bribe from Lori Mody, a Northern Virginia investor and former technology executive who was wearing an FBI wire.  During the subsequent raid on Rep. Jefferson's home, FBI agents found $90,000 in cash in $10,000 increments wrapped in foil in the Congressman's freezer.

Where is he now?  Still in office.



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Thursday, May 24, 2007

Today in History

May 24, 1844:

Samuel Morse transmitted the first telegraph message, in which he asked, "What hath God wrought?"


We now know the answer. "Text messaging."

"Do you want LIES with that?"

Business leaders want to flip 'McJob' definition

Thu May 24, 3:13 AM ET

LONDON (AFP) - Business leaders gave their support on Thursday to a campaign by fast food giant McDonald's to redefine the term "McJob" in the Oxford English Dictionary. The Oxford English Dictionary describes a McJob as "an unstimulating, low-paid job with few prospects, esp. one created by the expansion of the service sector."

They said that the entry for "McJob" should be "changed to reflect a job that is stimulating, rewarding and offers genuine opportunities for career progression and skills that last a lifetime."


McJob: "an unstimulating, low-paid job with few prospects."

It SHOULD be changed.

It should be: "A shitty, slave-wage job with zero prospects."

: Life imitates Art

True Life story from a friend of mine: 

I swear this has to be a hidden camera comedy sketch ...
I've been working out of town for six weeks and just came into the office today.  We share a floor with another IT consulting company.  On either side of the elevators we each have a reception area ... we have a receptionist.  They now have a 25" computer monitor with a camera on top and a telephone.  On the monitor is an Indian woman with a telephone ... yeah, in India ... with Indian clothes on ...
If you walk in she says hello and asks who you want to see, etc.  I understand she has 2-3 monitors on her desk and covers other offices for this company as well.
Didn't I see this on a Saturday Night Live sketch a couple months ago?  Doesn't she also answer the phone "Hello Dell support ..."  "Pizza Hut, is this for pickup or delivery ..."  "Psychic friends hotline ..."

PC Magazine's 2007 editors' choice for best Web mail—award-winning Windows Live Hotmail.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

RE: Caffeine in soap

next up: " Viagra Cream. Just rub it on, and it goes to work ! "

> soap infused with caffeine

Old punishment for children who said naughty words; eat a bar of soap.

Now what'll you do when your foul-mouthed brat is buzzing around his bedroom, cranked on caffeine?

Java Jive ?

Bar of soap gives caffeine kick in the shower

Inventors have created a soap infused with caffeine which helps users wake up in the morning.

The soap, called Shower Shock, supplies the caffeine equivalent of two cups of coffee per wash, with the stimulant absorbed naturally through the skin, manufacturers say.

"Tired of waking up and having to wait for your morning java to brew?" ask the makers



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Viagra may aid jet-lagged travelers, study shows

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The male impotence drug Viagra may be useful for treating jet lag as well, according to Argentine researchers who gave it to hamsters made to feel like rodent globe-trotteer.

Adult male hamsters given Viagra, also called sildenafil, recovered from jet lag up to 50 percent faster than hamsters that were not given it, the researchers said.


Great, just what we need.   A long line for the bathrooms so a planeload of guys can join the "mile high" club.



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Sunday, May 20, 2007

Give Bush a Brain

It's the "Give Bush a Brain" game...

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Go "No"

Headline of New Scientist article:

"Cars, Alcohol & Women Are Deadly Mix"

... and this is News ?

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Wednesday, May 16, 2007

The internet is an amazing place

I got an email from someone who visited my website:


A friend from back in PA (we all grew up in Clarion) just sent me the link to your Primates Song page.
The Red Rose Tea commercial! My god, I thought I'd never hear that again.
Are you meshugge? No - a mensch!
Trace Ordiway
eBusiness Sales Manager
Subaru of Dallas ONLINE


I replied:

Just a shot in the dark... Do you know a guy named Robert Frish? He lives in Texas and he's a Member of the Tribe, too. (Just playing Jewish Geography...)


And he replied:

Bob Frish? The attorney? Originally from NY/NJ with the rendering plant? He's my neighbor! He and my wife are best buds and on our JCC board together. Unbelievable.


I LOVE the internet...

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Friday, May 11, 2007

...and the Academy Orwell Award goes to...

News Item:

The Motion Picture Association of America announced that images of adults smoking will now be considered a factor when deciding what rating a movie should receive. Raters will now pay close attention to "depictions that glamorize smoking or movies that feature pervasive smoking outside of a historic or other mitigating context."


Next step: Breakfast scenes with cholesterol-laden eggs and whole milk will be slapped with an "R" rating, too.

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Thursday, May 10, 2007

Interesting sweater pattern

At the Maryland Sheep and Wool festival, I saw an Aran sweater with an interesting cable pattern.

First, a bit of history (From Wikipedia):

"Aran sweaters take their name from the Aran Islands of the coast of Ireland. They feature "cable knitting", which creates a 3-D textured pattern in the sweater. Think of a cable pattern as a set of serpentine or wave-like cables, each one meandering around its own center line. Aran sweaters often feature a variety of cable patterns arranged in vertical bars.

Some stitch patterns have a traditional interpretation often of religious significance. The honeycomb is a symbol of the hard-working bee. The cable, an integral part of the fisherman's daily life, is said to be a wish for safety and good luck when fishing. The diamond is a wish of success wealth and treasure. The basket stitch represents the fisherman's basket, a hope for a plentiful catch."

But there's always room for a new pattern...

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Monday, May 07, 2007

Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival

This past weekend, my wife and I drove down to the Maryland Sheep and Wool festival.
There's a road that runs through the middle of the fairgrounds.
On the left side of the road, there are sheep and lambs in pens, like this:

And on the right side of the road, is this:

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Friday, May 04, 2007

Google, the Ken Burns Effect, and Fractal Cognitive Engagement

I haven't seen this (our corporate firewall blocks video feeds) but this is from a friend of mine who finds worthwhile things. It should be interesting and or enjoyable. The title alone wins points.

From: "Mitchell Collier"

Google, the Ken Burns Effect, and Fractal Cognitive Engagement

From One Big Library, a nice screencast of why Google's interface works, in contrast to the clunky interfaces favoured by libraries (and databases such as TreeBASE).

(If you don't see the video on the webpage above, visit

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Thursday, May 03, 2007

you can't put the worms back in the can





Music made to measure from nature's proteins

Music made to measure from nature's proteins

The "notes" available are the 20 natural amino acids from which all proteins are constructed. The basic concept is simple: assign each amino acid to a different musical note, so leucine could be middle C on the piano, for example, serine could be D, and so on till all 20 have their own note.

To create a musical score based on a specific protein, simply go through the entire amino acid sequence of the protein and transcribe the amino acids into notes. is the world's leading online science and technology news service, with a global network of award-winning journalists. Visit now for constantly updated and authoritative reporting that's both fast and fascinating.

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