Tuesday, November 01, 2005

knit dna, nasa penis monster, musical PEZ, sony rootkits

On the list of still more stupid shit to knit, you can knit DNA.

And you can do it while watching the NASA penis monster.

And a stay-at-home-dad designs, builds, and markets a MP3 player in the shape of a PEZ dispenser.

And Sony distributes a rootkit as part of their "copy protected" CDs. A horrible fuckup on their part. If you hate viruses, worms, and spyware, the word " rootkit" should scare the shit out of you. (Speaking of which, there's an AIM worm that is distributing itself with a rootkit.) Anyway, if your system is compromised by this worm disguised as DRM, you'll be able to create files or directories starting with "$sys$" and it'll be completely invisible to everything else in the system, including virus scanners.

I'm thinking of making directories like "$sys$nastyporn" or "$sys$worlddominationplans".

So we all need yet another security tool along with virus scanners, popup blockers, and spyware removal: rootkit revealer. While it's theoretically possible to design a rootkit to be invisible to rootkit revealer, it's likely to be an arms race and the people at SysInternals have a vested interest (profits) to stay on top of it.

This opens up the same question that I've been wondering ever since Skype was bought out by Ebay: If a high-security software program comes under the jurisdiction of the US Justice Department, will they strong-arm those companies into putting secret spy shit in? I, for one, no longer have that fuzzy feeling of security and warmth that I get by using Skype for secure communications any more. Is the same on the horizon for rootkits? Will the government mandate that SysInternals' Rootkit Revealer be made to ignore government written rootkits?

This bothers me because the feds did strong-arm virus scanners and spyware removal programs into ignoring their own spyware as installed by court order. And they strong-armed cell-phone chip manufacturers into including secret features that allow listening on the mic of cell-phones without alerting the customer.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Monday, October 17, 2005

The end of Skype

Skype, currently the easiest way to have encrypted phone calls with your terror^H^H^H^H^H^Hpolitically active friends is now owned by Ebay. Why? Who the hell knows, but it's a sad story that the product is now under the influence of the Justice Department, who will undoubtedly try to force Ebay to give them access to people's private conversations.

Because it's easier than doing honest police work. Lazy cowards.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

First extinct species to be recreated: Tasmanian Tiger

If this catches on, the entire argument of the endangered species act is on thin ice. If 70 year old pickled tissue samples can be cloned, then wholesale tissue banking of endangered species around the world can begin, along with hundreds of stalled public works and development projects.

In fact this could spell the doom of the environmental protection movement altogether -- after all, if we can recreate it at will, why go to great effort to preserve it in-situ?

Tissue banking can be categorized as a "safety net"; demise of the environmental protection movement can be categorized as " moral hazard" or "unintended consequence".

People not meant to live in space: proof.

Evidence of Intelligent Design, anyway. It seems that God put in safeguards to keep us from leaving the planet until we understood genetic engineering inside out.

By implication, it seems that God is giving us permission to genetically engineer (and by implication clone) ourselves, otherwise why would he invent rocket ships through our scientists? Too cool.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Stand Your Ground

I heard on the radio (NPR) that Florida has finally had the common sense to remove the "first you have to try to run away" requirement from personal self-defense. They're calling it the "Stand Your Ground" law. The Brady Bunch (a term used on the air no less) are mounting a crybaby campaign to "warn" tourists that Floridians are inherrently dangerous and should always be treated politely because this law plus the governor encouraging everyone who qualifies to get a concealed carry permit makes it likely you'll get shot if you speak loudly and stuff.

Just hilarious. In the midst of their whining about the "undue" influence of the NRA, they are literally making the NRA's point for them. Or was it Heinlein's point? (sometimes i forget)

In any case, from a practical point of view, it is counterproductive to require that you display a prey behavior (running away/escaping) to your preditor before you're allowed to defend yourself -- it only cements the the nature of the nacent preditor/prey relationship making it far more likely that the would-be preditor become one for real. The idea is to present a strong enough return threat to make the would-be preditor look for other prey as early into the relationship as possible.


Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Cool LCD tech

Sharp announced a new LCD technology. I've never seen it, nor in fact do I know anything at all about it, but I figure that anything that is "premium", "advanced", "super", and "mega" all at the same time has got to be worth every penny.

"Mega-Contrast" Advanced Super View Premium LCD

Friday, September 30, 2005

Boobies: Baring it all for breast cancer.

Again we see a return to the theme of showing your boobies to the public in support of a cause.

I call for more causes like this. Hell, I might even create some societal injustices just to get things going.

I've decided to get a hybrid car.

I've even picked out the model. It was tough going to find one that approached my horsepower requirements, but this one does everything I want (except deliver handjobs on the freeway, which mysteriously isn't showing up on any product feature lists anywhere.)

Calorie restriction and long life (again).

Some guys identify a second gene associated with life extension effects of calorie restriction. This doesn't mean much except that they will probably be able to duplicate the effect without starving people.

I can't wait to see what happens when all this stuff is fully decoded. I predict: 1) they WILL solve aging completely within most of our lifetimes, 2) there will be an attempt to limit the distribution in order to keep the world's population down, and 3) we will see the bloodiest wars ever as a direct or indirect result (I'm guessing direct).

Not to be negative or anything.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Words can change the way things smell.

Apparently the mere suggestion of a word can change the connotation of smells from "unpleasant" to "pleasant". This suggests that smells are basically agnostic and that we're trained to recognize whether they're "good" or "bad".

No word on whether subliminal suggestions can make a pussy smell good. All you girls could try an experiment, though. Next time he's down there say stuff like "buy a Mustang GT" or "you can have the whole garage for a workshop and I'll park the car in the driveway". If it leads to more pussy eating, you might just find that you don't mind walking through the snow to get to the car.

Study: Training improves attention in kids.

A new study from the University of Oregon shows that a short training course can improve the attention skills of little kids.

It's kind of like some parents have been saying for years: "Don't drug our kids, teach them."

Don't forget to join the campaign to change school district terminology from "Little Johnny appears to have improved attention on the medication," to "Little Johnny displays behavior similar to the focus-trance of a meth addict".

More naked PETA girls.

As idiotic as PETA is, you just gotta love their campaign of getting naked in public.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Fwd: New avenues to exploit animals: Cows Generate Electricity!

In a crushing blow to PETA, researcher generates electricity from cows.

Ok, I admit to being misleading here, it's bacteria from cow shit that's due to be exploited. Perhaps they'll rename themselves "SHITA".

Plant Superiority

As has been suggested before, I hold plants in higher regard than most humans. I offer proof: they can repair their own sunburns.

When added to the existence of beer (made from plants of course), the evidence is compelling.

Advances in mindwipe technology: memory-related drug cravings.

Basic science on the nature of memory and brain reward mechanisms provide for important clues on how to design the perfect mindwipe procedure for our nation's criminals. Soon, we'll be able to change them all into the people we'd have them be and they'll like it!

These guys will be invited to join my administration after the revolution.

Treatment to block memory-related drug cravings

[...] a study led by John F. Marshall, a researcher in UCI's Center for the Neurobiology of Learning and Memory, shows that memory for places associated with cocaine use can be strikingly altered by inactivating a specific protein called ERK (extracellular signal-regulated kinase) in the brains of animals. [...]

Sunday, September 11, 2005


No, not remote crapping, but an answering machine that intercepts telemarketers and holds virtual conversations with them.

Although this is a great idea, I have a feeling that it will escalate the war of technology and we'll soon face computerized telemarketers that can't be distinguished from human ones. This puts the entire telemarketer job market at risk! We need a LAW or SOMETHING!

Seriously, though, I predict that we really don't need spam on our telephone system.

From Make:

"Are you tired of answering the phone only to find a telemarketer on the other end and wish you could make them as angry as you feel? Now you can build your own answering system that carries on a virtual conversation with the telemarketer and drives them nuts. The Telecrapper 2000 (TC2K) is a computerized system designed to both intercept incoming Telemarketing calls on the first ring, and then carry on a virtual conversation with the telemarketer. The site also features phone calls the device has carried out with telemarketers. Thanks Jay! Link. "

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Study: Most Scientific Papers are Wrong

This is precious: "Assuming that the new paper is itself correct". If I was a girl, I'd <giggle>.(Nah, on second thought, I wouldn't.) The source of this paper though reveals the level of trust held in the hearts of the medical community.

Most scientific papers are probably wrong

Most published scientific research papers are wrong, according to a new analysis. Assuming that the new paper is itself correct, problems with experimental and statistical methods mean that there is less than a 50% chance that the results of any randomly chosen scientific paper are true.

John Ioannidis, an epidemiologist at the University of Ioannina School of Medicine in Greece, says that small sample sizes, poor study design, researcher bias, and selective reporting and other problems combine to make most research findings false. But even large, well-designed studies are not always right, meaning that scientists and the public have to be wary of reported findings.

"We should accept that most research findings will be refuted. Some will be replicated and validated. The replication process is more important than the first discovery," Ioannidis says.

In the paper, Ioannidis does not show that any particular findings are false. Instead, he shows statistically how the many obstacles to getting research findings right combine to make most published research wrong.

Massaged conclusions

Traditionally a study is said to be "statistically significant" if the odds are only 1 in 20 that the result could be pure chance. But in a complicated field where there are many potential hypotheses to sift through - such as whether a particular gene influences a particular disease - it is easy to reach false conclusions using this standard. If you test 20 false hypotheses, one of them is likely to show up as true, on average.

Odds get even worse for studies that are too small, studies that find small effects (for example, a drug that works for only 10% of patients), or studies where the protocol and endpoints are poorly defined, allowing researchers to massage their conclusions after the fact.

Surprisingly, Ioannidis says another predictor of false findings is if a field is "hot", with many teams feeling pressure to beat the others to statistically significant findings.

But Solomon Snyder, senior editor at the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, and a neuroscientist at Johns Hopkins Medical School in Baltimore, US, says most working scientists understand the limitations of published research.

"When I read the literature, I'm not reading it to find proof like a textbook. I'm reading to get ideas. So even if something is wrong with the paper, if they have the kernel of a novel idea, that's something to think about," he says.

Journal reference: Public Library of Science Medicine (DOI: 10.1371/journal.pmed.0020124)

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Laser Guided Slingshot (no, really)

Just in case you've missed my reference to my new favorite website, click here. In any case, they recently pointed to a laser guided slingshot, complete with videos that show that even a girl can work it.

The interesting thing is that the concept isn't that difficult. The unit depends on a pivot between the handle and the fork which floats in the tension of the bands. A second joint at the top of the fork tracks the up/down angle of the pouch. It also depends on balancing the elastic (if one is stretchier, then the laser won't track) and the trajectory being flat (it doesn't allow for distance drop).

Now I ask, how hard could it be to make one of these in the basement?

To ease your minds, I am not considering anything like explosive shot, infrared lasers and night-vision goggles to see the infrared spots with. That would be nefarious.

Gay stuff!

Study finds that bisexual men are self-deluded and are really either homosexual or heterosexual and that some weird social meme has programmed them to want to be bisexual. Probably for the "richness of experience" or some shit like that.

Me, I'll wait untill my brain gets transplanted into a girl. Since I'm leaving strict instructions to only install my intellect in a hot chick, I'll probably be attracted to myself and end up founding the autosexual movement.

If I ever find time.

Mind Numbed Democrats

Someone sent me this link. with instruction to click on " Greatest Movie Line Ever".

It's very amusing.

But... I really don't think badly of all Democrats. Some of them are well meaning and stuff. I just think they're all rooted in a basic philosophy that has no Darwinian edge, i.e. cooperation for it's own sake, or for the sake of advancing humanity as a whole. You just can't wrap a selective advantage around that except in an unworkable abstract or multi-generational context.

Cooperative behaviors work fantastically well in terms of common defense (in a tribal warfare context and herd protective context). They also work excellently for hunting since packs are more successful than lone hunters. And according to sociologists, human cooperative behaviors developed from both hunting and tribal warfare contexts.

Unfortunately, the cooperation-for-the-simple-pleasure-of-empathy-and-sweet-altruism movement in humans is likely to dissolve over the next several generations because there's no genetic benefit to such behaviors, certainly not in today's world where we are increasingly isolated from the very forces that drove us together in the first place (hunting and tribal warfare). Isn't the ultimate in compassion for gia to abstain from having kids, thus saving a marginal part of the planet's resources? Like it or not we're all still participating in natural selection as viewed from outside the system and any behavior that doesn't lead to advancing the gene line is likely to be bred out.

Ok, sure, it's a rotten damned shame that some people live in squalor (or at least what passes for squalor in the US these days -- deprivation of cable TV and steak dinners). Makes me feel bad to see suffering too. But it doesn't compel me to whip out a $100 bill and light it on fire, so I'll damned well check out the recipient of my charity first. I don't trust the government to do that for me because they demonstrably suck at it.

And in the end, we have bigger issues to deal with. Technological development is dragging the world out of poverty and is even encouraging large numbers of people to not have kids, levelling off population growth. (But who? Reference the ancient onion article about morons breeding at 2 times the rate of smart people.) What we have to worry about is the growth of personal power. I can easily project a scenario where exponential technology growth puts the power of life itself in everyone's hands via various basement vats and stuff, to say nothing of being able to program a bunch of nanobots to crawl around in the soil under your house, seeking out fissionable materials, then coming together in a pre-programmed design configuration to go boom.

This isn't a fantasy scenario thousands of years off, it's hundreds of years off tops, and some of us may live to see it.

Save the planet? Bah. Save the solar system. Save the Milky Way. I'm starting to think that it might not be such a good idea to let every human carry around the power of a god. There's only so much that my generosity will stand.

Sorry, was this about petty human politics again?

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Frist: Kitten Killer Extrordinaire

This page of political whinery leads to a page about Frist the cat killer.

Suddenly tears come to my eyes imagining how many cats had to suffer and die so that I could reduce the time of cold-suffering by 3 days or cure the zits on my ass.

Thank you, poor martyred pussies, thank you. Your sacrifice is not unremembered.

Monday, August 22, 2005

And just because I feel like it, have a nostalgic look this classic foto. I need me a mullet like that one.

Star Trek done better.

Save that expensive air conditioning. This door works like the ST sliding doors, except broken into little slats that outline your body as you walk through it. Further proof of inherent Japanese superiority, if you ask me.

Or maybe they're just cheap like me.


This post has convinced me to register as a brain donor. Tom has once again moved my politics toward the left.

As you can all now see, I am not unbending.

On 8/22/05, Tom wrote:
Suppose that my spleen is 1% of my body weight. I die, and there is somebody else who, for his own reasons, is prepared to host my spleen for 120 months. The way I figure it, I just picked up 1.2 months of life. Regards, Tom

Update: I've been asked, "What if they put your brain in a girl? Will your spelling improve?"

My answer is that they damned well know that if they did that I'd never get any work at all done, so I doubt they'll do it. And I never much cared if my spelling was ok so I doubt I'd notice if it got better.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Dick size PSA.

Regarding penis measurements:

The only measure that makes any sense is one that measures the amount that would reasonably be expected to be inside a woman's vagina at the critical time. Normally, pubic bone to pubic bone would be considered the limit, and presumably there's enough force in the thrustage to compress any fatty tissue layers between the exposed skin and the hard limit (the pubic bone.)

Given that, the effective measure would be the length along the top to the skin, plus the compression factor of the skin of *both* parties. Given that the intersection of the penis with the planar bound of the opening is likely NOT to be perpendicular to the shaft but angles downward toward the nuts, the actual volume displacement would be somewhat more than if the plane intersection was perpendicular, which would add a bit of the normally unmeasured parts.

But these adjustments are constants, and thusly shouldn't be included in the measurement. The skin compression, though could possibly vary from man to man, assuming the same woman, so that constant should be included in the measurement.

A minor example of Canadians not getting the point.

Bill would let police monitor your e-mail
Judge's permission would not be needed
Tim Naumetz
CanWest News Service

OTTAWA - The federal cabinet will review new legislation this fall that would give police and security agencies vast powers to begin surveillance of the Internet without court authority.

The new measures would allow law-enforcement agents to intercept personal e-mails, text messages and possibly even password-secure websites used for purchasing and financial transactions.


Saturday, August 20, 2005

Japanese progress to inventing the new slave race.

I'm not sure why the fascination in Japan about creating robots that look like humans. Maybe they're trying to create a slave population without guilt. Maybe it settles some deep-seated human emotional desire to be on top of the hierarchy -- this way nobody has to be at the bottom.

Anyway, this 13Meg video shows the latest motion control technology. It's uncannily real -- I thought at first they motion captured some guy doing it.

And just to settle your fears, I in no way intend to download their motion control algorithms into my nanobot army. And I would never think of using existing living cells as a template to create nanobots with either.

Come to think of it, I think I'll let the Japanese keep their cute-humanoid-robot-standing-up-from-a-fallen-position control algorithms because in a fight I don't think they'll stand a chance against my insect-like designs.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Corn Flower

This has no purpose but to show a picture of an ear of corn without the "ear" gene. Nifty.

The perfect life form.

I believe I've found my target lifeform. A simple bacteria that basically wins the evolutionary race by having a perfectly compact genome. I think I'm going to use this one to construct my nanobot army from. Then starts the revolution.

Microbe has huge role in ocean life, carbon cycle

Researchers at Oregon State University and Diversa Corporation have discovered that the smallest free-living cell known also has the smallest genome, or genetic structure, of any independent cell - and yet it dominates life in the oceans, thrives where most other cells would die, and plays a huge role in the cycling of carbon on Earth.

In nature, apparently, bigger is not always better.

In a publication today in the journal Science, scientists outlined the growing knowledge about SAR11, a group of bacteria so dominant that their combined weight exceeds that of all the fish in the world's oceans. In a marine environment that's low in nutrients and other resources, they are able to survive and replicate in extraordinary numbers – a milliliter of sea water off the Oregon coast might contain 500,000 of these cells.


emotional overload

How much more emotionally loaded could an issue be? First you have poor little burned kids disfigured for life, then you have these gallant fetals giving up their fetal skin for their older brothers in an act of, well, gallantry. It's almost as if someone were trying to craft an issue to start a fight. Whoever this mastermind is will have a place in my administration, so speak up now!

Fetal Skin Cells Treat Paediatric Burns

Swiss researchers have used skin constructed from fetal skin cells to treat eight children with burns, reporting their results in paper published online by The Lancet today (Thursday August 18, 2005).

Skin grafting, where a patch of skin is surgically removed from one area of the body and transplanted to another one, is the gold standard for treatment of deep second and third degree burns. However, bioengineered skin products are also needed to facilitate this two-step surgical procedure.

Patrick Hohlfeld (University Hospital of Lausanne, Switzerland) and colleagues developed a bank of fetal skin cells from one 4 cm2 donation of fetal skin. A woman whose pregnancy was terminated at 14-weeks gave written informed consent for doctors to take a skin biopsy from her fetus. The authors note that several million skin constructs (9x12 cm) suitable for therapeutic use could be produced from the single organ donation. The team recruited eight children with burns onto the study that were candidates for traditional skin grafting. The team placed fetal skin cell constructs on the children's lesions and bandaged them. They changed their dressings every 3–4 days for 3 weeks. The researchers found that all the children had their wounds closed at just over 2 weeks and no child needed traditional grafting because the fetal constructs closed their wounds alone.

Professor Hohlfeld concludes: "We have shown that fetal skin is a substitute for biological skin that can provide burned patients with a very high quality of skin in a short time with no additional grafting techniques . . . In view of the therapeutic effects of this technique along with the simplicity in application, fetal skin cells could have great potential in tissue engineering."

Monday, August 15, 2005

Piss on This

The big application for the piss battery is field urine tests that power themselves. It's kind of hard to warm up to that, but the mere concept of a battery that runs on piss earns this developer an A+.

Pee-powered battery smaller than a credit card

Friday, August 12, 2005

Unintelligent Design revisited

Recreational drugs being developed with no side effects.

Now this one is a complete shocker. All along I've been under the impression that taking a drug is OK as long as it doesn't produce "euphoria", such as caffene or nicotine. I'm guessing that alcohol is grandfathered in, but they're working on getting drunk without hangovers too. Well slap me upside the head, but these guys are actively developing feel-good dope that's presumably safe for you.

Note that they include "direct neural stimulation". Just what the hell is going on over there in the UK? Researching ways to make people more stoned so they won't bitch too much when the government takes all their stuff and make them work in little slave camps?

I'm giving these guys an A+ for their efforts to further my world domination plans.

(I really like when they refer to the operaters of illegal drug labs as "informal developers".)

Coming Soon: the Recreational Drug With No Side-Effects

It is the news that clubbers have been waiting for. Scientists are working on a range of recreational drugs that can produce similar effects to alcohol but with fewer of the side-effects.

Experts looked 20 years into the future to discover what kind of drugs we would be taking, and came up with a surprising range of findings, that open up the prospect of Sunday mornings without a thumping hangover or the 'parrot's cage' mouth.

They have also been able to separate the effect of one psychoactive substance from its addictive properties, leading an expert panel to advise Government ministers that 'this could pave the way to non-addictive recreational drugs'.

One of the new substances has even been found to reduce the side effects of recreational drugs. 'Such compounds might allow users to shape their drug experience,' said the panel headed by Sir David King, the Government's chief scientific adviser.

His report to the Trade and Industry Secretary, Alan Johnson, raises the possibility that, in a generation, Britain's dinner parties could become more like Woody Allen's 'orb' scene in the futuristic film Sleeper, where guests get high by rubbing the orb instead of inhaling a joint.

The report said: 'There are a number of new and developing technologies that could be used to deliver drugs in new ways. Examples include patches, vaporisers, depot injection and direct neural stimulation ... this may encourage the development of technology for the slower release of recreational psychoactive substances, which could reduce the risk of addiction.'

Some drugs developed to tackle health problems are capable of being used for improving the performance of the brain. Madafinil, which was introduced to treat narcolepsy, can keep normal people awake for three days, says the report.

Other drugs could be used to stop alcohol triggering a need for a cigarette. 'Drinking with friends might no longer create a trigger for an individual to smoke tobacco,' the panel said.

Illicit laboratories that have supplied the black market with drugs for years may also accidentally discover drugs that could help sufferers from degenerative diseases in old age. 'Perhaps the next major breakthrough in treatments for Parkinson's or Alzheimer's, may come from some informal developer seeking to find the next rush,' says the report.

However, the report could give ministers a hangover. It raises questions that they would prefer to be swept under the carpet.

In addition to raising the possibility that new drugs could remove the nasty side-effects of recreational drugs, it raises taboo subjects such as whether in future, prohibition is the right way to stop young people using drugs such as ecstasy.

It says an early warning of new drugs on the scene is essential in order to manage their use. 'Such insights could play a key role in limiting the harm of any new recreational substances. It might also become apparent that some psychoactive substances are less harmful. Their use might be encouraged to replace more harmful ones.'

Such a move would require a change in the drug laws because such drugs would be illegal. Sir David says in a foreword to the report: 'We are on the verge of developments which could possibly move us into a world where we could take a drug to help us learn, think faster, relax, sleep more efficiently or even subtly alter our mood to match that of our friends.'

The expert team ran a number of different workshops with members of the public to find out their views on how society would react to new drugs, and also did extensive scientific reviews. They also looked into the prospect of medical advances for tackling mental illnesses " such as clinical depression " by incorporating drugs in food.

Source: Independent, The; London (UK)

Thursday, August 11, 2005

"Intelligent" Design

I'm annoyed at the phrase itself to say nothing of the people pushing the idea as having some sort of validity. If there was an intelligence behind the mishmash collection of "features" and barely working crap in human bodies (or any creature for that matter), it was a mean bastard or just plain incompetent. My list starts with putting fun bits in the vicinity of excrement, moves on to piss poor mechanical design of several joints (notably ankles, lower back, and knees), and ends up where people get old and die (although there is an argument for the dying thing, there's no excuse for the slow falling apart.)

My new LED flashlight.

I was wandering through a Meijer store (similar to a Super Walmart in concept except they've been doing it for 40 years longer) at lunch time looking for good stuff being clearanced out of the seasonal section (camping) and ran across this flashlight. Packaging said that the LED is 1 Watt and brighter than a krypton flashlight bulb. I didn't really believe it, but a 1 Watt LED is way cool (non-engineers won't understand this), so I bought the silly thing for $30, just in case they weren't lying.

I installed the batteries and turned it on while looking at it and immediately looked away. Once the spot in my retina faded, I went online to find exactly who made this wonderful LED that is indeed brighter than a krypton bulb and found that they are made by a company known as Luxeon. Luxeon claims that their high power LEDs are the brightest in the world. Although I don't think their electrical to optical conversion efficiency is the best available, the spots on my retina told me that their claim to being the brightest might well be true.

Then I decided to test the claim that the 3 AAA batteries could power the thing for a solid 30 hours. Again, it worked perfectly, lasting 36 hours on three teeny tiny batteries. Just try to do that with a 3 D-cell Surefire with a krypton bulb. (To be fair, Surefire also has a line of kick-ass LED flashlights, but none for 30 bucks.)

In the world of cool gadgets, this one is great. The engineering quality is very good (the only design changes I'd make is to use the side-emitting LED and put a focus mechanism on the reflector), and it actually looks good too. So I took it home to show it to my non-engineer wife who would then presumably get all excited and help me get rid of my massive erection.

Blink. Yawn.

Yup. That plan worked better and much faster than I expected. So I went to the freezer and got an ice cream sandwich and watched the latest episode of Tripping the Rift on the TiVo.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Imaging my backyard.

Interesting quote from that judge: "Like it or not, I live in a society that accepts virtual strip searches at airports; surveillance cameras; "discount" cards that record my buying habits; bar codes; "cookies" and spywear on my computer; on-line access to satellite technology that can image my back yard; and microchip radio frequency identification devices already implanted in the family dog and soon to be integrated into my groceries, my credit cards, my cash and my new underwear."

This caused me to think, "HEY! The high-res urban areas USGS imagry accessible in Worldwind, Terraserver, and Keystone can make out people."

So if anyone knows of any nude beaches in any of those cities, please forward me the co-ordinates.

It's OK for Montana cops to rummage through your trash for the hell of it.

A recent Montana Supreme Court ruling says that it's OK for cops to rummage through your trash as it's put out for pickup because you don't have a reasonable expectation for privacy (this is horseshit for a number of reasons). To his credit, one of the judges did so reluctantly:

Montana Supreme Court justice warns Orwell's 1984 has arrived

In any case, in the spirit of fairness, a local newspaper has taken it upon themselves to rummage through the trash of the chief of police and mayor who started the whole thing.

Local paper digs through police trash -- after cops say it's OK for them to do

But apparently they aren't taking too kindly to it. Maybe they think that by being law enforcement they get some kind of special privileges or something.

I don't know about you, but I view this with the same level of hilarity as I viewed it when they (collectively law enforcement peoples) lobbied for the domestic violence bill banning people from owning guns if so convicted and suddenly found out that they weren't special then either, resulting in huge numbers of cops getting fired.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Bacteria making nanowires.

I constantly amaze myself with my predictive powers. I said that we'd be soon making bacteria that will manufacture carbon nanotubes for us. Well these guys found a bacteria already doing it and identified the gene responsible. It's only a matter of time now.

And when we suddenly decide that we need carbon nanotube fiber by the ton for all it's engineering uses, we'll simply suck it out of the atmosphere using big vats of bacteria. I now predict that our current issues with carbon dioxide and global warming will reverse itself with quotas on how much carbon we can mine from the air.


Go Sequence Yourself

Follow up: 'Cheap' genome sequencing now possible

Maybe you remember the 2 million dollar "vanity" genome sequencing. Well, it turns out that the actual equipment necessary to completely sequence your own genome is about $140K -- probably WAY cheaper using used equipment from university auctions. The remaining is to pay the salary of the researchers. That sounds like 15 PhD-years but in reality, it's probably more like 1 labworker-year and 14 paper-writing-speech-giving-feather-fluffing-years.

Really, the government doesn't even have control of meth labs. If they think they have problems now, just wait another 10 years.

I might just put the entire procedure into wikipedia just to see what happens.

Monday, August 08, 2005

hydrogen from sunlight advances(?)

If you drill into the DOE website, you'll find a bunch of stuff pumping the idea of converting sunlight directly into hydrogen:

Basic Energy Sciences Workshop and Technical Reports | Brief ...
Basic Research for the Hydrogen Fuel Initiative  (pdf)

I thought to myself, "Hey, that'd be cool, I could use a vat of dangerous bacteria that I've custom developed in my basement in order to make all the hydrogen gas I need!" Unfortunately, not everyone has a vat of bacteria being bred for nefarious purposes, and so I was under the impression that this line of research it was a pipe dream.

Until I read this Chemist Tries to Solve World's Energy Woes. His slant isn't creating nanobot-bacteria hybrid armies to take over the world, but scouring the earth for that perfect catalyst. What. A. Man! His only shortcoming as far as I can tell is giving it away to the world for free. Unless he has some kind of backroom power-broker deal under works, I don't care how smart he is, he's still an idiot. He could guarantee wealth for his progeny for untold generations. Hell, if he made enough, he could get in on the early days research into longevity treatments and enjoy his obscene wealth and power for a good long time.

But of course, the lining of the trench coat also shows that there's big bucks in chasing DOE pipe dreams, as well:
Department of Energy Announces $64 Million in Hydrogen Research & Development Projects
Research Needs and Opportunities In Radiation Chemistry (pdf)
It's nothing like what he'd be making if he gets a patent issued (and he manages to keep it from being classified for national security).

But who knows, maybe something will come of it. Maybe if he sends me a copy of his quantum electrical model for the molecular reaction process I'd custom design a nanodot to catalyze his reaction for him.

For a price. Y'all can call it the Loki Tax when you fuel up. Feel free to call me names and shit when you send me a check.

Get Out of Jail Criteria (or Mind Wipe Procedure Verification)

Keeping people locked up serves three purposes, 1) Rehabilitation, 2) Deterrence, and 3) Social-protection (although some would argue for "Punishment", and still others would argue for Justice (vengeance)).

The bottom line is that criminals keep doing stuff that the rest of us don't like and we want them to stop. The first two speak to that end, and the third is the last resort of keeping them the hell away from us forcibly. Realistically, this very notion is at odds with our founding principles of Liberty and self-direction, making it difficult to really and truly change the criminal to suit us.

This leads to the "brain-wipe" postulate. We can simply stop dicking around with expensive counselling, job training, and education programs and simply reprogram their brains, burning out the bad stuff in the process. In each scenario, we are forcibly making the criminal change to suit us. Save time and just give him a program we can live with.

Well, lots of good doctors and researchers have hit on a potential brain-wipe technology, transcranial magnetic stimulation, where magnetic fields tweak the operation of their nervous system. (No, I don't think the unit looks like the "neural neutralizer" gizmo used on Kirk in this Star Trek episode, but that'd be cool.)

But we still need to be able to verify that said criminal is actually repentant (or properly reprogrammed). Big problem without mind reading technology.

Interestingly enough, two news stories are out last week that address that very issue! The first was a team of researchers using fMRI: 'Thoughts read' via brain scans, which was pretty cool in itself -- mapping the brain then using a MRI to figure out what circuits were firing, again using very strong magnetic fields. Heck, a smart engineer ought to be able to combine both the mind-wipe and the mind-reading functions into an integrated unit, saving the prison budget millions.

Then, in a magical moment of serendipity, I read that the Brain Region Tied to Regret Identified.

Wonders just plain never cease. When the parolee goes before the parole board, he can just be hooked up to one of these to see if he really is sorry, or is just putting on an act to get out of jail to do evil onto others again. Science comes to the rescue and takes all the guesswork out of soft, mushy human second-guessing procedures.

Or alternately, the mindwipe/reprogramming machine can just look in the right region to see if he's a "new man".

Way cool. Coming to a prosecutor's office near you (I know this because I really doubt that I'm the only person pulling this data together into an effective convict management program.)

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Private getaway.


I'm not really a privacy freak, I just want to be able do whatever the hell I want to within the confines of my own home.

Saturday, August 06, 2005

Porn is officially a good thing.

And in other news, the sun rises in the East.

Why we all need pornography

Porn fans are the driving force behind technologies that we might one day all rely on to protect our identity

THE makers of Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas are facing an investigation by the US Federal Trade Commission after it emerged that explicit sex scenes were hidden inside the popular game's software.

The discovery provoked a wave of condemnation from politicians, including an accusation by Republican congressman Fred Upton that GTA's publisher, Take-Two, had "blatantly circumvented the rules in order to peddle sexually explicit material to our youth".

But it is not the first time technology has been used to offer people a sneaky peek at sex. The "adult entertainment" industry embraced video cassettes, DVDs and the web more quickly than its mainstream counterparts because these media are tailor-made for private viewing. Consumers eager for a glimpse of skin, but afraid of being found out or of being spotted in a seedy blue-movie cinema, helped drive the demand for more of these technologies.

In the process, they are making the ...

Medical: Spit in your eye.

Local Doctors Transplant Salivary Gland Into Girl's Eye

I think it's barbaric. A civilized culture would grow clones and harvest their parts.

No. Wait, I'm told I don't mean that. A civilized culture would grow new tear ducts from cloned stem cells.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

New York Times wants technology to make information subpeona-proof.

I damned sure can't fault them for this desire. This slaps the face of those who want to railroad any vestiges of a constitutional privacy right.

It's not so simple as encrypting the data because a judge can order you to tell him the password, then you have to try to make him believe you forgot it (fat chance.) Rather, it would need to be a multi-part key which not only depends on you, but the person you're protecting.

Let's consider a customer database instead of an anonymous source (which the press has a hard time constraining). If you have sensitive information regarding a customer, you'd need the customer to give you a key in addition to your own. You could use token technology where the key changes every 60 seconds, making it impossible for you to re-open the file after it's closed back up. Various schemes exist to accomplish this now, but none is perfected yet because of certain practical concerns like sending out billing notices and such.

However, progress is being made. And that's good. I hope my own Representative (who is now a traitor to my representation) chokes on the whole wad of the Patriot Act. He loses my vote next election, which is really, really painful, too because I'm almost forced to vote for a Democrat (spoiling a 15 year streak of voting for Democrats only in sheriffs' races), and what if he's an Idiot, like a certain Michigan senator? My stomach hurts now.


Disclaimer: Debbie Stabinaw please note that I am not representing you as being an idiot in fact, rather I am expressing my own humble opinion that you're as stupid as a doorstop.

Immortality Wars

They're afraid to let us live forever because we'll breed a lot and some people will use the magic of compound interest to gain huge fortunes at the expense at everyone else.

It's kind of silly, though, because I expect that the real value of lending money is measured as a proportion of your life that you won't have access to it while it's lent out (and vice-versa). In the end, this will put interest rates (and other investment returns considered as a whole market) as a dependent of mean human lifespan.

So the immortals won't really get compounded wealth and power unless they make sure that there's a LOT of people who die young. Which means, of course, that life-extended people will find ways to just exactly that. Perhaps by instigating wars. Perhaps by killing them off directly. Perhaps by denying life extension treatments to most people. But certainly it will happen.

Denying treatments to lots of people may work for the first few decades, but it has no long term stability -- tech will eventually be available to everyone. Instigating wars have the unfortunate side effect of blowing up useful stuff too, so I expect it will eventually revert to institutionalized direct killing.

So the assumptions are 1) everyone has access to life extension technology and 2) power and wealth will depend on how long you're alive. Design the society to include lots of stuff like dangerous sports, duels-to-the-death, and ritualized suicides. Perhaps a status scheme depending on a massive competition where your access to technological interventions is dependent on how far up the duel-to-the-death ladder you make it. (I'd add a religious aspect to it for an added touch of irony, but that's just me.)

Kind of like a blood-thirsty variant of rationed health-care, where powerful people get preferential treatment (and this is true of socialized systems as well as pay-as-you-go systems).

A few hundred generations of high attrition evolution and what results? homo killedeveryoneelseius

NY Times - The Crafty Attacks on Evolution

Much thought has brought me to suggest some upgrades to the "Intelligent" Design disclaimer being foisted on some backwoods unsuspecting school districts.

The original disclaimer, "This textbook contains material on evolution. Evolution is a theory, not a fact, regarding the origin of living things. This material should be approached with an open mind, studied carefully, and critically considered," is somewhat lacking in that it doesn't clearly identify that these people don't know what the fuck they're talking about.

Here's my revision: "This textbook contains material on evolution. Evolution is a scientific theory, not a fact, regarding the origin of living things, much like the General Theory of Relativity is a scientific theory, not a fact, regarding gravity, but in contrast to Intelligent Design which is an armchair theory. This material should be approached with an open mind, studied carefully, and critically considered."

"Disclaimer: Students are strongly encouraged not to jump off the gym roof into the scrap iron bin next to the metal shop in an attempt to prove the existence of a higher power. A convenient ladder is installed so that it's easy to see what not to do."

Seriously, sometimes crap like this makes me ashamed to be associated with the conservatives. Just think how the patchwork Republican platform would coalesce into a unified whole if only they could jettison the religious nutcases.

Man, those founding fathers sure did screw up in the first amendment, it should clearly have stated that you have the right to worship any stupid-assed thing you want, and make any speech you like, but it should also have included an enumerated right to peace and quiet if you don't want to listen to them.

Make no mistake, though, religion, regardless of the claims of shrill liberals, is on the whole is still on the decline in the US. Major organized religions will continue to fragment and degenerate into regional cults and ministries, which over time will evaporate, much as it has in Europe. What those liberals should be scared to death of is a conservative movement that shuts out religion.

Or maybe they should be afraid of the death throes of the traditional institutions. Or worse yet, the New Age "thinking" that replaces it. I can see it now, the big church down the street being replaced by a bunch of homeopath "chemists" mixing ever more dilute mixtures of pure water for sale, while poking people with little needles to steer their chi into their nether regions. I'll skip the links pointing to the growth of idiot "religions" like Wicca, acupuncture, homeopathy and vitamin peddlers at the expense of traditional ones, because you can click Google too (and I'm lazy).

News on the mindwipe front: beta-blockers can wipe out bad memories.

Having been drawn into countless debates regarding the nature of our penal system and what people think it ought to be, I can't escape the conclusion that the most cost effective solution is rehabilitation...or one other thing that's also pretty darned effective at eliminating crime (criminals).

Ahem, in any case, rehabilitation essentially boils down to changing the prisoner for his own good (and ours, of course) because voluntary" programs are all full of coersion of some type.

Drug could scrub horrible memories, researchers say

Please note I am not advocating going into your medicine cabinet (or your dad's) and using thusly obtained BP meds to program/reprogram your minions.

Because that would be wrong and stuff.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Give Me That Old Time Science.

A distributed compute-engine simulation calculated a worst case temperature rise of 11C, making vast tracts of our planed uninhabitable (never mind that vast tracts of our planet are already uninhabitable). While I have absolutely no doubt that their simulations produced these results, I – unlike most of the population listening to this on the news – am fully aware of what simulations are and how they work.

It requires accurate initial conditions, accurate models, and an accurate physics engine.

So what does this mean?

As an example, a story from one of the grad students I met who was working on modeling a supernova explosion: we were chatting in the lab and I was fascinated by the process (they were running it on a Connection Machine -- a bunch of processors networked in a hypercube topology). He told me he had a physics model with over 200 parameters and the star had a fairly simple composition model, also with many parameters. He ran 4000 simulations before he got an explosion.

A climate model is an enormous undertaking.

1) You divide the planet into finite element. This is a long process, done offline where you must decide what portions of the atmosphere can be divided into 10 km voxels and what portions should be divided into 1km voxels. You then divide the surface into a grid and incorporate elevation data (which is important for prevailing winds). You divide the entire ocean into voxels.

2) You assign all the initial conditions, the density, composition, viscosity, fluid flow velocity, etc. Then you try to predict how it will change over time. There's a lot of guesswork here because you don't know what the exact composition of the ocean is or it's complete temperature profile, but you can get kind of close. Same problem with land cover – satellite data can give you percentage of plant cover, but you're really limited to visible light for absorption spectra, and you'll never know how land usage will change over time, so you project current trends. (We should all know how accurate curve fitted projections are outside the data set.)

3) You then project changes in the atmosphere due to human activity and apply adjustments throughout the run.

4) You develop physics models. Note that climate models are not the same as weather models. Weather models are HIGHLY non-linear and sensitive to initial conditions (chaotic) and can’t be used more than several days into the future before they diverge greatly. A climate model depends on long term averaging of weather chaotic behavior, taken primarily from history data. This too is difficult. We have perhaps 200 years of measured climate data, and aren't very sure about its accuracy or how it relates to worldwide surface temperatures (basically because nobody was measuring it back then.

Your physics engine becomes full of tweakable parameters. You tune it by attempting to make it behave as your (scant and full of assumptions) history data, based on initial conditions and population dynamics that are also largely guesswork.

5) You then run the simulations in Monte Carlo, varying your input parameters according to some algorithm that you also invent, and then run more simulations, varying even more parameters, in an attempt to find the most sensitive parameters, all the while hoping that you don’t get stuck in local minima. You focus on refining your most sensitive parameters and acquire more accurate data for initial conditions, while spending less time on parameters that have little effect on the outcome.

This critical process is Model Validation. You must be absolutely sure that your models accurately reflect what happens in real life to trust the simulation. For those of us who run simulations for a paycheck, the phrase is “your simulation is only as good as your model.”

From a critical eye, and being smart enough to actually understand it, I absolutely require seeing the data, the initial conditions, the parameters, and the process by which models are validated, because I know for a fact that you can make a simulation result in whatever the hell you want, using very subtle variations in sensitive parameters. I know. I've done it (in the past to get someone off my back about an issue I knew was a waste of time).

So these guys ran over 20,000 simulations (where they really need to run millions to truly validate the models and test for subtle combinations of parameters) and found the worst result out of these 20,000 simulations with different initial conditions and physics engine parameters results in the mean temperature of Earth rising 11C. You call a press conference. You get status boost at the university. You get people to give you grants to run bigger and better simulations. It's a big exciting time where everyone runs around talking with each other in heady conversation. It's WONDERFUL.

But, if you read the article, you will also see that their results varied much more widely than the results of previous investigator teams, meaning that while their worst case is really bad, their best case is really good (and this gets a lot less press because if there's no disaster, there's no excitement and no funding).

You get the attention of politicians. Poor countries LOVE global warming because that means that when the whole world starts rationing, you can sell your quota to the highest bidder (and it will be very high). So they all clamor over the Kyoto treaty and pitch it to whoever listens. Their profit motive moves them to talk the talk and run the walk and do whatever they can to assist these scientists that show the world going to hell (I really, really want to type “in a hand basket” – oops). Anyone with practical experience knows what happens to the boring results – they go into an obscure directory in the data set. The scary results end up on a Reuters feed, and everyone gets to have excited heady conversation and dynamics and stuff.

And none of this take’s into account that our technological capabilities are still growing at an exponential rate. It doesn't take into account that within mere decades, we'll be designing microbes and indeed complex organisms from scratch. Possibly we'll be designing some microbes that suck CO2 out of the air and process it into carbon nanotube fiber by the millions or even billions of tons (because that shit is a kick ASS construction material).

Truth is long before the Earth heats up enough to make the equator uninhabitable; we'll probably wipe out all life on Earth when some sociopath True Believer (TM) figures out how to design a MYDOOM virus that infects brown recluse spiders, causing them to seek out and bite evil Satanic American heretics. Then the evil Satanic American heretics in their last gasp release nanobots that seeks out True Believers (TM) and inserts a gene into their sperm stem cells that makes all of their kids pop out with blonde hair and blue eyes, thus causing them to murder all their family members in a holy rage.

So am I impressed that D. A. Stainforth, PhD got his star to explode? Not especially.

Give me an article about knockout gene mice any day and stem cells being used to cure diabetes. At least it has results that I can have confidence in.

Get back to me when these jokers show a clear path from me driving my Excursion across the street to get a pack of smokes to the extinction of the human race (ignoring for the moment that no species can stand the test of infinity (or in the case of us humans the test of the next few centuries because you can bet that whoever survives won’t resemble us much.))

Junk science pisses me off.

And I need a vacation.

Monday, January 17, 2005

For Map Freaks

Just discovered Multimap. I'm amazed I haven't found it before being the map freak that I am. Anyway, it's like mapquest, but of the whole world and without trip planning options.

Other map freaks may be interested in these two sites too:

USGS National Map Viewer. With lots of cool stuff like land usage overlays, structures, geologic features, elevation data, etc. Basically a port into the immense databases that the USGS keeps.

Status Graphics, using the same server software, indexing the availability of USGS geo-spacial data. (More of a professional index to the data in the National Map Viewer.

Finally, my favorite, which I use to take virtual vacations those three or four times a week I feel burned out, World Wind. If you're one of the geeks who spent three days straight doing Mandelbrot zooms, this is way better. There are lots of nifty overlays, but true fun in World Wind is that it incorporates elevation data so you can see landforms in 3D. Don't try this with a dialup. If you download the 1.2d patch, you can load in a Mars addon to really get away from your troubles.

Now check out Bill Gates' house. If you use World Wind, click this and it'll take you to Bill Gates' house. (Use the layer manager to turn on the high-res urban area photos.) If you can also use Teraserver link to see a flat version. His house (estate) is about 40% up from the bottom of the image, and it looks like three houses with a big dock. If you zoom out two levels and click the USGS quad images you can see what it looked like before it was built. Out another zoom level and click the USGS topo maps to see the elevation data -- its actually on a steep hill.

Sunday, January 16, 2005

The Fall

I was recently asked about the whole God and Satan thing. As I recall, Lucifer was mostly pissed that God held humans in higher regard than angels even though they had no super powers.

And then God said humans were superior even without super powers because they had free will, then Lucifer said "fuck you" (demonstrating his lack of free will in some way) and got a bunch of his buddies to start a war with the other angels, then God said "fuck you too" and banished him to another dimension.

Then God decided to make the best of the situation by using Lucifer to weed out the humans he doesn't like in some selection process so they didn't stink up Heaven with their sex pheromones.

Now aren't you glad you asked?