I emerge from my grad school cave to attempt to resume blogging. This was my favorite of the stuff that went around yesterday:
Several new robots for pets are on the horizon. Creppy videos below for:
Wow, PhD productive downtime from blogging, but I missed a chance to discuss some weird and fun stuff as it was happening. Oh well.
Congrats to Jen for getting credentialated!
There is this fun bit from someone at the UCLA Design|Media Arts group:
December managed to close out 2006 in style.
At least I have some good science to balance out yesterday's totally sucky, irritating, insane crime against humanity.
A biotech company in Canada has developed a way to harvest human insulin from genetically modified safflower oil, at dramatically reduced cost compared to the typical methods for generating insulin for diabetics. If all works as planned, they could "meet the world's total projected insulin demand in 2010 with less than 16,000 acres of safflower production." (Globe and Mail coverage)
While this is business, they are at least upfront with sound bites about wanting to expand insulin availability to the developing world...
(originally seen on /.)
from Yahoo news:
"Chocolate Factory" theme park to open in Amsterdam
Thu Jun 29, 9:46 AM ET
REUTERS - Amsterdam will get a theme park dedicated to chocolate and inspired by Roald Dahl's children's book "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory," city officials and entrepreneurs said on Thursday.
Just like Dahl's fictional "Chocolate Factory" owned by Willy Wonka, the main part of the "sweets park" will be located underground, in a disused railway tunnel which was handed over by the city of Amsterdam in a ceremony on Thursday.
The attraction, which is expected to open to the public in two to three years, will feature a glass elevator and a chocolate fountain, similar to the book. It will also produce small amounts of chocolate.
"Ten years ago I made a radio play of the 'Chocolate Factory' and ever since I've been fascinated by it," said audio books publisher Maurits Rubinstein who started the project.
The city of Amsterdam and Dutch construction company BAM are supporting the plan, which will cost 20 million euros ($26 million), partly raised with bonds that parents and grandparents can buy for their children and grandchildren.
Amsterdam is the world's biggest cocoa port, processing around 30 percent of the world's cocoa beans from countries like Ghana and Ecuador. It supplies the key ingredient, cocoa paste, to major chocolate manufacturers throughout Europe.
Amsterdam is also the place where Coenraad Johannes van Houten invented the hydraulic cocoa press in the 1820s, enabling the production of eating chocolate alongside the already available drinking and cooking varieties. He also came up with the process known as "dutching" to create a mildly flavored cocoa powder that mixes more easily with water.
An impression of how the Chocolate Factory will look can be found by clicking on Impressie on www.dechocoladefabriek.nl.
Remains of a 9-year-old pirate boy discovered off the coast of Cape Cod!
A Pirate's Life for a Wee Lad [LA Times]
Kinkor added there were "a variety of reasons why a pirate's life would have appealed to a youngster -- a free and easy lifestyle, and a classless democratic subculture."
Life can throw you lemons, but sometimes it sends guavas instead.
I've been a little silent to pretty much everyone about this situation, mostly because there was Family Drama (tm) attached for a while. Jen and I returned late Monday from a long weekend in Honolulu after attending my father's wedding. The short version is that he finally met a wonderful lady in Hawaii to move on with his life after my mother's passing three years ago (rightly so). He is an impulsive man, however. Although they just met in January, they were engaged in March, and would have essentially eloped two weeks later if some folks hadn't wanted to attend a ceremony. Thus, Drama from some circles. I'd have been content with visiting Tokyo for one of the reception-type parties.
Since I figure the man knows what he is doing and whatever makes him happy is fine with me, I didn't really have any major issues with this. The whole situation comes with added fun, too. His new wife, Reiko, is Japanese with two sons from a previous marriage. Nobuo is older, around my age I think, and a computer engineer of some variety. Yoshio, the younger one and near Cate's age, is a yoga and "animation dance" instructor. Both speak very little English. Nobuo and his wife couldn't make it, but Yoshio flew in for a whirlwind 96 hours or so.
We all had a good deal of fun together on this trip, I think. Jen and I stayed in a hotel room for the first time, rather than cram into my father's apartment as we've done on all previous visits. This allowed us to chill out as necessary. The newly extended family went to a cheesy club on Sunday night, so we got to see some of Yoshio's moves, too. It's a mix of hip-hop dancing and other freestyle stuff I have little frame of reference for. Searching google for "animation dance" was useless, but I did find a few decent examples on YouTube here, here, and here.
There is talk of possibly doing Christmas in Tokyo. That is the awesome.
(Jen took better notes.)
YouTube posted time-lapse video horror story...
(via Marginal Revolution, an economics and schtuff blog that I randomly subscribe to)
This grad school thing does seem to take a certain amount of time each day...
It makes sense to return to spewing fun things to look at here, though. Here's a collection of stuff that's been accumulating in my collective bookmarks for far too long:
Blogging about the current state of domestic politics might just give me an aneurysm, so instead:
They even have an RSS feed, yo.
Researchers in Taiwan have developed transgenic pigs that glow green under a bluish light. They're a tool for stem cell research, apparently.
This trumps glow-in-the-dark transgenic tropical fish by a fair margin.
More at the BBC (also my photo source...)
There was an interesting article in my Boston Globe feed this morning about the ongoing rivalry between two different groups of Schaghticoke Indians. I can spell 'Schaghticoke' from memory because it was the name of my junior high in New Milford, CT, but I had no idea that the tribe had a res in the next town over...
It's the usual infighting about US recognition and whether to build a casino. That would definitely alter the populous Western section of CT in big ways.
Faction seizes a Housatonic area
Dispute widens for rivals in tribe
By Associated Press | January 2, 2006
KENT, Conn. -- A tribal faction has seized the Schaghticoke Indian reservation to develop property near along the Housatonic River.
Members of the faction say they have plans for houses and for unspecified "economic development" in the region.
On Friday, Schaghticoke Indian Tribe members took over the tribe's office and picnic pavilion, forcing out the rival Schaghticoke Tribal Nation.
The two groups, which each claim to represent the tribe that has lived in Kent since the 1700s, have feuded since the 1970s.
"The reservation belongs to all Schaghticokes," Alan Russell, the Schaghticoke Indian Tribe faction's chairman, said Saturday. "We want to start our economic development program here."
Russell's group, which is seeking federal recognition, says it is the true Schaghticoke tribe. Like the rival Schaghticoke Tribal Nation, the Schaghticoke Indian Tribe also is interested in developing a casino or bingo hall.
The reservation, which was once more than 1,000 acres but has been reduced during hundreds of years of land sales, has been at the center of contention over tribal recognition. The Bureau of Indian Affairs in October denied federal recognition of the Schaghticoke Tribal Nation.
State politicians and Kent officials strongly opposed recognition, fearing the tribe would try to open a casino.
Schaghticoke Tribal Nation members said Saturday that they were pulling back because they had no interest in clashing with Russell's group. They said they are focused on a court appeal of the Indian Bureau's decision.
"We've got bigger battles to fight," said Michael Pane, vice chairman of the Schaghticoke Tribal Nation. "I'm just shrugging my shoulders."
Schaghticoke Tribal Nation Chief Richard Velky said Russell's takeover was "ridiculous at this stage of the game."
"We are looking for federal recognition," he said.
© Copyright 2005 The New York Times Company
Colbert: ... isn't this just another East coast, intellectual, ivy league... you did go to an ivy league, right?
Roach: No, actually I went to Wesleyan.
Colbert: Close enough.
My birthday approaches, so I was not too surprised to receive a driver's license renewal form in the mail yesterday... until I noticed that it was from Massachusetts. Yep, mailed to my Los Angeles address and listing my old Dorchester, MA apartment as the "residential address."
I filled out a change of address form online, but I fear I will have to telephone and explain that I am not some college student merely in California for a few years. I moved away over two years ago, and don't really have thoughts or plans to move back.
At least they stopped sending me car excise tax bills and haven't tried to claim I owe income taxes. Yeesh.
Adult swim was just blessed with an advertisement for this website.
A question for the lady in the black jump suit on the bus this morning:
If you are going to wear latex gloves in public, presumably because of an aversion to germs and diseases, why do you go from holding the vertical bar in the bus to opening your water bottle with the same gloved hand? And why do you wipe your nose and mouth with the same tissue?
It's not like bacteria are absorbed through the fingertips...
and now return it to the ether to lie in wait for the next group of unsuspecting souls.
There was a quarter page ad in the Sunday LA Times today for an all out extravaganza titled the "American Idols Live! Tour 2005".
Sponsored by whom?
I think this means that I know who my guardian angel is.
From the Thursday, May 5 LA Times Obituaries:
I hope this poor guy wasn't too bummed out by the turn of events. I suspect he was only trying to cure disease, only to have those results co-opted. It's likely that he never had much profit sharing, either...
Ed Schantz, 96; Helped Purify Toxin Used in Botox Injections
Ed Schantz, 96, a researcher who was a pioneer in purifying the toxin used in Botox injections, died April 27 in Madison, Wis., a family spokesman said.
In 1946, Schantz and colleagues purified botulinum toxin type A - the poison that causes an often fatal form of muscle paralysis called botulism - in a crystalline form, which allowed researchers to study it in greater detail, according to the Botox website of Allergan, Inc., which acquired the rights to distribute the toxin in 1988.
In the 1960s, Schantz found that in small doses the botulinum toxin could stop the muscle spasms that cause certain illnesses. One of the first medical uses was to treat crossed eyes, which are caused by an overactive eye muscle.
Today, injections of the botulinum toxin, in the commercial form of Botox, are used to smooth out wrinkles.
A native of Hartford, Wis., Schantz earned a degree in biochemistry at Iowa State University and a master's degree and PhD at the University of Wisconsin.
He began his career as an Army officer at Ft. Derrick, Md., during World War II, where he was the first to purify and grow "red tide" shellfish toxin, another deadly substance.
'Daily Show' Personality Gets His Own Platform (NY Times...a registration-free link, in theory)
By JACQUES STEINBERG
Published: May 4, 2005
Stephen Colbert, who plays a phony correspondent on the fake-news program "The Daily Show," is getting a real promotion.
Comedy Central said yesterday that it was giving Mr. Colbert his own show: a half-hour that is expected to follow "The Daily Show" on weeknights and will lampoon those cable-news shows that are dominated by the personality and sensibility of a single host. Think, he said, of Bill O'Reilly and Chris Matthews and Sean Hannity.
Where "The Daily Show" and its host, Jon Stewart, generally spoof the headlines of the day (and the anchors and reporters who deliver them), Mr. Colbert's program will send up those hosts who have become household names doing interviews and offering analyses each night on the 24-hour cable news channels. The program, which is expected to begin appearing on Comedy Central as soon as early fall, is being produced by Mr. Stewart's production company, Busboy Productions.
(first seen on my favorite pinko commie America-hating blog, Atrios)
tenure process politicking
corporate espionage, perhaps?
and the big question of why leave a computer with so much sensitive information lying around with no encryption?
Student steals laptop computer from professor.
Student is a dumbass and uses the laptop wireless connection on campus.
Professor explains about the two or three law enforcement agencies currently investigating major federal felonies for stealing the data on the laptop.
Online lecture video (Real Player, skip to around 48:50 for the special end of class notice)
"I am tied up all this afternoon; I am out of town all of next week. You have until 11:55 to return the computer, and whatever copies you've made, to my office, because I'm the only hope you've got of staying out of deeper trouble than you or any student I've ever known has ever been in."(originally seen on Boing Boing)
Jen and I watched Jersey Girl on DVD last night. Ben Affleck is only really good in Kevin Smith movies, it seems, and we were treated to a decent child actor and George Carlin acting very well to boot. Carlin needs to be in more films.
Anyway, the highlight of the disc was the second commentary track, featuring special guest, Jason Mewes. I noted that this was the first Smith film without a Jay and Silent Bob scene, and now we know why. We also know why Mewes went missing persons a few years ago. That's right kids, smack! It's always a sad tale when an iconic stoner is brought low by the hard stuff...quoted as needing to shoot up to get going in the morning, even. The film was discussed here and there, but this commentary was fan service to everyone who wondered where the hell Jay went. Sober a year, though, so good for him.
Sounds like film warranting insurance premiums, or whatever that's called, may delay his reentry into playing Jay for awhile yet, but I hope we get to see more of him soon.
Yep, Boing Boing put this best...
The science journal Cell has a new article up about experiments stimulating fly neurons with lasers to cause wing beating. Oddly, this works equally well when you remove most neurons first ... by removing the head.
Here's a short video (MOV 2.48 Mb) of a headless fly taking flight.
In a continuing cycle of stories that make my inner child cry (see here and here), someone decided that a fuzzy purple puppet was partially responsible for the rise in obesity in young children. I've been trying to think of a way to respond that hasn't already been blogged somewhere else, but I'm too distracted by my daily ritual of seeing how many Oreos I can stuff in my mouth at one time.
Anyway, the comic strip PVP seems to have put it best...
Sing it, Rammstein.
See, I keep forgetting to write about this series of consecutive billboards on Westwood Blvd. on the way to campus...
1) Trimspa, the diet pill that turned chubby, disturbing Anna Nicole Smith into thin, just as disturbing Anna Nicole Smith.
2) An ad for "Fat Actress", a new series (fer chrissakes) on Showtime starring Kirstie Alley, with her laid out in a pink dress on a large pink bathroom scale. Sample episode synopsis online: "Kirstie forces her agent to set her up on a big network meeting with Jeff Zucker only to find out that he thinks she's too fat for tv; Kirstie sleeps with an NBC exec and ends up with a holding deal." Now that's quality.
3) New Coca-Cola with lime. Because vanilla coke was so yummy?
Yep, there's finally a new Tori Amos album. I'm finally giving it a listen at work on a Saturday, when I am free to blast sound around the lab. The frantic need to shoehorn a full band into her songs is mostly gone, giving us musical composition that is a nice return to the lushness of the Under the Pink days. One or two songs about her daughter, naturally. A few more digs at the current US government that made Scarlet's Walk so fun. And plenty of little puzzle songs that made her earliest work a mental exercise at times. Me like.
She's playing smaller venues again, too. Her stadium phase was a big disappointment. She's playing Royce Hall right in UCLA in April, but tickets for her performances continue to do that thing where they sell out in two minutes. Grr.
Although the new NIN album isn't out until May, the official band website has a little video clip with some new music in it. This site has always been short on usability in favor of visual style, but for now this little taste of the new stuff is at the top of the following link...
Oh yeah, I have a few minutes still, at least in Pacific Time Zone, but Happy Chinese New Year - 2005 is the Year of Yiyou, popularly known as the Year of the Rooster (They can keep the rest of their cute link title, too.)