Monday, April 30, 2007

Marijuana Bad for the Brain

And I thought potheads were just simply difficult to understand. And if you're already crazy, doin' the dooby actually makes you crazier:

"I was surprised by the results," said Dr. Deepak Cyril D'Souza, an associate professor of psychiatry at Yale University's School of Medicine. "In practice, we found that cannabis is very bad for people with schizophrenia," he said.

Soooo many jokes out there in the blogosphere on this story, already, so I feel like I don't need to pile on, at this point.

I will say this. I've known several potheads who have claimed that they "study/drive/insert any activity that requires concentration" better while high, and I always thought they were full of it. This study not only lends credence to my assumption, but also shows that to think otherwise is dangerous.

While D'Souza had intended to study marijuana's impact on schizophrenics in more patients, the study was stopped prematurely because the impact was so pronounced that it would have been unethical to test it on more people with schizophrenia.

Whoa. I expect to see more studies like this to come out of Europe, where long-range studies on marijuana in even greater population size are due fairly soon.

Livestock Burping a Bigger Threat than Man-Made CO2

Methane has always been a more powerful greenhouse gas, according to the GHG Theory of global warming, but once you publicize it, that fact becomes a little inconvenient to the whole Anthropogenic meme when you actually crunch the numbers. Kinda like what I did here.

Now the EU Ministers of Environmental Policy, realizing that their efforts through Kyoto and their laughably ineffective cap and trade carbon scheme fall far short, see that they need to go after the bigger numbers, namely methane from livestock. I sort of remember before Al Gore came along that the GHG Theory was more concerned about methane than CO2, since it made up a larger percentage of the gases that contribute to global warming, according to the theory. Will we soon see a methane version of Kyoto? Will Brazil and Argentina game the system by overestimating how much methane their livestock emit? Will the Supreme Court of the United States find that the EPA can regulate grade-school boys belching the alphabet?

I'm betting, Yes, Yes, and Yes.

H/T Motl.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Duh vs Huh

Wha...?

Yep, I don't make mad money being a smarty pants, either.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

MP3 Player: Not an iPod

As if I needed another excuse not to spend time on my blog. This new toy is currently in my hands.

Flash drive memory is going down in price so fast that I couldn't dissuade myself any longer from owning one.

Why SanDisk, and not an Apple ickPod? Anyone who's read my blog may have detected a slight bias against Apple. Just because something is cute and well-built does not mean it's the best product on the market. Also, take a look at all those features.

Compared to the iPod Nano (the Apple product with similar flash drive capacity), there's no comparison. While both support similar audio and image file formats, the Nano has no video support, whatsoever. But look at the media formats the Sansa supports: AVI, MPEG-1 & MPEG-2 in MPEG, MPG, MPE or VOB (unprotected) formats. MPEG-4 in AVI format, DAT, ASF, QuickTime MOV, and WMV. And the TFT screen is larger and has more pixels. Throw in an FM radio tuner, and a voice and radio recorder, just cuz.

BWAHAHAHAHA.

Ahem. I can now watch my anime downloads on the train. All that capability...and the Sansa 8GB retails for $50 less than the Nano 8GB.

What are people getting for 50 dollars more with the ickPod? As far as I can tell...white-colored ear phones to advertise you belong to the majority, I mean the revolution.

Excuse me now. I got a lot of files to download.

Update: Here's a comparative size pic of the Sansa:

Monday, April 23, 2007

News Brieflets from Last Week

Feh. So I barely have time to post coherent thoughts these days due to time constraints and overall meh-ness after coming home from work. How about an imperfect solution?

Instead of coherent thoughts, I'll just post some incoherent inanities on stories that caught my eye (quiet, Joe...there really is a difference...if you squint your eyes enough). If news brieflets work for Tim Blair, they can certainly work for me.

Ethanol might not be the best solution for air pollution, according to this study. Sure, you can reduce CO2 emissions with it, and you're less dependent on foreign oil, but the 25% reduction in MPG and higher ozone emissions seem to be a bigger tradeoff.

Wisconsin lawmakers are experimenting with allowing beer samples in liquor stores and grocery markets. I'm all for it, but then again, I don't drive to my grocery store. I prefer to be "stumbling distance" from my alcohol dispensing haunts.

Europe's biggest three beer brewers were fined a whopping $370 million for price fixing and collusion. Now we know why all these European imports cost about the same, especially when they didn't need to. I know the EU wants a more integrated economy, but this doesn't seem like the right way to do it.

You can now get your caffeine fix before you're even out of the shower. I love that website thinkgeek.com (you can hit the link from the side panel). Go here, if you're more than curious.

And that's the wrap up from last week (through, um, Wednesday. I have no idea what's happened since then, really!). Oh wait, I heard a Mac got hacked within 45 minutes of going on the internet at a convention on security. Two days later, Apple releases a mega patch with an astonishing 25 security updates. What fun! Maybe I'll post on that story from last week sometime this week, too.

Till next time.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Light Blogging, Again!

Feh.

This whole "gainful employment" deal can definitely have a negative impact on blog output. Work has been pretty taxing on my energies lately, and more periods like it are likely in the near future.

Heartfelt apologies to all 2 or 3 of my faithful readers. I'll post when I can.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Nations React to Sex Survey

Ok, so I came a across this article from AFP on Yahoo!'s news feeder. I read it there, and found it mildly amusing that it backs up my earlier post on the lack of sex in Japan leading to a lower birth rate. Fair enough, it supports the meme that Asians aren't as concerned about getting their world rocked when they have sex, and don't do it as often or as long as residents in other countries. We get it.

However, something crazy popped up in my search for a more long-lived link to this article (hopefully this google news search survives, and some these hyperlinks stick around). Look at the headlines from across the world as each country reacts to how they performed in the survey. Hilarious! Some of the funnier headlines:

Sexy South Africans get it all
Aussie sex is short and not so sweet
Indians finish fastest in bed
Sex survey shows Kiwis have lost that loving feeling
Forget the French, Nigerians lead in the loving stakes
Americans Seeking Greater Sexual Satisfaction
Canadians Seeking Sexual Satisfaction
Stressed Brits Have Sex Less Than Twice Week

So what does this survey really reveal about how the world views sex? Judging from these headlines, it's still a subject worth tittering about.

Monday, April 16, 2007

A Hare-y Situation in Hungary


Ferenc Fuezesi / AP

I've heard of multiplying factors in road traffic, but I didn't think rabbits were involved.

Kind of sad about the bunny carnage in the wake of the overturning truck:

Both drivers were unharmed in the accident, but [Highway Patrol spokeswoman Viktoria Galik] said some 500 rabbits were killed. By midday, 4,400 bunnies had been collected and taken away from the scene.

There was a silver lining, however:

About 100 of them got a lucky break, hopping away from capture and the slaughterhouse into fields surrounding the highway.
"Those 100 are free to go. We will not collect them," Galik said.

Hmm...I hope that decision doesn't turn into an ecological disaster for Hungary as it did for Australia when it imported little bunnies. Meh, probably not a danger of that happening.

Twelfth-Level Mac-olyte Owns 100 Macs


AP
March 16: Mehrle with all 12 iMac G3 models that followed the initial 'Bondi Blue' model in his basement Mac shrine in O'Fallon, Mo.

Shudder...

This man is allowed to roam the streets unabated.

Even more bizarre, Apple has actually hired him to interact with the public, even to influence their buying decisions.

Stranger yet, he cohabitates with a woman in what is apparently a mutually romantic state. She seems rather philosophical about the growing army of Macs in the basement.

Shouldn't there be some kind of national register for disturbed people like this? At the very least just to track their movements. Well, we've identified him, so that's one down.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Must Be Cubs Season

Of course Bucky would substitute a Cubs hat for his Hat o' Shame.

Poor Cubs fans. The jokes are just starting. Only the dim hope of the Cubs being sold at the end of the season has die-hard fans dreaming of next season. Six more months until either the season's over, they get to the World Series, or the world ends in a blaze of armageddon-inducing Global Warmening/Iran Nuclear War/India-Pakistan Nuclear War. By about June, I'm guessing Cubs fans will be hoping for the third option.


©Darby Conley

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Chicago Beats LA for 2016 US Bid

Da Mayor wins big again.

Chicago is the official US representative for bidding on the 2016 Olympic games. Daley's bid was widely known for its reliance on private funding. There isn't a mayor in America who can raise funds from corporate sponsors like Daley can.

Now the focus shifts to the international competition in bringing the Games to Chicago.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Fast as a Leopard? Apple Delays New OS

Apple announced that it was delaying the Leopard Launch from June to the fall, and shares of Apple almost immediately fell 2%.

Sure, blame iPhone for taking away resources. How convenient. The beta releases have apparently been far below the normal standard for Apple:

The known issues range from "Unable to restore from recent backups when installing" to "emacs crashes on launch."

That doesn't sound good.

It sure seems like Apple is hoping to shoot the moon with iPhone like it did with iPod. Remember when Apple was known for its computers?

Atlanta Airport Cops Stumble Upon Gay Encounters

Are airport restrooms the new roadside rest areas? Apparently so.

I just remember the hilarious scene from "There's Something About Mary" where Ben Stiller's character gets snapped up in a dragnet, suprised guys running everywhere. Dane Cook provides a different perspective on why public restrooms may not be the best locale for risky behavior: (NSFW for language)

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Totally Wiped, But...

...that customer is Live on their new server. Maybe now I can get back to normal blogging behavior.

Heard any interesting news, lately?

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Can't Blog...Working...

Geh.

I was onsite at one of our Chicago-area customers today. Worked late, too.

Very disappointed in the level of IT competence at this customer. It's rather counterintuitive that their IT competency is so low. I don't really want to name them but I'll give you a hint. It starts with "University of" and ends with "cago Hospitals." You'll never be able to figure it out, right? I was there because their NT 4.0 (I know! Right?!!!) server where our software is installed on finally got slammed by a virus that would have required updated virus definitions and anti-virus software that was actually, you know, updatable after 2005. Database server administration seems to be a foreign concept over there.

Anyway, being onsite, and not connected to the internet is why I have nothing newsworthy to post on.

We'll see what happens tomorrow with this customer since I'll be supporting them remotely while they fumble their way towards a go-live on their shiny new Windows 2003 server.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Bleach Fan's Forte: Piano

After seeing my bro post a YouTube fan vid of the MacGyver theme song, I was intrigued. Must be a lot of fan vids of people playing TV theme songs, right?

After a little searching, I happened upon this gem, a guy playing the ending theme song of "Bleach", season 3:

For the original music video from artist Younha of the song "Houki Boshi", see here.

Update: rasserfrasser mondays...fixed the link to "Houki Boshi", the subbed version.

The Porn Factor in the Next-Gen DVD Format War

There are a lot of good points made in this article regarding the porn industry's influence on entertainment technology.

When porn threw its weight behind VHS in the last format war, Sony lost big-time with its Betamax format. Sony can't afford to make the same mistake twice, can it?

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Science Faction?

You aren't a person who knows the diameters of the planets in our solar system? You will be. Heh. You will be.


©Bill Amend

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Memory Errors the Source of Past Lives, UFO Abductions

Haven't I heard this somewhere before?

The researchers found that, compared to control subjects who dismissed the idea of reincarnation, past-life believers were almost twice as likely to misidentify names. In particular, their tendency was to wrongly identify as famous the non-famous names they had seen in the first task. This kind of error, called a source-monitoring error, indicates that a person has difficulty recognizing where a memory came from.

This study makes total sense to me. I think the feeling of deja vu, and recovered memories (remember the McMartin-Bucky trial?) would fit into this phenomenon of source-monitoring errors in memory, as well.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Anime Geekitude: Level 2

Only Level 2 on the Geek-tastic Meter.

"Bleach" Anime. Check.

A "Weird" Al song. Check.

But a song about my favorite beverage makes it totally awesome.


"Those things give me the Schlitz™."

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Educational Software Doesn't Make the Grade

So public education is underfunded, right?

Just more proof that throwing more money at a problem without a plan is a poor investment in the future of America.

No Votes, No Problem

Heh. Democracy inaction.

Adult Stem Cell Treatments on Track in U.S.

A couple of adult stem cell-derived treatments to be launched in Europe later this year, hope to enter the U.S. market in 2008.

I first noted the Celution System for breast enhancement here.

Go here for my post on cell regeneration of damaged heart tissue.

Where are all the treatments from embryonic stem cell research? Oh yeah, I forgot, all stem cells derived from embryos turn cancerous. I guess they'll just have to cure cancer, first. I'm supposed to parrot the meme that embryonic stem cell research has "more potential." Must have lost the script somewhere.

Impersonation Ruse Not Quite Thought Out

Heh.

Perhaps he should have sobered up just a tetch more before calling his brother to make bail.

I wonder how that would have played out in my case, what with having an identical triplet brother and all.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Office Mate Leads Dance Partner to Court

Heh. Poor woman, being thrown around like a rag doll, right in front of her office-mates.

I can empathize as a victim of "negligent dancing." You should have seen how I was man-handled on the dance floor by an overly soused (and larger, stronger, *sigh, you get the picture*) female colleague of mine at my annual office party. People were laughing for days, but cursing themselves for not getting the money shot of my terror-stricken face mouthing Help. Meeeee. as several attempts at a Texas Tornado tragi-comically went awry, sending me spinning, and sliding, into the crowd.

Good times. Good times.

And no serious injuries, either, beyond my wounded pride.

Another Non-Car DUI in the News

This time, a horse was the mode of transportation. The woman seemed bent on attempting a high-speed chase, and had the meth on her to fuel such an endeavor. The horse, however, was not so inclined:

[Police Chief Brad Gregg] said the horse, which belonged to York, "wasn't in the best of health, but it's still alive."

Along with yesterday's Zamboni DWI story, there's quite the rash of odd DUI arrests lately.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

More Inconvient Truths for Gore, Apple

Should I throw more gas on the fire for Enviro-Propheteer Algore? Yeah, of course I should.

If you're going to set yourself up as a visionary of environmental awareness, and you sit on the board of a tech company that has been targeted in the past for its poor "green" policies, shouldn't you at least be the lone dissenting vote to support shareholders' wishes to act more enviro-friendly? Not if you're Algore.

More on Apple's decidedly "ungreen" environmental practices here. Greenpeace even got thrown out of MacExpo this year.

Update: fixed the second URL link. Sorry for the slapdash copy and pasting.

H/T to the eagle-eyed bro.

Zamboni DWI Charge Thrown Out

Heh.

It did seem excessive to try to suspend the guy's driver's license for essentially drinking while operating heavy machinery on the job. I've always thought "The Zamboni Song" was meant to be sung while sloshed, anyway. Just don't drive like this guy:

Parasite Makes Rats Dig Cat Pee: Study

Remember the story last year on how the cat-loving parasite Toxoplasma gondii may have driven people crazy and influenced human civilization? I sure do.

A group of scientists have begun studying the effects of T. gondii on rats, and their initial results are startling, to say the least. The parasite seems to pinpoint the exact fear of cat urine, while leaving other similar fears alone. That's pretty specific, but it sounds right if the microbe has developed the quickest way to get back into the belly of Mr. Fluffikins.

Further research on cat-specific behaviors is in the planning stages. Naturally, they'd want to see if rats infested with the brain-modifying parasite begin exhibiting symptoms such as hoarding cats like garden gnomes, or squeaking in baby-talk in their presence.

I expect more really funny research stories on T. gondii in the months to come.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Wireless Electricity Gets Closer to Reality

Totally cool. The wireless world is getting closer to having a working wireless powersource.

Macs Fly Under the Radar: Security

Even as a new Windows OS vulnerability is making the news, there was this story last Friday that brought some perspective on the debate of whether one OS was more secure than another.

Apple's snappy advertising soundbites notwithstanding, this article points out that Mac's OS X, by one standard, has actually been shown to be much less secure in the last couple of years than Microsoft's Windows XP. Furthermore, Apple's response time to dealing with exposed vulnerabilities has been two to three times slower than Microsoft's. Yet, this isn't the whole story:

Paul Henry, VP of Secure Computing and a recent Mac convert, said it's all a matter of scale. The cyber bad guys target the richest market, and that's not the Mac platform. So even though there have been Mac bugs out there, very few malware writers are targeting them.

"People who write malware tend to write malware to infect the greatest number of people they can," Henry said in an interview. "Are you going to write something that gets the majority of the installed base or something that will hit less than 10% of the user base? I still think the Mac is safer than Windows. It has a reduced threat environment. If over the next year, the Mac gains 50% market share, it would become a much more attractive target, but it's not going to happen. It just won't grow that quickly."

Marius van Oers, a virus research engineer at McAfee, posted a blog last week that showed there are more than 236,000 pieces of malware "in the wild." The vast majority are aimed at the Windows environment. Only about 700 are meant for the various Unix/Linux distributions, van Oers wrote. How many are for the Mac OS X platform? Seven or less, he said, calling the threat "pretty much non-existent at the moment.[emphasis added]"

700 exploits vs 7. Does this mean that Macs are 100 times more secure than Unix/Linux? I don't think there's a Unix admin on the planet willing to bet his favorite suspenders that Macs are more secure than any flavor of Unix or Linux available. It's just that Unix and Linux are the OSes of choice for a lot of servers out there. Just because a vulnerability exists does not mean that an exploit for it has been written. Macs simply aren't important enough to write malware and viruses for. Marketshare is one reason, but another is that Macs aren't used to store the kind of information that's worth stealing for criminals, like SSNs, credit card numbers, and other data of that sort.

Macs are cool? Maybe. But criminals could care less about your teenager's mostly illegal 10,000 song collection on iTunes. When that iPhone comes out, though...

For a humorous salvo in the Mac vs PC wars, see here.

Japanese Anime Now Big Business

I meant to post on this story last week. Hollywood, perennially "out of fresh ideas", if the entertainment story meme is to be believed, is ever on the lookout for new sources of revenue, I mean, art. As the recent spate of movies translated from comic books has shown, and if the box office grosses of 300, TMNT, and Ghost Rider are any indication, there does seem to be a renewed interest in fantastical stories.

It's anybody's guess how an entire network, The Anime Network, will fare, but success or failure will hinge upon the titles they choose to bring over. Just because it's edgier doesn't mean that the young American's lust for blood and gore will win out over good storylines. Personally, I believe Cartoon Network's choices for Adult Swim have been one homerun after another. "Naruto" and "Bleach" are the biggest phenomena in Japan right now. "Elfen Lied" and "Guyver", while interesting shows, do not have anywhere near the fanbase that "Naruto" and "Bleach" do.

Japanese animation could fuel several avenues of the American entertainment business, from TV, to movies, to video games, and all the merchandise associated with these genres. I'll be watching with interest to see how this new network does. But I'll also be watching "Naruto" and "Bleach".

Back to Normal Blogging

I managed to survive the hellweek of work last week, so newsworthiness permitting, I'll be posting with my normal output again.

No more vandalizing my site with comments-o-plenty, m'kay?