Category Archives: Misc.

Blasphemy Challenge On YouTube

Snippets from this MSNBC/Newsweek article: “Hi my name is Lindy and I deny the existence of the Holy Spirit and you should too.

With that five-second submission to YouTube, a 24-year-old who uses the name “menotsimple” has either condemned herself to an eternity of punishment in the afterlife or struck a courageous blow against superstition. She’s one of more than 400 mostly young people who have joined a campaign by the Web site BlasphemyChallenge.com to stake their souls against the existence of God. That, of course, is the ultimate no-win wager, as the 17th-century French mathematician Blaise Pascal calculated—it can’t be settled until you’re dead, and if you lose, you go to hell.

The Blasphemy Challenge is a joint project of filmmaker Brian Flemming, director of the antireligion documentary “The God Who Wasn’t There,” and Brian Sapient, cofounder of the atheist Web site RationalResponders.com. Their intent was to encourage atheists to come forward and put their souls on the line, showing others that you don’t have to be afraid of God. The particular form of the challenge was chosen because, by one interpretation, blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, a part of the Christian Trinity, is the only sin that can never be forgiven. And once something you’ve said gets posted on YouTube, as any number of celebrities can attest, you never live it down.

You can get details from the Blasphemy Challenge website. Their tagline: “Do you have a soul you’re not using?”

Undark and the Radium Girls

Alan Bellows on DamnInteresting.com has a terrific historical/medical article called ‘Undark and the Radium Girls‘. Here’s the setup below, if intrigued, go check it out!

In 1922, a bank teller named Grace Fryer became concerned when her teeth began to loosen and fall out for no discernible reason. Her troubles were compounded when her jaw became swollen and inflamed, so she sought the assistance of a doctor in diagnosing the inexplicable symptoms. Using a primitive X-ray machine, the physician discovered serious bone decay, the likes of which he had never seen. Her jawbone was honeycombed with small holes, in a random pattern reminiscent of moth-eaten fabric.

As a series of doctors attempted to solve Grace’s mysterious ailment, similar cases began to appear throughout her hometown of New Jersey. One dentist in particular took notice of the unusually high number of deteriorated jawbones among local women, and it took very little investigation to discover a common thread; all of the women had been employed by the same watch-painting factory at one time or another.

Why You Can’t Get iPods At A Discount

Slate explains why “You can’t get ipods at a discount“.

This is a very thought-provoking article, not so much because it relates to Apple and the iPod, but goes into some of the interesting details of marketing and advertising that enable me to understand some of the influences at play behind the scenes when I’m making a purchase.

Here’s an example where the 8GB iPod nano costs $250 everywhere while prices for most other electronics like this Sony Digital Camcorder fluctuate wildly giving the buyer a better deal ‘somewhere else’.

The author sets it up by explaining away some of the mystery to how retailers advertise and set prices through ‘price dispersion‘ and explains Apple’s “accepted, if controversial, tactic, a retail strategy called minimum advertised price, to discourage resellers from discounting“.

iPod nano

Coffee Geek: The End of the Barista?

Allow me to introduce you to George Sabados, he is an ex-barista, now a successful franchise, café business, and retail consultant as well as roaster trainer to the coffee industry. He is the former Executive Officer of the Australasian Specialty Coffee Association, and former Director of Barista College of Australia. He has judged at a number of national and World Barista Championship competitions around the world.

Mr. Sabados has ‘leet’ coffee skills, knows exactly how to create the perfect Espresso and make it perfectly every time; he has a great opinion article on CoffeeGeek: ‘Is this the end of the barista?‘.

The article is a breakdown of the latest ‘super automatic’ espresso machines gaining in popularity over the last several years that are increasing profits in the coffee houses and suprisingly finding customers accepting of this over the personality offered by the baristas. He doesn’t claim to know what the future holds for the barista profession, but does provide some insight into the coffee market that I was not aware of before.


Coffee Joke (as long as we’re on the subject)- 

Sign you may be addicted to coffee – It’s midnight and you’re weighing the pros and cons of making a new pot. 

Kimodo Dragons With Virgin Births

The BBC is reporting on some unusual happenings at the Chester Zoo in the UK.

Kimodo HatchlingScientists report two cases where female Komodo dragons have produced offspring without male contact.

Tests revealed their eggs had developed without being fertilised by sperm – a process called parthenogenesis, the team wrote in the journal Nature. One of the reptiles in the zoo is awaiting her clutch of eight eggs to hatch, with a due-date estimated around Christmas.

The following link is to the Wikipedia article on parthenogenesis if you’re interested in learning more.

Father of Yogi Bear Dies

From the AP:

Joe Barbera, half of the Hanna-Barbera animation team that produced such beloved cartoon characters as Tom and Jerry, Yogi Bear and the Flintstones, died Monday at the age of 95. Mr. Barbera died of natural causes at his home with his wife, Sheila, at his side.

With his longtime partner, Bill Hanna, Mr. Barbera first found success with the Tom and Jerry cartoons. The antics of the battling cat and mouse won seven Academy Awards. Mr. Hanna passed away in 2001.

The partners, who teamed up while working at MGM in the 1930s, went on to new success in the 1960s with a series of animated TV comedies, including “The Flintstones,” “The Jetsons,” “Yogi Bear,” “Scooby-Doo” and “Huckleberry Hound and Friends.”

Police Track Reckless Driver on YouTube

Police took up pursuit in cyberspace after a young Norwegian posted on the Internet video of his wild car driving. Following an electronic trail that he left online, police caught him and slapped him with a real-life fine $1,300.

According to the videos the 20 year old suspect was posting, his speedometer would get to 150MPH/240KPH while cruising the Oslo highway.

Lesson learned – “loose lips sink ships”, or something like that. Seriously people, if you’re doing something naughty, either get really hardcore about ensuring your anonymity or don’t brag about it. 🙂

New Clues Revealed in King Tut’s CT scan

When Egyptian scientists performed the first CT scan of the mummy of Tutankhamun, they turned up a key clue: Bone fragments from the pharaoh’s first vertebra, near the skull, were not coated with embalming fluid. This indicates the break occurred after the king was dead and is unrelated to his demise after all.

Also, a second clue was found by examining a major fracture in Tut’s left thigh bone. The femur had a thin coating of embalming resin around the break, indicating that Tut had broken his leg just before he died and that his death may have resulted from an infection or other complications. Another possibility is a fat embolism that could have acted like a clot to cause a heart attack.

Read the Seattle Times for all the (not so) gory details.

Sleep a thing of the past?

I’ll be the first to admit a good snooze is a most excellent activity.  But – drugs like Modafinil, CX717 and Rozerem all but remove the need to sleep, allowing for nearly a full 24 hour waking period without any sleep deprivation effects.  Studies submitted by many pretigious research facilities mark these drugs as a building wave of the future.

Sleeping Ideas

What I find strange is why anyone would want to fight off a natural function like sleep.  I know what you’re thinking too – “If I can shorten my time in bed, I can produce/work more!”, which is a classic way of trying to get that promotion or raise you want, right?  In my opinion…sleep performs a much deeper fuction than just resting the mind and body.  It provides you with a creative outlet though your thoughts and dreams.  Michealangelo and Albert Einstein are both classic examples of genius that proclaimed that some of their most brilliant ideas were born from dreams.

In essense, I suppose the promotion or pay raise might be worth popping a few pills.  Alas, I shall stick with my good old night time ritual of sleeping a good eight or so hours and let my mind wander freely.

[Found via New Scientist]

Teen Creates Fusion

Now I’m no avid scientist myself, but I find it incredible that a 17 year old High School student can build a nuclear fusion reactor in his basement.  And amazingly enough, the thing actually works.

 Teen Nuclear Fusion Reactor

After 2 years of scrounging parts and over a 1000 hours in research, Thiago Olsen finished construction of what he calls “The Fusor” (pictured above).  While this is not a scientific breakthrough, it does show the dedication and spirit of a young scientist in the making.  With this accomplishment out of the way at such a young age, who knows what he will be able to accomplish in the future?  Keep an eye on this one, folks.  I can almost guarantee we’ll be hearing more about this young man in the future.

[Found via Detroit Free Press]

Stuff People Write On Money

Some people jot a quick note on money as a reminder to themselves, perhaps a “to do” list. Some do it to mark the bill as theirs in case of a dispute later as to what was really handed over to the cashier. Some doodle on a fiver. And then there are those that you just have no clue what was going through their heads at the moment they put pen to a twenty dollar bill.

Check out this gallery of slightly defaced bills. 

 Lincoln Hair

 

 

 

The Bionic Man Remembered

While covering the Iraq war, BBC producer Stuart Hughes lost his leg. His new prosthetic foot is so advanced, it may even allow amputee soldiers back into battle. A few weeks ago, he became one of the first people in the UK to be fitted with the world’s first “intelligent” prosthetic foot.

Bionic Foot

Some researchers believe the current generation of bionic limbs is just the beginning. They are working towards the day when man and machine are seamlessly integrated.

Regardless of the good intentions this technology implies, I can’t help but think how “Cyborgs” would effect our society.  I would be interested in hearing your opinion!

[Found via BBC News]

Flu Prevention Includes More Sunlight?

Nature is reporting on scientific studies (performed internationally) looking into the reasons for a sharp jump in influenza during the later part of the year each year, particularly after the Winter Solstice. The Flu kills about 1 million people a year worldwide so there is a lot of interest in understanding how to prevent it besides simply immunizing 6+ billion people.

They found numerous causes for the seasonal spikes including: “Low relative humidity favours influenza virus aerosols, and indoor crowding facilitates transmission. Autumn brings young children together in schools, and Christmas travel mixes up previously separated populations.”

But they also found a slight but interesting relation to Vitamin D deficiencies which could be due to reduced sunlight during the Winter months. You can read the full assessment of the studies in the article above, but it makes me wonder if suntanning salons provide the body with the vitamins necessary to help combat the flu.

Crows are damn smart

You may have heard about the freak crow Betty several years ago when scientists found her making tools to fetch food out of a little trap. Welp, the scientsts are at it again with more Crow vs. Intelligence studies on an island.

Seems word is getting out in the crow world and they’re teaching their young.

Quote:

Compared to other crows, those from the Pacific island of New Caledonia are master tool makers and users, second only to humans and on level with chimps when it comes to finding novel uses for everyday objects

Speaking of supposedly intelligent animals, if you haven’t read this old “Onion” news parody, check it out, titled: Dolphins Evolve Opposable Thumbs. ‘Oh, Shit,’ Says Humanity