October 31, 2006

Where Rock Groups Got Their Names

Category: Music — jerry @ 5:40 pm


    Here’s an interesting site that purports to explain where quite a number of rock bands got their names.

    Probably best to take some of it with a grain of salt.  (“Alice In Chains” is named after a “lost” Brady Bunch episode?!

    Thinking of starting up your own band?  (Every time I drink more than 2 beers, I think about doing it again myself).  Go to this site for help in coming up with a random name.  Rock on!


Stem Cell Breakthrough

Category: Technology — jerry @ 5:22 pm


    That disgusting looking thing in the bottom panel is a tiny penny-sized artificial liver grown from stem cells taken from umbilical cord blood soon after the babies’ births.

     That’s right–no human souls were harmed in the making of this liver.

      From Britain’s Daily Mail (Oct. 31, 2006): 

    “British scientists have grown the world’s first artificial liver from stem cells in a breakthrough that will one day provide entire organs for transplant.

    “The technique that created the ‘mini-liver’, currently the size of a one pence piece, will be developed to create a full-size functioning liver.

    “Described as a ‘Eureka moment’ by the Newcastle University researchers, the tissue was created from blood taken from babies’ umbilical cords just a few minutes after birth.

As it stands, the mini organ can be used to test new drugs, preventing disasters such as the recent ‘Elephant Man’ drug trial. Using lab-grown liver tissue would also reduce the number of animal experiments.

Within five years, pieces of artificial tissue could be used to repair livers damaged by injury, disease, alcohol abuse and paracetamol overdose.

And then, in just 15 years’ time, entire liver transplants could take place using organs grown in a lab.


October 30, 2006

Etch-A-Sketch Exposed!!

Category: Technology — jerry @ 5:09 pm


    Admit it.  You always wanted to know how these things work.

    Now the forbidden knowledge can be yours!  And you don’t even need to take one apart.

    Speaking of Etch-A-Sketch, you should head over to Etch-A-Sketch.com and see their incredible art gallery.  Makes your attempts to draw a puppy look pathetic…

October 29, 2006

Michael J. Fox Responds to Recovering Addict Rush Limbaugh

Category: Movies/TV,Opinion,Technology — jerry @ 2:02 pm

Take 7 1/2 minutes to watch this video, and then tell me you don’t want to help cure this man because that petri dish over there is fixin’ to make up a “soul”.

Fantasy Congress

Category: Technology — jerry @ 10:41 am


    I just read about this site in this morning’s Omaha World Herald.

    My oldest son is big into something called “fantasy football“, wherein you draft a football “team” of the available NFL players and then, depending on how the individual player stats are from week to week, your team advances or falls behind.  This concept of running fantasy teams all started with something called rotisserie league baseball, which used the same basic concept.

So, anyway–the Fantasy Congress site attempts to do the same with our Congress.  You draft senior senators (real ones!), junior senators, and congressmen, and earn points based on their “stats”: how many bills they introduce, how many advance through committee, how many are passed, etc.

I have not explored the site much at all, but it does strike me as the kind of activity some would really enjoy engaging in: political science students, or political wonks considering a job with the government or a run for Congress themselves.

The site is in a “beta” version right now.  It will be interesting to see how things shake out there.

There Was Really Only One Tarzan…

Category: Books,Movies/TV — jerry @ 10:14 am


    …just as there is really only one James Bond.  Sean Connery is the ultimate Bond, of course, (although my kids might say “Pierce Brosnan”!)

    And we Boomers would have to agree on the one true Tarzan: Johnny Weismuller.

    Lordy, was I a Tarzan fanatic from 4th grade throughout high school!  It started with the movies starring Weismuller.  You could occasionally catch one on one of the two television stations we received in the little Nebraska town I was living in–usually on a Saturday afternoon. 

    My buddies and I were always playing Tarzan: building treehouses, hanging ropes to swing from tree to tree.  Man, those were good times…

There were about a dozen Weismuller Tarzan movies made.  The first six have been packaged and are available on DVD as THE TARZAN COLLECTION STARRING JOHNNY WEISMULLER.  Volume 1 is available at Amazon, for about fifty bucks direct–or only about twenty bucks if you click the “used/new” link (twenty bucks for a “new” copy!).

The 2nd volume comes out Tuesday and also includes half a dozen episodes–which I think completes the Weismuller “body of work” in the Tarzan genre.

Parenthetically, let me say that the most fun I ever had reading books was growing up with Edgar Rice Burroughs’s Tarzan series.  Oh, to be a kid again…

October 28, 2006

Scary Radio Shows

Category: Technology — jerry @ 9:30 am


     I’ve written here before of how I enjoy old radio shows, and gave a source for hundreds and hundreds of them online.

     And now, this Halloween season, you should head over to The Monster Club where they have dozens of scaaarry radio shows for you to download and listen to–just like in the old days.

     Pop some popcorn, turn out the lights, and listen by candlelight–just like Grandpa and Grandma used to do.  Have fun!

October 27, 2006

How To Win At Lotto

Category: Technology — jerry @ 2:34 pm


    According to my website statistics, my entry entitled “How To Win At Roulette” is the most popular entry I have ever posted.

    So, I’ve shamelessly come up with this one–hoping to appeal to the same “element” that so enjoyed that other one.                   🙂

    Actually, some math geeks in Britain (same place that gave us the winning roulette system!  Why did we ever seek independence?!) really did recently win the “Lotto” contest over there.  (We Yanks call it “Powerball”).

This article doesn’t explain how they did it, but I’m guessing that by using computer analysis they found some flaw in the “randomization routine” that is used to select numbers, detected a pattern, and were able to pick a winning ticket (I get a kick out of how the Brits refer to “maths”–plural–rather than “math”.  Technically correct, I suppose, but now I remember why we fought for independence!  Oh, yeah–and the tea…) :

Maths theory bags lotto jackpot

MOST of us believe winning lotto is down to the luck of the draw.

But a syndicate of university professors and tutors in Britain thought it could also be related to the principles of mathematical probability.

And their theory was spectacularly vindicated this week when they matched all six numbers and scooped the $13 million lotto jackpot.

The syndicate, made up of 17 staff members at Bradford University and College, bagged the big prize by using two boxes, 49 pieces of paper and a large amount of brainpower.

But it was far from an overnight success.

Syndicate leader Barry Waterhouse, 41, who works at the design and printing section of the university, explained that the syndicate had been doing the National Lottery for eight years without conspicuous success after it started in 1994 with each member picking his or her own line.

“We just weren’t winning with the numbers being picked that way, so we thought of a different method which would mean all 49 numbers would be used,’ Mr Waterhouse said.

The syndicate then set up a computer program to check the numbers every week.

It took four years and a total outlay of $8700, but on Saturday, the formula succeeded.

Matching the winning numbers and the bonus ball, they hit the jackpot.

“We just thought that if all the numbers are in use, we must have a good chance of winning and it has proved so, though you never really think it will happen to you, “Mr Waterhouse said. 

Fellow syndicate member David Firth, 63, said: “We have won tenners and the odd 70 quid in the past, but now this is the big one.”

October 26, 2006

Seen This Ad For The Democrats Yet?

Category: Opinion — jerry @ 5:21 pm

I forget–who was it that kept accusing John Kerry of “waffling”?

Vampires Proven Mathematically Impossible

Category: Technology — jerry @ 2:54 pm


    When my children were very small, I used to tuck them in at night with a kiss on the forehead and a murmured, “Good night.  Don’t let the vampires bite…”

    In retrospect, perhaps that was inappropriate parenting.  (Why did they always start crying and screaming…?)

    So to make it up to them, I’m posting a portion of an article I found at the Live Science website:

Vampires a Mathematical Impossibility, Scientist Says


A researcher has come up with some simple math that sucks the life out of the vampire myth, proving that these highly popular creatures can’t exist.

University of Central Florida physics professor Costas Efthimiou’s work debunks pseudoscientific ideas, such as vampires and zombies, in an attempt to enhance public literacy. Not only does the public believe in such topics, but the percentages are at dangerously high level, Efthimiou told LiveScience.

Legend has it that vampires feed on human blood and once bitten a person turns into a vampire and starts feasting on the blood of others.

Efthimiou’s debunking logic: On Jan 1, 1600, the human population was 536,870,911. If the first vampire came into existence that day and bit one person a month, there would have been two vampires by Feb. 1, 1600.  A month later there would have been four, and so on. In just two-and-a-half years the original human population would all have become vampires with nobody left to feed on.

If mortality rates were taken into consideration, the population would disappear much faster. Even an unrealistically high reproduction rate couldn’t counteract this effect.

“In the long run, humans cannot survive under these conditions, even if our population were doubling each month,” Efthimiou said. “And doubling is clearly way beyond the human capacity of reproduction.”