September 24, 2006

Feeling A Little Glum Today?

Category: Technology — jerry @ 1:29 pm

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    Open your browser and type in:

    www.yourfirstname.yourlastname.youaremighty.com

    For instance, I would have typed in:

    www.jerry.pettit.youaremighty.com

    There!  Don’t you feel better already?  (Crank up your speakers!)

Scientists Turn Stem Cells From Dead Embryos Into Live Tissue

Category: Technology — jerry @ 12:37 pm

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    This is a pretty cool breakthrough, and will hopefully help medical research get past the Fundamentalist Christians who continue to stonewall stem cell research. 

    According to the story in England’s THE OBSERVER:

   “Scientists working at a British laboratory have achieved one of the most controversial breakthroughs ever made in the field of stem cell science by taking cells from dead embryos and turning them into living tissue.

“The technique could soon be used to create treatments for patients suffering from diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, the researchers say. The breakthrough has been hailed by many scientists and ethical experts because it could circumvent opposition to stem cell experiments.

‘This should get round opposition to stem cell science because live embryos will no longer need to be used in all experiments,’ said Professor Miodrag Stojkovic, the researcher who carried out the experiments at the Centre for Stem Cell Biology at Newcastle University last year.”

But, oh dear–will the new tissue have a soul?!

***

Related story from L.A. TIMES:

Using stem cells harvested from patients’ own bone marrow, researchers improved cardiac function in heart attack patients months, years — and even decades — after the attacks, they reported Wednesday.

The infusion of stem cells boosted cardiac pumping efficiency by 7% in three months — a modest gain, but still a significant improvement for a chronic condition.

In one case, a patient who had suffered a heart attack 30 years earlier showed an 11% improvement after the treatment, according to the study in the New England Journal of Medicine.

The German researchers also found tentative signs that patients could continue to improve with repeated treatments.

“We have always thought that a heart attack is permanent damage, but now there is the potential that this damage can be repaired,” said Dr. Christopher P. Cannon, a cardiologist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston who was not involved in the research.

Waterboarding–Appropriate Discipline For Preteens?

Category: Technology — jerry @ 12:18 pm

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   Our President has thus far refused to discuss whether the interrogation technique of “waterboarding” is inappropriate.

   What is “waterboarding”?

   On the 18 November 2005, Brian Ross and Richard Esposito described the CIA’s “waterboarding” technique as follows in an article posted on the ABC News web site:

   “The prisoner is bound to an inclined board, feet raised and head slightly below the feet. Cellophane is wrapped over the prisoner’s face and water is poured over him. Unavoidably, the gag reflex kicks in and a terrifying fear of drowning leads to almost instant pleas to bring the treatment to a halt. According to the sources, CIA officers who subjected themselves to the water boarding technique lasted an average of 14 seconds before caving in. They said al Qaeda’s toughest prisoner, Khalid Sheik Mohammed, won the admiration of interrogators when he was able to last over two minutes before begging to confess. ‘The person believes they are being killed, and as such, it really amounts to a mock execution, which is illegal under international law,’ said John Sifton of Human Rights Watch.”

While our President struggles with the ethics of this while the world watches–give it some thought yourselves. 

Have a nice day.

***

UPDATE 10/1/06: Here’s a better picture of the modern technique.

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September 23, 2006

Not So Famous Last Words

Category: Technology — jerry @ 11:32 am

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    Leave it to Texas, the Capital of Capital Punishment, to have an online repository for recording their executee’s last statements.

   Some examples:

“What I want people to know is that they call me a cold-blooded killer when I shot a man that shot me first. The only thing that convicted me was that I am a Mexican and that he was a police officer. People hollered for my life, and they are to have my life tonight.”

“The people never hollered for the life of the policeman that killed a 13-year-old boy who was handcuffed in the back seat of a police car. The people never hollered for the life of a Houston police officer who beat up and drowned Jose Campo Torres and threw his body in the river. You call that equal justice. This is your equal justice. This is America’s equal justice.”

“A Mexican’s life is worth nothing. When a policeman kills someone he gets a suspended sentence. When a Mexican kills a police officer this is what you get. From there you call me a cold-blooded murderer. I didn’t tie anyone to a stretcher. I didn’t pump poison into anybody’s veins from behind a locked door.  I hope God will be as merciful to society as he has been to me. I’m ready, Warden.”

Happy reading! 

September 22, 2006

Race Wars–Week Two

Category: Movies/TV — jerry @ 3:48 pm

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    And so the Reward/Immunity Challenge went according to stereotype once again, with the Asians winning handily and…well–there was a twist or two.

   The Whites actually tied with the Asians.  And then–in one of SURVIVOR’s weirdest moments–the Hispanics threw the competition to lose on purpose so that the African-Americans came in third.  (Insert your own tasteless “affirmative action” joke here).

I’ve only seen that once before on SURVIVOR–a purposefully thrown competition.  It’s obviously a terrible strategy…unless one of your tribe members is just driving you crazy.  That’s what was happening here.  The Hispanics had a guy who you have to wonder: How does someone like this get on the show?  He clearly had poor social skills, was an outsider from his tribe throughout, and then–somewhat creepily–stated that he and some gal on another tribe had fallen “in love at first sight”, which had made it all worthwhile to him.  (Earlier in the show the brief interaction the two had was shown–about 3 seconds of conversation in which the girl on the other tribe said empathetically, “But we love you…”, after he had whined about being the next to go). 

He got voted off, making it two weeks in a row that chubby, out-of-shape guys with poor social skills had to leave the island.

What’s up with that?!

September 21, 2006

How To Win At Roulette (I’m Serious!!)

Category: Technology — jerry @ 6:09 pm

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    Back in the mid-1960s I read Edward Thorp’s book BEAT THE DEALER, wherein he demonstrated a system for beating the game of blackjack that he had devised using a computer (which back then were as big as houses).   The book fascinated me and probably had something to do with  my becoming a mathematics major in college.  (I recently had some brief correspondence with Dr. Thorp, who is now in the investment business–he wrote a book called BEAT THE MARKET years ago that also had quite an impact on the investment community).

In the blackjack book, he hinted at a system he was working on to beat the game of roulette.  Suuuuure, I thought…

And then some years later I came across a fascinating book called THE EUDAEMONIC PIE, by Thomas Bass, about that very thing–with some reference to the involvement of Dr. Thorp in the roulette system.  Very interesting.  However, that little experiment ended up fizzling out, and for a while the casinos were safe.

Then I came across an article at Britain’s GUARDIAN site, talking about how some guy was selling a device for beating roulette for 1000 pounds ($1500 or so, I think).  The thought that crossed my mind when I read this was the same as what crossed my mind when I read Thorp’s blackjack book–why on Earth did they tell us about this?  These schemes are ingenious and surely they could have made more money keeping quiet about it than selling books.  (Dr. Thorp was soon banned from every casino in the world).

Anyway, here’s the roulette article.  Fascinating:

(more…)

Gunner Palace–***** (Five Stars)

Category: Movies/TV — jerry @ 2:46 pm

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   Gee, I sure liked this movie.

   It’s not like the documentaries you see on CNN or FOX.

   This well-reviewed movie is about the boys.  Whether you love the War or not, you have to love these warriors.

    Surprisingly, I laughed at this movie as much as any I’ve seen in a while.  You’re supposed to!

    Language alert:  Really not much violence to speak of.  Absolutely no blood.  But the subjects of this film do talk like 20-something soldiers.  If you’re unable to “get past that” to see a documentary about what life is like for these lads while you sit comfortably at home, then I feel sorry for you…

September 20, 2006

How To Remove A Hickey

Category: Technology — jerry @ 8:56 pm

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    As your full-service blog, I thought this might be something you’ll need.

Things You’ll Need

  •  Toothbrush
  •  Eyeshadow or foundation a little lighter than your skin tone
  •  Concealer (preferably the green kind)
  •  Ice pack (pre-frozen ice pack or ice cubes wrapped in a towel)
  •  Concealing clothes

 Are you ready?  Ok, the article is right here.

Be sure and read the companion article “How to Give Someone a Hickey”.

You’re welcome.

This Month’s Stock Pick

Category: Money & Investments — jerry @ 8:55 pm

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    There were actually quite a number of picks I had to sort through this time.  It was hard to bypass some of the homebuilders with price/earnings ratios of between 3 and 5–but…there’s a reason they are down there. 

   I’m going with Arch Chemicals, Inc. (ARJ).  They make biocides that kill microbes.  Seems like that might be a losing battle, but on the other hand–there are an awful lot of microbes to go around so…that’s my pick.

 

September 19, 2006

The Year Nebraska Went Crazy

Category: Movies/TV — jerry @ 8:32 pm

Jeez, I hate to even bring this garbage up again–but maybe some of you Conspiracy Theorists out there will enjoy it.

Back in the 1980s–I don’t remember exactly when–we had a witch hunt going on here in Omaha for Pedophiles in High Places. Actually, some good was done and a couple of nasty local notables were exposed (so to speak) and a huge financial scandal uncovered.

But not before half of the town (including one or two of the local judges) were accused of something or other. It was incredible. As I recall, we called the whole episode the Franklin Community Credit Union Affair or somesuch…

Anyway, I came across this alleged “Discovery Channel” documentary about it that the opening credits say was banned (which I personally think is baloney), and I started to watch it not knowing what the subject matter was. I gave it about 30 seconds. It goes for almost an hour. I actually might watch it eventually (the streaming video quality isn’t all that good), but I would certainly take anything that it said with a grain of salt.

Those were interesting times, though. I hope your name never came up:

Want more about the Franklin Scandal? Check this out.