Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Mercedes Blondz

Monday, February 26, 2007

Jesus tomb found, according to James Cameron

Israeli construction workers building an apartment complex in Jerusalem's East Talpiot district first uncovered 10 of the 2,000-year-old ossuaries - or limestone coffins - in a tomb in March 1980.

According to the Israel Antiquities Authority, six of those coffins were marked with the names Mary; Matthew; Jesua son of Joseph; Mary; Jofa (Joseph, Jesus' brother); and Judah son of Jesua.

Another grave said by producers to be of Mary Magdalene convinced researchers of the truth of their find, Mr Cameron said at a New York news conference.

Unveiling his documentary The Lost Tomb of Jesus, Mr Cameron said the chances of finding that combination of names together was like finding a grave marked Ringo next to others marked John, Paul and George.

"Mariamene is Mary Magdalene - that's the Ringo, that's what sets this whole film in motion," he said.

Israeli archaeologist Amos Kloner, who was among the first to examine the tomb when it was first discovered, said the names marked on the coffins were very common at the time.

"I don't accept the news that it was used by Jesus or his family," he told the BBC News website.

Local residents said they were pleased with the attention the tomb has drawn.

"It will mean our house prices will go up because Christians will want to live here," one woman said.


Saturday, February 24, 2007

Funny Windex Ad

GPS Pay-as-you-drive Auto-Insurance

The insurance, which has been sold by Norwich Union since October, uses the Global Positioning System of satellites to keep track of where, when and how far a car has been driven to determine rates each month.

Journey details are collected by a device the size of a compact disk case that is installed under the dashboard of the car. Each night, a mobile phone link automatically transmits an encrypted account of the car's exact movements — road-by-road, mile-by-mile — in order to produce an itemized monthly bill.

"The idea is that people should be charged for the risks that they take while driving, not the risks taken by others," said Kay Martin, who heads the "Pay As You Drive" project at Norwich Union. "We find that knowing the time and location of a driver gives a pretty good indication of their accident risk."

Initial studies by the insurance company, which involved monitoring 5,000 drivers for two years over more than 100 million miles, or 160 million kilometers, turned up a few reliable location- and time-based predictors of accident risk:

Drivers in morning rush hour are 50 percent more likely to have an accident than drivers out on the weekend.

Drivers on low-speed country or urban roads are 10 times more likely to have an accident than drivers on highways.

Serious accidents involving fatalities are far more likely to happen from midnight to five in the morning than at any other time of day.


Colossal Squid Caught

This Colossal Squid lived up to its name by weighing in at 450kg (992lb) and measuring 10m (33ft) – the biggest ever caught.

With its fearsome reputation as one of the most dangerous predators of the deep, a group of fishermen weren't taking any chances when they accidentally landed the beast in deep Antarctic waters.

The New Zealand crew took two hours to land the squid – a male – which was happily chomping on a fish when it was captured.

The squid was frozen in the ship's hold and taken to New Zealand for examination. Wednesday's catch is thought to be the first time humans have come into contact with a live Colossal, a species reputed to grow to the same length as Giant Squid but much heavier.


Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Was Cleopatra Ugly?

She was the legendary queen of Egypt who seduced two of the most powerful men in the ancient world.

But a silver coin that went on display at a British university yesterday suggests Cleopatra's beauty may be Hollywood fiction.

On one side the coin shows the Egyptian ruler with a shallow forehead, long nose, narrow lips, and a sharply pointed chin (at left above). On the other, her longtime lover, the powerful Roman general and politician Mark Antony, is depicted with a large hooked nose and thick neck (right).

The unflattering images suggest that fictional accounts—from Shakespeare's Antony and Cleopatra to the HBO TV series Rome—overplay the attractiveness of the doomed couple.

"The image on the coin is far from being that of Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton," said Lindsay Allason-Jones, director of archaeological museums at Newcastle University, in a statement.

"Roman writers tell us that Cleopatra was intelligent and charismatic, and that she had a seductive voice but, tellingly, they do not mention her beauty. The image of Cleopatra as a beautiful seductress is a more recent image."


Thursday, February 15, 2007

Why do Men Ignore Wives?

It's just our nature.
A psychologist has found the answer to the age old question many women have about their husbands: " Why does her husband often seemed to ignore her requests for help around the house?"

New research findings now appearing online in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology show that that people do not necessarily oppose others' wishes intentionally, but even the slightest nonconscious exposure to the name of a significant person in their life is enough cause them to rebel against that person's wishes.

Working with Duke Ph.D. student Amy Dalton, Chartrand and Fitzsimons have demonstrated that some people will act in ways that are not to their own benefit simply because they wish to avoid doing what other people want them to.

Psychologists call this reactance: a person's tendency to resist social influences that they perceive as threats to their autonomy.

"Psychologists have known for some time that reactance can cause a person to work in opposition to another person's desires," Chartrand said. "We wanted to know whether reactance could occur even when exposure to a significant other, and their associated wishes for us, takes place at a nonconscious level."

"The main finding of this research is that people with a tendency toward reactance may nonconsciously and quite unintentionally act in a counterproductive manner simply because they are trying to resist someone else's encroachment on their freedom," Chartrand said.

The researchers suggest that people who tend to experience reactance when their freedoms are threatened should try to be aware of situations and people who draw out their reactant tendencies. That way, they can be more mindful of their behaviors and avoid situations where they might adopt detrimental behaviors out of a sense of rebellion.

Not surprisingly perhaps, Chartrand and Fitzsimons, as wife and husband, also take home some slightly differing messages from their experiments.

Chartrand believes her husband "should now be better equipped to suppress his reactant tendencies." Fitzsimons, however, believes the results "suggest that reactance to significant others is so automatic that I can't possibly be expected to control it if I don't even know it's happening."


Piano Playing Cat

Monday, February 12, 2007

Nobody tells this wookie what to do!

A street performer dressed as Chewbacca from "Star Wars" apparently succumbed to the dark side when he allegedly head-butted a tour guide operator in front of Grauman's Chinese Theatre in Hollywood, Los Angeles police said today.

"You could see him exploding in his mask," Sapir said. "He said, 'Nobody tells this wookie what to do."

6'4" Frederick Evan Young then ripped off his Chewie mask and headbutted Star Line Tour guide, Brian Sapir.


Dishmaker: Never Wash Another Dish?

While the dishmaker appears unwieldy, this "dishwasher sized" apparatus can actually replace cabinets worth of dishes by storing them as flat disks. Only a small amount of pressure and heat is necessary to reshape the acrylic into a bowl (and back).


Scientists discover way to store image on photon

John Howell, associate professor of physics, and his team have discovered a new technique for storing a digital image on a photon. It’s a potential breakthrough because not only were they able to store the image but also retrieve it entirely intact. The new technique could lead to more effective ways to store large amounts of data on light.

“It sort of sounds impossible, but instead of storing just ones and zeros, we’re storing an entire image,” says Howell. “It’s analogous to the difference between snapping a picture with a single pixel and doing it with a camera—this is like a 6-megapixel camera.”

Howell’s group used a completely new approach that preserves all the properties of the pulse. The buffered pulse is essentially a perfect original; there is almost no distortion, no additional diffraction, and the phase and amplitude of the original signal are all preserved.


Vaccines for Drugs and Obesity?

Vaccines have been doing their part to eradicate disease since the 18th century, typically by jump-starting the immune system to fight infectious bacteria and viruses such as those that cause the flu, cholera, or tetanus. But in 1974, narcotics researcher C. Robert Schuster, then at the University of Chicago, and his colleagues published the first evidence that vaccines could rev up the immune system against a different type of target—heroin. In a twist on their typical preventive role, these vaccines stop substances from satisfying an already-addicted user's cravings.

If these vaccines eventually head to the market, they'll be welcomed by addicted people, who currently have few effective treatment options, says vaccine researcher Janda. He and his team saw a similar possibility for people struggling against obesity.

To produce their antiobesity vaccine, the researchers needed a molecule on which to focus the immune system's antibodies, like the nicotine or cocaine molecules targeted by vaccines against those addictions. But obesity is a complex phenomenon spurred by hundreds of different molecules in the body. Eventually, Janda's team settled on ghrelin, a hormone that spikes hunger, slows metabolism, encourages fat storage, and shifts food preferences toward diets rich in fat.

The scientists created molecules that mimic the structure of different forms of ghrelin. By attaching each one to a larger carrier protein, the team created three different vaccines. The researchers then vaccinated groups of rats with one of the vaccines or a placebo.

Janda's group found that rats vaccinated against either of two forms of the hormone called ghrelin 1 and ghrelin 3 gained significantly less weight and had less body fat over the next several months than did rats vaccinated with the placebo, even though all the animals ate the same amount of chow.


Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Steve Jobs on DRM

let’s (...) explore three different alternatives for the future.

The first alternative is to continue on the current course, with each manufacturer competing freely with their own “top to bottom” proprietary systems for selling, playing and protecting music. It is a very competitive market, with major global companies making large investments to develop new music players and online music stores. Apple, Microsoft and Sony all compete with proprietary systems. Music purchased from Microsoft’s Zune store will only play on Zune players; music purchased from Sony’s Connect store will only play on Sony’s players; and music purchased from Apple’s iTunes store will only play on iPods. This is the current state of affairs in the industry, and customers are being well served with a continuing stream of innovative products and a wide variety of choices.

The second alternative is for Apple to license its FairPlay DRM technology to current and future competitors with the goal of achieving interoperability between different company’s players and music stores. On the surface, this seems like a good idea since it might offer customers increased choice now and in the future. And Apple might benefit by charging a small licensing fee for its FairPlay DRM. However, when we look a bit deeper, problems begin to emerge. The most serious problem is that licensing a DRM involves disclosing some of its secrets to many people in many companies, and history tells us that inevitably these secrets will leak. The Internet has made such leaks far more damaging, since a single leak can be spread worldwide in less than a minute. Such leaks can rapidly result in software programs available as free downloads on the Internet which will disable the DRM protection so that formerly protected songs can be played on unauthorized players.

The third alternative is to abolish DRMs entirely. Imagine a world where every online store sells DRM-free music encoded in open licensable formats. In such a world, any player can play music purchased from any store, and any store can sell music which is playable on all players. This is clearly the best alternative for consumers, and Apple would embrace it in a heartbeat. If the big four music companies would license Apple their music without the requirement that it be protected with a DRM, we would switch to selling only DRM-free music on our iTunes store. Every iPod ever made will play this DRM-free music.

Why would the big four music companies agree to let Apple and others distribute their music without using DRM systems to protect it? The simplest answer is because DRMs haven’t worked, and may never work, to halt music piracy. Though the big four music companies require that all their music sold online be protected with DRMs, these same music companies continue to sell billions of CDs a year which contain completely unprotected music. That’s right! No DRM system was ever developed for the CD, so all the music distributed on CDs can be easily uploaded to the Internet, then (illegally) downloaded and played on any computer or player.

In 2006, under 2 billion DRM-protected songs were sold worldwide by online stores, while over 20 billion songs were sold completely DRM-free and unprotected on CDs by the music companies themselves. The music companies sell the vast majority of their music DRM-free, and show no signs of changing this behavior, since the overwhelming majority of their revenues depend on selling CDs which must play in CD players that support no DRM system.


Handheld to Feature Flexible Display

Telecom Italia and Polymer Vision have joined forces to create a mobile device that features a roll-up e-paper-like display. It's a grayscale and can't be read in the dark, but the 5-inch screen represents a significant step forward in terms of incorporating this technology on mobile devices.


Monday, February 05, 2007

Making Electricity With Candles?

The Hole - video powered by Metacafe

New Apple Vista Ad

Haven't found the video anywhere yet, just saw it on TV... Apple has a new Apple Guy/ PC Guy commercial where PC Guy shows up with a bodyguard [the Windows Vista security feature] that prompts for a "allow/ deny" message on pretty much every interaction PC has. Very clever.

Not even posted at Apple yet. Amazingly, YouTube doesn't seem to have it either.

The Internet Cultural Divide

From the NY Times:
While America’s Internet users send e-mail messages and surf for information on their personal computers, young people in China are playing online games, downloading video and music into their cellphones and MP3 players and entering imaginary worlds where they can swap virtual goods and assume online personas. Tencent earns the bulk of its revenue from the entertainment services it sells through the Internet and mobile phones.

Another distinguishing feature is the youthful face of China’s online community. In the United States, roughly 70 percent of Internet users are over the age of 30; in China, it is the other way around — 70 percent of users here are under 30, according to the investment bank Morgan Stanley.

I've been finding differences with the Internet use in Brazil as well... there are probably different patterns all over the world...

Thursday, February 01, 2007

29-year-old Sex Offender Poses as a 12-year-old in Public School

In nearby Surprise [Arizona], where Casey was enrolled as a 12-year-old in a public school for four months, he was regarded as a shy, average student with chronic attendance problems. A man identified as his uncle had registered him, attended curriculum night and e-mailed his teachers about homework assignments.

Now Casey is in jail, and his former neighbors and classmates have learned the unthinkable: Not only is Casey not Casey — his real name is Neil H. Rodreick II — but he is also a 29-year-old convicted sex offender who kept a youthful appearance with the aid of razors and makeup.


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