Good news, everyone!  

Posted by doug

At least, I hope so. Hypes come and go, and I often get crushed when I find out something didn't pan out the way I'd hoped. So I'm cautiously optimistic.

Scientists have figured out a way to make human skin cells act like stem cells. This is important for many reasons. If it works, then those dour reprobates who consistently argue that an embryo is a life can kiss my lily white ass. The whole argument becomes moot and they'll have to focus their Luddite appetites elsewhere. So they can go back to their fetus-fests1 while ignoring the full-blown adult version of humans.

The second reason why this rocks is that any potential cures can be personalized to the patient- ergo, no risk of rejection. When someone today gets, say, a new lung, they have to take drug upon drug to weaken their immune system so it doesn't reject that donor lung. Tissue grown using one's own skin cells will not need to be rejected, in the immune systems opinion, because it belongs to that person.

Something else that's interesting - these scientists used these cells to create beating cardiac tissue. So, I have to wonder, all those people who think that a beating heart makes a fetus alive - is this clump of tissue a person?

1 Coming to a town near you, usually in the spring. Stay away from the corndogs!

Lazy Sunday returns!  

Posted by doug

Well, sort of. After NBC sent in its clone army to remove all of its copyrighted material from Youtube, Lazy Sunday suffered. But now, with Hulu (which I'm still waiting on my invitation for), it's back! Enjoy!

Edit: I just looked back through my old posts and noticed that this Hulu link now makes you watch a commercial first. Sorry about that, old chap.

If I can be serious for a moment...  

Posted by doug

And I think I can1. Nature (in both the natural and man-made sense) regularly provides us with patterns. However, it's up to us to recognize and inject meaning (if any at all) into these patterns. I wonder if that's why people believe in creationism/nonsense? It's hard to believe that patterns occur naturally out of complex systems, but as they do it everyday, we should cease to be surprised by it. Still, I do not practice what I preach, no pun intended2. I enjoy these things as much as anyone. Some guys examined FAA flight data and mapped it along the 4th dimension - a fancy way of saying "over time". They produced a map of sorts with this data. Take a look below. Notice especially that as it gets late at night, flight pattern sort of withers away, while as the day progresses, it picks up again, starting on the East Coast and progressing westward along with the sun.

On an entirely unrelated note, bacterial colonies can be beautiful. Staph infections, not so much. I found these photos on the interwebs. I suspect the first one has been engineered somehow.

1. I so stole that joke from David Letterman
2. "No pun intended" means, "Hey, look at me, I made a pun!"

Finally, I have definitive proof...  

Posted by doug

... that America rules. Before you watch this, know that there are no speakers involved - the sound you hear comes solely from the Tesla coils themselves - well, that and the agony of their inventor's crushing loneliness.

On dreams, and why we shouldn't have them...  

Posted by doug

Have you ever dreamed of something, and thought, "Well, one day I'll do that, and it'll be awesome." Well, don't do it. You'll just get disappointed.

I went up to the roof of my 10 story office building yesterday to eat lunch. I thought it would be profound, standing against the ledge and watching the scenery while I serenely ate my hot pocket. And it would have been awesome, but there were wasps everywhere for some reason. I hate wasps, and all flying stinging creatures, because when I was in the 5th grade I stumbled upon a underground nest of hornets who chased me about a mile before giving up and going home to watch "Friends" or whatever the hell stinging creatures do when they're not stinging me. Ever since then, I've been very leery of these creatures. I even have a gut reaction against bees, even though I know they are extremely important to.. uh.. well, eating. So the wasps made me nervous and I couldn't enjoy myself and I eventually left and then I went back to my office and sat down to write some run-on sentences.

I'd rather go back to thinking that eating lunch on the roof is awesome.

I, for one, welcome our robotic driving overlords  

Posted by doug

It didn't get much coverage outside of nerd circles (or maybe it did, I don't really travel outside of nerd circles) - but there was a most amazing race this past weekend. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA, a unit of the Pentagon which is prettymuch responsible for the invention of the internet, held its almost annual Grand Challenge. This is a race, but not your typical NASCAR, let's drive in a circle and excite the natives race. This was a race without humans. Yeah, you read that right. Every vehicle in this race was entirely robotic. And not the cheap kind of robotic, where it's actually controlled by a human with a controller somewhere. Nope. These cars use GPS to figure out where they are, where they're going. They have sensors to avoid collisions and are painted in neutral gang colors in case they end up in the wrong 'hood.

When DARPA held it's first Grand Challenge in 2004, it was a 142 mile track in the middle of Ass End, California. They had it in the desert just in case a car developed intelligence and emotion, which if movies have anything to teach us, will make it dangerous. However, that didn't happen. Not much happened, actually. Not a single vehicle managed to finish the course. The next year, they held a very similar competition, only this time, several vehicles finished, including one built by a team from hurricane-ravaged New Orleans. Many people argued that driving in a lonely desert was a far cry from driving in an urban environment, with other cars, stop signs, and cheap gas station hot dogs. Well, those people can shut their filthy mouths, because that's been done. They held the 2007 race, the Urban Challenge, in an abandoned army base. They had human driven cars sprinkled around for the robots to deal with. They had stop signs and driveways and parked cars. And I'm sure it was amazing to watch these empty vehicles drive themselves around and stop at intersections with precision.

Flying cars? You can have 'em. I'd rather kick my feet up and read a magazine on my way to work everyday.

For more information, contact your local library, or just use these links:'s Grand Challenge page
An episode of NOVA about the race
The obligatory Wikipedia entry, with much detail lovingly crafted by nerds like myself


Posted by doug

The Dutch are interesting. Let me rephrase: the stereotypical Dutch are interesting. Are wooden shoes really that comfortable? And now I am completely out of Dutch stereotypes.

Remember G.I. Joe? I think the world would be a lot better off if it were more like G.I. Joe. First off, no one would die, because the bad guys have terrible aim. Secondly, the good guys always win, even though their aim is easily just as terrible. And we'd all have cool nicknames. I'll be "Torpedo". What? They already had a "Torpedo?" Fine, I'm "Footloose". That one's taken, too? Doc? Deep Six? Hawk? Iceberg? Screw it, I'm "Lady Jaye".

Special thanks to Joe Headquarters - I could easily spend five, ten minutes at this site.

Cheater, cheater, pumpkin eater  

Posted by doug

I have nothing to say, so here are some photos. They are photos that I myself took, so it's not totally irrelevant. I've found that in photography, most of the fun is in the taking of the pictures. It's always more fun to take the pictures than to actually see the end result, unless the end result is awesome, which is rare. These are scanned versions of a few pictures I took before I even got into digital photography.


Posted by doug

You know how when you were in high school, the cool people always said that you had to be "fashionably late"? I suspect that that was just code for, "As an asshole, I can't be bothered with the limitations of space/time".

Well, as an asshole, I can't be bothered with recognizing November 1st as an actual day in November. It never happened. The sun rose on November 2nd, and it was a lot like November 1st, except it was Friday, whereas what has November 1st ever given you1? So I will post every day this month, except for November 1st, because that's not even a real day. I mean, it's on the Aztec calendar, but who the hell understands that?2

1. Besides Mono
2. Obviously the Aztecs - C'mon, think outside the box!