February 2013 Archives

Rodman in North Korean


Even though he is one of my heroes, I have no idea of where this will go or even what it means.


NBA star is in country with several Harlem Globetrotters

UPDATE: White House responds after Rodman's return

Rosa Parks Now for the Ages


'Strength from stillness': Rosa Parks statue unveiled in US Capitol


By Erin McClam

More than half a century after she refused to give up her seat on an Alabama city bus, Rosa Parks has an immovable place in the U.S. Capitol -- the first black woman to be honored with a statue there.

President Barack Obama and congressional leaders from both parties said at an unveiling Wednesday that the depiction was fitting: Parks is shown seated, hands clasped in front of her, eyes fixed forward.

"Rosa Parks' singular act of disobedience launched a movement," Obama said. "The tired feet of those who walked the dusty roads of Montgomery helped a nation see that to which it had once been blind."

On Dec. 1, 1955, Parks, then a 42-year-old seamstress, broke the law by refusing to give up her seat to a white passenger on a packed bus. Her arrest touched off a yearlong boycott of the bus system, a turning point in the civil rights movement. In 1956, the Supreme Court banned segregation on public transportation.

Parks died in October 2005, at age 92, and would have turned 100 this month.

On Wednesday, Rep. James Clyburn, D-S.C., and the highest-ranking black member of Congress, called her "the first lady of civil rights, the mother of the movement, the saint of an endless struggle."

The statue's unveiling took place on a day when memories of the civil rights struggle were not far from mind in Washington. Across the street, with Clyburn watching, the Supreme Court heard arguments on whether provisions of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 should stand. The act requires nine states, mostly in the South, to get federal permission to change voting rules.

President Barack Obama and Speaker of the House John Boehner look at the statue of Rosa Parks after its unveiling in the Capitol in Washington on Wednesday.

The statue of Parks, 9 feet tall and in bronze, will be in Statuary Hall, where the House of Representatives met in the early 1800s. It is part of a collection of 100 in five locations in the Capitol.

Among the others in Statuary Hall are William Jennings Bryan and Daniel Webster. House Speaker John Boehner pointed out that the statue of Parks will be "right in the gaze" of that of Jefferson Davis, president of the Confederacy. He said her unassuming presence should inspire people to "draw strength from stillness."

Parks was given the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1996 and the Congressional Gold Medal in 1999, but Rhea McCauley, a niece, told The Associated Press before the unveiling that this honor would be different.

"The medal, you could take it, put it on a mantel," she said. "But her being in the hall itself is permanent."

More than 50 of Parks' relatives had planned to attend the ceremony, and two of them, a niece and a longtime friend, helped Obama and congressional leaders yank down the shroud that covered the statue.

The sculptor was Eugene Daub of San Pedro, Calif.

"She seemed to me a very -- not shy, but modest. A very modest woman, and I wanted that to come through," he told NBC News. "That she wasn't ever looking for attention or celebrity, but she was just doing what she had to do."

Obama said that Parks' story is a reminder that "we so often spend our lives as if in a fog, accepting injustice, rationalizing inequity" -- like the bus driver, he said, but also like the other passengers.

"Rosa Parks tells us there's always something we can do," he said.


Why Scalia Rhymes with Pig


Stomach Surgery Cures Diabetes


'Amazing' results for diabetes patients after weight-loss surgery

By Robert Bazell

As weight-loss surgery has become more common over the last several years, doctors have had tantalizing clues that certain procedures bring dramatic reduction in type 2 diabetes -- beyond getting their ability to reduce the patient's weight.

The surgery appears to have stopped damage to the pancreas, reversing the cause of diabetes as well as alleviating the symptoms, the researchers reported Tuesday in the journal Diabetes Care.

A year ago researchers at the Cleveland Clinic carried out a careful trial of 150 patients with diabetes that was not being adequately controlled. One-third got gastric bypass, one-third were given a device similar to a lap band that reduces stomach volume, and the rest received the best drug therapies. The goal was to reduce the participants' blood sugar to below normal levels.

In the patients who got the bypass surgery the results were dramatic.

"It's pretty amazing," bariatric surgeon Dr. Philip Schauer of the Cleveland Clinic said at the time. "Many of our patients, even within hours of the operation, their blood sugar becomes normal ... even before they've lost any weight at all."

The big question was, would the results last? In a one-year follow-up study, published in the journal Diabetes Care on Tuesday, the answer is yes. "Gastric bypass surgery seems to uniquely restore pancreatic beta-cell function, presumably by targeting belly fat and modifying the hormones in the gastrointestinal tract," Dr. Sangeeta Kashyap, an endocrinologist with the Cleveland Clinic, said in a statement. "Gastric bypass remarkably targets belly fat where hormones that are toxic to the body develop."

Punching Ourselves in the Face for No Reason


Why Your Internet Service Sucks


At the heart of the problem lie a few powerful companies with enormous influence over policy making. Both the wireless and wired markets for high-speed Internet access have become heavily concentrated, and neither is subject to substantial competition nor oversight.

As internet access becomes more and more used as a utility rather than a luxury item, the need for government intervention and regulation becomes more and more apparent.

Why U.S. Internet Access is Slow, Costly, and Unfair

Animals That Ate At McDonalds


There are 4 separate clips so be patient.

Rollin' Safari

Scary Future Potentials


Big Brother is that you?

It's amazing how willing people are to adopt technologies without considering the full ramifications.

Temporary Tattoos Could Make Electronic Telepathy, Telekinesis Possible


Temporary electronic tattoos could soon help people fly drones with only thought and talk seemingly telepathically without speech over smartphones, researchers say.

Commanding machines using the brain is no longer the stuff of science fiction. In recent years, brain implants have enabled people to control robotics using only their minds, raising the prospect that one day patients could overcome disabilities using bionic limbs or mechanical exoskeletons.

But brain implants are invasive technologies, probably of use only to people in medical need of them. Instead, electrical engineer Todd Coleman at the University of California at San Diego is devising noninvasive means of controlling machines via the mind, techniques virtually everyone might be able to use.

His team is developing wireless flexible electronics one can apply on the forehead just like temporary tattoos to read brain activity.

"We want something we can use in the coffee shop to have fun," Coleman says.

The devices are less than 100 microns thick, the average diameter of a human hair. They consist of circuitry embedded in a layer or rubbery polyester that allow them to stretch, bend and wrinkle. They are barely visible when placed on skin, making them easy to conceal from others.

The devices can detect electrical signals linked with brain waves, and incorporate solar cells for power and antennas that allow them to communicate wirelessly or receive energy. Other elements can be added as well, like thermal sensors to monitor skin temperature and light detectors to analyze blood oxygen levels.

Using the electronic tattoos, Coleman and his colleagues have found they can detect brain signals reflective of mental states, such as recognition of familiar images. One application they are now pursuing is monitoring premature babies to detect the onset of seizures that can lead to epilepsy or brain development problems. The devices are now being commercialized for use as consumer, digital health, medical device, and industrial and defense products by startup MC10 in Cambridge, Mass.

Racist Politics?


How to Punk a Republican Senator's Staff


and what it says about Tea Party stupidity

Mike Pence: Republican Vagina Prober


Password Hint


hat tip to Yvonne P


501-day Mission to Mars in 2018


Millionaire reportedly plans private mission to Mars in 2018

red.dragon.mars.lander.jpgDragon space capsule landing on the surface of Mars. SpaceX's Dragon is a privately built space capsule to carry unmanned payloads, and eventually astronauts, into space.

By Alan Boyle

Dennis Tito, the millionaire investment whiz who became the first paying passenger to visit the International Space Station in 2001, is said to be planning a privately backed, 501-day mission to Mars in 2018. But the full details -- including whether humans will go along for the ride -- may have to wait until a Washington news conference next week.

Word of the venture came out in a media advisory passed along by the SpaceRef website on Wednesday. The advisory, attributed to the Texas-based Griffin Communications Group, describes a "Mission for America" that would capitalize on a favorable orbital opportunity to launch a round-trip mission to Mars in January 2018.

The advisory includes an invitation to attend a news conference at 1 p.m. ET Feb. 27 at the National Press Club in Washington, issued by the Inspiration Mars Foundation, which is described as a "newly founded nonprofit organization led by American space traveler and entrepreneur Dennis Tito."

Tito, a former rocket engineer, made his fortune as the founder of Wilshire Associates, a multibillion-dollar investment firm based in California. He made history in 2001 when he paid a reported $20 million for a ride aboard a Russian Soyuz spacecraft to the space station. At the time, the eight-day round trip was highly controversial and required changes in the policies governing space station operations. Since then, six other high-net-worth individuals have taken similar flights with little or no controversy. The current published price for such flights is upwards of $40 million.

Doug Keenan passes


I went Googling to find an old friend in the hopes of reconnecting after decades of separation and discovered his obituary.

A smart, gentle, genius arranger and seminal teacher for me and so many others.

Back in the day of the early 60's Doug and I were both members of a Sarnia drum corps called the Sertomanaires. Four years my senior, Doug took me under his wing and taught me horn playing and wrote me the arrangement of "I can't Get Started" thru which I won the Canadian National Championship. He was a great teacher and close friend and was largely responsible for making me a musician.

I still have the greatest of respect for him and will miss him. He changed lives for the better...what better way to spend one's life?

Here's how he was eulogized by the local paper in London. Ontario.

'You could hear him thinking'


The London jazz community is mourning the loss of Doug Keenan, a man whose music was equal parts head and heart.

Keenan was a trumpet, flugelhorn and piano player, arranger, composer, teacher, music-publication expert and more - and his contributions are so varied they defy easy summing up.

Born in Thunder Bay, the Sarnia-raised Keenan died on Aug. 4. He was 67.

His extended family in music and life counts everyone from London musicians who bought their first piece of sheet music from Keenan at one of the downtown shops where he worked, to fellow local trumpet heroes who sat beside Keenan in bands.

"He was the first pick -- everywhere," former student and frequent fellow band member Julie Anne Baskette said Wednesday. "He's going to leave a void for everyone, friendship-wise and musically."

There are memories and enduring music to sound in the silence. My private tribute has been to listen to Keenan playing piano on a recording made by London jazz musicians saluting a fallen colleague, the late drummer Ross Willis.

Keenan's solos and accompaniment on The Ian Robinson Quartet Minus One are even more moving than they were a decade ago. In part, it's the sense of loss in hearing such sounds from those now silenced. Sax player Ian Robinson died in 2008. Bassist Art Covey, a terrific duo partner with Keenan over the years, missed Willis "big time" during that session and is now among so many missing Keenan, too.

Yet -- and I'm sure this is true, too -- there is also that joy in the jazz moment so strongly felt during Keenan's solos. There is the joy of shared spontaneous creativity in his support for Robinson, Covey and Robinson's son, tenor-sax player Chris Robinson, who is a guest.

That recording marks less than an hour in Keenan's remarkable career, and doesn't feature his legendary trumpet or his admired arrangements for a big band.

Still, it's a treasure because it's a little part of what beauty Keenan left us.

keenan2.jpgMuch of that beauty was created in London, where Keenan eventually returned after a short stint studying music at Western and more schooling in Toronto.

Keenan's music ranged all the way from the fun of his Mardi Gras Clown Band or the cross-Canada Ice Capades tour in which he must have been a good-natured Gabriel to Stratford fanfares and shows at the Grand to his original scores and arrangements for jazz, pop and classical settings.

"Musicians loved to listen to him solo. You could hear him thinking," Prime Time big-band leader George Laidlaw said this week.

The London Jazz Orchestra was one place where Keenan and Beynon could join forces and where Keenan's own music could be heard.

The LJO is to celebrate Keenan and remember his music during its 25th season, which begins in the fall.

Keenan would find the chance to play good music almost anywhere.

He was in groups welcoming London Tigers fans to Labatt Park when the Double A ball club was in the game.

Once, Keenan came up with the idea of a French-themed group, likely to give the master of harmony a chance to arrange chansons he loved.

"We wore berets and I played my accordion and he played trumpet," Ralph De Luca, London Jazz Orchestra conductor and educator, remembered with a smile Wednesday.

Perhaps no one had a chance to marvel at Keenan's many roles over the decades more than London multi-instrumentalist and multi-talent Peter Hysen. They met about 40 years ago, when Hysen was a teenager, and played at least 1,000 gigs together by his estimate.

There were countless club dates at London watering holes long dried up.

There was boundless originality. Together with another Mardi Gras member, De Luca, Hysen and Keenan were part of a jazz writers' workshop. They would strive to bring something new to each weekly session.

In another group, Keenan found the sweet definition of jazz-making as seasonal work in writing new arrangements for songs of the season.

The Yuletide Players were a Keenan favourite even if the actual number of gigs was limited for obvious reasons.

"We did jazz versions of Christmas things. It wasn't necessarily jazz. It was just Christmas things with (more complex) chords," Hysen said.

Ah, that does sound perfect -- even in August.

Sure, it might seem a little early for Christmas when London's jazz community and his family celebrate Keenan later this month. But a Yule tune or two given the Keenan TLC would be harmonious on that night.

Doug Keenan, as it should have been apparent all along, was London's jazzman for all seasons.

Kill Anything that Moves


Who controls the world?


James Glattfelder studies complexity: how an interconnected system -- say, a swarm of birds -- is more than the sum of its parts. And complexity theory, it turns out, can reveal a lot about how the economy works.

Glattfelder shares a groundbreaking study of how control flows through the global economy, and how concentration of power in the hands of a shockingly small number leaves us all vulnerable.

Blaming Families for Structural Inequalities


Speaking of Close Calls


Just before a rock half the size of a football field races past the earth early today at 5 miles per second, some Russians experienced a much closer event when what is thought to be a meteor (or even two) streaked across the sky as a fireball and caused a huge sonic boom that broke windows and injured people.

What's interesting to me in the videos below is the dual parallel vapor trail left behind by the object. Why would a meteor leave a double trail?
The first video show the approach, the second indicates clearest picture of the double trail and the sound level of the sonic boom..

400 injured as meteor fireball screams across sky in Russia

By Alan Boyle

A huge fireball fell from the skies over Russia's Chelyabinsk region early Friday, resulting in a powerful blast that reportedly injured about 400 people.

Reports from Russia suggested that the fireball was caused by a meteorite.

"Preliminary indications are that it was a meteorite rain," the RIA-Novosti news agency quoted an emergency official as saying. "We have information about a blast at 10,000-meter (32,800-foot) altitude. It is being verified."

The Associated Press quoted a spokesman for the Russian Interior Ministry, Vadim Kolesnikov, as saying that the fireball caused an explosion and sonic boom that broke windows.

City authorities in Chelyabinsk, 930 miles east of Moscow, said about 400 people sought medical help, mainly for light injuries caused by flying glass, Reuters reported.

The fireball reports spread just hours before a 150-foot-wide asteroid was due to make a close flyby, coming within 17,200 miles of Earth.

A Valentine Forever




Good for Matt Damon...good for all involved.

Including all six parts, this is a candid interview with Water.org co-founder Matt Damon about the water crisis and what Water.org is doing to bring about change.

To learn more about the crisis, and what you can do to help, please visit us at

Join Matt's Strike to not go to the toilet

Name that moon!


Help Us Name the Moons of Pluto!

Pluto via Hubble
pluto.jpgImages taken by the Hubble Space Telescope in 2011 and 2012 revealed two previously unknown moons of Pluto. So far, we have been calling them "P4" and "P5", but the time has come to give them permanent names. If it were up to you, what would you choose?

By tradition, the names of Pluto's moons come from Greek and Roman mythology, and are related to the ancient tales about Hades and the Underworld. Please pick your favorites on the ballot .

Alternatively, if you have a great idea for a name that we have overlooked, let us know by filling out the write-in form. If you can make a good case for it, we will add it to the list. See the blog page for the latest info.

Ground Rules: Feel free to come back, but please do not vote more than once per day, just so everybody gets a fair chance to make their opinion known. We will take your votes and suggestions into consideration when we propose the names for P4 and P5 to the international astronomical community. Voting ends at noon EST on Monday, February 25th, 2013.




Exhonerating the Scottsboro Boys


Comment of the Day #124



Advice to the GOP

Stop badmouthing women.

Stop badmouthing Hispanics.

Stop badmouthing blacks.

Stop badmouthing gays

Stop badmouthing people who are paid by the hour.

Stop badmouthing unions

Stop badmouthing teachers.

Stop badmouthing firemen.

Stop badmouthing policemen.

Stop badmouthing poor people.

Stop badmouthing college graduates (Rick Santorum)

Stop badmouthing anyone who disagrees with you about anything.

Stop badmouthing the media (constantly)

Stop badmouthing mainstream churches.

Stop badmouthing atheist.

Stop badmouthing Muslims.

Stop badmouthing science

Stop sucking up to Rush the Junkie.

Stop sucking up to Fox Propaganda.

Stop sucking up to crazy conspiracy theorist.

Stop sucking up to Glen Beck

Stop sucking up to the crazies of the crazies at the NRA.

Stop sucking up to fundamentalist so called "Christian" ministers.

Stop talking about rape.

Stop talking about a whole wide range of subjects you know nothing about.

Find something to sell other than fear, fear and more fear.

Call out your crazies like Michelle Backnamm.

Call out your crazies like the Donald.

Call out your crazies like Sarah Palin.

Call out your crazies Rick Santorum.

Call out your crazies like Ted Nugent.

Call out the birthers among your own.

Call out flagrant racism among your own.

Stop trying to win electing by making it harder to vote.

Stop trying to win electing by changing the way votes are counted.

Stop your hypocrisy.

Admit you are NOT losing elections because of voter fraud.

Either stop telling everyone how much you love the Constitution or stop trying to amend the Constitution time after time after time.

Understand you need a whole lot more than a "cosmetic" makeover. What you need is a TOTAL MAKEOVER.

Cities as biological functions


Back in the early 70's I was writing in my journals that cities viewed from space look very similar to cells under a microscope. The speculation on my part of course was to wonder whether other aspects besides appearance of cellular life might be applied to what cities were as a biological entity. Cities have many biological parallels that can readily be metaphorically discerned without much effort; highways are akin to bloodstreams transporting nutrients and wastes and mobile cellular activities, communication lines are not unlike nerves...and so-on.

What struck me most importantly was that this metaphorical exercise yielded the idea that we humans we using scalability to construct a super being and we were the cells in it's body. Was there any "truth" to this concept? Was it a real consideration? Could there be a way to scientifically model such an idea? Is there a biological mapping to what cities and even civilizations taken as a whole are? Can any of that be quantified mathematically and can predictive models be generated from it?

Check out this TED talk for some answers:

Physicist Geoffrey West has found that simple, mathematical laws govern the properties of cities -- that wealth, crime rate, walking speed and many other aspects of a city can be deduced from a single number: the city's population. In this mind-bending talk from TEDGlobal he shows how it works and how similar laws hold for organisms and corporations.

Physicist Geoffrey West believes that complex systems from organisms to cities are in many ways governed by simple laws -- laws that can be discovered and analyzed.

Cutting video bandwidth in half


ITU group OKs H.265 video standard to cut bandwidth use in half

DG News Service
- An ITU group has approved a successor to the H.264 video encoding standard, opening the door to future video transmission using only half the bandwidth that's now required.

The International Telecommunication Union's H.265 standard is intended to help keep video flowing among smartphones, tablets, TVs and other devices as screen resolutions increase over the next 10 years. It should help to reduce the burden on wired and wireless networks, where video makes up a substantial portion of today's traffic. Vendors and service providers are expected to phase in the new standard gradually as products and services outgrow the limitations of current technology.

The current specification, also known as MPEG-4, is the most used video compression standard in the world, according to the ITU. It's the coding and decoding system for more than 80 percent of all Web video and is used to deliver high-definition video over broadcast, cable, satellite and Internet Protocol TV. H.264 is also used in mobile phones, videoconferencing, digital storage and Blu-Ray discs.

On Friday, the ITU-T's Study Group 16 gave first-stage approval to H.265, informally known as HEVC (High Efficiency Video Coding). Work continues on extensions to the standard, which eventually may include 3-D video encoding. Companies including Broadcom, Ericsson and Mitsubishi have shown implementations of the new standard, the ITU said.

Last August, Ericsson announced what it called the first live TV video encoder compatible with H.265. It predicted that the product, called the SVP 5500 HEVC encoder, would first be used to deliver TV over mobile networks."

You know you love 'em


The Uncle Ruckus Movie

Support the movie of the man you love to hate.
Who's Uncle Rukus? Think Boondocks and follow the links.


Asteroid 2012 DA14 Close Approach


Speed: 25,791 mph ......distance: 17,200 miles...Feb15 2013

Asteroid to give Earth record-setting shave

Close flyby comes on Feb. 15 -- but NASA says it won't smash into our planet

An asteroid half the size of a football field will give Earth the ultimate close shave this month, passing closer than many satellites when it whizzes by. But it won't hit the planet, NASA scientists say.

The asteroid 2012 DA14 will fly by Earth on Feb. 15 and zip within 17,200 miles (27, 680 kilometers) of the planet during the cosmic close encounter. The asteroid will approach much closer to Earth than the moon, and well inside the paths of navigation and communications satellites.

"This is a record-setting close approach," Don Yeomans, the head of NASA's asteroid-tracking program, said in a statement.

"Since regular sky surveys began in the 1990s, we've never seen an object this big get so close to Earth."

asteroid.jpgThis NASA graphic shows the size of asteroid 2012 DA14 as it compares to a NASA space shuttle. The asteroid is about 164 feet (50 meters) across.

Asteroid 2012 DA14 was discovered last year by an amateur team of stargazers at the La Sagra Sky Survey observatory in Spain. Yeomans stressed that, while the asteroid's approach brings it closer than the geosynchronous satellites orbiting 22,245 miles (35,800 km) above Earth, 2012 DA14 poses no threat of a deadly collision with the planet. [See Don Yeomans Explain Asteroid 2012 DA14 (Video)]

Trouble in Mapville



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