Friday, May 16, 2008

Internets Lead To Robot Repair

Friday night, tired after a long week.

Watching a bit of live TV (no DVR to skip commercials) and stumble across this ad for a Lexus SUV.

While I find SUV's abhorrent, I was completely entranced by the music in the background. It sounds exactly like something by Imogen Heap.

Turns out (after 30 seconds of googling and finding a website dedicated to music in commercials
that the source isn't a band at all, per se. It's actually several guys that used to make big loot in the rollicking world of advertising, that have started their own company dedicated solely to making music for commercials.

Very clever name and website as well. The place is called Robot Repair, and apparently they are going to release an album of music longer than 30 seconds later this year.


Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Meat From The Lab.

Wow. I've been talking about this for years, how technology will eventually seriously complicate the vegetarian/non-vegetarian divide once meat can be grown without hurting animals.

Most of the time when I bring this up, carnivorous folks I'm talking with recoil with nasty looks on their faces at the prospect of eating meat from clean lab vats; this reaction doesn't seem to jibe well with the reality of the meat they are eating now, which even if it comes from an animal that lived a happy, free-range life (doubtful) it still went through some nasty $#|t as it was forced off this mortal coil. Not true with in vitro meat!

So, progress has been made, and we are all zooming along towards a slaughterhouse-free mcnugget.

Mmm-Mmm. With a name like "invitromeat" it's *got* to be good.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

V1 Cruise Missle Remains Found in London

In the news today, a WW2-era V1 proto-cruise missile (which for some reason the mainstream media likes to call a bomb, totally missing the unbelievable innovation of these horrific things) was unearthed during excavation for a new building in London.

Here is the link to the news story-->

This of course led me to re-peep the information on V1's, of which there is plenty on the net.

But what I really wanted to find was a sample of what one of these things sounded like. They were derisively nicknamed "doodlebugs" by those that were targeted; apparently the Brits had a habit of giving pejorative nicknames to scary things so as to take the edge of the terror.

The name referenced the strange sound V1s made: they had a primitive jet engine(!) that made a very distinct sound in flight, which was so loud it could be heard up to 10 miles away.

When the internal guidance system (!) sensed that the thing had flown far enough (measured by revolutions in the tiny nose-mounded anemometer thingy) it pitched the missile into a power dive. The force of the dive cut off fuel to the engine, and 15 seconds later the device and its very large payload hit the ground in a shallow dive (rather than dropping straight in like a conventional bomb) spreading death and destruction up to 1,800 feet away from the impact zone.

So people on the ground in England could totally hear these things flying over, and grew to know they had 15 seconds to hide once the weird sounds stopped.

That's pretty $#(*$ing terrifying.

Here's what they sounded like--> sound plays when after the page loads. Recording is very loud/distorted, so be careful. The sample actually has a flyover sound, and the engine cutting out, and the explosion. Amazing.

Lots of info there too.

The Wikki entry is fantastic too-->

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Shooting Marbles at 16,000 mph

This is how I want my tax dollars spent, along with bike paths.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

You sir: kindly be a proper gentleman, and take your feet off the sofa.


Personally I do enjoy thoroughly using the word, but only in the context of replacing the prevailing "very much" when giving thanks. Which apparently puts me in the company of Jed from The Beverly Hillbillies.

I found the following observation, and the thread about usage of kindly it comes from, very entertaining. (link at bottom) The "Speech Is Getting Shorter" theory also explains why the Civil War love letters in K. Burns' film seem so deeply foreign: its because we're on our way back to monosyllabic grunts!

It seems like most of the people in the thread think of kindly in the sense of prefacing a demand for something. In the quote below [numbers added] I love #5, as it sounds like a black-and-white detective movie to me, and #8 is totally something to shoot for (after I get my monocle.)
Based on the speech-is-getting-shorter theory I'd say 'please' will prevail because it's one syllable but in descending order of likelihood you'll hear:
  1. Take your feet off the sofa.
  2. Please take your feet off the sofa.
  3. Take your feet of the sofa, thanks.
  4. Kindly take your feet off the sofa.
  5. I'll thank you to take your feet off the sofa.
  6. Thanks in advance for taking your feet off the sofa.
  7. I would appreciate it if you would take your feet off the sofa.
  8. You sir: kindly be a proper gentleman, and take your feet off the sofa.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Arctic Doomsday Seed Bank

Work starts on Arctic seed vault

LONDON, England (Reuters) -- Deep inside the Arctic Circle work is about to begin on a giant frozen Noah's Ark for food crops to provide a last bastion in the battle against global warming.

And within a year the first seeds of what will eventually be home for samples of all 1.5 million distinct varieties of agricultural crops worldwide will be tucked safely inside the vaults deep in a mountain on the archipelago of Svalbard.

There, at the end of a tunnel 120 meters into the side of a mountain, 80 meters above estimated sea levels even if all polar ice melts, and 18 degrees Celsius below freezing, they will stay like a bank security deposit.

"It will be the best freezer in the world by several orders of magnitude. The seeds will be safe there for decades," said Cary Fowler of the Food and Agricultural Organization's Global Crop Diversity Trust.

"Svalbard is a safety backup -- and we hope we never have to use it."

The Norwegian government is footing the $5 million construction bill and the Global Crop Diversity Trust is providing the estimated $125,000 a year running costs.

"We are going back to the older varieties because that is where you find the largest genetic diversity ... and diversity is protection," Fowler told Reuters in London.

Svalbard will not find and sort the seeds. That is being left to the various seed banks around the world in the front line of the battle to protect biodiversity.

The function of the Arctic Noah's Ark will be to hold samples of all the food crop varieties in case disaster strikes any of the banks -- like the typhoon that wiped out the Philippines agri crop gene bank in October.

It will also ensure a pristine source of research material for the world's botanists struggling to create crop varieties that will be able to withstand the massive changes in rainfall patterns and temperature that may come with global warming.

The scientists from around the world predict that global average temperatures will rise by between 1.8 and 4.0 degrees Celsius this century due to human activities, putting millions at risk from rising sea levels, floods, famines and storms.

"Current crops are adapted to the current climate. Start changing that and you change everything," Fowler said. "Plant breeders will have to be designing totally new varieties."

"We already have a water crisis with agriculture and climate change will make it worse. It is not a simply matter of migrating crops northwards. Everything changes -- sunlight, temperature, insects, diseases, pollinators," he added.

He said the Svalbard seed collection would not include modern hybrid varieties because by and large they had genetic diversity bred out of them.

But it would also not rule out genetically modified organisms on the simple grounds that it would be virtually impossible to screen them out and in any case they would never amount to more than a tiny fraction of the total.

The vaults on the remote archipelago 1,500 kilometers north of the Arctic Circle should have been dug and lined with meter-thick concrete by October ready for systems installation and a formal opening early in 2008.

Within two years they should be holding the vast majority of the world's food crop varieties in splendid, frozen and permanent isolation.

Copyright 2007 Reuters. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Friday, December 01, 2006

I am relieved. The "Vendaface" machine WAS real.

For years I have been mentioning to people that there used to be this machine backstage for the first couple of seasons of the Muppet Show that would painfully re-arrange the muppets faces.

Nobody else I know seems to remember this machine.

Well, after some serious googling, I found it.