Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

[Interesting picture of the week] It's worth a look.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Ohhh man. Second scariest rabbit ever.

So that was an interesting move by GNU, adding a "no-military use" clause to their GPL ("the program and its derivative work will neither be modified or executed to harm any human being nor through inaction permit any human being to be harmed") for their latest ad-hoc supercomputer project. I wonder if their initial intentions will actually be respected... hah, right.

On the other end of the spectrum, iRobot's PackBots seem to be all the rage with the military. I'd certainly appreciate some bomb-sniffing, land-mine disarming, danger-surveying robots if I were in Iraq...

And for the more entertainment-minded of us, this brilliant shirt from the best show ever created makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. Although Chase cheated, God should never have gotten that last point. And for the record, it's my birthday one week from today. Keep that in mind as you browse the House merchandise =)
"I fear for the human race. A teenager claims to be the voice of God and people with advanced degrees are listening." --Dr. Gregory House

To wrap it up here's an interesting post referred to me by Dana: acceptance of evolution = happiness? Hmm... and that's all folks.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

The FDA and NIH are corrupt government agencies just like the rest of them. We need to demand largescale microarray diagnostics within the next year. The technology is there, my lab alone could crank it out in a month, if it were allowed to. It's relatively easy. But no, HMOs like money, and therefore do not allow these life-saving biochips to make their way onto the market. And I suppose with unprecedented abilities to diagnose genetic disorders, risk factors, plus any viral, fungal, or bacterial pathogen we have ever sequenced, Dr House would be out of a job. So naturally, this is a good reason to let people die. The logic is flawless. We need to make this technology so accurate and cost-efficient that they can't ignore it anymore. This is a call to anyone with access to a lab, anyone with access to a computer, anyone who knows or wants to know anything about genetics, oligonucleotide synthesis, bioinformatics, diagnostics, or medicine. This is a call to all wanna-be scientists who aren't too enchanted by the idea of impressing the wrong people to realize the real reason we are in this field: to make discoveries, to help humanity. Make this technology so good, that there is no alternative. Well, what are you waiting for? Start the revolution...

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Suresh Rattan, EIC of Biogerontology, would like everyone to know about the journal's special release, which allows free access until December. This issue focuses on the potential of caloric restriction diets in humans. Enjoy!

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

After years of ruthless battles, duels to the death, and countless generations of struggle, there is still one undying question, one last unresolved mystery: Vi or Emacs? These two god-like editors and their followers have been warring factions since their conceptions. But which, which is better? At 3:31am on this Wednesday morning, August 9th, six years into the third millenium AD, I have reached a conclusion: it's Emacs, you bloody Vi losers...

Monday, August 07, 2006

Ah, what an excellent post on bioethics and its conservative champion Leon Kass! This beautiful rant about Kass's opposition to stem cell research and life-extension technology can be summed up in the last several paragraphs:

And another thing. Stem cell research, of whatever variety, is not congruent with the field of anti-aging research. The latter is not wholly dependent on the former. Let's say we dropkick the whole cloned stembryo mess right over the fence. Poof. It's gone. We will still end up with radical life extension by other means. Of course, it will certainly take longer and probably cost more. But it will eventually arrive.

Thought experiment time. Through the miracle of Quantum Flux Modulation, powered by ten megawatts worth of Prigoginic Entropy Shunts, your tired, saggy carcass blooms like a blushin' rose. We could use cell repair nanobots if you prefer, but the end result will be the same. You feel like...a million bucks. Pity it's the freaking twenty fifth century, but at least no specks of nascent human goop were harmed in the production of your perky new corpus. All it took was silicon, electricity, and five hundred years worth of progress in Doubletalk Engineering.

So, how does the average citizen feel about this? Pretty darn satisfied, I imagine. No moral quandaries regarding exploitive biological techniques. No religious objections, because after all, we aren't trying to cheat God. It's like antibiotics and vaccination, only better. It's well known that nothing physical can last forever, and presumably God doesn't mind waiting. We just have a slightly longer cosmic eyeblink to move around in. Wouldn't that be nice?

Here's the thing. Leon Kass would still hate it. It's the thing itself, the lengthened lifespan, that chafes him so. The cellular indignity angle is just a sideshow, a preliminary skirmish. To him, extended life is a tragic societal mistake, no matter how it's achieved. That's why I think he's a moral monster.

Well said, Justin.

On another note, slightly related in that it relates to human enhancement technology, virtual reality just got a lot better with the University of Buffalo's computer-finger interface, or as they put it, the Fingertip Digitizer: Applying Haptics and Biomechanics to Tactile Input Technology.

And as much as our egos liked to pretend it would never happen, especially those of us working at Lawrence Livermore Nat'l Labs, it looks like Japan's MDGrape-3 (a play on "Apple") is about to take the title for #1 Fastest Supercomputer in the world. Reaching speeds of a petaflop, this baby is three times faster than IBM's BlueGene. The only chance BlueGene can hang onto its title is if Grape's highly specialized hardware makes it ineligible for the Top 500 list. Only time will tell.

In the meantime, let governments spend billions of dollars on their testosterone-fueled supercomputing contests; it is now easier than ever for the little person to achieve unthinkable computing speeds on very little cash. If you are familiar with parallel computing and Beowulf clusters, then you already know that for a fraction of the cost, people are building formidable speed machines in their basements. This excellent online book by Robert Brown of Duke University gives the layman a good idea of exactly how and why to build a Beowulf. Thousands upon thousands of computers are disposed of every year, posing an environmental hazard and a lot of wasted cash. Stripping these outdated machines and pirating their parts into a sort of supercomputing-cluster-jalopy has become an accepted practice among universities and industries. Besides costing next to nothing, assuming you get the old computers donated (or for very cheap), the appeal behind do-it-yourself supercomputers lies in the skill, patience, and economic sensibility required for the task. Expertise in networking is not as essential as expertise in parallel programming. This is sheer, you-versus-the-machine, pizza-and-Jolt-cola, late-night-early-morning adventure, with the result being not only an extremely fast cluster, but an overwhelming sense of accomplishment. Besides, you get to tell people at parties that you build supercomputers in your spare time ;-)

So what are you waiting for? Get building, or you just might find yourself falling behind, sort of like the recently devolved mice at the University of Utah...

Saturday, August 05, 2006


Here at the online University of Phoenix, you will receive a comprehensive education in the philosophy of future success in your new career: Powerpoint, Outlook Express, filling out surveys, & how to open a PDF file. Our team exercises also teach you the invaluable lesson, If you want something done, do it yourself.

We offer both an online curriculum graded by foreign nationals in Bangalore, as well as our ground campuses, located in seedy strip malls across America.

Hiring managers take note when they see University of Phoenix on your resume! Our graduates are well-represented among civil servants, food-service specialists, motel managers, carnal entrepreneurs, & TV news anchors. The University of Phoenix online law school is a major recruiter for Jacoby & Myers, & our online medical school provides staffing for fine nationalized health industries in Canada, Britain, & Libya.

A few of our successful alumni:

  • Ward Churchill, Phd in Excel spreadsheets from University of Phoenix online Business School
  • Arianna Huffington, licensed manicurist from University of Phoenix online Beauty Academy
  • Nancy Grace, MFA in Ecru from University of Phoenix online Arts Academy
  • Bill Frist, Phd, University of Phoenix online institute of Parapsychology

The University of Phoenix is competitive with finer educational establishments such as the Bryman School, Control Data Institute, & the Barbizon School. We have a diverse student body, including housewives returning to brush up their cocktail waitressing techniques as well as motivated individuals on work furlough or community service. University of Phoenix is also a fine employer, & is always hiring new instructors, starting at $13 an hour.

Watch out USC: the University of Phoenix is excited to be fielding its first online football team, with the nubile University of Phoenix online cheerleaders. Call today to take advantage of our special offer: University of Phoenix's new 3-week master's programs in homeopathy, store window display, Adobe Acrobat, & copy-&-paste.

See also University of Phoenix Sucks!

(Compliments of my father.)

Happy 15th Birthday to the World Wide Web...

Friday, August 04, 2006

Now that's what I call way too many away messages...


Still the best message ever received: 09/30/05

AutoResponse from JataVincitOmnia: delta-epsiloning it...
bbyb21980: ur in a sorority??? o_O

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

The most over-designed soda machine in the world actually seems very practical. How many times have we all tried to buy something before realizing that the machine only takes exact change?

And Google is indeed taking over the world, starting with 22 cities in the US. Dodgeball is an interesting merger between the physical world and the metaverse that will emerge from the internet. If you're in one of those cities, you have no excuse not to sign up. Unless you don't have a cellphone. In which case, you're not living in the right century anyway.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

A preview of things to come? If only...