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Birds are a liquid

Posted on November 12th, 2009 at 18:55 by John Sinteur in category: Great Picture

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Cactus Flight 1549 Accident Reconstruction

Posted on November 12th, 2009 at 18:39 by John Sinteur in category: Great Picture


The NTSB released the public docket for Flight 1549 on June 9, 2009. The docket contains a wealth of information that can be utilized in a full 3D reconstruction of the accident. Our work goes deep into the underlying framework of information and encompasses the entire spectrum of accident information. Integrating all spatial and temporal data allows us to approach this accident from a never-before-seen perspective. The ability to flexibly combine data, camera views and other visual elements is a key advantage in presenting an engaging real-time presentation of the accident sequence. All work you see on this page would withstand the rigors of qualification for presentation either as demonstrative evidence or, if sufficient witness testimony is available, real evidence. We have the capability to blend all of the information you see into any perceivable final product, depending on your specific visualization needs. The video below is best viewed full screen with HD enabled.

Rumack: Captain, how soon can you land?
Captain Oveur: I can’t tell.
Rumack: You can tell me. I’m a doctor.
Captain Oveur: No. I mean I’m just not sure.
Rumack: Well, can’t you take a guess?
Captain Oveur: Well, not for another two hours.
Rumack: You can’t take a guess for another two hours?

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Posted on November 12th, 2009 at 18:27 by John Sinteur in category: Cartoon

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Everything you want to know about the scary, secret copyright treaty

Posted on November 12th, 2009 at 18:15 by John Sinteur in category: Intellectual Property

Here’s what you can expect in the future:


The MPAA has successfully shut down an entire town’s municipal WiFi because a single user was found to be downloading a copyrighted movie. Rather than being embarrassed by this gross example of collective punishment (a practice outlawed in the Geneva conventions) against Coshocton, OH, the MPAA’s spokeslizard took the opportunity to cry poor (even though the studios are bringing in record box-office and aftermarket receipts).

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‘A Universe From Nothing’ by Lawrence Krauss, AAI 2009

Posted on November 12th, 2009 at 18:06 by John Sinteur in category: awesome

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  1. Great talk – reminds me of Richard Feynman somewhat – at least in their irreverent senses of humor. “I am, therefor I think I am”… 🙂

Goldman Sachs: Your tax dollars, their big bonuses

Posted on November 12th, 2009 at 14:44 by John Sinteur in category: Robber Barons


It’s probably cold comfort, but Goldman Sachs couldn’t have done it without your help.

The New York-based investment firm turned another eye-popping profit Thursday, earning $3.2 billion in the third quarter, as revenue from trading rose fourfold from a year ago.

As Wall Street firms typically do, Goldman set almost half that sum aside to compensate its workers. Through the first nine months of 2009, the firm socked away $16.7 billion, enough to pay the average Goldmanite $526,814.

The bonus pool is on pace to hit $21 billion for 2009, which would match the record bonus payout of 2007.

Goldman said it won’t decide the size of the bonus pool till year-end. In any case, the payments will be substantial — and will come just one year after huge sums of taxpayer dollars were funneled to financial institutions.

Critics charge that the lion’s share of Goldman’s profits comes from making big bets using cheap dollars printed by the Federal Reserve. Plus, given the crisis that followed the failure of Lehman Brothers, there’s a sense that government officials won’t let big firms go bust. That in effect gives too-big-to-fail firms a license to bet the house.


While Goldman churned out $3 billion in profits in the third quarter, the economy shed 768,000 jobs, and home foreclosures set a new record.

More than a million Americans have filed for bankruptcy this year, according to the American Bankruptcy Institute. A September survey of state finances by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities think tank found that state governments faced a collective $168 billion budget shortfall for fiscal 2010.

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  1. As with all the rest of his great stimulus plans, Obama just threw millions to these businesses with no guidelines, no restrictions, no ‘strings attached’. If GS is showing billions in profits, shouldn’t they begin repaying the gov’t (us) the LOAN that allowed them to prosper? Shouldn’t thses payments be made BEFORE the executives reward themselves with big bonuses – those very same executives who led them into trouble in the first place?
    The same people who are reporting on their wonderful financial reversal need to investigate and report to the American people exactly how WE will be reimbursed for our support during their crisis. Obviously, no one in gov’t considers this a priority.

  2. Obama? It was Bush’s Paulson who put together the (virtually mandatory) bank rescue. Goldman Sachs needed it much less than other banks, possibly not at all. They have already repaid it. Try to keep up.

The Progressive Puppy: Rhode Island Governor Vetoes Burial Rights For Gay Couples

Posted on November 12th, 2009 at 14:35 by John Sinteur in category: ¿ʞɔnɟ ǝɥʇ ʇɐɥʍ


It seems like such a simple act of compassion – allowing the partners of committed same-sex couples to make funeral arrangements for their significant others.  But according to Governor Donald L. Carcieri of Rhode Island, bestowing this small but vital legal right to gays and lesbians will somehow “degrade” traditional marriage.  From the Providence Journal

An opponent of same-sex marriage, Governor Carcieri has vetoed bill that would have added “domestic partners” to the list of people authorized by law to make funeral arrangements for each other.  In his veto message, Republican Carcieri said: “This bill represents a disturbing trend over the past few years of the incremental erosion of the principles surrounding traditional marriage, which is not the preferred way to approach this issue.”


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Followup: Medical News: Gene Therapy Arrests ALD Progression

Posted on November 12th, 2009 at 11:45 by John Sinteur in category: News

As a followup to this post about a gene therapy using the HIV virus, a biochemist (although one not personally working with viruses) sent me this email:

I had a look at the Science article about the ALD gene therapy done with a HIV-derived vector. Sorry it took some time, I currently don’t have direct access to Science articles. Anyway, what is described in the article is the following: HIV-1 (in vitro) had all genes but a few inactivated in order to annihilate the virus pathogenic characteristics. This is done using pretty standard molecular biology techniques (there’s an article about viral vectors on Wikipedia, if you’re interested in further reading). Genes left in the virus include gag, pol and rev, which are important for the infection process (that is, so that the virus can recognize cell surface, penetrate the cells and the nucleic acid may replicate inside them). The general “zombie” virus was actually manufactured by a company, the authors of this study just did further manipulation, by adding the gene lacking in these kids (the gene is named ABCD1).

The study was done on two boys, that possessed defective copies of the ABCD1 gene. Long story short, the boys had some cells (called CD34+) extracted from their blood, and these cells were treated, in vitro, with the modified viral vector. Then the cells were screened, and good cells were reintroduced in the patients. So no virus was ever injected in the kids, as far as I could understand. The demyelinating process decreased and more or less halted some months after the gene therapy. These sort of results had only been seen before in children having received successful bone marrow transplants. The promising stuff with this treatment is that it could be done to any kid independently of finding donors or not, since it’s all done with their own cells. It could potentially be useful also for adults or older kids that have developed the symptoms (other therapies are less effective by this stage).

Last thing: inactivating HIV in vivo is a whole different matter. We’re talking about inactivating a virus inside a human body; trust me, it’s nothing like doing stuff in the lab bench. The little bastard disguises himself in the host and there is no technology allowing manipulating genes in viruses when they are inside a body. So, it’s not possible to just inactivate the necessary genes in infected people. Well, there has been some partial success with interferon therapy, but it can’t stop the progress of the disease.

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  1. Thanks, both for the email and for you to publish it 🙂

  2. You’re welcome, thanks for the 15 seconds of fame 😛

Ten most troubled states in the U.S.

Posted on November 12th, 2009 at 8:59 by John Sinteur in category: News


The same economic pressures that pushed California to the brink of insolvency are wreaking havoc on other states, a new report has found.

And how state officials deal with their fiscal problems could reverberate across the United States, according to the Pew Center on the States’ analysis released Wednesday.

The 10 most troubled states are: Arizona, California, Florida, Illinois, Michigan, Nevada, New Jersey, Oregon, Rhode Island and Wisconsin.

Other states — including Colorado, Georgia, Kentucky, New York and Hawaii — were not far behind.

The list is based on several factors, including the loss of state revenue, size of budget gaps, unemployment and foreclosure rates, poor money management practices, and state laws governing the passage of budgets.

Can you guess how the states deal with this news?

Indeed, denial:


Wisconsin Department of Administration (DOA) Secretary Michael Morgan made the following statement regarding a report released Wednesday by the Pew Center on States that contains factual errors and uses them to wrongly compare the fiscal situation of Wisconsin to California.

In no way can Wisconsin be compared to the nation’s most financially troubled states, especially California.

While Wisconsin has been affected, like all states, by the national economic downturn, we have balanced our budget by cutting spending and raising revenues as needed.

In addition, recent reports have shown that many other states have large revenue shortfalls in the current fiscal year. But Wisconsin does not. The Pew Center report is factually inaccurate. From the outset, the report is fundamentally flawed.

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Contrasts in How Google Suggests Searches

Posted on November 12th, 2009 at 6:56 by John Sinteur in category: News


When you type a query into Google it will suggest the most popular completions to the given prefix.

There are some remarkable contrasts, Slate found, between “dumb” searches and “smart” ones. People who start their search “how 2” are more likely to search “how 2 get pregnant” or “how 2 grow weed.” People who start their search “how one might” are more likely to search “how one might discover a new piece of music” or “how one might account for the rise of andrew jackson in 1828.”

The most fascinating contrast is between “is it wrong to…” vs. “is it ethical to.” One change in word generates very different suggestions.

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