Tuesday, March 28, 2006

It's Borg-tastic!

LiveScience.com - Brain Cells Fused with Computer Chip:

The line between living organisms and machines has just become a whole lot blurrier. European researchers have developed 'neuro-chips' in which living brain cells and silicon circuits are coupled together....

The proteins allowed the neuro-chip's electronic components and its living cells to communicate with each other. Electrical signals from neurons were recorded using the chip's transistors, while the chip's capacitors were used to stimulate the neurons.

It could still be decades before the technology is advanced enough to treat neurological disorders or create living computers, the researchers say, but in the nearer term, the chips could provide an advanced method of screening drugs for the pharmaceutical industry."

Resistance is fu-tile.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Powell Misunderstood/Misled?

From Jack at Slate:

"But there was one very persuasive section—playbacks of intercepted phone conversations between Iraqi military officers that suggested they were hiding WMD from the U.N. inspectors...

Powell played these tapes as Exhibit A in his presentation, and for good reason. They appeared to reveal that the Iraqis still possessed illegal chemical or biological agents and that they were deliberately hiding the materials from inspectors.

In a Slate column at the time, I called the tapes a "smoking gun." Six months later—after "major combat operations" had ceased, the U.S. military inspectors had failed to turn up any WMD, and the once-dubious parts of Powell's briefing had been proved conclusively false—I wrote that those tape intercepts were still "puzzling." Were the tapes fabrications, like the forged "yellowcake" documents? Were the translations accurate? Were these officers really talking about what Powell said they were talking about? Were they staging the conversation to make U.S. officials listening in believe Saddam had WMD (on the premise that the possession of such weapons might deter the United States from invading)?

Now, three years after the fact, a plausible answer has emerged. In the middle of a big article in Sunday's New York Times, Michael Gordon and Gen. Bernard Trainor report that the officers were talking about removing not weapons, agents, or munitions, but rather "residue from old unconventional weapons programs" dating back to before the 1991 Gulf War."

Well, thank goodness we got that straightened out before we, like, invaded their country or something.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

The Costs of War (continued)

The Costs of War:

"Check out these vivid examples: for the same $315 billion, over 71 million people could have received comprehensive health care (36 million are currently uninsured); 61 million students could receive university scholarships; nearly 5 million workers could be employed as port container inspectors (only 6 percent of the 9 million containers arriving annually are currently inspected); or every child in the world could be given basic immunizations for the next 80 years..."

Take him up on it

Maybe it's Time to Negotiate With the Enemy:
"(Dear Mr. President,)
Why not come to the table with al-Qaida? Could anything be more empowering to our cause than to engage them with their own weapons - words?.... Who are we to say that people like Osama bin Laden and al-Qaida can't change?

Finally, as a man of faith, I'm sure you know that Jesus modeled humility and forgiveness. Jesus refused to embrace the logic of, “If someone hits you, hit back! If anyone takes your coat, burn down his house!” No, Jesus said turn the other cheek, never stop forgiving and love your enemies."

I don't know that we can expect these evil people to change, but shouldn't we be able to meet with them, debate, and let the whole world see who is right? The only downside to negotiating with Bin Laden is that he cannot control his gang of ne'er do-wells any better than Arafat could...he can negotiate the deal, but he can't enforce it. But we could win a debate of ideas with Al Quaida, right? That's all I'm sayin'.


WorldNetDaily: Time to face facts in Iraq:

"...perhaps we should consider empowering a military junta (which can operate behind the facade of a nominal democracy). We can arm it, finance it, and do business with such an entity. In exchange, this junta – or strong man as the case may eventually turn out – will grant us the petroleum we seek, the bases we need, and will agree, if we (and the Iraqi people) are especially lucky, to govern with a kinder, gentler face than was the case with Saddam."

Hey, why not just put a neutered Saddam back in power? Rumsfeld & Co. dealt with him well enough in the 80's...when he was committing the crimes he's on trial for now.

Is this the best we can expect from our war now?
I hate to say it, but it looks like we were all better off before we dethroned Saddam, even if he was a madman. For a while there though, back in the 80's, he was our madman....killing those pesky Iranians and befuddling the Soviets, establishing a non-Islamic government in the heart of the Middle East. Oh Saddam, we had it so good till you invaded Kuwait. Oh, and the Kurd killing, we didn't like that either. And the detentions. Well, Saddam was pretty much your typical a-hole dictator type....you know, about the best thing we could hope for in Iraq now, so we can eventually, someday begin leaving.

update 11/13/06: more Alternet:

"Rumseld met with Hussein in December 1983 and returned again on March 24, 1984--the very same day the United Nations released a report that Iraq had committed war crimes by using mustard gas and tabun nerve agent against Iranian troops. "American diplomats pronounce themselves satisfied with Iraq and the U.S., and suggest that normal diplomatic ties have been established in all but name," The New York Times reported five days later.The official transcripts of Rumsfeld's report on his meetings with then Iraq Foreign Minister Tariq Aziz and Hussein himself make clear that our defense secretary never even mentioned the brutal suppression of the Dujail Shiites, which has now earned the dictator a death sentence. The diplomatic message was clear: Hussein's brutality, and even his use of chemical weapons, was not an obstacle to warm relations between the United States and Iraq."

Hey, I know Saddam was a brutal dictator, but the reality is that he was better for US than what we have now. Even Rummy knew this 20+ years ago....I guess he forgot?

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Battery Wattage

Wired 14.03: START: "The M1, based on the same lithium-ion technology used in your cell phone and laptop, is the first product from MIT spinoff A123 Systems. Cofounder Yet-Ming Chiang, a materials science professor, succeeded in shrinking to nanoscale the particles that coat the battery's electrodes and store and discharge energy. The results are electrifying: Power density doubles, peak energy jumps fivefold (the cells pack more punch than a standard 110-volt wall outlet), and recharging time plummets. Going nano also solves a safety problem. Regular high-capacity Li-ion batteries tend to explode under severe stress, like if they're dropped from a ladder."

This was a big advance...if we can keep coming up with more solutions like this, we may never need hydrogen-driven cars....straight from gas to 'lectric.
5 minute plug-in for a 90% charge? Takes about that long to pump gas....

Sunday, March 05, 2006

How Sweet It Is

It was supposed to be the year to beat up on Carolina. Even hardcore fans had no expectations from this team, a 20-win season seemed overly-optimistic. But guess what? The defending National Champions are the best team in the country today. It's a Cinderella story, folks. Who'd have thunk it?
Hansbrough has had a better season than Sean May did (to this point anyway) last year.
Carolina starts 3 white guys, 2 of them freshmen and the other a walk-on.
We're 9 deep.
Beat #1 Duke @ Cameron? Check