May 27, 2009

Hot Gas

True - George Gibbs, from Columbus, Ohio, suffered second-degree burns on his head. One freezing cold winter morning, he was unable to start his car. George diagnosed the problem as a frozen fuel line which he thought he could correct by running warm gas through it. He then tried to heat a two-gallon can of gas on his gas stove in the kitchen.

Government Healthcare Plans Unfold

Under a new set of proposals by Senate Democrats, which resemble those under consideration by their peers in the House, everyone in the U.S. would be required to carry health insurance starting in 2013, except illegal immigrants and people with religious objections (I guess their's remains free care). Government would regulate the marketing of commercial insurance to families and employers as well as sales commissions paid to insurance agents and brokers.

Medicaid would be expanded to cover additional low-income families with children.

Families making up to four times the poverty level ($88,200 for a family of four) would be eligible for tax credits to help them afford coverage. Taxpayers would have to report their health insurance coverage on their federal income tax returns and the penalty for not carrying insurance would be up to 75 percent of the premium for the lowest-cost health plan in the area where the person lives. (This is like Massachusetts has now)

Health insurance companies would have their premiums regulated, and allow workers to drop out of group health plans to seek a better deal on their own, but the employer would have to pay the premium amount into a "national health insurance exchange."

The feds would set minimum standards for what benefits health plans would offer, including physician services, hospital care and prescription medications. All health plans would have to offer four levels of coverage, ranging from lowest to high.

Most companies would be required to offer insurance to full-time employees, or else pay a special "excise" tax. The government would provide tax credits to small businesses with up to 25 employees. Businesses with the lowest-wage workers would get more aid. All of this great stuff to save money and it only is estimated to cost 1 trillion dollars - such a deal!

Running Healthy

Roger Bannister is the first man in history to run a mile in less than four minutes. On the magic day, May 6, 1954, Bannister almost scrapped the whole run. It was windy and he preferred to save his energy for another run when the wind wouldn’t ruin his time, but the winds died down and Roger consented to race. When the announcer took the mic to tell the excited stadium what the final time was, he purposely drew out the announcement as long as possible to tease the masses. When he finally said, “3. . .” the crowd went nuts and drowned out the rest of the result, which was 3:59.4.

He only held the record for six weeks. Aussie John Landy surpassed the sub-four-mile mark by just a sliver (3:57.9). On August 7 of the same year.

Bannister got his chance to win the title back when he and Landy faced off at the British Empire and Commonwealth Games. Although Landy led for the majority of the race, Bannister came up with his famous “Bannister Burst” in the last quarter of the race and sped past Landy to win. Landy ended up retaining the record anyway: they both came in at times slower than Landy’s previous 3:57.9. The current record of 3:43.13 was set by Hicham el Guerrouj of Morocco in 1999. Wow! 45 years and about 15 seconds faster.

Domestic Robot

Twendy-One is a 3 plus-foot-tall humanoid developed at Waseda University, in Japan, to help disabled people with household tasks.

It has a six-axis force sensor in each fingertip and can grasp soft objects like paper cups as well as manipulate small items like a straws or pencils. Stay tuned folks. These things are closer than you think.

Forgetful Senior

Grandpa decided that shopping for Christmas presents had become too difficult. All his grandchildren had everything they needed, so he decided to send them each a check.

On each card he wrote, "Happy Christmas, Grandpa"

P.S. Buy your own present.

While Grandpa enjoyed the family festivities, he thought that his grandchildren were just slightly distant. It preyed on his mind into the New Year. Then one day he was sorting out his study and under a pile of magazines, he found a little pile of checks for his grandchildren. He forgot to put them in with the Christmas cards.

New Kind of Search Engine

This one doesn't just provide links, like Google. Wolfram/Alpha gives you meaningful data back. Type in a company name and get the stock quote, type in a calculation and it gives you the answer, type in a date and it gives you information about sunrise, day of year, etc. It gives scientific answers, chemistry answers, culture - Oh just go there by clicking on the link above and have some fun.

Teeth Jewels

Teeth with jewels and gold might seem like a new thing, but gem-studded teeth were popular among people from all walks of life in pre-Columbian Mesoamerica, purely for decorative purposes.

As far back as 2,500 years ago, dentists could drill teeth using obsidian drill-like devices, which are capable of penetrating bone. They may even have used some kind of herbal anesthetic. Then they attached the gemstones using plant resin adhesive. The ancient drillers knew enough to avoid the pulp inside teeth, and so managed to avoid an infection or broken tooth. Now celebrities are starting to tattoo their teeth.

Speaking of BCE

My son told me about the new designations for BC and AD, so I had to go look it up. - There really is no difference between an AD/BC and BCE/CE system when it comes to historical dates. The year 23 AD is exactly the same as the year 23 CE, and 4004 BC is also 4004 BCE.

References to historical dates under either classification shouldn't create confusion. Major historical dates such as 1492 AD is now 1492 CE and 1776 AD is 1776 CE.

The AD/BC method of identifying historical dates is traced back to Catholic historians working in the early Middle Ages. Identifying historical dates until that point was often a complicated proposition, since different historians worked under different calendars. Converting historical dates to the standard Gregorian calendar would not have been easy, so they began using the birth of Jesus Christ as a central point.

The term BC is short for "Before Christ". Historical dates before the birth of Christ become smaller as they approach the theoretical Year Zero.

Historical dates after the birth of Christ are classified as AD, short for the Latin phrase Anno Domini, or "in the year of our Lord". Another goodie that we learned in school has become useless - and that was one of the few things I actually remembered.

Cell Phone Only

The number of US households opting for only cell phones has for the first time surpassed those that just have traditional landlines.

Twenty percent of households had only cells during the last half of 2008, according to a government survey released May 6, 2009. That was an increase of nearly 3 percentage points over the first half of the year, the largest six-month increase since the government started gathering such data in 2003. The 20 percent of homes with only cell phones compared to 17 percent with landlines but no cells.

Sixty percent of houses still have both cell and landlines and two percent have no phones. If they could find a way to add a phone to the remote and mute the TV when I answer. . .

Mini Satellite, Big Payload

A 10 pound tiny satellite, shaped like a loaf of bread, called PharmaSat lifted off from a US Air Force four-stage Minotaur 1 rocket on May 5. The satellite will circle the Earth at 17,000 mph while carrying a micro-laboratory packed with sensors and optical systems.

The launch is hailed a the beginning of a revolution where the size and weight of spacecraft decline steadily, but retain much of the capabilities of its larger brethren.

PharmaSat is being launched to help NASA scientists better understand how medications work during space flights. Focusing on antifungal treatments, the microlab on board the satellite is designed to detect the growth, density and health of yeast cells and then send that data back to Earth for analysis. The satellite is also built to monitor the levels of pressure, temperature and acceleration that the yeast and the satellite experience while orbiting the globe. It also will prove that biological experiments can be conducted on sophisticated autonomous nanosatellites.

Robot Thinker

This was developed at the National Institute of Information and Communications Technology in Japan, i-1 is a 50-degrees-of-freedom, freestanding, full-body humanoid with stereoscopic cameras as eyes and microphones as ears.

The robot is helping researchers study how humans interact and communicate with machines. Wow, a robot helping us understand robots. Hmmm. Maybe next they will come up with on that will help us understand women.

AT&T Gets Bigger

AT&T Inc. said Friday, May 8, it will buy the assets of Verizon Wireless for $2.35 billion, a deal that will affect 1.5 million subscribers.

Verizon Wireless was forced to sell the service areas, which are spread over 18 states, to satisfy regulatory conditions of its purchase of Alltel Corp for territories that overlap with Verizon's own coverage, and some Verizon territories and areas covered by Rural Cellular, another carrier Verizon bought last year.

Dallas-based AT&T, the country's largest telecommunications company, is getting spectrum licenses, cell towers, and 1.5 million subscribers. Since AT&T phones aren't compatible with Alltel or Verizon phones, these subscribers will need new phones to use AT&T's network. Ah, back to the good old days of reduced competition for phone companies. Caveat Emptor!

May 19, 2009

Terrible Tommy on Scribd

Here is a copy of an ebook I just published on Scribd. This one and more ebooks from me will soon be available for only a buck. Wow, cheap at twice the price. Enjoy!

You can click on the arrows above the book to turn pages or place the hand cursor to the right side of the page and click to turn. Also, there is a little box above the book at the top right that you can click to see the book in full page mode.

May 8, 2009


A string of DNA is about two nanometers across.

Sexy Over Sixty

Massachusetts House Bill 1668, (filed Jan 13, 2009) "An Act Relative to Posing or Exhibiting or Disseminating Material of an Elder or a Person with a Disability in a State of Nudity or Sexual Conduct" would make it a crime to "photograph with 'lascivious intent' a person over the age of 60 or a person with a disability who has been declared mentally incompetent."

If it is passed, a person violating the new provisions of the law "shall be punished by imprisonment in the state prison for a term of not less than ten nor more than twenty years, or by a fine of not less than ten thousand nor more than fifty thousand dollars, or by both such fine and imprisonment." This would include spouses photographing one another with "lascivious intent" and the person who poses.

State Democrat Representative Kathi-Anne Reinstein, above right (unmarried) says the bill she sponsored was intended to protect vulnerable (elderly) populations from sexual predators, but some disability advocates and law buffs have criticized the amendments as restricting the sexual freedom of seniors and people with disabilities.

Adding insult to injury, the proposal amends a bill designed to punish those who make child pornography. It treats fully functional adults who happen to be over 60 the same as children under 18; it explicitly takes away their right to consent to pose or be photographed nude.

I looked it up and she is from Revere, MA. with a population of 47,000, 84% Caucasian, and with 9,000 over 62 years old. She was born Jan 31, 1971 (38).

Protection in the form of stealing people’s rights isn’t protection. This is the same argument that was used to deny women the right to vote 100 years ago: “Protecting” them from the upset of digesting political information and the pressures of citizenship. Hey, AARP - where are you?

Not only is this stupid and unnecessary, it is also unconstitutional. Do you think she might have seen her parents naked, and they were ugly?

More Robot Stuff

Albert Hubo is 3.3-foot-tall battery-powered walking humanoid with realistic, human like facial expressions. The robotic body was developed by researchers at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology, and the head is a creation of Hanson Robotics, a Texas company that makes interactive conversational robots.


"Committee - A group of men who individually can do nothing, but as a group decide that nothing can be done." Fred Allen

"If you had to identify, in one word, the reason why the human race has not achieved, and never will achieve its full potential, that word would be 'meetings'." Dave Barry

Global Warming

New York Times April 24, 2009 by Bjorn Lomborg, director of the Copenhagen Consensus Center at Copenhagen Business School - "If the Kyoto agreement were fully obeyed through 2099, it would cut temperatures by only 0.3 degrees Fahrenheit."

National Priorities

Below are the results from a national survey by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press (an independent opinion research group that studies attitudes toward the press, politics, and public policy issue), conducted Jan. 7-11, 2009, among 1,503 adults. (results +/- 3%) Contrast these results with the current administration's plan to spend billions of our tax dollars to reduce global warming.

Did you notice where fixing the environment is, third from last, and the last item on the list? Hmmm. . . Helloo White House, are you dyslexic?


You have eard of 'What Would Jesus Do' - Here is another idea.

Speaking of Bacon

You are more likely to die from a coconut falling on your head than from Swine Flu - Oh, I mean H1N1

The U.S. government and the World Health Organization are taking the swine out of "swine flu," but the experts who track the genetic heritage of the virus say this: If it is genetically mostly porcine and its parents are pig viruses, then it is swine flu.

Scientifically this is a swine virus. Six of the eight genetic segments of this virus strain are purely swine flu and the other two segments are bird and human, but have lived in swine for the past decade.

BTW - The US government is ditching the swine label because many people are afraid to eat pork and hurting the $97 billion US pork industry. The experts who point to the swine genetic origins of the virus agree that people can't get the disease from food or handling pork, even raw. Eat more bacon.

May 4, 2009


Iodine was discovered in 1811 by accident by Bernard Courtois. He had a factory that produced saltpeter (potassium nitrate), which was a key ingredient in ammunition. He had figured out how to fatten his profits and get his saltpeter potassium for next to nothing by getting it from the seaweed that washed up daily on the shores. Iodine is plentiful in saltwater and concentrated in seaweed. All he had to do was collect it, burn it, and extract the potassium from the ashes.

One day, while his workers were cleaning the tanks used for extracting potassium, they accidentally used a stronger acid than usual and mysterious clouds billowed from the tank. When the smoke cleared, he noticed dark crystals on all the surfaces that had come into contact with the fumes.

When he had the crystals analyzed, they turned out to be a previously unknown element, which he named iodine, after the Greek word for “violet.” It was soon discovered that goiters, enlargements of the thyroid gland, were caused by a lack of iodine in the diet. That's why iodine is now added to table salt and goiters are mostly a thing of the past.

Artificial Legs

The picture is a twenty dollar prosthetic knee joint, developed by Stanford’s JaipurKnee Project team, during prototype testing last August. The knee joint was on display April 8, 2009 at the university.

The team studied the mechanics of high-end titanium knee joints in the US, which cost from $10,000 to $100,000. The team also surveyed the materials used to build cheap prosthetics for developing countries and designed a versatile knee joint made from an oil-filled nylon polymer. The self-lubricating joint has greater flexibility, demonstrating a much higher performance.

They fitted 43 of these joints to date in India, for field tests to improve the model. The plan is to produce 100,000 during the next few years. One more example of how healthcare does not have to be expensive.


The term "it's all fun and games until someone loses an eye" is not from your mother. It is from ancient Rome, where the only rule during wrestling matches was no eye gouging. The only way to be disqualified was to poke someone's eyes out. And I thought my mother made that up.


The banana fruit is a berry and does not grow on a tree, but actually grows on the world's largest herb and is a member of the lily family.

Scientists at the Texas A&M University's institute for biosciences and technology are working on ways to grow vaccines inside bananas.

Dishwasher Robot

Anybots, in Mountain View, Calif., is developing tele-operated mechanical servants like Monty, a two-armed wheeled robot equipped with gyroscopes, force sensors, and actuators powered by ultracapacitors.

Japan had them for a few years and are on to the second generation. Cool stuff and it works for nothing. If you want to see more, check this link to YouTube.