Jun 27, 2009


Not everything that counts can be counted, and
not everything that can be counted counts.

California Going Bookless

California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has announced plans to phase out school textbooks in favor of digital learning aids.

The measure will allow California schoolchildren to ditch traditional math and science textbooks for digital versions later this year, the (Terminator) Governor told schoolchildren in Sacramento.

"The textbooks are outdated, as far as I'm concerned, and there's no reason why our schools should have our students lug around these antiquated and heavy and expensive textbooks."

California is the first state in the United States to introduce such an initiative. The move comes as Schwarzenegger looks to slash spending across a range of sectors in a bid to narrow California's projected 24 billion dollar budget deficit.

With the average price of a school textbook coming in it around 100 dollars, Schwarzenegger said initial savings from the plan would be between 300-400 million dollars. If the scheme was widened to cover more subjects, hundreds of millions more would be trimmed from the annual budget, he said. Next, some namby pamby organization will be asking for a tax increase to pay for the PCs to read the digital books.

How Much is a Trillion

If you counted 24 hours a day, it would take 31,688 years to reach one trillion.

Loch Ness Nessie Debunked

Remember this famous shot? British surgeon Robert Kenneth Wilson claimed he took the photograph while driving along the northern shore of Loch Ness. He said he noticed something moving in the water and stopped his car to take a photo. For decades this photo was considered to be the best evidence of the existence of a sea monster in the Loch. It came to be known as "The Surgeon's Photo."

It wasn't until 1994 that the secret of the image was revealed, when a man named Christian Spurling, shortly before his death at the age of 90, made a confession. He described a plot involving Wilson, himself, and big-game hunter Marmaduke Wetherell (his stepfather).

Wetherell dreamed up the hoax. He asked Spurling to make a model of a serpent. Spurling did this by attaching a serpent's head and neck to a toy submarine. This model was then photographed in Loch Ness, and the picture given to Wilson, whose job it was to serve as a credible front-man for the hoax. The image given to the media was cropped to hide perspective, making the "monster" appear larger than it actually was.


The word 'Checkmate' in chess comes from the Persian phrase 'Shah Mat,' which means 'the king is dead'.

Iceberg Hoax

Many of you have seen this famous picture and it is also used on some motivational posters.

It's actually a composite of four different photographs taken in Alaska, Antarctica, and California created by nature photographer Ralph Clevenger.


The only nation who's name begins with an 'A' , but doesn't end in an 'A' is Afghanistan.

New Fillings

A calcium phosphate nanocomposite filling in a tooth can smartly release decay-fighting agents to buffer against acids produced by bacteria, and rebuild the lost tooth minerals by releasing ions into the mineral-deficient area of the tooth.

70 percent of all dental procedures involve replacements to existing repairs, at a cost of $5 billion per year in the United States alone. Now, scientists at the American Dental Association’s Paffenbarger Research Center, have shown that nanotechnology has the potential to lessen that toll by producing tooth restorations that are both stronger than any decay-fighting fillings available today, and more effective at preventing secondary decay.

A dentist creates the filling by mixing the pure liquid resin with a powder that contains coloring, reinforcement and other materials, packing the resulting paste into the cavity, and illuminating the tooth with a light that causes the paste to polymerize and harden. Makes me smile just thinking about.

Merle Haggard, Outlaw

Long before he was an outlaw country crooner, Merle Haggard was a real outlaw. At 20, Haggard and a few friends planned to rob a restaurant.

They got drunk and waited until 3 o'clock in the morning, when they knew it would be empty, but when they broke in, they were surprised to find the restaurant full of people. Turns out, in their drunken haze, they accidentally wandered in at 10:30 pm. The attempted burglary landed Haggard in San Quentin State Prison, where he saw Johnny Cash perform three times, inspiring him to pick guitars instead of locks.


Hope sees the invisible,
feels the intangible,
and achieves the impossible.

Robot Surgery

The da Vinci robot has been around for 5 years and used in tens of thousands of surgeries.

Its safety and efficacy have been documented in hundreds of clinical publications. It makes it possible for a patient to have major surgery with only a few tiny incisions. The surgeon can operate with better visualization, precision, dexterity and control than possible using traditional surgical approaches. It has been used in everything from minimally invasive heart surgery to minimally invasive cancer surgery, to treat conditions as diverse as prostate cancer, endometrial cancer, obesity and mitral valve regurgitation.

In short, the da Vinci Surgical System combines robotics and surgical technology that enables surgeons to provide the least invasive treatment option available for a wide range of complex conditions.

Sugar on a Stick

That's the name for new, free, open source software. It runs from a USB stick plugged into any PC and features forty software programs, including Read, Write, Paint, Games, and Etoys. Children can even create their own books with backgrounds and characters.

Sugar is the core component of a worldwide effort to provide every child with equal opportunity for a quality education. It is available in twenty five languages and used every school day by almost one-million children in more than forty countries.

Children, as young as four, can engage in exploring knowledge, expressing themselves through writing, drawing, video, even programming the computer. It allows them to work collaboratively and use it to create a portfolio of their accomplishments and a diary of daily school activities. With the Sugar Learning Platform, the age-old question “What did you do in school today?” takes on new meaning.

Jun 19, 2009

Hoax Debunked

An image of an enormous cat being held in the arms of a bearded man began circulating around the internet in early 2000. The picture attracted attention, because it didn't seem possible for a cat to be that large, but the chance that the cat was real couldn't be ruled out either.

At some point an unknown prankster added a caption to the image, claiming it showed "Snowball," a monster cat owned by Rodger Degagne of Ottawa, Canada.

The photo attracted so much attention that it was eventually featured on television shows such as NBC's The Tonight Show with Jay Leno and ABC's Good Morning America, but both Snowball's story and picture were fake.

In May 2001 Cordell Hauglie, a resident of Edmonds, Washington, came forward to admit that he created the fake image by using photo manipulation software and had then e-mailed the image to a few friends as a joke, never intending that it would pass beyond those friends.

A few months later the picture had spread worldwide. Hauglie only realized what had happened when the picture started appearing on TV shows, in newspapers, and in magazines. To his amazement, he had unintentionally become an internet celebrity simply by sharing a joke with a few friends.

Lincoln Revisited

The standing portrait of Lincoln was created soon after the American Civil War. Although it hung in many classrooms, Lincoln never posed for it. Instead, an unknown entrepreneur created it by cutting-and-pasting a head shot of Lincoln onto a portrait of the Southern leader John Calhoun. This was done because there were hardly any heroic-style portraits of Lincoln made during his life.

In the Calhoun image, the papers on the table say “strict constitution,” “free trade,” and “the sovereignty of the states.” In the Lincoln image, these words have been changed to read, “constitution,” “union,” and “proclamation of freedom.”


You have to be careful about being too careful.

Breast Cancer

Not a pleasant topic, but this info might help. Having malodorous armpits and wet sticky earwax is bad enough, but Japanese scientists found a more serious problem for women facing these cosmetic calamities.

They found a gene responsible for breast cancer also causes these physical symptoms. The report is from the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology June 2009 edition.

"We do strongly hope that our study will provide a new tool for better predication of breast cancer risk by genotyping," said Toshihisa Ishikawa, Ph.D., from the Department of Biomolecular Engineering at the Tokyo Institute of Technology and the senior researcher involved in the work.

Their discovery could lead to practical tools for clinicians to rapidly identify who might have a higher risk for breast cancer and become lifesaving clues to the early detection and treatment of breast cancer.

Do You Testify

To 'testify' was based on men in the Roman court swearing to a statement made by swearing on their testicles.

Touch Table Technology

You might remember last year when I wrote about the Microsoft table technology or seen it used during the elections. Here is a video of some practical uses.

If you watch the video, be alert during the middle, when he shows what the Iranians are doing in the desert, very interesting. The price is down to fifty-nine thousand dollars, so it might be cheap enough for my next birthday present. hint, hint.

Chew the Fat

During the middle ages in England, folks could seldom afford pork. When they did, it made them feel quite special. When visitors came over, they would hang up their bacon to show off. It was a sign of wealth that a man could 'bring home the bacon.' They would cut off a little to share with guests and would all sit around and 'chew the fat.'

Virgin Galactic

Sir Richard Branson completed a successful test on May 28, 2009 of its hybrid nitrous oxide motor. The motor is the largest of its kind in the world and offers safety features including a kill switch allowing the spaceship to glide back to Earth and perform a conventional runway touch down.

The Virgin Galactic model dubbed SpaceShipTwo is an extraordinary design for a space tourism spacecraft. It will launch after reaching the upper atmosphere and detaching from the mother ship called Eve. The hybrid motor does not contain harmful toxins as solid rockets used by the space shuttle and the upper atmosphere launch provides cost savings for fuel.

It has a capacity to carry six space tourists and two pilots into suborbital space at speeds up to 2500 mph and soar about 65-miles above the Earth. The expected ticket price is $200,000 per passenger and currently there are 300 space tourists on the waiting list. Testing of the shuttle will begin later this year.

Smoking Simpsons

A crusty Australian public health specialist Guy Eslick examined instances of smoking in the cartoon show The Simpsons.

He watched 400 episodes and found that smoking was depicted 795 times over the 18-season period, featuring in a negative context 35 percent of the time, neutral 63 percent and positive 2 percent. He determined that the show may promote smoking with its frequent depictions of references to cigarettes.

He concluded that while smoking may be responsible for Krusty the Clown's heart condition and sisters Patty and Selma's raspy voices, the show may actually promote tobacco use by showing it so often. I would like to know who the heck pays these people to watch hundreds of hours of cartoons and come up with these crusty conclusions.


Facts are stubborn things, but statistics are more pliable. - Mark Twain

Smithsonian Institute

There are approximately 143,500,000 objects, works of art, and specimens in the Smithsonian. One of them, the Hope Diamond, is 45.52 carats. It glows in the dark after exposure to UV rays and is semiconductive, too.


Government is the great fiction through which everybody endeavors to live at the expense of everybody else.

Father's Day or Mother's Day

This is actually for sale, $29.95. Here is a gift for the person in your family that might have a, uh, problem. Under-Ease are underwear for protection against bad human gas (malodorous flatus) and are made from a soft air-tight polyurethane-coated nylon. To maintain the air-tightness, elastic is sewn into the material around the waist and both legs.

A triangular "exit hole" for the flatus to be expelled is cut from the back of the air-tight underwear, near the bottom. This "exit hole" is covered with a pocket made of ordinary porous fabric sewn over the "exit hole". This unique design forces all expelled gas (flatus) out through the "pocket". Inside the pocket is a high-functioning, replaceable filter. The ad says nothing about sound deadening.Caveat Emptor.

Depression Diagnoses Drop

Depression diagnoses drop after FDA issues drug warnings about the risks of using antidepressant drugs, especially for young people, has resulted in a decline in the number of people newly diagnosed with depression, a study found.

An analysis of data from nearly 100 managed care plans covering more than 55 million patients found the rate of new depression diagnoses among children declined from 5.2 per 1,000 patients in 2004 to 3.5 in 2007. A smaller decline was found among adults. Isn't it amazing how a drug warning causes the disease to drop? Since they can't prescribe this solution - you don't have the problem. Hmmm.

McNugget Martini

Here is an interesting summer treat.

2 McNuggets
1 tub McDonalds Barbeque Sauce
1 large Mcdonalds Chocolate Milkshake
1 bottle Vanilla Vodka

Mix four shots of vanilla vodka in the McDonalds Chocolate Milkshake, followed by two shots directly into your mouth.

Rim each martini glass with McDonalds Barbeque Sauce, and pour milkshake/vodka mixture into the glass. Garnish with a McNugget and swipe along barbeque sauce rimmed glass after the milkshake has been consumed.


Curiosity is one of the permanent and certain characteristics of a vigorous mind.

Jun 12, 2009

Smart Phones?

A new Apple iPhone application called Email 'n' Walk from Phase 2 Media takes a live feed from the phone's camera, which is mounted on the rear of the device, to show the user what's in front of them as they type.

The text of your email appears as white lettering superimposed on top of the video feed - and is more than clear enough to read without blocking the view of the path or road ahead. Let's not let reality get in the way of email, duh!

But Wait. . . There's More

Now I have heard it all. Billy Mays, of OxiClean and other famous late night products is slated to do the commercial for Zune, the portable media device.

Products Billy usually pitches fill voids in the marketplace, but the Microsoft Zune HD is attempting to go up against established competitors, the Apple iPhone and iPod Touch.

Hi folks, Billy Mays here for Friday Thoughts. It slices, it dices, it crawls on its belly like a reptile. . .

Chocolate Lovers

Soccer players and exercise enthusiasts now have another reason to reach for lowfat chocolate milk after a hard workout. A study from James Madison University showed post-exercise consumption of lowfat chocolate milk was found to provide equal or better muscle recovery compared to a high-carbohydrate recovery beverage with the same amount of calories.

After two and four days of intensified training, chocolate milk drinkers had significantly lower levels of creatine kinase - an indicator of muscle damage - compared to when they drank the carbohydrate beverage. The results indicate that lowfat chocolate milk is effective in the recovery and repair of muscles after intense training for these competitive soccer players.

Debunking Photo

The source of this photo remains unknown, but is very probably fake. Although a woman will often see her belly bulge when a baby thrusts out a limb, the abdominal wall is too muscular and thick to allow a footprint to be seen with this clarity. The only way a fetal footprint could be seen in this way would be in the rare case of an ectopic pregnancy, which involves a fetus developing outside the uterus. This condition can be life-threatening for both mother and baby, but this photo does not appear to show an ectopic pregnancy. In addition, the footprint seems disproportionately large for a fetus.

Bush Upside Down Book

An unknown hoaxer horizontally and vertically flipped the image on the back of the book in Bush's hands. In doing so, he made a mistake. The picture on the right-hand side of Bush's book has been vertically flipped in the wrong direction. This original version of the photo was taken in the Summer of 2002 while Bush was visiting George Sanchez Charter School in Houston. It was distributed by the Associated Press.


Keeping bees in New York City is illegal, so for years beekeepers have keept their hives on roof tops or in community gardens. If a neighbor makes a complaint, the owners must disassemble their hives or face steep fines and exterminator fees. Recently a city council bill was introduced to legalize beekeeping. That will certainly help with the billion dollar budget shortfall the city faces.

Jun 8, 2009

More Nano Stuff

Nanotechnology makes use of minuscule objects, known as nanoparticles, whose width can be 10,000 times narrower than a human hair. More than 600 products on store shelves today contain them, including transparent sunscreen, lipsticks, anti-aging creams, and food products.

Global nanotechnology sales have grown to $50 billion in 2007, according to Lux Research. The final tally isn't in yet, but analysts predicted 2008 sales to be $150 billion. The National Science Foundation says the industry could be worth $1 trillion by 2015, when it would employ two million workers directly.

What makes nanoparticles so useful is their tiny size, which allows for manipulation of color, solubility, strength, magnetic behavior and electrical conductivity. That anti-aging stuff might come in handy.


Life is like a roll of toilet paper. The closer it gets to the end, the faster it goes.


Home of Polar Bears, gold, oil, Eskimos, and Sarah Palin.

  • Outsiders first discovered Alaska in 1741 when danish explorer Vitus Jonassen Bering sighted it on a voyage from Siberia.
  • In spring, the melting dome of an igloo is replaced with a covering of animal skins to form a between-season dwelling called a 'qarmaq'.
  • Alaska has about 640,000 residents.
  • The word 'igloo' comes from the inuit 'iglu', meaning 'house'.
  • Russian whalers and fur traders on Kodiak Island established the first settlement in Alaska in 1784.
  • In 1867 United States Secretary of State William H. Seward offered Russia $7,200,000, or two cents per acre, for Alaska. Remember Sewards Folly from Geography lessons? On October 18, 1867 Alaska officially became the property of the United States.
  • Joe Juneau's 1880 discovery of gold ushered in the gold rush era.
  • In 1943 Japan invaded the Aleutian Islands, which started the One Thousand Mile War.
  • The Alaska Highway was originally built as a military supply road during World War II.
  • Alaska officially became the 49th state on January 3, 1959.
  • Alaska accounts for 25% of the oil produced in the United States.
  • Alaska is the United State's largest state and is over twice the size of Texas (ouch). Measuring from north to south the state is approximately 1,400 miles long and measuring from east to west it is 2,700 miles wide. It covers 570,374 square miles.
  • The state of Rhode Island could fit into Alaska 425 times.
  • The Trans-Alaska Pipeline moves up to 88,000 barrels of oil per hour on its 800 mile journey to Valdez.
  • Dog mushing is the official state sport.


The person who knows how will always have a job,
but the person who knows why, will always be his boss

Stair Climbing Wheel Chairs

Do you remember the nation's first stair-climbing wheelchair? It hit the market with a bang, but fell down on price.

Johnson & Johnson quietly sold the last iBOTs this spring, shuttering manufacturing of a wheelchair that doctors had greeted five years ago as potentially revolutionary, but which failed to sell more than a few hundred a year. Earlier this month, a veteran who lost his legs in Iraq received the last known available iBOT, donated after its initial owner died.

Some iBOT users are joining inventor Dean Kamen, known for his Segways, in lobbying Congress for reimbursement changes that they hope could revive the chairs. They cost $22,000, but Medicare only paid $6,000.

Human Beings

If we really are the masters of the universe, why is it that our species is the only one that is required to use toilet paper?

Long Term Memory

Scientists report successful tests of a new memory device that could allow terabytes (1,099,511,627,776 bytes) of data to be stored without corruption for a billion years or more. The team claimed that it is possible to build storage devices capable of carrying 1TB of information per square inch, making it more effective than current techniques. The data will also be almost incorruptible.

The device is an iron nano-particle that measures 1/50,000th of the width of a human hair, enclosed in a hollow carbon nano-tube. The iron can be shuttled back and forth within the tube as a way to store data. Conventional Flash memory usually fails after three to five years.

Solar Sun Glasses

Remember the blonde joke about the solar panel glasses? Well, this takes the joke to a whole new level. “Self-Energy Converting Sunglasses.” Lenses of the glasses have dye solar cells, collecting energy and making it able to power your small devices through the power jack at the back of the frame.

The dye solar cell is described by the designers as, “cheap organic dye used with nano technology and providing cheap but high energy efficiency.” The lens turns sunlight rays, into electrical energy to power portable devices.

Stomach Rumbling

As food, liquid and gas move through your digestive tract, your stomach muscles and intestines contract and cause rumbling noises, borborygmi is the scientific name. (The word borborygmus (singular form) is an onomatopoeia (words that imitate the sound that they describe.)

Everyone’s stomach makes noise during digestion, but if you have extra-loud rumbles, a teaspoon of olive oil or a cup of herbal tea with lemon may help ease them.

Speak to Me

IBM has developed a computer application called Watson that will play Jeopardy!, the popular TV trivia game show, against human contestants. Demonstrations of the system are expected this year, with a final televised matchup, hosted by Alex Trebek, sometime next year. Questions will be spoken aloud by Trebek, but fed into the machine in text format during the show.

The company has not yet published any research papers describing how its system will tackle Jeopardy!-style questions. IBM's end goal is a system that it can sell to its corporate customers who need to make large quantities of information more accessible.

Viagra Developer

Robert Furchgott, a Nobel prize-winning pharmacologist whose work with the gas nitric oxide helped develop the anti-impotency drug Viagra, has died at the age of 92. How interesting nitric oxide is a free radical and Viagra makes radicals free. Hmmm.


If God hadn’t intended us to be happy, he wouldn’t have made it so easy for us to smile.

Live Search

I'll bet you think Microsoft owns it. Wrong. LiveSearch.com domain name belongs to Tyler Tullock of Bothell, Wash., who says he has rejected several offers for the site. Tullock took control of the domain name about 13 years ago, when he was running an internet-marketing company, LocalSeek Advertising. He used Livesearch.com and other domains to advertise his services, which included a relocation business.

Microsoft introduced Live Search in 2006, hosting the search engine on Live.com, a domain that it does own .

Tullock runs a chain of seven music schools in the Seattle area, and parks Google (NSDQ: GOOG) ads on LiveSearch.com. “It makes me plenty of money sending all that Microsoft business to Google,” he says, but won’t disclose how much the site brings in. Maybe that's why Microsoft is thinking of changing the name and is set to launch an $80 million to $100 million campaign for Bing, the search engine it hopes will help it grab a bigger slice of the online ad market.


To worry about your age is silly. Every time you are a year older so is everyone else.

Bigger Ads on the Net

27 publishers with a reach of about 109 million unique visitors per month have agreed to try one of three new online ad formats sometime before July. The publishers are all members of the online publishers association.

* The Fixed Panel, which looks naturally embedded into the page layout and scrolls to the top and bottom of the page as a user scrolls.
* The XXL Box, which has page-turn functionality with video capability.
* The Pushdown, which opens to display the advertisement and then rolls up to the top of the page.

The formats they've agreed on all have one trait in common: they are much bigger and more attention-grabbing than the banner, which is despised by publishers, advertisers, and readers alike. The reason banner ads are despised is because they are too damn intrusive and, contrary to public opinion, bigger is not always better, especially when it comes to ads.

Death with Dignity

66-year-old Linda Fleming was diagnosed with terminal cancer and feared her last days would be filled with pain and ever-stronger doses of medication that would erode her mind. She had late-stage pancreatic cancer and wanted to be clear-headed at death, so she became the first person to kill herself under Washington State's new assisted suicide law, known as "death with dignity."

"I am a very spiritual person, and it was very important to me to be conscious, clear-minded and alert at the time of my death," Fleming said in a statement released Friday. "The powerful pain medications were making it difficult to maintain the state of mind I wanted to have at my death. And I knew I would have to increase them."

With family members, her physician and her dog at her side, Fleming took a deadly dose of prescription barbiturates and died Thursday night at her home.

Manneken Pis

A state in eastern Mexico will erect a statue to a small boy suspected as being the first patient of swine flu, to be modeled on the famous Belgian Manneken Pis statue of a child urinating.

Five-year-old Edgar Hernandez appeared in media across the world after the health ministry confirmed that he had contracted, and overcome, the virus at the start of the epidemic's outbreak.

Hernandez's role in putting his poor village of La Gloria on the map merited recognition in the shape of a small statue. "La Gloria is now an important tourist destination. Next week we'll inaugurate a statue of the child Edgar Hernandez that resembles the Manneken Pis in Brussels, Belgium, for having carried out a similar exploit," the mayor said.

The story is that the young Belgian child stood on the walls of the city to urinate and discovered enemy troops approaching. He warned the town's people, who eventually defeated the enemy.

Jun 1, 2009

Smart Birds

Researchers have found that rooks, a member of the crow family, are capable of using and making tools, modifying them to make them work and using two tools in a sequence. The rooks quickly learned to drop a stone to collapse a platform and acquire a piece of food, and subsequently showed the ability to choose the right size and shape of stone without any training.

Not only could they use stones to solve the task, but they were flexible in their tool choice, using and modifying sticks to achieve the same goal. When the correct tool was out of reach, they used another tool to get it, demonstrating the ability to use tools sequentially. They also bent a straight piece of wire to make the hook to reach the food.


Some men defy old age. They still believe that they as good as they never were.