Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Only in Hawaii

Thanks to step-mom in Hawaii

This is how the conversation probably went:

Costco Employee: "Hello dis Costco, how can I help you?"

Customer: "I would like to order a cake for a going away party this week."

Costco Employee: "Wot you like on da cake?"

Customer: "Best Wishes Suzanne" and underneath that "We will miss you."

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

antibody bar code

Hmm,interesting. A new way to fingerprint people based on antibodies. Everyone has a unique set of antibodies in their bloodstream, so if you could figure out this set you could have a fingerprinting technology. My guess is they basically try a whole bunch of different epitopes and see what sticks so to speak. Somewhat like an allergy test (actually very similar).

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

PETA's X-prize

SHOCKINGLY, THIS IS ACTUALLY A GOOD IDEA: P.E.T.A. offers a $1 million prize for fake meat: That is, "real" meat grown In vitro instead of from animals.

Been meaning to comment on this for a while. Nice idea, but I'm not sure it will fly. Do you want to know how we grow cells nowadays? I'll pretend you do. In a monolayer, using *gasp* fetal cow blood (sera) (which is the best source of growth factors). This is hideously expensive firstly, costing about $200 for a 500 ml bottle, which will handle 500 dishes of cells. So that's one huge barrier. Will PETA endorse a method that relys on killing cows, to get their blood, to raise cells, which is a replacement of the meat from the animal that you killed in the first place?

The second problem is that delicious monolayer of cells. Currently we can only grow cells so thick because of diffusion. Its the reason we have capillaries, after all. We would need to engineer a system that mimics a animal's body, including capillaries, blood, pump, and waste disposal. Or, we could just raise cows the old fashion way, which is much better designed for the process, and a heck of alot cheaper.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

MS150 is over

The image is of me in La Grange. Not a stellar example of photography (i didn't know they were shooting, or if i did i didn't care).

Woot. All done. It was pretty windy, and headwind most of the way. I forgot there were so many hills. It seemed all I did was climb climb climb the entire way. Then I would get to the top of a hill, have a brief downslope, and still have the wind in my face! So, yeah, it was very exhausting.

Its Tuesday and I'm mostly recovered. The first day I rode alone from Rhodes stadium, which is a 85 mi trip to La Grange. I got into La Grange at 3pm, 3rd rider of my team to show up. Sunday I did the park route (brutal hills for 10 miles), I dropped my colleague Adam at first rest stop (was so mad that I couldn't find him), we met up again at lunch with the two Adams and Steve and Charlotte, and rode the rest of the way with them. I crossed the finish line with S&C and the Adams were minutes apart from us. It was hard to keep everyone together, real easy to lose people.

At about 20 miles to go from Austin, I started having asthma, on top of everything else (sore muscles, rhinitis for two days straight, headache, chapped lips, sunburn, saddle sore), I thought that was the end of the road for me. Somehow i pressed on, the asthma subsided and I was able to finish. I really dont remember the last 20 miles, well the whole thing but especially the last part. Was so tired as to be incoherent.

Statistics: Total miles 160, total time (inc stops) 7.5 hrs Sat 8.5 hrs Sun (total 16 hrs). Total riders: About 13,000, probably more like 12,000. Total times I crashed: zero. Times I wanted to quit: 100.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Liberman & Grahm on the Iraq War

Read this excellent commentary by the two senators from the WSJ.

What was particularly interesting is this quote:

No one can deny the dramatic improvements in security in Iraq achieved by Gen. Petraeus, the brave troops under his command, and the Iraqi Security Forces. From June 2007 through February 2008, deaths from ethno-sectarian violence in Baghdad have fallen approximately 90%. American casualties have also fallen sharply, down by 70%.

90% is ten-fold, that's a huge decrease. I know this moment is not an easy one for the American public, forced to pay the huge war debt, the American soldiers in harms way, or the Iraqi people, who are usually the target of this violence. My hope is that we remain stead-fast in this endevour until we are victorious.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

China superpower

Hmm, interesting quote. From the Atlantic mag via James Fallows via Instapundit

Susan Shirk, of the University of California at San Diego, recently published a very insightful book that calls China a “fragile superpower.” “When I discuss it in America,” she told me, “people always ask, ‘What do you mean, fragile?’” When she discusses it here in China, “they always ask, ‘What do you mean, superpower?’”

I really worry about the next twenty years as a critical moment in history. At once the Islamic nations are on a collision course either with a new dark age or an age of enlightenment, we are at (or will be very soon) peak oil, which will have profound consequences to the worlds economy, and finally the world is waking up (at last) to the destruction of natural resources. China is a symptom of the later two issues; they are expanding so fast that they are a huge source of the oil demand increase, and they are hell-bent on destroying their environment to achieve superpower status (witness the Three Gorge Dam)

My fear is that if we don't switch from an oil economy and don't wake up to the fact that entropy only works in one direction, and that natural resources are not easily renewable, we will enter a age of darkness the likes of which has not been seen since the middle ages. Think of how catastrophic it would be if there was no fuel for transportation, no resources for consumables, no power for electricity and air conditioning. Go without power/water for a day, and see how desparate you get. Multiply that by 5 bilion. Yes, many on the earth are living without those things every day, but the western world is absolutely dependant on these things.