Daily Archives: April 12, 2008

Johnny Lee is TechnoMan (The world’s newest super hero).

You’ve already seen Johnny’s Wii Remote Hacks … and if you have not go and look. This is not about Wii, or video game, or anything like that. This is about transforming the relationship between technology and society. So if you missed Johnny Lee: Wii Remote hacks please go have a look. It is the TED Talk with a record number of interruptions and the largest standing ovation.Then, com back here and have a look at this other video from my new hero, Johnny Lee:Tracking Your Fingers with the Wiimote Continue reading Johnny Lee is TechnoMan (The world’s newest super hero).

CDC Surveillance for Violent Deaths Released

A study from the National Violent Death Reporting System of the Centers for Disease Control sampling 16 states and enumerating demographics of the victims of fatal violence and method of violence has just been released. Nationally, there are about 50,000 violent deaths per year in the United States. The present, and most recent, study is of 2005.The NVDRS was first funded in 2002, and collects violent death data from death certificates, police reports, coroner and medical examiner reports, and crime labs. The purpose of this survey is to provide verified and usable data for a number of health related and policy related decision making processes.From the report: Continue reading CDC Surveillance for Violent Deaths Released

When Science Goes Wrong

Simon LeVay, who is the guy who first identified the relationship between sexualy dimorphic hypothalamic nuclei in mammals (in the medial preoptic or anterior areas) and homosexuality in human males, has come out with a new book … When Science Goes Wrong.LeVay’s book looks interesting, at least according to the Publisheres Weekly Overview on the Amazon site (see link above):

Experimental brain surgery goes horribly awry; a dam fails catastrophically; a geologist leads an ill-equipped party to its doom in the mouth of an active volcano: these are the amazing and sometimes horrific stories of technical errors and scientific mistakes that LeVay (The Sexual Brain) relates. Some, like the case of the British meteorologist who failed to predict a hurricane that killed 18 people, seem due to arrogance. Others–the loss of a costly spacecraft, a criminal conviction based on inaccurate DNA analysis, multiple deaths after an accidental release of anthrax–are the result of ordinary human error. Some incidents may well have been deliberate, such as a nuclear reactor error that was possibly the result of a love triangle gone bad, or the data falsified by a physicist seeking fame as the discoverer of a new element. LeVay surveys a range of fields, offering several reasons why things go wrong and noting that for every brilliant scientific success, there are a dozen failures. Readers curious about particularly notorious cases will find LeVay’s book both entertaining and thought provoking.

But what I really want to who you is this interview of LeVay by John Stewart, where you will find, among other things, an interesting discussion of the possibility that the Earth will be sucked into a tiny Black Hole this June: Continue reading When Science Goes Wrong

Technology News

ISO takes full charge of Open XML, sets up ‘harmonization’ group

We can’t call it “Office Open XML” anymore, because it no longer belongs to Microsoft Office exclusively. As of yesterday, International Organization for Standardization committee SC 34 passed a resolution that effectively assumes stewardship of Open XML, the document format standard originally produced by Microsoft, and which is now officially under new management.

i-32fd4fa89b6b279215dfa137d0a2f3bc-clean_jet.jpgA Cleaner, Leaner JetJET engines are now so reliable that a pilot can go an entire career without seeing one fail. Autopilots are so good that some airlines have set up their cockpits to emit a loud beep every few minutes, to make sure the crew is still awake. And navigation is so accurate that landings can be timed to the second.So what’s left to worry about in aviation?In a word, fuel.Jet fuel is now the largest expense for most airlines, and for American carriers each penny increase in price per gallon costs nearly $200 million a year. The industry is also becoming increasingly nervous about what happens when that fuel is burned. Aviation is responsible for about 2 percent of global emissions of greenhouse gases, and that share will rise as air travel continues to grow.So the industry is scrambling to build greener airplanes — to save weight and improve engine efficiency, with an eye toward reducing operating costs and emissions.The Ten Open Source Commandments

Next Sunday, the Passover again falls upon us. For those of us Jews that celebrate the holiday, it is most associated with a ceremonial meal spent with family, where we recite the story passed down to us over hundreds of generations from Maxwell House haggadahs chronicling the exodus from Egypt as slaves of the Pharaoh. Personally, I find the entire experience somewhat draining, because if you really do it the way its supposed to be done, it takes at least ninety minutes …

10 Things To Consider when Choosing a Linux Distribution

I can’t begin to tell you how many people over the years I have consulted with about choosing a Linux distribution. And even with my own personal loyalties to one distribution or another, it always amazes me how certain distributions are better suited to various users and needs. So when I set out to write a 10 Things article, it only made sense that my first one be related to choosing a Linux distribution.

Fresno Area Rational People, Take Note!

i-c2ba7ddc1b61da060cf1af613acc77da-patton.jpgScott Hatfield of Monkey Trials reports that an infamous Young Earth Creationist Don Patton is planning a church sponsored talk in a local public high school on the topic of creationism. Scott is seeking help.If you live in the vicinity, please consider showing up and being a person with a brain in the audience.PZ Myers has outlined an excellent strategy for Scott (or anyone else i his position). I would add one more item: Scott, send off a note to the National Center of Science Education letting them know what’s up.