Tuesday, February 26, 2008


Tough Guy Award 7

Darwin works both ways, and man didn’t get to the top of the food chain by accident. The “Tough Guy Award” is the opposite of the Darwin Award.This week's tough guy award goes to Chris Everhart . Mr. Everhart and his sons were camping when a black bear came into their campsite. To protect one of his sons he killed the bear with one blow to the head from a thrown log. Forest Service agents arrived a few minutes later and ticketed him for failing to secure his campsite.

Monday, February 25, 2008


Artificial Organs and Easy Airport Screening

National Defense Magazine has an interesting article on work being done to help grow artificial organs at Draper Laboratory. The researchers there are using micro-electromechanical technology (which is a step larger than nanotechnology, but is still really small) to create plastic scaffolding for growing artificial organs that has artificial vascular pathways built right into the scaffolding material. The center director says that growing complete artificial organs is still "15 to 20 years away," but in the meantime the work has the potential to improve existing organ assist devices and help create a liver-assist device. This research is sponsored by the Center for Integration of Medicine and Innovative Technology and overseen by the Army’s Telemedicine and Advanced Technology Research Center.

There are also some interesting short articles in the magazine's Security Beat section. One is on a flat-folding gas mask prototype that looks like it would be ideal for throwing in your personal emergency kit if you live near a chemical plant or terrorism target. Another news article is on some old, classic sci-fi writers getting on their soapboxes at a Homeland Security technical conference about the delays and indignities of airline security screening and the potential for finding useful ideas in sci-fi stories. Lastly, there was also a story about work done on an airport security sensor tunnel that could eliminate the delays and indignities of airline security screening and which, strangely, looks like something right out of the sci-fi movie Total Recall.

Update (3/3/8): Changed movie reference from The Running Man to the correct Schwarzenegger flick.

Monday, February 18, 2008


Free* Digital TV Converter

A year from now the old-fashioned analog TV broadcasts will stop, and all American TV signals will be broadcast in digital. If you have an analog TV set, however, you can still use it to watch TV by using a signal converter box. The Federal Gov't is subsidising the transition to digital TV by giving out free* coupons to consumers good for $40 off of the purchase of the converter boxes from participating retailers. To take advantage of this you should:

1. Go to this webpage and apply for your coupons (limit 2): https://www.dtv2009.gov/ApplyCoupon.aspx

2. Go to this webpage and find a participating retailer in your area: https://www.dtv2009.gov/VendorSearch.aspx

3. Wait to receive your coupons from the Gov't.

4. Take the coupon(s) to a participating retailer and use it to get a $40 discount on your analog-to-digital TV converter box. Do not wait long after getting the coupons since they expire within 90 days of being mailed to you.

5. Hook the converter box to your analog TV before Feb. 18, 2009.

If you don't have access to the internet, you can apply on the telephone by calling 1-888-388-2009 or mailing an application to PO BOX 2000, Portland, OR 97208-2000. If you use either of these options then custom requires you to thank the person who printed this posting out for you by giving them a nickel and telling them not to spend it all in one place. Calling them "sonny" is optional.

According to the gov't, all consumers are eligible for the $40 subsidy. Presumably this includes illegal aliens as well as US citizens and legal residents.

* Of course it isn't really free, since our tax dollars are paying for these coupons. Honestly, though, I'd rather have members of the public spend that money on new gadgets for themselves than to have government bureaucrats spend the money on new ways to regulate my life.


Sunday, February 17, 2008


Online Movie Recommendation 22

This week's online movie recommendation is a four part lecture by Australian scientist Bob Carter looking at evidence against the popular notion of Global Warming (hattip:W.M. Briggs):

Part 1. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FOLkze-9GcI
Part 2. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vN06JSi-SW8
Part 3. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iCXDISLXTaY
Part 4. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bpQQGFZHSno


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