Tuesday, July 31, 2012

the toothpaste defense

the toothpaste defense:
When asked about a jizz stain left on a sofa, t-shirt, towel, etc. one will often use the toothpaste defense

To avoid embarrassment, Danny used the toothpaste defense when his mother inquired about the sticky white stains all over his laundry.

Mom: Danny, I've been going through your laundry, and I've discovered a multitude of sticky white stains on almost all your clothes

Danny: It's just toothpaste, ma.

Wise teen: I used the toothpaste defense once, but after that I started doing my own laundry

UPDATE: Cascading Grid Crash: Now 600 Million Without Power in India (Are We Vulnerable?)

UPDATE: Cascading Grid Crash: Now 600 Million Without Power in India (Are We Vulnerable?):
Update: Tuesday July 31, 2012:
Just one day after India’s power grid left 370 million residents of its northern provinces without electricity, the country is experiencing another massive crash of their fragile power grid with some 600 million people – about half its entire population – now going through widespread outages in what can only be described as a cascading power grid failure.
Though no cause has yet been identified, the power ministry is frantically working to restore electricity as essential services collapse and transportation systems come to a grinding halt. Hundreds of thousands have been trapped in mid transport on trains, while millions sit in traffic jams across afflicted areas.
Vehicles clogged streets in New Delhi after a power outage disrupted traffic lights and the city’s rail services.
About 600 million people lost power in India on Tuesday when the country’s northern and eastern electricity grids failed, crippling the country for a second consecutive day.
The outage stopped hundreds of trains in their tracks, darkened traffic lights, shuttered the Delhi Metro and left nearly everyone — the police, water utilities, private businesses and citizens — without electricity. About half of India’s population of 1.2 billion people was without power. India’s unofficial power grid, a huge number of backup diesel generators and other private power sources, kept hospitals electrified and major airports running.
Manoranjan Kumar, an economic adviser with the Ministry of Power, said in a telephone interview that the grids had failed and that the ministry was working to figure out the source of the problem.
Source: New York Times
Originally Published Monday, July 30, 2012:
As power grids in emerging and developing nations take on more demand than ever before, it was only a matter of time before the strain became too much to bear. This morning the weakness in global grid systems became apparent when some 370 million residents in northern India were left without power:
Northern India’s power grid crashed Monday, halting trains, forcing hospitals and airports onto backup power and providing a dark reminder of the nation’s inability to feed a growing hunger for energy as it strives to become an economic power.

Some small businesses were forced to shut for the day. Buildings were without water because the pumps weren’t working, and the vaunted New Delhi Metro, with 1.8 million daily riders, was paralyzed during the busy morning commute.

Power Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde deflected criticism, pointing out that the United States and Brazil also had huge power failures in recent years.
“I ask you to look at the power situation in other countries as well,” he said.
Source: AP
A large portion of India’s population regularly operates without electricity – either because they are too poor to have lines installed, or due to regular power outages. The power in this particular instance was restored to the majority of areas within 12 hours, but demonstrates that the Indian grid, as well as those around the rest of the world, could stop pumping electricity at any time.
Consider how India’s populace would have reacted had the grid gone down for several days, or weeks, without repair.
India’s grid crash is reportedly a result of excessive energy demand, and thus service was much easier to restore than, say, if there had been a natural disaster or attack focused on the utility infrastructure (from someone like neighboring Pakistan – who, incidentally, probably just got a great idea).
In any case, what we can learn from this is that even in a country of one billion people, there are critical infrastructure issues that have been left unaddressed.
The power grid in the United States, while more advanced and apparently better maintained, is also under excessive strain as has been witnessed in recent years with rolling brownouts, blackouts, and unforeseen crashes resulting from key component failure.
One industry insider who has worked in the utility industry for nearly two decades advised this author recently that it wouldn’t take much to bring down the system even in the United States, potentially affecting tens of millions of customers. Though it’s the 21st century, many grid components in operation are, in some cases, as much as 40 years old, thus replacement parts are almost impossible to find. Other components, like massive transformers  may take weeks or months to replace. In the event of a scenario where multiple components are targeted simultaneously, by either a man-made EMP or natural event, it is not too far of a stretch to suggest that the afflicted regions would be engulfed in pandemonium.
This potential for widespread failure is so plausible that former Congressman Roscoe Bartlett, who has spoken on the vulnerabilities of the US power grid, has advised that Those Who Can, Should Move Their Families Out Of the City:
After Hurricane Ike passed through the Houston area 2008 some 90% of the metropolitan was without power. While hospitals, police and critical infrastructure was restored within a few days, residents in outlying suburban areas experienced the outage for over three weeks. We witnessed the rapid loss of patience, increased anxiety and frustration, and the subsequent breakdown of interpersonal interaction at high-demand venues such as gas stations, where long lines, screaming matches and even fist fights became a common occurrence.
The bottom line: As demonstrated in India today, Quebec in 1989 (caused by a geo-magnetic storm originating from the sun), Ike in 2008, Hurricane Irene on the East coast in 2012 and the plethora of incidents that have taken place over the last couple of decades, the North American power grid, just as India’s, is susceptible to far-from-equilibrium situations, and sometimes it takes extended periods of time to get power up and running.
With just three major grids running the United States, our dependence on massive flows of electricity to power our home air conditioners, food refrigeration, communications, water and gas pump systems, and daily business operations could come to a screeching halt should the grid ever be struck by a natural disaster like a solar coronal mass ejection or a large-scale earthquake in California or on the Madrid fault. Likewise, as we’ve noted previously, rogue organizations looking to wreak havoc have already demonstrated the staggering security holes in our power, water and oil grid infrastructure, with leading cyber security firms noting that it is just a matter of time before disaster strikes.
While a short-term, isolated metropolitan outage can be dealt with by sourcing labor and supplies from unaffected areas of the country, considering that the US operates on three key power grid systems, a region-wide outage affecting just one of these nodes could lead to a cascading breakdown in the electrical power system that envelops the entire country.
The most dangerous possibility emerges when we look at threats posed by the sun or a rogue terror cell or nation that could deploy an Electro-Magnetic Pulse weapon (EMP / Super EMP) over American skies. It’s been surmised that either one of these possibilities could cause damage so staggering that the grid would be down for months, leaving millions without just-in-time food and gas delivery systems, medical care, local emergency response, or even clean water. According to one estimate, some 90% of Americans would die in such a scenario if the power wasn’t restored within one year.
Thus, it is clear that our power grids are a critical lifeline to keeping life as we know it in the world today operational. And, as we have seen historically and India this morning, power grids can and do crash – even in countries with hundreds of millions of residents.
Though a nationwide long-term power grid failure in the United States is an unlikely low-probability event, were it to occur it would literally change the face of the world as we know it.

High Trans-Fat Diet Predicts Aggression

High Trans-Fat Diet Predicts Aggression:
If you want to keep your cool, you might want to pass up those greasy wings and gooey dessert. A new study from the University of California, San Diego, suggests that people whose diets are higher in trans fats are more prone to aggression.

Street Art by Sepe, Lump and Chazme718 in Szczecin, Poland

Street Art by Sepe, Lump and Chazme718 in Szczecin, Poland:

On Facebook.

By Sepe, Lump and Chazme718 in Szczecin, Poland. Photo 2 by Agnieszka Stencel.

Beach Babe – GCV53Z – GEOCACHE OF THE WEEK – July 30, 2012

Beach Babe – GCV53Z – GEOCACHE OF THE WEEK – July 30, 2012:

Beach Babe – all dressed up
The Geocache of the Week takes us to a natural landmark near Edisto Beach, South Carolina.
Meet Beach Babe (GCV53Z), a difficulty two, terrain two traditional cache with a unique look and story.
You see, Beach Babe is a tree, dressed in clothes. There aren’t very many trees, if any, around the world that are as dressed up as this babe. In fact, her outfits change quite frequently and it’s somewhat of a mystery who started and continues to dress her up.
One thing is certain, fireman357, the creator of the cache near Beach Babe saw an opportunity for geocachers to find something “interesting, cool, and fun” when embarking on a search for his cache.
He explains, “I wanted a destination to take my fellow cachers somewhere they could have an experience and create a memory.  That, to me, is the best aspect of caching.”

Hanging out with the stylish tree
This stylish tree is easily noticeable when one is leaving Edisto Island, a large tourist destination. When geocachers aren’t around to distract her, she can be found enjoying the marsh views.
Since the cache was placed in 2006, almost 300 geocachers have logged their visits, posted 77  images, and awarded it 21 Favorite Points.
One cacher writes, “Out for a birthday of geocaching when we found this great cache! I love her! This was by far our favorite cache of the day. Not sure how we missed her the first time we drove by but after that we made sure we watched for this beauty.”
Geocachers are urged to pack bug spray when visiting this cache between the months of October through February.
Continue to explore some of the most engaging geocaches around the globe. Check out all the Geocaches of the Week on the Latitude 47 blog or view the Bookmark List on Geocaching.com
If you would like to nominate a Geocache of the Week, send an email with your name, comments, the name of the geocache, and the GC code to pr@groundspeak.com.

The cache container near the tree

Project Geo

Project Geo:
Project Geo is a new Google Plus Hangout web series dedicated to increasing awareness of Geospatial Technology, industry best practices, and GIS resources.


If you consider yourself a Geospatial expert, hobbyist, or someone who is or would like to get involved with maps, geography, cartography, or anything related to GIS, their team would welcome your participation, input or viewership.

The Google Plus Hangout is hosted by +Adam Simmons, +Andrea Cairola and +Mason Rothman. The three hosts have spent the majority of their careers working in the Geospatial industry spanning from the US military, the US federal government, Education institutes, a previous podcast called WeSeeDC and regular attendance at GIS related events hosted worldwide. With their 30+ years combined of experience in the Geospatial industry and general love of technology there is a good chance they will speak on subjects relevant to the participants and viewers.

Each episode the team covers the latest breaking Geo news followed by a in depth theme for the episode and finally ending with each of the members highlighting a favorite Geo based application whether desktop or mobile based. Tonight's episode focuses on Social Geo and how the two worlds are coming together to create a great experience for users all over the world. Some of the programs to be featured are Foursquare, Highlight, Google Latitude and several more.

In their first four episodes, they've discussed things such as GeoEye, the excellent Geospatial Revolution videos, ASPRS and even Google Earth Blog.

The team is currently planning a new weekly feature that will focus on Google Earth highlighting favorite KMLs, Network Links that have previously been unavailable to the public and a favorite places to view feature. This new feature has the intent of displaying Google Earth's technical background features as well as the beauty of our planet.

Join them every Tuesday evening at 7pm EST on the +Project Geo page, or watch their past videos on their YouTube channel (and also shown below):

Episode One

Episode Two

Episode Three

Episode Four

Tropical surf painting

Tropical surf painting: This is a collaboration with my good friend Yan. Work in progress.

8 extremely popular Chinese internet memes

8 extremely popular Chinese internet memes:
Michael Anti at TEDGlobal 2012
When it comes to the internet, the Chinese government may have taken inspiration from the Great Wall of China and created the largest digital boundary in the world, blocking 500 million users from accessing the global-standard social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. But blogger Michael Anti, whose real name is Jing Zhao, explains in a vivid talk given at TEDGlobal 2012 that the internet landscape of the world’s most populous country is far more complicated than that simple story. Chinese innovators have copycatted popular Western social media sites. While we have Google, China has Baidu. While we have Facebook, China has RenRen. While we have Twitter, China has Weibo — and 300 million microbloggers using it, as 140 characters allows for a full paragraph to be written in Chinese.
In his talk, Anti looks at some of the fascinating ways in which social media are changing Chinese life, and shifting the balance of power in the country. For example, after local authorities tried to cover up a train crash in Wenzhou in 2011, people took to social media sites to criticize the move. With more than 10 million messages about the cover-up visible for all to read, an official investigation was eventually launched. Anti also explains that on Weibo, people regularly tweet their misfortunes, waiting for them to be picked up by popular micobloggers and shared widely.
So what exactly is huge on ChinaNet? After the jump, a look at 8 popular memes, many political in tone and others the Chinese equivalent of Keyboard Cat.

Free CGC

When Chinese civil rights activist Chen Guangcheng escaped from house arrest this spring, this meme — a send-up of a Kentucky Fried Chicken ad — began spreading across the Chinese internet. Why? Because while his name, and even his initials, were blocked by the government, the image got through the country’s censors. The spreading of the meme has been called “guerrilla activism.” [Christian Science Monitor]

Dress the Nude

China Central Television inspired this hilarious meme when they aired a broadcast about an exhibit at the National Museum of China … and blurred the genitals on Michaelangelo’s famous David. Ever since, internet users have poked fun at the “anti-vulgarism campaign” by putting clothes on famous nude works of art. [Ministry of Tofu]

Singing Schoolchildren
The song “Shang Bu Qi” has become something of an anthem of the Chinese internet. So when this video appeared on Youku — the Chinese version of YouTube — featuring a bus full of schoolchildren singing the song, it instantly went viral. [China Smack]

Dark Glasses Portraits
Another show of support for Chen Guangcheng, Chinese internet users snapped photos of themselves wearing the blind activist’s signature sunglasses. [Christian Science Monitor]

The Salt Panic Incident
In 2011, China was very fearful of radiation following the Fukushima nuclear crisis in Japan. When chatter began that salt could fight the effects, thanks to its iodine content, people began buying stores out of salt. And images of empty salt shelves became all the rage on the internet. [China Whisper]

Grass Mud Horse
These alpacas might look cute and fuzzy, but they are an example of a highly political meme in China. Grass mud horse, or Cao Ni Ma, first appeared in January 2009 as a symbol of anti-censorship sentiment in this video. Earlier this month, the alpaca symbol was seen on many signs in a protest in Hong Kong as Chinese President Hu Jintao celebrated the 15th anniversary of the city’s handover to China. On the internet, July 1 was officially dubbed “Grass Mud Horse Day,” as high numbers of people posted alpaca images. [Tea Leaf Nation, NY Times]

Sunflower seeds
Similarly, the sunflower seed has become an online symbol for artist Ai Weiwei, whose name and likeness where quickly scrubbed from the Chinese internet when he was detained in 2011. (Watch the talk Ai Weiwei made for TED2011, just weeks before he was put under arrest in China and his studio destroyed.) As supporters realized that Weiwei’s nicknames, and even puns related to him, were also being blocked, they channeled his famous sunflower fields installation at the Tate Modern as a form of protest. [Fast Company]

For this highly popular meme, three photos are cobbled together — one representing the “ordinary youth,” another representing the “artistic youth” and finally the “idiotic youth.” The meme became so popular so quickly that gained a Chinese acronym, 普文二. [Ministry of Tofu]

It could be one of two things

It could be one of two things:
It might be that your audience isn't smart enough, caring enough, attentive enough, with-it enough or generous enough to understand and appreciate you.
Or it might be that you're not good enough (yet).
If you're in the habit of assuming one of these, try out the other one for a while.

TED: Michael Anti: Behind the Great Firewall of China - Michael Anti (2012)

TED: Michael Anti: Behind the Great Firewall of China - Michael Anti (2012): Michael Anti (aka Jing Zhao) has been blogging from China for 12 years. Despite the control the central government has over the Internet -- "All the servers are in Beijing" -- he says that hundreds of millions of microbloggers are in fact creating the first national public sphere in the country's history, and shifting the balance of power in unexpected ways.

Do 3D Printers Make Prohibitions Impossible?

Do 3D Printers Make Prohibitions Impossible?:
3D printed firearmThe Web thingies are buzzing with news that a
3D printer
sort of a first-generation Star Trek replicator — was used to make
a gun that actually goes bang when you pull the trigger. Aside from
the sheer cool factor, the development makes it clear that a wide
range of bans, restrictions and prohibitions are becoming
increasingly unenforcable.
An American gunsmith has become the first person to construct
and shoot a pistol partly made out of plastic, 3D-printed parts.
The creator, user HaveBlue from the AR-15 forum, has reportedly
fired 200 rounds with his part-plastic pistol without any sign of
wear and tear.
HaveBlue’s custom creation is a .22-caliber pistol, formed from
a 3D-printed AR-15 (M16) lower receiver, and a normal, commercial
upper. In other words, the main body of the gun is plastic, while
the chamber — where the bullets are actually struck — is solid
The lower receiver was created using a fairly old school
Stratasys 3D printer, using a normal plastic resin. HaveBlue
estimates that it cost around $30 of resin to create the lower
receiver, but “Makerbots and the other low cost printers exploding
onto the market would bring the cost down to perhaps $10.”
Commercial, off-the-shelf assault rifle lower receivers are a lot
more expensive. ...
HaveBlue apparently tried, unsuccessfully, to make a more
powerful receiver chambered in .223, but it didn't work. "Funnily
enough, he thinks the off-the-shelf parts are causing issues,
rather than the 3D-printed part."
HaveBlue's schematic, which he used on what's considered a
relatively low-tech StrataSys 3D printer in these fast-moving
times, are available at Thingiverse.
Scientists at the University of Glasgow have used a relatively
low-cost system to synthesize chemical
, with the intention of developing the means to create
custom drugs. That may well mean the end of the orphan drug problem
around the word, and very real price drops on pharmaceuticals.
From the
Researchers have used a £1,250 system to create a range
of organic compounds and inorganic clusters - some of which are
used to create cancer treatments.
Longer term, the scientists say the process could be used to
make customised medicines.
They predict the technique will be used by pharmaceutical firms
within five years, and by the public within 20.
"We are showing that you can take chemical constituents, pass
them through a printer and create what is effectively a chemical
synthesiser in which the reaction occurs allowing you to get out
something different at the end," researcher Mark Symes told the
"We're extrapolating from that to say that in the future you
could buy common chemicals, slot them into something that 3D
prints, just press a button to mix the ingredients and filter them
through the architecture and at the bottom you would get out your
prescription drug."
It also holds out potential for evading yet another class of
legal prohibitions on recreational drugs.
Think of it — a world of plenty, with easy localized manufacture
of almost anything you might need. It's a world in which "that
should be illegal" becomes a punch line.
The next time your control freak friends start in on their
latest litany of should-be-banneds, tell them that their arguments
are now irrelevant. Tell them why. And savor their sweet tears of

New Jersey's Insane Seatbelt Law...For Your Dog!

New Jersey's Insane Seatbelt Law...For Your Dog!:
Forget the London Olympics, you'll find the fiercest
competition stateside, where faces new and old vied for the title
of "Nanny of the Month."
Proving it can ruin just about any good idea, the Los Angeles
City Council voted unanimously to ban the city's medical
marijuana dispensaries
, and a North Carolina pol who claims
baggy pants are "a part of a culture that breeds drug sales, drug
addiction, crime, and murder" is itching to regulate
precisely how much sag his
constituents may bust
 (no more than three inches below the
But this month we find the busiest of bodies in the nation's
Garden State:
Imagine getting pulled over for a seatbelt violation. Imagine it
cost you $1,000 and six months in the clink. Imagine the cause of
this was your failure to buckle
up your pooch
Welcome to New Jersey.
About a minute long. "Nanny of the Month" is written and
produced by Ted Balaker; opening animation by Meredith Bragg.
Go here to
watch previous episodes. And scroll down to get downloadable
versions of the video.
Subscribe to ReasonTV's
YouTube channel
to get automatic notification when new material
goes live.
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Tomato Report: Indigo Rose

Tomato Report: Indigo Rose:

Another tomato I got to taste on my trip up California's central coast was the striking, nearly black "Indigo Rose". The Indigo Rose tomato was bred conventionally by Oregon State University specifically to have high levels of antioxidants. Those antioxidants are in the tomato thanks to a class of flavonoids called anthocyanin, substances which also give the fruit its dark color.

According to Oregon State,
Indigo Rose's genesis began in the 1960s, when two breeders – one from Bulgaria and the other from the United States – first crossed-cultivated tomatoes with wild species from Chile and the Galapagos Islands . . . Some wild tomato species have anthocyanins in their fruit, and until now, tomatoes grown in home gardens have had the beneficial pigment only in their leaves and stems, which are inedible.
The size is somewhat bigger than a cherry tomato. The inside of the tomato is a dark red. The taste? Good, even though the one I tried had not matured yet. I'm going to consider growing these next year.

You can find out more about the Indigo Rose on the Oregon State Extension Service website.

Indigo Rose seeds can be purchased through Johnny's Select Seeds.