Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Device allows plants to Twitter

By Robert Muir

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Chances are you've never had a conversation with your house plants but if they could talk, what would they say? "Water me."

Researchers at New York University's interactive telecommunications program have come up with a device that allows plants to tell owners when they need water or if they've had too much via the social network blogging service Twitter.

"Obviously plants can't talk or Twitter directly, so we have to help them along with that," said Rob Faludi, co-creator of the device called Botanicalls.

The device is made of soil-moisture sensors that are connected to a circuit board. They measure the level of moisture, and then communicate the information to a microcontroller.

"There are settings in the software that allow you to set what kind of plant you're using and also adjust for characteristics of the soil, different soil has different qualities," said Faludi.

The device determines whether moisture levels are too low, or too high, and then transmits a wireless signal to Twitter, via the Internet, which lets people send short, 140-character text messages to their network of friends.

Botanicalls co-creator Kate Hartman said the language used in the Twitter messages can be personalized to suit the owner, or the type of plant.

"There's always a basic "I'm thirsty, could you please water me" message. But they also accelerate in terms of need, so there's an urgent message: "I'm desperately thirsty, please water me"," Hartman told Reuters.


Due to word of mouth, Hartman's plant, 'Pothos,' has more than 2,300 subscribers on Twitter (http://twitter.com/pothos).

Every day followers receive messages updating them on the plant's soil moisture content, and whether it's being cared for.

"I feel a bit more guilty when I don't water Pothos, because everybody knows," laughed Hartman.

To date, Hartman and Faludi have sold nearly 100 of the Botanicalls kits for $99 each with the device needing to be assembled from basic parts which Faludi said can be challenging but worthwhile in the end.

"Actually receiving a message from a plant is just very engaging, and I think kind of unexpected. There's a magic to it that people really enjoy," said Faludi.

The new technology follows on from an earlier Botanicalls model released in 2007 that enabled plants to make a phone call to their owners when they needed water.

Each plant had a 'voice' to match the plant type, such as the Scottish moss, which had a Scottish accent.

But the earlier model required expensive hardware, and wasn't practical to sell which prompted the Twitter version.

"There's a lot of interest right now in smart objects - basically, devices that have the ability to communicate. This is a type of technology that is becoming much more prevalent as the cost of wireless communications goes down," said Faludi.

"The spirit of Botanicalls is not creating a robotic plant. The spirit of Botanicalls is really re-engaging people with nature and getting them to pay attention." (Editing by Belinda Goldsmith)

Courtesy of Reuters

Monday, March 30, 2009

Creme That Egg!

A Rube Goldberg machine that is used to squish a Creme Egg. It goes around the walls of our lounge.
This is an entry in Cadbury's "Unleash The Goo" competition, in which entrants must find the most creative way to break a creme egg.

The music is by the Jews Brothers Band - they are awesome: http://www.jewsbrothers.com

Here are some answers to questions people keep asking me:
- the ringing ball comes out of the red flipping box.
- the painting tilts, which causes the top ball to run down it.
- a keen eye will notice the egg unravels out of its foil wrapping.
- at around 1:52, the balls are rolling behind a sheet of glass that is at a slight angle so that the balls have to revolve a lot just to move a small amount.
- it took about 6 months to make and 3 days / 200 takes to film.

Much credit must be give to the amazing Pitagora Suicchi ones for all their original ideas!

Courtesy of allonewordplease

Sunday, March 29, 2009

The Living Robot

New Ideas / by Joe Kloc / March 26, 2009

Researchers have developed a robot capable of learning and interacting with the world using a biological brain.

Kevin Warwick’s new robot behaves like a child. “Sometimes it does what you want it to, and sometimes it doesn’t,” he says. And while it may seem strange for a professor of cybernetics to be concerning himself with such an unreliable machine, Warwick’s creation has something that even today’s most sophisticated robots lack: a living brain.

Life for Warwick’s robot began when his team at the University of Reading spread rat neurons onto an array of electrodes. After about 20 minutes, the neurons began to form connections with one another. “It’s an innate response of the neurons,” says Warwick, “they try to link up and start communicating.”

For the next week the team fed the developing brain a liquid containing nutrients and minerals. And once the neurons established a network sufficiently capable of responding to electrical inputs from the electrode array, they connected the newly formed brain to a simple robot body consisting of two wheels and a sonar sensor.

Credit: Kevin Warkwick

A relay of signals between the sensor, motors, and brain dictate the robot’s behavior. When it approaches an object, the number of electrical pulses sent from the sonar device to the brain increases. This heightened electrical stimulation causes certain neurons in the robot’s brain to fire. When the electrodes on which the firing neurons rest detect this activity, they signal the robot’s wheels to change direction. The end result is a robot that can avoid obstacles in its path.

At first, the young robot spent a lot of time crashing into things. But after a few weeks of practice, its performance began to improve as the connections between the active neurons in its brain strengthened. “This is a specific type of learning, called Hebbian learning,” says Warwick, “where, by doing something habitually, you get better at doing it.”

The robot now gets around well enough. “But it has a biological brain, and not a computer,” says Warwick, and so it must navigate based solely on the very limited amount of information it receives from a single sensory device. If the number of sensory devices connected to its brain increases, it will gain a better understanding of its surroundings. “I have another student now who has started to work on an audio input, so in some way we can start communicating with it,” he says.

But it would be a bit shortsighted to say that adding sensory input devices to the robot would make it more human, as theoretically there is no limit to how many sensory devices a robot equipped with a biological brain could have. “We are looking to increase the range of sensory input potentially with infrared and other signals,” says Warwick.

A robot that experiences its environment through devices like sonar detectors and infrared sensors would perceive the world quite differently from a person. Imagine having a Geiger counter plugged into your brain — or perhaps better yet, an X-ray detector. For future generations of Warwick’s robot, this isn’t just a thought experiment.

But Warwick isn’t interested only in building a robot with a wide range of sensory inputs. “It’s fun just looking at it as a robot life form, but I think it may also contribute to a better understanding of how our brain works,” he says. Studying the ways in which his robot learns and stores memories in its brain may provide new insights into neurological disorders like Alzheimer’s disease.

Warwick’s robot is dependent upon biological cells, so it won’t live forever. After a few months, the neurons in its brain will grow sluggish and less responsive as learning becomes more difficult and the robot’s mortal coil begins to take hold. A sad thought perhaps — but such is life.


I love the self check-out

Courtesy of PostSecret

Shopper Arrested For Saying "The F Word" At Walmart

Well, here's a truly weird story, disorderly conduct charges have been dropped against a Texas woman who dropped an f-bomb at her local Walmart.

According to the Galveston County Daily News the woman was shopping for batteries in preparation for Tropical Storm Edouard when she said aloud:

"They don't have any fucking more."

This, apparently, was enough to get her handcuffed and written a citation by an assistant fire marshal who was near enough to overhear her. Dwight Shrute? Is that you?

The judge dropped the charges Wednesday due to insufficient evidence.

"I wasn't verbally attacking anyone," the f-bomb dropper told the local newspaper. "I didn't start to flip out until he acted like he was going to arrest me for something I said in casual conversation between two adults."

F-bomb charge dropped [Galveston Daily News]

Courtesy of The Consumerist

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Girl,14, faces child porn charges for posting nude pictures of HERSELF on MySpace

By Mail Foreign Service
Last updated at 1:54 PM on 27th March 2009

A 14-year-old girl will go before a court on child pornography charges after she put nude pictures of herself online.

The teenager, who has not been identified, allegedly posted 30 indecent images on social networking site MySpace.

After being arrested, she reportedly claimed to have posted the pictures for her boyfriend's pleasure.

Teen Girl Using Computer

The teenager, who has not been identified, allegedly posted 30 indecent images on social networking site MySpace

The images could be viewed by anyone registered as a friend on the site and also seen by people who knew her name.

American police swooped after a tip off from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

They spent a month investigating the case before charging the girl, who has not been identified but is from New Jersey, with two counts of possessing and distributing child pornography.

Maureen KankaMegan kanka

Maureen Kanka, left, who campaigned for parents to know the identity of sex offenders after her daughter Megan (right) was murdered has attacked the decision to prosecute the teenager on child pornography charges

If convicted, she will have to register as a sex offender under Megan's Law, which gives parents the right to know the identity of sex offenders in their area.

The decision to prosecute her was attacked by the mother of the girl whose death inspired the legislation.

Maureen Kanka, whose daughter Megan was raped and murdered by a neighbour when she was seven, said that prosecutors are harming children more than helping them.

Courtesy of Mail Online

Friday, March 27, 2009

ShamWow Guy Beats Up Cannibal Hooker

Vince Shlomi, best known as television's ShamWow! guy, was arrested in Miami last month. For beating up a prostitute. Who allegedly tried to bite his tongue out. Did you know that? Now you do.

The Smoking Gun got hold of the police report
and Mr. Shlomi's mug shot, and as you can see, he didn't escape unscathed. But neither did she. The facts of the case, briefly, according to the police report:

  • Shlomi meets Sasha Harris in a Miami club. They go back to his hotel.
  • She propositions him for "straight sex." He pays her a thousand bucks in cash.
  • He kisses her.
  • She "bit his tongue and would not let go."
  • He punches her in her face repeatedly until she lets go.
  • He runs down to the hotel lobby.
  • They both get arrested.
Sham. Wow.

Courtesy of Gawker

Teen Paints 60-Foot Phallus on Family’s Roof

Talk about overcompensating: A British teen has painted a 60-foot phallus on the roof of his family’s home. (Or, as The Sun says, a “60ft willy.”) The teen says he wanted the newly refinished mansion to stand out on Google Earth.

60-Foot Phallus
Rory McInnes, 18, was apparently inspired by the endowment of the famous “Cerne Abbas Giant” — the massive carving of a naked guy on a hill in Dorset, England. McInnes says he spent half an hour replicating a particular part of the carving, and here’s the kicker: He did it a year ago. No one else knew about it until now.
“It’s an April Fool’s joke, right?” the boy’s father asked The Sun when contacted. It seems a chopper pilot was the first to find and photograph the, er, work, and let the British media know about it.

Crime and Punishment
The boy, now traveling in Brazil, laughed when his parents called. He may not be laughing for long, though: The father says he’ll be giving his son a scrubbing brush when he gets back, along with the task of removing the paint on his own.

Until then, though, it looks like any area roosters will have an oddly appropriate place to sing their morning songs.

Courtesy of The Inquisitr

8 Hours a Day Spent on Screens, Study Finds

Published: March 26, 2009
IN a world with grocery store television screens, digitally delivered movie libraries and cellphone video clips, the average American is exposed to 61 minutes of TV ads and promotions a day.
Some people may think that amount seems excessive. But “people don’t seem to be getting up and running away,” said Jack Wakshlag, chief research officer at Turner Broadcasting.
In fact, adults are exposed to screens — TVs, cellphones, even G.P.S. devices — for about 8.5 hours on any given day, according to a study released by the Council for Research Excellence on Thursday. TV remains the dominant medium for media consumption and advertising, the study found. The data suggests that computer usage has supplanted radio as the second most common media activity. (Print ranks fourth.)
The council was created by the Nielsen Company but has an independent board. The $3.5 million study, paid for by Nielsen, sought, in part, to determine whether media companies needed to address new forms of media measurement.
Researchers at Ball State University’s Center for Media Design, who conducted the study for the council, say it is the largest observational look at media usage ever conducted. Rather than relying on what people remembered watching, researchers captured the actions in real time by shadowing 350 subjects — most of whom were former members of the Nielsen television ratings panel — and recording each person’s behavior in 10-second increments. The researchers say they recorded 952 days of behavior. People under 18 were not included in the study.
The results of the video consumer study may intrigue advertising clients ahead of the upfront season for ad sales. The researchers found that the number of minutes with media is almost identical for every age group. Mr. Wakshlag called the amount of time “amazingly consistent across the age groups.” Except, that is, for 45-to-54-year-olds, who spend on average an extra hour in front of screens each day, the study found.
“It flies in the face of conventional wisdom, of course, which tells us that the younger cohorts apparently spend more time with screen-based media,” said Michael Bloxham, a director of the center at Ball State.
Among other surprises, the research found that young people aren’t the only ones dividing their attention among multiple screens and machines; people in their 20s, 30s, 40s and early 50s essentially multitask for the same amount of time. People over 55 are markedly less likely to be multitasking. “That’s where the generation gap, if there is one, may exist,” Mr. Bloxham said.
Although the researchers emphasized that the study did not set out to prove any specific points about media consumption, much of the data is “actually quite comforting” for the television industry, Mr. Wakshlag said. The data reaffirms much of what Nielsen has found in past studies, namely that television remains by far the dominant medium for video viewing. The Ball State study found that the average American adult was exposed to five hours and nine minutes of live TV each day, almost 15 minutes of TV via a DVR device and 2.4 minutes of video on the computer.
“Even though people have the opportunity to watch video on their computers and cellphones, TV accounts for 99 percent of all video consumed in 2008,” Mr. Bloxham said. “Even among the 18-to-24-year-olds, it was 98 percent.”
Among younger audiences, there are some leading indicators that the Web is affecting media usage. The data shows that 18-to-24-year-olds — generally college students and new entrants into the work force — watch the smallest amount of live TV of any age group (three and a half hours a day), spend the most time text messaging (29 minutes a day) and watch the most online video (5.5 minutes a day).
Slightly older viewers, those ages 25 to 34, spend the most time of any group watching DVD or VCR videos. People ages 35 to 44 spend more time on the Web than other groups, 74 minutes a day on average. The next demographic, 45 to 54 years old, spends the most time on e-mail. Consumers over the age of 65 watch the most live TV, according to the research.
The researchers found that television and video games attract the most undivided attention, while other actions (like listening to music) often occur while people are doing other things.
More than 30 percent of households now own digital video recorders, allowing them to time-shift their viewing and potentially fast-forward past advertisements. The study found that the average American watches almost 15 minutes of TV using a DVR each day.
Mr. Wakshlag said that newer owners of DVRs “are using them for less time-shifted viewing than the ones who bought them a while back.” Mr. Bloxham noted that more people were receiving DVRs as part of a cable company upgrade, instead of buying them on their own.
While the study’s findings mostly align with the ratings that Nielsen and other companies report on a daily and monthly basis, the researchers did find that people remembered watching less TV than they actually did.
When subjects in the study were asked to recall their behaviors, “people underestimated the amount of time they spent with TV by a substantial amount,” about 25 percent on average, Mr. Wakshlag said. The same people tended to overestimate their use of other media.
For some people, there is a “social stigma” attached to high levels of TV watching, Mr. Bloxham said. When some people are asked to estimate their TV viewing, he said, some of them may not “want to tell you five or six hours, because that may slip into the couch potato category,” he said. For others, he said, “there is no stigma because being able to talk about last night’s reality show or last night’s ball game is social currency.”

Courtesy of The New York Times

Thursday, March 26, 2009

States consider drug tests for welfare recipients

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) -- Want government assistance? Just say no to drugs.

Lawmakers in at least eight states want recipients of food stamps, unemployment benefits or welfare to submit to random drug testing.

The effort comes as more Americans turn to these safety nets to ride out the recession. Poverty and civil liberties advocates fear the strategy could backfire, discouraging some people from seeking financial aid and making already desperate situations worse.

Those in favor of the drug tests say they are motivated out of a concern for their constituents' health and ability to put themselves on more solid financial footing once the economy rebounds. But proponents concede they also want to send a message: you don't get something for nothing.

"Nobody's being forced into these assistance programs," said Craig Blair, a Republican in the West Viginia Legislature who has created a Web site - notwithmytaxdollars.com - that bears a bobble-headed likeness of himself advocating this position. "If so many jobs require random drug tests these days, why not these benefits?"

Blair is proposing the most comprehensive measure in the country, as it would apply to anyone applying for food stamps, unemployment compensation or the federal programs usually known as "welfare": Temporary Assistance for Needy Families and Women, Infants and Children.

Lawmakers in other states are offering similar, but more modest proposals.

On Wednesday, the Kansas House of Representatives approved a measure mandating drug testing for the 14,000 or so people getting cash assistance from the state, which now goes before the state senate. In February, the Oklahoma Senate unanimously passed a measure that would require drug testing as a condition of receiving TANF benefits, and similar bills have been introduced in Missouri and Hawaii. A Florida senator has proposed a bill linking unemployment compensation to drug testing, and a member of Minnesota's House of Representatives has a bill requiring drug tests of people who get public assistance under a state program there.

A January attempt in the Arizona Senate to establish such a law failed.

In the past, such efforts have been stymied by legal and cost concerns, said Christine Nelson, a program manager with the National Conference of State Legislatures. But states' bigger fiscal crises, and the surging demand for public assistance, could change that.

"It's an example of where you could cut costs at the expense of a segment of society that's least able to defend themselves," said Frank Crabtree, executive director of the West Virginia chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union.

Drug testing is not the only restriction envisioned for people receiving public assistance: a bill in the Tennessee Legislature would cap lottery winnings for recipients at $600.

There seems to be no coordinated move around the country to push these bills, and similar proposals have arisen periodically since federal welfare reform in the 1990s. But the appearance of a cluster of such proposals in the midst of the recession shows lawmakers are newly engaged about who is getting public assistance.

Particularly troubling to some policy analysts is the drive to drug test people collecting unemployment insurance, whose numbers nationwide now exceed 5.4 million, the highest total on records dating back to 1967.

"It doesn't seem like the kind of thing to bring up during a recession," said Ron Haskins, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. "People who are unemployed, who have lost their job, that's a sympathetic group. Americans are tuned into that, because they're worried they'll be next."

Indeed, these proposals are coming at a time when more Americans find themselves in need of public assistance.

Although the number of TANF recipients has stayed relatively stable at 3.8 million in the last year, claims for unemployment benefits and food stamps have soared.

In December, more than 31.7 million Americans were receiving food stamp benefits, compared with 27.5 million the year before.

The link between public assistance and drug testing stems from the Congressional overhaul of welfare in the 1990s, which allowed states to implement drug testing as a condition of receiving help.

But a federal court struck down a Michigan law that would have allowed for "random, suspicionless" testing, saying it violated the 4th Amendment's protections against unreasonable search and seizure, said Liz Schott, a senior fellow at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

At least six states - Indiana, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, Wisconsin and Virginia - tie eligibility for some public assistance to drug testing for convicted felons or parolees, according to the NCSL.

Nelson said programs that screen welfare applicants by assigning them to case workers for interviews have shown some success without the need for drug tests. These alternative measures offer treatment, but can also threaten future benefits if drug problems persist, she said.

They also cost less than the $400 or so needed for tests that can catch a sufficient range of illegal drugs, and rule out false positive results with a follow-up test, she said.


Associated Press Writer Lawrence Messina in Charleston contributed to this report.

© 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

Courtesy of Associated Press

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Antipodes Map

See the other side of the world

In geography, the antipodes of any place on Earth is its antipodal point; that is, the region on the Earth's surface which is diametrically opposite to it. Two points which are antipodal to one another are connected by a straight line through the centre of the Earth. Full article at Wikipedia.

Double-click on or move the original map to set a marker on a desired location. The antipode map will automatically show it's antipodal location.

Courtesy of Antipodes Map


Bio: Video + Optin = Success, Internet Marketer, http://TwitTalk.tv Twitter SEO & Business Positioning Expert, Life Coach,Trainer, Author,Google Marketing Secret

Mike Wesley has quite a presence on twitter. With over 30,000 followers and almost 15,000 tweets in just over a year, he's hard to miss. He has become something of a twitter expert (twexpert?), and can be seen flaunting his expertise on regular live http://TwitTalk.tv video conferences. He's also something of a marketer, and is currently promoting a project of his called VideOptin, among other things. As busy as he is, he has found the time to intweet, so let's see what he has to say...

Welcome to your intweet! The question of the night is, can you outdo Obama?

@Mike_Wesely: That can be tough, but if he stands still for too long, it could happen.

Not much chance of that happening! You've achieved a lot in your 1st year on twitter, haven't you?

Yes pretty proud of were I'm at :-)

That's what I really want to know tonight. Where ARE you at? What would you say you've achieved?

I have built some very strong relationships, and have also positioned myself in a good place

Positioned yourself for what?

Positioned as a go to person about Twitter and for many other things.

Yes, I was watching u on http://TwitTalk.tv 2nite. How long did it take to become a twexpert?

Well over a few months i just tried to help people with Twitter questions and then it just grew from there.

I see you're using that knowhow for coaching. How else does it benefit you?

again it mostly comes down building relationships with people,

...and once you've built that relationship, what then? This is the meaty bit, as far as I can tell.

well u build relationships, u attract to U, then any products or services people want to get from U because they like U.

It is really all just human characteristics, no different on Twitter than F2F. Most don't realize this simple thing

U see, that's the bit I've never really worked out. How successful have you been at this critical (selling) stage?

I have had successes, but I havent really even gotten to that stage yet, the more patient U are the more successful this is.

I also will say I was at Events the past 2 weeks and because of Twitter and my position, many ppl were coming 2 me for advice

I get the impression that marketing isn't new to u. What were you doing b4 u started on twitter?

I am a marketer that has a software company, and offering services like content mng. sys. , autoresponder, and shop cart

The last 2+ yrs have been developing social networking platforms

Ah, so u were already using the net. Tell me about these social networking platforms you're developing...

The biggest I am restricted to talk about, but http://SportsBunch.com is one of them, we also can plug to any niche

Mmmm, sport! What about VideOptin - that's another project of yours, right?

Yes, http://VideOptin.com is a service that works with ur autoresponder that combines video and the optin in the same player

Do you come up with these ideas, or is your job just to sell them?

I am the Idea guy for sure. always luv solving problems

I was going to ask u what is the next big social networking app, but I guess you can't tell me?

Well I will say that I feel Twitter is here to stay for a while, but the next will be very video intense i believe.

Is that a hint?

It Could be ;-)

What IS it that you think makes twitter so popular?

the 140 Chars. (short) and real time response - Great way to build relationships :-)

So do those 140 characters swallow up most of yr life, or are you a good time manager?

I am active indeed, but I am a great multi-tasker and doing other work at the same time

Would you still be using twitter if you weren't using it for marketing?

who knows what path I would be on if i were not a marketer, but, I will say Twitter has benefits for all > So I would hope so

You post a lot of quotes - do you have a fav?

#QUOTE: "Be Yourself, Nobody likes the other You anyway."

LOL, that's a good one! And finally, who inspires you on twitter?

That one and others i personally write, are special, but I post a lot of really special ones for sure.

All the really really cool followers i have. without them I am nobody.

A great way to finish! Well, thank you. It's been a pleasure getting to know the man behind the pointing fingers...

@Mike_Wesely: Thats funny, and I appreciate u taking the time to share what i Have to say :-) Good Luck to U and all ur readers :-)

Thank you.

Courtesy of intweets

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Google removes UK street view images

In Britain, the software giant Google says it has removed several images from its Street View application after launching it just 24 hours earlier.

Street View allows people to see 360-degree ground-level images of cities that are captured from a car equipped with a camera.

A Google spokeswoman confirmed that only hours after launching it in the UK, images depicting a man vomiting outside a London pub and another man leaving a sex shop were removed from the site.

The company says it protects privacy by blurring faces and number plates.

Courtesy of ABC News

Monday, March 16, 2009

Rapping Flight Attendant

Courtesy of Mahalo Answers

Robot hailed as a living doll

A new robot unveiled by Japan's National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology is being hailed as the most lifelike creation yet.
Courtesy of SBS World News


Bio: Think before tweeting... Disinfect keyboard after reading... Mostly Harmless

When I first saw @CrazyOnYou's twitter bio, I was compelled to follow him - especially the 'Disinfect keyboard after reading' bit. And I haven't been disappointed. His tweets are often humorous and he has been quick to banter when I've @ replied to some of the many of his tweets that invite it. When he's not being funny, @CrazyOnYou is often posting great music to listen to. Okay, not always great, but he is a veritable font of musical fodder.

@jafprrr: Well, here we are. Welcome to the inaugural intweet!

@CrazyOnYou: I'm looking forward to it ... Let's have fun!

@jafprrr: Nervous?

@CrazyOnYou: Naah... Looking forward to the conversation.

@jafprrr: Good. So, um, what DID happen in the Foreign Legion?

@CrazyOnYou: Let's Get This Party Started... :) ♫ http://blip.fm/~312gx

@jafprrr: You got a party started in the Foreign Legion?

@CrazyOnYou: Really? I didn't know those guys cared... Big hugz guys. Except for you Pierre.

@jafprrr: I think I heard about Pierre...congrats on your 10,000th tweet yesterday

@CrazyOnYou: Thank you! It's funny how people react around milestone tweets. Most of my tweetstream is random so it didn't seam big...

@jafprrr: You know, I did some calcs, & it works out to >5 tweeps per follower & >25 tweeps per day

@CrazyOnYou: I'm quality, babe! And, apparently somewhat compulsive..

@jafprrr: Which of course leads to beer (what doesn't?)...I couldn't help but notice your pic. Like the odd brew?

@CrazyOnYou: I like the odd brew, the even brew and quite a few in between... But don't forget coffee...

@jafprrr: Do you have a fav? Or does compulsion simply make it the one in front of you?

@CrazyOnYou: My favorite brew is Guiness. My favorite coffee is Gevalia. You know I never noticed that they both start with 'G' before...

@jafprrr: Sazarack doesn't, though. @lynndorman wanted me to ask you about that - that is, if you remember...

@CrazyOnYou: It was New Orleans... There might have been some alcohol involved... I remember waking up three days later...

@jafprrr: Actually, I see she wanted me to ask you how to MAKE Sazarack...and thoughts on that?

@lynndorman: he can drink it too

@CrazyOnYou: Umm... Can I call a friend? Well, uhh.... Did you know yesterday was Pi Day?

@jafprrr: No, but I see you had some fun with #3hotwords. What is Pi Day? 3 words please...

@CrazyOnYou: Irrational math love

@jafprrr: Ok, you can go into a LITTLE more detail...

@CrazyOnYou: Yesterdays date 3/14 corresponded to the first digits of the irrational number pi. Plus, I ate some cherry pie...

@jafprrr: You know, in most parts of the world, Pi Day would be 4/31 (except there isn't one)

@CrazyOnYou: I told you it was irrational... Would you like that ala mode?

@jafprrr: Probably. So, how did your task oriented day go today? Did it beat the depression, or is this a better antidote?

@CrazyOnYou: Well, this is a lot more fun! The tasks were like Russian dolls, starting one created others which created others...

@jafprrr: That darned real life keeps getting in the way, doesn't it?

@CrazyOnYou: Yeah, especially the real life that I didn't pick up and then tripped over...

@jafprrr: At least it wasn't a real-life rake, I guess. @waterbears wants to know: How did you come to love music so much?

@CrazyOnYou: Thanks, @waterbears ! I grew up studying, learning and reading with music in the background. It's part of how I think now...

@jafprrr: So that explains it (how you think, that is)...

@CrazyOnYou: Nothing explains how I think... I still surprised people give me credit for thinking in the first place...

@jafprrr: And this growing up thing, when did that happen?

@CrazyOnYou: Well, I got taller. Then I grew wider. Probably never going to get more mature, though...

@jafprrr: That's a relief! We're racing thru the hour here, so who are some of yr fav tweeps? I wanna check 'em out...

@CrazyOnYou: Oh, God, that's a great way for me to get in trouble... @Astrogirl426 and @ImWendy and @smuttysteff and @ninjen and... You!

@jafprrr: Shucks! I was thinking that was a little unfair as I hit Enter. This is easier: fav music?

@CrazyOnYou: Well, Heart, obviously. I like all kinds of music: classical, rock, country, hip hop, world, Latin... It all speaks to me.

@jafprrr: And finally, can we find you anywhere else? There's no link on yr profile...

@CrazyOnYou: I'm getting ready to start a blog, watch my profile and my tweets to find out about it.

@jafprrr: Will do. Well, thank you - you've made the very first intweet a most enjoyable experience...

@CrazyOnYou: It's been a lot of fun. Glad I took all those Valium... Am I drooling?

@jafprrr: Is that what it is? I wasn't going to say anything...

@CrazyOnYou: It always happens when I don't get the meds just right... Bunnies! Fluffy pink bunnies!

Courtesy of intweets

Friday, March 13, 2009

Skiing with large cajones

45 percent of world's wealth destroyed: Blackstone CEO

By Megan Davies and Walden Siew

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Private equity company Blackstone Group LP (BX.N) CEO Stephen Schwarzman said on Tuesday that up to 45 percent of the world's wealth has been destroyed by the global credit crisis.

"Between 40 and 45 percent of the world's wealth has been destroyed in little less than a year and a half," Schwarzman told an audience at the Japan Society. "This is absolutely unprecedented in our lifetime."

But the U.S. government is committed to the preservation of financial institutions, he said, and will do whatever it takes to restart the economy.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner plans to unfreeze credit markets through a new program that will combine public and private capital in a fund that would buy bank toxic assets of up to $1 trillion.

"In all likelihood, that will have the private sector buy troubled assets to clean the banks out in terms of providing leverage ... so that we can get more money back into the banking system," Schwarzman said.

He expects the private sector to end up making "some good money doing that," but added there were complex issues on how to price toxic assets.

He put part of the blame for the financial crisis to credit rating agencies.

"What's pretty clear is that, if you were looking for one culprit out of the many, many, many culprits, you have to point your finger at the rating agencies," he said.

Rating companies have been the focus of intense criticism for their role in granting top "AAA" ratings for complex bonds that later plummeted in value, resulting in subsequent rating cuts, in many cases to junk status.

"Once you bought into ... the Triple A paper and it turned out to be paper that was in many situations going to end up defaulting, then you really had the makings of a global problem," he said.

Schwarzman said problems were then exacerbated by mark-to- market accounting rules. Those rules ask banks and other financial institutions to price assets at a value related to how they would be sold in the open market.

Blackstone reported a quarterly loss in February after writing down the value of its portfolio and eliminated its fourth-quarter dividend.

Asked where was a good place to invest, Schwarzman said it made sense to buy cyclical names, which are less exposed to the economic cycles.

He said investors also may find value in debt products, including "senior layers of certain securitizations," where investors can see 15 percent to 20 percent returns, he said.

Geographically, he said there were "pockets of strength" in China, which is committed to getting to an 8 percent growth level, and in India, where the economy is slowing but banks are in good shape.

(Editing by Andre Grenon)

Courtesy of Reuters

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Top 20 Wise Quotes Of Confucius

1. Everything has its beauty but not everyone sees it.

2. Ignorance is the night of the mind, but a night without moon and star.

3. It does not matter how slowly you go so long as you do not stop.

4. Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in getting up every time we do.

5. What the superior man seeks is in himself; what the small man seeks is in others.

6. They must often change who would be constant in happiness or wisdom.

7. I am not one who was born in the possession of knowledge; I am one who is fond of antiquity, and earnest in seeking it there.

8. If a man takes no thought about what is distant, he will find sorrow near at hand.

9. Learning without thought is labor lost; thought without learning is perilous.

10. Recompense injury with justice, and recompense kindness with kindness.

11. The cautious seldom err.

12. The superior man cannot be known in little matters, but he may be entrusted with great concerns. The small man may not be entrusted with great concerns, but he may be known in little matters.

13. The superior man is modest in his speech, but exceeds in his actions.

14. Things that are done, it is needless to speak about…things that are past, it is needless to blame.

15. Virtue is not left to stand alone. He who practices it will have neighbors.

16. What you do not want done to yourself, do not do to others.

17. When you know a thing, to hold that you know it; and when you do not know a thing, to allow that you do not know it - this is knowledge.

18. With coarse rice to eat, with water to drink, and my bended arm for a pillow - I have still joy in the midst of these things. Riches and honors acquired by unrighteousness are to me as a floating cloud.

19. Without an acquaintance with the rules of propriety, it is impossible for the character to be established.

20. To go beyond is as wrong as to fall short.

Contributor: JFrater

Courtesy of The List Universe

How to spot a Redneck with a DUI conviction

Courtesy of Irony Plus

CL*T BLOOPER: Jimmy Kimmel uncensored 'clip' slip

10 must see electron micrograph images

An electron micrograph is an image taken using electrons to illuminate a specimen and create an enlarged picture of it. Some of these photos can magnify specimens up to 2 million times.

Here are 10 awesome electron micrograph images.

Soybean Cyst Nematode
The Picture shows Pollen of the Common Ragweed. It is the most widespread plant of the genus Ambrosia in North America. Pollen is a fine to coarse powder consisting of microgametophytes, which produce the sperm cells of seed plants. The pollen grain with its hard coat protects the sperm cells during the process of their movement between the stamens of the flower to the pistil of the next flower.

Crab Spider
Head of a Crab Spider. They are also commonly called "flower spiders" because they are most often found on flowers, lying in ambush for prey. Crab spiders do not build webs to trap prey, but are active hunters much like the jumping spiders.

Butterfly egg
Butterfly eggs consist of a hard-ridged outer layer of shell, called the chorion. It is the lined structure with a thin coating of wax which prevents the egg from drying out before the larva has had time to fully develop.

Bacteria: E. coli
These rod-shaped bacteria are enterobacters, which are part of the normal content of human and animal digestive systems. However, under certain conditions they can cause gastroenteritis and urinary tract infections.

The head of a flea, an external parasite living by hematophagy off the blood of mammals and birds.

Skin, lateral cut
A section through human skin. The skin layers, from top to bottom, are the stratum corneum, composed of flattened, dead skin cells that form the surface of the skin. The dead cells from this layer are continuously being shed and replaced by cells from the living epidermal layer below (red). The lowest layer seen here is the dermis. In the middle, a sweat gland can be seen.

Soybean Cyst
Soybean cyst nematode and its egg. It is a small plant-parasitic roundworm that attacks the roots of soybeans.

Immune system: Macrophage, defense against microfilarie
A Microfilariae (larval worms) of a parasitic nematode roundworm being attacked by cells of the immune system. Numerous nematodes cause disease in humans, living as parasites of the intestines, blood, lymph, subcutaneous & connective tissues.

Color-enhanced scanning showing Salmonella typhimurium (red) invading cultured human cells.

Shark skin
Scales from the skin of a shark. These sharply pointed placoid scales are also known as dermal teeth or denticles. They give the shark's skin the feel of sandpaper. The tip of each scale is made of dentine overlayed with dental enamel. The lower part of each scale is made of bone. The scales disrupt turbulence over the skin, considerably reducing the drag on the shark as it swims. This design has been investigated by engineers for use on the surfaces of aircraft and boats.

Sources: 1 , 2 , 3 , 4 , 5 ,
Credit: Rocky Mountain Laboratories, NIAID, NIH.