Dancing robot cheerleaders

The only thing better than state-of-the-arts robotics is when it’s combined with Force 9 cuteness. Japanese electronics company Murata Manufacturing has given us one example with the unveiling if its robotic Cheerleaders. The squad of ten ball-mounted robots uses advanced ultrasonics, infrared, and group control technology to perform synchronized dance routines with perfect stability.

The Murata Cheerleader stands 36 cm tall. The pom poms of the Murata Cheerleader are part of the balance system.

The Cheerleaders were built in collaboration with Matsuno Lab at Kyoto University and represent Murata’s fourth generation of robots. The design is based on the company’s bicycle-riding Murata Boy and unicycle-riding Murata Boy, though the Cheerleader robots are designed to represent “elementary school students full of energy and curiosity…”

Who says robots can’t be cute en masse?

An open letter to Fox News — from a lot of veterans

We are veterans of the United States armed forces, and we are writing to inform you that your remarks about United Arab Emirates Air Force Major Mariam Al Mansouri were unwarranted, offensive, and fundamentally opposed to what the military taught us to stand for.

First, foremost, and most obvious to everyone other than yourselves, your remarks were immensely inappropriate. Your co-host Kimberly Guilfoyle was so right to call attention to an inspiring story of a woman shattering glass ceilings in a society where doing so is immeasurably difficult. We never heard an answer to her question: why did you feel so compelled to “ruin her thing?”…

The less obvious implication of your remarks, however, is that by offending an ally and cheapening her contribution, you are actively hurting the mission. We need to send a clear message that anyone, male or female, who will stand up to ISIS and get the job done is worthy of our respect and gratitude.

We issue an apology on your behalf to Major Al Mansouri knowing that anything your producers force you to say will be contrived and insincere. Major, we’re sincerely sorry for the rudeness; clearly, these boys don’t take your service seriously, but we and the rest of the American public do.

RTFA for the complete statement – and the signatures of dozens of veterans, members of The Truman National Security Project uniting next-generation veteran, political, and policy leaders to develop and advance strong, smart, and principled solutions to global challenges…

Like most thoughtful, principled Americans, they reject the contemptible, backwards and bigoted ideology that lies decaying at the heart of Fox News.

Thanks, Ursarodinia

Teen salt intake especially worrying

Just like adults, children and teens in the U.S. consume a great deal of sodium — about 1,000 mg above the recommended maximum daily intake on average, according to a new CDC “Vital Signs” report.

Results from the 2009-2010 edition of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, which included 2,266 children 6- to 18-years-old, indicated a mean daily intake of 3,279 mg of sodium, whereas the recommended maximum in the Healthy People 2020 initiative is 2,300 mg/day, according to the report.

Sodium consumption was especially high in teens — participants of high school age had a mean intake of 3,672 mg/day.

As has been reported many times before, the report indicated that much of the sodium came in the form of commercially prepared foods — pizza, fast foods, soups, and snacks. Between-meal snacking accounted for 16% of overall intake, and school cafeteria foods contributed 26% of daily sodium intake on the days that children ate them.

The report’s authors noted that new standards for school meals will reduce their sodium content by 25% to 50% by 2022. But the impact on total sodium intake will reduce the average by only 150 mg/day at most — still leaving most children with daily intake well above the recommended maximum.

Given some recent reporting perhaps I shouldn’t be too cynical about Americans revising their diet, learning enough about nutrition to build a healthier life for future generations.

Well, maybe.

Chicken held for ransom rots — finally dumped in Montana landfill

The truckload of rotting chickens abandoned at a truck stop west of Missoula was dumped in the landfill Friday morning.

Republic Services employees would not let visitors into the dump site while a crew from West Central Environmental Consultants supervised the unloading of 37,000 pounds of spoiled chicken meat…

The trailer had little smell Friday morning, despite having no refrigeration for at least several weeks – and possibly a month. A small amount of liquid was still dripping out of the drain at the back of the trailer. Piles of absorbent material were used to contain the leakage.

A crew from Iron Horse Towing brought a semi-truck to haul the trailer away from the Flying J at the Missoula Wye.

Driver Brian Baird said he drew the short straw this morning and got the job hauling the trailer

According to Nampa, Idaho Police Sgt. Joe Ramirez, the load of frozen chickens had been picked up on Aug. 20 in Springdale, Arkansas, and was supposed to be delivered to Kent, Washington, on Aug. 21. It never arrived, and the truck and trailer were first reported stolen from Dixie River Freight Inc.’s Nampa office on Aug. 27.

Nampa police listed the truck as a stolen vehicle on Sept. 9, but didn’t immediately enter it in the National Crime Information Center because of some doubt about the criminal nature of the circumstances, Ramirez said in an email.

Detectives later learned that suspect-driver, Christopher L. Hall, had an extensive criminal history and is wanted on a federal parole violation. Hall is now also wanted for the alleged theft of a 2013 Volvo semi truck worth $160,000…

Last Saturday, Flying J truck stop workers at the Wye noticed the abandoned trailer, but didn’t know its contents. On Wednesday, Missoula County Sheriff’s deputies learned the driver allegedly tried to hold it for ransom money. Dixie River officials declined to pay, and the driver abandoned the trailer at the truck stop.

Eeoough! Yuck!

Thanks, Mike

TV reporter quits on air — promoting medical marijuana, legalizing weed

A television reporter quit her job on live TV with a big four-letter flourish after revealing she owns a medical marijuana business and intends to press for legalization of recreational pot in Alaska.

After reporting on the Alaska Cannabis Club on Sunday night’s broadcast, KTVA’s Charlo Greene identified herself as the business’s owner.

“Everything you’ve heard is why I, the actual owner of the Alaska Cannabis Club, will be dedicating all my energy toward fighting for freedom and for fairness, which begins with legalizing marijuana here in Alaska,” she said during the late Sunday evening newscast. “And as for this job, well not that I have a choice, but fuck it, I quit.”

She then walked off camera.

KTVA News Director Bert Rudman apologized for blah, blah, blah

Greene is the professional name used by Charlene Egbe. She told The Associated Press on Monday that she knew about a month ago that she would be leaving the way she did. No one else at the station knew anything about it, she said.

Alaska voters will decide in the November election whether to join Washington and Colorado in decriminalizing pot…

After voters approved the use of medical marijuana in 1998, the state of Alaska never set up dispensaries, forcing people to criminalize themselves to access pot…

Perish the thought that conservative politicians let democracy get in the way of maintaining reactionary policies.

And in the tradition of sophistry which rules much of American journalism, AP takes the time and space at the top and bottom of this article to track down dweebs opposing any science-based regulation of cannabis to give them equal coverage – or more.

Brain health may be boosted by curry spice

A spice commonly found in curries may boost the brain’s ability to heal itself, according to a report in the journal Stem Cell Research and Therapy.

The German study suggests a compound found in turmeric could encourage the growth of nerve cells thought to be part of the brain’s repair kit.

Scientists say this work, based in rats, may pave the way for future drugs for strokes and Alzheimer’s disease.

But they say more trials are needed to see whether this applies to humans…

Researchers from the Institute of Neuroscience and Medicine in Julich, Germany, studied the effects of aromatic-turmerone – a compound found naturally in turmeric.

Rats were injected with the compound and their brains were then scanned…Particular parts of the brain, known to be involved in nerve cell growth, were seen to be more active after the aromatic-turmerone infusion…

In a separate part of the trial, researchers bathed rodent neural stem cells (NSCs) in different concentrations of aromatic-tumerone extract…NSCs have the ability to transform into any type of brain cell and scientists suggest they could have a role in repair after damage or disease.

Dr Maria Adele Rueger, who was part of the research team, said: “In humans and higher developed animals their abilities do not seem to be sufficient to repair the brain but in fish and smaller animals they seem to work well.”

The research found the higher the concentration of aromatic-turmerone, the greater the growth of the NSCs…And the cells bathed in the turmeric compound seemed to specialise into certain types of brain cells more rapidly too.

Always worth studying folk medicine to see if apocrypha translates to useful modern medicine. Some myths are downright dangerous and unproductive; but, like digitalis research, aromatic-turmerone may benefit a lot more than the South Asian palate.

Tip o’ the hat to Mike – great minds and etc.

Is Neil deGrasse Tyson sexier than Stephen Hawking?

When you think of astrophysicists, you probably don’t think standing ovation.

But more than 1,000 people rose and cheered for Neil deGrasse Tyson on Friday night in Omaha — and that was even before he started speaking.

The response is another sign of Tyson’s status as a rock star scientist. He is known for his ability to share his passion and knowledge about science with everyday people, and this year hosted the award-winning Fox series “Cosmos…”

Tyson hit some serious topics during his talk, such as the importance of the scientific method. But he drew laughs and applause throughout the evening as he riffed on things, including People magazine once proclaiming him the “Sexiest Astrophysicist Alive.”

“You don’t get big headed about that,’’ he said. “I don’t know who I beat — Stephen Hawking?”

During his talk, called “Science as a Way of Knowing,” he suggested there are some positive signs about science in the United States today.

He noted that “Cosmos” was a 13-part documentary, on network TV during primetime…“That told me science is trendy,’’ he said…

Scientists, he said, carry bias and other shortcomings of judgment just like everyone else. The scientific method provides important “checks and balances.”

“That’s how we roll,’’ he said.

He was opening night speaker at Apostacon, a conference for atheists and other nonbelievers.

Best reason I ever heard of for visiting Omaha. I don’t need to go to Nebraska to find peaceful and windy. We have plenty of that in New Mexico.

Meanwhile, Stephen Hawking jostles mundane culture –

Continue reading

Nutball call for armed poll-watchers to confront Democratic voters

Voting-rights advocates have asked Wisconsin’s attorney general to investigate a Facebook group that has been calling for armed individuals to confront voters at the polls in November…

The Politicususa.com site posted an article about the group’s focus on African American voters and included a screen shot of a Twitter conversation between Wisconsin Poll Watcher Militia and a user identified as Patrick Murray.

The Wisconsin Poll Watcher Militias said: “We prefer our people be armed. Some will be heading to some of Milwaukee, Racine and Beloit’s worst areas. We will be armed with a list of people to look for at each location.”

Patrick Murray replied: “Just so you are aware, I will not report Republicans. Only Democrats”.

Wisconsin Poll Watcher Militia said: “We will be targeting heavy Democrat districts, so it is doubtful this will even be an issue…”

Andrea Kaminski, executive director of the League of Women Voters of Wisconsin, told the Guardian that such an exchange constitutes conspiracy to commit a felony – voter intimidation. “They call themselves a militia, although who knows, it could be two guys with nothing better to do sitting in their basement,” Kaminski stated in a phone interview. Still, she said, “whether anybody will go to the polls or not, they’re already committing a crime because conspiring to commit a crime is a felony.”

Idjits are alive and well in Wisconsin – apparently including the most backwards variety of White Citizens Council scum who can’t abide our constitutional right to vote.

Now, the shit-for-brains “independent” who setup the Facebook account says it was just a joke to fool journalists and bloggers. Andrea Kaminski – from the League of Women Voters – original response to the post was, “it could be two guys with nothing better to do sitting in their basement.”

Might turn out to be just one guy. Since he says he’s alone, I guess this is political masturbation he’s practicing.

Right-wing school board provokes the civil disobedience they consider unAmerican

This week some families in Arvada, Colo., are bringing one of nation’s founding principles, civil disobedience, back into vogue by supporting their kids in a district-wide student walkout in protest of a new school board curriculum policy that could keep teachers from sharing much of our nation’s history of acts of civil disobedience.

According to The New York Times reporting from Arvada, “A new conservative school board majority here in the Denver suburbs recently proposed a curriculum-review committee to promote patriotism, respect for authority and free enterprise and to guard against educational materials that ‘encourage or condone civil disorder.’”

In response, hundreds of students, teachers and parents from high schools across the Jefferson County school district, the second largest in Colorado walked out of school, the Times reported. “Sympathetic parents brought poster board, magic markers and bottles of water,” according to the Times…

It’s worth a look at what our nation would miss if the Arvada school board did get a chance to remove from the curriculum all events that inspired, what they describe as today’s “educational materials that encourage or condone civil disorder.”

First to go might be the Boston Tea Party (the original one, not today’s national conservative political movement of the same name) leading to the War for Independence…

However, since The Tea Party was also an act of “free enterprise” it might make the cut. If the Tea Party was kept, the school board might instead choose to remove all the anti-war movements involving acts of civil disobedience.

In that case, they could stop teaching the works of Henry David Thoreau, who famously went to jail for refusing to participate in the US war against Mexico in 1849…

Since “civil disorder” is how women got the vote, the board could zap away all references to the US Women’s Suffrage movement which lasted from 1848 to 1920, a time during which thousands of women marched in the streets and were arrested to gain the right to vote.

And one of the most important historical movements in recent history, the civil rights movement, most notably represented by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., wouldn’t have a chance, because it was all about sit-ins and protests that chipped away at segregation.

Nothing new about conservatives burning books – or in the style of groups endorsed by the Koch Brothers [the Arvada School Board], preventing students from access to books and thoughts that encourage independence.

They want tidy obedient little minds to roll out of employee production units – instead of anyone with the potential to fight for human progress and free thought.

There were lots of obedient little minds in Nazi Germany. They were considered Good Germans by the Reichsführer.

Thanks, Mike