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 veryhotthread  Author  Topic: Stuff & Nonsense  (Read 127757 times)
Swamprat
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« Reply #8415 on: May 4th, 2013, 10:20pm »

The Marvelous, Indomitable Cockroach

For a perfect creature, the roach is terrible at public relations. P.B. Cornwell in his book "The Cockroach" open with the line "the cockroach is probably the most obnoxious insect known to man." A Yale environmentalist carried out a sizable survey in 1988, asking the public what member of the animal kingdom they hate most, and the roach was consistantly at the top of the list. But regardless of their relationship with humans, nature has left them largely undisturbed. At least from the stand point of evolution.

According to Natalie Angiers New York Times article "How Can You Like A Roach", the cockroach has been around for roughly 400 million years, and in that vast stretch of time, it has undergone relatively little in the way of changes. Marion Copeland in her book titled "Cockroach" states "the cockraoch could not have scuttled along, almost unchanged ... unless it was doing something right."

Much of this can be attributed to their excellent survival skills. In Richard Schweid's book "The Cockroach Papers", it is discussed that roaches can survive as long as 90 days without food and 40 days without water. They can live for numerous hours without oxygen and can live in water at temperatures up to 160 degrees fahrenheit.

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« Reply #8416 on: May 5th, 2013, 12:16am »

I wonder if this is the reason why the "bad guy" aliens in Men In Black were akin to roaches. If we're thinking of lifeforms that might be well suited to surviving elsewhere, perhaps the roach is a great candidate.
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« Reply #8417 on: May 5th, 2013, 09:37am »

on May 4th, 2013, 10:20pm, Swamprat wrote:
The Marvelous, Indomitable Cockroach

For a perfect creature, the roach is terrible at public relations. P.B. Cornwell in his book "The Cockroach" open with the line "the cockroach is probably the most obnoxious insect known to man." A Yale environmentalist carried out a sizable survey in 1988, asking the public what member of the animal kingdom they hate most, and the roach was consistantly at the top of the list. But regardless of their relationship with humans, nature has left them largely undisturbed. At least from the stand point of evolution.

According to Natalie Angiers New York Times article "How Can You Like A Roach", the cockroach has been around for roughly 400 million years, and in that vast stretch of time, it has undergone relatively little in the way of changes. Marion Copeland in her book titled "Cockroach" states "the cockraoch could not have scuttled along, almost unchanged ... unless it was doing something right."

Much of this can be attributed to their excellent survival skills. In Richard Schweid's book "The Cockroach Papers", it is discussed that roaches can survive as long as 90 days without food and 40 days without water. They can live for numerous hours without oxygen and can live in water at temperatures up to 160 degrees fahrenheit.

http://www.dump.com/perfectcreature/


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Good morning Swamprat,

Hope all is well with you and yours.

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« Reply #8418 on: May 5th, 2013, 09:38am »

on May 5th, 2013, 12:16am, Reasoner wrote:
I wonder if this is the reason why the "bad guy" aliens in Men In Black were akin to roaches. If we're thinking of lifeforms that might be well suited to surviving elsewhere, perhaps the roach is a great candidate.


Great! Man's contribution: the roach

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Good morning Reasoner,

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« Reply #8419 on: May 5th, 2013, 09:40am »

Reuters

Israel strikes Syria, says targeting Hezbollah arms

By Dominic Evans and Oliver Holmes

BEIRUT
Sun May 5, 2013 10:21am EDT

(Reuters) - Israeli jets bombed Syria on Sunday, rocking Damascus for hours and sending pillars of flame into the night sky in what a Western source called a new strike on Iranian missiles bound for Lebanon's Hezbollah.

Local people reported massive explosions and internet video showed the capital's skyline lit by flashes; Syrian opponents of President Bashar al-Assad rejoiced at Israel's third raid this year, and second in 48 hours, while anger in Tehran highlighted how Syria's civil war risks spinning further beyond its borders.

Israel, while declining to confirm the strike, stressed its focus was to deny its Lebanese foes new Iranian firepower and not take sides between Assad, long seen as a toothless adversary, and rebels who have won sympathy from Israel's Western allies but who also include al Qaeda Islamists hostile to the Jewish state.

It appears to calculate that Assad will not risk forces he needs to fight the rebels by attacking a much stronger Israel.

Syrian state television said the bombing around a military research facility at Jamraya caused "many civilian casualties and widespread damage" and quoted a letter from the foreign minister to the United Nations saying: "The blatant Israeli aggression has the aim to provide direct military support to the terrorist groups after they failed to control territory."

People living near the Jamraya base spoke of explosions over several hours in various places near Damascus, including a town housing senior officials: "Night turned into day," one man told Reuters from his home near Jamraya, also struck on January 30.

CNN quoted Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal al-Mekdad calling Sunday's attack a "declaration of war", and the Iranian foreign minister urged countries to resist Israel. But a senior Iranian commander also said Syria was strong enough to defend itself without Tehran's help - though he also offered training.

ROCKETS TARGETED

A confidant of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel hoped that by not confirming its attack, it would not force its enemies into serious retaliation. There was little response from Hezbollah, Syria or Iran to an earlier attack on the Jamraya compound, near the Lebanese border, on January 30.

After an Israeli strike on Friday, U.S. President Barack Obama defended Israel's right to defend itself from Hezbollah, which fired many rockets into Israel during a war in 2006.

A Western intelligence source told Reuters: "In last night's attack, as in the previous one, what was attacked were stores of Fateh-110 missiles that were in transit from Iran to Hezbollah."

Hezbollah in Lebanon declined immediate comment. Iran denied that the attack was on armaments bound for Lebanon.

Israel has long sought to block Hezbollah's land, sea and air transport from Iran and frets such new missiles could give the Shi'ite militants, who share in Lebanon's government, the ability to strike its Tel Aviv conurbation with some accuracy.

Netanyahu's colleague, Tzachi Hanegbi, noted Obama's reluctant to heed calls for U.S. military backing for the rebels despite Assad's forces alleged use of poison gas.

Given the confusion among world powers, he added, Israel was only trying to protect its own interests and saw little to be gained by trying to influence the outcome of Syria's civil war.

"The world is helplessly looking at events in Syria," he told Army Radio. "That is why, as in the past, we are left with our own interests, protecting them with determination - and without getting too involved."

It was unclear whether Israel sought U.S. approval for the action; in the past, officials have indicated that Israel sees a need only to inform Washington once such a mission is under way.

Netanyahu and Obama have had a fraught relationship in past years, as Washington seeks to hold Israel back from any attack on Iran's nuclear program while diplomatic moves continue.

At a routine public appearance on Sunday, Netanyahu made no direct reference to the strikes in Syria but spoke pointedly of his responsibility to ensure Israel's future.

He maintained a plan to fly to China later in the day, suggesting he did not expect a major escalation. However, a military source said the army had deployed more anti-missile defense systems near the northern borders in recent days.

NIGHT OF EXPLOSIONS

Video footage uploaded onto the Internet by Syrian activists showed a series of blasts. One lit up the skyline of Damascus, while another sent up a tower of flames and secondary blasts.

Syrian state news agency SANA said Israeli aircraft struck in three places: northeast of Jamraya; the town of Maysaloun on the Lebanese border; and the nearby Dimas air base.

"The sky was red all night. We didn't sleep a single second. The explosions started after midnight and continued through the night," one man told Reuters from Hameh, close to Jamraya.

"There were explosions on all sides of my house," he added, saying people hid in basements during the events. In the center of Damascus, people at first thought there was an earthquake.

Hezbollah's Al-Manar television aired footage showing a flattened building spread over the size of a soocer field, with smoke rising from rubble containing shell fragments. It did not identify where the film was shot.

The streets of central Damascus were almost empty of pedestrians and traffic on Sunday morning, the start of the working week. Checkpoints that have protected the area from rebel attack appeared to have been reinforced.

Some opposition activists said they were glad strikes may weaken Assad, even if few Syrians have any liking for Israel.

"We don't care who did it," said Rania al-Midania in Damascus. "We care that those weapons are no longer there to kill us."

But in Israel, Netanyahu ally Hanegbi spoke of relative indifference in its attitude to the rebels and Assad, who had maintained a standoff with Israel that dated from the time of his father, who led Syria in its last war with its neighbor in 1973: "We have no interest because we have no ability to assess what is good for us regarding the future regime," Hanegbi said.

Netanyahu appeared at the dedication of a highway junction in memory of his late father. He made no reference to raids but said his father "taught me that the greatest responsibility we have is to ensure Israel's security and guarantee its future".

(Additional reporting by Mariam Karouny in Beirut, Marwan Makdesi in Damascus, Maayan Lubell, Dan Williams, Jeffrey Heller and Crispian Balmer in Jerusalem and Arshad Mohammed and Phil Stewart in Washington; Writing by Alastair Macdonald; Editing by Will Waterman)

http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/05/05/us-syria-crisis-blasts-idUSBRE94400020130505

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« Reply #8420 on: May 5th, 2013, 09:43am »

New York Times

May 4, 2013

Latest Product From Tech Firms: An Immigration Bill

By ERIC LIPTON and SOMINI SENGUPTA

WASHINGTON — The television advertisement that hit the airwaves in Florida last month featured the Republican Party’s rising star, Senator Marco Rubio, boasting about his get-tough plan for border security.

But most who watched the commercial, sponsored by a new group that calls itself Americans for a Conservative Direction, may be surprised to learn who bankrolled it: senior executives from Silicon Valley, like Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook and Reid Hoffman of LinkedIn, who run companies where the top employees donate mostly to Democrats.

The advertising blitz reflects the sophisticated lobbying campaign being waged by technology companies and their executives.

They have managed to secure much of what they want in the landmark immigration bill now pending in Congress, provisions that would allow them to fill thousands of vacant jobs with foreign engineers. At the same time, they have openly encouraged lawmakers to make it harder for consulting companies in India and elsewhere to provide foreign workers temporarily to this country.

Those deals were worked out through what Senate negotiators acknowledged was extraordinary access by American technology companies to staff members who drafted the bill. The companies often learned about detailed provisions even before all the members of the so-called Gang of Eight senators who worked out the package were informed.

“We are very pleased with the progress and happy with what’s in the bill,” said Peter J. Muller, a former House aide who now works as the director of government relations at Intel. “It addresses many of the issues we’ve been advocating for years.”

Now, along with other industry heavyweights, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the technology companies are trying to make sure the law gets passed — which explains the political-style television advertising campaign, sponsored by a group that has revealed no details about how much money it gets from its individual supporters.

The industry also hopes to get more from the deal by working to remove some regulatory restrictions in the proposal, including on hiring foreign workers and firing Americans.

Silicon Valley was once politically aloof before realizing in recent years that its future profits depended in part on battles here in Washington. Its effort to influence immigration legislation is one of its most sophisticated.

The technology industry “understands there’s probably not a tremendous amount of resistance to their part of the bill,” Mr. Rubio said in an interview last week, saying he welcomed the industry support. “But their future and getting the reform passed is tied to the overall bill.”

The bill has a good chance of winning passage in the Senate. The hardest sell will come in the House, where many conservative Republicans see the deal as too generous to immigrants who came to this nation illegally.

Rob Jesmer, a former top Republican Senate strategist who helps run the new Zuckerberg-backed nonprofit group that sponsored the Rubio ad, insisted that his organization’s push is based on the personal convictions of the executives who donated to the cause and who believe immigration laws need to be changed. Those convictions just happen to line up with what their corporations are lobbying for as well, he said.

“It will give a lot of people who are educated in this country who are already here a chance to remain in the United States,” Mr. Jesmer said, “and encourage entrepreneurs from all over the world to come to the United States and create jobs.”

The profound transition under way inside Silicon Valley companies is illustrated by their lobbying disclosure reports filed in Congress. Facebook’s lobbying budget swelled from $351,000 in 2010 to $2.45 million in the first three months of this year, while Google spent a record $18 million last year.

That boom in spending translates into hiring of top talent in the art of Washington deal-making. These companies have hired people like Joel D. Kaplan, a onetime deputy chief of staff in the Bush administration who now works for Facebook; Susan Molinari, a former House Republican from New York who is now a Google lobbyist; and outside lobbyists like Steven Elmendorf, a former chief of staff to Richard A. Gephardt, a former House majority leader, who works for Facebook.

The immigration fight, which has unified technology companies perhaps more than any other issue, has brought the lobbying effort to new heights. The industry sees it as a fix to a stubborn problem: job vacancies, particularly for engineers.

“We are not able to fill all the jobs that we are creating,” Brad Smith, Microsoft’s general counsel, told the Senate Judiciary Committee late last month.

Chief executives met with President Obama to discuss immigration. Venture capitalists testified in Congress. Their lobbyists roamed the Senate corridors to make sure their appeals were considered in the closed-door negotiations among the Gang of Eight, which included Mr. Rubio and Senator Charles E. Schumer, Democrat of New York, who have been particularly receptive.

In the many phone calls and hallway asides on Capitol Hill this year, those lobbyists realized that they had to give a little to get a lot of what they wanted. At the top of their wish list was an expansion of a temporary visa program called the H-1B, which allows companies to hire foreigners for jobs in the United States. There are a limited number of H-1Bs available each year, and competition for them is fierce.

Companies like Facebook and Intel use them largely to bring workers to their own offices. Consulting companies like Tata, based in India, use them to supply computer workers at American banks, oil companies and sometimes software firms.

Critics of H-1B visas point out that they mostly bring workers at the lowest pay scales. The technology industry’s main rivals in these negotiations were lawmakers who have long been critical of guest worker visa programs, chiefly Senator Richard J. Durbin, Democrat of Illinois, and groups that represent American engineers.

Silicon Valley lobbyists told Senate negotiators they agreed that the H1-B visa system had been subject to abuse. Go after the companies that take advantage of guest worker visas and give us the benefit of the doubt, they told the Senate staff members, according to interviews with several lobbyists.

“You know and we know there are some bad people in this system,” is how Scott Corley, the president of Compete America, a technology industry coalition, recalled the conversation. “We are simply trying to make sure that as they are pursuing the rats they are not sinking the ship.”

That acknowledgment, several lobbyists said privately, helped unlock an impasse in negotiations.

What emerged was a Senate measure that allows American technology companies to procure many more skilled guest worker visas, raising the limit to 110,000 a year from 65,000 under current law, along with a provision to expand it further based on market demand. The bill would also allow these companies to move workers on guest visas more easily to permanent resident visas, freeing up more temporary visas for these companies.

But it requires them to pay higher wages for guest workers and to post job openings on a Web site, so Americans can have a chance at them. And it draws a line in the sand between these technology firms and the mostly Indian companies that supply computer workers on H-1B visas for short-term jobs at companies in the United States.

“This provision accomplishes the goal of discouraging abuse of the program while providing an important incentive for companies to bring top talent to work in the United States for the long-term, where they will contribute to our economy,” said Mr. Kaplan, the former Republican White House aide who is now the vice president for United States public policy at Facebook.

The bill is written in such a way that it penalizes companies that have a large share of foreign guest workers among their United States work forces, eventually making it impossible for them to bring in any more. It allows large American companies that have many more American workers to continue to import workers. And it includes a provision that exempts from the guest worker count those employees that companies sponsor for green cards, essentially a bonus to American businesses like Facebook whose work forces are growing fast.

Companies that provide temporary foreign workers say the move is intended to push them out of the American market.

These companies, mostly based in India, have far less good will on Capitol Hill. Their hope now rests with convincing lawmakers that it would be counterproductive to punish them.

“Why are we in the United States? We are there because American corporations want us,” said Som Mittal, the president of the National Association of Software and Services Companies, which represents Indian companies. “We help them become competitive and serve their customers better.”

In interviews, Mr. Rubio and an aide to Mr. Schumer said the draft bill takes a balanced approach to penalize those who do not hire American workers for jobs here. They say the proposal is good for the country, even as it may benefit American technology firms.

In March, some of the biggest figures in the technology industry, including Mr. Zuckerberg, the Microsoft founder Bill Gates and the venture capitalist John Doerr, unveiled a new nonprofit advocacy group, called Fwd.Us, with its first mission being to push Congress to overhaul immigration law. The group has hired lobbyists and a staff of veteran political operatives.

more after the jump:
http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/05/us/politics/tech-firms-take-lead-in-lobbying-on-immigration.html?hp&_r=0

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« Reply #8421 on: May 5th, 2013, 09:55am »

Telegraph

Forgotten aviation pioneer’s aircraft to take to the air once more

A pioneering aircraft, built by a Welsh colliery worker more than 100 years ago but destroyed before it made a recorded flight, is being rebuilt from scratch to prove it would have flown successfully.

By Jasper Copping
6:45AM BST 05 May 2013

If it had not been for a crushingly bad stroke of luck, Christopher Carlyon would likely be remembered as one of aviation’s greatest pioneers.

As it was, the colliery worker from south Wales became one of history’s nearly men when a storm smashed his experimental aircraft before its first major flight, robbing him of a place in the record books.

More than 100 years on though, his biplane is being built from scratch finally to take to the skies – or at least 10ft off the ground – and ensure Carlyon gets the recognition he deserves.

The pit carpenter started his project in 1904, when he was 17, months after Orville and Wilbur Wright made their historic first flight in the US.

He assembled the aircraft in a shed he had built 400ft up Coedcae, a mountain near Bridgend. Once it was completed, he planned to glide across the Garw valley at its narrowest point, a flight of about half a mile.

The next step was to fit it with an engine. During the development phase, he undertook several 100-yard practice flights in meadows below the shed.

But before he could make a fully-recorded flight, the area was struck by a violent storm in 1910 which demolished the shed and the glider. Carlyon was so demoralised that he never returned to the project. A few years later, he joined the Army and fought in France, where he was badly injured. He returned home dogged by depression and died aged 59 from war-related injuries.

His dream is now being revived by another eccentric from the same village, Pontycymer: Thomas Merlin Maddock, a retired engineer.

The 78-year-old first heard about Carlyon in 1947 when his father took a day off work to go to his funeral. “I remember asking my father what he was doing and he told me about this man who had tried to fly across the valley and he took me out in the garden and showed me the slope.”

About a decade ago, Mr Maddock started to research Carlyon’s aircraft and managed to track down his son who lent him a collection of glass slides showing the aircraft in development in various forms, from which he has been able to follow the design faithfully.

After building scale models with wingspans of 2ft, then 8ft, he has now embarked upon a full-sized replica, with a 22ft wingspan, at his workshop in the village. He believes the frame was made from Sitka spruce and ash, with a thin muslin cloth covering the wings.

He suspects Carlyon was inspired to build the aircraft after reading about the Wright brothers in the local working men’s institute and studying pictures of their aircraft.

“I think he just saw photographs and from that designed his own plane,” he said.

Although other glider flights had been recorded before the aircraft was destroyed in 1910, Mr Maddock, who has worked as an engineer, businessman and harp maker, said Carlyon’s design was far more advanced than others, particularly its steering system, which used ailerons, rather than wing warping.

“His was unique. He was way ahead of others,” Mr Maddock said.

“He hadn’t got a clue how things flew. He was just venturing into the unknown, but he was a genius and I will prove it and make sure he is remembered better.”

Once he had flown across the valley, Carlyon planned to put an engine into the aircraft and had unsuccessfully asked his father, who ran a grocery, to provide the money for one.

Raydon Carlyon, 72, his son, said: “My grandfather told him that if he thought he could fly like a bird he must be doolally tap. People used to tell me all about my father and his glider, but in the family it wasn’t really spoken about much.

“It is wonderful what Mr Maddock is doing. My father was obviously a brilliant man and it would be fantastic if more people knew about him.”

Although the aircraft is an exact replica, the flight it is being built for has some important differences.

Rather than a traverse of the valley, it will be flown on an airfield, having been towed up to take-off speed. It will reach a height of no more than about 10ft from the ground. Two pilots have come forward to volunteer for the task.

Mr Maddock said: “I think the aircraft will fly, but I actually think that the storm saved Carlyon’s life. He would have been killed flying it off that mountain.

“He had no experience. He would have shot off that mountain, but any turbulence would have meant he wouldn’t have had a cat in hell’s chance.”

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/activityandadventure/10037735/Forgotten-aviation-pioneers-aircraft-to-take-to-the-air-once-more.html

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« Reply #8422 on: May 5th, 2013, 10:14am »

Hollywood Reporter

Network Comedy Crisis: Cable Chips Away as the Big Four Can't Make a New Hit

5:00 AM PDT 5/3/2013
by Marisa Guthrie

With "Modern Family" and "The Big Bang Theory" serving as rare exceptions to the rule, the struggling genre faces an uncertain future on the networks that made it a TV staple.

Less than two years ago, strong initial ratings for Fox's New Girl and CBS' 2 Broke Girls spurred myriad "comedy comeback" headlines. The sitcom is a staple of the broadcast brand, a genre that, when it works, can have tremendous upside (CBS' The Big Bang Theory and ABC's Modern Family sold in syndication for $2 million and $1.4 million an episode, respectively). But this season, the Big Four struggled to launch laughers. Several freshman comedies already have been axed (NBC's Animal Practice, CBS' Partners, Fox's Ben and Kate), and many more are on the chopping block (NBC's Guys With Kids and 1600 Penn). Only one first-year comedy has received a second-season order, and it can't even be called a legitimate hit: Fox's The Mindy Project averages a 2.1 rating in the 18-to-49 demographic.

Why have the broadcast networks been unable to locate their funny bones this season? Industry observers cite multiple factors, including a fractured media landscape in which viewers curate their own schedules; cable's increasing encroachment with unconventional fare; and a lack of patience on the part of network executives who, some showrunners contend, are too quick to pull the plug on half-hours or use them as schedule spackle (CBS' Rules of Engagement, for example).

"To really laugh with characters, you have to get to know them," says Happy Endings executive producer Jonathan Groff. The quirky ABC comedy has a core (albeit small) young fan base, but after getting the plum post-Modern Family slot last season, it was moved to Tuesdays, where it did not air until October and never had more than three consecutive weeks of originals. Endings was shelved in January, and on March 29, ABC began airing (or burning off) the remaining 10 episodes back-to-back on Fridays. Sources say producer Sony TV is pitching the show to cable networks, especially USA, which is attempting to break into scripted comedy with several pilots in development while using Modern Family reruns as a launchpad.

Of course, what's happening in comedy is a more pronounced version of what has happened in drama: Cable is stealing much of the buzz, awards and ratings with edgier, targeted shows. FX's It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, in its seventh season, was the No. 2-ranked comedy on cable among men. The network's animated Archer is the top-rated scripted cable comedy among viewers 18-to-49 and 18-to-34 and across all male demos. BET's The Game -- which pulled in a jaw-dropping 7.7 million viewers for its first episode on that network, which rescued it from the broadcast scrap heap -- was the No. 1 comedy among African-American viewers in 2012.

"You're picking out subcomponents of the audience and taking them away from broadcast," says FX Networks president and GM John Landgraf, who will launch FXX, a young-male-targeted network anchored by new seasons of Philadelphia and The League, on Sept. 2.

With its dual revenue stream and economic programming budgets, cable can afford to play to niches. "We have to service a different bar for our audience," says Marcus Wiley, senior vp comedy development at Fox Broadcasting. "We are numbers-based. Places like HBO and Showtime, they don't even have to think about numbers."

Indeed, the Zooey Deschanel comedy New Girl might be down double digits in its second season, but Fox still can charge more than $320,000 for a 30-second ad to reach its young, upscale audience. And while HBO's Girls is not widely viewed (1.1 million watched the second-season premiere, a number that would kill a broadcast comedy), its cultural impact makes it valuable. But big, broad hits are becoming increasingly rare. Modern Family and multicamera stalwarts Big Bang (reruns of which bested American Idol in the 18-to-49 demo April 18) and CBS' Two and a Half Men are the exception, not the rule.

Still, when a comedy works, it works big, which makes the half-hour a problem worth solving.

"There's more commonality to what makes people cry than to what makes them laugh," says Landgraf. "Comedy is the most sensitively specific genre there is."


http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/big-bang-theory-exception-network-449039

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« Reply #8423 on: May 5th, 2013, 10:18am »

Japan Times

New app lets amputees program prosthetic hands by themselves

AP
May 6, 2013

PHILADELPHIA – Double-amputee Jason Koger used to fly to visit a clinician when he wanted to adjust the grips on his bionic hands. Now he uses an app instead.

Koger this past week demonstrated the i-limb ultra revolution prosthetic developed by British firm Touch Bionics. Using a stylus and an iPhone, Koger can choose any of 24 grip patterns that best suit his needs.

It is the latest evolution in equipment for Koger, 34, who lost his hands in an all-terrain vehicle accident in 2008.

“Five years ago, I couldn’t pull my pants up by myself,” Koger said. “Today, I go hunting and do some of the things that I probably never imagined I could have done five years ago.”

The technology indicates how rapidly the field of prosthetics is changing, benefiting patients from injured military members to victims of last month’s Boston Marathon bombing. Practitioners say increased government research in light of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan is driving some of the advances.

In his accident, Koger received an electric shock after running into a downed power line. He went into a coma and had no idea until he woke up three days later that doctors had amputated both his limbs at the midforearm.

Since then, he has used a variety of prostheses, which he views as tools — different extensions for different tasks. Electric hooks have allowed him to pursue his passion for hunting. Myoelectric hands, which react to electrical impulses generated by his remaining arm muscles, offer more precise movements.

The previous version of Koger’s myoelectric device required programming by a prosthetist, meaning Koger had to fly to Advanced Arm Dynamics in Dallas. The specialist would work with Koger to pick a few grip patterns — such as pinching, pointing or shaking hands — to program into the i-limb.

Yet sometimes Koger would get home and realize they weren’t the ones he needed. Now, the latest i-limb comes with an iPhone or iPad app that allows him to reprogram his hand with the touch of a stylus. On Thursday, he demonstrated by gripping an orange, a baseball and a can of soda.

The i-limb allows fingers and thumbs to move independently and conform around certain objects, said Ryan Spill, a prosthetist for Advanced Arm Dynamics who is working with Koger. The thumb is also motorized, not passive, as in previous prostheses.

The Boston Marathon bombings, which wounded more than 260 people, including many with serious leg injuries, have shined a light on the advances in prostheses. However, experts note that technology for upper extremity bionics, which involve fine motor skills, is far different from what is needed for lower extremities, which focus on weight distribution and gait.

There have also been huge advances in computerized knees and feet, according to Joe Reda, assistant director of orthotics and prosthetic services at the Kessler Institute for Rehabilitation in New Jersey.

“The changes are happening rather rapidly now, and I think it’s because of our wars overseas,” Reda said. “The government is trying to put more money into research and development.”

The i-limb ultra revolution costs about $100,000, although some insurance policies might cover it. Koger received his free in exchange for testing the device and providing feedback. He met Friday with other amputees interested in the new technology.

Mark Dowling, 50, lost his arm to cancer several months ago. He said he cried while watching Koger demonstrate how the hand worked.

“I’m very touched with his story,” Dowling said.

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2013/05/06/world/new-app-lets-amputees-program-prosthetic-hands-by-themselves/#.UYZ3yZDn-1s

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« Reply #8424 on: May 5th, 2013, 10:32am »

A Dance Routine to Touch the Soul


Opening with.........Stonehenge!



http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UvvkJrKKYF8
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« Reply #8425 on: May 6th, 2013, 09:09am »

on May 5th, 2013, 10:32am, Swamprat wrote:
A Dance Routine to Touch the Soul


Opening with.........Stonehenge!



http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UvvkJrKKYF8


Wonderful! Thank you Swamprat for posting this.

And a good Monday morning to you.

Crystal

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« Reply #8426 on: May 6th, 2013, 09:15am »

Science Daily

Microwave Oven Cooks Up Solar Cell Material

May 6, 2013 — University of Utah metallurgists used an old microwave oven to produce a nanocrystal semiconductor rapidly using cheap, abundant and less toxic metals than other semiconductors. They hope it will be used for more efficient photovoltaic solar cells and LED lights, biological sensors and systems to convert waste heat to electricity.

Using microwaves "is a fast way to make these particles that have a broad range of applications," says Michael Free, a professor of metallurgical engineering. "We hope in the next five years there will be some commercial products from this, and we are continuing to pursue applications and improvements. It's a good market, but we don't know exactly where the market will go."

Free and the study's lead author, Prashant Sarswat, a research associate in metallurgical engineering, are publishing their study of the microwaved photovoltaic semiconductor -- known as CZTS for copper, zinc, tin and sulfur -- in the June 1 issue of the Journal of Crystal Growth.

In the study, they determined the optimum time required to produce the most uniform crystals of the CZTS semiconductor -- 18 minutes in the microwave oven -- and confirmed the material indeed was CZTS by using a variety of tests, such as X-ray crystallography, electron microscopy, atomic force microscopy and ultraviolet spectroscopy. They also built a small photovoltaic solar cell to confirm that the material works and demonstrate that smaller nanocrystals display "quantum confinement," a property that makes them versatile for different uses.

"It's not an easy material to make," Sarswat says. "There are a lot of unwanted compounds that can form if it is not made properly."

Sarswat says that compared with photovoltaic semiconductors that use highly toxic cadmium and arsenic, ingredients for CZTS photovoltaic material "are more environmentally friendly."

Free adds: "The materials used for this are much lower cost and much more available than alternatives," such as indium and gallium often used in semiconductors.

Making an Old Material More Quickly

Swiss researchers first invented CZTS in 1967 using another method. Other researchers discovered in 1998 that it could serve as a photovoltaic material. But until recently, "people haven't explored this material very much," Sarswat says. CZTS belongs to a family of materials named quaternary chalcogenides.

Without knowing it at first, Free and Sarswat have been in a race to develop the microwave method of making CZTS with a group of researchers at Oregon State University. Sarswat synthesized the material using microwaves in 2011. Free and Sarswat filed an invention disclosure on their method in January 2012, but the other group beat them into print with a study published in August 2012.

The method developed by Sarswat and Free has some unique features, including different "precursor" chemicals (acetate salts instead of chloride salts) used to start the process of making CZTS and a different solvent (oleylamine instead of ethylene glycol.)

Sarswat says many organic compounds are synthesized with microwaves, and Free notes microwaves sometimes are used in metallurgy to extract metal from ore for analysis. They say using microwaves to process materials is fast and often suppresses unwanted chemical "side reactions," resulting in higher yields of the desired materials.

CZTS previously was made using various methods, but many took multiple steps and four to five hours to make a thin film of the material, known technically as a "p-type photovoltaic absorber," which is the active layer in a solar cell to convert sunlight to electricity.

A more recent method known as "colloidal synthesis" -- preparing the crystals as a suspension or "colloid" in a liquid by heating the ingredients in a large flask -- reduced preparation time to 45 to 90 minutes.

Sarswat decided to try microwave production of CZTS when the University of Utah's Department of Metallurgical Engineering decided to get a new microwave oven for the kitchen where students heat up their lunches and make coffee.

"Our department secretary had a microwave to throw away," so Sarswat says he took it to replace one that had recently burned up during other lab experiments.

"The bottom line is you can use just a simple microwave oven to make the CZTS semiconductor," Free says, adding: "Don't do it at home. You have to be cautious when using these kinds of materials in a microwave."

By controlling how long they microwave the ingredients, the metallurgists could control the size of the resulting nanocrystals and thus their possible uses. Formation of CZTS began after 8 minutes in the microwave, but the researchers found they came out most uniform in size after 18 minutes.

Uses for a Microwaved Semiconductor

To make CZTS, salts of the metals are dissolved in a solvent and then heated in a microwave, forming an "ink" containing suspended CZTS nanocrystals. The "ink" then can be painted onto a surface and combined with other coatings to form a solar cell.

"This [CZTS] is the filling that is the heart of solar cells," says Free. "It is the absorber layer -- the active layer -- of the solar cell."

He says the easy-to-make CZTS photovoltaic semiconductor can be used in more efficient, multilayer solar cell designs. In addition, CZTS has other potential uses, according to Sarswat and Free:

-- Theromoelectric conversion of heat to electricity, including waste heat from automobiles and industry, or perhaps heat from the ground to power a military camp.

-- Biosensors, made by painting the nanocrystal "ink" onto a surface and sensitizing the crystals with an organic molecule that allows them to detect small electrical currents that are created when an enzyme in the body becomes active. These biosensors may play a role in future tests to help diagnose cardiovascular disease, diabetes and kidney disease, Sarswat says.

-- As circuit components in a wide variety of electronics, include devices to convert heat to electricity.

-- To use solar energy to break down water to produce hydrogen for fuel cells.

The microwave method produced crystals ranging from 3 nanometers to 20 nanometers in size, and the optimum sought by researchers was between 7 nanometers and 12 nanometers, depending on the intended use for the crystals. A nanometer is one-billionth of a meter, or roughly one 25-millionth of an inch.

Larger crystals of CZTS make a good photovoltaic material. Sarswat says the study also demonstrated that smaller crystals of CZTS -- those smaller than 5 nanometers -- have what is called "quantum confinement," a change in a material's optical and electronic properties when the crystals becomes sufficiently small.

Quantum confinement means the nanocrystals can be "tuned" to emit light of specific, making such material potentially useful for a wide variety of uses, including more efficient LEDs or light-emitting diodes for lighting. Materials with quantum confinement are versatile because they have a "tunable bandgap," an adjustable amount of energy required to activate a material to emit light or electricity.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/05/130506094906.htm

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« Reply #8427 on: May 6th, 2013, 09:25am »

Washington Post

U.S. official: Benghazi assault appeared to be ‘terrorist attack from the get-go’

6 May 2013

By Sean Sullivan and Anne Gearan,

The deputy chief of mission at the U.S. Embassy in Libya during a 2012 attack on a diplomatic outpost in Benghazi told investigators he thought it was a terrorist strike from the beginning, according to interview excerpts released Sunday on CBS News’s “Face the Nation.”

“I thought it was a terrorist attack from the get-go. I think everybody in the mission thought it was a terrorist attack from the beginning,” Gregory Hicks said in an interview with investigators shared with “Face the Nation.” The excerpt was one of several host Bob Schieffer revealed on the program.

Hicks is one of the witnesses called to testify this week before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform about the Sept. 11, 2012, attack that killed Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three other Americans.

Shortly after the attack, U.N. Ambassador Susan E. Rice characterized the assault as a spontaneous attack. The Obama administration later said it was an act of terrorism.

“Clearly, there was a political decision to say something different than what was reasonable to say,” House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) said on “Face the Nation.”

According to the excerpts of his interview with investigators, Hicks said that the morning after Rice’s Sunday show appearances he called Acting Assistant Secretary for Near Eastern Affairs Elizabeth Jones to ask why Rice had said that. Hicks said Jones told him she didn’t know.

This week’s hearing is expected to focus on claims in a Republican committee report that the State Department massaged public statements about the attack to eliminate or play down the likelihood of a terrorist connection.

That long-standing GOP claim may be better supported by documents the committee reviewed in recent months that chart the changes in language over several days following the attack.

Republicans are also focusing on the scope and mandate of an independent review of the attack by a panel appointed by the State Department amid accusations that potential witnesses were excluded from the review.

State Department spokesman Patrick Ventrell said that the review was comprehensive and that decisions about whom to interview were made by the outside review board, not the department.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/us-official-benghazi-assault-appeared-to-be-terrorist-attack-from-the-get-go/2013/05/05/6ed1a16a-b5b0-11e2-b94c-b684dda07add_story.html?hpid=z3

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« Reply #8428 on: May 6th, 2013, 09:33am »

Telegraph

Scottish island goes on the market with £2.5 million price tag

An island off the north coast of Scotland that is home to only two people and issues its own set of postage stamps has been put up for sale for £2.5 million.

By Alice Philipson and agencies
3:42PM BST 05 May 2013

Tanera Mor lies 1.5 miles off the north west coast of Scotland and is the largest and only inhabited island in the Summer Isles archipelago.

It has just nine residential properties, a café, a post office and three jetties.

The 800 acre island is currently managed by Lizzie and Richard Williams, who took it on from Mrs Williams' family, the Wilders.

The Wilders bought the island in 1996 after selling their dairy farm in Wiltshire.

Mrs Williams said it is time to give someone else the ''privilege of looking after the amazing place''.

Talks with the local community over a buy-out were held but it has now been put on the open market after the Coigach Community Development Company decided not to pursue the sale.

Mrs Williams said: ''After many happy years of calling Tanera home, it is time for someone else to have the privilege of looking after this amazing place.

''We greatly appreciate the effort made by the local Coigach community to consider the opportunity of taking on Tanera and we fully understand their reasons for deciding not to. We hope that whoever owns the island in the future will enjoy the same warm and cooperative relationship with the community that we have for the past 17 years.''

Estate agents CKD Galbraith are now handling the sale and said the community group welcomed the opportunity to buy the island but are currently working on renewable energy projects.

CKD described Tanera Mor as a ''flourishing tourist enterprise and superb family residence'', with a guide price of £2.5 million.

John Bound, of CKD Galbraith, said: ''The chance to own your own Scottish island is extremely rare and with Tanera Mrr's thriving tourist enterprise coupled with being a truly spectacular place to live, we expect to receive a lot of interest as it goes on the open market.

''With ongoing support and commitment from the local Coigach community, Tanera Mrr offers a truly fantastic prospect for interested parties who will very much have the island's heritage and sustainability at heart as well as a fantastic lifestyle.''

The island inspired the book Island Farm by Frank Fraser Darling who lived in Tanera Mor in the late 1930s and studied the habitat of its bird colonies.

Locals on the nearby mainland recently decided they could not take on the job of repopulating the island. Residents at Achiltibuie in Wester Ross had been in talks with the island's owners about a community buy-out that could have seen a number of people move on to the island.

But a public meeting in February decided that the buy-out was too much for them to take on.

Local interest group Coigach Community Development Company had been given the first opportunity to buy the island on behalf of residents.

It was one of the most unusual community buyouts ever proposed – with residents moving "offshore."

In 1881, there were no fewer than 118 people living on Tanera Mor, all of whom had left in 1931. Permanent habitation has been intermittent since then.

The Wilders passed the title of Tanera Mor on to their three offspring – Jack, Harry and Lizzie – in 2010.

Now that all three siblings have their own young families they took the decision to put it on the open market.

Tanera Mòr is a flourishing tourist enterprise and "superb family residence." The principal house – The Old School House – boasts breathtaking views over the sheltered Anchorage and magnificent mountains of the mainland.

Over the past 15 years the Wilder family have undertaken a woodland regeneration project, planting over 164,000 native trees. This combined with the use of selective livestock grazing has created lush green pockets across the island, encouraging wildlife to thrive.

The established holiday letting business, comprising six properties – with the potential to add a further two properties – has been expanded in recent years to include residential creative and active courses. In addition there is a Royal Yachting Association recognised sailing school which operates throughout the summer months.

The Café and Post Office operate from a former boathouse and are open for seasonal daily visits by tourist boats from Ullapool and Achiltibuie as well as cruise boats, yachts and sea kayakers. The Summer Isles Post Office located on Tanera Mòr is notable for issuing its own postage stamps since 1970, with this year's new edition released on Thursday (May 9).

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/howaboutthat/10039205/Scottish-island-goes-on-the-market-with-2.5-million-price-tag.html

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« Reply #8429 on: May 6th, 2013, 09:37am »






Published on May 5, 2013

Gary Heseltine Testifies about Police and UFO Incidents in England and around the globe

Citizen Hearing on Disclosure
May 1, 2013

~

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