Lack of Pirates causes Global Warming

I was bumming around the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster website, when I noticed a little graph depicting the relation between decreasing numbers of (non-IP) Pirates and increasing Global Temperature. This is an important piece of data that has been over looked in the Global Warming debate. I think an immediate government program to increase the number of pirates must be put into place!

In all seriousness, the graph is a nice and amusing way to illustrate how statistics can be used to show all sorts of nonsense, in ways that are believable to those without a clear understanding of the issue.

Narnia walks out of Trade Talks?

A Day Today-style story claimed the state of Narnia had walked out of the World Trade Organisation talks in Hong Kong because it was fed up with being bullied by the US and Europe.

The wind-up was posted on news wires on Sunday and stayed up for nearly an hour - long enough for it to be picked up by top business websites, including Forbes.com.



Intelligent Design Unconstitutional

Good news today: a federal judge in Pennsylvannia ruled that Dover school board's mandate that Intelligent Design be taught in biology classes is unconstitutional.

Judge Jones said said advocates of intelligent design "have bona fide and deeply held beliefs which drive their scholarly endeavors" and that he didn't believe the concept shouldn't be studied and discussed. But, he wrote, "our conclusion today is that it is unconstitutional to teach ID as an alternative to evolution in a public school science classroom
A PDF of the full ruling is at:


SpaceX tries again

SpaceX is poised to once again attempt the maiden flight of it's Falcon I rocket. Their first launch attempt in November was scrubbed after problems with an oxygen valve and a computer reset.
The first launch of any new rocket is one fraught with difficulties and unexpected problems, so its not surprising that they are taking a cautious approach. After spending $100 million in the development of the Falcon, a lot is riding on this launch.

The launch is scheduled to take place today at 2:00pm EST from Ronald Reagan Ballistic Missile Defense Test Site on Kawajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands.



I want one of these. I don't know what it is, or where to get one, but I want it.


Who needs transplants

Wired has a neat article up about Organ Printing, which is something I've been imagining for a long time. SF has focused on things like cloning and organ banks almost since its beginning, but I think it's something like organ prining and biomanufacturing that will be the key technology of the 21st century. Eventually, the technology might even mature to the point where entire bodies can be printed on demand, drastically extending the human lifespan. All without the need for silly things like islands full of replacement clones.

However, the technology is still a good 5-10 years from practical applications of even the simplest sort.

So far, they've made tubes similar to human blood vessels and sheets of heart muscle cells, printed in three dimensions on a special printer.

"I think this is going to be a biggie," said Glenn D. Prestwich, the University of Utah professor who developed the bio-paper. "A lot of things are going to be a pain in the butt to print, but I think we can do livers and kidneys as well."

Prestwich guessed initial human organ printing may be five or 10 years away.

The work started as a way to understand biological self-assembly -- such as how an embryo develops -- in the lab, Forgacs said.


I Heart BBSes

Reason.com has a nice article up remembering the humble BBS. I can remember spending many and hour in high school (before we got a real ISP) dialing into BBS to chat, download files, play games -- all of the things we do on the internet today, but at 2400 baud. And who can forget the beauty of ANSI art or calling your friend so his call waiting would kick his modem offline and you could sign on?

Peru v. Yale?

Even though Yale's had them for over 90 years, it looks like Peru has decided that artifacts from Inkan ruins should be returned. They're even going so far as to threaten a lawsuit according to the Yale Daily News:

Peru is planning to sue the University over Peruvian artifacts that have been in Yale's possession since the beginning of the 20th century, University General Counsel Dorothy Robinson said.

The artifacts, which were excavated from Machu Picchu between 1911 and 1914 by Hiram Bingham, class of 1898, include around 5,000 human remains and ceramics, according to the Associated Press. The status of the artifacts have been the subject of negotiations between the Peruvian government and Yale for three years, Robinson said.

"This is a well-publicized and well-known collection that's has been at Yale for 90 years," she said. "We have been interested in collaborating with the Peruvians to resolve this situation amicably in a way that would allow some of the objects to be displayed both at Yale and in Peru and make them available for study in both locations."
It's a shame that Peru feels it needs to take this step. The artifacts have been well cared for and preserved at Yale -- far better than Peru could have managed on its own. How this case goes could set an important precedent, considering how many museums around the world contain materials taken during the 19th century or earlier.