Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Last Call

Scientists at MIT's Media Lab have used old school technology -- a camera and mirrors -- to capture and piece together a "super slo-mo" movie of a single photon pulse moving at the speed of light.

MIT’s Camera Culture Group whipped up a “virtual slow-motion camera” that is an array of 500 sensors each triggered at a trillionth-of-a second delay.

The assembly, which cost $250,000, was created using a streak camera, a rotating mirror, several other mirrors, a pulsing laser and a series of algorithms to stitch together the streak camera’s still, one dimensional snapshots of the photon moving down the bottle.

A streak camera has an aperture that’s just a narrow slit, as opposed to the wide, circular aperture found in most consumer and professional cameras.

Streak cameras have been around since the 1970s, when they were created to record the movement of particles. But they are based on the high-speed rotating drum cameras of the 1930s, which recorded transient phenomena by imprinting “streaks” of reflected light onto film, as streak camera company Hamamatsu explains.

Still, the use of computer technology and lasers that weren’t around in the 1930s has lead MIT to the eye-popping (literally) breakthrough of today.

“Such a camera may be useful in medical imaging, industrial or scientific use, and the future, even for consumer photography,” said Media Lab Associate Professor Ramesh Raskar in the video, “In medical imaging, now we can do ultrasound with light, because one we can analyze how light will scatter volumetrically within the body.”

Plus, it's pretty damn cool to watch in action.  The applications of this are pretty impressive, as the scientists explain.  I'm not sure how long it will take to get machines that can use this technology to image people and structures, but it'll happen in my lifetime for sure.

Very awesome.

Trump Dumps Chumps, Takes Lumps

The Ultimate Iowa Lightning Round Edition of the GOP Clown Car Debate Show has been shelved as The Donald takes the rodent on his head and goes home.

Donald Trump announced Tuesday that he will not moderate next month's GOP debate sponsored by Newsmax.

The reality televison show host's decision came after most Republican presidential candidates declined to participate in the debate, with only Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum agreeing to appear.

Trump said in his statement that Republicans were reluctant to appear at the debate because he was unwilling to rule out an Independent bid for the presidency.

"It is very important to me that the right Republican candidate be chosen to defeat the failed and very destructive Obama administration, but if that Republican, in my opinion, is not the right candidate, I am not willing to give up my right to run as an Independent candidate," Trump said in a statement. "Therefore, so that there is no conflict of interest within the Republican Party, I have decided not to be the moderator of the Newsmax debate."

But Trump could continue to play a role in the coming primary battle, promising to name his choice for the GOP nomination.

"I am going to be announcing an endorsement in some time," Trump said to Fox Business.

They're all afraid that The Donald might run.  Hell, if I'm a GOP strategist, I'm terrified of a third-party Trump run.  It's a guaranteed Obama second-term.   They know it.  Trump's debate was something of a shakedown, the GOP called him on it, and now we'll see if Trump is willing to lose millions more of his own money in an independent run.

His ego is that big, but I don't know if his checkbook is.  But there's a reason why Team Obama wants as much GOP primary drama as possible.

Another Milepost On The Road To Oblivion

Hey look, in completely unsurprising news Dick Cheney wants to bomb Iran.

Former Vice President Dick Cheney said on Monday that President Barack Obama should have ordered an “air strike” on Iran after they recently captured a U.S. drone.

Earlier on Monday, President Barack Obama had explained that U.S. officials asked Iran to return the RQ-170 Sentinel surveillance drone.

“The right response to that would have been to go in immediately after it had gone down and destroy it,” Cheney told CNN’s Erin Burnett. “You can do that from the air. You can do that with a quick air strike, and in effect make it impossible for them to benefit from having captured that drone.”

“I was told that the president had three options on his desk. He rejected all of them,” the former vice president added.

“They all involved sending somebody in to try to recover it, or if you can’t do that, admittedly that would be a difficult operation, you certainly could have gone in and destroyed it on the ground with an air strike.”

And of course when we destroyed the drone by air, we'd also have to go in and make sure that the Iranians didn't get any intel out of the explosion, so we'd have to send in troops, and of course we'd need air power to cover the troops, and naval backup to support the air power, and by accidentally leveling a couple thousand square miles of Iran along with that drone as unavoidable collateral damage,  we'd be at war and stuff.  No big deal.

Happens all the time.

Also, I guess without the soul, Dick Cheney has lost some weight.

Woman Beheaded For Practicing Witchcraft

I really thought even these guys were better than this.  I was wrong.

(CNN) -- A woman was beheaded in Saudi Arabia for practicing witchcraft and sorcery, the kingdom's Interior Ministry said, prompting Amnesty International to call for a halt in executions there.

Amina bint Abdel Halim Nassar was executed Monday for having "committed the practice of witchcraft and sorcery," according to an Interior Ministry statement. Nassar was investigated before her arrest and was "convicted of what she was accused of based on the law," the statement said. Her beheading took place in the Qariyat province of the region of Al-Jawf, the ministry said.

In a statement issued late Monday, the human rights group called the execution "deeply shocking" and said it "highlights the urgent need for a halt in executions in Saudi Arabia."

"While we don't know the details of the acts which the authorities accused Amina of committing, the charge of sorcery has often been used in Saudi Arabia to punish people, generally after unfair trials, for exercising their right to freedom of speech or religion," said Philip Luther, Amnesty International's interim director of the Middle East and North Africa Programme.
She was supposedly selling potions for around $400 a bottle.  Due process is a joke, so any evidence could be fabricated or misplaced as they find convenient.  Regardless, a woman died and nobody is quite sure why.  Maybe all she did was show her face, or speak her mind.  We'll never know.  A search found books about sorcery and talismans, but any chance she had to explain is gone.  For all we know she collected or inherited some of those scary books.

Selfish? I Don't Think So!

I don't have kids, but I have spent most of my adult life taking care of someone's children ranging from live-in caretaker to weekend help.  I have seen moms run themselves into exhaustion thinking it was the only way to take care of their families.  Moms face incredible pressure to make everything run smoothly, even if it means they get no personal time or pleasure that is theirs alone.

That expectation has to stop.  So does teaching women that if you dare take time for yourself it is coming at the direct expense of someone else "more worthy" of the efforts.  The key is balance, not to overreact or throw a wrench in the works.  Every person is entitled to pursuit of happiness, and with a little planning everyone can benefit.  Please take heart from the snippet below, and click here to read the entire article.

I'm not judging moms that can do it all with little-to-no downtime. They are my heroes! I'm just not built that way. I did not acquire the selfless motherhood gene. I think my mom got it but failed to pass it onto me. Instead, I informed my husband, children, friends and family (anyone that pretended to listen) that I was changing my life (and by default theirs). I didn't have it all figured out in the beginning. I didn't know what type of self-care I really needed. I had to learn what boundary-setting meant and all of the rules of engagement when applying boundaries to people who prefer things to be as they were. I had to discover my voice and learn to value hearing myself think.

In the beginning, my husband supported me with gifts to the day spa and weekly consistent "Me Time." The consistent time alone allowed me to plan opportunities to include my self-care in the family schedule. (Yes, my self-care was on the same schedule with soccer.) What I discovered was that I became consistent at honoring me, my interests, completing the books that I wanted to read, getting my exercise in and learning so much more about the "Me" in Mommy. My family was the direct benefactor of me taking time to reflex, refuel and renew consistently.

I know that some people who read this article might think -- this sounds selfish. What about your family, you might ask? What about their needs? What about quality time with them? Well, first I have to admit that I am selfish and I have accepted this choice because it has made me the type of mother that has taught my children that balance is defined as "a state of equilibrium or equipoise; equal distribution of weight, amount, etc."

Before self-care I had zero balance and I was tired, overwhelmed and exhausted most days. My family now has an opportunity to interact with a mom that is more connected, engaging, fulfilled and who has healthy outlets for stress. A survey for Mother's Day 2011 from Clinton Cards supports my feelings. Of the top 10 most-requested gifts, six of the 10 items involved self-care. Mothers are requesting a good nap, someone else to make dinner and clean up afterward, quality time with the family or significant other, and simply hearing their children write them a thoughtful note and say, "Thanks, Mom!"

It can be done. It should be done. And those who expect Mom/wife to carry the burden of making the machine run smooth, instead of flowers give the gift of attention and an overdue break.

Running Scared

Another chart for you this morning, this one from Gallup:

In your opinion, which of the following will be the biggest threat to the country in the future -- big business, big labor, or big government? 1965-2011 trend

Yep, after the banks all but destroyed our economy, America's distrust of Big Business is now back to 2007 pre-crisis levels, and fear of Big Government is back to near all time highs of the Clinton impeachment circus days. The post 9/11 recession and the collapse of Enron was far more damaging to the credibility of Big Business than the multi-trillion dollar credit swaps disaster that has us heading into year four of a prolonged middle-class depression.

Gosh, what's different about where people get their news today than it was back then?

Another Milepost On The Road To Oblivion

Media Matters catches FOX News in yet another "oops" moment that just happens to make the President look bad with this unemployment chart.

Check that last entry for November. It's marked 8.6%, but it's physically charted at the 9.0% level, strongly intimating that President Obama has done nothing for unemployment. Stupid reality and its liberal bias!

Showing that drop in unemployment correctly on that chart would you know, intimate that President Obama is actually doing something about lowering unemployment, and in the world of FOX's strict anti-Obama propaganda policies, we simply make a mistake.

PS, it's not the first time even this month that FOX News's graphics department has "made a mistake" and called last month's unemployment 9% when it was really 8.6%.

Fox unemployment graphic

And expect it to keep happening. There's an election coming.

StupidiNews! Oops Edition

The Marine Corps sent Purple Heart ornaments to folks who lost family members in the war.  A letter was written to the soldier as well.  An immediate apology and full acceptance of blame came in response to families who called. Out of 9,000 that were sent out, only about 1,500 were sent to the wrong families.  There isn't much else to say, all involved surely feel terrible.

Amazon is getting some really bad press after a move so bold you have to respect it even if it's evil.  If you went into a local bookstore and scanned a book and then purchased it at Amazon, you got 5% off.  It's dirty pool but it is inevitable that this war must happen.  Online shopping and retail stores have been fairly civil until now.  While "distasteful" according to the author of the article, it will eventually produce results the customers want and therefore will be successful.  The article also points out bookstores are lousy, inefficient and offer little outside of atmosphere.  That's mostly true, but I'm one of those people who likes to browse and flip through pages, and I can see the conflict between bare bones efficiency and the experience of wandering and the guilty pleasure of wandering the aisles and skimming with wild abandon.

Missouri discovers that at least seven prisoners were able to successfully collect unemployment benefits.  One guy tried and failed, which led to a new process that ran a check against prisoners.  Several inmates were successful, but will now have to pay the money back.  The total is estimated at $14,000.  They came thisclose to getting away with it too, if it hadn't been for those meddling kids.
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