B12 Solipsism

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Archive for the ‘odd’ tag

Does Every Damn Thing Have to Be Connected To The Internet?

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Exc Corpse Notify
Exc Corpse Notify

Maybe the epithet is true, and I’m an analog kid after all, but count me out of connecting each and every item to the internet. I don’t see the need, nor the problem that needs this as a solution.

Let’s play a game. Which of the following is a real smartphone-connected product?

A) A bottle that tracks your H2O intake

B) A bowl that tracks your dog’s H2O intake

C) An umbrella that reminds you not to leave it behind

D) A tampon that reminds you when it is time for a change

 

It is actually a trick question. All four of these “smart” items have either been announced by startups or are already shipping.

(click here to continue reading Smart Tampon? The Internet of Every Single Thing Must Be Stopped – WSJ.)

You Be the Electronic Man!
You Be the Electronic Man!

especially since so few of these devices work as promised, or have software bugs, or are poorly engineered, or whatever:

There is even greater irony: Instead of solving the hassles of everyday life, they create more of them. I’ve been testing many products that simply don’t work as promised. It is time potential buyers wised up to the Internet of Every Single Thing. Until the hardware improves and the ideas get more practical, it is buyer beware.

My egg tray doesn’t like my Wi-Fi network. That may sound like a Mad Lib, but I’m serious. It took me 15 minutes to correctly pair Quirky’s $15 Egg Minder with the iPhone app, which gives you a count of remaining eggs. Yet when I removed eggs from the tray to make breakfast, one of them remained virtually present. I guess you could say the app was… scrambled.

I washed down that delicious breakfast with nearly 15 ounces of water. But it happened to be one of the times the Hidrate Spark water bottle didn’t record it. What a waste of hydration! Later in the day at spinning class, my OMSignal smart bra only recorded half of my 45-minute workout. Because the fit of my preproduction bra wasn’t perfect, the sensors in the fabric didn’t always pick up my heart rate.

(click here to continue reading Smart Tampon? The Internet of Every Single Thing Must Be Stopped – WSJ.)

I wouldn’t even want my vaporizer to have connectivity:

The Firefly2 syncs via Bluetooth to a smartphone app that lets users control the heat settings and get firmware updates. 

This might sound excessive, but it means customers won’t have to buy the newest model to get new software. The most recent update just reduced app bugs, though Williams says in the future, users may be able to select optimum settings for the material in use (such as temperature-specific tobacco, concentrates, and marijuana).

 

(click here to continue reading A former Apple designer has created the iPhone of vaporizers.)

Written by Seth Anderson

May 25th, 2016 at 6:24 pm

Posted in News-esque

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You Can Now Pay Someone to Name Your Baby

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Stop The Witchcraft
Stop The Witchcraft

Names are power, but still, paying someone $30,000 to come up with a name seems excessive. What happened to randomly opening a dictionary? Or a Bible?

Professional services have popped up in the U.S. and Europe to aid parents with naming their children for a fee. Last year, Marc Hauser, who runs the Switzerland-based naming agency Erfolgswelle, went from solely serving brands to also branding children. His firm charges over $29,000 for every baby it names, devoting two to three weeks and around 100 hours of work to the process. Though Hauser thinks that approaches rating baby names strictly by data (and not emotion) are “overrated,” his firm does check to ensure that a baby name has not already been trademarked. “Even when it’s a little close to an existing brand name, it will not survive,” he said. Historians also vet the name to ensure it goes not have “an aggravating past.” Hauser admits that his own first name, Marc, would never make the cut at his firm because it’s connected to the name of an ancient Roman god of war.

Sherri Suzanne, who runs My Name for Life in New York, said her services begin at several hundred dollars. She spends around 30 hours on a single name report. 

Baby-naming experts have been around since long before Western specialists started marketing the service to nervous parents with high disposable incomes. In South Korea and India, for example, spiritual leaders can offer advice on what to name a child by reviewing scripture, astrology, and local culture. Just as with a wedding, a donation is offered to the spiritual leader in exchange for the service. In some cases, the baby is not named until after it has been born. “A shaman came over to our place and did a ceremony when I was a couple weeks old,” said Seung Lee, a 23-year old San Francisco resident who was named through this process in South Korea. “The shaman gave a couple names for us to mull over.” While the practice is not entirely common, it’s important to those who participate, said Lee.

Some experts recommend a more data-driven route. “I’ve seen parents do just incredible things with their poor children’s names because they were creative and thought they were going to be unique,” Mehrabian said. “If you are getting somebody who really knows the evidence, then I’ll say it’s worth every penny, whether its $500 or $5,000. Believe me, you don’t want to name a child with an unattractive name and have them go through life and suffer the consequences.”

(click here to continue reading You Can Now Pay Someone to Name Your Baby – Bloomberg.)

Written by Seth Anderson

May 18th, 2016 at 10:38 am

Posted in News-esque

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Neanderthals Still Roam The Ranks of The Police

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Sheriff's Line Do Not Cross
Sheriff’s Rape Line Do Not Cross…

If I lived in Idaho, I’d try to get this guy fired; since I don’t, at least Craig Rowland’s retrograde and reprehensible beliefs can be made public for future Google searches…

An Idaho sheriff says the Legislature shouldn’t have gotten involved in creating a statewide system for collecting and tracking rape kits because many rape accusations are false.

The state lawmaker who introduced the bill immediately denounced the comments.

Bingham County Sheriff Craig Rowland made the comments Monday to Idaho Falls TV station KIDK before lawmakers unanimously approved the new system and sent the measure to the governor.

Rowland said legislators should let law officers decide which rape kits need testing, the system that is currently in place.

He said: “The majority of our rapes — not to say that we don’t have rapes, we do — but the majority of our rapes that are called in are actually consensual sex.”

Such claims are part of a larger problem of law enforcement harboring unfair skepticism of victims of rape more so than other crimes

Rep. Melissa Wintrow, a Democrat from Boise who introduced the bill, said the sheriff’s remarks were harmful to women.

“Many times people are focused on a woman’s behavior, and the victim’s response,” she said, “when we should be thinking about what are we teaching men in this society. What are we teaching young boys and men about how we should not initiate or cross any physical boundary without consent.”

She pointed to FBI statistics that show only 33 percent of all rape victims report the crime.

(click here to continue reading Rape kit system unnecessary since most accusations false, Idaho sheriff says | OregonLive.com.)

Written by Seth Anderson

May 18th, 2016 at 10:33 am

Posted in crime

Tagged with , , ,

The Rabbis Are Here to Inspect the (Legal) Weed

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Kosher cannabis? Why not? Every company wants a competitive advantage, a way to stand out in a crowded marketplace that is rapidly becoming more crowded. But being certified kosher is more complex to verify than I thought…

Truck full of Cannabis
Truck full of Cannabis

JOHNSTOWN, N.Y. — The rabbis had never inspected a medical marijuana plant before.

They had arrived here at Vireo Health of New York’s plant, about an hour northwest of Albany, looking for evidence that the company’s products merited kosher certification. They would eventually give their approval, but not before asking some tough questions, beginning in the room where row after row of plants hung upside down to dry.

“This is where they start getting worried,” recalled Ari Hoffnung, the company’s chief executive, because the kosher rules they were most focused on apply after a plant is dried.

Vireo, a subsidiary of Vireo Health, is one of at least two companies aiming to sell kosher medical marijuana products like tinctures or cannabis oil. The Orthodox Union, one of the United States’ most prominent Jewish groups, gave its first medical marijuana certification to Vireo in January. Another company, Cresco Labs in Illinois, is in the final stages of getting certified from a local rabbinical organization.

Smoking marijuana by itself isn’t an issue — at least not from a kosher dietary standpoint — since the rules are intended for food and drinks. Products ingested in some way, on the other hand, are another story.

Ingredients must not come into contact with forbidden foods, like pigs or insects, and the restrictions extend all the way down the supply chain.

Every ingredient in a marijuana brownie, for example, needs to be kosher. The leaves, if eaten, would need to come from a bug-free plant. Marijuana gelcaps cannot be made out of pig gelatin. There are also rules for the equipment that processes kosher food. Vireo’s products that have been certified by the Orthodox Union can have the recognizable “OU” stamp on their packaging, and must submit to periodic inspections from the group’s rabbis.

“We literally took them through every square inch of the facility,” said David Ellis, the executive vice president of operations at Cresco Labs. The Chicago Rabbinical Council visited Cresco in March and said it was in the final stages of issuing a kosher certification that will cover everything from chocolate bars to concentrates.

Representatives of the Orthodox Union and the Chicago Rabbinical Council, which inspected Cresco, said that the idea of kosher medical marijuana had stirred much internal debate, and that they would certify only medical marijuana and not products intended for the recreational market.

Deciding to go forward with the certification process “wasn’t an easy decision,” said Rabbi Moshe Elefant, the chief operating officer at the Orthodox Union’s kosher division.

But Rabbi Sholem Fishbane, the administrator of kosher laws for the Chicago Rabbinical Council, said he now expected to get more calls.

“What I thought would be, you know, maybe I’ll call it an amusing afternoon,” he said about the inspection, “really turned out to be a lot of lessons of Kosher 101.”

(click here to continue reading The Rabbis Are Here to Inspect the (Legal) Weed – The New York Times.)

The Green Doctors Are In
The Green Doctors Are In

Written by Seth Anderson

May 11th, 2016 at 10:14 am

Budweiser Naming Itself ‘America’, America Rolls Its Eyes

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Really, A-B InBev?

Ernie's Old Time Saloon

Ernie’s Old Time Saloon, Sitka, Alaska…

Budweiser…  brand has sought approval for new labels that replace the Budweiser name with “America,” according to a filing with the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau. The labels don’t stop there. They include phrases such as “E Pluribus Unum” and “from the redwood forest to the Gulf stream waters this land was made for you and me,” as well as “indivisible since 1776.”

A-B InBev on Tuesday, May 10, confirmed the limited-edition label change, saying “America” would replace “Budweiser” on the front of 12-oz. cans and bottles. The packaging will run from May 23 through election season in November, the brewer stated. The agency that handled the design change is Jones Knowles Ritchie, New York. The packaging will be accompanied by a summer-long campaign called “America is in Your Hands.” A national TV spot featuring the cans and bottles will premiere on June 1.

 

(click here to continue reading A-B InBev Looks to Replace Budweiser With ‘America’ on Packs | CMO Strategy – AdAge.)

Honestly, this makes me laugh more than anything I’ve read recently. Maybe I’m not the target demographic, no, not maybe, definitively. Even when I was a young, beer swilling college student without much money, I still didn’t drink Budweiser. Mind you, this was back in the dark ages before the craft beer explosion – which meant if a bunch of us went on a camping trip, or had a party, we’d scrounge together enough money to purchase Shiner Bock, or if we couldn’t swing that, we would buy a case of Carling Black Label, or Stroh’s, or Lone Star, something like that, or frequently, wine. I honestly cannot think of a single time when I had a choice of beverage that I chose Bud. Maybe at some low rent sporting event? 

And also, Budweiser is made in massive factories, probably by robots, and is owned by Anheuser-Busch InBev SA/NV, a conglomerate headquartered in Leuven, Belgium. You know, MURICA! Whoo hoo!

Anheuser-Busch InBev SA/NV makes beers such as:

Budweiser, Corona and Stella Artois, international brands Beck’s, Hoegaarden and Leffe and local brands such as Bud Light, Skol, Brahma, Antarctica, Quilmes, Victoria, Modelo Especial, Michelob Ultra, Harbin, Sedrin, Klinskoye, Sibirskaya Korona, Chernigivske and Jupiler.

(click here to continue reading Anheuser-Busch InBev – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.)

and have annual revenues in the neighborhood of $50,000,000,000. So obviously, somebody drinks that swill. A lot of people apparently. But I wonder what percentage of their gross revenue goes to pay American taxes? I’m guessing they are in Belgium instead of St. Louis because the tax climate is friendlier there. 

If you are a Bud drinker, you aren’t really drinking it for its flavor, I’m assuming. Especially in light of:

After the November 18, 2008 InBev takeover, several cost-cutting measures were implemented that negatively affected the flavor of the beer. Whole rice grains were been replaced by broken ones, and the high quality Hallertauer Mittelfrüh hop was phased out. A former top AB InBev executive told BusinessWeek Magazine, in an article published on November 8, 2012, that the company had saved approximately $55 million a year by substituting cheaper hops in Budweiser and other U.S. beers

(click here to continue reading Budweiser – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.)

Anyway, I’m sure summer sales will be brisk, lots of ironic purchases of six packs that will sit in refrigerators around the nation, collecting dust…

Written by Seth Anderson

May 11th, 2016 at 9:24 am

Leftovers – Plate 2

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The best part of leftovers is filling up your plate again…

Frozen Head of Rhaegal
Frozen Head of Rhaegal

Founded in 1993 and headquartered in Evansville, Indiana, RodentPro.com® specializes in the production and distribution of premium quality frozen mice, rats, rabbits, guinea pigs, chickens and quail.  We are proud to include hobbyists, commercial reptile breeding facilities, raptor sanctuaries, and some of the nation’s largest and most respected zoos and aquariums among our broad spectrum of customers.

(click here to continue reading Online Store – Frozen Mice, Rats, Rabbits, Guinea Pigs – About Us.)

 Jeff is a Jew

Jeff is a Jew

Vanity Fair and a well written essay:

The author reflects on her lifelong role—above and below the Mason-Dixon Line—of being the only Jew in the room, and how an unexpected declaration by her daughter helped her reconstitute her identity. BY AMY FINE COLLINS

(click here to continue reading Jewish Like Me | Vanity Fair.)

I especially liked this paragraph, and plan to use it in the future1 :

My habitual muteness in these situations—a reflex of politeness, a journalist’s instinct to listen with a neutral ear, a female tendency to grant the other person the benefit of the doubt—doesn’t make me proud. At these moments—whether I’m “passing,” a fly on the wall, intentionally being provoked, or simply confronted with perplexing ignorance—I wish I had at my disposal the stun-gun comeback, the withering rejoinder that would silence the speaker, neutralize his words, force him to swallow even a micro-pellet of the poison that he is spewing my way.

If only I had this arrow in my quiver (and the balls to fire it) for my college friend’s D.A.R. mom and Fred Flintstone dad: When Clare Booth Luce, perhaps apocryphally, told a Jewish friend, “I’m so sick and tired of hearing about the Holocaust. Why can’t you people just get over it?” the Jewish lady replied, “I’m so sick and tired of hearing about the Crucifixion. Why can’t you people just get over it?”

Strong Sound Ideas - circa 1995
Strong Sound Ideas – circa 1995

I never use a hair dryer, mostly because I hate how loud they are…

“There has been zero innovation in this market for over 60 years,” said Mr. Dyson, 68, a billionaire who was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 2006.

“Millions of people use contraptions daily that are hideously inefficient, waste their time and are causing them long-term damage,” he said. “We realized that we could — and should — sort this situation out.”

He triumphantly held up what appeared to be a sleek black and pink plastic doughnut on a stick. “Four years, 100 odd patents and 600 prototypes later, I think we might have found the answer.”

Known as the Dyson Supersonic and unveiled in Tokyo on Wednesday, the device is his response to a question many never thought to ask: Is it possible to make a better hair dryer?

This may not seem like a big deal. A few burned scalps and frizz issues aside, people have been doing just fine with the standard hair dryer for decades. But, as Dai Fujiwara, a Japanese fashion designer who collaborated with Mr. Dyson on an Issey Miyake runway presentation, wrote in an email, “Because everyday life is too common, people rarely realize there is a problem.”

(click here to continue reading Dyson Wants to Create a Hair Dryer Revolution – The New York Times.)

Shit Fountain
Shit Fountain, literally.

Microbiome study is going to advance by leaps and bounds in the upcoming years. Here’s one tale from the front lines…

Human feces floated in saline solution in a mortar, on a marbled countertop, in a dimly lit kitchen in Burlingame, California. A bottle of ethyl alcohol, an electronic scale, test tubes, and a stack of well-worn pots and pans lay nearby. The stove light illuminated the area as Josiah Zayner crushed the shit with a pestle, creating a brownish-yellow sludge. “I think I can feel something hard in there,” he said, laughing. It was probably vegetables — “the body doesn’t break them down all the way.”

This heralded the beginning of Zayner’s bacterial makeover. He was clad in a Wu-Tang Clan T-shirt, jeans, and white socks and sandals. At his feet, James Baxter, Zayner’s one-eyed orange cat, rubbed its flank against its owner’s legs. The kitchen smelled like an outhouse in a busy campground.

Over the course of the next four days, Zayner would attempt to eradicate the trillions of microbes that lived on and inside his body — organisms that helped him digest food, produce vitamins and enzymes, and protected his body from other, more dangerous bacteria. Ruthlessly and methodically, he would try to render himself into a biological blank slate. Then, he would inoculate himself with a friend’s microbes — a procedure he refers to as a “microbiome transplant.” Zayner imagines the collection of organisms that live on him — his microbiome — as a suit. As such, it can be worn, mended, and replaced. The suit he was living with, he said, was faulty, leaving him with severe gastrointestinal pain. A new suit could solve all that. “You kind of are who you are, to a certain extent,” he said. “But with your bacteria, you can change that.”

A full bacterial overhaul like this had never been documented before — in fact, it may have been the first time it had ever been attempted. There was no evidence to suggest it would work, though there was a real risk it could make Zayner life-threateningly sick. That didn’t bother him.

(click here to continue reading A Bitter Pill | The Verge.)

Spectators in Ketchikan
Spectators in Ketchikan with sunglasses

Sadly, I couldn’t get this to work:

If you need reading glasses—and if you’re over about 40, you probably do—then the next couple of paragraphs will change your life. You’re about to find out how to read small type, in a pinch, without your glasses.

Maybe you’ve lost or broken your reading glasses. Or maybe you don’t feel like going upstairs to get them. Or maybe you’re naked in the shower, frantically trying read the bottles to see which one is shampoo.

Here’s the trick: Curl up your index finger, making a tiny hole. Hold it up to your dominant eye and peek through it.

Incredibly, you’ll discover that the small type you couldn’t read a moment ago is suddenly crystal clear! You can read the date on a penny, or the serial number on a product, or the instructions on a medicine bottle. It doesn’t matter if you’re nearsighted or farsighted.

(click here to continue reading Life Hack: Instant Reading Glasses – David Pogue.)

Your Choice
Your Choice?

Ted Cruz was almost nobody’s favorite:

[Ted Cruz] spoke out of both sides of his scowl, itching to be the voice of the common man but equally eager to demonstrate what a highfalutin, Harvard-trained intellect he possessed. He wed a populist message to a plummy vocabulary. And while the line separating smart and smart aleck isn’t all that thin or blurry, he never could stay on the winning side of it.

He wore cowboy boots, but his favorites are made of ostrich.

Two peacocks in a pod, he and Trump, and what ghastly plumage they showed on Tuesday.

Trump somehow saw fit to bring up a National Enquirer story linking Cruz’s father to the assassination of John F. Kennedy. Cruz exploded, branding Trump a “pathological liar” and “serial philanderer.” He also brought up an interview from many years ago in which Trump told Howard Stern that his effort to steer clear of sexually transmitted diseases was his “personal Vietnam.”

Where was this rant six months ago, when the Republican field was crowded and Cruz played footsie with Trump? Back then he was wagering that Trump would fade, and he wanted to be in a friendly position to inherit the billionaire’s supporters.

But by Tuesday, Trump was the main obstacle between Cruz and the Republican presidential nomination, and Cruz has just one true compass: his own advancement.

(click here to continue reading Ted Cruz’s Bitter End – The New York Times.)

You Look Amazing Today
You Look Amazing Today!

How mentally ill do you have to be to want to poison strangers via fresh produce? Damn…

A man accused of sprinkling mouse poison and hand cleaner on produce at several self-service food bars in Michigan grocery stores over the last two weeks has been arrested, the F.B.I. and local police said on Tuesday.

Images taken from surveillance video at a supermarket and published online by the F.B.I. showed the man carrying a red basket in a grocery store, walking past a display of avocados and down aisles.

The man was identified by members of the public and arrested by the agency and the Ann Arbor police, but his name had not been released as of early Wednesday.

The authorities said the man was suspected of contaminating food in several Ann Arbor grocery stores, including a Whole Foods Market, a Meijer and a Plum Market, over the last two weeks

(click here to continue reading Man Is Accused of Putting Poison on Food at Michigan Stores – The New York Times.)

AniMoog screenshot
AniMoog screenshot

I will probably purchase this app late one night, I already own Animoog, and it is fun to play with:

Moog Music has been known for producing some of the most popular synthesizers since the 70s— we reviewed a couple of the newer models in our Logic Pros series and noted that iPad/Mac synths still can’t quite capture the experience of even a $1,000 Moog. But today Moog is releasing its own iPad and iPhone version of its popular $10,000 Model 15, aiming to offer a similar experience in a $30 mobile app. 

Moog’s own techs helped program the app at the Moog Factory in Asheville, NC, according to the company, with the app both resembling the look and sound of the original 1970’s Model 15 hardware:

Each facet of the Moog Model 15 modular synthesizer has been meticulously recreated in this application to ensure the power and transcendent sound quality of each module remains intact. The character, harmonic complexity and mystique of the Moog Model 15s modules, from the legendary Moog 921–series oscillators and 904A Low Pass Filter, to the coveted 907 Fixed Filter Bank have been painstakingly preserved.

That means you’ll find both monophonic and 4-voice polyphonic modes with four controllers, and you can also pull up an on-screen keyboard in the traditional Moog style and layout, as well as a “1150 ribbon controller, 8-step sequencing arpeggiator and the award-winning Animoog keyboard with 22 built-in scales and polyphonic modulation capabilities.” Animoog is the company’s other very popular iOS app that it designed specifically for iPad and touchscreens. 

(click here to continue reading Moog brings its $10,000 Model 15 synth to iPad and iPhone w/ new $30 app | 9to5Mac.)

Footnotes:
  1. despite being only 1% Jewish, per DNA testing – I actually didn’t think I had any Jewish ancestors beyond Adam and Eve []

Written by Seth Anderson

May 5th, 2016 at 3:10 pm

Posted in Links

Tagged with , , , ,

A Few Odd Facts about Lee Oswald and Rafael Cruz

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Sphinx - Schoenhofen Pyramid Mausoleum
Sphinx – Schoenhofen Pyramid Mausoleum…

The 2016 Presidential Nomination race has been the weirdest of my lifetime, especially on the GOP side. Ben Carson angrily insisted he stabbed someone, claimed Egyptian pyramids were giant grain canisters, and yet he still led the polls for a while. And then there was Ted Cruz – a/k/a the Zodiac Killer, or who knows what…

3/4 of a Kennedy Trumps 1/2 a Reagan

3/4 of a Kennedy Trumps 1/2 a Reagan 

And there was the allegation that Ted Cruz’s religiously-insane former Cuban Communist father, Rafael Cruz was friends with Lee Harvey Oswald, and was photographed with Oswald in New Orleans before President John Kennedy’s assassination. 

Earlier this week, the National Enquirer published a groundbreaking investigation that would prove fatal to the Ted Cruz campaign: TED CRUZ FATHER LINKED TO JFK ASSASSINATION. But is any of it true? After an exhaustive investigation of our own, Gawker has concluded that, sure, why not!

The trouble really started yesterday when Donald Trump referenced the burgeoning conspiracy theory on Fox News. During an interview, the host brought up Rafael Cruz’s supposed influence over the evangelical community. Trump, a noted lover of both Philippians, countered with his own Christian credentials (read: Jerry Falwell Jr.). And then he said this:

And you know, his father was with Lee Harvey Oswald prior to Oswald being… you know—shot. I mean, the whole thing is ridiculous. What is this? And nobody even brings it up. They don’t even talk about it. And that was reported, and nobody talks about it.

… I mean, what was he doing with Lee Harvey Oswald shortly before the death? Before the shooting? It’s horrible.

The Fair Play for Cuba Committee was an American grassroots group for sympathizers of the Cuban revolution, with Oswald heading up the New Orleans branch. A branch that supposedly only consisted of two people—Oswald himself and a man named A.J. Hidell. Of course, A.J. Hidell was also probably just Lee Harvey Oswald again.

Which means, when it came time for Oswald to start handing out pamphlets in the summer of 1963, he needed to hire some people to get the word out. According to the Warren Commission report, that meant hiring two men (one of them Cuban, just like Rafael) out of the unemployment line for a bit of afternoon flyer work. One of the young men later provided testimony about his brief working relationship with Oswald, the other was never found.

According to records from Ancestry.com, Rafael did live in Dallas briefly in 1962 before moving to New Orleans. Now, here’s a photo from Dealey Plaza on the day of JFK’s assassination.

(click here to continue reading Why That Actually Could Be Rafael Cruz With Lee Harvey Oswald.)

Probably not true, but we’ll never know unless President Trump1 decides to waterboard Rafael Cruz to get the truth out. And even then we’ll never know:

In February 1967, FBI official W. A. Branigan told deputy FBI director William Sullivan that the mystery man remained unidentified after an “ex[h]austive investigation.” In the context of FBI director J. Edgar Hoover’s query about gaps in the investigation, this person was singled out as an individual associated with Oswald who could not be identified.

Lee Harvey Oswald and Rafael Cruz

 

 

The failure to investigate

By February 1967, New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison was investigating an alleged JFK conspiracy in New Orleans and the FBI and the CIA began to watch him closely.

In April 1967 CIA director Richard Helms sent out a worldwide memo seeking to identify critics of the Warren Commission as irrational and anti-American and claiming that the Agency had fully cooperated with the Commission. Last October, Politico reported that CIA historian David Robarge now acknowledges that the CIA did not cooperate with the Commission but rather foisted a supposedly “benign coverup” on JFK investigators.

In September 1967 the CIA’s Counterintelligence Staff, headed by James Angleton, set up a “Garrison Group” to monitor the New Orleans investigation. Angleton’s people never identified Oswald’s collaborator in handing out pro-Castro pamphlets either.

The Garrison Group was more concerned about preventing Garrison from identifying Cubans who had worked with the agency than it was about investigating Oswald’s Cuban contacts. One possible explanation:  George Joannides, undercover case officer for the CIA-funded Cuban Student Directorate in Miami in 1963, maintained a residence in New Orleans, according to sworn testimony of U.S. Attorney Ron Machen.

The bottom line

So while there is no reason to think that the man in the picture is Rafael Cruz,  the theoretical possibility cannot be eliminated, thanks to the government’s failure to thoroughly investigate JFK’s assassination. Once again the malfeasance (or incompetence) of the CIA and FBI has empowered a conspiracy theorist whose speculations serve to obscure, not clarify, the historical record.

(click here to continue reading JFKfactsThe facts about Lee Oswald and Rafael Cruz – JFKfacts.)

Footnotes:
  1. godz forbid []

Written by Seth Anderson

May 4th, 2016 at 10:50 pm

Posted in politics

Tagged with , , , ,

Weird Wednesday – Part One – First Human Head Transplant

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The editor of this sucky blog1 has assigned Wednesday’s topic as Weird. Weird would include items such as you might encounter in Chuck Shepherd’s seminal News of the Weird, or on a late-night comedy show, or similar. The universe is a wild and wacky place, and not everything is beige, focus-tested, and lifeless.

Voivode of Pilsen
Voivode of Pilsen…

Anyway, a couple of days ago, I read about a doctor about to perform the first ever head transplant:

Three years ago, [Dr. Sergio] Canavero, now 51, had his own Dr. Strange moment when he announced he’d be able to do a human head transplant in a two-part procedure he dubs HEAVEN (head anastomosis venture) and Gemini (the subsequent spinal cord fusion). Valery Spiridonov, a 31-year-old Russian program manager in the software development field, soon emerged from the internet ether to volunteer his noggin. He suffers from Werdnig-Hoffman disease, a muscle-wasting disorder, and is desperate.

Canavero has a plan, delineated in a June 2013 paper in the peer-reviewed journal Surgical Neurology International and presented in 2015 as the keynote address of the American Academy of Neurological and Orthopaedic Surgeons’s 39th annual conference. It’s a 36-hour, $20 million procedure involving at least 150 people, including doctors, nurses, technicians, psychologists and virtual reality engineers.

In a specially equipped hospital suite, two surgical teams will work simultaneously—one focused on Spiridonov and the other on the donor’s body, selected from a brain-dead patient and matched with the Russian for height, build and immunotype. Both patients—anesthetized and outfitted with breathing tubes—will have their heads locked using metal pins and clamps, and electrodes will be attached to their bodies to monitor brain and heart activity.

Next, Spiridonov’s head will be nearly frozen, ultimately reaching 12 to 15 degrees Celsius, which will make him temporarily brain-dead.Doctors will then drain his brain of blood and flush it with a standard surgery solution. A vascular surgeon will loop sleeve-like tubes made of Silastic (a silicone-plastic combination) around the carotid arteries and jugular veins; these tubes will be tightened to stop blood flow and later loosened to allow circulation when the head and new body are connected. Then the two teams, working in concert, will make deep incisions around each patient’s neck and use color-coded markings to note all the muscles in both Spiridonov’s head and that of the donor, to facilitate the reconnection.

Next comes the most critical step of all. Under an operating microscope, doctors will cleanly chop through both spinal cords—with a $200,000 diamond nanoblade, so thin that it is measured in angstroms, provided by the University of Texas.

Then the rush is on: Once sliced, Spiridonov’s head will have to be attached to the donor’s body and connected to the blood flow within an hour. (When the head is transferred, the main vessels will be clamped to prevent air from causing a blockage.) Surgeons will quickly sew the arteries and veins of Spiridonov’s head to those of his new body. The donor’s blood flow will then, in theory, re-warm Spiridonov’s head to normal temperatures within minutes.

If all that goes as planned, Canavero can then make good on his Dr. Strange inspiration with Gemini. The lengths of the transected spinal cord stumps will be adjusted so they’re even, and the myelinated axons, the spaghetti-like parts of nerve cells, will be fused using a special type of glue made of polyethylene glycol, an inorganic polymer that Canavero says is the procedure’s true magical elixir.

In this way, spinal cord function will be established by enabling the cytoplasm of adjacent cells to mix together.Then it’s time to make sure the spinal fusion is secure with a few loose sutures applied around the joined cord and threaded through the thin membrane surrounding the brain and spinal cord.  

To finish securing Spiridonov’s head, the previously exposed vertebral arteries of the donor and Spiridonov will also be linked to achieve proper blood flow. In addition, the dura, the tough outermost membrane covering the brain and spinal cord, will be sewn watertight with wires and clamps. Doctors will similarly reconnect the trachea, esophagus, vagi and phrenic nerves, along with all of the severed muscles, and plastic surgeons will sew the skin for optimal cosmetic results.

Throughout, doctors will ensure a suppressed immune system through medication, and after the transplant, doctors will regularly screen Spiridonov’s blood for anti-donor antibodies while he lies in a drug-induced coma for four weeks to allow his brain to recover. During that time, doctors will electrically stimulate the spinal cord to promote communication between neurons and improve Spiridonov’s motor and sensory functions.

(click here to continue reading Doctor Ready to Perform First Human Head Transplant.)

Tall statue aka Our Onion-headed Overlords
Our Onion-headed Overlords

Doubters and naysayers don’t believe the operation will be possible, or even attempted, but science is always about exploring the edges of human knowledge, with plenty of failures along the way.

I see a few possible outcomes to the surgery.

  1. The patient dies during surgery. Dr. Canavero will learn from the experience and try again later.
  2. The surgery seems successful, but the patient never wakes up from the induced coma. Again, something can be learned from the experience, and applied to future surgeries.
  3. The patient wakes up: but who is he? The brain and human consciousness are not totally understood. Will the patient be able to wiggle his fingers? Walk? Talk? Speak Russian? Write C++ code? Did you know that the stomach contains serotonin receptors (5HT receptors)? Maybe these brain-stomach connectors are more important to consciousness than we know and the patient will retain some fragments of the other person’s body? Memories? Emotions? Who knows? 

El Ray - Giant Olmec Head
El Ray – Giant Olmec Head

The surgery is scheduled for 2017, I assume we’ll hear about the successes or failure. Will there be a Frankenstein monster? Or just another step towards Ray Kurzweil’s 2020 goals for humanity?

Footnotes:
  1. me, though if you have some free time, I’d like to have your help, proofreading and what not []

Written by Seth Anderson

May 4th, 2016 at 9:05 am

Posted in science

Tagged with , ,

One too many mornings

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And a thousand miles behind.

As you’ve probably already heard, Bob Dylan was recently picked up by a young police officer who had no idea who Bob Dylan was, and found his story of playing a concert later with Willie Nelson and John Mellencamp implausible, at best.

Exit, Zimmerman
The police officer noted that the gentleman looked nothing like the Bob Dylan she had seen photos of, like this iconic shot from his Wild Mercury days…

Instead he looked more like this:

Dylan 2006.jpg
[Photo by Rich Corzatt]

To police in a New Jersey seaside town, the rock legend Bob Dylan was merely an eccentric pensioner wandering the streets in the pouring rain. According to Dylan himself, he was just “out for a walk”. But now there is growing speculation that when the star was recently questioned by the police, he may have been in search of Bruce Springsteen’s old house, where he wrote the classic Born to Run.

Probing musicians’ backgrounds who influenced the world of rock in the 1960s and 1970s is a hobby for Dylan. Last November he turned up unannounced at a Winnipeg house where the Canadian rock star Neil Young grew up. Kiernan and Patti Regan came home from shopping to find him waiting on their doorstep and invited him in.

Then, in May, Dylan paid a £16 entrance fee and mingled anonymously with tourists at the childhood home of John Lennon in Woolton, Liverpool.

The location where he was stopped was close to the house where Springsteen wrote his hits Born to Run and Thunder Road three decades ago. Could he have been on the way to a visit?

[Click to continue reading Rambling Bob Dylan raises police suspicions – The Guardian]

Funny. Who knows, if I toured as frequently and consistently as Bob Dylan, I might wander around strange towns too.

Written by Seth Anderson

August 17th, 2009 at 1:54 pm

Posted in News-esque

Tagged with , ,

Reading Around on May 17th through May 19th

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A few interesting links collected May 17th through May 19th:

  • New York State Aims for 100 MW of Rooftop Solar Power by 2015 : TreeHugger – photo: Seth Anderson via flickr.

    And thanks to TreeHugger staff for learning from their little mistake – proper credit to photographers is not difficult, makes everyone happier, fitter.

  • The 1871 fires – Disarranging Mine – Did you know that on the night the Great Chicago Fire started, October 8, 1871, there were many more fires across the Upper Midwest?
  • Gabriel Villa’s Mural Destroyed « mediating the medium – "I recently received a disturbing e-mail from the artist Gabriel Villa that began with “The city white washed my mural.” In it Villa explained how the mural he began in Chicago’s Bridgeport neighborhood at Kaplan’s Liquors 960 W 31st St, as a part of Version>09 was destroyed by the city only days before its completion. I had been documenting Villa’s progress as a part of this year’s festival and I am sadden by the news of its destruction. He was granted permission by the owner of the building to paint the mural and this forces me to ask, what was the real reason for this censorship?"

    Despicable. Censorship at its most heavy handed. Welcome to Daley's Chicago

Written by swanksalot

May 19th, 2009 at 8:00 am

Posted in Links

Tagged with , , , , , , ,

Reading Around on February 19th

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A few interesting links collected February 17th through February 19th:

  • CBS Falsely Portrays Stanford as Democratic Scandal – But as Public Citizen, Huffington Post, ABC News and Talking Points Memo all reported, Stanford and his Stanford Financial Group PAC contributed to politicians and political action committees of both parties (including $448,000 in soft money contributions from 2000 to 2001 alone) to advance his agenda of banking and money-laundering deregulation. Many others journeyed on Stanford's junkets to Antigua and elsewhere, prompting TPM to brand his company "a travel agent for Congress." (TPM has a slide show of one of those of Stanford getaways.)

    As it turns out, the list of Stanford beneficiaries is long – and bipartisan.

  • Remembering Gene – Roger Ebert's Journal – Gene died ten years ago on February 20, 1999. He is in my mind almost every day. I don't want to rehearse the old stories about how we had a love/hate relationship, and how we dealt with television, and how we were both so scared the first time we went on Johnny Carson that, backstage, we couldn't think of the name of a single movie, although that story is absolutely true. Those stories have been told. I want to write about our friendship. The public image was that we were in a state of permanent feud, but nothing we felt had anything to do with image. We both knew the buttons to push on the other one, and we both made little effort to hide our feelings, warm or cold. In 1977 we were on a talk show with Buddy Rogers, once Mary Pickford's husband, and he said, "You guys have a sibling rivalry, but you both think you're the older brother."
  • TidBITS iPod & iPhone: iPhone to Add Location Logging? – Could the iPhone soon be able to track your location in the background as you walk around? A hint that such a capability is in the works at Apple comes from a programmer friend who spent some time spelunking around inside iPhoto '09, which shows traces of being able to associate such GPS log data with photos.
  • Daily Kos: Chocolate Covered Cotton – billmon – The fatal innovation…was the rise of so-called collateralized obligations, in which the payment streams from supposedly uniform pools of assets (say, for example, 30-year fixed prime mortgages issued in the first six months of 2006 to California borrowers) could be sliced and diced into different securities (known as tranches) each with different payment characteristics.

    This began as a tool for managing (or speculating on) changes in interest rates, which are a particular problem for mortgage lenders, since homeowners usually have the right to repay (i.e. refinance) their loan when rates fall, forcing lenders to put the money back out on the street at the new, lower rates. This means mortgage-backed securities can go down in value when rates fall as well as when they rise. By shielding some tranches from prepayments (in other words, by directing them to other tranches) the favored tranches are made less volatile and thus can be sold at a higher price and a lower yield.

  • An old habit dies… hard. « chuck.goolsbee.org – "I stumbled across a likely little application that seems to fit the bill: Gyazmail. It has a very flexible UI that allows me to make it behave very Eudora-like when I want it to. It has very good search, rules, and filters. It can import all my old mail(!)

    I’m test driving it at the moment and liking it so far. Switched my work mail to it late last week, and my personal mail is still coming over one account at a time. So far so good. If you regularly contact me via email be patient while I work through this transition period."

    I'm still using Eudora on three of our most used Macs (since 1995 probably -only 14 years), but the writing is on the wall. Have to check out Gyazmail.

  • Hands on: Drop.io's private, easy file sharing with a twist – Ars Technica – Sharing information online is getting more complex than it sometimes should be. If you want to share pictures, files, plain ideas, or even faxes with friends or businesses, you can try the old e-mail standby, but you may end up joining a social network, agree to a dense privacy policy, and then track down an app made by who-knows-who to get the job done. Even starting a simple blog usually involves more time than most users can afford‚ and more features than they'll ever need. Drop.io is an intriguing, but simple, new service that is part wiki, part file sharing, and part personal secretary, with an emphasis on privacy and ubiquitous access, requiring no signup or account activation.

    Upon visiting Drop.io—pronounced as a seamless single word: "drop-ee-o"—the site presents a basic elevator pitch about its services and a short form with which to get started uploading files.

  • Fat Tire Ale Downed Near Load Of Burgers – A Good Beer Blog – Motorists on Interstate 15 were impeded by a piles of hamburgers after a truck spilled a load of the patties, blocking the northbound lanes for four hours. The driver of a tractor-trailer carrying 40,000 pounds of hamburger patties dozed off around 5 a.m., said Utah Highway Patrol trooper Cameron Roden. The truck driver's rig drifted to the left side of the freeway near 2300 North and crashed into a wall and an overhead sign, which ripped open his trailer, spilling hamburger over the north and southbound lanes of the interstate…A second truck spill east of Morgan caused minor delays. Before 7:30 a.m., a truck was heading westbound on Interstate 84 about a half-mile east of Morgan… The truck slipped off to the left, hit a guardrail, and flipped over on its side. The impact split the truck open, spilling Fat Tire Beer being shipped from Colorado, Roden said.
  • The Associated Press: Chimp owner begs police in 911 call to stop attack – Police said that the chimp was agitated earlier Monday and that Herold had given him the anti-anxiety drug Xanax in some tea. Police said the drug had not been prescribed for the 14-year-old chimp.

    In humans, Xanax can cause memory loss, lack of coordination, reduced sex drive and other side effects. It can also lead to aggression in people who were unstable to begin with, said Dr. Emil Coccaro, chief of psychiatry at the University of Chicago Medical Center.

    "Xanax could have made him worse," if human studies are any indication, Coccaro said.

  • Facebook | Home – Over the past few days, we have received a lot of feedback about the new terms we posted two weeks ago. Because of this response, we have decided to return to our previous Terms of Use while we resolve the issues that people have raised. For more information, visit the Facebook Blog.

    If you want to share your thoughts on what should be in the new terms, check out our group Facebook Bill of Rights and Responsibilities.

  • Big Tuna – Chicago — Anthony 'Big Tuna' Accardo, reputed crime syndicate figure, and his wife are shown as they arrive at the St. Vincent Ferrer Church in suburban River Forest to attend wedding of their son Anthony Jr, who was married to the former Janet Hawley, 1961 Miss Utah. Many top gangland bosses and other underworld figures attended the wedding under the watchful eye of law enforcement agencies
  • Home | Recovery.gov – Recovery.gov is a website that lets you, the taxpayer, figure out where the money from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act is going. There are going to be a few different ways to search for information. The money is being distributed by Federal agencies, and soon you'll be able to see where it's going — to which states, to which congressional districts, even to which Federal contractors. As soon as we are able to, we'll display that information visually in maps, charts, and graphics.
  • George Will: Liberated From the Burden of Fact-Checking | The Loom | Discover Magazine – In an opinion piece by George Will published on February 15, 2009 in the Washington Post, George Will states “According to the University of Illinois’ Arctic Climate Research Center, global sea ice levels now equal those of 1979.”

    We do not know where George Will is getting his information, but our data shows that on February 15, 1979, global sea ice area was 16.79 million sq. km and on February 15, 2009, global sea ice area was 15.45 million sq. km. Therefore, global sea ice levels are 1.34 million sq. km less in February 2009 than in February 1979. This decrease in sea ice area is roughly equal to the area of Texas, California, and Oklahoma combined.

    It is disturbing that the Washington Post would publish such information without first checking the facts.

  • Wonk Room » George Will Believes In Recycling – Will’s numerous distortions and outright falsehoods have been well documented by Joe Romm, Nate Silver, Zachary Roth, Brad Plumer, Erza Klein, David Roberts, James Hrynyshyn, Rick Piltz, Steve Benen, Mark Kleiman, and others. They recognized that George Will is recycling already rebutted claims from the lunatic fringe, and offer the excellent suggestion that Washington Post editors should require some minimum level of fact-checking.

    But I haven’t seen anyone comment that Will is also recycling his own work, republishing an extended passage from a 2006 column — which Think Progress debunked — almost word for word. Take a look:

Reading Around on February 10th

without comments

Some additional reading February 10th from 19:19 to 21:03:

  • Cursebird: What the f#@! is everyone swearing about? – real time twitter feed of curse words. Not everything shows up, but still amusing
  • Ukulelia: Your Passport to Four Stringed Paradise – Performance artists Roger Geenawalt and David Barratt recorded and performed all 185 Beatles songs with 185 guest artists…on ukulele, natch.

    The performance was then cast as a benefit for Warren Buffett. (Head about to explode. Must. Keep. Blogging.) And they’ve now just delivered the cash to him in person. (Following is the BEST interview with Warren Buffett evar.)

Written by swanksalot

February 10th, 2009 at 10:00 pm

Posted in humor,Links,Music

Tagged with , , , ,

Snuggie Train

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We were laughing about Snuggies ’round these parts recently. Looks so much like a Jim Jones kind of garment, just missing the cup of Flavor-Aid or a pair of Heaven’s Gate Nikes.1

The Snuggie blanket launched nationally on direct-response TV in October, just as the economy was slowing to a crawl, so the timing seemingly couldn’t have been worse. However, it turns out the timing couldn’t have been better.

The quirky little blanket with sleeves has become the raiment of the zeitgeist, with more than 4 million units sold in just over three months and more than 200 parody videos on YouTube.

[Scott Boilen, president of Allstar Marketing Group, Hawthorne, N.Y] said he’s heard reports of customers swamping stockers and grabbing all the Snuggies before they even reach the shelves at Bed, Bath & Beyond or Walgreens, the first two retailers to carry the blankets.

The timing worked well on many fronts for Snuggie. With conventional advertisers pulling back, remnant time for direct-response ads has swelled. And because apparel and other consumer-product sales are down, plenty of idle Chinese factories are eager for business.

Ads tout the Snuggie as a way to cut heating bills and let folks curl up on the sofa with their hands free. With a growing number of consumers hunkering down and looking to save money, two Snuggies and two book lights for $19.95 is starting to look like a pretty good deal.

And something about the Snuggie just matches the spirit of the times. “It’s a tremendous value in today’s tough economic times,” Mr. Boilen said. “In this type of economy, people are looking for a value, and this is certainly a value at the price point. … People are staying home more, and it makes them feel good.”

[From Humble Snuggie: Marketing’s New Red-Hot Seller – Advertising Age – News]

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y4OxmXpKCcI

Is your life shrouded in a cold blue haze? Do arrows with $ symbols appear when you try to raise the thermostat? Is your blanket slightly too small? If so please join us, the Cult of Snuggie. There will be punch and pie.

Footnotes:
  1. no, it wasn’t Kool-Aid, stop saying it was []

Written by Seth Anderson

January 25th, 2009 at 11:54 pm

Posted in Advertising

Tagged with ,

The Scottish Origin of Rap

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Alex Boese of the Weird Universe blog adds a counterpoint to the Scottish origin of rap theory we ridiculed a few weeks ago:

The more conventional theory is that the roots of rap music trace back to ancient West African poets called “griots”. From Wikipedia:

the griots of West Africa were delivering stories rhythmically, over drums and sparse instrumentation. Because of the time that has passed since the griots of old, the connections between rap and the African griots are widely established, but not clear-cut. However, such connections have been acknowledged by rappers, modern day “griots”, spoken word artists, mainstream news sources, and academics.

Actually, given the big gap in time between these two possible origins and the emergence of rap in the 1970s, both theories sound a little iffy to me.

[From Weird Theory: The Scottish Origin of Rap]

Written by Seth Anderson

January 8th, 2009 at 9:22 am

Posted in Music

Tagged with , , ,

Swayze worries about invasions from Mexico

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What a strange thought to have when giving a fluff-ball interview about a television series being filmed in Chicago! Patrick Swayze worries that the Soviet1 hordes are going to invade the US, and Chicago would be their target. Or something.

Danger! Sound Horn

I felt that Chicago added so much, just in terms of the energy. If you read any Tom Clancy novel, Chicago is much more a dangerous point in this country than people realize. Tom Clancy says, if you want to invade the U.S., come through Mexico and come through Chicago, and split the country in half. Chicago has much deeper-reaching fingers, from a national security point of view, than most people realize.

[From Swayze feels at home in Chicago — chicagotribune.com]

Ok. Will make sure to stockpile weapons and canned goods, thanks Mr. Swayze.

Footnotes:
  1. sic, of course, but maybe he thinks the Venezuelans are coming? Unclear who this invading army might be as I’ve managed to avoid reading any Tom Clancy novels []

Written by Seth Anderson

November 18th, 2008 at 8:25 am

Posted in humor

Tagged with , , ,