Gufodotto would like you to read these:

Thursday, December 21, 2006

back home!!!

Ehy, I'm back home, after one night of driving through the whole belgium and a little (but funny) bit of germany...

I have to say, it was a pain to come back, but now it feels nice...

a few nice things.

my mum's food...

german motorways rocks! asphalt like formula 1 circuits, and... no speed limits!!! pity my gps decided to have me take a shortcut through the mountains... mah...

and I've just half-submitted my thesis! I say half submitted 'cause what I'm submitting isn't the real final version, rather a cobbled up merge of my chapters... am still waiting one from my (almost ex) boss...

now I am off to look for presents...

may be tomorrow I'll post on my latest elucubration: The Copernican Shock!!!

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

bouncin' back and forth...

I write this while pdfcreator is saved on my pc. why do I need this lil' app? 'cause I have to send my thesis as a pdf to my (ex) boss.

I have been writing and correcting all the weekend, and now i'm sealing time to the company to do my own work - just needed some correlation tables... and here they are...

I wish I could put an END to this before Xmas. Unfortunately, my (ex) boss just asked for some more thingies to add. and tonight I'm off to a nocturnal ride of belgium and germany, 4 hours just to get where the plane lift-off from: frankfurt hahn airport...

I will not even enjoy the drive since it'll be dark as hell, have got to be there by 4 in the morning. damn!!! this means leaving at 1 o'clock at the latest...

I better go and catch some sleep while I still can. ciao.

next post will come from sardinia ah ah!!!

Monday, December 18, 2006

The changing ways of Grand Rounds

The NYTimes (:-P) has yet another very interesting contribution: by LAWRENCE K. ALTMAN, M.D., the recount of a century (or so) of grand rounds in american hospital. I did not know of this use, and the paper is interesting, anedoctal and rich in humour too ;-) enjoy ;-)

Friday, December 15, 2006

An Ancient Computer Surprises Scientists

John Noble Wilford, long-standing science writer for the NY Times, and author of one of my favourite books about dinosaurs, writes about the antikitera mechanism, the most complex greek artifact ever found.



I first heard about it from the pages of Martyn Mistere, an irtalian mistery comic where the namesake is an investigator of strange cases. kind of X-files ante litteram, but with lots of histor thrown in - definitely better.

anyway, back to reality: a 3D X-Ray scan revealed that the "thing" is, in fact a mechanism to predict moon phases accordingly to hypparcos theory, and the same scientist probably had a hand in designing it. well, it sounds way cooler than the mysterian hypothesis where the mechanism was suggested to humans by superior intelligences.

Knowing that 2200 years ago we were able to make something that complex, and then we lost the ability for around one thousand years, gives a certain perspective. particularly, may be computers aren't here to last...

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Ti Amo!!!


Just to remind myself that I love this beautiful girl!!!

(I know the picture looks crap but that's my phone's fault)

Something to read over breakfast

a nice website which collect germ tales. Stories cover:

Monkeys invade New Delhi

Ebola Invades Gorillas

Dog Dies of Bird Flu

and so on... enjoy! ;-)

thanks to Janet Grinsburg for this (via Aetiology)

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Dark Matter Mostly Socks, Keys, Ballpoints

By Ion Zwitter, Avant News Editor
Cambridge, August 12, 2024


A critical goal that has eluded astrophysicists for decades has at last been made possible: the discovery of the nature and composition of "dark matter" as well as a hint as to the function of "dark energy", two previously unidentifiable and unobservable substances that together comprise nearly 95% of all matter in the universe. Thanks to recent advances in technology it has now been definitively proven that dark matter consists mostly of the subatomic remains of "missing ballpoints, socks and keys", according to a cosmologist involved in the discovery, thus effectively solving several great mysteries of the universe in one go.

3rd Iraq Study Group Report Calls for Iterative –Izations

The 3rd Iraq Study Group Report, delivered by its distinguished panel to the president and released to the American public today, calls for "an iterative process of –izing things, with the order of –izations to be varied both stochastically and in accordance with prevailing conditions on the ground."

thanks to AvantNews

Flight of the bumblebee!!!

As per topic: Listen Up

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Famous movies, re-enacted by... Bunnies!!!

here you go!!! I hope you enjoy them!!! many more at http://www.angryalien.com/



I'm afraid of e-Bay scammers...

I never buy on eBay 'cause I think that it's too easy for scammers to build fake reputations based on faked feedbacks by complacent users. But someone's on the ball, and has been analysing the transaction traffic (I guess with eBay's OK, and direct collaboration). This way, they've discovered that it is possible to track down those users who offer fake feedbacks, since they most often do the same job for a lot of scammers. so, backtracking the feedbacks, and crossing them between scammers, it is possible to take these bastards out of the loops...

It isn't still enough for me to trust eBay over a more traditional Online website such as Amazon, but it's a nice step in the right direction. And one day I'll be confident enough to launch myself in the global market ;-)

of course thanks to the couple at CognitiveDaily for pointing this out.

also, in the same blog:

back to work... Pampa...

reading an interesting book, in preparation for my PAMPA training tomorrow and thursday.

Pampa, in case you don't knwo (I didn't) is a technique used to measure how much and how quickly a compound is able to pass through a cellular membrane.

It doesn't use real cell membranes, though, rather some fatty mix which in the hope of the creators should act very much the same way.

I'm going to learn how to perform the experiments (yahee, gufodotto goes back in the lab!!!), so that in case of need I'll be able to generate my own data in the near future.

anyway, I love when book, to give perspective to the subject, start with an historical excursus: I cut and paste here (I know I am violating the (C) of someone - but I'm sure he won't mind):

The history of the development of the bilayer membrane model is fascinating, and spans at least 300 years, beginning with studies of soap bubbles and oil layers on water.

In 1672 Robert Hooke observed under a microscope the growth of ‘‘black’’ spots on soap bubbles. Three years later Isaac Newton [521], studying the ‘‘images of the Sun very faintly reflected [off the black patched on the surface of soap bubbles],’’ calculated the thickness of the black patches to be equivalent to 95 A °. (Anders Jonas Angstrom, ‘father of spectroscopy,’ who taught at the University of Uppsala, after whom the A° unit is named, did not appear until about 150 years later.)

Ben Franklin, a self-trained scientist of eclectic interests, but better known for his role in American political history, was visiting England in the early 1770s. He published in the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society in 1774:

At length being at Clapham where there is, on the common, a large pond, which I observed to be one day very rough with the wind, I fetched out a cruet of oil, and dropt a little of it on the water . . . and there the oil, though not more than a tea spoonful, . . . spread amazingly, and extended itself gradually till it reached the lee side, making all that quarter of the pond, perhaps half an acre, as smooth as a looking glass . . . so thin as to produce prismatic colors . . . and beyond them so much thinner as to be invisible.

Franklin mentioned Pliny’s account of fisherman pouring oil on troubled waters in ancient times, a practice that survives to the present. (Franklin’s experiment was reenacted by the author at the pond on Clapham Common with a teaspoon of olive oil. The spreading oil covered a surface not larger than that of a beach towel–it appears that technique and/or choice of oil is important. The olive oil quickly spread out in circular patterns of brilliant prismatic colors, but then dissolved from sight. Indeed, the pond itself has shrunken considerably over the intervening 230 years.)


More than 100 years later, in 1890, Lord Rayleigh, a professor of natural philosophy at the Royal Institution of London, was conducting a series of quantitative
experiments with water and oil, where he carefully measured the area to which a volume of oil would expand. This led him to calculate the thickness of the oil film. A year after publishing his work, he was contacted by a German woman named Agnes Pockels, who had done extensive experiments in oil films in her kitchen sink. She developed a device for carefully measuring the exact area of an oil film. Lord Rayleigh helped Agnes Pockels in publishing her results in scientific journals (1891–1894).

Franklin’s teaspoon of oil (assuming a density 0.9 g/mL and average fatty-acid molecular weight 280 g/mol) would contain 10þ22 fatty-acid tails. The half-acre
pond surface covered by the oil, 2000 m2, is about 2  10þ23 A ° 2. So, each tail would be expected to occupy about 20 A ° 2, assuming that a single monolayer (25 A ° calculated thickness) of oil formed on the surface of the pond.

Pfeffer in 1877 subjected plant cell suspensions to different amounts of salt and observed the cells to shrink under hypertonic conditions and swell in hypotonic conditions. He concluded there was a semipermeable membrane separating the cell interior from the external solution, an invisible (under light microscope) plasma membrane.

Overton in the 1890s at the University of Zu¨rich carried out some 10,000 experiments with more than 500 different chemical compounds [518,524]. He measured DEVELOPMENTS IN ARTIFICIAL-MEMBRANE PERMEABILITY MEASUREMENT 119 the rate of absorption of the compounds into cells. Also, he measured their olive oil–water partition coefficients, and found that lipophilic compounds readily entered the cell, whereas hydrophilic compounds did not.
This lead him to conclude that the cell membrane must be oil-like. The correlation that the greater the lipid solubility of a compound, the greater is the rate of penetration of the plasma membrane became known as Overton’s rule. Collander confirmed these observations but noted that some small hydrophilic molecules, such as urea and glycerol, could also pass into cells. This could be explained if the plasma membrane contained waterfilled pores. Collander and Ba¨rlund concluded that molecular size and lipophilicity are two important properties for membrane uptake.


Fricke measured resistance of solutions containing suspensions of red blood cells (RBCs) using a Wheatstone bridge. At low frequencies the impedance of the suspensions of RBC was very high. But at high frequencies, the impedance decreased to a low value. If cells were surrounded by a thin membrane of low dielectric material, of an effective resistance and a capacitance in parallel to the resistor, then current would flow around the cells at low frequencies, and ‘‘through’’ the cells (shunting through the capacitor) at high frequencies. Hober in 1910 evaluated the equivalent electrical circuit model and calculated the thickness of the RBC membrane to be 33 A° if the effective dielectric constant were 3 and 110 A° if the effective dielectric constant were 10.


In 1917 Langmuir, working in the laboratories of General Electric, devised improved versions of apparatus (now called the Langmuir trough) originally used by Agnes Pockels, to study properties of monolayers of amphiphilic molecules at the air–water interface. The technique allowed him to deduce the dimensions of fatty acids in the monolayer. He proposed that fatty acid molecules form a monolayer on the surface of water by orienting themselves vertically with the hydrophobic hydrocarbon chains pointing away from the water and the lipophilic carboxyl groups in contact with the water.



I guess that's enough. Just wanted to share a good story.

stolen from: ABSORPTION AND DRUG DEVELOPMENT: Solubility, Permeability, and Charge State
ALEX AVDEEF - pION, Inc.

Curva Pericolosa

Do I need to say more?



thanks to autoblog.it

I've given Up on BSG

It's happened. with the last episode where they go to great length to cross a stellar cluster instead of going around it, I'm just through with it.

I'll keep a good memory of the first two series, and forget it's been continued.

I'm now going to start watching Lost, hoping that it'll be a bit better. but there's a space-opera vaccum in my heart. That is, until F Heter hamilton does publish The Dreaming Void.

Fractal Cauliflowers



Someone else seems to have noticed the wnderful beauty of cauliflowers: I do not eat them for a long lost reason in my childhood, but I Have often wondered whether to buy them just to keep them as display on my table.



Thanks to Karmen at Chaotic Utopia, a scienceblog I didn't know yet.

edit: and they're fractals on the inside, too!!!

Been away...

I've been away from blogging the whole weekend and a bit more... too much to do... wanted to polish up one more chapter of my thesis, then spend some time with my sweet half... which ended up mostly putting up furnitures for her house, and fixing a leaking shower head. Good plumber. I did train on my own two days before ;-)

Now I'm back on track, that is, at work, trying to select a deent set of molecules to perform aa evaluation of the different pKa prediction software available in house.

As an aside, it looks like my 250GB collection of movies is lost, since my usb hard drive decided to go on strike after I turned off the computer while it was performing a check on it. Bad luck.

I've re-installed the USB port now, trying to get it to recognise it again as a new thing and re-mount it from scratch. we'll see tonitgh if this works. Otherwise, i guess I'll have to find a way to format it.

It doesn't mount on linux anymore. but may be fdisk will be able to format the device nonetheless.
finger crossed. anyway, I'm going to buy a WD 500GB USB HD for 200€ in Carrefour, as soon as I can. Chissa' perche' capitano tutte a me...

Friday, December 08, 2006

Oh, This is Scary

People with genetic defects are using genetic pre-screening of embryos prior implantation, to 'introduce' genetic defects, rather than avoid them. Apparently, the reason for doing this is that they're afraid their children would grow far from them if they do not share the same impediments...

Wake up, dumb asses!!! your children are going to leave the nest anyway!!! at least try to give them the best start in life.

God sometimes I'd like to be able to deny the use of hi-tech remedies to people who abuse them...

As usual thanks to the NY Times

Nuclear paranoia...

from the NYTimes: The US want every ports which send them cargo to pass it through X-Ray and radiation detectors in order to make sure that no 'hidden bomb' will arrive through that way...

This is an incredibly stupid idea, first of all 'cause a measure like this is completely ineffective if applied to only three ports (Southampton-UK, Pakistan and Honduras). The terrorist as someone pointed out would just use some other ports. Also, they don't scan all cargo, only the one boarded on container ships. Then, you also see
that they can't afford to scan EVERY item, so they'll just scan a tiny sample. Finally, they will not trust custom officials in the ports, they will require the pictures to be sent to them, and then they'll decide accordignly. Oh I forgot, the scanners apparently can't see properly in common cargo such as frozen food.

So, what's the point of all this?

Well, some company is going to pocket 60M US$ to provide and operate the scanner, for a start. I'm sure the ticket price will go up a little more... and most of all, all this creates a fake sense of safety in the US citizens, although its efficacy is (judge yourself) absolutely risible...

I'm starting to think along the same lines of Michael moore. may be the US government want its citizens to be afraid, 'cause they'll be more subdued and controllable, happy to give up their civil liberties in this perpetual state of terror...

I pity you, America...

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Tiny Particle with No charge discovered

Oh, this is a slashdot /. thread where instead of informative comments about the recent discovery (or confirmation thereof) of Axions (whatever they are), slashdotters have gone berserk posting jokes.

some examples:
An atom walks into a police station and says "One of my electrons has been stolen!"
The police say "Are you sure?"
And the atom replies...

"Yes! I'm positive!"

--

They find an axion??

Hire them to find Bin Laden!!


Well, physicists can do this, but this would involve smashing Earth to pieces and looking at its debris.

BTW, and they would need about $10000000000000000000 funding for LEC (Large Earth Collider).

Dear Sir,

Your proposal intrigues us. If you can flesh it out with further details, we are certain that a mutually satisfactory agreement can be reached. Eagerly awaiting your reply.

Sincerely Yours,

Galactus, LEXX, and Prostetnic Vogon Jeltz

Again on Pfizer's Torcetrapib

This guy (or girl?) makes an interesting point, which I also brought forward today at lunchtime. what's the point in letting people eat like stupids, then selling them drugs to keep their body healthy no matter what?

wouldn't it be better if we could use the same money to educate this people? mah...

and a nice quote from my boss (I hope he won't mind): "Not a scientific decision at all but a reaction to the American culture of litigation. This will kill drug discovery."

I have to admit...

There are some things of Science Fiction TV series which I don't understand.

Why, whenever a situation of danger arise, the most important person on the ship/station take the scouting role? I mean, Capt Kirk is always the first to descend on a planet, so is the commander in chief of Babylon 5 station, who in three episodes has already gone out ona fighter jet twice, once just to grab a spaceship out of control. I mean, it's not like in a station full of pilots he can be the best one...

I mean, this people are often old, kind of, like in their fifites, surrounded by twenty-something years old top-gun pilots, yet they go on the first line...

May be it has something to do with American history? Did Patton advance at the head of its tank divisions? What did McArthur did? what about Gen.l Grant? mah...

The only nice exception to this is BattleStar Galactica, where Admiral Adama stays in C&C Centre whereas those who do the dangerous flights, and dogfights are Starbuck and (once) his son Apollo. Except when Adama went down to explore a planet with Boomer, and most opf the important characters in the saga, I can't remember another time when he did steal the scouting role to who was supposed to perform it.

That's nice in BSG, I must admit. Every person has its role, and that's enough to flesh out the character, without having to resort to jack-of-all-trades captains which smell more of fantasy than science-fiction to me...

just my two cents.

However, I'have seen the latest episode (9) of BSG series 3: revolves around the boxing matches organised on board the battlestar to ease the tensions. if you have someone on your ass, you just call him up on the ring and pummel him like a potato bag. Not very practical, as someone at GalacticaBlog pointed out, if you're a fighter pilot, since having bruises and broken ribs when performing high-G maneuvers can be a real pain. but what the hell... Anyway, in this episode, for a reason not very clear, the old Adama is angry at chief and call him up on the ring. then starbuck and apollo beat each other up and re-fall in love... lame lame lame...

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

500!!!

visitors in this blog!!! are you the lucky one? comment posting your IP and I'll let you have a nice present - that is, if I don't eat the chocolate santa claus I received today before I post it... ;-)

Too late, The 500th visitor was some bloke (or gal) from Norway!!!

Zelda, and The Ship.

Here's two games I'd like to try out.

The Ship, which reminds me of "The Hunt" by (Damn I don't remember): you're on board opf a ship, where every person has to kill another one... so you're hunter and prey at the same time.


This one, instead, doesn't need introductions: the latest instalment of the best videogame franchise ever, this time link has to travel between his own realm and the darkness realm, where he has to solve the (un)usual puzzles in wolf shape... Zelda and Lycanthropes. what more can you ask for?

Bashing the PS3

The NY Times jumps on the PS3-bashing bandwagon, suggesting instead to go for the X360 or the Wii...

the pice goes on comparing things like games selection at the moment, online services, ability to play DVDs, and so on...

in fact after reading it, i don't see many reasons for either buying the 360 or the PS3. I think I'll stick with my proposition of getting myself a Wii once the PhD is done. it'll look gorgeous on my soon-to-come 3X" LCD TV... ;-)

Stereo, for Solar Terrestrial Relations Observatory



Ehy, this is a great idea... a pair of satellites to observe solar events in stereo!!!

They'll sit in the same orbit or so, but slightly spaced so that more precise measures of coronal mass ejections cam be made. This billion-tons ejection of hot plasma from the sun do cause harm to communication satellites, which orbit 36000Km far from Earth, and satellites (or stations) orbiting lower but closer to polar orbit, where they are less protected by Earth magnetic field...

Wouldn't it be nice if Nasa were to release Stereographic picture of the sun, similarly to the Hubble Heritage?

I wouldn't mind something like it in the saloon (but something tells me that my girlfriend might...)

Good Morning!!!

early wake up today, I just dozed off ten minutes waiting for my heating to warm up the rooms, then off for a quick breakfast, a glass of milk+nescafe+cocoa powder (yum!), then onto some Yoga (LOL)... and I'm at work since 7 o'clock, isn't it crazy?

I have to (finish to) compile a list of pKa prediction softwares, with their own strengths and weaknesses, for the meeting with my supervisors, in three hours time. Then, you'll wonder why are you wasting time blogging? mah... who knows... back to work now. it seems to be a warm day, pity I haven't seen real sun in like three months otherwise I'd like to eat in the company garden... if the wind wasn't strong enough to make chicken wings fly (even when cooked)...

adios!

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Epitaph

The Mars Global Surveyor, the oldest human construct orbiting the red planet, died on nov 22. I know I'm incredibly late, but... please a minute of silence to mourn our loss...


















That's enough. Good luck in crashing down, old sat...

Russia, Outer Space and the Profit Motive


Utterly interesting piece from the NY Times (again, I know) talking about the various ways the russian have found to make money out of space. Ads, Tourism, and so on... It's nice to see someone doing it the right way... may be I'll be able to fly up there before my bones crumble... :-(

thinking twice, I don't think i'll ever manage to save 20M US$ to fly on the Soyuz. but if prices go down a little...

Son of Trident under way

Blair has revealed its plan for the Trident successor(s).

I have very mixed feelings about this...

On one side, I'd rather see the UK leading the world to Nuclear disarmement. Those money (20Bn GBP, roughly 30Bn Euros) would possibly be better spent in any other endeavour including a new series of ThunderBirds.

On the other side, I see the current political climate and the new nuclear proliferation in non-democratic states, and I think that may be the UK can NOT afford NOT to have a trident system...

more from me here (in italian)

No Mars-Direct I am afraid...

At least not unless we pass through the Moon first (things which makes it Mars-Indirect by definition, I'd say).

NASA Plans Permanent Moon Base

The agency’s deputy administrator, Shana Dale, said the United States would develop rockets and spacecraft to get people to the Moon and establish a rudimentary base. There, other countries and commercial enterprises could expand the outpost to develop scientific and other interests, Ms. Dale said.

So, it's open to everybody who wants to join, like the ISS...

“The door is open for international and commercial interests,” she said.

and they seem intentioned to suck away money from the ISS and Shuttle itself...

Ms. Dale said money would be shifted to the lunar exploration program from the shuttle and the station.

I don't know, but all this doesn't ring right to my ear... it looks more like something to show that even them can do it, now that the chinese have announced it... mah... we'll see...

I still believe that there's more to learn from mars, and money and efforts would be better spent there. also, the popular support would be larger, than for repeating something that has been already done thirty-five years ago.

WD-40

Thanks to Science Base

Yoga!!!

Good morning everybody...

I thought I'd let you know, that, since I'ven't been training in the gym since April, now, and the back pain is still annoying me, I started looking for alternatives...

I've been through swimming, which is pleasant but doesn't really help, sauna, ditto,
massages, which actually makes it worse, stretching, which seems to ease the strain.

My last attempt is Yoga, a dynamic form of it known as Ashtanga, which I see in truth
as nothing more than a series of stretching exercises chained to each other. I'm certainly not the spiritual kind of guy, even if Marie is making fun of me saying that in a few months I'll be dressing with an orange robe and converting people in the streets... LOL...

anyway, let's see how it works out. the book I'm learning from was heavily discounted
, 3 €, so let's hope it's good... ciao a tutti!

Ooops!!!


It looks like Pfizer has tripped over a CV safety problem with their new (wannabe) blockbuster drug.

Torcetrapib, a compound suppose to reduce (bad) cholesterol production, turned out to cause more heart attacks than it would prevent, possibly due to pressure raising.

This goes a long way to show the importance of my last six months of work. Good feeling. Although I feel bad for Pfizer... Well, not exactly bad, but you know... May be they'll want to hire me, though?

Friday, December 01, 2006

May be...

The sasquatch exists? Darren Naish, over at Tetrapod Zoology, has an extensive disamina of all pros (a lot, apparently) and cons (none to date?) regarding the Sasquatch, or Bigfoot, the american version of the abominable yeti...

Personally, I've always thought that both (sasquatch and yeti) were fraud of some sort, but if what he says checks out, then it could be better to have a second look. I do not, of course have the knowledge to participate to the hunt/search/investigation...
but will be happy to wait for the results.

Something that crossed my mind is: and if they were the last remnants of neanderthals? Actually I have no idea whether Neanderthals did ever live so far from europe.
mah?

have no idea. anyway, have a go and read darren's post.

The plague of our times...




We non-Us citizen don't know any of these two symbols. neither do americans of the one on the right. But the one on the right is very well known to them, being their Civil Defense agency logo. But now, the company has changed name, and they say the logo is a relic of the cold war. as a matter of fact, it is not, it is much older. It's been there since 1939.

Anyway, what's wrong with it? it's easy to recognise, and I guess much easier to print on blankets, and other emergency things than the one ion the left, which in my opinion is too frilly, composed of too many things and excessively elaborated... like most modern logo...

I understand commercial companies wanting to change their logo to keep up with time. But they tend to get simpler, not more complex, easily discernible things in the sea of information by which we are submerged every day. If I can compare, look at the old Total logo:



Now look at the new one.



the new one wants to represent I don't know, a swirl of different kind of energies swooping around the world... oh please, it doesn't make sense. it's more complicated than the old one, again too elaborated, and it requires too much time to be recognised while your brain is busy with driving. as a result, i expect that since they changed the logo, their service station are receiving less visits (tie')

The only company I know of who actually went from a difficult logo to a simpler one is... guess who? yes. Apple.

they went from this:



to this:



see? easier. the new logo is less complex, yet more modern than the old one a bit too 'seventy' with all those colors.

yet, the case for the CD logo is different. the new logo has not just the graphical aspect of an airline company, as a professional said. It has words in it!!! for christ sake it's a logo!!! if you feel the need to put words in it, other than the company/agency name, it means that:

a) it's not a logo - if it has a motto in it, it is a standard. and for you not to be able to understand this,
b) you're a moron, an incompetent, especially if a chemist is better able than you to grasp the meaning of all this. or you're a bureaucrat or were hired by one, and then really there's no hope for you. or him.

enough complaining. i'll point you to the original NYTimes piece.

And, before I forget...

I've finally joined the fan of Babylon5, an old-ish SciFi TV series which tells the story of a space station in deep space, whose name is Babylon 5 indeed.

the station has been built by the human government ten years after a war, as a place to peacefully work out the differences between the various sentient species in that quadrant of galaxy.

It's very intelligently done, with a strong focus (for the two episodes that I've managed to see until now) on the politics, even if some issues are still resolved using fists, a` la captain Kirk way... sigh... it must be some legal requirement in the US, a minimum of physical violence in every tv show or movie.

but if you look beyond that, the outdated cheesy CGI effects, and other ingenuities, you'll surely appreciate the finesse of the characters, the fact that some aliens aren't humanoids unlike star trek, and a general air of freshness and care in painting the world.

I wish I had discovered it before, but I was too afraid that it was too similar to Star Trek, tv series which I personally find !@#$%^& and sincerely hate, as much a sstar Wars, for having hijacked the term SciFi to indicate just childish space-operas with very little brain. If I hadn't, I would have looked at Battlestar galactica with a very different eye.

It's beginning...


the second age of newspapers... I received today an email from NYTimes Online asking whether I wanted to install their new fancy e-reader (beta-version). It's supposed to resize font and style accordingly to dimension and resolution of the screen where it's been looked at. All good and well, pity that I can't download it from work, since we're stuck with Win2K (the beta is 4 WinXP only). And I mostly read it from work, the home laptop has XP but I rarely if ever surf the net from there. It's mostly used for downloading, and watching movies... (you can't prove anything!!!)

But I do appreciate the NY Times, as the regular readers of the blog know. therefore, I'm happy if they work out a better way to bring me the news, and ensure their future in the up and coming World wild web... ;-)

Thursday, November 30, 2006

The Wii gets good press

the NYTimes, no less, praise Nintendo for its innovative moves, at the same time that it squashes Sony for ditching the vibration from its controllers to make space for motion-sensitivity, a late-added feature almost not used by the unimaginative ps3 games...

GO!, Wiii!!!

A visit from Google...


someone from google hit the next random blog button, and jumped on my blog! here's the proof:

I'm poor!!!

Oh pants, had to pay the second tranche of my hideously heavy insurance... sigh... half of my salary down the drain (in a sense).

next year, if I have not made any good use of them, I'm going to ditch all the expensive options I choose to cover my ass from my inexperience as a driver. I figure that if i do not crash during the first year, after driving in excess of 20 thousand km, then I am not such a bad driver and can do without the complete-full-cover-casco-total=4=dummies thing.

let's cross my fingers and hope that I'm not going to make use of the damn insurance anytime soon... :-(

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

War of the World

No, it's not a reprint of the seminal science fiction book by HG Wells, the last book I cherry-picked from the NYTimes 2006 Notable Books List.

It's a reasoned retelling of the last century, certainly the bloodiest in human history. What in the opinion of the author caused it, and possibly how to avoid that the next century will follow suit(does this makes sense?).

A review's comment by which I was particularly striken is this: absurd for us to remember the cold war fondly as a time of peace and stability'' when ''between 1945 and 1983 around 19 or 20 million people were killed in around 100 major military conflicts.

Funny, I was wondering exactly along the same lines yesterday, under the shower (yes I do sometimes sing, too)... My reflection was more concerned with the fact that the United states, even after the end of WWII, have been almost constantly busy, in one way or another, in one or the other part of the world, from (south) east asia in the Fifties-to-Seventies, to Central-and-latin Americas later on, and finally the Middle-East in the last twenty years... am I missing some place?

what next? China is certainly rising up fast, both economically and as a major concern for the stability of the surrounding area. But frankly I can't see the US and their compadres cutting themselves off from the most promising future market...

My political clout is unfortunately too limited to make more educated guesses. Time will tell, I believe... How did that nasty proverb said: I wish you to live in interesting times... yeah, right, thank you very much...

Programming The Universe

And here's the second book which I did select from NYTimes 100 Notable books of 2006.

The idea of the universe as a giant computer isn't entirely novel, and no, it was not created by Matrix... If any, authorship should be awarded to Douglas Adams, writer of The HitchHiker's Guide to the Galaxy. he did limit the idea to planet Earth as the planet-sized (duh!) computer in charge of computing the Final Question to Life, Universe and Everything.

Seth Lloyd just extended the idea, frankly... anyway, here it is. may be I'll buy (into) it. maybe not. what makes me uncomfortable about the idea of the universe as a computer (or the result of a program execution within an all-encompassing computer, if you want) is that, seen in this way, everything we do HAS a meaning, it is necessary and part of a pre-ordered master plan pointing to a final end. now, pardon my doubts, but I am hard-pressed to think that may casual yawning has a meaning. more than uncomfortable, it plain scares me... uh... :-|

for my european friends, the book is also available from my preferred online shop, Play.com

Wiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii...

Apparently, the new Wii is as good as I was hoping. The new Zelda too.

but mind you, potato couches may need to exercise more, before tackling on the new control system, since it makes you move so much that you can suffer muscle injuries...

Self-Made Man

Here's a nice idea for a book (already pblished, I'm afraid). The accounts of a girls experience at cross-dressing and passing herself as a man... The author, Norah Vincent, spent one year living as a man...

I'm interested enough that I'd be willingly to buy it, especially 'cause she doesn't seem to let her lesbianism come in the way of an impartial view of the thigns she experienced... ;-)

Best(?) Book of 2005?

May be they're not the best in absolute sense (I believe this would be a very personal assessment), but the NY Times doesn't call them that way: Just 100 notable books of the year 2005. Which I guess is very reasonable. I just wish I had the time to read at least 20% of them. But I'll be happy with my 1 or 2%...

I'll be posting the one that caught my attention, and I plan to read...

Plus, don't limit yourself to this year. they have selections for the previous years too...

Ann Coulter WHO?

A nice piece on the NY Times book section reviews three books which make Ann Coulter their subject. This political commenter contributes to inflame american politics with vitriol laced comments (duh!) about liberals.

The piece interestingly points out the weak approach of all three books in tackling the coulter phenomenon, with the authorsfocusing on her and rebutting her arguments, rather than exposing her as a pre-digester of political news for conservatives. read more here.

Toxicity, toxicity...

This is what I am studying today...

I'm reading the hand-outs of a seminar a colleague attended (thanks Ron!). This way, I will at least understand what all those acronyms, that people use here at work, mean.

things such as the difference between NOEL (No Observed Effect Level) and NOAEL (No Adverse Observed Effect Level), S2A studies (genotoxicity)...

all very interesting, and even the 'boring' parts about regulatory organs and institutions are kind of interesting...

Hopefully, I'll attend the course later next year... or may be I'll skip over for a more advanced one, who knows?

a nice quote:

"You too can be a Toxicologist in two easy lessons, each of ten years [lenght]" - Arnold Lehman (ca 1995) :-)

BBC: My Sci Fi Life

BBC is and will always be my preferred TV broadcast. I'm convinced that when everything will run through the net and the term 'broadcasting' will be a thing of the past, they'll still be alive and kicking (asses).

As for my beloved Sci-Fi, since the sixties they've been the producers of series which put to shame most contemporary american blockbusters, series which, like the best sci-fi, are there to provoke thought, to explore possibilities, alternatives to our current state, to guess how we may react when facing unusual problems.

Now, BBC is letting their viewers comment on their preferred series from the past.

I myself did discover a few series I was not aware of, such as Star Cops. I did know The Prisoner, though, having downloaded the first few episodes some months ago.

enjoy!

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

wasting my time...

I've been out of work until mid-day... was working on my PhD thesis, this weekend, and finally managed to put an end (and one more piccies in) to Chapter eight. yesterday and this morning, I polished up chapter one and two, which are now final. I guess I'll just have to print them. Then I've come here at work, tried to read some DMSO/Solubility review, but mostly hushing away my time while I wait for 16.30h, when I'll meet Dr Bertrand Piccard, who DID NOT command the Enterprise. No, that would be Jean Luc. this one was merely the first man to complete a whole non-stop (I believe) tour of the world in an aerostatic baloon.

He's been invited here to talk about determination and balancing your work life. I guess HR people do actually get something right, from time to time... when they're not busy figuring out the mode of action of Smartolan... :-{

IceSkating...

I did wait a lot bvefore finally managing to go ice skating in the turnhout Ice rink, this weekend. unfortunately, my GF was working, so I tagged along with an old-time friend of mine. fact is, we must have looked like a gay couple, skating together in the middle of families... or even worse, two pedophiles :-0

well, I'll try to make up one of the coming weekends, I really like to do it even if I'm not particularly good at it. it's fun and a good way to spend one hour on saturday night.

Vroommm!!!

Just thought I would amuse you with this nice spot from...



Audi...

Monday, November 27, 2006

One year ago...

one year ago... something changed in my life. 'nuff said.

to the future!

Loas Angeles looses its frondes...

from the NYTimes: Los Angeles has decided that palm trees are too difficult to mantain, don't clean up the air and don't offer shadow as other (native) varieties, so they're getting rid of them in the future. that doesn't mean that you'll be seeing people wandering with chainsaw, bringing them down. They'll just wait for them to die, and they'll replace them with other, more shadowy varieties.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Incivil shopping

Thanksgiving id the unofficial start of the holiday shopping season in the US.

and some shops open earlier than usual, like 5 a.m. they also give away doorbusters, heavuly discounted attractive items to lure people in.

things didn't go as they hoped, in NY, though, where people looking for the best bargains did descend into fistcuffs...

how lame...

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Inchoatus

I hoped to have found a serious source of indipendent sci-fi reviews. but not. these guy(s) don't weven know how to properly write in english, so how can they pretend to review other people's works? *sneers*

pity 'cause they do have some points to score.

The Dreaming Void

Peter F. Hamilton, the new space-opera idol of brit SF, has posted another update of his one-post-per-month blog.

He was afraid of having lost the usb-key where he stores his writing notes. Would it appear on eBay? or would the guy who found it be inspired by it, and write up a new Dreaming void and publish before him? we'll never know, since he's found it back...

it goes on detailing some bits about his work. Paula myo makes her reappearance, things of which, personally, I'm not particularly enthusiastic.

never liked her, and was hoping some new characters would find space in the old-age oppressed, asfittic(?) world of the Commonwealth.

BattleStar Galactica

I've seen Episode eight. I believe I've seen enough of the whole series, to draw my conclusions now.

and in essence they're negative. The original idea was good, with the sudden shock of almost total annihilation of Humankind, and the merciless hunt of the survivors by the cylons...

I could endure the little stupidities, and pretend that some things just didn't happen, fill in the plothole with my imaginations, the same way I pretend to mentally improve the environment where the characters play. I can imagine a properly built spaceship, and not something where the only difference with a nimitz-class air carrier is that doors are slopy... :-\

I did enjoy the humanity of the characters in the first series, and forgave the bad sides thinking that it would get better and better with time. But no, oh no, it's gone down the other way...

frankly, the only thing I'd save of the whole new series is the dogfighting scenes, but there's way too little of them to make up for the rest.

in this episode, just to stay on the detail, we see how the cylons are not only intelligent, and vicious, they seems to have a kind of supreme simulation power. How could they possibly know that BullDog would end up trying to kill the old Adama, when the reason for that (i.e. that adama itself shoot him up) was unknown to anybody but himself?) and even so, it's kind of a far fetched attempt at assassination, from an enemy that has shown that they could get rid of humanity once and for all, if only they wanted. I mean, they should have just nuked the humans while they were grounded on new caprica...

bah...

and the science in the series, purposed by Gaius baltar, is tacky and fake like, I don't know. just fake... unbelieveble. the guy is an idiot, and his only skill seem to be a mutant power who makes people around him think he's a genius, humans and cylons alike.

I much better like The 4400, where with some little exception like the mutation of episode 11/12, the science is treated a bit fairly, and even when it's not it's easy to see through it and just get along with the story... and most of all, they manage to keep me on the edge with just a good use of the story, and revelations, not with pointless space actions...

pity third season has ended, and I can't find ep 13 anywhere. but never mind...

tonight, it's Desperate housewives night. :-P

At the Confluence of Science and Technology

That's how I felt today, during a three hours meeting where all my colleagues presented their work... Pityt I can't tell you about all the things discussed.

Also, I understood that there's still a lot I have to learn before being on a par with them.

That's good. it's going to be two more interesting years...

Now, back to work...

How did whales came about?

Olduvai George tells us. with pictures!

thanks to Pharyngula

I am not a celebrity...

D-List Blogger

sigh...

may be I don't post enough. or may be I just don't post enough interesting things...

I don't know, but I'd rather live my life, than blog it...

yes, the fox and the sour grapes... :-|

(may be I'm more of an L-List blogger. L as in Looser :-)

weel, at least I do have sense of self-humour

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

World's largest democracy

that would be India... but this piece from the NY Times suggest otherwise, at least on some fronts...

lack of self-critics and extrajudicial killings are still common, and the idea that a wife is killed every 77 seconds by her hisband for failing to bring home sufficient dowry (dote?) is altogether repulsing to me.

still, it happens.

I hope things will get better, there and in china. If these two countries are going to rule the world, one day, we all better hope so...

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

who owns that land?

An interesting piece of the NY Times (again) about the portion of land which Israel illegally occupies in the west bank. Illegally since it's privately owned by Palestinians, and therefore, under international law, Israel should support their claims...

clic the title to read the article. you may need to register though. free as in beer, if you don't value your personal data...

How to waste our time...

Ah ah, I can't believe the frustrated guy(s) waiting the whole night for amazon to put up the Nintendo Wii for sale... and most of them didn't even catch one.

they thought they'd be smarter, and warmer than their geek-friends waiting in queues in front of 'real' stores... only they did have no idea on how long the virtual queue was. nor whether they were at the front of it, or at the back end...

For me, I'll wait for the Wii to come down in price after six months or more... I love Nintendo's games, but it's not as if I have plenty of time to play with them right now, do I?

and hey, does it play dvd/xvid/divx? anybody knows?

(from the NY Times)

Muton! Muton! Muton!!!

I keep receiving hits coming from a blog which I linked long time ago, when I foudn out about the Hyena's oddness...

I went back to the same, to discover that there's a new phallic-post*: the author just discovered a phallus impudicus in his garden. This is a particularly stinky mushroom with very strong resemblance to an erect penis, as the picture in his website can testify.

This mushroom also has other interesting aspects, such as its tremendous force when coming up from the ground. Apparently, it can break through tarmac, exerting a force of 1.33KN (that is, it can lift a person weighting 133Kg. next time you feel something pushing you from the floor, move aside... :-)

*: it's not that I'm particularly interested in phallic posts, mind you. It's just that the coincidence was quite surprising.

if you want some less phallic posts, just scroll the blog up and down :-)

it's not that I am busy...

Ok, I am, so I post less and less...

too much to do these days, frankly... new unforeseen tasks keep popping up at the last minute, and old deadlines are still there...

ouch...

hopefully, I'll be able to surf the net a lil bit so that I can post you some fancy thing... in the meantime, why don't you find your favorite gadget? http://www.paramountzone.com/

I like the cup warmer (it's looking for one that I found the website - too often I brew a tea cup and then I'm swamped by things to do, and when i can get bak to it, the mug is cold...)

Monday, November 20, 2006

and ten it's done...

a long weekend, two days sent writing, two other days spent resting, and the tenth chapter is finally done. good...

now, it's back to correcting and recorrecting the other chapters...

booring...

and I also have to go to work during a holiday day 'cause my damn calendar still plays funny and didn't show the holiday. so some people bokked me a meeting for this af'noon... pants...

I really want to get rid of all this... may be PAC's aspiration of living and working as a sea lamps guardian isn't too bad...

ciao...

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Kemplerer Rosettes

here's something that I've always wanted to be able to do: solar system building... do you know about lagrangian points? if you don't, and you aren't really interested, then I'd suggest you to skip to the next post. But if you are, and you happened to read Larry Niven's Puppeteers saga, aka "The known space", youll love this website...

let's see if I can embed one of the java applets... YES!!! click on it, and start the simulation ;-)


















impressive, isn't it? the two planets at the lagrangian points are in stable positions, but since their mass is a little too much compared to the central one, they become unstable with time... and one of them ends up thrown away from the system (the pink one)

now be good boys, and visit the page linked there's much more fun to be had!!!

(and this includes a kemplerer rosetta of 48 planets!!!)

Home, sweet home...

No work today... as promised, I'm at home, enjoying the many vacation days left in my pocket thanks to the crazy elgian work system...

all of us at work have so many days to take that we don't know how to do... I mean, there's work to be done...

anyway, here I am, in my salon writing up my thesis... I've corrected/extended a good chunk of chapter ten, science is fun 'cause while reading what you wrote jus some days ago, and back then it did look allright, you're brought to question yourself.

yeah, right, all this I'm reading sounds good, but how do you justify these assertions? and then, down to extend, show your data in new ways, inventing new analysis methods, and so on...

it's heavy, but it's fun, serious!!! I swear!!! wanna take a piece?

I know i'm like Tom Sawyer in front of that palisade, convincing other boys that painting was cool and they would be moron if they didn't want to pay him to have the opportunity of painting a tiny bit.

so here I am, is there anybody who wants to give me a hand with my thesis? let's say, correct one or two paragraph? :-D

never mind, I'll manage myself...

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Sea Spiders


First, I didn't know they existed... if I were to tell my ex, she'd never go to the sea again (ah ah!!!)... In second place, they seems rather interesting (evo-devo-speaking) creatures...

click on the link to discover more about their origins :-)

I'm busy busy busy today

Tomorrow it's holiday (kind of, I'll spend the next two days writing up the damned tenth chapter of my thesis), and I had a deadline last monday which got pushed 'cause of unforeseen tasks to perform... anyway, here I am blogging in the nook and crannies of pipeline pilot scripting... and swearing all the way since some databases don't want to behave...

I leave you with a funny picture:

Geo-Stationary Banana Over Texas


wow, now that's an idea...

a banana-shaped baloon to float above Texas' atmosphere... I guess they want to hint something...

Isn't he cute?

a new mammal has been found in Laos, a member of a class thought to be extionct 11million years ago... isn't he cute? a rat-squirrel...







I want one... that is, if it can be bred in captivity... wouldn't that be someting? unlike many animals, it would escape extinction by becoming a pet...

thans to PalaeoBlog

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Pearls Before Swine


Whatever this may mean... it's a very funny on-line comic. unfortunately, only the last month can be read for free, but it will provide you with a funny half hour. enjoy!

chimpanzees aren't

the most intelligent primates... surprisingly (for me at least), a new paper has come out that ranks primates' average cognitive abilities as tested bya series of tests. Orang-utans arrive first... chimps are only second, and blah blah... full list below;

1. Orang-utan
2. Chimpanzee
3. Spider monkey
4. Gorilla
5. Surili
6. Macaque
7. Mandrill
8. Guenon
9. Mangabey
10. Capuchin
11. Woolly monkey
12. Gibbon
13. Baboon
14. Slow loris
15. Night monkey
16. Ruffed lemur
17. Brown lemur
18. Fork-marked lemur
19. Ring-tailed lemur
20. Bushbaby
21. Squirrel monkey
22. Mouse lemur
23. Marmoset
24. Talapoin

we don't feature in the list, you might have noticed... possibly 'cause we don'ty really belong there...

I wonder how did they weight the importance of different tests. I guess they say it in the paper, but I don't have the time to read it...

Mapping my friends... again...

In the morning...


...what's best than a Hot Cup Of Joe? PalaeoAnthropology a go-go, babe... ;-

Monday, November 13, 2006

Kiwi!!!

a moving movie...



they can really fly!!!

My bro's place

let's see if I can manage to show it on the map...

Jeremy Clarkson reviews the BRERA!!!


Jeremy Clarkson blurbs and rants about global warming for the first part of his weekly commentary on Times Online. Sigh! I wish I could believe him, but quite frankly, I can't. On the second part, tough, he introduces us to his thoughts about Alfa prettiest coupe... the Brera...

I've seen it a couple of times at the dealer, and zooming around the city... very pretty car, although it looks kind of heavy...

ciao ciao... more news to come about my weekend, when I get round to it...

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Hunters of Pangea


Stephen baxter introduced some dinosauroid (anthropomorph dinosaurs) in his book Evolution, as a nice aside to the main plot of primates evolution... His charcaters were most likely inspired by the (fictitious) dinosauroid reconstruction made by Russell & Séguin (1982), in turn inspired by the novel The Dragons of eden by carl Sagan (must get it).

The dinosauroids were popular some time ago, and I saw them for the first time in Riddle of the Dinosaur by John Noble Wilford.

Now, Darren Naish at Tetrapod Zoology has a wonderful post about them, and how much they were likely to have (not) existed...

pity... Anyway, i'll buy baxter's book once it's out.. for the moment, enjoy the Dinosauroids!

Galactica drowns

oh my god, I managed to see it... the sixth episode, I mean...

Apollo goes from fat to perfect six-pack in one episode... how can he do so? may be he's a Cylon...

and Baltar, confronted with the option to die for his humanity, willingly tells the cylons where to go and look for earth... then, there's the visibile pulsar, in the lion-shaped nebula... I didn't know Lion were diffused on a galactic level... may be we should stop all conservation efforts, here on Earth... after all, the galaxy is full of Lions... and cheetas, and zebras, and so on...

and, Cylons are arriving, having decided that this is their perfect holiday place. I hope they will not nuke historical cities in Italy, at least...

what else? oh, baltar is told by a cylon that they see reality as they like, a bit like the guy in Noir, that dreadful cyber-punk novel... or some Egan's short story of which I don't remember the title right now... and since he lives in a world of his own, he starts wondering whether he's a cylon or not. and does not enquire any longer on the mistery of the five missing cylon models... bah...

oh, I forgot... he volonteers to go and explore the base-ship which has fallen in the nebula, with all their crew apparently taken over by a disease... after all, he's a scientist, he can do nifty observations - that is, take a blood sample, snap some piccies with his digital camera, and strangle the only cylon left alive... urgh... how's that for science?

oh, yes, he discover the beacon which apparently made them sick, but he doesn't bother to study it any better... and the cylons, with their image-processing prowess, second only to those guys at CSI, find out anyway about it... urgh...

how can this series be plunging so desperately into a black hole? sob...

I better wait for the next ep of DH...

or, may be I should switch over to Lost.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Galactica...

may be I'll find the time to watch it, tonight. yesterday I just had to watch Desperate Housewives... and it was a very good episode, with one of the characters I liked most being shot to death in the blink of an eye... sigh...

Unleashing Darwin's Radio

Darwin's radio is one of Greg Bear masterpieces.

One day, some viruses who's been sleeping for million of years inside our DNA, wakes up and causes a bout of accelerated evolution all over the world. Pity that the book, wonderfully researched and constructed, falls short to deliver a decent end, with the 'next stage' of human evolution composed of children which know how to talk since their birth (and ok), express sentiments through facial colored patches, and have two lips and two tongues, which apparently enables them to conference-call natively... urgh...

anyway, the book dwelves deeply into the subject of HERV, Human Endogen RetroViruses, and here's Carl Zimmer writing on the NY Times about how some french lads (and gals) have been able to re-create one of them and free it from our DNA, where it's been embedded since the dawn of times... they called it Phoenix, like the mytical bird which is born again from its own ashes... I apologise for falling prey of the Frankenstein complex, but et's hope we will not burn ourselves with this new technology...

Hubble lives again!!!

A very interesting article, from the NY Times as usual, talking about the new repair and servicing mission to the battered Hubble Space Telescope.It also gives a nice perspective look to its whole story... kudos to NY Times for putting up such good stuff for free... ok they require registration but I can assure you they do not send you spam.

Study Sees ‘Global Collapse’ of Fish Species

no time for long blogging today... meeting and work are pulling me away...

but I can't leave you without food for your brain, the only one that doesn't decrease our life expectancy (according to my previous post).

so, here is an article of NY Times (again) reporting on some scientist warning us that the ocean(s) global ecosystem may collapse beyond repair by 2050 or so, if nothing is done to address the issue of overfishing and general destruction of marine habitat...

I've been looking into this for a while, and have learned that it's better to avoid certain kind of prawn, which are being fished to extinction... some fisheries, like atlantic salmon, are already very much diminished, whereas the kamchatka salmon is well and good 'cause the whole region was subject to heavy military use by the soviets during the cold war. funny how the human activity reputed most distructive very often ends up being the most respectful of the environment - if you don't consider the leftover of it, such as heavy metal poisoning the ground... but nature has its own way of tackling these problems, with time...

enough, back to modeling before a double meeting... see you soon!

Monday, November 06, 2006

Eat Less, Live More

Why does the world have to go against me? Ok, I love cooking, and as a consequence I love eating...

and I've always lived in the illusion that, supposed that I do enough exercise, i will not suffer any adverse effect from this... But no, some scientist confirmed (it was known since long time) that eating a low-calorie diet can dramatically increase your age-expectancy...

mouse fed 30% less, live 40% longer... not only, they tend to suffer less from old-age diseases... same apply to animals all across the spectrum...

Il troppo stroppia, would say my mum... it's true for spices, but most of all for the food we spice it with...

click on the link (or the title) for the full NY Times story...

note: written while emptying a vase of yogurth...

...and, we're back!

I'm, back from this long holiday 'bridge'. Didn't get round to have an Hallowen party with my GF, but we went to the ardennes or almost there, then off to mechelen to check out whether or the city, where we might move to next year, is nice. It is.


here's some piccies of the market square, which as every saturday is full of shops... we didn't buy anything there, but I fell in love of a nice yellow 'cappotto' of which I made present to marie... It fits her nicely... but no piccies of her with it, sorry :-P


I did quite like the city, it's very old style, definetly nicer than Turnhout, and very very close to Bruxelles, which makes for a very nice evening life, but also for expensive rent. but what the hell! I hope it will be worth the hour that I'll have to spend in the train every morning to get to work...

edit: sorry for the crappy mobile phone piccies, but my camera was out of memory... no, I wasn't running a homemade program on its meagre processor... I just foprgot home the compact flash card...

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Lasagne

Last saturday some girl-friends willfully offered their hands to me, just to taste once again my wonderful pastalforno, also known as Lasagne(sorry, no piccies of them)... being my pretty lady there, I could not accept any of these offer (I'm glad for receiving them though!), but I nonetheless promised that I'd let them know how to prepare their own...

and here I am.

let's start. You need three things, other than slab-shaped pasta, to make a good dishful: ragu', a.k.a. Bolognese, Besciamella's sauce, which sounds italian but it's french in origins, and some more fillings.

First, the ragu': my mum makes it light, so get away from pre-made bolognese sauce you can buy in the market, they're just choke-full of meat and waaay too heavy. just get some minced meat, beef but also pork or turkey are good choices, let's say 200gr. that should be enough to make a lot of sauce. last time, I stir fried 200gr of turkey with some oil, finely chopped onion, a leaf of laurel and a garlic clove until the meat was cooked. then i poured in a big can of tomatoes (800gr). after that, you're pretty much done. add salt as you like, and may be some nut-meg powder. add whatever spice you like 'cause the more, the merrier the sauce. do not exagerate with quantities, though. spices are there to enhance flavour, not to cover everything else. this is particularly true for chilli. I dropped a whole dry chilli in the sauce. let it simmer until the tomato is cooked, and the sauce is not too thick... I'd give you a viscocity number but have no viscosimeter in my kitchen (yet)...

Then the besciamella/bechamelle... you can buy it, sure, but it's not worth a dime compared to the one you can make yourself: you just need butter, milk, flour and nutmeg (again!)... melt the butter and make a slurry (chemical term for paste) with the flour... let's say 50gr of butter, one spponful of flour... once the slurry is homogeneous, add the milk slowly, keeping the whole thing warm, but not boiling.
always stirring to avoid the flour to aggregate, add some nutmeg powder, then a pince of salt. stir and stir and stir while the milk evaporates, until the sauce reaches the correct viscosity... now you're in business!

oh, you need the filling, I'd go for cooked/roasted ham slices, and some more cheese - emmenthal is a good choice, or some grated mozzarella for pizza.

and the pasta, of course, emiliane barilla or whatever brand you favour...

just layer them down raw, or pre-cook them if you think one of your sauces is a bit too thick and may not have enough water to cook them once in the oven...

anyway, now layer down in a square oven pan, alternating them, ragu''n'besciamella (mix them with a spoon, pasta, ham'n'cheese, and again and again... after four or five layer, you should have enough...

layer some pasta on the top, and cover the whole thing with the leftover ragu'n'bechamelle... don't exagerate...

now, you can keep it in the fridge for half a day or some more, to let the sauces permeate the pasta...

or if you're in a hurry, just pre-heat the oven at 180, and stick the pan inside for, like, 45 minutes...

check half way through, the sauces should start to boil away, and the pasta on top should not burn, but get colored...

then the bell rings, take it out and enjoy!!! ciao!

...and, we're back!

back from the halloween crazy...

I've been to the ardennes, for a day of snooping around, and cooking. I did get a pheasant and I stuffed it with vegetables, and slammed it in the oven for one hour and a half...

my GF was doubtful at first, noticing how the poor thing stank...

but after roasting it, the bloody stench went away, and she chopped away at her part...

pity she didn't like it stuffed with apples... next time will look for some recipes on the i.net to make it better.

or may be i'll look for some other meat...

biche?

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

thirteeen scary things for halloween

it's a very american-centered article, but ehy, what the hell, it's fun to read... or scary, since all the people depicted in there are real...

so, there you go, the scariest candidate president, the scariest judge, the scariest eco-vandal, and so on...

ciao ciao for today, I'm off to Liege/Luik for a short span of holidays, and thesis-writing...

MC Hawking

click on the link, then "Watch this movie", and enjoy an Justice League-style cartoon of Stephen Hawking defeating those fundamentalist pussies!!! yahey!!! Go, Dr Astro!!! (rather unimaginative name, though)

thanks to James Hrynyshyn, lost in the Island of Doubt (I guess that's somewhere in the sea of uncertainty)

too busy to damn blog...

sorry guys, I've been to busy these days to blog. may be coming ones when i'll be home writing up. who knows?

in the meantime, enjoy the gallery on the right hand side. history and good food from the ardennes ;-)



and my mid-summer visit to Luxembourg with some cousins... ;-)

Monday, October 30, 2006

the working bee...

Ehy, it's been a long time... and now I'm back with an interesting pointer to Carl Zimmer's latest post in his Loom... the bees genome has been sequenced, and may shed lights on how genes do interact to form not only a complex organism, but also a complex society...

follow the link and enjoy! 18 big papers in Science/Nature/GenomeResone week due to the completion of this study! wow! that's a buzz!!!

as for me, light work week this one. only two days, today and tomorrow, then off to my GF place to enjoy some holidays, but mostly writing up. I hope to have a tenth chapter ready in two weeks at the most. and may be submit by Xmas. wouldn't that be nice?

Friday, October 27, 2006

Wild Rabbit with Wild Mushrooms and Red Wine

This artistic picture shows the back of a wild rabbit (ventral side, you can see the kidneys if you squint)... I grabbed it on my way home from the pool. Grabbed from the market, I didn't stop hunting in the common park, thank you...

Anyway, it was already clean... I just dropped the chopped courgettes and wild mushrooms in the same wok, some oil and a liberal sprinkle of salt and pepper, and started the fire...

once the vegetables (and the fungi) were softened, i did add some red wine and cooked until the meat would detach itself easily from the bones... still some juice frm the wine and the cooking water...

as a final touch, coarsely chopped parsley, rosemary and basil, and a spoonful of moutarde de dijon...

it did taste wonderful, believe me!!!

had I had more time (and more rabbit too), I'd have stewed it in casserole with some juicy cream...

US Marines censorship

Apparently, the USMC is censoring the web-access for its soldiers. I think: fine, they're cutting down porn - what's left on the soldier list then? news? duh!

no, really, they're censoring left-leaning websites too...

but read this ina positive light: if they're censoring, someone in the USMC did show interest towards that... So, maybe there's still hope for a decent-minded USofA...

and now i stop ranting, and get back to work...

PalaeoBlog

Uhm, dinosaurs... can you ask for something better, after lunch? well, ok, something else may be... but I'll stay happy with dinosaurs...



a blog to stick in your bookmarks/favourites... ;-)

no, what's shown in the picture is NOT a dinosaurs... just one of their descendants...

Again, on maps...

Some time ago, shelley at retrospectacle posted a piece about a research in PNAS showing how english cab-driver do have an enlarged hyppocampus, the portion of our brain in charge of navigation... I did pick up the news and posted on my turn, too...

Now, here's a new paper about navigational abilities (and not). This time, the researchers have looked at navigational stratehgies of male/female, either straight or homosexuals. And they've apparently found out that gay males do use the same strategies than girsl use, i.e. less reliant on compass and a map, and more on landmarks...

They conclude that gay men's brains are a patchwork of female and male charachteristics, and therefore gay-ness is gen-related. How they make the logical jump, I'm not sure, since I can't see the reason why they rule out environmental effects on the development of said navigational abilities...

it's nature vs nurture all over again...

thanks to GrrlScientist

Whales...

Darren naish has three interesting posts about rorquals, i.e. whales which fill their mouth of water (and other stuff) to feed, such as the Blue Whales... the techniques is called lunge-feeding, and that's why these whales have such huge mouths... the adults blue whales' jaws, at seven metres each, are the largest single-piece bone of all animal world.

One, two, and three

:-)

edit: as Darren correctly points out, not all rorquals lunge-feed.

edit2: I once dreamed of swimming with whales off the coast of canada. It's been the start of my new life :-)