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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.

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,


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.


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... :-{


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.


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


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.