Gufodotto would like you to read these:

Friday, February 09, 2007

Unhappy Meal

This really deserves a link. Michael Pollan, author of The Omnivore's Dilemma, and The Botany of Desire, takes on the confusion which grips most americans when it comes to food. He starts from the beginning of the '50s and shows how food industry and (bad) journalism have changed the perception of what is good to be eaten.

He focuses mostly on americans, but unfortunately I can see the same thing happening in Italy, notwithstanding the claim that our food is proper food and probably the best balanced diet in the whole world.

Shame on me, in the past few days I ate so many mini-mars-bars... :-(

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Amarone, californian wines..

The NY Times has a piece regarding the Amarone, a wine made from dired grapes which has a very strpng alcohol content - in italian, we call them 'passiti'. The article boasts about californian wines having 17 degrees, but they're just weak if compared to other passiti, italian and not.

Anghelu Ruju, from Sardinia, for example, or Mavrodaphne from Greece, although this last one isn't technically a passito.

Oldest people on Earth...

Here's the hand of a 102 years old sardinian woman, Rosa Frau - nothing to do with germans, have no idea why but Frau is quite a common surname in Sardinia.

Anyway, the picture introduces the subject of the post, which is that we sardinian are one the populations on earth with the most ultra-centenaries, i.e. people with 100 years or more. I personally know a friend who's grandma is now 103 or so, and still kicking ass...

As far as I know, we do share this primate with Kazakhstan, a region where like Sardinia people have a very peculiar diet, which would probably starve to death the average american. or me, for that matter. There's a lot of indications in the scientific literature that a reduced-calories diet may increase your life span... Pity that I love eating... I try to keep my weight and fat percentage under control of course, but I can hardly say that I am doing it for having a longer life.

Uhm, I think i lost my thread... where the hell did I want to bring this post?

see? too much food makes you dumb....

update: nice link on (certified) ultracentenaires - which apparently dispels my previous knowledges. But hey, I'm a scientist, I don't mind changing my mind.

What a shame...

I was looking for info regarding the fact that sardinia and kazalhstan share the oldest populations on earth (I will post about this later on), and came across this Unesco page about the Island of Asinara.

Pity it isn't properly translated, and they didn't even get the name right.

Too Little, Too Late?

What's the point in having a web page today, wehen you have a blog? I don't know. But here it is.

May be it'll come in handy when I want to put up a new CV?

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

I know where you've been last summer

and the previous winter... and the summer before...

Well, I know if you're a girl or a man with long hair. Otherwise I don't.

Ever seen Point Break? the police find out that the bankrobbers must be surfers from the heavy metal content of their hair, pointing to a polluted beach.

Now canadian police is taking the thing further. "When you eat and drink, the isotopes from the water are incorporated into the core of your hair strand, and that isn't changed by bleaching or dying your hair. It remains consistent. It's like a record of your movement," she said. "By taking the hair from the root, we can travel back in time through that person's travel history."
Isn't this incredibly cool?

I guess it's not going to work with men who shave their heads. unless a pretty undercover agent slips into their bed and manages to retrieve some pubic hair.

And there's another problem I can foresee. namely that most people in the western world eat food and drink water produced some thousand of km away. I mean, checking my drawers, the garlic comes from china, the onion from New Zealand, the oranges from Spain and Sicily, the sausages from Sardinia. How will they cope with it?

thanks to the forensic science blog for the heads-up. Way better than any CSI fudge technique.

Let's try Post2Blog

Let's try this new software (Post2Blog). It should automagically allow me to post a pre-formatted entry to the Owl's Hide.

With automagic image placing and upload!!!

howl(which doesn't seem to work, though - let's try w/o piccies)

So let's try!!!

Oh forget it this thing is so crap that even cutting and pasting it in blogspot still would not take the piccie. Pants! Immediate Uninstall!!!

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Cant's stop the signal...

That's Serenity's tagline, I know... But I'm writing this post just to inform you that, yet again, can't finish the 13th episode opf BSG. I just can't. I started it. But there's no way... I got to the point where Atena and Helo have a meaningless discussion, then one of them shoot the other. So lame.

I can't even start watching again Ally McBeal, since Billy died. I am too afraid of such a big change... or may be I'm afraid that nothing will change for the people in the firm... mah...

But I still have some episodes left of The future is Wild, thank God (thanking someone who doesn't exist doesn't really help, uh?) Anyway, this series is just great. Although the ecosystems presented are somehow too simplified... No background noise, if I can make myself clear. It looks like every region only hosts 3 to 4 animals. and a bunch of plants to provide a nice backdrop.

And as I said, the plant's evolution is grossly underestimated. Still, as good as any BBC "The world of..." series.

Now, I wonder...

Scientists at University of Yale have shown that chains assembled from beta amino-acids, instead than alpha as the one our proteins are built from, can show similar properties.

Frankly, the fact does not strike me as a particularly impressive discovery... But I wonder... what if we were to insert this kind of stuff in our body? Would we be able to create novel enzymes able to act on our own biochemical make-up? Would our enzymes be able to work on it? Now, that would be something... here follows the abstract.

thanks to Coturnix for pointing this out.

High-Resolution Structure of a beta-Peptide Bundle

Douglas S. Daniels, E. James Petersson, Jade X. Qiu, and Alanna Schepartz*

Departments of Chemistry and Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut 06520-8107

Received December 4, 2006


We recently reported that beta-peptides can form discrete hetero-oligomers in aqueous solution. Here we describe the structure of such an oligomer as determined by X-ray crystallography. The structure of Zwit-1F reveals a homo-octamer of two cupped "hands" composed of both parallel and antiparallel 314-helices. The core of the assembly is composed entirely of solvent-excluded beta3-homoleucine residues. The Zwit-1F assembly shares many of the physical characteristics of natural proteins.

Monday, February 05, 2007


My Girlfriend kind of shocked me when she told me that the lions in the Rwanda's National Park were killed by shepherd who didn't want the big cats to hunt on the cows, illegally present in the park itself... This is the only link I can find regarding the things or some thing similar... You would think OK, this is Africa so you can't expect people to be reasonable about conservation when they need to feed their children...

But how about the rich US? First in the world they established a national Park, Yellowstone. And now they're taking it down piece by piece... Until 2000, snowmobiles were free to roam inside the park, disturbing animals, but also ruining the experience of more quiet human visitors. Measures to regulate and control the access were put in place, but have been the object of various reversal at the hand of local business and generally Bush-appointed administrators. Now they're trying to triple the number of snowmobiles allowed per day...
Tutto il mondo e' paese, we say in Italy. All the world is the same... Shame.

Children aren't stupid.

Not even creationist children - this comment comes from

Zog showed his 7th and 8th grade parochial school students An Inconvenient Truth. There was a rather heated discussion, where one of his parochial school students openly questioned that God would ever let such a thing happen to us. Before he could sort an appropriate answer through his atheistic brain, the other students took over with a bunch of “What about Noah! Duuuhhhh!”.

Even within their religious frame, these kids had their bullshit detectors on.

Ripp It After Me!!!

Nice utility to manage codec, and easily convert between video/audio file formats. Completely free (as in beer) - as far as I understand it's just a wrapper of codecs and programs such as xvid, vdub and so on...

be aware that it will require some space on the harddrive when working with temporary files.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Clever Genetic Programming

Here's a clever Java applte written by Lee Graham which graphically shows the evolution of a series of strings... incredibly well done, I wish I had done it in fact... excellent screensaver, if you can mnage to run it off-line.

run it and see the genes while they're crossed, mutated, inserted and deleted from/to the string/chromosomes... (rules here)

also great in graham's site is the origin codes, a tongue-in-cheek rebuttal to the bible codes.

thanks to PZ Myers for pointing this out!!!

So, now it's 90% true...

Are we going to do something about it? I thinl not.

Sadly, but "very likely" true, Jeremy Clarkson is right when he says that rather than discussing on how to stop Global Warming, we better focus on trying to solve the problems it will cause. in his words: I am also fearful that unless we stop thinking of ways to prevent global warming, and start to address the problems it will cause when it gets here, our children are going to finish their days in an overcrowded, superheated vision of hell.

But I just don't see China and the US willing to cut down on their economies to avoid the looming disaster. Not that we europeans are withut fault. after ll, we buy stuff from china and pretend low prices, all of which drives their environmentally unfriendly economy.

Pessimism and depression only, on this blog - I'm disilluded... As a species, we could have achieved so much, instead we are squandering the family fortunes and ruining the very same shop which keeps us live. Hopefully, the next species up will do better...