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Thursday, February 22, 2007

Good for a laugh...

I know, I'm late for the party, but will give it a link anyway.

Since wikipedia is apparently too biased, they build their own - surely unbiased, just look up the name... Conservapedia... How this people can hope to pull something like this? May be it's just a prank. Nope. Sadness...

The Sinhas at Nr 43

or the Kumars at Nr 42?

Last weekend I spent it with an indian colleague and family in a chalet in the Ardennes. I realised when I arrived that the flat number was 43. just one number off the famous 42, which main character Sanjeev chose because of the Hitch hikers Guide to the Galaxy.

What a coincidence, uh? I wonder if there's any deeper meaning...


...from Battlestar Galactica :-)

Two weeks without it. more in fact. and I am not feeling the lack of it :-)

I'm going to celebrate buying or downloading "The Good Life", a BBC series which I adored when I was in the UK, where it's constantly re-aired...

Belgian Police sucks

There's no other way of putting it. they must sucks socks...

I was notified a speeding ticket (for a whopping 200 EUR!!!) three months late, may be 'cause it was done on a rental car - and the company, not me, rented the car. so i could have understood if they had had a bit of difficulties to trace me, back then. Anyway, I paid as soon as I got it. and forgot about it.

Last month, i get a call from a secretary or like at the company, telling me that the police is asking them the money (again!!!) and they'll pay and detract it from my salary. I look for the receipt in the online bank service, print it out and send it to them, they say OK it's all fine now. Sod the police.

Now, a policeman phones me up telling me that he absolutely has to talk to me regarding this. they want another copy of the receipt - but I'm pretty sure the belgian government would rather have me pay another time - not a chance in hell - unless this is a new fine - But I seriously doubt it... pof!!!

I hate this place!!!

No wonder French and Dutch make jokes on Belgian being kinda thick... We in Italy make jokes about the policemen bein particularly 'unclever'... may be the union of the two things (a belgian policeman!!!) is the archetype of thickness? mah...

Anyway. I decided to get rid of my car. I know I haven't had it for one year. But I think it's rather pointless to keep it. If I move, and commute by train, it'll stay at home al week long. I will not need it in the weekends since my girflriend will live with me, and we;ll go together to places... so what's the point of paying 400 euros per month? they would be better spent in food, holidays, gadgets. or may be a cradle, in one year's time. who knows, a baby may be on his/her way here from god-knows-where-babies-come-from... ;-)

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

I've run out of space...

On my hard drives (both). External and Internal. So, no more downloads until I get paid, and can afford a shiny new one, or at least a pack of DVDs... pants!!!

on the BloodBrainBarrier

Just today I started working on BBB, or Blood Brain Barrier - and here comes a post from Omics quickly explaining how it works (so that I don't have to) and why Avastin, an antibody avoiding vascular growth which would otherwise feed the tumor, may be able to cross the barrier even if usually antibodies aren't allowed in the Sancta Sanctorum of the human body, the brain - which has its own immune system, apparently.

So, the trick (may be) that the brain tumor itself seems to impair the BBB functionality, so that avastin can slip through... and kill it. Kind of a burglar which leaves open the door of the apartment he's robbing, only to be surprised by a policeman who got curious about the open door. But why does the BBB give in where a brain tumor is growing? Apparently, this may have to do with the fact that the tumor needs to be fed by new capillaries, and for growing this the tight junctions have to be disassembled. Tough chance for the tumor. Good for us, and some hope for those patients who may, one day be saved.

Counterfeiting drugs...

Yesterday's NY Times has a piece on the plague of counterfeited drugs in Asia (and Africa, too). Watch out for those miracle antimalarial - the technique counterfeiters are adopting are quite sophisticate using not only placebos but sometimes active ingredients which 'simulate' the presence of the real drug, or even adding a lil bit of it, just enough to fool fake-detection methods - a practice which could pose an even serious threat, since giving low doses of a strong active is the best way to engender resistance to it.

Damn these bastards. I hope that one day they'll need the very same drugs, and will discover that what they bought was... fake!
But it will not bring back to life person who died at their hands...

As the article points out, a counterfeit alarm system is in place, but without incentives is hardly used.

I am moving

Ehy. I did it. I finally gave notice to my landlady (and her vampyr minion, her housing-agent - pretty lady who sucks my blood) that by May I'll leave the apartment, to tranfer with my girlfriend Marie in Mechelen, or Malines, for the francophones.

I already posted about this nice city, close enough to Brussel so that she'll be able to commute easily, and may be we'll be able to enjoy the nightlife (yeah, right). At the same time, I hope that I'll be able to catch the hourly direct train to Turnhout to come to work. And in the future, since it's so central to Belgium, we may stick there whatever our workplace. let's hope so... It looks very nice.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

The life of tapeworms

Carl Zimmer, who's a knack for parasitology, has an interesting piece about the evolution of tapeworms, commonly known in Italy with their latin name: Taenia.

Also, a nice picture of their evolutionary tree (from the original paper)

So, what?

Audible Magic is selling a software which allows copyright holders to check whether or not someone has uploaded any of their stuff on youtube. So what? do they think they're going to stop people from downloading?

In fact the program is quite easy to fool. Just crop the image. Uhm don't like it, really, I would miss part of the movie. but I have another solution, in fact: juist split the picture in quarters, and scramble them. it isn't going to affect too much the encoding, rebuilding the picture will be easy for players - and I bet their software can't cope wth it. Of course, you'll need to store info on the file somewhere, so that they could still do their trick. and that may be an hassle for people who are used to downloading quickly. still, companies can't play catch and run for ever...

when will they get round the fact that their business model is broken and they've to look for another one? I mean, is it that difficult to ask advertising buyers to pay directly for the production of series and stuff with embedded ads? how can they not see this???

They shot a Robin into Space!!!

Ehy I'm back, after a long lapse due to the weekend in the Ardennes (which has not gone as planned unfortunately - worst than you may think, since the weather was ideal for a long walk in the forest which we were denied by adverse conditions - gr!

Anyway, bak home yesterday, I've seen the latest episode of TopGear: s09e03, for those interested (click on the link to download the torrent :-) ). And, apart from the usual Clarkson's trashing around in an expensive and hyper powered car, the highlight was the attempt of building a no-nonsense, down-to-earth (in all senses) space shuttle from a Reliant Robin (picture below) on the impeccable rationale that it's cheap, and being pointy it already resemble a spaceship.

as you can see, plenty of people think it's suited to become many different things :-)

Anyway, they asked (once again) the help of the Rocketeers, a rocket-fan-club somewhere in England, borrowed a wind tunnel from some University, testing grounds from the Royal Army, and went down there to assemble the whole shebang.

And it did work!!! well, almost... It did lift-off beautifully, with the solid booster detaching themselves at the right moment, just like in the REAL space shuttle, it did turn belly-up to insert into orbit (ah!), but then the explosive bolts supposed to separate the big rocket didn't work out, so that instead of flying down to the grass it tumbled and exploded, leaving a big hole somewhere in northumberland, just off the A68. Well, it was fun!!!

Anyway, here you can check out the whole assembly and stuff. ;-)