Monday, October 11, 2010

The Family Circus - The Movie

I thought things were going downhill when I saw Yogi Bear was getting a live action reboot.

I thought things were as bad as they could be when I saw the Smurfs were getting a live action reboot.

But this. This is just unnecessary.

"EXCLUSIVE: 20th Century Fox has teamed with Walden Media to buy rights to Bil Keane's venerable syndicated comic strip The Family Circus, and they've hired Bob Hilgenberg & Rob Muir to script a live action feature. John Baldecchi and Stacy Maes are producing. Bil Keane started the strip in 1960 and continues to generate the single-panel script with his son Jeff. It is the most widely syndicated strip in the world, according to King Features. A number of studios competed for the rights for what is envisioned as a multiple quadrant family franchise. Though several members of the Keane clan have become film animators, Bil Keane resisted making a film deal all these years. Producer Baldecchi spent two years trying to track them down. He got Keane's number, but never had his messages returned. One day, Baldecchi called and Keane picked up the phone. He made enough of an impression that Keane introduced the producer to his son Jeff. Soon they had an agreement to move forward and then studios got involved. I'm told the deal was six figures against seven-figures and went to Fox and Walden, which are partnered in the upcoming The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader.

Among other projects, the writers worked with Baldecchi on their comedy script Scared Guys, about a couple of agoraphobic roommates who have to venture out of their building and across the street to prevent a murder."


Thursday, October 7, 2010

Odd Pulses of Light => Aliens Perhaps?

"An astronomer picked up a mysterious pulse of light coming from the direction of the newly discovered Earth-like planet almost two years ago, it has emerged.

Dr Ragbir Bhathal, a scientist at the University of Western Sydney, picked up the odd signal in December 2008, long before it was announced that the star Gliese 581 has habitable planets in orbit around it.

A member of the Australian chapter of SETI, the organisation that looks for communication from distant planets, Dr Bhathal had been sweeping the skies when he discovered a 'suspicious' signal from an area of the galaxy that holds the newly-discovered Gliese 581g.

The remarkable coincidence adds another layer of mystery to the announcement last night that scientists had discovered another planet in the system: Gliese 581g - the most Earth-like planet ever found.

Dr Bhathal's discovery had come just months before astronomers announced that they had found a similar, slightly less habitable planet around the same star 20 light years away. This planet was called Gliese 581e.

When asked about his discovery at the time Dr Bhathal admitted he had been really excited about what he had possibly stumbled across.

He said: 'Whenever there’s a clear night, I go up to the observatory and do a run on some of the celestial objects. Looking at one of these objects, we found this signal. 

'And you know, I got really excited with it. So next I had to analyse it. We have special software to analyse these signals, because when you look at celestial objects through the equipment we have, you also pick up a lot of noise.'

He went on: 'We found this very sharp signal, sort of a laser lookalike thing which is the sort of thing we’re looking for - a very sharp spike. And that is what we found. So that was the excitement about the whole thing.'

For months after his discovery Dr Bhathal scanned the skies for a second signal to see whether it was just a glitch in his instrumentation but his search came to nothing.

But the discovery of Earth-like planets around Gliese 581 - both 581e and 581d, which was in the habitable zone - has also caught the public imagination.

Documentary-maker RDF and social-networking site Bebo used a radio telescope in Ukraine to send a powerful focused beam of information - 500 messages from the public in the form of radiowaves - to Gliese 581. 

And the Australian science minister at the time organised 20,000 users of Twitter to send messages towards the distant solar system in the wake of the discoveries.

And Dr Steven Vogt who led the study at the University of California, Santa Cruz, today said that he was '100 per cent sure ' that there was life on the planet.

The planet lies in the star's 'Goldilocks zone' - the region in space where conditions are neither too hot or too cold for liquid water to form oceans, lakes and rivers.

The planet also appears to have an atmosphere, a gravity like our own and could well be capable of life. Researchers say the findings suggest the universe is teeming with world like our own.

'If these are rare, we shouldn't have found one so quickly and so nearby,' 

'The number of systems with potentially habitable planets is probably on the order of 10 or 20 per cent, and when you multiply that by the hundreds of billions of stars in the Milky Way, that's a large number. There could be tens of billions of these systems in our galaxy.'

He told Discovery News: 'Personally, given the ubiquity and propensity of life to flourish wherever it can, I would say that the chances for life on this planet are 100 percent. I have almost no doubt about it'.

The planet is so far away, spaceships travelling close to the speed of light would take 20 years to make the journey. If a rocket was one day able to travel at a tenth of the speed of light, it would take 200 years to make the journey.

Planets orbiting distant stars are too small to be seen by telescopes. Instead, astronomers look for tell-tale gravitational wobbles in the stars that show a planet is in orbit.

The findings come from 11 years of observations at the W. M. Keck Observatory in Hawaii.

The planet orbits a small red star called Gliese 581 in the constellation of Libra. The planet, named Glieseg, is 118,000,000,000,000 miles away - so far away that light from its start takes 20 years to reach the Earth.

It takes just 37 days to orbit its sun which means its seasons last for just a few days. One side of the planet always faces its star and basks in perpetual daylight, while the other is in perpetual darkness.

The most suitable place for life or future human colonists would be in the 'grey' zone - the band  between darkness and light that circles the planet.

'Any emerging life forms would have a wide range of stable climates to choose from and to evolve around, depending on their longitude,' said Dr Vogt who reports the find in the Astrophysical Journal.

If Gliese 581g has a rocky composition similar to the Earth's, its diameter would be about 1.2 to 1.4 times that of the Earth. It's gravity is likely to be similar - allowing a human astronaut to walk on the surface upright without difficulty."

Good thing we have that alien ambassador now.

Monday, October 4, 2010

U.S. Apologizes for Guatemala STD Experiments

"U.S. government medical researchers intentionally infected hundreds of people in Guatemala, including institutionalized mental patients, with gonorrhea and syphilis without their knowledge or permission more than 60 years ago.

Many of those infected were encouraged to pass the infection onto others as part of the study.

About one third of those who were infected never got adequate treatment.

On Friday, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius offered extensive apologies for actions taken by the U.S. Public Health Service.

"The sexually transmitted disease inoculation study conducted from 1946-1948 in Guatemala was clearly unethical," according to the joint statement from Clinton and Sebelius. "Although these events occurred more than 64 years ago, we are outraged that such reprehensible research could have occurred under the guise of public health. We deeply regret that it happened, and we apologize to all the individuals who were affected by such abhorrent research practices."

Secretary Clinton called Guatemalan president Alvara Cabellaros Thursday night to reaffirm the importance of the U.S. relationship with the Latin American country. President Barack Obama called Cabellaros Friday afternoon, according to a statement from White House press secretary Robert Gibbs.

"The people of Guatemala are our close friends and neighbors in the Americas," the government statement says. "As we move forward to better understand this appalling event, we reaffirm the importance of our relationship with Guatemala, and our respect for the Guatemalan people, as well as our commitment to the highest standards of ethics in medical research."

During a conference call Friday with National Institutes of Health Director Francis Collins and Assistant Secretary of State Arturo Valenzuela, officials noted that there were no formalized regulations regarding protection of human studies during the 1940s.

In addition to the apology, the U.S. is setting up commissions to ensure that human medical research conducted around the globe meets "rigorous ethical standards." U.S. officials are also launching investigations to uncover exactly what happened during the experiments.

The episode raises inevitable comparisons to the infamous Tuskegee experiment, the Alabama study where hundreds of African-American men were told they were being treated for syphilis, but in fact were denied treatment. That U.S. government study lasted from 1932 until press reports revealed it in 1972.

The Guatemala experiments, which were conducted between 1946 and 1948, never provided any useful information and the records were hidden.

Susan Reverby, a professor of women's studies at Wellesley College in Massachusetts, discovered records documenting U.S. experiments that infected Guatemalans with gonorrhea and syphilis.

They were discovered by Susan Reverby, a professor of women's studies at Wellesley College in Massachusetts and were posted on her website.

According to Reverby’s report, the Guatemalan project was co-sponsored by the U.S. Public Health Service, the NIH, the Pan-American Health Sanitary Bureau (now the Pan American Health Organization) and the Guatemalan government. The experiments involved 696 subjects — male prisoners and female patients in the National Mental Health Hospital.

The researchers were trying to determine whether the antibiotic penicillin could prevent syphilis infection, not just cure it, Reverby writes. After the subjects were infected with the syphilis bacteria — through visits with prostitutes who had the disease and direct inoculations — it is unclear whether they were later cured or given proper medical care, Reverby notes. While most of the patients got treatment, experts estimate as many as a one-third, did not.

Secret testing of Guatemalans may renew minorities mistrust.

The STD experiments were conducted with the cooperation of the Guatemalan government. During that time, the U.S. -- which had a long association with the Guatemalan military -- exerted a powerful influence in the Latin American country, largely in order to protect the interests of the American-based United Fruit Company. In 1954 the U.S. CIA helped overthrow Guatemala’s democratically elected president because of land reforms that opposed the multinational corporation."

Damn, I thought 'Murka was better than that.


Sunday, October 3, 2010

United Nations Appoints Alien Ambassador

"If aliens ever land on Earth there will no longer be any confusion over who will greet them with the news the United Nations is set to appoint an astrophysicist to be their first human contact.

Mazlan Othman is expected to be tasked with coordinating humanity's response to an extraterrestrial visit, if ever required.

The 58-year-old Malaysian will tell a conference next week that with the recent discovery of hundreds of planets orbiting around other stars, the detection of alien life is becoming more and more likely.

Ms Othman, currently the head of the UN's Office for Outer Space Affairs (Unoosa), recently told fellow scientists that mankind needed to be ready to deal with alien contact.
'The continued search for extraterrestrial communication, by several entities, sustains the hope that some day human kind will received signals from extraterrestrials,' she said.

'When we do, we should have in place a coordinated response that takes into account all the sensitivities related to the subject. 
'The UN is a ready-made mechanism for such coordination.'

If the idea is backed it will then head to General Assembly.Plans to make Unoose the coordinating body for dealing with alien encounters are set to be debated by UN scientific advisory committees.

Professor Richard Crowther, head of the UK delegation to the UN committee, admitted recently: '[Ms] Othman is absolutely the nearest thing we have to a "take me to your leader" person.'

In April though Professor Stephen Hawking warned that the alien contact, if it ever comes, may not be as friendly as has been hoped.

In a documentary, the 68-year-old scientist said he imagined aliens arriving in 'massive ships' and could try to colonise Earth and plunder the planet's resources.

'We only have to look at ourselves to see how intelligent life might develop into something we wouldn’t want to meet,' he said.

'I imagine they might exist in massive ships, having used up all the resources from their home planet. Such advanced aliens would perhaps become nomads, looking to conquer and colonise whatever planets they can reach.'

He added: 'It would be 'too risky' to attempt to make contact with alien races. If aliens ever visit us, I think the outcome would be much as when Christopher Columbus first landed in America, which didn’t turn out very well for the Native Americans.'"

Well, I'm glad the UN got that all cleared up.  We can all sleep easy at night knowing that when Mars Attacks becomes a reality, we'll be ready.

Aliens always come in peace.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Awesome Computer Mice

Is your computer desk dull and boring?  Clearly you're in need of a more interesting mouse; check these bad boys out:

1.  Nintendo Mice
Awesome, but looks like it could be uncomfortable at times.
Fuck yeah!

2.  Cursor mice.

3.  The Soap mouse.


4.  Car mice.

5.  Body mice.

6.  Phone mouse.
There's also a keypad mouse.

7.  Mouse mouse.
Best mouse ever.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Five Fantastic Disco Songs

Not only is disco an awesome genre, but with a new study it seems that it can help you snag female attention.

If you haven't had the mind to hit up some disco in the past, here are some of my personal favorites: