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Thursday, August 31, 2006

Bacteriophage

I was watching Regenesis and they were talking about bacteriophages-- viruses that target bacteria. What a cool idea. With antibiotics being countered at every turn imagine that one day your pills were not made of some variant of penincillin, but a whole colony of anti-bacterial viruses. What's more, this isn't a new idea. The Soviets have been working with it since the 1940s! More on this comes from Wikipedia:

A bacteriophage (from 'bacteria' and Greek phagein, 'to eat') is a virus that infects bacteria. The term is commonly used in its shortened form, phage.

Like viruses that infect eukaryotes (plants, animals and fungi), a large diversity of phage structure and function exists. Typically, they consist of an outer protein hull enclosing genetic material. The genetic material can be either RNA or DNA, but is usually double-stranded DNA between 5 and 500 kilo base pairs long. Bacteriophages are usually between 20 and 200 nm in size.

Phages are ubiquitous and can be found in many reservoirs populated by bacteria, such as soil or the intestine of animals. One of the densest natural sources for phages and other viruses is sea water, where up to 109 virions per millilitre have been found at the surface, and up to 70% of marine bacteria may be infected by phages.[1]

Phage Therapy

Phages were tried as anti-bacterial agents after their discovery. However Antibiotics, upon their discovery, proved to be more practical. Research on phage therapy was largely discontinued in the West, but phage therapy has been used since the 1940s in the former Soviet Union as an alternative to antibiotics for treating bacterial infections.

The evolution of bacterial strains through natural selection that are resistant to multiple drugs has led some medical researchers to re-evaluate phages as alternatives to the use of antibiotics. Unlike antibiotics, phages adapt along with the bacteria, as they have done for millions of years, so a sustained resistance is unlikely. Additionally, when an effective phage has been found it will seek out the bacteria and continue to kill bacteria of that type until they are all gone.

A specific type of phage often infects only one specific type of bacterium (ranging from several species, to only certain subtypes within a species), so one has to make sure to identify the correct type of bacteria, which takes about 24 hours. Sometimes mixes of several strains of phage are used to create a broader spectrum cure. An added advantage is that no other bacteria are attacked, making it work similarly to a narrow spectrum antibiotic. However this is a disadvantage in infections with several different types of bacteria, which is often the case. Another problem with bacteriophages is that they are attacked by the body's immune system.

Phages work best when in direct contact with the infection, so they are best applied directly to an open wound. This is rarely applicable in the current clinical setting where infections occur systemically. Despite individual success in the former USSR where other therapies had failed, many researchers studying infectious diseases question whether phage therapy will achieve any medical relevance. There have been no large clinical trials to test the efficacy of phage therapy yet, but research continues because of the rise of multiple antibiotic resistance.

information from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bacteriophage

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

The Tank Is Empty

I love how many people whine in my direction and then take my advice: 70% of my advice.

Our web page doesn't work! Fool: why did you change all of your settings then call me?
I don't have any money! Idiot: you're spending 40 hours per week creating content and posting on stupid-ass websites for free; the same content can be sold for money, like in the old days. Like someone said recently, the crap you see on Youtube.com used to be schilled by Fox and America's Funniest Videos. Pap is still currency. Until someone gets tired of a monkey washing a cat, it always will be. When I wish to, I will post a long list of how-tos for making money on the web on my own website.
I have to get to an online meeting/post some material.
Schmuck: you're leaving a gathering of real people for digital output that simulates people. It's like leaving a party to go to a portrait gallery. The difference with the portrait gallery is that the portraits have artistic merit.
Your plan isn't working! Stupid: of course not. You followed 70% of the plan. It's like a recipe where you're leaving out the flour or the water or another single main ingredient. It's like exercise without dieting; or parachuting without a parachute.

From now on, when people look at me all despondent, I'm going to shrug.
I can't pay my bills. shrug
I can't get a new hard drive. shrug
I can't do my homework. shrug
Why am I so busy, tired and unhappy? Can you please say that louder? This connection to Havanna was worse than the connection to Athens last week or the connection to Phuket the week before that.

You selfishly made your own your own choices-- you exercised a huge amount of will power to flip yourself on your back then passed the suffering onto me. Ditto. You seem to forget that I listen and that I care. Every time you jab me in the neck with your angst, it sticks there like a 12" splinter. I can't stop you from getting into trouble. I can't make you get out of trouble. All I can do is stop caring because you don't care enough to fix your own problems.

I've heard it said that control is only expressed in denial. If you can destroy something you can control it. You make it do what you want of its own volition under threat of destruction. Your boss doesn't make you work hard. He makes you want to work hard or your job will end. If you resist advice, you're able to drive yourself into a wall: to practice control through destruction on your own self. If you submit a manuscript, someone else turns it down. If you don't submit it, you've controlled the point of failure. If you fail to take a driving test, you think you haven't failed the test, you've controlled the result. Everyone I know is welcome to scream into walls and poke holes through their worn garments. I congratulate you on exercising control over your own lives.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Buy Your Galoshes While They're Cheap

I remember in the winter of 1976 watching New Yorkers try to chip the ice in their toilet out with broom handles. They predicted another Ice Age (or was it the Nippy Era?). Thirty years later my latest sculpture partially melts on the weekend. What if there is a cycle that we cannot influence, but ride it out like a wave. That's what Khabibullo Abdusamatov thinks is going on:
MOSCOW, Aug. 25 (UPI) -- A Russian scientist predicts a period of global cooling in coming decades, followed by a warmer interval.

Khabibullo Abdusamatov expects a repeat of the period known as the Little Ice Age. During the 16th century, the Baltic Sea froze so hard that hotels were built on the ice for people crossing the sea in coaches.

The Little Ice Age is believed to have contributed to the end of the Norse colony in Greenland, which was founded during an interval of much warmer weather.

Abdusamatov and his colleagues at the Russian Academy of Sciences astronomical observatory said the prediction is based on measurement of solar emissions, Novosti reported. They expect the cooling to begin within a few years and to reach its peak between 2055 and 2060.

"The Kyoto initiatives to save the planet from the greenhouse effect should be put off until better times," he said. "The global temperature maximum has been reached on Earth, and Earth's global temperature will decline to a climatic minimum even without the Kyoto protocol."

Okay, so what if we get so proactive about global warming that we stop it in its tracks? Then the regular cooling cycle happens and we plunge into super cold temperatures? I am convinced that we have knocked the environment akimbo. What if it's not that we kicked a spinning into the red zone, but instead we knocked it off kilter and its swings to and fro-- temperatures too high and too low in alternating cycles. Or maybe this is Mother Nature's trick: like the occasional forest fire to clean the forest floor. What if Mother Nature is picking off those who cannot surive the cold then two generations laters she picks off those who perish in the heat?

Friday, August 25, 2006

That Play is Bolloxed

I like going to see things cold. I’m dropped into a room and voila the event starts. When I did a lot of movie reviews, most of them went like this. My wife caught word of this play coming to the Fringe play, called Bolloxed. We decided to go. I had a busy week and I didn’t have a chance to look up what this play was about.

So, we sit down in this dimly lit room. If you’ve been to a Fringe play, you know what they’re all about, impromptu locations and Spartan sets. Our Fringe play was held in a private school auditorium. Out comes a guy that looks like an IT guy—kind of hip clothes, kind of lousy physique and he’s itching his balls. It’s quickly revealed that this play is all about the balls, namely our protagonist, Jack, and his aching balls. What’s wrong with them? Could it be cancer? Could it be something even worse? A play about genitals (e.g. Vagina Monologues) is a ticket to low-ball humor (no pun intended) and squeamish introspection. Correction: that’s the case with a play done wrong. Bolloxed is above that ilk. Jack is a programmer from Canada working in Dublin. He meets an Irish girl, Aoife, who is attracted to and suspect of Americans—er, Canadians (we all look alike). From Jack’s perspective we get juxtaposition on Ireland and Irish people vs. life in Canada. From Aoife’s view we get some nifty insights on Canadians and their culture: Beachcombers, hockey and our icy hinterland. Throughout the hatchling relationship, Jack’s problem with his balls persists: a fierce pain and the worry over what it could be. A problem like that can hit you where you live and make intimate encounters… complicated.

This play is witty and smart. Playwright, Darren Barefoot, has a crafted a very tight piece with almost no lags or dud lines. The Fringe sometimes plays host to experimental material and it’s important to note that Bolloxed is ready for prime time. Through the deft use of lighting, sound effects and a few props, the missing scenery is well implied. The actor playing Jack, Paul Drexler, holds his role throughout. Mercedes Dunphy plays Aoife as well as all of the other supporting roles—a lazy eyed doctor, a Bulgarian programmer and other roles. Drexler is excellent as but then he has a simpler job: one role, he gets all of the laughs and he’s has an attachment to the material (hey, I’m attached to my sack, every guy is). Dunphy is good, but the juggling of roles and the accent makes her performance a little diluted.

Bolloxed is playing throughout the Victoria Fringe then moving over to the Vancouver Fringe.

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Thursday, August 24, 2006

Downtown Victoria: Home to Jaywalkers and Drug Addicts

I made the mistake of going downtown today. I realized that I seldom go into town and its a splash of icy feculant water whenever I do. It took us 20 min. to get from Broughton/Douglas to Broad near Yates by car; likely it would have taken 15 minutes to do so by foot. I did have one happy moment. A ponderously fat man crossed the sidewalk over the course of a couple of minutes. When we were on foot, I saw this large man walk towards us. I "accidentally" turned to my wife and began gesturing and shifting my position thereby blocking the sidewalk (blocking a whole sidewalk? Think about it: a fat man blocking a fat man?) and I kept this man from his destination. Ah... petty, yes, but that's the kind of man I am.
Okay, that's for the jaywalkers. What about the drug addicts and riff raff? All I can say is that as bad as we have it, other places have it much, much worse:
BERLIN (Reuters) - A homeless woman refuses to stop bathing naked in Munich's public fountains despite being repeatedly fined for breaking public nudity laws.

Bild newspaper reported Thursday the 44-year-old woman named "Bille," who weighs more than 300 pounds, can be seen almost every day with her bottles of soap and shampoo bathing in one of the Bavarian capital's 183 public fountains.

"She's already been charged on 21 occasions for such things as causing public disturbance as well as breaking and entering," a Munich police spokesman said.

A social worker told Bild that Bille keeps rejecting a room in a homeless center.

"We can't force her," he said.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

BSG Season Three

Batttlestar Galactica's Season Three can't come soon enough:
Trailer One:


Trailer Two:


Trailer Three:


What freaks me out is that Commander Adama with the moustache looks like a manager from a store I used to work at. So what's more likely? Adama will stare at the screen and say, "Mike: clean up the midway." Or that retail manager will spontaneously order the nearest department store to do a calculation for a jump to light speed.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Resume of a Murderer

So, in reading this resume, I have to ask: are some of the girls he mentions no longer alive? Did he leave off the ones he murdered?

I have an old addage: criminals don't go to jail for all of their crimes, just the ones wherein they were caught.
I'll bet this isn't a proud feat of publicity for the folks at www.job4teacher.com.

This sh*t is bananas. B-A-N-A-N-A-S

This guy took the convienence of putting a Staples next to a Michaels. He bought a bluetooth headset on discount, trucked over to Michaels and bought a styrofoam/fake banana. Then, he mounted the headset bits into the banana.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

The Wicker Man

About 20 years ago I saw the movie, The Wicker Man. With word of the new Nicholas Cage version coming out, it piqued our curiosity. So, we trucked down to Victoria's best video store, Pic-A-Flic. They had a copy of the extended version. Extended?

Flashback to the UK ca. 1972: the government was in a shambles, labour strikes were rampant. This was the breeding ground for the Sex Pistols and punk rock. The film was produced at a time of crisis in the British film industry. The studio in charge of production, British Lion Films, was in financial trouble and was bought out by millionaire businessman John Bentley. In order to convince the unions that he was not about to asset-strip the company, Bentley needed to get a film into production quickly. This meant that The Wicker Man, a film set during early summer, was actually filmed in October; in order to look convincing, artificial leaves and blossoms had to be glued to trees in many scenes. Christopher Lee was extremely keen to get the film made; he and others worked on the production without pay. By the time of the film's completion the studio had been bought out by Michael Deeley. At a private screening, he described the film as one of the worst 10 films he'd ever seen. Cuts were made and a copy of the film was sent to American film producer Roger Corman in Hollywood to make a judgement of how to market the film in the USA. In Britain, the film was cut again and eventually released as part of a double bill (with Don't Look Now). Despite Lee's claims that the cuts had butchered the film's continuity, the film met with critical acclaim and won first prize in the 1974 Festival of Fantastic Films in Paris. Sometime thereafter, the original negatives and the only print of the first cut of the film were 'lost'. The film as it was originally released is an 87-minute cut. A partially restored version (which contains scenes recovered from a videotape of the version sent to Roger Corman) runs 99 minutes. You can tell where the video elements were worked back in. Regardless, this version is much better than the version I recalled which-- from ca. 1986-- was likely the shorter and much choppier version.
There is a lot of music in this movie. So much so that it also pass itself off as a musical. It has spawned a huge cult following and almost winds itself as readily through the foundations of pop culture as Eraserhead or Reservoir Dogs:
  • Scottish band Summerisle is named after the island featured in the film.
  • The Coral paid homage to the film in the video of their Top 40 hit "Goodbye" in 2002.
  • Cilento subsequently married Shaffer.
  • Sneaker Pimps did a version of Willow's song they titled "How do" on their debut release, Becoming X. Doves, Isobel Campbell, Anna Oxygen and Faith and the Muse have also covered the song.
  • Iron Maiden have recorded a song entitled "The Wicker Man" as have Pulp, the Pulp version containing a sample from the film. Coincidentally, Bruce Dickinson, lead singer of Iron Maiden, recorded his own original song called "Wicker Man" in 1997, four years before his reunion with the band and the recording of the Iron Maiden song of the same name.
  • English band Candidate made a 2002 album, Nuada, inspired by The Wicker Man.
  • "The Wicker Man" is shown in the background on TV in Danny Boyle's Shallow Grave.
  • A full-size, burning Wicker Man appears in the background of the "End of the World" Party in the film version of "The Rules of Attraction".
  • The image of the burning wicker man is a recurring motif in the final stages of the comic series The Invisibles. A screen showing the final scene in the film is used in the psychological de-programming of one of the characters (D.I. Jack Flint)
  • In Eli Roth's Hostel, a cover of "Willow's Song" from The Wicker Man plays during a sex scene. The "Willow's Song" scenes in The Wicker Man and Hostel share a theme of seduction and entrapment in a foreign land.
  • Iron Maiden released the song "The Wicker Man" on their album Brave New World (2000).
  • In the MMORPG, World of Warcraft a festival called "Wickerman Festival" (in an homage to the film) is held in the Undead capital of Undercity in the month of October.
  • Cedric Bixler-Zavala of The Mars Volta has the Wickerman tattooed onto the back of his right forearm.
More than these, all of this music has spawned a movement called, Psych folk, Psych folk or Psychedelic folk is a music genre that originated in the 1960s through the blending of folk music and psychedelic rock or pop. Psych folk generally favors acoustic instrumentation although it often incorporates other instrumentation. Chanting, early music and world music influences are often found in psych folk. Much like its rock counterpart, psychedelic folk is known for a peculiar, trance-like, and atmospheric sound. Its lyrics are often concerned with such subjects as the natural world, love and beauty and try to evoke a state of mind associated with the effects of psychedelic drugs. However, drug associations are not as important to psych folk as they are to psychedelic rock.

I went to the MySpace site (ug, I actually went to a MySpace site...) for DeVotchKa and they have samples of their music. It's wild stuff. If they have anything Creative Commons, I will grab it for fitting BG music for my videos.

Oh, and if you're thinking about going to the Nicholas Cage film, I'd say save your time and buy the DVD of the original.

sources: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DeVotchKa, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Wicker_Man

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Times Past

I get really melancholy about the past. History distorts the past and loses the foundations-- the people. The people from the past are the real historians. They lived back then: their comfort and suffering is one of the largest things of interest to us-- even if we don't realize it. In October of 2004, I lost my second to last link to the past. I have a great aunt of that vintage and I should spent more time with her.
The Library of Congress has released a series of photos-- color photos of people from the 30's and 40s'. They show the mundanes lives of people from this era. I think each of them is more signifigant that the flag raising of Iwo Jima-- after all, almost everyone has dinner and smiles for the camera.
I think it's very humbling to see they photos. Get rid of the circus folk who think they're fashionable. Get rid of the idiots with cellphones. They remainder look the same from generation to generation. What we miss from these photos are the people's stories: how things are the same even when everything seems to change.
If we lose that detail we think we're the only generation to have hatred and suffering; the only ones to experience loss and misdirection; the only ones to worry about tomorrow or believe the end is nigh.

If you want to see how people lived their lives in the past: check them out.



Don't Tell Them About the Wheels


These guys are running an injured player off of the field. Too bad they forgot to mention to the medics that the stretchers have wheels.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Over to you, Jon Stewart


At the end of the Daily Show, Jon Stewart tosses it to Stephen Colbert. What if they did it the other way...

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Bad Things Happen To Stupid People

I got a post via a Victoria newsgroup:
Anyone know what's up with the CDI offices downtown?
They're clearing out, with desks & monitors going for cheap
(and, from the look of them, deservedly so).
CDI Kaput? Following in the footsteps of Computermaster and so many other technical "schools" in the region, CDI's Victoria "campus" has shut down. I went to the CDI site and looked up their British Columbia location. No longer was there a mention of the Victoria location. So, it appears there's a fire sale at their old offices: equipment, furniture, a diploma gestetner-- you name it. The rest of the branches are still alive from the looks of it. I don't know how the other branches conducted themselves, I only have experience from this branch.

There are two more IT technical boils in the city to be popped. One of them steals content and makes unpaid interns do janitorial duties instead of hone their trade. The other is run by a chimpanzee who didn't know how to turn on a computer, he tried to get a company I worked for build a site to steal financial data. When I saw this ape on the local news announcing a new program at his "college" my jaw dropped. I thought, "he's running a tech college?" This wasn't a case of the inmates running the asylum-- the bedpan was running the show.

Update: The chimp run tech college is closing too! No word as to the date for their clearance sale. Rest assured: I will gloat when the time comes. Do you want to be part of the fun? Here's a cache of the Bay Centre location's information. What I've been doing every couple of weeks, is calling them and asking when their stuff does on sale. So far, I've gotten a frustrated, "We don't know yet!" I can't help but feel it must be demoralizing for them to hear the buzzards circle. Try it, it's fun.


Our Organization Is Ready
Originally uploaded by dewolfe0001.
If you want a rundown of tech colleges in town: North Studio, CDI, CompuCollege, Computermaster. Here's to hoping all of the names on this list have something in common with one another.
Back to the fire sale. Why such ichor towards CDI? Let me unspin a tale:

At this aforementioned company, I was able to rise from the rank of salesperson/designer to desginer. Our lead dweeb went out to try to snag the college to do their web design. Why would a school that trained a cadre of new designers need to hire a designer? GOOD QUESTION. Our dweeb came back after an hour or to announce. "They want me to teach their Perl course.... can someone teach it to me?" He wasn't joking. Even though he had a Perl book on his book shelf, he had never cracked it.

When it came time to teach, he would goad a twitchy guy who worked with him to develop sample code. The courses were weekly, he made up a lesson plan on the morning of the course and then pushed twitchy to write the code with 10-20 min. of warning. Oh yeah, that'd be solid code.

When students asked him questions in class that he didn't know the answer, he had favourte phrases:

* "What would you think could be the solution to that?"
* "If I tell you, then you'll know."
* "That's a Perl of great price."

The students liked him, because he challenged them. The college liked him because they didn't know he was full of crap. As he did this work through our company, the money went to our company then he got a cut. Towards the end of his tenture, the dweeb needed more money. He was getting hammered for not paying his taxes. Technically, they weren't his taxes. Years before, he needed a job and he didn't have a social security number so rather than wait, he made up a number and was lucky enough to get one that matched the SIN# checksum. Since then, he was using that SIN# on his taxes. So, the government pounded him for back taxes and started to guaransue his wages. Ever the weasel, he got some of his cheques directly from the college. The college was really comfy with separating hapless kids from their tuitions, so they didn't see a problem separating our company from its revenue.

Eventually, the dweeb fled the country to defraud people in new lands. He left behind students who needed to wrap up their course in mock Perl (mock in that they were they trying to learn Perl for real, but their teacher taught them nothing). He also left behind his "teacher's mug." This crappy mug that he got from the college in gratitude for his great service. Someone at our company found the mug while clearing stuff from the office. He took a hammer, a garbage basket and the mug. He shattered the mug over the garbage can (even while angry he was tidy) and proclaimed, "There's your fucking teacher's mug."

Would I hire a graduate from this college or one of the many colleges like it? Sure: as a janitor. Maybe even as a tire factory employee.
CDI Info on an MSN site (until it's spam bombed, right guy?) and here's someone's court battles vs. CDI.


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