Archive for August, 2009

9th Circuit is not insane.

August 27, 2009

Feds seizure of baseball players’ drug tests ruled illegal –

nvestigators looking into steroid use by professional baseball players obtained search warrants and subpoenas for the drug tests results on 10 major league players, but they took the results on 104 players.

The Major League Baseball Players Association sued for the return of the seized results, while the government argued investigators should be able to use them since they were “in plain sight” along with the other results during the search.

I can see why the government would want to use this argument, but it would pretty much eliminate the notion that searches of computerized data are limited to the things you warrant or subpoena says your allowed to search for. Because on most systems, once you have enough authorization to search through one set of files not your own you have enough to search through almost all of them.

I think the 9th also recognized that the government’s approach would make a mockery of many prosecutions for inside-job hacking, where what makes a difference between a regular day at the office and three years in prison is whether your boss said you were allowed to look at those files that your server was perfectly willing to give you.

Mike Ross is, amazingly, not the stupidest person in america.

August 16, 2009

CNN Political Ticker

“I will not force government-run health care on anyone; if there ever is government-run health care, the first ones to sign up should be the president and every member of Congress, including myself”

Uh, Mike? There is. You did. We employ you. You get your health care through the federal goverment. Too bad you don’t want any of your constituents to get the same deal you do.

Martian splash

August 15, 2009

NASA – Oblique View of Victoria Crater

. Opportunity explored the rim and interior of this 800-meter-wide (half-mile-wide) crater from September 2006 through August 2008. The rover’s on-site investigations indicated that the bright band near the top of the crater wall was formed by diagenesis (chemical and physical changes in sediments after deposition). The bright band separates bedrock from the material displaced by the impact that dug the crater.

This view is a cutout from a HiRISE exposure taken on July 18, 2009. Some of Opportunity’s tracks are still visible to the north of the crater (left side of this cutout).

How they got a rover over that rim…

It also looks as if the (very viscous) ejecta is harder than some of the underlying material, and formed overhangs and caves. Wow.

If you can’t build it, buy it.

August 14, 2009

Wood Is the New Bone – Wooden bone – Gizmodo

Italian scientists have developed a new “wood-derived bone substitute” that promises to be better than ceramic or metal implants. They start with a block of wood like red oak, burn it until the block is essentially charcoal and then coat the substance with calcium.

So much for making biomimetic structures. Just take a biological one, tweak the chemistry and off you go.

If this makes sense, why has it taken so long?

August 14, 2009

Bill Gates-funded boffins develop anti-AIDS stealth condom • The Register

Scientists in Utah have developed what they term a “molecular condom”, a type of gel which “turns semisolid in the presence of semen, trapping AIDS virus particles in a microscopic mesh”.
Hence Jay and her colleagues have developed an anti-HIV barrier gel intended for use by women before having sex.

“It flows at a vaginal pH, and the flow becomes slower and slower as pH increases, and it begins to act more solid at the pH of semen,” Jay says.

Or it could be a recipe for some horrible sketch comedy.

Just in case you were wondering whether we live in a theocracy

August 9, 2009

Gov. Culver: Atheist bus ad is offensive | Des Moines Register Staff Blogs

Gov. Chet Culver weighed in on the controversial Des Moines bus ad that has been yanked after multiple complaints.

“I was disturbed, personally, by the advertisement and I can understand why other Iowans were also disturbed by the message that it sent,” Culver said.
Culver also declined to answer if he would also have gotten off the bus had he been a rider, but noted that he would have been offended by the ad’s message.

The Des Moines Area Regional Transit Authority, better known, as DART, began running the ad on the side of some buses this week. It read, “Don’t believe in God? You are not alone,” and was sponsored by the Iowa Atheists & Freethinkers group.

It’s offensive to point out that more than one person in the US doesn’t believe in a singular deity? So offensive that people would be unwilling to ride a bus that had an ad to that effect on it? Words fail me.

The only reason Thomas Jefferson isn’t spinning any faster is that the atoms of his ill-defined surface have reached the speed of light.

Biohacking, nine years later

August 4, 2009

Darning Genes: Biology for the Homebody | h+ Magazine

Primarily interested in the currently fashionable trend of synthetic biology — the creation of novel organisms using genetics and other techniques — they meet in groups, in cities, and unite online. One popular such location is, created by Mackenzie Cowell and Jason Bobe. Meredith Patterson, the doyenne d’DIYbio, recently caught AP’s eye with her pet project — a strain of the bacteria responsible for yogurt that secretes miraculin as a sweetener. While group discourse focuses on genetics and synthetic biology, there are other hot topics, like creating lab equipment using common household items or building a thermocycler for $25


DIYbio is an organization that aims to help make biology a worthwhile pursuit for citizen scientists, amateur biologists, and DIY biological engineers who value openness and safety. This will require mechanisms for amateurs to increase their knowledge and skills, access to a community of experts, the development of a code of ethics, responsible oversight, and leadership on issues that are unique to doing biology outside of traditional professional settings.

Back before that whole nasty terrorism thing, do-it-yourself biology just seemed to be taking off. Now it might be back. Yay!