It's not that I dislike American riders ...

Last weekend, Suzuki rider Loris Capirossi managed to break his right (read: throttle) hand. Apparently he's not going to be able to make it back onto the bike in competitive form for the upcoming race in Donnington, and is instead aiming for the following race, Assen. As a replacement for Capirex, the Suzuki GP team is calling up American Ben Spies from AMA Superbike.

Spies (23 years old, from Longview, TX.) is the reigning AMA Superbike champion for Yoshimura Suzuki, and was previously aiming at a GP debut at Laguna Seca's USGP. Fortunately for him, Loris fell off. He'll be joining Aussie Chris Vermeulen on the Rizla Suzuki.

I think this Capirossi quote says it best: "...he shouldn’t get too comfortable on my bike because I want it back soon!" I don't think Loris has too much to worry about, given the state of American riders in this year's world championship so far (Edwards 5th, 73pts out; Hayden 9th, 94pts out; Hopkins 12th, 110pts out).

New website helps you not get ripped off

There's a new site within the series of tubes that's aimed towards helping people not get ripped off by their mechanic. RepairPal allows you to enter the year, make and model of your car, and then select what repair you need to have done (within certain limits). It will then give you a price range, which is based on a number of variables (including allegedly "top secret" price quote data used by shops).

A couple of early limitations I found with the site were a lack of data for older vehicles (neither my 1981 RX-7, nor my 1981 Oldsmobile 98 Regency were listed in the site's database), and a lack of data for all potentially necessary repairs (e.g. there was no data for the replacement of a purge control solenoid for a 2005 Mazda 3, a repair that's quite common).

The benefits to the site more than likely outweigh the above-noted detriments, however. You're able to save data about the repairs you've had done to your car, and export the data as widgets that can be embedded into Craigslist or eBay postings. Handy stuff! As more users enter real-world data, the site will continue to get better as well. Which is why it's important for the blogosphere to make consumers aware of such a site, so it gets the use it deserves!



Canada finally gets iPhone (officially)

WWDC 2008 is going on right now, and Apple officially announced that Rogers and Fido would both be carrying the new 3G iPhone, starting July 11. Of course, no prices (for phone or data plans) have yet been released, but those will trickle down in the near future.

What does this mean for Canada? Nothing, unless you're a neophyte. You see, the digerati in Canada have been rocking out iPhones on Rogers & Fido networks since the initial AT&T release in the USA. Rather, since the first jailbreaking of the AT&T iPhones. It's become such a simple process to jailbreak the phone (45 seconds of your time and a finger are the only things required), that there was no reason to wait for Rogers to start scamming you on data plans. Even though the iPhone SDK is well on its way to producing top-quality, purchaseable apps for the iPhone, I'd still unlock my gadget as soon as I got it home from the Rogers store for the apps that can only be had via Installer.

The main benefit to this, if you ask me, is that the cost of 1st generation iPhones is going to plummet as early adopters hop aboard the 3G train. So while you're rocking out your $100/month data plan, I'll buy your old phone for $100 and just stick to using near ubiquitous WiFi signals for my intertube needs.

Stupid idea #8437

Perhaps I'm being judgmental in calling this a "stupid idea". Perhaps there's a whole legion of sportbike-riding squids who would love to commute daily on their ZX10R's, but refuse to get the tops of their Shoeis wet. Enter: Rocketshields!

Yes, this company has managed to create a product that I didn't even realize was necessary. The Rocketshield creates a "canopy" for your sportbike, and mounts onto stock location (as you can see in the photo). Not only do you look like a giant tool, you also manage to lose the aerodynamic profile that the engineers at Kawasaki worked so hard to gain. And your legs are still open to the weather. As are your hands.

I'm anything but a fair-weather rider: I'll ride in monsoons, if need be (and need usually be, since I live in Vancouver). To maintain my sanity and comfort, I have good rain gear: waterproof pants, a GoreTex overcoat, GoreTex riding boots. It can be cold and miserable, but you usually don't get wet until a semi passes you and gives you some solid lateral spray down your ankles. Never ever ever have I wished there to be a thin canopy over my helmet (which usually does a pretty decent job of keeping my head dry).

As you can tell, I don't get it. Please let me know if you can see the market for this product. Enlighten me, faithful readers!

[Rocket shields via Kneeslider via Hell for leather via Gizmodo]

CTV now owns HNiC theme song

So I've refused to comment on the Hockey Night in Canada theme song saga, because it's been a bit of a non-issue for me. I usually don't manage to turn the hockey game on until halfway through the 1st period (at best), so whether or not they play the music is a bit of a moot point for me. I do value tradition, and all that jazz, but at some point you just have to take things for what they are. It's a song ... a jingle. I miss the "2 Scoops of Raisins" jingle (with Sturdy Dan McGee), but I'm not petitioning my MP for Kellogg's to bring it back (again).

HOWEVER: I was as surprised as anybody when I read this afternoon that CTV Globemedia has bought (in perpetuity) the rights to the HNiC theme (which is hereby known as "The Hockey Theme") for the low low price of an undisclosed amount (though rumours have it between $2.5 and $3million). CBC was paying the composer, Delores Claman $500 per playing, or $1000 per hockey game (twice per show). CTV Globemedia will use the song on hockey games aired on TSN/RDS and during hockey coverage of the upcoming 2010 Winter Olympics.

At $1000 per game, and 2 games per week (on average), with a season lasting from September 29 until June 4 (approximately 37 weeks), we can say that a very very rough average estimate of costs for CBC to use "The Hockey Theme" for the 2007-08 season would be $2000 x 37, or $74,000. Granted, there were playoff games thrown in there as well, so we'll top it off at $100,000 to include those, as well as promotional use of the song. Assuming CTV paid the low estimate of $2.5 million, they'll have to use the song for 25 years to get the same deal CBC had. Again, the math is all very rough and round, but not that far off of reality.

The question becomes: what's the intangible value of the song? Clearly CTV saw it as a chance to steal the hearts of hockey fans away from the public broadcaster, and in terms of big media, $2.5 million isn't a lot of money. If CBC paid the same amount for the same rights, however, would the public be happy with $2,500,000 of their tax dollars going towards a jingle? I suppose we'll never know ...

Ouch: that's gotta hurt

Pedrosa and Hayden did some post-Catalunya testing, again trying to figure out whether to use spring or pneumatic valves on the RC212V in upcoming races. I can't figure out why it's taking Honda so long to get this issue sorted, but I'm sure there's more to it than meets the layman's eye.

So Pedrosa does some laps on the spring-valved bike (best lap time 1:43:48), and then breaks out the pneumatic-valved version. He managed a 1:43:81 before some electrical issues forced him back onto the spring machine. He then managed to high-side on the turn 2 chicane, sending him to the hospital with a bruised back. Nothing too serious, but he does require 48 hours of rest and some anti-inflammatory meds. It'll be interesting to see if this affects his racing at Donnington in a couple of weeks. And a better question: will he blame any poor results on the crash?

Hayden continued testing, and managed a 1:42:721 lap time with the pneumatic valves. A respectable time for the once-competent Kentucky Kid.

Rossi retains world championship lead

While I was in the middle of the North Okanagan house-hunting, I managed to miss Spain's MotoGP race. "Gran Premi Cinzana de Catalunya" was held on Sunday, with Pedrosa being the home-town favourite to win. Rossi had a pretty shite qualifying session, and started from 9th position, which greatly reduced his chances of 3 victories in a row.

Again, I didn't actually see the race myself (and haven't gotten around to downloading it yet, though I might this evening), so all I can report is hear-say. Rossi apparently had a fantastic session, and climbed up to a solid 2nd place finish, which allowed him to regain the lead in World Championship points over Pedrosa (Rossi 142, Pedrosa 135). Pedrosa, as mentioned racing at his "home" track, took the victory by a solid 2.8 seconds over Rossi, and 3.3 seconds over 3rd place Casey Stoner (4th in World Championship, 92 points).

Nicky Hayden continued to screw the pooch (8th position, 22.28 seconds back of Pedrosa; 9th in World Championship, 48 points), and you have to think he can no longer blame the valves on the RC212V, after Pedrosa managed such a convincing victory. Randy De Puniet, Alex De Angelis and Loris Capirossi all failed to finish the race.

Expect an update to this post if/when I get around to actually watching the race.

Next up: Donington Park on June 22nd.


MAF decides to get good for game 5

Alright, I admit it: I was wrong. I never thought Mark Andre Fleury could be a solid, play-off caliber goalie. At least not this season: he's still too young and inexperienced, in my humblest of opinions. Last night, however, he stood on his head and kept the Penguins' playoff hopes alive, while Malkin continued to cough up the puck in the neutral zone.

I'm not going to drone on about how the 3-OT game was a thriller, and how it was the highest rated Game 5 since 2002 (there's a solid statistic that doesn't really mean anything). I'll give it you straight here in the pages of the Vavenby Daily News. There's no way Pittsburgh deserved to win that game. Sure, they took an early 2 goal lead, but against a team like the Wings, that's not going to be enough. You need to play with intensity and heart for the full 60 (or 109:57) minutes.

Pittsburgh was out-shot in every one of the 6 periods played, except for OT #2, in which they managed 1 more shot than Detroit. Compare this to OT #1, in which the Wings outshot the Pens 13-2. Overall shot total was 58-32 in favor of the boys from the Motor City.

All this being said, I feel that Pittsburgh can win the next game and force a game 7. They're so good at home, and coming of the high of this win, I expect big things. The key factors are for MAF to continue to play well, and for Malkin to pull his head out of his ass and start playing like the superstar he's supposed to be.

Final score: Pittsburgh 4, Detroit 3
3 Stars: #1 - MAF (55 saves);
#2 - Petr Sykora (GWG @ 09:57 of 3rd OT; 2PIM)
#3 - Hank Zetterberg (2 assists; 2PIM)

Vale unbeatable in Mugello

Unfortunately, I didn't actually get a chance to watch the MotoGP race on Sunday. I had other things going on in my life, and actually knew the outcome prior to its airing on Speed thanks to the myriad motorcycle blogs that filter through my RSS reader. That being said, the first thing I did when I got home was hopped onto the series of tubes and downloaded a copy of the race from EuroSport. And boy am I glad I did!

For those of you who didn't get a chance to watch the race, it's important to note how amazing Valentino Rossi is at this track. Fully and totally unbeatable. And now that he's back to his old form (and starting from the pole position), I was pretty sure he was going to waltz away with the points. Not quite the case, as he fell behind and had to work his way back up from 3rd position, but after gaining the lead, he continued to build upon it right through to the finish (his 7th consecutive GP win at this circuit). The final gap between Rossi and 2nd place finisher Casey Stoner was a full 2.2 seconds. A further 2.6 seconds separated Stoner from Pedrosa, in 3rd. The Kentucky Kid, Nicky Hayden finished a disappointing (for him, not for me) 13th, 50.440 seconds (yes, almost a full minute) behind Rossi.

The race also happened to be filled with crashes and miscalculations, with Lorenzo & Hopkins both bowing out in the 17th lap, and De Puniet & Melandri leaving in the 18th lap.

Rossi now leads the World Championship standings by 12 points over Pedrosa, and 28 points over #3 Jorge Lorenzo. Next race is this weekend (June 8) in Spain.


MotoGP in Mugello

Welcome to Italy ... the land of Ducatis, Ferraris and Alpha Romeos. And Valentino Rossi. Rossi took advantage of being on his home turf, and secured the pole position for tomorrow's Gran Premio D'Italia Alice, his first since switching over to Bridgestone tyres. It should be noted that Rossi has won a few times already in Mugello ... he'll be going for his 7th consecutive victory tomorrow.

Carrying on a tradition that I didn't even know existed, Rossi pulled out a special helmet for the home event, featuring his likeness with a slightly shocked expression on the top (see pic below, courtesy Crash.net). According to Rossi, it's an actual image of him braking at the end of the long straight at Mugello: hopefully it'll bring him some luck, and he can continue his winning ways. I for one am happy to see The Doctor back on top of the World Championship standings, but I wouldn't mind seeing a close race between he and Casey Stoner (who starts the rice from position 1 on the second row). The 2 Americans, Edwards & Hayden round out the 2nd row, while Pedrosa & Capirossi join Rossi up front. Snaps for Capirossi, for stopping the early-season suckage!

MotoGP in Mugello

Welcome to Italy ... the land of Ducatis, Ferraris and Alpha Romeos. And Valentino Rossi. Rossi took advantage of being on his home turf, and secured the pole position for tomorrow's Gran Premio D'Italia Alice, his first since switching over to Bridgestone tyres. It should be noted that Rossi has won a few times already in Mugello ... he'll be going for his 7th consecutive victory tomorrow.

Carrying on a tradition that I didn't even know existed, Rossi pulled out a special helmet for the home event, featuring his likeness with a slightly shocked expression on the top (see pic below, courtesy Crash.net). According to Rossi, it's an actual image of him braking at the end of the long straight at Mugello: hopefully it'll bring him some luck, and he can continue his winning ways. I for one am happy to see The Doctor back on top of the World Championship standings, but I wouldn't mind seeing a close race between he and Casey Stoner (who starts the rice from position 1 on the second row). The 2 Americans, Edwards & Hayden round out the 2nd row, while Pedrosa & Capirossi join Rossi up front. Snaps for Capirossi, for stopping the early-season suckage!


Oh, this can not end well

So being a public health official, I tend to be a bit of a geek when it comes to things food-safety-related. My Google Reader RSS feed is a pretty solid testament to that fact. One blog that I didn't actually know existed, until recently, is "The Food Poison Blog". A link from said blog was forwarded to me by a colleague, about a recent B.C. Human Rights Tribunal decision, regarding handwashing at a McDonalds. When you bring human rights into food safety, only bad things can happen. Read on ...

So there's this lady named Beena Datt. Ms. Datt has worked at McD's for >20 years. Long time employee, probably pretty committed to the Big Mac, yes? Unfortunately, Ms. Datt came down with a bit of a skin condition, that prevented her from thoroughly and properly washing her hands. McDonald's said "umm ... wanna wash your hands before handling that hamburger patty, Beena?" (I paraphrase, of course), and long story short, Ms. Datt was let go. She took her case, as previously mentioned, to the Human Rights Tribunal, and McDonald's was ordered to pay her $55,000 CDN for wrongful dismissal. Apparently, the Tribunal found that there was no direct evidence between proper handwashing and food contamination. Yes, this happened in Vancouver. Yes, I'm leaving Vancouver.

The story from Food Poison Blog can be found: here
Even longer version of the story, from the blog "Northern Exposure" is: here

Guess who's back?

The title is kind of redundant ... since I'm the only one posting, I'm the only one who's going to be back. But you get the point. My analytics tell me that page views are dropping, so it's time to get back into business! Actually, the main reason I'm increasing the frequency of blog posts is that I suddenly have some more time on my hands. I have 1 week left in my practicum, at which point I'm officially done another degree. The difference between this degree and the last one, however, is that I also have a job ... nay, a career lined up post-graduation. Which is always promising. So while the next 3 weeks may be somewhat hectic (with packing/moving/finding a place to live/starting a new job), the future will have more posts about more interesting topics. Or un-interesting topics, depending on the state of the world.

I think my last post was about the start of the NHL playoffs. How wonderfully serendipitous than, that we're now heading into game 4 of the 2008 finals. Ever since Ottawa shit the bed in round 1, I've been quietly rooting for the Penguins. Maybe not so quietly, even. It's not that I'm a huge fan of Sidney Christ™ (though I don't hold anything against the kid, and I do think that he's what the league needs right now), I've just been a closet Penguins fan since the early 1990's, when my mullet was approximately the same length as that belonging to Jaromir Jagr. I even rocked out a Jofa helmet playing Pee Wee, just like the cool guys on the Pens. So while they're not my favourite team ever, I certainly like them more than the Red Wings (who have won enough Stanley Cups already .... let somebody else have a turn!)

So with the series at 2-1, where do I see it going? All the way to 7 games, of course. There's no way Chris Osgood is good enough to keep the high-flying Penguins at bay. 2 shutouts in the first 2 games was pretty amazing, but I wouldn't expect that kind of thing to be an ongoing trend. He's older than brontosaurus shit (36 in November), and he's bound to break a hip if he starts trying anything too acrobatic. That being said, I don't hold much faith in the goaltending of the Penguins, either. So it's really a toss-up as to who will take game 7. But yes, it will go the distance.

Game 4 goes tomorrow in Pittsburgh, 8pm EST, and can be seen on CBC, NBC and RDS (all in HD), or listened to on XM channels 204, 205 and 206. Also, various other sports-carrying radio channels (I would assume).


NHL Playoffs - Day 1

So yesterday was day 1 of the 2008 "Quest for the Cup", and it turned out to be kind of a shitty day. While the Sens/Pens game started at 4pm PST, I had to work until after 5. So I went to the Sens website, grabbed the link to live streaming radio, and plugged in my headphones ... just as Gary Roberts scored (at 1:08). To be honest, the game went downhill from there. At 12:28 of the 1st, Petr Sykora gave Pittsburgh a 2-0 lead, followed by a Malkin goal at 13:58 of the 3rd, and a second Gary Roberts goal (WTF?) at 18:25 of the final frame. Final score: OTT 0 - PTT 4.

To be fair, it could've been a lot worse. Pittsburgh had 35 shots on goal, and Gerber making 31 saves is decent in my books.

In "Series I don't care about" news, The Rangers beat the Devils 4-1, thanks to a 3-goal 3rd period.

The West had Colorado over Minnesota 3-2 in 1OT, with the game winner scored by Burnaby Joe at 11:11.

And finally, the other series that I'll be watching closely featured a scrappy Calgary Flames coming up roses against the streaking San Jose Sharks, with a 3-2 win. Yelle had 2 goals for CAL, with Phaneuf getting the third. Both San Jose goals came from Ryan Clowe, which means that 40% of his 2007-2008 goals have now come in the playoffs.


UM hate me

Yesterday was a day of rapage for the Gophers, as they were properly and thoroughly beaten by Boston College, ending their season. While they came within 2 goals late in the third period (after a clusterfuck of a play that saw nearly three minutes put back onto the clock), it ended badly (5-2).

At 3:27, Ben Gordon fired one into the top of the net to cut BC's lead to 4-2. Referee Brian Aaron waved the goal off, however, saying it hit the crossbar, and play continued. At the next stoppage (at 19:15 of the 3rd), Aaron went to video replay, and saw that Gordon's shot did, indeed, enter the net. So, time was put back on the clock, and BC's 5th goal (which caused the stoppage at 19:15) was removed. Now, instead of a 5-1 lead for BC, it's back to 4-2. No matter, however: BC still scored another goal, and UM still lost.

The Gopher's final record was 19-17-9, meaning Lucia failed to guide the team to 20 wins for the first time in 9 years. Ouch.

Boston College faces Miami today to see who progresses to the Frozen Four (April 10). Michigan and Notre Dame have already secured their spots in the tourney, while the other regional playoff has UND facing Wisconsin. I promise I'll keep this updated, even though the Gophers are gone.


Minnesota kicks ass, takes names

So in my last college hockey post, I was pretty sure UMN had shit the bed, and were all but finished in the WCHA playoffs. I certainly didn't expect them to make the championship game, as they had a pretty brutal record against fellow WCHA teams throughout the season.

But ... I was wrong. On Sunday, 03/16 they faced Minnesota State in game 3 of their playoff series, and won in double overtime, 3-2. That led to a 1 game playoff against St. Cloud State on Thursday, 03/20, which they also won 3-2 (no overtime needed). By beating St. Cloud State, UMN was forced to face Colorado College on Friday, 03/21 in the semifinal. By some magical Easter Miracle, UMN pulled off a 2-1 OT win, to place them in the WCHA final against Denver.

Sadly, all good things must come to an end (including UMN winning streaks). In the WCHA championship game on Saturday (03/22), attended by a whopping 17,907 fans, Minnesota lost a goaltender's battle (and the championship) 2-1. All three goals were scored in the 2nd period of a game that saw Alex Kangas making 32 saves for UMN, and Peter Mannino making 34 for Denver. Ryan Flynn got Minnesota's only goal to open the scoring, which was countered by Denver goals scored by Tyler Bozak and Tom May.

The Mens D1 NCAA tournament now starts, which sees Minnesota facing off against Boston College at 1930 EST on Saturday, 03/29. Minnesota is ranked #3 (of 4) in their bracket (the Northeast Region), with games being played in Worcester, Mass. Besides UMN and BC, the Northeast bracket also includes #1 Miami, and #4 Air Force. Expect Minnesota to be relying on Kangas to continue to play exceptionally, and for the team to ride their strong momentum into these games.

UMN's record sits at 19-16-9 against all NCAA opponents this year.

The difference between a porcupine and BMW of Lincoln

I'm not going to get into the nitty gritty details of this, since it's blowing up all over the innertubes, but I'll give a Cole's Notes version, and a link to the forum thread for you to read through at your own Easter Monday leisure.

A gentleman was looking to purchase an E90 BMW M3 sedan. Can't blame him ... it's going to be a great car. Said gentleman, Mr. "dooma350", found a listing on eBay for the car he wanted, with a starting bid of USD$60,000. He arranged financing (of up to USD$61,000) and bid on the car. Nobody outbid him, so he got his dream car for the opening bid, right? Nope ... not so much.

BMW of Lincoln, Nebraska is refusing to honor the sale, saying they made an "honest mistake", even though they reviewed (and changed) the auction listing page 3 times in 3 days.

This story is "blow<ing> up like the World Trade" (© Notorious B.I.G.), and has been posted to any and every car forum you can think of (including Autoblog) and the Consumerist. As of 0909 PST (GMT+8) the dealership has sent Mr. dooma350 an email saying they will not be honoring the auction price of USD$60,000. I'll keep following this story, and update as I feel necessary.

The original post is at the BimmerPost forums, here.

UPDATE: BMW of Lincoln is agreeing to sell Mr. dooma350 the car for the agreed-upon price of USD$60,000 (with certain conditions). No word on what those conditions may be, but Mr. dooma350 will find out tomorrow in a meeting with the dealership.

UPDATE 2: BMW of Lincoln is now saying that Dooma (aka Ken) can't/hasn't produced funding, and with a rapidly approaching deadline (04/01) the deal is expected to fall through.

UPDATE 3: I just realized it's been a while since I updated this post (or any part of the blog), and Ken has now received his car, and is loving it. He's posted plenty of pictures on the forum (see link above; p.122 of the forum post), and she's a beaut!


Phew! UMN wins game 2

In another nail biter of a hockey game, the Golden Gophers managed to squeak out a 2-1 overtime win over Minnesota State to tie the series at 1-1, and stay alive for another day.

Once again, it was a goaltender's battle, with Minnesota pounding 37 shots at Mike Zacharias over the 67:33 minutes of hockey. Gopher goalie Alex Kangas made 27 saves of his own, allowing a power-play goal at 11:09 of the 3rd.

UMN was 0-3 on the power play, while State went 1-4 on the night, in a game attended by 4744 fans. The officials, once again, were Derek Sheperd as referee, and Brad Sheperd & C.J. Beaurline working the lines. I'm not sure how there are only 3 officials in all of Minnesota, but you'd think they'd at least switch it up and put one of the linesmen working the whistle. We'll have to see if game 3 has the same guys working it.

Game 3 is tomorrow, and I'm afeared that it's going to be another close game. I'd love for UMN to win this cleanly, but honestly, as the #7 seed (facing #4 Minn. State) it's probably not going to happen. It was good to see solid shooting tonight, as they out shot their opponent in every period except overtime. One could say that overtime was when they should be shooting the most ... but they scored, so I'm happy. Winner of this series meets #5 St. Cloud State, who knocked out Kyle Turris and the Badgers in 2 straight games, next Thursday in St. Paul. The winner of that games faces #1 Colorado College next Friday in the semi-final.

The other quarter-final has #3 Denver facing either #2 UND or #9 Michigan Tech. I think. It's honestly the weirdest tournament layout I've ever seen, with teams being re-seeded after round 1, and then the 2 lowest remaining seeds playing in the quarters, with the winner facing the highest seed (Colorado) in the semis. Whoah.

In other hockey news, the Canucks beat Dallas tonight after giving up a 3-0 advantage, and trying their hardest to lose. Unfortunately, they didn't succeed.


I give up: UMN loses to State in Game 1

As promised, this game certainly was a "battle of the goaltenders", or as I like to call it "a battle of who can score the least". And when it comes to not scoring, nobody beats UMN!

Not only did UMN manage to lose to the Mavericks for the first time in 20 games (since 2002-03), but the only goal of the game was a short-handed 2-on-1. In the 2nd OT period. And instead of being completely irate about it, Coach Lucia managed only to call the goal scorer(s) "two great penalty killers". Sweet jeebus.

I don't want to talk about this game anymore, since there's not much to talk about. Game 2 of the series goes tomorrow night at 7:07 CT (5:07 PST). If UMN gets knocked out in 2-straight by Minnesota State ... I'll be kind of upset.


Gibson Guitar Corp. dumb; trying to steal profits

This is just stupid. Gibson Guitar Corp. is suing Activision, the makers of the "Guitar Hero" series of games for patent infringement. Not because the totally-realistic plastic guitars violate some design policy of the axe-maker, but because the games themselves are allegedly a violation of a 1999 patent held by Gibson.

Due to my extremely high level of loserness, I dug up the patent via Google (patent #5,990,405 if you're interested) to see how similar it is to "Guitar Hero", given the 8 year difference in technology (as the original patent is dated 23 November, 1999). Yeah ... it's really not even remotely the same. The Gibson patent allows a musician to play a musical instrument wearing a head-mounted 3D display. Portions (audio/video) of the concert are pre-recorded, and then a "sound track corresponding to the musical instrument played by the musician" is dubbed in. You can also "suppress the instrument sound track so that the sounds created by the actual playing of the musical instrument are heard along with the pre-recorded audio & video portions".

The bold was all added by me, to stress how different this patent is from "Guitar Hero". Even if you've never played the game, I'm sure you're well aware that there is no real musical instrument involved. You press colored buttons on a plastic guitar. It's not notes, it's not music, it's not a concert: it's how well you can time the colors. It's like a high-end Tetris game. If you took away the "instrument sound track" from "Guitar Hero", all you'd hear would be "click-click-click", not "sounds created by <a> ... musical instrument".

Clearly, Gibson Guitar Corp. is just trying to make a few extra dollars from the astounding success of Activision. They just want the video game manufacturer to obtain a license to use the patent (which I'm sure they'll charge dearly for). Companies like Gibson should stick to what they know best: making guitars. Leave the game development to the pros.

Source: LA Times | Business


Qatar in the bag

The first race of the 2008 Moto GP season was last night, and it didn't disappoint. The first ever night race in GP history was held at the Losail track at 2230 local time (and aired at 1900 on Speed TV here in North America).

From the start, Repsol Honda's Dani Pedrosa showed incredible speed, grabbing the hole-shot and leading for the first 4 laps, before settling into a 3rd place finish. Rossi worked his way to the front of the pack, and looked solid for a few laps, before being passed and eventually falling back into a 4th place finish. Casey Stoner once again showed the dominance of last season, finishing in 1st place with an incredible 5.323 second gap over 2nd place Lorenzo, and a full 10.600 seconds faster than Pedrosa.

While Dani Pedrosa opted for the '08 version of the Honda RC212V (with pneumatic valves & a new chassis), while Nicky Hayden, 2006's World Champion, stuck with the '07 bike and finished in a disappointing 10th position (nearly 13 seconds behind Pedrosa). One has to think that Hayden (whose contract expires in 2008) may have a difficult time convincing Honda to keep him on as a factory rider after a disappointing 2007 season, and this dreadful start. That being said, with only 1 race in the bag of 2008, it may be too early to count out the Kentucky Kid.

Jorge Lorenzo was the other big story of the night, sticking right on the tail of Stoner for the majority of the race, but losing time every lap (especially on the long home straight). Lorenzo decided to stick with the Michelin tyres, while Rossi (on the same Fiat Yamaha factory ride) decided that Michelin couldn't be competitive against Stoner's Bridgestones, and switched tyre sponsors. It's interesting to note that 3 of the top 4 riders (the exception being the winner, Stoner) were on Michelin tyres, so one could question Rossi's decision to drop the French manufacturer from his sponsor roster.

Finally, James Toseland (the only Brit in the race), former World Superbike champion, made his GP debut in Qatar, and proved himself quite capable on a spring-valved, Tech3 Yamaha YZR-M1 (while the factory riders were provided with the 2008-spec pneumatic valved model). Toseland is said to have the '08 model bike by race #3 in Portugal, which should allow him to be very competitive, considering he finished only 0.74 seconds behind Rossi.


Turris to make NHL debut this year?

The Phoenix Coyotes are apparently trying to convince Kyle Turris that leaving the Badgers and joining the NHL is his best bet for the future. Coyotes GM Don Maloney wants to have a sit down with Turris and his representatives to "see how much sense turning pro makes" after Wisconsin's season ends. With UW going into the WCHA playoffs as the #6 team, this could be sooner rather than later. Possibly before the start of the NHL playoffs.

In theory, if the Badgers don't make it past the 1st round of the league playoffs (ending March 15), Turris could be with PHX for the last 2 weeks of the NHL season & the playoffs.

Turris currently leads the Badgers with 10-18-28 in 24 games (6th overall in scoring in the WCHA; 4th amongst freshmen in NCAA play).

In other NCAA news, a junior for Sacred Heart, from Regina, is named Bear Trapp. You know you're from Saskatchewan when ...

Minnesota pwned ... again

Grumbles! UMN played UMD in an all-Minnesota matchup last night, which ended surprisingly badly. Or maybe it's not surprising, considering how the Gophers like to smite me. It was a relatively close game (3-2), but going into the playoffs, and facing #4-ranked Minnesota State, UMN has to step up to the ... face-off dot ... and start playing better.

Minnesota managed only 18 shots (compared to UMD's 25) and fell behind 2-0 by 12:35 of the 2nd. It took a 5-on-3 powerplay for them to break the goose egg at 14:54 of the 2nd, though UMD got a powerplay goal of their own before the end of the period to go up 3-1. Early in the 3rd (4:07) Justin Bostrom pulled the Gophers within a goal, but they didn't manage any more offense before the final buzzer.

Playoffs start this Friday (03/14) with a best-of-three series.


Oh crap ... I'm starting to respect Ovechkin

Don't tell anybody I said that. I was always on the Crosby side of the "which rookie is better" debate (though I'm not sure I want to admit to being a Crosby lover either). But with Ovechkin's crazy good season this year (especially the 5-point night and natural hat-trick of a couple games ago), I'm about to jump on the bandwagon.

The Japers' Rink blog has a number of milestones that Ovechkin has either already reached (with his 2-goal performance last game) or is going to reach very soon. Par example: #53 set the record for "most goals in a 3-year span with the Caps"; #54 was "Most goals by a Capital in a season since 1981-82", as well as "Most goals in a season by a left wing since 1992-93". Keep an eye out for goals #61 (most in a season by a Capital), and #64 (most in a season by a left-winter).

Also notable from Japers' Rink is this picture which features some of my favourite things EVER (Brunswick sardines, mullets, turtlenecks & the Pens). I need to do more research on this ad campaign, because this is HUGE for the Connor Brothers. Why is this not at the entrance to Blacks Harbour, NB? No, I'm serious.

2008 Moto GP preview

It's season #60 this year, and I am so ecstatic about all things Moto GP that I can barely contain it. Firstly, March 9 (this Sunday, Sunday, Sunday!) is race #1 in Qatar. More exciting than that, is the fact that it will be the inaugural night time race, which is sure to be great (and a lot cooler than the Losail circuit is known to be).

This season also marks the first time in my conscious memory that two races will be held in the USA, with the US GP at Laguna Seca on July 20, and the Indianapolis GP at the Brickyard on September 14. The only way I could be more excited was if Canada got a GP race (though it would probably be Toronto or Montreal ... so I might as well just go to Laguna Seca).

I'm excited to watch Melandri perform on the Ducati GP8 (though I don't think he'll be spectacular), and I'm excited to see Casey Stoner continue to dominate. Don't get me wrong, I'm a big Rossi fan, but I'm a bigger Duc fan ... and #1's name is my name.

Other notables: Colin Edwards usurped from Fiat Yamaha by Jorge Lorenzo, and relegated to the satellite Tech 3 team; Kawasaki picking up John Hopkins from Suzuki (who replaced him with Loris Capirossi); and everybody's favourite Brit w√ľnderkind, Bradley Smith, riding 125cc for Aprilia (the Polaris World Ateam). Incidentally, Smith could be the first person with that surname to EVER race at Indianapolis (thanks Wiki!)


With this open source, I thee ... type

I'm all about things that are free. I'm the type of person who will take a free pile of crap over a cheap item (that is less crappy), simply because it's free. Now, if something is free AND good ... well that's even better!

With that in mind, I give to the world a .ttf file of my handwriting. I think this may fall into the "free pile of crap" category (especially since it's not your handwriting), but I think it's pretty nifty. It would be a sin to keep all this greatness contained in my computer, and not spread throughout the blogosblogs for all to enjoy!



Gophers beat Badgers!??!

Yeah, this is kind of old news (3 days old), but I was so stunned that I couldn't pick my jaw up off the floor to type a post. Thanks to a pair of power play goals, the Golden Gophers managed a 4-2 upset (HUGE upset) of the #13-ranked Wisconsin Badgers. I have to say, I love the enthusiasm coming from Coach Lucia after the game: "It's just nice to score more than 1 goal". That's the way to shoot for the stars!

Gophers ranked #17 overall, with a 13-13-8 record (w00t @ .500!), 7-11-6 in WCHA play.

Internet in your bimmer, that's gangsta

Yeah, it's been a while since I posted. We'll try to rectify that with some killer posts in the next while. To start with a bang, BMW is bringing some intertubes to the roundel with "ConnectedDrive", which allows you full access to the 'tubes via EDGE wireless. Unfortunately (fortunately?) it'll only work on the main nav screen if you're going <3mph ... so no Google Chats while you're driving. Sad goat.


Abortion and Crime

Scanning through an article on the Freakonomics Blog that I meant to read about 3 weeks ago, I'm finding it interesting that abortion and crime are roughly inversely proportional. That is to say, as abortion rates increased after legalization in the 1970's, the crime rate decreased. Unwanted kids apparently commit to lives of crime. Recently, abortions in the USA have dropped to a 30 year low ... does that mean that crime is going to start increasing?


Senators make a trade; I approve

Bryan Murray, the genius that he is, announced today a "blockbuster" trade that brings Cory Stillman and Mike Commodore to the Sens, in exchange for Joe Corvo and Patrick Eaves. Both Stillman and Commodore bring Stanley Cup-winning experience to Ottawa, and should hopefully help to alleviate any choking tendencies come playoff time.

In other hockey news (but less NHL-y), UND's coach Dave Hakstol has been suspended for 2 games for being a dick. More specifically, be made "an obscene gesture" towards an official during the game against UMN on February 2. Apparently Hakstol didn't agree with a call made by "assistant referee" C.J. Beaurline, and flipped him the bird as Beaurline skated away from the Sioux bench. While Beaurline didn't notice it (because Hakstol didn't have the gonads to finger him to his face), the FSN cameras caught 'er live on cablevision. Which is, apparently, where WCHA's concern comes from. By the sound of it, they don't care about the referee (he didn't notice, anyway, right?), but rather the concern about small children watching the game.

And the final sports update has Nicky Hayden sucking considerably less than last year. Two seasons ago, the Kentucky Kid won the World Championship on his Honda RC-212V. Last season he embarrassed Americans world-wide by falling to 8th position overall (though he beat fellow Yankee Colin Edwards by 3 points in the championship standings). While the 2008 season hasn't started yet, winter testing has Hayden performing quite well indeed. More specifically, 2008 has Hayden's Honda performing much better. Hayden may not be my favorite rider on the circuit, but he's a talented enough rider that he deserves a decent bike to ride.

Official testing in Jerez takes place 17 February, where the fastest qualifier will take home a Bimmer for his efforts. Race #1 (Qatar) is 09 March.


Gophers don't lose!

I'm not going to recap the game too much, because I really want the Gophers to start playing like they did last year. And the year before. And the year before. And so on ad nauseum. I will not be content with tying Denver College! I will not stand for a lowly 1 goal scored. I certainly wont' stand for an 0-4 powerplay. Maybe Coach Don will ... but not this guy!

However ... a tie is better than a loss, and that extra point is a step in the right direction, towards <sigh> 6th place in the WCHA, a position currently held by Minnesota-Dulty (7-8-5, 19 points).

UMN is now 6-10-5 (17 points) vs. WCHA teams, and 12-12-7 overall (hey! .500!). USA Today rankings have them off the chart with 1 vote, whereas UCHO.com/CSTV rankings place UMN in 20th position. Remember what 1st felt like, lads?

Attendance at the game (held in Denver @ Magness Arena) was 6076. Better turn-out than most Blazers games!

I hope your Crocs get caught, and a blood bath ensues

We've all seen Mallrats, admit it. And the world agrees with Brodie that parents should teach their children to fear and respect the escalator. Well, the makers of Crocs agree with Brodie Bruce, and say that "Escalator safety is an issue [they] take very seriously...". Read on.

So there's this 3 year old girl at JFK Airport in New York, who is wearing Crocs (parental mistake #1). She's kicking it up the escalator, and her Croc (pink in color) gets caught in the escalator, causing the "skin [to be] peeled off her toe", leaving her "severely and permanently" injured. Zut alors! That's pretty ugly. The lawyer for the parents is claiming that Crocs are unsafe, even though they "come in pretty colors with Disney characters on" them, and that the parents should receive $7million in compensation. The New York Daily News points out that the girl was wearing a child's size 8/9, though Crocs are available as small as a 4/5. Not sure how that fits in.

I have a better idea than giving the parents $7,000,000. Slap 'em with a counter suit for not properly supervising their kid on the escalator. And where's the lawsuit against the escalator manufacturer for failing to prevent child injuries? Oh, what's that? You know you'd never win, so you didn't file? Bullshens!

Unfortunately, this just goes to teach us all a lesson: having the parents "suffer that horrific ordeal" does not teach them how to "manage [their] child". Not a year goes by ...

The Viper is Dead; Long Live the Viper

Jalopnik is reporting today that the Dodge Viper will be no more. As part of "Project Genesis", Cerberus (the new owners of Chrysler) are cutting a number of models from the product range (PT Cruiser convertible, Pacifica, Magnum, Crossfire) ... including the Viper. The '08 Viper will be a 4th generation, which will be produced until 2011ish ... and then, according to the Jalop's sources ... no more snake.

Never really been my car of choice, but it certainly set a standard for American muscle cars. Viper, you will be missed.

Everbody Hates Jarvik

Yeah, you probably remember my previous post about not-so-Dr. Jarvik, and his lack of medical training. And you may wonder why I keep going on about him. I just do, ok? Drop it.

So firstly, ABC News is reporting that Dr. J was paid (at least) $1.35million for the Lipitor ads (Link). Yup ... that sounds like a pretty decent sum to row your boat on TV. But wait ... what? That's not Dr. J in the boat? He doesn't even row? The plot thickens! Here's an awesome quote for you:

"He's about as much an outdoorsman as Woody Allen," said a longtime collaborator, Dr. O. H. Frazier of the Texas Heart Institute. "He can't row."

American Congress is still upset about all this nonsense, because it's (assumedly) some sort of false advertising. To be fair to Dr. J, you can find his side of the story at his website:

Greasy Dr. Jarvik


NCAA rundown

Firstly, I'd like to start by saying "wooo Giants". Next, I'd like to follow up with "booo Gophers". On Feb 1, the Gophers were taking on the UND Fighting Sioux (great team name), and managed to lose in OT, dropping their record to 12-12-5 in the season (6-10-3 in WCHA play). Ouch.

On Feb 2, UMN again faced-off against UND, trying to make up for the gong show of the previous game. No scoring through the first 2 periods gave me hope that UMN might pull off a win ... but also worried me that their scoring just wasn't happening. And then at 7:17 of the 3rd, Blake Wheeler fed Ben Gordon, who put UMN up 1-0. Less than 13 minutes go, and UMN is ahead. Sadly, it took less than 4 minutes for UND to tie it up on a VandeVelde goal. And the game would remain tied through overtime, the final being a 1-1 score.

Rankings as of Jan 28 have UMN in 18th place in DI (Miami, Michigan and UND taking the top 3 positions). The WCHA rankings place CC and UND in the top 2, with UMN in a lowly 7th (below both UMD and Minnesota State). This year must get better, eventually.


Oh, this does not seem right

I'm not sold on the Tesla electric sports car just yet. It seems kind of overpriced, but underdelivering. But then again, I'm the type of guy who likes my sports cars loud and raucous. Engines should run on pure crude oil or small children, and spew out noise in the triple-digits of decibels, and emissions so strong that the ozone layer runs away at initial turn-over. Think the E39 BMW M5: that's a right & proper sports car. But I digress: this post is about the Tesla.

A few days ago (5, to be precise), the AP published a report stating that Tesla Motors was to receive a federal air bag waiver, meaning that the cars will not contain the "advanced air bags" that other cars have. It will still have standard air bags, but for $98,000 I want EVERYTHING to be advanced (see also: 1 speed transmission in the Tesla. Not cool, guys.)

The Tesla is based on the (much cooler) Lotus Elise, which also has received an air bag waiver. Which might be why it's so difficult to find an Elise in Canada. They're impossible to import, but Weissach Performance in Vancouver sells them (and not cheaply: $54,500 for the base model, + freight, tax, PDI, etc.). A new Elise in the USA will run you $46,270. Though, looking at the Elise website, I find that the MSRP in Canada is $59,990 ... so I guess Weissach is giving people a deal.

Again, I'm digressing from the topic at hand. So, in summary: Teslas don't need advanced air bags. Neither do Elises. The Elise is better looking, and half the price. But not electric. But has more speeds in it's transmission. Don't expect to get ahold of a Tesla in Canada.


By jove, he's done it!

The geniuses at the J. Craig Venter Institute have managed to synthesize, in it's entirety, the genome of a bacterium. They started with E. coli, which was used to store the artificial chromosomes, and then hi-jacked the replication mechanism of S. cerevisae to assemble the genome.

It's important to note that they've not created an organism, per se, but just the genome. So, says Hamilton Smith, their next step will be inserting the genome into a cell, to see if it will reproduce.

Can you imagine if your job was creating a genome? Man, you'd get all the ladies.


A tie is better than a loss?

After yesterday's devastating loss to UW, at the hands of Kyle Turris, Minnesota had to be going into tonight's game looking for a win. And they were on their way, too: up 2-0, it was fully their game to lose. By the start of the 3rd, Wisconsin had scored 1 goal, cutting the UMN lead in 1/2. And then, with less than 8 minutes left in the 3rd, Aaron Bendickson took a pass from Patrick Johnson, and tied it up.

Minnesota did all of their scoring in the 1st 14 minutes of the game, and then decided to kick back. Alright, that's not really true. They out-shot Wisconsin 11-5 in the 2nd, and were just barely out-shot 8-9 in the third. Overall, UMN led in shots 32-26.

Of note:

Patrick Johnson had 1-1-2 for Wisconsin


Damn you, Kyle Turris

I'm a fan of Kyle Turris. He's a BC boy, played for the Burnaby Express, scored 8 points in the WJC for Canada ... essentially, he's everything Canada could hope for in an up-and-coming ambassador player.

But why does he have to go and ruin my night like this? Turris' Wisconsin Badgers were playing the Minnesota Golden Gophers (who happen to be my D1 team of choice) tonight. Thanks to Turris, who had a goal and an assist, the Badgers came away with a 3-1 win, dropping Minnesota's record to 6-9-2 in the WCHA (12-11-4 overall), and putting them into a tie for 6th place in the division with St. Cloud State. Wisconsin moves its record up to 7-8-2 (11-10-4 overall), and moves into 5th place in the WCHA.

On another (somewhat related) note, the Men's D1 rankings seem to be all topsy-turvy this year. I mean, the USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine rankings have neither UMN or UW listed in the top 15 (though both received 12 votes), and the USCHO.com/CSTV rankings have UMN at #17, and UW at #16. Honestly, I haven't watched any NCAA hockey this year, and I haven't really even been paying attention to results & standings ... but this is a big change from last year's results at this time.


Might as well face it, you're addicted to tetracycline

I just finished reading an insane article on Wired about a company that has genetically modified A. aegypti mosquitoes, making them pass on a "programmed death" gene to their offspring. The males are mutated, and released into the wild to breed with normal females. The offspring then die before they can reproduce. Essentially, the mosquitoes are "addicted" to the antibiotic tetracycline: if they don't get it, they'll literally die. So they keep the males alive in the lab (by giving them tetracycline) until they are of breeding age. The offspring, who receive the "I need tetracycline" gene, die before they reach reproductive maturity (unless they magically get a fix of the antibiotic). While currently the genetic technology appears to only work with A. aegypti (carrier of the Dengue virus and Yellow Fever virus), I see no reason why this couldn't be applied to Culex pipiens, the carrier of West Nile virus (which will soon affect us here in B.C.)

When discussing this breakthrough with colleagues, we decided that Greenpeace might not be totally wrong in protesting this (don't tell anybody that I said that). I'm all for GMO's as an idea, but I would think that this needs some further testing. Or perhaps it has gone through further testing, and I'm ignorant (which is fully possible). The main concern brought forth in my mind is how this will affect the ecosystem as a whole. I'm not sure what species prey primarily on A. aegypti (frogs, birds, bats?), but tests should be done (if they haven't already) on how these higher organisms respond to the genetically modified males (maybe they don't taste as good?)

On the flip side (because, as I mentioned, I'm all for GMO's), the mutant males are only in the wild for a short period of time before they die. Remember: they require tetracycline to live, so after they reproduce, they're finished. So, in theory, they'd be a relatively small source of food.

Now if only we can do something about that damn tse-tse fly


Universal Wi-Fi please

CBC is reporting that the city of Vancouver is seeking bids for the creation of a downtown-wide (2.3sq km, more or less) Wi-Fi network. Essentially, the city wants it to happen with zero cost to the taxpayer, which is understandable. Taxes in Vancouver are bad enough (especially with the increase in Translink-associated fundage). In theory (my theory) the network will either be ad-based (which, if I remember correctly, Google tried to implement in San Francisco), or pay-per-use (which could be reasonably priced, or not). While the cost for WiFi from hotspots (e.g. Starbucks) is fairly restrictive, I see no reason why people couldn't pay either monthly (if you live downtown, and want strictly WiFi), daily (perhaps in town for a business meeting, or vacation) or hourly based on need (with prices becoming more reasonable over longer time periods).

I think this is a great idea, and needs to be rolled out in other municipalities throughout the province (country, world). I mean, if Blue River can have community WiFi, why not Burnaby?


I Can Haz Big Block?

It's been about 4 years since I bought my 1953 Chevrolet Bel Air. I'll be honest: progress has been pretty slow, but it's all coming together now. The running gear is all installed, the interior parts are in our possession, and just require assembly, and the body work is about 70% done. For an engine, we have a lovely 1980 vintage 350cui SBC, with 4-bolt mains (and only about 20,000km on a rebuild) with Corvette heads, Edelbrock Performer intake manifold and a Holley 850cfm carb. Beautiful.

What would be even more beautiful, however, is a 427cui ZL1 aluminum BBC. Chevrolet, bless their souls, are releasing a limited number (427, of course!) of "anniversary" ZL1s to lucky customers. The 1st one will be auctioned at Barrett Jackson, while the other 426 will be "available" through GM Performance Parts.

Note: by "available", I mean "for sale" ... I don't believe the average person will ever have a chance of snapping one of these up before they're sold out, but good luck to all!

Note 2: there's no way in hell we could jam a 427 into the engine bay of a '53 Bel Air ... the SBC barely fit, and required extensive header modifications

Source:GM via Winding Road via Autoblog


The Blackest of the Black

News out of Rice University (wait, where?) that researchers have discovered the darkest material EVAR! Well, at least the darkest material on Earth. I'm pretty sure that black holes are ... blacker (though those are, by definition, the lack of matter, so can't really be classified as a "material", per se). This black material is made up of Carbon nanotubes, and reflects only 0.045% of incident light, which is useful for light-sucking-intensive applications, such as solar panels.

The report was published in the journal "Nano Letters" (wait, what?) to which I currently have no access (go figure). When I get home I'll see if I can pull it up and post an update (though I'm guessing there's nothing super groundbreaking within the published article that I haven't already mentioned here).

Source:Houston Chronicle



Or any antihistamine, really. Researchers at the University of Zurich have found that mice who are given antihistamines after an initial exposure to bee venom react more violently to subsequent exposures than mice who are not given antihistamines

They believe this is because the mice aren't able to build up tolerance to a given level of allergen. The researchers also found that exposure to antihistamines lowered the effectiveness of future immunotherapy, contrary to popular reports.

The study can be read in full in the most recent issue of "Clinical and Experimental Allergy"

Source:Nature News


Hey Chevy ... get your own engine

I read an interesting post in autoblog today, speaking to the fact that the Corvette LS9 engine (6.2L supercharged V8, 620hp, 595 torques) was built to, essentially, a benchmark set by BMW's S85, the engine found in the M5 & M6 (5.0L naturally aspirated V12, 507hp, 384 torques). If you ask me, however (and I'm sure you would if you could), having a great engine in a Corvette doesn't make it a great car. While the powerplants may be comparable, the M5 is still leaps and bounds better than anything the Americans can come up with.

Source: The Car Connection, via Autoblog


Dr. Jarvik: I looked up to you!

Have you ever seen those commercials for Lipitor, with Dr. Robert Jarvik (inventor of the Jarvik artificial heart!), the greasy-haired short fellow, who goes running with what appears to be his son? Well, it turns out the good doctor is not such a good doctor. In fact, he's really a doctor in name only. Read on, friends, to uncover the truth

This, from the Wall Street Journal: "[Jarvik's] grades as an undergrad at Syracuse University weren’t good enough for U.S. med school, so he attended the University of Bologna in Italy, leaving after two years. In 1976, Jarvik graduated from the University of Utah’s med school, but he never did an internship or practiced medicine".

Yeah, he's just the type of doctor I want to be taking drug advice from. Maybe Dr. Nick can be next in line to hock something for Pfizer.

Source: WSJ Health Blog


Quick, I need $2799USD!

Today Apple released the newest iteration of the Mac Pro (or "PowerMac" as I still call it), and it's a beautiful thing. Not necessarily in terms of design ... it looks the exact same as the previous Mac Pro. More the 8-core processing (using Quad-core Intel Xeon chips), 1600MHz front-side buses (giving bandwidth of >25GB per second) and 800MHz DDR2 RAM. According to Gizmodo, the price point is $2799, but the "buy now" page is down at both Apple.com and Apple.ca. One can assume that it'll be more expensive in our home & native land (even though the dollar sits currently at $1.00898USD).

Edit: the site's back up, and the Mac Pro is going for $2899CAD. Not bad, considering the price differences in other Apple products. Fully spec'd out, expect >$30,000 though.



[he] was murder, P Diddy named [him] pretty

So, I remember reading a while back (many years, in fact) that Ma$e had left rap in order to follow the word of God. Whatever ... happens to the best of us. He was the type of rapper that only had a couple of good albums in them anyway, so it was best to quit while he was ahead. Then I listened to a few songs from "Double Up" ... not bad. I also quite enjoyed "Welcome Back". His new rap made me think that, perhaps the God thing didn't work out for him.

Turns out, you can be a mad rapper AND a mad preacher. Mason Betha Ministries has some wicked videos (mostly the one on the front page with his wife), but the real gold is on YouTube. I'll just throw up a link instead of embedding the video (because the user who posted it disabled embedding).

Ma$e preaching about stalking God. It's actually comic gold ... and I mean intentionally funny, not "oh dear, this is painful to watch. HAHAHAHA."


Jezza for PM

Top Gear is by far my favourite TV show. Bar none. It's comedic gold that leaves me laughing so hard I can't breathe, every single Sunday. A young gentleman from the UK, however, is far more fanatical about the show than most. "Joseph Dark" (may or may not be his real name) created an e-petition on the PM's website seeking to make Jeremy Clarkson, the outspoken presenter, prime minister. And Dark isn't the only person who thinks this is a great idea: as of this posting, 31,939 other British citizens (must be a citizen or ex-pat to sign the petition) have inked their names showing support for the cause.

While 10 Downing St has not officially responded to the petition, the website states that "We have decided no longer to accept petitions that are obviously intended as jokes", and this petition remains up. Hence, we can assume the PM's office does not consider it a joke

The petition will remain online until April 17. To read Clarkson's writing for The Times Online, go to: http://driving.timesonline.co.uk/tol/life_and_style/driving/jeremy_clarkson/

Don't Let the Terrorists Win!

Due to the perception of threats posed by al-Qaeda, organizers have canceled the Dakar Rally. With eight stages of the '08 race scheduled to take place in Mauritania, and the recent tourist slaying in the country (which has allegedly been linked to a splinter cell of the terrorist organization), race organizers have decided that their only option was cancellation. Don't tell that to the Mauritanian foreign minister, however: "No new element can justify the concern expressed by the French organizers", said Babah Sidi Abdallah.

This is the first time the Dakar rally has ever been canceled. It's a dark day for motorsports ... where else can I see Unimog's tearing through the desert?

Source:CBC.ca World


The Little Old Man from Pasadena?

Heh ... story on CBC.ca speaks of an elderly gentleman (85 years old to be precise), who was busted under Ontario's new-ish "street racing" laws, whereby any individual doing >50km/h over the speed limit can face car impounding, license suspension or prison time. Gramps was clocked at 161kph (and this was after the officer "made herself obvious".

In his defense, I'd much rather get behind a senior citizen doing 160 than a senior citizen doing 36.

Source:CBC.ca News

You Tool(s) (Vol 2)

You know what a hilariously funny prank would be? To break into the Czech republic's national televised weather broadcast station, and make it appear as if a nuclear explosion occurred, just so we could show people how easy it is to manipulate the media. I'm not going to go into this any more, since it's idiocy is blatantly obvious. The culprits are being charged with "spreading false information". Good.

Didn't I see this prank in Adbusters? I'm just saying ...

Source:CBC.ca Arts

You Tool (Vol 1)

There was much ado yesterday about the price of oil rising above $100 per barrel for the first time EVAR. Well, now that the hub-bub has died down, and people have pulled their heads out of their respective asses and looked around, it turns out that 1 guy paid >$100/barrel, just to be special. Yup ... he took a $600 loss (bought @ $100, sold @ about $99.40 x 1000 barrel minimum trade) just to be the winner who shot the price above that magical century point. It was all done with his own money, for his own benefit. Weak.

Source: the Daily Mail

Another way D. melanogaster=H. sapiens

Let me first say that I think it's brilliant how much mileage geneticists are getting out of fruit flies, in terms of research projects. We've learned so much about ourselves, just by studying the molecular biology of these tiny little creatures, who at face values are so different from ourselves

The latest news from the Drosophila camp is that flies get frisky when drunk. Specifically "hypersexuality caused by chronic alcohol exposure has the effect of making the males chase anything with wings — other males included." I have a mexican friend who will chase anything with two legs and a heartbeat. Legs optional (heartbeat might be optional too) ... but that's neither here nor there.

The study also noted that the alcohol had little effect on the females of the species (in terms of mating behavior, at least) because they do not actively court males. Previous studies involving ethanol and fruit flies have indicated that their molecular systems react to alcohol much like humans: they act the same when drunk (becoming disoriented and flying into things), and can build up a tolerance with repeated exposure

Interesting fly news courtesy of Nature News

'08 and Back With a Vengeance

Yes, now that it's 2008, I've decided to catch up on the Daily News, and bring further enlightenment to the intarwebs on all things that I find interesting and exciting.

For instance, this wonderful YouTube video, which shows a horse & rider pulling a sweet stunt-slide underneath a tractor trailer. I can think of no better way to usher in the new year!