You are currently browsing the monthly archive for September 2009.

Three more videos which I hope you will enjoy, or at least find interesting. 

One is a classic American folk song, one a hard rocking number just released (in case anyone under 30 happens to stop by), and one,uh, unique performer.  Let me know what you think of them.

1) Tennessee Ernie Ford had a TV show my family watched.  He had a #1 hit record with “16 Tons” in 1955 that I use to drive my parents crazy trying to sing in his deep voice.  They were however a lot happier with me singing Ford’s hit then with my growing love of Rock & Roll, the devils music.  🙂

From his TV show “Shenandoah”

2) A new, hard rocking number, from Porcupine Tree, released in September.  My older friends might want to turn down their hearing aids.  🙂

Porcupine Tree – Shallow

3) The next performer can best be described as unique, which may be kind.  🙂  Once you hear him you will certainly not forget his voice(?), as much as you may want to. 🙂

Tiny Tim – Living In the Sunlight  (Performed in Australia demonstrating his world wide fame)

How’s that for three completely different styles. 🙂

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My blog buddy Mandyposted this video.  It’s from the Ted Talks series.  Evan Grant talks about cymatics, making sound waves visible.

The most interesting part to me was about visualizing the sonar beams that dolphins emit.  This could someday lead to having an actual conversation with a dolphin.  We may learn that Douglas Adams was right.  🙂

Growing up I was much better at communicating with my dog Buttons then I was with people.

On the Cymatics.org site they show you how to make a cymatic rig “from commonly available parts”.  They also warn “If you’ve never attempted a home DIY project before please seek the assistance of someone who has. Preferably somebody with basic electronics skills, a decent tool kit and a garage or cellar space where you can make a mess… and a lot of noise”

http://www.cymatics.org/

I don’t know if I have the skill to make a cymatic rig, but I am very good at making a mess.

What is the most complicated thing you tried to make?  How did it go?
 

 

 

 

 

 

Sundays New York Times had a story about some amazing medical advances that are helping the blind gain some degree of vision.

I do wear glasses so having good vision is not a problem.  My problem with blindness has to do with my heart, not my eyes.  There is unfortunately nothing modern medicine can do about blind love.  🙂 

No can predict when this technology will be perfected.  My guess is that in 20 or 30 years blindness will be corrected at the cellular level, DNA level.  The defect in the cells in a blind person’s eyes will be fixed so the cells will regrow properly to provide vision.

A video about the Artificial Retina Project.  There is also a video on the NYT page of the article were Barbara Campbell talks about what it is like to receive a artificial retina.

NYT article:

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/27/health/research/27eye.html?_r=2&hpw

Burst of Technology Helps Blind to See

 By  Pam Belluck

Blindness first began creeping up on Barbara Campbell when she was a teenager, and by her late 30s, her eye disease had stolen what was left of her sight.

Reliant on a talking computer for reading and a cane for navigating New York City, where she lives and works, Ms. Campbell, now 56, would have been thrilled to see something. Anything.

Now, as part of a striking experiment, she can. So far, she can detect burners on her stove when making a grilled cheese, her mirror frame, and whether her computer monitor is on.

She is beginning an intensive three-year research project involving electrodes surgically implanted in her eye, a camera on the bridge of her nose and a video processor strapped to her waist.

The project, involving patients in the United States, Mexico and Europe, is part of a burst of recent research aimed at one of science’s most-sought-after holy grails: making the blind see.

Some of the 37 other participants further along in the project can differentiate plates from cups, tell grass from sidewalk, sort white socks from dark, distinguish doors and windows, identify large letters of the alphabet, and see where people are, albeit not details about them.

Linda Morfoot, 65, of Long Beach, Calif., blind for 12 years, says she can now toss a ball into a basketball hoop, follow her nine grandchildren as they run around her living room and “see where the preacher is” in church.

“For someone who’s been totally blind, this is really remarkable,” said Andrew P. Mariani, a program director at the National Eye Institute. “They’re able to get some sort of vision.”

Scientists involved in the project, the artificial retina, say they have plans to develop the technology to allow people to read, write and recognize faces.

 Advances in technology, genetics, brain science and biology are making a goal that long seemed out of reach — restoring sight — more feasible.

“For a long time, scientists and clinicians were very conservative, but you have to at some point get out of the laboratory and focus on getting clinical trials in actual humans,” said Timothy J. Schoen, director of science and preclinical development for the Foundation Fighting Blindness. Now “there’s a real push,” he said, because “we’ve got a lot of blind people walking around, and we’ve got to try to help them.”

More than 3.3 million Americans 40 and over, or about one in 28, are blind or have vision so poor that even with glasses, medicine or surgery, everyday tasks are difficult, according to the National Eye Institute, a federal agency. That number is expected to double in the next 30 years. Worldwide, about 160 million people are similarly affected.

“With an aging population, it’s obviously going to be an increasing problem,” said Michael D. Oberdorfer, who runs the visual neuroscience program for the National Eye Institute, which finances several sight-restoration projects, including the artificial retina. Wide-ranging research is important, he said, because different methods could help different causes of blindness.

The approaches include gene therapy, which has produced improved vision in people who are blind from one rare congenital disease. Stem cell research is considered promising, although far from producing results, and other studies involve a light-responding protein and retinal transplants.

Others are implanting electrodes in monkeys’ brains to see if directly stimulating visual areas might allow even people with no eye function to see.

And recently, Sharron Kay Thornton, 60, from Smithdale, Miss., blinded by a skin condition, regained sight in one eye after doctors at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine extracted a tooth (her eyetooth, actually), shaved it down and used it as a base for a plastic lens replacing her cornea.

It was the first time the procedure, modified osteo-keratoprosthesis, was performed in this country. The surgeon, Dr. Victor L. Perez, said it could help people with severely scarred corneas from chemical or combat injuries.

Other techniques focus on delaying blindness, including one involving a capsule implanted in the eye to release proteins that slow the decay of light-responding cells. And with BrainPort, a camera worn by a blind person captures images and transmits signals to electrodes slipped onto the tongue, causing tingling sensations that a person can learn to decipher as the location and movement of objects.

Ms. Campbell’s artificial retina works similarly, except it produces the sensation of sight, not tingling on the tongue. Developed by Dr. Mark S. Humayun, a retinal surgeon at the University of Southern California, it drew on cochlear implants for the deaf and is partly financed by a cochlear implant maker.

It is so far being used in people with retinitis pigmentosa, in which photoreceptor cells, which take in light, deteriorate.

Gerald J. Chader, chief scientific officer at the University of Southern California’s Doheny Retinal Institute, where Dr. Humayun works, said it should also work for severe cases of age-related macular degeneration, the major cause of vision loss in older people.

With the artificial retina, a sheet of electrodes is implanted in the eye. The person wears glasses with a tiny camera, which captures images that the belt-pack video processor translates into patterns of light and dark, like the “pixelized image we see on a stadium scoreboard,” said Jessy D. Dorn, a research scientist at Second

Sight Medical Products, which produces the device, collaborating with the Department of Energy. (Other research teams are developing similar devices.)

The video processor directs each electrode to transmit signals representing an object’s contours, brightness and contrast, which pulse, along optic neurons into the brain.

Currently, “it’s a very crude image,” Dr. Dorn said, because the implant has only 60 electrodes; many people see flashes or patches of light.

Brian Mech, Second Sight’s vice president for business development, said the company was seeking federal approval to market the 60-electrode version, which would cost up to $100,000 and might be covered by insurance. Also planned are 200- and 1,000-electrode versions; the higher number might provide enough resolution for reading. (Dr. Mech said a maximum electrode number would eventually be reached because if they are packed too densely, retinal tissue could be burned.)

“Every subject has received some sort of visual input,” he said. “There are people who aren’t extremely impressed with the results, and other people who are.” Second Sight is studying what affects results, including whether practice or disease characteristics influence the brain’s ability to relearn how to process visual signals.

People choose when to use the device by turning their camera on. Dean Lloyd, 68, a Palo Alto, Calif., lawyer, was “pretty disappointed” when he started in 2007, but since his implant was adjusted so more electrodes responded, is “a lot more excited about it,” he said. He uses it constantly, seeing “borders and boundaries” and flashes from highly reflective objects, like glass, water or eyes.

With Ms. Morfoot’s earlier 16-electrode version, which registers objects as horizontal lines, she climbed the Eiffel Tower and “could see all the lights of the city,” she said. “I can see my hand when I’m writing. At Little League games, I can see where the catcher, batter and umpire are.” 

Kathy Blake, 58, of Fountain Valley, Calif., said she mainly wanted to help advance research. But she uses it to sort laundry, notice cars and people, and on the Fourth of July, to “see all the fireworks,” she said.

Ms. Campbell, a vocational rehabilitation counselor for New York’s Commission for the Blind and Visually Handicapped, has long been cheerfully self-sufficient, traveling widely from her fourth-floor walk-up, going to the theater, babysitting for her niece in North Carolina.

But little things rankle, like not knowing if clothes are stained and needing help shopping for greeting cards. Everything is a “gray haze — like being in a cloud,” she said. The device will not make her “see like I used to see,” she said. “But it’s going to be more than what I have. It’s not just for me — it’s for so many other people that will follow me.”

Ms. Campbell’s “realistic view of her vision” and willingness to practice are a plus, said Aries Arditi, senior fellow in vision science at Lighthouse International, a nonprofit agency overseeing her weekly training, which includes practice moving her head so the camera captures images and interpreting light as objects.

“In 20 years, people will think it’s primitive, like the difference between a Model T and a Ferrari,” said Dr. Lucian

Del Priore, an ophthalmology surgeon at New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center, who implanted Ms. Campbell’s electrodes. “But the fact is, the Model T came first.”

Ms. Campbell would especially like to see colors, but, for now, any color would be random flashes, Dr. Arditi said.

But she saw circular lights at a restaurant, part of a light installation at an art exhibition. “There’s a lot to learn,” she said. Still, “I’m, like, really seeing this.”

 

1) Latest Fashion Trend

From the British paper The Guardian.

Bunny ears. From Louis Vuitton to the Olsen twins the latest must-have accessory.

Bunny Ears - The Latest Fashion Trend

Bunny Ears - The Latest Fashion Trend

http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2009/sep/07/bunny-ears-fashion 

What is the last article of clothing you bought?

2) A winning short documentary on the Really Terrible Orchestra by Edward Brooke-Hitchins (2005).  One group of muscians I could play with.

Have you ever played a musical instrument? With a group?

You know the drill.  Let me know what you think of each performance.

What is the last song you heard, beside these three of course, that got you dancing, moved your soul, or both.  🙂

1) The first song was just released on iTunes.  It’s a cover of the Jackson Five hit “I Want You Back” by the group Sonos.  Sonos is an acappella I had not heard of before. 

Sonos – I Want You Back

2)One of my favorite Christian singers is Jennifer Knapp.  She took a five year break from performing but announced last month that she will be returning to music.

Jennifer Knapp from a live performance – Whole Again

3) One of the great storytellers in music is Joni Mitchell.  I love the tale she tells of the one man band who was playing  “For Free”.

Joni Mitchell – For Free

The Mall Jungle

The Mall Jungle

My ancestors from the distant past had it easy.  All they had to deal with was killing a five ton woolly mammoth with a spear, and not getting eaten by saber tooth tigers.  Today I had to survive the jungle that is retail shopping.  🙂

My PC monitor died over the weekend.  I have been doing most of my shopping over the Internet recently, but did not want to wait the three or four days it would have taken to deliver my new monitor.  Four days is too long for me to go without my blog buddies.  🙂

I thought it would be just a 15 minute trip to the local Target, I had gone online and knew they had what I wanted.  Unfortunately it was all sold out.  No problem, I knew a Circuit City that wasn’t too far away.  Of course I had not realized they had closed up shop.  I remembered a COMP USA store a few towns away, that I had bought from in the past.  When I got there it was a Halloween Specialty store.  I was beginning to suspect it would be Halloween before I got my monitor. 🙂

I finally had to drive to a Mall about 30 miles away.  It should not have been too long a trip, except I forgot about the workday traffic.  Finally making it to the Mall I saw the first store right in front of the parking lot was a Sear.  I thought I’ll just park, hop into the store, and be one my way in no time.  Sear does not sell computer equipment anymore.  I walk from Sears  past everything but a Computer store.  The last store I got to was a Target.  Kinda felt like deja vous all over again.  🙂  This Target did not have the model I wanted, but did sell a cheaper one that had similar features.

So I bagged me a PC monitor. It only took 6 hours and about 10 miles of walking.  The young Ed would have been stressed out of his mind.  The retired Ed had a nice ride, got in some mall walking, and saved $50.

What is the last item you bought  purely for your own enjoyment?

If you were given a $1,000 gift certificate, but had to spend it only on yourself, what would you buy?

I will start with some questions, then reference some scriptures that seem to me to address these questions.  Since my friends who comment here are mostly Christ Followers I will quote from the New Testament.

Is it a sin not to go to church on Sunday?  

During the period I attended a Protestant church, up to the age of thirteen, I remember being led to believe it was a sin not to go to church on Sunday.  My guess is that as long as you spend the Sabbath in worship of God it should not matter where you do it.

Does it manner in which you worship God make any difference?  

My perceptions is that worshiping God means making sacrifices in his name and following his guidance. 

I can understand that following the traditional method of worship service for the church you belong to reinforces your bond to their doctrine/ guidance.  My guess is that to your God the only thing that counts is the degree of faith to him you demonstrate in your worship service. 

From the Bible (King James Version)

Mathew 18:19-20

19Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven.

 20For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.

Acts 2:1

1And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.

Acts 17:24

 24God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands;

1 Corinthians 14:15

15What is it then? I will pray with the spirit, and I will pray with the understanding also: I will sing with the spirit, and I will sing with the understanding also.

Hebrews 10:25

25Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.

1 Peter 2-5

5Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.

I was going over my iPod library and found some songs that speak to my past.  I also found a very inspiring song on the blog of my friend Alece.

Let me know what you think of each song.

1) As a teen I saw the birth of  Rock & Roll.  I remember the great artiest that help develop that sound, and changed our world, Bill Haley & the Comets, Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley, and of course Elvis.  One of my first favorites was Gene Vincent & the Blue Caps.  He was one of the first who played in the style that became know as Rockabilly.  “Be-Bop-A-Lula,” is in my top ten songs of the 1950’s.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gene_Vincent

2) Throughout my life I sometime get the sense that I am an alien from another planet.  I just don’t see the world as everyone else does.  Brian Wilson wrote several songs, like “In My Room”, that speak to this feeling of alienation, we all probably feel at one time or another.

His bio on Wikipedia – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brian_Wilson

The last album he collaborated with the Beach Boys on was the grand-breaking “Pet Sounds”.  Many critics consider it in the top ten of all time.  This is a song from that album I can relate to.

Just Wasn’t Made for These Times

3) My friend Alece posted one of the most emotionally inspirational songs I have heard in awhile.  

The song makes me feel an overwhelming sense of love.  You don’t have to believe in the divinity of Jesus to feel the love expressed in this song.  You can find the lyrics on Alece’s blog.

How He Loves Us – Kim Walker/ Jesus Culture

All you could want in a post about science.  Research that is helping us to better understand how our brain works, a study on human behavior, and a story about a really creepy creature, with link to photo.

First a question.  Rank these potential scientific developments based on which you think is the most likely to happen first. 

1. Treating illness at the genetic, DNA, level.

2. Discovering life on another planet

3. Cheap, and clean, energy source.

4. Being able to rewire the brain to treat people who are suffering from dementia.

5. Discovering that based on a mathematical equation the existence of God can be proven.

1) Researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine have now discovered that establishing the neural wiring necessary to function normally depends on the ability of neurons to make finger-like projections of their membrane called filopodia.

In laying down the neural circuitry of the developing brain, billions of neurons must first migrate to their correct destinations and then form complex synaptic connections with their new neighbors.

When the process goes awry, neurodevelopmental disorders such as mental retardation, dyslexia or autism may result. Researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine have now discovered that establishing the neural wiring necessary to function normally depends on the ability of neurons to make finger-like projections of their membrane called filopodia.

The finding, published as the cover story of the Sept. 4 issue of the journal Cell, indicates that the current notion regarding how cells change shape, migrate or differentiate needs to be revisited.

http://www.unchealthcare.org/site/newsroom/news/2009/September/polleux

2) Rewards go further than punishment in building human cooperation and benefiting the common good, according to research published this week in the journal Science by researchers at Harvard University and the Stockholm School of Economics. While previous studies have focused almost exclusively on punishment for promoting public cooperation, here rewards are shown to be much more successful.

The new study, which finds that rewards robustly build compliance and cooperation, could help in developing solutions for thorny problems requiring the cooperation of large numbers of people to achieve a greater good. It was conducted using a computer-based public goods game, a classic experiment for measuring collective action in a laboratory setting. The study contradicts previous research, which has stated that peer punishment is the only effective mechanism for promoting public cooperation.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/09/090903163550.htm

3) A rare parasite which burrows into host fish before eating and replacing their tongues with itself has been found off the Jersey coast.

Fishermen near the Minquiers – islands under the jurisdiction of Jersey – found the isopod, a type of louse, inside a weaver fish.

Marine researcher Paul Chambers, from the Société Jersiaise, was one of the fishing party and identified the find.

He said he was surprised to find the isopod away from the Mediterranean sea.

Isopods are normally about 2cm (1in) long and live in fish, surviving on the animal’s blood, in warm waters.

Mr Chambers told BBC Jersey: “When we emptied the fish bag out there at the bottom was this incredibly ugly looking isopod.

“Really quite large, really quite hideous – if you turn it over its got dozens of these really sharp, nasty claws underneath and I thought ‘that’s a bit of a nasty beast’.

“I struggled for weeks to find an identification for this thing until, quite by chance I stumbled across something that looked similar in a Victorian journal.

“Apparently there’s not too much ill effect to the fish itself except it’s lost its tongue.”

Experts at the University of Southampton confirmed that the creature was an isopod and that there had been several sightings of them in Cornwall in 1996.

Mr Chambers added: “It doesn’t affect humans other than if you do actually come across a live one and try and pick it up – they are quite vicious, they will deliver a good nip.”

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/jersey/8246001.stm 

Link to blog post with picture, if you dare.  🙂

http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2009/09/isnt_nature_beautiful.php

Question for my Christian friends.  How did these guys make it onto the Ark, but the Unicorns didn’t?  🙂

Taking a break from 48 straight hours of watching football I thought I would share some of Sunday’s comic strips with you.

Sometimes the comic strips give you a more accurate reflection on current society then the rest of the paper. 🙂 Pick the one you like best. 

Herman

Son asking his parents for help with his homework.  Son, “Who wrote A Midsummer Nights Dream?”  Father, “Elton John”.  Mother, “The Bee Gees”.

Son, “Who lead the crusades?” Father, “Which season?”.  Mother, “Joe Namath.”

Son writes down answers and goes out to play.  Father, “Is that all he learns at school, pop music and baseball?”

Grand Avenue

Mother, “How nice. I got a letter from Jan.”  Daughter, “Is she a Facebook friend?”  Mother, “Not exactly.” 

Daughter, “More of a Twitter friend?”  Mother, “Nope.” 

Daughter, “A professional Linkedin friend?  A Classmate.com friend?”  Mother, “No and No.” 

Daughter, “What kind of a friend is she?”  Mother,” A good old-fashioned true blue friend.”

Daughter, “I can’t find any social networking service with that name anywhere online.”

Monty

Man having a drink in his backyard talking to his Priest, “I know you preach that everyone should love thy neighbor.”  Priest, “That is what the Bible says.” 

Man, “Let me show you what I am dealing with.”  

Man brings the Priest to his fence to look at his neighbor.  Neighbor is wearing a Mexican hat, singing the Macarena, while hula-hooping in his underwear.

Priest,  “I’ll talk to the Bishop and maybe in this case we can bump it down to ‘tolerate thy neighbor’.”

Arlo and Janis

As light grows dark and dark grows long

Fresh winds tune up for Autumn’s song.

The woo of summer has been pitched

The chicks have flown and the nest had ditched.

If these fail herald the time that’s not

We’ve microwave, cell phone and coffee pot.

Mother Goose and Grimm.

Mother Goose’s dog and cat are sitting on her sofa.  The dog is reading the newspapers.

Dog, “Oh dear.  Some laboratory in California is raising medical marijuana.”  Cat, “So what?”

Dog, “A flock of terns landed in their garden and eat all their plants.”  Cat, “Are the birds okay?”

Dog, “There was no tern that was left unstoned.”  Cat, “I am quitting this comic strip.”

Loose Parts

A couple at the ticket booth on the updated, modern, “Tunnel of Love”

Ticket seller, “Oh it’s very realistic.  You go smoothly until you hit a wall.  Then a lawyer jumps in, takes half your boat, and swim for your lives clinging to the wreckage.”

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