Inner City Pressure

Saturday, June 30th, 2007

I got quite a kick out of the first episode of the Flight of the Conchords — binary solo! — and the first music video of the second episode, Inner City Pressure, made me laugh:

I had already seen one version of She’s So Hot, BOOM!, so a bit of the shock was lost, but it’s still great fun:

And, in case you missed it, you really should check out The Humans Are Dead:

Hamas TV kills off Mickey Mouse double

Saturday, June 30th, 2007

Hamas TV kills off Mickey Mouse double — and guess who they blame:

A Mickey Mouse lookalike who preached Islamic domination on a Hamas-affiliated children’s television program was beaten to death in the show’s final episode Friday.

In the final skit, “Farfour” was killed by an actor posing as an Israeli official trying to buy Farfour’s land. At one point, the mouse called the Israeli a “terrorist.”

“Farfour was martyred while defending his land,” said Sara, the teen presenter. He was killed “by the killers of children,” she added.

The weekly show, featuring a giant black-and-white rodent with a high-pitched voice, had attracted worldwide attention because the character urged Palestinian children to fight Israel. It was broadcast on Hamas-affiliated Al Aqsa TV.

Station officials said Friday that Farfour was taken off the air to make room for new programs. Station manager Mohammed Bilal said he did not know what would be shown instead.

Israeli officials have denounced the program, “Tomorrow’s Pioneers,” as incendiary and outrageous. The program was also opposed by the state-run Palestinian Broadcasting Corp., which is controlled by Fatah, Hamas’ rival.

Oh, oh, it’s magic

Friday, June 29th, 2007

The Economist blog gets a bit snarky — accurate, but snarky — with Oh, oh, it’s magic:

Advocates of a single-payer health care system for America often seem to be saying that their system will make everything better and nothing worse.
[...]
Medical innovation, it seems obvious, currently proceeds at its rapid pace because there are, in the American market, vast profits for doing so. This is why drugs and medical equipment tend to be introduced there, rather than, say, Sweden, despite the latter’s much-praised socialised system. But single-payer advocates angrily deny this. Pharmaceutical companies are blood-sucking leeches who spend all our money advertising viagra, so killing their profits won’t make us any worse off.

Isn’t it marvelous that single payer healthcare solves every single problem while having no drawbacks?

Horse-Zebra Hybrid

Friday, June 29th, 2007

I don’t think I would have expected a Horse-Zebra Hybrid to look quite like Eclypse:

A photo provided by the Zoo Safari and Hollywoodpark Stukenbrock shows the zebra and horse crossbreed ‘Eclyse’ during its presentation to the public in Schloss Holte, Germany, on Wednesday, June 27, 2007. The father of ‘Eclyse’ is a horse from Italy, where the crossbreed filly was born in 2006, her mother is a zebra from the Safari park.

Cradle of civilization also cats’ cradle

Friday, June 29th, 2007

Cradle of civilization also cats’ cradle:

The near Eastern wildcat, known scientifically as Felis silvestris lybica, is the likely ancestor of all the cats whose genes were sampled by the team, they report in Friday’s issue of the journal Science.

“Domestic cats throughout the entire world had a common ancestor and that common ancestor lived in the Near East. There was no separate domestication in Europe or South Africa or China,” said Carlos Driscoll of the National Cancer Institute and the University of Oxford in Britain.

“The domestication of wild species to complement human civilization stands as one of the more successful ‘biological experiments’ ever undertaken,” wrote the researchers, led by Dr. Stephen O’Brien of the National Cancer Institute, in their report.

“For cats, the process began over 9,000 years ago as the earliest farmers of the Fertile Crescent domesticated grains and cereals as well as livestock animals.” The Fertile Crescent stretches from modern-day Egypt to Iran.

Preserved remains show that cats were valued by Egyptians, and one skeleton unearthed in Cyprus in 2004 showed that people were keeping cats as pets more than 9,000 years ago.

Driscoll, who admits he is a cat person, adds: “You are not civilized without a cat.”

Potential cure for HIV discovered

Friday, June 29th, 2007

Potential cure for HIV discovered:

In a breakthrough that could potentially lead to a cure for HIV infection, scientists have discovered a way to remove the virus from infected cells, a study released Thursday said.

The scientists engineered an enzyme which attacks the DNA of the HIV virus and cuts it out of the infected cell, according to the study published in Science magazine.

The enzyme is still far from being ready to use as a treatment, the authors warned, but it offers a glimmer of hope for the more than 40 million people infected worldwide.

Oh, oh, it’s magic

Friday, June 29th, 2007

The Economist blog gets a bit snarky — accurate, but snarky — with Oh, oh, it’s magic:

Advocates of a single-payer health care system for America often seem to be saying that their system will make everything better and nothing worse.
[...]
Medical innovation, it seems obvious, currently proceeds at its rapid pace because there are, in the American market, vast profits for doing so. This is why drugs and medical equipment tend to be introduced there, rather than, say, Sweden, despite the latter’s much-praised socialised system. But single-payer advocates angrily deny this. Pharmaceutical companies are blood-sucking leeches who spend all our money advertising viagra, so killing their profits won’t make us any worse off.

Isn’t it marvelous that single payer healthcare solves every single problem while having no drawbacks?

Horse-Zebra Hybrid

Friday, June 29th, 2007

I don’t think I would have expected a Horse-Zebra Hybrid to look quite like Eclypse:

A photo provided by the Zoo Safari and Hollywoodpark Stukenbrock shows the zebra and horse crossbreed ‘Eclyse’ during its presentation to the public in Schloss Holte, Germany, on Wednesday, June 27, 2007. The father of ‘Eclyse’ is a horse from Italy, where the crossbreed filly was born in 2006, her mother is a zebra from the Safari park.

Cradle of civilization also cats’ cradle

Friday, June 29th, 2007

Cradle of civilization also cats’ cradle:

The near Eastern wildcat, known scientifically as Felis silvestris lybica, is the likely ancestor of all the cats whose genes were sampled by the team, they report in Friday’s issue of the journal Science.

“Domestic cats throughout the entire world had a common ancestor and that common ancestor lived in the Near East. There was no separate domestication in Europe or South Africa or China,” said Carlos Driscoll of the National Cancer Institute and the University of Oxford in Britain.

“The domestication of wild species to complement human civilization stands as one of the more successful ‘biological experiments’ ever undertaken,” wrote the researchers, led by Dr. Stephen O’Brien of the National Cancer Institute, in their report.

“For cats, the process began over 9,000 years ago as the earliest farmers of the Fertile Crescent domesticated grains and cereals as well as livestock animals.” The Fertile Crescent stretches from modern-day Egypt to Iran.

Preserved remains show that cats were valued by Egyptians, and one skeleton unearthed in Cyprus in 2004 showed that people were keeping cats as pets more than 9,000 years ago.

Driscoll, who admits he is a cat person, adds: “You are not civilized without a cat.”

Potential cure for HIV discovered

Friday, June 29th, 2007

Potential cure for HIV discovered:

In a breakthrough that could potentially lead to a cure for HIV infection, scientists have discovered a way to remove the virus from infected cells, a study released Thursday said.

The scientists engineered an enzyme which attacks the DNA of the HIV virus and cuts it out of the infected cell, according to the study published in Science magazine.

The enzyme is still far from being ready to use as a treatment, the authors warned, but it offers a glimmer of hope for the more than 40 million people infected worldwide.

The Ultimate Fighter 5 Finale

Thursday, June 28th, 2007

I didn’t get around to watching The Ultimate Fighter 5 Finale until last night. Wow. That’s some good TV.

I had never even heard of Roger Huerta, despite his Sports Illustrated cover — it’s odd that they didn’t choose Liddell or a similar star, isn’t it? — so I wasn’t sure what to expect. I am familiar with referee Steve Mazzagatti though, so I shouldn’t have been surprised when he let Huerta rain down a whole lot of unanswered blows:

Huerta tried to secure a rear-naked choke but Evans’ defense prevented it so Huerta instead unloaded a series of strikes to the head. Finally, after what seemed like 20 or so unanswered punches, referee Steve Mazzagatti stepped in and pulled Huerta away. The official time of the TKO was 3:30 of the second round.

“I finally got position, got a good angle, started going for a rear-naked choke,” Huerta said after the fight. “I couldn’t finish it. You could tell he’s a real good ground guy, real good wrestler. He didn’t want to get choked out. But I just kept going, wanting the ref to finish it.”

I’ve seen Thales Leites before, and I’ve been impressed, so I was not surprised that he won, but I was impressed with his smooth transition to the arm-triangle — and I was surprised to hear the Japanese term kata-gatame used to describe it.

On Sunday, at a friend’s grill-out, another friend mentioned seeing some kind of UFC contraversy on ESPN. It’s still somewhat shocking to have MMA news on ESPN, but it’s particularly upsetting to be the UFC expert and not know what happened. What happened was too odd to make up:

Once the fighters crashed on the mat, Emerson tapped out because his ribs were badly injured. Referee Steve Mazzagatti quickly waved off the fight because of the tap from Emerson but he failed to realize that Maynard had knocked himself out in the process.

After several minutes of mass confusion, the Nevada State Athletic Commission overruled Mazzagatti’s call and deemed the fight a no contest.

That was wild, but watching Joe Rogan interview Maynard was a riot. Maynard denied ever being out, and Rogan could only say, “Bro, bro, watch the replay. You were out.” Maynard doesn’t make a much better showing in his post-fight interview.

Anyway, if that freak ending wasn’t freaky enough, there was also the freak ending to the Manvel GamburyanNathan Diaz fight:

In the co-main event, Nate Diaz became The Ultimate Fighter 5 champion basically by accident, as opponent Manvel Gamburyan injured his right shoulder 20 seconds into the second round.

“When I [went] for his left leg, I popped it out,” a disappointed Gamburyan said about his shoulder. “He sprawled really good, and I popped it out. I thought I broke my shoulder and neck [at the] same time. I was hurt really bad. I know I can fight hard, but it was really bad pain. I can’t continue.”

There was nothing freaky or unexpected about the B.J. PennJens Pulver fight — except that Penn seemed to be taking his time, almost toying with Pulver:

There were a few times during the skirmish when it appeared as though Penn (11-4-1) could have ended the fight early and gone for either an armbar or rear-naked choke, but he seemed content to keep a slower pace in an effort to administer a more potent beating.

“He didn’t go for the easy submission,” said Pulver after the disappointing loss. “He tried to beat the hell out of me. I respect him more and more every minute. B.J.’s a savage; he’s very good.”

I guess BJ’s post-fight interview was a bit of a surprise:

Penn was unavailable for comments moments after the triumph over Pulver, his rival-turned-future training partner. Instead, Penn shouted into the microphone for everybody to visit his personal Web site — bjpenn.com — which ironically crashed due to a likely surge in traffic.

Every TUF finale so far has kept me interested.

Ex-Marine teaches pickpocket a lesson

Wednesday, June 27th, 2007

I must admit, I love stories like this. Ex-Marine teaches pickpocket a lesson:

Bill Barnes says he was scratching off a losing $2 lottery ticket inside a gas station when he felt a hand slip into his front-left pants pocket, where he had $300 in cash.

He immediately grabbed the person’s wrist with his left hand and started throwing punches with his right, landing six or seven blows before a store manager intervened.

“I guess he thought I was an easy mark,” Barnes, 72, told The Grand Rapids Press for a story Tuesday.

He’s anything but an easy mark: Barnes served in the Marines, was an accomplished Golden Gloves boxer and retired after 20 years as an iron worker.

Jesse Daniel Rae, the 27-year-old Newaygo County man accused of trying to pick Barnes’ pocket, was arraigned Monday in Rockford District Court on one count of unarmed robbery, a 15-year felony.

Iraq, The Guaranteed Solution

Wednesday, June 27th, 2007

In Iraq, The Guaranteed Solution, James Dunnigan looks at the Iraqi and American solutions to Sunni terrorism:

The Iraqi solution is the traditional one; punish the entire Sunni Arab community. Since the Kurds and Shia now have far more men under arms than do the Sunni Arabs, this approach would result in a series of battles against Sunni Arab neighborhoods (in large cities) and towns (out in the countryside). These areas would be cut off from the outside world. Food, water and electricity would cut off as well. Surrender or die. Those who surrendered would be disarmed, taken to a border area, and forced out of the country. In some areas, there might be massacres as well. It’s an Iraqi tradition that’s hard to shake.

The other approach is less popular among most Iraqis, and it is the American one. This involves getting Sunni Arab leaders to tame the terrorists in their midst, and become law-abiding Iraqis. Few Kurds or Shia Arabs feel they can trust the Sunni Arabs, but if they want to keep American troops in the country (which keeps the Iraqi casualty rate down, and unfriendly neighbors out), they have to go along with the current “surge” campaign.

Female tennis players and wages

Tuesday, June 26th, 2007

Tyler Cowen cites the “politically incorrect paper of the day” on female tennis players and wages:

Female tennis players play more conservatively and commit more unforced errors when playing critical points. Does this explain the upper-echelons wage gap?
[...]
Women are significantly more likely to hit unforced errors at the most crucial stages of the match, while men exhibit no significant variation in performance. Specifically, about 30% of men’s points end in unforced errors, regardless of their placement in the distribution of the importance variable. For women, about 36% of points in the bottom quartile of the importance distribution end in unforced errors, but unforced errors rise to nearly 40% for points in the top quartile of the importance distribution. What is remarkable is not the difference in the levels (men are more powerful and therefore more likely to hit winners at any stage). The interest lies in the differences in the way men and women respond to increases in competitive pressure.

Like Wi-Fi on Steroids

Tuesday, June 26th, 2007

Business 2.0 says that Wi-Max, which Sprint will be offering soon, is Like Wi-Fi on Steroids:

Sprint says its new service will go live in three markets — Baltimore, Chicago, and Washington — by the end of 2007. It will be the first U.S. carrier to launch the next-generation network, which already exists in South Korea and is five times faster than current 3G cellular data services. Sprint hopes to have coverage available to 100 million Americans in about 35 regions nationwide by 2009.