Friday, 31 August 2007

Cancer cure from pool of death?

"Berkeley Pit Lake is about a mile long and half again as wide, rimmed by naked rock walls that gleam white under the sun of big-sky country. The water is oxblood red at the surface, stained by manganese and iron; deeper down, heavy copper compounds turn it the color of limeade. It will burn your eyes, stain your clothes, and desiccate your skin. If you drink it, it will corrode your gullet before it poisons you. A dozen years ago, 342 snow geese made the mistake of overnighting at the lake. They were dead the next morning.

...This used to be a copper mine. For more than a century, workers pulled ore from the ground here. Then, in 1982, the Anaconda Mining Company shut down Berkeley Pit and turned off the pumps that kept out the groundwater. The 3,900-foot-deep hole began to fill up — 7.2 million gallons a day at first, flowing in from aquifers and from 10,000 miles of abandoned mine shafts, stopes, and tunnels beneath the city of Butte. The water is still rushing in today.

The effects have been catastrophic. Pyrite minerals in the rock oxidized in the water, transforming the pit into a giant cauldron of dilute battery acid spiked with metals. Today, Berkeley Pit contains 37 billion gallons of contaminated water and is part of the biggest contiguous Superfund site in the US, stretching 120 miles from Butte to just outside Missoula.

Berkeley Pit, it turns out, isn't entirely sterile. The Stierles have identified more than 100 types of microbes in the lake — bacteria, algae, and fungi that manage to survive in the unique, noxious ecosystem. Natural selection has had its way with many of them — some of these organisms apparently live nowhere else on Earth.

Their first big hit, berkeleydione, came from a Penicillium species they found in a pit-water sample in 1998. It inhibited the growth of non-small cell lung cancer. That gave them enough credibility to keep at it. Then, in 2002, they found a Penicillium species that, like berkeleydione, was unique to Berkeley Pit. A compound it made worked against the enzymes in their assay kit and in the NCI 60-cell assay, where an extract from the stuff attacked cells from OVCAR-3, an ovarian cancer. "With the first compound, the reaction was like, ‘Well, OK, that's interesting,'" Andrea says. "But when we did it again, it was, ‘Wow! Maybe there's more to these pit microbes than we thought.'" Don and Andrea named the extract berkelic acid.

Read full article at Wired.

Thursday, 30 August 2007

Installation Proposal


Courtesy of Gizmodiva.

Smoke Photography

More at Make.

Courtesy of BoingBoing.

Wednesday, 29 August 2007

Greenberg v Campbell Smackdown!

Brilliant! Gosh, I wish I could exact revenge in this way too!

View entire 'comic strip' *duckin for cover* here.

Tuesday, 28 August 2007

Book Happiness! David Mack

I found this gem while browsing at Comics R Us today (a fantastic comic books store on Level 1, 220 Bourke Street, Melbourne - an immaculate establishment run by super friendly enthusiasts. I'm a newbie to the scene, but I sure feel the comic book love in that store :D ).

Reflections just stood out from the rest of the pack on the shelves, and there was serious competition on that long back wall!

Reflections Vol. 1, No. 8, 2007 is an eclectic collection of David Mack's beautiful work; paintings, drawings, musings, and even jerky handiwork from when he was five :D

It made my breath catch, and as I held the volume in my hands, all I could think was 'Wow!'

Until today, I had never heard of Mack, but I suspect he is going to do some serious damage to my bank balance.

Kabuki series: gimme gimme!


Check out this interview with Mack.

"Investigate everything, keep what resonates with you, and funnel that into your work in a way that fits your point of view and enriches your work. The biggest point of advice, I can give is to just do it. In the process of doing it, you figure out how to do it, and what you want out of it."

Ok. Gotta get my hands dirty again :)

Sunday, 26 August 2007

Masi Oka on Heroes

Great interview!

Q: Now Masi, I was wondering was there anything new in the future in the second season concerning your character-- or anyone else's -- or even an event -- that surprised you?
Oka: Oh gosh--so many things. Every week's always a surprise. The writers have – before actors, we're big fans of the show. And we just can't wait to read the scripts. And that is even more so in Season 2. They keep -- you think, "Oh, how can they really top...?" Well, we're now trying to top, I guess, last season. How can they top, like, the week before? It'sjust amazing because the writers always find a way to surprise us and put smiles on everyone's faces. It just puts us on the edge of our seats, just wanting to know what happens next. I'm going to leave you wanting to know what happens next.

Q: Hey, you mentioned the possibility of a "Heroes" feature film with the "Heroes" branching out into so many different mediums.
Oka: That was a joke on my part.

Q: Yeah, I realize it was a joke. But it almost seems like a natural place for this to end up at some point. Is it anything you guys have considered or discussed in any way?
Oka: Well, with what "The Simpsons Movie" did, Universal might get some ideas.

Q: After 14 years.
Oka: There you go. If you want a "Heroes" movie, please keep us afloat for another 14 seasons.

Read the full interview here.

Going Dark

Possibly going dark for a few days. If so, I'll be back on board towards the end of the week.


Thursday, 23 August 2007

Good Folk News: Book launch!

The Great Gatsby: a graphic adaptation by Nicki Greenberg

Nicki: Brilliant artist and author extraordinaire who moonlights as a lawyer. Intelligent, talented, beautiful, and so freaking nice to boot: just makes me want to shake her and exclaim, “There’s got to be something wrong with you!” :p

I am intrigued by the sneak peeks of her latest book on this review, and can’t wait to get my mitts on the book: eagerly awaiting the launch event on Thursday September 6th, 6:30pm, at Readings in Carlton (all are welcome to join the festivities).

Come along to the launch or check out the book in stores now.

Unfortunately, for nasty navel-gazing copyright reasons (Thanks a bunch Disney), the book cannot be sold in the US and UK. Wonder if Booktopia would oblige with deliveries to the US and UK...

Links to Nicki's Website and Blog.



"Google is unveiling within Google Earth today a new service called Sky that will allow users to view the skies as seen from Earth. Like Google Earth, Sky will let users fly around and zoom in, exposing increasingly detailed imagery of some 100 million stars and 200 million galaxies.

“You will be able to browse into the sky like never before,” said Carol Christian, an astronomer with the Space Telescope Science Institute, a nonprofit academic consortium that supports the Hubble Space Telescope."

More at BoingBoing

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Sleights of Mind

NYTimes article on a recent scientific symposium on the "Magic of Consciousness." The conference featured scientists, philosophers, and, of course, magicians discussing the nature of reality, attention, and cognition.

Excerpt on BoingBoing here.

Link to NYTime articles: Sleights of Mind

Gimme Gadget: Spycam!

World's smallest camera at Engadget

Flowchart for the cubicle

More at BoingBoing.

Thursday, 16 August 2007

Nifty Book Gadget

Best book gadget find ever. Hands-free reading while dining!

The Gimble.

Available at Dymocks in Melbourne.

Tuesday, 14 August 2007

My Outsourced Life

A great read: a good laff and food for thought.

"...I don't have a corporation; I don't even have an up-to-date business card. I'm a writer and editor working from home, usually in my boxer shorts or, if I'm feeling formal, my penguin-themed pajama bottoms. Then again, I think, why should Fortune 500 firms have all the fun? Why can't I join in on the biggest business trend of the new century? Why can't I outsource my low-end tasks? Why can't I outsource my life?

The next day I email Brickwork, one of the companies Friedman mentions in his book. Brickwork — based in Bangalore, India — offers "remote executive assistants," mostly to financial firms and health-care companies that want data processed. I explain that I'd like to hire someone to help with Esquire-related tasks — doing research, formatting memos, like that. The company's CEO, Vivek Kulkarni, responds: "It would be a great pleasure to be talking to a person of your stature." Already I'm liking this. I've never had stature before. In America, I barely command respect from a Bennigan's maĆ®tre d', so it's nice to know that in India I have stature.

... In fact, in the next few days, I outsource a whole mess of online errands to Asha: paying my bills, getting stuff from, finding my son a Tickle Me Elmo. (Actually, the store was out of Tickle Me Elmos, so Asha bought a Chicken Dance Elmo — good decision.) I had her call Cingular to ask about my cell-phone plan. I'm just guessing, but I bet her call was routed from Bangalore to New Jersey and then back to a Cingular employee in Bangalore, which makes me happy for some reason..."

Read full Esquire article here.

Sunday, 12 August 2007

Unpolished Gem - THANK YOU, ALICE!

Years upon years ago, when I read books the likes of Amy Tan's Kitchen Gods Wife, and Jung Chang's Wild Swans, I appreciated their voices in bringing forward to a wider audience the trials and tribulations of Confucian-Chinese culture. However, after reading a handful of these books, I quickly tired of all the moaning and groaning, and misty euphemisms.

Then I chanced upon Claire S Chow's, Leaving Deep Water: Asian American Women at the Crossroads of Two Cultures, which was a better effort. Less moaning and groaning but still, not enough bite for my liking. After all, so much of the culture is insane and I had yet to find a voice that truly captured the absurd within the culture: 'love' and 'affection' being largely governed by money, different treatment between boys and girls, troubled relationships among family members, philandering men, filial piety i.e. people older than you demanding respect just because they're older than you, even if they behave like asses - and that's an insult to the four-legged kind, emotionally distant adults, physical and/or psychological abuse and nutty politics among parents, children and extended family, the list goes on.

No doubt, these are not problems that are exclusively the realm of Confucian-Chinese families. But there must be something to it when, after thinking carefully through the yellow families that I have met and known well in the countries in which I have lived, Malaysia, Singapore and Australia (I didn't have close contact with local families in Shanghai, hence the exclusion), and listening to the stories of friends over the years, I can only identify three families in which the parents and children truly loved each other and enjoyed each other's company without all the usual-suspect shenanigans: and one of them was a Canadian family with a yellow dad and white mum, so they were always a somewhat different equation.

So, my search continued for voices that told it like it was. I eventually found this gem. Yell-Oh Girls! Emerging Voices Explore Culture, Identity, and Growing Up Asian American by Vickie Nam. Women engaged in the balancing act between two cultures, telling it like it was. Rough, ugly, angry, funny and hopeful.

I have since waited for an Australian voice the likes of the women in Yell-Oh Girls! My 7-year wait recently ended in the form of Unpolished Gem by Alice Pung. Here it is: an intelligent Aussie woman telling it like it is. My experience of growing up Yell-Oh in Australia is different from hers. We come from very different backgrounds, but there are similar themes that I immediately identify with as I read her words.

The best line I have read so far is, "
Constantly sighing and lying and dying - that is what being a Chinese woman means, and I want nothing to do with it." :D

And another gem, "To raise a girl, I realised, you'd need gallons of Social Conditioner with added Spirit Deflator. Rub onto every limb until limp, put the child into a chair and wait until she sets. When appendages harden, you know you have a perfect young woman - so still and silent and sedate that you could wrap your precious one in cotton wool and put her in a cabinet. Ah, look at the darling geisha behind glass."

More links: a description of Alice which made me smile, written by a lady who met her at a reading - Unpretentious Gem

Tuesday, 7 August 2007

The Dangerous Title For a Book For KIDS

There is apparently a fair amount of anxiety in the air in regard to raising boys. See, The Myth About Boys in TIME.

"...By the time our boy was headed to third grade, magazine editors were grinding out cover headlines like BOY TROUBLE and THE BOY CRISIS, and I was getting worried. The voyage to manhood had come to seem as perilous and flummoxing as the future of Iraq.

It's enough to make people long for the good old days. Sure enough, one of the hot books of the summer is a zestfully nostalgic celebration of boyhood past. The Dangerous Book for Boys, by brothers Hal and Conn Iggulden, flits from fossils to tree houses, from secret codes to go-carts, from the Battle of Gettysburg to the last voyage of Robert Falcon Scott. A sensation last year in Britain, the book has been at or near the top of the New York Times best-seller list since late spring.

The Dangerous Book, bound in an Edwardian red cover with marbled endpapers, has many of the timeless qualities of an ideal young man: curiosity, bravery and respectfulness; just enough rogue to leaven the stoic; an appetite for any challenge, from hunting small game to mastering the rules of grammar. It celebrates trial and error, vindicates the noble failure."

Hmmm... so, the abovementioned qualities of an ideal young man are not applicable to girls?

I've seen the book (The Dangerous Book for Boys) discussed in the article. After flicking through it, I quickly came to the conclusion that it has an asinine title. Yes, there's great, fun stuff in there, but it's not just for boys; I too would have pored over the book as a young girl, had I been given a book with that kind of content when I was a kid. What's with the idea that girls wouldn't be into all that cool content?

Perhaps the author figured he would sell more books with the sensationalist title. Well, I hope the discussion generated as a result will point people to alternatives such as Kids America (discussed below).

Maybe I haven't had children so I haven't closely observed first-hand the idea of inherent differences between boys and girls that is often bandied about. But, I'm not so sure about the 'inherent' part of that idea after observing the children I have come across in life by way of nieces, nephews and friends' kids. They are all balls of energy and curiosity while they're little and usually get streamlined into different types of play/toys/behaviour by adults around them, and later, by the other kids in playgroups/school around them, who in turn have been influenced by adults with fixed notions of what constitutes girl/boy preferences/behaviour.

Do boys and girls engage in different types of play, and display certain behaviour due to an inherent preference for certain types of play and an inherent propensity towards certain behaviour, or are differences due to influence by unenlightened adults? If we are raising boys and girls differently, how does that impact upon what they become in adulthood and in turn, how society operates? There must be plenty of research out there that I just haven't come across. Guess I'll have to investigate good books on this topic. So many books, so little time.

I just hope we're not regressing to a "boys will be boys" style of guiding boys displaying unacceptable behaviour, which breeds idiot men *grrrrrrr*

I've just had a quick look-see at commentary in regard to the book and came across this gem. Check out the comments in this blog, which in turn points to a non-sexist book in the same vein, Kids' America. I especially love this review for the book,

"I was a little girl growing up in Japan, and took this book out of our school library every week for about three years. I pored over the stories, crafts and fun and loved every minute of it. I hope you love it as much as I did. I was eventually given a copy by a librarian friend of mine, and although it's in rough shape I treasure it!"

Hello Kitty shame


Thai police officers who break rules will be forced to wear hot pink armbands featuring "Hello Kitty," the Japanese icon of cute, as a mark of shame, a senior officer said Monday."

Full story here.

Animal Bookmobile


"Four-legged mobile libraries are bringing opportunities to children in rural villages. In the Andes foothills in Venezuela bibliomulas, or “book mules”, are greeted by enthusiastic children with a passion for reading. In Kenya, the Camel Library Service brings books to children who don’t have access to roads, clean water, or food much less a school."

More here.

Monday, 6 August 2007

Wrong. Wrong. Wrong.

So, so sad.

$589 Mascara

There are women who would pay $589 for a Swarovski-coated tube of mascara? You better believe it! Within the first week of launching The Socialite Collection, Taysha Smith Valez had already sold 1,700 tubes of the opulent lash coating. That’s over a million smackers!"

More at Trendhunter.

Free Online University - Wikipedia Introduces Wikiversity


"The organizational engine that has driven Wikipedia to become one of the top sources of online information is being used to build a school and offer classes across the Internet and the venture is gaining momentum."

More at Trendhunter.

Social Entrepreneurs


PBS: "From the first season of the FRONTLINE/World series, we have searched for stories about people who innovate in ways that truly transform our interconnected world. This special site will feature the stories of people whose ideas and organizations create new and sustainable markets and services that benefit underserved communities everywhere in the developing world. In a nutshell, these are stories about individuals whose ideas leap beyond charity to find systemic solutions to poverty, education, health and social justice."

View and read stories here.

Courtesy of Guy Kawasaki.

MBA Without Borders


"One University of Alberta student was able to take his marketing skills to Nigeria where he was able to save lives threatened by Malaria by sparking huge demand for a product that was unwanted. His idea to use product placement in Nollywood movies was what made it really take off."

More here: First World Marketing Saves Third World Problems - MBAs Without Borders.

More on MBA Without Borders here.

Saturday, 4 August 2007


Great little read from Paul Graham. Scooterboy sent me the link, not so much as a hint, but as a 'READ THIS AND LEARN'! :D Yes, yes, I do have a bit of stuff but they're mostly books (for which I have a 'stuff' exception - like the author), but even so, I don't have a tremendous amount of stuff.

It's just that Scooterboy's ideal home would comprise of tatami mats and maybe a cushion or two. So, as much as I agree with the author, and like the thought of Scooterboy's ideal home, I will still hold on to the stuff that gives me the little pleasures in life e.g. beautifully crafted objects that I look at every day. So, Scooterboy, nyah nyah nyah :p

I have too much stuff. Most people in America do. In fact, the poorer people are, the more stuff they seem to have. Hardly anyone is so poor that they can't afford a front yard full of old cars.

It wasn't always this way. Stuff used to be rare and valuable. You can still see evidence of that if you look for it. For example, in my house in Cambridge, which was built in 1876, the bedrooms don't have closets. In those days people's stuff fit in a chest of drawers. Even as recently as a few decades ago there was a lot less stuff. When I look back at photos from the 1970s, I'm surprised how empty houses look. As a kid I had what I thought was a huge fleet of toy cars, but they'd be dwarfed by the number of toys my nephews have. All together my Matchboxes and Corgis took up about a third of the surface of my bed. In my nephews' rooms the bed is the only clear space.

Stuff has gotten a lot cheaper, but our attitudes toward it haven't changed correspondingly. We overvalue stuff."

Read more here.

Dangerous Ideas

"... By "dangerous ideas" I don't have in mind harmful technologies, like those behind weapons of mass destruction, or evil ideologies, like those of racist, fascist or other fanatical cults. I have in mind statements of fact or policy that are defended with evidence and argument by serious scientists and thinkers but which are felt to challenge the collective decency of an age. The ideas listed above, and the moral panic that each one of them has incited during the past quarter century, are examples. Writers who have raised ideas like these have been vilified, censored, fired, threatened and in some cases physically assaulted.

Every era has its dangerous ideas. For millennia, the monotheistic religions have persecuted countless heresies, together with nuisances from science such as geocentrism, biblical archeology, and the theory of evolution. We can be thankful that the punishments have changed from torture and mutilation to the canceling of grants and the writing of vituperative reviews. But intellectual intimidation, whether by sword or by pen, inevitably shapes the ideas that are taken seriously in a given era, and the rear-view mirror of history presents us with a warning..."

Complete essay by Steven Pinker here.

More on the topic at the Freakonomics Blog.

Star Trek--Original Series: Where no pixel has gone before

"... As I settled in, half attentive, I started noticing something was odd. First off, the crew's uniforms were brighter than I remembered. And wait, why was the image on the bridge view screen so crisp? Even odder, when the ship entered orbit around a planet, it's features, as well as those of the Enterprise, seemed much more detailed. Not only that, the planet was much larger in respect to my favorite starship; the scale seemed much more realistic..."

I'm more of a Voyager fan but I'll definitely check this out at some stage.

More on Scientific American on
the new digitally remastered version of the original series.