Friday, April 30, 2010

Rush on their new tour, new music, and documentary.

Awesome interview with Geddy. Thanks Mike! From MSNBC:
This summer, Rush will be hitting the U.S. and Canadian concert trail on their “Time Machine Tour,” which will see the trio perform their 1981 classic “Moving Pictures” in its entirety. They'll also be road-testing new material they're working up for their 19th studio effort. Frontman Geddy Lee tells Rolling Stone the fresh tracks are "upbeat, hard rocking songs" with a Rush trademark: "typically absurdist arrangements."

Will you release some new songs to coincide with the tour?
I'd imagine — because we don't have time to do more than two at the moment — we'll probably release one as soon as it's ready, before the tour starts, and then probably release the second one as the tour starts. But our hope was to really get something down on tape, so we could play these songs live and road test them in a way. We're still kind of throwing titles back in forth, but one is called "Caravan."

Why tour in the middle of recording an album?
Everybody was kind of itching to get on the road and try and get in "peak playing form" before we recorded the bulk of the record, just to see what that effect is. In a way, we have this tendency to take a long period of time off, and then we kind of get our chops together and then go record. We thought it's kind of ass-backwards really, because when you finish a long tour, you're in such amazing playing shape that really, that's the time you should go in and start laying down tracks. But of course, you're exhausted by then, so we're trying to figure out if there's another way of attacking it.

[...] How has the forthcoming Rush documentary, Beyond the Lighted Stage, turned out?
It's hard for me to watch myself up on the screen, talking for two hours. It's really kind of funny to look at a lot of the old stuff — they found some amazing, really obscure photographs and movies. It's kind of nice to see other people talking about us in a kind of objective sense. I was pretty amazed that certain people were Rush fans, like Billy Corgan, for example. He was very well-spoken in the film, and seems to really understand where we're coming from. That was quite a surprise for me.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Texas governor kills coyote while jogging.

Goddamn, Texas is scary. From the Washington Post:
Pistol-packing Texas Gov. Rick Perry has a message for wily coyotes out there: Don't mess with my dog.

Perry told The Associated Press on Tuesday he needed just one shot from the laser-sighted pistol he sometimes carries while jogging to take down a coyote that menaced his puppy during a February run near Austin.

Perry said he will carry his .380 Ruger - loaded with hollow-point bullets - when jogging on trails because he is afraid of snakes. He'd also seen coyotes in the undeveloped area.

When one came out of the brush toward his daughter's Labrador retriever, Perry charged.

"Don't attack my dog or you might get shot ... if you're a coyote," he said Tuesday.

Perry, a Republican running for a third full term against Democrat Bill White, is living in a private house in a hilly area southwest of downtown Austin while the Governor's Mansion is being repaired after a 2008 fire. A concealed handgun permit holder, Perry carries the pistol in a belt.

San Francisco bans city worker travel to Arizona.

From Raw Story:
In a bold move, San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom announced Tuesday that he'd banned city workers from traveling to Arizona for official business after the state enacted a draconian immigration law.

The moratorium on city travel to Arizona will except law enforcement employees investigating crimes. The mayor is facing pressure to respond strongly to the new law, which orders police to determine the immigration status of anyone they "reasonably" suspect to be in the country illegally.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Boy Scouts introduce Video Game merit badge.

Talk about Achievements... From HuffingtonPost:
Boy Scouts of America seems to have come to terms with just how important video games are to some of today's young men.

The Boy Scouts have added a "Video Games" belt loop and pin to the organization's list of awards. The Scouts' more than 100 merit badges, another type of award, recognize mastery over carpentry, camping, canoeing, cooking, and even sculpture.

Only Tiger Cubs, Cub Scouts, and Webelos Scouts are eligible for the "Video Games" badge, which they can earn if they "teach an adult or a friend how to play a video game" and play a video game for an hour, among other tasks.

NY lawmaker wants state to harvest organs.

This is what happens when we elect zombies to positions of power. From Raw Story:
A New York assemblyman whose daughter is alive because of two kidney transplants wants his state to become the first in the nation to pass laws that would presume people want to donate their organs unless they specifically say otherwise.

Assemblyman Richard Brodsky believes the "presumed consent" measures would help combat a rising demand for healthy organs by patients forced to wait a year or more for transplants. Twenty-four European countries already have such laws in place, he said.

If he succeeds, distraught families would no longer be able to override their loved ones' decisions to donate upon their death. And eventually, hospitals would be able to assume the deceased consented to have his or her organs harvested, unless the person refused in writing.

Huge laser aims to create star on Earth.

Aren't there enough self-destructive stars in California? From CNN:
Livermore, California (CNN) --Scientists at a government lab here are trying to use the world's largest laser -- it's the size of three football fields -- to set off a nuclear reaction so intense that it will make a star bloom on the surface of the Earth.

The Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory's formula for cooking up a sun on the ground may sound like it's stolen from the plot of an "Austin Powers" movie. But it's no Hollywood fantasy: The ambitious experiment will be tried for real, and for the first time, late this summer.

If they're successful, the scientists hope to solve the global energy crisis by harnessing the energy generated by the mini-star.

The lab's venture has doubters, to be sure. Nuclear fusion, the type of high-energy reaction the California researchers hope to produce, has been a scientific pipe dream for at least a half-century. It's been pitched as a miracle power source. But it hasn't yielded many results.

To make matters worse, the U.S. Government Accountability Office this month released an audit of the lab's work that cites delays and mismanagement as reasons it's unlikely the scientists will create a fusion reaction this year.

But researchers in Livermore, about an hour's drive east of San Francisco, say it's not a matter of if but when their laser-saves-the-Earth experiment will be proved successful.

"We have a very high confidence that we will be able to ignite the target within the next two years," thus proving that controlled fusion is possible, said Bruno Van Wonterghem, a manager of the project, which is called the National Ignition Facility.

That would put the lab a step closer to "our big dream," he said, which is "to solve the energy problems of the world."

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Dead: Etiquette expert Elizabeth Post.

If only I knew the proper thing to say in these situations.... From NY Daily News:
Elizabeth Post, who wrote more than a dozen books on etiquette and was spokeswoman for the Emily Post Institute in Vermont, has died.

Post's daughter-in-law, Peggy Post, says the the 89-year-old died on Saturday in Naples, Fla.

Elizabeth Post became the spokeswoman for the Emily Post Institute in 1965 and for decades, wrote a column on manners and etiquette for Good Housekeeping magazine.

She was the granddaughter-in-law of the country's foremost etiquette expert, Emily Post.

Elizabeth Post revised the manual "Emily Post's Etiquette" five times, helping keep it current as social norms have changed since its original printing in 1922.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Heavy metal-loving model / astrophysicist wins millions in poker game.

I'm in love... From Orange:
A British model with a love of heavy metal and a degree in astrophysics has won £1.1m in a poker tournament.

Liv Boeree, 25, beat 1,240 contestants to scoop the European Poker Tour top prize in San Remo, Italy, reports The Sun.

She only had a pair of fives in the final hand - but held her nerve against Swede Jakob Carlsson's ace high and a six.

She said: "I can't believe it, I'm still pinching myself that I've won a million pounds. I don't feel like a millionaire because I'm still wearing my grubby old clothes.

"But I'm sure when I've bought a little place in Las Vegas, a big house in the English countryside and a brand new car I will feel a bit more minted!"

Miss Boeree, dubbed the Iron Maiden for her love of heavy metal music, only began playing competitive poker four years ago.

Millionaire leaves daughters $1.50 each.

A former mayor has bequeathed her three daughters "30 pieces of silver" - or $1.50 - each from her $3.5 million estate because she believed they conspired over the death of her mother.

Valmai Roche left the same amount to her ex-husband, John Roche, a former property developer who was Adelaide City Council Lord Mayor from 1975-77.

Two of Ms Roche's daughters say their mother was "delusional" and they are challenging her will in the South Australian Supreme Court, The Advertiser reports.

Before her death, Ms Roche's mother, Dorothy Maud Haber, was being cared for in a nursing home. The documents do not say how or when she died.

Ms Roche, who died last year aged 81, left "30 pieces of silver of the lowest denomination of currency" - or 30 five cent pieces - claiming it was "blood money due to Judas" to each of her daughters.

The daughters - Deborah Hamilton, Fiona Roche and Shauna Roche - were also left equal shares in their mother's jewellery, on condition they read and correctly answered questions relating to her personal diaries from January, 1974, until the date of her will, which was signed in October 1981.

The will left the remainder of her estate to the Knights of the Southern Cross - a Catholic charity for men.

Eco-terrorists plot to blow up IBM headquarters thwarted in routine traffic stop.

From the Daily Mail:
A routine traffic-stop in Switzerland has allegedly thwarted eco-terrorists from blowing up the site of the £55million nano-technology HQ of IBM in Europe.

The three members – two men and a woman – of the Italian terrorist group Il Silvestre were stopped just a few miles from their target with their explosive device primed and ready to go.

Italians Costantino Ragusa and Silvia Guerini, together with Italian-Swiss Luca Bernasconi, were arrested and jailed after a search of their vehicle revealed the bomb.

Guerini and Constantino – the 33-year-old leader of Il Silvestre - already have convictions for eco-terrorism offences and have served jail terms.

The group describes itself as anarchist and is opposed to all forms of micro-technology as well as nuclear power and weapons.

Swiss police said today that their car was halted on the night of April 15 at Langnau en-route to the technology centre at Rueschlikon, near Zurich.

The site is due to be opened next year and already has some of the most complex and advanced computer equipment in the world installed in it.

'A large quantity of explosives was found,' said a police spokesman.

He said the amount of explosive would have caused far more devastation than the Ruetli explosions of 2007. The Ruetli meadow near Lake Lucerne was the scene of small bombs detonated near the homes of politicians in that year.

Astronomers use Lucifer to see into darkness.

This is so metal. From PopSci:
A new instrument with an evil-sounding name is helping scientists see how stars are born. Lucifer, which stands for (deep breath) "Large Binocular Telescope Near-infrared Utility with Camera and Integral Field Unit for Extragalactic Research," is a chilled instrument attached to a telescope in Arizona. And yes, it's named for the Devil, whose name itself means "morning star." But it wasn't meant to evoke him, according to a spokesman for the University of Arizona, where it is housed.

The instrument is chilled to -213 Celsius, about -351 F, to allow for near-infrared observations. That wavelength is important for understanding star and planet formation, as well as observing very distant and very young galaxies. Lucifer has three interchangeable cameras for imaging and spectroscopy in different resolutions. It has a large field of view and high-res capabilities, which allow a wide range of observations.

Lucifer is part of the Large Binocular Telescope, which happens to be right next to the Vatican Observatory on Mt. Graham in Tucson. That's right, the Vatican has an observatory in Arizona, manned by Jesuit astronomers. Now its next-door neighbor is named for the Devil.

Scientists at five German universities designed the instrument, and they came up with the name, according to Daniel Stolte, a spokesman for the University of Arizona. Stolte -- who is German -- explained that the team was tossing around names, looking for an acronym that would fit all the technical terms.

"In Germany, they wouldn't have the same hesitation that Americans would have, since it's a very secular country," he said. "I may be completely off, but that's just my hunch -- for us Germans, Lucifer just sounds cool. It's more historical than emotional." No matter your religion, the photos are certainly cool.

Japan wants mind-controlled robots within 10 years.

Has Japan learned nothing from Neon Genesis Evangelion?? From PopSci:
Japan's insatiable love for robots and mind-reading technology has converged in the form of a new government-industry partnership. That means Japanese consumers can look forward to robots and electronics controllable by thought alone within a decade, according to Agence France-Presse.

The Nikkei daily first reported on this development yesterday by citing unnamed government sources, and so technical details remain a bit murky. Any such devices would supposedly use sensor-mounted headsets to analyze the electrical signals and brain blood-flow patterns of users.

The lack of specs has not prevented the collective sci-fi imagination of said sources from running wild. Future mind-controlled devices would include television sets and smart phones which compose text messages by thought. That's not unlike some brain-interface devices already slated to hit the market, but presumably they'd be much less expensive for daily-use items.

Toxic sofa customers to receive millions.

It's a sad day when even our sofas attack us. From the Independent:
Hundreds of customers who were injured after buying "toxic" sofas look set to receive a total payout of up to £20 million, the High Court heard today.

An agreement has been thrashed out by lawyers which paves the way for "swift" payouts for many victims, a judge in London heard.

Mr Justice MacDuff was told that a "claims handling agreement" had been reached which could "potentially benefit" between 1,500 and 2,000 claimants.

He heard that the agreement did not resolve the whole of the litigation surrounding the purchase of the sofas, but that it would "open the way to swift compensation for many hundreds" of people.

A statement issued by lawyers after the hearing announced that around 1,650 victims of "toxic sofas" manufactured in China, which caused "serious burns", would receive "combined payouts totalling up to £20 million".

They are expected to receive between £1,175 and £9,000, depending on the severity of their symptoms.

Legal action is still ongoing in 3,000 cases where liability remains in dispute.

Ancient artifacts revealed as northern ice patches melt.

Well, I guess that's a silver lining. Too bad polar bears can't eat arrowheads. Item.
High in the Mackenzie Mountains, scientists are finding a treasure trove of ancient hunting tools being revealed as warming temperatures melt patches of ice that have been in place for thousands of years.

Tom Andrews, an archaeologist with the Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre in Yellowknife and lead researcher on the International Polar Year Ice Patch Study, is amazed at the implements being discovered by researchers.

"We're just like children opening Christmas presents. I kind of pinch myself," says Andrews.

Ice patches are accumulations of annual snow that, until recently, remained frozen all year. For millennia, caribou seeking relief from summer heat and insects have made their way to ice patches where they bed down until cooler temperatures prevail. Hunters noticed caribou were, in effect, marooned on these ice islands and took advantage.

"I'm never surprised at the brilliance of ancient hunters anymore. I feel stupid that we didn't find this sooner," says Andrews.

Ice patch archeology is a recent phenomenon that began in Yukon. In 1997, sheep hunters discovered a 4,300-year-old dart shaft in caribou dung that had become exposed as the ice receded. Scientists who investigated the site found layers of caribou dung buried between annual deposits of ice. They also discovered a repository of well-preserved artifacts.

Stephen Hawking: Aliens are out there and they could kick our ass.

Maybe probing is their way of shaking hands? From
British astrophysicist Stephen Hawking says aliens are out there, but it could be too dangerous for humans to interact with extraterrestrial life.

Professor Hawking claims in a new documentary that intelligent alien lifeforms almost certainly exist, but warns that communicating with them could be "too risky".

With the universe made up of some 100 billion galaxies each containing hundreds of millions of stars, it was unlikely the Earth was the only place where life has evolved.

"To my mathematical brain, the numbers alone make thinking about aliens perfectly rational," he said.

"The real challenge is to work out what aliens might actually be like."

The 68-year-old scientist says a visit by extraterrestrials to Earth would be like Christopher Columbus arriving in the Americas, "which didn't turn out very well for the Native Americans".

"We only have to look at ourselves to see how intelligent life might develop into something we wouldn't want to meet," he said.


Just realized that the last item was post # 2112! Great leaping Neil Pearts!

Speaking of Rush, I just saw the new documentary Beyond the Lighted Stage. Amaaaaaaazing! Loved it.

We have assumed control.....