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Officer Pterodactyl is unimpressed with your excuse for speeding through a school zone January 17, 2018

Posted by Sobek in News.


If You Want to Guesstimate What the New Tax Law Will Do To Your Paycheck January 17, 2018

Posted by geoff in News.

…check out Political Calculations online calculator:

The Bottom Line for Your 2018 Paycheck After the Tax Cuts

Dog Bark Translator, A Decade Later January 17, 2018

Posted by geoff in News.

This is from the Mirror, so take it with a heavy dose of grainosaltium, but check it out anyhow:

Scientists are busy working on a “pet translator” that could finally let owners communicate with their dogs and cats.

Using artificial intelligence to analyse vocalisations and facial expressions, the researchers from Northern Arizona University believe they’ll have the tech ready in under a decade.

The ultimate goal is to create a gadget that can translate what your dog wants – so “woof woof” becomes “I want to go for a walk”.

Of course Pupster wrote a similar post almost exactly 10 years ago, where Hungarian scientists were claiming the same thing. Pupster’s vision of how it might work went like this:


Hopefully this time it’s for real, but honestly, I really want the reverse translator. Just a few phrases would do:

“It’s just the mailman!!”

“It’s too cold for a walk!”

“It’s not dinnertime yet!”

“You don’t get a treat if you don’t actually pee before bedtime! Wandering around the yard sniffing doesn’t count! No, don’t look at me like that – we had a deal. Yeah, a deal. Do not look at me like that!”

Ridiculous Thoughts January 15, 2018

Posted by Sobek in News.
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RIP Dolores O’Riordan

Pyro Birds January 15, 2018

Posted by geoff in News.

Alfred Hitchcock blew the whistle on those beady-eyed b*st*rds, but we all thought it was just a movie. Not so:

A new study incorporating traditional Indigenous Australian ecological knowledge describes the largely unknown behaviour of so-called ‘firehawk raptors’ – birds that intentionally spread fire by wielding burning sticks in their talons and beaks.

According to the team, firehawk raptors congregate in hundreds along burning fire fronts, where they will fly into active fires to pick up smouldering sticks, transporting them up to a kilometre (0.6 miles) away to regions the flames have not yet scorched.

“The imputed intent of raptors is to spread fire to unburned locations – for example, the far side of a watercourse, road, or artificial break created by firefighters – to flush out prey via flames or smoke,”

Belated Brief Movie Reviews January 13, 2018

Posted by geoff in News.

Blade Runner 2049: By and large, cast did well, cinematography was cool, but plot was underwhelming and Hans Zimmer’s soundtrack didn’t catch the mood of Vangelis. The original Blade Runner had a film noir feel in a crowded, dynamic world. The reboot was a desolate post-apocalyptic feel in a very lonely world.

Not  a bad movie, but it will never be the classic that its predecessor was.

Kingsman: The Golden Circle: Kind of entertaining, but a funky morality where drug users are ranked as morally superior to victims of drug crime. Meh.


The Presidential Piehole January 11, 2018

Posted by geoff in News.

…should remain closed unless a teleprompter is on.

It’s been clear from the start that President Trump is not a statesman, nor a diplomat, nor even someone with the normal valve between their brain and their mouth. He is, instead, a blunt businessman who is used to talking to a room full of people who aren’t in a position to criticize his speech.

So, despite all of his policy successes, we have a president who brings media storms down upon himself time and again. Completely unnecessary media storms.

Like today’s sh*th*le controversy.

Let me say straight away that no member of the federal government should ever be referring to other countries in that fashion. While it is fair to criticize an immigration policy that imports people who do not bring skills, money, or business to our country, it is ridiculous for the President of the United States to refer to the parent countries of those people as “sh*th*les.”

Absolutely ridiculous.

In my opinion, Donald Trump has assembled the best collection of policies in decades, but combined them with a demeanor which is completely unqualified for the position of president.

Damn it.

Are Exports Showing Signs of Life? January 11, 2018

Posted by geoff in News.

After President Obama doomed exports to stagnation with his ill-considered promise to double them within five years, it’s been saddening to watch them go nowhere, month after month after month. But the latest report from the Bureau of Economic Analysis had some good news: exports in November reached the 2nd-highest value since 2010.

Here’s what that looks like in graphical form:

ExportsJanuary2018ReportPresident Obama informed us back in 2010 that export growth was an essential component of our economic recovery, so you’d think he’d be applauding the November numbers.

Not hearing any applause so far, though.

Manufacturing Jobs Continue Their Surge January 10, 2018

Posted by geoff in News.

Manufacturing jobs continued their dramatic growth last month, making a total of 214K positions added since Trump was elected (184K since he was inaugurated). Very nice, very nice:


Flyby of Jupiter January 9, 2018

Posted by geoff in News.

This is a little choppy, but it’s cool nonetheless:

Juno’s Perijove-10 Jupiter Flyby, Reconstructed in 125-Fold Time-Lapse, Preliminary

More explanation and some great stills here.

Why Do New Drugs Cost So Much? January 7, 2018

Posted by geoff in News.

Here’s one reason:

Pfizer Inc is abandoning research to find new drugs aimed at treating Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease, the U.S. pharmaceutical company announced on Saturday.

The company said it expects to eliminate 300 positions from the neuroscience discovery and early development programs in Andover and Cambridge, Massachusetts, and Groton, Connecticut, as it redistributes the money spent on research, according to the emailed statement.

Alzheimer’s has a huge potential market, if one can find the right drug. This has led to hundreds of drugs being proposed and evaluated. Unfortunately:

A recent study looked at how 244 compounds in 413 clinical trials fared for Alzheimer’s disease between 2002 and 2012.

Of those 244 compounds, only one was approved. The researchers report that this gives Alzheimer’s disease drug candidates one of the highest failures rates of any disease area – 99.6%, compared with 81% for cancer.

Since that study in 2012, every other Alzheimer’s drug trial has failed as well, including many high-profile drugs that had entered Phase III testing.

As we all know, taking a drug through development, trials, approval, and production/marketing is a costly endeavor:

Across the industry, per drug programme, Tufts calculated nearly $1.4bn in out-of-pocket costs…

So some empathy with drug developers is in order, particularly when even the huge financial incentive of a large ready-made market can’t keep major players from giving up.

2017 Closes With an Unimpressive Jobs Report January 5, 2018

Posted by geoff in News.

Yesterday’s ADP National Employment Report showed 250K jobs added last month, prompting at least one comment that the economy might be “overheating.” Today’s Employment Situation Summary from the Bureau of Labor Standards showed much more modest gains – only 148K jobs.

My employment metric (full-time jobs/civilian non-institutional population: data taken from the Household Survey) was even less inspiring. Behold:


The Household Survey showed an increase of 164K part-time jobs, indicating that full-time employment actually dropped last month.

Dang it.

I’ll put up the Manufacturing jobs graph on Monday.