Archive for July, 2009

072009_sky_1Why did I not hear about this sooner? Some guy went and made a real flying car. And I’m not talking about the Moller car that looks nice and shiny and red but actually doesn’t fly. This is the real thing. Kind-of.  I was a little disappointed by the parasail wing, but it looks awesome.

maars_robot_large It’s real! It’s also one of the coolest things I heard all week. A steam powered, organic bio-mass eating, military robot. It’s steampunk (which is very IN right now), it’s robot (also in) and it can eat humans! (zombies also in) which all add up to make it the coolest robot around. ( I know technically it’s not a zombie, because how can a machine be un-dead, but still. It can EAT people!)

The EATR (Energetically Autonomous Tactical Robot) will be an autonomous robotic platform that forages for fuel by ingesting bio-mass, be it grass, wood, or dead soldiers on the battlefield. Put a laser, a tactical shotgun, and a self-aware military computer network on that bad boy and we got our first generation of Terminators. Whah hoo!

Update: Alright, I can see this is going to be a popular post so maybe I should do some actual homework and make it good. The EATR was design by Robotic Technology Inc. (future site of mainframe computer that enslaves humanity). It uses an award winning Cyclone engine to create power by burning biomass and using the steam to power pistons to convert that energy into electricity to charge its batteries. A complete overview is available here.

In order to assuage public concern, the CEO of Cyclone had this to say:

“We completely understand the public’s concern about futuristic robots feeding on the human population, but that is not our mission,” stated Harry Schoell, Cyclone’s CEO. “We are focused on demonstrating that our engines can create usable, green power from plentiful, renewable plant matter. The commercial applications alone for this earth-friendly energy solution are enormous.”

Righhhhht. “Green Power” Well you know what Soilent Green was? Huh? Do ya? It was people!!! Of course the CEO won’t give away their plans for world domination and subjugation of the human species. He may already be a cyborg. Maybe even THE cyborg that will rule us all with a titanium fist.

In all seriousness though, I’m glad that the military is looking at alternatives for fueling their war machine. The artificial intelligence aspect of the EATR looks promising as well. While I can see this working out in the field, I can’t imagine that all of our cars will be powered this way. Then we won’t have any forests left.

RobotEating

298x232-dna_genetic_test-298x232_dna_genetic_testA new company, Pathway Genomics, is offering affordable genetic testing for only $250. Some competitors charge $400 or more, up to $1,000. All you do is spit in a test tube, and drop it in an envelope in the mail. You recieve a report detailing what major diseases you could be at risk for, which medications might affect you more, and even your genetic history as far back as 150,000 years. I’m only slightly sceptical about that last one. My grandmother traced our ancestry back to England in the 1500’s with paper research, but it would be cool to see if I was in fact, part aboriginal, or asian. If you go back that far though, how could you not be?

Of course some people might be scared by this new accessibility to people’s genes. I mean, look at the company’s name. Pathway Genomics? How about, secret government black project to make genetically superior super-soldiers with a well placed, genetically tailored trigger in the public water supply. I’m not paranoid, just a sci-fi author. I guess we’ll just have to see what happens.

You can read the Yahoo article by Glenn Chapman here.

I can’t wait to see this movie!

10,000 views!

Posted: July 11, 2009 in Uncategorized

Wow, Thanks blogosphere. It is humbling to think that my ramblings have affected 10,000 people in some small way, from being entertained, to doing research for a school essay on Jordan Baker from “The Great Gatsby” (I know who you are…plagerism is wrong) Anyway, thank you to all my readers.

These are two super slick videos of Ken Block driving a WRX.

healthcareI know that there are downsides to socialized medicine, (and please feel free to tell me what they are) but I want to write about the upsides, and maybe the sidesides.

From my uninsured, and non-expert opinion, I think that the U.S. having Universal Health Care is a good idea. The main reason is that we have 50,000,000 people who are uninsured right now. We live in the richest nation in the world, and yet 16% of our population can’t get the help they need when it comes to health problems. The United States pays the most for health care, more than any other country, yet on almost any scale you choose to measure, we rank last. Out of Australia, Canada, Germany, the United Kingdom, New Zealand, and the USA, we rank last on quality care, access, efficiency, equity, and healthy lives.

I started getting interested in this subject when I got Michael Moore’s “Sicko” out from the library. Now I know what you’re thinking.

“That is a load of democratic socialist propaganda!”

Maybe. So I also watched this Frontline report that also tackles the issue of Universal Health Care with a more dispassionate, intelligent approach. T.R.Reid (Washington Post reporter) goes around to the second and third wealthiest nations, among others, and investigates their health care systems. He evaluates each system on how much it costs to the public, the effects on the insurance and drug companies, the level of care, and most telling of all, how many people in that country go bankrupt every year from medical bills. ( None, as opposed to 700,000 in the U.S.) He tries to take the best of each program and apply it to the U.S. One of the interesting points was that not all countries have total government owned hospitals. Japan and Germany have privately owned doctors offices, hospitals, and insurance companies. Hmm, maybe we can do this in America after all.

When most people hear “Universal Health Care,” they automatically think, “Total Government Control! Big Brother! Waiting months to see a doctor!” The reality is much less alarming. In fact, we already have government run health care in America. Just look at the care we provide our Veterans. Putting the scandal a few years ago aside, the network of VA hospitals offers some of the best care in the country. Don’t believe me? read this excerpt about the VA.

The Annals of Internal Medicine in 2004, published a a study that compared Veteran’s health facilities with commercial managed care systems in their treatment of diabetes patients. In seven out of seven measures of quality, the VA provided better care. A RAND Corporation study published in the same journal concluded that VA outperforms all other sectors of American health care in 294 measures of quality.

One of the big complaints that people have with government run health care, is that people have to wait a long time to be helped. Really? Cause when I took my Mom to the Emergency Room at a local hospital in NY with a severe cut to her forearm at 10:00 p.m., we had to wait until 3:30 a.m. for her to be taken care of. And it was not a bustling downtown ER with gunshot victims. I find it hard to imagine that we would have to wait more than five hours to be seen somewhere in Europe.

From what I’ve read, seen, heard from friends, and (gasp) in fact experienced myself, medical care overseas is prompt, professional, and cheap. When I traveled to Ireland, I got in infection (sparing details) that made my ears feel like I was fifty feet underwater. We went to a small clinic in a seaside village where I was seen immediately. I was a foreigner, and yet they saw me right away, proscribed medicine, and only charged me seven pounds ($15). If the situation were reversed, I’m sure that the sick Irishman would have to pay at least $150 for the appointment, that is, if they agreed to treat him in the first place without the consent of an American insurance company.

I’m going to post this now, but will be adding to this article as I learn more.