Saturday, January 31, 2009

When copyright expires

Generally speaking, I adhere to the maxim that copyright should expire.  So that, you know, new and clever ideas can be explored and advanced based upon the cultural groundwork laid down by earlier works.   But uh ...

"Pride and Prejudice and Zombies" - Broadsheet -

And now, perhaps inevitably, we see the blessed union of two beloved trends in Seth Grahame-Smith's "Pride and Prejudice and Zombies." To be released by Quirk Books later this year...

...what would Ms. Austen think of this unconventional adaptation? To this, I turned to Salon book critic and Austen fan Laura Miller, who replied:

"Well, she'd be astonished, of course, since her age was, sadly, as bereft of zombie movies as it was of indoor plumbing. However, I don't doubt that Elizabeth Bennet would adapt quickly to the imperatives of a zombie attack...

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Shaking up the Tree of Life

Earth may have given rise to two distinct groups of animals:
bilaterians -- animals with bilateral symmetry, like humans -- and
non-bilaterians, which include corals, jelly fish, hydra, unusual,
often poisonous, creatures known as cubozoans, and other organisms.

Ancestor For All Animals Identified : Discovery News
Although non-bilaterians and bilaterians appear to have followed separate evolutionary paths, nervous systems appear in both groups. Placozoans and sponges don't possess them, but many of their closely related taxa do.

"So this means that if our work is right, nervous systems evolved twice: Once in the lineage leading to bilateria and once in the lineage leading to corals, jelly fish, hydra and cubozoa," he said.

Gene Roddenberry and Majel Barrett to receive space funeral.

This would be more touching and less creepy, if it had not been for that original series episode called "I, Mudd"Hear Harry Mudd describe it himself.

The Associated Press: Gene Roddenberry, wife to spend eternity in space
The creator of "Star Trek" and his wife will spend eternity together in space. Celestis Inc., a company that specializes in "memorial spaceflights," said Monday

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Pandora goes commercial

Well, not as invasive as Live365 but still, this is not good news.  I much prefer the Radio Paradise listener-supported model. 

Pandora ads invasive commercials -
Change has come to, the popular free music site that lets listeners craft radio stations to fit their tastes.

The site added 15-second commercial breaks to its streaming music service Tuesday as it continues to experiment with new ways to generate revenue.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Mitochondial DNA of Thylacine Sequenced

The Thylacine is one of the most fascinating examples of convergent evolution.  Sometimes called a marsupial wolf,  they were bounty hunted to extinction by 1936.  Of course there's talk of bringing one back via cloning. 

Hair Of Tasmanian Tiger Yields Genes Of Extinct Species

The new gene sequences permitted the team to accurately determine how the Tasmanian Tiger is related to other marsupials. They compared the sequences to a mitochondrial genome sequence they determined from a living reference species, a marsupial called a numbat. "The two thylacine sequences were extremely similar to each other, with only 5 differences in 15,492 nucleotides," Miller reports. The researchers say this similarity suggests that, as the species neared extinction, there was too little genetic diversity to resist bacterial and other environmental stresses. "Low genetic diversity is appearing as a common theme in the extinct species being studied by our team," Schuster said.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Neanderthals more likely to have O blood type?

Several interesting consequences if borne out, including this one that observes O type blood suggests long isolations for certain types of disease.

Neanderthals might have made good blood donors - life - 09 January 2009 - New Scientist
"It is interesting that Neanderthals have a high O frequency, because the other group with a high O frequency today is native Americans," Hawks says. "They're not closely related, but they may have experienced similar environments to the extent that they might have been isolated from diseases that came from Africa and South Asia."

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Stacking the DoJ deck against internet radio

Not in the habit of reposting Slashdot stuff, but if you thought Two-Point Obama was going to friend internet radio ... not so much.

Obama picks RIAA's favorite lawyer for a top Justice post | Politics and Law - CNET News
As president-elect, one of Obama's first tech-related decisions has been to select the Recording Industry Association of America's favorite lawyer to be the third in command at the Justice Department. And Obama's pick as deputy attorney general, the second most senior position, is the lawyer who oversaw the defense of the Copyright Term Extension Act--the same law that Lessig and his allies unsuccessfully sued to overturn.

via Slashdot

Monday, January 5, 2009

5 Free Music Sites - under Createive Commons license.

Here is the ultimate answer to the RIAA's business model, posted over at MakeUseOf.  Enjoy.

The Best Sites To Download Free Music |
Not the torrent or limewire kind; the I-take-it-without-paying-so-it’s free, but music released under creative licenses, by people who don’t think music should be a business. People who sing for emotions, not money.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Was that a Diplodocus in Star Wars?

Here's a pretty detailed discussion of the anatomy of the Krayt dragon.   Even more interesting is the link in the article to another paleontologist that tracked it down and re-discovered it.

The sauropods of Star Wars « Sauropod Vertebra Picture of the Week
The first (and best) sauropod of Star Wars will be no surprise to anyone with reasonably sharp eyes and rudimentary knowledge of sauropod osteology: the Krayt dragon skeleton that C-3PO walks past on Tatooine is composed mainly of cast sauropod vertebrae.

What Obama might do about Ares.

The interplay between Mike Griffin and the Obama transition team has been entertaining.  He's even reportedly getting some unexpected help.  But here's a report that sounds very interesting, and might tip the hand of the Obama team's plans on development of the Shuttle replacement. 

TG Daily - Obama wants Pentagon and NASA to play nice for moon race
According to Bloomberg, "Obama has said the Pentagon's military space program -- which spent about $22 billion in fiscal year 2008, almost a third more than NASA's budget -- could be tapped to speed the civilian agency toward it's goals as the recession pressures federal spending."

NASA currently has a five-year gap between the retirement of the Space Shuttle and the return to space via the Orion six-person craft that can carry astronauts to the ISS and the moon atop the Ares I and Ares V rockets (currently under development). During the gap, NASA has contracted with two commercial space companies to service the ISS.