Thursday, November 24, 2016

From Radio Republic: In which we give in to the Halloween Spirit

Archiving articles from my Radio Republic column, Drinking Coffee as the World Goes By:

"20 years ago, Ozone Disco Club in the Morato area became the scene of one of the worst club fires in recent history. Many of the club-goers that night died near the entrance, trapped by inward-swinging doors, the heat, and smoke inhalation."


Wednesday, November 23, 2016

From Radio Republic: Empty Boots at the Gate

Archiving articles from my Radio Republic column, Drinking Coffee as the World Goes By:

"But this, the issue of gatekeepers, is something people should think about. When we say gatekeepers, we’re talking about people or entities whom we trust to be the ones to tell us what good music is. Be it Casey Kasem, Francis Reyes, or any other DJ or music figure that we consider has a finger on the pulse of whatever music scene they’re in, they are gatekeepers. They steer us to what’s new, what’s happening, and what is, presumably, the Next Big Thing."


Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Twitterbots. Duh.

What surprises me is that there is a big hullabaloo over this. It's obvious that twitterbots, fake news sites, and fake Facebook accounts would be the new tools of propaganda. The question is, what will Facebook, Google, and Twitter really do about it?

More positive news for Alzheimer's sufferers and their families

I'm trying to find words, but I'll let the article do it:

"The protein, called tau protein, normally functions as a stabilizer for the microtubules that act as rails for transporting materials around the cell. As New Scientist reported, studies have suggested problems with the tau protein is somehow linked to Alzheimer’s. The protein can clump together in twisted tangles and could be releasing Alzheimer’s-inducing toxic chemicals."

It's another step in beating debilitating diseases like Alzheimer's, and that's a very welcome thing.

The Mechanics of Non-Violent Resistance

Given how local and international events have been lately, this is an interesting article to read.

Zooids: Swarming Tech?

This new development in robotics is interesting in that it allows for the advantages of swarming. This could be very useful once complex instructions are brought into play, for everything from exploration to maintenance.

Tesla: Acquiring More Solar Power

It looks like clean energy will get a big boost with this business acquisition.

New Antibiotics from the Human Microbiome

Now that the threat of drug-resistant superbaugs are very real, exploring all possible avenues for new antibiotics is necessary.

Lithium-Sulfur batteries

Up next: batteries based on how we absorb nutrients in our intestines.

"Lithium and sulfur react differently, through “a multi-electron transfer mechanism” which means that theoretically, sulfur can have a much higher capacity than lithium-ion. However, when lithium and sulfur react as the battery discharges, the sulfur turns into chain-like poly-sulphides which could enter the electrolyte as it charges and discharges, resulting in the loss of the battery’s active material."

Tesla and Musk: Affordable Solar Roof

It's no surprise that Elon Musk is gunning for affordable - and visually appealing - solar-power roof structures. After all, if people buy into this, then it paves the way for ubiquitous use of solar energy.

France: No More Coal by 2023

If this pushes through - I'm a bit jaded about political pronouncements until it happens - then it's a big step in climate change for the better. Hopefully, there will be no nuclear power disasters.

From Radio Republic: Out and Loud

Archiving articles from my Radio Republic column, Drinking Coffee as the World Goes By:

"Every time I hear the phrase “He’s okay, even if he’s gay” and all the permutations of that statement, it simply shows that gay is not okay. You don’t have to kill us to say that there is gay discrimination. You just have to make a distinction of us versus them."Read more at

Monday, November 21, 2016

Lignin: Biomass waste to biofuel

If this can be done on a mass scale, it's good news for turning waste into biofuel we can use.

Facebook and Fake News, Part 2

Interesting quote (with links):

Given the renewed post-election scrutiny of Facebook’s persistently troubled relationship with news sharing, these moves are good PR. But they also represent steps away from the site’s insistence that it’s a platform, not a media company—a stance that protects it from regulation or prosecution for content shared by users.

The EmDrive: cautious optimism

It's amazing to see how advances in science can bring us this close to having viable, economical, and hopefully relatively cost-efficient options for space travel. After all, it's high time we colonize the moon, Mars, Venus (though Venus would probably be the BIG test of our current tech, in terms of horrible atmosphere). Given how the environment is changing here on Earth, we should be thinking of exit options. The EmDrive, if it works, would be a significant building block in developing our civilization past the confines of this planet.

Save the Dream: Rogue One trailer

I admit, I had goosebumps with this one, but probably because real life is giving some great references.

AI and IT (along with other job issues)

As much as I agree that AI systems could take over IT jobs and other white-collar work spaces in the future, it's a question that isn't just about cost - though I am sure that for many boardrooms, that will be the magic word.

I still believe that humans should be in key points of any organizational/work structure, just to make sure that we have a human set of eyes. You can call it the start of discrimination against post-human life forms, but right now, until we can properly "grow" an AI to be fully sentient and more human (in the positive sense only, please!) then I have massive apprehensions about going full-AI in certain organizational positions and roles.

Facebook and Fake News

The latest Zuckerberg dilemma:

"We take misinformation seriously," writes Zuckerberg. "We've been working on this problem for a long time and we take this responsibility seriously. We've made significant progress, but there is more work to be done."
"We believe in giving people a voice, which means erring on the side of letting people share what they want whenever possible," he adds. "We need to be careful not to discourage sharing of opinions or mistakenly restricting accurate content."

I don't envy his situation, but really, at some point, you just have to draw the line. My personal stand is, once they do roll out their rules, they better have proper enforcement and very, very clear guidelines.

Hand-waving will soon take on a different meaning

Think about it. In the future, all those sci-fi movies where gestures and voice commands were used to activate machinery will finally come true. On one end, you can have it as subtle (and creepy) as Westworld's Ford controlling his whole world through key command phrases and actions. On the other hand, you can do all that Power Rangers posing and get yourself into a video game.

Either way, that sounds great.

From Radio Republic: Generations

Archiving articles from my column in Radio Republic, Drinking Coffee as the World Goes By:

"But the coming of the Internet screwed with the formula. While in the past you could get along on album sales, that’s now more of a cost to be shouldered, rather than a profit center; finding your own way to sell merch or set up gigs for yourself is the name of the game, as is using internet social media and broadcast platforms in a cost-efficient manner."


Sunday, November 20, 2016

Coming closer to the reality of quantum computers

The article says it best:

"Researchers created quantum dot light-emitting diodes that can produce entangled photons (QDLEDs). The pyramid-shaped quantum dots of the QDLED—as in the same technology behind QDLED TV’s—are electrified using nanotechnology to entangle the photons. It is these pyramidal structures that allow physicists control over the process—something that has been significantly difficult over the years."

It's still a long way to practical quantum computing, but it's good to know we're on the path.

A few steps closer to a bioartificial kidney

Soon, we may be able to have, aside from functioning artificial kidneys in ourselves, miniature full-function life-support systems that are relatively portable. I can foresee their uses in advanced wheelchair systems and other such.

From Radio Republic: Trying to do Something Right

From my column in Radio Republic, Drinking Coffee as the World Goes By:

"I say all that because the danger of the internet, of having all this information readily available, is that we sometimes take for granted that most of this information is true. The fact is, this overabundance of information should make us even more suspicious. Even if research makes a person feel lazy, when it comes to inserting ideas into our heads, we should really be more careful."


Friday, November 18, 2016

How Climate Change may be changing us

I remember watching this old TV show or series where they found out that the "little green man" alien they had befriended was actually a human from thousands of years in the future. And apprently, he could eat only specific kinds of food.

That memory came to me while reading this article:

Values and Climate Change

I have some ambivalence with this article, but I think if we're going to do something about the changing climate, we have to do it not from the point of view of getting the "warm and fuzzy" high that comes with "do-good-ing", but from a pragmatic, long-view approach to the survival of our species.

Facebook's issues with ad data

Having worked in online businesses or online marketing and sales departments, I've personally found online activity measurement to be the weak link - not in the fact of what they should be, as I agree that clicks, viewing time, end-to-end video play are important - but in how that data is acquired.

Saying that clients/users should do more with the data after it's been found to have some serious issues is besides the point. A full accuracy check is necessary to keep the trust, as it were.

One step closer to a future with "synthetic life"

I'm genuinely excited for these advances in synthetic biology. On the other hand, my observations on how morality and ethics lag behind scientific development makes me think that we may, in part, have a Blade Runner future ahead of us.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

The Southern Ocean and Climate Change

Sometimes, science articles read like a good novel:

"But what really startled her was the stream of data from sensors analysing the seawater. As the ship pitched and groaned, she realized that the ocean surface was low in oxygen, high in carbon and extremely acidic — surprising signs that nutrient-rich water typically found in the deep sea had reached the surface. As it turned out, Russell was riding waves of ancient water that had not been exposed to the atmosphere for centuries."

"Already, initial data from an array of ocean floats suggest that upwelling waters could be limiting how much CO2 the Southern Ocean absorbs each year. This raises new questions about how effective these waters will be as a brake on global warming in decades to come.

“The Southern Ocean is doing us a big climate favour at the moment, but it’s not necessarily the case that it will continue doing so in the future,” says Michael Meredith, an oceanographer with the British Antarctic Survey in Cambridge, UK. Meredith is heading a series of expeditions over the next five years to help document the uptake of heat and carbon. “It really is the key place for studying these things.”"

Already, our world is changing - and unless we find a way to change it to our liking (either through terraforming or long-term positive climate change policies), it looks like our world is getting ready for new inhabitants - not us.

An Ocean on Pluto

It seems that there is much more to Pluto: it may have an ocean (for a given value of the term "ocean"). It just goes to show that many things in reality are just as good as, if not better, than science fiction.

Raspberry Pi as a Backdoor Installer

I actually saw something similar to this in an episode of the Blacklist. While a properly determined opponent/hacker/spy is something you have little defense against, I feel that I need those USB input covers, if only to make me feel psychologically safer (even if it will only add a fraction of a second in terms of delay when it comes to determined insertion, so to speak).

The Rise of Scientific/Medical Vampirism?

It looks like vampirism may be good for older people. Yes, there is a rare disease that probably created the vampire archetype, but it seems that science has found another reason: It really does rejuvenate older people. It's something that will lead to more in-depth research, or it will spawn some creepy billionaire practices.

Shifting Focus: Welcome to Chatbots

This is the reason why I am happy that the more progressive BPO companies here are beginnign to focus on other areas of interest for their business. Given the cultural and economic issues in the USA today, the acceptable intersection between consumer needs and their cultural/political/economic issues could be chatbots. It may not necessarily be the best solution at this point, but it certainly points the way forward in many aspects.

Wearable Solar Power Generation

This has many uses for people who travel extensively, or who do like going out on camping trips and the like. It also has some wonderful implications for the idea of mobile or compact homes, as well.

The New/Old Poison: The Misleading Pen

Much ado has been said about fake news websites. Perhaps, rather than all of us getting into a snit over fake news sites, perhaps it's time to institute changes for the better.
Here is a graphic that illustrates the disturbing reach of fake news:

When the candle is near its end: A thousand years for humanity

For a disturbing number of people, this is of no consequence - because they'll be dead in decades. But it is a sobering thought that for all our technological prowess, we, too, may become a forgotten race.

We are becoming Ozymandias, King of Kings. Will it be that some more thoughtful, fortunate race will visit our ruins, in the far future?

 Photo by John Fowler

I have a pen... stand

And now, a pen stand. I have to give it to this guy, or whoever is marketing him. If he can get a good nest egg or even investments going because of this, I forgive him for this meme. Also, I already feel very jealous. Hahaha!

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Live Action: Full Metal Alchemist

This looks interesting, though people shouldn't expect a totally faithful recreation - but it comes damn close.

Possible antibody that can neutralize most HIV strains

Exciting possibilities in the fight against HIV/AIDS. To quote:

"Scientists have identified an antibody from an HIV-infected person that potently neutralized 98 percent of HIV isolates tested, including 16 of 20 strains resistant to other antibodies of the same class. The remarkable breadth and potency of this antibody, named N6, make it an attractive candidate for further development to potentially treat or prevent HIV infection, say the researchers."

Photo credit: © designer491 / Fotolia

Trailer: Blade of the Immortal

Blade of the Immortal is a rather bloody, but beautifully-drawn manga. I hope that the cinematography can do justice to the original artwork.

The issue of Social Media and Extreme Politics

Social media and extreme politics are a match made in heaven for some. However, balanced against the general public, and opposing viewpoints, the question is if terms of use will lead to a "deadening" of the various voices that can be heard. Clearly, social media and the responsibility for its use needs further study, experience, and clarification.

First look: Exoplanets

"This new instrument is known as CHARIS, an acronym for Coronagraphic High Angular Resolution Imaging Spectrograph. It was built by a team led by N. Jeremy Kasdin, professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering at Princeton. CHARIS features nine mirrors, five filters, two prism assemblies, and a microlens array. It weighs 226.8 kg (500 lbs), and is maintained at -223.15 C (50 Kelvin, -369 F)."

Soon, we may be able to see far-off planets with more clarity.

Justice League Dark

My issue with Justice League Dark, is that some of the characters (John Constantine) have narratives that aren't suited for teenagers - anyone reading the Hellblazer run, or some of the truly horrific Deadman stories, would probably be viewing the idea of an animated Justice League Dark with some suspicion.

However, I'd love to see how they pull it off, if only to marvel at the adaptation they would have to do.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Facebook Addresses Fake News Websites Where It Hurts

As with Google, it seems that Facebook will now penalize fake news sites by denying them advertising dollars.

Photo from

Lab-grown lungs transplanted in mice

While this is an important medical development, I am reminded of the Body Banks from Marvel's Micronauts run. Also: Blade Runner. Still, what a development!

Progress in Addressing Heart Failure

Cardiac tissue reprogramming offers promise for those who have extensive scar tissue from heart failure. However, more research has to be done in this and other avenues.

Inhumans going to TV

Looks like the Inhumans will be tapped for a TV series, rather than a movie - this makes sense, given the Inhuman concerns in Agents of SHIELD.

Ebola: More Infectious Now?

There is a concern that the deadly Ebola virus may be gearing up for larger epidemics, as it grows more infectious.

Photo from

Technology and terrorism

With the advance of technology comes the possibility of abuse in the hands of terrorists.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Walking Once Again

The idea of an implant letting paraplegics walk again will soon be a science fact for medicine, if all goes well. It reminds me of the certain technologies from the Instrumentality storylines of Cordwainer Smith, specifically in "Scanners Live in Vain."

Friday, November 11, 2016

Automation, and the Issue of Employment

The problem with promising more jobs is that you have to be careful how you say that these days. Many jobs will disappear through automation, and short of a Butlerian Jihad from Dune, it's highly possible that people will just have to be given new skills through adult education - a very expensive, long-term goal. Of course, they can always just stop using robots, though they are cheaper and more profitable.... much like outsourcing, which is yet another issue.

Mapping out Healthcare

It looks like we're coming to the point where machine learning as applied to genome data analysis will be able to help us with customized healthcare planning - but I wonder what it means for insurance as well. As with many technologies, there are good and bad sides to this. I like the idea of preventive healthcare through genome data analysis, though.

Facebook Turning the Tables

It looks like Facebook is set to challenge certain industry norms again with its new Backpack second-generation computer switch. If anything, it seems that Zuckerberg has good reason to smile these days, as these developments will certainly help Facebook itself push out more content.

 Photo from Reuters.

Letting AI do the driving

While the idea of having an AI-driven car sounds great, as it can turn a person's car into a mini-office for increased productivity, I can also see it becoming a mini-cafe of sorts, where car-pooled individuals can also use various online services for catching up on news, early work, and even house preparations via the Internet of Things. It can also extend to whole buses that can be roving cafes or quick-snack restos with wi-fi.