More Election Stuff (Halloween themed)...

I've been saving these up all week. Palin and Barack pumpkins (interestingly, no McCain):

Also, found
this handy tool for those wishing to create their very own candidate pumpkins:


I Experienced Election Elation...

... when I read of the extensive range of ridiculous candidate supporting merchandise one can buy. There is a fairly comprehensive gallery here. My favourites:


New Heart Prosthesis

Quite frankly, this is amazing- the technology involved is incredible. I saw this article in 'The Telegraph' today, then found the video. I've previously done research for a dissertation on the history of transplant surgery, running up to (most recently) Isabelle Dinoire's face transplant. That obviously had more of an ethical and 'gross out' factor as it's a very visible transplant- also, reports state that there have been complicatons regarding rejection, although judging from the photos (in my opinion) the results have been remarkable. The heart prosthesis won't have this additional visual factor- it's purely functional. If it works, it'll be quite a milestone. This kind of thing makes me really excited to be a medical student!


Sir Nils Olav

How did I miss this? However, as he was adopted as a mascot in 1972 that makes him 36 years old and according to this site, the average lifespan of a penguin is 15-20 years old. Maybe a little switcheroo went down? Anywho, still simply amazing.


Famous People on Sesame Street

Well, to my surprise, there are lots- John Legend, David Beckham, Jack Black, Ray Charles, a young Michael Jackson (maybe he wouldn't be such an appropriate guest anymore), Diana Ross, Ben Stiller and my personal favourite, James Blunt:


Morbid Humour

I don't know how to feel about this. On the one hand, if a person chooses a coffin off this site, that's their choice. On the other, if someone chose me a coffin from here I would turn in my freshly dug grave. They are disgustingly magnificent. Also rather remarkably, all cremation coffins are CO2 offest by:

Recession in America (and generally)...

... smacks of 1929. I'm a bit fed up of it- always on the news. By this stage, I kinda get it! Anyway, as seen on 'Have I Got News For You'.


Increasing the range of your remote

So I've just been watching on of those endless re-runs of 'Top Gear' on Dave (a UK TV channel). In it, they had a feature where Jeremy Clarkson operated a car's central locking from a massive range by placing it against his head. It didn't work when just held in his hand. There are various theories as to why this works which all seemingly make an appearance on this site. I've attempted to summarise:

1) When the remote is held against the head, it is higher. This gives a better line of sight and allows more RF waves to get to the car as they've got a better 'angle of bounce' on the Earth's surface.

2) The head amplifies the signal. This would be due to 'constructive interference' in the skull. I'm dubious.

3) Holding the remote against the head boosts the electrical currents flowing through the chest and hand, which then radiate a signal "roughly four times as powerful".

4) The signal emanates at right angles to the 'head' of the key. By holding it against the head, the key is reorientated so RF waves go more in the direction of the receiver.

5) The head 'retunes' the signal slightly. According to this idea, as the remotes are mass produced, they often send a signal at a frequency just off the desired range. When held, the hand will alter the signal towards this range. The car manufacturers take this into account when tuning the receiver. When the remote is placed against the head, the signal is retuned even more than when it is placed against the hand, so the receiver is much more sensitive to the RF waves.

I'm not sure which one I believe. They all seem so ridiculous! I think I'll go with Occam's Razor- the simplest explanation is usually the right one. So that'd be the height thing. Jeremy Clarkson is quite tall after all.


What's the word for...

... brand names entering the dictionary? There are loads of examples. From watching endless amounts of Countdown, I know that, for instance, 'vaseline' is allowable and got approved recently. So too are 'hoover', 'xerox', 'thermos', 'prozac', 'spandex', 'tampax', 'band-aid' and 'viagra' (although the site is American so I'm not sure whether they're the OED. I also left out 'jello'- that's definitely not British). Apparently, 'walkman' is also there, defined as "a type of personal stereo", and 'to google' has been added to the Merriam-Webster.

If a word describing trademarks that have become so commonplace they've entered everyday usage doesn't exist, I would like to propose one. I would have suggested 'debranding', but apparently that already has a meaning- "the removal of brand names, packaging or other material that would enable research participants to identify a brand." So instead, I'm suggesting debrandation. Does exactly what it says on the tin!


Brick Films

One of my latest penchants is Lego movies. Some of them are just awful but there are some quality gems, especially when you consider they're amateur productions. The one that got me going is called 'The Gauntlet'- quite good fun! I might have a stab at making one if I can find my old lego sets and some time. For more films, this site seems to be the mecca.

Can Craig David rap?

Well yes, apparently he can. News to me! And he's not half bad at it either. Check out his performance at the MOBOs this year- pretty slick.


Nike Dunk Shreks...

...are so sweet. Much more attractive than the ogre!

Frieze Art Fair

This morning on my way to play rugby in Regent's Park I walked through the Frieze Art Fair sculpture park. Some of them I just don't understand, but two stood out for me. Firstly, Dan Graham's aptly named 'Rectangle Inside ¾ Cylinder'. It's made from curves of a mirrored glass so you can see through it as well as your own reflection. I'm sure this probably wasn't what he had in mind, but the falling leaves and chill in the Autumn air seemed to suit the ethereal ghost-like reflections perfectly, so, to me, it really fitted in. For those interested, it also reminded me of a poem by Amy Levy called 'In the Mile End Road'. (I'm in a fairly scientific career path at the moment, so I quite like to revel in culture sometimes!).

The second one I liked was a giant red fork with the tines sticking into the ground, entitled 'Pitchfork: Colour Blue' by Michael Craig-Martin. I don't have a clue what it's about, but a big fork means big meals, and I'm a massive foodie. Ok, actually I found this transcript of a radio interview with him in which Craig-Martin makes the point that the pitchfork won't work without earth to dig "or it isn't really a pitchfork". Similarly, a "light-bulb needs electricity" and "a socket to go into". So he's saying that these everyday objects need something that's absent in order to work. He develops this line of thought by saying that as these are "the most human of objects" without a human presence they'e also useless. I suppose this could be applied to humanity as a whole- people make other people work. I like this idea- unify mankind and all that. Very uplifting! How we're meant to get that from a pitchfork sticking in the ground I don't know. And it's still not blue.


Frickin' laser beams attached to their frickin' heads!

Ok, so not quite. But Khet, the laser game, is awesome. It's not quite as cool as the video makes out, but it's still a lot of fun. All I need now is a smoke machine and some trippy techno music for a geek party rave!


Marmite + Butter =...

In my lifetime, I've been accused many times of being a bit hare-brained. I'm the first to admit that many of my ideas have been a bit crazy, but there have some which were, in my opinion, unjustly ridiculed and mocked. The first of these was endless bread. I used to live in a boarding house, sharing with many other people. At the end of tea, the end pieces of the loaf always seemed to be left next to the toaster. I proposed the solution but got shot down by my peers. Fair enough, my method was a little mental- instead of simply throwing away the end pieces of a loaf or using them for bread crumbs or something, I envisaged a giant circular factory baking one massive donut-shaped loaf. This could be cut into individual loaves. The factory would be of such size that the curvature of a single loaf would be so small as to be unnoticable. Alternatively, there could be one long break-making machine baking a very lengthy loaf. Anyway, I had the last laugh- I found on sale at a Morrison's somewhere in Cornwall a loaf of endless bread. So there!

This morning during breakfast, I was reminded of an idea I had a while ago. Among many others, I'm sure, I've noticed how annoying it is to get butter in the marmite pot or, even worse (in my opinion), marmite on the butter pat. Additionally, the toast has to endure a double spreading which leaves it structurally weakened and, hence, a bit flimsy when picked up. The latest of my ideas is a butter/marmite spread. It would be called either Marbutter, Buttermite or, my favourite, Buttmite, and would be available at varying ratios of marmite to butter to suit all palettes.

People will laugh, but when my idea comes to fruition I shall have no sympathy.

UPDATE: I just googled 'butter and marmite spread' and found that
someone else has had this idea too- all I can say is great minds...


More about Kai Laddiman

I can't quite get over this kid. He's just awesome. I've assembled some additional facts about him from various sources all over the place:

1) He started watching Countdown at the age of 2. This was one of the ways he learnt the alphabet and the English language.
2) He could beat his parents and grandparents at Scrabble at the age of 6.
3) He already has a B grade in AS Level Maths.
4) His Mum styles his hair.
5) Some anagrams of his name are 'I'm a kind lad' and 'A dim, anal kid' (but I'm not sure that second one really applies!).

6) When he grows up, he wants to be a footballer or an inventor.
7) Kai stated that some of his fellow contestants were "a bit miffed at being beaten by a school boy". Well, to be honest, I would be (especially if I was a teacher like one of his victims!).
8) I believe he plays football for the Oak Warriors Under 12s. However, this is unconfirmed.
9) If Jack Bauer and Kai were ever to have a fight, Kai would win. This is because he'd use his enormous lexicon to confuse and confuddle his opponent whose brain would explode. FACT.

Ok, so I made the last one up. It could be true though- nobody can prove me wrong!


Geek Time!

I will admit it, I'm a fairly materialistic chappy. The other night, when walking back from Chinatown, I espied in the window of Urban Outfitters the most awesome clock ever. I'm particularly fond of Rubik's cubes- this is due to the fact that I once had a maths teacher who claimed he could solve one faster than the class could do a matrix problem. I then proceeded to learn how to do it to challenge and destroy him. Nerd, moi? Incidentally, this guy seems to be an uber cubist. Shame I can't understand his site!

The second geeky timepiece I read about in Stuff whilst having a haircut. It's the Tokyo Flash Rogue. I don't know how to read the time off it but, frankly, that's irrelevant. It just looks awesome.


Happy 50th Birthday Paddington!

On another note, I recently won a rather nice traditional stuff Paddington Bear in a raffle. I'm rather attached to it. So happy birthday Paddington! Oh, and I happen to be very fond of marmite so I forgive your blasphemy.

Kai Laddiman is my hero

Broadcasted today, Kai Laddiman became the youngest octochamp on Countdown for 20 years. I left early and ran back from anatomy specifically to watch it. Sheer genius. When I grow up, I want to be like him. Kai for the series title!


Wilko's Woes

Poor, poor Jonny Wilkinson. Broken again. Just as well Cipriani's ok! I found this illustration on the BBC website- very enlightnening!

(14) - Oct 2008: Dislocates knee
(13) - May 2008: Shoulder operation. Misses England tour to NZ
(12) - Sep 2007: Twists ankle. Misses first game of RWC
(11) - Nov 2006: Suffers kidney damage. One month on sidelines
(10) - Sep 2006: Knee ligament injury. Misses autumn Tests
(9) - Jan 2006: Torn abductor muscle
(8) - Nov 2005: Groin operation
(7) - Sep 2005: Appendix operation
(6) - Jul 2005: Shoulder/arm injury v NZ. Misses third Lions Test (5 )- Mar 2005: Injures same left knee on comeback
(4) - Jan 2005: Knee ligament damage. Two months out
(3) - Oct 2004: Haematoma in right arm. Misses autumn tests
(2) - Feb 2004: Shoulder operation. Misses Six Nations
(1) - Dec 2003: Shoulder injury


G-Wiz that's safe!

I hate G-Wiz cars. They look puny and stupid. Yes, I know that one day they'll save the planet, but, quite frankly, if you can't run the windscreen wipers and headlights at the same time it's just not worth buying.

My flatmate and I were walking into university the other morning when we espied several consecutively on the roads. Green cars seem to be fashionable these days- every celeb seems to own a bloody Prius. I pondered aloud that if I were to be hit by a G-Wiz, I would probably crush the bonnet and be left without a blemish on me. Well, I've finally got round to doing the maths.

I'm going to assume that injury is directly related to momentum (i.e. I'm ignoring where exactly on the body the car hits and I'm also assuming that the same amount of bonnet hits). Now, the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents states that "hit by a car at 30 mph, about half of pedestrians will live." 30mph is exactly 13.4112 m/s (courtesy of google calculator). I know this is very rough estimate, but I'm going to use that as my benchmark. I also found out that the average weight for a car in Europe is 1175kg (again, I'm not completely sure about the validity of this figure, but it's the best I have). I'm going to add on 70kg for a driver, and, say 10kg for general stuff in the car, making a total weight of 1255kg. So, using the old momentum=mass x velocity sum, a 50% fatality thingy would be about 16831kg.m/s

Now, the ever educational wikipedia states that the Reva G-Wiz weighs 745kg and can hold a maximum cargo of 270kg, but seeing as I only gave my average car an extra 80kg I'm going to call it a round 825kg. So, using my 50% fatality momentum figure of 16831kg.m/s, the G-wiz would have to be going 20.4m/s to stand a reasonable chance of killing someone- thats 45.6mph. I don't have enough faith in the 0-60mph of the G-Wiz in the stop start streets of London to believe it could ever get up enough speed to have more than a 50% chance of causing a fatality. In fact, on checking wikipedia, it doesn't have a 0-60mph time as its maximum speed is a miserable 50mph. Rubbish

In the immortal words of Boris from Goldeneye, I am invincible!


Tintin goes to the neurologist...

I found this journal article today whilst pissing around when I should have been learning how to look up journal articles.

Best. Article. Ever.

What's the Greek for 'toga'?

I was invited to attend a housewarming toga party the other day. I despise toga parties. They smack of stereotypical American frat bros downing kegs of cheap beer before vomiting in a bush and passing out on the sofa while everyone writes hilarious jibes on their faces in marker pen. I will admit that's just me being slightly prejudiced; I'm basing my views on numerous typical teen comedies. Anyway, I said I'd go provided I didn't have to wear a toga. My host said it was either that or I could go as a Spartan warrior. I pondered aloud that Greek garb would be out of place among Romans, and I'd probably be attacked. He surmised that we'd all look very similar. Dodgy costumes aside, the conundrum was born- what did the ancient Greeks wear?

A quick search later revealed the solution.
Apparently, the Greeks admired the human form and despised luxury, hence preferred to dress in a minimalist style. For this reason, men would often just wear a chlamys, a sort of cloak thing draped over their shoulder. Romans, on the other hand, liked to show off their wealth and so would wear multiple layers. Greek women, according to wikipedia, wore a loose robe called a peplos. Both sexes could also wear a tunic instead called a chiton, which would fall either to the knees for men or the ankles for women. On top of this lot, they could wear a winter cloak called a himation. Finally, women could jazz up their ensemble with a shawl known as a epiblema, and men could don a broad-rimmed hat called a petasos.

I'm just going to get a 300 costume.


5 a day?

A few years ago I went to Kenya on (guess what!) safari. It was really awesome, despite the ridiculously early morning starts. One day, we went to visit a Maasai Mara tribe, where I discovered they ate a diet based on their livestock- they'd 'tap' and drink blood, eat the meat and also have curdled milk. That was pretty much it.

This morning, whilst at med school, I had a practical session on the importance of ascorbate- vitamin C. It basically has an important role in reducing Fe3+ back to Fe2+ so this process called hydroxylation can occur in which proline is converted to hydroxyproline, which can then be incorporated into collagen. This holds our cells together. Without collagen, we get scurvy.

Now, I asked this morning why none of the Maasai people I saw seemed to have any scurvy. After all, they don't seem to eat any fruit or vegetables. I was told by our expert nutritionalist that there is ample vitamin C content (and other vital minerals and stuff, presumably) in meat- after all, the livestock graze on grass which should contain enough of the good stuff (incidentally,
wikipedia disagrees, saying they don't get enough vitamin C, but doesn't address why they don't seem to have any extra health issues. I'm inclined to go with Dr. B) .

So here's what I'm wondering- could we get by without eating fruit and veg? I mean, if we get enough nutrients like vitamin C, iron, thiamine etc. in meat, wouldn't we be alright eating nothing but shedloads of meat? I know there would be a fibre deficiency- maybe meat with weetabix. I'm also ignoring the extra risk of heart disease from higher cholesterol levels. Mainly I'm interested in the nutrients bit.

Any takers?


Death By Colgate

So I was out by a factor of 100 or 1000 or something. I wrote:

Now, I have in front of me 100ml of Colgate. On the ingredients, it says it's 0.32% NaF, which works out at 0.32mg. So, your 85kg chappy would have to eat 12500 tubes of Colgate to die- that's 1250 litres!

0.32% of 100ml is 0.32g, not 0.32mg. So that's where I went wrong. I can't be bothered to redo the sums- best forget about this one.

Cats that look like hitler...

....com. As seen on Graham Norton. AWESOME.