False hype and hope about hypo-alergenic GM cats?

As Cory posted below, Allerca is taking deposits for $3,500 cats genetically engineered to be hypo-allergenic. Caveat emptor though. New Scientist reports that geneticists and allergists doubt Allerca's claims.
It is probably possible to create cats that do not produce the most common protein allergen, says Thomas Platts-Mills, director of the Asthma and Allergic Disease Center at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, US. But he adds that cats produce many more allergens, and that blocking production of the protein could damage the cat's health.

Moreover, Allerca's claims that a technique called RNA-induced gene silencing can work in cats are "unfounded", says Greg Hannon at the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in New York state, and author of the book RNAi: A Guide to Gene Silencing. So far the technique has been used only in mice.

Let's Get Ready to Snitch On Our Neighbors!

The Let's Get Ready to Rumble guy is paying cash bounties to people who snitch on their neighbors' "infringing" use of phrases like "Let's Get Ready to Gamble" and "Are You Ready to Rumble?"
Buffer Enterprises, Inc. now offers a cash bonus to those who report a corroborated unauthorized use [resulting in an actual recovery] of the "Let's Get Ready to Rumble,"(R) "Get Ready To Rumble"(R) or "Ready to Rumble"(R) servicemarked phrases ,any paraphrasing of these marks (including "Get Ready To Crumble,"(R) "Are Your Ready To Rumble?"(TM) "Let's Get Ready To Gamble"(TM)), or use of Michael Buffer's famous rendition of his copyrighted "Let's Get Ready To Rumble" recording. This bonus system applies to viable reports [resulting in an actual recovery] of unauthorized use of our servicemarks, copyrights or related rights in or upon TV, radio, the internet, print or in connection with unlicensed products or services such as T-shirts, toys, posters, or other merchandise.
Link (via Fark)

Jon Stewart will destroy television!

Brian Dear evaluates Jon Stewart-and-co's latest appearance on C-SPAN and predicts that Stewart will destroy television!
The panelists took turns reading from their book, America: The Book. It's amazing how much coverage this book gets on C-SPAN. But these guys are not normal book authors, and they're not there to push the book. They're there to destroy TV as we know it.

I believe that Stewart and company are trying to revolutionize television by tearing down its conventional standards and practices. First, dress inappropriately, like a slacker. Stewart's starting to dress like Bill Murray in the early scenes of Stripes. Second, resort to language that's simply not said on television, certainly not C-SPAN. Speak as many four-letter words as possible, so the television audience members marvel in the fact that there are no bleeps like there are on The Daily Show, only occasional and entirely useless on-screen warnings that this program contains bad language. Duh!

Prediction: Stewart and company are going to get C-SPAN in big trouble, and somebody's going to try to fine or indict C-SPAN for breaking FCC rules. You watch: some congressman is going to take this one for a ride, and sick the FCC on them but good.

Link (Thanks, Brian!)

Hypo-allergenic GM cats available for pre-order

Allerca is taking pre-orders on genetically modified, hypoallergenic cats that do not excrete the allergenic protein in their skin and spit.
ALLERCA will produce the world's first hypoallergenic cats, and we expect the birth of these first special kittens in early 2007.

The cat allergen is a potent protein secreted by the cat’s skin and salivary glands. Removal of the allergen will not harm the cats in any way. The resulting hypoallergenic cats will improve the health and quality of life for millions of cat-allergy sufferers.

While some breeds of cats have been promoted as having less allergen than others, scientists that have tested this hypothesis have shown that all cats, regardless of breed, produce allergen. Allerca will produce the first cats that will not affect human allergies.

The first breed of hypoallergenic cat produced will be the British Shorthair, known to be friendly, playful and affectionate. Other popular breeds will follow soon.

Link (via Futurismic)

Squid biomass exceeds human biomass

Squids thrive in a global-warming world, and the biomass of squid has now exceeded the biomass of humans. Link (via Plastic Bag)

Steampunk mecha-wars

Steam Wars is an elaborate concept for a movie about steam-punk mecha-wars, an alternate history in which th 19th century is dominated by wars between giant, steam-powered killer robots. Link (Thanks, Andy!)

CodeCon call for proposals

CodeCon is the wicked-nerdy technology conference held each year in San Francisco, at which all presentations must include running code, preferably code that is available for download by the con-goers. They've just posted their call for proposals.
All presentations must include working demonstrations, ideally accompanied by source code. Presenters must be done by one of the active developers of the code in question. We emphasize that demonstrations be of *working* code...

Program Committee:
* Jeremy Bornstein, AtomShockwave Corp., USA
* Bram Cohen, BitTorrent, USA
* Jered Floyd, Permabit, USA
* Ian Goldberg, Zero-Knowledge Systems, CA
* Dan Kaminsky, Avaya, USA
* Klaus Kursawe, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, BE
* Ben Laurie, A.L. Digital Ltd., UK
* David Molnar, University of California, Berkeley, USA
* Jonathan Moore, Mosuki, USA
* Len Sassaman, Nomen Abditum Services, USA

Link (via Hack the Planet)

Daily Show clips galore

Lisa Rein has just posted 13 clips from the Daily Show over the past couple weeks, including:
The Colbert Report
Ed Helm's DSpan
Flu Vaccine Shortage
Red Sox Winning The World Series
Walmart violating ancient graveyards in Hawaii
Ad for "America, The Book"
Opening bit of 10/20/04
Coverage of the the mudslinging and overexaggerating statements by Bush and Kerry during the last Presidential Debate
P-diddy etc. (Christina Aguilara - sp?) and their "Vote or Die" campaign.
"Stand and Choose" voting ads starring video game characters
Lewis Black on how the Shrub Administration continually wastes our tax dollars on extravagant purchases in the name of Homeland Security and $500,000 parties for the TSA.
The opening bit from 10-19-04
Iraqi tourism board
Soldiers who refused to go on "suicide mission"
Bush saying that we will "not have an all volunteer army" and then being corrected by someone in the crowd.
Jon Stewart's comments on his Crossfire appearance.
Coverage of second presidential debate.
Drew Barrymore On The Daily Show
Richard Clarke On The Daily Show
Link 1, Link 2, Link 3, Link 4, Link 5, Link 6

William Gibson on ObL tape

William Gibson's posted a blistering analysis of Osama bin Laden's latest video.
OBL today is probably a very satisfied, very optimistic man, and if he can skew the last-minute dynamic of the election in Bush's favor, he'll have cause to be all the more satisfied.

And that's the danger, that some crucial percentage of our dimmer, more reactive voters will flash back to 9-11 and the Bush of the bullhorn, the Bush buffeted with the heartbroken grit of Ground Zero, and vote for that -- childishly imagining that such a vote runs counter to the wishes and the needs of OBL, the bearded stickman, the cave-dwelling spider, our new Old Man of the Mountains. Player of the long game.

Link (Thanks, Jamie!)

Update: CJ point out that Gibson's had some second thoughts about this post

Rogue Taxidermists exhibit

The Minnesota Association of Rogue Taxidermists is holding their first exhibition at the Creative Electric Studios in Minneapolis.
"The organization's mandate is to advocate the showmanship of oddities; espouse the belief in natural adaptation and mutation; and encourage the desire to create displays of curiosity."
And here's a letter from the National Taxidermists Association in response to a request for feedback on the exhibit:
birdtaxidermyIf you are looking for approval for this so called"art", I am afraid you have come to the wrong place. Displays of wounded,bleeding or mangled animals is not in any form,"art" The members of the NTA are truly professional taxidermists and as such can be called artists,and most, if not all, abhor your desplays[sic].

You can surely be called a Rogue taxidermist.

Bill Haynes
NTA Board of Directors
Ethics Chairman
Vice President

Google desktop for OSX misreported by Reuters and others?

Following up on Google CEO Eric Schmidt's remarks at the Internet Anniversary event yesterday in LA, Sean Bonner says:
While I didn't take super detailed notes (...) notice how I didn't say "Google is releasing a desktop search for OSX!!!!" That's because he didn't say that. Well he sort of did, but not really, so you can understand my surprise this morning when Mac Rumors, MacDailyNews and Reuters are reporting otherwise. They are quoting him as saying "We intend to do it." What a spin!! That is so out of context it's not even funny.

First of all lets keep in mind here that it's 2004, almost 2005 and pretty much ANYTHING that is released for a PC will be released for a Mac, it's just a matter of time. We all know that, and it's not news.

The remark in quesestion was in response to someone asking about privacy issues of Google Desktop and a footnote to their question was if Google was planning an OS X version. The answer was "yes, and no" He went on to explain that because the way Operating Systems work so differently and how built in the Google Desktop is there's no way to just port it over to a different OS so it has to be redone from scratch so while they do intended to do it, it's not something that they are working on, or something anyone should expect soon.

That's how I recall Mr. Schmidt's response, too. Not at all the way it's being reported by Reuters -- and others, who weren't there, re-reporting the Reuters item (ok now my head's spinning). Schmidt also ended that reply by pointing out that as a matter of policy, Google does not "pre-announce" products.

Tim O'Reilly was the "questioner," and in a discussion forum on ArsTechnica he posts this response.

This is Tim O'Reilly. I'm the one who asked Eric the question at his talk about whether we'd expect a Mac version of Google desktop, and I have to say I didn't read his response at all the way the Reuters reporter did! He was fairly equivocal, saying that it was a hard problem, requiring a whole separate project, not just a port, because of the differences in the operating systems. He made no announcement of actual plans to deliver the product, or even that Google was actively working on it
Link to Tim's discussion forum post.

Link to Xeni's partial transcript of Schmidt's remarks.

Fragdolls update -- group blog or astroturf campaign? -- UPDATE

Simon sez, "Thought you might be interested to know that I did some more digging into that Fragdolls link that someone sent in to you, and someone else pointed out was actually some pretty insidious stealth marketing." Link

Update: Emily Jane sez, "Another thing about the Fragdolls: They're BOOTH BABES. In addition to being sponsored by UBISoft, at the Penny Arcade Expo a few months ago, they were UBISoft's entire booth.

"While they try to adopt 'Just a bunch of girls that like video games' as their image, walking around and hearing 'PLAY VIDEO GAMES AGAINST HOT CHICKS!!!' all day definitly reduced the fun of this girl that likes video games.

"And while I realize that a bunch of chicks playing video games is going to be an event just because they're in the minority, the willingness of these girls to be the circus and make girls playing video games seem even LESS normal, totally contradicts what they claim they are all about."

Apple to iPod owners: "Eat shit and die" -- UPDATED

If you're an iPod user, you would have done well to have availed yourself of iPod Download, an OS X app that made it easy to move your music from your iPod to your Mac. Of course, Apple hated that poor little app, so it was sometimes hard to find, as Apple devoted expensive laywer-hours to shutting down all the sites that were hosting copies of it. Of course, there's more dough where that came from -- they'll just pass the cost on to you in your next iPod.

As it turns out, you're shit-outta-luck even if you managed to snag a copy. That's because Apple just devoted some expensive engineering hours to updating iTunes to version 4.7, with the "improvement" of breaking iPod Download. That's right -- Apple's spending money seeing to it that features are removed from your iPod. Thanks a whole lot, Apple.

Every time I post something like this, I get a deluge of mail that makes the same tired points, so before you bother, here's some pre-rebuttal:

  • Apple didn't have any choice. If they don't play nice with the suicidally stupid record industry, the industry will stop supplying music for the iPod.

    So freaking what? Who's the customer here, me or Sony/BMG? And honestly, there may be some powerful bozon emitters in the halls of the RIAA companies, but does anyone really believe that the record industry will just take its ball and go home at this point? "Sorry, we're no longer making music available for the iPod anymore because Apple has refused to break your personal stereo to our specifications." Riiiight.

  • Just don't run the update.

    Yeah, that works. Until they roll the iTunes update into an OS update, like they did the last time they broke iTunes and called it an upgrade.

What's the lesson here? Well, Apple's not on your side, even if you're an Apple customer. If you buy into a proprietary platform where the music industry gets a veto, you're scr0d. Every time you buy an iPod, you are financing legal and technical countermeasures aimed at taking away legitimate features that enable you to do more with your lawfully acquired music and hardware. Link

Update #1: Why it's irrelevant that there are other tools for synching your iPod

Update #2: How to un-cripple your copy of iTunes 4.7

Haunted Mansion tombstone winner "burial" photos

Cary Sharp is the lucky soul who won the $37,500 charity auction for the right to have your own tombstone installed at the Disneyland Haunted Mansion graveyard. This weekend marked his "burial" -- and LaughingPlace has the story with pix.
At the stroke of midnight, Sharp was delivered to the gates of the "Haunted Mansion" in a black horse-drawn carriage, and was greeted by the Mansion's familiar trio of hitchhiking ghosts. He also received a one-of-a-kind miniature replica of the tombstone and a "Death" certificate of authenticity officially recognizing the addition to the attraction. His gravestone is located in front of a quintet of ghostly musicians who eternally perform in the attraction's memorable graveyard scene.
Link (Thanks, John!)

Disney sued by "inventor" of FastPass system

A man in Tennessee claims he came up with the idea for Disney's FastPass system, whereby one gets a ticket to come back to a ride later without queueing, and sent it as a suggestion to Disney. Disney wrote him a letter back telling him it was a dumb idea, and then -- he alleges -- they implemented and patented it. Now he's suing. Link (Thanks, Jason!)