Category “Technorgasm”

Is Artificial Blood 20 Years Down the Road?

Talk about your med­ical break­through if this can be worked out.  No more con­cerns about the blood sup­ply.  No more worry from hos­pi­tals that they lack the wrong blood type.

With this achieve­ment, “O-Negative” just became much more in supply.

Arti­fi­cially cre­ated blood could one day replace dona­tions as the norm for blood transfusions.

That’s accord­ing to researchers at the Uni­ver­sity of Edin­burgh who have been using stem cells to cre­ate red blood cells.

And in 2016 they are plan­ning to con­duct a ground­break­ing trial that, for the first time, will test arti­fi­cial blood made from stem cells in patients.

The £5 mil­lion project is being pio­neered by the Uni­ver­sity of Edin­burgh and comes after years of research into grow­ing red blood cells.

The process involves using adult skin or blood cells that have been genet­i­cally mod­i­fied into stem cells, known as induced pluripo­tent stem (iPS) cells. (Empha­sis mine.)

These iPS cells are then cul­tured in bio­logic con­di­tions that mimic the human body, even­tu­ally lead­ing to their tran­si­tion into mature red blood cells.

The trick so far has been increas­ing the effi­ciency of this tran­si­tion process, as not all the cells are capa­ble of becom­ing red blood cells.

The team at the Uni­ver­sity of Edin­burgh has got this effi­ciency to approach­ing 50% in a process that takes about a month.

The red blood cells are then sep­a­rated from the rest of the cells in a centrifuge.

Their next step will be to trial the blood in patients in 2016.

Two things: If you’re still giv­ing blood, keep giv­ing blood.  Hos­pi­tals pre­fer hav­ing the exact blood type of the recip­i­ent on-hand, as good a uni­ver­sal donor O-Negative blood is, it can’t be stressed how med­ically impor­tant the right blood type is to recovery.

Secondly…another fine dis­cov­ery made pos­si­ble with adult stem cells.

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Amazon Creates “Pay to Quit” Program

Think you’ve got more to offer this world and feel like you’re a cubi­cle troll?

Do you hap­pen to work for Amazon.com?

Then have they got the option for you, up to $5,000 options to be exact.  Tak­ing a page from fel­low online retailer “Zap­pos,” Ama­zon is pay­ing their employ­ees to quit (if they so choose) an amount of $2,000.  The amount increases $1,000 per year they’ve been with the com­pany and maxes out at $5,000.

In Jeff Bezos’ longest let­ter to share­hold­ers, the Ama­zon CEO intro­duced a new pro­gram called “Pay to Quit,” a $5,000 offer for employ­ees to quit their job at Amazon.

Bor­row­ing the “Pay to Quit” idea from Zap­pos, Bezos said the pro­gram will push employ­ees to seri­ously eval­u­ate whether they are where they want to be.

We hope they don’t take the offer; we want them to stay,” said Bezos in the let­ter to share­hold­ers. “Why do we make this offer? The goal is to encour­age folks to take a moment and think about what they really want. In the long-run, an employee stay­ing some­where they don’t want to be isn’t healthy for the employee or the company.”

Here’s how it works: employ­ees are given the option to quit once a year. If they want to quit, they get an offer of $2,000, which increases by $1,000 each year until it reaches $5,000.

In terms of a sev­er­ance pack­age, it’s the not the worst one could walk away from.

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Cartoon of the Day

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Here’s a news arti­cle on the study.

As bar­be­cue sea­son approaches, researchers have dis­cov­ered an unlikely ingre­di­ent that could improve the safety of your meat — let­ting it swill in beer.

They say that let­ting meat marindade in pil­sner can help reduce the for­ma­tion of poten­tially harm­ful cancer-causing sub­stances in grilled meats.

They say pil­sner and black beer are most effec­tive, halv­ing the amount of Poly­cyclic aro­matic hydro­car­bons, which have been linked to col­orec­tal cancer.

The researchers are report­ing that the very same beer that many peo­ple enjoy at back­yard bar­be­ques could, when used as a mari­nade, help reduce the for­ma­tion of poten­tially harm­ful sub­stances in grilled meats.

The researchers grilled sam­ples of pork mar­i­nated for four hours in Pil­sner beer, non-alcoholic Pil­sner beer or a black beer ale, to well-done on a char­coal grill.

Black beer had the strongest effect, reduc­ing the lev­els of eight major PAHs by more than half com­pared with unmar­i­nated pork.

“Thus, the intake of beer mar­i­nated meat can be a suit­able mit­i­ga­tion strat­egy,” say the researchers.

The study appears in ACS’ Jour­nal of Agri­cul­tural and Food Chemistry.

My per­sonal favorite is to mari­nade with a Leinie’s Creamy Dark.  Add that to some McCormick’s ready-made sea­son­ing or mari­nade mix and it’s great.

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Cartoon of the Day

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NASA Suspends Space Cooperation with Russia over Crimea / Ukraine">NASA Suspends Space Cooperation with Russia over Crimea / Ukraine

Gee, you’d think this would have been one of the first things we did instead of start­ing with the strongly worded letters. 

NASA has been told to sus­pend con­tact with Russ­ian gov­ern­ment offi­cials because of Russia’s “ongo­ing vio­la­tion of Ukraine’s sov­er­eignty and ter­ri­to­r­ial integrity,” accord­ing to an agency memo cir­cu­lated Wednes­day. The Inter­na­tional Space Sta­tion, which is jointly oper­ated by NASA, Rus­sia, the Euro­pean Space Agency, Japan and Canada, is exempt and not directly impacted by the new guidelines.

The memo appar­ently reflects a broad State Depart­ment direc­tive to mul­ti­ple fed­eral agen­cies that have reg­u­lar con­tact with the Russ­ian gov­ern­ment. In NASA’s case, the space sta­tion rep­re­sents the bulk of the agency’s deal­ings with Rus­sia and the exemp­tion pre­sum­ably means busi­ness as usual.

But the space agency has mul­ti­ple, less-visible coop­er­a­tive efforts in space sci­ence, aero­nau­tics and other areas, and the poten­tial impacts on those remain to be seen.

Appar­ently, this is hap­pen­ing in all fed­eral agen­cies,” said John Logs­don, pro­fes­sor emer­i­tus of polit­i­cal sci­ence and inter­na­tional affairs at George Wash­ing­ton Uni­ver­sity. “So it’s con­sis­tent with the across-government thing. It’s civil­ian, it doesn’t have any­thing to do with the RD-180 (a Russ­ian engine used aboard Atlas 5 rock­ets) and ISS is unperturbed.”

He said the restric­tions mir­ror those already in place gov­ern­ing NASA’s rela­tion­ship, or lack thereof, with China.

As the memo seems to dic­tate, the ISS — Inter­na­tional Space Sta­tion — is exempt.  Last week, a new crew which included 3 Amer­i­cans, went up to the the ISS for another pro­longed stay.  Cost of one seat for each on board a Russ­ian Soyuz rocket is said to be about $71 mil­lion.  With the U.S. cur­rently hav­ing turned its entire space shut­tle fleet into museum pieces, the Rus­sians are the only way out to space until — or even if — a new Amer­i­can orbiter is given the green light.

The ISS pro­gram is cur­rently set to expire in 2024, the cur­rent spec­u­la­tion from NASA is to have a replace­ment for the space shut­tle some­time around 2017. No one knows what, if any­thing is on the launch pad at the moment.

Though at $71 mil­lion a seat, you can’t help but think Richard Bran­son is seri­ously under­charg­ing for tick­ets of his “Vir­gin Galac­tic” space tourism venture.

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WI Assembly Passes 1st in the Nation “Patent Troll” Bill">WI Assembly Passes 1st in the Nation “Patent Troll” Bill

Still has to clear the state Sen­ate, but this is a huge law if we want to see tech­no­log­i­cal busi­nesses (and the end users who often are the vic­tims of patent trolls) flour­ish in Wisconsin.

Patent trolls cost the U.S. econ­omy over $29 billion-plus annu­ally.  That’s lost inno­va­tion, lost jobs and lost rev­enue to peo­ple who didn’t cre­ate the ini­tial tech, but only bought an expired patent and then pro­ceeded to sue for money that never was right­fully theirs.

Madi­son – Today the Wis­con­sin State Assem­bly passed Assem­bly Bill 656, the Patent Noti­fi­ca­tion Act, a bill authored by State Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Adam Ney­lon (R-Pewaukee) tar­get­ing “patent trolls.” The leg­is­la­tion makes preda­tory patent trolling ille­gal in Wis­con­sin by cre­at­ing a stan­dard­ized noti­fi­ca­tion process for patent asser­tion enti­ties to notify indi­vid­u­als or enti­ties oper­at­ing in Wis­con­sin, which they sus­pect are infring­ing on their intel­lec­tual prop­erty rights. Wis­con­sin is the first state to have passed such legislation.

Wis­con­sin is lead­ing the fight to pro­tect busi­nesses from patent trolls in Amer­ica. This bill sends a clear mes­sage to patent trolls around the coun­try to think twice before scam­ming Wis­con­sin busi­nesses. As new tech­nol­ogy devel­ops, this type of preda­tory behav­ior will per­sist unless some­thing is done to level the play­ing field. We must pro­tect the inno­va­tion lead­ing to job cre­ation, with­out over reg­u­lat­ing the process so com­pa­nies or insti­tu­tions mak­ing a legit­i­mate claim are protected.

I’d like to thank my col­leagues in the Assem­bly for join­ing me in the fight against patent trolls. By offer­ing this proac­tive solu­tion to address the issues fac­ing us today, we show our abil­ity to adapt to the times and pro­tect inno­va­tion to ensure eco­nomic pros­per­ity con­tin­ues in the state of Wis­con­sin now and into the future,” Ney­lon commented.

The bill passed on a voice vote, which means it likely passed on unan­i­mous consent.

ADDENDUM:  Obvi­ously, there is some legal ques­tion as whether this will have any teeth to it.  Patents are a fed­eral issue, and their rules may trump Wisconsin’s.

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The House Continues to Win

Early reports have it that Vegas sports­books — despite los­ing on “Prop Bets” involv­ing safeties for the third-straight year — have made nearly $20 mil­lion in prof­its off of Super Bowl XLVIII bets. 

Note this fig­ure does not include “off-Vegas” and non-casino bets.  You know, the ille­gal ones (which might include your office pool, but hey, I ain’t snitching).

Gam­blers wagered a record $119.4 mil­lion at Nevada casi­nos on the Super Bowl, allow­ing sports­books to reap an unprece­dented profit as the bet­ting pub­lic lost out in Seattle’s rout of the Pey­ton Manning-led Den­ver Broncos.

Unau­dited tal­lies showed sports­books made an unprece­dented profit of $19.7 mil­lion on the action, the Gam­ing Con­trol Board announced Mon­day. That’s mil­lions more than the past three Super Bowl wins combined.

The Den­ver Bron­cos were a 2.5-point favorite, but the Seat­tle Sea­hawks took the cham­pi­onship 43–8.

Odd­s­mak­ers said Pey­ton Man­ning fans drove the unprece­dented han­dle, flood­ing Las Vegas and north­ern Nevada with wagers on the favored team and its vet­eran quar­ter­back, who was named the NFL’s Most Valu­able Player for the 2013 sea­son the day before the game. Many believed Man­ning was primed for a big game after his record-setting year.

The pre­vi­ous record for the amount of bets placed, or the han­dle, was set last year, when gam­blers wagered $98.9 mil­lion on the Super Bowl between the Bal­ti­more Ravens and the San Fran­cisco 49ers.

The last record for casino win was set in 2005, when sports­books won $15.4 million.

As for the “First Score — Safety” prop bet, it was pay­ing at odds on two levels:

Some odd­s­mak­ers said they lost out on propo­si­tion bets, includ­ing whether a safety would be the first score of the game. Casi­nos paid out at 8-to-1 for the safety. Fans who bet that the first score would be on a safety cashed in at 60-to-1. It was the third year in a row that sports­books have been hit on the safety bet.

The safety is no longer in my vocab­u­lary,” said Johnny Avello, who runs the lux­u­ri­ous sports­book at Wynn.

The last time Vegas lost on the Super Bowl was in 2008.  At the time, casi­nos lost $2.6 million.

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You Can Now Buy Cars Via Amazon*

(* — If you believe web-based advertising.)

Two things of inter­est here.

1) The fact that this ad takes place in Madi­son, WI prob­a­bly helps high­light how much Ama­zon is intend­ing to invest in the Bad­ger State.

2)  A Nis­san Versa, seri­ously?  (I guess if you want a cheap hatch­back, you want a cheap hatchback…)

 

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PBS Running into Internet Streaming Demands of Viewers">PBS Running into Internet Streaming Demands of Viewers

Some­thing tells me, you won’t be hear­ing the words, “This Stream­ing Video is made pos­si­ble through a gen­er­ous dona­tion from [Insert Cor­po­rate Name Here] and view­ers like you” any­time soon.

Despite some fans eager to see it ear­lier, “Down­ton Abbey” will con­tinue to begin its new sea­sons on PBS in Jan­u­ary, the system’s chief exec­u­tive said Monday.

The return of “Down­ton Abbey,” which began its fourth sea­son on Jan. 5, is becom­ing a post-holiday tra­di­tion for the show’s fans, said Paula Kerger, PBS pres­i­dent. The British series began pre­sent­ing new episodes in late Sep­tem­ber back home, but PBS holds it back. The drama had more than 10 mil­lion view­ers for its fourth-season debut, and the episode was streamed online 1 mil­lion times dur­ing the fol­low­ing week, she said.

Debut­ing PBS’ most buzz-worthy show at the same time it starts in Britain will put it in direct com­pe­ti­tion with the new sea­son offer­ings from the broad­cast net­works, Kerger said. It is also eas­ier to get cast mem­bers to the U.S. to pro­mote the new sea­son if they don’t have to worry about those duties in Britain at the same time.

It would be very hard for me to imag­ine putting it any­where else than where it has seemed to have found a very strong audi­ence,” she said.

Like the U.S., Great Britain has a tele­vi­sion sea­son that starts in the fall.  Unlike the U.S. — which typ­i­cally fills this time with “mid-season replace­ments” and shows on shorter orders — the U.K. also has a tele­vi­sion sea­son that begins in Jan­u­ary or Feb­ru­ary.  So I under­stand why PBS is reluc­tant to force the “Down­ton” cast to make mul­ti­ple trips across the pond to pro­mote the show in a whirl­wind media tour of Lon­don, New York and Los Angeles.

How­ever, we are liv­ing in a world where stream­ing video and “On-Demand” view­ing are tak­ing off, and such “exclu­sive” deals that PBS has with ITV (“Downton’s” home net­work in the UK) and the BBC (“Sherlock’s”) are becom­ing moot as more and more Amer­i­cans buy soft­ware which allows them to stream full episodes on the BBC’s UK website.

(Cur­rently, only com­put­ers with IPs based in the UK can access the video stream­ing of bbc.co.uk, how­ever, either a soft­ware patch or scram­bler device is allow­ing many Amer­i­cans to bypass the IP restric­tions and view them from their PCs here in the states.)

Also, many showrun­ners in the UK are pub­licly stat­ing they hate the way PBS is delay­ing their shows for their own rat­ings needs.  One of them, is Steven Mof­fat, who writes “Sher­lock.”  To try to com­pen­sate Moffat’s out­rage, PBS moved up the show from its usual March start to mid-January.

The pre­miere episode of “Series 3″ aired this past Sunday.

PBS is exper­i­ment­ing with a shorter delay for the “Sher­lock” series, respond­ing to the pleas of fer­vent fans. The show’s new sea­son began in Britain on New Year’s Day and this past Sun­day on PBS.

That’s still too long a delay, said series co-creator and writer Steven Moffat.

We can’t expect a show to go out in one coun­try and expect peo­ple in another coun­try to wait more than a day. The world has changed utterly,” Mof­fat said in an inter­view. “We’re going to be down­load­ing all our tele­vi­sion very, very soon, so the idea you have to wait is nonsense.”

Sher­lock” star Bene­dict Cum­ber­batch agreed.

It breaks my heart that this hit show, appre­ci­ated world­wide as it is, is not deliv­ered world­wide at the same time. And it’s pos­si­ble,” he said, if PBS and the BBC would coor­di­nate the U.S.-U.K. airings.

Not doing so is a slight to the show’s “com­mu­ni­ties of fans,” Cum­ber­batch said.

Moffat’s other show — the sci-fi show “Doc­tor Who” — is also on the BBC and has appar­ently solved the prob­lem a num­ber of ways. Many of which were designed to avoid spoil­ers in an ever-increasing tech­no­log­i­cal world.

The first is that since the start of “Series 7,” the show has been aired on the same day; pre­mier­ing first in the UK, then air­ing on BBC Amer­ica about six hours later.  Sec­ond have been a series of global simul­casts; start­ing first with a world­wide announce­ment of actor Peter Capaldi as “The 12th Doc­tor” on every BBC-affiliate from the UK to the U.S. to Aus­tralia.  They repeated the feat in late-November when “The Day of the Doc­tor,” the 5oth Anniver­sary Spe­cial aired.

It was the single-biggest simul­cast event in world his­tory.

No one has actu­ally said how long the con­tract between BBC and PBS is when it comes to the re-airing of “Sher­lock.”  Given that it took longer between “Series 2″ and “Series 3″ to film because of com­mit­ments by show stars Cum­ber­batch and Mar­tin Free­man, plans in the works for a “Series 4″ and “Series 5″ under­way, along with Moffat’s urg­ing of same-day air­ings, the ques­tion becomes:  If or When does “Sher­lock” move to BBC America?

It might hap­pen sooner than a lot of PBS view­ers think, and they can blame tech­nol­ogy for it.

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Texas Senate Candidate to Take Donation in BitCoin

For the record, I believe the can­di­dacy of Steve Stock­man (R-TX) — who might go down in his­tory as the only man to serve one term in office twice in a twenty year time span (1994–1996, 2012–2014) — is a joke and I wish John Cornyn noth­ing but luck in maim­ing this idiot come March.

How much of a joke is he?  He’s openly tak­ing dona­tions to his cam­paign in “Bit­Coin,” the cyber-currency whose value is based pretty much based on what­ever the value not held by the Win­klevoss Twins.

Rep. Steve Stock­man (R-Texas) is the outsider’s out­sider — what other Texan would spend a freez­ing New Year’s hun­dreds of miles away in New York City?

But there he was last night at the launch event for the NYC Bit­coin Cen­ter, located just up the street from the New York Stock Exchange.

Stockman’s atten­dance was a favor to Cen­ter founder Nick Spanos, a real estate devel­oper and Bit­coin enthu­si­ast. Spanos helped phone bank on Stockman’s most recent Con­gres­sional campaign.

The Cen­ter itself is still in some­thing of a plan­ning stage, exist­ing more as a state­ment about Bit­coin itself, though it plans on host­ing a hackathon later this month.

Stock­man, a vocal oppo­nent of Fed pol­icy, told Busi­ness Insider last night that he wants to pro­mote Bit­coin, whose most fer­vent evan­ge­lists tout as an alter­na­tive to fiat currency.

To do so, he is now accept­ing Bit­coin for his Sen­ate cam­paign against incum­bent John Cornyn.

As of this morn­ing, one Bit­Coin equates to around $790.

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