Oklahoma highway blocked by 800 baby pigs


It's raining pigs:
Interstate 40, the main east-west highway in Oklahoma, was closed for several hours Thursday when about 800 baby pigs spilled on to the road after the truck transporting them overturned, police said Friday.

Several pigs were killed when their vented livestock truck overturned just east of Oklahoma City. And the pigs, all of which were under a year old, had little idea what to do with their first taste of freedom.

The freeway was closed in both directions as state troopers, firemen and ambulance workers doubled as farm hands in a bid to prevent the pigs from running amok in the Oklahoma City suburbs and return them to a pig farm, police said.

Some of the pigs plunged to their deaths when they jumped off a highway bridge near the wreckage as law enforcement officials were closing in for their capture.

James Watson, an Oklahoma state trooper, said the situation would have been much worse if the pigs had been adults. "If these had been full-grown hogs, they would have gone ballistic," Watson said. "We would of had to shoot them."

Several motorists who stopped at the scene asked if they could take home a pig or two in their pickup trucks, Watson said. He added he thinks all of the surviving pigs were captured and being held at a livestock pen in Oklahoma City.

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if voting could change anything, it wouldn't be legal

I've posted about the deplorable, hackable state of electronic voting machines before. Well, today, you may have already noticed that every blog you read is pointing you at the EFF page on the new IEEE standard committee for voting machines. IEEE set up this standards committee as a reaction to the recent (cough) "irregularities", and what it should be doing is describing a way to make voting machines safe. Instead, it apparently has been co-opted by the voting machine manufacturers, who are codifying their current behavior: making the standard say that they should continue doing exactly what they're doing today.

Cory says:

The standard this committee produces will likely form the basis of the US goverment's voting-machine purchases (as well as those of governments abroad), and if there are holes in the standard today, they will be biting our democracies on the ass for decades. There's never been a clearer demonstration that "architecture is politics."

So go there and fill out EFF's petition.

Relatedly, here's another article about the current state of voting machines. It's somewhat more shrill than other articles on the topic I've read, but it covers exactly the same ground.

The American vote-count is controlled by three major corporate players -- Diebold, ES&S, and Sequoia -- with a fourth, Science Applications International Corporation, coming on strong. These companies have been given billions of dollars by the Bush Regime to complete a sweeping computerization of voting machines nationwide by the 2004 election. These glitch-riddled systems -- many using "touch-screen" technology that leaves no paper trail at all -- are almost laughably open to manipulation, according to corporate whistleblowers and computer scientists at Stanford, Johns Hopkins and other universities.

The technology had a trial run in the 2002 midterm elections. [...] A Florida Democrat who lost a similarly "glitched" local election went to court to have the computers examined -- but the case was thrown out by a judge who ruled that the innards of America's voting machines are the "trade secrets" of the private companies who make them.

Does it seem like a good idea to you that the very mechanism of democracy be controlled by a "trade secret" funded by the controlling presidential administration? Me neither.

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dnalounge update

DNA Lounge update, wherein I recommend you spend some time at the club over the next week.
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"magic helmet..."


another cool pic, real or not...

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spear and magic helmet

Ok, it's the wrong hurricane (this is Lilli, taken from the ISS) but this is a cool picture... It looks like someone pulled the plug out of the bottom of the atmosphere-tub!

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hungry star chews own planets off

A giant star has been caught in the act of swallowing three planets, one after the other, with each "meal" accompanied by a massive eruption.

The star, known as V838 Monocerotis, is about 20,000 light years from Earth. In January 2002, it temporarily became the brightest star in the Milky Way, 600,000 times more luminous than the Sun. [...] Retter and colleague Ariel Marom believe their new analysis of light emissions from the star indicates that it was a red giant that expanded and successively swallowed three relatively massive planets in quick succession. The time between the first and the last engulfment was only about two months.

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one bucket of cocks, coming right up

Growing new skin:
Stratatech Corporation's core technology is a technique for changing burned or ulcerated skin into healthy new skin. [...] The cells were derived from infant circumcision tissue, which is typically discarded.

They are comprised almost entirely of keratinocyte cells -- the building blocks of human skin. The cultured cells grow into distinct stratified layers, resulting in tissue that's essentially no different from normal skin. [...] The cells are therefore perfect for treating burns and diabetic ulcers -- covering the wounds eases the victim's pain and also protects against infections. Animal tests have confirmed that the engineered tissue will effectively cover and even heal wounds, and the company now has recent FDA approval to conduct human clinical trials.

<LJ-CUT text=" --More--(30%) ">

Immortal Skin:

Allen-Hoffmann stood behind Schurr, her mouth gaping in disbelief as she watched him maneuver an instrument she likens to a "big rolling razor blade" to cut the burnt skin off the farmer's body. "He looked like a butchered animal," she says with a gasp. "Blood was rolling off the table. It was amazing." Once the wound was cleaned and Schurr began applying the lab-grown skin replacement, she understood all too well how her cells might help. "You can hardly even see the skin," which she says looks like plastic wrap and feels like wet toilet paper. "It's very difficult to work with. You can't suture it, so the surgeons stapled it on. The patient had hundreds of little squares stapled all over his body." [...]

While enough of the skin Schurr grafted onto the farmer, a product called Epicel, can be grown to cover a whole person in two weeks, it consists only of an epidermis. Scientists know all the ingredients that go into a dermis, but the structure has them stumped. Like spider's silk, the dermis is an intricately woven material with a three-dimensional structure so complex that it hasn't yet been replicated perfectly in the lab. So Epicel must be glued to an artificial dermis that acts as a scaffold upon which a patient's body can slowly build a new dermis. [...]

What sets Allen-Hoffmann's skin apart from others is that it would be the only one that is just as thick as normal skin. The epidermis would be made of her lab-grown cells, but because of patenting issues the dermis is still a secret. Yet there is a hitch: Since her cells never stop growing, they're called immortal. And there is only one cell type in which immortality is considered normal: cancer. [...] Allen-Hoffmann's cells do divide indefinitely in the lab, but -- interestingly -- in an environment that mimics the human body, they behave like normal skin cells. "We are studying skin grafts for the entire length of the experimental animal's life," she says in her defense, "and we have yet to see any tumors or other characteristics associated with malignancy, such as the cells not obeying tissue boundaries." And actually, those facts completely surprised her: She expected the cells would be cancerous too.

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bouncing bear


I'll bet this video would be really funny if RealPlayer worked on my machine.

Trapped Bear Springs Off Trampoline To Safety

A 2-year-old black bear trapped in a maple tree in Missoula, Mont., tumbled back to earth after being tranquilized and landing on a trampoline, according to a Local 6 News report.

Fish Wildlife and Parks officials used a tranquilizer gun on the 150-pound male bear after several attempts to get the animal down failed Tuesday. Minutes after being shot, the bear dropped out of the tree. During its fall, the animal hit the springs of a trampoline under the tree and catapulted high into the air before landing on the ground. Officials said the bear is fine and will be released into the wild in the morning.

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perl and unicode go together like apples and razor blades

That scrmable thing has really been making the rounds: I've seen the text translated into three or four other (human) languages now, not to mention all the people writing their own scripts in their marginalized geek-language du jour.

But my script was malfunctioning for a bunch of people, and I finally figured out why. Fucking Unicode again. If $LANG contains "utf8" (which is the default on recent Red Hat systems), then "^\w" doesn't work right, among other things. Check this out:

    setenv LANG en_US
    echo -n "foo.bar" | \
    perl -e '$_ = <>; print join (" | ", split (/([^\w]+)/)) . "\n";'

          ===> "foo | . | bar" (right)

    setenv LANG en_US.utf8
    echo -n "foo.bar" | \
    perl -e '$_ = <>; print join (" | ", split (/([^\w]+)/)) . "\n";'

          ===> "foo.bar" (wrong!)

It works fine in both cases if you do $_ = "foo.bar" instead of reading it from stdin.

perl-5.8.0-88, Red Hat 9. Hate.

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all crime is terrorism

I mentioned the Patriot Act being used to go after meth labs in August:
The term "nuclear, biological or chemical weapon of mass destruction" applies to "any substance that is designed or has the capability to cause death or serious injury and ... is or contains toxic or poisonous chemicals or their immediate precursors."

And now there's this gem, showing that, in fact, this is Fatherland Security's favored approach, rather than just some loophole being attempted by an insane prosecutor: New Terror Laws Used Vs. Common Criminals:

"Within six months of passing the Patriot Act, the Justice Department was conducting seminars on how to stretch the new wiretapping provisions to extend them beyond terror cases," said Dan Dodson, a spokesman for the National Association of Criminal Defense Attorneys. "They say they want the Patriot Act to fight terrorism, then, within six months, they are teaching their people how to use it on ordinary citizens." [...]

Stefan Cassella, deputy chief for legal policy for the Justice Department's asset forfeiture and money laundering section, said that while the Patriot Act's primary focus was on terrorism, lawmakers were aware it contained provisions that had been on prosecutors' wish lists for years and would be used in a wide variety of cases.

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