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Category: the odes

08/17/08 09:52 - 73ºF - ID#45354

The "Official" Olympics

Synchronized Cubicle Dancing
This has to be the most creative yet goofy video wishing good luck to the Russian synchronized swim team at the Olympics. :)



The "Official" Formuloid 1 Championship.



For more diversions e.g. a literal "Draughts" game and other crazy and borderline weird (but insanely hilarious) Official Olympoid efforts, check out this .



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Permalink: The_quot_Official_quot_Olympics.html
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Location: Buffalo, NY


Category: science

08/17/08 12:21 - 68ºF - ID#45347

Music Ontology

Quite strangely, very similar algorithms, statistics and probability models are used to generate Gene Ontology and Music Ontology Networks. Based on the structure of my music ontology tag-cloud network, can Science one day predict what kind of allelic variants (of genes) I carry? Or more importantly, can my musical tastes predict my reaction and response to medical treatments?

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Intriguing... The possibilities are endless.
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Category: science

08/12/08 09:00 - 71ºF - ID#45318

Harry Potter in Scientific Literature

I was lazily skimming through some articles on pubmed when I found this

Harry Potter and the curse of headache.
Sheftell F, Steiner TJ, Thomas H.
The New England Center for Headache, Stamford, CT, USA
From the Abstract:
Headache disorders are common in children and adolescents. Even young male Wizards are disabled by them. In this article we review Harry Potter's headaches as described in the biographical series by JK Rowling. Moreover, we attempt to classify them. Regrettably we are not privy to the Wizard system of classifying headache disorders and are therefore limited to the Muggle method, the International Classification of Headache Disorders, 2nd edition (ICHD-II). Harry's headaches are recurrent. Although conforming to a basic stereotype, and constant in location, throughout the 6 years of his adolescence so far described they have shown a tendency to progression. Later descriptions include a range of accompanying symptoms. Despite some quite unusual features, they meet all but one of the ICHD-II criteria for migraine, so allowing the diagnosis of 1.6 Probable migraine.


Someone actually sat down and analyzed Harry Potter's headaches and categorized it according to the International Classification of Headache Disorders, 2nd edition (ICHD-II). The article received 4 comments from other scientific groups. It seemed rather unbelievable. So I read the article and to their credit, the authors use the rather flippant subject matter to point out that research in pediatric/adolescent headache is woefully inadequate.

Then I wondered if using Harry Potter was a trend in scientific publishing. And indeed, a search for Harry Potter in Pubmed turned up no less than 26 links including 2 reviews, some of them published in high impact journals. A search on Scopus lead to 46 results referencing Harry Potter including the fields of Medicine (17), Engineering (14), Neuroscience (6) Psychology (5) Pharmacology, Toxicology and Pharmaceutics (3) Multidisciplinary (3) Environmental Science (3) Computer Science (2) Materials Science (2) Chemistry (2) Chemical Engineering (1) Nursing (1) Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology (1) and Agricultural and Biological Sciences (1).

Another interesting article referencing the pediatric wizard was this

Origins of magic: review of genetic and epigenetic effects
Ramagopalan SV, Knight M, Ebers GC, Knight JC.
Wellcome Trust Centre for Human Genetics, University of Oxford, Oxford OX3 7BN.
From the abstract:
OBJECTIVE: To assess the evidence for a genetic basis to magic. DESIGN: Literature review. SETTING: Harry Potter novels of J K Rowling. PARTICIPANTS: Muggles, witches, wizards, and squibs. INTERVENTIONS: Limited. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Family and twin studies, magical ability, and specific magical skills. RESULTS: Magic shows strong evidence of heritability, with familial aggregation and concordance in twins. Evidence suggests magical ability to be a quantitative trait. Specific magical skills, notably being able to speak to snakes, predict the future, and change hair colour, all seem heritable. CONCLUSIONS: A multilocus model with a dominant gene for magic might exist, controlled epistatically by one or more loci, possibly recessive in nature. Magical enhancers regulating gene expressionmay be involved, combined with mutations at specific genes implicated in speech and hair colour such as FOXP2 and MCR1.



It references no less than 7 Harry Potter books and in the process, does a very entertaining review of some of the basic principles of genetics and epigenetics.

I find such a trend very refreshing. It's high time we, as a scientific community, moved away from high-flown and quite incomprehensible jargon in our scientific publications. We owe it to every new student in science and to so many non-science people who fund our research. I think that science can be just as entertaining and simple to understand as the latest sci-fi movie on-screen. I am so tired of tolerating scientists who speak in notations and three-lettered jargon, make no effort to connect with their audience, assume everyone works in their lab or could care less whether their audience is awake, asleep or dead. It is very demotivating to sit through conference talks and lectures with these nasty representatives of the field that I love. They are a disgrace.

I am not claiming that I am, in any way, better than the scientists I have so merrily pulled down. However, I do claim that I want to be better and literary efforts such as those from the Harry Potter Scientific Club strengthen my belief that anyone can understand and convey science lucidly if they wished to.

My advisor strongly believes in the KISS principle -> K.eep I.t S.imple and S.tupid, when it comes to presentations. Some of the clearer explanations that I have read for topics in statistics have come from the "For Dummies" series. Though the words, "Stupid" and "Dummies" may have negative connotations for some, to me they mean that the author or the presenter understands the pain of the student and has made an effort to convey the science in the simplest way possible. In fact, I now believe that if I come away from a talk confused, I can partially attribute it to the fact that the presenter was confused as well.

Clear communication is what makes us all human and I really don't see any reason why science communication should be held at a different standard from daily speech. Some may argue that Science is a complicated field and hence, only insiders need understand it. But that is not the spirit of Science. If you are not able to explain your science in simple words and draw analogies, then perhaps you don't understand it as well as you thought.

Simplifying Science is not a simple task because you are faced with years and years of muddled explanations of other confused authors and teachers before you. In trying to stand on the shoulders of giants, you often find that the particular giant you picked has a fractured humerus and scapula. It is, quite undeniably, a challenge to make it all simple. However, challenges are not new to Science. So its hardly an excuse to not accept this particular one.

Just imagine how many headaches we could prevent if everyone in the scientific and academic communities made at least an effort to stomp their own simple way into science for everyone else to benefit from. Otherwise, there will be a decline in students who choose science as their future and it will not be because of the dullness of the subject but rather, the confusion of the presenter.
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Permalink: Harry_Potter_in_Scientific_Literature.html
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Location: Buffalo, NY


Category: e:strip

08/09/08 06:01 - 58ºF - ID#45285

The Third Larson?

Behold Larson, the hidden.

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Location: Buffalo, NY


Category: e:strip

08/07/08 08:55 - 72ºF - ID#45266

Way to go, e:Jim!!! Congratulations!!!

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Permalink: Way_to_go_e_Jim_Congratulations_.html
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Location: Buffalo, NY


Category: eating in

08/02/08 07:06 - 76ºF - ID#45231

A cup of tea

Doesn't ring the bell of evil now, does it?

Watch and learn.


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Category: the odes

08/01/08 12:37 - 73ºF - ID#45212

"He had a full-sized thumb!"

That is what I thought I heard (e:enknot) utter at lunch today. I am not sure what it was in reference to - perhaps a certain league of homeless perennially living in rollercoasters? I was too far away and too distracted by (e:mike)-stalking to figure out the context or even if it was actually what he had said. But that is not the point of this post.

I had an epiphany ten minutes ago and I think (e:enknot)'s phrase has immense potential and is poised to make it's grand entry into the English idiom universe. In fact, I see it sweeping the global vernacular in the next couple years or so. The endless possibilities of this unique phrase are compelling.

Someone vetoes an excellent proposal just because of their idiocy. You step out of the veto meeting and declare in bitterness, "Some full-sized thumb he has." Touche.

Some impatient creep jumps the queue and gets service out of turn. You exclaim in frustration, "BUT he had a full-sized thumb!" Touche.

Yeah, I can see some of you clickety-clicking away from this journal. Stop fidgeting and settle down, will you? You have a full-sized thumb for goodness sake! Touche.

Some crazy superior comes along and unravels months of your hard work by declaring the project you have been working on, as defunct. You want to grab him by the collar, shake him down and yell - "You full-sized thumb abuser, you!" But you also don't want to lose your job so you end up not doing any of the above. You did, however, use the idiom mentally. So, touche.

You are trying to get your friend to reach a time-bound decision for e.g. which restaurant should you be eating dinner at. You could say, "Tick Tock, put that full-sized thumb to work, will you?"

The government makes another thoughtless decision and goes to war with the rest of the universe. You think in exasperation, "What's new? Their brains obviously didn't grow in proportion to their full-sized thumbs". Touche.

Just a taste of how a well-placed and probably misheard phrase can prove to be a full-sized thumb in the evolution of language.
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Permalink: _quot_He_had_a_full_sized_thumb_quot_.html
Words: 364
Location: Buffalo, NY


Category: carbon neutral

07/29/08 03:11 - 77ºF - ID#45179

The Rocky Plastic Toxic Horror Show

So you went to the grocery store and ticked off the items from the crumpled list you clutched till the ink ran and splotched your fingers. When you came out to your car, for those five little things you bought, you have EIGHT plastic bags.
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Why is the Maths not adding up? Because when the cashier asked if you wanted the milk double-bagged, you unconsciously nodded, and lord forbid that the cereal ends up within a mile of soap or the bread, regardless of the fact that all of them are excessively packaged on their own anyway. So you come home with eight bags or more.
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And you think, oh, I can return them the next time I go to the store, since they accept all plastic bags back, don't they? That may be true but ever wondered if it really gets recycled? Consider these statistics:

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Source:
Yeah, highly unlikely.

What then happens to your plastic bags and your disposable coffee mugs, mug caps, disposable forks, knives, spoons, plates, boxes and all the other plastic that you throw away on a daily basis??

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Some end up in land-fills.
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Some end up in oceans.
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You couldn't care less, right? It's just littering the ocean far away from you.

Well, think again. The plastic bags that you thought were being recycled choke and kill coral reefs by blocking access to their precious sunlight.
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Unsuspecting birds feed on this plastic.
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Some of these could be endangered species...
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Some of these birds become hopelessly entangled with plastic bags making them unable to fly. Imagine living your life in a dirty plastic bag.
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Some suffer worse fates.
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This bird was choked to death by a handle of a plastic bag you gleefully dragged home and threw away.
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Birds and corals are not the only victims. Plastic bags and plastic disposables float about the ocean.
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Many turtles who live up to 120 years die in a mere 10-50 choking on shredded plastic bags.
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This poor turtle was brutally choked to death on the Hawaiian atoll of Midway where all the plastic washed up on beaches.
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They are eaten by sealion pups that die soon after.
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In 2002, this young dead minke whale washed ashore the Isle of Mull:
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Scientists conducting the autopsy were shocked to discover that the cause of death was a whale-load of plastic inside its stomach.
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Land animals are affected as well. Rare species of monkeys have reduced lifespans because of plastic.
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They affect birds of prey, thus disrupting the food-chain.
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The king of the jungle is sadly humbled to death by the plastic bag you threw away.
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For those of you who are gloating over the fact that you take only paper bags home, here's what your paper bag cost the planet:
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Bring your own washable cloth bags.
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Use reusable mugs and cups for your daily coffee!
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And that is not all.
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Wouldn't you say its time to finally spell out a firm NO TO PLASTIC BAGS? How many more deaths and wars do you need? How many more coasts do you need choked? How many species would you like seeing wiped out? Say NO to this hideous and insidious pestilence.
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Put an end to the plastic horror show.
Source of Slides:
Source of Photographs: Banish the bags Campaign, The Daily Mail.


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Permalink: The_Rocky_Plastic_Toxic_Horror_Show.html
Words: 650
Location: Buffalo, NY


Category: e:strip

07/17/08 07:53 - 82ºF - ID#45055

Tree-Planting E:Strip Picnic!!!

(e:Terry) posted about this city of buffalo tree-replanting venture some time back - (e:terry,44861). The city of Buffalo is looking to recover and spring back (quite literally) from the severe losses to its green cover from the awful October storm of '06. For those of you who sighed with sorrow at this terrible picture of destruction and pain:

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Here is YOUR chance to do something positive and give back to the tree population of our city!! The City of Buffalo public works department is planning a community-driven Re-Tree WNY project almost right in your backyards!

From their posting at this site

Would you like to organize a tree planting in your neighborhood?

Step 1: Register your group to access the online system. Please click here:

Step 2: Once registered you will utilize the City of Buffalo's online street tree inventory to locate the specific locations you have chosen for your tree planting. If the site you have chosen is shown to be available on the online database, you can reserve the location and select a preferred species for that site.

Step 3: Once the sites have been reserved for your planting, we will contact you with a final list of your reserved tree planting sites and species.

Step 4: In the fall you will be contacted to participate in a mandatory tree planting training. These trainings are mandatory if you wish to receive your trees to plant.

If you are not part of a group doing a planting and organizing one yourself but would still like to volunteer to plant trees this fall please register here: or contact the Mayor's Call & Resolution Center at 716-851-4890.



Wouldn't you like to be part of team (e:strip)??? Together, we can return the lovely green of the summer and spring to barren lots of our city. Buffalo deserves it. You deserve it! Comment and join Team (e:strip)!!! Unlike little blowhards at some sites we know, we can actually do something practical and make a difference to Buffalo and in our lives.
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Location: Buffalo, NY


Category: eating in

07/15/08 09:24 - 75ºF - ID#45029

Avil Upma - A Dire Consequences Recipe

Recipe-writing is an art-form. The "Dire-Consequences" recipe elevates this art-form to its most evil pinnacle of glory. Reading a well-written "dire-consequences" recipe is a hair raising experience. Readers are taken on a roller-coaster journey of things that can go potentially wrong in the kitchen and are encouraged to take the sundry escape routes available. As if this were not enough, just as the reader is ready to quit and throw in the kitchen towel, it is subtly impressed upon the reader that only wimps take the escape route, and it does not behoove any adventurous kitchen-farer to start the recipe, and not finish.

The dire-consequences recipe is a very subtle samurai art of psychodeviant and subconscious kitchen torture. I am not claiming to be any kind of expert at this art. NO! Don't heave that sigh of relief yet because complacency is never the name of any game and I self appoint myself a dire consequences recipe-writer-wannabe. :)

So, all this bright, crisp, summer sunshine-soaked green outdoors inspired me to bring in that very same green into my early dinner, today. I made Avil Upma, but since none of you really know what that is, you could call it anything you like. It's traditionally a very light breakfast or "tiffin" or served at tea time in South India.

A sharp knife does short work of all this chopping about to follow, but if you have blunt knives, then your wrists might get tired easily. A demotivated cook is not really a good cook. Blunt knives are also known to bring on severe depression on many chefs and make them consider slitting their wrists. Considering all these ill-effects on wrists, in general, you might want to start with a well-sharpened knife.
1. Chop
- Green Beans
- Carrots
- Bell Peppers
- Green Chillies
- Ginger
- Karuvepelai (or "Curry" Leaves)
I think the Karuvepelai is the heart and soul of this dish. I cannot guarantee that your Avil Upma would be even half as good if you omit this leaf from culinary heaven. Considering all Indian stores stock this leaf, you really have no excuse, unless of course, you like eating junk.

2. Take some peanut oil in a pan, turn on the stove and add a pinch of
- Black Mustard Seeds
- White Lentils (Urad ki Dal)
- Split yellow lentils (Channe ki Dal)
- Dried Red Chillies (pieces)
- Cumin
Wait for the mustard seeds to sputter. Keep stirring. Don't let this seasoning char!! If you do char this, refrigerate the chopped veggies and throw the charred stuff away. You might need to consider going out to eat at this point because your kitchen might be filled with acrid charcoal-ridden smoke and might be a health hazard. What a waste of time, just because you didn't remember to stir for a couple minutes. Tsk Tsk.

3. Once the mustard just starts sputtering, add
- the chopped ginger, green chillies and Karuvepelai.
- Stir for around 20 seconds and then add
- a pinch of asafoetida (Hing in Hindi, Perungayam in Tamil)
- Green Beans
- Bell Peppers
- Salt
- Turmeric Powder
Stir some more. Sprinkle water over it and wait for the beans to get to a BRIGHT green colour. If the Beans turn yellowish green, you have let them cook too long!
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4. Toss in the carrots. Stir a couple more minutes. I think its a different experience altogether to leave the vegetables crunchy and crispy. But I also know of people who like to punch and murder their veggies till they are smushed and have lost their form altogether. You need to pick sides NOW. Tick Tock.
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4. You need thick/thin rice flakes for this step (Avil in Tamil, Poha in Hindi). You need to have sprinkled a generous amount of water on the rice flakes and set them aside to soften, earlier. If you didn't do it, it's too late now. You better turn off the stove and eat the veggies. If, on the other hand, you did sprinkle the rice flakes with water and have them moistened and soft - add them to the veggie mix now.

5. Stir for a couple minutes till everything reaches a nice high temperature. Add a little water, if necessary, to make it softer.

6. Turn off the stove. Squeeze half a lemon over the upma. Serve on a plate and garnish with chopped fresh coriander leaves.
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7. A wonderful accompaniment to this light fluffy meal is a bunch of cherries washed in cold water.
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8. And no summer meal is complete without some awesome Mango Tea with a touch of foamy milk. :)
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joe said to mike
New years resolution to top (e:strip)?...

twisted said to twisted
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Well really I did not bury the hatched in my mind I guess because now 5 years later, I just saw him ...