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Showing posts from May, 2008

Robot conducts Detroit orchestra

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A symphony orchestra was handed over to a robot for the first time this week when Honda's "Asimo" robot conducted the Detroit Symphony Orchestra in a performance of "The Impossible Dream" prior to a Yo-Yo Ma concert on Tuesday.
"'It's exciting to see. The technology is mind boggling,' said bass trombone player Randall Hawes, who has played with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra for 22 years. "I was struck by how fluid the walk was when it came out and how still it was."
But Hawes doesn't think the diminutive white robot will replace human conductors any time soon.
"We react to it. It doesn't react to us," he said. "That's the only thing that's missing. We knew when it was going to stop so we stopped."
The symphony extended the invitation to ASIMO earlier this year after Honda donated one million dollars to establish The Power of Dreams Music Education Fund, which will support music education to underserved…

Woman's dead body lies in flat for 35 years

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Zagreb, Croatia -- Governments have changed. War erupted and ended. Neighbors had children, and then grandchildren. But Hedviga Golik never left her tiny apartment in Croatia's capital -- until her mummified body was carried out this week, 35 years after she died.

Police said Friday that no one ever reported Golik missing and no one has come to claim her body.

Residents of her loft building in downtown Zagreb had broken into Golik's flat after deciding that the apartment should belong to them, and not to her. Startled by the remains in bed, they called police.

Forensics experts said Golik likely died in 1973, about the time a neighbor last saw her. Expert Davor Strinovic said she seemed to have died of natural causes, but "it's almost impossible to say for certain" after so much time.

Some of Golik's neighbors claimed she had talked about going abroad.

Experts said her windows had been open, likely diminishing the smell. It remained unclear who -- if anyone -- was…

Stevie Nicks' "Gold Dust Woman" Live

Quoteables

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"Reason is the natural order of truth; but imagination is the organ of meaning." - C.S. Lewis

The Funnies

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Olympic Dream Stays Alive, on Synthetic Legs

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When an international court ruled Friday that a double-amputee sprinter from South Africa was eligible to compete in this summer’s Olympic Games in Beijing, the stage was set for disabled athletes to meet their own trailblazer.
The watershed ruling made the runner, Oscar Pistorius, the first amputee to successfully challenge the notion that his carbon-fiber prosthetics gave him an unfair advantage and assured his right to race against able-bodied athletes in the Olympics, should he qualify. Previously barred from competing in such races by track and field’s world governing body, Pistorius will continue to stoke the debate over the competitive issues created by evolving technology in sports.
The ruling’s direct impact on disabled athletes could be limited, in part because Pistorius, 21, still must post a time fast enough to qualify for the Games. Yet his victory Friday in the Court of Arbitration for Sport sent a message that could long resonate among Paralympians.
“I am extremely shocked…

Pick Me Up of the Day

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Major Model Doug Porter

California ban on same-sex marriage struck down

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Pictured: Gay couple John Lewis, left, and Stuart Gaffney celebrate outside the California Supreme Court on Thursday.

The California Supreme Court struck down the state's ban on same-sex marriage Thursday, saying sexual orientation, like race or gender, "does not constitute a legitimate basis upon which to deny or withhold legal rights."
In a 4-3 120-page ruling issue, the justices wrote that "responsibly to care for and raise children does not depend upon the individual's sexual orientation."
"We therefore conclude that in view of the substance and significance of the fundamental constitutional right to form a family relationship, the California Constitution properly must be interpreted to guarantee this basic civil right to all Californians, whether gay or heterosexual, and to same-sex couples as well as to opposite-sex couples," Chief Justice Ronald George wrote for the majority.
The ruling takes effect in 30 days.
Several gay and lesbian couples, a…

Clean-air rules for national parks may be eased

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The Bush administration is on the verge of implementing new air quality rules that will make it easier to build power plants near national parks and wilderness areas, according to rank-and-file agency scientists and park managers who oppose the plan.
The new regulations, which are likely to be finalized this summer, rewrite a provision of the Clean Air Act that applies to "Class 1 areas," federal lands that currently have the highest level of protection under the law. Opponents predict the changes will worsen visibility at many of the nation's most prized tourist destinations, including Virginia's Shenandoah, Colorado's Mesa Verde and North Dakota's Theodore Roosevelt national parks.
Nearly a year ago, with little fanfare, the Environmental Protection Agency proposed changing the way the government measures air pollution near Class 1 areas on the grounds that the nation needed a more uniform way of regulating emissions near protected areas. The agency closed th…

Edwards to endorse Obama

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Former Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards will endorse Sen. Barack Obama on Wednesday at a campaign event in Grand Rapids, Michigan, according to Obama's campaign.

He told NBC last week that Obama, the Democratic front-runner, is the party's likely nominee. Both Obama and the his rival, Sen. Hillary Clinton, had sought Edwards' blessing.
Clinton campaign Chairman Terry McAuliffe said Wednesday that "we respect John Edwards, but as the voters of West Virginia showed last night, this thing is far from over."
(Via CNN)

The (Not-So-Funny) Funnies

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Pick Me Up of the Day

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Polar Bear Is Made a Protected Species

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The polar bear, whose Arctic hunting grounds have been greatly reduced by a warming climate, will be placed under the protection of the Endangered Species Act, Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne announced today.

But the long-delayed decision to list the bear as a threatened species may prove less of an impediment to industries along the Alaskan coast than many environmentalists had hoped.
While further protecting the polar bear from direct or immediate threats — like hunting — the Interior Department added stipulations, seldom invoked under the act, that will make it relatively easy for oil and gas exploration and development activities to proceed.
The decision builds on scientific evidence about the retreat of sea ice, which the bears use as a platform to hunt seals and as a pathway to the Arctic coasts where they den. But it does not directly link the threat to the bears to the build-up of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

Mr. Kempthorne said the Endangered Species Act was “never mea…

Donna Summer's "Last Dance"

The Funnies

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Troubled Amy Winehouse 'not ready' for Bond theme

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Producer Mark Ronson says he and Amy Winehouse have abandoned recording the theme to the latest James Bond film because the singer is not ready to work.
Ronson says the singer is "not ready to record any music." He produced much of Winehouse's Grammy-winning "Back to Black." He made the comments in an interview with Sky News on Friday.
Ronson says the two started work on the track for the upcoming Bond movie "Quantum of Solace" but it would take "some miracle of science" to finish it.
Winehouse's troubles with drugs, the police and her rocky romance with her jailed husband Blake Fielder-Civil have kept the singer in the spotlight.
Police gave her a formal warning last week after she scuffled with two men during a raucous night out.
(Via CNN)

Secret postcards

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(Via PostSecret)

Weekend box office

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Weekend Top Five
#1 Iron Man ($102M)
#2 Made of Honor ($14.8M)
#3 Baby Mama ($10.1M)
#4 Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay ($6.11M)
#5 Forgetting Sarah Marshall ($6.06M)

Pick Me Up of the Day

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David Gandi as featured on We Love Guys.

Sarah Vaughan's "I Can't Give You Anything But Love"

Shirley Bassey's "I Who Have Nothing"