Saturday, February 17, 2018

Taboo comedy topics

I made this list the other day, seems like there are several topics that comedians all attempt to address - retard and midget jokes come to mind immediately and social topics like race and sexual preference. Not a lot of people tackling transgender, but that's the real challenge I think, not just to shock but to actually make the issues approachable for at least the sake of free speech if there's a legitimate point.

Comedy is used for addressing dark subjects, and humor can be the result of building tension and making people uncomfortable, but also the idea of saying lucid and outside of the subject which may help create a more objective point of view or put the dark subject into perspective or context.

Example 1: The Aristocrats joke told by Gilbert Godfrey after 9/11 - had nothing to do with 9/11, but the raw nature of his very graphic and sordid joke served to break the tension and enormous gravity of the tragic event - pure escapism.

Example 2: Comedy Central Roasts - the whole point being to say things that might be hurtful if it weren't for understanding the point is to roast. I thought it was interesting to hear that those being roasted already pre-approve the topics or jokes ahead of time - Charlie Sheen said no jokes about his mother.

who has license - why white or heterosexuals cannot make jokes about other minority groups or women

The woking list of taboo topics:

all vulnerabilities: tragedies
personal insecurities and public humiliation - any vice, failure, physical appearance
low brow - midgets, retards, sex, bathroom humor, body parts
tragic events like 9/11, the holocaust, slavery, mass shootings, suicide, murder, abortion
abuse, animal abuse, molestation, rape
male taboos - being closeted or unmasculine
female taboos - being slutty or unfeminine
Sexual acts condemned by society, religion, or considered perversion: 
homosexuality, incest, beastiality, sodomy, pornography
racism, homophobia, xenophobia, misogyny
irreverence towards religion or religious figures
irreverence towards political groups or officials
old people
illness and death
mental illness
being ugly
violence, threats
drunk driving
seven deadly sins: vices: jim gaffigan - gluttony - brian regan - feeling stupid, shame, rage
louis ck - being a pervert, hating children, gluttony, shame
Use of sarcasm

Monday, February 12, 2018

Pressed wood stronger than steel

Crushed wood is stronger than steel

Compressing the material and removing some of its polymers can increase its strength tenfold.
Mark Zastrow

A chemical bath and a hot-press can transform wood into a material that is stronger than steel, researchers report. The process, and others like it, could make the humble material an eco-friendly alternative to using plastics and metals in the manufacture of cars and buildings.
“It’s a new class of materials with great potential,” says Li Teng, a mechanics specialist at the University of Maryland in College Park and a co-author of the study published on 7 February in Nature1.
Attempts to strengthen wood go back decades. Some efforts have focused on synthesizing new materials by extracting the nanofibres in cellulose — the hard natural polymer in the tubular cells that funnel water through plant tissue.
Li’s team took a different approach: the researchers focused on modifying the porous structure of natural wood. First, they boiled different wood types, including oak, in a solution of sodium hydroxide and sodium sulfite for seven hours. That treatment left the starchy cellulose mostly intact, but created more hollow space in the wood structure by removing some of the surrounding compounds. These included lignin, a polymer that binds the cellulose.
Then the team pressed the block — like a panini sandwich — at 100 ÂșC for a day. The result: a wooden plank one-fifth the thickness, but three times the density of natural wood — and 11.5 times stronger. Previous attempts to densify wood have improved the strength by a factor of about three to four2.
Scanning electron microscopy showed that the latest process crushes the cellulose tubes together until they crumple and interlock. “You have all these nanofibres aligned in the growth direction,” says Hu Liangbing, a materials scientist at the University of Maryland at College Park who was part of the team.
To test the toughness of the material, the team fired pellets at it from a ballistic air gun normally used to test the impact resistance of military vehicles. Five layers of the material laminated together — just 3 millimetres thick in total — was able to halt a 46-gram steel projectile travelling at roughly 30 metres per second.
That’s much slower than the several hundred metres per second at which a bullet travels, says Hu, but it is comparable to the speed at which a car might be moving before a collision, making the material possibly suitable for use in vehicles.

A question of strength
Some researchers say they are underwhelmed by the group’s improvements over previous densification methods. Fred Kamke at Oregon State University in Corvallis says that even without removing lignin, other techniques — such as applying higher temperatures, steaming the wood before treatment, and treating it with resins — can achieve most of the reported increase in performance. “These other methods are probably much less expensive than a 7-hour boil in a caustic solution,” he says. In his own tests, 24 layers of densified wood untreated by chemicals was able to halt a 9-millimetre bullet from a handgun.
Michaela Eder, a plant biomechanics researcher at the Max Planck Institute of Colloids and Interfaces in Potsdam, Germany, notes that compressing the wood to increase its density should naturally improve its strength — but it was unclear how much the entanglement of the nanofibres contributed. Hu and Li say their team’s simulations suggest that the increase in strength is consistent with the effects of hydrogen bonds forming when the nanofibres tangle. Further evidence, they say, is in previous work4 in which they extracted wooden nanofibres to make paper 40 times stronger and 130 times tougher, but with only a modest increase in density. This suggested the cellulose fibres were bonding to achieve the superior strength, they say.
The latest study also follows work3 published in January in which researchers removed all of the lignin and compressed the material at room temperature — resulting in a threefold increase in strength.
Hu says that his study’s main finding is that removing the right amount of lignin is key to maximizing performance. In his team’s experiments, removing too much of the polymer resulted in less-dense, brittle wood, suggesting that some leftover lignin is helpful in binding the cellulose fibres when they are hot-pressed. The wood was strongest when roughly 45% of the lignin was removed.
“I see a lot of potential in this direction,” says Eder, referring to both papers. “What I like is that they’re trying to make use of the inherent properties of the wood itself. It’s a fantastic material to work on and improve.”

Monday, February 5, 2018

Thursday, February 1, 2018

cancer vaccine

Cancer 'vaccine' eliminates tumors in mice, researchers find

January 31, 2018, Stanford University Medical Center
Cancer 'vaccine' eliminates tumors in mice, Stanford researchers find
Scientists devised a pinpointed immunotherapy regimen that eradicated tumors throughout the body in mice. Credit: Sagiv-Barfi et al., Science Translational Medicine (2018)
Injecting minute amounts of two immune-stimulating agents directly into solid tumors in mice can eliminate all traces of cancer in the animals, including distant, untreated metastases, according to a study by researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine.
The approach works for many different types of cancers, including those that arise spontaneously, the study found.
The researchers believe the local application of very small amounts of the agents could serve as a rapid and relatively inexpensive  therapy that is unlikely to cause the adverse side effects often seen with bodywide immune stimulation.
"When we use these two agents together, we see the elimination of tumors all over the body," said Ronald Levy, MD, professor of oncology. "This approach bypasses the need to identify tumor-specific immune targets and doesn't require wholesale activation of the immune system or customization of a patient's immune ."
One agent is currently already approved for use in humans; the other has been tested for human use in several unrelated clinical trials. A clinical trial was launched in January to test the effect of the treatment in patients with lymphoma.
Levy, who holds the Robert K. and Helen K. Summy Professorship in the School of Medicine, is the senior author of the study, which will be published Jan. 31 in Science Translational Medicine. Instructor of medicine Idit Sagiv-Barfi, PhD, is the lead author.
'Amazing, bodywide effects'
Levy is a pioneer in the field of cancer immunotherapy, in which researchers try to harness the immune system to combat cancer. Research in his laboratory led to the development of rituximab, one of the first monoclonal antibodies approved for use as an anticancer treatment in humans.
Some immunotherapy approaches rely on stimulating the immune system throughout the body. Others target naturally occurring checkpoints that limit the anti-cancer activity of immune cells. Still others, like the CAR T-cell therapy recently approved to treat some types of leukemia and lymphomas, require a patient's immune cells to be removed from the body and genetically engineered to attack the . Many of these approaches have been successful, but they each have downsides—from difficult-to-handle side effects to high-cost and lengthy preparation or treatment times.
"All of these immunotherapy advances are changing medical practice," Levy said. "Our approach uses a one-time application of very small amounts of two agents to stimulate the immune cells only within the tumor itself. In the mice, we saw amazing, bodywide effects, including the elimination of tumors all over the animal."Cancers often exist in a strange kind of limbo with regard to the immune system. Immune cells like T cells recognize the abnormal proteins often present on  and infiltrate to attack the tumor. However, as the tumor grows, it often devises ways to suppress the activity of the T cells.
Levy's method works to reactivate the cancer-specific T cells by injecting microgram amounts of two agents directly into the tumor site. (A microgram is one-millionth of a gram). One, a short stretch of DNA called a CpG oligonucleotide, works with other nearby  to amplify the expression of an activating receptor called OX40 on the surface of the T cells. The other, an antibody that binds to OX40, activates the T cells to lead the charge against the cancer cells. Because the two agents are injected directly into the tumor, only T cells that have infiltrated it are activated. In effect, these T cells are "prescreened" by the body to recognize only cancer-specific proteins.
Cancer-destroying rangers
Some of these tumor-specific, activated T cells then leave the original tumor to find and destroy other identical tumors throughout the body.
The approach worked startlingly well in laboratory mice with transplanted mouse lymphoma tumors in two sites on their bodies. Injecting one tumor site with the two agents caused the regression not just of the treated tumor, but also of the second, untreated tumor. In this way, 87 of 90 mice were cured of the cancer. Although the cancer recurred in three of the mice, the tumors again regressed after a second treatment. The researchers saw similar results in mice bearing breast, colon and melanoma tumors.
Mice genetically engineered to spontaneously develop breast cancers in all 10 of their mammary pads also responded to the treatment. Treating the first tumor that arose often prevented the occurrence of future tumors and significantly increased the animals' life span, the researchers found.
Finally, Sagiv-Barfi explored the specificity of the T cells by transplanting two types of tumors into the mice. She transplanted the same lymphoma cancer cells in two locations, and she transplanted a colon cancer cell line in a third location. Treatment of one of the lymphoma sites caused the regression of both lymphoma tumors but did not affect the growth of the .
"This is a very targeted approach," Levy said. "Only the tumor that shares the protein targets displayed by the treated site is affected. We're attacking specific targets without having to identify exactly what proteins the T cells are recognizing."
The current clinical trial is expected to recruit about 15 patients with low-grade lymphoma. If successful, Levy believes the treatment could be useful for many tumor types. He envisions a future in which clinicians inject the two agents into  in humans prior to surgical removal of the cancer as a way to prevent recurrence due to unidentified metastases or lingering cancer cells, or even to head off the development of future tumors that arise due to genetic mutations like BRCA1 and 2.
"I don't think there's a limit to the type of  we could potentially treat, as long as it has been infiltrated by the immune system," Levy said.
The work is an example of Stanford Medicine's focus on precision health, the goal of which is to anticipate and prevent disease in the healthy and precisely diagnose and treat disease in the ill.
More information: I. Sagiv-Barfi el al., "Eradication of spontaneous malignancy by local immunotherapy," Science Translational Medicine (2018). … scitranslmed.aan4488 

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Pop Music Becoming Louder, Simpler and More Repetitive

from BBC has posted a very interesting article that investigates whether people claiming all over the internet that "pop music just isn't what it used to be" are simply growing old, or if there actually is objective science capable of backing up this claim of a "steady decline in music quality." The findings from five different studies are quoted; the findings from the fourth study is especially striking: 

1. Pop music has become slower -- in tempo -- in recent years and also "sadder" and less "fun" to listen to. 
2. Pop music has become melodically less complex, using fewer chord changes, and pop recordings are mastered to sound consistently louder (and therefore less dynamic) at a rate of around one decibel every eight years. 
3. There has been a significant increase in the use of the first-person word "I" in pop song lyrics, and a decline in words that emphasize society or community. Lyrics also contain more words that can be associated with anger or anti-social sentiments. 
4. 42% of people polled on which decade has produced the worst pop music since the 1970s voted for the 2010s. These people were not from a particular aging demographic at all -- all age groups polled, including 18-29 year olds, appear to feel unanimously that the 2010s are when pop music became worst. This may explain a rising trend of young millennials, for example, digging around for now 15-30 year-old music on YouTube frequently. It's not just the older people who listen to the 1980s and 1990s on YouTube and other streaming services it seems -- much younger people do it too. 
5. A researcher put 15,000 Billboard Hot 100 song lyrics through the well-known Lev-Zimpel-Vogt (LZV1) data compression algorithm, which is good at finding repetitions in data. He found that songs have steadily become more repetitive over the years, and that song lyrics from today compress 22% better on average than less repetitive song lyrics from the 1960s. The most repetitive year in song lyrics was 2014 in this study. 

Conclusion: There is some scientific evidence backing the widely voiced complaint -- on the internet in particular -- that pop music is getting worse and worse in the 2000s and the 2010s. The music is slower, melodically simpler, louder, more repetitive, more "I" (first-person) focused, and more angry with anti-social sentiments. The 2010s got by far the most music quality down votes with 42% from people polled on which decade has produced the worst music since the 1970s.

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Seattle tech sex trafficking

My thoughts about this - I associate the following and wonder how it all correlates:Seattle is known for having a shortage of women due to the male-dominated tech industry.- many in Seattle are Asian men who are there on work visas- the cost of living is high due to relocation of wealthy Silicon Valley tech from California - Seattle is on the coast facing Asia, and also on the Canadian border where a lot of Chinese come across illegally, same problem in California- Microsoft put offices in Canada to get around visa issues in the U.S.- Seattle has a $15/hr. min. wage and a high rate of homelessness - Marijuana is legal in Seattle - is there a relationship with vice industry- Military towns have the same scenario - you have to wonder who is bringing in the women - could it be the tech companies themselves, or in conjunction with those who source the foreign workers?- What is the relationship with neighboring states and industries, certainly Nevada, and running down the coast through Oregon and California - narcotrafficking, running into Mexico.- I expect 'nonchalant attitudes' from programmer/techies - introverts - but more so from men of Asian origin. If defense lawyers are suggesting tech companies should be responsible for educating employees about prostitution, the implication brings to mind the potential for expanding an absurd and invasive domain of corporate responsibility. What is already illegal and should be a fundamental precept of ethics should not require companies to reiterate. The notion is reminiscent of Germany distributing sex education pamphlets as an attempt to gentrify those from the middle east who are rampantly committing sex crimes and violence.- Ironic to consider how big tech companies are pushing for open borders and pro-immigration, certainly for their bottom line, yet they do so in the name of human rights and under the banner of opposing xenophobia and racism - see
from the article excerpts posted on's National Politics Correspondent reports on "a horny nest of prostitution 'hobbyists' at tech giants Microsoft, Amazon and other firms in Seattle," citing "hundreds" of emails "fired off by employees at major tech companies hoping to hook up with trafficked Asian women" between 2014 and 2016, "67 sent from Microsoft, 63 sent from Amazon email accounts and dozens more sent from some of Seattle's premier tech companies and others based elsewhere but with offices in Seattle, including T-Mobile and Oracle, as well as many local, smaller tech firms." Many of the emails came from a sting operation against online prostitution review boards, and were obtained through a public records request to the King County Prosecutor's Office.

"They were on their work accounts because Seattle pimps routinely asked first-time sex-buyers to prove they were not cops by sending an employee email or badge," reports Newsweek, criticizing "the widespread and often nonchalant attitude toward buying sex from trafficked women, a process made shockingly more efficient by internet technology... A study commissioned by the Department of Justice found that Seattle has the fastest-growing sex industry in the United States, more than doubling in size between 2005 and 2012. That boom correlates neatly with the boom of the tech sector there... Some of these men spent $30,000 to $50,000 a year, according to authorities." A lawyer for some of the men argues that Seattle's tech giants aren't conducting any training to increase employees' compassion for trafficked women in brothels. The director of research for a national anti-trafficking group cites the time Uber analyzed ride-sharing data and reported a correlation between high-crime neighborhoods and frequent Uber trips -- including people paying for prostitutes. "They made a map using their ride-share data, like it was a funny thing they could do with their data. It was done so flippantly."