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Tuesday, May 30, 2006

New Posion Ivy Risks...

It was reported today in this weeks Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that posion ivy will be getting "meaner" as the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere increases over the next forty or fifty years. Why is this? Apparently because when you provide the plant more nutrients (such as CO2) it grows larger. (Of course, this will be caused by global warming. Of course, the "amount" of CO2 added is based on "estimated" increases in CO2 related to man descruction of the environment. Hmmm... Seems like we're doing poison ivy a favor.)

The lead author of the study, one Jacqueline E. Mohan, a post-doctoral scientist at the Ecosystems Center, Marine Biological Laboratory, at Woods Hole, Mass. said "It makes the forest an even scarier place, but not just forest -- backyards too. Poison ivy is a remarkable plant. It can grow just about anywhere." (Hmmm, just like weeds...)

(Just in case you were interested, the oil (urushiol - from the Japanese word "urushi" for lacquer) produced by the various related poison plants such as poison ivy and sumac is composed of a saturated and unsaturated component. The saturated component causing more irritation than the unsaturated component. Apparently the larger plant produces more of the staturated component than today's varieties.)

I bet the Poison Ivy pictured above would also get larger (and perhaps meaner as well) if her nutrition were significantly increased over the same six year study.

I recall solving problems similar to this in third grade as part of my "politically incorrect" education.

Question: Given more food a plant will (1) grow larger, (2) stay the same, or (3) not grow as large.

Answer: (1)

I distinctly recall the sarcasim of the nuns when students would not correctly answer questions such as this.

More troubling, however, is that this passes for science in today's world. (And Google found 245 related articles - all which more or less reprint the basic press release.)

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Thoughts on

I first found myspace through a Wired magazine article last October. is a personal networking site with a strong music orientation.

Since I'm interested in music I figured that creating a profile for my music as a "band" would be interesting. I set myself up as "Just Got Lucky" at in November of 2005.

Below are some thoughts on myspace...

What is

Basically, myspace gives you a web page which anyone can see. You can do a variety of things to customize it (create a personalized layout, add decorations, upload or link to images, text, audio and movies, blog, etc.). You can also block parts of your page so only "friends" you invite (see below) can see the blocked parts.

The interpersonal networking element of myspace is focused on "friends". You invite people or bands to be your friend. If they accept, then they appear in your friend list (which you can edit and manage) and which other people can see. You can also belong to groups. You can search for bands and friends through a variety of means including looking through other people's (or band's) "friends" lists or search by name or geographic location. Most of this works through manipulation of little thumbnails with one line captions that represent the band or friend.

Friends can also leave comments on your page - which can include images and other random HTML (including links, animated GIFs, movies, etc.)

Bands and individuals people are differentiated by the web page only - this means that until you follow the "friends" link you cannot tell if its a person or a band. Band web pages tend to have a "standalone player" which is a fancy html music player that lets you hear whatever tracks the band has put up on their page for you to listen to. Bands also have less "personal" information about the band (generally only a "profile"). Personal pages tend to have a lot of personal data such as body type, religion, sexual preference, and so forth.

The main idea (I guess) of myspace is to build up a network of "friends" that relate to your and your personal interests.

The interesting part of all this is that the thumbnail and one-line description often hide who is really behind it.

Using myspace...

For me personally there were are surprising number of people and bands in myspace that I already knew or had some relationship with - even though I am a relative "old geezer" at fourty eight in myspace (which tends to be focused on the twenty-something demographic).

As an example - I like playing blues live so I am always interested in finding new local blues bands, open mics and songs to listen too. Easy enough - log into myspace and using a search or my own network of blues-related "friends" begin chasing "friends" links to new music. How you pick a "friends" link is where the fun begins. Below is an example of some of my "friends".

For the most part these are bands. Some are individuals. I generally communicate (email or IM) at least a little bit with any individuals I add that I don't personally know. This is easy enough a child could do it...

If you follow links from "Just Got Lucky" you will eventually find something that looks like this:

Why is this interesting...

Looking at these links things are less clear. "ryan aka..." does something called "raveling", "font" is some married guy into computers and games, "Fuck Holl..." is a band, "d'etolie" is a young woman, and "JAEWONG.COM" takes you some guy with four thousand friends - many of whom you might not want you child to be on a first name basis with (or asking you if their lifestyle choice is a good one or whatever).

(Now don't get me wrong - I am not complaining *in any way* that any of this is objectionable - it certainly seems like protected free speech to me - just like this blog.)

The problem here is that stupid parents think that somehow letting hormone-engorged little Johnny or little Suzie surf away unsupervised isn't going to cause some sort of problem. And the more I look at it the more I think that dear old mom or dear old dad (since most kids only have one or the other these days) have f*cked up little Johnny and Suzie completely beforehand.

Some examples: One woman (a married disc jocky in her forties) told of how fourteen year old boys!?! were emailing video clips of themselves "relieving themselves" of their sexual tension. Another woman described how a fourteen year old girl emailed her telling her how hot a "MILF" she was and wanting to have sex with her. And certainly there are examples where the myspacer is encouraging this behavior. But for the most part the "myspacer's", my self included, seem to be intolerant of dealing with things that are not what they are there for in the first place.

What does this all mean...

Well, myspace is linking to cell phones - presumably with web cams - so now little Johnny can solicite forty something women in real time. And, no doubt, the FBI has plenty of "fake" fourteen year old girls looking for sex with forty something men - no doubt again right from the comfort of the city bus seat via their Treo's.

Who know what this all means - not me. I enjoy myspace for what I use it for - music. Fortunately no one is bothering me for anything else. Beyond that who knows...

Certainly myspace didn't f*ck up little Johny and Suzie - so don't blame them.