Archive for August 5th, 2011
LAND O’ LAKES, Fla. – A Pasco County school bus driver is out of a job for using her cell phone while driving students.
School board members decided Monday night to uphold the superintendent’s recommendation to fire Lori Conley.
Conley has been reprimanded five times during the six years she has driven Pasco County school bus 07-269. She was suspended in December and warned if she picked up her cell phone again, she could lose her job.
Conley admits to those offenses, but says the latest complaints that got her fired are bogus.
“From that suspension on, I didn’t do what I was accused of doing, by no means at all,” she said. “I’m feeling very empty right now and very heartbroken.”
Ian Anderson, Jethro Tull
Shea Stadium, New York, 1976
I stood with the rest of the band at the top of the ramp leading down to the field of Shea Stadium. As with the Beatles’ Shea show 10 years earlier, this was not to be an artistic success, to say the least. Commercial jets on final approach to the adjacent La Guardia airport drowned out the sound, when it wasn’t being drowned out by the firecrackers, whistles, hoots and hollers of the crowd. In those final moments before walking out on to the field, I was suddenly drenched with warm, sticky liquid from high above, where some of the rowdy, 50,000-strong audience looked down on to the players’ access ramp. Only as I began the inaudible first verse of Thick as a Brick on acoustic guitar, did I realise with resigned horror that the liquid I assumed to be beer, was not, in fact, beer at all. It was urine. The unmistakable pong wafting from my then-ample head of damp hair and freshly laundered stage-clothing would remain for the duration of the show. An unholy baptism from above.
With a keen understanding of the old “eyes are the window to the soul” truism, Steven Spielberg equipped E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial with a look similar to Albert Einstein’s deep-set visage. In a pair of remarkable new movies in theaters now, charismatic simians — the aliens among us — bridge the species gap with their soulful gazes.
Both Rise of the Planet of the Apes and Project Nim remind us there’s plenty of nonhuman intelligent life in the universe. Just check the cages at a university research lab. Both films raise intriguing questions about the scientific imperative: Does medical progress require inhumane treatment of sentient beings with DNA quite similar to ours? If primates could talk, what would they say? At what point does a chimp’s charm wear thin and turn savage?
Rise of the Planet of the Apes, which opens Friday, follows San Francisco scientist Will (played by James Franco) as he seeks a cure for Alzheimer’s disease, which is slowly killing his father (John Lithgow). Lab experiments unexpectedly produce a super-bright baby chimp named Caesar, who moves in with Will and his family.
Elaborate symbols and ornate depictions of animals carved in stone by an ancient Scottish people have given up their secret – to mathematics. Statistical analysis reveals that the shapes are a forgotten written language. The method could help interpret many other enigmatic scripts – and even analyse animal communication.
Conventional statistical methods for analysing scripts calculate the entropy or “orderedness” of the symbols: Shakespeare’s prose would have a higher entropy than Egyptian hieroglyphs or Morse code, for example. However, such analysis only works for datasets large enough to capture most of the vocabulary in a language.
To overcome this problem, Rob Lee of the University of Exeter, UK, and colleagues have devised a way to compare small undeciphered scripts with known texts. The team compared symbols created by the Picts – a Scottish Iron Age society that flourished from the fourth to the ninth centuries AD – with over 400 known ancient and modern language texts.