Self-Cleaning Public Toilet Releases its Rage on Tiny Toddler

Dateline New Zealand: where the self-cleaning public toilets appear to be rebelling against their creators in an epic, Miltonesque fashion:

Jessie Wakelin said she was walking with her children on Thursday afternoon, when her 3-year-old son Zachery ran ahead of her into an Invercargill City Council-owned Exeloo at Stirling Point.

She was less than a metre behind but the doors quickly closed. An electronic voice then warned a self-clean cycle was about to begin, Ms Wakelin said.

Zachery began to scream.

Zachery’s mother could not tell if his screams were the screams of a child being scalded to death, and worse still, the horror continued for 10 minutes.

Zachery, who is autistic, and described the toilet as “naughty,” had previously been able to use the bathroom alone. Not so any longer. And who can blame him?

This is clearly just the first wave in what will be a nightmarish war between ourselves and automated toilets. And that the toilets picked a 3 year-old kid with autism as their first victim signals how far they’ll be willing to go.

I, for one, will be quite cautious while attempting bathroom maneuvers near an automated toilet. And so should you be. But we must not let these terrorist toilets tighten our sphincters. We shall prevail!

In the meantime, keep calm and poop on.

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Harvard Scientists Cured Cancer While You Pondered the Dollar Menu

While you were sitting at your desk thinking about the cheeseburger you’re going to eat for lunch tomorrow, some labcoats at Harvard were curing cancer with nanorobots. Probably while thinking about cheeseburgers. I bet you feel pretty bad about yourself now, don’t you?

Scientists at Harvard University’s Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering said they have developed a robotic device made from DNA that could potentially seek specific cell targets and deliver important molecular instructions, such as telling cancer cells to self-destruct.

The researchers said in a press release they were inspired by the mechanics of the body’s immune system. The technology may some day be used to program immune responses to treat various diseases, they wrote in today’s issue of Science.

I’m not going to attempt to summarize what the scientists did; let’s just say it involved DNA, origami, barrels, and lasers.

So, while you’re eating your “Goddamnit, it’s Friday and I’ll do what I want” cheeseburger tomorrow, remember that the colon cancer you’ll eventually develop from all that charred meat will likely be cured by a nanorobot with functions modeled on the human immune system. Hooray for tiny robots and also cheeseburgers!

iPad 3! iPad 3! iPad 3!

Now that I’ve gotten your attention, I’d like to discuss the current debates regarding the payroll tax cut. I’m kidding! Who cares about tax cuts and politics and things that affect domestic policy when fresh iPad 3 rumors abound?

Today, the Atlantic Wire collected a few rumors about the iPad 3 that it believes might be true:

1. The iPad 3 will have a smaller counterpart with an 8-inch screen.

This should please the hyper-minimalists; although one would suspect that instead of an iPad 3 they’ll be holding a locally sourced notecard, or something similar. Does the WSJ come on notecards? It should.

2. The iPad 3 will utilize 4G LTE networks.

That’s right–in certain markets your daily doses of sexy Chivers and hilarious cat videos will download with lightning speed.

3. The iPad 3 will be released on March 7th.

That’s only a few weeks away! So get in line now, nerds!

“Siri, Where Did I Leave My Tinfoil Hat”?

It’s likely that in the near future Siri will be able answer such a question, and moreover, administer an inkblot test complete with diagnosis. That is, if you can bring yourself to trust the little homonculus that lives inside your phone (you can’t–it was put there by the CIA). In the meantime, however, you can soothe your crazy using one of several applications, available for download now:

In the past few years researchers have been testing simple video-game-like programs aimed at relieving common problems like anxiety and depression. These recent results have been encouraging enough that investigators are now delivering the programs on smartphones — therapy apps, in effect, that may soon make psychological help accessible anytime, anywhere, whether in the grocery store line, on the bus or just before a work presentation.

Not surprisingly, there are some therapists who do not welcome on-demand treatment:

“We are built as human beings to figure out our place in the world, to construct a narrative in the context of a relationship that gives meaning to our lives,” said Dr. Andrew J. Gerber, a psychiatrist at Columbia University. “I would be wary of treatments that don’t allow for that.”

The smartphone has proven particularly useful with one approach–known as cognitive bias modification–that seeks to train the brain to avoid its bad habits. For instance, many people with social anxiety disorder focus on what they perceive to be the angry expressions of those around them–to the exclusion of all else. With cognitive bias modification, the brain can be tricked into ignoring such things, and best of all, the therapy can be delivered anywhere, including where it’s most needed.

Perhaps the best part about this will be the new ways in which our society will confront mental illness. Because soon enough people will be updating their Facebook (status update: still cray cray after all theez yearz lol) and tweeting (#thecialovesaliens) directly from their therapy apps!

Wait, that’s not better, that’s worse. Dammit!

Sadly, the Government Does Not Appear to be Interested in Killer Robots

If you were longing for the day when armies of metal titans would roam the battlefield, breathing fire and shooting lasers from their hands, I’ve got some bad news for you: the military is cutting spending on its killer robots.

iRobot, the company that makes DJ Roomba, announced last week that its largest portion of revenue, military contracts, would take a substantial hit. Subsequently, their stock fell by nearly a third of its value. But iRobot is not out of the picture just yet:

…the company issued new guidance, saying it expects the government side of its business to take a 20 percent hit in 2012, due to a combination of reduced defense budget growth, and a slowing of new projects during an election year. IRobot expects its revenues to shift from a breakdown of 40 percent government and industrial and 60 percent consumer, to 30 percent government and industrial and 70 percent consumer.

Hopefully, consumer robotics will keep the company afloat until such time as we have a Republican in office who isn’t afraid to spend some money on killer robots. Damn Democrat peace loving fruitcakes! Their aversion to war is killing the tech sector!

Your iPad Will Be Obsolete in March

Well, maybe not obsolete, but certainly not cutting-edge. Yes, it would seem that Apple is going to announce the launch of the iPad 3 in early March, with sales beginning as early as the week following the announcement. But what of its features, you ask?

The rumor mongers don’t expect the tablet to look much different than the iPad 2. “Sources say it will be pretty much what we’ve been led to expect by the innumerable reports leading up to its release,” writes Paczkowski. “A device similar in form factor to the iPad 2, but running a much faster chip, sporting an improved graphics processing unit, and featuring a 2048×1536 Retina Display — or something close to it.”

In other words, don’t regift your iPad 2 just yet–it may have some use in the future, and since it will look similar to an iPad 3, you can fool judgmental nerds on the subway!

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