Wednesday, February 23, 2011

All my ideas are against the law

I really like being on the Student Advisement Committee for the BYU Library. Basically, we get paid to come up with ideas for ways to improve the library. Unfortunately, none of my ideas this semester are legal. Idea number one: purchase e-book readers for students to check out and read the library's existing e-books. We have literally tens of thousands of academic e-books. Unfortunately, every e-book reader that I researched is only licensed for individual use (this includes the Kindle, Nook, Kobo, and Sony Reader). Also, the e-books we own all have specific DRM from the publishers so that the files can't be converted to ePub files that can be read on a reader.

Bummer. Maybe copyright laws will change in 5 or 10 years.

Idea number two: make digital copies of our audio books (which are on CD right now) and let students check out MP3 players with the digital recording of the book on that device. I went to the copyright office here on campus and talked to the director about this one. He wasn't sure if it was legal or not, so he emailed me a copy of the copyright law and we both looked at it. After reader through pages of legalese referring to reproduction rights of academic institutions, I found that it is currently legal to make a digital copy of an audio recording, but only if the medium which the book is currently on is obsolete. So we can only do this once manufacturers stop making CDs and CD players, which isn't likely in the next decade or so.

Dang. The frustrating this is that doing these things shouldn't be against the law. We're not trying to sell them to make a profit. We're not letting students copy the material for themselves. It makes me want to figure out who is in charge of writing the copyright law and lobby them for change.

So if anyone else knows any great ideas to implement in the library, let me know! I'm desperate for good ideas.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011


Guess he didn't see this one coming. Here's the link. Ha!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Norville Rogers

Do you know who Norville Rogers is? I bet you would recognize him if you saw him...

Dang, the picture I was going to use is copyrighted. Guess I'll have to resort to Paint...

Oh man, never man. That drawing looked too bad.

Well, here's a hint: he has the same popular nickname as Orville Richard Burrell, who wrote "Boomtastic."

Norville Rogers is the name of Shaggy, that really cool guy from Scooby Doo!

...No wonder he goes by Shaggy.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Death and Taxes

I think you all know that I love infographics. I found one of the most detailed, comprehensive, and amazing infographics out there.

It's created by Jess Bachman and it's called Death and Taxes. It a visual representation of how our tax money is spent each year. She spends a few months each year creating a new poster, so you can track the trends of government spending and, in turn, public opinion. Her site is here.

Be sure to click the "full screen" icon.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Scorpion Venom

A while ago I wrote a post about expensive liquids. At that time I had found a site that said that scorpion venom was the most expensive liquid, and I wondered what it was used for.

Now I know why it's so expensive.

I was listening to a podcast (which I can't seem to find right now) that explained that scorpion venom is actually used in cancer research. It is very, very, very difficult to find something that will only kill cancer cells and not healthy cells, but apparently scorpion venom tends to attack certain cancer cells first. They made a synthetic, radioactive version of this venom and inject it into people with brain tumors called gliomas, and the hope is that the radioactive venom will target just the gliomas and not the other cells. The radioactivity will kill just those cells.

This is still in the early testing period, but I think it's an awesome idea. I figure that cancer research is a pretty good reason to buy scorpion venom. Maybe I could get a scorpion farm and collect venom and sell it to research institutions...

I wonder how you even collect venom from a scorpion?
 ... Now I know

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Drunk octopus

I found this image here. I think it's the funniest thing I've ever seen.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Sperm whale oil

I few weeks ago I learned about waxes and oils in my biochemistry class. My professor told us about sperm whale oil, and it's pretty amazing stuff.

Apparently, there's a huge cavity in the skull of the sperm whale that's full this oil, called spermaceti. It's oderless and tasteless, and is used for making candles and oils for lamps and cosmetics. There's a lot of oil in the skull. When the whalers caught the whale, they would cut a hole in the head and take out the oil in buckets, or they would have a guy jump in the hole and take it out manually.

They oil has special properties that might have helped the buoyancy of the whale. The oil has a melting and hardening point of about 6 degrees Celsius, and the temperature of the oil can be controlled by the opening and constricting of blood vessels in the nasal passages of the whale. If they want to dive, they just constrict the vessels, making the oil colder and harder, which causes the whale to sink. They can actually dive about 2 miles below sea level. And when they want to come up, they open up the blood vessels (I imagine this as flaring your nostrils), which melts the oil, which helps them float.


Tuesday, February 1, 2011

New Year Goal

I finally thought of a new year goal for myself. It wasn't an easy process. It had to be something that I normally wouldn't do, that isn't actually required of me, but would make my life better, but it can't take over my entire life.  After a few weeks of thinking, I've decided that I would draw something everyday.

Starting today, Feb. 1, 2011 and ending Feb. 1, 2012, I will draw something daily.

I pulled out my old sketchbook and drew some doodles while I waited for my Economics class to start. That's the beauty of this goal: it can be a simple as a doodle and as complex as a painting. I'm pretty excited. A sub-goal of mine is to sell something that I made. That's what would make this official. But it doesn't have to happen.

Speaking of drawing, I saw this video today and it blew my mind. It totally puts my Paint drawings to shame. It's a video of Bob Staake and how he draws. He actually uses a mouse and draws in a primitive version of Adobe Illustrator. It's crazy how good he is.