Friday, October 26, 2012

Flashing Neon Sign Generator

Pretty neat.

Neon Signs

Friday, September 28, 2012

How Good News Affects the Brain

I was looking for something else when I found this article on how the brain reacts to good news and bad news. 

How the brain filters bad news

We are more likely to be receptive to good news than bad, and a team at UCL has gone some way to explaining why we prefer to look on the bright side
Co-author Ryota Kanai administering transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) to a participant's brain
Co-author Ryota Kanai administering transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), which sends magnetic pulses into a participant's brain. Photograph: National Academy of Sciences
Most of us go through life with a selective ear for the news we take in. We hear the good more than the bad, the flattering more than the insulting. And we update our beliefs in a way that reflects that bias.
The effect appears in many guises. We update our self image when told we are smarter or better-looking than we thought. But if we hear we are more stupid and uglier than we supposed, we revise that image rather less. In the general population, about 80% to 90% of us behave this way.
The regions of the brain to which TMS was administered The regions to which TMS was administered. The right inferior frontal gyrus (IFG) is on the right, and the left IFG is on the left. Photograph: National Academy of Sciences
There are pros and cons to what neuroscientists call the "good news/bad news effect", though by the nature of the beast, you might dismiss the negatives. In building beliefs predominantly on good news, we lean towards an optimistic view of life. We are less anxious of the likelihoods of unpleasant events: cancer, burglary, internet fraud, missing a flight, divorce.
There is a cost to this rose-tinted view of the world though. To ignore bad news can be dangerous. It can make us overconfident, perhaps even reckless. It might leave us unprepared for a natural disaster, naive to the dangers of contracting disease, or oblivious to the warning signs of impending financial collapse.
In a series of experiments at University College London, a team of neuroscientists has gone some way to explaining how this preference for good news arises in the brain. Through disrupting the function of a small brain region, they neutralised the bias and left people as open to bad news as they were to good.
Cognitive neuroscientist Tali Sharot and others recruited 30 right-handed people aged 20 to 35 and divided them into three groups of 10. Each received a 40-second blast oftranscranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), which sends magnetic pulses into the head, to disrupt different parts of their brains. In one group, the TMS was aimed at a part called the left inferior frontal gyrus (IFG), in another at the right IFG, and in the third, the target was a control region of the brain, where the pulses were not expected to have much effect.
Within half an hour of the TMS session, participants sat down at a computer which flashed up 40 things nobody wants to happen in their lives, such as developing cancer, having a car stolen, or missing a flight. Each time, the participant had to estimate how likely the event was to happen to them. On typing their answer, the computer displayed the average risk for a person in a similar socioeconomic situation. Estimate your lifetime risk of cancer at one in 10? The average is closer to one in three.
A second session followed. This time, the volunteers were given the same negative cues – cancer, robbery, missing a flight and so on – and had to estimate again the chance that each event would happen to them at some point. The scientists then analysed the answers to see how people's views shifted after they had been given accurate information.
The results were enlightening. Those who had magnetic stimulation to the right IFG, or a control part of the brain, showed the usual good news bias: that is, they updated their beliefs more on hearing good news, such as a lower risk of cancer or Alzheimer's than they originally thought. But stimulation of the left IFG destroyed the bias. Those people were just as likely to change their views based on bad news as good.
"We believe the left inferior frontal gyrus is normally inhibiting other parts of the brain from learning from bad news. But by interfering with the left IFG we're releasing this inhibition," says Sharot, whose study appears in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. A previous study highlighting the brain region appeared last year in Nature Neuroscience.
The left IFG is unlikely to have sole responsibility for the good news bias. The neurons there are connected to many other regions of the brain, and it is hard to stop one part of the brain from functioning without affecting others. The effect more likely arises from a larger neuronal network.
Chris Chambers, a cognitive neuroscientist at Cardiff University, said one surprise was that TMS had such a specific effect, apparently without affecting other aspects of behaviour, such as emotional arousal or attention. "The researchers found no evidence of such effects. Among about a dozen different measures, only the tendency to update beliefs based on bad news was affected by brain stimulation. So for me, as fascinating as these results are, this makes it difficult to understand what brain function has been influenced," he says.
Should we try to base our views more on bad news? Probably not. The good news biastends to be less common in people with depression, suggesting the optimists' view of life is good for our wellbeing and helps to motivate us. And here's where the work might be most use. To understand how the brain goes wrong, it helps first to know how it goes right.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Book Review: Mr. Popper's Penguins

An old book review of mine from 2011. Old stuff makes me laugh.

Originally done on at

I didn't know what to expect when I first started it, but I knew it was a children's book because of the Scholastic publisher. In the end it was, in a word (and not in a bad way), quaint.

The story is about a painter/wallpaper guy, Mr. Popper, who works in the summer, and stays home during the winter. He has an avid interest in the Arctic and Antarctic regions, and reads everything he can on the topics. He’s even gone a bit further and sent a letter to Admiral Drake, an explorer currently down in Antarctica.

Admiral Drake in turns sends Mr. Popper a penguin, who is promptly named Capt. Cook, after the Antarctic explorer James Cook. Mr. Popper makes him a home in the icebox, and becomes a minor celebrity after taking Capt. Cook about town.

The book is fantastic without being fantasy. It’s a humorous story, told more for the sake of imagining the antics of the characters than for any type of realism. I like some of the archaic phrases (“sixes and sevens”) which place the story back in time, but not at any particular point. I was curious as to what would happen next, but was skeptical of the ending.

Either way, I recommended it to my daughter. Even though it’s got a RL of 4 or so, I think it could hold her interest long enough so that she actually reads. 

FBI Sharing Facial Recognition Software

The reason I mentioned the 2007 post was because of this one.



FBI To Give Facial Recognition Software to Law-Enforcement Agencies

Posted Thursday, Aug. 23, 2012, at 5:08 PM ET

The speedy onward march of biometric technology continues. After recently announcing plans for a nationwide iris-scan database, the FBI has revealed it will soon hand out free facial-recognition software to law enforcement agencies across the United States.
The software, which was piloted in February in Michigan, is expected to be rolled out within weeks. It will give police analysts access to a so-called “Universal Face Workstation” that can be used to compare a database of almost 13 million images. The UFW will permit police to submit and enhance image files so they can be cross-referenced with others on the database for matches.
Instituting the technology nationally is the latest stage in the FBI’s $1 billion Next-Generation Identification program, which will also establish a system for searching a database of scars, marks, and tattoos. The FBI’s Jerome Pender, who was recently named executive assistant director of the Information and Technology Branch, says in a statement that Hawaii, Maryland, South Carolina, Ohio, New Mexico, Kansas, Arizona, Tennessee, Nebraska, and Missouri have already expressed interest in trying out the UFW. Pender says that “full operational capability” for facial recognition is scheduled for the summer of 2014.
The FBI has been keen to emphasize that the 12.8 million images stored on the database will only include “criminal mug shot photos” taken during the booking process. Last week, in a bid to quell privacy concerns, the bureau said in a podcast that it will not “store photographs obtained from other sources such as social media.”
But it’s unlikely that assurance will satisfy civil liberties enthusiasts. In a blog post earlier this month, the Electronic Frontier Foundation said it was concerned that the “FBI wants to be able to search and identify people in photos of crowds and in pictures posted on social media sites—even if the people in those photos haven’t been arrested for or even suspected of a crime.” This sentiment was echoed in July by Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., during a hearing at the Senate judiciary committee’s subcommittee on privacy, technology, and the law. Franken said that he feared the FBI’s technology “could be abused to not only identify protesters at political events and rallies, but to target them for selective jailing and prosecution, stifling their First Amendment rights.” (The same fears punctuated the recent hysteria about TrapWire, which is not actually facial recognition software, contrary to widely published claims.)
In addition to privacy concerns, UAW has another weak spot: It still isn’t that great at tracking people. Last year, the Wall Street Journal reported how human analysts still trump machines when it comes to comparing and identifying people from photographs. Poor quality images or bad lighting, for instance, can render facial recognition almost useless.
One thing that is true is that the software is advancing rapidly—and developments show no sign of slowing down. Aside from the FBI’s facial network software, companies are turning to facial recognition technology to take snapshots of shoppers in order to offer them customized deals linked to Facebook preferences. It’s enough to make you reluctant to show your face in public again. As Anonymous hacktivists have pointed out in a new video, however, there are some alternatives. Options include walking about with your head tilted at a 15 degree angle, caking your face in make-up, or wearing a plastic mask.

Brain of Big Brother - Revisited

In 2007 I posted this:

The last link to the main article was dead, as the text was removed. I guess there is a reason I post the text of the articles.

Here is that article:

And here is the full text of the article:

FBI Prepares Vast Database Of Biometrics

Highly accurate face-scanning cameras are being developed.
Highly accurate face-scanning cameras are being developed. (Photos By Bob Shaw For The Washington Post)

By Ellen Nakashima
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, December 22, 2007
CLARKSBURG, W. Va. -- The FBI is embarking on a $1 billion effort to build the world's largest computer database of peoples' physical characteristics, a project that would give the government unprecedented abilities to identify individuals in the United States and abroad.
Digital images of faces, fingerprints and palm patterns are already flowing into FBI systems in a climate-controlled, secure basement here. Next month, the FBI intends to award a 10-year contract that would significantly expand the amount and kinds of biometric information it receives. And in the coming years, law enforcement authorities around the world will be able to rely on iris patterns, face-shape data, scars and perhaps even the unique ways people walk and talk, to solve crimes and identify criminals and terrorists. The FBI will also retain, upon request by employers, the fingerprints of employees who have undergone criminal background checks so the employers can be notified if employees have brushes with the law.
"Bigger. Faster. Better. That's the bottom line," said Thomas E. Bush III, assistant director of the FBI's Criminal Justice Information Services Division, which operates the database from its headquarters in the Appalachian foothills.
The increasing use of biometrics for identification is raising questions about the ability of Americans to avoid unwanted scrutiny. It is drawing criticism from those who worry that people's bodies will become de facto national identification cards. Critics say that such government initiatives should not proceed without proof that the technology really can pick a criminal out of a crowd.

The Department of Homeland Security has been using iris scans at some airports to verify the identity of travelers who have passed background checks and who want to move through lines quickly. The department is also looking to apply iris- and face-recognition techniques to other programs. The DHS already has a database of millions of sets of fingerprints, which includes records collected from U.S. and foreign travelers stopped at borders for criminal violations, from U.S. citizens adopting children overseas, and from visa applicants abroad. There could be multiple records of one person's prints.
The use of biometric data is increasing throughout the government. For the past two years, the Defense Department has been storing in a database images of fingerprints, irises and faces of more than 1.5 million Iraqi and Afghan detainees, Iraqi citizens and foreigners who need access to U.S. military bases. The Pentagon also collects DNA samples from some Iraqi detainees, which are stored separately.

"It's going to be an essential component of tracking," said Barry Steinhardt, director of the Technology and Liberty Project of the American Civil Liberties Union. "It's enabling the Always On Surveillance Society."
If successful, the system planned by the FBI, called Next Generation Identification, will collect a wide variety of biometric information in one place for identification and forensic purposes.
In an underground facility the size of two football fields, a request reaches an FBI server every second from somewhere in the United States or Canada, comparing a set of digital fingerprints against the FBI's database of 55 million sets of electronic fingerprints. A possible match is made -- or ruled out--as many as 100,000 times a day.
Soon, the server at CJIS headquarters will also compare palm prints and, eventually, iris images and face-shape data such as the shape of an earlobe. If all goes as planned, a police officer making a traffic stop or a border agent at an airport could run a 10-fingerprint check on a suspect and within seconds know if the person is on a database of the most wanted criminals and terrorists. An analyst could take palm prints lifted from a crime scene and run them against the expanded database. Intelligence agents could exchange biometric information worldwide.
More than 55 percent of the search requests now are made for background checks on civilians in sensitive positions in the federal government, and jobs that involve children and the elderly, Bush said. Currently those prints are destroyed or returned when the checks are completed. But the FBI is planning a "rap-back" service, under which employers could ask the FBI to keep employees' fingerprints in the database, subject to state privacy laws, so that if that employees are ever arrested or charged with a crime, the employers would be notified.
Advocates say bringing together information from a wide variety of sources and making it available to multiple agencies increases the chances to catch criminals. The Pentagon has already matched several Iraqi suspects against the FBI's criminal fingerprint database. The FBI intends to make both criminal and civilian data available to authorized users, officials said. There are 900,000 federal, state and local law enforcement officers who can query the fingerprint database today, they said.

The FBI's biometric database, which includes criminal history records, communicates with the Terrorist Screening Center's database of suspects and the National Crime Information Center database, which is the FBI's master criminal database of felons, fugitives and terrorism suspects.
The FBI is building its system according to standards shared by Britain, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.
At the West Virginia University Center for Identification Technology Research (CITeR), 45 minutes north of the FBI's biometric facility in Clarksburg, researchers are working on capturing images of people's irises at distances of up to 15 feet, and of faces from as far away as 200 yards. Soon, those researchers will do biometric research for the FBI.
Covert iris- and face-image capture is several years away, but it is of great interest to government agencies.
Think of a Navy ship approaching a foreign vessel, said Bojan Cukic, CITeR's co-director. "It would help to know before you go on board whether the people on that ship that you can image from a distance, whether they are foreign warfighters, and run them against a database of known or suspected terrorists," he said.
Skeptics say that such projects are proceeding before there is evidence that they reliably match suspects against a huge database.
In the world's first large-scale, scientific study on how well face recognition works in a crowd, the German government this year found that the technology, while promising, was not yet effective enough to allow its use by police. The study was conducted from October 2006 through January at a train station in Mainz, Germany, which draws 23,000 passengers daily. The study found that the technology was able to match travelers' faces against a database of volunteers more than 60 percent of the time during the day, when the lighting was best. But the rate fell to 10 to 20 percent at night.
To achieve those rates, the German police agency said it would tolerate a false positive rate of 0.1 percent, or the erroneous identification of 23 people a day. In real life, those 23 people would be subjected to further screening measures, the report said.
Accuracy improves as techniques are combined, said Kimberly Del Greco, the FBI's biometric services section chief. The Next Generation database is intended to "fuse" fingerprint, face, iris and palm matching capabilities by 2013, she said.
To safeguard privacy, audit trails are kept on everyone who has access to a record in the fingerprint database, Del Greco said. People may request copies of their records, and the FBI audits all agencies that have access to the database every three years, she said.
"We have very stringent laws that control who can go in there and to secure the data," Bush said.
Marc Rotenberg, executive director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center, said the ability to share data across systems is problematic. "You're giving the federal government access to an extraordinary amount of information linked to biometric identifiers that is becoming increasingly inaccurate," he said.

In 2004, the Electronic Privacy Information Center objected to the FBI's exemption of the National Crime Information Center database from the Privacy Act requirement that records be accurate. The group noted that the Bureau of Justice Statistics in 2001 found that information in the system was "not fully reliable" and that files "may be incomplete or inaccurate." FBI officials justified that exemption by claiming that in law enforcement data collection, "it is impossible to determine in advance what information is accurate, relevant, timely and complete."
Privacy advocates worry about the ability of people to correct false information. "Unlike say, a credit card number, biometric data is forever," said Paul Saffo, a Silicon Valley technology forecaster. He said he feared that the FBI, whose computer technology record has been marred by expensive failures, could not guarantee the data's security. "If someone steals and spoofs your iris image, you can't just get a new eyeball," Saffo said.
In the future, said CITeR director Lawrence A. Hornak, devices will be able to "recognize us and adapt to us."
"The long-term goal," Hornak said, is "ubiquitous use" of biometrics. A traveler may walk down an airport corridor and allow his face and iris images to be captured without ever stepping up to a kiosk and looking into a camera, he said.
"That's the key," he said. "You've chosen it. You have chosen to say, 'Yeah, I want this place to recognize me.' "
Staff researcher Richard Drezen contributed to this report.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

AdSense Activated!

So, after five years, I've finally decided to try the thing where ads appear on the blog.


Who the hell knows.

They seem to indicate that there is money to be made by doing so. When I see them elsewhere (gmail, etc.), I mostly tune them out. Occasionally the ads will have something of interest on it, but, I really only like the small text ads that do not spam your ass or take over your browser or computer.

So, I decided to allow the Google-type ads onto Creatures For My Amusement.

To see how it works, and what I think of it, and if I can use all the dough from it to put my kids through college. If they become particularly annoying, I'll take them off. If not, I'll probably forget about them until I no longer care about them. We'll see.

If you like or dislike the Ads, or have any experience with them, leave a comment and let me know.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Listening to Complainers Is Bad for Your Brain

How Listening to Complaining Affects the Brain

Another in the series on video games and movies. Now, how listening to complaining and negativity affects the brain, negatively. That means the news dramas that go beyond educating to instilling fear are bad for you.

Aug 20, 2012

Listening to Complainers Is Bad for Your Brain

Exposure to nonstop negativity actually impairs brain function. Here's how to defend yourself.
baby crying

Do you hate it when people complain? It turns out there's a good reason: Listening to too much complaining is bad for your brain in multiple ways, according to Trevor Blake, a serial entrepreneur and author of Three Simple Steps: A Map to Success in Business and Life. In the book, he describes how neuroscientists have learned to measure brain activity when faced with various stimuli, including a long gripe session.
"The brain works more like a muscle than we thought," Blake says. "So if you're pinned in a corner for too long listening to someone being negative, you're more likely to behave that way as well."
Even worse, being exposed to too much complaining can actually make you dumb. Research shows that exposure to 30 minutes or more of negativity--including viewing such material on TV--actually peels away neurons in the brain's hippocampus. "That's the part of your brain you need for problem solving," he says. "Basically, it turns your brain to mush."
But if you're running a company, don't you need to hear about anything that may have gone wrong? "There's a big difference between bringing your attention to something that's awry and a complaint," Blake says. "Typically, people who are complaining don't want a solution; they just want you to join in the indignity of the whole thing. You can almost hear brains clink when six people get together and start saying, 'Isn't it terrible?' This will damage your brain even if you're just passively listening. And if you try to change their behavior, you'll become the target of the complaint."
So, how do you defend yourself and your brain from all the negativity? Blake recommends the following tactics:
1. Get some distance
"My father was a chain smoker," Blake confides. "I tried to change his habit, but it's not easy to do that." Blake knew secondhand smoke could damage his own lungs as well. "My only recourse was to distance myself."
You should look at complaining the same way, he says. "The approach I've always taken with complaining is to think of it as the same as passive smoking." Your brain will thank you if you get yourself away from the complainer, if you can.
2. Ask the complainer to fix the problem
Sometimes getting distance isn't an option. If you can't easily walk away, a second strategy is to ask the complainer to fix the problem.

3. Shields up!"Try to get the person who's complaining to take responsibility for a solution," Blake says. "I typically respond to a complaint with, 'What are you going to do about it?'" Many complainers walk away huffily at that point, because he hasn't given them what they wanted, Blake reports. But some may actually try to solve the problem.
When you're trapped listening to a complaint, you can use mental techniques to block out the griping and save your neurons. Blake favors one used by the late Spanish golfer Seve Ballesteros during a match against Jack Nicklaus--a match the crowd wanted Ballesteros to lose. "He was having difficulty handling the hostility of the crowd," Blake says. "So he imagined a bell jar that no one could see descending from the sky to protect him."
Major League Baseball pitchers can sometimes be seen mouthing "Shields on!" as they stride to the mound, he says. He adds that his own imaginary defense is "more like a Harry Potter invisibility cloak."
A related strategy is to mentally retreat to your imagined favorite spot, someplace you'd go if you could wave a magic wand. "For me, it was a ribbon of beautiful white sugary sand that extended out in a horseshoe shape from a private island," Blake says. "I would take myself to my private retreat while people were ranting and raving. I could smile at them and nod in all the right places and meanwhile take myself for a walk on my private beach."
Blake first saw the picture of the island in a magazine, and the image stuck with him. Eventually, he got a chance to try it for real. "It turned out the island was for rent, and it was the same one I'd seen," he says. "So I rented it for a week. And I got to take that walk."

New Blog Added- Laura's Crafts.... And More!!!

It's not mine, but it's Laura's. She's all crafty and whatnot, so go check her stuff out at

Maybe I can do a series on man-crafts.....

Thursday, August 23, 2012

The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society Awards $12 Million in Research Grants

LLS Awards $12 Million in Research Grants to Address Four Critical Areas of Unmet Medical Need | The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society


Contact: Andrea Greif
(914) 821-8958
White Plains, NY (August 23, 2012) -  The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) today announced the awarding of 20 grants representing a total investment of $12 million to tackle four areas of high unmet medical need in the blood cancers.
In response to requests for proposals from researchers in these four critical areas, LLS is awarding these grants under its Translational Research Program, an initiative designed to help accelerate the movement of promising discoveries from the lab to the clinic. Each grant is for a three-year duration with a total value of $600,000.
The RFPs mark LLS's aggressive and proactive approach to addressing the challenge of improving outcomes for cancer patients with particularly urgent needs. LLS aims to stimulate more academic research in these areas: the malignant stem cells in acute myelogenous leukemia (AML) and myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS); non-cutaneous T-cell malignancies; high-risk myeloma; and long-term and late effects of blood cancer therapies. The grants recipients are:
  • The leukemic stem cell in AML and MDS and the identification of potential targeted therapies:
    • Alan D'Andrea, M.D., Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Targeting ID1 in Acute Myeloid Leukemia Stem Cells
    • James Griffin, M.D., Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Aberrant splicing in AML: novel molecular markers and therapeutic targets
    • H. Leighton Grimes, Ph.D., Children's Hospital Medical Center of Cincinnati, RNA Therapeutics for Leukemia
    • Monica Guzman, Ph.D., Joan & Sanford I. Weill Medical College of Cornell University, Strategies to eliminate leukemia stem cells during remission
    • Duane Hassane, Ph.D., Joan & Sanford I. Weill Medical College of Cornell University, Significance and Mechanisms of Genomic Diversity in AML Stem Cells
    • Anthony Letai, M.D., Ph.D.,  Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Personalizing AML therapy by BH3 profiling AML stem cells
    • Ross Levine, M.D., Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, Targeting cytosine hydroxymethylation in AML stem cells
    • A. Thomas Look, M.D., Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Targeting of nuclear export in primary AML cells
    • Li  Zhang, MSc, M.D., Ph.D., University Health Network,  Preventing AML relapse by targeting stem cells with double-negative T-cells 
  • Novel therapeutic strategies for non-cutaneous T-cell lymphoproliferative disorders:
    • Jaroslaw Maciejewski, M.D., Ph.D., Cleveland Clinic Foundation, Implications of STAT3 Mutations in Large Granular Lymphocyte Leukemia
    • Owen O'Connor, M.D., Ph.D., Columbia University, Epigenetic Approaches to PTCL Therapy 
  • Development of therapeutic strategies for the high risk myeloma patient:
    • Jennifer Carew, Ph.D., University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, Targeting SIRT1 in Multiple Myeloma
    • Irene Ghobrial, M.D., Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Targeting Hypoxic and Metabolic pathways in Multiple Myeloma
    • Christoph Heuck, M.D., University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, Targeting DNA methylation in the diagnosis and therapy of high-risk myeloma
    • Alexander Stewart, M.D., Mayo Clinic, Development of Novel Therapeutics Targeting High Risk Myeloma 
  • Mechanisms underlying long term and late effects resulting from cancer treatment and the development of measures to significantly reduce or prevent these toxicities 
    • Smita Bhatia, M.D., M.P.H., City of Hope, Bone Marrow Transplant Survivor Study-2
    • Eric Chow, M.P.H., Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Dexrazoxane and prevention of anthracycline-related cardiomyopathy
    • Ruben Niesvizky, M.D., Joan & Sanford I. Weill Medical College of Cornell University, Stem cell alterations in lenalidomide treated myeloma patients
    • Pavan Reddy, M.D., University of Michigan, Alpha 1-antitypsin as a novel strategy to modulate GVHD
    • Daniela Salvemini, Ph.D., Saint Louis University, Blocking bortezomib induced painful peripheral neuropathy with FTY720
LLS also announced the awarding of an additional 28 TRP grants, totaling $15.6 million, to scientists working in other areas of blood cancer research.
"By issuing RFP's LLS is taking a strategic approach to identifying and prioritizing areas of need and directing funding to research that shows the most promise for improving survival and quality of life for patients with these particularly difficult diseases," said Richard Winneker, Ph.D., LLS's SVP, Research.
About The Leukemia & Lymphoma SocietyThe Leukemia & Lymphoma Society ® (LLS) is the world's largest voluntary health agency dedicated to blood cancer. The LLS mission: Cure leukemia, lymphoma, Hodgkin's disease and myeloma, and improve the quality of life of patients and their families. LLS funds lifesaving blood cancer research around the world and provides free information and support services.
Founded in 1949 and headquartered in White Plains, NY, LLS has chapters throughout the United States and Canada. To learn more, visit or contact the Information Resource Center at (800) 955-4572, Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. ET.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Children of the Sun by Billy Thorpe

I really like the song Children of the Sun by Billy Thorpe. I thought it was a song about meeting aliens or something, but since I'm usually wrong about stuff like that, I decided to look it up. Had a hell of a time finding it, but here is the link, and a 1979 interview with Billy Thorpe in it's entirety.


Los Angeles, California

w. Jed the Fish 3/79

Re: "Children of the Sun"

We're on! So, We've got Billie Thorpie, here. (laughing) And we were just talking about the pronunciation of his name. Oh! Let's test the microphone, here.Win a pair of tickets to see Ultravox, Tuesday, March the 20th, at the Fleetwood, along with the Zippers and the Cats. Just by calling xxxxxx. Courtesy of Climax productions, and your friends at KROQ.
Okay, that was great, but actually we were going to read that after we were done talking.Well, we've read it now, so it's out of the way! (laughing)
Yeah, but see, now we've got to take a winner for the....uh. You just did a contest! We've gotta be fair, now. We'll talk to Billie Thorpie in just a minute, here.

(takes phone call and gives away tickets)

Okay, back to Billy Thorpie. You've been here for about a year. I was about to say "Welcome to America." But you've been here for a while.Yeah, I've been here about seven, eight months.
All right. And you've got a new album out on Capricorn that we've been playing tonight, and this week. And...I'm really excited about it. I's like...a standard compliment to give to somebody you've got on the air, and everything. But I think something's gonna happen with that for you.Well, I'm very excited about it. It's my first American album. I've been making records since I was 14 or 15. And this is something significant for me. I've spent a lot of time making it, and I've spent a long time planning to come here. And here it is. It's happening. It's on the air, and I'm really pleased. Very happy.
All right. And of the things I meant to tell you about this thatI like about the album, it's called "Children Of The Sun," and I guess it'll be in the stores March 16th. it.... There's like two sides to you. The first side is the more standard rock and roll type side, and the second side is still rock and roll, but it's just a little bit....uh.. a little bit more mind-y. A little...I wanna say "spacey", but that's a little passe.
No, "spacey" is a good word,I think, you know?
And I the thing I like about that is it gives you twice as many chances to have them like you. (laughs)Uh-huh
If one side is a certain way, and the other side's another way.Yeah. The album was made intentionally, I mean, with that in mind. Because, one of the problems I had when I came here was..... I came here looking for Production,and for a Producer. And I found a great Producer in Spencer Proffer, and we spent a long time together going through a lot of my old stuff. I've made something like 20 albums. And it was very,hard, covering.... My first record was, like "Somewhere Over the Rainbow," and....I was like a David Cassidy type of image in Australia.
Did you have your hair like this now?(Laugh) No, no. I mean...this was quite a few years ago. I've recorded a lot of music, from live albums, like Ted Nugent, to pop, to heavy rock, to funk-oriented. And when I got here,it was hard to try to find a bag, or a category to go in, you know?
I just wanna ask you to stay there, 'cause a lot of people are listening in their cars. They aren't gonna be able to hear you unless you.....sorta stay thereLET ME GET A LITTLE CLOSER, HERE. ALLRIGHT? HEY, YEAAHHH!
Oh, no, dont, scream (laugh), don't scream. It'll start to distort. I'll get you a pair of headphones in a minute, here. But, anyway, you've been through a lot of stages musically, huh?Yeah.
Like David Bowie, huh?So it was very hard to know where to go. Well, I think even a few more than David. (laugh) You know,...uh...A lot of it was very Australian, and the music was Australian orientated, and a lot of the lyrics, and the things that I was into was very much relative to what was going on in Australia. But still, a lot of different directions. I was very hard at work at how to get 40 minutes of music on, and launch somebody in America, endorse myself in America, to a public that's used to listening to so much stuff, and really cover all the ground that I could. So, we came up with cutting an album with two distinct sides. One with more ....defined tracks, like 3 or 4 minute tracks, for AM and FM play individually, and the other side, which is "Children of the Sun," which is a 20-minute piece with a theme and a story that goes with it.
Right. Okay. Well, I tell you what. We'll play the title track right now, and then maybe you can come back and tell us.....You know, I hate to say, you know, you get an artist on the radio station, you go, "Okay, tell us exactly what you mean by that." And, you know, you get ....If I asked Becker and Fagen, the Steely Dan people, that, they'd say, "Well!" you know, they'd give me some aloof answer, then they'd go, "Well, that's for everyone to figure out on their own, you know." But (laugh) But it sounds like you have an idea that you wouldn't mind explaining, so maybe we can get into that.I'd love to.
Okay. Here it is. Children of the Sun.


Okay. I guess we have to fade that out if we want to talk now .(laughs)Okay, we've been listening to Billy Thorpie's new album, and...uh. Did I call you "Thorpe" at all during that last break? I'm trying to break that habit, here.Well, it's Billy Thorpe, but I sorta picked up this "thing" in Australia from audiences: "Thorpie." So, you know, it's either: "Billy Thorpe," or "Thorpie." It doesn't make any difference.
Okay. Well, maybe we should have it both ways, you know. After all, you can either say: DEE-vo, or deVo., you know?Or DATsun, or dawt-sun. Or Nick-on or Ni-con. (laugh)
Tomato, or.... Okay. Now, tell us. What is your ....uh...secret....(laugh)Secret to life? (laugh)
What is the secret to the second side of your album, "Children of the Sun?"Well, it's a story of a race of people arriving on Earth, or close to Earth, and announcing that they will take anybody that wants to leave with them. And the race of the people are called "Children of the Sun." And everybody decides to leave. Nobody stays. And the whole of Earth leaves. The first cut that we heard, "Children of the Sun" is the arrival, and the arrival of the rockets. And the last part of that was the that's made with the people of the Earth and the Children of the Sun. The rest of the album is the actual journey. To the kingdoms of the sun. It's kind of like, of the air. I was looking for something... I don't want to have to define it, you know?
There you go.We talked about putting a booklet into the album, but I think it gives too much away. I miss what I had when I used to listen to the radio. And have to paint pictures, like reading a book. And the way that this album was made, or this side was made, was with that in mind. To try to create an ambiance, and let people put their own, you know, basic story to it.
Okay. Maybe we could dispense with, maybe 30 seconds more of heaviness, but....what do you think going to the sun represents and what do you visualize it to mean?Me? Well, nothing. Nothing deep. Except I feel that ...the thing I noticed here was the people's reactions very much to the "Close Encounters"/"Star Wars" syndrome. And I think that the American people are very, very aware of.... I think there was a program that went on here through the Moon launch and it was cut off, and I think there's a definate awareness of Space. As a valid option. Particularly with what we're seeing now on television, you know. And I think for me it's been interesting. I've read a lot of sci-fi. I'm not a sci-fi buff, but the thing that freaked me out was the number of people here that have had some touch with science fiction, and it seems to have had some meaning to them. And, for me, there isn't any great depth, or any great lesson, or any magic story to the album, other than its an escape. It's something for me to sit back and blow a number with, and relax to, rather than have it as ambience music. It's something to get into, and listen to the sounds....
Listen more actively.Yeah. I mean, ...participate. You know, because if you listen to it under the right conditions -good and loud-, the way it was recorded, and kick back, and get into it,....I mean, it's 20 minutes. For the side. Which is not a lot of time.
Right. So you're saying people can sort of listen, and add their own little sounds, as they're listening?Well....the album is very simple. We spent a lot of time in production, but its a trio, basically, with most of the production work spent on the vocal harmonies. It's not a terribly "deep" album, recording-wise. A very simple album, but.....
A lot of nice textures, though.Yeah. We spent a lot of time trying to get a state-of-the-art sound, and I's ...there's something there to listen for. There's no definate story. I didn't want to put a story on the thing. I don't want to put a label on it. I would just like people to listen to it, and get off on it. For whatever reason. Whether it be that they like the harmonies, whether it be that they like the concept, whether they like know...
Yeah, well, the concept is really just a theme for expressing the rock and roll.Absolutely.
I mean, it could have been anything, I suppose.Yeah. I could have done 10 cuts of straight rock and roll. I could have been shuffle, it could have been anything. And, as it happened, when we got into making the album, a few of the tracks seemed to relate to one another, and before we knew it, we had a theme, and before we knew it, we hade a side called "Children of the Sun." And, I'm very happy with it, simply because it allows me to go on stage. I'm....I'm dying to go on stage and play the "Children of the Sun." And then, have a break, and come out and play straight rock music. It gives me a lot of, you know, opportunities to be able to get out a lot of the musical experiences I heard, and a lot of influences, and I think "Children of the Sun" to me, is a potporri of a lot of influences, from, say '68 to '78/'79.
Good. Good. Well, I hear that, too. And, um....tell you what we're gonna do. We're gonna play the last cut on the second side of the Billy Thorpe album, "Childrem of the Sun."


Oh, yeah. Let's talk about some rock and roll in Australia. Who are some of the bigger bands over there?Right now, I guess I can't tell you. I guess the Angels are. I haven't been there in two years. The Angels were just starting when I left, and I think they're doing incrediblly well. I know they've had a number one album, there.
Speaking of Number Ones, you've had a few number ones yourself, haven't you?Yeah. About sixteen number one records down there.
(laugh) See, these people don't know that! That happens all the time over here. People/artists do well in, what we call "foreign markets" over here, like the Clash, over in England, or something like that, and, uh Billy Thorpie, ...or "Thorpe" over in Australia, and, you know, we'd never know about it. To people over there, I guess, you're a household word. And over her, you're just....(interrupting) Hey, hey! (Laugh) It's a funny thing. The Australian music business has been fertile for years. There's been some great things. I didn't realize just how many significant bands had been there until I came here, to be honest with you. I find people to be into things here that bands had records with, and hits with there like in the late '60's/early '70's. There was a very heavy Blues/Rock orientated thing I was looking at, like George Thorogood. There's a lot of people into that type of album. There's a lot of people making those types of records. There was a lot of what was "punk rock," or what became "punk rock" was an Australian style of rock that's kind of, I guess, best typified today by AC/DC. They're kind of the "new groove" of what's come out of that. There's a lot of people, a lot of players, that have come out, a lot of different styles of playing that were into playing straight out heavy rock and roll that AC/DC have kind of gone on to now, you know? There's some great bands down there, some great writers. For some reason....
Is there any competition among them?Well, it's incestuous. You know, you travel around in the same circles. You've got a country the same size as the United States with 13 Million people, all sharing the record market. So it's very hard. You find yourself travelling around and around the same circles with the same musicians. You get an opportunity to play with a lot of overseas people. You're competing directly with the English and American market without having the opportunity,financially, when you're making the records to compete really. I mean, you make an album in Australia in two or three days, and you're expected to come out and compete with the best in the world, you know? And, it's bad on one side, but it's great on another. Because it makes for a very staunch .... anybody who can come through it down there for a number of years can handle it anywhere, I really feel. I think there's going to be some great bands coming out of there in the next four or five years, and I think it's starting now.
Yeah. I was about to say that. It's getting a good start, just about now, in the last, maybe couple of years or so. AC/DC's actually had a number of albums, I guess, 4 or 5 out, over here, and they haven't all done really, that well, in the charts. In other words, there's certain markets in the United States where AC/DC does real well, and one of them hasn't been LA. But they're going to be in this "World Music Festival" coming up pretty soon. So, you know, I think they might start to be on the incline, 'cause they're getting a lot of support from other groups that are starting to happen over here.Australian rock is very live-orientated. Making records has only become a big thing in the last 2 or 3 years, because the industry itself has been bery limited, and very clinical. And, we've had the opportunity to play to big crowds, for a number of years. Lots of bands. And, I think that where the Australian musician's forte really is, is in the live performance. I think AC/DC will kick a lot of people here, on a BIG level. Put them in front of 10, 15,or 20,000 people, and...
It'll KICK 'em, huh?It'll ....kick.
It'll kick 'em in the BUTT, huh?Well, it'll kick 'em in the ass, I would say. (laugh)
Well, okay. Are there any little stories about groups stomping off of the stage because of having to share equipment during a certain night, and somebody getting mad, because some equipment has been abused. Or if somebody plays too long? Are there any petty little stories?About who?
About Australian rock and roll bands.You know, that have a lot to do with egos. And just being snivilers, and stuff like that? Got any good stories?What...what are you looking at me for? (laughs)
Just a nasty little bit of dirt about Australian rock and roll stars' egos?No, not really. I've never experienced it because I've never really had to share gear. We've all done our own shows. So I guess any of the stories that would come out of Australia are probably coming out about ME. (laughs) You know what I'm saying?
Oohhhh. I see. Okay.(laughs)No, It's not like that down there. Really. It's kind of.... If you can imagine..
It's not like that?I don't know what you've heard, here, or who you've been talking to...
Well, all I know is how the records sound, and those people, you know, sound like they're really behind their music, and, you know, a lot more emotionally, than perhaps a lot of acts.Well, you have to be, because nobody else is going to be behind the damn thing but you, you know?
And that seems to be a conducive atmosphere for "ego flaunting," and stuff like that.You think so? No more than here.
I...maybe it's a ridiculous supposition,you know. Well, we'll just have to find out, when you guys start getting big over here, won't we?Well, hopefully. If it comes to that. Where did...?
It's just a "random notes" type of question, you know what I mean?I think heads get very big. I think you take somebody off the street, that's nobody one minute, and they've got a number one single the next, and they've got bucks, and Ferraris, and they've got chicks, and they've got everything they've ever wanted, it's very hard at 17 not to have a big head, and to want to tell everybody "where to go", you know? And whether you're from Toronto, or Iceland, or Australia, or London. I don't think it's relative. I think its just the nature of the business that we're in. I mean, one minute, you're not worth nothing, the next minute, you're worth everything, you know? And it's really like that. Particularly today. A band like the Angels. Now, they've been together five, six, seven years, and they haven't done a thing. They made one album in Australia, and it's gone "bang." I don't know. I don't think you can say Australia is this, that, or the other. I just think its the music business, its the radio business, its the record business. You can draw parallells identically between this contry and England.
Okay. One more questions before we hit George Thorogood. Do you know about Kim Fowley?ah...vaguely. Yes.
Um...he was on Rodney (Bingenheimer)'s show the other night, talking about some 90 records he made in two months, or something?In Australia?
Yeah.I bet they're rippers, man. I'd love to hear them.
(Laughs) Some of them are rippers. Probably most of them are turkeys.I saw an interview with him on Tom Snyder's "Tomorrow." Which sort of didn't endear me to him. Not that I'm a Tom Snyder fan, or anything else. But I mean, he just came across as a.... I don't know, ...
Who was on Tom Snyder?Kim Fowley. This was some months ago.
What? Really?Yeah, you missed it. Robert Hilburn, Kim Fowley, Bill Graham, a whole lot of people. They got down with it, and Kim Fowley had (???) to say, because he obviously... I mean to me, he's a periphiral person, with nothing to say. I mean, if he says he's gone to Australia and made 90 know,'s just crap. I mean, who goes to Australia, and makes 90 records in two months. Bull****. You know. He's made them. He's going around with a tape recorder into every club he can find, and recorded them live, and then gone to a studio, and put down tape, and cut it, and that's a record.
Okay....okay.Nobody makes 90 records in Australia.
Okay. I just think he's approaching the music business from a ...on one hand, a real stereotyped point of view, and on the other hand, you know, a real, a lot of craziness. It's not so much what's actually being produced, but the way it's being produced. I was going to ask you about, and I don't want to get into this right now....Get into it! Get into it!
Okay. Brian Eno? You know Brian Eno? You've ever heard of him?Yes. Sure.
Okay, well, he's really into the process of making music, as opposed to towards a finished product.Yeah. He gets off with the physical side of making records.
The process of it. And, I think maybe that's what Kim Fowley's a little bit more into. You know, I mean,like. ...he'll produce Helen Reddy.Then how could he make 90 records in 2 months?
I don't know! (laughs) I'd like to talk to him some more. He's just a big rumor to me. Oh, well. As soon as we started talking about Kim Folwey...that's ridiculous. Kim, if you're listening, or anybody that's a friend of his, I mean, it's all..... I don't care what Billy Thorpie says, as far as I'm concerned. (laughs).(Laughs) Hey, you asked me for an opinion, I gave you one.
Sure, right. But as far as I'm concerned, I'd like to sit down and talk to Kim Fowley some more. He's a real interesting person.....even if he may not have made 90 records in six minutes. (laughs). Anyway! Uh, Kim Fowley, you can call the Hot Line now, (laughs). This is FM 106.7, Jed the Fish filling in for Dusty Street, with Billy Thorpe.

(Song - "Dream Maker")

We've got Billy Thorpie here, who has a new album coming out. It's gonna be in the stores March 16th. It's called "Children of the Sun." So. I've gotta kinda wrap this up. This is KROQ, so is there anything you'd like to say to everybody out there?.....goodbye?
Goodbye? Tell 'em "Buy the Album!"I'm looking forward to playing here, more than anything else. I'm really happy with the album, and I'm really stoked that it's coming out, and I love the fact that it's getting played at this stage, and that people are hearing it. But, more than anything, I want to play here. I just want to play live.
Tell you what. I think we have time for just a couple of calls, here, if you want to talk to Billy Thorpe, we just ask that you keep the questions...premeditated, and concise, just so we can get in as many as we can and move on to music, 'cause this IS Saturday night, and people DO want to cook, but we just happen to have Billy Thorpie here, and you might want to talk to him. So.....Hi, this is K-rock,and you're on the air with Billy Thorpe.
Uh...oh..Hi...I'm sorry. I was just calling to make a request.
Okay, I figured as much. What is your request?
I think it's a song called "Prarie Roads" by Roxy Music.
Good, choice, but I don't think I'll get to it. I only have a few minutes, but I'll try. Here's another call. K-rock. You're on the air!
Hi, how you doing there?
Good. Got a question?
Yeah, I wanna ask Billy Thorpie what he thinks of the Easybeats.
I love them. I DID love them. "Friday On My Mind" was a classic for me. I love them. I grew up with George Young and Harry Vander, and I saw their first performance. And we've been close friends for years, and I've ...I love the band. It was a shame to see them break up.
What are they doing right now?
George Young and Harry Vander are the creative force behind Albert Music in Australia, and they're producing people like John Paul Young, the Angels, lots of Australian bands. They're having lots of success, both overseas, and in Australia.
Maybe you could put something by them on a little bit later, huh Jed?
Okay, I'll give it a whack. I don't even know where to look in this place for Easybeats. But we're gonna have to do something about that. Thanks for your call. This is K-rock, and you're on the air with Billy Thorpe.
Uh, yeah. I was just kicking back, listening to the album, and I want to say it's very good. I'm enjoying it.
Thank you. Thank you very much.
Yeah, I also wanted to say that I've been listening to this station for the last 4 months, and I do think the station sounds the best it's ever had.
Me too. I just want to say, that I've been listening to it the last 5 months, and I'd have to say the same thing. For me, it's what radio should be. It's got so much freedom, and you hear so much off-the-wall stuff, it's entertaining. I love it.
And thands to the K-rock Engineering department!
Bye! This is K-rock. You're on the air with Billy Thorpe.
Hello? How you doing Billy?
I'm doing just fine. How you doing, man?
Just good. You;ll have to excuse me, but I didn't catch the name of the band you're with.
Well, it doesn't have a name. The band that made the album was a trio. It was Lee Sklar on bass, Alvin Taylor on drums, and myself on vocals on guitars.
I heard a member of the Angels the other night on Jed's show the other night. I haven't heard too much music from Australia before. I was impressed. It sounded pretty good.
Well, there's some great music down there. Great Rock music, more than anything else. And good heavy rock music. It looks like it's starting to surface right now. I hope it breaks in a much bigger way.
This is K-rock. you're on the air with Billy Thorpie.
G'Day, mate. I just flew in down from the sky there, yesterday
Hey! G'Day, mate!
I think the DJ needs to get his head together.
Why's that?
He needs to listen to Billy Thorpe "Live at Sunbury."
Oh. Is that a record I should have heard?
Yeah, I think so.
Well, why don't you bring it on down here.
I got it at home. Couldn't bring it with me.
Well...(laughs) do you expect me....?I've got a copy here. Somewhere.
Okay. I'll get my head together. Bye. This is Jed the Fish, with Billy Thorpie, filling in for Dusty Street. I hope she isn't too mad, that I talked all the way through the show. All you people that are loyal Dusty Street fans can call her up.....And blame me. (laughs)
This has been FM-106.7, and we've been playing you the Billy Thorpie album, "Children Of The Sun," It's gonna be available pretty soon. Thanks, man, for coming downThank you. Thank you very much for having me. It was a great experience. And Goodnight!

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