Freaky news of the day – surrogate births her own twin grandchildren

So when the woman who carried you 9 months in the womb and birthed you is also your grandmother, would you call her Mom or Grandma? That’s the question these Brazilian twins will have to figure out when they are old enough to talk.

Rosinete Palmeira Serrao, a government health worker, gave birth to twin boys by Caesarean section on Thursday at the Santa Joana Hospital in the city of Recife, the hospital said in a statement on its Web site.

. . .

Serrao decided to serve as a surrogate mother after four years of failed attempts at pregnancy by her 27-year-old daughter, Claudia Michelle de Brito.

Kudos for going above and beyond normal parental responsibilities in helping your child have children of her own, but man if those kids were American, I could foresee them needing counseling as teens. I’m sure it shouldn’t seem weird, but yet I think it is weird. It’s no Ray Stevens’ tune, but it’s pretty close.

[tags]Mom is my grandma, Grandma is my mom, Brazilian woman gives birth to own grandchildren[/tags]


Nintendo Wii supply will still be insufficient this holiday season

The Nintendo Wii gaming console started selling late last year. It has been almost perpetually scarce, as skyrocketing demand, far better pricing than the more capable yet more traditional Sony and Microsoft systems, and limited production capacity have given Nintendo the enviable problem of being able to sell every console they can make and still have gamers looking for more. As nice as it would be for this problem to finally be resolved as we head toward the 2nd holiday season of Wii availability, Nintendo of America big-dog Reggie Fils-Amie says we still will have to look harder to find the Wii than competitors’ systems.

As yet unbeaten in the console sales charts since it debuted in the US last November, Nintendo’s Wii has consistently outsold its competitors by healthy margins. However, far from reaching its saturation point, the Mario Factory has yet to meet demand for its console. According to Nintendo of America president and CEO Reggie Fils-Amie, that situation isn’t going to change as the already-booming gaming industry heads into its busiest time of the year.

I want one, but haven’t been able to convince the wifey-person to get one. And I’m not willing to face the hell I’d suffer were I to just buy one – I already spend enough on computer hardware and software to know better than to push my luck.

[tags]Nintendo Wii, Gaming, Consoles, Wii, Game consoles[/tags]

Applying game theory to anti-terrorism

In what I would say is a smart play to making things more difficult for terrorists, Los Angeles airport security officials are using randomized security checkpoints to make pre-attack scouting work more risky.

…Anxious to thwart future terror attacks in the early stages while plotters are casing the airport, LAX security patrols have begun using a new software program called ARMOR, NEWSWEEK has learned, to make the placement of security checkpoints completely unpredictable. Now all airport security officials have to do is press a button labeled “Randomize,” and they can throw a sort of digital cloak of invisibility over where they place the cops’ antiterror checkpoints on any given day.

. . .

The ARMOR software is the real-world product of an idea that began as an academic question in game theory. USC doctoral student Praveen Paruchuri sought to find a way for one “agent” (or robot or company) to react to an adversary who has perfect information about the agent’s decisions. Using artificial intelligence and game theory, Paruchuri wrote a new, fast set of algorithms to randomize the actions of the first agent. But when he took the paper to prestigious AI conferences, nobody would publish the work. The basic reaction: great math, but so what? “They said, ‘We don’t see a practical use for it’,” says Milind Tambe, the USC engineering professor who led the ARMOR team. “It was very disappointing.”

I had a math professor in college who preferred to live in the world of theoretical math – it was cleaner, and not constrained by looking to make something out of the ideas studied. It sounds like Purachuri ran in to mostly theoretical mathematicians who didn’t like real-world products messing up their precious Gedankenexperiment work. Fortunately, LAX officials didn’t view the work the same as the academics at the conferences did. They wanted to talk more to the ARMOR product creators. Now, the project has been put to work for the airport.

It’s a smart premise, and if used more frequently than once a day, I could see this helping. Have the bog-standard set security screening points that we all know and love, add in sets of relocated daily mobile screening points, and throw randomly mobilized light-duty screening officers on top of it. It can be a hassle for the security officials, but should lead to less overall intrusion for standard travellers and more security visibility to potential terrorists or attackers. It sounds like it will make for better security, and as my regular (and exceptionally brillaint) readers know, I am all for security that leads to less intrusiveness for regular travellers, which ARMOR sounds like it will do. (via /.)

[tags]ARMOR software security tool, Randomized security checkpoints, Game theory, Mobile random screening[/tags]


RandomLi – a briefer blog

Last year, I registered the domain, but never did anything with it.  Finally I decided to quit being a slug and start using the domain.  I present to you now RandomLi – a blog of briefness.

Think of it as an ongoing post of asides.  I’ll still be posting here, and putting the occasional brief news snip in the right column Asides category.  But at RandomLi, I’ll be putting one to three posts a day, each with several very short descriptions of news items and links out to those news-bits.  I’m building it to let me post the things I want to point out to others but don’t want to write much about otherwise.

There will be some overlap on the Blahg with RandomLi, just because sometimes I’ll post something there and later decide that I do want to write up more about it for posting on the Blahg.  As with this site, comments are open on RandomLi as long as I don’t find comment spam unmanageable, so feel free to reply there to anything that catches your eye.

[tags]RandomLi, Random Linkage, Another site from me, A briefer blog[/tags]

The Blahg – breaking 1 million!

Now some folks might see that and think I am announcing a million hits to the site, or some other improbable event. While looking around at all the new things I could discover on the web today, I found a cool web site grading tool and decided to see how the Blahg ranked for SEO.

From that site, I thought I’d manually verify the rankings and statistics the reporting tool gave me. That’s how I found that the Blahg is ranked 810,958 in the world for web traffic. So I’ve broken the top million. I figure if I can knock out another 801,000 sites, I can be proud of my results. Of course, the question is do I knock them off the net, or just try to exceed their traffic levels?

[tags]The Blahg, Blahg tops a million, Alexa, Traffic stats, Web site grader[/tags]