sunset from behind the wire

sunset from behind the wire

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

A Game Changer for Amputees?

I know a young man who lost his left arm from the elbow down in combat. He prefers to use a double hook to the clunky simulated hands that are currently on the market. 

This development (pictured right) represents a new generation of prosthetic limbs which will allow the wearer to reach for objects automatically, without thinking -- just like a real hand -- are to be trialled for the first time. The bionic hand is fitted with a camera which instantaneously takes a picture of the object in front of it, assesses its shape and size and triggers a series of movements in the hand.

Bypassing the usual processes which require the user to see the object, physically stimulate the muscles in the arm and trigger a movement in the prosthetic limb, the hand 'sees' and reacts in one fluid movement.

A small number of amputees have already trialled the new technology and now the Newcastle University team are working with experts at Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust to offer the 'hands with eyes' to patients at Newcastle's Freeman Hospital.
Ghazal Ghazaei, Ali Alameer, Patrick Degenaar, Graham Morgan, Kianoush Nazarpour. Deep learning-based artificial vision for grasp classification in myoelectric hands. Journal of Neural Engineering, 2017; 14 (3): 036025 DOI: 10.1088/1741-2552/aa6802
Publishing their findings in the Journal of Neural Engineering, co-author on the study Dr Kianoush Nazarpour, a Senior Lecturer in Biomedical Engineering at Newcastle University, explains:
"Prosthetic limbs have changed very little in the past 100 years -- the design is much better and the materials' are lighter weight and more durable but they still work in the same way. 
"Using computer vision, we have developed a bionic hand which can respond automatically -- in fact, just like a real hand, the user can reach out and pick up a cup or a biscuit with nothing more than a quick glance in the right direction. 
"Responsiveness has been one of the main barriers to artificial limbs. For many amputees the reference point is their healthy arm or leg so prosthetics seem slow and cumbersome in comparison. 
"Now, for the first time in a century, we have developed an 'intuitive' hand that can react without thinking."
In the UK there are around 600 new upper-limb amputees every year, of which 50% are in the age range of 15-54 years old. In the US there are 500,000 upper limb amputees a year.

Current prosthetic hands are controlled via myoelectric signals -- that is electrical activity of the muscles recorded from the skin surface of the stump. Controlling them, says Dr Nazarpour, takes practice, concentration and, crucially, time.

Using neural networks -- the basis for Artificial Intelligence -- lead author on the study Ghazal Ghazaei showed the computer numerous object images and taught it to recognise the 'grip' needed for different objects.

"We would show the computer a picture of, for example, a stick," explains Miss Ghazaei, who carried out the work as part of her PhD in the School of Electrical and Electronic Engineering at Newcastle University. "But not just one picture, many images of the same stick from different angles and orientations, even in different light and against different backgrounds and eventually the computer learns what grasp it needs to pick that stick up.
"So the computer isn't just matching an image, it's learning to recognise objects and group them according to the grasp type the hand has to perform to successfully pick it up. "It is this which enables it to accurately assess and pick up an object which it has never seen before -- a huge step forward in the development of bionic limbs."
Using a 99p camera fitted to the prosthesis, the hand 'sees' an object, picks the most appropriate grasp and sends a signal to the hand -- all within a matter of milliseconds and ten times faster than any other limb currently on the market.
"One way would have been to create a photo database of every single object but clearly that would be a massive task and you would literally need every make of pen, toothbrush, shape of cup -- the list is endless," says Dr Nazarpour. 
"The beauty of this system is that it's much more flexible and the hand is able to pick up novel objects -- which is crucial since in everyday life people effortlessly pick up a variety of objects that they have never seen before."
It's the first step towards a fully connected bionic hand

It's Wodin's Day


I am not opposed to temporary payments from the public chest to those least fortunate among us. Not all of us end up being the men that one day we'd hoped that we'd be. I draw the line at aiding terrorists or their families.

Whether progressives call it "transitional assistance to terrorists" or whether they find some other fancy progressive and politically correct term, it should not be given - not ever. As the Boston Bomber (right) example documents, the family of Dzhokhar A. Tsarnaev and Tamerlan Tsarnaev received on the order of $100,000 in public assistance. For all I know, the public exchequer is still writing them checks to aid them in their failed lives. That needs to stop now and for all time.

Young Vikings - Wodin's Day Tribute

Even though they are not from Norway, my grandsons and granddaughters are vikings in spirit. They certainly wrestle with Grandpa as if they were vikings. 

Some of them are at the stage now where they are draining the tooth fairy of money. It's an exciting time of life for them and for the now impoverished tooth fairy. If you look hard at their pictures, you'll understand that they are incapable of getting into mischief.

Are YOU guilty of "Mansplaining"?

Tara Joy, a freshman (and possibly a lesbian) who came to Wesleyan from an all-girls high school, writes in The Wesleyan Argus about how the excitement of her first year of college was dashed by the realization that some of the men in her classes “talked constantly.”

“Even the most feminist man can still harbor unconscious biases.”

“Despite making up less than half the class—[male students] managed to dominate every single discussion,” Joy lamented of her male peers in her First Year Seminar. Joy paints this as a manifestation of oppression and gender inequality, arguing that despite constituting 57 percent of the college population, women are consistently denied the same classroom opportunities afforded to their male classmates.

Joy does not entirely blame male students, however, asserting that teachers and professors also play an unconscious role in enabling men to dominate classroom discussions by creating a “chilly climate” that implicitly or explicitly encourages male participation over female participation...she views men interrupting women as a manifestation of male privilege.

“I have so many well-meaning, reasonably progressive male friends who keep interrupting or even ignoring me and other women,” she asserted, inferring from this that “men in a room are only really listening to each other.”

Further, she noted that when women do speak up in 
class, that men often “mansplain” over them.

“Mansplaining definitely can happen in response to women who try to express their frustrations or describe their experiences to men,” she said. “Even the most feminist man can still harbor unconscious biases."

Commentary: I wouldn't survive as a college student - anywhere - today. I was an undergrad in Southern California and did my graduate work at Monterey (on the water). I was a math major and today, I'd have had to be a gender studies major or something along that line - maybe social justice engineering instead of electrical engineering? Income redistribution instead of finance? Science is way too gender normative to be taken seriously from an academic perspective these days.

(1) Today there is a rule against carrying a firearm on campus and I always did (though there may have been a rule about that then too);
(2) I'd write "TRUMP" on the sidewalks in chalk and send the students scuttling like vermin to their safe spaces and hidey holes - though if you're progressive, you don't have to go to class do you? You can riot and demonstrate or hide from micro-aggression and still get full credit;
(3) When I was an undergrad we put up a booth outside the football stadium. It looked like a palapa and the sign said, "shooters for hooters".

We played Beach Boys. Wish they all Could be California Girls - over and over. Ladies on their way into the game could show their rack in exchange for a shot of Cuervo 1800. We went through BOTTLES of Cuervo and took Polaroids. Photos of the Top Ten were displayed and there was fierce competition between attractive co-eds for the honor. How would that be received today? (we were located about 10 inches from school property on private land with permission to be there)

I've done a reprise of this at the pre-show parking lot party Jimmy Buffet concerts. Same girls, just a bit older. Naturally we mix in Buffet songs now - Fins, and Caribbean love songs like, Why don't we get drunk and screw?

Would this sort of behavior be allowed and tacitly encouraged today? (by the male faculty - which was heterosexual back then, in the olden days)?


Gender normative is frowned upon.

The Curious Situation in the Philippines

Chinese People's Army's Navy Ship Changchun
Type 052C Destroyer
On 1 May, President Duterte visited and welcomed a Chinese three-ship task group docked at Duterte’s home town of Davao City. Sporting a Chinese naval baseball cap, he was given a tour of the guided missile destroyer Changchun

The three ships -- Naval Task Group 150 -- arrived at Davao City on 30 April for a three-day visit. Rear Admiral Shen Hao, the Deputy Commander of China’s East Sea Fleet, commands the task group.

Chinese People's Army's Navy Ship Jingzhou
Type 054A Frigate
The Chinese Ministry of National Defense announced that the task group is composed of the guided missile destroyer Changchun, the missile frigate Jingzhou and the supply ship Chaohu. The ships departed Shanghai on 23 April and will visit more than 20 countries in Asia, Europe, Africa and Oceania during the next 180 days.

When asked about the Chinese naval visit during the 2 May Foreign Ministry press session, spokesman Geng said,

“This fully proves that good-neighborly and friendly cooperation is in line with the two countries' and two peoples' fundamental interests and right choice.”

“The Chinese side is willing, together with the Philippine side, to continuously increase mutual trust, properly handle the South China Sea issue, constantly deepen practical cooperation, promote the sustained, healthy, and stable development of China-Philippines relations, and bring benefits to the two peoples.”

The last Chinese navy visit to the Philippines was a single ship visit in April 2010. It occurred just before then-President Aquino filed the Philippines’ successful challenge to China’s assertion of sovereignty over the South China Sea with the Permanent Court of Arbitration at The Hague.

The Philippines won the case, but essentially has conceded the sovereignty issue under President Duterte. Duterte has traded Philippine sovereignty for “good neighborly and friendly cooperation.” The Chinese are almost gloating.

The Chinese navy is taking advantage of the continuing confusion in Philippine policy. In early April Duterte called for the militarization of the Philippine-occupied islands in the South China Sea, which China claims as its property. 

This task group is on an important, show the flag, high visibility mission. The only continents it will not visit are the Americas.