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Toilet of the Future!

If it were biologically necessary for movie characters to go to the bathroom, this would be the toilet in Blade Runner and 2001.  I half-expected the designer to be Syd Mead.

For futurists and conservationists (and other people who use toilets)!  Sleek, integrated design – compact enough for an apartment in Manhattan or Tokyo.  Plus, it re-uses water from the sink to flush the toilet!  It’s the all-in-one loo:

The Home Core concept integrates the toilet bowl, sink, mirror and a vanity table into one. However, this is not the central theme for this all-in-one-loo. There is a water storage tank right below the sink, where you can choose to store the currently used water or allow it to drain off. (The stored water is meant for flushing the pot) Also, the water pressure from the tap can be moderated to four different levels, giving you the satisfaction of conserving some resource.

Designer: Dang Jingwei

Toilet of the Future1

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Behind the Scenes at

Seems like all my recent posts are about media attention but, fear not, behind the scenes, the science comedy team (i.e. me and Tara – and our Texas affiliates, Chuck and Albert – all powered by wheels turned by teams of genetically-enhanced rodents from Monsanto) has been hard at work on new comedy material, as well as audio and video content that will appear here soon-ish (and that delivery date is firm).

We are preparing for two big public shows this week – in San Francisco and Sunnyvale – and one next week in Sacramento (see Upcoming Shows).  All the shows are being recorded.

Plus, we have some interviews with scientists and science fiction writers (for instance, Gregory Benford – he’s actually a stony killer of both those birds – he’s a physicist and a Nebula-award winning science fiction writer).

Stay tuned.  Or leave and come back.  That’s fine, too. a paper for college

Darlene Malow June 29, 1937 – Sept. 4, 2008

September 11, 2001:  I spent most of the day at my mother’s bedside, at St. Luke’s Episcopal Hospital, in Houston, Texas.  That may sound like an odd place for a family of Jews to gather, but St. Luke’s is home to the Texas Heart Institute and is widely considered one of the best medical centers in the country.

Under the direction of Dr. Denton Cooley (famous for having performed the first successful human heart transplant in the U.S. in 1968, and also the first to implant an artificial heart in a man in 1969), the Texas Heart Institute has performed over 100,000 open heart procedures – several of which I know more about than I wish I did.

My family is all too familiar with the halls of St. Luke’s, ever since my father’s first heart attack in 1984, his second ten years later, and the intimate relationship that saw him on and off the heart transplant waiting list until, ultimately, he’d been the recipient of a new – well, not new but used – heart in 1996.

So, by the time my mother suffered a stroke on August 24, 2001, just a couple weeks before 9/11, we’d already had a 17-year relationship with that institute.

Interestingly, on the first floor of St. Luke’s Hospital – I kid you not – there is a McDonald’s restaurant…  as if to guarantee a flow of patients.  It’s a strange but not uncommon experience to see people standing in line with rolling IV’s.  It has always made me picture everyone in line with IV’s, oxygen masks, in wheelchairs, on gurneys and full rolling hospital beds, buying Quarter Pounders with Cheese, french fries, and Cokes.

Thanks, in part, to that sort of diet, my father was only 47 when he had his first heart attack.

That’s an interesting phrase:  “his first heart attack.”  May it never enter your vocabulary.

For years now, as I’ve grown closer and closer to that fateful age, I’ve wondered what’s brewing inside me.  My father was overweight, a cigarette smoker, and a workaholic.  And I’m none of those things.  But how much is genetic and how much environmental?

My mother was also overweight, a smoker, and led a sedentary lifestyle.  Her stroke, at 64, was devastating, life-changing.  She would never fully recover.

My father passed away three months after her stroke, having lived with his second heart – a stranger’s heart – beating in his chest for five and a half years.

At his funeral, two men introduced themselves to me.  They were also members of St. Luke’s Heart Exchange program – the support group for recipients and those on the waiting list and their families.  They told me they had received the hearts just before and just after my dad’s.  His death must have been portentous to them.  I’ve often wondered how they’ve fared with their new hearts.

My mother’s physical state stablized, but in the subsequent years her mental state would decline and plateau, decline and plateau.  Vascular dementia ate away at her mind and, by the end, perhaps Alzheimer’s, too.  They’re known to pal around together.

On Thursday, Sept. 4, 2008, at 2:50pm, seven years and eleven days after her stroke, my mother passed away, with several of us gathered around her bedside for the final hours.  I was holding her hand.  My girlfriend, Tara,  was holding my other hand.  There was one false alarm, when we thought she had drawn her last breath.  Shari, my mom’s caregiver, said, “She’s gone, baby.”  We cried some more but then she surprised us by moving again.  She still had another five or ten minutes of life in her.

We’re a stubborn lot, the Malows.

At her funeral, my sister read part of an old love letter my father had written to my mother even before they were married 50 years ago.  He said, “You never get used to missing someone.”

I guess I’ll have to get used to that.

My mom was, truly, a mom.  Her life was devoted to raising her two children – the comedian and the lawyer.  And, when we grew up and flew from the nest – giving her less and less to work with – she never gave up on us but she began raising dogs (Bichon Frises), midwifing a couple litters a year.  She also did rescue work for orphaned and abused dogs.  On the phone, she’d listen to my sister practice every one of her closing arguments as she readied for a trial.  And every time I performed in Houston, she came to the comedy club and laughed as if it were the first time she’d heard the “classic” jokes.

From the audience and from the dining room table, I’ll miss her laugh.

Burt and Darlene Malow 1958

Darlene Malow 2005

Darlene Malow 1937-2008

The Galactomatic-1000 (TM) Basement Universe

…Basement Universes aren’t just for basements any more! The Galactomatic-1000 comes with an attractive imitation wood-grain negative-matter case that makes it perfectly at home in your den or family room. The case reduces its total mass to zero, so you won’t have to worry about imploding your house into a black hole, or discoloring the walls with unattractive gravitational redshifts (**)…

(**) Although the Galactomatic-1000 has no mass, it still has volume, so a shipping and handling charge will apply.

– Carl Feynman,
Extropy #13

Once upon a time there was a little transhumanist magazine called Extropy.  I probably still have an issue or two around here somewhere. Most of the content was serious but I remember this one fake advertisement for The Galactomatic-1000 (TM) Basement Universe.  It was hysterical.  Science comedy at its best!

Written by Carl Feynman, computer engineer and son of Richard Feynman, the piece appeared in Extropy #13 (6:2), Third quarter 1994, page 39.

The magazine and the Extropy Institute itself are now defunct.  But god bless the internet for its archival uses.

Witness the glory of…  The Galactomatic-1000 (TM) Basement Universe!

Symmetry Breaking Reviews Rational Comedy for an Irrational Planet

I’ve been writing up my notes from Science Foo Camp, anxious to get something online about the unconference that ended a week ago already, and from which I’m still on a serious high.  Meanwhile…

symmetry breaking has a new review of my “Rational Comedy for an Irrational Planet” show.

symmetry breaking is a blog supplement to symmetry – a great particle physics magazine that explores not only the science but also the people, the culture, and the policies of science.

It’s published every other month by the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory and the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center – national laboratories funded by the Office of Science of the US Department of Energy – and, therefore, the magazine is available for free – in print as well as online – to anyone.  Subscribe here.

The review is written by David Harris, editor of symmetry, who attended my show at the Punch Line Comedy Club, here in SF, last Monday, August 11, immediately following SciFoo weekend.

He also invited me to write an essay on being a science comedian for the print version of the magazine.

Thanks, David!