November 2003 Archives

Paradise Blogging

In Kauai'i - Jen and I are traveling with my Mom and Dad - today we are scheduled to take a helicopter flight over the Na Pali'i coastline. Should be fun! Couting down the days until our flight to Seattle though - not fun but looking forward to getting back to work on all the projects... See you in a few days Dave

Crusades - what were they all about...

One last entry before I get on the Shuttle to the airport... From the very wonderful LGF a link to an essay from Thomas F. Madden, associate professor and chair of the Department of History at Saint Louis University: The Real History of the Crusades... bq. With the possible exception of Umberto Eco, medieval scholars are not used to getting much media attention. We tend to be a quiet lot (except during the annual bacchanalia we call the International Congress on Medieval Studies in Kalamazoo, Michigan, of all places), poring over musty chronicles and writing dull yet meticulous studies that few will read. Imagine, then, my surprise when within days of the September 11 attacks, the Middle Ages suddenly became relevant. bq. As a Crusade historian, I found the tranquil solitude of the ivory tower shattered by journalists, editors, and talk-show hosts on tight deadlines eager to get the real scoop. What were the Crusades?, they asked. When were they? Just how insensitive was President George W. Bush for using the word "crusade" in his remarks? more: bq. So what is the truth about the Crusades? Scholars are still working some of that out. But much can already be said with certainty. For starters, the Crusades to the East were in every way defensive wars. They were a direct response to Muslim aggression�an attempt to turn back or defend against Muslim conquests of Christian lands. bq. Christians in the eleventh century were not paranoid fanatics. Muslims really were gunning for them. While Muslims can be peaceful, Islam was born in war and grew the same way. From the time of Mohammed, the means of Muslim expansion was always the sword. Muslim thought divides the world into two spheres, the Abode of Islam and the Abode of War. Christianity�and for that matter any other non-Muslim religion�has no abode. Christians and Jews can be tolerated within a Muslim state under Muslim rule. But, in traditional Islam, Christian and Jewish states must be destroyed and their lands conquered. When Mohammed was waging war against Mecca in the seventh century, Christianity was the dominant religion of power and wealth. As the faith of the Roman Empire, it spanned the entire Mediterranean, including the Middle East, where it was born. The Christian world, therefore, was a prime target for the earliest caliphs, and it would remain so for Muslim leaders for the next thousand years. bq. It is often assumed that the central goal of the Crusades was forced conversion of the Muslim world. Nothing could be further from the truth. From the perspective of medieval Christians, Muslims were the enemies of Christ and His Church. It was the Crusaders� task to defeat and defend against them. That was all. Muslims who lived in Crusader-won territories were generally allowed to retain their property and livelihood, and always their religion. Indeed, throughout the history of the Crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem, Muslim inhabitants far outnumbered the Catholics. It was not until the 13th century that the Franciscans began conversion efforts among Muslims. But these were mostly unsuccessful and finally abandoned. In any case, such efforts were by peaceful persuasion, not the threat of violence. Read the whole thing - about three pages and very interesting and well written...

Light blogging until December

Entries on this blog will be few and far-between from now through December 2nd. I will be onboard a ship all day tomorrow doing some electronics and then we are heading up to our property this weekend. This sunday, we will be flying off to the island of Kauai'i with my Mom and Dad for a Thanksgiving holiday. Have the best of holidays all of you and see you upon our return! Dave

Ethanol fuel - Government Corn industry subsidy

from Reason magazine bq. The new subsidies to produce ethanol from corn are a classic example of "log-rolling." They are designed to bribe important Democratic lawmakers into voting for the whole energy bill. And it's apparently working�Senator Thomas Daschle (D-SD) and Senator Byron Dorgan (D-ND), both of whom hail from corn producing states, say they will vote for it . But perhaps one can make the case that ethanol is a good deal for the economy and the environment? After all ethanol is a "renewable fuel" that displaces oil imported from the unstable Middle East and helps clear the air, right? bq. On the pro-ethanol side, a 2002 U.S. Department of Agriculture study found, "Production of corn-ethanol is energy efficient, in that it yields 34 percent more energy than it takes to produce it, including growing the corn, harvesting it, transporting it, and distilling it into ethanol." Of course, one might suspect that USDA may have an interest in finding that agricultural subsidies of any sort are a good thing. bq. What do other experts have to say? Cornell University biologist and fierce ideological environmentalist (and no friend of this author), David Pimentel offers a different analysis. In an article in the June 2003 issue of Natural Resources Research entitled "Ethanol Fuels: Energy Balance, Economics and Environmental Impacts are Negative," Pimentel finds that "about 29 percent more energy is used to produce a gallon of ethanol than the energy in a gallon of ethanol."

Has capitalism failed, or have you?

Excellent article in Reason magazine bq. Last week, Los Angeles Times reporter Mary MacNamara wrote a damply sympathetic, ain't-it-awful column entitled, "An Urban Pioneer's New Claim," about a guy who'd been priced out of Echo Park and forced to rent new digs in Lincoln Heights. For those not familiar with the dizzying altitude L.A. real estate has reached these days, even in locales where polite society often fears to tread, Echo Park is a funky bohemian barrio slightly northwest of downtown, while Lincoln Heights (slightly northeast) is still basically just a barrio�albeit one that realtors and "urban pioneers" hope will soon be funky and bohemian. and it goes on bq. Many people missed out on taking advantage of the L.A. real estate recession through no fault of their own. But others, like Jim Priest in the Times's sad Tale of the Downwardly Mobile Renter, just failed to seize the day. I knew others like him. At around the same time I bought my new house, a friend and his wife went into escrow on a Koreatown duplex, but backed out after encountering "nightmare contractors." The nightmare in question turned out to be a contractor who showed up a little late to give an estimate for repairs. Interesting viewpoint...

Poor 'miss out' on net commerce

from BBC bq. Developing nations are missing out on the economic benefits of e-commerce warns a report from the United Nations. It said that poverty, poor health, illiteracy and slow net links deprived many nations of the advantages enjoyed by more advanced economies. bq. The report said that e-commerce was a powerful force for development that poorer nations should embrace. bq. It said it can help boost economies, create jobs and even help farmers find better markets for what they produce. it goes on bq. The report revealed that at the end of last year, 32% of the world's 591 million net users lived in the developing world. A year earlier, developing nations accounted for 28% of these users. bq. But this still means that net users remain rare in poorer nations. In Nigeria, for instance, only 17 out of every 10,000 inhabitants are online. bq. The picture is even bleaker when statistics for who produces net content are considered. bq. Unsurprisingly, North America dominates accounting for 75% of all internet hosts. By contrast the figure for Africa is 0.2%. One can also look at it in the light of all the government corpution and cronyism there between many of the African nations and various European nations. These people get rich while stripmining their countries and people and only provide the most basic of services. Where is the infrastructure? Who in the Ivory Coast was responsible for putting PCs in schools and wiring DSL out to the villages...

Phil Spector charged with murder

from BBC bq. Record producer Phil Spector has been charged with murder in the shooting death of a woman at his home. bq. B-movie actress Lana Clarkson was found at Mr Spector's mansion in Alahambra, Los Angeles, on 3 February, with a fatal gun shot wound to her face. bq. Mr Spector, who denies murder, was arrested shortly afterward and freed on $1m bail.

Protests in London

from BBC bq. Thousands of people have taken to the streets in London to protest against George W Bush and the war on Iraq. bq. Organisers claim more than 150,000 have joined the march in central London, although police put the figure closer to 70,000. To put this in perspective: also from the BBC bq. Around 400,000 people from across the country have marched through central London to highlight the needs of rural communities. bq. Crowds were so big it took people queuing at the start of the official route more than six hours to filter through, according to police. and what was the primary complaint of these 400,000 people? bq. The main focus of the protest is opposition to a ban on hunting with dogs in England and Wales, but a wide range of other grievances from rural communities are also being linked with the demonstration.
from the UK Independent bq. The growing craze for high protein, low carbohydrate slimming regimes such as the Atkins diet is threatening the market for one of the staple foods of the West - bread. bq. Consumption of bread plummeted in America in the past year with an estimated 40 per cent of Americans eating less than in 2002. The US bread industry is to hold a crisis "bread summit" tomorrow to discuss measures to curb falling sales. In Britain, the Federation of Bakers launched a promotional campaign last month to counter the Atkins effect. British Bread month was advertised with the slogan "Use your loaf, have another slice."

25 Science gift ideas

from Scientific American - their 25 Science gift ideas for 2003

Ten things to do if the Internet goes down...

from The Toque Includes a good use for those omnipresent AOL disks...

new crop of Viruses and MalWare

CNN has a very good writeup on the new crop of MalWare (Spyware, Viruses, Trojans, Worms, etc...) coming out. bq. "The good old days of script kiddies and geeks are well gone," said Pete Simpson, manager of Clearswift's ThreatLab division. "These are criminal gangs, and the motive is clearly profit." Nasty stuff. Again, do not open an attachment unless you verified that the sender sent it to you. Do not visit the site of any eCards, no matter how 'cute' they are.

FirstEnergy Blamed for Blackout in Report

from Yahoo/AP bq. The nation's worst blackout should have been contained by operators at Ohio's FirstEnergy Corp., a three-month U.S. and Canadian investigation concluded on Wednesday. The investigators also faulted Midwest regional monitors. bq. In their report, they said the company's operators were inadequately trained and computer problems in its Akron, Ohio, control room kept them from recognizing immediately that problems on three lines were causing the Midwest grid to become unstable. More in the article: bq. It was the worst blackout in the nation's history, costing at least $6 billion in economic and other losses. bq. The task force said there was no indication of tampering and that computer viruses weren't involved. Investigators early on dismissed the notion of a terrorism link. bq. But the report found that FirstEnergy, the nation's fourth largest utility holding company with 4.3 million customers, had violated four industry grid reliability standards. It also said that MISO, the regional grid monitor, had violated several rules in connection with the blackout.

Wonderful children's toys...

Available for sale in Gaza and Ramallah Thanks to the Strategy Page ROPMA

Pres. Bush's Speech at Whitehall

from the Whitehouse official website bq. The last President to stay at Buckingham Palace was an idealist, without question. At a dinner hosted by King George V, in 1918, Woodrow Wilson made a pledge; with typical American understatement, he vowed that right and justice would become the predominant and controlling force in the world. bq. President Wilson had come to Europe with his 14 Points for Peace. Many complimented him on his vision; yet some were dubious. Take, for example, the Prime Minister of France. He complained that God, himself, had only 10 commandments. (Laughter.) Sounds familiar. (Laughter.) bq. At Wilson's high point of idealism, however, Europe was one short generation from Munich and Auschwitz and the Blitz. Looking back, we see the reasons why. The League of Nations, lacking both credibility and will, collapsed at the first challenge of the dictators. Free nations failed to recognize, much less confront, the aggressive evil in plain sight. And so dictators went about their business, feeding resentments and anti-Semitism, bringing death to innocent people in this city and across the world, and filling the last century with violence and genocide. bq. Through world war and cold war, we learned that idealism, if it is to do any good in this world, requires common purpose and national strength, moral courage and patience in difficult tasks. And now our generation has need of these qualities. Good speech...
from Yahoo/AP news: bq. ISTANBUL, Turkey - Authorities arrested six people Wednesday in connection with the suicide bombings of two Istanbul synagogues as opposition leaders accused Turkey's government of being too lenient toward Muslim radicals. bq. The suspects include relatives of two suspected accomplices in the bombings, the Anatolia news agency said. A Turkish court charged five with "attempting to overthrow the constitutional structure," which carries a sentence of life imprisonment. A sixth person was charged with "helping illegal organizations," punishable by five years in prison, Anatolia said. bq. No trial date has been set. also: bq. About 130 Islamic militants who belonged to the Hezbollah, which is not linked to the Lebanon-based group with the same name, have been released in southeastern Turkey under the amnesty, a judiciary official said Wednesday. Scores of others were expected to be released, too.

New agressive virus

from Counterpane bq. On Thursday November 13, 2003 Counterpane was made aware of a new malicious email downloader in the wild. bq. The email arrives as an e-card from with the following header information: bq. User's name : An Admirer Email Address : bq. The body of the email instructs users to visit a URL that actually redirects to: bq. http:// www. idownline. com/ members/ idownline bq. The spaces are inserted to prevent parsing by email programs while reading this notice. bq. If users go to the link in the email, the page spawns another connection to a second web page that then loads three other HTML files: bq. - - SPY.HTM - - S.HTM - - IN.HTM bq. The files use an exploit to download and overwrite additional system files (notepad.exe) which result in the downloading of the Trojan.Naldem. Be careful with this - you don't need to actually open an attachment, just visit that web site. Treat ALL eCards with suspicion...

Interview with Bill Joy

in Wired magazine Some great sound-bytes: bq. I've always said that all successful systems were small systems initially. Great, world-changing things - Java, for instance - always start small. The ideal project is one where people don't have meetings, they have lunch. The size of the team should be the size of the lunch table. bq. Open source is fine, but it doesn't take a worldwide community to create a great operating system. Look at Ken Thompson creating Unix, Stephen Wolfram writing Mathematica in a summer, James Gosling in his office making Java. Now, there's nothing wrong with letting other people help, but open source doesn't assist the initial creative act. What we need now are great things. I don't need to see the source code. I just want a system that works. bq. We don't need a lot of economic growth to address the problem of the world's poor. We put subsistence farmers out of business because that's our choice. Clean water would do more to alleviate disease than high tech medicine.

Sun sheds its skin and flips

from RedNova bq. Research with the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) spacecraft has revealed the process that may implement the reversal in the direction of the Sun's magnetic field that is known to occur every 11 years. bq. This newly recognized factor in the Sun's magnetic flipping is the cumulative effect of more than a thousand huge eruptions called Coronal Mass Ejections (CMEs). bq. The CMEs blast billions of tons of electrified gas into space, carrying away the Sun's old magnetic field and allowing a new one with a flipped orientation to form. bq. Reversal of the solar magnetic field is a major event in the Sun's 11-year cycle of stormy activity, when the Sun goes from quiet to active and back again, and the study is the first evidence linking the reversal to CMEs. The article has some links to nice pictures of solar activity and CMEs

Democrat Memos

from Junkyard Blog The Coalition for a Fair Judiciary has a PDF of 29 pages of various memos to Democratic Senators outlining: bq. These memos repeatedly make clear that a small collection of extreme left groups -- abortion groups, race organizations, labor unions and leftist groups specifically focused on judges -- are driving the Democrats' agenda and decisions. These groups tell Senate Democrats whom to attack and vote down, when to hold hearings on which nominee, how many hearings to hold and rules ofr allowing floor votes. The memos even indicate that the groups persuaded Democrats to delay nominations in order to affect pending cases. It will be interesting to see how well this gets covered in the media.

Are the Days of 32-Bit Chips Numbered?

from PC World bq. Advanced Micro Devices will probably stop producing 32-bit processors by the end of 2005, a senior AMD executive predicts. bq. "I think it will be in the '05 timetable. Late '05," said Marty Seyer, the vice president and general manager of AMD's Microprocessor Business Unit. He was speaking during a panel discussion on AMD's 64-bit processors at the Comdex show here. bq. Seyer added the caveat that AMD intends to keep selling 32-bit chips "literally as long as customers want them." But as the price of AMD's 64-bit Opteron and Athlon 64 processors drop, customers will have less reason to purchase 32-bit processors, he said. bq. Though the majority of AMD shipments are 32-bit processors today, its new 64-bit chips are designed to also run 32-bit applications without taking a hit in performance. Interesting... There are still a lot of 8-bit chips being used in embedded applications (the 8051 is still widely used after more than ten years in production) but for desktops, this is definitley the path.

U.S. tech job losses slow in 2003

from Infoworld bq. Although job losses continue to hit the U.S. technology sector, the rate of the employment decline is slowing, the American Electronics Association (AEA) said Wednesday. bq. Cyberstates 2003, an annual study by the AEA, showed that employment in the U.S. high-tech industry dropped 8 percent last year, to 6 million, from 6.5 million in 2001. In 2003, the loss is likely to be 234,000, or a 4 percent decline, Santa Clara, California-based association said. bq. Electronics manufacturing saw the biggest fall in 2002, accounting for more than half of all technology jobs lost. The software industry saw a loss of 150,000 jobs, the first loss in the seven years that AEA has been publishing its Cyberstates report, it said. bq. The only areas with good news to report was in research and development and testing laboratories, where employment increased by 7,000 jobs in 2002, AEA said. And of course manufacturing is going to be the slowest recovery since that is the job that is going overseas.

SCO keynote address at the CD Expo conference

from Infoworld bq. Citing WIPO data, McBride said that the value of the worldwide software market would approach $229 billion by 2007, and that it was being threatened by the ideas behind the Free Software Foundation's GPL, the software license that governs Linux. bq. "The world, especially here in America, is shifting to one that is an information society," McBride said. "In the future, is that $229 billion in software still going to be there? Or in the case of the Free Software Foundation's goal, is proprietary software going to go away?" bq. McBride likened the notion of free software to a variety of movements including file sharing, the dot-com bubble, and even free love. He predicted that the proprietary and open-source worlds were on a "collision course," that would ultimately result in the end of the GPL license. bq. IBM Corp. was to blame for the threat to the GPL because it had raised the issue of GPL violations in an August lawsuit against SCO, McBride said. That suit was filed in response to a lawsuit filed by SCO against IBM in March that claimed IBM's contributions to the Linux operating system violated IBM's Unix license. Would you like a nice glass of WHINE to go with that???

IBM Teraflop in a box

IBM recently announced a new supercomputer. bq. IBM today announced that a computer roughly the size of a 30-inch television has been ranked as the 73rd most powerful supercomputer in the world. bq. Next week the Top500 Supercomputer project will announce its latest ranking of the 500 most powerful supercomputers, as measured by an industry-standard benchmark. With a peak speed of 2 teraflops (2 trillion mathematical operations per second), an initial small-scale prototype of IBM's Blue Gene/L supercomputer has been rated as a world-leader, even though it occupies a mere half-rack of space, about one cubic meter. bq. The full Blue Gene/L machine, which is being built for the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California, will be 128 times larger, occupying 64 full racks. When completed in 2005, IBM expects Blue Gene/L to lead the Top500 supercomputer list. Compared with today's fastest supercomputers, it will be six times faster, consume 1/15th the power per computation and be 10 times more compact than today's fastest supercomputers.

article on Solar Activity

nice article in Kuro5hin on Solar Activity bq. What's up with the Sun? Scientists are usually fairly reliable with predicting solar activity. We're supposed to be in the second waning period of an 11-year solar cycle. Instead of decreasing, though, the activity on the gaseous giant around a million times the size of planet Earth is increasing. bq. Solar flares are currently measured with three classes using a logarithmic scale; C-class (little no no effect on Earth), M-class (medium strength) and X-class. The latter and strongest class of solar flare ranges in intensity from X1 to X20. One of the biggest solar flares occured in 1859. An X18 class in March of 1989 was the second largest. That is, until the last couple of months. bq. After building up in October with an X18 magnitude solar flare, on November 4, we witnessed the largest solar flare since we've been studying them closely. The coronal ejection temporarily blinded the machines taking the images. Using the amount of time that the satellites were out of commission, scientists are now estimating a magnitude anywhere from X27 to X40+. Lots of links too - good stuff...

Kyoto Protocol

from the Montreal Gazette bq. The Kyoto Protocol's short and unhappy life has come to an end, though some of its die-hard supporters refuse to admit it. From the outset, it was flawed in principle. It has proven unworkable in practice. No one should mourn its passing. bq. The Kyoto Protocol, an international agreement designed to stave off the threat of perceived human-induced global warming, was born out of fear in 1997. more bq. For example, assuming all the parties to Kyoto met their greenhouse gas reduction goals, global temperature would be an insignificant one-half of one degree cooler than it would have been without the treaty. bq. Indeed, if greenhouse-gas emissions from developed countries fell to zero - a goal no one has seriously proposed - atmospheric greenhouse-gas concentrations would continue to increase because fast-growing countries such as China, India, South Korea and Indonesia are exempt from emissions cuts. According to the International Energy Agency, as much as 85 per cent of the projected increase in the next two decades in carbon-dioxide emissions will come from countries and regions exempt from the proposed treaty.

Europe backs Stem Cell research

from New Scientist bq. The European Parliament has backed the public funding of research on stem cells extracted from human embryos. The proposal would also allow medical research on human cells cloned using the same technique by which Dolly the cloned sheep was created. bq. The issue has caused controversy wherever it has been considered in the world. Supporters of the research say it holds unrivalled promise of new medical treatments for diseases such as Parkinson's and diabetes. Opponents say the destruction of human embryos involved is ethically unacceptable. This is a very good thing...

Warrent out for Michael Jackson

from the Rolling Stone bq. Tuesday, the same day that seventy Santa Barbara County sheriff's deputies and district Attorney's office investigators swarmed Michael Jackson's Neverland Ranch with search warrants, officials also reportedly issued an arrest warrant for Jackson.

Intruder in Buckingham Palace

from the Toronto Star bq. Newspaper reporter infiltrates staff, puts chocolates on presidential pillow. bq. A British newspaper reporter infiltrated Buckingham Palace ahead of U.S. President George W. Bush's state visit, using a fake reference to get job on the royal staff, and was assigned to serve members of Bush's party in an embarrassing breach of security revealed today. bq. The Daily Mirror reporter said he quit the royal staff the night before he was to bring breakfast to U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell and National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice on their first morning at the palace. Whoops...


Sea Slug Forum here Beautiful critters...

Book covers

Paul Krugman's new book - The Great Unraveling has one cover for the USA market and one cover for the UK market. USA here UK here from QandO

U.N. and world's poor

from the Washington Times bq. The United Nations is supposed to be a watchdog of human rights, but it needs watching itself. It has been denying people, especially the poor, the right to feed themselves, buy from others and use their land as they wish. The inhabitants of less developed countries are literally dying as a consequence. bq. Not through happenstance, but systematically, the United Nations has been sacrificing science, technology and sound public policy to its own bureaucratic self-interest, thereby obstructing technological innovation that could help the poorest of the poor.

more on Sunspots

from SpaceWeather bq. Giant sunspots 486 and 488, which caused so much intense space weather last month, have been transiting the farside of the sun since Nov. 4th. Now they're back. The pair are emerging over the sun's eastern limb where they can once again direct explosions toward Earth. Meanwhile, sunspot 484 near the middle of the solar disk has developed a complex magnetic field that harbors energy for X-class solar flares. Strong solar activity is possible in the days ahead.

MSN Newsbot (beta)

Microsoft''s effort at news aggregation (think Google news) is online here at the U.K. branch of MSN. Looks pretty good.

500 lashes for marying too soon...

| 1 Comment
from LGF - ArabNews: bq. A Jizan court has sentenced a young woman to 500 lashes for allegedly spending time alone with a young man and marrying him hours after divorcing her former husband, Al-Madinah reported on Sunday. bq. According to the court ruling, the groom will also get 500 lashes while the mazoun who married them will get 30 lashes for violating Shariah rules. bq. The woman was on bad terms with her former husband and entered into a romantic relationship with the young man. But under Shariah, she was required to wait for three months before marrying another man, the paper said. Religion of Peace My Ass - The previous marriage was "on bad terms" and she wanted to marry the new guy so it's not like she was playing around...

Michael Jackson "arrest warrant issued"

from Reuters bq. ...and a broadcast report has said officers are also carrying an arrest warrant for the pop superstar. bq. "The Jackson's family attorney has confirmed that the Santa Barbara County Sheriff has issued an arrest warrant for Michael Jackson," NBC Television reported on Wednesday.

HealthSouth Corp. fraud case

from Yahoo news: bq. Five workers who made false accounting entries during a huge fraud at HealthSouth Corp. kept silent out of fear after realizing the company was buying guns, grenades and spy equipment, according to testimony Wednesday at the first sentencing in the case. bq. Emery Harris, a former assistant controller at the Birmingham-based health care giant, said he and four subordinates facing prison time and hefty fines were afraid to report what was going on to authorities. bq. The fear intensified as they saw invoices coming in for weapons, small cameras hidden in plants, car-tracking devices and disguises with wigs, Harris said. more: bq. One manager ordered numbers faked after a meeting with executives, including then-CEO Richard Scrushy, Harris said. But Harris testified he got orders to falsify numbers from managers other than Scrushy, who has since been fired. And now Richard M Scrushy's story: bq. In its never-ending effort to convert allegations of accounting fraud into a dime-store novel, the United States prosecutors now claim, incredibly, that HealthSouth ran its own private militia. bq. At his sentencing hearing yesterday, government cooperator Emery Harris testified that during his employment at HealthSouth, he saw invoices for hand grenades, automatic weapons, and other munitions. Harris claims that despite his purported moral qualms, he continued to participate in a fraud at HealthSouth because he feared violent retaliation by HealthSouth management. more: bq. Think about it: Machine guns and hand grenades cannot be purchased at Wal-Mart or over the Internet. In fact, they cannot be purchased legally in the United States at all, without a lengthy and complicated application and registration process through the federal government. Interesting to see what develops...

More Pinter bloviation...

He introduces N. Chomsky at a conference in 2002: His website does not have the courtesy of permalinks so you need to go to the main site, scroll down and look tn the right for New Additions: Noam Chomsky Introduction (Dec 2002) bq. The Kurdish Human Rights Project 10th Anniversary Lecture given by Noam Chomsky at St Paul's Cathedral on 9th December 2002 bq. Introduction by Harold Pinter bq. It's a great honour to introduce Noam Chomsky. In February of this year the publisher, Faith Tas was charged, under Article 8 of Turkey's anti terrorism law, with publishing 'propaganda against the indivisible unity of country, nation and the state republic of Turkey'. The book in question was "American Interventionism" by Noam Chomsky. Professor Chomsky flew to Istanbul and petitioned the court to be named as co-defendant and to be tried along side Mr Tas. The prosecutor dropped the charges and Mr Tas was acquitted. This was a remarkable thing for a man to do and only a remarkable man could have done it. bq. Professor Chomsky has never ceased to call attention to the persecution of the Kurdish people in Turkey, a systematic persecution generally and disgracefully ignored by the western media. bq. He also reminds us that Turkish repression of the civil rights of the Kurdish people has always been fully supported and subsidised by the United States and that the arms trade between Britain and Turkey flourishes. bq. Noam Chomsky is the leading critical voice against the criminal regime now running the United States, a regime which is in fact a dangerous monster out of control. bq. But he will not be bullied. He will not be intimidated. He is a fearless, formidable, totally independent voice. He does something which is really quite simple but highly unusual. He tells the truth. bq. Harold Pinter So Chomsky is in favor of the Kurds but when the U.S. actually went in and freed them, this was horrible opression. To quote from an interview of Chomsky: (this requires you to have a free NY Times resgisration - Scroll down...) bq. Have you ever been psychoanalyzed? bq. I do not think psychoanalysis has a scientific basis. If we can't explain why a cockroach decides to turn left, how can we explain why a human being decides to do something? bq. How would you explain your large ambition? bq. I am driven by many things. I know what some of them are. The misery that people suffer and the misery for which I share responsibility. That is agonizing. We live in a free society, and privilege confers responsibility. bq. If you feel so guilty, how can you justify living a bourgeois life and driving a nice car? bq. If I gave away my car, I would feel even more guilty. When I go to visit peasants in southern Colombia, they don't want me to give up my car. They want me to help them. Suppose I gave up material things -- my computer, my car and so on -- and went to live on a hill in Montana where I grew my own food. Would that help anyone? No. bq. Have you considered leaving the United States permanently? bq. No. This is the best country in the world. (emphasis mine) Read the entire article in context...

Human rights violations in Iraq

by the N.Y. Times... From Instapundit who found it on Healing Iraq (written by an Iraqi native) In a letter to Arthur Sulzberger: bq. My family has a property in the green zone in down town Baghdad on Abi-Nuas street. The New York Times rents the adjacent property. For several weeks now my brother Ali Al Ali has been denied automobile access to our property by security guards. Until two days ago we thought this was a coalition security measure. Now we known these guards are not coalition personal but are instead the private security force employed by your news paper. bq. The family property has two store fronts. Yesterday (Saturday November 15, 2003) my brother and two hired men were in one of the stores installing shelves. My brother lost his livelihood in the war and needs to open this store to make a living. His efforts were interrupted by several of the security guards employed by your paper. He was knocked roughly to the floor and threatened. Your guards pointed there AK-47 rifles and my brother and his work men and told them they would be shot if they did not leave immediately. bq. I feel sure if learned the United States Army was responsible an incident such as this you would feel obligated to publish the story and condemn the act. bq. In this his case I respectfully suggest you have an obligation to do somewhat more. UPDATE: Finally was able to get into his website (Blogger is not the choice to make if you need high-access to your site) and here is the actual text of the letter. Context is the same but the wording is a bit stronger (more acurate)... Help Ghaydaa Ghaydaa an Iraqi friend of mine living in the US has a brother in Baghdad who has been denied access to his family stores and property on Abu Nuwas street near the Palestine hotel because of the roadblocks placed to protect the NY times and Reuters offices. He desperately needs the income from renting these stores. He tried sueing the NY times at an Iraqi court in Karradah but with no success. Ghaydaa has been sending email and snail mail to the NY times for weeks and nobody even cared to reply. Here is a copy of the letter she sent to them: bq. Arthur Sulzberger bq. Chairman and Publisher bq. The New York Times bq. November 15, 2003 bq. Dear Sir: bq. I am writing you on an issue of immediate concern. bq. My name is Ghayda Al Ali. While I am from Iraq, I am currently visiting the United States. As you can understand I am very interested in events back home. There is a most disturbing situation there which you should be aware of as your paper is an involved party. bq. My family has a property in the green zone in down town Baghdad on Abi-Nuas street. The New York Times rents the adjacent property. For several weeks now my brother Ali Al Ali has been denied automobile access to our property by security guards. Until two days ago we thought this was a coalition security measure. Now we known these guards are not coalition personal but are instead the private security force employed by your news paper. bq. The family property has two store fronts. Yesterday (Saturday November 15, 2003) my brother and two hired men were in one of the stores installing shelves. My brother lost his livelihood in the war and needs to open this store to make a living. His efforts were interrupted by several of the security guards employed by your paper. He was knocked roughly to the floor and threatened. Your guards pointed there AK-47 rifles and my brother and his work men and told them they would be shot if they did not leave immediately. bq. I feel sure if learned the United States Army was responsible an incident such as this you would feel obligated to publish the story and condemn the act. bq. In this his case I respectfully suggest you have an obligation to do somewhat more. bq. My family needs full use of its lawful property. This means no interference of any type to access to the building. Your guards also block access of potential customers to this business location. While mindful of the security requirements of your Baghdad employees I believe they do not completely supercede our legal right to use our property. bq. I hope this is a simple misunderstanding that you can correct quickly. My family hopes yet to have The New York Times as a good neighbor. I urge you to contact me or my brother quickly as an indication of your good faith. I can be reached at the email address Ask for Ghayda (pronounced Ride-dah). I will provide an email address for my brother upon hearing from you. bq. I will follow up this email with a letter to your office sent by United States Postal Service. bq. Please look into this matter quickly. bq. Sincerely, bq. Ghayda Al Ali Please help my friend by sending as many copies of this letter to the morons at NY times until they notice and do something about it. If they want to be protected they should choose a safe building elsewhere and not block streets downtown and prevent Iraqis from using their properties by force. I am so indignated to hear about this and so should you be. Please help us do something about it. I will be doing this tomorrow (Wednesday 19th) - anyone else? Dave

The 123 of digital imaging e-book 2.0

from DP Review bq. Vincent Bockaert has today announced the latest version of his excellent 'The 123 of digital imaging Interactive e-book'. The new e-book appears to be far more than a simple upgrade, the e-book now covers even more software including Adobe Photoshop CS and Photoshop Album 2.0 (as well as keeping content for Photoshop 7 and Album 1.0). The layout and control of the e-book has also been improved as a result of user feedback. Building on the previous version this e-book is probably the most comprehensive guide you'll ever need for the most in-depth knowledge of digital imaging and digital photography. Available as a download or packaged CD-ROM. $40 - they have a trial version, I'll be looking at that. UPDATE: The demo is just a bunch of static pictures, nothing interactive. Slide show. I realize that making a limited interactive demo would be a major effort but still, you do want people to buy this don't you? I am passing - looks like good info but nothing that I have not already dug up from other sources...

Frederick Forsyth's letter to G.W.B.

from Instapundit printed in the Guardian Letters to the Editor. bq. Dear Mr President, bq. Today you arrive in my country for the first state visit by an American president for many decades, and I bid you welcome. bq. You will find yourself assailed on every hand by some pretty pretentious characters collectively known as the British left. They traditionally believe they have a monopoly on morality and that your recent actions preclude you from the club. You opposed and destroyed the world's most blood-encrusted dictator. This is quite unforgivable. bq. I beg you to take no notice. The British left intermittently erupts like a pustule upon the buttock of a rather good country. Seventy years ago it opposed mobilisation against Adolf Hitler and worshipped the other genocide, Josef Stalin. bq. It has marched for Mao, Ho Chi Minh, Khrushchev, Brezhnev and Andropov. It has slobbered over Ceausescu and Mugabe. It has demonstrated against everything and everyone American for a century. Broadly speaking, it hates your country first, mine second. bq. Eleven years ago something dreadful happened. Maggie was ousted, Ronald retired, the Berlin wall fell and Gorby abolished communism. All the left's idols fell and its demons retired. For a decade there was nothing really to hate. But thank the Lord for his limitless mercy. Now they can applaud Saddam, Bin Laden, Kim Jong-Il... and hate a God-fearing Texan. So hallelujah and have a good time. bq. Frederick Forsyth Novelist Couple of other good ones... The Loony Left is out in force.

Yet another DVD 'standard'

from AP/Excite news bq. Seeking to compete on its own terms in the lucrative entertainment industry, China announced a government-funded project Tuesday to promote an alternative to DVDs and "attack the market share" of the global video format. bq. The rollout of the long-planned project, known as EVD, or enhanced versatile disc, was timed to coincide with the beginning of what China calls the "golden sales" period - known elsewhere as the Christmas shopping season. bq. EVD would give Chinese manufacturers and technology consortiums a homegrown platform to sell and build on. It also is aimed at relieving Chinese DVD producers from paying licensing fees to the companies that hold patents to the DVD format. Yeah - just what we need, another standard... There is one coming out called Blu-Ray that looks really good - it uses the shorter wavelength of a blue laser to pack more data onto a disk very similar to DVD - this gives 27GB storage on a disk (about 13 hours of standard TV and 2+ hours of HDTV) Blu-Ray is currently supported by Hitachi, LG, Mitsubishi, Panasonic, Pioneer, Philips, Samsung, Sharp, Sony, and Thomson and Sony has already announced a Pro-sumer grade recorder for under $4K (DVD recorders first hit the Pro-sumer market at $10K) Hello China??? Anybody listening over there???

Salmon runs in Northwest

Conference in Portland Oregon bq. Northwest salmon are returning in record numbers. On September 11th, 45,884 chinook set a one-day return record at Bonneville Dam. In the four days 11-14, half as many salmonids (230,000) came over that dam as crossed it in the entire 1995 season (460,000). What do records mean for future runs and conservation programs? bq. The public has been told and has come to expect that Northwest salmon are a "declining resource." But runs are not acting out a destiny of decline. Has salmon recovery come to pass? No one knows. But common sense suggests that record runs mean it's time to take stock of recovery programs and discuss new directions and possibilities. That's the purpose of this public service conference and forum.

Eliminate from your systems and archives DV115

From The Best of the Web CNN bq. Editors, Photo Editors, Librarians, eliminate from your systems and archives DV115 transmitted Nov. 17, 2003, due to obscene gesture. (AP Photos/New York) And here is the picture in question: iraq_dv115.jpg Given the treatment of the soldiers by the press over there, this is not a surprise.

More E.U. budget woes

from the Telegraph bq. The European Union is failing to keep track of huge annual subsidies, and 91 per cent of its budget is riddled with errors or cannot be verified, a financial watchdog said yesterday. bq. The European Court of Auditors refused to certify EU accounts for the ninth successive year, saying Brussels has failed to match reform rhetoric with a genuine change of culture. Abuse is said to be endemic in the Common Agricultural Policy, which still consumes almost half the �65 billion budget. bq. Checks on subsidy claims for suckler cows found that 50.2 per cent of animals in Portugal and 31.2 per cent in Italy were false. The "error rate" in forage and crop acreage was 89.7 per cent in Luxembourg, 42.9 per cent in Sweden, 34.5 per cent in France and 19.2 per cent in Britain, despite increased use of satellite photography to spot fraud. more: bq. The court suggested that EU staff were abusing the disability system on a large scale, costing taxpayers �54 million a year. Half the claimants had psychological or stress-related complaints. A court official said: "These are not coal miners or deep-sea fishermen. It's not normal for so many to retire for ill-health."

Double-barreled Cannon

from Wired bq. The world's only double-barreled cannon is now proudly displayed on the lawn of the Athens City Hall, about a hundred miles off Route 1. It is a monument to every geek who ever had what seemed to be a really good idea at the time. bq. Built for $350, the cannon was cast in Athens in one piece, with a 3-degree divergence between its almost-parallel double barrels. The idea was to connect two cannonballs with a chain and fire them simultaneously in order to, according to a plaque that now stands near the cannon, "mow the enemy down like scythe cuts wheat." more: bq. According to the official report, printed on the cannon's plaque: "It was tested in a field on the Newton's Bridge Road against a target of upright poles. With both balls rammed home and the chain dangling from the twin muzzles, the piece was fired; but the lack of precise simultaneity caused uneven explosion of the propelling charges, which snapped the chain and gave each ball an erratic and unpredictable trajectory." bq. Unofficial contemporaneous reports describe a far more chaotic scene, with both balls circling madly around each other after they were fired from the cannon. bq. Screaming spectators ducked and covered as the twinned, spinning projectiles plowed through a nearby wood and destroyed a cornfield before the chain connecting the balls broke. One of the cannonballs then collided into and killed a cow; the other demolished the chimney of a nearby home. Oopsie...
from the Guardian bq. Viewers have been puzzling over JMW Turner's singular vision of the world for over 200 years. bq. Now an opthalmic surgeon is suggesting that there is no mystery; Turner, suffering from early, slight colour-blindness and later cataracts, was painting exactly what he saw. bq. The debate over Turner's eyesight has been revived by the argument over a battered pair of Victorian spectacles, to be auctioned at Sotheby's next week. They are claimed as Turner's, but are a completely different prescription from those on view at Tate Britain. bq. Consultant opthalmic surgeon James McGill has been studying Turner's work for years, and sees a potential patient for surgery which could have changed the course of art history. He believes both pairs were Turner's, evidence of his deteriorating eyesight. Regardless, I really like Turner's work. You can see an online gallery here

Powell says Europe Iran resolution inadequate

from the U.K. Reuters bq. "The resolution that I was aware (of) being presented by the EU three was not adequate," Powell said. "It did not have the trigger mechanisms in the case of further Iranian intransigence or difficulty." Geez - he is showing some backbone finally. Maybe things are gettting better at State. UPDATE: Reuters has more

Flu outbreak

from the CDC Looks like this season will be early and bad - if you don't have the flu shot now, be sure to get it soon. Most pharmacies have them for under $20.
from Forbes bq. Howard Dean waved his stethoscope, Joseph Lieberman brought his 89-year-old mother and John Edwards touted his new book to underscore their opposition to a Medicare bill during a Democratic presidential forum on Tuesday. bq. Six of the nine Democrats vying for the right to challenge President George W. Bush in 2004 lambasted the $400 billion, 10-year Republican-crafted measure that adds a prescription drug benefit to the health insurance program for the elderly, but squabbled among themselves over how best to fix it. and ABC News bq. Turning on their host, several of the Democratic presidential candidates scolded the powerful AARP for endorsing a Republican-backed Medicare prescription drug bill that they argued would do long-term damage to the federal program for seniors. bq. Six of the nine candidates participated in the morning forum sponsored by the 35 million-member organization that represents Americans age 50 or older. The AARP's sponsorship didn't stop the Democrats from assailing the bill or the group, which in a boost to the GOP and President Bush on Monday announced its support for the legislation. It goes on: bq. The measure would create a new prescription drug benefit for Medicare beneficiaries beginning in 2006. It also would establish a new role for insurance companies, encouraging them to offer a new private health coverage plan for elderly Americans. bq. The bill creates a political challenge for the Democratic candidates, who would like to provide prescription drug coverage to seniors, a critical voting bloc, but are loath to hand President Bush a legislative victory less than a year before the election. Gee - maybe if the Democrats had some real candidates instead of the seven dwarves that have now, they wouldn't be feeling that sense of eminent panic...

New Supercomputer at NASA

from RedNova This will be interesting to follow since it's a 512-proc single system with NUMA (Non Uniform Memory Access) shared memory. I worked with a group involved in scale-up of systems (cram more and more processors into a box) and it turned out that for most instances, you got much better performance clustering boxes together and splitting the computing into parcels than by trying to run a single instance of the program on one big box. You reached a point where the computer was spending more time trying to figure out what went where than working on the problem. Cost is an issue too - Unisys makes a gorgeous 32-proc system which sells for about $2 mill. for a bare-bones system. You could buy four very nice 8-proc boxes for about $400 K. Plus, if you had a total system failure with one of the boxes, you were still running at 75% capacity until it was repaired...

Nigerian vaccine tests refute contamination claim

from the New Scientist bq. Laboratory tests by Nigerian scientists have dismissed accusations that the polio vaccine given in a mass immunisation campaign in the country is contaminated with anti-fertility hormones and HIV. Here is the money quote: bq. Some Islamic clerics suggested the vaccine is part of a Western plot to depopulate Africa. Fucking fools each and every one of them... We are doing more than they ever will to save the people of Africa and they sit back in their tents and kvetch... Here is what we are working against: bq. Of the 520 cases of polio seen worldwide so far in 2003, nearly half were in Nigeria says Melissa Corkum, information officer for polio at WHO headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland.

Life Imitates Art

from The Onion bq. Mom finds out about Blog bq. "I know enough not to tell Mom that I'm seeing a girl until it's serious," Widmar said. "Now, she's going to know exactly who I hang out with, where I go, and what I spend my time doing on a daily basis. I am so in hell right now." bq. "God, my links alone contain unlimited fodder for Mom's neuroses," Widmar said. "She'll have access to not only my life, but the lives of all my friends who have web sites. She'll have the names of all the places in Minneapolis where we hang out, which she can�and will�look up. With the raw materials in my blog, she could actually construct an accurate picture of who I am. This is fucking serious." Heh...

Formula 1 Racing - Linux

from News Forge bq. Formula 1 racer's secret: 1,000 horsepower and a Linux cluster bq. Aerodynamics are as important to modern Formula 1 race cars as they are to jet fighters. That's why the BMW Williams F1 team turn to a Linux cluster when they need to get a bit more out of their 3-litre, 1,000-horsepower, 1,320-lb. FW25 car. They are using Computational Fluid Dynamics to refine the airodynamics of the body. Cool stuff...

Latest Western Washington weather information

Updated flooding information here Mountain pass reports here These reports are updated several times / day as needed.

Dangers of DiHydrogen Monoxide

| 1 Comment
ran into a web page outlining some of the uses and dangers of this common chemical here Some uses: bq. as an industrial solvent and coolant, in nuclear power plants, by the U.S. Navy in the propulsion systems of some older vessels, by elite athletes to improve performance, in the production of Styrofoam, in biological and chemical weapons manufacture, as a spray-on fire suppressant and retardant, in abortion clinics, as a major ingredient in many home-brewed bombs, as a byproduct of hydrocarbon combustion in furnaces and air conditioning compressor operation, in cult rituals, by the Church of Scientology on their members and their members' families, by both the KKK and the NAACP during rallies and marches, by pedophiles and pornographers (for uses we'd rather not say here), by the clientele at a number of homosexual bath houses in New York City and San Francisco, historically, in Hitler's death camps in Nazi Germany, and in prisons in Turkey, Serbia, Croatia, Libya, Iraq and Iran, in World War II prison camps in Japan, and in prisons in China, for various forms of torture, by the Serbian military as authorized by Slobodan Milosevic in their recent ethnic cleansing campaign, in animal research laboratories, and in pesticide production and distribution. Some other uses: bq. as an additive to food products, including jarred baby food and baby formula, and even in many soups, carbonated beverages and supposedly "all-natural" fruit juices in cough medicines and other liquid pharmaceuticals, in spray-on oven cleaners, in shampoos, shaving creams, deodorants and numerous other bathroom products, in bathtub bubble products marketed to children, as a preservative in grocery store fresh produce sections, in the production of beer by all the major beer distributors, in the coffee available at major coffee houses in the US and abroad, in Formula One race cars, although its use is regulated by the Formula One Racing Commission, and as a target of ongoing NASA planetary and stellar research. Some of the known dangers: bq. Death due to accidental inhalation of DHMO, even in small quantities. Prolonged exposure to solid DHMO causes severe tissue damage. Excessive ingestion produces a number of unpleasant though not typically life-threatening side-effects. DHMO is a major component of acid rain. Gaseous DHMO can cause severe burns. Contributes to soil erosion. Leads to corrosion and oxidation of many metals. Contamination of electrical systems often causes short-circuits. Exposure decreases effectiveness of automobile brakes. Found in biopsies of pre-cancerous tumors and lesions. Often associated with killer cyclones in the U.S. Midwest and elsewhere. Thermal variations in DHMO are a suspected contributor to the El Nino weather effect Read this website to learn more... UPDATE: In today's Dallas Fort-Worth Star-Telegram bq. DALLAS - A 21-year-old student at Southern Methodist University remained hospitalized in critical condition Monday after chugging water in an off-campus competition with fraternity members. bq. Braylon Curry, a pledge with Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity, drank an unknown amount of water from a gallon container early Saturday morning and was hospitalized hours later after becoming dazed and incoherent, Dallas police said. Gotta get Greenpeace involved - this is toxic stuff!

Police raid Neverland

from Reuters bq. Police Search Michael Jackson's California Ranch bq. LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Police swarmed over pop superstar Michael Jackson's opulent Neverland Ranch, near Santa Barbara in central California, on Tuesday as part of an unspecified criminal investigation, police said. bq. A Santa Barbara Sheriff's spokesman said sheriff's deputies and officials from the District Attorney's office went to the sprawling ranch at 8.30 a.m. PST to "serve a search warrant as part of an ongoing criminal investigation." bq. The search was still going on two hours later. bq. Police did not specify the nature of the investigation, but cable channel Court TV said it stemmed from allegations of sexual abuse brought by a 12-year-old boy against the self-styled King of Pop. bq. A spokesman for Jackson was not immediately available for comment and Jackson's whereabouts were not immediately clear. Things are not going well for this guy...

Ghost ships: the scare that never was

from The Independent Update to the item from several days ago regarding the US Navy ships that were sailed over to England to be decomissioned and taken apart for scrap. bq. Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace may have exaggerated dangers of pollution from US vessels bq. Peter Mandelson, the local MP, accused the groups of "colossal misinformation" after personally inspecting the two ships that docked in the north-eastern port last week. And senior government sources pointed out that the ships - continually described as "toxic timebombs" by environmentalists - are in fact "no more toxic than the average car ferry". (emphasis mine) The "toxic cocktail" that the environmentalists were worried about were three items. Asbestos which is toxic if airborne and inhaled but perfectly safe sitting where it is - there are excellent proceedures in place for removal. PCB's - these do cause cancer but they are present only in solid form on the ship - you would have to gnaw on an electrical cable to be affected. (PCB's have excellent electrical properties which made them ideal for insulation, cooling oils, etc... until the health hazards became apparent) and finally, Oil - there are a few tons of oil on each ship that could leak out and pollute the surrounding harbor. Gimme a break!

Kim DuToit is on a roll today

His website is worth checking out at least a couple times week. (So is his wife's) but today he is on a roll... Check it out.

Iraq is not VietNam

excellent essay from Michael J. Totten on Tech Central Station bq. Iraq Is Analogous to� Iraq bq. First of all, Iraq is a lot less violent. More than 58,000 Americans were killed in Vietnam. Since the March 19th invasion of Iraq, we've lost fewer than 400. At the rate this is going it will take more than one hundred years before the two wars are comparable. bq. It's not just a question of scale. Vietnam and Iraq are categorically different animals. bq. Consider terrain. Not all of Vietnam is covered in triple-canopy jungle. But much of it is, and there is no better place for insurgents to hide. bq. Most of Iraq is arid and flat. We can track people and movement from outer space. Our satellites can read license plates. We can see in the dark and strike bunkers from hundreds of miles away. bq. Guerillas and terrorists can hide in cities, but they are widely despised almost everywhere. They are not fish swimming among the people, to use Mao's formulation, as Communist revolutionaries sometimes could. They are more like a snake that eats its own tail. Micheal also has an excellent blog here
from The Register bq. The last secrets of the East German State Security Service (Stasi), torn into shreds and stored in 16,000 brown sacks, may soon be pieced together by a software program developed by the Fraunhofer Institute. bq. On Monday, the Institute said it would take five years to solve the world's biggest jigsaw puzzle electronically. If done by hand, the operation would take several hundred years. bq. After the Berlin Wall fell in 1989, Stasi agents at the Magdeburg archives were ordered by their chief Erich Mielke to destroy tens of thousands of files about (former) Stasi informants and their victims. But the agents were unable to find the transport needed to take away the shredded documents and create a huge bonfire. Fraunhofer is no slouch in the software business - they were one of the major players in the development of the MP3 standard.

SCO admits loosing customer base over Linux Jihad

from The Register bq. But in a filing yesterday the SCO Group gave a strong hint that while it anticipates riches from IP licenses, its current business is falling apart. Deeply embedded in the risks portion of the filing is this statement: bq. "We are informed that participants in the Linux industry have attempted to influence participants in the markets in which we sell our products to reduce or eliminate the amount of our products and services that they purchase. They have been somewhat successful in those efforts and similar efforts and success will likely continue. There is also a risk that the assertion of our intellectual property rights will be negatively viewed by participants in our marketplace and we may lose support from such participants. Any of the foregoing could adversely affect our position in the marketplace and our results of operations. " bq. Which boils down to two admissions. SCO has already lost business from its loyal customer base. And it expects to lose more. Couldn't have happened to a nicer company...

two mroe articles on the new "Mystery Particle"

Epson Develops World's Smallest Flying Microrobot

cool press release from Epson Two counter-rotating rotor blades lifting a 8.9 Gram robot No plans to release a commercial product but still, major props for their R&D team...

486 and 488 are back!!!

Sunspots 486 and 488 have transited the far side of the sun and are now starting their way across again. These are the two that were responsible for so much auroral activity a month ago.

Review of Nikon D2H

Rob Galbraith has a review of the new Nikon D2H digital SLR

Health violations in Fast Food restaurants

MS/NBC hired some people to go around to a number of Fast Food restaurants and check for food violations. Here is what they found Hint - don't eat at Burger King...
The two groups that are campaigning to draft Hillary Clinton to run for president are at odds with each other. They will not speak with each other according to an article in the Washington Post bq. How divided is the race for the Democratic presidential nomination? Even the Draft Hillary movements can't stand each other. bq. "We're avoiding him," says Adam Parkhomenko, the 18-year-old leader of in Arlington, talking about Bob Kunst, leader of Miami Beach-based bq. "I'm avoiding him," says Kunst of Parkhomenko. "The kid is on a total ego trip." bq. Not true, says Parkhomenko. "We wouldn't be in this situation if the guy had just returned my e-mails. And when he finally did, all he wanted was for me to help him to sell bumper stickers." bq. "I'm way too busy for this nonsense," Kunst declares.
from Ha'aretz Daily bq. "The resistance movement (against the U.S. in Iraq) may not be able to remove the U.S. from Iraq within a year, but it will be able to remove Bush, (Defense Secretary Donald) Rumsfeld and (National Security Adviser) Condoleezza Rice, together with their Zionist friends, from the White House," Nasrallah assured his listeners. Nasrallah's scenario requires no deep understanding: Suicide attacks and sabotage operations against the American forces in Iraq will cause American public opinion to turn against the president and not re-elect him, thus bringing about the disappearance of this group of leaders from the White House. Basically calling for the ousting of Bush, Rice and Rummy. Fat chance...

Top Ten Internet Fads

from Kuro5hin bq. 10. Live Customer Service 9. Flash Mobs 8. VoIP (Rounds 1 and 2) Cute

Seven flights of Fancy that Fizzled

from MS/NBC Flying cars, jetpacks, etc...
from the Washington Post The next year or so will be interesting...

Why the antiwar left must confront terrorism

from Salon premium (you have the option to view a display ad and get a free day-pass) bq. Nov. 15, 2003 | More than two years into the Bush administration's lurching war on terror, William Schulz, executive director of Amnesty International USA, is aiming some of his sharpest criticism not at the White House, but at the American political left. His message: Take on the terror threat, or risk irrelevance. bq. War protesters of various stripes, alongside anti-globalization and human rights activists, have staged several large rallies nationwide this year, channeling their anger at the Bush administration through slogans like "No blood for oil," "End the imperialist occupation" and "Regime change begins at home." bq. But in an interview with Salon, Schulz said that the political left has thus far botched a key mission. "There's been a failure to give the necessary attention, analysis and strategizing to the effort to counter terrorism and protect our fundamental right to security," he said. "It's a serious problem." bq. In his new book, "Tainted Legacy: 9/11 and the Ruin of Human Rights," Schulz argues that rising global terrorism requires the left "to rethink some of our most sacred assumptions." A vigorous defense of human and civil liberties, while essential to spreading democracy worldwide, is not enough to stop terrorists from blowing up airplanes or shopping malls, he says. And that presents the left with a problem, because some of the tools needed to fight terror, such as stricter border controls or beefed up intelligence work -- and, perhaps, war against states that support terrorists -- chafe against traditional leftist values. bq. But protecting America's borders as well as its treasured freedoms is a daunting task. There is ample reason to decry (as Amnesty has) the deeply invasive potential of the PATRIOT Act, the secretive rounding up and prolonged detention of more than 1,200 Arabs and Muslims nationwide, and the alleged coercion -- some would call it torture -- of terror suspects by the U.S. government. Of equal concern is Washington's current distaste for multilateral diplomacy, which puts crucial alliances at risk at a time of mounting global turmoil. But it's not enough, Schulz says, to launch defiant rhetoric at a barreling, unilateralist Bush administration, even when its policies threaten to bulldoze the very cornerstones of democracy. bq. He raises some hard questions: If there's reason to believe the New York City subway is a prime terrorist target, should we really object to surveillance cameras in the name of privacy rights, especially if use of the evidence they obtain is limited? If democratic elections would bring a radical Islamist government to power in Pakistan that might distribute nuclear weapons to terrorists, should we still call for democracy there over military rule? The article is worth taking the time to read completely (3 pages)

Here we go again...

Flood warnings for Western Washington

Victor Davis Hanson

Another of his excellent spot-on essays in the National Review bq. Critics now fault an American military that ripped apart Saddam Hussein's army from Kuwait to Kurdistan in three weeks for its apparent inability to restore civilization in the sixth months after the demise of Saddam Hussein's 30-year nightmare. It seems to mean little that fewer combatants have been killed in two years of fighting than were lost in an average week in Vietnam, that deposed enemies like the Taliban and Saddam Hussein were right out of the Dark Ages, that our efforts were incomprehensible without September 11, that we are promoting democracies, not installing tyrannical yes men, and that reconstructing Iraq 7,000 miles away seems to be going more quickly than the rebuilding on the crater in Manhattan. bq. Why? Because we are in a war that is not quite a war, but has an array of baffling rules all its own that we are only slowly grasping.

The Pricing Problem

from Andy Budd's site: bq. Working out a price for a website can be an extremely stressful exercise. If my experiences are anything to go by, most people will email you (and 100 other web designers) asking for a quote with very little or no information to go on. bq. Usually they simply ask... bq. "How much do you charge for a 20 page website." bq. Which is about as helpful as somebody walking into a car dealership and asking, "how much do you charge for a car with 4 doors". If you are lucky they may also throw in a few titbits like... bq. "We'd like something like" bq. Where is either the worlds worst website, or something so huge and expensive you just know they don't have the funds. bq. or bq. "It has to have a flash intro/news ticker/frame based navigation" bq. However you're a professional so you struggle on. You'll try to open a dialogue to extract a few more nuggets of info until you have enough to go on. bq. Then you work up some prices and put together a proposal which can take anything from a few hours to a couple of days. You spend the time because you're a professional and because you want to let your potential client know as much about the web design process and what you do as possible. So true...

Donald Griffin - discovered Bat Echolocation

Donald Griffin passed away this month. The Boston Globe has an obituary.

Mystery noise is fish farts

from Fishing Magic bq. Biologists have linked a mysterious, underwater farting sound to bubbles coming out of a herring's anus. No fish had been known to emit sound from its anus nor to be capable of producing such a high-pitched noise. bq. "It sounds just like a high-pitched raspberry," says Ben Wilson of the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada. Wilson and his colleagues cannot be sure why herring make this sound, but initial research suggests that it might explain the puzzle of how shoals keep together after dark. Heh...

The Saddam Hussein / Osama bin Laden Memo

from Little Green Footballs Since the memo is quite long, I put it in the extended enrty section. Click on the link below to view it - it's worth reading through...

Damning with faint prase

also from BeverageNet Reviews of the Bong Water company's product line: bq. Bong Water Original Chronic is a unique tasting beverage that features whole beer concentrate (no alcohol). We really can't say that we found this beverage to be refreshing -- the flavor is too concocted. Furthermore, we really do not understand the druggie theme. However, we will give them some points for originality -- the beer concentrate is nice as it supposedly has health benefits. bq. Bong Water Cottonmouth Quencher is a unique product with a bitter citrus flavor. We didn't find it to be refreshing -- the flavor is not well defined and just too odd and bitter to be something that we would consume on a regular basis. bq. Bong Water Green Dreams has an odd flavor that we did not enjoy -- it just tastes like a horrible concoction. Even more of a disappointment is the drug theme. Unless we are missing something, this product markets itself with several drug-like themes...a bit tired, in our opinion. bq. Purple Haze is yet another soda from Bong Water - it has a sweet flavor with a slightly bitter finish. It's hard to tell exactly what type of flavor they are going for as it tastes just plain odd. Overall, we did not like the flavor. Not something that we would drink on a regular basis. Memo to R&D - put down the pipe and start doing some marketing surveys...

Turkey and Gravy Soda?

from BeverageNet bq. Seattle, WA, U.S.A. � Jones Soda Co. (the �Company� or �Jones Soda�), announces today that it will introduce a new seasonal flavor in its popular Jones Soda line � Turkey & Gravy flavored beverage. ???

Hunter shot after being mistaken for bear

from The Whig bq. But the 38-year-old nearly became prize game himself when another hunter mistook Mossman for a bear and shot him in the leg. The Kingston man is recovering at home, another victim of the dozens of hunting accidents that happen each year in Canada. bq. It happened on Nov. 3, the first day of the deer season. Mossman, dressed in a bright orange hunting jacket, was at the 600-hectare hunt camp in Griffith, north of Kingston, that he shares with his father and a dozen cousins and friends. (emphasis mine)

Contortionist in MRI machine

from the BBC bq. Doctors have scanned the spine of a stage contortionist in a bid to work out why she is so flexible. bq. The results suggest both genes and intensive training enable the unusual body movements of such performers. bq. The researchers, led by Dr Richard Wiseman, found no evidence of deformed bone structures that might contribute - simply extra-stretchy ligaments. Interesting

Whistling language

from the RedNova news service: bq. Cabello is a "silbador," until recently a dying breed on tiny, mountainous La Gomera, one of Spain's Canary Islands off West Africa. Like his father and grandfather before him, Cabello, 50, knows "Silbo Gomero," a language that's whistled, not spoken, and can be heard more than two miles away. bq. This chirpy brand of chatter is thought to have come over with early African settlers 2,500 years ago. Now, educators are working hard to save it from extinction by making schoolchildren study it up to age 14. A sample is available here

Traffic Jam

from the Canadian National Post bq. The world's largest herd of caribou is using a major highway for its annual migration this year, causing unprecedented traffic tie-ups in Labrador that may last well into next spring. bq. The George River herd, which numbers about 800,000 free-roaming caribou, migrates from the northernmost reaches of Quebec to the Labrador Sea at this time each year, but the final stretch of this year's trek has been dramatically altered by a stretch of unseasonably warm weather. bq. The result is that about 15,000 caribou are routinely stopping traffic along the Trans-Labrador Highway between Churchill Falls and the Ossokmanuan Reservoir.

Marketing 101

from The Media Guardian bq. When Sharwoods launched its latest product range earlier this month, it promised the "deliciously rich" sauces based on a traditional northern Indian method of cooking would "change the way consumers make curry". bq. So confident was Sharwoods that its new Bundh sauces would be a hit that it backed the launch with a huge �6m television advertising campaign created by Labour's advertising agency, TBWA. bq. What it failed to foresee was that "bundh" in Punjabi has an altogether less savoury meaning - the nearest English translation being, to put it bluntly, "arse". Whoops! The Guardian has a link to other advertising gaffes: bq. KFC's "finger lickin' good" slogan was mistranslated in China as "eat your fingers off". bq. The Ford Pinto flopped when it was launched in Brazil. Mystified executives later learned "pinto" is local slang for small genitals. and more

Need I say more

From the wonderful Reader's Sheds website...

The Hubble Space Telescope must die.

from the Washington Post bq. Some of the telescope's systems are showing the effects of 13 years of wear and tear in space. A far more advanced successor is being readied, and NASA officials have long maintained that the Hubble must be retired in a few years to free up money to pay for the newcomer. and bq. At the Friday meeting, the parties agreed to postpone a decision on one of the most contentious issues: whether NASA would consider prolonging the telescope's useful life until 2020, as recommended recently by a prestigious independent panel of top scientists led by John Bahcall of the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton. bq. That would require an extra refurbishing visit by astronauts at an estimated cost of at least $600 million and possibly much more -- money that is not currently contemplated in NASA's budget planning. bq. NASA upset many space scientists by presenting them with a stark choice: Either sacrifice the extra servicing mission for the Hubble or give up many years worth of smaller, fast-response space science missions. Tough call - the new scope will be a lot better but there is a lot of useful work that can still be done with the Hubble...


Billy Bob Thornton is playing Santa Is nothing sacred?

New particle is double trouble for physicists

from New Scientist bq. A mysterious sub-atomic particle has been revealed that does not to fit any of the models currently used by physicists. bq. The discovery either suggests that a new family of molecule-like sub-atomic particles exists, or that theorists must substantially re-think their theory of the masses of sub-atomic particles. COOL!

U.S. takes hard line on Greenpeace

from MS/NBC bq. When Greenpeace activists illegally scrambled aboard the cargo ship APL Jade, it was the start of a pretty typical day. Convinced the ship was hauling contraband mahogany from Brazil, the environmentalists aimed to draw attention to it by unfurling a banner with this message: �President Bush, Stop Illegal Logging.� Their arrests by the Coast Guard were also part of a day�s work. But the later use of an obscure 19th century law to charge the entire organization with criminal conspiracy has Greenpeace defenders claiming that they are the target of U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft�s attempts to stifle political criticism of the government. Awwww... They want things their way and don't want the nasty laws to be used against them. Hey - the law was on the books and they did the deed...

Norfolk & Waay

Our name says it all... bq. Our reputation has been spread across the Internet through usenet newsgroups and other disucussion forums. Whenever someone is looking for a firm that can do the impossible, the answer is always "Norfolk & Waay."

cell phones in Iraq

from Time Magazine bq. When U.S. authorities in Iraq picked three companies last month to build a wireless telephone network for the country, they were pleased that no Americans were among the winners, a fact they hoped would silence those who charge that the Bush Administration is handing reconstruction contracts only to business cronies and campaign contributors. But some telecom-industry insiders complain that the winners of the licenses, which cost just $5 million but could eventually be worth as much as $1 billion a year, benefited from ties to prominent Iraqis on the U.S.-backed Governing Council. The majority partner in the consortium that was awarded the southern-Iraq license, for instance, is Dijla Telecommunications Corporation, a Baghdad outfit headed by Ali Shawkat, the son of Mudhar Shawkat, a senior adviser to Iraqi National Congress President Ahmad Chalabi. Coalition officials and the Shawkats denied to Time that the family's connections were behind the decision to grant Dijla the license. But others contend the deal reeks of cronyism. "The mobile contracts were all politically divided," says an Iraqi emigre who returned as a consultant for a telecom firm. "It's the same as Saddam's time. It's about who you know." Actually, this is a bit more complex than it seems on the surface... There are two basic standards for cell phone technology - CDMA and GSM CDMA is the better of the two by far and is the one used in most of the US. GSM is the one used by 90% of the Arab nations (and Old Europe). GSM was chosen - even though it's faults are known - to match the phone system in use in the area. For a great discussion of the two standards, check out Steven DenBeste's website here

Detective quits race crime job over Nazi shrine

from the Telegraph bq. A detective responsible for investigating race-hate crime, who was exposed by the Telegraph as being married to a British National Party member and living in a shrine to Hitler, has resigned from her post. bq. Dc Linda Daniels, who worked for the community safety unit in Notting Hill, west London, lives in a house in Essex festooned with Nazi regalia and has a dummy in an SS uniform in her hallway. bq. The couple's dog is named Blondi after Hitler's pet alsatian and they used to keep a bust of the dictator next to a picture of Dc Daniels in police uniform. Her husband of 10 years, Keith Beaumont, is a member of the far-Right BNP and believes that the facts of the Holocaust have been "exaggerated". Getting a little close to your work? Sheesh!

mp3's? Send them back

here bq. 1. Look up the email address of your regional RIAA authority (listed in your white pages under "Recording Industry: Regional Authorities) bq. 2. Open up your email program, such as Microsoft Outlook� or Microsoft Outlook Express� bq. 3. Create an email to the email address you found. bq. 4. Attach all the MP3s you're returning. (If you don't know how to attach a file, look in the help file for your email program). bq. 5. Press send. Heh...

Nigerian scam emails - 419

from /. bq. davesag writes "I just came across this fine site, 419Eater, wherin people counter scam the Nigerian 419 scammers that have been plaguing our spam filters for the past few years. The UK paper The Guardian is also running a fine article on this site. The site author, and several other contributors, have taken to responding to the scammers, using obviously fake names and so forth, and then string the scammer along for as long as possible. In many cases they get the scammer to pose for a photograph! Amazingly the scammers are just as gullible and greedy as their typical victims, and fall for the most obvious ruses hook, line, and sinker. 419eater welcomes contributors, so if you ever wanted to get your sweet revenge on these low-lives, here's a channel for you. The 419 refers to the section of the Nigerian criminal code under which such scams fall." We've linked to a few such fraud-baiters before, though few with as amusing a photograph. Heh... These are these wonderful emails that purport to be the relative of some deposed governmental official who has access to $12 million dollars in some bank account... You have read them. Good to see some action against them since these are nasty people if you persue this further and actually try to meet them.
interesting article from excite news bq. BRASILIA, Brazil (AP) - If he is to make good on his promise to improve life for the tens of millions of Brazilians who live in dire poverty, President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva knows that one key challenge is to bridge a massive technology gap. And if that means shunning Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) software in South America's largest country, then so be it. bq. Silva's top technology officer wants to transform the land of samba and Carnival into a tech-savvy nation where everyone from schoolchildren to government bureaucrats uses open-source software instead of costly Windows products. bq. Such a policy makes eminent sense for a developing country where a mere 10 percent of the 170 million people have computers at home and where the debt-laden government is the nation's biggest computer buyer, says Sergio Amadeu, the open-source enthusiast appointed to head Brazil's National Information Techonology Institute by Silva after the president took office this year. bq. Paying software licensing fees to companies like Microsoft is simply "unsustainable economically" when applications that run on the open-source Linux operating system are much cheaper, Amadeu said. Under his guidance, Silva's administration is encouraging all sectors of government to move toward open-source programs, whose basic code is public and freely available.

Interesting approach to MalWare

from e4engineering bq. A computer scientist at Washington University in St. Louis has developed technology to stop malicious software - malware - such as viruses and worms long before it has a chance to reach computers in the home and office. bq. John Lockwood, Ph.D, an assistant professor of computer science at Washington University, and the graduate students that work in his research laboratory have developed a hardware platform called the Field-programmable Port Extender (FPX) that scans for malware transmitted over a network and filters out unwanted data. bq. 'The FPX uses several patented technologies in order to scan for the signatures of malware quickly,' said Lockwood. 'Unlike existing network intrusion systems, the FPX uses hardware, not software, to scan data quickly. The FPX can scan each and every byte of every data packet transmitted through a network at a rate of 2.4 billion bits per second. In other words, the FPX could scan every word in the entire works of Shakespeare in about 1/60th of a second.' Potentially interesting - a link to the original paper is here (PDF)

terrorist bombings in Istanbul

from Instapundit ANKARA BLOGGER KRIS LOFGREN is blogging this morning's horrific synagogue bombings in Istanbul, which are apparently the work of Al Qaeda. Lots of links and photos; just keep scrolling for as long as you can stand it. ROPMA


from News of the World A report on the living conditions in jail of the guy convicted for masterminding the Lockerbie terrorist bomb that killed 270 innocent people. bq. Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al Megrahi was sentenced to life in 2001 for his horrific attack, which blew up a packed Pan Am airliner over a tiny Scottish town. bq. But although caged in one of Britain's toughest jails, our exclusive pictures show the 51-year-old monster occupies a suite with facilities to rival a four-star hotel. bq. They include his own kitchen and shower-room, a sitting room, office, and bedroom with en-suite toilet. bq. His rooms are kitted out with a colour television, video recorder, stereo and personal computer. bq. Prison bosses have even piped Arabic TV station Al-Jazeera�famed as the mouthpiece of terror chief Osama bin Laden�into his cell. bq. Meanwhile, unlike other prisoners forced to barter their precious phonecards, Al Megrahi is allowed unlimited access to the telephone. bq. Our astonishing photos were smuggled out of Glasgow's Barlinnie prison by an insider disgusted at facilities laid on for the bomber. bq. They show how floral curtains soften the lines of Al Megrahi's barred windows�and framed art prints adorn the walls of his "cell". bq. The sofa in his day room is big enough to seat three. His coffee table is littered with remote controls for his entertainment system. bq. Fresh food and meat butchered in accordance with his Muslim faith is delivered for him to prepare himself. Other hot meals are delivered to his rooms. bq. Intelligence officer Al Megrahi is also allowed to keep a private collection of videos, books and pictures. bq. Visitors to his ground floor suite have included former South African president Nelson Mandela and UN Secretary General Kofi Annan. bq. The statesmen visited to check the prisoner's conditions and Mr Mandela discussed a campaign to move him to a prison in his own country. bq. A framed photo of Mandela seated with Al Megrahi on the cell's sofa takes pride of place on the desk. bq. The terrorist has also pinned postcards from pals to his wall, including one showing the London Eye. bq. And when he gets bored with the entertainment laid on in his suite, Al Megrahi plays his prison guards at football in an exercise yard. bq. The jail insider, a former employee, said: "I would be amazed if that guy wanted to move from Barlinnie�he could not do better at the Ritz. bq. "To my mind this bloke is a mass murderer, yet he's living like a prince at the expense of the British people. Disgusting - scum of the earth and we kowtow to them like they are royalty.

Very cool story

from WorldNet Daily bq. An 89-year-old woman who lost her home because of $572 in unpaid taxes will get it back from the man who bought the million-dollar property in a government auction for $15,000. bq. Helene Shue, who has lived on her 41-acre farm near Hershey, Pa., for five decades, had paid her taxes in full every year � including this one � but was short in her 2001 payment, the Harrisburg Patriot-News reported. bq. The buyer, Philip Dobson of Middle Paxton Township, Pa., informed Shue's nephew, John Arndt, he would give back the land after the story gained national attention. bq. Dobson, a business owner who invests in real estate, said, according to the paper, he "had no idea when I bought it that there was an 89-year-old widow living there. I found that out when I was reading the newspaper." bq. The decision to give it back, he said, "was a no-brainer, a moral issue, not a legal one. The property should be returned to her." bq. "I got something better than a million-dollar property," he told the Harrisburg daily. "I got a hug from a little old lady. That was worth more than anyone could imagine." Good people...

Arnold and Ronnie - first terms in office

starting with similar problems... from the Sacremento Bee bq. When Arnold Schwarzenegger is sworn in as California's 38th governor Monday morning, he'll be staring at much the same type of intractable mess his hero, Ronald Reagan, faced when he took office in 1967. bq. The budget deficit is out of control. No one is willing to cut necessary state programs. The public is fed up with Sacramento's dysfunctional politics. Voter-approved spending mandates limit the governor's options. bq. Like Schwarzenegger, fellow Republican and political novice Reagan promised in his campaign to cut taxes and finally force state government to live within its means. bq. That pledge lasted two days. bq. Reagan barely knew his way to the men's room before proposing the biggest tax hike of any governor in history, telling aides he didn't want to wait "until everyone forgets that we did not cause the problem -- we only inherited it." bq. Despite campaign promises, the last Republican movie star to become governor realized immediately that he had to swallow a tax increase or fail, biographer Lou Cannon writes in his new book on the ex-president's Sacramento years, "Governor Reagan: His Rise to Power."

Comet Encke in the sky

from MS/NBC Binocs and small telescopes only but still a very cool comet both from an historical and an astronomical sense.

Concorde's nose fetches 278,650

from Yahoo/Reuters bq. PARIS (Reuters) - The sleek needle-nose of the supersonic Concorde was sold to an anonymous buyer for 278,650 pounds at an auction, over 30 times the price it was expected to fetch, auctioneers Christie's say. bq. Over two hundred Concorde souvenirs, from the plane's instruction manual to its engine, were up for grabs in the auction, which brought in a total of 3.29 million euros. bq. Christie's had expected to bring in a total of only about 250,000 euros from the sale, whose proceeds go to the Air France foundation, a charity for under-privileged children. The proceeds go to a charity so this is quite cool... Wouldn't have minded a bit of it myself but then again, Seattle just landed an entire plane so I can go visit that one anytime I want... :-)

Greusome discovery - is it art?

from Yahoo/Reuters Hanging Corpse Admired as Sculpture on Campus bq. BUDAPEST (Reuters) - Police on Friday removed the corpse of a man believed to have hanged himself at least a year ago after builders and students at Budapest's University of Arts had initially mistaken it for a modern sculpture. bq. The body hung for a whole day in a garden building that had been re-opened for repairs before onlookers realized what it was and called the police, local media said. bq. The building, in campus grounds crowded with different types of sculpture, had been closed five years ago pending reconstruction work. Sheesh...

Surfing in -- Wisconsin???

from the Pioneer Press bq. Longboard, The Bear and yours truly are holding down a table at the east end of the tavern. The sky is slate gray, the wind blows hard from the north-northwest and the waters of Lake Michigan beyond the window are rolling and roiling. The hand of God is stirring a huge pot of Lake Michigan stew. bq. Outside, the air temperature is in the high 30s. The lake temperature is in the low 40s. The trees are stripped bare. I am reminded why November is my least favorite month. bq. Longboard and The Bear would disagree. They are thinking that, except for a few meteorological missteps, this could be a Grade-A day for surfing Sheboygan harbor. bq. We are the "Malibu of the Midwest," Larry "Longboard" Williams pronounces after a short tug on his beer. bq. Absolutely," agrees Mark "The Bear" Rakow. it goes on: bq. The reason surfing is so good in Sheboygan, says Longboard, gesturing toward the lake, is because of a rock reef out there. He says the energy created by the wind and water surges forward when it collides with the reef. bq. "It creates a giant barrel-like wave that peels off just like the Banzai Pipeline in Hawaii," he explains, smiling at the thought of his own enthusiasm. "We get waves here big enough to hide a Volkswagen in." bq. Standard surfing gear in Sheboygan this time of year includes an arctic wet suit with attached hood, plus neoprene boots and gloves. The only exposed part of the body is from your lower lip to your eyebrows, which, Longboard swears, "is not much different from being out in a snowstorm." bq. "I surfed one day when it was 17 degrees with a minus-24 wind chill factor," Longboard recalls with pride. "My mustache was frozen solid. I looked like Yosemite Sam." Fun article
from the Detroit News bq. The only person to survive a plunge over Niagara Falls without a safety device has run off and joined the circus. bq. Kirk Jones, 40, planned to make his debut as the "world's greatest stunt man" during a Friday night gig with the Toby Tyler Circus, now touring Texas' Mexican border towns. Great comment: bq. In the meantime, circus promoter Phil Dolci said Jones will have to work like everyone else in the troupe, washing elephants and taking down tents. "Everyone has a second job here," Dulci said. "No free ride for Kirk."

Europe's retirees: time bomb

from the Houston Chronicle bq. PARIS -- Bernard Foultier lives life fast and full -- international travel, including trips to Japan and Bolivia, amateur photography, courses in history and art, and painting in his small home studio. He is bursting with energy at age 62. Even though he retired three years ago with a full government pension, he barely has time to pursue all the interests he put aside during his working life. bq. "I can't find the time to satisfy all that I want to do," he said at his apartment in a western Paris suburb. "I need a second life. There are so many things, so many things!" bq. For Foultier, who worked for three decades as an engineer at the state-owned electricity company EDF, these busy retirement years are like a second chance at youth. But he recognizes that large pensions like his are increasingly viewed in France as a luxury that the country can no longer afford. Indeed, all over Europe, a continent famous for generous social welfare systems, the same conclusion is being reached. bq. "It's a problem," Foultier acknowledged. "People will have to work longer." It goes on: bq. Here in France, every 10 workers now support four retirees. By 2040, without changes to the system, 10 workers will have to support seven pensioners, the government projects. Today in France, one person out of five is now over 60; by 2040, the number is projected to be one in three. Major changes are needed over there if the governing classes want to hold off a political upheaval...

The ugliest salmon in the world

from the Scotland Sunday Post bq. When an angler went fishing on the River Tay, little did he know he�d be coming face to face with the ugliest salmon he�d ever seen. bq. Ramsay Johnson, from Blairgowrie, was introduced to the sport by his father as a young boy on the rivers of Northumbria. He�s been a keen salmon fisherman since moving to Scotland in 1968. bq. Over the years he�s caught dozens of salmon of all shapes and sizes, and among them have been some doubtful looking characters, but none as gruesome as the cock salmon he caught recently on the Cargill beat just north of Stanley. Click on the link for a picture...

What Is Your Degree Worth?

from MSN A list of starting salaries for various College Degrees: bq. The National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) tracks the starting salaries of new graduates in particular disciplines. The NACE's Summer 2003 Salary Survey reports the following average starting salaries for various college degrees: bq. Chemical engineering: $51,853 Electrical engineering: $49,946 Computer science: $47,419 Accounting: $40,546 Information sciences: $39,718 Marketing: $34,628 History: $32,108 English: $30,157 Psychology: $27,454

Back again

had a wonderful lazy weekend - set up the weather station and the computer to process it. This will be of great help for IPM (Integrated Pest Management) when we put in the apples. Back to blogging!!!

Blog-free weekend

We will be on property (here) all weekend. There is no internet there (yet). Looking at tractors and installing weather station. Blogging will resume Sunday evening. Dave
from Fast Company bq. The giant retailer's low prices often come with a high cost. Wal-Mart's relentless pressure can crush the companies it does business with and force them to send jobs overseas. Are we shopping our way straight to the unemployment line?

GM Farm Scale Trials

Excellent article at Spiked Online regarding the Farm Scale testing of Genetically Modified food crops. Couple of good points: bq. GM technology is simply another tool for plant breeding and bq. Meanwhile, back on the organic farm, the 'organic horse' bolted long before 'stable doors' had been invented: organic farmers use old-fashioned herbicides that, because they are less specific in their toxicity, are rather poisonous beyond their intended victims, the weeds. Yet they are in use, because their adoption preceded the regulations now required for approval of modern herbicides. This is one thing that gets me whenever I read about Organic Farming. Some of the chemicals allowed in Organic Farming are very toxic but because they come directly from natuaral sources, they are considered "Organic" and therefore OK to use. Rotenone insecticide is one example of this. Any runoff is deadly to fish and it is a very broad-spectrum insecticide so you wind up knocking out your beneficial insect population too. But it's "Organic" Ryania, Pyrethrin, Sabadilia, Quassia - these are all OK to use for Organic Farming because of their plant-based origin but they are very toxic and broad-spectrum.

Potato farmers fear epidemic of new disease

from The Guardian bq. Ring rot, a disease which could destroy half of Britain's potato crop, has been found for the first time in this country, on a Welsh seed potato farm. The potentially devastating bacterium, which could ruin the industry, has prompted a search to trace any contacts with the farm to prevent a foot and mouth-style epidemic. bq. Environment department officials have traced the outbreak to the Netherlands and seed potatoes supplied to the Welsh farm for cultivation. A search is now on for other British farms which may have imported Dutch potatoes. All their stock will be tested. bq. The outbreak was discovered in routine laboratory checks of Provento potatoes being exported to the Canary Islands. The Spanish authorities have been warned and all the potentially infected stock impounded. A search on Google for the bacteria turns up over 4K entries - a lot of them are refering to Gene Sequencing so maybe a GM potato is being developed with a resistence...

Web design Usability

from A List Apart bq. ALA was designed in 1998 and until recently was maintained by hand. Many magazine, library, government, and education sites began life the same way and face similar hurdles as they make the transition to standards-based design powered by database-driven publishing tools. Excellent points here for anyone who maintains or designs a site.

FCC opens more 5GHz spectrum space

from Infoworld bq. The U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has increased the radio spectrum available for unlicensed devices using wireless networking services, it announced Thursday. bq. The FCC made an additional 255MHz of spectrum available in the 5.470GHz to 5.725GHz radio frequency band, an increase of 80 percent, it said. and bq. The 802.11a standard defines 54Mbps wireless LAN equipment operating in the 5GHz band. The 802.11a standard transfers data at faster rates and with less interference -- but over shorter distances -- than the more commonly used 802.11b networks. Cool stuff!
from Expatica bq. LYON, France, Nov 13 (AFP) - A representative of al-Qaeda bought enriched uranium capable of being used in a so-called dirty bomb from the Congolese opposition in 2000, according to sworn testimony quoted in a French newspaper Thursday. and bq. Only highly enriched uranium can be used in the manufacture of an atomic bomb, but anti-terrorist experts take more seriously the threat of a "dirty bomb", in which radioactive material is disseminated via a conventional explosive. from The Guardian bq. Iraqi agents have been negotiating with criminal gangs in the Democratic Republic of Congo to trade Iraqi military weapons and training for high-grade minerals, possibly including uranium, according to evidence obtained by the Guardian. bq. A delegation of five Iraqis was arrested in Nairobi by the Kenyan secret service last November while travelling to eastern Congo on fake Indian passports, a western intelligence officer said. bq. Documents seen by the Guardian show that leaders of the Mayi-Mayi, a brutal militia embroiled in the country's civil war, visited Baghdad twice and offered diamonds and gold to the Iraqis. Uranium was not mentioned in the documents but the intelligence officer said the Mayi-Mayi would be able to obtain the material in areas it controlled. bq. Initial contact between Baghdad and the militia was said to have been brokered by a Sudanese general who offered Sudan as a conduit for Iraqi oil and arms. This article was first published September 25, 2002 when Saddam was still in power but while we were "working" with the UN Security council and some 'Old Europe' nations.

McDonalds closing vending machines

from the Washington Post bq. Turns out McDonald's was thinking a little too far outside the box. bq. After a year-long experiment, the fast-food giant is pulling the plug on all four Redbox automated convenience stores in the Washington area, dashing the hopes of vending industry executives who predicted that time-strapped U.S. consumers were ready for a 24-hour glass box that dispensed products as varied as portobello-and-goat-cheese sandwiches and toilet paper. bq. The 18-foot-wide, 130-item Redbox machines -- in Adams Morgan, Bethesda and Baltimore-Washington International Airport -- remain in place for now, their contents removed. A cardboard sign inside the Adams Morgan Redbox thanked loyal customers for their support.

Death of the Websafe Color Palette?

from Web Monkey bq. One of the givens of Web design, the holiest of holy truths, is the sanctity of the 216 websafe color palette. It's a rite of initiation for every Web designer or developer: Use only these colors, we are told, and don't question why. bq. But it's been more than three years since Lynda Weinman assembled her "browser safe palette" for Photoshop, and a lot has changed in the world of Web design since then. Designers have kept up with changes in client-side technologies, such as dHTML and Flash, and we've given up font tags in favor of CSS styles, tables for divs. Yet we cling to the 216 websafe color palette even though it continues to be the bane of a Web designer's existence.

iTunes for Windows breaks older iPods

from Slashdot bq. In our office we've been running an older 5gb iPod with both Macs and PC's (using Xplay), but when we installed iTunes for the PC the iPod stopped working. Songs and playlists transfer over fine, and you can see them and play them in iTunes, but you can't listen to them on the iPod, itself. It shows the song details and so forth, but skips through the tracks, playing 0 seconds of each one until it finishes. This only applies to tracks added since iTunes was installed. No amount of reformatting, or rolling back firmware seems to work. bq. When I called Apple, they stated that they simply don't support the use of the older Mac iPods on PC's and are not responsible, even though they admit that it was their own software that caused this. We're not alone, see this thread at Apple. I'm not quite suggesting that this was deliberate, but they are aware of it and don't seem to care." Does anyone have ideas on possible fixes for the afflicted iPods? (emphasis mine) Customer support?

more on Global Warming

Bizarre Science has an excellent article on the current Global Warming issue. bq. Too many scientists have based their research, their reputations and their incomes on the greenhouse theory to let it go now. bq. So rather than debate the growing evidence that the greenhouse theory is fundamentally flawed, many greenhouse-believing scientists have begun viciously attacking those who question its conclusions and denouncing any agnostic as a heretic -- especially ones presenting uncomfortably challenging proof. more bq. The "hockey stick" has been among the holiest of holies in the greenhouse priests' liturgy. It purports to show relatively stable climate for the 900 years from 1000 to 1900, then a sharp spike upward from 1900 to today. Its implications for the greenhouse theory are so central that it formed an integral part of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's vaunted 2001 report, the one that claimed to confirm disastrous manmade greenhouse warming. bq. We have known for a long time that the hockey stick compared apples and oranges -- reconstructed temperatures from 1000 to 1900 (temperatures deduced from studying tree-ring growth and ice cores, et cetera) and measured temperatures from 1900 onward. When the 20th century's temperatures are "reconstructed" they don't show the warming the hockey stick theory shows. bq. But what McIntyre/McKitrick also reveal is the data used to craft the hockey stick are based on "collation errors, unjustifiable truncation or extrapolation ... obsolete data, geographical local errors, incorrect calculation ... and other quality control defects." The wrong places, the wrong dates and the wrong numbers were jumbled together to produce the results the authors desired -- proof that industrial societies are threatening the planet and only global regulation by the UN can save it. bq. For instance, the data used for calculating Central Europe's climate history stops at 1730, but the source data available goes back to 1659. Coincidentally (or not) those 70 missing years were the coldest of the Little Ice Age. If your goal was to show flat temperatures for 900 years, followed by a steep rise during the Industrial Age, leaving out those seven decades would help do the trick. bq. Three such "unjustified truncations" were uncovered by McIntyre/McKitrick. Of 112 temperature records used to create the hockey stick, 13 were incorrectly copied down, 18 mismatched the year and temperatures, 19 made unjustifiable extrapolations to cover missing data, 24 contained obsolete data and all 28 that used tree-ring data miscalculated the information obtained by reading the rings. That's a total of 105 records with errors, although some contained multiple errors, so there were more than seven data sets that were error-free, but not many more.

NY Times - 25 science questions

here A list of 25 science questions and essays on the answers. Some good ones here...

Essay on anti-sematism

here bq. While Israel built up an entire country from the ground of a desert land, the Palestinians still sat in flimsy tents, drinking out of the same dirty cups which belonged to their fathers, obeying the same tribal principles which had never created them anything but inter-tribal strife, and listening to the same stories told of how they were once a great nation, which they had never been. The Arab world looked to Israel with seething jealousy and saw the only thing they could do; the only thing they had ever done when Jews were successful; the only thing that Europeans have done whenever Jews were successful. They chose yet again to kill it. And because Europe was in a decline of power, and the European economic state in ruins, they hopped along as well. They were old friends in that hatred; they have shared it so many times together. Read the whole thing...

I knew it...

here Heh...

PC Case Mods

here Caution - severe geek overload... This person builds PCs and then custom makes cases that are absolute works of art. Great stuff!

Viable virus manufactured in lab in two weeks

from USA Today bq. But an important technical bridge towards the creation of such life was crossed Thursday when genomics pioneer Craig Venter announced that his research group created an artificial virus based on a real one in just two weeks' time. bq. When researchers created a synthetic genome (genetic map) of the virus and implanted it into a cell, the virus became "biologically active," meaning it went to work reproducing itself. Fascinating stuff...

Babys being named after Corporate Brand Names

from the BBC - US babies get global brand names bq. Mr Evans, a professor at Bellevue University, Nebraska, has studied baby names in the US for 25 years. bq. He has found that car models are a popular source of inspiration; 22 girls are registered as having the name Infiniti while 55 boys answer to Chevy and five girls to Celica. bq. Seven boys were found to have the name Del Monte - after the food company - and no less than 49 boys were called Canon, after the camera. bq. Designer firms and types of clothing were also well represented, with almost 300 girls recorded with the name Armani, six boys called Timberland and seven boys called Denim. Sheesh - should I change my name to IBM?

General Wesley Clark�s career...

interesting New Yorker article on this excerpt: bq. Clark told me. �I�m the only commander in the twentieth century, I think, that really knew his adversary.� Berger asked Clark what would happen if the threats didn�t work, and, later, General Joe Ralston, the vice-chairman of the Joint Chiefs, pressed him on the same question. bq. �I know Milosevic,� Clark said, over and over. �It will work.� We all know that it did not work...

James Lileks

is on a roll here bq. The country that gave the world Voltaire is telling us the right to free speech doesn�t include the right to be scornful? Read the whole thing...

States settlement with tobacco companies...

is being pissed away - here bq. States that cashed in on a landmark $246 billion settlement with tobacco companies five years ago are spending little on programs to curb smoking, an anti-smoking group charged on Wednesday. bq. With budgets stretched thin, most of the 46 states that joined the 1998 tobacco settlement are using only a fraction of the funding that health officials recommend for anti-tobacco efforts, according to the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids. more bq. Only four states -- Maine, Delaware, Mississippi and Arkansas -- are still funding anti-tobacco campaigns to the level advised by the CDC.
here Worth reading.

Master and Commander

Saw this tonight at a preview screening. Excellent excellent movie - if you have not had the joy of reading the Patrick O'Brien series, they are really worth checking out. The books are strongly chronological so start at the beginning with Master and Commander.


serious Geek drool factor here Only $5K-bucks -- should I do a PayPal contribution button or add it to my lish-wist...

History of Milorganite Fertalizer

here and the citizens of Milwaukee get royalties??? Hmmm???

Global Warming

Cox and Forkum (a new cartoon every weekday) have an excellent one today along with a short comment with some good links Check it out!

Article about Cider Making

Good article in the Rocky Mountain News about a home cider maker. Had the pleasure of sitting at Dick Dunn's table at the Cider Tasting dinner last weekend. Fun people!

NY Times on Cider Fetival

Cider With the Soul of Wine bq. THE second-floor chapel of the old Brick Meetinghouse in this Berkshire mountain town was standing room only. Simple white pews spilled over with hard cider enthusiasts, amateur fermenters and fall-color weekenders who found their way here earlier this month for Cider Day, the largest -- and possibly only -- national celebration of artisanal ciders, heirloom apples and every doughnut, juice and jelly in between. On the first weekend of November, Colrain and other towns across Franklin County held apple festivals and grafting workshops, cooking demonstrations and cider making clinics. bq. In the Colrain church, volunteers patrolled the aisles, pouring generous samples of hard cider, while six cider makers sat at folding tables under the altar, explaining production methods and gently sparring over issues of pest management and sulfite use. bq. The ciders --- sparkling and still, sweet to bone dry, all less than 10 percent alcohol --- won't be found in supermarket beer sections. Part of a renaissance of cider making over the past decade, they are complex blends and varietals made in the styles of northwestern France, western England and Colonial America. bq. Cider Day was founded nine years ago by Terry and Judith Maloney, who helped lead the revival in 1984 when they started West County Cider. They produced 300 cases their first year; this fall they expect to make 2,100. They still ferment cider in their basement, crammed now with giant stainless steel fermentation tanks, which look like wayward props from the set of "Lost in Space." bq. Hard cider, nearly eradicated by Prohibition, showed signs of a comeback 20 years ago on the heels of the microbrewing movement. Like many early microbrews, artisanal ciders are labors of love. Cider makers -- some still holding day jobs as orchardists, emergency room physicians and cattle farmers -- have tirelessly promoted their product in restaurants, liquor stores and specialty-food shops. The proselytizing has paid off, and producers are seeing a loyal (and finally expanding) customer base. bq. Producers have been inspired by the trend toward sustainable agriculture --- these ciders rely on fresh juice from local sources. Cider makers are constantly fighting the consumer perception that their products fall into the same category as mass-produced ciders made from the concentrated juice of nondescript apples. bq. "Once you taste an artisanal cider, which usually takes about a year from the time you start fermenting, versus the stuff that's made in under a month, it's like night and day," said one of the panelists, Roger Mansfield, whose Traditional Company is based in Culver, Ore. bq. Mr. Mansfield and his Cider Day colleagues have different solutions to the perception problem. Mr. Mansfield calls cider the other white wine. Flag Hill Farms in Vershire, Vt., uses the slogan "Cyder with a `Y.' " The spelling of Furnace Brook Winery's barrel-aged cidre declares the drink's ties to French production methods, and Rhyne Cyder in Sonoma, Calif., refers to its sparkling cider as "Champagne-lite," promoting its low alcohol content. bq. "It is not simply alcoholic fruit juice, but it's not wine either," said Charles McGonegal of AEppel Treow Winery in Burlington, Wis., which uses the labor-intensive Champagne method to produce cider. "It has its own tartness and tannin profile that sets it apart." bq. Most ciders retail for under $10, but Matt Wilson, the fine- and rare-wine specialist at Chelsea Wine Vault in Manhattan, made cider history by charging $24.99 for Farnum Hill's 2001 varietal reserve, Kingston Black. "People love the idea that it's dry and palate-cleansing," Mr. Wilson said. "A lot of people drink it with sushi. I like it with simple stuff like roast chicken or turkey." bq. No one expects hard cider to regain the prominence it held centuries ago when taverns and families made their own and children were given a weakened version called ciderkin. Hard cider constitutes only one-tenth of a percent of the alcoholic beverage market in the United States, according to Impact Databank, an industry publication. Most producers are not set up to navigate the complexities of interstate alcohol distribution laws, and so, to cider enthusiasts' consternation and travelers' delight, artisanal ciders are likely to remain treasures to be experienced in situ. bq. "There's a lot of potential for growth, but it's really one person at a time" said Ben Watson, the author of "Cider, Hard and Sweet: History, Traditions, and Making Your Own" (Countryman, 2003). bq. Steve Wood, from Farnum Hill Ciders in Lebanon, N.H., agreed. bq. "We practically have to kneel on people's chests and pry open their mouths to get them to drink this stuff," Mr. Wood said. "And then they generally like it."

Light blogging today

I will be here getting (hopefully) one or two of these for this. UPDATE: Just got back after sucessfully bidding on a 2,000 gallon all-Stainless Steel tank with chilling jacket. Now the fun begins!

Virgina Postrel in the NY Times - Milton Friedman

Economics - here: bq. Twenty-five years ago, I took my first economics class. Like many other college students, I wanted to understand why the economy of our teenage years was such a scary mess, with inflation and rising taxes eroding our parents' paychecks, interest rates soaring and unemployment an ever present threat. bq. By my freshman year, inflation had morphed into "stagflation," combining rising price levels with relatively high unemployment. For most economists, stagflation was a puzzle. There was supposed to be a trade-off - the so-called Phillips curve - between inflation and unemployment. If you had one, you weren't supposed to have the other. bq. The "Great Inflation" of the 1970's challenged and permanently altered economic theory. It vindicated the once-controversial analysis of Milton Friedman, then at the University of Chicago. bq. " Friedman's monetary framework has been so influential that in its broad outlines at least, it has nearly become identical with modern monetary theory," said the Federal Reserve governor Ben S. Bernanke, at a recent conference at the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas. (The NY Times article posts a link that is no longer available for the full text of his speech...) bq. Mr. Bernanke is not a former Friedman student. He did his graduate work at M.I.T. Someone reading Milton Friedman's monetary economics today is likely to miss its significance, Mr. Bernanke noted, much as an apocryphal student called Shakespeare's plays "just a string of quotations." bq. "His thinking has so permeated modern macroeconomics that the worst pitfall in reading him today is to fail to appreciate the originality and even revolutionary character of his ideas, in relation to the dominant views at the time that he formulated them," he said. bq. Against the conventional wisdom, Mr. Friedman argued that "inflation is always and everywhere a monetary phenomenon." Inflation had nothing to do with aggressive unions, greedy businesses or even oil cartels - the bad guys who took the blame in the confusing 1970's. Prices shot up everywhere because the federal government made the supply of money grow faster than the real economy created value. Based on the historical record, he argued, the effects of monetary policy were fairly predictable. bq. In a 1970 lecture, "The Counterrevolution in Monetary Theory," Mr. Friedman outlined 11 propositions about how monetary policy affects the economy. All were wildly controversial, almost disreputable, at the time. Most are accepted today. bq. The first six propositions described the effects of tightening or loosening the money supply. bq. Changing the money supply, Mr. Friedman argued, raises or lowers nominal national income - production multiplied by the price level - after six to nine months. That change appears initially in output, so an increase in the money supply spurs production. After another six to nine months, however, prices adjust. Real, as opposed to nominal, income does not change. bq. With Mr. Friedman's original caveat that these empirical relationships are not perfect, Mr. Bernanke said, most policy makers and economists today would consider that 1970 description "spot on." A large body of empirical research has confirmed the same general pattern in many different countries. bq. More revolutionary still was Mr. Friedman's proposition that monetary policy can affect real output only in the short run. The Phillips curve works only for a few months. Long-term economic growth depends on real factors like innovation, investment and entrepreneurship. bq. This proposition "is universally accepted today by monetary economists," Mr. Bernanke said. "When Friedman wrote, however, the conventional view held that monetary policy could be used to affect real outcomes - for example, to lower the rate of unemployment - for an indefinite period." bq. That belief led to terrible economic policy. Trying to maintain full employment, the Federal Reserve of the 1970's pumped out money faster than the real economy grew. A result, Mr. Bernanke said, was the "Great Inflation of the 1970's - after the Great Depression, the second most serious monetary policy mistake of the 20th century." bq. Today, most macroeconomists also accept Mr. Friedman's most famous proposition - that inflation is always a monetary phenomenon. Contrary to what I learned in macroeconomics class, "cost push" inflation was a myth. Pay and price increases did not drive inflation; they reflected it. Americans wanted higher nominal wages and prices to keep up as the real value of each dollar declined. bq. To combat cost-push inflation, the Nixon administration imposed wage and price controls in 1971. Various controls, notably on energy prices, lingered throughout the 1970's. But inflation did not go away, because all these policies treated the symptom, not the cause. bq. A few of Mr. Friedman's propositions remain subject to debate and research. He contended, for instance, that government deficits cause inflation only if they are financed by creating money. Economists do not yet agree on the exact relation between unsustainable government spending and inflation. bq. Mr. Friedman tracked monetary policy by tracking the growth of the money supply. While theoretically sound, that practice has become increasingly difficult. Financial innovations keep changing the definition and growth rate of money. bq. Beyond these descriptive propositions, Mr. Friedman's greatest monetarist legacy is a prescriptive one. bq. "The most fundamental policy recommendation put forth by Milton Friedman," Mr. Bernanke said, "is the injunction to policy makers to provide a stable monetary background for the economy," avoiding both inflation and deflation. bq. "Monetary stability actively promotes efficiency and growth," Mr. Bernanke said. It also makes the economy more resilient, because when people are not afraid of general inflation, they adapt more easily to shocks like rapid jumps in energy prices. bq. Over the last two decades, central bankers here and abroad have worked to keep inflation low and stable, and they have largely succeeded. Back in the 1970's, Milton Friedman didn't think that was politically possible. About that one thing, perhaps, he was wrong. bq. Copyright 2003 The New York Times Company

10,000 to test eye scan and fingerprint scheme

In Merrie Olde England - The Guardian bq. The electronic "biometric" eye scans and fingerprints that lie at the heart of the new national identity card scheme are to be tested by 10,000 volunteers in a six month Home Office trial starting in the next few weeks. bq. The draft bill setting up Britain's first national identity card scheme for nearly 50 years is expected to follow in January. The Commons home affairs select committee announced yesterday it will conduct a detailed inquiry into the proposals this autumn.

Fnu in Los Angeles

Not a good time to be visiting the LA area: The L.V. Sun reports: bq. Thunder roared, lightning ripped through the skies and hail slammed into four counties Wednesday as an intense storm flooded streets and freeways, darkened neighborhoods and interrupted air travel. bq. Rain in the most severely hit areas was coming down at 3 inches an hour, the National Weather Service said. Five inches of rain fell at 96th Street and Central Avenue in South Los Angeles in less than two hours, the agency said. and bq. Nearly 10,000 customers were without power for extended periods, Southern California Edison Co. spokesman Steve Conroy said. Outages included Compton, 10 miles south of Los Angeles, neighboring South Gate and Watts, then east through the San Gabriel Valley to Montebello, Covina, Monrovia, El Monte, West Covina and into San Bernardino County, where Chino Hills was especially hard hit.

CDs 'could be history in five years'

interesting article from Ananova bq. Compact discs could be history within five years, superseded by a new generation of fingertip-sized memory tabs with no moving parts. bq. Scientists say each paper-thin device could store more than a gigabyte of information - equivalent to 1,000 high quality images - in one cubic centimetre of space. bq. Experts have developed the technology by melding together organic and inorganic materials in a unique way. bq. They say it could be used to produce a single-use memory card that permanently stores data and is faster and easier to operate than a CD. They go on: bq. A report in the journal Nature described how the researchers identified a new property of a polymer called PEDOT. bq. PEDOT, which is clear and conducts electricity, has been used for years as an anti-static coating on photographic film. Researchers looked at ways of using PEDOT to store digital information. In the new memory card, data in the form of ones and zeroes would be represented by polymer pixels. A bit more detail: PEDOT is PolyEthyleneDi*OxyThiophene and has been around for a while. * the Di is actually a Thi but the original compound was Di and the 'nym stuck... Water based, fairly (hell yeah at 1.5pH) acidic. Interesting uses are cropping up all over - it's also used for LEP displays and organic semiconductors. Limited temperature range so far so I would not leave the "music stick" on the dashboard of my car during summer but still... UPDATE: Science Blog has some more information bq. From Princeton University: New memory device could offer smaller, simpler way to archive data Discovery of new property in commonly used plastic leads to invention bq. The research was done in Forrest's lab by former postdoctoral researcher Sven M�ller, who is now at HP in Corvallis, Ore. Craig Perlov, Warren Jackson and Carl Taussig, scientists at HP Labs in Palo Alto, Calif., are also co-authors of the Nature paper. bq. M�ller made the basic discovery behind the device by experimenting with polymer material called PEDOT, which is clear and conducts electricity. It has been used for years as an antistatic coating on photographic film, and more recently as an electrical contact on video displays that require light to pass through the circuitry. M�ller found that PEDOT conducts electricity at low voltages, but permanently loses its conductivity when exposed to higher voltages (and thus higher currents), making it act like a fuse or circuit breaker. bq. This finding led the researchers to use PEDOT as a way of storing digital information. Digital images and all computerized data are stored as numbers that are written as long strings of ones and zeroes. A PEDOT-based memory device would have a grid of circuits in which all the connections contain a PEDOT fuse. A high voltage could be applied to any of the contact points, blowing that particular fuse and leaving a mix of working and non-working circuits. These open or closed connections would represent zeros and ones and would become permanently encoded in the device. A blown fuse would block current and be read as a zero, while an unblown one would let current pass and act as a one. bq. This grid of memory circuits could be made so small that, based on the test junctions the researchers made, 1 million bits of information could fit in a square millimeter of paper-thin material. If formed as a block, the device could store more than one gigabyte of information, or about 1,000 high-quality images, in one cubic centimeter, which is about the size of a fingertip. Lots more work to be done but this is really cool!
from Tech Central Station comes an interesting article and book... bq. Dan Peruchi, father of four, enjoyed fixing up old cars and reselling them. Because the dealers he worked with dealt mainly in cash, he usually had lots on hand. Peruchi was driving home to Ft. Worth, Texas when he noticed the flashing lights of a police car behind him. After pulling him over, the officer asked to search Peruchi's car. Peruchi had about $19,000 in a satchel, but nothing criminal to hide, so he consented. The officer found Peruchi's cash, and immediately suspected Peruchi was involved with drugs. He called in drug-sniffing dogs, who then reacted suspiciously to Peruchi's satchel (most all of the U.S. money supply carries faint amounts of drug residue, mostly cocaine). bq. The dogs' reaction, no more, was enough for the West Memphis police department to seize Peruchi's money. When Peruchi protested, the police officer retorted, "Carry checks next time." bq. Peruchi was never arrested. He was never even charged. But his money was gone, under the absurd premise that property can be guilty of a crime, even if its owner isn't. The police department deposited Peruchi's money into its own operations budget, as it was permitted to do under Arkansas' drug forfeiture laws. Peruchi was told that if he tried to fight the county, his case would be turned over to the Drug Enforcement Administration. "Try fighting the feds," he was told. Even if Peruchi had won in court, his legal costs would likely have amounted to more than the $19,000 he was fighting for, and it's improbable that he would have been reimbursed for his legal fees. bq. Peruchi is but one of many similarly outrageous stories told the new book Mugged by the State, by Randall Fitzgerald. bq. Over 20 years as a reporter for Reader's Digest, Fitzgerald wrote stories about innocent people who found themselves mistakenly entangled with unforgiving environmental regulations, draconian drug laws, or coldhearted, uncompromising bureaucrats. With the sober, detailed eye of a journalist, Fitzgerald's book recounts the most egregious of his encounters in two decades as a reporter.
from LGF They link to a Jersulem Post article: bq. Hamas and the Islamic Jihad both said Wednesday that they would consider entering a new ceasefire with Palestinian Prime Miister Ahmed Qurei (Abu Ala) to end attacks against Israelis. bq. Adnan Aspur, a Hamas spokesman in the West Bank, has announced that the organization is prepared to consider a new Hudna (temporary ceasefire). bq. "But we will always give predominance to resistance so long as a conqueror remains on Palestinian soil," he continued. Emphasis mine bq. A unilateral cease-fire declared by the Palestinian terrorist groups on June 29 collapsed six weeks later in a new cycle of violence. They will consider a cease-fire but they would rather go back to killing Israeli mothers and children. They had many generous offers of land, seperate states, etc... but their 'leadership' is locked into the old Soviet mold that created him and is dragging the entire population down with lies and corruption. I feel sorry for the Palestinian people but sorry because they have been brainwashed and lied to by their leadership. They have been told things that are not true and a small militant cult of them have been paid *very* generously to play the role of supporting terrorist. They have studied the West and know all about P.R. and Spin and know that very few Westerners bother to even read the English language translations of their Arabic speeches so they can say one thing in English and yet another in Arabic and less than 1% of the population will know the difference. Sad really...

Arafat Urges an End to Violence

from NY Times bq. Yasir Arafat swore in a new Palestinian cabinet today, ending a period of political turmoil that had paralyzed his government and clearing the way for Israelis and Palestinians to rejuvenate efforts on a Middle East peace plan. bq. In a speech before the Palestinian Legislative Council, Mr. Arafat addressed the Israeli people directly in what appeared to be a conciliatory call for an end to violence. But he also criticized Israeli blockades of Palestinian areas and other measures in what he described as a criminal war. bq. "The Israeli government says we do not want peace. I tell them this is not true," Mr. Arafat said in his speech to the council, the Palestinian Parliament, as reported by the Palestinian news agency. "We will not retract this recognition of the rights of the Israeli people to live in security and peace, alongside the Palestinians, independent in an independent state." Yeahhhhh... Riiight... This is the guy who is right now paying $50,000 per month to fund al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigade. He also has personally diverted $900 million into bank accounts that he alone controls. And what with help from other countries, cash keeps flowing into the terrorist groups. Hamas (another of the primary groups): bq. John Pistole, assistant director of the FBI's counterterrorism division, said that based on U.S. intelligence, Hamas' annual budget is estimated to be at least $50 million. There is a long-standing tradition of saying one thing in English and then doing something else. It will not be surprising if Arafat declares that he is unable to work with the new cabinet or that talks have broken down or some such bunk - this whole thing is staged. It is fake. They are lying to us.

AIDS vaccine trials fail

from ABC News .bq The results of a large-scale test of an AIDS vaccine in Thailand have shown the inoculation method to be ineffective. bq. The findings confirm the results of an earlier test conducted by the US pharmaceutical firm Vaxgen, which created the vaccine. bq. The Thailand test was a late-stage clinical trial, the most advanced trial of any AIDS vaccine so far. bq. In the test, 105 participants who received a placebo were infected with HIV and 106 others who received at least one injection of the vaccine were infected. bq. The annual rate of infection, both for those receiving the placebo and those receiving the vaccine, was 3.1 per cent. bq. The test was carried out in 17 medical centres in the Bangkok area. bq. The first test on the vaccine, conducted in North America, Puerto Rico and the Netherlands, also delivered disappointing results.

Retaliation for Truck bomb

from Voice of America bq. U.S. military officials say two suspects were killed and five other detained in the Baghdad operation. One target of the strike was a warehouse U.S. officials say guerrillas used to plan attacks on U.S. forces. bq. Earlier Wednesday, a truck exploded after it crashed through barriers in front of Italian military police headquarters in Nasiriyah. That attack resulted in the first casualties among the Italian contingent that is part of the U.S.-led coalition in Iraq. It will be interesting when we find the nationalities of the attackers... This one was bad in that it happened in the otherwise quiet 90% of the country rather than in that 10% of the country where the Baathist hangers-on are located.

unstability in Georgia

from The Telegraph bq. Troops sent into Tbilisi as civil war fears rise By Julius Strauss in Tbilisi (Filed: 12/11/2003) bq. Georgia inched closer to civil war last night as interior ministry troops were ordered into the heart of the capital, Tbilisi, and President Eduard Shevardnadze denounced opposition leaders. bq. Outside parliament thousands of angry protesters gathered for a fourth day, swearing defiance. Many were waving images of St George, their patron saint.

New Crime wave

From the Financial Times bq. Gangs based in Eastern Europe have been found to have been launching waves of attacks on corporate networks, costing the companies millions of dollars in lost business and exposing them to blackmail. bq. The most recent cases of affected companies have surfaced in Britain where the National Hi-Tech Crime Unit (NHTCU) is investigating how one betting site was brought down and then received a threat that it would be attacked again unless tens of thousands of pounds were paid. It is co-operating with international law enforcement agencies, with the perpetrators thought to be based in Eastern Europe. bq. The attacks involve gangs commandeering as many as hundreds of computers through hacking methods to use without their owners' knowledge. A command is then issued to each one simultaneously to make a series of bogus requests to the servers of the victim. The weight of traffic brings the servers to a halt and legitimate requests to carry out transactions cannot be completed. The emphasis in the last quote is mine. These computers are infected with virusses by the inaction or poor operation of their owners. Keep current on your patches. If you get an email with an attachment, check with the sender to make sure they sent it to you. If you get a Security Alert email from Microsoft, ignore it, they never send security alerts via email. Think before you click! set RANT=off

Bad Toon Rising

here bq. Bad Toon Rising is a collection of drawings of well-known cartoon characters produced by amateur artists entirely from memory and without any reference materials whatsoever. We can all picture what Mickey Mouse or the Pink Panther look like in our minds, but getting that image down on paper is another matter! Never mind, we think that some of the worst drawings are the best.

BT Cotton test in India not sucessful

A test of BT Cotton in India was not sucessful with reduced boll count and size plus the same level of predation. There is however, no indication in the report of the care given to the BT cotton over the care given to the control crop or the methodology of the test. What catches my eye is Table #1 (Comparison between Bolls and Fibre of Non-Bt and Bt-Cotton). The reduced boll count and size makes me think that the crop was stressed and would indicate that the BT crops were given less than optimal care. If there was a small statistical variation, I would believe there was a viability issue but to go from an average of 95 bolls to an average of 50 bolls is a bit steep. Going from 6-8 Grams to 3.5-5 Grams boll weight is odd too...

Vatican conference on GM foods

Should be interesting... The Vatican hosted a two-day conference entitled "GMO: Threat or Hope" They have not published their findings as yet but this will be an interesting one to watch - the benefits of increased crop production and less labor required versus (as quoted in ABC news): bq. Two Jesuits told a Vatican biotech conference Tuesday that tinkering with God's creation by making new plant species went against church teaching, adding a moral voice to a debate dominated by scientific, political and economic interests. CBS reports: bq. The conference organizer, Cardinal Renato Martino, head of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, has spoken out frequently about the potential benefits of the technology, and some participants said his lineup of speakers was skewed toward the pro-biotech camp. CBS continues: bq. Martino opened the two-day conference "GMO: Threat or Hope" by acknowledging the charged nature of the debate, and the implications of genetically engineered products on the future of the world. bq. "We are fully aware that the stakes are high and delicate," he said, citing the divide in public opinion, the commercial interests and ethical questions involved, as well as "the difficulty in defining scientifically a material that is subject to evolving research." bq. But he said the Vatican's aim was to find some common ground for the benefit of mankind, and particularly the poor. The issue of poverty and hunger is a major concern for the Vatican, which rejects arguments that limiting family size by using contraception is one way to improve food security in the developing world. bq. Martino has suggested in newspaper interviews that the Vatican might consider endorsing biotech crops as a way to help alleviate hunger, arguing that the controversy was more political than scientific. He has said he suffered no ill effects from the GM foods he ate while living in New York as the Vatican's envoy to the United Nations for 16 years.


from Wired News bq. Citing concerns that Diebold Election Systems installed uncertified software on some electronic voting systems in a California county without the state's knowledge, officials are forcing the company to pay for an audit of all the company's voting machines used in the state in order to win certification for a new model. bq. An investigation of how and when the software was installed in Alameda County is still underway. But Tony Miller, special projects coordinator for Secretary of State Kevin Shelley, said Monday that the state would certify Diebold's AccuVote-TSx touch-screen voting machine for the time being under several conditions. bq. The certification is contingent on Diebold paying for an independent audit of all its hardware and software used in 13 other California counties to determine if uncertified components have been installed elsewhere. Whoops!!!

more on French ELF scandal

Glen Reynolds has a nice collection of links regarding France's Total Fina ELF scandal, the stiff jail sentences that are being handed out and how this may impact the operation of a California insurance company. from the Financial Times: bq. The sentences bring to an end an investigation stretching back over eight years and which has thrown light on the corruption rampant in the final years of the late Francois Mitterrand's second term in office as president. A total of 37 people stood trial in this case, preceded by an earlier one involving corrupting charges - rejected on appeal - against former foreign minister Roland Dumas. bq. Elf, set up as a state run company by Gen Charles de Gaulle to ensure French independent sources of oil, had long been used as an unofficial arm of French foreign policy, as well as to provide under-the-table funds to political parties. from Forbes: bq. The inquiry sparks public criticism when the court hears how Elf secretly financed President Jacques Chirac's RPR political party and paid bribes to African leaders to win business. Zonitics links to the Cr�dit Lyonnais scandal that is part of the biger picture: bq. In April 1991 a California insurance company called Executive Life, having gone bust, became the object of an investigation by the state of California. In 1992 what had once been France's most successful bank, Cr�dit Lyonnais (now a decrepit institution), put together a deal whereby the bank would buy Executive Life's junk bond portfolio, and a new French insurance company would take over Executive Life's insurance business. At the time of the deal, Cr�dit Lyonnais was owned by the French state. Under U.S. federal law banks could not own insurance companies; under California law state-owned companies could not own insurance companies. The deal was agreed to because U.S. insurance regulators were assured that the new insurance company was independent of Cr�dit Lyonnais. In 1995 the French government created the Consortium de R�alisation (CDR) to take over Cr�dit Lyonnais' bad assets, including Executive Life's bond portfolio. But in 1998 it was discovered that the French insurance company that had taken over Executive Life's insurance business was not independent of Cr�dit Lyonnais.

Hats off to Italy

from LGF and Reuters from Reuters: bq. Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi vowed Italy would keep troops in Iraq to help U.S. forces despite a bombing on Wednesday that killed 15 military personnel and urged political adversaries to unite in national mourning. from LGF: bq. A big LGF cheer for Silvio Berlusconi, who makes the United Nations and the International Red Cross look like the cowardly weenies they are. Some nations get it, some do not. Italy gets it...

US Department of Energy - science funding

The US DOE has released it's roadmap for science funding: from the New Scientist bq. Making clean energy by nuclear fusion and building supercomputers to speed up scientific research are the top priorities in physical science, according to a new US Department of Energy road map. bq. Other major projects given a top ranking include designing microbes to scrub the atmosphere of carbon dioxide and the search for the mysterious dark energy that is driving the expansion of the Universe. bq. However, high energy physics (HEP) experiments that smash particles together did not fare so well in the 20-year plan announced on Monday. HEP experiments could one day unite quantum mechanics and general relativity, and explain why our Universe has mass. bq. But the Linear Collider, described as "the next big step" in the field, was ranked only 13 in a list of 28 priority facilities. Furthermore, three projects that a HEP task force ranked as "absolutely central" in March did not make the list at all. Not so good for the big-iron particle physics but not too bad for energy (Fusion) and supercomputers (where a lot of basic work can be done)

our friends the French

from Forbes Magazine Opening paragraph: bq. Behind the deterioration of Franco-American relations over Iraq and the savage animosity between George W. Bush and Jacques Chirac lies a sordid and complicated business scandal that could end with several highly placed French businessmen--two are close friends of Chirac's--taking up residence in U.S. prisons. An interesting read and an insight into the difference between the "Old" EU culture and the US UPDATE: More on this from the 11/10/03 issue of the Seattle P.I.
PARIS -- Political kickbacks, luxury villas bought with public money, illegal party funding. The corruption trial surrounding oil company Elf has already tarnished the French establishment and ruined careers. Now the decade-long investigation into the former state-owned company comes to its climax on Wednesday, with the announcement of verdicts in France's biggest-ever graft scandal. A total of 37 defendants have been on trial since March for their roles in the alleged embezzlement of some euro300 million($345 million) from Elf during the late 1980s and early 1990s. Among them is a trio of former senior officials from Elf - now a part of the Franco-Belgian oil group Total - including its ex-president, Loik Le Floch-Prigent. The case has stained the reputation of France's political and business elites, raising damaging allegations of illegal party funding to both sides of the political spectrum and shining a spotlight on France's handling of its African oil interests. Convictions are inevitable for many of the key defendants, observers say. Le Floch-Prigent, 60, and his former second-in-command, Alfred Sirven, have admitted some of the charges, faced with detailed evidence gathered during an eight-year probe.
Total Fina Elf was the main oil company participating in the U.N. Oil for Food program with Iraq. There has *never* been a public accounting of the money...

Point / Counterpoint

from the NY Times from Derek Lowe NY Times: bq. Your recent editorial on the Apo-A1 Milano therapy for atherosclerosis is strong stuff. For example, you say that ". . .infusing H.D.L. cholesterol directly into the body, was shown effective in animals more than a decade ago, but the industry never really pursued it. One reason was that companies saw little economic incentive in using a normal body protein for therapeutic purposes, since it would be hard to gain patent protection. A medicine that could be made and sold by anybody had little potential for profit." Derek Lowe: bq. So, your editorial bungles its key scientific and legal points. Then you follow that up by lecturing academic and industrial researchers who actually know what they're talking about - here we go: "But the fact that such a promising treatment was widely ignored because there was no immediate profit potential is disturbing. . .This story makes one wonder how many similar gaps exist in the vaunted American research establishment." bq. Well, speaking as a member of the vaunted American research establishment, I find it irritating to be harangued by the New York Times about a subject you've clearly made little attempt to understand. Spend an hour reading the medical literature before you load up the cannons again - it'll be worth it, trust me. Fill in your own gaps, and then we'll talk. And this was just the last two paragraphs - check out the entire article... :-)

UI discussions and a comic strip

check out OK/Cancel New comics every Friday

McJob - Merriam Webster v/s McD's

Merriam Webster has a web page that lists new words to be included in it's dictionary. A few days ago, McJob was included - now it's gone. Or is it... Take a look at the source code for the web page and the following line is included surrounded by the comment tags:

< ! - pulled 11/10/03 

McJob . . . . noun (1986) : a low-paying job that requires little skill and provides little opportunity for advancement - >


Energy Fundamentals

An excellent article (PDF) on Energy Fundamentals by Don Lancaster Some Hydrogen articles from his website. His website homepage

Enviro-scare tactics - pesticide residue

from Fox News bq. The New York Times reported this week that �apples, peppers, celery and cherries top a list compiled by an environmental research organization of the 12 fruits and vegetables it considers the most contaminated by pesticides.� bq. The brief 201-word article is an excellent example of hit-and-run reporting designed to scare rather than inform readers. bq. The article breezily reported that the Environmental Working Group used government data to �rank pesticide contamination� for 46 fruits and vegetables. �The most-contaminated list also includes imported grapes, nectarines, peaches, pears, potatoes, red raspberries, spinach and strawberries� while �the 12 considered least contaminated are asparagus, avocados, bananas, broccoli, cauliflower, corn, kiwi, mangoes, onions, papayas, pineapples and sweet peas,� reported the Times. bq. The article reported that EWG�s so-called �dirty dozen� list remains the same as their initial list published in 1993, but concluded that �the availability of organic produce (search) has made it easier to avoid most pesticides.� What is at issue here is that we now have the ability to detect molecular levels of anything. The presence of pesticides is not anything to be scared about if the quantity is small (which it was in these studies - well below any regulatory threshold). Another thing to be concerned with is that (to quote from the article): bq. The EWG report was financed by Stonyfield Farm, the largest organic yogurt manufacturer and hardly a disinterested party. Stonyfield markets its products by scaring consumers with labels claiming, �No yucky stuff � standards prohibit the use of pesticides, antibiotics and hormones� and �yogurts made without the use of antibiotics, hormones and toxic pesticides.� and bq. The Times reported that apples, cherries, peaches, raspberries and strawberries were among the �dirty dozen� fruits and vegetables with the highest pesticide contamination. bq. Coincidentally (or not), Stonyfield just happens to offer organic yogurt in these very flavors. How convenient. bq. Was Stonyfield�s sponsorship and business interest mentioned in the Times article? Of course not. Interesting... A detailed overview of the Environmental Working Group can be found at the excellent Consumer Freedom website. Here is their homepage.

Victor Davis Hanson

Excellent essay regarding Veterans Day Never Forget

resource for tools

was turned onto this place by Kevin Kelly's website

AP list of terror attacks around the world

Here Notice anything missing??? A specific country perhaps??? Wasn't Israel having some problems with people blowing themselves up and breaking into houses and shooting mothers and children. Wouldn't this imply a really bad case of bias on the part of the Associated Press?

Nikon may outsource low-end Digital Cameras

from DigiTimes bq. Jillian Shih, Taipei; Steve Shen, [Tuesday 11 November 2003] bq. Nikon plans to introduce low-priced DSC (digital still camera) models in 2004 and does not rule out outsourcing the products to Taiwan�s DSC makers, Shiro Itakura, managing director of Nikon Hong Kong, said in Taipei yesterday. bq. The expansion of its product lines is a response to the continued growth in global demand for DSCs, Itakura said at a press conference to introduce the company�s latest digital SLR camera, the D2H. bq. According to Itakura, global demand for DSCs is expanding by 30% annually, but growth in China is more spectacular, rising by 100% a year. bq. Sales of DSCs in China are expected to reach two million units this year, doubling from about one million in 2002, Itakura said.

Computer Security

great rant from Ask Tog regarding computer security: bq. When I want to register for a new service I try to use one of my usual passwords. Then I get: Password not allowed. bq. I have a very secure password, and yet I am being forced to use a less secure one! bq. Alright, I have to think of a simpler only-letter password. Done and registered. For this time, I can use the service. But the next time I surely won't remember this special password. Then the "Forgotten your password?" cycle starts. That is, if I can remember my account name... Heh

more on TacoGate

a reprint of an article in the November 26, 2000 Washington Post. bq. The original discovery of StarLink corn in taco shells produced by Kraft Foods was no accident. It was the result of a fishing expedition by a coalition of environmental groups, led by Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth, that aim to discredit the regulatory system and damage consumer confidence in the biotech industry. These groups, which oppose most modern agricultural methods, hired a testing company to analyze more than two dozen processed foods specifically for traces of StarLink. The taco shells were the only place where they found what they were looking for.

Food allergies with GM crops

Interesting article from the Center for Global Food issues regarding GM crops and the potential for food allergies. Gives a rundown of the StarLink corn issue from a few years ago (StarLink was for animal feed but it accidently found its way into tacos). bq. Allergy risks hit the headlines again in 2000, when traces of StarLink biotech corn were found in a variety of processed American foods. StarLink had been approved for feed use, but not for food, because a potential allergy risk had not been ruled out. bq. Seventeen consumers claimed they suffered allergy attacks due to StarLink �leaking� into food products. However, tests showed that the Cry9C protein in StarLink was at least 500 times less allergenic than peanut butter. Then, Centers for Disease Control testing found that none of alleged victims had antibodies to the StarLink protein. Whatever attacked the consumers wasn�t StarLink. (Our widely present foodborne bacteria are a far more likely cause.)

eVoting error

from the Indianapolis Star MicroVote software showed 144,000 votes cast. Only problem was that there were fewer than 19,000 registered voters... I'll stick with the hanging chad thank you.

Robot Hall of Fame

Geo. Bush Sr. essay pulled from Time Magazine

thanks to the Memory Hole bq. On 21 September 2002, The Memory Hole posted an extract from an essay by George Bush Sr. and Brent Scowcroft, in which they explain why they didn't have the military push into Iraq and topple Saddam during Gulf War 1. Although there are differences between the Iraq situations in 1991 and 2002-3, Bush's key points apply to both. bq. But a funny thing happened. Fairly recently, Time pulled the essay off of their site. It used to be at this link, which now gives a 404 error. If you go to the table of contents for the issue in which the essay appeared (2 March 1998), "Why We Didn't Remove Saddam" is conspicuously absent. bq. Because of this erasure, we're posting the entire essay below the portion we originally excerpted. Below that, you'll find a copy of the actual page from the magazine, courtesy of Bruce Koball and Boing Boing.

Pacifist Europeans have short memories

by Mark Steyn bq. The EU has done a grand job of trumpeting its weakness as strength, but the fact remains that there's something hollow at the heart of European identity. You can't be a great power without great power: Slobodan Milosevic called the EU's bluff on that a decade ago. bq. When you say as much to Euro-grandees, they say, ah, but you wouldn't understand, here on the Continent we have seen the horrors of war close up, the slaughter of the Somme casts long shadows. I'll say. In the New Statesman last week, Philip Kerr managed to yoke All Quiet On The Western Front with Joan Baez and John Lennon, and unintentionally underlined just how obsolescent the Sixties folk-protest canon is. Where Have All The Flowers Gone? would have made a great song for the First World War, but not for Afghanistan or Iraq or anything we're likely to fight in the future. bq. In our time, mass slaughter occurs only in places where the West refuses to act - in the Sudan or North Korea - or acts only under the contemptible and corrupting rules of UN "peacekeeping", as at Srebrenica. In Afghanistan and Iraq and elsewhere, technological advantage changes the moral calculus: it makes war the least worst option, the moral choice. At the 11th hour of the 11th day, we should remember those who died in the Great War, but recognise that it could never be "the war to end all wars" and never should.

Cox and Forkum

Excellent as always:

Veeery interesting test

Click on the *color* of the word, not what the word says. Here

Microsoft Hit Wizard - R&B Edition

from the Men Without Hats website here

BP - Back to Petrolium

Despite billing themselves as Beyond Petrolium and very greeny, BP is actually spinning the issue and is, at heart, a traditional oil company. From Paul K. Driessen bq. Yes, BP (formerly British Petroleum) spent some $200 million on its �Great Beyondo� image enhancement campaign. But that�s the same amount it spent over a SIX-year period on the renewable energy technologies that were the centerpiece for its slick marketing ploy. It�s also a measly 0.2% of the $91 billion it spent to buy Arco and Amoco back in the 1990s. bq. Things really got interesting after BP had milked the renewable energy hype for all it was worth. In February, the company announced it was spending $6.75 billion for a 50% controlling interest in rich Russian oil prospects � and another $20 billion over the next five years exploring these and other new fields. BP was going Back to Petroleum � and hopefully Bigger Profits � after it was forced to lower its oil and gas production estimates three times in 2002; the company�s return on capital sank below that of archrivals ExxonMobil and Royal Dutch/Shell; and investors expressed their displeasure by dumping BP stock bq. Then in June, CEO Lord John Browne confessed to executives attending the 2003 World Gas Conference that the world won�t really be heading to an alternative energy future for at least 20 more years. Until then, �hydrocarbons will not just remain the most important source of energy � they will actually become more important.� bq. In fact, continued Browne, all the renewable energy produced across the entire planet, excluding hydroelectric power, �would barely meet� Tokyo�s needs. BP�s own cumulative global wind and solar output, he might have added, is barely enough to keep the lights burning in Boise, Idaho. And a single new 555-megawatt gas-fired generating plant in California produces more electricity in a year than do all the state�s 13,000 wind turbines. (emphasis mine) bq. Moreover, the gas-fired plant occupies about ten acres. The giant 200-foot-tall �eco-friendly� windmills dominate half a million once-scenic acres, and kill thousands of raptors and other birds every year. Current photovoltaic technology is just as habitat hungry. The other issue with photovoltaic is one of extreme pollution. Greenpeace and the other organizations have always gotten down on computer chip makers for the toxic chemicals used in their manufacture. Arsenic and some other really fun stuff. The surface area of chips in the average computer is about the same as a playing card and you are concerned about this but want me to install square yards of the same stuff on my roof?
Wonderful essay by David Gelertner bq. We are haunted by the image of Vietnamese who trusted and supported us trying frantically to grab a place on the last outbound helicopter; by Vietnamese putting to sea in rowboats rather than enjoy Uncle Ho's "Workers' and Peasants' Paradise" one more day. We are haunted by the consequences of allowing South Vietnam to collapse. Tens of thousands of executions (maybe 60,000), re-education camps where hundreds of thousands died, a million boat people. bq. We put them in those rowboats � we antiwar demonstrators, we sophisticated, smart guys. The war was nearly over when I graduated from high school. But high school students were old enough to demonstrate. They were old enough to feel superior to the fools who were running the government. And they were old enough to have known better. They were old enough to have understood what communist regimes had cost the world in suffering, from the prisons of Havana to the death camps of Siberia. bq. Today we are haunted, in thinking about Iraq, by the fact that a noisy, self-important, narcissistic minority talked the United States into betraying its allies. (Loyalty didn't mean a lot to antiwar demonstrators; honor didn't mean a lot.) We betrayed our allies and hurried home, to introspect. They stayed on, to suffer. We were eager to make love, not war, but the South Vietnamese weren't offered that option. Their alternatives were to knuckle under or die. Read the whole thing.

U.N. controlled Internet?

This is a really -stupid- -fuckwitted- typical idea from the ever so effective and useful United Nations... ( from the Financial Times ) bq. Poorer nations such as Brazil, India, South Africa, China and Saudi Arabia, as well as some richer ones, are growing dissatisfied with the workings of California-based ICANN (the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers), the semi-private internet address regulator set up five years ago. bq. The critics argue that the internet is a public resource that should be managed by national governments and, at an international level, by an intergovernmental body such as the International Telecommunications Union, the UN agency that is organising the information summit. bq. However, the US and the European Commission are staunchly defending the Icann model, which is based on minimal regulation and commercial principles. Icann members are predominantly drawn from industrialised countries and the established internet community. The majority of those nations calling for U.N. regulation are those with egregious security and human rights problems. Nice people...

8-in-1 Digital Photo Card to CD Copier

from DP Review bq. Alera Technologies, developer and manufacturer of Advanced DVD and CD Recording Solutions proudly debuts its new Digital Photo Copy Cruiser that copies digital photos directly from camera memory cards to CD without a computer. The Digital Photo Copy Cruiser is compact and transportable, so you can copy your digital photos to CD instantly wherever you are, for quick distribution and your memory cards can be easily cleared for reuse. This has a very high geek factor. There are digital wallets out there but they are in the $450 price range and are limited to 20-40GB capacity. This unit lists for $299 and uses blank CD-ROM disks so you never run out of capacity. It also functions as a stand-alone USB-2 CD burner. Cool stuff!

25 simple things you can do... get the word out about your Independent Project bq. 1. Develop a plan bq. Whatever your project is, whether it's a zine, a book, an album or a movie, your main goal, after completing that project, is to get the word out. Promotion. Marketing. Sales. Even if you've got the most amazing, one-of-a-kind, stop the presses kind of project, if you don't plan a strategic marketing campaign, and work your plan, then no one outside of your circle of friends and family is going to hear about it. Good stuff regardless of what kind of project - music, print, business venture.

Ten most overpaid jobs in the U.S.

from CBS Marketwatch bq. What follows is a list of the 10 most overpaid jobs in the U.S., in reverse order, drafted with input from compensation experts: bq. 10) Wedding photographers 9) Pilots for major airlines 8) West Coast longshoremen 7) Airport skycaps 6) Real estate agents selling high-end homes 5) Motivational speakers and ex-politicians on the lecture circuit 4) Orthodontists 3) CEOs of poorly performing companies 2) Washed-up pro athletes in long-term contracts 1) Mutual-fund managers Interesting - some of these surprised me. The article goes into more detail.

Dr. John Gray's PhD came from a diploma-mill

from Rick Ross' excellent CultNews site:

The relationship guru who constantly promotes himself as "Dr. John Gray" and lists a "Ph.D." has only one accredited degree, a high school diploma.

Previously reported that Gray's doctorate is "worthless." According to California's attorney general a "diploma mill" that was later shut down issued it.

CultNews kept checking further and can now report that both of John Gray's other purported degrees are also unaccredited and essentially worthless too.

Neither his BA nor his MA is from an accredited institution of higher education.


from the U.K. Telegraph

It was left to the head of Fox News, Roger Ailes, to get to the key point.

Mr Ailes was taken with Mr Prodi's declaration that the EU would not give any money to the reconstruction of Iraq. "Did the Europeans realise," he asked, "that American taxpayers spent billions reconstructing Europe?" "They did," replied Mr Prodi expansively, "but friends could differ."

"Did the Europeans realise," continued Ailes, unabashed, "that their position in supporting the elimination of sanctions against Saddam when he was in power and refusing to aid rebuilding Iraq when he was gone, appeared 'odd'?"

Mr Prodi's English became more Italianate and his arm gestures more expansive. He appeared to be conducting Wagner's Ride of the Valkyries . It was not the case that the EU did not want to help reconstruction, he said, but there was no legitimate government in Iraq to which the EU could give any money.

Ailes continued: "The United States has some reservations about organisations the EU gives money to as well as regimes it supports. In Iraq we are trying to build a new government with some democratic standards. Why won't you help us?" he asked. "No, no, no," Prodi said theatrically. "We will not give money when we don't know to whom." Which of course explained the hundreds of millions given to the Palestinian Authority by the EU. They must have known it would end up in Mr Arafat's Swiss bank account. I had fleeting visions of jolly African dictators cashing their Euro-cheques.

One sympathises with Mr Prodi. If you have the dual goal of acting against the US while maintaining the image of acting in friendship, one's charms get stretched. The problem is the way that the EU developed and is continuing to develop. Now it stands for Western values in name only. In substance, it stands for accommodation with those forces of the world that are the opposite of such values.

Lost radioactive materials - dirty bomb

from Salon

Nov. 10, 2003 | WASHINGTON (AP) -- Federal investigators have documented 1,300 cases of lost, stolen or abandoned radioactive material inside the United States over the past five years and have concluded there is a significant risk that terrorists could cobble enough together for a dirty bomb.

Studies by the Energy Department's Los Alamos laboratory and the General Accounting Office found significant holes in the nation's security net that could take years to close, even after improvements by regulators since Sept. 11, 2001.

"The world of radiological sources developed prior to recent concerns about terrorism, and many of the sources are either unsecured or provided, at best, with an industrial level of security," the Los Alamos lab concluded two months ago in a report that was reviewed by The Associated Press.

Scary stuff...

Pollutants from Shipping

article in Nature

Each year tankers, container ships and trawlers emit a quantity of nitrogen oxides (NOx) similar to that released by the entire United States, the study finds1. "A single industry's emissions rival an entire nation," says marine-policy researcher James Corbett of the University of Delaware in Newark.

Nitrogen oxides are potent pollutants. Produced in large amounts by ships' burning of heavy diesel fuel, called bunker, they can release complex cocktails of reactive gases, such as ozone, into the atmosphere.

Bunker fuel is nasty stuff - consistancy of tar. It has to be kept hot in order for it to flow.

Penn State and RIAA

from The Register

Last week, it was announced that Penn State University was paying for a Napster subscription for each student to they could download "free" music into their computers.

Now it turns out that there was a big political element behind this decision:

For those keeping a close eye on the music download service scene, we'd like to introduce you to Barry K. Robinson.

Robinson sits on Penn State University's Board of Trustees, and, as it turns out, serves as senior counsel for none other than the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). This is a handy coincidence. You might recall that Penn State announced a deal last week to subsidize the Napster music service and give all of its students free music downloads.

more here:

Penn State's deep ties to the RIAA are intriguing. Along with Robinson, the school's President Graham Spanier serves as co-chair of the Committee on Higher Education and the Entertainment Industry with Cary Sherman who is President of the RIAA.

The money comes out of the student's IT fees - you cannot save the songs (an additional $0.99/song fee is needed for this) and the music goes away from your system if you disconnect the computer from the Penn State network. Plus, it only runs on Windows.

Vegetarinism is good for you?

Two interesting reports regarding vegetarianism and health:

from the U.K. Independent

Vegan and macrobiotic diets have led to the return of rickets in Britain, according to experts. They say cases among children are rising, more than 50 years after the disease was virtually eradicated by better health and nutrition.

Please note - this is a summary since the article is more than one-week old.

and a bit of interesting news from Prevention

Vitamin B12 deficiency
A new German study found B12 levels low enough to cause attention, mood, and thinking problems in a whopping 68% of vegetarians, and low enough to raise blood homocysteine--a risk factor for heart disease, dementia, and Alzheimer's--in 38%. Remedy: a daily multivitamin with 100% of the daily value for B12 (6 micrograms).

The article doesn't provide a link to the German study but this is of interest...

You are what you eat.

GM foods - the Rat and the Potato

from the Life Sciences Network
(my emphasis)

Witch-hunts usually target people, Lance Kennedy writes. But in recent years one of the most successful witch-hunts targeted an innocent technology.

It all began in 1997 with a piece of incredibly shoddy science. A researcher fed raw genetically modified potatoes to lab rats and notice they became sick. He passed the results on to the world�s media and what followed was a frenzy with Armageddon-like declarations. On the back of this free publicity the anti-GM lobby launched their crusade.

Six months later two findings were ignored. The first was that the GM potatoes were harmless. All raw potatoes, GM or not, are toxic to rats.

The second was that an anti-GM crusade was an ideal way to arouse public fear and paranoia. Membership in anti-GM lobby groups was up and so was fund raising.

Some of the larger groups, over six years, increased their earnings from under $50 million to over $150 million US per year. Anti-GM hysteria was very profitable. These groups had vast amounts of money under their control and that meant increased power.

Even when the scientific claims that launched the crusade were found lacking the campaigns continued. Today they rely upon lies, wild speculation and emotionalistic propaganda. If we discard the red herrings that are thrown out we are left with two important issues surrounding the use of genetically modified crops and foods.

The first question: Is it safe?
The second: Is it useful?

For all government approved GM crops and foods the safety issue is clear. They are totally safe. The list of scientific, extra-governmental bodies that have researched and approved GM foods is almost endless: the World Health Organisation, the Food and Agriculture Organisation, the United Nations Food Program, the British Royal Society, the French Academy of Science and Medicine and many more.

When it comes to safety GM foods are the most studied foods we eat. Just in the United States alone each GM crop or food undergoes about 1,000 laboratory and field tests.

So far over 2 billion people have eaten GM foods for over a decade and there is not one single scientifically confirmed case of any harm, no matter how slight, arising from the genetic modification of these foods.

Are they useful? Absolutely.

GM sweet potatoes in Africa are immune to a devastating disease that often kills 100 percent of vital food crops. The inventor, Dr. Florence Wambugu says this will feed an extra ten million starving Africans. The most used GM crop is a herbicide resistant soya bean. Using it allows no-till agriculture that saves one billion tonnes of topsoil from erosion each year in the United States alone.

GM corn is cultivated without the use insecticides and reduces the amount of toxic pesticides by 5,000 tonnes per year. That figure is increasing.

Golden rice is a GM variety with extra vitamin A. It has the potential to save hundreds of thousands of children from going blind.

Anti-GM witch-hunters are causing enormous human suffering.

In Zambia, where 3 million people are starving, the United States offered food aid in the form of corn that contained some GM varieties. Americans have been eaten those varieties for years with no harm. But the anti-GM lobby got to the Zambian government with a staggering lie: GM corn is toxic.

In the Philippines 30 percent of children suffer from vitamin A deficiency. Golden rice, which was to be released there, was stopped by anti-GM lobbyists. They claimed it could cause impotency or make one�s hair fall out.

Greenpeace was especially vitriolic in it�s attack. Some proponents suspect this is because Golden rice is especially useful and if it were seen to have dramatic benefits it would undermine the entire anti-GM crusade.

What of the future?

Experience with past witch-hunts suggests that hysteria eventually reaches a peak. And it appears the hysteria against GM is peaking. From now on we can expect to see the rational elements growing stronger till the anti-GM lobby is discredited. Apart from a few die-hards the campaign will cease.

Much damage has already been done and the lives of thousands have been lost by these ill advised attacks. But again if history is an indication the witch-hunters will simply move on to new hysteria. Already some of the anti-GM crowd are gearing up to launch a campaign to oppose the fledgling science of nanotechnology. Nonsense never ends.

Lance Kennedy, B.Sc., is the author of the recently published book Ecomyth. This opinion piece is provided as a public service by the Institute for Liberal Values. For more information contact

10 November 2003

All raw potatoes are toxic to rats - you think that this would have caused the anti-GM foods people to re-evaluate their position but no... They keep on rollin' along.

Science is all about re-evaluating your ideas in the light of new data.
The anti-GM people are running a political campaign based on hysteria and false information. They are not based on science.

from the Australian Herald Sun newspaper:

THE Australian Greens have demanded that taxpayers fund sex-change operations under Medicare.

Senator Kerry Nettle is pushing for sex change surgery to be included in the Federal Government's $917 million Medicare package.
The Greens want voters with alternative sexual preferences to get access to Medicare in both the public and private health systems under their Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Intersex policy package.

Health Minister Tony Abbott has written off negotiations with the Greens and instead opened the door to discussions with the Australian Democrats.

Under current laws, recipients of sex change operations are eligible for a 20 per cent tax break if costs exceed $1500 a year.


Interesting commentary from Robert Bidinotto

The first spark of the California fire season ignited unseen, 'way back in 1988, when its kangaroo rat was declared an "endangered species." Since then, compliance with the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA) of 1973 has forced California communities, and countless more across the nation, to develop species and habitat "conservation plans" that severely limit human activities in "protected" areas.

"Protected," that is, from everything except wildfires--especially on the vast tracts of government lands and forests in the West. "Species protections" and "wilderness" designations have erected formidable legal barriers to common-sense forestry management measures such as cutting new roads through forests for fire-fighting equipment, bulldozing "firebreaks," and clearing away dead branches, underbrush, and sage scrub--fuels which send fires leaping to the crowns of trees and raging out of control.

The General Accounting Office warned in 1999 of the dangerous accumulation of fuel, but environmentalist pressures continued to prevent humans from managing environments that greens preferred to keep "pristine." In a recent Wall Street Journal article, Robert H. Nelson surveyed the resulting damages and body counts. In 2000, 8.4 million acres went up in smoke. In 2002, 6.9 million more acres were reduced to ashes, as were 800 homes, in firestorms that also took the lives of 23 more firefighters, and cost $1.7 billion. Now, three-quarters of a million acres of California are gone, and with them, over 3,500 homes, $2 billion, and 22 more human lives. And all this doesn't count the impact on critters, either. These conflagrations destroyed many of the very "endangered species" and habitats that environments claimed they wish to protect.

He gives a bunch of links to back up his ideas - well worth thinking about...

Nanoparticles clearly finger the culprit

from the New Scientist

Oil-seeking nanoparticles could give police the clearest fingerprints yet, suggests new research.

Law enforcement officers currently search for prints by dusting a crime scene with fluorescent powder. This sticks to the oily residue left by the fingertip, showing up the whorls and ridges. But sometimes the prints are not clear enough to finger a suspect.

The new dust made of sticky nanoparticles could help. The powders used today work because oily prints have a natural tackiness. But the nanoparticle dust being developed at the University of Sunderland in the UK will actively seek out any oil.

The nanoparticles are tiny glass spheres between 200 and 600 nanometres in diameter. As well as being speckled with a fluorescent dye, they are coated with hydrophobic molecules, which are repelled by water and attracted to oil. So they fix tightly to the fingerprint.

Cool use of technology!

Toxic US ghost ships should 'go home'

from the New Scientist

Four toxic US "ghost" ships, which have been legally barred from being dismantled in a UK port, should return home says the UK government.

However, UK authorities acknowledge the vessels may not be able to safely traverse the Atlantic during the winter. If this is the case a "safe and environmentally sound storage" must be found for the antiquated vessels.


However, the company's waste management licence to dispose of the ships has been ruled invalid. Furthermore, even if they do dock, an injunction against any work other than safety work being carried was granted by the High Court to three Hartlepool residents and FoE on Wednesday.

The dilapidated vessels, which have languished in the James River, Virginia for decades, hold hundreds of tons of asbestos, oil and the gender-bending chemicals PCBs. Bringing them to the UK is "extremely hazardous and poses serious pollution threat" says FoE.

So basically, the U.K. company won the bid to disassemble the ships and remediate the toxins but three people (and Freinds of the Earth) won an injunction to stop this. Now, the ships will be sitting at anchor off the U.K. coast until something breaks...

The Ten Most Violated Homepage Design Guidelines

from Jakob Nielsen

Summary: There are ten usability mistakes that about two-thirds of corporate websites make. The prevalence of these errors alone warrants attention, especially since they appear on sites with significant investment in usable design.
I typically focus my top-ten lists on issues that I think are the most important and most in need of attention. This time, I've used a different criterion: I've focused on the known usability principles that designers most frequently violate. Whether big or small, the very prevalence of these usability problems makes them worthy of attention.

The frequency statistics are based on the numerous homepage reviews that my company has performed since I published my book on homepage usability. This data source introduces a bias, because only big companies or government agencies with a substantial usability commitment will invest $10,000 to have an independent expert assess its homepage design. However, we can turn that bug into a feature: if companies with a demonstrated commitment to usability make certain mistakes, they must be particularly slippery pitfalls.

For each of the ten most frequent mistakes, I state the deplorably low percentage of homepages that follow the guideline. I've sorted the list by compliance rate: number one is the guideline that the fewest sites follow (that is, the mistake that's made most often).

Chess match in VR

from Wired

While Neo slugs it out with Agent Smith on the silver screen, chess champ Garry Kasparov is about to face off against a different -- but no less formidable -- computer adversary in New York this week.

In what's becoming an annual tradition, Kasparov will take on the world's best chess-playing computer program, ChessBase's Fritz, for a $200,000 purse.

The four-game match, running from Nov. 11 to 18 at New York's Athletic Club, is once again billed as "Man versus Machine," but with an added twist.

The match is the "first official world chess championship in total virtual reality," proclaims organizer X3D in the best carnival-barker tradition. "A chess spectacle like none ever seen before."

Playing a special version of Fritz, which has been given a 3-D interface, Kasparov will sit in front of a monitor wearing a pair of 3-D glasses. The board will appear to float in front of Kasparov's face. Keeping it virtual, Kasparov will use voice commands to stop the clock and move his pieces.

Despite the 3-D gimmick, the tournament is a serious test of the state of computer chess, said Mig Greengard, a chess writer and one of the tournament's commentators.

Goose Creek incident

Glen Reynolds has a good writeup on the Goose Creek Incident


On Friday, police in Goose Creek, South Carolina raided Stratford High School in search of drugs. At the behest of Principal George McCrackin, they burst in, and forced students to lie face-down in the hallways while they menaced them with drawn guns. (You can see the video here.)

The security overkill led to considerable humiliation for the police and principal � though not nearly as much as they deserve � when no drugs were found, and when footage from the dozens of security cameras in the high school made the news, offering graphic evidence that the Goose Creek police were acting like thugs. Parents, not suprisingly, are �infuriated.�

Principal McCrackin would seem to be this year�s poster-boy for home schooling. With an Orwellian network of video surveillance (if you play the news video linked above, you can see him sitting in front of a bank of TV screens), with �confidential informants� among the students, and with a police force willing to raid a high school as if it were a nest of terrorists, he still couldn�t find the drugs. If, indeed, there were any drugs to begin with. Why would anyone pay taxes to support this sort of expensive and nasty foolishness? A lot of Goose Creek residents may ask themselves that very question.


Uganda conflict 'worse than Iraq'

from the BBC

The humanitarian situation in northern Uganda is worse than in Iraq, or anywhere else in the world, a senior United Nations official has said. UN Under Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs, Jan Egeland was speaking to the BBC after visiting the area affected by 18 years of civil war.

"It is a moral outrage" that the world is doing so little for the victims of the war, especially children, he said.

And the U.N. is doing exactly what to help this situation?



EU scores steel victory over US

from the BBC

Steel tariffs have raised costs for US industry

The World Trade Organisation (WTO) has confirmed that US tariffs on steel imports are illegal.

The WTO's announcement is a victory for the European Union (EU), and puts fresh pressure on Washington to withdraw import duties on steel.

The WTO appellate body upheld the decision of a panel of trade judges that the tariffs were not consistent with international trade rules.

The US said it "disagrees" with the ruling and would review the decision.

The trade organisation said the US measures were "inconsistent" with free trade agreements.

We hope that President Bush will act quickly to remove the... restrictions, so that we can get on with supplying our US customers on a fair and equitable basis

Spokesman for Anglo-Dutch steelmaker Corus

It said: " The appellate body recommends ... the United States to bring its safeguard measures, ... into conformity with its obligations under WTO rules", the 186-page ruling said.

The EU, whose steel industry has undergone a painful reorganisation, had joined forces with Brazil, Japan, and other exporters to complain to the WTO about the US tariffs, imposed 21 months ago.

The European Commission has drawn up a hit list of US imports worth about $2.2bn a year - including Harley Davidson motorcycles, citrus fruits and textiles - which will be targeted with retaliatory sanctions.

Riiight - they are going to gripe about our tarrifs on steel and turn around and impose tarrifs on our stuff... That's going to go over really really well.

Note that this is the EU - "New" European countries who aren't in the EU are doing just fine and don't need this level of protectionism.

another Iraqui Blog

Ran into another blog from Iraq - English is not their first language but love and feelings from the heart is.

I used to know a bunch of middle-eastern people and there are some wonderful folks out there. There are also a large number of 'radical' islamists who have corrupted the culture in response to their own cultural failings.

We must not lump these two population sets together - they are two different groups of people and the wonderful ones are in the great majority.

Anyway, read his entry:

Greetings all,

My God, the other Iraqi bloggers must have experienced this too. The deluge has started already. But I am overjoyed, I try hard to read every comment. Most of them so full of Love. Yeah, it is about Love after all. Each comment deserves to be answered and discussed in depth. Forgive me everybody. The task is simply impossible. People ask questions; serious questions; questions that need to be answered. It makes you wonder; what for these multi-billion media empires if the most elementary information so badly required by the people are not available?

Thanks Ziad ( Healing Iraq ), comrade in arms, it was your inspiration that started me on this.

( Allah Akbar Wal yakhsaa Al Khasioun - Good Old Saddam !!! ) - Iraqi joke friends.

So many things, I know not where to start.

But before everything else - a call to american and western people, before everything else:

An Iraqi american ( Sam ) writes in the comments section of Healing Iraq, that his house was recently attacked by somebody and an american neighbour came to his rescue.

You have amongst you in the US alone an estimated more that one million Iraqis, not to mention the other Iraqis elsewhere in Europe etc., These are christians, Moslems and etc. from all groups of the Iraqi population. The vast majority of these are patriotic and for a new Iraq.

But you also have the Mob, just like the dancing peasants of Fallujah, these are ignorant people who know nothing and can't see past their noses. We are disturbed by this level of ignorance which cannot distinguish friend from foe, and lumps everybody under generic classifications which bear no rhyme or logic behind them.

Please fight this ignorance, please be kind to our compatriots in your midst. Remember every body what President Bush has said : " Our greatest allies are the Iraqi people ".

Many people ask whether we have heard the President's speach. Yes we have. Immediately the Chorus of AlJazeera, Al Arabiya, etc. and amazingly, CNN, BBC etc, started their spoiling, doubt-semming, bitchy insinuations, interviewing, this character from egypt and that "analyst " from Syria etc. ( seldom an Iraqi is asked, or if they find one, a well known former close associate of the Saddam regime or someone like that ). Pretending to be objective, pretending to be "balanced", they try their best to kill the joy that the shining reassuring words bring to our frightened hearts.

It goes on and is worth reading.

The bad news you hear about in the media is coming from an area that comprises a few percent of the Iraq country (Iraq is about the size of California - the Sunni-triangle is about the size of L.A.) Saddam had his power base here and this is where the remanents of the Baath party hardliners live and still work... The rest of the country is welcoming us, things are going really well and if you spend the time digging on the web, there is a lot of accurate reporting available...

Early Chronophotography

Fascinating site presenting early work in time/motion photography. Most of us know about Eadweard Muybridge but there were a lot of other people working in those fields.

One in particular stands out:
Lucien Bull did work with triggered flash and continuously moving film to capture some wonderful images of flying insects. Well before Edgerton's day.

Couple more entries tonight...

Jen and I finished the day with an Awards banquet.

Even though we did not have a product to submit, we attended the first anual National Cider Tasting Awards banquet in Seattle. There were about 30 ciders from all over the USA and Canada and there were nine awards given out. Excellent food, wonderful people and some amazing ciders!

Mass Gravesites in Iraq

from the Guardian

BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) - As many as 300,000 Iraqis killed during Saddam Hussein's 23-year dictatorship are believed to be buried in more than 250 mass graves found so far around the country, the top human rights official in the U.S.-led civilian administration said Saturday.

Sandy Hodgkinson spoke at workshop to train dozens of Iraqis to find and protect mass grave sites that many fear could be destroyed by desperate relatives trying to dig for evidence of their missing loved ones.

Roger Ebert / Columbine massacre

Interesting review by Roger Ebert where he talks about his experience with the Columbine massacre:

Let me tell you a story. The day after Columbine, I was interviewed for the Tom Brokaw news program. The reporter had been assigned a theory and was seeking sound bites to support it. "Wouldn't you say," she asked, "that killings like this are influenced by violent movies?" No, I said, I wouldn't say that. "But what about 'Basketball Diaries'?" she asked. "Doesn't that have a scene of a boy walking into a school with a machine gun?" The obscure 1995 Leonardo Di Caprio movie did indeed have a brief fantasy scene of that nature, I said, but the movie failed at the box office (it grossed only $2.5 million), and it's unlikely the Columbine killers saw it.

The reporter looked disappointed, so I offered her my theory. "Events like this," I said, "if they are influenced by anything, are influenced by news programs like your own. When an unbalanced kid walks into a school and starts shooting, it becomes a major media event. Cable news drops ordinary programming and goes around the clock with it. The story is assigned a logo and a theme song; these two kids were packaged as the Trench Coat Mafia. The message is clear to other disturbed kids around the country: If I shoot up my school, I can be famous. The TV will talk about nothing else but me. Experts will try to figure out what I was thinking. The kids and teachers at school will see they shouldn't have messed with me. I'll go out in a blaze of glory."

In short, I said, events like Columbine are influenced far less by violent movies than by CNN, the NBC Nightly News and all the other news media, who glorify the killers in the guise of "explaining" them. I commended the policy at the Sun-Times, where our editor said the paper would no longer feature school killings on Page 1. The reporter thanked me and turned off the camera. Of course the interview was never used. They found plenty of talking heads to condemn violent movies, and everybody was happy.

light Blogging this weekend

I spent this afternoon at the U.W. Auction getting some lab equipment for Black Mountain Cider and tonight, Jen and I are going to a cider tasting and dinner event.

Tomorrow proves to be busy to with hiking and beer brewing planned...

Blogging will resume Monday

Unemployment Rate

Excellent analysis of the 'recession' and recovery over on QandO blog - scroll down to Unemployment Rate or read here:

Today the Unemployment Rate has been lowered to 6.0%, providing a good excuse to review a little rate history.

The unemployment rate has been cited as evidence that Bush's economic policies are hurting the economy. Fine, let's take a look at our current performance, relative to other post-recession periods.
(unless otherwise linked, all data is from the Bureau of Labor Statistics)

* The recession ended in November 2001.
* Unemployment reached a one-month high of 6.4%, while more generally staying in the 5.8-6.2% range.
* Amount of time between the end of the recession and the date at which the unemployment rate declined to 6.0% - 23 months.

1990-91 recession...
* The recession ended in March 1991.
* Unemployment reached a one-month high of 7.8%, while more generally staying in the 6.8-7.4% range.
* Amount of time between the end of the recession and the date at which the unemployment rate declined to 6.0% - 41 months.

1981-82 recession....
* The recession ended in November 1982
* Unemployment reached a two-month high of 10.8%, but ranged widely from 7-10%.
* Amount of time between the end of the recession and the date at which the unemployment rate declined to 6.0% - 57 months.

Now, compare our previous post-recessionary periods with our current post-recessionary period and try to figure out why this unemployment rate is being called unusually bad.

Oh. Right. Elections.

My bad.


Novell eats SuSE. Now what?

from the Linux Journal Suit Watch column:

Back to Novell. I've known the company for a long time, since nearly the beginning. I even consulted for them for a while. I think Novell gets scant credit for a number of huge innovations, starting with changing the network conversation from an argument between proprietary locked-in silos to an agreement around the need for a roster of interoperable services, including file, print, security, directory, management, messaging and so on.

The Novell people responsible for changing that conversation, Craig and Judith Burton, are two of my best friends. In fact, we became friends because I was an extreme fan of the jujitsu moves they put on everybody else in the market at that time. It was amazing to watch. Remember Digital's OmniNet? Wang's WangNet? 3Com's 3Server? IBM's Token Ring? Ungermann-Bass' NetOne? How about Microsoft's MSNet? Remember the whole debate between fat and thin Ethernet cabling? Or the various expensive proprietary forms of wiring IBM wanted you to buy to replace whatever it was your company already had spent hundreds of thousands to pull through your buildings? No?

Thank Novell. They blew all that up. They played rope-a-dope with everybody else in the category, and when it was over Novell was King Network Rat, in spades. Nobody else even was in the game.

Then, somewhere along in there, Novell CEO Ray Noorda turned into Captain Ahab and Bill Gates became his Great White Whale. Ray wanted to kill Microsoft. For that he bought WordPerfect, so he could compete in office suites. He bought UNIX from AT&T and rebranded it UnixWare, so he could compete in operating systems. He bought Digital Research so he could get DR-DOS and needle Microsoft about ripping it off. Worst of all, he got rid of Craig and Judith. When he retired, he left a company with a roster of moribund acquisitions and a huge legacy business that continues to sustain it to this day.

The Jews running the world...

from National Review Online

Mahathir Mohamad, Malaysia's prime minister, stepped down late last month. You're welcome! Yes, that was me. I'm an American Jew, and I made sure it was time for him to go play cricket and visit his friends in jail.

After Mohamad's inflammatory comments about Jews running the world, and all the political fallout (thanks, Mr. President � boy, we owe you another one!), I thought perhaps it was time to clear the air. The truth is...we do run the world.

Somebody has to! Worlds don't run themselves. Have you ever seen a first-grade class when the teacher leaves the room? Please.

Here's how it works. Years ago (I'm afraid I can't be more specific), a meeting was held. After considerable arguing and complaining about the food (you can imagine), it was decided that every Jewish child would assume responsibility for about one-dozen categories of world governance, beginning on his or her 13th birthday. Now you know why Bar and Bat Mitzvah parties are so stressful for Jewish moms and dads � it's not just the chopped liver Mt. Sinai that's leaning to the left. The world is literally on our shoulders. (Why do you think we're always complaining that something hurts?)


Illegal imegration - a different look at it...

in the Michagan News

But ten years ago, something happened in Austin. The meat packing plants began transporting illegal aliens from Texas to work in the plants around Austin. Why? To increase profits. At first, it didn�t mean much because the illegal aliens worked at odd jobs. They didn�t complain because they feared being deported. Their numbers were so small that the regular workers didn�t take notice.

That changed as the years passed. As ten illegals turned into 100 and then into 1000, and now over 3,000, Austin, Minnesota suffers accelerating problems. Once Austin kids skipped to school to learn their ABC�s. Today, they experience several foreign languages they can�t understand. At first, the teachers had the top kids in the class try to teach the �new� kids how to speak English. But as the food processing plants kept importing more workers and more kids, the teachers suffered the onslaught. Today, classroom teachers must deal with languages, head lice, hepatitis and the threat of tuberculosis because illegal aliens and their children bypass health screening at the border. Last year, eight police officers in Austin tested positive for tuberculosis.

Along with the illegal aliens came drugs, driving without driver�s licenses, lack of health insurance, non-citizens using medical facilities on taxpayer�s money, safe houses where illegals sleep 20 to a house, and a growing tension in the community.

The city leaders, at first, tried to accommodate the incursion into Austin. But, slowly, steadily, jobs vanished and if an Austin citizen complained--an illegal alien would take his place. The workplace, where standards were once upheld, now became a dangerous place where safety violations were overlooked and common place. At first the papers reported the drunk, drugged and disorderly that were arrested as �illegal aliens�, but soon, they became �undocumented workers�. A few townspeople stood up to protest at schools and community meetings but were shouted down by being called �racists�.

The downside of being overly Politically Correct...

Your personal data overseas...


Two of the three major credit-reporting agencies, each holding detailed files on about 220 million U.S. consumers, are in the process of outsourcing sensitive operations abroad, and a third may follow suit shortly, industry officials acknowledge for the first time.

Privacy advocates say the outsourcing of files that include Social Security numbers and complete credit histories could lead to a surge in identity theft because U.S. laws cannot be enforced overseas.

Disturbing trend...

CSS - Keep it Simple

Excellent article from Digital Web Magazine regarding Cascading Style Sheets and why the current trend to do clever hacks with them is a Bad Thing...

The Grinch who stole Linux

Wonderful parody of the Grinch casting our favorite corporation as the Grinch...

The Grinch Who Stole Linux
-- by Scott Lazar

Every GNU
Down in GNU-ville
Liked Linux a lot...

But SCO,
who lived just North of GNU-ville,
Did NOT!

SCO hated Linux! The GNU Linux season!
Now, please don't ask why. No one quite knows the reason.
It could be that their heads weren't screwed on quite right.
It could be, perhaps, that their shoes were too tight.
But I think that the most likely reason of all
May have been that their bank account was two sizes too small.

It gets better...

Patrick Moore

Patrick Moore was one of the co-founders of Greenpeace back in 1971.

Excerpts from some of his essays:

When I helped to create Greenpeace from a church basement in Vancouver in 1971 I had no idea that I would spend the next 15 years as an international director and leader of many Greenpeace campaigns. I also had no idea that after I left in 1986 they would evolve into a band of scientific illiterates who use Gestapo tactics to silence people who wish to express their views in a civilized forum.

Since its founding in the late 60's the modern environmental movement had created a vision that was international in scope and had room for people of all political persuasions. We prided ourselves in subscribing to a philosophy that was "trans-political, trans-ideological, and trans-national" in character. For Greenpeace, the Cree legend "Warriors of the Rainbow" referred to people of all colors and creeds, working together for a greener planet. The traditional sharp division between left and right was rendered meaningless by the common desire to protect our life support systems. Violence against people and property were the only taboos. Non-violent direct action and peaceful civil disobedience were the hallmarks of the movement. Truth mattered and science was respected for the knowledge it brought to the debate.

Now this broad-based vision is challenged by a new philosophy of radical environmentalism. In the name of "deep ecology" many environmentalists have taken a sharp turn to the ultra-left, ushering in a mood of extremism and intolerance. As a clear signal of this new agenda, in 1990 Greenpeace called for a "grassroots revolution against pragmatism and compromise".

Surprisingly enough the second event that caused the environmental movement to veer to the left was the fall of the Berlin Wall. Suddenly the international peace movement had a lot less to do. Pro-Soviet groups in the West were discredited. Many of their members moved into the environmental movement bringing with them their eco-Marxism and pro-Sandinista sentiments.

Despite the fact that communism and state socialism has failed, eco-extremists are basically anti-business. They dislike "competition" and are definitely opposed to profits. Anyone engaging in private business, particularly if they are sucessful, is characterized as greedy and lacking in morality. The extremists do not seem to find it necessary to put forward an alternative system of organization that would prove efficient at meeting the material needs of society. They are content to set themselves up as the critics of international free enterprise while offering nothing but idealistic platitudes in its place.

A voice of reason...

Washington Grape Harvest

This years Grape harvest was less than usual but the grapes themselves were outstanding.


PROSSER, Wash. (AP) --

Wine grape growers in Washington harvested less fruit this year than expected, but the smaller quantity means more intense flavors and an exceptional 2003 vintage, growers and winemakers say.

The crop estimate by the Washington Association of Wine Grape Growers for the 2003 growing season was 124,000 tons at the end of July, the highest ever. Harvests, though, have been coming in anywhere from 15 percent to 25 percent below that figure, Executive Director Vicky Scharlau said.

"We knew we would come in shorter than the estimate. We just didn't know how much," Scharlau said. "But that just really focuses the flavor and the taste on the grapes that are there."

Industry leaders said weather was the biggest factor this year: a cooler spring, a scorching summer that kept the berry size down, followed by a spell of warm weather in the autumn that lengthened grapes' hang time on the vine and improved flavor.

Martketing 101 - NOT

The Register has an interesting news item about Belkin routers.

It seems that every so often, some models will intercept an HTTP call and... well... rout it from where it was supposed to go over to here (a Belkin corporation web page advertising some services)

Belkin is now added to my list of " Do Not Patronise this Vendor "

Rediscovering Iraq

Nice article by Yahia Said regarding the return of normalcy to Iraq.

I could not believe my ears. �I apologise for the inconvenience,� said the Iraqi policeman as he finished searching our car. We were at the checkpoint in front of the Alhamra hotel in Baghdad.

Over the past week I had grown accustomed to �the rediscovered humanity�, as another policeman put it, of Iraq�s law enforcers. But this was too much. With its policemen behaving like this, it is little wonder that Iraq is being perceived as a threat by its neighbours. Any visitor from most other Arab countries, where an encounter with the police is considered lucky if it is limited to verbal abuse, may be so shocked by this treatment as to return home bent on regime change.

By Philip Stott
(Filed: 16/08/2002)

Where conferences on "sustainable development" are concerned, Schumacher's precept, "small is beautiful", has been long abandoned. Later this month, 65,000 delegates will descend on Johannesburg for "Earth Summit 2002" - the World Summit on Environment and Development.

These will include 106 government heads, 10,000 officials from 174 countries, and 6,000 journalists. The BBC team alone could top 100. Twenty UN bodies will be represented. A second parallel conference, comprising a kaleidoscope of lobbyists from ornithologists to oil magnates, has already received 15,000 registrations. Sustaining the whole caboodle will be 27,000 police, who may well be relieved that George W Bush is unlikely to attend.

Auden's Unknown Citizen might well ask: "What on earth is it all about?" The answer is, an empty phrase that Humpty Dumpty could employ to mean anything. "Sustainable development" was born out of the Green agenda of the 1970s and 1980s, including such apocalyptic constructs as the population timebomb and limits to growth, both of which proved false.

It received an initial airing in the World Commission on Environment and Development in 1987, but gained hegemony during the UN Conference on Environment and Development, held at Rio de Janeiro in 1992. Rio generated a programme, Agenda 21, for implementing sustainable development throughout the world. The Johannesburg jamboree is effectively Rio+10, a push for a revitalised and integrated UN system for sustainable development.

Sustainable development was defined in 1987 as "development that meets the needs of the present generation without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs". This was a good motherhood and apple pie sentiment, but how has it worked out?

Today, sustainable development is a ubiquitous, politically compliant phrase, a pleasant-sounding palliative to inexorable and inevitable change. It is dished up as a placebo to eco-chondriacs the world over. Ecological and economic change are the norm, not the exception. Equilibrium solutions are impossible; we inhabit a disturbing, non-equilibrium world, in which volcanoes erupt, earthquakes quake, seas rise and fall, and climate changes, whether under human influence or not.

Sustainable development lurks everywhere - for business, it is a neat PC word: all PR and ethical investment, but signifying little; for scientists, it means: "Give me funds for research"; for politicians: "Give me your nice Green vote".

The biggest problem arises when authoritarian environmentalists hijack the phrase. Then sustainable development becomes either no growth at all or limited growth of a type approved by an elite few - wind farms, yes: nuclear power no; organics, yes: GM no. This is why, so often, environmental organisations try to portray business as the arch-enemy of sustainable development. Like biodiversity, another key word from Rio, sustainability is thrown into the argument to block development and growth, to conjure up a return to an imagined, usually rural, Utopia.

But, theoretically, sustainability flies in the face of reality. From anthropology via physics to zoology, the world does not function in equilibrium, but rather on chaotic, non-equilibrium principles, whether in the stock market or with climate change. Sustainability is intrinsically an equilibrium idea seeking equilibrium solutions. It is easily employed to soften the fact of change and, in doing so, it undermines human dynamism and adaptability. This is exposed in the much-touted oxymoron - "sustainable climate".

The Kyoto protocol on climate change also arose from Rio. Climate is the most complex, chaotic, non-linear system. The idea that climate can be managed "in a predictable way" by manipulating one factor, carbon dioxide, out of the millions of factors involved is Alice-in-Wonderland science, with the verdict before the trial. This is the ultimate flaw: the sheer hubris of humans maintaining a "sustainable climate" vividly demonstrates the delusions of the sustainability myth.

Kyoto will do absolutely nothing to halt climate change in any predictable manner. For all we know, it might even play a tiny part in triggering a most unfortunate plunge into another ice age, which on purely statistical grounds is just about due. As we grow economically, the "command-and-control" targets of the type set under Kyoto are utterly impractical.

The US Environmental Protection Agency has just reported that America's increase of 3.2 per cent in carbon dioxide emissions in 2000 resulted from economic growth of 2.5 per cent, with a concomitant rise in the demand for electricity and fuels, compounded by cooler winter conditions (so much for "global warming") and a decreased output from hydro-electric dams.

And before gloating, "Yes, but that's America," remember that, in 2000, Spain's emissions had risen by no less than 33.7 per cent on 1990 and even Britain saw its carbon dioxide emissions rise by 1.2 per cent year on year.

Sustainability is an unrealistic and potentially dangerous concept. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the June preparatory meeting for Johannesburg, in Bali, ended in deadlock. Since then, inevitably, there has been a crescendo of environmentalist hype, with the planet seen as dying from every imaginary ill. Yet the Earth Summit must succeed - not for environmentalists, but for the people of less developed countries, who require genuine development and growth, not an eco-imperialist agenda.

Ultimately, we need strong, flexible and growing economies, coupled with a political will to help the poorest, the most afflicted by inexorable and unpredictable change. We should be seeking diversity in energy production, not because of climate, but because diversity is a key to flexibility.

It would be heartening if the vast horde of eco-delegates, parading their wares at Johannesburg, would heed the sentiment of Nitin Desai, the secretary-general of the summit, who declared only this week: "Development is now as sexy as the environment."

Philip Stott is Emeritus Professor of Biogeography at the University of London
� Copyright of Telegraph Group Limited 2003

good point

Micheal J. Totten has a very salient point regarding the present Democratic party:

We Cannot Run Away

Democrats like to complain when people say they can�t be trusted with national security, as if it�s some "straw man" (their new favorite buzzword) spun up by Karl Rove and the White House.

It�s not what Republicans say that makes people wary. It�s what the Democrats say on their own.

Here is Peter Beinart, a Democrat I do trust, in the New Republic:

A CBS poll in late August found that 53 percent of Democrats wanted the United States to either increase troop levels in Iraq or hold them steady, versus 37 percent who wanted to decrease the number. By last week, that figure had reversed itself. In a late October Washington Post/ABC News poll, 54 percent of Democrats said the "U.S. should withdraw forces from Iraq to avoid casualties," while only 40 percent wanted to keep them there.

Thank heaven for that 40 percent. But more than half want to run away.

What a complete and utter disaster that would be. Nothing we could do, and I mean nothing, would ratchet up more terror attacks than surrendering to them. The Democrats would have blood on their hands. The Baathists and Islamists would wage a devastating civil war in Iraq. If the left doesn�t like war, they shouldn�t go and kickstart a pointless and evil one into action.

I want to trust my old party to do the right thing, to hang in there, to not give in to fear, to support a good cause and help democratize Iraq. But I can�t. Some Democrats get it. But it�s a minority faction now.

Apo-A1 (HDL)

Two links to the recent Apo-A1 (HDL) research:

Derek Lowe and

A Fairy, a Low-Fat Bagel, and a Sack of Hammers

From A List Apart

One bright, sunny day, the Bad Internet Fairy closed down every company and organization site on the web.

No more shopping. No more sites selling endless products and services. No more university, non-profit, or political sites.

All closed.

So all the programmers, designers, and usability engineers went home, shaking their heads.

Too bad! No more web.

And they all slept in the next morning. After all, with the web gone, why go to work? They stayed home, got up late, sipped on their cappuccinos and nibbled on low-fat bagels.

And they missed something.

Marsh Arabs

Wonderful article on the Marsh Arabs of Iraq and the return of their way of life.

All that Sabiha Fadel has in the world is now stacked in the sun at the edge of the water. There isn't much of it.

Water is returning to the dried-up wetlands

"We were living in the desert with nothing," she said. "When the waters came back, we returned immediately. It's a gift from God."

During the 1990s, tens of thousands of people living in Iraq's southern marshlands were driven into destitution as Saddam Hussein dried up the water that had sustained a way of life dating back around 5,000 years.

Victor Davis Hanson


So far most of our intelligentsia have been more eager to explain what this war is not than what it is. Yet the conflict is not a hash-it-out in the faculty lounge, nor a brainstorm over a headline in the newsroom, nor flashy quippmanship in a political debate.

No, it is a deadly business about young men sleeping out in the rocks of Afghanistan and under tanks in Iraq who right now need to know whether this country is at war, peace, or something in between. So we need some straight talk, perhaps brutal honesty about a growing number of false assumptions before we go any further.


It is pedestrian � and for that very purpose mouthed ad nauseam � that we are not at war with Muslims of the world or Islam per se. Of course, we are not.

But it is also near criminal not to see that the distortion of Islam � not of Christianity, not of Hinduism, not of Buddhism � is the fuel of this entire conflagration, from the Taliban and al Qaeda to Hamas and Hezbollah, with plenty of secular opportunistic abettors like Yasser Arafat, Saddam Hussein, Basher Assad, and the faux-holy men in Iran thrown in.

We need honest language, not more pablum that "all religions can be distorted by extremists" � as if the Inquisition, the Hundred Years War, Timothy McVeigh, or the Shintoism of the Japanese militarists were contemporary events or relevant to the current struggle. They are not.

Read the whole thing

can be downloaded here


The great unemployment problem...
Might be going away along with the 7% rise in the economy.

U.S. Department of Labor shows a marked decrease in the number of unemployment claims.

They were averaging around 380,000 - 390,000 but seem to be hitting 350,000 now and decreasing.


The only difference between the Democrats and the Republicans is that the Democrats allow the poor to be corrupt, too.

Oscar Levant

from Quote of the Day

iTunes giveaway

First Pepsi announces that it will be giving away 100 Million free tune downloads from Apple's iTunes.

Now, McDonalds is announcing the same thing only this time, it's One Billion tunes...

Here's more

Whoops - rumor not fact:
Thursday November 6, 12:51 pm ET

DES MOINES, Iowa (Dow Jones)--McDonald's Corp. (NYSE:MCD - News) characterized a published report that it plans a massive digital song giveaway promotion as "pure speculation."

Responding to inquiries about a story in Thursday's New York Post that the fast-food giant will team up with Apple Computer Inc. (NasdaqNM:AAPL - News) to offer up to one billion free iTune downloads, McDonald's issued a statement saying, "There are no agreements to announce, so anything else is pure speculation."

Wi-Fi security weakness

What??? Again???
Specific to 802.11i and Pre-Shared Key (used mainly for small networks)

Read here

Anyone with knowledge of the PSK can determine any PTK in the ESS through passive sniffing of the wireless network, listening for those all-important key exchange data frames. Also, if a weak passphrase is used, for example, a short passphrase, an offline dictionary attack can readily guess the PSK. Since the common usage will be a single PSK for the ESS, once this is learned by the attacker, the attacker is now a member of the ESS, and the whole ESS is compromised. The attacker can now read and forge any traffic in the ESS.

Pre-Shared Keying is provided in the standard to simplify deployments in small, low risk, networks. The risk of using PSKs against internal attacks is almost as bad as WEP. The risk of using passphrase based PSKs against external attacks is greater than using WEP. Thus the only value PSK has is if only truly random keys are used, or for deploy testing of basic WPA or 802.11i functions. PSK should ONLY be used if this is fully understood by the deployers.

Kyoto Protocol flaws

Calgary Herald has a followup article on the McIntyre/McKitrick temperature re-analysis:

Kyoto critics better duck
Global warming industry doesn't want to hear that their pet project is flawed

Michael Campbell
For the Calgary Herald

Tuesday, November 04, 2003

When you question a multi-billion-dollar windfall, you'd better look out and, make no mistake about it, the Kyoto protocol translates into monster money for many researchers, bureaucrats and public institutions.

Kyoto is also perhaps the most potent weapon in the arsenal of those who oppose western capitalism and push instead for massive intervention.

That's why Toronto-based analyst Steve McIntyre and University of Guelph economics professor Ross McKitrick had better be battening down the hatches. Their paper, published last week in the respected British journal, Energy and Environment, is arguably the most damaging attack to date on the science behind Kyoto.

In a nutshell, they convincingly reveal that flawed calculations, incorrect data and a biased selection of climate records led Kyoto linchpin Michael Mann of the University of Virginia to declare that the 20th-century temperature rise was unprecedented in the past millennium. After correcting the data and then employing Mann's own methodologies, they found no such increase in global temperature variations had taken place, which places Kyoto's whole rationale in question.

The Canadian study comes on the heels of a recent Harvard climate study that made headlines in the scientific community by arguing that we are not living in the warmest period in the past 1,000 years, as Kyoto proponents claim. The authors, Willie Soon and Sallie Baliunas, reviewed more than 250 research papers in the peer-reviewed scientific literature on past climate and concluded temperatures were higher in medieval times, from about 800 to 1300, than they are now.

Upon reviewing the study, David Legates, director of the Centre for Climatic Research at the University of Delaware, stated that it should lead the scientific community to the "inescapable conclusion that climate variability has been a natural occurrence."

A year ago, respected scientist Christopher Essex observed, "global warming ceased to be the subject of scientific debate years ago," but that sorry state of affairs now seems to be changing as an increasing number of scientists, even before the recent Canadian study, were recoiling against the political hijacking of the debate.

In September, at the closing session of the UN's World Climate Change Conference in Moscow, the conference chairman acknowledged that scientists who questioned the Kyoto "consensus" made up 90 per cent of the contributions from the floor. They pointed to numerous flaws and doubts in the scientific case underlying worries about climate change.

Keep in mind that this new research focuses on the science of climate change and doesn't include the numerous attacks on the economic analysis and modelling in Kyoto that John Reilly of the MIT Joint Program on the Science and Policy of Global Change declared were "an insult to serious analysis."

Asked why he changed his position on a particular issue, John Maynard Keynes once responded, "Sir, the facts have changed and when the facts change, I change -- what do you do, sir?"

In the case of Kyoto, the answer is predictable -- shoot the messenger. Both McKitrick and McIntyre can expect an avalanche of personal attacks from the politically motivated. In Canada, far too much money is at stake to derail the Kyoto juggernaut.

CA wildfires and environmentalists

Fox News has an interesting article on the thin / don't thin debate:

"Our forests are detonating like napalm bombs. We need to remove dead and dying bug-killed timber," said Rep. Wally Herger, R-Calif.

Is this Monday-morning quarterbacking spurred by the wildfires now raging in California? Hardly.

Rep. Herger uttered those words in August 1994 as part of his demand that Congress declare a state of emergency in federal forests to permit quick removal of dead trees, fallen branches and other debris that fuel wildfires -- like those that burned 3 million Western acres and killed 14 firefighters that year.

A spokesman for the Natural Resources Defense Council (search) responded at the time by calling Rep. Herger�s demand �a pretext for accelerated logging in the Sierra Nevada.�

Nine years later, though, Rep. Herger�s demand is looking pretty prescient.

Over 700,000 acres have burned so far this year in California alone, along with the loss of 20 lives and more than 2,600 homes destroyed. Last year, wildfires burned nearly 7 million acres, killed 23 firefighters, destroyed more than 800 homes and cost taxpayers more than $1.5 billion.

So what do the environmentalists have to say?

A spokesperson for the Natural Resources Defense Council called President Bush�s proposed plan to prevent forest fires by thinning excess growth �a Trojan horse� for sneaking through logging (search) projects.

As the Western forests burn -- and people die and homes are destroyed -- environmentalists and their political allies in Congress only seem concerned that some �old growth� trees may be cut in the process of thinning the nation�s tinder traps. Their nonsensical opposition to thinning only makes it easier for wildfires to spread out of control.

That�s positively cuckoo.

"We need to do some active management to prevent unnatural fire" that occurs as a result of dense underbrush and trees built up over decades, U.S. Forest Service Chief Dale Bosworth says. "If that means cutting a 14-foot [diameter] Sequoia, that's reasonable [to do to] prevent fire."

Amen, brother.

Thinning forests (search) works -- and it�s actually more effective over the long-term than simply fighting forest fires every year.

A 1910 wildfire in Idaho, Montana and Washington burned 3 million acres and spurred the federal government to spend money to aggressively fight forest fires. This fire-fighting policy had an unintended result; forests became overgrown with trees and vegetation that could serve as fuel for more catastrophic fires.

In forests that have only tens of trees per acre, flames tend to stay close to the ground. But in crowded forests with hundreds and thousands of trees per acre, like we have today, the flames can easily move across tree tops. �Flames are 90 feet tall instead of 3 feet tall," according to the University of Idaho forestry expert Dr. Leon Neuenschwander.

A bill currently under consideration in Congress calls for aggressive thinning on up to 20 million acres of federal land at high risk of fire. The bill would reduce bureaucratic reviews and limit appeals -- the tools environmentalists use to block rational forest management -- so that some thinning efforts could be completed within months.

President Bush urged the Senate to pass the legislation -- last May. �For too many years, bureaucratic tangles and bad forest policy have prevented foresters from keeping our woodlands healthy and safe," said the president.

"This year's fire outlook seems less severe, and that's good news," the president added. "Yet the danger persists, and many of our forests are facing a higher-than-normal risk of costly and catastrophic fires."

California is apparently one of the areas of elevated risk referred to by the president.

Putting aside the environmentalists� general anti-industry -- especially anti-logging -- political agenda and accepting for argument�s sake their alleged concerns about the need to preserve �old growth forests� for �future generations,� the bill before Congress does not permit unrestricted clear-cutting of old growth forests.

Rather, it�s a limited measure intended to prevent the spread of forest fires and it has the collateral benefit of helping the timber industry (search), which has lost 47,000 jobs since 1989. Let�s also not forget that trees -- even old growth -- are not irreplaceable. They will grow back. Forest products giant Weyerhaeuser plants 130 million seedlings every year.

Under Bush�s proposal for thinning overgrowth, we�ll still have venerable �old growth� but also reduced vulnerability to annual, unpreventable and destructive wildfires.

Environmentalist squawking about thinning overgrowth reminds me of the Santa Ana winds (search) -- hot air that only fans wildfire flames.

Email filtering and spam blocking

Excellent two-part series on setting up Outlook and Outlook Express to filter your incoming email and block spam and virusses.

Part #1

Part #2

This guys website deserves some time drilling into - lots of good stuff here...

One more post...

This is a blog by a dentist in Iraq.
This article needs to be read - here it is:

Wednesday, November 05, 2003 Anti-terrorism demonstrations I wish to elaborate on this topic which I mentioned two days ago. I didn't go into much details at that time because I had not prepared an entry, so I wrote it on the fly.

First, I have to explain to some western idealists that public demonstrations is an alien idea to the majority of Iraqis. We have been forced to demonstrate in favour of Saddam, the Ba'ath, Palestine, and Arab nationalism for 3 decades. Just to give you an idea on how that was like for us; party members would surround colleges, schools, and govt. offices. They block all outlets and shove people into buses which head to wherever the demonstrations are to be held. You simply cannot refuse to demonstrate. I remember hiding in the toilet back in high school whenever the buses came into the park to herd us to the demos. It wasn't a pleasant experience I can tell you. Once I got stuck and had to shout anti-imperialist slogans at one of these rallies just two years ago. You don't have the slightest idea of what it is like to live your life daily in fear.

Now today, we are facing terrorist and violent threats against our nurseries, schools, colleges, hospitals, clinics, oil pipelines, power stations, water purification systems, and other civilian facilities. If you think that a peaceful demonstration would deter those criminals from doing harm to us, then you are 100% wrong. Do you think the Syrians/Saudis/Iranians/Yemenis/Sudanese would simply say 'Oh look, the Iraqis don't want us there, lets go home and leave the Americans and Iraqis work it out'? Or if you think we should go out and face the dangers just to prove to you -paranoid Americans sitting in your ivory towers watching tv- that we do not support the terrorists, then you are wrong again.

You see a handful of teenagers dancing in front of the camera celebrating dead Americans, and you judge an entire people, you start whining about pulling the troops out of Iraq and giving the Iraqis what they deserve. Are you people really so close-minded? It is the fault of your news agencies that show you what they want, its certainly not ours. If you want us to go out and cry for your dead soldiers and wave American flags, then don't count on it either. We are losing way too many innocent Iraqis daily to be grieving over dead soldiers who have actually made a decision to come here. What about the thousands of dead Iraqis who were not as lucky to have a choice? Did you cry for them?

According to a poll by an Iraqi agency, only 3% of Iraqis want Saddam back and less than 40% want the Americans to leave immediately. Did you even hear about these results?

If you think that Iraqis aren't doing enough, then you're being mislead by your media. Thousands of people are applying to be members of IP, FPS, and the civil defense force. They are begging for the security to be in their hands. We know how to handle those scum. The Americans are more interested in being nice and all about human rights and free speech and stuff. We have our own Law and court systems which we can use but the CPA won't allow us to. They are being too lenient and forgiving on our expence. If you think that is what is required to build a successful democracy then you're too deluded. You don't know the first thing about the Iraqi society.

Iraqis are providing intelligence to the CPA hourly. Just ask the soldiers here. Iraqis are cooperating in every way they can. They're losing their lives for it goddammit. If you aren't seeing it on tv, it isn't my fucking problem.

Imagine yourself living in a neighbourhood with a large number of ex-Baathists/Wahhabis/extremists like I do. Would you go out and denounce the Jihadis/Ba'athists openly for everyone to see, and then get back from work one day to find your brother kidnapped or a threat letter hanging on your door? A friend of mine was standing in front of his house with his kids when a car drove by and emptied a magazine of bullets into them. You know why? Because he was working with the CPA in reconstructing Baghdad Airport. What do you think he did? He stubbornly refused to quit his job and bravely returned to work after spending a week in hospital. Would you do the same? Of course not. We expected most of the IP would simply leave their jobs after last weeks bombing, well they didn't. In fact there were thousands of parents volunteering to carry arms and protect the schools which their kids attend to allow the IP to do their real job.

Let me be honest. Look at what 9/11 did to you. It shocked you, and you can't get over it to this day. Well let me invite you to Iraq where 9/11 is an everyday reality. How would you live your life? Stop comparing your 'perfect' society with mine. It isn't the same. People don't think the same. We don't put flags and stickers on our cars to show how patriotic we are. We don't go out in a 'dentists against terrorism' demonstration. We still don't have your free-speech and other social niceties yet.

Another thing I'm sure you haven't seen in your news. There are paintings on the walls all over Baghdad warning Arab foreigners from a bloody revenge if they keep messing with our affairs. Iraqis are openly calling the GC to quit the Arab League.

And to the guy who was being sarcastic about me sitting in an internet cafe and blogging or playing games instead of going out and organizing a demonstration. Well maybe you are right. I'm sick of people who don't appreciate my efforts. I'm wasting many hours a day and half my salary just to maintain this blog. I have a job, patients, a family, and friends, in other words I have a life. Maybe I will at one point do as you say and diss this whole stupid blog idea.

One last entry

Steven DenBeste has another great essay up here

Our tax dollars at work...

I took today off so that Jen and I could drive the 280 miles from Seattle to Spokane and back again.

The reason I did this was because I was the winner in a government bid for this fine piece of farm equipment - a John Deere leaf sweeper. As you may know, Jen and I recently purchased 31 acres of land and we are putting in a cider apple orchard next spring. This is a cool thing to have especially since the winning bid was $65 - COOL!


Anyway, as specified on the invoice, I called the on-site agent this morning, let them know that I was coming directly out from Seattle and would be there this afternoon. Fine - no problem.

We get there at 3:30 that afternoon to find that the agent has gone home for the day and that there is no one else that can help us. The WA State representitive for the company that handles the auctions ( Government Liquidations - excellent web site! ) was at another base 45 minutes from Seattle and about 330 miles from the one in Spokane.

The Soldiers at the visitors center were more than courtious but there was nothing they could do - understandibly so.

What gets me is that I took a day off work so this means a hundred bucks that we will not see in the next paycheck. We also drove a truck and towed an equipment trailer over the passes so that added up to about $100 on gas.

Tomorrows phone call is going to be an interesting one to say the least... Blogging will resume then.

Good night...

The person in charge of the DRMO office there is arrainging for this unit to be trucked to the DRMO office in Fort Lewis. Much much closer...

Light blogging today

Heading over to Eastern Washington to pick up some things.
Back this evening and will post some stuff then.

remember Plame

just Googled " Plame " on a lark...

Most of the returned stories seem to dead-end around mid-October.

Wasn't that a really BIG scandal at one time???

Or was there not a real story there to begin with. Spin works in several directions...

At Home with Hitler

#1) - Bizzare look back into an issue of Homes and Gardens magazine from 1938.
#2) - A webloggers discovery, scanning and publishing of this; and
#3) - The effort by the Time Warner-owned publishing giant, IPC trying to shut it down.

Some cool lawyers rally, IPC gets stuffed, the page is back up.

Original page here.
Alternate page here.
and here (high-bandwidth images)

Guy Fawkes Day

November 5th is Guy Fawkes Day.

Recent research shows that the Gunpowder Plot might have caused a lot more damage than expected. Analysis is here.

Circle of devestation:


from here
Measure G
Bolinas Socially Acknowledged Nature Loving Town
Bolinas Community Public Utility District

Shall the following language constitute a policy of the Bolinas Community Public Utility District? Vote for Bolinas to be a socially acknowledged nature-loving town because to like to drink the water out of the lakes to like to eat the blueberries to like the bears is not hatred to hotels and motor boats. Dakar. Temporary and way to save life, skunks and foxes (airplanes to go over the ocean) and to make it beautiful.

And the same website is showing this as having passed.
67.4% Yes votes ...... 32.6% No votes

Republican and Democrat Spending Patterns


from here

House Democrats called for an average of $417.6 billion in new spending, nearly 13 times more than House Republicans ($32.3 billion). Annualized over 10 years this level of increases ($4.2 trillion) is over twice the size of the tax cuts passed in 2001 and 2003 combined ($1.7 trillion).

Our cultural equals


Literal Translation :

For exchange in Ha'il:
a Dodge car model 1991 to be exchanged with a female servant (New one) serilankan or indian.
phone no# : (etc..)
Abu Fahd

News from the University of Washington

Two recent items are worth noting:

Ultra-low oxygen could have triggered mass extinctions, spurred bird breathing system
Recent evidence suggests that oxygen levels were suppressed worldwide 175 million to 275 million years ago and fell to precipitously low levels compared with today's atmosphere, low enough to make breathing the air at sea level feel like respiration at high altitude.

Now, a University of Washington paleontologist theorizes that low oxygen and repeated short but substantial temperature increases because of greenhouse warming sparked two major mass-extinction events, one of which eradicated 90 percent of all species on Earth.

In addition, Peter Ward, a UW professor of biology and Earth and space sciences, believes the conditions spurred the development of an unusual breathing system in some dinosaurs, a group called Saurischian dinosaurs that includes the gigantic brontosaurus. Rather than having a diaphragm to force air in and out of lungs, the Saurischians had lungs attached to a series of thin-walled air sacs that appear to have functioned something like bellows to move air through the body.

Ward, working with UW biologist Raymond Huey and UW radiologist Kevin Conley, believes that breathing system, still found in today's birds, made the Saurischian dinosaurs better equipped than mammals to survive the harsh conditions in which oxygen content of air at the Earth's surface was only about half of today's 21 percent.

"The literature always said that the reason birds had sacs was so they could breathe when they fly. But I don't know of any brontosaurus that could fly," Ward said. "However, when we considered that birds fly at altitudes where oxygen is significantly lower, we finally put it all together with the fact that the oxygen level at the surface was only 10 percent to 11 percent at the time the dinosaurs evolved.

"That's the same as trying to breathe at 14,000 feet. If you've ever been at 14,000 feet, you know it's not easy to breathe," he said.

Ward believes low oxygen and greenhouse conditions caused by high levels of methane from intense volcanic activity are likely culprits in mass extinctions that occurred about 250 million years ago, at the boundary between the Permian and Triassic periods, and about 200 million years ago, at the boundary between the Triassic and Jurassic periods. He will make a presentation on the topic Tuesday at the American Geological Society annual meeting in Seattle.

Japanese shipwreck adds to evidence of great Cascadia earthquake in 1700

Evidence has mounted for nearly 20 years that a great earthquake ripped the seafloor off the Washington coast in 1700, long before there were any written records in the region. Now, a newly authenticated record of a fatal shipwreck in Japan has added an intriguing clue.

Written records collected from villages along a 500-mile stretch of the main Japanese island of Honshu show the coast was hit by a series of waves, collectively called a tsunami, on Jan. 28, 1700. Because no Japanese earthquake warned of the waves, it is likely they came from somewhere else around the Pacific Rim, said Brian Atwater, an affiliate professor of Earth and space sciences at the University of Washington and a U.S. Geological Survey geologist.

In the village of Kuwagasaki (now part of the town of Miyako) 300 miles northeast of Tokyo, the tsunami is believed to have crested at about 10 feet, destroying 13 houses and starting a fire that consumed additional houses. Records from five other towns lend more evidence for a tsunami generated by a magnitude 9 earthquake off the Washington coast on Jan. 26, 1700.

Heavy hits on enviro-pessimism

Interesting commentary in the Washington Times


From being a genuine grass-roots reform movement in the 1960s and '70s, mainstream environmental groups have steadily moved in radical directions, among other things allowing themselves to become the roosting spot for left-wingers after the collapse of the socialist model in the wake of the Cold War. Environmentalism seemed to offer the perfect vehicle for a resurgence of their command-and-control ideas.

But their doom-mongering has left them open to appeals to common sense.

U.S. Supreme Court in trouble?

from Sandy Schulz

Lost in the hoopla over the Supreme Court's decisions last term on affirmative action and gay rights is the development of a disturbing new legal trend, one hinted at by Justice Sandra Day O'Connor in a speech last week.

Increasingly, it seems, the Court is relying on international law and opinion as the basis for domestic legal decisions. For an institution that puts so much stock in precedence, this move is, well, unprecedented. Worse, it spells potential trouble down the road.

In several of its highest-profile cases, the Court looked for guidance from, among other bodies, the European Council for Human Rights and the United Nations. For the first time, these authorities are being granted as much or more weight as American laws, or even the Constitution, in the Court's decisions. This represents a serious abuse of the Supreme Court's judicial review responsibility, as well as its role as the ultimate arbiter in our legal system.

The article goes on:

There is a big difference between being open to new ideas and perspectives -- a necessary qualification for any jurist -- and a willingness to disregard established American law in order to impose those ideas on the public.

Not that I necessarily disagree with the outcomes of some of these decisions; there's no good justification for sodomy laws, after all, and a case arguably can be made for limited affirmative action. Moreover, it's perfectly legitimate for international opinion to inform the laws Congress and the state legislatures pass.

The question is how society arrives at those decisions. Shouldn't they come about through our established democratic process, with elected legislators answerable to the public making laws which are subject to a Constitutional scrubbing?

The problem comes when justices answerable to no one decide they don't like those laws -- not because they offend the Constitution, or because they conflict with other laws, but because they offend the justices' own personal sensibilities (or those of our European cousins). Then they decree solutions they think preferable.

That's problematic enough. What makes this latest trend worse is that, by citing international law as judicial precedent, the Court is hinting that our laws and Constitution may no longer be the supreme law of the land.

Disturbing trend...

How to recognise a Geek

from The Register

"My parents just came back from a planet where the dominant life form had no bilateral symmetry, and all I got was this stupid F-Shirt."

Laugh, you nearly did? Then you're obviously a geek.

Earlier this year a random selection of shoppers on London's Oxford Street were asked to pick out the physicist from a line-up of possible candidates. Guess what: 98 per cent of those asked singled out a white male of around 60 years old, with glasses and facial hair. The obvious stereotype.

While this might have been the image of an typical physicist fifty years ago, the reality is very different. Since the 1960s, the number of young women entering physics has doubled and the average age is now 31.

During 2003 the Institute of Physics completed a large survey to find out what their members thought about physics and their work. That study revealed that members themselves believe that the typical member is a male in a tweed jacket and that if physicists threw a party there would be sweet white wine, classical music, a selection of cheese and, unquestionably, no dancing...

Newest craze - underclocking


Also here

Why underclock?

Heat and faulty power are the two greatest causes of death in electronics. The certified geek Olympic sport of overclocking usually shortens the life of CPUs and perhaps the mainboard itself simply because running a chip at a faster frequency makes it run hotter. You may have seen some of the extremes that overclockers put into cooling their high-revving Athlons and Pentiums. But no matter. Maybe the overclocking yielded an extra FPS or two in an FPS like Quake or UT2003. (That first FPS is Frames per second, the second is First Person Shooter.)

While many geeks with PCs have been consumed by squeezing more speed out of their system than the law allows, more mature mainframe geeks have long been focused on adding 9s. As in uptime. Speed has been secondary to finding ways to make hardware more reliable and less prone to failure. And that's what underclocking is all about. Usually, that is.

Quiet is cool

Terry Gray wants quiet, not speed. He got into underclocking in his quest to build a quiet PC. Specifically, a PC without fans on the CPU and powersupply. His site documents his experiments with underclocking a Pentium III in order to be able to run it at an acceptable temperature without need of a CPU fan. Other underclockers have done the same.

CPUs are not the only chips being underclocked to attack heat and noise problems: video cards are also game. Leo Velikovich details the hows and whys of such an effort on a GeForce4 Ti4200 in his article in SilentPCReview.

Nobel Prize for Medicine

Derek Lowe has an interesting analysis of the "controversy" with this years Nobel award for Medicine. Read about it here.

...So many other people familiar with the field weren't surprised one bit when Damadian was left off, and they were able to read between the lines quickly. Damadian is, well, a difficult person to deal with. His unconcealed contempt for Lautenburg has caused trouble on more than one occasion. Actually, concealing any of his feelings isn't his strong point. As he told Chemical and Engineering News (in its latest issue), "I'm a very, very, very, very sore loser." (Revealingly, that's how they quoted him, and in a bold-faced pull quote, yet.)

That article is one of the things that prompts to to write. Damadian seems to be even more of a short-fuse artist than I'd heard. C&E News also quotes him as saying "There's a band of buccaneers in Stockholm that has been victimizing people for a century with their crimes." That would be the Nobel committee, in case you're wondering. Another thing you might be wondering about is just how Damadian thinks that he's going to get anywhere with them, spouting off like that.

But you know, in a way, he's right. It really doesn't matter what he says, or how he says it. The Nobel folks are just not going to change their mind. They never have, and have stated repeatedly that they're not going to start now. (And I see their point - wouldn't that just open the floodgates!) It's a lost cause; it's been lost from the beginning. But that hasn't stopped Damadian from taking out full-page ads in US and Swedish newspapers, ranting about how he's been wronged.

The latest one came out this week. They've been getting longer and weirder, and the latest one is the other thing that got me to write about this whole affair. Its verbose thrust is that Lauterbur and Mansfield aren't even M.D.s, for crying out loud, and won't all the doctors of the world get together, help one of their own, and make the Nobel committee see some sense?...

Kim DuToit is on a roll

The Pussification Of The Western Male

read it...

Something is either wrong with his site or he is deleting the article.
He wasn't deleting the article, the sheer number of people trying to _read_ the article was swamping the database on his server...

It's up


for now.

Novell buys SUSE

Novell announced yesterday that they purchased German Linux distribituors SUSE

Press Release here

Novell today announced it has entered into an agreement to acquire SUSE LINUX, one of the world�s leading enterprise Linux companies, expanding Novell�s ability to provide enterprise-class services and support on the Linux platform. With the open source expertise of SUSE LINUX and Novell�s world-class networking and identity solutions and support, training and consulting services, Novell will be able to deliver Linux and all its components � from the server to the desktop � and give organizations a secure, reliable and mature Linux foundation. Novell will pay $210 million in cash to complete the acquisition. The transaction is subject to regulatory approval and the winding up of shareholder agreements. Novell expects the transaction to close by the end of its first fiscal quarter (January 2004).

SUSE was one of the top three Linux companies.
RedHat announced yesterday that it was dropping its support for the free versions.
The remaining one is Mandrake Linux.


Interesting news from the U.N.

from LGF

By DAFNA LINZER, Associated Press Writer

UNITED NATIONS - Israel, which has seen hundreds of U.N. resolutions passed against its policies over the years, circulated its first resolution ever Monday, saying the outcome will show whether the organization is taking a balanced approach to the Mideast.

The Israeli resolution, a copy of which was given to The Associated Press, calls for the protection of Israeli children victimized by Palestinian terrorism. It closely mirrors a similar draft submitted by Egypt last week highlighting the plight of Palestinian children affected by more than three years of bloody conflict in the region.

Israeli diplomats said they'd be happy if the General Assembly decided to drop the two drafts or adopt them both.

"The test will be if they pass the Palestinian one but not ours," said deputy Israeli Ambassador Arye Meckel.

More of this to be found at:
AP: Israel Circulates Resolution at U.N.

Windfalls of War - NOT

Slate magazine has an article by Daniel Drezner regarding the rebuilding of Iraq:

A new report by the Center for Public Integrity attempts to prove something that many people simply assume to be true: that the Bush administration has strongly favored cronies and campaign contributors in awarding reconstruction contracts for Iraq and Afghanistan. The CPI devoted six months to research and filed more than 70 Freedom of Information Act requests and appeals to get to the bottom of the story. The conclusion of the report, "Windfalls of War," is that a clear quid pro quo exists between government procurement and campaign contributions to George W. Bush. Charles Lewis, the group's executive director, released a statement arguing that the report reveals "a stench of political favoritism and cronyism surrounding the contracting process in both Iraq and Afghanistan."

There's just one problem: The CPI has no evidence to support its allegations.

The basic hypothesis of the report is that campaign contributions must have affected the allocation of reconstruction contracts; Halliburton's and Bechtel's large reconstruction contracts and generous support of politicians hint at such a finding. However, a closer look at the guts of the CPI report�the list of contract winners and the list of campaign contributions�exposes the flimsiness of this charge.

CPIs website is here

Forgot to add that Daniel Drezner has his own blog here

Kyoto debunked

A pillar of the Kyoto Accord is based on flawed calculations, incorrect data and an overtly biased selection of climate records, an important new paper reveals.

from the National Post

Of these, none may have the long-term impact of the paper published yesterday in the prestigious British journal Energy and Environment, which explains how one of the fundamental scientific pillars of the Kyoto Accord is based on flawed calculations, incorrect data and a biased selection of climate records.

The paper's authors, Toronto-based analyst Steve McIntyre and University of Guelph economics professor Ross McKitrick, obtained the original data used by Michael Mann of the University of Virginia to support the notion that the 20th-century temperature rise was unprecedented in the past millennium. A detailed audit revealed numerous errors in the data. After correcting these and updating the source records they showed that based on Mann's own methodologies, his original conclusion was flawed. Mann's original version resulted in the famous "hockey stick" graph that purported to show 900 years of relative temperature stability (the shaft of the hockey stick) followed by a sharp increase (the blade) in the 20th century (see graph). The corrected version of the last thousand years actually contradicts the view promoted by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), and removes the foundation for claims of 20th-century uniqueness.

The paper in question can be found here (Ross McKitrick's website)

USA Today also has a good writeup

Here is the chart in question:

Noam Chomsky quote:

Have you considered leaving the United States permanently?
No. This is the best country in the world.

This is from an interview in the N.Y. Times (registration required)

Postmodernism is dead

from Philosophy Now magazine:

Indeed, it is hard to give an overview of the major postmodernist tenets without seeming to fall into parody. All knowledge, scientific knowledge included, is held to be socially constructed through and through. Science is therefore merely one story among others. The world we know is one that is constructed by human discourses, giving us not so much truths as �truth-effects� which may or may not be pragmatically useful. From this point of view, epistemologically speaking, a scientific text is understood as being on a par with a literary text. Further, given that for Derrida language is a self-referential system, all communication is reduced to the model of an avant-garde poem in which all meaning is indefinitely deferred.


clever idea

NY Times article

Could renting a movie be much simpler than it already is? The Walt Disney Company is betting it could be with a new service called MovieBeam that includes a no-fuss set-top box that arrives in your home loaded with 100 DVD-quality feature films that can be rented with a press of a remote control.

The rental cost of the films, produced by several studios and in most popular genres, is $4 for new releases and $2.50 for older titles. MovieBeam has been introduced in Salt Lake City, Spokane, Wash., and Jacksonville, Fla., and is expected to spread across the country in coming months. More information will be available at electronics retailers and at

Made by Samsung Electronics, the receiver is basically just a 160-gigabyte hard drive with a small antenna that automatically downloads 10 new movies a week using a wireless signal, replacing 10 other titles. That signal is tucked into broadcast signals from TV stations owned by ABC and from PBS National Datacast. The receivers are not for sale; a $7 monthly fee is charged once users sign up for the service and the receiver is delivered.

Tips on starting a small business...

Buy a large business and wait.


A List Apart has a good article on starting a small business - things to think about and some resources.

The entire website is worth spending some time with if you are involved in web design and consulting. Lots of resources.

from the Washington Post

BAGHDAD, Nov. 2 -- The CIA has seized an extensive cache of files from the former Iraqi Intelligence Service that is spurring U.S. investigations of weapons procurement networks and agents of influence who took money from the government of Saddam Hussein, according to U.S. officials familiar with the records.

The Iraqi files are "almost as much as the Stasi files," said a senior U.S. official, referring to the vast archives of the former East German intelligence service seized after the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989.

The records would stretch 91/2 miles if laid end to end, the officials said. They contain not only the names of nearly every Iraqi intelligence officer, but also the names of their paid foreign agents, written agent reports, evaluations of agent credentials, and documentary evidence of payments made to buy influence in the Arab world and elsewhere, the officials said.

The officials declined to name individuals who they believe received funds or to name the home countries of the alleged recipients. One official said the recipients held high-ranking positions and worked both in Arab countries and in other regions. A second official said the payments were the subjects of "active investigations" by U.S. government agencies.

This is a lot of paper and will take time to process but it will be interesting to see the shifts in power that happen in the next six months or so.

One official said the recipients held high-ranking positions and worked both in Arab countries and in other regions. A second official said the payments were the subjects of "active investigations" by U.S. government agencies.

Mmmmm - indeed... (chortle)

Cox and Forkum

North Korea's economy collapsing

from The Straits Times

SEOUL -- Communist North Korea's economy is heading for collapse and could drag capitalist South Korea down with it, Standard and Poor's credit rating agency said on Monday.

'North Korea's economy cannot be sustained in its current state and we think it is highly likely to collapse,' said Choi Jung Tai, the agency's director for South Korea, adding: 'When is uncertain.'

Democrat 'metrosexuals' hard to believe

From the always excellent Mark Steyn:

Indeed, so eager is Kerry to subordinate U.S. foreign policy to Saddam's patrons that his attacks on America's real allies have become increasingly obnoxious. In the last presidential debate, Kerry said:

''This president has done it wrong every step of the way. He promised that he would have a real coalition. He has a fraudulent coalition.''

What's ''fraudulent'' about the coalition that toppled Saddam? The principal players -- the Americans, British and Australians -- are three of only a handful of countries to have been on the right side of every major conflict of the last century: the First World War, the Second, the Cold War and now the war on terror. I bet on form. When it comes to standing up against totalitarianism, the heavy lifting has been done by America and the British Commonwealth. Kerry's the first to get all hoity-toity if he feels someone is insufficiently deferential to his war service. So who's he to mock the brave Royal Marines, Desert Rats and other British forces who took and held southern Iraq? Who's he to mock the Australian SAS who did such a great job in seizing so many Baathist bad guys in northern and western Iraq? Or the Polish troops leading the multinational contingent in central Iraq right now?

It's taken as a given among Democrats that somehow this administration has needlessly offended the French and Germans. But insulting Britain, Australia and Poland as a cheap way to get at Bush demonstrates your superior sense of the subtleties of foreign policy? I'd say it's going to be very difficult for President Kerry to work with these chaps after his election victory -- or I would say it if I could type that sentence without collapsing in giggles.

The really ''fraudulent'' coalition is the one Kerry wants: one that gives the Belgians and Syrians a veto over U.S. action for nothing in return. The ''fraudulent'' coalition is Clark's from the Kosovo war, where all ''allies'' were entitled to advance operational information regardless of whether they were actually contributing to any of the operations, and where, as Clark himself noted in his memoir, ''one of the French officers working at NATO headquarters had given key portions of the operations plans to the Serbs.''

Read the entire piece...

Our friends - the French...

This is from a Washington Post article regarding the US's interviews with Tariq Aziz after his April 24th surrender this year.

Aziz's extensive interrogations -- eased by a U.S. decision to quietly remove his family from Iraq to safe exile in a country that American officials would not name -- paint Hussein on the eve of war as a distracted, distrustful despot who was confused, among other things, by his meetings with Russian and French intermediaries. Aziz said Hussein emerged from these diplomatic sessions -- some secret at the time -- convinced that he might yet avoid a war that would end his regime, despite ample evidence to the contrary.
Aziz has told interrogators that French and Russian intermediaries repeatedly assured Hussein during late 2002 and early this year that they would block a U.S.-led war through delays and vetoes at the U.N. Security Council. Later, according to Aziz, Hussein concluded after private talks with French and Russian contacts that the United States would probably wage a long air war first, as it had done in previous conflicts. By hunkering down and putting up a stiff defense, he might buy enough time to win a cease-fire brokered by Paris and Moscow.

Former Russian prime minister Yevgeny Primakov, long close to Hussein, made an announced visit to Baghdad in February and a secret trip just days before the war's opening on March 20

The French diplo backchannel communication has been less public - to continue with the article:

The extent and character of French contacts with Hussein before the war is even less clear. Several media outlets reported early this year that France had opened a private channel to Hussein, but the French Foreign Ministry denied these reports, insisting that its diplomats had made plain to Hussein that he should stand down.

Read the article - it's worth checking out.

BTW, all of this was in direct violation of U.N. resolution 1441...

FOX News has more:
Aziz, the highest-ranking Iraqi Christian in Saddam's regime, was initially close-lipped, several Pentagon and U.S. officials said. But once his family was moved out of the country to safety, he is said to have begun talking at length.

"That made a night and day difference," one source said.

Compounding Aziz's information, U.S. intelligence agencies have been going over millions of documents � 9� miles' worth if laid end to end � left behind by Saddam's government after its sudden collapse around April 10.

The stories were both first reported Monday in The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal.

Among the details provided by Aziz and the captured files:

� Saddam did not attack invading American and British forces because he had been assured that France and Russia would use the U.N. Security Council to stop the war.

� Ties were even stronger to two other nations: North Korea, which was in the process of selling Iraq a long-range No Dong missile, and Serbia, which provided Iraq with a sort of "lessons learned" template from its experience in dealing with the NATO-led air campaign over Kosovo.

PC sales may be coming out of doldrums

Seattle Man Has Unique Claim To Fame

PHOENIX - A Seattle man has been proclaimed the best screw driver in North America.

Mike Rennie won the Dewalt challenge, sponsored by Chevy Trucks, held over the weekend at Phoenix. The 34-year-old drywall contractor competed in a tournament against 13 other "drivers" from the United States and Canada.

The contest was to see who could drive five screws into a piece of wood the fastest with a Dewalt cordless drill. Contestants had to start a timer, pick up the drill, drive the screws and stop the timer.

Rennie sank five screws in 7.6 seconds. He won $25,000 and a new Silverado pick-up truck.

KOMO-TV article

Red Hat Linux is dead...

Red Hat is dropping support for it's Red Hat Linux versions 7.1 through 8.0 as of December 31st, 2003. RH Linux 9.0 will be supported through April 30th, 2004.

They will be focusing on their fee-based Enterprise level Linux products.
Red Hat

The present line of Red Hat Linux products has been folded into the Fedora Project - an open source distribution hosted by Red Hat.
Fedora Project

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