December 2003 Archives

The Eight Biggest Tech Flops Ever

Another of the lists that seem so popular at years-end - this one from Yahoo Tech Tuesday bq. So it is with technology. Some of the greatest flops of all time have come from high tech. Millions of dollars and countless person-hours have been wasted creating products so bad, so misguided, and so difficult to use that entire companies have been destroyed. bq. What distinguishes a simply bad product from the truly awful? Sometimes it's a dreadful user interface. Other times it's a product that successfully addresses a particularly daunting problem - yet one shared by relatively few people. And often competitive or financial pressure forces new products to market before they're ready - full of bugs and horribly unusable. Still other times, the products arrive too early. Eventually they become a success, but often after the founding company has been ruined. So true - read the article for the list. A good selection.

Our friends the French...

Remember the big flap about the six Air France flights from Paris to the USA that were cancelled because some of the passengers were on US "watch lists" It turns out the French took our list of names, interviewed these people and then released them... (line to help apply clue-bat forms to your left) The Telegraph has a good writeup on the whole thing (satore filed 12/26/03): bq. American and French officials yesterday traded mutual recriminations over the failure to snare any terrorists in the security operation that grounded six Air France flights in and out of Los Angeles. bq. Bush administration officials expressed frustration that al-Qa'eda operatives might have escaped capture after word leaked, early this week, of American concerns about flights from France to the United States over the Christmas period. bq. One official said Washington had been hoping to keep the US-French negotiations confidential, adding that the hope was that "we would be able to lure some of these people in". It goes on - the French are not our allies...

Victor Davis Hanson

Another excellent essay last Friday available here bq. I could go on, but you get the picture of this current madness. There is something terribly wrong, something terribly amoral with the Western intelligentsia, most prominently in academia, the media, and politics. We don�t need Osama bin Laden�s preschool jabbering about �the weak horse� to be worried about the causes of this Western disease: thousands of the richest, most leisured people in the history of civilization have become self-absorbed, ungracious, and completely divorced from the natural world � the age-old horrific realities of dearth, plague, hunger, rapine, or conquest. bq. Indeed, it is even worse than that: a Paul Krugman or French barrister neither knows anything of how life is lived beyond his artificial cocoon nor of the rather different men and women whose unacknowledged work in the shadows ensures his own bounty in such a pampered landscape � toil that allows our anointed to rage at those purportedly culpable for allowing the world to function differently from an Ivy League lounge or the newsroom of the New York Times. Neither knows what it is like to be in a village gassed by Saddam Hussein or how hard it is to go across the world to Tikrit and chain such a monster. bq. Our Western intellectuals are sheltered orchids who are na�ve about the world beyond their upscale hothouses. The Western disease of deductive fury at everything the West does provides a sort of psychological relief (without costs) for apparent guilt over privileged circumstances. It is such a strange mixture of faux-populism and aristocratic snobbery. They believe only a blessed few such as themselves have the requisite education or breeding to understand the �real� world of Western pathologies and its victims. Wonderful as always...

Primate Programming

save much more money than by outsourcing - use Primates for your programming needs (here) From their F.A.Q. bq. How many Primate Programmers can I engage at one time? bq. You can engage as many as you like. There is a definite advantage to engaging an entire social group or colony of related individuals. The advantage comes from increased communication and understanding between individuals within the group. This is explained in the brochure. bq. What are the legalities regarding intellectual property? bq. Great apes (hominids) are capable of maintaining source code and creating original works, such as original source code and reports. When Primate Programming first came into existence, the law was vague on who owned the intellectual property (IP) rights to primate-generated works. bq. These intellectual property have been largely resolved. There are bills coming for floor vote in the House and Senate that give provisional US citizenship bill for hominids. This legislation will resolve all Primate Programming IP issues shortly.

Back again

We are back after a holiday trip to California. Blogging will resume today - thanks for your patience! Dave

Light Blogging until the First

I see a lot of other bloggers doing this too... I will be out of town and probably away from Internet Access for most of the trip. I'm meeting Jen in CA at her parents and driving back. Have a wonderful and interesting holiday season and I will see you next year. Dave

Mad Cow disease found in USA cow

from CNN We will need to have more work done to verify that this is indeed the disease the cow is suffering from but if this is the case, this is not good. It's a cow in Washington state too... The Mad Cow disease caused a lot of problems in England in the 80's and 90's and was thought to come from using animal by-products as feed. Specifically sheep that were infected with a similar disease called Scrapie

Dumb Criminal

from the Atlanta Journal and Constitution bq. A Douglas County man was arrested for making nearly 3,500 obscene phone calls to businesses over a six-week period, including calls to real estate agents. bq. A truck driver, Hardy was accused of making many of the calls on a prepaid cellular phone from his truck. Not only to do this but to yuse your own telephone... Sheesh!

Top ten astronomy photos of 2003

from Space.Com Some beautiful stuff there - the November 4th solar flare was gorgeous.

from Front Page magazine comes a great article on Howard Dean and "Dead Peasants Insurance" bq. Those six "Dead Peasant Insurance" states are Delaware, Georgia, New Jersey, North Carolina, Pennsylvania � and Vermont! bq. That�s right, Vermont, where Democratic presidential frontrunner Howard Dean ruled from August 1991 until January 2003 as Governor. bq. When he stepped down, Mr. Dean ordered his gubernatorial records of private meetings and secret agreements put under seal for much longer than the customary time to make it as hard as possible for reporters and political rivals to dig out what special interest dirt Dean wallowed in. bq. The Boston Globe has deduced at least one of the areas Dean may have hoped to cover up about his back room deals as Governor. It reported on December 12 that Dean was up to his eyeballs in trying to lure "captive" insurance companies, subsidiaries of larger corporations used to insure their mother company, to "overtake Bermuda" and make Vermont the "world�s largest" haven for these enterprises. bq. Such "captive" insurance companies, sniffed John Benson of the Left-of-center New Republic magazine, are "essentially a way to shield corporate profits�." Or as Benson and the Boston Globe quoted one University of Connecticut law school professor: "Dean apparently has no problems with tax havens as long as they are in the state of Vermont." Read the rest for explanation and more info...

2003 Dishonest Reporting Award

from Honest Reporting comes their third anual Dishonest Reporting Award. The winner: bq. With over 200 news bureaus worldwide, Reuters stakes its claim as "the largest international multi-media news agency." Though Reuters' own editorial policy claims the agency's reporters "do not offer subjective opinion," and intend merely "to enable readers and viewers to form their own judgement," in fact Reuters' coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is flagrantly biased against Israel. Some examples from 2003:

Emergency Declared After California Quake

from ABC News bq. Aftershocks rattled central California Tuesday as crews tallied damage from a magnitude-6.5 earthquake that killed two people, injured dozens and badly damaged the business district of this wine country town. bq. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger toured downtown Paso Robles, where both fatalities occurred when Monday's quake toppled a 19th century building with a landmark clock tower, and declared a state of emergency in San Luis Obispo County. The fault line runs very close there - visible from the highway.

The Millennium Challenge Account

interesting article on Marginal Revolution regarding the proposed Foreign Aid proposal by Bush... bq. The Bush administration is proposing to increase our foreign aid budget by 50 percent over the next five years. A new bureaucracy, the Millennium Challenge Corporation, would be created. Here is a summary from Tyler's comment: bq. I remain to be convinced that this is a good idea. The countries that are truly reforming need foreign aid the least. The plan works best if you think that politicians want to push more reforms, but lack the cash to pay off special interests. The plan also works if you think that we can bribe politicians to reform. The plan works worst if you think that foreign aid leads to corruption and inferior policy. In that case we are penalizing the success stories and pushing them in the wrong direction. Of course, the very push for reforming foreign aid implies there is some truth to the latter possibility. Interesting stuff...

The Wilhelm

You may not know what it is but you have heard it at least once... More information here

wonderful LOTR commentary...

from the Politburo Diktat (talkin' about Gandalf the White) bq. His illegal, immoral invasion of Mordor was typical. He is "all hat and no magic," so arrogant riding on big white horse. Who he think he is? Never bothered to get authorization from White Council for his war on Mordor.* Never even tried to get Sarumance on board. And Sarumance ended up vetoing his plan at the White Council. bq. Never proved to me that Sauron actually had the Ring of Mass Destruction. It seems to Commissar that GW and HIS side are only ones that actually USED Ring of Mass Destruction. Why not GW give up HIS Rings of Mass Destruction, huh? Now that would have been fair! bq. How about GW's poodle, that Aragorn, still dreaming of lost Gondrish Empire? He probably remembering good old days, when "Sun Never Sets on Gondrish Empire." Did you catch scene of him sitting around campfire, singing, "Rule Anduril. Anduril rules the waves!" At least Aragorn could give a proper Elvish speech. Only thing going for GW's "Coalition of the Middling." bq. And calling it "Coalition" was big joke. Vast majority of soldiers from one country. The rest, a bunch of elves, dwarves, shirefolk, micronesians that GW arm-twisted or bribed with big parties to join in. Him and his "shock-and-awe" fireworks.

AOL outsources to India

from News.Com bq. America Online is quietly laying the groundwork to hire software engineers in Bangalore, India--a decision that is sparking some pointed criticism but also is becoming de rigueur among technology companies. and more: bq. More than eight in 10 software companies are exporting their work offshore this year or next, according to a July study by research firm Sand Hill Group. bq. Cost cutting is the most commonly cited reason for this practice. Hewlett-Packard has pegged the cost of a talented programmer in India at about $20,000 a year, well below the cost of a top U.S. tech worker. Companies also face facilities costs and the expense of managing offshore work, offsetting the impact on the bottom line. The total savings from hiring an IT service provider to perform foreign work may be as high as 40 percent to 50 percent, IDC analyst Ned May said. The other side of this is when India will be going through in a few years when AOL and other companies pull out and move somewhere else. India is spending a lot of cash to develop these resources (education, specific training and data centers) and if they are only hired for a couple of years, they will not recoup their investments. There is nothing to tie AOL to India, they could move to Malaysia or China in 2-3 years if they get a better deal... This is bad news for a lot of people.

Bollywood in Internet download deal

from Reuters/UK this is very cool: bq. India's film makers are offering Internet movie downloads on web site Kazaa in a move that could lower costs and boost revenues in Bollywood, the world's most prolific film production centre. Bollywood does more films than Hollywood by a long shot, mroe revinue, more tickets sold (about 30% more). Hollywood has been sitting on the fence on this one, Bollywood is jumping into the middle...

Al Gore's son busted for Pot...

This happened a few days ago but is worth noting. from the Washington Post bq. The son of former vice president and 2000 Democratic presidential candidate Al Gore has been charged with marijuana possession. bq. Albert A. Gore III, 21, was arrested Friday night after he was stopped for driving a vehicle without its headlights on. and more: bq. The officer noticed the car's windows and sunroof were open, despite cold temperatures Friday night. There was also a smell of marijuana coming from the vehicle, according to a news release from the police department. and more: bq. In September 2002, the younger Gore was ticketed for driving under the influence. He was pulled over and ticketed by military police just outside Fort Myer in suburban Virginia, but was not taken into custody. and more: bq. In the summer of 2000, Gore was cited by the North Carolina Highway Patrol for driving 97 mph in a 55-mph zone. Under an agreement with prosecutors, a reckless driving charge was dropped in the North Carolina case, but he was fined $125 for speeding and his driving privileges in the state were suspended. Somebody needs to have a talk with that boy -- his daddy sure isn't...

another wonderful Michael Crichton lecture

I noted his other lecture here but this one deserves publication as well. bq. This fascination with computer models is something I understand very well. Richard Feynmann called it a disease. I fear he is right. Because only if you spend a lot of time looking at a computer screen can you arrive at the complex point where the global warming debate now stands. bq. Nobody believes a weather prediction twelve hours ahead. Now we're asked to believe a prediction that goes out 100 years into the future? And make financial investments based on that prediction? Has everybody lost their minds? bq. Stepping back, I have to say the arrogance of the model-makers is breathtaking. There have been, in every century, scientists who say they know it all. Since climate may be a chaotic system-no one is sure-these predictions are inherently doubtful, to be polite. But more to the point, even if the models get the science spot-on, they can never get the sociology. To predict anything about the world a hundred years from now is simply absurd.

Light blogging next few days

Holiday season - been very busy at work and will be leaving Seattle Wednesday AM to fly to Jennifer's family for the holidays - we are taking a week to drive back (she drove down earlier last week)... Best wishes for all Dave

Commentary on Prime Minister Sharon's Speech...

from the always interesting Little Green Footballs comes a link to David Warren's website with some commentary on Israeli P.M. Ariel Sharon's speech from a few days ago... One paragraph: bq. But as the Israeli experience in Gaza has shown, a security fence can be made to work. There have been no terrorist operations mounted from Gaza into Israel over the many years since the Israelis erected the security fence around Gaza. Another paragraph: bq. A Palestine deprived of options to antagonize Israel and externalize all failures must then choose between beggary and enterprise. The Palestinians themselves must eventually confront social, economic, and political problems which, once Israel is disengaged, can no longer be blamed on "the outsider". The West Bank has land as arable as any in Israel, and (after subtracting the Negev desert) no greater population density. What can they do with what they have? Interesting...
from the N.Y. Times: bq. Senator John Kerry lent his presidential campaign $850,000 and is borrowing against his home in Boston to obtain more as national polls show him lagging far behind Howard Dean and other rivals in the race for the Democratic nomination. bq. The campaign, which announced the move on Thursday, said it showed determination to carry on. bq. "This is a clear statement by John Kerry," said Mary Beth Cahill, Mr. Kerry's campaign manager. "He is in the race to win the nomination and defeat George Bush." He never had naything of substance to offer. Best thing he could do now is to drop out gacefully and let Dean or Clark fall on their swords next Fall...

Coffee Houses - an early Internet

Wonderful article in the Economist talking about Coffee Houses of the 17th and 18th centuries: bq. WHERE do you go when you want to know the latest business news, follow commodity prices, keep up with political gossip, find out what others think of a new book, or stay abreast of the latest scientific and technological developments? Today, the answer is obvious: you log on to the internet. Three centuries ago, the answer was just as easy: you went to a coffee-house. There, for the price of a cup of coffee, you could read the latest pamphlets, catch up on news and gossip, attend scientific lectures, strike business deals, or chat with like-minded people about literature or politics. bq. The coffee-houses that sprang up across Europe, starting around 1650, functioned as information exchanges for writers, politicians, businessmen and scientists. Like today's websites, weblogs and discussion boards, coffee-houses were lively and often unreliable sources of information that typically specialised in a particular topic or political viewpoint. They were outlets for a stream of newsletters, pamphlets, advertising free-sheets and broadsides. Depending on the interests of their customers, some coffee-houses displayed commodity prices, share prices and shipping lists, whereas others provided foreign newsletters filled with coffee-house gossip from abroad.

Lybia to dismantle WMD

announced from the Whitehouse today: bq. Libya has disclosed to the US and UK significant information on its nuclear and chemical weapons programs, as well as on its biological and ballistic missile-related activities: Libya has also pledged to: bq. Eliminate all elements of its chemical and nuclear weapons programs; bq. Declare all nuclear activities to the IAEA; bq. Eliminate ballistic missiles beyond 300 km range, with a payload of 500kg; bq. Accept international inspections to ensure Libya's complete adherence to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, and sign the Additional Protocol; bq. Eliminate all chemical weapons stocks and munitions, and accede to the Chemical Weapons Convention; bq. Allow immediate inspections and monitoring to verify all of these actions. bq. As President Bush said today, Libya must also fully engage in the war against terror. bq. Libya's announcement today is a product of the President's strategy which gives regimes a choice. They can choose to pursue WMD at great peril, cost and international isolation. Or they can choose to renounce these weapons, take steps to rejoin the international community, and have our help in creating a better future for their citizens. bq. These actions will make our country more safe and the world more peaceful. Awesome!
finally... from the NY Times (hat tip Instapundit) bq. For months administration officials have complained that they are not penetrating the news media "filter" to inform the American public about their progress in Iraq. The arrest of Saddam Hussein was a sorely needed spike in generally dismal dispatches, they said. bq. But now, live from a television station near you: the good news. bq. Or so hopes the Pentagon, which is making briefings from the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq directly available � sometimes free, sometimes for a fee � to network affiliates, cable stations and government agencies, bypassing the likes of Tom and Dan and Peter.
from RageBoy (hat tip Doc Searls) bq. The reason the author is important to our purposes in today's outing is that Steiner (pictured at the right) was also the founder of a little number called Anthroposophy, referred to in the right-panel (stage down-a-tad) text, which is taken from the official site of the Association of Waldorf Schools of North America, of which there are currently 800 internationally, with 150 in North America, and seven within a 30-mile radius of where I sit tonight typing this as a public service to an unsuspecting world. The question is (aside from an unnatural fondness for run-on sentences): Why? Well, because Rudolf Steiner -- whose notions about education, and much else, are revered and applauded here in Boulder, CO, Land of the Free -- was, in point of fact, a seriously deluded head case. Don't believe me? Read on... and more: bq. Well, it turns out that Rudy was a Theosophist until 1913 or thereabouts, when he got cheesed off at Annie Bessant, who had taken over for The Madame after she prematurely discorporated a decade short of fin-de-si�cle (and several bricks shy of a load), and had, with the help of some other dude who was very likely gay as a pagan maypole, dug up this East Indian pretty-boy whom we would later come to know (those of us who did) as Krishnamurti. Krishnamurti was supposed to be the new messiah. They raised him to believe he was, anyway, and packed his head with some of the weirdest shit you can imagine (some taste of which I'm attempting to convey here). However, possibly third, when it came time for Krishnamurti to take over as Messiah, he threw the match, telling people, basically, don't follow leaders / watch your parking meters, and more basically, that he wasn't any messiah, didn't believe in em, and more basically still, that he wasn't having any. This tasteless display of independent thought cast Theosophy into quite the little dither, as you can imagine. The cheek! It's a hoot... Check the entire site - this guy does not post often but when he does is't good.

Saddam's spider hole

from Emperor Misha at the Anti-Idiotarian Rottweiler a link to a wonderful story from The Soldiers for The Truth website: bq. How are the mighty fallen – II Samuel 1:25 bq. “He was just caught like a rat” was how Maj. Gen. Ray Odierno, commander of the 4th Infantry Division, described the capture of Saddam Hussein. Caught like a “sewer rat” is closer to the truth. bq. That’s because in all likelihood the hole in which Saddam was hiding was not a specially built “spider hole” as commentators and even many soldiers believed. bq. Based on my own recent work in Iraq, I know that Saddam Hussein’s last place of refuge was a septic tank. bq. During my tour in Iraq, I managed 75 reconstruction projects with the 4th Infantry Division in the “Sunni Triangle” near to where Saddam was captured. These projects included sewage disposal and sewage treatment systems, along with the refurbishment and construction of many septic tank systems. The cramped underground chamber next to the hut where Saddam had been hiding matches a common septic tank design found everywhere in Iraq. Heh...

Victor Davis Hanson

in National Review Online a dialog between Europeans and a Dumb American bq. Europeans: Moving on � you need to study our past to learn why we will no longer accept war as a method of adjudicating disputes. bq. Dumb American: We long ago did that � and in 1941 figured war was the only way to restore what you nearly destroyed. bq. Europeans: Well, war is simply not an option any longer for us, like it or not. You started this mess in Iraq and now want us to bail you out; so, yes, there is a sort of "I told you so" self-righteousness over here � and why not? bq. Dumb Americans: And do Osama bin Laden, General Mladic, Saddam Hussein, and Kim Jong Il � all suitably impressed with your elegant forbearance � agree about the futility of war? As far as Iraq goes, forget about the war, look at the peace. We are not asking you to help us fight, but to send some aid to a consensual government emerging in Iraq. Are we to assume that you would extend $100 billion in military and trade credits to a mass-murdering fascist, but almost nothing to his victims, who got very little from your lucrative trade deals? bq. Europeans: Perhaps our growing divide arises out of a sort of American simplicity about Israel and Sharon � now that the neocons have taken over Washington and have ignored the legitimate aspirations of the Palestinians. The United States simply is not as sensitive as we in Europe are to the problem of refugees and the abuse of power that is seen as so threatening to the Muslim world. bq. Dumb American: Do you mean the 50-something dead in Jenin last spring or the 80,000-something Muslim dead in Grozny over more than a decade � or is the rub the 250,000 Muslim dead in Kosovo and Bosnia? Is it the "hyper" reaction of IDF or of the Russian and Serbian armies that grates on you? This is just a taste - His concluding two paragraphs: bq. This war would be over far sooner if 350 million Europeans insisted on a modicum of behavior from Middle Eastern rogue regimes, rounded up and tried terrorists in their midst, deported islamofascists, cut off funding to killers on the West Bank, ignored Yasser Arafat � and warned the next SOB who blew up Europeans in Turkey, North Africa, or Iraq that there was a deadly reckoning to come from the continent that invented the Western military tradition. Indeed, European sophistication and experience, combined with real power, could be a great aid to the West in its effort to promote liberal and consensual governments outside its shores. But if they do not even believe in the unique legacy of their civilization, then why should we � much less their enemies? bq. So for now we should not lament that the Europeans are no longer real allies, but rather be thankful that they are still for a while longer neutrals rather than enemies � these strange and brilliant people who somehow lost their way, and no longer can distinguish between a noisy Knesset and Arafat's hangmen, much less between those racing to topple a tyrant in Baghdad and others lounging at Sebrenica. (emphasis mine)

light blogging this morning

work intrudes yet again...

great quote

"Posterity -- you will never know how much it has cost my generation to preserve your freedom. I hope you will make good use of it." --John Quincy Adams

Interesting interview at Kitty Hawk

from the DOD website, Rummy's Under Secretary; Dov Zakheim has some comments regarding the future of the US Military and the whole issue with funding and contracts (LOGCAP) I am not going to quote on this because the words coming out of this person's mouth are too good to interrupt.. Read it!

Steven DenBeste weighs in

on Iraq with yet another well thought out essay. He is as good as The Belmont Club and is another of those sites I visit every day. bq. I've seen many commentators writing about leftist demands for an internationalized trial for Saddam who have expressed exasperation at what they perceive as smugness or obtuseness. In fact, what I think we're seeing is fear, panic and desperation. bq. I think those commentators have made the mistake of taking the leftists at their word. For example, Tacitus comments acidly on leftist claims that Saddam's trial would lack "legitimacy" unless it was handled by some sort of international tribunal. But that's only what they say. What they're thinking is that if this is not handled by an international tribunal, then the concepts of "international justice" and "international law" will themselves lose legitimacy. bq. For a long time now, transnationalists have been working to establish a world government. Their goal is nothing less than world conquest, but since they do not intend violent conquest, their means has been persuasion. What they hope is to create embryonic manifestations of world government and then to try to talk about them as if they were already established. If they can convince enough people (and the right people) that there even is such a thing as "international law", then it becomes true. bq. So they push that idea by hiding it. When discussing a nation which refuses to go along with them, they talk about that nation as a scofflaw rather than openly acknowledging the philosophical disagreement about whether there even is such a thing as "international law". bq. But the events of the last two years have not been kind to the transnationalists. There have been events which they think should properly be dealt with on the international level, but it's all gone wrong. Sit down, get a pot of tea and read the whole thing - it's gooood!!!

Convoy Protection

interesting article in USA Today on the evolution of Convoys in Iraq. bq. Hard lessons applied to convoy protection bq. An internal military report says Iraqi insurgents have grown more sophisticated in ambushing U.S. military convoys. Attackers are targeting small groups traveling without air cover and using a variety of tricks to get the convoys to slow down so guerrillas can spring a trap. more: bq. Iraqi fighters look for small vehicle convoys without air cover, according to the report on what the military calls Iraqi "TTP" � tactics, techniques and procedures. bq. The guerrillas tend to strike at night, using spotters with cell phones to alert attackers to approaching convoys. Some attacks involve visible roadside bombs set as bait to get convoys to slow down or divert into "kill zones" rigged with larger, better-hidden explosives. Guerrillas have even staged accidents to slow an approaching convoy. more: bq. The challenge posed by Iraqi tactics is that they keep changing. A high-ranking U.S. officer based in Iraq said Iraqi guerrillas rarely kill more than one American soldier in an ambush and often lose many of their own in a hail of return fire. An infantry squad of 15 to 20 soldiers is usually enough to repel any guerrilla attack, the officer said. Interesting analysis of a complex problem...
from C.S. Monitor editorials: bq. At a time of year when people traditionally assess how they can help those in need, charitable foundations would also do well to ask themselves some searching questions: Are they still valuable institutions - or have they outlived their usefulness? Is the spirit of charitable foundations still willing, but the structure weak? bq. Over the next few years, foundations certainly will have the resources to make an impact. By the year 2010, the assets of American foundations are projected to grow to $800 billion, roughly a fourfold increase since 1994. This fall, the House of Representatives overwhelming passed the Charitable Giving Act, which will further provide charitable foundations with tax advantages. bq. But despite this progress, are charitable foundations really helping to improve society? Collecting and disbursing money is something that government, a United Fund, or an individual patron can do. But foundations fulfilling charitable goals should not just be a matter of showing generosity. At the very least, foundations should be leaders in innovation, experts in identifying challenges and opportunities, and willing servants in the catalyst for change. bq. The charitable foundation has entrepreneurship in its bloodlines. It was created at the turn of the 20th century by captains of industry who had devised or adopted new technologies and production methods to build railroads, manufacture goods, and marshal resources on an unprecedented scale. Interesting idea...
from Collin Levey - Seattle Times editorial columnist: bq. The U.N. is sounding for all the world like a passive-aggressive spouse these days � whatever the U.S. suggests, it wants the opposite. bq. After the one brief moment when the whole world was delighted that we'd caught Saddam, the bickering began over where and how the former Iraqi dictator would face trial. No sooner had the U.S. suggested that the Iraqis who had suffered under Saddam's rule had the right to bring him to justice, the shouting began. A trial would only have legitimacy and escape the slur of "victor's justice" if held in an international court, the multilateral faithful chanted. bq. Kofi Annan reminded the world that the U.N. doesn't believe in the death penalty. A French lawyer offered himself as Saddam's defense counsel. So did former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clarke, the eternal nutty liberal who made his offer while attending an "anti-occupation conference" in Cairo. bq. Having been left flatfooted by the capture, war opponents saw a chance to get their mojo back. Wesley Clark beamed from The Hague, where he has been testifying in the trial of Slobodan Milosevic, applauding the use of international criminal courts. A week before, he'd opined on MSNBC that Osama bin Laden, if captured, should be tried in an international court, too. After all, he'd end up in a "Dutch prison," Gen. Clark said. "They're under water, they're damp, they're cold, they're really miserable." more: bq. Many of the opponents of an Iraqi trial are the same folks who refused to stand in judgment of Saddam when he was in violation of every U.N. commitment and human-rights standard. Why are these international civil servants so keen to sit and judge him now? Just a few weeks ago, they couldn't scream loud enough that the U.S. occupation had to end and power and control had to be handed back to Iraqis regardless of the consequences. Now they say Iraqis are not to be trusted with the trial of the man who tormented them for years. bq. The inconsistency here is quite numbing. The only common denominator is a craving to assert bureaucratic prerogative on behalf of "international institutions." and more: bq. The Governing Council has already drafted a statute for a war-crimes tribunal in Baghdad. The same leaders � Shiite, Kurd and Sunni � who confronted Saddam in his cell and went straight to the question of justice for his crimes are the best indication that a new Iraq is up to the challenge of prosecuting its old despot. bq. Suddenly, the problem, most detractors say, is the appearance of it all. Human Rights Watch's executive director announced that any trial run by Iraqis would be perceived as an American puppet trial and wouldn't win any credence with the international community. bq. In other words, it's all about bashing the U.S. once more. Isn't it time we stopped even dignifying this motivation? Who will be stepping up to dispute that Saddam murdered some 300,000 Iraqi Kurds, or used chemical weapons against the Iranians, or invaded Kuwait? Those who will continue to defend Saddam's acts � the Palestinians come to mind � will not be swayed by an international court any more than they will by an Iraqi one. Half of them think the Mossad blew up the World Trade Center.

life in France these days

Rodger Simon (mystery and screenplay writer) recently returned from a few weeks in Paris and is blogging about his experiences... bq. I have visited Paris frequently in my life�between 1990-1992 alone at least a half a dozen times, ranging in length from a few days to a few weeks�but it had been ten years before this visit and the City of Lights seemed different�. Perhaps it was the odd lack of Christmas ornamentation in the streets (compared to New York and London) or the empty tables at the temples of gastronomy (I didn�t go anyway). Or that I listened to too many stories of decline from people like longtime (twenty-five year) resident American writer Nidra Poller�. and more: bq. Strange as this sounds, it reminded me in a way of some of my visits to the Soviet Union in the late eighties. The range of opinion in the press is about as extensive as the difference used to be between Pravda and Izvestia. Of course, that�s an exaggeration, but I had the sense more than ever of a society ruled by a nomenklatura (who more Politburo-like than Chirac and de Villepin) with, in this case, a populace of semi-employed drudges whiling away hours smoking, drinking watery espresso and debating Derrida in grimy cafes. and more: bq. The French Jewish culture, which gave our world, among so many others, Modigliani, Soutine, Chagall, Proust, Bergson and Serge Gainsbourg may soon be gone. Sad in a sense - they are facing a long decline...

?!?!?!?! M. Jackson converts to Islam

heard this from a couple sources - here is FOX News bq. Michael Jackson is panicked about his legal situation. In fact, he is so anxiety-ridden that he is now taking advice from a leader of the Nation of Islam rather than listening to his managers. from N.Y. Post bq. High-ranking members of the Nation of Islam have been working to bring Jackson into Rev. Louis Farrakhan's flock - and Jackson's conversion is now well-known in the NOI community. bq. Exactly why Jackson converted wasn't clear to The Post's sources. bq. But Fox News's Web site reported yesterday that Jackson's brother Jermaine, who converted to Islam in 1989, has been seeking to win favor with his more famous sibling, and has brought Farrakhan's chief of staff, Leonard F. Muhammad, into Jacko's inner circle as a "bodyguard." and from WABC-TV in New York bq. And there's word that Jackson last night became a member of the Nation Of Islam. And he's now getting advice from the Reverend Louis Farrakhan. Another chapter in a very strange life...

Belmont Club is on a roll these days...

one of the sites I visit daily is The Belmont Club Today's is wonderful - here are the first and the last paragraphs of "The Postwar World" bq. The objective of the War on Terror is plainly to defeat the enemy. But this goal can be expressed in an alternative manner as the shaping of the postwar world. The surprising thing is that both formulations must be equivalent, being by definition exactly the same state. Yet unforeseeable consequences of conflict make it difficult to predict, until the last moment, what the possibilities of peace may be. When Roosevelt, Churchill and Stalin met for the final time in Yalta, they could allow the focus to shift from the prosecution of hostilities, for by then the Axis was manifestly doomed, to an explicit attempt to restructure a globe that had irrevocably changed. The Cold War boundaries between East and Western had their genesis in these talks. It was at Yalta that the United Nations was first conceived. It was there that the foundations of 50 years of future history were laid. Yet in a sense, none of the victors had arrived blindly at the spot. Each in his imperfect manner had groped towards that moment, guided by some vision of the future world. That was what they made war for. bq. This opportunity for freedom has come before on a smaller scale, at Runnymede and Philadelphia. Not upon the promise of government but on the absence of tyranny. The world does not need a new framework of treaties, least of all a world government, but the freedom to prosper as nations on a planet in which everything except oppression is permitted. For it is self-evident that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with unalienable Rights, that the only excuse for government is to secure these rights and that these words can be translated into every living tongue. Wonderful stuff - visit the site and read the whole thing.

Sunlight dimming by 10% over last 30 years

interesting article in The Guardian bq. In 1985, a geography researcher called Atsumu Ohmura at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology got the shock of his life. As part of his studies into climate and atmospheric radiation, Ohmura was checking levels of sunlight recorded around Europe when he made an astonishing discovery. It was too dark. Compared to similar measurements recorded by his predecessors in the 1960s, Ohmura's results suggested that levels of solar radiation striking the Earth's surface had declined by more than 10% in three decades. Sunshine, it seemed, was on the way out. bq. The finding went against all scientific thinking. By the mid-80s there was undeniable evidence that our planet was getting hotter, so the idea of reduced solar radiation - the Earth's only external source of heat - just didn't fit. And a massive 10% shift in only 30 years? Ohmura himself had a hard time accepting it. "I was shocked. The difference was so big that I just could not believe it," he says. Neither could anyone else. When Ohmura eventually published his discovery in 1989 the science world was distinctly unimpressed. "It was ignored," he says. Climate is a very complex thing - simple explanations (CO2) and simple solutions (Kyoto) simply do not cut it...
from DP Review bq. Canon has announced today that it plans to roll-out nearly 20 new compact digital cameras in 2004 in an aggressive product push to grab 25 percent of the global market and it seems that this is aimed squarely at Sony. Takashi Oshiyama, head of Canon's digital imaging business group, told Reuters in an interview "Those companies out there that have no experience producing film cameras have yet to create a camera that performs like a real camera should. I won't say who that is." Oshiyama said shipments of digital cameras by Japanese manufacturers would total between 40 and 44 million units in 2003. That compares to last year's 25 million units, according to Japan's Camera and Imaging Products Association (CIPA). I've heard of aggressively entering the marketplace but this is ridiculous! The bad news is that there will be some brand diffusion -- with so many models, people will dither over which to get and this may drive them to a different brand with fewer models (easier to understand) On the other hand, talk about market presence. They may even do a model that I would like to see - stripped down simple but with 8:1 optical zoom and good 4MP sensor. This would be ideal for people who want to take pictures but who don't feel comfortable with all the technology. There are lots of people with old Pentaxs, Nikons and Canons stuffed on their closet shelves who are curious about digital photography but who consider all the controls and 'featuritis' a major turn-off...
damn... from the Boston Globe bq. Johnny Cunningham was an internationally renowned Scottish fiddler and a world-class partier who loved to have a good time almost as much as he enjoyed blurring the lines between musical genres. As a founding member of the acoustic-electric fusion band Silly Wizard, he helped spark a revival of Celtic music in the 1970s. bq. Mr. Cunningham, 46, who also performed with the rock band Rain Dog and who toured and recorded with folk artist Bill Morrissey, died of an apparent heart attack Monday in New York City. Wonderful wonderful band. Johhny you will be missed...

Victor Davis Hanson - book review

found a book review that Victor Davis Hanson did of "A Lost Breed, Rumsfeld; A Personal Portrait" by Midge Decter here NOTE: WHen clicking on the link, I got a message asking to install a security certificate - I clicked yes after examining it - benign, just strange. I plan on removing it after I'm done looking at the rest of the site... bq. DONALD RUMSFELD, we are told, had a bad summer and a worse fall. Reporters tried his patience in a testy press conference by implying that the Secretary of Defense had lost operational control of the Iraqi reconstruction effort to a special working group run out of the White House by Condoleezza Rice. A leaked confidential memo by Rumsfeld to his subordinates was said to prove he was harboring more worries about post-bellum Iraq and the war against terrorism than he had publicly let on. General Wesley Clark, aspiring to the presidency, directed a barrage of criticism at the Secretary, aiming particularly at his alleged failure to assess the military situation properly and to deploy more than 140,000 troops in Iraq. Press and politicians alike were going after him for purported sins of commission as they would never think to do with, say, the diplomatic Colin Powell, whose long public record of error and hesitation�about striking back in Lebanon in 1983, about recovering Kuwait by force or going to Baghdad in 1991, about bombing Slobodan Milosevic, about removing the Taliban, about invading Iraq in 2003�has been mostly forgiven. bq. Midge Decter finished her brief book before this cascade of anti-Rumsfeld invective, in the heady days right after the three-week victory in Iraq last spring, when 71 percent of Americans (according to one poll) approved of his performance. Yet I doubt whether she would�or should�change anything about her positive portrait of this extraordinary public official, whose record and whose character remain mostly immune to the passing pique of Democratic hopefuls and the Washington press corps. To the contrary, to read her vivid and compelling account is to become worried in a different sense: the last thing Americans should wish is to drive from office the most gifted and successful Secretary of Defense in our nation�s history. bq. Consider: in little more than two years after the murder of 3,000 Americans on September 11, 2001, the United States military under Rumsfeld�s direction has won two wars, overthrown the Taliban and Saddam Hussein, inaugurated consensual government for 50 million Middle Easterners, scattered al-Qaeda terrorists, put both allies and enemies on notice that the entire way the United States uses its military is now under review, and crafted a new, lighter, and more mobile style of fighting�all without suffering another catastrophic attack on our territory and at the cost of about 300 soldiers lost. What Decter�s biography reminds us is that we need this seventy-one-year-old veteran far more than he needs us. bq. THE GREEKS invented the art of biography as an exercise in moral philosophy. The lives of "preeminent" statesmen and generals were to serve as ethical exemplars�both good and bad�for the rest of us, subject as we are to the same all-too-human appetites and temptations. Thus, the early years of an Alcibiades, an Alexander, or a Cicero were mined by Plutarch for anecdotes that might reveal an unchanging and essential character, its elements becoming more manifest during the crucible of adulthood and thereby accounting for the subject�s ultimate achievement. It is this biographical tradition�not the current American bathos of fact-filled, gossip-ridden megabooks about celebrities�that Midge Decter has returned to in her succinct essay on our current Secretary of Defense. bq. Two grand themes predominate in her narrative. First, an examination of Donald Rumsfeld�s earlier life and political career allows us to make perfect sense of his sometimes contentious tenure since September 11�that is, to see it as simply a continuance of a long if occasionally controversial record of public service. For anyone curious about Rumsfeld�s propensity to be impulsive, blunt, and often at odds with protocol (remember his reference to "Old Europe," or his comparison of the anti-Americanism of a German government with that of regimes like Libya), Decter explains that it was always so. She shows us the young Congressman on his way home in 1963, joining police in hot pursuit to tackle a fugitive criminal; the middle-aged ambassador to NATO running with the bulls in Pamplona; the corporate mogul of the Searle Pharmaceutical Company calling Monsanto�s bluff in the eleventh hour of a proposed buy-out and thereby garnering for his shareholders a $2.7 billion prize, and several millions for himself. bq. After September 11, a steady and unfazed Donald Rumsfeld mesmerized the nation in a series of weekly and even twice-weekly press conferences, during which, speaking without notes, he offered sweeping ad-hoc assessments on critical topics as wide-ranging as the nature of terror, the readiness of the U.S. military, and America�s relationship with both enemies in the Middle East and allies in Europe. Just as character remains constant from youth to adulthood, so too, it seems, does the accumulated experience of a long public life explain the mature expertise applied by Rumsfeld to the war against terror. bq. Donald Rumsfeld was once, during the Ford administration, the country�s youngest Secretary of Defense; 26 years later, he is the only American to have held the office twice. Not much that goes on in the Pentagon is new to him. ("A friend in Washington, D.C. is someone who stabs you in the chest," is one of his maxims.) He was once Dick Cheney�s boss; he navigated the landmines of the dying Nixon administration; he worked with Henry Kissinger and Daniel P. Moynihan, ran the Office of Economic Opportunity, served as the United States ambassador to NATO, and ran afoul of George Bush, Sr. This was in addition to directing some of the largest companies in the United States, piloting jet planes, and, in 1987, running unsuccessfully for the presidency of the United States. bq. Not even the September 11 terror attack on the building he was working in posed a novel threat. As Middle East envoy under Ronald Reagan, Rumsfeld had met most of the region�s thugs and dictators. He had been asked to preside over some of our country�s less than inspiring moments�explaining to shocked Leba nese the abrupt flight of the U.S. Marine contingent after the October 23, 1983 bombing of the Beirut barracks; defending an opportunistic policy of American neutrality during Saddam Hussein�s war against the mullahs in Iran. bq. As Decter points out, our current policy linking terrorism�which, after all, is merely a method, not an enemy per se�to real governments reflects Rumsfeld�s carefully acquired past understanding of how such killers work. As early as 1987, he was warning in public speeches that the United States could not stop terrorist attacks against its citizens "until it redefines the process as warfare by hostile governments rather than isolated acts." To anyone curious about who is the driving force behind the idea of taking the war to regimes that abet terrorism while at the same time hunting down the miscreants themselves, the answer is Rumsfeld. bq. DECTER'S SECOND theme is that the life of this Illinois native is emblematic of a long but now largely forgotten American tradition, grounded in the pragmatism of the Midwest, in which allegiance to family, to country, and to a code of moral behavior is seen as not only essential to the health of society but "manly"�i.e., virtuous�in its own right. In this regard, Decter also argues that there is a lofty sort of male sexiness inherent in the septuagenarian Rumsfeld�how else to account for his sudden popularity last spring with women of all ages? And she contrasts this noble sexiness directly with . . . well, you know whom: bq. The point is that by the time [Bill Clinton] departed the White House there were few women and even fewer men who would with any sincerity have awarded [him] the status of sex hero, let alone�O happy invention!�"studmuffin." That designation would have to await the arrival of a high-achieving, clear-headed, earnest, no-nonsense, Midwestern family man nearly seventy years old. bq. Decter makes much of Rumsfeld�s personal moderation; he seems immune to the classical excesses of drink, drugs, gambling, and cavorting. And here is an interesting paradox, for it is precisely this impeccably conservative personal life that seems so at odds with�or does it perhaps best explain?�his often radical approach to public affairs and his unswerving and quite public self-assurance. He does not much seem to care what people say or think about him as long as he is acting on the truth as he sees it. That millions of Americans appreciate this simplicity and steadfastness implies to Decter a hopeful shift in public mores, or at least a healthy nostalgia for men of an old and lost breed: bq. The popular discovery of Donald Rumsfeld spells the return of the ideal of the American family man, with all that such an ideal entails in the way of vitality, determination, humor, seriousness, and abiding self-confidence, along with protectiveness of loved ones, neighbors, and country. In the long run, this change may well be more important to the fortunes of his country than the changes he wrought in the armed forces. bq. Rumsfeld is not the last word on the Secretary of Defense, and it makes no apologies for its enthusiastic applause for both the man and his career. Others will write more�and more negatively. But at a time when American biography has too often assumed the form of big books about little people, books in which thousands of irrelevant footnoted facts vie with raw gossip as substitutes for thought and analysis, Midge Decter�s life marks as refreshing a change as does Donald Rumsfeld himself. I did not excerpt the review because it's worth reading in it's entiriety. We have few people of either Rumsfeld's or Hanson's caliber on our side and it's worth listening to everything they say.

new entry at The Belmont Club

this guy is fantastic. His entry for today describes in four paragraphs what people have spent books on: bq. When the United Nations was established in 1945 it lacked the one essential ingredient of world government: supranational police power. In was not until the mid-1980s, with the emergence of a dominant United States, that world government became potentially possible. As that dominance grew in the last decade of the 20th century, the potential of harnessing American might to the bidding of the "international community" became irresistible to the globalists. Under the model that they tried to construct, sole "legitimacy" would be vested in the world government; i.e. the United Nations, thus acquiring the exclusive lawful use of the US armed forces. As the sole civil authority, the "international community" could constitute a posse, consisting almost entirely of American arms, for whatever purposes they deemed lawful. bq. The curious antipathy of the Germany and France towards unilateral American action following September 11 was driven not by a sudden revulsion for American culture, but by the loss of something they deeply coveted: the means to exercise supranational police power under the aegis of international treaties. In the days following Osama Bin Laden's attack on New York, hopes ran high in Paris, Berlin and Moscow, that America in her grief would deposit her strength in the hands of the "international community" who, thus armed, promised to put a stop to terrorism and uproot its causes. To provide the violins, the capitals of Europe expressed the utmost sympathy for the American loss and deluged embassies with flowers and letters of support. "We are all Americans now". For a moment, matters hung on edge, the most critical instant in modern history. Then the haze passed, and America shook the expectant, extended hand and said "I'll take care of it myself". The response was immediate and incandescent. The internationalists rounded on America with as much hatred as the sympathy they had professed mere moments before. Two more paragraphs to go - visit his site and read on...
from the US State Department bq. December 17, 2003 bq. This Travel Warning is being issued to alert Americans to the fact that, due to security concerns, the Department of State has authorized the departure of family members and non-emergency employees of the U.S. Embassy and Consulates on a voluntary basis. Private American citizens should evaluate their own security situations and should consider departing the country. This Travel Warning supersedes that of December 8, 2003. bq. The Department of State warns U.S. citizens to defer travel to Saudi Arabia. Americans are reminded of the potential for further terrorist actions against U.S. citizens abroad, including in the Persian Gulf region. U.S. citizens who travel to, or remain in, Saudi Arabia despite this Travel Warning should register at the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy in Riyadh or at the Consulates in Jeddah and Dhahran, and enroll in the warden system (emergency alert network) to obtain updated information on travel and security in Saudi Arabia. I personally would feel safer in the 90% of Iraq outside of Bagdhad than I would be in Saudi Arabia. Have a lot more freedom too...

Cheap large televisions in 2004 says Intel

from the NY Times bq. The Intel Corporation is planning to do to digital television what it has already done to computing. bq. At the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, which opens on Jan. 8, Intel is expected to disclose the development of a class of advanced semiconductors that technologists and analysts say will improve the quality of large-screen digital televisions and substantially lower their price, according to industry executives close to the company. bq. Intel's ability to integrate display, television receiver and computer electronics on a single piece of silicon is likely to open new markets for a class of products - including plasma, projection and L.C.D. TV's - that now sell for $3,000 to $10,000. bq. Intel, as well as other large chip manufacturers, should be able to expand the benefits of Moore's Law, named for Gordon Moore, a founder of Intel, which accurately predicted decades ago that computer chips would continue to double in capacity roughly every 18 months, while their price would continue to fall. bq. "I think this brings Moore's Law to digital television," said Richard Doherty, a consumer electronics industry analyst who is president of Envisioneering, a consulting firm based on Long Island. He predicted that the low-cost display technology, which can be incorporated into the traditional rear-projection television sets, could lead to lightweight 50-inch screens only 7 inches thick for about $1,000, perhaps as early as the 2004 holiday season. Although, if this gets traction, it will cause the sales of the present systems to tank and thereby upsetting the market... I would put the sub-$1K 50" TV at 2005 instead of 2004 - there are factories to build and working in an experimental lab is a lot different than working on a factory floor - some processes do not scale well... Still, cool tachnology and something to keep an eye on...

Dumb Criminal

from TV Station WCBS New York: bq. Even the cops couldn't believe it. bq. Two shoplifters took more than $2,000 in digital cameras from a Wal-Mart and left one behind with a picture of one of crooks still on it. bq. A nice clean shot, and far more helpful than the store's surveillance video. Heh...

Weather software

can be found here As some of you may know, we are setting up a farm in northern Washington state. Our crop will be cider apples for traditional hard cider Black Mountain Cider Anyway, I recently set up a Davis Instruments weather station and have been gathering data - software such as sold at WeatherGraphics will be useful for forecasting.

Project Gutenbberg releases 10,000th book

from their website bq. To celebrate Project Gutenberg's 10,000th eBook, the The Magna Carta, there will be a series of events in the San Francisco Bay Area in December 2003. Some events are RSVP, or by invitation, while others are open to the public. bq. Help to celebrate this milestone, wherever you are, by giving away eBooks. Grab just a few of your favorites, or download an entire CD image. If you have the bandwidth and a DVD burner, grab the DVD image (4.13GB) with over 9500 eBooks! (It doesn't have all 10,000 because some are too big to include, and others are under copyright protection in the US.). Just think: if you give away 105 DVDs, you've given away ONE MILLION EBOOKS! This is the organization that has been comiling the texts of public-domain books and making them available in a standardised format. Very cool stuff!!!

Saddam to stand trial in Iraq

from BBC bq. Saddam Hussein will be tried in a special Iraqi court, the head of Iraq's Governing Council has confirmed. bq. Abdul Aziz al-Hakim said international monitors could observe the trial, which would take global legal standards into account. bq. He did not say whether the former Iraqi president, captured at the weekend, would face the death penalty. bq. Earlier, another member of the council said Saddam Hussein was being held in the Baghdad area. Excellent news - he needs to be tried by the people he opressed for so long and they need to get closure on his reign of terror...

Wrights' First Flight Reenactment a D

from Yahoo/Reuters bq. KILL DEVIL HILLS, N.C. (Reuters) - An attempt to reenact the first powered human flight with a replica of the Wright Brothers wood-and-cloth biplane was a flop on Wednesday, dampening a celebration of 100 years of human flight. bq. The replica of the Wright Flyer moved down a wooden track and its nose appeared to lift off the ground briefly before flopping back down and coming to rest in a puddle of water. bq. The reenactment capped a weeklong First Flight festivities at the Wright Brothers National Memorial in North Carolina, where Orville Wright made his 12-second, 120-foot flight at 10:35 a.m. on Dec. 17, 1903. Goes to show just how fragile that craft was and how lucky those two pioneers were... Fun to see what happens with the next 100 years!

new CCD sensor for Digital Cameras

from DP Review bq. Sharp today announced the six megapixel, 1/1.8" type RJ21T3AAPT/ST CCD. This new sensor is exactly the same size (type) as used in many current four and five megapixel digital cameras and so will be an attractive option for digital camera manufacturer as an easy way to launch 'new' models with more megapixels (it's sad but people are still buying the numbers game). Once more this raises the question of noise and lens quality, how much noisier (if it all) will this sensor be and will the current lenses (some of which were designed for three megapixel 1/1.8 CCD's) be able to deliver enough resolution to deliver any real gain (other than file size). This new sensor has a pixel pitch of just 2.5 �m, the smallest yet.

Cool new Google tool

type in the three-letter airport designation and then the word "airport" You will get a link titled: "View conditions at..." and this will be a link to the FAA page showing travel conditions at that airport. for example Seattle/Tacoma brings a link to this page

major win for Bjorn Lomborg

Bjorn Lomborg wrote a book called "The Skeptical Environmentalist" in which he reevaluates a lot of the raw data used for the doom and gloom environmental projections and comes up with quite a different answer. When the book came out, the Danish Committees on Scientific Dishonesty (DSCD) ruled that Bj�rn Lomborg's book "The Skeptical Environmentalist" was "objectively dishonest" or "clearly contrary to the standards of good scientific practice". This charge was followed at length by the Scientific American magazine (some details here) Anyway, today, the Danish Environmental Assessment Institute published a web page overturning the previous DSCD ruling. They said: bq. The Danish Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation has today repudiated findings by the Danish Committees on Scientific Dishonesty (DSCD) that Bj�rn Lomborg's book "The Skeptical Environmentalist" was "objectively dishonest" or "clearly contrary to the standards of good scientific practice". bq. The Ministry, which is responsible for the DSCD, has today released a critical assessment of the Committee's January 6 ruling. The Ministry finds that the DCSD judgment was not backed up by documentation, and was "completely void of argumentation" for the claims of dishonesty and lack of good scientific practice. bq. The Ministry characterizes the DCSD's treatment of the case as "dissatisfactory", "deserving criticism" and "emotional" and points out a number of significant errors. The DSCD's verdict has consequently been remitted. This is a good day for science!!!


new software from Yamaha (hat tip Grafyte) Interesting stuff - probably very CPU intensive but still, the flexibility looks very cool - for $350 or so, it would be something to be considered if the format is open. Nice to have users develop other voices for this and not be locked into a proprietary format...

Guest Editorial in today's Seattle Times

from the Seattle Times, Guest columnist Matt Rosenberg weighs in on freedom and Blogging in Iraq and Iran bq. Our family's menorah rests on the mantle next to a beautiful noble fir draped with Christmas ornaments. The big holiday dinner will include the Hanukkah staple of potato latkes with sour cream, and a succulent ham from Hempler's of Bellingham. I know � not kosher. My late fraternal grandfather Jacob would not approve. bq. Grandpa fled to Brooklyn from Ukraine in the early 1900s to escape the periodic pogroms against Jews, under Russian czarist rule. He worked his way up from house painter and wallpaper hanger to a building contractor, earning for his two sons access to higher education and a different kind of success. And somehow he managed to get over one of his grandsons marrying a shikse (non-Jewish woman). bq. That's why the co-mingled smells of latkes and baked ham will remind me of my family's flight to freedom in a place where religious, ethnic and political diversity are cause for celebration, not persecution. With the capture of deposed Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein last weekend, Iraqis may now be likely to enjoy such liberties sooner, rather than later. bq. Something more powerful than terrorist attacks and resistance was under way there even before Saddam's dramatic capture. It is reflected partly by a growing cadre of passionate, pro-democracy Iraqis providing firsthand reporting, commentary and pointed media criticism on their own Internet "Web log" sites, or "blogs." bq. The few reports from old media outlets on a rally of 5,000 to 10,000 Iraqis in Baghdad last week � just days before Saddam was taken � portrayed it largely as an "anti-terrorism" event. It was much more, according to an increasingly cited Iraqi blogger named Zeyad who roamed the crowds snapping photos with a new digital camera provided by American Jeff Jarvis, the president and creative director of bq. Zeyad stressed, "It wasn't just against terrorism. It was against Arab media, against the interference of neighbouring countries, against dictatorships, against Wahhabism, against oppression, and of course against the Ba'ath and Saddam. ... At one point it struck me that our many differences as an Iraqi people meant nothing. Here we were all together shouting in different languages the same slogans, "NO NO to terrorism, YES YES for peace." bq. Zeyad is a 24-year-old Baghdad postgraduate dental student who learned English living in London as a child. He started his blog this fall after tracking down Internet executive Jarvis for advice. Jarvis is a leading pro-war U.S. blogger whose long print media r�sum� includes stints as Sunday news editor for the San Francisco Chronicle; TV critic for TV Guide and People; and founding editor of Entertainment Weekly. As Zeyad prepared for his foray into the blogo-sphere, he e-mailed Jarvis, "I don't expect America alone to do everything for us. ... I want to be part of it." bq. Another prominent Iraqi blogger, Alaa, writes, "The U.S. and her allies, have decided to eradicate the roots of evil. And the roots of evil are precisely this misery and squalor. It is not a war against a race or a religion; it is a war on backwardness and stagnation; a war to bring prosperity, freedom and progress." bq. Along with law professor and technology writer Glenn Reynolds' noted, Jarvis' blog is among the focal points for links to the real story in Iraq; and for no-holds-barred "fisking," or taking apart, of biased U.S. and European media coverage. bq. All told, there's an impressive network of U.S. bloggers rooting on their Iraqi colleagues, spreading their message, and even providing software and other technical assistance. To get a sense of the building buzz, scour some of the 1,360 Web pages (as of last week), accessed via Google, that contain the phrase "Iraqi blogs." bq. The importance of blogging to cultural and political liberalization (note the word, please) is evident elsewhere in the Persian Gulf. The BBC reported last week Iranian bloggers and their supporters have taken online their grievances with the government's Internet censorship, posting hundreds of comments on a site of the United Nations' digital summit. bq. Blogging from and about emerging democracies is more than Internet news from the front. The high-touch feel and inter-connectivity of blogs allow participants to confront and outflank old media in force, while building transnational political communities. bq. Like Saddam's capture, the message from wired Iraqi sentinels underscores that U.S. intervention has been right and just. Now, the prospect of Iraq's independence is more tangible. But potential chaos and mighty challenges may remain in the near term. It is not time for the U.S. to leave yet. bq. Now more than ever, the fresh voices of Iraqi bloggers will be an invaluable counterweight to traditional media coverage. In the weeks and months to come, turn to them for crucial, first-person insights on this unfolding, and uplifting, birth of a democracy.
from Yahoo/AFP bq. UNITED NATIONS (AFP) - Iraq's foreign minister told the UN Security Council to stop bickering over the war that brought down Saddam Hussein and come together to help rebuild his shattered nation. bq. In a pointed address delivered with UN Secretary General Kofi Annan on hand, Hoshyar Zebari said the United Nations had failed to stand up to Saddam to defend the Iraqi people, and called for a swift UN return to the country. bq. "One year ago, the Security Council was divided between those who wanted to appease Saddam Hussein and those who wanted to hold him accountable," Zebari told the 15-nation council, which was sharply divided over the war. bq. "The UN as an organisation failed to help rescue the Iraqi people from a murderous tyranny of 35 years," he said. "The UN must not fail the Iraqi people again." bq. Annan, who publicly opposed the US decision to launch the war after failing to win the support of the Security Council, said it was "no time to pin blame and point fingers" over the past. bq. "I think the UN has done as much as it can for Iraq," Annan told reporters. "So quite honestly I don't think today is the time to hurl accusations." Awwww - poor poor Kofi... The only reason the UN had any problems over there is because they used ex-Baath party people for their security. Like duhhh dudes???

Dumb Criminal

from the Orlando Sentinal bq. Ronald A. Mahner didn't come down the chimney at the Seminole County Sheriff's Office on Monday, but Santa couldn't have done a better job of gift-wrapping his arrest for the agency's auto theft unit. bq. Four days after Mahner was released from Seminole County Jail, where he served time for drunken driving, auto theft and habitually driving with a suspended or revoked license, he showed up at the Sheriff's Office to claim his personal property. bq. When asked to provide identification, Mahner handed over his drivers license. Deputy Sheriff Teri Cresswell did a routine computer check and found the license had been revoked for life. bq. Cresswell could do nothing without seeing Mahner behind the wheel, so she told him to drive to the back parking lot. He did so -- and parked in a fire lane. bq. While Mahner was inside getting his clothing, shampoo, dartboard and battery charger, Ann Mallory, a manager in the Forensic Services Section, went outside and called in a computer check of the car's tag. bq. It had been reported stolen Thursday -- the same day Mahner was released from jail -- from a Longwood used-car lot. bq. Investigators for the auto theft unit, who sometimes spend days staking out parking lots without making an arrest, walked outside and handcuffed Mahner as he was about to drive away. DOH!

17 yer old New Zealand inventor

builds ROV submarine in parents garage... from NZ Stuff: bq. Steven McCabe has spent more time tinkering away in his garage than concentrating on his school studies this year. bq. "Yeah I've slacked off," the 17-year-old Morrinsville College student admits. bq. But after spending 100 days over the past two years in his garage � crammed with old computers, a spa, and hundreds of circuit boards � Steven has built a 60kg submarine which has kick-started his career. bq. Last week the 1.5m long remote-operated vessel (ROV) won Steven the Institution of Professional Engineers New Zealand award at the Genesis Energy national science competition for secondary schools. Very cool stuff!

strange news from Eastern Washington...

from Yahoo/AP news... bq. 2,666 Jugs of Urine Found on Highways bq. KENNEWICK, Wash. - Forced to clean up an increasing number of jugs and bags of human waste along highways, the Adams County Waste Reduction & Recycling office took out a full-page newspaper advertisement to combat the problem. bq. The ad features a photo of a plastic milk jug filled with urine, and the message, "Okay, One last time: This is not a urinal." bq. From March 4 to Nov. 27, 2002, one Adams County highway cleanup crew picked up 2,666 jugs of urine and 67 bags with human excrement in them. Lots of long-haul trucking there with few rest stops...

interesting article on Mercury

from the Marginal Revolution blog bq. Bad Science Poisons Our Children's Brains bq. The Natural Resources Defense Council has got mercury on its mind. They write, "Mercury Poisons Our Children's Brains" explaining: bq. Mercury is a potent neurotoxin that, like lead, especially threatens the brains and nervous systems of fetuses and young children. A number of neurological diseases and problems are linked to mercury exposure, including learning and attention disabilities -- which are a growing problem -- and mental retardation. Mercury also might be linked to the recent increase in autism, Parkinson's disease and Alzheimer's in every 12 women of childbearing age has mercury in her blood above the EPA "safe" level...Toxic mercury emissions from power plants put 300,000 newborns each year at risk for neurological impairment." bq. Frightening isn't it? Lets take a closer look before sending the NRDC a check. How was the EPA's safe-level arrived at? There are three major studies of mercury and neurological impairment in children due to consumption of contaminated fish. One study found no effect, one was ambiguous, the last found some mild impairment (You would never notice the impairment on an individual level and can detect it only in a large sample. Not to be ignored if it exists, but we are not talking about Downs children). To be on the safe side, the EPA focused on the one study that found an effect. Within that one study there was some uncertainty about how much mercury caused a problem so the EPA took that study's lower bound (the lower bound of the 95 confidence interval for the statisticians in the audience.) Finally, to really be on the safe side, they divided the lower bound by ten! bq. Now notice how the charlatans at the NRDC twist a number of true facts to make a big lie. It is true that mercury can cause neurological impairment and it is true that 8% of women have blood mercury greater than the EPA safe level but you would never learn from the NRDC that the EPA safe level is more than ten times smaller than levels that have ever been found to cause mild impairment and that even the existence of such impairment is open to question. Throw in a few warnings about how learning disabilities are a "growing problem" and, for all the readers who don't have children, don't forget to mention the "recent increase" in Parkinson's and Alzheimers and you have a perfect example of advertising masquerading as science. (Ever notice how many public interest groups sound like used car salesmen? Sale! Sale! Sale! Buy now before its too late!) Very well explained... Yet another "scare"

Hotel Chains loose Ag exemption...

from the Seattle PI Two Hotel companies with properties in Florida were claiming Agricultural tax exemptions on their land. bq. In the past, officials from both hotel chains have said they followed Florida law when seeking the exemptions, which must be renewed each year. The exemptions allowed the Hyatt to save more than $874,000 and the Hilton to save about $400,000. Probably grew some orange trees and thought they could save a bundle on the property taxes. Oopsie...

Tunnel from Europe to Africa

from New Scientist bq. Construction of a tunnel linking Europe and Africa could begin within five years after Spain and Morocco agreed to a major engineering study of the Strait of Gibraltar. bq. The tunnel could be dug between Punta Paloma in southern Spain and Punta Malabata near Tangier in Morocco. It would run for 38.5 kilometres and would pass beneath the strait for 27 kilometres at a depth of about 300 metres. bq. The Strait of Gibraltar is a narrow and turbulent stretch of water connecting the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea. The shortest distance across is just 19 kilometres. But the seabed is so deep across this stretch that a tunnel would need to be dug at a depth of 900 metres. 900 meters down - probably gets pretty warm down there. This will be an amazing engineering task.

bagdhad Jim in the news again...

from the Seattle Times Our very own Representative Jim McDermot opened his mouth yet again and said: bq. On Seattle radio yesterday, Rep. Jim McDermott questioned the timing of Saddam Hussein's capture, saying, "I'm sure they could have found him a long time ago if they wanted to." bq. His comments came during an interview on "The Dave Ross Show" on KIRO-FM. bq. "I've been surprised they waited, but then I thought, well, politically, it probably doesn't make much sense to find him just yet," he said. bq. "There's too much by happenstance for it to be just a coincidental thing that it happened on this particular day," he continued. Jim was the one who went to Bagdhad, met with Saddam and decried the US efforts. More from the article: bq. In September 2002, McDermott made news when he traveled to Iraq and told television interviewers that President Bush would mislead the public to justify an invasion. bq. It's an incident that continues to reverberate on Capitol Hill. bq. Two months ago, House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, R-Texas, wrote McDermott a personal letter after McDermott denounced a comment by a member of DeLay's office. The staffer said McDermott had attacked the U.S. while he visited Iraq. bq. Instead of an apology, DeLay wrote: "Your words, had they been spoken in the United States, would have amounted to mean-spirited but predictable mediocre hackery. That they were uttered in Saddam's Iraq, however, perhaps within shouting distance of a torture chamber or mass grave, elevated (or lowered) those remarks to the sickening embarrassment they were." Gotta love the last paragraph there (emphasis mine)

Orson Scott Card essay on Democratic Party

Orson Scott Card has a wonderful essay in Wall Street Opinion Journal titled: The Campaign of Hate and Fear Some of my fellow Democrats are unpatriotic hat tip LGF bq. In one of Patrick O'Brian's novels about the British navy during the Napoleonic wars, he dismisses a particularly foolish politician by saying that his political platform was "death to the Whigs." Watching the primary campaigns among this year's pathetic crop of Democratic candidates, I can't help but think that their campaigns would be vastly improved if they would only rise to the level of "Death to the Republicans." and more: bq. Am I saying that critics of the war aren't patriotic? Not at all--I'm a critic of some aspects of the war. What I'm saying is that those who try to paint the bleakest, most anti-American, and most anti-Bush picture of the war, whose purpose is not criticism but deception in order to gain temporary political advantage, those people are indeed not patriotic. They have placed their own or their party's political gain ahead of the national struggle to destroy the power base of the terrorists who attacked Americans abroad and on American soil. bq. Patriots place their loyalty to their country in time of war ahead of their personal and party ambitions. And they can wrap themselves in the flag and say they "support our troops" all they like--but it doesn't change the fact that their program is to promote our defeat at the hands of our enemies for their temporary political advantage. bq. Think what it will mean if we elect a Democratic candidate who has committed himself to an antiwar posture in order to get his party's nomination. bq. Our enemies will be certain that they are winning the war on the battleground that matters--American public opinion. So they will continue to kill Americans wherever and whenever they can, because it works. bq. Our soldiers will lose heart, because they will know that their commander in chief is a man who is not committed to winning the war they have risked death in order to fight. When the commander in chief is willing to call victory defeat in order to win an election, his soldiers can only assume that their lives will be thrown away for nothing. That's when an army, filled with despair, becomes beatable even by inferior forces. Excellent stuff - Orson Scott Card is well known for his Science Fiction books, he is also quite the essayst...

Gimli speaks...

found first on Little Green Footballs who hat tips Mark Cameron who found it on the Decent Films website where John Rhys-Davies (Gimli and who voices Treebeard) said: (I am quoting this in full because it deserves to be widespread.) bq. Gimli raises axe for Western civilization bq. Perhaps the most passionate observations came from John Rhys-Davies, who plays the dwarf Gimli and voices Treebeard the Ent. Focusing on the necessity of defending civilization in times of crisis, Rhys-Davies took the media to task for failing to appreciate the preciousness of Western civilization, and warned of the potential consequences of rising Muslim extremism and the increasingly Islamic face of Europe. bq. "I think that Tolkien says that some generations will be challenged," said Rhys-Davies, "and if they do not rise to meet that challenge, they will lose their civilization. That does have a real resonance with me." bq. Pointing a finger at the media, Rhys-Davies went on, "What is unconscionable is that too many of your fellow journalists do not understand how precarious Western civilization is, and what a jewel it is --- the abolition of slavery comes from Western democracy. True democracy comes from our Greco-Judeo-Christian Western experience. If we lose these things, then this is a catastrophe for the world." bq. Rhys-Davies revealed that as far back as 1955 his father had predicted that "the next World War will be between Islam and the West." The actor recalled his response: "I said to him, �Dad, you�re nuts! The Crusades have been over for hundreds of years!� And he said, �Well, I know, but militant Islam is on the rise again. And you will see it in your lifetime.� He�s been dead some years now. But there�s not a day that goes by that I don�t think of him and think, �God, I wish you were here, just so I could tell you that you were right." bq. Looking at the lone female journalist at the table, Rhys-Davies said pointedly, "You should not be in this room [according to Muslim custom]. Because your husband or your father or your husband is not here to guide you. You could only be here in this room with these strange men for immoral purposes." bq. Rhys-Davies went on to contemplate the significance of demographic shifts among Western Europeans and Muslims in Europe. "There is a demographic catastrophe happening in Europe that nobody wants to talk about, that we daren�t bring up because we are so cagey about not offending people racially. And rightly we should be. But there is a cultural thing as well... By 2020, fifty percent of the children in Holland under the age of 18 will be of Muslim descent." bq. "And don�t forget, coupled with this there is this collapse of numbers. Western Europeans are not having any babies. The population of Germany at the end of the century is going to be 56% of what it is now. The populations of France, 52% of what it is now. The population of Italy is going to be down 7 million people." bq. "There is a change happening in the very complexion of Western civilization in Europe that we should think about at least and argue about. If it just means the replacement of one genetic stock with another genetic stock, that doesn�t matter too much. But if it involves the replacement of Western civilization with a different civilization with different cultural values, then it is something we really ought to discuss -- because, [hang it all], I am for dead-white-male culture!" bq. His fellow filmmakers might not all agree, but Tolkien would have applauded.

My Brain Hurts just thinking about it...

from Adrian Belew's website: bq. december 10, 2003 NEW CAPTAIN'S LOG: WHO'S THAT ON GUITAR? Wednesday evening (December 10), Adrian and Kegineer Latchney ventured off to a recording studio on Nashville's infamous Music Row to jam with the likes of Ben Folds, Henry Rollins, Matt (drummer for Tori Amos and Fiona Apple - to name two) Chamberlain, and John (Flemming & John) Painter. Why? They're putting together the next William Shatner record. Seriously. Adrian was asked to play on it and as a fan of star trek, was honored to do so. More on this as it develops. End transmission. WTF?!?!?!? Adrian is an amazing guitar player - a true mage. Shatner? Yes yes yes, of course I will be getting it, I'm just asking WHY

Cool resolution to Strom Thurmond's daughter...

I had written about this earler here From WIS-TV's website bq. The family of the late US Senator Strom Thurmond on Monday issued a statement saying the family "acknowledges" a claim made by a retired mixed-race Los Angeles schoolteacher. bq. The statement says the family hopes the acknowledgement will bring closure for Essie Mae Washington-Williams, the 78-year-old who has long been rumored to have been Thurmond's daughter. bq. As J. Strom Thurmond has passed away and cannot speak for himself, the Thurmond family acknowledges Ms. Essie Mae Washington-Williams� claim to her heritage. bq. We hope this acknowledgment will bring closure for Ms. Williams. bq. J. Mark Taylor, an attorney handling the Thurmond estate, confirmed he was speaking for the Thurmond family, but would not give more information. He would not answer whether the family was in fact verifying Williams' claims. The Thurmond family has class - the really really good kind of class... Major props to them.

nice finish to Stranded Aviator story

earlier I wrote about the Australian adventurer who flew his home-built airplane over the South Pole. High winds made him use more fuel than planned to he had to ditch at McMurdo. Neither NZ nore the USA were willing to sell him the gas to get home, they were happy to ship his plane backl at cost and get him a flight home but no gas... This was resolved (Yahoo/AP) bq. WELLINGTON, New Zealand - An Australian who became the first pilot to fly solo over the South Pole in a homemade plane flew back to New Zealand after being stranded on the ice for six days without fuel. bq. Jon Johanson from Adelaide, Australia refueled his single-engined plane with supplies donated by a British aviator who had abandoned a separate around-the-world attempt to fly over both the North and South Poles. bq. Johanson took off from the U.S. McMurdo base ice runway on the South Pole just before 2:00 a.m. Monday and touched down at Invercargill on the southern tip of New Zealand at about 2:55 p.m. Monday. bq. "He's safely landed and he's just going through the border control checks," Invercargill Airport operations manager Eric Forsyth said. bq. His safe return ended a frosty episode in relations between Australia and its two closest allies, the United States and New Zealand, who had refused to refuel Johanson's plane. more: bq. Some Antarctic research stations have a policy of not selling fuel to adventurers, largely because they don't want to encourage poorly planned expeditions. Authorities at the base also said they didn't have the right type of fuel for Johanson's plane. bq. Relief came Friday when Polly Vacher, a British pilot, offered to give Johanson her spare fuel stored at the base. Polly has quite the story to tell herself - check out her website here She is planning to bring her plane to Seattle, WA July 6th through 9th 2004. Quite the operation...
from Drudge Report bq. Frustrated with the lack of domestic support, left-leaning website has apparently been reaching beyond American borders to generate cash revenue over the internet! bq. The provocative international fundraising strategy threatens to embroil the presidential candidacies of General Wesley Clark and former Vermont Governor Howard Dean. Both men are named on international fundraising websites suggesting donations to The issue here is that it is illegal for any US Presidential cantidate to accept funds from a non-US source but Clark and Dean have accepted funds from MoveOn and if MoveOn accepted non-US funds, this could be sticky...

City looses Tax bills but not late notices

from the Philidelphia TV station WPVI bq. The city sent late notices to thousands of residents who never got their tax bills in the first place. bq. About 15,000 per-capita tax bills were lost early this year, but the city nevertheless sent late notices to about 12,000 residents, many of whom then flooded City Hall with complaints. To quote that great sage and Philosopher Homer J. SImpson, "DOH!"

Dumb Criminal

from the Macon Telegraph bq. Man shot while allegedly robbing Waffle House bq. DECATUR, Ga. - A man was shot several times while allegedly trying to rob a Waffle House in this Atlanta suburb Monday, police said. bq. Witnesses said the man, who has not been identified, entered the restaurant around 9 a.m., holding a semiautomatic handgun, and told everyone inside to get on the floor. bq. As he moved to the cash register, an off-duty Morehouse College police officer, who was one of the customers, identified himself and ordered the suspect to drop his gun. The suspect then pointed his weapon at the officer and the officer shot him several times, according to the police report Gee - how much money was the guy expecting to get anyway? Not like the Waffle House is a cash-rich environment...

World's Largest Book

from FOX News bq. MIT Scientist Pens World's Largest Book by Far bq. Monday, December 15, 2003 bq. CAMBRIDGE, Mass. � A 133-pound tome about the Asian country of Bhutan (search) that uses enough paper to cover a football field and a gallon of ink has been declared the world's largest published book. bq. Author Michael Hawley, a scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (search), said it's not a book to curl up with at bedtime � "unless you plan to sleep on it." bq. Each copy of "Bhutan: A Visual Odyssey Across the Kingdom," is 5-by-7 feet, 112 pages and costs about $2,000 to produce. Hawley is charging $10,000 to be donated to a charity he founded, Friendly Planet, which has built schools in Cambodia and Bhutan. Interesting - a book that is 5' by 7' in size... The entire article is posted below - click on the "Continue Reading" link to view...

New Military blog

just ran into Acquire, Identify, Engage written by Mark R. Lewis. He blogs a lot about Military actions and internal affairs - good analysis. Check it out...
from Wired bq. Robolympics founder David Calkins was surprised when he opened a letter from the United States Olympic Committee demanding his group stop using the word "olympic" to describe a robotics competition. bq. The letter from USOC assistant general counsel Kelly Maynard was dated Nov. 20, 2003 -- shortly after Calkins had filed papers to register the name as a trademark for the robot event. bq. "The last time I checked, the USOC wasn't hosting robot sumo events," said Calkins. "Common sense dictates that no one would confuse a 6-pound hunk of steel and plastic with Picabo Street, nor would this dilute her image or in any way disrespect her accomplishments. Get a life guys... Sheesh

light blogging today

Work is interfering...

more - Iraqi Tribunal for Saddam

from the StrategyPage bq. It is fortuitous that last week Iraq�s Governing Council announced its intention to create a war crimes tribunal. Several members of the council want public and open trials, preferably televised trials that demonstrate the thoroughness and fairness of the criminal investigations as well as the depravity of the crimes. bq. Unfortunately the usual defeatists in the US and Europe sneered and dismissed the proposal, but former Saddamite sidekick Tariq Aziz took that announcement seriously. One report has Aziz hiring French attorney Jacques Verges, who defended the Nazi Gestapo chief Klaus Barbie and the Marxist terrorist, Carlos. bq. Saddam should ask Verges for his card. (emphasis mine) Sheesh!

wonderful statement from Joe Lieberman

from his website here: bq. ARLINGTON, VA -- Joe Lieberman issued the following statement in response to the capture of Saddam Hussein: bq. "Hallelujah, praise the Lord. This is something that I have been advocating and praying for for more than twelve years, since the Gulf War of 1991. Saddam Hussein was a homicidal maniac, a brutal dictator, who wanted to dominate the Arab world and was supporting terrorists. bq. He caused the death of more than a million people, including 460 Americans who went to overthrow him. This is a day of glory for the American military, a day of rejoicing for the Iraqi people, and a day of triumph and joy for anyone in the world who cares about freedom, human rights, and peace. and more bq. If Howard Dean had his way, Saddam Hussein would still be in power today, not in prison, and the world would be a more dangerous place. Ow! :-P

Couple more items regarding Saddam's arrest...

nice article in Time about the preliminary questioning: bq. After his capture, Saddam was taken to a holding cell at the Baghdad Airport. He didn�t answer any of the initial questions directly, the official said, and at times seemed less than fully coherent. The transcript was full of �Saddam rhetoric type stuff,� said the official who paraphrased Saddam�s answers to some of the questions. When asked �How are you?� said the official, Saddam responded, �I am sad because my people are in bondage.� When offered a glass of water by his interrogators, Saddam replied, �If I drink water I will have to go to the bathroom and how can I use the bathroom when my people are in bondage?� bq. Along with the $750,000 in cash, two AK 47 machine guns and pistol found with Saddam, the U.S. intelligence official confirmed that operatives found a briefcase with Saddam that contained a letter from a Baghdad resistance leader. Contained in the message, the official said, were the minutes from a meeting of a number of resistance leaders who came together in the capital. The official said the names found on this piece of paper will be valuable and could lead to the capture of insurgency leaders around the Sunni Triangle. the capture is covered at Yahoo/AP: bq. Then they spotted two men running away from a small walled compound in the trees. Inside, in front of a mud-brick hut, the troops pulled back a carpet on the ground, cleared away the dirt and revealed a Styrofoam panel. Underneath, a hole led to a tiny chamber, just big enough for a single person to squeeze into. bq. At first they didn't recognize the man hiding inside, with his ratty hair, wild beard and a pistol cradled in his lap. But when they asked who he was, the bewildered-looking man gave a shocking answer. bq. He said he was Saddam Hussein. more - one Soldier talking about the room he was captured in: bq. "We didn't stay there long. It smelled really bad."

Got him!

Saddam has been captured! From ABC News: bq. Saddam Hussein, trapped in a cellar, dug a hole and buried himself as U.S. soldiers moved into the house where he was hiding, an Iraqi official said Sunday. bq. "The American soldiers had to use shovels to dig him out," Entifadh Qanbar, spokesman for Governing Council member Ahmad Chalabi, told The Associated Press. Pictures: saddam-1.jpg saddam-2.jpg saddam-3.jpg He will probably end up coming before the new Iraqi Tribunal which was formed a few days ago. Amnesty International has issued the following condemnation of the Tribunal: "We are particularly concerned that the Iraqi Penal Code provides for the death penalty for crimes under the jurisdiction of the tribunal."

whoopsie... Strom Thurmond's bastard daughter

from the Washington Post Thurmond was not exactly a friend of the blacks when he was in office and now it seems that he had a bit of fling with a 16-year-old black maid in his home. The offspring that resulted -- Essie Mae Washington-Williams -- is not seeking part of Thurmand's estate but is seeking recognition and closure. This raises the flag of credibility to me. A couple of quotes from the article: bq. A 78-year-old retired Los Angeles schoolteacher said she is breaking a lifetime of silence to announce that she is the illegitimate mixed-race daughter of former U.S. senator James Strom Thurmond (R-S.C.), once the nation's leading segregationist. In an interview, the woman said that Thurmond privately acknowledged her as his daughter and provided financial support since 1941. bq. A 78-year-old retired Los Angeles schoolteacher said she is breaking a lifetime of silence to announce that she is the illegitimate mixed-race daughter of former U.S. senator James Strom Thurmond (R-S.C.), once the nation's leading segregationist. In an interview, the woman said that Thurmond privately acknowledged her as his daughter and provided financial support since 1941. another bq. Williams, whose mother worked as a maid in the Thurmond family home as a teenager, has long been the subject of widespread speculation and has been pursued by journalists seeking her story for two decades. She always denied that she is Thurmond's daughter. bq. "I want to bring closure to this," said Williams, who plans to hold a news conference Wednesday in Columbia, S.C. "It is a part of history." and a few more: bq. In 1972, the senator exploded in anger when an Edgefield newspaper editor and longtime enemy, W.W. Mims, printed a front-page headline that Thurmond had sired "colored offspring." The headline offered no supporting evidence, and Thurmond called it "too scandalous" to warrant comment. bq. By the early 1990s, Thurmond's staff conceded to a Penthouse magazine writer that the senator had frequent visits in Washington from his friend "Essie Williams." It was the first time her name had appeared in print in connection with Thurmond. The magazine described her as Thurmond's alleged black daughter. bq. The Post article in 1992 cited a brief letter Williams sent Thurmond in Oct. 31, 1947, acknowledging receipt of a loan. A second letter from Williams to Thurmond on June 29, 1950, contained a request for $75. The letters were discovered buried among thousands of pages of documents in Thurmond's gubernatorial papers archived at the University of South Carolina. This is cool - the Thurmond attorneys are being professional #$#@s but I would like to see a recognition of this womans place in the Thurmond family -- just to tweak them off a bit. Sanctimonious pinheads. (and that is insulting a lot of wonderful pinheads!)

Hillary Clinton website...

not the website you might think though... This is one with the idea "Should Hillary Rodham Clinton Be Elected to US Senate?" It is an older site but the various quotes and links make it worth spending some time on now that Hillary seems to be gaining traction in the Democratic party. It is hosted by Tripod (a free webhosting service) and they make their money by pop-up advertising. A quick trip to PanicWare for a copy of their FREE version of Popup-Stopper will fix this (or get the free Google toolbar) Anyway, on to the site... It is here I'm not going to quote all of it but the headings are: bq. Hillary with Criminals and other questionable people. Does Hillary Clinton Love NY? How many of your closest friends are convicted criminals? Criminal List Details of Hillary Clinton's Health Care Plan . The Travel Office Firings Quotes of other Democrats and Liberals about Hillary Clinton. The "We" List. Hillary Clinton and the Truth. The First Ladies view on the funding of art. Art Funding Who will pay for these great ideas Who Will Pay? Bill and Hillary hope to adopt child. Adoption Talk Hillary's track record in Arkansas schools. Arkansas Education Record Living by Example Living By Example Examples of Character Worth spending some time on... Tripod sometimes limits access to a site if too many people have visited in a specific time - they want the owner to upgrade to the fee-based version. If you get an error message, try again in a couple hours. This one is worth it...
in the Mercury: bq. As tensions between China and Taiwan escalate to their highest pitch in years, Silicon Valley executives who operate in both countries are nervous but believe that in the end, money, not missiles, will rule. bq. Valley companies now rely much more heavily on Asia for product design, manufacturing and markets than ever before. But that means they also have more to risk by China's verbal fire, triggered by what it perceives as Taiwan's attempts to inch closer to independence from the mainland. bq. And this time, the rhetoric is particularly fierce. Chinese generals were quoted as warning that Taipei was on the "abyss of war.'" bq. "That's a notch up from the annual war games that have been going on forever," said Brian Halla, president and chief executive of National Semiconductor in Santa Clara. His company, which has a chip design center in Taiwan, is opening a testing and assembly plant in Suzhou, China, in the spring. "It's a bit worrisome.'" Again, China really doesn't want to nuke the place, they are looking across the straits and seeing a very cash-rich vibrant economy and a whole lot 'o technological savy driving it. They want it for their own. Still, if some die-hard communist thug with an elevated military position makes the wrong decision, this could be bad for Taiwan and bad for Chine too - there is a good chance for all of thier size that they would loose badly. Their army is huge but most of it is used to grow food. Their equipment is bad and their training is based on the old Soviet army models - look how well this served the Baathists in Iraq - they had the same training and organization and they rolled over and died. I think that China is also gambling that we are focussed entirely on Iraq and don't have any spare forces sitting around to help Taiwan if she would need it. I don't have any numbers in front of me but I do not think that this is a correct estimate and if China starts something, she will be badly surprised...

Belmont Club blog

The Belmont Club is rapidly becoming on of the places I visit every day. His post today regarding military service is an excellent one --- tow paragraphs: bq. Military service was so universal during World War 2 that any child growing up in the 1950s could expect an answer. Yet it was always a little like asking "daddy, how much money did you make?" because the response served as a reliable indicator of status in a societies whose networks were largely a continuation of bonds forged during the global conflict. It made a difference whether one had been a Jedburgh or a supply clerk in Pittsburgh. Joseph Kennedy understood that no one who stood apart from the universal experience of a generation cope hope to succeed in politics and urged his sons into the service. bq. The question will be asked again by children ten years hence, this time in the context of the War on Terror. Unlike the Vietnam War, it is the first since World War 2 that has swept up an entire generation. From lower Manhattan to the smallest town in America there is hardly anyone that does not have or know someone personally touched by the war. But it has swept them up differentially. The anti-war legacy which effectively shut the ROTC out of Ivy League campuses will mean that for the first time since the Civil War the best answer that many university graduates will be able to give is "I marched with International Answer" or "I blogged while at Oxford". And while neither answer is dishonorable, it will be an admission of exclusion from a central experience in American life.

Blogs - Iraq - The Thunder Run

Sometimes blogging runs you into interesting spaces... I was visiting Sgt. Stryker and saw a link to Joe Katzman Really wonderful article on the invasion of Bagdhad. Five million people taken over by less than 1,000 coalition soldiers. This is in the LA Times and it does require registration but you can use (and read it) laexaminer for the login name and laexaminer as the password... bq. byline: Joe Katzman bq. On the afternoon of April 4, Army Lt. Col. Eric Schwartz was summoned to a command tent pitched in a dusty field 11 miles south of Baghdad. His brigade commander, Col. David Perkins, looked up from a map and told Schwartz he had a mission for him. bq. "At first light tomorrow," Perkins said, "I want you to attack into Baghdad." bq. Schwartz felt disoriented. He had just spent several hours in a tank, leading his armored battalion on an operation that had destroyed dozens of Iraqi tanks and armored vehicles 20 miles south. A hot shard of exploding tank had burned a hole in his shoulder. bq. "Are you kidding, sir?" Schwartz asked, as he waited for the other officers inside the tent to laugh. bq. There was silence. More below...

New Photo Printer

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serious drool factor - a review by Luminous Landscape of the new Epson 4000 printer: bq. Goldilocks � Just The Right Size With the introduction of the SP4000 Epson has filled a gap in its product line and has created a printer that will answer the needs of many commercial and fine-art photographers for whom the 2100/2200 was a bit too small, and for whom the larger models were possibly too large. Also, as will be seen, the 4000 has significant advantages in both speed and ink costs. bq. Godzilla � Big & Fast This is the godzilla of desktop printers. Weighing it at nearly 85lb, it is more than 33 inches wide, 14 inches wide and 30 inches deep. It will fit on a desk, though a very large and sturdy desk. bq. Anyone who has done high volume printing with an Epson 2100/2200 printer knows that the ink costs are a killer. Even when bought from a discounter, in quantity, the cost per milliliter is high, and when doing a large print run I have found that I have to replace various cartridges as many as a half dozen times a day. bq. The ink cartridges that can be used on the 4000 are the largest that Epson makes � 220 ml, (the cartridges are the same as those used in the 7600 and 9600 printers), and so the cost per ml and the frequency of charges needed will be dramatically reduced. (110ml cartridges may also be used). bq. Speed is the 4000's other advantage. According to Epson it is approximately twice as fast as any previous Stylus Color printer, and specifically the larger model 7600. According to Epson the 4000 produces prints of slightly higher quality than the 7600, due as well to its new 3.5 picoliter head technology. Looks really good. The cost is about $1,700 but this includes eight 220ml ink cartridges which sell for $112 - an $896 value. 75% faster too

wonderful writing on perverse joys

Today's entry at Belmont Club is very thoughtful (they are thinkers, not linkers): They link to an essay in The American Digest titled: bq. The Subconscious Yearning for American Defeat bq. The American Digest has an article on perverse joys. The first, the nostalgie pour la boue, is a longing for the gutter, a "compulsion that comes over people when they have, for complex reasons, a need to immerse themselves in self-degradation. It's usually a mix of drink, drugs, and weird sex until the soul is obliterated by the abused flesh". It is the pastime of celebrity and the author, Gerard Van der Leun, wonders whether it is not related to an impulse in the media elite, for the nostalgie pour la d�faite. bq.
"Nostalgie pour la d�faite is that state of the soul when an American, who either came of age in the Vietnam era, or who was taught and mentored by a leftist or liberal of that vintage, yearns for the defeat of America. This state is then seen as confirmation that his or her world view and social milieu is the right view and right milieu. To operate otherwise would throw not only all the professional views and actions of the last thirty years into question, but the entire structure of the afflicted personality as well."
from University of California / San Francisco Gotta love the name of the clinic that did the work... bq. Scientists at UCSF's Ernest Gallo Clinic and Research Center have identified a single brain protein that can account for most of the intoxicating effects of alcohol. The finding pinpoints perhaps the best target yet for a drug to block alcohol's effect and potentially treat alcoholism, the scientists say. bq. The mechanisms by which alcohol acts on the brain are thought to be similar throughout the animal kingdom, since species from worms and fruit flies to mice and humans all become intoxicated at similar alcohol concentrations. But although studies have identified a number of genes that can partially influence how alcohol affects behavior, this is the first finding that a single gene and the brain protein it codes for --known as an ion channel -- are responsible for the intoxicating effects of alcohol in a living organism, according to the researchers. They are talking about finding a way to block this. Hell - lets find the way to trigger it and put it in ice cream, the water supply, even beer... Heh...

Life in Canada

an editorial in the Seattle Times from an ex-pat Canadian living here: bq. My husband and I left Canada six years ago to start a new life in the United States. Tens of thousands of university-educated, middle-class Canadians leave Canada for the U.S. every year. The Canadian government even has a name for us � "The Brain Drain." bq. Why do we leave? bq. Taxes � Ever wonder why you see so many rusty cars up north? It's not just because they salt the roads in the wintertime. People can't afford new ones. bq. Fifty percent of the Canadian paycheck goes to taxes. And, in Ontario, for example, there's a 15-percent tax at the cash register. Think about paying that every time you buy a car, a fridge or clothes. The Canadian middle class has almost been taxed out of existence. she goes on: bq. Salaries are much lower than in the U.S. When we moved to the U.S., my husband almost tripled his salary. bq. Our standard of living is beyond what we could have ever achieved in a lifetime living in Canada. Our relatives can't believe how well average, middle-class Americans live. Our son, who has a learning disability, is getting the best education ever in an American public school. and more: bq. Health care � Speaking of doctors, every Canadian has experienced or knows of a family member who has a nightmare health-care story. It may be free but that doesn't mean it's good. bq. Hospitals are miserable. There are long waiting lists for the most basic treatments and operations. When we went to an American hospital, it was like entering a five-star hotel. I hear Americans complain about the cost of medical bills but I would rather my child be alive and have a bill to pay than to be dead at no charge. Interesting look across the border...

clear thinking at the Democratic Underground

there is an open forum located at and some of their posts make for fun reading. The one here is a great spin on the economic recovery happening in the last couple months: bq. F*CK! bq. Please folks, don't start that "We should be happy for people...They are seeing nice gains in their 401k's..yadda yadda" Bottom line, this will HELP BUSH! bq. I took a look at my IRA today and see it sitting at a three year high. I admit, for a moment, I felt a moment of glee, then I remembered who this is REALLY helping, big corporations, Bush's supporters, and the sheep who think he really did anything to boost the economy. bq. Like it or not, people vote with their pocketbooks and when they see these big gains, they will be happy. Couple this with the bigger than ever tax refund checks people we getting (Thanks in no small part to the politically motivated tactic of reducing tax brackets across the board in JULY, and making the bill retroactive, so the first 7 months of overpaid taxes will be INCLUDED in your tax addition to the doubled child credit and marriage penalty GOD...I know most of tax cuts help the rich, but this shit really will help middle America with larger refunds. ALSO, since Dubya dropped the steel tariffs, the price of nearly everything with metal in it will be DROPPING over the next few months...meaning more spending...more demand...more products sold...more corporate revenue...more jobs needed...We need to admit this and prepare for it. bq. The people are going to be happy. They like their tax reductions. They like cheap prices on stuff. They like their 401k's being up 40% this year. bq. If the economy keeps this pace, unemployment will likely be down to 5.5% by next November and we better have a damn good argument against Bush's policies. Is there any way we can take credit for helping the economy? We certainly are going to need an argument for this next year. Heh...

more on Mugabe and the Internet

this one from The Register: Wonderful quote from Desmond Tutu: bq. It's natural, then, that Mugabe would finger IT as a tool of colonial bogeymen. In fact, the anti-white card is the only one he has left to play. Having reduced Zimbabwe to destitution, he now hopes to save his skin through rekindling the revolutionary fervour of his youth. Then, he was a hero for his struggle against the British. Now, as Archbishop Desmond Tutu puts it, he is "becoming a cartoon figure of the archetypal African dictator".

good article on MMR vacinations and Autism

from Spiked Online: bq. In not a single child has it been established that MMR played a role in causing autism bq. Being the parent of autistic child - as I am - qualifies you to speak authoritatively on the experience of being the parent of an autistic child. It does not give you any privileged insight into the aetiology, epidemiology or any other aspect of the condition. Yet Mrs Kessick and other parents are ready to make public statements on matters that are well beyond their sphere of competence in a way that is likely to undermine public confidence in immunisation policy. As I commented in the studio discussion, the fact that as parents, we have experienced the tragedy of autism in our families, does not give us a license to promote a scare that may have the consequence of visiting similar tragedies on other families. The vaccine is given (for Mumps Measels and Rubella) right around the same age as symptoms for Autism will manifest so there is potential for someone to see a like between the two. The "controversy" arrose when one Doctor published one paper in 1998 outlining 12 case histories.

Cool Tools

for dogs and sledding and outdoors stuff - Black Ice
from TV station KGET: bq. It all surrounds a patrol car, which carried a message some found offensive. The car decal said, "We'll Kick Your Ass". bq. It is the kind of stunt that could have quickly been put to rest. bq. Instead it has prompted a flood of editorial letters to the Bakersfield Californian with mixed reviews on what the sticker said. bq. There is still plenty of controversy over how the sheriff handled it. bq. It is not the act that gets you in trouble, but whether or not it is a cover-up. bq. There may or may not be a cover-up in this case, but there are a lot of different versions of what really went down, who gave the order, and why it happened in the first place. bq. On September 26, 2003 KGET 17 received an email containing a picture of a Kern County Sheriff's patrol car with an official looking sticker on the side reading... "We'll Kick Your Ass". Hotbed of PC people in Bakersfield... It's a joke people.
from Orlando TV station WKMG (Local-6) bq. An infection caused by "flesh-eating" bacteria has killed the chairwoman of the state Board of Mediation and Arbitration. bq. Robin Miller, 52, of Stonington, died Wednesday at Hartford Hospital from a virulent bacterial infection known medically as necrotizing fasciitis. bq. Miller also was chairwoman of the state Department of Administrative Services' Employee Review Board and the Republican registrar of voters in Stonington. bq. Stonington First Selectman Peter Dibble notified state health officials as the sudden nature of Miller's illness and death led to rumors and concerns by town hall employees. Miller became ill late Friday. bq. "Because the onset of Robin's illness was so rapid it raised some level of concern," Dibble said. "I felt it was important to do what we could to ease whatever concerns they had." bq. Two epidemiologists from the state Department of Public Health spoke to town employees and answered their questions Thursday. They explained that the illness that killed Miller is rare and extremely difficult to contract. It is caused by the same bacteria that typically results in nothing more serious than a sore throat or skin rash. bq. "It's still a very rare disease," said Dr. Matthew Cartter, the epidemiology program coordinator for the state health department. "There have never been any reports of it being spread in a school or work setting." more on necrotizing fasciitis: bq. Necrotizing fasciitis is caused by bacteria from Group A Streptococcus, or GAS, according to the Public Health Department and the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. bq. The bacteria are commonly found in the throat and on the skin, and most infections cause relatively mild problems such as strep throat and impetigo. Many people who carry the bacteria have no symptoms of disease. bq. Occasionally, however, the bacteria cause serious and sometimes life-threatening diseases such as necrotizing fasciitis and Streptococcal Toxic Shock Syndrome, which are known as invasive GAS disease. bq. It is estimated that 10,000 to 15,000 cases of invasive GAS disease occur in the United States each year, resulting in roughly 2,000 to 3,000 deaths, according to the CDC. bq. Necrotizing fasciitis is a destructive infection of muscle and fat tissue. Between 500 and 700 people a year contract necrotizing bacteria nationwide and about 20 percent of them die, according to state and federal health officials. Three to 10 cases a year occur in Connecticut, according to Cartter. It is frequently found in water runoff from animal feedlots - cattle and hogs...
from the NY Times: bq. At a meeting of the American Geophysical Union here on Thursday, scientists presented research investigating the cause of the decline, its possible effects on the planet and what might be learned from geological records of earlier reversals. bq. The decline, as measured by magnetometers on Earth's surface, is 10 percent in the last 150 years. "We're seeing it's actually decreasing at a fairly impressive rate," said Dr. John A. Tarduno, a professor of geophysics at the University of Rochester. bq. Still, long-term changes in the magnetic field are normal, and the scientists said the magnetic field could just as easily strengthen again. bq. Most scientists think that Earth's magnetic field is produced by electric current generated by chaotic eddies in the molten iron of Earth's outer core and that random changes in the eddies cause the reversals. bq. The magnetic field last flipped 780,000 years ago, but the time between reversals has varied from a few thousand years to 35 million years. Time to get out the felt-tip markers and relabel your compasses... :)

Victor Davis Hanson

it's Friday and time for another excellent essay from Victor Davis Hanson: bq. There are plenty of third-world revolutionaries today, but very few who wave the hammer and sickle. Again, it is not that mankind ceased being na�ve or duped, and woke up to the absurdities of Marxism and the mass murder that typically followed its implementation. Rather, very few wished to be associated with a losing ideology that offered no arms, patrons, or money � but a lot of misery, humiliation, and ridicule. bq. This war against the Islamofascists and autocrats of the Middle East is no different. Do not be cowered by their sick videos, the bombs with rat poison and screws, or the promise of a new Dark Age run by the likes of bin Laden. If we are now dismayed by Islamist terrorists from Turkey to Indonesia, and from the West Bank to the Sunni Triangle, it doesn't mean it will always � or even for long � be so, given our increasing success and the unchanging nature of mankind that values power over principles, often quite tragically so. bq. Such a cynical assessment need not mean that we must deprecate the power of ideas, or must subscribe to such an amoral creed ourselves; but rather that we must not be na�ve when we discover new allies who admire us for our strength and military prowess rather than our ideals and values. The reason that states are not rushing to install imams as rulers or open their borders to al Qaeda training camps is not that they like democracy, but rather that they are just now beginning to fear the dire consequences of such action. bq. Our enemies instead are now reeling � if ever so insidiously. They have lost the free use of Afghanistan. Saddam's Baathists are little more than criminals and thugs in hideouts � soon to follow the fate of Saddam's progeny, statues, and "Hammurabi Division." Gone are Iraqi subsidies for suicide murderers, help for al Qaeda, and the stockpiling of huge caches of imported weaponry. bq. Indeed, Iraq has been trisected, with oil-rich Kurdistan and the Shiite south stabilizing, as the murderers operating in the Sunni Triangle are now isolated and in the cross-hairs of some pretty dangerous folk. Their desperate gambit to murder Italians, Spaniards, UN personnel, and other Iraqis has backfired � and has only solidified the world's consensus that such killers deserve and will receive no quarter. It will take years to assess properly all the positive benefits that have accrued from the demise of Saddam Hussein � precisely because the full extent of his evil will take just as long to explore fully. bq. Whatever the legitimate grievances of the Chechens, their resort to suicide murdering and Islamic fundamentalism was a terrible mistake, since they cannot defeat Russia once it is mobilized and given a pass from an exasperated West. Whatever the horror of Hamas and its associated barbaric cabals, neither can such killers overwhelm a democratic Israel � thanks to Mr. Sharon, who for all the slurs and invective against him has proven that the IDF is both the more competent and most humane security force. Indeed, the West Bank terrorist gangs are ever so slowly, in their cruelty and barbarism, losing even some support among the Europeans � a hard thing to do, given Europeans' historical anti-Semitism, concern for oil, fear of terror, and eagerness to triangulate against the United States. Excellent stuff as always...
from Yahoo/Reuters bq. Virginia authorities said on Thursday they had arrested and charged a North Carolina man for sending "spam" e-mail in the first use of a new state law that could bring penalties of up to 20 years in prison. bq. Virginia Attorney General Jerry Kilgore said Jeremy Jaynes had been arrested earlier Thursday in Raleigh, N.C., on four counts of using fraudulent means to transmit spam. bq. Kilgore told a news conference that officials were in negotiations for the surrender of a second man, Richard Rutowski, on the same charges. bq. Jaynes was charged with violating limits on the number of messages a marketer can send and falsifying routing information, both illegal under the Virginia law that carries penalties of 1-5 years in prison on each count. bq. Although based in North Carolina, Virginia is asserting jurisdiction over Jaynes because he sent messages through computers located in the state. Good to see the state governments starting to crack down on these trolls... Although the majority of the spams themselves originate from computers outside the USA, the advertisements are for products sold by people in the USA and they are the ones responsible for initiating the bulk mailing. They need to be taught a very expensive lesson for this to go away.

Mysterious Javanese Coins Found in London Mud

from Yahoo/Reuters bq. A bundle of 17th century coins from Java, Indonesia, has been found buried in mud on the banks of London's River Thames. bq. The 90 copper alloy coins are pierced with hexagonal holes and inscribed in Arabic with the words "Pangeran Ratou ing Bantan" (Lord King at Bantam)," according to experts at the London museum where they will be displayed. bq. Bantam, also spelled Bantan, was an important trading post in the East Indies in an age when the British and Dutch were competing for monopoly of the valuable spice trade. bq. These are the first Javanese coins ever found in Britain, the museum said in a statement. bq. "How they got to London remains a mystery," it added. "Even in the 17th century they would have had no value in London. bq. "One possibility is that a merchant dropped them overboard from an East Indiaman (ship) moored in the Thames when he found they were worthless. bq. "Another is that they were being imported as curios for one of the many collectors keen to acquire interesting objects from the farthest corners of the earth."


from CNN/Netscape/AP news: bq. A grumpy customer was the source of luck for Loretta Morris who works at the Northville Market. bq. "We have a policy in our store to ask for a driver's license when someone buys lottery tickets, cigarettes or alcohol," Morris said Tuesday. bq. But one customer last Tuesday decided not to produce a picture ID to purchase a $5 Silver Bells scratch-off Connecticut state lottery ticket. bq. Morris said the customer told her to ``stick the ticket,'' when she asked for proof he was 18. bq. At the end of her shift she decided to just buy the ticket instead of putting it back and having a loose ticket in the store. bq. She took the ticket home where she scratched the ticket, which had three chances to win. bq. Morris had almost given up when the little scratch-off wrapped present and the Christmas tree didn't yield prizes, but the third little scratch-off box made her an instant winner. bq. On Friday, she and her husband traveled an hour to New Britain's lottery office and returned with a check for $17,501 after federal and state taxes. Heh...
from Yahoo bq. Revising its year-end economic forecast sharply upward, The Conference Board today projected that real GDP growth will hit 5.7% next year, making 2004 the best year economically in the last 20 years. bq. The forecast, by Conference Board Chief Economist Gail Fosler, expects worker productivity, which set a 20-year record in the third quarter, to rise at a healthy 3.6% next year. That would follow a gain of 4.3% this year. bq. The economic forecast is prepared for more than 2,500 corporate members of The Conference Board's global business network, based in 66 nations. Interesting... Thought we were supposed to be having a recession here.

Canada's Barren Lands archive

facinating online resource from University of Toronto Library system: bq. This site documents two exploratory surveys of the Barren Lands region west of Hudson Bay, in northern Manitoba and Saskatchewan and the area now known as Nunavut. Drawing on materials from the J.B. Tyrrell, James Tyrrell and related collections at the Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library, University of Toronto, it includes over 5,000 images from original field notebooks, correspondence, photographs, maps and published reports.

Toys 'R' Us looses tax suit

from the NewOrleans NOLA bq. State officials scored two wins in Baton Rouge Monday, as judges in separate cases involving Toys "R" Us Corp. and The Gap Inc. ruled that Louisiana can go forward on a claim that theretailers are paying too little taxes because of what the state considers a clever dodge. bq. More than $800,000 in state taxes, penalties and interest are at stake in the Toys "R" Us case, while the tax bill in The Gap suit is $976,552. and a description of what they were doing: bq. The heart of the dispute is what has come to be known as the Geoffrey issue or the Geoffrey loophole, so named for the Toys "R" Us mascot, a giraffe named Geoffrey. bq. Geoffrey Inc. is a subsidiary owned by Toys "R" Us. Geoffrey owns various trademarks and rights including the giraffe character, and Toys "R" Us stores pay royalties to Geoffrey. Because those royalties are business expenses, they are claimed as deductions that escape Louisiana taxation. Geoffrey pays no state taxes because it is incorporated in Delaware. bq. The state claims Geoffrey is a device to evade paying state taxes. The company claims Geoffrey is a legitimate business that shouldn't be taxed because it is not located in Louisiana. Dang - another loophole bites the dust...

Carter: Sen. Miller Appointment a Mistake

from Yahoo/AP (hat tip Little Green Footballs) bq. Former President Jimmy Carter says the appointment of Georgia's Zell Miller to the Senate was a mistake because his fellow ex-governor "betrayed all the basic principles that I thought he and I and others shared." bq. The comments, which Carter made Wednesday on the radio program FOX News Live with Alan Colmes, are the latest criticism from prominent Democrats of the maverick senator who has endorsed President Bush's re-election and penned a new book arguing his party is out of touch with the South. bq. When Colmes asked Carter about Miller, the former president initially said, "I would rather not even comment about Zell Miller on the radio," then proceeded to call the appointment "one of the worst mistakes" then-Democratic Gov. Roy Barnes made in his final four years in office. bq. "He has really betrayed all the basic principles that I thought he and I and others shared," Carter said. bq. Barnes tapped Miller in 2000 to fill the vacancy left by the death of Republican Sen. Paul Coverdell. Miller then went on to win a special election to complete Coverdell's term, which ends in January 2005. Miller has announced he won't seek re-election, and Republicans are optimistic about reclaiming the seat. I used to be a Democrat and Zel Miller is what I would consider to be a true Democrat - the current crop of posturing loonies (including the presidential cantidates and lurkers) are mere opinion and money driven shadows.

SCO DdOS attack update

from GrockLaw bq. Security Experts Doubt SCO Was Attacked bq. SCO has reported that they are experiencing an attack on their servers. Groklaw has been flooded with information that indicates their story doesn't add up. bq. The consensus of what I am hearing is: That it is probably not an attack. That their description of the "attack" makes no sense. And that if what they are saying were true, SCO would be admitting to gross negligence. bq. First, I'm being told that Linux has a very simple preventative built in. Linux comes with the ability to block ALL SYN attacks. End of story. All major firewalls can do so also. They run their web site on Linux. CISCO routers can protect against SYN attacks too, I have been told, if properly enabled. Why does SCO persist in having such problems? bq. I knew one of Groklaw's readers is a security professional in Australia, so I wrote to him and asked if he'd take a look and give me his opinion. more: bq. "SCO has released a press release stating that their web site has come under a Distributed Denial of Service Attack (DDoS), specifically a SYN flood. bq. "Before we show how silly this statement is, let's explain SCO's position. A 'SYN Flood' attack is an attack that attempts to stop a server from accepting new connections. It's quite an old attack now, and has been relegated to the 'That was interesting' basket of attacks. bq. 'A very simple analogy of a SYN attack: You have two hands, you are thus able to shake hands with at most two people at any one time. A third person who wants to shake your hand has to wait. Either you or one of the first two people can stop shaking hands so as to be able to accept the third person's handshake. bq. "In this instance SCO are claiming that 'thousands' are doing something similar to their web server. This is, in and of itself, plausible. Unfortunately if we look closer there are a few problems with this claim of SCO's. bq. "As stated above, the attack is quite an old one. Patches to all Operating Systems that I'm aware of, do exist to stop this sort of attack. For instance, a CISCO document: describes the attack and provides ways to stop it. Note the lines: 'Employ vendor software patches to detect and circumvent the problem (if available).' This means, quite simply, that patches exist to mitigate this attack. bq. Why hasn't SCO applied them? The article then goes on to post a couple other readers coments and relies. The general consensus is that something hapened (HDD crash, tripped over a cable, etc...) and they issued a press release rather than fixing the problem. It might be an attempt to make the Linux community look bad but if they are doing this and saying that it suffered from a five-year-old attack methodology, it has the potential to backfire.

fun time in Houston, TX

from the Washington Post bq. The director of a U.S. group that seeks democratic reform in Saudi Arabia complained yesterday about an upcoming conference in Texas that will feature addresses broadcast from Riyadh by clerics who have praised holy war and Osama bin Laden. bq. Ali Ahmed, head of the Washington-based Saudi Institute, also noted that instructors at a Virginia Islamic institute who hold diplomatic credentials issued by the Saudi Embassy are scheduled to speak at the gathering. bq. Keynote speakers at the three-day event in Houston, scheduled to begin Dec. 24, have espoused intolerance for Christians, Jews and Shiite Muslims. One of them, Sheikh Allamah Ibn Jibreen, has publicly urged young Saudis to join al Qaeda and fight U.S. forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to the Saudi Institute. bq. Ahmed said he believes it is outrageous that the Saudi government is allowing the clerics to espouse their views while repressing groups, such as his, that urge reform. bq. Saudi Embassy officials declined to discuss the upcoming conference. "The embassy has no comment on something that hasn't happened yet," said Michael Petruzzello, whose public relations firm represents the embassy. "The preaching of incitement or extremism is prohibited in Saudi Arabia. If that's what happens, they'll deal with it after the conference." bq. Last week, a Saudi official said that the embassy would cease sponsoring the Fairfax-based Institute for Islamic and Arabic Sciences in America (IIASA), as part of Riyadh's recent efforts to curb the spread of extremist Islamic rhetoric. bq. The diplomatic credentials of 16 clerics and instructors at IIASA who are accredited with the Saudi Embassy are being withdrawn, the official, who asked not to be identified, said this week.

more on December 10th Demonstrations

Zeyad has two more photo albums posted in his Healing Iraq blog. here and here the first one is here Check it out. Very little mention in western media though...

Andrei Codrescu, Spiders, Blogs...

an interesting observation on Doc Searls Weblog He was listening to an Andrei Codrescu essay on NPR and it went in a bit of a different direction than he was expecting... bq. I mention my front yard architect for several reasons. bq. One, she seems a lot more interested in her creation than her prey, though I do not doubt she eats well in such a cleverly designed trap. bq. Second, she conducts her operations unbothered by humans who mow very carefully around her and admire her work. bq. Thirdly, she was very smart to build in a place that was sheltered enough from the elements, and open enough to elicit admiration instead of disgust. bq. And fourthly, she was lucky. She squatted on a liberals' lawn. Now I should be so lucky. Or you. bq. The only analogy in the human world is an Internet habitat called a blog. bq. The blog is the grapho-egomaniac's perfect outlet. It's a daily, hourly or perpetual diary belonging souley to a writer and her thoughts. bq. These thoughts are made public to the world every time a writer is at a keyboard. Which is, in some cases, twenty-four seven. bq. Some people cruising by will read the postings and respond to them with thoughts of their own. Or even better, some admiration. bq. And some move into the blog, reacting to the writer's every entry with one of their own. Like a family member. And all in real time. bq. Eventualy a small community is born, with the blogger in the center of the web, entertaining or devouring the haphazard relatives or any number of guests. bq. Today there are literally millions of blogmasters on the Web, each of them spiderlike at the center of their own world. bq. Most of them believe doubtlessly that this is all the world they need and that they're the center, not just of their private world, but that of the world itself. bq. In the real world Winter comes and even the greatest spider dies eventually. bq. The blog will likewise go on, until the blogger runs out of room on the server and can't pay the bill. bq. Then it's clear not only that there is a bigger world, but students of webs and blogs who watch and wonder about all the work.

Flu - weekly report from CDC

from the Centers for Disease Control bq. Synopsis Influenza activity in the United States continued to increase during week 48 (November 23 - 29, 2003). One thousand three hundred nine (39.1%) of 3,350 specimens collected from throughout the United States and tested by U.S. World Health Organization (WHO) and National Respiratory and Enteric Virus Surveillance System (NREVSS) collaborating laboratories were positive for influenza. The proportion of patient visits to sentinel providers for influenza-like illness (ILI) overall was 5.1%, which is above the national baseline of 2.5%. The proportion of deaths attributed to pneumonia and influenza was 6.5%, which is below the epidemic threshold for the week. Thirteen state health departments reported widespread influenza activity, 16 states and New York City reported regional activity, 6 states reported local influenza activity, 13 states, Guam, and Puerto Rico reported sporadic influenza activity, and 1 state and the District of Columbia reported no influenza activity. Get your innoculations folks...

interesting call to make here...

Adelaide, Australia adventurer Jon Johanson builds an experimental Aircraft and flies it over the South Pole. Unfortunatly, Johanson was forced to land his aircraft at the US-NZ McMurdo-Scott base after high winds prevented the adventurer from reaching Argentina. He now needs a bit more than 100 Gallons of Gas (400 liters is what he is asking for) to fly back home. Problem is that neither the USA or New Zealand will sell the gas to him... Story is here and here He is currently a guest of the McMurdo-Scott base and they will ship him home for free and send his plane back to Australia for the cost of the freight. A quote from the N.Z. people: bq. But Antarctica New Zealand said no-one knew Johanson was coming and he had done nothing about emergency or refuelling plans. bq. Spokeswoman Shelly Peebles said American and New Zealand authorities were being painted in a bad light but Johanson had taken a very irresponsible approach. bq. "He abdicated complete personal responsibility for any kind of contingency plan or consideration of how he was going to get back with limited fuel," she said. bq. "He made his plans by himself but we are offering him a way home from a predicament he could have avoided." He got himself into this and what if they bailed him out - what would the next incident be...
from Robert Hinkley's blog: bq. Noam Chomsky was asked in the Independent on the 4th of December bq. Where is the "silent genocide" you predicted would happen in Afghanistan if the US intervened there in 2001? bq. To which he replied: That is an interesting fabrication, which gives a good deal of insight into the prevailing moral and intellectual culture. First, the facts: I predicted nothing. Rather, I reported the grim warnings from virtually every knowledgeable source that the attack might lead to an awesome humanitarian catastrophe... bq. He went on: All of this is precisely accurate and entirely appropriate. The warnings remain accurate as well, a truism that should be unnecessary to explain. ... bq. Given the evident lack of millions of people actually starving to death in Afghanistan in the winter of 2001/2002 I would say the warnings of millions of people starving to death (as we will see below) were in fact utterly inaccurate. This should be unecessary to explain. Anyhow, back to Professor Chomsky's claim that he predicted nothing... bq. I did a bit of searching on the the web and found a few instances of him being quoted in late 2001 which looked to me that he was saying exactly that was going to happen in Afghanistan, or what was already happening in Afghanistan, was a silent genocide. bq. So I wrote to him. Rob even went as far as tracking down (and posting links to) audio files of Chomsky saying this at speaches he gave. Earth to Chomsky: You might not want to overlook or underestimate this Internet thingie... It's pretty good for doing research and basic Fact Checking.
excellent interview -- Donald Rumsfeld with Regis le Sumier, Paris Match Magazine. Couple of highlights: bq. Le Sumier: You stood as one of the biggest [partisans] of the American intervention in Iraq. Eight months after the start of the war the American Army is facing an enormous challenge there, in this country. What went wrong, and do you admit you made a mistake in underestimating the post war? bq. Rumsfeld: First of all, the decision to go into this conflict was a decision that was made by the country through the Congress. It wasn�t by one individual or one cabinet member, and I don�t know that your characterization of my role is necessarily quite right. I fully support the decision and the Congress fully supports the decision. I think that when one looks back in history and thinks that there are 23 million people who have been liberated from a dictator that used every conceivable repressive technique or device to repress his people, that most people with the benefit of some time will agree that it was a good thing. and bq. Le Sumier: We'll come to that a little later. But you declared victory on May 1st President Bush did. What -- bq. Rumsfeld: What he said was not victory. He said that, on May 1st he said that major combat operations had been concluded. He was correct. Other people characterized that as claiming victory. We said all along that it would take time. and bq. Le Sumier: But to go back to Iraq, I mean the absence of France, Germany, Russia on the level of troops and experience. Do you admit in a way "old Europe" as you named it, would have been useful after all? bq. Rumsfeld: Everyone said it would be useful from the first start. Who ever suggested it wouldn't be useful? It happened that they made other decisions but the United States went to the United Nations first they went to the Congress, then went to the United Nations, went to the United Nations twice. So it wasn't as though the United States was "going it alone". The United States went to the United Nations twice. The United States went and looked for other countries and asked for assistance and got it from 34 countries now in Iraq. bq. You phrased the question "don't you admit now that it would have been helpful", the United States was looking for help from the beginning. And some countries made their own decision not to help, and that's their right as sovereign countries, and that's fine. Every country gets to make their own decisions like that. and bq. Le Sumier: When you visited Guantanamo, 10 Delta, what was your impression when you saw the face of the people that were some of them at least were behind that. What was your impression of that? bq. Rumsfeld: What a shame, what a waste of lives to be trained to go out and kill innocent men, women and children instead of being trained in language or mathematics or something that could be useful to the world. A lot of them are young. You just think man's inhumanity to man. Why would they do that? Why would that make sense? What is it we all need to do in the world to reduce the number of people who are trained to go kill innocent people and to think that's a good thing to do, whether because they believe it or because of money or because of something else. and bq. Rumsfeld: A free people by definition have to be free. That's what we are, in your country and in my country. Once you decide that you're going to be terrorized, which is the purpose of terrorism. Terrorism means to terrify people, implant fear in their heads so that they'll alter their behavior. And once you become terrorized, once you become fearful, they've won. They've achieved what they want. They've altered your behavior. That's as true for an individual as it is for a nation. bq. Le Sumier: But you cannot -- bq. Rumsfeld: I can't just sit here in the office and hope that something won't happen to me, just like a country can't sit there and hope something won't happen to them. This is a very serious problem for the world. (emphasis mine) Wonderful stuff - hope some pragmatic heads in Old Europe read this...

Annan names U.N. interim envoy to Iraq

from the Mercury News/AP bq. Iraq is still too dangerous to reopen the U.N. office in Baghdad, Secretary-General Kofi Annan said Wednesday after appointing a replacement for the top envoy to Iraq, who was killed in an August suicide bombing along with 21 other people. bq. Most U.N. functions in Iraq will operate from a new regional base in Nicosia, Cyprus, with about 40 international staffers in place there by early 2004. There will be a smaller U.N. office in Amman, Jordan, Annan said in a 26-page report to the Security Council. Gee Kofi, - maybe if you had listened to the Coalition Soldiers in Bagdhad and had them provide your security, this would not have happened. Instead, Kofi, the U.N. used people they already knew from Iraq. Unfortunatly, these people were ex-Baath party officials who wanted nothing more than to destabilize the Coalition and the U.N. effort. So don't make it sound like it's the Coalition's fault that Bagdhad is too dangerous - you chose to ignore our proceedures and people...

U.N. tech summit split on press freedom

from the Boston Herald business section comes an article on the UN conference. A wonderful quote from Bobby Mugabe. This is the guy who turned his country (Zimbabwe) from a food exporting jewel of Africa to a food importing cesspit... The topic was press freedom on the Internet. From the article: bq. GENEVA - Leaders from more than 50 countries Wednesday launched a summit to "bridge the digital divide" and expand use of the Internet to poor countries, but a split quickly emerged over whether news media should be free or restricted. Mugabe's comment was: bq. Calls for a free press are a smoke screen, said President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe. bq. "Beneath the rhetoric of free press and transparency is the inequity of hegemony," said Mugabe, who is listed by the Paris-based Reporters Without Borders as one of the world's "predators of press freedom." bq. Mugabe, who came to Geneva soon after pulling out of the Commonwealth because the bloc extended his nation's 18-month suspension, was combative. "The rich, imperious and digital north remains on the one end of the development divide," he said. "The poor, disempowered, underdeveloped south remains on the other end of that divide." Gee Bobby, maybe if you put some of Zimbabwe's money back into the infrastructure (like the previous government did), it wouldn't be such a hell-hole these days... One of his friends showed up too: bq. President Paul Kagame of Rwanda, also on the Reporters Without Borders list, focused on his goals to provide all Rwandans with access to the Internet. "We plan to transform Rwanda into a technological hub," Kagame said and appealed for help from "our development partners." Rwanda is such a fun place to live now. Let me get you straight, you depleted your countries resources, fomented civil war and now you want the well-run countries to bail your ass out... Technology is fine adn good but unless you put some effort into educating your people, the technology will always be an imported trinket - something to show off at the next UN meeting... The article closes with a nod towards ICANN by saying: bq. Key decisions on the way the Internet works, such as domain names and addresses, now reside in a private agency spun off from the U.S. government - and the United States wants to keep it that way. bq. China, South Africa, India and Brazil - the main proponents of wresting control of the Internet from the United States - have offered only vague blueprints for an alternative. (emphasis mine) Yeah - no s*it...

Comentary on Iraq bidding

Steven DenBeste has a good analysis of the bidding guidlines for future Iraq contracts. bq. from US deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz: bq. It is necessary for the protection of the essential security interests of the United States to limit competition for the prime contracts of these procurements to companies from the United States, Iraq, Coalition partners and force contributing nations. Steven's comment: bq. Which is in fact correct. If nations who offered substantial help are treated exactly the same as those who did their best to impede us, then why in future should we expect anyone to feel they need to help us? Good stuff (as is usual from Steven) UPDATE: Another post from Steven with Old Europe's reaction and some good comments - he links to ABC News' report (I linked to the Yahoo/AP copy in this entry - same text in both) His comments: bq. There are a number of interesting buried assumptions in this. First is that Europe speaks with a single voice, and that any trans-Atlantic rift which might be developing is between the US and a monolithic entity known as "Europe". Second is that "Europe" is synonymous with the "Axis of Weasels". bq. It doesn't seem to acknowledge that the majority of members of the EU are helping the US in Iraq and presumably would not be on this blacklist. And it very definitely doesn't acknowledge that the real rift is inside Europe itself. There's no rift between the US and UK, or between the US and Poland, or between the US and Spain; there's only a rift between the US and the Weasels. bq. And why do I get the impression that the reporter, or his editors, thinks that the rift is our fault, and that it is incumbent on us to eliminate the rift by moving towards the Weasels, instead of them moving towards us? bq. I find the term "important allied countries" interesting. France and Germany are countries, alright, so at least it's not totally wrong. But are they "important"? And more to the point, are they really "allies"? bq. I don't think they're as important as they wish they were. (In fact I'm damned well sure that France isn't as important as the French think it should be.) And it is my opinion that they ceased being allies more than a year ago, for any meaningful value of "ally". Steven's main website is here - it's one of the ones I make sure to check every day.

UN taking over the Internet

from TechNewsWorld bq. Paul Twomey, the president of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, found out what it feels like to be voiceless. bq. On Friday night, Twomey, who flew 20 hours to Geneva from a meeting in Vietnam to take part in a preparatory session for this week's United Nations summit meeting on Internet issues, was escorted to the exit of the meeting room by guards after participants suddenly decided to exclude observers. bq. The move underscores the wrath of countries that for years have been unhappy with what they perceive as their voicelessness over how the Internet is run and over U.S. ownership of key Internet resources. It also foretells the level of criticism that both the U.S. government and the Internet Corporation, or ICANN, may face at the UN meeting, one of the largest gatherings ever of high-level government officials, business leaders and nonprofit organizations to discuss the Internet's future. bq. Formal meeting activities begin on Wednesday. Although more than 60 nations will be represented in Geneva by their heads of government, only a handful of industrial nations are sending their leaders. President George W. Bush has no plans to attend, though the U.S. government will be represented by other officials. bq. To the great frustration of the international community, ICANN, a private company under contract to the U.S. government to oversee the technical aspects of the Internet's address system, has been in a pole position of power since its formation in 1998, deciding such issues as when languages could be used as a communication tool by other nations. bq. Twomey, reached by mobile phone outside the conference room, said: At ICANN, anybody can attend meetings, appeal decisions or go to ombudsmen, and here I am outside a UN meeting room where diplomats most of whom know little about the technical aspects are deciding in a closed forum how 750 million people should reach the Internet. I am not amused. bq. Twomey said he, representatives of the news media and anyone who was not a government official had been evicted from the meeting. Clueless twits... But wait, there's more: bq. UN To Examine Governance bq. To that end, all countries participating in the UN gathering agreed Sunday that a working group should be set up under the auspices of the United Nations to examine Internet governance issues, including the question of whether more formal oversight of ICANN by governments or intragovernmental agencies is necessary, said Marcus Kummer, the Swiss Foreign Ministry's delegate and head of the UN meeting's working group on Internet governance. bq. Tuesday's private meeting will bring together heads of state from six African, five Middle Eastern, four European and two Asian countries as well as the UN secretary general, Kofi Annan, and Erkki Liikanen, the European Union's commissioner for enterprise and information society. Conspicuously absent from the list of invitees in the private meeting are ICANN and the U.S. government, which has sent a delegation of 41 people to the Geneva meeting.
from Little Green Footballs a link to a Jerusalem Post article (registration required for this): bq. "Those who have damaged the cemetery at Auschwitz intended to hurt the sacred memory of the Holocaust. This is in reality a shocking demonstration of the incendiary hatred on the extreme fringes of Europe, a hatred which threatens not only the Jewish people but the entire world." bq. The cemetery was established more than two centuries ago by the then-vibrant Jewish community in the southern Polish town. bq. Menahwile, Nazi slogans, swastikas and SS marks were sprayed with red paint on four gravestones in a Jewish cemetery in Achim, 20 km east of Bremen in north Germany on Sunday night. bq. On December 1 the Babi Yar memorial, consisting of a large menora, two large stones, and a plaque donated by President Moshe Katsav in January 2001, had been overturned and partially broken by vandals. bq. In early November, vandals desecrated a Jewish cemetery in the western Slovak city of Puchov. They overturned 22 tombstones, out of which six broke into several pieces. It was the second desecration of a Jewish cemetery in the western Slovak region of Trencin in two weeks. The first occurred at a Jewish cemetery in Nove Mesto nad Vahom in October. bq. On November 11, vandals desecrated the tombstones marking the graves of 15 Jewish girls who died in a Nazi concentration cap near Trutnov, 120 kilometers northeast of Prague. bq. On November 27, vandals desecrated tombs at a Jewish cemetery in southern France, carving swastikas and other Nazi symbols into the headstones. Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin condemned the attack in Marseille as a 'hateful manifestation of anti- Semitism.' There are a lot more of these listed in the news article. Old Europe is not a place to be now - for all of its history, it is devolving into thugishness. Geee - I wonder what the intelectuals are saying... In an interview in the U.K. Independent, Noam Chomsky was asked the following question by journalist Ricardo Parreira: bq. Is anti-Semitism on the increase? [Chomsky]: In the West, fortunately, it scarcely exists now, though it did in the past. There is, of course, what the Anti-Defamation League calls "the real anti-Semitism", more dangerous than the old-fashioned kind: criticism of policies of the state of Israel and US support for them, opposition to a vast US military budget, etc. In contrast, anti-Arab racism is rampant. The manifestations are shocking, in elite intellectual circles as well, but arouse little concern because they are considered legitimate: the most extreme form of racism. (emphasis mine) The Independent website pulls materials that are more than a week or two old and charges for access. Fortunatly, Pejman Yousefzadeh had it posted on his blog here

NetHack 3.4.3 released

from from their FAQ: bq. What is NetHack? NetHack is a single player dungeon exploration game that runs on a wide variety of computer systems, with a variety of graphical and text interfaces all using the same game engine. Unlike many other Dungeons & Dragons-inspired games, the emphasis in NetHack is on discovering the detail of the dungeon and not simply killing everything in sight - in fact, killing everything in sight is a good way to die quickly. Each game presents a different landscape - the random number generator provides an essentially unlimited number of variations of the dungeon and its denizens to be discovered by the player in one of a number of characters: you can pick your race, your role, and your gender.

SCO hit by DOS attack

Awwwww... :) from Newsforge: bq. The SCO Group, Inc., owner of the UNIX operating system, today confirmed that on Wednesday, Dec. 10, 2003 at approximately 4:20 a.m. Mountain Time, it experienced a large-scale distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack. The attack caused the company's Web site and corporate operational traffic to be unavailable during the morning hours including e-mail, the company intranet, and customer support operations. The company's site remains unavailable while this DDoS attack continues to take place. The company is working with its Internet Service Provider to restore to legitimate Internet users. bq. This specific type of DDoS attack, called a "syn attack," took place when several thousand servers were compromised by an unknown person to overload SCO's Web site with illegitimate Web site requests. The flood of traffic by these illegitimate requests caused the company's ISP's Internet bandwidth to be consumed so the Web site was inaccessible to any other legitimate Web user. Don't know why anyone would do such a thing...
from Yahoo/AP bq. BRUSSELS, Belgium - Across Europe, response was swift and angry Wednesday to the U.S. order barring firms based in important allied countries � opponents of the Iraq war � from bidding on Iraqi reconstruction projects. bq. Russia suggested it would not restructure Iraq's debt. Canada threatened to stop sending aid to Baghdad. The European Union said it would study whether global trade rules had been violated. bq. Germany, another leading opponent of the war, called the decision "unacceptable," and government spokesman Bela Anda said it went against "a spirit of looking to the future together and not to the past." bq. Critics said the policy could discourage countries from helping to rebuild Iraq and complicate American efforts to restructure Iraq's estimated $125 billion debt, much of it owed to France, Germany, Russia and other nations whose companies are excluded under the Pentagon directive. bq. "Iraq's debt to the Russia Federation comes to $8 billion and as far as the Russian government's position on this, it is not planning any kind of a write-off of that debt," Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov told reporters. And this debt comes from these countries selling Iraq ordnance and components to manufacture chemical weapons. The Oil-for-Food program was a joke - the majority of the supplies shipped to Iraq wound up in Baath party warehouses. We are talking about wiping the slate clean so the Iraq people do not have to start with the debt incurred by Saddam. President G.W. Bush said it best: bq. Iraq is moving toward freedom, stability and prosperity. In order to support this effort, I am pleased to announce today that in response to a request from the Iraqi Governing Council for assistance, I have appointed James A. Baker III to be my personal envoy on the issue of Iraqi debt. Secretary Baker will report directly to me and will lead an effort to work with the world's governments at the highest levels with international organizations and with the Iraqis in seeking the restructuring and reduction of Iraq's official debt. The future of the Iraqi people should not be mortgaged to the enormous burden of debt incurred to enrich Saddam Hussein's regime. This debt endangers Iraq's long-term prospects for political health and economic prosperity. The issue of Iraq debt must be resolved in a manner that is fair and that does not unjustly burden a struggling nation at its moment of hope and promise. James Baker's vast economic, political and diplomatic experience as a former Secretary of State and Secretary of the Treasury will help to forge an international consensus for an equitable and effective resolution of this issue. (emphasis mine)

more on Kyoto

a paper written by Owen McShane as part of a debate: bq. Two weeks ago I was invited to participate in the Vice-Chancellor's debate at Waikato University. The debate was "That Kyoto is a Fraud". Jeanette Fitsimons took one side and I took the other. I wrote the attached paper to inform myself of the issues. � Owen McShane as they say: Check it out

New Prime Number

this is a very good example of distributed computing - from Yahoo/AP: bq. More than 200,000 computers spent years looking for the largest known prime number. It turned up on Michigan State University graduate student Michael Shafer's off-the-shelf PC. bq. "It was just a matter of time," Shafer said. bq. The number is 6,320,430 digits long and would need 1,400 to 1,500 pages to write out. It is more than 2 million digits larger than the previous largest known prime number. bq. Shafer, 26, helped find the number as a volunteer on an eight-year-old project called the Great Internet Mersenne Prime Search. bq. Tens of thousands of people volunteered the use of their PCs in a worldwide project that harnessed the power of 211,000 computers, in effect creating a supercomputer capable of performing 9 trillion calculations per second. Participants could run the mathematical analysis program on their computers in the background, as they worked on other tasks. bq. Shafer ran an ordinary Dell computer in his office for 19 days until Nov. 17, when he glanced at the screen and saw "New Mersenne prime found."

Kofi meet Cluebat!

the UN is trying to get its mitts on the Internet The BBC has a report here bq. UN chief Kofi Annan has accused English-language websites of crowding out what he called "local voices". bq. Opening the first UN summit on the digital divide, the secretary general said much of the information on the web was not relevant to the real needs of people. bq. He said this "content divide" was one of the challenges facing political leaders, business delegates and community activists in Geneva for the conference It is not Content it is People... Many of the UN Nations have effectivly stripmined their economies to keep the ruling classes in charge so of course, they don't have the infrastructure... But they can have these important 'meetings' in beautiful places like Switzerland to talk about it. and more: bq. Some 50 heads of state are attending, among them Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe, who is in town despite travel bans imposed by Switzerland, the US and the European Union. Mugabe needs to be stripped, slathered with honey and staked out over a fire ant nest. Zimbabwe used to be one of the jewels of Africa - decent economy and wonderful conditions for the people both black and white. He came to power, started taking the farms away and giving them to his political cronies who had zero knowledge about farming and of course Zimbabwe's primary source of income tanked. They used to export food, now they import it and their citizens are in very bad shape medically and nutritionally.
from Tech Central Station comes are report regarding the ninth Conference of the Parties (COP9) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). bq. The delegates and environmental activists had hoped that the COP9 would be the occasion for announcing that the Kyoto Protocol to the UNFCCC had at long last come into force. The Kyoto Protocol has already been ratified by 100 or so countries but is not yet internationally binding. That's because it must be ratified by a set of industrialized countries whose collective emissions add up to 55 percent of their total emissions of greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide. bq. President George W. Bush pulled the United States out of the Kyoto Protocol in March 2001, which means that the 55 percent limit can only be reached if Russia ratifies the treaty. And that may not happen. Russia has been very coy about whether it will in fact ratify the treaty. Just last week, a prominent advisor to Russian President Vladimir Putin strongly suggested that his country would not ratify the treaty on the grounds that it would harm Russia's economic growth. Drat... bq. What happens if the Kyoto Protocol fails to come into force? Why then the UNFCCC simply launches another round of negotiations in 2005 searching for a way to control future temperature increases. UN processes and bureaucracies never die. (emphasis mine) Talk about capacity for understatement... Sheesh! So if they don't get their way, they are going to keep grinding this into the ground. The Kyoto protocol is based on very limited models, is very flawed and would be very expensive for the more industralised countries to implement. It offers zero zilch nada guarantee that what it outlines will produce the results they are claiming. In fact, the core data has recently been re-examined by two Canadians and they came up with a very different answer...

Novell supports Open Source in a big way

from bq. Officials at the Open Source Development Labs (OSDL) have filled the group's last board of director seat with the addition of Novell (Quote, Chart) Vice President Jeffrey Hawkins. bq. The independent software vendor (ISV) applied for "platinum-level" membership -- with $1 million a year dues -- within the organization last week, and got unanimous approval from the other directors Friday. bq. Novell's inclusion was apparently helped by its recent decision to acquire Gemany-based SuSE Linux, though officials from both sides hastened to say that the membership was completely independent of the purchase. bq. "It's not conditional in any way to our deal with SuSE," said Bruce Lowery, a Novell spokesperson. bq. Last month the San Jose, Calif., company announced its intentions to acquire Germany-based SuSE Linux for $210 million, the latest step in Novell's strategy to embrace open source. SuSE is one of the top three commercial distributions (RedHat and Mandrake) and it's a good one. It will be nice to see a convergence of Novell's security and management tools and the performance and open source of the Linux kernal. OSDL has a press-release here

Taiwan and US/China

from Christian Science Monitor bq. President Chen Shui-bian is on the campaign trail, tossing himself into mobbing crowds, pushing the envelope, and liberally using the 1,000-volt word that nobody in Beijing wants to hear: referendum. bq. So Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao, on his first official US visit, talked Taiwan with President Bush Tuesday, asking him to rein in Mr. Chen, whose planned March 20 referendum on removing Chinese missiles from the Fujian coastline is creating greater strain than anyone imagined. Before a Christmas hearth in the Oval Office, Mr. Wen heard what he was hoping for: a new opposition by the US to any "unilateral actions" by China or Taiwan to change the status quo. bq. Taiwan's president was raised in the country, not Taipei, and he first captured national attention as a sharp trial lawyer, not through old family contacts. As Chen formally announces his reelection bid Wednesday, he is thrusting himself and Taiwan into the court of public and international opinion - and East Asia is quivering. Not only is Chen politicking for office, he's making a case that China, not Taiwan, is the one creating problems by aiming some 500 missiles at the island of 23 million. bq. At a rally that opened with Beethoven's Ninth Symphony, with its proclamations of the brotherhood of man, Chen stated that a national vote on Taiwan security is needed "for peace, democracy, and to oppose missiles and to oppose war and not allow our children to go to war." bq. In China, them's fighting words. Chen is dancing up and down a red line that China has long imposed on Taiwan. He has angered Chinese generals and caused senior White House officials to state this week that, "We are giving the Taiwanese the message very clearly and very authoritatively that we don't want to see steps toward independence." Chen responded on Tuesday that he plans to push ahead with a vote that many see as partaking in the spirit, if not the letter, of independence. Interesting to see what develops there - the communist Chinese do not want to destroy the Taiwan infrastructure but they do want to take over the government and have access to their vibrant economy. Tiawan has seen what China does to other cultures and it's saying "No Way"... I'm a bit miffed that Bush kowtowed to Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao on his visit to Washington... China is a valuable trading partner but they are not our allies on anything but the most superficial level.

more on Iraq bid restrictions...

I can understand Old Europe getting their knickers in a twist with the proposed restrictions on bidding for work in Iraq but now Russia is chiming in... from Xinhua News: bq. MOSCOW, Dec. 10 (Xinhuanet) -- Russia criticized the US government Wednesday for its decision to bar countries that opposed the US-led Iraq war from bidding for reconstruction contracts in Iraq. bq. "This decision is clearly politically motivated," Deputy Foreign Minister Yuri Fedotov was quoted by the Interfax news agency as saying. Durn stright it's politically motivated - we asked for support and we got about 30 nations to help us. Those nations that didn't help us for whatever reason have no business being there in free Iraq for the time being. bq. "It is unlikely to promote broad mobilization of the international community to rebuild war-stricken Iraq," he noted. And just how much was the "international community" helping the people of Iraq two years ago??? One year ago??? Why all the interest now. bq. Fedotov was commenting on a directive from US Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz, which bans firms from Germany, France and Russia to bid 26 reconstruction contracts in Iraq. They are not being cast out of all work there, only the current construction contracts. They are welcome to come over and work on stuff themselves. bq. The directive said that the decision against Germany, France and Russia, which opposed the US-led war against Iraq in March, was based on "security interests." Perfectly understandible - the UN showed such planning and intelligence when it hired ex-Baath party members for their security in Bagdhad. Sure, these were people that they knew but these were also Baath party minders who have zero interest in rebuilding Iraq as a democratic nation. Cluebat time! bq. Fedotov reiterated Russia's call for a broader involvement of the international community in Iraqi settlement "under the aegis and with the leading role of the UN." Leading role of the UN - since when has it ever led anything good... The smaller committies actually do good work but the Security Council and General Assembly are useless jokes... A collection of dead-end dictators and ineffective management suckups. They sit around and posture and don't do jack. bq. "This is the only way to ensure true settlement and to enable the Iraqi people to start a new life," he said. Not the only way - I think the US has a couple of ideas that are working out just fine. Be honest, you think that Russia should be able to go in there and make money. That is what it boils down to... bq. "If the coalition participants intend to act independently, they can hardly hope for support and understanding from other countries," he warned. What support? When... Sheesh! It will be interesting to see what the French and the UN comes up with.

Microsoft Patches

First, MSFT announced that they were not releasing any patches for December 2003 Then, they release a patch: bq. The patch, for a flaw announced during its monthly fix bulletin in November, updates FrontPage extensions. It plugs a security hole that could allow malicious code to be run on a person's PC. bq. On Wednesday morning, Microsoft discovered that a glitch in the patching process resulted in a November fix not being applied to some Windows XP computers. The same patch was sent out again via the Windows update service on Tuesday night. The company is still investigating why and how the patch was reissued. bq. The original flaw occurs in Microsoft's FrontPage extensions and affects Windows 2000, Windows XP and Office XP. The security hole was rated as critical for all systems, except for original Windows XP installations that hadn't been upgraded with FrontPage Extensions 2002. Company that size it must be hard to coordinate everything but still...

Day of protests in Iran

December 10th was set up to be a day of protests against the theocratic rule in Iran. Lots of people out there. Pictures here I'll update this as more stuff gets posted to the web. This is wonderful!!! UPDATE: There are protests in Iraq as well - Instapundit has a bunch of links to pictures and articles with an interesting note regarding Media coverage: bq. Funny, I can't find anything about these on the New York Times' website. Guess the Times has been scooped by bloggers again! These people are protesting the terrorists who want to turn Iraq back into a dictatorship. Good to see this kind of grass-roots action - these people are being very courageous - one year ago they would have been tossed into prison and "disappeared", now they are able to voice their thoughts and feelings.

Good analysis of MidEast terrorist funding

from US News bq. The Saudi Connection How billions in oil money spawned a global terror network By David E. Kaplan bq. The CIA's Illicit Transactions Group isn't listed in any phone book. There are no entries for it on any news database or Internet site. The ITG is one of those tidy little Washington secrets, a group of unsung heroes whose job is to keep track of smugglers, terrorists, and money launderers. In late 1998, officials from the White House's National Security Council called on the ITG to help them answer a couple of questions: How much money did Osama bin Laden have, and how did he move it around? The queries had a certain urgency. A cadre of bin Laden's al Qaeda terrorists had just destroyed two of America's embassies in East Africa. The NSC was determined to find a way to break the organization's back. Working with the Illicit Transactions Group, the NSC formed a task force to look at al Qaeda's finances. For months, members scoured every piece of data the U.S. intelligence community had on al Qaeda's cash. The team soon realized that its most basic assumptions about the source of bin Laden's money--his personal fortune and businesses in Sudan--were wrong. Dead wrong. Al Qaeda, says William Wechsler, the task force director, was "a constant fundraising machine." And where did it raise most of those funds? The evidence was indisputable: Saudi Arabia.

Wesley Clark Would Let Europe Protect US

from Llittle Green Footballs bq. On the Chris Matthews show last Monday, Democratic presidential candidate Wesley Clark actually said that he would put the security of the United States in the hands of the Europeans�and give them the right of first refusal. bq. And I would say to the Europeans, I pledge to you as the American president that we�ll consult with you first. You get the right of first refusal on the security concerns that we have. We�ll bring you in. The complete transcript of the show is here

Light slowed to a standstill

from the New Scientist bq. A pulse of light has been stopped in its tracks with all its photons intact, reveal US physicists. bq. In a vacuum, light travels at the phenomenal speed of 300,000,000 metres per second. Scientists can exploit the way that the electric and magnetic fields in light interact with matter to slow it down. bq. Over the last few years, scientists have become masters of the light beam. Speeds of a few metres per second are now reached routinely in laboratories around the world. It is rather harder, however, to stop light completely and previous attempts have halted light but lost its photons in the process. bq. Mikhail Lukin and colleagues at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts managed to stop light without this loss by firing a short burst of red laser light into a gas of hot rubidium atoms. The full text of the paper (6-page PDF) is here

Stem Cell - used to create sperm

from Yahoo/AP bq. Scientists say they have turned mouse embryonic stem cells into primitive sperm cells � and then used the sperm cells to fertilize eggs. The scientific team's work could offer insights into male infertility and boost human stem cell research. bq. The sperm cells were not fully developed sperm, but rather their tail-less precursors. When they were injected into eggs, the eggs developed into embryos. Scientists are now studying whether such embryos can develop into live-born mice. bq. The team was led by Dr. George Q. Daley of Harvard Medical School (news - web sites). Its findings were published online Wednesday by the journal Nature. bq. Embryonic stem cells can develop into virtually any kind of cell of the body, and scientists hope to use them someday to create replacement parts to treat illnesses such as Parkinson's disease (news - web sites) and diabetes. The new work also involved embryonic germ cells, which appear in early embryos and mature into either sperm or egg cells. Very cool stuff!

Global therapeutic cloning ban averted

from the New Scientist bq. A global ban on all medical applications of human cloning was averted by an eleventh-hour deal at the United Nations on Tuesday. Last-minute haggling in the aisles of the UN General Assembly in New York sealed a compromise which postpones debate on a cloning treaty until October 2004. bq. A total ban, backed by the US, the Vatican and other Catholic countries, would have caused a deep rift with nations such as the UK and the Netherlands that want the right to pursue new medical treatments from cloning. bq. All countries want a UN treaty that will ban the creation of cloned human babies. But a US-backed proposal put forward by Costa Rica sought to extend the ban to "therapeutic" cloning. This aims to use stem cells from cloned embryos to treat diseases such as Parkinson's disease, but requires the embryo to be destroyed. This is a very emotionally charged topic but the potential for medical breakthroughs is huge. I am very glad that this was turned down...

Excellent history web page

hard to classify this one... A mega list of links for anyone doing historical research of western civilization from the 1800's to today. Amazing resource...

Two classic books

These are compilations of articles originally written in the Scientific American magazine before it started to get "popular" and political (last ten years)... 802 articles from The Amateur Scientist and The Amateur Astronomer here and The Amateur Biologist here Very cool stuff!

Modem inventors

Interesting profile of the two people who invented the modern Modem Dennis Hayes and Dale Heatherington, the two people behind Hayes Modems. Different lives...

New MSFT Word technology - AutoUnsummarize

from BB Spot bq. Word 2004 to Pioneer AutoUnsummarize Feature bq. Redmond, WA - Microsoft announced a revolutionary new feature will appear in Word 2004 called AutoUnsummarize. The technology works by taking short, concise sections of text and expanding them to any specified length. bq. "The technology is simple," said Microsoft Office Research Division Head, Richard Greenwood, "students have been doing it for years. Thanks to the power of Microsoft Word 2004, anybody can turn a five-hundred-word report into a ten-thousand-word masterpiece." bq. Microsoft programmers discovered the technology after coding the AutoSummarize code in reverse as an April Fool�s Day prank. From there it gained unexpected popularity within the department. bq. College student Chris McLaughlin reacted favorably to the news. "This is the best," he said, "I always hated screwing with the margins and font sizes just to get my reports to the required length. Now all I have to do is write a hundred words and hit the unsummarize button. Wham! Instant marks. I love it." Heh...

make your own Jackson Pollock painting

from here Cute Flash toy...

Update on Goose Creek incident...

I wrote about the Goose Creek high-school drug raid here Now, about a month later, a lawsuit has been filed. From the South Carolina State: bq. Seventeen Stratford High School students are suing the city of Goose Creek and the Berkeley County school district in federal court, alleging police and school officials terrorized them in a drug raid last month. bq. Individuals named as defendants in the suit, filed Friday in U.S. District Court in Charleston, include: Stratford High School principal George McCrackin; Berkeley County school superintendent Chester Floyd; Goose Creek police Chief Harvey Becker; and Goose Creek police Lt. Dave Aarons. bq. The suit also names the city of Goose Creek, its police department and the Berkeley County School District as defendants. bq. School officials declined to comment on the details of the lawsuit but expressed regret about the incident. Awwww... bq. The Nov. 5 raid by police and school officials has created a national firestorm, in part because it was caught on videotape by the school and made available to a local television reporter. bq. Stratford officials have said they had reason to believe drugs were being sold in the hallway before classes started, but no drugs were found in the raid. Yeah - lock down the school, bring in large numbers of armed cops and dogs and not find anything... Can we say "job opening"

Good Buster

from the Australian bq. Dog gets Iraq bravery award December 10, 2003 GOOD boy! bq. Buster, a six-year-old Springer spaniel, earned more than a pat on the head overnight when he was awarded Britain's highest animal bravery medal for his role in breaking a resistance cell in Iraq. bq. The British army canine received the Dickin Medal at a ceremony at London's Imperial Museum for discovering a cache of weapons and explosives in Safwan, southern Iraq, in March. bq. Danny's handler, Sgt Danny Morgan, said the building was thought to be the headquarters of extremists responsible for attacks on British forces, and that Buster succeeded after soldiers found nothing. bq. Buster quickly gave Morgan an indication he had found something by stopping and staring at a wardrobe. When the wardrobe was moved a piece of tin fell from the back to reveal a cavity. bq. Inside were Russian AK47 assault rifles, a pistol, six grenades, ammunition, two kilograms of cocaine and propaganda material. The cocaine is interesting... Knew that they exported heroin to finance their operations but didn't know they provided other crops (which don't really grow well in the Beka Valley) to their grunts on the ground. Wonder where they are getting it from...

Remarks to the Commonwealth Club

Michael Crichton sticks it to the Enviros in a wonderful speech... He opens with: bq. I have been asked to talk about what I consider the most important challenge facing mankind, and I have a fundamental answer. The greatest challenge facing mankind is the challenge of distinguishing reality from fantasy, truth from propaganda. Perceiving the truth has always been a challenge to mankind, but in the information age (or as I think of it, the disinformation age) it takes on a special urgency and importance. and more: bq. As an example of this challenge, I want to talk today about environmentalism. And in order not to be misunderstood, I want it perfectly clear that I believe it is incumbent on us to conduct our lives in a way that takes into account all the consequences of our actions, including the consequences to other people, and the consequences to the environment. I believe it is important to act in ways that are sympathetic to the environment, and I believe this will always be a need, carrying into the future. I believe the world has genuine problems and I believe it can and should be improved. But I also think that deciding what constitutes responsible action is immensely difficult, and the consequences of our actions are often difficult to know in advance. I think our past record of environmental action is discouraging, to put it mildly, because even our best intended efforts often go awry. But I think we do not recognize our past failures, and face them squarely. And I think I know why. and more: bq. I can tell you that second hand smoke is not a health hazard to anyone and never was, and the EPA has always known it. I can tell you that the evidence for global warming is far weaker than its proponents would ever admit. I can tell you the percentage the US land area that is taken by urbanization, including cities and roads, is 5%. I can tell you that the Sahara desert is shrinking, and the total ice of Antarctica is increasing. I can tell you that a blue-ribbon panel in Science magazine concluded that there is no known technology that will enable us to halt the rise of carbon dioxide in the 21st century. Not wind, not solar, not even nuclear. The panel concluded a totally new technology-like nuclear fusion-was necessary, otherwise nothing could be done and in the meantime all efforts would be a waste of time. They said that when the UN IPCC reports stated alternative technologies existed that could control greenhouse gases, the UN was wrong. bq. I can, with a lot of time, give you the factual basis for these views, and I can cite the appropriate journal articles not in whacko magazines, but in the most prestigeous science journals, such as Science and Nature. But such references probably won't impact more than a handful of you, because the beliefs of a religion are not dependant on facts, but rather are matters of faith. Unshakeable belief. bq. Most of us have had some experience interacting with religious fundamentalists, and we understand that one of the problems with fundamentalists is that they have no perspective on themselves. They never recognize that their way of thinking is just one of many other possible ways of thinking, which may be equally useful or good. On the contrary, they believe their way is the right way, everyone else is wrong; they are in the business of salvation, and they want to help you to see things the right way. They want to help you be saved. They are totally rigid and totally uninterested in opposing points of view. In our modern complex world, fundamentalism is dangerous because of its rigidity and its imperviousness to other ideas. bq. I want to argue that it is now time for us to make a major shift in our thinking about the environment, similar to the shift that occurred around the first Earth Day in 1970, when this awareness was first heightened. But this time around, we need to get environmentalism out of the sphere of religion. We need to stop the mythic fantasies, and we need to stop the doomsday predictions. We need to start doing hard science instead.

conditions in Iraq

Another behind-the-scenes story from Scripps-Howard news service: bq. "We've got a lot of good things going on, but when I went home (on leave), people were just like 'We never hear that stuff,' " said Civil Affairs Pvt. Amy Schroeder. "That's what makes the families worry." bq. What Iraq looks like on TV, and what Iraq is like for the 130,000 troops living here, sometimes feels like two different realities. bq. That's especially true for the Army's Civil Affairs soldiers, reservists who often serve as civil engineers in their "real life" jobs, and who are here working in Iraq's schools, hospitals and factories. There are thousands of Civil Affairs soldiers in Iraq, and their daily missions take them into all regions of the country, from the water plants in Basra to the south, to canning factories up north in Irbil. bq. "Our stories aren't the sexiest," says the 432nd Civil Affairs Brigade commander, Gary Beard. "But what we do will build the success of this country."
from the New Scientist bq. Modified sugar beet is far more environmentally friendly than conventional beet. So concludes a controversial new analysis that is the first to measure the wider impact of such crops, including their contribution to global warming, damage to the ozone layer and toxicity to aquatic life. bq. "Overall, herbicide-resistant GM beet was 15 to 50 per cent better for the environment, depending on what impact was being measured," says Richard Phipps of the School of Agriculture at the University of Reading in Berkshire, UK. and more: bq. In Phipps's and Bennett's analysis, they gathered data from published literature, farmers and real field experiments on GM and conventional beet. bq. They measured various parameters prescribed in an internationally accredited standard, including the energy used in making the weedkiller, and the amount of diesel used by tractors spraying crops. The analysis also catalogues all physical resources consumed and the impact of any pollution. bq. Phipps says their experimental approach, which they call "life-cycle analysis", could easily be used to test the environmental impact of other farming systems. "There's absolutely no reason why the same methodology couldn't be applied to organic or no-till systems of agriculture." A lot of the greenies look at specific items, this study took a look at the big picture and found some nice results...
from InstaPundit's excellent site comes two links: from FrontPage Magazine: bq. At a black-tie dinner on November 5th, nearly 300 conservative activists and politicians gathered at Washington�s Mayflower Hotel to recognize a prominent fixture in their community: tax-advocate and conservative coalition-builder Grover Norquist. bq. The talk that evening was of the honoree�s tireless efforts to advance his libertarian objective of down-sizing federal, state and local governments by reducing their revenues. He was toasted for organizing nationwide initiatives to memorialize Ronald Reagan, notably with the renaming of the capital�s National Airport after the former President. bq. Most in the audience were surely unaware that the effect of their tribute � if not its organizers� intended purpose � was to provide urgently needed political cover for a man who has been active on another, far less laudable and, in fact, deeply problematic front: Enabling a political influence operation to advance the causes of radical Islamists, and targeted most particularly at the Bush Administration. The growing influence of this operation � and the larger Islamist enterprise principally funded by Saudia Arabia � has created a strategic vulnerability for the nation, and a political liability for its President. later in the article: bq. The investment began when Alamoudi wrote two personal checks (a $10,000 loan and what appears to be a $10,000 gift) to help found Norquist�s Islamic Institute. In addition, Alamoudi made payments in 2000 and 2001 totaling $50,000 to Janus-Merritt Strategies, a lobbying firm with which Norquist was associated at the time. bq. Questions about the original source of this seed money would seem to be in order. In particular, it would be instructive to know whether it came from Saudi Arabia or a pedigreed terrorist state like Libya. Last month, Alamoudi was arrested and charged with engaging in illegal financial transactions with the Libyan government. According to an affidavit filed at the time, he admitted to trying to take $340,000 in sequentially numbered $100 bills to Syria, en route to Saudi bank accounts. When apprehended, Alamoudi declared that the funds had been delivered to him after extensive interactions with officials of Muammar Qadhafi�s government by a man �with a Libyan accent.� Its source is alleged to be a charity used by Qadhafi to finance terrorist operations. it's all nicely footnoted and referenced (81 citations)... The other link is to the Winds of Change weblog with some links to other articles and a wonderful quote from Sen. Zell Miller (D-Ga.): bq. "If what has happened here is not treason, it is its first cousin. The ones responsible - be they staff or elected or both - should be dealt with quickly and severely sending a lesson to all that this kind of action will not be tolerated, ignored or excused." UPDATE: The Belmont Club weighs in with some good comments too: bq. One of the myths about the current War on Terror is that it is principally about religion. That is incorrect. It is principally about money. Radical Islamist organizations have attacked the West in the expectation of gain, as argued in Follow the Money. It is a weapon too, and is wielded with special cunning and precision by factions long practiced in corruption and incitement to treachery. Unless the sword of gold is turned against them, we will bleed upon it even as we kiss it.

link between Edvard Munch's Scream and Krakatoa

interesting article in Sky and Telescope magazine: bq. A new analysis of Edvard Munch's The Scream provides the precise location where Munch and his friends were walking when he saw the blood-red sky depicted in the 1893 painting, as well as an explanation of why the sky appeared to be on fire. Through Munch's journals, topographic analysis, and a connection to the eruption of Krakatoa, proof now exists that the spectacular twilight seen in one of today's most recognizable paintings was inspired by this dramatic event.

London Mayor Wants Fireworks Show Shunned

from Yahoo/AP news bq. London plans a fireworks spectacular on New Year's Eve, and Mayor Ken Livingstone hopes nobody will come. bq. Livingstone said Tuesday he has arranged a two-minute firework display over the London Eye ferris wheel by the River Thames, but it's purely for the cameras. bq. Livingstone said he wanted to create an extravanganza to rival the spectacular fireworks displays that cities such as Sydney and Los Angeles have become noted for. Unlike those cities where millions turn out to watch the displays, the mayor doesn't want the hassle of gawking crowds. bq. "If 2 million people turn up, there will be a problem. We do not think that 2 million will turn up," he said. "It will just be a two-minute firework display. It will be a visual image to broadcast around the world." bq. No major events are planned for the British capital this New Year's Eve because crowd control problems that marred the Millennium celebrations are still being reviewed. Livingstone said discussions were under way for a big party next year.

Steve Jobs interview in Rolling Stone

found here Some nice comments about online music and dealing with the music industry: bq. Because of their technological ignorance. bq. Because of their technological innocence, I would say. When we first went to talk to these record companies -- about eighteen months ago -- we said, "None of this technology that you're talking about's gonna work. We have Ph.D.s here who know the stuff cold, and we don't believe it's possible to protect digital content." and bq. At first, they kicked us out. But we kept going back again and again. The first record company to really understand this stuff was Warner. Next was Universal. Then we started making headway. And the reason we did, I think, is because we made predictions. And we were right. We told them the music subscription services they were pushing were going to fail. MusicNet was gonna fail, Pressplay was gonna fail. Here's why: People don't want to buy their music as a subscription. They bought 45s, then they bought LPs, they bought cassettes, they bought 8-tracks, then they bought CDs. They're going to want to buy downloads. bq. They didn't see it that way. There were people running around -- business-development people -- who kept pointing to AOL as the great model for this and saying, "No, we want that -- we want a subscription business." bq. Slowly but surely, as these things didn't pan out, we started to gain some credibility with these folks.

IBM Research takes a look at email

from IBMs research facility comes ReMail This is a new look at how people use email and what can be done to make it better. Very cool stuff!

Linus Torvalds replies to Darl McBride of SCO

on December 4th, Darl McBride (CEO of SCO) published a letter. We wrote about it here Today, Linus Torvalds published an excellent rebuttal here bq. GPL is no hippie dream Last Thursday, The SCO Group Inc. Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Darl McBride posted an open letter on SCO's Web site arguing that Linux backers were threatening to undermine the copyright protections provided in U.S. and European law. McBride's posting was the latest in a series of public statements by SCO portraying the open-source operating system as a threat to the commercial software industry and an enemy of intellectual property. "There is a group of software developers in the United States, and other parts of the world, that do not believe in the approach to copyright protection mandated by Congress," McBride wrote. bq. In this column, Linux creator Linus Torvalds rebuts Mr. McBride's arguments, arguing that the GPL (GNU General Public License) software license that governs Linux has far more in common with U.S. Copyright Law than McBride suggests.

Daniel Pipes

Solly Ezekiel of GedankenPundit has dinner with Daniel Pipes and offers some interesting thoughts... bq. On Saturday night I went to a dinner party where the guest of honor was none other than Daniel Pipes. He was in Vancouver, BC (where I grew up) to speak at the Hillel Foundation at the University of British Columbia, and in between speaking engagements a former classmate of mine managed to have him over for dinner. I got a chance to chat with him for a while, and later on he addressed the room and entertained questions. What he said was very interesting. bq. He started by describing the causes to which he devotes his time. He works for the DoD on the War on Terrorism, which he is trying to have renamed the War on Militant Islam ("terrorism is a tactic, not an enemy," he said). He also founded CampusWatch, the organization that monitors Middle East studies at universities. He also works toward assisting moderate Muslims to confront militant Muslims and reclaim the religion from those who have turned it into an excuse for violence (interestingly, and perhaps not too surprisingly, he said this is the area that generates the most vehement hatred toward him). Finally, he monitors the relationship between the American and Saudi governments. bq. He talked about the situation between Israel and the Palestinians. The core of the problem, he said, is that the Palestinians still haven't given up on their dream of destroying Israel (no surprise there). He also said that if you graph Palestinian optimism that Israel can be destroyed as a function of time, between 1948 and 1993 it was dropping. It hadn't dropped to zero, but it was dropping. In 1993, with Oslo, the Palestinians once again started getting more optimistic that they could destroy Israel. Three years ago, when Ariel Sharon started getting tough with the Palestinians again, that optimism once again started to fade. Between 1993 and 2000 the diplomats managed to undo most of what the military had accomplished in the years since 1948; the big mistake of Oslo was that the Israelis assumed the Palestinians had already given up on their dream of destroying Israel. bq. Turning to the War on Militant Islam, he said that misidentifying our enemy has already damaged the war effort, and that the sooner we realize who our enemy is, the sooner we will win this war. If you're hunting a rapist, he said, you don't waste your time interviewing women; if we're hunting terrorists, we need to remember that militant Islam draws all its recruits from Muslims. It doesn't appeal to anyone else. It's non-PC, but it's the truth. bq. He also talked about the unhealthy relationship between our government and that of Saudi Arabia. In his view our relationship with the Saudis is unique in that foreign policy is set not by the State Department but by a small number of individuals who are either expecting to be on the Saudi payroll when they leave government, or are on the Saudi payroll already. He cited examples of restrictions some government employees have to follow for a period of years after they've left the government in order to avoid any potential conflict of interest; those who set our foreign policy with the Saudis ought to be subject to the same restrictions. Read the whole thing.

Saudi investment in the US

from the Saudi American Forum bq. Saudi Arabians have allocated an estimated 60% of their global investments to the United States through passive and direct investments. This commitment has enabled the United States to finance an ongoing trade deficit and produce new economic growth opportunities. bq. Objections and barriers to Saudi investment in the United States are on the rise. Although most are baseless and even discriminatory, their impact could be multiplied in the current market environment. Promotion agencies across the globe are maneuvering to attract and keep foreign investment. The Kingdom's own market climate has opened and become highly attractive for Saudi investors. America must eliminate growing impediments to Saudi and other foreign investment in the United States in order to remain competitive. (emphasis mine) The Saudi's are pumping money into supporting Wahabbism and Militant Islam. They are masters of Public Relations and have been saying one thing in English for the media and turning around and saying (and doing) something completely different in Arabic. They are not our friends.

Robot Librarian

A Japanese team has developed a robot that can browse the stacks and retrieve books via command issued over the internet. bq. A Japanese team of researchers has developed a robot that could help browse for books in a library by receiving instructions via the Internet, a team member said Friday. The robot, a wheeled vehicle measuring 50 by 45 centimeters with a digital camera, mechanical hand and arm, follows orders received through the Internet. bq. Still in the experimental stage, it was developed as a way to help people who cannot go to a library, said Akihisa Oya, an assistant professor at the University of Tsukuba. Using a laser to navigate between shelves and other barriers, it can select a book, open it and flip through pages with its own hand, while taking and sending pictures of contents. (Kyodo News)

Google Answers

very cool idea from Google... You pose a question and tell how much you are willing to pay for an answer. Someone from their pool of 500 researchers will pick it up and provide the answer...

Cox and Forkum

wonderful cartoon today Check it out

Kim Jong-Il goes into hiding

from the World Tribune bq. North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il has not been seen in public since Oct. 31, fueling concerns that the reclusive communist leader has gone into hiding. bq. The last public reference to Kim was on Oct. 30, when the Korean Central Broadcasting Agency reported his meeting with a delegation of visiting Chinese officials. bq. U.S. intelligence officials said Kim dropped out of sight last spring for several weeks during the military operation in Iraq. Officials at the time said Kim feared the United States might try to conduct a strike against him, coinciding with the Iraq operations. It should be interesting to see what happens here...

China and Taiwan

things are warming up over there... from the Washington Post bq. On the eve of Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao's visit, the Bush administration signaled a tougher stance on Taiwan's moves toward independence yesterday, warning the island nation not to take any unilateral steps that might provoke the government on the Chinese mainland. bq. A senior administration official, briefing reporters in advance of Wen's meeting with President Bush today, said the administration had decided to drop a policy known as "strategic ambiguity" -- declining to say how it would respond to efforts by either nation to change Taiwan's status. Instead, the official said, actions by both countries had forced the administration to spell out more clearly what it thinks each nation should do to maintain stability in the Taiwan straits. from National Review bq. Of all the many wild cards in the wartime deck � whether Saddam has weapons of mass destruction and how he'll use them, what role Israel will play, how Turkey, the Gulf states, and Europe will react � China is the wildest, and probably the most dangerous. bq. China views itself not as America's strategic partner, but as America's strategic competitor. In Asia and around the world, China is vying to replace the old Soviet Union as the next challenger to what it sees as America's ambitions toward hegemony. To this end, China's People's Liberation Army (probably the most misnamed military in the world � it neither belongs to the people nor liberates them) issued an annual white paper predicting war with the United States within ten years. An American war with Iraq might just offer China the opportunity to test our resolve as well as our ability to deal with multiple threats simultaneously. It might even offer China the chance to invade Taiwan. Steven DenBeste has an interesting read on what could happen if the Chinese actually try to invade - remember, they do not want to destroy this country, they just want to take over the government so they can benefit from the economy. All those chip and motherboard companies add up to a good chunk of change... bq. My opinion is that Taiwan is capable of defending itself against an invasion by China without our help, and with our help such an invasion would be hopeless. But we would not help with ground troops; our contribution would be naval and air. A hypothetical invasion of Taiwan would be won or lost in and over the straight of Taiwan. bq. In many ways the closest equivalent in the history of warfare is the English Channel in WWII. After France fell in 1940, Germany planned operation Seel�we (Sea lion), an amphibious assault on the UK. Barges and other ships were accumulated in ports in France and Belgium and the Netherlands, but there were two problem: the Royal Navy Home Fleet, and RAF Bomber Command. He goes on: bq. The lesson of the Channel is that for an invasion to succeed on land, you have to have absolute control over the water; and to do that you have to have absolute control of the air over the water. bq. The Battle of Britain wasn't fought on the ground, and a hypothetical invasion of Taiwan wouldn't be, either. If we got involved, we would fight with naval forces and air forces, not with ground troops. We would use carrier battle groups (probably two) operating in open ocean east of Taiwan, land-based bombers flying out of Guam, fighters and bombers flying out of Okinawa, and attack subs. bq. To begin with, it should be clear that if China wanted to destroy Taiwan it could do so with nuclear-tipped missiles. Doing so would risk an American nuclear response, and for that and many other reasons I do not think that such an attack is being seriously contemplated by the leaders in Beijing. What they want, or claim to want (more on that later), is for Taiwan to be incorporated into China more or less intact. Ideally it would happen voluntarily, but that seems less likely every year, and any serious attempt at reunification now would have to be based on conventional military force. and more: bq. Taiwan would have to be assaulted with enough ground troops to defeat Taiwan's army of about 200,000 men in regular service, and an additional 1.5 million reserves, who are armed and trained specifically for counter-landing operations. Obviously it would take a huge force to defeat that; it isn't going to be done by a regiment or two. bq. Such a force can only be moved by sea, and would have to number in the hundreds of thousands at the very least. It is by no means clear that China has enough shipping to move such a force, but that's only the beginning of the problems facing any invasion plan. bq. In fact, it is by no means clear that China has that many troops who are actually capable of engaging in that kind of combat. The People's Liberation Army is immense, but equipment is terrible and training is poor and most of the soldiers spend their time in service working on PLA farms. And in 2000 China reduced the size of the People's Liberation Army by 500,000 men. Interesting times - the next ten years will be fun to live through...

Cool Science Blog

ran into this new Blog a few days ago and it's worth checking out. bq. So I said I'd talk about how my research on fruit flies has a practical application. The eye of a fruit fly is very different from mammalian eyes. They are basically arrays of tiny motion detectors, designed to sense movement of a predator rather than to discern the intricacies of color and form like human eyes. The electrical responses of fruit flies are 100 times faster than those of human eyes. That's what makes them so darn hard to swat with a fly swatter. bq. While insect vision is interesting in itself (especially if you want to be able to swat them effectively), what I'm really interested in is how nerve cells or neurons function in all animals. The photoreceptors in the fly eye are actually modified neurons. They receive an input (light) and transmit an output (histamine) at their synapses. Flies are ideal model systems to use to study neurons because they have simple nervous systems, they are easy and inexpensive to maintain, there are many mutant flies that can be tested, and you can do experiments on them that you couldn't do on humans. Yes, ripping the eyes off a human being and jabbing electrodes into the freshly dissociated eyes IS unethical and illegal in case you were wondering. bq. The fly photoreceptor cell signals in a way that is similar to certain types of neurons in the mammalian brain. This pathway contains a receptor, the protein rhodopsin (also found in mammalian eyes) in this case, on the surface of the cell that responds to an external stimulus, light. Once light activates rhodopsin, rhodopsin then turns on a whole cascade of other signaling proteins. The proteins in the signaling cascade had different functions. Some turn on other proteins, some turn others off. Some breakdown certain biological compounds, while other synthesize new compounds. Some proteins undergo conformational changes that allow them to transport other molecules into or out of the cell. These proteins are called ion channels. The end result of light stimulating rhodopsin results in ion channels opening and allowing high concentrations of calcium from outside to rush into the cell. High amounts of calcium are eventually toxic to cells so it is then pumped out of the cell at the end of the signaling event.

Congress OKs anti-spam bill

from CNN/Money bq. Congress approved a bill Monday outlawing some of the most annoying forms of junk e-mail and creating a "do not spam" registry. bq. By a voice vote, the House approved the bill containing jail time and multimillion-dollar fines for online marketers who flood e-mail inboxes with pornography and get-rich-quick schemes. bq. The measure, which cleared the Senate last month, now goes to the White House where President Bush is expected to sign it into law by the end of the year. bq. "For the first time during the Internet era, American consumers will have the ability to say no to spam," House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Billy Tauzin, a Louisiana Republican, said in a statement. bq. "What's more, parents will be able to breath easier knowing that they have the ability to prevent pornographic spam from reaching defenseless, unsuspecting children," he said. This is a start - it will not in any way limit the ammount of spam that you recieve since most of it comes from two sources beyond the control of the US Government. Most of the SPAM is sent from outside the USA. A good chunk of the rest (and this number will jump on December 26th) comes from clueless people whose computers have been infected with viruses that don't appear to be doing anything but are using the computers resources to serve as a relay point for SPAM. December 26th is the day that all the new holiday gifts will be plugged in, turned on and their initial install (without the latest patches) will be connected to broadband internet. Their owners will be so enthralled with the new experience that they will click on all sorts of 'fun' websites, open attachments that their friends sent to them and send and recieve eCards with abandon. Sigh... Keeps people like me in business anyway

Disney, Eisner and... Jobs???

from the NY Post Interesting speculation about the future of Disney with M. Eisner at the helm... Steve Jobs would be an interesting addition to the mix: bq. Here's where the Hollywood rumors get interesting. bq. As far as the entertainment industry and Wall Street would be concerned, the most welcome second-in-charge and nominal successor to Eisner could be none other than Steven Paul Jobs - head of Apple Computer and Pixar, and the guy who currently has Disney over one massive barrel. bq. "That one's been around for a while," says a Disney spokesperson. bq. Indeed. But sources out in the land of warmth say speculation that the Disney Co. would be forced to offer Jobs a position - if only a seat on the board - intensified this week, as soon as Roy Disney's keister had cleared the company parking lot. bq. But there are problems, naturally. bq. For one thing, Eisner apparently doesn't much like Jobs, either. bq. And the famously independent Jobs, who founded Apple Computer in his family's garage, apparently has been returning the dislike ever since Eisner accused Apple in Washington of abetting video piracy. bq. Now for the final twist: Disney right now is in the middle of renegotiating a very important movie production deal with Jobs' Pixar, an animation studio that made a bundle for Disney with "Finding Nemo" and others even as Disney's own cartoonists had become a mere caricature of their former selves. bq. And other studios are trying to lure Pixar away. Heh...

Microsoft AutoAlbum

from MSFT Research bq. It is getting increasingly popular for consumers to buy a digital camera and take thousands of photos of daily life. Most consumers simply dump these photos into one directory, analogous to dumping developed prints into a shoebox. A typical user generates thousands of photos a year. Finding a photo in this shoebox directory is difficult. bq. AutoAlbum and PhotoTOC are browsing user interfaces that help solve this problem. AutoAlbum was the original UI, while PhotoTOC is a new, updated UI. PhotoTOC consists of two panes. Thumbnails of all images in the shoebox directory is shown on the right pane, as a big contact sheet. PhotoTOC automatically clusters these images. One representative photograph from every cluster is shown on the left pane. When the user clicks on a representative photograph, the right pane scrolls to show that same photograph in the center of the window. The user can then find his/her photograph with minimal scrolling on the right-hand pane. There is an online demo that looks pretty neat. You will want to have more features (ability to add EXIF data, comments, searchable database keys) but for a 1.0 release, this is not too shabby... My personal favorite for photo album and database software is PhotoDex CompuPic Pro, nice and fast and only $80
from USA Today Actually sounds pretty good - there will be increased network traffic but not that much (just the token check) bq. Internet services company Yahoo Friday said it is working on technology to combat e-mail spam by changing the way the Internet works to require authentication of a message's sender. bq. Yahoo said its "Domain Keys" software, which it hopes to launch in 2004, will be made available freely to the developers of the Web's major open-source e-mail software and systems. bq. Spam � unwanted Internet e-mail, direct advertising, body part enlargement, and other commercial endeavors on the Web � has quickly become Web surfers' Public Enemy No. 1 as inboxes around the globe are clogged with hundreds of such messages daily. bq. Governments around the world are working on legislation to reduce spam, but in the interim a number of companies have stepped in with technology proposals designed to filter and block the electronic detritus. bq. Under Yahoo's new architecture, a system sending an e-mail message would embed a secure, private key in a message header. The receiving system would check the Internet's Domain Name System for the public key registered to the sending domain. bq. If the public key is able to decrypt the private key embedded in the message, then the e-mail is considered authentic and can be delivered. If not, then the message is assumed not to be an authentic one from the sender and is blocked. Clever idea...

Homeless Computer Repair

from the NY Times bq. Perry Vona works five days a week on a busy stretch of 43rd Street between Fifth Avenue and the Avenue of the Americas, which is not to say that he keeps an office there. Mr. Vona, who is homeless, works on 43rd Street � literally � repairing laptops, hard drives, keyboards, scanners, monitors and whatever other detritus of the digital age he can scavenge from the trash. bq. He is a common sight amid the pedestrians in Midtown, who might encounter him at 8 a.m. on a weekday sitting in a swivel chair, hunched over a stubborn piece of computer hardware plugged into the base of a public light pole. Working curbside with a fully stocked toolbox, he claims to sell his products to wholesale buyers and bargain hunters for as little as $60 to $80 apiece.

Boilerplate - the Victorian ROBOT

I have visited this site from time to time over the last few years. Need to blog it and get it out into wider circulation - it is wonderful! His lab: here Antarcitic expedition: here with Pancho Villa: here friend of T.R.: here much much more - dig and dig deeply...


interesting division of U-Haul You can either request or provide moving and storage services online. Enter what you need and when you need it and it presents you with a list of qualified vendors. You also have the option to become one of these vendors to provide specific moving/storage services to others in your locale. eCommerce at work. Minimal hype. Cool!

Wal-Mart in Mexico - a good thing

interesting article in the NY Times regarding Wal-Mart's presence in Mexico. This is an interesting company - it is so large that it really causes problems for other stores in areas they move into, being a vendor for them (even if you are a large company) is dificult - they have you over a barrel regarding prices and delivery. They seem to be doing a really good thing for the Mexican people though. Read on: bq. Wal-Mart, the biggest corporation in the United States, is already the biggest private employer in Mexico, with 100,164 workers on its payroll here as of last week. Last year, when it gained its No. 1 status in employment, it created about 8,000 new positions � nearly half the permanent new jobs in this struggling country. bq. Wal-Mart's power is changing Mexico in the same way it changed the economic landscape of the United States, and with the same formula: cut prices relentlessly, pump up productivity, pay low wages, ban unions, give suppliers the tightest possible profit margins and sell everything under the sun for less than the guy next door. bq. "This is the game that Wal-Mart has played in the United States," said Diana Farrell, director of McKinsey Global Institute, a policy research group run by the international business consultancy McKinsey & Company. "They've changed the name of the game in Mexico." bq. In the United States and Western Europe, Wal-Mart has been accused of driving down wages, introducing cut-throat business practices and bankrupting local companies. bq. But in Mexico's dreary economy, foreign investment, especially American investment, is about the only bright light, and many Mexicans know it. Cries of economic and cultural imperialism, rampant 10 years ago, when the North American Free Trade Agreement took hold, are more muted now. bq. "Part of globalization is adopting the methods and customs of another country," said Francisco Rivero, an economic analyst in Mexico City. bq. Though it came to this country only 12 years ago, Wal-Mart is doing more business -- closing in on $11 billion a year -- than the entire tourism industry. Wal-Mart sells $6 billion worth of food a year, more than anyone else in Mexico. In fact, it sells more of almost everything than almost anyone. Economists say its price cuts actually drive down the country's rate of inflation. bq. Last year, 585 million people -- nearly six times the population of Mexico -- passed through its check-out lanes. With 633 outlets, Wal-Mart's Mexican operations are by far the biggest outside the United States. bq. Its sales represent about 2 percent of Mexico's gross domestic product -- almost the same as in the United States. Analysts say it now controls something approaching 30 percent of all supermarket food sales in Mexico, and about 6 percent of all retail sales -- also about the same as in the United States. bq. Though Wal-Mart is not the only game in town, it is the biggest, and its bigness is crushing its supermarket competitors. Its methods are creating "a radical change" in the way business is done here, Ms. Farrell said. bq. "Wal-Mart has changed the retail market in Mexico," said Ra�l Arg�elles, a Wal-Mart vice president in Mexico City. "Every store manager has authority to lower prices if he sees the store across the street selling for less. If you have to lower the price, you lower it." bq. For Mexicans trying to compete with Wal-Mart, a new business culture is emerging, based on those hard-nosed, sometimes cut-throat tactics. For Mexicans with money to spend, a new consumer culture is rising, along with the sales of McDonald's hamburgers and Domino's pizzas (the three favorite toppings here are jalape�o peppers, ham and pineapple). bq. The marketplace is making Mexico look more like the United States, like it or not. bq. "From the commercial point of view, it's a total convergence," said Luis de la Calle, who was a chief Nafta negotiator. "If you go to a supermarket in Mexico, the type of products, the service they give you, it's just like you find in the United States or Canada, in terms of variety, quality and price."


The origin of the word 'Octothorpe' (the " # " symbol) from someone at Bell Labs The parent site is worth spending some time with - lots of fun stories...

Kyoto - yeah rigghhht...

More fun and ganes from old Europe (as reported by the BBC) bq. Countries refusing to cut their emissions of greenhouse gases should face trade sanctions, according to a British independent think-tank. bq. The United States has not signed the Kyoto agreement on climate change and Russia has indicated it may follow. bq. The New Economics Foundation wants the EU to tax imports from these countries because they enjoy a competitive disadvantage as energy costs increase Ohkaaay - they are saying that we will not play their game so they are raising the prices they will have to pay for our own goods... Kyoto has some major flaws in it - the core data behind the basic model (the hockeystick graph) has been refuted by two Canadian researchers. The issue here is not global warming - we know this is happening. The issue is the cause of the warming. We left an era known as the Little Ice Age in the 1850's and the planet has been gradually warming since then. The Little Ice Age was preceeded by an era known as the "Medieval Warm Period" which covered the three previous centuries. Periodic fluctuations of this planets climate are well known and provable from plant (tree ring), glacial ice and sedimentaru deposits. This is a complex issue and there is no simple answer (CO2) and no simple solution (Kyoto)

Arms for sale in Europe

from the Washington Post comes an article regarding the sales of black-market arms in a new country which broke away from Moldavia 12 years ago: bq. In the ethnic conflicts that surrounded the collapse of the Soviet Union, fighters in several countries seized upon an unlikely new weapon: a small, thin rocket known as the Alazan. Originally built for weather experiments, the Alazan rockets were packed with explosives and lobbed into cities. Military records show that at least 38 Alazan warheads were modified to carry radioactive material, effectively creating the world's first surface-to-surface dirty bomb. bq. The radioactive warheads are not known to have been used. But now, according to experts and officials, they have disappeared. bq. The last known repository was here, in a tiny separatist enclave known as Transdniester, which broke away from Moldova 12 years ago. The Transdniester Moldovan Republic is a sliver of land no bigger than Rhode Island located along Moldova's eastern border with Ukraine. Its government is recognized by no other nation. But its weapons stocks -- new, used and modified -- have attracted the attention of black-market arms dealers worldwide. And they're for sale, according to U.S. and Moldovan officials and weapons experts. bq. When the Soviet army withdrew from this corner of Eastern Europe, the weapons were deposited into an arsenal of stupefying proportions. In fortified bunkers are stored 50,000 tons of aging artillery shells, mines and rockets, enough to fill 2,500 boxcars. bq. Conventional arms originating in Transdniester have been turning up for years in conflict zones from the Caucasus to Central Africa, evidence of what U.S. officials describe as an invisible pipeline for smuggled goods that runs through Tiraspol to the Black Sea and beyond. Now, governments and terrorism experts fear the same pipeline is carrying nonconventional weapons such as the radioactive Alazan, and that terrorists are starting to tap in. bq. "For terrorists, this is the best market you could imagine: cheap, efficient and forgotten by the whole world," said Vladimir Orlov, founding director of the Center for Policy Studies in Moscow, a group that studies proliferation issues. And the U.N is where???

December 7th - A Day of Infamy

from the always excellent Anti-Idiotarian Rottweiler bq. On this the 62nd anniversary of the Japanese sneak attack on Pearl Harbor, I want you to forget, for once, about the attack itself. bq. Before you proceed to call for a lynch mob and make for the Imperial Palace, however, I'd like to qualify my outrageous statement a bit. bq. I do NOT want you to forget all of the brave souls that died that day and I do NOT want you to forget the righteous anger that the cowardly attack aroused in all true Americans back then. bq. What I WANT you to do is to not leave it at that. bq. When you remember 12/7/41, I want you to remember what we did to the bastards that attacked us. I want you to remember the resolve, determination and sacrifices in the years that followed, because THOSE were the factors that gave us victory. bq. Anger itself is worthless. Anger transformed into action, on the other hand, isn't. bq. Our grandparents' generation transformed their anger into action, and they STUCK WITH IT. bq. THEY didn't allow their resolve to be watered down by defeatism, THEY didn't throw the towel in the ring at the sight of the first setback, and THEY sure as Hell didn't get all pissed off, then sat down to ponder if it was "all their own fault". bq. THEY didn't show up for a candle-lit vigil in the week after Dec. 7th, only to go home the next day to resume whatever they were doing on Dec. 6th, thinking that "they'd done their bit". bq. They stuck with it, through 4 long years of struggle, staring the Devil in the eye, celebrating their victories and dealing with the defeats, never letting go of the throat of the monster until the monster was dead, shunning no sacrifice and, ultimately, doing whatever it took to win, no holds barred. bq. We need to emulate that now. We've been doing "OK" so far, but that isn't good enough. That alone won't win the war. We can continue to "play at war" for a long time, this is true, we certainly have the strength and resources for it, but if we want to WIN it, the gloves have GOT to come off. bq. Islamofascism must not be merely "defeated", it must be vanquished, eradicated, wiped out, exterminated, because anything less than that will only serve to drag the war out indefinitely. bq. They must be shocked and awed by our resolve the way that Tojo had his shit-filled britches scared off of his scrawny legs in '45, in a way that will leave no doubts in their diseased, murderous minds that not only do we have the MEANS to wipe them permanently off the face of the Earth, should we feel that it is necessary, we also have the WILL to DO SO. Emporer Misha 1st is usually a very good writer but with this short essay, he blows the top off other comments regarding this day. Read the rest of the article, you will be glad you did...

Light blogging this weekend

we were up on the property this weekend, bringing down the large truck (20' box truck) for moving the 2,000 gallon hard cider fermentation tank this week. Purchased the tank at auction adn now I have to install it... Sheesh! Couple of interesting items before I close for the evening.

Large Bird Die-Off in Oregon

from Yahoo/AP bq. LINCOLN CITY, Ore. - Thousands of dead birds have washed up on West Coast beaches this fall in a die-off that has stumped experts. bq. The birds are northern fulmars (a smaller cousin of the Albatross) and beachgoers in Lincoln County have counted more than 400 dead ones this fall. bq. The fulmars spend most of their time at sea, so it could mean massive numbers are dead in the ocean, said Scott Hatch, a research biologist in Anchorage, Alaska. more: bq. Bob Loeffel of Newport has tracked the number of dead birds on the Lincoln County beach for 26 years. He said this year's die-off shattered his previously recorded high of 172 in 1995.
from Florida TV station WKMG bq. A woman reported "trampled" last Friday by Wal-Mart shoppers desperate for $29.87 DVD players has a long history of claiming injuries from Wal-Marts and other businesses where she worked or shopped. bq. Patricia Vanlester, 41, was knocked unconscious and, her sister said, "trampled by a herd of elephants" by a stampede of shoppers reaching for DVD players that went on sale at 6 a.m. the day after Thanksgiving, according to Orange City police and the sister, Linda Ellzey. bq. The story was picked up by the Associated Press and carried in newspapers and other media as far away as Australia and China, an example -- some commentators have opined -- of American excess during the holiday shopping season. bq. An investigation by WKMG-Local 6 reveals Vanlester has filed 16 previous claims of injuries at Wal-Mart stores and other places she has shopped or worked, according to Wal-Mart, court files and state records. Her sister, who accompanied her Friday on the visit to Wal-Mart, has also filed a prior injury claim against Wal-Mart, with Vanlester as her witness, a company spokeswoman said yesterday. and more: bq. According to state worker's compensation records and court files at the Volusia County courthouse in DeLand, here's some of what Vanlester has claimed over the years under some of her various legal last names: Rastellini, Findley, Crabtree, Platt and Vanlester. * In 1978 and 1982, more than $400 in worker's compensation was paid after she claimed injuries from being struck by a falling object and from slipping and falling while working as a machine operator at a now-defunct manufacturing plant in DeLand. * In 1984, she claimed a back sprain from working at a restaurant in Winter Haven, producing $356 in worker's compensation. * In 1987, she filed an injury claim against Deltona Lanes, a Volusia County bowling alley, after claiming she slipped and fell while bowling there. In a 1993 sworn deposition in another case, Vanlester testified she received a cash settlement from the bowling alley claim, but did not recall the amount. * In 1989, after her car ran off Interstate 4 in Volusia and overturned, she filed a claim against Big T Tire and Wheel Service, of Orange City, claiming the crash was caused by a tire blowout. She testified she received a cash settlement in that case, as well. * In 1991, she claimed to have slipped on a puddle of hand lotion while shopping for a curling iron at an Orange City Walgreen's, causing "permanent injury, disability, disfigurement (and) mental anguish." She filed suit in 1993, but it was thrown out in January 1994 after a 10-minute hearing. Walgreen's argued no one at the store had seen any liquid on the floor, so it could not be liable for failing to clean it up. * In 1995, Vanlester reported slipping and falling on liquid or grease while working in the meat department of a Eustis Publix, resulting in more than $1,200 in worker's compensation. * In 1996, she claimed to have slipped and fallen while working at the layaway desk of a Mt. Dora Wal-Mart, leading to more than $600 in worker's compensation payments. * In 1997, she claimed a back strain while working at the snack bar of an Orange City Wal-Mart that was replaced by the Wal-Mart Superstore where she claims to have been trampled last Friday.

Researchers fake AIDS study data

from the Washington Times bq. Three Maryland researchers have admitted fabricating interviews with teenagers for a study on AIDS prevention that received more than $1 million in federal funds. bq. Lajuane Woodard, Sheila Blackwell and Khalilah Creek were employed by the University of Maryland at Baltimore's department of pediatrics as researchers on the study, funded by a grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). bq. The three admitted they made up interviews with teenagers, which they had claimed took place from May to August 2001, for the study on preventing the transmission of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. The fabrication was first reported in the journal Research USA. This is sick...

ViewSonic AirPanel review

from Ars Technica Neither fish nor fowl and not very good with some applications. Good for casual home use but when you need decent video rendering, this doesn't work well... Pros: * 15" LCD touchscreen * Instant-on and quick connect * Variety of data entry methods to choose from * Built-in USB and docking ports for expandability. Cons: * Heavy (6 lbs) * Tiny keyboard * Expensive (compared to a laptop) * Poor audio/video performance * No VGA/DVI port (cannot double as an LCD monitor)

Dumb crime

from The Miami Herald bq. Many people view a jury-duty summons as a hassle. bq. Investigators say Todd Lorin Nelson saw it as an opportunity for six months of paid vacation, courtesy of the taxpayers of Miami-Dade County. bq. Nelson, 33, an employee of the county clerk's office for 13 years, was arrested Thursday and charged with grand theft and official misconduct by falsely claiming to be on federal jury duty for six months. He collected $17,388.47 in pay during that time. bq. Nelson was summoned to federal jury duty April 7, but the court wound up not needing him. Still, he told his bosses he was serving on a jury, the county inspector general's office said. bq. ''They accepted what he said,'' inspector general Christopher Mazzella said. bq. He would drop by his office from time to time to pick up his pay stubs. bq. 'During these visits, his co-workers noted he was always rushed and would state that he was `at lunch,' 'on break' or 'needed to get back to jury duty,' '' investigator Jennifer Chirolis wrote in the arrest report.
from CBS bq. When officer Jason Zier pulled over a 1992 Mazda 626 on Thursday afternoon, the vehicle's registration had expired. By the time he'd finished writing up Sean Leach for the infraction, the car was legal again. bq. That's because the 36-year-old Jersey City man had a cell phone, a friend with a computer who he could reach and the foresight to use the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission's online registration service. bq. Leach's ingenuity did not save him from getting a ticket, but it did keep him from having his car towed and getting socked with the towing bill.

Socialised Medicine is a good thing...

The Flu season is upon us and it seems to be hitting Europe quite strongly. Hospitals in France -- still having problems since the 15,000 people died this summer -- are gearing up for what may be 2 million cases of Flu Agence France-Presse bq. Over the weekend, emergency departments in the Paris area were overloaded as worried parents brought in hundreds of children suffering from flu, bronchitis or gastroenteritis. In some cases patients had to wait up to seven hours. from Reuters/AFP bq. The French government, criticized for reacting too slowly to a deadly August heat wave, has urged hospitals in Paris to take swift emergency measures to fight an epidemic of flu and gastroenteritis. More than half a million people in France, including many children, have contracted flu, gastroenteritis or bronchitis in recent weeks in an unusually early winter outbreak, and experts say the epidemic has yet to peak. Media coverage of crowded hospital waiting rooms and off-duty health workers being recalled to cope with the influx may have exacerbated the crisis, prompting more people to bypass their doctors and head straight to the hospital. ��The health authorities have added beds and made staff come back to work. They are all scared stiff,�� said Patrick Pelloux, head of the Emergency Hospital Doctors Association. ��We are in a permanent state of crisis, so as soon as there is a problem, the system explodes,�� he told the daily newspaper Lib�ration. The situation comes as France battles to plug a gaping hole in its health budget. Pelloux and other doctors have criticized the government for failing to improve hospital resources since the August heat wave, which killed 15,000 people, most of them elderly. The BBC has a bit more

University of Tennessee Hokes Archives

here Some interesting stuff here - check out the Centaur exhibit: bq. THE CENTAUR EXCAVATIONS AT VOLOS The University of Tennessee, Knoxville is known internationally for its research on centaurs. The Jack E. Reese Galleria in the Hodges Libary includes one of the finest adult male centaurian specimens yet discovered, and the library includes the most extensive collections of centaurian epic literature in the south-eastern United States. From 1998 through 2001, annual panel sessions were held at the University Center to present the last Centaurian Research by noted scholars at the University of Tennessee.

Mr. Picassohead

here Heh...

report from IAAPA convention

a report with lots of pictures from this years IAAPA convention in Orlando. IAAPA you ask? International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions

Victor Davis Hanson

another excellent essay today... bq. Saddam's Baathists recently blew apart Japanese diplomats on their way to a meeting in Tikrit to discuss sending millions of dollars in aid to Iraq's poor. Their ghosts join those of U.N. officials who likewise were slain for their humanitarian efforts. On the West Bank, three Americans were killed: Their felony was trying to interview young Palestinians for Fulbright fellowships for study in the United States. In turn, their would-be rescuers were stoned by furious crowds � not unlike the throngs that chant for Saddam on al Jazeera as they seek to desecrate or loot the bodies of murdered Spanish and Italian peacekeepers in Iraq while the tape rolls. All this, I suppose, is what bin Laden calls a clash of civilizations. bq. Jews at places of worship are systematically being blown up from Turkey to Morocco � along with British consular officials murdered in Istanbul, American diplomats murdered in Jordan, and Western tourists, Christians, and local residents murdered by Muslims in Bali, Saudi Arabia, and Pakistan. The new rule is that the more likely you are to help, give to, or worship in the Middle East, the more likely you are to be shot or blown up. bq. Most of the recent dead were noncombatants. All were either attempting to feed or aid Muslims, or simply wished to be left alone in peace. Their killers operate through the money and sanctuary of Middle East rogue regimes, the implicit support of thousands in the Muslim street, and the tacit neglect of even "moderate" states in the region � as long as the tally of killing is in the half-dozens or so, and not noticeable enough to threaten foreign investment or American aid, or to earn European disapproval. bq. But when the carnage is simply too much (too many Muslims killed as collateral damage or too many minutes on CNN), then suspects are miraculously arrested in Turkey or Saudi Arabia, or in transit to Iran or Syria � but more often post facto and never with any exegesis about why killers who once could not be found now suddenly are. No wonder Pakistani intelligence officers, Palestinian security operatives, Syrian diplomats, and Iraqis working for the Coalition are all at times exposed as having abetted the terrorists. and mroe: bq. We are not in a war with a crook in Haiti. This is no Grenada or Panama � or even a Kosovo or Bosnia. No, we are in a worldwide struggle the likes of which we have not seen since World War II. The quicker we understand that awful truth, and take measures to defeat rather than ignore or appease our enemies, the quicker we will win. In a war such as this, the alternative to victory is not a brokered peace, but abject Western suicide and all that it entails � a revelation of which we saw on September 11. bq. Despite some disappointments about the postbellum reconstruction and the hysteria of our critics, our military is doing a wonderful job. We should understand that they have the capability to win this struggle in Iraq and elsewhere � but only if we at home accept that we have been all along in a terrible war against terrible enemies.

Bush Derangement Syndrome

from Charles Krauthammer bq. Diane Rehm: "Why do you think he (Bush) is suppressing that (Sept. 11) report?" bq. Howard Dean: "I don't know. There are many theories about it. The most interesting theory that I've heard so far -- which is nothing more than a theory, it can't be proved -- is that he was warned ahead of time by the Saudis. Now who knows what the real situation is?" bq. Diane Rehm Show, NPR, Dec. 1 and more bq. Now, I cannot testify to Howard Dean's sanity before this campaign, but five terms as governor by a man with no visible tics and no history of involuntary confinement is pretty good evidence of a normal mental status. When he avers, however, that "the most interesting" theory as to why the president is "suppressing" the 9/11 report is that Bush knew about 9/11 in advance, it's time to check on thorazine supplies. bq. When Rep. Cynthia McKinney first broached this idea before the 2002 primary election, it was considered so nutty it helped make her former Rep. McKinney. Today the Democratic presidential front-runner professes agnosticism as to whether the president of the United States was tipped off about 9/11 by the Saudis, and it goes unnoticed. The virus is spreading. Great stuff
from Lawrence Lessig Darl McBride (CEO of SCO) published an open letter regarding their ongoing lawsuits and licensing issues with regards to Linux. Lessig fisks this very well - worth reading if you are interested in intelectual property or copyright issues...
from the Boxing-Central bq. Iraqi Boxers Prepare to Return to Olympics bq. By Rich DiBona bq. Iraqi athletes in the past were "motivated" by the evil and sadistic Uday Hussein who was president of the Iraqi National Olympic Commitee. He used torture and imprisonment as ways to get through to the Olympians. With Uday now gone forever, the Iraqi athletes are happy and excited about the prospects of the 2004 Olympics. Boxers have now begun competing to attempt to qualify for the games. bq. The fighters are being supplied new equipment including shoes, mouthpieces and boxing gloves by the Americans. "I have been practicing boxing since 1993 and I never had better equipment, " said one member of the Iraqi team, Ayad Farhat. "It is great. We are really motivated." Cultural Imperialism if I ever saw it...
from MS/NBC Actually pretty cool - first tissue differentiation for that specific purpose... To quote the original AAAS paper: bq. The specimen described here is classified as Arthropoda, Crustacea, Ostracoda, Myodocopa, Myodocopida, Cylindroleberididae, Colymbosathon ecplecticos gen. et sp. nov. Name: Kolymbos (swimmer) + sathon (with a large penis); ekplektikos (astounding). Material: A carapace with preserved soft parts, Oxford University Museum of Natural History specimen number OUM C.295670 (holotype). The specimen (Fig. 1 H) has been reconstructed in three dimensions (Fig. 1, A to C, E to G, and I to P). Locality and stratigraphy: Herefordshire, England; Wenlock Series, Silurian. Diagnosis: Cylindroleberidid with well-developed adductorial sulcus and long, simple gape; six pairs of posteriorly attached gills; second maxilla lacks setose "comb." Description: The bivalved carapace is large (maximum length, height, and width, 5210, 3100, and 3150 �m, respectively) and smooth (Fig. 1, F and I). In lateral view, the anterior, posterior, and ventral outlines of the valve are gently curved. A gape extends from the anterior cardinal corner to just behind mid-length. An adductorial sulcus curves forward slightly, to about mid-height. A weak anterior lobe and evenly curved post-adductorial dorsal margin extend just above the hinge line.

IPO fun and games..

from Reuters Orbitz chief could make lots of money if the company's IPO fails: bq. Orbitz CEO Jeffrey Katz could profit handsomely from a cushion in his pay package if the online travel company's initial public offering is a bust, but analysts say he probably won't have to use it. bq. Katz has an insurance policy of sorts that gives him the option for a one-time cash payout in an amount that increases as the company's shares decline, according to documents filed with regulators. bq. Katz can cash in on the payout 30 days after the IPO, on the first four anniversaries of his July 2003 contract, or if he resigns or is terminated. bq. "I've never seen that before. I think it's a howl," said John Fitzgibbon, analyst at, which monitors IPOs. "What he's done is (essentially bought) a put against his stock -- in other words, he gets money if it goes down." bq. Orbitz, the No. 3 online travel site, plans to sell 4 million shares in its IPO, and stockholders will sell 7 million more, for a total of 11 million shares at $22 to $24 apiece. The offering is expected the week of Dec. 15, according to people familiar with the IPO. bq. Orbitz was founded in 2000 by the top five U.S. airlines, most of which are selling big chunks of stock in the IPO. Interesting... more in the article

"Nano" in firm's name fuels stock's hefty gain

from Forbes Basic deal - a company has nothing to do with Nanotechnology but their name has those four golden letters and their tickker symbol is NANO - result? Major gains on their IPO bq. A growing fascination with nanotechnology seems to be doing wonders for the stock price of Nanometrics Inc. bq. Too bad the company's only connection with the hot field of molecular-scale machinery is the first four letters of its name and a stock ticker, NANO. But that, apparently, is enough to confuse some investors. bq. It has been a remarkable few days on the stock market for the Milpitas, California-based Nanometrics, whose true identity is perhaps more mundane than its name would suggest: it makes tools that measure the thickness of films deposited on silicon wafers. Heh...
from Strategy Page via InstaPundit bq. NAVAL AVIATION: French Carrier Disaster Gets Very Strange bq. December 4, 2003: France is considering quietly retiring their new nuclear powered aircraft carrier and joining with Britain to buy a new carrier of British design. Actually, the French had planned to built a second nuclear powered carrier, but they are having so many problems with the first one that they are quite reluctant about building another one. Britain is building two 50,000 ton conventionally powered carriers, at a cost of $2.5 billion each. France would order a third of this class, and bring down the cost of all three a bit. The new French nuclear carrier "Charles de Gaulle" has suffered from a seemingly endless string of problems. The 40,000 ton ship has cost over four billion dollars so far and is slower than the diesel powered carrier it replaced. Flaws in the "de Gaulle" have led it to using the propellers from it predecessor, the "Foch," because the ones built for "de Gaulle" never worked right. Worse, the nuclear reactor installation was done poorly, exposing the engine crew to five times the allowable annual dose of radiation. There were also problems with the design of the deck, making it impossible to operate the E-2 radar aircraft that are essential to defending the ship and controlling offensive operations. Many other key components of the ship did not work correctly, and the carrier has been under constant repair and modification. The "de Gaulle" took eleven years to build (1988-99) and was not ready for service until late 2000. It's been downhill ever since. So the plan is to buy into the new British carrier building program and keep the "de Gaulle" in port and out of trouble as much as possible. The British have a lot more experience building carriers, and if there are any problems with the British designed ship, one can blame the British. Wouldn't mind knowing who were the engineers for that project... Sheesh!

Cod fishing problems...

The International Council for the Exploration of the Sea is a scientific body that looks at ocean resources including fishing. They have been very specific about the Cod population and the fact that it is crashing from overfishing. The European Commission says: bq. "EU fishing boats should be allowed to catch the same amount of North Sea cod in 2004 as they were allowed this year" From New Scientist EU COmmission report (PDF)
from New Scientist bq. "The worry is that if too much attention is paid to unsafe injections it will take away from the message about sexual transmission," says James Whitworth at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, who backs the WHO position. Another fear is that vaccination programmes will be undermined if injections are seen as risky. bq. Using the WHO's own estimate that 7.6 per cent of infections in 1988 were from dirty needles or blood transfusions, he says healthcare is to blame for 10 million infected people today. If needles cause closer to half of all infections, as Gisselquist believes, tackling the problem would have kept the epidemic confined to high-risk groups, he claims. bq. "In Asia, if we don't get that message out, the epidemic could really blow up," he warns. The WHO's own figures, based on observations in hospitals and clinics, suggest that up to 75 per cent of injections in parts of south-east Asia are carried out using unsterilised equipment, compared with just 20 per cent in sub-Saharan Africa. and more bq. Six months before the meeting, UNAIDS drew up a report, which has been seen by New Scientist, that contradicts this position. Based on a review of 23 studies, it concludes that in sub-Saharan Africa, "contaminated injections may cause between 12 and 33 per cent of new HIV infections". That is far higher than the accepted 2.5 per cent figure. bq. That report has never been published, prompting Gisselquist to accuse the WHO of ignoring evidence that does not support its views. But according to Peter Ghys of UNAIDS in Geneva, the document was a preliminary draft that has since been incorporated into a much larger summary of the evidence. That study, due to be published early next year, will support the WHO estimate of about 2.5 per cent. Sickening stuff - politics should not be getting in the way of health care and health care people should not be playing politics...

Rumsfeld meets with Afghan Warlords

from Fox News Interesting developments - the two primary northern Afghan warlords turned in their weapons and stated that they wanted to meet with coalition forces to negotiate peace... Rumsfeld went to parlay with them. bq. Rumsfeld, making his fourth trip to Afghanistan since the Taliban's fall, met for the first time with northern Afghanistan's two major warlords, welcoming them warmly. Afterward, he said he was satisfied they were moving toward disarmament of their rival armies � a step considered critical to extending the central government's authority beyond Kabul, the capital. bq. "Each of them has initiated that process," Rumsfeld told reporters. "It's under way and that is a very good thing. At what pace it will proceed I guess remains to be seen, but we're pleased that they've agreed to do so." Tentative but wonderful steps towards peace.

Fun Facts about Liberals

from Frank J.'s wonderful site Here are some: bq. Liberals hate people who are not open minded. Open minded is defined as thinking just like they think (otherwise you're evil). bq. Liberals tend to congregate on college campuses as it is a safe haven for their idiotic ideas, protecting them from scrutiny. Thus, avoid college at all costs. bq. Liberals are invulnerable to reason and logic. They are vulnerable to firearms, knives, and the bitch slap. bq. If you see a fuel-efficient car, it's probably being driven by a liberal. Run it off the road with your SUV. bq. Even if you satisfy liberals� demands, they'll come up with new thing to complain about that you could never even imagine; they�re just that creative. That creativity is put towards much better use as forced labor in a coal mine. Good stuff...

Ten foods you should not eat

Here is an interesting list of ten foods you should not eat and why... Granola???

Back home again

We just arrived in town this evening. Getting ready for bed and for work tomorrow. Blogging will continue then.

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